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Kurt Landau

German Unemployed and the First of February

(February 1930)

Throughout the World of Labor, The Militant, Vol. III No. 9, 1 March 1930, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

For weeks and weeks the German party has proclaimed through its 35 publications that on the first of February millions of unemployed would parade throughout Germany. The factory workers would give proof of their solidarity. Braving the ban of Zoergiebel and of Severing, the working class would capture the streets.

The first of February was to have marked the beginning of great mass battles. In the Leningrad Pravda appeared:

“In no country are the rise of the revolutionary wave and the collapse of capitalist stabilization as evident as in in Germany The Communist Party of Germany is, next in order after that of the Soviet Union, the most bolshevik party. That is why it is not to be wondered at that it is in Germany that one can see the advance of the approaching European revolution.

“The barricade fights in Hamburg, the defiance of the ban against demonstrations in German cities, the parades of the armies of the unemployed are, under the existing circumstances, the expression of the growing revolutionary tendencies of the masses. The events of the last few days prove that a revolutionary situation approaches at full speed in Germany ...”

In proportion as the leadership of the Party becomes intoxicated with its own prophecies and bombast, the social democracy becomes increasingly arrogant. The social democratic press, energetically supported by the democratic press, agitates against the C.P.G. and spreads the most fantastic lies. The closer did the 1st of February approach, the clearer did it become that the social democracy hoped, through a sweeping provocation, to definitely strike down the Party and drive it into illegality. The agitation of the social-democracy was complemented by the slander of the Brandler press, which branded the would-be plans of the Party leadership as putchist.

Wherein Lies the Defeat of the 1st of February

The leadership and the Party press evidently speak only of a “victory”. Thus, the Rote Fahne of the 2nd of February writes:

“The Communist party achieved its desired end on the first of February; the solid advance of marching proletarian regiments crushed Grzezinski’s ban against demonstrations.”

The social democracy and the bourgeois press are jubilant: the “revolutionary plans” miscarried. The social democracy and the bourgeoisie know quite well that the First of February was not the “day of the revolution” on the calendar of Thaelmann’s adventures. But they also know that on the 1st of February the C.P.G. suffered a serious defeat. For the actual task which they had set themselves was far from accomplished. Only a few thousand of the 350,000 unemployed in Berlin heeded the Party’s call. None of the Berlin factories in which the Party obtained so many votes, as was the case last year, when it had such great success, participated in the solidarity strike. The Party leadership did not even call upon the factories to go out on strike in solidarity with the unemployed, for it knew that this appeal would be useless.

In Red Berlin, where the C.P.G. mustered as many votes as the socialist party in the communal elections of Nov. 17, 1929, the call of the Party went to nought, and this despite the growing bitterness of the masses, and despite the increasing contempt of the Berlin proletariat for the leadership of the socialist party.

Why Was the Defeat Inevitable?

The C.P.G. is a mass party which represents 3 million workers, and this despite the political adventurism of its leadership, despite the unfitness of Thaelmann, Neumann, Remmele, etc.

But the masses, although voting for the party, whether in the general elections or in the elections of the factory councils, do not at all thereby show that they have decided to carry through the proletarian revolution. They simply show that they are disassociating themselves from the counter-revolutionary policy of the Social-Democratic Party – the enemy of their class. Unfortunately this is not how the Rote Fahne puts it:

“In the factories, among the unemployed on the streets, in the country and on the farms, everywhere, the willingness to abolish the system which brings nothing but hunger and misery for the masses, is growing among the workers, the willingness to put an end to a system which, has proven its inability to guarantee to the working people an existence at least worthy of a human being!”

The masses who vote for the party, even those who follow it actions, are not yet that far advanced. The Party’s appeal for the first of February was forcibly extinguished without achieving its aim, because it did not appeal to the masses with immediate concrete demands affecting every unemployed worker, but all it could do was to get itself drunk with vague political phrases which could not represent to non-party workers the goal to be sought after today, and tomorrow.

Berlin, February 2, 1930


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