Fritz Keller

Trotskyism in Austria

Our second example of resistance to Stalinism was written specially for this magazine by our Corresponding Continental Editor, Fritz Keller, to whom we owe our thanks. Since he has already contributed several pieces to our magazine (Volumes 7, no 1, 1998, pp175-7, and 7, no 2, 1999, pp49-52, 198-202), readers already have a list of his previous works.

Other material on the history of Trotskyism in Austria includes Raimund Loew, ‘On the History of Austrian Trotskyism’, InterContinental Press, Volume 11, no 8, 5 March 1973, pp252-5 (cf Quatrième Internationale, new series, no 13, January/March 1974, pp21-4); Winfried Wagner, Trotzkismus in Österreich: politische Theorie und Geschichte der trotzkistischen Bewegung in Österreich, a dissertation offered to the University of Salzburg in 1976, and Ulrich Angerer, ‘Trotzkismus in Österreich von den Jahren bis heute’, Volume 1, Analyse, in Marxismus, no 9 (September 1996). The second part of this study (Marxismus, no 10, December 1996) includes interviews with several of the participants, and the third (Marxismus, no 12, December 1997) an overall assessment of the various tendencies involved. Issue no 5 of the Cahiers Léon Trotsky (January/March 1980) has an entire section (pp69-133) devoted to the history of Austrian Trotskyism, including Hans Schafranek’s essay on Kurt Landau and Fritz Keller’s ‘Le trotskysme en Autriche de 1934 à 1945’, Trotsky’s letters to Berthold Grad, and 24 short vignettes of the movement’s activists. F Lerse (Franz Modlik), Skizze der Geschichte des Trotzkismus in Österreich (Vienna, 1974) deals with the involvement of the International Communists with the shoemakers’ strike. The period of the 1960s, which is of much less interest to us, is dealt with in ‘Die trotzkistische Bewegung in Österreich’ (NJ Ryschkowsky [ed], Links: Studien zur Zeitfragen, no 5, Frankfort, March 1971) and Alfred Mansfeld, Die Zeitschrift ‘Revolte’, 1967-1971, Arbeitsgemeinschaft ‘1968’ (Institute for Contemporary History, Vienna University, 1992-93). Finally, there are the chapter on Austrian Trotskyism in Robert J Alexander’s International Trotskyism, 1929-1985: A Documented Analysis of the Movement, Durham, 1991, pp80-90, and the short account of the position of the Austrian groups in the early 1930s by Damien Durand, (‘Opposants á Staline’, part 2), in the Cahiers Léon Trotsky, no 33, March 1988, pp173-5. Rosmer’s report to Trotsky on the state of the Austrian Opposition at that time has appeared in Revolutionary History, Volume 7, no 4, 2000, pp119-22.

The experiences of several of the militants of the Austrian movement have been individually recorded. Ernst Federn’s autobiography, Witnessing Psychoanalysis: From Vienna Back to Vienna via Buchenwald and the USA has appeared in English (London, 1990), and some of his experiences in the concentration camp had been published previously in ‘The Terror as System: The Concentration Camp’ (Psychiatric Quarterly, Supplement no 22, 1948) and ‘That German Who “Should Have Been Dead”’ (Harpers Magazine, New York, August 1948). An extract from Federn’s original German manuscript, which is not identical with the English version, dealing with the death of Werner Scholem, was published over the initials ‘TN’ in Die Internationale (no 16, Frankfort, June 1981). For Joseph Frey, cf his obituary, ‘Joseph Frey (1882-1957)’, Quatrième Internationale, Volume 15, nos 4-6, June/July 1957, p12; for Georg Scheuer, Revolutionary History, Volume 7, no 1, 1998, pp175-7, and 7, no 2, 1999, p299; for Bob Wilsker, Revolutionary History, Volume 7, no 2, 1999, pp223-7; for Kurt Landau, Hans Schafranek’s biography in Revolutionary History, Volume 4, nos 1-2, Winter 1991-92, pp54-72 is followed by Landau’s article comparing the German and Spanish revolutions (pp73-99; his wife’s account of Stalinism in Spain was printed in Revolutionary History, Volume 1, no 2, Summer 1988, pp40-55). Schafranek’s full account of Landau is to be found in Das kurze Leben des Kurt Landau (Vienna, 1988), and a short chapter in Gerhard Botz, Hans Hautmann, Hans Konrad and Josef Weidenholzer (eds), Bewegung und Klasse (Vienna, Munich and Zurich, 1978, pp193ff). For Karl Fischer, we have Fritz Keller’s In den Gulag von Ost und West: Karl Fischer, Arbeiter und Revolutionär (Frankfort, 1980). The chapter on his imprisonment in Buchenwald is reprinted in Memorial (ed), Österreichische Stalinopfer (Vienna, 1990, pp97ff), and Georg Scheuer’s testimony about his imprisonment by the Stalinists in Memorial — Österreich (no 1, 1992). A documentary about him was broadcast on Austrian Television on 26 March 1992. Ernest Rogers reviews Max Adler’s biography, A Socialist Remembers (London, 1988) in Revolutionary History, Volume 2, no 3, Autumn 1989, pp43-4.

Apart from the Grad letters above referred to (Cahiers Léon Trotsky, no 5, January/March 1980, pp97-102), Trotsky’s writings on Austria, either dealing with the particular politics of the oppositional groups or with wider events, include two others that have not yet been translated into English (‘Pour une collaboration principielle’, 10-11 April, and ‘Informations et projects’, 25 May 1929, in the French Oeuvres, second series, Volume 3, February/May 1929, Paris, 1989, pp134-5 and 245-7), along with the following that do appear in the Pathfinder editions of his works:

  • ‘The Austrian Crisis and Communism’, 13 November 1929 (Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1929, New York, 1975, pp383-96).
  • ‘To Patiently Explain’, 10 January 1930 (Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1930, New York, 1975, pp71-4).
  • ‘Answer to Graef on Collectivisation’, May 1930 (op cit, pp216-7).
  • ‘Remarks on Frank’s Work on Collectivisation’, 9 December 1930 (Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1930-31, New York, 1973, pp82-6).
  • ‘”Blocs” and Absurdities’, 6 May 1932 (Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1932, New York, 1973, pp92-3).
  • ‘How Otto Bauer Poses the Question’, 19 March 1933 (Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1932-33, New York, 1972, pp146-7).
  • ‘Austria’s Turn Next’, 23 March 1933 (op cit, pp148-56).
  • ‘What Must the Austrian Social Democratic Opposition Do?’, 3 May 1933 (op cit, pp226-8).
  • ‘Lessons of May Day in Austria’, 7 May 1933 (op cit, pp230-1).
  • ‘On the Difficulties of Our Work’, 17 June 1933 (op cit, pp282-3).
  • ‘How the Workers in Austria Should Fight Hitler’, July 1936 (Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1935-36, New York, 1977, pp345-50).

Trotsky also referred to the crisis of 1934 in ‘After the Austrian Defeat’, 13 March 1934 (Writings of Leon Trotsky, Supplement, 1934-40, New York, 1979, pp459-61), and ‘Austria, Belgium and the Turn’, 1 November 1934 (Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1934-35, New York, 1971, pp101-2).

Nor should the wider context of the Austrian movement be neglected. An abridgement of Otto Bauer’s Die Österreichische Revolution appeared in English long ago (The Austrian Revolution, London, 1925), and the first chapter of his March to Socialism dealing with ‘Political Revolution and Social Revolution’ has been recently reprinted in the Cahiers du Mouvement Ouvrier (no 12, December 2000-January 2001, pp43-48). Julius Braunthal’s The Tragedy of Austria (London, 1948) can still be read with profit. The most valuable account of the Austrian movement is Joseph Buttinger’s In the Twilight of Socialism: A History of the Revolutionary Socialists of Austria (New York, 1953). Raimund Loew discusses ‘The Politics of Austro-Marxism’ in New Left Review, no 118, November-December 1979, pp15-51. An entire symposium on the same subject was printed in International Socialist Review (Volume 30, no 3, May/June 1969, pp36-48), including Pierre Frank, ‘Otto Bauer: A Representative Theoretician of Austro-Marxism’, Gerry Foley, ‘Some Affinities Between Social Democracy and Stalinism’, and ‘Ernst Fischer Solicits Otto Bauer for the Popular Front, 1936’. Trotsky’s pen portraits of Victor and Fritz Adler can be found in LD Trotsky, Political Profiles, London, 1972, pp11-20, 43-46 and 57-62. Bob Wilsker’s description of Dollfuss’ coup (‘P Berger’, ‘Lessons of the 1934 Revolt in Austria’, Fourth International, Volume 5, no 7, July 1944, pp211-2) should be laid alongside the more recent account of Steve Morgan and Robert Schiffle, ‘The Fascist Counter-Revolution, Austria 1934’, Militant International Review, no 30, Autumn 1985, pp36-40.

Preliminary Remarks

F

ROM the very beginning, the domain of the Babenberg dynasty in the south-east of Bavaria, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, like Prussia, took the form of a coloniser-state of German-speaking and Christianised people, directed against the Italians, Magyars, Mongolians, Slavs and Turks. After a relatively rapid rise, the expansion of the Habsburgs’ power and influence reached its zenith under Karl V (1500-1558). He inherited not only the Austrian lands including Bohemia and Hungary, but also Burgundy, the vast Spanish Empire, the Netherlands, Sardinia, Sicily and Naples. One can say that the ‘Casa d’Austria’ reigned over an empire ‘on which the sun never set’.

After reaching this zenith, the empire entered into a long and gradual decline. Confronted with a definite setback for Austrian aspirations to the hegemony of Europe, the devout Catholic Habsburg dynasty formed a strong alliance with all the forces of counter-reformation in the Holy Roman Empire. This meant not only war against external religious enemies, but also a retreat from the immense strides that the Protestants were making within Austria, especially among the aristocracy. As a consequence, the Monarchy became an economically underdeveloped state, ruled through the triple agency of the church, the civil service and the army. These united bureaucracies threw together the art and culture of the Roman south, the Slav east and the Germanic north. Out of this melting-pot grew a baroque lifestyle, based on compromise and an appeal to the senses.

In Austria, enlightenment was therefore not a question of a fundamental social movement, but the business of the state, governed by reason, administered by enlightened bureaucrats, and headed by an enlightened despot — Joseph II (1780-1790). As a result of the backwardness of the country, he antagonised practically every section of the community with his administrative reforms — the abolition of serfdom and torture, religious toleration and so forth — and in many cases his efforts merely encouraged reaction.

When Austria’s fortunes in the ensuing wars against Napoleon were at their lowest ebb, an exponent of these reactionary forces gifted with a brilliant personality and a cool head, Klemens Lothar Metternich, was appointed Imperial Chancellor. Within 10 years he made Vienna the political capital of the ‘Holy Alliance’ in Europe, and in this way stemmed Austria’s long decline for a period of 30 years. But after having put the clock back, Metternich tried to stop it altogether with the support of Russia, the mighty prop of conservatism and reaction. Even the slightest sign of social change was to be instantly nipped in the bud. Above all, for fear of contagion, nationalism had to be rigorously suppressed by censorship and the secret police. But the liberal movement of intellectuals and students, however, proved impossible to suppress…

During the revolution of 1848, the Austrian German-speaking bourgeoisie, being economically weak from the outset, wanted to kill two birds with one stone. On the one hand, Austria’s privileged position should be unchanged; on the other, the rigid, unyielding autocratic system of Metternich should be dismantled. Events quickly demonstrated that these two goals were incompatible. And for the overwhelming majority of the Austrian bourgeoisie, the consequence of this experience was quite clear. In order to maintain their profits, it was necessary to prevent any future attempts at a thoroughgoing recasting of the society of the Habsburg Monarchy.

Thus after Prince Albert Windischgrätz had restored order in Vienna through bombarding the city, in which even parts of the Emperor’s ‘Hofburg’ were set on fire, the Austrian bourgeoisie came to an arrangement with the House of Habsburg. The new coexistence rested upon a common recognition that social changes could only stir up nationalism among the Czechs and Croats, and provoke the explosive patriotism of the Hungarians and Italians.

This new Austro-quietism, the firm and inward conviction that the best solution for all burning problems was to do nothing, was praised as an ultima ratio by Franz Grillparzer in his tragedy Ein Bruderzwist im Hause Habsburg (Fratricidal Quarrel in the House of Habsburg), finished in 1848 — just in the nick of time. In the Emperor Rudolf II (1564-1576), a brooding, introspective character who withdrew from all public life and shut himself in the citadel in Prague, devoting himself to his superb collection of paintings and manuscripts, the national poet picked not only an ideal historical personality for his purposes, but demonstrated simultaneously that Austro-quietism was deeply rooted in the whole reactionary tradition of the country.

In the years after the lost war of 1859 against Italy, when Franz Joseph I (1830-1916), by the grace of God Emperor of Austria, was forced through the financial disaster of the Monarchy to allow a gradually increasing number of his subjects to vote for a powerless parliament, Austro-quietism gave birth to a specific political coffee-house culture in this ‘Reichsrat’. Josef Strasser (1870-1935) has given a vivid description of this phenomena:

In old Austria all parties liked compromises, even if they acted intransigently and sometimes attacked each other. That phenomenon can be explained by the insecurity and confusion of all Austrian standards. You never knew if the enemy of today might be your ally tomorrow. Therefore it was a normal principle never to demolish bridges which could take you into the other camp. Everybody was useful sometime, and therefore nobody should be driven away completely.[1]

The integration of the various rival left-wing groups into the Sozialdemokratische Arbeiter-Partei (SDAP — Social Democratic Labour Party) under the leadership of Victor Adler (1852-1918) was difficult, and the unity of the party after its founding in 1888 was very much a myth. When, in the aftermath of the first revolution in Russia, universal and equal suffrage for men was gained by a mass strike and a demonstration of about 250 000 people before the parliament of the privileged classes in Vienna on 28 November 1905, this myth of unity ran alongside a growing ideology of pragmatic compromise on the part of the party’s parliamentary fraction. However, this process was not as visible as in Germany, because the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy was ruled by an autocratic government until the very end, and therefore the rôle of parliament, the classic public stage for every reformist, was purely decorative.[2]

The leaders of the party unconsciously also took over the essential elements of the ideology of the Austrian bourgeoisie in their specific adaptation of Marxist theory. To give one example; the thinkers of the industrial bourgeoisie, traumatised by the danger of the disintegration of the Monarchy during the revolution of 1848, were constricted in the following years by the cramped horizons of their class. The ideas that they developed were powerful, but limited and sectional, and they failed to create any general theory of society or any philosophical synthesis of compelling dimension. Victor Adler, who called himself ‘Hofrat der Revolution’ — the ‘privy councillor of revolution’ — reproduced this conceptual approach with his pronounced scepticism about any ‘hypothetical’ way of thinking like Marx’s Capital.[3] Each of the following generations of Austro-Marxist thinkers — Max Adler (1873-1937), Friedrich Adler (1879-1960), Otto Bauer (1881-1938), Rudolf Hilferding (1877-1941), Karl Renner (1870-1950) — ‘too often revealed himself a philistine who had learned certain parts of Marx’s theory as one might study law, and had lived on the interest that Das Kapital yielded them’, as Trotsky noted in his memoirs.[4]

To give another example: the unity of different nations under the supremacy of the German-speaking subjects was the keystone of the arrangement between the aristocracy and the industrial bourgeoisie in Austria, and was justified by the supposed existence of a special, supra-national ‘österreichischer Mensch’, the ‘Austrian human being’. The Social Democratic variation of this manifested itself in the unity of the different German-speaking tendencies as a solid foundation of supremacy over the other nations, presented in internationalist phrases, and with a national programme which required cultural autonomy instead of the right of national self-determination. It was in this way that the German-speaking Social Democratic leadership tried to forget the central lesson of the failed revolution of 1848 in Austria, formulated by Marx and Engels:

A nation which has allowed itself to be used throughout its history as an instrument for oppressing all other nations, a nation of this kind must first prove that it has really become revolutionary. It must prove this in some other way than through a few semi-revolutions, which have had no other result than to allow the old indecisiveness, weakness and disunity to continue in altered forms.[5]

But like the Austro-German ‘magnanimous apostles of liberty’ in 1848, their reformist programme won them neither recognition nor sympathy. The representatives of the oppressed nations of the Monarchy rejected them with bitter sarcasm. Their misconception could not even be realised in the internal life of the SDAP — in fact the Austrian Social Democratic movement splintered in something like an ‘international en miniature’, a conglomerate of autonomous national parties.[6]

The First Republic (1918-1934)

The old Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, this curious hotch-potch of brutality and Fin de siècle, disintegrated from sheer inertia in the shadow of the social explosion in Russia. Out of the pieces, or as Clemenceau put it, ‘L’Autriche c’est qui reste’, the German-speaking people also tried to build a new state. But the old ruling classes had lost their entire economic and military power through their defeat in the First World War. Therefore, the new state ‘Deutsch-Österreich’ — ‘German-Austria’ — of which nobody could say in the beginning where its future borders would be, was projected by its founders as a mere transitional stage on the way ‘home’ into the relatively strong German Empire. When this project could not be realised, because the victorious powers of the First World War prohibited an Anschluß (Union) in the Treaty of Versailles, in the 84 000 square kilometres area of the ‘state that nobody wanted’ lived about 6.5 million people, of whom 39 per cent were engaged in agriculture, 32 per cent in industry, 16 per cent in trade and transport, and 13 per cent in the public and private services.

During the total collapse during 1918-19 (agricultural and industrial production fell to below 40 and 50 per cent of the prewar level respectively) the sceptre of the last Emperor, Karl (1893-1928), lay in the streets of the capital, Vienna. Who would pick it up? Perhaps it would be the Kommunistische Partei Deutsch-Österreichs (Communist Party of German-Austria), which was founded on 3 November 1918 as one of the first Communist organisations outside the borders of Soviet Russia. When Austria was for a short period the missing link between the soviet republics in Hungary and Munich, it seemed for an historical moment that it might be possible to proclaim the dictatorship of proletariat even in Austria. But the main obstacle for such an evolution was the SDAP. The party’s leadership, with Otto Bauer at its head — a man who had during the war always insisted on his quintessentially Austro-quietist formula ‘No victory, no defeat!’ — did nothing except to mobilise, behind the scenes, to prevent revolution.[7] And the most effective method for this was to maintain the unity of the mass party. Therefore Otto Bauer continued to follow the traditional slogan ‘It’s better to go the wrong way together, than to walk the right way alone!’, even when the price was high. For instance, he terminated the coalition government with the Christlichsoziale Partei (Christian-Social Party), which he had formed after 1918, only when it became clear that any further Social Democratic engagement with this party led to a commotion in the rank and file of his own party.

On the other hand, the Communist Party, which had been founded by a small intellectual circle around Elfriede Friedländer, was from the very beginning dominated by an ultra-left group.[8] This principally led it to reject work in parliament and the Social Democratic trade unions, and to advocate adventurist schemes for the soviets to seize power irrespective of whether they enjoyed the support of the majority of the working class.

The Communist Party was thus almost completely isolated when the first revolutionary wave died down. None of the prominent Social Democrats, and in particular Friedrich Adler, who had shot Chancellor Stürkgh during the First World War as a protest against the area of jurisdiction proclaimed by his father’s party, had joined the Communist rank and file. The only exception was Josef Frey (1882-1957). Born in the Czech town of Strakonice into a middle-class merchant family, his parents had sent him to study law at the University of Vienna, where he became one of the founders of the Social Democratic Students Organisation before 1914, and later a member of the editorial staff of the party newspaper Arbeiter-Zeitung (Workers Journal), and a contributor to the party’s theoretical periodical Der Kampf (The Fight).[9] He had been conscripted during the First World War, wounded while at the front, and made an officer, reaching at least the rank of captain. Returning from the front, Julius Deutsch (1884-1968), who was trying to implement the Social Democratic leadership’s call to build a new military organisation from the disintegrating army inherited from the Monarchy, had appointed him to replace Egon Erwin Kisch (1885-1948) as chief commander of the Red Guards formed by Social Democratic revolutionaries. Soon afterwards, Frey had been elected chairman of the Wiener Soldaten-Rat (Viennese Soldiers’ Soviet).[10] But he soon became involved in conflicts with the party leaders, particularly Friedrich Adler and Otto Bauer, because of his advocacy of a republic based upon workers’ and soldiers’ councils in place of a parliamentary republic. As a result, he resigned his official functions and organised the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Revolutionärer Sozialdemokraten (Working Group of Revolutionary Social Democrats). He was expelled from the party for urging workers to vote for Communists instead of right-wing Social Democrats in the legislative elections in October 1920.

When Frey joined the Communist Party in January 1921, he was one of the rare convinced supporters of the tactic of the united front, which was being promoted by the Communist International. He therefore advanced quickly to the central leadership of the Austrian party, which he started to reorganise in the face of the disruptive tactics of the very influential ultra-left factions. His project had progressed so far by the summer of 1921 that a Communist initiative for a solidarity campaign with victims of hunger in the Volga Region was supported in the Vienna Workers Council by the prominent Austro-Marxist Otto Bauer, and 50 million crowns were jointly collected by Social Democrats and Communists — the highest sum from any capitalist country. In the spring of 1922, the Vienna Workers Council voted for a Communist initiative to organise a protest meeting of the SDAP and Communist Party against the deterioration of the workers’ living conditions. As many as 110 000 people followed the party’s call. That summer, the Austrian Communist Party (KPÖ) intervened successfully with its revolutionäre Blöcke (revolutionary blocks) within the Social Democratic Freien Gewerkschaften (Free Trade Union) in strikes involving railway workers, postal employees, Vienna tram drivers and printers.[11] That autumn, Communists were able to organise by their own efforts some 30 000 members and sympathisers in Vienna in a march protesting against the Treaty of Geneva.

The Treaty of Geneva permitted Austria to receive a large public loan from the League of Nations for economic reconstruction. Although galloping inflation was brought under control, unemployment was growing,[12] and industrial production never reached its prewar level. The price paid for economic recovery was high. The entire property of the state and of many private enterprises in Austria came under the tutelage of the League of Nations. A commissioner of the creditors even had the right to amend the annual budget. So it was no exaggeration to accuse the Austrian government under the leadership of the Christian Social Chancellor Ignaz Seipel — as Otto Bauer, the prominent Social Democrat did — of committing ‘national treason’.[13] Nevertheless, ‘Seipel’s reconstruction’ established a more equal balance of power between the Social Democrats, who were strongest in Vienna, and the Christian Social Party, whose strength lay in the provinces and who were the majority party until the suspension of the constitution in March 1933. This political balance of power had its analogy in the field of military force. On the one side was the Schutzbund (Social Democratic Defence Corps), which was formed from the stewards of the dissolved Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviets of 1923,[14] and the Heimwehr (Home Guards),[15] a paramilitary volunteer formation formed soon after the breakdown of the monarchy in the provinces as a protection against marauding bands of soldiers. Between them stood the Volkswehr, an army which consisted of a rank and file which openly sympathised with the SDAP, and a corps of officers who were engaged in all sorts of reactionary politics.

The KPÖ was the first victim of this relative economic and political stabilisation. In March 1923, Josef Frey lost his majority support in the Central Committee.[16] This was the signal for tumultuous factional fights on a level hardly experienced before or afterwards in any other section of the Communist International. To ‘Austrianise’ became a catch-phrase contrasting with that of to ‘Bolshevise’.[17] The following chronology of the splits and expulsions can only give a superficial impression of what really happened.[18] In 1924, a small group of sympathisers of the Kommunistische Arbeiter-Internationale (Communist Workers International) left the party. This typical ‘left-wing’ Communist group with strong anarcho-syndicalist features later published for a short time the Kommunistische Arbeiter-Zeitung (Communist Workers Newspaper).[19] In January 1927, the KPÖ expelled Josef Frey and his close followers. About 200 members left the organisation with them, and they constituted the Kommunistische Partei Österreichs-Opposition (KPÖ-O — Austrian Communist Party Opposition). The group published the bi-weekly Arbeiter-Stimme (Workers Voice),[20] and, until the end of 1927, considered itself to be a new Communist Party, and not an expelled faction.

The immediate cause for these expulsions was a dispute around the party’s tactics in the legislative election in 1927. The KPÖ had first proposed an electoral alliance with the Social Democrats, which was rejected by the SDAP’s leadership. Subsequently, the majority of the KPÖ decided to run their own candidates; the minority around Frey called for support for the Social Democrats, and held to this decision after their expulsion from the KPÖ. In practice, this meant leaving the tiny Communist organisation behind, and concentrating their efforts in the direction of the Social Democracy. In exile in Prinkipo in Turkey, Trotsky criticised this tactic, which was incompatible with an assessment of the minority as an expelled faction of the Comintern, although, as we will see, after February 1934 he himself favoured such a political orientation.

The KPÖ-O had barely been expelled from the official party before it experienced sharp internal quarrels. Frey’s opponent was Kurt Landau (1903-1937),[21] a Viennese Jewish intellectual who had joined the KPÖ in 1921, and had soon become head of its agitprop department and cultural editor of its newspaper, Rote Fahne (Red Flag). After the struggle within the Russian Communist Party had broken out, he was the only Austrian Communist who openly supported Trotsky’s positions on cultural issues. Now he quarrelled with Frey about the question of ‘Thermidor’ in the Soviet Union, but there is much evidence that the central question of this faction fight was really a power struggle, sometimes of a very unscrupulous nature, in the party’s leadership, than an ideological controversy. Consequently, Landau’s supporters split from the oppositionists around Frey, and founded in April 1928 the Kommunistische Opposition Österreichs — Linke Kommunisten (Austrian Communist Opposition: Left Communists), publishing the Neuer Mahnruf (New Call).

