In January 1921 the Central Committee of the United Communist Party of Germany published an Open Letter which

At the 3rd Congress of the Communist International in June/July 1921, Lenin expressed strong support for the tactics embodied in the Open Letter: And in a letter to Grigory Zinoviev*, he said: In December 1921, the name of 'United Front Tactics' was applied to these Marxist-Leninist tactics, which were in essence to work for the formation of united fronts of all workers around specific limited objectives. All workers, and organisations composed predominantly of workers, were encouraged to take an active part in a united front with the aims of which they were in agreement, irrespective of their views and policies on other questions: United front tactics were not only supported by Lenin who moved in the Politburo of the Russian Communist Party: they were elaborated under his direction: The tactics recognised that some organisations and parties composed predominantly of workers and claiming to represent their interests in fact served the interests of capital. Indeed, the fundamental aim of united front tactics was: For this reason, the emphasis of united front tactics was laid on building the united front from below, by appealing to workers over the heads of their leaders: Nevertheless, the Communist International at this stage firmly rejected a policy of accepting a united front only from below, since such a policy would have hindered the exposure of organisations and parties which were in fact opposed to united front tactics: This was, indeed, Lenin's policy: THE NEED FOR AN ANTI-FASCIST UNITED FRONT IN GERMANY IN 1930-33

Between 1930 and 1933 the basic strategy of European imperialism was to secure the establishment of a German state dominated by the Nazi Party (the National Socialist German Workers’ Party) in order that this might pursue its declared policy of waging all-out war against the socialist Soviet Union.

At the parliamentary elections of June 1932, the voting figures were as follows:
Party               Votes Polled %Vote     Deputies Elected
Party:                         8.6 million         24%                     133

Communist Party:     4.6 million         13%                     89

Total:              13.2 million    37%             222

Nazi Party:             6.4 million             13%                     230

Other parties:         15.4 million         45%                    155

Grand Total: 35.0 million    100%           607

(Data From 'Keesing's Contemporary Archives', Volume I; p. 415).

In these circumstances, where the threat of a fascist dictatorship had clearly become acute, it is clear that the correct tactic for German Marxist-Leninists to have adopted would have been to strive to form a defensive anti-fascist united front of all those prepared actively to resist fascism, whatever their views on other questions.

The German revisionist leader Wilhelm Pieck* admitted at the 13th Plenum of the ECCI in December 1933 -- after the imposition of the Nazi dictatorship:

Striving to form an anti-fascist united front is not a diversion from the revolutionary struggle for socialism, but an essential feature of that struggle.

As, with the increasing decay of capitalism in its imperialist stage, the movement for socialist revolution grows, the limited political freedoms existing under bourgeois democracy become too dangerous for the ruling class to tolerate. And since the growth of the revolutionary movement for socialism cannot be completely concealed from the ruling class, it is inevitable that the latter will seek to strike a pre-emptive blow against the revolutionary movement and against bourgeois democracy.

In this situation, the movement for socialist revolution needs the protection of a broader movement embracing all those who, whatever their views on other matters, are firmly opposed to fascism. When, therefore, the fascists launch an offensive against bourgeois democracy, this broad defensive anti-fascist front can, under Marxist-Leninist leadership, be transformed into an offensive revolutionary socialist front which can carry through the socialist revolution.


In December 1922 Lenin suffered a second stroke which effectively ended his active political life. He died in January 1924.

Stalin played an active role in the leadership of the Communist International for several years, but his 'Works' contain no contribution to Comintern affairs after 8th Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Comintern in May 1927.

Anti-socialist historians generally attribute this fact to 'a loss of interest' in Comintern affairs on the part of Stalin. Robert McNeal*, for example, alleges:

The historical truth is that in 1927 Stalin was removed from active leadership of the Comintern by a dominating coalition of concealed revisionists. Revisionists are defined by Marxists-Leninists, as: Thus, the leading body of the Comintern - the Political Secretariat - elected in September 1928, following the 6th Congress, consisted of the following eleven members: Of the eleven, two (Bell and Molotov) were more or less solid MarxistLeninists, while the remaining nine (Barbe, Bukharin, Chu, Humbert-Droz, Kuusinen, Piatnitsky, Remmele, Smeral, and Tasca) were concealed revisionists.

