Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History

2. The Bolshevik Leninist (Fourth International) Movement in Poland up to 1945

The first contacts of the Polish workers’ movement with Leon Trotsky lay far in the past. A group from the Social Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania (SDKPiL) [1] met him in Siberia at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. In 1908 Przeglad Socjaldemocratyczny, the theoretical magazine of the Polish Social Democrats, published an article by Leon Trotsky with a broad discussion of the views within the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP), in which, for the first time, the theory of Permanent Revolution was formulated in regard to Russian conditions. [2] After the years of extensive political contact a strong factional struggle developed within the Russian Communist Party (CPSU) in 1923, Trotsky leading one of the factions and Stalin, supported by Zinoviev and Kamenev, leading the other. On 23 December 1923 a plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Workers Party of Poland (after 1925, the Communist Party of Poland – KPP) wrote a naive letter, saying, among other things, that “one thing is certain for us, however, that for our party, the entire International, and the whole of the revolutionary proletariat of the world the name of comrade Trotsky is identified with the success of the October Revolution, with the Red Army, and with the world Communist revolution. [We will not permit the possibility] of Trotsky finding himself outside the ranks of the leaders of the Russian Communist Party and of the International” (Nowy Przeglad, no.3/13, December 1924). [3] This statement did not reflect the views of the then leadership of the Polish Communist Party, A. Warski (Warszawski), W. Kostrzewa (Koszucka) and H. Walecki (Horwitz). [4] It was withdrawn at the following plenum on 3 March 1924. The following plenum, not wishing to cause a conflict with the leadership of the Communist International, withdrew this position and criticised Trotsky’s conduct.

The ideological and organisational involvement of the Polish Communist movement with the Left Opposition of the Russian Communist Party, to use the original terminology, came at a later date. In the autumn of 1927 two of the Polish Communist Party’s leading activists, Stein (Kamienski, Domski) and Zofia Unschlicht, who had been opponents of the Warski group in 1923, but who had been for nearly two years in the USSR on the directives of the Comintern, signed the Platform of the anti-Stalinist Opposition (i.e. of the United Opposition – it was a union of the Left Opposition with the new opposition of Zinoviev and Kamenev). [5] Both had been activists of the SDKPiL in the past, and inside the Polish Communist Party they were the leaders of the faction that was considered as ‘ultra left’. During the years 1923 to 1925 Stein was the General Secretary of the Polish Communist Party and had been removed from that position for criticising the opportunist moves of the leadership of the Comintern. In an explicit article entitled The Polish Section of the International Opposition in Pravda (Moscow) no.276, p.3, of 2 December 1927, he was attacked by the aforementioned Comintern leader Horwitz (Walecki) for signing the Platform, for his original opposition to the advance of the Red Army on Warsaw in 1920, as well as on many questions of the politics of the Comintern. It was then reproduced in Inprecorr (no.119, 2 December 1927, pp.2703-2704), the press service of the Comintern, which came out in various languages as well as in the illegal party publications in Polish and Ukrainian. However, the Bolshevik-Leninist movement in Poland did not come into existence on the initiative of these two activists.

The beginnings of this movement are connected with the first oppositional groups that began to form inside the Polish Communist Party shortly after the Sixth Plenum of the Central Committee of the KPP in June 1929, as a result of the accession of the minority faction to power in the party. [6] The victory of this minority faction was only possible thanks to the considerable pressure put on the Central Committee by the Stalinist leadership of the Comintern. The successful faction carried out without question all the directives received from Moscow, without paying the slightest attention to the real situation inside Poland. This faction also supported an adventurist political line whilst on the other hand strangling all opposition to it. The members of the emerging oppositional groups were usually supporters of the A. Warski group that had been removed from the leadership in 1929, who represented an independent current of thought that criticised the strike tactics of the new leadership, which practically every few days called for general strikes ‘up to complete victory’, and expected the imminent arrival of the workers’ revolution in Poland and Europe. Within the working class movement it propagated only the ‘United Front from Below’, i.e. of uniting workers of all tendencies whilst excluding from it all non-Communist activists, even if they were of the lowest rank. It counterposed its own ‘Red’ trade unions to the working class organisatio and described all the Socialist parties ‘Social Fascist’, and hence helping Fascism.