In 1929 came the expulsion of the so-called ‘Right Opposition’, the Austrian followers of Nikolai Bukharin, from the KPÖ. The leaders of this tendency, Gustav Schönfelder (1895-1991) and William Schlamm (1904-1978),[22] formed the Kommunistische Opposition Österreichs (Austrian Communist Opposition), which became a section of the International Communist Opposition (Internationale Vereinigung der kommunistischen Organisationen).

Soon afterwards a few Trotskyists around Isa Strasser (1891-1970), a very active organiser of the KPÖ’s women’s fraction,[23] and Martha Nathanson (1887‑?)[24], a foundation member of the Communist Party, were expelled. They formed the Innerparteiliche Gruppe (Internal Group of the Party).

After the purging of the ‘deviationists’, the KPÖ received just 16 119 votes in 1927 and 20 879 votes in 1929 in nation-wide elections. The official party membership in 1931 stood at a mere 3508. One year later, it was said to have 6813 members,[25] whilst in 1931 the SDAP’s membership stood at 653 605. The KPÖ’s Chairman was Johann Koplenig (1891-1968). Before 1914, he had worked as shoe-maker, and had joined the Austrian trade union movement in 1911, and the Socialist Party a year later. Captured on the Russian Front, in April 1918 he joined the Nizhny Novgorod branch of the Federation of Foreign Communist Groups affiliated to the Russian Communist Party. At the end of 1920, he returned to Austria where he became secretary of the party organisation in the province of Styria. In November 1924, he rose into the leading bodies of the party as a frontman for the so-called ‘Bolshevik nucleus’ led by Georgi Dimitrov in his function as one of the innumerable Comintern emissaries.[26] By his background, Koplenig conformed to the new type of Comintern leaders. Like William Z Foster in the USA, Maurice Thorez in France and Ernst Thälmann in Germany, his position in the party was due to a certain loyalty, rather than to any marked intellectual attainments. Like the others, he faithfully followed the Kremlin line through all its shifts and accompanying purges. Simply described, he was a worker and revolutionary in the sense of the narrow-minded definition given by Josef Stalin: ‘A revolutionary is one who is ready to protect, to defend the USSR without reservation, without qualification, openly and honestly…’[27]

Whilst the purges in the KPÖ and the quarrels between the various oppositionist groups were occurring, the political equilibrium between the Social Democrats and the Christian-Social Party was increasingly being upset. The first step was on 15 July 1927, when the workers of Vienna, outraged by the acquittal of murderers organised in the Heimwehr, marched to the city centre. They carried banners protesting against the class bias of the judicial decision, but were perfectly behaved. Suddenly shots were heard from behind the parliament. It was the beginning of one of the most blood-curdling days in the history of Vienna. The police killed 85 people,[28] and over 100 were wounded. From now on, the Heimwehr deliberately staged provocative demonstrations in Socialist strong­holds on the pretext of fighting against an imaginary ‘Bolshevik menace’. This offensive steadily destroyed the ‘political equilibrium of class forces’[29] which had characterised the period since 1922-23. In 1928, the Heimwehr initiated a parade in one of the greatest industrial centres of the country, which seemed likely to result in serious clashes with the workers (some observers spoke about an ‘declared civil war’), and the Social Democrats again called in parliament for a general disarmament, a proposal which was promptly rejected by the Chancellor, who wanted to arm the fascists and to disarm their opponents.

These events alarmed the Secretariat of the International Left Opposition (ILO). Leon Trotsky wrote in his exile in Prinkipo a long essay entitled ‘The Austrian Crisis and Communism’. For him, ‘the Austrian crisis’ was ‘a particular manifestation of the crisis of democracy’, which ‘results in a short circuit of the dictatorship, blowing out the fuses of democracy one after the other’. ‘This process’, he argued, ‘began at the periphery of Europe, in the most backward countries, the weakest links in the capitalist chain. But it is advancing steadily.’ What will happen in the future? The time when the reformist and pacifist methods of the Social Democracy alone guaranteed the bourgeois regime was definitively concluded with the days of July 1927: ‘The economic decomposition of Austria… is absolutely inevitable within this very perspective of peaceful development… Austrian democracy is doomed.’ Therefore the bourgeoisie in the next period will try to use ‘the fascists to force the Social Democrats to help the bourgeoisie revise the constitution in such a way as to combine the advantages of democracy and fascism — fascism for its essence and democracy for its form’. What kind of decisions will the Social Democrats take against this? Otto Bauer’s concept of the impermissibility of violence except for the defence of the existing democratic regime is under this circumstances nothing but ‘concentrated nonsense’, because this argument means, when translated into the language of classes, ‘violence is permissible to guarantee the interests of the bourgeoisie, organised by the state, but it is impermissible for the establishment of a proletarian state’. And what will be the consequences of the conception of ‘domestic disarmament’? Trotsky predicted:

Austro-Marxism has entered a period of history when it must pay for its past sins. The Social Democracy, having saved the bourgeoisie from Bolshevism, is now making it easier for the bourgeoisie to be saved from the Social Democracy itself. … In this regard, as in many others, Social Democracy only repeats the history of liberalism, whose belated child it is. More than once in history, the liberals helped feudal reaction triumph over the popular masses only to be liquidated by the reaction in turn.

At the end of his essay, Trotsky exhorted his followers:

No matter how weak the Left Opposition may be numerically by comparison with the Communist Party, its functions are still the same: to do propaganda work, and patiently to explain. … the Austrian Opposition will succeed in the coming period in establishing a regular publication — a weekly paper, if possible — that can carry on propaganda work keeping pace with events.[30]

As a matter of fact, the ‘Left Opposition’ that Trotsky mentioned was but a fiction. Transforming this fiction into reality necessitated a process of reconciliation among the three groups of Austrian oppositionists, and the ILO called for unification as soon as possible. But the consequences of this demand were appalling. Factional fights escalated,[31] not least through the activities of a certain Max Graef, alias Jakob Frank. Born in Lithuania, he was noticed for the first time in the KPÖ in 1923, when he worked as an instructor for the Czech Alois Neurath, one of the countless Comintern emissaries. Afterwards he worked in the Soviet Trade Mission in Vienna until 1929, when he became, through the support of Raissa Timfeievna Adler, Trotsky’s secretary for the German-speak­ing countries. Back from Prinkipo, he quickly rose into the leadership of the Internal Group — although he was generally unknown amongst the rank and file of the Austrian Left Oppositionists. This position allowed him to sharpen the conflicts between Frey’s and Landau’s groups until the reconciliation project ended in disaster. Together with a few others, Frank returned to the KPÖ. The motivation of his activities became quite clear, when Gräf, alias Frank, appeared suddenly in the 1950s as one of the most effective GPU agents in the USA.[32]

Looking at this disillusioning development, Trotsky spoke about ‘Austro-oppositionism’, which he defined as ‘combinations of little circles and adventurism behind the scenes’. He concluded: ‘This example is at the same time a serious lesson and a serious warning.’[33] Shortly afterwards, he extended this harsh verdict to the situation in the entire Communist movement in Austria:

The fact is that the Austrian Communist Party, which has done everything possible to help the Social Democracy, is dragging out a woeful existence in the backyard of the labour movement. All the maladies of the Communist International find their sharpest expression in the Austrian Communist Party. The opposition splinters of the Austrian party — without international ground under their feet, without an international method in their hands, without contact with the masses, with a narrow Austrian horizon before their eyes — very rapidly degenerate into unprincipled cliques.[34]

In the meantime, domestic conflicts had intensified. By 1930, Heimwehr representatives were firmly established in the government, and almost immediately a treaty of friendship was signed between Austria and Mussolini. In the same year, their fascist attitude was stated openly in the ‘Oath of Korneuburg’:

We repudiate Western parliamentary democracy and the party state! We must replace them with government by ‘corporations’ [Stände] and by a strong national leadership which will consist, not of the representatives of the parties, but of the leaders of the principal ‘Stände’ and of the ablest and most reliable leaders of our movement. We are fighting against the subversion of our people [Volk] by Marxist class struggle and liberal and capitalist economics.

The following year of 1931 was characterised by the collapse of the ‘Creditanstalt’, the biggest bank. This crash and the following great world recession produced enormous unemployment, which can be estimated at between 17 and 24 per cent of the population. Every day, a dozen people committed suicide. Many members of the Austrian middle classes now decided to forsake their support for the Christian-Social Party for the Heimwehr or the Nazis. The brown flood rose, and the rivalry between the two fascist organisations increasingly destabilised the Christian-Social government. On the one hand, the Styrian Heimwehr attempted its own ‘March on Vienna’, which inevitable failed; the time was not yet ready for that. On the other hand, members of the government themselves toyed with the idea of a constitutional coup. And much about the same time, the first signs of open German Nazi interference in Austrian affairs became apparent, when, against the wishes of the Austrian Government, Joseph Goebbels insisted on visiting Vienna to address a Nazi gathering.

In this critical situation, the German Trotskyists took the initiative to try to form a viable Austrian group. On 19 December 1932, a conference of former members of Frey’s group and those around Mahnruf was convoked. The meeting constituted a new organisation, which called itself the Linke Opposition der Kommunistischen Partei Österreichs — Bolschewiki-Leninisten (Left Opposition of the Austrian Communist Party — Bolshevik-Leninists), and published a supplement to the journal of the German section’s Unser Wort (Our Word), and distributed Trotsky’s books and pamphlets.[35] But in view of previous bad experiences, the International Secretariat decided in February 1933 to set a probationary period of six months before it would be formally admitted as a section of the ILO.[36]

Long before this time had expired, on 4 March 1933, parliamentary government in Austria was brought to an end, through a Socialist deputy yielding to the imperative calls of nature and allowing a fellow-Socialist to hand in his voting card while he was in the lavatory. Thereupon all the presidents of the parliament resigned. Chancellor Dollfuss (1892-1934) took the opportunity to carry out a bloodless putsch. Declaring that democratic government had come to an end, his coup was backed by the Heimwehr.

A few days later, Trotsky made a dramatic public appeal to the entire workers’ movement entitled Austria’s Turn Next!:

Austria is passing through a period that is analogous to the period of Brüning-Schleicher-Papen in Germany… Today at any rate the overwhelming majority of Austrian workers follows the Social Democrats. This means that there cannot even be talk of the revolutionary dictatorship as a present task. What is on the agenda today is not the antithesis of bourgeois and soviet democracy but the antithesis of bourgeois democracy and fascism. We accuse the Austro-Marxist not of fighting for democracy but of not fighting for it… The policies of Otto Bauer and Co lead fatally to the victory of the fascists, imposing the least sacrifices and difficulties upon them, and the greatest sacrifices and misfortunes upon the proletariat… The circumstance that Austria is separated governmentally from Germany and lags behind the latter in its internal evolution could play a decisive rôle in the salvation of Germany and of all Europe — under a bold and virile policy of the proletarian vanguard. Proletarian Austria would immediately become the Piedmont for the entire German proletariat… The initiative for revolutionary action can come at present only from the Austrian proletariat. What is there necessary for it? The Austrian workers have nothing to lose but their chains. And by their initiative they can conquer Europe and the whole world![37]

On the one hand, this dramatic appeal of the founder of the Red Army was noticed far beyond Communist circles. Young members of the Social Democracy were especially interested. Some of them, a group of left-wing Social Democratic students, organised the distribution of Austria’s Turn Next! amongst the members of the various oppositionist tendencies which developed in the party.[38] The copies ‘sold like hot cakes’.[39] Trotsky believed that the enormous success of his pamphlet would lead to the recruitment of new members for the Bolshevik-Leninist Group. He wrote to the Czech Left Oppositionist Wolfgang Vaclav Salus (1909-1953), who had been his secretary and bodyguard in Prinkipo and who was now in Vienna helping to reorganise the section: ‘… serious revolutionaries will attract the young workers and, with them, will form a real proletarian organisation, which will be capable to use its forces… and work in a systematic fashion. There is no other formula.’[40]

On the other hand, Trotsky’s dramatic appeal made no impression whatever upon the Central Committee of the KPÖ. This became evident when the party (along with the various Trotskyist groups) was banned in May 1933 without provoking any protest by the Austrian workers. Neglecting the facts, the Moscow Pravda declared: ‘The anti-fascist movement in Austria is growing every day.’ And the most important worry of the Comintern during these days was the preparation of an anti-fascist congress — in Paris! Trotsky fulminated:

It is wrong to think that a parliament is necessary for parliamentary cretinism; shielded rostrums are sufficient, forums removed from the arena of struggle, where false speeches can be made, barren formulas paraded, and twenty-four-hour ‘alliances’ concluded with journalists, pacifists, outraged radicals, tenors and baritones.[41]

Moreover, Trotsky’s appeal made no impression whatever upon the Social Democratic leadership. This was much more serious than the obduracy of the Austrian Communists, who had managed to reduce themselves to complete impotence, because the Austrian Social Democracy was not only the leading party of the proletariat, but was also the strongest party in the world in proportion to the population, with its 600 000 members and 1.5 million voters. Under the intellectual leadership of Otto Bauer, this powerful organisation had at the Linzer Congress of 1926 accepted a programme with the central formula of ‘defensive violence’, which envisaged a resort to mass strikes and armed insurrection, albeit only as an extreme measure in response to bourgeois violence. This was precisely the situation after Dollfuss’ coup; the conditions for a successful strike were never so favourable as after 4 March 1933. But even then the Social Democratic leaders failed to meet Dollfuss’ violence by counter-violence, and to take up arms to defend parliamentary liberty. On the contrary, they offered to enter into negotiations with him, in order to reach an understanding on the reform of the constitution and the parliamentary agenda. Dollfuss promised to open negotiations at the end of March 1933. This he refused to do so, subsequently rejecting any discussion with the Social Democrats, and issuing orders which fell with extreme severity on the labour movement. The building workers’ collective agreement was annulled by a government order, and a considerable reduction in their wages was decreed. A little later, the unemployment relief payable to unemployed building workers was considerably reduced by order, and a large number of building workers lost all entitlement to relief.

Having tolerated the prohibition of the Republican Defence Corps, the banning of the KPÖ and the Trotskyist groups, the prohibition of the traditional Social Democratic demonstration on 1 May, and the censoring of the Social Democratic newspaper Arbeiter-Zeitung (Workers Journal), in August 1933 Otto Bauer gave an explanatory speech at an international conference of the Labour and Socialist International, which was discussing the situation after the German catastrophe. He started with a great lament about the ‘workers suffering all tortures of hunger, bitter misery and hopelessness’ and ‘falling into a mood of discouragement’, and how the party ‘in one tragic moment was driven to fight their battle on two fronts’. Then he asked himself: ‘Can we say anything to the masses to-day that will give them courage?’ Answering his own question, he declared: ‘We contended ourselves… with saying simply that the workers of such countries [where democracy is in danger] must be prepared to adopt any and every method and to make the heaviest sacrifices — including the ultimate sacrifice of all — in order to ward off fascism.’ Otto Bauer explained in October 1933 at an extraordinary party congress what ‘heaviest sacrifices’ meant in detail, and how ‘the ultimate sacrifice of all’ could prevent the masses ‘losing not, indeed, their belief in Socialism, but their faith in its ability to triumph’.[42] Following the old model of Austro-quietism he gave a speech, in which he declared that the Social Democrats might call for a general strike in any of the four following cases:

  • If the government, in defiance of the law and constitution, introduced a fascist constitution.
  • If the government illegally and unconstitutionally deposed the municipal and provincial authorities of ‘Rotes Wien’ (Red Vienna), and handed over the administration of Vienna to a government commissioner.
  • If the government dissolved the party.
  • If the trade unions were dissolved or ‘brought into line’.

At first glance, his declaration seemed to be very militant, like many other declarations of Austro-Marxist leaders. But in fact this catalogue was not so much the operational plan of a Cunctator, but a construct of Jacques le Fataliste, which could be used by Dollfuss as a guide towards dictatorship. Or, as Trotsky had formulated it months before: ‘The policy of the Austrian Social Democracy, now passive, now threatening, does nothing but prepare the way for the victory of fascism.’[43] Now Dollfuss knew exactly which compulsory measures the Social Democrats would tolerate, and he had the final say in fixing the date of the decisive battle.

Chancellor Dollfuss, driven by his protector Mussolini, who had promised him diplomatic and military support against Hitler in the event of the Austrian Social Democrats being annihilated and the fascist country being incorporated into the Italian-Hungarian-alliance, took his chance to clean up. Otto Bauer tolerated the everyday actions of the police and the fascist Heimwehr, and made many clandestine attempts to come to an agreement with Dollfuss. He let the Chancellor know that he would be prepared to grant extraordinary powers to the government, in a constitutional manner, for two years, provided that these powers should only be exercised subject to the collaboration of a small parliamentary commission and under the supervision of the constitutional court. He declared that they would even be prepared to make concessions to the notion of a ‘corporatist’ organisation of society and the state, in order to make an understanding possible. Bauer’s offer of negotiations was brusquely rejected.

Meanwhile, the state was increasing its military forces at the same time as it was endeavouring to destroy the fighting strength of the labour movement. A growing number of workers in the factories and the party branches gave voice to their impatience. ‘Why wait?’, they said: ‘By the time that any of Bauer’s four points materialise, we shall no longer be in any condition to fight.’ Thus on Monday, 12 February, the storm broke, but not because the Social Democratic leadership gave the order to resist. It was a regional commander of the illegal Republican Defence Corps in Linz (Upper Austria) who defended at his own risk a workers’ club against the police who were searching for hidden weapons. His act unleashed resistance in the whole of Austria.

The fighters had their backs to the wall. There was no pressure from outside to restore democracy in Austria. There was no support from the mass of the people — the general strike did not occur.[44] And the action had no military leadership — the commander-in-chief of the Republican Defence Corps, Julius Deutsch, fled immediately to Bratislava, where he told a cock-and-bull tale about being wounded just below the eye by a ricocheting bullet.

The Communists did their best to support the Social Democratic fighters, whom they had only recently insulted as ‘social-fascists’. But even now their assistance was sometimes rejected by the fighters of the Defence Corps, who refused to give weapons to well-known Communists.[45] One KPÖ member who got hold of a weapon was the 18-year-old Gustav Gronich, who later joined a Left Oppositionist group. He belonged to the heroic defenders of the Goethe-Hof in Vienna, and escaped from the police and Heimwehr who were combing the buildings for the reds, by fleeing in an adventurous way over a frozen branch of the Danube. Franz Drexler (born 1912), a member of the Wehrturner (Defence Athletes), an élite troop within the Republican Defence League, who later joined Frey’s group, received a gun and ammunition from his commander, and barricaded himself together with his comrades one night in a slaughter-house, until it became clear in the morning that this insurrection had no general staff.[46] The few followers of the Left Opposition also tried to give support to the fighters.[47] Wolfgang Vaclav Salus, whom we have mentioned above, participated in the fighting around the Karl Marx-Hof. He was injured in his leg. When the howitzers poured their last shells into this famous magnificent workers’ house, financed by the proceeds of taxation by the administration of Red Vienna, and its handful of defenders were driven out exhausted, holding their hands on their weary heads, he escaped in a canoe across the Danube.[48]

After three days of bloodshed, the united forces of the military, whose rank and file had been systematically purged of sympathisers of the workers’ movement since 1927, police and Heimwehr had won the battle, and the celebrated houses of Red Vienna were shell-shattered and bullet-scarred. Every labour movement organisation was banned by the government.

The biggest left oppositional organisation, the KPÖ-O, was banned in August 1933, and the police started a series of house checks.[49] Its leader Joseph Frey was arrested on 12 February. Soon after his release, he wrote a long leaflet ‘Die Lehren der Niederlage’ (‘Lessons of the Defeat’),[50] in which he criticised the purely defensive military tactics. In fact, no attempt had been made to seize public buildings, telegraph and telephone offices, broadcasting centres and so on. The Defence Corps men built up strong but purely defensive positions, with barricades and regular trenches dug across the fields between the blocks of houses, and had defended them until their ammunition ran out. ‘But what the could the victory of the working class in a hypothetical civil war be for Austrian Social Democracy?’, asked Frey at the end of his analysis. ‘It seemed to be more afraid of a victory of this sort than any defeat.’

The conclusions of Trotsky, to whom Frey had become extremely hostile after a long and furious factional quarrel,[51] were not that different:

The behaviour of the Austrian Social Democracy after the German experience proved that even the ‘left’ parties of the Second International are completely ossified, bogged down and incapable of learning the revolutionary lessons of the terrible experience of the German proletariat. The courageous struggles of the Austrian workers only prove that the proletariat can be bold and ready to struggle even in the most unfavourable conditions and with the worst leadership. The fact that a few Social Democratic leaders took part in the battles is at best only testimony to their personal valour. But the working class demands political insight and revolutionary courage from its leadership.[52]

The Austro-Fascist ‘Christian Corporate State’ (1934-38)

On 1 May 1934, Chancellor Dollfuss introduced a new constitution, which was anything but democratic. Nearly all the demands of the ‘Oath of Korneuburg’ could now be realised.[53] The former political parties were to be dissolved into a new unitary fascist party, the Vaterländische Front (Patriotic Front). The idea of the corporate state meant in essence a make-believe escape from reality into the imagined stable order of the middle ages — a new variation of Austro-quietism.

But reality claimed its rightful place practically on the spot. With the full support of the German government, the National Socialist Party in Austria made a bid for power on 25 July 1934. Members of the Schutz-Staffeln (Security Squads) staged a surprise coup, entered the building of the Viennese chancellery, and fatally wounded Dollfuss. Provincial National Socialist groups organised simultaneous uprisings. In this emergency, Mussolini dispatched a number of Italian divisions to the Austrian border to counter a possible German attack. That put an end to the putsch, but the coup cost more than 250 policemen and insurgents their lives, and left hundreds injured.

The simple fact that this coup occurred, despite its disastrous ending, made it quite clear that the Austro-fascist state, manifested in institutions proclaimed through the new constitution, never actually worked or even existed, and was a fragile regime that could only retain the allegiance of a quarter of the population. Dollfuss’ successor, Kurt von Schuschnigg (1897-1977), therefore declared the restoration of the Habsburg Monarchy as his ultimate objective, which he felt would be the best guarantee of political stability — a further variation of Austro-quietism. This plan was never transformed into reality, because he was immediately strongly opposed by the Czech government. The only real effect of this political reverse was that relations with Czechoslovakia remained permanently disturbed.

As a consequence, the Austro-fascists could never establish themselves on the international scene, nor atomise the working class like the Nazis did in Germany. Taking advantage of this relatively lenient form of illegality, a regroupment took place within the working-class movement of Austria. The civil war of 12 February 1934 had convinced many Social Democrats of the impossibility of changing society by peaceful, democratic methods; unlike in Germany, the Austrian Social Democratic leadership was not able to shift the responsibility of the debacle onto the Austrian Communists. As a consequence of the cowardice and treachery of its leading officials during the rebellion, ‘many… in the Social Democratic left-wing opposition hated the Social Democratic leaders more than they hated the class enemy’. For many of them, the KPÖ ‘stood for something which, in that decaying world, was uniquely stable, great and credible… — the Socialist Soviet Union’.[54] Under such circumstances, Communist influence grew rapidly, and the organisation became an underground mass party. More than 10 000 members took part in clandestine meetings preparing for the twelfth party congress that was held in Prague in September 1934. Communists were promoted to the leadership of organisations which previously had been totally under Social Democratic control, such as the illegal Freien Gewerkschaften (Free Trade Union) and the bulk of the Republican Defence Corps. An important instrument for winning over Social Democrats was the solidarity work of the Internationale Arbeiterhilfe (Workers International Relief), better known as the Internationale Rote Hilfe (International Red Aid),[55] which supported the victims of political persecution and their families. In the first place were the fighters in the rebellion of 12 February 1934. About 800 of them were taken by Red Aid from camps in Czechoslovakia to the Soviet Union. They first received a hero’s welcome, but they soon became victims of the purges.[56]

In its tactics, the KPÖ immediately put into effect the instructions handed down by the Comintern. Whilst the KPÖ was still implementing the ‘united front from below’ during and after the insurrection of 12 February 1934, it soon endorsed the call for non-aggression issued in July 1934 by the illegal Social Democratic leaders (now calling themselves Revolutionäre Sozialisten [Revolutionary Socialists], to demonstrate their distance from the old Austro-Marxist party), and the parties formally agreed to cooperate. After the Seventh Congress of the Comintern, the KPÖ tried first to build a popular and then a national front, although the realisation of these projects was very complicated for several reasons. Firstly, no liberal alliance partner existed. Secondly, former rank-and-file Social Democrats remembered all too well the consequences of the tactic of a pact with bourgeois parties or individuals. Thirdly, the Austrian Communists called on the Social Democrats to accept the absurd accusations of the witchcraft trials in Moscow.[57]

As a first step in this direction, Ernst Fischer (1899-1972),[58] a former editor of the Viennese Arbeiter-Zeitung, who had joined the Communists in the aftermath of 12 February 1934 and soon became an intellectual figurehead of the party, from his exile in the Hotel Lux published a pamphlet entitled For or Against the United Front?. In it he not only repeated the crazy accusations against the Mensheviks in the trial of the Union Bureau in 1931, but he also ‘unmasked’ the Mensheviks as enemies of united front:

Once upon a time part of the Russian labour movement… although travelling the wrong path, yet pulsing with the blood of the Russian proletariat, in the period of the proletarian revolution they have broken all ties and lost any trace of connections with the Socialist fatherland. Filled with envy, hatred and resentment against the Soviet Union, weaving intrigues in the Second International, they regard the Social Democratic workers as a means to an end, as a mere instrument in their fight against Stalin, against the Bolsheviks, against the dictatorship of the proletariat… The united front against war and fascism is an elementary necessity… Hitler’s war can flare out on the world with lightning speed… Every intrigue against the united front is support for war-breathing fascism…, is a crime, not only against the working class but against all toilers, a betrayal of the peace of the peoples and an instigation for Hitler’s war.[59]

In practice, Fischer demanded that the Austro-Marxists, who had always been ideologically very close to the Mensheviks in exile,[60] drop their allies like a hot potato.

