Beyond the Celebration Anniversary : Capitalism at Work : The Bombing of Dresden - February 1945 - Communism #10
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With each bourgeois commemoration, the masters of historical falsification expend all their talent in reinforcing their hold over the amnesiac mass of citizens. In 1989 the bourgeoisie celebrated, in the course of the bicentenary of the so-called "French Revolution" (1), the purified reign of democracy and its sacrosanct "Human Rights": "Liberty" to sell your labour power, "Equality" in exploitation and "Fraternity" between classes. During the fall of the Berlin Wall they made great preemptory clarion calls about "the victory of democracy over totalitarianism", "the failure of communism" and even "the end of history"... in short, these are ideal occasions for reinforcing the enlarged and structured framework of democracy as the only possible outcome for the future of humanity.
The sickening ceremonies of commemoration of the "Liberation" followed the same strategy. These campaigns of promotion of democracy addressed themselves directly to isolated individuals, the basic kernel of this society, in order to integrate them, to fuse them together, to gather them behind the defence of the State. Even if today the gigantic media shows, organising lasers and noise in the street or in a packed stadium, have replaced the great Nazi masses of yesteryear, like the Nuremburg rallies and torch-lit marches with their compact, disciplined crowds in orderly ranks... all these mobilisations contribute very well and in an identical fashion to the same irrational and collective communion of adhesion to the fictive community of capital. Did not Hitler affirm, in his megalomaniac pretensions, just like "our" experts and economists today, that he had put an end to the existence of classes for at least a thousand years? In the manipulation of crowds and their irrational emotions, anti-fascism plays on the same scale as fascism. During the great collective masses, the bourgeois project affirms itself openly as was it is: a logic of the market tempered in steel, excluding any other approach to the future of humanity apart from that of the capitalist mode of production. Obtaining the adhesion of the isolated individual to the Nation, to the Community of citizens requires that the war which can be seen every day between those who possess everything and those who have nothing but their labour power must be definitively hidden. So every critique is banished, every calling into question of the official historiography is equivalent to "revisionism". Here we can see how the fascist and anti-fascist myths have as their principal function the gathering of citizens into a fraternisation with the State and must serve as an outlet to reassure each person as to their future and above all the war-like future which capital is preparing.
Concealed behind this unanimous concert, the real causes and objectives of the war, which put the planet to fire and blood from 1939 to 1945, along with the causes of all the other wars, are more than ever hidden by a vast media campaign which promotes "the horror of the camps", "Nazi cruelty", "the excesses of war"... On one side the "goodies", on the other the "baddies". Apart from this truth there is nothing! The "anti-fascists" (2) quickly wash away their own massacres in the foul-smelling waters of the horrors of their fascist competitors. The bourgeois polarisation of fascism/anti-fascism functions as the two jaws of the same vice in organising the conscription of proletarians into two enemy camps, ending up inexorably in the preparation of a new "final solution" to social antagonisms: WAR!
In this struggle between the anti-fascist and fascist camps no one had the monopoly in the domain of "horror" and "barbarism". The two competitors, thirsting in the frantic search for new possibilities of profits, both responded to the same necessities imposed by capital to take destruction and death to a level never seen before. The totalitarian reign of democracy, the highest expression of capitalist civilisation, is thus crystallised in these moments of human prehistory that constitute the concentration camps, nuclear bombs, battle-fields, massive bombardments, war taken to extremes. It is under these terms that there materialised, to a degree unknown until then, a complete negation of the human species by class societies. We shall see here that, concerning this atrocious war which flaunted itself from 1939 to 1945, the British, American, Russian, "allied", anti-fascist bourgeois really had nothing to envy the fascists for in their capacity to plan death.
In this text we will illustrate, on several occasions, the bourgeoisie's capacity to consciously realise the central objective of war for the reorganisation of capital: the destruction of productive forces and the destruction of the proletariat. Using various examples, we show how the massive destruction of the proletariat is carried out with impressive cynicism and consciousness. Does this imply a machiavellian viewpoint of history? Or the abandonment of dialectical materialism? No - and this for various reasons.
The first is that, above all, the bourgeoisie realises its class objectives and subjective expressions of the capitalist social system by seeking to liquidate its immediate enemy in war: by destroying its infrastructure, logistics and by the liquidation and demoralisation of its troops and working population, so indispensible on the productive front.
Secondly, the worldwide bourgeoisie has drawn lessons from past wars and revolutions and every bourgeois fraction is haunted by the spectre of Russia in 1917. Whilst revolutionaries at that time were hoping for a resurgence of the class out of the catastrophe of the war, all capital's military and civilian strategists knew that what they had to fear most was proletarian revolt in capital's most disorganised cities, in particular in countries such as Italy and Germany in which the army was disintegrating (as was also the case in Russia, despite the fact that this state was on the "winning" side of the war).
