Anti Nazi Germans
Enemies of the Nazi State within the Working Class, Merilyn Moos
German Volunteers in the French Resistance, Steve Cushion
This newly published book may come as a surprise to many readers. We are brought up to believe that the Nazis came to power in Germany with the overwhelming support of the people and that the French Resistance was like an overlong episode of “Hello Hello”.
As Merilyn Moos argues, “It is a commonly held myth ... that there was little resistance in Germany to the Nazis. In fact, there was a wide diversity of opposition to the Nazi state: initially from within the working class movement and, later, from different sections of the State, judiciary and also the army.”
Close to one million Leftists were imprisoned in Germany between 1933 and 1945, of whom 200,000 were killed.
Of those who escaped this fate, around 5,000 German and Austrian exiles fought against Franco’s fascism in the Spanish Civil War as members of the Ernst Thälmann and Edgar André Brigades. Many of them were Jews.
After escaping from Germany with their lives many were not so lucky and died at the hands of Francos forces. Those who survived fled north into France and continued their anti-fascist struggle as part of the French Resistance.
This book is a harrowing account of what it meant to be a German anti-fascist. In Germany imprisonment, torture and death were the expected fate of resistors, but even so as late as 1943 strikes took place in the Ruhr mines and sabotage was reported inside armaments factories.
There was even an alternative to the Hitler Youth , the Edelweiss Pirates. Girls and boys managed to hold together as an anti-Nazi force at a time when resistance had become close to impossible. “They wore unconventional clothes, sang anti-militaristic songs, assaulted Hitler Youth patrols, insulted uniformed officers and party functionaries and even purchased illicit firearms"… Some of them carried out sabotage, derailed ammunition trains, distributed anti-Nazi leaflets and hid Jews.
A 1943 Nazi report from Düsseldorf admitted the appearance of "Down with Hitler’ graffiti and that however often it was removed, it would quickly reappear, especially during air-raids. The report goes on to admit these actions negatively affected the morale of some soldiers, who were even beginning to congregate among the Pirates.
The book gives detailed accounts of these anti-Nazis and is a powerful acknowledgement of a tradition of German anti-fascism that goes back to Rosa Luxemburg, the Spartacists and the Bavarian Revolution.
In post-war Germany anti-Nazis remained criminalised. As one working class resistor, Gertrud Koch, said "After the war there were no judges in Germany so the old Nazi judges were used and they upheld the criminalisation of what we did and who we were".
In post-war France, Steve Cushion explains, “Charles de Gaulle was committed to reconstructing French imperialism and wanted to stress the part that the French had played in liberating themselves from German occupation. The presence of German anti-fascists contradicted this account and they were ignored.’
Hidden too long from history this book is a valuable homage to anti-Nazi Germans and recognition that Trotsky was right when he said that ‘fascism is capitalism going to the dentist’. But, as with all dental visits, many refuse to open their mouths.
To purchase the book contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Price: £10 + £1.50 p&p (£5 overseas)
book launch - 26th March 2020 at 5.30 pm
UCU, Carlow Street, London NW1 7LH