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Labor Action, 24 March 1947


Ruth Fischer Comments on Eisler Case

(10 March 1947)


From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 12, 24 March 1947, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


We publish below a letter sent by Ruth Fischer to the Militant, with a copy to Labor Action for publication. The letter refers to an editorial which appeared recently in the Militant denouncing Ruth Fischer’s appearance before the House Committee on un-American Affairs to testify against Gerhart. Eisler, agent of the Stalinist murder machine. Labor Action last week published a letter by Jack Weber on the same subject. As readers who read our editorials on the Eisler investigation know, the opinion of Labor Action is substantially identical with the views set forward in the letter of Comrade Weber. We reject the view that Ruth Fischer, by utilizing the forum of the House Committee, which any revolutionary socialist would have done in the fight against the murder machine of Stalinism and its instruments, is thereby an “informer” or a “tool of American imperialism.” Whatever differences we may have with Ruth Fischer, we know her as an honest and courageous working class fighter against the plague of Stalinism and the attack made upon her is a defamation.Ed.


To: James P. Cannon, National Secretary
The Socialist Workers Party
116 University Place New York, N.Y.

My attention has been called to your editorial in the February 15 issue of The Militant entitled Not Trotskyist. I do not intend to discuss the precise meaning of the term Trotskyist, for it seems to me a rather silly and dogmatic approach to an important problem. The fight against Stalinist terror is not the private property of the group organized under James P. Cannon but a vital issue to the millions of Europeans, Russians included, suffering under the lash of the GPU. It is an honor to the memory of Leon Trotsky that these fighters, differing in everything but their will to crush the GPU machine, are termed Trotskyists,

No more do I wish to answer your personal attack on me, for this kind of vicious smear is outside rational polemics. Your Central Committee knows better than most Americans the details of my fight against Stalin for the last twenty, years – knows, in particular, that Maslow and I were the only German socialists accused In the Moscow GPU frame-ups of plotting with Trotsky the assassination of Stalin, and that I am the last survivor of those “trials.”

What I consider worse than your attack on me is your utter indifference to instructing your readers oh the facts about Gerhart Eisler. Eisler, you say, has been “charged by the FBI with being an undercover agent of the Kremlin,” and that is all you have to say on his case. You do not indicate by so much as an innuendo whether you consider this charge to be based on the truth or merely the result of my “serving as a tool of American imperialism.” For the benefit of your members and readers, I ask therefore that you print the bare facts of his GPU career.

Eisler’s record as GPU Agent

Eisler became a GPU-man in 1926, when he entered the information service of the Soviet Embassy in Berlin. Uninterruptedly from 1928 on, he served the Comintern branch of the Moscow Politburo in various assignments. Note particularly his performance in 1929-30 in China, where he was sent to liquidate in blood the Trotskyist opposition in the Chinese party. Having thus regained the good graces of Stalin, he maintained his position in the GPU by an uncountable number of crimes, of which his role in the murder of Bukharin and his comrades of his German caucus is the most dastardly. I must explain, it seems, to the simon-pure Trotskyists of the United States that a man like Eisler did not survive the Moscow frame-ups by luck.

In 1933, during the negotiations concerning the American recognition of the Soviet Union, Litvinov stated that no Comintern agents would be sent to this country; and in part Eisler got his assignment to the United States because he is not a Russian, because his cover as an anti-fascist Austrian refugee has a certain plausibility. The assassination of Leon Trotsky, carried out in Mexico, was prepared in New York, and the men who worked on this assignment had been under Eisler’s surveillance.

During the Stalin-Hitler pact, Eisler was interned in a camp at Vernet, France, as a Russian agent. In 1941 he climbed over a pile of corpses of his former comrades into the United States, given a helping hand by the fellow-travelers in Federal agencies. The Communist cell organized in the camp, linked to committees in this country, blocked American visas to all inmates, even party members, who were suspected of insufficient loyalty to Stalin. Among those handed over to, or later seized by, the Gestapo and killed in Auschwitz were former intimate friends and comrades of Eisler.

