50 Years Ago: German Withdrawal from Disarmament Conference

Most of the comments in the English Press and in the speeches of politicians affect horror at the action of Germany and its leaders. But on the ground common to all the defenders of capitalism in the various nations, Hitler’s action has full justification. The Versailles Peace Treaty, under which Germany’s armed forces were reduced to the minimum considered necessary to protect capitalism internally, pledged the Allies definitely an explicitly to disarm themselves. That pledge has not been kept and none of the political leaders who made it ever believed that it would be kept. That is why the Russian Government could call their bluff by offering to disarm completely if and when the others would do the same. That is why Hitler can now say that Germany does not want big armaments, only equality with the Allied Governments, either universal disarmament or armaments all round.

Not one of the powers dare dispense with armaments; and that not solely because of their desire to defend frontiers and interests abroad, but because the ruling class everywhere dare not face its own dispossessed class without the protection of armed forces. That is the dominating fact in Germany as it is in the USA, Russia. Britain. Austria and the rest, and it is the one thing nobody ever mentions at disarmament conferences. Hence the unreality of it all. These representatives of capitalism gather together in Geneva to profess their mutually peaceable inclinations, to swear their undying hatred of war, and to reiterate year after year that they are all agreed on speedy disarmament. Every kind of formula is debated and accepted, every kind of scheme for disarmament is applied, and the one thing that never happens is disarmament.

(From an editorial “The War Scene: Tragic Farce at Geneva and Moscow”, Socialist Standard, November 1933.)