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The rise of fascism in Weimer Germany and its role today

category international | anti-capitalism | opinion/analysis author Thursday September 25, 2008 21:04author by John Report this post to the editors

In a period of mass unemployment in 1920's Germany fascism came to power despite not only the presence of mass Communist and Social Democratic parties but also of significant anti-fascist street fighting. Why did the left fail and what was the attraction of fascism. What about fascist movements today, do they represent a similar threat? Can we even agree a single definition of what fascism is?
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This audio is a recording of a WSM branch meeting educational consisting of a 17 minute talk on the topic followed by about thirty minutes of discussion on these themes arising from the talk. It's an mp3 file and was recorded on the 24th September

Related Link: http://www.wsm.ie



Anarchist talk on the rise of fascism in Germany
audio Anarchist talk on the rise of fascism in Germany 18.82 Mb

author by Elatedpublication date Fri Sep 26, 2008 03:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In a nutshell, The Versaille Treaty which gave rise to almost unanimous anger of reaction right across all sections of the German People. This mass anger was initially manipulated and utilised by the Officers of the Freikorps against the Establishment reactionaries, Bolshevism being equated with Failure of the Russian Revolution to provide Bread and Peace. As the massive reparations bit in, the Weimar Republic gave rise to actual mass hunger and even famine, and was thus even more despised in time by almost all of the German People, especially by the Leadership of the Freikorps and the junior German Army Officer classes who smarted in wartime defeat. The word was passed that Bolshevism, like Capitalism, was Jewish, anti-semitism gained an almost universal acceptance (despite the fact that brave German Officers in the war had been Jewish !). Then everyone was seen as Jewish that possesed property, a comfortable house, good food and clothes amid hunger and cold. The intellectuals saw which way the wind was blowing and went straight over to the Nationalist camp, many for opportunist reasons. But there still remained a hard core Leftist armed revolutionary core that fought, sometimes both sides with artillery pieces in the streets. The Nationalists had the better propaganda and could keep pointing to a starving Bolshevik Russia as an example to the people where not to go - this was all important, and when joined together with the mass anti-semitism present, the fatal triangle of Jew-Bolshevik-Capitalist was closed. The moment that happened the Revolutionary Left completely lost all support from the working classes who transferred their allegiance to the Nationalists, now led by brilliant orators, of whom Adolf Hitler was emerging as one. Yet Berlin remained radical Leftist, though the Berlin Leftist Revolutionary forces were at their wits ends to survive - Goebbels was dispatched to "Red Berlin", and as Hitler later remarked: "This single appointment was the most important I ever made ! " Together with Gergor and Otto Strasser, Goebbels won over the Leftist Forces of Berlin to National Socialism - it is important to realize that most of the Berlin Revolutionary forces actually remained committed to Leftist Socialism through their early membership of the German National Socialist Party. Thus was the Left subsumed, rather than overcome in Northern Germany, while the Anti-Semites cracked the whip throughout Southern Germany. Some of these Northern German Leaders, especially Gregor and Otto Strasser were out-and-out revolutionaries, while Goebbels delighted in speech after speech in the Berlin Sportspalast in describing himself as "The Bandit of Red Berlin" ! to the roars of the Sormtroppers including most of the former leftist Stahlhelm. Basically with these stormtroppers you were dealing with outright anarchists who cared neither for Left or Right but followed whatever leader promised them the most booty and the greatest success. It was a long time, right up to the Night of the Long Knives before they were ever tamed into disciplined forces. By this time all that remained of the Left were its leading intellectuals who faced torture and death at the hands of their erstwhile followers. A few of the most principled faced the Inevitable, the rest settled down to a new life as Nazi Party functionaries, and sometimes they were the worst of all. You only have to look at Leni Raefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will" to see the early stage effects employed in mass exercises of every hypnotic effect in the book, not dissimilar from the effect of one of today's mass rock concerts. These masses beat with a single heart, thought with a single mind, and obeyed one single Will as their own - that of Adolf Hitler ! And that is why in the end it took almost the whole world to defeat them. National Socialism had become their very religion, in this way it was altogether different and more transending than ordinary Italian or Spanish Fascism.

