Category Archives: Communist Party of Germany

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia on Rosa Luxemburg

Rosa_sw_200

Luxemburg, Rosa

(Polish, R. Luksemburg). Born Mar. 5, 1871, in Zamość, Poland; died Jan. 15, 1919, in Berlin. Figure of the German, Polish, and international workers’ movement. One of the leaders and theoreticians of Polish social democracy, the left-radical tendency in German social democracy, and the Second International; one of the founders of the Communist Party of Germany. Born into a bourgeois Jewish family.

As early as her years in the Gymnasium, Luxemburg participated in illegal revolutionary work, joining the Proletariat Party. She emigrated to Switzerland in 1889 and graduated from the University of Zurich in 1897. Luxemburg studied Marxist literature, took part in the work of a circle of Polish political emigres (marking the beginning of Polish revolutionary social democracy), and fought the nationalist tendency of the Polish Socialist Party.

Luxemburg moved to Germany in 1898, where she was involved in German social democracy, occupying a position on the left. She was a resolute opponent of the revisionist E. Bernstein, considering his views incompatible with membership in the party. Defining revisionism as a variety of petit bourgeois reformist ideology, Luxemburg counterposed revolutionary Marxism to it. She actively opposed ministerialism (Millerandism) and opportunistic compromises with the bourgeois parties. Luxemburg devoted a series of brilliant articles, collected in Social Reform or Revolution? (1899; Russian translation, 1907), to the refutation of revisionism.

In 1904, when the RSDLP split, Luxemburg failed to understand the Leninist principles of the construction of a proletarian party of the new type and hence came forward with a criticism of the Bolsheviks. During the Revolution of 1905-07 in Russia, Luxemburg drew closer to the Bolsheviks on many questions of the strategy and tactics of the revolutionary struggle. Luxemburg greeted the 1905 revolution in Russia with enthusiasm, considering it an event of enormous international significance. She correctly evaluated the role of the proletariat as the decisive force in the revolution and recognized the need for an armed uprising against tsarism and for the establishment of a revolutionary dictatorship. Luxemburg attended the Fifth Congress of the RSDLP in 1907. She joined with the Bolsheviks in evaluating the liberal bourgeoisie as an antirevolutionary force, and she recognized the peasantry as a revolutionary class. Drawing on the experience of the revolution in Russia, Luxemburg and other representatives of the revolutionary wing of German social democracy, such as K. Liebknecht, C. Zetkin, and F. Mehring, subjected the parliamentary cretinism and democratic illusions of the reformists to incisive criticism. She supported the greatest possible development of the extraparliamentary struggle of the masses and fought to include in the arsenal of the proletariat’s fighting methods the “Russian weapon”—the mass political strike.

Luxemburg illegally went to Warsaw in December 1905, where she did revolutionary work. Arrested, she was soon released on bail. In Finland in the summer of 1906, she wrote the pamphlet Mass Strike: The Political Party and the Trade Unions (1906; in Russian translation, The General Strike and German Social Democracy, 1919), in which she summed up the experience of the Russian revolution and formulated, in the light of this experience, the tasks of the German workers’ movement. V. I. Lenin placed a high value on the pamphlet (see Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 54, p. 481). Luxemburg returned to Germany in September 1906, but she maintained her ties with the Polish workers’ movement. Her writings were published in the Polish and Russian Social Democratic press.

Luxemburg was a passionate fighter against militarism and imperialism. At the congress of the Second International in Paris in 1900, Luxemburg in a speech described the fundamental need for energetic international action by socialists against militarism, the colonial policy of the imperialist powers, and the threat of world war. At the Stuttgart Congress of the Second International in 1907, Luxemburg, together with V. I. Lenin, introduced amendments to A. Bebel’s resolution on the position of the international on an imperialist war and on militarism. The amendments in particular pointed out the need to use the crisis engendered by an outbreak of war to overthrow the rule of the bourgeoisie. She was persecuted because of her antimilitarist agitation; in all, she spent approximately four years in prison, mainly during World War I.

Luxemburg presented a critique of capitalism and its last stage, imperialism, in her principal theoretical works, Introduction to Political Economy (1925; Russian translation, 1925; new edition, 1960) and The Accumulation of Capital (vote. 1-2, 1913; Russian translation, 1921; 5th edition, 1934). In the latter work Luxemburg vividly depicted the colonial brigandage and aggression of the imperialist powers.

However, there were errors in Luxemburg’s economic conceptions. She believed that the accumulation of capital under capitalism was only possible through the expansion of the sphere of exploitation of the “noncapitalist environment,” as, for example, the economy of the peasants and craftsmen; hence, she defined imperialism as the policy of struggle of the capitalist states for what was left of the “worldwide noncapitalist environment.”

Masterfully applying the materialist dialectic in many of her works, Luxemburg deviated from it in a number of cases, committing metaphysical errors. This showed itself specifically in her incorrect treatment of the national question, in her denial of the right of peoples (natsii) to self-determination. Luxemburg also underestimated the revolutionary potentialities of the peasantry.

Luxemburg understood the true essence of Kautskyianism as a form of opportunism even before the war, and she exposed the centrist “swamp,” the conciliatory policy of the leaders of the Social Democratic Party of Germany toward the revisionists. At the same time, Luxemburg did not understand the relationship between opportunism and imperialism or the need to create a party of a new type. Up to the November revolution in Germany, she did not see the need for an organizational break with opportunism, although she had always waged an ideological struggle against it.

With the beginning of the imperialist war of 1914-18, Luxemburg from a revolutionary position resolutely condemned the chauvinist policy of the Social Democratic leadership: the policy of a “civil peace” and support of the war. In 1916, under the pseudonym Junius, Luxemburg published the pamphlet The Crisis in the German Social Democracy (Russian translation, 1923), in which she revealed the imperialist character of the war and condemned the betrayal of the Social Democratic leaders. Lenin, in his article “The Junius Pamphlet” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed. vol. 30, pp. 1-16), appraised the pamphlet as a generally splendid Marxist work. At the same time he criticized individual errors, such as the denial of the possibility of national liberation wars during the era of imperialism.

