Category Archives: The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.)

The Communist League: The Soviet Union and the Spanish Civil War

no-pasaran-ugt

‘Non-Intervention’? Between ourselves, it’s the same thing as profitable intervention – but profitable only for the other side’.

Charles-Maurice Talleyrand (1754-1838)

INTRODUCTION

In January 1996, the Association of Communist Workers and the Association of Indian Communists held an extremely interesting meeting in the Conway Hall, London, devoted to exposing the slanderous misrepresentation of the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War presented in Ken Leaches recent film ‘Land and Freedom’.

The main speaker was Bill Alexander, author of ‘British Volunteers for Liberty’. Bill Alexander himself fought in the British section of the International Brigade and movingly and eloquently disposed of Leaches attempt to whitewash the near-trotskyist ‘Party of Marxist Unification’.

In particular, Bill Alexander paid tribute to Stalin’s policy of military aid to the Republican forces and characterised the policy of ‘non intervention’ pursued by the European imperialist powers as the principal cause of the Republic’s defeat.

This stimulated a member of the audience to point out that the Soviet government participated in the Non-Intervention Agreement, and to ask if this indicated some duality in Soviet foreign policy, perhaps between rival groups in the leadership of Communist Party of the Soviet Union — one pursuing a Marxist-Leninist policy and one not.

Ella Rule replied front the platform that she felt that there was no duality in Soviet policy on Spain, since the Soviet policy of non-intervention was not simultaneous with, but succeeded by the Soviet policy of military aid to the Republican government.

While respecting Ella’s long-standing defence both of the Soviet Union and of the Spanish Republic, we do not believe that her theory on Soviet policy on Spain can be reconciled with known facts.

THE OUTBREAK OF THE CIVIL WAR

In January 1936, a number of ostensibly left-wing Spanish parties and organisations created an electoral bloc called the ‘Popular Front’. This adopted

“… a liberal programme set in a bourgeois framework and deliberately excluded Socialist demands”.

(Pierre Broué & Emile Témime: ‘The Revolution and the Civil War in Spain’; London; 1972; p.76).

At elections in February 1936, the Popular Front gained an overwhelming majority of deputies –

“… 277, as against 132 from the Right and 32 from the Centre”.

(Pierre Broué & Emile Témime: ibid.; p.77).

Despite the moderate nature of the Popular Front’s programme, it was unacceptable to the Spanish aristocracy, and in July 1936

“… a revolt against the Spanish Republic broke out in many military garrisons in Spanish Morocco. From thence the revolt spread rapidly throughout Spain…

The rebel forces… were led by General Franco.”

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 2; pp.2199, 2290).

The rebel military junta

“… had at their disposal the greater part of the armed forces of the country… They had also … the promise of Italian and German tanks and aeroplanes if necessary. Against these the Government had only the Republican Assault Guards and a small and badly armed air force”.

(Gerald Brenan: ‘The Spanish Labyrinth: An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Civil War’; Cambridge; 1971; p.316).

THE ATTITUDE OF THE WESTERN IMPERIALIST POWERS

The attitude of the British imperialist government was made clear at the very beginning of the civil war. It was to deny, on 31 July 1936, the legitimate Spanish government its traditional right under international law to purchase arms to defend itself. This action was disguised as

“… an arms embargo against both sides”.

(Robert H. Whealey: Foreign Intervention in the Spanish Civil War’, in: Raymond Carr (Ed.): ‘The Republic and the Civil War in Spain’: London; 1971; p.213).

But since Spain’s neighbour, France, also had a Popular Front government

“… the only other Popular Front regime in Europe” –

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 19; Chicago; 1994; p.520).

On 20 July 1936 the Spanish government

“… asked France . . . for 20 planes. Minister of Air Pierre Cot and Premier Léon Blum … agreed”.

(Robert H. Whealey: op.cit.; p.213).

“In 1935, the Spanish government had signed a trade agreement with France. One of the clauses stipulated that in case of need the Spanish Government could not purchase arms from any country other than France. With this agreement in its hand, the Republican government appealed to the French for the arms and equipment needed to protect the nation from aggression”.

(Dolores Ibarruri: ‘They shall not pass: The Autobiography of La Pasionaria’; London; 1960; pp.201-202).

However, the sympathies of the British imperialist government, headed by Stanley Baldwin, lay with the Spanish rebels, and

“… at the beginning of August (1936– Ed.) M. Léon Blum was informed (by London — Ed.) that the guarantee given by Great Britain to maintain the frontiers of France would not remain valid in the event of independent French action beyond the Pyranees”.

(André Géraud (‘Pertinax’): Preface to: Eleuthère N. Dzelepy: ‘The Spanish Plot’; London; 1937; p.viii).

“The British warning, as we knew at the time was conveyed to M. Yvon Delbos,. the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, in the course of a visit by Sir George Clerk, British Ambassador to Paris. Sir George is understood to have said that, if France should find herself in conflict with Germany as a result of having sold war material to the Spanish Government,. England would consider herself released from her obligations under the Locarno Pact and would not come to help”.

(Julio Alvarez del Vayo: ‘Freedom’s Battle’: London; 1937; pp.69-70).

In other words, if France were to give military assistance to the Spanish Government, its defensive alliance with Britain would be declared null and void.

Thus, according to Blum’s testimony to the French Chamber of Deputies in July 1947,

“… after visiting London on 22-23 July, Blunt was forced to reverse his decision to aid the Republic”.

(Robert H. Whealey: op.cit.; p.220).

So, on 25 July 1936,

“… the Blum government issued a decree forbidding the export of arms from France to Spain”.

(Ivan Naisky: ‘Spanish Notebooks’; London; 1966; p.29).

“The refusal of the French Government to hand over to the Republic the arms that had long ago been ordered and paid for was a veritable stab in the back for Spanish democracy”.

(‘International Solidarity with the Spanish Republic: 1936-1939′ (hereafter listed as ‘International Solidarity’; Moscow; 1976; p.362).

The United States imperialist government applied the 1935 Neutrality Act to the Spanish Civil War, but US corporations exported large quantities of much-needed oil to the rebels, this being exempted from its provisions:

“United States neutrality… favoured Franco, since American companies took advantage of the Neutrality Act’s failure to classify oil as a war material and began sending tankers to Lisbon on 18 July”.

(David Mitchell: ‘The Spanish Civil War’; London; 1982; p.70).

On the other hand, like Britain and France, the USA

“… refused to sell arms to the Republic”. (Harry Browne: ‘Spain’s Civil War’; Harlow; 1983; p.38).

But the arms embargo did non affect both sides in the civil war equally, since the rebels were in receipt of large supplies of arms from Germany, Italy and (to a lesser extent) Portugal:

“The Nationalists enjoyed the advantage of… military supplies from Italy and Germany. These played a crucial role in the Nationalist victory, especially at the end of July (1936 — Ed.,) when German and Italian aircraft facilitated the ferrying of the Army of Africa to Spain, thus allowing the Nationalists to sweep through Andaluzia and Estremadura.

(Gerald N. D. Howat (Ed.): ‘Dictionary of World History’. London; 1973; p.1,421).

On the other hand,

“… the fascist government of Italy and the Nazis met no obstacles in sending arms… to the assistance of the rebel generals”.

(Luigi Longo: ‘An Important Stage in the People’s Struggle against Fascism’, in: ‘International Solidarity ; op.cit.; p.11).

“While the legitimate government was being denied the right to purchase any type of arms, the insurgents were receiving all they needed from Germany and Italy”. (Dolores Ibarruri: op.cit.; p.202).

Furthermore,

“… the strongly pro-rebel government in Lisbon was not only supplying material but permitting transhipment of German and Italian supplies across its country”

(David T. Cattell: ‘Soviet Diplomacy and the Spanish Civil War’ (hereafter listed as ‘David T. Cattell (1957)’; Berkeley (USA); 1957; p.21).

As Australian-born author and translator Gilbert Murray said in a letter to the ‘Times’ in October 1936:

“The professedly double-edged embargo really cuts only one way. It keeps the Government forces unarmed for the benefit of the well-armed rebels”.

(Gilbert Murray: Letter to the ‘Times’ (22 October 1936): p.12).

SOVIET HUMANITARIAN AID TO THE SPANISH PEOPLE

From the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, both the Comintern and the Soviet Union organised extensive humanitarian aid to the Spanish people.

On the outbreak of the civil war, the decision was taken

“… to give financial aid to the republicans through the trades unions…

All public statements at this time about shipments from the USSR to Spain emphasised that they consisted of food and other supplies for the civilian population”.

(Edward H. Carr: ‘The Comintern and the Spanish Civil War1; London; 1984; p.16, 24).

By 6 August 1936,

“… there were already 12.1 million roubles in the open current account of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions Fund of Aid to Republican Spain, and by the end of October this sum had risen to 47.6 million roubles.

Food and clothing were purchased and sent to Spain with the money collected by Soviet people…

In December (1938 – Ed.) . . . the trade unions and other organisations had raised another 14 million roubles”.

(‘International Solidarity’; op.cit.; p.301-303).

Soviet and Comintern relief for Spain

“… consisting of food and clothing for women and children, started at the very beginning of the Civil War. In every city and town in the Soviet Union meetings were held during the first weeks of the rebellion to demonstrate solidarity with the Spanish people”.

(David T. Cattell: ‘Communism and the Spanish Civil War’ (hereafter listed as ‘David T. Cattell (1955)’; Berkeley (USA): 1955; p.70).

In addition to organisations linked with the Comintern, a

“… new network of organisations solely for the support of Spain… A typical organisation was the ‘International Committee for Aid to the Spanish People’ in Paris which, between August 1936 and June 1938 collected over half a million dollars”.

(David T. Cattell (1955): ibid.; p.71).

THE QUESTION OF SOVIET MILITARY ASSISTANCE TO SPAIN

On the question of whether the Comintern and the Soviet government should give material assistance to the war effort of the Spanish Republic, there were from the outset different views in high Soviet circles.

On this question,

“… no word came from the Soviet government or from Comintern…

The only decision taken was to give financial aid to the republicans through the trade unions”.

(Edward H. Carr: op.cit.; pp.15, 16).

and for two months the Comintern was silent on the question of the war:

“There does not appear to have been a Comintern statement on the outbreak of the Spanish civil war in July 1936″.

(Jane Degras (Ed.): ‘The Communist International: 1919-1943: Documents Volume 3; London; 1965; p.392).

“It was not until September 18 1936 that the Secretariat of ECCI… set out to define the attitude of Comintern to the Spanish War, now just two months old”.

(Edward H. Carr: op.cit.; p.20).

NON-INTERVENTION

On 1 August 1936, France addressed a Note to the British government

“… proposing that they associate themselves with the French action and strictly observe a policy of non-intervention in Spanish affairs…

On 4 August Britain returned a positive answer to the French proposal…

Then the French government addressed their proposal to other European powers”.

(Ivan Maisky: op cit.; p.29).

As Julio Alvarez del Vayo, who was Spanish Foreign Minister for most of the Civil War period, relates: the British government allowed it to be thought that the initiative for non-intervention’ came from the French Popular Front government in order to make the policy more acceptable to democratic public opinion than if it wore known to emanate front a British Tory government:

“The simple truth is that Non-Intervention was fathered in London. The legal experts in the British Foreign Office … made such efforts to attribute its paternity to a person less suspect than they of hostility to democratic principles. In M. Blum and the French Government they found the ideal sponsors for their creation. … Millions of supporters of the Popular Front in France … would certainly have raged against the plan had it been frankly labelled for what it was, the work of a British Tory Government. On the other hand, they were able to justify the plan… , in Parliament and in the country, by evoking its supposed paternity.

From that day on, the Quai d’Orsay (the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs)– Ed.), in all that referred to Spain, became a branch of the Foreign Office…

While in July 1936 France ostensibly took the initiative in proposing Non-Intervention, for the next three years she was to be denied any initiative whatever”.

(Julio Alvarez del Vayo: op. cit.; pp.68, 70).

On 23 August 1936,

“… the Soviet government adhered to the Agreement on ‘Non-Intervention’ in Spanish Affairs”

(Ivan Maisky: op.cit.; p.31).

As historian Edward Carr notes:

“Soviet acceptance, in view of the campaign in the USSR and in communist parties abroad in support of the republican government, at first sight seemed a surprising gesture”.

(Edward H. Carr: op.cit.; p.17).

The People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the USSR, Maksim Litvinov, admitted to a plenary session of the League of Nations in September 1936 that the Soviet government had adhered to the ‘Non-Intervention’ Agreement solely in order to oblige the French imperialists:

“The Soviet government has associated itself with the Declaration on Non-Intervention in Spanish Affairs only because a friendly power (i.e., France — IM) feared an international conflict it we did not do so”.

(Maksim Litvinov: Speech to Plenary Session of League of Nations (28 September 1936), in: Ivan Maisky: op.cit.; p.31).

THE ‘NON-INTERVENTION COMMITTEE’

On 26 August 1936 the French government put forward a new proposal;

“… the creation in London of a permanent Committee of representatives of all the participating countries, the main aim of the Committee being supervision of the exact observance of the Agreement by the powers which had signed it”.

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.29).

The Non-Intervention Committee’ functioned on

“… the unanimity principle’, (Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p 36).

the Soviet delegate — and every other — having the right of veto over all decisions.

All the European powers adhered to the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’ –officially called the ‘Committee for Non-Intervention in the Internal Affairs of Spain’ — except for

“… Spain, as the country around which the ‘quarantine of non-intervention’ was to be established, and Switzerland, which refused to participate”

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.30).

On 28 August 1936, an order was issued by the Soviet

“… People’s Commissar of Foreign Trade prohibiting the export of war supplies to Spain”.

(Max Beloff: ‘The Foreign Policy of Soviet Russia: 1929-1942′, Volume 2: ’1936-1941′; London; 1949; p.32).

On 9 September 1936, the Non-Intervention Committee had

“… its first meeting, and agreed that it should have a permanent Chairman. This post was offered to the British representative, Lord Plymouth”.

(Ivan Maisky: op.cit.; pp.30-31).

THE TRUE ROLE OF ‘NON-INTERVENTION’

The Non-Intervention Agreement

“… deprived states of the legal right to give aid to the legitimate government of Spain”.

(David T. Cattell (1957); op.cit.: p.15).

denying

“… the Spanish government the traditional right of buying arms to defend itself against domestic treason”.

(Harry Browne: op.cit.; p.37).

Although Germany. Italy and Portugal had signed the ‘Non-Intervention Pact’, they had not the slightest intention of adhering to its provisions, but continued to supply arms in large quantities to the Spanish rebels. Thus the real role of the Non-Intervention Agreement’ was to provide a screen behind which the Fascist powers could arm the rebels.

‘Non-Intervention’ was a farce which assisted the Fascist powers in their war against the Spanish Republic:

‘While the legitimate government was being denied the right to purchase any type of arms, the insurgents were receiving all they needed from Germany and Italy”

(Dolores Ibarruri: op.cit.; p.202).

“When the war ended, the Non-Intervention Pact had leaked copiously — and overwhelmingly in Franco’s direction”.

(David Mitchell: op.cit.; p.72).

“Throughout September 1936, while the flow of arms and equipment to the Nationalists from Italy and Germany steadily increased, the ban on shipments from . . . the USSR to Republican Spain remained effective”.

(Edward H. Carr: op.cit.; p.23).

“The policy of non-intervention ended by developing into a veritable blockade and an effective intervention in favour of the rebels”. (Eleuthère N. Dzelepy: op.cit.; p.77)

“Non-Intervention became one of the greatest farces of our time”.

(Julio Alvarez del Vayo: op.cit.; p.50).

“The so-called policy of non-intervention… in effect meant aiding and abetting the aggressor”.

(Dolores Ibarruri: ‘The Fight goes on’ in: ‘International Solidarity’; op.cit.; p.7).

“Non-intervention… contributed to the victory of fascism in Spain”.

(‘Great Soviet Encyclopaedia’, Volume 31; New York; 1972; p.176).

The true role of ‘Non-Intervention’ was admitted by Maksim Litvinov , who was People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs between 1930 and 1939:

“If the Non-Intervention Committee had anything to boast of, it was that it had genuinely interfered with the supplies for the legitimate Republican army and with the provision of food for the civil population in the territory occupied by the latter”.

(Maksim Litvinov: Speech at Political Committee of League of Nations (29 September 1938), in: William P.& Zelda Coates: ‘A History of Anglo-Soviet Relations’; London: 1943; p.569).

and by the German Ambassador to Britain, Joachim von Ribbentropp, who declared that the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’

“… might have been better called the Intervention Committee”.

(Joachim von Rippentropp, cited in: David Mitchell: op.cit.; p.71).

Stalin, in his report to the 18th Congress of the CPSU in March 1939, put the matter even more strongly — implying that ‘Non-Intervention’ was immoral and treacherous:

“Actually speaking, the policy of non-intervention means conniving at aggression, giving free rein to war and, consequently, transforming the war into a world war. The policy of non-intervention reveals an eagerness, a desire, not to hinder the aggressors in their nefarious work…

Far be it from me to moralise on the policy of non-intervention, to talk of treason, treachery and so on. It would be naive to preach morals to people who recognise no human morality”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Report on the Work of the Central Committee to the 18th Congress of the CPSU (B) (March 1939), in: ‘Works’, Volume 14; London; 1978; pp.365, 368).

THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST ‘NON-INTERVENTION’

As the true character of ‘Non-Intervention’ became increasingly clear, outspoken opposition to it arose in democratic and anti-fascist circles. This opposition was reflected in circles normally supportive of Soviet policy:

“The strict neutrality adopted by Moscow in the Spanish struggle was giving rise to embarrassing questions even in the friendliest quarters”

(Walter C. Krivitsky: ‘I was Stalin’s Agent’; London; 1939; p.101).

These circles included sections of the international communist movement, particularly in France. For example, headlines in L’Humanité, (Humanity), organ of the Communist Party of France, in September 1936 read:

“GUNS! PLANES!

END THE BLOCKADE WHICH IS KILLING OUR BROTHERS IN SPAIN”.

(‘L’Humanité’, 5 September 1936; p.1).

“FOR REPUBLICAN SPAIN.

FOR PEACE AND THE SECURITY OF FRANCE”.

(‘L’Humanité’, 7 September 1936; p.4).

“TO THE AID OF THE REPUBLICAN FIGHTERS OF SPAIN”.

(‘L’Humanité’, 14 September 1936; p.4).

“IT IS NECESSARY TO RECONSIDER THE PRINCIPLE OF NON-INTERVENTION”

(‘L’Humanité’, 20 September 1936; p.4).

“THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE OF FRANCE RISES EVER MORE STRONGLY FOR THE LIFTING OF THE BLOCKADE”..

(‘L’Humanité’, 21 September 1936; p.4).

Maurice Thorez, General Secretary of the Communist Party of France, wrote in ‘L’Humanité’:

“For the honour of the working class, for the honour of the Popular Front, for the honour of France, the blockade that is killing our Spanish brethren and that is killing peace must be lifted”.

(Maurice Thorez, in: ‘L’Humanité’ (9 September 1936), in: David T. Cattell (1957): op.cit.; p.24).

In August 1836, Paul Nizan wrote in the Comintern journal, ‘International Press Correspondence’

“This ‘neutrality’… is definitely to be challenged from the point of view of international justice…

While the government in Madrid is being actually affected by real sanctions, the rebels and the rebel government… have every sort of supply they can wish for at their disposal.

The actual blockade of Republican Spain must be raised at once. . .

The Communists will take the lead in this fight for the support of the

Spanish people”.

(Paul Nizan: ‘To the Aid of the Spanish Republic!’. in: ‘International Press Correspondence’, Volume 16, No. 37 (15 August 1936); p.990).

In a speech during the first week in September 1936, interrupted by shouts of ‘Aeroplanes for Spain’, French Prime Minister Léon Blum countered the campaign against ‘Non-Intervention’ by the reminder that the policy was supported by the Soviet government:

“Do not let us forget that the international convention of non-intervention in Spain bears the signature of Soviet Russia.” (Léon Blum: Statement, in: David T. Cattell (1957): op.cit.; p.24).

THE DIVISION IN THE CPSU

The campaign against ‘Non-Intervention’ was reflected within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. From early in the civil war, a rift was observable in the higher circles of the CPSU between those who stood for the furnishing of arms to the Spanish Republic — that is, the Marxist-Leninists and genuine anti-fascists — on the one hand, and those who stood for collaboration with the Western imperialist powers in the policy of ‘Non-Intervention’ on the other hand.

Lieutenant-Colonel Simon, the French military attaché in Moscow, reported to the French Minister of National Defence Edouard Daladier in August 1936, the existence of two rival factions in the leadership of the CPSU.

“The moderate faction . . . would wish to avoid all intervention.

The extremist faction on the other hand, considers that the USSR should not remain neutral but should support the legal government”.

(Lt.-Col. Simon: Letter to Edouard Daladier (13 August 1936). in: ‘Documents diplomatiques français: 1932-1939′, 2nd Series (1936-1939). Volume 3; Paris; 1966; p.208).

“Influential circles in the Russian Party, like most Leftists in Western countries, pressed for support for the Spanish republic. But this pressure was, for the time being, subject to the restraint of diplomatic expediency”. (Edward H. Carr: op.cit.; p.15).

“In foreign affairs, fundamentalist Bolsheviks tended to dislike Maksim Litvinov’s conciliatory approach to the West…

The Soviet press was hostile to the whole idea of Non-Intervention”

(Michael Alpert:: ‘A New International History of the Spanish Civil War’; Basingstoke; 1994; pp.50, 51).

THE CHANGE OF SOVIET POLICY TOWARDS SPAIN

As a result of the democratic pressure instanced above, the Marxist-Leninists in the leadership of the CPSU were able to bring about a fundamental change in Soviet policy towards the supply of arms to the Spanish Republic.

On 7 October 1936, Samual Kagan, Counsellor at the Soviet Embassy in London (who was Acting Soviet Representative on the Non-Intervention Committee) presented Lord Plymouth with a list of violations of the Non-Intervention Agreement and concluded with an ultimatum

“… that unless violations of the Agreement on Non-Intervention cease forthwith, it (the Soviet government — Ed.) will consider itself as freed from the obligations arising from the Agreement”.

(Samuel B. Kagan: Statement of 7 October 1936, in: Ivan Maisky: op. cit.; p.47).

On 15 October 1936, Stalin sent a telegram to José Diaz, leader of the Communist Party of Spain, saying:

“The workers of the Soviet Union are merely carrying out their duty in giving help within their power to the revolutionary masses of Spain. They are aware that the liberation of Spain from the yoke of fascist reactionaries is not a private affair of the Spanish people but the common cause of the whole of advanced and progressive mankind”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Telegram to CC, CPSp (15 October 1936), in: ‘Works’, Volume 14; London; 1978; p.149).

On 23 October 1936, Soviet Ambassador to Britain Ivan Maisky, who had now taken over as Soviet representative on the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’, sent a further statement to Lord Plymouth, saying:

“The Agreement has turned out to be an empty, torn scrap of paper. It has ceased in practice to exist. Not wishing to remain in the position of persons unwittingly assisting an unjust cause, the Government of the Soviet Union . cannot consider itself bound by the Agreement for Non-Intervention to any greater extent than any of the remaining participants of the Agreement”.

(Ivan Maisky; Statement of 23 October 1936, in; Ivan Naisky: op.cit.; p.48-49).

On 27 August 1936, Marcel Rozenberg arrived in Madrid as the first Soviet Ambassador to Spain

“… with an impressive retinue of military, naval and air attachés and experts

(Edward H. Carr; op.cit,; p.22).

SOVIET MILITARY AID TO THE SPANISH REPUBLIC

The defector Walter Krivitsky, who was at the time Chief of Soviet Military Intelligence in Europe, states that

“… the first communication from Moscow about Spain reached him on September 2″,

(Edward H. Carr: op.cit.; p.24).

and that it stated:

“Extend your operations immediately to cover Spanish Civil War. Mobilise all available agents and facilities for prompt creation of a system to purchase and transport arms to Spain”.

(Walter H. Krivitsky: op.cit.; p.100).

Within days,

“… an apparatus based upon Arms Purchase Commissions in European capitals and supervised by the NKVD (the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs — Ed.) . . was set up to organise the purchase of arms”

(Harry Browne: op.cit.; p.38).

“The first appearance of Soviet tanks and planes in the defence of Madrid late in October (1936– Ed.) and early in November made a tremendous Impression”.

(David Mitchell: op.cit.; p.63).

During the war:

“… the sending of military aid was never acknowledged…

No official Communist publication ever mentioned the sending of military equipment”.

(David T. Cattell (1955): op.cit.; p.72).

However,

“… the Soviet Union sent to the Spanish Government 806 military aircraft, mainly fighters, 362 tanks, 120 armoured cars, 1,555 artillery pieces, about 500,000 rifles, 340 grenade launchers, 15,113 machine-guns, more than 110,000 aerial bombs, about 3.4 million rounds of ammunition, 500,000 grenades, 862 million cartridges, 1,500 tons of gunpowder, torpedo boats, air defence searchlight installations, motor vehicles, radio stations, torpedoes and fuel”.

(‘International Solidarity’; op.cit.; p.329-30).

and under the new Soviet policy,

“… a little more than 2,000 Soviet volunteers fought and worked in Spain on the side of the Republic throughout the whole war, including 772 airmen, 351 tank men, 222 army advisers and instructors, 77 naval specialists, 100 artillery specialists, 52 other specialists, 130 aircraft factory workers and engineers, 156 radio operators and other signals men, and 204 interpreters”.

(‘International Solidarity’: op.cit.; p.328).

THE INTERNATIONAL BRIGADES

In September 1936,

“… the Secretariat of the Executive Committee of the Communist International took a decision to organise the recruitment of men with military experience”.

(Bill Alexander: ‘British Volunteers for Liberty: Spain 1936-1939′; London: 1982; p.53).

and the Spanish Republican Government

“… agreed, on 12 October 1936, to the formation of the International Brigades’1.

(Bill Alexander: ibid.: p.53).

On 17 October 1936,

“… the first recruits to the International Brigades arrived in Spain”.

(David Mitchell: op.cit.; p.63).

The International Brigades

“… formed a corps d’elite involved in all fighting of any importance until the end of 1938″.

(Pierre Broué & Emile Témime: op.cit.; p.375).

The total number of foreigners

“… who fought for the Spanish Republic was probably about 40,000, about 35,000 being in the International Brigades”.

(Hugh Thomas: ‘The Spanish Civil War’; London; 1977; p.982).

According to Dimitri Manuilsky at the 18th Congress of the CPSU, Spanish resistance

“… was made possible by the international support given to the Spanish people by the working people and above all the political support given them by the nations of the Soviet Union and by the father of all working people — Comrade Stalin”.

(Dimitri Manuilsky: Report on the Delegation of the CPSU (B) in the ECCI to the 18th Congress of the CPSU (b) (March 1939), in: ‘The Land of Socialism Today and Tomorrow ; Moscow; 1939; p.71).

THE SOVIET UNION AND SPAIN AFTER SEPTEMBER 1936

To sum up, in September 1936 the Soviet government reversed its previous policy and began to supply much needed military assistance to the Spanish Republic.

It might, therefore. seem at first glance as though the thesis presented at the January 1996 meeting by Ella Rule (p.1) — that there was no duality in Soviet foreign policy at the time of the Spanish civil war, since the Soviet policy of ‘non-intervention’ was succeeded by the Soviet policy of military aid to the Republican government — had validity.

Indeed, some well-known revisionists, like Dolores Ibarruri, assert precisely this:

“When the Soviet Union saw that in practice the Non-Intervention Committee was a cover for activities of the fascist and ‘democratic’ powers in favour of the insurgents, the Soviet Union declared on October 7 1937 (clearly an error for 1936 — Ed.) that it would withdraw its participation in the Non-Intervention Committee”. (Dolores Ibarruri: op.cit.; p.263).

But in fact, even after it had begun to supply military equipment to the Republican government, the Soviet Union did not withdraw from the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’. On the contrary,

“The Soviet Union did not make a move to leave the committee’1.

(David T. Cattell (1957): op.cit.; p.50).

“The USSR participated in the Agreement on ‘Non-Intervention’ and in the Committee for the same almost until they ceased to exist”.

(Ivan Maisky; op.cit.; p.32).

To be exact, only on 4 March 1939 did the TASS news agency announce the Soviet Union’s withdrawal from the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’:

“The Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR decided on 1 March of

this year to recall its representatives from the Committee for ‘Non-Intervention’”

(TASS News Agency: Statement (4 March 1939), in: Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p. 202).

This was a few days after the British and French governments had officially recognised the rebel government:

“On 27 February 1939 Britain and France officially recognised Franco and broke off diplomatic relations with the Republican government (Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.199).

and only a few weeks before the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’ was dissolved:

“On 20 April 1939 the Committee as a whole officially ceased to be”.

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.203).

A leading role in the decision to remain in the Non-Intervention Committee, and to ‘work closely’ on it with the British and French imperialists, was played by the Soviet People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs. Maksim Litvinov:

“The Soviet Union’s new policy generally took the form of working closely with France and England on the committee. It is believed that Litvinov was able to persuade the … rasher elements among the Soviet leaders and remain”.

(David T. Cattell (1957): op.cit.; p.50).

In other words, in the situation existing in the Soviet Union in 1936-39, the Marxist-Leninist forces were able to reverse Soviet policy on the supply of arms to the Spanish Republic, but not strong enough to carry this reversal through to its logical conclusion by repudiating the whole concept of ‘non-intervention’.

THE EFFECT OF CONTINUED SOVIET PARTICIPATION IN ‘NON~INTERVENTION’

The effect of the continued participation of the Soviet Union in the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’ was to continue to lend Soviet prestige to the false view that it was capable of playing a progressive role.

Over the next months, the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’ was able to carry through policies which would, without doubt, have been vociferously rejected by progressive opinion had it not been for the screen of Soviet support around them.

Firstly, they were able to sabotage the control plan which was ostensibly designed to make the paper arms embargo internationally effective.

From the very outset of the civil war, the Soviet Union refused to take part in the international naval patrols around Spain, preferring to ‘entrust this to the imperialist powers — Britain and France. As Litvinov said in a speech on 14 September 1937:

“I recall that at the very beginning of the Spanish conflict the Soviet Government proposed that naval control be entrusted to England and France alone, and that it consequently voluntarily renounced the right… to send its naval vessels into the Mediterranean to take part in the control”.

(Maksim Litvinov: Speech of 14 September 1937, in: Jane Degras (Ed.): ‘Soviet Documents on Foreign Policy’, Volume 3 (hereafter listed as ‘Jane Degras (Ed.) (1953)’); London; 1953; p.254).

As a result,

“… the coming into force of control during the night of 19-20 April 1937 swiftly demonstrated the futility of this policy”. (Pierre Broué & Emile Témime: op.cit.; p.342).

Even Litvinov admitted in an election speech on 27 November 1937:

“Control is established on the frontiers and coasts of Spain, but the control immediately springs a leak and whole divisions and army corps, with proportionate military equipment, penetrate to the Spanish mutineers1′.

(Maksim Litvinov: Election Speech of 27 November 1937, in: Jane Degras (Ed.) (1953): ibid.; p.267).

And on 17 September 1937, the British and French governments

“… informed the other 25 ‘Non-Intervention’ Powers . . . that they had decided to discontinue their naval patrols of the Spanish coast”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.2,744).

Secondly, they were able to halt the influx of volunteers to the International Brigades which played such an important role in the anti-fascist resistance.

On 4 December 1936,

“… the Soviet government came forward with a new, extremely important initiative”.

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.97).

This proposal was

“… that the Governments, parties to the Non-Intervention Agreement, shall undertake to prevent by every means the despatch and transit of volunteers to Spain”, (lvan Maisky: Letter to Non-Intervention Committee (4 December 1936), in: ibid.; 1). 97).

On 10 January 1937, the British Foreign Office declared that

“… the provisions of the Foreign Enlistment Act 1870 … are applicable in the case of the present conflict in Spain”, (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.2,411).

so that

“… it is … an offence for any British subject to accept or agree to accept any commission or engagement in the military, naval or air service of either party in the present conflict”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.2,411).

On 16 February 1937, the Non-Intervention Committee decided

“… to prohibit the passage to Spain of any ‘volunteers’ whatsoever as from 21 February 1937″

(Ivan Maisky: op.cit.; ibid.; p.106).

On 18 February 1937 the French government issued a decree

“… to forbid the recruiting of volunteers for Spain and their transport thither”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.2,463).

and on 20 February 1937 the Soviet government issued a decree stating:

“1. Citizens of the USSR are forbidden entrance into Spain to participate in the military activities underway in Spain’.

2. Recruiting of persons for participation in the military activities in Spain… is forbidden in the territory of the USSR”

(USSR Decree of 20 February 1937, in: Jane Degras (Ed.) (1953): op.cit.; p.234-35).

Thirdly, they were able to bring about the repatriation of volunteer fighters already serving in the International Brigades.

At a meeting of the Sub-Committee of the Non-Intervention Committee on 23 March 1937, Maisky declared:

“There is nothing more pressing and important for us at the present time than the evacuation from Spain of the so-called ‘volunteers’” (lvan Maisky: op.cit.; p.125).

and was not deterred when the Italian delegate, Dino Grandi, who had

“… only just agreed to… the evacuation of foreign combatants from the Pyrenean peninsula”,

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.125-26).

boasted

“Not one single Italian volunteer will leave Spain until Franco is victorious”.

(Dino Grandi: Statement at Sub-Committee of ‘Non-Intervention Committee’ (23 March 1937). in: Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.125).

On 14 July 1937, a new British plan was laid before the Committee. It included

“… the evacuation of all foreign combatants from Spain”.

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.158).

on 31 July 1937, a TASS communiqué stated:

“The Soviet Government considers that all foreigners… taking part in one way in military operations should be withdrawn from Spain. The Soviet Government is ready to co-operate in accomplishing this by all the means at its disposal”.

(TASS Communiqué (31 July 1937). in: Jane Degras (Ed.) (1953): op.cit. p.249).

on 5 July 1938, at a plenary meeting of the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’

“… the British plan for the withdrawal of foreign volunteers from Spain was unanimously adopted”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.3,735).

Although Franco later — on 30 December 1938– rejected the plan, (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.3,384).

on 23 September 1938, Prime Minister Juan Negrin

“… announced that his Government had decided on the immediate and complete withdrawal of all non-Spanish combatants fighting on its side”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.3,252).

THE DUALITY IN SOVIET POLICY TOWARDS SPAIN

The Soviet policies of military assistance to the Spanish republic and of co-operation in the work of the ‘Non-Intervention Coinmittee are contradictory and yet after September 1936 they were carried on simultaneously.

It is, therefore, clear that there was a duality in Soviet foreign policy towards Spain in this period.

This duality is explicable by the fact that, in addition to Marxist-Leninists like Stalin in the leadership of the CPSU — Marxist-Leninists who favoured military assistance to Spain — there were also revisionists, people who had departed from Marxist-Leninist principles, and who favoured co-operation with the appeasement policy of the West European powers at the expense of the Spanish Republic. The policy actually pursued by the Soviet government towards the Spanish Republic in this period was a compromise between these two opposed policies.

The most prominent Soviet politician in the second, revisionist, category was the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Maksim Litvinov.

THE ROLE OF MAKSIM LITVINOV

Introduction

Maksim Maksimovicb Litvinov was appointed Minister to Britain in January 1918:

“This appointment was officially made by Trotsky”,

(John Carswell. ‘The Exile: A Life of Ivy Litvinov’ London; 1983: p.86)

who was then People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs.

After being Deputy People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs in 1920-30, in July 1930 he succeeded Georgi Chicherin as People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, a post he held until 1939.

Litvinov’s Influence

Litvinov remoulded the Commissariat in his charge, filling it with his nominees:

“The People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs, as the Soviet Foreign Office was called, was an organisation largely created by Litvinov. He recruited its staff and designed its system…

The People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs, and many of the principal posts abroad, were already (1930 — Ed.) filled with his friends and nominees”.

(John Carswell: ibid.; p.109, 126).

Litvinov, married to an English wife, was steeped in West European culture:

“… Maksim had been soaked in the ways of the West”.

(John Carswell: ibid.; p.103).

“Maksim was the only surviving Old Bolshevik who had thoroughly assimilated Western European culture”.

(Edgar Snow: ‘Journey to the Beginning’; London; 1959; p.312).

and this was reflected politically in Litvinov’s support for cooperation with Western imperialism. He became

“… the best-known Soviet spokesman for . . . cooperation with the West”.

(Alexander Dallin: ‘Allied Leadership in the Second World War: Stalin’ in: ‘Survey’, Volume 21, Nos. 1/2 (Winter/Spring 1975); p.15).

In the period leading up to 1939, Litvinov was particularly associated with Soyiet attempts to form a ‘collective security’ alliance with the more satisfied (and so less aggressive) imperialist powers, such as Britain and France, against the less satisfied (and so more aggressive) imperialist powers, Germany, Italy and Japan:

“The Soviet Government … is prepared, as hitherto, to participate in collective action, the scope of which should have as its aim the stopping of the further development of aggression and the elimination of the increased danger of a new world slaughter”.

(Maksim Litvinov: Press Statement (17 March 1938). in: William P.& Zelda Coates: op. cit.; p 585).

He genuinely believed

“… that Soviet power and influence could best be promoted by collaboration with the West”.

(Voitech Mastny: ‘The Cassandra of the Foreign Comissariat: Maksirn Litvinov and the Cold War’, in: ‘Foreign Affairs’, Volume 54, No. 2 (January 1976); p.376).

Already, on 17 January 1938, Politburo member Andrei Zhdanov criticised the People’s Cornmissariat for Foreign Affairs for its liberal attitude towards certain imperialist powers:

“Almost every foreign power has a consul in Leningrad; and I must say that some of these consuls clearly go beyond their powers and duties and behave in an illegal fashion, engaging in activities prejudicial to the people and country to which they are accredited.

Why does the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs tolerate a state of affairs in which the number of consuls representing foreign powers in the USSR is not equal to but greater than the number of consuls representing the USSR in foreign countries?

Then, comrades, … what are we to think of a situation in which the government of a country (France — Ed.) with which we, the USSR, are in fairly close relations… allows organisations to exist on its territory which plan and carry out terrorism against the USSR?”

(Andrei Zhdanov: Speech on the Work of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs (17 January 1938). in: Jane Degras (Ed.) (1953): op.cit.; p.269, 270).

and Vyacheslav Molotov, then USSR Prime Minister, added in a speech to the USSR Supreme Soviet a few days later, on 19 January 1938:

“Comrade Zhdanov’s remarks about foreign consulates …have been carefully noted by the Council of People’s Commissars, which will in the near future take all the necessary steps.

Now to our relations with France. Here again we must recognise that Comrade Zhdanov’s remarks were well founded. . . . Refuge is found on French territory for every kind of adventurist and criminal organisation, nests of vipers, of terrorists and diversionists … How does this accord with the Soviet-French pact of friendship? The People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs should certainly look into this”.

(Vyacheslav Molotov: Speech at USSR Supreme Soviet (19 January 1938), in: Jane Degras (Ed.) (1953): op.cit.; pp.271, 272).

