Recently, a correspondence was posted onto the list-web-pages of "International Struggle Marxist-Leninist" (ISML), which was of interest.
Alliance gives a reply to this correspondence, which follows on immediately from the above exchange between GG and Gazza.
The reply concentrates on the question of Georgii Dimitrov and the Reichstag Trial.
We do not here address the other matters raised, such as that of the behaviours of the Italian section of the ISML, these have
been adequately dealt with on our web-pages (Via subject index via www.allianceML.com).
One other point is raised, the claim by Gazza that the legacy of Bill Bland rests in the hands of the Communist Party Alliance (CPA).
It is not for us to deny the wish to associate their organisation with Bland's legacy - Far from it!
However we must point out that the CPA refused explictly to join with Bland and the Communist League in the formation of a
new party, rather than an alliance to create one in the future.
As to who might
legitimately call themselves Bland's inheritors, this is no doubt a
question for future generations and we do not need to waste
time on this.
Editors, Alliance Marxist-Leninist
CORRESPONDENCE RECEIVED REGARDING AN ARTICLE OF THE COMMUNIST LEAGUE (UK).
From GG: Tue Aug 31, 2004: Message One: Subject: On Georgi Dimitrov
perusing the Alliance M-L page, I came across a 1994
article from 'Compass' which attempts, quite poorly,
to slander the name and legacy of Georgi
Dimitrov. In connection with the 1933 Reichstag Trial, during which Dimitrov made Hermann Goering and the entire National Socialist regime appear foolish before
the entire world, the reader is to believe that:
Seven points are made to support this outrageous conclusion, namely:
First, when the so-called Reichstag Trial took place, German judiciary had yet to fall under the complete sway of Hitler's government. The loyalty oaths and purges of government officials which were to characterize the National Socialist regime had yet to occur. Hitler had yet to consolidate his position as Fuehrer; he did not do so until the death of Hindenburg several months later. Many non-Nazis remained in high positions within the government bureaucracy; indeed, some of these men kept their positions until the end of the regime. That most barbaric feature of National Socialist jurisprudence, "The People's Court", had yet to make its appearance.
Second, and in relation to the fifth point, the opinion of Western newspapers is frankly irrelevant to the author's thesis. Indeed, this statement weakens
the entire article, since if it were true one assumes that more than one newspaper editorial could be found to support it.
Dimitrov's relatively favorable treatment may be accounted for in the fact that he was not only a foreign citizen but a rather prominent foreign citizen as well. His arrest may well have been a kind of afterthought in the whole Reichstag affair, while the arrest of German Communists was not:
Rather than apply Occam's Razor, which explains the Reichstag Trial simply and without need of mysterious theories and leaps of logic, the author of this
article relies on bizarre conjecture and logical leaps worthy of an Olympic gymnast.
The Communist League's 'Dimitrov Thesis' has had no small effect on it and Alliance's international reputation, resulting in its being labeled as
'neo-Trotskyite' by some and, along with other issues, provoking the departure of the Italian Lenin Committee from ISM-L. This ahistorical piece of slander is an embarrassment that any undergraduate student of history would be ashamed of.
I agree with you that the late Bill Bland's hypothesis on Dimitrov is not convincing. As the late Carl Sagan said ' Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence', something that is not provided by Bill's analysis.
When Bill died in March 2001, the Communist League effectively ceased to exist, its work being carried on in Britain by Communist Party Alliance (www.oneparty.org.uk), and in North America by Alliance.
GG: Date: Fri Sep 3, 2004; Message 3: Subject: Re: ISML, GG and Communist League thesis on Dimitrov
From: Gazza: Date: Sat Sep 4, 2004 Message 4: Subject: isml and Dimitrov
Yes, I think you are right about those who indulge in name calling, as for writing style, well, Bill had a certain style that worked for him,
Klo has a style that works for him - those styles are not the way I work, but "to each their own" I say; I don't have any problem with it
I think that we have more pressing problems to sort out nowadays, what with the alphabet soup proliferation of parties, organisations and
groups splitting off and the splits establishing themselves, the latest example in the case of Britain being the creation of the CPGB(M-L) in July this
year from those who were expelled and resigned from Arthur Scargill's Socialist Labour Party...It is issues like this, i.e., the fencing off of the class
conscious workers into innumerable little groups and the ways and means to overcome this - this is what is important, whether Dimitrov was a
revisionist or as I think a good marxist-leninist can only be a secondary issue at best, otherwise we will spend forever trying to reslove the less important,
secondary issues instead of getting on and solving the really important problems that the movement must overcome in order for the
cause of Marxism-Leninism to advance, in our countries.