One of the groups emerging from the, politics was known as the ‘Memorialowcy’, members of the Polish Communist Party including top functionaries who in May 1931 had introduced a memorandum (hence the group’s name) into the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Polish Communist Party, whose ideas can be divided into three points: (1) A United Front of the Polish Communist Party with the Social Democratic PPS and Bund, (2) A joint struggle against reaction and Fascism, and (3) A united workers’ movement, and a restoration of inner-party democracy. The authors of the memorandum were expelled for their views from the Polish Communist Party in the middle of 1931. However, as a result of their activities a wider Communist Opposition arose under the name of the Members and Former Members of the Polish Communist Party and the KZMP, a newly-organised faction in solidarity with the criticism of the activity of the Polish Communist Party. This emerged in the spring of 1932. One of its leaders, Hersh Sztokfisch, a revolutionary activist for many year among the top functionaries of the Polish Communist Party, had been an eyewitness of the forced collectivisation in the USSR, which he had opposed, and then returned to Poland to involve himself with the opposition. [7] Similar views were formulated at more or less the same time by oppositional workers inside the Polish Communist Party. These two groups were described by the leadership of the Polish Communist Party as ‘Right-Trotskyism’ and ‘Kostrzewa-Trotskyism’. And the) had essentially similar views to the Bolshevik-Leninist movement led by Trotsky who had been expelled from the USSR, but there were no organisational contacts with the movement developing on the international plane. The Polish Bolshevik-Leninist centre somehow came into existence separately from these political formations.

In 1930 one small group from this movement founded a legal publishing house, Babylon, which printed Trotsky’s autobiography, My Life (Warsaw, 1930) and two years later his three-part History of the Russian Revolution in two volumes. [8] Some of his collected article and other articles from the Left Opposition were already known, and had been printed in Poland in 1929. They had been published in an anti-Communist journal under the title of The Truth about Soviet Russia (Agency Press, Warsaw, Poland, pp238). [9] This collection had not been authorised by Trotsky, and included various changes from the originals rendered in translation from the German and Russian. In 1932 the first illegal Polish paper of this group appeared, called Proletariusz. The typeset for this paper had been prepared in Belgium and then smuggled into Poland by Kazimierz Badowski [10], a Communist activist since 1925. The paper was printed from the typeset over here. It was then decided to develop a wider agitation by the aid of legal journals, mainly from pamphlets with articles by Leon Trotsky. An important part in this group was played by Szlama Ehrlich (pseudonym Sewar) [11], previously an important functionary of the Polish Communist Party, who had spent some time in France. The proceeds from the publication of the legal magazine were to be used to finance the illegal publications, as well as supporting members of the group. However, Babylon became insolvent in 1932, and in its place arose Era, which was closed down by the police in 1933, but soon New Era emerged which went on until the middle of 1934. Obviously these problems did not allow the original financial arrangements to work.

From the standpoint of later years most important was the adherence, in 1932 or at the beginning of 1933, of Isaac Deutscher to the Members and Former Members group. This took place after he had published an article in the Literarisze Tribune (Literary Tribune), a legal periodical of the Polish Communist Party in the Yiddish language, entitled The Twelfth Hour, in which he proposed that the German Communist Party should form an immediate United Front with the Social Democratic Party in order to prevent the rise of Hitler to power. [12]


The coming to power of the Nazis at the end of January 1933 and the subsequent establishment of Hitlerism in power changed the entire position of the European working class movement. Some people thought that this was the result of the wrong tactics of the Comintern, but others believed that because of the seriousness of the situation you should not criticise the leadership of the revolutionary movement at all. These kind of attitudes in the ranks of the Polish Communist opposition groups, along with the actions of the leadership, which not only systematically removed the oppositionists from the party, but slandered them and made conditions impossible for them in the working class communities that sympathised with the Polish Communist Party, led to a polarisation of attitudes within the ranks of the oppositionists. Some of the Members and Former Members group gave up all criticism and returned to the Polish Communist Party. In March the majority of the Workers Opposition of the Polish Communist Party decided to enter the Polish Socialist Party [13], as they were dubious about an improvement in the situation within the Polish Communist Party. However, the remaining members of both groups came closer to the nucleus of the Polish Bolshevik-Leninists in April 1934 and at a conference together they formed the International Communist League, an independent organisation that was a component part of the international Bolshevik-Leninist movement, which was widely active in the trade unions, taking part in mass actions and May Day demonstrations. Before they had been formally set up at the beginning of 1934 they tried to develop a legal press, printing the first issue of a weekly called Kuznia (The Fourrier) in Katowice, whose editor was a worker, Mendel Manele Landau. It was immediately confiscated by the authorities. Towards the end of the year a weekly paper was printed in Warsaw entitled Na Widnokregu (Encircling Light). This was also confiscated by the authorities. Starting from 30 November 1934 a weekly periodical appeared irregularly in Lodz with the title Co Dalej (What Next?), whose editor and printer was Stefan Golab, a satirist and an activist of the Polish Communist Party. This was also closed down.

