Hitlerites Shut Down Headquarters
of the Communist Party

Why Does the Communist International
Continue Its Silence About Germany?

(February 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 13, 27 February 1933, p. 1.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Differing from their Italian prototypes only in the greater speed with which they are succeeding in consolidating their power, the Nazi gangs in Germany have now additional measures to insure execution of their murder program against the working class. After having instructed the police to suppress all anti-Fascist meetings with the aid of the brown-shirts and Steel Helmets, a new order has been issued by Captain Goering, the Fascist commissioner in charge of the Prussian Ministry of the Interior, commanding the arming of the Nazi storm troops and the members of the Steel Helmets for use as “auxiliary police”. The training of the latter has already begun and they have already been officially reviewed by government authorities as part of the government’s forces. The suppression of meetings of Communists and social democrats is being carried out without the slightest camouflage. In Berlin, the social democratic Reichsbanner has been forbidden to hold a demonstration “on the ground that it would collide with Nazi arrangements”. In Altona, the Nazi storm troops are to parade openly in the streets, this time not merely with the official approval of the authorities, and under police protection, but the formal announcement that the most rigorous measures will be adopted to suppress any counter-demonstration. At Cologne – a fact of enormous significance! – socialist meetings “are to be permitted only if no Communists happen to be present”. In this Fascist order is contained an acknowledgement of the fear experienced by the Nazis when faced with the prospect of united demonstrations and action of the German working class both of the Communist and social democratic camp.

In addition, the radio, a government monopoly from which the Communists were excluded in the past, has now been allocated entirely for the use of the Nazis and the Nationalists, so that not only the Communists and the social democrats are to be deprived of its use but even the Catholic Center party and the People’s party once headed by the deceased Dr. Stresemann.

Party Quarters Raided

To top this record of a couple of days of intensive Fascist activity in Germany, is to be noted the fact that not only was the huge Communist party meeting in Berlin broken up by the police, but the headquarters of the Communist party, the famous Karl Lieknecht House, was broken into by squads of police, literature and other party property confiscated, and a police guard left in charge of the building. One day later (Saturday) the police announced the discovery “of subterranean vaults containing tons of treasonable printed matter and labyrinths of underground passages providing secret exits”. Out of the first moves following this raid, has been the government order forbidding the Communist party to collect money publicly. All these moves are only the flank attacks, the preliminary skirmishes, in the plan of battle of the Fascists to harass and weaken the party sufficiently to be able to give it the final blow that will drive it out of existence.

It is not to these events, however, that the center of attention should be directed. What the Fascists are now doing and what they intend to do tomorrow – that we were able to forecast without difficulty and we did forecast it. Far exceeding this aspect of the German situation in importance, remains the state of paralysis of the proletariat which makes possible the murderous advance of the Nazis. The Berlin correspondent of the New York Times, Mr. Frederick T. Birchall, an observer who reveals an unusually lucid understanding of what is happening, makes the following comment on the government order to arm the Fascists to help the police against the Left wing:

“The growing excesses of the Left radicals are purely mythical. Neither the Communists nor any other radicals of the Left have dared to make the slightest demonstration for weeks. Virtually all ‘excesses’ and disturbances have originated from Nazi sources.”

In a word, the Fascists are not merely very much on the offensive, but the working class has not yet even organized its defensive!

In Germany, with its trade union movement, its Communist party and its social democratic party far stronger than they ever were in Italy, the fact is that the Hitlerites are encountering at the present. time less resistance than did Mussolini’s Black Shirts either before their march on Rome or after the installation of the Fascists in power!

The working class, which is showing such an unmistakable desire to unite its ranks in a movement to crush the Nazis, is being kept in a state of impotence from two sides. The social democracy, at a moment when the proletariat should be aroused and every instrument of struggle put into its hands, is drugging the working class just at the time when the Fascist knife is descending upon its body.

Stampfer’s Interview

In the interview with the press, the editor of the central organ of the social democracy, Herr Friedrich Stampfer declared, according to the Herald-Tribune (2-24-1933), that his party was not very much worried about the possibilities enjoyed by the Fascists for remaining long in power! From his interview, we extract the following items, characteristically significant!

