March 9, 2002; revised September 3, 2002;
second draft September 22, 2002
Edited May 8 2005
We communists often say that there has been no successful revolution in an advanced capitalist country--especially in contrast with the semi-imperialist countries and Third World. I myself have said this, but it is not quite true, because we should not forget the example of Nazi Germany and subsequent Soviet occupation. While the Spanish revolutionaries lost their battle in the 1930s and the French rebellion in 1968 petered out in a petty-bourgeois way, Nazi Germany did fall in 1945.
With historical archive documents released and with the "contributions" of various bourgeois writers, I have to confess that it was a most reactionary writer named Norman Naimark, who helped me to see the light on Germany--namely that what happened after 1945 mattered greatly to communist history. History teaching on Germany focuses on World War I, the Depression of the 1930s, the rise to power of Hitler and then the horrors of World War II. Within all that, endless and obsessive attention of intellectuals and Marxists goes to the relationship of communists and social-democrats in the 1930s. All of this is quite understandable and not undesirable, but as scientists we must go the extra step and look at the German people after World War II, and this is something Naimark focused on.
The German people after World War II are a rare test case of many theories. The two most important theses concerned are 1) the "re-proletarianization" thesis, that after economic and wartime devastation the people become receptive to communism in advanced capitalist society and 2) the advance to socialism in an imperialist country.
Rather than dreaming about how "correct" proletarian leadership could have led a French petty-bourgeoisie that did not want to be led in 1968, we communists in major imperialist countries should spend more time thinking about Nazi Germany. This is a jarring thing to say, given the history of the communist movement in the imperialist countries so far, because in the case of France in 1968, we are talking about a people willingly flirting with revolution. In Nazi Germany, we are talking about a population which had change forced from the outside, by the Soviet Red Army.
In the ideal world, of course revolutions would happen as in Paris in 1968, but the flirting would consummate with proletarian state power or at least a war for such. In the year 2002, it would be irresponsible, unscientific and chauvinist for the imperialist country comrades to deny that it did not happen that way in the 20th century. This fact deserves close attention. Those who know the first thing about how MIM is trying to reorient the international communist movement already know that MIM sums up imperialist history as being centrally shaped by the formation of an overwhelming labor aristocracy majority in the imperialist countries. This new fact of the developing class structure is what determined that the greatest transformations of imperialist countries in the 20th century happened after occupation in World War II by foreign powers.
The biggest changes in imperialist countries of the 20th century occurred under "foreign" bayonet. In fact, the U.S. occupation forces in Japan brought about land reform and changes in the mode of production more significant than all the failed revolutions and trade union "struggles" of the imperialist country populations combined. What happened in so-called "East Germany" was even more significant.
This is not to say that "East Germany" ever achieved socialism. As always, MIM remains in considerable doubt on that point. However, relative to the achievements of the proletarian movement in imperialist countries elsewhere, achievements in East Germany stand as a shining example. When it comes to science, what is important is not what people could have imagined or wished for, but what was actually accomplished. For a realistic sense of what a proletarian movement can do in an imperialist country, there is no better example than East Germany from 1945 to 1953, when Stalin died.
Germany as an "exception"
There is a sense in which it was precisely how Germany went "overboard" with the most reactionary side of imperialism that made subsequent change in Germany possible. We communists have defined fascism as the system of open political dictatorship by the bourgeoisie implemented by the most reactionary, chauvinist and militarist sections of finance capital.
Obviously it is not my intention to advise imperialist countries to take up fascism in the hopes that subsequent world wars will lead to defeat and change. Among other things, advances in weaponry make it possible that the next such all-out inter-imperialist war could be the last of the species. Ignorant and unscientific people often accuse communists of plotting things like world war, when quite the contrary is true: without any communist lifting a finger, the imperialists are quite capable of vast acts of self-destruction. The repressive agents of bourgeois rule want to blame us for a "philosophy of violence," because Mao said "political power flows out of the barrel of a gun," while their U.S. government actually implements violence of so many kinds unprecedented in history. However, Germany proves yet again that the capitalist system naturally falls into massive violence that is senseless from the viewpoint of the international proletariat. That violence eventually provides political opportunities unintended by the imperialists such as Hitler.
Something that we need to understand as part of having a grip on reality is that the united $tates today has more in common with Hitler Germany than it does not. To be fair, the united $tates does not occupy other imperialist countries by force, the way Germany occupied France during World War II. On the other hand, U.$. support for various fascist military regimes in the Third World and U.$. sanctions, both military and economic, on other countries make the implementation of genocide a practice more typical of the united $tates than Hitler Germany, which had a different strategy and lesser capacity to carry out its intentions.
Wherever a political problem is to be found, the default U.$. solution is genocide and that is how it has been since the theft of land from the First Nation peoples of North America. If the U.$. military has a political problem in that it cannot locate Al-Qaeda exactly, the imperialist solution is to bomb thousands of Afghans to death. If the United $tates wants cheap oil and friendly relations with any rulers who want to assure that, then it reasons chauvinistically that it becomes necessary to support the death of Palestinians at the hands of I$raelis. Recently U.S. documents have also come out detailing conscious U.S. government policies killing millions of people in Vietnam and East Timor.
Not a few labor aristocrats within the united $tates are even uncomfortable that Uncle Sam is the global police. On the other hand, there is a strong presumption that u.$. law should prevail everywhere and that small country rulers ranging from Milosevic to Noriega ultimately should answer to u.$.-style law. In all of this presumption of U.$. superiority and the genocide solution for political problems, u.$. imperialism presents the same fundamental phenomenon as Hitler Germany. In the most important ideological regards and in the most important respects when it comes to the survival rights of the international proletariat, Hitler Germany is no exception: the united $tates today is a country whipped up into a genocidal frenzy. The targets may not be the Jews or neighboring imperialist countries, but the basic attitude toward the rest of the world is similar.
Far from being an "exception," as the imperialists want us to think so we do not draw any conclusions about Hitler's overthrow, Germany in 1945 is really the only concrete experience we have to go on in the imperialist countries. The following sections are about the "glimmer of self-recognition" communists should have in the imperialist countries when looking a the Germans of 1945 in the Soviet zone of occupation.
II. Glimmers of self-recognition
1. Self-criticism and transformation
2. The problem with counting on spineless social-democrats even after Hitler came to power
3. Failure of widespread opposition to Hitler
4. Not enough German communists to run things even with Soviet Red Army support
6. Land claims
1. Self-criticism and transformation
For an entire oppressor population to survive in this day and age requires a certain level of self-criticism and transformation. Many Germans have come to grips with the wrongs of Hitler. Today we have to think of Amerikkkans in the same light, if Amerikkkans are to survive.
One of the things MIM is stressing in its work today is that there is a certain minimum level of self-criticism and transformation that the imperialist country populations require to advance beyond the sewer-hole system we are in now. Toning down the rhetoric so that Amerikkkans do not have to come to grips with the millions killed in Vietnam, the quarter of the population wiped out in East Timor, the million killed in Iraq etc. is just not appropriate for the political stage we are in. It is the "right opportunists" or outright bourgeois forces calling for us to "tone it down" as if this stage of the struggle could somehow be avoided. Specifically MIM has labeled the aim of the current stage of struggle in the imperialist countries the "re-civilizing" stage.
