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institutions of the German working class movement which breaks down the artificial ... The SPD, founded in 1875, had been the largest party of pre-War social ... developed for the first time into a mass movement, its votes rising from. 2.6% in 1928 to ...... leadership moved increasingly to the right after its entry into government.


How could the working class movement split when confronted by the obvious menace of Nazism? This paper argues that this split, represented by the 'social fascism' line of the European communist parties in the late 1920s, cannot be adequately assessed by a political critique of the workers parties or by a sociological analysis of the composition of the working class . Instead it develops an historical analysis of the formal and informal institutions of the German working class movement which breaks down the artificial dichotomy between 'organisation' and 'spontaneity' . This analysis reveals how the decline of informal class organisations in the mid-1920s created a situation in which the 'social fascism' line could become a self-fulfilling prophecy .

Increasingly British socialists are claiming that it is possible to learn from the rise of Nazism over forty years ago how to fight the growing threat of the National Front in England today . Obviously there are similarities between the two situations : historically high unemployment, capital re-structuring, political crisis within the bourgeoisie itself . However, not the least of the differences is the fact that in Germany before 1933 there existed two mass parties which claimed to represent the German working class-the KPD (Communists) and the SPD (Social Democrats) two parties which both refused to undertake any joint action against the Nazis . This paper attempts to explain how this mutual antagonism came about and how it could be sustained in the face of apparently obvious evidence of its fatal consequences . This will involve taking as the object of enquiry not the political parties as such, but the working class movement itself. Here we are immediately on uncharted territory, for while socialists continually talk of 'the working class movement', it is by no means clear



what this actually is. Working class political history is usually written either as a history of political institutions (parties, trade unions etc .), or as the 'social history' of the bases of these formal institutions . Accordingly, after a brief historical outline of the main developments of working class politics during the Weimar Republic[1 ] which suggests the relevance of this focus, the second part of the paper attempts to 'theorise' the concept of the working class movement : subsequent sections examine political organisation in one local area of Germany primarily in the period 1929/1930 . The local focus is important, because it is only at this level that it is possible to answer the questions which the stress on the working class movement raises-namely the nature of the 'rank-and-file' situation in which political organisation occurs . 1 . THE WORKERS, THE PARTIES AND THE MOVEMENT The victory of Nazism was at the same time the defeat of both the largest communist party and the largest social democratic party in Europe . The SPD, founded in 1875, had been the largest party of pre-War social democracy within the Second International, with more than 1 m . members by 1914 and polling 34.7% of the vote in the 1912 elections to the largely powerless Reichstag (parliament) (Hunt, 1970, p . 2) . Like most of the other parties in the Second International, in August 1914 the SPD rallied to the support of 'its' nation, but by 1917 a minority had split off to form the USPD (Independent Social Democrats) on a platform of opposition to the War; within the USPD the Spartakusbund, led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, formed an explicitly revolutionary left-wing which in December 1918 declared itself the German communist party and became one of the founding sections of the Third International . Despite these divisions, the period from November 1918 to October 1923 in Germany can be characterised as one of 'working class offensive'-a period of mass movements which repeatedly frontally challenged the power of the bourgeois state and a period in which the strike rate reached never-to-berepeated levels . The November Revolution which ended the War took the form of Rate (councils or soviets) that were set up in almost every town . The council's members were drawn from all three working class political parties and they controlled the administration and supervised, even if they did not replace, the authorities . The final suppression of the councils during 1919 was followed in 1920 by a right-wing military putsch, defeated by a universal general strike supported by all three parties-a strike which in the Ruhr area culminated in an armed workers' rising . In 1921 there was another workers' armed insurrection in Central Germany ; in mid-1923 another general strike forced the resignation of the right wing government of Chancellor Cuno, at a time when arguably the KPD had the support of the majority of German workers (Rosenberg, 1970, p . 137) . Although the autumn of the same year saw the first openly fascist attempt to seize state power (Hitler's 'beer hall putsch' in Munich,)[2] at the same time the army (with the toleration of the SPD leadership) forcibly deposed the state governments of Saxony and Thuringia where a coalition between the KPD



and the local left-wing SPD was openly forming workers' militias . The KPD's attempt to launch a 'German October' in autumn 1923 had been a complete fiasco,[3] but after a brief and equally disastrous 'ultra-left' period under the leadership of Ruth Fischer and Ernst Maslow the party consolidated its strength . again, membership for example rising from 95,000 in 1924 to 130,000 in 1928 and the share of the vote rising from 9% in December 1924 to 10 .6% in 1928, both members and voters being overwhelmingly working class . For its part the SPD, which since 1922 included the right wing of the now defunct USPD, was in government from 1928 and had in the same year a total membership of over 0 .8m . and a popular vote of 29 .8% . Although both members and voters clearly included a large petty bourgeois element, it is clear that the majority of them were also drawn from the working class . Purely in terms of votes and members then, both KPD and SPD) remained major political forces during the years of relative political and economic stability between 1924 and 1929 . However, the subsequent period was to bring not a revitalised working class offensive, building on this apparently existing strength, but working class defeat . In the renewed political crisis which roughly coincided with the world-wide Great Depression from 1929 onwards, the Nazi party developed for the first time into a mass movement, its votes rising from 2 .6% in 1928 to a peak of 33 .9% in July 1932 (Lipset, 1963, p . 141), a growth which was at minimum facilitated by the conflict between the SPD and the KPD . The SPD, ejected from government in 1930, clung desperately to its policy of 'the lesser evil', tolerating increasingly reactionary governments because of its fear of admitting the Nazis into the state and essentially treated the Nazis and the Communists as equally dangerous extremists . Conversely the KPD, following the Comintern theory of 'social fascism', declared that fighting the SPD was at least as important as fighting the Nazis, and, just like the SPD, refused to countenance any attempts by its members to co-operate with the rival party against the fascist threat . This brief chronological account highlights two important differences between the period of working class offensive and the two subsequent periods . Firstly, the period of working class offensive was one in which the mass movements were always larger than the political parties involved in them : the movements dominated the parties, and not vice versa. Secondly, solely in the first period did what can only be called successful political innovation occur-only in the period of mass movements was it also possible for new organisations to form which subsequently became mass parties . This rather obvious linkage suggests however a perhaps less obvious conclusion : in order to explain in any situation the policies which parties adopt and their members actually follow, it is necessary to examine not the parties as such, nor their social basis, but the wider movement within which the parties are located . This movement can after all be thought of existing not just as the 'mass movements' of strikes and demonstrations, but as that whole informal and usually uncharted political world within which socialists talk, agitate and organise . Since this political world undergoes changes just as important as either the policies of the parties . or the



economic and social situation of their supporters, it is to specifying what such an understanding of 'the working class movement' involves that we now turn . 2 . THE WORKING CLASS MOVEMENT[4] Any account of the final defeat of the German working class movement by Nazism has to be able to explain the 'ultra-left' policy of the KPD . This is not to place all the blame for Nazism's success on the communists, as contemporary social democratic accounts tend to do, nor is it to claim that the SPD leadership itself was particularly willing to co-operate with the KPD, even if only in a defensive alliance against the Nazis . The analysis of the conjuncture of 1929/1930 starts with the problem of the KPD simply because this party claimed to be able to lead both the fight against fascism and the fight for socialism : any assessment of KPD policy has to explain how, given the anti-communism of the SPD, the KPD came to adopt a policy which in retrospect made achievement of its aims impossible . As will become clear, formulating such an explanation raises general problems of the analysis of working class politics which are hardly confined to the problem of the KPD in the Weimar Republic ; at the same time, if such an explanation involves recourse to concepts more familiar in sociological than strictly marxist discourse, this is because one remarkable weakness of conventional marxist theory is precisely its inability to analyse the forms of working class politics in specific conjunctures . Normal accounts of social fascism, like most accounts of any other specific form of working class politics, usually rely on a varying mixture of two in fact opposed arguments . On the one hand there is what might be called an economistic approach, as for instance in studies in the 'mass society' tradition (cf . Barbu, 1956 ; Kornhauser, 1960) . The mass unemployment of the Great Depression is seen as dividing the working class into two opposed camps of employed and unemployed workers, organised politically in the SPD and the KPD respectively : politics are explained in terms of an assumed economic situation, from which political action is simply derived . In fact, a more accurate description of this argument is that it is sociological, since it assumed that the employed and unemployed formed two distinct social groups which different parties merely reflected . The empirical problems with such an argument are clear : it is easy to find counter-examples outside of Germany in the Depression where mass unemployment led to political apathy rather than revolutionary politics, [5] just as it is clear that within Germany the membership, let alone the electorate, of the SPD and KPD were not simply identical with employed and unemployed workers . "At a theoretical level, the sociological argument assumes that 'the unemployed' can be treated as a given social group, and further, as one which is automatically radical without the actual politics of this radicalism having to be further examined . By contrast, what will be called the 'political' argument operates the other way round, explaining the politics of the KPD purely in terms of the decisions of the leadership and treating the social basis of the party as unimportant (cf . Weber, 1969 ; Bahne, 1976) . Consequently, it becomes impossible to ask why a particular



