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Susan Green

20 Years of European Fascism

The Collapse of Germany and Italy

(14 May 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 20, 14 May 1945, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In November 1942, the Nazi-fascist regime held sway over Europe, from the Arctic across the Mediterranean into Africa and from the Atlantic to the steppes of Russia.

Hitler and his pals, with Mussolini in the role of inflated errand boy, acted as though their power were as eternal as the seasons. They had military control of a vast empire. The economic assets of the Nazis had been multiplied to include the industries, mines, oil wells and transportation of all industrial Europe. The invaders squeezed all the produce out of the fertile lands. They enslaved the best manpower of Europe to produce in their factories. To convince themselves of their fictitious superiority, with machine-like unconcern for human values, they exterminated millions of Jews, Poles and other unfortunate people. To prepare themselves for future mastery of the world, they robbed Europe of its wealth.

The threat of world fascism was then as real as the map of Europe could make it. But that threat was not realized. Today, two and a half years from the acme of its power, the nazi-fascist regime lies defeated and shattered. First to collapse was the weaker Mussolini regime. Then steadily Hitler’s “New Order” retreated and finally fell apart – in complete disorder.

Reasons for Fascist Collapse

There are three important elements that contributed to the defeat of the nazi-fascist regime in Europe. Each one must be given its due.

The military and economic might of England, Russia and the United States surpassed that of Germany, Italy and Hitler’s newly acquired European empire. It must never be forgotten that World War II is a contest between two groups of imperialists. It was one thing for Hitler to suppress the German labor movement in blood, but when he made his military bid for a greater share of the earth, he ran into the military opposition of imperialists with other plans. The combined manpower, resources, material and military talents of , the Allied powers proved more than a match for the “New Order” – and, of course, Allied might stood entrenched in the almost miraculous productivity of American labor.

The nazi-fascist regime ran into another force of considerable strength – the will of the European peoples to rebel against enslavement by a foreign invader. We do not want to exaggerate, but it should be remembered that never before in the history of mankind have such extensive underground movements been organized nor against such powerful odds, Not only did the liberation movements hamper and harass, the Germans, not only did they give invaluable aid to the Allied forces, but they fought guerrilla. warfare and formed partisan armies.

The French themselves helped to drive the Nazis out of Paris; the Poles fought heroically in Warsaw, only to be betrayed by the Russians; the Italians helped drive the Germans out of Milan; the Czechs fought the remnants of Hitler’s army in Prague.

When the Allied Military Command takes over in Europe, its primary concern is to disarm the liberation movements that struggled so valiantly. But the Allies give government jobs to fascists and collaborators. This is how Allied imperialism rewards the people’s movements which undermined the nazi-fascist regime. This happens because the Allied rulers fear the people.

The third factor contributing to the collapse of the “New Order” is in the German nation itself. While there was no widespread or important underground movement in Germany, because of the thoroughness of the Nazi terror in the homeland, there was some sabotage and opposition expressed in the many ways that the masses know so well. Most important about Germany was the cold passivity of the people. Only Allied policy, threats to exterminate the German nation and the call for German slaves, kept an explosion from taking place. The enthusiasm in Germany came primarily from indoctrinated youth and fanatical S.S. men. There was no mass enthusiasm for the war.

The complete disintegration of the German army and home front, toppling like a house of cards, showed that the Nazis had neither the strength of a firm mass foundation nor of sturdy walls. If the Allied powers had recognized this, had promised the German people that they would not be punished for the crimes of their rulers, had encouraged the German masses to overthrow the Hitler regime, the end would have come much sooner. But that would be encouraging revolution – something imperialists fear greatly.

However, the end has come. The nazi-fascist regime is kaput. Hitler, Mussolini and their nazi-fascist lieutenants are either dead, in hiding or in flight from the anger of the world.

Struggle Still Ahead

Yet the masses of the world cannot yield to wild and unreasoning rejoicing. While the regimes of Hitler and Mussolini have fallen apart, the threat of fascism still remains.

It remains in the fascists and nazis still at large. It remains, in the policy of the Allied Military Command to place fascists in government posts in European countries. It remains in the Franco regime, in organized fascist groups in Mexico, in Argentina, in the Cliveden Set of England, in the Coughlins of this country.

The threat of fascism remains because the capitalist system remains. We must never forget that German nazism was the political arm of German capitalism, adopted by it to save itself from the rising working class.

We must always remember that American and British capital helped Hitler cement his power against the German working class and turned against him only when he began to poach on their own imperialist precincts.

We must ever bear in mind that Churchill, as a capitalist statesman, praised Mussolini as a labor-suppressing dictator; and that this same Churchill fervently hoped that, if British capitalism should reach the crisis that German capitalism found itself in, there might arise a British Hitler to do the same dirty work.

That world capitalism in the post-war period will find itself in severe crises, one following on the heels of another, there is no doubt. That there will be many like Churchill ready to. adopt the Hitler solution, is also beyond doubt. Therefore, the collapse of the nazi-fascist regime in Europe may well be another case of “The King is dead – long live the King.” This is a sobering realization. The issue before the working peoples of the world is still fascism or socialism. Capitalism, in its era of desperate contradictions and crises, will increasingly consider democracy and the rights of labor unprofitable luxuries, and will seek to bolster itself through one form or another of fascist dictatorship.

Militant labor should celebrate the fall of the Hitler and Mussolini regimes with a resolution to prevent the reconstitution of fascist forces and the establishment of other fascist regimes. And this labor can do by undertaking the struggle against capitalism itself, with the positive aim of establishing workers’ governments and socialism – in our time!

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Last updated: 17 February 2016