Ernst Toller

Ernst Toller

Ernst Toller, the son of Mendel Toller, a successful Jewish wholesale grain merchant, was born in Samotschin in 1893. At the age of twelve Toller was sent to boarding school in Bromberg. Later Toller described it as a "school of miseducation and militarization". He was not a good student but while there managed to have several of his articles published in the local newspaper, the Ostdeutsche Rundschau.

In 1914 Toller moved to France where he studied at the University of Grenoble. Six months after arriving, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo. When Germany declared war on Russia, Toller headed back home and was in one of the last trains to be allowed out of France before the border was closed.

Toller, like most Germans, accepted that it was his duty to join the German Army and defend the Fatherland. He immediately enlisted in the First Bavarian Foot Artillery Regiment. In March 1915, he was sent to the Western Front. When he heard the news he wrote in his diary: "How happy I am to go to the front at last. To do my bit. To prove with my life what I think I feel."

After six months working as an observer with an artillery unit, Toller asked to transferred to the front-line trenches. The reason for this request was that because he felt he was being victimized by his platoon commander. Like at school, Toller believed he was being persecuted because he was Jewish.

Toller served at Bois-le-Pretre and then at Verdun. Appalled by the physical slaughter that he witnessed in the trenches, Toller began to question the nationalistic propaganda that he had experienced since his schooldays. He wrote in one letter: "Most people have no imagination. If they could imagine the sufferings of others, they would not make them suffer so. What separated a German mother from a French mother? Slogans which deafened us so that we could not hear the truth."

In May 1916 Toller became very ill. Taken to a hospital in Strasbourg, his doctor diagnosed him as suffering from "physical exhaustion and a complete nervous breakdown". After being transferred to a hospital near Mainz, he was discharged from the German Army as "unfit for active service".

Toller returned to his studies and now went to Heidelberg University where he met the pioneering sociologist, Max Weber. Although the two men became close friends, they disagreed about the war. Weber believed that Germany must continue to prosecute the war, whereas Toller favoured a negotiated peace. Toller also returned to writing poetry. His views on the subject had been dramatically changed by his experiences on the Western Front. He completely rejected the idea of "art for art's sake". The purpose of art was no longer simply aesthetic.

Toller believed that it was his duty as a human being to write political poetry. The role of the poet was not only to "decry the war, but to lead humanity towards his vision of a peaceful, just and communal society". In the poem, To the Mothers, he included this message to poets writing about the war: "Dig deeper into your pain, Let it strain, etch, gnaw. Stretch out arms raised in grief. Be volcanoes, glowing sea: let pain bring forth deeds."

Toller, who by 1917 was both a socialist and pacifist, formed the Cultural and Political League of German Youth, an organisation which called for an end to the war. Toller's political activities soon resulted in him being expelled from Heidelberg University. Toller now moved to Munich where he helped Kurt Eisner to organize a munitions workers' strike. When 8,000 workers withdrew their labour in Munich, Eisner, Toller and other trade union leaders were arrested and sent to Leonrodstrasse military prison. Toller was charged with "attempted treason" but was released in May 1918 and returned to the German Army. He expected to be sent to the Western Front but instead he was committed to a Psychiatric Clinic in Munich. Once again he was diagnosed as being "unfit for active service" and discharged from the army.

Toller supported the German Revolution began on 29th October 1918, when sailors at Kiel refused to obey orders and engage in battle with the British Navy. The sailors in the German Navy mutinied and set up councils based on the soviets in Russia. By 6th November the revolution had spread to the Western Front and all major cities and ports in Germany.

On 28th October, 1918, Admiral Franz von Hipper and Admiral Reinhardt Scheer, planned to dispatch the fleet for a last battle against the British Navy in the English Channel. Navy soldiers based in Wilhelmshaven, refused to board their ships. The next day the rebellion spread to Kiel when sailors refused to obey orders. The sailors in the German Navy mutinied and set up councils based on the soviets in Russia. By 6th November the revolution had spread to the Western Front and all major cities and ports in Germany.

Kurt Eisner, the leader of the Independent Socialist Party, called for a general strike. As Paul Frölich has pointed out: "They (Eisner and his political supporters) were enthusiastic about the idea of the political strike especially because they regarded it as a weapon which could take the place of barricade-fighting, and it seemed a peaceable weapon into the bargain."

