The Comintern’s Great Turn of 1920-21
By John Riddell
September 18 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary — Following its consolidation as a global organization in 1920, the Communist International (Comintern) experienced triumphant growth, then a severe setback, a leadership crisis, and finally – at the Third World Congress – a sharp reorientation toward United Front strategy.
The story of this fast-paced and complex evolution is traced in the introduction to To the Masses, a study of the Comintern’s Third World Congress (June-July 1921), which carried out the necessary change of direction.
To the Masses: Proceedings of the Third Congress of the Communist International, 1921 (John Riddell, ed.), was published by Brill and Haymarket Books in 2015. It presents the complete proceedings of the Third Congress, along with 33 appendices and full annotation, in a single 1,299-page volume. The book, first published in the Historical Materialism Book Series, is available from Haymarket Press for US$38.50.
The 16,000-word introduction is presented here for the first time on line. Copyright (c) 2014 John Riddell.
With special thanks to Mike Taber, who drafted the footnotes, edited the text, and advised on every aspect of the complete work.
‘To the masses!’ – that was the call of the Communist International’s Third Congress, held in Moscow 22 June–12 July 1921, to supporters around the world. ‘The power of capitalism’, the congress appeal stated, ‘can be broken only if the idea of communism takes shape in the impetuous upsurge of the proletariat’s large majority, led by mass Communist parties, which forge indissoluble ties to the fighting proletarian class.’
This appeal was the heart of a strategy developed by the congress in response to a sharp change in political conditions in Europe: from a time of tumultuous workers’ upsurge to a period in which the goal of socialist revolution appeared less imminent. The Communist International (Comintern) sought to develop a plan to prepare for revolution in a period in which it did not appear immediately on the agenda and the working class, although organised and combative, was in retreat.
Prior to the congress, the International’s several million members were divided on the nature of this shift and how to respond to it. As the congress convened, with more than 600 delegates from 55 countries in attendance, its outcome was still in doubt, and the majority of its participants favoured a course quite different from what was ultimately adopted. The record of three weeks of congress debates, presented in these pages, displays a global movement’s complex and shifting debate on the questions defining its future course – including many issues still posed today.
The multitude of viewpoints expressed in congress sessions were grouped around two alternative courses of action. A ‘leftist’ option aimed to galvanise workers into revolutionary struggle through the bold initiatives of a Communist minority. It was expressed most clearly in amendments to the Theses on Tactics and Strategy proposed by the German, Austrian, and Italian delegations. Other forces, led by V.I. Lenin and Leon Trotsky and termed by Lenin as the ‘Right’, sought to advance toward revolution by rooting Communists in the daily struggles of the working class.
The decisions of the congress laid down a strategic line of march that has guided the actions of revolutionary forces into the twenty-first century. The legacy of the congress includes:
- A strategy seeking to win to communism a majority of the working class through committed involvement in workers’ daily struggles. This course was expressed in the congress call, ‘to the masses’, and formulated more precisely by Clara Zetkin (quoting Lenin) as, ‘Win over the masses as a precondition to winning power’.
- A campaign to draw together the diverse expressions of anti-capitalist resistance in a ‘united fighting front of the proletariat’. This approach was expanded, six months later, to embrace alliances with non-revolutionary currents within the working-class movement in what became known as ‘the united front’.
- A proposal to integrate into the International’s programme what later became known as ‘transitional demands’, that is, demands infringing on capitalist property rights and power, as part of ‘a system of demands that, in their totality, undermine the power of the bourgeoisie, organise the proletariat, and mark out the different stages of the struggle for proletarian dictatorship’.
- An analysis of how fluctuations in the capitalist economy can promote anti-capitalist consciousness, taking the place of reliance on the expectation of capitalist collapse.
- In a discussion marked by sharp antagonisms and many missteps, the congress sought, through frank debate and in a spirit of compromise, to promote principled unity of the diverse forces linked to the International.
The congress consisted of not just its plenary discussions and resolutions, fully recorded in these pages, but also a multitude of executive, commission, and special meetings held before it convened and while it was in session. The course of these consultations and deliberations is reflected in this volume by thirty-two appended documents, most published here for the first time in English. The present editorial introduction aims to provide a readers’ guide to this diverse material, knitting together discussion inside and outside the formal sessions and supplying necessary context. The introduction also reviews events during the fifteen months prior to the congress that gave rise to the dispute in the Moscow gathering and figured centrally in its discussions.
a. 1920: Year of Great Hopes
The strategic disagreement in the Communist International, perceptible since its foundation in March 1919, emerged and widened because of a contradiction in workers’ experience during 1920. Following the Comintern’s Second Congress in June–July 1920, hundreds of thousands of revolutionary-minded workers joined its ranks, building a number of mass Communist parties, especially in Germany, France, and Czechoslovakia. Meanwhile, however, the working class as a whole suffered severe setbacks, especially in the Polish-Soviet war and in the two non-Soviet countries closest to revolution, Italy and Germany. The postwar wave of worker radicalism was visibly receding. Communists diverged in their response to this situation. Some proposed launching their newly enlarged forces into an offensive before it was too late, while others favoured policies adapted to a less rapid pace of revolution. The story of the Third Congress must therefore be traced from the moment, fifteen months earlier, when a marked strategic divergence appeared in the Comintern’s leadership.
The Kapp Putsch in Germany
Third Congress discussion often referred to disagreements on the Communists’ conduct during a March 1920 workers’ mobilisation in Germany against a military coup led by Wolfgang Kapp. When right-wing army detachments seized Berlin that month and put to flight the Social Democratic–led government, the army command refused to defend constitutional rule, while workers across Germany rose up in a massive general strike. Within four days, the Kapp Putsch was defeated, but workers continued their strike, seeking effective measures against rightist violence. Armed workers controlled some areas, including much of the industrial Ruhr region. The army moved against them, and capitalist forces soon regained the upper hand. Revolutionary workers wondered why they had been unable to take advantage of their best opportunity since the German revolution of November 1918. In particular, four actions during the Kapp days by the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) came in for critical scrutiny:
- When the general strike broke out, the Communist Party’s central leadership initially refused to support it on the grounds that strikers opposing the coup were defending a repressive bourgeois government.
- In some areas, the KPD took part in or led alliances of workers’ organisations, including the pro-capitalist SPD, that for a time wielded effective power.
- At one point, the KPD expressed conditional support for a trade-union proposal to form a government of all workers’ parties and trade unions.
- During the final stage of the struggle, when the army was poised to crush workers’ armed detachments in the Ruhr, the KPD favoured a proposed agreement to avert a massacre and pacify the region without an army incursion.
The KPD’s conduct during the Kapp episode came under fire from many leaders in the party and the International. Karl Radek, who led collaboration of the Comintern Executive (ECCI) with the KPD, said that both its leadership’s initial abstention and its later conditional support of a united workers’ government reflected an underlying passivity. Béla Kun, former leader of the 1919 Hungarian soviet republic, denounced the ‘model of unity’ encompassing all workers’ tendencies as ‘counterrevolutionary’. Some ‘leftist’ critics of the KPD reacted by organising the Communist Workers Party (KAPD); others formed a left opposition within the KPD, represented at the Third Congress by Paul Frölich, Arkadi Maslow, and others.
Lenin, for his part, expressed critical support for the KPD’s response on a united workers’ government, doing so in May and again in June 1920. However, the Second Congress (June–July 1920) did not take up the disputed aspects of the KPD’s response. A year later, in the Third Congress, the Kapp Putsch was cited by Comintern leaders to condemn the KPD leadership of the time, headed by Paul Levi, for rightist errors, inactivity, and support of the ‘workers’ government’ proposal – the same points made by the KAPD and the KPD’s own left opposition.
The Second World Congress
Although silent on lessons of the Kapp Putsch experience, the Second Congress took a series of decisions establishing the programmatic and principled framework in which the Third Congress debates took place. Indeed, the Second Congress marked the International’s real foundation as a union of parties with tens of thousands of members and deep roots in workers’ struggles. Delegates and guests represented diverse currents, ranging from revolutionary nationalists of Asia to anarchists and left-wing Social Democrats of the West. The 1919 founding congress had not discussed the role of Communist parties; by contrast, the 1920 gathering placed the need to build such parties at the centre of the International’s strategy. Its resolutions, dealing with the nature and role of Communist parties, participation in trade unions and in parliamentary elections, peasant struggles against exploitation, and anti-colonial movements, were often cited in the Third Congress as the framework for its discussions.
The Second Congress also grappled with a challenge posed by the International’s new popularity. The Comintern had become ‘rather fashionable’, one of its resolutions noted, and stood in danger ‘of being diluted by vacillating and irresolute groups’ – such as the Socialists of France and the Independent Socialists (USPD) of Germany – who were still steeped in the ideology and practices of the pre-1914 Socialist (Second) International. Seeking to challenge the grip of a bureaucratic layer of journalists, parliamentarians, and officials within such parties, the congress adopted twenty-one ‘conditions for admission’ aimed at enabling Comintern parties to carry out decisions in unified fashion under conditions of intense class conflict.
Congress resolutions mapped out the foundations of a strategy for a protracted struggle for Communist hegemony in the workers’ movement. However, another theme was at work in the 1920 gathering: the hope of rapid victory resulting from the impact of war.
The strategy of taking the offensive, which inspired leftist forces heading into the Third Congress, was first formulated in 1920 in a quite different context, that of the Polish-Soviet War. In the spring of 1920, the Polish government had launched an attack on soviet Ukraine, taking its capital, Kiev. The Soviet Red Army repelled the invasion, crossed the frontier, and occupied much of Poland. During the Second Congress, Soviet forces were approaching the Polish capital, Warsaw, while the British and French governments tried to rush military aid to Poland’s rulers. Workers across Europe rallied to block imperialist intervention. The Second Congress adopted Paul Levi’s resolution calling for destruction of the capitalist state of Poland in the name of an ‘independent republic of Polish workers and peasants’. Victor Serge later recalled how Lenin, ‘in excellent spirits, confident of victory’, discussed the Soviet advance on Warsaw with delegates gathered informally in a side-room around a map of Poland, while Radek added, ‘We shall be ripping up the Versailles Treaty with our bayonets.’ Six months later, Radek told the KPD Zentrale that the Comintern Executive had believed German workers were so close to seizure of political power that, ‘if [the Red Army] held Warsaw, there would be no further need to advance all the way to Germany’.
A year later, Trotsky spoke of the mood of those days: ‘You will recall, the Red Army was then advancing on Warsaw and it was possible to calculate that because of the revolutionary situation in Germany, Italy, and other countries, the military impulse – without, of course, any independent significance of its own but as an auxiliary force … – might bring on the landslide of revolution, then temporarily at a dead point. That did not happen. We were beaten back.’
In the weeks after the Second Congress adjourned, the Soviet forces in Poland were repulsed and withdrew back to near the original frontier. An armistice soon followed, marking the end of a seven-year cycle of war and civil war in European Russia. Nonetheless, the Red Army’s Polish offensive inspired an article by Nikolai Bukharin in the Comintern’s world journal, headlined ‘The Policy of the Offensive’, which drew on precedents from the French revolutionary wars of the 1790s to make the case that Soviet military advances could spark revolution beyond Soviet borders. In the run-up to the Third Congress, Bukharin’s formula was born to a new life in the theory developed by the German party’s majority leadership to justify its adventurist policy.
The Baku Congress
Three weeks after the Second Congress adjourned, the Comintern convened an unprecedented congress of fighters for national liberation from across Asia in Baku, Azerbaijan. The 2,050 delegates, a quarter of whom had no ties with the Communist movement, represented 37 nationalities. The optimism that inspired Bukharin’s article on the Polish war echoed through its sessions. When Grigorii Zinoviev, in the name of the Comintern, told delegates, ‘Brothers, we summon you to a holy war, above all against British imperialism’, he was greeted by thunderous applause, as delegates rose in cheers, brandishing sabres and rifles.
But in Central Asia, too, a cycle of imperialist war was winding down. Over the next two years, Britain withdrew its armed forces, in stages, from Turkestan, Transcaucasia, Iran, and Turkey. In February–March 1921 Soviet Russia signed treaties with Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey. Most important, on 16 March, Russia and Britain signed a trade treaty, a decisive breach in the imperialist blockade of the Soviet republic, in which the two powers promised not to harm each other’s interests in Asia. During this period, pro-Soviet national liberation movements triumphed, with the aid of the Red Army, in most of the old tsarist empire’s territories in Asia. Beyond its frontiers, however, national liberation movements in 1920–1, although increasing in scope, were not yet strong enough to mount an assault on colonial and semi-colonial domination.
The enduring achievement of the Baku congress lay in the impetus it gave to the formation of Communist movements across Asia. It heightened awareness in both the East and West of the role that the peoples of the East could play as a force in a world anti-capitalist movement – a perspective summarised in Zinoviev’s closing remarks at Baku: ‘Workers of all lands and oppressed peoples of the whole world, unite.’
Upsurge in Italy
Zinoviev’s opening report to the Third Congress devoted extended analysis to events in Italy in the autumn of 1920. Even as the Baku congress met, workers across Italy, half a million strong, seized factories and began to organise production under the leadership of factory councils. Beginning in the metal industry, the strikes spread to the railroads, other industries, and the countryside, bringing the country to the brink of revolution. Leaders of the pro-socialist trade-union confederation, however, considered the movement to be nothing more than a struggle for immediate union goals, and the Italian Socialist Party (PSI), the Comintern’s section in Italy, refused to challenge them to go further. Party and union leaders alike took no steps to intensify the struggle or endow it with broader demands. The government was left free to liquidate the movement through wage increases and a promise of ‘workers’ control’, which was not implemented.
This outcome was demoralising for revolutionary workers. For revolutionary forces within the PSI, the relevance of the Second Congress theses to this disaster was obvious: the PSI had failed to lead because it remained tied to the outmoded structures and practices of pre-1914 socialism. In the view of the PSI left wing, the challenge of revolution demanded a new kind of party of the type sketched out in the Twenty-One Conditions and other Second Congress decisions, a party integrated into a disciplined world movement. In particular, the party’s left wing demanded that the PSI expel its openly reformist minority, led by Filippo Turati, which exerted a deadening influence on the party apparatus. Meanwhile, the PSI’s central leader, Giacinto Serrati, who had led the PSI into the Comintern, wrote of the world movement with increasing scepticism, finding various excuses to postpone application in Italy of the Twenty-One Conditions. The Comintern Executive argued vigorously for immediate application of the conditions, publishing its debate with the PSI in a hefty pamphlet translated into several languages.
Soon, a revolutionary wing within the PSI coalesced around the former ‘Abstentionist’ faction led by Amadeo Bordiga, which had long opposed the PSI’s participation in elections. Supporters of the Turin newspaper Ordine nuovo, whose leaders included Umberto Terracini and Antonio Gramsci, joined in this left convergence; forces breaking from Serrati’s current made up a third component. Meanwhile, the Serrati forces, now taking the name ‘Unitary Communists’ (‘Unitarians’), avoided an open challenge to the Comintern and managed to retain the support of most pro-Comintern party members.
By the end of 1920, the pro-ECCI forces (the Communist Faction) had taken steps to prepare for a split. Structuring their supporters in branches and federations down to the membership level and functioning through their own publications, they were headed toward a clean break with the Serrati-led majority. Although Zinoviev, on 9 January 1921, said that the Serrati wing would probably vote for the ECCI’s positions, Bordiga had already written in his faction’s newspaper that if in a minority, they would defy convention decisions.
b. Four Historic Conventions
During the year following the Second Congress, mass workers’ parties in Germany, France, and Czechoslovakia joined the Comintern, while a fourth such party, in Italy, left the Comintern’s ranks. These events – and their consequences – were to dominate the Third Congress discussions.
In Germany, a convention of the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) in Halle, held 12–17 October 1920, resolved by 237 votes to 156 to accept the Twenty-One Conditions and join the Communist International. Formed in 1917 by members of the Social Democratic Party who rejected its support of World War I and collaboration with the capitalist class, the USPD in late 1920 embraced eight hundred thousand members and was ten times the size of the KPD. Following the Halle vote, its majority began a fusion process with the Communist Party, while its minority split off, keeping the name USPD. The USPD majority and the KPD joined forces in early December, creating a party of some four hundred thousand members that took the name United Communist Party of Germany (VKPD).
The new party inherited the dispute that had been brewing in the KPD and in its relations with the ECCI since the Kapp Putsch. A new left wing had formed in the KPD in 1920, calling for a more ‘active’ policy, with bolder initiatives in workers’ struggles. Among its leaders were Ernst Meyer and Hugo Eberlein from the wartime Spartacus current; Frölich, who during the war had criticised Spartacus from the left; and Ernst Friesland (Reuter), won to communism as a prisoner of war in Russia. They received encouragement from Karl Radek, responsible for the ECCI’s relations with Germany, who accused unnamed elements in the German party leadership (presumably including Paul Levi) of ‘anti-putschist cretinism’ and ‘quietism’. August Thalheimer and Heinrich Brandler, also Spartacus veterans, swung toward this viewpoint. At a KPD congress in November, Radek openly attacked Levi, accusing him of ‘wanting to do nothing but educate Communists until the Party has white hairs on its super-intelligent head’.
At the December fusion convention, a draft manifesto, written by Levi and approved by the provisional Zentrale (Central Bureau), was set aside and replaced by a last-minute text by Radek. Referring to the numerical size and influence of the United KPD (VKPD), Radek’s text stated, ‘The VKPD is strong enough to go alone into action when events permit and demand this.’ The text was adopted, but Levi expressed his reservations publicly: the establishment of workers’ rule (‘proletarian dictatorship’) ‘cannot be the task of a small part of that class or of a single, isolated party, but only that of the broad masses of the proletariat, of the class as such’. Communists ‘must also be aware that they constitute only a fraction of the proletarian class….’
Leftist pressure on the new party was further increased by the ECCI’s decision in December 1920, overriding unanimous and strenuous objections from the KPD leadership, to admit to the Comintern the extreme leftist KAPD as a sympathising organisation, granting it representation on the ECCI with consultative vote along with financial assistance.
