Minutes of the Second Congress of the Communist International

First Session

Rosmer: On behalf of the French workers and peasants I give thanks for the reception, which has deeply moved all the French delegates. It was a happy thought to welcome all the delegates in Smolny in order to show here what torments and suffering the Russian proletariat had to put up with to achieve the victory we are celebrating today. Comrade Kalinin’s words when he said that it is time for the international proletariat to prove its solidarity with the Russian people have printed themselves deeply in the memory of all present. The French workers are conscious that they have not yet come actively enough to the assistance of the Russian people, partly because they did not know about their conditions, partly because they were misled by malicious propaganda, partly because they were not strong enough to translate their will into reality. Now the French delegates will have the opportunity, on their return to France, to inform the French workers and peasants about what is happening in Russia. They promise to strive with ten times more energy so that French workers and peasants will grasp that here people are fighting and dying for the common cause of the world. They promise to be more energetic in order to move the French workers to enter the ranks of proletarian action. They think it is their duty to salute particularly heartily the proletariat of red Petrograd which scattered the enemy with unusual heroism, self-sacrifice and persistence and has earned the special respect of the world proletariat.

He then proposes the text of the greeting directed to the Petrograd proletariat, which runs as follows:

To the Workers of Petrograd

Brothers, the Second World Congress of the Communist International, which is opening its sessions in red Petrograd, sends its first greetings to you Petrograd workers, women workers, Red Army men, sailors and all toilers. We delegates of the workers’ organisations of the whole world thought it was our duty to open the first session of the Congress at your home in Petrograd in order to pay the debt of respect and love to the proletariat of red Petrograd who were the first to rise against the bourgeoisie and, heroically harnessing their powers and their will, overthrew the power of capital in one of the most important fortresses of the bourgeois world.

The proletarians of all lands know how much you proletarians of Petrograd have suffered in the course of the last three years, how you have gone hungry, many of the best of your sons have died at the front in defence of the sublime cause of communism. The workers of the whole world love you particularly warmly because in the moment of the greatest danger for Petrograd and the whole Soviet Republic you never hesitated, but defended the blood-stained red flag with the lion-like courage, the fearless heroism and steadfastness of the Petrograd proletariat. The Communist International says to you: the Petrograd Commune is worthy to carry forward the cause of the Paris Commune and, avoiding its mistakes and weaknesses, to lead the proletarian battalions to victory. The Communist International is convinced that the workers will henceforward also form the best troops of the international workers’ army.

Long live the magnificent Petrograd proletariat! Long live the Communist International!

Zinoviev: The Congress wishes to turn to the Red Army of the Russian Republic with a greeting. Comrade Serrati, representative of the Italian workers, has the floor.

Serrati: On behalf of the Italian Socialist Party, which has joined the Communist International, I greet the renowned Red Army of Russia, the defender of the sublime ideal of the world proletariat. When the World War broke out, the betrayers of the Italian working class tried to persuade them to go over to the side of the bourgeoisie. At that time they spread the doctrine that the proletariat would win peace and achieve its own objectives if it had weapons in its hands. The Italian Socialist Party however repudiated these social traitors. It said that it would always fight, with or without a rifle, on the side of the working class against the bourgeoisie. And now the great Red Army has proved this by deeds. It has written in golden letters in the book of history that not only rifles but also iron are only weapons when the working class understands how to use them, when it knows that all this only serves for the conquest of the sublime ideal of the proletariat and against the bourgeoisie of the whole world. That great and famous army that is fighting and winning victory after victory, that is fighting against Wrangel in the South and Poland in the West, does not stand alone. The English workers and the Italian sailors and the German sailors in Kiel are also fighting together with it.

[The Kiel sailors had a history of revolutionary struggle in the post-war years. In November, 1918 a revolt broke out in the German navy there, spread to the army and won the support of the workers who declared a general strike. The red flag was hoisted over the ships of the fleet and a workers’ and soldiers’ council was set up. This was the signal for the spread of revolution throughout Germany.]

