Germany

Some 250,000 activists from all over Germany marched through the city of Berlin last Saturday in protest against the envisaged free trade agreements TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) and CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement). This event had been called by a broad alliance of over 100 organisations and groups—including trade unions, ecologists and environmentalists, consumer and welfare organisations, farmers associations, the Greens and DIE LINKE (Left Party), as well as many other left-wing and pressure groups.

The City of Frankfurt was the scene of a 25.000 strong anti-austerity demonstration on Wednesday, March 18, the day of the inauguration and grand opening gala of European Central Bank's (ECB). The new skyscraper attracted crowds of protestors from all over Germany. As the protest took off the crowds moved into the stornghold of many German and international banks. The construction of the new ECB premises in

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96 years ago, on January 15, 1919, the famous German revolutionaries and Marxists Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were murdered by reactionary "Freikorps" forces who had formed a counter-revolutionary conspiracy with right-wing social democratic (SPD) leaders to drown the revolution in blood. (See the book Germany from Revolution to Counter-Revolution by Rob Sewell, available here)

Nearly three months after the General Election in Germany on September 22 Chancellor Merkel was confirmed by the members of the Bundestag (German parliament) as head of the new federal government for another four year term just a few days before Christmas. The new cabinet is based upon a coalition of Merkel's Christian Democratic Alliance (CDU/CSU) and the social democratic SPD.

German chancellor Angela Merkel and her Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU) celebrated a sweeping victory in the German federal elections held last Sunday. On the basis of an 7.8 percent swing the CDU/CSU scored over 18 million votes and a share of 41.5 percent – their best result in national elections for 20 years. Yet due to the German system of proportional representation this massive swing was not big enough to secure an overall majority of seats for the CDU/CSU in the new Bundestag, the federal parliament based in the old Reichstag building in Berlin. 

According to the Bundesbank, German GDP grew by 3.6% in 2010. This comes after the steep 4.7% drop in 2009, when the recession hit Germany hard. Unemployment has gone down from the 10.5% peak of 2005 to 7%. It now stands at just under three million. Volkswagen is taking on 3,000 workers, BMW and Daimler 400 each. Lufthansa has announced plans to take on an extra 4,000 staff this year. The same picture can be seen in chemicals, electronics and other industries. When the rest of Europe is facing lay-offs and sluggish growth, what is different about Germany?

The crisis of capitalism is creating an unstable social and political situation in Germany. Tensions are emerging within the coalition government, elected only last year. Most interestingly, this is having a radicalising effect inside DIE LINKE, which is being pulled both left and right, with some of the leaders attracted by coalition politics while the more radical ranks react against and seek an alternative to the left.

On February 13 German neo-Nazis tried to exploit the commemoration of the death of 25,000 civilians in Dresden during heavy Allied carpet bombing. However, the reaction of German workers, youth, trade unionists, left activists was swift and massive. Huge numbers turned out and with skilful use of modern communication techniques thwarted the attempt of the fascists to march through the town, in spite of the clear unwillingness of the police to do anything serious to stop them.

Sunday’s elections reveal an enormous shift within the German electorate. Of particular importance is the massive decline of the SPD vote, mirrored by a huge increase in support for DIE LINKE which stands to its left. The victory of the right-wing parties means the German capitalists are preparing for an offensive against the biggest and most powerful working class in Europe. Interesting times lie ahead.

On September 27 German electors will be voting in the general election. Recent local elections indicate significant growth in support for the Left Party (DIE LINKE). This is also reflected in the beginnings of shift to the left within the ranks of the unions. The crisis of capitalism is leaving its mark on German society.

More than 250,000 school and university students, young workers and teachers participated in a nationwide ''educational strike'' all over Germany last week. The biggest demonstrations of the “comprehensive action day“ on Wednesday could be seen in Berlin (nearly 30,000 participants), Stuttgart (15,000) and Hamburg (13,000). Smaller manifestations took place in over 100 cities and towns all over the country. But the rallies were not the end of the story.

Altogether 55,000 people came out onto to the streets on March 28 in Berlin and Frankfurt/Main as part of Saturday's protests across Europe. The speeches and the comments of workers and shop stewards show that major class conflicts are being prepared in Germany in the coming period.

Last weekend the IMT organised the 5th Northern European Winter School in Berlin. 150 comrades and sympathisers from many different countries came to a city with a great revolutionary history and tradition. We set ourselves the target of learning from the ideas and lives of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, and to study the successes and the mistakes of the German Revolution. On Sunday we participated with a sizeable block at the traditional Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht commemoration demonstration.

This month marks the 90th anniversary of the murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, two outstanding revolutionary leaders of the German working class. To commemorate that tragic day we are republishing Rosa Luxemburg's last article "Order Prevails in Berlin", Karl Liebknecht's famous speech against voting the war credits in the German parliament in 1914 and his 1915 leaflet "The Main Enemy Is At Home!".

After Italy, Greece, Spain and other countries in Europe, now Germany is being hit by a wave of student protest. The same policies everywhere, cuts in spending and privatisation of the education system, are provoking the same reaction. The youth is mobilising massively, indicating that an even bigger movement of the working class is being prepared.

It had been planned as a central meeting of leading proto-fascists, right-wing populists and neo-nazis. A grand "European Anti-Islamic Congress" was scheduled to be held Saturday 20th September in the huge German city of Cologne. The organisers didn’t count on the fact that no one would transport them or go anywhere near them. Instead tens of thousands of anti-fascist demonstrators turned up to protest.