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HOME   -   HISTORY DICTIONARY   -   COMINTERN 1919-1943

 
   


Comintern 1919-1943
COMINTERN 1919 - 1943
 

The Communist Umbrella

Comintern is short for Communist International, an organization established to unite, coordinate, and lead communist activities worldwide. The international mother of all communist parties, if you will.

That was the official version.

Unofficially, Comintern became the perfect espionage vehicle for the Soviet Union. Idealistically motivated groups from all over the world reported back to Soviet intelligence and Stalin was God.

Another word for Comintern is Third International, because it was the third socialist party coalition of this kind.

Top Picture
At the Seventh Comintern Congress, 1935. Photo: marxists.org


The First International
The First International started out as the International Working Men's Association, founded at an assembly in London on September 28, 1964. At its roots were union leaders from Britain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, and Austria. Approx. members 20,000. Karl Marx became their head.

The goal of the First International was to further the rights of workers everywhere. To this regard they supported, organized, and financed strikes, among other activities.

In 1872, Congress in Hague. Split between Marxists and Anarchists ( what is anarchism?) The groups dissolved as follows.
 

Year

Marxists

Anarchists

     

1872

Marx moves headquarters to New York City.

Now that the Marxists are out, the Anarchists, led by Mikhail Aleksandrovich Bakunin and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. have the majority of the First International.

     

1873

 

Annual congress 1873

     

1874

 

Annual congress 1874

     

1875

 

Annual congress 1875

     

1876

Disbanded at the Philadelphia Conference July 1876

Annual congress 1876

     

1877

 

Annual congress 1877 in Ghent. Socialist World Congress. The social Democrats wanted to re-unite with the Marxists. The Anarchists said no-way and the Social Democrats left the club.

     

1881

 

Congress in London. It's just the Anarchists now. They had run out of steam, shared a box of cookies, and had to call it quits.

 


The Second International
Also called the Socialist International, the Second International was founded at a socialist congress in Paris in 1889.

1891 - Second congress in Brussels.

1896 - Congress in London where the Anarchists were kicked out. Regarding the international communist revolution, the Second International was all for it but didn't want to risk war. A head scratcher.

1900 - The Second International gets structured. An executive body was set up, the International Socialist Bureau with its headquarters in Brussels.

1907 - Congress in Stuttgart. Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, and L. Martov drafted a resolution, explaining that a war might as well be used to further the goals of the social revolution.

The Second International split into three because of disagreement regarding  World War I. Here are the factions and their next steps.
 

Faction One

Faction Two

Faction Three

 

 

 

Left wing communists, led by Lenin, wanted to transform WWI into the communist world revolution.

Instead of Communists shooting fellow Communists of other countries, they should turn against the imperialists in their own countries.

The pacifist center wanted right and left wing, as well as all nations, to end WWI, and to shake hands, kiss, and make out. Possibly at Woodstock.

Right wing communists wanted their respective governments in WWI.




The Third International - History of the Comintern
The Third International was founded in March 1919 by Lenin, which meant it was the end of monkey business. This time around, there was structure and discipline in order.

Lenin took advantage of the momentum he had gained during the Revolution of 1917 and set up the first congress of the Comintern in Moscow.

The Third International had its headquarters in Moscow.

Members came from Communist camps all over the world, e.g. Austria, Britain, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Spain, the USA, Yugoslavia, Japan, and others from Asia and South America.

At the beginning, the official language of the Comintern was German. About ten years later it had changed, not surprisingly, to Russian.

The Comintern was structured similar to the Soviet Communist Party. An executive committee was in power if the congress wasn't in session. The executive committee had an executive committee of its own.

Headquarters of the Comintern was in Moscow.

 

1919 - Moscow. First Congress.
Only 19 Russian delegations showed up and just few other countries were represented.


1920 - Second Congress.
Represented were 37 countries. Lenin introduced his 21 Points, which he co-drafted with Comintern top dog Gregory Zinoviev (or Grigory Y. Zinovyev.) The 21 Points were conditions of admission to the Comintern. Among other points, the following was required.

