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From Communism to Anti-Communism

 | 
Andre Liebich
, 
Svetlana Yakimovich

From the Revolution to the Comintern

Leaving Smolny, Comintern Congress, Petrograd, 19 July 1920

Lars Lih

Texte intégral

The back of the document reads (in Russian and French): “У Смольнаго” – “Près de Smolny”. The banner on the gate reads in Russian: “Да здравствует III Коммунистический Интернационал” – [“Long live the III Communist International”]. Black and white photograph; 10 x 15.5 cm.

1The stream of delegates walks away from the Smolny grounds, accompanied by a brass band. Many people are now sporting what seems to be delegate identification on the lapels. One sees a much reduced honor guard consisting of sailors but the numerous spectators, mainly children, who looked on as the delegates were leaving the Smolny building, are no longer there.

2On either side of the Red Army soldier in the front of the procession is German delegate Paul Levi, to the left, and Russian delegate Nikolai Bukharin, to the right. Paul Levi was to leave the presidency of the German Communist Party (KPD) within months of this photograph in disagreement with the Comintern line on a revolution in Germany. He was excluded from the Party and the International and eventually returned to the Social Democratic Party leading a left-wing current within it. He was still a Reichstag Deputy when he committed suicide in 1930. At that time, Bukharin was a member of the Politburo of the Russian Communist Party and editor-in-chief of its main daily newspaper, Pravda. Several years later he was to head the Comintern but, eventually, he fell victim to Stalin’s purges.

3The Second Congress was extensively photographed. The photographs of the later working sessions in Moscow only show us the surface of events and not the complex debates and negotiations that defined the work of the new organization. The opening session in Petrograd potrayed here, in contrast, was essentially a day of affirming solidarity and honoring the sacred symbols of the movement. Each delegate received a collection of photographs at the end of the proceedings. Presumably, one of the delegates gave Souvarine his or her collection, as compensation for having missed this historic event.

Bibliographie

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.

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): “У Смольнаго” – “Près de Smolny”. The banner on the gate reads in Russian: “Да здравствует III Коммунистический Интернационал” – [“Long live the III Communist International”]. Black and white photograph; 10 x 15.5 cm.
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