Luxemburg was one of the founders and leaders of the Spartacus League and the author of many antiwar leaflets published by Spartacus. She ardently greeted the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia as the beginning of a new era in the history of humanity and as a great school for the class struggle of the proletariat. Substantiating the objective inevitability of the revolution, Luxemburg at the same time noted the outstanding role of the Bolshevik Party as its inspirer and leader. However, because she was in prison at the time and was inadequately informed, she incorrectly evaluated some questions of Bolshevik tactics, such as the resolution of the agrarian and national questions and the dispersal of the Constituent Assembly. Later, in the midst of the acute revolutionary struggle in Germany, Luxemburg corrected many of her mistakes and decisively turned toward Leninism, defending the slogan of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the Soviets in Germany. Assimilating the example of Bolshevism, Luxemburg unmasked the Kautskyian theory of “pure” democracy, correctly defined the question of the correlation of socialist democracy and the dictatorship of the proletariat, and rejected the conciliationist idea of the unification of the Soviets and the National Assembly in Germany. Luxemburg was among the founders of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). She presented a report on the party program at the Constituent Congress of the KPD, which met from Dec. 30, 1918, to Jan. 1, 1919. After the suppression of the Berlin workers’ uprising in January 1919, the counterrevolution organized the savage murder of R. Luxemburg and K. Liebknecht. Their tragic death was a severe loss for the German and international proletariat.

Lenin had high regard for the revolutionary services of Rosa Luxemburg. He called her an eagle, a great Communist, a representative of unfalsified, revolutionary Marxism, emphasizing that her works “will serve as useful manuals for training many generations of Communists all over the world” (ibid., vol. 44, p. 422; see also vol. 41, p. 371).

WORKS

Gesammelte Werke, 2nd ed., vols. 1-3. Berlin, 1972-73.
Ausgewählte Reden und Schriften, 2nd ed., vols. 1-2. Berlin, 1955.
Politische Schriften. Leipzig [1969].
Briefs aus dem Gefängnis, 6th ed. Berlin, 1971.
Briefe an Freunde. Hamburg, 1950.
Listy do Leona Jogichesa-Tyszki, vols. 1-3. Warsaw, 1971.
In Russian translation:
Promyshlennoe razvitie Pol–shi. St. Petersburg, 1899.
Koalitsionnaia politika Hi klassovaia bor’ba? Moscow, 1923.
Pis’ma k Karlu i Luise Kautskim (1896-1918 gg.) Moscow, 1923.
Rechi. Moscow-Leningrad, 1929.
Izbrannye sochineniia, vol. 1, parts 1-2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1928-30.
O literature. Moscow, 1961.
“Roza Liuksemburg protiv revizionizma: Iz neopublikovannykh pisem R. Liuksemburg k Ia. Tyshke (L. logikhesu).” Novaia inoveishaia istoriia, 1962, nos. 5-6; 1963, no. 1.
“R. Liuksemburg i rossiiskoe rabochee dvizhenie (K 100-letiiu so dnia rozhdeniia R. Liuksemburg).” Voprosy istorii KPSS,1971, no. 3.

REFERENCES

Lenin, V. I. “Shag vpered, dva shaga nazad: Otvet N. Lenina Roze Liuksemburg.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 9.
Lenin, V. I. “Mezhdunarodnyi sotsialisticheskii kongress v Shtutgarte.” Ibid., vol. 16, pp. 73, 87.
Lenin, V. I. “O prave na samoopredelenie.” Ibid., vol. 25.
Leninskii sbornik XXII. Moscow, 1933. Pages 337-90.
Krivoguz, I. M. “Spartak” i obrazovanie Kommunisticheskoipartii Germanii. Moscow, 1962.
Dil’, E., A. Lashitsa, and G. Radchun. “Revoliutsionnyi vozhd’ proletariata (K 100-letiiu so dnia rozhdeniia RozyLiuksemburg).” Problemy mira i sotsializma, 1971, no. 3.
Manusevich, A. Ia. “Roza Liuksemburg i ee mesto v istorii mezhdunarodnogo rabochego dvizheniia.” Novaia i noveishaiaistoriia, 1971, no. 2.
lazhborovskaia, I. “Roza Liuksemburg i protivniki Leninizma.” Rabochii klass i sovremennyi mir, 1971, no. 1.
Bartel’, V. Levye v germanskoi sotsial-demokratii v bor’be protiv militarizma i voiny. Moscow, 1959. (Translated fromGerman.)
Geschichte der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung, vols. 1-2. Berlin, 1966.
Wohlgemuth, H. Burgkrieg, nicht Burgfriedel Der Kampf Karl Liebknechts, Rosa Luxemburgs und ihrer Anhänger um dieRettung der deutschen Nation in den Jahren 1914 bis 1916. Berlin, 1963.
Badia, G. Le Spartakisme: Les dernières années de Rosa Luxemburg et de Karl Liebknecht, 1914-1919. Paris, 1967.
Nettl, P. Rosa Luxemburg. London, 1966.
Laschitza, A., and G. Radczun. Rosa Luxemburg: Ihr Wirken in der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung. Berlin, 1971.

B. A. AIZIN

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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‘If You Do Not Follow the Order You Will Be Shot’ – New facts about the murder of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg

GermanRevolution1918

On the Eightieth Anniversary of the Martyrdom
of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg

Eighty years ago on 15th January, 1919 the leadership of the Communist Party of Germany, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, were brutally assassinated. It was a momentous loss for the German and international working class movement and it had widespread and long-term repercussions. The two leaders adhered to the revolutionary trend within the German Social-Democratic Party which had developed shortly after the turn of the century.

For the first time in Marxist literature Karl Liebknecht took up the question of militarism in the imperialist period in his book Militarism and Anti-Militarism which came out in 1907 and which led him to being sentenced to imprisonment. As a member of the Prussian Chamber of Deputies and the Reichstag he exposed the bosses of the military industries headed by Krupp for their warmongering policies and called for international proletarian solidarity as the decisive weapon in the struggle against militarism. Liebknecht welcomed the 1905 Revolution in Russia and came into a sharp political clash with the revisionists, defending the general mass strike as a special proletarian means of struggle. He denounced the assistance given by the German government to tsarism which was engaged in the suppression of the revolution and called upon the German proletariat to emulate the struggle of the Russian workers.

At the beginning of the First World War he did not initially break with the discipline of the Social-Democratic Party, voting for war credits on August 4th, 1914. Liebknecht soon corrected his position and on 2nd December, 1914 he cast the sole vote against war credits. In a statement which was submitted to the Chairman of the Reichstag he characterised the war as one of annexation. This document was later circulated as an illegal leaflet. Even when drafted to the front, Liebknecht skilfully utilised his membership of the Prussian and Reichstag Chambers to continue the struggle. He adopted the Bolshevik slogan of transforming the imperialist war into a civil war. Together with Rosa Luxemburg he established the Spartacus group. From the rostrum of the Prussian Chamber of Deputies he called upon the Berlin proletariat to join the Mayday demonstration of 1916. In the course of this Liebknecht called for the overthrow of the government which was conducting an imperialist war : for this action he was arrested and sentenced by a military court to jail for four years. It was there that he learnt the news of the October Revolution.

