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German Social Democratic Party (SPD): Call to Rebuild the Party Organization (June 15, 1945)

On June 15, 1945, a few days after the KPD issued its founding manifesto, the Central Committee of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) published an appeal to revive the SPD. The appeal advocated a parliamentary democracy in Germany, but when it came to the economy and society it demanded the introduction of socialism and extensive nationalization. Likewise, it demanded the “organizational unity of the German working class” in place of the two-party division that had assumed ever stronger form during the Weimar Republic. This demand was made even though the precise nature of this unity was controversial within the SPD, and despite the fact that many party members distrusted the Communists.

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Workers, farmers, and citizens! Men and women! German youth! Nazi fascism has fallen into a horrifying abyss of annihilation! It has left the German people in the deepest emotional agony, in inconceivable misery! All sense of justice has been paralyzed! Bare want and deprivation grin at the people from the ruins of destroyed homes and blown-up factories. The victorious Allied armies have extinguished Hitler’s megalomania and thereby obliterated the military rapacity of German imperialism for all time.

The German people must pay the price for this fascist imposture! Dishonorable gamblers and mad, power-hungry politicians have defiled and dishonored the name of the German people throughout the world.

Silent and filled with emotion, we lower our flags in honor of our [SPD colleagues] Johannes Stelling, Rudolf Breitscheid, Julius Leber, and Wilhelm Leuschner – and in honor of the thousands of victims from all German parties, faiths, and social strata who were devoured by bloodthirsty fascism. But, unfortunately, all these sacrifices of health, blood, and property – made while working underground – did not succeed in eliminating the satanic machinery of oppression.

The German people will not despair! Their will to live will prove stronger than their misfortune! They will rally with what is left of their strength, because they want to, they will, and they must go on living!

History is teaching the German people the hard lesson that their path of sacrifice will have to involve tireless work and iron resolve – despite hunger and deprivation – if they intend to earn the respect of peaceful, freedom-loving nations.

The German people must never again be abused as the trusting victims of unscrupulous political adventurers. The political path that will guide them to a brighter future is thus clearly delineated: democracy in state and local government, socialism in economy and society!

We are prepared and determined to work together with all likeminded individuals and parties. For this reason, we warmly welcome the call issued by the Central Committee of the German Communist Party on June 11, 1945. It rightly assumes that the reconstruction of Germany depends on the current terms and conditions for the country’s development, and that, in the present situation, the decisive interests of the German people make it necessary to build an anti-fascist democratic regime and a parliamentary democratic republic with all democratic rights and liberties for the people.

At this decisive hour, it is once again the historical duty of the German working class to be the bearer of this conception of the state: of a new, anti-fascist democratic republic! All selfish party squabbling of the kind that filled the political battlefield of the Weimar Republic must be nipped in the bud. In an anti-fascist democratic republic, democratic liberties can be granted only to those who accept them unconditionally. They must be denied to those who wish to use them only to defame and destroy democracy.

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