From The Marxist Archives -The Revolutionary History Journal-The First Years of the Communist International
The Bolshevik-led revolution in Russia in October 1917 was consciously predicated by the leadership (Lenin, Trotsky, etc., some others pushing forward, some being dragged along in the fight) on the premise that the Russian revolution would not, could not, stand alone for long either against the backlash onslaught of world imperialism, or on a more positive note, once the tasks of socialist construction reached a certain point. The purpose of the Communist International, founded in 1919 in the heat of the Russian civil war, by the Bolsheviks and their international supporters was the organizational expression of that above-mentioned premise. To work through and learn the lessons of the Bolshevik experience and to go all out to defeat world imperialism and create a new social order. I might add that political, social, and military conditions in war-weary World War I Europe in 1918 and 1919 made those premises something more than far-fetched utopian hopes. And central to those hopes were events in Germany.
If the original premise of Marxism (espoused specifically by both Marx and Engels in their respective political lifetimes) that the revolution would break out in an advanced capitalist European country then Germany, with its high level of capitalist development and socialist traditions and organizations, was the logical place to assume such an event would occur. And that premise, despite the betrayals of the German social democratic leadership in the war period, animated Lenin and Trotsky in their planning for the extension of socialist revolution westward. The rise of a “peace” socialist wing (the Independent Socialists) during the late phases of the war, the events around the smashing of the German monarchy and the creation of a socialist-led bourgeois republic in the wake of military defeat, the ill-starred Spartacist uprising, the working class response to the later Kopp Putsch, the also-ill-starred March Action of 1921, and the possibilities of a revolution in 1923 in reaction to the French exactions in the Ruhr and other events that year all made for a period of realistic revolutionary upheaval that was fertile ground for revolutionaries. And revolutionary hopes.
As we are painfully, no, very painfully, aware no revolution occurred in that period and that hard fact had profound repercussions on the then isolated Russian experiment. That hard fact has also left a somewhat unresolved question among communist militants, thoughtful communist militants anyway, about the prospects then. The question boils down to, as foreshadowed in the headline to this entry, whether there was any basis for the notion that a revolution could have occurred in Germany in 1923. We know what happened because it didn’t, but there are sometimes valuable conditionals pose in absorbing the lessons of history, our communist history. The yes or no of a German revolution is one such question. I have given my opinion previously-if there was no chance of revolution in Germany in 1923, win or lose, then the whole notion of proletarian revolution was just a utopian dream of a bunch of European outcast radicals. The corollary to that proposition is that, in the year 2010, the socialist cooperative notion that we fight for, other than as an abstract intellectual idea, is utopian, and that we are the mad grandchildren (and great-grandchildren) of those mad Europeans. That idea, with world imperialism wreaking havoc and breathing down our backs relentlessly in all quarters makes that corollary ill-founded. So let’s take another look at Germany 1923 from the several perspectives I have gathered in today’s postings.
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Peter Paul Markin comment on this series:
This is an excellent documentary source for today’s leftist militants to “discover” the work of our forebears, particularly the bewildering myriad of tendencies which have historically flown under the flag of the great Russian revolutionary, Leon Trotsky and his Fourth International, whether one agrees with their programs or not. But also other laborite, semi-anarchist, ant-Stalinist and just plain garden-variety old school social democrat groupings and individual pro-socialist proponents.
Some, maybe most of the material presented here, cast as weak-kneed programs for struggle in many cases tend to be anti-Leninist as screened through the Stalinist monstrosities and/or support groups and individuals who have no intention of making a revolution. Or in the case of examining past revolutionary efforts either declare that no revolutionary possibilities existed (most notably Germany in 1923) or alibi, there is no other word for it, those who failed to make a revolution when it was possible.
The Spanish Civil War can serve as something of litmus test for this latter proposition, most infamously around attitudes toward the Party Of Marxist Unification's (POUM) role in not keeping step with revolutionary developments there, especially the Barcelona days in 1937 and by acting as political lawyers for every non-revolutionary impulse of those forebears. While we all honor the memory of the POUM militants, according to even Trotsky the most honest band of militants in Spain then, and decry the murder of their leader, Andreas Nin, by the bloody Stalinists they were rudderless in the storm of revolution. But those present political disagreements do not negate the value of researching the POUM’s (and others) work, work moreover done under the pressure of revolutionary times. Hopefully we will do better when our time comes.
Finally, I place some material in this space which may be of interest to the radical public that I do not necessarily agree with or support. Off hand, as I have mentioned before, I think it would be easier, infinitely easier, to fight for the socialist revolution straight up than some of the “remedies” provided by the commentators in these entries from the Revolutionary History journal in which they have post hoc attempted to rehabilitate some pretty hoary politics and politicians, most notably August Thalheimer and Paul Levy of the early post Liebknecht-Luxemburg German Communist Party. But part of that struggle for the socialist revolution is to sort out the “real” stuff from the fluff as we struggle for that more just world that animates our efforts. So read, learn, and try to figure out the
wheat from the chaff.
Jakob Reich (‘Comrade Thomas’)
The First Years of the Communist International
This document speaks eloquently enough of its origins. Its author, Jakob Reich (1886–1956), was born in Lemberg (Lvov) in Galicia, was wounded twice during the 1905 Revolution, served for a year in the Austro-Hungarian Army, and was a student in Bern when the Russian Revolution occurred. He edited Russische Nachrichten, the information bulletin of the Soviet diplomatic mission established in Switzerland in 1918. He was among those who helped to organise the First Congress of the Communist International in March 1919, and was sent to Berlin later in the year to set up its Western European Secretariat, which he ran under the pseudonym of ‘Comrade Thomas’, although he was more generally known as ‘Fatty’.
Reich dropped out of active work with the Communist movement after a visit to Moscow in 1925. He was for a while in the Brandlerite movement, was expelled from it along with Jakob Walcher and Paul Frölich in January 1932, and joined the SAP (Socialist Workers Party). Along with the noted Menshevik scholar Boris Nicolaevsky, who compiled the article below from his conversations with Reich, he helped to gather material in Berlin for Lev Sedov to send to Trotsky to use in writing his History of the Russian Revolution. He fled to Czechoslovakia after Hitler came to power, and then on to New York in 1938.
This text has been translated by Harry Ratner from Les premières années de l’Histoire de l’Internationale Communiste, in J. Freymond, Contribution à l’Histoire des Communistes (Geneva 1965). We are indebted for this little-known text to Walter Kendall, who investigated the influence of Soviet financing upon the formation of the Communist Party of Great Britain in his well-known book The Revolutionary Movement in Britain 1900–1921: The Origins of British Communism (London 1969). The evidence produced by ‘Comrade Thomas’ constituted an important part of the documentation which led the author to conclude that ‘Russian material aid and Russian political intervention played a crucial part in the foundation of the CPGB’, and that ‘one is entitled to ask, without such aid, would the party have come into existence at all?’ (p. 256), a controversial view that may be disputed by many of our readers. He has also investigated these matters in respect of the Communist International as a whole in his as yet unpublished work World Revolution: The Russian Revolution and the Communist International 1919–1935.