Practically speaking, it will be impossible to mount a victorious anti-militarist movement before imperialist country people get over the political hurdle of thinking of their own lives as more valuable than those of Third World people. This is the great strategic hurdle that we communists face, our weakness so to speak in the current international situation, a weakness that cannot be wished away. How many times we have been advised simply to re-label an exploiter and oppressor majority something it is not--a proletariat. More importantly, how many times people have done that and made no headway because of the fundamental illusion underlying that "line" that says strategic and tactical decisions can make a class structure go away without even naming what has to go away. The critics of the MIM line so much overuse the concept of "false consciousness" to make excuses for hardened and repetitive chauvinist behavior that they have long ago blurred the line between enemy and friend.
When Chiang Kai-shek massacred thousands of urban Chinese communists in 1927, the communists had a choice. They could realize that they were on a losing terrain in the cities or they could shift to the countryside and Mao's strategy of protracted People's War. To be sure, there were (and still are today) people advocating continuing the urban-centered strategy--especially the Trotskyists. They essentially asked for communists to lie to themselves about political conditions in order to be consistent with previous Marxist analysis of the city leading the countryside.
Today, Amerikkkans must come to grips with their genocidal pasts or deserve to be wiped off the face of the earth by the peoples exercising their right to survival. This is the strategic task we face, not promising to raise imperialist country wages another 10 percent or the like to flatter the exploiters into some kind of political quiescence under proletarian rule. We either follow Lenin on what internationalism is, doing "one's share" of the communist work, or we follow the revisionists and social-democrats even further to their right in going for a majority, just because that is what "communists" have always done in the imperialist countries contrary to Lenin's explicit and correct instructions. (See the MIM web page FAQ on internationalism.)
Although the Soviet occupation forces and the eastern Germans themselves did not refer to the "labor aristocracy" thesis as often as MIM does, the debate did rage on whether just the imperialist rulers or the whole population was responsible for the Hitler chauvinism and militarism. Just as today, there were those who wanted to whitewash the question, as if the Nazi-supporting Germans should just forget their past and move right on to build socialism. At the same time, there were the communist writers who generally sought to broaden the guilt of the German population in order that it would bring about self-criticism, self-transformation and an end to past German chauvinism and militarism.(Pike, 1992, 75) It is little wonder that imperialist country revisionists are busy covering up this history of our communist movement in Germany: German communist internationalism after World War II was much more thorough than that which followed in the imperialist countries. Fortunately anti-communists like Pike and Naimark hate our movement so much that they could not help but remind us of its former internationalist greatness. By this I do not mean to say the German communists made no mistakes or even deviations, but in 2002 we can be a little more objective about those accomplishments that the German communists did have in what in many ways was a nadir of history.
If the situation were not so sad and twisted, the excuses the German population had in 1945 would be funny. MIM sees a glimmer of self-recognition.
2. The problem with counting on spineless social-democrats
"Here was one more example of the basic contrast in party styles: the KPD pressed for action, the SPD [social-democrats--MC5] avoided commitment." (Krisch, 1974, 136)
The question that intellectuals love to talk about in the West is the difference between the social-democrats and the communists in Germany and how those differences supposedly contributed to Hitler's rise to power. The bulk of intellectuals have decided that Stalin's "social-fascism" thesis (often referred to as "third period" strategy) cleared the way for Hitler by wrongly attacking social-democrats. That is the opinion of the Trotskyists and social-democrats both and it has created a near unanimity amongst Western bourgeois intellectuals.
In that the German social-democrats were even more anti-Soviet than Hitler in foreign policy issues, MIM can agree with the social-democratic intellectuals, just for a different reason. The social-democrats gave Stalin good reason to prefer Hitler to them, because the social-democrats were pushing for a joint Western attack on the Soviet Union. Stalin's policy did favor Hitler over the social-democrats, at least at various times, but rightly so.
One thing this writer was unaware of is that after the "social-fascist" thesis stopped appearing, two years after the rise of Hitler to power, the German social-democrats still refused to work with the communists. Here is what the social-democratic SPD thought even after Hitler came to power: "They felt that Communist-Social Democratic collaboration would make the anti-Hitler fight more difficult, for it would make plausible the Nazi charge that 'Bolshevism' was their only foe. Moreover, a united front would scare away anti-Hitler elements in the middle class, army, etc."(Krisch, 1974, 13) So it was that Hitler's propaganda shaped the thought of the SPD. Today of course thanks to the Wall Street Journal we know that actual Nazi leaders were in the Austrian SPD, before, during and after World War II and that the Nazi-collaborator regime gave Mitterand a medal. (See MIM Notes #93; #209)
Even after the Comintern's famous 7th Congress and the rise to prominence of Dimitrov, the German SPD turned down communist overtures, right up to 1939 when the Germans invaded Poland and France and England declared war. According to Krisch, "The chief reason was clearly the hostile attitude of the Social Democrats. German Social Democracy did not emerge from the Hitler period with any sort of commitment to or tradition of collaboration (let alone anything closer) with the KPD. It must be added that by 1939 an organized SPD no longer existed." As a fighting party with a clear attitude, the KPD emerged from the war much better organized than the SPD.
MIM is well aware of these sorts of petty-bourgeois types common in the SPD of the 1930s. The intellectuals occupied themselves with their fine differences with the communists and came up with justifications for why they were not fighting Hitler vigorously. There is no point in berating SPD spinelessness or even worse "treachery." The SPD represented the underestimated labor aristocracy of Germany as well as the traditional petty-bourgeoisie which sought a gradual improvement in economic conditions.
Such thoughts in an emergency situation like Germany of the 1930s do not arise in a vacuum, especially not over and over again. In fact, we do not believe it was the political struggle of talented French political leaders which managed a better united front in France than in Germany. Although French social-democratic ideology was also widespread in popularity, the labor aristocracy of France accurately perceived that German imperialism threatened French imperial interests, even more than the distant Soviet Union, which became a natural ally of French imperialist interests. The difference of the situation in Germany and France was not a wild swing about by Stalin on the question of united front and popular front, the way Trotskyists paint the picture, as if one man in Moscow could determine the success or failure of the united front in Germany and France. The difference of the situation in the two countries corresponded to the particular interests of the French and German labor aristocracies. In the German case, the labor aristocracy opposed Soviet interests as a matter of the urgent needs of empire while in France the empire's interests only clashed with Soviet interests in a less pressing way, given that Germany was French empire's main and geographically closer rival.
The problem of the German SPD and the isolation of the communist KPD even in the horrors of the 1930s points to the problems presented to revolutionaries by the class structure in the imperialist countries. Today, the class structure is even more unfavorable than it was in Germany of the Depression. The parallel situation would be in the labor aristocracies of countries whose imperial interests are threatened by the United $tates. Only in such countries should we communists expect any chance of allying with politicians rooted in the labor aristocracy. To believe otherwise is to miscalculate proletarian interests--which is what the vast majority of imperialist country so-called communists are doing either consciously or unconsciously.
After long years in prison and the total collapse of the Nazis in 1945, the social-democrats came out of the woodworks in Germany to advocate unity with communists. The crucial material fact was that the German empire was kaput and had no immediate prospects and for this reason the German labor aristocracy could be considered proletarianized or at least on the most favorable possible terms for unity with the communists. There was considerable social-democratic sentiment to make sure unity with the communists got done this time. Krisch and Sandford documented these sentiments at the grassroots and upwards. (Pike, 1992, asserted otherwise in an anti-communist diatribe with no evidence.)