Lastly, although certain bourgeois fractions have always been aware that their system needs imperialist war, particularly the destruction of large sections of the proletariat in order to impose a cycle of successful accumulation, the bourgeoisie cannot voluntarily change the course of history. The bourgeoisie is not the subject of history, but always and necessarily a puppet of capital carrying out its determinations independently of consciousness, always relative, by one or another protagonist.
In summary, the bourgoisie as a class does not do what it wants, but what its social system historically obliges it to do. This does not imply that we are ignoring that certain fractions of the dominant class act with consciousness and determination to maintain their social system. They always bear it in mind that, beyond their immediate enemy (the opposite side in imperialist war), it is a trap for their historical enemy (the proletariat) and these fractions do not spare any effort in their machiavellian preparation for its massacre.
Terror From the Sky
From 1940, the British strategy put in place by "Bomber Command", the Head Quarters of those flying heavy bombers, had as its objective the massive scattering of death and destruction on German towns. To justify putting in place such a veritable strategy of terror, to ideologically cover its launch, the British bourgeoisie used the bombings of London and Coventry during the Autumn of 1940 and those of Rotterdam by their German competitors, deliberately exaggerating their extent. With the ideological misinformation thus orchestrated, the brass-hats were able to put all the science of killing at the service of sick capitalism. In March 1942, they affirmed:
"An offensive of extensive bombing could sap the morale of the enemy provided they are directed against the workers' districts [our emphasis] of 58 German towns, each one having a population of 100,000 inhabitants. Between March 1942 and the middle of 1943, it should be possible to make a third of the total population of Germany homeless."
(Final Report of Professor Lindemann from 30 March 1942 at the request of Bomber Command)
While the bourgeoisie has the advantage of being so clear amongst themselves, a second discourse was very rapidly put into place with a view to reinforcing, amongst the citizens of the "free world", the belief that the anti-fascist camp was organising the war in a humanitarian way. It was obviously a question of presenting "barbarism" and cruelty as being the unique prerogative of the opposing camp. Mystification feeds off itself - it turned out to be necessary to reinforce its impact amongst the crowds submitted to the war project of the bourgeoisie in their confiding that:
"... Bomber Command only bombs for purely military purposes and only aims at achieving military objectives, any suggestions of attacks on working class or residential areas we reject as absurd and an attack on the honour of the airmen who sacrifice their lives for their country..."
However, despite all the lies intended to camouflage the sinister reality, nothing was going to stop the bourgeoisie, with all its characteristic cynicism, from specifying more precisely the aim of these bombings: systematic carnage.
"... it is clear that the aiming points are to be the built-up areas, not, for instance, the dockyards or aircraft factories... This must be made quite clear if it is not already understood."
(Report of the Chief of Air Staff Sir Charles Portal, 14 February 1942)
After three years of putting in place various bombing strategies, the degree of precision of terror reached a very appreciable level of effectiveness. At this point, more than a hundred four-engined aircraft would take part in successive waves of bombing of a single town. The first highly bloody illustration of this reality was the bombing of Wuppertal in May 1943, where the military objectives concentrated in the Elberfeld district were at first systematically avoided in favour of the workers' residential districts of Barmen.
But the anti-fascist pole, like its fascist competitor, came to surpass itself in the organisation of horror. Capital, suffering from devalorisation as if from a cancer, couldn't find provisory relief in any other remedy than the growth of its destructive capacity. It is in effect during war and by war that this dying system reaches the high point of the overturning and complete revolutionising of its productive base, permitting it thus to create new conditions for assuring a new phase of valorisation. Physical destruction pure and simple of the means of production is only at bottom the pursuit of the commercial war that the various competitors abandon themselves to even more than usual. For open war earns its keep not only in the area of development of the productive forces, but also in its extension in the military economy. It should not be surprising therefore that that epoch was one in which new inventions, new technologies, new concepts saw the light of day. It is still and always in death that the white-coated worshippers of Mammon surpass themselves. While the V1 rocket was being patiently elaborated on the fascist side, in July 1943 the bombardment of Hamburg by anti-fascist aircraft marked the inauguration of the era of fire-storms. It was by the massive utilisation of incendiary bombs that the death of more than 50,000 people was to be caused, along with 40,000 wounded on the same occasion. The centre of the town was entirely destroyed and, in three nights, the total number of victims in Hamburg reached, without entering here into a polemic of macabre figures, the number killed on the British side during the whole duration of the war. After this it was the turn of Kassel where, in October 1943, 10,000 civilians would perish as if in a giant brasier. The fire-storms materialised the capacity of Capital to refine and rationalise death to an ever greater extent:
"... the sudden linking of a great number of fires, the air above was heated to such an extent that a violent updraught occurred which, in turn, caused the surrounding fresh air to be sucked in from all sides to the centre of the fire area. This tremendous suction caused movements of air of far greater force than normal winds. In meteorology the differences of temperature involved are of the order of 20° to 30°C. In this fire-storm they were of the order of 600°, 800° or even 1000°C. This explained the colossal force of the fire-storm winds... No sort of civilian protection measure can ever contain a fire-storm once it has emerged. They are clearly monsters created by man [sic, we would say Capital!]which no man can ever tame."
