Issued on Behalf of the I S K, Internationaler Sozialistischer Kampf-Bund
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The reports published in this pamphlet are, with a very few exceptions specially indicated, original accounts.
We wish to add that we constantly receive reports from Germany and other Nazi-occupied countries. We shall be glad to send them to those interested on request.
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A year ago we published, in this news-sheet, a comprehensive collection of reports on the situation inside Germany, France and Italy. At that time we summarised the German situation in the following conclusions:
We have investigated very carefully the question as to whether we can expect discontent with the regime to lead to an organised opposition and finally to open revolt.
To these questions we have received answers from many individuals, from Germans and non-Germans, living in various districts and belonging to different social classes. Naturally, the answers vary considerably. They do not only express a different social angle in the various cases, but they also show how difficult it is for an individual to collect sufficient facts and to have enough experience to warrant a general judgement. For this reason nearly every one of our reporters has warned us not to draw hasty general conclusions from his own views and observations.
All agree on the following statements:
1) The overwhelming majority of the German people are not, and never were, in favour of the war. Especially since America's entry into the war they fear a defeat and at any rate no longer reckon with Germany being able to dictate the peace.
2) The health of the German nation has been undermined by the constant strain of working long hours and by insufficient nourishment. The German working classes make the impression of being badly fed and suffering from many privations.
3) The feeling of "Volksgemeinschaft" (national community of interests), so far as it has existed at all, is dying out completely. Rumours are increasing about corruption in the ranks of high Nazi officials, especially in connection with the very frequent sentences against people dealing on the Black Market. As everyone knows these sentences are never directed against any of the big profiteers on the Black Market.
4) Great victories do not arouse the slightest enthusiasm, especially since people have realised that they do not lead to the conclusion of the war. The analogy with the previous war has become so obvious that people generally
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realise it; with some people this realisation determines - unconsciously - their whole conception of a possible end of the war.
5) Allied air attacks are very much dreaded. Not only do they take the horrors of the war to the German hinterland; but they also expose the former boasting of the Nazis concerning their alleged permanent air superiority. In this way they also weaken the effect of their present boasting, e.g. concerning the U-boat weapon. Furthermore, the air-raids also affect the morals of the population in a way, the importance of which should not be underrated: People in Germany say to themselves - "Not only shall we lose the war, but at the end of the war we shall not even have left our own few personal belongings".
6) The majority of the people have, in their hearts, completely broken with the Nazis. They are convinced that the regime will collapse, some reckon with a short, some with a longer period.
7) But few people have a really clear conception who and what could and should come in place of this regime. Many, especially those who never had a clear philosophy of life, live in absolute despair and apathy and do not take part in anything from inner conviction and of their own free will.
8) Nobody believes that the Nazi regime can be overthrown by an opposition movement from inside Germany. The organised power of the Gestapo and of the Waffen S.S. is overwhelming. This power must first be shaken by external events. Nearly all the reporters agree that a military collapse, clearly evident as such, is a prerequisite.
9) The few individuals who know what matters and who prepare themselves for "The Day", work extremely cautiously. The consequence of this is that some reporters have declared - quite convinced of the correctness of their statement - that there is no opposition in the Third Reich. But this only means that these reporters have not themselves come across the opposition movement, since every one of them admits that there are certain indications of its existence.
10) The activities of this opposition in some cases merely consist of keeping up old contacts, in other cases leaflets are published, whilst in others they go so far as to perpetrate acts of open sabotage. The most widespread form of sabotage is the "go slow", which, however, sometimes has very serious consequences. In this category also belongs the good contact of the German workers with their foreign workmates. All reports agree that in many cases this co-operation is excellent.
11) Ideas of being a "master race" are non-existent, at least as far as the German working class is concerned; the same applies to any more serious form of antisemitism.
12) It is essential for the strengthening of the real opposition in Germany and its eventual victory to encourage it by supplying it with material through
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the radio (news broadcasts), and by reports on the progress of liberty in the Allied countries. There is unanimous agreement that any toying with the idea of peace with Hitler or with some of his less compromised generals and industrialists would be a mortal blow for a genuine and progressive opposition which could present an alternative to the present regime.
13) It is necessary to develop clear directives and plans. These should by no means acquit the German people of its share of responsibility for Hitler's rise to power; but they should show how a new Germany, having radically defeated Hitler and his gangster band, could become a member in the society of free and equal nations.
To-day we need only to add that nearly every one of these 13 points has been corroborated by further facts and arguments. The victories of the Nazis did not create enthusiasm amongst the German people - how much less enthusiasm will they now feel in view of the subsequent defeats? Since October 1942 air-raids have become incomparably worse. The hatred against the N.S.D.A.P. has increased. Depression, anger and despair have become intensified.
At the same time, however, the uncertainty as to what is to happen to Germany has increased, and thus the hopelessness of the mass of the people. The terror has also been intensified.
The more urgent therefore has become the appeal of those who have never ceased to fight against fascism by means of active and passive resistance. The following collection of reports should help to awaken understanding for the conditions of this fight and to mobilise assistance for it.
20th January, 1944
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The following description of the situation in the Third Reich is based on reports by eye-witnesses. It was written at the end of September 1942, that is to say before the conferences at Teheran and Cairo. The reader will find that the situation of the German workers is mentioned only in one sentence which is, however, of special importance. It indicates that a favourable basis has been created for a workers' revolt by the fact that foreign workers and German workers are co-operating regardless of national differences. This has happened in spite of great efforts of the Nazis to stir up hatred against the foreigners.
"What is happening in Germany to-day? It is obvious that the N.S.D.A.P. has succeeded once more in consolidating its ranks. This process has been assisted by the realisation among the party officials that once they lose their nerve, their fate and that of the party will be sealed. In cases where this realisation has not been sufficient, it has been reinforced by the terror of the S.S., intensified beyond all imagination. To-day the Party is again the back-bone of the German Home Front. And it cannot be denied that under its leadership real miracles of organisation have been achieved. This applies especially to the way the psychological and material damage of the air raids has been dealt with.
The slogan `Defeat for Germany Means the Destruction of the German Nation' still dominates the minds of the people. This means that, as long as there is the slightest chance that there is any sense in continuing the war in the hope of a split in the Allied Front, the argument of the Nazis in favour of carrying on will fall on fertile soil. Of course, where it encounters scepticism, the S.S. and the Gestapo intervene at once.
But all this is not of primary importance to-day. What is more important is the fact that everywhere the same questions are being discussed: Is it possible and desirable to come to terms with the Russians? Or is there still a way open to make peace in the West?
Of course we must distinguish here between the official propaganda which encourages and even stimulates such questions and independent forces tending in that direction. But even if such slogans are only the product of an officially inspired whispering campaign, they are still worth noticing as symptoms of the internal situation in Germany. If, however, we seek the real factors that may decide an orientation towards the East or the West, or to find out whether a considerable part of the population is seriously considering these alternatives at all, we are only groping in the dark. Nevertheless, some things are obvious. It is certain, for instance, that all who are in opposition to the Nazis are
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looking to the West. Here and there timid, despairing feelers are stretching out. But with what positive aims? It seems as if the fear of the bolshevisation of Germany or of Europe, or the fear of an alliance between the Nazis and the Russians, is the only clear political conviction these people have. Apart from this negative idea, these people have some sort of hankering after the surviving elements of the good old bourgeois traditions, or after a religious life. But nowhere, even in the military circles which tend in this direction, do we find a programme likely to be either workable or attractive to the Anglo-Saxon world.
There can be no doubt that during recent weeks we have seen an increased willingness on the part of extreme Nazis to come to terms with the Russians. It is not sure whether these Nazis contemplate giving up part of the Nazi-ideology or even sacrificing Hitler and other `leaders'. It is, of course, not impossible that the Nazis are trying to bluff the Anglo-Saxons and their Allies by the elaborate trick of speaking and acting and creating an atmosphere favourable to the Moscow Free German Committee. Certain indications indeed support this interpretation.
In the meantime people are genuinely becoming more radical and nihilistic. The best the Nazis can do is to attempt to keep up with this tendency so as to make capital out of it. The animosity shown against anyone who wears good clothes or appears in any other way to be living in comfort suggests the possibility of tremendous changes in the future. This hatred disregards national differences. In common misery Germans fraternise with foreigners and the Party has a hard job stirring up bitterness everywhere against the `soldiers of labour' from the subjugated countries. What a chance for a new `Spartacus'!
The bourgeoisie, in contrast, are looking back with sad or passionate regrets on the things they have lost: family life, their professions, culture, all their possessions. The only other power apart from the enigmatical Wehrmacht is in the hands of a few undeniable `plutocrats'. At the moment the whole set-up is held together by an intricate network of party officials. Everything is controlled by the terror. But a tremendous internal and external corruption is already undermining the whole structure. Many are thinking of nothing but saving their own skins when the catastrophe comes. Innumerable soldiers on `French leave' are leading an adventurous life in the ruins of the towns taking advantage of the fact that civil order too is in ruins and their identity papers and files have been lost."
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As far as we know the following is the first authentic eye-witness account of the events in Munich University that resulted in the execution of a number of German students. We have suppressed certain particulars, publication of which might endanger people still in Germany.
"Last January the Gauleiter delivered a speech to the students in which he called on the young men who enjoyed the privilege of being exempted from military service for a certain time to act as political soldiers on the home front; he attacked the young women who were present, accusing them of having joined Munich University only as a means of avoiding compulsory labour. During this attack he was hissed at and interrupted by the students. Students of both sexes then walked out of the room voicing protests and left the Gauleiter to continue his speech before a reduced audience.
Some of the young women were arrested. Whereon large numbers of students organised demonstrations shouting out, "We want our women back again ... ". During the course of the day the young women were released. The story of this incident spread all over Munich, and the people laughed over the misfortune of the Gauleiter. The students were proud of this demonstration, rather like schoolchildren who have played a trick on their teacher. The Party executive, it appears, criticised the Gauleiter for having acted in a stupid and clumsy manner.
This demonstration during the Gauleiter's speech was however not simply the outcome of a spontaneous wave of indignation. Amongst the students there was a more or less literary circle which sought inspiration (doubtless because they desired an ideological basis which differed from the theoretical platitudes of the Party ideology) from the study of a school of French philosophy. The male students had nearly all been to the front and had been discharged so that they could continue their medical studies. The students came together regularly to read the works of these writers and they were joined by some other people who had been connected with the Catholic Review Hochland when it still existed. A former student of Munich University called X, a Catholic who still lives at Munich, and a professor of philosophy named Huber, also a Catholic, took part in these meetings and enlivened them with their views. Our informant was on one occasion invited by a student to take part in one of the meetings.
At this meeting our informant made the acquaintance of Scholl. Scholl made a very intelligent contribution to the discussion; he had a good knowledge of the subject under discussion. Our informant was asked to prepare for a later meeting a review of a certain book. He accepted and was very much impressed by the atmosphere and the level of discussion, although they did not openly attack the regime, he felt during these discussions a marked intellectual opposition and a sincere effort to discover a new philosophy of life. At one of these meetings he was introduced to X. and Huber. The latter did not mince his words;
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he violently protested against the persecution of the Catholics and said that it was better for hundreds of Catholics to get themselves shot by affirming their opposition to the regime than that they should keep silent. This would arouse a big scandal and would produce reactions which would make the situation clear in the eyes of the rest of the world. Our informant said that Huber had a nature which inclined towards martyrdom. Scholl and Schmorel were friends of X. and Huber.
