Fascism in Germany. Robin Blick 1975

Chapter XVIII: 14 September 1930

The culminating point in the influence of National Fascism [that is, National Socialism] coincides with the beginning of its break-up... The present crisis of National Fascism is the beginning of its decomposition... ('On the Question of National Fascism in Germany’, Communist International, Volume 7, no 10, 1 September 1930, p 168)

From the earliest days of the volkisch movement, its leaders sought to combat the growth of Marxism in the working class by converting the proletariat to the ‘national idea’. But in each and every case, these attempts failed completely. The fight to establish a base for ultra-imperialist and racialist policies in the masses continued; but, of necessity, in other directions. Here the example of the Hohenzollern Court Chaplain Pastor Stöcker is instructive. He launched his ‘Christian Social’ party in 1878 with high hopes of detaching large numbers of workers from the Social Democrats, who that very year had been driven underground by Bismarck’s anti-socialist laws. But within two years, Stöcker had been forced drastically to revise his strategy. Apart from the inevitably lumpen-proletarian elements which everywhere gravitate towards demagogues promising them a quack, pseudo-socialist remedy to their problems, the Christian Socials made scarcely any inroads into the banned SPD’s hard core of supporters. Such plebeian forces as did rally to Stöcker’s brand of radical anti-Semitism were mainly petit-bourgeois: small shopkeepers, artisans, traders; those who both worked and owned, who regarded themselves both as ‘productive’ and as men of property, however small, or dependent on credit. They were attracted by Stöcker’s double-edged attack on Marxism as the enemy of nation and property, and ‘Jewish’ finance as a parasite growing fat on the labour of the industrious Kleinburgher.

Further south, in Vienna, Dr Karl Lüger succeeded in raising himself to the mayorship of the Austrian capital on the backs of precisely this class, a triumph whose political significance certainly did not escape Hitler:

He understood only too well that the political fighting power of the upper bourgeoisie at the present time was but slight and inadequate for achieving the victory of a great movement. He therefore laid the greatest stress in his political activity on winning over the classes whose existence was threatened and therefore tended to spur rather than paralyse the will to fight... Thus he adjusted his new party [like Stöcker’s, named ‘Christian Social’ – RB] primarily to the middle class menaced with destruction, and thereby assured himself of a following that was difficult to shake... [1]

These lines were written during Hitler’s stay in Landsberg prison, yet he did not really grasp the full implication of Lüger’s strategy and intimate knowledge of the psychology of the German petit-bourgeoisie until a good four years later. From his first political activity in the army, right through to the Munich Putsch and beyond, Hitler’s main efforts were directed towards winning over the German worker to National Socialism. In this respect, his aim did not differ from that of the north German ‘radicals’. Where he fell out with the Strasser brothers and Goebbels was over their undue emphasis on the ‘socialist’ elements of the NSDAP programme. Neither could Hitler countenance their claims to equal participation in the political direction of the party. But with these two disputes resolved – entirely in the Munich leadership’s favour – Hitler was certainly not averse to exploiting the undoubted demagogic talents of Goebbels, whom in October 1926 he dispatched to Berlin to win over the capital’s workers from the Marxists. From this time on, with Hitler setting his course towards an alliance with big business, no party member, be he rank-and-filer or one of the high command, would be permitted to outbid the worker’s parties in radicalism unless on the expressed permission of Hitler himself. This meant an end to the freelancing pseudo-leftism of the Strassers, [2] although not, as has been noted already, the termination of attempts to base the party on a ‘nationalised’ proletariat.

Slowly but surely, the former ‘radicals’ of north and west Germany either left the party or adjusted to the official line emanating from Munich. Since Hitler held the purse strings for the entire movement, there was little they could do about it had they even wanted to. For example, the Lower Saxony gau of the NSDAP, once a stronghold of the Strasser – Goebbels faction, offended the strictly orthodox Rust by advertising his forthcoming speech in Brunswick as being ‘The Struggle Against Capital – The Demand of the Hour’, whereas it should have read ‘The Struggle Against Capitalism’. For, as Rust was quick to point out, the Nazis did not wage war against all capital, but only ‘parasitic’ finance, ‘Jewish’ capital. The culprits responsible for this lapse into Marxist terminology later made amends. An article published in 1927 in the offending paper, the Niedersachischer Beobachter, declared in the best style of Hitler and Feder:

The Marxist is a capitalist. He only thinks of himself and is thus as far away from socialism as any bourgeois... The class struggle of the National Socialist is not, like that of the Marxists, concerned with material gain, but is the moral commandment, the moral urge of all exploited, productive working people of hand and brain to free work from the yoke of parasitic capital. In other words, the struggle of the productive classes [that is, proletarians together with their ‘productive’ capitalist exploiters – RB] against the parasitic class, the struggle of the working people against the Jewish parasites.

Right through 1926, and well into the next year, the NSDAP continued to pursue Hitler’s strategy of ignoring the rural regions (except those of Bavaria) and concentrating its still rather meagre forces in the main towns where, it was hoped, the workers could be detached from their long-established allegiance to their traditional parties. Meanwhile Hitler pushed ahead with his campaign to gain admission to the inner circles of industry and high finance (the very ‘stock-exchange’ and ‘parasitic’ capital the Nazi press denounced daily as exploiters of the German people), and in August 1927, after more than a year of addressing meetings of largely sceptical business leaders, achieved an important breakthrough. In that month, Hitler published privately a pamphlet for secret distribution amongst Germany’s leading industrialists, a pamphlet moreover that was sponsored by the king of them all, Emil Kirdorf. The most reactionary of Ruhr tycoons – he had openly criticised Kaiser Wilhelm II during the war for the latter’s acceptance of Social Democratic collaboration – Kirdorf, despite his advancing years, also happened to be among the most influential. He ruled over two important employers’ organisations, the Bergbaulicher Verein (Coal-Mining Association) and the North-West Iron Federation. After his conversion to National Socialism, which dated from a meeting with Hitler on 4 July 1927, at the house of the Nazi publisher Hugo Bruckmann, [3] Kirdorf actively campaigned for the party amongst his fellow industrialists and made available to the Nazis considerable sums of cash between the summer of 1927 and their victory six years later. The cover of the pamphlet (a copy of which was unearthed in 1966 in the offices of a large Ruhr firm) was inscribed ‘presented by Emil Kirdorf’. Kirdorf (whose idea the pamphlet was) moreover promised to distribute it widely throughout German heavy industry. Although running along the lines of Hitler’s earlier addresses to business leaders (such as his first, to the 1919 National Club of Hamburg), this pamphlet emphasised even more strongly the fragile, superficial nature of the economic boom then at full swing, and warned that an altogether different political policy would have to be pursued if German industry was not to be swept away by crisis and eventual Marxist-led revolution:

... even with the most unprejudiced intentions I cannot bring myself to view our folk’s present situation as satisfactory or hopeful, or even to concede that any time in the past 10 years any signs whatsoever of improvement or... an upswing have become evident. Even in the economic sphere, so-called consolidation is either an unthinking fallacy or a deliberate lie. The fact is that Germany’s balance of trade has remained unfavourable and in the past few years has been deteriorating rapidly. The nation spends more than it earns. The practice of offsetting this imbalance by means of foreign loans does not help us resolve the dilemma... quite the contrary, the annually increasing burden in debt payments plunged us into an even greater dependency on the outside world. In other ways, too, a significant portion of the nation’s economy is falling under the impersonal control of international finance capital, while innumerable medium and small livelihoods are going under... I must take a very firm stand against those who from time to time imagine they discern symptoms of a political upsurge in the vacillating game of party battles or the ever-changing outcome of elections... the German folk is splitting ever more pronouncedly into two camps that oppose each other as mortal enemies. These camps are rapidly becoming mutually exclusive, and are transforming themselves into closed, self-sufficing entities, one of which, the Marxist, a foreign body within its own folk, disclaims all ties to the nation so that it can ally itself with analogous bodies in other nations... a true resurgence of the German nation is contingent not on the fulfilment and satisfaction of so and so many daily demands, but on regaining the inner strength of the nation... instead of raising aloft the merits of race and folk, millions of our folk pay homage to the idea of internationalism. The strength and genius of the individual personality are, in line with the absurd nature of democracy, being set aside in favour of majority rule, which amounts to nothing more than weakness and stupidity. And rather than recognise and affirm the necessity of struggle, people are preaching theories of pacifism, reconciliation among nations, and eternal peace. These three outrages against mankind... are the characteristic symptoms of the Marxism which is progressively gaining a hold on our folk... Once a folk has fallen prey to these vices... there can be no more talk of ‘resurgence'... Our supreme duty today is not to capitulate in the face of signs of degeneracy but to confront them heroically. [The Nazi movement is not a parliamentary party but]... the germ cell and shock troop of a new Reich. It sees the problem not in the search for some parliamentary majority or another, in creating any particular coalition, or in setting up some new government or preparing for better elections, but, rather, exclusively, in instilling the... principles [of ‘folkdom and race’, ‘individual personality’, ‘readiness for sacrifice and a positive attitude towards struggle'] and ridding our national body of the lacerations caused by disregard for these principles and by the effects of Marxism. The new movement categorically rejects any divisions into estates or classes and in their place proclaims an all-German outlook. It does not imagine that this changeover can be achieved by pious teachings alone. No, it is convinced that the movement will first have to prove by its own example that such a changeover is possible and, further, that some day it will be possible to impose a general education along these lines on the nation, if necessary, by means of the hardest kind of struggle... In place of the currently prevailing internationalist outlook, the movement thereby consciously and deliberately substitutes a sharply defined nationalistic orientation; in place of democracy’s worship of the masses, the unconditional authority of the individual personality; and in place of pacifism, training to resist and struggle. The movement knows first of all that such a development cannot be launched from above, but rather has to be generated in the heart of a nation and develop from there, as is the case with all great phenomena in the history of the world. It feels that an independent national economy is a necessity, but does not consider it a primary force or the moulder of a strong state but rather just the reverse: only a strong nationalist state can safeguard such an economy and give it the opportunity to survive and develop freely. The National Socialist movement furthermore recognises that complete incorporation of the so-called Fourth Estate [that is, the proletariat] into the national community is the most essential precondition to the fulfilment of this task and the establishment of a cohesive national body... It wishes that these million-strong masses who number among our national assets, will be delivered from the hands of their present international and mainly un-German seducers and leaders and will be completely incorporated in the nation and state. [4]

Again we see the same stress on the plebeian basis of the Nazi movement that characterised all Hitler’s major political speeches and writings. The great changes that were proposed for Germany’s political system could not be ‘launched from above’, but only generated in the heart of a nation, from ‘below’ in the ‘Jacobin’ manner. Yet precisely in this direction, where Nazi strategy finally proved to be vastly superior to all its conservative competitors and volkisch imitators, Hitler had experienced nothing but setbacks. Certainly 1927 was not a year in which a counter-revolutionary movement could expect to be swamped by votes and applications for membership. The onset of the economic crisis lay a year ahead, workers’ wages were rising steadily, unemployment was falling fast, and even the urban petit-bourgeoisie were beginning to share in the transitory affluence of the boom. But the orientation of the Nazi Party itself was also partly responsible for its consistent failure to match Hitler’s fighting talk with deeds.

Since the early months of 1926, the party had been conducting its so-called ‘urban drive’ in selected industrial regions – the Ruhr, Saxony, Thuringia – which were all strongholds of proletarian radicalism (Saxony and Thuringia were at the centre of the 1923 aborted bid for power by the KPD, while the Ruhr witnessed the heaviest fighting in the wake of the Kapp Putsch). The bulk of the propaganda was directed towards workers already enrolled in the ADGB trade unions and the two workers’ parties, and for this very reason made no noticeable impact. The German worker’s allegiance to what he understood to be Marxism, rooted deep in the collective consciousness of his class, and the product of more than half a century of sacrifice and struggle against Hitler’s reactionary forerunners, could never be undermined by propaganda alone. And it should be remembered that in the spring of 1926, the Nazis had exposed themselves as open defenders of property and privilege by opposing the joint SPD-KPD campaign for a referendum on the question of the expropriation of the princes. This was the price Hitler had to pay for maintaining and strengthening his still tenuous links with the world of industry and finance. When put to the test in a series of local and state elections, the Nazi party’s ‘urban drive’ proved itself to have been a serious, though not fatal, error of judgement. On 31 October 1926, the NSDAP recorded a miserable 3.5 per cent of the vote in the Saxon Landtag elections, while in Mecklenburg on 22 May 1927, the Nazi share of the vote dropped to 1.8 per cent. Clearly the fascist seed was falling on stony – proletarian – ground.

