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August Thalheimer (18 March 1884 in Affaltrach, now called Obersulm, W√ľrttemberg ‚Äď 19 September 1948 in Havanna) was a German Marxist activist and theoretician.

Thalheimer was a member of the German Social Democratic Party prior to the First World War. He edited Volksfreund, one of the party newspapers, and from 1916 worked on Spartakusbriefe, the official paper of the USPD (Independent Socialists). Thalheimer became a founder member of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), where he was recognised as the party’s main theoretician. He edited Rote Fahne and the manuscripts that Franz Mehring left unpublished at his death.

Thalheimer was part of the local government in W√ľrttemberg serving as Minister of Finance during the crisis of 1923. He and Heinrich Brandler were blamed for the consequences and summoned to Moscow in 1924. There he worked for the Comintern and the Marx-Engels Institute. In 1927 Thalheimer gave a series of lectures at the Moscow Sun Yat-sen University which were then published as a textbook in philosophy (the English translation appeared as Introduction to Dialectical Materialism, New York, 1936). He also worked with Bukharin on the draft programme of the Comintern. Owing to unease with the leadership of Ernst Th√§lmann he returned to the KPD in Germany in 1928. However a year later he and Brandler were expelled from the KPD and they went on to form the Communist Party Opposition or KPO.

The KPO criticised the foreign policy of the Soviet Union, without criticising its domestic policies. Thalheimer stated that: "We do not want to draw the conclusion that as the politics of the Comintern are wrong, it must follow that the politics of Russia are also wrong." (Gegen den Strom, 4/1931) Thalheimer supported both forced collectivisation and Stakhanovism.

In exile in Paris from 1932, he went to Barcelona, Spain in 1936. Here he became involved in an argument with Andrés Nin over the POUM’s condemnation of the first Moscow Trial. He soon returned to France again to work with the KPO in exile. In July 1937 when six members of the KPO in Barcelona were arrested by the Stalinists he issued a joint statement with Brandler saying that:

"We take upon ourselves any political and personal guarantee for our arrested comrades. They are anti-Fascists and revolutionaries, incapable of any action that could be construed as high treason to the Spanish Revolution."

In 1940, after the German conquest of France, Thalheimer fled to Cuba, where he died in 1948.

Selected publications

  • ‚ÄúOn Fascism‚ÄĚ. Telos 40 (Summer 1979). New York: Telos Press.

References

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