(Report of the Police President of Hamburg of the bombing of July 1943)
The only response to this unprecedented human genocide was to be found in the concrete shelters where the inhabitants crammed themselves, like frightened animals, in the hope of escaping the explosions and flames. But in these bunkers, transformed into gigantic pressure cookers, men, women, children... were done in inexorably by lack of oxygen or by being cooked, literally like meat on a grill.
"When the rescue teams finally, at the end of several weeks, forced their way into the bunkers and the hermetically sealed houses, the heat created inside had been so intense that there was nothing left of their occupants: they found only a fine layer of undulating grey dust in one bunker, they could only estimate the number of victims as being between 250 and 300 (...) The abnormal temperatures in these bunkers were also attested to by the pools of melted metal which were originally the pots, pans and cooking utensils kept in the houses." (3)
Faced with the scale of damage caused to civilian populations, questions began to be asked. It was impossible to unload all those bombs without causing horrifying damage to civilians. Invariably the anti-fascist British government responded to this with the same assurance and the same arrogance:
"... no instruction has been given to destroy dwelling houses ... the targets of Bomber Command are always military."
(Secretary of State for the Air Sir Archibald Sinclair, 31 March 1943)
Then, in the world of lies erected into a system of a single permitted thought, the useful idiot of capital continues to swallow and reproduce the dominant discourse. The infernal round of bombers, carrying in their holds the future promise of good business, once more carried out the aim of foretold carnage, and returned again. During 1944, perfecting their technique to the point where not a single square meter of an inhabited area could escape the incendiary bombs, raids on KÃ¶nigsberg (end of August), Darmstadt (September), Braunschweig (October), Heilbronn (December), Bremerhaven etc. claimed many tens of thousands of victims, caught in the jaws of gigantic brasiers. Ideological misinformation remained total and, day after day, hundreds of bombers, dropping thousands and thousands of bombs, took off from Britain for Germany. For the man in the street this represented the adequate response to the horrors of the other camp.
While public opinion mumbled the stupidities that its masters concocted for it, on both sides of the front, others arranged to remove all traces of the desired carnage, thought out and organised with full knowledge of what would happen. Thus, the American General Eaker declared at the same time:
"We should never allow the history of this war to convict us of throwing the strategic bomber at the man in the street."
All the same, fifteen days before this declaration, a raid carried out by American bombers on Berlin had caused the death of 25,000 people, something that this brass-hatted jackal did not ignore. You can't help thinking again about the lies and cynicism which prevailed during the whole of the Gulf War (4), and discovering there a long and solid tradition, not only in the US Army, but equally in all of the bourgeoisie past and future. Lies which have no other aim than to mask the gigantic effort which leads this capitalist society to perfect its arsenal of terror and destruction. War represents for it a gigantic living laboratory of technological experiments and above all a gigantic source of profits.
If the fascist camp came to profit from putting in place a great number of scientific discoveries such as the V1 and V2 rockets, thanks to the concentration camp slaves, what can be said about their direct competitors? Bombs which were always bigger, always more powerful and still more destructive were systematically developed. Thus, faced with the ineffectiveness of traditional bombs, which rarely hit their target, armour-piercing bombs were developed, so that a maximum number of proletarians could be massacred. They must have known that during bombardments, when proletarians buried themselves in subterranean dwellings or cellars, the explosion of a classic bomb on impact with a building would only take place most of the time at the highest part of the building. The genius of the bourgeoisie therefore came to struggle to get the better of the bomb fodder, who were not allowing themselves to be massacred so easily. Consequently, the scientific scum, who never miss a dirty trick, invented an armament capable of finding the human flesh where it had hidden itself. It is logical that the bombs should explode in the deepest rat holes. So, during the first impact, the new bomb doesn't explode. It goes through the roof, penetrates the floorboards and only explodes once its real objective is reached: the reinforced cellars.
The Everest of Terror: the Bombing of Dresden
The torrent of deaths following the aerial bombardments, with workers as the principal victims, was to reach its paroxysm in Dresden, in February 1945, in the raid which was the most terroristic and the most incomprehensible of the whole war - incomprehensible to those who still had illusions in the humanity of the imperialist, anti-fascist camp. From a strictly military point of view, nothing could justify the additional massacre which took place when Germany was already defeated. Nothing, if it wasn't the immediate announcement of the coming end of the blood bath and the obvious desire of the victorious fraction of the bourgeoisie to destroy everything which still could be destroyed.