As Litvinov’s wife Ivy commented later:

“At the January (1938– Ed.) session of the Supreme Soviet, Zhdanov, made disparaging remarks about the administrative work of the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs. Litvinov’s name was not mentioned, but criticism is never lightly made in the Soviet Union…

Maksim was aware that he was out of favour”.

(Ivy Litvinov: ‘To Russia with Love’, in: ‘Observer Review’ (25 July 1976); p.17).

Litvinov and the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact

Even in 1937 British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax was already telling Hitler how much the British government admired his suppression of Communism in Germany:

“The great service the Fuehrer had rendered in the rebuilding of Germany were fully and completely recognised, and if British public Opinion was sometimes taking a critical attitude toward certain German problems, the reason might be in part that people in England were not fully informed of the motives and circumstances which underlie certain German measures…

The British Government were fully aware that … by destroying Communism in his country, he had barred the road to Western Europe, and that Germany therefore could rightly he regarded as a bulwark of the West against Bolshevism”.

(Lord Halifax: Record of a Conversation with Hitler (19 November 1937), in: ‘Documents and Materials relating to the Eve of the Second World War: From the Archives of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs’, Volume 1 (hereafter listed as ‘Archives’); Moscow; 1948; pp.19-20).

and was proposing to Berlin the formation of a four-power alliance to include Britain, France, Germany and Italy:

“After the ground had been prepared by an Anglo-German understanding, the four Great West-European powers must jointly lay the foundations for lasting peace in Europe.

The Fuehrer replied that … Lord Halifax had proposed an agreement of the four Western Powers as the ultimate aim of Anglo-German Cooperation”.

(‘Archives’; ibid.; p.29-30, 31).

In other words, the British government was already proposing that

“… Britain, and France as well, should join the ‘Berlin-Rome Axis’”

(Soviet Information Bureau: ‘Falsifiers of History (Historical Information); London; 1948; p.21).

In these circumstances,

“… the Soviet Union faced the alternative:

either to accept, for purposes of self-defence, Germany’s proposal to conclude a non-aggression pact and thereby ensure to the Soviet Union a prolongation of peace for a certain period of time which might be used by the Soviet State to prepare better its forces for resistance to a possible attack on the part of the aggressor;

or to reject Germany’s proposal for a non-aggression pact and thereby permit the war provocateurs from the camp of the Western Powers immediately to involve the Soviet Union in armed conflict with Germany at a time when the situation was utterly unfavourable to the Soviet Union and when it was completely isolated.

In this situation, the Soviet Government found itself compelled to make its choice and conclude the Non-Aggression Pact with Germany”.

(Soviet Information Bureau: ‘Falsifiers of History (Historical Information); London; 1948; p.44).

Litvinov, however, was, and remained, opposed to the Soviet government’s rapprochement with Germany.

“Litvinov . . . disapproved . . . of Stalin’s planned rapprochement with Germany’”.

(Voltech Mastny: op.cit.; p.367).

He

“… never, by word or hint, approved of Stalin’s pact policy with Hitler”.

(Louis Fischer: ‘The Great Challenge’; New York; 1971; p.54).

In May 1939, Litvinov was replaced as People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs by Vyacheslav Molotov. The change reflected the preparation for

“… a momentous change of foreign policy”,

(John Carswell: op.cit.; p.145).

for in August 1939 the Soviet government signed the Non-Aggression Pact with Germany.

It was at this time that Molotov made a more direct public criticism of ‘short-sighted’ people in the Soviet Union who ‘over-simplified anti-fascist propaganda’ and forgot about the danger from other (non-fascist) imperialist powers:

“There were short-sighted people in our country too who, tending to over-simplify anti-fascist propaganda, forgot this provocative work of our enemies”.

(Vyacheslav Molotoy: Statement in Supreme Soviet of the USSR on the Ratification of the Soviet-German Pact of Non-Aggression (August 31 1939); London; 1939; p.8).

In a biographical article on Litvinov, henry Roberts points out that Molotov’s comment

“… may be interpreted as a slap at Litvinov”.

(Henry L. Roberts: ‘Maksim Litvinov’ in: Gordon A. Craig & Felix Gilbert (Eds.): ‘The Diplomats: 1919-1939′; Princeton (USA); 1953; p.375).

The revisionist diplomat Andrei Gromyko, who was USSR Foreign Minister in a later period. writes in his memoirs about an incident in 1942:

“During Molotov’s visit to Washington in June 1942, I was struck by a conversation between him and Litvinov while the three of us were driving to the Appalachian mountains. We were talking about the French and the British, and Molotov sharply criticised their pre-war policy, which was aimed at pushing Hitler into war against the USSR. In other words, he voiced the official Party line. Litvinoy disagreed. This had been the prime reason for his removal from the post of Foreign Commissar in 1939 yet here he was, still stubbornly defending Britain’s and France’s refusal to join the Soviet Union and give Hitler a firm rebuff before he could make his fateful attack upon the USSR. Despite having been relieved of his post for such views, Litvinov continued to defend them in front of Molotov, and consequently in front of Stalin.

It was strange listening to someone who appeared not to have noticed Munich and its consequences”.

(Andrel Gromyko: ‘Memoirs’. London; 1989; p.312),

In 1948, however, the Soviet Information Bureau was still commenting politely on Litvinov’s removal:

“In the complex situation when the Fascist aggressors were preparing the Second World War, … it was necessary to have in such a responsible post as that of People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs a political leader with greater experience and greater popularity in the country than Maksim Litvinov”.

(‘Falsifiers of History’; op.cit.; p.16-17).

Litvinov’s Further Demotion

In February 1941, Litvinov was further demoted: the step was taken

“… of depriving Maksim of the one public position he retained — membership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party”.

(John Carswell: op.cit.; p.148).

This action was taken,

“.. according to the official announcement, because of non-fulfilment of his obligations’”.

(Vojtech Mastny: op.cit.; p.367).

According to Ivy Litvinov,

“… as Stalin was leaving the meeting, Lityinov called after him ‘Does this mean that you consider me an enemy of the people?’. The boss removed the pipe from his mouth to say . . . ‘We don’t consider you to be an enemy of the people’ “.

(Ivy Litvinov: op.cit.; p.17).

and John Carswell, the biographer of Ivy Litvinov, writes that

“… this humiliation… was an important stage in Maksim’s disillusionment with the ‘reality’ which the Revolution claimed to have created”.

(John Carswell: op.cit.; p.149).

Litvinov to Washington

However, in December 1941, some months after the German attack on the Soviet Union,

“… Stalin sent for for Litvinov, shook hands with him in a friendly manner and appointed him to Washington”. (Ilya Ehrenburg: ‘Men, Years — Life’, Volume 6: ‘Post-War Years: 1945-1954′, London; 1966; p.279).

And Litvinov’s biograoher Voitech Mastny remarks that in the new situation of Anglo-American-Soviet co-operation, Litvinov was

“… the right person to be chosen to reassure the West”.

(Voitech Mastny: op.cit.; p.368).

Litvinov Voices Dissent from Soviet Foreign Policy

Litvinov’s biographer Vojtech Mastny notes:

“Towards the end of his long and distinguished career in the Soviet diplomatic service, Maksim Litvinov tantalised his foreign interlocutors with increasingly candid expressions of dissent from his employers’ official line. There are several such incidents on record from May 1943 to February 1947″.

(Voitech Mastny: op.cit.; p.366).

In May 1943, having been recalled to Moscow, he is on record complaining to US Assistant Secretary of State Sumner Welles

“… that he was unable to communicate with Stalin, whose isolation then bred a distorted view of the West”.

(Voitech Mastny: ibid.; p.368).

However, according to the Soviet revisionist journalist Ilya Ehrenburg, Litvinov

“… was reticent in his opinion of him (Stalin — Ed.) . . . and only once, when speaking about foreign policy, said with a sigh: ‘He doesn’t know the West’”.

(Jlya Ehrenburg: op.cit.; p.278).

At the same time as Litvinov was recalled from the USA,

“… the other official protagonist of pro-Western reputation, Ambassador to London Ivan M. Maisky”,

(Vojtech Mastny: ibid.; p.368).

was recalled to Moscow.

Litvinov

“… still held the post of Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (the title of ‘People’s Commissar was changed to that of ‘Minister’ in January 1946 — Ed.) but was given work of little importance”.

(Ilya Ehrenburg: op.cit.; p,. 279).

In the first months of 1945,

“… Maksim made no secret of his view that the Yalta agreement, Stalin’s greatest diplomatic victory, was a disaster for the future of international relations”.

(John Carswell: op.cit.; p.158-59).

In June 1945 he is on record as complaining to American journalist Edgar Snow:

“We (Litvinov and Maisky — Ed.) are on the shelf…

The Commissariat (for Foreign Affairs — Ed.) is run by only three men and none of them knows or understands America and Britain…

Why did you Americans wait till right now to begin opposing us in the

Balkans and Eastern Europe? You should have done this three years ago.

Now it’s too late”.

(Edgar Snow: op.cit.; p.314, 357).

In June 1946 Lityinov gave an interview in Moscow to the correspondent of the Columbia Broadcasting System, Richard Hottelot. According to Hottelot,

“.. Litvinov’s attitude was one of resignation mixed with disgust and relief that he was not identified with his government’s foreign policy”

(Richard C. Hottelot: Interview with Maksim Litvinov (June 1946), in: ‘Washington Post’ (22 January 1952); p.11B).

According to Hottelot, Litvinov declared:

“The Kremlin cannot be trusted and cannot be appeased”.

(Maksim Litvinov: Interview with Richard Hottelot (June 1946), ‘Washington Post’ (21 January 1952); p.1).

so that any attempt by the Western powers to meet Soviet demands

“… would lead to the West being faced, after a more or less short time, with the next series of demands”.

(Maksim Litvinov: Interview with Richard Hottelot (June 1946), in:

‘Washington Post’ (21 January 1952); p.1).

Because of its content, the interview remained unpublished until after Litvinov’s death in December 1951. Hottelot explains Litvinov’s frankness by his wish to present his ‘political testament to the West’:

“This strange interlude awakened the impression that . . . it was meant as Litvinov’s political testament to the Western world”.

(Richard C. Hottelot: Interview with Makaim Litvinov (June 1946), ‘Washington Post’, 21 January 1952; p.4).

We knew his career had just come to an end… This was probably Litvinov’s last chance to be heard”.

(Richard C. Hottelot: Interview with Maksim Litvinov (June 1946), in: ‘Washington Post’ (24 January 1952); p.13).:

Litvinov’s Final Demotion

In August 1946,

“… ‘Pravda’ printed a brief notice in small type on its back page to the effect that Maksim Maksimovich Litvinov had been relieved of his post as Deputy Foreign Minister.

There was nothing more. He went into oblivion”.

(‘Washington Post’, 24 January 1952; p.13).

Ilya Ehrenburg notes that

“… Litvinov was not arrested, but Stalin removed him from all functions, … He was pensioned off, not at his own request”.

(Ilya Ehrenburg: op.cit.; p.278, 279).

However, he

“… followed the development of Soviet foreign policy with increasing disapproval. Much of his time was taken up in elaborating a long memorandum to Stalin which analysed and commented on what he called ‘Molotov’s’ errors”.

(John Carswell: op.cit.: p.161).

In fact,

“… his years of retirement were overshadowed by the possibility of denunciation and trial”.

John Carswel~: ibid.; p.161).

The Death of Litvinov

At Litvinov’s funeral in January 1952,

“… the highest ranking mourners were Deputy Prime Ministers”

(‘Washington Post’, 25 January 1952: p.21).

with

“… no one from the Politburo”.

(Henry L. Roberts: op.cit.; p.375).

CONCLUSION

Julio Alvarez del Vayo, who was Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republican government during most of the civil war, sums up

“… the whole saga of non-intervention”

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.203).

as follows:

“It was the finest example of the art of handing victims over to the aggressor States, while preserving the perfect manners of a gentleman and at the same time giving the impression that peace is the one objective and consideration”.

(Julio Alvarez del Vayo: op.cit.; p.252).

AND REVISIONIST ELEMENTS IN INFLUENTIAL POSITIONS IN THE CPSU WERE ACCOMPLICES IN THIS REACTIONARY FARCE.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alexander, Bill: ‘British Volunteers for Liberty: Spain 1936-1939′; London; 1982.
Alpert, Michael: ‘A New International History of the Spanish Civil War’; Basingstoke; 1994.
Alvarez del Vayo, Julio: ‘Freedom’s Battle’; London; 1937.
Beloff, Max: ‘The Foreign Policy of Soviet Russia: 1929-1941′, Volume 2; ’1936-1941′; London; 1945.
Brenan, Gerald: ‘The Spanish Labyrinth: An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Spanish Civil War’; Cambridge; 1971.
Broue, Pierre & Temime, Emile:’The Revolution and the Civil War in Spain’; London; 1972.
Browne, Harry: ‘Spain’s Civil War’; Harlow; 1983.
Carr, Edward H.: ‘The Comintern and the Spanish Civil War’; London; 1984. Carswell, John: ‘The Exile: A Life of Ivy Litvinov’; London’;
Cattell, David T.:’Communism and the Spanish Civil War’; Berkeley (USA); 1955.
Cattell, David T.:’Soviet Diplomacy and the Spanish Civil War’; Berkeley (USA); 1957.
Coates, William P. & Zelda: ‘A History of Anglo-Soviet Relations’; London; 1943.
Dallin, Alexander : ‘Allied Leadership in the Second World War: Stalin’, in: ‘Survey’, Volume 21, Nos. 1/2 (Winter/Spring 1975).
Degras, Jane (Ed.): ‘Soviet Documents on Foreign Policy’, Volume 3; London; 1953.
Degras, Jane (Ed.): ‘The Communist International: 1919-1943; Documents’, Volume 3; London; 1965.
Dzelepy, Eleuthere N.:’The Spanish Plot’; London; 1937.
Ehrenburg, Ilya: ‘Men, Years — Life’, Volume 6: ‘Post4~r Years: 1945-1954′; London; 1966.
Fischer, Louis: ‘The Great Challenge’; New York; 1971. Gromyko, Andrei: ‘Memoirs’; London; 1989.
Howat, Gerald M. D. (Ed.): ‘Dictionary of World History’; London; 1973. London; 1960.
Ibarruri, Dolores: ‘They shall not pass: The Autobiography of La Pasionaria’;
Krivitsky, Walter C.: ‘I was Stalin’s Agent’; London; 1939.
Maisky, Ivan: ‘Spanish Notebooks’; London; 1966.
Mastny, Vojtech: ‘The Cassandra of the Foreign Commssariat: Maksim Litvinov and the Cold War’, in: ‘Foreign Affairs’, Volume 54, No. 2 (January 1976). Mitchell, David: ‘The Spanish Civil War’; London; 1982.
Molotov, Vyacheslav M.:Statement in the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on the Ratification of the Soviet-German Pact of Non-Aggression of August 21, 1939; London; 1939.
Roberts, Henry L.:’Maksim Litvinov’, in: Gordon A. Craig & Felix Gilbert: ‘The Diplomats: 1919-1939′; Princeton (USA); 1953.
Snow, Edgar: ‘Journey to the Beginning’; London; 1959.
Thomas, Hugh: ‘The Spanish Civil War’; London; 1977.
Whealey, Robert H.: ‘Foreign Intervention in the Spanish Civil War’, in:
Raymond Carr (Ed.): ‘The Republic and the Civil War in Spain’; London; 1971.

- From ‘Documents and Materials relating to the Eve of the Second World War: From the Archives of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs’, Volume 1; Moscow; 1948.
– ‘Documents Diplomatiques Francais: 1932-1939; 2nd Series (1936-1939), Volume 3; Paris; 1966.
-’Falsifiers of History (Historical Information)’; London; 1948.
-’L’Humanite’.
-’International Press Correspondence’.
–’International Solidarity with the Spanish Republic: 1936-1939′; Moscow; 1976, — ‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives.
— ‘New Encylopaedia Britannica’.
— ‘Observer Review’.
— ‘Times’.

The Intrigues of Franco’s Trotskyist Agents

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On 16 March the anarchists’ central organ, Solidaridad Obrera, published in Barcelona berates the Soviet press with abusive attacks. And in particular, the author judges the dispatches from Soviet correspondents concerning the counter-revolutionary attitude of the Trotskyist organisation, the POUM, as a damaging tactic, the object of which is to sow discord in the ranks of the ‘anti-fascists of Spain’.

This sleazy little article, which rallies to the defence of the Trotskyist traitors, is the work is the work of obscure elements who have wheedled their way into the ranks of the anarcho-syndicalist organisation. These are the erstwhile collaborators of Primo de Rivera, of the ‘Fascist (and Trotskyist) Falange’. It is an open secret that outright reactionaries rule the roost in Solidaridad Obrera and that its real editor is Cánovas Cervantes, former editor of the fascist periodical La Tierra.

These agents of Franco’s have ensconced themselves in the anarchist organisation with an eye to shattering from within the unity of the Spanish people, but their designs will not bear fruit. Daily the anarcho-syndicalist masses are taking more to heart the notion that an iron discipline, a strong Popular Army is sorely needed. This is the reason why the enemies of the Spanish people, having infiltrated the ranks of anarchism, now attack the Popular Front with redoubled fury.

It is no coincidence that at the very time when the Italians were beginning their attack on Guadalajara, these accursed Trotskyists organised an armed uprising near Valencia. We also have to note that the Valencia periodical Nosotros, in its back page articles, issues daily calls for the release of those detained for their part in the armed uprising, among which are a number of self-confessed fascists. These demands are always accompanied by threats to the government.

Solidaridad Obrera’s anti-Soviet item shows us that the Trotskyists and other agents of the German and Italian secret police want to seize control of the anarchists’ main organ. This fact has already alarmed the leaders of the Catalan anarchists, who truly seek to combat the dark forces of international fascism. – N. Oliver

Pravda, 22 March 1937

Lessons of People’s War in Spain 1936-1939

4 R

Progressive Labor, Vol. 9, No. 5 (Oct.-Nov. 1974), 106-116.

The Spanish Civil War was the opening act of the Second World War in Europe. It was the military and political proving ground both for European Fascism, and for class-collaborationist policies that the old communist movement never outlived.

In one important respect, however, the Spanish War differed from the major conflict which was to follow. In Spain, the major capitalist powers united–despite their contradictions with one another–against the threat of proletarian revolution, a threat made real by the Asturias revolt of 1934. When the World War came, the lines were not drawn, as the imperialists had wished, with Hitler’s Germany attacking the Soviet Union, with active or “neutral” support from the “democracies.” Instead, the imperialists fought among themselves, leaving the Soviet workers to destroy Hitler virtually by themselves.

The History of the Civil war has long preoccupied red-baiters of all sorts, seeking to vilify Spanish communists, the Communist International, and Stalin. Anti-communist writers have produced almost as many pages of lies about the struggle in Spain as about the October Revolution. This article will be a brief attempt to exhume some of the lessons for the working class that have been buried under this mass of filth.

We will see that study of the war has practical value for communists of today on a number of points. We will see that the Spanish Communist Party (PCE) and the Comintern provided the only effective leadership–political and military–in the struggle against Fascism in Spain. The PCE, unlike all the groups of “left” creeps beloved of anti-communist writers from Orwell to Chomsky, was able to organize hundreds of thousands of working people into a powerful military force, despite the enormous material difficulties and their own weaknesses.

As for the errors of the PCE, they confirm major points of PL’s line: (I) communists lose when they abandon the struggle for workers’ dictatorship; (II) fighting fascism is critical for worker’s victory; (III) nationalism and alliances with bosses are disastrous; (IV) “unity” with various phony left groups–Anarchists and Trotskyites–is as fatal as “unity” with bosses.

The Spanish Republic

Spain was and is a minor capitalist power, largely agricultural, with major portions of its industry controlled from abroad. In the ’30s, industry was concentrated along the northern coast in Asturias and the Basque provinces (mainly mining) and in Catalonia on the east coast (light industry). The principal foreign owners were English, French, Belgian, Canadian and U.S. capitalists. The Catholic Church was a large land owner, and the Jesuits owned or controlled major banks, railways, mines, and factories.(1)

The Spanish Republic was established in 1931 when King Alfonso XIII decided to “suspend the use of (his) Royal Prerogatives” and leave the country.(2) Weakened and discredited by many years of colonial war against the Riffs in Morocco (costing over $800 million), and in the throes of the world economic depression, the monarchy was no longer a viable form of bourgeois rule, and was superceded first by a bourgeois republic and then by Fascism.

The Republic established universal suffrage (both sexes), promulgated a skimpy land reform, expanded public education, and reduced the prerogatives of the Army and the Catholic Church. The Catalan and Basque provinces were granted limited independence, and the Barcelona municipal government was reorganized as the Catalan Government, called the “Generalitat.”(3)

In 1932, General Sanjurjo led a small group of monarchists, landowners, clericalists and army officers in a coup against the Republic, but lacking support from the major forces of the ruling class, it failed. In the elections of November, 1933, however, the forces of the Right made substantial gains. The largest party in the Cortes (parliament) was the Rightist catholic party, CEDA, but the first government was formed as a coalition of Center parties, which halted or reversed many of the earlier reforms and amnestied Sanjurjo.(4)

In October, 1934, when a new government was formed with ministers from the CEDA, the Socialists and Communists of the UGT labor federation saw this as the onset of Fascism, and called a general strike in Madrid. The Socialist leadership of the UGT went underground, the large Anarchist-led labor federation (CNT) abstained, and the strike was short-lived. In Catalonia, the Generalitat declared independence from the central government, but the Anarchists again abstained and the rebellion was brief.

In Asturias, however, well-organized Socialist, Communist and Anarchist miners cooperated in a full-scale insurrection–in one place, declaring a Soviet Republic. The government called in the Foreign Legion and Moorish Regulares, commanded by Generals Goded and Franco. Franco, who had made his reputation in command of the Legion in the Moroccan wars, was selected for this similar job by multimillionaire Juan March, of whom we will hear more later.(5)

After bitter fighting, the rising was ruthlessly suppressed. As many as 3,000 workers were killed, mostly slaughtered after they surrendered. 30,000 prisoners were taken.(6)

The Rebellion in Asturias was a turning point in Spanish politics. Unlike the periodic rebellions of the Anarchists, it was sufficiently extensive and well-organized to show that working class revolution in Spain was a possibility to be reckoned with. The bosses learned this lesson well, but, for the most part, the Left did not, a failure which would lead to many future errors.

For the next elections of February, 1936, the parties of the Left formed a so-called “Popular Front” slate. The strategy of the Popular Front was developed at the 7th Congress of the Communist International, the idea being that in view of the dangers of Fascism and imperialist war, communists should form an alliance with Social-Democrats and some bourgeois elements to preserve bourgeois democracy and peace. This program was taken to include attempts to form united Socialist-Communist parties and, in some cases, communist participation in bourgeois governments. Thus the Popular Front was an alliance which included not only the rank-and-file, but also the class-collaborationist leadership of the Social-Democratic parties, and which supported the “good” liberal bosses against the “bad” Fascist ones. This line was made explicit by G. Dimitroff in his otherwise guarded exposition of the Popular Front strategy at the 7th Congress. Dimitroff claimed that those comrades who linked Roosevelt’s “New Deal” to Fascism were guilty of a “stereotyped approach” to the united front:

“One must indeed be a confirmed addict of the use of hackneyed schemes not to see that the most reactionary circles of American finance capital, which are attacking Roosevelt, represent first and foremost the very force which is stimulating and organizing the Fascist movement in the United States.”(7)

However, as subsequent events in Spain and elsewhere were to demonstrate, ruling class differences over Fascism versus bourgeois democracy were merely temporary and tactical. The very same bosses try to ensure their rule with “democracy” at one place or time and Fascism at another. We will see below how English, French and U.S. bosses, to which the Spanish Republic appealed for aid, helped their friendly local Fascists instead. We will also see how the utterly futile attempts of the Spanish communists to get ruling class support eventually cost them the war. The minimum condition for support was, of course, abandoning the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat. In fact the PCE agitated against workers’ rule and repudiated it as an immediate goal. This was a line not only for public consumption, but one around which they recruited and organized the party’s base. Thus when the treachery, incompetence and defeatism of the Republican government became absolutely unbearable, the PCE was willing and able to force some of the worst offenders from the government, but not to take power and lead the struggle through a workers’ government.

The Fascist Rising

In the February elections, the Popular Front won a major electoral victory, obtaining 278 seats in the Cortes, while the Right took only 134. The parties of the Center practically ceased to exist. Even Francisco Cambo, biggest capitalist in Catalonia, lost his seat.

The elections were not even completed before planning for another right-wing coup began, this time on a large scale. Franco urged the caretaker Prime Minister to declare a state of war and keep the Popular Front from taking office. His request was refused on the grounds that granting it would provoke a revolution.(8)

With this refusal, Franco began to plot in earnest, together with a number of generals, including Sanjurjo and Mola (both to die within the year under mysterious circumstances, thus incidentally assuring Franco’s ascendancy in the Fascist camp.)

Among others, the plotters included representatives of the feuding monarchist factions, the CEDA, and, through them, various financiers.(9)  Juan March, who reportedly contributed $15,000,000 to the coup,(10)  had left the country for France, but kept in contact with the plotters through his envoy, the Bishop of the Catholic Mission in France.(11) Francisco Cambo also left the country, having deposited the principal assets of his Catalan financial empire in Buenos Aires.(12) Cambo was apparently not directly involved in the coup, but supported it after the fact.(13)  The plotters were assured in advance of German and Italian financial support in exchange for metal ores.(14)

The tiny Falange Espanola, the “official” Fascist party of Spain, took part in the plot and together with the Carlists (monarchists) of Navarre, provided the whole of the minuscule popular support on which the plotters could count. The Falange was supported in its early days by Juan March, the Bank of Vizcaya (partly controlled by the Jesuits), various Basque industrialists and Bourbon monarchists.(15) After the rising, it was transformed into Franco’s party.(16)

Rumors of the plot were widespread. On July 13, PCE deputy Jose Diaz accused the Right in the Cortes: “You cannot deny that you are plotting, that you are preparing a coup.”(17) The same day, PCE spokeswoman Dolores Ibarurri (“La Pasionaria”) spoke in Asturias:

“Asturianos! Be vigilant. Reaction is even now in arms. If they dare attempt to rise, you will know what to do. Retrieve your arms now, from where you have hidden them–and keep your powder dry.”(18)

A good aspect of the PCE actions shown here was their reliance on workers to combat Fascism, but here and for the entire war, their outlook was largely defensive. Not: “let’s go kill the plotters and establish socialism,” but “let’s get them if they try anything.”

On the 16th of July, Franco flew in a British plane from his quasi-exile in the Canary Islands to Mallorca in the Mediterranean. On the plane with him was a certain Captain Pollard, agent of the British Secret Service. Pollard got the British Consul to intercede with the Republican authorities when the plane was seized for lack of papers. It was released.(19)

On the next afternoon, the Fascist rising began in Morocco. Hearing of the events in Morocco, the trade unions and parties of the Left demanded that the workers be armed by the government. In most areas, they were not, but many rebellious garrisons on the mainland were subdued by workers with arms taken from police and army units. At the end of this first phase of the rebellion, two-thirds of the territory of Spain and three-fourths of its population were held by the Republic. The main forces of the Fascists were the Foreign Legion and the Moorish Regulares of the Army of Africa in Morocco, but they could not cross the straits to Spain since the sailors of the fleet had arrested their officers and prevented them from joining the revolt. To get Franco out of this difficulty, Hitler sent the first substantial military aid, 20 transport planes to bring the Army of Africa to Spain. At its peak, German aid to Franco would stand at about 6,000 specialized troops of the Condor Legion, mainly tankmen, pilots, artillerymen and advisors, plus a large amount of material. The maximum size of the Italian forces was about 100,000 troops, with enormous quantities of material.(20) The European “democracies” chipped in with a “non-intervention” policy which began by refusal to sell arms to the Republic and worked up to a naval blockade in conjunction with Germany and Italy.

In May, 1937, the U.S. Neutrality Act became law, supplementing the informal efforts of the State Department to prevent arms sales to Spain.(21) In the first days of the fighting, Vacuum Oil refused to honor a contract to fuel Republican ships in Tangiers, and Texaco diverted five tankers of gasoline bound for the Republic to the Fascists.(22) The State Department tried to prevent the sale of aircraft to the Republic by Mexico.(23)  During the war, Texaco delivered at least 1,866,000 metric tons of petroleum products to Franco. Ford, General Motors and Studebaker sold a total of 12,000 trucks to Franco, as compared to 1,700 from Italy and 1,800 from Germany. Neither fuel nor trucks were sold to the Republic.(24)

U.S. companies also sold arms to the Fascists by first shipping them to Nazi Germany, from which they were transshipped to Spain. In 1938, Dupont-owned Atlas Powder Company sent 60,000 aerial bombs to Germany in this fashion, all marked “For transshipment to an undisclosed destination.”(25) In April, 1938, Roosevelt publicly admitted that the bombs falling on Republican cities were American-made. “It is all perfectly legal,” he said.(26)

Apart from the naval “non-intervention” patrol, Britain confined her aid to Franco to ammunition deliveries through Gibraltar and intelligence reports on Russian aid to the Republic, plus various commercial deals.(27)

For their part, the Popular Front government of France made its contribution to Fascism in a number of ways other than “non-intervention.” After selling the Republic a small quantity of obsolete aircraft, they closed the border to arms and volunteers. Volunteers for the Republic caught in France were imprisoned, but the largely communist-led underground organizations got many over the border. Large quantities of Soviet arms and arms purchased by the Comintern were held on French soil. After the fall of Catalonia, Republican refugees were treated to the best in ruling class hospitality–concentration camps.

Aid to the Republic from the Soviet Union began arriving in Spain in October, 1936, barely in time for a detachment of Soviet tanks to help in the defense of Madrid. The total number of Soviet personnel in Spain at any one time probably never totaled 700.(28) Soviet arms shipments were limited after the closing of the French border by the necessity to run the gauntlet of Italian submarines and aircraft and the “non-intervention” patrol–and also by the desire to avoid a world war, a desire unrealized in the event. According to Franco sources, 53 merchant ships were sunk, 324 captured and 1,000 detained at sea for carrying arms to the Republic. Not all of these were carrying Soviet war material, of course, but among the Soviet ships known sunk were the Komsomol, the Timiriazev, and the Blagoev.(29)

The general effect of foreign intervention of all sorts was that the Republic almost never fought with parity of arms, and typically faced odds in material and men of 3 or 4 to one.(30)

Communists Organize For Victory

After being transported from Morocco by Hitler’s planes, the Army of Africa advanced rapidly north through the open country of central Spain, pushing back the poorly armed and inexperienced militias of the Popular Front. As the militias retreated toward Madrid, however, resistance stiffened. The PCE urged the Republican government, headed by “left” Socialist fatmouth Francisco Largo Caballero, to organize fortification of the city. His reply: “Spaniards might fight from behind trees, but never from trenches.”(31)  Minister of War as well as Prime Minister, Largo displayed his dazzling incompetence only during specified hours; he would sign papers only between 8:30 and 9:00 A.M., and left orders not to be disturbed after 10:00 P.M.!(32) On November 6, the government formalized its abdication of responsibility for defense of the capital and moved to Valencia. All the ministers except the communists left with Largo Caballero, taking even the records of the Ministry of War.(33) On the 9th, as fierce fighting raged in the city, Largo sent a messenger to Madrid for the silverware he had left behind, but received only the reply that “we who have remained in Madrid are still eating.”(34)

Largo had left the defense of the capital to Miaja, an incompetent Republican general of doubtful loyalty, and to a Defense Junta of trade union and Popular Front representatives. Fortunately, Soviet General Goriev, nominally Miaja’s advisor, was on hand to handle the military planning of the defense.(35)

The even more important political side of the mobilization of the city’s population was led by the PCE. At the start of the rebellion, La Pasionaria’s broadcasts and speeches called for the resolute defense of Madrid: “They shall not pass!” “Madrid will be the tomb of Fascism!” Since then, the PCE had organized to make this a reality. Their famous Fifth Regiment had recruited over 60,000 militiamen (half PCE members), which soon became the backbone of the People’s Army. Modeled on the Soviet Red Army of Russian civil war days, the 5thRegiment had a system of political commissars responsible for the political understanding of the troops and commanders, and who acted as commanders themselves when the need arose. Tens of thousands of workers were trained in the Regiment, including the soon to be famous commanders Lister (a quarryman), Modesto (a woodcutter) and El Campesino (“The Peasant”). Barracks, commissary, and training schools were organized, as well as committees to look after families of recruits. Discipline came hard and a special company was organized as an example. The commissar of the 5th Regiment described this company to a journalist:

“We called it the “Steel Company” and made stringent requirements. To join this company a man must know something of arms, must have good health and must be guaranteed by some group as a determined anti-fascist. For this company we established special slogans designed to create an iron unity. ‘Never leave a comrade, wounded or dead, in the hands of the enemy’ was one of these. ‘If my comrade advances or retreats without orders, I have the right to shoot him’, was another.

How Madrid laughed at that. The Spaniard is such an individualist that nobody will accept such discipline, they said. Then our first Steel Company–mostly Communists and metalworkers–paraded through the city: it made a sensation. After that we created twenty-eight such companies of picked men, besides the ordinary muster of our regular Fifth Regiment militia.”(36)

Partly because of the seriousness and effectiveness with which the communists organized the militias, membership in the PCE, JSU (United Socialist Youth) and the PSUC (United Socialist Party of Catalonia, also affiliated with the Comintern) soared: from 30,000 at the beginning of the war to 200,000 at the end of 1936 to 1,000,000 by June, 1937.(37)

Foreign volunteers recruited largely by communist parties were organized into communist-led International Brigades. About 40,000 served in the Brigades, as many as 17,000 at any one time.(38) Like the Fifth Regiment, the Internationals were famous for their discipline and courage. Hemingway described the hill in Teruel defended by the German exiles of the Thaelmann Brigade as “a position that they sold as dearly as any position was sold in any war.”(39) The Internationals played a significant role in the early days of the fighting when troops with any sort of training were scarce, and fought well throughout. Their recruitment was an act of internationalism enormously appreciated by the Spanish workers. In the later part of the war, many Spaniards were recruited to the Brigades. Foreigners were withdrawn in 1938 in a vain effort to secure League of Nations action against German and Italian intervention. By that time, however, there were many crack units in the People’s Army.

As Fascist troops approached Madrid, Communists assumed the functions of the departed civil servants; radio, leaflets and banners urged the workers of Madrid to dig trenches and build barricades. Workers’ districts were organized block by block; 5th Regiment leaflets gave advice on battling tanks and house-to-house fighting.(40)

On November 7th, Franco’s troops, expecting an easy victory, assaulted the city from the west, southwest, and northwest, but were repulsed by the hard-pressed militias, particularly the Fifthh Regiment, in hand-to-hand fighting. For the 8th, the defenders prepared for renewed attacks, which they knew would come throughout the University City. The Fascist forces intentionally avoided attacking through the working-class districts “heavily seeded with Communist workers.”(41)

Resistance was furious in the University, with workers and Fascist troops occupying different floors of the same building. In some places rifles were so scarce that workers waited under cover until those with arms had been shot, then rushed out to pick up the guns and fight on.(42) In the afternoon, the vanguard of the recently constituted 11th International Brigade marched up the Gran Via, singing the Internationale. Crowds cheered the volunteers of the Edgar Andre (Belgian), Dombrowski (Polish) and Commune de Paris (French) battalions, shouting “United Proletarian Brothers,” the motto of the Asturias revolt of 1934. Many believed the Brigades to be Russian and gave vivas for “los russos.”

By nightfall, the much-needed machine guns of the Edgar Andres were in positions in the Hall of Philosophy in the University, and other brigades were distributed to vital points. Twice on the next day the Moroccan Tabors broke through militia lines at the Toledo and Princes Bridges, but were driven back with heavy losses.(43)  In the evening, the Internationals outflanked the Moroccans in the Casa de Campo, driving them back with enormous losses.(44)

From November 8th to the 15th, nine militia units came from other areas to aid Madrid. One, the 3,000-man Anarchist column from the Aragon Front, deserves mention for its example of Anarchist military organization. The column was led by Buenaventura Durruti, whose demands for an independent section of the front “so that their achievements could not then be claimed by other units” were supported by the Anarchist Minister of Justice.(45) 

The Anarchists were given a sector in the University City, with artillery and air support, but refused to attack. The next day, the Fascists attacked and the Anarchists broke and ran, abandoning a key bridge and positions in the University. Counterattacks by exhausted militiamen and Internationals regained some of the lost territory; lines thus established were to remain the same until the end of the war. Ashamed of the performance of his men, Durruti tried to persuade them not to leave Madrid but was shot and killed by one of them.(46)

Aragon and Catalonia: Anarchists and Trotskyites Play at Revolution

The Trotskyite POUM (Workers Party of Marxist Unification) was formed in October, 1935 by the fusion of two sects led by renegades from the PCE. Their activities were largely confined to Catalonia. Until their suppression in May, 1937, the POUM acted as an adjunct to the Anarchist Federation of Iberia (FAI) and the labor federation (CNT) which the FAI led. Vitriolic in their attacks on “Stalinists,”(47) the POUM merely offered friendly advice to the Anarchists, who held “similar ideas concerning hopes and perspectives on the revolution.”(48)

After the Fascist rising, the FAI-CNT was the strongest political force in Catalonia, dominating the Anti-Fascist Militias committee. This Committee held the real power in Barcelona for the first year of the war, although the Generalitat continued to have some influence in the countryside.(49)

Under Anarchist leadership, workers’ committees took over the factories in Barcelona and established agricultural collectives in rural areas, in some cases by force.(50) A number of foreign-owned plants were not confiscated; 87 British enterprises were protected by agreement with the British Consulate.(51)

Sources sympathetic to the Anarchists claim that their industrial experiments were successful, particularly in the arms industries,(52) and were sabotaged by the lack of credit from the central government. Conflicts with the central government did exist, but a more accurate explanation of the causes of industrial failures in Catalonia is given by Abad de Santillan, Anarchist member of the Militias Committee:

“We have not organized the economic apparatus which we had planned. We have been satisfied with throwing out the proprietors from the factories and putting ourselves in them, as committees of control. There has been no attempt at connections, there has been no coordination of the economy in due form. We have worked without plans and without real knowledge of what we were doing.”(53)

Abad de Santillan thought that this situation was improving at the end of 1936, but noted that 15,000-20,000 workers were still collecting wages without working.(54) The fact is that the individualistic and muddle-headed FAIists were incapable of giving the leadership that would have enabled the working class to organize industry effectively.

