Resolution by German Communist Party, Communist Party of Luxembourg and Workers’ Party of Belgium
100 years after the onset of World War I, we live through a renewed debate about who lit the fuse. When again German imperialism’s major responsibility for the four years of butchery among peoples is being questioned, this for sure is not in search for historical truth. It is about seeking theoretical and political legitimization for today’s imperialist politics.
World War I arose from the major imperialist European powers’ desire for expansion. It aimed to conquer new markets and resources, and to re-allocate the given ones. As the co-founder of the Communist Party of Germany, Karl Liebknecht, soon stated, it was “a capitalist war of aggression and conquest”. At the same time, it was an opportunity for the rulers to contaminate the working class’s conscience in their countries with the poison of opportunism, nationalism and chauvinism.
In summer 1914, there were two tight military blocks opposed in Europe: the tripartite alliance of Germany, Austro-Hungary and Italy versus theEntente of England and France which then also Russia allied with. In 1915, Italy entered the war siding with the Entente.
The Sarajevo assault was a very welcomed opportunity for the great powers, already eager for war, to put their strategic concepts into practice. A war followed, which for the first time in history held grip of all continents. 38 countries were involved, not counting the then colonies. Also for the first time ever, a war was waged in industrial manner. Seven million people fell victim to the manslaughter. Civilians became victims of famine and diseases in dimensions unknown before. 20 millions were wounded and crippled, and an incredible amount of values destroyed.
The slaughters ended by the aggressors’ military defeat. The November Revolution in Germany and the revolutions in Austria, Hungary and other countries were stalled because of the right-wing social democratic leaderships’ active role in crushing the Revolution. In Germany the monarchy was overthrown and the republic was founded, but the generals, however, and the powers of the monopolist capital remained. Their political survival gave way for World War II later on.
The social democracy split in the course of World War I. The revolutionary forces separated from the 2nd International and founded Communist Parties all over the world. The Great Socialist October Revolution in Russia paved the way for the first workers’ and peasants’ state in the history of mankind. Thus from the World War emerged a new hope for the world—the hope for Socialism. This is what the signing parties are still standing for.
“And, finally, the only war left for Prussia-Germany to wage will be a world war, a world war, moreover of an extent the violence hitherto unimagined. Eight to ten million soldiers will be at each other’s throats and in the process they will strip Europe barer than a swarm of locusts. The depredations of the 30 Years’ War compressed into three to four years and extended over the entire continent; famine, disease, the universal lapse into barbarism, both of the armies and the people, in the wake of acute misery irretrievable dislocation of our artificial system of’ trade, industry and credit, ending in universal bankruptcy, collapse of the old states and their conventional political wisdom to the point where crowns will roll into the gutters by the dozen, and no one will be around to pick them up; the absolute impossibility of foreseeing how it will all end and who will emerge as victor from the battle. Only one consequence is absolutely certain: universal exhaustion and the creation of the conditions for the ultimate victory of the working class.”
Friedrich Engels, 1887