More information on Reich and his activities, drawn from the archives of the Communist International and the German Communist Party, can be found in Alexander Vatlin’s article “Genosse Thomas” und die Geheimtätigkeit der Komintern in Deutschland 1919–1925, in his Die Komintern 1919–1929 (Mainz 1993).
by Boris Nicolaevsky
Some clarification of the tale told by ‘Comrade Thomas’ is called for, both on the circumstances of its telling and its scope, which for the first time provides a more or less coherent picture of his doings (or more exactly of the first years). This account was written down by the author of these lines nearly 30 years ago; moreover it was written down in a hurry, without the required continuity, and remained unfinished. All this is due to the circumstances that then existed, and it is these circumstances that need to be known to understand the unusual frankness of the Communist narrator.
In May 1935 I spent some time in Prague where the Executive Committee of the German Social Democratic party had set up its headquarters in order to guide clandestine work in Hitler’s Germany. One of the German comrades – I don’t remember who – knowing that I was collecting material on the history of the Communist International, told me ‘Comrade Thomas’ was in Prague, having recently escaped from Germany. ‘Comrade Thomas’ was very keen to meet me. I had not yet had the opportunity of meeting him, but I knew quite a lot about him, particularly that he knew many of the secrets of the early years of the Communist International. Although I was very busy, I was nevertheless willing to find time to have an interview with ‘Comrade Thomas’ on condition that he was willing to talk to me frankly about the past. Within five or 10 minutes I was called to the phone: ‘Comrade Thomas’ was on the line, and he told me that he was willing to tell me anything in which I was interested, but warned me that he wanted something from me in return.
We met that same evening, on 20 May 1935. What he had to ask of me was indeed important: it concerned the large library he had assembled on the history of the Communist International and of the Russian and German revolutions, as well as precious archives consisting of documents and letters by Lenin, Trotsky, Bukharin, Radek and many others, copies of his correspondence with Moscow, and many other valuable documents. According to ‘Comrade Thomas’, he had collected all this material in order eventually to write the ‘documentary history of the Communist International’, but the lot had remained in Germany in a location he considered safe. Despite Hitler’s coming to power, he had not been too worried, as influential friends had assured him that these archives were safe. Now he realised that he had relied too much on his German friends, many of whom had already disappeared, and their guarantee had certainly ceased to count. What he therefore asked of me was this: knowing that in 1933 I had successfully moved the archives of the Social Democratic Party from Berlin, he wanted to know if I could do the same for his. He was ready to agree to any conditions, for instance that his archives be put together with those of the German Social Democratic Party, which were under my supervision in Paris. He hoped to obtain the necessary funds to cover the cost of transporting the archives, as it was essential was to rescue the material he had assembled.
Naturally, I was sympathetic. I said I would do all in my power, but getting archives out of Hitler’s Germany, which particular circumstances had made possible in 1933, was a feat impossible to repeat in May 1935. I was willing to take steps to clarify the situation, but I saw not the slightest hope of successfully carrying out this operation. Anticipating, I hasten to say that the steps I took had no success, and all the archives of ‘Comrade Thomas’ were lost during the war. Part of his library was spared, but it wasn’t the most interesting part. After the war, the remaining books were transported to the USA, and after the death of ‘Comrade Thomas’, they were, according to his wishes, donated to one of the new American universities (I never had the opportunity of seeing them). ‘Comrade Thomas’ died in America 10 or 12 years ago without having written the ‘documentary history of the Communist International’, without, it seems, having even begun it. The account which follows is based on the notes written by me at his dictation. Apparently, this is the only account that remains of his activities, except, of course, the writings and documents preserved in Moscow, but of which historians are nowhere near being aware …
After discussing the archives, the talk turned to the past. ‘Comrade Thomas’ had indeed much to tell, and although my time was limited, I soon realised that one evening would not be sufficient for our talk. Today, I still cannot forgive myself for not having remained a few days longer in Prague to complete these conversations.
‘Comrade Thomas’ had a good memory; he had remembered the salient facts and dates, as well as the substance of discussions and the points of view of this or that person. He was neither a theoretician nor a politician. He approached all questions as a practical man but with a broad outlook, and he knew how to relate the details to the whole. The main problem that his account was to raise was soon evident: he had so much to tell about the personalities, the political discussions and the relationships between the leaders. It was obviously impossible to deal with all this information in two evenings of talk, however condensed. Therefore, we decided to stay within precise limits: all the personal questions relating to the activity of the Communist International in the various countries would be left out of his tale (this mainly concerned the German Communist Party, in which the relations between the leaders were particularly mixed up and confused) so as to leave as much time as possible for questions relating to the activity of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, to its relations with the different parties, and to the personal role of Lenin.
Was ‘Comrade Thomas’ completely honest in his account and his judgements? He repeatedly stressed that he had not the slightest intention of hiding or glossing over anything. And I formed the impression that he tried to present things as they had really taken place. I doubt whether he completely succeeded, for his state of mind in 1935 was certainly different to what it had been in 1919–20. He insisted that he had nearly always agreed with Radek’s position – Radek, at that period, being the person who most logically and persistently opposed adventures and adventurism – but I am not totally sure that ‘Comrade Thomas’ did not substitute the views he subsequently developed for those he had previously held. But it was possible that this substitution only applied to details. Essentially, in his overall attitude, ‘Comrade Thomas’ could not but align himself with the opponents of adventures and adventurism. Therefore, I believe the general picture he gave me of his position was basically correct.
But there are other points about which I am today inclined to believe ‘Comrade Thomas’ did not wish to be honest, and I think it necessary to point them out.
I have already mentioned that Hitler’s coming to power in 1933 had not overly worried ‘Comrade Thomas’, who, at the time, did not think of leaving Germany, even though he was both Jewish and a Communist editor, people whom the Hitlerites were pursuing right from the start. His attitude changed towards the end of 1934 or the beginning of 1935, and it was then that he decided to go abroad and save his archives. What had occurred during these two years to alter so radically his plans?