Chris Harman, the author of The Lost Revolution (1982), has argued: "On 7th November, 1918, the city was paralysed by the strike. Auer (the SDP leader) turned up to address what he expected to be a peaceful demonstration, to find the most militant section of it composed of armed soldiers and sailors, gathered behind the bearded Bohemian figure of Eisner and a huge banner reading Long Live the Revolution. While the Social Democrat leaders stood aghast, wondering what to do, Eisner led his group off, drawing much of the crowd behind it, and made a tour of the barracks. Soldiers rushed to the windows at the sound of the approaching turmoil, exchanged quick words with the demonstrators, picked up their guns and flocked in behind."

Eisner led the large crowd into the local parliament building, where he made a speech where he declared Bavaria a Socialist Republic. Eisner made it clear that this revolution was different from the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and announced that all private property would be protected by the new government. Eisner explained that his program would be based on democracy, pacifism and anti-militarism. The King of Bavaria, Ludwig III, decided to abdicate and Bavaria was declared a republic.

Kurt Eisner had the support of the 6,000 workers of the munitions factory in Munich that was owned by Gustav Krupp. Many of them had come from northern Germany and were much more radical than those of Bavaria. The city was also a staging post for troops withdrawing from the Western Front. It is estimated that the majority of the 50,000 soldiers also supported Eisner's revolution. Ernest Toller and the anarcho-communist poet, Erich Mühsam arrived in the city to take part in the revolution.

On 9th November, 1918, Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated and the Chancellor, Max von Baden, handed power over to Friedrich Ebert, the leader of the German Social Democrat Party. At a public meeting, one of Ebert's most loyal supporters, Philipp Scheidemann, finished his speech with the words: "Long live the German Republic!" He was immediately attacked by Ebert, who was still a strong believer in the monarchy and was keen for one of the his grandsons to replace Wilhelm.

Kurt Eisner wrote in a letter dated 14th November to Gustav Landauer: "What I want from you is to advance the transformation of souls as a speaker." Others who arrived in the city to support the new regime included Otto Neurath, Silvio Gesell and Ret Marut.

In January, 1919, the Spartakist Rising, led by Rosa Luxemburg, Leo Jogiches, Clara Zetkin and Karl Liebknecht took place in Berlin. Friedrich Ebert now saw his own power under threat and called in the German Army and the Freikorps to bring an end to the rebellion. By 13th January the rebellion had been crushed and its leaders, including Luxemburg and Liebknecht, had been captured and executed.

In Bavaria Eisner was forced to form a coalition government with the Social Democratic Party. During this period the living conditions of the Munich workers and soldiers were rapidly deteriorating. It was not a surprise when at the election on 12th January, 1919, in Bavaria, Eisner and the Independent Socialist Party received only 2.5 per cent of the total vote. Eisner remained in power by granting concessions to the SDP. This included agreeing to the establishment of a regular security force to maintain order. As Chris Harman pointed out: "In office without any power base of his own, he was forced to behave in an increasingly arbitrary and apparently irrational manner".

On 21st February, 1919, Kurt Eisner decided to resign. On his way to parliament he was assassinated by Anton Graf von Arco auf Valley. It is claimed that before he killed the leader of the ISP he said: "Eisner is a Bolshevist, a Jew; he isn't German, he doesn't feel German, he subverts all patriotic thoughts and feelings. He is a traitor to this land." Johannes Hoffmann, of the SDP, replaced Eisner as President of Bavaria.

One armed worker walked into the assembled parliament and shot dead one of the leaders of the Social Democratic Party. Many of the deputies fled in terror from the city. Max Levien, a member of the German Communist Party (KPD), became the new leader of the revolution. Rosa Levine-Meyer argued: "Levien.... was a man of great intelligence and erudition and an excellent speaker. He exercised an enormous appeal of the masses and could, with no great exaggeration, be defined as the revolutionary idol of Munich. But he owed his popularity rather to his brilliance and wit than to clear-mindedness and revolutionary expediency."

On 7th April, 1919, Levien declared the establishment of the Bavarian Soviet Republic. Paul Frölich later commented: "The Soviet Republic did not arise from the immediate needs of the working class... The establishment of a Soviet Republic was to the Independents and anarchists a reshuffling of political offices... For this handful of people the Soviet Republic was established when their bargaining at the green table had been closed... The masses outside were to them little more than believers about to receive the gift of salvation from the hands of these little gods. The thought that the Soviet Republic could only arise out of the mass movement was far removed from them. While they achieved the Soviet Republic they lacked the most important component, the councils."