And wherever workers five they are preventing the weapons of death from reaching the Polish front by strikes and other means. Wherever they prove by their bloody struggle that they do not want to serve the interests of the bourgeoisie, there are defenders and supporters of the great proletarian Red Army. May the day be near when the Red Army will not consist only of Russian proletarians, but of proletarians from all over the world, the day when all the workers, united by the consciousness of the sublime ideal of socialism, will form a single great and invincible army which will defeat capitalism once and for all, put an end to everything that forms its heritage, finally liberate the proletarians of the world and the brave Red Army men from obligatory military service, and be able to free the whole world from what has always oppressed the working class, not with cannons but through the return to peaceful labour. In the name of this high idea, irrespective of the services the Red Army has already rendered to the world proletariat, I propose, on behalf of all the parties represented in the Communist International, the following greetings to the Red Army and the Red Fleet of the Russian Federative Soviet Republic.

To the Red Army and the Red Fleet of the Russian Socialist Federative Republic.

Brothers! The Second World Congress of the Communist International sends its warmest fraternal greeting to the whole Red Army, the whole Fleet, every Red troop unit from the smallest to the largest, to you, Red Army men and Red sailors, all together and to each individually – especially the comrades at the front. The labouring people of the whole world are watching with bated breath and full of love your fight against the capitalists and the landlords, the Tsarist Generals and the imperialists.

The workers of the whole world have lived through your defeats with you and celebrate your victories together with you. The labouring population of the whole world is following full of enthusiasm how, at the cost of great exertions, you have beaten Kolchak, Denikin, Yudenich and Miller, and how you have put to shame the swindles of the English and French capitalists.

The Second World Congress of the Communist International greets most warmly the Red Army that is at the present moment fighting on the Western and South-Western front against the White Polish ‘Pans’ who were sent by the bourgeoisie of the Entente to strangle the Russian Soviet Republic of workers and peasants.

Brothers in the Red Army, know this: that your war against the Polish ‘Pans’ is the most just war that history has ever known. You are not only fighting for the interests of Soviet Russia but also for the interests of the whole of labouring humanity, for the Communist International.

The labouring masses cannot destroy the yoke of the rich and of wage slavery other than weapons in hand. You were the first to turn your weapons against the oppressors. You were the first to create a mighty and disciplined Red Army of workers and peasants. You were the first to point the way to all the oppressed and exploited people of the world. For this the proletarians of all lands bless you.

The Communist International knows that your victories over the enemies of the workers and peasants were bought with countless sacrifices and privations.

We know that you do not spare yourselves. We know that many of the best sons of the Red Army have sacrificed their lives for our cause. Your heroic courage will never be forgotten in history. Comrades, know this: that the Red Army is at present one of the main forces in world history. Know this: that you are no longer alone. The labouring people of the whole world are on your side. The time is near when the international Red Army will be created.

Long live the great, invincible Red Army!

Long live the Army of the Communist International!

Zinoviev: The Congress intends to direct a special appeal to all the workers of the world concerning a section of our troops who are in an especially difficult position and are making enormous sacrifices. I am speaking of the Hungarian proletariat. The representative of the Austrian Communists, Comrade Steinhardt, has the floor.

Steinhardt: Comrades, when, in March last year, the First Congress of the Communist International was ending and directly following it the Eighth Party Congress of the Communist Party of Russia was beginning, we received in Moscow a telegram from Comrade Bela Kun in which he reported that the Hungarian workers had taken power into their hands and that the Hungarian Soviet Republic had been set up.

This news filled us, it is true, with great joy, but at the same time we viewed with some concern the immediate circumstances under which this great event had taken place. For Soviet power had not been conquered in Hungary through years and years of bloody struggle against the bourgeoisie, but power had been taken over from the bourgeoisie without a struggle, and that with comrades in arms who were known in the International as the most backward layers of the Social Democratic Parties of any country, that is to say with the Hungarian Social Democrats. What we feared did in fact happen.