policy should actually have been accepted by the party membership, since these are seen as carrying out whatever orders they receive from on high . In practice most accounts use a mixture of these arguments, yet if both arguments are theoretically untenable, one because it reduces politics to the mere expression of social situation, the other because policies are unrelated to the situation of their adherents, then merely adding the two together will not help-it is necessary to change the very terms of the discussion within which the two positions are the opposing poles . Before outlining how this can be done, it will be useful to consider two influential recent marxist works, each of which expresses with particular clarity one of the two arguments-firstly Poulantzas' Fascism and Dictatorship, and secondly Roth's Die andere'Arbeiterbewegung . Poulantzas sees the policy of the KPD as one position within the general line of the Comintern, a line which is for him characterised in its entirety as an 'economistic deviation', that is to say, the assumption that the advance of the productive forces ensures the ultimate victory of socialism, and closely linked to this, that capitalism can be reduced to a simple contradiction between bourgeoisie and proletariat . Within this overall perspective, the apparent opposites of the strategies of 'Popular Front' and 'Class Against Class' were simply right and left wing variants of a common theme, the choice between which was in the last resort determined by the situation of the class struggle in Russia itself. Poulantzas' discussion of Comintern theory is important, because it suggests how in many ways the conventional Trotskyist critique rests on similar assumptions to the position it criticises . However, the restriction of the analysis to the explicit pronouncements of the Comintern entails certain problems . Firstly, Poulantzas assumes that the Comintern leaders' actual policies were the same as what they were announced to be . Yet this is untenable . For example, there is considerable (and long available) evidence that the leaders of the Comintern, unlike perhaps the average KPD militant, did not in fact consider revolution in Germany to be a realistic possibility at the end of the Weimar Republic . Further, the Russian determinants of KPD policy can hardly be reduced to a deviation within Comintern theory . However much the KPD and the Comintern might inveigh in public against the 'reactionary monopoly capitalists', in fact for the foreign policy of the Russian state the main aim was the prevention of a Franco-German alliance . Accordingly, these same reactionary monopolists were potential if temporary allies since they were revanchist and Francophobe, while the SPD was necessarily the chief enemy because of its commitment to 'fulfilment' of the conditions of the Versailles Treaty (cf. Weingartner, 1970, esp . p . 21 f, pp . 77ff.) More seriously, since Poulantzas locates the origins of social fascism in Russia, he, like conventional histories of the KPD, is unable to explain why such a policy could have been supported, or at least passively tolerated, by more than a quarter of a million KPD members : the 'Bolshevisation' of the KPD legitimates treating the party in isolation from the working class of which it claimed to be a part . This weakness cannot be overcome merely by stressing the effects of the SPD's participation in the Great Coalition government of 1928-1930 and the linked increased



repression of communist opposition within the trade unions-both factors which are claimed by Lehndorff to have pushed the KPD towards the social fascism theory . Just because the social democratic and trade union leaderships shifted rightwards, this does not by itself mean that KPD members automatically had no realistic option but to treat these organisations as inherently reactionary . It was after all an SPD minister who used the army to smash the councils in 1919, it was an SPD minister who was largely responsible for defeating the Ruhr rising in 1920, but none of this made KPD members refuse to co-operate with members of the SPD at local level, or refuse to work within the trade unions, yet by 1929 many KPD members were prepared to do both . Clearly, this problem cannot be tackled by arguments which concentrate solely on policies without considering the class to which such policies were intended to appeal . It is this that makes, relevant the contribution of recent German socialist historians who have examined the internal structure of the working class .[6] Thus, in a pathbreaking and extremely influential re-analysis of the course of German working . class history, Roth has argued that the history of the class is the history of its continual division by capital through the creation of a privileged, skilled and reformist section-that section of the working class upon which all the official organisations are based . By contrast, it is in the 'massed working class', the unskilled and semi-skilled workers exposed to the direct command of capital, workers who are often foreigners, always culturally and politically unintegrated, despised by the conventional political organisations and neglected by traditional socialist history, that the real revolutionary force of capitalism lies . Roth's 'history from below' has certainly rescued from the contempt and even ignorance of conventional historians the mass of unorganised, unskilled and even apparently 'unpolitical' workers . However, as it stands, the argument is in fact the mirror image of that of Poulantzas, for Roth treats questions of political theory and strategy as the direct expression of a particular social group-the division between reformist and revolutionary politics merely reflects the division between privileged and unprivileged workers .[7] Because Roth argues in this way, and because in his rather cursory discussion of the final years of the Weimar Republic, he treats the unemployed and the unskilled 'massified' workers as socially identical, it would seem legitimate to take Roth as presenting a marxist version of the automatic radicalism of the unemployed argument criticised above . The first problem with Roth's approach is that he assumes that only the actions of the 'other working class movement' really matter .[8] Thus, in a surprising convergence with the official Comintern analyses of the final period of the Weimar Republic situation, Roth sees this as a time of renewed mass offensive in which the mass of unskilled and unemployed workers again move onto the attack . Yet this not only completely exaggerates the importance of the strikes and unemployed demonstrations which did occur, but more importantly, it fails to notice their key feature, namely their isolation from the bulk of the class . Secondly, Roth has an inadequate theory of organisation .[9] A



revolutionary struggle, so it appears, is one which directly challenges the power of capital, and in turn is defined as any struggle which takes place outside the official organisations of the working class. Strikes which occur outside the official trade unions are seen as automatically challenging the division between economic and political conflict which such organisations institutionalise-'wild' or 'unofficial' strikes are de facto 'revolutionary' . This fetishism of 'spontaneity' operates to prevent any investigation of the actual organisational form of these struggles-it is simply assumed that because there were no paid bureaucracies and written records, such struggles were spontaneous . While amongst German socialist historians, Roth has been the first to pose the question of the political significance of divisions within the working class, he does this by counterposing the elite workers to the mass of workers, and, like an old-fashioned conservative historian, he sees the masses as precisely a mass-unorganised, leaderless, impulsive, elemental -the categories are the same, merely the moral evaluation is reversed . The arguments of both Roth and Poulantzas turn out then to operate within the same conceptual space : the polarities of leaders and led, organisation and spontaneity . Instead of adopting the conventional solution, the eclectic combination of the two positions, it is necessary to break down these dichotomies, and to focus on the organisation of the working class movement itself. The organisation of the working class movement because, against Roth, however elemental class struggle may appear, it always involves organisation and at the same time is never the movement of all members of a specified social category . The organisation of the working class movement because, against Poulantzas, class struggle is never the private property of specific institutions, not even of revolutionary parties . Such an approach takes as its starting point neither policies nor social bases, but the everyday activity of militants . Immediately, this makes clear that organisation can hardly be treated as restricted to the activities of institutions such as unions or political parties, for these are only the formalised pinnacle of a potentially much wider network of activity . Accordingly, the term working class movement must be taken as referring to all resistance to capitalist domination and exploitation which is both collective and explicit . To make clear that what is involved is a social movement, it is useful to distinguish between institutions and quasi-institutions . Institutions refer to formal organisations with a codified organisational structure, a defined membership and often paid officials . The institutions of the working class movement are centrally then the political parties and the trade unions, together with their ancillary organisations . Further, in Weimar Germany these institutions also included the massive workers' sporting and singing clubs, for these too were formal organisations (complete with their own full-time officials) which were explicitly linked to working class political positions . Quasi-institutions by contrast are less formalised and range from shop stewards' committees and tenants' associations (some of which become institutions in the full sense of the word), through organisations such as factory delegate meetings to friendship networks and other 'informal' contacts. All of these involve political organisation -they are all



ways in which people come together to resist together . Defining the working class movement in this way is important for two reasons . Firstly, it overcomes many of the problems associated with the notion of 'class consciousness' . Not only does it analyse locatable practices rather than imputed ideas, it also overcomes the perennial problem that 'working class' political action never actually involves all members of 'the working class', but nearly always also involves non-workers as well (cf . Hindess, 1977) . Taking the working class movement, and not the working class as such, as the object of analysis dispenses with the problematic notion of class subjects . Secondly, this approach allows us to break down the whole dichotomy between spontaneity and organisation, which is largely the dubious legacy of leninism within marxist political theory . It allows us to grasp the full political importance of Gramsci's claim that spontaneity as such does not exist, and restore to their rightful place everyday organisational activities without falling into theoretical spontaneism . [ 10] However, just as it is important to treat the working class movement as wider than official institutions, it is equally important to delimit it . The working class movement does not include forms of resistance which are either individual, or more importantly, subcultural, nor is it the same as the concept of 'proletarian public' developed by Negt and Kluge . Not only do these authors essentially treat 'public' as an extension of 'consciousness', but the concept is continually treated as including questions of life style, so that the domain of the political is dramatically over-extended . Forms of adaptation and resistance to capitalism such as either the traditional extended working class family or contemporary forms of youth culture may well be actually more of an impediment to the smooth accumulation of capital than a well integrated trade union movement (cf . Hall and Jefferson, 1976), but this 'resistance' is largely 'unconscious' . It does not have the distinguishing feature of a social movement, that of an organised practice orientated towards the achievement of a (however limitedly) different state of affairs . The working class movement, in contrast then to working class culture, involves explicit resistance . As such, despite the rhetoric of its members, it is not the class itself : the world of the working class movement is the world of the rank and file militant attempting to mobilise support for economic, political and ideological change . This stratum of militants is variable in a number of ways . The crucial questions for a materialist analysis of the origins and effects of social fascism concern not just the number and social location of these militants, although this is obviously important, but above all the organisational form of the working class movement which they made up . Firstly, it is necessary to examine the degree to which a unified working class movement existed before the advent of the social fascism line . This is not, it cannot be stressed enough, a question merely of the degree of co-operation between the SPD and KPD at a party level, but of the extent to which it was possible for party militants to co-operate with each other across party boundaries . To the extent that this did occur, what forms did this co-operation take and what was its quasi-institutional basis?



