At the beginning of the First World War, the international and national labour movement split over the question of the position towards this war. The major social democratic parties had concluded a truce with the respective national bourgeoisies. This meant that domestic political conflicts and economic disputes were put on the back burner and thus the war policies were supported.
In many European countries, opposition groups split from social democracy and formed communist organisations.
Out of this situation, between 29 December 1918 and 1 January 1919, the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands – KPD (lit. Communist Party of Germany – KPD) emerged from various left-wing revolutionary groups. The founding of the party represented the official separation of the revolutionary left from social democracy. Under the leadership of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, a Marxist programme was formulated and the construction of a socialist economy and the political power of the councils were propagated.
An important component of KPD policy in the mid-1920s was the establishment of the »Red Front Fighters‘ League« (RFB), which was to act as a »propaganda« and »demonstration army«. It organised demonstrations followed by cultural programmes to recruit members for the KPD.
Where possible, the RFB tried to prevent the numerous völkisch and fascist events of the time.
After the riots due to the internal political situation from 1 to 3 May 1929, during which the police shot and injured demonstrators and bystanders, the so-called Blutmai 1929, the RFB was banned and continued in illegality on a smaller scale.
As a result of the banning of the RFB, the KPD no longer had a mass organisation which, as an organ of the united front, could carry its politics onto the streets and organise non-party workers.
After the first great success of the NSDAP in 1930, the KPD therefore founded the »Kampfbund gegen den Faschismus« as a non-party proletarian mass organisation to fight fascism.
In 1932, in the course of the »Red Mass Self-Protection«, the »Anti-Fascist Action« was founded: »The Anti-Fascist Action must break the murderous terror of Hitler‘s fascism through the organised Red Mass Self-Protection in the broadest united front. Antifascist Action must block the path to power of Hitler fascism through the mass struggle for your demands, for the defence of the vital interests of all working people, through the strikes of the factory workers, through the mass actions of the millions of unemployed, through the political mass strike of the united working class! Anti-Fascist Action must bring to bear all the forces of the working class and the millions of labourers led by it in town and country in order to put a stop to the fascisation of Germany, in order to thwart the bloody plan of Hitler fascism, which wants to establish the open fascist dictatorship over Germany!«
However, the »Anti-Fascist Action« was not confined to the working class, even though it made up the largest part.
However, because of the sometimes confusing tactics of the KPD, it was not able to prevent the victory of German fascism. The rifts between the SPD and the KPD were too wide to be really effective against fascism.
The most important stance of the KPD can be described by the motto, For attack is the best defence. The KPD was the most important anti-fascist force in the Weimar Republic, opposing the prevailing conditions.
Despite everything, a critique of the KPD must be formulated. The structure and character of the party must be understood both in its historical context and with its contradictions. A party claiming to be a mass organisation, without formulating a fundamental critique of militarism, nationalism, anti-Semitism and patriarchy, cannot properly describe or change the prevailing conditions. Through this attitude, the ideology and values of bourgeois society of the time were often reproduced by the party.