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Crimes of Stalin

Lydia Beidel

The Crimes of Stalin

Stalin and Hitler’s Seizure of Power, 1931–33

(13 December 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 50, 13 December 1941, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).


In Germany: By 1931, German economy fell to such a low level that the United States had to intervene in order to save German capitalism. Unemployment and hunger were rampant. The mood of the proletariat and lower middle class was explosive. The Social Democratic Party maintained its hold upon a dominant section of the workers and continued its policy of depending on the “liberal” capitalists to solve the workers’ problems. The strength of the Communist Party grew, but because of the sectarian and adventurist policies of the “Third Period,” not at the rate made possible by the growing economic political crisis.

The Weimar Republic was bankrupt; cabinet followed cabinet in rapid succession, each moving further to the right.

The Rise of Nazism

The last hope of the capitalist class was the Nazis. This party mobilized the desperate, ruined middle class in the service of monopoly capital. By demagogic promises to solve their problems, the Nazis got middle class support for attacks on the workers’ organizations.

The Nazis, financed by big business, grew rapidly. They increased their strength by more than 5 million votes in the period from 1928 to 1930, polling 6,406,397 votes in the Reichstag elections of the latter year. In March 1932, Hitler received 11,338,571 votes, while in April of the same year Hitler got over 13,000,000 votes.

Reaction of the Stalinists in Germany

In 1930, after the election figures showed such a large increase in support for Hitler, the official organ of the C.P. of Germany said:

“14th of September (election day) was the high point of the National Socialist movement of Germany. What comes after this can only be decline and fall.”

In 1932, Remmele, a C.P. deputy in the Reichstag, stated (on October 14):

“... once they (the fascists) are in power, then the united front of the proletariat will be established and it will make a clean sweep of everything ... We are not afraid of the fascist gentlemen. They will shoot their bolt quicker than any other government.”

Trotsky’s Warnings

Trotsky and the Left Opposition warned of the need for a united front of the workers’ organizations against the fascists. This was the crux of the matter. After Hitler came to power, it would be too late; what was necessary was the formation of a united front so that Hitler never would be able to come to fewer.

During this period, Leon Trotsky, forced into exile by Stalin to Prinkipo, Turkey, wrote several masterly documents on Germany. In Germany, the Key to the International Situation (December 1931) he condemned the false policies of the C.P. leadership, warned that a victory of fascism in Germany would lay the basis for war upon the Soviet Union, and proposed the institution of a militant united front of action between the Communist and Social Democratic Parties.

A later work (September 1932) entitled The Only Road for Germany, was a brilliant analysis of the German situation, and presented the program for defeating fascism.

Stalin Shackles Workers Before Hitler

In place of instituting a movement for a united front of the two workers parties, the Stalinists shackled the workers with the theory of “social fascism”. Instead of seeing that the social democracy as a reformist workers’ organization was bitterly opposed to and incompatible with fascism, the Stalinists claimed that social democracy was a form of fascism, was social fascism. Therefore they refused to form a united front with the “social fascists” (social democrats) against the fascists and the workers were left disunited.

In place of a real united front, the Stalinists said to the Socialist workers: “Let us form a united front, not from organization to organization, but from below, and against your leaders.” But since the Social Democratic workers still had confidence in their leaders, they refused. In this way, Stalin sabotaged the effort to form a united front of workers organizations differing in ideas, for common action against fascism, by his burlesque “united front from below.”

Fascism Takes Power

On July 20, 1932, Chancellor Von Papen dismissed and arrested two Socialist officials. The masses were ready for action, but no call for it came from their leaders.

Taking this inaction as a signal for assault, the Nazis increased their offensive, murdering 25 workers during the weekend of July 31. Still the leadership of the two workers’ parties remained passive. Terror raged against the workers.

Hitler, on January 30, 1933, became Chancellor of Germany.

The C.P. issued a perfunctory call for general strike, for which no preparation had been made; nothing came of it.

In March, Hitler staged the Reichstag fire and used it as a pretext to outlaw the Communist party.

May 1, the workers’ holiday, was celebrated by the Nazis with the launching of a systematic campaign of extermination of all workers’ organizations.

End of the Communist International

On April 1, 1933, the Communist International declared “that the political line and the organizational policy pursued by the Central Committee of the C.P. of Germany ... before and at the time of the Hitler coup, was quite correct.”

The C.P. of Germany was dismembered and driven underground. Hitlerism was in power. The defense of the Soviet Union was immeasurably weakened. Stalin had cracked one of the strongest sections of the organized revolutionary movement of the capitalist world. With the German defeat, the Communist International was ended as a progressive workers organization.

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