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Sam Gordon

Class Struggle in Germany

Hitler and Junkers Vie for Power in Germany

(September 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 37 (Whole No. 133), 10 September 1932, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The past week has marked several aggressive steps of the German bourgeoisie on the foreign front. The pronunciamentos of Von Schleicher with regard to the military plans and ambitions of the Junker government have created quite a stir among the world powers. Nevertheless, the reaction against Von Schleicher’s aggressiveness has not been too sharp. It is being taken generally as an attempt at bargaining by the German monopoly capitalists. The Reich imperialists naturally figure on propping up their military world positions while the situation is most favorable for them.

Temporary Neutralization of Social Forces

The temporary neutralization of the social forces in the country – working class versus Fascism – has lent the Junkers a certain balance, which they intend to exploit in their negotiations for concessions from the other governments. To be sure, the main aim of the German bourgeoisie remains the same; in the words of Schleicher – first of all to “settle accounts with the internal Schweinehund” – that is, with their working class enemy.

The capitalist class of Germany knows full well that to settle accounts with its proletariat, it will be immediately dependent upon its basis of mass support: the Nazi movement. And here too, capitalism is trying to force concessions. It is unwilling to give up its political independence entirely to the. Hitler forces. It wants to strike a bargain with them. Hence we witness a situation in which the big bourgeoisie, while denying full government power to the Fascists, nevertheless stoops to some of their most outrageous demands. Thus, for instance, in the case of the five Nazi murderers of the worker Piezcuck, whose death verdict has been commuted to life imprisonment.

The Maneuvers of the Hitlerites

The Hitlerites, for their part, are content to wait. They realize that a direct and violent attack at the present time would incur, not only tremendous resistance on the part of the broad working classes in one form or another, but opposition of large sections of ruling finance capital as well. On the other hand, they feel that they have amassed great power and they are disinclined to squander it recklessly. They prefer to hold out in all readiness until the big bourgeoisie sees itself forced to resort to them. And of that they can be quite sure.

In the meantime, the National Socialist are counteracting the attempts of monopoly capital at wringing concessions from them, by parliamentary horse-trades with the Catholic Center. Hitler announces very boldly that he will unite with any other party in votes of non-confidence against the present government and that he will not be stopped by ever so many consecutive dissolutions of the Reichstag. But behind the scenes, negotiations have already been set afoot to receive, government support for the full assumption of power by the Nazis in the provinces of Prussia and Thuringia,.

Domestic Actions of Von Papen

The Von Papen government, in addition to its drastic measures in external policy, is also forging ahead with its reactionary program on the domestic front. There are definite rumors abroad of the complete abrogation of the Weimar constitution. The voting age is to be raised to 25 years. An upper-and-lower house system is to be instituted. Vote by ticket based on proportional representation is to be replaced by vote for persons, etc. On the industrial front, “labor service duty” or compulsory labor is to be introduced. All this with the active collaboration of the social democracy and the reformist trade union leaders of the A.D.B.G. (The German General Labor Confederation). The reformist leaders of the “Iron Front” are utilizing the conflict between the Junkers and the Nazis to spread new dangerous illusions among the masses about the possibility of defeating the Fascists with the cooperation of the Von Papen government.

New Betrayals of Social Democracy Opportunity for Communists

The new betrayals of the social democracy and the temporary conflict among the bourgeoisie offer the Communists another excellent, opportunity to rally the whole working class of Germany for united action, to prepare the proletariat for the deathblow against capitalism. Will the German Communist Party take advantage of the situation. That depends.

In the first place, the whole Stalinist confusionism of “national and social liberation” must he thrown overboard. Instead of Thaelmann’s dangerously nationalistic “People’s Revolution Against Versailles”, the German Communists must us the military formula of the conscious bourgeoisie – Schleicher’s phrase about “first settling accounts with the internal Schweinehund” – against the capitalist foe. Now, more than ever “the main enemy is in one’s own country.”

Secondly, the German Communists must realize that it is high time to return to the Leninist united front tactic and to give up the bureaucratic ultimatism of the Stalinists.

Thirdly, international solidarity must be aroused in the widest possible forms, the Comintern must be brought into action. The need of the moment is a world congress of the Communist International with the participation of the Leninist Left Opposition.

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