In October 1935 the second national conference of the International Communist League, including members from Warsaw, Lodz, Cracow and other towns passed a resolution that its members should join the Polish Socialist Party or the Bund, depending upon their nationality. [14] This step was a result of the tactics of the international Bolshevik-Leninist movement of entry into mass working class movements to gain experience (mainly for the benefit of new members). Entry into these parties had to be officially undertaken with the agreement of their leadership. The meeting of the executive committee of the Polish Socialist Party on 23-24 November confirmed this entry. This was announced by the General Secretariat of the Polish Socialist Party in a circular of 29 November 1935. To this circular was added a declaration from the new entrants in which they stated that they had taken this step because the Polish Socialist Party was the largest workers’ party in Poland. They also declared that they would preserve their “particular views on tactical questions”. They agreed to abide by the party discipline of the Polish Socialist Party. The right of the entrants to form their own factions was agreed within the Bund. The actual entry took place at a party meeting in Warsaw. At similar meetings the new members in Warsaw and other towns read out political declarations similar to the one laid down in the Polish Socialist Party. One of the outstanding members now entering the Bund was ‘Artuski’ (a pseudonym). [15]

In addition to these two parties another small group was deliberately left out. Their task was to maintain contact between the sympathisers of the Bolshevik-Leninist movement, who were scattered all over the place in the Polish Socialist Party and the Bund, to print the publications of the movement, and to appear at various public meetings in order to represent it. This meant that the people who were in the open party had a certain amount of freedom independent of the other workers’ parties, particularly when it came to public criticism.


In the second half of 1936 a decision was made to renew independent organisational and political activity, not only in Poland. Most of the former members of the International-Communists returned to the newly formed Bolshevik-Leninist Party, but there were also attached to them those members who had joined the Polish Socialist Party and the Bund. Coinciding with the trials of the old Bolsheviks in Moscow (the Moscow Trials) at the end of 1936, an article by Isaac Deutscher, The Moscow Trial appeared in Swiatlo, the legal journal of the Polish Socialist Party. In an appendix they reprinted extracts from a speech made by Trotsky to a meeting of the Control Commission of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1927. [16] The speech outlined the basic differences between the Left Opposition (later the Bolshevik-Leninist movement) and Stalinism. These differences were such that they had logically and unavoidably led to the bloody dealings of the Stalinists with their own Communist oppositionists.

Fresh organisations of the Bolshevik-Leninists arose from 1936 to 1938. These groups developed in addition to those in the aforementioned towns in Lublin, Vilna, Lvov and Chestakova. In November 1936 a movement called the Marxist academics was formed among the students and high school pupils of Warsaw as a youth adjunct to the Bolshevik-Leninist movement. The same occurred in Lvov in the autumn of 1938, its leader being a philosophy student, a pupil of Professor Roman Ingardena, Michel Zawadowski, a former member of the Young Communist movement in the Ukraine (KZM ZU). In 1938 relations developed with members who had been expelled from the Polish Communist Party, the KPZU, and the Ukrainian Communist Party in Eastern Galicia. They printed a legal magazine, Zyttia i Slowo, of which only a few appeared altogether. Political conditions inside Poland at that time, in which authoritarian and Fascist tendencies had the upper hand in ruling class circles, did not allow any legal activities to be carried on, even of the slightest publishing activity. The members of the Bolshevik-Leninist group were also sharply attacked by the Stalinists, who denounced them in their own publications by revealing their names, even organising attacks upon them in working class districts and slandering them, etc. A description of the situation can be found in the personal memoirs published after the war by H. Sztokfisch (Hersh Mendel), Erinnerungen eines jüdischen Revolutionärs (Berlin 1979), which has also appeared in French. [17] Because of this, all political documents, articles and appeals could only be published illegally in clandestinity in duplicated form.