Two months after the Halle Congress, Comintern supporters in the French Socialist Party (SFIO) won a decisive victory at its 25–30 December 1920 congress in Tours. The ECCI had set its sights on winning the party almost in its entirety, even offering to weaken the Twenty-One Conditions (the party could keep its name, Socialist Party, for a time; it could preserve neutrality in the trade unions) in order to embrace revolutionary-minded forces influenced by centrism. The Comintern rallied 70 percent of congress delegates and, after the congress, 60 percent of the membership. The party was still headed by Louis-Oscar Frossard and Marcel Cachin, who had been distant from revolutionary views during the War; its newspaper was still L’Humanité, founded by Jean Jaurès.
Such a decisive Comintern victory inevitably swept into its new French section an ultimately incompatible spectrum of political traditions and outlooks. After the Tours Congress, tensions surfaced in the spring of 1921 around a threat of war. The French government sought to use military force to squeeze greater reparations payments out of Germany, calling up into the army a category of conscripts, ‘the class of 1919’. On 8 March it occupied part of the Ruhr industrial region on the east bank of the Rhine. The French Communists protested, but leftist forces in the party and especially its youth organisation assailed the party leadership for passivity and excessive caution, in terms similar to those used by leftists in their criticisms of Paul Levi. The resulting tensions still riled the French delegation as it arrived in Moscow for the Third Congress.
As the Italian Socialist Party approached its January 1921 congress in Livorno, its members were grouped in three factions divided above all by issues posed in the Comintern’s Twenty-One Conditions. Alongside the Communist Faction (Bordiga) and the Unitary Communists (Serrati), the right wing led by Turati organised itself as the Socialist Concentration. A fourth, smaller current led by Antonio Graziadei and Anselmo Marabini agreed with the ECCI’s stand but sought to reconcile the Communist Faction with the Serrati current, or at least its left wing. The Communist Faction demanded that the PSI immediately expel all participants in Turati’s factional conference in Reggio Emilia in October and implement the Twenty-One Conditions fully and immediately. The ECCI fully backed the Bordiga faction’s ultimatum. Serrati responded that the PSI would indeed implement the conditions, but in its own way and its own time, and that immediate expulsions would be premature. The PSI, Serrati said, was asking only that it be granted the same consideration that the ECCI had shown to the French party; he accused the ECCI of acting in discriminatory fashion.
On the eve of the Livorno conference, Radek, as ECCI representative in Germany, was in agreement with the VKPD Zentrale on the need ‘to keep Serrati, but we had definitely to demand of him that the Turati people be excluded’. However, when Levi, as VKPD representative, reached Livorno, he encountered just-received instructions from Moscow ‘stating that the new decision of the Executive was: sharp struggle against Serrati’. Negotiations between Serrati and the ECCI representatives in Livorno (Mátyás Rákosi and Khristo Kabakchiev) and Serrati’s discussions with Levi came to nothing. Graziadei proposed to the Communist Faction that it soften the wording of its expulsion ultimatum; this was refused.
The Livorno Congress lasted through a full week (15–21 January) of tumultuous proceedings. When Kabakchiev rose to present the ECCI’s message, he was booed by the Unitarians; when he said those not voting for the Communist Faction’s motion would be expelled from the Comintern, there were sarcastic cries, ‘Viva il papa [pope]’. Kabakchiev argued that the situation in Italy was ripe for revolution; in case of delay, the bourgeoisie would move to attack. By opposing expulsion of the reformists, he said, Serrati was blocking the revolution. Unitarian delegates countered that the ECCI was misreading the objective situation.
The congress vote gave the Unitarians a comfortable majority, with 98,028 mandates; the Communists received 58,783 and Turati’s Socialist Concentration, 14,695. The Left thereupon walked out and organised itself as the Communist Party of Italy (PCI); the ECCI immediately recognised it as the Comintern’s Italian section. The remainder of the congress pledged its loyalty to the Comintern and resolved to appeal its expulsion to the Third Congress.
The split cost the Comintern most of its proletarian base in Italy. In the trade-union congress held two months later, the PCI’s support was 23 percent. During its campaign for the 15 May parliamentary elections, the PCI aimed its main fire against the Socialists; the Communist vote, however, was less than a fifth that of the PSI. The discrepancy in membership was persistent: in late 1921, PCI membership was 43,000; that of the PSI, 107,000.
Far from advancing to socialist revolution after the Livorno Congress, Italy was gripped by increasingly murderous violence against the workers’ movement by Fascist forces led by Benito Mussolini. Starting in the northern countryside and then spreading into the towns, the Fascist attacks were a one-sided civil war, breaking up workers’ and peasants’ organisations, dissolving socialist municipal administrations, and killing Socialist and Communist activists. Despite widespread unemployment caused by an economic crash, workers often responded with strike action and formed anti-Fascist alliances on a local level. However, Fascist gangs, made up of full-time fighters, financed by leading capitalists, and assured of neutrality or support by the police and army, had military superiority sufficient to beat back such spontaneous and isolated resistance.
The national union organisations failed to respond to the threat, while the PSI relied on the very state agencies that were backing the Fascists. The Communist Party recognised the danger and formed anti-Fascist fighting units, but it took no steps to unite against the threat with workers aligned with non-Communist currents. Bordiga, the dominant voice in the PCI leadership, opposed defence of ‘bourgeois legality’, which he saw as compatible with fascism. By the time of the Third Congress, workers had independently organised a national anti-Fascist defence league, the Arditi del Popolo (People’s Commandos), but the Arditi were opposed by both the PCI and PSI.
The Comintern’s emergence in Czechoslovakia resembled the pattern in France, although it was shaped by a quite different political landscape. Czechoslovakia was pieced together in 1919 by the Versailles Treaty from territories with Czech, German, Slovakian, and Ruthenian populations, each with their own socialist parties. The Czechoslovak Communist Party emerged from a fusion and regroupment process embracing roughly four hundred thousand members.
In 1920, revolutionary forces gained a majority in the Czech Social Democratic Party, whose right wing responded by splitting the movement. Two-thirds of local organisations sent delegates to the September party congress organised by the Left. The congress gave overwhelming support to the Marxist Left, a current led by Bohumir Šmeral, that included both revolutionary and centrist forces. While favourable to the Comintern, the Marxist Left did not endorse the Twenty-One Conditions and stressed the need to guard party unity and continuity with the prewar Social Democracy. In early November, the ECCI called on the Czech Left party to take the name Communist and to unify with pro-Comintern forces of other Czechoslovak nationalities.
The right-wing splitters held their own congress at the end of November, claiming to represent the party’s continuity. A legal war ensued over ownership of party property and assets. The rightists called in the police, who on 9 December evicted the Left party from its headquarters in Prague. Left unions called a protest strike, which grew to embrace about one million workers across the country, who seized factories and formed councils in some locations. The strike was broken after a week by military repression.
The strike heightened the impression among many revolutionary-minded workers that the party was ill-equipped to lead in the social confrontation that now seemed imminent. The resulting debate raged on even as the party slowly moved toward Comintern affiliation. Membership discussion of the Twenty-One Conditions began in February; the Central Committee adopted the conditions in March; they were then endorsed by a 96 percent vote in a party referendum. A 14–16 May 1921 congress in Prague, including representatives from Slovakia and Ruthenia, voted almost unanimously to join the Comintern. The still-separate German-speaking Communists, who organised at a 12–15 March gathering in Reichenberg (Liberec), were a bastion of leftist criticism of Šmeral and his party.
The debate in Czechoslovakia, as in Italy, France, and Germany, focused on objective conditions. All agreed that theirs was a revolutionary epoch, but would its climax come quickly – perhaps in months – or only after longer preparation? Šmeral wrote in April that the party was transitioning from a time of immediate assault to a war of position, a formulation criticised at the Third Congress by Radek and later utilised by Gramsci. Šmeral’s report to the May congress elaborated on this theme: he called for drawing the masses into the struggle and avoiding adventures, while criticising the ECCI for harmful interventions in Italy and Germany. The Reichenberg Communists published excerpts from the report in German, a slanted selection aimed at arousing mistrust in Šmeral. It was this version that circulated among Comintern leaders in Moscow and was cited by Lenin in the Third Congress.
The activity of Hungarian emissaries of the ECCI provided a further irritant in the Czechoslovak debate. In March 1921, Béla Kun convened a meeting with reluctant Czechoslovak party representatives in Berlin. Rákosi and Gyula Alpári toured Bohemia urging local leaders to oppose Šmeral, impelling leaders of its party to lodge a collective protest with the ECCI.
c. The German Party Turns Left
The exiled Hungarian leaders, writing in the Vienna-based German-language journal, Kommunismus, had emerged in 1920 as the main voice of a leftist current within the Comintern. After the Second Congress, when the Comintern began to flesh out the ECCI into an effective apparatus, member parties were reluctant to withdraw central leaders from party responsibilities for a Moscow assignment. The exiled Hungarian comrades, however, were available, and their drive to ‘activate’ the Central European comrades overlapped with the leanings of Zinoviev, Bukharin, and, to some extent, Radek, the most authoritative Bolshevik leaders carrying day-to-day responsibility for Comintern work. The ECCI’s impatience for party initiatives in action was on full display in its response to a major initiative by the German party, its 8 January 1921 ‘Open Letter to German Workers’ Organisations’ (see Appendix 1a).
In the Open Letter, the VKPD proposed to join with all workers’ parties and trade unions in united action to sustain the incomes of working people, rein in prices for workers’ necessities, and secure their supply of foodstuffs, noting that these were immediate and basic demands that all currents in the workers’ movement claimed to support. The Open Letter proposal was drawn up by Radek and Levi, but they did not originate it. As Radek candidly admitted to the German leadership, ‘If I were in Moscow, this idea would never even come to me’. The initiative came in fact from the VKPD local organisation in Stuttgart, responding to the yearning for unity among non-Communist workers. Late in 1920, a meeting representing 26,000 Stuttgart metalworkers called for joint struggle for a short list of basic demands; the appeal was published 10 December 1920. It was the first formulation of the united front policy that the Comintern was to adopt a year and eight days later.
Leaders of all major German workers’ organisations rejected the Open Letter, but the Communists carried their appeal to the ranks, where it gained significant support. The trade-union leadership felt compelled to issue its own list of demands, which the VKPD then supported, demanding concerted action. The Communist initiative was opposed, however, by the KAPD; by Ruth Fischer, Maslow, and their leftist opposition within the VKPD; and – within the ECCI’s Small Bureau (its day-to-day leadership body) – by Zinoviev and Bukharin (see Appendix 1b). The Bureau condemned the Open Letter, but the decision was set aside, on Lenin’s insistence, and the matter was referred to the Third Congress.
Only two weeks after the Open Letter’s publication, Paul Levi and his closest collaborators exited the VKPD leadership. The immediate issue was not German policy but the implications of the split in Italy. Reporting to the German Central Committee on February 24, Levi criticised the ECCI’s conduct in Livorno, insisting that ‘it was possible in Italy to separate the right wing from the party without losing the masses’. Even if that meant tolerating Serrati in the International, Levi said, ‘the price was not too high’. He also protested that the ECCI should not be carrying out splits in Comintern member parties.
Rákosi, representing the ECCI, rallied a majority of the German party’s Central Committee for its Italian policy. Praising the Livorno outcome, he told the German leaders that the German and French parties were too large and needed to be cleansed or trimmed down. The ECCI envoy seemed to be announcing an international Livorno-type offensive against all those with views similar to Levi. Radek, addressing the Zentrale a few days later, conceded that the outcome in Italy had been somewhat unfavourable. The real issue, he said, was Levi’s supposedly hostile attitude to the ECCI and its policies. This argument appears to have been decisive in enabling Rákosi to win the Central Committee vote 28 to 23. Levi, Zetkin, and three supporters quit the Zentrale. A new team took the helm, including Meyer, Thalheimer, Eberlein, and Brandler, determined to steer the German party toward bolder initiatives in action.
The events in Germany during the six weeks that followed became the main focus of discussion at the Third Congress. While the new leadership struggled to turn the party onto a more radical course, at about the beginning of March, an unanticipated and unusually authoritative ECCI delegation arrived in Berlin. Its members included Béla Kun; his Hungarian colleague Jószef Pogány; and August Guralski, a veteran of the Jewish Bund in Ukraine and recent recruit to the Bolshevik Party. All three were identified with the Comintern’s leftist wing. This mission, barely mentioned in the Third Congress, had a major impact on the events in Germany debated there.
There is no record of who sent the ECCI envoys or why. The VKPD delegate to the ECCI, Curt Geyer, though resident in Moscow, was unaware of the mission. The decision was likely taken by Zinoviev, perhaps with his close collaborators, although there is no evidence that Lenin or Trotsky was involved. When the envoys departed, Levi’s resignation was as yet unknown in Moscow. A 14 March letter by Radek reflects his thinking just after the mission departed (see Appendix 2a).
The mission appears to have been an attempt to respond to three simultaneous crises in Germany’s international relations:
- A threatened French occupation of a sector of the Ruhr region, the heart of German heavy industry, which did in fact take place on 8 March.
- Demands by the Allied powers that Germany disarm rightist militias, which were protected by Gustav von Kahr’s far-right government in Bavaria.
- A struggle between Polish and German militias for control of an industrial region, Upper Silesia, which threatened to escalate into war between the two countries.
Zinoviev may have suggested that the three envoys do what they could to encourage opposition to Levi, a task for which they needed no urging. But on arrival, finding that Levi had already been replaced, they busied themselves by urging a more active policy on German leaders of all currents. A few weeks later, Levi summarised what Kun had told him:
Russia finds itself in an extremely difficult situation. It is unconditionally necessary for the burden on Russia to be relieved by movements in the West, and, for this reason, the German Party must immediately step into action. The VKPD now counted half a million members, and this would make it possible to put one and a half million proletarians on the streets, enough to overthrow the government. The struggle should, therefore, immediately begin with the slogan: overthrow the government.
Zetkin confirmed Levi’s account. Béla Kun told Lenin that these reports were lies, but his own account confirms them in broad outline (see Appendix 2e).
Kun’s insistence on the need for the German party to launch immediate confrontational action is not found in statements by ECCI leaders at that time, which focus on countering Levi’s policies. Kun’s initiative most likely reflects the synergy of his encounter with the new leftist VKPD leadership, already inclined toward launching a confrontational action, as well as with the leftist faction led by Friesland, Maslow, and Fischer and with the KAPD. The subsequent March Action disaster was termed by historian Marie-Luise Goldbach ‘an industrial accident incidental to factional intrigue in the party, exacerbated by the Moscow emissary’. Pierre Broué suggests, ‘[T]he most likely explanation is that Kun acted on his own initiative, in the conviction that he would have the support and approval of the ECCI.’
d. The March Action
The new course of the VKPD Zentrale found expression in its statement on the reparations crisis published 4 March. Neither rejection nor acceptance of the Allied demands will help the working class, the Zentrale declared; ‘help will come only from a direct struggle to overthrow the German bourgeois government.’ The new line was presented to a Central Committee meeting held 16–17 March. Brandler, reporting on party tasks, predicted a rapid escalation of the external and domestic conflicts pressing on the German state, expressed confidence that the VKPD could rally three million workers in struggle for its demands, and called on the party to move into action. He then addressed a just-published announcement by Otto Hörsing, governor of Prussian Saxony, that large police contingents were about to occupy this Central German industrial region, which was a stronghold of the VKPD and revolutionary working class. Brandler suggested that the VKPD might be able to initiate a general strike in the region, perhaps after the 25–28 March Easter holiday.
No specific decision was taken, but the mood of the meeting was suggested by Frölich’s statement, reported by Radek to the Third Congress, ‘Previously we waited, but now we will seize the initiative and force the revolution.’ And even as Brandler spoke, Die Rote Fahne had already responded on 17 March with its own appeal calling on German workers to ‘emerge from their passivity…. The proletariat must smash the invading forces….’
According to historian Sigrid Koch-Baumgarten, publication of this appeal was the first move by a group of Communists acting outside the official leadership bodies and confronting them with one fait accompli after another. The group, convened by Kun, included the three ECCI emissaries; three of the more leftist Zentrale members; two representatives of the KAPD, which had decided to attempt a national uprising; and a member of the syndicalist General Workers Union of Germany (AAUD). Possessing effective control of the VKPD’s main newspaper, Die Rote Fahne, through Ernst Meyer and Frölich, the group pressed for a more radical, confrontationist course than that favoured by the Zentrale. In the days that followed, the ECCI team sent Guralsky to Central Germany and, it seems, Pogány to Hamburg to help direct the party’s intervention in these major arenas of combat. Another provocative article in Die Rote Fahne, several times cited in the Third Congress, was written by Béla Kun and published 18 March. It seized on rightist threats in Bavaria as the occasion to declare, ‘Every worker must flout the law and take up arms, wherever he can find them.’ Despite a protest from the Zentrale majority, Die Rote Fahne continued to write in this vein.
On Saturday 19 March, Hörsing’s heavily armed detachments marched ostentatiously into the industrial towns of Central Germany, supposedly to suppress ‘thievery’. Although the operation’s real and evident purpose was to disarm and intimidate revolutionary workers, police contingents at first avoided confrontation. The regional VKPD’s 18 March appeal to workers to strike if police entered their factories thus remained without effect. Nonetheless, local VKPD leaders called strikes beginning Monday, 21 March, and the walkouts spread quickly. On 22 March, Max Hoelz, the leader of a small armed workers’ detachment formed during the Kapp struggle and a KAPD member, addressed a meeting of several thousand workers in Eisleben calling on them to begin armed resistance. When workers exited the meeting, police moved in to make arrests. A running battle ensued, and armed resistance continued the next day. Armed or semi-armed contingents of workers embraced some 2,500 workers in total, 400 of them led by Hoelz. However, the insurrectionary movement did not spread beyond the region; within ten days it was crushed by militarised police with murderous brutality.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the VKPD’s military wing in Central Germany, headed initially by Guralsky and then by Eberlein, planned bombings and kidnappings designed to expand and intensify the armed conflict. With the local political leadership opposed and technical means lacking, not much came of these efforts except heated subsequent controversy.
In Hamburg, the VKPD launched its own action, with KAPD support. Several hundred unemployed workers occupied a dock works on 23 March demanding jobs, supported by a demonstration of two thousand workers. The police fired on the workers, killing 22 and wounding 42. By the end of the day, the movement was defeated. That night, the German government declared a state of siege and suspended civil liberties in Prussian Saxony and Hamburg.