After the defeat of the Fascist rising in Barcelona, Anarchists and POUMists organized militias which “fought” on the Aragon front. Their military accomplishments were truly amazing: they made a demonstration in the direction of Zaragoza, the capital of Aragon, and settled in to trade occasional shots with the Fascists. New York Times correspondent Herbert Matthews was told by a POUM militiaman from the “Lenin” Division at Huesca that

“We used to play football with the Fascists down there on the plain. They were good fellows. They invited us to spend the weekend in Saragossa and Jaca, and promised they’d let us come back.”(55)

Huesca had been virtually surrounded by the inactive Catalan militias for 11 months when a major attempt was made to capture the city by newly-organized People’s Army forces.(56) The lull had been put to better use than football games by the Fascists, who had built substantial fortifications. The attack failed.(57)

Internationals relieving Anarchist troops on the Ebro Riber a year after the beginning of the war found no fortifications, and positions a full two kilometers from Fascist lines.(58) Exactly two casualties had been admitted to the nearby military hospital in the previous three months.(59) Anarchist militias had elevated chaos into a political principle. A leaflet distributed in Aragon stated that:

“We do not recognize military formations because this is the negation of Anarchism. Winning the war does not mean winning the revolution. Technology and strategy are important in the present war, not discipline which presupposes a negation of the personality.”(60)

If in nothing else, Durruti was certainly right when he lamented that “War is made by soldiers, not by Anarchists.”(61)

The Internationals also found a peasant population embittered against Republican forces by the Anarchist seizures. The commissar of the Lincoln Brigade found one farmer incredulous that he was offered money for food instead of worthless script.(62) The sullen attitudes of the Aragon farmers contrasted markedly with the enthusiastic support that had met the People’s Army forces outside Anarchist-controlled areas.(63)

On the Fascist side, the Aragon front was very weakly held: a Franco historian says that the Fascists were able to remove forces from that front to attack Madrid.(64) POUMists and their defenders have excused their criminal footdragging by the lack of arms for POUM and FAI-CNT forces, claiming that communists withheld Soviet material from Aragon.(65) Orwell, for example, explains their failure to attack, despite the desires of the rank-and-file militiamen, by the lack of artillery and maps, the difficult terrain, and the fact that there was only one machine gun for every fifty men.(66) With the same material difficulties–including one machine gun per fifty men–the communist-led 35th Division forced the Ebro River in July, 1938, advanced 25 kilometers, captured 4 towns and 2500 prisoners.(67)  The POUM leaders’ attitude is amply summed up by a remark Orwell quotes from his POUM commander Georges Kopp: “This is not war, it is comic opera with an occasional death.”(68) As we have seen, things weren’t so comic on the Madrid front.

Still, it must be said that the material shortages on the Aragon front do have a sinister explanation–but not the one the red-baiters offer. After the war, FAIist Abad de Santillan obliged us with a frank confession:

“If all the leaders of the Libertarian (anarchist) organizations had ever seriously resolved to send all their armament, their war material and their best men to the front–the war would easily have been over in a few months�We can no longer conceal the fact that while, at the front itself, we had by 30,000 rifles (and perhaps as many as 24 batteries, 200 heavy guns), in the rear, in the power of the organizations, we had an additional 60,000 rifles with more ammunition than was ever in the proximity of the enemy.”(69)

The intended purpose of these arms the anarchists kept from the front was combat with the other parties after the victory over Franco,(70) although the occasion never arose.

In fact, the opportunity for the supreme act of treachery did not come to the POUM or the Catalan Anarchists, but to Corp Commander Cipriano Mera, the highest ranking Anarchist officer in Spain. Mera’s contribution to Fascism came in 1939, when General Casado ran a coup against the Republican government to prevent further resistance to the Fascists. Communist commanders led their troops against Casado to put down the coup, but Mera brought his troops to Casado’s support and the PCE troops were defeated.(71)

The Trots Lose Their Playground

In Catalonia in late ’36 and early ’37, the disorganization of production, inflation, lack of serious prosecution of the war, and growth of the communist parties (PCE and PUSC) combined to weaken and discredit the POUM and the FAI. Faced with the clear failure of their utopian theories, the Anarchist movement began to disintegrate. In September, ’36, the FAI-CNT compromised their grotesquely anti-political principles and entered the Catalan Generalitat, along with the PUSC and Catalan Nationalist parties, with one delegate from the POUM.(72) Attacking the “Stalinists” for their advocacy of the Popular Front, the POUM was only too happy to be included in this one. Their incredibly sophistical defense of this action was that the “petty bourgeoisie” was collaborating with them, rather than vice-versa!(73)

In March, 1937, the central government ordered the confiscation of arms from the political parties(74); in Barcelona, measures were taken to curb the numerous street murders by the “uncontrollables”–thugs who had attached themselves to the FAI(75) — and to disband the militia “police.” The CNT and POUM declined to surrender arms or submit to the draft.(76)

Numerically insignificant, unable to build a base among workers and discredited by their “sheer inefficiency and incompetence all along the line,”(77)  the political bankruptcy of the POUM was complete. Dropping any pretense of fighting the Fascists, the POUM decided for an all-out battle against the communists instead.

On May 3, 1937, Catalan police chief Rodriguez Sala and the Generalitat representative for the Telephone Exchange went to the Exchange�s censorship department to complain of anarchist interference with government phone calls. Anarchist militiamen, who had held the exchange since the start of the war, fired from an upper floor. Brief fighting ensued, which was stopped by an FAI leader. Rumors of a “provocation” spread among CNT members and barricades were erected throughout the city. As sporadic fighting began between CNT and PUSC members, POUM leaders proposed to FAI-CNT leaders that communists be expelled from the government and “Stalinist” influence be eliminated in Catalonia once and for all.(78) The POUM was turned down flat.(79) Supported only by a small Anarchist group called the “Friends of Durriti” and a section of the Libertarian Youth, the POUM called for the overthrow of the Generalitat and the establishment of a Revolutionary Junta. Anarchist leaders attempted to secure truce in the barricade fighting and eventually did so, after several false starts. The arrival of 4,000 Assault Guards from Valencia assured that it would continue. Total casualties were reported as 400 killed, 1,000 wounded.(80)

In the central government, the PCE demanded the suppression of the POUM for these crimes. Largo Caballero refused, but this was the last straw even for members of his own party. Largo was ousted and Socialist Juan Negrin became Prime Minister. The POUM was suppressed, and about 40 POUMists arrested. Treacherous POUM leader Andres Nin was apparently executed by Soviet agents, small retribution for the deaths in Barcelona.(81) Other POUMists were held for trial on charges of espionage, treason, fomenting the fighting in Barcelona, and removing troops under their command from the front to Barcelona. At the trial, the POUMists denied they had helped to provoke the fighting, conveniently “forgetting” the articles in their own newspaper, La Batalla.(82) They even denied commanding the troops that had left the front at Heusca, some of them forced to return to the lines by the threat of bombing their buses.(83)  POUM “political secretary” Julian Gorkin was able to “remember” that La Batalla had reprinted a Fascist leaflet attacking the government which had been dropped over the lines. When Don Jose Gomis Soler, the public prosecutor, asked Gorkin why the source of the fascist leaflet was referred to in the tiniest type below the proclamation, Gorkin laughingly said: “This is a mere typographical matter.”(84)

The accused were found innocent of espionage and treason; all except one were found guilty of the other charges and sentenced to various terms.

Were the POUM Leaders Franco’s Agents?

The POUM leaders were accused by the PCE of being in the pay of Franco, and some of the incidents reported above indicate why this was plausible and widely believed in Republican Spain.(85)  Plainly, the POUM earned their money, even if they didn’t collect it.

On May 11, 5 days after the fighting began, Faupel, Hitler’s ambassador to Franco, wrote:

“Concerning the disorders in Barcelona, Franco has told me that the street fighting was provoked by his agents. Nicholas Franco has confirmed this report, informing me that they have a total of 13 agents in Barcelona. Some time ago one of them had reported that the tension between Anarchists and Communists in Barcelona was so great that it could well end in street fighting. The Generalissimo told me that at first he doubted this agent’s reports, but later they were confirmed by other agents. Ordinarily he didn’t intend to take advantage of the possibility until military operations had been established in Catalonia. But since the Reds had recently attacked Teruel to aid the Government of Euzcadi (the Basque provinces), he thought the time was right for the outbreak of disorders in Barcelona. In fact, a few days after he had received the order, the agent in question with three or four of this men, succeeded in provoking shooting in the streets which later led to the desired results.”(86)

Soon after the May fighting, a number of Franco agents were caught in Barcelona, and implicated Nin–perhaps for their own reasons.(87)

Some Catalan Anarchists openly expressed their Fascist sympathies. After the war, Abad de Santillan had praise for Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder of the Fascist Falange Espanola:

“Despite the difference which separated us, we can understand this “spiritual kinship” with Jose Antonio, who after all was a fighter and a patriot in search of solutions for his country�Spaniards of his stature, patriots such as he are not dangerous. They are not the enemy. As for changing the destiny of Spain, there had been, before July, 1936, diverse attempts to align with us. If an accord had been tactically feasible, it would have been according to the desires of his father, Primo de Rivera (dictator of Spain under the monarchy).”(88)

Such are the political degenerates lionized by phony leftists who attack and slander communists.

What the Communists Did Wrong–Racism

Throughout the war, Franco relied on troops recruited and conscripted in Spanish (and French) Morocco. Perhaps 100,000 Moors fought for the Fascists.(89)  The Fascists encouraged every sort of atrocity on the part of the Moors, playing on the racism of the Republicans with great success. Fascist General Quiepo de Llano broadcast revolting descriptions of the rapes to be committed by Moorish troops should they capture Madrid.(90) Republican propaganda repeated and embroidered this racist trash. Posters in Madrid depicted Moorish soldiers as “thick-lipped, hideously grinning, powerful turbaned figures attacking defenseless white women and bayoneting white children.”(91)

Republican Minister of Foreign Affairs Alvarez del Vayo characterized Moors as “immune from all political propaganda of a democratic nature.”(92)  The facts are the exact opposite. Representatives of the Riffs of Morocco, who had fought a long war for independence in the teens and twenties, offered to organize against Franco in return for independence from Spain. The Republican government turned them down flat, fearing French reaction to an independence movement adjoining their own colonies in Africa, and hoping to use Morocco for bargaining with other capitalist powers. A Catalan delegation of Communists and Anarchists supported the Moroccan request, but got nowhere.(93)

The PCE never made a public fight over this crucial issue, which should not only have been a matter of principle, but which could have produced a powerful and proven ally in the struggle against Franco. Nor did the PCE combat racism in any other way. Instead, they promoted it! La Pasionaria repeated the filth of Radio Seville, accusing the Fascists of lack of patriotism for urging the Moors to rape Spanish women:

�Peasant girls violated by legionaries, mercenaries, and Moors, who have been tempted from their African villages by the promise of a “good time,” bear witness to this “patriotism” of the fascist murderers.(94)

PCE promotion of racism was far more than a lost opportunity for militant allies in Morocco (and the Spanish mainland); it was an error that contributed to all sorts of weaknesses of line and strategic failures. French bosses were right to fear that an independent Spanish Morocco would ignite independence struggles in the neighboring French colonies. This would have been an excellent development for the Republic, drawing off French and British aid to Franco. A determined struggle against racism would have dealt a major blow to the many nationalist divisions in the Republic. These divisions constituted an enormously important weakness, contributing to Anarchist predominance in Catalonia, where the war was finally lost.

The development of a class understanding of racism and capitalism’s need for it might have force the communist movement world-wide to abandon their wrong line on the nature of Fascism and capitalist rule. In other words, understanding the role of racism under capitalism leads to understanding the necessity for workers’ power; as well as making it possible to fight for it. A key strategy for organizing the struggle for socialism is to unite with and rely on the most oppressed–and the most militant–working people. In the long colonial wars, the Moors had shown themselves to be just that.

Finally, fighting racism in Spain could have helped develop a better line in other countries when their volunteers returned. As it was, the Internationals absorbed the prevailing racist atmosphere and took that home. British volunteers actually called the Moors “niggers.”(95)

Guerrilla War

The racist failure to aid the Moors to rise in Franco’s rear is paralleled by the Republic’s failure to develop partisan warfare in Fascist-held Spain. Stalin (among others) had urged Largo Caballero to organize partisans in December, 1936,(96)  but the policy was rejected on the grounds of lack of trained cadre and arms.(97)

If the PCE had understood that the war must be won by relying on the workers and peasants of Spain and Morocco, rather than waiting for help from foreign capitalists, it would have been obvious that organizing guerrillas in Fascist areas was necessary and possible. Guerrillas had operated successfully in Spain since the Napoleonic Wars, and large numbers of leftist sympathizers were in Franco-held areas. Disaffection with the Fascist regime was enormous behind the lines. In May, 1938, Franco described 40% of the population in the areas he controlled as “unreliable.”(98)  Nevertheless, guerrilla operations in the war were largely limited to Soviet-organized commando and intelligence operations, and a great opportunity to expand and win People’s War in Spain was lost.

Socialism: The Only Way to Win

Despite the importance of the previous points, the key to victory in the civil war was the fight for the dictatorship of the proletariat, not as a vague objective for the far-off future, but the immediate program to put into effect. There can be no doubt that the opportunity for taking power existed: the PCE and PUSC were the real organizers of the war against Fascism, and could have united the working class even more completely around worker’s dictatorship than around “a new type of parliamentary-democratic republic”(99) –a fig-leaf for bourgeois rule.

The effect of not taking power was to leave it in the hands of bosses’ agents who sabotaged the struggle against Franco. “Socialist” Largo Caballero was more than an incompetent egomaniac–he went so far as to bargain with the British and French to exclude the communists and Soviet aircraft.(100)  His successor in the Ministry of War, “Socialist” Indalecio Prieto, went around telling everyone who would listen that the Republic was bound to lose, and did virtually nothing to oppose a successful Fascist drive to cut the Republic in two in March, 1938.(101) Instead of taking power, the PCE organized an enormous demonstration in Barcelona, demanding that Prieto be ousted (which he was). But purging the government of such criminals after they have done irreparable damage cannot win. It is merely a defensive strategy to stave off defeat a little longer.

In contrast, the Bolsheviks of 1917 used the self-exposure of the Social-Democrats in the government to show that only workers’ rule can accomplish what the working class needs–and they took power.

Instead of this revolutionary policy, the republic, supported by the PCE, mounted military offensives not to win, but to hold out and impress the capitalist “democracies.” Like the NLF’s Tet offensive, the Ebro offensive in July, 1938, had no real chance of defeating the enemy militarily. Like the Tet offensive, it was aimed at achieving a favorable position in negotiations with the enemy; the Republic hoped to exploit the developing contradictions of England, France, and the U.S. with the Fascist powers by showing that the Republic was still an anti-Fascist force to be reckoned with.(102)  Thus, a main element of Popular Front strategy was to rely on the very bosses who were supporting Franco, and the strategy worked no better in Spain that it did in Vietnam. The bosses can be relied on for racism, murder and exploitation, but not for help! The only alternative is to rely on the workers, and that means fighting for workers’ power. Spain shows clearly what relying on the bosses means, since 400,000 people–apart from those dead in the fighting–were slaughtered after the Republic fell.(103)

The policy of attempting to exploit contradictions among the imperialists was also followed by the Soviet Union during the Spanish War, despite the fact that the “democracies” were busy inciting Hitler to wipe out workers’ power in Russia. During the thirties, the Soviet government tried to concoct alliances for the forthcoming war with almost every combination of European powers, finally signing a pact with Hitler himself. Even though the imperialists were finally unable to overcome their rivalries and unite against the Soviet Union, Soviet workers were left to defeat the Nazis virtually alone.(104)

Thus, the clear lesson of Spain and the larger conflict which was to follow is that workers have absolutely nothing to gain from alliances with bosses. We must rely on our own strength, fight racism and settle for nothing short of workers’ power and socialism. If we learn this lesson and put it into practice, the struggles and sacrifices of Spanish workers, though representing a temporary defeat, will contribute to final victory over capitalism and put into practice the motto of Asturias: “UNITE PROLETARIAN BROTHERS!”

Footnotes

1. Frank Jellinek, The Civil War in Spain, London, 1938, Chaps I, II, IV.

2. Hugh Thomas, The Spanish Civil War, New York, 1961, p. 19.

  1.  Ibid., Chapters III, IV, V, VI, VII.
  2.  Ibid., Chapters VII, VIII.

5. Arthur Landis, Spain! The Unfinished Revolution, Baldwin Park, Cal., 1972, p. 58. Cited as “Landis.”

6. Thomas, pp. 80-5

7. G. Dimitroff, United Front Against Fascism, New York, 1937, p. 100.

8. Thomas, p. 96.

  1.  Ibid., p. 96.

10. G. Jackson, The Spanish Republic and Civil War, 1931-1939, Princeton, 1965, p. 417.

11. Jellinek, p. 285

  1.  Ibid., p. 75.

13. Richard Robinson, The Origins of Franco’s Spain, Pittsburg, 1970, p. 291.

14. Jellinek, p. 279.

15. Stanley Payne, Falange, Stanford; 1961, p. 45.

16. Jackson, pp. 356-8.

17. D. Ibarurri, They Shall Not Pass, New York, 1966, p. 185.

18. Quoted in Landis, p. 136.

  1.  Ibid., p. 105.

20. Jackson, p. 333.

21. Landis, p. 205.

  1.  Ibid.

23. Ibid., p. 207.

  1.  Ibid., p. 208.
  2.  Ibid.
  3.  Ibid.

27. German Charge d’Affairs in Fascist Spain, quoted ibid., p. 239.

28. Stanley Payne, The Spanish Revolution, New York, 1970, p. 324. Cited as “Payne.”

29. Landis, p. 243.

30. Arthur Landis, The Abraham Lincoln Brigade, New York, 1967, passim. Cited as “Landis, ALB.”

31. Landis, p. 246.

  1.  Ibid., p. 247.

33. Thomas, p. 319.

34. Quoted in Landis, p. 269.

35. Burnett Bolloten, The Grand Camouflage, New York, 1961, p. 239.

36. Anna Louise Strong, Spain in Arms, 1937, New York, 1937, pp. 42-3.

37. P. Broue & E. Temime, The Revolution and the Civil War in Spain, Cambridge, Mass., 1970, p. 229.

38. Landis, p. 252.

39. Quoted in Landis ALB, p. 376.

40. Landis, p. 262.

41. Quoted in ibid., p. 259.

  1.  Ibid., p. 267.
  2.  Ibid., pp. 268-9.
  3.  Ibid., p. 370.
  4.  Ibid., p. 273.
  5.  Ibid., pp. 275-6.

47. The Spanish Revolution, (POUM English-language newspaper), 2/3/37.

  1.  Ibid., 3/31/37.

49. Broue and Temime, pp. 130-3; Thomas, 187-92.

50. Quoted in Landis, p. 324. The source is J. Petro, Anarchist Minister in the Republic Government.

51. Payne, p. 246.

52. G. Brennan, The Spanish Labyrinth, Cambridge, U.K., 1943, p. 321.

53. Abad de Santillan, After the Revolution, New York, 1937, p. 122.

54. Ibid, p. 134.

55. Quoted in H.L. Matthews, Two Wars and More to Come, New York, 1938, p. 294.

  1.  Ibid., Thomas, p. 443.

57. Matthews, p. 295.

58. Landis ALB, pp. 252-6.

  1.  Ibid.

60. Quoted in Ibarurri, p. 285.

61. Quoted in Landis, p. 323.

62. Steve Nelson, The Volunteers, New York, 1953, p. 175.

  1.  Ibid.

64. M. Anzar, Historia Militar de la Guerra de Espania (1930-1939), Madrid, 1958; quoted in Landis, p. 320.

65. The Spanish Revolution, 2/17/37.

66. G. Orwell, Homage to Catalonia, New York, 1952, pp. 32-5.

67. Landis, p. 331; the battle is described in Landis ALB, p. 517ff.

68. Orwell, p. 32.

69. Abad de Santillan, Porque Perdimos la Guerra, Buenos Aires, 1940, pp. 67-8; quoted in Landis, p. 321.

  1.  Ibid.

71. Thomas, pp. 586-603.

72. Landis, p. 337.

73. The Spanish Revolution, 11/4/36.

74. Payne, p. 294.

  1.  Ibid.
  2.  Ibid.

77. F. Borkenau, quogted in Landis, p. 320.

78. Julian Gorkin (POUM leader), Nota sobre las Jornadas de Mayo de 1937, unpublished MS in Hoover Institute; cited in Payne, p. 297.

  1.  Ibid.

80. Thomas, pp. 424-9.

  1.  Ibid., pp. 452-5.

82. “The Treason Trial of the POUM,” World News and Views, vol. 18 (1938), #50, pp. 1143-4.

83. Ibarurri, p. 286.

84. E. Rolfe, in The Daily Worker, 12 Oct., ’38.

85. Claude Bowers (U.S. Ambassador to the Spanish Republic), My Mission to Spain, New York, 1954, p. 356.

86. Quoted in Ibarurri, p. 282.

87. Thomas pp. 454ff, 568; relevant documents are reprinted in The Communist International, vol. 16 (1939), p. 165ff.

88. Abad de Santillan, Porque Perdimos la Guerra, as quoted in Landis, p. 312.

89. Barton Whaley, Guerrillas in the Spanish Civil War, Detroit, 1969, p. 40.

90. Thomas, p. 181.

91. Whaley, p. 42.

92. Quoted ibid., p. 39.

93. Whaley, passim; Payne 270-2.

94. D. Ibarruri, Speeches and Articles, 1936-1938, New York, 1938, p. 130.

95. Whaley, p. 42.

  1.  Ibid., p. 15
  2.  Ibid., p. 13.

98. Jackson, p. 429.

99. D. Ibarruri, “The Time Has Come to Create a Single Party of the Proletariat in Spain,” Communist International, vol. 14 (1937), #9, p. 651.

100. Payne, pp. 270-2.

101. Landis, p. 372; Landis ALB, p. 401ff.

102. Jackson, p. 454.

103. Landis, p. 405. Executions were still taking place in 1944 (ibid.)

104. In the Battle of Stalingrad, military and political turning point of World War II, the Red Army destroyed 113 Fascist divisions, two and one half times the German forces facing the Normandy invasion. (See, for example, G. Deborin, Secrets of the Second World War, Moscow, 1971, pp. 100, 163). While the Soviet workers were making enormous sacrifices to destroy the German armies, the capitalist “allies” were delaying a second front, fooling around with minor operations in North Africa and Sicily for public relations. When the second front was finally launched in Normandy, a year and a half after the Stalingrad victory, one main motive was simply fear of communist revolution in Europe (with Soviet army support), which would have denied the imperialists any slice of the European pie. Omar Bradley, commander of the U.S. troops in Europe, put this point with some frankness after the war:

To avoid chaos on the continent it would have been necessary for us to move such forces as we had, cross the Channel at one, move on into Germany, disarm its troops and seize control of the nation. (quoted in Deborin, P. 161)

In the final reckoning, the Red Army destroyed 507 German divisions, plus 100 of her allies’, as against 176 on all other fronts (Deborin, p. 269). U.S. and British aid to the Soviet Union provided only 1.9% of the guns, 8.3% of the planes and 10.5% of the tanks used by the Red Army, many of them of very inferior quality, plus some food and a quantity of trucks (Deborin, pp. 130-3, A. Werth, Russia at War, 1941-1945, New York, 1964, pp. 575-7). No significant aid reached the Soviet Union in time for Stalingrad.

Communist Party of Spain (PCE) Denounces the POUM

Pce2

Originally printed in the newspaper Frente Rojo on 6 February 1937

The fascist Trotskyist party should be dissolved and tried as fascist. The guttersnipe POUM has become desperate now that its infamy has been unmasked, and has unleashed a demogogic campaign against the solid wall of anti-fascist unity at the orders of its foreign masters.

We have continued to accuse them, conclusively showing their adventurism and showing that they are a faction organised behind our back. It’s not a matter of ideological disagreement nor even of physical revulsion towards a party of traitors, but of something deeper and more important. It’s a matter of the distance between those who are in the vanguard of our people and of the agents of the Gestapo. It’s a matter of a group of bandits which fascism has left amongst us.

Even now in the slander sheet called La Batalla, published in Barcelona, they defend themselves with the following inconsistent and comical arguments: referring to the trial against the Trotskyists they say it is an ‘iniquitous farce’ and in the following line accept that the ambassadors of France and the United States were present. That is to say, that a trial held in the presence of hundreds of foreign journalists and of the diplomatic corps, with legal guarantees for the accused such as no other country would provide, is described by the POUM as a farce. Naturally its Spanish accomplices are not going to recognise the justice exercised on a group of assassins. In Spain when we come to judge the Trotskyists – for we and our fraternal colleague – Mundo Obrero – demand that a people’s court try the fascist leaders of this organisation – their accomplices of some other place will say that our people’s justice has been an iniquitous farce.

In this same number of La Batalla … against the anti-fascists they write that they have received numerous protests from ‘comrades and sympathisers’ over an article by Goltsov in L’Humanité, protests that they don’t reproduce … for lack of space. Of course, they won’t print Franco’s congratulations.

Their cynicism elsewhere makes them state in answer to a report in the Official Monday Bulletin that ‘there was no picture of Trotsky in the meeting organised by the POUM in Barcelona.’ These contemptible people, conscious of the indignation which the picture of the leader of these international bandits arouses, don’t dare to exhibit it before their own members.

The secret aims of fascism are not well served by association with the criminal Trotsky. Who knows what new possibility they are seeking in order to serve the interests of the fascist agents amongst us.

Here is another proof that the POUM guttersnipes serve fascism and nothing but fascism. As all the world knows, the legitimate government has dissolved the so-called security patrols and has organised a single police force in the rear.

As all the world also knows, this force is formed from members of all the anti-fascist forces and the trade unions. Therefore, La Batalla of Wednesday shouts … ‘Long live the security patrols’ and writes elsewhere that the police force in the rear is the armed reserve of reaction. That is to say, they rabidly oppose the government’s measures and slander the people’s police force. If all who sabotage the government and insult its defenders should be considered fascists, then the provocateurs of the POUM are fascists.

That’s why it’s necessary to finish with this band of bandits and mete out the justice which these fascists deserve.

Source

Grover Furr: German Intelligence, Communist Anti-Trotskyism, and the Barcelona “May Days” of 1937

speciale11[1]

Originally posted by Grover Furr

German Intelligence, Communist Anti-Trotskyism, and the Barcelona “May Days” of 1937

I’m writing an article on the falsifications in Khrushchev’s infamous 1956 “Secret Speech.” A few weeks ago I ran across the following statement, in an article on the subject of this speech:

“…в угоду политической конъюнктуре деятельность Троцкого и его сторонников за границей в 1930-1940 годах сводят лишь к пропагандистской работе. Но это не так. Троцкисты действовали активно: организовали, используя поддержку лиц, связанных с абвером, мятеж против республиканского правительства в Барселоне в 1937 году. Из троцкистских кругов в спецслужбы Франции и Германии шли “наводящие” материалы о действиях компартий в поддержку Советского Союза. О связях с абвером лидеров троцкистского мятежа в Барселоне в 1937 году сообщил нам Шульце-Бойзен…Впоследствии, после ареста, гестапо обвинило его в передаче нам данной информации, и этот факт фигурировал в смертном приговоре гитлеровского суда по его делу.” (| Судоплатов, П. “Разведка и Кремль.” М., 1996, с. 88; | Haase, N. Das Reichskriegsgericht und der Widerstand gegen nationalsozialistische Herrschaft. Berlin, 1993, S. 105) [1]

English translation from Gen. Pavel Sudoplatov, _The Intelligence Service and the Kremlin, Moscow 1996, p. 58: 

“In the interests of the political situation the activities of Trotsky and his supporters abroad in the 1930s are said to have been propaganda only. But this is not so. The Trotskyists were also involved in actions. Making us of the support of persons with ties to German military intelligence [the ‘Abwehr’] they organized a revolt against the Republican government in Barcelona in 1937. From Trotskyist circles in the French and German special intelligence services came “indicative” information concerning the actions of the Communist Parties in supporting the Soviet Union. Concerning the connections of the leaders of the Trotskyist revolt in Barcelona in 1937 we were informed by Schuze-Boysen… Afterward, after his arrest, the Gestapo accused him of transmitting this information to us, and this fact figured in his death sentence by the Hitlerite court in his case.” 

This passage is indeed in Sudoplatov’s book. But the footnote to the Haase volume is not. I assume it was added either by Lifshits, author of the Russian-language article, or by Trosten, author of the German version. 

So I obtained the Haase volume. The text on pp. 105 ff. is the actual text of the German Reichskriegsgericht (Military Court of the Reich) against Harro Schulze-Boysen, charged with espionage for the Soviet Union (Haase, Norbert. Das Reichskriegsgericht und der Widerstand gegen die nationalsozialistische Herrschaft. Berlin: Druckerei der Justizvollzugsanstalt Tegel, 1993).The relevant paragraph, also on p. 105, reads thus:

Anfang 1938, während des Spanienkrieges, erfuhr der Angeklagte dienstlich, daß unter Mitwirkung des deutschen Geheimdienstes im Gebiet von Barcelona ein Aufstand gegen die dortige rote Regierung vorbereitet werde. Diese Nachricht wurde von ihm gemeinsam mit der von Pöllnitz der sowjetrussischen Botschaft in Paris zugeleitet.

English translation: 

“At the beginning of 1938, during the Spanish Civil War, the accused learned in his official capacity that a rebellion against the local red government in the territory of Barcelona was being prepared with the co-operation of the German Secret Service. This information, together with that of Pöllnitz, was transmitted by him to the Soviet Russian embassy in Paris.”

“Pöllnitz” was Gisella von Pöllnitz, a recent recruit to the “Red Orchestra” (Rote Kapelle) anti-Nazi Soviet spy ring who worked for United Press and who “shoved the report through the mailbox of the Soviet embassy” (Brysac, Resisting Hitler: Mildred Harnack and the Red Orchestra. Oxford University Press, 2000, p. 237). 

* * * * *

By itself Sudoplatov’s statement only proves that Soviet intelligence sincerely believed that Trotskyists were involved with “persons with ties to German military intelligence” in preparing this revolt. By the time he wrote his memoirs, in the 1990s, Sudoplatov was very anti-Soviet, and showed much remorse for many of the things he had done in the Soviet secret service. The fact that he insisted that the Trotskyists were involved with the Nazis in the “May Days” revolt of 1937 in Barcelona surely means that he sincerely believed it was true.

The information from the German Military Court published by Haase provides independent confirmation of Sudoplatov’s statement and of Soviet contentions at the time. It fully confirms Communist suspicions that German intelligence was involved in planning the Barcelona revolt of May 1937. Communist hostility towards Trotskyists and Trotskyism becomes understandable in the light of this information. 

There’s good evidence that the real panic over clandestine Trotskyists did not take place, even in the USSR, until after the May Days in Barcelona, 1937. Stalin’s speeches (two of them) to the February – March 1937 Central Committee Plenum, minimized the dangers of Trotskyists; declared them marginalized; and encouraged CC members not to discriminate against people who used to be Trotskyists but no longer were. [2]

By June or July this had all changed. At the enlarged session of the Military Soviet, held on June 1-4 to discuss the just-uncovered and very serious Tukhachevsky conspiracy, Stalin gave a speech in which he states that Tukhachevsky and the rest “tried to make out of the USSR another Spain.” [3] The meant create a civil war, of course. But specifically it seems to have meant: Do what the Trotskyists and others had done in the May Days in Barcelona — stab the USSR in the back in the course of a war with the fascists.

The Soviet NKVD had very credible evidence that Trotskyists were collaborating with the German military and Japanese. Soviet leaders certainly believed it. Pavel Sudoplatov believed it, in his memoirs, and he became very, very “anti-Stalin” and anti-Soviet in his old age.

The real panicked hunt for hidden oppositionists, Rights, Trotskyists, and others, began after that Plenum, in the atmosphere of the Tukhachevsky conspiracy. But the Tukhachevsky conspiracy was preceded by the Barcelona “May Days” revolt. 

The German Military Court evidence cited above shows that the German Secret Service was involved in the planning of the “May Days” revolt. Later in May 1937 Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky wrote out by hand a lengthy statement in which he admitted to conspiring against the Soviet Union with the German General Staff. [4] Tukhachevsky stated that the commanders discussed their planned revolt with Trotsky. These events provide the most likely explanation for the beginning of the fervent persecution by Communists of Trotskyists in Spain. [5]

Notes

[1] S Lifshits, “Preslovutyi Doklak Khrushcheva, ili CACATUM NON EST PICTUM”. In Moskva Sadovoe Kol’tso, http://m-s-k.newmail.ru , downloaded July 5 2004. The same article is published as a pamphlet in German: Gersch Troston, Chruschtschows berüchtigte Rede, oder CACATUM NON EST PICTUM (hingeschissen ist nicht gemalt). «Marxistisch-leninistische Schriftenreihe für Geschichte, Politik, Ökonomie und Philosophie» (ISSN 1861-2954), Heft 45. Berlin: Ernst-Thaelmann-Verlag, n.d. I have verified all the Russian and English quotations in this article with the originals.

[2] J.V. Stalin, Mastering Bolshevism. NY: Workers Library Publishers, 1937, pp. 26-7; 43-4. Cited from http://ptb.lashout.net/marx2mao/Stalin/MB37.html

[3] J.V. Stalin, “Speech by J.V. Stalin at the Ministry of Defense,” Secret Documents. Toronto, CA: Northstar Compass, n.d. [1996], p. 115: “These people tried to make out of the USSR another Spain…” Original in Lubianka. Stalin i Glavnoe Upravlenie Gosbezopasnosti NKVD 1937-1938. Eds. V.N. Khaustov et al. Moscow: “Materik”, 2004, p. 206; Stalin, Sochineniia [Collected Works], vol. 14, at http://grachev62.narod.ru/stalin/t14/t14_48.htm 

[4] Partial English translation in Steven J. Main, “The Arrest and ‘Testimony’ of Marshal of the Soviet Union M.N. Tukhachevsky (May – June 1937),” Journal of Slavic Military Studies 10, No. 1 (1997), 151-195. Trotsky and his followers are mentioned throughout Tukhachevsky’s statement.

[5] It’s important to emphasize that there is no evidence that any Trotskyists were killed by Soviet or other communists in Spain, with the exception of Andres Nin, POUM leader and former secretary of Trotsky. See Grover Furr, “Fraudulent Anti-Communist Scholarship From A “Respectable” Conservative Source: Prof. Paul Johnson,” at http://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/pol/pauljohnsonfraud.html

Grover Furr: Anatomy of a Fraudulent Scholarly Work: Ronald Radosh’s “Spain Betrayed”

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Grover Furr

Spain Betrayed: The Soviet Union in the Spanish Civil War by Ronald Radosh (Editor), Mary Radosh Habeck (Editor), Grigory Sevostianov (Editor). Annals of Communism series. Yale University Press, June 2001.

1. Long awaited and published to rave reviews — albeit predictably by Cold War conservatives (Arnold Beichman) and anti-communist liberals (Christopher Hitchens) — Radosh’s commentary on the 81 documents from the Comintern archives in Moscow concerning its involvement in the Spanish Civil War turns out to be notable for quite another reason: it is an utterly fraudulent work. [1]

2. In the course of this review-essay I’ll present a lot of evidence to substantiate this serious charge. I’ll also discuss, though briefly, the major positive reviews of the book. They are full of the same stuff. In several instances, an innocent reader might think that the reviewers had not actually read the documents themselves, but only Radosh’s commentary. For how could anyone compare what the Comintern documents state with what Radosh says about them, without noticing the enormous discrepancies between the two?

3. I won’t say much in this report about the documents themselves. Many of them are fascinating and valuable, though Radosh, in his zeal to arraign the communists, basically neglects them.

4. But one conclusion is so striking that it cannot be left unstated. Far from showing Soviet “betrayal,” these 81 documents make the Comintern, the International Brigades, and the massive Soviet aid to Spain appear in an extremely positive light. Reading the documents alone, and ignoring Radosh’s “commentary,” any objective person will come away with tremendous respect for the communist effort in the Spanish Civil War, not only by the Comintern and the justly famed International Brigades, but of the Soviet Union — or, as Radosh says it, in his crude demonizing synecdoche, of “Moscow” and “Stalin.”

5. Despite itself, Radosh’s book represents something valuable: an object lesson in the rhetorical strategies of anti-communism. Perhaps the biggest question of all — “Why lie, if the truth is on your side?” — will require a few remarks about the uses of anti-Stalinism in foreclosing any objective understanding of the successes and failures of the communist movement.

6. Radosh’s book contains so many errors and distortions that even a much longer review could not discuss them all. Therefore, I examine the documents in which the major “revelations” are supposedly to be found. To identify those, I’ve used (a) the four-page publicity handout from Yale University Press that accompanies the book, and (b) a number of the major reviews favorable to this volume, from leading publications (all are listed at the end). A few other documents were chosen because they seem to me particularly interesting. This close examination constitutes the bulk of the review.

7. I’ll also point out some examples of simple editorial incompetence. Radosh could have provided useful summaries of long and significant documents, or helpful and specific references to other scholarly work — surely the duty of a competent commentator — but scarcely ever does.

8. At the end of the review I’ve included some remarks of a more general nature about the issues raised both by these documents themselves and by Radosh’s commentary. There’s a good deal that can be said by Marxists in criticism of the Bolsheviks and the Comintern during the Stalin period — or of any political group, communist or not, at any period — and in conclusion I’ll allude to one or two things with special reference to Spain. But any and all criticism should be based on what actually happened as that can be deduced from the best evidence available, rather than on fabrications or demonization, as with Radosh and many other Cold-War writers, either from the Right or, not infrequently, the so-called Left.

9. What follows is a short outline of the main ideological frameworks for interpreting the Spanish Civil War. Some knowledge of them is essential to an appreciation of Radosh’s interpretation, the documents themselves, and the present review. Considerations of space preclude any more detailed discussion of the foundational texts of these frameworks. (I am planning a critique of Orwell’s influential book at a future time.)

10. The Spanish Civil War has always posed a special problem for the kind of anti-communist who is determined to argue that the leadership of the international Communist movement never acted out of any idealistic motives. Such people are convinced — at any rate, they are determined to convince others — that all communist struggles, no matter how noble in appearance, were in reality aimed at manipulative, cynical, authoritarian goals, ultimately far worse than those of the capitalist exploiters they professed to oppose. Khrushchev’s portrayal of a malevolent, virtually demonic Stalin after 1956, while it differed little from Trotsky’s, was far more influential, and except in China and Albania quickly became widely accepted within the Communist movement itself. It was essential in smoothing the path for Trotskyist and, in terms of Spain, Anarchist narratives, hitherto current only among tiny, marginalized groups.

11. George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia is basically such an account, though Orwell’s superior literary ability, British patriotism during World War II, and subsequent endorsement of mainstream Cold War ideology, gave his work the status of a somewhat independent authority. Orwell’s book remains the main representative of these anti-communist paradigms, the only book about the Spanish Civil War that most people ever encounter.

12. According to this interpretation, further popularized in British director Ken Loach’s film Land and Freedom (1995), Trotskyists and, especially, Anarchists are the true revolutionaries, collectivizing the land, ceding control of factories to the workers, and promoting egalitarian relations generally. The Communists are portrayed as counter-revolutionaries, whose rank-and-file think they are fighting to defeat the fascists in order that, in the victorious bourgeois-democratic Spanish Republic, they can then initiate a struggle for working-class revolution, but whose leadership — Stalin — aims in reality at a bleak authoritarian dictatorship of the kind Trotskyists, Anarchists, conventional capitalist anti-communists and even fascists, claimed was the state of affairs in the USSR itself. This creates a certain tension within the otherwise “united front” of anti-communist versions of the Spanish Civil War, since capitalist anti-communism is normally aimed at the radical, not the putatively conservative, nature of the communist movement.

