Ernst Meyer


The German Crisis

(25 August 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 72, 25 August 1922, pp. 540–541.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2020). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

When the delegates of the Communist International at the Berlin Conference, February 1922, demanded the revision of the Treaty of Versailles, ex-minister Mr. Vandervelde opposed the motion in the name of the Second International, on the ground that a revision would benefit Mr Stinnes. It is then Mr. Vandervelde’s opinion that the policy of the Entente imposes a lighter burden upon the German workers than upon the German industrial barons. In the meanwhile the policy favored by Vandervelde is bearing its fruits. The economic and political influence of Stinnes is growing, and the German proletariat sinks deeper into misery. The worker must bear all the burdens which the Entente forces upon Germany, while the capitalists have been able to coin profits even out of the payments to the Entente. announcement of new repressive measures against Germany by France also turns to an immediate blow against the working class. To the speculator, the fall of the mark means new gains, the manufacturer meets the depreciation by raising the prices of his goods and increasing his exports; but the depreciation of the mark and the resultant increased cost of living brings the workers into a most difficult economic and political situation. The reprisals of France feed Germany’s growing nationalistic hatred, and prevents the workers from concentrating their efforts upon the class struggle.

The rising cost of living menaces the very existence of the workers; the depreciation of the money is equivalent to a lowering of his wages. One has little idea in foreign countries of the misery of the German proletariat. When his wages equal but a few cents per hour, the German worker can exist only by frequent and long hours of overtime, and with the aid of his wife who also goes to the factory. Undernourishment is a very frequent occurrence, and all the diseases of malnutrition, including scurvy, rage in the country. Home work is more and more coming into existence. It sometimes exceeds twenty hours, and young children, under six years of age, often take part in it. The new increases in prices place the worker in an even more desperate situation; desperate acts by the starving population, such as looting of stores and markets, are to be expected.

The Social Democratic workers’ organizations, which support fully the policy of the government, do not undertake the least action to prepare the fight of the proletariat against the new dangers which menace it. They are satisfied with pitiful appeals to a government in which they are represented, appeals, which of course bring no betterment of the situation. They are afraid to force any serious measures of relief, such as the seizure of gold and property, which might alienate their bourgeois allies. And they denounce the more loudly the Communists, the only section of the proletariat ready and willing to begin the fight. True, their denunciations find hardly an echo in the masses; in many places the united front effected by the Rathenau episode was not fully destroyed. But the sabotage of the leadership of the Social Democratic parties and the trade unions greatly hampers any effective fight out of the present situation. The Communist Party, therefore, has increased its propaganda in the factories and in the unions. It intensifies the work of its fractions in shop and union, and takes advantage of every opportunity to organize the masses in the struggle against the increasing oppression and misery.

The coalition government remains totally passive in the face of the social dangers of its reparations policy. It does not seek to alleviate the sufferings of the workers. It has agreed to the financial control of the Entente, to prevent any serious taxation of capital. It raises the charges and taxes on all public utilities, especially the railways, when they know that it is the consumer who will have to bear the burden. It agrees, at the demand of the Allies, to reduce all expenses for social and educational purposes to balance the budget. The demands of the Entente are taken advantage of to refuse all aid to the starving working population of Germany.

But the government is always ready, by violence if necessary, to defeat the attempts of the workers to improve their conditions. Wherever the agricultural workers in Germany went on strike, the government sent its “Technical Relief Unit” as strike-breakers; wherever the workers rise to demand an increase of wages, the government uses its “mediative influence” to effect a compromise in the interests of the employers. Anti-social laws are being proposed to reduce the number of economic conflicts, and to facilitate the use of all repressive measures by police, court and soldiery. The suspension of the Rote Fahne, the central organ of the Communist Party of Germany, hinders further the fight of the proletariat against the rising cost of living.

Not only does the government support the economic reaction, it also capitulates before the political reaction. The federal government retreats, step by step, before Orgesch-Bavaria. The three weeks suspension of the Rote Fahne, is one of the crassest examples of the government’s cowardice. At the same moment when the bourgeois parties of Bavaria refuse to accept the. proposals of the Federal Government, which amounts to a capitulation of the latter before the Bavarian rebellion, the Social Democratic Minister, Severing, at the demand of the same Bavaria, suppresses the Rote Fahne because it characterized the action of the Bavarian government as high-treason. The intensification of the class-struggle, the audacity of the political and economic reaction, the preparation of the workers for the coming war against oppression, in spite of the hindrances of the Social Democrats, these are the most significant occurrences in present Germany. The government is losing its influence; it can exist only with the support of the counter-revolutionary forces, and the entrance of he Stinnes Party into the coalition is not so very distant. And the secession movement, nurtured by certain capitalist groups is assuming ever greater proportions. The policy of the governing parties in Bavaria tends towards a secession from the state and a union with German Austria under French control. The capitalists of the Ruhr Valley seek to enter into agreement with the French heavy industrial capitalists for a common exploitation of the region, and the protection against any taxation by the German government. The repeated refusal of the Federal Government to agree to the allied demands only serves to strengthen the nationalistic propaganda; and so does the subsequent submission. The policy of fulfillment does not improve the relations between Germany and the Entente, and endangers the economic development of Germany. While the fall of the mark at first benefited German industry by augmenting exports, the time is coming when the restriction of the home market due to the ever decreasing buying capacity of the German worker’s wages, and the ever increasing export of goods, will bring about a formidable crisis, accompanied by unemployment on a large scale. The incapacity of the bourgeoisie to overcome the after-effects of the war; the politico-economic conflicts which arise every time the Entente tries to enforce the Versailles Treaty; the increased misery of the masses in all capitalist countries of Europe, especially in Germany – all this is undermining the very foundations of the capitalist system. The Communist Party of Germany possesses the will and the power to organize the rising discontent, and lead the working masses against the present anarchy.

Last updated on 5 May 2020