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Ernst Thälmann, Hero of Deutschland!

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Post 25 Jul 2005, 02:44
Over the past few months I have been studying and reading about the KPD leader Ernst Thälmann, I have grown to admire him and idolise him. He was executed by the Nazis after long imprisonment and was portrayed as a hero to East Germans. I have this short article from wikipedia that shows a small ammount of information about him.

Ernst Thälmann (April 16, 1886—August 18, 1944) was the leader of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) during much of the Weimar Republic. He was arrested by the Gestapo in 1933 and held in solitary confinement for eleven years, before being shot on Adolf Hitler's orders in 1944.

Political career
Born in Hamburg, Thälmann was a Social Democrat Party member from 1903. Between 1904 and 1913 he worked as a stoker on a freighter. He was discharged early from his military service as he was already seen as a political agitator.

One day before his call up for military service in World War I on 14th January 1915, he married Rosa Koch. Towards the end of 1917 he became member of the USPD. On the day of the German Revolution, 9th November 1918, he wrote in his diary on the Western Front, "...did a bunk from the Front with 4 comrades at 2 o'clock."

In November 1920 the USPD merged with the KPD. In December Thälmann was elected to the Central Committee of the KPD. In March 1921 he was fired from his job at the job centre due to his political activities. That summer Thälmann went as a representative of the KPD to the 3rd Congress of the Comintern in Moscow and met Lenin.

On 18th June 1922 an assassination attempt was made on his flat. Members of the fascist organisation Consul threw a hand grenade into his ground floor flat. His wife and daughter were unhurt; Thälmann himself only came home later.

Thälmann participated in and helped organise the Hamburg Uprising of 23rd to 25th October 1923. The uprising failed, and Thälmann went underground for a time.

After the death of Lenin on 21st January 1924, Thälmann visited Moscow and for some time maintained a guard of honour at his bier. From February 1924 he was deputy chairman of the KPD and, from May, Reichstagsmember. At the 5th Congress of the Comintern that summer he was elected to the Comintern Executive Committee and a short time later to its Steering Committee.

On 1st February 1925 he became chairman of the Rote Frontkämpferbund (RFB), the defence organisation of the KPD. On 30th October he became Chairman of the KPD and that year was a candidate for the German Presidency.

In October 1926 he supported in person the dockers' strike in his home town of Hamburg. He saw this as solidarity with an English miners' strike which had started on 1st May and had been good for the business of Hamburg Docks as an alternative supplier of coal. Thälmann's argument was that this "strike-breaking" in Hamburg had to be stopped.

On 22nd March 1927 Ernst Thälmann took part in a demonstration in Berlin, where he was injured by a blow from a sword.

At the 12th party congress of the KPD from 9th to 15th June 1929 in Berlin-Wedding, Thälmann steered a clear course of confrontation with the SPD after the events of "Bloody May", in which 32 people were killed by the police in an attempt to suppress demonstrations which had been banned by the Interior Minister, Carl Severing, a Social Democrat.

On 13th March 1932 Thälmann was once again candidate for the German Presidency, against a Paul von Hindenburg standing for re-election. The KPD's slogan was "A vote for Hindenburg is a vote for Hitler; a vote for Hitler is a vote for war.". Shortly after this Thälmann proposed to the SPD the formation of an antifascist coalition as a united front against the Nazis.

When the Nazis (NSDAP) gained power on 30th January 1933, Thälmann proposed that SPD and KPD should organise a general strike to topple Hitler, but this was not achieved. On 7th February a Central Committee meeting of the already banned KPD took place in Königs Wusterhausen, near Berlin, where Thälmann emphasised the necessity of a violent overthrow of Hitler's government. On 3rd March 1933 he was arrested in Berlin by the Gestapo.

His trial - which he said he looked forward to - never took place. Thälmann's interpretation was that his two defence lawyers, both Nazi Party members (whom he nonetheless trusted to a certain extent) at some point gathered that he planned to use the trial as a platform to appeal to world public opinion and denounce Hitler, and had told the court. Furthermore, Thälmann assumed that after the failure of the trial of Georgi Dimitrov for complicity in the Reichstag fire, the Nazi regime did not want to allow the possibility of further embarrassment in the court room.