It is not difficult to answer this question. In the summer of 1934, Hitler purged not only the SA with Captain Röhm at their head, but also the ‘political generals’ Schleicher and Bredow, that is, the organisation which in the postwar years constructed the political alliance between the Reichswehr and the Soviet dictatorship for the purpose of a common struggle against the Western democracies.  The ‘influential friends’ who gave ‘Comrade Thomas’ guarantees about his personal safety and the safeguarding of his archives before Hitler’s coming to power, but who, in 1935, were unable to keep their promises, could only be members of this organisation. Only they had sufficient authority to offer such guarantees, and in any case ‘Comrade Thomas’ was not so naive as to rely on the promises of people who did not have the means to implement them …
Here I must stress that ‘Comrade Thomas’ did not take me into his confidence on this point. These are my own conclusions, but I am convinced that they are correct: the man who from 1919 held highly responsible posts not only on behalf of the Executive Committee of the Communist International but also of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party, who purchased aeroplanes to transport Enver Pasha to Moscow, and who organised bomb attacks against munition trains from France during the Soviet-Polish war, could not have been unaware of the secret links between the Soviet dictatorship and the German revanchists. It is not possible for me to dwell on this part of ‘Comrade Thomas’’ biography, but I think it necessary to stress that many things will be easier to understand if one takes note of this aspect of his activities which he did not reveal in his account. In his talks with me he was, at least so I believe, completely open on all that concerned the political actions of the Russian Communist Party and the Communist International, but he said not a word about the role he played in the dangerous and complex game of the Soviet and German plotters …
Naturally, I tried to check up on the truthfulness of ‘Comrade Thomas’’ account, and the result of my inquiries is reflected in the postscript appended to this account. It is quite possible that some inexactitudes, pure and simple errors, slipped in; given the circumstances of our meetings it would be astonishing if it were otherwise. But a portion of these possible errors can be laid at my door: our two evening sessions of talk each lasted several hours, and my notes were hastily written and cursory, for I do not know short-hand. I immediately rewrote the notes of our first meeting and read them over to ‘Comrade Thomas’, who, on the whole, approved them while often adding and clarifying some points. I realise that my notes of the second meeting could have benefited from being amplified and checked. Nevertheless, I am convinced that in its present form this account, despite some gaps, is of real value for an understanding of the first years of the history of the Communist International.
Finally, I must draw attention to another aspect of my notes: throughout, I refer to the author of this account by the conspiratorial name by which he was officially referred to in the Communist International, that is, ‘Comrade Thomas’. This is deliberate, since I never tried nor was able to establish his real name or identity. I know under which name ‘Comrade Thomas’ lived in Bern before the revolution; I know in whose name the ‘foolproof’ passport was made out when in 1919 Lenin made this Dzerzhinsky’s responsibility; I also know which passport ‘Comrade Thomas’ received in 1926 before leaving Moscow, after having given up his official links with the Communist International and which he used when he went to America. But I have good grounds for believing that none of the names that appeared in these documents was his. I realise that the failure to resolve this leaves a gap: knowledge of the true identity of my interviewee would have been very useful for getting a true idea of ‘Comrade Thomas’’ antecedents before he began his work in the Communist International, and of his revolutionary past. Unfortunately, I am unable to elucidate this point with the required assurance. Therefore, in my opinion, it is better to accept that this mystery has not been resolved rather than speculate without adequate proof. One vital fact: his sponsor, the one who furnished him with the means necessary for the activities he engaged in within the Communist International, the one who gave him the suitcase full of diamonds and other precious stones, was Fürstenberg-Ganetsky.
The Story of ‘Comrade Thomas’
Suddenly the question of a conference of the Communist International came up. I don’t remember how it all began. Angelica Balabanova, returning from Stockholm, had, I think, spoken of the work of the Zimmerwald Commission.  Ilyich [Lenin] got excited about his old idea: to break the back of the Socialist parties, which, according to him, were all rotting and in the pay of the general staffs. He succeeded in convincing Trotsky and Balabanova. The latter listened only to him. Apparently, Zinoviev  and Lenin had already reached agreement. Karl Moor  was easily won over. He had come to Russia in search of pretty little girls (it was the old man’s weakness) and to get repayment of the loans he had previously made to the former Russian émigrés. Rakovsky,  arriving later, was quickly won over to the project.
The agreement of Rakovsky and Moor, it seems, settled the matter. Our propaganda section soon received instructions to contact left-wing groups abroad and to invite them to the conference. The three of us, Ossinsky, Liubarsky and I, saw to this. Firstly, we decided whom we should invite. These were Loriot and Souvarine from France, Peluso from Spain, Serrati from Italy, the Italian émigré deserter Misiano from Switzerland, and Koritschoner from Austria. I recall that there was talk of inviting one of the Bulgarian ‘Tesniaki’ (Blagoev, I think), Joseph Strasser from Austria, Julius Alpari, etc. In general, we had in mind those who had, during the war, acquired the reputation of being men of the ‘left’. I had brought with me the Serbian Milkic, a Social Democrat deputy, condemned to death in his absence for opposing the war. 
In Germany there was a thorny problem. A Communist nucleus had come into being, but Ilyich feared opposition to his plans. Therefore, he insisted that we establish contact not only with the Berlin Spartakus centre but also with the provincial groups, particularly the Arbeiterpolitik people in Bremen (Laufenberg and others who subsequently went over to National Bolshevism), and with Hamburg where Zaks-Gladniev was active and had formed a group (he wrote under the pseudonym ‘Sturmhahn’). 
The invitations were sent through couriers. None of these had received any political instruction, not even an explanation of the situation in Russia. All were former prisoners of war anxious to get home, or were (so they claimed) Communist sympathisers. They were given money, and letters, written on silk, were sewn into their trousers or caps. They were asked only to deliver these messages to their destination. As far as I remember, 24 of these couriers were sent. Later we checked up that only three or four of them had actually delivered their messages. We never found out what happened to the rest.
Lenin’s misgivings about the German Spartakists were well founded. Rosa Luxemburg had no confidence in Lenin; she feared that the Communists of Western Europe might become prisoners of Moscow.  This state of mind survived among her spiritual heirs, who, at this period were led by Leo Jogiches (Tychko). Their delegate, Hugo Eberlein, arrived in Moscow with a clear and unequivocal mandate: the Spartakus group was against the creation of a new International.  Its leaders started from the premise that there did not exist in the West Communist parties worthy of the name, they had first to be created. Later, Paul Levi  confided to me (after having broken with the Communist International) that Jogiches had explained to him why he had favoured Eberlein as their delegate: he had the reputation of being narrow minded, even obtuse, but obstinate and tenacious. So Jogiches was sure that he would not be turned in Moscow. This was so. Eberlein turned out to be very tough. As soon as he arrived he told Lenin he had come only as an observer. In no circumstance would he associate himself with the founding of a new International. Everyone tried to move him, Lenin as well as Trotsky, not to mention less important people. Their arguments came up against a stone wall.
