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Paul G. Stevens

In the World of Labor

(16 March 1940)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. IV No. 11, 16 March 1940, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Victor Alter Executed by Stalinists in Eastern Poland

According to the New York Jewish Daily Forward of March 6, Victor Alter, a leader of the “Bund” (Jewish Socialist Federation), has been executed by the Stalinists at Kovel, Soviet Poland, after a flight from Nazi-occupied territory.

What lends this report particular weight are repeated dispatches in the press for several months giving eye-witness accounts, by socialist refugees who managed to escape abroad, of round-ups of radicals in Soviet-occupied Poland. The Appeal recently carried such an account in a letter from Polish Fourth Internationalists who escaped. In the New York Times of February 7, we read in a wire from Paris:

“After a short initial period of tolerance, Soviet authorities ordered a clean-up of Socialist Labor Federation leaders in the occupied area and members of the Jewish Socialist Party ‘Bund’ were treated even worse, he (a leader who escaped from Eastern Galicia) said.

“Hundreds of the rank and file were deported to Russia, the leaders having been arrested immediately when the Russians occupied East Polish provinces, it was said. Bund members were compelled to repudiate the organization or be deported or imprisoned.

“The Bund in Poland was known for its Leftist tendencies. The Bolsheviks (read: Stalinists) accuse its members of Trotskyist sympathies, regarded as the worst crime in Stalinist Russia.”

Here we have perhaps the clearest explanation of the ferocity with which the persecution of labor radicals in Soviet Poland is being carried on. In spite of all the previous blood-purges, in spite of repeated “liquidation,” the hydra-headed threat of “Trotskyism” – so often declared exterminated – continues to plague the Stalinist bureaucracy like a nightmare. Even such outspoken opponents of the Fourth International as Victor Alter and Heinrich Ehrlich become victims of the Kremlin for no other reason than that at one time or another they tolerated the expression of Trotskyist views within the Bund.

But all the heinous crimes of the Kremlin oligarchy will not protect it from its impending doom. The defense of the Soviet Union from imperialist attack, which is now on the order of the day, requires revolutionary initiative on the part of the masses of workers for its success. In fighting to preserve the conquests of October against the imperialist foe, the workers and peasants of the USSR will learn not only the necessity but the possibility of blowing to smithereens the shackles of bureaucracy. When that hour comes, the labor victims of Stalin’s bloody terror will be adequately avenged.

Purgers Purged in Mexican “Communist Party”

Several weeks ago, this column commented on the coming extraordinary convention of the Mexican Communist Party and its Theses. We said then that it was evident that a number of scapegoats in the leadership were to be sacrificed for the “People’s Front” line which that party was in the process of abandoning. Our estimate, we now find, was much too modest. Not only have the few scapegoats mentioned then – Vicenta Guerra, Arturo Ramirez, and Manuel Lobato – been disposed of. The priests who were to make the sacrifice have themselves been added to the list of goats.

Thus the New York Times of February 27 reports from Mexico City:

“Purgers were purged in the Mexican Communist party today when Hernan Laborde and Valentin Campa, respectively president and secretary of that party, were expelled by a committee that they themselves had appointed some weeks ago to purge their organization of all members whose allegiance to Moscow was considered in any way doubtful.”

Just as Guerra, Ramirez and Lobato were previously liquidated for “harboring Trotskyists and free masons” so now Laborde and Campa are being liquidated for harboring the harborers. Apparently not even the most flexible spine can save a Stalinist functionary from destruction once Moscow is bent on wholesale purges. Herman Laborde was the completely hand-picked satrap for Mexico for the past ten years. He occupied his position thanks to the same readiness to respond to a wink from the Kremlin which Earl Browder has shown in this country. How long before Browder will meet a similar fate? One thing is sure: that depends as little upon what Browder does or thinks as it did in the case of Laborde.

A Concentration of G.P.U. Agents Directs Operations

According to reliable information that has arrived here the purge of the Mexican Stalinists is being conducted by an international concentration of G.P.U. agents. Among them are the following notorious characters:

This imposing line-up of G.P.U. agents is indicative not only of the serious trouble that the Stalinists are faced with in connection with the purge, but of plans for shady work that extend far beyond the confines of inner-party politics in Mexico. Their activities will bear watching on the part of working class militants all over the Western Hemisphere.

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