Speech at the International Commemoration Ceremony in Buchenwald on August 5, 2007

Dear friends, comrades and antifascists,

It is a great honor for me to speak to you today on behalf of the MLPD at this historical site.

Here in the Buchenwald concentration camp a quarter of a million people were imprisoned, enslaved, tormented by Hitlerite fascism. 51,000 were murdered.

Here in the Buchenwald concentration camp, 62 years ago on April 11, 1945, the prisoners, relying on their own strength, freed themselves from their fascist torturers. Scarcely a month later, on May 8, 1945, the German fascists were forced to surrender unconditionally to the anti-Hitler coalition.

On behalf of German imperialism, Hitlerite fascism unleashed the Second World War in 1939. The fascist ideology of a ”people without territory” that needs colonies and land in the East, in Poland and in the Ukraine corresponded to the greed of the German monopolies for raw materials and spheres of influence.

Thus, from the outset German imperialism was geared to a war against the then socialist Soviet Union. 55 million dead, cities and villages destroyed, land laid waste, millions of refugees, unimaginable misery, years of starvation, those were the horrible consequences.

Something like that must never be allowed to happen again! – this burned itself deeply and indelibly into the consciousness of the workers and the broad masses in Germany.

The prisoners who liberated themselves in Buchenwald as the US Army was approaching came from 50 countries. The 18 countries from which most of the prisoners came are honored by the 18 columns which we passed on the way here. The sculpture by Fritz Cremer which stands before us here is dedicated to the resistance struggle inside the camp.

The self-liberation of the prisoners in Buchenwald is unique for a concentration camp on German soil. It was preceded by years of systematic, illegal, highly organized resistance under the most complicated conditions and under the constant threat of death.

The organized antifascists among the prisoners, led by an international camp committee which worked in strictly covert fashion, performed acts of sabotage in the arms industry, smuggled weapons into the camp, saved prisoners from certain death wherever this was possible, practiced mutual solidarity, organized political and cultural education and saved tens of thousands of lives.

They built up an international military organization with 900 partly armed fighters. This resistance was mainly carried and led by comrades from the communist parties of eleven countries.

It was an international resistance. It was even called the ”Little International”, following the example of the Communist International which organized the unity of the communist parties around the globe in that period.

On August 18, 1944, here, in Buchenwald, on personal orders of Hitler, the chairman of the Communist Party of Germany, Ernst Thälmann, was murdered. Here in this place it is a great honor for us to manifest our roots and our bonds with the revolutionary tradition of the German working class.

We are proud to be able to conduct our ceremony today with so many international guests with whom we are linked by the strong bond of antifascist struggle and proletarian internationalism.

In the 1930s, in the industrial proletariat, the will had matured to fight to achieve a socialist order modeled after the Soviet Union in Germany, too. The Hitlerite fascists had passed their zenith in the 1932 elections and the KPD gained increasingly greater mass influence. In this situation the monopolies availed themselves of Hitler, who at the Industry Club in Düsseldorf in 1932 had announced to them, among other things, that he intended to ”completely rot out Marxism in Germany”!

The monopolies had been funding the Nazis from as early as 1922. The central committee of the employers’ associations set up a special “Adolf Hitler donation fund” into which each member company had to pay a sum equal to a certain percentage of its payroll.

The head of this foundation was Alfred Krupp. Today Thyssen-Krupp is one of the world’s leading steel monopolies. In 1933 the Nazi party, the NSDAP, received four million reichsmarks of support from the IG Farben group alone. IG Farben was then a cartel of the leading German chemical monopolies. They cooperated closely with the SS, which gave them  concentration camp prisoners to work themselves to death in their factories.

At the same time, the fascists bought from them a gas called Zyklon-B, for a fantastic profit. Millions of Jews were gassed with it, in Auschwitz and elsewhere. The present-day international supermonopolies BASF and Bayer-Leverkusen emerged from the IG Farben combine.

To this day, each year they do not fail to lay a wreath in honor of a former boss of IG Farben on the anniversary of his death. Fascism is nothing else than the most aggressive, most reactionary form of rule of imperialism.

It is directed above all against the revolutionary working-class movement and socialism! In the struggle against fascism, the death toll in the Soviet Union alone reached 27 million.

In the struggle against fascism, in particular the communists, but also social-democrats and Christians made infinitely great sacrifices. Systematically, the working class of Germany was robbed of its revolutionary leadership. This has had a painful impact from the Second World War through today.

It is a deliberate falsification by bourgeois historians to claim that fascism was directed mainly at the Jews and that the German people collectively were responsible for Hitlerite fascism.

When the facade of bourgeois democracy no longer can be maintained, the monopolies take recourse to the openly terrorist method of rule.

Hitlerite fascism did not have its mass basis – unlike a military dictatorship, fascism actually has a mass basis – among the workers. It was based in the petty-bourgeois intermediate strata and the lumpenproletariat.

The establishment of the fascist dictatorship nevertheless was the biggest defeat for the German working-class movement.

Undoubtedly, the chief responsibility for the split in the German working class rests with the leadership of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) at that time. It took a wait-and-see attitude towards fascism and stirred up hatred against the Soviet Union and the KPD.

But mistakes of great import also were initiated by the Communist International with the social-fascism theory. Willi Dickhut, pioneering thinker and cofounder of the MLPD, who himself was a prisoner at the Börgermoor concentration camp and was subjected to severe torture, commented on this:

”Defaming all social-democrats as social-fascists destroyed existing contacts between communists and social-democrats and prevented the creation of a proletarian united front which, as a strong backbone of a broad antifascist unity, could have prevented Hitler from seizing power.”

Many communist and social-democratic workers first became painfully aware of these mistakes when they ended up together in a concentration camp. Today neofascists again seek to spread their demagogic propaganda and gain influence.

The rulers give them leeway to build up their shock troops against the revolutionary working-class movement and its party. But today, when five fascists show themselves in public, they find themselves confronted by at least 500 antifascist demonstrators.

Since its founding the MLPD calls for the banning of all fascist organizations.

The German Association of Persons Persecuted by the Nazi Regime - Antifascist League has taken up the growing response to this demand, collecting 100,000 signatures in Germany within a few months for a ban on the fascist NPD. This is an indication of the deep antifascist consciousness of the workers and broad masses in Germany.

The principal weakness of bourgeois antifascism is its basic anticommunist attitude. It goes even so far as to equate socialism with fascism. Remember, it was the Soviet people under Stalin’s leadership that broke Hitler’s neck, as Ernst Thälmann predicted it would.

Anticommunism is divisive and harmful to the common antifascist struggle. For example, the Thuringian state law for the Buchenwald foundation explicitly calls for including the ”history of the Soviet detention camp” in the memorial.

After the war, the anti-Hitler coalition interned fascist war criminals and functionaries in this camp. The historic facts are being falsified here: the culprits are transformed into victims – a slap in the face for all victims of fascism and the antifascist struggle!

The antifascism of bourgeois circles always was effective when closely connected with the communist resistance against the Hitlerite fascists.

When we commemorate the antifascist resistance in Buchenwald today, then we are clearly aware that in German imperialism we face the same enemy today as back then. It is the same monopolies that seized economic and political power again following the Second World War.

Even if they attempt for a time to cover up their essence with bourgeois democracy, they have lost none of their aggressiveness, their hostility to the working-class movement and to the struggle for a socialist future. When we draw the lessons from Buchenwald, we know exactly what kind of people these are.

The MLPD feels bound by duty to destroy fascism and all its roots. For us this means not only resolute antifascist struggle, but the struggle for a future which will fight to achieve this new world of peace and freedom in socialism and communism.


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