A. Thalheimer


The Russo-German Treaty

(26 April 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 31, 26 April 1922, pp. 237–238.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

I. Introduction

The following are the important moments in the history of events that preceded the Russo-German treaty concluded in Genoa, The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk already included the recognition of the Russian Soviet Government. Thus, while the Entente were until now in a treatyless relation towards Soviet Russia, the German government was bound to it by treaty since 1918. [1] Shortly before the outbreak of the November Revolution the Kaiser’s government broke with Soviet Russia, and the Republican government, the Ebert-Scheidemann-Haase Cabinet tremblingly followed in the footsteps of the Entente – against Soviet Russia. The repeated negotiations and the notorious participation of the various governments of the German Republic in the various White Guard adventures against Soviet Russia, are only too well-known. It is not the fault of the various governments that displaced one another in the German Republic, that these disgraceful services were not greater; it was due exclusively to England’s and France’s distrust of Germany. Both England and France feared lest the German mercenaries demand too high a price, and lest they build up for themselves a military base in Soviet Russia, from which they might operate against the West. It is the German Social Democrats who bear the full responsibility for this criminal and idiotic policy that has been pursued against Soviet Russia since 1918. [1] The Independent Socialists also bear partial guilt for this black past. The Communist Party of Germany has carried on a persistent and untiring struggle against the active or passive betrayal of the Russian Revolution from the very beginning. The Soviet Republic has left no stone unturned in the attempt to create a modus vivendi with Germany. All that was accomplished was the institution of business and trading missions. In spite of the fact that the Entente continually stepped on Germany’s corns, the various German Republican governments maintained their toadying relationship with the Entente up to the very last. At every phase of the German negotiations, the German Government did not make a step without humbly informing England and asking for its most gracious permission. Mr. Rathenau, the present Minister of Foreign Affairs, in particular, has made himself ridiculous and showed himself bereft of all self-respect in his idiotic courtings of Britannia. When Herr Rathenau assures everyone, both those who want to as well as those who do not want to hear it, that he must “loyally” inform his English masters up to the very last, it must be taken at its face value as a sad self-recommendation.

While the negotiations with Soviet Russia were still going on, the German Government had the audacity to perform the vicious sleight-of-hand trick of signing the well-known agreement drawn up by the Paris Expert Commission. This demand that Soviet Russia make compensation for the nationalized factories and that it submit itself to a trusteeship of the Entente. Even while the Berlin negotiations with the Russian Soviet delegation were still going on, the German government held on to this demand with a tenacity worthy of a better cause. It is absolutely necessary that it be made dear to the whole international working-class that until recently, a government in which

the German Social Democracy played a leading role fought hand in hand with the imperialist robber states in the attempt to deprive the Russian Revolution of its most important social and political conquests, namely, of the possession by the proletarian state of the most important industries of the country. It must be indelibly impressed upon the working-class of the whole world that a so-called “workers’ party” has insisted pig-headedly up to the very last that the victorious proletarian revolution compensate the capitalists for the expropriated factories, mines, etc. Only under the unbearable pressure of the Entente, only after it had been excluded from the negotiations between the Entente and Soviet Russia, only after it was exposed to the danger of seeing the Entente enter into an agreement with Soviet Russia at the expense of Germany, was the German Government compelled to conclude a treaty with Soviet Russia, a treaty which protects it against disadvantages as against other robber states, but in which it formally renounces nothing in the matter of compensation for the expropriated factories.

II. The Most Important Stipulations of the Treaty

  1. The renewed de jure recognition of the Soviet Republic and the resumption of normal diplomatic relations.
  2. The mutual waiver of war-reparations.
  3. Germany to receive most favored nation treatment in all trading agreements, tariff-treaties, etc., which are entered into with other capitalistic states.
  4. The waiver of all damages occasioned by the revolution, the same on condition that the Entente states do likewise.
  5. The obligation of both governments to promote the resumption of mutual trade relations.

The significance of this treaty for Soviet Russia is more of a moral nature than a material one. After the treaty with Poland and with the Baltic States, this constitutes the second break in the iron ring formed about Soviet Russia by the united imperialistic robber powers. The material significance of this treaty for the reconstruction of Soviet Russia depends wholly upon the ways and means the German Government and the German industrialists adopt in the execution of the treaty. As for the German Government this is its first hesitating half-step towards the recovery of its freedom of action, and towards the dissolution of the slave-chains which it voluntarily accepted from the Allies.

As to the international significance of the treaty, the frantic rage of the Entente governments offers sufficient proof. The phrases of the first day at Genoa, promising a basis of equality to all participants and an earnest effort to reconstruct Soviet Russia and world economy in general, have been unmasked by the reception accorded to the Russo-German Treaty by the Allied governments. If a treaty which seeks to reestablish a normal capitalistic relation towards Soviet Russia (and this to an insufficient degree) is characterized as a slap in the face of the Conference, it must become very clear to every worker that the Conference thereby openly admits that its actual intentions towards Soviet Russia are simply those of disgraceful robbers. Hence they cry, “German has broken the solidarity of the robbers; therefore crucify it! Germany has waived all claims upon the insane reparations from Soviet Russia; therefore crucify it! Germany has had the audacity to forget for a single moment that it is an Entente-colony; Crucify!” All of the robber treaties of Versailles are until this very day inviolable for the Genoa Conference. But the treaty between Germany and Soviet Russia must receive the sanction of the great imperialistic robbers.

III. The German Parties and the Treaty

The particular attention of the international working class must be called to the fact that of all the German parties, the Social Democratic Party is the only one which took an outspoken attitude against the treaty. Its slavish fear of the Entente, its blind raging hatred of the Russian Revolution, render it impossible tor the German Social Democracy to gather at least as much courage and reason as the bourgeois parties did. The German Social Democracy fears all contact with the Soviet Republic as it fears death, because it knows that a party which depends upon the support of the workers cannot long continue to pursue a counter-revolutionary course, nor can it successfully fight against the Communist Party of its own country if it is to get the support of a workers’ state in its foreign policy. With a tragic heart the bourgeois parties greet the treaty as the first step by which Germany regains her initiative and freedom of action, they do not forget to point out, however, that the government must therefore proceed against the German Communists so much the more strictly.

We German Communists, however, have not the slightest faith that the Wirth-Rathenau Government or that any other bourgeois coalition government will be able to pursue the path outlined by the Russo-German pact. The history of 3½ years of the foreign policy of the bourgeois republic forbids any such belief. We shall expose those parts of the treaty which betray the as yet powerless imperialistic appetites of the German Government, to open and ruthless criticism. But to the German workers we say: it is your duty to see to it that this first half step never be retracted, but that it be followed by other steps in the direction and alliance with Russia.

IV. The Treaty and the International Working Class

It is clear that it is the duty of the international working class to adopt a reserved and critical attitude towards the rectitude and constancy of the present German Government in its relations to Soviet Russia, and to combat as energetically as possible the hypocritical and vicious attacks directed by their respective governments against the treaty, and also to demand that other countries as well renounce their robber reparation demands and give up their attacks against the sovereignty and self-determination of the Russian people. Now is the time emphatically to demand the calling of a World Proletarian Congress, to take place as soon as possible This Congress should oppose the robber states now at Genoa, with the mass pressure of the world proletariat. Should it happen (as it very well may) that these robber states break up the Genoa Conference then it will be absolutely necessary to mobilize the working masses as quickly and as thoroughly as possible.

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Footnote by MIA

1. “1916” in the printed text, but it is clear from the text that it should be “1918”.

Last updated on 5 September 2019