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New Left Review I/105, September-October 1977


Isaac Deutscher

Record of a Discussion with Heinrich Brandler

15 February 1948

Brandler has returned from Cuba and has a temporary United Kingdom visa. He is working on his memoirs. ‘The more I think about my reminiscences’, he says, ‘the more difficult it is for me to find a satisfying way of writing them. I feel that the language—that my language—can no longer be comprehended by my reader, by the German worker of today. My friends are pressing me to write because I can do nothing sensible and worthwhile in practical politics now. And this is true. I would like to get into contact with a living and lively German worker. Even for my memoirs, such a contact is very much needed.’ Brandler goes back in his story to the 1890s, to the Congresses of [German] Social Democracy. ‘Only now do I realize how tremendous was the treasure of ideas which the German workers’ movement acquired by its own exertions and quite independently. We were so impressed by the achievements of the Bolsheviks that we forgot our own. Take Lenin’s Imperialism, which is quite correctly regarded as a standard work. Already at the 1907 International Congress in Stuttgart, and at other conferences at the end of the previous century, most of the ideas which Lenin developed in his Imperialism were already being debated, mainly by Kautsky.’

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