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From Communism to Anti-Communism

Andre Liebich
Svetlana Yakimovich

From the Revolution to the Comintern

Front View of Smolny, Comintern Congress, Petrograd, 19 July 1920

Lars Lih

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The back of the document reads in French: “Anciens corps des pages”. The banners read in Russian and in German: “Братский привет II Конгрессу III Коммунистического Интернационала“ – “Ein brudergruss dem II Congress III Kommunistischen Internationale” – [“Fraternal greetings to the II Congress of the III International”]. Black and white photograph; 11 x 15 cm.

1We are now in the Smolny grounds.

2The Smolny building was another imperial landmark (a pioneer in women’s education, even if only for ladies of the nobility) turned into a revolutionary shrine, since it was the meeting place of the Second Congress of Soviets that established the new Soviet government in October 1917.

3On each side of the gate, we see “Fraternal Greetings to the II Congress of the III Communist International” in German and Russian. A statue of Karl Marx stands in the central garden (although the imperial double eagle does not seem to have been removed from the top of the building!).

4Mikhail Kalinin, the former leader of the streetcar workers’ union but now the official Soviet head of state who had driven the delegates here in a streetcar informed them of the sacred significance of Smolny: “Comrade delegates, since you come from distant lands, this hall is perhaps not as familiar, not as dear to your hearts as it is to us Russian workers and peasants, and especially to the members of the Communist Party of Russia … It was in this building, in this hall, that the course of action of the Russian Soviet government was determined and confirmed. All that this government is accomplishing now is but the realization of the tasks, the guidelines, set in this hall … For the entire world, for all Communists, this hall will represent the eternal shrine where the oppressed and toiling masses took power for the first time.”


Kevin J. Callahan, Demonstration Culture: European Socialism and the Second International, Leicester: Troubadour Publishing, 2010.

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 (Kalinin quotation p. 97)

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


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