The Comintern and the Western Communist Parties 1930-1949
2. The Comintern and the Western Communist Parties 1930-1949 Dr. Nikolaos Papadatos- University of Geneva
Moscow in 1919. From its establishment to its dissolution in
1943 formed a specific worldwide network of devoted
communist cadres. This course examines the relations of the
western communist parties with the Comintern. The goal is to
understand the way national communist parties interact with
the supranational authority of the Communist International.
Topics include the centre-periphery debate; the process of
Bolshevization; the popular front; the Spanish civil war; the
transition from Comintern to Cominform.
• The Italian Communist Party: the problem of fascism.
• The French communist Party: the popular front.
• The Spanish civil war and the Comintern.
• The Greek Communist Party: 1924-1949.
• Seminar I: The General secretaries of KKE, PCD’I, PCF and
PCE: (Zachariadis, Togliatti, Thorez, Diaz).
• The Comintern and the “Great Terror”.
• The education of the cadres: KYNMZ and KYTV.
• Seminar II: (OMS and Bolshevization).
5. BIBLIOGRAPHY• Brigitte Studer, “The Transnational World of the Cominterians”,
London: Macmillan, 2008.
• Charles R. Shrader, “The withered vine: logistics and the
communist insurgency in Greece, 1945-1949”, London: Praeger,
• Daniel Kowalsky, “Stalin and the Spanish Civil War”. New York:
Columbia University Press, 2008.
• E.H. Carr, “Wilight of the Comintern, 1930-1935”. New York:
Pantheon Books, 1982.
• Elena Agarossi, Victor Zaslavsky, “Stalin and Togliatti: Italy and the
Origins of the Cold War”, Stanford: Stanford University Press,
international communism from Lenin to Stalin”, London: MacMillan,
• Mikhail Narisky, Jürgen Rojahn (Dir), “Centre and Periphery, The History
of the Comintern in the light of New Documents”, Amsterdam:
International Institute of Social History, 1996.
• N. LaPorte (Ed), K. Morgan (Ed), M. Worley (Ed), “Bolshevism, Stalinism
and the Comintern: Perspectives on Stalinization, 1917-53”, New York:
• Tim Rees, Timothy Rees (Ed), Andrew Thorpe (Ed), “International
Communism and the Communist International, 1919-43”, Manchester:
Manchester University Press, 1999.
• Tom Kemp, “Stalinism in France: The first twenty years of the French
Communist Party”. London: New Park, 1984.
• William J. Chase, “Enemies within the Gates? The Comintern and the
Stalinist Repression, 1934-1939”. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press,
7. Книги по истории Коминтерна• Фирсов Ф.И. Секретные коды истории Коминтерна 19191943. М.: Аиро-ХХI; Крафт, 2007. 576 с.
• История Коммунистического Интернационала : 1919-1943
: документальные очерки / отв. ред. А. О. Чубарьян ; Ин-т
всеобщей истории РАН. - Москва : Наука, 2002. - 413 с.
• Политбюро ЦК РКП(б) — ВКП(б) и Коминтерн. 1919-1943.
Документы, Москва : Росспэн, 2004, 961 с.
8. The Historical Context :• Why the Comintern ?
• The Russian Bolsheviks, headed by Lenin, believed that unless
socialist revolution swept Europe, they would be crushed by
the forces of world capitalism, just as the Paris Commune had
been crushed by force of arms in 1871.
10. The Critical Difference :• The difference between bourgeois democracy and the
dictatorship of the proletariat
11. The Comintern• The Comintern was founded at a Congress held in Moscow
March 2–6, 1919.
• Executive Committee of five members. However, Lenin,
Trotsky and Christian Rakovsky later delegated the task of
managing the International to Grigory Zinoviev as the
Chairman of the Executive.
• Grigory Zinoviev served as the first Chairman of the
Comintern's Executive Committee from 1919 to 1926. Lenin
however was the brain behind the scenes. (What is to be
12. The 21 Conditions :• All Propaganda and agitation must bear a really communist
character and correspond to the program and decisions of the
Communist International. All the party's press organs must be run
by reliable communists who have proved their devotion to the
cause of the proletariat. The dictatorship of the proletariat must
not be treated simply as a current formula learnt off by heart.