He was lodged with Marchlewsky’s wife  at the First House of Soviets (the National Hotel), and she and Balabanova were advised how to handle him and make him see reason. With great difficulty, the most that could be agreed was that Eberlein would state that, having studied the situation at first hand, he had personally come to the conclusion that Moscow’s proposals were acceptable, but that he could not vote for the founding of the Communist International, as his mandate was binding. No insistence or entreaties could move him. When the decisive vote on the setting up of the Communist International was taken, unanimity was only obtained through a subterfuge, of which I will talk later.
In order to allay the impression that the whole of the German Communist Party was opposed to the formation of the Communist International, a second delegate, Klinger, a German from the Volga region, who had never had any connection with the German Communist Party, was held in reserve. Eberlein’s acquiescence having been secured, Klinger did not intervene as a representative of the German Communist Party, but was given the mandate of Communists originating from the German settlements on the Volga.
No preparations were made for the conference: no preliminary meetings, no reports, no discussions. The only thing that was done was to seek out among former Russian émigrés people who had some connection, however tenuous, with the working-class movements of the countries in which they had lived, and who could, with some semblance of justification, be called ‘delegates’. This was how Boris Reinstein  came to figure among the delegates of the American Socialist Party.
At the same time great care was taken to ensure that the delegations from the various countries should not consist of men endowed with any minds of their own. I recall what happened among the Swiss. Fritz Platten had arrived from Switzerland, a man reputed to be sound. But word got around that he had his own opinions. As a result the three organisers had a visit from Chicherin, who asked to see comrade Kascher. She was somewhat of an adventurer who had played at opposition within the women’s movement in Switzerland and who had arrived in Russia with Platten, needless to say without any mandate. Moreover, she had a bad reputation. Platten was scandalised, but in vain. Lenin insisted, and Kascher was admitted to the conference. 
The most picturesque person at the conference was Rutgers , a Dutch engineer who wore thigh boots. Coming from the Dutch colonies, he had reached Moscow via Japan and Siberia.
The opening of the conference was postponed, and the arrival of Guilbeaux  was awaited so that at least one Frenchman should be present. Finally, it was decided to proceed without him, and the conference was opened. Suddenly a telegraph message in morse arrived from Minsk. Joffe , who had been waiting there to be called to Berlin at any moment, announced that Guilbeaux had just arrived. Lenin’s spirits rose. Despite his experience, he much overrated Guilbeaux. The railways were in a critical condition, but a locomotive, burning wood, was dispatched to bring in Guilbeaux and his wife (a nonentity of a Frenchwoman, and a stranger to all that was going on).
In the midst of the preparations for the conference, a rumour spread that a delegation of Western Socialists, led by Karl Kautsky was coming to Russia. This created a sensation. Lenin had just completed his book The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky, and had handed me the manuscript for translation into German. I passed this job on to Frida Rubiner. As soon as he heard of Kautsky’s imminent arrival, Lenin hurried things along. He insisted that as soon as Kautsky crossed the frontier a copy of the pamphlet should be handed to him. Lenin was also concerned about the reception and lodging of this delegation, and he put Karakhan in charge of all the arrangements. Lenin insisted that they should receive the best possible welcome. In the conditions existing at the time this was no easy task. Karakhan found a suitable house, the former town house of a wealthy sugar merchant on Sophia Quay (I think it was Tereshchenko’s). The catering was even more difficult. I remember that Karakhan was congratulating himself on having been able to procure a bag of rice and some chickens …  As we know, Kautsky’s delegation never came. The rice and chickens went to the ‘delegates’ of the future Communist International.
The conference itself was of little interest. It was held in a small hall in the Palace of Justice in the Kremlin. The agenda and other documents can be easily consulted in the minutes. The report on the White and Red Terrors was given by Chicherin, under an assumed name. There were no discussions or meetings of the various tendencies. Lenin’s theses were not even available for preliminary examination. The manifesto was drawn up by Trotsky, who installed himself in a small side room during the sessions. He wrote it directly in German and read it to the conference immediately without previously showing it to anybody. It was approved without discussion.
The only problem that preoccupied everybody was Eberlein’s presence (he attended the conference under the pseudonym ‘Albert’); how could a vote be taken on the resolutions without bringing to light the disagreement of the German Communists? Eberlein was, in fact, the only delegate from Western Europe representing a real group.
The proceedings at the conference were somewhat dull. The arrival of the Austrian Gruber-Steinhardt  enlivened it. His appearance on the platform was picturesque and well stage-managed. In the middle of a boring speech the door was flung open; preceded by an attendant, a man in Austrian military uniform made his entry. With a shaggy beard, and a soldier’s cap in shreds, he went straight to the rostrum: ‘I’m the delegate of the Austrian Communists!’ He produced a knife and cut open his cap, from which he withdrew a mandate. He began speaking, describing, almost in tears, what he had endured crossing the lines on the Ukrainian front. It made everyone tremble. Then, as he was about to finish, someone on the platform whispered to him: ‘Shout: “Long Live the Congress of the Communist International!”’ This the Austrian did on the spot. Thus were the words ‘Congress of the Communist International’ uttered for the first time.
Balabanova then reported on the work of the Zimmerwald Committee. Following this, she proposed, seconded by Rakovsky, that the Zimmerwald group be dissolved. At this stage someone – Lenin or Zinoviev – proposed that the Communist International be founded, and that the conference be considered its first Congress. Forewarned, a section of the delegates instantly acclaimed this. Standing, all those present raised their hands and sang the International. Eberlein was moved by the atmosphere, and he too raised his hand. The Chairman took the opportunity to declare that the proposition had been unanimously adopted. Very disconcerted, Eberlein was unable to protest.
We then came to the election of the Executive Committee. This was the only issue which gave rise to anything resembling a caucus meeting, which, more or less by chance, was attended by Lenin, Zinoviev, Bukharin, Rakovsky and me. Vorovsky  was proposed as Secretary. Then the problem of Balabanova came up. What must we do? Pushing her aside would be embarrassing, as she had behaved herself. But Zinoviev declared categorically that it was impossible to work with her. Rakovsky proposed she be sent to Ukraine, where she would be given a responsible post. Someone suggested that this could be combined with Communist International activity. This suggestion was accepted right away. It was therefore decided to set up a Southern Bureau presided over by Balabanova and responsible for contacts with the Balkans and neighbouring countries.
The bureau of the Communist International was made up as follows: Zinoviev, President; Vorovsky, titular Secretary, but as he was ill, he was not very active; Berzin-Winter, Assistant Secretary; Klinger, Administrative Secretary; Bukharin, Liubarsky (‘Carlo’) and I.  We were given a big town house, previously occupied by Mirbach , in which we were at a loss what to do.
