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Hitler: One Year After

(February 1934)

From The Militant, Vol. VII No. 6, 2 February 1934, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

With the whole of Germany oppressed under the iron heel of Fascism, Adolph Hitler celebrated the first anniversary of his appointment as Chancellor of the Reich on January 30th.

One year of bloody rule ... the destruction of the Communist and Social Democratic parties, the wiping out of all trade unions and workers organizations, the persecution of the Jews, the suppression of all opposition in the camp ot the master class: the Nationalist-Monarchists, the Catholic Center, elements in the Protestant church and the storm troops ... tens of thousands in concentration camps, countless others in prisons and jails ... bloody oppression and exploitation – that is the present set-up in the year one of German Fascism.

Hitlerism in the Saddle

With unparalleled rapidity, Hitler has consolidated his power. At the end of January 1933 he became Chancellor. On March 5th the German people were terrorized and cajoled to participate in his Bonapartist plebiscite. With the so-called “democratic mandate” of the people he immediately proceeded to illegalize the Communist party – by employing the notorious Reichstag fire as a pretext. Soon the Social Democratic party was suppressed. The trade unions were the next victims of Hitler’s dictatorship. On May 1st the socialist leaders of the unions were arrested, then the funds of tge union were confiscated. Several months later the unions were completely abolished. The factory councils suffered the same fate.

With the militant working class crushed, Hitler took steps against his allies of the Hugenburg-Nationalist camp. The Steel Helmets were integrated with Hitler’s storm troops. The Nationalists were either won over to the fascist party or ousted from the government and all official posts. After one year, Hitler has full control over the entire field unchallenged by any serious force.

What it took Mussolini and his Italian Fascist bands four years to accomplish – and then only after bloody street fights and conflicts – Hitler has accomplished in months. The young Italian Communist Party, despite Mussolini’s desires, could not be suppressed or made illegal until 1926. Trade unions, independent of the caricature Fascist unions, were being built years after Mussolini s victory. The Italian workers fought militantly against the consolidation of fascism.

Workers Left Leaderless

An entirely different picture in Germany! The workers with tongue in cheek are compelled to shout: Heil Hitler! Depressed and downhearted, they are still passive and inactive. Hitler’s victory was easy sailing for him – after years of treachery by the Social Democracy and criminal blunders on the part of the stalinized Communist party. The workers were left leaderless during the offensive of Fascism against their organizations, living conditions and very lives.

All this disputes the empty and bureaucratic boasting of the Stalinists. They called the Mueller, the Von Papen and Von Schleicher governments – Fascist. Now any worker can see what a real Fascist regime means! They characterized the Social Democratic party – following their master, Stalin – as “social-fascist”, that is Fascists who use socialist phrases. Fascism and social democracy are twins, they shouted; they are not antagonistic and incompatible.

Life itself has answered their stupid theory. Fascism could not tolerate even the cringing, bootlicking servants of capitalism, Social Democracy. For as is well known Social Democracy had its troops in the mass trade unions.

Within these trade unions, Social Democracy had a free rein. The Stalinists organized their pure, “revolutionary” trade unions isolated from the workers. Despite paper resolutions on work in the mass trade unions, no real work was conducted. How could a revolutionary party be effective in such a developed industrial country as Germany with no support among the organized workers, in the trade unions?

The United Front

United front of all workers organizations? Never a united front with social Fascists, was the reply of these self-acclaimed leaders of the workers. The Socialist workers are being won over ... the united front only “from below” is having great success ... the Communist party has as many workers following it – claimed Thaelmann after the elections of July 1933 – as the Social Democratic party ... Hitler could not last for any length of time. Such were the reports spread by the self-satisfied Stalinist apparatus.

By their policies they played into the hand of the Social Democratic leaders and the Fascists. The Socialist leaders were able to keep control over their members; the latter had no confidence whatever in the Stalinists. The Fascists were able to utilize this sharp division within the working class.

The working class of Germany and the workers of the entire world suffered a serious and historical defeat. It is not a question of weeks before the working class movement will once again arise. The small heroic illegal Communist and revolutionary socialist groups functioning in Germany are isolated from the masses. It will take time before the workers once again organize their forces, their trade unions and party.

Fascism Doomed

But struggle they will, struggle they must! Fascism cannot solve the crises of capitalism – it can postpone the decisive struggle, it can make the road costlier and harder. The decisive problem is the re-assembling of the truly revolutionary forces for the construction of a new Communist party in Germany – a section of the new international Communist party. Towards this end all militant workers must bend their efforts. By this means the bloody barbarous regime of the German Nazis will be crushed and the way paved for a Soviet Germany.

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