Propaganda for it must be carried out in such a way that its
necessity is comprehensible to every simple worker, every woman
worker, every soldier and peasant from the facts of their daily
lives, which must be observed systematically by our press and used
day by day
publishing institutions must be subordinated to the
party leadership, regardless of whether, at any given
moment, the party as a whole is legal or illegal. The
publishing houses must not be allowed to abuse their
independence and pursue policies that do not entirely
correspond to the policies of the party In the columns
of the press, at public meetings, in the trades unions, in
the co-operatives – wherever the members of the
Communist International can gain admittance – it is
necessary to brand not only the bourgeoisie but also its
helpers, the reformists of every shade, systematically
International must regularly and methodically remove reformists
and centrists from every responsible post in the labour movement
(party organisations, editorial boards, trades unions,
parliamentary factions, co-operatives, local government) and
replace them with tested communists, without worrying unduly
about the fact that, particularly at first, ordinary workers from
the masses will be replacing 'experienced' opportunists.
struggle is entering the phase of civil war. Under such
conditions the communists can place no trust in bourgeois
legality. They have the obligation of setting up a parallel
organisational apparatus which, at the decisive moment, can
assist the party to do its duty to the revolution. In every
country where a state of siege or emergency laws deprive the
communists of the opportunity of carrying on all their work
legally, it is absolutely necessary to combine legal and illegal
special obligation of forceful and systematic propaganda in
the army. Where this agitation is interrupted by emergency
laws it must be continued illegally. Refusal to carry out such
work would be tantamount to a betrayal of revolutionary duty
and would be incompatible with membership of the
countryside. The working class will not be able to win if it does
not have the backing of the rural proletariat and at least a part
of the poorest peasants, and if it does not secure the neutrality
of at least a part of the rest of the rural population through its
policies. Communist work in the countryside is taking on
enormous importance at the moment. It must be carried out
principally with the help of revolutionary communist workers
of the town and country who have connections with the
countryside. To refuse to carry this work out, or to entrust it to
unreliable, semi-reformist hands, is tantamount to renouncing
the proletarian revolution.
International has the obligation to unmask not only open
social-patriotism but also the insincerity and hypocrisy of social
pacificism, to show the workers systematically that, without the
revolutionary overthrow of capitalism, no international court
of arbitration, no agreement on the limitation of armaments,
no 'democratic' reorganisation of the League of Nations will be
able to prevent new imperialist wars.
International have the obligation of recognising the necessity of
a complete break with reformism and 'centrist' politics and of
spreading this break among the widest possible circles of their
party members. Consistent communist politics are impossible
without this. The Communist International unconditionally
and categorically demands the carrying out of this break in the
shortest possible time. The Communist International cannot
tolerate a situation where notorious opportunists
(Turati, Modigliani, Kautsky, Hilferding, Hillquit, Longuet, Ma
cDonald), etc., have the right to pass as members of the
Communist International. This could only lead to the
Communist International becoming something very similar to
the wreck of the Second International
the colonies and oppressed nations is necessary on the part of
the communist parties of those countries whose bourgeoisies
are in possession of colonies and oppress other nations. Every
party that wishes to belong to the Communist International
has the obligation of exposing the dodges of its 'own'
imperialists in the colonies, of supporting every liberation
movement in the colonies not only in words but in deeds, of
demanding that their imperialist compatriots should be
thrown out of the colonies, of cultivating in the hearts of the
workers in their own country a truly fraternal relationship to
the working population in the colonies and to the oppressed
nations, and of carrying out systematic propaganda among
their own country’s troops against any oppression of colonial
International must systematically and persistently develop
communist activities within the trades unions, workers’ and
works councils, the consumer co-operatives and other mass
workers’ organisations. Within these organisations it is
necessary to organise communist cells which are to win the
trades unions etc. for the cause of communism by incessant
and persistent work. In their daily work the cells have the
obligation to expose everywhere the treachery of the social
patriots and the vacillations of the 'centrists'. The communist
cells must be completely subordinated to the party as a whole.
the obligation to wage a stubborn struggle against the
Amsterdam 'International' of yellow trade union organisations.
It must expound as forcefully as possible among trades
unionists the idea of the necessity of the break with the yellow
Amsterdam International. It must support the International
Association of Red Trades Unions affiliated to the
Communist International, at present in the process of
formation, with every means at its disposal.
• Solidarity in action…
have the obligation to subject the personal composition of
their parliamentary factions to review, to remove all unreliable
elements from them and to subordinate these factions to the
party leadership, not only in words but also in deeds, by calling
on every individual communist member of parliament to
subordinate the whole of his activity to the interests of really
revolutionary propaganda and agitation.
must be built on the basis of the principle of democratic
centralism. In the present epoch of acute civil war the
communist party will only be able to fulfil its duty if it is
organised in as centralist a manner as possible, if iron
discipline reigns within it and if the party centre, sustained by
the confidence of the party membership, is endowed with the
fullest rights and authority and the most far-reaching powers.
• The complementarity of the Bolshevik party and the
• Center / Periphery.
communists can carry out their work legally must from time to
time undertake purges (re-registration) of the membership of
their party organisations in order to cleanse the party
systematically of the petty-bourgeois elements within it.