Yet in May 1924, when the Nazi vote averaged 6.5 per cent nationally, the party’s share in Mecklenburg was 20.8 per cent. Clearly there existed in this largely rural state a large segment of former Nazi voters who for a number of reasons had not been induced to vote Nazi three years later.. Once again, the causes of this reticence were in part due to the prevailing strategy of the NSDAP, which led to its concentration on winning the urban, Social Democratic or Communist worker. The beginnings of a new orientation can be detected in the period following the Nuremburg party conference of September 1927, when discussions amongst party leaders on the recent poor election results, combined with reports of awakening interest in the Nazi cause from distinctly non-proletarian sections of the population, led in the later part of 1927 to a drive amongst the urban, and especially rural, middle class, and students in the universities. Even before this turn had been consolidated, the party suddenly found itself working in a sympathetic environment for the first time since 1923. Rural support for the Nazis, though obviously having its historical roots in the deeply reactionary traditions and prejudices of the German peasantry, increased at this time as a direct result of the profound crisis that had gripped German agriculture.

Firstly it should be remembered that although Europe’s foremost industrial power since the early twentieth century, Germany, unlike its main rival England, had carried the burden of a millions-strong rural population whose economic productivity, knowledge of technology and general cultural standards remained in many regions closer to those of the middle ages. In 1871, the year of the formation of the Second Reich, 64 per cent of the empire’s population lived in the countryside. Rapid industrial expansion under Bismarck sucked several million landless labourers and small peasants into the mills, mines and factories of the Ruhr, Saxony, Thuringia and the north, until by 1907 those engaged in agricultural occupations had fallen by nearly half – to 34 per cent of the population. But from this date onwards, the decline slows down. In 1925, 30.5 per cent are still employed in either farming or forestry, and in 1933, 28.9 per cent.

The productive forces of German capitalism had ceased to expand – on the contrary, with the slump of 1929, they had begun to contract drastically. Rationalisation, with its emphasis on increasing output per worker, also cut the demand for new labour, thus helping to block the time-honoured route of escape from rural idiocy and poverty to the relative enlightenment and prosperity of the ‘big city’. In the first years of Nazi rule, it was the cities that disgorged their jobless proletarians, driving them to work as slaves on farms, roads and marshlands of the Third Reich. But it was in the countryside that the crisis of German capitalism first made its effects felt. While big business rationalised and concentrated its forces, the smaller and medium peasant ruined himself in a desperate bid to modernise and mechanise his farm. Lacking both the resources and the scale of operations to make such investments profitable, they simply had the effect of dragging hundreds of thousands of small-holders deeper and deeper into debt with the city money-lenders. The structure of landownership illustrates this graphically.

Size of farmNo of farms% of farms% of land
0.5 to 1(ha)834 01427.42.3
2 to 5787 52625.86.
5 to 201 069 71035.125.7
20 to 100321 56710.627.9
100 +33 8311.137.9

Therefore only in the top two categories – the rich peasants (or Kulaks, to use the Russian term) and the Junkers, the rich agrarians of East Prussia – could farming be both modern and competitive. For the remaining 88 per cent, and of course especially for the very smallest units, hopes of breaking even, let alone making a working profit, were dim indeed, as the following figures, published after a survey conducted by the German government in 1926, suggest. In 38 per cent of the 2568 farms investigated, expenses exceeded receipts, and after deducting taxes, 51 per cent were found to be making no net profits (the survey sample included large farms as well as medium and small ones). Bearing in mind that these figures exclude deductions from receipts made to pay interest on loans, we have a picture of utter catastrophe for literally millions of German households, on a scale far greater than anything that was being experienced in the towns until the early 1930s. Here indeed was fertile soil for the Nazi seed – a massive stratum of small property-owners several million strong, deeply conservative by political tradition yet now threatened with destruction by what the Nazi agitators and press told them was a conspiracy of Jewish money lenders and Jewish Marxist politicians. It was a class which proudly regarded its labour as productive, and its property as honestly acquired. Deeply nationalist, and for centuries the backbone of the Prussian infantry, it was now burning with frustrated shame and anger at the spectacle of Germany disarmed and humiliated by its bitterest enemies. And once again, the Nazis assured them, those responsible were the ‘Jewish Marxists’ who ruled the republic that millions of peasants had come to identify with their own misfortunes. Only amongst the farm proletarians, the land labourers, could there be found the forces to stand firm against this reactionary rural floodtide, and even then they would require the powerful support that only a united and combative urban working class could provide. Social Democratic opportunism, and Stalinist ultra-leftism, ensured that the German farm proletarian never received it.

The chronic distress in German agriculture finally convinced Hitler that it was in the village and farm, rather than city and factory, that the initial breakthrough to a genuine mass party could be achieved. On 10 December 1927, he addressed – for the first time – a meeting of agrarian leaders in Hamburg. By early 1928, the turn had ceased to be a pragmatic adaptation to a previously unconsidered opportunity, but had become a firm strategic line. As Feder noted some years later, in 1928: ‘Hitler directed his attacks especially against the senseless manner in which the farmers and middle classes were being ruined.’ [5] Nazi propaganda was adjusted accordingly, with attacks on capitalism being played down, and those on Marxism receiving special emphasis. The main theme was that Jewish money lenders, aided by the ‘Marxist’ politicians who created and still ruled the Republic, were responsible for the ruinous state of German agriculture. And naturally, the peasant was depicted as the backbone of a future Nazi Reich:

The maintenance of an efficient agricultural class... is a cornerstone of National Socialist policy... [today] the farmer is forced to run into debt and to pay usurious interest for loans. He sinks deeper and deeper under this tyranny, and in the end forfeits house and farm to the money lender, who is usually a Jew. [6]

The one – and very real – enemy of the German peasant not singled out by Feder for abuse was of course the class of big agrarians, the Junkers, for it was precisely towards this old élite of Imperial Germany that Hitler was looking for support in his drive to overturn the republic and smash the workers’ movement. So here Feder trod very gingerly. He could not on any account offend the Junkers, but he also had to ensure the Nazis did not appear before the smallholders as stooges of the richest agrarians. Hence the following tortuous exposition of NSDAP farm policy:

No hard and fast rule can be laid down as to the size of agricultural holdings. From the point of view of our population policy large numbers of prosperous small and middle-sized farms are all-important. Farming on a large scale, however, has its special and necessary part to play, and if it preserves a sound relation towards the smaller farms it is justifiable. [7]

The analysis made by the Nazi chiefs towards the end of 1927 was fully borne out by the Reichstag elections of May 1928. A conference of party leaders held on the day the results were declared heard Hitler spell out the new strategy, which now became imperative in the light of the party’s abysmal performance in regions dominated by the two workers’ parties. Only in rural areas did the Nazi vote hold up against the powerful national trend to the left. In his analysis of the returns, Hitler paid particular attention to the big increase in the vote for the KPD and the SPD, drawing the conclusion – a correct one as later events proved – that the NSDAP had to look elsewhere for its main and most firm supporters. In Berlin, where Goebbels had been hard at work for 18 months winning the German worker to the ‘national idea’ away from his ‘Marxist seducers’, the Nazis had been crushed by a combined SPD – KPD vote of 63.6 per cent. The NSDAP received a derisory 1.5 per cent. In the Ruhr, the picture was even worse, with the Nazi share of the vote plummeting to 1.3 per cent. Hamburg, another stronghold of the labour movement, was little better at 2.6 per cent, while the workers’ parties aggregated 53.6 per cent. But the performance of the party in some key rural regions was, by comparison, much more promising: Schleswig-Holstein (4.0 per cent), Weser (5.2 per cent), South Hanover (4.4 per cent), Franconia (8.1 per cent) and Oberbayen-Schwaben (6.2 per cent). Echoing the conclusions drawn by Hitler from the results, the Völkischer Beobachter commented on 31 May that ‘certain districts did less well than expected’, and went on to underline the need to consolidate the party in the rural regions where its largest potential social reserves were to be found:

The election results in the country show that with less expenditure of efforts and money and time greater successes can be achieved there than in the large towns. National Socialist mass meetings in small towns and market communities are important events and form the topic of daily conversation for weeks afterwards while in the large towns meetings even with 3000 and 4000 people sink into insignificance and pass away. [8]

Despite initial opposition from certain SA ‘radicals’ who drew their support from declassed proletarian elements in the big cities, the ‘rural drive’ became official Nazi policy after a conference of top party leaders in August 1928. To help smooth Hitler’s projected alliance with the agrarians and the propertied rural population, instructions were issued on 30 October 1928 banning joint meetings or other activities with the KPD, a tactic occasionally indulged in by both Nazi ‘radicals’ and Stalinists as a device to ‘capture’ the other’s working-class following. (Significantly, the KPD pursued this utterly reactionary policy while refusing to form a united front with the SPD, a genuine, if reformist workers’ party!) Workers were excluded from the central and gau leaderships, and all the plum posts in the party machine made available to those with higher social standing. At the August conference it was also decided that the party would place more emphasis than hitherto on the defence of private property, while ceasing all attacks on religion (a favourite pastime of the pagan pseudo-radicals). Neither were inter-denominational feuds to be permitted, since Hitler was bidding for the support of Catholic as well as Protestant peasants. Together with the consolidation of the new Nazi line, with its concentration on small-propertied strata in the rural regions, developed a similar appreciation of the hitherto largely untapped reservoirs of support for the party amongst the ‘small people’ of the towns and cities; those millions who, like the small peasant, represented a stubborn but increasingly crisis-prone relic of a bygone, pre-capitalist era.

At a meeting of NSDAP gauleiters in Weimar on 27 November 1927, Hitler concluded from the poor showing of the party in the recent landtag and city council elections that the urban as well as rural petit-bourgeoisie should become the main target of future Nazi agitation and propaganda. Reporting back from the meeting to his own gau in North Hanover, Rust confided that the new party strategy would be to seek support ‘from the small businessman, who is the most vigorous opponent of department stores and consumer cooperatives, and, further, from the shop assistant, who as a member of the DHV [the volkisch white-collar ‘trade union’) is already an anti-Semite’. And on the same theme, Adolf Wagner of the gau Grosse Munchen declared in a directive to party members issued prior to the September 1930 Reichstag elections that:

In future we want to carry on the struggle against these gravediggers of the German people in such a way that we not only avoid department stores and cooperative societies, but also take practical steps to show the German tradesmen and craftsmen that it is we who know how to organise energetically the struggle against his enemies...

In order to appreciate fully the importance of this new Nazi orientation, it is necessary to quantify the balance of class forces that prevailed in Germany in the period of the Weimar Republic. The occupational census of 1925 provided the eminent German sociologist Professor Theodor Geiger with the raw statistical data to conduct his now well-known inquiry into the class structure of modern Germany. His method of stratification entirely excluded categories based either on ‘status’ (as with the Weberian model) or even more subjective notions of social rank, and placed the population in one of three broad groupings capitalist, middle class and labour class, according to their stated occupations. Under the heading ‘capitalist’ were grouped either big employers of labour, or individuals with an income above 30 000 marks per annum. ‘Middle class’ embraced smaller property owners, professional workers on a salary below 30 000 marks but above 1000 marks, while under the heading ‘labour’ were placed all those dependent on the sale of their labour for their livelihood and with an income of less than 3000 marks. Using this method of classification (which Geiger then refined and revised in a further breakdown of the statistics), the following picture emerged:

ClassGainfully employed% of totalWith families% of total
Capitalist299 6300.84574 7520.92
Middle8 745 25224.3916 026 13525.68
Labour26 808 84874.7745 809 73273.40
Totals35 853 730100.0062 410 619100.00