"One morning", our informant continues, "whilst on my way to the university I noticed that the words `Freedom' and `Down with Hitler' were inscribed in large red lettering on its walls. They remained there until 11 o'clock. This aroused tremendous excitement amongst the students and in the town as a whole. Everybody was talking about it. For three weeks these inscriptions continued to be put up at irregular intervals, but at daybreak they were immediately obliterated by the police and during the morning painters were at work removing all traces. Even to-day one can still see where the painters did their work. During the same period similar inscriptions were put up in Innsbruck. I do not know who was responsible for these inscriptions. I do not think that it was done by the students whom I met in the discussion groups mentioned above.
One morning about eleven o'clock a shower of leaflets was thrown down from a floor above into the assembly hall of the University of Munich and this was done just as the students were coming from their lectures. I picked up one and glanced at it but when I saw what it was all about I threw it down again. Unfortunately, I cannot recall the contents of the pamphlet exactly enough to be able to give you an extract. These leaflets were duplicated. They caused wild excitement amongst the students. The Rector closed the university gates and called in the Gestapo. Many of the students were searched and also all the buildings. Scholl and his sister made no attempt to conceal that the guilt was theirs. I saw them being taken away by the Gestapo. I remember very well the look of the face of Scholl's sister at the moment when she was taken away by the Gestapo; when her glance met mine, her expression was one of mingled fear and pride. Another student called Probst was also taken away. At two o clock the doors were reopened and the students were allowed to go, on presentation of their identification papers to the Gestapo. The next day the students heard that the three who were arrested had been shot. Naturally this incident caused an immense stir amongst the students and throughout the whole city of Munich. The Gestapo started a big enquiry and many people were arrested especially amongst the students. Some of them were very soon released again. It is certain that the Gestapo found out about the existence of the literary circle which was mentioned above. Huber was also arrested. Notices were published in the newspapers referring to Schmorel (a friend of Scholl) stating that the detective force were in search of a criminal and offering a reward to any person or persons who helped to secure his arrest. Schmorel was actually trying to escape, but only three weeks later he was arrested. It is interesting to note that Schmorel's crime was not mentioned in the newspapers and that there was no reference to the Gestapo but only to the detective force. Schmorel's friends had hoped that he would succeed in escaping abroad.
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A few weeks after these occurrences a trial took place in which Huber, Graf (a student) and some others were sentenced to death; other students were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. I do not think that Huber knew about the actions (the inscriptions on the walls of the university and the leaflets) carried out by Scholl and his friends. It is very likely that the Gestapo, sensing that there existed a centre of resistance inside the university, were looking for the man who provided the intellectual inspiration. Huber's name was most probably mentioned during the interrogation of the students.
I think that Scholl and his friends were convinced of the necessity of taking some action to show that people existed with the courage to be in disagreement with the Party. I am even of the opinion that Scholl and his friends did not plan their actions according to the rules of illegal work. For one thing they had no experience of such work. It is also most likely that they believed they had to sacrifice themselves for their cause. I do not think that Scholl and his friends had any contact with working class circles. At least such connections were never mentioned during the discussions I had with them. It is an interesting fact that when he was sixteen Scholl occupied an important position in the Hitler youth.
It is an interesting fact that in June of this year small leaflets were being passed from hand to hand in the university of Munich, the gist of the contents being: `Do not forget Scholl and his friends, they died for your sake.' Thus it is clear that the Gestapo did not succeed in completely destroying this core of resistance.
Legends have grown up throughout Germany around these occurrences amongst the students of Munich. All these legends were favourable to Scholl and his friends and made heroes out of them. They fell on favourable soil and broke the silence which had seemed interminable. The action of Scholl and his friends expressed what thousands of people are feeling at the present time."
The following views on the situation in Germany were expressed by a German factory director in November 1943, in answer to a number of questions we put to him. We are reproducing them without any alteration.
Q.: "Has the mood of the German people changed since our last conversation in July 1943?"
A.: "It is even more difficult now than at that time to talk about the general mood of the German people as we can express our real thoughts and feelings only to our closest friends. And as my friends have almost the same social
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background as myself and share my interests I can only talk about my own mood. As to myself, if I had a position of influence, I would be in favour of instant unconditional surrender."
Q.: "Did you notice signs of sabotage in Germany, especially sabotage likely to shorten the war?"
Q.: "As you are convinced of the defeat of Germany don't you want to do everything to shorten the war? Don't you consider renewed counter-offensives a senseless sacrifice of men and material?"
A.: "I can't do anything about it. I can't do sabotage; if our people at the front have not sufficient ammunition they will just be mown down."
Q.: "But they can also retreat if they lack ammunition."
A.: "Yes, but for a retreat they need oil and vehicles and if we at home sabotage they won't have those either."
Q.: "But they could let themselves be taken prisoners."
A.: "The war in the East is waged with such ferocity that hardly any prisoners are taken."
Q.: "Do you think that the Russians treat prisoners well or badly?"
A.: "I do not think they shoot them. But I cannot let our chaps at the front down, no, that I cannot do."
Q.: "Are there many people who believe in a defeat?"
A.: "Yes, but none of them can do anything about it. Only the military could act, and if they won't - what I consider most likely - then no change is to be expected before a military collapse. None of the Nazis will leave the scene voluntarily, on the contrary: when they realise that everything is lost, they will act like trapped gangsters and defend themselves with machine guns to the last house. They will destroy beforehand all they can."
Q.: "You said that the military will probably not do anything. What brings you to that conclusion?"
A.: "Soldiers on leave are amazingly confident. Great sectors of the front are quiet, and I did not speak to any soldiers on leave who had just experienced a major defeat. Soldiers on leave are convinced that the retreats according to plan are real successes and that the enemy will not succeed in breaking through decisively. Everybody is speaking of the imminent reprisal raids against Britain. An engineer, a party member, was convinced that these raids will be followed by an invasion of England. I myself consider that as impossible, it is not feasible, not even as the last desperate act."
Q.: "What was the reaction to the loss of the Ukraine which had been considered as vital for Germany?"
A.: "As an answer, the Ministry of Propaganda increased the rations of white bread."
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Q.: "But that is an illogical measure."
A.: "That does not matter. All measures of the Ministry of Propaganda are changed like whims every day."
Q.: "Do you think that Goebbels believes in his own statements?"
A.: "No, but I think that Hitler believes in what he says himself. Needless to say that I consider him insane."
Q.: "How did people take the loss of Kiev?"
A.: "The papers never spoke of a loss. Firstly, who in Germany knows where Kiev is? At any rate it is far away from the German frontier. Secondly people do not know whether it is a big and modern town and whether it is important from a military point of view. The papers do not publish any maps about the front. People heard that heavy fighting was in progress in the Kiev sector. For some time the papers reported about fighting east of Kiev and then west of Kiev. At the end people were pleased to hear that the German troops succeeded in completely destroying the town and in taking up - according to plan and almost without being noticed and without losses - new and much more favourable positions. In defence of my fellow-countrymen I must add, however, that there are a number of working-class people with a sound judgment who for a long time have ceased to believe that everything is going `according to plan'.
Q.: "Did you see Mannheim?"
A.: "Yes. The town is completely destroyed, mostly through fires. Not only residential districts are destroyed but industrial plants, too, are badly damaged. Amongst others the Lanz-works, Rheinische Gummi, Stotz, Daimler-Benz, Voegele, Brown-Bowery. In the case of the Brown-Bowery works the offices and administrative buildings were destroyed, whereas work could be continued in the workshops."
Q.: "Were valuable plans and drawings destroyed together with the offices?"
A.: "Yes, but there were several under copies of them which were kept in different places."
Q.: "Did the civilian population suffer heavy losses in Mannheim?"
A.: "No, Mannheim had the highest number of air-raid shelters. These public shelters held about 120.000 persons. A week ago Dr. Ley spoke in Mannheim. The people of Mannheim were asked to help one day in the clearing up of Mannheim. As a reward the people who volunteered would be allowed to enter their names in a special `Ehrenbuch der Arbeit' (Labour's book of honour)."
Q.: "Were there many volunteers?"
A.: "Yes, out of 3,000 workers of a factory I knew 700 workers turned up. I had the impression that these people came voluntarily."
Q.: "Have you heard exact reports from Hamburg?"
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A.: "Yes, I spoke to several people from Hamburg. I also saw some photos which were dropped from British aeroplanes. The pictures were very clear. I was amazed to see from the shadow that some church spires were still standing e.g. the spire of the Petrikirche. Conservative estimates of the material damage in Hamburg were attempted. Such estimates are, of course, very difficult to make. It is believed that the damage amounts to about 50 billion Mark.
Q.: "The number of fatal casualties varies between thirty thousand and two hundred thousand. What do you consider the correct figure?"
A.: "I think there were 80.000 dead in Hamburg. It is very hard to say because a high wall was built around some districts, like Hamm for instance, and no clearing up was done in those districts."
Q.: "Don't these raids offer a good opportunity for illegal political work? After such raids one can pretend to have lost one's identity papers or secure the papers of those killed in the raid."
A.: "That is not so simple. First one needs identity papers to get ration cards. Secondly there are always people who would recognise persons who are trying to live under a different name and there is the ever present danger of denunciations."
Q.: "Yes, but people are being evacuated to totally different districts!"
A.: "Yes, but one district of a town is always evacuated together, so that people will know each other."
Q.: "Have you noticed any change since Himmler has become Minister of Interior?"
A.: "Yes. Executions have increased."
Q.: "What do you think of the new decree that children of twelve can be executed because in wartime young people mature earlier?"
A.: "This is similar to the type of crimes the S.S. perpetrates in occupied countries."
Q.: "Did you notice or did you hear that a considerable number of S.S.-units were called back from the front and stationed in the hinterland?"
A.: "I have only heard of a considerable concentration of S.S.-units near Vienna."
Q.: "Does your firm employ foreign workers? What is the proportion of foreign and German workers?"
A.: "We have foreign workers; there is one German worker to thirty foreign workers. We are satisfied with their work. The workers are treated well, they generally earn more than in their own countries and can send part of their wages to their families. The foreign workers are well fed; they get the extra rations for the highest category of heavy workers."
Q.: "Did the behaviour of the Italian workers change after the collapse of Italy?"
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A.: "No. They did not do any work before the collapse either."
Q.: "What is the general opinion concerning the Free German Committee in Moscow?"
A.: "Well, only few people in Germany know about it. The papers did not report much about it."
Q.: "But people are listening in to foreign broadcasts?"
A.: "Certainly. But the number of those who are listening in must not be overrated. I think that the Free German Committee is purely a propaganda affair of the Russians."
Q.: "What are the views on political reconstruction in Germany after the defeat?"
A.: "The people did not think politically before 1933, which was a mistake. Since 1933 they have ceased more or less to think independently. Furthermore, everybody is weighed down to-day by their personal material worries. These worries concern the securing of food, bombing damage of flats and factories, casualties in the family, exhaustion through long working hours, and bad state of nerves. In view of all these troubles how should anyone think of the political problems of to-morrow? People who in peace time had slight stomach troubles or bilious attacks are to-day seriously ill as a consequence of their bad state of nerves. I have a friend who is manager of a yeast factory. It often happens that he has to stay on duty for 24 hours on a stretch. I think myself if chaos sets in, in Germany communism will come straight away. The whole intelligentsia will then be shot down. Where will the Russians stop? On the Elbe, on the Rhine, or not until they have reached the Atlantic? It will be terrible in Germany if the Russians do the same in Germany as we have done in their country. I would willingly offer my house to the British or Americans as Headquarters. But they won't start their Second Front until the Russians and the Germans have decimated one another to such an extent that a second front will no longer be a great risk."
