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THE INDEPENDENT SOCIALISTS

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results of the Pan-German policy, though he disclaimed a desire to threaten them. Of the Centre Party Trimborn supported Kühlmann and found the demands of the Entente regarding Alsace-Lorraine unacceptable, while his colleague Erzberger warned the Government that the Catholic Trade Unions would not tolerate Pan-German war-aims. Fischbeck (Progressive) defended Kühlmann and thought that Wilson's message was seriously intended, and Naumann (Progressive), after agreeing with him, stated that the growth of revolutionary feeling was a reaction against the activities of Tirpitz and the Vaterlandspartei.1 Stresemann, for the National Liberals, managed to agree with the Chancellor by interpreting him in the most Jingo sense. Westarp (Conserv.) and Wallraf (Minister of the Interior) were uncompromising. The only speaker who came near enough to Entente demands to involve a definite breach with the Government was the Independent Socialist Haase, who declared that if the war could be ended by conceding a referendum to the Reichsland, the concession should be made.

13. The Independent Socialists. Before proceeding to deal with the strikes which broke out in Berlin on the 28th January, in some other towns a day or two earlier, it will be useful to say something about the position of the Independent Socialists. The members of this party were not necessarily more radical and extreme than their colleagues of the Majority. They were simply more radically and extremely opposed to the war; it was that fact which caused their secession, and which prevented reunion. In most parts of the country they had not succeeded in capturing the party organizations or the party press; in very few cases had they captured trade unions. They were thus in a position of irresponsibility and almost of impotence, with the natural result that many of them tended farther towards violence and revolution, never so far, however, as the Spartacists and the Bremen Internationalists, led by Liebknecht, Franz Mehring, Otto Ruehle, Rosa Luxemburg, and Klara Zetkin, who approximated very closely to the Russian Bolshevists. Many of the Independent Socialists, and those the best (e. g. Kautsky, Bernstein, Haase), were convinced revisionists, and fundamentally more antagonistic to the Spartacists than to any of the Majority parties. They were,

1 He read out from a handbill calling for a general strike.

2

'Revisionism' meant the adoption of progressive and pacific, as opposed to revolutionary, measures.

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moreover, most of them, old rather than young, intellectuals rather than labourers, literary men rather than political tacticians.

14. The January Strikes. As has already been stated, the Government's alarm over the Austrian strikes led it to suppress Vorwärts, and also the Liberal Berliner Tageblatt. This action led to protests in the Main Committee not only from Ebert (Maj. Soc.) but also from Stresemann and Trimborn (Centre). The Government's alarm may also be judged by the fact that it sent 4,500 tons of flour to Austria, though this action tends to show that it had sufficient stocks to quiet any insistent clamour at home. Towards the end of January Ellenbogen, a Viennese Socialist, and some delegates from Leipzig arrived in Berlin. During the last six months there had been food demonstrations, mainly composed of women, and there had been isolated strikes; but the trade unions, while they had been active enough in the industrial sphere, had discouraged political agitation, and there had been no reason to fear a general or political strike. The violence of the Vaterlandspartei had led, however, to counter-demonstrations and occasional riots. Recent discussions in the Main Committee had shown that though the two sections of the Socialists were more or less at one at least in holding by no annexations' as an anti-governmental platform, and that though the Progressives were still, even more doubtfully, on the same side, yet the solid body of anti-annexationist opinion was far from being properly represented in the Reichstag. The soothing effect of Kühlmann's speeches on the 25th and 26th was neutralized by those of Hertling. The position was one of great tension and anxiety, the chief factors in which were popular doubts as to the questions whether the war was being unnecessarily prolonged and whether the Brest-Litovsk negotiations were being conducted so as to ensure the speediest possible conclusion of peace.

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On the 28th January a partial strike began in Berlin. Though the chief trade union leaders-Legien, Bauer, and Korsten-were against it, the Central Committee of Trade Unions declared its neutrality. The demands made were :

(1) Peace without annexation or indemnities on the basis of self-determination.

(2) Participation of workers of all nations in peace negotiations.

THE JANUARY STRIKES

(3) Requisition and proper distribution of food.

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(4) Abolition of the state of siege and demilitarization of industry.

(5) Liberation of political prisoners.

(6) Universal, secret, and equal franchise for the Prussian Diet.

It is difficult to see why the strikes should have begun just when they did; there had been no recent political event likely to cause such an outbreak; it has been suggested that plans had been laid for a general strike and then dropped, and that the strike later began spontaneously; this explanation is supported by the recent Main Committee discussions of the possibility of a strike and the reading of leaflets agitating for such action, and also by the fact that it was the more highly skilled workmen who struck first.