The organisation was very active in 1937 and 1938 producing a large amount of material. In March 1938 there appeared an open letter to the members of the Polish Communist Party concerning the arrests and shootings of some of the leaders of the Polish Communist Party in Russia. [18] From 1936 onwards the organisation’s publications were reaching Warsaw, Cracow, Lvov and other places, including various intellectual circles and even schools. A group of delegates represented their political line at a meeting of the Professional and Chemical Workers Union in April 1935. When the Bolshevik-Leninist internationalists declared their intention of forming a Fourth International in 1938, the Central Committee of the Polish organisation printed their proposals along with their own comments. These comments had reservations about the proposal to give birth to a new international, as they thought it would be premature. Two members of the Polish organisation took part in the conference about this which took place at Perigny, near Paris, on 3 September 1938. [19] It was decided to form a new international, the Leninist International as it was officially called, otherwise known as the Fourth International. Although the Polish organisation had previously had its reservations it went along with the formation of the Fourth International and published the Manifesto of the Conference of the Fourth International to the Workers of the World in Polish. A small group of the Polish Bolshevik-Leninists, of whom one was Isaac Deutscher, was opposed to this, and subsequently left the organisation. In this way this thinker and publicist broke his links with the organised revolutionary movement.

In January 1939 a national conference of the Bolshevik-Leninist movement had met conspiratorially in Warsaw. They had taken the decision to print the organisation’s journals illegally. But this did not take place. So long as the Polish Communist Party still existed, the police had not persecuted the opposition. But now that the Polish Communist Party had fallen apart [20] they decided to smash and liquidate the organisation. On 6 February 1939 widespread arrests of the Bolshevik-Leninists took place in Warsaw, Lublin and other places. They got rid of everything to do with the organisation that was kept in the home of Janusza Markowski. In April and May another wave of arrests took place. Altogether two hundred people were arrested. They managed to bring them to trial in Lublin before the war broke out and handed out severe sentences.

During the first years of Hitler’s occupation of Warsaw a group of Bolshevik-Leninists printed Przeglad Marksistowski (Marxist Review). In this cahier an article appeared entitled Poland and the international revolution. It clearly formulated the ideas of the movement as regards affairs in Poland. Concerning the demagogy and cynicism of the slogans about the independence of Poland we read:

We cannot talk about national Socialism in Poland. He who has subjugated his own people cannot liberate other nations. He who tramples upon social justice in his own land cannot introduce social justice anywhere else. But isn’t the hypocrisy of the ‘democracies’, the fighters against Fascism, any less then? The ‘holy disgust’ of the imperialist democracies of the west against German barbarism is relatively recent. One clear and indisputable fact about their lack of military preparation proves that they did not want, and were not prepared for, their war with Hitler, but rather that they had attempted to recreate a Germany responsive to their wishes, a Germany that would be the gendarme of counter-revolution in a revolutionary Europe, and attempted to direct its energy along anti-Soviet lines – not expecting that Hitler might do this independently of their wishes and at a time of his own choosing. We are not fighting for a change of masters - even though under the conditions of foreign occupation our ‘possessing classes’ have not renounced their right to exploit and oppress their own people – but for the overthrow of all servitude and oppression.

“For Poland to be Poland”, a true mother country for the working people, and not a bourgeois swindle and a capitalist country, “it needs a world revolution”, in the countries of imperialist democracy as well as of Fascist barbarism. These words of Mochnackiego from a hundred years ago, which are also our declaration of faith, also describe our feelings towards the Soviets. We are not waiting for any almighty visitations from the east. In this deformed, degenerated workers’ state the coming revolution will have to conduct many painful operations to heal the deep wounds of Stalin’s Thermidor. For this reason the Soviet toiling masses will have to renew their links with the Socialist brotherhood of the proletariat of the leading western countries that were broken by the counter-revolutionary policies of ‘Socialism in One Country’.

