Workers Vanguard No. 884

19 January 2007


Trotskyist Speech at 1990 Treptow Protest

"Workers and Soldiers Soviets to Power!"

The following is a translation of a speech by Renate Dahlhaus, spokesman of the Trotzkistische Liga Deutschlands, to the mass anti-fascist rally in East Berlin’s Treptow Park on 3 January 1990. Initiated by the TLD and the Spartakist Groups, the united-front rally protesting the desecration of a Soviet war memorial was taken up by the ruling Stalinist party, the SED, and drew 250,000 people. The speech was printed in the next day’s issue of Arprekorr (Workers Press Correspondence), a near-daily newspaper launched by the TLD the previous month. This translation first appeared in a supplement printed in WV No. 493 (12 January 1990). In late January 1990, the TLD fused with the Spartakist Groups to form the Spartakist-Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands.

Comrades, Anti-fascists:

We will never forget that 20 million Soviet citizens gave their lives to smash Hitler’s fascism. They must not have died in vain.

When the fascists committed their outrage here, the Trotskyist League and Spartakist Gruppen immediately took the initiative for today’s demonstration. The fascists are raising their heads here in the DDR, in Erfurt, Dresden, Görlitz, Halle. What is urgently needed is the militant mobilization of the working people, including immigrant workers, comrades from Vietnam, Poland and Mozambique, to stop and to crush the fascist beast while it is still small.

The Leninist united front, the workers united front that Trotsky fought for in the early ’30s, was needed then and is needed today to stop the Nazis.

If the fascists are smashed they cannot make a bid for power. But that means that the working class must be organized and strong and a contender for power. The highest form of the united front in a revolutionary situation like we are going through today is the workers and soldiers soviet.

As long as capitalism exists there is a cycle of struggles which keep recurring. There is less of a material basis for fascists in the DDR because the natural base of fascism, capitalism, does not exist here today. A political revolution has broken out and is growing in our midst, and we must defend it.

Economic absorption and political incorporation by stages—which West German imperialism, aided by the SPD, seeks
—can turn this political revolution into a social counterrevolution. This must not happen! It is necessary to fight against it!

That’s right, stop the Nazis through a workers united front! We have to think further. Our economy is suffering from waste and obsolescence. The SED party dictatorship has shown that it is incompetent to fight this. East Germany urgently needs selective.... [Interjections] Comrades, learn to listen, learn what a united front means.

What is urgently needed is a selective modernization of existing industry. With us in the DDR things are very different than in those countries, the other “socialist” countries which adhere to Stalin’s concept of building “socialism in one country,” and demonstrate that it is a transparent stupidity. We have hard choices—we must understand the danger of being at the mercy of the world market.

Comrades, fighting against the sellout of the DDR means getting clear in our minds that we are not going to wind up at the mercy of the world market controlled by the imperialists and the Deutsche Bank. The means for selling out the DDR is the Social Democracy—that had better be known to us all.

Do not be deceived: the military threat of imperialism, which continues to be organized above all by the American ruling class, still persists. Yesterday, today and tomorrow they use direct and indirect military violence to achieve their aim.

This is directed centrally against the Soviet Union and everywhere that the capitalists have been eliminated as a class, or where imperialism hopes that it has an opportunity. The Soviet Union practices its own economic autarky which is not particularly beneficial to us and has led the Soviet Union into grave economic difficulties.

Lenin said, “Politics is concentrated economics.” The fight for the power to make these decisions and to run this country must lie in the hands of workers councils so that rational decisions satisfactory to the majority can be arrived at. This can only be done through open and sometimes painful debates before the whole people. Perhaps our example will encourage the Soviet Union to take the same road. [Interjections]

Comrades, listen and learn that only through painful and open debates can the road to socialism be opened.

The Soviet Union will certainly take the same road, and that would also assist us in jointly solving economic and political problems and in the defense of our states, our workers states, which are presently transitional, broken from capitalism but certainly not yet socialist.

Comrades, as everybody knows, the power.... [Interjections] Comrades, as you know, the SED’s monopoly of power has been broken. The masses are free to speak their minds. Learn to listen to them. It is only through the benevolent pressure of the Soviet Army that this has been made possible. What is lacking here is real organized conflicting political parties in struggle, a precondition for real workers democracy.

These are some of the concerns and some of the aims we seek to address as we fight to forge a new workers party—of equal rights, equal duties—in the spirit of Lenin, Liebknecht and Luxemburg. Stop the Nazis through united-front action! Workers and soldiers soviets to power! Workers of the world unite!