Gordon Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Sam Gordon

Germany Before the Elections

(February 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 9 (Whole No. 105), 27 February 1932, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The latest dispatches from Berlin report the long expected announcement of Hitler’s candidacy in the coming presidential elections to be held on March 19. The New York Times of February 24, 1932, in its editorial comment on this subject, chides the German reactionary bruskly for his “tactical mistake”. “By lining up with the venerable president of the Reich”, the Times goes on to say, “he would have added to his dimensions as a responsible statesman without surrendering anything of his prestige as a crusader.” It is quite plain that Wall Street is rather vexed with the developments in German internal policy. Reconciled for some time now with Fascist ascendancy it nevertheless dreads the thought of social convulsions conjured up by the picture of a break with “legalism” by the Nazi leader, to whose popularity with international reaction it has, of late, contributed not a little. In a combustible political atmosphere like the present, what with the rumbling of the cannon still in full swing in the Far East, every abrupt turn in the situation of any of the outstanding European countries is a cause for the greatest anxiety on the part of American capitalism already dizzily spinning in the whirlpool of the world crisis.

But, in Germany itself, it is not only the National Socialists who are orientated for sharp and open class warfare. The entire bourgeoisie is prepared for it, knows that it must come, and lends the most direct aid to the Fascists in their aims. Only a short two weeks ago, Groener, Hindenburg’s Minister of the Reichswehr lifted the ban against National Socialists in the army, an act equivalent to an open offer of military collaboration with the Hitler hordes. A German newspaper, the Spandauer Volksblatt, brings an even more interesting report:

“For weeks, intensive military exercises are being held on the parade grounds of Doeberitz (near Berlin). The participants in these exercises are National Socialists. As many as 3,000 men have been counted at each field day in the course of the last few weeks ... The exercises take place on the property of the Reichswehr. In front of the entrances, soldiers stand on guard. These are entrances bearing signs to the effect that civilians can pass only with the permission of the commander ...”

In addition to all this, there is, of course, the Nazi terror in the proletarian quarters, which goes on unabated, without any interference on the part of the police. On the other hand, all attempts of the working class to take measures against this terror, are put down without much ado, no matter from what section or tendency they arise. In one of his proclamations to the army, the same Groener declares:

“I will never tolerate the preparation of an auxiliary militia, as it has been spoken of in certain Reichs Banner (reformist) circles ... Such organizations lead in the last instance, to workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils and similar revolutionary formations.”

It must be remembered, in passing, that the Reichs Banner is not even as exclusively working class organization by the composition of its membership. But the fact alone that the Reichs Banner does include a great many social democratic workers, makes it insufferable to this minister of the “democratic German Republic”, for which the Scheidemanns and the Eberts saw fit to destroy the flower of the German proletariat in 1919.

While the Fascists are feverishly preparing for their attack behind the scenes, the attention of the entire German nation is occupied by the forthcoming elections. The Fascists have selected Hitler, the Centre and the middle parties Hindenburg, and the Communists Thaelmann for their respective presidential candidates. The social democrats are chiefly concerned with ways and means of making the former Hohenzollern Field Marshall acceptable enough for the workers in their ranks, as the defender of democracy! This despicable aim of the social democrats, which falls in line with their entire tradition of working class betrayals, is one that stands open to successful attack on the part of the German Communism. The social democratic workers are just about nauseated with the shilly-shallying of their leadership, who by their tactic of piece-meal capitulation to the Bruening-Hitler policies have lost nearly everything that still held the workers in their ranks attached to the social democratic party. A very great part of the social democratic electorate will undoubtedly vote for Thaelmann in the elections, regardless of the decisions of their leadership. And this fact is of great importance for the Communists, provided they can link up the extra-parliamentary struggle for the social democratic workers with it.

Unfortunately, the German Communist Party, bound hand and foot by the utterly false tactics of the Stalinist leadership, with its disastrous theories of “social Fascism” and the “united front from below”, has not been able to progress very far in the struggle for the reformist workers in the factories. Despite the enormous increase in the Communist vote during the elections held in the course of the last two years, with the S.P.G. losing ground continually, the situation in the factories still remains well within the hands of the social democracy. 83.6 out of every 100 Works Council seats still go to the reformists, while only 3.4 per cent go to the Communists. Without an advance in the factories, all the gains in the parliamentary election will have no meaning. But in order to push forward in the factories, the German party must give up its false, un-Leninist conception of the united front, cast aside the obstructionist theory of “social Fascism” and reorientate itself along the lines of a broad proletarian struggle against genuine Fascism, as outlined by comrade Trotsky and the Left Opposition, instead of persisting in its ostrich policy which amounts to a surrender to the class enemy without a struggle.

The presidential elections, considered not as a decisive struggle, but as an opportunity to rally the workers and to force the breach between them and their reformist misleaders, offers another great opportunity to the Communist Party of Germany to make up for lost ground.

Gordon Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 17.5.2013