To some extent, orthodox Marxist theory was confounded by the growth of the Nazi movement. Orthodox Marxists believed that the only truly revolutionary class was the working class, and as economic conditions deteriorated, this class would draw the disaffected and dispossessed elements of the lower middle class to itself and eventually bring about a workers’ revolution.
In fact, something very different happened in Germany. The workers were far from revolutionary when the crisis arrived, and a new revolutionary class was formed mainly from the dispossessed lower middle classes and other disaffected elements. This does not fit with orthodox Marxism.
But, say other Marxists, Marxism should not be seen as a dogma, religion, or creed that authoritatively states final truth, as religions do. It is a philosophy of history, a way of looking at history which explains much and holds it together, and a method of action to achieve socialism. Its fundamental principles must be applied in various ways to meet the changing conditions of different times and different countries.
Note (November 1938): Since the above letter was written, five and a quarter years ago, there has been nothing more remarkable in world politics than the growth of Nazi Germany’s power and prestige under Hitler. Hitler dominates Europe today, and the great powers, or those that were great, bow down to him and tremble before his threats. Twenty years ago, Germany was defeated, humiliated, crushed. And now, with no military victory or war, Hitler has made her the victorious nation, and the Treaty of Versailles is dead and buried.
Hitler’s primary concern after coming to power was to crush opponents in Germany and consolidate the Nazi Party. After “Nazifying” Germany, he decided to put an end to leftist tendencies in the Nazi ranks, which were looking forward to a second anti-capitalist revolution. The Brownshirts were disbanded and their leaders killed on June 30, 1934.
Many others were also killed, including General von Schleicher, who had once served as chancellor. In August 1934, President von Hindenburg died and Hitler took his place, becoming chancellor-president. He was then all-powerful in Germany, the Führer or Leader of the German people.
There was great distress among the people, and private charity was organized, almost compulsorily, on a large scale to relieve the distress. Compulsory labor camps were also started where the unemployed were sent to work. A large number of Jews, who had been forcibly expelled, gave way to the Germans. The economic situation in Germany has not improved, it has even worsened, but unemployment, as such, has disappeared. Meanwhile, secret rearmament continued and fear of Germany grew.
At the beginning of 1935, the plebiscite of the Saar Basin came out overwhelmingly in favor of union with Germany, and this region was attached to Germany. In May of that year, Hitler publicly repudiated the disarmament clauses of the Treaty of Versailles and decreed compulsory military service. A vast rearmament program is launched. None of the League Powers did anything; fear seized them, especially France. France negotiated an alliance with Soviet Russia. The British government preferred to align itself with Nazi Germany and signed a naval pact with it in June 1935.