“The German working class is not very strong as an attacking force, but put it on the defensive and it is unconquerable ... On July 20 last, when the Braun government was deposed in Prussia, the Communists urged us to call a general strike. We were convinced, however, that a general strike would lead inevitably to a conflict which could only end to the disadvantage of the workers ... We socialists cannot be revolutionary, or militant, at the present time, as many foreign observers seem to expect. The time may come, indeed, and that before long, when things will come to a head and the trade unions will cease to put up passively with political developments, as they have for two generations, but the socialists will not accelerate such a development ... The endeavors of the socialist leaders to organize even a temporary tactical alliance with the Communists have failed completely ... We socialists realize that we have a formidable task ahead of us, but we do not view the situation in any spirit of depression of fatalism, fascism stands no chance of gaining a foothold in a nation like Germany that has a certain level of political culture, owing to the resistance that will be forthcoming from the workers.”

That the socialist leaders “cannot be revolutionary, or militant”, and will not be, goes without saying. Exceedmg even their fear of Fascism, is their fear that the masses may unfold such a movement as will lead to the revolutionary victory of the proletariat, That the socialists have eudeavored to make an alliance with the Communists, is just us much of a half-truth as is the contention of the Stalinists that they stand for the “united front from below” with the socialist workers, but not with their organizations. The social democrats have indeed demanded a “united front” with the Communists, but on the little condition that the Communists dissolve themselves! What else is the meaning of the socialist demand that in this “united front” the Communists refrain from criticism of the policies and conduct of the social democratic leaders?

The current issue of the American socialist New Leader boasts that “the Communist masses are actually beginning to work with the socialists”. Stampfer-Breitscheid-Wels have thus taken a leaf out of the book of Stalin-Manuilsky-Thaelmann. While the situation cries out for a un ited front from organization to organization, both the social democratic leaders and the Stalinist bureaucrats content themselves with empty, disastrous chatter about the “united front from below”.

Stampfer consoles the working class with the theory that Germany is too cultured a land to allow Fascism to “gain a foothold” in it. The Italian social democrats more than 10 years ago also disarmed the masses by assuring them that in their country, the “cradle of modern civilization, the Fascist barbarians could not hope to “gain a foothold”. And why not? Because the socialists will “resist”. How? The joint manifesto of the social democratic party and Reichstag fraction gives us an idea of what this resistance will look like. While the Hitlerites are proceeding with their violent regime of terrorism, with fire and sword, with the utmost brutality and cynical unconcern for all the niceties of parliamentarism so cherished by the social democrats, the latter announce:

“We shall wage our struggle upon the basis of the Constitution. We shall defend the political and social rights of the people, established by the Constitution and by law.” (New Leader, 2-25-1933)

The program of the social democracy has the merit of clarity. We know what it is driving at: it aims to keep its record of treachery unimpaired. To talk about “struggle on the basis of the Constitution” at a time like this, is deliberately to surrender the German working class, bound and gagged, to the butchers of Fascism.

But if the social democracy has at least this merit, the same cannot be said about the Communist party. What is the party doing to mobilize the working class at this crucial, desperate hour? Nobody knows, least of all the Stalinist leaders! The official party press continues to report an incident here and another elsewhere about clashes between Communists and Fascists, but nobody can discern just what the policy of the party looks like. The hollow repetition of the slogan for the “united front from below” – signifies less than nothing. The Fascists are moving with seven league boots – the Communists, who should be in the vanguard of the movement to initiate the united front, are bewildered, confused and impotent. The observations of the bourgeois correspondent referred to above are, sadly enough, close to the terrible truth.

Stalinist Silence

The proletariat has not yet struck back at Fascism, and for this the Stalinists bear the main burden of responsibility. The program of the Left Opposition – for a united front of the Communist party with the social democracy and the trade unions – the former has rejected out of hand. Are they waiting until the German proletariat has been cut to pieces before they decide to act? That is the question and that is how it must be put.

And above everything else, we repeat our question:


For the Communist International, the “general staff of the world revolution”, to persist in its silence now – IS A CRIME!

For the Communist worker to be quiet while such a crime is being committed – IS TO MAKE HIMSELF AN ACCOMPLICE TO IT!

Louder and louder must rise the cry: The Communist International must speak out! It must demand the united front of the German working class! It must set in motion, the machinery that will crush Hitlerism! It must stop talking about “defending the Soviet Union”, and actually defend it on its most threatened front: Germany.

Sunday, Feb. 26, 1933

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