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Henry Judd

Programs for a German Defeat

(March 1942)

From The New International, Vol. VIII No. 2, March 1942, pp. 43–46.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

As the Second World War approaches new heights of fury and destruction, the ruling powers of all the embattled nations strive with renewed vigor to arouse the national passions of all peoples. Ranging from the more primitive and vile techniques (“the yellow peril,” “the white devils,” etc.) to the more refined and subtle arguments of the professional intellectuals, this campaign of world chauvinism takes on fresh life as each new stage in the military and tactical plans of the rival powers approaches.

Defense of internationalism, the socialist internationalism of the workers and colonial peoples in all lands, has become one of the paramount tasks of the socialist movement. This defense of internationalism, proclaiming the brotherhood of all oppressed masses, is not based upon the airy idealism of the Christian pacifist nor the “good-will internationalism” of the Rotarian business man. No, its base is far more substantial, far more vital and pressing.

Socialist internationalism, as distinguished from schemes of imperialism, or utopias of political federation, flows from the material demands and the material resources of world society. The Second World War, the most insane and futile catastrophe imaginable, has confirmed the theoretical and abstract principles of Marxist internationalism. Namely, that our society and our economic life is international in character; that our outmoded social order, denying the existence of a world economy, is responsible for these unparalleled convulsions; that the continuation of nationalist imperialism means the destruction of the earth’s productive capacities; that human culture, in every phase and aspect, is literally faced with extinction. Every prophetic statement of the socialist teachers, warning all peoples against the continuation of capitalism, has come true – or threatens to come true – with an alarming force and acuity.

But it is the practical, the real, the current meaning of internationalism with which we are concerned in this article. How does it touch on the war of today? How can it bring a halt to the futile slaughter? Out of the distorted energies and the mobilizations for mass murder, can revolutionary socialism bring the necessary transformation?

How the “Democrats” Fight Hitler

The entire problem can be seen most clearly in the problem of Germany. When the imperialist bourgeoisie of the United Nations touches the German question (How can Hitler and Germany be defeated? What is to be done with Germany after the victory?) then its inner bankruptcy becomes apparent. When the intellectual and political satellites of the United Nations approach the German question they too display how, in every field, bourgeois thought and science is a mockery to human progress.

A dozen and one solutions, all of them predicated on the ultimate defeat of Nazi imperialism, have been proposed.

Germany is to be the guinea pig for experimentation in the working out of the “democratic” new world order. Most of these proposals deal with Germany post victoria – after the defeat; others, possessing the virtue of realism, claim to solve the two questions: winning the victory and imposing the peace.

What are these solutions to the German question? In brief, they may be divided into three major classifications:

  1. Those proposed by the democratic imperialist leaders (Churchill, Roosevelt, etc.);
  2. Those proposed by the professional intellectuals and literati (Thomas Mann, P.E.N. Association, Dorothy Thompson, etc.); and
  3. Those proposed by the Soviet Union and the Stalinist parties.

Let us consider each plan individually – bearing in mind that the proposed objective of each is to overwhelm the heart and core of Axis imperialism, institute a stable European order and assure peace in perpetuity.

(a) Churchill-Roosevelt: The “democratic” spokesmen have been notoriously silent on the entire question. Generally, they reply with the fatuous remark that “we must win the war.” As though one had accused them of trying to lose the war!

Some of these gentlemen (for example, Lord Woolsey) have proposed the physical extermination of the German people; some have proposed their gradual extinction by sterilization and the erection of a gigantic cordon sanitaire about the German state; some have proposed the mass arrest and forced enslavement of the population. These are the more vulgar, the more outrightly criminal “proposals” of Anglo-American imperialism, the cynical outpourings of diseased, Nazified minds.

The more authoritative statesmen of the bourgeoisie – Roosevelt and Churchill – have made it clear that they propose to inflict a decisive military defeat upon Germany and then ... they shall see. On December 23, 1941, Churchill said in reply to a direct question: “Don’t let us bank on that (an internal German revolution). We have got to bank on an external knockout.” This, at any rate, is clear enough.

After a few early attempts the Allies abandoned all efforts to direct any serious propaganda, that is, ideas with life to them!, at the German people. The New York Post announces that “plans for a German translation of The Aldrich Family to be used as a shortwave propaganda series to impress the Nazis with the contrast between family life here and in Germany have finally been abandoned.” We may question the effect of Henry Aldrich upon the German people, but the abandonment of even such an effort symbolizes the “grand strategy” of Churchill-Roosevelt: defeat of Germany along purely military lines.

Idea Men and the Stalinists

(b) The intellectuals and journalists: Beyond voicing criticisms in a distinctly minor key (“the people are not sacrificing enough; they do not realize the seriousness (!) of the war,” etc.) the literati have contributed nothing that oversteps the bounds laid down by imperialist warfare and strategy.