13. The Communist version, on the other hand — the version by far the best supported by the evidence — is that the “United Front Against Fascism” and for a liberal, bourgeois-democratic (and therefore capitalist) society was the only way to unite as many social forces as possible, including nationalists, urban capitalists, and wealthier peasants, to defeat the fascists. According to this view, upon victory a Spanish Republic would have a strong, organized working class which would continue the fight for progressive social reforms and, ultimately, socialist revolution. The Communists held that to begin a revolutionary struggle in the midst of the war against the fascist armies would guarantee the defeat of the Republic — a defeat which, in fact, happened.

14. A critique of the Communist view from the Left is certainly warranted — indeed, essential. But what passes for a “left” critique, the Anarchist-Trotskyist version outlined above, accepts the basic premises of the reactionary Cold War critique, to the point that it can be cited in service to the latter, as Radosh does here. To clear the ground for a real Left critique, it is first necessary to recover the historical truth of what did, in fact, happen, both in the Spanish Civil War and in the Soviet Union itself. A real Left critique of the Comintern’s politics which both fully and correctly appreciates its successes and goes beyond it to identify the main roots of its failures, is yet to be made, despite a few promising starts which have long been available, albeit little known (see below, and note 6).

15. Radosh’s own view, as represented in his commentary in Spain Betrayed, is contradictory. In places Radosh argues, according to the fashion of conservative capitalist anti-communists, that the Comintern was hiding its truly revolutionary intentions. In other passages, however, he endorses the Orwell-Trotskyist-Anarchist view that the Communists were a conservative force that “betrayed” the revolutionary potential in Spain. Radosh seems untroubled by, indeed unaware of, this basic contradiction, as in the case of the many passages in which he — in the most generous description of his practice — makes flagrant and egregious errors in reading the very texts upon which he is “commenting.”

Document 5

16. Document 5, a report by Georgi Dimitrov, head of the Comintern, to the Secretariat of the ECCI (Executive Committee, Communist International) of July 23, 1936, contains the following lines:

We should not, at the present stage, assign the task of creating soviets and try to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat in Spain. That would be a fatal mistake.

Radosh claims that this statement (a statement repeated in the press release)

. . . supports the contention of some scholars that the Communists purposely disguised their true objective, social revolution. (5-6)

But it does not. It clearly states that there are “stages,” the present one being the stage of “maintaining unity with the petty bourgeoisie and the peasants and the radical intelligentsia . . .” (11). Radosh’s claim could only be true if he gave evidence that the Communists were denying what everyone would have expected of them — to wish to move to another “stage,” once the fascists were defeated. Radosh gives no evidence that the Communists were making any such claims to have abandoned the ultimate goal of a Soviet-style revolution in Spain. So there can be no question of “disguising their true objective.”

17. It ought also to be noted that Radosh also wants it “both ways.” Sometimes he criticizes the Communists for opposing social revolution, which the Anarchists supposedly stood for. This is Ken Loach’s main contention in Land and Freedom. But other times, as here, Radosh criticizes the Communists for wanting social revolution but supposedly “disguising” their intentions.

18. Document 5 also offers an obvious mistranslation from the Russian. Immediately after the lines quoted above, Radosh et al. allege that Dimitrov wrote the following:

Therefore we must say: act in the guise of defending the Republic. . . . (p.11; emphasis added)

In his commentary Radosh states:

The very careful use of these terms, as well as the injunction to “act under the semblance of defending the republic,” supports the contention of some scholars that the Communists purposely disguised their true objective, social revolution. (pp. 5-6; emphasis added)

19. Evidently Radosh is referring to a different translation of the document than that which finally ended up in the volume, although arguably “in the guise of” and “under the semblance of” convey much the same thing: duplicity, dishonesty. However, there is an interesting footnote in the text of Document 5 attached to the phrase “in the guise.” That note, number 11 on page 515, reads thus: “Literally, ‘under the banner.’” In other words, what Dimitrov actually said is this:

Therefore we must say: act under the banner of defense of the Republic. . . .

20. The question is: What does “under the banner” — in Russian, “pod znamenem” — mean in Russian? The answer is: it means the opposite of what Radosh says it means. Rather than “under the semblance” or “in the guise,” it means “in service to” or “in defense of.” At exactly this time, one of the foremost Soviet philosophical journals was titled “Pod Znamenem Marksisma“: literally, “Under the Banner of Marxism,” often translated as “In Defense of Marxism.” No one would even think of translating that title as “In the Guise of,” or “Under the Semblance of,” Marxism! “Under the banner of” is a military metaphor, meaning “In the ranks of.”

21. In other words, what Dimitrov actually said was:

. . . act in defense of the Republic. . . .

There must be an interesting story behind that footnote. Whoever translated Document 5 — Radosh tells us (p. xxxi) that there were two translators for the Russian documents — that person evidently knew that “in the guise” was not the correct translation, and wanted to tell the world, even if by a footnote, that he or she was not responsible for this particular mistranslation.

22. This is the only mistranslation from the Russian that can be discerned in this collection, because Radosh et al. don’t give us the documents in the original languages (mostly Russian, but a few in Spanish, German and French). This would have been easy to do — on a book-related web page, for example. But the way this mistranslation is treated makes one wonder whether there may be more.

Document 42

23. Radosh spends a lot of words on Documents 42 through 44 because one of the central points of his book is that in these documents, especially Document 42, is to be found the proof that the Communists instigated the Barcelona uprising of May, 1937 as a pretext for violently suppressing their Anarchist opposition.

24. Briefly, the context for Radosh’s comments is as follows, in the words of Helen Graham, who has written authoritatively and most recently on this event (Graham 1999, p. 485):

On the afternoon of Monday 3 May 1937 a detachment of police attempted to seize control of Barcelona’s central telephone exchange (Telefónica) in order to remove the anarchist militia forces present therein. . . . Those days of social protest and rebellion have been represented in many accounts, of which the single best known is still George Orwell’s contemporary diary account, Homage to Catalonia, recently given cinematic form in Ken Loach’s Land and Freedom. It is paradoxical, then, that the May events remain among the least understood in the history of the civil war.

25. Radosh takes Document 42 to be directly related to this event:

. . . we have the proof that the view held by the Communists’ opponents was essentially correct. The Spanish Communist Party, with the support and knowledge of the Comintern and Moscow, had decided to provoke a clash, in the full understanding that the outcome would give them precisely the opportunity they had long been seeking. (174)

Radosh does not bother to tell us what would have been wrong with the communists’ seizing the telephone exchange from the anarchists. After all, the government, not one of the various parties, should have been in control of the exchange. And the assault was led by the Police Chief of Barcelona who, though a communist, was also a government official.

26. The anarchists had clearly been prepared for such an attack for a long time — after all, they had a machine-gun nest in the first floor which prevented the police from seizing the building at once. What justification did the anarchists — not the government, but one of the political parties in Barcelona — have controlling the telephone exchange in the first place?

27. The words that Radosh takes as “proof” that “the view held by the Communists’ opponents was essentially correct” — I emphasize “essentially” because even Radosh feels he has to qualify this statement, evidently realizing he is on weak grounds here — are as follows:

. . . the author of the report noted that the Communists had decided not to wait for a crisis, but to “hasten it and, if necessary, to provoke it” (emphasis added).

But Document 42 says nothing whatsoever about the attack on the telephone exchange, or about any plan for confrontation with the anarchists. The sentence quoted in part by Radosh in his commentary reads this way in full:

In a word, to go decisively and consciously to battle against Caballero and his entire circle, consisting of some leaders of the UGT. This means not to wait passively for a “natural” unleashing of the hidden government crisis, but to hasten it and, if necessary, provoke it, in order to obtain a solution for these problems.  . . . The leadership of the party is more and more coming to the conviction that with Caballero and his circle the Republic will be defeated, despite all the conditions guaranteeing victory. (194)

These lines do not refer at all to the attempt by the Communist Chief of Police to take possession for the Republican government of the telephone exchange that had been unlawfully seized and held by the anarchists, the event that precipitated the “May Days” in Barcelona and to which Radosh tries to tie this statement, or to any plan to incite any actions against the anarchists. Instead, the paragraph quoted just above refers to the previous points 8 through 14 of Document 42, in which the unnamed communist author says that the PCE has decided to take action against the Caballero government. There is nothing whatsoever in this document that connects it with the attempt to retake the telephone exchange.

28. Radosh’s allegation — one of the “bombshell” findings Radosh claims to have found — is a lie. This whole “discovery” is a complete swindle on the unsuspecting reader. I stress this point because Radosh’s supposed “discovery” here has been so widely touted as one of the major “revelations” of these Soviet documents. For example, the Press Release from Yale University Press that accompanied the books publication lists seven documents and summarizes what Radosh says they contain. The blurb on Document 42 reads:

Barcelona — the civil war within the Civil War. The five-day street battle in Barcelona was portrayed by Orwell in Homage to Catalonia and by Ken Loach in the film Land and Freedom. The historical dispute has always been: Was the anarchist reaction deliberately provoked? Document 42 shows that the view held by the Communists’ opponents was essentially correct. The Spanish Communist Party, with the support and knowledge of the Comintern, decided to provoke the clash. (emphasis added)

We should also note, in passing, the esteem in which Loach and Orwell are held by establishment anti-Communist ideologues like Radosh, and the way in which the echo-chamber of the “big lie” functions in the blurb above by pairing these supposed “authorities” with the specious “facts” that Radosh is creating here.

29. Richard Bernstein, whose very positive review of Radosh’s book appeared in the New York Times, tacitly recognizes that Document 42 did not prove what Radosh says it proves:

Two weeks later, the Communists, in the view of this book’s editors, did provoke the desired crisis, unleashing the Barcelona street battles that essentially eliminated the anarchist leadership and led to the replacement of Largo Caballero by a more malleable premier. [emphasis added]

(Bernstein makes it sound like Caballero was the leader of the anarchists; in fact, he was head of the government and a Socialist.)

30. In the interest of good sense, I would like to make a few additional remarks at this point.

1. The assumption, in Radosh’s Commentary and in other anti-communist accounts Radosh quotes, is that, by taking the Telephone exchange away from the anarchists and returning it to government control, the Communists were “provoking” the anarchists.

2. The anarchists had no business whatsoever holding the telephone exchange. The Police Chief, besides being a communist, was also a government officer. If removing an armed group of occupiers who have taken control of the telephone exchange is not a legitimate matter for the police, what is?

3. Imagine if the Communists had occupied the telephone exchange, fortified it with a machine-gun nest, interrupted government phone calls whenever they wanted to, and then a non-Communist police chief had tried to oust them? Would Radosh not take that as evidence that the Communists wanted to take over?

Document 43

31. One of Radosh’s statements about Document 43 has been cited in several favorable reviews of his book:

As the Comintern document cited earlier revealed, Stalin had in mind a Spanish version of the Moscow purge trials most likely to be held in Barcelona. (209) [2] 

The document in question, No. 43, is a report from an anonymous source, presumably to the Comintern. In it the informant states:

The immediate political consequences of the putsch [the anarchist attempt to seize power -- this is the way this writer interprets the "May Days" in Barcelona] are very great. Above all, the following one: the Trotskyist-POUMists revealed themselves to the nation as people who belong totally to Franco’s fifth column. The people are nourishing unbelievable animosity toward the Trotskyists. The masses are demanding energetic and merciless repression. This is what is demanded by the masses of people of all of Spain, Catalonia, and Barcelona. They demand complete disarmament, arrest of the leaders, the creation of a special military tribunal for the Trotskyists! This is what the masses demand. (196-197)

In his discussion of this document on p. 176, Radosh wrote:

In other words, the call was out for the creation in Spain of the equivalent of the Moscow purge trials. . .

“In other words” (why not use the same words?) “the call was out for” can only mean one thing: Radosh assumes that our unnamed informant, writing to the Comintern in Moscow, is speaking for someone other than himself. But this assumption is invalid. This document does not mean that any “call is out.” So far as we know, it’s the opinion of the writer alone. After all, he’s reporting to the Comintern. If the PCE, or Soviet advisers, had “put out the call” for a Moscow-style purge trial, he would have said so, for why hide it to the Comintern? And if Stalin had expressed interest in a Spanish “purge trial,” surely this writer would have said so as well.

Document 44

32. Document 44 is a report to the Comintern sent to Marshal Voroshilov, Commissar (Minister) of Defense of the USSR and the man whose office oversaw military equipment and material aid for the Spanish Republic, by a certain “Goratsy,” whom Radosh, in another failure of his editorial responsibility, does not further identify. Radosh accuses the Comintern of lying to itself, in that it states the communist belief

that the “uprising” carried out by “the extremist wing [of the anarchists] in the block with the POUM” was prepared in advance over a “long period of time.” (177) [This refers to the "May Days" in Barcelona -- GF].

33. A few considerations are in order:

1. How does Radosh know that this is false? He has not proven it.

Furthermore, Radosh has already claimed that, in Document 42, he has evidence that the Comintern itself planned the Barcelona uprising, whereas here the Comintern reporter blames the uprising on the Anarchists. Why would the Comintern lie to itself? If the Comintern had successfully provoked this confrontation, as Radosh claims, why wouldn’t they be gloating over their success? Instead, they blame it on the anarchists, even in private communications within the Comintern. (206)

2. The document itself claims that the uprising was unexpected by the Communists. Once again: if it had been not only expected, but in fact “provoked,” as Radosh would have it, why would this not be noted, with pride, as a successful operation?

Document 1

34. Here a Spanish Communist in Moscow is writing to the Communist Party in Spain.

Radosh: “. . . the imperative tone taken by Moscow made it clear that there was little room for argument or maneuver by the small and relatively powerless PCE . . . (1-2).

Doc. 1: “After considering the alarming situation in connection with the Fascist conspiracy in SPAIN, we advise you: — . . . Please let us know your opinions on our proposals.” (7,9; emphasis added)

Conclusion: This document is not “imperative” in tone. Radosh is simply trying to make “Moscow” appear dictatorial and high-handed. The text will not support that interpretation, so he simply puts it into his commentary.

35. I put “Moscow” in quotation marks because this message, while certainly sent from the city of Moscow, was sent by a Spanish Communist, “Dios Major,” who signed the document. Why doesn’t Radosh mention this, saying only that “Moscow” sent it? Perhaps because to say that one Spanish Communist is “advising” other Spanish Communists does not support the impression — which Radosh evidently wants to give — that the Bolsheviks, Stalin, the Politburo, or whatever “Moscow” usually conveys, was trying to say anything to anybody. It appears that through metonymy, a linguistic trope in which “Moscow” represents any Communist leader, anywhere, allows Radosh to reduce all Communist leaders to “Moscow,” and “Moscow” to “Stalin.” Demonize Stalin, then, and all Communist leadership is automatically demonized as well.

36. Radosh gives other invidious readings of Document 1, but is rather vague about it. I’ll mention only one more example.

37. Document 1 reads, in part:

4. It is necessary to take preventative measures with the greatest urgency against the putchist attempts of the anarchists, behind which the hand of the Fascists is hidden.

The worst one could say about this piece of analysis — given, we recall, by one Spanish Communist to others, all of whom had extensive experience with the Spanish anarchists and hated them just as the anarchists, in turn, hated the communists — is that it was rhetorical over-statement to say that “the hand of the Fascists is hidden behind” the anarchists’ attempts at seizing power.

38. But here is what Radosh himself says about the anarchists:

Throughout the conflict, Soviet and Comintern advisers would decry the ‘subversive’ activities of the anarchists, and particularly their refusal to curtail revolutionary activities or to allow the formation of a regular, disciplined army. (3, emphasis added)

Radosh admits that the anarchists took this attitude towards the army. Yet how could the Fascists — who certainly had “a regular, disciplined army” — ever be defeated unless the Republic had one too? Guerrilla warfare — what Mao Tse-tung and Vo Nguyen Giap later refined into the doctrine of “People’s War” — is very important. But no theoretician of guerrilla or people’s war ever suggested that a war could be won without “a regular, disciplined army.”

39. In refusing to form such an army the anarchists played directly into the hands of the Fascists. Yet even while admitting this, Radosh attacks the Communists for stating the obvious: that this played into the Fascists’ hands. Elsewhere, in passages Radosh does not comment on, the Communists expressed the view that Fascist agents chose to infiltrate the Anarchists precisely for this reason.

40. Radosh’s Commentary continues:

The demand to establish a single union also stemmed from a new understanding of how to construct a socialist state: not through open revolution, but through the absorption of independent unions or parties into a single entity controlled by the Communists.

Radosh gives no evidence to support this statement at all. He certainly can’t cite Document 1, the document he is supposedly elucidating, because in it Dios Mayor proposes that

the C.G.T. (U.) [the Communist-led union movement] ought to propose to C.N.T. [the Socialist-led union movement] the immediately construction in the center and locally of joint committees to fight against the Fascist insurgents and to prepare the unification of the syndicates.

. . . At the same time you must establish broad social legislation, with extensive rights reserved in the unified C.G.T. . . .

41. Dios Mayor is proposing that the Communists call for unified action and a unified trade union organization. Radosh suggests that there is something underhanded about calling for unification: the Communists want to “absorb independent unions into a single entity controlled by the Communists.” But there is no suggestion of this in the document itself. I would note also Radosh’s concept of “absorption” here is standard anticommunist rhetoric. Other parties might “win a political struggle” for leadership of an organization, but communists only “control” — never “lead” — and “absorb,” with connotations of “suffocation,” “snuffing out independence.” [3] 

42. One might say, “Well, Radosh hates Communism, so for Radosh the communists can never do anything right.” But it’s more than that. For Radosh, if a non-communist makes a good proposal — say, trade union unity — that is good; whereas when Communists do the same thing, it’s bad. That’s because, for Radosh, communists never do anything honestly; their “dishonesty” is a given.

43. The interesting thing is that Radosh, using the documents his collaborators have selected, cannot demonstrate “dishonesty” on the part of the communists. An honest researcher would consider the possibility that, if the evidence at hand did not suggest the communists were “dishonest,” it just may possibly be because the communists were not dishonest.

Document 79

44. Radosh confesses that the previous document, no. 78, “suggests that he [Negrín] enjoyed a degree of autonomy from Communist control” (497). Radosh further acknowledges that even some anti-communist scholars of the SCW believe Negrín was “a more independent figure.” Radosh stresses that Document 79, a report by Marchenko, a Soviet and a Comintern representative, to Litvinov (Soviet Foreign Minister) and Voroshilov,

. . . makes it clear that the Spaniard’s views of politics closely coincided with the Soviets’, while the similarities between his vision for postwar Spain and that of the Soviet Union are striking This document suggests that if the Republicans had won the Civil War, Spain would have been very different from the nation that existed before 18 July 1936 and very close to the post-World War II “people’s democracies” of Europe.

This is false. Document 79 itself reveals that Marchenko was not supportive at all of Negrín’s outline of what a post-war Spanish Republic might look like:

I reacted in a very reserved way to Negrín’s idea and drew his attention to the difficulties and complications that the organization of a new party would cause. . . . If there are military successes, he can begin the formation of “his” united-Spanish political party, with the participation of the Communists if they will allow it, and without the Communists (and that means against them) if they refuse. (499; emphasis added).

The post-WWII “people’s democracies” of Eastern Europe were (a) propped up by the presence of the Red Army; (b) directly on the borders of the USSR; and (c) governed by Communist Parties (or communist-socialist united parties) run frankly by pro-Soviet communists. Negrín’s conception of a post-war Spanish Republic is very different from the post-war pro-Soviet regimes of Eastern Europe, sharing no essential similarity with them at all. Yet the allegation that a post-war Republic would have been forced into the mould of the post-WWII Eastern European regimes is, supposedly, one of the major “discoveries” of this collection of documents. This document alone shows that this claim of Radosh’s is without foundation.

Document 62

45. This is an important report by Palmiro Togliatti, head Comintern representative in Spain, to Dimitrov in Moscow. It is of great interest, and Radosh can find nothing to say about it that is at all negative. He makes false statements about its contents, however.

46. For example, Radosh writes:

Togliatti’s reports of are special importance. It is clear that, unlike other apparatchiks, Togliatti was extremely candid and forthright in his observations. (370, emphasis added)

But Radosh gives not a single example of these “other apparatchiks,” supposedly not-candid and not-forthright. Since Togliatti was later the head of the Italian Communist Party and a major leader of the Comintern, it does not seem to have hurt his reputation to have been “extremely candid and forthright.”

47. Note, too, Radosh’s use of a Russian term for an official of the Italian Communist Party. Radosh would never refer to an official of the Spanish Socialist party as an “apparatchik.” The point here is to give the impression, by whatever means possible, that “Moscow” controls everything.

48. Radosh’s discussion of this report contains several outright lies, including one that is very blatant — always provided that one actually reads the document itself. Radosh states:

At the same time, in Catalonia, Togliatti called for a policy of reinforcing the moderation of the Popular Front, rather than demagogic appeals to a revolution-minded populace. If the anarchists tried to move toward open revolt and stage a coup, he advised one solution only: “We will finally do away with them.” (emphasis added)

Here is the passage (390):

As for the anarchists, on this question, in my opinion, we have not merely hesitated, but made absolutely real mistakes in our tactics [Togliatti is referring to methods of political struggle -- GF.] On the role from Barcelona to Valencia, I posed the question to the comrades accompanying me. Their opinion was very simple: the anarchists have lost all influence, in Barcelona (!) there is not even one anarchist worker, we are waiting until they organize a second putsch, and we will finally do away with them [emphasis added].

So this attitude is not that of Togliatti, but of some “comrades.” Here is what Togliatti wrote about this attitude; this passage begins immediately after that above:

This opinion is very widespread in the party, in particular in Catalonia, and when we stick to such an idea, it is impossible to carry out a policy of rapprochement with the anarchist masses and differentiation of their leaders. (390; emphasis added)

Radosh attributed to Togliatti the very views that Togliatti cites in order to strongly oppose them!

49. Again, Radosh writes:

While publicly advocating attempts at cooperation with opposition anarchists, Togliatti noted that their leaders were “scum, closely tied to Caballero,” and had to be fought via “large-scale action from below.” (371)

It is clear from the context of p. 390 — see the emphasis in the quotation above — that the “large-scale action from below” that Togliatti hoped for was action by the “anarchist masses,” as he stated in the passage quoted above, which alone can lead to “differentiation of their leaders.” In other words, Togliatti proposed relying on a democratic plan – winning over the anarchist masses to replace or repudiate their own leadership. Communist authors show appreciation for the political instincts of the anarchist rank-and-file many times in these documents; it is the anarchist leadership they see as the stumbling blocks to effective unity against Franco.

50. In addition to Togliatti, another Soviet adviser, Antonov-Ovseenko comes across very well in these documents. Radosh seriously distorts Document 22. Antonov-Ovseenko wrote:

The PSUC repeatedly proposed to the government that weapons at the rear [i.e. in areas not involved in battle] be seized and put at the disposal of the government. (p. 80)

Radosh calls this “Communist attempts to seize all the weapons at the rear (and thus to disarm the anarchists)” (p. 71). In reality, the PSUC (the Unified Socialist Party) – not just the communists, who were only a part of the PSUC — was proposing that armed men should be at the front fighting the war, and that arms were needed at the front, not in the rear. Orwell himself complains time and again about the obsolete, broken, and useless arms available to his own unit at the front, and that even these arms were in short supply. If, as Radosh suggests here, the armed anarchists were all in the rear, what were they doing there? If armed communists had been “all in the rear,” would Radosh not think this sinister?

51. In Document 21 Antonov-Ovseenko quotes an informant, “X,” who told him that the anarchists were carrying out mass executions in Catalonia and that they had executed 40 priests.

X. told me . . . [t]hree days ago, the government seriously clashed with the anarchists: the CNT seized a priest. . . . The priest pointed out another 101 members of his order who had hidden themselves in different places. They [the anarchists] agreed to free all 102 men for three hundred thousand francs. All 102 appeared, but when the money had been handed over, the anarchists shot forty of them. (76-7; emphasis added).

52. Radosh does not condemn the anarchists at this point for shooting the priests. Nor does he suggest that this charge against the anarchists is false (p. 71). Imagine if the communists had been executing up to 50 people a day, as “X” told Antonov-Ovseenko — would Radosh have let this pass without criticism? Rather, such a document would have been featured as a major find, one of the most important documents in the book. Yet when anarchists are alleged to be committing mass murder, and Communists are opposed to it, Radosh scarcely mentions the matter, and certainly does not praise the Communists for stopping such massacres. This illustrates one of the central weaknesses in Radosh’s commentary: he is, in fact, not much interested in these documents except insofar as they can be used to show the communists as “bad.”

53. A strongly positive review of the Radosh book in First Things states baldly: “Although leftist atrocities against the Church, including the execution of thousands of nuns and priests, were widespread, they are nowhere mentioned in these documents.” In his rush to provide Radosh with another positive review, this anonymous reviewer in a right-wing, “pro-religion” journal clearly never read even Radosh’s own commentary, much less the documents themselves.

Document 46

54. This is a report by Dimitrov, head of the Comintern, to Marshal Voroshilov. Radosh makes many false statements about the contents of this 14-page report. For example, Radosh states that “the writer [of the report] came to the stunning conclusion that the war and revolution “cannot end successfully if the Communist party does not take power into its own hands.” (212). In fact, Dimitrov explicitly refuses to endorse the idea that the only way to victory is if the Communist party takes power.

The influence of the party is growing more and more among the masses, and chiefly among the soldiers; the conviction is growing among them that the war and the popular revolution cannot end successfully if the Communist party does not take power into its own hands. Who knows, that idea may indeed be correct. (232; emphasis added)

Arnold Beichman’s review makes the same inaccurate statement: “It is sad to read these Soviet archives and read the words of a Soviet agent to the Comintern’s Georgi Dimitrov: ‘The war cannot end successfully if the Communist Party does not take power in its own hands.’”

55. In fact, this is a very interesting statement, especially coming from Dimitrov, famous since the Seventh Comintern Congress in 1935 for championing the concept of the Communist International’s abandoning its independent advocacy of socialist revolution in order to make possible “united fronts” with all anti-fascist parties, as in Spain. The Spanish Communists, with the support of the Comintern, were struggling hard to make the United Front in Spain work. Here Dimitrov shows that he himself has doubts about it. The documents published in this volume could indeed provide much evidence for an argument that it was precisely the insistence on a United Front with the Spanish socialists and Anarchists that doomed the Republic. A competent commentary should have discussed this issue.

Document 70

56. This long report by General Walter (a Polish communist general whose real name was Karol Svershevsky) is of special interest since it includes the longest discussion of the International Brigades among the documents in this volume. These pages give Radosh a chance to slander not only the Soviets, but the members of the International Brigades as well, and he tries his best to do so by ignoring positive statements made about the Brigadistas in the documents at hand, while emphasizing the criticisms made about some of them.

57. Radosh begins with the following statement:

By early 1938, the international units were important to the Soviets and the Comintern only as a means of scoring points in the propaganda war and as bargaining chips in negotiations with the other great powers. (431)

Radosh continues immediately with the words, “Nowhere is this more clearly shown than in the series of documents that follow.” However, nowhere in these documents is the statement above documented in the least.

58. Walter shows admirable frankness in discussing both strengths and weaknesses within the Brigades. Radosh ignores the strengths and distorts Walter’s words about the weaknesses.

59. For example, Radosh generalizes Walter’s criticism of some Brigadistas, that they thought themselves superior to the Spanish, and implies Walter said it was true of all Brigadistas. (431)

In Sverchevsky’s words, they [the international soldiers] believed they had come to Spain to save it from the fascists. This viewpoint had led directly to their superior attitude toward the Spanish, whom they treated like second-class citizens. (431)

60. In reality, Walter’s remark is a general one, critical of an ideological attitude to be found in the Brigades (438). The words “second-class citizens” are never used. Rather, Walter’s incisive political criticism is directed towards a shallow understanding of internationalism among many Brigadistas, as illustrated in the following passage:

It seems to me that the fundamental reason for, and primary source of, our troubles lies, first and foremost, in a deeply rooted conviction which stubbornly refuses to die that we, the internationalists, are only “helping,” that we “save” and “are saving” Spain, which, they say, without us would not have escaped the fate of Abyssinia. This harmful theory prevents the German and Italian comrades from seeing the silhouettes of “Junkers” and “Fiats” in the fascist air force; they forget that here, on Spanish soil, they are fighting with arms in hand, that is, in the most effective and revolutionary way, first and foremost against their own enemy, which has already oppressed their own countries and peoples for many years. French “volunteers” do not always notice the direct connection between Franco, De la Roque, and Doriot; they forget . . . that their vital interests lie in preventing a fascist sentinel from looming on the last border, the Pyrenees. The Poles do not completely comprehend that every one of their victories here is a direct blow against the Pilsudski gang, which has turned their country into a prison for the people. . . . (438)

61. Walter is unsparingly frank in his criticisms of the shortcomings of the Brigades. His analysis appears to be a model of honest criticism, including much criticism of the performance of communists. But Walter’s report also contains the highest praise for the Brigades (for example, see the first three paragraphs, p. 436). Typically, Radosh’s commentary is utterly one-sided; he mentions many of Walter’s critical comments, but not a single one of the positive ones.

62. In his extremely positive review, Schwartz is more shameless yet in quoting some of Walter’s frank criticisms of the political problems in the Brigades as though they were characteristic. Radosh and Schwartz are of the same kidney; see Radosh’s praise of Schwartz on p. xxv.

Schwartz: “Anti-Semitism was a serious problem among these “progressive” fighters.”

Document 70: “It is true that even then there were more than enough petty squabbling and strong antagonisms in the international units. The francophobia was most transparently obvious . . . anti-Semitism flourished (and indeed it still has not been completely extinguished). . . . (448)

Schwartz: “Above all, the International Brigades possessed transport, food, and other supplies far in excess of their Spanish counterparts, with whom they resolutely refused to ‘share their wealth.’”

Document 70: “The English and American soldiers not long ago were smoking ‘Lucky Strikes,’ not paying attention to the Spanish fighters next to them, who had spent days looking for a few shreds of tobacco. The internationalists receive frequent packages from home but are very rarely willing to share them with their Spanish comrades.” (453)

Schwartz: “International Brigade officers accounted exactly for the numbers of foreigners killed and wounded in battle, but ‘never knew of the casualties of the Spanish personnel.’” [emphasis added]

Document 70: “Richard, the commander of the 11th Brigade, reporting on the casualties suffered by the brigade at Brunete and Saragossa, always gave the exact number of dead and wounded and frequently even the names of the internationalists. But he never knew the casualties of the Spanish personnel.” (454)

In this case, Schwartz transformed the behavior of one commander, in one battle — behavior that the Communist general Walter was holding up for criticism — as typical of “International Brigade officers” generally. (Schwartz gives no page numbers, so verifying his dishonest quotations is a tedious job.)

63. Neither Radosh nor Schwartz put Walter’s criticisms of the Brigades into context. But Walter does. In addition to high praise for the International Brigades’ heroism and importance in the war (see pp. 436 and 459) Walter explains the difficult problems of overcoming national chauvinism, racism and distrust among nationalities:

The International Brigades and units were created literally within the course of one or two days from those volunteers who were on hand at the time . . . there were subunits that contains dozens of nationalities all of these were people who were absolutely unacquainted, not accustomed to one another, and right off found themselves in a battle. If you add to this the extremely acute shortage of political workers, the lack of qualified military cadres, and a whole number of other needs, then the weaknesses and the solution to this problem (adequate at that time) are not surprising. (448)

Schwartz: “According to Walter, the International Brigades, inspired by slogans of worldwide unity against Fascism, were plagued by a ‘petty, disgusting, foul squabble about the superiority of one nationality over another. . . . Everyone was superior to the French, but even they were superior to the Spanish, who were receiving our aid and allowing us to fight against our own national and class enemies on their soil.’”

Immediately preceding the passage quoted by Schwartz (449) occurs the following passage (Document 70):

The great, very exalted, and revolutionary objective, armed struggle with fascism, united everyone, and for its sake Germans, Italians, Poles, Jews, and representatives of the world’s numerous nationalities, including blacks, Japanese, and Chinese, had to agree among themselves, found a common language, suffered the same adversities, sacrificed their lives, died heroes, and were filled with the very same hatred for the common enemy.

But at the very same time as the volunteers were unifying, this petty, disgusting, foul squabble about the superiority of one nationality over another was going on. . . .” (448-9)

64. At a time when every army in the world except communist-led armies were organized along officially racist lines (and some, like the Israeli army, are officially racist even today), this struggle for internationalism inspired millions around the world. Yet the venomous Schwartz sees the racist attitudes among Brigadistas as “the most shocking element of the picture, especially for those who for sixty years have witnessed the Lincoln veterans preening themselves for their antifascist virtue” (emphasis added). The International Brigades set a standard for anti-racism and internationalism that has never been equaled before or since. Schwartz’s insult is simply a measure of his contempt for such values.

Conclusion: Why Lie If You Have the Truth On Your Side?

65. The flagrant inadequacy of Radosh’s discussion of these very important and fascinating documents itself would fatally mar any work with scholarly pretensions. But there is a deeper problem with Radosh’s work. It is not merely that Radosh fails to comment accurately on the documents he publishes (Habeck did most of the translations; Sevostianov did the archival work in Moscow). More than that: Radosh actually lies, time and again, about the contents of documents which readers can study themselves a few pages after his commentary.

66. Radosh is one of a small number of former Communist Party members who, once they realized that the Soviet-led world Communist movement no longer championed an egalitarian, non-exploitative world and was not the answer to human liberation, simply decided that the other side must, therefore, have been right all along and became uncritical supporters of American capitalism and imperialism. Anyone familiar with Radosh’s history — any reader of his autobiography, Commies and the many reviews of it — might expect to find a lot of anti-communist prejudice — for example, giving a document the most anti-communist possible interpretation whenever there was any ambiguity.

67. But even a wary reader would also expect at least a couple of real “revelations” of communist deviousness, dishonesty, double-dealing, some kind of “betrayal” – something that would at least partially substantiate the claims of Radosh, and of those who reviewed his book positively. Even the wary reader would be unprepared for the extent of Radosh’s dishonesty. Not a single of Radosh’s allegations of Comintern or Soviet trechery is born out by the documents he himself publishes and comments on.

68. Is Radosh deliberately lying about the documents on which he’s commenting? Is he hoping that his only readers will be like-mindedly anti-communist drones that will simply take his word at face value? Or that those who notice his mendacity will be ignored or marginalized? Some of the distortions in the commentary are so blatant that one cannot account for them in any other way.

69. Yet I think that dishonesty and incompetence cannot provide the whole answer. On a deeper level, Radosh’s anti-communism, and specifically his allegiance to the demonization of Stalin, seems to produce a kind of tunnel vision that imposes a systematic distortion on everything he sees or reads.

70. Radosh mentions the name of Stalin dozens of times, although none of his documents were written by Stalin or are under his name, and only a few were sent to him. For Radosh, the word “Stalin” no longer denotes an individual, but is a synecdochal signifier for — depending on the circumstance — the Comintern, the Soviet political leadership, or even any Communist, anywhere. Like a kind of mirror-image of the “cult of personality” that existed from about 1930 until Stalin’s death in 1953, Radosh too attributes all the initiative and agency of all communists to Stalin alone. A more radical reductionism can scarcely be imagined, and is all the more noteworthy since Radosh seems entirely oblivious to his own practice here. It never occurs to him to justify it theoretically, historically, or in any way at all.

71. This ideological distortion is more serious because more pervasive. Many who think of themselves as “liberal” or even “left” share with Radosh a kind of reflexive assumption that, whenever “Stalin” — read, the Comintern – seems to have been acting according to its professed motives of supporting the exploited and oppressed around the world, it must really have been acting out of selfish motives which, if not obvious, are simply cleverly disguised. [4] 

72. I hope that readers of this review will be inspired to read Radosh’s book and see for themselves. In view, however, of the inaccurate and misleading nature of Radosh’s commentary there is only one way to read this book:

First, ignore Radosh’s commentary entirely. Read the documents themselves, and only them, very carefully.

Only after doing that should you read Radosh’s commentary. But every time Radosh makes any kind of assertion about any document, go to that document, find the relevant passage, and note what the document really says.

Often this is not easy to do. Radosh does not include page numbers to the passages of the documents when he gives his comments or summaries. Often he will write things like “As we have seen . . .” ( p. 502); “Nowhere is this more clearly shown than in the series of documents that follow . . .” (p. 431); “The documentary evidence, as we have shown . . .” (p. 372). Here the job of finding the passage in question can take quite a long time. It’s always worth taking the time, though, because what one usually discovers is that that NO previous document has shown anything of the kind.

73. Radosh reminds us that one of the main stumbling blocks for Marxists is the figure of Stalin. Stalin has been demonized — by Trotsky and those who have relied on Trotsky; by some Soviet émigrés, also imitators of Trotsky, in the main; and by Khrushchev and those who have been accustomed to believe that Khrushchev’s so-called “revelations” about Stalin were true. As Robert Thurston has written, the demonized “Stalin” is “a powerful cultural construct in scholarship, film, popular works, etc. The difficulty is to try to get past that construction as best we can.” (Thurston, 2000). Radosh has not even tried.

74. As Roger Pethybridge, a well-known British Sovietologist, commented long ago:

If one considers all the well-known biographies of Stalin, a common feature emerges: the volumes are a quite accurate reflection of biographical method current at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries, when historical biographies dwelt on so-called “good” and “bad” kings. The personality who reigned appeared to dominate not only the political but the social and economic life of his kingdom, so that by a sneeze or a yawn he could magically change the whole socioeconomic pattern of his reign. This method of historical biography has long been discounted in the treatment of authoritarian rule in earlier history. It has also been discarded with regard to the study of Nazi Germany. Unfortunately, it still remains as a specter from the past in the study of Soviet personalities in high politics. (Pethybridge, 1976).

75. Since the end of the Soviet Union, many formerly secret Comintern and Bolshevik documents have been published, with more coming out all the time. Like the Comintern documents in Radosh’s book, most of them contradict the widely-propagated, and widely-believed, horror stories about the history of the Communist movement during the Stalin years. [5] 

76. It’s up to us all of us who recognize the desperate need for a truly classless, egalitarian society to learn from the successes and failures of our predecessors, including, especially, the Bolsheviks during the time of Stalin’s leadership. But in order to do this, we must first convince ourselves that we do not already know these things.

77. For example, many of the Comintern documents in this collection support the suggestion made by some on the Left that the United Front Against Fascism was doomed from the outset, even as a tactic in fighting fascism. [6]  For no matter how devotedly the communists supported only bourgeois democratic goals, many capitalist forces refused to co-operate with them, in effect preferring to risk a fascist victory rather than take their chances in a liberal capitalist state with a strongly organized working class and peasantry under communist leadership. The subsequent fate of the communist parties of Western Europe and the USA after World War II, who were viciously attacked by the capitalists despite their adherence to a reform-oriented, non-revolutionary program, further suggests that the united front strategy was wishful thinking.