Working for the Communist International
I tried to obtain material for the second and subsequent numbers of Communist International, but articles were not easy to get. It was evidently necessary to involve first class writers so as to raise the prestige of the new International, but these writers, in so far as they were Russian, were up to their eyes in work. Needless to say, morale was not marvellous. It was at this time that Lenin summoned me in the night and told me: ‘You must go to Germany.’ I didn’t agree immediately. I was, in any case, arriving at this conclusion myself, but had not yet confirmed this in my own mind. The activity of the Communist International had to be organised in the West, and particularly in Germany. This could not be done without the assistance of veteran activists trained in clandestine work. They had to be sent from Moscow.
Lenin’s instructions were brief: ‘Take as much money as you can with you; send reports and, if possible, publications. In general do what the situation allows. But do it.’
There and then he drafted two notes, one for Ganetsky, the other for Dzerzhinsky.  At the same time he phoned Ganetsky, who at the time controlled the party funds, not the official funds relating to the Central Committee, nor the governmental funds appertaining to official services, but the secret funds which Lenin used as he saw fit without having to account to anyone. Ganetsky was the man to whom Lenin had entrusted its safeguarding and ‘servicing’.
I had known Ganetsky for some years, and he greeted me like an old comrade. He handed me a million roubles in German and Swedish currency. Then he took me to the strongroom in which the secret funds were kept. It was in the basement of the same Palace of Justice in which the Congress of the Communist International had taken place. Lighting our way with torches, we passed through a labyrinth of underground passages. Ganetsky needed several keys to open the heavy door. We entered a dimly lit and windowless underground chamber. I was not able to take in everything straightaway: in the walls were pigeon holes full of I know not what, and on the floor all sorts of boxes and trunks. Gold and gems were everywhere, precious stones were piled on the floor. Someone had tried to put them in some order, but had given up. A box near the door was full of rings. Others were full of gold ornaments from which the jewels had been removed. Ganetsky, flashing his torch around and smiling, said: ‘Choose!’ He subsequently exclaimed that all this jewellery had been taken from individuals on Lenin’s orders. Dzerzhinsky had had them deposited there for the secret needs of the party. Lenin had said: ‘All this was acquired by the capitalists by exploiting the people; now it must be used to expropriate the expropriators.’
I found it difficult to choose; how was I to estimate the value of these things? I knew nothing about precious stones. ‘And do you think I know any better than you?’, Ganetsky replied. ‘Only those trusted by Lenin come here. Choose what you will at sight. Ilyich has said that you should take as much as possible.’
I had nothing in which to carry the stuff. Ganetsky picked up a small suitcase covered in fine leather, with a damaged lock which could, however, still be closed. He tipped out its contents and handed it to me. I began to fill it with what I had chosen. Ganetsky kept on saying: ‘Take more’, while advising me that, once in Germany, I should not sell everything at once but little by little according to my needs. Indeed, I did space out my sales over a period of years.
I put gems in the suitcase; I left the gold as it was too bulky. I was not asked to make out a list of the gems, but of course I made out a receipt for the currency … 
The journey was not easy; the front was everywhere. It was necessary to prepare good documents. I had the help of the best experts. I was given a ‘foolproof’ passport; I was made out to be a commercial attaché of the Mexican consulate. But I had to wait for six to eight weeks. I left when Denikin’s offensive was at its height. This offensive created panic in Moscow.  There was talk of a withdrawal to the Volga or into the Urals. Hiding places and caches were being set up in Moscow. Gold, foreign currency and precious stones were put in safe locations. Karpov, a chemist, who died two years later, was put in charge of this task. He had several talks with me. In the event of a collapse in Moscow, my work in Germany would be very much increased. To assist my journey I was accompanied by M—, a Ukrainian diplomat who had come over to us.  The Chekists had briefed him, thinking he would help me in crossing the frontier. In fact it was I, on the contrary, who had to intervene on his behalf in Berlin. I was allowed to cross the Latvian, Lithuanian and German frontiers, but he, with the strange Ukrainian stamps on his passport, was detained.
Arriving in Germany
Naturally, I got in touch with Radek, whom I already knew well. I told him in detail of everything that had happened in Moscow after his departure; on his part, he told me of the events he had lived through. He had arrived in Berlin shortly before the insurrection of January 1919, and he had tried with all his might to prevent it. He had written at length to Rosa Luxemburg begging her to abandon her plans, and reminding her of the July 1917 uprising in Petrograd. Rosa had received his letter. To the courier who brought the letter and waited for a reply she said: ‘He [Radek] will read the answer tomorrow in the Rote Fahne.’ In this issue there appeared Rosa’s article calling for insurrection.
When Radek was arrested soon after, his secretary’s notebook was found; in it was an entry indicating that she had typed a letter to Rosa dictated by Radek. The examining magistrate questioned Radek as to its contents. According to Radek, he refused to answer. The original of this letter was passed to me by Radek at this time. It must be among my archives in Germany. 
In the course of his discussions with me, Radek showed himself to be a determined opponent of any putsch or adventure. I was constantly conferring with him, and my political line coincided essentially with his.
I was quickly able to organise a bureau and editorial service in Hamburg, which began to publish the Communist International in German (the first number came out soon after my arrival).  I soon managed to organise a first conference of Western European groups and parties favourable to the Communist International. Not only parties, but also groups and even individuals were invited to this conference. It was held at Frankfurt-am-Main. Clara Zetkin (for the German party), Bronsky (for the Poles), Valeriu Marcu (for the Rumanians), Karl Frank (for the Austrians) and Sylvia Pankhurst (for the English) took part. The Frenchman Fernand Loriot and some others were detained at Wiesbaden, which was then in the French-occupied zone, and were unable to get to Frankfurt. 
I gave the main report, which concentrated first on organisational problems. I announced that a bureau of the Communist International for Western Europe was set up with its headquarters in Berlin, and, also, that the printing of the review Communist International in German, French and English was ready to proceed, and that the first issue could be provided in the quantities required. I proposed to all the organisations in contact that they send in regular reports every month, and mentioned possible material assistance. The theses of the Western European bureau of the Communist International, drafted by Thalheimer, were discussed and adopted (subsequently approved by Moscow, they were published in Communist International as theses of the Western European bureau).  A resolution on Russia and an address of solidarity to Lenin were also adopted. Support for Russia was the essential issue for the conference, as it was for the activity of the bureau for Western Europe.
At the conference there was no doctrinal debate nor discussion on the activities of the Communists in other countries, even though the delegates had presented their reports. I remember handing a sum of money (several thousand marks) to Sylvia Pankhurst for the publication of a journal.