Fischer’s following pamphlet, Trotsky Unmasked, carried on the plot. A veritable Stakhanovite in the task of producing criminal nonsense, he happily over-fulfilled his plan target: ‘Trotsky had a conversation with Hess, Hitler’s deputy… Hitler’s My Struggle and Trotsky’s My Life are favourite books of the German counter-revolutionaries… spies and provocateurs [of the fascist police] represent a political program, so to speak, and command a political organisation within the working class movement — they represent the program of Trotskyism and command the Trotskyite organisation.’ And so on… Moreover, Fischer upped his demands. He not only implored the Social Democrats to accept every single word of Andrei Vyshinsky’s slanders as truth, but also demanded an agreement for a common struggle against what they called ‘Trotskyism’ as a precondition for any further cooperation with the Social Democrats against the two brands of domestic fascism, to ‘purify the working class movement of the poison of fascist Trotskyism…, purify it and unite it’.[61]

This was now the official line of the KPÖ, as its Chairman Johann Koplenig explained. He attempted to reassure sceptics amongst the Socialists:

We are not demanding that the Revolutionary Socialists forgo their principles, because fighting against counter-revolutionary Trotskyism has nothing to do with a controversy within the workers’ movement. Trotskyism is not a political party, but an agency and a strike-force of fascism… We want a fair and honest strike-force against fascism, and we therefore hope that the Moscow Trial would be an occasion for them [Revolutionary Socialists] to eradicate all ambiguity and double dealings in their behaviour towards the Soviet Union and their behaviour towards the Trotskyist criminals.[62]

The Social Democrats immediately rejected this outlook. Friedrich Adler published a pamphlet The Witchcraft Trial in Moscow, not merely in his position as a leader of the Austro-Marxists in the emigration, but also as Secretary of the Labour and Socialist International:

The Soviet Union has in great measure abolished capitalism, its workers and peasants have achieved tremendous works of construction, and we desire to help it with all our energy, in its defence against its enemies at home and abroad. But with regard to what is bad in the Soviet Union we shall never allow ourselves to be forced to play the part of dumb curs or mendacious whitewashers. In this we differ from the puppets of the Communist parties… We wish to make it clear that we do not accept the mistaken world-revolutionary ideas of the Trotskyist sect, we want no responsibility for the thoroughly mistaken policy of the Trotskyists, but it is our duty to point out that the inclusion of Trotsky in the ‘amalgam’ of the trial is one of the most wanton and ridiculous actions which have ever been encountered in the criminal witchcraft trials.[63]

Furthermore, Otto Bauer, whose political sympathy for the Stalinist bureaucracy[64] led him to conclude that Trotsky was speculating on a future war, nonetheless recognised that the Moscow Trials were a juridical frame-up.[65] The illegal Revolutionary Socialists under the leadership of Joseph Buttinger (1906-1992) took the same position.[66]

The Communists remained unmoved by such arguments, even when confronted by the developments of real fascism in Austria. In 1936, Schuschnigg concluded the notorious ‘July Accord’ with Hitler, which provided for the infiltration of the ‘Fatherland Front’, the public services and even the armed forces by Nazi and pro-Nazi elements with the visible goal of the peaceful Gleichschaltung (synchronisation) of Austria, whose foreign policy was from now to proceed from the premise of its being a ‘second German state’. In late 1937, Germany attempted to force Austria and Hungary into the Anti-Comintern Pact, and, even though Schuschnigg decided to accede to the German demand, it grew impatient, and in January 1938 the Austrian police discovered evidence that a new Nazi coup was in the offing. Schuschnigg’s attempts to find a compromise with Hitler ended after his meeting with the Führer in the Berchtesgaden on 13 March 1938, and with the occupation of Austria by the Nazi Reichswehr.[67]

Even the fact that the Austrian fascist regime’s propaganda made much use of the Communists’ hunting of the Trotskyists in the underground made little impression on the leadership of the KPÖ, devoted as they were to Moscow.[68] On the contrary, Ernst Fischer tried to make capital out of the absurdity, and he formulated his own Stalinist Credo quia absurdum, when he asked the Revolutionary Socialists: ‘Do you really believe we are so silly, that — confronted with the mortal enemy of fascism — we would invent a further enemy, Trotskyism?’[69] These threats meant that the Trotskyist groups were obliged to operate under conditions of double illegality. It was necessary to conspire not only against the fascist police, but also against Stalinist informers.

The KPÖ-O under the leadership of Joseph Frey remained the largest of all the groups professing loyalty in one way or another to Trotskyism.[70] After 12 February 1934, the organisation changed its name to Kampfbund für die Befreiung der Arbeiterklasse (Union of Struggle for the Liberation of the Working Class). The Union of Struggle remained a propaganda group, dedicated to developing a leadership cadre for future class struggles. The group published an illegal periodical called Arbeitermacht (Workers Power). Its central slogan was ‘Workers’ Unity!’, but, in contrast with the Communists and Revolutionary Socialists, the Union of Struggle subordinated the question of unity to the question of the revolutionary conquest of power. Consequently, the group always linked its support for the Social Democrats and Communists under this slogan with propaganda calling for the destruction of the bourgeois state and the expropriation without compensation of the property of the Church and big business, and for soviet power on a national and international basis.

The Union of Struggle was organised in cells, and ran along strictly observed lines of clandestinity.[71] Weekly meetings studied exhaustively a series of documents on such issues as dialectic materialism, strategy and tactics, and the building of the party. In this way, the membership learnt a rather dogmatic form of Marxist theory. To give one example; in 1936, Otto Bauer published in Bratislava a book entitled Zwischen zwei Weltkriegen (Between Two World Wars), in which he formulated his concept of ‘integralen Sozialismus’ (‘integrated socialism’), that unity between Social Democrats and Communists should not be reached through a simple combination of the forces of the two parties, but as a result of a full-scale revival of the whole workers’ movement. Joseph Frey formulated an answer under the name of ‘Ernst Schmied’. He gave a stern warning that anything formulated by Bauer had to be treated by the workers with great care, as every Austro-Marxist theory he had previously promoted had proved to be bankrupt, not that Bauer admitted this. Once again, Frey showed that Bauer blamed adverse objective conditions for the behaviour of the bulk of Social Democrats at the start of the First World War; once again, he defended his and his comrades’ opposition to the proclamation of a Soviet Republic in Austria, which would have helped to end the isolation of the Russian workers’ state through the construction of a corridor through Budapest, Vienna and Munich into central Europe; once again, he defended his policy of ‘defensive violence’, which made the fascist strategy of ‘offensive violence’ possible. To sum up, Frey wrote, Bauer considered that ‘reformist Socialism was an unavoidable feature of the workers’ movement at a certain stage of development’[72] — and in this way he maintained a passage for the emergence of a modified reformism in the future, as well as presenting a new variety of Austro-quietism. This interpretation of Bauer’s ‘integrated Socialism’ was indubitably correct, but Frey’s rather dogmatic portrayal of Marxist theory, presented in a very schoolmasterly style, was always deductive and operated with a central thesis, and was combined with a flood of personal insults against Bauer, saying that he was a ‘eunuch’ who had ‘neutered historical materialism’, and so on.[73]

Moreover, some parts of the Union of Struggle’s policy showed a national narrow-mindedness. For instance, Frey forced the Political Bureau to agree to his opposition to sending members as military volunteers to Spain; and when a part of his leadership wanted to refer this to the ILO, he openly declared that he would refuse to do this, even if it had its headquarters in Vienna itself.[74] By taking advantage of Frey’s personal connections from his early days as the chairman of the Vienna Soldiers’ Soviet, the Union of Struggle gained control over a district organisation of the former Social Democratic Defence Corps in Vienna. But the Communists, who by this time had gained control over the central Defence Corps organisation, strongly condemned the Trotskyists, and called for the ‘purging the labour movement of the Trotskyite poison’.[75] The district organisation controlled by the Union of Struggle was completely isolated from the rest of the Defence Corps, and was finally disbanded by being merged with the city leadership of the Defence Corps, which was dominated by Communists, who declared in a circular to all branches that ‘Trotskyite counter-revolutionary elements’ had been expelled because of their ‘parasitic means of work’.[76] Nonetheless, as a consequence of their work, the Union of Struggle won at least 30 or 40 new members, and raised its membership to about 80 militants.

Trotsky summed up after 12 February 1934: ‘It is a very sad but, nevertheless, invaluable lesson. It must be said now openly: ever since the beginning of the crisis in the Austrian [Communist] Party, it was a supreme duty of our friends to enter the Austro-Marxist Party, to prepare within it the revolutionary current.’[77] This statement implied a political turn, something which was quite unacceptable to Frey and his supporters.[78] However, following Trotsky was no problem for the Bolshevik-Leninists, because it merely meant continuing their work amongst rank-and-file Social Democrats before they were driven underground. The only significant difference was that, following the so-called ‘French Turn’[79] towards ‘entrism’, the Bolshevik-Leninists now became official members of the Revolutionary Socialists. Through their ‘entrist’ activities, they could widen their membership through recruiting from an intellectual group around Therese Schlesinger (1863-1940).[80] At the highest point of their organisational development, the Bolshevik-Leninists recruited the leader of an district organisation in Vienna, Ernst Federn (born 1914, nom de guerre ‘Konrad’), and afterwards distributed Unser Wort (Our Word), the periodical of the German Trotskyists, together with the publications issued by the Revolutionary Socialists. There is every reason to believe that the handing over to the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Socialists by the Austrian Communists of a list of names of so-called Trotskyists in the Social Democratic organisation was a deliberate attempt to disrupt the activities of the Bolsheviks-Leninists.[81]

Another Trotskyist group appeared as a result of the Comintern’s turn to the People’s Front policy. Members of the Kommunistischer Jugendverband (Communist Youth) refused to follow the new line, which they felt was a political strategy that had only recently been condemned as a Social Democratic betrayal. First of all, in response to the Stalin-Laval declaration, they formed the clandestine Linksfraktion (Left Faction). At the end of 1935, they formed an independent group, the Revolutionäre Kommunisten (Revolutionary Communists),[82] publishing the monthly Bolschewik (Bolshevik). The leaders of this new organisation were Josef Hindels (1916-1990),[83] Georg Scheuer (1914-1996)[84] and later Karl Fischer (1918-1963). The Revolutionary Communists at first contacted Peter Strasser (1917-1962), son of Joseph and Isa Strasser, who guided the illegal Revolutionär-Sozialistische Jugend (Revolutionary Socialist Youth), who invited them to join this Social Democratic group, an offer which was rejected by the overwhelming majority of the Revolutionary Communists.[85] The Revolutionary Communists then established contacts with the Bolshevik-Leninists via exile groups in Paris. They originally proposed that the Revolutionary Communists should become the youth organisation of the Bolshevik-Leninists, but negotiations between the two groups were unsuccessful. The differences between the two organisations probably originated in the Revolutionary Communists’ lively ultra-left tradition. They firmly insisted on Lenin’s concept of revolutionary defeatism — that the enemy is always in one’s own country, and that one must fight for the defeat of one’s own country, even if that country was allied with the Soviet Union.

In a very short while, the Revolutionary Communists’ leaders built up a clandestine group within the rank and file of the illegal Communist Youth. Their network included two whole district organisations in Vienna, and various other Communist Youth groups invited representatives of the Revolutionary Communists to address them. They successfully displaced the leadership of the Austrian Communists in exile in Prague. At first the Communist leaders started a smear campaign in their newspapers, prohibited on pain of expulsion any discussion, and expelled oppositionists without warning. They subsequently spread the rumour that the Revolutionary Communists were police agents. Finally, they used the legal names of the oppositionists in public confrontations, with the clear intention of making them known to the police.[86]

In 1936, the Vienna police ‘discovered’, as it was reported in the trial proceedings, the names of the cadres and active sympathisers of both the Bolsheviks-Leninists and the Revolutionary Communists. A first wave of arrests in March picked up Adolf Ausmann (1893-?), Ernst Federn, Gustav Gronich and Franz Pavelka. A second wave in the autumn picked up Ludwig Auinger (1906-?), Karl Fischer, Berthold Grad (1898-1978), Anton Hochrainer (1918-?), Franz Mayer (1911-?), Friedrich Niescher (1913-1984) and Johann Schöffmann (1895-1988).[87] During the first trial, the defendants openly confessed their convictions. For example, following a report in the Austro-fascist press, Scheuer declared: ‘I was disappointed with the Third International, as it no longer represented the interest of the proletariat. I then became acquainted with the methods and goals of Trotsky’s Fourth International. I joined this movement.’ Asked by the judge whether he understood what the accusation of ‘high treason’ meant, the unemployed silver-cleaner Auinger answered: ‘Everybody doing illegal work has to be aware that he is working to overthrow the government. If this is high treason, then every illegal activist is guilty of high treason.’[88] The judge sentenced most of the Trotskyists to between 14 month and two years. But the Department of Public Prosecution appealed against these judgements, and the higher court imposed a five-year sentence on them all for ‘high treason’. After being sentenced, the jailed Trotskyist formulated the Aufruf aus dem Wiener Gefängnis (Proclamation From a Viennese Jail)[89] and went on a hunger strike to protest against the fascists’ class justice, but to little avail. The minor Karl Fischer was permitted to serve his sentence with his comrades, rather than in a youth penal institution. Unimpressed by all these events, most of which were reported in the Austro-fascist press,[90] the newspaper of the Communist Youth declared that the principal defendant Johann Schöffmann was ‘nothing but a Gestapo agent’, who ‘in his rôle as a Trotskyist’ spied on the workers movement.[91]

This trial drastically reduced the activities of both the Bolshevik-Leninists and the Revolutionary Communists.[92] Nevertheless, a new group of oppositionists emerged within the Young Communists. The immediate cause for the rise of the new opposition was a turn of the KPÖ on the national question. Until 1937, most inhabitants of Austria considered themselves Germans. The state was founded under the name of Deutsch-Österreich (German-Austria), and after the negotiations between Hitler and Schuschnigg on 11 July 1936, Austria had again officially acknowledged itself as ‘a German state’. A year later, on the command of the party’s Political Bureau, Alfred Klahr (1904-1944) published in the party’s theoretical periodical Weg und Ziel (Road and Goal) his thesis that posited the idea of a separate Austrian nation. The intention of this thesis was to build an ideological framework for the politics of the Popular and subsequent National Fronts.[93] Resistance to Hitler was to be defined as a national liberation movement against the oppressive policies imposed by these foreign Germans. This new orientation was a sharp break not only with the general Austrian understanding of the national question, but also with the whole Marxist tradition. The ‘deviationists’, mostly militants from the Communist Youth and the Rote Studenten (Red Students), organised a clandestine faction and published a periodical Ziel und Weg (Goal and Road).[94] With the expulsion of all known members of the Ziel-und-Weg-Gruppe (Goal-and-Road Group) as ‘Trotskyists’ and ‘fascists’,[95] the national question was solved within the KPÖ. In reality, this group had nothing to do with ‘Trotskyism’ at all, because those expelled formed a group linked with the so-called Berliner Opposition (Berlin Opposition) led by Karl Volk.[96]

The Nazi Regime (1938-45)

On 11 February 1938, Schuschnigg left Austria to meet Hitler in Berchtesgaden. It was a desperate attempt to reach an agreement with the Führer. It was out of the question that Schuschnigg would make any concessions to the representatives of the illegal workers’ movement. Even as the German invasion took place, he refused to legalise any Social Democratic, Communist or trade union organisations. He followed his class instinct, that the National Socialists were the lesser evil, even when this decision meant that he and some of his followers would spend time in German jails and concentration camps.

On 9 March 1938, Schuschnigg announced that a plebiscite would be held on 13 March around the question of an Austria ‘free and German, independent and social, Christian and united’. This formulation made no concessions to either the Social Democrats or the Communists. It could only be interpreted as a choice between Austro-fascism and Nazi fascism. The reactions of the various working-class political tendencies to this ultimatum differed.

The last party conference of the Revolutionary Socialists drew up a programme of the very minimum of liberties that would be necessary to ensure the allegiance of the workers to the Austrian state. The Revolutionary Socialists called on all Austrians to vote for Schuschnigg’s referendum, not as a sign of support for him and his regime, but as a sign for a free Austria and for the defence of the country against Hitler: ‘The thirteenth of March is not the day for settling accounts with the Austro-fascists; 13 March is for the Socialists a day on which they will proclaim their strong hostility towards Hitlerite fascism.’ This position marked a modification of their political line; in July 1936 the Revolutionary Socialists had issued the slogan: ‘Down with Schuschnigg, the handmaiden of Hitler!’

The KPÖ’s Central Committee in Prague was even ready to accept blindly the continuance of the weak Austro-fascist regime because of the appalling danger that the Nazis posed. During the night of 12-13 March, the KPÖ’s leaders issued a proclamation headlined ‘People of Austria! Show Resistance! Raise the Battle-Cry: Red-White-Red Until Death!’[97] The slogan of ‘Red-White-Red Until Death!’ was previously only ever used by the Austro-fascists. This, too, marked a change in line. The signing of the agreement between Schuschnigg and Hitler in July 1936 had seen the Rote Fahne declare: ‘We will save Austria from betrayal and catastrophe by fighting against the handful of disastrous adventurers and politicians in the authoritarian government, the Heimwehr bands, the Nazis, and the supporters of the Habsburgs.’

Not long before Schuschnigg’s plebiscite, Trotsky had published an interview under the title of ‘Should the Austrian Workers Defend the “Independence” of Austria?’ He declared:

First of all, the so-called independence of Austria is a lie. In reality Austria is a vassal of Italian imperialism. When the Revolutionary Socialists and the CP scream at the top of their lungs about the ‘independence’ of Austria, that only indicates their effort to protect Austria from Anschluß [Union with Germany] and to make it into a vassal of the no-less imperialist bloc of France and the Little Entente, which is allied with the Soviet Union. Their entire policy proceeds from the idea: The main enemy of both the Austrian and the Russian workers is Hitler. Therefore the first task is to strike at Hitler. For this reason it is necessary to ally the proletariat with all the ‘anti-fascist forces’, under which shamefaced name the ‘democratic’ bourgeoisie inside and outside of Austria are included. This alliance, naturally, is possible only with the complete deferment of the class struggle. On any other basis an alliance between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is inconceivable… Our path is quite different. We proceed from the opinion that war puts the question of fighting for power before the workers perhaps even more sharply than the economic crisis. One must use the war to unchain the proletarian revolution in all countries. But that is possible only through the sharpest opposition and struggle against the power conducting the war.

Trotsky warned of the logical consequences of the Comintern’s policy: ‘All these formulae — “struggle of the democracies”, “friend of peace”, “anti-fascist alliance”, etc — are nothing but ideological cloaks. If fascist Italy decides to fight on the side of France, these people will begin to distinguish between a “constructive” and a “destructive” fascism.’ He repeated: ‘The only certain aid for the Soviet Union is the victory of the revolution in the capitalist countries, no matter what their political regime and foreign policy may be.’

Asked whether there ‘was not a danger that Hitler would swallow all Austria, Trotsky answered: ‘Politics, especially revolutionary politics, is inconceivable without danger.’ He cited Lenin’s letter of 20 August 1918 to American workers — ‘A real Socialist would not fail to understand that for the sake of achieving victory over the bourgeoisie, for the sake of power passing to the workers, for the sake of starting the world proletarian revolution, we cannot and must not hesitate to make the heaviest sacrifices, including the sacrifice of part of our territory, the sacrifice of heavy defeats at the hands of imperialism.’ — and continued: ‘If there is a way to defend oneself against Hitler in Austria, it is by striking at one’s own bourgeoisie. The politics of the “lesser evil” leads only to the greatest evil.’ He called on revolutionaries in Austria to ‘combine the struggle against Schuschnigg with the struggle against the Nazis’, without participating ‘in the independence swindle’. Trotsky wanted to ‘discuss another time’ how this would be realised in practice, but this did not happen.[98]

The practical consequences of Trotsky’s article were put on the agenda in March 1938. Should one vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ in the plebiscite? The Trotskyist organisations in Austria proposed different answers to this question.

The Union for Struggle for the Liberation of Working Class, headed by Joseph Frey, supported the Communists and Social Democrats in their fight for the restoration of capitalist democracy.[99] An internal circular from the Political Bureau instructed the members to vote ‘Yes’ without stopping for one moment their principal propaganda against Austro-fascism and every capitalist state. Soon after the Anschluß, this organisation criticised the behaviour of the Communists and Revolutionary Socialists:

These traitors’ parties… made demands of Schuschnigg, scaring him with the bogey of the proletarian revolution. The traitors made demands, and yet when Schuschnigg did not voluntarily accede to them, they gave up without a fight… Since when was Schuschnigg a better sort of fascist than Hitler?[100]

The Bolsheviks-Leninists also called for a ‘Yes’ vote. A mere vote, they declared, would, however, be insufficient. It was necessary to demand political rights, the freeing of political prisoners, and the immediate arming of the workers.[101]

The leadership of the Revolutionary Communists arrived at the opposite conclusion, and published a leaflet recommending a ‘No’ vote. A tendency within the group also wished to publish a harsh criticism of the positions of the Communists and Social Democrats, and to call for a general strike.

These activities were forestalled on 11 March 1938, when the Nazis demanded the postponement of the plebiscite and Schuschnigg’s resignation. The Austrian Chancellor capitulated and declared that ‘in these dire times’ he was not prepared to see German blood shed, and instructed the Austrian armed forces to withdraw without offering resistance if any invasion took place. A Nazi puppet government held office for a few hours. In the night of 12-13 March, German troops invaded Austria without meeting resistance, and occupied the whole country within less than 48 hours.[102] The Union of Struggle’s Arbeitermacht commented: ‘The great robber has devoured the small robber, of whom nothing will be left except as an increase in the weight of the former.’[103]

Hitler promptly called for another plebiscite in favour of the Anschluß, which was held on 10 April 1938, and recorded a vote of more than 99 per cent for Groß-Deutschland (Greater Germany). Although voting in the plebiscite was not secret, because there were many Nazi henchmen in the voting halls forcing the voters to cast their ballots openly, the result was not meaningless, especially when it is considered in relation to the fact that Hitler’s native country had a higher per capita rate of Nazi party members than any part of Germany, and many of the worst Nazi crimes in the following years, particularly in the Balkans, were committed by SS divisions from Austria. But apart from historical causes, the fulfilment of a dream of national identity going back past 1918 to 1848, what caused thousands of Austrians to welcome enthusiastically the annexation with the cry of ‘Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!’ (‘One people, one Reich, one Führer!’)? Since 1934, the majority of workers had considered the regimes of Dollfuss and Schuschnigg to be their main enemy. The Nazis had remained neutral during the rebellion of the Social Democratic Defence Corps on 12 February 1934, and had subsequently made great efforts to win the rebellion’s fighters to their party; for example they gave a welcome to the commander who had called for resistance to the police searches for weapons in Linz when he escaped from jail.[104] The Nazis and the workers’ organisations had both been banned by the Austro-fascists, and ‘brown’ and ‘red’ prisoners lived together in the regime’s jails and concentration camps. The rate of unemployment in Hitler’s Germany was much lower than in Austria, which stood at 22 per cent before the Anschluß, partly because of the measures the German government introduced to kill the tourist trade in Austria (the ‘Thousand Mark Limit’). The Nazis did not fail to use this as argument for their — occasionally radical — agitation, and the post-Anschluß work enforcement regulations reduced the unemployment rate to 13 per cent by the end of 1938. Moreover, every Austrian Nazi who threw a small bomb on the street received 20 shillings, and if he was arrested he received six shillings for each day he was in custody — twice the highest rate of unemployment benefit.

Amidst the growing confusion around the Anschluß, the cadres of the illegal workers’ movement attempted to prepare themselves for the radical changes in the conduct of underground work that were necessary to deal with the Nazis’ reign of terror in Austria.[105] Before dawn on 12 March 1938, Heinrich Himmler, the head of both the SS and the police department of the German Ministry of Interior, and a hand-picked group of men from the SS and the Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service) landed at an aerodrome near Vienna. One of Himmler’s first decrees concerned the organisation of the Gestapo. In contrast with the Austro-fascist police, the new Gestapo had had great experience with underground work, and could count not only on assistance of Verbindungsleuten (liaison agents; that is, informers), but also on mass support from the population. Cautiously, the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Socialists ordered all party members to stop all illegal activity, not that this prevented the Gestapo from arresting most of the illegal Social Democrats who were known to the police. This mass repression destroyed their organisation. In the absence of a tangible, centrally-run organisation, a number of loosely aligned groups of like-minded activists emerged. The repression against the KPÖ was even harder. But again and again, the illegal cadres — sometimes with the help of emissaries sent by the émigré leadership — built a new centralised organisation. Each of these heroic efforts ended with new mass arrests by the Gestapo, leading to torture, trials before the Volksgerichtshof (People’s Court), deportation to concentration camps and executions…

Of the Trotskyist organisations existing before the Nazi invasion, the Bolshevik-Leninists were within months completely dissolved by emigration and deportation to concentration camps. Ernst Federn, their most important militant in Austria, was arrested together with his girlfriend during a police round-up of Trotskyists on 14 March 1936, when he entered a tobacconist’s shop to meet a contact. The authorities could not prove anything against them, and they were released. But Federn was deprived of his passport and his right to study at the university. Well known to the Austrian police, he was arrested by the invading Germans, who incarcerated him in a concentration camp. From 24 May 1938, he was held in Dachau, and thereafter in Buchenwald. His survival until the fall of Hitler’s Germany was a real miracle, because although he was only 23 when arrested, in rude health and with an excellent constitution, the Communists in Buchenwald, who controlled the internal administration of the prisoners, ‘step by step eliminated their political enemies, first with small intrigues and then with sweeping strokes. Sometimes they used the SS, who were pawns in their game.’[106] The exiled Austrian Bolshevik-Leninists formed a separate section of the Internationale Kommunisten Deutschlands (International Communists of Germany), which through mass emigration to America and the demoralisation of many members had become an almost phantom organisation.