International has the obligation to give unconditional
support to every soviet republic in its struggle against the
forces of counter-revolution. The communist parties must
carry out clear propaganda to prevent the transport of war
material to the enemies of the soviet republics. They must also
carry out legal or illegal propaganda, etc., with every means at
their disposal among troops sent to stifle workers’ republics.
• The first priority : protect the soviet revolution
programmes have the obligation of changing those
programmes as quickly as possible and working out a new
communist programme corresponding to the particular
conditions in the country and in accordance with the
decisions of the Communist International. As a rule the
programme of every party belonging to the Communist
International must be ratified by a regular Congress of the
Communist International or by the Executive Committee.
Should the Executive Committee of the Communist
International reject a party’s programme, the party in question
has the right of appeal to the Congress of the Communist
• The right of initiative.
International and decisions of its Executive Committee are
binding on all parties belonging to the Communist
International. The Communist International, acting under
conditions of the most acute civil war, must be built in a far
more centralist manner than was the case with the Second
International. In the process the Communist International
and its Executive Committee must, of course, in the whole of
its activity, take into account the differing conditions under
which the individual parties have to fight and work, and only
take generally binding decisions in cases where such decisions
the Communist International must change their names. Every
party that wishes to belong to the Communist International
must bear the name Communist Party of this or that country
(Section of the Communist International). The question of
the name is not formal, but a highly political question of
great importance. The Communist International has
declared war on the whole bourgeois world and on all yellow
social-democratic parties. The difference between the
communist parties and the old official 'social-democratic' or
'socialist' parties that have betrayed the banner of the working
class must be clear to every simple toiler.
• The Identity= passport example.
have the duty of printing all the important official documents
of the Executive Committee of the Communist International.
• 19 All parties that belong to the Communist International or
have submitted an application for membership have the duty
of calling a special congress as soon as possible, and in no case
later than four months after the Second Congress of the
Communist International, in order to check all these
conditions. In this connection all party centres must see that
the decisions of the Second Congress are known to all their
International but have not yet radically altered their previous
tactics must, before they join the Communist International,
see to it that no less than two thirds of the central committee
and of all their most important central institutions consist of
comrades who even before the Second Congress of the
Communist International spoke out unambiguously in
public in favour of the entry of the party into the
Communist International. Exceptions may be permitted with
the agreement of the Executive Committee of the Communist
International. The Executive Committee of the Communist
International also has the right to make exceptions in relation
to the representatives of the centrist tendency mentioned in
• No recess, no capitulation in terms of principles…
conditions and Theses laid down by the Communist
International are to be expelled from the party.
33. The objective of the 21 conditions :• The majority faction of SFIO and the creation of the PCF
(Congress of Tours and the creation of SFIC). (1920).
• The communist party of Italy (1921).
• KKE in 1924 (transformation of the SEKE).
34. Basic Dates Of The Comintern History :• First Period: 1919-1924
• Second Period: 1924-1928
• Third Period: 1928-1935
• Popular Front: 1935 – 1943
35. Crucial moments of the Comintern History :• The main strategic goal: the exportation of the revolution, the
exportation of the October paradigm. The First period, the
wave of revolutions, the years of faith.
• Lenin died in 1924. Since then all the revolutionary attempts
had completely failed: the Spartacist uprising in Germany
(1919), the Hungarian soviet Republics (led by Bela Kun.).
36. Fascism and Bolshevizisation :• The rise of fascism (Benito Mussolini, October 1922).
• The process of bolshevizisation… : rules of conspiracy, party
discipline, fight against fractionism, the creation of a
monolithic party structure, fight against trotskism. (1924-1931).
• The period of Institutional change : 1928-1935.
• 1935-1943: The popular front as a political methodology
37. The Goal of the Comintern :• The main strategic goal: the exportation of the revolution, the
exportation of the October paradigm. The First period, the
wave of revolutions, the years of the faith.
• Protect the Soviet Revolution.
• Fight against fascism.
• Protect the Soviet Union.
38. Comintern and Secracy• There is a number of departments and other communist
international’s bureaucracy that quite officially was described
as secret, as illegal, as conspiratorial.
• Various departments and sections where not pair such names
but in fact they were absolutely secret, and this happened
because no one, even a narrow fellow was not supposed to
believe the existence of such organisations.
39. Comintern and Secracy: The OMS• Definition: The Komintern liaison or communication service.
• For many years it was called the department of international
• It seems quite innocent department but in fact it was the
special and the secret department and the conspiratorial
• (OMS: Отдел международной связи: Department of
International relations, or communications.
43. The Policies of the OMS• this conspiratorial department of clandestine communication
was responsible right for the transfer of money and other
valuables including gold and precious stones from Moscow to
the individual national communist parties abroad.