Dresden did not have any strategically vital industry, nor any important military installation. And it is, moreover, for this reason that the town constituted a refuge for hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the bombings and the advance of the Soviet army, another joyous army of massacrers. Blinded by the propaganda of the Allies, persuaded that Dresden would never be bombed, all these refugees crammed themselves into the numerous hospitals of the town and stormed the schools, the railway stations and so on. The British government did not ignore these facts, and this is true up to a point that some military chiefs of Bomber Command expressed serious reservations as to the military validity of such an objective. In effect it was something difficult to swallow, even for the pilots, that a few weeks before the end of the war, when on all fronts the German troops were in open retreat and disarray, that there could exist any military objective in the organisation of the biggest massacre of the whole war. To this, it was drily replied that Dresden constituted a priority objective: in the midst of the Yalta conference, it was a question of putting themselves in a position of strength, thanks to the bombings, in the face of the rapid advance of Russian troops.
The bombing of the town took place on 13 and 14 February 1945. The bourgeoisie wasn't unaware that there were close to a million and a half people, of which a great number were refugees from the province of Silesia, many injured, prisoners of war, labour deportees... The greatest tonnage of bombs ever used was thus unloaded over two nights: close to 3000 tonnes, 650,000 incendiary bombs fell on the town, producing the biggest fire-storm of the whole war. The fire winds which consumed the town travelled at from 200 to 300km per hour. Dresden would burn for eight days during which the glow of the fire would be visible from 300 kilometres! Some parts of the town burned so strongly that it would only be several weeks later that the cellars could be entered. The whole panoply of the most murderous bombs was used: phosphorus, napalm... People, veritable human torches, threw themselves into the Elbe where they continued to burn, the flow of fire which descended from the centre of the town towards the Elbe reached the river and continued to destroy. Decapitated corpses, victims of "anti-personnel" fragmentation bombs, littered the streets. Of 35,000 inhabited buildings, only 7,000 remained standing. The whole centre of the town disappeared over an area of 18km². Most of the hospitals were destroyed, while the railways were hardly touched and neither the military airfield nor the various factories round about were targeted.
The intervention was carried out in a methodical fashion: those who conceived it had even taken account of the wind so that the fire could develop with a horrifying rapidity. On the night of 13 and 14 February 1945, more than a thousand British bombers came to sow terror. The next day, 450 American Flying Fortresses took up the relay in unloading 771 tonnes of incendiaries, of which a great number were delayed action. This "novelty" allowed Bomber Command to assure for itself an even more impressive bag. These bombs, which didn't explode until several hours after the aeroplanes had passed, would kill not only those who tried to put out the fires, but all those careless enough to flee from the burning town. The balance sheet which was without contest one of the highest expressions of Civilisation and Progress surpassed the figure of 250,000 dead, almost all civilians, to say nothing of the tens of thousands of wounded, burned, dying, maimed, insane...
"... ten days after the bombing, a group of prisoners had cleared the steps leading into a basement, but they refused to go in. Something out of the ordinary had happened inside. The men stood sullenly around round the basement entrance, as the civilian Director, wishing to set an example, marched down the steps to the cellar, an acetylene lamp in his hand. He was reassured by the lack of the usual smell of decay. The bottom steps were slippery. The cellar floor was covered by a twenty centimetre deep liquid mixture of blood, flesh and bone; a small high-explosive bomb had penetrated four floors of the building and exploded in the basement. (...) They learned from the caretaker of the block that there must have been 200 to 300 people in the cellar on the night."
(Hans Voigt, director of "Abteilung Tote", the "dead person's bureau" charged with cleaning the city of corpses)
Because of the risk of an epidemic the centre of town was declared to be off-limits. Each day thousands of bodies, or at least what was left of them, were dragged into the central square of the town, to be, after a last attempt at identification, crammed onto pyres of 400 to 500 corpses to be burnt. Close to 70,000 victims were thus incinerated on the Altmarkt as a protective measure. For the first time in the history of the war the survivors were not numerous enough to bury the dead. The apocalypse hit this region like a thunderbolt. For several weeks a horrible smell of putrefaction mixed with that of charred human flesh hung over the ruins and the surrounding area. Packs of dogs roamed the rubble looking for corpses. Ten of thousands of ghostly figures wandered the roads in search of refuge, with haggard eyes and in rags, the veritable living dead. It is almost impossible with these words, or with figures, to be able to describe in its deepest reality this veritable apocalypse. The vocabulary which we use to communicate today is too poor to express the disgust, the hatred that is inspired in us by such a systematic, methodical, scientific organisation of terror, of death! And the disgust which we feel towards these greatest acts of the anti-fascist bourgeoisie is all the deeper because of the way that they bury all critique against themselves by denouncing precisely... the systematic, methodical, scientific organisation of terror as being the monopoly of their competitors. Here capital has hit hard, very hard.