To what extent, in other words, were there quasi-institutions which enabled such co-operation independent of the parties themselves? Further, in order to gauge the effects of social fascism, it is necessary to know what the policy of social fascism meant for these quasi-institutional links : the division of the working class movement for which the policy of social fascism is often blamed can only be said to have occurred if in fact it made such 'informal' co-operation impossible . Secondly, to what extent was the working class movement independent of the political parties as such? To the extent that militants could operate within a quasi-institutional area which was outside of the control of any one political party, they would have had a power basis to which the leadership would have had to respond . For example, if KPD oppositionalists had no other area of activity open to them apart from the KPD itself, then if they were expelled they would be faced with the alternative of inactivity or joining the SPD, for forming a new and competing n political party would be an unrealistic possibility . In other words, to the extent that the working class movement in its entirety was actually co-extensive with the political parties, then opposition within them could be relatively easily over-ridden by the party leaderships . Thirdly, what was the relationship between the working class movement and the different sections of the working class itself? Did above all quasi-institutions exist which spanned the different economic divisions within the class, such as between unskilled and skilled, between employed and unemployed, even between men and women? To the extent that this was the case, then revolutionary politics would have a realistic chance of reaching wide areas of the class, but to the extent that this was not the case, then such social divisions could also become political divisions and revolutionary politics could be encapsulated in the ghetto of one particular section of the class . Obviously, to begin to tackle such questions in historical research involves methodological as well as theoretical problems . After all, one reason why the history of the working class is written so often as a history of institutions and of formal ideologies is that this is so much easier, even if the unfortunate result is inevitably that official definitions of politics and organisation are thus accepted . Such problems are particularly acute in the case of Weimar Germany, where the very strength of the working class movement involved massively organised institutions, continually churning out documentation of their own existence . As a result, the existence of the movement itself, apart from its institutional pinnacles, is not nearly so clear as in the British case, where the working class movement, because weaker, was also less institutionalised, and so its existence was and is paradoxically clearer . Nonetheless, the conventional sources of local political history-above all newspapers and police reports-can be used to reconstruct the form of the working class movement in Weimar Germany . This will allow an analysis of social fascism which goes beyond both the 'political' critique of the KPD's explicit theory and the 'sociological' analysis of the party's social basis . Assessing the strategy of social fascism within this perspective involves gauging the strategy's effects not on 'working class consciousness',



but on the organisation of the working class movement itself . The KPD's effectiveness against fascism then was the extent to which the party could unify and extend the movement and in so doing overcome the divisions which rationalisation and subsequent mass unemployment tended to create ; the KPD's effectiveness as a party of socialist transformation was the extent to which it enabled political practices that aimed at the achievement of socialism to be hegemonic within the working class movement itself . As we shall now see, the KPD completely failed to achieve such ends . Instead, it systematically exacerbated existing pressures towards the division of the movement and hence towards the isolation of the party, even though it was these same pressures-in interaction with the policies of both the SPD and the KPD itself-on the organisation of the movement which also explains the undoubted attractiveness and 'rationality' of social fascism to many of the KPD's own adherents . 3 . THE KPD AND THE PRE-CONDITIONS FOR DEFEAT The essential pre-conditions of the KPD's policy of social fascism, and hence of the party's ultimate defeat in 1933, were the changes that had occurred within the working class movement before the onset of renewed political and economic crisis . As this first section of the local study of the Frankfurt area will now attempt to demonstrate,(11 ] between 1923 and 1929 theree were major alterations on the forms of organisation of the movement itself, in the relationship between the movement as such and the KPD and the SPD, and finally in the relationship between the movement and the working class . That is to say, the first stage of an explanation of social fascism lies not just in the evolution of the KPD's own strategy, nor merely in economic changes as such, but in how these interacted to produce changes within the working class movement itself . Recent work on the KPD in the Weimar Republic, and in particular the important study of unemployment and rationalisation by Eva-Cornelia Schock, has tended to argue that the KPD was already both socially and politically isolated by 1929 . This argument however has to be heavily qualified . Thus it is clear for example that during this period the party was by no means merely a party of unemployed workers : by 1927 not only were a majority of members employed, but 62% were also trade union members; in the party's Hessen-Frankfurt regional area indeed this proportion stood above the average at 70% .(12] Like elsewhere in Germany, during the period of relative stability in the Frankfurt area the party had made considerable gains, in particular outside the city itself . Thus both in adjacent Offenbach, a town based on small scale production in the leather and metal industries, and in nearby Hanau, an entirely industrial town centred around predominantly small-scale metal-working, the KPD played an important role in local town politics and above all in local trade union affairs, in Hanau controlling the local branch of the DMV (the metalworkers' union), in Offenbach that of the leatherworkers' union . In Frankfurt itself the KPD was much less influential than this in trade union affairs, but this did not mean to say that it was politically



isolated . After the defeat of the mass movements of 1923, the KPD was still able to initiate such popular mass campaigns as the solidarity movement with the British General Strike in 1926 (a campaign which culminated in a meeting of 20,000 in the city's largest hall), the campaign for the release of Sacco and Vanzetti, and above all the referendum movement for the expropriation of the property of the old princely families . By 1928 the SPD fraction in the city parliament was increasingly distancing itself from the mayor's policy of liberal and progressivist municipal expansion, and it was possible for the fraction chairman, Karl Kirchner, to be seriously considering the policy advocated by the left wing of his party-a local alliance with the KPD .[13] Furthermore, and not to be underestimated, although the SPD controlled the 'cultural' organisations such as the workers' sporting clubs and the workers' singing clubs, and indeed ensured that they received municipal subsidies, these were open to KPD members and definitely provided an arena which could be regarded as the common meeting ground of the mass demonstrations and the everyday club life of workers' recreational associations then ensured that the 1,300 members which the Frankfurt city KPD claimed in 1929 were hardly isolated in terms of their political contacts . However, this list of activities also indicates the potential weakness of the KPD, and here Schock's thesis of the importance of changes in unemployment after 1923 is borne out, even though it needs to be complemented somewhat . All these activities occur in organised arenas which are completely separated from immediate production : organised political communication between KPD and SPD members was located increasingly outside the factories, while both within the factories and within the trade unions the KPD was powerless . From 1918 through to 1923 the central arena of Frankfurt working class politics had been the Betriebsrateversammlungen factory delegate meetings)' where representatives from all the factories joined significantly by representatives of the unemployed) had met in public . These meetings had been the quasi-institutional basis of the series of revolutionary and semi-revolutionary upsurges of the period forming, for example, the core of the general strike called by the KPD in support of the socialist governments of Saxony and Thuringia . How this movement was defeated is important for later developments : the SPD got the strike called off by mobilising the official shop stewards of the metalworkers' union against the unofficial factory delegate meeting . [14] After this, such meetings never recurred . The organisational change that occured in the period of stabilisation was the 'officialisation' of factory organisation : after the defeat of 1923, organised communication between factories occured solely through the trade unions, and in parallel to this, the locus of wage negotiations moved 'upwards' into the hands of full-time trade union officials . One crucial precondition for this process was the changed economic situation in the metal industry, the key industry in the city . Up until 1923 the industry had been in export led boom-gaining easy foreign orders, employers continually expanded production on a largely quantitative basis, and faced with the extreme shortage of skilled labour, tolerated a high



degree of informal shop floor control over immediate production and granted wage demands relatively easily . The boom in the metal industry also affected other industries : with a general labour shortage, the wages policy (or lack of it) in the metal industry was a source of continual tension within the employers' organisations as the metalworkers became wage leaders in the area and individual metal firms granted wage demands rather than face loss of orders. Further, the boom meant not only low unemployment and a continual demand for skilled workers, it also enabled a high degree of mobility, in particular of skilled workers, between the factories of the area . Young workers who had just finished their apprenticeship could move from one factory to another to gain greater experience in their trade and better wages, political militants dismissed from one factory could be sure of getting another job elsewhere almost immediately . In other words, on the basis of their non-factory specific skills and the full employment, the metalworkers of Frankfurt were independent of any one particular employer, and this was the pre-condition for the strong factory-based organisation of that period . [15]

From late 1923 onwards the situation changed dramatically . Employment collapsed at the end of the year, revived slightly in 1924/1925 and after another major relapse, revived more strongly for a brief period for

most of 1928 . Although in both periods of revival there was full time working (i .e . a 54 hour week), and in 1928 even some over-time was being worked, the situation remained qualitatively different to that of the previous period . Firstly, and easiest to document, there is the very extent of unemployment which, as Schock rightly argues, now clearly became a threat for all workers in the industry . According to the local office of the metalworkers' union (the DMV), in December 1925 over 7,000 metal-

workers were dismissed, a further 2,000 laid off temporarily ; in 1926 there were 10,000 workers less employed in the local metal industry, which would have meant that employment in the industry had effectively been halved! Although as the table below shows, these claims were slightly exaggerated, employment did clearly fluctuate dramatically . Even more important, both the fluctuation and the overall decline in jobs were largest in the two sectors where both wage militancy and trade union organisation had previously been strongest, namely machine-building and cars . Secondly, as the result of increased competition and concentration within the industry, there was the closure of a series of smaller factories,

such as the Veisawerke, closed in March 1927 after the firm had been taken over by Siemens and production moved to Berlin . Thirdly, there is of course rationalisation within production itself . Although it is impossible to make any definite overall generalisation about the extent and effects of rationalisation within so variegated a metal industry as that of Frankfurt at this period, the DMV at least complained that women were now replacing men on many jobs (prima facie evidence of 'deskilling') and that many factories were now employing women for the first time . Before however the consequences of these economic changes can be seen, it is necessary to examine also the role of the political parties, in particular the USPD and KPD . The situation of full employment combined



Employment in the Frankfurt Metal Industry 1925-1932 (1925 = 100)

1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932

ElectroTechnical 100 (6,784) 83 .9 84 .4 90 .5 100 .0 96 .0 78 .1 60 .6

Machine Building 100 (7,717) 62 .9 74 .2 90 .4 74 .6 77 .2 41 .1 26 .8

Autos, Typewriters 100 (7,754) 72 .3 74 .0 80 .0 78 .1 56 .2 40 .9 53 .4

Metal Products 100 (6,134) 61 .6 81 .2 83 .4 121 .2 97 .2 75 .9 68 .0

Total 100 (28,389) 70 .4 76 .2 86 .1 91 .8 80 .9 63 .0 51 .0

Source : calculated from Industr-und Handelskammer Frankfurt a .m ., Jahresberichte (relevant years) . In brackets : absolute figures for 1925 . with the continuing political crisis and (towards 1923) accelerating inflation provided the basis for important political effects of the strong factory organisation within the metal industry . Behind the delegate meetings of the factory workers stood the factory work-forces as an organised political force . Thus it is striking that up to 1923 (but not afterwards) the mass demonstrations always took the form of the workers leaving their factories early and marching en bloc to a central meeting place . Workers who were employed in the metal industry at the time still today stress (perhaps with some exaggeration) the unity and the resulting political power of the work-forces : employers for example did not dare to take any reprisals for political strikes . Although this rank-and-file strength was a constant of the period from the end of the War until October 1923, it was accompanied by decisive shifts in political allegiances . From about 1917 onwards the UPSD was clearly the leading political force amongst the shop stewards of the industry : it was on the basis of contacts between them for example that the party organised the initital seizure of local political power in November 1918 (cf . Sender, 1940, pp . 99ff, Lucas, 1969, pp . 16ff) . Some measure of the importance of the metalworkers for the USPD is indicated by the fact that in the local elections of March 1919 fully 35 of the party's 95 candidates were metalworkers, a proportion never reached subsequently by the KPD, let alone the SPD . During 1919 the local USPD consolidated its hold in the DMV when its candidates won all posts in local union elections, despite a vicious campaign by the SPD complete with allegations of ballotrigging . However, when the USPD split in 1921, all the leading local DMV functionaries rejoined the SPD, and the KPD was never able to subsequently seriously challenge the SPD's control of the union apparatus . While in the period of inflation this made effectively no difference to the power of the factory workforces who were able to force the union into continual militant wage bargaining, this shift did provide the basis for the defeat of 1923 .