In the beginning, the central figure of the Revolutionary Communists was the February-fighter Gustav Gronich. In March, he stole a Sturmabteilung (Storm Trooper) officer’s uniform, together with an identity card, from the balcony of a house, where it was being prepared for a parade to honour Hitler. During the day with no government, this uniform enabled Gronich to ‘confiscate’ items from shops that would be useful for the illegal organisation, declaring that he was following Nazi orders, and that the goods would be paid for over the next few days. Until the summer, he marched in this uniform from one district of Vienna to another, rebuilding the organisation. The game was over when he was denounced by a Nazi janitor whilst trying to conceal the Revolutionary Communists’ books. The examining Gestapo agent was astonished by the chutzpah of this Jew, who dared to act as an SA officer instead of wearing his yellow star. Under such circumstances, a trial on the grounds of ‘Mißbrauch des Ehrenkleides’ (‘misuse of clothes of honour’) was unthinkable. Gronich was sentenced to five years in Dachau, and he was later moved to Buchenwald. Franz Lederer, a former leader of the Vienna branch of the left-wing Zionist Hashomer Hatzair, now a soldier and a determined conspirator, took over Gronich’s functions. He enabled the Revolutionary Communists to maintain some semblance of organisation in the country. But the pogrom-like excesses against Austria’s 200 000 Jews soon became increasingly harsh. Discriminatory legislation was promptly passed, depriving Jewish citizens of their civil rights. The reunification of Austria with the Groß-Deutschland meant that the laws and decrees discriminating against Jews which had been introduced in Germany over a five-year period came into effect in Austria within six months. The latent anti-Semitism of a great part of the population erupted most ferociously on the Reichskristallnacht (Crystal Night) of 9-10 November 1938. It became impossible for Jews like Franz Lederer to continue to carry out illegal political work, and he fled to Antwerp. His departure ended the organisational life of the Revolutionary Communists in the Ost-Mark (East Mark).

Since the days of the trials of the Trotskyists in 1937, the Revolutionary Communists maintained a politisches Auslandszentrum (political foreign centre) in Prague. In fact, it consisted merely of Josef Hindels (code-name ‘Bruno’), who had escaped to Czechoslovakia from a police round-up. Together with Trotsky’s secretary Jan Frankel (code-name ‘Werner’) from the International Secretariat of the Movement for the Fourth International, Alois Neurath (1886-1952)[107] from the International Communists of Czechoslovakia and comrades from the Marxist Action of Switzerland, he helped to publish a newspaper called Der einzige Weg (The Only Way).[108] His duty was also to direct the theoretical training of the group and to smuggle Der einzige Weg and other literature from the movement over the borders to the comrades in Vienna. Financial support was given to Hindels by a group of well-to-do Jewish left-wing intellectuals from Reichenberg and Prague who sympathised with the Trotskyist movement.

In February 1938, the jailed Revolutionary Communists had managed to leave prison by taking advantage of an amnesty conceded by Schuschnigg under pressure from Hitler, who was demanding the release of jailed Austrian Nazis. Afterwards, all members who were known to the police due to surveillance or their being Jews were ordered to leave the country as soon as possible. Georg Scheuer travelled by bus to Znaim in Czechoslovakia on 11 March 1938, shortly before the borders were closed. He then travelled to Prague, where he met Hindels. From now on they formed the ‘foreign political centre’ of the Revolutionary Communists until it became increasingly clear that the imperialist ‘peace’ at Munich made the complete destruction of Czechoslovakia by Hitler’s armies a distinct possibility. Hindels and 14 other comrades wrote a joint letter to Trotsky, urgently requesting help. Frankel strongly supported Hindels’ petition, knowing that he was in danger. But Trotsky’s attempts to obtain entry visas to Mexico failed,[109] and Hindels fled to Scandinavia.

Fortunately Scheuer obtained a visa from Switzerland, and then a ‘Visa sans art’, which enabled him to travel to Strasbourg. Here he met Karl Fischer, who had reached there by climbing the mountains between Austria and Switzerland, and between Switzerland and France. They were invited to take part as ‘delegates of the Austrian section’[110] in a conference of the Movement for the Fourth International. When they arrived at Alfred Rosmer’s house, the conference had already started. Fischer and Scheuer later presumed that their invitation had been delayed because of their dissenting opinions, which had come to the attention of the true followers of Trotsky. The conflict between the Revolutionary Communists and Trotsky had started when he outlined before the Dewey Commission his differing tactics in different countries in the case of war: ‘In Germany and Japan, I would apply military methods as far as I am able to fight, oppose and injure the machinery… In France, it is a political opposition against the bourgeoisie, and the preparation of the proletarian revolution.’[111] For the Revolutionary Communists, this differentiation meant renouncing revolutionary defeatism, and the Austrians wanted to impart this to the delegates, but the conference chairman ‘Etienne’ — Marc Zborovski, who was later exposed as a GPU agent — declared that they were young persons who were only there to attend the youth conference that was to be held after the founding of the Fourth International.[112]

The Revolutionary Communists then changed their name, firstly to Revolutionäre Kommunisten Deutschlands (Revolutionary Communists of Germany), and secondly to Revolutionäre Kommunisten/Communistes révolutionnaires without any national attributes. This change signified their ideological independence from the Trotskyists. Together with comrades who were driven one by one into exile, and in cooperation with oppositionists from the Trotskyist rank and file in Belgium, France and Switzerland, in the short time before the Second World War Fischer and Scheuer laid the foundations for work on an international basis, and starting publishing Bulletin Oppositionnel in 1939. During the war various other periodicals were published, Junius-Briefe (Junius Letters),[113] Der Marxist, Vierte Kommunistische Internationale (Fourth Communist International),[114] Spartakus, Rassemblement Communiste Revolutionnaire (Union of Revolutionary Communists) and Fraternization Proletarienne (Proletarian Fraternisation).[115] Scheuer cooperated with Albert Demazière’s newspaper Etincelle (Spark) in Marseilles, with Marc Paillet’s Front ouvrier (Workers Front) in Tolouse, and Jean Rous’ Franc-Tireur (Resistance) in Lyons.

Until July 1941, most of the Austrian exiles lived in Monatauban in occupied France, operating more or less openly. After that date, they went into clandestinity. In November 1940 and December 1943, the Revolutionary Communists organised clandestine conferences in southern France. Their differences with Trotskyism increasingly sharpened until they were defending openly ultra-left positions. They thus retrospectively and violently criticised the Left Opposition’s pre-1933 position of reforming the Comintern and the entrist tactic, and they now considered the USSR to be a capitalist state which should no longer be defended by the workers.

Although the Revolutionary Communists were skilled at clandestine work, and showed great courage when, disguised as Gestapo agents, they rescued one female comrade — Melanie Berger (born 1921) — from the Baumettes jail in Marseilles, the actual Gestapo and the Vichy police seriously depleted their militants. In 1943, Iganz Duhl (born 1918) was arrested by the Gestapo and killed. In the same year, Edith Kramer (born 1918) fell into the Gestapo’s hands in Valence, was sentenced to death, but was liberated by the resistance movement. Franz Lederer (born 1915), a leading militant of the organisation in Vienna and until the outbreak of the war leader of the Mateotti Committee, a relief organisation of the Revolutionary Socialists in Antwerp, died in 1941 whilst fleeing through southern France. In 1942, Arthur Streicher (born 1917) was arrested at the French border, deported and killed. On 16 June 1944, the Gestapo took Karl Fischer into custody in Paris and deported him to Buchenwald concentration camp, where together with Marcel Beaufrère and Florent Galloy (members of the French and Belgium sections) and Ernst Federn he wrote the impressive Erklärung der Trotzkisten von Buchenwald (Declaration of the Trotskyists of Buchenwald):

All theories and illusions about a ‘people’s state’ or a ‘people’s democracy’ have led the working class during their struggles in the capitalist societies into bloody defeats. Only an intransigent fight against the capitalist state until its exhaustion and the foundation of a state based on workers’ and peasants’ soviets can prevent new defeats of this sort… For a victorious outcome in the approaching class battles, the German working class must fight for the following demands:

  • Freedom of organisation, assembly and press!
  • Freedom of association and the restitution of all the social gains won before 1933!
  • Elimination of all fascist organisations!
  • Confiscation of their property for the benefit of the victims of fascism!
  • Trials of all fascist state officials by freely-elected people’s courts!
  • Dissolution of the Wehrmacht, and its replacement by a workers’ militia!
  • Immediate free elections of workers’ and peasants’ soviets in the whole of Germany, and the convocation of a soviet congress!
  • The expropriation of the banks, heavy industry and extensive landed property!
  • Control of production by the trade unions and workers’ soviets!
  • Not one man and not one penny for the war and reparation debts of the bourgeoisie!
  • The bourgeoisie has to pay!
  • For a socialist revolution in the whole of Germany, against the dismemberment of the country!
  • For revolutionary fraternisation between the workers and the occupation troops!
  • For a soviet Germany in a soviet Europe!
  • For a proletarian world revolution![116]

During this period, the only Trotskyist organisation in the Ost-Mark which had survived police raids after the Anschluß, the Union of Struggle, was disrupted by internal dissension. A permanent crisis had ensued after Frey rejected the existing policy of revolutionary defeatism[117] in favour of the kombinierte Kriegstaktik (combined war tactic), which in many details resembled Otto Bauer’s concept of the jakobinischen Kriegsführung (Jacobean warfare).[118] Although Frey threw his whole authority into this turn, he and his close supporters found themselves faced with several successive oppositions within their own ranks. In May 1938, all those who refused to adopt the new line were expelled, and the reduced organisation emphasised once again the ‘combined war tactic’. For security reasons (he was detained for a few weeks by the Nazis) and because of his Jewish origins, Frey thereafter emigrated to Switzerland,[119] and from exile maintained his position as the Union’s leading figure. He wrote and managed to smuggle several publications to his comrades in Austria. These included a new pamphlet on the war tactic[120] and a critique of Otto Bauer’s book Die Illegale Partei (The Illegal Party).[121] In May 1940, he also published a résumé of his position in favour of supporting those powers allied to the USSR — after the experience of the Hitler-Stalin Pact![122] But by now an overwhelming majority of the Union was convinced that the abandonment of the position of revolutionary defeatism was a severe error, and virtually all of its leading members left the organisation to join one or another of the groups which had been formed since May 1938 outside the Union, which all unconditionally rejected the idea of national defence.[123]

The first of these new groups to appear in the Austrian underground was the Proletarische Revolutionäre (Proletarian Revolutionaries), which was established in 1939 by former members of the Bolshevik-Leninists and the Revolutionary Communists, and militants of the Union of Struggle who were in disagreement with Frey on the issue of the war. It published a newspaper called Iskra,[124] named after the periodical which Lenin had edited early in the century.

Soon afterwards a group called Gegen den Strom (Against the Current) appeared, which issued a periodical of the same name. The group adopted a ‘neutral’ position during the Finish-Soviet war in 1939-40, and rejected the orthodox Trotskyist analysis of the Soviet Union as a degenerated workers’ state in favour of the formula of a ‘petit-bourgeois state’.

The third underground Trotskyist faction to appear was the Proletarischen Internationalisten (Proletarian Internationalists). In March 1939, they published a review, Der Vorbote (The Precursor), which in May 1940 became Der Vorposten (The Outpost).[125] In contrast with the other Trotskyist organisations, whose orientation was towards a German revolution, this group made some concessions in respect of the restoration of an independent Austria, which was proclaimed by the Allies as one of their war aims in their declaration on 1 November 1943. The Proletarian Internationalists declared: ‘We will not put the question of the independence of Austria to the fore, but we are prepared to inform the workers that it could be an important factor in the future.’[126]

Furthermore, under the intellectual leadership of Franz Modlik (1902-1986), the Proletarian Internationalists developed into a focus for reunification. As early as 1940, it drew in a split from the Union of Struggle. They were followed by Frey’s group at the beginning of 1943. In April 1943, a Gestapo raid choked off this process. Through the machinations of a police spy, the major leader of the Against the Stream group, Joseph Jakobovits (1916-1943), was arrested by the Gestapo. Although from the moment of his arrest he did everything possible to protect the organisation — for instance, when being observed by the Gestapo during a meeting with a comrade, he ensured that the police followed only himself — a number of other militants were picked up soon afterwards. In a subsequent trial before the Volksgerichtshof, Jakobovits and Franz Kascha[127] (1907-1944) were sentenced to death, and were executed soon afterwards. Five other members of the group received long jail sentences: Maria Fischer (Karl’s mother, 1897-1962),[128] Paula Binder (1913-?),[129] Leopold Kascha (1908-1957),[130] Johann Putz (1915-?)[131] and Ludwig Weseli (1886-?).[132]

This Gestapo raid led to the complete cessation of the propaganda activities of the Trotskyist groups, as it now proved impossible to publish anything. From now on, the Trotskyists could keep their revolutionary convictions alive only in realm of theory, while waiting and preparing for the deeds of tomorrow, when the hour should strike for action. They were convinced that they would come to power, and that the revolution would inevitably go far beyond what was accomplished in 1918. In this situation of waiting and preparation, the Trotskyist organisations formed something like a closed system of communicating groups (System kommunizierender Gefäße). This isolation helped to protect them, and yet it was simultaneously an obstacle. It reduced to a strict minimum the possibilities of the Gestapo tracing and infiltrating the groups, indeed, the Nazi police ceased trying after several vain efforts to do so; but their existence as a circle engendered a spirit of narrow-minded sufficiency among some members, which lasted for years. Nevertheless, meetings of the cells and training of militants took place. Little was changed in regard to their practical activities. As before, Trotskyist militants helped to sabotage the German war effort in the factories, administration and the Reichswehr.[133] One comrade gave conscripted Trotskyist injections of water and benzene, so that they were classified as unfit for military service.[134] When the conscription of comrades could not be avoided in this way, the leadership arranged a code system, which made it possible for cadres to inform the organisation about the military situation, the morale of the soldiers and so on…

The Gestapo’s raid did not prevent the process of unification from taking place. New unification meetings were organised in the Radetzky Kaserne (Radetzky Barracks), where a cell of Trotskyists not only existed but published an illegal newspaper for the soldiers, and where resistance fighters from other groups were active. The company commander was a former follower of the Christian-Social Party, the sergeant was a Social Democrat, the corporal was a Communist, and a monarchist was responsible for rifle training.[135] After a long period of discussion, at the beginning of 1944 the Proletarian Revolutionaries unified with the Proletarian Internationalists to a new organisation called the Karl-Liebknecht-Bund — Internationale Kommunisten (Karl Liebknecht Union — International Communists). After this process of unification, the Trotskyists were the only organisation of the Austrian illegal workers’ movement of the period which had a coherent and firm political structure. Even the KPÖ, despite its incomparably greater financial resources and techniques, no longer had a functioning central organisation, and its members worked individually in resistance circles. From January 1945, the Karl Liebknecht Union published a periodical Der Spartakist,[136] thus breaking their isolation for the first time since the Gestapo raid. The first number was dedicated to events in Greece. One reason for this was probably because Greece was seen as a test for the behaviour of the Allies after the Second World War. When British troops landed in Greece, they found the Communist-led partisans in virtual control of the country. Churchill was therefore anticipating a civil war, and was preparing for it, while Stalin effectively declared that he not interested in the fate of the Greek left. When in December 1944 the civil war broke out in Greece, the Soviet press and radio had nary a word to say about it. Another reason for choosing this theme was perhaps connected with the hope that the wartime resistance would now develop into a mass phenomenon. This was the same hope which encouraged Communist cadres dropped by parachute from 1942 to became active in various mountainous regions of Austria. These hopes were in vain. If anything, the Austrian Germans were still more loyal to Hitler than the Germans in the old ‘Reich’, and far from swimming like fishes in water, the partisans were mostly denounced and executed. The only effective group of the partisans was by far the group of Carinthian Slovenes who fought alongside Tito’s partisans, and who could count on the support of the Slovenes.

After the Soviet armies had fought their way into Austria from the East, and the British and US forces had closed in from the south and west respectively, the liberation of all Austrian territory was completed by 27 April 1945. Simultaneously with this ‘liberation’, a Provisional Government was set up under Chancellor Karl Renner. This government, which included seven Communists, was at first recognised by the Russians. The country was to be divided into four zones of occupation. As for Vienna, where all the members of the Karl Liebknecht Union were concentrated, the four powers were each allocated a sector of the destroyed city. In contrast with the Russian zone, there was no real government with any power in the American zone immediately after liberation — the Austrian flag was banned together with the swastika, and all political activity was forbidden. The food situation was incredibly bad — when at last a rationing scheme could be worked out, the daily ration dwindled by 31 May 1945 to a precarious 350 calories. Yet despite the misery and material hardships, the Karl Liebknecht Union believed in a great future. It was no longer their duty to discuss theoretical views in innumerable, long-winded theses for weeks and months on end. In a short time, they would find themselves on the top of a revolutionary wave. History would offer them a repeat of 1918!

Immediately after the liberation of Vienna, the Karl Liebknecht Union published ‘Thesen zum 10 April 1945’ (‘Thesis of 10 April 1945’).[137] It acknowledged that the liberation had been carried out above all by the Red Army, and it was foreseen that the Soviets would delegate their power to the Austrian bourgeoisie. Social Democrats and Communists were acting as a ‘plate-warmer’ for the surprised Austrian bourgeoisie. According to the Karl Liebknecht Union, their function was to restore the bureaucratic apparatus. Nevertheless, the Trotskyists’ hope was predicated upon the development of mass movements. Revolutionaries had to expect ‘defeatism, passivity and sabotage’ as the masses’ methods of fighting under the given objective conditions. One could not look upon ‘plundering as a consequence of the famine facing the masses’ with the eyes of ‘Philistines’, who ‘expect the idealised spectacle of chemically pure masses’. The situation was thus estimated as ‘pre-revolutionary’. The next historical period would bring a ‘rise of mass movements, of workers in the factories, women and proletarian youth’. International support would come through the partisan struggles in Greek, Italy and Yugoslavia, and the mass strikes in Britain and the United States, which were ‘mere precursors of future, far greater class struggles’. These new mass movements would enable the Trotskyists to built up a revolutionary party as a section of the new world party of revolution, which would be absolutely necessary for transforming the pre-revolutionary situation into a revolutionary one.[138] As a consequence, revolutionaries should do all they could to go beyond the limits of a ‘formal sect’. To reach this goal more quickly, the comrades of the Karl Liebknecht Union were to try to build factions within the Social Democratic and Communist Parties ‘to split revolutionary wings away from these traitors’ parties at the best possible moment’, in order to form the core of a new revolutionary party of Austria’s workers. It is striking that the theses are programmatically in accord with the declarations of the European Conference of the Fourth International, in spite of the fact that the Austrian Trotskyists had not at this point established any foreign contacts.

In this situation, the Karl Liebknecht Union decided that it should maintain its illegal status,[139] because the Soviet authorities in the territories under Russian occupation were hostile to the re-emergence of a Trotskyist movement, and even in the zones controlled by the Western Allies nobody was safe from the NKVD, as immediately after the liberation Communists were appointed Minister for the Interior and the Chief of the Austrian Political Police.[140] As during the Nazi period, the Trotskyists used a nudist club as a cover.[141] For the same purposes, in 1947 the Trotskyist militants resurrected the Arbeiter Samariter Bund (Workers Samaritan Organisation).[142] In spite of its illegal status, the Trotskyist organisation considered that it should support every real move by the Social Democrats and Communists that was in the interest of the workers. In the following years, certain forms of legal and semi-legal activity were often discussed, but were never put into practice. No doubt, the orientation towards deep illegality, which sometimes did not even recognise the difference between illegality under fascism and the political conditions of the Second Republic, was a permanent source of organisational, and therefore political, immobility.

In April 1945, the Karl Liebknecht Union proposed the following demands as priority programme:

  • Immediate economic assistance for the masses at the expense of the capitalist class.
  • The transfer of the costs and ravages of war to the capitalists.
  • The realisation of the democratic demands of the transitional programme.
  • The consolidation of positions gained by the masses, especially the nucleus of a workers’ and soldiers’ soviet.
  • The rejuvenation of the masses, encouragement of their activities and initiative, and the raising of their self-confidence and class consciousness.
  • A decisive fight against fascist and pro-fascist elements, based on a political line directed against the bourgeoisie as a whole.

The Second Republic

Immediately after the end of the war, the Karl Liebknecht Union made efforts to reconstruct and stabilise itself. A small technical apparatus and an archive were established. Political books, which had been hidden in the ground, were dug up. Two comrades ‘expropriated’ confiscated books from the bombed ruins of the former Gestapo headquarters on the Morzinplatz in the first district of Vienna, in order to complete the organisation’s library.[143] On 14-15 October 1945, the first meeting was held, electing a Political Bureau of seven persons and an organisational bureau,[144] discussing primarily fractional work. In this respect, clarity was an absolutely necessity, because some militants had entered the rank-and-file membership of the KPÖ without any consultation with the leadership. In the erroneous belief that the Communists would dominate the working class, it was decided to built up an oppositional wing within the party around a new factional newspaper, the Leninist, and to give critical support to the Communists in the forthcoming national elections. At the close of the conference, the participants were confronted by a statement of a comrade with the code-name of ‘Stephan Sirius’, who called into question not only the necessity of centralised structures, but also took the view that classes in the old sense no longer existed, and that the time for proletarian revolution had passed.

The consequences for the Trotskyists of the results of the first national elections held in November 1945 could be summed up in that old song ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’. The Christian-Social Party (now calling themselves the Österreichische Volkspartei — Austrian People’s Party) won 85 seats, the Social Democrats won 76, and the Communists won four (former Nazis were prohibited from voting). Austria remained a stronghold of reaction, unenlightened and blind to new social and political forces. Through their heroic illegal work, the Austrian Communists had gained cadres, but no electoral support. Moreover, they were rapidly compromising themselves in the eyes of the masses by unnecessarily associating with and defending the excesses of the Red Army. Despite the débâcle of 12 February 1934 and the liquidation of their illegal organisation during the Nazi era, the Social Democrats continued to dominate the working class. This forced the International Communists to change their orientation. They stopped their attempt to build up a faction in the KPÖ, and decided to enter the Social Democrats, supporting this project through the publication of an illegal newspaper called Der Sozialist (The Socialist).

Relations with the Fourth International were soon re-established through the good offices of a US war correspondent in Vienna who belonged to the Socialist Workers Party.[145] The International Secretariat immediately initiated a relief programme to give material support to the Austrian comrades, especially food, because it was nearly impossible to do any political work whilst spending all day searching for food on the black market.[146] The International Secretariat also called for the unification of all the existing groups in Austria claiming loyalty to Trotskyism, without insisting upon any ideological agreement on central positions. Unification was soon achieved, when the surviving elements of the Union of Combat and the Against the Stream Group joined the Karl Liebknecht Union. The unified organisation was subsequently recognised by the Fourth International as the Austrian section of the world party. The Austrians were also offered a post on the International Secretariat. Impressed by the strength of the Karl Liebknecht Union in contrast with the German section, where only a few individuals (for instance Oskar Hippe, Georg Jungclas and Rudolf Segall) had survived the hell of Nazism, the International Executive Committee offered the Austrian section the opportunity to represent the German proletariat.[147] A conference on 30 November–1 December 1946 confirmed the reunification of the groups, with 17 delegates representing 194 militants (73 members, 54 candidates and 25 sympathisers). Fourteen members of the organisation were shop stewards, and most of the members were workers or former workers. The average age of the comrades was 37. The conference, which had to be halted several times because of the physical exhaustion of some participants, decided to rename the organisation the Internationale Kommunisten Österreichs (IKÖ — International Communists of Austria). It continued to publish Der Spartakist.[148]

Simultaneously, the delegates at this first conference of the Austrian Section of the Fourth International adopted — against the votes of the minority, that is, the former Union — a resolution to the Executive Committee, which demanded ‘against all ultra-left and rightist deviations within and outside the International… a far firmer and more resolute attitude, in order to safeguard the leading rôle of the revolutionary world party’. Special consideration was given to the following questions:

  • The class nature of Soviet Union. The IKÖ ‘rejected on principle the designation of the class nature of the Soviet Union as “state capitalist”, whoever may raise it’, along with the theory that had discovered that it was ‘a new social category, a new social formation’. The ‘only correct designation’ could be ‘a degenerated, most heavily degenerated, workers’ state’.
  • The independence of the revolutionary working-class party or its nucleus.
  • The definition of the Socialist and Labour parties and Stalinist parties as ‘workers’ parties’. The IKÖ’s resolution declared:

By their essence, that is, their character, from their point of departure, content and effect of their politics, the Socialist parties and Labour parties are of the bourgeois upper layer of the working class, bribed and corrupted by the bourgeoisie, and parasitic; whilst the Stalinist parties are the parties of the rapacious, parasitic bureaucracy of the first workers’ state… Their designation as workers’ parties, even if combined with correct criticism, hinders the process of clarification within the working class, creates the illusion (even heightened by a possible collective entry) about the possible regeneration of these parties and the consequent idea that a new independent class party is unnecessary, and would mean a split in the working class.

