The Struggle Against Fascism in Germany

Trotsky, Leon
Publisher:  Pathfinder Press, New York, USA
Year Published:  1971  
Pages:  479pp  
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX7668

A collection of Leon Trotsky's writings on the situation in Germany from 1930 to 1940. From 1930 on Trotsky sounded the alarm about the rise of fascism in Germany, and warned that the policies of the Communist Party and the Social Democrats were likely to lead to disaster. He urged a common front, mobilizing the German working class regardless of party affiliation, against the Nazis.


Table of Contents


Part I: Sounding the Alarm
1. The Turn in the Communist International and the Situation in Germany
2. Thaelmann and the 'People's Revolution'
3. Workers' Control of Production
4. Factory Councils and Workers' Control of Production

Part II: The United Front Explained
5. Against National Communism! (Lessons of the 'Red Referendum')
6. Germany, the Key to the International Situation
7. For a Workers' United Front Against Fascism
8. What Next? Vital Questions for the German Proletariat

Part III: The Nature of Bonapartism
9. Interview with Montag Morgen
10. The German Puzzle
11. The Only Road
12. German Bonapartism

Part IV: The Decision is Made
13. Before the Decision
14. The United Front for Defense: A Letter to a Social Democratic Worker

Part V: Reviewing the Lessons
15. The Tragedy of the German Proletariat
16. Germany and the USSR
17. Hitler and the Red Army
18. The German Catastrophe: The Responsibility of the Leadership
19. What is National Socialism?
20. How Long Can Hitler Stay?

Part VI: For a New International
21. It is Necessary to Build Communist Parties and an International Anew
22. It is Impossible to Remain in the same International with the Stalins, Manuilskys, Lozovskys, etc

Part VII: Later Generalizations
23. Bonapartism and Fascism
24. Bonapartism, Fascism and War

Newspapers and Journals


Today the Social Democracy as a whole, with all its internal antagonisms, is forced into sharp conflict with the fascists. It is our task to take advantage of this conflict and not to unite the antagonists against us.

The front must now be directed against fascism. And this common front of direct struggle against fascism, embracing the entire proletariat, must be utilized in the struggle against the Social Democracy, directed as a flank attack, but no less effective for all that.

It is necessary to show by deeds a complete readiness to make a bloc with the Social Democrats against the fascists in all cases in which they will accept a bloc. To say to the Social Democratic workers: “Cast your leaders aside and join our “nonparty” united front” means to add just one more hollow phrase to a thousand others. We must understand how to tear the workers away from their leaders in reality. But reality today is-the struggle against fascism. There are and doubtless will be Social Democratic workers who are prepared to fight hand in hand with the Communist workers against the fascists, regardless of the desires or even against the desires of the Social Democratic organizations. With such progressive elements it is obviously necessary to establish the closest possible contact. At the present time, however, they are not great in number. The German worker has been raised in the spirit of organization and of discipline. This has its strong as well as its weak sides. The overwhelming majority of the Social Democratic workers will fight against the fascists, but – for the present at least – only together with their organizations. This stage cannot be skipped. We must help the Social Democratic workers in action – in this new and extraordinary situation – to test the value of their organizations and leaders at this time, when it is a matter of life and death for the working class.

The trouble is that in the Central Committee of the Communist Party there are many frightened opportunists. They have heard that opportunism consists of a love for blocs, and that is why they are against blocs. They do not understand the difference between, let us say, a parliamentary agreement and an ever-so-modest agreement for struggle in a strike or in defense of workers’ printshops against fascist bands.

Election agreements, parliamentary compromises concluded between the revolutionary party and the Social Democracy serve, as a rule, to the advantage of the Social Democracy. Practical agreements for mass action, for purposes of struggle, are always useful to the revolutionary party. The Anglo-Russian Committee was an impermissible type of bloc of two leaderships on one common political platform, vague, deceptive, binding no one to any action at all. The maintenance of this bloc at the time of the British General Strike, when the General Council assumed the role of strikebreaker, signified, on the part of the Stalinists, a policy of betrayal.

No common platform with the Social Democracy, or with the leaders of the German trade unions, no common publications, banners, placards! March separately, but strike together! Agree only how to strike, whom to strike, and when to strike! Such an agreement can be concluded even with the devil himself, with his grandmother, and even with Noske and Grezesinsky. On one condition, not to bind one’s hands.

It is necessary, without any delay, finally to elaborate a practical system of measures – not with the aim of merely “exposing” the Social Democracy (before the Communists), but with the aim of actual struggle against fascism. The question of factory defense organizations, of unhampered activity on the part of the factory councils, the inviolability of the workers’ organizations and institutions, the question of arsenals that may be seized by the fascists, the question of measures in the case of an emergency, that is, of the coordination of the actions of the Communist and the Social Democratic divisions in the struggle, etc., etc., must be dealt with in this program.

In the struggle against fascism, the factory councils occupy a tremendously important position. Here a particularly precise program of action is necessary. Every factory must become an anti-fascist bulwark, with its own commandants and its own battalions. It is necessary to have a map of the fascist barracks and all other fascist strongholds, in every city and in every district The fascists are attempting to encircle the revolutionary strongholds. The encirclers must be encircled. On this basis, an agreement with the Social Democratic and trade-union organizations is not only permissible, but a duty. To reject this for reasons of “principle” (in reality because of bureaucratic stupidity, or what is still worse, because of cowardice) is to give direct and immediate aid to fascism.

Subject Headings

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