Rosa Luxemburg was born in Poland in 1871 and lived and worked in Germany from 1898. She was an early opponent of the revisionist E. Bernstein, actively opposing the ministerialism of Millerand and the opportunist compromises with bourgeois parties. Her writings on these questions were collected in 1899 in Social Reform or Revolution? With regard to the split in the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party Rosa Luxemburg did not accept the Leninist views on the need to construct a proletarian party. Stalin noted that Luxemburg had declared for the Mensheviks, arguing that the Bolsheviks had tendencies to Blanquism and ultra-centralism. During the Russian Revolution of 1905-07 she drew closer to the Bolsheviks on many questions of the strategy and tactics of the revolutionary struggle. Rosa Luxemburg correctly understood the role of the working class as the decisive force of the revolution, recognised the need for an armed uprising against tsarism and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Luxemburg expressed complete agreement with the Bolshevik view that the liberal bourgeoisie was a counter-revolutionary force and that the peasantry constituted a revolutionary class. Drawing on the experience of the 1905 revolution she supported the greatest possible development of the extra-parliamentary struggle of the masses and stressed the need to use the mass political strike. For her anti-militarist struggle she was imprisoned during the First World War.

In her major theoretical works on political economy Rosa Luxemburg presented a critique of capitalism and imperialism where the aggressive colonial policies were described; she upheld the view, however, that the accumulation of capital under capitalism was possible through the expansion of the sphere of exploitation of the non-capitalist sectors so that imperialism was defined as the struggle of the capitalist states for the non-capitalist environment. Despite her important theoretical contribution Rosa Luxemburg deviated from Marxism on a number of questions: to wit, on the denial of the right of national self-determination and an underestimation of the revolutionary potentialities of the peasantry.

From the beginning of the First World War she criticised the imperialist character of the war and the betrayal of the social-democratic leadership. As a founder and leader of the Spartacus League she authored a number of anti-war tracts. Luxemburg greeted the October revolution, commended the role of the Bolsheviks while incorrectly evaluating the Bolshevik tactics on the agrarian and national question, and the dispersal of the Constituent Assembly. Her critiques of Bolshevik tactics have been widely advertised by the spokesmen of U.S. imperialism notwithstanding the fact that she retraced her steps on a number of questions relating to the Bolshevik revolution and made a turn towards Leninism defending the dictatorship of the proletariat and the Soviets in Germany.

Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were among the founders of the Communist Party of Germany which held its constituent congress from 30th December, 1918 to January 1, 1919. After the suppression of the Berlin workers’ uprising of January 1919, the ruling classes organised the brutal killings of the two communists on 15th January 1919. The roots of the murders lay in the secret accommodation reached between the right-wing socialist leader Chancellor Friedrich Ebert and General Groener which was established in November, 1918 ‘in order to prevent the spread of terroristic Bolshevism in Germany’. Bourgeois and socialist organs competed to hunt down the two revolutionaries. The spy office of the Reichstag Regiment founded by the Social-Democratic Party set a bounty of 100,000 marks on the heads of Liebknecht and Luxemburg. On the 13th January, 1919 two days before the murders the Social-Democratic Party paper Vorwärts carried a poem calling for the assassination of the two communists.The last verse of this ended:

Many hundred corpses in a row—
Proletarians!
Karl, Radek, Rosa and Co —
Not one of them is there, not one of them is there!
Proletarians!

It was not without foundation that John Heartfield was to craft the photomontage entitled ‘Fraternal greetings of the SDP’ in which the deathhead of Karl Liebknecht was depicted below the masthead of the SDP paper Vorwärts which was shown dripping with blood.

After the liberation of Berlin by the heroic Red Army in 1945 a participant of the murders was arrested and interrogated. His testimony sheds light on the final hours of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg.

VS.

 

Secret
Copy No.1

4 October 1945,
N.205 cc

From the Deputy Chairman of the Council of the People’s Commissars of the USSR,

To Comrade V.M. Molotov,

I am forwarding for you an intimation of the military prosecutor of the Berlin garrison about the arrest and testimony of a participant to the murder of Rosa Luxemburg.

K. Gorshenin

The Military Prosecutor of the Berlin Garrison

13 September 1945

Secret

To the Chief Military Prosecutor of the Red Army Lt. General of Law

Comrade N.P. Afanasiev,

On 13 June 1945 the Berlin operative group of the NKVD arrested a participant of the murder of Rosa Luxemberg — Otto Runge (living under the documents of Rudolf Wilhelm), born 1875, hailing from Gestebize (on Oder), by nationality a German and by (class — trans.) origin a peasant, educated up to 8th class, member of the NSDP since 1933, living in Berlin at 22 Greifen-Gagenerstrasse. Since 1941 was living in retirement on pension and was not working anywhere.

The investigations revealed the following:

Unter officer of a cavalry division Otto Runge, on the orders of the commander of his battalion, on the 13th of January 1919, was sent along with 15 other soldiers of his battalion to hotel Eden (Berlin, Nurembergenstrasse No.30) to guard the regiment’s headquarter.

On the 15th of January, Captain Pabst, an officer of the Staff of the regiment gave Runge the order to personally stand guard, along with soldier Drager, at the main entrance of hotel Eden from 18.00 hours (Berlin time) onwards. At 20.00 Runge and Drager were not replaced at the post and on orders of General Hofman, who at that time was present at the headquarters of the regiment, they were left to guard the headquarters for an unspecified period of time.

At 20.45 a car stopped at the main entrance of hotel Eden with four officers and Rosa Luxemburg. The latter was led by the officers into the regimental headquarters. Approximately 10 minutes later a second car also stopped at the main entrance with three officers and Karl Liebknecht, who was led by these officers into the regimental headquarters.

At this time, having come to know about the arrest of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, people started to gather near hotel Eden.

After K.Liebknecht and R. Luxemburg were led into the regimental Pflugk-Hartung headquarters, captain Pflugk-Hartung approached Runge and asked : did he know who the man and the woman in civilian clothes brought in just then were, and when Runge answered in the negative, Pflugk-Hartung told Runge that they were Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, that they were pernicious revolutionaries and bandits who wanted to overthrow the rulers and seize power for themselves. Pflugk-Hartung then ordered Runge that when K. Liebknecht and R. Luxemburg come out of the hotel he must shoot them. Runge supposedly refused to do so on the pretext that a large number of people had gathered and he might slip and hurt some one else too. Subsequently Pflugk-Hartung went inside the headquarters and captain Pabst came out and gave the order to kill K. Liebknecht and R. Luxemburg by hitting them with the butt of the rifle, which Runge agreed to do. After Pabst left, lieutenant Kanaris came out and told Runge that if he did not carry out the orders i.e. kill K. Liebknecht and R. Luxemburg he himself would be shot. Kanaris also went inside the headquarters.