Q.: "Did you notice any signs of opposition?"
A.: "No. None whatsoever."
Q.: "Did you hear that in Stuttgart women were shot who had taken part in a demonstration?"
Q.: "Do you think that such demonstrations and such measures are possible?"
A.: "Yes, I think they are possible, but it is very difficult to get to know about events in another town if one does not happen to be present."
Q.: "Do you think that after the war there will be a socialist order in Germany?"
A.: "Yes, I think so. A free democracy in Germany does not yet seem practicable, the people lack the necessary maturity for that."
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A young foreigner who had lived in Germany for many years and is still in contact with people inside Germany wrote at the beginning of October:
"Your questions are at hand and I shall try to answer them; with some facts I am not familiar enough to answer your questions, as you will see. The question regarding the strength of the opposition is one in which the German government itself is chiefly interested. The government tries to squash the opposition wherever it attempts to raise its head, and the methods it employs in doing so is of decisive importance in gauging the chances of the opposition at the present juncture. I start with this, because this seems to me the key to many questions which start: `How is it possible?'
I want to deal with the S.D. (Sicherheitsdienst - Security Service). Its former leader was Heydrich, its present leader is Himmler. It is divided up in Gaue (districts). In every Gau there is an S.D. headquarter. Its collaborators are people from all spheres of public life. In all factories, organisations, offices, in short everywhere where people come together there are its agents, generally unknown, who submit a weekly report on the general mood and views to the head of the S.D. department concerned. The head of the department sifts the material coming from the whole district (e.g. from schools, engineering firms, churches etc.) and works out a resume for the S.D.-leader. The S.D. -departmental heads go once a week (it used to be a Friday) to Himmler to give their report personally. From there the material is being distributed amongst the various ministries; e.g. reactions to changes and shortcomings in the transport system are reported to the Ministry of Transport, impressions and effects created by speeches to the Ministry of Propaganda, etc. Penal matters are transferred to the Gestapo, for the S.D. never comes out in public. Many people do not even know of its existance as its officials wear civvies. When Hitler did not make his expected speech people were wondering and the morale deteriorated. Thereupon the S.D. urged Hitler to make a speech, to deal with certain points and to make certain statements. - The S.D. is a good barometer which registers almost every change. Even during war-time it always has the necessary staff. The S.D includes countries abroad in its activities, not only as far as Germans are concerned, but it deals also with every type of espionage, counter espionage etc.
Does the middle class still exist? This question I must answer in the negative. What remained of the bourgeoisie has become proletarian. The small shops were closed because they could not pay their tax, or
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because labour was wanted for the armament industry, or because there were no more goods to sell, or because the men were called up, or because they were destroyed by air-raids. That means that the men are at present in the army or employed in industry, the women too are called up or are drafted into all kinds or organisations.
The soldiers have a special position. They are heroes, they obviously bear the heaviest burden of the war. Every State or Party official trembles when he sees a soldier who fought at the front, because all these officials are somehow regarded as shirkers. The soldier on leave bangs his fist and gets what he wants.
The longer the war lasts, the greater will be the desire for peace at any price. The opposition is united in two aims: -
1. Destruction of the Nazis. 2. Avoidance of anarchy. Apart from these two aims views differ. Before and during the war individuals develop oppositional tendencies on such occasions when State interference in their rights, habits, leisure time, family life, trade or profession, residence etc. seemed to them intolerable. That happens at different occasions with different people. Women e.g. get angry after two years of war when some of their sheets are being requisitioned (perhaps they were used during the winter campaign for camouflage). Generally there are small matters which upset people; not the rationing, shortage of clothes, the calling up, but much smaller things of every day life, which can not be explained away even by the greatest propaganda effort; (e.g. that a broken jug cannot be replaced). All these discontented people, those for small and those for big reasons, would like to back up an oppositional movement if one existed. But they know everything is `gleichgeschaltet', everything is totalitarian. In the factories there is an opposition, but it is not organised and its aim is vague. People do not care whether this opposition consists of socialdemocrats, communists or of people who are against the regime for religious reasons. It is an opposition, shades are non-existent, they don't matter. If the workers consider the question of `what after?', they think of a socialist state, they are against every kind of totalitarianism, military dictatorship, monarchy or capitalism.
The Catholic Church was always a strong oppositional force. Its opposition was strengthened through the fact that the Government has put difficulties in the way of religious instruction in the schools and has partly prohibited it and that it has dissolved convents and monasteries. The Catholic Church is fighting for freedom of religion. The Protestant opposition is disunited. There was always an opposition amongst the officers, to-day this opposition is probably quite considerable. As far back as 1937 a colonel said to me one should co-operate with the British to destroy the Nazis. Unfortunately, the British had then just the opposite interest.
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There is certainly a very strong desire to get the old trade unions back. The `Arbeitsfront' (Labour Front) is a façade which one day will disappear without leaving any trace.
Hielscher, Strasser, Scheringer are forgotten, nowhere did I see signs of a movement which might be started by their former supporters. Juenger, too, has completely receded in the background.
The crisis in industry started with the transport problem which was really catastrophic and which frustrated a lot of high-flung plans."
The following are translations of leaflets which have been distributed in Germany:
1. "The soldier at the front and the whole German people demand Peace. We can get Peace when we make an end of the rule of the Nazis and the Generals."
2. "German fellow-countrymen! The number of bombed-out people increases in Germany. Therefore, end the war! Down with Hitler and his Generals!"
3. "Ley promises you new homes! Workers, be on your guard! They won't be homes but rabbit-hutches. Don't be taken in, this is just another fraud like that of the `people's car'.
You will get good homes from the future Socialist People's Government!"
4. "Workers! Do not be afraid of the terror of the Nazi-boss Himmler and his Gestapo-bandits. To-day you are fighting at the front against your brothers! The Gestapo criminals are not your friends but your enemies. Therefore, fight against fascism!"
5. "In the Russian Free German Committee there is a von Seydlitz, a Buelow etc. All big Junkers who supported Hitler and milked the former German Republic of millions of Marks. They want to shorten the war now in order to recover their old power positions. Therefore, open your eyes! Put your faith solely in a Socialist Republic!"
Other leaflets which were signed by the Moscow Free German Committee asked the German people to overthrow Hitler and to form a German People's army to safeguard the integrity of Germany. These leaflets were distributed in Berlin.
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According to the views of one of our informants invading "enemy" troops can reckon with the effective support of the German working class population.
"They will at once collaborate with foreign troops, whether British, American or Russian. If the British and Americans do not come soon the Russians will probably be the first to occupy Germany. But as people are of the opinion that the British and Americans will be in a better position to prevent chaos and anarchy and to preserve law and order, they would prefer an occupation of Germany by the Anglo-Saxons to an occupation by the Russians. People are afraid that in the case of a Russian occupation of Germany a Bolshevik revolution might take place. It is not considered impossible that one day German divisions at the Eastern Front will mutiny and will march into Germany together with the Russians to establish a Bolshevik regime. I am, however, of the opinion that the next probable development will be a military dictatorship which will replace the Nazi regime. This prospect arouses no enthusiasm. But as a consequence of the terrible sufferings which the German people has had to undergo, they are prepared to accept anything which promises salvation from these tortures and liberation from the Nazi regime which has thrown the German people into war with all its catastrophic results. Therefore the German people will immediately become the ally of any one who can re-establish its freedom. I consider it quite an important question, which foreign troops will first invade and occupy the country.
Parties of all descriptions are mistrusted. People say that in former times there were enough parties and none of them fulfilled the peoples' hopes. Besides, the fratricidal conflicts and the disunity of the workers helped Hitler get into power. To-day people want peace and the overthrow of the Nazi-regime but they desire above all a revolutionary change of social and economic conditions, active participation of the workers in economic and political matters and the nationalisation of the means of production.
Left wing circles know about the Free German Committee in Moscow and welcome it.
The communists are mistrusted and their prestige is low, mainly because of their former record. They are held responsible for the disunity of the German working class and their attitude is criticized as having helped Hitler into power. People cannot forget that in former times during strikes they were picketing together with the Nazis and that on some occasions they made common cause with the Nazis.
People reckon that Germany will be occupied. They would prefer an occupation by the Americans who would enjoy the sympathy of the population more than any of the other Allies.
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People would have most confidence in an administration which would consist of anti-Nazis, mainly workers.
The Nazi-regime is thought to have made certain improvements. Considerable improvements in the sanitary conditions were made in the factories. And working conditions, too, were improved in some respects.
There is a good relationship between the civilian population and the soldiers. In contrast to that, tension existed for a long time between the population and party officials.
Hitler's prestige has greatly suffered, specially with soldiers of the higher age groups. But most of the young soldiers are still fanatical supporters of Hitler.
The German soldiers are little or not at all informed of what is happening in other sectors of the front."
Air-raids, lack of food and the deep conviction that the Nazi regime has forced the German people into a war that is now lost have all dealt a serious blow to the morale of the German people. Certain symptoms have appeared. They cannot clearly be distinguished one from another when reporting about the condition of the German people. They range from general low spirits to complete war weariness, constant grumbling, intentional and unintentional sabotage that can take either an active or a passive form. All these things may be the action of people who simply want to see the war over and do what they can to hasten the process. But people are also active who fight against the regime out of political conviction. These things are usually mixed up in the reports which reach us and we therefore ask our readers to be cautious in drawing conclusions as to the causes for certain happenings in the Third Reich and in attributing them to this or that mood of the German people. Such caution is necessary when reading, for instance, the following report from Dresden:
"In a factory in Dresden which manufactured optical instruments for the Air Force and for submarines and which employed 3,000 workers, about half of the total production finishes up on the scrap heap, the reason partly being the inferior quality of the raw materials and partly sabotage of transport and of production.
The same thing happens in the big Zeiss-Ikon works which employ about 12,000 workers. The workers are thought to produce nowadays in twelve hours as much as they used to produce before the war in six. Production is also gravely hampered because of the delay in deliveries caused by bombardment and because of the workers' inadequate state of nutrition."
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To improve the morale of the German people Goebbels has spread certain rumours. The following report is typical:
"Apparently Goebbels has started the following rumour: `The fact that during a big bombardment a large factory with international financial connections was not hit is due to the international solidarity of the plutocrats.' This rumour was intended to counteract the obvious sympathies of the workers for the Anglo-Saxons. Allied broadcasts should give an adequate reply to such propaganda."
The following notes dealt with German morale as described in various reports.
"The working class population is getting more and more anxious to get peace at any price. Because of the physical and moral exhaustion and the terror which has been doubled in strength this desire cannot yet find open expression. The number of those who listen to the London radio is increasing and so is their confidence in the broadcasts. The masses do not believe the official propaganda any longer. The general conviction prevails that the war has been lost."
"Civilian morale is at a lower level than the morale of the troops. Soldiers on leave do not remain unaffected. The fall of Mussolini had a worse effect upon the regime than all the previous military defeats had. It gave rise to great expectations amongst the people who hope that something similar will soon happen in Germany. A number of rumours were afloat; one was to the effect that Goering had fled to Sweden. There were a lot of similar rumours, all about people high up in the regime."