But the horror that the bourgeoisie is capable of deploying is without limit. The Allied hunters went on to machine-gun the columns of refugees who were fleeing from the town put to fire and blood, just as help was arriving from the neighbouring areas. Ordering the bombing of Chemnitz in the days following, the Allied commander didn't mince words, declaring to the pilots:
"The reason you are going there tonight is to finish off the refugees who managed to escape from Dresden."
Like a pack intoxicated by the smell of blood, these guard dogs of capitalism cried out for new orgies of blood-letting to assuage their hunger for more corpses. The anti-fascist alliance had decidedly nothing to learn from the fascist coalition when it comes to the refinement with which they assured the survival of this moribund civilisation. In 18 months of bombings, 45 of the 60 principal German towns had been completely destroyed, razed, crushed. At the very least, 650,000 proletarians, the majority civilians, were to perish in the course of the terror raids, without even mentioning those who, having escaped this hell, would spend the rest of their lives in hospitals and lunatic asylums. It is truly on mounds of corpses that the victory of the anti-fascist camp would be celebrated on 8 May 1945.
A beautiful "Victory" indeed, that of having hidden their own crimes under the mattress of the horrors of the competitor. A beautiful "Victory" celebrated with lanterns on a field of corpses!
The Capitalist Necessity for War
The more Capital develops the more all its contradictions grow, are exacerbated. It is not by chance that war always exists in one part of the world or another, that it regularly extends itself in a more and more generalised form. The struggle to maximise profit, competition, commercial war and war in general, are as essential to the capitalists as breathing is to a human being.
It is a matter of fact that this society cannot live without war. To express it very schematically here (5), the reason is that the mass of capital grows more rapidly than the possibilities of its valorisation. Thus, cyclically, an overproduction of capital occurs, having as a consequence that the valorisation of one part of social capital excludes the valorisation of another part of the same world social capital. The closure of factories, or the scrapping of other fixed capitals, is never enough to re-stabilise the situation. A generalised depression regularly occurs, leading inevitably to a general devalorisation of all existing capital. When Capital encounters no possibility of profitability, it must "normally" lead to the generalised bankruptcy of the less profitable capitals. These, like all the others, organise themselves to resist this inexorable law of capital. The organisation of some or other of them, at various levels of centralisation, with the aim of carrying out this war in the best possible circumstances (associations, cartels, national states, blocs or constellations of states) renders war periodically effective: it presents itself as a partial solution to the problems of world capital. In destroying an important part of capital, and therefore in preventing the functioning of it, war ameliorates the general conditions of the whole of world social capital. War thus permits it to relaunch, on a new basis, a new cycle of valorisation. On the other hand, this solution only makes the problem even more insoluble for the capitalists to come. A new phase of overproduction of capital, even more important than the preceding one, intervenes, making necessary the violent devalorisation - by destruction - of always more means of production.
The so-called "Second World War" does not escape from these invariable laws of capitalism. It is not in the head of some Hitler, any more than in the head of a Stalin or a Truman, that we can find an explanation for this gigantic carnage, but only in the entrails of this society that many, above all amongst the proletariat today, find it difficult to recognise for what it is: a class society. In place of this evidence, the bourgeoisie presses to reinforce the stupidities that it fabricates for its public opinion, showering the brave citizen, that sinister homo democraticus, with commemorations, military parades, stories recounting the psychology of such and such an idiot useful to capital, with the aim of making him accept the unacceptable: participation in war to save its moribund system.
... and the proletariat in all this
In this text so far we have spoken of the proletariat as an object of history, as fodder for factories, cannons and bombs. We cannot publish this text without at least mentioning the tendencies for our class to impose itself as a subject, fighting for its own interests, imposing communism as the only affirmation of our humanity. To say "the proletariat is a class which is exploited AND revolutionary" (K. Marx), is not to say that it is either exploited or revolutionary, that it is either the object or the subject of history, but that it is dialectically both. Even if it was defeated at the end of the war, if revolution was not the order of the day, if it was enroled into the bourgeois polarisation fascism/anti-fascism, and above all if it was crushed by the bombs and the terror, the proletariat, like the old mole of Marx, nevertheless always manifested itself to some extent as subject, through its struggles, and in opposition to those who try to reduce it to a simple object of exploitation.