The following day, 24 March (Thursday), the VKPD declared a general strike across all Germany. The VKPD appeal focused on the war danger in Upper Silesia and the nationwide threat of repression and counterrevolution. The slaughter of workers in Central Germany and Hamburg received only the briefest mention. The appeal’s demands ranged from ‘jobs to the jobless’ and ‘organisation of production by workers’ and union committees’ to ‘obstruct transport of troops and weaponry’. The timing was awkward – the day before the Easter holiday. The strike was opposed by the SPD and the rump USPD as well as by almost all their members.
In the Central German district of Halle-Merseburg, where walkouts were already widespread, the strike was widely observed. Walkouts took place in parts of the Ruhr district. Elsewhere, the strike had little success. In session 5, Heinrich Malzahn of the German opposition estimated that strikers totalled only two hundred thousand – just over half the party’s pre-March membership – a figure not challenged in the congress. Due to the strength of opposition among workers, the strike took on the character of a fratricidal struggle. Indeed, in many instances, Communists battled non-Communists among the workforce; in some cases workers were cleared out of the workplace by force. These fratricidal clashes received one mention in the congress, when the KAPD delegate Sachs, defending the VKPD’s strike initiative, said that ‘during the March Action broad masses turned against those in struggle, not only with words but by wielding iron bars in the factories to drive out those who called for a strike’. Even the VKPD’s own initial assessment of the March Action, adopted by its Central Committee 7–8 April, presented it as a struggle within the working class (see Appendix 2b). By the end of March the movement was defeated; the VKPD officially called off the strike on April 1.
Legacy of defeat
The repression that crushed the March Action was sweeping and harsh. Six thousand workers were arrested and four thousand sentenced to jail terms, including eight to life imprisonment; there were four death sentences. About 150 members of the VKPD were killed. Thousands of revolutionary workers were dismissed from their jobs. Social democratic union leaders campaigned against VKPD ‘putschism’, ousting Communists from many of their positions of union influence. Distrust of the VKPD was now widespread even among radical non-Communist workers. Amid the dislocation caused by defeat and repression, the party’s membership, as measured by dues payments, fell to about 180,000 in mid-1921, roughly half the level of early in the year.
The VKPD majority leadership, however, hailed the action as a success and promised more of the same. In a pamphlet published by the Zentrale 4–5 April, Thalheimer wrote:
The March Action as an isolated initiative would be a crime against the proletariat. To this degree our opponents are right. However, the March offensive as introduction to a series of increasingly intense actions is a liberating deed.
The Zentrale’s pamphlet also stated:
The party’s slogan must therefore be: Offensive, offensive, whatever the cost, by every means, in every situation that offers serious chances of success.
On 7 April, the Central Committee adopted by a 26 to 14 vote theses that stated: ‘Workers have been aroused out of stagnation and idle submission…. The final result has been to deepen and broaden the effectiveness of propaganda for communism’ (see Appendix 2b). The theses acknowledged that the March Action represented a conflict within the working class, and insisted that its method must be continued, presenting a theoretical justification that became known as the ‘Theory of the Offensive’.
Theses for the minority were introduced by Zetkin at the 7 April plenum (see Appendix 2c). Agreeing that conditions had been present for ‘intensified activity’ and an ‘offensive’, she insisted that the proper response lay in the method of the Open Letter and the demand for Germany’s alliance with Soviet Russia. Her theses, which strongly condemned the March Action in its entirety, were defeated by a vote of six for, forty-four against. The party leadership undertook to tighten discipline, ousting many minority supporters from positions of influence. Nonetheless, within a few weeks, even while asserting the Theory of the Offensive and without any encouragement from the ECCI, the party began to return to the method of the Open Letter, urging united action to implement the union federation’s official demands, building support for victims of oppression, and seeking unity in May Day actions.
On 12 April, Paul Levi published his condemnation of the March Action as a pamphlet, ‘Our Path: Against Putschism’. Basing himself on Marx’s writings against Bakunin, Levi described ‘putschism’ as setting the revolutionary nucleus against the working class, in the spirit of ‘who is not for us is against us’ – a theme found in many articles in the VKPD press. Levi provided many examples where Communists had fought factory workers in order to drive them from their workplaces. He also strongly attacked the ECCI’s conduct in Germany and elsewhere, terming it at one point ‘a Cheka projected beyond the Russian frontiers’. He omitted a good deal of damning material – Kun’s role, for example, and Eberlein’s dynamiting initiatives in Central Germany – but still, Levi’s pamphlet was a stinging, frontal attack on the party’s leadership and conduct. The public nature of Levi’s article, as well as its tone, caused outrage among many party members. Three days later, the Zentrale expelled Levi from the VKPD for ‘gross disloyalty and severe damage to the party’.
Reaction in Moscow
On receiving initial news of the March struggles, the ECCI in Moscow greeted the fact that German workers had gone into battle ‘in an attempt to bring to an end the rule of the German exploiters’ for the first time since 1919. ‘You acted rightly!’, the ECCI stated. ‘Prepare for new struggles.’ 
A letter by Lenin to Levi and Zetkin, sent 16 April, struck a different note (see Appendix 2d). While declining to state an opinion on the March Action, Lenin said, referring to Béla Kun, ‘I readily believe the representative of the Executive Committee defended stupid tactics,… [he] is very often too leftist.’ Written before receiving news of Levi’s pamphlet, the letter urged Levi not to publish his critique but rather to seek rectification through the ECCI and the coming world congress. Delivery of Lenin’s letter was blocked by an ECCI representative in Berlin. On Lenin’s insistence, it was finally forwarded in mid-May. Meanwhile, a pamphlet by Radek, completed 18 April, gave further evidence of a shift in the ECCI. While directing its main fire against Levi, it made several criticisms of the VKPD leadership’s conduct, including its failure to focus the action ‘on the demand for withdrawal of Hörsing’s measures and for arming the workers’ guards’. On 29 April, the ECCI, in backing Levi’s expulsion, said this action was correct ‘even if he were nine-tenths right’. The statement declined to express an opinion on the March Action and referred the question to the coming World Congress.
On 3–5 May, the VKPD Central Committee drew up theses for the World Congress, reasserting in more guarded form the need to ‘move from the defensive to the offensive’. The theses stated that ‘despite inadequacies the VKPD’s March Action was an initial step to break with the past and … to win the leadership of the masses.’
About that time, Zinoviev announced to the world movement that the World Congress was being held earlier than originally planned, primarily in order to grapple with a right-wing current that had emerged, he said, in Italy (Serrati), Germany (Levi), and Czechoslovakia (Šmeral). In fact, however, the Bolshevik leaders of the Comintern were divided in their assessment of the International’s tasks, as Radek explained to the Russian delegation to the congress only one day before the congress opened. The disagreement had arisen, he said, because ‘neither Lenin nor Trotsky was in a position to follow the course of this work’. They had objected to the actions of Zinoviev, Bukharin, and Radek, ‘demanding that we pay more attention to the left danger’ (see Appendix 3h).
Trotsky later explained his and Lenin’s outlook as follows:
There was danger at that time that the policy of the Comintern would follow the line of the March 1921 events in Germany. That is, the attempt to create a revolutionary situation artificially…. That mood was the prevailing one at the congress. Vladimir Ilyich [Lenin] came to the conclusion that, following this course, the International would most certainly go to smash.
e. The Contending Forces Meet in Moscow
Delegates from abroad reached Moscow during a time of great tension and uncertainty in Soviet Russia. The country was just beginning to recover from a deep trauma of famine, worker unrest, and revolt, while the New Economic Policy (NEP), which authorised a limited reintroduction of a market economy, began to unfold. Those arriving for the first time noted the fresh wounds of civil war and economic dislocation. A Hungarian delegate recalled how a coal shortage forced his train’s crew to halt frequently and chop wood to burn in the locomotive. Jules Humbert-Droz wrote that peasants, selling goods in Moscow, would accept only cigarettes as currency, since banknotes were not trusted. Serge, however, who had lived through worse times in Moscow, recalled that ‘from one week to the next, the famine and the speculation were diminishing perceptibly’. But the NEP generated talk that capitalism was returning; ‘the confusion among the [Communist] party rank-and-file was staggering’, Serge stated.
Among the arriving delegates, the prevailing mood was one of support for the line of March 1921; dissent was found mainly among the German ‘right’ opposition and forces in the Czechoslovak, French, and Yugoslav leaderships.
The Russian leaders held considerable political authority, but initially they were divided. And even if the Russian delegation rallied against the ‘leftist’ mood, it could not count on majority support. In a roll-call vote, delegations from Russia and allied soviet republics made up only 13 percent of the total. The limits of the Russian delegates’ voting sway was indicated in the one divided roll-call vote held during the congress. Despite combined opposition by the delegations from soviet republics plus the German delegation and its leftist allies, a motion by the French delegation on selection of the ECCI’s Small Bureau succeeded in winning 37 percent of the tally.
The mood of the congress shifted gradually during weeks of intensive discussions before and during the congress, in corridor discussions, informal gatherings, ECCI sessions, commission meetings, and the congress proceedings themselves. The burdens of Soviet leadership did not prevent Lenin, Trotsky, Bukharin, Radek, and Zinoviev from intensive involvement in the congress. Together with three non-Russian Communists, two of whom did not address the congress, they exerted a strong influence on the gathering.
Seven leading figures
Lenin played a decisive role in the main congress debate. According to a later memoir by Bulgarian Communist Vasil Kolarov, Radek had predicted before the congress that Lenin would be too preoccupied with Russian domestic issues to concern himself with the congress, and the leftist position would therefore triumph. But for Lenin, the congress debate assumed supreme importance. Referring in session 11 to the leftist position, Lenin declared, ‘[S]omething is wrong in the International…. [W]e must say: Stop! We must wage a decisive struggle! Otherwise the Communist International is lost.’ When not in formal sessions, Lenin was often seen deep in discussion with delegates. Both Serge and Alfred Rosmer recall him chasing down delegates unknown to him and ardently explaining his views, so rapt in discussion that he missed meal-time; Radek stepped in to fetch Lenin a plate of food. Lenin’s passionate indignation is evident in his 10 June warning to Zinoviev (Appendix 3a), ‘You will spoil everything’. Radek ‘has spoilt his original draft’ of this theses on tactics and strategy by ‘concessions to “leftist” silliness’; anyone who does not soon accept the Open Letter policy (so decisively rejected in February by Zinoviev himself) ‘should be expelled’; Lenin warns that he is ready for an ‘open fight’ at the congress. Ruth Fischer later recalled the ‘fever of emotional indignation’ against Lenin among leftist delegates, who talked freely of his opportunism. Seeking to counter possible personal resentment, Lenin twice during the congress wrote delegates to retract his harsh language (appendices 3e and 4c). But on the main issues, he was adamant. In comments to the VKPD a month after the congress, Lenin was even more emphatic. ‘It was necessary to have been on the right wing’ at the congress, he wrote (see Appendix 4h). Eight months later, he added ‘I was on the extreme right flank…. I did all I could to defend Levi.’ Subsequent events, Lenin added, had shown that Levi ‘took the Menshevik path not accidentally, not temporarily,… but deliberately and permanently, because of his very nature.’
Trotsky wrote ‘notes for myself’ on the March Action, dated 18 April, that stood midway between Lenin’s view and that of the ECCI majority. However, at the congress Trotsky fully supported Lenin’s views. He provided the factual and theoretical basis to refute the Theory of the Offensive in his 2½-hour opening report (session 2). His speech on tactics and strategy (session 14) provided a categorical refutation of the leftist view. Trotsky’s report to Lenin on this session reflects the two leaders’ partnership during the congress (Appendix 4a). Trotsky was singled out by the Left, both during and after the congress, as having advanced the views with which they most emphatically disagreed.
Zinoviev shifted position during the congress visibly and significantly. His opening reports (sessions 1 and 4) maintained that the congress’s central purpose was to combat the Right, a formula used to downplay criticism of leftism in the March Action and elsewhere. In session 14, however, he acknowledged that he had changed his view, speaking of balanced left and right dangers in terms that Radek had previously identified to the Russian delegates as the Lenin-Trotsky viewpoint. Zinoviev also appealed strongly for reconciliation and avoidance of a further split in the German party. However, while shifting his position on the main political issue, Zinoviev avoided discussion of the ECCI’s role in the German calamity.
Radek spoke often in the congress, defending the ECCI viewpoint on a wide range of questions, but his role was nonetheless ambiguous. Initially aligned with Zinoviev and Bukharin in support of leftist forces, Radek shifted during the congress to a position intermediate between them and Lenin-Trotsky. Radek continued his campaign against Levi, and he defended the VKPD majority against its critics. Yet Radek also advocated for the course of the Open Letter, which he had advanced jointly with Levi. He also clarified this initiative by explaining the concept of transitional demands, which had arisen earlier in the German mass movement but whose codification was a central political achievement of the congress. Radek also provided the most explicit acknowledgement that the ECCI’s position had shifted in the course of the congress.
Three non-Russian Communists also shaped the congress debates: Zetkin, the absent Paul Levi, and the mostly silent Béla Kun.
Zetkin was the object of intense personal denigration by some leftist delegates, who sought to undermine her political reputation (see appendices 2e, 3c, 3j, 3k) and even suggested her expulsion. Nonetheless, she held detailed discussions with Lenin (appendices 3i, 4f) and with Trotsky.<For Trotsky meeting: app 3j p. 2> Among delegates of the German opposition, she carried the main load in presenting the congress with an indictment of the March Action. According to Friesland, when the Russian leaders ultimately rejected the German delegation’s leftist views, the German majority delegates, resentful and embittered, ‘placed the blame for this above all on the influence of Clara Zetkin over Lenin’. Zetkin also shaped the congress’s brief discussion and adoption of three resolutions on work among women. Harshly assailed during congress sessions, Zetkin was then honoured by a unique tribute on the occasion of her birthday, led off by Heckert, her most vociferously aggressive German opponent.
Paul Levi, although absent from the congress, succeeded, through his critique of the VKPD leadership, in setting a framework for the March Action debate that dominated its proceedings. Measures were taken to reduce the impact of Levi’s views, such as by pushing through a vote endorsing Levi’s ouster, despite opposition protests, before delegates could discuss the actions of the VKPD and ECCI leaders that he had been expelled for criticising. Levi’s appeal to the congress demanding reversal of his expulsion (Appendix 2f) was apparently not made available to delegates; it is not found in congress records. Nonetheless, Levi’s views were widely known, and the course of congress discussions vindicated the core of his criticism. On this basis, at the close of the congress, Zetkin and Lenin initiated an effort, ultimately unsuccessful, to save Levi for the International, recorded in appendices 4f, 4g, and 4h.
Béla Kun’s prominence among the International’s first-rank leaders is reflected in his haughty letter to Lenin defending his conduct in Berlin (Appendix 2e), his role as co-author (with Thalheimer) of the VKPD theses submitted to the congress, his blunt refutation of Trotsky in the pre-congress ECCI debate on France (Appendix 3f), and his last-minute procedural motion attempting to undercut the impact of Trotsky’s summary on the Theses on Tactics and Strategy. He was under sharp attack during the discussions in Moscow, especially from Lenin (Appendix 2d). Lenin dismissed Kun’s views with cutting scorn in the ECCI France debate (Appendix 3f), and Lenin’s sarcastic references to Béla Kun’s blunders (les bêtises de Béla Kun), although toned down in the stenographic transcript, echoed in congress corridor discussion. Aside from one procedural motion, Kun kept a prudent silence in congress debates. There was much to please him in the congress outcome: the criticisms of his conduct were not aired on the congress floor; his role in the March Action debacle was not mentioned; and he preserved his role in the Comintern’s day-to-day leadership.
Debate among Bolshevik leaders
Although Lenin had expressed doubts about the March Action as early as mid-April (Appendix 2d), his differences with Zinoviev, Bukharin, and Radek remained unresolved as the congress convened. As late as 10 June, Lenin told Zinoviev that Radek had spoilt his initial draft of the Theses on Tactics and Strategy through concessions to the leftists (Appendix 3a). Lenin voted with Trotsky and Lev Kamenev on the five-member Bolshevik Political Bureau to set the line of the Bolshevik delegation against conciliation with leftism. On 21 June, the day before the congress opened, the Politburo decided to publish the Russian leadership’s draft theses on tactics and strategy, which incorporated the Lenin-Trotsky position. Nonetheless, Radek’s report to the Russian delegation that day presented the Russian leaders as divided into two blocs (Appendix 3h). According to Radek, he, Zinoviev, and Bukharin believed the overriding threat to the International was posed by ‘opportunist forces’ – the key contention of the leftist wing. Lenin and Trotsky’s view that leftist dangers must also be combated rested on insufficient information, Radek said, claiming that he, Zinoviev, and Bukharin had made concessions only to avoid a damaging public rupture.
The Russian leaders carried their disagreement, in muted form, into the congress itself. While giving ground, Zinoviev, Bukharin, and Radek still defended their leftist allies. On 29 June, the day before Radek gave the main report on tactics and strategy, the Russian party’s Political Bureau took the unusual step of instructing its delegates to reject the leftist amendments and to speak in the congress along these lines. When the discussion of tactics and strategy concluded on 2 July, the Russian leaders joined in supporting a compromise text worked out with the leftists in commission and designed to win support from the entire congress. Even so, Zinoviev, Trotsky, and Radek presented what were in essence separate summaries of the discussion, and Trotsky’s talk, strongly criticising leftist errors, was protested in a written statement by six delegations. The next day, Trotsky reported to Lenin that Zinoviev and Radek had protested his speech as a ‘bomb’ that violated the agreement among Russian leaders (Appendix 4a). The incident was smoothed over, and the Russian leadership united behind the edited theses, which were unanimously adopted.
f. Disputes over National Parties
The debate took shape in large measure in terms of policy toward four national parties, those in Italy, Germany, Czechoslovakia, and France. The leftist current in the congress sought to rid the Comintern of ‘opportunist’ leaders in these countries. Much preparatory discussion took place outside formal congress sessions, whose outcome flowed into the congress and shaped its resolutions.
