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The Militant, 12 May 1945

Trotsky Was First to Warn of Nazism

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 19, 12 May 1945, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The course of events in Europe have given terrible confirmation to Trotsky’s repeated warnings of the dangers of fascism. Before Hitler came to power, the statesmen of the capitalist “democracies” viewed the rise of fascism with sympathy, while the heads of the Social-Democratic and Stalinist organisations retreated without fighting before the onslaught of the Nazi gangs. Trotsky on the other hand sounded the. alarm from the very beginning. Here is one of his first warnings in 1931:

“The decisive hour is very close ... The coming into power of the German ‘National Socialists’ would mean above all the extermination of the flower of the German proletariat, the disruption of its organizations, the extirpation of its belief in itself and in its future. Considering the far greater maturity and acuteness of the social contradictions in Germany, the hellish work of Italian Fascism would probably appear as a pale and almost humane experiment in comparison with the work of the German National Socialists ... The struggle of the proletariat, taken unawares, disorientated, disappointed and betrayed by its own leadership, against the Fascist regime would be transformed into a series of frightful bloody and futile convulsions ...

“It goes without saying, that some day triumphant Fascism will fall as a victim to the objective contradictions and to its own inadequacy. But for the immediate, perceptible future, for the next ten to twenty years, a victory of Fascism in Germany would mean a suspension in the development of revolutionary progress, collapse of the Comintern and the triumph of world imperialism in its most heinous and bloodthirsty forms.” (Germany – The Key to the International Situation, 1931)

Even before Hitler came to power Trotsky warned he would attack the Soviet Union:

“A victory of Fascism in Germany would signify the inevitable war against the USSR ... Once Hitler comes into power and proceeds to crush the vanguard of the German workers, pulverizing and demoralizing the whole proletariat for many years to come, the Fascist government alone will be the only government capable of waging war against the USSR. Naturally, it will act under such circumstances in a common front with Poland and Rumania, with the other border states as well as with Japan in the Far East.” (Germany – The Key to the International Situation, 1931.)

As Hitler moved toward power, Trotsky, the founder of the Red Army, made a dramatic appeal to the Soviet Government to initiate a militant defense:

“In my opinion this is how the Soviet government OUGHT to act in case of a Fascist coup in Germany. Upon receiving the telegraphic communication of this event I would, in their place, sign an order for the mobilization of the army reserves. When you have a mortal enemy before you, and when war flows with necessity from the logic of the objective situation, it would be unpardonable light-mindedness to give that enemy time to establish and fortify himself, conclude the necessary alliances, receive the necessary help, work out a plan of concentric military actions- – not only from the west but from the east – and thus grow up to the dimensions of a colossal danger.” (Article in Liberty, July 16, 1932.)

Warn of War and Attack on USSR

After Hitler took power, many people thought he would not last long. Trotsky saw instead that Hitler was the harbinger of another world war:

“Simply to say that Hitler is a demagogue, an hysterical person and an actor is to shut one’s eyes so as not to face the danger! It takes more than hysteria to seize power, and method there must be in the Nazi madness. Woe to those who do not awaken to this fact in. time! The leaders of German working class organizations refused to take Hitler seriously: considering his program as a reactionary and Utopian one they proved incapable of estimating its force of action. Today, as a result of their ghastly mistake, their organizations have been shattered to bits. The same error might be repeated in the field of world politics.” (What Hitler Wants, 1933)

In face of the hope that Mussolini might become involved in conflict with Hitler, Trotsky pointed to the reality. Hitler, Trotsky said, was seeking allies.

“Hitler is counting upon the support of Italy and, within certain limits, this is assured him, not so much because their internal governments are similar – the purely German Third Reich is, as is known, a frankly Latin plagiarism – as because of the parallelism in many of their foreign aspirations. But with the Italian crutch alone, German imperialism will not rise to its feet. Only under the condition of support from England can Fascist Germany gain the necessary freedom of movement.” (What Hitler Wants, 1933)

Chamberlain, as the world knows, later appeased Hitler at Munich, thus fulfilling Trotsky’s prediction. But looking still further ahead, Trotsky foresaw a temporary pact between Stalin and Hitler:

“Hitler is preparing for war. His policy in the domain of economics is dictated primarily by concern over the maximum economic independence of Germany in case of war. To the aims of military preparation must also be subordinated the service of obligatory labor. But the very character of these measures indicates that it is not a question of tomorrow. An attack upon the West in the more or less immediate future could be carried out only on condition of a military alliance between Fascist Germany and the Soviets.” (What Hitler Wants, 1933)

While Hitler deluded the Allied statesmen with gestures over disarmament, Trotsky again and again warned that the main line of Hitler’s policy was directed toward war and attack of the Soviet Union.

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