Still there were immediate problems with how to characterize what had just happened. Through struggle, the communists had managed to get the social-democrats to condemn their trade unions for demonstrating for the fascists on May 1st, 1932--"'the blackest day in the history of the workers' movement.'"(Sandford, 1983, 57)
3. Failure of widespread opposition to Hitler
"Having failed so miserably to resist Nazism before and during the war, the German working class would be in no position to make a successful socialist revolution soon thereafter." (Sandford on the German communists' thoughts, 1983, 13)
Trying to picture the situation in 1945 when occupation armies finally took over Germany should bring to all realistic imperialist country communists a glimmer of self-recognition. The occupation was a major event of the "chickens coming home to roost." Occupations are never tea-parties. Whether it was the killing of children by Soviet soldiers who had lost their own children to Nazis or the rape of German wimmin by Soviet soldiers or deranged Nazis posing as Soviet soldiers, there could be nothing of a tea-party atmosphere in the immediate situation in 1945 in Germany.
Often those prone to ultra-left fantasy picture catastrophic conditions that will give rise to instant middle-class descent into the proletariat and instant proletarian consciousness on a wide scale. How such consciousness could arise amongst whites in the united $tates in 2002 for instance, when it has not arisen in England where the process of deterioration is further along does not enter the heads of the fanciful ultra-leftists.
Even worse, Germany itself faced catastrophic conditions as much or more than any imperialist country in the 20th century; yet, popular communist revolt was not the result. Germany went through two years of devastating losses at the hands of the Soviet Red Army by 1944 and three years of such defeats by 1945, but still the German population never did the elementary thing of revolting to take down Hitler. The German population fought hard to the bitter end, against the multi-national proletariat of the Red Army.
In 1943, a "Free Germany" committee (NKFD) arose to organize Nazi troop desertions and hopefully a speedy end to the war. The NKFD initially speculated on post-war government with its own role in it, but after its failure to convert any Nazi troops, it became a simply communist organization. (Sandford, 1983, 11)
When it came to how to handle the last year of battles of the war, the Allied Command including Stalin had to make a practical decision about how best to win in Germany. In that decision, Stalin had to write off waiting for the German anti-fascists to arouse the German people to speed up the end of the war. The plus side of waiting for the anti-fascists to overthrow Hitler was enormous: it might have cut back on millions of soldiers lost on both sides and it might have made a post-war German government arise with a popular, internal basis.
The underground anti-fascists were having little success, so Stalin and the Allies gave up on waiting for them. Among other things, waiting for the anti-fascists to overthrow Hitler might have meant giving Hitler time to develop nuclear weapons, and he was already ahead of the Allies in missile technology. Sandford (1983, 12) (and many others) also points out that the Allies were afraid Stalin and Hitler would make a separate peace, so Stalin had to assure them that the NKFD was not too successful and was merely a propaganda tool. To be sure, the Soviets shielded communists and other anti-fascists and gave them the means to propagandize amongst the German people, but their efforts came to naught, except as a lesson on how bad the problem was.
The decision to go ahead with invasion without waiting for peace via German anti-fascists reveals an important fact about the class structure. If Germany had had a large proletariat desperate for change, then this decision would not have been necessary. If instead Germany had a large labor aristocracy supporting designs of global superiority, then waiting for anti-fascists would have meant prolonging the war and increasing the deaths of the oppressed and exploited at the hands of the Nazis. It is MIM's thesis that nothing other than the labor aristocracy thesis explains the abysmal situation in Germany. To think otherwise is to name fighters for Hitler a "proletariat," and this is not what Marx had in mind when he spoke of the revolutionary vehicle.
Rather than spare the national feelings of the Germans, the Allies and the Soviet Union in particular opted for a policy of thorough military extermination of German pipe-dreams: the Allies did not wait for German anti-fascists. From the beginning, Stalin warned the Germans that they would match the Nazi "war of extermination." In the real world, Stalin's decision not to wait even three more months for the German labor aristocracy was the most important decision that communists have made regarding an imperialist country class structure since Lenin spoke of the global "split in the working class." As is often the case, practice raced ahead of theory and it is MIM more than 50 years later left to do what is typical in the imperialist country communist movement: drag our backward brains forward. In 1945, already the communists admitted this much in print: Stalin's predictions that the German people would be loyal allies against fascism had turned out false (Pike, 1992, 13) (and of course Stalin's predictions came no where close to being as bad as Trotsky's, since Trotsky hinged the whole world revolution on the Hitler-loving Germans as "advanced" workers.) Of course the first step to being radical is recognizing reality, and Stalin and the German communists found it necessary to acknowledge that the German population had not been revolutionary or even anti-fascist.
MIM will make the following ideological point. In 1945 the entire German population had earned the wrath of the oppressed people globally. Although Germany did not attack every country in the world, Hitler put forward Aryan race superiority and slated other peoples for extinction, in many cases with detailed government plans already written, despite the post-modernist haze of ignorance spreading today that is in denial of facts printed in black-and-white. Since the Germans proved incapable of overthrowing Hitler, the Germans risked their own existence at the hands of people who had suffered from Hitler's oppression. In principle there can be nothing against killing every last German in such a situation if it is necessary. Saving the German people cannot be put ahead of saving the millions being killed by Germans. German lives are not more valuable than Slavic, Jewish or other lives.
Both Soviet and German communists pointed out that it was not just the imperialists to blame in Nazi Germany. They could not have done what they did and for so long and after so many deaths without widespread support. To be sure, Stalin had to issue quick instructions that the German people and state would continue to exist while Nazism fell: "the Hitlers come and go, but the German people, the German nation, remains."(Pike, 1992, 12) These instructions at the end of the war are well-known but so too were the Soviet slogans urging on the Soviet soldiers to "kill, kill, kill." Stalin had to upbraid Ilya Ehrenburg in 1945 for implying that every last German should be wiped out. Ehrenburg's slogans had been famous during the war: "'We shall not speak any more. We shall not get excited. We shall kill. If you have not killed at least one German a day, you have wasted that day. . . If you kill one German, kill another--there is nothing funnier for us than a pile of German corpses.'"(Naimark, 1995, 72) Despite propaganda to the contrary, Soviet military leaders reported that their troops continued to identify the German people and not just the leaders with fascism, as the troops entered Germany.(Naimark, 1995, 77)
Naimark found many of the common statements of the Soviet soldiers that became famous. An American journalist even found a Russian sentry who provided a statement of considerable theoretical value: "'They lived well, the parasites. Great big farms in East Prussia, and pretty posh houses in the towns that hadn't been burned out or bombed to hell. And look at these datchas here! Why did these people who were living so well have to invade us?'"(Naimark, 1995, 78) After the successful conclusion of the war, the Soviet regime turned toward reminding the occupying troops themselves of the positive characteristics of the German people, including their artistic achievements and the communist martyr Ernst Thalmann.(Naimark, 1995, 102)
MIM is often left wondering by those opposing the U.$. occupations today why they show nothing of the military spirit of World War II that was necessary for victory. Stalin's simple statement which would seem so trite was in fact urgently necessary at the time to prevent complete genocide against the Germans. Today, rejection of MIM Thought on the imperialist countries is perhaps most important for its impact on Third World Peoples' Wars that harbor illusions that the Amerikkkan proletariat will rise and lift the mountains of imperialism and semi-feudalism off the backs of the Third World for them. If Third World people send back 58,000 messages of one kind to the united $tates like Ho Chi Minh did, then they are certainly entitled to send 58 messages of peace and fraternal brotherhood to their favorite party organizations as well. MIM begrudges no such messages.
The Soviet occupation authorities eventually distinguished between "nominal Nazis" and "active Nazis," because without that distinction, the Soviets and anti-fascist allies would have had to purge Germans from too many sensitive jobs in government, police, teaching etc. Yet, as the war occurred, both Soviet and German communists were thinking the same thing of the German population--that it was bought-off in its entirety and supportive of the war. The first official statement of the communist party (KPD) once legalized after World War II said, "'Not only Hitler is guilty of the crimes that have befallen humanity! Ten million Germans also bear part of the guilt, those who in 1932 in free elections voted for Hitler although we communists warned: 'Whoever votes for Hitler votes for war!'
