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E. Bauer

German Political Scene

(February 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 10 (Whole No. 106), 5 March 1932, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

BERLIN, Feb. 16, 1932

The terrible effects of the crisis, increasing in its intensity, are apparent to all. At present, the articles of the American reporter, Knickerbocker, are making their way through the world press. It must be said that he does not exaggerate at all. The growing on the streets daily: a symptom of the constantly spreading misery. But even those who do have work, find it impossible to live a normal life on their ever more and more reduced “wages”.

Under these circumstances it is rather astonishing, on first consideration, that no strikes whatsoever broke out at the time of the last wage cut, in January, despite the fact that the C.P.G. agitated for strikes with all its forces, once again sacrificed a good number of the few who still remain with it in the factories. But the cause here is the same as that for the lack of all the other activities. By its false “third period” tactics, the party has isolated itself from the masses organized in the trade unions, who form the decisive element for any sort of action. In this manner, the masses who want to fight remain without leadership, and the leadership that wants to fight – without masses. This new bankruptcy of the trade union tactics in the course of the strike attempts in January has caused the bureaucracy to carry out a certain turn in trade union policy with increased energy; that is, all forces are now being concentrated for the work in the trade unions. But unfortunately, this work is being carried on in such a spirit that great successes cannot be expected.

Nazi Terror Increases

The most striking feature of the situation – and one should not be distracted from this by all the parliamentary maneuvers – is the growth of the National Socialist movement, if not in numbers, then in power, in spite of all the minor injuries inflicted on Hitler. The extra-parliamentary activity of the Nazis has once again taken a big bound. Only to mention two examples (which, by the way, have taken place right in the midst of Red Berlin): an assault by Nazis on a workers’ colony in Felseneck – entirely after the Italian model – and the disruption of a protest meeting attended by several thousand Communists by a few hundred Nazis. The latter case is altogether unheard of. It is the first time such a thing has happened. Here, as well as in the case of other murders of workers, and, in the scuffles at the universities it is naturally the Communists who are arrested. The Nazis are generally set free. Is it at all surprising, when Minister Groener – and that is very significant too – who still hauled Nazi officers before a court martial a year ago, today opens up the “republican” army for the Nazis? In order to round out the picture, we must also mention that the organizers of the pogrom of which we have spoken above, and in particular a certain Count Helldorf, have all been acquitted.

With regard to the presidential elections, we have reported before. It is, of course, self-evident that the Left Opposition will, as always, support the candidate of the party. The very probable renunciation of a candidacy of its own in favor of Hindenburg by the S.P.G. will naturally offer exceptionally favorable opportunities for the Communists in the election struggle. The task imposed by this, namely, to take advantage of the parliamentary gain for extra-parliamentary actions will, however, be possible only with a turn in the tactics of the C.P.

United Front Is Only Solution

The position of the S.P.G. in the presidential elections is naturally breaking up its “iron front”, created under such hopeful circumstances, almost immediately. That was a bloc of all republican organizations for a struggle against Fascism, carrying on a theatrical campaign with many well attended meetings, which had, to be sure, very little practical value for the fight against the Fascists, but did nevertheless effect the dissatisfied S.P.G. members so strongly that the growth of the Socialist Labor Party (the split-off from the S.P.G.), for example, had come to a standstill. At the present, only a united front policy, as outlined by comrade Trotsky in his latest pamphlets, is needed to drive a deep wedge into their ranks.

To report more in detail about the S.L.P.G. very much space is required, for this prototype of a Centrist party has almost as many tendencies as members. There can be no doubt that a rapid process of differentiation is going to take place within it. On the one side, in the direction of reformism, towards which a great part of the leadership doubtlessly tends, and in the direction of Communism, to which a great part of the worker members stands very close. Not a few of them will stop at Stalinist Centrism, if it will not only turn slightly in the German question. These are aided by preparatory work on the part of those Brandlerites in the S.L.P.G. who preach against criticism in the international and the Russian questions. It is well-known that the “genuine” Brandlerites themselves are on their way back to Stalin. The creation of an equal Centrist party has made their attempt at the establishment of one like it – superfluous. Part of them have gone over to the Centrist party, the others want to go back. What will become of this former part of the Brandlerites in the further course of the process of development inside the S.L.P.G., it is hard to say with certainty, in advance. The perspectives are not very good for them, since Walcher, Froelich, etc., have a very great, but nevertheless very questionable tradition (1923) behind them.

It is also quite indisputable that with even the meagre activities of the German Opposition, great parts of the S.L.P.G. will, after they have convinced themselves of the impossibility of their fundamental idea (or rather, fundamental mistakes) – the creation of a new Communist party – place themselves on the positions of the Left Opposition and fight with us to reform the party. For it is hard to describe the extraordinary popularity that comrade Trotsky enjoys within the ranks of these workers who are coming from reformism to the revolution. No wonder. These workers feel no need of the theoretical margarine of Brandler-Thalheimer or the stammering of Thaelmann; they are anxious to learn Communism at its source. This has not only instigated the Stalinists to a new campaign of slander, but even Brandler could not sleep peacefully until he too had contributed in his moribund little sheet, his compound of falsification and insults under the misleading title, “theoretical article”, which was quite worthy of a Yaroslavsky. But this will not stop the onmarch of the Trotsky pamphlets, which speak out that which millions of workers feel as a necessity.

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