Ernst Toller, a member of the Independent Socialist Party, became a growing influence in the revolutionary council. Rosa Levine-Meyer claimed that: "Toller was too intoxicated with the prospect of playing the Bavarian Lenin to miss the occasion. To prove himself worthy of his prospective allies, he borrowed a few of their slogans and presented them to the Social Democrats as conditions for his collaboration. They included such impressive demands as: Dictatorship of the class-conscious proletariat; socialisation of industry, banks and large estates; reorganisation of the bureaucratic state and local government machine and administrative control by Workers' and Peasants' Councils; introduction of compulsory labour for the bourgeoisie; establishment of a Red Army, etc. - twelve conditions in all."

As the author of The Lost Revolution (1982) has pointed out: "Meanwhile, conditions for the mass of the population were getting worse daily. There were now some 40,000 unemployed in the city. A bitterly cold March had depleted coal stocks and caused a cancellation of all fuel rations. The city municipality was bankrupt, with its own employees refusing to accept its paper currency."

Eugen Levine, a member of the German Communist Party (KPD), arrived in Munich from Berlin. The leadership of the KPD was determined to avoid any repetition of the events in Berlin in January, when its leaders, Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg and Leo Jogiches, were murdered by the authorities. Levine was instructed that "any occasion for military action by government troops must be strictly avoided". Levine immediately set about reorganising the party to separate it off clearly from the anarcho-communists led by Erich Mühsam and Gustav Landauer. He reported back to Berlin that he had about 3,000 members of the KPD under his control.

Levine pointed out that despite the Max Levien declaration, little had changed in the city: "The third day of the Soviet Republic... In the factories the workers toil and drudge as ever before for the capitalists. In the offices sit the same royal functionaries. In the streets the old armed guardians of the capitalist world keep order. The scissors of the war profiteers and the dividend hunters still snip away. The rotary presses of the capitalist press still rattle on, spewing out poison and gall, lies and calumnies to the people craving for revolutionary enlightenment... Not a single bourgeois has been disarmed, not a single worker has been armed." Levine now gave orders for over 10,000 rifles to be distributed.

Inspired by the events of the October Revolution, Levine ordered the expropriated of luxury flats and gave them to the homeless. Factories were to be run by joint councils of workers and owners and workers' control of industry and plans were made to abolish paper money. Levine, like the Bolsheviks had done in Russia, established Red Guard units to defend the revolution. He also argued that: "We must speed up the building of revolutionary workers' organisations... We must create workers' councils out of the factory committees and the vast army of the unemployed."

Johannes Hoffmann and other leaders of the Social Democratic Party in Munich fled to the town of Bamberg. Hoffman blocked food supplies to the city and began looking for troops to attack the Bavarian Soviet Republic. By the end of the week he had gathered 8,000 armed men. On 20th April Hoffmann's forces clashed with troops led by Ernst Toller at Dachau in Upper Bavaria. After a brief battle, Hoffmann's army was forced to retreat.

Some of the revolutionaries realised that it was not possible to create a successful Bavarian Soviet Republic. Paul Frölich argued: "Bavaria is not economically self-sufficient. Its industries are extremely backward and the predominant agrarian population, while a factor in favour of the counter-revolution, cannot at all be viewed as pro-revolutionary. A Soviet Republic without areas of large scale industry and coalfields is impossible in Germany. Moreover the Bavarian proletariat is only in a few giant industrial plants genuinely disposed towards revolution and unhampered by petty bourgeois traditions, illusions and weaknesses."

On 26th April, Ernst Toller made an attack on the leaders of the German Communist Party in Munich that had established the Second Bavarian Soviet Republic. "I consider the present government a disaster for the Bavarian toiling masses. To support them would in my view compromise the revolution and the Soviet Republic."

Friedrich Ebert, the president of Germany, eventually arranged for 30,000 Freikorps, under the command of General Burghard von Oven, to take Munich. At Starnberg, some 30 km south-west of the city, they murdered 20 unarmed medical orderlies. The Bavarian Soviet Republic issued the following statement: "The White Guards have not yet conquered and are already heaping atrocity upon atrocity. They torture and execute prisoners. They kill the wounded. Don't make the hangmen's task easy. Sell your lives dearly."

