Willi Münzenberg

Capitalist Class Justice Triumphs: Sacco and Vanzetti Murdered!

(August 1927)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 7 No. 50, 25 August 1927, pp. 1113-1114.
Transcribed & marked up by Zdravko Saveski for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2021). 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.

"This is the very top, the height, the crest, or crest unto the crest, of murder's arms: this is the bloodiest shame, the wildest savagery, the vilest stroke, that ever wall-eyed wrath or staring rage presented to the tears' of soft remorse.
All murders past do stand excused in this: and this, so sole and unmatchable, shall give a holiness, a purity, to the yet unbegotten sin of times; and prove a deadly bloodshed but a jest, exampled by this heinous spectacle."
Shakespeare's "King John".

Class justice triumphs! In spite of a mass protest and an outcry of a hundred million as has seldom been raised in the last few years, in spite of the representations and remonstrances of numerous and eminent pacifists - scholars, scientists and men and women of international repute - the American bourgeoisie, in the night from 22nd to 23rd August, executed the two Italian revolutionaries Sacco and Vanzetti!

In the fight, which lasted for seven years and which in the last few weeks aroused the whole public, the brutal, barbarous American imperialism has been victorious. We communists, in the course of the fight and the action to rescue the two innocent murdered proletarian revolutionaries, have never permitted any doubt that it was not a question of Sacco and Vanzetti as individuals, but of the great fight between the proletarian revolution and the iron-clad American and international imperialism.

In the last decades, especially in the years since the war, international imperialism has, both legally and illegally, condemned, executed and murdered thousands and thousands of workers. What, however, distinguishes the case of Sacco and Vanzetti from all other murders of revolutionary proletarians, is the monstrous bestiality, the almost sadistic barbarity with which the bourgeoisie of the United States dragged the two workers to the electric chair.

Seven years ago Sacco and Vanzetti were condemned to death, and during this unendingly long time they were repeatedly dragged from the prison cell to the condemned cell, in order, at the last moment and after having experienced all the mental agony of an immediate execution, to be conveyed back to the prison cell; and this only in order, after a few weeks or months, to have to go through the same cruel business again, and then, in the night from 22nd to 23rd August - perhaps with the faint hope, remembering their former experiences, of being saved yet once again - to die. All the horrors of medieval torture pale before this atrocious bestiality, which could only emanate from the sick brains of insane criminals.

Sacco and Vanzetti have been executed, murdered. By their execution the imperialists of the United States give a blow in the face to the international working class and all sections and circles inclining to them, who for weeks past, in all countries and cities of the earth, demanded the release of the condemned. The murder of Sacco and Vanzetti is a demonstration of United States imperialism, which in the last few months demonstrated its power and military force by bombarding unfortified towns in Nicaragua and whose warships took part in the bombardment and destruction of Chinese towns and villages.

The murder of Sacco and Vanzetti is a fresh and the most provocative challenge to the American and the international proletariat. The murder of the two proletarian revolutionaries was possible because the bourgeoisie of the United States had placed itself determinedly and with all its power behind the cowardly murderers, in order, through the two murdered victims, to strike at the revolutionary labour movement of America.

With the murder of Sacco and Vanzetti the bourgeoisie of the United States has remained true to its "democratic" traditions. Like the five gallows in the prisons of Chicago on which, in the year 1886, the victims of the Pinkerton provocateurs were strangled, the electric chair in Boston today reveals the true countenance and the real content of the bourgeois democracy of the capitalist world. With this murder the bourgeoisie of the United States has shown in the most striking manner to the working class of the whole world, that in capitalist society there exist neither justice nor law, but only a naked, brutal and barbarous class law and class justice.

In former times the bourgeoisie had some sense of shame, and attempted to hide and conceal the arbitrary justice. Today, with the sharpening of class antagonisms and of the class struggle, it allows even the last flimsy veil to fall, and shows that for it the police, the judges and law courts are only obedient tools of its blindly raging hatred against the proletariat and against the revolutionary working class.

Like the cowardly and vile murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, like the murder of thousands of workers, so this bestial slaughter of the two workers in Boston will let loose the most profound indignation of millions of workers and peasants. This cowardly, bestial murder must not and will not be forgiven the American and international bourgeoisie. If the bourgeoisie of the United States believes that it can thereby weaken and intimidate the revolutionary class struggle of the proletariat, it will find itself mistaken. The indignation, the fury at this cowardly murder will lead millions of workers to the revolutionary front, and hundreds of thousands will spring to fill up the gap created by the murder of Sacco and Vanzetti.

The attitude of the reformist parties and trade unions in the fight conducted by millions in order to prevent the murder has been shameful. The International Trade Union Congress in Paris did nothing and did not even raise a finger in order to save the lives of the two condemned workers. The II. International, this despicable body of bankrupt social democratic ex-Ministers, was more deeply moved over the fate of Oudegeest at the Paris Congress than over the fate of the two revolutionary workers awaiting execution. The demand of the American Defence Committee for Sacco and Vanzetti that an international general strike be called in order to save the lives of the two workers, was printed in the social democratic "Vorwarts" of Berlin, this model paper of a degenerate and corrupt reptile press, under the cynical heading: "A Belated Proposal", instead of the editors blushing with shame at the fact that the representatives of the Social Democratic Party at the Paris Congress and their functionaries in the trade unions had not brought forward this proposal as a matter of course, and at least approved the proposals of the revolutionary organisations and workers' groups in Germany when the latter demanded the organisation of a protest strike.

The bourgeoisie of the United States wished to murder Sacco and Vanzetti as a demonstration in the great class struggle against the proletariat. The fact that they were able to carry out this intention is greatly due to the shameful and cowardly behaviour of the reformist and social democratic trade union and party cliques in the United States and in other countries.

Sacco and Vanzetti have died for the revolutionary class struggle and for the revolution. Their death must be a fresh stimulus to extend and to intensify the revolutionary fight against the bourgeoisie of all countries, as well as against all reformist agents and lackeys of the bourgeoisie.

The death of Sacco and Vanzetti will spur us on to increase a hundredfold our efforts in the proletarian class struggle, and not to rest until the capitalist condemned cells are stormed and the proletarian revolution is realised.

Last updated on 29 April 2023