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From Communism to Anti-Communism

Andre Liebich
Svetlana Yakimovich

From the Revolution to the Comintern

Arrival of Delegates, Comintern Congress, Petrograd, 1920

Lars Lih

Texte intégral

The back of the document reads in Russian and French: “Группа делегатов” – “Groupe de délégués” – [“Group of delegates”]. Black and white photograph; 11.5 x 16.5 cm.

1The working sessions of the Second Congress of the Comintern were held in Moscow and began on 23 July. The ceremonial opening session took place a few days earlier in Petrograd (St. Petersburg was given a less German-sounding name at the outbreak of war in 1914, and only changed from “Peter’s city” to “Lenin’s city” after Lenin’s death in 1924). All the available delegates gathered in Moscow took an overnight train and arrived in Petrograd on the morning of 19 July. They then embarked on a day of visiting revolutionary landmarks, listening to Lenin’s opening remarks, honoring revolutionary martyrs, participating in rallies along with Petrograd workers, and finally watching a remarkable open-air theatrical production.

2Here an official greets Marcel Cachin and Louis-Oscar Frossard on their arrival in Petrograd. These delegates from France were not yet quite committed to urging the French socialist party to join the new revolutionary organization. On their way to Russia they stopped in Warsaw and held talks with Polish socialists who approved of Pilsudski’s war against Soviet Russia. According to Victor Serge, standing here in a dark suit on the extreme left of the group, on learning of this, Trotsky demanded and obtained their immediate expulsion, although Rosmer contests this. On their return to France, however, they lobbied strongly to urge French socialists to apply for membership in the Comintern, and they became leaders in the new French Communist Party. How Boris Souvarine, who had already militated ferociously on behalf of the new party, would have loved to be there instead of lingering in a French jail!

3Cachin and Froassard are flanked by Karl Radek on the left and Grigorii Zinoviev on the right. Radek is somewhat hard to recognize, because he evidently shaved his straggly beard for the occasion, and his hat (also hard to miss in later photos) hides his scraggly hair. Zinoviev was the Chairman of the Comintern from its inception to the mid-twenties.


Victor Serge, Memories of a Revolutionary. 1901-1941. Foreword by Adam Hochschild, London : Oxford University Press, 1963. [First published in French in 1951].

John Riddell, ed., Workers of the World and Oppressed People, Unite! Proceedings and Documents of the Second Congress of the Communist International, [vol. 2, The Communist International in Lenin’s Time], New York: Pathfinder, 1991.

Alfred Rosmer, Moscow under Lenin, Introduction by Tamara Deutscher, New York: Monthly Review Press, 1973 [1st French edition, 1951].

Table des illustrations

Légende The back of the document reads in Russian and French: “Группа делегатов” – “Groupe de délégués” – [“Group of delegates”]. Black and white photograph; 11.5 x 16.5 cm.
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