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Kurt Landau

The German Dilemma: Communism or Fascism?

The Election Results

(September 1930)

From The Militant, Vol. III No. 31, 1 October 1930, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

By Our Berlin Correspondent

The result of the German elections proves that electoral participation was extremely increased. It considerably surpassed 80 percent. By the growth of the electorate and the participation of the young element (2,500,000), the number of votes rose from 30,000,000 to 35,000,000, and the total number of mandates from 493 to 576, increasing the number of deputies by 83. More than half of these six million new electors are proletarians. These facts must be emphasized, in order to analyze the election results.

The Middle Bourgeois Parties Beaten

In spite of desperate efforts, the parties of the middle bourgeoisie forming the Bruening government were unable to halt their disintegration. Only the Center, the party assembling under the banner of the Catholic Church the big industrialists of the Rhine and the workers of the Rhineland and Upper-Silesia, succeeded in maintaining its positions (68 mandates instead of 62), that is, to increase, due to the increased participation, the number of its votes by about 5 percent while the increase in the electorate was about 20 percent.

The other government parties (State party, Right wing Democrats, People’s party) suffered very heavy defeats, in part even crushing. The dictatorial regime which had hoped to convert its parliamentary minority into a majority, obtained hardly a third of the mandates out of the total.

In spite of the growth in the number of electors, the socialist party fell from 9,150,533 votes (1928) to 8,572,000 (143 mandates as against 153). In certain regions however, it held on, for instance in Saxony, where it succeeded in rising from 871,327 votes obtained in the Landtag elections (June 1929) to 992,547. As a whole, the defeat of the social democracy is undeniable, but it would be wrong to speak of a “crushing defeat” (see Rote Fahne, September 15, 1930); one must rather speak of a process of crumbling.

The press of the German C.P. announces that “the Communists are the victors of the electoral battle”. The Party has succeeded in rising from 3,262,876 votes (1928) to 4,587,000, a gain of about 40 percent. Considering the increase in the electorate, the Party succeeded in gaining about 500,000 to 600,000 new votes. That is certainly an important fact, which does not indicate the correctness of the Party policy but the enormous, the intense effervescence of the masses in the crisis. Fascism, the Real Victor

The National Socialist party (Fascists) bounded from 809,939 votes (1928) to 6,400,000 and their mandates from 12 to 107! As we had foreseen, it became the strongest bourgeois party and at the same time the strongest party in general after the social democrats. What interests us above all is to know at the expense of what class this victory was achieved.

At the very outset it is apparent that the fascists have taken the heritage of the petty bourgeois parties. They took 2 million votes from the nationalists, 1 million from the People’s party, and about a half million, without doubt, from the other bourgeois parties. As for the increased participation, it also went in large part to Fascism. At first sight it might seem that the enormous victory of Fascism is due to the simple fact that it drew the bourgeois masses to it. But a deeper examination of the electoral results shows that Fascism succeeded in making a deep breach in the proletariat. That is what the figures from the industrial regions show, in which the Fascists almost increased their 1928 vote ten-fold. Thus, East Dusseldorf, 210,106 (1928: 19,926); West Dusseldorf, 168,635 (1928: 10,104). Chemnitz-Zwickau, 264,871 (1928: 41,497); Hamburg, 144,584 (1928: 17,761).

In the industrial regions of the Rhineland, the Fascists went from 600 to 8,400 in Hamborn, and from 1,222 to 26,079 in Wuppertal-Barmen.

In Berlin, the figures are still more alarming. In this city, there were municipal elections in November 1929, that is, in the period of the crisis. Here the Fascists rose from 132,031 to 393,266, and that in ten months. In the proletarian bastions, the Fascists increased, in Wedding (a particularly striking instance), from 8,720 (November 1929) to 20,655; in Neukoelln, from 7,124 (1929) to 22,128, in Friedrichshain, from 2,324 (1929) to 24,900, in Pankow from 855 (1929) to 11,773.

And Now?

Nothing would now be more dangerous than dizziness of the Party before its own success, nothing would be more dangerous than the way the bureaucrats treat the Fascist victory as a mere bagatelle (“Last night Herr Hitler had his ‘greatest day’, but the so-called election victory is the beginning of their end ...Rote Fahne, September 15)

The Party has advanced. It has advanced in virtually all the proletarian regions. But the fact that the Fascists did so also in a whole series of industrial sections (West Dusseldorf) or even strongly surpassed it (Chemnitz-Zwickau, Hamburg, Dresden-Bautzen, Northern Westphalia) is alarming. The Rote Fahne writes: “The rise of our growing influence among the workers and all the exploited, the rise in which we won the toiling masses in the cities and the country for our program of revolutionary emancipation, showed itself to be even more impetuous than we thought before September 14”; that is one of the most dangerous ways of deceiving oneself.

We are on the eve of decisive struggles in Germany. The rise of the counter-revolutionary wave has exceeded all previsions. Now everything will depend upon the extent to which our Party will, be able to utilize the confidence which the masses place in it in order to lead the extra-parliamentary struggle, the struggle against the capitalist offensive, and mass unemployment, the struggle against Fascism. The greatest dagger is the continuation of the present course whose culminating point is now the “program for the national and social liberation of the German people”. Fascism cannot be vanquished on the basis of national-Bolshevism; the Fascists cannot be conquered by exchanging amicable discussion articles with them in the Communist and national socialist press (Berlin am Morgen, Nationalsozialist). If this course is continued, the present success of the Party will be transformed into its opposite. In the competition of “national Bolshevism versus Fascism”, it is Fascism that will triumph.

* * *

In the struggle against Fascism, the central point, now as before, is the social democratic workers whom we must win over, with whom we must make a united class front against Fascism.

The Left Opposition in Germany will have to work in the weeks to come, under still more difficult conditions. The Party masses still follow the policy of Centrism in their majority. The success of yesterday threatens to render them insensible to the dangers before us.

The Left Opposition was not taken unawares by the events. It will continue to fight with increased strength to save the Party from disaster, the danger of which is greater than it would seem; in this electoral struggle during which the Party leadership trampled the principles of Communism under foot it has begun to poison the most precious thing the Party has: the internationalist class position of the cadres of the Party, it has undermined the ideological resistance power of the Party, it has yielded ideologically to Fascist pressure.

Today’s victory brings to light the elements of an inevitable defeat, unless the pressure of the proletarian kernel of the Party radically changes the political life of the Party.

Berlin, September 15, 1930

Kurt Landau

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