With Ebert's troops massing on Bavaria's northern borders, the Red Guards began arresting people they considered to be hostile to the new regime. On 29th April, 1919, eight men were executed after being found guilty of being right-wing spies. Rosa Levine-Meyer, the author of Levine: The Life of a Revolutionary (1973) wrote: "It was never established who ordered the shooting. None of the Communist leaders were at that time in the building. Levine for one left it long in advance of the deplorable act." Ten members of the Thule Society, the anti-Semitic precursor of Nazism, were also murdered.

The Freikorps entered Munich on 1st May, 1919. Over the next two days the Freikorps easily defeated the Red Guards. Gustav Landauer was one of the leaders who was captured during the first day of fighting. Rudolf Rocker explained what happened next: "Close friends had urged him to escape a few days earlier. Then it would have still been a fairly easy thing to do. But Landauer decided to stay. Together with other prisoners he was loaded on a truck and taken to the jail in Starnberg. From there he and some others were driven to Stadelheim a day later. On the way he was horribly mistreated by dehumanized military pawns on the orders of their superiors. One of them, Freiherr von Gagern, hit Landauer over the head with a whip handle. This was the signal to kill the defenseless victim.... He was literally kicked to death. When he still showed signs of life, one of the callous torturers shot a bullet in his head. This was the gruesome end of Gustav Landauer - one of Germany's greatest spirits and finest men."

Allan Mitchell, the author of Revolution in Bavaria (1965), pointed out: "Resistance was quickly and ruthlessly broken. Men found carrying guns were shot without trial and often without question. The irresponsible brutality of the Freikorps continued sporadically over the next few days as political prisoners were taken, beaten and sometimes executed." An estimated 700 men and women were captured and executed. This included Eugen Levine, who was shot by firing squad in Stadelheim Prison on 5th July, 1919.

Toller was arrested and charged with high treason. Toller expected to be found guilty and sentenced to death but his friends began an international campaign to save his life. At his trial Toller argued: "We revolutionaries acknowledge the right to revolution when we see that the situation is no longer tolerable, that it has become a frozen. Then we have the right to overthrow it.

The working class will not halt until socialism has been realized. The revolution is like a vessel filled with the pulsating heartbeat of millions of working people. And the spirit of revolution will not die while the hearts of these workers continue to beat. Gentlemen! I am convinced that, by your own lights, you will pronounce judgement to the best of your knowledge and belief. But knowing my views you must also accept that I shall regard your verdict as the expression, not of justice, but of power." Max Weber and Thomas Mann gave evidence on his behalf in court and although Toller was found guilty of high treason, the judge acknowledged his "honourable motives" and sentenced him to only five years in prison.

While in prison Toller wrote a series of plays that established him as one of the country's most important writers. By the time he left prison in 1924, plays such as Transformation, The Machine Wreckers, Hinkemann and Masses and Man had been performed all over Germany.

After leaving prison Toller wrote Hoppla, Such is Life (1927), Once a Bourgeois Always a Bourgeois (1928), Draw the Fires (1930), Miracle in America (1931) and the Blind Goddess (1932). He also remained active in politics and was a leading member of the League for Human Rights and the Group of Revolutionary Pacifists.

When Adolf Hitler became Chancellor on 30th January 1933, it soon became clear that no left-wing author would be allowed to write or publish in Germany. On 1st April, 1933 Josef Goebbels announced an official boycott of Jewish shops and businesses and denounced Toller as a public enemy of the Third Reich. Goebbels told his audience that "Two million German soldiers rise from the graves of Flanders and Holland to indict the Jew Toller for having written: 'the ideal of heroism is the stupidest ideal of all."

Later that month Goebbels published a list of authors that were now banned. This included the work of Toller, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Bertolt Brecht, Ludwig Renn, Thomas Heine, Arnold Zweig, Ludwig Renn and Thomas Mann. When Hitler's government began arresting socialists and communists and putting them in concentration camps, Toller was persuaded by friends to leave Germany.

Toller arrived in London in September, 1933. While in England he completed his autobiography, I Was a German was published in 1933. He travelled extensively, where he lectured on the need for the international community to join together in order to resist fascism. He also wrote articles for the Manchester Guardian, the Observer, the New Statesman, Time & Tide and the Spectator.

In October 1936 Toller left London for a lecture tour of North America. While he was there he was offered a contract to write film-scripts for MGM. Toller hoped that he would be given the freedom to write films that dealt with political issues such as the rise of fascism in Europe. This did not materialize, and the one script that he wrote that was used, Hangman Also Die, was changed so much that he disowned it. Toller returned to writing plays and in 1938 completed Pastor Hall. The play was based on the life of Martin Niemöller, the Protestant pastor, whose opposition to Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany resulted in his arrest and trial for high treason.