The Review also took up a position with regard to the coming Russo-German conflict. The article 1 May 1941 that appeared in issue no.7, April/May 1941 began by stating that:

The pact between Stalin and Hitler August 1939 is the ugliest atrocity that has ever been committed against the proletariat by a workers’ party. Hitler’s victories during the current war have only been possible because of this pact. Stalin is dripping with blood, and not only the blood of those murdered by him ... the Polish proletariat does not await freedom at the hands of Stalin. We do not want Stalinist ‘freedom’. We do not want to be joined to the Russia of today, the prison-house of all its nations and concentration camp for revolutionaries. We are fighting for a free Soviet Poland which will by its own volition take rightful place in the family of United European Soviet Republics.

Even so, when the hour of war sounds between Germany and Russia, the workers and peasants of Poland will stand united on the side of the Soviets. For the Soviet Union is not only Stalin and his butchers. The Russian bureaucracy has betrayed the Russian Revolution, but as long as there is no return to private ownership, the USSR remains a workers’ state, whose defence is the elementary duty of every conscious worker.

During the depressing occupation by Hitler almost all the members of the Bolshevik-Leninist organisation disappeared. The very few who survived found themselves abroad. Two of them took part in the international conference the took place immediately after the end of the Second World War to outline the orientation and activities of the Fourth International in the changed world.

Against all odds, the Polish section has to be built anew.

Ludwik Hass



1. The Social-Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania (SDKPiL) was the left party of Polish Socialism, as opposed to the Polish Socialist Party (PPS), which took a more nationalist line. It was founded in 1893, and counted among its leaders Julian Marchlewski, Leo Jogisches and Rosa Luxermburg. It united with the Left Socialist Party (the PPS-Lewica) in 1918 to form the Polish Communist Party (KPP). The other group, the PPS, at one time contained Jozef Pilsudski, the future dictator.

2. L.D. Trotsky, Results and Prospects, 1906 in The Permanent Revolution, New York 1972, pp.29-122.

3. Cf. Isaac Deutscher, The Prophet Armed, Oxford 1978, pp.140-1, and n1.

4. Adolf Warszawski, called Warski (1867-1937), Maria Koszucka, known a Wera Kostrzewa (1879-1939) and Max Horwitz, Maximilian Walecki (1877-1938) were the original leadership of the Polish Communist Party, and were known as ‘the three Ws’. Shortly after this they were dropped from the top leadership for a while on charges of ‘opportunism, right deviation and failure to exploit a revolutionary situation’ (Isaac Deutscher, The Tragedy of the Polish Communist Party, in Marxism in Our Time, p.123). They were restored to their positions a couple of years later, but were all murdered by Stalin during the purges in his general slaughter of the Polish exiles in the USSR (Robert Conquest, The Great Terror, Harmondsworth 1971, pp.584-5).

5. Henryk Stein (1883-1937), also known as L. Domski and H. Kamienski, and Zofia Unszlicht were supporters of the Left/Centre (or Leningrad) Opposition led by Zinoviev and Kamenev. As such they signed the platform of the joint opposition drawn up between this group and the Trotskyist Opposition in September 1927 (cf. L.D. Trotsky, The Challenge of the Left Opposition (1926-27), New York 1980, pp.301-94).

6. The ‘Majority’ faction of Warski and Kostrzewa sympathised with Bukharin, and so were removed as a result of the ‘Third Period’ policy imposed by Moscow. The ‘Minority’ of Julian Leszczynski (1889-1939), known as Lenski, and Henrykowski, now took over to implement the new policy. Lenski remained General Secretary throughout this phase and into the Popular Front. He was removed in 1937 and murdered by Stalin in 1939 (cf. Isaac Deutscher, op. cit., n4 above, pp.l44, 147-50).

7. Hersh Mendel, Sztokfisch (1890-1968). On his career, cf. note 17, below.

8. For further details, cf. Trotsky’s Writings in Poland During the Inter-War Years, cf. below, especially notes 3 and 4.

9. Cf. Trotsky’s Writings in Poland During the Inter-War Years, below, n1.

10. Kazimierz Badowski, an old docker, survived the camps of Hitler and Stalin and after the war in Poland gathered around him a group of young intellectuals, among whom were Jacek Kuron and Karol Modzelewski.

