Early American Marxism: Document Download Page by Year: 1938

Early American Marxism

Document Download Page for the Year




“John Wilhelmovich Pepper-Pogány: Arrest and Execution Information.” [executed Feb. 8, 1938] Basic arrest and execution details, including a prison photo, of John Pepper (née Jozsef Pogány), Hungarian revolutionary and leading figure in the Communist Party of America during the decade of the 1920s. This record, published in a book by the Memorial Society in Russia in 2000, clearly indicates that the Hungarian Communist retained his American pseudonym for the rest of his life. At the time of his arrest on July 29, 1937, Pepper was living in Moscow and was the head of the publicity department of the People’s Commissariat of the Food Industry. Pepper was sentenced to be shot on Feb. 8,1938 by the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR on charges of participation in a counter-revolutionary organization and was executed that same day. Pepper was posthumously rehabilitated by the Military Collegium on May 30, 1956, the record indicates. Those with fast internet may prefer the high-resolution version of this file (1.8 megs).



“The Moscow Trials,” by Norman Thomas [March 1938] Article by the leader of the Socialist Party attempting to make sense of the Great Show Trials in Moscow—the third of which, featuring Bukharin in the dock, was held March 2-13, 1938. “These confessions, true, false, or partly true and partly false, are for us who have believed in socialism as the hope of the world the occasion of bitter tears and deep humiliation,” states Thomas, who notes similar patently false confessions happened during the period of the Spanish Inquisition and the witchcraft trials. “I assume that in a regime which makes possible no legal or democratic opposition even within the Communist Party to the decisions of the bureaucracy there have been plots. This was probably especially true in the dark days of 1932-1933....The important thing is that there is no interpretation of these trials which does not bring shame upon the regime,” writes Thomas. He adds that “Lenin was a great enough man to master the amoral tactics which he consciously used with some regard for proportion and achievement. None of his successors has that ability. Insofar as Lenin, yes, and Trotsky, were responsible for this exaltation of secular Jesuitism as a kind of working class virtue, they must share in the guilt of its complete degeneration under Stalin.... [Stalin’s] supreme failure has been an exaltation of a regime which makes suspicion of one’s closest comrades inevitable and plots and counterplots the only vehicle of effective political activity.” Thomas calls the USSR “a totalitarian state under a monolithic party” and presciently notes the likelihood of a change of party line with some chance of “an alliance or understanding with Hitler.”


“Where is Juliet Stuart Poyntz? by Carlo Tresca [March 1938] Article by the well known syndicalist labor organizer Carlo Tresca in the pages of V.F. Calverton’s Modern Monthly, charging foul play by the Soviet secret police in the mysterious May 1937 disappearance of the “personal friend of mine for twenty years,” Juliet Stuart Poyntz. Poyntz (who in 1925 was formally rebuked for “Loreism”—the American stalking horse for “Trotskyism") retired from public political work in 1934, Tresca states. Thereupon, “she became a GPU agent,” being seen in Moscow in the company of know secret police employee George Mink as late as 1936. According to Tresca’s testimony here: “In May 1937, I met her on the street and at that time she told me that she had become disgusted with the Soviet regime and the Communist Party in this country. Her attitude was known to the Stalinists. They had reason to fear her because she might break with them and disclose secret matter. About a year ago, Miss Poyntz took a room, in the American Women’s Association headquarters. She was seen by friends as late as June 4 or 5, 1937. She has never been seen since.” Tresca alludes to the complicity of “agent of the GPU” Shauchno Epstein in the Poyntz disappearance and states “I am convinced that an effort was made to recall or kidnap Miss Poyntz to Moscow, and that, if it wasn’t found necessary to kill her during the efforts, she was, in fact, taken to Moscow.” Carlo Tresca was assassinated in the United States in 1943, purportedly by agents of the Mussolini regime.