"Part of the guilt is also borne by those German men and women who, spineless and without resistance, watched Hitler grab power, watched how he destroyed all democratic organizations, especially those of the labor movement, and locked up, tortured, and murdered the best Germans.
"Guilty are all those Germans who saw in the armaments build up a 'Greater Germany' and perceived in bestial militarism, in marches and exercises, the sole sanctifying redemption of the nation."(Weitz, 1997, 319) The communist party leaders that issued that statement considered themselves to the "right" of the average grassroots communists who were often guilty of "sectarianism," but even so, the KPD criticized the millions of German people right after Stalin had instructed that there were distinctions to be made amongst Germans--that they were not all to be slated for annihilation by the USSR as Hitler had warned.
A leaflet distributed in Zeitz before the war ended said this (italics removed):
"Do you know what it means, to lose a war that we, with a criminal lack of responsibility, set off ourselves?(Weitz, 1997, 319-20)
"Do you know what it means, to be hated by the entire world, only because Hitler threatened the entire world?
"Do you know what it means, that Hitler and fascism were defeated and overthrown not by the German people, but by the military power of the united nations?
"You should be clear when you complain about your misery. The proportion of our people's contribution to the emergence of peace defines the proportion of its participation in the peace.
"Think about it!
"And one more thing, when you complain: We antifascists were the ones who until the Reichstag fire time and again warned:
"Hitler means war!
"Hitler means terror!
"Hitler means barbarism and suffering!
"You did not listen to us then."
Spending considerable energy fighting the ultra-left, KPD leader Walter Ulbricht nonetheless said, "poison of the gangster ideology [Nazism--MC5] and militaristic obedience-to-the-death lay deep in the people."(Weitz, 1997, 320) These simple and earnest statements are reality for the advanced capitalist countries especially in 2002 and especially in the united $tates but also to lesser degrees in the other major imperialist countries.
In fact, there were some outright MIM-like statements from the German communists. The editor of "New Germany" Rudolf Herrnstadt started an uproar and had his article published in the Soviet occupation press: "About 'the Russians' and about Us." After putting forward the materialist approach that it was not possible to pick and choose what one wanted from various social systems and that reality only presented so many choices, Herrnstadt hit the nail on the head: "How should the Soviet army have interpreted this attitude [of the German workers' carrying the bags of Hitlerites to their cars as they fled--MC5] of the German people?. . . An active, capable working class did not exist."(Naimark, 1995, 136) Thus as German-language speakers would know from reading Marx in the "Communist Manifesto" and many other places, the German proletariat as a class had not formed according to Herrnstadt. At the public debate over his article, a German womyn from the audience rose in response right after the fact of the German "working-class"'s non-resistance to Hitler had been pointed out. The comrades had to rebut her complaints by saying it was the Hitlerites who had brought on the invasion and were using the atrocities of the occupation to hold back socialism.(Naimark, 1995, 137-8) It was a very pointed and materialist discussion through and through, a model for all the imperialist countries.
MIM agrees with the German and Soviet comrades at the time, people who were implementing a theory of the labor aristocracy as the majority, even if they did not always call it that. The first to implement the theory were the Soviet soldiers marching through Germany. They treated the German population as enemies who had to be transformed or killed, not as proletarians eager to get a chance to build socialism. It was do that or let the German labor aristocracy kill them. In fact, the Soviet troops so viewed Germans as enemies that Stalin had to issue an edict that the German people would continue with a new state.
Pre-scientific member of the intelligentsia Eric D. Weitz said it would be "difficult to imagine the population" "responding positively" to the type of leaflet or Ulbricht speech quoted above. Weitz thus proves the perfect example of the type of persyn who thinks that everything is tactical. Instead of letting the German labor aristocracy feel the full bitterness of what it had done to understand what it had done, Weitz favored "toning it down" even right after a war of tens of millions killed. For someone like Weitz in the early stages of post-modernist disease, even World War II was no time to be coming to concrete conclusions.
His book complains about the "intransigence" of German communists--and notes at length the street battles of the communists organized against the fascists in the 1920s and 1930s--and notes them negatively! It goes to show that the intellectuals today still don't get it when it comes to stopping fascism. Instead Weitz complains at length in a nihilistic way that street-fighting was a "masculine" activity that disempowered wimmin. He never said anywhere that wimmin took up another movement and he certainly provided no alternative road map to defeating the fascists, who were not about to be stopped by the early historical introduction of political correctness classes.
Contrary to what ultra-left dreamers think, it is unlikely that future military conflicts with imperialist powers will occur in a more intense yet more slow manner than during World War II Germany--short of space aliens landing and imposing a freeze on time. If the German population was not able to "get it" that war was not in its interests, it is even less likely that imperialist country labor aristocracies faced with less military defeat and catastrophe will "get it."
The Germans in 1945 are a yardstick for the labor aristocracy everywhere. The nuclear weapons dropped on Japan produced a long-term change of attitude in the Japanese population and we can predict that a nuclear weapon or two dropped on the united $tates might start to produce a change of attitude, but we have every reason to believe that a level of violence up to that suffered by Amerikkkans during the Vietnam War and even that suffered by Germans in World War II will not produce a proletarian uprising. The Germans proved unable even to remove Hitler and replace him with another bourgeois politician. Clearly the violence has to be seen as horrendous and unstoppable for the labor aristocracy to change.
We have to think about that level of violence in Hitler Germany, not just the violence it inflicted but the violence Nazis suffered. Of course, lesser imperialist countries further along in deterioration and playing junior roles to U.$. imperialism may fall to proletarian movements somewhat earlier, the way Mussolini's Italy collapsed during World War II. Yet to expect the Yankee imperialists to go down that easily is not realistic. The bought-off population of Amerikkka is much more bought off than the stable strata of people supporting Hitler was.
4. Lack of self-criticism and not enough German communists to run things even with Soviet Red Army support
As the Soviet occupation academics of the West note, the arrival of the Red Army spurred the fantasies of ultra-leftists and the Trotskyists destined to be remembered in history as an offshoot of militant Christianity for their criticism of the humyn race from the vantage point of Trotskyist Ideals. Even though Germany had the largest or second largest communist party in the world for much of the late 1800s and early 1900s, there were not enough comrades to run things in 1945, thanks in part to Hitler's killings and thanks to the effectiveness of his propaganda.
After the war, the grassroots "leftists" organized parades and banner flying. They went out in the streets with trucks and loudspeakers to recruit.
According to Naimark, it was a situation of almost the whole society's opposing the communist leadership of Ulbricht one way or another. The Trotskyists and other "left-sectarians" of the day opposed putting the blame for Nazism on the whole German people and like the Nazis, whined about the rapes and reparations.(Naimark, 1995, 275) They also condemned Soviet "imperialism" and "state capitalism" while calling for the Marshall Plan--thus preferring U.$. imperialism to the Soviet Union.(Naimark, 1995, 296) Once again, we see that many people calling themselves communists are unable to do concrete work and fill themselves with ahistorical idealisms so that they end up complaining in ways indistinguishable from Nazis seeking restoration. All of this is very familiar in the present day as anti-communists calling themselves "Marxists" condemn all progressive reality while creating none of their own.