However, since the Marxist-Leninists in the Soviet Union retained control of Soviet security, it was unsafe for the revisionists in the leadership of the Comintern to pursue openly counter-revolutionary policies. They were, however, able to distort Marxism-Leninism along revisionist lines, i.e., so as to make Comintern policies serve, to a limited extent, the interests of one or another capitalist class"

In July 1929:

In the next period, the Communist Parties of Western Europe were directed by
the concealed revisionist Dmitry Manuilsky*: THE PSEUDO-LEFT REVISIONIST DISTORTION OF UNITED FRONT POLICY (1930-33)

The basic strategy of revisionists -- of phoney Marxist-Leninists, who are really opposed to socialism -- in the period of the rise to power of Nazism was to oppose fascism in words, while working in practice to prevent the formation of a genuine anti-fascist united front which would disrupt their real aims. This strategy was achieved by securing the adoption by the Communist International of a pseudo-left deviation from Marxism-Leninism in the tactics of the united front.

In September 1924, Stalin defined social-democracy as 'objectively' the 'twin' of fascism, as 'the moderate wing' of fascism:

At the 10th Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, in July 1929, Otto Kuusinen distorted Stalin’s thesis to identify social-democracy with fascism under the name of 'social-fascism’: Indeed, the very term 'social-fascism' implies: On this incorrect assumption -- that all social-democrats were in reality fascists - were developed the pseudo-left tactics known as 'class-against-class': The period of the 'class-against-class' tactics became known in the Comintern as 'the third period': Or, more correctly, as: The social-democrats were now presented as 'the main bulwark of the capitalist class' and so as 'the main enemy' of the working class, against whom the main blow should be directed.

The 12th Plenum of the ECCI, in August/September 1932:

and at the same Plenum Otto Kuusinen declared: Even at the 13th Plenum in December 1933, after the Nazis had seized power, Wilhelm Pieck was still insisting that: Indeed, the 'class-against-class' deviation expressed the view that the left-wing of Social-democracy (that which supported united front tactics) was "more dangerous" than the right-wing (that which opposed united front tactics).

For example, at the 10th Plenum in July 1928:

Under the 'class-against-class' tactics, a united front was therefore permissible only from below, that is, with the rank-and-file of the social-democratic party: In accordance with this policy, even when, in November 1931, the leader of the Social-Democratic Party, Rudolf Breitscheid*, offered a united front against fascism to the Communist Party of Germany, 1931, it: An open letter from the CPG Central Committee, published in 'Rote Fahne' of 5 January 1932, charged that: The new tactic implied the abandonment of the Marxist-Leninist tactic of the united front: This tactic, instead of exposing the social-democratic leaders as saboteurs of the united front against fascism, helped these leaders to conceal their role in this capacity.

Furthermore, a number of Communist Parties in this period put forward the slogan of a 'Red United Front’, i. e., a front limited to conscious revolutionaries:

During this period, too, the Communist International rejected the concept that there was a qualitative difference between bourgeois democracy and fascism, so rejecting the concept that the working class had an interest in defending bourgeois democracy against the threat of fascism. The 11th Plenum in April 1931: And a resolution of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Germany in May 1931 stated: In consequence of this incorrect formulation, some existing right-wing bourgeois governments were wrongly labelled as 'fascist', so that the danger of genuine fascism was underestimated and 'defence against fascism' was held to be no longer necessary: The mistaken concept that the Social-Democrats and not the Nazis were the principal enemy of the working class even led to a degree of collaboration between the Communist Party of Germany and the Nazi Party against the Social-Democratic Party -- as in the case of the referendum for the dissolution of the Prussian government in 1931: The leadership of the CPG decided that the Party would abstain in this matter: and, on the instructions of the Communist International, supported the referendum: At the 12th Plenum of the ECCI in August/September 1932, Osip Piatnitsky reported: One possible barrier to the imposition of a Nazi dictatorship remained: The German trade union movement.
Steps were accordingly taken by the revisionists to render this effectively impotent -- the revisionist leaders of the Comintern instructed Communists -- and urged their supporters -- to withdraw from the mass trade unions and form new tiny, impotent 'revolutionary' splinter unions.