From the very first days the Hungarian Social Democrats, who had amalgamated with the Communist Party, were saboteurs. This amalgamation was the Hungarian Communist Party’s greatest mistake. The organs of the trades unions committed sabotage, the bourgeoisie, international capital, all united to overthrow the Hungarian Soviet government. The inevitable happened. Threatened by the Rumanians, those boyars, those libertines; hard pressed by the English mercenaries who, in the name of Horthy, have covered themselves in eternal shame throughout history; threatened by Czechoslovakia in the North; with no support from German Austria because the Social Democracy in German Austria has declared war on us, and with no support from Germany, the Soviet government was forced from the very first days to carry out a desperate struggle. But, comrades, despite all this it was a great event, for, for the first time, there arose a Soviet Republic in the midst of the Western capitalist countries, in the midst of the enemy camp. In the eyes of the capitalists, that was a crime that had to be expiated by all the means in their power. It is repugnant even to express what kind of bestialities have been taking place in Hungary in the last year. Nothing can be more inhuman than what is being done to the workers, completely irrespective of whether they are Communists, Social Democrats or even Christian Socialists, by Horthy’s bands. As a result, Hungary stands completely defence less. On this historical spot, at this extraordinarily historical hour, it is the duty of the Communist International to raise a protest, and not only a protest in words, but a protest of powerful deeds, against these bands of Horthy’s.

In just the same way as the workers in Czechoslovakia have united in order to send not a weapon, not a single wagon-load of war material to Poland, in just the same way as in German Austria and Germany our Workers Councils have united so that not a single wagon-load is sent against Soviet Russia, so we must unite so that, together with our brothers, we can quickly turn Horthy’s Hungary once more into Soviet Hungary, a civilised country. Comrades, I therefore ask you to adopt the following appeal to all workers unanimously and without debate, and to act in accordance with it at every hour in every country. For that, comrades, is what matters.

To the Workers of all Countries.

Working men and women!

In the days when Soviet Russia is victoriously repulsing the attack of the criminal clique of Polish aristocrats, when all over the world the wave of workers’ indignation is rising against the capitalist governments, when the revolutionary proletariat, at the Congress of the Communist International, is carrying out the unification of a workers’ army of many millions of heads, there is a country that is covered with the corpses of the best revolutionaries. This country is Hungary. International capital, that repulsive and base monstrosity, has slain the young Hungarian Soviet Republic. All the powers of the old world had united in the campaign against it: the professional murderers in generals’ tunics and the Christian priests, the London bankers and the aristocratic scum of Rumania, the French profiteers and the social traitors of every country, the black mercenaries and the ‘civilized’ men of culture. Surrounded on all sides, its arms and legs broken, the Hungarian Soviet Republic died amidst the terrible tortures of the Golgotha of counter-revolution to rise again as soon as we can rush to its assistance. This bestial counter-revolution, led by the scum of officer gangs of the English hireling Admiral Horthy, is now dancing its detestable dance on the corpses of the workers. There is no cruelty, no baseness, no bestial cynicism that the unrestrained violence of the Christian ‘order’ of the generals has not used. Thousands have been hanged and shot, tens of thousands thrown into prison, slain, murdered by stealth, thrown into the sewers, vanished without trace, robbed, raped, crippled by torture – this is the order that has been restored by the democratic ‘League of Nations’ with the help of the heroes of the Second International. ‘Woe to the conquered!’ cries the English Colonel – and shoots down the communist worker. ‘Woe to

the conquered!’ cries the brutish landowner, and rapes a working-class woman. ‘Woe to the conquered!’ cries the White Guard prison warder and puts the worker who has not yet been put under the soil behind lock and key.

Working men and women!

In the hour when we hear the bones of the defeated Hungarian proletariat grinding, you have the duty to raise your voice and to check the criminal hand of the bourgeois hangmen who flay people alive, force them to eat human excrement, rape women and slit open the bellies of women communists.

Even the lackeys of capital, the heroes of the social-patriotic Amsterdam trades union International, have, frightened by their own baseness, boycotted White Hungary. And its Commission has established thousands of piratical misdeeds by the Hungarian government and the whole Horthy gang. And thus they are traitors enough to betray even their own treachery.

In the name of millions of workers on the threshold of world war against capital, the Communist International at its World Congress directs to the whole proletariat the appeal:

– All rise to fight the executioners of Hungary!

– Stop the munition trains! Blow up all military transport that is heading for Horthy’s Hungary!