The Western European bureau was not elected at the conference. In agreement with Radek, I had previously picked its members as follows: Radek (so long as he remained in Germany), Paul Levi, Thalheimer, Bronsky, Willi Münzenberg and Ed Fuchs (Treasurer). 
The organisation of liaison with Moscow took me a lot of time and energy – particularly at the beginning. Everything had to be sent via couriers, and this nearly always entailed my acquiring false papers. It was necessary to make use of corruption. In this work Slivkin  proved an invaluable assistant. He acquired a reputation for his undeniable talent for distributing bribes. He had in his pocket all the necessary people, from ordinary inspectors to police chiefs. I remember that once, when I was in Stettin on the way back from Moscow, the local police chief himself boarded the ship I was on, and, after having stamped my (false) passport, asked if I had any more I wanted stamping!
I even chartered two planes to assure liaison with Moscow. The first passenger was Enver Pasha. After escaping from Constantinople, he arrived in Berlin at the end of 1919, sought me out, and told me he absolutely had to get to Moscow. I informed Moscow, who instructed me to send him by the quickest route. It would have been dangerous to send him by the usual route. If he had been arrested in Poland or in the Baltic states, he would have been handed over to the Entente and condemned to death as a war criminal. He therefore went by plane, but had no luck; over Lithuania his plane was machine-gunned and forced to land. All of its occupants were arrested. We had to send over people capable of getting them out of this situation. We feared Enver would be recognised. It cost us a lot, but he was freed. He returned to Germany from where he reached Moscow by another route. A little later he made a speech at the Congress of Peoples of the Orient, in Baku. 
I had sent a long report by the plane which carried Enver. In it I had said that in future I would write under the name of ‘Thomas’. This report was found, but it was in code, and the Lithuanians were unable to decipher it. Fed up with the hostilities, they passed it on to England. In 1933 or 1934, I saw it reproduced in an illustrated review appearing in Paris. 
At the time of the Kapp Putsch in 1920 , the Soviet representatives in Berlin were being hunted. Kopp had to go into hiding. A price (of 20,000 marks) was on his head. Raich and — saved him.  One finds no reference to any agreement between the organisers of the putsch and the Bolsheviks for joint action against Poland and the Versailles Treaty. Assuming that such talks did take place, they no doubt were simply suggestions exchanged between Radek and some of his right-wing contacts. In any case, Radek was elsewhere, in Moscow, at the time of the putsch.
I regularly attended the meetings of the Central Committee of the German Communist Party as ‘the eye of Moscow’, that is, in my capacity as delegate of the Executive Committee of the Communist International and of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party. The tendencies there were as follows: Bronsky was in favour of a policy of loyal opposition to the Social Democrats; Paul Levi agreed with him. Könen  was opposed to them. I regularly sent reports to the Central Committee in which I frankly explained the situation in the German Communist Party, at the same time reporting on the characteristics of the various members. I was not happy with the composition of the German Central Committee. Politically, Paul Levi was superior to the others, but he was an individualist as well as a dilettante. When in disagreement with the majority at meetings of the Central Committee, he would often declare that if they did not go along with what he thought necessary he would return to Frankfort and resume his work as a lawyer. This attitude of Levi’s showed itself very harshly during the discussion with —.  Put in a minority he declared: ‘Dann gehe ich nicht mit. Macht Ihr drei allein.’ [I’m not doing it, you three do it without me.’] This attitude of the leader made a very bad impression on the members of the Central Committee.
Needless to say, I could not avoid mentioning this in my reports to Moscow. These reports were considered very secret. Sight of them was restricted to Lenin, Zinoviev and members of the small (restricted) bureau of the Communist International. I felt that I had not only the right but the duty to speak frankly without hiding anything. This was, in any case, why I attended the meetings of the Central Committee as delegate of the Communist International and the Russian Communist Party; controlling the activities of the various Communist parties was a structural feature of the Communist International. A serious conflict arose as a result of my reports, of which I will speak later.
At the beginning of 1920, I managed to publish Russische Korrespondenz, a review which gave detailed information on life in Soviet Russia, especially in the economic field. 
I must mention that the first large-scale financial transaction belongs to this period. After long negotiations, I had handed a large sum (I recall $30,000 was involved) to an American Communist to finance the publication of a weekly in the United States. Louis Fraina – that was his name – had written a good book on the Russian Revolution. On his return to America he announced that he had been robbed of the money. He provided no proof of this, and he distanced himself from the Communist movement. 
The Second Congress of the Communist International
On the occasion of the Second Congress, a series of events occurred in Moscow that were to have serious consequences for the activity of the Communist International in Germany.
I only remained in Moscow for a few days. I had to return hastily to Germany where various tasks called me. Before leaving I made a long report to the small bureau of the Presidium of the Communist International. I don’t remember anything in particular about this report, except that it was unanimously accepted. On the other hand I, remember better the report I made to Lenin. He questioned me in detail, particularly on the situation in Germany and our activity there: on the organisation of the German Communist Party, the people placed in the leadership of the party, the activists in the provinces, the members of the editorial boards, and, in general, the party’s writers. He was interested in everything, and examined all the problems. He was convinced that we were rapidly approaching the social revolution in Germany. He wanted to know how people lived, and how corrupt the police was. He attached much importance to this. He asked me how I had organised my clandestine life. He insisted I buy a house and become a houseowner, assuring me that this would provide me with the solid base I required. This house could be turned into the headquarters of a general staff.
I then called on Trotsky. He, too, insisted on seeing me. I was struck by the differences in the questions posed by both. Trotsky was, above all, a writer, a publicist. He questioned me on recent publications. He was particularly concerned that his writings and pamphlets be translated into German and other languages …
Subsequently, when I was back in Germany, I learnt of what took place with Levi in Moscow. He found himself at the headquarters of the Communist International in Radek’s office, the latter having become one of the secretaries of the Third International. I never found out what they talked about, I know only that Radek opened a drawer and said it contained my secret reports on the German Communist Party. I think that Radek read him an extract from one of them. Left alone in the office, Levi picked up the reports and started to read them. Among them were those which characterised the members of the Central Committee, and Levi in particular; reports which had specially interested Lenin and which he asked me to continue sending.
Why had Radek acted thus? I still don’t understand it. I was on the best of terms with him, and our personal relationship was friendly. Politically, I was rather in agreement with him; in any case I was closer to him than to anyone else. The only explanation I can think of is this: assuming it was not pure and simple mischievousness (manipulating one person against another just to see what happened was one of young Radek’s habits), it was possible he wanted to use my reports to have a go at Zinoviev. In any case, Radek could not fail to understand that Levi would not keep quiet about my characterisation of the German Central Committee, whom I described, at best, as an assembly of schoolmasters and scribblers.