• The OMS task was also to fold directives, instructions,
weapons, ammunition and propaganda materials and
explosives to the individual communist parties.
44. OMS: The ‘war’ of information• The traffic from abroad to Moscow consisted of various kinds of
confidential information concerning not only the capitalistic
enemy but also the internal affairs of the foreign-national
communist parties themselves. In order to carry out all these
functions, the OMS maintained a comprehensive career service:
• intelligence section
• a radio station
• a propaganda section
• various laboratories for things like photographic techniques and
the production of false passports and other identity papers.
• The particular character of its work was quite similar to the work
of soviet secret police and soviet military intelligence.
45. The ‘Institutional’ Changes :The ‘Institutional’ Changes :
• These contexts were further strengthened around 1930 when a
new secret instruction section was established within the
framework of the OMS department in Moscow.
• Secret Instruction section: This new section developed into a
separate special department – designated as extremely secret
topics and issues. The job of these institutions was to impose
the rules of secrecy everywhere in the Comintern
• The mentality of secrecy: конспирация.
46. Concrete Institutional changes:• The structure of the Comintern: The apparatus of the
Comintern changed three times: in 1920, on the occasion of
the Second Congress, the apparatus formed its essential
features; in 1924, at the beginning of the “bolshevization”
period on the occasion of the 5th Congress, and in 1928,
during the 6th Congress, when Stalin consolidated his power
over the international apparatus.
• The Togliatti (Ercoli) Commission proposed a number of
on supposed replace the Politsecreteriat and the Politcommission
which were dissolved. Dimitrov is its chirman and his deputy
• The Regional Secretariats were abolished. We have from now on
personal or individual secretariats: for instance Togliatti took on
responsibility for countries that were previously assigned by the
Central European Regional Secretariat.
• The practice of dispatching ECCI representatives and instructors
was de facto abolished.
• Therefore, as a counter-move, the party representatives were
assigned to the Secretariat. Their duties were indeed important.
• The auxiliary apparatus was tightened up and tied closer to the
Secretariat, too as its organs. These encompassed the Cadre
section, the Department of Propaganda, the Liaison Service and so
on. Centralization. These measures set in motion a process of
48. General Remarks :• In 1932, the work which was previously carried out by the above
mentioned institutions was partly taken over by a Cadre
department, in other words by an important and specially
educated personnel. The main tasks of these new departments was
to accumulate biographical information about all leading
communists (center and abroad) with the obvious aim of detecting
black spots or political problems in the carriers of the Comintern
personnel. This department used to have its own special section
and was never mentioned in the Comintern official publications,
very few people knew its existence and even fewer had any idea of
its actual work
constituted the real hart of the Comintern secret apparatus.
During the Great Terror when the entire communist staff was
purged from top to bottom, the particular cadres department
became the main weapon for Stalin simply because of the size
and the wealth of the confidential information that it had in
persecuted (1936-1938) and was applied not only within the
soviet Union but also throughout the entire world of the
communist movement. In other words, all the internal
problems of the soviet internal policy (within the party of the
Bolsheviks) was reflected to the different sections and the
special departments of the Comintern.
51. The last period of the Comintern : 1935-1943• In 1936 the OMS changed its named. It became the
communication service. This service and the cadre department
where severely paid a big price because the purges eliminated a
lot of people of its personnel. But afterwards, the whole
department was restructured and worked under the guidance
of a new Russian personnel, predominantly Russian
and then in became the Scientific Institute no 100. The cadre
department remained the same name and integrated into the
soviet communist party of the international information.
53. Ad hoc chapter: Methods and contact points• sections and commissions of clandestine nature
• illegal narrow commission
• conspiratorial cadre
• work in the army
• subversive activities and sabotage in the capitalistic countries
• the budget of this commission, allocated money and other
forms of supports to the foreign communist parties.
a large part of its work carried out in other countries
We have contact points of the OMS in:
• Paris, Berlin London, Amsterdam
• Hamburg, Zagreb, Athens, Brussels
• Vienna, Prague, Madrid, Instambul
• Riga, and Copenhegen, Shangai, Singapoor
• Talin, San Paolo, Oslo, Stocholm
55. The secret actors of the Comintern:• Covered links between Moscow and the other communist
• OMS’s responsibilities:
• secret directives and orders
• technical equipment’s: carrier service, network of agents of
different nationalities travelling with secret names decoded
letters and confidential materials.
56. Contact point and Information• Extensive exchange of coded radio messages. Contact points
had to code and decode a lot of messages and control the local
communist parties. These were referred directly to Moscow
and they did not have any contact with the local communist
57. Beyond 1943:• Second World War
• Great Partiotic War
• Alliance against Nazi Germany
• New Foreign Policy of the USSR