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S. Gordon

Hitler’s “Bombshell” at Geneva

German Fascism Bids for Arms Independence

Nazis Maneuvering for Free Hand in Military Adventure
Prepare for Drive against the Soviet Union; Seek French Aid

(21 October 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 48, 21 October 1933, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Last Saturday Hitlerite Germany bolted the League of Nations and the Geneva Disarmament Conference in a precipitant action which the press universally describes as a bombshell. Insofar as the Hitlerist maneuver contributes to a more complete and accelerated decomposition of the farce of capitalist “internationalism”, the bombshell has no doubt hit its mark.

After the departure of Japan last year, the German “Austreten” – as the Nazi diplomats express it – leaves little more of the League of Nations than its bare name.

The sudden and startling move of the Reich followed repeated and increasingly difficult attempts of the former allies on the one hand, to hold the lines of the status quo achieved by their robbers’ treaty of Versailles; and of National Socialist Germany, on the other hand, to achieve “arms equality” and a free hand in war preparations. The desperate internal and external, economic situation of post-war Germany brought into its leadership a clique of political adventurers prepared for any gamble. It was only to be expected that the latter would, the moment they felt themselves to any degree masters of their own house, initiate drastic action on the foreign front.

The Adventurism of Despair

The men whom the agonizing Reich bourgeoisie brought into power are destined to extend their adventurism of despair beyond the national borders. Under the camouflage of a “pacifist” and “disarmament” propaganda which has characterized the inter-European diplomatic maneuvers ever since the .World War, Hitler attempted to get universal approval for his plan to reestablish Prussian militarism within the framework of the League of Nations. Facing, as he had always expected to face, an immovable aversion on part of the former allied powers to give up any of gains they achieved over Germany by the Versailles pact, he has from the first sought to bring about a showdown by an open break which would clearly be of advantage to him.

He merely seized the opportunity offered by the British-French stubbornness at Geneva last week. The pacifist Hitler throws the onus for the failure to disarm right into the face of the British and the French, and their dilatory tactics. Winning sympathy thereby for his “sincere desire for peace and disarmament” from all sorts of neutral nations, he makes the “just” demand: on that basis to be allowed an equal opportunity to arm up to the standards of the rest.

Fascism Seeks Military Independence

Fascist Germany is out to get a free hand in girding itself for its next, external atack. The unkind eye cast by the United States upon the British-French hegemony on the continent, its “disinterested” and “neutral” stand; the aloof position of Mussolini, growing out of Italy’s special interests – undoubtedly aids Hitler’s strategy. France and England are faced with a fait acompli in the German move for military independence. The hope for allied control over German armaments – arising less from fear of an immediate war, than from a view to more distant advantages – has been badly shaken by the Nazi “bombshell”.

The Reich government, on its part, has made clear that in striking out for armaments independence it in no way gives up the idea of cooperation with the governments of France, Great Britain, et al. On the contrary. In his radio speech explaining Germany’s action, Chancellor Hitler goes out of his way to point out that this latest step is not at all intended as an affront to the above two nations. He goes further than that. The Nationalist Hitler makes a direct gesture, to the French to bury the hatchet with the Erbfeind (the “hereditary enemy” who takes up such an important place in the racist ideology of the Nazis).

“It would be a tremendous event”, said Hitler, “if the two peoples could once and for all ban force from their common life ... After the return of Saar to the Reich, only a madman could believe in the possibility of war between the two states.”

A French-German Alliance?

Inclination to accept this overture was not lacking among French ruling circles, immediately after it was made. After all, the independent stand of Germany was an accompished fact. The question arose of how to deal with the new reality. French-German cooperation, on a new, separate basis, was a possibility in any case. The sentiment in this direction grew with the publication of the Fascist chancellor’s speech in full. A striking passage therein reads:

“When, however, the French premier asks why the German youth is marching and falling in line, I reply, it is not to demonstrate against France, but to evince that political determination that was necessary for throwing down Communism and that will be necessary to hold it down.

