From New International, Vol.5 No.5, May 1939, pp.147-148.
Translated from Juin 36.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
THE STALINISTS try to be, in every country of the world, the most chauvinistic party. It is their formula of internationalism. It began, of course, in Russia, where they celebrate as national heroes Prince Alexander Nevsky, saint of the Orthodox Church, the despot-czar Peter I, the famous general Suvarov, who won his victories against insurgent Poland and in his capacity as commander of the troops of feudal Europe against the French Republic. In France, the communist party has “rediscovered” the slogan of “France to the Frenchmen!” and preaches the veneration of all the national glories, “from Vercingetorix to the Son of the People [Thorez]”, Joan of Arc included. But what is still not widely known is the fact that the German Stalinists too make a chauvinistic propaganda and have the ambition to pass for better German nationalists than the Nazis. In the last number of the revue, Die Internationale, published by the Communist Party of Germany, we find, in an article by Hans Behrend on Twenty Years of the Communist Party of Germany and the Soviet Union, some truly edifying things. Hans Behrend defends the CPG against an accusation which he seems to consider particularly grave, the accusation of “internationalism”. He writes:
The CPG is a profoundly national party of the German people. It is reproached for its internationalism? It is proud to be the most advanced section of that Marxian labor movement which carried Germany’s name all over the world and brought millions of foreigners to learn the language of Marx and Engels, and to read and speak German; the Marxian movement which, by its social conquests, placed Germany in the first rank of the historical movement ... (Die Internationale, No.1-2, 1939, p.72.)
According to Behrend, the work of Marx had no other importance than that of getting better publicity for the sellers of German grammars. Let us thank our fate that Stalin, in spite of his eulogists, is not a second Marx, otherwise everybody would be constrained to learn to speak Russian with a Georgian accent ...
As a result of their nationalistic attitude, the German Stalinists reproach Hitler and his policy not for being directed against the interests of the workers of Germany and of the whole world, but because they do not correspond to the “national interests” of Germany.
The recent conference of the CPG in Berne adopted a resolution from which we quote the following passages (February 1939):
This policy of Hitlerite fascism does not serve the national interests of Germany but the interests of the big munitions merchants and the Nazi bureaucracy. It is in reality a betrayal of the true interests of the German people, for the attempt of the Nazi dictatorship and of the Axis to impose upon the peoples a fascist Versailles must inevitably fail in the same way as the Versailles dictated formerly to Germany, and can only lead to a terrible war without hope ...
In face of the crass policy of the Hitlerite regime which entails terrible consequences for the whole people, it is the task of the communists, of the anti-fascists and of all the Germans conscious of their responsibilities, to unmask the chauvinistic phrases of the Hitlerite regime, to demonstrate to the wide masses the anti-national character of this regime.
Note that the German Stalinists attack the bellicosity of Hitler because he is leading Germany into a war “without hope”, which means into a war without the hope of victory. A fine anti-fascism that combats the Hitlerite policy because it does not give enough assurance of a military victory for German imperialism in case of war! This attitude signifies that the CPG has in practise abandoned defeatism towards fascism; it is evident that in spite of all the declarations against Hitler and in spite of certain defeatist reminiscences to be found in the literature of the CPG, the Stalinists cannot fight consistently against ‘Hitlerism and its war policy if, in advance, they shed tears over a possible military defeat of German imperialism.
The present leader of the CPG, Wilhelm Pieck, grows indignant in an article on Twenty Years of Struggle of the CPG (in the same issue of Die Internationale): “the crime of these Pan-German war-mongers” who, in 1918, brought about the “collapse” of the German people and the “panicky capitulation of the General Staff to the enemy” (p.21).
The former Spartacist, Wilhelm Pieck, now regrets that imperial Germany lost the war! It is a striking example of the demoralization of the leading strata of Stalinism.
What then do the German Stalinists want? They demand the breaking off of the alliance that Hitler has concluded with Italy and Japan – not because it is an imperialist alliance but because the allies are not very reliable. Here is what the resolution of the CPG conference says:
The conference of the CPG in Berne declares that the policy of alliances with the war-mongers, with Mussolini and the Japanese militarists, is the greatest danger to peace and to the security of Germany, and that, for this reason, the national interests of Germany demand the liquidation of the war alliance with Rome and Tokyo. These allies of Hitler, who were the fiercest defenders of the Versailles Treaty, will attempt at the first opportunity that offers itself to betray and enthrall the German people as they are doing today with other peoples ...
Ah! if only one could rely on Mussolini and the Mikado!
As an alternative to the “Anti-Comintern” bloc, the German Stalinists offer to their imperialism an alliance with the USSR. Behrend writes in his already-quoted article:
The worst foreign foe could not act more injuriously against Germany than these Nazi leaders who brought Germany into antagonism with its great, natural and invincible ally in the East, and exchanged it for the alliance with certain rapacious governments who sit upon volcanoes in their own country.
As Germans we stand for the alliance with the Soviet Union.
The idea of an alliance with the Soviet power which the CPG proposes in sharpest contrast to the Hitlerite foreign policy, and which is independent of whether Germany is socialistically organized or capitalistically, is being shared more and more by all Germans who want to live in peace with the Soviet Union. (pp.73, 77)
Which means that the efforts of the German Stalinists are not directed against the imperialist policy of German fascism as such, but only against a certain orientation of this policy. The demand for an alliance with the Soviet Union, posed “independently” of the internal regime of Germany, that is, independent of the question of whether German fascism remains in power or not, can have no other meaning than that of a promise to support the foreign policy of German imperialism if it comes to an agreement with Stalin. Naturally, the Soviet Union cannot be prohibited from trying to find grounds for an understanding with the fascist countries in order to avert war, but what is absolutely inadmissible is not to say to the German workers that the policy of Hitlerism would remain an imperialist and war-mongering policy even in case of an agreement with the Soviet Union; it is absolutely inadmissible and criminal to treat the struggle of the German workers as a function of the diplomatic needs of the USSR.
It will be hard to find examples of such abject demagoguery as is offered by the Stalinist International which, in all capitalist countries, plays the card of chauvinism, which, in the service of the foreign policy of Stalin, eggs on, by its nationalistic propaganda, the workers of one country against those of another, which, in the long run, can only profit the imperialists who are preparing the war.
To conclude on the German Stalinists, let us still quote from an article by Pieck (Volkszeitung, Feb. 5, 1939), in which he speaks of the program that the CPG proposes for the democratic republic that it wants to create after the fall of Hitler. Our readers know that for some time the German Stalinists have stopped demanding the workers’ power, but only a democratic republic, “of a new type”, modelled after Spain, that is, after the Stalino-police dictatorship of Negrin. Pieck writes in this article:
It goes without saying that the democratic republic must guarantee the military force [Wehrhaftigkeit] of the country, by the creation of a genuine popular army as well as by its good equipment. But for that, the war industry must be in the hands of the state and not in the hands of a small stratum of profiteers and war-mongers.
The generals of the Reichswehr may rest easy. Their posts will not be lost to them. As for the nationalization of the armaments industry, it changes nothing in the capitalist character of the bourgeois republic and besides, a considerable part of that industry already belongs to the state under the Hitlerite regime.
But the German Stalinists will not find many dupes among the militants of the illegal anti-fascist movement in Germany. Even those workers who still consider themselves members of the CPG will not allow themselves to be poisoned by Stalinist neo-nationalism, which only serves Hitlerite chauvinism. For it is long since most of the illegal militants of the CPG in Germany have stopped following the slogans coming from the leaders of the Communist International.
PARIS, March 24, 1939
Last updated on 8.8.2006