These writings by Leon Trotsky on the rise of fascism in Germany aimed to change the course of the German Communist Party (KPD). With a correct policy, this party would have been able to stop the rise of National Socialism and prevent Hitler’s victory. The KPD’s criminal policies paralyzed the working class, permitting Hitler’s coming to power in January 1933.
Trotsky insisted that the victory of fascism in Germany was not inevitable. Hitler was able to come to power only after the mass socialist and communist parties had shown themselves to be politically bankrupt in the course of the entire period following the end of World War I. The passage of the radicalized petty bourgeoisie into the camp of fascism was not inevitable. Had the KPD fought the Nazis with a decisive and energetic policy and not with empty phrases, many of them would have joined its ranks. By rejecting a united front with the social democrats, by delivering ultimatum after ultimatum to the Social Democracy and—in some instances—working with the Nazis against them, the KPD pushed away the social democratic workers, who were very critical of their own SPD leaders. This paralyzed and demoralized the working class, paving the way for Hitler’s coming to power.
“It is absolutely correct to place on the Social Democrats the responsibility for the emergency legislation of Brüning as well as for the impending danger of fascist savagery. It is absolute balderdash to identify Social Democracy with fascism,” Trotsky wrote.
“An organization which was not roused by the thunder of fascism and which submits docilely to such outrageous acts of the bureaucracy demonstrates thereby that it is dead and that nothing can ever revive it. To say this openly and publicly is our direct duty toward the proletariat and its future. In all our subsequent work it is necessary to take as our point of departure the historical collapse of the official Communist International.”