When Runge and Drager were left alone at the post, the latter told Runge that if he (Runge — trans.) did not carry out the orders then Drager himself will kill K. Liebknecht and R. Luxemburg with his bayonet. To which Runge replied that ‘the order has been given and I will carry it out’.

After a few minutes the director (his name is not established) of the hotel walked out of the main entrance. He was on the right, in the middle was R. Luxemburg and to the left was lieutenant Vogel, who pushed R. Luxemburg out of the hotel directly towards the guard Runge. Runge was prepared for the murder and with the full swing of the hand struck Luxemburg with the butt of the rifle on the left side of her face and shoulder, under the impact of which the latter fell to the ground, but was still alive and attempted to stand up. At this moment 4 soldiers came out of the hotel, and along with lieutenant Vogel dragged R. Luxemburg into the same car in which she had been brought to the hotel. They themselves got into the car. Vogel took out a pistol and in that very place shot Luxemburg in the head. Her corpse was carried away.

Subsequently, the following persons walked out of the hotel: captain-lieutenant Pflugk-Hartung, his brother, captain Pflugk-Hartung, Oberlieutenant Rithin, oberlieutenant (illegible in the original document), lieutenant Shultz, lieutenant Liepmann soldier Friedrich and among them was K. Liebknecht who was taken away by them in a car parked on the other side of the road.

After a whole Lieutenant Krul came to Runge at the post and ordered him to go immediately to the 2nd floor of the hotel and kill Wilhelm Pieck, the Editor of the Communist newspaper ‘Rote-Fahne’.

Krul brought Runge to the 2nd floor, where Wilhelm Pieck was standing in the corridor, and told Runge to shoot Wilhelm Pieck if he made a move. They wanted to fake a killing while attempting to escape while under detention.

When Runge and Pieck were left alone in the corridor, the latter turned to Runge and said ‘soldier do not shoot me, I have something more to convey to your command’, after which Runge led Wilhelm Pieck to the room of captain Pabst. After a few minutes Pabst led Pieck out into the corridor and ordered Runge to accompany the latter to the commandant’s office. On the way, supposedly, Runge let Wilhelm Pieck go, and returned to the headquarters and reported to Lieutenant Hervitz, that he, Runge, fell ill and had let Pieck go, as he could not accompany him any further.

Approximately at 22.30 Lieutenant Vogel came to the headquarters and declared that they had dumped the corpse of R. Luxemburg into the river Spree.

The second car returned approximately at 23.00 with the officers who had taken away K.Liebknecht, and they said that they took the latter along the road towards the Zoological Park and faked a breakdown in the car. They stopped the car and got out of it. Then lieutenant Shultz took a pen-knife out of Liebknecht’s pocket, cut himself on the arm and then shot Karl Liebknecht, thereby trying to depict that Liebknecht was killed while attempting to escape during which he injured Shultz.

On 16th January Runge was summoned to the regimental headquarters where Captain Pabst gave Runge the order: stay, without leaving at the apartment of Lieutenant Liepmann till he received the necessary documents for departure.

After a gap of 8 days Lieutenants Kanaris and Liepmann gave Runge false documents in the name of Krankenwerter Dinwald and suggested to him to proceed to Fletsburg and also handed Runge a sum of 1000 Marks.

Runge lived in Fletsburg till 11th April 1919 and then two officers from the crime police came to him and asked Runge to come along with them to Berlin.

On the way to Berlin on the train, these officers of the crime police explained to Runge that he was being taken to the court in a case regarding the murder of K. Liebknecht and R. Luxemburg. He must deny his involvement in the killing, declaring that at the time he, Runge, was living in Fletsburg.

On reaching Berlin Runge was put in jail on 13th April, and on 8th May the legal process started and continued till 14th of May.

On 9th June 1945 during interrogation Otto Runge gave the following evidence:

‘During the time when I was in jail prior to the trial, advocate Grinsbach and judge Hentz came to my cell and gave me instructions as to how I should conduct myself during the trial. They told me to take all the blame on myself and not to involve any of the officers. I was supposed to declare that the killing of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht was carried out by me on my own initiative in a state of insanity’.

During the interrogation of 14.IX.1945 Otto Runge said:

‘After I answered the question put to me by judge Hentz that I had killed Rosa Luxemberg and Karl Liebknecht on my own initiative and in a state of insanity, no more questions were posed to me’.

And further:

‘In reality I was not insane, I was a normal person and was answerable for my acts as a person in full control of his mental abilities.

‘Before the trial I was thrice sent for medical examination and the legal medical consultants doctors Leipmann and Shtrasmon gave the report about my insanity’.

After the officers, who really were involved in the killing of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, when asked by the court replied that they had never issued any orders regarding the killing, indignant and angry shouts were heard in the courtroom from the general public to the effect that the officers were giving false testimony as they were the real perpetrators of the killing and Runge had served only as a tool in their hands. Judge Hentz stopped the trial and removed the public from the courtroom and the session continued in camera.

Runge was sentenced to 25 months in jail by this trial court and all the officers were acquitted.

While serving time in jail, some time in the month of November 1919, one colonel Apshtet, who was then told the whole truth by Runge about the killing of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, visited Runge. Colonel Apshtet made a written record of the interrogation of Runge and told the latter that this record would be placed before the Chairman of the Supreme Military Court for a second inquiry into the case for Runge’s acquittal.

On the 31st of January 1920 by a decision of the Supreme Military Court Runge was released and continued to stay at his home waiting for the second trial.

On the 5th of February 1920 Runge was visited at his home by 3 officers of the police and Heppert, the Head of the administration of the jails. The latter told Runge that new court proceedings were going to be initiated regarding the case of the killing of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, and Runge would appear in these proceedings as a witness and the officers involved in the killing as the accused. However, due to political compulsions Runge would have to be put in jail again. Heppert took away the certificate of release by the Supreme Court’ (Vishii Verkhovnii Sud — trans.) from Runge and he was taken to the jail by the policemen where he stayed till 24th March still waiting for the trial to begin.

In connection with the publication of an article in one of the journals by its editor, one Bornstein, regarding the wrong sentence passed by Judge Hentz in 1919 in the case regarding the killing of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, a new trial was initiated in which Runge appeared as a witness.

During the interrogation of 8th August of this year Otto Runge said:

‘About 8 days before the beginning of the trial of Judge Hentz I was approached by two persons who offered me 10,000 marks so that I would give the same evidence in this trial regarding the killing of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht as I gave in the earlier trial of 1919. These people did not mention their names but did mention that they had come on the personal request of Judge Hentz. I refused to accept their offer’.

