The Anti-Fascist Wunsiedel Campaign
The following is an edited translation of an article which appeared in Bolschewik No. 2.
The annual national fascist mobilization at Wunsiedel to honor Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy, is an important event for German fascists, as they attempt to coordinate their forces and organize a unified national party. This year  their plans were more ambitious than usual, and the aim was to extend fascist influence as widely as possible into the broader German nationalist milieu. A determined anti–fascist mobilization, particularly supported by trade–union members, could have spiked this Nazi show of strength in the Bavarian village where Hess is buried. Unfortunately the opportunity was thrown away.
The anarchoid Autonomen, unlike all the major anti–fascist organizations, understood the importance of a national counteroffensive, while, as usual, the SPD, DGB and PDS [Social Democrats, trade–union federation and successor to the former East German Stalinist party, respectively] looked the other way. The Autonomen’s rejection of a working–class orientation restricted the possibilities of an effective struggle—with the result that nowhere in Germany were the anti–fascists successful in breaking out of their relative political isolation.
In Berlin the Gruppe Spartakus played a major role in initiating a united–front committee (the Berlin Alliance Against the Rudolf Hess Memorial) and managed to get “Prevent the Nazi March” adopted as its central slogan. The main political initiatives for the Alliance came from the Independent Anti–fascists Berlin (UA), the Socialist Workers Group (SAG) and Gruppe Spartakus. The Alliance was unable to broaden the number of groups participating, and did not extend outside of Berlin. Most of the leftist organizations in Berlin took a dive; the Critical Trade Unionists remained deliberately aloof, while only a few individual members of the PDS participated.
The united front’s ability to mobilize was undercut by the UA’s attempt to take over. A united front is supposed to bring together the largest possible number of groups for common action. To do so, each of the participants must be assured that they are not required to endorse or support the politics of any of the other organizations. The UA rejected this approach, and attempted instead to impose their own conception of anti–fascist work on the bloc by bureaucratic means. Two weeks before the projected demonstration in Wunsiedel, the UA split the Alliance after failing to get the other participants to accept their diktat.
The SAG’s Anti–Fascism
The SAG [German adherents of Tony Cliff’s state capitalist tendency], acted in a consistently opportunistic fashion in the Alliance. At the beginning, they did not like the orientation of “Prevent the Nazi March” as the main slogan of the united front. The SAG representatives were worried that this was too “militant” and “frightening” to attract participation from the social–democratic spectrum. Of course, we Trotskyists also seek united–front actions with social–democratic forces, but not at any price, and absolutely not by endangering the political basis for effective united action. We wanted to mobilize the widest possible forces for an action to abort this Nazi mobilization. But the SAG seemed more interested in trying to find reformist bloc partners to snuggle up to than building a militant anti–fascist alliance. It took two weeks for the SAG to agree to the Alliance call for action….
This opportunist behavior is not unusual. The SAG is known to many militant anti–fascists as a political “weathervane,” which tends to capitulate to the SPD milieu. Arguing that they wanted to build the “greatest possible unity,” they have proved ready to bloc with bourgeois liberals against those who are serious about confronting the Nazis militantly. At the core of this opportunism is the SAG’s conception of a classless, leftish “anti–fascist mass movement.” The SAG does not have a perspective of building a mass anti–fascist workers’ movement based on the unions. Such a movement can only be built through struggling against the influence of the petty–bourgeois liberal anti–fascism of the SPD, the PDS and the Green Party. By making the political “breadth” of anti–fascist activity their main criterion, SAG militants are likely to end up in a very different movement from what they intend: instead of breaking the masses from their bourgeois illusions, the SAG is likely to end up as a left cover for the social democrats.
Anti–Fascists Demonstrate in Hof—As Fascists Parade in Rudolstadt
The demonstration that took place in the city of Hof, Bavaria, on 15 August 1992 failed to prevent the Nazis paying homage to Rudolf Hess. The logistics of the Autonomen proved insufficient for the task of keeping track of the whereabouts of the Nazis, who simply moved the site of their demonstration. The Autonomen’s organizational breakdown was compounded by their total political disorientation. The Nazis though could claim a victory, having defied both the leftist demonstrators and a police ban, to rally 1500 thugs in Rudolstadt (near Hof). This demonstration sparked the most recent wave of fascist terror in Rostock, Quedlinburg, Berlin, Mölln and many other places throughout Germany.
So far there has yet to be a major test of strength between the left and the workers’ movement, on the one hand, and the brown plague, on the other. There is no reason to be complacent; the current situation is unstable. Those who think that the 29 August anti–fascist demonstration in Rostock was a “victory” (as its organizers claimed and the SAG agreed) fail to understand the seriousness of the Nazi threat. The fascists deliberately avoided a confrontation with the demonstrators, and instead used the occasion to launch a series of attacks on undefended immigrant living quarters. The current passivity toward Nazi attacks by many who oppose fascism must be politically overcome—toothless protests won’t work, candlelight vigils will get increasingly dangerous. At the same time, militant actions by small groupings of Autonomen become more and more dangerous as the fascists grow in size. Neither pacifism nor adventurism, but militant mass working–class mobilizations to smash the Nazi vermin!