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Socialist Appeal, 2 March 1940

Oscar Fischer

Fritz Thyssen – Why He Fled from Germany

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. IV No. 9, 2 March 1940, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


For several months now Fritz Thyssen has been in self-imposed exile – the same Thyssen who, second only to Krupp, was the most powerful representative of German heavy industry and at the same time one of the most generous contributors to Hitler’s party.

Seldom has the crisis of Hitler’s dictatorship been shown in sharper and clearer lines than in the emigration of this unscrupulous profiteer, who with his friends among the lords of the Rhineland heavy industry financed Hitler’s initial rise to power.

The more the war brings the internal condition of Germany into the open, the more “national unity” is shown to be a pure Goebbels fable, the more we hear the voice of the German masses rising in an ever strengthening crescendo of hate against the fascist bandits. The belief that fascism has before it a rule of a thousand years is belied by every straw in the wind; Thyssen has deserted the ship and safe in Switzerland, awaits its sinking.

Thyssen is by no means against a war. German imperialism was always pointed toward war. Its imperialist program was the realization of the “Drang Nach Osten,” and to carry through this program was to have been Hitler’s role. The men who gave the Nazis financial support before their seizure of power were, in general from the ranks of finance capitalists. After the experiences of the last world war, they wanted, with the help of England and France, and whenever possible the United States, to avoid the risk of another war. German imperialism hoped to arrive at a compromise, if not an actual alliance, at the expense of the Soviet Union. And Hitler was to have been the commander-in-chief of this war against the U.S.S.R. That was his historical role; it was for that that he had been underwritten; it was for that that the state power had been surrendered to him.

But Hitler has not fulfilled the expectations of his underwriters. Out of the expected destruction of Russia has come a partnership. Germany has once more become engaged in a war, whose outcome is in the highest degree unpredictable, which entails a great risk of defeat or internal collapse. Hitler has destroyed the prestige that fascism had among the owning classes of all countries as the vanguard in the fight against “bolshevism”.

Partnership Offers Too Little

The rule of the Stalinist bureaucracy is certainly not more secure than that of the Hitler clique. Both face the danger of internal convulsions, and both face the probability that they will not be able to survive these convulsions.

For Thyssen, then, there is every reason to seek a new and better security. It would be false to assume that Thyssen emigrated merely because of personal desire and as an individual. He is not so much an emigrant as an emissary, a representative of a whole stratum of the German bourgeoisie, to work for the security of German capitalism.

There can be no doubt that Thyssen, and those whose agent he is, are seeking an understanding with England and France. And in this they are not seeking what is not to be found. It is well known that England and France are not conducting the war in order to replace Hitler with a socialist Germany. More, if they were certain that after Hitler could come only a social revolution, they would make peace today. They hesitated long enough before risking the war and were much more concerned with alleviating Hitler’s problems as much as possible. Some of these negotiations have already been made public, and more still are to be found in the secret files of diplomacy.

Hitler’s Aid for Britain’s

All attempts of the German bourgeoisie to come to an understanding with England and France over the head of Hitler must depend on the kind of state that will follow Hitler. It is noteworthy that the only point of her war aims on which England has openly insisted is that Hitler must go. Evidently the matter is handled thus in order not to exclude an understanding with the German bourgeoisie and military clique.

Hitler therefore is no longer a very stable partner of Stalin; it is quite possible that he will not survive the war. In that event all that will remain of the pact with Stalin is a petty bargaining point in the hands of the German bourgeoisie in reaching an agreement with England. They will peddle Stalin’s friendship against improved business relations with England and France. And apparently Thyssen has full power to speak for the group he represents concerning these business relations and a turn in German politics: a new post-Hitler capitalist Germany will eventually also require its Lebensraum. This is already understood by England and France; the Lebensraum must only be in the east. Germany must assist England and France in opening up the east and making it accessible to the “civilized world”.

The interests of German capitalism are not always and at every point identical with the interests of the fascist bureaucracy. There is a differentiation when the acts of the dictatorship, being no longer able to guarantee it, endanger the existence of the capitalist commercial set-up. In the face of such a danger capitalism immediately seeks another support to prevent a social revolution. This point is now drawing near. Thyssen’s emigration is a search for that other support.

The “emigrant” Thyssen – he is rather the ambassador of a Germany that put itself under the protection of fascist bands and is now for their liquidation; he is the symbol of brutal exploitation and oppression (no less “democratic” than fascist). This personage speaks of a new Germany – a Germany in which the plunder of the masses will be permanently established. Decisive for him is that he can no longer believe in the terror of the Hitler bands as a guarantee for the exploitation of the German people. And that is why he is endeavoring to secure English and French guarantees.

Hitler has expropriated the property of Thyssen. Who would want to fight for the overthrow of Hitler only in order to give Thyssen back his former power? On. the contrary, this expropriation must be carried through and maintained in the coming Germany.

The dependence of Thyssen and his class upon French bayonets will be proved as false as their hope in Hitler; they will see their Drang nach Osten not completed but swept away without a trace. The future of Germany and of Europe demand it.

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