Greetings from Gazza
PART TWO: ALLIANCE REPLY: DATED 12TH SEPTEMBER 2004
(i) Bland’s Role in Uncovering Hidden Revisionism
To take on this task means to address the core issue
crisis of Communism: 'Why did the great
achievements of the October Revolution and the
apparent spread of Socialism around the globe end, not in a triumphant victory of world revolution, but in an ignominious defeat and the restoration of
capitalism?' This crisis cannot be rectified by catering to the vanity of some would-be "Great Leader;" nor yet by mass producing t-shirts bearing the
image of one or another past icon. The only way the crisis of the World Communist Movement may be overcome is by applying the tools given us by the
science of Marxism-Leninism and placing the history of our movement under its relentless scientific gaze. Only through a "ruthless criticism," as Marx
would phrase it, would the errors and mistakes of the past become clear and the path towards the future evident. Thus, rigorous scientific objectivity must
be maintained. No preconceived notions, no unassailable heroes, no sacred icons. This is the only possible way forward. It is the rational, scientific way.
It is the Marxist-Leninist way. As Bland put it in an old dispute with Vijay Singh, the leader of ‘Revolutionary Democracy’, history makes sense.
Eschewing the formulaic simplicities inherent in the
"Stalin good/Khrushchev bad/end-of-story" view that many
Marxist-Leninist organizations adopted,
Bland realized an essential truth. That is, that the spread of revisionism started while Stalin was still alive and involved many highly placed (and hitherto
respected) figures in the Soviet and Comintern leadership. Hence Bland's insistence that the documentary truth speak for itself and that no one be above
scrutiny and critical examination.
It is to this
proposition, that the solution to the crisis
of the World Communist Movement lay in uncovering the roots of
thorough-going and meticulous examination of our history, that Comrade Bill Bland devoted his life.
The present criticism of Bill Bland's article on
revisionism put forward by GG, does parrot
unquestioningly charges of some
‘Revolutionary Democracy’. Surprisingly it is also rather naïve in the simple acceptance of ‘facts’, for example, that the parting of the ways between the Italian
section of the ISML and the remainder of ISML hinged upon the assessment of Dimitrov.
This is especially surprising in such an accomplished lecturer to failed undergraduates, and writer of political history as GG. We have already written on these
matters in some detail and go into them no further here.
GG takes issue with Bland's conclusion that Georgi
was a conscious, hidden-revisionist who, once placed into a position of
authority within the
Communist International, strove to steer that organization and the World Communist Movement as a whole in right-revisionist direction. In voicing his
disagreement, GG accuses Bland of producing an "ahistorical piece of slander [that] is an embarrassment any undergraduate student of history would be
ashamed of." While we carefully refrain from any comment on the sensibilities of college freshman, we would point out that Bill Bland, self-taught as he was,
always displayed a rigorous concern for documentation and scholar standards, and displayed a respect for historical proofs that many university trained
'professionals' would envy.
GG misses that the return to an unchallenged
world domination, depended upon the growth of revisionism world-wide.
successfully achieve this
meant the cultivation of both conscious and unconscious agents of capitalism world-wide.
The uncovering of the path whereby revisionism grew
USSR to the point that it could over-turn the socialist development,
largely a unique
viewpoint developed by Bland in isolation. Nonetheless uncovering the path of such as Vosnosenksy was at that time quite novel, and required both intellectual
courage, and determination to withstand isolation and opprobrium. Since that time, many including ‘Revolutionary Democracy’, have learnt from Bland’s work
and have done some useful further economic critiques. However it must be stressed that these have only built upon the key foundations of Bland’s insights.