A number of reports written at the end of November 1943, dealt with the mood of the people. We reproduce them in the form we received them without adding any comments:
"Morale goes down and down. During recent months this has evidently affected the soldiers at the front too. Some soldiers on leave think that the retreats are partly due to the decline in fighting morale. One soldier even said that during the retreat of his unit the officers had encouraged them to go back at an ever increasing pace; the officers too are so sick and tired of the whole war that they are even prepared to use weapons against those young `idealists' who still try to stop the retreat.
The people reckon that a complete collapse of the Eastern Front will soon take place. Some people even hope that German and Russian troops will march into Germany together to overthrow the Nazi-regime. On the other hand such a prospect rouses fear, too: Firstly, because a Bolshevik regime would not be welcome, secondly because the people fear that the Russians will take revenge for the cruelties of the German soldiers in Russia."
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"Soldiers on leave are fairly reticent. But apparently their relations with the civilian population are better than they used to be in former times. Great difficulties are created by soldiers on leave who find their families and homes destroyed.
There are numerous reports of soldiers refusing to go back to the front. It is reported that the prison in Strasbourg is overcrowded with such deserters. At the end of October we got a report that in one village in Lorraine alone nine executions had taken place - all nine were soldiers who refused to go back to the front. These executions have roused great indignation throughout the population."
The following is an extract from a report concerning conditions in the army, the organisation Todt and the Labour Service.
"The number of German deserters from the Labour Service and the Army has increased; so has the number of prisoners and deportees who have escaped from camps and factories. They receive help from the civilian population and can easily find hiding places in towns and in the country. This is facilitated by the chaos due to the air-raids. Confidential circulars were issued to the German police instructing them how to deal with `fugitives'. In some districts a farmers' guard has been set up to arrest people trying to escape. These farmers' units get their instructions from the police, but as most of them are in sympathy with the fugitives the results of their efforts have so far been negligible."
"The threat of the secret weapon is taken very seriously by serious people in the Third Reich; they reckon that it will be used and create great devastation but will not alter the course of the war.
A man born in 1889 has just received his papers to undergo medical examination for military services.
Hitler's prestige amongst the soldiers has suffered tremendously - he is blamed for the strategical blunders."
"A girl from Vienna wrote to her relations in X:
'N. is here on leave. His friends A. and B. have urged him not to return to the front - because the war is lost and will soon end.'
A woman wrote to her friend:
'I am very busy with A.R.P.-duties. - I have to be. The other day I even got a medal from the Fuehrer (or was it a bribe?). At any rate I do not wear it; that would only get me into difficulties with the people'."
To these remarks our informant added:
"The censors are evidently in agreement with these sentiments. Or they
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have no time to read all these things, they just test the letters for invisible ink and have done with them. Complaints about the trouble caused by bombed-out evacuees, about the monotony and wretchedness of life count amongst the most harmless remarks in such letters."
"Bombing is one of the main causes for the decline of morale. The setbacks in Russia and Italy have of course also a big effect, firstly because they have undermined the belief in the military genius of Hitler and his generals and have shaken the conviction that on land German superiority cannot be challenged. - But what happens at the front is not so obvious to people as the misery at home caused by the air-raids.
There is certainly some truth in the remark an old German trade unionist has recently made: `Only the destroyed homes bring people to their senses'. They make comparisons between Goering's promises and their present ordeals. The feeling that they are not safe anywhere ruins their nerves. At the beginning of September a woman of Hannover and her daughter went to Strasbourg to be safe from air-raids - and a few days after her arrival Strasbourg had a raid. The stories of such experiences spread amongst the people and discourage them from evacuating.
Destroyed homes are not the only damage: A starving queue stood in the streets of Munich and had to watch a black, slimy liquid flowing slowly through the streets. This liquid was a result of the bombing of the central market buildings where big quantities of eggs, butter, fats, oil and frozen meat were stored.
People who have suffered damage get a money compensation. But 2,000 marks do not go far, besides only the most urgent necessities of life are available. Textiles are reserved for bombed out people, but there is not much they can buy."
"I spoke to somebody who has been in Cologne. At first he got the impression that the town had not suffered too badly. But in going through the streets he saw that in many cases only the fronts of the houses were standing and the backs were completely destroyed. Many factories too were destroyed.
Statements concerning the effect of bombing are generally very contradictory. Some reports say that mainly residential quarters were hit and the most important armament works were not affected. Other reports admit that factories too were badly damaged. Very many factories in Mainz and Frankfurt are said to have been completely destroyed. Reports that industrial plants were not hit are at least partly issued by the Nazis themselves, to direct the wrath of the people against the `plutocrats'.
"What makes people specially nervous is the fact that even good air-raid shelters often do not offer any protection. We were told that 4,000 people sheltering in the cellar of the big Karstadt-building in Hamburg were completely buried.
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Evacuation causes many problems: It is said that big buildings in Berlin were not saved because all the residents were evacuated and there was nobody there to put out a small fire at the start.
As the billeting of evacuees naturally caused great difficulties, many of them returned after a short time preferring the danger at home to the conditions in the reception areas. At first the authorities made some attempts to stop people from returning - which naturally caused great transport and administrative difficulties - by refusing to give them their ration cards. But they could not keep that up because the number of those returning was too big."
"It is reported from Berlin that the industrial districts in the North and the South have suffered most, for instance the cable-works. These reports say that although the residential quarters around the factories had suffered, too, the industrial plants were hit with remarkable accuracy.
We hear again and again how brutally air-raid police and S.D. deal with people who are excited by the destruction into making critical remarks about the Nazis."
"Mrs. X. and I were very much looking forward this year to our holidays which we wanted to spend at my own house in the Lueneburger Heide. But we had hardly arrived there when the catastrophe in Hamburg took place. The nights were terrible; the sky was ablaze and the house shook and trembled as the bombs exploded in the distance. During the day a black smoke screen covered the horizon and cinders were blown even as far as our house; the smell of burning polluted the air in the evening. Fourteen friends of ours from Hamburg soon arrived at our place, having fled from that unfortunate city. Although I was pleased to give accommodation to these unhappy people, I found it very difficult because I had only beds, linen and crockery for six people - and sixteen is quite a lot more. The noise and turmoil were really awful, so that before long Mrs. X. and I went away and left the house to our guests.
It is now my third year without a real holiday and without quiet relaxation. It is not easy. You will find it hard to picture how monotonous life is here. There are no more books - at least we cannot get any here, - no journals, no human intercourse except in so far as we hear people complaining and speaking of their sorrows and misfortune. One cannot go on rambles because it is impossible to either get put up or to get food. It is impossible to go to concerts or theatres because one does not get any tickets. To get a cabin in a winning bath one has to wait for ages. The mountains which I once found so beautiful are now to me like the gigantic walls of a prison. Of course, compared with other people, we are still very fortunate. Our home
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is not burnt down yet, and we have still got some clothes. We have still a tiny fire in our stove to cook our own potatoes. In the evening we are not forced to wander into the woods to seek shelter under the trees. But I am convinced that these blessings of civilisation which are now enjoyed by the people of Hamburg, the Rhineland and elsewhere will soon reach us here, too. You have probably heard that M.R. has lost everything, and what is still worse, that she does not know what happened to her old mother in Hamburg. My sister has still got her flat, though it is without windows, without doors, without a ceiling, and stands in the midst of a devastated district that is still burning and smouldering."
A report dated from end of October gave the following facts:
"The German workers are becoming more and more convinced that the Nazi-regime is responsible for the catastrophe which has befallen the German people. The question is now fairly commonly asked:
'What can we do to end the war?' And this question leads directly to the answer: `The only way to salvation is an immediate weakening of the German war effort by all means available!'
Different people are using different means to that end.
In gauging the extent of sabotage in Germany it is important to realise that everyone who tries sabotage, tries to disguise his activities as accidents or as misunderstanding of orders. As the German war machine is over-organised in many respects it is fairly easy to weaken it on such vulnerable points without it becoming evident that anybody was deliberately sabotaging. To find out such vulnerable points is one of the most important tasks of those concerned with organising sabotage. If in a particular case sabotage of an order cannot be denied, all trained saboteurs try to give at least the impression that in that case they were just carried away by anger or a similar spontaneous emotion.
Of course, we approve of this caution; for in view of the present terror - which is more severe than ever - no oppositional organisation would have the slightest chance of survival unless it used such precautionary measures. All external forms of organisation, like meetings, central leadership with branches, reporting to other branches within Germany, etc. are therefore non-existent, at least in those circles which are in earnest about the fight against the Nazi-regime.
It would be quite wrong and dangerous, however, if people abroad were to believe or create the impression that the opposition in Germany was a negligible factor."
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As far as you abroad are in a position to help you should strengthen as much as possible the work of this opposition. We felt that some B.B.C. broadcasts and even those specially directed to the German workers were just the opposite of encouraging as they implied that the German people and thus the German workers, were convinced they had to continue the war to avoid a German defeat."
A letter from the Ruhr-district dated October 1943 makes it obvious how important it is to avoid this impression in broadcasts:
"An increasing number of workers in the Ruhr-district tune in to the London station which has won the confidence of the listeners to an ever increasing extent. They do not believe a word of the official Goebbels propaganda."
The letter from the Ruhr-district continues: -
"In spite of the terrible air-raids in the Ruhr-district and the Rhineland there is no real hatred of the British. The wrath of the people is directed against the Nazi-regime. People anxiously wait for the invasion of the Continent by the British and hope that then they will be able to end once and for all the nightmare of the Nazi-regime."
A report from reception areas in the Third Reich expresses the same attitude. "Bombed out people said that not the British but the war is to blame for the air-raids."
The following instances are extracts from recent reports on active resistance and sabotage.
"Specially in M. and K. many acts of sabotage occurred. (That was reported end of October.) Gestapo activities there have increased."
"Occasionally leaflets are found. People take them and welcome them as a sign that something is being organised against the regime."
"Fourhundred people are said to have been arrested in Mannheim in September because they complained about bad food and treatment and made derogatory remarks about the regime. They were employed at the aniline-works; German and foreign workers were involved."
"In spite of the mounting number of arrests, passive resistance and other spontaneous signs of opposition on the part of the workers increase."
"Grumblers and so-called `Unruhestifter' (people obstructing public order) together with their families are often deported to Poland."
Frequent cases of co-called `small sabotage' are reported, too. "Every individual sabotages in his own way the many orders issued to strengthen the
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war effort: People sabotage scrap collection, economy of coal and electricity, etc. - The people of Berlin hide altogether about 5.000 Jews."
Our informant adds:
"This figure is hard to check up. But the fact that it is mentioned shows that such cases often occur. There are frequent reports that people show great willingness to help the persecuted Jews."
"Of all the foreign workers the Dutch are supposed to be the most imaginative and dreaded saboteurs. The Poles too are good at sabotage. The Russians are frequently mentioned as being good workers."
"The Nazis obviously fear that foreign transport workers would sabotage; they therefore retain as many German transport workers as possible. This is the reason why during the recent combing out railway workers fit for military service were not called up. Their work at home was considered to be as important as their services at the front."
The following observations are taken from a number of reports sent by anti-Nazis. They show that, as the war continues with increasing intensity, some methods of assisting the opposition in the Third Reich will have to be changed. This is a collection of such reflections and suggestions:
"With the intensification of bombing new ways must be found of influencing the German people. The people have less and less chance of getting their information through the B.B.C.:
Firstly, many wireless sets are destroyed and are irreplaceable.
Secondly, people are crowded together and dare not to tune in.