As we have seen, the immediate isolation of the KPD in October 1923 occurred through the SPD pitting the official trade union organisation against the directly elected factory delegates, a move which immediately underlined the division between employed and unemployed since, while the latter were able to participate in the central factory delegate meetings, they had of course no formal or informal influence on the shop stewards

themselves . After the defeat, many party members in Frankfurt, as elsewhere in Germany, responded to this immediate political isolation by moving to positions which were close to those of five years later . Many left the unions in disgust, some of them now(!) began secretly to gather weapons, and in general it is clear that the new `left-wing' leadership of Ruth Fischer and Ernst Maslow had the support of many at least of the party's members (cf . Abendroth, 1976, pp . 61ff) . Indeed, it took the intervention of the Comintern and its effective deposition of the 'ultra-left' leadership to change the party's policies (Flechtheim, 1968, pp . 228ff) . In one way this episode shows that the Comintern by itself can hardly be held solely responsible for every ultra-left position within the KPD, for clearly the policy was this time adopted against the Comintern's wishes. However, unlike after 1929, there was no way in which the left-turn could be construed as successful by either local militants or party leaders-membership and votes slumped disastrously ; the party's involvement in mass actions of any sort became non-existent . Quite probably this setback by itself would have ultimately brought about a change within the KPD even without the intervention of the Comintern . It is equally clear that this brief left-turn exacerbated the weakness of the KPD which had shown itself in 1923 : its vulnerability to counterattack by the official union organisation within the factories themselves, resulting from the party's lack of influence within the unions at least at local level . The situation in 1924 however was particularly disastrous, for now the rejection of the union by many KPD members went with an economic slump which by itself meant a decline in trade union membership . Significantly, decline in trade union membership was most pronounced within the union of the metalworkers : in Frankfurt DMV membership had reached an all-time peak of over 29,000 in 1922, falling by the end of 1923 to 14,600 and by the end of 1924 to a low of 10,600 : while in 1922 over 40% of all Frankfurt trade unionists had been in the DMV, by 1924 this proportion had fallen to nearly 18% . These economic and political processes together destroyed the metal industry as a basis for the KPD . The new instability of employment plus the SPD control over the union machinery together ensured that quasiinstitutions such as the factory delegate meetings could no longer exist, and meetings of shop stewards now took place entirely on the instigation

of the union leadership . While this much is clear, it also appears that movement of workers between the factories, in particular movement of young skilled wokers, also declined, and this, so oral evidence suggests, meant that politically based contacts between the factories through the circulation of individual militants also diminished . As far as the sphere of immediate production was concerned then, militants could now operate within the union or within the factory based organisations of their party



(e .g . the factory cells of the KPD), but nowhere else . Further, should militants be dismissed, they now were unlikely to be 'replaced' by other militants . Take for example the situation in the Adlerwerke, the largest metal factory in the city with a militant tradition dating back at least to the major metal strike of 1912 . In 1921 the factory had been 'purged' of communist cadres after the very strength of the party within the factory had enabled the party to call a partial strike in solidarity with the 'March uprising' ; while these workers could not return to Adler, they were to some extent replaced by other communists . When however in August 1924 the firm announced plans to lay off 1,500 workers a communist meeting within the factory was attended by only 100 and the dismissals proceeded without any opposition and indeed with the explicit agreement of the unions and the official Betriebsrat (factory council) members . Although in 1929 the factory was, at least in its car production section, the best trade union organised car plant in Germany with 97 .3% of the car workforce trade union members, there is no evidence of any effective KPD activity in the factory after 1924. The example of Adler illustrates a tendency noticeable within the KPD in the whole of Germany, and suggested in the HessenFrankfurt region by the relative importance of Offenbach and Hanau for the party's trade union work : even though the party regained ground amongst employed workers, its basis now shifted to the smaller factories . These changes also affected the nature of trade union organisation . In the metal industry as a whole during the period of stability there were in the Frankfurt area only a few minor strikes in smaller factories . Certainly in 1929 There was a general increase in trade union activity, and not just in the metal industry-an official strike of the municipal workers, militant wage movements in the railways and in the chemical industry . However, these all occurred within the framework of the official trade union organisation : thus although the DMV regional committee faced considerable opposition to its acceptance of a final arbitration offer in 1929 (the offer being itself an improvement on the employers' original proposals), this opposition was enacted solely within DMV meetings . The trade union, in other words, became the only basis for 'economic' conflict . During the period of stabilisation then, the decisive changes within the working class movement were not in the number of militants as such, but in the form of the movement . Firstly, its organisational basis shiftedaway from the unofficial quasi-institutions, based largely on the factory workforces of the metal industry, and into the official institutions, the trade unions, the political parties and the sporting and singing clubs . Within this new context KPD and SPD members were still united in the trade unions and the cultural associations, but links between them at a quasi-institutional level could only remain at the most informal level of all, namely friendship and family connections . This meant, secondly, changes in the relationship between the movement and the political parties, for now political activity was focussed on the parties, on whose policies the unity of the movement now depended . Since the 'Bolshevisation' of the KPD meant that party theory increasingly saw the force for revolutionary change as solely the party, this was a change which the party was utterly



unable to theorise, for the question of mass influence was now posed in terms of the party on the one hand, the class on the other . Thirdly, the officialisation of the movement meant that now almost the only linkage between it and the unskilled, 'lower' sections of the class itself was again solely through the parties, since both the trade unions and the cultural organisations were predominantly organisations of skilled workers . These three factors together were the essential preconditions of the social fascism line, for they made it both an extremely credible and an extremely disastrous response to certain actions of the SPD . As the SPD leadership moved increasingly to the right after its entry into government in 1928 (Lehndorff, 1975, pp . 90ff), the results would be very different to similar moves before 1923, for now for the KPD member the only area which was not controlled by the reformists could well appear to be the KPD itself. At the end of the period of stabilisation, and unlike earlier, what appeared as openly reactionary measures of the SPD leadership could be interpreted as proving the completely reactionary nature of reformism as a whole . The consequence was clear: complete break with the reformists, whether in their party, their cultural organisations, their trade unions . Yet given the nonexistence of quasi-institutions which spanned most of the class, the social fascism line would be disastrous for the KPD, for this interpretation involved a flight back into the party which now could only divide the working class movement and ghettoise the party amongst the unemployed . 4 . SOCIAL FASCISM-THE SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY The previous section has shown how by 1929 the quasi-institutional elements of the working class movement had largely disappeared . The consequence of this organisational shift would be decisive in the changed conjuncture of 1929 : once the unity of the movement had become a unity only of institutions, then this unity depended solely on the policies of the existing party leaderships . In other words, the pre-conditions of the social fascism line do not by themselves explain the actions of the KPD or the situation after 1929, but merely set the stage-a different policy by the KPD would certainly have had very different consequences . However, once the KPD had declared its main enemy to be the SPD itself, then in 1929 this necessarily destroyed the unity of the movement, since there was now no quasi-institutional arena where militants could co-operate . How this division occurred is shown in this section by an examination of the KPD's attempts to organise the unemployed in Berlin and above all in Frankfurt itself . The importance of existing organisations is then indicated by the contrast with nearby Offenbach, where a rather different (and in national terms, rather unusual) local situation enabled the opposition within the KPD to take over the existing party apparatus and to organise locally on the basis of policies which strengthened rather than weakened the overall movement . Conversely, the destruction 'of quasiinstitutions in Frankfurt itself explains the defeat of the unusually strong left within the city's SPD, for within the SPD too, opposition now could only have an institutional (and not a quasi-institutional) basis . In other