11. Schlomo Ehrlich (1907-1943), called Stein, along with Stella Mihlstein published the newspaper of the Polish Trotskyists, Czerwony Sztandar (Red Flag) during the war, and even had it smuggled into the Warsaw Ghetto during the famous uprising (cf. Hail Warsaw Ghetto Fighters, in Workers Vanguard, 6 May 1988), perishing heroically at that time.

12. Isaac Deutscher (1907-1967) had already turned down an offer to undertake theoretical work in Moscow in 1931. The true date of his expulsion from the Polish Communist party was June 1932, the so-called ‘Krakowski Affair’ (after the pseudonym he used at the time). Cf. Isaac Deutscher, op. cit., n.4 above, pp.13-4.

13. Cf. note 1 above. During the late 1930s the PPS was Poland’s largest workers’ party, involved in United Front actions fighting Fascism on the streets. The decision to enter the PPS was taken in accordance with the general policy of the international Trotskyist movement at that time (the so-called ‘French Turn’), which was to enter left or leftward-moving Social Democratic formations. This involved entry into the French SFIO, the British ILP, the American Socialist Party, etc. Among those who joined the Polish Socialist Party at this time was Isaac Deutscher. The propaganda of the group that worked inside it can be assessed by a study of D. Drobner, W. Kielecki and H. Swoboda, Projet du programme du Parti Socialiste Polonais, in the Cahiers Leon Trotsky, no.16, December 1983, pp.120-5.

14. The Jewish workers’ organisation, the Bund, moved into association with the PPS during the mid-thirties, running joint slates in local elections, etc. Cf. Clive Gilbert and Maier Bogdanski, A Revolution in Jewish Life: The History of the Jewish Workers’ Bund, London 1987, pp.24-5, 29.

15. ‘Artuski’ was the pseudonym of I. Eichenbaum, a former member of the Warsaw Committee of the Polish Communist Party. Cf. Hersh Mendel, note 17 below, p.276.

16. Cf. Trotsky’s Writings in Poland During the Inter-War Years below, and note 9.

17. Hersh Mendel, Memoirs of a Jewish Revolutionary, London 1989. Cf. Ellis Hillman’s review below.

18. This was co-authored by Ludwik Hass himself. Cf. above.

19. The two Polish delegates at the founding conference of the Fourth International were Hersh Mendel and Stefan Lamed, a young chemistry student, who had been expelled from university for his activity on behalf of the opposition. Cf Isaac Deutscher, The Prophet Outcast, Oxford 1970, p.421, n1; Hersh Mendel, op. cit., n17 above, pp.310-11 (misplaced in 1935). The actual arguments of the delegates appear in the English minutes in Documents of the Fourth International: The Formative Years (1933-40), New York 1973, pp.296-8, and in the French in Cahiers Leon Trotsky, no.1, January 1979, pp.45-50. Lamed now lives in Canada.

20. Apart from the repression that had already rained down upon the leaders of the Polish Communist Party in exile in Moscow in 1937-39, Stalin finally charged the entire party with being completely infiltrated by the agents of the Pilsudskyite regime, and closed it down (cf Deutscher, op. cit., n.4 above, pp.154ff.). Opinions still differ as to exactly when this was. Its last public statement was issued on 8 June 1938 (Conquest, op. cit., n.4 above, p.584).


Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History

3. Trotsky’s Writings in Poland during the Inter-War Years

The first encounter of the leaders of the Polish Opposition with Trotsky did not take place until 1929. There appeared at that time in Warsaw an unauthorised translation of his The Real Situation in Russia [1], entitled The Truth About Soviet Russia. According to the publisher’s intentions (as demonstrated by the book’s Foreword) the work was intended to lend assistance to anti-Communist propaganda.

