RESOLUTION OF THE ECCI PRESIDIUM
ON THE SITUATION IN GERMANY
12 April 1933
1 April 1933 Rundschau, ii, 9, p. 229,
Having heard Comrade Heckert's report on the situation in Germany, the presidium of the ECCI states that the political line and the organizational policy followed by the CC of the Communist Party of Germany, with Comrade Thaelmann at its head, up to the Hitlerite coup, and at the moment when it occurred, was completely correct.
Confronted by the extreme acuteness of the economic and political situation in Germany—shown on the one hand by the growth of the KPD into a tremendous working-class force and by the rapid maturing of the revolutionary crisis, and on the
other by the emergence among the ruling classes themselves of deep contradictions, and by the inability of the fascist dictatorship, in the shape of the Papen and Schleicher Governments, to stem the advance of communism or to find a way out of the ever more acute economic crisis—the German bourgeoisie have handed over to the fascist Hitler and his 'national-socialist' party the carrying through of the open
fascist dictatorship. Hitler's victory and the establishment of the power of the 'national socialists' were made possible by the following circumstances:
German social-democracy, which had the majority of the proletariat behind it in the November 1918 revolution, split the working class and, instead of driving the revolution forward to the proletarian dictatorship and socialism, as would have been
the duty of a proletarian party, allied itself with the bourgeoisie and the Wilhelmian generals to crush the rising of the revolutionary masses and opened the deep split in the German working class. As testimony to its policy of collaboration with the bourgeoisie and the tactics of 'the lesser evil', in alliance with the bourgeoisie and with the approval of the entire Second International, it continued this policy of brutal repression of the revolutionary movement and of splitting the working class up to the most recent past. It prohibited the Red Front Fighters' League, it prohibited the
revolutionary workers' organizations, it prohibited workers' demonstrations or had them fired on, it broke up industrial and political strikes against the capitalist and fascist offensive, and supported the rule of the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie.
Social-democracy concentrated in the hands of its corrupt bureaucratic bosses the leadership of the mass labour organizations. It expelled revolutionary workers from them and through the network of centralized workers' organizations subordinate to it suppressed the initiative of the working masses, broke their capacity to fight capital and fascism, and so obstructed the resolute action against the fascist dictatorship and the terrorist fascist gangs which were passing to the offensive. This policy of fighting the revolutionary masses and of collaborating with the bourgeoisie and
supporting reaction on the pretext of the tactics of 'the lesser evil' was and is the policy of the Second and Amsterdam Internationals, from 1914 to the present day.
In its imperialist setting, and particularly in a country defeated in imperialist war and profoundly shaken by the general crisis of the capitalist system, the 'democratic' bourgeois Weimar Republic could be nothing but the reactionary dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Labour legislation, social insurance, the democratic rights which the bourgeoisie had to grant to the workers in the years of the revolution, were gradually withdrawn by the Weimar coalition, consisting of social-democrats, the Centre Party, and the 'Democrats'. An unbroken series of concessions to reaction, the suspension one after another of the provisions of the constitution, of the gains made
by the workers, the development step by step of the entire state machinery towards fascism, discredited the Weimar coalition and the Weimar Republic to such a degree that the masses no longer took them seriously.
The Versailles system plundered Germany and subjected the German working masses to the yoke of unbearable exploitation not only by their own but also by foreign capital, to which the German Government had to pay reparations. The Versailles yoke, reinforced by the yoke of the German bourgeoisie, led to an unparalleled decline in the standard of living of the proletariat, and to such impoverishment of the peasantry and the urban petty-bourgeoisie that a part of them began to think of pre-war Germany, where there was no general capitalist crisis and no mass impoverishment as there are now, as their ideal. In these circumstances it is understandable that, at the moment when the economic crisis was at its most severe,
making the burden of the foreign yoke imposed by the Versailles treaty even heavier, there was bound to be a violent outbreak of German nationalism and chauvinism, particularly as the proletariat, split by social-democracy, was not strong
enough to carry the urban petty-bourgeoisie and the peasant masses along with it; this outbreak greatly strengthened the position of the bourgeoisie and brought the most demagogic nationalist party of all—the party of 'national-socialists', to the top.