78. That is, we have to be ready and willing to question the Cold-War, Trotskyist, and Khrushchevite versions of this history, and “do it all again,” so we can actually begin to understand what really happened. [7] 

79. If that’s what we’re about — and I think we should be — then Radosh’s book can help us, by reminding us not to be like him.

Reviews used in this essay 

Beichman, Arnold. “Deceit in the Spanish Civil War.” The Washington Times, Op-Ed, July 17, 2001, p. A21.

Bernstein, Richard. “Aiding Dictatorship, Not Democracy.” The New York Times, July 23, 2001. Cited at <http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/23/books/23BERN.html>.

Review of Spain Betrayed in First Things 116 (October 2001). Cited at <http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0110/reviews/briefly.html#spain>

Hitchens, Christopher. “Who Lost Spain?” Wilson Quarterly, Summer 2001. Cited at <http://wwics.si.edu/OUTREACH/WQ/WQCURR/WQBKPER/BOOK-1.HTM>

———, “The Unfolded Lie.” Los Angeles Times, July 15, 2001. Cited at <http://www.calendarlive.com/top/1,1419,L-LATimes-Books-X!ArticleDetail-38407,00.html>

Schwartz, Steven. “The Red and the Black. The end of the myth of the Spanish Civil War.” Weekly Standard, July 16, 2001. Cited at <http://www.weeklystandard.com/magazine/mag_6_41_01/schwartz_bkart_6_41_01.asp>

Other materials

Graham, Helen. “‘Against the State’: A Genealogy of the Barcelona May Days (1937).” European History Quarterly 29(4), 485-542.

Pethybridge, Roger. 1976. Review of Ronald Hingley, Joseph Stalin: Man and Legend (New York, 1974), in Slavic Review 35 (March 1976): 136.

Thurston, Robert W. Post to H-RUSSIA list, August 24, 2000.

Notes

1 There is absolutely no question that Radosh is lying in some places — e.g., in Document 62 where, as I discuss in the text, he attributes to Togliatti the views that, in the document itself, which any reader can study a few pages later, Togliatti explicitly criticizes. Radosh does this kind of thing many times.

The book is also an example of incompetence. Radosh simply does a poor job at what a commentator should do: summarizing the documents, isolating the most important aspects of them, putting them into an overall historical context, and so on.

These kind of faults should have been red flags to any editor. But there is a long history of anti-communist works getting published even though filled with errors that would doom any other kind of research.

The uncritical praise of so many reviewers suggests that one purpose of Radosh’s book is to influence those who will not read it carefully. Perhaps someone made the estimation that few people will read such a book anyway, and most of those who do will probably rely on the commentary, rather than study the documents themselves. Again, this is no excuse for the kind of mendacity displayed in Spain Betrayed, but rather a grasping after some kind of explanation for so poor a work.

Finally, the book is a failure. Radosh had boasted for years — in some ways, since the ’80s, when he began publishing stuff about the Spanish Civil War, but explicitly since he began working on this book — that it would “prove” the USSR (“Stalin”) betrayed Spain. In the event it not only fails to “prove” any betrayal; it fails to come up with a single example of anything devious, dishonest, anything at all to make the communist side or the USSR specifically look bad.

2 Radosh betrays his ignorance of Soviet history. “Purge trials” is a term no longer used even by anti-communist Sovietologists. The chistki, or “purges,” were expulsion of Communist Party members for many reasons, most commonly drunkenness, neglect of duty, etc., though sometimes for political deviations. They were completely separate from the three famous Moscow Trials of 1936-8, of persons who confessed to plotting to overthrow the Soviet government. The best, and classic discussion of this is J. Arch Getty, Origins of the great purges: the Soviet Communist Party reconsidered, 1933-1938. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire]; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

3 See the excellent typology of anti-communist rhetoric in James R. Prickett, “Anti-Communism and Labor History,” Industrial Relations 13 (October, 1974), 219-227.”

4 For example, Stalin stated that “The cause of Spain is the cause of all humanity.” The USSR sent huge amounts of aid, in materiel and men, to the Republic both itself and through the Comintern, much of which was not, in fact, repaid. Yet Cary Nelson, a staunch supporter of the American veterans of the Spanish Civil War and a prominent left-liberal, still feels compelled to explain Soviet aid in this way: “Stalin’s motivations, no doubt, were pragmatic. He probably hoped, for example, to use an alliance to help the Spanish Republic as a way of building a general antifascist alliance with the Western democracies.” (“The Spanish Civil War: An Overview,” accessed at <http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/scw/overview.htm> on 20 February 2003). “Pragmatic” in this context explains nothing; the Soviets knew very well that the antifascist alliance they aimed at was jeopardized by their aid to the Republic, but did it anyway. For Nelson, the International Brigade volunteers can, and did, have idealistic motives, but Stalin cannot, even though the whole effort could hardly have taken place without his strong support at every step.

5 For example, the interrogations and confessions by such major figures as NKVD chief Genrikh Yagoda and Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky have been published, making it clear that the accusations leveled against them by the Soviet government in the late ’30s were substantially accurate. There is also some additional evidence of Leon Trotsky’s contacts with oppositionists in the USSR who were plotting the overthrow of the government, as well as the first evidence of Trotsky’s contact with the Japanese fascist government, both central claims of the Communist movement in the ’30s but both strongly denied by Trotsky’s followers.

6 See, for example, “Lessons of People’s War in Spain 1936-1939,” Progressive Labor, Vol. 9, No. 5 (Oct.-Nov. 1974), 106-116, cited at <http://www.plp.org/pl_magazine/pws.html> (February 22, 2003). For more on a left critique of the consequences of the Popular Front strategy upon the world communist movement, see “Road to Revolution III: The Continuing Struggle Against Revisionism” (1970), at <http://www.plp.org/pl_magazine/rr3.html#RTFToC5>.

7 J. Arch Getty, the dean of the younger generations of American historians of the USSR, is quoted by the prominent (and very anti-communist) Russian historian Yuri Zhukov as having said Soviet history is poisoned by Cold War “propaganda,” and has to be done all over again. See Aleksandr Sabov, “Zhupel Stalina” (“Stalin’s Boogeyman”), Komsomolskaya Pravda, Nov. 5, 2001.

Contents copyright © 2003 by Grover Furr.

Format copyright © 2003 by Cultural Logic, ISSN 1097-3087.

Source

Alliance Marxist-Leninist: The Cominform Documents

meeting_cominform_1949_november_hungary

THE COMINFORM DOCUMENTS

INTRODUCTION (by N. Steinmayr); For Alliance and Communist League. Published on web June 13th 1999.

The Cominform documents have been published – in their original versions in both Russian and English – in The Cominform: Minutes of the Three Conferences 1947/48/49 (edited by Giuliano Procacci, in Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, Annali, 1994, Feltrinelli Editore, Milano, ISBN 88-07-99050-4).

The volume contains both the original texts (the bulk of which had never been published before) and some introductory essays and notes. This critical edition resulted from an agreement of scholarly cooperation between the Russian Centre of Conservation and Study of Records for Modern History and the Feltrinelli Foundation.

As known, nine European communist parties (from the USSR, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Yugoslavia, France and Italy) joined the Cominform and participated at its three Conferences – respectively, in September 1947, in June 1948, and in November 1949. No other conferences were organized from 1950 until its disbanding in 1956.

The reasons of its decline may be found in the emergence of Khrushchevite revisionism and in the new changes in the international situation (namely, the Chinese revolution and the Korean war). I have selected below only a few sections from the original documents which highlight some interesting and revealing aspects, i.e., the presence of revisionist, centrist positions in the international communist movement at that time and Dimitrov’s role in Bulgarian-Yugoslav-Soviet relations.

These original sources, as well, contribute to explain – in retrospect – the origins of the revisionist degeneration that later became apparent in the international communist movement. I have numbered the various sections of the original documents I quote. The extracts are preceded by some notes that I present.

EXTRACT 1:
FROM THE REPORT BY A. A. ZHDANOV (SOVIET DELEGATION) “ON THE INTERNATIONAL SITUATION” AT THE FIRST CONFERENCE (25 September 1947) .

NS:
I have selected the definition of people’s democracy. In this famous report by Zhdanov, outlining the “two camps” theory, the main task of the communists appears to be the defence of peace and democracy against US-led imperialist expansionism, rather than the advance of socialism. There is no mention of the dictatorship of the proletariat as the main feature of the socialist society. But the crucial phrase is mentioned of the “transition to socialism”. It was this very key step that the revisionist Dimitrov would neglect in his policies for Bulgaria.

EXTRACT 2:
THE REPORT BY V. CHERVENKOV (BULGARIAN DELEGATION) “ON THE ACTIVITY OF THE BULGARIAN WORKERS’ PARTY (COMMUNISTS)” AT THE FIRST CONFERENCE (23 September 1947)

NS:
This emphasizes the special relationship existing between Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. Reference is made to the meeting which took place at Lake Bled from 30 July to 1 August 1947 between a Bulgarian delegation, headed by Dimitrov, and a Yugoslav delegation, headed by Tito. At the end of the meeting, a joint declaration was signed (on 1 August) and announced, providing for a conclusion of a treaty of friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance which they intended to sign.

In a harsh telegram sent to both governments on 12 August, Stalin criticized the initiative, both because it had been taken without prior consultations with the Soviet government and because it might feed Anglo-American opposition to a treaty signed by a country, such as Bulgaria, which would have lost the status of conquered nation won only with the entry into force of the peace treaty on 15 September 1947.

In early July, in fact, both Tito and Dimitrov had informed Moscow of their intention to imminently sign this Yugoslav-Bulgarian treaty. But Stalin, in his answer to Dimitrov on 5 July, had instructed them to wait until the peace treaty came into force. The Yugoslav-Bulgarian announcement of 1 August 1947, therefore, was a deliberate violation of Stalin’s directives.

Extract 3:
FROM THE SPEECH BY T. KOSTOV (BULGARIAN DELEGATION) AT THE SECOND CONFERENCE (21 JUNE 1948).

NS:
I have selected quotations relating to:
a) Yugoslav-Bulgarian relations, with particular regard to the Macedonian question (it is now stated that it was Yugoslavia which had had territorial and hegemonic pretentions in the Balkans against the USSR), and:
b) mistakes and defects in the Bulgarian Workers’ Party (Communists), apparently corrected thanks to Soviet advice.

It must be taken into account that:

(a) during that period of time, both Dimitrov and Kostov were the two most prominent leaders in the Bulgarian party (the former held the position of Central Committee chairman, the latter was first secretary). Both of them had remained in Moscow until November 1945 and Kostov had been appointed party secretary thanks to Dimitrov’s personal intervention and backing;

(b) Kostov was replaced by Dimitrov as party general secretary at the fifth party congress in December 1948 (the post of party chairman having been abolished). Soon afterwards, Dimitrov began a discussion of “mistakes” made by Kostov, accusing him of nationalism and “intellectual individualism”. Kostov was purged from the party in March 1949 while Dimitrov died of natural causes in July.
In December Kostov and others were accused of being agents of the Anglo-Americans and having committed treason in connection with the Balkan federation proposals (aimed at making Bulgaria an appendage of Yugoslavia, thus severing links with the Soviet Union and the people’s democracies). But no blame was attached to Dimitrov in connection with these proposals, while Kostov was executed immediately after the trial (he was partly rehabilitated in 1956 and completely exonerated in 1962). Kostov’s trial can eventually be regarded as an episode in the struggle for leadership within the Bulgarian party after Dimitrov’s death.

According to J.D. Bell, in The Bulgarian Communist Party from Blagoev to Zhivkov (1986):

“When the charges against him were read to the court, Kostov admitted that he had tried to keep the prices of certain Bulgarian goods from Soviet officials, but he pleaded innocent to the rest of the charges and repudiated his confession. Even after the final guilty verdict was pronounced, he remained unrepentant. ‘I never served English intelligence,’ he said, ‘never participated in the criminal plans of Tito and his clique . . . I have always held the Soviet Union in devotion and respect . . . Let the Bulgarian people know that I am innocent!’”
(Bell, op. cit., p. 106);

(c) It is a well-known fact that it was Dimitrov that had publicly and ardently expressed himself – at variance with Soviet positions – in favour of a Balkan federation until early 1948. (The Soviet-Yugoslav split began to emerge in March). In an interview on 17 January 1948, he expressed himself in favour of a large federation including Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Albania, Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and eventually Greece. The rebuke came from Pravda on 28 January and on 2 February, at the second Congress of the Fatherland Front, Dimitrov made self-criticism expressing Bulgarian acceptance of the Soviet line;

(d) new documents have recently been declassified in Yugoslav, Bulgarian and Soviet archives with regard to the meeting on 10 February 1948 between delegations from these three countries (Bulgaria being represented by Dimitrov, Kostov and Kolarov).

The meeting’s proceedings amounted to a harsh reproach by the Soviets for Dimitrov’s statement about a federation in Eastern Europe and for Tito’s attempts to send a Yugoslav division into Albania. Emphasized once more were both the incorrectness of these steps and the inadmissibility of any action taken without informing the USSR. The Yugoslav and Bulgarian delegations admitted their “mistakes”.

What resulted from the meeting was the signing on 11 February, as proposed by the Soviet side, of agreements in which an obligation was recognized for consultation on international questions to take place between the USSR and Yugoslavia and between the USSR and Bulgaria.

EXTRACT 4
FROM THE REPORT BY G. MALENKOV (SOVIET DELEGATION) AT THE SECOND CONFERENCE (23 JUNE 1948).

NS:
We discover that Moscow was not in favour of the Communist Party of Albania (CPA) even after the official Soviet/Cominform split with Yugoslavia. Its entry was regarded as “inexpedient” and, it was argued, it would have complicated Albania’s international position, since it hadn’t been admitted to the UN and since its independence was allegedly guaranteed, at that time (i.e., June 1948), by “an agreement between three Powers” reached six years before!

The reference is, in fact, made to the agreement between the governments of the USSR, USA and Great Britain, according to which on 17-18 December 1942 each of the threee powers had made a similar declaration concerning the repudiation of the Italian occupation of Albania and support for the re-establishment of its independence. But already in November and December 1946, the Council of Foreign Ministers in New York had agreed to consider Albania an associated power with regard to the application of the peace treaty with Italy and had also recognized Albania’s right to an indemnity of five million dollars, which was to be paid by Italy in respect to war damages.

Finally, in February 1947, the peace treaty with Italy was signed (and later ratified by Tirana on 24 October 1947): Albania was not one of its signatories but ranked among the victorious states. Accordingly, Italy was bound to respect Albanian independence and Albanian legal and administrative sovereignty was sanctioned over the island of Sazan.

But, indeed, the CPA’s admission to Cominform was rejected on the basis of rather preposterous justifications on the part of the Soviet representative at the second Cominform conference in 1948! And also, Albania hadn’t been admitted at the UNO due to Anglo-American opposition: by 1947 both Washington and London had established diplomatic links with all Eastern European states – except Albania (whose gold, looted by the Germans, continued to remain kept in the vaults of the Bank of England in London).

What about all the Soviet and Cominform calls for struggle against the new American imperialist and warmongering plans to enslave Europe? Particularly in the light of the consistent Marxist-Leninist policies which had been implemented in Albania since its liberation, there can be no doubt that the Albanian communists’ continued exclusion from Cominform – even after Yugoslavia’s withdrawal from the organization – was masterminded by hidden and powerful revisionists within the Soviet leadership.

From Hoxha’s memoirs, it becames crystal clear that Stalin was personally determined to support Albania’s political stands and its independence at that crucial time. For its part, the CPA immediately and unconditionally supported the Soviet and Cominform positions on Yugoslav revisionism. The 9th Plenum of its Central Committee convened between 27 and 30 June 1948, having on its agenda analyses of the three letters addressed to the Communist Party of Yugoslavia by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (on 27 March, 4 and 22 May 1948) and the Cominform resolution on Yugoslavia. Unanimous solidarity with and support for the stands adopted by the CPSU and the Cominform against Yugoslavia were expressed. Consequently, all the agreements and conventions which had been signed with Yugoslavia – except the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Aid of July 1946 (later abrogated by Belgrade in November 1949) – were denounced by Albania. These decisions were made public on 1 July 1948 in a communiquè of the CPA’s Central Committee.

EXTRACT 5
THE REPORT BY M. A. SUSLOV (SOVIET DELEGATION) ON “THE DEFENCE OF PEACE AND THE STRUGGLE AGAINST WARMONGERS” AT THE THIRD CONFERENCE (16 November 1949):

NS:
This emphasizes and further develops – along the positions expressed by Zhdanov two years earlier – the necessity of maintaining peace and independence as the main task of the communist and workers’ parties. However, two years had elapsed. What had happened to the “transition” correctly discussed by Zhadanov? Was the establishment of a socialist society now forgotten? What about the dictatorship of the proletariat as the indispensable transition stage towards communism?

All these political stands, which effectively dump class struggle for socialism in favour of class collaboration, became included in the final Cominform resolution on “The Defence of Peace and the Struggle against the Warmongers”. As for the other resolution on “Working-Class Unity and the Tasks of the Communist and Workers’ Parties”, this was unanimously approved on the basis on Togliatti’s report on the subject: similar revisionist and right-wing stuff calling for “peace, bread and democratic liberties”! The third approved resolution dealt with “The Communist Party of Yugoslavia in the Power of Murderers and Spies”.

Extract 6
THE SPEECH BY V. CHERVENKOV (BULGARIAN DELEGATION) AT THE THIRD CONFERENCE (17 November 1949).

NS:
Directs a sharp criticism to Kostov who now becomes the scapegoat for former Bulgarian attempts to detatch, together with Tito, the country from the anti-imperialist, democratic camp (namely, the USSR) and to prevent the consistent advancement towards socialism in Bulgaria.

As for Dimitrov’s role in preventing the transition from the first stage of the anti-fascist, democratic revolution to the second, socialist stage, see “Alliance (Marxist-Leninist), n. 12, January 1995 (“Georgii Dimitrov and the Bulgarian Communist Party”).

Kostov was to be executed in December, while Dimitrov had died in July. It was also widely known that they had both coordinated Bulgarian policies towards the USSR and Yugoslavia during the forties. According to Chervenkov, Bulgaria had been able to strengthen its socialist foundations and fight nationalistic deviations only thanks to the Soviet Communist Party and Stalin, who is referred to as the “direct teacher and leader” of the Bulgarian people. Not even a passing reference is made to Dimitrov in Chervenkov’s whole report.

EXTRACT 7:
THE SPEECH BY V. POPTOMOV (BULGARIAN DELEGATION) AT THE THIRD CONFERENCE (18 November 1949);

NS:
Deals with the condemnation of Yugoslav revisionism. I have only selected a few quotations referring to the Balkan federation proposals. Not even in this report is mention made to Dimitrov. In fact, the Bulgarian delegates’ speeches at the third Cominform Conference do imply Dimitrov’s serious responsabilities for right-wing errors which had occurred in the international communist movement and in Bulgaria. From these proceedings, as well, Marxist-Leninists can hardly draw the conclusion that Dimitrov had been an outstanding and consistent Communist fighter during his lifetime.

THE EXTRACTED DOCUMENTS

1. FROM THE REPORT BY A. A. ZHDANOV (SOVIET DELEGATION) “ON THE INTERNATIONAL SITUATION” AT THE FIRST CONFERENCE (25 September 1947) (pp. 219, 227,229,251):

“…The new democratic power in Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Albania, supported by the mass of the people, has proved capable of carrying through in a very short time progressive democratic changes…a new type of state was created – the People’s Republic, in which power belongs to the people, large-scale industry, transport and the banks belong to the state, and the leding force is a bloc of all the classes of the population who work, headed by the working class. As a consequence, the peoples of these countries have not only been delivered from the clutches of imperialism, they have laid the basis for transition to the path of socialist development…The aim of this [anti-imperialist and democratic] camp is to fight against the threat of new wars and imperilalist expansion, to consolidate democracy and to uproot what remains of fascism…All the forces of the anti-imperialist and anti-fascist camp have rallied to the task of ensuring a just and democratic peace. This is the soil on which the friendly cooperation of the USSR with the democratic countries on all questions of foreign policy has grown and strengthened. These countries, and in the first place, the countries of new democracy – Yugoslavia, Poland, Czechosiovakia, Albania – which played an important part in the war of liberation against fascism, together with Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and, to some extent, Finland, which have joined the anti-fascist front, have all become in the post-war period staunch fighters for peace and democracy, for their own freedom and independence against all attempts by the USA and Britain to reverse the trend of their development and drag them back under the imperialist yoke…The Communists must be the leading force in drawing all anti-fascist, freedom-loving elements into struggle against the new American expansionist plans for subjugating Europe…A special task falls to the Communist Parties of France, Italy, Britain and other countries. They must take up the banner of defence of the national independence and sovereignty of their countries…”

2. FROM THE REPORT BY V. CHERVENKOV (BULGARIAN DELEGATION) “ON THE ACTIVITY OF THE BULGARIAN WORKERS’ PARTY (COMMUNISTS)” AT THE FIRST CONFERENCE (23 September 1947) (pp. 103):

“. . . We can regard Bulgaria’s international position as having been normalised. The basic line of our foreign policy consists in safeguarding at all costs our national independence and state sovereignty, in co-operation with all freedom-loving peoples. The fundamental principle of this policy, as Comrade Dimitrov has frequently stressed, is eternal friendship with our liberator, the great Soviet Union, fraternal alliance with the new Yugoslavia, and close collaboration with all the other Slav countries and with the other democratic peoples.

The conference held at Bled and the decisions adopted there mark the beginning of a new phase in relations between the new Bulgaria and the new Yugoslavia and signify a big step forward in establishing close rapprochement between them. Decisions were taken at Bled on co-ordinated action and common defence of peace in the Balkans.

We are going to conclude treaties of friendship and mutual aid with Yugoslavia, Romania, Czechoslovakia and Poland which will still further strengthen Bulgaria’s position in the world. . . .”

3. FROM THE SPEECH BY T. KOSTOV (BULGARIAN DELEGATION) AT THE SECOND CONFERENCE (21 JUNE 1948) (pp. 561, 563, 565, 567, 569):

“. . . Comrade KOSTOV says that the CC of the Bulgarian Workers’ Party (Communists) received with amazement and alarm the news of the anti-Marxist and anti-Soviet stand of the leaders of the KPJ, because they realise that in the present international situation, which calls for cohesion of all democratic forces under the leadership of the Soviet Union, any split in the democratic camp plays in the hands of the imperialists and is a stab in the back for the forces of democracy. The Bulgarian communists have further ground for anxiety because they were moving towards closer relations with Yugoslavia, going so far as a federation, which was to have strengthened the position of democracy in both countries and facilitated their progress along the road to socialism.

The policy of the present leaders of the KPJ is leading to rupture of the line which had been marked out and advanced for rapprochement between Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. . .

. . . Comrade Kostov turns to the question of Bulgaro-Yugoslav relations and, in particular, speaks about the Macedonian question. After the First World War, says Comrade Kostov, Royal Yugoslavia annexed part of Western Bulgaria which remains to this day within the frontiers of Yugoslavia. During the Balkan Wars part of Eastern Macedonia (the Pirin region) became part of Bulgaria. The population of Eastern Macedonia speak Bulgarian and are linked economically with Bulgaria.

The process of forming the Macedonians into a nation was intensified after the creation of the Macedonian People’s Republic within the Yugoslav Federation. Even today, however, this process cannot be reagrded as complete.

Proceeding from the principles of the teaching of Lenin and Stalin, and considering the national question to be a subordinated one, we proposed to the Yugoslav comrades to consider as fundamental the possibility of a closer rapprochement between our two countries which must result in the near future in the creation of a federal state. The national question, too, could find its solution within the framework of a federation. In that there would be no special obstacles to the solution of this question, because in a federation there would be no frontier between Macedonia and Bulgaria.

Until the federation was formed we undertook, on the advice of the Soviet comrades, to promote the national development of the Macedonian people. To this end a hundred teachers were invited from Yugoslav Macedonia, agreement on this being arrived at between Comrades Dimitrov and Tito at Bled. In spite of this, differences continue to exist.

The Yugoslav comrades, especially Djilas, Vukmanovic and Kolisevski, still consider that the Macedonian question should be settled separately from the creation of the federation. Anybody who does not agree with their view they accuse of Greater-Bulgarian chauvinism. They want simply to annex the Pirin region to Yugoslav Macedonia and thereby to weaken Bulgaria. . . .

. . . In the light of the current behaviour of the leaders of the KPJ it has become clear that they were never sincere when they discussed the question of federation, that in their federation Bulgaria would not have had equal rights, that, in reality, they were trying to bring it about that, by means of federation, Tito’s Yugoslavia would become hegemon of the Balkans against the USSR. Evidently, Comrade Kostov concludes, the question of federation must be put aside for the time being. . . .

. . . Comrade Kostov proceeds to describe the situation in the Bulgarian Workers’ Party (Communists) and to criticise certain mistakes made by and defects in this Party. Alongside great achievements there are, says Comrade Kostov, major defects and mistakes in the Party’s work. Inner-Party democracy does not prevail at the level it should. Criticism and self criticism have not yet become the basic driving force in the Party. The CC itself does not yet work as a firmly welded collective, and command methods in relation to the Party organisations have not yet been fully outgrown. There has been no Party Congress for 20 years: since 9 September 1944 the CC has confined itself to convening enlarged plenums and conferences.

Comrade Kostov mentions the unfavourable state of affairs in respect of the Party’s social composition. There are persons in it who ought to be merely candidates for membership. Certain Party members have in the past sabotaged government decisions on grain-procurement. Some have joined the Party with venal aims and some Party organisations are being torn apart by squabbles over the allotment of jobs. Within a short space of time the Party has increased its membership twentyfold, from 25,000 to 500,000.

Taking account of the danger inherent in excessive growth of the Party, the CC has taken measures to restrict recruiting, and at the moment recruiting is suspended until the congress takes place, when a probationary period for candidates for Party membership will be laid down.

Comrade Kostov says that he considers his Party’s line to be fundamentally correct. They have achieved serious successes, smashed the forces of reaction, strengthened the Fatherland Front and proceeded to lay the foundations of a socialist economy. A correct general line does not mean, however, says Comrade Kostov, that the Party is free from mistakes and defects. The Party has these: underestimation of the class struggle, illusions about the possibility of softening this struggle in the conditions of present-day Bulgaria, failure to have a clear notion of the roads and tempos of developoment, talk of harmoniously combining the state, co-operative and private sectors in the economy, and so on. But all these mistakes have been corrected in good time, often thanks to advice from the CC of the VKP(B) and comrade Stalin personally.

All these mistakes of ours resulted in a number of cases in slowing down the pace of our struggle and our advance. In some cases, though, we ran too far ahead, as with the formulation about complete liquidation of the antagonistic classes. . . .

. . . On behalf of the Political Bureau of the Bulgarian Workers’ Party (Communists) Comrade Kostov declares his agreement with the conclusions of Comrade Zhdanov’s report on the situation in the KPJ.”

4. FROM THE REPORT BY G. MALENKOV (SOVIET DELEGATION) AT THE SECOND CONFERENCE (23 JUNE 1948) (pp. 601, 603):

“. . . We must also, says Comrade Malenkov, tell the Information Bureau that the CC of the CP of Albania has also expressed desire that their Party join the Information Bureau. We should like to state our view on this, namely, that it must be explained to the Albanian comrades that for the present it would be inexpedient for their Party to enter the Information Bureau. Our motives for this decision are these. The independence of Albania is at present guaranteed by an agreement between three Powers, Albania has not yet been admitted to the United Nations Organisation and there can be no doubt but that joining the Information Bureau in this international situation would complicate Albania’s international position, which is delicate enough even without that. It seems to us that the Albanian comrades agree with these reasons. We think that the Albanian comrades, too, should be kept informed of the activity of the Information Bureau. . . .”

5. FROM THE REPORT BY M. A. SUSLOV (SOVIET DELEGATION) ON “THE DEFENCE OF PEACE AND THE STRUGGLE AGAINST WARMONGERS” AT THE THIRD CONFERENCE (16 November 1949) (pp. 699, 701, 705):

“. . . The change in the relation of forces in the world arena in favour of the camp of peace and democracy evokes fresh outbursts of frenzied fury in the camp of imperialism and warmongering. . . .
. . . In this situation in which the danger of another war is intensifying, a great historical responsibility is imposed on the Communist and Workers’ Parties. They must use every means of struggle to ensure a firm and long-lasting peace, subordinating all their activity to this, the central task at the present time . . . .

. . . It is the duty of the Communist and Workers’ Parties in the capitalist countries to merge together the fight for national independence and the fight for peace, tirelessly to expose the anti-national, traitorous nature of the policy of the bourgeois governments, which have been turned into direct bailiffs for American imperialism, to unite and weld together all the democratic and patriotic forces of each country around the slogans of doing away with the shameful slavery to America and going over to an independent external and internal policy which corresponds to the national interests of the people. The Communist and Workers’ Parties must hold high the banner of protection of the national independence and sovereignty of their countries.

The Communist and Workers’ Parties must unite the broad masses for defence of democratic rights and liberties, tirelessly explaining to them that defence of peace is inseparably bound up with defence of the vital interests of the working class and all the working people, that the fight for peace is at the same time a fight against poverty, hunger and fascism.

Particularly important tasks face the Communist Parties of France, Italy, and Britain, West Germany and other countries whose peoples the American imperialists want to use as cannon-fodder for carrying out their aggressive plans. Their duty is to develop still more strongly the fight for peace, to frustrate the criminal designs of the Anglo-American warmongers.

To the Communist and Workers’ Parties of the people’s democracies and the Soviet Union falls the task, while opposing the imperialist warmongers and their accomplices, of further strengthening the camp of peace and socialism, for the defence of peace and the security of the peoples. . . .”

6. FROM THE SPEECH BY V. CHERVENKOV (BULGARIAN DELEGATION) AT THE THIRD CONFERENCE (17 November 1949) (pp. 749, 751, 753, 755, 757):

“. . . At the present time the question of the defence of peace and national independence is the decisive question for the working class and the Communist Parties.
Since the time of the first conference of the Information Bureau, says Comrade Chervenkov, our Party has achieved important successes on the consolidation of people’s democracy in Bulgaria. . . .

. . . the people’s democracy of Bulgaria has been substantially reinforced, both economically and politically, in the past two years. One of the most important factors in this reinforcement is the nation-wide and profound nature of Bulgarian-Soviet friendship, which is a most important driving force in our social development. . . .

. . . Our working people see Comrade Stalin as our direct teacher and leader. . . .

. . . ruthless struggle against any manifestations of nationalism within the CP is a direct duty, an absolutely necessary precondition, or more correctly, a component part of the fight for peace.

Comrade Chervenkov stresses that nationalism not only helps the warmongers, it is actually the ideology of the enemies of peace, the enemies of the Soviet Union, the warmongers themselves. Nationalists are direct agents of imperialism. . . .

. . . What we are dealing with is a plan by the imperialists to subvert the Communist Party from within, to implant nationalists espionage agents in the Party. . . .

. . . Comrade Chervenkov says that with the direct aid of the CC of the VKP(B) and of Comrade Stalin personally – for which the Bulgarian people will be forever grateful – Kostov, the former secretary of the Party’s CC was exposed.

What did Kostov turn out to be? A British spy. He confessed that he had been recruited by British intelligence so far back as 1942 and that since 1944 he had had links with the Tito clique.

On the orders of the Anglo-American intelligence agents in our country and in conjunction with the Tito-ites, Kostov formed in the Party and the state apparatus a group of persons, spies like himself, who sought by various ways and means, exploiting our weakness, trustfulness, and carelessness, to damage the Party and the state primarily in the economic sphere, and to prepare, with the Tito-ites’s help, to detach Bulgaria from the Soviet Union, restore capitalism, and bring Bulgaria into the camp of imperialism.

This separation of Bulgaria from the Soviet Union they proposed to bring about by using the slogan of a federation of the Southern Slavs and a Balkan Federation. Of course, says Comrade Chervenkov, Kostov’s federation of the Southern Slavs had nothing and has nothing in common with what we mean by an alliance of the Southern Slavs, since Kostov’s federation of the Southern Slavs was to have been directed against the USSR. The Kostovites wanted to unite Bulgaria with Yugoslavia, and counted on military help from the Tito-ites…

. . . Our successes, says Comrade Chervenkov, would have been very much greater but for the wrecking done by the Kostovites. They did damage mainly through distorting in practice the policy of the Party and the governrnent, thereby creating discontent among the people. They harmed us especially in the sphere of our econornic policy, in our relations with the peasants. . . .

. . . All the preparation for the coming elections to the organs of state power is proceeding under the sign of ruthless criticism of shortcomings and determined reorganisation of our work. Comrade Chervenkov says that the whole of the Party’s work is being subjected to thorough criticism, along with the work of the state apparatus and of the social and economic organs. The working people are being very vigorously involved in creative criticism of shortcomings and weaknesses.

Speaking of the Party’s immediate tasks, Comrade Chervenkov emphasises that it is first of all necessary to purge the Party, from top to bottom, of Kostovites and of all who maintain a conciliatory attitude to them. This task will be carried out. Although a Party purge has not been formally announced, purging of the Party’s ranks is going on, and after the Kostov trial this purge will be pursued still more vigorously.

It must be said, Comrade Chervenkov observes, that we exposed Kostov in good time. That we owe to the VKP(B) and Comrade Stalin.

The fight against the Kostovites, says Comrade Chervenkov, has welded our Party together as never before. Vigilance has been heightened, inner-Party democracy has been extended and strengthened, and the process of Bolshevik tempering of the Party is progressing. We realise that Kostov was not, of course, alone. Kostovites have hidden themselves in the Party. But they will not be able to go on hiding after the exposure of Kostov and his principal associates. . . .”

7. FROM THE SPEECH BY V. POPTOMOV (BULGARIAN DELEGATION) AT THE THIRD CONFERENCE (18 November 1949) (pp. 935, 937):

“. . . The Tito-ites now not only do not conceal their territorial pretentions regarding Bulgaria, they quite openly and impudently speak of their intervention to seize the Pirin district – Bulgarian Macedonia. They are negotiating with the Greek monarcho-fascists not only about strangling the national liberation movement in Greece, and not only about dividing Albania with them, but also about forming a united front against Bulgaria. . . .

. . . The task of Trajcho Kostov’s gang was, with the aid of the Tito-ites, to take all power in Bulgaria into its hands, and then to wrest it from the Soviet Union and the front of peace and democracy, and behind the screen of some sort of federation to join the country to Tito’s Yugoslavia, i.e., to make it an actual colony of American imperialism. . . .

. . . Comrade Poptomov notes that the Tito clique, which previously did all it could to prevent the realization of a South-Slav federation, is now trying to appear as a warm supporter of such a federation, trying in this way to speculate on the fraternal feelings of these two Slav peoples, trying to give the slogan of a South-Slav federation an anti-Soviet character which would help to bring about a breakaway of the South Slavs from the Soviet Union. This same speculation is being practised by the Tito-ites with the slogans about a Balkan and a Balkan-Danubian federation, in an attempt to create a bloc of the peoples of South-Eastern Europe directed against the Soviet Union. . . .”

END

Bill Bland: The Cominform Fights Revisionism

 

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A paper prepared for the Stalin Society in London by Bill Bland; ca 1998.

INTRODUCTION

As we have seen, the Marxist-Leninists in the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Communist International had no interest in saving a Communist International dominated by revisionists, but worked to create a new international, based on Marxist-Leninist principles and free of all revisionist trends.

THE FIRST CONFERENCE OF THE COMINFORM (1947)

The Founding of the Cominform (1947)

In October 1947 it was announced that the Communist Parties of nine European countries — Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, France, Hungary, Italy. Poland, Romania, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia — had set up, at a secret conference held in September at Szklarska Poreba in Polish Silesia during September, an ‘Information Bureau of the Communist Parties’ (Cominform), with its headquarters in Belgrade. Its purpose was to:

“. . . organise the exchange of experiences”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 6; p. 8,864).

and,

” . . . where necessary, to coordinate the activities of the Communist Parties on the basis of mutual agreement”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 6; p. 8,864).

It should be noted the Communist Party of Albania was not invited to join the Cominform. The reasons for this omission will be discussed later.

The Cominform, it was stated, would consist of two members from each participating Party and would issue a publication, the title of which was later stated to be ‘For a Lasting Peace, for a People’s Democracy’.

The principal initiative in forming the new organisation was taken by Stalin:

“He (Stalin — Ed.) founded the so-called Cominform in September 1947″.

(Isaac Deutscher: ‘Stalin: A Political Biography’; Harmondsworth; 1968; p. 570).

“As early as June 1946, Stalin had spoken with Dimitrov* and Tito* about the need of establishing an Information Bureau . . . rather than simply reviving the Comintern, on which Stalin heaped a torrent of insults and abuse which caused Dimitrov to become alternately pale and flushed with repressed anger”.

(Eugenio Reale: ‘The Founding of the Cominform’, in: Milorad M. Drachkovitch & Branko Lazitch (Eds.): ‘The Comintern: Historical Highlights: Essays, Recollections, Documents’; Stanford (USA); 1966;; p. 260).

The anti-revisionist programme of the new organisation required a new leadership. The Italian revisionist Eugenio Reale*, one of the two Italian delegates to the founding conference, notes:

“. . the absence . . . of those old veterans of the Comintern. . . The most notable leadere of the last period of the Comintern was Manuilsky*. . . . who during the final ten years had held more actual power than Dimitrov the titular secretary-general. Manuilksky was removed from the arena of international communism shortly after the dissolution of the Comintern in 1943″. (Eugenio Reale: ibid; p. 257).

At the founding conference of the Cominform, on the spot leadership was effected by Andrey Zhdanov* and Georgi Malenkov*, of the Soviet Union:

“The Soviet delegation was headed by . . . Zhdanov and Malenkov”.

(Adam B. Ulam: ‘Stalin: The Man and his Era’; London; 1989; p. 660).

with Zhdanov taking the leading role:

“It was Zhdanov who appeared in the role of master of ceremonies at the founding session of the Cominform”.

(Eugenio Reale: op. cit.; p. 257).

but behind the scenes the real leadership was carried out by Stalin:

“Stalin was its (the foundation conference’s — Ed.) absolute master, without even condescending to put in an appearance. We were made conscious of this fact in the course of our debates by the existence of a direct telephone line between our Szklarska Poreba castle and the Kremlin. Zhdanov was at our end of the line (or sometimes Malenkov) and from the other end came orders from Stalin personally, as I was to learn during a brief conversation with Zhdanov”.

(Eugenio Reale: ibid,; p. 258-59).

The main report at the conference, delivered by Zhdanov, laid down the line of the Marxist-Leninists for the next five years:

“The report made by Zhdanov . . . has a special importance for the course followed by the Communist movement until the death of Stalin. . . . The tactical and strategic line of the Communist Parties . . . was defined for the next five years by Zhdanov’s report and the statement of the nine Parties, which did no more than sum up the main ideas of the report”.

(Fernando Claudin: ‘The Communist Movement: From Comintern to Cominform’; Harmondsworth; 1975; p. 466-77).

