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E. Bauer

German Sketches

(April 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 20 (Whole No. 116), 14 May 1932, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Lieutenant Scheringer

These days, the former Reichswehr lieutenant, Scheringer, was sentenced to an additional two and a half years of fortress confinement by the Reich’s Court for so-called Literary High Treason. This is a purely arbitrary act, an act of revenge on the part of the bourgeoisie against an outsider who is striving toward Communism. It is an act that demands the sharpest protest from all proletarians, one that casts ample light on brutal class justice in Germany. But for Communists, the question cannot end there. For, it is also a question of ideological struggle against all those who wipe out the boundaries between Fascism and Communism and it has become a vital question for the Communist party at a moment when at least 200,000 followers of the C.P.G. voted Fascist in the second ballot of the presidential elections. But Scheringer, whose pamphlets have been far more spread as texts for the younger generation of the C.P.G. than the Communist Manifesto, is the ideological pioneer of this development. Scheringer is not even today a Communist, but a National-Bolshevik L. Trotsky wrote very correctly about him in August 1931:

“Scheringer and Stenbeck-Fermor (another recent national-Bolshevik proselyte – Ed.) regard the task of the Communist party very graciously as that of a direct continuation of the Hohenzollern war. They are prepared – temporarily in words – to accept the ‘people’s revolution’, if it can serve them as a means of mobilizing the workers for their ‘revolutionary’ war.”

Three months ago, at a public meeting in Berlin, in which the present writer was the speaker, Count Stenbock-Fermor raised a hue and cry about Trotsky’s “calumniation” of Scheringer. But for a clarification of the actual state of affairs, it is sufficient to quote what Scheringer – whom we cannot deny a clear, firm and incorruptible character – said on April 8, 1932 before court:

“For me the desire of national liberation was the point of departure that led to my development toward Communism. As long as the working class is oppressed by the capitalists of Germany itself, a national liberation is impossible.

“Only social liberation will give the laboring people a fatherland and this social liberation can be attained only by the revolutionary working class under the leadership of the Communist party. That is also the way by which we shall come to national liberation.”

The words of Karl Liebknecht: “Our enemy is in our own country” are given this variation by Scheringer: “Our enemy is not in Russia, but in the capitalist West.”

But the Rote Fahne and its Brandlerist lick-spittles far from carefully and tactfully criticising this declare it to be 100 per cent Bolshevism. It is being proved more and more that it was not Scheringer who came to the party, but the party who came to Scheringer. Today, when the fruits of tins fatal development are already becoming visible, the warning words of L.D. Trotsky in August 1931 are doubly appropriate:

“The party may, of course, utilize even such individual metamorphoses as a means of disintegrating the camp of the Fascists. The crime of the Stalinist bureaucracy – yes, the direct crime – consists in this: that it declares its solidarity with these elements, that it identifies the voice of the party with their voices, that it renounces the exposures of their nationalist and militarist tendencies, that it transforms the thoroughly petty bourgeois, reactionary-utopian and chauvinist pamphlet of Scheringer into a new bible of the proletariat.”

Comrade Pruegel

It is hard to assume that before April 10, anyone outside of East Reinickendorf, a working class district of Berlin, ever heard of comrade Pruegel, and it is hard to assume that he will play a very great role in the future. He is one of those hundreds of small functionaries, who, after five years of graveyard silence in the party, has dared in an unclear, timid but nevertheless distinct voice to get up against the bureaucrats in a membership meeting, to reject the blabber about the guilt of the members for the defeats of the party and to begin to discuss the political mistakes of the party leadership, particularly in the question of the united front. That is why this unfortunate comrade Pruegel serves the bureaucrat Ulbricht, the “leader of the Berlin proletariat”, as scapegoat to the extent of a whole page in the Rote Fahne of April 10. The bureaucracy is beginning to feel the ground tremble under their feelt. They are faced with an elementary unrest which led to such outbreaks at the Berlin party workers conference after the first ballot in the recent presidential elections, that the conference had to be adjourned and the next one packed with especially picked people. (Permanente Revolution published documents on this affair.) The bureaucracy is pouncing on these nameless functionaries with a mixed feeling of hatred and fear. They want to uproot the germs, they want to crush these nameless objectors before the Opposition finds leaders with names.

Externally, the party shows, despite the heavy defeats, as yet a firm and fear, less appearance. Internally, the disintegration has reached an extraordinary degree. The spirit of ideological and actual capitulation, raised on the garbage heap of the “national program”, has taken the form of numbers in the 200,000 voters who went over from Thaelmann to Hitler in the run-off elections. In the party itself it has long been obvious. The sympathies of the unemployed Communists for the “honest, active” Nazis, the readiness with which they discuss with them and not with the social democratic workers, the anxious and almost sympathetic reading of the Nazi press, the open opinion that Hitler should be voted for “in order to hasten the decision” – all these are enough alarm signals.

All this will, however, force the Pruegels, if we take Pruegel as an example, to throw off their reservedness. Already five units in Berlin-Charlottenburg have adopted a resolution against social Fascism with a crushing majority. The workers’ Opposition is beginning to bear fruit. We greet those nameless fighters who no longer fear the filthy attacks of the bureaucracy. Only in their struggle lies the guarantee for the salvation of the party and for victory.

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