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Proclamation by the Central Committee of the German Communist Party (June 11, 1945)

In the Soviet occupation zone, “anti-Fascist” parties and unions were permitted again as early as June 10, 1945. The revival of the German Communist Party [Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, or KPD] was shaped in crucial ways by a group of pro-Soviet politicians under the leadership of Wilhelm Pieck and Walter Ulbricht. The members of this group had returned to Germany from their Moscow exile at the beginning of May. The appeal they issued on June 11, 1945, was deliberately moderate. It acknowledged the political mistakes in had made in the past, emphatically opposed a transfer of the Soviet system to Germany, and advocated the introduction of a Western-style parliamentary democracy. The future shape of the economic system was described in decisively moderate language in passages envisaging expropriations and nationalization on a very limited scale. This KPD appeal was noticeably different from the class warfare slogans of the 1920s and early 1930s. It tied in with the concept of the People’s Front [Volksfront], the broad anti-fascist coalition proclaimed by the Communist International in 1935, and it also reflected the experience of working together with military officers who were critical of the Nazis in the “National Committee Free Germany” during World War II.

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Working People in the City and Countryside!
Men and Women!
German Youth!

Wherever we look, we see ruins, rubble, and ashes. Our cities are destroyed; immense, once- fertile regions are desolate and deserted. The economy is in shambles and utterly paralyzed. Millions upon millions of people have been devoured by a war that was caused by the Hitler regime. Millions have been cast into extreme hardship and abject misery. A catastrophe of unimaginable proportions has befallen Germany, and the specter of homelessness, pestilence, unemployment, and hunger peers out at us from the ruins.

And who is to blame for this?

The blame and guilt rest with those unscrupulous exploiters and criminals who are responsible for the war. They are Hitler and Göring, Himmler and Goebbels, the active followers and supporters of the Nazi party. They are the champions of reactionary militarism, the likes of Keitel, Jodl, and associates. They are the imperialistic sponsors of the Nazi party, the gentlemen of the large banks and concerns, Krupp and Röchling, Poensgen, and Siemens.

Their guilt is clear. It was openly and publicly admitted by the Nazi leaders themselves when they stood at the height of their military triumphs, when victory and spoils seemed certain.

All of you, men and women of the working people, soldiers and officers, can still hear the words ringing in your ears: “This is the purpose of the war for us! We are not fighting for ideals. We are fighting for the Ukrainian wheat fields, for Caucasian crude oil, for the treasures of the world. We want to make a killing!”

For this they gambled away the national existence of our people. Hitler’s total war – this was the most unjust, the most savage, the most criminal war of plunder of all times!

The Hitler regime has proven the ruin of Germany, for with its policy of aggression and violence, plundering, war, and genocide, Hitler has brought destruction unto our people and has burdened it with heavy guilt and responsibility in the eyes of the civilized world.

The violent annexation of Austria was a crime, as was the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. The conquest and oppression of Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Holland, France, Yugoslavia, and Greece was also a crime. The “Coventrization” and wiping out of English cities was one crime that came back home to haunt us with a vengeance. Hitler’s greatest and most fateful war crime, however, was the perfidious, surprise attack on the Soviet Union. This was a breach of our promise to the Soviet Union, which never wanted a war with Germany and which had actually demonstrated its honest feelings of friendship toward the German people many times since 1917. German workers! Could there have been a more heinous crime than this war against the Soviet Union? And monstrous are the atrocities committed by Hitler’s bandits in foreign countries. The blood of many million murdered children, women, and old people is on the hands of those Germans who followed Hitler. In the death camps, human beings were annihilated day after day, factory-like, in gas chambers and crematoria. Burned alive, buried alive, chopped into pieces alive – this was how the Nazi bandits raged! Millions of prisoners of war and foreign workers who were carted off to Germany were worked to death, died of hunger, cold, and epidemics.

These unprecedented crimes, this horrible, ghastly mass murder that was systematically carried out by Hitler’s Germany has left the world shocked and at the same time full of hatred toward Germany. If “an eye for an eye” had been the rule, then what would have happened to you, German people?

Fortunately, the cause of justice, freedom, and progress stood on the side of the United Nations, with the Soviet Union, England, and the United States at the head. Through their sacrifices, the Red Army and the armies of the Allies saved the cause of humanity from Hitler’s barbarism. They shattered Hitler’s armies, demolished Hitler’s state, and thereby also led you, the working German population, out of the chains of Hitler’s slavery and into peace and liberation.

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