The Austrian delegates refused ‘to deal with the question of the independence of the revolutionary class party and class organisation from the standpoint of “tactics and expediency”’. They emphasised: ‘We consider this to be a question of principle.’

In the same resolution, the International Executive Committee of the Fourth International was exhorted to make ‘the slogan of the proletarian dictatorship’ the ‘primary central propaganda slogan of our struggle’, because this was a ‘point where the revolutionary party would distinguish itself from all opportunists and traitors’. For the same reasons, the slogan of the ‘Socialist United States of Europe’ was to be replaced by the ‘Socialist United Soviet Republics of Europe’: ‘Unlike the representative of the International Secretariat’, the IKÖ delegates declared at the end of their document, ‘we cannot consider the differences with it [the combined war tactic] as having purely historical significance.’[149]

In its reply, the International Secretariat of the Fourth International primarily dealt with the question of ‘entry’. It reminded the Austrians:

This question was fought out against the sectarians in the International almost 14 years ago. Your position was rejected by the overwhelming majority of the International. In reopening this question now, you add nothing new to the old dispute… You may convince individuals by carrying out propaganda work from the outside. But the task is to influence important sections of the working class, who learn in action and through their own experiences in action.

In connection with its support for so-called ‘unprincipled unification’, the International Secretariat declared:

As long as our revolutionary programme is not in danger of being overthrown in the party — as long as deviationist minorities accept discipline — we seek by means of organisational concessions to permit events themselves to aid in resolving differences, and in correcting deviations.

The demand after the slogan of the ‘Soviet Socialist United States of Europe’ was answered thus:

The problem is not to make it more radical in words, but more concrete in content, in our daily agitation… The same holds true for what you say about the ‘slogan’ of the dictatorship of the proletariat… Here also it is not a matter of using more ‘revolutionary’ language, but of concretising the aim in action, in struggle.[150]

After this rejection, the IKÖ’s leadership entered negotiations with the Marxistische Aktion der Schweiz (Marxist Action of Switzerland) about the possibilities of publicly launching a left-wing faction in the Fourth International on the basis of the thesis formulated against the International.[151] But the Swiss group’s concrete offer was rejected by the Austrians mostly on the grounds that the former held a too ‘pessimistic’ estimation of the situation in the International, and that they ‘evaded… a clear “Yes” or “No”’ in respect of Josef Frey’s so-called ‘combined war tactic’.[152] Thereafter the comrades in Switzerland decided ‘to defend openly and alone’ their ‘revolutionary standpoint’ within the International, with all the means at their disposal, ‘despite the sabotage of the International Secretariat and despite the obstacles placed in the way of a revolutionary clarification of the International by the International Secretariat, through the publication of large numbers of openly counter-revolutionary articles’.[153] The IKÖ’s leadership then started its own campaign ‘to bring the International back to the correct road’: ‘It is our task to show the comrades the correct road… firstly by telling them the truth.’[154]

In a letter to the Revolutionary Communist Party in Britain dated 6 October 1947, the IKÖ condemned the decision of the International Secretariat to create another section of the Fourth International in Britain as ‘contrary to the statutes’ and a ‘grave political mistake’. The letter not only blamed the RCP for ‘this harmful attitude’ but also the International Secretariat, because it believed that entry into the Labour Party was merely ‘a tactical question’.

In a statement to the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Parti Communiste Internationale, also dated 6 October 1947, the IKÖ informed them:

We have been following up, with growing anxiety, a development which seems to be developing in your ranks, which finds more and more expressions in the columns of La Vérité and which, in the last resort, is responsible for the fact that, in spite of all the efforts and the devotion of its fighters, the PCI, instead of progressing organisationally, is actually stagnating, and even suffering setbacks.

The IKÖ offered an easy solution: ‘The main evil lies in the fact that in its press, its documents and its language, the PCI has completely abandoned the propagation of revolutionary slogans and ultimate aims.’

In a letter, again dated 6 October 1947, the IKÖ rejected the orientation of the leadership of the US Socialist Workers Party towards a unification with Max Shachtman’s group:

The Workers Party is not a Trotskyist party. Trotskyism possesses a very sharp, pronounced political physiognomy; it is in fact the application of Marxism to the problems of our epoch… Are the Workers Party’s position on these questions [the unconditional defence of the conquests of October] still the same as Shachtman’s positions during 1939-40? Does not today the contradiction between the degenerated Soviet Union and American imperialism sharpen more and more? Does this not bring nearer the danger of an armed conflict between them?

From the viewpoint of the IKÖ’s leadership, a process of clarification was also necessary within the Austrian section. The unification established at the conference held in late 1946 was unable to last for long. A quarrel started after the arrest of Karl Fischer on 21 January 1947 by Red Army soldiers (and probably with the assistance of Austrian Communists) at the checkpoint between the Russian and American sectors on the bridge over the Danube in Linz. He was accused of being an agent of the French or American secret service, and was deported to the Gulag.[155] In connection with this dramatic event, Leopold Kascha was accused by the IKÖ’s leadership of having acted without due regard for security requirements, and thus having endangered the whole organisation. He and five other former members of the Against the Stream Group were ‘removed from all organisational activities’. This meant in practice that they were expelled. As a consequence, Kascha and his followers formed the ‘Steiner Group’ (named after Kascha’s cadre-name), which probably lasted until 1950.[156]

Then Josef Frey, the old sparring-partner of the IKÖ’s leadership, still an émigré in Switzerland and unable to return owing to his rôle in the secret service of the Red Army in Germany 1923, declared in long letters signed ‘Dallet’ to his dedicated followers in Vienna his disappointment with the unification — ‘a dishonest, dishonourable manoeuvre’.[157] He insisted on the correctness of his ‘combined war tactic’, which had been the central focus of all the splits during the Nazi era. The IKÖ’s leadership insisted on an immediate discussion of the ‘combined war tactic’, but Frey’s Viennese followers wanted a postponement until Frey could return home. The IKÖ’s leadership did not want to wait so long. In November 1947, about 10 comrades were excluded, and they reformed the Union of Combat for the Liberation of Working Class, in which ‘Dallet’ was undoubtedly cock of the roost.[158]

In the meantime, a process of stabilisation had taken place in the political sphere. Within the sterile framework of the all-party government, sometimes acting in a very authoritarian manner, the KPÖ had supported this process, thus repeating the rôle of the Social Democrats after 1918, but without any revolutionary mask, speaking a language of moderation and reconciliation: ‘Asked about the Communist position on the nationalisation of industry’ by an agent of the US Office of Strategic Services, Koplenig (who from April to December 1945 was Vice-Chancellor and Secretary of State Without Portfolio in the Austrian coalition government) ‘expressed the view that the guiding principle would be that the large enterprises which had been owned by Germans or Austrian Nazis should be nationalised, but that old Austrian firms should remain in private hands… In general, he gave the impression of having little interest in the question, and of not being particularly well-informed on the present state of Austrian industry.’[159] And Ernst Fischer, who acted as Minister of Education and Religious Affairs until November 1945, declared: ‘The Christian-Socials were good Austrians, but bad democrats. The Austrian Socialists were good democrats, but bad Austrians.’[160] He was thus providing an ideological justification for those who wanted former Austro-Fascists in office, by allowing them to pose as anti-Nazis. In November 1947, with Marshall Aid coming in, the Austrian People’s Party and the Social Democrats felt strong enough to say: ‘The Communist has done his duty, now he must go!’ Starting with this winkling out of the Communists in 1947, governments succeeded one another every four years or so, politicians came and went, but the results of every election remained substantially the same — a coalition between the two main parties, the right-wing People’s Party, which supplied the Chancellor, because it won the most seats, and the Socialist Party (SPÖ), which supplied the Vice-Chancellor — a new metamorphosis of old Austro-quietism.

For the final stabilisation of society, it was necessary that this political model be transferred to the economic sphere. And here the resistance of the workers was on the increase. ‘Calory strikes’ happened nearly every day — the daily food ration guaranteed a mere 1700 calories. The Communists, now outside the government, turned to support these class struggles. Their representative in the Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund (Austrian Trade Union Federation), an all-party organisation founded in 1945, demanded a wage increase of 25 per cent and a full-scale reorganisation of the people’s nourishment. The Social Democrats and the representatives of the People’s Party refused it, because of the danger of inflation and for the sake of exports.

In 1948, one of the major conflicts between the capitalists and the workers was the strike in the shoe-producing industry. Conflicts were provoked through the industrialists’ refusal to accept a general 44-hour week, which would set a precedent for other sectors. In addition, the capitalists categorically refused to reduce working hours, and left the bargaining table. In response, a mass meeting of the shoe-makers was called by the Communist secretary of the shoe-makers’ union branch, without consulting the executive, whose approval of any action was normally necessary (it was later censured by the Social Democrats in the union’s leadership). The union’s chairman, a Social Democratic member of the parliament, did his best to prevent a strike that he feared would take place. One of his weighty arguments was the seizing of power by the Communists in Czechoslovakia a few days before; strikes caused by famine and misery would only help the Austrian followers of Stalin to do the same. His speech evoked a tumultuous response, not least because the political mood of the shoe-makers rejected this explanation (the branch committee consisted of 14 Communists and three Social Democrats). Then a ballot resulted in 2892 votes against 32 for a strike — a great success for the IKÖ, those members had been elected for shop stewards in the two great Vienna shoe factories of Bally and Eldorado. Central goals formulated at the very beginning were economic in nature:

  • A 44-hour and five-day week.
  • The right of codetermination in all cases of taking up or cancelling employment.
  • One free day extra for women (more than half of the 6000 shoe industry employees at this time were women).
  • Additional vacation privileges for war casualties and victims of fascism.

Choosing the lesser evil in the situation, the union federation gave the strike official recognition.[161] But behind the scene the Social Democratic leadership of the textile, clothes and leather workers’ union and the national union federation did everything to defuse the conflict. The Social Democratic Minister for Social Affairs was chosen as a mediator. When he failed in his task, he withheld the Lebensmittelzusatzkarten (supplementary foodcards) from the striking workers in an attempt to break their bellicosity. After a stormy strike ballot, the angry workers, supported by IKÖ activists, published a solidarity leaflet with the motto: ‘Our defeat would be your defeat. Our victory will be your victory.’ The striking workers appealed for practical financial help from other sectors,[162] but the national federation prohibited all collections under the shabby pretext that ‘industrialists could draw the conclusion from such collections that the union federation has not enough money’.[163] An open clash between the strike committee and the leadership of the federation was inevitable. A mass meeting of the Viennese shoe-makers took place on 9 April 1948. It was attended by about 3000 people, not only shoe-makers, but also delegates from other sectors declaring their solidarity with the fight, and bringing over 10 000 shillings which they had collected. A delegate of the Social Democratic Students declared the complete solidarity of his organisation with the demands of the shoe-makers. A Trotskyist speaking as a delegate of the strike leadership called for the opening of the account books to show the great profits that were being made. Spokesmen for the workers called the central officials ‘traitors’, and demanded that the attempts of the union officials to prohibit solidarity action be stopped. As the debate went on, calls were made for the nationalisation of the whole shoe industry.[164] For Austria’s leading union officials, this trend of discussion at the meeting showed that it was vital to act as quickly as possible.[165] Yet during the meeting, Chancellor Leopold Figl from the People’s Party had himself given a promise to welcome a delegation of the striking shoe-makers. Thereafter one mediator followed the next without much success. Finally, the united representatives of the Communist, Social Democratic and the People’s Parties’ fractions within the textile, clothes and leather workers’ union reached an agreement, which was accepted by the striking workers at a meeting on 28 April, with 912 votes for, 716 against and 201 abstentions.

The shoe-makers’ strike was the longest official walk-out in the whole postwar period, involving 4750 workers over 62 days, and one can presume that the IKÖ militants played an important rôle through their clandestine activities and through the strike committee which they set up. With their call for a 44-hour week, the shoe-makers acted as the vanguard of the Austrian proletariat, because this demand was not of great importance for themselves (about 70 per cent of the employees in their sector had worked 44 hours a week since 1945), but their action led to the 44-hour week being enforced for all Austrian employees. Mindful of their profits, the manufacturers conceded only the call for higher wages, and the demands for the right of codetermination in all cases of taking up or cancelling an employment and for one free day extra for women could not be reached, because the Social Democratic majority within the Austrian Trade Union Federation refused to support these demands.[166]

During the strike it became clear that the unions in the Austrian Trade Union Federation representing workers in different sectors were not supporting basic working-class activities. On the contrary, the federation was a bureaucratic apparatus that intended to prohibit workers from disturbing the process of economic Wiederaufbau (reconstruction). Following the logic of capitalist thinking, the federation’s leadership forced their members to accept reduced consumption in exchange for future improvements in welfare. Prolonging the work of the so-called Reichstreuhänders der Arbeit (work trustees) of the Nazi era, the federation agreed in 1946 to the installation of a Zentrale Lohnkommission (Central Commission for Wages) and concluded in subsequent years a series of Lohn-Preis-Pakte (wage and price pacts), which all resulted in reduced wages. Consequently, President Johann Böhm implicitly attacked the IKÖ as exponents of a ‘desperado policy’, ‘dictated either by ignorance of the economic conditions and the conditions for the trade unions’ work in the country, or by malevolence’.[167]

But the workers were obstinate. From one wage and price pact to the next, the number of striking workers grew. A climax was reached in the strike of October 1950, when about 200 000 — 10 per cent of Austria’s workers — walked out against stagnation of wages and galloping inflation. On the one hand, the KPÖ gained increasing control over all working-class activities and tried to manipulate them for its own political ends — ‘the united fight of all upright people against the attempts of the imperialistic Western Allies to colonise the country through the Marshall Plan’. On the other hand, and with the support of the Western Allies’ media, the right-wing Social Democrats attempted to derail all working-class activities through a gigantic propaganda campaign that claimed that these activities were part of a Communist plan for a coup d’état. Left-wing Social Democrats who dared to question the anti-Communist slanders were denounced as fellow-travellers of the Stalinists, and were expelled.[168]

In the course of 1949-50 it became perceptible that through the illegal work that started in 1934, the Trotskyist groups had all been able to make small incursions into the constituencies of the traditional workers’ parties after 1945, but they were not able to break their domination, or even to intervene in a really great movement like the strike of October 1950. As in other Western European countries, the Social Democrats and Communists were able to rebuild their influence amongst the great mass of the working class. During the strike of October 1950, the Trotskyists were unable to obtain much support for their perspective of a democratic, rank-and-file-based class struggle on two fronts — against the pro-capitalist Social Democracy and the Stalinist terror.[169] What should be done now?

For the followers of Josef Frey, organised in the Union of Combat, answering this question was quite simple. Starting in December 1949, the group published a clandestine newspaper Arbeiterblatt (Workers Paper).[170] Constantly expecting the Third World War to break out, this tiny sect preserved a dogmatic and ultra-orthodox insistence upon maintaining a clandestine existence, even after a State Treaty in 1955 brought to an end the regime of Soviet occupation in eastern Austria. The central activity of the group was the constant but unsuccessful attempt to win new members on an individual basis, first of all in athletic clubs. On an international scale the group — or, to put it better, Frey, to whom all its members, mostly recruited from the working class, were subordinated in a paternalistic manner — utilised the tactic of regroupment. It first attempted to cooperate with the Swiss Marxist Action,[171] with the hope of regrouping all ‘principled Trotskyists’ within the International Committee.[172] Here, Frey declared above all his agreement with the International Committee’s positions demanding the overthrow of all Stalinist regimes, and insisting upon the independence of the revolutionary nucleus. But, he declared in a destructive manner, this political agreement would only lead to its affiliation if the process of clearing up political questions within the International Committee went ahead. When the Socialist Workers Party refused to publish an article by Frey which made fundamental criticisms, he condemned the International Committee’s ‘great political weakness’. Soon afterwards Frey broke his connection with Marxist Action, which meant a de facto break with the International Committee. Thus when Frey died in 1957, he left his Union of Combat in Austria in splendid isolation,[173] from which it could never break.[174]

The IKÖ now not merely faced the question of what was to be done, but the far more difficult one of where they were going. New militants were to be recruited through work in the political milieu of the working class. There was no real choice. They had stopped attempting to enter the KPÖ in November 1947. ‘The rôle of the Stalinist party’ was condemned ‘as nothing else than that of an agent of the Soviet occupying power.’[175] They could now only try to win over left-wing Social Democrats, but they faced a purge by the right-wing Social Democratic leaders, who expelled not only real fellow-travellers, but also all those who believed in a ‘third way’ between Social Democracy and Stalinism. If there were no other possibilities, how could an intervention in the Social Democratic Party be practically implemented? The organisational stagnation of the group made this an urgent question, and the only debate was over whether the entire group or just a part of it should enter the Social Democracy. This led to a split at the end of 1949, with the organisation of 80 militants dividing into two roughly equal-sized groups.

The majority group, the IKÖ, published the illegal periodical Der Spartakist, and interpreted the organisation’s stagnation ‘as a consequence of decisive defeats’: ‘We don’t know how long this situation will last, or what its ultimate end will be.’[176] The ‘essential difference’, they argued, ‘between total entry and factional work’ was that ‘the “entrists” officially liquidate their organisation’.[177] Veering from the political line of the majority within the Fourth International, this tendency adopted a very sceptical attitude towards the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, at the time when Tito’s call for the formation of a Balkan-Danube Federation was being viewed by Stalin as challenge to Soviet hegemony over Eastern Europe:

In Yugoslavia the Tito bureaucracy is in power and it oppresses the working population in the same way as the Stalinist bureaucracy in the Soviet Union. The leadership of the Austrian International Communists thus calls for… the overthrow of Tito’s regime, but puts forward simultaneously the slogan of defending Yugoslavia against the Kremlin in the name of the right of self-determination for the Yugoslavian people.[178]

The IKÖ Opposition published for a time the Mitteilungsblatt (Communication Bulletin). With the support of the majority of the International Secretariat of the Fourth International represented by Michael Pablo, this tendency embarked on a total entry into the Social Democratic Party. This support also led to the unusual but unanimously adopted decision of the International Executive Committee to accept the organisation of the Austrian minority as an ‘affiliated group’ of the Fourth International, a decision which was officially motivated by the desire to overcome the split in the International Communists.[179] The following eight-point programme was published in the Austrian minority’s illegal factional newspaper Der Sozialist (The Socialist) as a basis for their entry work:

  • For full democracy within the party.
  • For a trade union policy based upon class-struggle principles.
  • For a fighting programme against unemployment.
  • For a socialist housing programme.
  • For consistent democracy.
  • Against the terror of the ‘people’s democracy’.
  • A struggle against reaction and fascism.
  • An end to the policy of coalition.[180]

This document clearly demonstrates the limits of propaganda work that were possible under the regime of the strictly anti-communist right-wing leadership of the Social Democracy in those days.

In the conflict around the question of Titoite Yugoslavia, the leadership of the International Communist ‘minority’ around Franz Modlik sided with Pablo, who tried to advance the fortunes of the Fourth International by adapting to Titoism.

Both factions accepted the revolutionary perspective that was formulated by the Second World Congress of the Fourth International in 1948. The existence of an ‘unstable equilibrium’ was recognised, as was the possibility of the ‘absence of a revolutionary outcome’ — but this would ‘lead once more to fascism and war, which this time would imperil the future existence of mankind’.[181]

From a rather theoretical point of view, these tendencies can be interpreted as ‘wrong forms of the truth’, to paraphrase Hegel. From a social-psychological standpoint, these tendencies may be understood as different survival-mechanisms of small groups under strong pressure from a stabilised society: adjustment, preservation and conscious isolation. Seen from an individual-psychological viewpoint, conflicts also developed because of the incompatible characters of those involved, who could coexist in one united organisation only because of their expectation of a forthcoming revolution. This perspective disappeared during the 1950s, not merely for the Austrian Trotskyists, but for the Fourth International as a world party. The leadership around Pablo based its programme upon two premises; that there would be no political revolution against Stalinism until capitalism had been overthrown elsewhere; and that all the new regimes established along the road to the overthrow of world capitalism would be deformed Stalinist-type regimes. The implications of this prognosis were extraordinarily pessimistic — they put into question for a whole historical period the functioning and the necessity of an independent revolutionary party or organisation. On this basis, what was to be the purpose of the Fourth International?

The indisputable consequence of this was a process of demoralisation and decline in all three tendencies of Austrian Trotskyism. Entry into the Social Democratic Party gave the Trotskyists a little political influence within the weak left wing of the party, which was headed by Josef Hindels, who had rejected Trotskyism in favour of Austro-Marxism, but five years of work within the Social Democracy reduced the membership of the IKÖ from about 80 to 40.[182]

The process of demoralisation was not halted even after the successful Austrian State Treaty negotiations 1955, when the recovery of sovereignty meant that the Trotskyists — for the first time since 1933! — could act as a semi-legal organisation,[183] and could publish a periodical for all their German-speaking followers, Die Internationale (The International). In the ensuing period, the postwar economic boom reached Austria, and what the right-wing Social Democrats in the Austrian Trade Union Federation had promised — that forced short-term austerity would bring long-term welfare — was now being realised. And it was realised in a typically Austrian, very ‘quiet’ manner. Through the combination of grand coalition governments and a system of social partnership between the unions and capitalists, which was officially established in 1957 with the formation of a so-called Paritätische Kommission (Parity Commission) that brought together representatives of capital and labour, the traditional weakness of the Austrian bourgeoisie and extraordinary strength of its working class were integrated through political control over nationalised banks, assurance companies and factories. This system ensured that Austria avoided social conflicts — the number of officially registered strike days fell from 169 000 during 1946-52 to 28 000 during 1966-69. The Austrian Wirtschaftswunder (Economic Miracle) produced a sort of ‘one-dimensional society’ with a specific ‘repressive tolerance’ — if that description means something different to the reader than to Herbert Marcuse.[184] The establishment of mass parties — the Austrian Peoples Party and the Social Democratic Party[185] — managed only one skill with virtuosity — the skill of silence and repression. Through an immense network of fringe organisations, they supervised every relevant sector of society. It was nearly impossible to obtain a flat, a job, a place in a kindergarten or even a telephone connection without being a member of one of those organisations. Austria became extremely philistine and narrow-minded, provincial and catholic — deviations could only take place in tiny Bohemian circles. Most of the inhabitants accepted the country’s function as a front-line demonstration of the fundamental superiority of ‘welfare capitalism’ against the norms of the Soviet Bloc.

The only response of the Trotskyists to this economic and political situation was a sterile repetition of their old slogan of a Social Democratic government which would open the door to socialism.[186] With this style of propaganda and their belief in permanent revolution, the Trotskyists in Austria resembled an unworldly force in this ultra-stable society, ghosts from a vanished era. Even within the Austrian groups, there was a constant feeling of being a fringe group, and militants therefore tried often to escape mentally, not least by an excessive fulfilling of their internationalist duties.[187]

We have seen the support shown by the Austrian militants for their German colleagues, the latest manifestation being their publishing of Die Internationale.

After the Stalin-Tito breach, the Political Bureau of the IKÖ instructed members to make practical use of the crisis, including getting the by now passive Trotskyists into discussions with Stalinist workers in the factories.[188] A leaflet entitled ‘Helft den jugoslawischen Arbeitern und Bauern’ (‘Workers and Peasants of Yugoslavia Need Help’) was published. It called on all political organisations, trade unions and individuals who had previously supported the ‘Yugoslav experiment’ to build immediately committees in order to bring help to Yugoslavia in form of food and money.[189] Unfortunately this and the following activities on the Yugoslav question were unable to reach the goal of encouraging the development of an opposition tendency within the KPÖ.