As we have seen already, far from being limited to a question of interbourgeois competition, the war strategy of extermination aims to massively liquidate a maximum of excess productive forces for the valorisation needs of this society of death. But we cannot limit our analysis to this single aspect of the question. The elimination of battalions of proletarians, those thousands of tonnes of bombs dropped on working class areas, materialise the capacity of our class enemy to preemptively hit every area of proletarian tension. If the proletariat of the years 1939-45, atomised within the inter-bourgeois polarisations, failed more or less to recognise itself as the proletariat, the bourgeoisie, for its part, was able, beyond its ideological divergences, to hit it wherever the danger appeared, in the impersonal interests of its World State.
It was also therefore so as not to see a replay of the preceding insurrectional wave, that the Allied aircraft had as their mission the bombardment, during the terrorist raids, of not only the German industrial centres, but also the biggest population centres, massacring and terrorising always more proletarians. Far from being blind, these bombings were on the contrary very selective: it was above all working class areas which were the targets of Allied carpet bombing.
This annihilation was "justified" all the more urgently from the beginning of 1943, when, amongst concentrations of proletarians in Europe, struggle and resistance to exploitation once more appeared. Numerous bourgeois myths perpetuated the idea that the social situation at the end of the war was peaceful, or at least it was bathed in the consensus of "liberation from fascism". We want to affirm against the current that, in the whole of Europe at that time, under the blows of material necessity, threats of proletarian conflagrations caused the spectre of social revolution to reappear. A real movement seemed to reemerge, putting forward everywhere the satisfaction of our needs.
To be sure, 1945 was not 1918!... and most of the few nuclei of revolutionary militants of the period, who managed to maintain a classist course in the storm of counter-revolution, had to a large extent overestimated the perspective for struggle, concluding in a mechanical way that a proletarian uprising was imminent in Germany as in 1918. The sites of struggle which did appear were rather feeble and above all were marked by more than 25 years of counter-revolutionary terror: 25 years in which the communist avant-garde had been liquidated. Over more than two decades the bourgeoisie had perfected its cycle of counter-revolution and a good number of militants of the wave of 1917-21 had disappeared into the concentration camps, had been massacred on the fields of horror, or had even been enroled into the Stalinist parties and ground down by the "Party of Order".
The world bourgeoisie, taking some lessons from the revolutionary wave, had given itself such material means so that it no longer had to confront a disintegrating army, a defeatist proletariat which was turning its arms against its own generals, against its own bourgeoisie, able to transform itself into new battalions of revolution. Thanks to the means of destruction qualitatively and quantitatively superior to the previous phase of this class war, the bourgeoisie made it their duty to take on class liquidation, class "genocide", not merely of millions of proletarians in uniform but also hundreds of thousands of "civilian" proletarians.
It is not by chance either that the terror bombings were systematised at the moment when important strikes broke out in Germany (and also in Italy, France, etc. (6)) and when desertions in the German army began to increase. This is an expression of the complementarity of the "rival" fractions of the bourgeoisie in anti-proletarian repression. The working class was caught between the frying pan and the fire: on one side the terror coming from the sky and, on the other, the firing squads who force the strikers to continue "war production" for the "final victory".
At the end of the so-called "Second World War" the bourgeoisie closed off a cycle of war by the temporary neutralisation of the proletariat. The two world wars were two moments of a gigantic anti-proletarian massacre extending from 1914 to 1945 and interrupted in 1917-18 by the proletariat in struggle. It is only on this level of abstraction of the reality of capital that we can make sense of events which, for bourgeois historians, prove to be incomprehensible, to be the malicious work of an "evil genius": Hitler, Stalin, Roosevelt, Churchill or some other... This is the idealist personification of history which obscures the real, open, anti-proletarian significance of all wars, whether they are anti-fascist, "for national liberation", "for the defence of socialism" or some other anti-human justification.
The end of the war therefore came to be a field of extraordinary experiments for the bourgeoisie. They applied a number of lessons learnt from the preceding struggles undertaken against the proletariat. More precisely, it was so as to prevent the renewal of the revolutionary situation which had marked Germany at the end of the so-called "First World War" (1914-18), it was to preventatively suppress any proletarian uprising, that the bourgeoisie came to orient its activity around three principal axes in 1945:
Liquidating the proletarians able to constitute a threat and thus physically crush any attempt at proletarian resistance in the cities;
in this sense to completely invade Germany and occupy it militarily using the Allied armies charged with upholding order; the German government is dissolved, the Allied armies enter Berlin;
maintain outside Germany for several months, even several years, the imprisoned soldiers (interned on a massive scale) so as to avoid reproducing the upsets of November 1918; clearly the prospect of demobilised "German" soldiers returning to their destroyed homes made an impression on the world bourgeoisie to the point that not only did they send hundreds of thousands of these soldiers into the Soviet Gulag, but they also interned more than 400,000, some of them in Britain up until 1948! Others were sent to camps in France, in Belgium, or on the other side of the Atlantic, to the USA (7).