The manifesto agreed upon at the founding conference analysed the postwar international situation as one in which two mutually antagonistic camps had come into being, namely:

“. . . . . the imperialist anti-democratic camp with the basic aim of establishing the world domination of American imperialism and the routing of democracy, and the anti-imperialist, democratic camp with the basic aim of disrupting imperialism, strengthening democracy and eliminating the remnants of Fascism. The struggle between the two is taking place in an atmosphere of the intensification of the general crisis of capitalism, the weakening of the f orces of capitalism, and the strengthening of the forces of socialism and democracy”.

(Manifesto of Communist Information Bureau (September 1947), in: ‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume-6; p. 8,864).

The manifesto described the Marshall* Plan as

“. . . only the European part of a general plan of world expansion being carried out by the USA”.

(Manifesto of Communist Information Bureau (September 1947); in ‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 6; p. 8.664).

and condemned the role of right-wing social-democracy in striving to conceal the true character of imperialism:

“The Right-wing socialists . . . strive to conceal the true predatory essence of the imperialist policy . . ., bringing disintegration into the ranks of the working class and poisoning their outlook”.

(Manifesto of Communist Information Bureau (September 1947), in: ‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 6; p. 8,664).

Criticism of French and Italian Revisionism (1947)

A main political content of the first conference of the Cominform was a strong criticism of the revisionism of the French and Italian Communist Parties.

“The conference served largely as a platform from which issued forth vigorous, scathing criticism of opportunism, legalism, bourgeois parliamentarism and other such ailments with which the French and Italian Communist Parties were said to be afflicted”.

(Eugenio Reale: op. cit.; p. 254).

For this reason, the French and Italian Commnunist Parties had received only a few days notice of the meeting:

“We Italians were not kept informed of preparations for the establishment of the Cominform. . . . The French and Italian Parties were given notice just a week before the meeting”.

(Eugenio Reale: ibid.; p. 259).

but Parties which were to play an accusatory role were given longer notice, arrived earlier and had discussions on the plan of campaign:

“When Longo* and I arrived at the conference site, we learned that nearly all the delegates of the other Parties had already arrived, some of them several days earlier. Only later did I realise with what care preparations had been made: everything had been arranged with minute precision and consummate skill. The work was to begin upon arrival of the French representatives, Stalin’s two envoys already were conferring with the members of the other delegations, and I was conscious of some embarrassment on the part of our colleagues when we appeared on the scene”.

(Eugenio Reale: ibid.; p. 259-60).

The criticism of the French and Italian Communist Parties was opened by Zhdanov:

“At the foundation conference, Zhdanov castigated the French and Italians for allowing inertia to govern their conduct, for collaborating with the bourgeoisie of their countries, and for meekness towards the Catholics and the Social-Democrats”.

(Isaac Deutscher: op. cit.; p. 570).

However, for reasons which will be discussed later, the representatives of the Yugoslav Communist Party — Milovan Djilas* and Edvard Karelj* — were allotted a prime accusatory role in relation to the French and Italian Communist Parties:

“The Yugoslavs . . . had spent three or four days deliberating with the Soviet delegates on the spot. . . .The Yugoslavs alone gave the impression of having assumed the role of Soviet partners. . . . Two special honours were accorded the Yugoslavs: Djilas and Kardelj shared the distinction of opening fire on the lopportunism’ of the French and Italian Parties, and Belgrade was selected as the capital of the Cominform. . . .

The Soviets had come well supplied with material suitable for denouncing French and Italian ‘opportunism’, and had put it at Kardelj’s and Djilas’ disposal at the preliminary meetings just before the conference. Thus the Yugoslavs were amply provided with ammunition to attack us. . . .

Many years after our Szklarska Poreba conference, Kardelj told me that his violent attack …. had been prepared with Zhadnov’s & Malenkov’s assent. . . . This was the reason for the later arrival of the French and Italian delegations, the Russians having arranged it this way to allow sufficient time for determining the proper attitude to be adopted towards us”.

(Eugenio Reale: op. cit.; p. 260, 261).

“Kardelj admonished the French and the Italians. The new revisionism, he explained, could be found in Togliatti’s* and Thorez’* hope for a new epoch of peaceful parliamentary action and in their subservience to the Vatican and Gaullism. . . . Djilas was even more categorical:
‘The French Party has yielded step by step to reaction and has permitted the disbandment and disarmament of the Resistance”.’

(Isaac Deutscher: op. cit.; p. 570-71).

“At the September 25 session Kardelj delivered his indictment of the Italian Communist Party. . . . A people’s democracy — as the Italian and French comrades should have borne in mind — could never be initiated by Communist participation in a bourgeois government. Furthermore, Kardelj asserted, the Italian Communist Party had realised too late the real meaning of American policies and had coined the opportunist slogan ‘Neither London, nor Washington, nor Moscow!’, when it was obvious that liberty could not be secured without Moscow. . .

The attack by Djilas was even more aggressive and violent than Kardelj’s. He began by asserting that the French and Italian Communists had placed their countries at the mercy of American imperialism, first by permitting the resistance forces to be dissolved, then by making one concession after another to the forces of reaction, and finally by tolerating their own exclusion from the government. The two parties had committed their major error when they declared that they would never sway from the path of parliamentarism. According to Djilas, the French Communist Party was completely undisciplined; anyone could join or quit it at will; the Party members did not feel themselves bound by any pledge. There was only one guiding principle: increase the membership at any price. The defeats suffered by the two Western Parties could be accounted for, above all, by this ‘political and ideological liberalism’ of the leaders, by their fear of assuming responsibilities, and by the absence of genuine revolutionary vigilance”.

(Eugenio Reale: op. cit.; p. 265-66).

“If the workers’ parties drown in parliamentarism, everything is done for. It is no overstatement to say that there has been a tendency towards revision of Marxism-Leninism, towards a deviation — as Browderism in the United States was a deviation. After the war, certain communists thought that a peaceful, parliamentary period of appeasement of the class struggle was ahead — there was a deviation towards opportunism and parliamentarism. in the French Party, the Italian Party, as in other Parties”.

(Edvard Kardelj: Statement at Cominform Meeting (September 1947), in: Phlip J. Jaffe: ‘The Rise and Fall of Earl Browder’, in: ‘Survey’, Volume 18, No. 12 (Spring 1972); p. 56).

The representatives of the French and Italian Communist Parties accepted the criticisms unreservedly:

“In their public statements, the French and the Italians admitted they had erred gravely”.

(Adam B. Ulam: op. cit.; p. 661).

“The next day Longo spoke briefly, admitting the validity of the criticisms levelled against the Italian Party, and promising that they would be taken into account. . .Then Duclos* replied to the criticisms and accusations. The secretary of the French Communist Party behaved like a small shopkeeper caught in a swindle: he humiliated himself, admitted his mistakes, made innumerable excuses and promises”.

(Eugenio Reale: op. cit.; p. 266).

In his final speech to the conference, representative of the French Communist Party Jacques Duclos admitted:

“There was opportunism, legalitarianism and parliamentary illusions. . . If we courageously carry out this self-criticism before the Party, we shall arouse among the masses a state of mind favourable for the fight. The French people must be mobilised against American imperialism”.

(Jacques Duclos: Statement at Cominform Meeting (September 1947), in: Philip J. Jaffe: op. ci; p. 57).

The question arises: why was it arranged that the representatives of the Yugoslav Communist Party — shortly itself to charged with revisionism -should be allotted the leading role in the criticism of the revisionism of the French and Italian Communist Parties? For one reason, it involved the Communist Party of Yugoslavia setting the precedent for intra-party criticism within the Cominform, so making it more difficult for that party to object to criticism of itself:

“In the ensuing months another of Stalin’s objectives for the Cominform of which nothing was said during our meeting — and for good reason — became apparent: the groundwork had been laid for Stalin’s move against Tito”.

(Eugenio Reale: op. cit.; p. 261).

Thus, when the Yugoslav Communist Party, in the following year, refused the invitation to a meeting of the Cominform to participate in a critical discussion of its own policies, the Cominform could strengthen its case by pointing out that the party had made no bones about criticising other Parties:

“When the Information Bureau was set up, the Communist Parties based their work on the indisputable principle . . . that any Party had the right to criticise other Parties. At the first meeting of the nine Communist Parties, the Yugoslav Communist Party took full advantage of this right”.

(Communique: Meeting of Information Bureau of the Communist Parties (June 1948), in: ‘The Soviet-Yugoslav Dispute’; London; 1948; p. 68).

Undoubtedly, the anticipated dispute with the Yugoslav Communist Party, was responsible for the failure to invite the Communist Party of Albania to join the Cominform since, at the time the organisation was established, this Party was dominated by Titoite revisionists. The 8th Plenum of the CC of the CPA, which was held in February 1948,

” . . . agreed to such forms of economic ties between Albania and Yugoslavia which would have led to the elimination of the Albanian state”.

(‘History of the Party of Labour of Albania’; Tirana; 1982; p. 234).

Thus:

“. . . the condemnation of Tito offered an explanation for the absence of the Albanians (from the Cominform – Ed.). They were much under the influence of their Yugoslav comrades, and it was thought wiser not to include them in the Cominform, in order to isolate Tito better and thus settle his case more easily”.

(Ivan Avakumovich: ‘The Dissolution of the Cominform’, in: ‘Contemporary Review’, Volume 190; No. 1,087 (July 1956); p. 29).

THE SECOND CONFERENCE OF THE COMINFORM (1948)

The second conference of the Cominform was held in Yugoslavia in January 1948. Only one item was on the agenda, namely,

“…press and propaganda”.

(—–: “The Evolution of the Cominform’, in: ‘The World Today’, Volume 6, No. 5 (May 1950); p. 217).

For the Cominform journal ‘For a Lasting Peace, for a People’s Democracy’, a new editorial board was appointed, headed by:

“Yudin*, the Russian delegate to the second Cominform meeting”.

( — : ‘The Evolution of the Cominform’; ibid.; p. 217).

who represented

“. . . the conception of the new generation of Soviet ideologists, for whom Marxism is inseparable from Stalinism”.

( –: ‘The Evolution of the Cominform’; ibid.; p. 218).

THE THIRD CONFERENCE OF THE COMINFORM (1948)

The Expulsion of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia

On 18 March 1948 the Yugoslav government was notified:

” . . . that the Government of the USSR had decided immediately to withdraw all military advisers and instructors”.

(‘Correspondence between the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia and the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks)’; Belgrade; 1948 (herafter listed as ‘Correspondence’); p. 21).

from Yugoslavia, on the grounds:

” . . . that they were not being treated in a friendly spirit in Yugoslavia”.

(‘Correpondence’; p. 21).

On the following day, 19 March 1948, the Yugoslav government was informed of a decision to the effect that the Soviet government:

“. . . orders the recall of all their civilian specialists from Yugoslavia”.

(‘Correspondence’; p. 21).

These actions on the part of the Soviet government were followed -between March and June 1948 — by a mutually critical correspoondence between the leaderships of the two Parties.

On 4 May 1948 the Central Committee of the CPSU proposed:

” . . . that this question be discussed at the next meeting of the Inform Bureau”.

(‘Correspondence’; op. cit.; p. 64).

Tito* and Kardelj rejected the proposal on 17 May 1948:

“We are not able to accede to the suggestion that this matter be decided by the Cominform Buro”.

(‘Correspondence’; op. cit.; p. 65).

The CC of the CPSU replied on 22 May 1948, pointing out that:

“. . . at the time of the organisation of the Inform Buro all Communist Parties started from the uncontested policy that each Party should submit reports to the Inform Buro; and similarly that each Party had the right to criticise other Parties. . . .

The Yugoslav comrades . . . think that the Yugoslav Party and its leadership should be placed in a privileged position and that the statutes of the Inform Buro do not apply to them; that they have a right to critice other parties, but they themselves should not be subjected to a criticism by others. . . .

By refusing to appear before the Inform Buro thay mean to say that the CC of the CPY . . . are now preparing their party and the Yugoslav people for the betrayal of the united front of People’s Democracies and of the betraval of the united front of People’s Democracies and of the USSR”.

(‘Correspondence’; op. cit.; p. 66, 67, 68).

The Second Conference of the Cominform was thus held in June 1948 in the absence of any representative from the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. Here the leading role in the criticism of the CPY was taken by the representatives of the French and Italian Communist Parties which had been so strongly criticised at the first conference of the Cominform:

“At the second conference of the Information Bureau, Togliatti* emerged as the most uncompromising enemy of the Yugoslavs, anxious to avenge the previous year’s insults by a frontal assault upon the Yugoslav Communist Party. The French Party acted similarly. Etienne Fajon, the second-place French delegate at Szklarska Poreba, was given the task of drawing up the indictment against the Yugoslavs at the plenary session of his Party”. He pointed out that those who had attacked the French and Italians last year as deviationists had just been unmasked themselves, and with good reason”.

(Eugenio Reale: op. cit.; p. 262).

On June 28 1948, the Cominform announced that the Communist Party of Yugoslavia had been expelled from the organisation.

The Cominform statement asserted that the leadership of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia had gravely deviated from Marxist-Leninist principles.

Firstly, it had followed a policy of hostility to the socialist Soviet Union:

“An undignified policy of defaming Soviet military experts and discrediting the Soviet Union has been carried out in Yugoslavia. A special regime was instituted for Soviet civilian experts in Yugoslavia, whereby they were under surveillance of Yugoslav state security organs and were continually followed. The representative of the CPSU (B) in the Information Bureau, Comrade Yudin, and a number of official representatives of the Soviet Union in Yugoslavia, were followed and kept under observation by Yugoslav state security organs.

All these and similar facts show that the leaders of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia have taken a stand unworthy of Communists, and have begun to identify the foreign policy of the Soviet Union with the foreign policy of the imperialist powers, behaving towards the Soviet Union in the same manner as they behave towards bourgeois states. Precisely because of this anti-Soviet stand, slanderous propaganda about the ‘degeneration’ of the CPSU (B), about the ‘degeneration’ of the USSR, and so on, borrowed from the arsenal of ounter-revolutionary Trotskyism, is current within the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. . .

The Yugoslav leaders think that by making concessions they can curry favour with the imperialist states. . . . In this they proceed tacitly from the well-known bourgeois-nationalist thesis that ‘capitalist states are a lesser danger to the independence of Yugoslavia than the Soviet Union’. .

Such a nationalist line can only lead to Yugoslavia’s degeneration into an ordinary bourgeois republic, to the loss of its independence and to its transformation into a colony of the imperialist countries”.

(Resolution of Information Bureau of the Communist Parties (June 1948), in: ‘The Soviet-Yugoslav Dispute: Text of the Political Correspondence’; London; 1948; p. 62, 69, 70).

Secondly, it had based itself not on the working class but on the peasantry and was neglecting the struggle for socialism in the countryside:

“In home policy, the leaders of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia are departing from the positions of the working class and are breaking with the Marxist theory of classes and class struggle. They deny that there is a growth of capitalist elements in their country, and consequently a sharpening of the class struggle in the countryside. This denial is the direct result of the opportunist tenet that the class struggle does not become sharper during the period of the transition from capitalism to socialism. as Marxism-Leninism teaches, but dies down, as was affirmed by opportunists of the Bukharin* type, who propagated the theory of the peaceful growing over of capitalism into socialism. . . .

In the conditions obtaining in Yugoslavia, where individual peasant farming predominates, where the land is not nationalised, where there is private property in land, and where land can be bought and sold, where much of the land is concentrated in the hands of kulaks, and where hired labour is employed — in such conditions there can be no question of . . glossing over the class struggle and of reconciling class contradictions without by so doing disarming the Party. . The leaders of the Yugoslav Communist Party, by affirming that the peasantry is ‘the most stable foundation of the Yugoslav state’, are departing from the Marxist-Leninist path and are taking the path of a populist kulak party. Lenin taught that the proletariat, as the ‘only class in contemporary society which is revolutionary to the end . . . must be the leader in the struggle . . . of all working people and the exploited against the oppressors and exploiters”.

(Resolution of Information Bureau of the Communist Parties (June 1948), in: ibid.; p. 62-63).

Thirdly, the leaders of the Party, which should have been the leading force in society, had dissolved it into the multi-class People’s Front, which was the leading force in society:

“According to the theory of Marxism-Leninism, the Party is the main guiding and leading force in the country . . . . the highest form of organisation and the most important weapon of the working class.

In Yugoslavia, however, the People’s Front, and not the Communist Party, is considered to be the main leading force in the country. The Yugoslav leaders belittle the role of the Communist Party and actually dissolve the Party in the non-party People’s Front, which is composed of the most varied class elements (workers, peasants engaged in individual farming, kulaks, traders, small manufacturers, bourgeois intelligentsia, etc., as well as mixed political groups, which include certain bourgeois parties. …..

The fact that in Yugoslavia it is only the People’s Front which figures in the political arena, while the Party and its organisations do not appear openly before the people in its own name, not only belittles role of the Party in the political life of the country, but also undermines the Party as an independent political force…

This policy . . . threatens the very existence of the Communist Party, and ultimately carries with it the danger of the degeneration of the People’s Republic of Yugoslavia”.

(Resolution of Information Bureau of the Communist Parties (June 1948), in: ibid.; p. 64).

Fourthly, the Yugoslav Communist Party does not operate on the basis of democratic centralism and had rejected fraternal criticism from the Cominform:

“The bureaucratic regime created inside the Party by its leaders is disastrous for life and development of the Yugoslav Communist Party. There is no inner-Party democracy, no elections, and no criticism and self-criticism in the Party. . . . The majority of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia is composed of co-opted, and not of elected members. The Communist Party is actually in a position of semilegality. Party meetings are either not hald at all, or meet in secret a fact which can only undermine the influence of the Party among the masses. This type organisation of the Yugoslav Communist Party cannot be described as anything but a sectarian-bureaucratic organisation. It leads to the liquidation of the Party as an active, self-acting organisation. . . .

The most elementary rights of members in the Yugoslav Communist Party are suppressed, . . . the slightest criticism of incorrect measures in the Party is brutally repressed. . . .

Such a disgraceful, purely Turkish, terrorist regime cannot be tolerated. . . .

The criticism made by the Central Committee the Communist Party of the Soviet (B) and Central Committees of the other Communist Parties of the mistakes of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia . . . . rendered fraternal assistance to the Yugoslav Communist Party. . .

However, instead of honestly accepting this criticism and taking the Bolshevik path of correcting these mistakes, the leaders of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, suffering from boundless ambition, arrogance and conceit, met this criticism with belligerence and hostility”.

(Resolution of Information Bureau of the Communist Parties (June 1948), in: ibid.; p. 64-65).

The resolution concluded with the announcement of the expulsion of the Yugoslav Communist Party from the Cominform:

“The Information Bureau unanimiously concludes that by their antiParty and anti-Soviet views, incompatible with Marxism-Leninism, by their whole attitude and their refusal to attend the meeting of the Information Bureau, the leaders of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia have placed themselves in opposition to the Communist Parties affiliated to the Information Bureau, have taken the path of seceding from the united socialist front against imperialism, have taken the path of betraying the cause of international solidarity of the working people, and have taken up a position of nationalism.

The Information Bureau considers that, in view of all this, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia has placed itself and the Yugoslav Party . . . outside the ranks of the Information Bureau”.

(Resolution of Information Bureau of the Communist Parties (June 1948), in: ibid.; p. 68-69).

THE FOURTH CONFERENCE OF THE COMINFORM (1949)

The 4th Conference of the Cominform was held in Hungary in November 1949, and adopted three resolutions.

The first resolution, entitled ‘The Defence of Peace and the Fight against the Warmongers’, was introduced by Mikhail Suslov* (Soviet Union). It confirmed the basic analysis of whe world situation made at the 1st Conference in 1947, but stated that since that time the danger of war had increased:

“The entire policy of the Anglo-American imperialist bloc is subordinated to the preparations for another war. . .The Anglo-Anerican bloc is conducting its preparations for a new war along every line”.

(Resolution of the Information Bureau on ‘Defence of Peace and the Fight against the Warmongers’, in: ‘Meeting of the Information Bureau of Communist Parties in Hungary in the Latter Part of November 1949′; Prague; 1950; p. 8, 10).

But, declared the resolution,

” . . . the people do not want war and hate war”.

(Ibid.; p. 10).

Therefore,

“…it is of the utmost importance today to unute all genuine peace supporters, regardless of religious beliefs, political views or party affiliation, on the broadest platform of fighting for peace and against the danger of a new war with which mankind is threatened”.

(Ibid.p. 12).

so that

“. . . the struggle for stable and lasting peace. . should now become the pivot of the entire activity of the Communist Parties and democratic organisations”.

(Ibid.; p, 11).

The second resolution, entitled ‘Class Unity and the Tasks of the Communist and Workers’ Parties’, moved by Palmiro Togliatti (Italy), declared that:

“. . . unity of the working-class movement and solidarity of all the democratic forces is not only necessary for the accomplishment of the daily and current tasks of the working class and labouring masses generally, it is also necessary for the solution of the fundamental problems confronting the proletariat, as the class which leads the struggle for the abolition of the power of monopoly capital and for the reorganisation of society on socialist lines”.

(Resolution of the Information Bureau on ‘Working Class Unity and the Tasks of the Communist and Workers’ Parties’, in: ibid.; p. 21).

This programme necessarily involves:

“. . irreconcilable and consistent struggle in theory and practice against the right-wing Socialists and reactionary trade-union leaders”.

(Ibid.; p. 20-21).

and

” . . . will make it possible to develop the struggle in the capitalist countries for the formation of governments which would rally all the patriotic forces opposed to the enslavement of their countries by American imperialism”.

(Ibid.; p. 21).

This

” . . . unity of the working class can be won only in an irreconcilable and consistent struggle in the realm of theory and practice against the Right Socialists and reactionary trade-union leaders”.

(Ibid.; p. 20-21).

A third resolution, entitled ‘The Communist Party of Yugoslavia in the Power of Assassins and Spies’, was introduced by Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej* (Romania). It characterised the leaders of the Yugoslav Communist Party as:

“. . . enemies of the working class and the peasantry, enemies of the peoples of Yugoslavia.”

(Resolution of the Information Bureau on ‘The Communist Party of Yugoslavia in the Power of Assassins and Spies’ (November 1949), in: ‘Meeting of the Information Bureau of Communist Parties in Hungary in the Latter Half of November 1949′; Prague; 1950; p. 27).

who had

” . . . betrayed the interests of the country and destroyed the political sovereignty and economic independence of Yugoslavia”.

(Ibid.; p. 27).

In consequence:

” . . . the fight against the Tito clique of hired spies and assassins is the international duty of all the Communist and Workers’ Parties”.

(Ibid.; p. 28).

The Dissolution of the Cominform

After Stalin’s death in 1953, the Cominform ceased to be active in the struggle against revisionism:

“After 1953, the Cominform in practice eased to exist (though its formal disbandment did not take place until April 1956)”.

(Fernando Claudin: op. cit.; p. 467).

Indeed, between 1953 and 1956 the Cominform journal some articles favourable to Tito regime:

“The anti-Tito campaign died down as relations between Moscow and Belgrade improved after Stalin’s death. The Cominform journal followed suit and began to publish again articles favourable to Marshal Tito’s regime”.

(Ivan Avakumovich: op. cit.; p. 29).

In April 1956, an announcement in ‘Pravda’ stated that:

“. . the eight Communist Parties in membership of the Cominform (those of the USSR, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, France and Italy) had unanimously agreed that the organisation should be dissolved because it had ‘exhausted its function’, and had also agreed to cease publication of the Cominform journal ‘For a Lasting Peace, For a People’s Democracy”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’. Volume 10; p. 14,829).

The statement gave as the reasons for the dissolution basically the same reasons given by the revisionists for the dissolution of the Comintern, namely:

“. . . the fact that Socialism had passed beyond the framework of a single country, and had been transformed into a ‘world system’; the formation of a wide ‘peace zone’ that included non-Socialist as well as Socialist countries . . . ; and the strenthening of Communist Parties in capitalist, dependent and colonial countries”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’; Volume 10; p. 14,829).

In fact, the dissolution was a gesture of appeasement towards the Tito revisionists:

“Its (the Cominform’s — Ed.) dissolution precedes Tito’s coming visit to Moscow. It is yet another concession to him in an attempt to improve relations”.

(Ivan Avakumovich: op. cit.; p. 30).

The news of the dissolution:

” . . . was warmly welcomed in Yugoslavia”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archivest, Volume 10; p. 14,829).

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

BROZ, Josip (‘TITO’), Yugoslav revisionist politician (1892-1980); in Balkan secretariat of CI (1935-37); secretary-general, YCP/LCY (1937-66); marshal (1943); Premier (1945-53); President (1953-80); chairman, LCY (1966-80).
BUKHARIN, Nicolay I., Soviet revisionist politician (1888-1938); deputy chairman, ECCI (1919-26); member, ECCI political secretariat (1926-29); editor-in-chief, ‘Izvestia’ (1933-37); found guilty of treason and executed (1938).

DIMITROV, Georgi M., Bulgarian revisionist politician (1882-1949); director, West European Bureau CI (1929-33); arrested in connection with Reichstag Fire (1933); to Soviet Union (1934); secretary-general, CI (1935-43); to Bulgaria (1945); secretary-general, BCP (1945-49); Premier (1946-49),

DJILAS, Milovan, Yugoslav revisionist politician (1911- ); Vice-President (1953-45); expelled from Party (1954); imprisoned (1956-61, 1962-66).

GHEORHIU-DF.J, Gheorghe, Romanian revisionist politician (1901-65); General/First Secretary, Roman Workers’ Party (1945-65); Minister of Communications (1944-46); Minister of Economy (1946-52); Premier (195261); President (1961-65).

KARDELJ, Edvard, Yugoslav revisionist politician (1910-79); to Soviet Union (1934); to Yugoslavia (1937); Vice-President (1945-53); Minister of Foreign Affairs (1948-53); President, Federal Assembly (1963-67); secretary, CC, LCY (1958-66); President, CC, LCY (1966-69).

LONGO, Luigi, Italian revisionist politician (1900-80); ICP representative on CI (1933-36); to Spain (1936); inspector-general, International Brigades (1936-39); to France (1939); in Italian concentration camp (1942-43); deputy secretary-general, ICP (1945-64); secretary-general, ICP (195472); president, ICP (1972-80).

MALENKOV, Georgi, Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1901-88); member, Defence Council (1941-45); USSR Deputy Premier (1946-53); secretary, CPSU (1953); USSR Premier (1953-55); USSR Minister of Power Stations (195768); expelled from CPSU by revisionists (1961).

MANUILSKY, Dmitry Z., Soviet revisionist politician (1883-1959); member, political secretariat, ECCI (1926-43); Ukrainian Deputy Premier and Minister of Foreign Affairs (1944-50).

MARSHALL, George C., American military officer and politician (1880-1959); chief-of-staff with rank of general (1939-45); President’s special representative in China (1945-47); Secretary of State (1947-49); Secretary of Defence (1950-51).

MOLOTOV, Vyacheslav M., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1890-1986); member, ECCI political secretariat (1928-30); USSR Premier (1930-41); USSR Deputy Premier and Commissar/Minister for Foreign Affairs (1939-49); USSR Minister of State Control (1956-57); Ambassador to Mongolian People’s Republic (1957-60); USSR Representative on International Atomic Energy Committee (1960-62); expelled from CPSU by revisionists (1962); readmitted (1984).

REALE, Eugenio, Italian surgeon, diplomat and revisionist politician (1905); Ambassador to Poland (1945-47); expelled from IPC (1956).

SUSLOV, Mikhail A., Soviet revisionist politician (1902-82); secretary, CC, CPSU (1947-92); member, politburo, CC, CPSU (1955-82); editor-in-chief, ‘Pravda’ (1940-50).

‘TITO’ — see: BROZ, Josip.

THOREZ, Maurice, French revisionist politician (1900-64); secretary-general, FCP (1930-64); Minister of State (1945-46); Deputy Premier (1945-46).

TOGLIATTI, Palmiro, Italian revisionist politician (1893-1964); secretary-general, ICP (1927-64); member, CI secretariat (1935); Minister without Portfolio (1944); Vice-Premier (1945).

YUDIN, Pavel F., Soviet Marxist-Leninist philosopher and politician (1899- ); director, Institute of Red Professors (1932-38); director, Institute of Philosophy, USSR Academy of Sciences (1938-44); director, RSFSR Association of State Publishing Houses (1937-47); editor-in-chief,
‘Sovetskaia Kniga’; Deputy High Commissioner in Germany (1953); Ambassador to People’s Republic of China (1953-59).

ZHDANOV, Andrey A., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1896-1948); secretary, Leningrad, CPSU (1934-44); secretary, CPSU (1944-48); murdered by revisionists (1948).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Avakumovich, Ivan: ‘The Dissolution of the Cominform’, in: ‘Contemporary Review’, Volume 190; No. 1,087 (July 1956).
Claudin, Fermando: ‘The Communist Movement: From Comintern to Cominform’;
Harmondsworth; 1975.
Deutscher, Isaac: ‘Stalin: A Political Biography’; Harmondsworth; 1968.
Jaffe, Philip J. ‘The Rise and Fall of Earl Browder’, in: ‘Survey’, Volume 18, No. 12 (Spring 1972).
Reale, Eugenio: ‘The Founding of the Cominform’, in: Milorad M. Drachkovitch & Branko Lazitch (Eds): ‘The Comintern: Historical Highlights: Essays, Recollections, Documents’; Stanford (USA); 1966.
Ulam, Adam B.: ‘Stalin: The Man and his Era’; London; 1989.
___’Correspondence between the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia and the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks)’; Belgrade; 1948.
‘The Evolution of the Cominform’, in: ‘The World Today’, Volume 6, No. 5 (May 1950).
‘History of the Party of Labour of Albania’; Tirana; 1982.
‘Meeting of the Information Bureau of Communist Parties in Hungary in the Latter Half of November 1949′; Prague; 1950.
‘The Soviet-Yugoslav Dispute: Text of the Political Correspondence’; London; 1948.
‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’

Resolution of the Information Bureau Concerning the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, June 28, 1948

 

tito_usa

The Information Bureau, composed of the representatives of the Bulgarian Workers’ Party (Communists), Rumanian Workers’ Party, Hungarian Workers’ Party, Polish Workers’ Party, The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), Communist Party of France, Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and the Communist Party of Italy, upon discussing the situation in the Communist Party of Yugoslavia and announcing that the representatives of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia bad refused to attend the meeting of the Information Bureau, unanimously reached the following conclusions:

1. The Information Bureau notes that recently the leadership of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia has pursued an incorrect line on the main questions of home and foreign policy, a line which represents a departure from Marxism-Leninism. In this connection the Information Bureau approves the action of the Central Committee of the CPSU(B), which took the initiative in exposing this incorrect policy of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, particularly the incorrect policy of Comrades Tito, Kardell, Djilas and Rankovic.

2. The Information Bureau declares that the leadership of the Yugoslav Communist Party is pursuing an unfriendly policy toward the Soviet Union and the CPSU (B). An undignified policy of defaming Soviet military experts and discrediting the Soviet Union, has been carried out in Yugoslavia. A special regime was instituted for Soviet civilian experts in Yugoslavia, whereby. they were under surveillance of Yugoslav state security organs and were continually followed. . . .

The Information Bureau denounces this anti-Sovict attitude of the leaders of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, as being incompatible with Marxism-Leninism and only appropriate to nationalists.

3. In home policy, the leaders of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia are departing from the positions of the working class and are breaking with the Marxist theory of classes and class struggle. They deny that there is a growth of capitalist elements in their country, and consequently, a sharpening of the class struggle in the countryside. This denial is the direct result of the opportunist tenet that the class struggle does not become sharper during the period of transition from capitalism to socialism, as Marxism-Leninism teacbes, but dies down, as was affirmed by opportunists of the Bukharin type, who propagated the theory of the peaceful growing over of capitalism into socialism.

The Yugoslav leaders are pursuing an incorrect policy in the countryside by ignoring the class differentiation in the countryside and by regarding the individual peasantry as a single entity, contrary to the Marxist-Leninist doctrine of classes and class struggle, contrary to the well-known Lenin thesis that small individual farming gives birth to capitalism and the bourgeoisie continually, daily, hourly, spontaneously and on a mass scale. . . .

Concerning the leading role of the working class, the leaders of the Yugoslav Communist Party, bv affirming that the peasantry is the ‘most stable foundation of the Yugoslav state’ are departing from the Marxist-Leninist path and are taking the path of a populist, Kulak party. Lenin taught that the proletariat as the ‘only class in contemporary society which is revolutionary to the end . . . must be the leader in the struggle of the entire people for a thorough democratic transformation, in the struggle of all working people and the exploited against the oppressors and exploiters!

The Yugoslav leaders are violating this thesis of Marxism-Leninism. . . .

4. The Information Bureau considers that the leadership of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia is revising the Marxist-Leninist teachings about the Party. . .

The Information Bureau believes that this policy of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia threatens the very existence of the Communist Party, and ultimatelv carries with it the danger of the degeneration of the People’s Republic of Yugoslavia.

5. The Information Bureau considers that the bureaucratic regime created inside the Party by its leaders is disastrous for the life and development of the Yugoslav Communist Party. There is no inner Party democracy, no elections, and no criticism and self-criticism in the Party. . . .

It is a completely intolerable state of affairs when the most elementary rights of members in the Yugoslav Communist Party are suppressed, when the slightest criticism of incorrect measures in the Party is brutally repressed. . . .

The Information Bureau considers that such a disgraceful, purely Turkish, terrorist regime cannot be tolerated in the Communist Party. The interests of the very existence and development of the Yugoslav Communist Party demand that an end be put to this regime.

6. The Information Bureau considers that the criticism made by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (B) and Central Committees of the other Communist Parties of the mistakes of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, and who ill this way rendered fraternal assistance to the Yugoslav Communist Party, provides the Communist Party of Yugoslavia with all the conditions necessary to speedily correct the mistakes committed.

However, instead of honestly accepting this criticism and taking the Bolshevik path of correcting these mistakes, the leaders of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, suffering from boundless ambition, arrogance and conceit, met this criticism with belligerarice and hostility. . . .

7. Taking into account the situation in the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, and seeking to show the leaders of the Party the way out of this situation, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (B) and the Central Committees of other fraternal parties, suggested that the matter of the Yugoslav Communist Party should be discussed at a meeting of the Information Bureau, on the same, normal party footing as that on which the activities of other Communist Parties were discussed at the first meeting of the Information Bureau.

However, the Yugoslav leaders rejected the repeated suggestions of the fraternal Communist Parties to discuss the situation in the Yugoslav Party at a meeting of the Information Bureau. . . .

8. In view of this, the Information Bureau expresses complete agreement with the estimation of the situation in the Yugoslav Communist Partv, with the criticism of the mistakes of the Central Committee of the Party, and with the political analysis of these mistakes contained in letters from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (B) to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia between March and May 1948.

The Information Bureau unanimously concludes that by their anti-Party and anti-Soviet views, incompatible with Marxism-Leninism, by their whole attitude and their refusal to attend the meeting of the Information Bureau, the leaders of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia have placed themselves in opposition to the Communist Parties affiliated to the Information Bureau, have taken the path of seceding from the united socialist front against imperialism, have taken the path of betraying the cause of international solidarity of the working people, and have taken up a position of nationalism.

The Information Bureau condemns this anti-Party policy and attitude of the Central Cominittee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia.

The Information Bureau considers that, in view of all this, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia has placed itself and the Yugoslav Party outside the family of the fraternal Communist Parties, outside the united Communist front and consequently outside the ranks of the Information Bureau.

[...]

The Information Bureau does not doubt that inside the Communist Party of Yugoslavia there are sufficient healthy elements, loyal to Marxism-Leninism, to the international traditions of the Yugoslav Communist Party and to the United Socialist front.

Their task is to compel their present leaders to recognize their mistakes openly and honestly and to rectify them; to break with nationalism, return to internationalism; and in every way to consolidate the united socialist front against imperialism.

Should the present leaders of the Yugoslav Communist Party prove incapable of doing this, their job is to replace them and to advance a new internationalist leadership of the Party.

The Information Bureau does not doubt that the Cominunist Party of Yugoslavia will be able to fulfill this honourable task.

Source: Royal Institute of International Affairs, The Soviet-Yugoslav Dispute (London and New York, 1948), pp. 61-70., excerpts.

Vietnam & Trotskyism: Three letters from Ho Chi Minh

ho-chi-minh

Sent from China to the Vietnamese CP in 1939

(* Ho Chi Minh refers in these letters to a number of Chinese communists, by names translated from Chinese to Vietnamese, and the editors have been unable to establish their identity. The names are left in the French-Vietnamese translation).

First Letter

Kwelin, 10 May 1939

Dearly beloved comrades,

In the past, in my eyes and those of a good number of comrades, Trotskyism seemed a matter of a struggle between tendencies within the Chinese Communist Party. That’s why we hardly paid it any attention. But a little before the outbreak of war, more exactly since the end of the year 1936 and notably during the war, the criminal propaganda of the Trotskyists opened our eyes. Since then, we have set ourselves to study the problem.

And our study has led us to the following conclusions:

1. The problem of Trotskyism is not a struggle between tendencies within the Chinese Communist Party, for between communists and Trotskyists there is no link, absolutely not one link: It is a question that concerns the entire people: the struggle against the Fatherland.

2. The Japanese fascists and foreigners now it. That’s why they seek to create divisions to deceive public opinion and damage the reputation of the Communists, making people believe that Communists and Trotskyists are in the same camp.

3. The Chinese Trotskyists (like the Trotskyists of other countries) do not represent a political group, much less a political party. They are nothing but a band of evil-doers, the running dogs of Japanese fascism (and of international fascism).

4. In all countries, the Trotskyists give themselves fine names in order to mask their dirty work and banditry. For example: in Spain they call themselves the United Marxist Workers Party (POUM). Do you know that it’s they who constitute the nests of spies in Madrid in Barcelona and in other places in the service of Franco?

It is they who are organising the infamous ‘fifth column’, the espionage body of the army of the Italian and German fascists. In Japan, they call themselves the Marx-Engels-Lenin League (MEL). The Japanese Trotskyists lure youth into their league, then they denounce them to the police. They seek to penetrate the Japanese Communist Party with the aim of destroying it from within. To my mind, the French Trotskyists now organised around the Proletarian Revolution Group have settled on the aim of sabotaging the Popular Front. On this subject, I think you are surely better informed than I. Here in China, the Trotskyists are regrouping around formations such as The Struggle Against the Japanese, Culture and Red Flag.

5. The Trotskyists are not only the enemies of Communism, they are also the enemies of democracy and of progress. They are the most infamous traitors and spies.

Perhaps you have read the charges in the proceedings against the Trotskyists in the Soviet Union? If you have not read them, I advise you to read them and to get your friends to read them. This reading is very useful. It will help you to see the true repugnant face of Trotskyism and Trotskyists. Here, I have taken the liberty of extracting some passages directly concerning China.

Before the tribunal, the Trotskyist Rakovsky has sworn that, in 1930, when he was in Tokyo (as representative of the Soviet Red Cross) a person highly placed in the Japanese government said to him: “We are now expecting a change of strategy from the Trotskyists. I won’t enter into the details. I only want to tell you that we expect from the Trotskyists actions which favour our intervention in the affairs of China”.