The communist workers organized and led the struggle against the offensive of capital and fascism. They supported every action of the social-democratic workers, even the slightest, against capital, whenever such action was taken. Guided by the
desire to re-establish the revolutionary unity of the working class, they repeatedly proposed, long before the victory of fascism, to the social-democratic workers and to the lower social-democratic organizations a united front of struggle against the bourgeoisie and their lackeys, the fascists. But the social-democratic workers, behind whom stands the majority of the German working class, shackled by their social-democratic leaders, who are opposed to the revolutionary united front and
prefer to maintain their reactionary united front with the bourgeoisie, for the most part rejected the united front with the communists every time, and this broke up the working-class fight. While the communists stood for the revolutionary united front of the working class against the bourgeoisie, against fascism, social-democracy drove the workers into the reactionary united front with the bourgeoisie, against the
communists, against the revolutionary workers, destroyed and persecuted communist organizations whenever and wherever it had the opportunity to do so.
In carrying out its policy of fighting for the revolutionary unity of the working class against the social-democratic united front with the bourgeoisie, the communist party, as the only revolutionary leader of the German proletariat, despite the strikebreaking activities of social-democracy on the question of the united front against the bourgeoisie, called for a political general strike of the working class on 20 July 1932, when the fascists dismissed the Social-Democratic Government of Prussia, and again on 30 January 1933, when Hitler came to power, and proposed a united front with the social-democratic party and the reformist trade unions to carry out the strike.
The development of the proletarian struggle against bourgeoisie and fascism, and the general strike, would have brought the hesitating working masses of the peasantry and the urban petty-bourgeoisie over to the side of the proletariat. But
social-democracy, continuing its previous policy and seeking further collaboration with the bourgeoisie, clamped down on the initiative of the masses, using for this purpose its network of centralized organizations, above all the reformist trade unions, and prevented the organization of a general strike, shipwrecked it, and so directly abetted the further fascist offensive against the proletariat. As a result of this, the vanguard of the revolutionary wing of the German proletariat, the communist party, found itself deprived of the support of the majority of the working class.
In these circumstances the proletariat found itself unable to organize immediate and resolute defence against the State apparatus, which had drawn into its sphere of
operation the fighting organizations of the fascist bourgeoisie, the storm detachments (SA), the Stahlhelm and the Reichswehr for the fight against the proletariat. The bourgeoisie were able without any serious resistance to hand over State power in the country to the national-socialists, who attacked the working class with provocations, bloody terror, and political gangsterism.
Analysing the prerequisites for a victorious proletarian insurrection, Lenin said that the time for the final and decisive battle could be considered ripe when 'all the class forces hostile to us have become sufficiently entangled, are sufficiently at
loggerheads with each other, have sufficiently weakened themselves in a struggle which is beyond their strength; when all the vacillating, wavering, unstable, intermediate elements—the petty-bourgeoisie and the petty-bourgeois democrats as distinct from the bourgeoisie—have sufficiently exposed themselves in the eyes of the people, have sufficiently disgraced themselves through their practical bankruptcy; and when among the proletariat a mass sentiment in favour of
supporting the most determined, supremely bold, revolutionary action against the bourgeoisie has arisen and begun vigorously to grow. Then revolution is indeed ripe; then, indeed, if we have correctly gauged all the conditions indicated and briefly
outlined above, and if we have chosen the moment rightly, our victory is assured.'
The characteristic peculiarity of the situation at the moment of the Hitler coup was that these prerequisites for a victorious insurrection had not yet matured; they were present only in embryo form. As to the proletarian vanguard, the communist
party, it could not, since it would not slip into adventurism, make up for their absence by its own actions.
'Victory cannot be won with the vanguard alone', Lenin wrote. 'To throw the vanguard alone into the decisive battle before the whole class, before the broad masses have taken up a position either of direct support of the vanguard, or at least of benevolent neutrality towards it . . . would be not merely folly but a crime.'
These were the circumstances determining the retreat of the working class and the victory of the counter-revolutionary fascist party in Germany.
Thus, in the final analysis, the establishment of the fascist dictatorship in Germany is the consequence of the social-democratic policy of collaboration with the bourgeoisie throughout the entire life of the Weimar Republic. Social-democracy repeatedly stated that it would have no objection to Hitler's coming to power if he did so 'constitutionally'. Even after he came to power Vorwdrts wrote, on 2 February, that a man like Hitler would not have been able to become Reich
Chancellor except for social-democracy. Wels said the same on 23 March in his declaration to the Reichstag, when he said that the social-democrats had rendered great services to the 'national-socialists', for it was thanks precisely to socialdemocratic policy that Hitler had come to power. Not to speak of Leipart, Lobe, and other social-democratic leaders, who unreservedly support the fascists. The communists were right when they called the social-democrats social-fascists.