The discussion on Italy was occasioned by the appeal of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) against its expulsion from the International following the split at the PSI’s January 1921 Livorno Congress. On the eve of the congress, Zinoviev responded to this appeal with a flat condemnation of the PSI as a non-Communist, centrist current, and in his opening report, he documented at length the PSI leadership’s centrist positions. Egidio Gennari, representing the Italian Communist Party’s delegation, spoke further in this vein, demanding the expulsion of the PSI pure and simple. In the discussion on Italy, delegates of the PSI and the Comintern parties largely repeated arguments heard in Livorno. Comments by Lenin, Trotsky, and Christian Rakovsky, however, left open the possibility of reunification, if the PSI expelled its reformist current, and this view was codified in the resolution on the Executive Committee report adopted in session 9. Zetkin, supporting this proposal, identified it with her controversial stand immediately after the Livorno Congress. Zinoviev’s summary on Italy was not entirely in the spirit of the resolution, but its line was strongly presented in the post-congress ECCI appeal.
The Italian CP did not fully agree with the outcome of the congress, creating a discord that was to last for several years. The PSI, for its part, eventually acted on the Third Congress resolution, expelling its reformist wing in October 1922, but the party leadership subsequently failed to win a majority of its members for fusion with the Comintern, and only a minority later became part of the Italian Communist Party.
Much less attention was paid during the congress to the capitalist offensive against Italian workers, the menacing rise of Italian Fascism, and Fascism’s violent attacks on workers’ organisations. The adopted theses on tactics and strategy made only brief mention of the need to resist Fascism. Zinoviev’s closing remarks revealed the Comintern leadership’s ignorance of conditions in Italy: he hailed the Communists’ leading role in a united anti-Fascist action in Rome, unaware that the Italian Communist Party had stood aside from this initiative.
German delegates, expecting their March Action to be hailed by the Third Congress, were stunned on their arrival in Moscow to be greeted by a torrent of criticism. Their strenuous pre-congress debate with ECCI leaders, and with Lenin in particular, has left few written records. The dispute then moved into the congress, where it dominated the proceedings. Zetkin and other German opposition representatives (who were not part of the official delegation) argued their views strongly, while the German majority drew on support from the Communist Youth International, the Italian CP, and several other delegations. Debate was unrestrained with one major exception: aside from provocative allusions by Zetkin, the ECCI delegation’s role in the German debacle was barely mentioned at the congress. Debate centred on the Theses on Tactics and Strategy drafted by the Russian party; the VKPD withdrew its own draft and instead submitted extensive amendments, which were rejected by the Russian delegation as constituting a counterposed political line. To permit comparison, the amendments are printed in this edition alongside the corresponding portions of the ultimately adopted version.
No record is available of the decisive 15 June meeting between the German delegation and the Russian party’s Political Bureau. One delegate subsequently recalled it as ‘a godawful battering on every side’. We do have, however, the German delegation’s response to this meeting (Appendix 3d), sent the next day, withdrawing its draft theses and proposing the outline of a compromise decision on the German question that resulted from the previous day’s discussion. On the same day, Lenin wrote the German delegation’s leaders retracting harsh language he had used in the previous day’s discussion (Appendix 3e). Amendments to the theses by the German, Austrian, and Italian delegates were presented 1 July; Neumann and Zetkin also submitted an amendment, for which no text is available. Its general thrust was presumably similar to the views expressed by Zetkin in her 18 June letter to Lenin (see Appendix 3g). On 9 July, the delegation met with opposition representatives and with five Russian Central Committee members and worked out the shape of what became known as the ‘peace treaty’ between the two German factions (Appendix 4d). The congress also adopted a resolution on ‘The March Action and the Situation in the VKPD’ and a passage on the March Action in the ‘Theses on Tactics and Strategy’.
When delegates of the Czechoslovak Communist Party arrived in Moscow, they faced a barrage of criticism from ECCI members of their party’s course. The first draft of the Theses on Tactics and Strategy, drafted by Radek on 15 May, condemned the Šmeral leadership as a centrist current passively awaiting revolution. During the 12–16 June sessions of the Expanded Executive, Bukharin called the Czechoslovak leaders’ conduct an expression of pure opportunism and Zinoviev said their duplicity rivalled that of Serrati. In response, Edmund Burian, head of the delegation, informed Lenin that if things continued in this vein, the delegation would withdraw the party’s application to join the Comintern. Lenin, while expressing criticisms of Šmeral, sought to halt the drive toward split. On 10 June, he requested documentation regarding Šmeral’s role and objected to terming his policy one of passive waiting. Nonetheless, the second draft of the theses preserved the condemnation of the Šmeral leadership, which drew a protest from the Czechoslovak delegation.
When the congress convened on 22 June, the Czechoslovak dispute was still unresolved. On 25 June, Zinoviev read into the congress record his polemic against Šmeral given at the 14 June ECCI meeting. The following day, Gennari presented the Italian delegation’s call for Šmeral to be barred from leadership positions. Šmeral himself arrived in Moscow 29 June. On 1 July, Burian presented to the congress the protest he had submitted to the ECCI on 16 June. No written records of commission discussions on Czechoslovakia are available, except for a short summary of a 6 July speech by Lenin (Appendix 4b). Following that speech, a motion by Lenin was adopted that removed the critical statement regarding Šmeral and called for a letter to the Czechoslovak party criticising weaknesses of both the Šmeral current and the leftist forces. The congress’s decisions on the Czechoslovak Communist movement are found in the resolution on the ECCI report and the Theses on Tactics and Strategy.
Although conditions in the French party offered ample grounds for leftist criticism, it had been shielded from attack – and its leaders had been omitted from the habitual ‘Serrati-Levi-Šmeral’ listing of presumed centrists – by the ECCI’s policy of dealing with the party in what Zinoviev termed ‘a more cautious and conciliatory manner’. Nonetheless, the pre-congress sessions of the Expanded Executive witnessed two tempests of controversy over the French party.
Initially, after Zinoviev’s opening report, the French delegates demanded an immediate accounting from the ECCI of its involvement in the March Action. Zinoviev responded that this would be taken up in due course during discussion of this topic. This did not satisfy the French leaders, who pressed their case. A heated exchange took place, in which Radek and Kun made provocative remarks. The French delegation thereupon left the meeting in protest. Zinoviev criticised the walkout as a breach of Communist norms and a relapse into parliamentary manoeuvring.
In the 16–17 June sessions of the Expanded Executive, two delegates, Edy Reiland from Luxembourg and Maurice Laporte from the French youth organisation, assailed the French leadership for its allegedly centrist policies. Reiland went so far as to demand the immediate expulsion of Frossard. According to Rosmer, the incident was set up by Kun, who had been seeking to mobilise French-speaking delegates against the Frossard leadership. An extended debate followed, whose highlight was a sharp exchange between Trotsky, Kun, and Lenin (Appendix 3f). Lenin’s remarks, in particular, caused a sensation, helping to turn the tide against Kun and his leftist associates. When the congress opened a few days later, the tempest had not entirely blown over, and the dispute over France came up several times during the congress proceedings. In his opening report, however, Zinoviev merely inserted into the record his conciliatory remarks on the French party to the Expanded Executive. The congress resolutions, while making many proposals to strengthen the French party, refrained from any attack on its leadership.
g. The Main Congress Debates
The chief disputed issues facing the main European parties merged into a single debate that occupied the majority of the three-week congress – its first fourteen sessions. During this debate, delegates sought to arrive at a unified appraisal of how economic conditions influenced the class struggle, the state of this struggle across Europe, and the policies needed to advance the cause of revolution under existing conditions.
Trotsky’s report in session 2, ‘The World Economic Crisis and the Tasks of the Communist International’, set the framework for the entire discussion, starkly portraying the capitalist states’ newly won stability and confidence, following three years of upheaval. Workers’ ‘chaotic, elemental onslaught’ had not, as the Comintern had hoped, achieved state power within a year or two, he said; ‘[T]he situation has become more complicated, but it remains favourable from a revolutionary point of view’. The time needed for world revolution was not a question of months but ‘perhaps a matter of years’. Capitalism’s current downturn was not a sign of impending collapse but rather a phase in its natural cycle. ‘What leads to revolution is neither impoverishment nor prosperity in itself, but [their] alternation … and crisis,’ Trotsky added. In the ensuing discussion, his report was criticised for failure to acknowledge the immediate prospects for civil war. Trotsky and Eugen Varga had drafted theses on the basis of this report, but the German delegation formally requested that there be no vote on them. After a procedural wrangle, the draft theses were approved in principle in a divided vote.
Zinoviev’s report from the ECCI introduced a discussion of the Comintern’s work in various countries that lasted through six sessions. He presented the slogan ‘to the masses’, which became the central theme of the congress. Decisions were taken on the extreme leftist Communist Workers Party of Germany (KAPD) and the Italian Socialist Party. A resolution was introduced by ten European delegations (but not those of Britain, Czechoslovakia, or France) that approved the conduct of the ECCI since the previous congress, including with regard to the VKPD. The absence of the French delegation among the signatories, Fernand Loriot explained, reflected its misgivings regarding the March Action and the ECCI’s role in it, and asked that this be frankly discussed in commission. Malzahn noted that the resolution did not mention the March Action or Levi’s expulsion and called for full discussion of these points before the vote on approving the ECCI’s conduct. Zinoviev then specified that approval of Levi’s ouster was implicit in the resolution. Paul Neumann of the German opposition said that it was impossible to vote on the Levi case until the March Action had been considered. He proposed postponement of the vote, but his motion was defeated, and the draft resolution was overwhelmingly approved.
The debate on tactics and strategy, next on the agenda, lasted for five sessions. Radek’s lengthy report, given on 30 June, assessed the March Action as a ‘step forward’, accompanied by mistakes that, if repeated, would lead to ‘even greater defeats’. He called on Communist parties to win the masses by participating and leading their daily struggles. He also proposed the programmatic concept later known as transitional demands. The draft theses were introduced by the Russian delegation only after extensive editing; ‘Lenin forced us to rework our theses five times’, Radek later recalled. The German, Austrian, and Italian delegations responded with amendments to the draft theses that, among other points, deleted mentions of winning the majority of workers and of the Open Letter, cut out references to combating left sectarianism, and inserted formulations drawn from the now discredited Theory of the Offensive. Sponsors of the amendments canvassed for support, with considerable success. The amendments were presented to the congress by Terracini on 1 July and printed in the German edition of the congress newspaper (Moskau) the same day.
The speech by Terracini, followed by Lenin’s reply, marked the turning point of the congress. After Terracini’s forceful presentation, Lenin countered that the Russian delegation ‘must insist that not a single letter in the theses be altered’. He also extended the formula of ‘winning the majority’ (which Terracini had criticised) to apply not only to industrial proletariat but to all the ‘working and exploited rural population’. ‘Lenin clobbered godawfully on all sides,’ VKPD leader Wilhelm Koenen subsequently reported. ‘This smashing about was justified on some points’, but German comrades felt he ‘really should have proceeded differently in order to convince comrades’. In the next session, Heckert received shouts of approval when he bluntly told Lenin he should have read the amendments more carefully. The German opposition also submitted amendments, whose text is not available; their spirit may be reflected in Zetkin’s insistence that the March Action fell short not merely due to ‘mistakes’ but to a fundamentally mistaken theory.
Discussion, planned to occupy two sessions, extended over twice that length and beyond. In commission discussions, the Russian delegation did agree to some modifications of wording in the theses in what Trotsky called ‘a process of mutual concessions’, but the leftist amendments were almost entirely rejected. On 2 July, Zinoviev acknowledged the need to combat the ‘Left danger’ and conceded that he had ‘learned a thing or two during the congress’ on this point. Although closing statements by Zinoviev, Trotsky, and Radek all advocated support for the proposed theses, Trotsky’s remarks stood out as an aggressive restatement of central themes of Lenin’s controversial presentation. Six delegations that had sponsored the amendments declared they had reservations regarding Trotsky’s speech, thus indicating that, in their minds at least, the dispute was not fully resolved. After further editing by the commission, the theses were adopted on 9 July. Lenin provided his own summary in a report to a side-meeting of Central European delegates held on 11 July (Appendix 4e).
The KAPD and its role
Prior to the Third Congress, supporters of the Theory of the Offensive constituted a leftist current deeply rooted in the International’s mainstream. The Communist Workers Party of Germany (KAPD), by contrast, represented a more extreme leftist opposition, which had existed on the fringe of the International since 1919. The KAPD was formed in April 1920 with more than forty thousand members, mainly forces pushed out of the KPD because they refused to take part in trade unions or governmental elections. By early 1921, its membership had dropped to eight thousand.<glossary> As noted, the ECCI admitted KAPD ‘provisionally’ as a sympathising organisation in December 1920, despite protests from the KPD. During the March Action, as Frölich noted, KAPD policies converged with the new leftist VKPD majority leadership; a KAPD headline rejoiced, ‘The KPD masses are acting in line with our slogans’.
At the Third Congress, however, the KAPD delegation was faced by an ultimatum from the Comintern leadership: either unify with the VKPD or leave the International. The KAPD responded vigorously, submitting draft theses to most commissions and circulating a summary of its history in English and French. KAPD delegates spoke at length under many agenda points. They canvassed left-inclined delegates from Belgium, Bulgaria, Britain, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia (Workers’ Opposition), Spain (CNT), and the US (IWW) regarding consolidating a leftist current in the International. The response was poor; only the Dutch minority and the dissident Bulgarians were sympathetic to KAPD views. Zinoviev’s ECCI report demanded that the KAPD declare in convention, within three months, its willingness to fuse with the official German section. A motion to this effect was overwhelmingly adopted. Following the congress, the KAPD rejected this ultimatum, left the Comintern, and formed a hostile international current.
h. Profile of a Compromise
The political convergence in the congress resolutions was incomplete. Significant disagreements persisted, within the ECCI and among congress delegates as in the International as a whole. Sponsors of the leftist amendments on strategy and tactics made clear by their statement repudiating Trotsky’s closing remarks on this topic that they were far from convinced of the Lenin-Trotsky position in its entirety. This attitude carried over to the VKPD’s August 1921 convention at Jena, which endorsed the leftist statement in Moscow of dissociation from Trotsky’s summary remarks.
Under these conditions, the congress decisions represented an inevitable compromise, dissatisfying some delegates on both sides of the debate. Its resolutions affirmed a strategic course that rejected the leftist positions, but they left some things unsaid and some issues unresolved. The compromise sought to set out a principled basis on which divergent Communist forces could work together and broaden their area of agreement through further experience and discussion. Zetkin portrayed its dynamics by recounting her initial discussion with Lenin (Appendix 3i), quoting him as follows:
Now don’t give me that puzzled and reproachful look. You and your friends will have to accept a compromise. You must rest content with taking home the lion’s share of the congress laurels. Your fundamental political line will triumph, and triumph brilliantly….
The congress will wring the neck of the celebrated theory of the offensive and will adopt a course of action corresponding to your ideas. In return, however, [the congress] must grant the supporters of the offensive theory some crumbs of consolation. To do this, in passing judgement on the March Action, we will focus attention on the way that proletarians, provoked, fought back against the lackeys of the bourgeoisie. Beyond that, we let a somewhat fatherly leniency prevail.
There was another aspect to the compromise, as Zetkin noted during the congress in a letter to Levi. ‘The Executive wants the German question to be dealt with, as much as possible, as dirty laundry within the German delegation’, she wrote (see Appendix 3j). Her statement suggests that assenting to silence on the ECCI’s role was an element in the compromise that ultimately unified the congress around common positions.
The congress decisions represented a turn away from the course of the ECCI in the months prior to the congress. The adopted resolutions implicitly broke from the ECCI’s previously exclusive emphasis on defeating the ‘right danger’, modified its wholesale rejection of the Italian Socialist Party, called off its drive to condemn the Šmeral leadership in Czechoslovakia, and repudiated the ‘offensive’ strategy pursued by its envoys in Germany before, during, and after the March Action. Yet in a congress notable for candour and controversy, almost nothing was said in criticism of the ECCI’s record, including in discussion of the ECCI report (sessions 4–9). Radek assured delegates that the ECCI was not responsible for the March Action. The unanimously adopted resolution on the ECCI report gave the ECCI’s actions – including with regard to Germany – unqualified approval.
Nonetheless, the ECCI envoys’ role was raised several times. Zetkin alluded to it on three occasions during the congress, the most explicit of which was her jab at Die Rote Fahne for ‘publishing appeals and articles whose un-German mode of expression enabled opponents to say, “Not made in Germany”’ – obviously a reference to the role of the Hungarian and Polish ECCI emissaries. VKPD leader Fritz Heckert also made a veiled reference to the rebellion of Die Rote Fahne’s staffers against the ECCI group’s unilateral impositions, while Friesland spoke of the resulting dissension in the Zentrale. Loriot presented the French delegation’s request for a special commission on the March Action, discussion of which he regarded as necessarily confidential. The commission could, he said, ‘discuss why the Executive was led to act as it did.’ In another context, Zetkin reviewed Rákosi’s controversial actions as ECCI envoy in January–February 1921 in Italy and Germany.
In addition to the issue of ECCI envoys, two other aspects of its record were of concern to some delegates: the encouragement given by ECCI leaders prior to February 1921 to leftist opposition forces in the German party and the overall leftist bias of its Small Bureau in the months preceding the conference. These topics did not come up for discussion.
ECCI spokespersons repeatedly called for criticism and deplored its absence. Thus the Yugoslav leader Sima Marković, an ally of Levi, was given a special extension to present his criticisms of the ECCI, which he did not do. The two delegates who explicitly questioned the ECCI’s record, Zetkin and Loriot, were subject to no condemnation or reprisals.
The delegates’ reticence may have been due to the continued dissension among the Executive’s most prominent members. This fact, evident in the differing content of their speeches, was also reflected in the Russian Politburo’s special motion giving instructions regarding their interventions, the flare-up of disagreement between Trotsky, Radek, and Zinoviev at the close of the tactics and strategy debate, and Lenin’s public chastisement of Radek, a few weeks after the congress, for rupturing the Moscow ‘peace agreement’ regarding the German party.
The hands-off attitude toward the ECCI’s record was also reflected in the membership of the day-to-day leadership (the Small Bureau or Presidium) chosen as the congress closed. In addition to Boris Souvarine from the French party, it was composed of Zinoviev, Radek, Bukharin, Gennari, Heckert, Kun, all of whom had been identified to varying degrees with the Executive’s previous support of leftist currents.