During this interrogation Runge also said:

‘At the trial of Judge Hentz I told the entire truth, how the killing was really carried out and also about the attempt to kill Wilhelm Pieck’.

At the trial of Judge Hentz Wilhelm Pieck was also present as a witness.

For fraudulently passing the judgement in the case regarding the killing of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in 1919, Judge Hentz, supposedly, was dismissed from the post of the Chief Prosecutor of Germany after a trial in 1929.

It was not possible to investigate the matter of the killing of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in greater detail, despite my written directive, in view of the fact that no more witnesses or direct participants of the killing could be found, and Runge’s health sharply deteriorated in the second half of August. On 1st September Runge died due to deteriorating symptoms of old age (Runge was born in 1875).

Military Prosecutor of the Berlin garrison
Colonel of Law
Kotlyar

Courtesy: ‘Vestnik’ No.1, 1995. Translated from the Russian by Tahir Asghar.

 

Epitaphs For Karl Liebknecht and
Rosa Luxemburg

Bertolt Brecht

Epitaph 1919

Red Rosa has also now disappeared
Where she lies is unknown
Because she told the truth to the poor
The rich have hunted her out of the world.

Epitaph for Karl Liebknecht

Here lies
Karl Liebknecht
The fighter against war
When he was struck down
Our city still continued to stand.

Epitaph for Rosa Luxemburg

Here lies buried
Rosa Luxemburg
A Jewess from Poland
Champion of the German workers Murdered on the orders of
The German oppressors. Oppressed;
Bury your differences!

Translated from the German by V.P. Sharma

 

karlkoll

In Memory of Karl Liebknecht, 1919-20, Käthe Kollwitz

Source

The German Situation and the Question of Social-Fascism

Demonstrators in East Berlin carry portraits of both German socialist Karl Liebknecht and political activist Rosa Luxemburg in 1988, during a protest march against their assassination in 1919. (AP/Press Association Images)

Demonstrators in East Berlin carry portraits of both German socialist Karl Liebknecht and political activist Rosa Luxemburg in 1988, during a protest march against their assassination in 1919. (AP/Press Association Images)

The greatest factor in the stabilization of capitalism after the first round of wars and revolutions was Social-Democracy. In such countries as Germany and Austria the Social-Democratic leaders actually undertook to organize and maintain the capitalist State against the revolutionary onslaught of the workers. A German Social-Democrat, Noske, drowned in blood the workers’ revolution in Germany in 1918 and 1919. Social-Democratic ministers suppressed strikes, fired at workers’ demonstrations, declared martial law against the workers. A Socialist government in Great Britain sent armies to subdue the uprising of the colonial peoples. The Social- Democrats of France took the initiative in introducing the imperialist martial laws. In. short, everywhere the leaders of Social-Democracy became part and parcel of the bourgeois State apparatus. They advanced the idea that where there is a coalition government, i.e., a government of’ capitalist and Socialist ministers, there we have a transition from capitalism to socialism. The fact of the matter is that a coalition government remains a capitalist government since it does not shake the foundations of capitalism, private property and exploitation. On the contrary, it only serves to strengthen capitalism by deceiving the workers with the idea of peaceful transition to socialism.

In Germany and Austria Social-Democracy actually aided the growth of fascism. Fascist bands were being organized under the protection of Social-Democratic governments. Fascist demonstrations were unmolested by Social-Democratic police presidents while Communist demonstrations were being dispersed. Fascist bands were allowed to arm while the militant Red Front organization of the German workers was outlawed. Martial law and semi-martial law were repeatedly introduced to curb the movement of the workers who demanded an improvement of their intolerable conditions.

In the very same way as Lenin, after the betrayal of the proletariat by Social-Democracy at the beginning of the War, called the Social-Democratic leaders social-patriots and social-chauvinists, so the Communist International, after the new betrayals of Social-Democracy, called its leaders social-fascists –in the sense of paving the way for fascism.

It was disastrous for the proletariat of Germany and of the whole world that the Social-Democratic leaders made common cause with capitalism. It was disastrous that so many millions of workers were deceived by the socialist phrases of the Social-Democratic leaders and believed them to be true fighters for the interests of the working class. It was unfortunate that the Communist Party of Germany could swing only around six million votes and did not have the majority of the working class behind it. It would have been better for the workers of Germany and for the world revolution had the masses of German workers cherished fewer illusions about their Social-Democratic leaders. It would have been difficult for fascism to sweep into power in Germany had there been organized in Germany a powerful united front.

It cannot be denied that there were certain weaknesses in the work of the Communist Party of Germany, but opposition to the united front was not among them. The Communist Party did not succeed in bringing all its members into the reformist trade unions so as to have there a stronger revolutionary support. It did not work sufficiently in the reformist trade unions – and this was the most neglected sector of its activities, although it did build the red trade-union opposition with a membership – prior to the advent of fascism of over 300,000. It did not root itself sufficiently in the factories and plants. It was not flexible enough in approaching Social-Democratic rank-and-file workers. All these shortcomings were repeatedly pointed out by the Communist International, and the Party made strong efforts to improve its work. As a result its influence grew tremendously.

“During the last period before Hitler came to power, the Communist Party succeeded in penetrating the broad masses and even in obtaining influence among the social-democrats, the members of the reformist trade unions and also the members of the Republican Flag (Reichsbanner) organization, for the very reason that it was able to organize the struggle against this emergency decree. The authority of the Party was greatly enhanced, and members of reformist trade unions began to participate in the strikes led by the Red Trade Union Opposition and the Communists. Thus, besides Communists, members of reformist trade unions and even National Socialists participated in the Berlin transport strike committee.” (O. Piatnitsky, The Present Situation in Germany, p. 20.)

The Communist Party of Germany was ready to fight fascism. As a matter of fact, the Communists did fight the fascist bands in the streets on numerous occasions, meeting their attacks and the attacks of the police which, in Prussia for instance, was under Social-Democratic command and everywhere protected the Brown Shirts.

That the Communists were working for a united front with the Social-Democratic workers, if need be through an agreement with the Social-Democratic leaders, may be seen from the following:

In 1925 the Communist Party proposed to the Social-Democratic Party a united struggle against the monarchist danger. Later in the year, seeing that the Communists and the Social-Democrats had a majority of members in the Berlin municipality, the Communists proposed to the Social-Democrats a common program of action for the interests of the workers. In 1926 the Communists called upon the Social-Democratic leaders to join in a plebiscite against returning the property to the former German royal family. In the Spring of 1928 the C.P. proposed joint May-Day demonstrations. In October, 1928, it proposedjoint anti-militarist action against the building of a battle cruiser. In 1929-1932 it repeatedly proposed joint action against wage-cuts. In April, 1932, it proposed a joint struggle of all working-class organizations against an impending wage-cut.