While in the USA, Toller was also active in the campaign to raise funds to help the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War. He went to Spain as a journalist. Alvah Bessie, met him at the Ebro: "Toller was a quiet, heavy-set man, who wandered about talking to the soldiers, asking questions; how much did we get to eat, and did we get enough to smoke, and watching the Fascist airplanes through a pair of opera-glasses, when everybody else was under cover."

In 1939 Toller became increasingly depressed. Fascism in Europe continued to grow and Adolf Hitler remained firmly in control of Nazi Germany. News had also reached him that his sister and brother had both been arrested and sent to concentration camps.

Ernst Toller committed suicide in his hotel room in New York City on 22nd May, 1939. His friend, Alvah Bessie, wrote: "Ernst Toller, the anti-Nazi dramatist and poet. He had been unable to adjust himself to what he saw as a life in exile and which need not have been one at all-had he only waited."

Primary Sources

(1) Ernst Toller, diary (March, 1915)

How happy I am to go to the front at last. To do my bit. To prove with my life what I think I feel.

(2) Ernst Toller, Spring 1915 (March, 1915)

In spring I go to war

To sing or to die.

What do I care for my own troubles?

Today I shatter them, laughing in pieces.

Oh, Brothers, know that young spring came

In a whirlwind.

Quickly throw off tired grief

And follow her in a host.

I have never felt so strongly

How much I love you, Oh, Germany,

As the magic of spring surrounds you

Amidst the bustle of war.

(3) Ernst Toller, I Was a German (1933)

My observation post was situated in a little pocket just under the peak of the hill. With the aid of glasses I could make out the French trenches and behind them the devastated town of Mousson and the Moselle winding its sluggish course through the early spring landscape. Gradually I became aware of details: a company of French soldiers was marching through the streets of the town. They broke formation, and went in single file along the communication trench leading to the front line. Another group followed them.

A subaltern was watching through his glasses.

"See those Frenchies" he asked.

"Yes, sir." "Let's tickle them up! Range twenty-two hundred," he cried to the telephonist.

And "Twenty-two hundred," echoed the telephonist.

I kept my eyes glued to the glasses. My head was in a whirl, and I was trembling with excitement, surrendered to the passion of the moment like a gambler, like a hunter. My hands shook and my heart pounded wildly. The air was filled with a sudden high-pitched whine, and a brown cloud of dust dimmed my field of vision.

The French soldiers scattered, rushed for shelter; but not all of them. Some lay dead or wounded.

"Direct hit!" cried the subaltern.

The telephonist cheered.

I cheered.

(4) Ernst Toller, I Was a German (1933)

One night we heard a cry, the cry of one in excruciating pain; then all was quiet again. Someone in his death agony, we thought. But an hour later the cry came again. It never ceased the whole night. Nor the following night. Naked and inarticulate the cry persisted. We could not tell whether it came from the throat of German or Frenchman. It existed in its own right, an agonized indictment of heaven and earth. We thrust our fingers into our ears to stop its moan; but it was no good; the cry cut like a drill into our heads, dragging minutes into hours, hours into years. We withered and grew old between those cries.

Later we learned that it was one of our own men hanging on the wire. Nobody could do anything for him; two men had already tried to save him, only to be shot themselves. We prayed desperately for his death. He took so long about it, and if he went on much longer we should go mad. But on the third day his cries were stopped by death.

(5) Ernst Toller, I Was a German (1933)

The French inhabitants who lingered on in their villages in the fighting zone lived wretchedly in cellars and barns, in odd little rooms or kitchen cupboards, like shipwrecked sailors clinging to bits of wreckage, only to be swept off into eternity by a sudden storm. Impotent witness of its own downfall, the village in which parents and grandparents still lived was blown to bits, its fields ploughed by guns and sown with shells instead of seed; and the fruit of the seed was death and destruction.

The French got enough from the Germans to save them from starvation; but many a woman sold herself for a loaf or a chunk of sausage. Soldiers and peasants lived together on friendly terms; they knew each other and their everyday routines, and trusted each other; they shook their heads together over the war.

(6) Ernst Toller, I Was a German (1933)

I saw the dead without really seeing them. As a boy I used to go to the Chamber of Horrors at the annual fair, to look at the wax figures of Emperors and Kings, of heroes and murderers of the day. The dead now had that same unreality, which shocks without arousing pity.