Lenin had already ridiculed this pseudo-left deviation in April 1920 in '"Left-wing" Communism, an Infantile Disorder':

Now the pseudo-left line on the trade unions was put forward once more, this time by the revisionist Solomon Lozovsky*: In August 1930 the 5th Congress of the Red International of Labour Unions: As a result of this step, when the Nazi coup took place in 1933: At the 7th World Congress of the CI in 1935, it was admitted that this move had been a sectarian mistake: For some time after the Nazi coup in Germany, the Communist International insisted that its ‘class-against-class' tactics loyally followed by the Communist Party of Germany -- tactics which had paved the way for that coup --had been correct. In April 1933 the ECCI Presidium resolved that: Indeed, the ECCI maintained that the Nazi coup had ‘accelerated the development of the socialist revolution in Germany': CONCLUSION



After the coup had succeeded, the needs of the imperialist powers in Western Europe changed. The basic need was now to encourage appeasement of the German imperialists, that is, to reprove them for aggression in words, while encouraging them in deeds to expand towards the Soviet Union.


 COMPASS is published by: THE COMMUNIST LEAGUE, Ilford, Essex.
The aim of the Communist League is to establish in Britain a Marxist-Leninist Party of the working class free of all revisionist trends.


BARBE, Henri, French revisionist politician (1902-66); Member, ECCI Political Secretariat (1927-31); expelled from French CP (1934); Secretary-General, fascist French People's Party (1936-39); imprisoned as war criminal (1945-49).

BELL, Thomas, British Marxist-Leninist politician (1882-1940); Member, ECCI Political Secretariat (1928-29); President, Association of Friends of the USSR (1930-36); worked for International Red Aid (1936-39).

BREITSCHEID, Rudolf, German social-democratic politician (1874-1944); Prussian Minister of Interior (1918-19); Chairman, Communist Fraction in Reichstag (1922-33); to France (1933); arrested by Nazis (1940); died in Buchenwald concentration camp (1944).

BUKHARIN, Nikolay I., Soviet revisionist politician (1888-1938); Deputy Chairman, ECCI (1919-26); Member, ECCI Political Secretariat (1926-29); Editor-in-Chief, 'Izvestia' (1933-37); found guilty of treason and executed (1938).

CHU Chiu-pai, Chinese revisionist politician (1899-1935); Secretary, CPC (1927-28); Member, ECCI Political Secretariat (1928-31); to China (1930); Commissar for Education in Chinese Soviet Government (1934-35); executed by Kuomintang troops (1935).

HUMBERT-DROZ, Jules, Swiss revisionist politician (1891-1971); member, ECCI Political Secretariat (1926-28); to Switzerland (1931); expelled from Swiss Party (1943); secretary, Swiss Social-Democratic party (1947-58).

KIJUSINEN, Otto V., Finnish revisionist politician (1881-1964); member, ECCI Political Secretariat, (1928-43); President, Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic (1940-58).

LOZOVSKY, Solomon, Soviet revisionist politician (1878-1952); Secretary-General, Red International of Labour Unions (1921-37); Director, State Literary Publishing House (1937-39); USSR Deputy Commissar/Minister of Foreign Affairs (1939-46); deputy chief, Soviet Information Bureau (1941-48); arrested and found guilty of treason (1949); died in prison (1952).

McNEIL, Robert H. American historian (1930- ); Assistant, later Associate, Professor of History, University of Alberta (1954-58); Associate Professor of History, University of Toronto (1964-69); Professor of History , University of Massachusetts (1969- ).