On the 28th January the official organ of the Gewerkschaften,1 which had hitherto been the chief force in preventing the Socialist majority from going into opposition, demanded a formulation of German war-aims in the West, as an answer to Lloyd George's speech of 15th January. It demanded also the representation of labour interests in peace negotiations, and the expediting of Prussian Franchise Reform. The raising of such demands at such a moment sufficiently characterized the neutrality of the Gewerkschaften and contrasted with the attitude of the Hirsch-Duncker and Catholic Unions, which supported the Government.

The leaders of the Independent Socialists joined the strike committee doubtless because they sympathized with the movement, the Majority Socialists, as the Frankfurter Zeitung put it, 'not to promote the strike but to exert a conciliatory influence and to prevent harm'.

On the 29th January Vorwärts was suppressed for publishing too high an estimate of the number of strikers in Berlin, and an official estimate of 125,000 was made: the next day the Trade Unions put the figure at about 350,000, but the official estimate never exceeded 180,000, the declared figure on the 31st January. On this day an intensified state of siege was declared, riots took place with some bloodshed, and Dittmann (Ind. Soc.) was arrested. Outside Berlin the most serious strikes seem to have been at Hamburg, Kiel, Danzig, Nurem

1 Trade Unions.

berg, Bochum, Dortmund, Mannheim, and Munich: rather oddly, the quietest part of the country was Saxony, the stronghold of the Independent Socialists.

The Government from the beginning refused to negotiate with the strikers themselves, but offered to receive their Reichstag deputies of this offer at first they declined to avail themselves, but on the 1st February, Scheidemann, Ebert, Haase, and Ledebour were received by the Chancellor in the presence of Payer: they obtained no concession, not even permission for meetings of the strike leaders. On the same day the Commander of the Mark decreed the militarization of certain armament factories, and ordered the men to return to work at latest on the 4th. The President of the Reichstag refused the Socialist Party Directorate's request for the calling of that body, on the ground that all the bourgeois parties were opposed to it.

In spite, or because, of these defeats the Majority Socialists, after the meeting of 1st February, used their influence to bring the strikes to an end, which they succeeded in doing in the course of the next week; and on the 10th February the Military Authorities withdrew their prohibition of meetings and discussions. It is possible that the deputies, though they had obtained no public concessions, had received private assurances, particularly on the question of the Prussian franchise. This view is supported by Vice-President 1 Friedberg's action in the Landtag on the 11th February when he 'urgently recommended' that the consideration of the Franchise Bill be proceeded with, and by Hertling's declaration on the next day that he desired no doubt to arise concerning his unaltered determination to bring about the reform by all the means at his disposal '. If some such private assurances had been given, the Majority Socialists must soon have perceived their value, for on the 5th February the National Liberals absented themselves from the meeting of the Reichstag Majority leaders, and on the 20th four out of seven of the National Liberals in the franchise committee of the Prussian Lower House voted against the Government's proposal of equal franchise.

15. Lessons of the Strike. There can be no doubt that the main lesson of the strikes was that the Government was still able to suppress any such manifestations. In this connexion it is 1 i.e. Vice-President of the Prussian Ministry.

LESSONS OF THE STRIKE

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significant that the militaristic methods used in Prussia were not employed in the other states. The Bavarian Government, for instance, ostentatiously avoided the declaration of a state of siege, or the militarization of industries, or the punishment of strikers by sending them to the army.

The chief reasons for the failure of the agitation were well set out by Jacob Bengler in the Freie Zeitung, an 'advanced' paper published in Switzerland. He considered that they were:

(1) the lowness of Trade Union funds, owing to the absence of many members, and the highness of wages;

(2) the locking up by employers of a large part of these wages in war loan;

(3) the dissensions among the Socialists, and the hesitating and half-hearted alliance of the Majority Socialists with the Government;

(4) the natural pusillanimity of the German Socialist, accentuated by the continued strain of under-nourishment.

The fact, however, that such serious strikes should have been declared on a mainly political platform and even the very success of the Government were ominous for the future. That success, at least in Prussia, had been obtained by the use of military methods, and depended for the possibility of repetition on the continuance of military strength. The calling up of munition workers and of soldiers on leave diminished the available amount of skilled labour and strengthened the untrustworthy elements in the Army. Another result of the suppression of Socialist manifestations was to encourage the activities of the Vaterlandspartei', which had already done harm and now supplied more and more material for Socialist propaganda. The Government, in fact, was engaged in a hopeless attempt to make use of both the Right and the Left, and was bound in the end to fight one or the other. Meanwhile the Conservatives were disappointed in their hope that the strike episode would break up the coalition of the Left, the Progressives particularly being very careful to renew their pledges of co-operation with the Socialists.

16. The Brest-Litovsk Negotiations. On 20th February the Ukraine Treaty was approved by all parties in the Reichstag except the Independent Socialists and the Poles. Vorwärts indeed declared that the treaty was nothing but a scrap of paper, which has yet to be written over by German blood'.

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