Shortly after the revelations made by Nikita Khrushchev, Mikoyan and others at the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in March 1956, the IKÖ published two pamphlets entitled Chruschtschows Bericht über Stalin (Khrushchev’s Report on Stalin).[190] It appears that this publication was the only one in Austria reprinting in full a German translation of Khrushchev’s ‘Secret Speech’.[191]

During and after the uprising in Hungary in 1956, Austrian Trotskyists ‘came into contact with Hungarians who had fled, stayed here and tried to contact us’,[192] as one militant later put it. He, on 1 November 1956, had travelled to Budapest as an official of the Workers Samaritans with a convoy of 40 trucks loaded with material, and left the country only a few hours before the Russian army closed the borders.[193] But, he continued: ‘Trotskyism played no rôle for them.’[194]

From 26 July to 4 August 1959, Vienna was the scene for the Seventh World Festival of Youth for Peace and Friendship, organised by the communist-dominated International Preparation Committee. Under political pressure from Third World delegates, this was the first time that this event took place outside Eastern Europe. The Austrian government gave official permission for the festival out of regard to the neutrality of the country, but as it was only three years after the Russian invasion of Hungary, it was quite clear that a political confrontation was inevitable. Sponsored by the CIA and aided by the International Union of Socialist Youth, the parent organisation of Austrian youth groups arranged a counter-festival. A total of 139 workers of the parent organisation ran 16 information centres in Vienna, 33 tours to the ‘Iron Curtain’ were arranged, and six different leaflets and three different posters were distributed.[195] The 18 000 participants of the Seventh World Festival from 112 countries from all parts of the world were confronted with the ideas of Western society.[196] In this atmosphere of hot Cold War, the Austrian Trotskyists, supported by some cadres from West Germany and Netherlands,[197] tried to distribute a leaflet of the International Secretariat of the Fourth International, calling in German and English for ‘Back to Lenin!’. Its first section encouraged the participants in the World Festival to support the heroic colonial revolution. The second section reminded militants from underdeveloped countries that ‘revolutions in backward colonial or semi-colonial countries’ would lead to national rebirth and growth only if they were ‘led by revolutionary working-class parties’, and arrived ‘at the conquest of power by the toiling masses’. The attempts to limit the revolution to a stage of ‘democratic revolution’, to collaborate with the ‘national bourgeoisie’, to whom the leadership of the revolution would be delivered, could only ‘lead to stagnation and defeat’, as the tragic examples of Guatemala, Iran, Egypt, Indonesia and Argentina demonstrated. ‘Put the overthrow of capitalism on the agenda in the West!’ was the heading of the third section, in which the coming to power of de Gaulle in France was seen as a great defeat for the working class: ‘It creates the first time since 1945 a threat of fascism in Western Europe.’ The last section was an appeal for ‘a return to soviet democracy’:

‘Back to Lenin’ means, for the Soviet Union…, full democratic rights and freedom for the toiling people. Soviet democracy today, when the capitalist class has physically disappeared from the Soviet Union, when the destruction of capitalism has been definitively achieved, as Khrushchev himself admitted at the Twenty-First Party Congress, means not only freedom for ideological tendencies within the Communist parties, but freedom of organisation for all soviet parties, based upon the defence of nationalised property and opposition to world capitalism.

Although this leaflet started with the passage ‘Don’t listen to imperialist propaganda, in which to its dishonour, the leadership of the Socialist Party and the Socialist Youth also participate’,[198] it was hardly read, because the participants of the World Festival were shielded by Communist functionaries and NKVD bodies from all external propaganda.[199]

In the years after the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU in 1956, cadres of the Austrian section contacted Trotskyist sympathisers in Eastern Europe in accordance with instruction of the Fourth International. These visits aimed to get political documents and pamphlets over the borders, and to get a personal impression of the East European activists. In connection with this clandestine work, Franz Drexler recalled a journey to an oppositionist in Cracow, who had a German-speaking wife. Drexler’s intention of visiting a contact in Warsaw was called off on the advice of his contact in Cracow for reasons of security.[200] A Czech engineer, who later took part as an observer at the Fifth Congress of the Fourth International in 1957, was visited by Heinrich Thomas.[201]

From the beginning of the war for Algerian independence in 1954 until the victory of the Front de la Libération Nationale (National Liberation Front) in July 1962, solidarity action with the revolution in Algeria was a central task for the activists of the left wing within the Social Democratic Party, especially for the members of the Social Democratic youth organisations. Through a member of the Austrian Socialist Youth, Winfried Müller, who later became a major in the army of the FNL under the name of ‘Si Mustapha’, they came into direct contact with the liberation movement. In the following years not only were propaganda pamphlets for the Algerians printed and distributed (the first being Freies Algerien (Free Algeria), but with the support of Bruno Kreisky, at this time the first Social Democratic Foreign Minister, and Karl Reidinger, an official (and later head) of the political police, the Austrians ran a repatriation service for soldiers of the Foreign Legion, and 142 members of the Legion were encouraged to desert.[202] But these activities seem to have been first of all organised by the left-wing Social Democrats. The Austrian Communists and Trotskyists had their own organisational networks, independent of the structures of the Social Democrats. These three solidarity initiatives were only linked through the Algerien-Runde (Algerian Assembly).[203] Less is known about the concrete activities of the Austrian Trotskyists. Franz Modlik, who presumably had the main responsibility, wrote in his memoirs:

It was our [Pabloite] tendency which mobilised comrades from France, the Netherlands, etc, who went as metal-workers to the Algerian munitions factories, which were located in Morocco! These factories were camouflaged as lemonade production plants, and were searched by the French Deuxième Bureau, the secret service… but were never exposed.[204]

A fact which Modlik probably did not mention for security reasons, is that Austrian Trotskyists ran an underground print-shop for the Algerians. Another fact he held back from his memoirs is that a Trotskyist, Heinrich Schüller (1901-62) emigrated from Yugoslavia to Algeria (see the appendix below).

To return to the factional conflicts in Austria, there is not enough room to describe in detail the quarrels, splits and unifications that occurred amongst the Austrian Trotskyist groups during the 1950s and 1960s. (I can’t help thinking that a greater part of these quarrels were nothing more than the expression of the fact that in the difficult political and social circumstances, the idea of the necessity of engaging in action led to endless gyrations.) It is only worth mentioning that after a more or less formal reunification of the IKÖ majority and minority and hard pressure from the International Secretariat in 1954,[205] the fundamental division into three tendencies was renewed, when after the World Congress of the United Secretariat of the Fourth International in 1965, the IKÖ once more split into rival organisations. The Mandel-Frank-Maitan faction then began issuing, together with its German counterparts, Internationale Perspektiven (International Perspectives), the predecessor of Inprekorr. The Pabloite faction continued publishing Arbeiterkampf (Workers Fight), which for a short time before had been the section’s official newspaper.[206]

At the same time, the Austrian combination of grand coalition and social partnership slipped into a crisis caused by its own political paralysis, which was an inevitable product of the governmental and social control. But the Trotskyists altogether numbered about 15 members, and only a few of them were active. A very wide generation gap existed between the mostly proletarian ‘red grandfathers’ (red grandmothers were nearly unknown[207]) and the activists of the rising high-school and university students’ movement in Austria. In one way, these new radicals adopted in many aspects a sterile copy of the organisational methods and theoretical ideas that had arisen outside the country, especially in Western Germany. In another way, however, this ‘new left’ movement, concentrated in Vienna, was typically Austrian in the sense which was drawn by the popular poet Johann Nestroy (1801-1862), whose cynical and disabused satirical plays echoed the pulse of Viennese life. His play Freiheit in Krähwinkel (Freedom in Krähwinkel) was apt in the way it attacked the behaviour of the Viennese revolutionaries during the insurrection of 1848:

The people of Krähwinkel: ‘Freedom! Freedom!’

Ultra: ‘This is unheard in Krähwinkel! So let us fight! We will show them, we’ll make them tremble! To whom shall we turn? Where shall we go to start?’

The people of Krähwinkel: ‘To the coffee-shop! Let’s have some coffee!’

Nevertheless, a new chapter in the history of Trotskyism in Austria was opened in those days.

Appendix: Fritz Keller

Dr Heinrich Schüller (1901-1962): From the Resistance Struggle to the War of Liberation[208]

On 20 November 1942, the Gestapo arrested Heinrich Schüller, the district doctor in lower Austrian Annaberg, near Mariazell. At the same time, five further individuals — a midwife, the manager of the local branch of ‘Konsum’ and three workers — were arrested. They were charged with high treason, perpetrated by the founding of an organisation whose participants were of a Communist orientation, and who listened to foreign radio broadcasts together and then further distributed the reports.[209]

Heinrich Schüller had been known to the police as a left-wing political activist since 1932, when, as a young man (who had been brought up as a Christian Social), he joined the Social Democratic Workers Party. In 1934, he moved closer to the Trotskyist movement. Under the Austro-fascist regime, he was first arrested during a raid on 10 July 1936 under ‘suspicion of being an activist for the Communist Party of Austria’.[210] At the time, Schüller already belonged to the Trotskyist group around Franz Pavelka,[211] whose illegal correspondence with the international left opposition fell into the hands of the police thanks to an informer. Pavelka protected Dr Schüller by admitting responsibility for everything.[212] But in the same year, Schüller once again fell victim to Ständestaat justice — accused of insulting the Heinwehr leader Count Starhemberg, the government commissioner in St Pölten sentenced him to 42 days imprisonment.[213] After the Nazi invasion, he did not hide from his acquaintances and patients his hostile position vis-à-vis the state. In 1939, he was arrested and imprisoned for 14 days by the district magistrate at St Pölten for malicious criticisms of the Stürmer. In the following year, ‘disparaging a soldiers’ song’ earned him a caution from the state police.[214]

Conspicuous because of these previous political convictions, he was arrested yet again in 1942.[215] The accusation this time was high treason. In the opinion of the general state prosecutor, Schüller was supposed to have gathered a circle of people around him in the autumn of 1939, and these met every six to eight weeks in various apartments where they held ‘political discussions’. The accused regularly delivered lectures on domestic and foreign political affairs, mostly derived from foreign radio broadcasts. To this end, he not only listened in his own home to enemy broadcasts (amongst them London and Moscow stations), but also, while at the gatherings, set the radio sets in the homes of the other accused to pick up German-speaking enemy programmes. At all these gatherings, according to the general state prosecutor, Schüller attempted to demoralise his listeners by generally concluding from the broadcasts that Germany must lose the war. When in 1942, owing to excessive work commitments, Schüller, was prevented from organising regular gatherings, he prepared ‘educational letters’ for his ‘dear friends’. In the course of 1942, he composed three such letters, always produced on the typewriter in several copies.[216]

In addition, the general prosecutor possessed the witness statement of a shop assistant, whom Schüller had met whilst on a convalescence holiday. Schüller ‘unambiguously let it be known that he was on the “left”’; furthermore, while on a trip to Vienna, he inquired after old clock mechanisms at the specialist business where she worked. In response to the sales assistant’s question as to what these were for, he is supposed to have said literally: ‘We need old clock mechanisms in order to convert them into small mortars that explode with a bang.’[217]

Under the National Socialist blood justice, this count of indictment was normally sufficient grounds for the death penalty. But Schüller was lucky in his misfortune. In the course of the closed main trial in the county court in Vienna, the witness altered her statement substantially, to say that that the doctor had primarily purchased the clock in order ‘to swap it for food in the countryside’. The judge summed up:

When the accused Dr Schüller characterised himself as a Trotskyist, then his explanation — that in respect of Trotsky’s rejection of both Stalin’s Third International and democracy for him the characterisation ‘Trotskyist’ is only a catch-all term for his political thought processes; whereby he simply wants to declare that he is a man of the left — demonstrates without question the accused’s confused mode of thought.

In addition, the judge took into consideration the fact that Schüller, even if not someone afflicted by complete or diminished responsibility, was at least a deviant oddball, a ‘“schizothym” [schizophrenically disposed] psychopath’, who ‘on account of his bizarre thought processes and activities draws attention to himself’.[218]

On the basis of this legal evaluation, the charges of high treason and punishable offences against the explosives law and the law against the formation of new parties were dropped by the county court for penal affairs. Just as little could the counts of indictment involving secret societies and the intent ‘to paralyse the will of the German people for a victorious self-assertion’ be supported by any convincing evidence. The charge of listening to foreign radio stations and distributing enemy radio reports stood. Schüller was sentenced to prison for three years and six months and four years loss of civic rights.[219] Schüller served this sentence in Bernau penal institution, north-east of Berlin, until on 23 May 1945 he was released by decree of an officer committee of the Military Government of Germany.[220]

Once he returned to Vienna, Heinrich Schüller set up a surgery in the twentieth district, where, because of his social consciousness and his never-tiring efforts to help patients, he became very well liked. Although officially he joined the SPÖ, secretly, under the code name of ‘Simon’, he carried out various activities on behalf of the International Communists of Austria. Since this Trotskyist group was forced to work underground because of the presence of the Soviet occupying power, he decided, together with a political friend, to camouflage their work by the new formation of the Workers Samaritan Organisation. The plan succeeded. Trotskyists formed the majority of the ‘proponent committee’ that was constituted in April 1947, and the provisional national leadership that was elected on 3 June 1947. The following year, the national meeting recognised Schüller as Chairman, and his deputy, who was also the Secretary, and an observer were both taken from the Trotskyist circle.[221]

The clandestine activities undertaken under cover of the Workers Samaritan Organisation remained as unknown to the non-Trotskyist members of this organisation as to the Soviet commanders, who approved the activities of the grouping long before the Western Allies.[222] Schüller served as Chairman unopposed until he was forced to step down in 1953.

The reason for this was not political. Rather he had — as the National Socialist general state prosecutor thought at the time — proved ‘his anti-social activity… since his activities in Annaberg’ by ‘undertaking operations on countless women to abort foetuses’. The state prosecutor of the county court in St Pölten believed that they could prove him responsible for 19 such cases in 1942.[223] Also, after resuming his medical practice in 1945, he had carried out further abortions. As several witnesses testified, his motivation for this was exclusively ideological and social. Often he undertook the forbidden operation free of charge in a bath hut in Klosterneuburg. Amongst his patients were the wives and girlfriends of high-ranking Viennese police officers.[224]

When these illegal activities became known to a blackmailer in 1953, Schüller believed that the only way to save himself from the financial demands was to get a hired hitman to rough him up. The opposite was thereby achieved. The affair became public in such a way that even his high-ranking police friends found it impossible to keep it hushed up.[225]

The trial ended with an 18-month prison sentence which Schüller had to serve in Stein an der Donau penal institution. And, after his release on 27 January 1955,[226] given that he had also been struck off because of the trial, he was forced to eke out a living by catching frogs for laboratory experiments.[227] Politically, he became involved once more with the International Communists of Austria. His main area of activity was solidarity work for the Algerian Liberation Front (FLN), in which work Trotskyists were active alongside left-wing Social Democrats[228] and Communists. The International Communists of Austria ran an underground press in Vienna to support the FLN.

Through his solidarity work, Schüller got the idea of emigrating. He answered the appeal of the International Secretariat of the Fourth International to support the Algerian war of liberation.[229] After a short sojourn in Yugoslavia, he travelled on to Tunisia, where the FLN ran hospitals for Algerian refugees. Here nobody asked about his being struck off. Schüller was able to practice once more, and care for the patients that were dearest to him — children!

Heinrich Schüller died in Tunisia from the consequences of dysentery.[230] Although the precise date of his death is unknown, a number of facts seem to confirm that the revolutionary doctor managed to witness the victory of the Algerian Liberation Front in 1962.


 

Notes

[1].      Josef Strasser, ‘Die Musterpartei der internationalen Sozialdemokratie’ (first published in Kommunistische Internationale [Communist Internationale], no 2, 1925); in Josef Strasser, Der Arbeiter und die Nation [Workers and the Nation], Vienna, 1982 (reprint, originally Reichenberg, 1912), p87. A journalist by profession, Josef Strasser was one of the rare followers of Rosa Luxemburg’s politics in Austria during the Monarchy. In the Neue Zeit [New Era], edited by Karl Kautsky, he published a very profound study entitled ‘Kapitalismus und Kriegsrecht’ [‘Capitalism and Law of War’] (Volume 11, 1911-12, Ergänzungsheft [Supplement Number]). During the First World War, he took an internationalist position similar to that of the Zimmerwald movement. At the end of the war, he became a spokesman for the Linksradikale (Left Radicals), a leftist group which favoured Communism. He joined the Communist Party in 1918, shortly after its foundation and was for a brief period the chief editor of the Rote Fahne [Red Flag]. Although he sympathised with Paul Levi’s stand, he did not leave the party or the Comintern when Levi was expelled. In 1922, he became a member of the Comintern’s programme commission for its Fourth Congress, and one of the members of the editorial staff of Kommunistische Internationale. He also was the first to translate Lenin’s writings into German. From 1924 to 1926, he taught at the Comintern school in Moscow, but when Stalin removed Trotsky, Zinoviev and others from the leadership of the RCP(B) Strasser voiced disagreement. After his expulsion around 1930, he was in written contact with Leon Trotsky (Oeuvres, Volume 1, pp202ff, and Volume 2, p25, Paris, 1978), but he never joined the Left Opposition.

[2].      See Karl Kautsky’s impressions of the absence of a declared reformist wing within the SDAP in ‘Ein Brief’ [‘A Letter’], Der Kampf [The Fight], Vienna, no 1, 1907, pp9ff.

[3].      Symptomatic of his way of thinking is an episode, narrated by Leon Trotsky in My Life: ‘When in February 1905, I was passing through Vienna on my way to Russia, I asked Victor Adler what he thought of the participation of the Social Democracy in the provisional government. Adler answered me in the Adler way: “Your hands are too full with the existing government to puzzle your brains over the future one.”’ (LD Trotsky, My Life, Harmondsworth, 1975, p211)

[4].      Trotsky, op cit, p215.

[5].      Frederick Engels, ‘The Prague Uprising’, in Karl Marx, The Revolutions of 1848, Harmondsworth, 1978, p126.

[6].      For a more detailed description of these conflicts, see Raimund Löw, Der Zerfall der kleinen Internationale — Nationalitätenkonflikte in der Arbeiterbewegung des alten Österreich (1869-1914) [The Decay of the Little International: National Conflicts Within the Workers’ Movement of the Old Austria (1869-1914)], Vienna, 1984.

[7].      This he confessed himself in 1923 in his book with the misleading title Die österreichische Revolution [The Austrian Revolution]; Otto Bauer, Werkausgabe [Collected Works], Volume 2, Vienna, 1976: ‘Only through an everyday appeal to one’s own understanding, to one’s own reason, to the sense of responsibility provoked by hunger and icy coldness, and through war and revolution, could the government prevent the masses from being incited, and prevent the revolutionary movement being completed through a civil war. No bourgeois government could have done this… Only Social Democrats could have managed this enormous task.’ Some years later, Bauer was less shy in his confessions: ‘The Austrian Social Democrats succeeded without violence, and by peaceful persuasion, in claiming the wild excitement of the men who returned from the blood and filth of the trenches, only to find starvation waiting for them at home, and in mobilising it for peaceful constructive work. When Austria lay between the Soviet dictatorships in Bavaria and Hungary, it remained an island of peace, whilst blood was flowing in torrents to the east and to the west.’ (Otto Bauer, ‘Der Aufstand der österreichischen Arbeiter’ [published in Britain in 1934 under the title of ‘Austrian Democracy Under Fire’], Werkausgabe, Volume 3, Vienna, 1976) Proof of the arrangements between the SDAP leadership and the government of the Monarchy at the end of the First World War has been demonstrated by Roman Rosdolsky in his study, based on Austrian archive material, ‘Die revolutionäre Situation in Österreich 1918 und die Politik der Sozialdemokraten — Der Jännerstreik 1918’ [‘The Revolutionary Situation in Austria in 1918 and the Politics of the Social Democrats — The Strike in January 1918’] in the compilation Studien über revolutionäre Taktik [Studies on Revolutionary Tactics], Berlin, 1973).

[8].      Ruth Fischer (1895-1961) was born in Leipzig, the daughter of a philosophy professor, and sister of Hans and Gerhart Eisler. When her father was teaching in Vienna, she studied philosophy and economics at the university there, and was active in the student Socialist organisation. In 1917, she married Paul Friedländer (1893-1940), a medical student, who died in a German prison or concentration camp. From 1924 until 1926, she headed the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (KPD — German Communist Party) under the name of Ruth Fischer.

[9].      Frey wrote ‘Probleme und Methoden des “Kapitals”’ [‘Problems and Methods of “Capital”’], Der Kampf, Volume 4, 1910-11, pp419ff), and ‘Die Entwcklung der indirekten Steuern in Österreich’ [‘The Development of the Indirect Taxes in Austria’], Der Kampf, Volume 7, 1913-14, pp106ff.

[10].    The theoretical output of these activities was a pamphlet entitled Revolutionäre Disziplin, Vienna, 1919, which was reprinted together with the articles mentioned in note 11 under the title Frühe Schriften 1911-1919 [Early Writings 1911-1919], Vienna, 1991. A rather one-sided picture of Frey’s activities in this time is painted by Egon Erwin Kisch in his article ‘Hauptmann Josef Frey — ein Gendarm?’ [‘Captain Josef Frey — a Gendarme?’], in Mein Leben für die Zeitung 1906-1925 [My Life for the Newspaper 1906-1925], Berlin and Weimar, 1983, pp350ff.

[11].    The revolutionary blocs in the Free Trade Unions at this point had their own organisation, controlled the Branchenexekutiven (Executives) in eight branches, with a Gewerkschaftsrat (trade council) as a leading body publishing Der Rote Gewerkschafter (The Red Trade Unionist), whose only connection with the Communist Party was with the party’s national leadership.

[12].    Until the crisis of the world economy in 1929, the unemployment figures in Austria were three or four times higher than in Germany. The highest point — 18 per cent — was reached in 1926.

[13].    Otto Bauer, ‘Die Genfer Sanierung — Rede am 14 September 1922’ [‘Sanitation of Geneva — Speech on 14 September 1922’], Werkausgabe, Volume 8, Vienna, 1976, p835.

[14].    It must be emphasised that the Defence Corps was an unloved child from the very beginning. As far as back as 1922, when workers were killed for the first time in fights with fascist groups, Julius Deutsch, speaking on behalf of the party, proposed bilateral disarmament to the bourgeois parties, subject to mutual supervision, and it was only after the bourgeois parties had scornfully rejected this offer that the Defence Corps was founded.

[15].    The military adviser of the Heimwehr was Major Pabst, who after an earlier career on the German general staff, was involved in the murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.

[16].    Afterwards, Frey spent some time in Germany, working as an agent of the Red Army’s secret service military, and giving support to the Communists preparing the ‘German Red October’. It is worth remembering that in 1924 a guest, who was years later to rise to fame, took up residence in Frey’s dwelling in Vienna: Antonio Gramsci. The Italian Communist noted this in a letter to Julia Schucht on 16 December 1923: ‘I was lodged in a house of a female comrade, who, as the wife of one of the leading functionaries of the party in this place, is a regular member of the Comintern; every day she sheds tears over the good old Emperor; she is Jewish but has converted to Catholicism, swearing in this new religion also, to marry a communist… She continually curses the party which forces her to take in such boring and burdensome guests like me, possibly bringing her problems with the police.’ (Antonio Gramsci, Briefe 1908-1926 — Eine Auswahl, Vienna-Zurich, 1992, p113)

[17].    Protokoll des V Weltkongresses der Kommunistischen Internationale, Volume 2, Erlangen, 1974, p1037.

[18].    In this dispute, the Czech section of the KPÖ, comprising nearly 10 per cent of its membership, played a certain rôle as followers of Frey. This fact is worth mentioning, because the most prominent official of this period was the poet Hugo Sonka (alias Sonnenschein, 1889-1953). In 1947, he was accused in Prague of collaborating with the Nazis — after spending 10 years in Auschwitz concentration camp — and sentenced to 20 years in prison. (See the various biographies of him, Karl-Markus Gauß and Josef Haslinger (ed), Sonka, Munich-Vienna, 1984; Hans-Heinz Hahnl, ‘Hugo Sonka/Sonnenschein’ in Memorial, Österreichische Stalin-Opfer [Stalin’s Austrian Victims], Vienna, 1990; Wolf Raul, ‘Hugo Sonnenschein’, Archiv für die Geschichte des Widerstandes und der Arbeit [Archive on the History of Resistance and Work], no 12, Bochum, 1992.

[19].    Information about the tiny Austrian anarchist movement can be found in Gerhard Botz, Gerfried Brandstetter and Michael Pollak, Im Schatten der Arbeiterbewegung — Anarchismus in Österreich und Deutschland [In the Shadow of the Workers’ Movement: Anarchism in Austria and Germany], Vienna, 1978, and Gerfried Brandstetter, Rudolf Großmann (‘Pierre Ramus’) — Ein österreichischer Anarchist [An Austrian Anarchist], Vienna, 1978.

[20].    Copies of the most interesting articles in this newspaper are collected in the Verein für Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung (Institute for the History of the Workers’ Movement), Archiv der extremen Linken (Archive of the Extreme Left), carton 3 (in the following text quoted as VGA). A series of programmatic articles from this newspaper has been reprinted, Josef Frey, Wie kämpfen gegen die Arbeitslosigkeit [How to Fight Unemployment], Vienna, 1985.

[21].    Landau’s summary of the factional fights in the KPÖ has been reprinted under the title Wesen und Geschichte des Anarcho-Kommunismus in Österreich [The Nature and History of Anarcho-Communism in Austria], Vienna, 1989.

[22].    Schlamm was for some time after 1933 the editor of Die neue Weltbühne (New World Scene, founded by Carl von Ossietzky) in Prague. When he moved to the United States, he became an ultra-conservative and an editorial executive of Henry Luce publications.

[23].    See Isa Strasser, Arbeiterin und Gewerkschaft [Working Woman and Trade Unions], Berlin, 1924, and Frauenarbeit und Rationalisierung [Women’s Work and Rationalisation], Moscow, 1927, a pamphlet published by the Red International of Labour Union’s publishing house. Whilst writing the novel Land ohne Schlaf (Country Without Sleep), Strasser started at the end of the 1960s an initiative discussing the GPU terror in the Soviet Union. The novel’s epilogue by Joseph Buttinger is worth reading because of its biographical details.

[24].    As the Vienna Meldeamt (Registration Office) noted in a letter dated 16 March 1999 to the author, Martha Nathanson emigrated together with her husband Siegmund (1884-?) to Great Britain on 14 November 1938.

[25].    Emil, ‘Das Wachstum der KP Österreichs’ [‘Development of the Austrian Communist Party’], Inprekorr, no 12/1932, p991.

