OF THE MELANCHOLY situation in Germany in early February 1933, just after Hitler became Chancellor, Citrine wrote in his autobiography: "In the next session of our International Federation of Trade Unions meeting we discussed the removal of our office from Germany. We were reluctant to do this, as it might appear to the German trade unionists that we were deserting them. I said I hesitated to comment on the situation, which seemed to me to be growing alarming. It was almost a repetition of what happened in Italy in the early stages of fascist dictatorship. Hitler had already established a censorship of the Press. He had mobilised the radio for party propaganda. It might be that at the forthcoming elections the people would be intimidated by the Nazis.
"I asked what our German comrades thought about the situation. Leipart, who was the leader of the German trade unions, made a statement suggesting that the trade unions in the various countries should exert public pressure through the Press, emphasising that freedom of action had practically ceased in Germany. He blamed the communists for splitting the ranks of the trade unions. All that they were concerned with was creating a Soviet Germany. He assured us that all arrangements had been made to meet any contingency and that the leaders only had to give the word. Then there would be a General Strike and that might lead to civil war".
None of what Leipart had envisaged actually happened.
The TUC drafted a report on "Dictatorship and the Trade Union Movement" (previously mentioned) which underlined the lessons of the German trade unions' experience, and showed how the German communists' attacks on the unions and the social-democrats had weakened the whole labour Movement. Meanwhile for the benefit of British communists and of those in the unions, the Labour Party and the ILP who were advocating the idea of forming a United Front with them the National Joint Council, representing both TUC and Labour Party, published a manifesto which once more declared its opposition not only to fascism and Nazism, but also to communism.
In 1934, the General Council followed up this manifesto with what came to be described by the communists as the "Black Circular". This recommended all trade unions to exclude communists and fascists from responsible posts; and it laid down that any trades council that wished to retain the formal recognition of Congress must exclude communist and fascist delegates.
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