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Albert Gates

Some Dangerous Lies About
the German Working People

(April 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 15 [should be No. 14], 2 April 1945, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The onward rush of Allied armies through the Reich and the evident collapse of the German armies in the West puts the question of “Hard or Soft Peace?” for Germany on the order of the day.

The official policy of the Allies, as stated in their meetings at Moscow, Teheran, Quebec and recently emphasized at Yalta, calls for the “hard peace” – dismemberment of Germany, heavy reparations and the enslavement of millions of workers. The official details are lacking, but the suggestions are not.

A great campaign is now going on to convince the peoples in the Allied countries to: support the enslavement of the German masses. The arguments for the destruction of the country and the enslavement of its millions are false and hypocritical, especially when they are advocated by the international Stalinists.

We are now being told that the German people are by nature brutes, militarists, sensualists and murderers. If this were true, then anything that is done to the German people would be justified. Thereby another tragedy is being prepared for a country which once boasted the largest and most advanced labor movement in the world.

The tragedies of the German people have been many. The defeat of the German revolution of 1918–19 made possible the continued, rule of German capitalism, of the industrialists and financiers, the Junkers and the militarists. German reaction, aided by social-democracy and international capitalism, retained its power and prepared the tragedy of Hitler, but not without the help of Stalin and his Russian bureaucracy.

Stalinist Hypocrisy

In 1923, the German revolution was betrayed by Stalin in his own national interests by calling off the German revolution. This defeat opened the way for the development of Nazism.

In 1932, Stalin again pursued such policies in Germany as guaranteed the victory of the frightful fascist movement, which had suffered a sharp electoral defeat. The policy of the Stalinist Communists was: No united struggle against Hitler. They stated that they could not unite with the social-democrats in a common struggle against fascism because the social-democrats were a greater danger to Germany than Hitlerism. They even welcomed the victory of the Brown Shirts because fascist totalitarianism would prepare the masses for a Stalinist dictatorship, saying: “After the fascists comes our turn.”

In 1939, Stalin made his alliance with Hitler which began the Second World War and heaped the most devastating of all tragedies upon the world, and the German masses, Behind the actions of Stalin’s Russia stood international capitalism supporting Hitler, financing him in part and doing business with the German capitalists whom Hitler served. Now all these forces which are jointly responsible for Hitler try to absolve themselves of their crimes by holding the German people responsible for fascism and its deeds. The loudest of all are the Stalinists – and for good reason: the German workers have many things for which to repay Stalinism.

Responsibility of the People

The most insidious doctrine that comes put of the war is the one which holds the peoples responsible for the crimes of their rulers. The German people and, in the first place, the workers are no more responsible for the war than are the masses in England, America, France arid Russia: In all these countries the rulers are responsible for the tragedy of the war.

Did the workers put Hitler into power? Did the people agree to Hitler’s early seizure of European countries? Did the masses create the Munich peace? Or are the Russian workers responsible for the Hitler-Stalin pact? Are the Russian workers and the German workers responsible for the German-Russian invasion of Poland? Are the American workers responsible for lynchings? Are the British workers responsible for India? Or, to put it so simply that even the Stalinist dunces can understand it: Are the Chicago workers responsible for the Memorial Day massacres of the striking steel workers?

The people in general and the workers in particular cannot be held responsible for the crimes of their ruling classes and their governments. That is one of the important teachings of socialism. Only those who identify the interests of the capitalists and workers, rich and poor, exploiter and exploited as one can uphold such an insidious theory.

In all the situations cited, the people had nothing to say. The state power, the instrument of the ruling classes, decided! They and they alone are responsible for the crimes of capitalist imperialism in whatever country they may rule.

It is good old capitalist doctrine, however, to hold the people responsible for the evils which the rulers commit. Therefore the mass of people pay for the wars started by their rulers, while the capitalists go on coining their profits as before.

In all the discussions of the United Nations on Germany, not one word is said about the German industrialists. The liberal commentators are somewhat upset when they learn that the big monopolists and financiers will retain their pre-war power to continue as though nothing has happened in the world in the past ten years.

