L. Trotsky

The Four Portraits of Chiang Kai-Shek

What Happened to the Ones Sent to Stalin, Rykov and Voroschilov, and the One for ... Trotsky

(April 1927)

Written: 18 April 1927.
Source: The Militant, Vol. V No. 38 (Whole No. 134), 17 September 1932, p. 2.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Trotsky Internet Archive.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2014. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.

On April 6, 1927, Stalin defended his alliance with Chiang Kai-Shek before a select meeting of party officials in the Moscow Hall of the Columns. “Borodin is vigilant!” Through the intermediary of a vigilant agent he hoped to co-ordinate the struggle of the classes and to utilize it. On April 11, 1927, Chiang Kai-Shek after having smashed the proletariat, carried through his coup d’état in Shanghai. Shortly before the overthrow, Chiang Kai-Shek still found time to exchange portraits with Stalin, Rykov and Voroschilov, through the medium of Stalin’s personal agent in China, Bubnov. It should not be forgotten that in those days the Kuo Min Tang belonged to the Communist International with an advisory vote. The fourth portrait of Chiang Kai-Shek was intended for an exchange with ... Trotsky. The Secretariat of the E.C.C.I. not only sent along Chiang Kai-Shek’s portrait with a note to Trotsky but also categorically demanded that Trotsky promptly send back to the Secretariat his own portrait for transmission to Chiang, with a corresponding dedication. Behind this whole action, it is plain, stood the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The supposition advanced in the Trotsky letter reproduced below, that all this was happening “without the knowledge of the leading persons” is naturally meant ironically. We already know that Stalin did at that time exchange his portrait for that of his Chinese ally. Here is Trotsky’s letter:

To the Eastern Secretariat of the E.C.C.I.
Copy: To the Presidium of the E.C.C.I. and the Political Bureau of the Central Committee:

Nr. 45-c

Returned from leave of absence, I found the photograph of Chiang Kai-Shek sent me through the Eastern Department of the E.C.C.I. and the request promptly to send him my autographed picture. Had I received such a request through the Foreign Office then, regardless of my attitude toward this request, I would find the fact itself explainable. But it is absolutely incomprehensible to me why the Eastern Department of the E.C.C.I. – the international organization of the Communist vanguard of the proletariat – occupies itself with such a thoroughly compromising matter as the spreading of portraits of Chiang Kai-Shek, on top of that – as a result of a malicious irony of fate – on the eve of the coup d’état carried out by him I do not doubt that this job, unseemly for the E.C.C.I., was done by some employee of the Eastern Department not empowered to do it, without the knowledge of the leading persons and especially of the Presidium of the E.C.C.I., as a consequence of which I deem it necessary to bring this distasteful affair to your attention. The picture of Chiang Kai-Shek I am herewith returning.

April 18, 1927

With Communist Greetings
L. Trotsky

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Last updated on: 10.1.2014