MANUILSKY, Dmitry Z., Soviet revisionist politician (1883-1959); Secretary, CP Ukraine (1921-22); member, ECCI Political Secretariat (1926-43); principal representative of RCP on CI (1923-43); Ukrainian Deputy Premier and Minister of Foreign Affairs (1944-50).

MOLOTOV, Vyacheslav H., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1890-1986); member, ECCI Political Secretariat (1928-30); USSR Premier (1930-41); USSR Commissar for Foreign Affairs (1939-49); USSR Deputy Premier and Commissar/Minister of Foreign Affairs (1953-57); Minister of State Control (1956-57); Ambassador to Mongolian People’s Republic (1957-60); USSR Representative on International Atomic Energy Committee (1960-62); expelled from CPSU by revisionists (1962); readmitted (1984).

NEUMANN, Heinz, German revisionist politician (1902-37); CPG representative on CI (1925-32); to Soviet Union (1935); arrested, found guilty of treason and executed (1937).

PAPEN, Franz von, German diplomat and politician (1879-1969); Chancellor (1932); Vice-Chancellor (1933-34); Minister/Ambassador to Austria (1934-38); Ambassador to Turkey (1939-44); acquitted of war crimes, Nuremberg Tribunal (1945).

PIATNITSKY, Osip A., Soviet revisionist politician (1882-1939); member, ECCI Political Secretariat (1926-35); arrested (1937), found guilty of treason (1938); executed (1939).

PIECK, Wilhelm, German revisionist politician (1376 1960) member, ECCI Political Secretariat (1931-43); to Berlin (1945) President, Socialist Unity Party (1946-60) President, German Democratic Republic (1949-60).

REMMELE, Hermann, German revisionist politician (1886-19339); member ECCI

Secretariat (1926-33); to Soviet Union (1933); expelled from CI (1933); arrested (1937); found guilty of treason (1938); executed (1939).

SCHLEICHER, Kurt von, German military officer and politician (i882-1934j; lieutenant-general (1931); Minister of Defence (1932); Chancellor (1932-33); murdered by Nazis (1934).

SMERAL, Bohumir, Czechoslovak revisionist politician (1880-1941); member, ECCI Presidium (1922-35); to Czechoslovakia (1935); to Soviet Union (1938); died in Moscow (1941).

TASCA, Angelo, Italian revisionist politician (1892-1960); member, ECCI Secretariat (1929-209); expelled from ICP and CI, to Paris (i929); editor, social-democratic newspaper 'Populaire' (1934-37); director, Italian service, French radio (1937-40); died in Paris (1960).

ZINOVIEV, Grigory E., Soviet revisionist politician (1883-1936); Chairman, ECCI (1919-26); expelled from Party (1926, 1932, 1934); found guilty of treason and executed (1936).

Borkenau, Franz: 'European Communism'; London; 1953.
Borkenau, Franz: 'World Communism: A History of the Communist International'; Ann Arbor     (USA); 1971;
Carr, Edward H.: 'The Twilight of the Comintern'; London; 1982;
Degras, Jane: 'United Front Tactics in the Comintern', in: Footman, David (Ed.): 'International Communism'; London; 1960;
Degras, Jane:'The Communist International: 1919-1943: Documents', Volumes 1, 2 & 3; London; 1971.
Institute of Marxism-Leninism, Central Committee, Communist Party of the Soviet Union: 'Outline History of the Communist International'; Moscow; 1971;
Lenin, Vladimir I.: 'Collected Works', Volume 32; Moscow; 1965; Volume 42; Moscow; 1969;
Lenin, Vladimir I.: 'Selected Works', Volume 10; London; 1946;
McNeal, Robert H.: 'Stalin: Man and Ruler'; Basingstoke; 1968;
Poulantzas, Nicos: 'Fascism and Dictatorship: The Third International and the Problem of Fascism'; London; 1974;
Spencer, Arthur: 'National Bolshevism', in: 'Survey', No. 44-45' (October 1962);
Stalin, Josef V.: 'Works', Volume 6; Moscow; 1953.

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'Keesing's Contemporary Archives


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