The reason for this is that the capitalist rulers of America and England cannot afford to do anything to their brother rivals in Germany. They are partners in crime. The war for profit, for which millions of people give their lives, is only a friendly contest between the great corporations and cartels of the warring countries. Once over, the business men of the warring countries resume their peacetime operations as though nothing had happened!

Stalin Wants Slave Labor

Stalin’s Russia has accepted this principle of the capitalist nations for its own purpose, its own particular brand of imperialistic aims. And Stalin is the one who demands, German lave labor. Having enslaved the Russian workers, he sees nothing wrong with enslaving ten million German workers.

In justification for this, the Stalinists now say that all the German people and all the German workers are Nazis. One of the dirtiest of their scribblers, a follower of the GPU, one who calls himself Hans Berger, writes repeatedly in the Daily Worker, the most vulgar, scurrilous and reactionary articles on the German workers. He who helped betray the German workers calls all of them fascists and tauntingly asks: If they are not, why don’t they revolt against Hitler now? A man who helped put the chains on the German workers asks why these chained and enslaved workers do not revolt now!

Ilya Ehrenburg, habitué of the Paris cafes, enemy of the Russian Revolution of Lenin and Trotsky and new-found friend of Stalin’s slave state, refers to all Germans as Fritzes, brewers, brainless people.

But these scoundrels, in denouncing the German workers, omit this most important fact about the German workers and their fascist rulers:

Hitler’s Germany is a prison camp. It is a police state in which the people, and first of all the workers, live under the daily supervision of the Gestapo. They work with guns pointed at them. The concentration camps and the police jails are filled with thousands of militant workers. The masses are constantly hounded by Himmlcr’s corps of SS men.

Yet the question “Why don’t you revolt?” is asked by craven men who fled when they should have fought Hitler, when there was the time and a possibility of fighting and defeating him.

Where was Hans Berger before Hitler took power? What did he do and what did he say and advise the German workers to do in 1930, 1931 and 1932? What did Browder tell the German workers to do? What did Wilhelm Pieck, German Stalinist leader in Moscow, do when it was possible to fight? Or Fritz Heckert, a leader of the German Communist Party? All these miscreants helped to make the Germans slaves of Hitler. They only did in Germany what the Stalinist-Communists did in China, Spain and France: they betrayed the German revolution, not once, but twice.

These men who supported the Hitler-Stalin alliance and denounced the war as imperialist on the part of England, France and America only, who denounced Roosevelt as a war-monger, and who issued the slogan, “The Yanks are not coming,” have become super-patriots in all countries only because they are Russian nationalist-patriots and only because Stalin and Hitler fell out in their alliance.

The German masses will fight. There are signs now of their growing rebelliousness. News is beginning to come out of Germany that workers’ committees have made their appearances in Essen, Muelheim, Duesseldorf and Dortmund. Peace demonstrations are reported in Hamburg, Duisburg, Vienna and Munich. Unity between German and foreign workers has also been reported. We are certain that the German masses will soon display that will to struggle and their healthy working class desires which always characterized them.

This is only the beginning. The German masses will not only fight their fascist enslavers. They will fight against any foreign-enslaver. They will not trade their enslavement by a Hitler for an enslavement by a Stalin.

We are for a hard peace. We are for a hard peace against the fascists and the German capitalists, the sponsors of the Hitlerites. But that hard peace can only come from the German workers.

We are against any peace imposed on the German people. We are for the right of the German people to rule themselves, to decide their own fate.

The German workers are our brothers. Their struggle for freedom is our struggle. A victory in this struggle is a victory for the American workers, for the workers of all countries.

Enslavement of the German workers will mean the enslavement of the workers of all other countries; it will be a death-blow to the idea of working class solidarity and the principles of the labor movement.

American workers! Fight against the enslavement of your German brothers. They are the victims of German fascism! They are the victims of betrayals! For a hard peace against the German ruling class! That can only come by giving the German masses freedom to deal with their own ruling class.

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