Meanwhile, the KPD could not find enough comrades to fill government posts. The Soviet Union only had 70 German communists and 300 POWs that it felt had become reliable progressive material to send back to Germany in June 1945.(Naimark, 1995, 42) Later the KPD felt it had to relax prohibitions against non-atheists to be members of the party, partly as a result. (MIM favors "better fewer but better," so progressive non-atheists should work progressively but outside the party.) The KPD leaders had to spend a lot of time criticizing nihilism--even with the Soviet Red Army at hand. It was no longer necessary to criticize verbally. It was necessary to actually carry out reorganization of society--and the KPD found that a lot of anarchists, Trotskyists and grassroots comrades continued with their nihilist ways. While they had the chance to join the government and refused, the "left" dissidents still had the gall to complain when the Soviet military appointed Nazi military or party members to government posts.(Naimark, 1995, 44) To this day, the Trotskyists and crypto-Trotskyists would like to blame the Soviet Red Army for stifling the supposed German proletariat's initiative instead of accepting blame where it belongs--on the parasitic labor aristocracy's heads.
The formation of the Chinese Communist Party or even the Soviet Communist Party looks much more easy in comparison. Both came from peoples who had fought years for their basic needs. In Germany of 1945 and the United $tates today, we communists do not recruit from a people who had fought a long war for the right to eat. We tend to gather about us nihilist intellectuals and half-baked, petty-bourgeois oddballs as our material. Even a quantitative increase in membership like that seen in Germany is not likely to make Amerikkkans more productive in socialist construction than the German comrades were.
The same basically useless Trotskyists running around now were running around in eastern Germany in 1945. Imperialist Germany did not generate enough communists to run an administration that could really move Germany forward out of the Nazi hell. Stalin knew this all along and that is why social-democrats, Catholics and various bourgeois politicians took roles in the government all along. It is also the reason the KPD merged with the SPD in the Soviet zone.
When it came to removing key army officers and police chiefs, the assortment of grassroots "leftists" did help within the first few days of occupation. However, when it came to removing former Nazis from their posts more generally, the communists had the most difficulty and had to delay and delay in removing former gung-ho Nazis from critical jobs ranging from teaching to police administration. Not only did the public resist taking blame for supporting the Nazis, but also, the public only supported the purge of a tiny minority of Nazis from public life. Although the communists attributed collective guilt for the Nazi aggression to the population, when it came to removing people from their Nazi-era jobs, only 3% of the population found itself removed between 1945 and 1948.(Vogt, 2000, 3) Crucial to that statistic was the distinction between "nominal Nazis" and Nazis bearing full responsibility for leadership. The communists sought with the help of others to remove the die-hard Nazi organizers from every aspect of public life, but obstacle after obstacle appeared to protect the Nazis.
Today in 2002, MIM sees a parallel when we have to argue with those who say that Amerikkkan chauvinism is just "false consciousness" and not hardened enemy action. We can easily see that if we had been in Germany in 1945, most of MIM's opponents on the labor aristocracy question would have been there saying that Nazism was just a "mistake." It's easy to picture MIM's supposedly Marxist opponents covering up for large numbers of Nazis at the time so they would not lose their jobs. History shows that even inside the communist party itself, most comrades were covering up for the Nazis when it came time to meting out punishments and the struggle for self- criticism and transformation. Although the Soviet troops and the most internationalist comrades including the party leadership saw things correctly from the facts, they did not have a theory of the labor aristocracy the way MIM does today. That lack of theory made it more difficult to accomplish what the German proletarian internationalists were trying to accomplish, aside from punishing the handful of very top Nazi leaders.
In campaigns right after the end of the war, the social-democrats immediately leapt into action to gain former Nazi votes. "Many members of the NSDAP, who were members of the SPD before 1933, were good, honest people. They were my friends before 1933 and they remained my friends and they are also presently my friends, in whom I still have trust,"(Vogt, 2000, 76) was one well-cheered speech. Thus, though the Nazis were crushed, there was a continuous struggle on how to oust their influence, with a Liberal side saying to forget everything and another side successfully pushing through labor camps for some Nazis in 1946. One side opposed reparations and raised whiny complaints about every little Soviet exaction from the Germans while the other side put the war in greater perspective and assisted Stalin in de-lousing the German population, not just a minority of hard-core leaders or a minority class but the whole population.
Each hard-core Nazi removed from his or her previous job received a public hearing. These hearings again provoked a glimmer of self-recognition for imperialist country people, because they provided a display of labor aristocracy solidarity. The authorities simply found it very difficult to get people to testify against the hard-core Nazis and thus they had difficulty in telling which people in the vast population of the Nazis were the real leaders deserving of punishment by removal from their influential jobs, fines or loss of farmland. According to Vogt, the Soviet occupation forces never did succeed in their denazification work plans because of this solidarity we refer to as labor aristocracy class solidarity. For this reason it is important for the communists to have "foreigners" on the inside of the advanced capitalist countries before the revolutionary advance to whatever extent possible. Globalization and "free trade" can be offsetting factors that help us to undermine future labor aristocracy solidarity. Today there are many Turkish and Kurdish people living amongst the Germans and to the extent that they understand what is happening in Germany, they can serve as an important limit to German labor aristocracy solidarity the next time there is a revolution in Germany.
To separate between the most competent hard-core Nazi leaders and the rest of the Nazi-supporting public, one German communist leader differentiated between the leaders and those with "co-responsibility." "'Doubtless there will be wide circles in Germany only all too ready to forget everything that has happened. They will say, What has happened has happened, let's leave it at that. They will assure us, We were of course always against it, we said so right from the beginning--and, with these well-known justifications, they will attempt in the cheapest petty bourgeois manner to swindle their way out of the bloody Hitler affair.'"(Vogt, 2000, 26) In fact, the first major statement of the KPD (communist party) after the war declared, "'the German people carry a decisive portion of the guilt and co-responsibility for the war and its results.'"(Vogt, 2000, 35) For the communists to declare otherwise would have been the utmost in irresponsibility and virtually paving the way to imperialist restoration in Germany. This is reason enough to support MIM's line.
Although the communists were generally the best politically organized in Hitler-occupied countries and France and Italy after World War II, they still obtained little support in many of those countries. In the U.S. occupation zone of Germany, communists received 3.5 percent in November, 1945 municipal elections. In the same month, Austrian communists received 5.4 percent of the vote.(Sandford, 1983, 142)
It may surprise readers to learn that contrary to the Western propaganda image, Stalin was gung-ho on the Germans' having elections and campaigns. In fact, he believed that the German population never understood the merits of bourgeois democracy relative to even more backward political systems. On account of that problem and the fact that the imperialists occupied three of the four zones of Germany, the communists adopted the theory of "popular democracy" for Germany, one that was neither bourgeois nor socialist but was in fact explicitly between them.(Pike, 1992, 62)
Cynics would stress that Stalin merely took into account the Western occupation of the majority of Germany, but whatever the reason, Stalin did take account of reality, and this reality is something we of 2002 can learn much from. Stalin was a great implementor of Lenin's will. While he did not put as much emphasis on the labor aristocracy as MIM would later, Stalin did not attempt to skip any stages of political work out of the kind of wild-eyed fantasies we see so prevalent today. Far from it being a case of the Western communists being so advanced or beyond what German communists were in 1945, today's Western communist movement is backwards compared with that in China, Turkey, Peru, the Philippines etc. and what is more, it is backwards compared with the communist movement in Germany in 1945. The Western communist movement is developing unevenly such that it is only MIM Thought today consistently accounting for things known in the imperialist countries already more than 50 years ago.
