Page 126

Chapter IX

The German Labour Party

ONE DAY I RECEIVED AN ORDER FROM MY SUPERIORS TO INVESTIGATE THE NATURE of an association which was apparently political. It called itself 'The German Labour Party' and was soon to hold a meeting at which Gottfried Feder would speak. I was ordered to attend this meeting and report on the situation.

The spirit of curiosity in which the army authorities then regarded political parties can be very well understood. The Revolution had granted the soldiers the right to take an active part in politics and it was particularly those with the smallest experience who had availed themselves of this right. But not until the Centre and the Social-Democratic parties were reluctantly forced to recognize that the sympathies of the soldiers had turned away from the revolutionary parties towards the national movement and the national reawakening, did they feel obliged to withdraw from the army the right to vote and to forbid it all political activity.

The fact that the Centre and Marxism had adopted this policy was instructive, because if they had not thus curtailed the 'rights of the citizen'--as they described the political rights of the soldiers after the Revolution--the government which had been established in November 1918 would have been overthrown within a few years and the dishonour and disgrace of the nation would not have been further prolonged. At that time the soldiers were on the point of taking the best way to rid the nation of the vampires and valets who served the cause of the Entente in the interior of the country. But the fact that the so-called 'national' parties voted enthusiastically for the doctrinaire policy of the criminals who organized the Revolution in November (1918) helped also to render the army ineffective as an instrument of national restoration and thus showed once again where men might be led by the purely abstract notions accepted by these most gullible people.

The minds of the bourgeois middle classes had become so fossilized that they sincerely believed the army could once again become what it had previously been, namely, a rampart of German valour; while the Centre Party and the Marxists intended only to extract the poisonous tooth of nationalism, without which an army must always remain just a police force but can never be in the position of a military organization capable of fighting against the outside enemy. This truth was sufficiently proved by subsequent events.

Or did our 'national' politicians believe, after all, that the development of our army could be other than national? This belief might be possible and could be explained by the fact that during the War they were not soldiers but merely talkers. In other words, they were parliamentarians, and, as such, they did not have the slightest idea of what was passing in the hearts of those men who remembered the greatness of their own past and also remembered that they had once been the first soldiers in the world.

I decided to attend the meeting of this Party, which had hitherto been entirely unknown to me. When I arrived that evening in the guest room of the former Sternecker Brewery--which has now become a place of historical significance for us--I found approximately 20-25 persons present, most of them belonging to the lower classes.

The theme of Feder's lecture was already familiar to me; for I had heard it in the lecture course I have spoken of. Therefore, I could concentrate my attention on studying the society itself.

The impression it made upon me was neither good nor bad. I felt that here was just another one of these many new societies which were being formed at that time. In those days everybody felt called upon to found a new Party whenever he felt displeased with the course of events and had lost confidence in all the parties already existing. Thus it was that new associations sprouted up all round, to dis-