What immediately stands out is the almost total social isolation of the big bourgeoisie and agrarians who, while owning the major portion of the nation’s wealth and productive resources, between them comprised less than one per cent of its total population. As was and remains the case in every capitalist country, the continued rule of the big bourgeoisie is not in question for any save the most advanced sections of the masses while boom conditions, or at least those of relative economic stability, prevail, and while the petit-bourgeoisie and proletariat are permitted to enjoy a steady increase in their living standards. In such times, the bulk of the middle class, together with a sizeable minority of the proletariat, not only acquiesce in, but actually endorse the continuation of bourgeois rule by voting for one or other of the parties of the ruling class at election times. For the rest of the year, the ruling class expects them to lay dormant, and merely conduct themselves as humble and obedient citizens – which of course many of them do. This familiar – and for the bourgeoisie comforting – pattern of politics is dramatically undermined by the onset of great economic and social crises, such as those unleashed upon Germany from 1929. The old equilibrium is shattered. The previously loyal middle class now finds that its traditional political leaders and spokesmen, those it supposed to be men of honour, are nothing more than liars, vote-catching careerists, manipulators of those who had so foolishly trusted them for decades. When expansion and boom yields almost overnight, as it did in Germany, to contraction and slump, then the political outlook and party loyalty of the ‘small man’, tied up intimately with a whole host of quasi-mystical prejudices and vanities about property, ‘status’, nation, ‘race’ and religion, are thrown into crisis. Yesterday’s leaders become today’s traitors, and today’s raving demagogues, tomorrow’s saviours. And precisely at this point, when the old political system is visibly breaking up, the big bourgeoisie also finds itself driven to seek new forms of rule to protect its social domination. Thus the problem arises – how can the ruling class retain its grip on the millions of petit-bourgeois and backward workers who are being torn from the traditional bourgeois parties by this same social crisis? By its very nature, the task cannot be accomplished by the big bourgeoisie itself, since it is against this class that the hitherto passive millions of ‘small people’ are in revolt, albeit in a highly confused and potentially reactionary fashion. And so the stage is set for the entry and rise of the ‘plebeians’, swept into power by the elemental outburst of a perverted petit-bourgeois radicalism that, despairing of salvation by the proletariat, turns to the exponents of fascist counter-revolution, to those who promise not only the destruction of the Marxist enemies of property, but the taming of the trusts, banks and chain-store owners. Where did the Nazis find the social reserves to build such a movement? The above table tells us only part of the story. For contained within the category ‘labour class’ were in fact widely heterogeneous social layers ranging from the hard-core industrial proletariat to artisans, shopkeepers and clerical employees in the towns; and in the country, from farm labourers to peasants who not only worked themselves, but were also employers of wage labour. Taking into account these subdivisions (which again rest on objective criteria) Geiger arrived at a more refined – and accurate – picture of the middle class, which he now grouped under three headings: old middle class, being the small property-owners (artisans, traders, peasants, etc, whose origin was largely pre-capitalist); new middle class (professional employees, school teachers, clerks, civil servants, etc) and finally, quasi-proletarians, those who whilst wholly dependent on work for their income, were self-employed – the so-called ‘independents’. Since a large proportion of these last two groups had, in Geiger’s first table, been included under the rubric ‘labour class’ (their income deriving from their own work, and not primarily from the ownership of property), this necessarily resulted in a considerable reduction in the numbers of those now described as ‘proletarians’, as can be seen from the table below:

ClassGainfully employed
(% of population)
With families
(% of population)
Old Middle Class18.3317.77
New Middle Class16.0417.95

It would of course be quite wrong to reduce the relationships between the classes to the quantitative plane, as does Geiger’s classification. The potential social and political weight of the proletariat is not primarily a question of numbers, but one of its role in production, which, even in countries where the capitalist mode of production has been stunted or delayed in its development, enables the working class, given correct revolutionary tactics and strategy, to exercise a decisive voice in political affairs. Thus it was in Russia in 1917, where the proletariat comprised but a small minority of the working population, and thus it could have been in China and later in Spain, had not the Stalinist bureaucracy diverted the proletariat away from the struggle for state power towards the chimera of a bloc with the ‘democratic’ national bourgeoisie. But these two later negative experiences, together with the most tragic defeat of all in Germany, also highlight the immense dangers which face the proletariat should it not succeed in rallying the broad exploited masses to its side in the struggle for state power and socialism. The working, non-proletarian strata of town and country, which in Germany comprised a good third of the population, were not only potential allies of the working class in its struggle for socialism. The least waverings in the revolutionary leadership of the working class (not to speak of Social Democratic and centrist betrayal) could convert these potential allies of the proletariat into the bitterest of foes, the foot soldiers of fascist counter-revolution. As Trotsky said of the French petit-bourgeoisie, when in the mid-1930s, under the blows of the deepening economic crisis, it began to desert its traditional Radical Socialist Party leaders for the fascists on the right and the Socialist and Communist Parties on the left:

Renaudel, Frossard [leaders of the French Socialist Party]... imagine that the petit-bourgeoisie is attached above all to democracy, wherefore it is necessary to hang onto the coat-tails of the Radicals. What monstrous confusion! Democracy is only a political form. The petit-bourgeoisie is not concerned with the shell but with the kernel. It wants to save itself from misery and ruin. If democracy proves impotent – then to the devil with democracy! Every petit-bourgeois reasons or feels this way. The principal social and political source of fascism is in the growing revolt of the lower petit-bourgeoisie against its own, ‘educated’ upper layers in the municipalities, the districts and in parliament. To this must be added the hatred of the crisis-shattered intellectual youth for the lawyers, the deputies and the parvenu ministers. Here also the lower petit-bourgeois intellectuals rebel against those above them. Does this mean that the passage of the petit-bourgeoisie to fascism is inevitable and inescapable? No, such a conclusion would be shameful fatalism. What is really inevitable and inescapable is the doom of Radicalism [the nearest equivalent of which in Germany would have been the DDP – RB] and all the political groupings which link themselves to its fate... The end of the Radical Party is the inevitable result of the fact that bourgeois society can no longer overcome its difficulties with the help of so-called democratic methods. The split between the base of the petit-bourgeoisie and its summit is inevitable. But that does not at all mean that the masses who follow Radicalism must infallibly place their hopes in fascism. Certainly the most demoralised section, the most declassed and the most avid of the youth of the middle classes have already made their choice in that direction [as had, by 1928-29, similar elements in Germany – RB]. It is out of this reservoir particularly that the fascist bands are taking form. But the basic [petit-bourgeois] masses of city and country have not yet made their choice [again, the same situation that prevailed in Germany up to 1929 – RB]. They hesitate before a great decision... Political developments in the coming period will move at a febrile rhythm. The petit-bourgeoisie will reject the demagogy of fascism only if it puts its faith in the reality of another road. That other road is the road of the proletarian revolution. [9]

In France, fascism had to contend with a strong democratic tradition amongst the urban and rural petit-bourgeoisie, one still feebly nourished by the heritage of the great Revolution of 1789 (whose heir the Radicals claimed to be). National Socialism encountered no such obstacles in Germany, where wide layers of the middle class had time and again demonstrated their hostility to parliamentary democracy and moderate republicanism well before the rise of the Nazis by voting for the openly monarchist DNVP and a host of even more reactionary parties such as the anti-Semitic Economic Party, the Landvolk and, in Bavaria, the BVP (a right-wing splinter from the Catholic Centre Party). The proportion of the petit-bourgeois masses adhering to parties of extreme conservatism was without doubt greatly augmented by the early betrayals of the SPD, which having received a mandate for radical social change from several million middle-class voters in 1919 promptly came out as a champion of the status quo, of a republic that offered and gave the ‘small people’ nothing. This betrayal could not but widen the gulf that already existed between the mass of the working petit-bourgeoisie and the organised proletariat whose living standards, if not political and social outlook, it largely shared. The progressive (though uneven) alienation of Germany’s small propertied classes from the Republic, and especially from the labour movement, can be measured not only in terms of the growth in the right-wing vote, but by the decline in support for the Social Democratic white-collar trade union, the AfA (Allgemeine freie Angestelltenbund). Whereas in 1920, it was the largest of the three competing white-collar unions, with a membership of nearly 700 000, by 1930 it was the smallest, having lost nearly half its members to either the ultra-nationalist General Association of German white-collar trade unions (now the largest of the three) or the more moderate, liberal federation affiliated to the Hirsch-Duncker manual organisations (which, since they quite openly embraced the principle of a community of interests between the classes, scarcely merited the title of trade union). The decline of the ADGB white-collar trade union was without doubt partly due to its declared solidarity with the struggles and aims of the manual workers’ movement. Intensely ‘status’ conscious, even the lowliest and poverty stricken German petit-bourgeois more often than not considered it beneath his dignity to adopt either the forms of struggle or proletarian class outlook of those who, in every other respect, were potentially his allies in the fight against the big capitalists and bankers who exploited them both (even though in different ways). This attitude was particularly deeply ingrained in the artisans, who in the Weimar Republic numbered some two million. They clung just as stubbornly to their quasi-medieval guilds as their ancestors had done during the revolutionary upheavals of 1848, contemptuously spurning all offers of solidarity from the socialist proletariat, whom the largely self-employed artisans despised as men devoid of either property or national loyalty. Clerical workers, while often recognising the need for some form of class-based organisation, were nearly as reluctant to join forces with the working class, even though their economic plight might lead them to turn in that direction. As one white-collar workers’ leader commented towards the end of the First World War, at a time when manual workers were beginning to take strike action to press their claims for better living and working conditions:

... we are well aware that there are at the lower levels conditions and attitudes favourable to cooperation with the manual workers, [but] we do not belong to the masses and we cannot act en masse like the workers, our contracts are individually negotiated. We have a different relationship to our employers... We shall stick to the specific character of our situation and demand a specific ‘white-collar’ policy.

The only occasion on which this class-collaborationist policy seemed likely to collapse was, significantly, in 1919, when even the reactionary DHV was forced by the militancy of its members to endorse strike action in support of wage and other demands. Thereafter, the bloc of right-wing clerical and shop-workers’ unions stood squarely against actions of this nature. So naturally they provided the Nazis with their programme of a ‘people’s community’, in which workers and employers would live in harmony with one another, with a plentiful supply of recruits once the economic crisis began to bite deep into the already scanty reserves of the lower petit-bourgeoisie.

Nazi agitators skilfully exploited this subjective chasm that walled off the middle class from united action with the organised proletariat, a gulf greatly deepened, it must be said, by the policies of both the KPD and the SPD, who between them prevented the working class from acting in the decisive fashion necessary to win over or neutralise the middle class.

Neither did the Nazis neglect a third strand of the petit-bourgeoisie – its numerically small, but politically significant and influential intelligentsia. As the most sensitive layers of any class to deep-going but as yet molecular process of change, the youth were from the early days of the crisis polarised between the main parties of revolution and counter-revolution. Here the youth cult of the Nazis paid handsome dividends, [10] as did their demagogic anti-intellectualism, which ironically (but understandably) made spectacular headway in the universities well before the NSDAP emerged as a force of the first rank in national politics.

The Nazis founded their student organisation, the National Socialist German Student League (NSDStB) as late as 1926. Yet in the course of the next six years, it overhauled the hitherto largest political student movement, that of the SPD, with 7600 members as against 6000 for the Socialist Student League (SS). Naturally, the class composition of the student community greatly favoured the Nazis in their drive to capture the leadership of the universities. A survey of the parental background of university students in the academic year 1928-29 revealed that only 2.3 per cent of all students had fathers with a manual occupation, while 46.9 per cent came from families of middle-class employees, 31.2 per cent from self-employed, and another 21.2 per cent from families where the father had also received a university education. No fewer than 28 per cent of students’ fathers were middle-ranking civil servants. And certainly, after 1930, when the slump denied graduates the careers for which they had been studying, the economic conditions clearly favoured the growth of right-wing extremism in the universities. But it still cannot be denied that once the party leadership had made their strategic turn of 1928 towards the middle class, the Nazis were far ahead of the two workers’ parties in seeing the need to secure and extend a foothold in Germany’s main seats of learning. Many of the student recruits to National Socialism later became prominent party activists and, later still, key functionaries in the Nazi state apparatus. Baldur von Schirach, who later won notoriety as leader of the Hitler Youth, first emerged to prominence in the NSDAP as Chief of the Nazi student movement, when in the winter of 1930-31 the NSDStB ran out a clear winner in student elections held at nine main German universities. In fact the German students associations were the first bodies of the Republic to be penetrated by the Nazis in this fashion, so much so that in 1931, the German student conference was presided over by an open Nazi. Finally there was the bid made by the Nazis for leadership in cultural affairs, one which in keeping with Hitler’s ultra-conservative opinions on art, [11] waged war on ‘cultural Bolshevism’ and all forms of modernism and experimentation. To this end the ‘Militant Association for German Culture’ was founded in October 1927.

This organisation was headed from the beginning by Rosenberg, who fancied himself as something of an authority on cultural matters. The following extract from his Myth of the Twentieth Century gives more than a hint of the tone and level of Rosenberg’s ‘criticism’:

... what Picasso had shamefully hidden behind geometrical patterns came out openly and insolently after the war. Mongrelism claimed that its bastardised progeny, nurtured by spiritual syphilis and artistic infantilism, was able to represent ‘expressions of the soul’. One should gaze long and hard upon something like Kokoschka’s Self Portrait in order to gain a half-way understanding of the monstrous inner-nature of this idiot-art...

On all these fronts then, the NSDAP entered the crisis year of 1929 well prepared to exploit the political opportunities created by the decay of the bourgeois party system – far more so than either the SPD or even the KPD.