On what historical insights does GG pillory Bland and Alliance, as:
(ii) GG’s Critique of Bland’s Criticism of
The ‘Independence’ of the German Ruling Class and the Judiciary From Fascist Aims
The core of GG’s comments merit a reply. We leave
now, naïve assertions that prominent members of the communist pantheon,
We will return to his breathless admiration later, as it betokens a continued failure of the anti-revisionist movement world-wide. Here we focus on his central
It is, perhaps, worth noting that GG criticisms
focus on a
relatively short section of a 23 page article.
Namely, that section dealing with the Reichstag Fire of
1933 and the
subsequent trial of Dimitrov. The remainder of the piece,
Dimitrov's politics in depth, goes un-commented on by GG.
GG challenges Bland's assertion that Dimitrov received favorable treatment at the hands of the Nazis.
GG states that:
Here, GG combines a
handful of truisms with a large dose of decontextualization, a touch of
mistaken chronology, and a smattering of simple ignorance.
Although his approach is designed to give a semblance of “independence” to the judiciary, he enters a world of mystery, where Hitler’s accession to power
is somehow “happen-stance”. This perpetuates a bourgeois falsehood.
(a) The Links of Fascism to the German Ruling Class
paint the capitalist and the landlord in no sense couleur de rose. But
here individuals are dealt with
only in so far as they are the
personifications of economic categories, embodiments of particular class relations and class interests.";
"We shall find that the characters who appear on the economic stage are but the personifications of the economic relations that exist
Karl Marx; ‘Capital - Volume 1”; in Preface to the 1st German Edition; Collected Works; Volume 35;p. 10; &
Chapter 2: Exchange"; Collected Works; Volume 35; p.95; Moscow; 1996.
GG ignores the fundamental fact that Hitler came to
the head of a coalition of radical right parties whose stated purpose
was the destruction
of German Communism. GG ignores the fact that there was a large and substantial common interest between the Nazis and Nationalists-Conservatives.
In fact, Hitler's later full consolidation of Nazi rule may be viewed as merely the final act of a faction fight within the reactionary camp. However, the point
is that the self-same reactionary camp had many points in common.
The economic crisis within the German state had by
early1930’s split the ruling class into two main ruling groups:
The Harzburg Front and the Bruning Front.
Gustav Streseman was the German Foreign Minister who strived to fulfill the full reparations demanded under the Versailles Plan, as a point of:
They re-grouped under the name of an association called the ‘Langnam-Verein’ – in English the Association with the Long Name. [It had been once the Verein zur Wharung der gemeinsamen wirtschaftlichen Interessen in Reheinland und Westfalen’ or the Association for the Protection of the Common Economic Interests in the Rhinelands & Westphalia” [Sohn-Rethell Ibid p. 18].
The Harzburg Front was composed largely of the iron and steel magnates, but in close alliance with the banking finance capitalists, led by the former head of the Reich Bank, Hjalamar Schacht. This section was most concerned to prevent further financial inflation and erosion of its own profits. This had come on the heels of the international monetary crises of the late 1920’s, and been latterly exacerbated by the Bank of England’s departure from the gold standard. It was largely Schacht who engineered the anti-inflation policy of the rentenemark – a new currency that was exchanged for the inflated mark. As Scahcht put it, he had:
The Harzburg Front quickly came into support of Hitler:
Even by August 29 1932, Schacht had already written
On February 25th 1933, Goering held a meeting with members of the Harzburg Group, who then under Shacht’s invocation of:
“All right gentlemen. Now to the cash register!”