Walter Duranty, all too typical of the type, has advanced the most rounded solution to the German question yet proposed. According to Duranty, a super-Versailles is to be straight-jacketed on the German nation after the imposition of the “democratic” conquest. The former Austro-Hungarian Empire is to be re-established and Germany proper – returning to the pre-Bismarckian epoch – is to be carved up into segmented states and provinces. With a paucity of democratic imagination but an excess of reactionary imperialist zeal, Mr. Duranty violates every democratic liberty, every nationalist desire and every “Atlantic Charter” pretense under which the war is being fought. The Hitlerian “new order” has many a counterpart in the contemplated democratic “new order” for Europe.

Or take the case of Thomas Mann, the great intellectual leader of the “democratic” camp; the man put forward to signify the cosmopolitan, the spiritual and ennobling virtues of the Allied cause as opposed to the barbaric neo-Paganism of the Axis. In an address broadcast directly to the German people in December of last year, Thomas Mann used the occasion for pinning the “war guilt” upon the German masses as a whole. Ignoring the entire course of Hitler’s successful struggle for power, Mann accused the German people of being responsible for the crimes of their “leaders.” (It is proper to recall at this point, however, that Thomas Mann was not distinguished by the struggle against Hitler before he attained power. Mann’s break with the brown-shirted murderer came after he consolidated his rule.) The people and the régime are one. The Germans can be saved “to gain freedom and peace” only by breaking with their leaders and casting themselves at the feet of the “democracies.” Crying out that “an ever-growing gigantic hatred engulfs you,” Mann ends his declaration by informing the German people that they will thank him (sic) for his advice.

Thus Mann asks for the confidence of the German workers by accusing them and by threatening them with monstrous retribution! You are guilty of the war, you are responsible for Hitler, you must join us – or else! With bitter contempt the German people will turn aside from this “friend,” this man who speaks to them in the name of Goethe and German philosophy!

And thus, two sample representatives of the democratic philosophers of the new democratic world federation!

(c) Soviet Russia and the Stalinists: The Soviet regime is at least as vitally concerned as any other power with undermining the strength of Hitlerism, gaining the victory and organizing the post-war Europe. This concern is proved by the fact that the Stalinist authorities and spokesmen have, probably more than any other ruling group, discussed the question, put forward propositions and attempted to propagandize them. With what success? But first let us see what they say, what they propose.

Stalinist propaganda aimed at Germany departs from the type we have described above.

  1. Emanating from what is supposedly the “Workers’ State,” it must bear some social stamp. It must at least pose the problem of what shall a post-war Germany be.
  2. Alone of all the powers, Soviet Russia has an organization of Germans, German workers and functionaries, within Germany itself. Regardless of its size and composition, it is a fact that the German Communist Party is the only “inside Germany” group of some size in the Allied war camp.

Absence of Revolutionary Propaganda

What do they say? Despite the skepticism of its allies-in-arms, in ten months of warfare the Stalinists have not uttered a word with which the most die-hard Tory imperialist could disagree. Their propaganda has been strictly bound by the policies of “democratic” imperialism. Socialist, internationalist or revolutionary slogans, expressions or even implications of the same, cannot be discovered in speeches of leading Russian figures, proclamations of the government, appeals to the German soldiers or manifestos of the German Communist Party.

We must strive for “a truly democratic Constitution” reads an appeal of 158 captured German soldiers to their fellow-soldiers. (World News and Views, November 22, 1941.) We stand for “a truly popular Germany,” “a nation governed by honest, diligent people” (!), “a people’s Germany,” etc.

How do the Stalinists attempt to sap German morale? By contrast. “You workers are fighting against a socialist workers regime.” But too many Germans have seen the realities of Stalinist Russia. Or threats: “... woe to our people if it links up its destiny with Hitler and if we Germans do not ourselves establish order in Germany but leave it to other nations.” (Ibid., November 29, 1941.) And, most monstrous of all, by warnings of sinister retribution: “... defeat would mean Germany dismembered and payment for war losses caused to Europe and the USSR by Hitler.” This is the propaganda of the most violent Allied imperialist war lords: the carving apart of Germany and the game of reparations all over again.

And the German soldiers? Pravda complains of their refusal to desert, their reluctance to surrender even when trapped. The leaflets addressed to them by the Red Army, ignoring the revolutionary Leninist appeal of fraternization and soldiers’ solidarity, seeks only to humble and humiliate the German soldier. When you wish to surrender, says a typical leaflet, shout “long live Moscow, Down with Hitler.” And Pravda complains of a lack of response!