Required now was an issue on which the party could campaign, presenting the Nazis as defenders of the German people, and at the same time enabling Hitler to establish the political links he so urgently needed with the leaders of the anti-Weimar bourgeois and Junker right. On the previous occasion when Hitler aligned his party with the conservative nationalist right, it was over a cause that was distinctly lacking in popular appeal – namely his opposition, together with all of the bourgeois parties save the DDP, to the demand for the expropriation of the princes. What Hitler – and the monarchist, ultra-nationalist right – required was a cause at once popular and ‘national’. The Müller government’s acceptance of the Young Plan, signed by its representative Schacht on 7 July 1929, provided them with just the club with which they could beat the Republic and its ‘Marxist’ rulers.

From the Young Referendum to 14 September

Exclusion from the government after the Reichstag elections of May 1928 accentuated the already powerful faction in the DNVP demanding a policy of all-out opposition to the republic. Its main spokesman was Alfred Hugenberg, former managing director of Krupps, and press and film tycoon extraordinary. In October 1928, he in fact deposed Count Westarp (regarded as the representative of Junker interests in the party) as DNVP Chairman, and used his position of leadership to draw the party, hitherto identified largely with the big agrarians, closer to the heavy industrialists of the Ruhr, who were becoming increasingly uneasy with Stresemann’s policy of coalition with the Social Democrats at home, and détente with Germany’s former imperialist enemies abroad. For Hugenberg, just as much as Hitler therefore, opposition to the Young Plan provided his party with an opportunity to indulge in a barrage of chauvinist demagogy against the exploitation of the German people by international finance and the ‘Western plutocracies’. Neither was Hugenberg alone in seeing the Young Plan in this light. Reactionary business leaders such as Vögler (who withdrew in protest from the German delegation to the Paris conference at the severity of the terms being imposed on German industry) and Schacht (who after some slight changes were made in its terms, denounced them as an attempt ‘to squeeze out of German industry special payments and sacrifices which go beyond the terms of the Young Plan’) certainly saw a campaign against the Young Plan as a double-edged sword. It was not only the first step that Germany had to take along the long road to the recovery of its lost imperialist and military might, but an issue around which the entire ‘national opposition’ could rally its divided forces for an assault on the entire Weimar system.

But Hitler entered the ranks of this bloc not, as befitted his social origins and murky political pedigree, a junior partner and loyal ally, but as a confident competitor, who understood that deprived of his party’s unrivalled abilities in reaching and mobilising the nationalist masses, the Hugenbergs and the Vöglers would fail just as their predecessors Kapp and Stinnes had done.

A Nazi leader of the time, Kurt Lüdecke, summed up well the ambivalent and always uneasy nature of the collaboration between Hitler and the traditional ultra-right when he observed:

Hugenberg had everything but the masses; Hitler had everything but the money. Financial difficulties had in fact continually hobbled the Nazi movement. Allocation of Reichswehr funds and large gifts from industrialists had virtually ceased with the failure of the Beer Hall Putsch... It was of the utmost importance to open up new sources. Hugenberg the monarchist and Hitler the Nazi dictator needed each other, and each was perfectly willing to use the other in the final onslaught on the despised Republic: both wanted to annihilate Marxism and destroy the Versailles Treaty. [12]

On 9 July, two days after the signing of the Young Plan, the leaders of the ‘National Opposition’ met in Berlin to found their ‘Reich Committee for the German Referendum’. The most prominent of its members were Hugenberg (DNVP) Class (Pan-German League), Seldte (Stahlhelm) [13] and Hitler (NSDAP). A little more than two years later, this alliance reassembled at Bad Harzburg to demand the removal of the Brüning government, branded by Junkers, military and big business alike for its reliance on the ‘toleration’ of Social Democracy; and for the last time in January 1933, when Hitler headed the now triumphant National Opposition as Chancellor of the government of ‘National Concentration’. The Völkischer Beobachter meant exactly what it said when at the outset of the campaign for a referendum on the Young Plan, it declared: ‘This is a struggle for control of the state.’ And Hitler’s future Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick left room for no doubts as to what this would mean for the workers’ movement when he declared to an anti-Young Plan rally in Pyritz on 18 October 1929, that:

... we [that is, the ‘National Opposition'] are determined to promulgate by force that which we preach. Just as Mussolini exterminated the Marxists in Italy, so we must succeed in accomplishing the same through dictatorship and terror.

Indeed, the final demand of the National Opposition’s four-point programme, drawn up by Hugenberg and adopted by the Reich Committee on 28 September 1929, specifically called for the imprisonment for a term of not less than two years for any politician (other than the President, who being Hindenburg, had to be exonerated from the ‘crimes’ in question) who betrayed Germany by ‘signing treaties with foreign powers’. (The other three demands were concerned with repudiating the ‘war guilt’ clauses in the Versailles and subsequent treaties forced on Germany after her defeat in the war and the imposition of heavier reparations payments.) The logic of the so-called ‘penitentiary clause’ would lead (if approved by either a majority of the Reichstag, or failing this, of the German electorate in the proposed referendum) to the arrest, trial and conviction of not only the SPD cabinet ministers, but also those of the bourgeois parties with whom they shared office at frequent intervals in the lifetime of the Republic. Even some of Hugenberg’s party colleagues shrank from pressing this demand, since it widened the gap between the DNVP and those parties and leaders whom the ‘moderate’ monarchists still hoped to win over to their bloc against Weimar. Naturally Hitler could only be delighted at the prospect of such a split, since it would render Hugenberg, irrevocably committed to a collision course with the bourgeois compromisers, even more dependent on the Nazis than hitherto. The rift in the DNVP burst into public view when, in accordance with the Weimar Constitution, the National Opposition’s so-called ‘Freedom Law’ (having gained the necessary number of signatures – 10 per cent of the total electorate) came before the Reichstag. On the first three demands, the Hugenberg – Hitler bloc held together well, registering 82 votes on each occasion (the DNVP had 73 Reichstag deputies, the NSDAP 12). But when the vote was taken on the final clause, the anti-Weimar bloc disintegrated. Twenty-three DNVP deputies refused to follow Hugenberg and the Nazis in supporting the demand for the jailing of past and present government leaders and state officials. Once again the internal divisions within the German ruling class had proved themselves to be so profound as to be impossible to conceal. An entire section of the DNVP leadership including Hans Schlange-Schöningen, Hans von Lindeiner-Wildau, Walter von Keudell, Martin Schiele, Otto Hoetzsch, Count Kuno Westarp and Gottfried Treviranus all broke with Hugenberg; the last-named to found his own party, the small but in agrarian circles highly influential ‘People’s Conservative Association’. In fact the split flowed not only from Hugenberg’s determination to pursue his alliance with Hitler at the risk of alienating his more moderate party colleagues, but from the former’s line of promoting the interests of heavy industry in the party to the detriment of the big agrarians. Not only Westarp, but Schiele, the President of the Landbund, found their position in the party challenged on this issue, and this undoubtedly accelerated their departure. While the Young Plan referendum campaign brought little but strife for the monarchists, the Nazis went on from strength to strength, thriving on the notoriety their rabble-rousing earned them in more respectable bourgeois circles, and exploiting their newly-won foothold in the ‘national’ camp to gain access to doors that previously had been firmly shut in their faces. The early fruits of Hitler’s participation in the ‘National Opposition’ were already evident at the NSDAP rally at Nuremburg in August 1929, where, for the first time, the Nazis were able to parade in their tens of thousands the forces won over the previous year and a half, as the result of Hitler’s turn towards the rural and urban petit-bourgeoisie.

With party membership now climbing above the 100 000 mark, Hitler was at last beginning to attract and organise the masses on which his goal of unleashing a counter-revolution ‘from below’ depended. [14] And also present, as the representative of the other and equally necessary partner in this reactionary strategy was Ruhr tycoon Emil Kirdorf, Hitler’s guest of honour. Kirdorf must have been deeply impressed by what he saw and heard at Nuremburg, for on his return home he wrote a letter to his host, one full of praise for the Nazi Party and its struggle against ‘the brutal attacks of the Communists’:

We shall never forget how overwhelmed we were... at the sight of your troops marching by... of thousands and thousands of supporters, their eyes bright with enthusiasm, who hung on your lips and cheered you. The sight of the endless crowd, cheering you and stretching out their hands to you at the end of the parade, was positively overwhelming. At this moment I, who is filled with despair by the degeneration of our masses and the failure of our bourgeois circles towards the future of Germany, suddenly realised why you believe and trust unflinchingly in the fulfilment of the task you have set yourself... Any man who in these days, dominated by a brutal destruction of the patriotic qualities, could gather together and chain to himself such a troop of national-minded racial comrades, ready for every sacrifice, is entitled to nourish this confidence. You may be proud of the honours and homages done you; there is hardly a crowned head who receives their equal... Even if my doubts in the future of the German people cannot be entirely dispelled, since my observation, extending years back into the Bismarckian golden age of Germany and farther, has shown that the German bourgeoisie are nationally speaking at a low level such as can be found in no other country, yet I have taken with me from the Nuremberg Congress the consoling certainty that numerous circles will sacrifice themselves to prevent the doom of Germanism from being accomplished in the dishonourable, undignified way I previously feared... [Emphasis added]

What stands out in this letter is not merely Kirdorf’s easy assimilation of certain Nazi turns of phrase (such as ‘racial comrades’) but his far more important agreement with Hitler’s estimation of the political and ‘national’ capacities of the German bourgeoisie. This could only mean that a significant, if as yet small, proportion of the industrial and banking bourgeoisie were beginning to rebel against the tutelage of their governmental and party representatives; which, when taken together with the more advanced and contradictory revolt of the petit-bourgeoisie against the entire Weimar system, marked a definite shift in German politics away from the compromise of 1924-28 towards the crisis years of 1930-33. Kirdorf’s open espousal of the Nazi cause, together with Hitler’s participation in the National Opposition, showed that the old party system and relationships were being threatened and undermined not only ‘from below’ by the Nazi plebeians, but ‘from above’, by the king-makers – and breakers – of the Ruhr. For what Hitler offered them – at a price that in more peaceful times they would never have paid – was a mass movement that could, unlike the Stahlhelm and the other monarchist and traditional leagues, really achieve what reactionary tycoons and financiers such as Kirdorf, Thyssen, Vögler and Schacht had been demanding over the past years – the annihilation of Marxism. Only a movement that matched mass for mass, violence for violence, could hope to defeat the millions-strong organisations of the German proletariat, the truth Hitler hammered home to Kirdorf and his 60 000 assembled Nazis at the 1929 party rally:

Let us glance at the development of Marxism in Germany! Wherever a revolt takes place, it is always against weakness and never against strength. Marxism created a community of force-filled men... Where force, determination, boldness, ruthlessness – where these qualities are harnessed to the service of a bad cause, they can overthrow the state. The presupposition is a demand which it itself in turn demands force of the individual... That is why great movements in world history have been able to conquer despite apparently insuperable obstacles... Therein lies [also] the future of our movement, that slowly, imperturbably, by this process we assemble the historic minority which in Germany perhaps will constitute six to eight hundred thousand men. If you have these men united as the membership of a movement, you have created the centre of gravity of the state... That is the number which alone is worth anything. All the others only come along when we line up in march columns... First we shall draw their valuable men from all the national parties, and finally from the international ones as well. What then remains is the crowd; not persons but numbers that hand in a ballot. That is the great mass. [Emphasis added]

Note the change of emphasis and priority in Hitler’s recruitment perspective. First the ‘nationals’, the bourgeoisie and middle class; and only then, when the Nazis ‘line up in march columns’ and are able therefore to supplement their verbal and written propaganda with massively applied brute force, will inroads be made into the ‘internationals’, the workers of the SPD and the KPD. Also of importance was Hitler’s declared belief that the progress of his movement would continue to be as slow and unspectacular as it had over the previous period. Neither Hitler nor any of the Nazi high command seems to have had the least presentiment of the stupendous election victory their party would be registering a mere 13 months later.

The Nazis did not limit their search for influential allies to industrialists and monarchist politicians. Preparing for the day that in 1929 still seemed far distant, Hitler was already busy tunnelling under one of the most important foundations of the rickety Weimar edifice – the loyalty of the armed forces. Tested and found wanting in the Kapp Putsch, Hitler quite correctly saw it as being highly vulnerable to a movement that pledged itself to restoring all Germany’s lost military might and glory; and more than that (for such had been Kapp’s intention), had given tangible proof of the ability to honour its promises.