Weitz; Ibid; p. 139
promptly pledged 3 million marks to finance Hitler’s re-election, following his dissolution of the Reichstag on March 5th 1933
Of course this division in the ranks of the ruling
only temporary. The vision of an internal safe economic market that
built by the relation of
a Europe under German sway was adequate to assuage either minor moral scruples about the methods of the Nazis, or minor economic differences. But
this was not Hitler’s idea. Already Schacht had confronted the Allies from the First World War, at the Young Conference to discuss German reparations,
over the Polish Corridor:
And the Langnam-Verein had already re-grouped after
earlier disappointment. In 1932 they had proposed a policy that united
split industrial ruling
class. It proposed an alliance with the remnants of the Junker landed aristocracy, a drive East:
These plans were blocked by British and French
However they had arisen. What was
needed to effect them became ever clearer, it was “brute force” (Sohn-Rethell
Ibid; p.61). As shown above, the most rapacious sections of the German
class had already arrived at this conclusion and were greasing
Hitler’s path to power.
GG’s narrative omits to place adequate attention to this.
True, many non-Nazis remained in public life.
Indeed, there are some extreme examples that
GG neglects to point out, such as Heinrich Muller, a
professional police office who, under the Weimar Republic headed the Berlin Police Department's "Political Desk." Not only was Muller, initially not a
Nazi, he often rounded up Nazis. Muller would, with Hitler and Himmler's blessing, later become head of the Gestapo. Muller's career is illuminating,
and helps defeat GG's assertion. It under-scores the truth that many non-Nazis came to loyally serve the Nazi regime – even in its most bestial aspects
– out of simple careerist motives.
(b) The German judiciary
With respect to the German judiciary, even this type
of self-interested sail trimming was unnecessary. The Germany
judiciary was and had been, heavily
biased towards the far right for years. As a recent study points out:
"After years, indeed decades, of treating
Social-Democratic and left-liberal critics of the Kaiser's government
criminals, judges were unwilling to
readjust their attitudes when the political situation changed. Their loyalty was given, not to the new Republic, but to the same abstract ideals of the
Reich which their counterparts in the officer corps continued to serve; an ideal built largely on memories of the authoritarian system of the Bismarckian
Reich. Inevitably, perhaps, in the numerous political trials which arose from the deep political conflicts of the Weimar years, they sided overwhelmingly
with those right-wing offenders who claimed also to be acting in the name of this ideal, and cheered on the prosecution of those on the left who did not.
That these men were not card-carrying pin-wearing Nazis is irrelevant. They shared the Nazis' reactionary world view and served fascism loyally.
It is quite correct that the process of fascist
was not necessarily complete as soon as Hitler acceded to power as
in January 30 1933,
sworn in by President von Hindenburg.
Dimitrov was taken into custody 6 days after the
arrest of Ernst
Thaelmann – on March 9 1933. Thaelmann was, as the Official
biography of Dimitrov states:
“The true and tried leader of the German Communist Party”;
Hadjinikolov V, Elzar, Michev D, Panayotov L, Radenkova P.
“Georgii Dimitrov 1882-1949’; Sofia Press; nd; p. 115.
Yet by February 1933, already there had been drastic
in the legal climate. An acknowledged historian (not an undergraduate
by the by
– but a
full professor) of the communist resistance to Hitler, Allan Merson, writes in “Communist Resistance in Nazi Germany”; London; 1985, the following:
While these changes took
time, the courts on occasion were slow in carrying out the Nazi
times. But “the courts were soon brought into line”
well before the Peoples’ Courts were struck in April 1934
itself was made increasingly elastic, and although the standard of
progressively lowered by changes in court procedure,
it was still necessary, in 1933-35, for judges to adduce some grounds for finding accused persons guilty of an infringement of the law. At first sight
the simplest way of dealing with Communist Party activities might seem to have been to apply the law of 14 July 1933, which had forbidden the
formation or continuation of any political party other than the National Socialist Party, on pain of up to three years hard labour, and, indeed, this
was occasionally used. ….
The state prosecutors therefore chose in most cases to try to persuade the judges that membership of the Communist Party had been treasonable
before 14 July 1933. This doctrine was accepted by the courts and embodied in judgments which stand today as monuments of tortuous and
dishonest reasoning. ….
In course of time the judges increasingly adopted the simple doctrine that the Communist Party could be taken, without need of proof, to have
become illegal at the time of the 'transfer of power' of 30 January 1933. …. In the assessment of sentences, too, legal considerations were
increasingly outweighed by political arguments. …..