words, in 1929 the situation was such that the policies of the existing parties were crucial : writers such as Poulantzas are correct to analyse these in detail, but what they fail to see is why from 1929 onwards these policies should be so unusually decisive . The actual strategy of 'class against class' and the accompanying theory of social fascism was finally adopted by the KPD at its 12th Congress in June 1929, although the origins of the new line can be traced back to Comintern meetings in 1928 .[16] The Congress declared the existence of a period of revolutionary upswing in which all non-revolutionary forces formed a solid front of reaction, externally against the Soviet Union, internally against the working class . Social democracy was accordingly defined as 'social fascist', as in no way progressive, as merely an organ re presenting solely the interests of the bourgeoisie against the increasingly revolutionary working class.[ 171 For the KPD this new left turn was intended to make the party doubly independent of reformism : organisationally independent, in that now new 'rank-and-file' organisations were to allow the party to take the initiative outside the official reformist institutions, and socially independent in that these organisations were to be based on layers of the working class-the unorganised and above all the unemployed-which the reformists had ignored . It is clear that such a strategy was given much credibility by the actions of the SPD itself : entering the Grand Coalition in late June 1928, the SPD became part of a government which then introduced the very measures of naval rearmament the party had campaigned against in the previous election (cf. Caspar, 1959, pp . 78ff) . The SPD's acceptance of responsibility for the Weimar State, and in particular its involvement in government at national and local level, meant that it was forced to justify measures which were widely unpopular with many of its own membership . The politics of the KPD in this period therefore cannot be written off as mere mindless agitation, as the conventional historiography of the Weimar Republic usually does, for its slogans had considerable popular resonance . The problem however was that the theory and strategy of social fascism meant that the party organised in such a way as to make 'social fascism' into a self-fulfilling prophecy-the SPD was driven further to the right but at the same time the KPD became condemned to a radicalism that was ineffectual and isolated, above all because in the situation of 1929 a frontal onslaught on the SPD meant a division of the working class movement, and not merely a conflict between political parties . These processes first became clear in the May riots in Berlin in 1929 . The KPD attempted to set up rank-and-file committees as the basis of 'revolutionary' demonstrations which would be carried out separately from those of the SPD and the trade unions and if necessary in defiance of any police bans . When Zorgiebel, the SPD police president of Berlin, did ban the KPD May Day demonstrations,[18] this must have confirmed for many the correctness of the theory of social fascism-the SPD could hardly have chosen a better way of showing how far it had come from the days before 1914 when it had campaigned for the right to strike and demonstrate on May Day (cf . Anderson, 1948, pp . 184ff) . On May 1, 1929 there was street fighting between communists and



the police in Berlin : it was not until May 4 that the police were again in full control of Neukoln and Wedding, the two most working class areas of the city . The extent of popular support for the KPD is further suggested by the form of the demonstrations-street barricades and actions such as the extinguishing of the street lights required at least the passive support of much of the local population . Nor were the activists mere young 'rowdies' as the SPD press tried to claim : of the 1,228(!) arrests made by the police, 320 were under 20, but 599 between 20 and 30 and 147 over 60 . The problem the KPD faced was not so much lack of immediate support as the inability to organise this support . On the one hand the party was unable to co-ordinate the demonstrations, for the illegal organisation of the party did not function at all and the courier service between the areas collapsed ; on the other hand, sections of the party acted as if they were in an immediately revolutionary situation, and were only brought under control again by the Berlin leadership with considerable difficulty . Further, the extent to which the KPD's new factory organisations were ineffective is shown by the complete failure of the general strike on May Day itself, and by the mere 14,000 who followed the call for solidarity strikes on the next day . The nature of this combination of popular support and political ineffectivity becomes clearer when we examine the unemployed riots in Frankfurt 6 months later . In Frankfurt, as elsewhere in Germany, unemployment was rising rapidly towards the end of 1929 . Indeed, unemployment in the city was above the national average, in particular because of the weakness of the metal industry . During November dismissals continued in the chemical and in the car factories, one metal factory closed completely, so that by the new year, of the total population of the city, roughly every 12th person was unemployed . Particularly important was the rising number of unemployed who, having exhausted their insurance payments, depended solely on city welfare : within the city itself this rose from only 2,000 in September to over 9,000 in January 1930 . It was in this situation that the KPD increased its attempt to organise the unemployed . In the local elections in November 1929 both the KPD and the NSDAP had gained seats, while the SPD had lost .[19] In the first meeting of the new city parliament the KPD put forward an emergency motion calling for a Winterbeihilfe-an extra welfare payment-of 50RM for all unemployed, the costs to be covered by extra taxes on high income groups . Although such motions can easily be dismissed as purely agitational,[201 all speakers in the city parliament accepted the need for some form of special help for the unemployed ; further, not only did the existing city budget include funds for such extra welfare payments, but in the previous year a Winterbeihilfe of 50RM had in fact been paid to the unemployed . Within the city parliament the KPD motion was passed on December 10 with the votes of the KPD, the SPD and the NSDAP fractions . Outside the building several thousand communist supporters demonstrated, shouting 'we want work and bread, or we'll beat you dead' . For the KPD it was the demonstration which had forced the issue, and in Berlin Die



Rote Fahne reported jubilantly, `communists force winter aid'. However the town council, with whom the decision to actually make the payments rested, was not so easily persuaded . Facing an increasing and unplanned budget deficit in the city's finances, it rejected the KPD's proposals and suggested that Winterbeihilfe should be limited to only 10RM for each unemployed . The result was a direct confrontation with the KPD, which was now campaigning in other towns for increased welfare in the same way that it was in Frankfurt . On Tuesday December 17 the city parliament met to discuss the issue again and the KPD now stepped up its campaign . The local KPD newspaper, Die Arbeiterzeitung, accused the SPD police president Steinberg of attempting to provoke 'a bloodbath' and KPD leaflets announced 'the street belongs to us, we won't give way till our demands are met' . In the afternoon the KPD led a march of several thousand through the streets and until late into the evening the police were continually in action as groups of demonstrators tried to force their way into the Romerberg (the main square in front of the town hall), others pushed in windows in the Zeil (the main shopping street of the city) and police cars were bombarded with stones and several times fired on . During the Christmas week the Frankfurt police repeatedly dispersed crowds which appeared to be preparing to break the complete ban imposed on all KPD open-air meetings . As far as parliamentary politics are concerned, the conflict ended with the SPD accepting that some extra benefits would be paid out at the cost of further reductions in expenditures, such as on a new swimming pool, for which the party had earlier campaigned and which would have primarily benefitted the working class population . That is to say, the KPD was unable to bring even sections of the SPD away from their policy of government responsibility at all costs . As far as the politics of the street are concerned, the KPD again proved unable to mobilise and organise more than a small section of the unemployed . Although the increase in unemployment in Frankfurt in the autumn of 1929 came in particular from the chemical and above all the metal industry, not a single metal or chemical worker was amongst those arrested during the demonstrations . Further, instead of the mass marches of the factory workforces which had characterised the period up to 1923, or the organised popular demonstrations of the period of stability, the demonstrations themselves were a series of isolated clashes with the police, even if they culminated in a semiinsurrectionary situation in the Altstadt, the picturesque slum area in the centre of the city . The Altstadt itself was no solidly proletarian area, but included both a substantial criminalised population and a large proportion of traditional petty bourgeois (small shopkeepers, traders and self-employed craftsmen), so that the demonstrations were thus physically isolated from the core working class housing areas in the industrial parts of the city .[21 ] Unlike the demonstrations of the two previous periods then, the riots of 1929/1930 were at most the temporary organisation of one isolated section of the working class . It is of course easy to argue that all this was the inevitable consequence of mass unemployment, but such an argument not only makes politics the automatic result of a given 'social situation' in the manner



criticised earlier, it can conveniently be challenged by examining the case of nearby Offenbach . Under the leadership of Heinrich Galm, the Offenbach KPD had been one of the key bases of the right-wing opposition within the party which had opposed the party's new ultra left line,[221 and Offenbach was one of the few areas where the new 'right wing' KPO was able to win over the existing local KPD party organisation . One reason for this is clear : until 1928 the strength of the KPD in Offenbach, in complete contrast to the situation in Frankfurt, had been its detailed work in local trade union and communal affairs, and it is clear that Galm and his supporters were not prepared to see this jeopardized .[231 Significantly, the KPO's campaign for the local elections of 1929 stressed its local commitment and competence : local issues, such as an ongoing controversy with the city of Frankfurt over the gas supply, were an integral part of its propaganda, and Galm's good humoured speeches, replete with local jokes, indicated his stature as a successful local politician . At the same time, the KPO attempted to utilise and expand the existing institutions of the working class movement, organising successful election meetings for members of the leather workers' union and for the local unemployed . The election results confirmed the value of this approach : while the KPD lost three seats, the KPO gained five, and now had an 11 strong fraction in the Offenbach city parliament . Work amongst the unemployed was one of the main activities of the KPO in 1929/1930 . However, its agitation was utterly different in style to that of the KPD, a typical KPO unemployed meeting being attended largely by older workers with their wives and children . Like the KPD, the KPO campaigned for Winterbeihilfe in December 1929, calling meetings attended by up to 1,000 people . Certainly, these demonstrations themselves do suggest how the different unemployed agitation of the KPD could also become successful . For example, on December 12, 1929 the KPO held an unemployed demonstration attended by about 800 despite pouring rain . After singing the "Internationale", the demonstrators marched through the city-as they passed the town hall they shouted the KPD slogan "give us work and bread or we'll beat you dead" and the trade union office was greeted with boos and groans . However, and this is decisive, at the same time as the demonstration Galm was negotiating directly with the mayor on behalf of the unemployed . The aim of the KPO unemployed organisation was both to force real concessions and on this basis precisely to organise the unemployed . Thus, while the KPD agitation merely stressed what the unemployed already knew-the bleakness of their situation-the KPO attempted to show that through organisation real if limited gains could be achieved .[241 Further, the KPO utilised its strong local position to put pressure on the SPD . Although immediately after May 1 1929 the KPO in Offenbach had called protest meetings against what it too called 'Zorgeibel's bloodbath' in Berlin, it never rejected negotiations with the SPD . Thus after the November elections the KPO attempted to persuade the SPD that the two parties should form a 'red majority' in the city parliament . On January 15 a public meeting of over 1,200 was called by the KPO on this slogan . Although the SPD at the last minute refused to send a speaker, Galm con-