– Render harmless the officers who are rushing to the murder of workers!

– Disorganise the production of all arms without exception by a mighty wave of rotating strikes! Arm only yourselves! Make every effort in word and deed to disrupt the armies of imperialism. Surround the land of murderers and butchers with a wall of hatred!

Workers! If you remain indifferent you yourselves will be the hangmen’s assistants!

Join the ranks of the fighters! Save your proletarian honour! Save the suffering Hungarian proletariat!

Hungarian workers! Take courage! The proletariat of the whole world is with you. The Communist International sends you the expressions of its fraternal love.

Soviet Hungary is dead! Long live Soviet Hungary!

Marchlewski: Permit me to describe here the situation in Poland. The Russian workers know that in the years 1905-1906 the Polish revolutionary workers were the pioneers of the revolution against Russian Tsarism. Regardless of the fact that the cause of the liberation of the Polish state – only, it must be admitted, an apparent liberation, since this state is a tool of the Entente – regardless of the fact that the removal of the yoke under which the Polish people groaned was the cause of the revolution, the Polish workers have not understood how to exploit this fortunate conjunction of conditions. The thing is that the European war, the imperialist war, has scattered the Polish proletariat in all directions. Hundreds of thousands of Polish workers were driven towards Russia, hundreds of thousands were driven towards Germany. For that reason imposters, those gentlemen who only have petty-bourgeois layers behind them, were able to seize power and thereupon, with the help of the Entente, form powerful forces for the struggle against Soviet Russia. From the very first moment the Polish Communists have fought against this crime, and this fight has cost much blood. You know that the attack on Russia began with a shameful, scandalous murder committed by the Polish Gendarmes on the Red Cross mission that was led by one of our best, Comrade Wesselowski. You have read that the excesses committed in Poland against the communists are equalled only in Hungary. You know that there our social traitors – Daszinski and his consorts who are, if possible, even more questionable than the Russian Mensheviks and the German Scheidemanns – work in league with the bourgeoisie. But now the hour has come when the Polish proletariat will see clearly, when the imperialist stupor which had seized a part of the Polish working class will be put aside; and now, with the Red Army advancing and helping to destroy that force that has up to now ruled over Poland, we entertain the firm hope that the cause of the Polish revolution will make rapid progress. But comrades, we must be mindful of the fact that we have a serious matter before us, we must consider that Lord Curzon’s impudent act, which the Soviet government had to reject, contains threats.

[This refers to the ‘Curzon note’ of July 11, 1920, which proposed that the Soviet Union should hand over the Crimea to Baron Wrangel, the pro-British counter-revolutionary. The same note proposed British mediation in the war in Poland.]

Perhaps the English and French armies will not rush to the assistance of White Guard Poland against the Polish revolution and Soviet Russia; but our enemies will endeavour to stir up the Rumanian army against us and perhaps that army that Herr Noske has already organised for them. And therefore, comrades, we must remember the fact that we distinguish ourselves from the Second International, and that we do not wish to be an International of words, but an International of deeds. It is your duty to help to end this criminal war quickly. And then, as I have not the slightest doubt, the hordes of the bourgeoisie that are menacing us will end as all previous armies have ended who suffered defeats. When the Russian, German and Austrian armies suffered defeats they became revolutionary. The same will happen in Poland too, and then the Polish Soviet Republic will triumph. We will, however, have to struggle hard still for this fight, for this victory. We Polish Communists swear to you that we will not back down, and we ask for your support, comrades.

Zinoviev: The Congress intends to issue a political manifesto on this important question. I give the floor to the delegate of the German Communists, Comrade Levi.

Levi: Comrade Serrati has just eloquently described the feelings that the European proletariat and the proletariat of the world have towards the Red Army. You applauded his words enthusiastically, and I must say I am amazed that you still applaud when the feelings of the European proletariat are reported to you. For the feelings of the European proletariat for the Russian Revolution and for the Red Army have long been the same. And despite all their feelings, it was European, it was German proletarians who imposed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk on Russia, and it was German proletarians who marched through the Baltic region and beat down the revolution in the Ukraine and Southern Russia. For the German and for the European proletariat however the hour will now come when it must show that it is able to go beyond feelings of sympathy to what alone can help the Russian Revolution – to the living deed.