It was only later that I learnt of Radek’s trick. At the first meeting of the Central Committee of the German Communist Party [after the Congress], Levi gave a detailed report of his trip to Moscow, adding that he must round off his report with a personal item. He quoted from my reports, demagogically picking out certain sentences in which he was personally criticised, and presenting the whole thing as if it was part of an intrigue against him. He concluded by demanding that I be censured, and that a message be sent to the Communist International and to the Russian Central Committee asking for my recall to Moscow. Levi’s summing up was that he had always thought they could do without third parties; in future they would send reports themselves. This naturally provoked a hue and cry. Brandler  shouted about ‘Chekist methods’ transplanted to Berlin from Moscow. Others were just as vehement.
I replied that I attended meetings of the Central Committee of the German Communist Party not as a member of the committee but as the delegate of Moscow. Everybody knew this, just as they knew that I wrote reports; this was the reason I attended the meetings. The Central Committee, therefore, had no right to condemn me, nor to prevent me from attending. Naturally, the Central Committee had the right to write whatever it liked to Moscow, but as I said: ‘I will continue to attend your meetings; as for you, you must, as before, come to see me to resolve all matters between us so long as Moscow has not recalled me.’
You can easily imagine the atmosphere at the end of the meeting. Naturally, the Central Committee and I both sent detailed reports of this meeting to Moscow. I learnt that Lenin was indignant and made a scene; he wanted to know who had shown Levi my reports. Radek’s role was revealed, but his motives remained unexplained. Later, everyone claimed that an intrigue against Zinoviev was involved. Radek wriggled out of trouble. Notably, he wrote a long letter to Clara Zetkin defending me. After this, Clara took my side, even though she was closely linked to Paul Levi.
The small bureau of the Presidium of the Communist International and the Central Committee of the Russian party pronounced in my favour, and could not do otherwise, since they were constantly urging me to report frankly in the greatest possible detail. What was involved was no more nor less than the right of Moscow to exercise its control over the German Communist Party, a control which was precisely the essential feature of the Communist International’s structure. Moscow gave considerable aid to the national Communist parties on the condition that it exercised a control over their activities from within.
This affair had its outcome – provisional, certainly – when Zinoviev travelled to Germany for the Halle Congress of the Independent Socialist Party (USPD).  I had a long talk with Zinoviev, my personal relations with him never having been of the best. The conversation began with the following exchange.
Financial Management in the Communist International
I must add that the development of the Foreign Affairs Commissariat’s functions also added to my work. Litvinov’s role in foreign affairs grew, and earlier and more consistently than anyone else, he insisted on a strict delimitation between his commissariat and the Communist International, notably that the commissariat be relieved of any obligation to lend itself to the secret operations of the Communist International. Litvinov had defended this policy well before the conclusion of peace with Poland, but after the signing of the Treaty of Riga  he redoubled his insistence and finally obtained Lenin’s and the Central Committee’s support. Litvinov generally was for giving up ‘illegal work’ abroad. In 1921 he was telling me in Riga that this activity was harmful, that he didn’t think the Communist International counted for much, and he was advising me to transfer to the Foreign Affairs Commissariat. Litvinov has continued following this line, and, as far as I know, has always kept aloof from the activities of the Communist International.
It was otherwise with Krasin , who was more inclined to clandestine operations. During each of his trips to Germany he conferred with me in the apartment (on the Moabit) specially set up for these meetings with Soviet people passing through Berlin, and he questioned me in detail on everything.
Of course, Lenin did not go as far as Litvinov. He never intended giving up the Communist International, but he admitted that it was necessary to separate its activities from those of Soviet diplomacy. It was on his instructions that the Central Committee decided to set up a secret fund of 50 million gold marks. I was informed of this decision, but it was not mentioned in the minutes of the Central Committee. It was taken immediately after the Riga Treaty, under the impact of Kamenev’s misadventure in London.  This fund was to be managed by the Politbureau, which set up for this purpose a commission to which Lenin, Zinoviev and Trotsky belonged. Krumin’s sister, the ex-wife of Lomov , was appointed its secretary. I was given the responsibility of managing the fund abroad. Foreseeing difficulties, I insisted that someone else be nominated. I proposed Stasova.  Moscow rejected my proposal, and management of the fund devolved on me.
I sent my accounts to Zinoviev, knowing that he would pass them on to the ‘committee of three’ composed of Lenin, Zinoviev and Trotsky. Thus the whole of the financing of the Communist International’s activities abroad was centralised by me. The procedure was as follows: each Communist party had to submit a budget accompanied by detailed explanations giving the reasons why the money was needed and the total amount. I had these budgets checked by experts, and forwarded them to the Communist International in Moscow with my observations. Basing itself on my information, Moscow then worked out its overall budget, and, after having fixed the amounts, passed it on to the Russian Central Committee, which made the final decisions.
The amounts allotted to each country varied enormously. The Germans were the most favoured. The largest annual subsidy they got was, as far as I remember, seven million gold marks, which was during the period of preparation for the 1923 putsch. The other countries’ Communist sections received far less, but nevertheless several thousand, and even hundreds of thousands of gold marks, were distributed to them. A large proportion was given in kind by the Communist International itself in the form of propaganda materials. Some of this was produced in Russia under Zinoviev’s control in Petrograd, another part under the control of our Western European bureau in Hamburg or Vienna, where a sizeable group of Hungarian Communists had settled. Much friction resulted. The material published by these centres was not acceptable to the Communist parties, which rejected it, and since the cost of these publications was included in the subsidy, they demanded money in lieu and the right to publish what they wanted… They rarely got their own way. They didn’t have the necessary clout…
It usually fell to me to settle disputes, but within the guidelines from Moscow. When asked to give money to certain people, I often decided, after making enquiries, either to reduce the amount or to give nothing at all, and Moscow would eventually back me up. But it often happened the other way. Moscow promised funds and then instructed me to refuse to hand them over under various pretexts. They had promised the money to avoid embarrassment.
Despite taking precautions, I could not avoid problems. The biggest were connected with the financial catastrophe in Germany in 1923. The situation was complicated by the political differences that had arisen within the party, and because Piatnitsky was now (1922) in charge of financial affairs in Moscow. Piatnitsky had fallen down on the job as the Secretary of the Moscow Committee.  Krestinsky  told me that Piatnitsky was impossible, and that no one could work with him. It was apparently because of this that he was directed to the Communist International and given the thorniest job: the management of its finances. In this job one had to deal with all sorts of different people, and one had to know how to put up with them. That was the only reason for his nomination to the job.