Old liberal standards of fairness and impartiality in the conduct of the proceedings and the assessment of evidence - never very conspicuous
in political trials - were now still further debased, though not without some protests from a tiny minority of liberal lawyers. …..
While it is true that in the early years the Gestapo was sometimes irritated by the lingering scruples of judges and their concern with legal
technicalities, the courts were soon brought into line…”
Merson Ibid; pp 56-59.
any case, the court treatment meted out to
Dimitrov, from the start of the trial in September 1933, was done
so not by any judges that had any
‘lingering’ bourgeois misconceptions of judicial fairness. If the reports of the Dimitrov trial given in his official biography (Ibid; pp 114-144) are read,
it will be seen that Dimitrov was faced by an examining magistrate Vogt who:
Hadjinikolov V et al: Ibid; p118;
and a Trial Court President, Dr Buenger, who was manifestly hostile to him according to the Official Bulgarian account.
Yet, despite numerous demonstrations of the line that Dimitrov would put in public, he was given repeated stages to put his line, with:
microphones, phonograph recordings, film cameras… foreign
given free access to the trial”.
Hadjinikolov V et al: Ibid; p124
We contend that this was neither stupidity on the parts of the judges and state prosecutors, nor was it an accident. After all:
GG goes on to say that:
To buttress this he quotes Goering’s speech displaying prior intent to pin blame for the Reichstag Fire on German communists (Citing R.Overy).
However, that the Nazis had no great respect for
citizens is evidenced by their treatment of Poles forcibly marched to
Polish border and
long standing foreign residents being summarily deported. A foreign passport served not as protection against the Brown Shirts, but rather drew their
violent attention. Moreover, why would they have any reason to respect this particular foreign citizen? It's not as though Tsar Boris' pro-German
government in Sofia would have raised a hue-and-cry over the treatment metted out to Bulgarian 'communist.'
Also, Dimitrov was a ranking figure in the
that hardly made him a celebrity. In
fact, he was unknown to the German public as whole.
Which raises the question that, if the Reichstag Trial was to have been a show trial to discredit the KPD in the eyes of the German public, why choose
three unknown foreign communists (and a mentally defective Dutch anarchist) to be the 'stars' of the show? It would have been easy enough for the Nazis
to have pulled Ernst Thaelmann or any of a number of very well-known German Communist political, intellectual and cultural figures from out of detention –
perhaps after having secured a confession through torture – and put them on trial. This would have made a lot more sense from a propagandistic point of
view. Again, why these three specifically?
(iii) A Footnote
We notice that GG urges footnotes upon undergraduate writers.
In an effort to comply, we must ask – purely as a footnote – since he himself does not raise the matters – what explains the strange other facts on Dimitrov? These have been included in our various articles.
For example, the traitorous policy of the United Front applied in France?
For example the omission of Dimitrov from the work of the Communist Information Bureau?
For example his curious reluctance to move beyond the first stage of the revolution in Bulgaria?
Finally, a matter we have not raised before – what role did he have in the adoption of the ultra-left strategy of the KPD that in effect, destroyed the opposition to the Nazi rise to power, that disrupted a potential meaningful United Front in Germany?
After all, he was known to have a marked
approach in Bulgaria, and he was present in Germany in a leading
the West European Bureau of the Executive Committee of the Communist
Regrettably, we must return to GG his compliments,
that we find his rebuttal weak – especially given the very high
he insists upon.
It is necessary to re-state, that we have asked for factual rebuttals on these related matters and thus far have not received any. We would be very glad
to see GG’s, and if we are proven wrong we will be the first to state a firm self-criticism.
Nonetheless, we ask for a proper critique rather than righteous indignation.
Righteous indignation at leveling accusations against a well-known and beloved figure in the Communist world, is a noble sentiment.
But it would be better placed if it were coupled
post-graduate – nay a professorial – full and appropriate analysis, of
are “false” and “slander”.
Editors For Alliance Marxist-Leninist (North America)