Arbeiter und Soldat: Workers' Liberty 3/20

French Trotskyists' and German Soldiers' Underground Paper in Nazi-Occupied France: Full Text


David Broder

World War Two created extremely difficult circumstances and political challenges for internationalist Marxists. In German-occupied Europe the Trotskyist Fourth International mounted a heroic struggle against national chauvinism and illusions in the democratic aspirations of Britain and the United States. Aiming to win German soldiers to a common struggle against imperialism, in summer 1943 the French Trotskyists turned to organising amongst the German troops occupying France.

1943: the situation in Europe

By summer 1943 the Axis war machine was suffering heavy setbacks. Although Hitler had completed a total occupation of France in November 1942, and still held on to his conquests in the Low Countries, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Greece, Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic States and parts of western Russia, the Axis powers no longer looked able to win the war.

On the dissolution of the Third International

The Stalinist bureaucrats have dissolved the Comintern. “Warning”, declares the Axis propaganda, “this is just a manoeuvre, a chimera, playing dead”. “Hurrah!” the Anglo-Saxon imperialist press cries with joy, “our allies are not communists, they are good Russian patriots”. “Of course, it’s just a manoeuvre” is the rationalisation the communist worker still committed to the Third International despite all the defeats uses to reassure himself; they are tricking their capitalist adversaries, folding up the flag only to unfurl it again in the future.

The agenda of global capital

No. 2 August 1943

The outbreak of the workers’ revolution in Germany nears. Already the Italian workers are taking action; in the Balkans, in Portugal and in Spain military régimes and fascist dictatorships are collapsing. How much time can be left before the German workers and soldiers break the chains of fascism and the great struggle between the exploited and the exploiters consumes Europe?

We the soldiers and the events in Italy

German soldiers have received the Nazi press’s parcimonious news on events in Italy with bewilderment and with anxiety. But through the intermediary of comrades returned from Italy who report on the goings-on there, they know that they have been denied the right to know the truth about the collapse of this most pitiful of fascist régimes in case the parallel which jumps to mind might lead them to more clearly understand the situation in their own country.

The real face of the war

The real face of the war

The Wehrmacht High Command reports: “We were stationed around 50 km from Charkow. After a difficult fight we made a forward path for ourselves. One morning we took over the post office. There was a newspaper there, and to our surprise it announced in large type the seizure of Charkow [illegible]. It was only eight days later that we took Charkow.”

From the front:

“My brother had several frozen fingers and similarly his feet were freezing. That didn’t stop the bastards sending him back to the East. That is where he is staying...”

Zeitung für Soldat und Arbeiter im Westen

No. 2 Summer 1943

[Illegible] I came back from leave a few days ago and I was amazed by the situation in Germany. What I saw is not easy to describe.

First off, the town where I grew up has been totally destroyed. Only very few houses are still habitable — you could count them — and only a few have been spared by bombs thus far. Next, the morale of the population. You can only imagine what has happened. Our women and daughters have been totally morally corrupted by the many workers from abroad [illegible].

The future is in our hands!

Soldiers! Comrades! A new and decisive phase of the Second World War has begun. Anglo-American capital has launched its troops on the offensive on the European continent. With 4,000 warships, 13,000 planes and half a million soldiers they have begun landings on the French Atlantic coast.

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