[26].    Georgi Dimitrov at this time belonged to the leadership of the Balkan Communist Federation, which tried to coordinate its clandestine work from an illegal centre in Vienna, maybe in collaboration with the Soviet representative Adolf Joffe. Some information about the activities of the Federation in Vienna can be found in the reports of a symposium ‘Wien und die bulgarische revolutionäre Emigration’ (‘Vienna and the Revolutionary Emigrants from Bulgaria’) held on 28 November 1978. See also the Documentation Archive of the Austrian Resistance Movement, document 8.809 (hereafter ‘DÖW’). A large number of police records on this activities are collected in the Austrian Staatsarchiv (State Archives), which have never been used by historians (Fascicle 311, Liasse Österreich 2/25 ‘Kommunistische Umtriebe in Österreich’ [‘Communist Subversive Activities in Austria’]).

[27].    JV Stalin, ‘The International Situation and the Defence of the Soviet Union’, Works, Volume 10, London, 1985, p53.

[28].    Among them were the member of the KPÖ-O Johann Prammer, who was born on 13 December 1885 in Haugsdorf, and died on 15 July 1927 ‘while escaping’, as the Vienna Meldeamt put it, and the Oppositionist Rudolf (Rolf) Ingus (born on 6 May 1894 in Velki Baracka, Yugoslavia, and who died on the same day in identical circumstances (letter dated 8 August 1998 from the Meldeamt to the author).

[29].    Otto Bauer, ‘Gleichgewicht der Klassenkämpfe’ [‘Equal Balance of Class Conflict’], Werkausgabe, Volume 9, p55.

[30].    LD Trotsky, ‘The Austrian Crisis and Communism’, Writings of Leon Trotsky 1929, New York, 1975, pp382-96.

[31].    For instance an international investigation commission was formed consisting of Raymond Molinier and Mill, that is, Pavel Okun and Obin, to clear up whether a member of Frey’s group was a Nazi spy.

[32].    See Arthur Spencer, ‘Strange Interlude — A Footnote to the Soblen Case’, Survey, October 1963.

[33].    LD Trotsky, ‘Problems of the German Section’, Writings of Leon Trotsky 1930-1931, New York, 1973, p140.

[34].    LD Trotsky, ‘The Crisis of the German Left Opposition’, Writings of Leon Trotsky 1932, New York, 1975, p148.

[35].    A list of the publications distributed can be found on the back of the pamphlet Leo Trotzki: Österreich an der Reihe — Mit Anhang: Brief an einen österreichischen Genossen, herausgegeben von der Linksopposition in der KPÖ (Bolschewiki-Leninisten) [Austria’s Turn Next — With an Appendix: Letter to an Austrian Comrade, Edited by the Left Opposition in the Communist Party of Austria], Vienna, April 1933.

[36].    See Documents of the Fourth International: The Formative Years 1933-1940, New York, 1973, p31.

[37].    LD Trotsky, ‘Austria’s Turn Next’, Writings of Leon Trotsky 1932-33, New York, 1972, pp148ff.

[38].    Joseph Buttinger, Das Ende der Massenpartei — Am Beispiel Österreichs [End of the Mass Party — Austria’s Example], Frankfort, nd, p100. Buttinger became Chairman of the illegal Social Democrats after February 1934.

[39].    Joseph T Simon, Augenzeuge [Eye-Witness], Vienna, 1979, p95.

[40].    LD Trotsky, ‘Les difficulties de notre travail’, Œuvres, mars-juillet 1933, Paris, 1978, p220.

[41].    LD Trotsky, ‘Diplomatic and Parliamentary Cretinism — The Struggle Against Fascism in Austria and the Congress at the Pleyel in Paris’, Writings of Leon Trotsky 1932-33, op cit, p270.

[42].    Labour and Socialist International (ed), After the German Catastrophe, Zurich, 1933, pp5, 6, 12 (DÖW 15.265); Otto Bauer, Werkausgabe, Volume 6, op cit, pp105ff.

[43].    LD Trotsky ‘How Otto Bauer Poses the Question — A Letter to an Austrian’, Writings of Leon Trotsky 1932-33, op cit, p146.

[44].    To prove what Trotsky had written a year previously about this problem: ‘A general strike cannot be produced out of one’s vest pocket. The workers may be led to a general strike, but to do so one must fight and not play hide and seek with reality: a call to battle must be issued. One must organise for the struggle, arm for the struggle, widen and deepen the channels of struggle, not confining oneself to the legal forms of struggle, that is, the framework dictated by the armed enemy… But let us allow that the fascists will give the Social Democracy time enough to call for a general strike at the last minute, and that the workers will respond solidly to the call. What then? What is the goal of the general strike? What must it achieve? In what forms must it develop? How should it defend itself against military and police repressions, and against the fascist pogroms?’ (LD Trotsky, ‘Austria’s Turn Next’, Writings of Leon Trotsky 1932-33, op cit, p153).

[45].    See, for example, Hans Schafranek: ‘“Die Führung waren wir selber” — Militanz und Resignation im Februar 1934 am Beispiel Kaisermühlen’ [‘“We Commanded Ourselves”: Militant Action and Surrender in February 1934 in the Vienna Kaisermühlen District’], in Helmut Konrad and Wolfgang Maderthaner (ed), Neuere Studien zur Arbeitergeschichte [New Studies on Workers’ History], Volume 2, Vienna, 1984, pp456, 466.

[46].    ‘Interview with Franz Drexler’, Marxismus [Marxism], Vienna, no 10, December 1996, p10.

[47].    The Left Opposition had published a proclamation for a united front before the assault started (DÖW 4.073/112 and 4.086/18).

[48].    When Hitler’s army marched into Prague in March 1939, Salus tried to cross the border, but he was arrested by the SS. Thereafter he spent seven years in various jails and Auschwitz, Meuselwitz and Graslitz concentration camps. After the liberation he was active in the left wing of the Czech Social Democratic Party whilst also trying to regroup the Trotskyists. When the Communists came into power in 1948, Salus fled to Bavaria. Five years later he died, so it seemed, of a lung inflammation. When the archives of the KGB were opened, a report to the Politbureau of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was found declaring that he was murdered by an agent through a slow-working bacteriological poison (for further biographical details see Quatrième Internationale, no 2-4, April 1953, pp11-12; VGA, carton 5, folder 35).

[49].    ‘Interview with Franz Holba’, Marxismus, no 10, December 1996, p37.

[50].    DÖW 4.073/111.

[51].    Frey accused Trotsky of ‘bad organisational methods’. Trotsky answered with the reproach that Frey was ‘basically an Austro-Marxist’ and ‘not an internationalist-minded revolutionary’ (LD Trotsky, ‘Principled and Practical Questions’, Writings of Leon Trotsky 1930-31, New York, 1973, p256). A collection of letters between Trotsky and Frey is filed in VGA, carton 23, folder 157-158. The following episode may give an impression of the hostile personal climate between Frey and Trotsky. When Trotsky spent some days in the health resort of Pystian in Slovakia in 1930 or 1931, Frey even refused to visit him there for an exchange of views (see Franz Modlik, ‘Erinnerungen’ [‘Memories’], Marxismus, no 10, December 1996, p161).

[52].    LD Trotsky, ‘After the Austrian Defeat’, Writings of Leon Trotsky Supplement 1934-1940, New York, 1979, pp459-60.

[53].    Dollfuss preferred a refinement of the ideas of the corporate state that were based on the papal encyclical Quadragesimo Anno — the effect was the same.

[54].    Ernst Fischer, An Opposing Man, London, 1974, pp194, 309.

[55].    This was an auxiliary organisation of the Comintern, established in 1922 under the name of the Mezhdunarodnaia orgnaizatsiia pomoshchi revoliutsioneram (MOPR).

[56].    For details, see Barry McLoughlin, Hans Schafranek and Walter Szevera, Aufbruch-Hoffnung-Endstation — Österreicher in der Sowjetunion 1925-1945 [Setting Out, Hope and the End of the Road: Austrians in the Soviet Union 1925-1945], Vienna, 1996, pp159ff.

[57].    Georg Scheuer, ‘Die Moskauer Prozesse und ihr Echo in den Wiener Linksgruppen’ [‘The Moscow Trials and Their Echo in the Viennese Left’], Archiv — Jahrbuch des Vereins für die Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung [Yearbook of the Institute for Labour History], Vienna, 1986.

[58].    Fischer arrived in Moscow in April 1934, and served as the Austrian delegate to the Seventh Congress of the Comintern in 1935. From 1938, he was editor-in-chief of Communist International. In the 1960s, Fischer held a leading position under the Eurocommunists, and became a theoretician of culture, well known through his books The Necessity of Arts: A Marxist Approach, Harmondsworth, 1963; Art Against Ideology, London, 1969; and Lenin in his Own Words, London, 1972, written with Franz Marek.

[59].    Ernst Fischer, For or Against the United Front?, New York, 1936, pp53ff.

[60].    The theoretical positions of the Mensheviks during 1903-37 can be found in Sozialistische Revolution in einem unterentwickeltem Land? [Socialist Revolution in an Underdeveloped Country?], Hamburg, 1981. [See also André Liebich, From the Other Shore: Russian Social Democracy After 1921, Cambridge, 1997 — ed]

[61].    Ernst Fischer, Trotsky Unmasked, New York, 1937, pp4, 33, 45, 48. In his autobiography, Ernst Fischer tries to explain his slanders with the following words: ‘Reading this now it is beyond my comprehension that I could have believed such lunacy… I fell victim to the terrible power of appearances, to the power of suggestion exercised by the spoken word, a word not as yet dead and printed, not as available for careful autopsy.’ (An Opposing Man, op cit, pp306ff)

[62].    Johann Koplenig, Volksgericht über die Verräter an Lenins Werk [Public Trial Against the Traitors to Lenin’s Work], Vienna, p4. This illegal pamphlet was camouflaged as Dr Oetkers Puddingpulver. This outlook did not merely remain on the theoretical plane. Communists also denounced people (Scheuer, op cit, p65).

[63].    Friedrich Adler, The Witchcraft Trial in Moscow, New York 1937, pp27, 31. Letters to Friedrich Adler from Leon Sedov, dated 8 November 1936, and Felix Morrow, dated 13 April 1937, are deposited in VGA, carton 23, folder 162.

[64].    See Raimund Löw, Otto Bauer und die russische Revolution [Otto Bauer and the Russian Revolution], Vienna, 1980. The declarations of Adler and Bauer were used by Trotsky as arguments before the Dewey Commission (The Case of Leon Trotsky, New York, 1969, p461).

[65].    Otto Bauer, ‘Grundsätzliches zu den Hinichtungen in Moskau’ [‘Fundamental Positions on the Executions in Moscow’], Kampf, no 10/1936; ‘Der Trotzkismus und die Trotzkisten­pro­zesse’ [‘Trotskyism and the Trials of Trotskyists’], Kampf, no 3/1937; ‘Das Gericht über die Roten Generale’ [‘The Trial of the Red Generals’], Kampf, no 7/1937; Werkausgabe, Volume 9, op cit, pp671ff, 702ff, 744ff.

[66].    Biographical material on him can be found in DÖW 5.230ff. See Peter Pelinka, Erbe und Neubeginn — Die Revolutionären Sozialisten in Österreich 1934-1938 [Heir and New Start — Revolutionary Socialists in Austria 1934-1938], Vienna, 1981, pp179ff. After the Second World War, Buttinger exerted some influence on the domestic politics of South Vietnam under somewhat unclear circumstances (Joseph Buttinger, ‘Meine Rolle in Vietnam’ [‘My Part in Vietnam’], Zukunft, no 9-10/1970, pp31ff). Zunkunft (Future) is the theoretical monthly of the Austrian Socialist Party.

[67].    This time, Mussolini gave in without a fight, as the conquest of Ethiopia, which had tied up Italy since 1936, had gradually caused him to relegate Austria to the bottom of his political agenda.

[68].    See, for instance, the Österreichische Arbeiter-Zeitung (Austrian Workers Journal), the organ of the Christian workers’ movement, for 23 October 1937: ‘But it is quite certain that the Austrian workers’ movement has nothing to expect from this clique, which is dancing to Stalin’s tune, and which betrays its illegal duties because of the Trotskyist pest.’

[69].    Ernst Fischer, ‘Der Weg eines linken Sozialdemokraten’ [‘The Course of a Left-Wing Social Democrat’], Weg und Ziel, no 1, January 1938, p32. Weg und Ziel (Road and Goal) was the KPÖ’s theoretical monthly.

[70].    The group around Frey’s opponent Kurt Landau worked before 12 February 1934 under the name of Marxisten-Internationalisten. This circle of about 10 members concentrated in Graz (Styria) then fell apart. Landau, who had left Vienna for Berlin, was at this time in Paris, trying to build a new Zimmerwald-style movement. Thereafter he worked within the rank and file of the Partido oberro de unificación marxista (POUM — United Marxist Workers Party) in Spain. After the Stalinist police round-up of so-called ‘Trotskyists’, he lived in Barcelona. On 23 September 1937, he was discovered and carried off by three men in a car without number plates. He ‘disappeared’ like so many others. International solidarity campaigns achieved nothing. His wife documented the case in the pamphlet Le stalinisme en Espagne (Stalinism in Spain), to which Alfred Rosmer wrote a preface (Spartacus Cahiers mensuels, no 11, Paris 1938, — DÖW 17.816) (See also Revolutionary History, Volume 1, no 2). A collection of documents entitled ‘Zeugenaussagen über den Stalinismus’ (‘Testimonial Evidence on Stalinism’) is deposited in DÖW 7.670.

[71].    In this context, it must be remembered that Frey had been an officer trained in secret service procedures.

[72].    Otto Bauer, Zwischen zwei Weltkriegen?, Bratislava, 1936, p321 (Werkeausgabe, Volume 4, op cit, pp49ff).

[73].    Ernst Schmied [Josef Frey], Integraler Sozialismus — ein neuer Weg? [Integrated Socialism — A New Way?], Vienna, May 1937 (reprinted Vienna, 1985) (DÖW 4.086/3; VGA, carton 1, folder 4).

[74].    As it was, two comrades disobeyed the Political Bureau’s orders and attempted to go to Spain, but were arrested at the Austrian border.

[75].    Ernst Fischer, Vernichtet den Trotzkismus [Annihilate Trotskyism], Berlin, p48 (camouflaged as Van Loon, Du und die Erde).

[76].    Reprinted in Schutzbundzeitung [Journal of the Defence League], 10 April 1937 (DÖW 4.086/2; VGA, carton 1, folder 12). This journal was published by the followers of the Union of Struggle.

[77].    LD Trotsky, ‘Austria, Spain, Belgium and the Turn’, Writings of Leon Trotsky 1934-35, New York, 1971, p101.

[78].    In fact, many indications seem to prove that what would have made sense in the years after 1927, when the Social Democracy was a stable organisation whose members believed in the reformist method of winning a majority of voters, was completely wrong after 1934, when the Social Democracy had perished and all the former members were looking for a change of orientation from the traditional Austro-Marxism.

[79].    The Austrian Bolshevik-Leninists also published Trotsky’s essay Wohin geht Frankreich? [Whither France?] (DÖW 4.086/32).

[80].    Born into an industrialist family, Therese Schlesinger was a participant of the third conference of Zimmerwald in Stockholm in 1917. After the First World War, she became a member of the leadership of the SDAP and a member of parliament. She was one of the best Austro-Marxist theorists, writing many of articles and studies for Neue Zeit, Kampf and Arbeiter-Zeitung (Workers Journal), particularly on education, psychology and literature.

[81].    This list is mentioned in Arbeiter-Zeitung, 15 October 1937.

[82].    From July 1936 the Revolutionary Communists added the term ‘Trotskyists’ to their name as a public protest against the witchcraft trials in Moscow.

[83].    Josef Hindels’ autobiography Erinnerungen eines linken Sozialisten [Memoirs of a Left-Wing Socialist], Vienna, 1996, almost completely ignores his own extensive activities for the Revolutionary Communists (see Georg Scheuer’s pamphlet Genosse Unbekannt — Der junge Revolutionär Hindels [Comrade Unknown: The Young Revolutionary Hindels], Vienna, nd).

[84].    Scheuer’s autobiography, Nur Narren fürchten nichts [Only Fools Are Not Afraid], Vienna, 1991, is an invaluable source for the history of the Revolutionary Communists.

[85].    The project of entry into the Revolutionary Socialist Youth was raised again after this first rejection (see the correspondence between the Austrian Bolshevik-Leninists, the Revolutionary Communists and N Braun (Erwin Wolf, 1902-1937, murdered by the GPU) from 10 April 1937, in VGA, carton 6, folder 45).

[86].    Bolschewik, no 6, July 1936 (DÖW 4.068/39).

[87].    Bundespolizeidirektion Wien, Pr Zl IV-10.696/36 (DÖW 5.357; VGA, carton 6, folder 45). Johann Schöffmann was a participant in the conference in Copenhagen in 1932.

[88].    Die Reichspost, 14 August 1937.

[89].    Published in Der einzige Weg [The Only Way], Prague-Zurich-Antwerp, no 1, December 1937 (DÖW microfilm 113).

[90].    A long article on the trial can be found in Das kleine Blatt [Little Journal], 14 August 1937.

[91].    ‘Trotzkismus ohne Maske’ [‘Trotskyism Unmasked’], Proletarier Jugend, no 5, 1937. For the trial of the Austrian Trotskyists in 1937, see Fritz Keller and Emmy Mäder-Rosdolsky, ‘40 Jahre Trotzkistenprozesse in Wien’ [‘Forty Years After the Trial Against the Viennese Trotskyists’], Rotfront (Austrian Section of the United Secretariat), no 8-9, September 1977.

[92].    An interview with the leader of the Revolutionary Communists at this time, Karl Thierl (born 1916), can be found in the archives of the DÖW (‘narrative history’ project, no 117). See the internal bulletin Wenn nicht jedes Mitglied… [If Not Every Member…], DÖW 4.073/116.

[93].    In exile in Moscow, Klahr became the leader of the Austrian section of the International Lenin School. He became an accessory to the crimes of the GPU when he denounced one of his tutors for deviations on the national question (see Hans Schafranek, ‘Die Internationale Lenin-Schule und der “Fall Reisberg”’ [‘The International Lenin School and the “Reisberg Case”’], Jahrbuch 1994, Vienna, 1994, pp84ff). It seems that he learnt from this incident. Incarcerated in Auschwitz concentration camp, he kept quiet about it in his discussions with the Ukrainian Trotskyist Roman Rosdolsky (see Fritz Keller, ‘Alfred Klahr in Auschwitz’, Jahrbuch 1998, Vienna, 1998, pp69ff). Klahr was murdered when he tried to escape from the camp.

[94].    This group included Christian Broda (1916-1987), who in the Second Republic became the Minister of Justice in Bruno Kreisky’s cabinet, Emmy Mäder-Rosdolsky (born 1911), the wife of Roman Rosdolsky (1898-1967), and Karl R Stadler (alias Stavarich, 1913-1987), later a widely-known historian who specialised in the workers’ movement and was the Chairman of the Social Democratic Party’s Academy.

[95].    Not content with these insults, the Communist underground press published the noms de guerre of the expelled members, almost certainly with the intention of bringing them to the attention of the police.

[96].    The origins and political positions of this group are described by Heinz Brandt, Ein Traum der nicht durchführbar ist — Mein Weg zwischen Ost und West [A Dream Which Could Not Be Realised — My Way Between East and West], Munich, 1967, pp81ff. That in such a short time a second ‘counter-revolutionary Trotskyist’ group was ‘unmasked’, one which had ‘created its own centre within the Communist Youth, editing its own literature and even using the newspaper of the organisation for its parasitic work’, created a stir as far away as Moscow. By order of the Secretariat of Executive Committee of the Communist Youth International, a certain ‘Prokofiev’ wrote two letters (23 and 28 May 1935) to the Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Communist International — Georgi Dimitrov himself. Amongst other things, he accused the German Communist Bruno Dubber, who worked as an instructor in the Communist Youth under the code-name ‘Walter’, of having ‘held back’ information about ‘the Trotskyists’ parasitic work’ — a fact which was brought into connection with his former sympathies for a Brandlerist group (Dubber was later poisoned by the Gestapo). Prokofiev claimed that the Central Committee of the party had demonstrated ‘criminal negligence’ during the whole affair (Dimitrov Secretariat 495-74-6, pp7-14, Comintern archives).

[97].    ‘Das österreichische Volk ist vergewaltigt worden…’ [‘The Rape of the Austrian People…’], Rundschau [Review], Basel, no 16, 17 March 1938, pp482ff.

[98].    LD Trotsky, ‘How the Workers in Austria Should Fight Hitler’, Writings of Leon Trotsky 1935-36, New York, 1977, pp345ff. The title of the article has been changed in this collection. It was no accident that this interview — originally published anonymously in Unser Wort [Our Word], July and September 1936 — was one of the principle points of the prosecution’s evidence in the trials against the Austrian Trotskyists in 1937. Trotsky repeated his refusal to fight for the ‘independence’ of an imperialist country in ‘A Fresh Lesson: After the Imperialist “Peace” at Munich’, Writings of Leon Trotsky 1938-39, New York, 1974, pp52ff.

[99].    ‘Unsere Taktik zur Volksbefragung’ [‘Our Tactic in the Plebiscite’] (DÖW 4086/19).

[100]Arbeitermacht [Workers Power], April 1938 (DÖW 4.085; VGA, carton 1, folder 5+6).

[101].  In an interview, Heinrich Thomas described the distribution of a leaflet produced by the circle around Franz Pavelka, but it is not sure whether this was an official statement of the Bolshevik-Leninists (Marxismus, no 10, December 1996, p88).

[102].  Trotsky commented upon the invasion: ‘There is a tragic symbolism in the fact that the Moscow trial is ending under the fanfare announcing the entry of Hitler into Austria. The coincidence is not accidental. Berlin is of course perfectly informed about the demoralisation which the Kremlin clique in its struggle for self-preservation carried into the army and the population of the country.’ (LD Trotsky, ‘Hitler’s Austria Coup Aided by Moscow Trial’, Writings of Leon Trotsky 1937-38, New York, 1985, p262)

[103]Arbeitermacht, April 1938 (DÖW 4.085; VGA, carton 1, folder 5+6).

[104].  See Ines Kykal and Karl R Stadler, Richard Bernaschek — Odyssee eines Rebellen [Richard Bernaschek: Odyssey of a Rebel], Vienna, 1976. This volume also contains the programmatic documents of the Social Democratic Left during 1933-34.

[105].  See the internal advice of the Union of Struggle, ‘Achtung! Erhöhte Konspiration!’ [‘Take Care! Intensified Clandestinity!’] (DÖW 4.086/22).

[106]. Ernst Federn, Autobiography (DÖW 8.058; VGA, carton 4, folder 26), p126. Another well-known Trotskyist, Eduard Kallischer (1893-1942), a delegate to the Viennese Soldiers’ Council in 1918, and later a member of the Executive Committee of the Comintern, was transferred from Buchenwald to Auschwitz, where he was killed by a kapo, an overseer of the other prisoners.

[107].  Born in the Sudetenland, Alois Neurath was the founder of the German-speaking section of the Czechoslovak Communist Party and a member of the Comintern’s Executive Committee. After Lenin’s death he became a follower of Zinoviev, then of Brandler, and finally of Trotsky.

[108].  The appearance of Unser Wort, edited by Johre and Fischer in Paris, on the one hand, and of Der einzige Weg in Prague, edited by Klement, the administrative secretary of the International Secretariat, on the other, was the result of a struggle for influence. Johre and Fischer were opposed to the entry of the KPD’s old Zinovievites (Ruth Fischer, Arkadi Maslow) into the Left Opposition, although this was proposed by Trotsky (see Pierre Broué’s biographical sketch of Otto Schüssler, Cahiers Léon Trotsky, no 1, January 1979). Judging by its general political line, it may be presumed that the Revolutionary Communists were involved in this factional fight on the side of Klement. This could never been proved, because Josef Hindels later refused to have any contact with those who wished to question him about his Trotskyist past.

[109].  Trotsky’s answer to Jan Frankel, dated 23 December 1938, is in Œuvres, Volume 19, Paris, 1985, pp284-5.

[110].  ‘A Review of the Conference’ published in Documents of the Fourth International (op cit, p157) states that ‘the organisations affiliated to the Fourth International in… Austria… were unable to send delegates because of conditions of distance, illegality and other adverse factors’. The French report on the conference published under the title of ‘Résumé analytique d’une partie des déliberations’, Quatrième Internationale, September 1938, declared that the ‘Communistes révolutionnaires’ were only a sympathising group (Les congrès de la IVe Internationale, Volume 1, Paris, 1978, p215).

[111]The Case of Leon Trotsky, New York, 1969, p290. Cf Der einzige Weg, no 1, December 1937 (DÖW microfilm 113). An identical position was formulated by Trotsky in his article ‘Nochmals über den Charakter der USSR’, 18 October 1939, Der einzige Weg, no 4, February 1940 [‘Again and Once More Again on the Nature of the USSR’, In Defence of Marxism, London, 1975, pp29ff].

[112].  Georg Scheuer has written a few articles on the founding conference of the Fourth International that are worth reading; ‘Auf verlorenem Posten’ [‘On Forlorn Sentry-Duty’], Extrablatt, no 9, September 1979; ‘Damals in Périgny — Die Gründung der “Vierten” — Ein Erlebnisbericht’ [‘In Those Days in Périgny: Foundation of the Fourth International: A Real-Life Report’], Neue AZ, no 29, 21 July 1989; ‘Die Gründung der IV Internationale’, Die Linke, no 19, 16 December 1988 (DÖW 20.895). The last article contains a critical comparison of the English and French reports of events, as well as his own reminiscences.

