International Communism and World Revolution: History & Methods

By Günther Nollau | Go to book overview

Chapter V
THE END OF THE COMINTERN

THE PURGES

"Die Internationale erkämpft das Menschenrecht."1

C OMMUNIST parties and the Comintern had been expelling "opportunists" and otherwise undesirable members ever since the 8th Party Congress of the Russian Communist Party in 1919. The expulsion of Paul Levi, who publicly criticized the bungling of the March 1921 operations, was one of the first noteworthy examples.2 In these cases, however, neither the life nor the liberty of the victim was in any way affected by the expulsions.

Hardly was Stalin the undisputed master of the CPSU, however, than he initiated the "purges", aimed at the physical destruction not only of his opponents but also of anyone who might one day become his opponent. These purges, which began after the 7th World Congress, followed the murder of Sergei Kirov, perhaps arranged and in any event made use of by Stalin, on 1 December 1934.3 The Comintern and its staff, both inside the Soviet Union and outside the "fatherland of the working class", were hit by the purges, the greatest losses being in Spain and Germany.

Stalin had every one of the leading Bolshevists who had delivered the representative speeches at the World Congresses during the Comintern's first ten years -- Zinoviev, Radek,

____________________
1
Refrain of the song Die Internationale, composed by Eugene Pottier in 1871 ( Internationale Arbeiterlieder, 24th edition, Berlin, 1953, p. 54).
2
See p. 70 above.
3
Sergei M. Kirov, the popular and influential secretary of the Leningrad Party organization, had been shot dead by a student in Smolny. Willi Schlamm , in Die Diktatur der Lüge, Zurich, 1937, p. 53, gives details of the trial of twelve Leningrad OGPU officials charged with "carelessness" in not having taken the ncessary security precautions.

-188-

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