So we see that Stalinist propaganda, despite its faintly “social” stamp, falls under the same general heading as does the rest of the imperialist proposals we have described. Nor, considering the integral and subordinate nature of Russia’s position in the “democratic” war camp, is this unexpected. The deceptive coloration of Soviet proposals wears away the instant concrete problems are raised. Beneath the veneer appear the worst schemes of Allied imperialism: occupation of Germany at the bayonet point; disruption and breaking up of German economy and unification; the burden of reparations and war costs; the erection of an Allied-controlled German military dictatorship.

All that we have outlined has the following characteristics in common:

  1. The German nation, its people and the leaders of its Nazi regime alike, are responsible for the war and all its phases. Correspondingly, the people and regimes of the Allied powers, including Russia, are “innocent.” All alike ignore the class and imperialist roots of the war.
  2. Victory of the Allies must come primarily, if not entirely, through decisive military blows. Political appeals are subordinate to military action. “Let the guns speak.”
  3. Germany as a whole is to bear the burden of war expenses.
  4. The German state after the victory is to be a puppet state, imprisoned by the new cordon sanitaire that the new super-Versailles Treaty will establish.

German Masses Are Alienated

The failure of this type of “appeal” has been all too evident. Naturally the extremist elements of the “Hate the Hun” school of thought have pointed to this abysmal failure as proof of their teachings about the inherent war lust of the German nation. These racialists (of the “democratic” camp) say, in effect: “You see. They will not listen to reason. They must be exterminated!”

Furthermore, nothing could be more skillfully calculated to bind together the German masses than the combined effect of this propaganda. Hitler makes no effort to conceal it from the German people. The perverted Goebbels quotes it at length in his cynical articles. The net effect is: The German masses tend to be bound together (workers and middle class in particular) behind the German state out of fear of reprisals; out of a revived national consciousness stimulated by the Allies; out of the ever-present fear of the new Versailles; out of the dread of an Allied military occupation.

Shrewd Nazi propagandists and journalists play dark and gloomy variations on the theme “Germany cannot lose this war, or else ...!” Obsessed by the consequences of Allied victory, their thoughts paralyzed by the melancholy remembrances of the previous occupation and its accompanying chaos, their vision distorted by the dismal forebodings of a new Allied “revanche” there is little cause to wonder at the passive acquiescence of the German masses to the brutal dictatorship. Such are the fruits of the nationalist and imperialist chauvinism preached by the Allies! Effective? Yes, in prolonging the war, in stiffening German resistance, in providing the Nazi regime with a backbone of fear and despair.

An insubstantial backbone, it may be said. Perhaps, but let us not neglect the example of Soviet Russia, whose people – despite their hatred of the Stalinist regime – offered an amazing and mighty resistance to the invader out of fear of the consequences of his success It is not unlikely that the actual assault of the Allies upon Germany proper would meet a similar opposition, with similar results.

To summarize, then, the net results of nationalism:

  1. It indefinitely prolongs the war – in terms of duration and cost (both human and productive costs);
  2. It arouses and exaggerates the most primitive racial and nationalist conceptions, thus adding to the total destructive horrors of the war;
  3. It blocks the formulation of a workable (that is, a revolutionary) peace program that will appeal to the tired masses;
  4. It deliberately obscures the character of the war (its origins and objectives) and prevents any appeal to the people based on social and political rights or desires.

Internationalism Alone Can Win

It is precisely here that socialist internationalism comes in, unequivocally and diametrically opposed to every concept we have described above. Its fundamental premise is too well known to need repetition: the workers, the people of all lands and nations have nothing in common with the class interests of their respective ruling classes, but have everything in common with one another. The proof, the vindication of this statement? Look about, there it exists in overabundant form.

True internationalism proceeds not with the objective of military victory or military defeat; true internationalism serves not one aim of any ruling class. Socialist internationalism seeks to thrust aside the mists of chauvinism and racialism and find its way into the minds of workers, of soldiers and of the colonial slaves. To the program of “blood, sweat and tears” offered by the world bourgeoisie it counterposes the socialist program of “world solidarity, peace and socialist reconstruction.”

Contrast its appeal to the people of Germany with the appeal of the Churchills, Manns and Piecks. Internationalism, striding over the barriers of trenches, jungles, seas and poisoned nationalist propaganda, would strike deep to reach the innermost desires of the German masses. Basing itself on the people’s hatred for Hitler and his fellow dictators, arming itself with their widespread hatred of the war it would guarantee to the German workers their rightful place in the socialist Europe of tomorrow; a place unrestricted by military occupation of foreign troops and unhampered by an unbearable reparations burden. It would urge the masses of Germany to rise in revolt against Hitler, in conjunction with the revolt of all peoples against their oppressors. Its message, though varying from country to country in details, is essentially the same everywhere. Socialist internationalism can prevent the catastrophic conclusion that the imperialists of the world have in store for us.

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