Thirdly, people now have foreign evacuees in their homes, and although these, too, might have listened in before, people cannot trust each other.
Furthermore, wireless sets are becoming less and less suitable for tuning in to the B.B.C. as damaged spare parts cannot be replaced.
The dropping of leaflets is probably the best method of making up for the weakened chances of being effective through the B.B.C. But those leaflets must be really good; long treatises, statistics, etc. are not received with great interest. People are most keen to get information in a short, striking form (they are, however, suspicious of propaganda) illustrated, if possible, with pictures and with clear effective captions.
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It is very important to remind people all the time of former prophecies, promises and similar remarks of leading Nazis. What is, however, of the utmost importance, is to make a clear distinction between the Nazis and the German people and to strengthen the hope of the people that they will be able to build a better future after the overthrow of the Nazis."
The following report deals in the main with the B.B.C. broadcasts and specially with the broadcasts to the German workers. It expresses the views and experiences of a number of German listeners. It was written by socialists who have been active anti-Nazis for 20 years. We reprint its full text:
"It is a great pity that in judging Germany in the main only official evidence is used. But this evidence represents only a minute part of what is really going on. The majority of political offences committed by opponents of the regime is announced in the press as criminal activities or not announced in any way at all. The Gestapo is still very efficient in finding out any organised kind of opposition and destroys it before it has any chance to develop. For that reason determined anti-Nazis will not start activities on a large scale until decisive developments in the international sphere will take place. On the other hand, some Gestapo-men, too, through fear of revenge might become more careful in dealing with the opposition.
The situation in Germany cannot be compared with the resistance movements in the occupied countries because in those countries the people are united in their national hatred against the foreign invaders and there are only very few police informers.
People in occupied countries have still another advantage: they are faced with fairly definite prospects as to their future after the fall of the Nazis. With regard to Germany the problem of Germany's future has not been settled yet and is a very controversial issue. In this respect Goebbels' poison has penetrated deeper than people abroad can imagine. The following dark prospects as regards Germany's future are in people's minds: economic enslavement through the Anglo-Saxons, political shackling through Amgot, bolshevisation through the U.S.S.R. and generally complete hopelessness and helplessness. Some German soldiers fight on desperately to avoid all this.
Those who for ten years have remained immune against this propaganda are anxiously looking for signs on the part of Germany's opponents that they intend to let justice and reason prevail in Germany's reconstruction. Unfortunately, all declarations and communiqués which point to such intentions can be dismissed as promises for the future which can be broken as easily as the Nazis broke their numerous promises. People in Germany can only be impressed by facts which already represent decisive social changes to-day. The Nazis make considerable propaganda that the Beveridge-Plan was valid only on paper, and even people much in favour with Allied policy cannot deny that. The famine in India, the problem in India altogether, the negro-problem in America are all effectively used by the Nazis for propaganda purposes.
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We write all this in such detail because the other day a broadcast addressed to the German people conveyed the impression of disappointment and anger that the German people themselves do not do more to bring about Germany's defeat. This is certainly valid with respect to the German people as a whole, but it does neither justice to those who are really working against the regime nor does it show an understanding of the thoughts and feelings of the majority of Germans. Such remarks could impair the appreciation which many Germans have for the B.B.C. and the broadcasts for German workers, because German listeners might feel that people in London are no fair judges of conditions in the Third Reich."
Some suggestions follow how Allied broadcasts could help the opposition:
"It is important to stress that after the war Gestapo-officials will be judged according to their treatment of the opposition: whether they were specially eager in finding out Anti-Nazis, whether they compiled their evidence in a Nazi spirit, and mainly whether they ill-treated prisoners. We know from experience that in the case of some Gestapo-men such warnings acted as deterrents."
"In government offices, and even in police stations the greeting ,Heil Hitler' is being replaced more and more by the greeting ,Guten Tag' (good day). A number of Nazis have been trying for a long time to disguise their present or former membership of the N.S.D.A.P. Broadcasts which urge the Nazis to think of their end are a tremendous help to the opposition. Such a warning might deter a number of people from acting as police informers."
"The broadcasts to German workers should occasionally issue a warning to panel-doctors and factory doctors. People who report sick are at present examined very thoroughly and those who only pretended to be ill are heavily penalised. These doctors should be told that as they will be easily recognised after the war - through their profession they have to be in contact with so many people - their present attitude to the workers will determine what treatment they will get. At the same time the workers should be asked to keep in mind those doctors who did not give the necessary medical certificates to people who were sick, or met with some accident, or pretended to be ill because they needed a rest or wanted to sabotage; on the other hand, doctors who showed sympathy and understanding should not be forgotten."
The terror-apparatus of the S.A. and the S.S. is being still further developed. The methods employed for this purpose and also the effects of this terror - which are generally underrated by people outside the Third Reich - are indicated by the following instances:
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A reliable report from Hamburg runs as follows:
"After the air-raid on Hamburg big parts of the town were roped off because there was danger that the houses would collapse. Many people tried to get into these roped off areas to help their relatives buried there. German soldiers refused to obey orders and shoot at these desperate people. Thereupon foreign S.S.-units were called in against the people of Hamburg.
I wrote before that for some time foreign S.S.-units have been stationed inside Germany to be used against the `enemy at home'. I also mentioned that membership of the German S.S. is no longer voluntary. To-day we heard of a man who has been mobilised and sent directly to the S.S. (By the way, according to the views of his friends this man is definitely anti-Nazi.)"
The following description of a little experience in the railway brings home what terror in the Third Reich means:
"Recently I had to make a short railway journey. As I was the only passenger in the carriage I started to talk with the guard. We came to speak about the Labour Front and I asked by the way, whether railway men too have to pay contributions to the Labour Front; (I was interested to know that because I have not much contact with railway men). The railway man said that these contributions were straight away deducted from his wages; in his own case the deductions amounted to X Mark and he immediately added that this is rather a lot considering his wages were only Y Mark. We were silent for a while.
Suddenly the railway man said shyly: `Didn't you say that you were in the last war and that you had children, too? You won't ruin the father of a big family, will you?'
I was absolutely taken aback and said: `But how could I?'
'Well, I have just said something against the Labour Front!'
I was speechless and furious and said to the railway man how terrible it was to consider every person a police informer.
But the railway man replied: `Don't say that. I had a colleague of 64. Next year he would have been pensioned off. About three weeks ago he made a remark similar to mine. He was instantly dismissed without pension rights.'"
"It is said that recently the spying apparatus has been tremendously increased. The streets are full of brown-shirts and S.S.-uniforms. Those party members whose loyalty is absolutely beyond doubt are kept at the `Home Front', to prevent any kind of oppositional organisation. Rumours have it that in Berlin up to 150 executions per day take place.
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An old trade unionist told me that Himmler was training specially reliable people to do illegal work. During the occupation of Germany this illegal work should be used against the occupation authorities and against the government which will follow the Nazi-regime.
It is, of course, difficult to find out any details concerning the nature and the extent of such systematic training. But at any rate we must reckon that even without any special training, there will be a number of youth brought up in `Ordensburgen' and similar `educational' institutions who will feel a call for vengeance."
"Members of the internal N-party caucus have discussed that should Germany be defeated, they will wipe out all those who have always opposed the regime, even if they only offered passive resistance."
The question, whether a chauvinistic spirit will dominate the minds of the peoples after this war, has frequently been thrown up. The pros and cons have been proved in many books and articles with countless arguments. We are, therefore, bringing to the notice of the public a document which our friends have been able to smuggle out of France. This document shows more clearly than any other which has so far come to our notice:
1) There exists a wide-spread organisation of resistance and sabotage of the German war-machine by French workers inside Germany.
2) The German workers not only co-operate with these French colleagues, but are in many instances setting them an example.
We hope and believe that the publication of this "Handbook for the deported to Germany", published by the French Resistance Movement, will prove of value to the illegal fighters of all countries, particularly to the French and German workers. Their activities are not only not supported by many nationals of the United Nations, but the latter even dispute their existence.
The following is an English translation of the "Handbook" from the French.
to represent your interests. This is of vital importance. You and your comrades should immediately choose one of your number as your `shop steward' (Hauptvertrauensmann).
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To defend the interests of the deportees. - The `shop steward' must do his utmost to represent the interests of his French comrades before the German authorities in camp and factory and to make constant efforts to improve their conditions. He is the permanent delegate of the deportees. As far as possible he should do nothing else. He should repeatedly make strong protests with a view to obtaining better and more wholesome food, he should demand more comfortable housing accommodation and supplies of clothing and footwear; he should try and secure a reduction in the amount of work to be done and one day of rest every week; he should see to it that all machines are fitted with safety devices and that the A.R.P. system is adequate; he should protest against the withholding of wages; he should represent the interests of the sick and wounded as against the doctors; he should intervene in cases of injustice committed by foremen or police; he should protect those who have been penalised, etc. He should state, for example, that the French are willing to work but that they demand sufficient nourishment for it. His is the role of an ambassador requiring him to hide his real intentions. However, there will be occasions when it will be both necessary and possible for him to thump on the table and shout, often an excellent method with the Germans.
The `shop steward' should be in charge of everything which concerns the life of the French workers in the camp and in the factories. It is his job to encourage suggestions for occupying their free time, to organise or supervise the allocation of duties inside the French barracks, to see to the distribution of letters and parcels.
The ,shop steward' must be a reliable person, energetic, unselfish, anti-German and ,,Gaulliste", diplomatic and loyal. He should be supported by an executive committee with a strong "Gaulliste" majority.
See to it that your best comrades get the jobs of interpretors even if they don't know German very well. Organise the interpretors; they have power to protect you and your comrades. Undertake with your comrades the organisation of their leisure hours: sport, theatricals, conferences, games, clubs or discussions.
If you are in a camp, start a newspaper yourself as a means of bringing together your comrades in workshop and factory. Take the lead in your dormitory and workshop. Your authority will then be greater.
Wherever possible Germans should be corrupted. Then they will be rendered harmless.
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Take advantage of every opportunity to organise protests, general discontent, and sabotage. Make the Germans live in fear of your discontent.
Germany is an immense prison.
You will be hemmed in by the word "Verboten", but by means of hidey-holes and notes you will quickly find that it is possible to communicate with everybody.
The prisoners are the first people whom you should see. They have immense experience and all kinds of resources at their disposal. Make a special point of seeing the French prisoners, but make contact with the others also.
There are a few amongst them whom you should not trust, but the majority are thoroughly sound.
If they do not sabotage sufficiently, ginger them up and imbue them with some of your dynamic. Start a competition in sabotage between your groups and theirs.
You want a free Europe. Start preparing it now in Germany by fighting as comrades, side by side with all the other deportees, French, Belgian, Italian, Polish, Dutch, Rumanian or Russian alike.
Give them precise and concrete instructions for carrying on the fight, these very instructions which you will find in this handbook and which you will follow yourself, referring to sabotage, escape, the distribution of news and information, revolutionary defeatism. You will find that they will rally around you.
In this way you will form inside Germany a united army of resistance in the form of a revolutionary workers movement, the best weapon against Hitler in his own country.
In the first place there are those who are your enemies because they support the Hitler regime and the Gestapo, or because they accept it wholeheartedly.
In dealing with this section all methods are justified!
You should corrupt them all or see to it that they are corrupted, gradually, and this is easily done by means of cigarettes, chocolate, slippers ... Get
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the satisfaction making them grovel at your feet, or making them run like dogs, or making them do your dirty work for you to obtain cigarettes.