The founder of the Red Army had for a long time already been well known among the leading circles of Polish Communism. As early as the years 1908-09 the theoretical organ of the Russo-Polish Social Democracy Przeglad Socjaldemokratyczny had published as its eighth article (among others) the famous Results and Prospects (in no.5, 1908). [2]

In 1930 My Life appeared in Warsaw [3] and in the years 1932-34 The History of the Russian Revolution. [4] On this occasion they were authorised translations done by people from left wing circles. And the first organisation of the Trotskyist Opposition in Poland published three of Trotsky’s pamphlets devoted to the German situation in 1932 via their publishing house Era, afterwards called Nowa Era. In the following year his Copenhagen Speech [5] also appeared, as well as an article by Trotsky and one by Stalin under the title of The Soviet Economy at the Beginning of the Second Five-Year Plan.

Because of the changing situation inside the left, Polish Trotskyism was to have no such opportunities for publishing later on. Only in the unofficial, short-lived magazine Co dalej? produced in Lodz by the Polish International Communists appear in the first half of the year 1935 two articles by Trotsky,[6] The Stalinist Bureaucracy and the Kirov Assassination [7] and Where is the Stalin Bureaucracy Leading the USSR? [8] A long extract from Trotsky’s speech at the meeting of the Praesidium of the Central Control Commission of the Communist Party of the USSR in 1927 [9] was published in the first half of September 1936 by Isaac Deutscher in the introduction to his pamphlet on The Moscow Trial. The Polish Bolshevik-Leninists (the new name for the Trotskyist organisation) also published a few short articles by Trotsky during the latter part of the 1930s. These were illegal duplicated typewritten scripts, which were all they could manage. Among others there appeared in July 1938 the Draft of the Action Programme of the Fourth International (i.e. the draft of the Transitional Programme). [10]

From 1937 onwards Polish anti-Communist circles tried to use the ever increasing worldwide interest in Trotsky in their own interests. In this context a Polish translation of Stalin’s Crimes appeared in Warsaw at the end of December. The foreword to this book by Trotsky was written by one the country’s leading anti-Communists.

Thus it was that there was very little public access to the Number Two Leader the October Revolution in Poland in the inter-war years. For over four decades after the War it was even worse. His critical assessment of Soviet society thus remained almost entirely unknown.

Ludwik Hass



1. This was the title under which Max Eastman had first published the Platform of the Left Opposition in 1928 in the USA. Cf. L.D. Trotsky, The Platform of the Opposition, September 1927, in The Challenge of the Left Opposition (1926-27), New York 1980, pp.301-94.

2. Hass gives the title as Our Differences of Opinion. Cf. L.D. Trotsky, Results and Prospects, 1906, in The Permanent Revolution, New York 1972, pp.29-122.

3. L.D. Trotsky, My Life (1929), New York 1960.

4. L.D. Trotsky, The History of the Russian Revolution, Gollancz, London 1932-33.

5. L.D. Trotsky, In Defence of the Russian Revolution, 27 November 1932, Leon Trotsky Speaks, New York 1972, pp.244-69.

6. It is uncertain to which of Trotsky’s articles on the Soviet Union this reference belongs. A possible candidate is L.D. Trotsky’s Alarm Signal!, 3 March 1933, Writings of Leon Trotsky 1932-33, New York 1972, pp.95-115. The Stalin article may be the first part of The Results of the First Five-Year Plan, 7 January 1933, J.V. Stalin, Works, Volume 13, London 1975, pp.163ff.

7. L.D. Trotsky, The Stalinist Bureaucracy and the Kirov Assassination, 28 December 1934, Writings of Leon Trotsky 1934-35, New York 1971, pp.112-131.

8. L.D. Trotsky, Where is the Stalin Bureaucracy Leading the USSR?, 30 January 1934, op. cit., n.7 above, pp.157-65. L.D. Trotsky, Speech to the Presidium of the ECCI, 27 September 1927, in op. cit., n1 above, pp.405-14.

9. Trotsky completed the first draft of the Transitional Programme in April 1938, and hoped to have it discussed and amended by different national sections before it was actually placed before the founding conference of the Fourth International in September. In the event little discussion or amendment actually took place, either before or during the conference. Cf. L.D. Trotsky, The Transitional Program for Socialist Revolution, New York 1977, pp.110, 173.

10. The French edition of a number of Trotsky’s writings on the terror, Les Crimes de Staline, was published in 1937, and this is presumably a straight translation of that book. The collection never came out in single book form in English, but the separate items appear in the appropriate places in the Pathfinder corpus.

Updated by ETOL: 6.8.2003