Except from “Indictment against Bourgeois Society”
[Max Hoelz 1921]
As I already said, I do not want to reply to the indictment. I do not recognize the prosecutor’s statement and I do not recognize the judgment of the court. For me, it’s a matter of clarifying to the working class what motives I’ve acted on. I champion my actions with the courage that every revolutionary fighter must have. And if I had shot dead a man out of revolutionary necessity, or gave the order to do so, I would say so. If you pronounce the death sentence against me today, you will not kill much. You will kill the body, but you cannot kill the spirit. You are judging me, as you say. You can fell one Hoelz, but a thousand more Hoelzer will shoot up in his place. Among these thousand Hoelzer there will be men of iron, who will not make the revolution by slapping you in the face. There will come a time when the proletariat will no longer say, we cannot fight, we have no weapons. It will maul its opponents with its hands and with its fists! So long as the ruling class manages to rout 25,000 protesters with two or three machine guns, your rule will last. But the moment will come when the revolutionary proletariat pounces on the guns and smashes them or turns them around; then comes the real revolution! You, and the ruling class, can tremble at this revolution. What happened in Germany in 1918 was not a revolution! I know only two revolutions: the French and the Russian. The German revolution will surpass all revolutions in atrocity. The bourgeoisie forces the proletariat to commit atrocities. The bourgeoisie operates in a cold and calculating way. Sentiment is on the side of the proletariat. You regard the proletariat as bunglers in politics. The atrocities you inflict against the proletariat cannot yet be returned by the proletariat today; it is still too softhearted to do this, but as I said earlier, the day will come for the proletariat to become an animal. Then only cold calculation will decide. The proletariat will say: it is no longer possible for us to let the heart speak, we must use the fist to our advantage!
If you pass judgment on me today, I consider it a school exam. If you acquit me, which of course I do not expect, and which you cannot do, then tomorrow there would be four deaths in Berlin: three judges and one defendant. You would have to hang yourselves, because you would not be able to show your face before your class comrades, and I would have to hang myself, because I would be ashamed to face the revolutionary proletariat. Your verdict, whatever it may be, will be a class verdict. You can sentence me to 10, 15 years, or to life imprisonment, or yes, to death. Ten years imprisonment mean for me a poor mark, 15 years in prison a pass mark, a life in custody ten out of ten; but if you condemn me to death, then I get a distinction, that is the best testimony that you can give me. Then you will prove to the revolutionary classes of the world that a true revolutionary has lived and has sealed his class consciousness with death. I am a fighter, I am a man of action: “Words cannot save us. Words break no chains. Action alone makes us free.”
My lawyers think it is important to declare that I am an idealist and a passionate fighter. How you feel about that means nothing to me. I cannot demand any bourgeois honor from you. You also cannot deny me bourgeois honor. I have never possessed the bourgeois honor that you are arguing about. For me, bourgeois honor means the art of living off the work of other people. It means a monocle in the eye, a full stomach and an empty head. For me, there is only one proletarian honor; you want to deny me this and you cannot. Proletarian honor means the solidarity of all the exploited, it means fraternity, it means proving by action that you love those who are close by you as your brothers. The world is our fatherland and all humanity our brothers.