Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History


How the Bolshevik-Leninist Group of Romania was Founded

The following article appeared over the pseudonym of ‘Barta’ in the French language internal bulletin of the International Communist League, the name of the Trotskyist movement at that time (number 5, which bears the date November 1935, although in fact it was not issued by the International Secretariat until January 1936). It bears the caption “Only for members of the International Communist League”.

The author of the article was David Korner (pseudonyms Barta, Albert, A Mathieu). Born in Romania on 19 October 1914, he was a member of the Romanian Communist Party in 1932-33. He joined the French Trotskyist organisation whilst a student in Paris in 1934. He returned to Romania in 1934, where he was one of the founders of the Romanian Bolshevik-Leninist Group in April 1935. He was again in Paris after 1936, where he was a member of the Parts Ouvrier Internationalists. He entered the Pivert-led Parti Socialists Ouvrier et Paysan in February 1939 as a member of the POI minority around jean Rous and Yvan Craipeau.

He broke from the French Section of the Fourth International after the outbreak of the Second World War, and launched a duplicated bulletin L'Ouvrier (October 1939 January 1940). In November 1940 he wrote a pamphlet, La lutte contre la deuxieme guerre imperialiste mondiale, in which he criticised the ‘nationalist deviations’ of the French Section, which he considered as ‘petty bourgeois’.

After that, under conditions of clandestinity, he set up a small Trotskyist group, which took the names of the Groupe Communiste (Quatrième Internationale) from November 1942 to September 1944, Union Communiste (Quatrième Internationale) from October 1944 to March 1946, and Union Communiste (trotskyste) from May 1946 to March 1950. They published both La Lutte de classes (1942-57) and La Voix des travailleurs (1945-46), which later became La Voix des travailleurs de chez Renault. The Barta-led group played a prominent role in the Renault strike of April-May 1947 (see Revolutionary History, Volume 2, no.1 , Spring 1989), and in May-June 1947, urged by Renault workers, they set up a union, the Syndicat Democratique Renault, thus virtually dissolving their organisation into the latter. The disappearance of the SDR towards the end of 1949 provoked a crisis in the Union Communiste. Barta tried to revive the organisation in 1950 and again in 1956, but with no success. He then retired from active politics, and died on 6 September 1976.

This article on the origins of the Romanian Bolshevik-Leninist Group is from the archives of the Centro Studi Pietro Tresso in Foligno, Italy. It is interesting for the evidence it provides for Barta’s early views about the training of Communist militants and of internationalist opposition to social-patriotism, which were to become the distinguishing marks of the organisation he founded in France, from which the modern Lutte Ouvrière group traces its origins.

Stalin’s declarations [1] provoked great disquiet, even among the most backward Stalinists. In spite of the statements of more or less highly placed functionaries, according to which Stalin had been talking ‘diplomatically’, and that the Communist Parties of France and Czechoslovakia would continue a policy of defeatism as regards their own bourgeoisie, in no way did they succeed in reassuring those elements that had begun to have doubts about the Third International.

Unfortunately the Bolshevik-Leninist group that had been formed in April 1935, whose links to begin with had been confined solely to the Romanian Communist Party, for a number of reasons was for a long time cut off from outside and without any information. That is why we were not able to counterpose any precise fact proving the social-patriotic position of these parties to the lies poured out by the Stalinists, according to which those who had assumed a social patriotic position, like Vaillant Couturier, for example [2] had been expelled from the Communist Parties of France and Czechoslovakia. We also lacked Comrade LT’s [Leon Trotsky’s] An Open Letter to the Workers of France. [3]

In these circumstances in June 1935 we published the pamphlet War and the Fourth International with a short preface. [4] And since we were accused by the Stalinists of aiming at a civil war in the Soviet Union we printed The Fourth International and the Soviet Union by LT [Trotsky]. [5]

Being a very young small group, with many difficulties to contend with [in illegality] we felt all the weight of the Stalinist apparatus, which created an intolerable and isolating atmosphere around us by all means: lies, threats, and insults (‘Hitler’s agents’, ‘provocateurs’ ... ‘syphilitics’!). [6]

Moreover, for a country so backward from the political point of view, with militants who had never thought for themselves, the two pamphlets were too dry, and despite their fairly extensive diffusion, they were only read and understood by a very few militants, but they did help to make our group and its position known.

The policy of the Romanian Communist Party at the present time is aiming for the creation of a great ‘Popular Front’ to defend ... democratic liberties! (An unheard-of terror reigns in Romania!) In order to counter the concept of the Popular Front, as well as other theoretical and tactical questions, in October 1935 we wrote and published the pamphlet Popular Front or Workers’ United Front? as well as the Theses on the Workers' United Front (Fourth Congress of the Communist International). [7]

The distribution of these pamphlets was much better than that of the two former, thanks to the fact that the ‘Unitary’ Party of Romania [8] (which stands to the left of the SAP) pretends to defend the same ‘principled’ positions as ourselves, but clings to bourgeois legality at all costs and does nothing to spread its ‘principles’ (their journal has been banned by the government). We were able to distribute our pamphlets amongst its militants, to which we owe some recruitment.

Then we published Comrade Trotsky’s An Open Letter to the Workers of France, as well as reproducing the article Who Defends Russia? Who Helps Hitler? [9], the distribution of which was very good (in this country, where the working class movement is illegal, every publication passes from one hand to another).

