Fascists Command Police:
Shoot the Reds!

(February 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 11, 22 February 1933, pp. 1 & 2.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The German Fascists are moving forward in their ruthless campaign of extermination against the proletariat, with a breath-taking speed and resolution. In the hectic few weeks just prior to and since Hitler was appointed Chancellor, it is reported that more than sixty persons have been killed in political encounters, of whom thirty-seven were known Communists or socialists, while only fourteen were Nazis. Scores of Communist, socialist and even Catholic newspapers have either been suppressed for long periods of time or their issues confiscated by the authorities. The governmental apparatus has been cleared of the social democrats who rendered the bourgeoisie such signal services while in office, and their posts nave been filled with reliable Fascist officials. Thus far the struggle in Germany records that Hitler has not suffered a single serious setback in the Fascist drive to establish their complete domination over the state power. The social democracy is not only retreating but is seeking to drag with it in ignominious treachery the masses of workers following its banner. The Stalinists are either mute or else they continue to jabber a language and pursue a course which must inevitably impose upon the German proletariat a capitulation without serious struggle.

Goering’s Order

While the social democrats are playing their treacherous role, while the Stalinists confine themselves to a purely verbal activity which only emphasizes their bewildered passivity and bankruptcy, the Fascists are going ahead with the most cynically brutal measures against the proletariat and its vanguard. Now that they have gained control of the police of Prussia – more than two-thirds of the German Reich – they are making the maximum use of this armed force. Yesterday, an official order was issued by the Fascist federal commissioner of Prussia, Captain Goering, which imposes upon the not unwilling police the task of protecting and assisting all Nazi and Nationalist demonstration and propaganda, and of smashing all demonstrations of the Communists with drawn pistols. The principal armed force of the country outside of the Reichswehr is thus transformed at one blow into an open auxiliary of the Fascist party in its drive to crush the Communist movement by authorized assassination and massacre.

“The police must refrain from even a mere semblance of an antagonistic attitude toward organizations such as the Nazi storm troopers and the Stahlhelm of the Nationalist parties,” reads Goering’s order. “.. Every manifestation for a Nationalist purpose and Nationalist propaganda must be supported with full vigor.

“On the other hand, the activities of organizations inimical to the State must be countered with the greatest vigor. The police must proceed against Communist acts of terrorism with the utmost severity and must use their arms ruthlessly when necessary. I will protect every policeman who makes use of firearms in the exercize of his duty, regardless of results. Police officers who from false consideration fail to act may count on disciplinary penalties.

“For the protection of the Nationalist population, often hampered in its expression, there must be the most rigorous application of the statutory provisions against prohibited demonstrations, unlicensed meetings, incitement to treason mass strikes, delinquencies of the press and other activities of disturbers of the peace.

“Every police officer must always bear In mind that failing to act is a graver fault than errors made in action.”

The order is tantamount not merely to a direct command to the police to shoot down the Communist and militant workers on any convenient occasion, but also guarantees the reactionary butchers an all-inclusive immunity in advance. At the same time, the preparations are continuing for the outlawing of the Communist party, not merely for the general purpose of driving it out of existence, but also to keep it off the ballot in the elections scheduled for March 5. The fascist and Hugenberg press now speak of the proscription of the Communist party as a matter of course. The only point in question appears to be the date and the official pretext to be given for the act. Hitler would, of course, prefer to rule after March 5 with a “parliamentary majority” of Fascists, on the Italian style, if possible. But he is not troubled about the outcome of the elections: majority or minority, Hitler intends to continue in power by means of the increasing utilization of naked force.

An Alarming Situation

The alarming feature of the German situation does not, however, lie in these facts: Hitler’s course was to be foreseen and was foreseen by us. What engenders a mounting disquietude among all those who realize that around the outcome in Germany pivots the fate of the world revolution, is the fact that up to the present time the bulk of the German proletariat has remained comparatively disorganized and has not yet mobilized its ranks for a serious and decisive struggle to sweep into oblivion the Fascist gangs.

At this moment, when the Communist party should be in the forefront of the movement to unite the ranks of the proletariat in struggle, it is doing nothing of the sort. In this crucial hour, when it can be said without exaggeration that minutes count, the general staff of the world revolution, as the Communist International was once rightly called, is absolutely silent! A more monstrous crime cannot be imagined at such a time than the deadly, ominous silence from that body to which the militant and revolutionary masses everywhere look for guidance and counsel especially at critical moments. When it is clear even to a child that upon the outcome of the present struggle in Germany depends the fate of the whole proletarian movement, and not least of all, the fate of the Soviet Union, the Communist International is not only silent but it is not taking the first step towards assembling the Communists on a world scale to speak and act in unison. It is more than four and a half years since the Sixth World Congress of the Comintern was held. The old statutes of the International provided for a world Congress every year. The new statutes, adopted in 1928, provide for the convocation of a world Congress every two years. It is almost five years now since the last Congress was held and yet there is not the faintest sign on the horizon that the Stalinist bureaucracy has any intention whatsoever of calling together the Seventh World Congress! At a world Congress, especially one where the Left Opposition would be afforded the opportunity to participate, the Stalinists would be compelled to submit their past course to a review and to speak out plainly about the present situation. The central leadership would be compelled to assume responsibility before the eyes of the world Communist and labor public for whatever line of policy was elaborated for the German Communist Party. This is precisely what the Stalinists want to avoid. The failure to convene the Seventh World Congress is a cowardly, criminal evasion of an elementary duty, which can have nothing but catastrophic results for the German working class. Stalin in particular, “the best discipline of Lenin”, is anxious to evade the issue now being posed in Germany with such Inescapable acuteness. Stalin, the “leader of the international proletariat”, has not a single word to say about the situation in Germany today.