In the same speech, the Nazi leader alludes further to the aims of Germany’s newly gained independence of action:

“It is not immaterial whether on the Rhine or on the North Sea the outposts of the spiritually revolutionary and expansive Asiatic world empire stood watch ... when the National Socialist movement snatched Germany back from the brink of this threatening catastrophe; it not only saved the German people, but also rendered a historical service to the rest of Europe.”

Hitler’s “Eastern Orientation”

On the basis of extending this “historical service”, by a transition from the defensive to the offensive (for which full armament freedom is needed), the French ruling class sees more than an even chance for a German rapprochement. It demands that Hitler explain himself more fully. But it already knows clearly his motive. He has made his “Eastern orientation” – the Drang Nach Osten – more than sufficiently clear.

What is involved is an attempt to crush the workers’ state in Russia and the colonization of the Ukraine. To this end the French bourgeoisie is prepared to talk business, even to consider the question of the Saar.

It is generally known that such a direction of Nazi foreign aggression is more immediate than a war against France. It is known that in such a case, the aid of other powers, financial and otherwise, is imperative for Germany. A representative French paper writes:

“We cannot understand why anyone should unreasonably remain attached to a type of procedure and international mechanism which has missed its aim, Hitler’s appeal has created a new situation. In a new fashion conversation seems possible.” – Le Jour, October 17.

French Munitions for Germany

France is preparing to bow before the inevitable and to try for new gains, new advantages on a different basis. From the appearance of things, the new French orientation already has taken roots. The French firm of munition manufacturers, Schneider-Creusot, was recently accused of furnishing 400 tanks to Hitlerite Germany. In replying to the accusation, the company makes a denial of the specific charge, but not of the general one. More interesting is its reference to relations with the French government:

“The company does not export war material without government authorization. That regulation is still in effect.” The statement of the blood-stained war manufacturers then goes on to accuse those campaigning thus against it, of harming the “pacific policy of France”!

It is common knowledge in Europe that Hitler has been rearming secretly for some time. It is also common knowledge that the Quai D’Orsay is well aware of this fact. Now tne munition manufacturers of France itself indirectly confirm shipment of arms to Germany with government knowledge. The new turn has gone far already.

German-Japanese Plans in Anti-Soviet Front

On top of the above, reports have been abundant of a German-Japanese plan of cooperation. The purpose of it is unmistakable. The documents published recently by the Soviet press from the dossiers of Japanese secret diplomacy are enlightening enough. Now comes a report from Mukden of a loan of $60,000,000 to be made by France to Manchukuo, Japan’s outpost for anti-Soviet aggression:

“Preliminary negotiations”, says the report, “have been concluded between President Hatta of the South Manchurian Railway and Andre d’Olivier, a representative of French capitalists”. – N.Y. Times, October 18, 1933.

The anti-Soviet front is forming fast.

In the face of these developments, the futility and the criminal self-deception of the Stalinist “Non-Aggression Pacts” becomes remarkably obvious. A real defense of the Soviet Union is imperatively necessary. The stupid quasi-practical policy of the Stalin regime in foreign affairs is due for a collapse. A realistic appraisal of the conditions in the Soviet Union, a corresponding raising of the standards of living of the workers and a strengthening of the alliance between the working class and the peasantry is just as necessary as a reversal of the foreign policy. The Soviet bureaucracy is incapable of accomplishing either one of these tasks. It prepares the road for Thermidorian reaction. That has been shown by the entire past.

The International Workers’ Front

The preparation for a resistance on the part of the international working class to the imperialist war plans likewise depends upon a rejection of the policy of the Stalinists. No “Anti-War Congresses” composed of pompous intellectuals, without a stable social basis and impotent because of their individual isolation, will ever serve to weld the proletarian front against imperialist war and attack on workers’ Russia. The Einsteins, the Dreisers, the Upton Sinclairs and Sherwood Andersons are already deserting the Stalinist Banner. Only the united front of workers’ organization, from top to the bottom, can accomplish this task. To achieve this, the Communists must go to the masses, entrench themselves in all organizations in which workers gather en masse. Both the preparation against attack inside of the Soviet Union as well as against imperialist war in all the capitalist countries demands the support of the line of policy of the Bolshevik-Leninists.

Time is short and events are moving fast. The Bolshevik-Leninists must live up to their task.

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