For his 50th birthday on 16th April 1936 he received greetings from around the world, including from Maxim Gorky and Heinrich Mann. That same year the Spanish civil war broke out, and two battalions of the International Brigades named themselves after Ernst Thälmann.

Ernst Thälmann spent over eleven years in solitary confinement. On 17th August 1944 he was transferred from Bautzen prison to the concentration camp Buchenwald, where on 18th August on Hitler's orders he was shot and his body immediately burned. Shortly after the Nazis announced that together with Rudolf Breitscheid, Thälmann had died in a bomb attack on 23rd August.

After 1945, Ernst Thälmann was - along with other leading communists who had been killed such as Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht - widely honoured in East Germany, with many institutions (eg schools, streets, factories) named after him. His name was also given to the East German pioneer organisation, the Ernst Thälmann Pioneer Organisation. A member of the organisation would pledge that "Ernst Thälmann is my model" and that "I promise to learn to work and fight [struggle] as Ernst Thälmann teaches". In the 1960s Cuba named a small island, Ernst Thälmann Island, after him.

In his time as head of the KPD, Thälmann closely aligned the German Communists with the hegemony of the Soviet Communist Party in Moscow. Supporters of a more autonomous course were sidelined. This has been criticised in particular from the German left. Clara Zetkin, together with Rosa Luxemburg one of the leading German women communists, described Thälmann as "uninformed and not educated in theory", and as caught in "uncritical self-deception and self-infatuation", which "borders on megalomania". The strategy of the KPD during the Weimar Republic, of treating the SPD as its main political enemy, is often seen as having sharply weakened anti-fascist forces and as having thereby contributed to the Nazis' rise to power.

I read many items and have tried to find if he had his own 'school' or 'type' of Marxist ideology, I have not been able to find any but I have taken the liberty to call myself a Thälmannist as he (I believe) is the most heroic marxist in history (other than Marx himself ofcoarse)
Post 25 Jul 2005, 03:09
Very interesting, this Ernst Thalmann. Although calling yourself a thalmannist is rather silly, since (according to the article) he struggled for Marxism - he had no literacy of his own - which would make you a Marxist. Or atleast, a Marxist-Thalmannist.
Post 25 Jul 2005, 05:34
Babuef, I would like to correct you. First to have a following of any form. You need a large base of people who identify with one's teachings and methods. Not anyone can just declare themselves an idealogy.

Second, the idealogy of classifaction of every single favouring or liking of an individual needs to be critically examined. Did this person advance Marxism-Leninism, marxism, potato chopping, science, psychology, capitalism, to a further more universial understanding? A better practise to a degree that others would not have thought of it automatically with a little research?

These furtherings of understandings and furtherings of practise need then to have the followers as I have first pointed out for it to be considered a new method or idealogy. Do they?

If the answer is no then this is hardly a place for it to be considered an idealogy or a furthering of school of thought.

Lenin, himself did not consider himself to advance the understanding of marxist-leninism to a further degree.

I really think the idea of dividing everyone's idealogy up into little pie pieces is rather silly. There are justifactions when for instance, Trotskyists who become quite annoying, form factions, and become quite sectarian.

Anyways I must wake up in 5 hours. Peace and potatoes.
Post 25 Jul 2005, 06:31
I am sorry I refuse to idolize anyone it takes away from the communist princeipals...although i will admit he was a outstanding man. and a outstanding communist
Post 25 Jul 2005, 09:33
Hmm, I just idolise him as all... His works and his life were just so interesting and he was so dedicated to the communist ideal. Oh and Babeuf could you make me a sig that kinda includes an East German theme? Pretty Please!
Post 25 Jul 2005, 21:37
Good explanation comrade ryan. I remember you saying something like that when that Lugov guy said he invented lugovism.

To Fletcher - I'm currently working on Eyeflash's signature, but i'll come around to yours.
Post 25 Jul 2005, 23:17
Oh cool! Thanks!
Post 18 Jan 2006, 08:11
Comrade Thalmann's story brings tears to my eyes. He is a saint.
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