All these proposals were turned down by Social-Democracy. Broad masses of workers responded to some of the Communist appeals for united action. Social-Democratic leaders preferred cooperation with the capitalist parties.

When Von Papen drove the Social-Democrats out of the Prussian government, the Communist Party proposed a joint general strike for the repeal of the emergency decrees and for the disbanding of the Storm Troops. On January 30, 1933, when Hitler came into power, the Communist Party again proposed a general strike to fight reaction. Again in March, 1933, after the burning of the Reichstag, the Communist Party called upon the Social-Democratic Party and the trade unions to declare a general strike against the attack on the workers. All these proposals were rejected by the Social-Democrats who preferred to believe that they could function and maintain a modicum of power under any capitalist régime.

Who is to be blamed?

Trotsky says: the Communists are to blame. Why? Because they called the Social-Democrats social-fascists. Trotsky cannot deny the fact that the Communists were trying to organize the united front. They organized the Anti-Fascist Action which was to unite workers of various parties. They tried to organize the united front in the factories and unions. The Social-Democratic leaders sowed mistrust toward the Communists and toward the united front, and this hampered the Communist action. Trotsky did his bit.

Now he is dissatisfied.

Here is his chief trump:

“Had the Comintern placed, from 1929, or even from 1930 or 1931, at the foundation of its policies the objective irreconcilability between Social-Democracy and fascism, or more exactly between fascism and Social-Democracy; if upon this it had built a systematic and persistent policy of the united front, Germany, within a few months, would have been covered with a network of mighty committees of proletarian defense, potential workers’ Soviets, that is.” (Leon Trotsky, The Militant, March 10, 1934.)

But, my dear Mr. Trotsky, there was no irreconcilability between Social-Democracy and fascism, or more exactly: between the Social-Democratic leaders and fascism. There was no irreconcilability as far as the Social-Democratic leaders were concerned. They certainly had not anticipated that they would be so ruthlessly driven out. They had formed a substantial part of the State apparatus under all regimes prior to that of Hitler and they were convinced that even under Hitler would they retain a certain share of power. No matter how much the Communists would have painted before them the dire results they were to expect from the ascendancy of fascism – they simply would not have believed it. They would have said they knew better.

Witness the conduct of the Austrian Social-Democratic leaders who were supposed to be much more radical than their German brethren and who had the experience of their German comrades. Listen to the testimony of the “Left” Marxist, Otto Bauer, in his interview with the New York Times correspondent, C, E. R. Gedye (published February 18, 1934) as to how the Social-Democrats of Austria were ready to cooperate with the fascist dictator Dollfuss at the expense of the Austrian constitution:

“Since the date of the Hitler triumph in Germany (March 5)when the Reichstag ‘elections’ gave the German Nazis control, our party has made the very greatest efforts to come to an agreement with the government…. In the first weeks of March our leaders were still in close personal contact with Dollfuss and frequently tried to get him to agree to a constitutional solution. At the end of March he promised our leader, Dr. Dennenberg, personally that at the beginning of April he would open negotiations with us for the reform of the Constitution [for the limiting of bourgeois democracy to suit fascism – M.J.O.]. This promise he never fulfilled, for at the beginning of April he passed over definitely to the fascist camp… and refused to speak to any of the socialists. When he said that he could not see the existing leaders we offered to send him other negotiators. He refused sharply. As we could not see him again, we tried to negotiate through other people. Honestly, we left no stone unturned. We approached President Miklas…. Then we tried the clerical politicians, whom we had known for a long time…. But everything was shattered on the stubborn resistance of Dollfuss who simply refused to hear of the socialists again. A group of religious socialists got together with a group of Catholic democrats and tried to induce the Church to intervene. This also failed.”

Suppose you offered them at that time a united front with the Communists to fight Dollfuss? They did not think of fighting fascism. They had no intention of defending bourgeois democracy. Listen to this precious admission by Bauer in the same interview:

“We offered to make the greatest concessions that a democratic and socialistic party ever made. We let Dollfuss know that if he would only pass a bill through Parliament we would accept a measure authorizing the Government to govern by decree without Parliament for two years [our emphasis – M.J.O.], on two conditions, that a small parliamentary committee, in which the government had a majority, should be able to criticize decrees and that a constitutional court, the only protection against breaches of the Constitution, should be restored.”

They certainly were prepared to go far enough. The “Left” Social-Democrats were ready to agree to the abolition of Parliament provided the abolition is passed by Parliament (a procedure actually practiced in Germany under Hitler). They were ready, they say, to agree to a government without Parliament “for two years”, but it is quite obvious that it would not have been over-difficult to induce them to accept an extension of the time. They were interested in maintaining their positions in the trade unions, in the municipalities, in the police power, in the judicial system – knowing very well that those positions would be curtailed under fascism. They clung to a shadow of power at the time when, according to their own testimony, “the dissatisfaction and agitation of the workers against the conservative policy of our Party committee grew as the government provocations increased…. Excitement rose to a fever pitch during the last weeks.” (Ibid.)

It is for not having induced such leaders to organize a united front that Trotsky blames the Communists.

Be it remembered that he does not blame the Communists for not approaching the workers because he knows very well that they did approach the workers and did make every effort to induce them to join the united front. His chief stock in trade is the accusation that the Communist leaders did not make peace with the Social-Democratic top leaders.

Trotsky s argument in support of the possibility of a united front with the Social-Democratic leaders holds no water.

“Social-Democracy [he says] can neither live nor breathe without leaning upon the political and trade union organizations of the working class. Concurrently it is precisely along this line that the irreconcilable contradiction between Social-Democracy and fascism takes place; precisely along this line does there open up the necessity and unbridgeable stage of the policies of the united front with the Social-Democracy.” (The Militant, March 10, 1934.)

This argument is just as incorrect as the English translation of the sentences is rotten. Events have proven that the bourgeoisie resorts to fascism when it finds that Social-Democracy is no longer able to keep in check the revolutionary movement of the masses. For this reason all the mass organizations of the working class, even if dominated by Social-Democratic leaders, are suppressed. But prior to the advent of Hitler the Social-Democratic leaders did not believe this.