Here Nazi propaganda was skilfully directed not so much at the senior officers of the general staff, for the most part conservative monarchists who to a greater or lesser degree had adapted themselves to the republic and even the Versailles Treaty, but the young junior officers. Nazi emphasis on the ‘dynamism’ of youth, Germany’s mission as an organising force in European politics, the sacred tradition of Prussian arms despoiled by the pacifists and internationalists who ruled Weimar, the treacherous ‘stab in the back’ that robbed Germany of victory in the Great War – these themes all no doubt played their part in attracting to National Socialism a sizeable section of the middle and lower-ranking officers of the Reichswehr, many of whom had not the slightest prospect of promotion (or seeing active service) while Germany remained subject to the strict military limitations imposed by the Versailles Treaty. The year of 1929 saw the publication of the first of a series of NSDAP pamphlets on military affairs, their constant theme being that only a regime anchored in the masses could provide the basis upon which could be rebuilt the army that every ‘national-minded’ German and especially soldier yearned for. In the words of Major H Foertsch, who wrote the first of these pamphlets:

.... revolutions which are made by the army alone usually destroy the foundations of the army. They do not last long; the confidence of the people has always been a sounder basis for state leadership than guns or bayonets.

So in making his bid for the leadership of the younger ‘idealistic’ officers of the army, Hitler was not for one moment yielding on the principle that had led to the resignation of Röhm from the SA command. The first duty of a National Socialist officer was to forge the political weapons that alone could make possible the resurgence of German militarism and imperialism. And on this issue, Hitler was proved right. The first obstacle to be overcome was not the Versailles Treaty (however useful opposition to it might be for demagogic purposes) but the domestic enemy. As Hitler declared to a rally in Munich on 15 March 1929:

You, as officers, cannot maintain that you do not care about the fate of the nation... Either you have a healthy state with a really valuable military organisation, which means the destruction of Marxism, or you have a flourishing Marxist state which means the annihilation of the military organisation capable of serving the highest purposes... [Under a democratic-Marxist government]... you may then become hangmen of the regime and political commissars, and if you do not behave, your wife and child will be put behind bars; and if you still do not behave, you will be thrown out and perhaps stood up against a wall... [Which is precisely what happened to scores of officers in July 1944 after the failure of their attempt to assassinate Hitler! – RB]

There was in fact little need to draw in such lurid colours the possible fate that awaited the German officer under ‘Marxism’. Many were convinced that the Nazis possessed not only the answer to their own private career problems, but also held the key to the solution of the ‘social question’, without whose resolution the entire proletariat would become increasingly estranged from the ‘national’ cause and its arms bearers. On 6 March 1930, the young lieutenants Richard Scheringer and Hans Ludin, both of the Fifth Artillery Regiment, were arrested at the Ulm garrison on the charge of spreading Nazi propaganda in the army (an Order of the Day issued by Defence Minister Gröner on 22 January 1930, had condemned the NSDAP for its attempts to subvert the loyalty of officers to their commanders and to the state). Subsequent investigations revealed that the two officers had, after reading Nazi periodicals, visited the party headquarters in Munich, where they met SA leader von Pfeffer and chief of staff Otto Wagener. Plans were agreed whereby the two lieutenants would work among their fellow officers to extend Nazi influence in the army, which Scheringer and Ludin proceeded to do with much enthusiasm and little discretion. The trial of the two officers (together with a third, First Lieutenant Hans Wendt, who was arrested shortly after Ludin and Scheringer as one of their first converts) took place only days after the Nazi election triumph of 14 September 1930, and therefore at a time when the NSDAP had firmly established itself in the public eye as a serious contender for power. But their arrest earlier the same year gave proof that Hitler’s new strategy of seeking allies from within the prevailing economic, military and political structure, rather than of challenging it head-on from without, was bearing fruit. Further evidence of the party’s success in tapping the social reserves latent in the disaffected petit-bourgeois masses came in the landtag elections in Thuringia and Saxony. In the former state, the NSDAP had, as late as 1927, won but 4.6 per cent of the total poll. Two years later, in December 1929, the NSDAP vote more than doubled to 11.3 per cent.

With its representation in the state parliament greatly strengthened, the party was able to gain admittance for the first time to an all-bourgeois coalition cabinet, with Dr Frick enjoying a trial run for his future post in the Third Reich as Thuringia’s Minister of the Interior. Without Hitler’s participation in the National Opposition campaign against the Young Plan, Frick, despite his impeccable bourgeois credentials and views, would scarcely have landed such a strategic post. The Nazi upstarts had ‘arrived’. The next big election advance was achieved in Saxony. Here, in May 1929, the NSDAP gained five per cent of the total vote. Thirteen months later, this proportion nearly tripled, to 14.4 per cent! Clearly, deep-going and hitherto largely subterranean shifts were in progress among wide layers of the German population, ranging from the upper levels of the bourgeoisie, down through the middle class to its very lowest reaches, and even beyond into the fringes of the more backward and unorganised sections of the proletariat. The crisis now confronted every small property owner with the immediate prospect of bankruptcy, pauperisation and, worst of all, the sudden brutal plunge into the ranks of the despised working class. Nazi propaganda harped on this dread for all it was worth. For two years now they had been preparing for such a situation.

Far ahead of all the bourgeois parties (and indeed also the workers’ movement) in propaganda methods, the NSDAP harnessed all the latest techniques of mass communication to drive home their brutally simple ‘big lie’ that the Jews and the Marxists were the cause of all Germany’s woes. Schools were regularly run to recruit and train agitators and public speakers to work among the masses in the big cities and towns in direct competition with the SPD and KPD (even using tunes from workers’ songs set to Nazi words), while film units were equipped to take the fascist gospel to the remotest hamlets. Target areas would be selected on the basis of past performance and class composition, and subjected to a veritable blitz of demonstrations, rallies, meetings, door-to-door canvassing and the massive distribution of free Nazi literature. Even in the Saxon elections of May 1929, the party staged more than 1300 rallies in the state, more than half being held in the Erzgebirge region, where marginal farmers were threatened with ruin as a result of the rapidly worsening agrarian crisis. But despite its formidable array of propaganda resources (only made possible by the increasing supply of funds from heavy industry) the Nazis still found the going very tough in the proletarian quarters of the big cities. Thus in the December 1929 communal elections, the NSDAP improved markedly on its poor vote in the Reichstag elections of May 1928, in Berlin netting 5.7 per cent of the poll as compared with 1.5 per cent in 1928. However a closer examination of the Berlin returns indicates that even here, in a city overwhelmingly proletarian in composition, the NSDAP was only attracting the petit-bourgeoisie to its banner. While the party did well in middle-class districts, no Nazi candidates were returned in the strongly working-class areas of Wedding, Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain, Neuköln, Treptow, Köpenick, Lichtenberg, Weissensee and Pankow. (The same pattern emerged in the Reichstag elections of 1930. Whereas the NSDAP vote was 17.7 per cent in upper and middle-class Zehlendorf, and 25.8 per cent in middle-class Steglitz, the Nazis could only register 8.9 per cent in proletarian ‘red’ Wedding, as compared with a national poll of 18.3 per cent.)

As polling day approached (Chancellor Brüning had asked President Hindenburg to dissolve the Reichstag after it had voted down his emergency proposals to deal with the economic crisis) and the whole of Germany resounded to the blast of Nazi propaganda, it became obvious to most political observers – though not, as we shall see in a note to this chapter, to all – that Hitler’s participation in the Young Plan referendum, while exposing him to charges from the old Nazi ‘left’ that he had sold out to the bourgeoisie, had helped provide his movement with the political links and resources, without which all his plans for a fascist counter-revolution would remain idle dreams. Lüdecke commented that while Hitler did indeed have to take account of the opinions of the ‘radical wing of the party – the Strassers, Feders and Reventlows’ – they had to be ‘made to understand the expediency of his policy, knowing only too well that propaganda costs money, and that somebody has to pay for it’. [15] Hitler cared not one jot that on 22 December 1929, when Germany voted on the Young Plan referendum, only 5.8 million of the 21 million electors required to make it law bothered to ballot in favour of the Hitler-Hugenberg proposals.

What did count was that Hitler had seized the opportunity to address and subvert the millions of petit-bourgeois ultra-nationalists who previously had loyally followed the DNVP:

The referendum was a failure, but that did not matter. Hugenberg’s defeat was Hitler’s victory. Hugenberg had provided the Nazi chief with profitable and promising contacts with Big Business and with the prominent men of the land. At last political funds, dependable and abundant money sources were open to him... Hitler found himself finally established in North Germany, in Prussia. He could be sure that at least half of the six millions who had voted for the DNVP would go Nazi at the next elections. Hugenberg had given Hitler his chance to make the Nazi movement a really popular party. [16]

Lüdecke’s estimation of the value of the Young Plan campaign to the Nazis is shared by another member of Hitler’s entourage at that time, Ernst Hanfstaengl:

Hitler had succeeded in impressing his abilities as propagandist and politician on several of the Ruhr magnates, who had previously confined their support to Hugenberg. [Thus Hitler was undermining the DNVP leader both from above as well as from below – RB] Through a young man named Otto Dietrich, who had family connections in the Ruhr [17] and had become Hitler’s press relations officer, Hitler met Emil Kirdorf, who with Fritz Thyssen started paying the Nazis quite large subsidies. It was certainly a larger and more regular income than they had ever had... Needless to say, this gave a great fillip to the party organisation, and with political success and an appeal which was now for the first time national rather than regional, Hitler and his supporters started to bloom visibly. A large mansion on the Brienner-strasse was purchased as party headquarters and became the famous Brown House. It was the turning point, and with the spread to Europe in general and Germany in particular of the consequences of the economic crisis in America, Hitler once more had fertile political ground in which to sow his seeds. [18]

Indeed, certain of the Ruhr tycoons were already proving themselves most solicitous where the comforts of the Nazi leadership were concerned, as Thyssen freely admits in his own memoirs:

Rudolf Hess was instrumental in bringing about a closer personal association between the Nazis and myself. He came to me sometime in 1928, on the initiative of old Geheimrat Kirdorf, for many years the director-general of the Rhenish-Westphalian Coal Syndicate, with whom I was on friendly terms. Hess explained to me that the Nazis had bought the Brown House in Munich and had great difficulty in paying for it. I placed Hess in possession of the required funds... Hermann Goering [19] I came to know in the following manner. One day the son of one of the directors of my coal-mining companies, a certain Herr Tengelmann, came to me. ‘Listen to me’, he said, ‘there exists in Berlin a Herr Goering. He is trying very hard to do some good for the German people, but he is finding little encouragement on the part of the German industrialists. Wouldn’t you like to make his acquaintance?’ In consequence of this suggestion I met Goering in due course. He lived in a very small apartment in those days, and he was anxious to enlarge it in order to cut a better figure. [Purely to ‘do some good for the German people’ of course – RB] I paid the cost of this improvement. [20]

And, in the vital election of 1930, for a lot more besides. As his closest aides and business supporters confirm, without the greatly increased and more frequent cash gifts from the Ruhr, the Nazis would have lacked the financial resources essential for a movement that relied to such a great extent on the written word and mass meeting to win its mass support. Hitler could not appeal to old party loyalties in the way that the leaders of the main bourgeois parties did. On the contrary, he was fighting to wrench their middle-class following away from the old party system and over into the camp of National Socialism. By the very nature of its tasks, Nazi propaganda had to be aggressive, offensive, intolerant and all-pervading. Ultra-reactionary industrialists such as Thyssen, Kirdorf and the Tengelmanns, and the Saxony textile manufacturer Mutschmann (who Hitler once said ‘collected the most money for the party’) ensured that it was. By 1930, the NSDAP had built up from a single daily – the Völkischer Beobachter – to 19, while party membership, which in the early months of 1929 had been below the 100 000 mark, stood a year later, in March 1930, at 210 000 – almost double that of the KPD. Not that Hitler had won the confidence of all the business world, or even the majority of heavy industrialists, who were most attracted to his programme of militant anti-communism and an aggressive foreign policy backed by a mighty German army. While Thyssen was busy canvassing and raising cash for the Nazis, [21] the all-powerful Federation of German Industries, not without some inner qualms and conflicts, came down prior to the September 1930 Reichstag elections on the side of those parties that supported both the republic and the need for drastic financial reforms, which could only mean the DVP and possibly the Centre. But there was praise, if not open endorsement, for all parties that opposed ‘collectivism’ and supported private enterprise, under which heading could of course be included the NSDAP.

The election results themselves stunned everyone. Neither the Nazis nor their opponents had expected the NSDAP vote to multiply itself more than eight-fold on the 810 000 recorded in May 1928. Certainly not Hitler’s erstwhile ‘national comrades’ in the fight against the Young Plan, who in a DNVP manifesto published on the very eve of the election that gave 6 409 600 votes to the NSDAP (making it the second party in the land) ridiculed Hitler’s claims to leadership of the national movement:

How can any party pretend to be patriotic and so save the fatherland, if it fights against the largest of the national parties? How can these little [sic!] parties and groups help the fatherland when they fight constantly amongst themselves and jeopardise therewith the victory of the national movement? National Socialism is just as evil as Marxism. The future of Germany does not rest with National Socialism, but with the unity of the entire national movement.

