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Albert Glotzer

The Presidential Elections in Germany

(February 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 8 (Whole No. 104), 20 February 1932, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

All political parties in Germany are retrenching themselves for the general presidential election to be held in March. At present the nominations are taking place and the most important parliamentary drive in the history of German politics is under way.

Hindenburg has accepted the candidacy of a “coalition” drive to defeat Fascism. He will have the support of the social democracy, the Centrist party, the People’s Party, the Economic Party and the Democratic Party. In a word, the “democratic” forces are uniting on the basis of a defense and resistance against Fascism – and Communism. At the head of this drive stand the socialists. The object is to retain Hindenburg as the “iron man” to save the republic, and also to keep Bruning at the head of parliament.

The Fascists are orientating themselves for the drive. To them the elections do not close the question. They are confident that they can defeat this coalition even on the election field. The Nazi party and their counter-part, the Nationalist party, are grooming their ranks for a united stand against the “coalition”. The Fascists are now attempting to force through Hitler’s citizenship with the aim of legalizing his participation in politics and acting as a candidate for his party.

It. would be the greatest danger to the working class of Germany and the whole world, and particularly the international Communist movement, to believe that the Fascists will terminate their drive for power with the end of the elections. Quite the contrary. In the event of a defeat of Fascism at the election polls, they will begin instantly with a concerted drive for power through an armed coup.

At the moment of this writing, the detailed plans of the combined Fascist and Nationalist front are unknown. There is a certain uneasiness in the ranks of the democratic coalition because of this. They do not know how to resist the Fascist drive They fear the results of an election defeat of the Fascists because they understand that in such an event, Fascism will resort to an armed struggle against the government.

In this situation the role of the Communist party is of highest importance. Information from Germany demonstrates that the C.P.G. is now concentrating on the elections. Thaelmann is the party candidate for president. The party is now too, preparing for an intensive parliamentary campaign as a fight on two fronts: the fight against Fascism and against the Centre-social democratic coalition, stressing at the same time that the most important fight must be made against the Centre-social democratic coalition, and not the Fascists.

But the danger in the present situation lies in that the party sees no further than the elections. It is correct that the party should carry on the struggle gle on the election field. But that cannot be the final aim of the struggle. For the Communists it is more important to see further than just the parliamentary struggle. For us it must be clear that the elections can at best act as a certain barometer of the tendencies to the political situation.

However, to plan the campaign of the party without bearing in mind the situation as it will appear after the elections, the trend of the struggle in the event of a defeat or victory of Fascism, is to lose oneself in a purely parliamentary struggle. Such a situation would result in continued defeats of the party and victory for the black forces of reaction.

What should the party do now? It should prepare for the struggle that will follow the elections. The Opposition has pressed for a change of line on the part of the C.P.G. We have attempted to make the party realize that the situation in Germany is a revolutionary one, that it ought at present prepare its forces for an eventual armed struggle for power. The elections should serve as an indicator of the relation of forces and help in the preparation for the conflict. If the party is to successfully defeat Fascism and all the forces of reaction, it is necessary that it first change its analysis of the political situation, and reorientate itself accordingly. Concretely, this implies an acceptance on the part of the C.P.G. of the extreme danger of Fascism in Germany. The most important task confronting the party is the organization of the united front of all workers in the struggle against Fascism. But for this it is necessary that Thaelmann and Company first drop the theory that “the main danger is the social democracy”.

If the party does not at once change its orientation, the leadership of the C.P.G. together with the T.C.C.L., will be held responsible for the defeat of the German working class. It is they who are responsible for the failure of such a change today and for weakening the position of the workers which signifies, in effect, strengthening the position of Fascism.

The elections will decide nothing definitely. At best they may postpone for a short time the decisive struggle. Between Fascism and Communism only the armed struggle for power will decide the future. Supposing that the Centre-social democratic bloc should win the elections. It will at best give the working class more time to prepare itself for the final struggle. A victory of Fascism will push to the foreground the extreme acuteness of the situation, and force it to a head. In either case the election result will not change the perspective of struggle.

The party must foresee all the implications beforehand. The elections must serve it as a means of organizing its forces. The C.P.G. must begin to actually promote a genuine united front of the workers and their organizations. The perspective must be that of struggle – to defeat the Fascist front as the step toward the proletarian seizure of power.

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