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S. Gordon

Nazi-Austrian Tension Brings Sharp Clashes

(June 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 31, 17 June 1933, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The tension between Nazi Germany and the Bonapartist Dollfuss regime in Austria has again caused sharp outbreaks, due to high-pressure Nazi propaganda, involving a bombing terror in the country on the Danube. The Hitler plans to force, if not the long yearned “Anschluss,” then at least a friendly Nazi coalition government at Vienna, have brought the relations between the two countries at the breaking point.

Uollfuss and his supporters, especially the “Heimwehr” which tends toward a Hapsburg restoration, have the backing of Italy, France and all the powers that do not care to see the Hitler state strengthened. The fight between the Heimwehr Fascists and the Hitler Fascists in Austria proper is therefore part of a larger scheme of imperialist struggle and that is why it assumes the long and drawn out character that it does.

The Austrian authorities reacted to the increased Nazi agitation and terror by the expulsion from their territory of the Reichstag Deputy Habicht, who had been smuggled into the country as director of the Hitler campaign under the guise of press attaché to the Reich legation. The Hitler government retaliated by the expulsion of the Austrian press attaché, the Catholic priest Wasserbaeck, who is said to have been closely in touch with the High Councils of the Centre Party in Germany proper.

If we take, into consideration the attacks of the Fascists on the Catholic Journeymen’s Congress in Munich, the whole amplitude of the situation becomes exceedingly clear. Austria is predominantly a Catholic country. In case of union with Germany or of an alliance with it, the strength of the Catholic Centre would be of a quantity far more formidable than it is in the Reich at present and would constitute a serious obstacle in the path of Hitler’s progress. The attacks on the Catholics in Germany itself and the high-pitched campaign of the National-Socialists in Austria would therefore indicate that the time for a forceful solution of the question of power between Dollfuss and Hitler is drawing near.

In this internecine struggle between the Fascist factions, which offers such tremendous possibilities for a working class movement, it is impossible to overlook the ignominious role of the Austrian social democracy, the most powerful single political party in the country and the all-time pride of the Second International. Seitz, Bauer and Co. lift, literally, not a finger to gain a proletarian solution to the crisis, but sit back with their puny hearts beating and their reformist hopes fluttering for some miracle to save them. The indolent excuse of “Communist splitters” is here completely lacking, the social democrats, caught like rats in a hole, have no one to cast the blame on. They present the most pitiful spectacle, a veritable epitome of reformist impotence.

Only a new movement rising out of the ranks of the workers themselves can save the Austrian working class from the sorry fate of its German brothers. The Left Opposition is hard at work, exerting every bit of energy in final efforts, to constitute such a government.

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