In the meantime our group became numerically larger and was clarified. We were organised in cells that carried on the regular work of education and activity.

The most urgent task is to form ideologically well trained cadres and a firm nucleus. In particular we must study the history of the Romanian workers’ movement in the light of Marxism, a task that has never been undertaken in Romania, and elaborate an analysis and perspective for Romania, closely linked to the international situation.

It is necessary for us to be clearly demarcated from all other tendencies, above all the ‘Unitaries’, who create much confusion, especially by their centrist position (‘total unity’) in relation to the new International.

The objective conditions within which our group must struggle are very hard: to the police persecutions should be added those of the Social Democrats and the Stalinists, who employ the same methods as the former. But we will surmount all obstacles, because the positions we are defending are the only way for the emancipation of the working class: the world revolution.

Forward for the Fourth International!




1. This refers to the statement issued to the press after the signing of the Franco-Soviet Pact of May 1935: “In this respect Monsieur Stalin understands and fully approves the policy of national defence followed by France, in order to maintain her armed forces at the level required by her security”. Both powers also agreed to support Czechoslovakia if attacked. See Max Beloff, The Foreign Policy of Soviet Russia, Volume 1, London 1947, p.156.

2. Paul Vaillant-Couturier (1892-1937) was a founder of the French Communist Party and editor of its newspaper L’Humanité. He was the main protagonist for the Popular Front in France.

3. L.D. Trotsky, An Open Letter to the Workers of France, 10 June 1935, Writings of Leon Trotsky 1934-35, New York 1971, pp.305-14.

4. L.D. Trotsky, War and the Fourth International, 10 June 1934, Writings of Leon Trotsky 1933-34, New York, 1975, pp.299-329.

5. L.D. Trotsky, The Fourth International and the Soviet Union, 8 July 1936, Writings of Leon Trotsky 1935-36, New York, 1977, pp.354-60.

6. A certain ‘BS’ of Bucharest had the following to say in the official organ of the Communist International, International Press Correspondence, Volume 17, no.35, 23 October 1937:

... the Siguranza [special branch of the police] permits the Ghelertar party (which still includes among its membership many honest workers) to publish a paper again which continually repeats all the slanders against the Soviet Union, the Comintern and the Communist Party, which the Trotskyists reiterate day by day in every country. The Siguranza has already succeeded in rallying Trotskyist elements (camouflaged as Communists) around this newspaper Lumea Rumaneasca, a 16 page daily, and through this medium is able to carry on a campaign against the leaders of the General Confederation of Labour, on the ostensible grounds that the leadership is hindering united action and the unity of the trade union movement. Therefore, such unity could only be established in the struggle against this leadership – a policy which in practice would really mean the postponement of trade union unity for several years ...

Not content with the publication of Lumea Rumaneasca, that ‘truly Communistic’ newspaper, the Siguranza, at the end of July, commissioned its agent, Barbu Erftimiu, to publish a weekly paper, Saptamana Sociale, around which it attempts to gather all the individuals expelled from the Communist Party and the working clan movement for their treacherous, wrecking, Trotskyist activities. In this paper the police conduct a sort of press campaign against the leaders of the General Conference of Workers, allegedly with the object of facilitating the establishment of trade union unity, but in reality with the object of hindering at all cost the creation of such unity, and to sow confusion in the ranks of the working class ...

Further, the Tatarescu government and the reactionary forces standing behind it are very skilfully sending well-camouflaged Trotskyist elements into the ranks of the Social Democratic Party, the trade union: affiliated to the General Conference of Workers, and other working class organisations. These Trotskyist cells are very dangerous, because they are well covered by the membership card of the party or of some other democratic working class organisation. Even more dangerous are the Trotskyist elements which have succeeded in penetrating into the editorial office of Lumea Noua, the newspaper of the Social Democratic Party, and of the General Conference of Workers, and who heap the vilest abuse on the Soviet Union ...

It is therefore all the more dangerous and regrettable that the trade union secretary of the Social Democratic Party instead of pointing out the tremendous growth of the danger of war and Fascism and hence the necessity of anti-Fascist unity, has in a leading article published by Lumea Noua, under the heading A Few Words to the Communists, again pronounced himself against the unity of the trade union movement, and attacked not the Trotskyists of Lumea Rumaneasa (who in his opinion are the true Communists), but the CP, thus facilitating the activities of the Trotskyists and of international Fascism, of whom they are the agents.

7. L.D. Trotsky, On the United Front, February 1922, The First Five Years of the Communist International, Volume 2, London, 1974, pp.9lff.

8. The Unitary Party to which Barta refers was the Romanian Partidul Socialist Unitar (PSU), the result of a fusion between the left wing of the Romanian Social Democratic Party and the Independent Socialist Party. The latter was a member of the Two-and-a-Half International which had refused to join the Second Internnational in May 1923, and was one of the founders of the International Information Bureau of Revolutionary Socialist Parties set up in December 1924, later known as the Paris Bureau (cf. Academia Stefa Gheorghiu, Dictionar politic, Editura Politica Bucharest, 1975). The fusion had taken place a short time before the conference of left parties in Paris in August 1933, which was attended by a PSU delegation.

9. L.D. Trotsky, Who Defends Russia? Who Helps Hitler?, 29 July 1935, Writings of Leon Trotsky 1935-36, op. cit., pp.58-64.

Updated by ETOL: 11.7.2003