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Labor Action, 11 April 1949


Martin Lain

Kravchenko Trial

The Case of Heinz Neumann,
Ex-CP Fuehrer in Germany

(5 March 1949)


From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 15, 11 April 1949, p. 3.
Translated by R.S.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


[The following article adds more details with regard to the disclosures that have been made at the Paris trial, initiated by Victor Kravchenko against the Stalinist Lettres Françaises on grounds of slander. It is translated from the March 5 issue of La Batalla, the newspaper of the Spanish Marxist group POUM (Workers Party of Marxist Unity) and was written by Martin Lain. One of Kravchenko’s leading witnesses against the Stalinists was Gertrude Neumann, the wife of a former top leader of the German Stalinists, Heinz Neumann. The piece by Comrade Lain concerns itself with the case of this latter figure. – Ed.]


Without the slightest doubt, the most impressive of all the testimony that has been given in the Kravchenko-Lettres Françaises trial in Paris has been that of Gertrude Neumann.

The Stalinists have attempted, obscenely and cynically, to cover up their deeds with an improvised cascade of lies and slanders. Vain task!

Suddenly L’Humanité discovered that Gertrude Neumann is a “Gestapo agent,” that her husband, Heinz Neumann, put himself at the disposal of “fascist, and Trotskyist elements,” and acted as a “type of German Doriot.” [Doriot was a French Stalinist who turned fascist – Ed.)

And even more. We quote: “In Spain Neumann formed part of the Brandler movement. Brandler, also a Trotskyist, attempted to provoke an insurrection in the rear guard of the Spanish Republican army.” [Brandler, never a Trotskyist, was a rightwing oppositionist in the Stalinist movement – Ed.]

This must have shocked the old Communist militants. For many years the world Stalinist press made Neumann a “beloved and idolized leader.” After the former German Communist deputy fell into definite disgrace, the most rigorous silence surrounded his name. Neumann, in the custody of the NKVD, fell into oblivion as did so many others. The Stalinist press did not bother to attack him. Why? The spectacular appearance of his wife has forced Stalin’s police to invent the fable of the “German Doriot” ... a Doriot little known until today and whose appearance evidently was long delayed.

Who Was Heinz Neumann?

But let us leave the miserable tales of the NKVD and turn to the facts, which are important to establish fully and clearly: the true personality of Heinz Neumann.

In the years preceding the triumph of Hitlerism, Heinz Neumann was one of the most popular figures in the German Communist Party. He was a member of the Central Committee and of the Political Committee. He was a member of the Communist minority in the Reichstag. He frequently intervened, in the name of the German party, in the drawing up of the resolutions of the Executive Committee of the Communist International.

In the CC and the Political Committee of the German Communist Party, Neumann’s opinions often carried more weight than those of Thaelmann and Pieck. Neumann was feared not solely because of his authoritarian and intransigent character but also – and mainly – because it was known that he was an intimate of Stalin, that he was a leader who had the confidence of the “genial chief.” Neumann wanted the German CP to carry out a policy of open struggle against the Nazis. Moscow’s intentions were otherwise. He was called to Moscow, where he had the honor of’ being severely admonished by Stalin himself.

In her recent testimony, Gertrude Neumann has related some of the high points of her husband’s conversation with the “genial chief.” The truth of her statements cannot be doubted. With his policy in Germany, Stalin helped Hitler take power. Later came the Russo-German Pact of 1939.

Neumann in Spain

At the end of 1932, Heinz Neumann was sent to Spain. The internal situation of the CP in our country was very delicate at this time. In the Kravchenko trial, Gertrude Neumann has stated that her husband had the job of editing Mundo Obrero. In effect, this is correct.

At this point, it might be well worth remembering that the Kremlin never believed in the capacities of its “beloved chiefs” in Spain. Some day it will be known in all extravagance of detail that the band of illiterates and fools who constituted the Central Committee and the Political Committee of the Spanish CP were no more than simple puppets manipulated from behind the scenes in Moscow.

Neumann was an adversary of ours in Spain, and one who took active part in the hated Stalinist campaigns against our movement. It would be useless to repeat, then, that Neumann had not the slightest connection with the Workers and Peasants’ Bloc, nor with the Communist Left (Trotskyist organization of that period), nor with Brandler’s party.

Brandler, one of the founders and principal leaders of the German CP, broke with Moscow in 1929 and formed an independent Communist organization, the KPO [Communist Party Opposition]. Brandler was never in Spain. Some members of his party fought in our military units against Franco, and shared with us the Stalinist prisons of the Negrin government.

Up to now the official Stalinist thesis has been that the expeditions of May had been organized by the POUM and the FAI [Anarchists]. Now L’Humanité, trying to profit by the Kravchenko trial, takes leave of all the laws of history and discovers after a delay of twelve years that the expeditions of May can be ascribed to ... Brandler and Neumann.

It is no secret that the heroic expeditions of May 1937 had their origin in a Stalinist provocation. That Neumann would have taken part in the provocation cannot be conceded, for the simple reason that he was in Russia at the time, already a victim of the terrible purges begun in 1936 with the Moscow trials.

On the other hand, to mention Neumann in connection with Brandler, as does L’Humanité, is truly an absurdity. No one in the German labor movement is ignorant of the fact that, in the leadership of the German CP, Neumann was one of the most violent of the anti-Brandler and anti-Trotskyist elements.

Stalin and Hitler

Gertrude Neumann has told that she was turned over to the Gestapo by the NKVD via Brest-Litovsk, during the time when Stalin maintained excellent relations with Hitler.

Her case was not unique. However, since the Stalinists carry their audacity to the point of saying that Gertrude Neumann and the rest of the German Communists delivered to the Gestapo returned to Germany voluntarily, it might be well to say something in that respect.

The Spanish political refugees who were in the camp of Vernet d’Ariège in 1940–41 know – and it can now be revealed – that many German Communists returned to Germany against their will and by order of the German Stalinist party.

In the comradely days of the Russo- German Pact, when Stalin and Ribbentrop drank to Hitler’s victories, the leadership of the German CP told its militants that there was no point in emigration, and that it was their duty to return to Germany.

A short time after this unusual directive, several of Hitler’s commissions visited the camp of Vernet to propagandize for the return. Not a few German Communists agreed. The reticent ones underwent a veritable siege. One Communist militant who carried his curiosity far enough to ask one of the members of the commissions about Thaelmann’s fate, was given this reply: “Your comrade Thaelmann is in prison, but he is well and lacks nothing.”

The militants who had the imprudence to comply faithfully with the orders of their leaders ended up in Nazi concentration: camps. We can presume that all did not succumb to the tortures of the SS. There must be some survivors in Germany who will some day appear as did Gertrude Neumann, and accuse Stalinism of some crimes which cannot be forgotten.

We have given our opinion of the Kravchenko trial. There is little to add. It remains for us to say that the real trial of Stalinism and all its crimes is yet to take place. Stalinism shall be brought to trial.

Stalin’s tyranny will not be eternal. One day the victorious working class will open all the secret archives. One day the conditions under which were assassinated the comrades in arms of Lenin and Trotsky, the glorious leaders of the October Revolution, will be known. One day the Russian concentration camps will be opened and the survivors of all the “purges” and of all the crimes will fully reveal the magnitude of the immense Stalinist fraud.

Meanwhile it is the duty of the revolutionaries to denounce unceasingly all the crimes of Stalin’s “court” and to struggle to lead the laboring masses away from the tragic influence of Stalinism. Silence and inaction only serve to help Stalinism and the reactionary forces of capitalism.

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