Thanks to Stalin, in the context of Germany 1945 and the immediately following years, there is finally a good reason for talking about a political system that is neither fish nor fowl. Later in the Third World, Khruschev and Brezhnev would talk about "third way" politics and "non-capitalist" states that also were not socialist. That was simply their formula for giving "aid" to "progressive" states while pushing aside the question of socialism. They opportunistically took what Stalin did and put it in another context.
In Germany 1945 and 1946, we can see what Stalin was saying: with the Red Army there and firmly in place, the political conditions for socialism did exist; however, the population was not ready to build socialism even when it had the option to do so thanks to the Soviet Army. Hence Soviet-occupied Germany in 1945 and 1946 in particular was neither fish nor fowl. It was possible to call eastern Germany a dictatorship of the proletariat as soon as the Soviet Red Army arrived, but then the question would be, "of what proletariat"? The answer would have had to have been, "the multinational Soviet proletariat." At this, Stalin balked and instead told the Germans that they were not ready to build socialism. Thus in practice, Stalin shot down a thousand variants of labor aristocracy politics, and we can now enter the next similar situation with hindsight and experience. We will know in advance what to expect and what path will guide us.
To say that the German state set up by the Soviet Red Army was merely bourgeois would be an insult to Soviet socialism, but to say that the eastern German state was socialist when not enough Soviet people were there to run it and where every intention was for Germans to run it--that would also be false. Stalin recognized that the eastern German people were not ready for socialism. Without naming it such, Stalin took the German people through what MIM calls the "re-civilizing stage" under dictatorship of the proletariat. Through collection of reparations and land reform, Stalin de-loused the German people. The Soviet occupation forces also made strenuous efforts in everything from film to theater to reverse Nazi propaganda. In the "re-civilizing stage," the former oppressor nation people are not building socialism: they don't know how yet and have insufficient desire for it. Dictatorship comes from the outside instead, and that dictatorship (unless it involves bringing enough people), itself cannot be socialist. In this stage in Germany, Stalin patiently tried to teach the German people about the mistakes they had made in how they regarded bourgeois democracy, liberalism, the Jews, the Russians and many other questions.
It is important to understand that the line and stages that they went through in Germany were similar to MIM's line, but the rationale given was often somewhat different: "'Many workers want to set up socialism straightaway,' Ulbricht [eastern German communist leader--MC5] observed, 'but how can that occur in light of the ideological devastation that reaches so deeply into the ranks of the working class?'"(Vogt, 2000, 38) In fact, Ulbricht said completion of the bourgeois democratic revolution of 1848 was still the order of the day in Germany.
The difference here is that MIM does not stress the spread of the ideology of the enemy without examining the spread of the parasitism of the enemy. However, the solution is the same--not just ideology lecture sessions but reparations and more reparations, and for some die-hard anti-communists, labor camp. Those stressing that there were no enemies are the ones responsible for the situation in one town where Nazis continued to control the town propaganda office, run the administration and put up Nazi posters--months after occupation started.(Vogt, 2000, 39) Nazi posters still decorated some schools where Nazis still taught into 1946.(Vogt, 2000, 160-1) Even Naimark admitted to the reports on the Nazi schools still being in place complete with Nazi textbooks in the fall of 1945.(Naimark, 1995, 27)
If we believe one bourgeois academician interested in the same questions for different reasons, it was not possible to implement both reparations and denazification at the same time: "The public wavered between apathy and antagonism toward denazification." (Vogt, 2000, 111) He adds that the merged communist and social-democratic party called the SED created for the German conditions did not even succeed in mobilizing its own cadres for the denazification program. Those familiar with MIM's work against white nation chauvinism already know that MIM's position is that there are not enough oppressor nation communists to run more than the media. They simply cannot run a government.
Soviet reports on the German comrades showed that in the beginning years of the SED's internal politics, it was one long social-democratic bit of rhetoric followed by anti-Soviet outbursts.(Naimark, 1995, 297) The Soviets had luck in cultivating a tiny minority of internationalist scientists, who they treated equally, but by-and-large, the SED fully earned its reputation with Stalin for not being able to implement a dictatorship of the proletariat.
In 1945, Stalin prepared Germany in line with previous theory about a proletariat existing there. He was not even sure if he would return the eastern zone to merge with the other three in a new Germany. Bringing down u.$. imperialism will be different. There will be no other imperialist powers that we seek to turn it over to or bargain with. The end of u.$. imperialism will hopefully be the end of all imperialism. The task will definitely be to see to it that imperialism does not restore itself. The failure of the denazification program pointed to by Vogt is in line with everything MIM knows about anti-chauvinist, anti-racist and anti-militarist work now. Despite the Red Army's power, there was no vibrant German proletariat to deliver de-nazification. For this reason, MIM says opening the borders to the vibrant international proletariat and having an understanding of the immigrants' key role will be essential to the re-civilization stage of preparing oppressor nation people for participation in the construction of socialism.
There are some international comrades of super-exploited countries who do not seek reparations from the united $tates. They are wrong and they hold back the movement that will be necessary to transform imperialist country peoples. We have to question whether those opposing reparations to the Third World have already received bribes from the CIA or AFL-CIO which allows the CIA to use it as a front.
It is probably little known amongst communists, thanks to revisionism, but Stalin was adamant about reparations from Germany and asked for $10 billion from the beginning; even though damages by the Germans were $128 billion.(Naimark, 1995, 168) The Soviet comrades organized the taking of large portions of East German industry for transport to the Soviet Union, with approximately 4339 enterprises out of 17,024 being shipped.(Naimark, 1995, 183)
This transport of the means of production was unpopular in Germany; although it came no where close to making up for the losses imperialist Germany inflicted on the Soviet Union. Stalin knew very well he was sacrificing the short-run popularity of the German communists to accomplish reparations and still he did it. According to Krisch, the reparations were the single most unpopular thing amongst the German "workers," partly because as the factories left, the German workers imagined the destruction of their own jobs, despite the possibility of a socialist future in front of them. (If not the reparations, others point to the rapes as the most unpopular political responsibility the communists faced.)
Today factories leave from imperialist countries to Third World countries and then the labor aristocracy fights for its jobs by placing restrictions on the mobility of capital and by opposing trade treaties like NAFTA and GATT/WTO. Although the Soviet Union in 1945 was reeling from the war with a third of its wealth destroyed, the Soviet Union in 1945 was still not the poorest country in the world, far from it. Yet Stalin insisted on reparations. How much more true it would be that transformation will require reparations from the united $tates after the overthrow of u.$. imperialism.
Ulbricht correctly pointed out that the resistance to reparations in factory equipment was a residual of fascist influence. Data in 1947 showed that absenteeism in factories producing reparations for the Soviet Union was 24%.(Naimark, 1995, 194) The German "workers" summoned all their social-democratic traditions to keep their own living standards down (14% being the lowest absenteeism in 1947) and above all to prevent reparations to the USSR. Once again, we see an imperialist country (or ex-imperialist country) oppressor nation "working-class" in reactionary class struggle. For example, though starving in a chaotic production situation, the German workers said, "Piecework is death!"(Naimark, 1995, 196) MIM holds that whatever drawbacks piecework had, in that context it was not appropriate to oppose it. In fact, it was a kind of Nazi sabotage. The reactionary class struggle of the German "workers" was the beginning of the Soviet zone's lag behind the imperialist occupied zone. In the summer of 1947, German labor productivity was still less than half of what it was under Hitler in 1936.(Kopstein, 1997, 23) As a counter-move, the Soviet authorities adopted a strategy Stalin had employed in the Soviet Union: they tried to call forth those who stood something to gain from the change of authorities in the workplace. Specifically they called forward unskilled workers to replace the role of the more experienced and skilled "labor aristocracy" blocking production.(Naimark, 1995, 195) This was obviously what Lenin had long ago advised when it came to dealing with the labor aristocracy. Nonetheless, the German communists failed in motivating labor productivity in the Soviet-occupied zone, and with the U.$. strategy of flaunting a higher living standard, it became inevitable for the Berlin Wall to arise, as Kopstein correctly notes. (Kopstein, 1997, 44) Had the German labor aristocracy not been more psyched about Hitler's methods than Ulbricht's, no Berlin Wall would have been necessary: eastern Germany could have competed with western Germany.