The failure to assess the role of the ECCI emissaries in the March Action, while perhaps an unavoidable component of the compromise with which the congress concluded, had negative results. The focusing of criticism on the German party leadership, while the ECCI envoys’ role was passed over in silence, suggested that leadership accountability was not being dealt with in an even-handed manner and, even, that the ECCI itself was above criticism. Ongoing friction over the ECCI’s role figured in two splits from the German party in the subsequent year. However, in the period following the Third Congress, there was no further destructive intervention by an ECCI emissary similar to the Béla Kun mission to Berlin, and ECCI representatives played a useful role in promoting Communist unity in many parties.
Quite apart from the handling of the ECCI’s record, the broader political compromise at the congress served a necessary purpose. It achieved the central goal of rejecting leftist adventurism and carrying out an agreed-on strategic turn expressed in its slogan ‘To the masses’. While leaving some issues undiscussed or postponed for later clarification, it served a necessary goal – too often neglected in the socialist movement – of preserving the unity of revolutionary forces that was indispensable for further steps forward and providing a principled and broadly agreed basis for their further united action and discussion.
i. The Comintern Broadens Its Scope
In session 15, with the great strategic debate finally dispatched to commission, the congress turned to the remaining eight topics on its agenda. Four sessions were devoted to work in trade unions, while seven other topics were squeezed into six sessions.
Trade-union reports by Zinoviev and Heckert were heard 3 July, which was also the opening day of the parallel world congress of unionists that went on to found the Red International of Labour Unions (RILU or Profintern). Leaders of the Comintern and its main parties agreed that revolutionaries should work within reformist-led labour organisations and defend their unity. However, they hoped that the RILU could defeat and break up the bourgeois-oriented ‘Amsterdam’ International in which these organisations were affiliated. Congress discussion focused on differences with revolutionary syndicalist forces that were strongly represented in the RILU. Debate hinged on the traditional syndicalist contention that unions should have no ties with political organisations like the Communist parties. After a further report from Heckert, the final session adopted a major resolution on the RILU and its tasks.
Jakob Riehs (Austria) found the trade-union debate to be ‘sluggish’; Jenő Landler (Hungary) complained of ‘disinterest’. Rosmer later wrote that this debate was marked by ‘the apathy normal at the end of congresses’. Proceedings of the later sessions do, in fact, show signs of strain, as commissions held extended sittings, racing to complete proposed resolutions. Nonetheless, the trade-union debate was lengthy and full of controversy.
Syndicalist delegates at the Comintern and RILU congresses visited thirteen anarchists imprisoned in Moscow for breaches of Soviet legality. The treatment of Russian anarchists provoked a brief uproar in the RILU congress. In consultation with Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, US anarchists then living in Moscow, the syndicalists opened up negotiations with the Russian party leadership; Serge and Souvarine also played a role in this process. A meeting with Lenin took place on 11 July, and the following day, Trotsky conveyed the Russian Political Bureau’s reply: the jailed anarchists would be permitted to leave Russia. They were freed and reached Berlin by the end of the year.
Session 17, held on 5 July, was a unique event in Comintern history: a broad and open debate on the internal policies of its Russian party. Lenin’s lengthy report focused on the just-adopted New Economic Policy (NEP), which had evoked doubt and uncertainty among many Communists inside and outside Russia. The Russian party’s new course was criticised by Alexandra Kollontai, representing the Workers Opposition within its ranks, as well as by two speakers from the KAPD. Kollontai criticised the Soviet government for insufficiently utilising ‘the creative power of the working class’; Trotsky responded that she had presented no alternative course and that the Soviet republic was amply protected by the Communists’ firm controls of the levers of economic power. The session adopted a short resolution and a set of theses drafted by Lenin.
In response to the famine then afflicting wide areas of Russia, a decision was taken to launch an international campaign of emergency aid for the Soviet republic. Willi Münzenberg left Moscow to launch this work in Central Europe. Over the next year, these efforts became the Comintern’s broadest and most successful international campaign.
Münzenberg’s report on the Communist Youth International (CYI) (session 20) was given the day before the opening of a two-week-long CYI congress. The CYI was undertaking a reorientation: its headquarters was moving to Moscow from Berlin; its national units, many of which had led in founding the world Communist movement, would henceforth be autonomous but politically subordinate to Comintern sections in their countries. While explaining these changes, Münzenberg’s report also gave a penetrating analysis of the conditions and problems of working-class youth in Europe. The CYI congress had been preceded by months of contentious internal debate, but differences of opinion had now been mostly resolved. There was time for only one additional speaker (Frölich) on this topic. A resolution was adopted, after amendment, in session 24.
The Second International Conference of Communist Women, meeting in Moscow on the eve of the Third World Congress, undertook the construction of an international network of commissions for work among women, affiliated to their respective national parties. The conference drew on an appeal and a detailed plan for the women’s network drawn up by an initial gathering the previous year. The Third Congress heard reports on this project by Zetkin, Lucie Colliard, and Kollontai, plus a speech by Norah Smythe. The discussion laid bare obstacles: parties had taken steps to organise women only ‘with gritted teeth’, to which women Communists reacted with ‘a measure of bitterness’. Nonetheless, the three adopted resolutions expressed determination to overcome these barriers through systematic incorporation of women in the Comintern’s work.
At the time of the congress, millions of working people belonged to cooperatives, which made up a third wing of the workers’ movement, alongside parties and trade unions. Revolutionaries had previously paid little attention to cooperatives, and the Comintern sought to remedy this situation. When this agenda item came up in session 21, there was time only for a very brief report and the reading of the theses, after which the session was broken off because of insufficient attendance and the lack of translation. Too many important commission meetings had been scheduled at that time – indicative of the pressures during the final sessions. At the beginning of the next session, the theses were adopted without debate.
The agenda point on party organisation sought above all to grapple with bureaucratic deformations member parties had inherited from the prewar Second International. Parties in Czechoslovakia, France, Germany (ex-USPD majority), Italy, and Norway had joined the Comintern largely intact. They included influential parliamentary, trade-union, and journalistic staffs that were often open to bourgeois influence and unresponsive to party direction. The congress resolution, drafted by Otto Kuusinen, aimed to counter this weakness by involving all members in organised party work (‘the duty to be active’) and by integrating all in the party’s cells, fractions, and working groups into a disciplined, unified structure. Lenin provided extensive input, encouraging Kuusinen to include more detail and insisting that a German comrade (Koenen) replace Béla Kun as reporter (Appendix 3b). (The following year, at the Fourth Congress, Lenin would term the resolution ‘excellent’ but ‘too long’ and ‘too Russian’ in spirit.) Koenen’s lengthy report was squeezed into the congress’s third-last session, and there was time to hear only three brief comments, each of them critical, before referring the resolution back to the commission for editing. It was adopted in the final session.
The text did not take up financial assistance by the Comintern to member parties, an issue that played a role in a split later that year in Germany. It did, however, propose that Red Aid, the solidarity campaign with victims of capitalist repression, initiated in Germany after the March Action, be expanded internationally. The Fourth Congress returned to this topic, and it became one of the Comintern’s most successful broad campaigns.
Functioning of the International
No agenda point specifically addressed the Comintern’s structure. The two resolutions taking up these issues gave blanket approval to the ECCI’s activity and called for the Executive and its apparatus to be enlarged and strengthened. Zinoviev protested intimations by Levi and others that some emissaries had acted irresponsibly, and the practice of sending ECCI emissaries to member parties – to gather information but also ‘with full powers’ – was endorsed.
Revolution in colonies and semi-colonies
In 1920, the Comintern adopted sweeping resolutions on revolution in the colonies and semi-colonies, worked out in two World Congress sessions and a separate conference on the peoples of the East. For the Third Congress, delegates from China, India, and Iran prepared three draft resolutions that sought to develop strategic concepts for struggle in colonised countries with varying class structures (see appendices 5a, 5b, and 5c). M.N. Roy’s draft stressed the revolutionary potential of the nascent proletariat in the colonies; drafts by Sultanzade and Zhang Tailei called for a revolutionary anti-colonial alliance, anticipating what later became known as the anti-imperialist united front.
Perhaps because of the press of business at the congress close, none of these drafts was presented to the congress. A session was scheduled for discussion of the Eastern Question, but it had to be fitted into the final day of the congress, before an organisational commission meeting and the demanding closing session. The commission on the Eastern Question gave no report, and discussion did not address the strategic and policy issues facing Communists in the East. Halfway through the speakers’ list, the chair (Kolarov) cut the speaking time to five minutes and dispensed with translation – measures unique in working sessions of the congress. The speech of South African delegate Ivon Jones was omitted from the published proceedings; it is found in Appendix 5d. For a motion by the Palestinian party, not taken up in the congress, see Appendix 5e. Roy spoke out strongly against what he considered the slipshod handling of the Eastern question during the congress. The French delegate Charles-André Julien seconded Roy’s complaint, adding that ‘the main role [in the session] has been played by cinematography’. The chair, Kolarov, while rejecting Roy’s and Julien’s protests, conceded that the Eastern question had been dealt with inadequately. At the start of the next and final session, Koenen said that a draft manifesto on the Eastern question was available and obtained agreement for its referral to the ECCI for publication. The manifesto is not otherwise mentioned in the congress; its text was not published and is not found in the congress records. The following year, the Fourth Congress held a two-day discussion on the Eastern question and adopted a comprehensive resolution.
In other congress sessions, delegates heard explanations of the strategic importance of anti-colonial struggles by Mir Ja’far Javadzadeh, Roy, Lenin, Zetkin, and Zinoviev.
j. School of Strategy
The Third Congress set in motion a shift in strategy that was extended through: (1) adoption of the united front policy (December 1921); (2) elaboration of this policy with respect to positions on transitional demands and workers’ governments and on anti-imperialist struggles (December 1922); (3) development of a policy for united resistance to fascism (May 1923). Although the Third Congress decisions were a working compromise among a still very divided body of delegates, agreement was achieved around a strategic course of going ‘to the masses’, taking part in their daily struggles, and seeking to win their majority to a revolutionary course, as a precondition for achieving workers’ power. The congress manifesto called on workers to join in a ‘single unified front’. This crucial step forward opened up a process in which the Comintern developed and tested a wide spectrum of tactical initiatives to achieve the goal of winning mass support through united action. Thus, although the congress endorsed the ‘Open Letter’ initiative solely in the context of Germany, only six months later, in December 1921, the ECCI proposed it as a generally applicable policy, now termed the ‘united front’. Another four months, and Comintern delegates were meeting in a joint conference with representatives of the despised Second and Two-and-a-Half Internationals.
The congress was a practical working meeting, whose outcome was not predictable and not preordained. It was characterised by free and open debate, in which those with unpopular views were not silenced or penalised. Despite the Bolshevik leaders’ prestige, there was no reticence about criticising them and no hesitation in opposing their positions. Deep differences were frankly debated, and an area of agreement was defined and widened. Despite shared concern for difficulties experienced by Soviet Russia, there was no subordination of international struggles to Russian national interests.
Despite many difficulties and obstacles, progress was indeed made. Even members of the Italian Socialist Party and the KAPD, whose leaders were openly attacking the Comintern, were offered a credible path to integration into the International. With regard to the mass Communist parties, the congress averted a rupture in Czechoslovakia, nudged the Italian party toward revolutionary reunification, exercised needed restraint in France, and, in Germany, achieved a fragile equilibrium and a new start.
The Third Congress took decisive steps in mapping out a strategy for revolutionary struggle in a preparatory period where conditions for revolutionary action were not yet present. Italian Marxist Luigi Cortesi has aptly caught the mood of the occasion:
The grandeur and representativity of the congress impressed on the world a constantly more tangible reality of an alternative to the capitalist system. There is no evading .. a sense of the historic solemnity of this gathering, almost a parliament of humanity.
The congress opened up a two-year period, probably the most creative in Comintern history, of innovative attempts to forge workers’ unity in action. It well deserved Trotsky’s praise in a July 14 speech to Communist youth, when he termed it ‘the highest school of revolutionary strategy’.
For Further Reading
- Selections from the Third World Congress proceedings posted in the Marxists Internet Archive.
- “Lenin’s Comintern Revisited”: A collection of studies of the early Communist International posted on this blog.
. Quoted from the post-congress ECCI appeal, p.1034. See also pp. 234 (Zinoviev) and 269, 417, 442 (Radek).
. For the amendments, see pp. 1041–58. This introduction avoids the term ‘ultraleft’, which was not used in the Third Congress, and uses instead the words ‘leftist’ or ‘left’ found in the congress text. For Lenin’s use of the term ‘Right’, see his letter of 14 August 1921, pp. 1078–80.
. The concept ‘to the masses’ was first voiced at the congress by Zinoviev in his opening report: ‘The main slogan is to make sure that we attain the majority and reach the masses.’ See p. #234. For Zetkin’s formulation, quoting Lenin, see p. 1142.
. See p. 1036; Riddell (ed.) 2011b, Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International (hereinafter 4WC), pp. 1164–73.
. See p. 936. See also Fourth Congress discussion, Riddell (ed.) 2011b, 4WC, pp. 34–6, 509–15, 631.
. See pp. 440–42 (report), 919–20 (theses).
. See Broué 2005, p. 389 (Radek); Kommunismus, 1, 12–13 (3 April 1920), pp. 349–50 (Kun).
. Lenin 1960–71, Collected Works (hereinafter LCW), 31, pp. 109, 166; below, pp. 205–6, 209–10 (Zinoviev), 423 (Radek).
. For the record of the first and second congresses, see Riddell (ed.) 1987, Founding the Communist International (hereinafter 1WC) and Riddell (ed.) 1991, Workers of the World and Oppressed Peoples, Unite! Proceedings and Documents of the Second Congress, 1920 (hereinafter 2WC).
. See ‘Conditions for Admission’ in Riddell (ed.) 1991, 2WC, 2, pp. 765–71.
. Riddell (ed.) 1991, 2WC, 1, pp. 134–9; Serge 2012, p. 126; Drachkovitch and Lazitch (eds.) 1966, p. 285.
. Trotsky 1972a, 2, p. 8.
. Bukharin, ‘Die Offensivtaktik’, Kommunistische Internationale, 15 (1920), pp. 67–72.
. Riddell (ed.) 1993, p. 78.
. Riddell (ed.) 1993, p. 219. The slogan had previously been highlighted by Lenin; see LCW, 31, p. 453.
. Comintern 1921a, 1921b; For Lenin’s view, see ‘On the Struggle of the Italian Socialist Party’, LCW, 31, p. 377–96.
. See Terracini’s remarks in session 7, p. #320. In the same session, Rákosi referred to the pre-congress Communist Faction as the ‘Italian Communist Party’ (p. 317).
. Spriano 1967, 1, 104–5.
. Wilde 2011, pp. 179–84; Radek, ‘Die KPD Deutschlands während des Kapp-Putsches’, Kommunistische Internationale, 12, pp. 164–6; Broué 2005, p. 464.
. Broué 2005, pp. 464–5. Quotation from VKPD manifesto is from Radek, below, pp. 4243–5.
. The French party newspaper L’Humanité reported on 9 May 1921 on a party-organised anti-war demonstration of 100,000 held the previous day. Police attacked the protesters, killing one and wounding fifty.
. Quoted from Levi in Fernbach (ed.) 2011, p. 100; for Radek’s confirmation, see Fayet 2004, p. 366, n. 178.
. König 1967, pp. 144–7.
. Spriano 1967, 1, pp. 111–13.
. König 1967, pp. 150–2.
. Natoli 1982, pp. 67–113. See also Behan 2003. For Zinoviev’s December 1922 correction of the Arditi error, see Riddell (ed.) 2011b, 4WC, pp. 1053–4.
. Firsov 1975, pp. 350–8.
. Firsov 1975, pp. 363–4; Suda 1980, pp. 46–9.
. See p. 409 and Firsov 1975, pp. 365 and 371.
. See p. 221 (Zinoviev), including n. 72; 409 (Radek); p. 664 (Lenin); Firsov 1975, pp. 371–6.
 Borsányi 1993, pp. 258–9; Firsov 1975, pp. 366–7.
. ‘Action’ here translates the German word Aktion, which often carried a confrontational meaning absent from its English cognate. For Lenin’s comment see Appendix 2d, p. 1086–7; for Open Letter see Appendix 1a, p. 1061–3.
. Drachkovitch and Lazitch (eds.) 1966, p. 292.
. Reisberg 1971, pp. 47–68; Broué 2005, pp. 468–73; Drachkovitch and Lazitch (eds.) 1966, p. 292.
. Fernbach 2011, pp. 105, 109.
. Fernbach 2011, p. 108; Koch-Baumgarten 1986, p. 107; during the congress, Rákosi confirmed his remarks (p. 326), responding to Zetkin (p. 292); see also Drachkovitch and Lazitch (eds.) 1966, pp. 286, 291.
. See Appendix 2a, pp. 1071–2. Koch-Baumgarten quotes an undated letter from Radek to the German leadership, written, she says, a few days after the 22 February ECCI discussion on the Open Letter (Appendix 1a). By her account, after summarising the pressures bearing down on Soviet Russia, Radek wrote, ‘It is therefore our duty to intensify the struggle across Europe, and anyone who fails to do all possible to achieve this goal is nothing but a traitor.’ Koch-Baumgarten 1986, p. 118.
The Archiv der sozialen Demokratie, indicated by Koch-Baumgarten as holder of this letter, is unable to find it. Inquiries with Koch-Baumgarten and other German researchers in this field have not turned up any trace of the letter.
. Levi, ‘Letter to Lenin’, in Fernbach (ed.) 2011, p. 207; Kun, ‘Letter to Lenin’, Appendix 2e, pp. 1088–90; compare with Radek, ‘Letter to VKPD leaders in Berlin’, Appendix 2a, pp. 1071–72.
. For the ECCI’s view, see appendices 1b and 2a, and also the alternative record of its 22–23 February 1921 sessions published in Goldbach 1973, pp. 135–43. Quotations are from Goldbach, p. 91 and Broué 2005, p. 494.
. Weber 1991, pp. 73–80.
. See p. 429 (Radek); Koch-Baumgarten 1986, p. 152.