They relied on capitalist democracy, on the Weimar Constitution, on the German respect for law and order and – last but not least – on their record in the service of the bourgeoisie. They invented the policy of supporting the “lesser evil” just to have an excuse for collaborating with the bourgeoisie. Their Berlin Chief of Police Zoergiebel opened machine-gun fire on workers participating in a May-Day parade (1929) without a permit. The number of victims was over 30. Their leaders approved of semi-martial law introduced to quell the workers’ revolts. Their leaders supported wage-cuts and armaments. Social-Democracy supported the governments of Bruening, Von Papen and Schleicher. It was ready to support Hitler. Did it not give its recognition to the Hitler government after the elections of March 5, 1933, declaring that Hitler had been legally appointed by Hindenburg and given a clear mandate by a majority of the people? Was it not ready to cooperate with the Hitler government if offered a chance? Was it not assuming the role of a loyal opposition even after being kicked in the face by the Nazi boots? Did not the Social-Democratic parliamentary group, on May 17, 1933, vote unanimously in the Reichstag in favor of Hitler’s policy? Did not Carl Severing remain a supporter of Hitler in spite of all? Did not the same veteran Social-Democratic leader appeal to the population of the Saar to vote for the Nazis? Did not the Social- Democratic union leaders make overtures to Hitler?

When their collapse came, when they were ignominiously driven out without resistance, then the process of revaluation of values began not only among the Social-Democratic workers but also among some of the leaders. One section (Severing & Co.) are just waiting for an opportunity to be “taken in” by the fascists. The center is vacillating. The Left Wing is for a united front with the Communists. The united front is making headway, notably in France, in Spain and also in the United States – under the initiative and leadership of the Communists. But to expect that the leaders of German Social- Democracy would have agreed to the united front with the Communists before January, 1933, is to be a Trotsky.

At the bottom of all this preachment is Trotsky’s Menshevik attitude to Social-Democracy. The old Menshevik asserts himself in the leader of the “Left opposition”. He does not believe that Social-Democracy is “as bad as that”. He is sincere when he says that the Communists should not have called the Social-Democratic leaders social-fascists. He believes they are not. He believes they are also fighters, at least for bourgeois democracy and for the interests of the workers as far as they can be defended under bourgeois democracy. The Social-Democrats to him are “also” socialists. Now it is perfectly true that if the Communists had abandoned their Communist position and made peace with the German Social-Democratic leaders on the terms of these leaders, then there would have been a united front. The trouble is, it wouldn’t have been a united front against fascism.

The travesty of the whole barrage is evident from the experiences of. France. When the united front was established in France, when huge mass movements against fascism began to develop on a united-front basis, the Trotsky group joined the Socialist Party, fused with it, and is fighting within the Socialist Party against the united front.

Here you have the Trotskyites in action.

But why did not the Communist Party attempt an armed uprising in Germany in the early part of 1933 with its own forces? This question is often asked by Trotskyites.

The answer is given by Lenin who explains “the fundamental law of revolution”.

“It is not sufficient for revolution that the exploited and oppressed masses understand the impossibility of living in the old way and demand changes; for revolution, it is necessary that the exploiters should not be able to live and rule as of old. Only when the ‘lower classes’ do not want the old regime,and when the ‘upper classes’ are unable to govern as of old, then only can revolution succeed. This truth may be expressed in other words: Revolution is impossible without an all-national crisis, affecting both the exploited and the exploiters. [Our emphasis – M.J.O.] It follows that for revolution it is essential, first, that a majority of the workers (or at least a majority of the conscious, thinking, politically active workers) should fully understand the necessity for revolution, and be ready to sacrifice their lives for it; secondly, that the ruling class be in a state of governmental crisis, which attracts even the most backward masses into politics… weakens the government and facilitates its rapid overthrow by the revolutionaries.” (V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Russian Edition, Vol. XXV, p. 222.)

In discussing the German situation of the time when Hitler came to power, O. Piatnitsky, a leader of the Communist International, quotes the above Leninist definition of a revolutionary situation and draws the inevitable conclusion. He says:

“Had all these conditions matured in Germany in January 1933? No. The entire bourgeoisie, in the face of the menace of a proletarian revolution, in spite of the existence of discords among them, stood united against the revolutionary proletariat. The overwhelming majority of the petty bourgeoisie followed the bourgeoisie as represented by Hitler, who promised them the return of the ‘grand’ old Germany in which the petty bourgeoisie had lived in more or less tolerable conditions. The proletariat was split by the Social-Democratic Party which was still followed by the majority of the workers. So the exploiters were still able to live and administer, were still able to exploit the working class as of old, although by new, fascist methods.” (O. Piatnitsky, The Present Situation in Germany, p. 27.)

The Presidium of the Executive Committee of the Comintern, evaluating the German situation, came to the only conclusion which a responsible leadership could draw from the existing relationship of the social forces in Germany.

“Under these circumstances [says the Presidium resolution] the proletariat was in a position in which it could not organize and in fact failed to organize an immediate and decisive blow against the state apparatus, which, for the purpose of fighting against the proletariat, absorbed the fighting organizations of the fascist bourgeoisie: the Storm Troops, the Steel Helmets and the Reichswehr. The bourgeoisie was able without serious resistance to hand over the power of government in the country to the National-Socialists, who act against the working class by means of provocations, bloody terror and political banditry.

“In analyzing the conditions for a victorious uprising of the proletariat, Lenin said that a decisive battle can be considered as fully mature,

“ ‘…if all the class forces which were hostile to us have become sufficiently entangled, have sufficiently come to blows, have sufficiently weakened themselves by the struggle which is beyond their strength. If all the vacillating, hesitating, unstable, intermediate elements, i.e., the petty bourgeoisie, petty-bourgeois democracy as distinguished from the bourgeoisie, have sufficiently exposed themselves to the people, have sufficiently disgraced themselves by their practical bankruptcy. If among the proletariat mass sentiment has begun, and is rising strongly in favor of supporting the most decisive, supremely bold and revolutionary action against the bourgeoisie. Then the revolution has matured, and if we have properly taken into account all of the conditions mentioned above… and have properly selected the moment, our victory is assured.’

“The characteristic feature of the circumstances at the time of the Hitler coup was that these conditions for a victorious rising had not yet managed to mature at that moment. They only existed in an embryonic state.

“As for the vanguard of the proletariat, the Communist Party, not wishing to slip into adventurism, it, of course, could not compensate for this missing factor by its own actions.”

Trotsky’s criticism of the Comintern is the expression of the despair of a petty bourgeois frightened by fascism and disbelieving in the revolutionary forces of the proletariat. Trotsky’s proposed policies, therefore, are policies of a frightened petty-bourgeois reformist.

“Democratic slogans and illusions [he says] cannot be abolished by decree. It is necessary that the masses go through them and outlive them in the experience of battle…. It is necessary to find the dynamic elements in the present defensive position of the working class; we must make the masses draw conclusions from their democratic logic; we must widen and deepen the channels of the struggle.” (Leon Trotsky, “Our Present Tasks,” The Militant, December 9, 1933.)

