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John G. Wright

International Notes

The Franco-Soviet Pact and the Maneuvers of the Imperialists
Soviet Union Elections Featured by Continued Purge

(11 December 1937)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. 1 No. 18, 11 December 1937, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Rumors that the Franco-Soviet pact is about to be scrapped have been revived of late. The “democratic” European press keeps stressing the growing isolation of the Soviet Union. British diplomacy has been particularly active in recent days in pointing out that there are no insurmountable barriers to divide the imperialist camp into two irreconcilable wings, i.e., peace-loving “democratic” states, versus the bellicose Fascist states. The official and “unofficial” visits paid to Hitler by British statesmen are indications of a similar trend. A curious incident that occurred toward the end of last month may be directly connected with these maneuvers to “reconcile” the existing antagonisms.

The Paris correspondent of one of Mussolini’s newspapers sent in a dispatch on the desirability of establishing a Franco-Italian rapprochement. It was published in Tribuna. The issue in which this article appeared was thereupon confiscated, and the correspondent recalled. The official explanation was that this correspondent had merely expressed his “personal” opinion. It is of course no secret that no “personal” opinions are permitted to slip into the rigidly censored Fascist press. In any case, Mussolini is “unofficially” on record as ready for “reconciliation”.

* * *

Journal des Nations, the “organ” of the League of Nations published in Geneva hardly carries any news about the Soviet Union. An occasional brief notice may appear from time to time dwelling on some latest “achievement”. Not a word about the purge, the “trials” etc. On the other hand, it carries perhaps the most detailed accounts outside the Comintern press of the activities of the Stalinists, especially with regard to France and Spain.

Thus, Journal des Nations devoted several issues to reports of the recent plenum of the Spanish Communist Party, giving considerable space to the speeches made there, and in particular to the oration made by M. Anton “the political Commissar of the Central Front.” M. Anton, we are informed by the Journal, devoted his entire speech to “showing the relations between the Trotskyites and the Fascists, between the members of the P.O.U.M. and the partisans of Franco.’’ There follows an extract from his speech: “The struggle against Trotskyism,” he declared, “is not a question which solely concerns the Communists, but is the struggle of the Spanish people as a whole. That is why we want to denounce the peril that, is constituted by the Trotskyite elements”. (Journal des Nations, Nov. 19, 1937.)

The French newspapers, however, devote a great deal of attention to the purge. Matin, for example, insists that the Red Army is undergoing another “cleansing;” Haras Agency has been circulating “unverified reports” that many army divisions are now being headed by officers of subordinate rank. Matin likewise reports the rumored suicide of Postyshev, and the arrest of Victor Keen, editor-in-chief of Journal de Moscou and former Tass correspondent in Rome and Paris.

In the Soviet Union there are 33 republics, of which 22 are autonomous and 11 “independent” Soviet entities. No other sphere appears to have been more thoroughly purged than the administrative machinery of these republics. The hands of the executioner reached even into Biro-Bidjan where the Jewish party heads, Professor Lieberberg, Chafkin and several others were arrested as “sabotagers, bourgeois-nationalists—and Japanese spies”. These men had been credited officially as the “builders of Biro-Bidjan”.

Latest dispatches leave no room for doubt that the republics are being “re-purged”. Thus, in the Ukraine where Lubchenko, the Chairman of the Ukrainian Soviet Government, committed suicide on Aug. 30, and the secretary of the party Popov was arrested as a “Trotskyite”, the newly appointed Chairman of the Government, Bondarenko, also “committed suicide.” In White Russia, Cherviakov, the President of the Republic, committed suicide, and the Chairman of the Soviets and the secretary of the party were arrested. In Tadjikistan, Muksumov and Bobokalov, the successors of Rakhimbayev, the Premier, and Shotemir, the President, were arrested on September 21st. The Kirghiz Republic had been purged, but again the Chairman Isakeyev and others who had replaced the the “spies and traitors” were themselves purged. On Nov. 20, there was reported another “plot” in Uzbekistan. Seven “plotters” were shot. Among them the head of the C.P., Kaipov.

Writing in the Manchester Guardian on this aspect of Stalin’s blood purge, Dr. J.N. Steinberg comments as follows: “It is impossible to believe that in all the national states states simultaneously all the most important leaders should be nothing but political and moral criminals. This mass campaign seems to be intended to clear the way for a purely Russian national state.” (Manchester Guardian Weekly, November 5).

To demonstrate to the world how securely he sits in the Kremlin, Stalin promised to free 15,000 political prisoners on the XX anniversary of the October revolution. But, of course, they remained in jail and in the concentration camps.

Last updated: 29 July 2015