That's my understanding of it all, and why the German Left failed - they hadn't a chance to begin with !!! In reality the German Left never failed, they, dealing in political principles, found themselves up against a primitive religion they couldn't understand so could not possibly deal with, they were never trained for such an astonishing encounter, nobody was in that era.

Personally I found the book "The Faces of the Third Reich" by Joachim C. Fest, to be the very best psychological explanation of it all.

author by Elatedpublication date Fri Sep 26, 2008 14:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As an aside from the main question here, I do not believe the usual story that Hitler was financed by German industrialists.

Hitler's main financier was none other than the future Pope Pius X11 :-)

When Hitler & Co were building up their fledging party in Munich from 1919 on, Pius X11 was the Cardinal Papal Nuncio to Germany, BASED IN MUNICH !

The Bolshevik Revolution in Russia was scaring the Vatican, the last thing they wanted was a Bolshevik Revolution in Germany !

And so it is the Catholic Church that financed the Nazi Party from the very start.

Pius XII was the co-creator of Nazism. He paid the funds to buy the Party's very first newspaper, Volkishe Beobachter. And not only did he finance Hitler on behalf of the Catholic Church, but he was a virulent Anti-Semite himself.

Later as Pope, he stayed up all night praying on his knees in the Sistine Chapel in Rome, as the Nazis launced their attack on the Soviet Union, praying for the success of German arms.

And finally, at the defeat, he ordered Vatican passports to be issued, to several hundred SS Officers fleeing the Allies, had them disguised as priests and whisked out of Italy and Europe through the Vatican.

The Church is paid well for that bit of business to this day, by the Church Tax on all German wages, negotiated between the Hitler German Government and their original bankroller, Pope Pius XII .

As I say, the German Left never stood a chance, because it did not know who or what hit it :-)

Hitler was a great man for keeping his mouth shut, his pal the Pope was even better :-)

author by Elatedpublication date Sat Sep 27, 2008 00:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Back in 1920 the German National Headquarters of the Nazi Party, callef The Brown House, was often all aglow after midnight at one end of the Munich Street, while the lights shone out from the Office of the Papal Nuncio, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, at the other end, messengers hurrying to and fro between the buildings as the Catholic Church spared no expense, on the direct orders of the Vatican, to help launch the Nationalistiche Socialistiche Deutsche Arbeiter Partei, the NSDAP, Hitler's new Nazi Party.

BTW, this is not a "view", this is history, this actually happened. Hitler was forever grateful to the Vatican afterwards, as is of course most evident from the facts of history.

But the Church has, as always, managed to hide the fact that it actually helped finance the launch of the Nazi Party in the years 1919 - 1923 in Germany.

It had its own Catholic Party, lead by Monsignor Kaas, in the Reichstag, but the Church saw the limitations of its own old conservative right-wing party in the matter of attracting the millions of KPD German Communist Party voters.

Eventually in 1933 the Catholic Party was ordered by the Vatican to vote Hitler into power in the Reichstag as Chancellor of Germany when the chance fell to him at last. . In turn, the Nazis subsumed the Catholic Party, outlawed the SPD and KPD, Goering as Reichstag Chairman telling their deputies when they rose to speak to shut up, brandishing a Luger !

On the direct orders of Hitler the Leader of the KPD, the German Communist Party, was given his own house, and treated with every courtesy, until he was freed at the end of the war - at Dachau Political Re-Enlightenment Camp south of Munich. Dachau was never actually used as a Death Camp, no Death Camp was allowed on German soil, for obvious reasons. Thousands upon thousands of KPD and SPD Leadership and Members spent a few months there, and after sufficient "Political Re-Enlightment , emerged to perform as useful members of the NSDAP., the Nationalist Socialist German Workers Party, as the Nazi Party was called. The Church Tax was, of course, passed unanimously in the Reichstag to the glee of a grateful Catholic Church, which to this day collects its blood money by law at source from the wages of every single German Worker, Hitler Law is still in action in the EU gaining the Catholic Church Billions, as Mussolini's Concordat still gains the Church throughout Italy. I regret if this fact upsets the sensibilities of any Catholics reading this, it's the history and it's still happening, that's all. A worker may today, of course, nominate any Church for the tax out of his wages to go to, you can't get out of it by pleading atheism, for then it's shared among them all !