In these words is contained a whole program. It presupposes a general political situation where black reaction is destined to reign supreme for a very long period and where there can be no thought of a determined proletarian fight for power. It presupposes a stable capitalist system. It assumes that the struggle of the workers for the improvement of their immediate conditions must necessarily proceed in parliamentary channels. It therefore advances the struggle for democratic reforms as the prime task of the workers.

Like all such Social-Democratic creations it is both reactionary and utopian.

It is reactionary because it gives up the proletarian struggle for power at a time when conditions are rapidly maturing for such a struggle. It is utopian because it is not possible for the workers at any time to confine themselves to “democratic slogans” alone if they are to defend their right to live.

The workers are hungry. They are oppressed. They must fight for higher wages, social insurance, against police brutality, against lynch laws. Whenever they undertake a real fight they inevitably reach out beyond the limits of bourgeois democracy. They clash with the police. They defy the courts. They break injunctions. They forcibly annul evictions. They “riot”. When capitalism is shaken and undermined as at present the seizure of power becomes a task for the near future. Every fight is a step nearer to the seizure of power. Every battle gives the working class new experience, teaches it the lessons of unity and concerted advance against the bourgeoisie. Only such an advance can yield immediate improvement of the workers’ lives today, can secure for them elementary rights and better economic conditions.

It is the class struggle against capitalism that the Communists are inscribing on the banner of the working class – the class struggle which in its sharpest form is armed uprising, the final battles for the dictatorship of the proletariat.

It is class collaboration on which Trotsky is building the flimsy structure of his “fourth international” program.

Listen to a Trotskyite “Bolshevik” exhorting the world in the following piece of sonorous declamation:

“We, Bolsheviks, consider that the real salvation from fascism and war lies in the revolutionary conquest of power and the establishment of the proletarian dictatorship. [But our ‘belief’ is just a shadow, bloodless, lifeless. – M.J.O.] You, Socialist workers [Read: Social-Democratic bureaucrats – M.J.O.] do not agree to this road. You hope not only to save what has been gained but also to move forward along the road of democracy. [In collaboration with Roosevelt, Richberg and Perkins. – M.J.O.] Good! As long as we have not convinced you and attracted you to our side we are ready to follow this road with you to the end. [It is easier to follow you than bother with rank-and-file workers who may not agree to submit to ‘democratic’ edicts of chiefs of police – M.J.O.] But we demand that you carry on the struggle for democracy not in words but in deeds [For instance, let Norman Thomas pay a new visit to the ‘First Lady’ of the land. – MJ.O.]…. Make your Party open up a real struggle for a strong democratic movement. [Which is to be even more misleading than the Epic or LaFollette movements which contain economic planks in their programs. – M.J.O.] For this it is necessary first of all to sweep away all the remnants of the feudal state. It is necessary to give the suffrage to all men and women who reached their 18th birthday, also to the soldiers in the army [Forget about the hunger of the boys and girls. Give them the happiness of suffrage that will be a balm to their wound. Incidentally it costs the bosses less than social insurance. – M.J.O.] Full concentration of legislative and executive power in the hands of one chamber! Let your Party open up a serious campaign under these slogans! Let it arouse millions of workers, let it conquer power through the drive of the masses. [Hurrah for a new Ebert-Noske-Scheidemann-Ramsay McDonald government. – M.J.O.] This at any rate would be a serious attempt of struggle against fascism and war. [In the same way as Severing, Otto Bauer and Julius Deutsch fought against fascism and war. – M.J.O.] We, Bolsheviks, would retain the right to explain to the workers the insufficiency of democratic slogans; we could not take upon ourselves the political responsibility for the Social-Democratic government; but we would honestly help you in the struggle for such a. government [We would help you to deceive the masses. – M.J.O.] Together with you we would repel all attacks of bourgeois reaction. [And help shoot down workers and farmers who infringe on ‘democratic’ laws in their fight for bread – M.J.O.] More than that, we would bind ourselves before you not to undertake any revolutionary actions which go beyond the limits of democracy (real democracy) so long as the majority of the workers has not consciously placed itself on the side of revolutionary dictatorship. [It will be our democratic duty to break ‘unlawful’ strikes and to disperse ‘unlawful’ assembly. How dare they go beyond the limits of real bourgeois democracy! – M.J.O.]” (Trotsky, “Our Present Tasks,” The Militant, December 9, 1933.)

It must be made clear at the outset that when Trotsky addresses himself to the “Socialist workers”, he means the Socialist leaders – those who prevent the Socialist workers from engaging in the real class struggle. It must be noted, secondly, that the program which he proposes is purely reformist. He would help Social-Democracy to become the government in a capitalist State (“honestly” help it); he would help Social-Democracy improve the machinery of the capitalist State; he would bind himself to undertake no actions that go beyond bourgeois democracy (when he says “real democracy” he ought to know that such democracy exists only as the dictatorship of the proletariat – and that every bourgeois democracy, no matter how embellished, is a sham democracy designed as a weapon of the exploiters against the exploited); in other words he undertakes to help fasten upon the workers the rule of the capitalists operating through the instrumentality of bourgeois fake democracy. It must be noted, third, that not in vain did Trotsky omit such vital demands as higher wages, a shorter labor day, unemployment insurance, the right of the oppressed nationalities. For, the moment the workers undertake the fight for such demands, bourgeois legality goes smash. The limits of bourgeois democracy are overstepped. Trotsky implicitly promises the Social-Democratic leaders not to undertake such actions, not to countenance them. Moreover, he knows well that when the Social-Democrats are in power they will use the State armed forces against the workers if they undertake such actions. When he appeals to the Social-Democrats to join with him, he is forced to confine himself to such innocuous demands as one chamber and the lowering of the voting age. It is only here that the Social-Democrats can meet him half way. And it is on such a program that he is willing to bind up the fate of the Trotskyites with the fate of the Social-Democratic leaders.

Once more we have before us the petty bourgeois who is panic-stricken. He has seen the advent of fascism. He believes that fascism has come to stay. He believes that the working class is crushed. He calumniates the Communist Party of Germany, saying that it is dead when in reality it lives and fights. He does not wish to see the forces making for a social revolution. He does not wish to understand that once the masses rise – and wherever they rise – they must fight for their lives, against hunger, against annihilation at the hands of finance capital – and that means fight against the capitalist State whether in its fascist or in its democratic form. He does not wish to realize that the workers – the masses of the workers, the majority of the workers – will join the banner of struggle against the capitalists, which is always a struggle undermining the capitalist State. He wants to keep the masses of workers from engaging in the struggle against capitalism under Communist leadership. He appeals to the Social-Democratic leaders for a united front on this program. No wonder he is against the united front as built by the Communist Parties. Such united front is directed against capitalism, it does not build fortresses for capitalism. It comes to destroy them.

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