tinued to argue that only a local alliance with the SPD could safeguard the city's financial autonomy and so prevent cuts in social welfare . The KPO's strategy in Offenbach stands then in complete contrast to that of the KPD in Frankfurt . While the KPD isolated its own supporters and would not organise them effectively even in this isolation, the KPO was continually concerned to strengthen and move leftwards the working class movement as a whole . This is shown not only in its attempt to compel the SPD to resist (instead of passively accepting) the cuts in social welfare, but more importantly, in its attempts both to utilise existing working class institutions and to create new ones-institutions which could form the basis of a proletarian public. Within one local area then, a different politics to those of the KPD were able to some extent to prevent unemployment from dividing the working class movement . However, in Frankfurt itself, the left within the SPD was unable to make a similar breakthrough, despite apparent favourable conditions . As elsewhere in Germany, in Frankfurt the decisive issue for the left in the SPD was the extent to which the party should form coalitions with bourgeois parties . In preparation for the party's congress in Magdeburg which debated the issue in May 1929 (cf . Hunt, 1970, pp . 228ff; Drechsler, 1965, pp . 40ff), the Frankfurt local organisation had passed a motion critical of the coalition policy and two of its three delegates were opposed to coalition . Significantly, while the bulk of the SPD Frankfurt leadership were full-time trade union or party officials, these delegates-Karl Beul and Andreas Portune-were shop stewards in the DMV and had a personal history which went back to activity in the USPD and the factory committees of the Revolution of 1918 .[25] However, unlike ten years earlier, these same leaders were now unable to develop any real mass basis . For people such as Portune and Beul, the SPD's election losses in 1929 were the deserved result of coalition with bourgeois parties in government, and they proceeded to call a series of party membership meetings to make their point . The extent of discontent within the party in early 1930 is shown by the fact that Portune's motion that the SPD immediately leave the coalition was finally only defeated by 112 to 136 votes . Indeed, the subsequent attempt of the Bezirk (regional) party organisation to counter the growing strength of the Frankfurt left at first misfired, cementing the emerging alliance between the marxist left and other elements within the local party leadership critical of party policy . Determined to break the left's editorial control of the local party newspaper, without any warning the regional press commission dismissed Hans Marckwald, a left-wing member of the editorial committee. This was clearly perceived by nearly all the Frankfurt SPD as an unwarranted step, and their opposition was made particularly vehement by the fact that under the shock of his dismissal, Marckwald and his wife attempted joint suicide . It was Kirchner himself who now led the attack on the regional secretary, Paul Rohle, whom he accused of engineering Marckwald's dismissal . When Rohle appeared at a membership meeting of the Frankfurt party he was hardly able to make himself heard, Kirchner demanded his resignation, and a motion along these lines proposed by Portune was passed by an overwhelming majority .



Nonetheless, although the call for Rohle's dismissal was confirmed at the quarterly delegate meeting of the Frankfurt party in June 1930, Rohle was able to ignore the storm in the local organisation and Marckwald remained dismissed . Indeed, these events marked the peak of the left's influence within the Frankfurt party . When the left finally broke with the SPD to form the new Socialist Workers' Party of Germany (SAPD), individuals such as Marckwald and Portune, despite their undoubted popularity within the local organisation, were joined by less than 400 of the party's Frankfurt members and were completely unable to even begin to attract to their new organisation important moderate critics of the party's policy such as Kirchner . By the end of 1931 in the Hessen-Nassau region as a whole, less than 400 SPD members had resigned to join the SAPD, and the new party was politically and organisationally isolated . It was a dramatic contrast to the founding of the USPD twelve years earlier . What is decisive about the defeat of the SPD left is the arena within which it occurred, namely solely within the SPD itself . Indeed, the case of Portune is almost exemplary . Portune always stressed that he would remain, in his terms, a member of the working class, and this meant that even when elected to the Reichstag on the SPD list in 1930 he attempted to continue in his occupation of metalworker . And this demonstrative commitment to his origins was undoubtedly popular-it was indeed one of the reasons for his drawing power as the SPD's most popular local speaker in the election campaign of 1930 . However, Portune was completely unable to utilise this support in any organised fashion, just as he was unable to use his position within the local DMV to develop an independent power base . Once the working class movement had become identical with the official institutions with which it is usually identified, the chances for political innovation were slim indeed . 5 . THE KPD AND THE RGO STRATEGY : THE ISOLATION OF RADICALISM So far we have seen that the crucial feature of the conjuncture of

1929/1930 was that the politics of the KPD and the SPD operated together to divide the working class movement . This was possible because in the previous period the movement had already become a movement of institutions without any developed quasi-institutional sub-structure . It was this combination of a specific set of policies of the parties and a specific organisational form of the movement that ensured the ineffectiveness both of the KPD's agitation amongst the unemployed and of the attempts of the SPD left to challenge the coalition policy of their own party . However, the official institutions of the working class movement included not simply the political parties, but also of course the trade unions to which until 1929 most employed communists belonged . It is here that the new strategy of the KPD was most disastrous, because the new line of the RGO (Revolutionare Gewerkschaftsopposition) operated to confirm the SPD's definition of the communists as dividers and wreckers . As such the RGO strategy is a vital part of the defeat of the left within the SPD it-



self : while the SPD left called for a working class mobilisation against the government, and this implied at least limited co-operation with the KPD, the RGO strategy made such co-operation effectively impossible (quite apart from the fact that the theory of social fascism defined the SPD left wingers as the most dangerous social fascists of all) (Lehndorff, 1975, pp . 86f) . Central to the KPD's analysis of the role of the official trade unions was the assumption that, just like the SPD, the German trade union bureaucracy had now become merely an instrument of repression . Accordingly, instead of (as previously) attempting to compel the trade union leadership to support rank-and-file demands, the new strategy aimed at creating new mass organisations based primarily on workers who were unskilled and not trade union members .[26] Given what was seen as the complete integration of the trade unions into capitalism, it followed that the RGO would have to organise economic struggles independently of the trade unions ; such struggles would automatically become political struggles, and the form of struggle would be the political mass strike . Hence the necessity of opposing revolutionary candidates to the official trade union candidates in the works council elections, hence too the necessity of organising struggles under elected strike leaderships and of ignoring the official trade union institutions . [271 As we shall now see, this strategy meant that the KPD now lost much of its traditional support in the skilled and trade union organised sections of the working class, while it could only appeal to the unorganised and to the least privileged amongst employed workers at the cost of completely isolating them from the rest of the working class movement . Within the Frankfurt area there was one factory where if anywhere the RGO strategy should have been successful, namely the works of the firm of Adam Opel in the town of Russelsheim to the West of the city . In complete contrast to the small-scale factories and the skilled workers of Offenbach and Hanau to the East, and to the variegated metal industry of Frankfurt itself, Opel had almost from its beginning in 1862 been based on mass production techniques . Always producing mass consumption goods, first sewing machines, then bicycles, during the 1920s Opel became the largest car factory in Germany .[28] During the Weimar period Opel's strategy was in sharp distinction to the rest of the German car industry . While during the inflation period the other car firms simply expanded production on the basis of existing machinery, and then campaigned vehemently for tariff protection, Opel orientated towards the new possibilities of mass production through a policy of continual investment and innovation. In 1923 one of the first assembly lines in Europe was installed,[29] enabling the introduction of the 'Laubfrosch', the first German mass produced car . A smaller, random example of innovation : in 1928 new railway bays were built so that cars could be loaded direct from the assembly line and test track onto the railway wagons, cutting the number of workers involved from 56 to 25 and the time per car from 20 minutes to 4 (Seherr-Thoss 1974, p . 152) . By 1928, Opel employed nearly 10% of all workers in the German car industry and was producing 42,000 cars a year .[30] Precisely because



Russelsheim was the most advanced car factory in Germany, perhaps in Europe, in 1928/1929 Opel was bought by General Motors (Sloan, 1964, pp . 197, 332-327) . More than European manufacturers, more even than Opel itself, American firms were able to finance and market the new mass consumption goods on the hitherto unprecedented scale towards which they were moving the industry : in 1929 General Motors' Vice-President, Alfred P . Sloan, told an incredulous gathering of RUsselsheim works councillors that in the next five years production would rise from 40,000 cars per year to 200,000 .[31 ] Such a form and scale of production should have meant that in Opel, if anywhere in the Frankfurt area, there existed a 'massified' working class, according to Roth, the basis for' the `other' working class movement . But closer examination shows that such a categorisation is questionable . Although Opel had certainly the most advanced form of mass car production in Germany at the time, this does not mean to say that the workers were predominantly semi-skilled . according to the DMV in 1929 66% of the 4,800 metal workers employed in car production in Opel were skilled ('Gelernte') workers, against an average of 56 .6% for the industry as a whole, and interestingly, against 57 .4% for Adler in Frankfurt, where production methods were much less aavanced .[321 It is of course possible that these skilled workers actually carried out basically semi-skilled tasks, but on this the evidence is contradictory . Further, although Opel was renowned for the uncertainty of its employment (not only did production in the auto industry in general fluctuate according to the season, but in Opel itself it was common for the factory to be shut down for several weeks at a time while production was reorganised or work on new models prepared), at the same time the firm was well known locally for its relatively high wages .[33] Crucially, with 88% of all car workers unionised, Opel was the third best organised car factory in Germany and was way above the (itself high) industry average of 70 .6% . Any revolutionary strategy which ignored this would clearly face enormous difficulties . After the take-over of Opel by GM the KPD increased its agitational work in the factory .[34] However, up until mid-1929 the party appears to have attempted to overcome the divisions within the work-force through strengthening and radicalising the trade unions-the party members, in line with the party's general trade union strategy, presented themselves as more effective trade unionists than the SPD and the reformists . Thus the first number of the KPD's factory newspaper in Opel, Der Opel Prolet, urged all Opel workers to join the DMV . In the factory council election campaign in spring 1929 the paper pointed out that, while the SPD accused the communists of putting forward a candidate list of unorganised workers, all the KPD candidates were in fact trade union members ; later in the year, defending themselves against the charge of splitting the trade unions, the communists could still argue that the limitation of the reformist trade union strategy was that it actually weakened the unions by being concerned only with those workers who were already trade union members, instead of trying to involve all workers in the union . The situation in 1929 was in fact extremely favourable for such a



