Fascists in Complete Control of Police:
Party Must Act Now!

Hitler Acts with Ruthless Determination to Crush Labor Movement;
Stalinists Persist in Opposition to United Front

(February 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 9, 17 February 1933, pp. 1 & 2.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The work of establishing the complete domination of Fascism in Germany is being carried out at a speed which leaves even the bourgeois press gasping. The proposed elections on March 5 are assuming an increasingly deceptive and ludicrous character in face of the fact that the Hitlerites are concentrating every instrument of force and violence in their own hands so that regardless of the balloting, the power will remain in their hands.

The press reports the following highly significant facts:

  1. All political demonstrations and even ordinary meetings are to be “policed by Nazi storm troopers and members of the Stahlhelm, the regular police being merely held in reserve”. Not even Mussolini was able to attain such a measure before he took over the power completely.

Red Meetings Forbidden

  1. All meetings at which criticism is “levelled at the constructive work of the government” are to be dissolved on the spot.
  2. “Communist demonstrations,” according to the Berlin correspondent of the Times (2-16-33), “are to be forbidden altogether, and even the meetings of disguised Marxists – evidently meaning Socialist gatherings – are to be prevented. On the other hand, arrangements must be made to facilitate Nazi demonstrations in Communist districts.”
  3. “The Nationalist Deutsche Allegemeine Zeitung”, continues the correspondent, “published an obviously inspired statement to the effect that a ‘general arming’ of Nazi storm troopers was not under consideration, but that ‘in an emergency’ there might be afforded legal means whereby these and the Stahlhelm men might be called on to relieve the police by the extension of ‘auxiliary services’. Further confirmation is scarcely necessary.”
  4. “Under the new German regime the police force itself hitherto neutral (?), is being rapidly transformed. Following up the removals under the von Papen regime, the acting Prussian Ministry today cleaned out the very last Socialist police heads in the State and replaced them with National Socialists or Nationalists. The entire police administration is now in the hands of the Hitlerites and supporters of Dr. Alfred Hugenberg.
  5. “As for the newspapers the Acht Uhr Abendblatt, which is the Tageblatt’s evening publication, and the Socialist Vorwaerts were both suppressed today on the allegation that they had criticized the police in connection with Sunday’s rioting in the Saxon mining town of Eisleben, where several hundred uniformed Nazis wrecked a Communist bookshop and gymnasium ...”

In these measures are to be found the first earnest beginnings of the extermination of every working class institution, every working class organization, every democratic and working class right achieved in the course of decades of struggle. Where Mussolini waited many long months after seizing power before he was ready to make the Communist party illegal, Hitler, confronted with a stronger working class and the necessity of acting with dispatch is compelled to proceed with far greater speed and violence. The dismemberment and demolition of the working class and its movements is Hitler’s prerequisite to the consolidation of Fascist power.

Trotsky’s Forecast

“He wants to lull his antagonists with the long-run perspective of the parliamentary growth of the Nazis in order to catch them napping and to deal them a death blow at the right moment,” wrote Leon Trotsky more than 15 months ago. “It is quite possible that Hitler’s courtesies to democratic parliamentarism may, moreover, help to set up some sort of coalition in the immediate future in which the Fascists will obtain the most important posts and employ them in turn for their coup d’état.”

This striking confirmed forecast of comrade Trotsky is now corroborated all over again by the events of the last few days.

“It can now be stated on the best of authority,” the Berlin correspondent of the London Times declares, “that the Nazi partners in the present Nazi-Nationalist alliance are avowedly working to establish the nationalistic State – by which their followers certainly understand the ‘Hitlerist State’ – irrespective of opposition, and expect to realize their ambition in the immediate future. They are prepared, and readily admit this, to employ all the means which the possession of power gives them. The result of the elections March 5 and the prospect of Parliamentary opposition play no deterrent part in their calculations.

From the pen of the bourgeois correspondent we thus have a confirmation of the warning we issued last Monday:

“The parliamentary elections as the axis of the struggle, constitute an enormous and treacherous swindle.”

In this swindle which is leading the German working class blindfolded and bands bound to be slaughtered by the Fascist butchers, the German social democracy is playing its traditionally prominent part. To employ the classic expression of the Filipo Turati, the late leader of the Italian socialist party, the German social democrats “have the courage to be cowards”. The million-headed masses which follow behind the banner of the social democratic party and the trade unions it controls, are not being mobilized to strike down the Fascist beast with their mighty fists. They are being drugged with the fatal illusion that the field of battle is the ballot box of March 5. But that is precisely wherein lies the role of the social democratic leaders: To unleash a genuine mass movement of militant struggle against Fascism – they realize – may set into motion such a powerful force as the Welses, Stampfers and Hilferdings will not be able to check “at the right moment”, which will exceed the narrow boundaries of the fight to preserve the democratic rights and in-situations of the German proletariat and pass over to the struggle for the dictatorship of the working class.

All the more reason, therefore, why the Communists must take the initiative in establishing a genuine united front movement of all the workers and their organizations, which will sweep out of power not merely the Fascist form of capitalist rule in Germany but, forging ahead, will smash the last obstacle on the road to a Soviet Germany. The opportunities offered the Communists by the present situation are matchless in their possibilities. But are they taking advantage of them? Not in the least! They continue to repeat the old, worn-out, discredited and bankrupt formulae which have brought about the present impotence of the official Communist party in Germany.