. Koch-Baumgarten 1986, pp. 151–6, 222; Angress 1963, pp. 138–9. See also below, p. 428, including n. 26.
. See VKPD Zentrale general strike appeal in IML-SED 1966a, 7, 1, pp. 445–7.
. See pp. 262 (Malzahn), 559 (Sachs); Appendix 2b, p. 1074.
. For casualty and membership estimates, see Koch-Baumgarten 1986, pp. 315–18, 446–7; Wilde 2011, p. 218. By September 1922, dues-paying membership had recovered to 224,389. For VKPD Theses on the March Action, see Appendix 2b, pp. 1072–8. See also Malzahn’s comments, pp. 504–5.
. Zentrale der VKPD 1921, pp. 6, 22–3.
. For Zetkin’s theses, see pp. 1079–86. On the party’s return to the Open Letter, see Peterson 1993, pp. 82–6; Reisberg 1971, pp. 137–40; Thalheimer 1994, p. 79.
. The Cheka was the Soviet security force and revolutionary tribunal. For Levi’s view of putschism, see Fernbach (ed.) 2011, pp. 119–65, especially 147–9 and 159–64. Levi refers to Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, ‘The Alliance of Socialist Democracy and the International Working Men’s Association’, Collected Works (hereinafter MECW), 23, pp. 454–580. Re Levi’s expulsion, see IML-SED 1966, pp. 456–8. For a comment by Zetkin on the meaning of ‘putschism’, see p. 299.
. Degras 1971, pp. 217–18.
. For Appendix 2d, see pp. 1086–7. Radek 1921, quoted in Reisberg 1971, p. 134. Regarding hold-up of Lenin’s letter, see Reisberg 1971, p. 133. ECCI April 29 statement in Degras 1971, pp. 218–20.
 Die Internationale, 3, 7, pp. 239–43.
 Zinoviev, ‘Vor dem III. Kongress der Kommunistischen Internationale’, Kommunistische Internationale, 16 (1921), pp. 1–12; Appendix 3h, pp. 1035–7.
 Trotsky 1972b, p. 33. See also Trotsky 1936, pp. 87–91.
- Leonhard 1981, p. 245; Humbert-Droz 1971, p. 14; Serge 2012, p. 172.
- For allocation of votes, see credentials report, pp. 177–8. For the roll-call vote, see pp. 880–2.
- Kolarov quoted in Reisberg 1971, p. 162; Lenin, below, p. 467; Serge 2012, p. 161; Rosmer 1971, pp. 139–40; Leonhard 1981, pp. 255–6; Fischer 1948, p. 177; Lenin, appendices 3a (pp. 1089–99), 3e (pp. 1107), and 4c (pp. 1157–8); Lenin, Appendix 4h, p. 1179; LCW, 33, p. 208.
- See Trotsky’s ‘Zametki dlia sebia’ in Drabkin et al. (eds.) 1998, p. 257–61; speeches in sessions 2 (pp. 102–33) and 14 (pp. 571–81); Appendix 4a (pp. 1153–5); Leonhard 1981, p. 252; statement by the Left, p. #671; Broué 2005, p. 567 (on VKPD Jena congress).
- See pp. 81, 233, 562–7 (Zinoviev).
- On transitional demands, see pp. 421–2, 440–2, 936; on the ECCI’s shift, p. 593. On Radek’s role, see especially Fayet 2004, pp. 386–91.
- For appendices, see 1088–90, 1104–5, 1148–51, 1151–2, 1137–48, 1174–6. See also pp. 307 (expulsion threat), 283–301 (Zetkin speech); Brandt and Lowenthal 1957, p. 169 (Friesland’s opinion); pp. #909–30 and pp. 779–96 and 1009–27 (debate and resolutions on women); pp. 651–5, including 651, n. 1 (Zetkin tribute).
- See p. 400 (Levi expulsion), 399–400 (German opposition statement); Appendix 2f, pp. 1090–6 (Levi appeal); pp. 392–4, 400–1 (procedural issue); Appendices 4f, 4g, 4h, pp. 1174–80.
- See Appendix 2e, pp. 1088–90; Reisberg 1971, p. 165 (Kun’s authorship); Appendix 3f, pp. 1125–8 (Kun’s speech); pp. 582 (Kun’s motion); Appendix 2d, pp. 1086–7; Appendix 3f, pp. 1128–32 (Lenin’s speech); Serge 2012, p. 163.
- See Appendix 3a, pp. 1097–1101; Hájek and Mejdrová 1997, p. 310 (Politburo decision); Trotsky 1972b, pp. 33–5; Trotsky 1936, pp. 87–91; Appendix 3h, pp. 1135–7.
- Hájek and Mejdrová 1997, p. 310; below, pp. 597–8 (statement by six delegations); Appendix 4a, pp. 1153–5; ‘Theses on Tactics and Strategy’, pp. 924–50.
- Zinoviev, ‘Vor dem III. Kongress der Kommunistischen Internationale’, Kommunistische Internationale, 16 (1921), pp. 1–7; below, p. 349 (Gennari), 921–2 (‘Resolution on the Executive Committee Report’), 371–2 (Zetkin), 892–3 (Zinoviev), 1037 (appeal).
- Natoli 1982, pp. 129–33; Riddell (ed.) 2011b, 4WC, p. 16.
- See pp. 931, 894; Behan 2007, pp. 58–69. Compare Lenin’s remarks to Central European delegates in Appendix 4e, p. 1172.
- See Zetkin, pp. pp. 1150, 296–7, 298; ‘Amendments to the Theses on Tactics’, pp. 1041–58.
- The 5 July issue of Moscou, which published the German-Austrian-Italian amendments, added a note, ‘Because of a lack of space, the amendments proposed by the Neumann-Zetkin group in the VKPD cannot be published in this newspaper.’ For Zetkin’s letter to Lenin, see Appendix 3g, pp. 1132–5.
- Weber 1991, p. 234; appendices 3d and 3e, pp. 1106–7; Appendix 4d, pp. 1158–69; pp. 951, 941–2 (texts on March Action).
- Firsov 1975, p. 381; Hájek and Mejdrová 1997, pp. 320–2; Lenin 1958–65, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii (hereinafter PSS), 52, p. 269. For the Czechoslovak statement, see p. 494, n. 18.
- See pp. #199–207 (Zinoviev June 13 report); Firsov 1975, p. 384; below, pp. 255 (Gennari); Appendix 4b, pp. 1155–7 (Lenin summary and resolution); congress resolutions, pp. 921–3 and 932–3.
- See p. 216 (Zinoviev).
- Rosmer 1971, pp. 127–8; Robrieux 1980, 1, p. 77.
- See Appendix 3f, pp. 1108–32; Rosmer 1971, p. 127; below, 310 (Friesland), 324–5 (Rákosi), 534 (Vaillant-Couturier), 768 (Münzenberg), 215–20 (Zinoviev). Several sessions of the Expanded Executive were held on the eve of the Third Congress; invited representatives from Comintern parties expanded attendance to about 70.
- See pp. 131, 133, and 165 (Trotsky); 150 (amendment by Pogány), 169 (motion by German delegation), 172–3 (vote), 901–20 (theses).
- See pp. 234 (‘To the Masses’), 921–3 (Resolution on ECCI Report), 387 (Loriot), 392 (Malzahn), 392–3 (Zinoviev), 393 (Neumann), 399–400 (German opposition), 400–1 (vote).
- See p. 436 (Radek). Regarding ‘transitional demands’, see pp. 436–42 and 935–9. On editing of theses, see Gutjahr 2012, Revolution muss sein, p. 485. For the amendments, see pp. 1041–58. Supporters of the amendments included the German, Austrian, Italian, Polish, Hungarian (majority), Czech-German, and Youth International delegations. The French translation appeared 5 July, but Terracini says (p. 457) that the original (German) version was published 1 July.
- See pp. 457–65 (Terracini) and 465–73 (Lenin); 468 and 472 (Lenin quotations); Reisberg 1971, p. 181 (Koenen); below, pp. 482 (Heckert), 545–6 (Zetkin). A passage from the German opposition amendment was read out in Session 14; see p. 565.
- See pp. 447 (length of discussion), 572 (Trotsky on concessions), 799–803 (list of changes), 562 (Zinoviev), 571–81 (Trotsky speech), 597–8 (declaration on Trotsky speech), 1170–3 (Appendix 4e). The dispute on Trotsky’s remarks continued at the VKPD’s 22–26 August congress in Jena, which declared its disagreement with his speech (Broué 2005, p. 567).
- On the eve of the Third Congress, Lenin stated, ‘I clearly see my mistake in voting for the admission of the KAPD.’ See Appendix 3a, p. 1099. See also Bock 1969, p. 257; Koch-Baumgarten 1986, p. 156; below, p. 243 (Frölich).
- Bock 1969, pp. 260–2; below, pp. 329–30, 331–5, 592 (Zinoviev).
- Broué 2005, p. 567.
- See Appendix 3i, p. 1140.
- See Appendix 3j, p. 1150.
- See pp. 388 (Radek), 392–3 (scope of resolution), 921–3 (resolution).
- See pp. 300 (Zetkin on Béla Kun article), 296–8 (other Zetkin references), 312 and 488–9 (Heckert), 523 (Friesland), 387 (Loriot), 292–3 (Zetkin on Rákosi).
- See pp. 267 (Radek), 395 (Zinoviev), 275–81 (Marković), 296–8 (Zetkin), 387 (Loriot).
- Háyek and Mejdrová 1997, p. 310; Appendix 4a, pp. 1153–5; LCW, 32, p. 516.
- Comintern 1922a, p. 7; Fayet 2008, pp. 119–20.
- On the post-congress record of the ECCI, see Riddell (ed.) 2011b, 4WC, pp. 41–5 and passim. Pogány, sent by the ECCI to the US in 1922, organised a faction and took over effective leadership of the US party, but there is no evidence of ECCI involvement in this exploit; see Riddell (ed.) 2011b, p. 42, n. 111.
- See pp. pp. 734 (Riehs); 731 (Landler); Rosmer 1971, p. 134.
- Tosstorff 2004, pp. 347–59.
- See pp. 679–82 (Kollontai), 686ff. (Trotsky), 970–7 (theses and resolution).
- See 3 July 1921 letter by Münzenberg to Zinoviev in Bayerlein et al. (eds.) 2013.
- For background on the youth congress, see p. 773, n. 9.
- For documents of the 1920 meeting, see Riddell (ed.) 1991, 2WC, 2, pp. 972–98.
- See pp. pp. 779–94 (reports by Zetkin, Colliard, Kollontai), 328 (Smythe), 780 and 781–2 (on obstacles), 1009–29 (resolutions). See also the Fourth Congress reports and resolution, Riddell (ed.) 2011b, 4WC, pp. 837–73.
- A fuller discussion on cooperatives took place at the Fourth Congress. See Riddell (ed.) 2011b, 4WC, pp. 813–36.
- See ‘Organisational Structure of the Communist Parties,’ pp. 978–1006; Lenin’s proposals in Appendix 3b, 1101–4; Koenen’s report, pp. 809–32 and summary 874–8; Lenin’s subsequent comments in Riddell (ed.) 2011b, 4WC, pp. 303–5.
- See Broué 2005, p. 570 (finances). On Red Aid, see resolution, p. 1001 and Riddell (ed.) 2011b, 4WC, pp. 959–61.
- See ‘Resolution on the Report of the ECCI’, 921–3; ‘Resolution on Organising the Communist International’, pp. 1007–8; pp. 397–8 (Zinoviev on emissaries); p. 1008 (decision on emissaries).
- Riddell (ed.) 1991, 2WC, 1, 211–90; Riddell (ed.) 1993 (Baku Congress); appendices 5a, 5b, 5c, pp. 1181–93.
- See p. 854 (Kolarov); Appendices 5d and 5e, pp. 1193–7; pp. 855–6 (Roy), 865 (Julien), 870 (Kolarov), 872 (Koenen). For the Fourth Congress discussion and resolution, see Riddell (ed.) 2011b, pp. 28–33, 261–5, 649–737, 800–11, 947–51, 1180–90.
- See pp. 322–3 (Javadzadeh), 156–9 (Roy), 659 (Lenin), 82 and 783 (Zetkin), 63 and 849 (Zinoviev).
- See pp. 1034, 1036 (manifesto), 928, 933 (Open Letter); Riddell (ed.) 2011b, 4WC, pp. 1164–73 (‘Theses on the Workers’ United Front’); International Socialist Congress 1967.
- Cortesi 2010, p. 466.
- Trotsky 1972a, 1, p. 297.
Documents of the Communist Movement in Lenin’s Time
Riddell, John (ed.) 1984, Lenin’s Struggle for a Revolutionary International 1907–1916, New York: Pathfinder Press.
——— 1986, The German Revolution and the Debate on Soviet Power, New York: Pathfinder Press.
——— 1987, Founding the Communist International: Proceedings and Documents of the First Congress, March 1919 (1WC), New York: Pathfinder Press.
——— 1991, Workers of the World and Oppressed Peoples, Unite! Proceedings and Documents of the Second Congress, 1920 (2WC), 2 volumes, New York: Pathfinder Press.
——— 1993, To See the Dawn: Baku, 1920 – First Congress of the Peoples of the East, New York: Pathfinder Press.
——— 2011b, Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International (4WC), Historical Materialism Book Series, Leiden: Brill.
Taber, Mike (ed.) 2018, The Communist Movement at a Crossroads: Plenums of the Communist International’s Executive Committee 1922–1923, Historical Materialism Book Series, Leiden: Brill.
Editions of the Third Comintern Congress and Its Resolutions
Adler, Alan (ed.) 1980, Theses, Resolutions and Manifestos of the First Four Congresses of the Third International, London: Ink Links.
Comintern 1921c, Protokoll des III. Kongresses der Kommunistischen Internationale, Hamburg: Verlag der Kommunistischen Internationale.
——— 1921d, Thesen und Resolutionen des III. Weltkongresses der Kommunistischen Internationale, Hamburg: Verlag der Kommunistischen Internationale.
——— 1921e, Third Congress of the Communist International: Report of Meetings Held at Moscow, June 22nd–July 12th 1921, London: Communist Party of Great Britain.
——— 1922b, III vsemirnyi kongress Kommunisticheskogo internatsionala, Petersburg: Gosizdat.
——— 1934, Thèses, manifestes et résolutions adoptés par les Ier, IIe, IIIe, et IVe congrès de l’Internationale communiste (1919–1923) Textes complets, Paris: Librairie du Travail.
——— 1988, Gongchan guoji di 3 ci daibiao dahui wenjian, 1921 nian 6 yue-7 yue [Documents of the Third Congress of the Communist International, June–July 1921], Beijing: China Renmin University Press. <Library of Congress X11.I5 C65 1921>
——— 1994, The Comintern Archive, Leiden: IDC.
Kun, Béla 1933, Kommunisticheskii internatsional v dokumentakh, Moscow: Partiinoe Izdatel’stvo.
Bosić, Milovan et al. (eds.) 1981, Treći kongres Komunističke internacionale, in Komunistička Internacionala: Stenogrami i documenti kongresa, Volume 3, Gornji Milanovac: Kulturni centar.
Bulletin des III. Kongresses der Kommunistischen Internationale, nos. 1–24, 24 June–20 July 1921.
Inprecorr: International Press Correspondence, news bulletin of the Communist International from October 1921.
Inprekorr: Internationale Presse-Korrespondenz, German-language Comintern news bulletin from September 1921.
Die Kommunistische Fraueninternationale, magazine of the Communist Women’s Movement.
Die Kommunistische Internationale, journal of the Communist International, also published in English, French, and Russian.
Moscou, organe du 3e congrès de l’Internationale communiste, May 25–7 July 1921. Also published in English and German.
Herting, Günter 1960, Bibliographie zur Geschichte der Kommunistischen Internationale (1919–1943), Berlin: Institut für Marxismus-Leninismus.
Kahan, Vilém 1990, Bibliography of the Communist International (1919–1979), Leiden: Brill.
Procacci, Giuliano 1958, ‘L’Internazionale comunista dal I al VII congresso 1919–1935’, Annali dell’Istituto Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, 1: 283–315.
Sworakowski, Witold S. (ed.) 1965, The Communist International and Its Front Organizations, Stanford: Hoover Institution Press.
See also Broué 1997 and Buckmiller and Meschkat (eds.) 2007.
Andreucci, Franco and Tommaso Detti (eds.) 1975–9, Il movimento operaio italiano: Dizionario biografico 1853–1943, 6 volumes, Rome: Editori Riuniti.
Bartke, Wolfgang (ed.) 1990, Biographical Dictionary and Analysis of China’s Party Leadership 1922–1988, Munich: K.G. Saur.
Buckmiller, Michael and Klaus Meschkat (eds.) 2007, Biographisches Handbuch zur Geschichte der Kommunistischen Internationale, Berlin: Akademie Verlag.
Chase, William J. 2001, Enemies Within the Gates? The Comintern and the Stalinist Repression, 1934–1939, New Haven: Yale University Press.
Gotovitch, José and Mikhail Narinski (eds.) 2001, Komintern: L’histoire et les hommes: Dictionnaire biographique de l’Internationale communiste en France, en Belgique, au Luxembourg, en Suisse, et à Moscou (1919–1943), Paris: Éditions de l’Atelier.
Jeifets, Lazar, Victor Jeifets, and Peter Huber (eds.) 2004, La Internacional comunista y América latina, 1919–1943: Diccionario biográfico, Moscow: Latin America Institute.
Kahan, Vilém 1976, ‘The Communist International, 1919–43: The Personnel of its Highest Bodies’, International Review of Social History, 21 (1976), 2, pp. 151–85
Lane, A. Thomas (ed.) (1995), Biographical Dictionary of European Labor Leaders, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Lazitch, Branko (ed.) 1986, Biographical Dictionary of the Comintern, Stanford: Hoover Institution Press.
Lorwin, Lewis L. 1929, Labor and Internationalism, New York: Macmillan
Maitron, Jean (ed.) 1964–97, Dictionnaire biographique du mouvement ouvrier français, 44 volumes, Paris: Éditions Ouvrières.
Maitron, Jean and Georges Haupt (eds.) 1971–, Dictionnaire biographique du mouvement ouvrier international, 11 volumes, Paris: Éditions Ouvrières.