Hugenberg, a politically obtuse man, simply could not appreciate the unpalatable truth that, like his counterparts in the other bourgeois parties with the exception of the Centre, the economic crisis was transforming him into an officer without an army. The election returns for the voting of 14 September showed that while the two workers’ parties had stood up well to the Nazi onslaught (with the KPD gaining at the expense of the SPD), the grip of the DVP, DDP (which fought the elections under its distinctly authoritarian new name of State Party) and DNVP on the middle-class masses was being loosened and, in some key areas, broken. First, the national results.

PartyVotes (millions)Per centDeputies
KPD & SPD13.212.537.6 40.4220207
Other agrarians1.
Total bourgeois & agrarians7.09.819.8 31.7119164
Economic Party1.

Set out in this way the above table indicates how successful had been Hitler’s post-1927 strategy of seeking support amongst the followers of the ‘national parties’, chiefly the urban and rural petit-bourgeoisie. The results also showed that the party which, as a legacy from Hitler’s early years under the tutelage of Feder and Drexler, styled itself both proletarian and socialist, had made not the slightest impact on the following of the two workers’ parties (indeed, their combined vote had increased by 0.7 million). The 5.6 million new Nazi voters came mainly from the old bourgeois-agrarian parties, those ‘marginal’ sections of the population who had never bothered to vote in previous elections but had now been stirred into action by the depth of the crisis and the sheer volume of Nazi propaganda; and finally, young people voting for the first time. The Economic Party stood up well to the Nazi challenge partly because it, like the NSDAP whose pale reflection it was, also put forward a programme designed to attract the small property-owner. For this reason, since it had no pretensions to serving the big bourgeoisie, it has been placed in a separate category. Likewise, though for different reasons, the two Catholic parties retained their following by virtue of their appeal to centuries-old confessional loyalties.

The social and party sources of the Nazi vote are also indicated by the returns from the individual electoral districts.

DistrictBourgeois PartiesNSDAPKPD & SPD
Berlin – I18.226.612.81.461.063.6
Pomerania – A30.650.024.31.533.536.3
S-Holstein – A18.039.427.04.040.443.2
E Düsseldorf – I12.124.717.01.839.741.4
Franconia – A5.824.420.58.130.331.5
Leipzig – I16.325.614.01.952.153.1
I = industrial; A = agricultural

The same pattern prevailed throughout the remainder of Germany’s 35 electoral districts, being one of the Nazis gaining everywhere from the main non-confessional bourgeois-Junker parties, and registering their biggest successes in regions with a large rural and therefore petit-bourgeois population. And, as we have already noted in the case of Berlin, even where Nazis gained votes in the big towns, it was once more in those districts where middle class predominated over proletariat. The first conclusion we must therefore draw from the 1930 Reichstag elections is that the Nazis were well on the road to capturing the middle-class mass following of the old capitalist and landlord parties, but as yet had utterly failed to dent the armour of the workers’ movement, represented politically by the SPD and the KPD. But, as Trotsky warned in his article on the German situation in the wake of the Nazi election success, grave dangers awaited the German proletariat and its vanguard in the KPD if the threat posed by the vote of 14 September was not appreciated and combated in good time by those whose political duty it was to sound the alarm:

The fact that it [National Socialism] gained the possibility of taking up such a powerful starting position on the eve of a revolutionary period and not at its conclusion is not the weak side of fascism but the weak side of Communism. The petit-bourgeoisie does not wait, consequently, for new disappointments in the ability of the [Communist] Party to improve its fate; it bases itself upon the experiences of the past, remembering the lesson of 1923, the capricious leaps of the ultra-left course of Maslow – Thälmann, the opportunist impotence of the same Thälmann, the clatter of the ‘Third Period’ etc. Finally – and this is the most important – its lack of faith in the proletarian revolution is nourished by the lack of faith in the Communist Party on the part of millions of Social Democratic workers. The petit-bourgeoisie, even when completely thrown off the conservative road by circumstances, can turn to social revolution only when the sympathies of the majority of the working class are for a social revolution. Precisely this most important condition is still lacking in Germany... Fascism in Germany has become a real danger, as an acute expression of the helpless position of the bourgeois regime, the conservative role of the Social Democracy in this regime, and the accumulated powerlessness of the Communist Party to abolish it. Whoever denies this is either blind or a braggart. In 1923, Brandler, in spite of all our warnings [and, one might add, on the advice of Stalin – RB] monstrously exaggerated the forces of fascism. From the wrong evaluation of forces grew a hesitating, evasive, defensive, cowardly policy. This destroyed the revolution. Such events do not pass without leaving traces in the consciousness of all classes of the nation. The overestimation of fascism by the Communist leadership created one of the conditions for its further strengthening. The contrary mistake, this very underestimation of fascism by the present leadership of the Communist Party, may lead the revolution to a more severe crash for many years to come. [22]

And as the following note bears out, they did not merely underestimate the fascist threat from the Nazis – they even denied its existence. Fascism was indeed coming, said the Stalinists, but via the SPD.

Appendix: The KPD and the Nazi Threat

Throughout the year between the commencement of the National Opposition campaign against the Young Plan to the very eve of the Nazi election triumph on 14 September 1930, the KPD paid scarcely any attention to the monster that was daily growing stronger and more bold within their midst. For acting strictly in accordance with the Stalinist line laid down with ever more insistence and emphasis since the Sixth CI Congress of 1928, the KPD hurled all its bolts against the ‘main enemy’ of the working class – the ‘social fascists’ of the SPD and the ADGB. They, and not Hitler’s Nazis, were deemed to be the agents of ‘fascisation’ in Germany. Gusiev, for example, heaped scorn and derision on the Brandler group for (quite correctly) insisting that the Social Democrats were not social fascists, that ‘they are only [sic!] laying down the road for fascism... “at a time when the policy of the Social Democratic leaders represents the policy of trust capital and is preliminary work for the fascist dictatorship [while] the Hitlerite fascist bands and the Stahlhelm are on the other side gathering in order to make the fascist dictatorship the question of the day"’. (The excerpt quoted by Gusiev is from Against the Current, no 20) This analysis did not at all please Gusiev, anxious to win his Stalinist ultra-left spurs. For it depicted as the executors of the coming fascist dictatorship not the SPD leaders who had been allotted the humble role of ‘preliminary work’ but the Nazis and their monarchist allies. How could this be, when the Stalin line ordained that everywhere, from Australia and Latin America to Britain and Germany, the Social Democrats were the force selected by the bourgeoisie to institute and implement the fascist dictatorship? Gusiev had at least grasped this essential, for he declared quite bluntly that:

... the Müller and Macdonald governments have accepted the task entrusted to them by the bourgeoisie – to break up the rising movements of the workers, establish a fascist dictatorship and prepare for war, war first and foremost on the USSR. [23]

Never for one moment did it occur to such products of the Stalin school of leftism that Hitler, and not the reformists, might undertake these tasks – smashing en route the movement led by the Müller ‘social fascists’. And even when, later that same year, the launching of the Young Plan campaign by Hitler and Hugenberg compelled the Stalinists finally to acknowledge the existence of the Nazi Party (till then, it had hardly received a single mention in the Comintern press, a truly fantastic state of affairs), it was presented in such a way calculated to downgrade its counter-revolutionary significance. Thus one article, attempting to give a ‘theoretical’ basis to the theory of social fascism, blandly declared in complete defiance of the facts, that Social Democracy was seeking to base its ‘fascist’ rule on the labour aristocracy, a stratum most ill-suited to defending a Nazi-style dictatorship, since it would mean the end of all its economic, social and political privileges, which would be usurped by the fascist petit-bourgeois plebeians. Such subtleties, which could have been verified by the experience of Fascist rule in Italy, were of no concern to Gerber, the author of the article in question. His job was to ‘prove’ that Social Democracy had not only turned fascist, but had become irrevocably fused with the bourgeois state, together with hordes of its working-class members and supporters:

A wide labour bureaucracy arises, rooted below in the mass organisations and reaching above to all branches of the state apparatus. Thus bureaucracy serves as an excellent means of imposing the will of finance capital on the workers influenced by the reformists... The character of German social fascism is determined by this new type of corrupted labour aristocracy. [24]

So ‘excellent’ that these same finance capitalists were within months of driving the political representatives of this bureaucracy from office, the first step in the onslaught that was to lead to its destruction at the hands of the Nazis in the spring of 1933. But even these wildly inaccurate statements concerning the relationship between Social Democracy and the crisis-ridden German bourgeoisie did not suffice. Above all, it had to be ‘proved’ that the ‘social fascists’ were more fascist than the real fascists: ‘The element most prominently developed in German Social Democracy is the fascist economic programme. It is clearer and stronger than in the openly fascist organisations.’ [25] (The latter surely therefore should have been termed henceforth the ‘less openly fascist organisations’.) And for good measure, the ADGB was brought into the act: ‘The greatest political advance of German social fascism at the present time is probably the progress of the trade unions and other mass organisations along this road.’ [26] The stage was thus set for the complete social transformation of the reformist party and unions from organisations comprised of workers into a classic fascist party of petit-bourgeois masses and declassed proletarians:

Magdeburg brought the ideological development of German social fascism to a certain provisional conclusion. In its counter-revolutionary activities Social Democracy will cast off the last ‘shackles’ of its past – and also thousands of workers it has misled in the past – and, by virtue of its position, will become the strongest counter-revolutionary force in the country, attracting to itself the labour aristocracy and numerous petit-bourgeois elements. Every step on the road to social fascism means accelerating and extending the next steps, as it affects the social structure of the party, repulsing the workers and attracting the petit-bourgeoisie. The new elements that have come into the party will start with the ‘provisional’ justification of war and dictatorship and will, in practice, reach their ideological justification, will reach 100 per cent fascism (which the leaders have done long ago). [27]

All a worker could conclude from reading such an article, one truly astounding for its abysmal lack of a theoretical approach to the workers’ movement, was that the German bourgeoisie had no need of an alternative fascist movement to the reformists, since they were perfectly capable of doing the job of smashing the working-class movement (which now by definition excluded the six million strong organisations of the reformists) by themselves. And moreover, no such mass fascist alternative to the SPD and ADGB could appear, since according to Greber, the Social Democrats were attracting all the petit-bourgeois elements who provide the core of any fascist party. Reality was quite different. The 1930 election results were to show that a significant fraction of the SPD middle-class vote defected to the Nazis, an opposite trend to the one portrayed in such loving detail by Greber.

The most conceded by the Stalinists was that the ‘social fascists’ might permit the bourgeois parties to share power with them, but even then it was obligatory to depict the reformists as the dominant partners in such a bloc. Anything less than this, even to give a hint that the Social Democrats might be in danger of ceding their cabinet posts to right-wing parties such as the DNVP, was taken as a sign of opportunism, of conciliation towards the ‘right deviation’, or worse still, actual support for it. Thus it was by no means the wildest of ultra-lefts who wrote, in relation to the Young Plan referendum (specifically directed against the Müller government and the reformists) that:

... the aim of German trust capital [that is, those backing the National Opposition] is to create a broad and stable [sic!] coalition extending from the agrarians [DNVP] to the social fascist bureaucracy and the trade unions, [for] the social fascist civil servants, police presidents, police ministers, etc, are counted among the most useful and efficient tools for promoting the imperialist development of the German bourgeoisie. [28]

Again we should note that these ‘most useful and efficient tools’ were unceremoniously booted out of office by either von Papen or Hitler, even on one famous occasion ending up on the wrong side of the Police Minister’s own prison! But most criminal of all was the line being peddled that the trade unions, five million strong, and faced with a life or death struggle for their very right to exist, were already totally under the control of the bourgeois state. What conclusion was a Social Democratic (or Communist for that matter) trade unionist supposed to draw from the following pronouncement? Only, surely, that the fascists had already destroyed his union, and the sooner he left it for a pure ‘red’ one, the better:

The social fascist leaders of the trade unions are without exception going over to the camp of the class enemy... [therefore] at present the German workers, since their unions have turned fascist, even lack that organised basis for their struggle which they possessed before the war. [29]

So defeatist was this line – which flowed organically from Stalin’s brilliant discovery that the best, most revolutionary workers were to be found outside the ‘social fascist’ unions – that it provoked open opposition inside the KPD. Those who doubted the final destruction of independent class trade unionism in Germany (and under a reformist government remember) were warned that inside the party ‘strong trade union legalist tendencies still exist’ – a euphemism for the healthy class instinct of the worker who wanted to continue the struggle in his trade union to make its leaders do the job they were paid to do – fight the boss. But for the Moscow and Berlin apparatus men, who cared not a hoot for the fate of the German or any other trade unions, the fascisation of the ADGB was a blessing in a rather thin disguise. What was a defeat for the five million workers of the ADGB was a victory for the KPD. It could now prepare the launching of its own untarnished trade union movement:

