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Sam Gordon

Bruening Government Falls!

German Working Class Faced with Immediate Fascist Onslaught

(June 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 23 (Whole No. 119), 4 June 1932, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Outstanding in the week’s news for the working class is the powerful new push to the Right in German politics. The Bruening cabinet, the cabinet of bourgeois uncertainty, whose main sup. port was the “toleration” of the reformist mass organizations, the Free Trade Unions and the social democratic party, has collapsed.

The downfall has come about as a result of the refusal of the industrial bourgeoisie and the landowners to comply with the plans of the Clerical Centrist chancellor, namely, to balance the budget with new taxes and to allay the unrest of the ever-growing unemployed army with the scheme of a back-to-the-farm movement which involves the breaking up of the big estates of the East Prussian Junkers.

The bourgeoisie is determined not to cede a single step more, to go the full length of its fight for self-preservation by a ruthless life and death struggle against the proletariat.

According to well informed bourgeois press circles, the dismissal of the cabinet was plotted by military cliques with an understanding reaching out to the Hitler forces. The new cabinet, headed by the notorious Hohenzollern militarist Lieutenant Colonel Von Papen, is a typical army-Junker combine of the purest reactionary stripe. It has not the slightest basis of parliamentary support and appears to be what is generally termed a stop-gap government personally selected by the Prussian Field Marshall, President Von Hindenburg. It is generally conceded that it is a temporary set-up destined to a short-lived existence. But even this temporary existence is condition by toleration on the part of the Nazis in the Reichstag, which body is to be convoked shortly. The “toleration” of the Fascists is openly avowed to be based upon three conditions. First, that it call for new Reichstag elections within the shortest possible time. Secondly, that it raise the ban on the Nazi Storm Troops, recently proscribed by ex-Minister of the Interior, Groener. Thirdly, that it will impose no new taxes and no new emergency decrees which might hinder the broad propaganda activities of the Hitlerites. It is indisputable that all these conditions will be fulfilled.

The call for new elections is inevitable, since, with the elimination of Bruening and the Centre party from power, no government with parliamentary support can be found. That the second demand will be complied with is evident already from the ruling of the Reich’s Supreme Court on the evidence submitted by the Prussian Ministry of Interior, gathered in its March raids on the Nazi headquarters. The ruling exonerates the Hitler party completely of “illegal or subversive” activities and in this manner prepares the lifting of the ban on the Storm Troops.

The Von Papen cabinet will easily agree to the third condition as well, which is apparent from its composition and from the necessity to present a united Right wing front before the foreign powers at the Lausanne conference.

The Junker government is, therefore, the direct harbinger of Fascist rule in Germany. It is the government not merely of the preparation, but of the most immediate organization of the National Socialist seizure of power. The Nazis are jubilant everywhere. Forgotten are the bitter hostilities between their chief and the old Field Marshall in the recent presidential elections. Cries of “Hail, Hindenburg!” mix with cries of “Hail Hitler!” in their demonstrations. Der Angriff, the Berlin organ of the Brown Shirts greets the action of Hindenburg as a banner day for National Socialism.

The new move, which makes the Fascist overturn an imminent danger, has cut the ground entirely from under the feet of the reformists. The talk of the “lesser evil” is exploded by facts. The social democratic leaders have arrived at an impasse just as the full blast of the Fascist attack is about to be fired. Still the overwhelming majority of the workers are under their sway. The masses are as yet to be found in the organizations of the betrayers, whose line of class collaboration, of kowtowing to the masters, has prepared the road for the Fascist reaction.

The bankrupt social democracy must be pushed against the wall and forced to show its full face to all the workers, if the catastrophe is to be averted, if the Fascist onslaught is to be repulsed by the German working class. There is only one way in which this can be done. That is by an offer of the party of the working class, the Communist party, to the social democratic and trade union organizations for the immediate formation of the proletarian united front of direct struggle.

The German party has been prevented from taking this step all along by the stupid Stalinist theory of “social Fascism”, by its isolationist, ultimatum policy of the “Red United Front under the leadership of the Communist Party”. The disastrous experiences of the recent elections have, however, awakened broad sections of the membership to the isolation and self-obstruction resulting from the Stalinist policies. A half-turn in the direction of the policy proposed by comrade Trotsky and the Left Opposition has been forced upon the Thaelmann leadership, as we reported in the last issue of The Militant. Rote Fahne, the central organ of the C.P.G. wrote editorially on April 26, after the Prussian elections:

“The main thing now is to assemble all the class forces of the proletariat and the working masses in the red united front and again go into an offensive against the capitalist dictatorship and defeat Fascism.

“We publish today at the head of our newspaper the appeal of the C.C. and the R.T.U.O. Committee in which the party and the R.T.U.O. express their willingness to join with all lower union functionaries and shop-committee-members, with all organizations which wish to fight honestly against reduction in wages, to carry through common measures for the struggle for workers’ demands in the shops.

“While we are in sharpest struggle against the government of Braun-Severing, against the policy of emergency measures dictatorship and their clearing the road for Hitler, we Communists stand as mortal enemies of Hitler fascism. We will do everything with the help of proletarian class forces in order to block its way to government power, in order to break its terror and through a new red advance of the working class to give it a decisive blow”

The party leadership has pledged itself to do everything, then, to block the way of Fascism to government power. It has declared its willingness to join with all organizations who honestly want to fight for this end. If the turn is in any way to be sincere and fruitful for the party, it must draw it to its logical conclusion and pose the question of common struggle before the reformist leaders as well as before the organizations.

There can be no doubt that the workers in the social democratic organization honestly want to fight together with the Communists against the Fascists, against wage reductions, for the workers’ demands in the shops. If their honest desire is to be transformed into forceful action, the test must be put to the leaders whom they have given their mandate. Whether the S.P. leaders accept or reject a sincere united front appeal from the Communists is immaterial. In any case, the workers in their following will be drawn closer to their natural leader, to the Communist party in the course of common action. Therein alone lies the solution for the workers in the present situation.

The decisive hour is very close. No time is to be lost. Not only the fate of the German proletariat, the fate of the fortress of the world revolution – the Soviet Union – the fate of the international working class is at stake. We warn again: the reaction engendered by the coming into power of Hitler will not confine itself to the boundaries of Germany. It is the task of every Communist to strive with might and main that this should not come about.

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