Replying to the Japanese, Rakovsky said: “I will write to Trotsky on this subject”. In December 1935, Trotsky sent his followers in China instructions in which he underlined several times this phrase: “Do not create obstacles to the Japanese invasion of China”.

Thus, the Russian Trotskyists wished to sell to the Japanese part of their Fatherland – Siberia and the Maritime Provinces – they now wish to sell to the latter our Fatherland, China!

And the Chinese Trotskyists, how have they acted? That is what you are in a hurry to know, isn’t it?

But, beloved comrades, I cannot reply to you till my next letter. Haven’t you recommended that I write short letters?

I hope to see you again soon.

PC Line
(Ho Chi Minh)

Second Letter

Dearly beloved comrades,

Before I reply to you on the activities of the Trotskyists in China, permit me to introduce half a dozen of their ring-leaders, known traitors, who have written on behalf of the Fourth International. Tran Doc Tu (Chen Duxiu), Banh Thuat Chi, La Han, Diep Thanh, Truong Mo Dao, Hoang Cong Luoc.*

Chronologically, here are the acts they have committed:

In September 1931, at the time of the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, Japanese Security made contact with the first three. The two parties signed a pact: the Trotskyist group agreed not to advance any propaganda against the Japanese invasion. Japanese Secunty agreed to make over to the Trotskyists a sum of three hundred dollars monthly as well as other supplementary sums, according to the ‘results of the services rendered’.

From this moment, Chen Duxiu (Tran Doc Tu) and his accomplices immediately set to work. With the Japanese funds, they published magazines and satirical pamphlets to propagate ideas such as: ‘In occupying Manchuria, the Japanese wanted to rapidly settle the conflict and suspend it, they did not aim to make themselves masters of China’.

Scarcely had these ideas been propagated in the columns of their publications than Shanghai was attacked in turn in January 1932 by Japanese troops.

At this moment, what do the Trotskyists say? Do they recognise that they were wrong? Do they cease collaborating with the occupier? Absolutely not! While the soldiers of the 19th army spill their blood to defend the Fatherland, the Trotskyists, in acts as in words, continue to commit crime upon crime. On one side, they write: ‘The war for Shanghai doesn’t concern the people at all. It is not a case of a national revolutionary war. It is a case of imperialist war’. On the other side, they spread false rumours, put forward slogans of a defeatist character, gave away defence secrets, etc.

But that’s not all. Trotskyists such as Hoa Van Khoi and Cung Van Thu, in secret liaison with the police and the Japanese bosses, infiltrated into the workers’ strike at Shanghai and employed all means to sabotage the movement. To the point where they managed to have the most talented activists in the strike arrested.

In 1933, Generalissimo Phung Ngoc Tuong and General Cat Hong Xuong, members of the Communist Party, organised an anti-Japanese resistance force at Kal Gan. At this time, the CCP being underground, liaison between the centre and the North was proving difficult. Profiting by this situation, the Trotskyist Truong Mo Dao, calling himself a ‘representative of the Communist Party’, tried to transform the anti-Japanese war into a civil war with the slogan: ‘March with the Japanese, struggle against Chiang Kai Shek’. In the end, he was unmasked and expelled by General Cat. A short time later, in the course of a journey of the latter to Tientsin, Truong Mo Dao had him assassinated by his followers.

In my next letter, I shall tell you how the Trotskyists of China have pursued their activities as traitors to the Fatherland.

Fraternal greetings
PC Line

Third Letter

Beloved Comrades,

In my last letters, I told you how the Trotskyists received their salary from the Japanese and how they sought to sabotage our heroic struggle at Shanghai and our patriotic movement at Kal Gan. Today, I will tell you the rest of their crimes.

Having fallen back to Fukien, the 19th Army again took up its struggle. It formed an anti-Japanese Government and led the propaganda for the united front thanks to the signing of a pact with the Chinese Red Army. Shortly before this, the 19th army was one of the most anti-communist forces. But confronted by the danger which menaced the Fatherland, it agreed to forget the quarrels and hatred in order to aim at one single end: the struggle against the invaders.

Obeying the orders of the Japanese, the Trotskyists immediately went into action: on one side, they fomented regionalist sentiments amongst the population—the 19th army having come from Kwangtung—to combat the new government. On the other side, they sought to enfeeble the Red Army. The way in which they accomplished the second task is the following: among the many revolutionary militants, they applied to join the Red Army. In the beginning, in order to win over confidence, they led very positive actions. Once placed in more or less important posts of responsibility, they began to commit criminal acts. I will cite you some examples: In battle, when it was necessary to retreat, they gave the order to advance. When it was necessary to advance, they gave the order to retreat. They sent reinforcements and arms to places where they were not needed. But where they were needed, they didn’t send them. They painted with poison the wounds of combatants, above all of the cadres of the army, with the aim of making them have their arms and legs etc. amputated. These criminal acts were luckily discovered in time. What luck for the Communists!

Since 1935, the Communists have led a campaign of great scope for the formation of a national Front against the Japanese. The people, and particularly the workers and peasants, have actively taken up this programme. In the Kuomintang, the idea of a national Front is making progress. During this time, it has been proved that the Trotskyists are playing a double game, having recourse at the same time to lies and to treachery. They say to the masses: ‘You see, the Communists have sold out to the bourgeoisie. The Kuomintang would not fight against the Japanese!’ Addressing the Kuomintang, they say: ‘The National Front! It’s nothing but a ruse of the Communists. To fight the Japanese you must destroy the Communists’.

Towards the end of 1936, the politics of uniting against the Japanese triumphed in the events of Tay An. Faced with the defeat of their politics of civil war, the Trotskyists Truong Mo Dao and Ta Duy Liet decided to organise the assassination of Vuong Di Triet, one of the most convinced followers of the National Front.

Now, I am talking to you about 1937, the period that preceded the war. Everyone united to fight the Japanese except the Trotskyists. These traitors met clandestinely and adopted the ‘resolution’ of which here are some extracts: ‘In the war against the Japanese, our position is clear: those who wanted the war and have illusions about the Kuomintang government, those concretely have committed treason. The union between the Communist Party and the Kuomintang is nothing but conscious treason’. And other ignominies of this kind.

When the war approaches, the Japanese promises materialise. The Trotskyists of Shanghai receive 100,000 dollars each month for their activities in the centre and south of the country. Those of Tientsin and Peking 50,000 each month for their activities in Hoa Bac, in the north, against the 8th army and against patriotic organisations.

Towards the middle of 1937, the Trotskyists were discovered and arrested in the ‘special zone’ (Dac Khu). According to the confession of Ton Ngia Ha, they had settled on these objectives: 1. To destroy the 8th army. 2. To hinder the development of the National Front. 3. To spy 4. To organise the assassination of activists.

Before the popular tribunal of the ‘special zone’, the Trotskyist Hoang Phat Hi, amongst other confessions, declared that in the course of the fourth interview with Truong Mo Dao, the latter had given him the following instructions: ‘You must actively study the methods and the system of organisation of the Red Army. After that, you will organise brigades of youth to carry out the tasks of sabotage. Our aim is to provoke disorder within the Red Army and to liquidate its activists’. Truong Mo Dao added: ‘We must persuade a section of the cadres of the base to follow us, raise their nostalgia for their native land, encourage their desertion and furnish them with a little money. That’s one of the means of causing the disintegration of this army’.

The Trotskyist Quach Uan Kinh has sworn that Ton Ngia Ha charged him with advancing defeatist propaganda amongst the combatants by demonstrating to them that ‘China cannot win’ for ‘even if we end up driving out the Japanese, the Americans and the English will still be there to oppress us’; that ‘not only can we not win, but our land will be destroyed if we continue the war’; that ‘China is too weak to struggle against Japan, England and America at the same time’. Truong Mo Dao finished his instructions with these words: We must exploit the policies of the National Front to denounce the Communists and say that they have sold out the working class. Our aim is to foment discontent amongst the combatants’. Under the pretext of educating them, the Trotskyists organised the most backward elements of the army in small groups, then, profiting by the harsh conditions of life in the army, they encouraged them to desert with arms and ammunition. In liaison with the bandits, they created disorder behind the lines of the 8th army while it was in full combat.

This is the background of the Trotskyists in their struggle against the 8th national revolutionary army. In my next letter, I will talk to you about the ignoble methods that these traitors have employed in attempting to destroy the other anti-Japanese forces.

PC Line

Source

The Contribution of J.V. Stalin to Marxism-Leninism

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M.B. Mitin
M.D. Kammari
G.F. Aleksandrov

… The theoretical works of Comrade Stalin and the practical revolutionary-creative struggle for communism led by him has had a powerful transforming influence on science. Already the foundation of Marxism itself was a great revolution in science, and in our epoch the teachings of Marx and Engels, raised by Lenin and Stalin to a new, higher level, have become the scientific basis for the transformation of social relations, technology and nature itself.

Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin — the continuator of the immortal work of Marx and Engels, the friend and companion-in-arms of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and continuator of his works of genius — is the greatest thinker of our modern epoch, a treasure of Marxist-Leninist science. He has enriched and developed materialist dialectics — a powerful means for the scientific understanding of social sciences, he has greatly and fruitfully influenced the development of natural sciences.

The Academy of Science of the USSR marked the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the birth of Comrade Stalin with a large series of sessions of its General Council and all its sections and scientific councils of numerous institutes. In a number of lectures, in an atmosphere of general enthusiasm, the great contributions of Comrade Stalin to the development and continuation of Marxism-Leninism and the creation of a new Soviet science and technology were summarized.

On December 26, 1949, representatives of historical and philosophical disciplines filled the conference hall of the Section of History and Philosophy, the hall in which 20 years ago Comrade Stalin gave a magnificent talk to the conference of Marxist agricultural workers that enriched the treasure of Marxism-Leninism. The sessions held were part of the sessions of the Academy of Sciences devoted to the seventieth anniversary of the birthday of the beloved leader.

Eminent Soviet scientists take their places at the presidium.

For the talk on the topic “J.V. Stalin — of Marxist-Leninist Science” the podium is given to Academician M.B. Mitin.

J.V. Stalin, loyal follower of Lenin, continuator of his cause, made an invaluable contribution to the development of Leninism — the speaker says. During an earlier period of the political activity of Comrade Stalin, at the time of his stay in the Caucasus, he already showed himself to be the most stalwart and consistent follower of Lenin. Already during these years, the speaker emphasized, Comrade Stalin created a number of original works of Marxist-Leninist theory, that represented by themselves a serious contribution to Leninism. In the Leninist spirit he approached questions of ideology, tactics, organization, the theoretical and practical training of the Bolshevik party.

The significance of the theoretical works of J.V. Stalin is great. He generalized all the ideological inheritance of V.I. Lenin, gave the theoretical substantiation of Leninism. Comrade Stalin gave the classical definition of Leninism: “Leninism — he wrote — is Marxism of the era of imperialism and the proletarian revolution. To be more exact, Leninism is the theory and tactics of the proletarian revolution in general, the theory and tactics of the dictatorship of the proletariat in particular” (J.V. Stalin Problems of Leninism, Foreign Languages Press, Peking 1976, p. 3 [The Foundations of Leninism].)

In this definition Comrade Stalin emphasizes the continuous unity, integrity and progression of the teachings of Marks and Lenin. He pointed that the basis of Leninism is Marxism, that without understanding and beginning from Marxism there is no way to understand Leninism. In this way, Comrade Stalin drew attention to what is new that is connected with the name of Lenin, what Lenin contributed to the development of Marxist theory on the basis of the generalization of the new experience in the class struggle of the proletariat in the epoch of imperialism and proletarian revolution.

Comrade Stalin always emphasizes that the theoretical basis of Leninism is Marxism. It is known that relatively recently there was an attempt in our philosophical literature to “complete” this statement of J.V. Stalin with the consideration that, along with Marxism, Leninism is based on the Russian classical revolutionary-democratic philosophy of the 19th century.

No doubt the significance of the classical philosophical thinking of the19th century is great as the most advanced and most revolutionary thinking of the pre-Marxist period. However, it is completely wrong to consider Russian classical philosophy as the theoretical basis of Leninism along with Marxism. Leninism, as pointed out repeatedly by Comrade Stalin, has one theoretical basis, and this basis is Marxism.

The work of Comrade Stalin The Foundations of Leninism written in 1924, right after the death of Lenin — is an outstanding creative development of Marxist-Leninist science. A powerful force of theoretical generalization, of deep knowledge of history, runs through this whole work, there is the complete recognition of the treasure of ideas of Lenin — all this characterized the role of V.I. Lenin as the creator of Leninism, as the continuator of Marxism for a new historic era. The work of Comrade Stalin The Foundations of Leninism and a number of other works of J.V. Stalin (The October Revolution and the Tactics of the Russian Communists, Concerning Questions of Leninism, The Results of the Work the XIV Conference of the R.C.P.(B.), Questions and Answers and others) as a whole formed a united work on the question of Leninism.

Comrade Stalin showed the international significance of Leninism. He exposed sharply and straight-forwardly the attempts to distort Leninism, that attempted to restrict Leninism to the peculiar situation of Russia, that attempted to turn Leninism into a “purely Russian” phenomenon.

Comrade Stalin showed that the main thing in Leninism consists of the teachings on the dictatorship of the proletariat, that all other constituent parts of Leninism: the peasant question, the national question, the teachings on strategy and tactics… should be approached as a consequence of this main essence to which they are organically linked. In this way, Comrade Stalin emphasized the truly militant, revolutionary character of Leninism, which fights for the liquidation of capitalism and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the construction of a new society.

Comrade Stalin shows with a tremendous convincing force that Marxist theory is the guide to action, that thanks to Lenin the Bolshevik party possessed a great weapon, with which it could seize the most inaccessible fortress.

Lenin died in 1924. All the burdens due to the solution of the historical task of the construction of socialism in our country was carried out by Comrade Stalin. Under his leadership a gigantic transformation was accomplished that had no precedent in history and that radically changed the face of the country.

The epoch of Stalin is the epoch of the victory of socialism in one-sixth of the earth and the step-by-step transition from socialism to communism in the USSR. The international-historical significance of this victory is invaluable. The USSR was the first to pave the way towards socialism. The inexhaustible experience of the construction of socialism in the USSR is an example for all countries, for all fraternal communist parties.

Comrade Stalin creatively developed Leninism for this new epoch, showed the laws of this epoch, gave an answer to most complicated questions posed by revolutionary practice. Comrade Stalin enriched Marxist-Leninist theory with new statements and new directives corresponding to the new experience in the class struggle of the working class in the USSR and the whole world. What J.V. Stalin contributed to Marxist teachings is a new, higher stage in the development of Leninism. J.V. Stalin is a theorist of victorious socialism, the founder of the scientific theory of socialist society.

The victory of socialism in the USSR resulted in the creation of a new social-economic formation. The new social and state formation that has been created, developed and strengthened, displays social features specific only to this formation. Socialism has become part of the everyday life of millions of toilers. New social relations among people have emerged. The relations of production, i.e. the relations among people engaged in the social process of production, are built on the basis of the comradely co-operation and socialist mutual assistance. A new man of the socialist epoch has been formed.

J.V. Stalin made an all-sided analysis of the socialist mode of production, which is a superior mode of production to capitalism. He made the analysis of the radical difference between socialism and capitalism, the characteristics of the superiority of this mode of production as a higher stage, a more progressive social system that any former one, as a higher type of social organization of labor. J.V. Stalin thoroughly investigated the laws of this new formation.

Following V.I. Lenin’s indications, Comrade Stalin developed a rigorous, scientific, theoretical and practical program for the socialist industrialization of our country. The socialist method of industrialization, he pointed out, is radically different from methods of industrialization in capitalist countries. Capitalist countries accomplished their industrialization by a ruthless exploitation of the toilers, the plundering of colonies, by means of conquests, plundering, burdensome loans. Capitalist industrialization resulted in the impoverishment of the toiling masses, the enlarging of the reserve army of labor and the formation of a huge mass of unemployed. It resulted in the sharpening of the economic crisis of capitalism, in mass misery and suffering for the toiling masses. The Soviet method of industrialization is based on the domination of social property over the instruments and means of production, on the internal sources of socialist accumulation for the development of industry. Following V.I. Lenin’s considerations, Comrade Stalin worked out in theory and put into effect in practice a rigorous plan for the collectivization of agriculture. This was one of the most complicated tasks of the socialist revolution; nevertheless Soviet power successfully accomplished this task. As a result, in the Soviet village a revolution occurred whose significance, as pointed out by Comrade Stalin, can be compared to that of the October 1917 Revolution. Comrade Stalin created the theory of the collectivization of the countryside, he is the founder of the kolkhoz system.

On the basis of the collectivization of the countryside the former exploiting class in our country — the kulaks — were liquidated. All these social changes produced the conditions for the victory of socialism in all spheres of the economy of the USSR.

The victory of socialism in our country was established from the legal point of view with the adoption of the Constitution of the USSR of 1936. The Soviet Union entered a new period of development. Then de facto the question of the construction of communism was raised, the step-by-step transition from socialism to communism. In connection with the victory of socialism in the USSR new aspects and features of the new social formation were brought out. J.V. Stalin’s historical contribution is based on the discovery of the laws of socialist society, on the deep theoretical generalization of this new epoch, on the concretization and development of Leninism on the question of the state, classes, labor, the driving forces, nations in socialism and communism.

In the Report to the XVIII Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B.) (March 1939) on the question of the state, Comrade Stalin stated: “We cannot expect the Marxist classics, separated as they were from our day by a period of 45 or 55 years, to have foreseen each and every zigzag of history in the distant future and in every separate country. It would be ridiculous to expect the Marxist classics to have elaborated for our benefit ready-made solutions for each and every theoretical problem that might arise in a particular country 50 or 100 years afterwards, so that we, the descendants of the Marxist classics, might calmly doze at the fireside and munch ready-made solutions.” (J.V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, Foreign Languages Press, Peking 1976, p. 931.)

Stalin’s statements regarding the possibility of the construction of communism in our country, regarding the preservation of the state in the period of communism in the case of capitalist encirclement, enriched Leninism with a new theoretical weapon, they gave to the Bolshevik party, to the working class, to all toilers of the Soviet country a great perspective, clarity of goals and inspired new achievements. They clarified with a powerful driving force, the subsequent development of the Soviet country, towards the heights of the new social formation. Comrade Stalin continued the work of Lenin on the question of the state which the latter could not conclude due to his early death.

J.V. Stalin first of all developed the complete characteristics of the classes of socialist society in the USSR. The essence of his explanations of the class content of socialist society may be summarized as follows:

a) The consolidation of socialism in the USSR implied the complete liquidation of all exploiting classes and strata in our country.

b) The victory of the October Revolution and the consolidation of socialism in the USSR resulted in a change in the social nature of the working class, peasantry and intelligentsia.

The social groups in Soviet society experienced radical changes: “…the working class of the USSR is an entirely new working class, a working class emancipated from exploitation, the like of which the history of mankind has never known before” (ibid., p. 801 [On the Draft Constitution of the U.S.S.R.]). Also “… the Soviet peasantry is an entirely new peasantry, the like of which the history of mankind has never known before” (ibid., p. 802).

c) Soviet socialist society consist of two classes — workers and peasants; the intelligentsia is a social stratum but not a separate class; the workers, peasants and laboring intelligentsia have equal rights in all spheres of the economic, political, social and cultural life of the country.

d) In the future, when all class differences will be overcome, the workers, peasants and intelligentsia will become the laborers of the communist society. In this way, on the basis of the generalization of the experience of Soviet socialist society, J.V. Stalin established that under socialism, as the first phase of communism, classes still exist, certain class differences among them are still preserved, that these classes have a new, socialist nature, but that only in the highest stage of communism will these class differences disappear.

These theoretical considerations were embodied in the Constitution of the USSR; they are a step forward in the development of the theory of Leninism, they enrich Leninism with new theoretical values. The existence of two classes under socialism, the existence of substantial class differences between them, are based on the existence under socialism of two forms of socialist property. Formerly it was more or less accepted that under socialism just one form of property would exist based on the socialized instruments and means of production. This question could not be posed in a more definite way since the required conditions did not exist. J.V. Stalin developed and concretized the teachings of Marx, Engels and Lenin on socialism, established that under socialist property may exist in two forms: the form of the consistently-socialist, state property, which is the whole people’s property, and in the form of cooperative-kolkhoz property, the property of the collective producers.

The thesis of the two forms of socialist property under socialism was substantiated by Comrade Stalin. He elaborated the question of the socialist nature of the kolkhozes, the question of the forms of development and consolidation of the kolkhoz. All these form an eminent contribution to Marxist-Leninist science, which make it possible to expound the laws of development of socialist society.

J.V. Stalin concretized the Leninist teaching on the question of work under socialism and communism. Regarding this question, the main thesis could be summarized as follows:

1. Socialism and work cannot be isolated from each other; the socialist formation is first of all a formation that has no loafers or parasites, where the famous Leninist thesis: “he who does not work, neither shall he eat,” that work is an obligation of all toilers, were put into effect. “Socialism — said Comrade Stalin – does not in the least repudiate work. On the contrary, socialism is based on work. Socialism and work are inseparable from each other.” (J.V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, p. 663. [Speech Delivered at the First All-Union Congress of Collective-Farm Shock Brigaders.])

2. Under socialism work becomes an affair of popular honor and glory, it has a directly social character: the worker is honored, is a sort of social figure, society pays attention to him and he receives from society a great moral and material reward for work well-done.

3. Developing the famous consideration of Marx, Engels and Lenin on the question of socialism and communism, Comrade Stalin gave the following definition of these two stages of the new social formation. He pointed out that by equality Marxism understands:

“…c) the equal duty of all to work according to their ability, and the equal right of all working people to receive in return for this according to the work performed (socialist society); d) the equal duty of all to work according to their ability, and the equal right of all working people to receive in return for this according to their needs (communist society). Moreover, Marxism proceeds from the assumption that people’s tastes and requirements are not, and cannot be, identical and equal in regard to quality or quantity, whether in the period of socialism or in the period of communism.” (J.V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, p. 741-742. [Report to the XVIIth Party Congress.])

The positions of Comrade Stalin are a development of the Marxist-Leninist teachings on socialism and communism. We have here a more concrete formulation of the main principles of socialism and communism based on the practical experience of the construction of socialism in the USSR.

J.V. Stalin, developing the Leninist ideas on socialism, and based on the victorious construction and consolidation of socialism in the USSR, discovered the new driving forces of socialist society that were unknown before and were absent in previous social-economic formations, namely: the moral-patriotic unity of the peoples of the USSR, Soviet patriotism.

Comrade Stalin discovered the driving forces of the development of the socialist society, which is a discovery of fundamental significance for Marxist-Leninist science. Comrade Stalin brought out new forms of social development, new stimulation for the development of socialist society. J.V. Stalin also discovered the special role played by self-criticism in the development of the Soviet country. Comrade Stalin’s positions are well-known, that we need self-criticism as much as we need air and water.

The all-sided explanation of the significance of self-criticism, its tremendous role, the extent to which the party requires self-criticism as a means of proper leadership of the country, its significance as an objective law in the development of the socialist society — these are all serious steps forward in the development of the Marxist-Leninist teachings of socialism.

In the works of Marx and Engels the national question is considered in the era of pre-monopoly capitalism. The national-liberation movement was studied in a number of countries: Ireland, Poland, Hungary, India and China.

Lenin, based on the main ideas of Marx and Engels, developed the views of the founders of Marxism with regard to the national question, created the teaching of the national question in the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution. Lenin substantiated and proved that the national question is a part of the general question of the proletarian revolution, of the question of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Lenin created a solid system of views on the question of the national-colonial revolutions in the era of imperialism. He linked up the national-colonial question with the question of the overthrow of imperialism.

The contribution of Stalin in the subsequent development of the Marxist-Leninist teachings on the national question is specially great. J.V. Stalin is the creator of the theory and the Bolshevik program of the national question. J.V. Stalin elaborated the Marxist theory of nations, the question of the origin of the nation, the peculiarities of the development of nations in Western Europe and in the East. He formulated the basics of the Bolshevik approach to the solution of the national question, substantiated the Bolshevik principle of the international unity of the workers.

By developing the theory of socialist society, the basis of the teachings of the Soviet socialist state, Comrade Stalin produced a scientific substantiation of the main problems and questions connected with the construction of the multinational Soviet state. The Soviet Union is for the whole world an example of brotherhood of peoples never before seen in history. The friendship of the peoples of the Soviet country has become one of the sources of the strength of our state, one of the sources of Soviet patriotism.

In the report delivered on the 27th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, Comrade Stalin gave the classical definition of the essence and strength of Soviet patriotism: “The strength of Soviet patriotism — said Comrade Stalin — lies in the fact that it is based not on racial or nationalist prejudices, but on the people’s profound loyalty and devotion to their Soviet Motherland, on the fraternal partnership of the working people of all the nationalities in our country. Soviet patriotism harmoniously combines the national traditions of the peoples and the common vital interests of all the working people of the Soviet Union.” (J.V. Stalin, On the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union [also in Works, Red Star Press, London, 1984, Vol. 15, p. 422-423].)

J.V. Stalin further developed the Leninist theory of the national question with respect to Soviet socialist society. He elaborated a very relevant thesis that determines the development of the culture of the peoples of the USSR. This thesis reads: the development of the culture of the peoples of the USSR is national in form but socialist in content.

Comrade Stalin points out that the slogan of national culture was a bourgeois slogan as long as power remained in the hands of the bourgeoisie, and the consolidation of the nation took place under the leadership of the bourgeoisie. The slogan of national culture, national in form and socialist in content, became a proletarian slogan when the proletariat achieved power, and the consolidation of the nation began to develop under Soviet power. “In point of fact – wrote Comrade Stalin – the period of the dictatorship of the proletariat and of the building of socialism in the U.S.S.R. is a period of the flowering of national cultures that are socialist in content and national in form; for, under the Soviet system, the nations themselves are not the ordinary ‘modern’ nations, but socialist nations, just as in content their national cultures are not the ordinary bourgeois cultures, but socialist cultures.” (J.V. Stalin, Works, Vol. 12, p. 379. [Report to the XVI Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B.)])

This thesis has a fundamental significance and determined a whole program for the practical work in our national republics, a program based on solid ground.

In his article “The National Question and Leninism” (1929) and in the Political Report to the XVI Congress of the Party (1930) J.V. Stalin put forward new and most important positions about bourgeois nations and socialist nations. Formerly socialism was conceived in a very general manner, as the system that leads to the abolition of the nation. J.V. Stalin showed that socialism does not lead to the abolition of nations, but only to the abolition of bourgeois nations. He showed that based on the ruins of the old, bourgeois nations appear new, socialist nations that are far more solid and stable than any bourgeois nation, since they are free from antagonistic class contradictions. The statement of J.V. Stalin that in history there exist two types of nations – bourgeois and socialist, that bourgeois nations are linked to the fate of capitalism and that they should disappear with the collapse of capitalism, while the appearance of socialism leads to the creation on the basis of the old nations of new, socialist nations – these statements are a new, great contribution to the development of the Marxist-Leninist teachings on the national question, to the development of the teaching on socialism.

The huge and inexhaustible experience of the development of the Soviet multinational state, the development of Soviet nations was scientifically generalized by J.V. Stalin. What was given by him in the course of the elaboration of the question of bourgeois and socialist nations – is a new page in the Marxist-Leninist theory of the national question. In this respect J.V. Stalin also studied the question of the future of nations and national languages.

J.V. Stalin, a great representative of creative Marxism, is a continuator of the best qualities, features and traditions of V.I. Lenin. As is well known, from his very earliest works Lenin never failed to emphasize that a real Marxist should be able to take account of real life. Lenin reiterated many times the famous thesis of Marx and Engels, that “our teaching is not a dogma but a guide to action.”

J.V. Stalin developed further, elevated to a new, higher stage the teaching of dialectical and historical materialism. His work “Dialectical and Historical Materialism” represents one of the most eminent works of Marxist-Leninist philosophy. It stands together with such works of the classics of Marxism-Leninism as Marx’s “Capital,” Engel’s “Anti-Dühring” and Lenin’s “Materialism and Empirio-Criticism.” In this genius work the bases of dialectical and historical materialism are given in an extremely concise and compact way. Comrade Stalin made in this work a generalization of the contributions of Marx, Engels and Lenin on the teaching of the dialectical method and the materialist theory. He developed all this on the basis of the newest results of science and revolutionary practice.

J.V. Stalin is a great leader of the peoples of the USSR and the working people of the whole world, a coryphaeus of Marxist-Leninist science. He combines within himself colossal theoretical power and tremendous experience in leadership. J.V. Stalin is the leader of the CPSU(B) and the Soviet state. The power of the Stalinist leadership is based on mobilizing and inspiring directions, that are always aimed at what is most important, most relevant, most necessary for the fruitful and successful solution of the tasks that confront the working masses. The power of the Stalinist leadership is based on the brilliant dialectical analysis of phenomena, on the capability of considering facts and events in their development, in their interrelation, in their contradiction. Its power is the genius capability of looking forward into the future, in foreseeing the development and calling for the necessary actions. The power of the Stalinist leadership consists of a tough critique of the shortcomings, of helping those that lag behind, of assisting all that is new, progressive and capable of pushing a positive development in the decisive breakdown of the old, obsolete, that has become a brake on development. The power of the Stalinist leadership is based on the deepest Leninist faith in the creative and inexhaustible power of the popular masses.

…Prof. M.D. Kammari delivered a paper on the development of the Marxist-Leninist theory on the national question by Stalin.

The name of Stalin, a genius continuator of the great teaching and work of Lenin, is linked – said the speaker – to the solution of one of the most important questions of the socialist revolution. This question as well as others was elaborated by Stalin in close co-operation with Lenin.

Lenin and Stalin in their approach to the national question started off from the main ideas drawn by Marx and Engels. Lenin and Stalin developed these ideas in the era of imperialism and the proletarian revolution, in the era of the construction of communism in the USSR; they merged and generalized these ideas into a solid system of views on the national-colonial revolutions, linked the national-colonial question with the question of the liquidation of imperialism, they explained the significance of the national-colonial question as a constituent part of the general question of the proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The works of J.V. Stalin give an all-sided scientific substantiation of the program and the policy of the Bolshevik party with respect to the national question and they are a directive for all communist parties: they are like a shining candle that sheds light on the path of the peoples of the colonies and dependent countries towards freedom and independence.

From the very first steps of his revolutionary career, J.V. Stalin together with V.I. Lenin defended and developed the idea of the hegemony of the proletariat in the revolution, the principle of proletarian internationalism in the construction of Russian Social-Democracy against the Bundists, Caucasian federalists and nationalists, who disguised themselves with socialist phrases.

In his work The Social-Democratic View of the National Question (September, 1904), J.V. Stalin made a remarkable contribution to the national program of the RSDLP.

Already in this period J.V. Stalin proved himself a leading theoretician of the national question. He mastered the Marxist dialectical method and gave an exceptionally deep, dialectical, classical, proletarian organization and solution to the national question. In this work lies the embryo of the ideas subsequently developed by Comrade Stalin in his classical work Marxism and the National Question (January, 1913), written on the eve of the First World War, when nationalist feelings in the working class were strengthened and fostered by the social-chauvinist parties of the Second International, the Bundists, Liquidators and Trotskyites in Russia. The work of J.V. Stalin the became a major statement of Bolshevism internationally before the war of 1914. This was a theoretical statement and the Bolshevik program regarding the national question as well. In his work, two theories, two methods, two programs, two ways of thinking regarding the national question are opposed to each other: that of the parties of the Second International and that of Leninism.

Comrade Stalin elaborated here the foundation of the Bolshevik approach to the national question: the requirement of considering the national question from the concrete historical, dialectical standpoint, in a discontinuous interconnection with the international situation corresponding to the era of imperialism, as a part of the general question of the revolution. Stalin substantiated the programmatic slogan of the party on the right of nations to self-determination and the principle of the international solidarity of workers as a required starting point for the solution of the national question.

By founding the Marxist theory of the nation, J.V. Stalin laid a solid theoretical basis for the program and the policy of the Bolshevik party regarding the national question, he created an invincible weapon for the struggle of Marxism-Leninism against any variety of the ideology and politics of bourgeois nationalism.

J.V. Stalin foresaw the future by linking up the solution of the national question with the growth of imperialism in Europe and the inevitability of the growth of democracy in Asia, with impending imperialist wars and the “complications” created by them, i.e. crises and revolutions.

This prediction of Comrade Stalin was completely borne out in the period of the First World War and especially in the period of the Great October Revolution.

J.V. Stalin points out two stages in the elaboration of the national question by the Bolshevik party: the pre-October stage, when the national question had not yet become an international question and was associated with the solution of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, and the October stage, when the national question became an international question, when it merged with the question of the liberation of the colonies and became associated with the fate of the socialist revolution. These positions of Stalin together with his positions on the three periods in the history of the national-liberation movements — the period of pre-monopoly capitalism, the period of imperialism and the Soviet period — have an invaluable significance for the policies of the communist parties and for historical science as well. The victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution opened a new, Soviet stage in the solution of the national question and in the development of Marxism-Leninism in general. The October Revolution, as pointed out by Stalin, gave birth to a new era in the history of humankind, a new era in the history of the oppressed nations. The era of exploitation “without revolt” in the colonies is over, a new era has commenced, the era of the leadership of the proletariat and in the colonies, the era of its hegemony in the revolution.

J.V. Stalin made an all-sided elaboration of the question of the alliance of the proletarian revolution with the national-liberation movements of the peoples of the colonies and dependent countries, the question of the strategy and tactics of the communist parties, the idea of the hegemony of the proletariat in these movements; he substantiated and further developed Lenin’s statement on the possibility of the transition of backward countries to socialism, skipping capitalism under the conditions of the support from proletarian revolutions in the developed countries. These ideas have become a great, transforming, creative revolutionary power capable of raising hundreds of millions of people to the struggle for their liberation.

The hegemony of the proletariat is new and decisive in the national-liberation movements, which gives these movements consciousness, organization, stability, an invincible power which leads to their victory over imperialism.

J.V. Stalin constantly emphasizes that the existence the Soviet Union is a decisive factor that facilitates and guarantees the success and final victory of all national-liberation movements of the peoples of the dependent countries and colonies, since the very existence of such a state constrains the dark forces of reaction, its successes inspire the oppressed peoples in the struggle for their liberation, facilitates this liberation. The liberation of the peoples of the countries of peoples’ democracies in Europe and Asia bears witness of the greatness of the liberating role of the Soviet Union, as the liberator of peoples from the yoke of imperialism.

Comrade Stalin brilliantly foresaw that China would follow the path of the anti-imperialist popular revolution towards the creation of an anti-imperialist, popular power which would lead China to the socialist path of development. The creation of the People’s Republic of China implies a new powerful blow against the whole colonial system of imperialism, which is undergoing a profound crisis, it elevates to a higher stage the struggle of the peoples of Asia and the whole colonial world in general. This victory implies a serious strengthening of the forces of peace, socialism and democracy, led by the USSR.

J.V. Stalin shows that the national question is posed and solved in Leninism differently as it was in the period of the Second International. J.V. Stalin points to the existence of four main elements in the Leninist theory of the national question:

“The first point is the merging of the national question, as a part, with the general question of the liberation of the colonies, as a whole…

The second point is that the vague slogan of the right of nations to self-determination has been replaced by the clear revolutionary slogan of the right of nations and colonies to secede, to form independent states…

The third point is the disclosure of the organic connection between the national and colonial question and the question of the rule of capital, of overthrowing capitalism, of the dictatorship of the proletariat…

The fourth point is that a new element has been introduced into the national question — the element of the actual (and not merely juridical) equalisation of nations (help and co-operation for the backward nations in raising themselves to the cultural and economic level of the more advanced nations), as one of the conditions necessary for securing fraternal co-operation between the labouring masses of the various nations.” (J.V. Stalin, Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1953, Vol. 5, pp. 52-60. [From Concerning the Presentation of the National Question.])

J.V. Stalin developed the Leninist thesis about the two tendencies in capitalism with regard to the national question: the tendency towards the formation of nations and national states and the tendency towards the “unification” of nations under the power of financial capital. J.V. Stalin argues that these tendencies are irreconcilable contradictions for imperialism since imperialism cannot “unite” without exploiting a nation. The struggle between these two tendencies enriches the analysis of capitalism in the period of imperialism and this contradiction is one of the sources of its structural weakness, internal instability, of the collapse of multinational bourgeois states, of the collapse and bankruptcy of the policies of the bourgeoisie with regard to the national question. The bankruptcy of the policies of German, Japanese, and after them Anglo-American imperialism in the colonies and the dependent, “Marshalized” countries, is a brilliant confirmation of the strength and significance of the Leninist theses.

For communism these two tendencies, emphasizes J.V. Stalin, are two sides of the same question: the liberation of the oppressed nations from the yoke of imperialism and their unification into a unified socialist world economy voluntarily and on the basis of total equality. Stalin together with Lenin created and strengthened the multinational socialist state, put into practice the national policy of the Soviet power, defined the paths and forms leading to the formation of a fraternal commonwealth of nations on the basis of the Soviet system, under the leadership of the working class and its party, defined the path for the formation and development of socialist nations and their culture.

Comrade Stalin brilliantly solved the complicated and intricate questions of relations between nations, accomplished a gigantic practical work in the foundation of the national Soviet republics and their unification into the USSR.

There is no single Soviet republic in whose formation and consolidation Stalin did not take a decisive and leading part.

J.V. Stalin brilliantly generalized the masses’ revolutionary experience in the construction of the Soviet state. He posed the question of the federation, developed the most convenient forms of unification of Soviet republics into a unified state. He showed the superiority of the Soviet federation compared to bourgeois federations.

Soviet power established the complete political and legal equality of nations and liquidated national oppression. This achievement of the party and Soviet power has historic and world-wide significance. But this is not enough, J.V. Stalin pointed out. “The essence of the national question in the R.S.F.S.R. — said J.V. Stalin at the X Congress of the R.C.P.(B.) — lies in abolishing the actual backwardness (economic, political and cultural) that some of the nations have inherited from the past, to make it possible for the backward peoples to catch up with central Russia in political, cultural and economic respects.” (J.V. Stalin,Works, Vol. 5, p. 39.)

This great historical task was accomplished by the party under the leadership of Stalin on the basis of the Leninist-Stalinist national policy, on the basis of the policy of industrialization and collectivization, the liquidation of the exploiting classes, the construction of socialism. The history of socialism and the social conquests of the peoples of the USSR was established in the Stalin Constitution. The great Stalin Constitution of the USSR declares that all nations and races, regardless of their past and present stage of development, regardless of their strength or weakness, should be entitled to equal rights in all spheres of the social life. The Soviet Constitution prosecutes any expression of the propaganda of national hostility as a severe offence against the pillars of the Soviet state. In Soviet society there are no privileged, oppressed, unequal nations or races. It is not national origin but individual capabilities, individual labor, that determine the place of a citizen in Soviet society. Comrade Stalin showed that on the basis of the Soviet system there were created and consolidated new Soviet, socialist nations which, according to their class structure, spiritual attributes, their socio-political orientation, radically differ from the old bourgeois nations.

