A Documentary History of Communism

By Robert V. Daniels | Go to book overview

Chapter Five: International Communism, 1919-1941

The international Communist movement had its origins in the splits brought about in the socialist parties almost everywhere by the First World War and the Russian Revolution. Left-wing elements were gathered together under Russian leadership and recast into a distinctively Russian-type revolutionary organization. Country by country the history of the Communist International was exceedingly complex, but the system of organization and the major developments in the movement were determined in Russia. Over the years the expedient interests of the Russian state figured ever more prominently in guiding the movement, at the expense of the fortunes of communism in any other particular country.


The Prospect of International Revolution--Germany

The world revolution expected and relied on by the Bolsheviks seemed to be imminent in the months immediately after the end of World War I. Left-wing socialists in sympathy with Soviet Russia prepared for revolutionary struggle. In Germany Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg organized the Spartacus League--the nucleus of the future German Communist Party--and in January, 1919, attempted to seize power. The revolt was put down by the moderate socialist government of the new German republic, and both Spartacus leaders were killed.

Proletarians! Men and Women of Labor! Comrades!

The revolution has made its entry into Germany. The

FROM: "Manifesto of the Spartacus Group," December, 1918 (English translation in The New York Times, January 24, 1919).

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