But, because the fascist dictatorship rests on the armed national-socialist gangs and on the Stahlhelm, because it is waging civil war on the working class and abolishing all the rights of the proletariat, it is thereby also destroying socialdemocratic theories about the possibility of winning an elected parliamentary majority and about a peaceful development to socialism, without revolution. It is destroying social-democratic theories about class collaboration with the bourgeoisie and about the policy of 'the lesser evil', and demolishing all democratic illusions among the broad working masses. It is proving that the State is not a superstructure
rising above classes, but an instrument of bourgeois dictatorship, that the State power today is the armed SA gangs, the Stahlhelm, the police, and the officers' mob, who rule in the name of the bourgeoisie and the junkers. The working class is being convinced by experience that the communists were right when year after year they fought against democratic illusions and the social-democratic policy of 'the lesser evil' and of collaboration with the bourgeoisie.
However, Hitler's unbridled fascist dictatorship, which has unleashed civil war in the country, is incapable of solving a single one of Germany's economic or political problems. The poverty of the masses is growing day by day. The economic situation is deteriorating, for the Government's adventurist policy only accelerates the narrowing of the home and foreign market. There is no prospect of a serious fall in unemployment, nor can there be. There is no possibility whatever of creating jobs and posts for all the national-socialist adherents. Other workers will have to be sacked to make room for national-socialists. The prolongation of the moratorium to October, and the quotas placed on the import of agricultural products will satisfy a thin layer of the most prosperous peasants for a short time, but will not halt the growth of poverty and of the discontent of the peasant masses. Demagogic action against the big department stores and Jewish capital will not help the needy petty-bourgeoisie, whose position will get worse as the purchasing power of the proletariat falls still further, shrinking
the home market. The distribution of microscopic amounts of flour and bacon to the needy was only bait to catch votes. The increase in unemployment benefits by two marks a month is bound to be withdrawn because the economic situation is getting worse. It is clear that Hitler is leading Germany to an economic catastrophe which is becoming more and more inevitable.
National-socialism shot up primarily as a nationalist and chauvinist movement directed by Wilhelmian officers and civil servants, a movement of the pettybourgeois and partly also the peasant masses against Versailles. The two months of Hitler's Government have been nothing but a single chauvinist tirade against proletarian internationalism and 'world bol-shevism', a policy of worsening relations with all States without exception. Such a policy will not strengthen Germany but, on the contrary, weaken it and isolate it still more. The attempts of the Government in these circumstances to break the Versailles treaty and to make gains in the field of foreign policy if only by the Anschluss of Austria, in order to raise its prestige in the
eyes of the masses whose hunger and poverty it is unable to alleviate, will only make the international situation more acute and greatly increase the danger of war.
Every day that passes will expose more clearly the fraud to which the masses who followed Hitler have fallen victim. Every day that passes will show more clearly that Hitler is driving Germany to catastrophe.
The calm that has succeeded the triumph of fascism is only a transitory phenomenon. Despite fascist terror, the revolutionary surge in Germany will rise; the revolutionary resistance of the masses to fascism is bound to grow. The
establishment of the open fascist dictatorship, which is destroying all democratic illusions among the masses and liberating them from social-democratic influence, is accelerating the rate of Germany's advance towards the proletarian revolution.
It must be the task of the communists to explain to the masses that the Hitler Government is leading the country towards catastrophe. More vigorously than ever before, the working masses must be shown that their only salvation from still greater poverty and wretchedness, the only way of preventing catastrophe, is the proletarian revolution and the proletarian
dictatorship. A struggle must be waged to fuse all the forces of the proletariat and to establish the united front of the social-democratic and communist workers for the fight against the class enemy. The party and all proletarian mass organizations must be strengthened, to prepare the masses for the decisive revolutionary struggle, for the overthrow of capitalism, for the overthrow of the fascist dictatorship by armed insurrection.
Proceeding from these considerations, the presidium of the ECCI approved the programme of practical work put forward by the Communist Party of Germany.