The German Trotskyists' Response to the Nazis Taking Power (February 1933)

Submitted by martin on 20 March, 2007 - 3:03

Smash Hitler. German Left Opposition Appeals for United Proletarian Resistance

Hitler is Chancellor!

Workers, do you know what that means? It means complete starvation and loss of all rights, it means the destruction of all the active elements of the proletariat! After the speeches of the Nazi leader, there can be no doubt of this. Hitler’s program is the complete smashing of all the political and trade union organizations of the working class, to clear the way for a still more monstrous impoverishment of the working class. The aim of his foreign policy is war with Soviet Russia.

If Hitler succeeds in carrying through his aims this would mean an unprecedented defeat for the international proletariat, “for Germany is not only Germany, but the heart of Europe.” Do not console yourselves with the nonsense that Hitler will soon be played out. No, understand this clearly — now is the time to tackle him!

Either Hitler will now establish his power, or the proletariat will overthrow him and clear the road for the dictatorship of the working class.

At this time, to wait any longer, as the Social Democratic Party proposes, is lunacy. It is a crime. It means to let Hitler establish himself in his new official positions. It means to play the very last cards into his hand, and with that, to lead directly to the defeat of the working class.

Hitler must be overthrown, Fascism must be struck down. The Fascist government of civil war can be overthrown, however, not by parliamentary votes of “no confidence”, but only by the extra-parliamentary mass struggle.

The General Strike

But how can we achieve this action? We must create the prerequisites — the closing of the ranks. It is not enough to call for the general strike, as the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Germany has done up to now. The situation demands today of the Communist Party an open offer to the leaders of the Social Democratic Party and the General German Trade Union Federation. A concrete program of struggle must be proposed, the leadership of the Social Democratic Party and the General German Trade Union Federation must be called upon to negotiate in the open before the workers, in order — maintaining the political independence of the participating organisations — without delay to create common organs of struggle on a national and local scale and throw into the fight the concentrated forces of the proletariat.

The goal of the struggle is:
Overthrow the Hitler Government!
Disarm the brown murder bands!
Defend all working-class organizations and their property!
Defend the democratic rights of the proletariat!

The means of struggle is the general strike, but this can lead to victory only if the leadership of the struggle and the proletariat are fully aware that the fight against the brown murder bands must be carried with even “harder weapons.”

We must not wait, we must hit out!

Comrades of the Social Democratic Party! Protest, compel the immediate acceptance of the struggle, break the sabotage of your leaders! Comrades of the Communist Party: For two and a half years we “Trotskyists” have been proposing a Leninist united front policy to smash Fascism, whose perspectives we have correctly drawn. Through the fault of the Stalinist leadership, the Central Committee, much time has been lost. Even now, reformism has the determining influence on the decisive party of the German working class. It is still possible, at the eleventh hour, to organize resistance through a Leninist united front policy and lead the proletariat to victory. The proletariat still has its organizations! In its hands are the levers of economic life. The others have only bayonets. The Bolsheviks, too, defeated Kornilov at the last minute!

All forces together! No weariness, no hesitation!

A solid front of all workers’ organizations for the united front organs of the working class!
A general strike till the overthrow of the dictatorship of hunger, of war, of the murder of workers!
For the defense of the political rights of the working class!
For the defense of party and trade union buildings and of the workers’ press!
For the defense of the Communist Party of Germany!
Against wasting of the people’s substance on the corrupt barons of the Eastern Relief and the bosses of heavy industry!
For workers’ control of production!
For a decent wage!

The Left Opposition of the
Communist Party of Germany
(From the US paper, The Militant, 17 February 1933)

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