Clara Zetkin
Third Congress of the Communist International

Clara Zetkin Statement
July 2, 1921

Source: Published in To the Masses: Proceedings of the Third Congress of the Communist International, 1921 (, pp. 595-596
Translation: Translation by John Riddell
HTML Markup: David Walters and Andy Blunden for the Marxists Internet Archive, 2018
Copyright: John Riddell, 2017. Republished here with permission

1.) Comrade Heckert accused me yesterday of having known on Thursday, 31 March, that Comrades Däumig, Levi, Geyer, and others intended to issue a manifesto criticising the conduct of the Zentrale during the March Action. I must point out that I heard something regarding their intentions only on 2 April, when I arrived in Berlin, from Comrades Walcher and Hauth. What is more, I immediately used every means at my disposal to dissuade the opposition comrades from issuing the manifesto. I considered that subjecting the March Action and the Zentrale’s conduct to harsh and ruthless criticism was a life-and-death question for the party, and it was precisely for this reason that I rejected the path that many opposition comrades wished to take.

2.) In addition, Comrade Heckert claimed that my attitude to the Communist Party had been vacillating and indecisive from the start, since I did not immediately join the party when it was founded. Regarding this assertion, I have the following to say:

The founding convention of the Communist Party took me by surprise. Comrade Luxemburg had just informed me that she, and even more Comrade Leo Jogiches, were strongly of the opinion that we should break from the USPD only at its convention and only then constitute ourselves as the Communist Party. Due to a combination of circumstances, I received no word of a change in plans and that a founding convention was being held.

Just before she was murdered, Rosa wrote me that I should not insist so impatiently on coming to Berlin and declaring officially that I was joining the Communist Party. After discussion with Leo, she felt it would be more useful to our cause if I remained a member of the USPD up to its convention. She promised to write me soon and explain this at greater length.

The brutal blows of the cowardly, bemedalled murderers prevented her from sending that letter. Shortly thereafter Comrade Leo wrote me that he was aware how pained I was by this awkward situation, but I should stick it out until the USPD convention. First, as editor of the women’s supplement to the Leipziger Volkszeitung, I was occupying an advanced post in enemy territory. Secondly, this post could well lead the USPD to commit a political error by taking action against me. Thirdly, I should not give up the opportunity to take part in the USPD convention and present there our point of view by criticising the party’s theory and practice and then announcing my resignation. This could well break off a portion of the left opposition and lead them to us. Utilising this opportunity was all the more important, in his opinion, because he was still of the opinion that the Communist Party had been founded prematurely and that we ought to have waited for the USPD convention.

I acted accordingly.
Clara Zetkin