Shun the "Werkscharen" (workshop-Gestapo) like the plague. They are the secret agents and the spies of the regime, the local vermin. The German workers themselves will point them out to you, they represent the terror. When one of these scum pass everybody comes to attention even if the scum in question is only a sweeper.
But there is another category of Germans with whom you will be in contact: those who are like yourselves the victims of Hitler.
There is a wonderful piece of work to be done amongst the German workers, whether they belong to anti-Nazi organisations or not; whether they are communists, catholics, or social-democrats. ... It is your task to give them new courage to hope and fight and to provide them with the means for carrying out sabotage and political warfare.
The first female workers to go to Germany were almost all prostitutes picked up in the streets or in the brothels. Especially the French women. It was the dregs of the French nation that volunteered to go to Germany.
Avoid German women. You can ask them to do some jobs for you, but they are too talkative.
To be caught talking to a German woman or having any relations with them is a very serious matter.
But above all you must stir up the feelings of the wives of German soldiers against the Party which sends their husbands to be butchered and fetches foreign workers to replace them in the factories!
These then are the elements who you can reckon with to help building up an army of resistance inside Germany. But this army will be effective only if you have managed to establish connections with France, if you manage to establish liaison with us.
Make arrangements for keeping, by the use of codes, letters, parcels, in contact with your relations, your friends, the resistance movement, the underground organisations of the deportees.
Write often in letters and parcels. Give your post to those who are going back to France on leave. The establishment of liaison is essential.
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Your task in the war is quite clear: To strike at the very heart of the enemy, at his war machine and morale. To foment in his midst an immense internal revolution against Nazism.
Yours is a dangerous fight, you are surrounded by spies and watchful officials, you risk heavy penalties.
Yours is a hard fight, you are up against apathy, hypocrisy, fatigue and despair, against treachery and cowardice; yet your fight is possible. "There's not such a word in French as impossible."
For you, a deportee, the struggle is easier and less dangerous. Do not therefore say: "There is nothing to be done," or "It is impossible to do anything". Get to work. Show Hitler that the French are not degenerate.
It is a fruitful struggle. You are a branch of France at war. You are preparing the way for Fighting France better than a fifth column. - You are an advanced post within the enemy lines. Together with all your comrades in Germany, war prisoners and deportees, you can shorten the war and thus hasten your own return. Together with them you can win great French victories on the German home front.
You should make use of everything around you in order to carry out the sabotage of the immense war machine, which for you will mean sabotage in your workshop.
Even in Germany the French worker has an urge to show that he is stronger, that he can work better and quicker than the others. He will soon be saying "My machine", "My factory", "My farm". And the Germans will be quick to take advantage of his stakhanovism. Take it from us, it is by good sabotage and not by good work that the French workers will win the respect and the sympathy of the German workers.
On various pretexts such as tiredness, under-nourishment, incapacity, get into the habit of going slow. After a week of this the output must go down by 50%.
Require of everyone at least passive sabotage. Threaten with reprisals those who work to keep their position or to have a few pence extra.
Demand the forty hour week, religious holidays, no overtime. You must ask for a lot in order to obtain a little. Organise periods of rest in turn during the week on the pretext of illness. Systematically see to it that the
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men are sent to work at the wrong trades: the hairdresser to the lathe, and the fitter to a maintenance job.
Remind everyone of their military service when they took a whole day to pick up eight dead leaves.
The German workers will repeat to you all day long, "Langsam" (go low). To see the French deportees working quickly and well dishearten them. Deportees, act in solidarity with the German workers.
See to it that the workers always arrive at work a quarter of an hour late and pack up a quarter of an hour before time.
The French have the reputation for being excellent workmen. We have in our blood the feeling for a "fine piece of work". In Germany the contrary must be the case. There must be no inventions, no improvements. - No feeling for workmanship.
Create a real cult of sabotage, a real frenzy of destruction. Start and get others to start sabotaging on a big scale during the first week after your arrival.
Organise rewards for the saboteurs. Organise punishment for the idiots who "work well": don't speak to them, punch them in the face, cut them dead.
Of vital importance is the political struggle of hundreds of thousands of French deportees together with that of a million French prisoners of war and about eight million prisoners and deportees from other countries, in the very heart of Germany.
You cannot carry on this political struggle alone. It requires organisation; this is summed up in two words:
1) Union and Action
Set up a fighting committee in your factory or camp. Bring into this committee all those animated by the same fighting spirit.
2) Conditions for Activity
This committee should not merely constitute an ideological group, but should be the soul and brain of the active struggle. See to it that your fighting committee becomes part of the resistance movements in France, of which you are an extension, their branch in Germany, and from whom you will receive directives, material, and other means of action.
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Resistance to the policy of Vichy. Resistance to the policy of the Nazis. Incite the workers against their factory management. Show that all evil is due to the Nazi party.
Stir up the women whose husbands are being killed for the sake of the ambition of the Party, while the foreigners have come to work in the German factories. Show the advantages of democracy, of the regime of freedom.
Construction of French political life on the basis of a political renaissance in the social and economic sphere behind General de Gaulle.
The invitation of a German policy directed towards revolutionary defeatism.
Intellectual: study circles.
a) Individual persuasion;
b) Propaganda by word of mouth;
c) Pamphlets edited and distributed by the fighting committee etc.
d) Information: Deportee, since you are working in Germany in an armament factory, at an aerodrome, in a depot, on the railways, you can and should give information to help Fighting France win the victory.
You should pass on information, via the repatriated prisoners of war and deportees, to the resistance organisations and especially those catering in France for the prisoners and deportees. The information required includes:
The exterior and interior plans of the factory in which you work. The nature of the goods produced. The destination of the products. The effects of the air-raids.
Such information will be of immediate and important use in carrying on the war.
e) Escape; Deportee, you should encourage prisoners and deportees to escape in large numbers, because this keeps the morale, removes workers from the Reich, necessitates guards.
Set up workshops to produce false papers, pass keys, ropes.
f) Secret Army and Freedom groups; In your camp, in your factory, organise your comrades in sixes, build up a force for the secret army and the Freedom groups, a disciplined force with yourself as leader.
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g) Social Service; Deportee, help your unfortunate comrades by creating a relief fund especially for those in solitary confinement.
h) Military justice; It is your duty to kill a traitor in order to save fifty comrades. It is essential to give rewards for excellent sabotage. Deportee, create an organisation of military justice and assume responsibility for it.
Deportee, if you are forced to go, and work in Germany, it is your duty to carry on a fierce struggle there against an enemy who has won the first round, and to put in all your weight to turn the scales!
The following two articles which appeared in the French underground journals "Le Franc-Tireur" and "Combat" express the mood and the spirit of the French Resistance Movement:
"Le Franc-Tireur" of November, 1943, wrote:
What is the position in our local factories and workshops now at the beginning of November 1943?
One fact is certain: of all the French people, the workers are those who suffer most from restrictions and privation because their wages are terribly low. Since the outbreak of war the average increases in wages (where the wage-earners have succeeded in obtaining them) have been about 15 to 30%. However, even the Nazi-prefect Angeli is forced to admit that the cost of living has increased by 200% by comparison with the end of 1940. Whilst the physical condition of the workers has been very seriously undermined by the privations due to the maladministration of Vichy and the greed of certain employers thirsting for revenge, they now feel very strongly that only if all the French people unite in the fight against the Nazis can they improve their lot. In reply to the new Vichy-Hitler demands all the workers have decided to oppose them by a single course of action, united, co-ordinated and properly directed. They have declared their complete agreement with the decisions taken by the Confederal Bureau of the C.G.T.
The wage-earners in the factories in the Lyons district are fighting against their working conditions in the chemical works: for example there is a total lack of hygiene and safety devices, the working hours seem to have no end. For all this they receive starvation wages - because the employers are not only
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forced to obey the orders of the Nazis, but are also in many cases supporters of collaboration.
The workers are sick of these conditions and the constant threat of deportation and have begun to take up the struggle and assert their rights with the strike weapon: at Rhône Poulenc, Péage de Roussillon, St. Gobain, and St. Fons. With the exception of certain employers who have understood better where their own interests lie, the conditions are the same in the Lyons engineering industry. Their workers of Mamouth, Sigma, Somua, Citroen, have also taken up the struggle, their sacrifices being the signal for further action.
In all the factories discontent is smouldering; the Germans take hostages; 25 workers, the whole of the Comité Social of 25 workers, have been arrested at Citroen's. But the acts of sabotage increase, at Martin Moulet, Somua, Bronzevia and other firms the transformers have been blown up, factory stores have been burnt (at Berliet the damage amounted to 30 million frcs) and trains have been derailed. Workers, technicians, engineers, all take part in the fight, often endangering their lives. But they know that the final liberation will be achieved by them. They organise themselves in accordance with the instructions of the underground trade union committees of action set up by the C.G.T. They reconstruct the legal trade unions in order to make them into powerful organisations which will soon be under their control. Their reaction to the deportations is to swell the ranks of the Francs-Tireurs, the Freedom groups, and the Maquis. But they know that the most effective method of opposing deportation is to go on strike. They are preparing for the great national strike of liberation by taking up the struggle and putting forwards their demands in the factories. All Frenchmen and all Frenchwomen, should support the workers who are fighting for their life and liberty. Once again the working class, exploited, cheated, and brow beaten is in the forefront of the fighting which will lead to a better future for the whole nation."
The French Underground Journal "Combat" wrote:
When a government violates the rights of the people, rebellion becomes the most sacred right and the greatest obligation for the whole people, and for every section of the people. This rule which the French inscribed in their constitution of Year II is applied by the patriots to-day.
When the government collaborates with the enemy, when according to its own testimony it is spurned by the whole country, when instead of punishing traitors it encourages and protects them, when it supports the deportation, imprisonment, or execution of its subjects, when the accused no longer possess the right of choosing their defence, when the French police obeys the orders of Hitler's police; the patriots rise up and take the enforcement of justice into their own hands.
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Those who are executed by the so-called "terrorists" are paying for their crimes against their country.
They are all of them in some way responsible for the arrest or deportation of Frenchmen: they have attacked or denounced them, they have worked against them and solely for the benefit of Germany.
If they had continued to enjoy impunity how many cowards would have joined their ranks attracted by the money and "official positions"?
Justice and public safety demand that they should be punished mercilessly.
Those who kill them only institute a reign of terror in the camp of the traitors.
On the day when in a liberated France justice and law will prevail once again, they will become lawful citizens and will work for the reconstruction of our country with the same courage and boldness."
Immediately after the fall of Mussolini, political prisoners belonging to various parties came together on the Italian island Ventotène, in order to discuss the new political situation. They agreed to publish the statements which we quote below, appealing to all those "who have recognised that unless the European problem is satisfactorily solved all national revolutions will prove illusory". These statements which were published in Ventotène on August 3rd, 1943, were accepted at the first meeting of the Italian Movement for European Federation of August 27th 1943 at Milan. We are reprinting the statements in full, although some of the demands have since been fulfilled.
I. The collapse of the Italian Fascist Government does not mean that Fascism has been destroyed. It is still there concealed by the monarchy and the military dictatorship; and above all the most dangerous fascist imperialism still exists: the imperialism of Hitler. Therefore it is the primary duty of all Italians in the present situation to demand:
a) The complete destruction of all remaining traces of Fascism under whatever guise they may masquerade;
b) The creation of a government consisting of individuals and parties who
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provide a secure guarantee that they will fight Fascism wherever and in whatever form it appears;
c) The immediate conclusion of peace with the United Nations;
d) Active participation in the war against Nazism until it is completely destroyed, and a readiness to use every means at the disposal of the Italian people to that end;
e) Active participation in the establishment of a just and lasting peace.
