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Harry Strang

Anti-Nazi Demonstration in N.Y.

(May 1934)

From The Militant, Vol. VII No. 21, 26 May 1934, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

A militant, shouting column of workers and anti-Fascists, organized by the Communist League of America and the Young People’s Socialist League, paraded for four hours through the White Way district of New York City Thursday night, giving a militant answer to the “Friends of New Germany” meeting called in Madison Square Garden to praise Hitlerism. Within the Garden were 20,000 Nazis and their sympathizers; outside 1,000 police of the “democratic” state guarded the doors and streets. But more than 1,200 New York workers answered the threat implied in that meeting by a fine demonstration of militancy.

A few days before the Nazi meeting the Stalinist press produced its latest orientation on Fascism. Having declared, on May 2, that Trotskyites are not an opposition to be argued with but “class enemies to be destroyed,” the Stalinist Party now ordered its followers to discuss matters patiently with honest Fascist rank-and-filers in order to win them from their leaders. With this notion as a basis, the Stalinists made no counter-demonstration to Thursday’s Nazi meeting. Instead it mobilized for a meeting at Cooper Union to listen to “Comrade” Goldstein, one of the “honest, rank-and-file” rabbis.

United Front In Action

Efforts made by the Communist League to arrange a formal united front counter-demonstration through the May Day arrangements committee fell through. The League therefore mobilized about 100 members and sympathizers, including Spartacus Youth Club members, at 8 o’clock on the evening of the Nazi rally. A block from the Garden they joined with a group of about 100 Yipsels. The steering committees of both groups merged, the united front of organizations thus being forged in action on the street.

At a signal from the joint steering committee, the groups formed a column, shouting “Down with Hitler!” “Down with Fascist Terror!” The effect was instantaneous: before the column began to march hundreds of workers on the sidewalk joined the line. Thus began the four-hour march. The column wound up and down Broadway, west to the Garden and east again, looping back and forth. The streets were lined with sympathetic crowds including knots of Jewish Minute Men whose leaders had to restrain them from answering calls to join the demonstration. Before the evening was over the column had grown to more than 1,200.

Efforts to reach the sidewalk just outside the Garden failed. There were enough cops on hand to block off all approaches.

The Stalinists were active in disorganization work. An hour or so after the march began a few of them drifted into the column. The steering committee, however, had made up its mind to go into Times Square for a meeting, and they managed to prevent the Stalinists from precipitating confusion and disruption.

Meeting in Times Square

The meeting in Times Square lasted about 40 minutes. Two Yipsels and one representative of the A.W.P. spoke, as well as Carl Cowl for the C.L.A. and Joseph Carter for the Spartacus Youth Clubs. The keywords of all the speakers were the same: denunciations of Fascism, condemnation of the Garden meeting and of the police attitude toward anti-Fascists, and promulgation of the idea of the united front of all workers’ organizations against Fascism. Carter was loudly cheered when he voiced a protest against the persecution of German revolutionists and the deportation from Holland to Germany of the four German youth delegates at the Laren Conference

After having failed to disrupt the demonstration a Y.C.L. leader, Larkin, asked for the floor at the meeting. The steering committee gave it to him. He began to yell at the top of his voice about the Communist Party of Germany “which fights bravely against Fascism and against all Social-Fascist misleaders of the workers”. The crowd – which was now several thousand strong standing on a traffic island in the midst of Times Square – gave him about the loudest boo heard on the White Way in years. It was so sharp and loud that Larkin lost some of his impudence. The workers put him in his place very nicely. The chairman, a Yipsel, wound up by calling for the International.

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