On the question of reparations that were not the means of production, again, Ulbricht in the main carried out his internationalist duties time and time again. Even in the case of bicycles stolen on the street from Germans, Ulbrict said, "One complains that the Russians took away the bicycles. I say to him who complains about this: naturally we are against it. . . But for soldiers who have come from Stalingrad to Berlin by foot and now say, 'We would like to have a bicycle,' well, one can also understand that."(Vogt, 2000, 41)
Once again, MIM would stress that its line is the internationalist road forward pioneered by Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao. The various forces flattering the reactionary social-democrats and labor aristocracy by dropping the demand for reparations are selling out the world's super-exploited people especially and abandoning the practice carried out by Stalin. For that matter they are contributing to the material bases for the illusions of the imperialist country populations about their own supposedly great "productivity."
6. Border claims
After World War II, reactionary Poles and Germans hit the Soviet Union from both sides. The Soviet Union restored the Polish border to what it was and added a piece that was formerly part of Germany. For this--and as Winston Churchill noted with incredulity--the reactionary Poles asked the English to back them with military force to negotiate or even fight with the Soviet Union. What they got from the Soviet Union was not good enough for the Poles, the wretched nationalists that they were.
Likewise the German people complained of losing land to the Poles. In this situation, Walter Ulbricht, the leader of the German KPD played an exemplary and pioneering role again and again. "'Had these people, who today are always talking about all sorts of aftereffects of the war, fought as hard against the Hitlerite war as did our party, then . . . [we] would now have no territorial losses or other unpleasantnesses. If there are those. . . who feel compelled to seek political advantage in the unpleasantnesses which are bound up here or there with the occupation, I can only say to them: Such maneuvering signifies nothing so much as support for fascist forces of disruption.'" (Krisch, 1974, 32)
It was Ulbricht who showed the world what a communist in an imperialist country does. He does not work from the vantage point of his country's "workers," but from the vantage point of the international proletariat. Despite the huge devastation of World War II, bourgeois nationalism did not disappear overnight. The same people who just supported Hitler 90% plus (or in today's parallel bombing Libya, Iraq and now Afghanistan) were still alive and in Germany.
Lest anyone think Stalin was ultra-left by imposing these conditions on the Germans, it is important to point out that Stalin did not put the dictatorship of the proletariat on the agenda as soon as the Soviet Union occupied the eastern zone of Germany. He was also the first to restore all parliamentary political parties to official recognition and activity in Germany. The French, English and Amerikkkans took longer to allow political activity.(Krisch, 1974, 48) Naimark reports on Amerikan military intelligence which reported that Germans comparing the various occupation zones found the food and government order superior in the Soviet zone.(Naimark, 1995, 88) Except on questions of borders and reparations, the Soviet Union was determined to give concessions to German nationalism in more areas than the French, English and Amerikkkans.(See also, Sandford, 1983, 10)
Concessions included allowing non-atheists in the party. In 1932 in the Rhineland, 50 percent of communists were Catholic and so the KPD recruited from the religious after the war.
Prior to the merger with the social-democrats of Germany, the communists had to listen to the SPD position itself as the party that opposed the new border with Poland. (Krisch, 1974, 114) Once again, the communists undertook the task that is very similar to what awaits us communists in the major imperialist countries today: "If one asks us, well just where do you Communists stand on the matter of the cession of former German territories and their annexation by the Polish democratic republic, we answer as follows: 'Hitler and German imperialism have gambled these territories away. If we must cede this territory, you can thank Hitlerism and all those imperialists and militarist forces which led Germany into this war.'"(Krisch,1974, 115)
On the other hand, while Stalin saw to the material underpinnings--land and factories--he and his German comrades made every concession to the superstructure. The KPD theorists preparing merger with the SPD came up with a "German road to socialism," because the SPD had baited the KPD by asking if it was a "German party"--the implication being that it served the Soviet Union. Such was the terrible situation of the communists that they actually answered that they are German-first despite all their training. (Only later did they retract.)
Also to counter reactionary nationalism, the new joint KPD/SPD party called the SED used the occupation as a bargaining chip with the reactionary public. When explaining why the industrialists who supported Hitler should have their property expropriated through a referendum, the SED said, "'Every 'yes' vote is a vote to shorten the period of occupation.'"(Sandford, 1983, 206) It goes to show that no opinion ever arises in a total vacuum of power. The referendum expropriating the monopolists passed with 77.7% of the vote. (Sandford, 1983, 212) On this particular question, since the end of the war, the SPD was determined to show its credentials by favoring more expropriation than the communists themselves, including Church and monastery lands.(Naimark, 1995, 150) The SPD stance on nationalization was a favorable basis for unity.
7. Rape and nationalism
Historically in the Amerikkkan South or China today or in any number of wars, inter-racial or inter-ethnic rapes have justified jingoistic nationalism. The widespread rape of German wimmin by occupying troops was no exception. According to Weitz, rape was the single biggest reason that the KPD was not more popular, because the attitude was that the KPD was the puppet of the Soviet army which carried out the rapes.
Norman Naimark has brought chic social gender concerns to a bastion of reaction, the Hoover Institute. He was able to publish a whole chapter on rape in a book of that institution by making anti-communism a higher priority than anti-feminism. That is to say he wrote a detailed chapter about rape in the Soviet-occupied zone of Germany (while admitting in passing that it also happened in the non-Soviet occupied zones and other war-ravaged countries). His book continuously exudes sympathy for the former Nazis who then received repression and retribution from Soviet troops that Naimark regards as coming from an inferior culture.
What Naimark did also shed light on Catharine MacKinnon's theory of rape. According to Naimark, the difference in how much Soviet or even Polish troops raped showed that rape is not a question of desire as constructed by pornography as MacKinnon said without Naimark's mentioning her in particular. Although Soviet troops pushed through all of eastern Europe, they raped only Hungarian and German wimmin in a concentrated way. Peoples who resisted Nazi rule did not see the huge outbreaks of rape.
Along similar lines, the Poles expelled Germans wholesale from Poland at the end of the war. Aggressions of all kinds--murder, eviction and rape--all took political shape.
Because we have no reason to believe pornography differed in circulation as the Red Army went through eastern Europe and because rape appears to have centered on war enemies, it appears that the conventional definition of rape applied as a matter of aggression and not as twisted desire as seen by MacKinnon. One could say that war is a special case. However, MacKinnon might point out that the same Soviet troops who raped German wimmin also took up "legitimate" relations with those wimmin while occupying Germany over the years. A fascinating point is that the Soviet administration decided that all Soviet-German romances were tainted and Soviet soldiers so involved were sent home. Without saying so, the Soviet occupation administration had decided all sex in that context was rape or somehow oppressive. At the same time, the Soviets did settle entire families brought from the Soviet Union.
III. The opportunities that did arise
While the German example during World War II is one that comrades in the united $tates and England in particular should identify with, because of the war-mongering of the united $tates and England today and because of the absolutely pitiful nature of resistance within those countries, Germany also experienced many things thanks to catastrophe that we have yet to experience.