I stood in the trench cutting into the earth with my pick. The point got stuck, and I heaved and pulled it out with a jerk. When it came a slimy, shapeless bundle, and when I bent down to look I saw that wound round my pick were human entrails. A dead man was buried there.

A dead man.

What made me pause then? Why did those words so startle me? They closed upon my brain like a vice; they choked my throat and chilled my heart. Three words, like any other three words.

A dead man. I tried to thrust the words out of my mind; what was there about them that they should so overwhelm me?

And suddenly, like light in darkness, the real truth broke in upon me; the simple fact of Man, which I had forgotten, which had lain deep buried and out of sight; the idea of community, of unity.

A dead man. Not a dead Frenchman. Not a dead German. A dead man.

All these corpses had been men; all these corpses had breathed as I breathed; they had a father, a mother, a woman whom they loved, a piece of land which was theirs, faces which expressed their joys and their sufferings, eyes which had known the light of day and the colour of the sky. At that moment of realization I knew that I had been blind because I had wished not to see; it was only then that I realised, at last, that all these dead men, French and Germans, were brothers, and I was the brother of them all.

After that I could never pass a dead man without stopping to gaze on his face, stripped by death of that earthly patina which masks the living soul. And I would ask, who were you? Where was your home? Who is mourning for you now? But I never asked who was to blame. Each had defended his own country; the Germans Germany, the Frenchmen France; they had done their duty.

(7) Ernst Toller, letter (1916)

Most people have no imagination. If they could imagine the sufferings of others, they would not make them suffer so. What separated a German mother from a French mother? Slogans which deafened us so that we could not hear the truth.

(8) Ernst Toller, Corpses in the Wood (1916)

A dung heap of rotting corpses:

Glazed eyes, bloodshot,

Brains split, guts spewed out

The air poisoned by the stink of corpses

A single awful cry of madness.

Oh, women in France,

Women of Germany

Regard your menfolk!

They fumble with torn hands

For the swollen bodies of their enemies,

Gestures, stiff in death, become the touch of brotherhood,

Yes, they embrace each other,

Oh, horrible embrace!

I see and see and am struck dumb

Am I a beast, a murderous dog?

Men violated


(9) Ernst Toller, I Was a German (1933)

I was at the front for thirteen months, and by the end of that time the sharpest perceptions had become dulled, the greatest words mean. The war had become an everyday affair; life in the line a matter of routine; instead of heroes there were only victims; conscripts instead of volunteers, life had become hell, death a bagatelle; we were all of us cogs in a great machine which sometimes rolled forward, nobody knew where, sometimes backwards, nobody knew why. We had lost our enthusiasm, our courage, the very sense of our identity; there was no rhyme or reason in all this slaughtering and devastation; pain itself had lost its meaning; the earth was a barren waste.

I applied for a transfer to the Air Force, not from any heroic motive, or for the love of adventure, but simply to get away from the mass, from mass-living and mass-dying.

But before my transfer came through I fell ill. Heart and stomach both broke down, and I was sent back to hospital in Strassburg. In a quiet Franciscan monastery kind and silent monks looked after me. After many weeks I was discharged. Unfit for further service.

(10) Ernst Toller, speech at his trial for high treason (14th July, 1919)

We revolutionaries acknowledge the right to revolution when we see that the situation is no longer tolerable, that it has become a frozen. Then we have the right to overthrow it.

The working class will not halt until socialism has been realized. The revolution is like a vessel filled with the pulsating heartbeat of millions of working people. And the spirit of revolution will not die while the hearts of these workers continue to beat.

Gentlemen! I am convinced that, by your own lights, you will pronounce judgement to the best of your knowledge and belief. But knowing my views you must also accept that I shall regard your verdict as the expression, not of justice, but of power.

(11) Alvah Bessie, Men in Battle (1939)

Joe North returned again, this time with Ernst Toller, the exiled German dramatist, and a young man whose name was Daniel Roosevelt, who told me he was a correspondent for my old paper, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. That is to say, he had agreed to send them articles from Spain that they might publish if they cared to, but he had not written any and was going back to Paris any day. Toller was a quiet, heavy-set man, who wandered about talking to the soldiers, asking questions; how much did we get to eat, and did we get enough to smoke, and watching the Fascist airplanes through a pair of opera-glasses, when everybody else was under cover. "Who's that dope standing out there in the open?" some one shouted; but Toller stood and watched, changing his position to get a better view, and saying quietly, "We did not have so many planes during the World War."

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