33. Stalin’s Catastrophic Advice to Germany’s Communists
Germany’s communists viewed themselves as the country’s sole anti-fascist party, and referred to the Social Democratic Party, SPD, as “social fascists”. They were prodded along by Josef Stalin, who advised Germany’s communists that the social democrats were a greater threat than the Nazis. Thus, in one of history’s greater ironies, when real fascists appeared, Germany’s communists made an opportunistic common cause with the Nazis to take down the SPD, along with the Weimar Republic.
When the Nazis, at the height of their parliamentary popularity, won 38% of the Reichstag, the communists, who controlled 13% of the seats, joined them to form a temporary majority to dissolve the Reichstag. In the months of chaos that followed, Hitler got himself appointed Chancellor. One of his earliest acts was to ban the Communist Party. Soon, the Nazis founded their first concentration camp, Dachau, to house communists and social democrats. They probably spent their free time blaming each other for the mess in which they found themselves.