There is, as a result [of this ‘trade union legalism'], a lack of understanding of the great importance of the new forms of organisation which will serve to strengthen the party’s influence among the masses. [30]

Once more, we see the utterly false notion that with every advance of fascism (still social fascism at this stage) favourable conditions are created for the strengthening of Communism. The prize for the most obtuse contribution of all on this question of the ‘fascisation’ of the SPD and the ADGB must, however, be awarded to the Communist International editorial on the Wall Street crash. The coming slump, it was argued, far from cutting the ground from under the feet of the reformists and forcing them out of office (as in fact did happen, not only in Germany, but a year and a half later in Britain) would, the Comintern organ said, only facilitate greater and more rapid fusion between a rapidly fascising Social Democracy and the bourgeois state:

Everywhere the bourgeoisie is entering upon a swift and resolute liquidation of ‘democracy’ [if the quotation marks imply that such democracy is not real then why need fascism to liquidate it? – RB] and the establishment of a fascist regime, whether by a legal parliamentary path or by a coup d'état is a matter of indifference [sic!]... There is no longer any need for discussion whether the state is being fascised, whether ‘bourgeois democracy’ [again the implication being that no such system of government ever existed – RB] is being outlived, whether the Social Democratic parties are transformed into social fascist parties or not... At this late stage there is surely no need to show that Social Democracy, now transformed into social fascism [having accomplished the transformation in a couple of lines! – RB] has played and is playing the most active part in the process of transforming bourgeois democracy into fascist dictatorship. Everything, literally everything that the Comintern Sixth Congress and the ECCI Tenth Plenum stated concerning the evolution of Social Democracy into a social fascist organisation, welded for good and ill with the bourgeois state apparatus, and also being fascised, has been brilliantly confirmed by the course of events. [The author of this article would have been well advised to display a little more modesty: his ‘brilliant confirmation’ was to soon take a nasty knock with the fall of Hermann Müller, ‘welded for good and ill with the bourgeois state apparatus’, and in July 1932, with the forced ejection of the SPD government in Prussia by Chancellor von Papen – RB] ... Everywhere the bourgeois states are becoming more fascist and everywhere at the present time Social Democracy, closely fused with the state machine and with the ruling capitalists, has become social fascist, is actually participating in the fascisation of the state. [31]

And still the Comintern and the KPD clung to their obstinate denial of the existence of any save a theatrical struggle between Social Democracy and fascism. To admit that this conflict might have some basis in the incompatibility of Social Democracy with the rule of fascism (something the Workers Press also experiences difficulty in conceding, as if this would somehow imply an opportunist capitulation to reformism – hence its strident and monotonous incantations of ‘corporatism’ every time a trade union leader engages in class collaboration with the employers and the Tories) was to run the risk of undermining the entire theoretical structure of Stalin’s proposition, first made in 1924, that fascism and Social Democracy were not ‘antipodes’ but ‘twins’. But the greatest textual dexterity and audacity were demanded to accomplish this task, since the Nazis were swarming in their thousands all over Germany, attacking and breaking up the meetings of their ‘twins’ in a most unbrotherly manner:

For their part, the great bourgeoisie, dominating in the state, contraposes the national fascists [that is, the Nazis] to the social fascists, frightening the latter with the former, in order to hasten the social fascist lackeys in their unconditional acceptance of the bourgeois fascist programme.

Why the ‘social fascists’ should have been frightened by their ‘national fascist’ twins is beyond comprehension. However, some explanation had to be given to Communist Party workers who were finding the line that the two were ‘fused’ into a single bloc refuted every day by their own experiences in the class struggle. And so the article continued:

At the moment we have the semblance of a struggle or even an intensification of the struggle between the national fascists and the social fascists, whilst in fact both of them are now cooperating by all means with finance capitalists in establishing an open fascist dictatorship... Consequently at the present time one of the most urgent tasks of the Communist parties is to struggle against the illusion that social fascism is capable of or is preparing to wage a genuine struggle against national fascism, even out of ‘competitive’ motives. [32]

But that was, hardly the issue, as Trotsky repeatedly emphasised in his polemics against ‘Third Period’ Stalinism. The real point, and the one that not only the KPD denied, but also appears to have eluded Workers Press in its analysis of the relations between the ruling class in Britain and its Social Democratic servitors, is that it is completely irrelevant whether reformists seek such a confrontation with the bourgeoisie and its most reactionary political agents. As the example of Germany – and much more recently, Chile – proves beyond all doubt, this conflict is forced upon them: inability to grasp this very fundamental fact of political life left the KPD groping to find an answer as to why the ‘national fascists’ and the ‘social fascists’ were coming to blows in Germany when, according to Stalin’s theory, they should have been working in the closest harmony. Likewise with the Workers Press; it too is at a complete loss to explain how and why left reformists such as Benn can arouse the ire of the bourgeois press, since according to their updated and superficially ‘de-Stalinised’ version of the Third Period theory that reformists are social fascists, Benn and his ilk are ‘corporatists’. Any conflict with the bourgeoisie must therefore be a creation of the ‘confusion-mongers’ of the press, specially devised, staged and reported to dupe workers who would otherwise find their way into the ranks of the WRP. Its revision of Trotsky on this question becomes increasingly obvious – and criminal – the more we study the line being pumped into the heads of literally millions of workers in Germany at a time when the forces of counter-revolution were gathering speed almost daily. For what does the article in question say?

That our task today consists in explaining to the masses that the question today is not a ‘struggle’ between social fascism and national fascism, but their increasing cooperation with each other, which at a certain stage will pass into an organisational fusion. [33]

Now it is perfectly true that the WRP has not yet degenerated theoretically to the level of claiming that the British reformists – the ‘corporatists’ – have fused with fascism. But the theoretical and methodological premises of such a degeneration are indeed already present and visible in the Workers Press. At its mildest, it takes the form of accusing the trade union leaders of being in total agreement with the Tories in their attempts to destroy free trade unionism and reduce real wages. Entirely glossing over the highly complex and contradictory relations between the trade union leaders and the ruling class (highlighted in the inability of the miners’ and train drivers’ leaders to reach a quick settlement with the government in the disputes which began at the end of 1973), the Manifesto of the CC of the SLL on the founding of the WRP (dated 21 October 1973) stated that:

... the trade unions leaders have completely deserted any fight against the Tory government. On Monday, 15 October, the special TUC General Council decided to continue its policy of collaboration with the Tory government against the working class... The right of free collective bargaining has been abolished with the agreement of the union leaders... The TUC leaders have passed from reformist protests against the Tories, through class collaboration to complete capitulation. [Emphasis added]

These statements are patently untrue, they distorted in a crude and typically ‘Third Period’ manner the real relationship between the TUC and Tory government. There was a conflict between the union leaderships and the Tory government – not over the question of private property in the means of production, but over the distribution of the national product, over their relationship to the state and the employers. But if the TUC had indeed agreed to help the Tories fight the working class, abolish free collective bargaining, and have now ended up in a position of complete capitulation, then Workers Press is obliged to explain how some of these same leaders are, at the time of writing (1 January 1974), the target of bitter government, capitalist and press abuse for ‘holding the country to ransom’ by their continuing with the miners’ overtime ban. If this be ‘complete capitulation’, a naive worker could be forgiven for thinking, then it can’t be so bad. The effect of all this strident and unsubstantiated invective is to numb the senses, to immunise workers against further and far more serious betrayals, which according to the WRP, cannot be forthcoming, because the TUC has already reached the ultimate in treachery – ‘complete collaboration’ with the class enemy and ‘complete desertion’ of the fight against him. And this was, as the older leadership of the WRP knows full well, precisely the effect of similar (though not identical) claims by the KPD Stalinists that the decisive betrayal had already taken place, that the Social Democrats had turned ‘social fascist’ (or ‘corporatist’), that they had handed the working class over to a fascist regime ruled first by Müller, then with his fall in March 1930, by Brüning, then Papen and finally Schleicher. By the time the real fascists were about to take power, the KPD had shouted itself hoarse crying wolf, and many workers understandably thought that Hitler was just another in a succession of fascist dictators. We must always beware the defeatist who hides behind leftist phrases about all other tendencies in the workers’ movement being in complete agreement with the class enemy on every single issue. For we have to ask ourselves: if that is indeed so, how come the working class still puts its confidence – to one degree or another – in these same tendencies and leaders? This is a question Workers Press has steadfastly avoided either asking or answering.

Despite its highly ‘revolutionary’ sounding phrases and militant posturings, Third Period Stalinism also contained a strongly defeatist element which reflected the opportunist content of the ‘new line’ enthroned at the Sixth Comintern Congress. There was no real struggle against either Social Democracy or the bourgeoisie. The Communist Parties walled themselves off from the rest of the working class by their ultra-leftist policies, thus preventing – as in the case of Germany – their proletarian members and supporters from taking their rightful place in the front rank of those fighting to defend the past gains of the working class, embodied in the ADGB unions and, yes, the SPD as well. At the Tenth ECCI Plenum in July 1929, where the ultra-left elements, led by Thälmann and Lozovsky, reigned supreme, the notion was put forward in all seriousness by the RILU chief that it was not the fascists who were going to drive the Communist parties underground, but the Social Democrats. As far as Lozovsky was concerned, the banning of the Comintern sections in countries where Social Democratic parties held or shared office was already a foregone conclusion. The only question was – when?

If the analysis that Social Democracy has been converted into a social fascist organisation, that Social Democracy is rapidly developing into social fascism is true – and it is absolutely true – all our legal parties are confronted by the question of their conversion into illegal parties. In Czechoslovakia, France and Germany, the situation is such that our parties and the revolutionary trade unions must be expected to be driven underground at any moment. [34]

Clearly with such a perspective mapped out for it, the KPD could hardly fail to detect in each and every measure of the SPD a plot to drive the Communist Party underground. Little wonder that the party destined to accomplish this counter-revolutionary task stole up unseen on the backs of the KPD, and carried off its election victory of September 1930 even as the KPD was merrily proclaiming the fast approaching ‘disintegration’ of the NSDAP, and warning its members that the real fascist threat continued to lurk behind the socialist mask of the SPD. As Thälmann put it so succinctly in his report to the ECCI Presidium Plenum in the spring of 1930 (just before the fall of Müller): ‘In the present situation the fascists themselves cannot surpass the reactionary onslaught of the social fascists.’ [35] Thälmann, who spent the last nine years of his life in the jails of the ‘national fascists’ and who pursued his political activities under the rule of Müller without once seeing so much as the inside of a police station, was soon to be given ample time to reflect on these almost unbelievably and suicidally obtuse words. Even the totally unexpected success of the Nazis in the Saxon landtag elections of June 1930, where the NSDAP won 240 000 votes and emerged for the first time as a mass force in the country, did nothing to shake the KPD or Comintern leaderships out of their complacency. True, an article on the results, written by Norden of Berlin, did reflect the genuine alarm felt by rank-and-file workers, and lower officials, that the Nazi threat was far more real than their leaders had permitted them to think. ‘It must be admitted’, wrote Norden, ‘that for a long period we underestimated the danger of the National Socialist movement.’ [36] ‘Underestimated the danger of National Socialism.’ As if Hitler had only been in business a few weeks or months! It was not a question of ‘underestimation’ as Norden belatedly tried to make out, but of ignoring and then minimising the growth of the Nazi threat, obviously on the basis of the theory that the main danger came, as Thälmann himself declared more than once, from the ‘social fascists’.

But soon all was back to normal in the Kremlin and the Karl Liebknecht House, the KPD’s Berlin headquarters. A dispute between Hitler and Otto Strasser over the former’s policy of seeking money and political support from big business was seized on as proof that the Nazis were already cracking up. An article entitled – wildly optimistically as the author was soon to learn – ‘The Disintegration Crisis in the Fascist Camp in Germany’ was intended to show that the Saxon election results had been a flash in the pan, and that Hitler had already landed himself in a hopeless situation by promising socialism to his plebeian followers and bourgeois reaction to his big business backers:

Its [the NSDAP’s] inability to carry out a real anti-capitalism in favour of the workers, employees and unemployed is bound to become apparent every day in its political practice... the disintegration of the Hitler party means a serious crumbling of German trust capital. [37]

Disintegrating... as barely two months later, the NSDAP vote soared nearly two millions above that of the KPD. And yet even then, when the full dimensions of the counter-revolutionary menace posed by the rise of National Socialism were made obvious even to the blindest, the Kremlin refused to turn the helm back towards a united front with the reformists. For now that the real fascists had arrived and in such force as to make their early disappearance impossible, a use could be found for them. If the KPD could not break the resistance of the reformist leaders, then perhaps Hitler might.


