OPEN LETTER FROM THE ECCI PRESIDIUM TO THE GERMAN COMMUNIST PARTY ON THE RIGHT-WING DANGER IN THAT PARTY

 

19 December 1928 Inprekorr, viii, 142, p. 2829, 21 December 1928

EXTRACTS



The ECCI supported the Thaelmann Zentrale. Thaelmann said the Trotskyist renegades of the KPD had been thoroughly routed, but there were serious dangers from the right.

Between the central committee meeting, and the national conference of KPD officials which met on 3-4 November, 28 district party committees had discussed the dispute, and 2 had shown a majority against the central committee.

At the November conference a resolution endorsing the decisions of the sixth congress, which had been passed by 30 votes to 9 at the meeting of the central

committee on 2 November, was carried by 221 votes against 4; the 19 'conciliators' voted for the resolution with reservations. A resolution asking the central committee of the CPSU to take action against Brandler for breach of discipline (he had returned to Germany from Russia without permission) was carried against 19 votes and 2 abstentions. He was accused of having "slipped from liquidationism into renegacy". The CC of the KPD referred the Hausen-Galen case to the ECCI; their attitude was tantamount to an appeal for an organized struggle against the CI and the KPD; they had distributed copies of Brandler's programme, which had already been rejected; the collection of signatures in its support was the first step in the registration of members for an anti-party organization.

The CC of the KPD on 14 December, having decided that the activities of Brandler and Thalheimer were incompatible with membership of a Comintern section, asked the CC of the CPSU (of which party the two were members) to take action. There was no point in expelling the right-wingers in the KPD unless Brandler and Thalheimer were also expelled. They had "developed their false conceptions into a platform and must be fought against as an opportunist group".

Molotov, for the CPSU delegation, said Brandler and Thalheimer had already taken up positions of irreconcilable struggle against the party, its policy, and its discipline. Klara Zetkin wanted the decision to be postponed, as the question was so serious. Stalin concluded his speech, which distinguished between the right wing in the KPD, who were already an anti-party faction, and the right wing in the CPSU, who 'had not yet crystallized', by saying that the presence of such people as Brandler and Thalheimer in the Comintern could no longer be tolerated.

An article published in the Comintern press immediately after the open letter, concluded with the words: "Brandler, Thalheimer, and the other leaders of the right fraction will play their part, subjectively as well as objectively, outside the Communist ranks, hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder with all the renegades who begin by attacking the Comintern and end with an insane hatred for the USSR."

On 21 December the politbureau of the KPD accepted the open letter without reservation.

The central committee approved the expulsion from the KPD of Paul Fröhlich, J. Walcher, Böttcher, and seven others who had all refused to accept the conditions laid down in the open letter, and welcomed the expulsion by the ECCI of Hausen and Galen, and by the CC of the CPSU of Brandler and Thalheimer. More than a hundred members were expelled by subsidiary committees of the KPD. One of the charges against the conciliators was that they underestimated the importance of the reparations question as a means of obtaining German help for intervention against the USSR; another that they made a false and opportunist distinction between the bourgeois democratic State and dictatorial fascist rule.





Since the German revolution of 1923 the openly opportunist right-wing elements in the German Communist Party, particularly the adherents of Brandler, have never entirely ceased their fractional activities. Brandler's false policy takes the form of a tendency to capitulate to the bourgeoisie and to form a bloc with the socialdemocrats.

The right wing have never given up the hope of again assuming the leadership of the party and changing its policy; their fractional activity has at times been relaxed, at other times it has been very intense.

In its resolution on the fractional activity of Radek, Brandler, and Thalheimer, the fifth ECCI plenum observed that 'an organized fraction exists in the KPD, to which a few groups within the party as well as a group of members of the CPSU (Brandler, Thalheimer, Radek, and others) belong, and which carries on fractional work on the basis of a political platform formulated in a series of articles and documents'. The plenum severely reprimanded Brandler, Thalheimer, Radek, and others, and stated that 'if they continue their fraction work they will inevitably place themselves outside the ranks of the party'.