Morgan, Kevin, Gidon Cohen, and Andrew Flinn (eds.) 2005, Agents of the Revolution: New Biographical Approaches to the History of International Communism in the Age of Lenin and Stalin, Oxford: Peter Lang Publishing.
Schneider, Dieter Marc et al. (eds.) 1980, Biographisches Handbuch der deutschsprachigen Emigration nach 1933, 2 volumes, Munich: K.G. Saur.
Tych, Feliks (ed.) 1985, Słownik biograficzny działaczu polskiego ruchu robotniczego, 3 volumes, Warsaw: Książka i Wiedza.
Weber, Hermann and Andreas Herbst (eds.) 2004, Deutsche Kommunisten: Biographisches Handbuch 1918 bis 1945, Berlin: Dietz Verlag.
And the following Web resources:
International Institute of Social History: <http://www.iisg.nl/archives/en/>
Smolny: Collectif d’édition des introuvables du mouvement ouvrier: <http://www.collectif-smolny.org/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=19>
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung: <http://library.fes.de/fulltext/bibliothek/chronik/persreg_index.html>
Gauche Allemande: <http://troploin0.free.fr/biblio/biograph/>
Graham Stevenson: <http://188.8.131.52/grahamstevenson.me.uk/>
In addition, significant biographical appendices are found in Agosti (ed.) 1974, Bock 1969, Broué 1997, Broué 2005, Bosić et al. (eds.) 1981, Chase 2001, Piatnitskii and Taras 2004, Reviakina et al. (eds.) 2005, Riddell (ed.) 1991, Riddell (ed.) 1993, Riddell (ed.) 2011b, Serge 2012, and Tosstorff 2004.
Third Congress–Related Comintern Documents
Adhikari, Gangadhar M. (ed.) 1971, Documents of the History of the Communist Party of India, 8 volumes, New Delhi: People’s Publishing House.
Adibekov, Grant and Kharuki Vada (eds.) 2001, VKP(b), Komintern i Iaponiia 1917–1941, Moscow: ROSSPEN.
Agosti, Aldo (ed.) 1974, La Terza Internazionale: Storia documentaria, Volume 1 (1919–23), Rome: Editori Riuniti.
Bahne, Siegfried (ed.) 1970, Archives de Jules Humbert-Droz, Volume 1, Dordrecht: D. Reidel.
Bosić, Milovan, et al. (eds.) 1981, Komunistička internacionala: stenogrami i dokumenti kongresa, 7 volumes, Gornji Milanovac: Kulturni centar.
Broué, Pierre (ed.) 1974, Les congrès de l’Internationale communiste: Le premier congrès, 2–6 mars, 1919, Paris: Études et documentation internationales.
——— 1979, Du premier au deuxième congrès de l’Internationale communiste, mars 1919–juillet 1920, Paris: Études et documentation internationales.
Chaqueri, Cosroe (ed.) 1969–94, Asnād-i tārīkhī-i junbish-i kārgarī, sūsyāl dimūkrāsī va kumūnīstī-i Īrān [Historical Documents: The Workers’, Social Democratic, and Communist Movement in Iran], 23 volumes, Tehran: Intishārāt-i Pādzahr.
Comintern 1920, Der zweite Kongress der Kommunistischen Internationale, Vienna: Arbeiter Buchhandlung.
——— 1921a, Ital’ianskaia sotsialisticheskaia partiia i Kommunisticheskii internatsional (sbornik materialov), Petrograd: Comintern.
——— 1921b, Le parti socialiste italien et I’Internationale: recueil de documents, Petrograd: Éditions de l’Internationale communiste.
——— 1921f, Der zweite Kongress der Kommunistischen Internationale, Hamburg: Verlag der Kommunistischen Internationale.
——— 1922a, Die Tätigkeit der Exekutive und des Präsidiums des E.K. der Kommunistischen Internationale vom 13. Juli 1921 bis 1. Februar 1922, Petrograd: Verlag der Kommunistischen Internationale.
——— 1923, Veröffentlichungen des Verlages der Kommunistischen Internationale 1920 bis 1922, Hamburg: Carl Hoym Nachf.
——— 1988, Gongchan guoji disanci daibiao dahui wenjian [Documents of the Third Congress of the Communist International], Beijing: Zhongguo renmin daxue chuban she.
Davidson, Apollon et al. (eds.) 2003, Socialist Pilgrims to Bolshevik Footsoldiers, 1919–1930, in South Africa and the Communist International: A Documentary History, Volume 1, London: Frank Cass.
Degras, Jane (ed.) 1971, The Communist International 1919–1943 Documents, 3 volumes, New York: Frank Cass.
Drabkin, Ia.S., L.G. Babichenko, and K.K. Shirinia (eds.) 1998, Komintern i ideia mirovoi revoliutsii, Moscow: Nauka.
Gankin, Olga Hess, and H.H. Fisher (eds.) 1940, The Bolsheviks and the World War, Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Gruber, Helmut (ed.) 1967, International Communism in the Era of Lenin, Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Hedeler, Wladislaw and Alexander Vatlin (eds.) 2008, Die Weltpartei aus Moskau: Der Gründungskongress der Kommunistischen Internationale 1919, Berlin: Akademie Verlag.
IML-SED (Institut für Marxismus-Leninismus beim ZK der SED) 1966a Dokumente und Materialien der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung, Bd. VII/1 1919–1921, Berlin: Dietz Verlag.
——— 1966b. Geschichte der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung, Band 3. Von 1917 bis 1923, Berlin: Dietz Verlag.
Joshi, Puran Chandra and K. Damodaran (eds.) 2007, A Documented History of the Communist Movement in India, 2 volumes, New Delhi: Sunrise Publications.
Kalmykov, N.P. (ed.) 1998, Komintern i Latinskaia Amerika: Sbornik dokumentov, Moscow: Nauka.
Kuo Heng-yü and M.L. Titarenko (eds.) 1996, RKP(B), Komintern und die national-revolutionäre Bewegung in China: Dokumente, Volume 1 (1920–5), Paderborn: F. Schöningh.
Meijer, Jan (ed.) 1964, The Trotsky Papers, 1917–1922, 2 volumes, The Hague: Mouton.
PCI (Communist Party of Italy) 1921, La questione italiana al terzo congresso della Internazionale Comunista, Rome: Libreria Editrice del Partito Comunista d’Italia.
——— 1922, Manifesti ed altri documenti politici, Roma: Libreria Editrice del Partito Comunista d’Italia.
Parti socialiste 1921, 18ème congrès national tenu à Tours. Compte rendu sténographique, Paris.
Prometheus Research Library 1988, Guidelines on the Organizational Structure of Communist Parties, on the Methods and Content of Their Work. New York
Radek, Karl 1924, Piat’ let Kominterna, 2 volumes, Moscow.
Reviakina, Luiza et al. (eds.) 2005, Kominternut i Bulgariia, 2 volumes, Sofia: Glavo upravlenie na archivite.
RILU 1921, Resolutions and Decisions of the First International Congress of Revolutionary Trade and Industrial Unions, Chicago: The Voice of Labor.
Saich, Tony (ed.) 1991, The Origins of the First United Front in China: The Role of Sneevliet (Alias Maring), 2 volumes, Leiden: Brill.
——— 1996, The Rise to Power of the Chinese Communist Party: Documents and Analysis, Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.
Shirinia, K.K. (ed.) 1970, V. I. Lenin i Kommunisticheskii internatsional, Moscow: Politizdat.
——— and Kharuki Vada (eds.) 2007, VKP(b), Komintern i Koreia, 1918–1941, Moscow: ROSSPEN.
Stoljarowa, Ruth and Peter Schmalfuss (eds.) 1990, Briefe Deutscher an Lenin, 1917–1923, Berlin: Dietz Verlag.
Titarenko, M.L. (ed.) 1986, Kommunisticheskii internatsional i kitaiskaia revoliutsiia: dokumenty i materialy, Moscow: Nauka.
——— et al. (eds.) 1994, VKP(b), Komintern, i natsional’no-revoliutsionnoe dvizhenie v Kitae: Dokumenty, Volume 1 (1920–5), Moscow: ROSSPEN.
Trotsky, Leon 1967, Le Mouvement communiste en France (1919–1939), Paris: Minuit.
——— 1972a, The First Five Years of the Communist International, 2 volumes, New York: Pathfinder Press.
Weber, Hermann (ed.) 1966, Die Kommunistische Internationale: Eine Dokumentation, Hanover: J.H.W. Dietz Nachf.
Zentrale der KPD 1922, Die Enthüllungen zu den Märzkämpfen. Enthülltes und Verschwiegenes.
Zentrale der VKPD 1921, Taktik und Organisation der revolutionären Offensive: Die Lehren der März-Aktion, Leipzig-Berlin.
Selected Bibliography of Third Congress–Related Literature
Abrahamian, Ervand 1982, Iran Between Two Revolutions, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Adibekov, G.M., E.N. Shakhnazarova, and K.K. Shirinia 1997, Organizatsionnaia struktura Kominterna: 1919–1943, Moscow: ROSSPEN.
Agosti, Aldo 2009, Il Partito mondiale della rivoluzione : Saggi sul comunismo e l’Internazionale, Milan: Unicopli.
Alba, Victor 1983, The Communist Party in Spain, New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books.
Amendola, Giorgio 1978, Storia del Partito comunista italiano, Rome: Editori Riuniti.
Andreu, Maurice 2003, L’Internationale communiste contre le capital, 1919–1924; ou comment empoigner l’adversaire capitaliste? Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Angell, Norman 1913, The Great Illusion: A Study of the Relation of Military Power to National Advantage. London: Heinemann.
Angress, Werner T. 1963, Stillborn Revolution: The Communist Bid for Power in Germany, 1921–1923, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Angus, Ian 1981, Canadian Bolsheviks: The Early Years of the Communist Party of Canada, Montreal: Vanguard.
Artemov, V.A. 2000, Karl Radek: Ideia i sud’ba, Voronezh: Voronezh State University.
Avakumović, Ivan 1967, History of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press.
Badia, Gilbert 1993, Clara Zetkin, féministe sans frontières, Paris: Éditions Ouvrières.
Balsamini, Luigi 2002, Gli Arditi del Popolo: Dalla guerra alla difesa del popolo contro le violenze fasciste, Salerno: Galzerano Editore.
Bauer, Otto 1919, Der Weg zum Sozialismus [The Road to Socialism]. Vienna: Volksbuchhandlung.
Bayerlein, Bernhard H. et al. (eds.) 2013, Deutschland, Russland, Komintern – Überblicke, Analysen, Diskussionen: Neue Perspektiven auf die Geschichte der KPD und die deutsch-russischen Beziehungen (1918–1943), Berlin: De Gruyter.
Becker, Jens 2001, Heinrich Brandler: Eine politische Biographie, Hamburg: VSA-Verlag.
Beckmann, George M. and Genji Okubo 1969, The Japanese Communist Party 1922–1945, Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Behan, Tom 2003, The Resistible Rise of Benito Mussolini, London: Bookmarks.
Bell, John D. 1986, The Bulgarian Communist Party from Blagoev to Zhivkov, Stanford: Hoover Institution Press.
Beradt, Charlotte 1969, Paul Levi: ein demokratischer Sozialist in der Weimarer Republik, Frankfurt am Main: Europäische Verlagsanstalt.
Bezvesel’nyi, S.F. and D.E. Grinberg (eds.) 1968, They Knew Lenin: Reminiscences of Foreign Contemporaries, Moscow: Progress Publishers.
Bock, Hans Manfred 1969, Syndikalismus und Linkskommunismus von 1918–1923, Meisenheim am Glan: A. Hain.
Bois, Marcel and Florian Wilde 2007, ‘Modell für den künftigen Umgang mit innerparteilicher Discussion? Der Heidelberger Parteitag der KPD 1919’, Jahrbuch für Forschungen zur Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung, 6: 2.
Il Bolscevismo: giudicato dai Socialisti Italiani, 1921, Rome: Tipografia Soc. Editrice Urbs.
Borkenau, Franz 1962, World Communism: A History of the Communist International, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Borsányi, György 1993, The Life of a Communist Revolutionary, Béla Kun, New York: Columbia University Press.
Brackman, Arnold C. 1963, Indonesian Communism: A History, New York: Praeger.
Brandler, Heinrich 1921a, Der Hochverratsprozess gegen Heinrich Brandler vor dem Gericht ausserordentlich, am 6. Juni 1921 in Berlin, Leipzig-Berlin.
Brandler, Heinrich 1921b, War die Märzaktion ein Putsch? Berlin, Leipzig: Franke.
Brandt, Willi and Richard Lowenthal 1957, Ernst Reuter, ein Leben für die Freiheit, Munich: Kindler.
Braunthal, Julius 1967, History of the International, Volume 2, London: Nelson.
Broué, Pierre 1988, Trotsky, Paris: Fayard.
——— 1997, Histoire de l’Internationale communiste 1919–43, Paris: Fayard.
——— 2005, The German Revolution 1917–1923, London: Merlin Press.
Brown, W.J. 1986, The Communist Movement and Australia: An Historical Outline – 1890s to 1980s, Haymarket, Australia: Australian Labor Movement History Publications.
Buber-Neumann, Margarete 1967, Kriegsschauplätze der Weltrevolution: Ein Bericht aus der Praxis der Komintern 1919–1943, Stuttgart: Seewald.
Bukharin, Nikolai 1971 , Economics of the Transformation Period, New York: Bergman Publishers.
Calwer, Richard 1921, Staatsbankrott: Darstellung seiner Ursachem und Wirkungen, Berlin: Wirtschaftsstatist. Bureau.
Cammett, John M. 1967, Antonio Gramsci and the Origins of Italian Communism, Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Campione, Daniel (ed.) 2007, Buenos Aires – Moscú – Buenos Aires: Los comunistas argentinos y la Tercera internacional, primera parte (1921–1926), Buenos Aires: Ediciones CCC Floreal Gorini.
Cannon, James P. 1973, The First Ten Years of American Communism, New York: Pathfinder Press.
Carr, E.H. 1966, The Bolshevik Revolution 1917–1923, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.
Chaqueri, Cosroe 1995, The Soviet Socialist Republic of Iran, 1920-1921: Birth of the Trauma. Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Press.
——— 2010, The Left in Iran 1905-1940, London: Merlin Press
Chesneaux, Jean 1968, The Chinese Labor Movement, 1919–1927, Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Claudín, Fernando 1975, The Communist Movement: From Comintern to Cominform, 2 volumes, New York: Monthly Review Press.
Cliff, Tony 1979, The Bolsheviks and World Communism, in Lenin, Volume 4, London: Pluto Press.
Cohen, Stephen 1973, Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political Biography 1888–1938, New York: Knopf.
Comintern 1970 , The First Congress of the Toilers of the Far East, London: Hammersmith.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) History Commission 2005, History of the Communist Movement in India, New Delhi: CPI(M) Publications.
Communist Party of Italy 1922, Manifesti ed altri documenti politici, Roma: Libreria Editrice del Partito Comunista d’Italia.
Cornell, Richard 1982, Revolutionary Vanguard: The Early Years of the Communist Youth International 1914–1924, Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Cortesi, Luigi 1999, Le Origini del PCI, Milan: FrancoAngeli.
——— 2010, Storia del comunismo: Da utopia al Termidoro sovietico, Rome: Manifestolibri.
Courtois, Stéphane 1995, Histoire du Parti communiste français, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Cvetković, Slavoljub 1985, Idejne borbe u Komunističkoi partiji Jugoslavije (1919–1928), Belgrade: Institut za Savremenu Istoriju.
Dahlmann, F.E. 1844, The History of the English Revolution, London: Longman.Datta Gupta, Sobhanlal 1980, Comintern, India and the Colonial Question, Calcutta: Centre for Studies in Social Sciences.——— 2006, Comintern and the Destiny of Communism in India: 1919–1943: Dialectics of Real and a Possible History, Calcutta: Sreejoni.
Day, Richard B. 1973, Leon Trotsky and the Politics of Economic Isolation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
De Weydenthal, Jan B. 1978, The Communists of Poland: An Historical Outline, Stanford: Hoover Institution Press.
Degras, Jane 1951, Soviet Documents on Foreign Policy, London: Oxford University Press.
Di Biagio, Anna 2004, Coesistenza e isolazionismo: Mosca, il Komintern e l’Europa di Versailles (1918–1928), Rome: Carocci Editore.
Digby, Margaret 1982, The World Co-operative Movement, London: Hutchinson’s University Library.
Dirlik, Arif 1989, The Origins of Chinese Communism, New York: Oxford University Press.
Dobbs, Farrell 1983, Revolutionary Continuity: Birth of the Communist Movement 1918–1922, New York: Monad Press.
Dornemann, Luise 1973, Clara Zetkin: Leben und Wirken, Berlin: Dietz Verlag.
Drachkovitch, Milorad M. and Branko M. Lazić (eds.) 1966, The Comintern; Historical Highlights, Essays, Recollections, Documents, New York: Praeger.
Draper, Theodore 1957, The Roots of American Communism, New York: Viking Press.
Dreyfus, Michel et al. 2000, Le Siècle des communismes, Paris: Éditions Ouvrières.
Droz, Jacques 1977, Histoire générale du socialisme, Volume 3, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Ducoulombier, Romain 2010, Camarades! La naissance du Parti communiste en France, Paris: Librairie Académique Perrin.
Dulles, John W.F. 1973, Anarchists and Communists in Brazil, 1900–1935, Austin: University of Texas Press.
Dziewanowski, M.K. 1976, The Communist Party of Poland: An Outline of History, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Fayet, Jean-François 2004, Karl Radek (1885–1939): Biographie politique, Bern: P. Lang.
——— 2008, ‘Paul Levi and the Turning Point of 1921’, in Bolshevism, Stalinism and the Comintern, edited by Norman LaPorte, Matthew Worley, and Kevin Morgan, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Feigon, Lee 1983, Chen Duxiu, Founder of the Chinese Communist Party, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Fernbach, David (ed.) 2011, In the Steps of Rosa Luxemburg: Selected Writings of Paul Levi, Historical Materialism Book Series, Leiden: Brill.
Fiori, Giuseppe 1971, Antonio Gramsci: Life of a Revolutionary, New York: Dutton.
