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Fourth International, July 1944


On the Anniversary of Rudolf Klement’s Assassination


From Fourth International, vol.5 No.7, July 1944, pp.202-203.
Transcribed, marked up & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.


It was on the eve of a great historic event. The World Congress which was to found the new hope of the revolutionary working class, the Fourth International, was in the final stages of preparation. Suddenly the labor movement was startled with the news of the mysterious murder of the Secretary of the Bureau of the Fourth International.

On July 12, 1938, Comrade Rudolf Klement disappeared. A few days later, the carbon copy of a letter allegedly sent by Klement to Leon Trotsky made its appearance in Paris. The letter purported to be a statement breaking with the Fourth International because of its “objective collaboration with the Fascists.” It was signed “Rudolf Klement” in the typewritten text and countersigned with his “illegal” pen-name! An odd procedure! The crudeness of the forgery pointed to the cause of the disappearance: The valiant young International Secretary had been kidnapped by agents of Stalin’s GPU. For many weeks it was believed, because the letter had been postmarked from Perpignan on the French border in the Pyrenees, that Comrade Rudolf had been carried off into the Stalinist terror dungeons of Loyalist Spain. Then, in September, his mutilated body was dragged up from the River Seine.

Six years have passed since the brutal murder of Klement by the Stalinist gangsters. By his assassination, the usurpers in the Kremlin sought to paralyze the work for the rebuilding of the revolutionary International which they had deserted and betrayed. It was a cruel blow.

But the assassins only served to emphasize by their foul deed the dread in which the rising Fourth International was held by all the forces of reaction the world over, The founding World Congress was held despite all the machinations and plots of its enemies. The newly organized Fourth International continued to grow and to thrive as a living memorial to its martyred young secretary, who at the age of twenty-eight had already devoted most of his lifetime – beginning with his boyhood in Hamburg, Germany – in the service of the proletarian revolution.

Shortly before his own murder at the hands of a Stalinist killer, Trotsky wrote:

“The assassination of Klement, because he was Secretary of the Fourth International, is of profound symbolic significance. Through its Stalinist gangsters, imperialism indicates beforehand from what side mortal danger will threaten it in time of war. At present, sections of the Fourth International exist in thirty countries. True, they are only the vanguard of the vanguard. But if today, prior to the war, we had mass organizations, then revolution and not war would be on the order of the day.”

The frenzied fear of the Fourth International, expressed so symbolically by the forces of reaction before 1938 in the murder not only of Rudolf Klement, but of his martyred co-workers Hans Freund, Erwin Wolf, Ignace Reiss and Leon Sedoff, reached its highest pitch in 1940 with the pick-axe blow that felled Leon Trotsky, the leader in whom revolutionary internationalism in our epoch found its truest personification.

But even this cruelest of all blows could not crush the spirit of struggle which our great martyrs imparted to the organization for which they laid down their lives. With redoubled determination, the Trotskyists of the world carried on, expanded and accelerated the work of the fallen heroes.

Today, international reaction spends its impotent wrath in new persecutions. In America and in England it has singled out the Trotskyist leaders for frame-up and imprisonment. But they cannot stop the relentless march of the forces of the Fourth International on the road to mass organization, when, in the words of Trotsky, revolution and not war will be on the order of the day.

We bow our heads today in homage to the martyred young International Secretary. On this sixth anniversary of his death we feel more confident than ever that he did not die in vain. That the cause in which he fell, the cause of international socialism, will conquer the earth.

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Last updated on 30.8.2008