Before the Essen party congress in 1927 the fractional activities of Brandler's adherents revived again. At the congress they tried to push through Brandler's ideas, which he had set out in an article on the 'action programme' written before the congress but published only early in 1928. The opportunist interpretation of the slogan of 'production control' advanced by the right wing was rejected by the congress; it also condemned the Brandler group's opportunist errors on the question of the workers' government, which made this a transitional form between bourgeois democracy and proletarian dictatorship, and on united front tactics, which they interpreted as a bloc with social-democracy; this might have led to impermissible obligations towards the left social-democrats and to the renunciation of an independent communist policy.

The next stage of the right-wing fraction's work was connected with the ninth plenum and the fourth RILU congress. The right-wing elements in the KPD, including Brandler's adherents, declared open war on the decisions of the fourth RILU congress and on this basis drew together more closely than before. They began to expand their fractional work, attacked the entire policy of the CC of the KPD, and started to work out their own political platform, the first drafts being embodied in various fractional documents. The Wittorf case provided them with the desired opportunity to attempt to put their fractional designs into effect and seize leadership of the party in order to change its political line as laid down by the sixth Comintern congress.

(. . .)

To the ECCI presidium's resolution of 6 October the right wing replied with sharp fractional attacks. According to them this decision threatened ruin not only to the German party but to the Comintern.

(...)

This was the starting-point of their quite open steps to organize their fraction.

The principal leaders of the fraction are Brandler and Thalheimer, formerly members of the KPD and now members of the CPSU. Brandler and Thalheimer, as is known, committed a number of grave errors in 1923. After the events of 1923 the indignation of the KPD masses was so great that Brandler and Thalheimer were very near to expulsion from the party. But the ECCI and the CC of the CPSU, assuming that they would overcome their opportunist tendencies, gave them a last chance to improve and admitted them to the CPSU.

As the latest events in the KPD show, Brandler and Thalheimer have proved themselves to be politically incorrigible. Throughout 1926-7 they systematically refused to admit unreservedly their chief mistakes, and quite recently publicly reiterated their refusal.

(. . .)

Their adherent, the CC candidate Galen, turned the Volksrecht, a party organ appearing in Offenbach, into a fraction newspaper; another adherent, the CC candidate Hausen, published an open letter to the members of the Breslau district party consisting entirely of fractional attacks on the CC and the Comintern. Shortly thereafter the same Hausen began to publish, as responsible editor, the fraction's paper Gegen den Strom (information bulletin of the opposition).

This paper, as well as other material put out by the fraction, was sent to all party organizations and publicly distributed.

In the commission set up by the ECCI presidium to deal with this matter, Hausen (on 27 November 1928) frankly admitted the existence of a right-wing fraction in the KPD. He admitted that it has its own political platform, not yet formulated in a single document, stated that recently, and particularly before CC meetings, he had conversations with Thalheimer, and that before leaving for Moscow he met Brandler to discuss with him the need for a definitive formulation of the fraction's political platform for the forthcoming party congress.

At the same commission Galen tried to deny the existence of a right-wing fraction and his participation in its work. But he could not deny, firstly, the fractional character of the work in the Offenbach party organization, of which he is leader, where at Galen's invitation Brandler made two fractional speeches, or, secondly, the fractional character of the paper which he edits, Das Volksrecht, which published Brandler's speeches and statements and waged a fractional struggle against the KPD.

It is therefore indisputably proven that there exists in the German Communist Party a regular right-wing fraction which has a central leadership and a political platform and applies discipline within the fraction. According to Hausen its platform is given in Brandler's action programme, and in articles in the first issue of Gegen den Strom, and in Das Volksrecht.

(. . .)

The natural consequence which the members of the right-wing fraction draw from the basic theses of their platform is non-recognition of the decisions of the fourth RILU congress and the sixth Comintern congress, and the fight against these decisions. This road leads to an open and outright break with the RILU and the Comintern.

On the other hand it becomes clearer every day that the right-wing fraction's political platform is drawing closer to that of the social-democrats.

(. . .)

Thus Brandler, Thalheimer, and other leaders of the right-wing fraction, both in their platform and in their fractional work, have turned out to be genuine left socialdemocratic politicians. Objectively they are becoming instruments of the reformists, agents of reformism in the communist party. Not only do they reject the decisions of the fourth RILU congress and the sixth Comintern congress, not only do they refuse to obey these decisions, they are beginning to work actively against their practical execution, attempting to sabotage and counteract the political actions of the party taken to put these decisions into effect. During the armoured cruiser campaign they did the greatest damage by using the Wittorf case to intensify their fractional struggle against the CC of the KPD.