At this very moment the Red troops are advancing further and further into Poland, and approaching Warsaw. But this is the first time, here in Poland , that the Red Army has measured itself eye to eye with European imperialism. What it previously fought – the Denikins, Yudeniches and Kolchaks – were only very miserable hired executioners. But around Poland is grouped the European reaction. In general Poland is not simply a wandering mercenary of the Entente but a buttress of European imperialism. Here then the forces are measured the one against the other and here the European proletarians must show how much they grasp and how far they are able to beat not only the Polish bourgeoisie but Polish capitalism too, to beat and beat it until it breaks. Here waits the first common task on which the proletarians of all countries must work together. And in this sense we propose that you issue the following appeal from this spot on which today the eyes of the proletarians of all the world are turned:

To the Working Men and Women of all Countries!

The Second World Congress of the Communist International is meeting at a time when White Poland, the bulwark of international capitalist reaction, is collapsing under the heavy blows of the Red Army of Russian workers and peasants. What all revolutionary workers and women workers keenly desire has been fulfilled.

The Russian workers and peasants stood against the impudent Polish White Guards with the same force with which they rose up to overthrow the Russian counter-revolution, the armies of Yudenich, Kolchak and Denikin. The Polish capitalists and junkers who spurned Soviet Russia’s peace proposals and, in the hope of help from international capital and in the conviction that Soviet Russia had used up all its strength in the fight against the counter-revolution, flung their troops at Soviet Russia, are now faced with a great military defeat.

Their armies are pouring panic-stricken back out of the Ukraine and White Russia and the armies of Soviet Russia are in hot pursuit. The bandits of international capital, the Polish junkers and capitalists, are now raising a great lamentation that Poland is in great danger.

They are turning to the governments of the capitalist countries with requests for the quickest possible help if European civilisation is not to be annihilated by the barbarians of the Russian Revolution, and we see how the English government, which armed the Poles for their criminal campaign against Soviet Russia, refused, together with its allies, to hold Poland back when Soviet Russia proposed negotiations on April 8 in London. We see that that very same capitalist England impudently threatens Soviet Russia with a new attack organised by the allies, ‘if Soviet Russia does not conclude a cease-fire with the Polish invaders. The profiteers of international capital, who have played with the destiny of nations like chess-pieces, are now playing at being the defenders of independent Poland. The French government which, even in 1917, was prepared to hand Poland over to Russian Tsarism if in return it would recognise the claims of French imperialism to the left bank of the Rhine; the English government which on many occasions during the war confidentially announced to the German government through its agents that it would hand over Poland to the Central Powers if only German imperialism would give up Belgium, from whence England could be threatened; all these traders in human flesh are now screaming that Poland’s independence is being threatened by Soviet Russia, and are seeking by this slogan to prepare world public opinion for a new campaign against the Russian workers and peasants.

Working men and women of the world! We do not need to tell you that Soviet Russia has not the slightest intention of planning conquest against the Polish people. Soviet Russia is defending the independence of Poland against the attacks of the hangmen of the Polish people, against the attacks of the Hoffmanns and the Beselers. Soviet Russia was even prepared to sign a treaty with the Polish capitalists not only recognising the independence of Poland but even granting it large frontier zones, in order only to achieve peace. Soviet Russia numbers in her ranks thousands of brave Polish fighters. Soviet Russia is most closely tied to the masses of Polish workers by decades of common struggle. The right of the Polish people to self determination is for Soviet Russia a holy, inviolable right, and if there was not a single soldier who would defend Poland, Polish sod would remain the property of the Polish people, and the Polish people would be able to decide freely its own destiny.

But as long as the clique of capitalist and junker adventurers, who thrust Poland into the criminal adventure of war, rule in Poland. as long as the Entente capitalists provide Poland with arms, the Soviet Union is involved in a defensive war. If today Soviet Russia gives the Polish White Guards a breathing space, if Soviet Russia allows them to reorganise their beaten army and re-arm it with the help of the Entente, Soviet Russia will tomorrow be obliged once more to call hundreds of thousands of her best sons from the land and from the workshop and send them into the field for a new defensive war.