For the first week and more after Hitler was named Chancellor, the official party press in this country was as silent as the tomb. It confined itself to a few news dispatches culled from the capitalist press or sent by the Inprecorr. Commentary on the program or tactics of the German Communists was not to be found. And this for the simple reason that the Stalinists were taken altogether by surprise by the event. They were completely bewildered and dumb-founded and impotent.

Stalinist Silence “Broken”

The hammer blows of the Militant and the Left Opposition finally made a breach in this silence. For the past few days the Daily Worker has been forced to speak about the German situation at some length. But it still remains bewildered and bankrupt. It can do little more than repeat the dull and empty twaddle about the “united front from below” and “social Fascism” and – now that the well-known “friend of the Soviet Union” Robert Minor has been made editor – to overflow with bile and impotent fury against the “Trotskyists”.

To attack our absolutely unassailable position, the Stalinist scribes must resort to the most patent falsehoods and misrepresentations. They quote with approval the stupid lie of an American social democrat that Trotsky “advised support of the Bruening government as long as it fights the Fascists”. This petty slander is not very original, and it does not gain in veracity with age.

“The social democracy,” Trotsky wrote on December 8, 1931, “supports Bruening, votes for him, assumes responsibility for him before the masses on the grounds that the Brueniug government is the – ‘lesser evil’. The Rote Fahne attempts to ascribe the same view to me – on the grounds that I expressed myself against the stupid and shameful participation of the Communists in the Hitler referendum. But have the German Left Opposition and myself in particular demanded that the Communists vote for and support Bruening? We Marxists regard Bruening and Hitler, Braun included, as component parts of one and the same system. The question as to which one of them is the ‘lesser evil’, has no sense, for the system we are fighting against needs all these elements.”

Messrs. Professional Liars on the Daily Worker (2-16-1933) proceed to declare that the Militant is trying “to convince the American workers that the Communist party of Germany is their enemy which holds them back from struggle whilst on the contrary the Social Democratic leaders are now ‘a hindrance’ to Fascism; in other words, that the workers cannot trust the Communist party but CAN trust the Social Democratic party leaders”.

Every word here is a lie, and a typically Minoresque, i.e., not a very bright, lie. We never spoke of “trusting” the social democracy, much less its leaders. Nor did we say that the “Social Democratic party leaders are ‘a hindrance’ to Fascism”. We spoke and continue to speak everywhere of “the craven capitulation of the social democratic leaders” (2-15-1933), of the fact that these leaders have paved the road for Fascism by their unbroken record of treachery. But the leaders of the social democracy, many of whom will enter directly into the Hitler camp when his power is consolidated, just as they entered Mussolini’s camp after 1921, are one thing; the social democracy, and especially the social democratic masses and their institutions, are quite another thing. This the scintillating theorists of the Stalinist school cannot understand because they have forgotten the ABC of Marxism. Are the latter a hindrance to the complete conversion of the Weimar republic into a Fascist state? Can anybody but a hopeless Stalinist official fail to give an affirmative answer? Do not the latter read the daily press? Are they living on this globe or on Jupiter? Have they not read somewhere that in order to insure the domination of Fascism, Mussolini not only exterminated the Communist movement but also burned down socialist halls in Italy, drove into illegality the socialist party and the socialist trade unions, demolished socialist papers and printing establishments, destroyed socialist cooperatives, exiled and imprisoned socialist leaders? Have they ever heard the name of Matteoti? Have they seen from the press reports that Hitler’s first steps included the suppression or confiscation of the socialist Vorwaerts in Berlin and other socialist papers? Do they know that socialist workers have already been murdered? That the socialist mayor of Stassfurt has already been assassinated by the Nazi gangsters?

Has all this happened because the social democracy and its institutions are “social Fascists” – O brainy theoreticians! – or because they are a hindrance to the establishment of complete Fascist domination? Is it asking too much to request a straightforward answer to a straightforward question? The social democracy and its institutions are the main social support of the democratic form of bourgeois rule – that is a kindergarten truth which the mental paralytics of the party could well afford to assimilate. But for the naked Fascist form of bourgeois dictatorship, this “support” becomes a hindrance, it becomes superfluous. You don’t need to be a member of the party’s Political Bureau or the all-wise Secretariat to understand this. All you have to do is to read a page or two of modern history, a page or two of the daily press, a page or two of Marx and to combine all this with a modest dash of common political sense. But here perhaps we are asking too much from the Daily Worker editor.

The silence of the party press, we have succeeded in breaking down. But now that it has spoken it has only revealed the dreadful confusion that Stalinism has introduced into the crucial German situation. The fate of the whole German proletariat, the Communist party and the Communist International, the Soviet Union and the world revolution – hang in the balance. The Stalinists are either impotently silent (THE COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL, HAS NOT SPOKEN YET!) or else they speak fatal nonsense.

The united front – not the Centrist caricature of it – must be established if Hitlerism is to be crushed – not tomorrow but today. The phrase-mongering Stalinist officials stand in the way of it and thus play into the hands of the treacherous social democratic leaders. Those who stand in the road of the German proletariat’s struggle to smash Fascism – must be swept aside!!

Thursday, Feb. 16, 1933

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