II. If a post-war order is established in which each State retains its complete national sovereignty, the basis for a third world war would still exist even after the Nazi attempt to establish the domination of the German race in Europe has been frustrated.
Nations must no longer possess the right to make war and conclude peace; to have national armies under their control; to divide up the world into exclusive economic units with the aim of depriving their rival countries of markets and raw materials, thus securing a monopoly position for their own benefit; to deprive people of the freedom to go where they like by preventing them from settling in districts where their activity gives them self-satisfaction and is also beneficial to humanity as a whole; to transform themselves undisturbed into despotic States who educate their citizens to hate and resort to force and make preparations for aggression. All these powers provide instruments of destruction, barbarism and suppression.
III. Equally fatal would be a solution after the pattern of the League of Nations or the German Staatenbund (League of States) of the last century. Such a League of sovereign States which has no armed force of its own but is dependent upon the armed forces of the member States, would be a politically inadequate instrument to look after the common interests of the Continent. Such an organisation could only serve as a medium for powerful States to assert their hegemony, and it would become the breeding ground for new imperialistic conflicts.
IV. Militarism, despotism and wars can be abolished only through the creation of a European Federation to which those sovereign rights are transferred, which concern the interests of all Europeans; rights which to-day in the hands of national States bring about death and destruction. Armaments, international trade, the fixing of national frontiers, the administration of colonial territories not yet ripe for self-government, safeguards against the re-establishment of authoritarian regimes - in short: the administration of peace and freedom throughout the whole of Europe must be subject to the legislative, executive and judicial authority of the European Federation. Within the territory covered by the sovereign Federation, the citizens of the various States must enjoy European citizenship as well as their national citizenship; e.g. they must have the right to elect and control the federal government, and they must be directly subject to the laws of the Federation.
V. The M.F.E. (Movimento Federalista Europeo) does not seek to be an alternative to political movements which strive for national independence, political
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freedom, economic justice. It does not tell the leaders and supporters of those movements which in a way concern themselves with everything in our culture that is alive and progressive - national independence, freedom, socialism - that these are ideals they must abandon in order to devote themselves exclusively to the unification of Europe. On the contrary, it is from these movements that the M.F.E. draws its support and it works to establish those aims which represent the highest values of our civilisation. But whereas patriots, democrats and socialists commonly think that they must first achieve these aims in the individual countries and assume that ultimately, and automatically as it were, an international situation would arise in which all peoples would fraternise, the M.F.E. warns against this illusion. The order of importance of these aims is just the other way round. National independence, freedom, socialism will be alive and beneficial forces only when Federation, e.g. a political institution which safeguards international peace and justice, will be their basis - and not their consequence. If we succeed in laying the foundations of a European Federation, the realisation of all our other progressive aims will be easier. If we concern ourselves exclusively with the internal problems of the various nations, national, political and social, the causes of rivalry, conflicts, imperialism, militarism, despotism and wars will all remain. National independence would again take the form of national-socialist arrogance seeking to oppress weaker nations; political freedom would be suffocated by militarism and disappear; and the socialist structure would become a convenient instrument to keep the nation under arms prepared for totalitarian warfare. To create a European Federation is therefore definitely the first task upon which the progressive European movements must concentrate all their energies. It is the aim of the M.F.E. to convince them that this is necessary and whilst supporting all movements for national, political and social liberation to direct them to that aim.
VI. The bestialities of this war, the danger of world-wide oppression to which we were all subject, the proven inability of single states to preserve their own independence and neutrality, all demonstrate with unmistakable clarity that the system of absolute national sovereignty must be abolished. But powerful reactionary forces in the political and economic spheres want to preserve this system because it is useful to them. At the end of this war, in the midst of a short period of national and international crisis, when the structure of the national states will either partly or completely collapse we must be no repetition of 1919; the peace settlement must not be the outcome of diplomatic intrigue and the ambitions of ministers as though it were no concern of the people how the peace is organised. It will therefore be necessary to give firm support to that country or those countries which favour the creation of a federal organisation and to mobilise within every nation all popular forces behind this demand of a federal solution. For only during such a revolutionary period, and so long as the memories of the horrors of wars are still alive, will the European Federation be able to withstand pettiness, treason and nationalist interests and become a reality.
If we allow this decisive moment to go by, the progressive forces will have fought in vain, whatever their achievements may be in other spheres. New forms of Fascism and Nationalism will soon again raise their monstrous heads. For
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this reason the M.F.E. seeks to mobilise the political forces it can influence not for an aim to be realised in the distant future; it seeks to use the imminent critical period to erect the only effective barrier against the inhuman scourge of total war that is open to civilised nations: a political structure which guarantees the free development of national culture; civil liberties and socialist institutions and which paves their way for the creation of a world federation of free peoples at a later date."
During the last three years anti-fascist groups and centres have sprung up in Italy and have produced their programmes, manifestos and plans for the reconstruction of the country. Some of these movements which started as rival groups later on fused into a single organisation. Thus the "Socialist Liberal Party", "Giustizia e Liberta" and the "Italian Republican Party" have ceased to exist and have been absorbed in the new Action Party. Amongst the working class movements the same process has taken place. In Northern Italy there were mixed Socialist and Communist groups supported by those Socialists who were in favour of a united front with the Communists, but their existence was short-lived owing to police persecutions. There were also "Independent Communist" and "Liberal Communist Movements", remnants of which apparently still exist. It is therefore very difficult to give a clear survey of the anti-fascist forces existing in Italy and the period of quasi-legality from the 25th July, the date of Mussolini's downfall, to the 18th of September when the armistice was announced, was too short to permit an adequate analysis. We can therefore only give a short review of the principal forces regrouped in the coalition of the anti-fascists parties which to-day form the Committee for National Liberation.
At the time when Mussolini fell there existed three independent Socialist groups. The first which was called the "Third Front" after the party paper published by them possessed an excellent secret organisation, eight regional committees, a large number of factory groups and small groups of action, and controlled the Socialist Trade Union Committee which in its turn directed a very enterprising broader organisation. A second Socialist centre was the so-called "Movement for Proletarian Unity", which favoured the forming of a single working class party. It was quite strong in Milan and had excellent leaders who had just been released from prison or returned from exile. The third group had been formed in Rome and mainly consisted of all the old trade union elements and the former Socialist and Maximalist deputies. Although the ideological differences between the three groups were great, at the time of the collapse of Mussolini there was an overwhelming and spontaneous drift towards unification. Political conditions during those days prevented regular meetings of these three groups and the regional representation at the various discussions which took place was quite inadequate, many of the delegates selected to attend the conference on unification being arrested beforehand. But all three groups were strongly in
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favour of uniting their forces and they publicly announced that unification had been achieved to the great satisfaction of the working class. The difficult questions, which were likely to lead to disagreement and could only be solved by regular discussions were put aside. The new party was provisionally called the Italian Socialist Party of Proletarian Unity. However, the semilegal existence of the united party (in the first period of Badoglio's government the legal existence of the parties was not recognised) was too short to enable us to describe with certainty what is the special character of the present Italian Socialism. We cannot therefore say for sure how far the fundamental revision of traditional Socialism undertaken by the "Third Front" has been adopted by the rest of the party, and even if they have accepted it in theory, how far the actual political attitude of the party has been influenced by the principles of federalism, autonomy and humanism. It is in any case certain that Italian Socialism is a very strong force and cannot be conceived in the light of the old ideas of reformism and maximalism.
The tasks it faces are entirely new and its leaders are also quite new men. Even though during the few weeks of semi-legality some of the personalities of the pre-fascist period re-appeared at conferences and other party demonstrations, this does not necessarily mean that they were amongst the leaders of the secret organisation. In any case the conditions under which the political struggle is being carried on now in German-occupied Italy are equivalent to the worst periods of fascist terror in the past, and the secret Socialist organisations have once more resumed their former activities. The journals "Avanti" and "Third Front" are once more being published illegally and are appealing to the people to take up the struggle against Hitler and advocating the forming of a Socialist republic.
Besides the Socialist party, the following parties belong to the Committee for National Liberation (whose headquarters have remained in German-occupied Italy and which must not be confused with the so-called National Front of Communist-Badoglian origin with its headquarters in Bari):
The Group for Liberal Reconstruction, which was formed around the clandestine paper "Reconstruction", united various democratic and liberal groups whose leaders were well-known personalities of the pre-fascist political period and to some extent favoured the re-establishment of the former liberal institutions, with a certain reservation with regard to the monarchy. Enjoying the prestige of these well-known personalities, the Liberal Reconstruction Party looked likely to be the immediate heir of the dictatorship, and apparently Badoglio attempted to win them over. But there are also in this party young men of high standing, matured through study and persecution suffered under fascism. They are convinced of the fundamental value of liberalism and democratic institutions, even though they have no connections with the mass organisations.
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The Christian Democratic Party is the only more or less Catholic movement in the Committee for National Liberation. It includes groups which favour some degree of social reform ranging from those who have almost Socialist aims to those of a more conservative and even reactionary character.
The Party of Action is a new movement built up in conformity with the conditions of anti-fascist struggle. It has a broad basis and includes various elements mainly drawn from the middle classes. Its programme has been worked out by intellectuals and professional men and constitutes an attempt to combine the ideals of liberty with the necessary reforms of the social order. They are prepared to introduce fundamental reforms and are strongly in favour of the republican form of government. They publish various underground newspapers which are widely read. These include "Free Italy", "Oggi e Domani" (To-day and To-morrow), "Risveglio" (The Awakening), "Giustizia e Libertà" (Justice and Freedom), "Studenti d'Italia" (Students of Italy)[ 29], and others, and they undoubtedly represent the opinion of a considerable section of the population, especially of the lower middle class. They will have a definite political function during the first stage after the fall of fascism, but it is not so sure what part they will play later on in the period of reconstruction.
There is no need to give a long description of the Italian Communist party because it does not fundamentally differ from the Communist parties of other countries. Lately they have adopted an extremely moderate and collaborating attitude. They support a national front and have declared themselves ready for wholesale collaboration even for clerical or monarchical aims and for purely governmental projects. They also employ expressions and slogans of a nationalistic and patriotic character.
The Socialist Party works together with these other parties on the local committees with the aim of securing a true representation of the whole population and they adopt a clear and precise attitude which they express by championing the rights of the working class, on which any future reconstruction of our country must be based.
First of all it is necessary to give a correct picture of the general attitude of the Italian nation with regard to fascism. It is very difficult, especially abroad, to realise how foreign to the minds of the people the fascist and above all the military super-structure have remained. The high-sounding phrases used in government propaganda have never been taken seriously. They were regarded as being far removed from reality, but were accepted as part of the existing order of things and repeated without being believed in. The directives issued by the fascists have always been considered as something
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imposed from above and out of touch with the needs of the people. The latter carried them out merely in order to obtain the means to live. This gulf between the people and the government, whose phraseology could only appear from a distance, to be the voice of Italy, has become still wider during this war fought on the side of Germany. It is difficult even for eye witnesses ro realise how very unpopular this war has remained in the minds of the Italian people.