My friction with Piatnitsky started straightaway. It amounted to this: I was in the habit of acting on my own responsibility according to the situation, and reporting to the Communist International after the event. Piatnitsky began by insisting that I seek Moscow’s advice in advance. I refused, and Moscow backed me. Piatnitsky then raised the question of funds. He protested at the payments I had made to the Polish Communists. There again he failed. He then brought up the question of the management of the funds from the financial point of view. The money at my disposal was in German currency, whose exchange rate soon dropped. I hastened to change some of it, but only some, into other currencies. I kept the remainder in German currency, thinking that its devaluation would not be great, and that eventually the mark would appreciate again. Piatnitsky calculated the amount that would have been saved if I had switched all the funds into dollars. Of course, it amounted to a lot. I argued that no one could have predicted what happened. The advice of an expert from the State Bank, called Levine, was sought. He bore witness that the bank itself had not believed the devaluation would be so severe, and that it too had made considerable losses on the mark. A special commission was set up, at first in Moscow, on which sat Bukharin, Radek, Clara Zetkin, Remmele , Litvinov and Kochteva (a Polish woman). The matter was then transferred to Berlin, where Krestinsky was made head of the commission. There was a meeting. We had some tea, then the discussion started. I explained that over two and a half months I had exchanged 25 million worth of marks, and I gave the reasons which prevented me changing all the marks at once. I felt that something was wrong with Krestinsky, but didn’t understand what. At the end, when we were alone, Krestinsky said: ‘We can settle this matter quickly. You are certainly right. The State Bank itself did not anticipate what happened. But, between us, you must say you had confidential instructions from Zinoviev, so that an official decision can be taken.’
I then understood that this affair had become mixed up with a base intrigue. I had no sympathy for Zinoviev, but thought that he should not be made responsible. I refused to play along. The matter was again referred to Moscow. The Central Committee ruled against Piatnitsky in vague terms. Thereupon I offered my resignation. It was rejected, but this time my demand that someone be appointed to manage the funds was accepted. The commission chose Stasova, whom I had already proposed in 1921. Piatnitsky remained at the Communist International, but I refused to have any contact with him. The matter was taken up by the Central Committee, which judged my attitude unacceptable. Nevertheless, I remained adamant, and my contacts were limited to Stasova.
The March Action
The meeting ended on a sour note. I lost Béla Kun’s sympathy. He felt (and openly said) that I had lacked loyalty towards him in involving him in a meeting with Warski and Łapiński: ‘Them … Bolsheviks?’
Kun got to work ‘in the Russian way’, ‘following the old methods’, trying to convince certain members of the Central Committee, Thalheimer, Eberlein and others. Then we heard: ‘The Central Committee has decided’, ‘We will respond to the bourgeoisie’s provocations arms in hand.’
The line-up in the new German Central Committee, as it was constituted after the fusion with the Independents, favoured Béla Kun. The members of this party were more inclined to adventurism than the old Spartakists. These had a better Marxist training. Former members of the Independents such as Däumig  became fervent supporters of insurrection. Whenever anyone spoke at the Central Committee of taking up arms, it was always an ex-Independent.
Levi fought with all his might in the Central Committee, and when the issue was decided against him he left for Vienna and awaited events. When the putsch failed he published his first pamphlet. It was certain he had started writing it beforehand. Clara Zetkin supported Levi. Béla Kun imposed party discipline on them: the decision had been taken, and it had to be carried out. Hugo Eberlein was given the task of creating the required mood in Central Germany by provocations. The bombs were there, and he found the pretext …
The uprising had not been seriously organised from a military angle. Central Germany was chosen because it had large working-class centres. At one time I considered locking Eberlein in his flat for a week or two. Of course, I informed Moscow, protested forcefully, and demanded Béla Kun’s recall. I pointed out that the preconditions for an uprising did not exist. Moscow remained silent. One had the impression that, over there, they were waiting. If the uprising succeeded, they would take the credit; if it failed, they would disavow it.
That is what happened. The uprising was soon aborted. Béla Kun went to ground in the Berlin suburbs, taking with him Thalheimer and Paul Frölich. With them he set himself to draft The Theory of the Offensive.  He wrote a thick pamphlet which the Central Committee published. At that point, a message from Lenin arrived, recalling Béla Kun. He left for Moscow by plane. There was a right bother. Kun had an interview with Lenin. I don’t know the details, but I know that Lenin was raging. Kun had a heart attack, and after his meeting with Lenin he collapsed in the street. He was carried home and put to bed. Moscow demanded explanations. All those involved in the adventure were summoned. The order was given to destroy the pamphlet on the tactic of the ‘offensive’. I carried out this order with pleasure; 20 or 30 copies at most escaped destruction.
But, as was customary in such cases, Levi was also attacked. Radek wrote a pamphlet castigating Levi’s criticisms.  Clara Zetkin heard of this. Thinking that I would be against the transmission of her protests, she went to the embassy for her protest to be sent in code. The telegram was sent, its general content being: ‘I am informed that Thomas is publishing a pamphlet by Radek against Levi, and that one chapter is entitled Levi the Renegade. I insist that instructions be issued forbidding the publication of this pamphlet.’
Lenin, through me, replied to Clara Zetkin: ‘The contents of Radek’s pamphlet are correct. The chapter Levi the Renegade does not exist.’ Lenin was playing on the fact that at the last moment the title of the chapter on Levi was altered: Levi the Renegade was changed to The Levi Case. At about the same time a letter arrived from Lenin addressed to Levi. For my part, I wrote to Clara Zetkin. At that point Levi published another pamphlet, and announced his resignation from the Central Committee. Clara Zetkin was hesitantvv… 
The problem that faced me was: what should I do with Lenin’s letter to Levi? Should I pass it on to the person for whom it was intended? I asked Wilhelm Könen, a member of the Central Committee to see me. I showed him the letter and asked his advice. ‘I don’t know’, he said. I insisted on an answer: ‘Is your decision that the letter not be passed on?’ ‘I don’t know’, he repeated. I sent a telegram to Moscow, and risked opening the letter. Its tenor was typical. I give it from memory:
I must say that I do not consider Zinoviev the only one responsible for this affair. Zinoviev never decided for himself even the least important matters. He always asked Lenin’s advice. He telephoned him over trifles. I happened to be present (during the last days of December 1920) when Zinoviev received from the printers the proofs of a thesis on the trade unions. He was phoning Lenin about the slightest correction. In general, Zinoviev was a pathological coward, both physically and morally. I have heard a number of specific facts about him. For example, during Yudenich’s offensive, Chatov, at the time ‘Polizeimeister’ of Petrograd had to restrain him by force to prevent him from running away.