militant trade union based offensive within Opel . American ownership meant that now as total sales began to fall,[35] rationalisation and speedup continued and intensified, however with American trained supervisors and increased use of time-and-motion studies, in 1929 the work-force was cut from 10,500 to around 6,000, and it was alleged that the firm was now only interested in employing young workers . Indeed, the Frankfurt SPD newspaper repeated an argument common in the KPD's factory agitation when it commented that the factory combined American standards of high productivity with European standards of low wages and bad working conditions . Instead of defending its membership against such rationalisation, the DMV officially encouraged it . Throughout the 1920s the union had campaigned for greater concentration and rationalisation in the industry, claiming that the resulting increase in productivity would enable firms to afford higher wages . Not only was nationalisation never demanded and issues of working conditions never raised, but the American industry was explicitly held up as an example for Germany to emulate : not surprisingly therefore, the DMV never mentioned the low trade union organisation and the bad working conditions in the American car plants . The union leadership's commitment to such a position opened up new possibilities for successful opposition . Firstly, to the extent that rationalisation was an attack on the position of the more skilled workers, those more conservative union functionaries who were nonetheless actually based within the factories were now under pressure .[36] Secondly, and more obviously, support for rationalisation and concentration, because of its long term benefits of higher pay, could well have been credible for trade union members in the modest expansion of the 1920s . In the current depression however, even Opel was dismissing workers : the costs of the policy were clear, the benefits rather less obvious . The RGO strategy however meant that such possibilities could not be exploited by the KPD . In Opel itself, while communists were never explicitly told to leave the DMV, the party's propaganda began to treat the union as unambiguously reactionary . This was all the more easy to do since in October the two leading communist members of the works council, Mauer and Jiilich, were expelled from the union for anti-trade union behaviour, in particular for having stood on an opposition candidate list in the works council elections . By early 1930 communist policy in the factory had moved even further left in line with a shift of the entire RGO . In January 1930, articles in the Berlin Rote Fahne openly argued for the mass political strike as an immediate aim and this would appear to have been the theme of the RGO area conference for Hessen-Nassau held in Frankfurt on January 25-26 . Now, precisely when employment in the factory was insecure, the communists were ordered to go onto the offensive . Already in November the social democratic works councillors had been described as mere agents of the employers, now the coming wage cuts and dismissals were to be opposed in a way that would expose the communist works councillors to immediate repression . In January 1930 the communist factory newspaper explicitly criticised the KPD works councillors for `passivity' which, so



it was claimed, showed that the communist cadres in the factory were more conservative than the allegedly radical masses, and that this isolation could only be overcome by a more radical strategy, the mobilisation of the masses themselves under the leadership of directly elected 'struggle committees'. The immediate issue chosen in Opel was the factory wage agreement, negotiated in mid-1929 and vehemently opposed by the RGO at the time . After agitation in some of the lowest-paid shops where there had already been brief strikes, the communists called for a strike of the entire factory . The firm responded by immediately dismissing the three communist councillors claiming that by calling a strike in this way they had illegally misused their posts . Even though it was later admitted that to dismiss councillors without the permission of a labour court was itself illegal, the firm was fully supported in this action by all the other works council members . Thus, while for the leading social democrats in the factory the communists' demands merely showed their complete irresponsibility, for the communists themselves all their own arguments were now vindicated-the `social fascists' would do anything to engineer the dismissal of revolutionaries . The communists attempted to use the dismissals as an issue around which to call a mass strike which would directly challenge the works council as well as the firm . The next morning, February 12, a newly formed KPD-led strike committee issued leaflets demanding the dismissal of the works council chairman Reviol from the firm, the dissolution of the entire works council pending new elections, as well as the re-instatement of the three dismissed communists and the granting of the original wage demands . In line with the new RGO strategy, the strike call was backed up from outside : a crowd of unemployed (including workers recently dismissed from Opel), led by Hermann Sumpf and Oskar Muller, communist members of the Hessen state parliament, attempted to force its way into the factory . Although the factory gates were shut against them, some of the crowd were able to break their way through while others managed to scale the perimeter wall . Inside the factory MUller addressed a mass meeting in the factory yard and called for a total strike . Then some strikers attempted to put the main boiler of the factory out of action and the communists marched through the buildings trying to gain support . How much success they had is doubtful . Although all work stopped within the factory, most of the workers appeared to have reacted passively and not to have joined the subsequent demonstration in front of the management building . Although one participant insists that the several hundred police who rapidly arrived on the scene did not dare enter the factory for fear of the resistance they would have met, the police were able to seal off the factory with little difficulty . Despite small demonstrations in front of the gates, the police with the aid of factory guards were soon able to arrest the three dismissed councillors as well as Killer and Sumpf. Despite some alleged sabotage, the next day work resumed as normal . As would be expected, communist and social democratic accounts of what the non-communist press rapidly termed the 'Opel putsch' were wildly divergent. Even more than the bourgeois press, the local SPD



paper's account stressed the alleged machine breaking and, unlike any other paper, described the crowd that tried to enter the factory as including 700 uniformed KPD members .[37] Nonetheless, all the nonKPD press agreed that very few Opel workers had been involved . While the later issues of the KPD factory newspapers claimed that such accounts were completely distorted, they are nonetheless probably nearer the truth

than the version published by Rote Fahne in Berlin, according to which all but a few social democratic functionaries had elected the leadership of the strike, which was only defeated by the violent military repression of 700 armed police (together with representatives of the French and British occupation forces) rampaging in the factory . Nonetheless, the Opel workers themselves were clearly unconvinced by such hyperbole . The RGO had criticised its own works councillors for 'legalistic' tendencies in 1929-now the new 'revolutionary' candidates were severely defeated in the April works council elections, the RGO vote falling from 40% in 1929 to a mere 22% in 1930 . The defeat of the February 'putsch' opened the way for massive repression in the factory . During 1930 work-discipline was continually increased : there was increased use of time-and-motion studies and the first introduction of uniforms, there was instant dismissal for any strike action which was either illegal or against already negotiated agreements, and by 1931, even for bad work-standards . At the same time control over workers' representatives was increased : a new complaints procedure was introduced which obliged all communication between workers and works councillors to be made known to the management ; while the six most senior works councillors were made full-time representatives and paid by the firm, the other councillors were strictly limited to holding only one meeting a month . Not surprisingly in this situation, all attempts by the KPD to revive the wages issue were completely ineffective, and although the party's factory cell still included 50 people, its members were now completely demoralised .[38] On the other side, the SPD and the trade union could only offer a policy of complete passivity . The SPD factory newspaper concentrated almost entirely upon attacking the communists for their alleged incompetence, their utopianism and their deceitfulness, while pointing out the lack of trade union rights in the USSR . As far as conditions in the factory went, the paper could only complain that the work was inhuman and issue vague appeals in support of the trade union . Yet the combination of anti-communism and warnings against hasty action could provide no solution to the increasingly desperate situation in the factory . When in mid-1931 the firm threatened either a further 2,000 permanent dismissals or the complete closure of the factory, the SPD could only argue that it was important that the factory stay open, however few people were left . . . so that at least the works council could remain in existence! The inability of the KPD to even put forward any alternative shows how the party's effective strength in the factory had been decimated, not simply by mass unemployment, but by its own tactics, tactics which were doomed to failure, however attractive and realistic they may have appeared to its own supporters .



6 . CONCLUSIONS In 1929/1930, for the first time in the entire Weimar Republic, the entire working class movement was divided . Underneath the increased conflict between the KPD and SPD lay the disappearance of any common institutional or quasi-institutional arena within which activists of both parties could operate. The mutually hostile parties and the trade unions now were the divided movement, and once the communists allowed themselves to be driven out of the unions and the two parties no longer engaged in any common activities, the working class movement was reduced to the common language and rhetoric of the proletarian political public, but nothing else . In this new situation the radicalism of the KPD's supporters could become the isolated radicalism of only a section of the working class, for the very precondition of this radicalism was the destruction of the institutional and quasi-institutional links which had tied the party's supporters to other sections of the class . As such the theory of social fascism was by no means merely imposed by Stalin or the Comintern, but was perfectly acceptable to many of the KPD's own members-but this hardly prevented it from being completely self-defeating . The approach of this paper attempts to break with much Marxist and neo-Marxist historical work which, particularly perhaps in Germany, often collapses either into narrowly political history (the institutional and theoretical development of particular organisations) or alternatively into social history in the usual sense . Such analyses clearly have their relevance, but they cannot answer a question such as the reason for both the credibility and the self-destructiveness of `social fascism' . However, the focus on the working class movement as such is not just important for historical research, it also has political implications for today which can now be very briefly suggested . Firstly, although the. theory of social fascism as such is dead and buried, its core-the twin beliefs in the total integration of social democracy and the implied uncritical acceptance of any mass radicalism -lives on in often unexpected quarters (cf. Holloway and Picciotto, 1977) . By contrast, the focus on the working class movement, far from justifying spontaneism, has indicated both the crucial importance of social democratic organisations and the potentially (and only that) self-destructive nature of radical movements which are isolated from the movement as a whole . The consequences for strategy in the organisation of the unemployed or for campaigning against the National Front are hopefully obvious . Secondly, while a position such as Roth's is criticised here for its 'spontaneist' understanding of organisation, this is not the usual `Leninist' critique . That is to say, both Roth and Poulantzas are criticised for equating organisation solely with formal institutions ; by contrast, the purpose of this paper has been to stress the importance of quasi-institutions, and on this basis, to understand the working class movement itself as organisation, something clearly that cannot be done if analysis is restricted to the institutions as such . Accordingly the approach of a self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninist such as Poulantzas appears inadequate, for it gives the



politics of the party priority over the politics of the movement, the latter indeed being something which to Poulantzas is almost invisible . If the organisation of the movement was decisive in Weimar Germany, it is arguable that it is even more important today . It is at least plausible that the political structures of advanced capitalism are such that it is now impossible for any one organisation to totally dominate the movement, and that any party which attempts to do this is doomed to defeat (here Louis Althusser's comments in Le Monde on the defeat of the French Communist Party in the recent elections are instructive) . Consequently, Marxists must begin to break with the long tradition, inherited largely from Lenin, that treats 'the party' as the sole theorisable locus of political initiative, and equally importantly, begin to reformulate the problem of democracy within socialist organisations . Once we accept the importance of the movement, then the question of socialist democracy is not just a question of inner-party democracy, nor even of commitment to a multiparty situation, but involves an awareness of the location of these organisations within a wider movement . The best guarantee of democracy in formal organisations is that they be located within a strong movement, one which can provide a continual basis for political innovation, if necessary against the established leaderships . In other words, today, even more so than in Weimar, it is the unity, strength and dominant politics of the working class movement, and not the nature of 'the party' in isolation, which form the decisive political questions for socialists.