The writer then expresses his views on Badoglio and his whole regime, which correspond closely with following four articles, taken from the October issue of "Avanti", the organ of the Italian Socialist Party of Proletarian Unity.
"Badoglio intends to return to Rome as head of the Monarchist Government. The little King-Emperor seeks the protection of Anglo-American arms and tanks. Who gave Badoglio his authority? Whom does the King represent? They represent the whole reactionary gang with their fears and animosities. After the failure of fascism the ruling class seeks to rally round the King. Badoglio said that the Royal House is both the basis and the hub of the nation - this is historically untrue and morally absurd.
When the King dismissed Mussolini he had no intention of liquidating an institution or a class; on the contrary, he saved the dynasty and all the vested interests connected with it. He was concerned about his own person, not about Italy. Furthermore, the high officials kept their posts; Badoglio left those who were responsible for the catastrophe at liberty; the army leaders are still the old Fifth Columnists, and, last but not least, our friends were released from prisons only at the last minute, as a result of popular pressure.
The bourgeoisie and the monarchy, represented by Badoglio, may be backed by the British and American generals but they will never meet with the approval of the people of Italy who were determined to be masters of their own fate.
The Badoglio regime must go. The Italian Revolution goes on."
The Italian proletariat by liberating themselves will also liberate the proletariat of the Danubian countries.
Badoglio said in an interview: `We shall meet the Germans at the Brenner'.
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Although the `Avanti' opposes Badoglio, it still considers this slogan to be correct. But it will go further: not the Brenner, but Vienna should be the goal. Mussolini's shameful action of 1938 when he sold Austria to Hitler must be wiped from the pages of history. Italy must become once more the protector of the small Danubian countries. It will be Italy's duty to return to Austria her independence. The liberation of Vienna and the independence of Austria are part of the programme of the Italian working class."
"From the beginning the Socialist Party has exposed the inability of those who staged the palace revolution of July 25th: they did not dare to conclude an armistice, but did not wage war either, and they did not even re-introduce such elementary civil rights as freedom of the press and freedom of assembly, although this would have been a great advantage to the country during those critical days. On September 8th, the Monarchy asked for an armistice, without having used the interval to prepare in any way against invasion by the German fascists. The problem of securing peace and freedom can only be solved by the will, initiative and force of the masses. If there is to be a national renaissance, the palace revolution must develop into a people's revolution.
Only a determined, revolutionary working class led by the Socialist party could have solved or can in the future solve, the problems created by the ignominious fall of fascism and by the catastrophe of this war. Revolutionary action by the masses on the 25th of July would have prevented the development of the situation which faces is to-day. The Italian people should immediately have made it clear, that they were not responsible for the war which was started by Fascism and the Monarchy. Hostilities should have been broken off with or without an armistice, which would have produced quite a different situation in Italy. The people would then have been better prepared to stop the invading German hordes.
In fact the workers were not prepared, but nobody can blame them for this state of affairs. The lesson to be learnt from this for the future is that workers, peasants, professional classes and intellectuals should all rely on their own forces in the fight against their enemies and should work for the establishment of a Socialist Republic, a republic of freedom and peace."
"Hitler-Germany has invaded our Fatherland; it has thus revealed its true character, its greedy, bloodthirsty nature.
Italy has become a trench for the German militarists who destroy our towns and devastate our country with fire and sword in trying to delay the inevitable defeat of Nazi tyranny.
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In view of the German occupation all political parties feel it their duty to unite and to carry on the fight for the liberation of our country.
For this reason the front of the anti-fascist parties assumes now the name of `Committee for National Liberation'.
A New Italy is in the making: a resurrected Italy which will never again suffer fascist tyranny nor the rule of any other regime which has not got its mandate from the will of the people.
The ordeals our country is undergoing to-day demand the suppression of any tendency which might be an obstacle in the way of complete unity of all Italians in the struggle against our oppressors.
The day is not far off when the Italian people will pass judgement on all those who since October 28th 1922 have been guilty of fascist crimes which have led to the defeat of yesterday and the ignominy of to-day.
The Committee of National Liberation of Northern Italy, representing the will of all Italians worthy of this name, appeals to the nation to take up the fight against the German invader and against all criminals who help him.
There can be no hesitation.
Men and women, old and young, all are mobilised for the common cause.
Those who possess more than they need, feel the duty to share it with the many who suffer want.
Do not allow our men to be deported to foreign countries like cattle!
Do not work for the German enemy!
Do not let yourselves be forced into his army!
For the sake of our civilisation and the future of our children let us resist all demands of a tyranny which history has already condemned.
The battle cry of our fathers unites us: `Out with the Germans!'
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(dated August 29th, 1943)
"A small group of exiles in Ventotène belonging to various parties and groups come to an agreement on fundamental social problems. They tried to carry on political activity in co-operation with other fighters for freedom all over the country. They issued a manifesto outlining the principles on which the political life of Italy and Europe should be based.
This manifesto was written in June 1941 and revised in August of the same year after Russia's entry into the war. The 1941-edition is used in the present manifesto.
It must be taken into account that at the time the manifesto was worked out there was no movement behind it, and it was rather an appeal to work for the great aim of achieving a Free Italy in a liberated and united Europe.
When it was written the anti-fascist parties were not yet re-organised, and the authors of the manifesto originally had the idea of starting a Federalist party. In the present situation however, it is unnecessary to form a special party and it is the task of Federalists to propagate their ideas on federation in the existing progressive parties."
Shortly after the fall of fascism a meeting of federalists took place in which they decided to form a movement rather than a party. They issued a number of theses on Federation. These theses are given elsewhere in our report. We only would like to add one further point here concerning the attitude of the Italian Federalists to Germany:
"All reasonable people recognise that a militaristic Germany cannot be included in a United Europe, made up of independent States.
That Germany should not be split up nor permanently kept under after it has been defeated in this war."
The Manifesto then continues as follows:
A Free and United Europe is the necessary condition of the reform of society. A European Revolution will satisfy our requirements only if it is a socialist one, achieving the emancipation of the working class and raising the standard of living of the people to the highest possible level.
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One must not cling to old dogmas. The complete nationalisation of the means of production was the first Utopian form under which the working class thought their liberation from capitalist exploitation would be achieved. But it has since been proved that, far from fulfilling this dream, this leads to the dependence of the whole population upon a bureaucracy, as in Russia.
The true principle underlying Socialism is that economic forces should not dominate man, but that man should control and use the economic forces for the benefit of humanity. Collectivism was a hasty and false interpretation of this principle. Whether private property should be abolished, limited or extended must be judged on the merits of each case and not according to any dogmatic rule.
The following measures are necessary to secure the reform of the economic system:
1. The nationalisation of industries which are in their very nature monopolies like, for instance, electricity works, industries which are indispensable for the community and need state subsidies, key industries such as mining and the big banking concerns.
2. The expropriation and use for the public benefit of wealth which has accumulated in the hands of a few people through inheritance.
3. Agrarian reform, i.e. the redistribution of the land to those who cultivate it and thus increase of the number of farmers.
Industrial reform, i.e., co-operative management and ownership.
4. Equal opportunities for young people according to their capabilities.
5. Full use of the productive capacities of industry.
6. Freedom for the workers to choose their own representatives and carry on collective bargaining.
Some detailed suggestions are made with regard to a) the relationship of state and church and b) political representation.
a) The Catholic church considers itself as the only perfect institution and thinks that the state should submit to it. But in the past the Catholic church has supported the reactionaries in order to preserve its own privileges. Thus the state must enjoy the sole control of the civic life of the nation and the concordat concluded between the Vatican and the fascist regime in Italy must be annulled.
All religious denominations should be equally respected.
The state should have control over education and the church should be included in the state budget.
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b) The corporative system must disappear together with all the other fascist institutions. The trade unions have important functions to fulfil in co-operation with certain state institutions. But they should have no legislative rights.
The overthrow of all the totalitarian regimes will bring freedom within the grasp of whole peoples. It will mean the triumph of democracy in various forms ranging from right wing Liberalism to Socialism and Anarchism. They all pin their faith on the `spontaneous resurgence' and just instincts of the masses. They believe that with the fall of the dictators all the people's rights of self determination will be restored to them. The crowning point of their aspirations is that the people should make their own constitution through a freely elected constituent assembly. This means that if the people are politically immature they will give themselves a bad constitution.
The Democrats do not reject the use of force on principle but are only ready to apply it if the majority of the people are convinced that it is necessary. Therefore they are only fit to govern under stable conditions when only minor reforms are required. In revolutionary periods they are utterly incapable of dealing with the situation, as the Russian, German and Spanish revolutions have clearly shown. In such situations all kinds of political activity spring up amongst the masses and provide a certain outlet for their feelings, but they have no real conception of what they want or how to act and easily split up into factions which quarrel amongst themselves.
At a time which calls for great determination and audacity, the Democrats are at a loss if they do not feel the spontaneous support of the masses but are faced with the chaotic agitation of the people. They think it is their duty to gain their approval and use all kinds of persuasion, when what is required is firm leadership. Thus they let the opportunity slip by. They even provide their enemies with weapons which are used against them. Democratic methods are dead weight in a revolutionary crisis.
The theory of the class struggle gave the Labour movement and the industrial workers especially a certain direction and continuity. But when a complete reform of society is needed, the class struggle tends to isolate the working classes. The class conscious workers do not realise that if they press for their special demands without taking into consideration the interests of the other sections of the population, this will result in a dictatorship of the proletariat. By such a policy they fail to gain the adherence of other progressive forces and drive them into the enemy camp where they are used against the workers.
The Communists, who belong to this category, are more efficient in a revolutionary situation than the democrats, but they keep the workers separated as far as possible from the other revolutionary forces by telling them that the real revolution is still to come. They therefore constitute a sectarian element and weaken the revolutionary struggle.
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In addition to this they are dependent on Russia who uses them for her own national interests, which prevents them from having a clear and stable policy. If the Communists were to dominate the political situation in Europe this would not favour a revolutionary development, but would spell the failure of a European renaissance.
Large masses of people are still influenced by Communist and Democratic doctrines which are nothing but an obstacle in the coming struggle and must be radically altered or completely done away with. A real revolutionary movement must work together with Communist and Democratic forces, as with all other antifascist forces, but must not be led astray from its political principles. The revolutionary party cannot wait to make its plans until the critical moment has arrived, but must already be clear about its future aims and have its immediate programme ready. The party must not be made up of diverse elements which are only temporarily united and will divide again after the overthrow of Fascism. Its members must be clear that their major task will only be beginning then, and they must therefore agree on the fundamental political issues. They must appeal to all who are oppressed and show them that their sufferings can only be brought to an end by wholesale social reforms.
The number of their supporters may continuously increase, but only those can become members of the party who have made the European revolution the central aim of their life.
The party must be mainly recruited from the ranks of the workers and intellectuals. For the workers have succumbed least to fascist influence and many of the intellectuals are repulsed by totalitarian theories. Furthermore, no movement has any future which does not succeed in uniting the workers and the intellectuals.
During the revolution it is the task of this party to organise and give a lead to all the progressive forces. For in those critical days the latter do not want to waste time in voting but look for active leadership. The party's belief in the rightness of its actions is not based on the fictitious will of the people but on the conviction that it represents the real needs of society.
Under the rule of the revolutionary party the new State and the new Democracy will be formed. There is no need to fear that such a revolutionary government from the very outset lays the basis for freedom so as to enable all citizens to participate in political life then the development will be in the right direction.
The way is neither easy nor without risk, but it must and will be trodden."
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