But if the responsible leadership of the Comintern does not speak, if it is unable to meet and reply to the arguments and demands for a united front which the Left Opposition has put forward, the second and tenth rank bureaucrats (i.e., the scapegoats of tomorrow!) are pushed out in the forefront to make the official apologia while the “infallible Stalin” hides silently behind their skirts. Less than ever able to answer our contentions or to oppose our policies, the Stalinists are compelled to resort not only to misrepresentation and ritualistic abuse, but to the most patent absurdities.

Opposition and Stalinists

The Opposition has declared that the social democracy and Fascism constitute the two extremities of bourgeois society – not its twins but its extremities. Unable any longer to solve its problems (and keep the proletariat in check) by means of the democratic illusions of which the social democracy la the principal conveyor in the working class, the bourgeoisie has resorted to Fascism – the naked, anti-democratic dictatorship of force and violence. The rule of Fascism excludes the existence of any democratic (even bourgeois democratic, to say nothing of proletarian democratic) forms or institutions. This determines the conflict between Fascism and the social democracy. This does not convert the social democratic leaders into defenders of the interests of the proletariat – a stupid idea which the Stalinist maliciously attributes to us. But for the social democracy to perform its role, for it to retain its leadership over the social democratic masses who are violently anti-Fascist, Wels, Kunstler and Co. are compelled to carry on at least an oral and literary struggle against Hitlerism, are compelled to make gestures of defiance, while restraining the masses from really militant and revolutionary action – that is, from the only action which will smash Fascism.

From this elementary fact, the Stalinists now draw the following conclusion: The Fascist bourgeoisie, in order to save the social democracy, has arranged with it to drive it into a “sham opposition” so as to continue deceiving the proletariat which follows it. Therefore (?!) it is wrong to make a united front with the social democracy, for we will be helping perpetuate the sham and illusion of its “opposition to Fascism”. To leap the yawning gap between premise and conclusion requires an acrobatic skill which only a Stalinist word-juggler can supply. One of these acrobats, whom the desperate, disoriented American Stalinists have called up from the reserves, is Max Bedacht, the Daily Worker has called this obsolete “specialist on Germany” out of the I.W.O. old soldiers’ home to which he was retired some years ago, to break a lance with the Trotskyists on the question of the united front. But the acrobat slips and falters through every sentence of his (excuse us!) analysis, and ends up limp and exhausted from his heroic effort.

Why is the social democracy’s leadership forced into “sham opposition”? Precisely because its role is to retain a firm grip on the masses and prevent them from really fighting Fascism. How does it retain this hold? Precisely by means of its sham, verbal, opposition. How can this hold over the socialist masses be broken by the Communists in the shortest possible time – and time is just what is decisive in Germany now? By forcing these socialist leaders to reveal in action that their opposition is a sham. How is this to be done? By demanding of these leaders that they translate their verbosity into deeds, that they show what their words are worth by joining with the Communist party in a united front on a concrete program of action to smash Fascism.

The socialist masses say to themselves: My leaders, my organization has taken a stand against Fascism. They speak against it. They call for a struggle against it.

The Communist party must say to the Social Democratic party: You say you want to fight Fascism. We do, also. It is not a matter of mutual confidence, for we haven’t a particle of it where you are concerned. But the masses want a united fight against Fascism. We are ready. We demand that you join us in this fight. Then let the masses judge who really is fighting in their interests. We will march with our own banners (directed against the Fascists, and also against yourselves!), retain our independence and our criticisms Ta|k is cheap; let us – and the workers who still follow you – see what your deeds are.

The socialist worker’s will then say: The Communists really want a united fight against Fascism. It is a proletarian question with them and not merely a purely party question. We will demand that our leaders accept the Communist proposal for a united front. If our leaders refuse, we shall know that the Communists were not mistaken in their appraisal of the role of Wels and Hilferding. If our leaders accept, we will see in the course of the united front struggle whether or not the Communists are right in their assertions that Wels and the other leaders will play the role of a brake on the movement and will betray us at the crucial moment.

We Have All to Gain

The Communists will say to themselves: We have nothing to fear. Once a mass movement is really set in motion, we have confidence that our leadership and policies are superior to those of the social democracy. In the course of the fight, the workers will see with their own eyes. They will be able to compare the two and judge for themselves. We will gain in the end, which means the working class and the proletarian revolution will gain. For by retaining our independence and not relenting an iota in our criticism of the social democracy, we will not be helping perpetuate the illusions spread bv the socialist leaders. On the contrary, by a firm, clear policy, we will be helping to destroy these illusions in the minds of the million-headed socialist masses. With united efforts we will smash Fascism, our main foe. But such a movement will be set in motion that – providing we are not stupid – we shall be able to push it further along the correct road, to the formation of Soviets, to the establishment of these Soviets “as the organs of the proletarian dictatorship, to the final settlement of accounts with the murderers of Liebknecht and Luxemburg whom we know (the socialist masses do not yet know it, or not with sufficient clarity) will try to stab the movement in the back when it becomes dangerous to them.

These simple ideas, which Lenin and Trotsky tried to hammer into the heads of the opportunists and ultra-Leftists in 1921 and 1922, must become the policy of the party. The vaporings of all the “specialists” and “theoreticians” of the Stalinist cut lead only to impotence and confusion. It is high time to call them to a halt!

Tuesday, Feb. 21, 1933

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