As mentioned above, for much of its history the German communist party (by different names) was the largest or second-largest in the world. By July 1945 after the war, the KPD reached 100,000 members. By the way, that is also the highest membership the Communist Party USA ever achieved as well, and that when it was still revolutionary in orientation, not its pitiful social-democratic self today. Germany reached 100,000 members in a population much smaller than in the United $tates. By November of 1945, the membership had tripled. Hence, the KPD had become a true mass party. (Weitz, 1997, 327)
These successes demonstrate two things: 1) that defeat of an imperialist power swings people over toward communism 2) having state power makes it possible to accomplish tasks that earn the political admiration of the public.
Just before merger with the social-democrats (SPD) in April 1946, "For each pre-1933 member, the KPD had five new ones" (Weitz, 1997, 333) in reaching its membership total of 600,000.
By 1948, the new SED merger party had two million members, 16 percent of the adult population. As for wimmin, "the proportion of women in the party increased to 24 percent in 1948, higher than the other German political parties and comparable to the successes of the French and Italian communist parties in the post-World War II period."(Weitz, 1997, 334) With Soviet troops and ex-Nazis frequently raping German wimmin into 1946, at gunpoint, in uniform and shooting men who resisted, a very clear political situation arose. The enemy attempted to use the rape situation to smear the communists and the Soviet occupation and restore Nazi power, going so far as to use Soviet uniforms to commit crimes. Accounts of the Soviet occupation were written and distributed in such a way as to create sympathy for Nazis and former-Nazis. Naimark's book on this for the Hoover Institute treads on the line between open sympathy for former Nazis and reporting the facts. Ultimately, the problem lies in that Naimark detailed many crime scenes of rape but did not give us the overall relative picture. The effect of doing so is to focus on one type of rape going on in German society for the benefit of the Nazi cause. In contrast, Weitz who said the rape situation was the worst strike against the communists still quickly and accurately disposed of emotional and narrow views by showing that wimmin themselves were politically active for more than one portion of one issue, that of rape. If Naimark's presentation were not somehow skewed, there is no other way to account for how the KPD had a higher proportion of wimmin than the other parties.
In elections in 1946, the newly formed SED won the elections, 57.1% in local elections, 50.3% of the county elections and 47.6% at the "Land" level. The Christian Democrats and LDP (another bourgeois Liberal party) did better at the "Land" level, and the Christian Democrats did proportionately best amongst wimmin, but still the SED had the highest vote total. (Weitz, 1997, 336) The SED did especially well in areas where the land reform had been completed. Meanwhile, in the zones under Western imperialist occupation, the anti-communist social-democrats played the national card and won big with 48.7% of the vote in Berlin.(Weitz, 1997, 337)
The elections in the 1946 to 1949 period in Germany prove something about the nature of elections themselves in this imperfect era. First of all, the political opinions of the population conformed to the political opinion of the army occupying the zone that the population happened to live in. Secondly, although in the western portion of Germany the KPD did make gains and even obtained overwhelming support from workers in referenda for expropriation, all that quickly faded away as the pro-Western SPD played the national card and aped the bellicose Cold War rhetoric coming out of Washington. The KPD went from being popular and a force to be reckoned with to 5.7% of the vote in the western part of Germany on August 14, 1949.(Weitz, 1997, 340)
Overall, in Germany, Stalin felt that the stage of struggle did not warrant "building socialism" even in the eastern zone until 1952. (Weitz, 1997, 366) In 1953 Stalin died. As late as 1959, 60% of agriculture in eastern Germany was privately owned,(Weitz, 1997, 367) so we do not think it was a case where the East German leaders built socialism in spite of the death of Stalin and the rise to power of Khruschev. Today we hear from insider SED members that Ulbricht supported Mao against Khruschev but had to do so very quietly--too quietly in MIM's opinion since the East Germans and the rest of the world who could be alerted by them could not know to mobilize against Khruschev.
Although eastern Germany made undeniable strides from its Nazi past, its "construction of socialism" was not to be. On the question of wimmin, there were even echoes of the Nazi past. Wimmin were taught to be passive, not ask men to dance, not start conversations and "'define the tone that reigns in the family.'" (Weitz, 1997, 378) All we can say in their defense is that the Germans had to come a long way to get as far as they did. One positive aspect of wimmin's compliance was that they were twice as likely as men to accept the piece-work plans of the party to restore the economy in 1947.(Kopstein, 1997, 29) While making huge steps in progress it is all evident from the womyn question alone why Germans were not ready or competent themselves to build socialism, and why MIM's strategy is correct.
Our critics would say rapes by Soviet troops, reparations and border questions with Poland killed the German communist movement from the beginning after World War II. This is not true. The SED won elections; wimmin joined the KPD (even while rapes by occupiers were going on) more than other parties and plenty of movements have had problems like the Polish border one. What we see is that Ulbricht and Pieck were able to take firm internationalist stands and support reparations and still obtain electoral victories. Without their firm stands on those questions plus expropriation of Nazis and land reform, the German population could not have started a process of self-transformation. As it was, the influence of Stalin and the communists extended to the west where the old class structure supporting Nazism also came under attack. At that time, the United $tates carried out radical land reform and liberation of wimmin in Japan as well. The greatest progress of the 20th century in Germany and Japan stemmed from the relative unity of great communists Stalin and Mao and the Western imperialists who agreed that fascist power did somehow stem from landlords and other old ruling classes that had to be broken up. As a result, a little known fact is that the Amerikan army was responsible for land expropriation with almost no compensation in Japan--the usual platform of the communists.
Of course, the Red Army victory in World War II created material conditions for the German people to get over their Nazism. It also laid the basis for many political opportunities and created the subjective will of many to unite with the communists to make sure Nazism never happened again. Nonetheless, despite the devastation of the war and the dire economic conditions, "re-proletarianization" was little in evidence. The German population continued to complain about reparations, land claims and much more. The subjective will to build a socialist Germany did not exist in a widespread way prior to the Red Army's seizing power in Germany and even well after. The Soviet occupation accomplished land reform and reparations that undercut the Nazis. Since the popular will for socialist construction did not exist with its own German "umph" it was crucial that the Red Army imposed land reform, a successful referendum for expropriation and reparations to the Soviet Union that laid the eventual basis for the German people's not looking down on others. In the future, to improve on such a result even more, MIM is going to favor opening the borders to immigrants instead of gradually sending more and more "foreigners" home, as happened with Soviet troops trickling back to the USSR during the occupation of Germany. Where possible, immigrant workers and tourist members of the national bourgeoisie of the Third World may serve as a basis for going further in transformation than eastern Germany did.
Kopstein, Jeffrey. The Politics of Economic Decline in East Germany, 1945-1989. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.
Krisch, Henry. German Politics under Soviet Occupation. NY: Columbia University Press, 1974.
Krisch looks at a popular question, the relationship of communists to social-democrats in Germany, except that he extended the question to the Soviet occupation of Germany's eastern zone after World War II.
Naimark, Norman M. The Russians in Germany: A History of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945-1949. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995.
Pike, David. The Politics of Culture in Soviet-Occupied Germany. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1992.
Sandford, Gregory W. From Hitler to Ulbricht: The Communist Reconstruction of East Germany 1945-46. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983. Sandford did a thorough job that clearly served as an outline for Naimark's subsequent work but without Naimark's odd Hoover Institute political agenda.
Vogt, Timothy R. Denazification in Soviet-Occupied Germany: Brandenberg 1945-1948. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000.
Weitz, Eric D. Creating German Communism, 1890-1990: From Popular Protests to Socialist State. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997.