1. A Hitler, Mein Kampf (London, 1943), p 100.

2. When the Strassers raised once again the question of volkisch ‘trade unions’ towards the end of 1926, they received a sharp reprimand from Rosenberg, who shared Hitler’s stolidly reactionary views on this question. He was particularly incensed by their blanket condemnations of capitalism, which ‘would never have come to dominate in its existing form if it had not been for the Jews’. Rosenberg also branded Otto Strasser as a ‘parlour Bolshevik’ on account of the latter’s opposition to the pro-British, anti-Soviet orientation of Hitler’s foreign policy.

3. Kirdorf first encountered Hitler when the latter addressed a meeting of industrialists in Essen the previous year. Of his talk with Hitler at Bruckmann’s house, Kirdorf recalled some 10 years later that ‘the inexorable logic and clear succinctness of his train of thought filled me with such enthusiasm that I declared myself in complete agreement with what he had said. I asked the Führer to put together in pamphlet form the talk he had held with me before. This pamphlet I then distributed in industrial and business circles. Shortly after the Munich conversation, as a result of the effect of the pamphlet written by the Führer and distributed by me there took place several meetings of the Führer with leading personalities of the industrial region, on which occasions Adolf Hitler presented his views in terse and clear words.’ (Preussiche Zeitung, 3 January 1937) Possibly Kirdorf was exaggerating the importance of his own efforts in introducing Hitler to the Ruhr industrialists, but it is evident that such contacts were being established several years before the eruption of the great economic crisis in 1929-30.

4. Hitler’s Secret Pamphlet for Industrialists, translated by HA Turner, Journal of Modern History, Volume 40, no 3, September 1968, emphasis added.

5. G Feder, Hitler’s Official Programme (1934), p 24.

6. Feder, Hitler’s Official Programme, pp 30-31.

7. Feder, Hitler’s Official Programme, p 33.

8. Völkischer Beobachter, 31 May 1928.

<span class="info">9. LD Trotsky, Whither France? (Ceylon, 1961), pp 12-13, emphasis added.

10. The foundation of the Hitler Youth in fact dates from 1926, when, still under the strong influence of the parent party’s orientation towards the working class, it took the name ‘League of German Workers’ Youth’. Its early attempts to undercut the rival organisations of the two workers’ parties – the SPD’s Red Falcons and Young Socialists and the KPD’s Young Communist League, are reflected in the manifesto issued in 1927 by the north German section of the movement, which was clearly following in the footsteps of the Strasser brothers: ‘We call upon all activist [NB] revolutionary elements among German youth to free themselves at last from the tutelage of reactionary and Marxist organisations. Your place is in the ranks of those who are involved in a passionate struggle for the reorganisation of the German people and state in a national and socialist spirit. Break the fetters of bourgeois cowardice and Marxist mendacity. Join the League of German Workers’ Youth.’

11. Hitler’s views on art, literature and music differed little from those of that other notorious enemy of freedom and experimentation in culture – Josef Stalin. In Mein Kampf we find Hitler fulminating against precisely those forms of modern art that, 10 years later, the Soviet bureaucracy found to be incompatible with the official canons of ‘socialist realism’. Ironically, Hitler found them all to be examples of ‘cultural Bolshevism’: ‘In nearly all fields of art, especially in the theatre and literature, we began around the turn of the century to produce less that was new and significant, but to disparage the best of the old work and represent it as inferior and surpassed... and from this effort to remove the past from the eyes of the present, the evil intent of the apostles of the future could clearly and distinctly be seen. By this it should have been recognised that these were not new, even if false, cultural conceptions, but a process of destroying all culture, paving the way for stultification of healthy artistic feeling; the spiritual preparation of political Bolshevism. For if the age of Pericles seems embodied in the Parthenon, the Bolshevistic present is embodied in a cubist monstrosity.’ (Mein Kampf, pp 261-62) The brief flowering of modernism in Weimar Germany must have greatly disturbed Hitler, for he dealt at length with the subject in a speech at the beginning of 1928: ‘What we experience today is the capitulation of the intellectual bourgeoisie to insolent Jewish composers, poetasters, painters, who set miserable trash in front of our people and have brought things to such a pass that for sheer cowardice the people no longer dare to say: that doesn’t suit us; away with this garbage... These are indications of the decay of taste and hence the racial decomposition of our people.’ As for modern music, ‘the people do not want that in the least [like Stalin and his Soviet, Chinese and East European successors, Hitler had a sure instinct for what was good for the people in cultural, as in all other matters – RB], but no one dares to stay away. The wretched sound is an insult to the ears; they look around: beside them sits a blasé young chap or an old bounder who begins to applaud and looks impudently around, and the others, instead of giving the young chap a licking, begin to wonder in all earnestness whether they haven’t heard something profound after all, and finally they begin to clap too, though they haven’t the slightest desire to clap.’ So the Jewish-Bolshevist terror even penetrated into the sanctity of German concert halls, theatres and art galleries! And when they were strong enough, the Nazis were not averse, as their disruption of the pacifist film All Quiet on the Western Front showed, to quite genuinely violent counter-measures. These few selections from Hitler’s comments on art not only reveal him as a deeply reactionary, petit-bourgeois cultural snob with a pseudo-veneration for the ‘old’, but also help to explain how such views evoked a sympathetic response in millions of equally conservative middle-class German philistines, unable and unwilling to appreciate the artistic experiments which Hitler saw as the cultural harbinger of the coming Bolshevik revolution.

12. K Lüdecke, I Knew Hitler (New York, 1937), p 339.

13. The Stahlhelm, the monarchist war veterans’ association, wasted no time in denouncing the newly-formed Müller government. At a Stahlhelm rally shortly after the elections which gave the SPD its opportunity to form a government for the first time in eight years, a speaker warned that ‘the parties which claim to fight for German freedom and against internationalist Marxism will either have to prove their ability to carry this fight to a victorious conclusion or will have to let others take over’, while in September the same year, a declaration of the Brandenburg section of the Stahlhelm bluntly declared: ‘We hate the present regime... because it has made it impossible to liberate our enslaved fatherland, destroy the war guilt lie and win needed lebensraum [living space] in the East. We declare war against this system which today rules the state and against all those who support this system by a policy of compromise.’ It was statements such as this which the Stalinists of the KPD dismissed as being ‘sham’ attacks on the Müller government, delivered in order to create the illusion of a conflict between the bourgeoisie and its ‘social fascist’ servants in the SPD. Subsequent events proved the Stahlhelm meant every word.

14. Schacht fully appreciated the appeal Hitler’s brand of ‘socialism’ had for the property-conscious German petit-bourgeoisie: ‘The Communist and National Socialist votes swelled enormously with the increase in unemployment. [But]... what is striking is the difference in the success of both parties. Both promised the voters the elimination of unemployment and liberation from social oppression. Their propaganda methods were in no way inferior to each other. The Communists also promised bread and a living wage and anti-capitalist freedom, but they wanted to abolish private property, replace personal initiative by the collective, incorporate the family into the state and do away with religion. National consciousness concerned them little. This was all quite different with Hitler. He promised protection for the family, protection for private property and of the individual, the preservation of the Christian confessions, and national self-esteem. This obtained him the huge advantage, the numerical preponderance of voters over Communism.’ (H Schacht, Wie eine Demokratie stirbt (1933), pp 25-26) Hitler of course won the petit-bourgeoisie not because of the KPD’s hostile attitude towards religion or the bourgeois family, but through the false policies pursued by the Communist International in the period prior to the Nazi victory in Germany. But what Schacht says about the prejudices of the German petit-bourgeoisie – for it is about this class that he is writing, and not the proletariat, who had little or no property to lose – is right on target.

15. Lüdecke, I Knew Hitler, p 340.

16. Lüdecke, I Knew Hitler, p 341.

17. Otto Dietrich had previously served on the staff of the Bavarian paper the Munich Augsberg Evening News, and had, even then, been a secret sympathiser of the NSDAP. He was married to the daughter of Dr Reismann-Grone, editor of the Rhine-Westphalia News, a paper which faithfully represented the interests of the Ruhr industrial magnates. Dietrich’s father-in-law had also been a prominent official of the Federation of German Industries, and this link proved of inestimable value in opening up for Hitler access to the kings of heavy industry.

18. E Hanfstaengl, Hitler: The Missing Years (London, 1937), p 148.

19. Herman Goering fled Germany after the collapse of the Munich Putsch, staying for a brief while in Vienna, where he attempted to rally some of the scattered remnants of the party until such times as events in Germany would permit them to return. There then followed several years of enforced political idleness, during which Goering met Mussolini in Rome, until an amnesty declared by President Hindenburg in the autumn of 1927 enabled him to resume his position in the general staff of the NSDAP. His close links with high society – partly attributable to his illustrious career as a wartime fighter pilot – served the Nazis in good stead at a time when big donors of cash were hard to come by. Goering took up a position as a business agent in the rapidly expanding civil aviation industry, and developed a liaison with Erhard Milch, a senior executive with Lufthansa. Other business links included the Bavarian Motor Works and the aircraft builders Heinkel. Hitler obviously valued Goering’s business contacts, because he rewarded him with a seat in the Reichstag after the elections of May 1928 – one of the 12 deputies selected to represent the NSDAP. Once ensconced in his newly-fitted apartment, Goering felt free to convert his Berlin home into a fascist political salon, and over the next two years, a stream of guests, hailing not only from industry and finance, but the highest layers of the nobility and aristocracy, paid him the honour of a call. Not only Thyssen, but former (and future) Reichsbank President Schacht and Prince Henkel Donnersmarck, a Silesian industrialist, and landowner, helped bestow on Hitler’s ambassador the aura of respectability the Nazis so desperately craved for. Goering’s wife Carin wrote at this time that ‘our house is so full of politicians that I would be driven mad if it were not so fascinating’. Goering was the bourgeois anchor-man of the Nazi high command, and he saw to it that Hitler’s precious links with the bourgeoisie were not cut or jeopardised in any way by the antics of the NSDAP ‘radicals’.

20. F Thyssen, I Paid Hitler (London, 1941), pp 129-31.

21. In April 1930, Thyssen told a meeting of industrialists at the Honourable Merchant Inn in Hamburg that ‘the NSDAP needs money. If we pay, Hitler will see to it that we have peace in our industries and no more strikes.’ Hamburg gauleiter Kaufmann took the cash collection, all those present paying something, and a few, a great deal. An indication of Nazi desperation for funds at this time was the speed with which the cheques were cashed while the meeting was still in progress!

22. LD Trotsky, ‘The Turn in the Communist International and the Situation in Germany’ (26 September 1930), The Struggle Against Fascism in Germany (New York, 1971), pp 60-61.

23. S Gusiev, ‘On the Road to a New Revolutionary Rise’, Communist International, Volume 6, no 19, 15 August 1929, pp 717-20.

24. R Gerber, ‘The Face of German Social Fascism’, Communist International, Volume 6, no 21, 15 September 1929, p 802.

25. R Gerber, ‘The Face of German Social Fascism’, Communist International, Volume 6, no 21, 15 September 1929, p 803.

26. R Gerber, ‘The Face of German Social Fascism’, Communist International, Volume 6, no 21, 15 September 1929, p 807.

27. R Gerber, ‘The Face of German Social Fascism’, Communist International, Volume 6, no 21, 15 September 1929, p 808, emphasis added.

28. ‘The Development of the Revolutionary Class Struggle in Germany’, Communist International, Volume 6, no 25, 15 November 1929, p 1019.

29. ‘The Development of the Revolutionary Class Struggle in Germany’, Communist International, Volume 6, no 25, 15 November 1929, p 1021.

30. ‘The Development of the Revolutionary Class Struggle in Germany’, Communist International, Volume 6, no 25, 15 November 1929, p 1024.

31. ‘The Pace Must Not Slacken’, Communist International, Volume 6, no 26, 1 December 1929, pp 1031-33.

32. ‘The Pace Must Not Slacken’, Communist International, Volume 6, no 26, 1 December 1929, pp 1031-33.

33. ‘The Pace Must Not Slacken’, Communist International, Volume 6, no 26, 1 December 1929, pp 1031-33.

34. International Press Correspondence, Volume 9, no 47, 11 September 1929, p 1039.

35. Communist International, Volume 7, no 4, 15 April 1930, p 1130.

36. International Press Correspondence, Volume 10, no 30, 26 June 1930, p 537.

37. International Press Correspondence, Volume 10, no 32, 10 July 1930, p 566.