Firsov, F.I. 1975, Tretii kongress Kominterna: Razvitie kongressom politicheskoi linii kommunisticheskogo dvizheniia, kommunisty i massy, Moscow: Politizdat.
——— 2007, Sekretnye kody istorii Kominterna 1919–1943, Moscow: AIRO-XXI.
Fischer, Ruth 1948, Stalin and German Communism, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Flechtheim, Ossip Kurt 1969, Die KPD in der Weimarer Republik, Frankfurt: Europäische Verlagsanstalt.
Frank, Pierre 1979, Histoire de l’Internationale communiste, 1919–1943, Paris: La Brèche.
Frölich, Paul 2012 , Autobiographie 1890-1921: Parcours d’un militant internationaliste allemand, Montreuil: Science Marxiste.
Fuhrer, Armin 2011, Ernst Thälmann : Soldat des Proletariats, München: Olzog.
Galli, Giorgio 1980, Storia del socialismo italiano, Rome: Laterza.
——— 1993, Storia del PCI: Livorno 1921, Rimini 1991, Milan: Kaos Edizioni.
Geyer, Curt 1976, Die revolutionäre Illusion: Zur Geschichte des linken Flügels der USPD, Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt.
Gilberg, Trond 1973, The Soviet Communist Party and Scandinavian Communism: The Norwegian Case, Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.
Goldbach, Marie-Luise 1973, Karl Radek und die deutsch-sowjetischen Beziehungen 1918–1923, Bonn: Verlag Neue Gesellschaft.
Gollan, Robin 1975, Revolutionaries and Reformists: Communism and the Australian Labour Movement 1920–1955, Surrey: Richmond Publishing.
Gorter, Herman 1920, Open Letter to Comrade Lenin: <http://www.marxists.org/archive/gorter/1920/open-letter/index.htm>
——— 1921, Die Klassenkampf-Organisation des Proletariats, Berlin: KAPD.
Gramsci, Antonio 1974, Socialismo e fascismo: L’Ordine nuovo 1921–1922, Turin: Einaudi.
Gras, Christian 1971, Alfred Rosmer (1877–1964) et le mouvement révolutionnaire international, Paris: François Maspéro.
Gross, Babette 1991, Willi Münzenberg: eine politische Biografie, Leipzig: Forum.
Gruber, Helmut and Pamela Graves 1998, Women and Socialism, Socialism and Women: Europe Between the Two World Wars, New York: Berghahn Books.
Gutjahr, Wolf-Dietrich 2012, Revolution muss sein: Karl Radek – Die Biographie, Cologne: Böhlau Verlag.
Hájek, Miloš 1969, Storia dell’Internazionale comunista (1921–1935): la política del fronte unico, Roma: Editori Riuniti.
Hájek, Miloš and Hana Mejdrová 1997, Die Entstehung der III. Internationale, Bremen: Edition Temmen.
Hallas, Duncan 1985, The Comintern, London: Bookmarks.
Harris, George S. 1967, The Origins of Communism in Turkey, Stanford: Hoover Institution Press.
Haywood, William 1929, Bill Haywood’s Book, New York: International Publishers.
Held, Walter 1942, ‘Why the German Revolution Failed’, Fourth International, December 1942, January 1943
Hilferding, Rudolf 1919, Der Weg zum Sozialismus, Vienna: Volksbuchhandlung.
Hodgson, John H. 1967, Communism in Finland: A History and Interpretation, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Hoelz, Max, 1930, From White Cross to Red Flag, London: Jonathan Cape.
Horowitz, Daniel L. 1963, The Italian Labor Movement, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Howe, Irving and Lewis Coser 1957, The American Communist Party: A Critical History, 1919–1957, Boston: Beacon Press.
International Labour Office 1921: First Special International Trade Union Congress, Geneva: ILO.
International Socialist Congress 1967, The Second and Third Internationals and the Vienna Union: Official Report of the Conference between the Executives, held at the Reichstag, Berlin, on the 2nd April, 1922, and the Following Days, Milan: Feltrinelli.
International Working Union of Socialist Parties 1921. Protokoll der internationaler sozialistischen Konferenz in Wien von 22. bis 27. Februar 1921. Vienna: Wiener Volksbuchhandlung
Ismael, Tareq Y. and Rifat Saïd 1990, The Communist Movement in Egypt, 1920–1988, Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.
Izquierdo, Manuel 1995, La Tercera Internacional en España: 1914–1923, Madrid: Ediciones Endymión.
Jackson, George D. 1966, Comintern and Peasant in East Europe, 1919–1930, New York: Columbia University Press.
Jentsch, Harald 1993, Die politische Theorie August Thalheimers, 1919–1923, Mainz: Decaton.
Kalmykov, N.P. 1998, Komintern i Latinskaia Amerika: sbornik dokumentov, Moscow: Nauka.
KAPD 1921, Der Weg des Dr Levi – der Weg der VKPD, Berlin: KAPD.
Kessler, Mario 2013, Ruth Fischer: Ein Leben mit und gegen Kommunisten (1895–1961), Vienna: Böhlau Verlag.
King, Robert R. 1980, A History of the Romanian Communist Party, Stanford: Hoover Institution Press.
Kinner, Klaus and Elke Reuter 1999, Der deutsche Kommunismus: Selbstverständnis und Realität, Berlin: Dietz Verlag.
Klugmann, James 1968, History of the Communist Party of Great Britain, Volume 1: Formation and Early Years 1919–1924, London: Lawrence & Wishart.
Knatz, C. 2000, Ein Heer im grünen Rock? Der Mitteldeutsche Aufstand 1921, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.
Koch-Baumgarten, Sigrid 1986, Aufstand der Avantgarde: Die Märzaktion der KPD 1921, Frankfurt: Campus Verlag.
König, Helmut 1967, Lenin und der italienische Sozialismus 1915–1921, Tübingen: Böhlau Verlag.
Kopeček, Michal and Zdeněk Kárník 2003, Bolševismus, komunismus a radikální socialismus v Československu, Prague: Ústav pro soudobé dějiny AV ČR.
Kössler, Reinhart 1982, Dritte Internationale und Bauernrevolution: Die Herausbildung des sowjetischen Marxismus in der Debatte um die “asiatische” Produktionsweise, Frankfurt: Campus Verlag.
Kovrig, Bennett 1979, Communism in Hungary from Kun to Kádár, Stanford: Hoover Institution Press.
Krause, Hartfrid 1975, USPD: Zur Geschichte der Unabhängigen Sozialdemokratischen Partei Deutschlands, Frankfurt am Main: Europäische Verlagsanstalt.
Kublin, Hyman 1964, Asian Revolutionary: The Life of Sen Katayama, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Kuo Heng-yü and M.L. Titarenko (eds.) 1996, RKP(B), Komintern und die national-revolutionäre Bewegung in China: dokumente, Volume 1 (1920–1925), Paderborn: F. Schöningh.
Kurella, Alfred 1970 [1929–31], Der Kampf um die Massen, in Schüller, R. et al., Geschichte der Kommunistischen Jugendinternationale, Volume 2, Nördlingen: Trikont.
Labour and Socialist International 1920, The Congress of the Labour and Socialist International (Geneva, July 31st–August 6th, 1920), Geneva: International Labour Office.
Langer, Bernd 2009, Revolution und bewaffnete Aufstände in Deutschland 1919–1923, Göttingen: AktivDruck.
LaPorte, Norman, Matthew Worley, and Kevin Morgan (eds.) 2008, Bolshevism, Stalinism and the Comintern, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Lazitch, Branko and Milorad Drachkovitch 1972, Lenin and the Comintern, Stanford: Hoover Institution Press.
Lebedeva, N.S., Kimmo Rentola, and T. Saarela (eds.) 2003, Komintern i Finlandia: 1919–1943, Moscow: Nauka.
Lenin, V.I. 1958–65, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii (PSS), Moscow: Gosizdat.
——— 1960–71, Collected Works (LCW), 45 volumes, Moscow: Progress Publishers.
Leonhard, Wolfgang 1981, Völker hört die Signale: Die Anfänge des Weltkommunismus 1919–1924, Munich: Bertelsmann.
Lerner, Warren 1970, Karl Radek, the Last Internationalist, Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Levi, Paul 1921a, Der Beginn der Krise in der Kommunistischen Partei und Internationale. Rede von Paul Levi auf der Sitzung des Zentralauschusses der V.K.P.D. am 24. Februar 1921, Remscheid.
——— 1921b, Unser Weg: Wider den Putschismus, Berlin: A. Seehof. For translation see Fernbach (ed.) 2011.
——— 1921c, Was ist das Verbrechen? Die Märzaktion oder die Kritik daran? Berlin. For translation see Fernbach (ed.) 2011.
——— Selected writings, see Fernbach (ed.), 2011.
Leviné-Meyer, Rosa 1977, Inside German Communism: Memoirs of Party Life in the Weimar Republic, London: Pluto Press.
Lewis, Ben, and Lars T. Lih (eds.) 2011, Zinoviev and Martov: Head to Head in Halle, London: November Publications.
Li Yuzhen and Du Weihua (eds.) 1989, Malin yu diyici guogong hezuo [Maring (Sneevliet) and the first period of cooperation between the Guomindang and the Communists], Beijing: Guangming Ribao Chubanshe.
Lorenz, Einhart 1978, Norwegische Arbeiterbewegung und Kommunistische Internationale 1919–1930, Oslo: Pax Forlag.
Löwy, Michael 1980, Le Marxisme en Amérique Latine de 1909 à nos jours, Paris: François Maspéro.
Luks, Leonid 1985, Entstehung der kommunistischen Faschismustheorie: die Auseindersetzung der Komintern mit Faschismus und Nationalsozialismus 1921–1935, Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlagsanstalt.
Luxemburg, Rosa 2004, The Rosa Luxemburg Reader, edited by Peter Hudis and Kevin B. Anderson, New York: Monthly Review Press.
MacFarlane, L.J. 1966, The British Communist Party: Its Origin and Development until 1929, Worcester, UK: MacGibbon and Kee.
Malatesta, Alberto 1926, I socialisti italiani durante la Guerra, Milan: Mondadori.
Mallmann, Klaus-Michael, Kommunisten in der Weimarer Republik: Sozialgeschichte einer revolutionären Bewegung, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.
Mamaeva, N.L., 1999, Komintern i Gomin’dan: 1919–1929, Moscow: ROSSPEN.
Martinelli, Renzo, 1977, Il Partito comunista d’Italia, 1921–1926: Politica e organizzazione, Rome: Editori Riuniti.
Marx, Karl 1977–81, Capital, 3 volumes, New York: Vintage Books.
——— and Frederick Engels 1975–2004, Collected Works (MECW), Moscow: Progress Publishers.
Maurseth, Per 1972, Fra moskvateser til Kristiania-forslag: Det norske Arbeiderparti og Komintern fra 1921 til februar 1923, Oslo: Pax Forlag.
Mayenburg, Ruth von 1991, Hotel Lux: das Absteigequartier der Weltrevolution, Munich: Piper.
McDermott, Kevin 1988, The Czech Red Unions, 1918–1929, Boulder: East European Monographs.
——— and Jeremy Agnew 1996, The Comintern: A History of International Communism from Lenin to Stalin, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
McVey, Ruth T. 1965, The Rise of Indonesian Communism, Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Meaker, Gerald H. 1974, The Revolutionary Left in Spain, 1914–23, Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Mehring, Franz 1960, Geschichte der deutschen Sozial-demokratie, Berlin: Dietz Verlag.
Möller, Dietrich 1976, Revolutionär, Intrigant, Diplomat: Karl Radek in Deutschland, Cologne: Verlag Wissenschaft und Politik.
Molnár, Miklós 1990, From Béla Kun to János Kádár: Seventy Years of Hungarian Communism, New York: Berg.
Morgan, David W. 1975, The Socialist Left and the German Revolution: A History of the German Independent Social Democratic Party, 1917–1922, Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Mortimer, Edward 1984, The Rise of the French Communist Party 1920–1947, London: Faber & Faber.
Münzenberg, Willi 1931, Solidarität: Zehn Jahre Internationale Arbeiterhilfe, 1921–1931, Berlin: Neuer Deutscher Verlag.
——— 1978 , Die dritte Front: Aufzeichnungen aus 15 Jahren proletarischer Jugendbewegung, Berlin: LitPol.
Mujbegović, Vera 1968, Komunistička partija Nemačke u periodu posleratne krize 1918–1923, Belgrade: Institut za Izučavanje Radničkog Pokreta.
Narinsky, Mikhail and Jürgen Rojahn 1996, Centre and Periphery: The History of the Comintern in the Light of New Documents, Amsterdam: International Institute of Social History.
Natoli, Claudio 1982, La Terza Internationale e il fascismo, 1919–1923: Proletariato di fabbrica e reazione industriale nel primo dopoguerra, Rome: Editori Riuniti.
Nofri, Gregorio and Fernando Pozzani 1921, La Russia com’è, Florence: Ben Parad.
O’Connor, Emmet 2005, Reds and the Green: Ireland, Russia, and the Communist Internationals, 1919–43, Dublin: University College Press.
Palmer, Bryan 2007, James P. Cannon and the Origins of the American Revolutionary Left 1890–1928, Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Pannekoek, Anton 1920, Die Entwicklung der Weltrevolution und die Taktik des Communismus, Petrograd. English edition: <http://www.marxists.org/archive/pannekoe/tactics>
Pantsov, Alexander 2000, The Bolsheviks and the Chinese Revolution, 1919–1927, Richmond, Surrey: Curzon Press.
Peng Shu-tse 1983, L’envol du communisme en Chine: mémoires de Peng Shuzhi, Paris: Gallimard.
Peterson, Larry 1993, German Communism, Workers’ Protest, and Labor Unions: The Politics of the United Front in Rhineland-Westphalia 1920–1924, Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Piatnitskii, V. I. and A.E. Taras (2004). Osip Piatnitskii i Komintern na vesakh istorii. Minsk: Kharvest.
Plener, Ulla (ed.) 2008, Clara Zetkin in ihrer Zeit: Neue Fakten, Erkenntnisse, Wertungen, Berlin: Dietz Verlag.
Porter, Cathy 1980, Alexandra Kollontai: A Biography, London: Virago.
Post, Kenneth William John 1997, Revolution’s Other World: Communism and the Periphery, 1917–39, Basingstoke: Macmillan.
Prager, Eugen 1980 , Das Gebot der Stunde: Geschichte der USPD, Berlin: Dietz.
Privalov, V.V. 1971, The Young Communist International and Its Origins, Moscow: Progress Publishers.
PSI (Socialist Party of Italy) 1962 , Resoconto stenografico del XVII Congresso Nazionale del Partito Socialista Italiano, Milan: Edizioni Avanti.
Puschnerat, Tânia 2003, Clara Zetkin: Bürgerlichkeit und Marxismus, Essen: Klartext Verlag.
Racine, Nicole and Louis Bodin 1972, Le Parti communiste français pendant l’entre-deux-guerres, Paris: A. Colin.
Radek, Karl 1920, Die auswärtige Politik des deutschen Kommunismus und der Hamburger nationale Bolschewismus, Vienna: KPD.
——— 1921, Die taktischen Differenzen in der V.K.P.D.: Soll die V.K.P.D. eine Massenpartei der revolutionären Aktion oder eine zentristische Partei des Wartens sein? Moscow: Verlag der Kommunistischen Internationale.
Rees, Tim and Andrew Thorpe (eds.) 1999, International Communism and the Communist International 1919–1943, Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Reisberg, Arnold 1964, Lenin und die Aktionseinheit in Deutschland, Berlin: Dietz Verlag.
——— 1971, An den Quellen der Einheitsfrontpolitik, Berlin: Dietz Verlag.
Rentola, Kimmi and Tauno Saarela 1998, Communism: National and International, Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society.
Richardson, Al (ed.) 2000, From Syndicalism to Trotskyism: Writings of Alfred and Marguerite Rosmer, Chatham MI: Porcupine Press.
Riddell, John 2011a, ‘The Origins of the United Front Policy’, International Socialism, 130 (Spring): 113–40, available at: <http://www.isj.org.uk/?id=724>
Riddell, John: For documentary volumes on the Comintern, see opening section of this bibliography.
Robrieux, Philippe 1980, Histoire intérieure du parti communiste, Paris: Fayard.
Rosmer, Alfred 1971, Lenin’s Moscow, London: Pluto Press.
Rothschild, Joseph 1959, The Communist Party of Bulgaria: Origins and Development, 1883–1936, New York: Columbia University Press.
Roy, Manabendra Nath 1964, M.N. Roy’s Memoirs, Bombay: Allied Publishers.
Roy, Samaren 1986, The Twice-Born Heretic: M.N. Roy and Comintern, Calcutta: Firma KLM.
Rubenstein, Sondra Miller 1985, The Communist Movement in Palestine and Israel, 1919-1984, Boulder: Westview Press.
Rudolf L. Tőkés 1967, Béla Kun and the Hungarian Soviet Republic, New York: Praeger.
Scalapino, Robert A. and Chong-Sik Lee 1972, Communism in Korea, Berkeley: University of California Press.
Schlesinger, Rudolf 1970, Die Kolonialfrage in der Kommunistischen Internationale, Frankfurt: Europäische Verlagsanstalt.
Schröder, Joachim 2008, Internationalismus nach dem Krieg: Die Beziehungen zwischen deutschen und französischen Kommunisten 1918–1923, Essen: Klartext.
Schumacher, Horst and Feliks Tych 1966, Julian Marchlewski-Karski: Eine Biographie, Berlin: Dietz Verlag.
Serge, Victor 2012 , Memoirs of a Revolutionary, New York: New York Review Books.
Simoncini, Gabriele 1993, The Communist Party of Poland, 1918–1929: A Study in Political Ideology, Lewiston, NY: E. Mellen Press.
Sivan, Emmanuel 1976, Communisme et nationalisme en Algérie 1920–1962, Paris: Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques.
Socialist Party of France 1921, Parti socialiste, 18ème congrès national tenu à Tours. Compte-rendu sténographique, Paris: Courbevoie.
Spriano, Paolo 1967, Storia del Partito comunista italiano, 7 volumes, Turin: Einaudi.
——— 1975, The Occupation of the Factories, London: Pluto.
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