Working men and women! If the international capitalist rabble is screaming about the threat to the independence of Poland in order to prepare a new campaign against Soviet Russia, you should know one thing: your slave-owners are terrified that one of the pillars of their rule, of their international system of reaction, exploitation and enserfment is collapsing; they are afraid that, if White Guard Poland collapses under the blows of the Red Army and the Polish workers seize power, it will be easier for the German, Austrian, Italian and French workers to free themselves from their exploiters, and that then the English and American workers will follow. If the capitalist rabble wails and rages over the threat to Polish independence, they do it out of fear that your serfdom, your dependence, working men and women, could give way to liberation from the chains of capitalist enslavement. Therefore it is the task of the proletarians of every country to do everything to prevent the governments of England, France, America and Italy from giving any kind of help to the Polish White Guards. Proletarians of the Entente countries! Your governments will continue to lie, they will continue as before to claim that they are not supporting Poland. It is your duty to stand guard at every port and at every frontier so that not a single train and not a single ship with food or with weapons sets off for Poland. Stand guard, do not let yourselves be tricked by false declarations of the purpose of the consignment. They can also be sent indirectly to Poland, and where the government or the private capitalists do not heed your protests, go on strike, lend a hand, for under no circumstances can you help the Polish junkers and capitalists to slaughter your Russian brothers.

German proletarians! If White Guard Poland collapses the Entente capitalists will sign peace with the German generals, with the German capitalists; it will help them to arm great mercenary armies; with these armies it will beat down the German proletariat in order to turn Germany into the base for the struggle against Soviet Russia; it will not hesitate to knock Germany into ruins in order to make it into a rampart for the fight against Soviet Russia and Soviet Poland. Working men and women of Germany! The hour has struck when you can make a reality of what you have commended on thousands of occasions on great demonstrations: standing by your Russian brothers and fighting alongside them for your freedom. Do not allow any attempts to support White Guard Poland to be undertaken, do not permit any new recruitment of mercenaries on German soil. Keep all railway trains heading east under the strictest supervision, keep Danzig under the strictest supervision and do everything that the situation demands. Not a single wagon, not a single ship may go from Germany to Poland.

Proletarians of all other countries! Remember: the enemy is now white Poland. To annihilate it is now the task of the hour.

Proletarians of all countries! Consider this: Now you cannot permit yourselves to be led astray by the phrases of treacherous or wavering workers’ leaders or deluded by any promises by your governments. Now is the time to act, now is the time to gather all your forces to blockade White Guard Poland, to gather all your forces to turn the solidarity of the international proletariat with Soviet Russia into a reality.

Working men and women! Your solidarity with Soviet Russia is your solidarity with the Polish proletarians. Under the leadership of the Communist Party the Polish proletariat has fought uninterruptedly against the war with Soviet Russia. Poland’s prisons are full of our Polish brothers, with the communists of Poland. The defeats of the Polish White Guards have awoken the greatest enthusiasm in the hearts of the Polish workers. The Polish workers are seeking to use the defeats of their exploiters to finish off their weakened class enemy, to unite with the Russian workers in a common fight for liberation.

The blockade of Poland is direct help for the liberation struggle of the Polish workers, it is the way to free Poland from the chains with which it is riveted to the chariot of the victorious capitalists of London and France, for it to develop into an independent republic of workers and peasants.

The Second World Congress of the Communist International calls on you, workers and women workers of every country: take to the streets and show your government that you are not willing to permit any aid at all to White Poland, any intervention at all against Soviet Russia. Stop every job, paralyse all transport if you see that, despite our protests, the capitalist clique in your country is preparing a new intervention against Soviet Russia! Let not a single train or ship through to Poland! Show that proletarian solidarity exists in deeds and not just in words!

Long live Soviet Russia! Long live the Red Army of Russian workers and peasants! Down with White Poland! Down with intervention! Long live Soviet Poland!

This is the deed that we call on every proletarian in the world to perform, and ‘Russia expects that every man will do his duty.’

Thereupon voting takes place on the four greetings, which are all adopted. The first session of the Congress is closed.