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Kurt Landau

The Real Victor in the German Elections

(November 1929)

Throughout the World of Labor, The Militant, Vol. II No. 20, 14 December 1929, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

On November 17, municipal elections were held in Prussia and Saxony. They were the first important elections since the social democracy came to the head of the government, and in Berlin, they were the first elections since the massacre on May First.

The Communist Party of Germany entered the election struggle by affirming that Germany is in a stage of violent revolutionary outbursts, that the masses are recovering from their reformist illusions and are turning to the C.P. of Germany.

A comparison of the Reichstag elections in 1928 with those of November 17 throws light on the situation. On May 20, 1928, the C.P.G. received 611,317 votes in Berlin for the Reichstag elections. The social democratic party, 816,196. On November 17, after the May Day massacre, after a year of the social democratic coalition government, after the Sklarek (Berlin administration) scandal, this figure sinks to 451,735. But the benefit of it does not go to the C.P.G., for it did not succeed in maintaining the figure of 1928 which fell from 611,317 to 565,595.

It is true that on November 17 there were 180,000 fewer voters in Berlin than in the 1928 elections. Nevertheless, the parties of the bourgeois center (with the exception of the Democrats whom the Sklarek affair compromised the most) maintained the number of votes received in 1928.

Contrariwise, the fascist bloc, that is, the National Socialists and the Fascists, united among themselves (Hugenberg-Hitler), succeeded in spite of the small number of voters, in increasing the number of their votes from 475,184 (in 1928) to 536,787, and the benefit fell wholly to the National Socialist Party. It can, then by no means be said that the result of the Berlin elections was an “overwhelming victory” for the Communist Party of Germany. The Party, following its false and adventurist policy, has been unable to reinforce its base in the last eighteen months. The losses of the Social Democratic party benefited the fascists.

In the whole of Prussia, the results differ from those in Berlin. In the province, the increase of the socialist party, already quite obvious in 1928, was not halted, contrary to Berlin. In the industrial center of Central Germany (Halle-Merseburg) the Social Democratic Party gained twenty percent in Its vote. The C.P. of G. lost as much in this former stronghold. The fascist bloc has no gain at all to register in this country, but rather a diminution of strength. In Wasserkante, Schleswig-Holstein and in the West, the social democrats increased everywhere. In part, they obtained substantial results in Upper Silesia (Breslau, Beuthen) but great losses in favor of the fascists. Nowhere in these regions did the C.P. of G. succeed in retaining its positions, especially in Saxony. After having suffered losses in the Landtag elections (in May), it now loses in this industrial region from twenty to thirty percent more of the votes (Dresden, Leipzig, Plauen). The hopes of the Brandlerites in Saxony, which is their stronghold, to influence a sufficiently large part of the workers, were lamentably disappointed.

The elections have brought about no decisive change. They show that it was correct to estimate the regrouping of the masses by saying that they will not yet go towards Communism. The process of evolution of the masses towards bourgeois reformism still lasts. That is what stands out even more clearly than in the Landtag elections a few months ago. At the decisive points (industrial regions, Saxony, Berlin) this process has ceased. But that development does not benefit the C.P. of G., because of its ominous policy, but in part the fascist bloc which will organize on December 22, in the referendum on the Young Plan, a new mobilization of the masses for the fascist dictatorship. Tens of thousands of workers who followed the reformists a year ago are falling into indifference.

Without according an exaggerated importance to these elections and to elections in general, it may be said that they give quite a revealing picture of the process of fermentation and regrouping of the masses. Unfortunately , it cannot be said, as does the Rote Fahne on November 18: “The election figures show the magnificent progress of the C.P.” Favorable as the objective circumstances for a rapid advance of Communism in Germany are, the party, under the leadership of Thaelman and Remmele, shows itself incapable of profiting by the opportunity and of grouping the majority of the working class around the banner of Communism.

Berlin, November 18, 1929


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