author by Irish Communist in the DKP - German Communist Partypublication date Sun Sep 28, 2008 20:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"On the direct orders of Hitler the Leader of the KPD, the German Communist Party, was given his own house, and treated with every courtesy, until he was freed at the end of the war - at Dachau Political Re-Enlightenment Camp south of Munich"

"Ernst Thälmann (April 16, 1886 – August 18, 1944) was the leader of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) during much of the Weimar Republic. He was arrested by the Gestapo in 1933 and held in solitary confinement for eleven years, before being shot in Buchenwald on Adolf Hitler's orders in 1944. In 1936, the Thälmann Battalion of the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War was named in his honour."

This was taken from Wikipedia. It contains that actual facts concerning the KPD leader. The KPD was the only consistant organisation which fought against Fascism from the days of proto-Nazi organisations right up to the final days of the war. For that matter the current DKP which was founded 1968 is one of the few real anti-fascists in Germany today. I live in Germany in a city with alot of Neo-Nazis.

Its one thing to repeat anti-communist propaganda of poltical establishment as the Ultra-Left always does but its just pathetic to make up total lies. Get it together guys. Really low even for Left McCarthist filth that normally write on Inymedia!

author by elatedpublication date Mon Sep 29, 2008 04:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What you state is Hitler's View of the German Communist Party :-)

Of course he viewed it from his ultra-right wing reactionary conservative viewpoint.

In fact the KPD of Hitler's time was an almost centrist labour party such as the Irish Labour Party today, and the SPD, the Social Democrats, would get on fine with, say, today's Fine Gael, their successors in Germany today being pillars of the Euro-capitalist society.

In fact the KPD, by behaving like a Labour Party, left the entire left radical niche to be exploited by the Nazi Party, which subsumed whole blocks of it, and devoured the Berlin KPD - which then became the most fanatical (and dangerous) section of the SA. Nazi Stormtroppers.

The German Nazi Party was built up by Communists and Socialists in total revolt against the State, especially in Berlin !

From 1934 on the only internal resistance came from intellectuals such as The White Rose, and those such as Pastor Niemoller - as well as of course from the Nazi splinter Strasserites under Otto Strasser, working daringly underground, after his brother Gregor Strasser had been executed on the personal orders of Hitler during the Night of the Long Knives.

Ever since Nazis, then Neo-Nazis, refer to those they consider traitors as "Srasserites" .

Thalmann did live in a house with his own garden in Dachau, and was released after the war. His original KPD did not carry on because of the division of Germany. That's according to Joachim C. Fest (Professor) .

(I always point out that Wikipaedia can never be relied upon to be entirely accurate. Never depend on it exclusively, but it's good for a quick look-up to jog the memory) .

I think that the objective of this thread is to try to discover how the Left collapsed in Germany during the Weimar Republic rather than to apportion any blame on anybody, but to try to find out the mistakes made so that comrades will not make the same mistakes again.

BTW, In my opinion Ernst Thalmann was a fabulous man, but no match at all for Hitler. Basically Thalmann was a 9 to 5 parliamentary politician, Hitler was a fanatical 24/7 man. Thalmann was a civilized public speaker, as we know Hitler was a charismatic demagogue, the master of the soapbox and the street corner.

As an example, when the fledgling Nazi Party started, Hitler walked the streets of Munich delivering postcard invitations in letterboxes after he had sat up all night manually writing those meeting invitations out !

And, of course, Hitler had no social life, no family, no ties, no other interest whatsoever. He grew to mastermind the 1923 Munich Beer Hall Putsch, co-opting other nationalist and socialist parties without their knowledge or consent and even against their will - and then he acted the martyr in the role of Politicial Prisoner Number 1.