[113].  DÖW 4.090/1 (edited in London).

[114].  DÖW 4.086/31 and 4.090/2.

[115].  Georg Scheuer, ‘Der “andere” Widerstand in Frankreich’ [‘The “Other” Resistance in France’], Archiv für die Geschichte des Widerstandes und der Arbeit [Archive on the History of Resistance and Work], no 14, 1996, gives a detailed description of the political positions of the group during their underground work in France. A complete list of these newspapers was published under the title ‘Bibliographie des Documentes RK — CR Ultra Gauche’ (Les cahiers du Centre d’etudes es de Recherches sur les mouvement Trotskystes et Revolutionnaires internaux, nos 10 and 11, Paris, 1978). See also Georg Scheuer, ‘Übersicht über die Publikation der RK 1936-1945’ [‘Survey on the Publications of the RK 1936-1945’], DÖW 4.011/10.

[116].  Federn, op cit, pp244ff. See also ‘Notre camrade Liber [Marcel Beaufrère] interne depuis 2 ans a Buchenwald revient parmi nous’, La Vérité, Paris, no 86, 11 May 1945. This ‘Declaration’ has been often published, see for example Die Internationale (edited by the German GIM), no 5, October 1974, pp138ff; Critique communiste, no 25, November 1978, pp144ff (together with an article by Rodolphe Prager, ‘Les Trotskystes de Buchenwald’, pp148ff); Les congrès de la IVe Internationale, Volume 2, Paris, 1978, pp5ff. Documents with information from Karl Fischer about the background of the ‘Declaration’ are deposited in VGA, carton 6, folder 48.

[117].  See the pamphlet edited by the Union, Gegen den imperialistischen Krieg!, Vienna, 1935 (DÖW 4.086/6; VGA, carton 1, folder 4).

[118].  On the occasion of Italy’s war against Ethiopia, Otto Bauer (Austria), Theodor Dan (Russia) and Jan Zyromski (France) published ‘The International and War’ (Otto Bauer, Werkausgabe, Volume 4, Vienna, 1976, pp32ff). In this manifesto, national defence was principally accepted under the condition ‘that Socialism must try to make use of the war and transform national defence in the course of the war into a revolutionary national defence after the model of the Jacobins, the defence of a proletarian, Socialist country’.

[119].  As a consequence, the Nazis deprived him of his academic degree (see the decision of the Rector of the Deutsche Karl Universität in Prague of 25 July 1940, VGA, carton 3, unnumbered).

[120].  W Hirt [Josef Frey], Kriegstatik zum zweiten imperialistischen Krieg [The War Tactic in the Second Imperialist War], Vienna, 1939 (DÖW 4.086/7; VGA, carton 1, folder 4).

[121].  W Hirt [Josef Frey], Historischer Materialismus und Partei [Historical Materialism and Party], Vienna, May 1939 (DÖW 4.086/8; VGA, carton 1, folder 4); Otto Bauer, ‘Die illegale Partei’ [‘The Illegal Party’], Werkausgabe, Volume 4, op cit, pp347ff.

[122].  [Josef Frey], Aussprache mit Dowien, Vienna, May 1940. The Political Bureau of the Union published weekly reports from 15 December 1934 until 30 August 1941 (DÖW 4.086/10).

[123].  Documents on this conflict are collected under DÖW 4.086/11+12.

[124].  DÖW 4.087/7 and 4.090/4.

[125].  DÖW 4.087/1. In 1943, the group published Trotsky’s Stalins Verbrechen (Stalin’s Crimes) (DÖW 4.087/5).

[126]Der Vorposten [The Outpost], no 8, July 1940. When an article about the independence of small nations came to the knowledge of the group, they changed their position (see Der Vorposten, no 10, August 1940). In this connection it is worth mentioning that Trotsky insisted on this position shortly before he was killed. In an interview, he noted that the British government wanted Austrian independence only in respect of its dreams of the ‘restoration of the Hapsburgs in Austria-Hungary’. Simultaneously, he declared: ‘For Europe economic unification is a question of life and death.’ (LD Trotsky ‘The World Situation and Perspectives’, Writings of Leon Trotsky 1939-40, New York, 1973, pp151, 153)

[127].  DÖW 300+5.734b. For details of the arrest and proceedings against Franz Kascha, see Herbert Steiner, Zum Tode verurteilt — Österreicher gegen Hitler [Sentenced to Death: Austrians Against Hitler], Vienna, 1964, pp19ff, and ‘Nazi-Richter veruteilen weiter’ [‘Nazi Judges Work On’], Der jugendliche Arbeiter [The Young Worker], no 7, July 1961).

[128].  DÖW 5.037b.

[129].  DÖW 5.037b+8.477.

[130].  DÖW 1.448d.

[131].  DÖW 5.734c.

[132].  DÖW 5.734/b+8.477. Biographical details about these victims of fascism can be found also in VGA, carton 4, folder 21-28.

[133].  One detailed example of this defeatism is given by Heinrich Thomas, op cit, pp100ff.

[134].  His name was ‘Kaiser’ — he worked as a librarian in the town administration of Vienna (author’s interview with Heinrich Thomas, 3 February 1999, and Franz Drexler, 23 February 1999).

[135].  Drexler, op cit, pp16, 18.

[136].  DÖW 4.087/2.

[137].  ‘Thesen zum 10 April 1945’, Karl Liebknecht Union leaflet, Vienna, 1945 (DÖW 4.087/6). A report on the Austrian Trotskyists, dated 29 May 1945, written by Karl Fischer for the use of his comrades in France, is deposited in VGA, carton 5, folder 33.

[138].  The same revolutionary hopes were formulated in the Transitional Programme of the Fourth International of 1938 in the chapter on transitional demands in fascist countries: ‘One thing can be stated with conviction even at this point: once it breaks out, the revolutionary wave in fascist countries will immediately be a grandiose sweep and under no circumstances will stop short at the experiment of resuscitating some sort of Weimar… As soon as the movement assumes something of mass character, the democratic slogans will be intertwined with the transitional ones; factory committees, it may be supposed, will appear before the old routinists rush from their chancelleries to organise trade unions; soviets will cover Germany before a new Constituent Assembly will gather in Weimar.’ (Documents of the Fourth International, op cit, p209)

[139].  See ‘Die Konspiration in einer Organisation der Berufsrevolutionäre’ [‘Clandestinity in an Organisation of Professional Revolutionaries’], VGA, carton 5, folder 43.

[140].  In one case it can even be proved that the KPÖ’s cadre commission tried to infiltrate the Trotskyists’ rank and file (Drexler, op cit, p21). The Austrian political police were always interested in revolutionary underground activities (Thomas, op cit, p118).

[141].  See ‘Interview with Friederike Schlestak’, Marxismus, no 10, December 1996, p52.

[142].  See Paul Meihsl, Von der Selbsthilfe zur Einsatzorganisation, Vienna, 1992, p54. The Trotskyists’ illegal activities did not attract the attention either of the Social Democrats in this organisation, or of the Russian occupying power, which gave permission long before the Western Allies for the Samaritans to work legally (Interview with Paul Meihsl, 29 October 1998).

[143].  Author’s interview with Franz Drexler, 23 February 1999.

[144].  Frey’s influence could be detected in the Austrian Trotskyists’ characteristic fetish about organisation. Ernest Mandel often sneered about it: ‘Only one step further and you’ll organise a jail!’ (Cited by Drexler, op cit, p19)

[145].  ‘Ted’, also known as ‘Morgan’, may be Sherry Mangan (Terence Phelan, 1904-1961), who, whilst a foreign correspondent of the US magazine Time Fortune, fulfilled important missions for the Fourth International in Europe and South America. See Les congrès de la IVe Internationale, Volume 3, Paris, 1978, p27.

[146].  The official food ration card guaranteed from 18 March 1946 was 1200 calories, increasing to 1550 calories from 10 November 1946, see a document entitled Solidarität (Solidarity) (VGA, carton 8, folder 65), which gives a detailed report up to 1 November 1946.

[147].  At the second world congress of the Fourth International, it was even decided to consider the German and Austrian organisation as one section (‘Interview with Franz Drexler’, Marxismus, no 10, December 1996, p17). In the following period, the possibilities of the Austrian Trotskyists helping their German comrades were often discussed (see ‘Résolution sur la réorganisation de la section allemande’, Les Congrès…, Volume 3, op cit, pp324ff). It is possible that the leaflet ‘Internationale Solidarität mit dem deutschen Proletariat’ (‘International Solidarity with the German Proletarians!’), a manifesto of the European Executive Committee from December 1945, signed by the British, French, Italian, Belgium, Irish, Spanish, Greek and German sections of the Fourth International, was produced in Austria (reprinted in Les congrès…, Volume 2, op cit, pp336ff; VGA, carton 25, folder 170).

[148].  The minutes of the conference mentions three comrades who had died in concentration camps or at the front: Jost, Kopecki, Kurt (Erste Konferenz der IKÖ — Protokoll vom 30 November 1946, VGA, carton 10, folder 65). Interviews with Heinrich Thomas on 3 February 1999 and Franz Drexler on 23 February 1999 by the author revealed that ‘Jost’ was Margarete Jost (1916-1943), who is noted in all known documents (DÖW 95, 126, 153, 1.338, 1.358, 5.732 ) as a courier of the KPÖ for the region south of Vienna. A link with the Trotskyists continued through her sister, who was a member of the International Communists.

[149]Der Spartakist, December 1946-January 1947. An English version is in the International Secretariat of the Fourth International, Internal Bulletin, special issue Mid-February 1948; VGA, carton 3, folder 16.

[150].  Letter of the IS to the IKÖ leadership, ISFI, Internal Bulletin, Mid-February 1948, pp1ff.

[151].  Letter of the MAS to the leadership of the IKÖ, 4 September 1947, ISFI, Internal Bulletin, Mid-February 1948, p24-5.

[152].  IKÖ leadership to the leadership of the MAS, 30 September 1947, ISFI, Internal Bulletin, Mid-February 1948, p26-8

[153].  Letter of the MAS to the leadership of the IKÖ, 4 September 1947, op cit, p25.

[154].  IKÖ leadership to the leadership of the MAS, 30 September 1947, op cit, p27.

[155].  He returned after the re-establishment of diplomatic contact between Austria and Russia in May 1955. In the following years, two Austrian courts came to the decision that Karl Fischer was not a victim of fascism under the definition given by the Austrian laws, and that he would not receive an amnesty for his convictions in Austro-fascist trials. Under Austrian laws, a victim of fascism is usually defined as a person who was illegally engaged for the ‘restoration of an independent and democratic Austria’; in the opinion of the judges Trotskyists did not fight for this goal, but ‘first of all against Social Democrats and Communists’ (the trial verdicts can be found in DÖW 10.624/4). Reports made by Karl Fischer about his experiences in the Gulag to his political friends are in VGA, carton 5, folder 34. An obituary of Fischer by his political companions was published in Arbeit und Wirtschaft [Work and Economy], edited by the Austrian Trade Union Federation, Vienna, no 5, May 1963 (VGA, carton 6, folder 50).

[156].  Material about this quarrel is in VGA, carton 10, folders 65 and 76.

[157].  VGA, carton 4, folder 29.

[158].  For Frey’s conflicts on the international scene, see Les congrès…, Volume 3, op cit, p25. See also his article ‘Le tactique dans la lutte pour les mots d’ordre transitoires’, Quatrième Internationale, Juin-Juillet 1946, pp4ff.

[159].  Oliver Rathkolb (ed), Gesellschaft und Politik am Beginn der zweiten Republik — Vertrauliche Bericht der US-Militäradministration aus Österreich [Society and Politics at the Beginning of the Second Republic: Secret Reports of the US Military Administration], Vienna-Cologne-Graz, 1985, p159.

[160].  Ibid, p154.

[161].  Johann Böhm, the President of the union federation, frankly formulated it afterwards: ‘We did not make the strike official on the grounds that we reckoned it to be inevitable, rather we were conscious of the fact that to refuse to support it would have meant the breakdown of the whole shoe-making industry.’ (Johann Böhm, ‘Nochmals zum Schuharbeiterstreik’ [‘Once Again on the Shoe-Makers’ Strike’], Solidarität [Solidarity, edited by the Austrian Trade Union Federation], no 54, June 1948, p3) We recall in this connection the traditional slogan of the Austrian Social Democrats: ‘It’s better to go the wrong way together, than to walk the right way alone!’

[162].  Flugblatt der Schuharbeiter [Leaflet of the Shoe-Makers], 1948, reprinted in Marxismus, no 10, December 1996, p182.

[163]Wiener Zeitung [Vienna Journal], 4 April 1948.

[164]Informationen der Zentral-Streikleitung, Folge 13 [Information from the Central Strike Committee, issue 13], 12 April 1948 (VGA, carton 3, folder 15).

[165].  See Böhm, op cit, p3.

[166].  For details see ‘Schuharbeiterstreik erfolgreich beendet’ [‘Shoe-Makers’ Strike Successfully Concluded’], Die Arbeit [Work, edited by the Communist Fraction within the Austrian Trade Union Federation], no 2, February 1948, p38. For the importance of the experiences of the Social Democratic leadership of the trade unions during the shoe-makers’ strike and their reaction, see Hans Prader, Die Angst der Gewerkschaften vor dem Klassenkampf [How Trade Unions Were Scared of the Class Struggle], Vienna, nd, pp93ff.

[167].  Böhm, op cit, p3. The principal positions of the Austrian International Communists in relation to the shoe-maker’s strike can be found in Der Spartakist, April 1948 (VGA, carton 21, folder 142).

[168].  It must be said that not one single document has been discovered by historians that validates the accusations of the leadership of the Socialist Party and the Austrian Trade Union Federation. At no time between 1945 and 1955 did the KPÖ try to organise a putsch. Quite the contrary; during October 1950, for example, the Communist leadership worked hard to hold back the strike wave in the interest of the Soviet occupying power, which was concerned about the great economic impact it was having in the factories under Soviet administration. But one has to say clearly that the Communists’ behaviour sometimes made the slanders about a putsch credible, and not only for furious anti-Communists. What could be the sense of the foundation of miniature Social Democratic and Christian-Social Parties and even a league for former Nazis controlled by fellow-travellers, if not to substitute them for the existing political organisations as part of the process of transforming Austria into a ‘Peoples Democracy’?

[169]Der Spartakist, September-November 1950 (VGA, carton 21, folder 142).

[170].  Sometimes for reasons of security, a Proletarische Vereinigung Österreichs [Austrians Proletarian Union] acted as editor (VGA, carton 18, folder 121-124, pamphlets of the group in folder 125).

[171].  Documents about the rather strange behaviour of Frey in his negotiations with Marxist Action can be found in VGA, carton 5, folder 35.

[172].  In 1953, sharp differences over Stalinism and organisational matters divided the Fourth International into two public factions, the International Committee of the Fourth International and the International Secretariat of the Fourth International. This division lasted until the reunification of the Fourth International held in 1963.

[173].  See the obituary of Josef Frey in Die Internationale [The International], Vienna, no 2, April-June 1957.

[174].  The last issue of Arbeiterblatt was published in 1973.

[175]Der Spartakist, November 1947 (VGA, carton 21, folder 141).

[176]Der Spartakist, special edition January 1950 (VGA, carton 21, folder 143).

[177]Der Spartakist, March 1949 (VGA, carton 21, folder 143). At the third world congress of the Fourth International in 1951, the majority of the Austrian section submitted an ‘amendment’ against entrism, which was rejected (Les congrès de la IVe Internationale, Volume 4, Paris, 1978, pp214ff).

[178].  Cited in Mitteilungsblatt der Opposition [Communication Bulletin of the Opposition], no 8, August 1950 (VGA, carton 3, folder 16).

[179]Beschluß des IEC [Decision of the IEC], VGA, carton 10, folder 80. The representative of the Austrian International Communist majority voted for this decision, declaring simultaneously that his behaviour did not mean that the Austrian section accepted the existence of the oppositions or the division of the section’s property.

[180]Der Sozialist [The Socialist], July 1950 (VGA, carton 3, folder 18).

[181].  ‘La situation mondial et les tâches de la IVe Internationale’, Les congrès…, Volume 3, op cit, pp118ff.

[182].  Some of the entrists made a ‘career’ within the Social Democracy, regardless of whether they stayed in or departed from the International Communists. Franz Pavelka became one of the leading officials of the commerce and transport workers’ union. Franz Drexler was elected stellvertretender Bezirksvorsteher (Deputy Head) of the first district of Vienna. Heinrich Thomas became the shop steward of the librarians within the Vienna town administration, and a leading union branch official. Hildegard Wondratsch (1929-?) became a Gemeinderat (municipal councillor) in Vienna during 1978-86.

[183].  None of the Trotskyist organisations became fully legal organisations. Periodicals and leaflets of the International Communists were published under the personal responsibility of Franz Modlik. The Trotskyists’ decision to maintain a semi-legal status was a further expression of the organisational and political immobility we have mentioned above.

[184].  The Austrian governmental system has been described by contemporary political scientist as ‘strange’ and ‘pseudo-parliamentarian’ (JH Herz and GM Carter, Government and Politics in the Twentieth Century, New York, 1962, p44).

[185].  The Austrian People’s Party won 2.19 million votes in the elections in 1966, 48 per cent of the votes cast; the Social Democratic Party won 1.93 million votes, 43 per cent. The membership of these parties in 1966 stood at 785 149 and 702 192 respectively.

[186].  See FM [Franz Modlik], ‘Zu den Wahlen in Österreich’ [‘Remarks on the Elections in Austria’], Die Internationale, no 1, May-June 1956; FM, ‘Vorzeitige Wahlen in Österreich’ [‘Elections Brought Forward in Austria’], Die Internationale, no 1, April 1959; FM, ‘Brüche im Gefüge der Koalition’ [‘Frictions in the Framework of the Coalition’], Die Internationale, no 4, December 1961.

[187].  ‘Some comrades stayed in the movement for decades. If something gave us hope through those years — it was the struggles and victories of the colonial revolution.’ That’s how Franz Modlik in his Memoires (op cit, p147) precisely described this escapism.

[188].  ‘Rundschreiben des PB vom 15 Juli 1948’ [‘Circular Letter of the PB, 15 July 1948’] (VGA, carton 8, folder 65).

[189].  VGA, carton 3, folder 3.

[190].  VGA, carton 7, folder 62.

[191].  Extracts have been published by the Austrian newspapers Neues Österreich [New Austria], 5 June 1956; and Presse, 8 June 1956. One can only speculate about the reasons for this discretion. Perhaps the concrete contents of Austrian neutrality were not clear enough at this time.

[192].  ‘Interview with Franz Drexler’, Marxismus, no 10, December 1996, p24.

[193].  See Meihsl, op cit, pp77ff.

[194].  ‘Interview with Franz Drexler’, op cit, p24. In a personal interview with the author on 23 February 1999, Franz Drexler could remember only one contact with an Hungarian, who lived in Vienna, some years after 1956 and who may have written the article ‘Neue Opfer des neostalinistischen Terrors in Ungarn’ [‘New Victims of the Neo-Stalinist Terror in Hungary’]. Drexler’s general judgement that ‘Trotskyism played no rôle for them’ differs from the opinion of the historian Günter Bartsch in his article ‘Die Wiederbelebung des Trotzkismus in Osteuropa’ [‘Rebirth of Trotskyism in Eastern Europe’], in which he argues that after 1956 a Union of Hungarian Revolutionary Socialists was founded in exile as an organisation affiliated to the International Committee of the Fourth International, and that Balasz Nagy, one of the leading officials of this group, was elected as Secretary of an East European organisational committee founded after a conference held on 27 December 1969-3 January 1970 (Osteuropa [East Europe], no 9, September 1972, p684).

[195].  Sozialistische Jugend-Internationale [International Union of Socialist Youth] (ed), Jugend und Kommunismus [Youth and Communism], Vienna, nd, pp viiiff.

[196].  See Erwin Breßlein, Drushba! Freundschaft — Von der Kommunistischen Jugendinternationale zu den Weltjugendfestspielen [From The Communist Youth International to the World Festivals], Frankfort, 1973, pp107ff.

[197].  Author’s interview with Franz Drexler, 23 February 1999.

[198].  Leaflet ‘Zurück zu Lenin’ [‘Back to Lenin!’] (VGA, carton 6, folder 57). The leaflet was produced by the bureau of the Fourth International, and probably written by Ernest Mandel (interview with Franz Drexler, 23 February 1999).

[199].  Author’s interview with Franz Drexler, 23 February 1999.

[200].  Ibid.

[201].  Author’s interview with Heinrich Thomas, 3 February 1999. In both cases the interviewees could not remember the names.

[202].  With astonishing frankness all these facts were reported by Karl Blecha, at this time Chairman of the Socialist Students, and later Central Secretary of the Social Democratic Party, in ‘Helfer der gerechten Sache’ [‘Helpers of a Just Cause’], Arbeiter-Zeitung [Workers Journal] 2 July 1982. Although it seems evident that the Austrians played an important rôle in the international network supporting the FNL, their contribution is not given proper attention in Claus Leggewie, Kofferträger — Das Algerien-Projekt der Linken [Porters — The Left’s Algerian Project], Berlin, 1981.

[203].  Interview with Karl Blecha, 27 October 1998. The Austrian left-wing Social Democrats did not even support the campaign to free Michael Pablo and Sal Santen (‘Freiheit für Sal Santen und Michael Pablo’ [‘Freedom for Sal Santen and Michael Pablo’], Die Internationale, no 1, February-March 1961). Collecting money for the solidarity fund established for the assistance of Pablo and Santen was thus carried out solely by the Trotskyists. Heinrich Thomas personally brought the money to Pablo’s wife in Amsterdam (author’s interview with Heinrich Thomas, 3 February 1999).

[204].  Modlik, op cit, p147.

[205].  See ‘Résolution sur la section autrichienne’, Les congres…, Volume 4, op cit, pp327ff. Details of the unification process can be studied by the documents deposited in VGA, carton 11, folder 86.

[206].  Since the group’s periodical Die Internationale was controlled by people who were anti-Pablo, the International Communists withdrew their support from it in 1962, and published Arbeiterkampf.

[207].  ‘Interview with Friedrike Schlestak’, Marxismus, no 10, December 1996, pp61ff.

[208].  From DÖW, Jahrbuch, 2000, pp40-4. This appendix has been translated by Esther Leslie.

[209].  Charge papers of the General state prosecutor dated 27 April 1943 against Dr Heinrich Schüller, inter alia, on the grounds of high treason (DÖW 20.000, pp264ff). In the following text, the short biography by Eric Wegner (which is apparently based on Trotskyist eyewitness reports) from the journal Marxismus, no 10, December 1996, is drawn on repeatedly as a source without explicit citation.

[210].  Charge papers

[211].  During 15 February 1934-31 October 1934 and from 30 April 1936 until mid-July 1937, Franz Pavelka was incarcerated on account of his political activities (DÖW 16.413/7). After 1945, he was active as a leading official of the transport workers’ union and the Socialist Freedom Fighters (Jean Maitron and George Haupt (eds), Dictionnaire biographique du mouvement ouvrier international — l’Autriche, Paris 1971, pp221ff).

[212].  Franz Pavelka, Memoiren, Volume 1, p22 (located in the Institute for Social History, Amsterdam).

[213].  Extract from the Strafakt OLG Vienna, Ojs 216/43 (DÖW 20.000, pp264ff).

[214].  Ibid, p2.

[215].  The arrest of Schüller and his co-defendants was also noted in the daily report of the Gestapo, no 2 dated 4-7 December 1942 (DÖW 5733), published in DÖW (ed), Widerstand und Verfolgung in Wien 1935-1945, Volume 2, Vienna, 1975, p210.

[216].  Extract from the Strafakt.

[217].  Charge report.

[218].  Extract from Strafakt.

[219].  Ibid.

[220].  Prisoner order, Order on the Disposal of Inmates, 3 May 1945 (DOW 20.000, pp264ff).

[221].  The Trotskyists were Franz Drexler, Martin Gludovatz and Friederike Schlestak. The personnel composition of the proponent committee was revealed by Paul Meihsl, historian of the Arbeiter Samariter Bund, in an interview on 27 October 1998. The names of the members of the later leadership committee can be read in his book From Self-Help to Eisatzorganisation. The History of the Arbeiter-Samariter Bund, Vienna, 1992, pp53ff.

[222].  Interview with Paul Meihsl, 27 October 1998.

[223].  Charge report.

[224].  Interviews with Karl Blecha, 27 October 1998, Reimar Holzinger, 11 November 1998, Paul Meihsl, 27 October 1998; and letter dated 23 May 1976 from Karl Kraupas.

[225].  Interview with Paul Meihsl on 27 October 1998. Permission for the DÖW to view the court proceedings was not granted.

[226].  DÖW 20.000, pp264ff.

[227].  Interview with Reimar Holzinger, 11 November 1998.

[228].  See Karl Blecha, ‘Helfer der gerechten Sache. Wie Österreicher Legionäre “abzogen”’ [‘Twenty Years of Algeria — The Rebirth of a Revolution’], AZ Journal, 2 July 1982.

[229].  On the activities of the Fourth International in support of the FLN, see Claus Leggewie, Kofferträger — Das Algerien-Projekt der Linken in Adenauer Deutschland, Berlin, 1984, pp104ff.

[230].  Letter dated 23 May 1976 from Karl Kraupas.