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German Sketches

(April 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 19 (Whole No. 115), 7 May 1932, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

While the editorials of the Permanente Revolution permit the foreign comrades to get a good view of the fundamental lines of development in Germany, we should like to supplement them with the following few character sketches, so as to lend concreteness to the picture.

Minister of the Interior Groener

The most typical and the most prominent representative of the present method of domination of the German bourgeoisie is undoubtedly this Suabian general who conceals beneath his demonstrative mufti the good old Prussian warrior heart. The head of the government, the Catholic Bruening, remains in the background, in line with the very best Jesuit traditions. It is preferable for them to have the General act as the symbol of the successes, and in the last analysis, of the failures of the regime of emergency decrees. The German bourgeoisie – which is still attempting to veer in its course between Fascism and democracy and is therefore forced, as never before, to conduct a policy of negotiations, of betrayals, of masked brutality – could not have found a better representative than this imperial general who was elastic enough, on the day of the collapse of the Empire, to save himself through an immediate and determined collaboration with the people whom he only yesterday had called traitors to the country, with the actual traitors to their class, with Ebert, Scheidemann and Co.

The policy which General and Minister of the Interior Groener carried out in the 14 days that intervened between the first and second ballots of the presidential elections, permits one to get a good grasp of the present as well as of the future orientation of the German bourgeoisie. In these weeks there took place the “sensational exposures” of Severing regarding the putschist plans of the Nazis, Groener, who is still in power – today, perhaps together with the social democrats and tomorrow most certainly, together with the Nazis is doing everything to discredit and to cow his faithful social democrats. Coolly smiling, he declared that these plans had also been

made known to him, but that they had not particularly excited him. He negotiated with the Nazis in their complaints against Severing, although he has always very glibly referred to them as people guilty of high treason. He openly handed a rebuff to the representative of Severing before the state court. He negotiated with the Brunswick Nazi government and has, without being in any way contradicted, assured them of his accord with their policy. He did not take the slightest measures against the so-called crown prince, who according to ancient Hohenzollern custom, broke his “word of honor” regarding his non-participation in politics and who openly agitated with the feeble means which his very intense adventures have left him, for the election of Hitler.

Only after Groener had been praised a short few weeks ago as a hearth of democracy by the social democrats and only after he had undertaken all these measures to strengthen Hitler and to weaken the social democracy, when he had already been able to get the results of the second ballot – for Groener is a very cautious gentleman – only then did he proceed to “prohibit” Hitler’s private army, the Storm Divisions (S.A. Sturm Abteilungen).

We must not nurture too many illusions over this “prohibition”. It took place days after the Nazis had been informed about everything, that is, after they had safely been able to bring everything that was of any value for them in this military apparatus – underground. Since their party apparatus can continue to function legally, the proscription has not weakened the Nazis in the least, as the increased terroristic acts against persons, buildings, meetings within the last few days indisputably prove. Aside from this, the act of Groener has once more given them the halo of the only honest fighters against the present system in the eyes of many among the unemployed and in this manner, they have received considerable aid for their campaign in the Prussian elections. On the other hand, it has enabled Hitler to rid himself of the organizational influence of dissatisfied and unreliable elements who were concentrated precisely in these Storm Divisions. It may also be assumed that the proscription will disappear shortly after the Prussian elections.

The S.P.G. has likewise been strengthened considerably in its election campaign through this act, especially in so far as the C.P.G. is concerned. But the S.P. has paid dearly enough for this advantage. The real price they have paid is not yet known, but we can already hear today, that it will “voluntarily” dissolve its Reichsbanner. The Austrian game with “general disarmament” is being repeated. While the Fascists will within a short time be in a position to reconstruct their armed divisions, the reformist organizations will stand at the end of this whole comedy, disorganized and with empty hands.

These are the undisputed and lasting results of the apparently contradictory, glamorous policy of Groener, treacherous in every respect against all parties involved.

Berlin, April 17, 1932


Other sketches will appear in the forthcoming issues of The Militant.

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Last updated: 14.6.2013