The others, like the KPD and SPD, were just like FG and Labour against him, they had no stomach for revolt, not even for full-time politics -

AND they failed to politicise the trade unions, a massive error on their part !

author by Irish Communist in the DKP - DKP publication date Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You state the Following

"In fact the KPD of Hitler's time was an almost centrist labour party such as the Irish Labour Party today, and the SPD, the Social Democrats, would get on fine with, say, today's Fine Gael, their successors in Germany today being pillars of the Euro-capitalist society.

In fact the KPD, by behaving like a Labour Party, left the entire left radical niche to be exploited by the Nazi Party, which subsumed whole blocks of it, and devoured the Berlin KPD - which then became the most fanatical (and dangerous) section of the SA. Nazi Stormtroppers."

False! The KPD, in this period if anything took ultra-left positions. And in any case the KPD and the SPD got the the largest share of the working class vote. In intrustrial area like the Ruhrpott and Hamburg which had very large working class populations overwhelmingly voted for the two parties.

You then state

"Ever since Nazis, then Neo-Nazis, refer to those they consider traitors as "Srasserites" .
Also False! Neo-Nazi's hail Gregor Strasser has a hero and favour him over Hilter. I live in Germany and am active on the left don't tell me how to suck eggs.

You then for a second time make accuse Thälmann of living in luxury in a house.
"Thalmann did live in a house with his own garden in Dachau, and was released after the war"

It makes me so angy!!!!! I have a number of books on Ernst Thälmann none of which confirm your statement that he lived in a house, or that he was detained at Dachau, or that he he was released after the war. As these books are in Germany here is another example from the web

"After the Reichstag Fire on 27th February, 1933, the Nazi Party launched a wave of violence against members of the German Communist Party and other left-wing opponents of the regime. This included Thalmann who was arrested and imprisoned on 3rd March 1933. Ernest Thalmann was executed in Buchenwald Concentration Camp on 18th August 1944."

That was taken from http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERthalmann.htm

"Ernst Thälmann spent over eleven years in solitary confinement. On 17 August 1944 he was transferred from Bautzen prison to the concentration camp Buchenwald, where on 18 August on Hitler's orders he was shot and his body immediately burned"

That was taken from http://www.germannotes.com/archive/article.php?products...d=876

I could go on in this vain. I would even quote further but I would have to translate from my German books. Which would frankly take up to much of my time.

However the Left is at fault for allowing the Nazi's win. This is true. The Comintern had for a short time a rather silly sectarian policy and used the idiotic slogan "Social fascists" to describe the Social Demcrats. The SPD regarded the KPD as "National Communists".

However the KPD and the Comintern did correct this policy and persued that "peoples front" line, in which the favoured anti-fascist political union with all those who opposed the Nazis. The SPD however refused to work the KPD as they where fighting for the same working class vote. The rest as they say is history

author by Elatedpublication date Mon Sep 29, 2008 14:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Adolf Hitler is a Traitor, I, Gregor Strasser demand his expulsion from the Party ! "

- Gregor Strasser, supported by his brother Otto Strasser and by Dr. Josef Goebbels, proposed publicly by Gergor, at a public meeting of the German Nazi Party throughout Northern Germany in 1934, of which Gregor St6rasser was Leader.

This was the greatest crisis Hitler ever faced.

Gregor Strasser paid for this with his life, his brother Otto had to go on the run, Goebbels was spared as essential by Hitler.

author by Etlatedpublication date Mon Sep 29, 2008 16:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

ALL political detainees without exception were held in Dachau Concentration Camp for Political Re-Enlightenment.

That included Ernst Thaelmann.

Most were released after about two months stay.

Thaelmann, who had secured more than 11 million votes against Hitler was considered far too popular to release.

That is how these special provisions were arranged for him, he was to be detained in that cottage inside Dachau for life, surrounded by his books, writings and a radio,

He sowed veg in his garden and raised chickens too.

After the war when he was liberated, he disappeared into ordinary civilian life, never taking part in politics again.

