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John G. Wright

Soviet Union Notes

Council of People’s Commissars Feels Blows – Denny Discovers Destruction of Party Apparatus in Soviet Union

(30 April 1938)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. II No. , 30 April 1938, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Purge in the Council of People’s Commissars

On March 28 the Council of People’s Commissars elected only a few weeks before (in January) convened in its regular session with Molotov in the chair. The following Commissars received “warnings”: M. Brugkin, Commissar for Mechanical Construction; M. Shestakov, Commissar for Light Industry; A. Gilinsky, Commissar for Food Industry; A. Zverev, Commissar for Finance, M. Boldyrev, Commissar for Public Health. Among those who appeared before the Council to report was Otto Schmidt head of the Northern Sea Route Administration who was also severely “criticized.” The “warning” to. Schmidt, incidentally, has been repeated since then in the press, and his removal is only a matter of time.

Immediately after the session, terse reports appeared in the press revealing the consummation of the purge in two departments, those of Land Transport and of Water Transport.

The Commissar for Water Transport, N.I. Pakhfimov, has been removed from his post, and replaced by N. Yezhov who how holds two posts (Commissar for Internal Affairs and Commissar for Water Transport). The appointment of Yezhov obviously implies such an intensification of the purge in the Water Transport Commissariat as will leave not a trace of the former administration.

Parkhomov, the purged Commissar, who has undoubtedly been arrested, was one of the seven of Stalin’s “old line Bolsheviks” who had escaped the preceding purge. Of the original pillars of the Stalin administration only six now remain in the Council: V.M. Molotov, K. Voroshilov, Vlas Chubar, M. Litvinov, L. Kaganovich and A. Mikoyan.

The downfall of Bakulin, Commissar for Land Transport, has been expected for some time because of the critical condition of Soviet railways, for which, of course, he is made the scapegoat.

Bakulin’s successor is L. Kaganovich who now holds that post in addition to being the Commissar for Heavy Industry. The policy of combining the departments will apparently be pursued in the future.

* * *

Raskolnikov, the Soviet Ambassador to Sofia has been “recalled.”

Dispatches from Moscow for April 10 announce a purge in the Commissariat of Agriculture in the autonomous Tartar republic. Seven functionaries have been shot for “sabotage and adherence to the counter-revolutionary organization of Trotskyites and Rights.”

* * *

The Destruction of the C.P.S.U.

In a dispatch to the New York Times (April 23, 1938), Denny comments on the elimination of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union as a political power in Stalin’s Russia, in pursuance of Stalin’s plan to intrench himself as a “legal” dictator.

The Soviet press, in the campaign that is being waged around the current “party elections,” reveals that in 1937 more thaqn 40 per cent of the party functionaries in the key Moscow and Leningrad organizations had been replaced by “new cadres,” i.e,, by people who had never held party positions before. It goes without saying that the same process was extended to party units all over the country. If 40 percent of the Stalinist leading cadres were removed in 1937, what will happen when the “elections” are over in 1938?

The very fact that the G.P.U. permitted Denny publicly to announce the demise of the C.P.S.U. as a political factor in Russia is ample enough proof that it is Stalin’s intention to complete the job of “renewing the leadership,” i.e., completely to destroy even the fiction of the party in 1938.

The resolutions passed by party units, higher party bodies etc. all call for the intensification of the campaign to root out the remaining “vestiges of the counter-revolutionary Fascist spies and wreckers in the party.”

* * *

Sidelights on Party “Elections”

A zealous functionary in Bashkiria overfulfills his directives: “Seyfullin, secretary of the Yanaulsk regional committee of the party, came out at the conference with an anti-party declaration, calling all of the members of the plenum of his regional committee ‘enemies of the people.’ Unfortunately, such a speech at the conference met with no rebuff whatever. Comrade Zalikin, secretary of the Bashkir provincial committee, who directed the conference, advised Seyfullin to remove all members of the plenum of the regional committee from leadership, and to draw in other communists to replace them ...” (Pravda, April 11)

* * *

In the Ural machine plant the party election was opened with dances. “The meeting was called for 7 P.M., but at 8 o’clock only 17 candidates and 9 party members were present. Anybody not too lazy was able to gain entry to the hall. There was no check of party documents. The place was cold and uncomfortable. Everybody sat in their coats and hats ... The report of the secretary of the party committee comrade Vetrov, was apolitical and full of gross mistakes. Vetrov literally devoted only half a minute to the decisions of the January plenum of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. and their fulfillment ...” (Pravda, April 13)

* * *

The editors of the Daily Worker charge Denny with an attempt to refurbish “the old canard about Joseph Stalin setting himself up as a ‘dictator’.” And to disprove Denny they proudly refer to the party elections! Says the Daily Worker: “And when does Mr. Denny attempt this bit of slander? Just when the Communist Party carries out the most democratic elections for its officers of every category up to the very highest.” (April 25)

Last updated: 30 July 2015