The first English-language edition of 'Armed Insurrection' was translated from French and German by Quintin Hoare and published by New Left Books in 1970. Written in Moscow under Comintern auspices, published under the pseudonym 'A. Neuberg', it was actually written by a group of leading Comintern political/military experts and is a classic Third Period document. Produced in 1928 as a practical insurrectionary manual for communists.
It discusses the role of armed insurrection in the Marxist-Leninist theory of revolution, analyses a number of insurrections—successful and unsuccessful—with the aim of determining the conditions for victory, and gives detailed information on the tactics of street fighting—ranging from the respective advantages of offensive or defensive action to the best method of building a barricade. One of the authors, Erich Wollenberg, military leader of the Bochum rising in North Germany in 1923, has written a new introduction for this edition (the first edition in English) in which he gives his own account of how the book came to be written, analyses the unstated political background to the various insurrections it examines, and identifies such of the authors as were known to him. These include Mikhail Tukhachesvsky, then second-in-command of the Red Army, Ho Chi Minh, Vice-President of the Secretary of the Comintern, and the German Communist and leader of the Hamberg Insurrection, Hans Kippenberger. The work was assembled by the Agitprop section of the Comintern, headed at the time by Palmiro Togliatti. The book contains detailed studies of uprisings in Reval (Tallinn), Hamburg, Canton (Guangzhou), and Shanghai — to be used by communists around the world.
In the excerpt below, published as a preface to the NLB edition, Erich Wollenberg explains the process of the book's composition, identifies the authors of some of its sections, and highlights some distortions to the accounts contained within it and the motivations behind them.
In the spring of 1928 Piatnitsky [An Old Bolshevik who was liquidated during the Stalinist purges (1936-8)], the Organizing Secretary of the Comintern, called me into his office. I was at that time on the technical staff of the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow, in charge of its military bureau, and taught in the military schools in which German communists were trained as specialists in insurrection.
Among those who took part in the discussion, in addition to Piatnitsky, were: General Unschlicht [Old Bolshevik, liquidated like Piatnitsky], second-in-command to the People's Commissar for Defence and in charge of liaison between the General Staff of the Red Army and the Comintern; "Ercoli', i.e. Togliatti, head of the Agitprop (agitation and propaganda) division of the Comintern; two or three high-ranking Soviet officers who taught as I did in the military schools for German communists; and a number of other Comintern functionaries.
Piatnitsky explained the aim of our discussion. He said that Alfred Langer's The Road to Victory: the Art of Armed Insurrection was an outstanding manual for functionaries with a Marxist-Leninist training.1 A new, revised and expanded edition must be prepared. In addition, now was the right moment to publish a popular work on armed insurrection, aimed at a wider public of communists and sympathisers. For this purpose the teaching material which the Red Army Staff had devised for the German communist military schools was exceptionally suitable
The various individual sections of the new book were to be provided by the Red Army Staff and handed over to comrade Ercoli (Togliatti), who was responsible for putting the work together and publishing it as quickly as possible. The new book, partly to distinguish it from the Langer book, was to be called simply Armed Insurrection. In order to avoid the suspicion of Soviet interference in the internal affairs of other countries, it would have to leave aside the important experiences of the 1919 armed insurrections in Hungary and Bavaria, which had led to the creation of Red Armies and the seizure of power by the proletariat.2
Piatnitsky also said that the new book must carry an 'author's' name, and naturally this could not be either a Russian name or that of any existing communist functionary. Since it was to be published first in German, and since it was a new book on the subject of armed insurrection, we chose the name Neuberg. We added an 'A' before this surname; a 'B' would have served equally well.
It may seem astonishing that an illegal communist book should have to have an “author's name” and a “publisher.” The German edition, which also had the subtitle: “Attempt at a Theoretical Presentation,” carried the imprint: “1928 - Otto Meyer, Printer and Publisher - Zurich.” These particulars would allow any comrade found in possession of the “treasonable” book to claim that he had bought it at a meeting or legal demonstration, from an unknown seller, in the innocent belief that it was a legal publication. “Look, here is the name of the author, and the Swiss publisher!”
In these notes on Neuberg's book I have set myself the following task: 1. to indicate the political background to the various insurrections; 2. to reveal certain distortions which were made in the presentation of the revolutionary events, “in the interests of the Soviet State, the Comintern, and the current leadership of the communist parties concerned.” In addition, I have put names to such authors of the individual sections as are known to me.
The first two sections (“The Second International and Insurrection”; “Bolshevism and Insurrection”) were both written by the Old Bolshevik, O. Piatnitsky, who lived for several years in Germany before the First World War. I have nothing to add to what he says here.
