Glotzer Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Albert Gates

Gerhart Eisler: A Key Figure
in the GPU Gang

Sudden Attack by U.S. Govt. Motivated by Diplomatic
Conflict with Eisler’s Master, Stalinist Russia

(24 February 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 8, 24 February 1947, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

THE case of Gerhart Eisler has several interesting aspects. One of these is that so long as the military alliance between the United States, Great Britain and Russia seemed enduring, this known GPU agent was permitted to go about freely in his assignment of strengthening Stalinism in this country. But as soon as Anglo-American-Russian relations began to deteriorate, the administration arrested Eisler with a well-documented case of his activities. In addition to the materials furnished by the FBI, which seemed to have a rather complete dossier of Eisler’s activities, it had the services of Louis Budenz, recently reconverted to Catholicism.

We are not greatly concerned with the technical-legal aspects of the Eisler case. As Labor Action has repeatedly asserted, all governments spy upon each other. Eisler is not charged with being a government spy in the ordinary sense of the word. And even if he was, it would make no difference since spying is one of the arts of imperialist government. The Eisler case interests us because Gerhart Eisler is not a spy in the ordinary meaning of the word. Eisler is a unique type of Stalinist agent who operates behind the scenes to manipulate the workers’ movement through the Stalinist parties. And it is as an instrument of the GPU, as one who commits the greatest crimes against the working class, that Eisler interests us.

An Eisler is the highest authority in the Communist Party of whatever country he may be assigned to by his superiors in the Kremlin. This authority extends over elected and appointed officials, even though technically, a man like Eisler is not even a member of the party. He determines party strategy and tactics based on the latest instructions from Moscow. He may even preside over the appointment of party officials. A man like Gerhart Eisler fits in perfectly with the totalitarian system of Stalinism where the control of the party by its membership is made impossible by the very nature of its hierarchical system.

Our interest in the Eisler case arises from our determination to defend the workers’ movement from the reactionary and counter-revolutionary influence which he exerts as a representative of Stalin’s bureaucratic regime. It is this aspect of the case which is most important ... That the U.S. government pretends to be horrified by its “discovery” that Eisler is a Russian agent, is merely evidence of Its own hypocrisy.

Eisler was known to the FBI for a long time. It was common knowledge in the workers’ movement in New York that Eisler had been here for years and directed the affairs of the American Communist Party and the Stalinist forces in German refugee circles. Ruth Fischer, a former leader of the German Communist Party and sister of Eisler, has been writing about his activities for over two years – they were disclosures based on intimate knowledge of his past.

Never a Public Figure

Eisler’s career in the workers’ movement is indeed curious because it has never been open and, public.

He was and is an adventurer type to whom principle and ideals mean nothing. While for many years a member of the German Communist Party, he was never a public figure in that organization. As an appointed functionary, Eisler’s political career always depended upon his being in the good graces of his sponsors, or more precisely, upon adapting himself to the constantly changing policies of the Stalinist leadership of the Communist International.

At one time, for example, his Intervention in the affairs of the German CP as an oppositionist to the Thaelman leadership resulted in his exile to Moscow. In order to make his isolation from German affairs complete, it is reported that he was even forbidden to read the German press. Then began his period of adaptation.

As an apparatus man of the Comintern, Eisler was sent to China, Austria, Czechoslovakia and elsewhere. During the years 1929–33 he was not in Germany at all, except possibly in transit to some other country. He, therefore, could not have been a refugee from German Nazism in the same way as thousands of others. Everyone employed by the Comintern apparatus knew that Eisler was in the United States between 1933 and 1938.

Returns as “Refugee”

He returned to the U.S. as a “refugee” in the early forties claiming that he was not permitted to go on to Mexico but was retained in this country against his wishes. And this is indeed a curious phenomenon, since hundreds of refugees with transit visa did make their way to Mexico through the U.S., while hundreds of others were not even permitted to land in this country on the way to Mexico. But Eisler, curiously enough, was permitted to land and was forced to remain here against his wishes!

Eisler was interned in the refugee camp at Vernet, France, not because he was a refugee, but because he was a Stalinist agent. All the Stalinist refugees were interned then because they were defenders of the Hitler-Stalin pact and supported, in effect, Germany’s war against the Allies. At Vernet, Eisler set up the Comintern apparatus which determined those individuals who by their loyalty to Stalinism, were picked to go as refugees to Mexico, Cuba and the United States. Those whose loyalties were questioned, remained in France, many of them later to succumb to the brutalities of the German Gestapo.

The most curious part of Eisler’s career is the fact that he survived the many purges in Moscow. In Germany, he was at one time an “oppositionist.” He was known as a protege of Hugo Eberlein in Germany, and of Bukharin in the Comintern. Both Eberlein and Bukharin were murdered in the purges. In addition, the German Communist refugee movement in Moscow was practically wiped out in the purges of 1937–38.

Why Did He Survive?

Eisler’s survival is mysterious precisely because he was, in the context of Russian and Comintern politics, an oppositionist, a Bukharinist. In addition, he was the brother of, Ruth Fischer, who was long associated with Zinoviev and had been close to the Trotskyist movement. Ruth Fischer was linked to Zinoviev in his trial, and also to Trotsky. But strangely enough, while all of Eisler’s friends and co-workers were picked up in the net of these purges, he survived. It is this which lends credence to the belief that Eisler’s role in those years was as an informer on his former comrades.

This, then, is the man who was brought before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, as vile a congressional committee as has ever been devised by the little men in Washington. So far as the state conflict between Russia and the U.S. is concerned, we say a plague on both their houses and their imperialist intrigue. So far as Eisler is concerned we say: this man is a GPU agent, a dangerous enemy of the working class, a despicable apparatus man who manipulates the workers’ movement in behalf of the cruel totalitarian regime of Joseph Stalin.

The workers’ movement can have no responsibility for a Gerhart Eisler. Its task is to root out these elements, deprive them of all influence and control of the revolutionary socialist movement. In this respect, Ruth Fischer, whatever errors she may have made in her campaign against her Stalinist brother, was absolutely correct when she stated:

“I consider Eisler the perfect terrorist type, most dangerous for the people, and particularly the socialists of both America and Germany ... In fighting. Eisler here in the states, I hope to give some slight help to my socialist friends in Germany, who have to do the same thing but under immeasureably more dangerous circumstances.”

Top of page

Main LA Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Last updated on 26 November 2020