REFERENCES James Wickham lectures in sociology at Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland . This paper derives from ongoing work on local working class politics in the Weimar Republic . For a summary cf . my "Outline-Nazism and the German Working Class : Class Organisation and the Working Class Movement in Frankfurt am Main during the Weimar Republic" in Radika/er Historiker no. 1 March, 1978) . I have been helped a great deal by discussions with in particular Erhard Lucas, Dieter Rebentisch, Eva-Cornelia Schock, Lothar Wentzel ; my thanks also to Mark Jones, Sol Picciotto, Tim Putnam and Nick Sage for their very helpful comments on an earlier draft . For the arguments developed here I take sole responsibility! 1 The standard, if narrow, account in English remains Grebing, 1969 ; Anderson, 1946, provides a useful participant's over-view . 2 However, as above all Gordon 1972 makes clear the role of the Nazi party (NSDAP) in the Munich putsch was qualitatively different to the situation after 1929, since in 1923 the party relied almost totally on co-operation with other right-wing organisations . 3 Cf. Angress, 1963 ; Flechtheim 1969, pp . 182ff ; Weber, 1969, I, pp . 43ff. 4 For an overview of the current state of discussion cf . Lucas, et. a/., c.&c .-c



1977 . In his contribution to this volume, Roth qualifies but does not basically change his earlier arguments . 5 For the best contemporary study cf. Jahoda et. al., 1972 (a study of unemployment in an Austrian industrial village in the early 1930s) . 6 Cf. also Brockhaus, 1974 . These studies derive from the thesis of the 'massified worker' developed by Italian Marxists in the late 1950s and 1960s as a generalisation from an analysis of changes in the Italian working class. Cf . above all Tronti, 1974 and, for the starting point of Roth's argument, Bologna, 1976. A critical overview from a conventional Marxist position is provided by Minssen & Sauerborn, 1977 . The first sustained empirical historical confrontation with the arguments of these writers is the brilliant study by Lucas, 1976 ; cf . my review in Capital and Class no . 1 (Spring, 1977), pp . 122-125 . 7 Roth clearly implies this for the period of the Depression . For the previous periods Roth, following Bologna, treats the SPD and the KPD as reformist because of what is claimed to be their skilled working class basis . In many ways the thesis of the massified working class is a left wing 8 version of mass society theory and of the political analyses of modernisation theory . It is from such perspectives, for example, that Comfort analyses radicalism in Hamburg after 1918 in terms of the entry into politics of a new 'mass' working class. Cf . Comfort, 1966 . Roth argues, in almost conventional Leninist fashion, that the revo9 lutionary movement after 1918 was defeated because of its lack of coordination ; how such organisation could have been reconciled with the 'spontaneity' which apparently distinguished the 'other' working class is something Roth does not discuss . 10 Cf. my paper, "Nicos Poulantzas and the Dilemmas of Leninism", British Sociological Association Conference, 1977 . 11 To save space, detailed sources for the following account are not indicated separately (full documentation will be available in my forthcoming thesis for the University of Sussex, "Nazism and the German Working Class: Class Organisation and Class Politics in the Weimar Republic") . The main sources used are : a) newspapers : Die Volksstimme (the Frankfurt SPD daily newspaper), Frankfurter Nachrichten and Frankfurter Zeitung (two of the leading Frankfurt bourgeois newspapers) together with individual numbers of other local newspapers and of Die Rote Fahne (the KPD's central organ, published daily in Berlin) ; b) police reports for Berlin and Hessen state from the Staatsarchiv, Bremen ; c) other archival material from the Stadtische Archiv (Frankfurt), the Hessische Hauptarchiv (Weisbaden), and the Firmen Archiv Hoechst AG (Frankfurt-Hochst) ; d) annual reports and other publications of the Frankfurt office of the DMV ; e) published administrative reports of the Frankfurt city administration and the protocols of the meetings of the Frankfurt city council ;



f) tape-recorded interviews with members of working-class organisations in the Weimar period from Frankfurt and the surrounding area . 12 Cf . Weber, pp 280ff; Flechtheim, pp . 311 ff ; Wunderer . 1976 . 13 Cf . also Rebentisch, 1975, esp . p . 228 . 14 An insightful account of these events by one of the local USPD leaders is Sender 1940 . 15 The importance of craft skills as a basis for independence from specific employers has been analysed by labour market theory : cf. Doeringer & Piore, 1971 ; also Mann 1973 . 16 Notably the 9th ECCI Plenum (February, 1928), the 4th RGI Congress (July/September, 1928) . 17 Weber, I, pp . 223ff; Bahne, p . 12 ; Flechtheim, pp. 248ff. 18 Grzesinski, the Prussian Minister of the interior, had in fact gone so far as to demand that the KPD itself be banned . Cf . Severing, 1950, 11, pp . 186f. 19 This is not to argue that the general correlation between rising unemployment and rising NSDAP vote means that it was the unemployed who were voting for the NSDAP, as is often argued . That active Nazi support (in particular within the SA) came partially from unemployed (and working class) youth is undeniable, but it is clear that this could not have provided the first wave of mass Nazi support in 1929 . Cf. McKibbin, 1969 . 20 As Rebentisch in particular argues ; cf. Rebentisch, 1975, pp . 233, 259f, 268 . 21 This account of the Altstadt draws from an unpublished study of the area kindly made available to me by Professor Franz Lerner and from ongoing work on the social structure of the Frankfurt working class . 22 Cf. Tjaden, 1963 which contains a brief biography of Galm . 23 A rather similar situation appears to have existed in Hanau, where Karl Rehbein, one of the local leaders, considered that the new policy of the KPD jeopardised the party's basis within the DMV . Rehbein was in close contact with Heinrich Galm, but much to the latter's disappointment, subsequently rejoined the SPD . 24 For a similar criticism of the KPD's unemployment agitation cf . Huber-Koller, 1977, esp . p . 116 . 25 Lucas, 1969, p . 15 ; Drechsler, 1965, pp . 207-208 (Drechsler's study contains a brief biography of Portune) . 26 'Was wir wollen', Betrieb and Gewerkschaft 4 .18 (1 . Juli 1929), p . 317 . 27 Cf. 'Massenstreik', Betrieb and Gewerkschaft 2 .2 (15 January 1930), pp . 38-41 ; Paul Merker, 'Zwei Fronten zu den Betriebsratewahlen', Betrieb and Gewerkschaft 2 .3 (1 February 1930), pp . 68-70 ; Paul Merker, 'Das nachste Kettengleid', Betrieb and Gewerkschaft 2 .4 (15 February 1930), pp . 97-100 . 28 Cf . K . Weigand, 'Russelsheim and die Funktion der Stadt im RheinMain Gebiet (Frankfurt, 1955), esp . pp . 28f; SPD Russelsheim am Main, Festschrift zum 60 jahrigen Jubiloum der Sozialdemokratische

Partei Deutschlands Russelsheim and zum Bezirksparteitag Hessen-



Slid (Russelsheim, 1955) . 29 M . Hammer, Vergleichende Morphologie der Arbeit in der europdischen Automobilindustrie (Basel -Tiibingen, 1959), p . '18 (cited in Roth, p . 85) ; DMV, Die deutsche Automobilindustrie, 1924 (Stuttgart (1924), p . 22 ; idem ., Die deutsche Autoindustrie An fang 1928 (Stuttgart 1928)), pp . 8f. 30 Seherr-Thoss, 1974, pp . 223, 557 ; Adam Opel AG, Verkauf-Statistik, 1976 ; DMV, Die deutsche Autoindustrie Ende 1925 ; DMV, Die deutsche Automobilindustrie Ende 1929; Weigand, p . 29 . 31 In fact Sloan was rather optimistic : the first year in which more than 200,000 cars were produced was 1956 . Cf . also Sloan, 1964, p . 327 . 32 DMV, Die deutsche A utoindustrie Ende 1929, pp . 13ff. 33 Cf. also H . Ludwig, 'Die Arbeitslosigkeit in der deutschen Automobilindustrie', in DerArbeitslosigkeitderGegenwart (Munich & Leipzig, 1932), pp . 121-154, esp . pp . 123ff. 34 In addition to the sources cited above, this account of events at Opel draws on a collection of KPD and SPD factory newspapers in the Stadtische Archiv, Russelsheim . I would like to thank Peter Schirmbeck and his colleagues of the city museum Russelsheim, as well as Wolfgang Ebenloh and Sigi Roth, for their help in gathering material for this section . 35 During the Depression Opel's total sales did not in fact decline as much as those of other German car manufacturers, largely because of its high exports : in June 1931 Opel exported over a quarter of total production, in June of that year producing 77% of all German car exports. Cf. Seherr-Thoss, p . 186 ; Adam Opel AG, Verkauf-Statistik . 36 DMV, "Protokoll der Reichskonferenz der in der Autoindustrie beschaftigen Arbeiter, abgehalten am 23 . Februar in Frankfurt a .M ." (Stuttgart (1930)), pp . 9, 11 . 37 The 'machine breaking' which the social democrats made so much of in fact seems to have basically involved the cutting of the transmission belts which drove most of the machinery from overhead shafts . 38 Information supplied by the then KPD 'Instrukteur' to the Opel factory cell . It is notable that whereas at a meeting in Russelsheim after the strike, a representative of the KPD's central organisation such as Paul Merker could claim that 'the recent events in the Opel works have had a favourable response far beyond the German frontiers' ; on the same occasion an actual participant such as Oskar Muller admitted publicly that the strike had been a defeat .

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