The proletariat, as we affirm in our thesis No.26 (see: "Theses of Programmatic Orientation") has only one war to call for and to undertake: the social war against the whole of the bourgeoisie.
"Workers have no homeland, one cannot take away from them what doesn't belong to them. Any form of defence of the nation, under whatever pretext is an attack on the worldwide working class. Under the reign of the bourgeoisie, all wars are imperialist wars with two or more opposing factions or groups whose interests are world capital. Proletariat wages and claims only one war: social war against the whole bourgeoisie. Independently of the direct intentions of the protagonists, the essential role of wars is to affirm Capital and to smash objectively and subjectively the subversive class within this society. In this sense, wars are never merely wars between National States, between the forces of "national liberation" and the "imperialist" forces, or wars between "imperialists", they are essentially wars of Capital against communism.
Against all interbourgeois antagonisms between "progressive" and "reactionary" factions, "fascist" and "anti-fascist" factions, "left wing" and "right wing" factions,... the logical continuity of which are imperialist wars, the proletariat has no other solution but the intransigent struggle for its own class interests against all sacrifices, against all truce, all national solidarity: revolutionary defeatism, turning its weapons against its "own" direct exploiters, against its "own" direct oppressors. The proletariat's aim is to transform through the international centralisation of this community of struggle against Capital) capitalist war into a revolutionary war of the world proletariat against the world bourgeoisie."
It is this long thesis that we are reaffirming in conclusion of this text by recalling that, from Dresden to Rotterdam, from Hiroshima to London, from Stalingrad to Warsaw, the only "Victory" which mattered in 1945 was, definitively, that of the bourgeoisie. In 1945 capitalist exploitation was able to endure on the basis of the crushing of the proletariat. A moment of the perpetuation of this defeat was concentrated in the credit accorded to the "Allied", "anti-fascist" crimes, under cover of the publicity given only to the crimes of the other camp. It is good to remember that: fascist or anti-fascist, the dictatorship of Capital is democracy.
We call on our readers not to remain passive but to struggle with us against the amnesia with which the bourgeoisie attack us. We ask them not only to criticise this text, but also to make material available to us which allows us to better understand the history of our class and its struggle in the years 1939-45. We shall return to all this in succeeding issues.
1. If we distance ourselves from the dominant terminology concerning this question, it is because for us the years 1789-1793 were essentially revolutionary years from the point of view of the affirmation of the proletariat as a revolutionary class. Where official History heaps praise on the coming of the Enlightened bourgeoisie, we can find recuperation, the diversion of a proletarian struggle to the benefit of the reinforcement of the capitalist mode of production, whose revolution didn't take place in 1789 but throughout the XIVth, XVth and XVIth centuries, through the generalisation of the world market. We will return to this question shortly - we are already circulating a series of theses within our group.
2. We consider as definitive that the only real enemy of fascism, or of any other Bonapartist attempt put in place by the bourgeoisie to crush our class, is the revolutionary proletariat. But the revolutionary struggle against fascism cannot be separated from the struggle against all the other fractions of the bourgeoisie, including those claiming to be anti-fascist, who show nothing more than a desire to maintain capitalist exploitation under another form and under the dictatorship of other managers. In this sense, "anti-fascism", proclaimed by these factions, is most of the time only the facade of anti-fascism which only makes use of this terminology from opportunism with the aim of more easily confronting a capitalist competitor. Its "anti-fascism" is a banner under which it is occasionally easier to regroup its forces for its war. We only have to recall that Stalin started off choosing an alliance with Hitler and fascism, before taking up an alliance with Churchill and Roosevelt. The bourgeoisie is no more the enemy of fascism than any other form of capitalist management: the proletariat constitutes the only real grave-digger of the capitalist dictatorship, whether its attire is fascist, anti-fascist, popular, republican, anti-imperialist or Bonapartist.
3. This quotation is taken from the book by David Irving, "The Destruction of Dresden", PAPERMAC, 1985.
4. See our text "War or Revolution" in Communism No.7, April 1992.
5. For a more important development of the question, we refer our readers to our texts "Capital: totalité et guerre impérialiste" in Communisme No.33, May 1991, and "Contre la guerre impérialiste: la révolution communiste mondiale" published in our central review then called Le Communiste No.14, July 1982.
6. We can recall, as we have already done in our review Communisme No.41 of December 1994 ("Nous soulignons: '50 ans de paix... cela se fÃªte!'") that the important class struggles developed not only - as is better known - in Northern Italy ((43-45) and in Greece, but also in Germany, in Belgium, in France, in Yugoslavia, even in Russia. And as if by chance, while the concentrations of workers in places such as Milan, Turin and Rome had never been bombed during the war, it was when Italy fell into the Allied camp, and particularly during the outbreak of strikes, that the Allied air forces felt the necessity to bomb these regions, to restore social peace through terror.