As your Central Committee knows, I reached tlie United States only after a terrible fight with the Stalinist apparatus, which, free from your dogmatic prejudices, regarded and regards me as a dangerous opponent to its manipulations in the United States.

This control of the visa machine by the fellow-travelers did not reflect on me alone; Franz and Anya Pfemfert (she was the translator of Trotsky’s books into German), for example, got to the United States only with great difficulty and were not able to remain but had to go to Mexico. There were others: for example, Victor Serge, Babette Grosz (Willi Muenzenberg’s widow). On the other hand, not only Eisler but hundreds of GPU agents, literally, entered the United States safely and were allowed to remain. To name a few: Jakob Walcher, Albert H. Schreiner, Alfred Kantorowicz.

When I first learned that Eisler was in this country, I found it hard to believe, for I felt sure that the State Department must have a complete file on him. Eisler’s activities here during the war, however, were not inhibited by any legal stricture. Trotsky’s book on Stalin could not be printed, and Joseph E. Davies’ book was written on order. During these years I undertook, virtually single-handed, the fight against the GPU by publishing a monthly bulletin concerning it, The Russian State Party, and preparing a study on Stalin’s disastrous policy toward German labor and his contribution to the rise of the Nazis, a book to be published this spring. In the course of this work, I exposed Eisler’s status incessantly, but because of the Soviet-American war alliance got no hearing. This task became even more urgent with the end of the war, when Eisler, confident of his position in this country, was busy promoting a program of terrorist extermination of the German people.

We Must Fight Stalinist Terrorism

As your Central Committee knows, thousands of anti-Nazi, anti-Stalinist Germans have been either murdered or kidnapped by the GPU. Deported German workers and prisoners of war serve today to build up the resources in the far reaches of the “workers’ state.” The Socialist Unity Party is preparing the same terrorist dictatorship for Germany that the Russian people have been suffering under for two decades, and if this plan is completed in Germany and in Europe, American workers will be isolated in a hostile totalitarian world. At the moment the main task in the interest of the world working class is to fight this GPU-ization of Germany and Europe with all the means at our disposal. As Trotsky put it in 1932, Germany is again the key to the international situation. The exposure of Eisler in this country, branding him as Stalin’s paid agent before he returns to Germany, is a not unimportant aspect of this battle, in which all who fight Stalinism should join.

As your Central Committee knows, Leon Trotsky wanted to accept the invitation (later withdrawn) of the Dies Committee to appear before it. If Trotsky had been able to do as he wished in this respect, would he also have been an “informer,” as I am termed in your editorial? Trotsky, unlike certain Trotskyists, recognized that in fighting the GPU apparatus one uses whatever forum is available to shine the light on it. After the unsuccessful attempt on his life, he did all that he could to have Siqueiros and the others brought before the courts of bourgeois Mexico, before that, he had insisted that the French Trotskyists demand an investigation of Sedov’s murder by the French courts. I hear, in fact, that your Central Committee joined in a demand, based on the revelations in Budenz’s book, for a grand jury hearing.

When Eisler returns to Germany, he will carry your editorial in his pocket, to give his GPU cronies a good laugh too. Let your Central Committee rather discuss two principled issues than defend Gerhart Eisler: Is Stalin’s Comintern and its GPU avant-garde a workers’ organization, to which we owe solidarity? Shall we use the tribunes of the United States to publicize the agents and acts of the GPU, remembering always that this is almost the last country with enough political freedom left to make such an above-ground fight possible?

I have lived through two decades of fighting Stalin, and over and over through these two decades I have watched such immature stupidities as your editorial assist the victory of the GPU. One oppositionist group after another, inside Russia and out, were crushed by the manipulations of the GPU. which needs only the kind of smear you have issued against me as a backdrop to its repeated encores. Your Central Committee would indicate that it has begun to unlearn its dangerous illusion if it prints in the same Militant that smeared me, a correction. I have not given up hope that with experience it will overcome its present sophomoric behavior.

From Moscow’s point of view, any attack on Russia or its institutions or its agents can be made only to be a “tool” of American imperialism.


March 10, 1947

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