The KPD and the SPD made the mistake of depending completely on parliamentary and chancellery elections as the Reichstag became more and more irrelevant.

Hitler negotiated his way to power with the old President Hindenburg and Von Papen, as he derisively left the Reichstag iunder the control of Goering.

Only such left-wing armies such as the Stahlhelm and the Reichsbanner were left to face about two million SA Stormtroopers in the streets, without political direction thanks to the naeivity of the tired SPD and KPD whose deputies were being kidnapped and assasinated, and treated with such derision in the Reichstag that Goering was actually on the point of shooting them if they stood up to speak there !

He took his seat on the podium, placing his luger on his desk.

In fact the KPD and the SPD failed absolutely to give any extra-parliamentary leadership whatsoever in the streets that had now degenerated into outright civil war, in which the Stormtroopers revelled.

At the end all the opposition that was left was that of some few independent intellectuals who gave up public opposition to Nazism in despair, and disappeared off into underground movements such as the White Rose, and of course Otto Strasser's underground resistance.

Eventually he spend the war underground in Austria, and re-emerged in 1951 to form a new National Socialist Party in West Germany, that got nowhere.

It shows complete lack of understanding to state that today's strasserites "prefer Strasser to Hitler" , that comparison does not exist !

Any Strasserite still regards Hitler as a petit bourgeois traitor !

They are particularly strong in Austria stemming from Otto Strasser's old World War II Austrian Underground links there.

A couple of minor neo-nazi parties in Britain also adopted Strasserism, though they now espouse anti-Islam there today as their main public ideological weapon.

In this way they hope to outflank the UKIP and the Right-Wing Tories who are their main obstacle to electoral politics.

Your own Communist Party in Ireland and Britain is in the doldrums for years, you can't deny that, nor can you set yourself up as the main anti-Nazi force in Germany when you demonstrably were not !

All you did in the Rise of Nazism in Germany was to lead the German People down the blind alley of Reichstag politics and voting long after that Parliament had ceased to be anything but a harmless talking shop - meanwhile the massively outnumbered and out-gunned Stahlheim heroically died in their thousands on the streets of Red Berlin !

Just as Hitler had planned :-)

author by Elatedpublication date Mon Sep 29, 2008 17:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Otto Strasser was finally forced into exile, via Austria and Prague, to several parts of the world, finally to stay in Canada. After the war he was exonerated officially as a Nazi, but was not allowed to return to Germany until 1955, where he tried to resurrect his former Nazi Party splinter, The Black Front under a new title. He wrote, as a Journalist by profession, for many magazines about his revolt against Hitler and the Nazi, including in The New Statesman.

Here is a photo and telling quotes from his executed brother, Gregor Strasser:

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Gregor_Strasser

and here is the Wikipaedia article on Otto Strasser :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Strasser

Both show, in addition to hundreds of other sources, books, articles and pamphlets, that their opposition to Hitler and the right-wing of the Nazi Party was total and complete, Otto Strasser even going so far as to make common cause with the Soviet Union.

All of this is total heresy in any Nazi's opinion, Nazi then or Neo-Nazi now.

The Nazis are gone, and the Communist Parties are now gone after them. I know a card-carrying Communist in Cork who boasts openly in the pub that he is the only Communist Party member left in the whole of Cork !!!

In Dublin, perhaps a dozen, Belfast perhaps a half dozen, and throughout the rest of Ireland perhaps another half-dozen, still members purely out of nostalgia. With not a single new member in years, not one :-)

Isn't it about time that both Irish Communist Parties finally gave up their pretence of any existence at all, handed over their properties etc for sale to finance something useful for the progress of the Left in Ireland.

By their continual existence in the face of successes by modern Irish militants they are only adding to the extent of their own pain, and everybody else's too, as a sad anachronistic Joke.

Two of the Austrian far right parties have now secured one-third of the vote in Austria, and, yes, that could happen in Ireland if the Left is not organised instead of the splinter it is at present. The Depression !

author by Irish Communist DKP - DKPpublication date Tue Sep 30, 2008 10:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Elated

You state "ALL political detainees without exception were held in Dachau Concentration Camp for Political Re-Enlightenment."