7. Is it really necessary to point out here that we are talking about measures only taken against proletarians? As for the generals, the Nazi officers, the industrialists, the scientists... apart from some odd scumbags who were liquidated during the great spectacle of the Nuremburg trials, most of the German bourgeoisie would be promoted to high positions in the opposing camp (scientists like Von Braun, for example), would be imprisoned for a while (which would in any case be less unpleasant than being subjected to forced labour like most of the soldiers), then released to set out on a capitalist career in the "new" Germany. So, when H. M. Schleyer was executed by the Red Army Faction, we learned that this boss of German bosses had in fact been an old Nazi dignitary.
But how was such a massacre explained at the time?
Reading Le Soir, the big official Belgian daily paper, is edifying. The information about the bombing of Dresden was given two days later, in a little box coincidentally between the obituaries and the list of the day's shows. There we can read that 1,400 RAF bombers have attacked Dresden with the petrol refinery of Bohlen as their target (we should recall that this refinery remained intact). On the first page there's not a single trace of the 250,000 dead of Dresden. They are crushed under information about... the Yalta peace agreements. A little lower down, by contrast, a little commentary concludes: "also it is only by the brutal force of arms that they will finish off that race of fanatics"! The demonisation of the enemy and the discourse of peace. On one side, purely and simply covering up the crimes of the victors, on the other side: the methods of disinformation of the "Allies" hardly differ from those of the "Nazis", no more than the methods still used today to justify the Gulf War or to hide the attendant proletarian insurrections, for example. In all cases the disinformation has the same function: to chain proletarians to a nation and deny the identity of interests of the proletariat across all frontiers and all nations.
Additional notes on the bombing of Dresden
Following the publication of the article "Le capitalisme Ã l'oeuvre: le bombardement de Dresde - février 1945" in Communisme No.42 (French), a reader sent us some additional information which we have published below. This comrade's notes confirm what we stated in the article, illustrating that there is nothing to choose between the atrocities of the so-called anti-fascists and the fascists. Whenever it is a question of annihilating masses of proletarians who are either of no use to the State or are a danger to social peace, War and Science work together in perfect harmony. The class in whose service they are working then shows its true face: barbarity. Whatever democratic colours it wears -Nazi, stalinist, liberal... - bourgeoisie always means torture.
"It is of greatest importance to fight against the lies justifying the '39-'45 war, as stressed by the article on the bombing of Dresden. However, it seemed to me that the article had omitted certain details which could be very useful in showing that the barbarity was in no way confined to one side.
The bomb attacks on Hamburg, Kassel, Darmstadt and Brunswick had not been specifically designed to provoke storms of fire, which had been an unexpected outcome of the bombing. However, in Dresden, firestorms were the aim. This is evidenced by the choice of bombs and the way in which they were used: explosive bombs were dropped first, smashing windows and roofs and then incendiary bombs (which made up 75% of the bombs carried by the first wave bombers), spreading fire throughout the whole city, which, by then, had airstreams blowing violently across it.
The second wave aimed at destroying the rescue brigades that were trying to save any that could be saved, the fire brigades trying to put out the fire and the convoys of trucks bringing aid. The rescuers were not only the target of the fighter-bombers, but of a whole wave of bombers who had been given specific official orders to destroy them. The fighters' official mission was to go in and `finish the job' after the bombers had completed their attack.
(...) The Dresden-Klotzsche aerodrome (where hundreds of planes remained firmly on the ground during the whole bombing) (...) was totally spared by the bombers flying over it. Thus a military objective, easily within reach of the bombers that were supposed to attack only military targets, was left intact.
During the Nuremberg trial (and while denouncing the Nazies' horrors), the US government (instigators of the trial) integrated some Japanese scientists into their research teams on bacteriological and chemical weapons. These scientists had already acted extremely ruthlessly in occupied Chinese territory, carrying out experiments in their research units on prisoners-of-war and on the Chinese population on a large scale. They had tested the limits of human resistance to cold and heat, means of spreading diseases amongst civilians (provoking a plague epidemic in the region of Nankin by dropping containers full of contaminated fleas) and other similar experiments. When Japan surrendered, the Americans (who were lagging behind Russia in the field of bacteriological and chemical warfare research) camouflaged their rehabilitation of these criminals by sacrificing their Nazi alter-egos, who were less advanced in such research. Therefore, the Nazi scientists were not made to pay for the horror of the experiments they carried out, but for the fact that they had failed to produce enough results!"