Eighty years later, could the Nazis have been stopped?Posted: April 4, 2013 | |
A rough summary of this particular Trotskyist analysis might be the following:
Since the central target of the Nazi brownshirts was the post-Versailles labour movement (in the SDP and the trade unions), the rise of German fascism was clearly a response to capitalist crisis. This was nurtured in the late 1920s by the Great Depression (mass employment etc), but also by lingering anti-Semitism (emphasised once again by defeat in 1918) which was the attempt to rationalise the economic crisis by the Right and its corporate interests.
Throughout the period, even as late as 1932, the combined weight of the SDP and the Communist Party vastly outweighed the Nazi vote. But they were too divided; the Communist Party, influenced by Stalinist attacks on moderate socialism, frequently allied itself with the Nazis. So when Hitler came to power in 1933 there was no resistance. The labour militias were not called to arms, like they had against Kapp’s coup of 1920. If the Nazis could have been stopped then it would have required speedy unity among the socialists.
It’s in posts like this where I see just how inferior my knowledge of Nazi Germany is. What do people think of this? Could the Nazis have been stopped? Marxist analyses are notorious for their crude juxtapositions between classes, but here it’s worryingly blatant: the vast majority of those who voted National Socialist were working-class themselves. Had they been deluded into thinking capitalism was the way forward by big business? Possibly, but that’s a little condescending.
In Britain it took the Labour Party half a century to win a general election outright; and, despite the labour groups being by far the greatest part of British society, it never won a majority of the popular vote. Likewise, the assumption that German workers only voted by economic strategy is to miss their cultural motivations. The Nazis weren’t just the representatives of business; to a large degree they reflected considerable cultural antagonisms to those like Jews, and the old nationalism that the Great War had so badly hurt.
It’s interesting. I need to read more. Your own views would be greatly appreciated.