Soviet nations are socialist nations, liberated from exploitation, from class antagonism with new Soviet, socialist moral and political characteristics, psychological types, consisting of fraternal classes, the working class, peasantry and intelligentsia, whose class boundaries are disappearing. These are nations that are building communism, freed from the remnants of capitalism, that are coming together and jointly constructing communism by means of all-sided socialist competition and fraternal co-operation.

The great commonwealth of socialist nations was created under the leadership of the Bolshevik party, under the leadership of the Russian working class, thanks to the correct, Leninist-Stalinist national policy, of disinterested assistance to formerly oppressed nations and considerate stand towards the particularities of their mode of life and culture. Thanks particularly to the accomplishment of this policy, the Russian working class and Russian people won the trust and support of all peoples of the USSR and all progressive peoples of the world. Comrade Stalin developed and raised to a higher stage the ideology of proletarian internationalism, the friendship of peoples, he showed that the source of friendship of the peoples of the USSR is the Soviet, socialist system, the internationalist policies of the working class, its party and state.

As a result of the accomplishment of this policy and the construction of socialism, the friendship of the peoples of the USSR has flourished, new relations of trust and fraternal co-operation have been established between them.

The multinational socialist state has survived a great test during the Great Patriotic war against the fascist invaders, under which any other state would have collapsed. There is no other state that could have emerged more strengthened and with the friendship of its people more consolidated than the Soviet state; Soviet patriotism, the friendship of peoples, the moral-political unity are powerful driving forces of Soviet society. Comrade Stalin generalized the experience of the war by stating that in the Soviet state the “national question and the problem of the co-operation of nations has been solved better than in any other multinational state” (Bolshevik, No. 3, 1946, p. 4. Translated from the Russian). The Soviet system gave to the peoples of the USSR a unique power. The works of J.V. Stalin have served and now serve our party and all fraternal communist parties as a weapon in their struggle against bourgeois nationalists, against the nationalist-fascist Tito clique, against right socialists and similar agents of Anglo-American imperialism, the speaker emphasizes.

The theory of culture as national in form and socialist in content has great significance in the struggle against nationalism, for the education of the working people in the spirit of internationalism, for the friendship of peoples, and makes possible the flourishing of the national cultures of the peoples of the USSR.

Comrade Stalin exposed the chauvinist theory of Kautsky, according to which the proletariat having come to power should take the path of assimilation. Comrade Stalin generalized the experience of the socialist revolution in the USSR and stated that it revived many new nationalities that were formerly “forgotten,” it “gave them new life and a new development.” Comrade Stalin foresaw that the same thing would happen in other multinational countries; as a result of a revolution in countries such as India, “scores of hitherto unknown nationalities, having their own separate languages and separate cultures, will appear on the scene.” (J.V. Stalin, Works, Vol. 7, p. 141. [The Political Tasks of the University of the Peoples of the East.])

These statements of J.V. Stalin expose and overturn different bourgeois-cosmopolitan theories of the modern Anglo-American imperialists, who carry out a policy of forcible assimilation, swallowing all nations and races by the “superior” Anglo-American race. J.V. Stalin’s prediction in his work The National Question and Leninism regarding the preservation of nations, national languages and cultures, have great theoretical and political significance. Comrade Stalin, the speaker points out, gave a clear perspective of the development of socialist nations, national languages and cultures, both in the period of the victory of socialism in our country and in the period of the victory of socialism in other countries and in the whole world. Here with unique strength Stalin’s scientific predictions manifest themselves as dialectical-materialist, showing him to be a great theorist of creative Marxism. These statements of Stalin have a leading significance for all social sciences, for philosophy, the science of the state, law, language, the theory of literature, art and culture in general, as well as for the practice of the communist parties in all countries of the world, especially concerning the national question.

In the USSR under the leadership of the party of Lenin-Stalin a great cultural revolution is being carried out, which has involved all tribes and peoples of our country in the process of conscious historical creation. Gigantic efforts are being made to develop the national cultures and languages, an experience that has world-wide historical, scientific and practical significance. The great socialist revolution opened a new era in history, created a completely new world of social relations among people, nations, races, a new world of concepts, ideas, feelings, features that forced the creation of new words, enriched and developed the national languages. It is not surprising that the languages of the peoples of the USSR, both ancient and modern, those less developed or more developed, are now being filled with new forms, are undergoing a revolution, they experience leaps to qualitatively different states. As for culture and languages the struggle of socialism against reactionary bourgeois-nationalist, feudal-clerical and other similar tendencies and elements comes to a victorious end with the victory of socialism, with the victory of the principles of socialist internationalism, the Leninist-Stalinist national policy.

Comrade Stalin teaches that “every nation — no matter how large or small it might be – possesses its own peculiarities, its own specific features that only belong to that nation and not to any other nation. These peculiarities are a contribution of each nation to the treasure of world culture, which makes the latter more complete and rich. In this respect all nations — both small and large — are entitled to equal rights and all nations are different from each other.” (J.V. Stalin, Bolshevik, No. 7, 1948, p. 2. Trans. from the Russian). Comrade Stalin teaches that internationalism in culture implies respect for the cultural creativity of all peoples, not the suppression of national cultures, but assistance to their development.

That is why, points out M.D. Kammari, it is completely logical that it has been particularly the peoples of the USSR, educated by the party of Lenin-Stalin in the spirit of socialism, proletarian internationalism and friendship of the peoples, who saved world civilization from the fascist invaders and at the present time lead the camp of socialism and democracy, stand in the leadership of the struggle for socialism, democracy and democratic peace in the world.

The works of J.V. Stalin are a weapon in the struggle against all kinds of anti-patriotic, cosmopolitan ideologies and phraseologies in the service of Anglo-American imperialism. The works of Comrade Stalin are an irreplaceable weapon in the struggle with all kinds of nationalism, racism, imperialist ideology and policies.

The name of J.V. Stalin — the genius follower of the great teachings of Marx, Engels and Lenin — has become a symbol and a banner of the liberation of peoples from the yoke of imperialism, the banner of proletarian internationalism. The great ideas of Leninist-Stalinist friendship and brotherhood of peoples that stand for a new world, concludes Professor Kammari, are currently inspiring hundreds of millions of people in all parts of the planet in the struggle for their liberation.

… Academician G.F. Aleksandrov gave a talk on the topic “The Struggle of J.V. Stalin for Militant Marxist-Leninist Philosophy.” The speaker began his talk by reminding the audience that J.V. Stalin from the very beginning, as a pupil and companion-in-arms of V.I. Lenin, stood firmly for the struggle for the elevation of the working class, for its socialist education and political organization. Comrade Stalin gave an all-sided substantiation of the idea of the role of revolutionary theory in the workers’ movement. Lenin’s and Stalin’s statement on the merging of the struggle of the working class with scientific socialism has special significance. The workers set out to construct a new world, communism. History has never provided an example of such construction. Unlike capitalism, socialist society cannot move forward spontaneously; it is formed, built and created consciously, according to a plan. The science of socialism and communism has a particularly important significance for the struggle of the working class. It was not in vain that the Bolshevik party, Lenin and Stalin, both before and after the Great October Revolution, strengthened the fervent agitation of Bolshevik ideals among the masses. It is not a coincidence that this task had been confronted for the past third of the century in the Soviet epoch. It would not be impossible to reach communism if the working class, the laboring peasantry, the intelligentsia, the popular masses, did not know the goals of this construction and the path towards its successful accomplishment. This is why the struggle of the party for the communist education of the Soviet people has acquired such significance in the epoch of the step-by-step transition to communism.

Comrade Stalin established a continuous link between the content and tasks of militant revolutionary theory and the situation and state of the working class. Marxism-Leninism is substantiated and developed by the working class, as the class ideology of the proletarian masses, of the communist party. The Leninist idea on the expression of the line and class struggle within the party played the most important role in the process of creating a party of a new type, in the class education of the Russian and international proletariat. This idea was adopted and developed by Stalin.

Already in his article The Class Struggle, written in 1906, Comrade Stalin expounded the question of the historical necessity of the construction of the proletarian party, its role in the political struggle of the proletarian masses, its ideological leadership in this struggle.

The Leninist-Stalinist party oriented and inspired the workers’ revolutionary movement, raised its political, class level and the militant character of its struggle against the bourgeoisie, against imperialism; one can say that the communist party saved the workers’ movement from bourgeois domination, from its division by the activity of the intelligence services of the bourgeoisie.

Comrade Stalin put forward and substantiated the tremendous significance of the implementation of the teachings of dialectical and historical materialism in the political struggle of the working class, in the practical activity of its party. Comrade Stalin gave an all-sided development and scientific substantiation to this deepest consideration that “mastering the Marxist-Leninist theory means assimilating the substance of this theory and learning to use it in the solution of the practical problems of the revolutionary movement under the varying conditions of the class struggle of the proletariat” (History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), Short Course, p. 355.) Dialectical and historical materialism, therefore, requires a deep and exact study of the contemporary conditions of the class struggle, the implementation in practice of the materialist analysis of the political activity, the position of all classes involved in the class struggle. Lenin and Stalin defined struggle, the development of opposites, contradictions, as the essence of Marxist philosophy. They demanded that revolutionaries expose the main contradictions in society with a dialectical and materialist approach to the analysis of the perspective for the development of the struggle between these opposites, that they engage in an unconditional and purposeful struggle for the fastest and complete victory of the revolutionary class, the proletariat.

It becomes clear from here, continues Academician G.F. Aleksandrov, that the ideology of a communist party, its philosophical science, serves one goal — the ideology of the proletariat in its class struggle against capitalism, for communism, for the scientific substantiation of the policies, the revolutionary tactics and strategy of the party. This is the essence of the ideology of the Leninist-Stalinist party. If the ideology of the bourgeoisie, its philosophical-historical system, collapses under the merciless blows of the practice of the class struggle, the development of natural sciences, if they burst, in the words of Great Lenin, like soap bubbles, then this is a result of the very fate of the bourgeoisie, the irreversible collapse of its social and state system.

If the ideology of the proletariat, its philosophical basis, dialectical and historical materialism — in every single experience in the class struggle, in every single step forward, in the development of natural sciences found a proof of its principles, enlarged its influence on the working class and dealt powerful blows to the ideology of the bourgeoisie, then this is a reflection of the historical fate of the working class, of its great role as the gravedigger of capitalism, as the builder of communism.

In the defeat and collapse of bourgeois ideology, in the victories and triumphs of Marxist-Leninist philosophy is clearly seen the irreversible result to which the modern class struggle leads: the victory of the proletariat of all countries over the bourgeoisie, of the socialist camp over the capitalist camp.

Lenin and Stalin raised high the banner of militant Marxism in the party, gave an all-sided substantiation and developed the genius view of Marx and Engels on the irreconcilable struggle between proletarian and bourgeois ideology, as a law of class struggle. They were guided by this view throughout their revolutionary experience.

J.V. Stalin gave the deepest Marxist-Leninist analysis of the modern class struggle by showing that the struggle of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie had become an axis around which modern life turns. He also showed that the current struggle between dialectical materialism and idealist obscurantism comprises the ideological form of that very same class struggle of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Bourgeois ideologists and philosophers, defeated by Marxism, always resort to cunning manoeuvering. They try to conceal the disgusting bourgeois essence of their thinking by pretending that they stand above classes, parties and ideologies. They pretend that they represent a “third force,” that stands above the class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Lenin and Stalin proved that in the struggle between modern classes, in the struggle between two camps — the socialist camp and the imperialist camp — there is no room for a “third force.” This so-called “third force” always stood and stands now on the side of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat.

Lenin and Stalin teach that in a class society there is no room for an ideology, a philosophy that stands above classes. Lenin and Stalin put forward this question in a clear and exact manner — there is no “third,” “middle” line in philosophy: either the revolutionary materialist thinking of the proletariat, or the religious-mystical narcotic of the imperialists. There is no middle road here. The defence of objectivism is a class expression, the expression of bourgeois ideology.

By means of his genius materialist analysis of the modern class struggle, his fearless exposure of the deepest contradictions of the modern epoch, the scientific elaboration of the paths and ways of achieving victory for the international working class over imperialism, Comrade Stalin gives a classical example of how Marxist-Leninist philosophy should be understood and applied.

Every passing day confirms the genius Stalinist analysis of the modern epoch. This is how materialism — the philosophy of the Marxist-Leninist party — triumphs and idealism — the ideology of the imperialist bourgeoisie — finally collapses. The Stalinist conclusion on the inevitability of the collapse of imperialism and the undoubted victory of the proletariat is based on the creative application of dialectical and historical materialism in the analysis of the phenomena of modern social life, of the modern class struggle. Stalinist analysis ideologically arms the camp of peace, democracy and socialism, gives a scientific substantiation to the struggle waged by this camp.

Comrade Stalin teaches that Marxism-Leninism is not a dogma, but a guide to action. The party of the working class, says Comrade Stalin, is “not a school of philosophy or a religious sect. Is not our Party a fighting party?” (J.V. Stalin, Works, Vol. 1, p. 66. [The Proletarian Class and the Proletarian Party.])

Dialectical materialism requires a clear materialist analysis of reality, a struggle that can accomplish scientifically determined tasks that breaks down the obstacles posed by practice in the course of the struggle of the working class. Marxists translate the center of gravity to the application in life of the ideas of scientific communism. In this light, with the Marxists of the Leninist-Stalinist school “there is no discrepancy between word and deed… the teachings of Marx completely retain their living, revolutionary force.” (J.V. Stalin, Works, Vol. 4, p. 318.) It is necessary to emphasize and always remember — the speaker says — that the Leninist-Stalinist philosophical science does not only imply that revolutionaries are bound to act with decision, to struggle with passion, but to act in struggle based on a deep knowledge of the laws of development of society. We owe to Comrade Stalin the great achievement of the total defeat of bourgeois ideology that denies the necessity for historical development, the achievement of the exposure of all advantages of the deep scientific knowledge of the laws of development of society for the proletarian masses and their communist parties. He showed that by mastering the laws of development of society one can lead the working class with confidence, one can see more than the proletarian class as a whole. This is the point, argues Comrade Stalin. “The ideologists push forward, and it is precisely for this reason that the idea, socialist consciousness, is of such great importance for the movement.” (J.V. Stalin, Works, Vol. 1, p. 120. [Briefly About the Disagreements in the Party.]) The knowledge of the laws of development has a tremendous significance for the class struggle of the proletarian masses, induces the movement forward, accelerates the course of history towards the socialist revolution. And in the epoch of the dictatorship of the proletariat this leads to communism. This significance makes it possible to elaborate the correct political strategy, to take account of the experience of the revolutionary struggle in all countries, to determine correctly the main direction of the proletarian movement in a given country for a given historical period.

The political strategy of the party, based on the knowledge of the laws of development of society, accelerates historical development, leads the movement along the shortest path, prevents the working class from having unnecessary victims, from experiencing unnecessary sufferings in the struggle for the overthrow of capitalism. Failing to understand the laws of development of society means betraying the revolutionary, Marxist method, means closing ones eyes to the development of life and acting blindly and randomly.

Comrade Stalin placed special importance on the question of the scientific forecast of the development of social life by the revolutionary party and its leaders. Revolutionary theory provides knowledge of the laws of development of society, of the perspectives of this development. This is why theory, argues Comrade Stalin, “gives practical workers the power of orientation, clarity of perspective, confidence in their work, faith in the victory of our cause.” (J.V. Stalin, Works, Vol. 12, p. 148. [Concerning Questions of Agrarian Policy.]). In the Report on the Results of the First Five-Year Plan Comrade Stalin said: “The communist party is invincible, if it knows its goal, and if it is not afraid of difficulties.” (J.V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1976, p. 630.)

These statements of Marxist-Leninist theory have an exceptional significance for the understanding of the whole revolutionary spirit, the whole scientific content of materialism. These statements argue that only the Leninist-Stalinist stand in philosophy can provide the objective and correct analysis of the development of society, that reflects the historical truth, the objective course of the development of society.

In our time these words of Great Lenin acquired a new and brilliant confirmation: “by following the path of Marxian theory we shall draw closer and closer to objective truth (without ever exhausting it); but by following any other path we shall arrive at nothing but confusion and lies.” (V.I. Lenin, Collected Works,Vol. 14, p. 143. [Materialism and Empirio-Criticism.])

Only the communist party has the courage and boldness to face historical necessity openly and declares to the whole world the indubitable and consistent party character of its ideology. This is possible because this class, proletarian point of view is the only scientific one and coincides with objective reality. The more principled, persistent and consistent is the application in life by the communist party of the analysis of the social phenomena and the ideological struggle, the more exact, complete and true will be the knowledge achieved. The class interests of the proletarian masses, the goal of the communist party, on the one hand, and the laws of objective development, on the other, follow the same direction: the broader and richer the knowledge of the development of society achieved by the party, the more exact and complete will be the analysis of any phenomenon of social life and development of society, the closer will it be merged with the interests of the communist parties, with the interests of the working class.

Our party — concludes Academician G.F. Aleksandrov — is called communist because its goal is the construction of communist society. To defend the party character of philosophy and of any other field of human knowledge means to struggle in a selflessness manner, with the ardent and inflexible revolutionary will of the Leninist-Stalinist school, to fight for the line of the communist party for its goals.

From ‘The Seventieth Anniversary of Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin’, published in Izvestia Akademii Nauk SSSR, Seria Istorii i Filosofii, Tom VII, Izdatelstvo Akademii Nauk SSSR, Moscow, 1950, pp. 3-30.

Translated from the Russian by ‘Inter’.

Source

Thoughts on Georges Soria’s Denunciation of “Trotskyism in the Service of Franco”

soria_trotskyismby Espresso Stalinist

Recently I was reading a PDF of the 1938 pamphlet Trotskyism in the Service of Franco: Facts and Documents on the Activities of the P.O.U.M. in Spain by Georges Soria. Soria was a representative in Spain of the French communist paper L’Humanité and also wrote for the International Press Correspondence of the Comintern. The material for the pamphlet was originally published as a series of articles reporting on the situation of the Spanish Civil War.

Forty years after its original publication, Soria is said to have denounced the work and its contents as a forgery.

The work has subsequently been dismissed as a fabrication for a number of years. It is now cited by Trotskyists as evidence of a “Stalinist” campaign to smear the P.O.U.M. as fascist agents. Jeffrey Meyers, a biographer of George Orwell, called it “a vicious book” and Orwell himself dedicated lengthy passages in his novel “Homage to Catalonia” to blaming the Communists for similar accusations, and for the loss in Spain as a whole. The pamphlet has become a tool to denounce the heroic role of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) in the Spanish Civil War as counterrevolutionary.

The copy of the full pamphlet in its 1938 form on the Marxists Internet Archive (MIA) comes with an editor’s note that cites the original author apparently claiming the work and its contents are a complete forgery:

“Forty years later, in a work about the Spanish civil war (Guerra y revolución en España 1936-1939, III, 78-79), Soria himself stated – without mentioning anything about his own role in disseminating the accusation  – that ‘the charge that the POUM leaders were ‘agents of the Gestapo and Franco’ was no more than a fabrication, because it was impossible to adduce the slightest evidence’ and the whole story was ‘an extension into the international arena of the methods that constituted the most somber aspect of what has since been called Stalinism’” (Marxists Internet Archive).

It’s worth noting MIA are not the first ones to use these quotes to “disprove” the Soria pamphlet. Many scholarly and non-scholarly books have used them as well.

As the MIA editor’s note shows, the original source for these quotes from Soria is the book “Guerra y revolución en España 1936-1939.” This source is not available to me. However, I did find another source that details the full unedited quotes by Soria which are being cited as proof his work is a forgery: the book “Spanish Civil War: Revolution and Counterrevolution” by Burnett Bolloten.

Within this source there is enough information to argue that the way the quotes from Soria are often presented is quite deceptive. Here I will present only what are actual quoted words from Soria, and omit the words and phrases MIA inserted between them. The first quote that is commonly used is that Soria said that:

“[…] the charge that the POUM leaders were ‘agents of the Gestapo and Franco’ was no more than a fabrication, because it was impossible to adduce the slightest evidence.”

The second quote, which MIA and others present as being about “the whole story,” (more on this later) meaning about the entire contents of Soria’s pamphlet, says:

“[…] an extension into the international arena of the methods that constituted the most somber aspect of what has since been called Stalinism.”

These passages in quotes are the only portions of the editor’s note that were actually said by Soria. Now I will present the full and unedited Soria quotes in their original context as cited in Bolloten’s book. All portions in brackets [ ] without the annotation “E.S.” appeared in brackets in the original Bolloten text. The first full quote reads as follows:

“Forty years later however, in an attempt to exculpate the Spanish Communists from responsibility for the death of Nin, he [Soria – E.S.] stated that ‘the accusations leveled against Nin in Spain in the form of the couplet: ‘Where is Nin? In Salamanca or Berlin?’ were ‘purely and simply…an extension into the international arena of the methods that constituted the most somber aspect of what has since been called Stalinism.’”

So Soria was not, in fact, talking about his pamphlet, but rather the story surrounding the disappearance of Andrés Nin, the founder of the P.O.U.M., where he was freed from prison by fascist agents. Soria then blames the NKVD for the death of Nin, which is what he dismissed as “an extension into the international arena of the methods that constituted the most somber aspect of what has since been called Stalinism.”

Bolloten even goes on to condemn Soria for his “attempt…to exonerate the PCE by shifting responsibility for the crusade against the P.O.U.M. and for the disappearance of Nin to the phenomenon of ‘Stalinism’” (507). So the Soria quote specifically speaks of the charges against Nin and one story of his disappearance.

The MIA editor’s note however, frames this quote as being about “the whole story,” implying that it’s about his original work and all charges of the P.O.U.M. acting as agents (either de-facto agents or actual spies) of Franco or Hitler:

“the whole story was ‘an extension…[Soria quote continues as above].”

As we can clearly see however, in this first quote Soria was not talking about his pamphlet or the “whole story,” but specifically about the alleged liberation of Andrés Nin from prison by fascist agents, which Soria recounts in the pamphlet, though he does not mention the involvement of the Gestapo but rather implies that fascist agents may have been involved.

Bolloten then cites the second Soria quote used by MIA in the same paragraph, which contains even greater pronounced differences with the MIA citation. The original says:

“On the one hand, the charge that the leaders of the POUM, among them Andrés Nin, were ‘agents of the Gestapo and Franco’ was no more than a fabrication, because it was impossible to adduce the slightest evidence. On the other hand, although the leaders of the POUM were neither agents of Franco nor agents of the Gestapo, it is true that their relentless struggle against the Popular Front played the game nolens volens of the Caudillo [General Franco]” (Bolloten 507).

So despite Soria claiming that the charges of the P.O.U.M. leadership, including Nin, being fascist spies was without evidence, he still blamed the P.O.U.M. for taking an ultra-left position and undermining the popular front in Spain, which still rendered de-facto service to the fascists. In other words, even if the Trotskyists and ultra-lefts in the P.O.U.M. were completely innocent of all charges and were not agents of the Gestapo or Franco, they “only” offered de-facto, and not de-jure, service to Franco.

The phrasing here says that even though he claims there is no evidence of the P.O.U.M. leadership being fascist agents and spies, Soria does not deny the fact that they rendered service to Franco, using the phrase, “nolens volens,” meaning “whether willing or unwilling.”

The editor’s note on MIA omits this second phrase for obvious reasons. There are a number of other interesting points regarding these full, unedited quotes that are worth pointing out.

In these quotes Soria does not denounce his original work – merely the specific charge that the P.O.U.M. leadership were spies of the Gestapo and Franco. He does say it was “impossible to adduce the slightest evidence,” which can be said to imply that the documents and sources he cites in the pamphlet are, at least in part, forgeries. However, this is not stated specifically. In fact, Soria does not mention his work at all! This is implicitly stated by the editor’s note on the MIA page, which states that Soria spoke “without mentioning anything about his own role in disseminating the accusation.” His “role,” of course, was the pamphlet!

To some extent MIA makes a valid point about Soria never mentioning his own “role” in the charges that he claims was a “fabrication…[without] the slightest evidence.” Assuming the work is a complete fabrication, Soria never claimed to have been coerced to write the pamphlet, and never mentions an outside party forcing him to do so. Therefore, even in the case that it is a complete forgery, until there is proof that Soria authored it under the influence of an outside force, the blame must be placed not on the Soviet Union, “Stalinism” or the PCE, but on Soria the author for allegedly forging the evidence in his articles in the first place, and allowing those articles to be published as a pamphlet.

It’s also worth repeating that though Soria expresses his belief that the charges against the “P.O.U.M. leadership” being fascist spies was false and without evidence, this does not mean everyone in the P.O.U.M. was innocent of such activities, and Soria says explicitly that the P.O.U.M.’s actions still helped Hitler and Franco, even if unwillingly. One must ask then: how does this in any way exonerate the P.O.U.M.?

Furthermore, why Soria should choose forty years after the publication of the original document, long after such a “confession” of forgery could have had any effect whatsoever on the anti-fascist war in Spain or its outcome is unclear, thought it must be pointed out that these words were said after Soria became sympathetic to the Eurocommunism of the PCF, and during the era of “de-Stalinization,” where the virtues of making slanderous statements and denunciations regarding the Stalin era were looked upon with favor both inside and outside the Soviet Union. The pace for this was set by the many utter falsehoods uttered by Khrushchev at the 20th Congress, and the decades of revisionism that followed.

CONCLUSION: Until there is more direct evidence that Georges Soria denounced his articles and the documents he cited in them as forgeries, there is no reason to “dismiss” them from consideration as evidence, and though he later claimed the charges against the P.O.U.M. leadership were baseless and there was no evidence for them, implying that at least part of the original work was false and/or mistaken, the conclusion that Soria admitted his work and all of its contents were complete forgeries cannot be supported by the existing facts.

https://www.marxists.org/history/spain/writers/soria/trotskyism_in_service_of_franco.htm

The Lie About Stalin: 22nd June 1941

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V.M. Zhukhrai

The leader of the German fascists, Adolf Hitler, whilst instructing his own propagandists, said: ‘If we want to score a victory, we must actively make use of lies. They have to be big. The bigger the lies the quicker people will believe them. When we score a victory, nobody will ask us whether we spoke the truth or whether we lied’. Goebbels, the minister for fascist propaganda and developing the ideas of his fuehrer said that a lie repeated a thousand times becomes a truth. And it was according to this Hitlerite recipe that our enemies used their criticism of Stalin’s activity as soon after he had died. And here is a probable lie. In the newspaper Glasnost (Openness) where we had been preparing material concerning the case of Kirov’s murder, there are examples of lies given which were poured over Stalin and our party. I do not wish to quote all of the examples, you probably know them already, and so I will stop on just one example. In the press it is said that when the Bolsheviks took the Crimea, they executed by firing squad 100 thousand officers of the White Guard. At that time the whole of Kolchak’s army consisted of 26 thousand men, 6000 of whom were officers. You can see what I mean about lies, can’t you? Therefore, our comrades asked to explain several interesting moments in the life and activity of Stalin, which in much, reveal the methods of our class enemies and which in practical examples illustrate the fallacy of this lie. Many people have already read my book ‘Stalin – the truth and the lies’. Now my new book has been published entitled ‘Stalin and politics’, and also articles have been published concerning the case surrounding the murder of Kirov and the case concerning Tukhachevsky. In other words, we have fulfilled the task of somehow assisting our propagandists in the preparation for the socialist revolution, because they have been in the main, going along with this lie. Those comrades who have given speeches before me have very good reports. I was very pleased with them. Our conference was a lot worse than this one. The reports have simply been excellent at your conference. Excellent reports.

And so, Comrades, allow me to stop on several questions. The first thing which is usually asked is why Comrade Stalin, on the 22nd June 1941 did not go on the radio and make a speech to the Soviet people? And enemy of Soviet people Khrushchev, carrying out the will of his masters on the other side of the Atlantic, declared that Stalin had become confused, afraid, locked himself away in his dacha (country house) and sat there for three days. What? Stalin, a professional revolutionary, a man who back in 1902 in Baku, walking at the front of a demonstration under a red banner, where tsarist troops had opened fire killing 45 workers, was never afraid of anybody or anything. All those Comrades who knew Comrade Stalin say this. And Zhukov, even though he was an enemy of Stalin at heart, did much so that Khrushchev did what he did, unfortunately. Vinogradov, second in command of the rear around Moscow and who had met Comrade Stalin every day, told me about this. He says that a significant number of our military leaders, including Zhukov, became quite nervous, the only calm, even-tempered person being Stalin. Do you know what Rokossovsky says concerning this? That is to say, that all the data we have indicates that this business concerning Stalin locking himself away for three days at the start of the war, is nothing but a Khrushchevite lie, since that same Khrushchev himself was at this time in Kiev, and could not have seen how Stalin was behaving. Nevertheless, such a lie was released, and it was from here that I first of all started, when writing a book, a book I had been working on for almost 20 years or so, and had to verify all the facts which were on hand. Therefore I began by finding out the real reason why Comrade Stalin, on the night of 22nd June 1941, suddenly at the start of the second night left the Kremlin, when all the country’s leadership were at their posts expecting an attack from fascist Germany. Throughout that year Comrade Stalin had been leaving at 5 am. This pattern had been set, so he left at 5 am. And on the eve of such hard days, he had suddenly left! And while closely scrutinising this question, luck fell into my hands on two occasions.

First of all, I was well acquainted with Professor Preobrazhensky, a well-known academician and specialist in ear, throat and nose disorders. Preobrazhensky was the only doctor who in the period of 20 years had treated Stalin. Comrade Stalin had a very weak throat and in the latter years it became sore quite often because of angina; he had a very weak throat. However, he refused to have his glands removed. Boris Sergeivich knew this condition well. Speaking of which, when I began asking him about this, we then met to discuss this many times, for we were working together at the same institute and he had at one time saved my life.

He began telling me that on the night of the 22nd June 1941 he was called out to Volinskoe. And when he arrived he saw Comrade Stalin lying under a blanket on the couch inside the hall where meetings of the politburo usually took place, and who said in a broken voice: ‘Take a look to see what is wrong with me. I’m not feeling at all well. I can hardly talk or swallow’. And when, says Preobrazhensky, I took a look at Comrade Stalin’s throat I was horrified. What he was actually suffering from was terrible phlegmatic angina, an abscess in the throat. And when I took his temperature, it was well over 40. I said: ‘Comrade Stalin, you have to get to the hospital immediately or you will suffocate’. Stalin said: ‘Unfortunately that can’t be done now. And don’t mention a word to anyone about my illness. Not even the guards’. Zhukov confirms this in his memoirs: when he phoned Stalin and heard his irregular breathing, he could not say why he had stayed quiet for a long time. And when he told him that the Hitlerites had started attacking us, it was then that Stalin went to the Kremlin. And Stalin’s chauffeur, Mitryukhin says: ‘I watched Comrade Stalin coming out and could see him swaying. We knew that Comrade Stalin did not drink and was never drunk, but here he was, shaking; when he got into the back seat of the car and sitting behind me, I could see that this man was gasping for breath’. And it was in this semi-conscious state that Stalin arrived in the Kremlin. This is why he was laid up for three days without food. It is true what Lozgachev, one of Stalin’s bodyguards writes, that Stalin did drink one cup of tea. Therefore it was obvious that Comrade Stalin could not make a speech on radio under such conditions.

I was also lucky to have found out that Lilya Alexandrovna here, an old friend of mine and wife of Vice General Vlasik, also knew about these things very well. We together met Comrade Stalin’s personal guard, Colonel Borisov from the personal guards, the so-called ‘ninth’, which was standing on the night of the 22nd at the gate of Volinskoe dacha. And he has this on tape; for the three whole days that Stalin was there all the time, nobody came over to the dacha. Only Preobrazhensky came over who was brought over by Poskrebyshev and nobody else. And Comrade Stalin did not leave to go anywhere either. Well it has been said that diaries, records by some of the secretaries had been found, and let this be on the conscience of Boldin and Gorbachev. I do not believe these records. I know that Comrade Stalin did not allow anybody to record who came to see him. Lenin had such records made but Stalin did not. And Molotov at the same time confirms that they had not seen Stalin for three days. Also, Peoples Commissar of the Naval Fleet, Kuznetsov, who noted that he was with Stalin on the 24th June writes in his memoirs: ‘I could not find Stalin for three days. I arrived at the Kremlin, phoned all the telephone numbers, but Stalin was nowhere to be found’. So. This is the way things stand concerning this lie about Stalin.

Source

Enver Hoxha on the Path of Khrushchevite Revisionism in the Soviet Union

enver_1949

“Khrushchevite revisionism in the Soviet Union has undergone several stages, in compliance with which its forms, methods and tactics of struggle and action to carry out in practice its anti-Marxist and traitorous course and to camouflage it, have also changed.

The first stage was that of the building up, maintenance and establishment of the betrayal, accompanied with a great and scandalous noise and with a sham ‘optimism’ to distract the minds of the people. It was characterized by the frantic campaign of attacks on J. Stalin, to discredit the ideas of Marxism-Leninism and the cause of the Bolshevik Party, under the fraudulent pretext of the ‘fight against the personality cult and its consequences.’

[....]

In the ideological field the revisionists replaced the ideas and the consistent Marxist-Leninist line of Stalin on all the fundamental questions with the ideas and the anti-Marxist line of modern revisionism. Opportunists and various Trotskyist, Bukharinist and Zinovievist enemies, nationalists, and others, in the Soviet Union were proclaimed as ‘victims of Stalin’ and where placed on the pedestal of ‘martyrs’ and ‘heroes.’ The renegade Tito clique in Yugoslavia was rehabilitated and Titoism was proclaimed as a variant of ‘creative Marxism-Leninism’ and of ‘socialism.’ In various socialist countries condemned traitors were rehabilitated and revisionist cliques attached to Khrushchev’s chariot were brought to power. They launched the slogan of unity with the social-democrats on a national and international scale ‘in the joint struggle for socialism,’ and the way was paved for the complete ideological, political and organizational rapprochement and merger of the communist parties with the social-democratic parties.

[…]

In the political field Khrushchev and his group besmirched and discarded the Marxist-Leninist theory and practice about the class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat, calling it a ‘Stalinist distortion’ and proclaiming the whole historic period of Stalin’s leadership a ‘dark, anti-democratic period, a period of violations of socialist legality, of terror and murders, of prisons and concentration camps.’ The road was thus opened for the liquidation of the dictatorship of the proletariat and for its replacement with the bureaucratic and counterrevolutionary dictatorship of the new ‘socialist’ aristocracy which was born and was developing, all this being covered with the deceptive slogans of ‘democratization’ and of ‘restoration of freedom and socialist justice’ allegedly ‘lost and now regained.’

In the economic field the Khrushchevites declared as erroneous and incorrect the Stalin line and methods of development and management of the socialist economy in all branches, especially in that of agriculture, rejected Stalin’s directives on further improvement and development of socialist relations of production in the historic period of the transition from socialism to communism, and, under the pretext of overcoming the economic ‘stagnation’ and difficulties allegedly created as a result of the Stalin ‘dogmatic’ line, undertook a series of ‘reforms’ which paved the way to the gradual degeneration of the socialist economic order and to the uncontrolled operation of the economic laws of capitalism.

In the field of international relations the Khrushchevite revisionists proclaimed as ‘erroneous,’ ‘rigid’ and ‘dogmatic’ the Stalin foreign policy line, the line of the blow for blow fight against imperialism and of determined internationalist support for the revolutionary and liberation struggle. They replaced it with the ‘peaceful coexistence’ policy as the general line of the foreign policy of the Soviet state.

[….]

The anti-Stalin campaign served the Khrushchevite renegades to pass over to the second stage—to that of the efforts for the strengthening and stabilisation of the betrayal in the economy, policy and ideology, at home and in foreign relations. This is the stage of the codification of the viewpoints of Khrushchevite revisionism and of the large-scale implementation of its policy.

N. Khrushchev and his group completely liquidated the Marxist-Leninist proletarian party, they transformed it into a weapon of the revisionist counter-revolution, they replaced the Leninist norms of party building with revisionist norms and, finally, they proclaimed it a ‘party of the whole people.’

[…]

In the field of international relations this stage was characterized by the complete establishment of the counter-revolutionary alliance of the Soviet leadership with U.S. imperialism for sharing the domination of the world, at the expense of the freedom and independence of the peoples of the vital interests of the socialist countries, of the cause of revolution and socialism. The selling out of the interests of the liberation struggle of the Congolese people, the bargainings with U.S. and West-German imperialism to the detriment of the national interests of the German Democratic Republic, the treachery towards the Cuban people in the days of the Caribbean crisis, the joint plots with the U.S. imperialists and the Indian reactionaries against the People’s Republic of China, the signing of the ill-famed Soviet-U.S.-British treaty on the partial prohibition of nuclear weapons tests, the sabotage of the revolutionary struggle of the Vietnamese people against the U.S. aggressors, and of the just struggle of the Arab people against the imperialist-Israel aggression, etc.—all these, and other acts, are links of the long chain of the counterrevolutionary alliance of the Soviet revisionist leadership with U.S. imperialism.

[….]

All this counter-revolutionary line and the anti-Marxist-Leninist viewpoints of the Khrushchevite revisionists were consecrated in the decisions of the 22nd Congress of the CPSU, especially in the program of the CPSU adopted at this congress, which, due to the dominating position of the Soviet leadership in the revisionist camp, became the main code of the trend of international modern revisionism.

At this ill-famed congress were repeated openly and publicly now the monstrous attacks and calumnies against Stalin. This showed, in the first place, that the feelings of sympathy towards J. Stalin had remained alive among the Soviet people and this greatly worried the Khrushchevite leading clique; in the second place, that this clique was obstinately advancing on its anti-Marxist road, and in the third place, that it needed the ‘bogy of Stalinism’ in order to defeat the ever more resolute resistance which was rising in the international communist movement against its treacherous line.

[….]

The struggle of the Marxist-Leninist parties and forces, and life itself, which is the best judge of every policy, rejected the line and theories of the Soviet revisionist leadership, exposed their anti-Marxist and counter-revolutionary essence. Difficult days have come for the Khrushchevite revisionists. Khrushchevite revisionism has entered the third stage, which is the stage of its decline, of its deep and general crisis, the stage when treachery develops but yields bitter fruits and brings defeats to the revisionists.”

 – Enver Hoxha, “The Demagogy of the Soviet Revisionists Cannot Conceal Their Traitorous Countenance”

Happy 135th Birthday Joseph Stalin: Celebrate a Life Lived in Service to the People!

December 21st, 2013

This is the Espresso Stalinist, inviting you all to keep this time of year a time of celebration, love, revolution and socialism. This is the true meaning of this day. Thank you, Koba. Thank you for all you did for us.

Thank You, Koba

by Charlie Mann

I could never have known
That I would learn so much
From just one man.
By now, he is merely
Words,
On paper and
on screens,
Perhaps the odd bust that
Survived repression;

But no living man has
Encouraged me,
Chastised me,
Taught me,
Emboldened me,
Given me
Courage,
Confidence,
Strength and
Determination
quite so much -

I salute you,
Tovarich,
Our revolution lives on.

Link to Poem

Happy 135th Birthday Joseph Stalin: Celebrate a Life Lived in Service to the People!


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