- all parties had to model their structure according to the Soviet pattern
- all parties had to consist of extremists, moderates were to be given the boot, pacifists were to be put on spikes.
- all parties had to follow the Comintern's decisions


1921 - Third Congress.
World revolution hasn't materialized and communists worldwide needed a pep talk. The new idea was to form United Fronts, a group of communist workers, that would each walk up to their respective governments and request "transitional demands."


1922 - Fourth Congress.


In 1923, between the fourth and the fifth congress, the Comintern's left wing gained temporary control and canned the United Fronts idea.


January 1924 - Lenin died.


1924, June - Moscow. Fifth Congress.


In 1926, between the fifth and the sixth congress, the Comintern's first president, Gregory Zinoviev got kicked out.


1928 - Sixth Congress.
New focus. Moderates and Social Democrats are the enemy. Fascism isn't too bad.


In the early 1930s, between the sixth and the seventh congress, the Communists even helped the the Nazis to bring down the Weimar Republic. As long as it's not the cursed Social Democrats...

A little later that day...
General panic in the Communist camp. Spending so much time and energy on hacking each others' eyes out, they had taken too lightly the enormous momentum Fascism had gained in Germany and Italy. Now, the smell of a German attack on the USSR was in the air.

In 1934, the Soviets join the League of Nations.


1935 - Seventh and Last Congress.
Panties in a bunch. Shift of focus, Social Democrats are brothers now, Liberals and even Conservatives should be invited for tea. The new enemy is Fascism. New idea of forming a Popular Front, which could be any coalition against the Fascists.

France and Spain formed Popular Front governments, by the way. See more  further down.



The Comintern Between 1935 and 1943
From 1935 to 1943, George Dimitrov was head of the Comintern, aka secretary-general of the Comintern Executive Committee. Dimitrov was Bulgarian and lived in Moscow at the time. He was also the leader of the Bulgarian Communist Party. Dimitrov returned to Bulgaria and became Bulgarian Prime Minister in 1945.


In the late 1930s and especially during 1937 and 1938, non-Russian Comintern staff disappeared by the dozen. What was going on?

Stalin was expanding and securing his power. A personal thing. Also called the Great Purges of the Thirties.


Although Fascism was the declared enemy, Stalin decided to be Hitler's ally. They signed a nonaggression pact in August 1939, which was the end of the Popular Fronts idea. Stalin was God and Comintern his bitch.

World War II started in September 1939 and Comintern now told members not to trouble the Fascists, because it was really not their place. That was, until June 1941, when Hitler's army invited themselves in.


In 1943, Stalin closed down the Comintern to make his western allies happy. His answer to the Red Scare, a general fear of communism.

 

What Came After the Third International?
In 1947, Stalin set up the Cominform. Except the last six letters, it was pretty much the same as the Comintern.

The Cominform survived Stalin by three years and lasted until 1956.

 

Comintern in Other Countries
In France.
France formed a Popular Front government, led by the outstanding man and socialist Leon Blum, in 1934. In June 1937, Blum resigned.
 

In Spain.
Spain formed a Popular Front government in February 1936, which would become the fourth chapter in the history of Spain's Second Republic. In July 1936 Franco sneezed.

In the ensuing Spanish Civil War, the Comintern organized and greatly aided the International Brigades.


 

The Anti-Comintern Pact
This pact was concluded between Germany and Japan on November 25, 1936. On November 6, 1937, it was extended between Italy, Germany, and Japan.

Initiated was the pact by nut Adolf who, besides being against the Bolsheviks, now had the perfect promotion angle. His buddy Benito and himself were the protectors of the West who would shield the people from Communism.

The Japanese, who were fighting the Chinese in the Second Sino-Japanese War at the time, resented the Soviets for aiding China with military supplies.

August 23, 1939, was the day the Japanese felt sold down the river because on that day the Germans signed a nonaggression treaty with the Soviet Union and stepped back from the Anti-Comintern Pact.

A year later, on September 27, 1940, nut Adolf changed his mind again and seeing that Italy and Japan were still desperate enough, they again concluded a treaty, the Tripartite Pact. But this time the target was not the Comintern but the United States.

 

 

What is Anarchism?
Anarchism claims that authority has no place in society, society is able to guide itself. Anarchists believe that government is not only redundant but even dangerous.


 

 

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