This is WRONG!!!!!

My girlfriend's grandfather was a communist political prisioner and during the Nazi era and was never held at Dachua. And for the record he served far long than 11 months and did not have his own garden.

Ernst Thälmann like Communist most was held at Buchenwald concentration camp. This is the site where he was murdered. Thats a fact. Buchenwald was the place where most communist where held.

as for your comment

"The Nazis are gone, and the Communist Parties are now gone after them. I know a card-carrying Communist in Cork who boasts openly in the pub that he is the only Communist Party member left in the whole of Cork !!!

In Dublin, perhaps a dozen, Belfast perhaps a half dozen, and throughout the rest of Ireland perhaps another half-dozen, still members purely out of nostalgia. With not a single new member in years, not one :-)"

THIS IS TOTALLY WRONG! Firstly there is an active branch of the CPI in Cork city and most of the Dublin branch CPI are have joined in the last 5 years. Oh and I am a young man under 30 like all of the newer recuits. And the CPI is more and more active over the last few years.

The CPI is much stronger than anyone outside of the Labour Party within the Trade Union movement.

The CYM, the youth wing is one of the more active youth groups in Dublin.

In Britain outside of the Labour and SWP, the Communist Party of Britian is the single largest left wing paper and produces a daily newspaper "Morning Star".

As for casually linking Nazis and Communists again show pefectly why you chose to misleed people in to thinking that Thälmann had a cosy house on a prison camp. This is infantile anti-communism at its worst and as always contains 0% facts. Joe McCarthy will never die.

author by kein kommunistpublication date Tue Sep 30, 2008 11:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Irish Communist DKP seems to have refuted some historical howlers by Elated, whose garbled comments on German communist sacrifices in nazi times are misleading when not silly. Nevertheless it seems to me that quibbling about miniscule numbers of card-carrying communists in contemporary Ireland is a wasteful exercise in view of their irrelevance to electoral politics at both local and national level. The last time the CPI set the fear of the Lord (Lenin?) in FF and the Catholic church was in the 1930s when Michael O'Riordain (known in the rightist press as 'the red O'Riordain') stood for election in Cork and polled just over 3,000 votes. The Irish Workers Party (then a flag of convenience for the CPI) fielded a few candidates in Dublin constituencies during the 1960s and polled around 300-450 first preference votes. Non-communist leftwingers like Tony Gregory and Joe Higgins since the 1970s have been successful electorally where CPI candidates lost deposits. Not forgetting the distinguished and chequered careers of populist champions of the underdog like Frank Sherwin and Noel Browne.

I am curious to know why young people aged 30 and under today find value in membership of the DKP or the CPI in view of the events of 1989 and the collapse of state marxism as an economic project.

author by tomeilepublication date Tue Sep 30, 2008 14:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Further to the comment by Irish Communist DKP – DKP , don't forget that the Communist Party of Great Britain has a lively presence in Cork as well . The CPGB split from the CPB a few years back - or it might have been the other way around. Whichever way everything seems to work smoothly - the CPI doesn't seem to have any problem with the CPGB recruiting in Ireland .

author by ronanpublication date Thu Oct 02, 2008 00:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

to the best of my knowledge there is only one CPGB member in Cork who is also the only one in Ireland. I don't think they are actively recruiting although the individual in question is active in a number of progressive causes (not just slagging off the SWP).

author by Polpublication date Mon Oct 06, 2008 14:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hi There,
I was reading an interesting book on the growth of Christian fundamentalism in the USA (American Fascists by Chris Hedges), and on pages 198-199 I found the following interesting quote. It comes from an interview with Vice-President Henry Wallace in 1944. He responded to a question posed by the New York Times as to the possibility of American Fascism with the following:
"The really dangerous American Fascist... is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American Fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a Fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the Fascist and his group more money or more power.
They Claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjugation".
An interesting quote given current events in the USA.

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