(. . .)

The right wing's political platform, as well as their actions, show the direction in which they are moving. The formation of a new opportunist party within the communist party, the splitting of the communist party, the alliance of this right wing with the left social-democrats, and a bloc between this opportunist concentration and the social-democratic party— these are the three main stages on the road from the Comintern to the Second International, a road which has now been reached by the straying leaders of the right-wing fraction. (. . .)

Such a deep gulf has opened between the right-wing fraction and the party that there can no longer be any talk of 'conciliation' between them. There is no longer any place in the KPD for the conciliators. The time has come when a choice must be made between the party and the right fraction—either the party or the fraction. At the present moment a conciliatory attitude towards the right implies not only abandonment of the struggle against the right wing and their splitting work, but actual support for the right against the party.

(...)

In the last two months the conciliators have shown ever greater patience towards the right, and ever greater impatience towards the party. There is no concrete criticism of the ideas and actions of the right fraction, while the attacks on the party have grown sharper, and approximate more and more to the criticisms made by the right itself. Typical in this connexion is the political platform submitted by the conciliators to the politbureau of the KPD, signed by Ewert, Dietrich, Schumann, and others, in which the sixth Comintern congress slogan: 'Fight on two fronts, against the right and the "left" ', is replaced by a new slogan: 'Fight on two fronts, both against the right and against the inner-party line of the CC of the KPD.' For the line proclaimed by the sixth congress of concentration against both right and left deviations from Leninism, the conciliators thus substitute concentration against the right (in words) and against the Leninist KPD (in deeds).

It is clear that the KPD can no longer tolerate the splitting activities of the right wing, and that it must demand of the conciliators a complete break with the right as well as consistent struggle against them, under the leadership of the CC of the KPD.

Proceeding from these considerations, the ECCI presidium endorses the decision of the CC of the KPD of 14 December on the conditions to be put to the right, namely:

a. That, without reservation or limitation, they recognize and adhere to party discipline as laid down in the theses and statutes of the Comintern and the KPD;

b. That they declare their unreserved agreement with the programme of the Communist International, in all its parts.

(. . .)

c. That they recognize as binding all decisions of the sixth Comintern congress and the fourth RILU congress, as well as those of the CC and the district committees of the KPD, and undertake to carry them through without reservation;

d. That they condemn their activities, their formation of a fraction, their convening of special meetings and conferences, their speeches against the sixth congress decisions as injurious and disruptive, incompatible with discipline and the principles of the Comintern, and that they explicitly declare their intention to refrain in future from such and similar actions;

e. That they admit that the publication of their own papers and bulletins, and the distribution of leaflets and writings abusing the party and the Comintern, by the fraction and by some comrades linked with the fraction, are incompatible with party discipline, and that they there fore explicitly declare that they will immediately cease to do so.

(. . .)

The rejection of these conditions will be followed by the immediate expulsion from the Comintern of all the leading members of the right.

The ECCI presidium entrusts the CC of the KPD with the practical execution of all measures necessary for the fulfilment of these decisions.

Brandler and Thalheimer, who are members of the CPSU, will be invited to appear before its central control commission. It is obvious that if these comrades refuse to appear on the given date before the CCC of the CPSU, they will be immediately expelled from the CPSU.

At the meeting of the commission of the ECCI presidium on 8 December 1928 Hausen and Galen, candidate members of the CC of the KPD, were asked to cease their fraction work, to stop publishing Gegen den Strom and Das Volksrecht, to stop distributing the fraction's documents, and no longer to defend the right wing's political platform. Both Hausen and Galen evaded a direct answer, and in fact refused to meet these demands by saying 'No' to the question whether they would cease publishing the two papers mentioned. To the further question whether they were ready to obey unconditionally the decisions to be taken in their presence by the ECCI presidium, they again answered 'No'.

Consequently the ECCI presidium decided to expel Hausen and Galen from the German Communist Party and from the Communist International.

The ECCI presidium is firmly convinced that those workers who are still under the influence of the right-wing leaders will not allow themselves to be led out of the communist party into social-democracy, and that they will decide to break with the leaders of the right-wing fraction.






 

Comintern

III. International