Felix Morrow

Marc Dauber

Born October 24, 1922 – Killed in Action November 18, 1944

(14 April 1945)

Source: The Militant, Vol. IX No. 15, 14 April 1945, pp. 3.
Transcription/Editing/HTML Markup: 2018 by Einde O’Callaghan.
Copyleft: Felix Morrow Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2018. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.

Readers of Fourth International in 1941 and 1942 knew him under the pen name of James Cadman, our outstanding writer on military questions. In 1941 he was 19 years old! Yet this boy wrote on modern warfare with a mature, analytical mind, the mind of a trained Marxist. He had joined the Socialist Workers Party at 17 and thereafter lived for the movement with that intense, single-minded concentration which is the power of selfless, idealistic youth.

His father, who was a frontline soldier throughout the last war in the German army, writes to us:

“When I brought my boy at four years of age to this country, I thought I brought him to a ‘Shangri-la’ remote from all the hates and rivalries and war of Europe ...

“Marc was our only child and had no brothers except those whose bloody lot he chose to share ...

“He was a quiet and lonely boy at Brooklyn College and when he became befriended with you he felt he found comradeship in his life, as he found it out there on the front. He always spoke about his friends while at home, just as he remembered you as his friends out there to his bitter end. I want you to know he was happy among you and whoever in his life gave him moments of happiness may count on me ...”

After 18 months in the Camouflage Engineers, Marc was transferred to the 16th Infantry Regiment of the First Division on the eve of D-Day. Wounded on the Normandy beach, he recovered. But soon he was back at the front.

Marc’s Outlook

In his very last letter, written three days before his death to a non-party girl friend, Marc explains his revolutionary outlook:

“I did what the ‘Old Man’ (Trotsky) would have expected from me. What he expected of his students and followers: total and uncompromising, but not unquestioning, acceptance of his creed and an unflinching determination to see it realized regardless of personal well-being. Trotsky died for it, millions have, in the past and today, in Russia, in Spain; in concentration camps and prisons everywhere, millions more suffer because these ideas haven’t materialized internationally. When I took up his banner, I took upon myself responsibilities, commitments which countenance no retreats or hesitations.

“The successful completion of our task will require the unbending efforts of hardened cadres who can confront and undergo the most extreme physical and social exigencies ...

Does this seem to you to be a very harsh, monastic creed akin to asceticism? Not at all; it allows for richer, more vibrant and poignant emotional expression, is more pregnant with thinking and feeling than any other course of life which anyone can counterpose.”

Prepared for Struggle

And in another letter to her he writes:

“You’ve just turned 20, haven’t you ? I was just 22 the other day, not much of a difference, just two years. In my own life, though, these last two years have marked almost a qualitative growth in my entire outlook – how could I help but grow? It took a war to tear me from the classroom; maybe it’s better thus – the events of the future, the rumblings and tremors of which can be felt in every chancellery, will not be decided in the schoolroom but in the streets and on the barricades. I think I’m amply prepared for that now in every sense.”

Yes, Marc understood this thing: that only those who share the tragedy of their generation will be morally qualified and accepted as leaders in the coming battles for a socialist world.

The war tore our Marc from his classroom – him and legions like him, and steeled and tempered them in battle. The tragedy of Marc’s death is that it was not given to him to come back to fight in the class battles in which he would have been, so eager a volunteer and not a conscript. It is impossible for me to write the easy phrase that others will take Marc’s place. They will not, we shall go forward with his place in the ranks empty. He is gone forever, this amazing boy who, at an age when most youngsters are having trouble writing a high-school theme, was writing and thinking like a mature Marxist.

It is astonishing to go back and read his four Fourth International articles analyzing the dynamics of the war, and to see how few mistakes he made. The fifth and last full-length article that he wrote – how few he had time to do! – was on Geopolitics: An Imperialist Myth, and there he showed it wasn’t simply a freakish maturity in military science on his part, but that he had the capacities of a rounded Marxist thinker.

His Unfinished Work

He was almost as much at home in German as in English. It was he who, carefully following the German officers’ organ, Wehrmacht, discovered in it – this must have been in 1941 – an item complaining that Italian prisoners-of-war were singing Bandiera Rossa, one of the very first important bits of evidence of what was to come in Italy. Marc’s discovery, first published in The Militant, was reprinted by revolutionary and labor papers throughout the world.

Such are the few pieces of work which this boy-comrade had a chance to do, indubitable evidence of the bigger things he would have done had he been spared.

In the American Army, and in all the other armies, there are many other Marcs, of different talents, but richly endowed. They are sharing the tragedy of their generation with millions of others who are not yet our comrades but to whom they are linked with unbreakable bonds and who will help them learn the way out of this world of icy mud and deadly fire.

It was not given to Marc Dauber to use his ample preparation. But he knew that only with that preparation could the great task be done. That preparation is deep in the bones and minds of the other Marcs who survive to do what Marc, wanted to do.


Last updated on: 7 November 2018