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The Militant, 12 May 1945

Nazis Hounded the Trotskyists
as Mortal Foe

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 19, 12 May 1945, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


On August 25, 1939, the French Ambassador, Coulondre, called on Hitler for a last interview before the outbreak of war. In case of war, Coulondre said to Hitler, “The real victor will be Trotsky. Have you thought this over?’’

“I know ...” responded Hitler.

This remarkable conversation, printed in the well-known newspaper Paris-Soir of Aug. 31, 1939 is direct evidence that both the French statesman and Hitler considered Trotskyism, the program of socialism, the major enemy of their capitalist system.

In the underground movement against Hitler, among the most courageous and consistent fighters were Trotskyists. When the Gestapo succeeded in capturing members of the Fourth International, the news received sensational display in the official Nazi press.

Danzig Trials

In the case of the Danzig Trotskyists, for instance, the following headlines appeared in successive issues of Der Danziger Vorposten, organ of the Danzig Nazis:

These trials of the German Trotskyists by the Nazis took place at the very time that Stalin was falsely accusing the Trotskyists in the Moscow frameup trials of being “agents of Hitler!”

Struggle Against Nazis

Trotskyist refugees from Germany were hounded by the Gestapo. We publish elsewhere in this issue the story of Walter Held, a leader of the German section of the Fourth International, who was hounded from Czechoslovakia to France, then to Holland and Norway. When the German armies conquered Europe, among the first victims executed by Nazi firing squads were refugee Trotskyists and leaders of the Trotskyist movement in the occupied countries.

Despite this murderous persecution, new young Trotskyists stepped forward to take the place of the fallen heroes of socialism. In the working-class movements against the Nazis throughout Europe, the Trotskyists are known to have taken a leading part although full facts are not yet available. In Greece they were in the forefront of the struggle. The same is true of Italy, France and Belgium.

In Germany itself, the Trotskyists managed to maintain their political integrity despite titanic difficulties. In the October 1941 issue of Fourth International, theoretical magazine of the American Trotskyists, appears a report smuggled out of Germany, telling of the work done by our German comrades in the prisons and concentration camps of Hitler. Here are a few interesting paragraphs from this remarkable document:

Inside the Prisons

“Although numerically the CP (Communist Party) is most strongly represented among the politicals, our comrades are everywhere among the most politically active and clear-thinking; and where they work astutely have a relatively great influence, despite substantial opposition— under pressure of the jail system, every Stalinist name known to the masses has a double influence. Our comrades engage in a form of pedagogic exercise to be carried on inside over an extended period.

“One on the outside has no conception of the problems discussed inside by the really interested comrades. Not only the latest Stalinist change of line and its consequences, but also theoretical and actual problems of our movement. Frequently those inside sense with sharpened intuition the difficulties and matters of argument confronting their comrades outside, discuss those matters, make prognoses, and formulate political attitudes.

“Although the isolation of those inside produces the danger of their arriving at conclusions disconnected from events in an alien world, still the intense discussion inside and the correspondence from .the outside act as correctives. Perhaps some time we shall enjoy the fruit of this correspondence, penetrating the double censorship of jail and state, to sustain and inspire those working inside who in turn reinforce and enrich their meaning. It is a small contribution to the preparation of the German and international revolutions.”

This Trotskyist, reporting from Germany at the beginning of the war, concludes that “the concentration camp is in reality the graduate school of the revolution for our best forces.”

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