2. The Reval Insurrection
The study of the Reval insurrection (Chapter 3) was written by a team under the direction of General Unschlicht. It was based partly on the eye-witness accounts of Estonian communists who had fled to the Soviet Union after the crushing of the insurrection.
The way in which the organization and execution of the Reval rising was presented corresponds by and large to historical truth. However, the account given of its origins passes over in silence the so-called “Zinoviev conspiracy.” What was this?
After Lenin's death (21 January 1924), as is well known, Zinoviev, Stalin and Kamenev formed the so-called “troika.” This troika of Old Bolsheviks aimed to prevent the “New Bolshevik” Trotsky from becoming Lenin's heir. When it turned out after a few months that the Trotsky danger did not exist, or at least no longer existed, the “troika” broke up. A struggle for power began between Stalin and Zinoviev. Stalin relied on the all-powerful and omnipresent party apparatus; Zinoviev on the Comintern, which after the defeat of the “German October,” i.e. after the German Communist Party's struggle to win state power in the revolutionary year of 1923 had foundered, had increasingly lost its moral and political weight.
In this situation Zinoviev hoped to strengthen his position vis-a-vis Stalin by a victorious armed insurrection in Reval. His dream was that a victory of the communist revolution in Estonia would set off a chain reaction in other countries. In secret discussions, which Zinoviev had carried on in Moscow and Leningrad behind the Party's back and without the knowledge of his Comintern colleagues, the insurrection in Reval was agreed on and its date fixed.
From a purely military point of view, the Estonian communists performed superlatively. They fought with exemplary heroism. But the objective and subjective conditions enumerated by Lenin, and before him by Friedrich Engels, for armed insurrection and the decisive assault by the proletariat on state power — these conditions did not exist in Estonia. Only the vanguard of the revolutionary proletariat was fighting in Reval. In this, the Estonian Communist Party and Zinoviev “were guilty not simply of a blunder, but of a crime” (Lenin in 1921, in Left-wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder).
The Reval insurrection with its thousands upon thousands of victims — dead, maimed or captured — not only delivered Estonia over for many years to white terror and the darkest reaction; it also accelerated the fall of Zinoviev and the rise to power of Stalin.
3. The Hamburg Insurrection
Hans Kippenberger 3 the organizer and military leader of the Hamburg insurrection, wrote the account of it (Chapter 4) immediately after his arrival in Moscow at the beginning of May 1924. I wrote the chapter's introduction (“The General Situation in Germany”) and the “summing up.” We were working at that time in a special military academy in Moscow, in which the leaders of a future German Red Army were to be formed.
The Hamburg insurrection was essentially confined to the Barmbek district of the city, where Kippenberger, a twenty-five-year-old student from Leipzig, was living.
Kippenberger in his account refers to himself in the third person. He says that he was “formerly military leader of Barmbek, but ... a few months previously had been dismissed from this post.” It was only during the evening of Monday, 22 October that the local leadership of the Party in Barmbek literally dragged him out of bed and appointed him military commander of the communist units in Barmbek-Uhlenhorst. He was to commence hostilities at all costs by the following morning, Tuesday, 23 October.
Kippenberger thus found himself “in a difficult situation from his point of view: he did not know the men, and in addition there was a total lack of information about the state of the Party's fighting organization, about the state of the enemy, etc.” There were also no arms. The “nineteen rifles and twenty-seven revolvers,” as he told me, had been stored badly and were rusty; nothing could be done until they had been thoroughly cleaned and oiled. In addition, there was no overall conception of the general situation in Germany, or even in the other districts of Hamburg.
Kippenberger suppresses the reason for his dismissal. In August 1923 a three-day general strike had broken out — quite spontaneously and unaided by the German Communist Party — throughout Germany, and had overthrown the ultra-reactionary government of Chancellor Cuno. This was replaced by the Stresemann government, which included leading social democrats in its cabinet. It was then, or as we should stress then for the first time, and not even as late as May 1923 — when a general strike had broken out in the Ruhr following the French occupation, and had escalated in Bochum into an armed insurrection 4 — it was then for the first time, in August 1923, that the Kremlin gave the order to prepare for armed insurrection in Germany with the aim of a proletarian seizure of power.
These preparations for revolution included the creation of “Proletarian Hundreds” in factories, at labour exchanges and in residential blocks. According to Brandler's “revolutionary theory” — “In the framework of the Weimar constitution, towards the workers' government of all Germany!” — these Proletarian Hundreds were to be armed only with sticks and clubs. Their “training” was limited to drilling in factory grounds and on open spaces. Kippenberger, however, had procured a few weapons for the Hundreds which he led in Barmbek, and had organized rifle practice in the wooded areas around Hamburg. As a result, the Greater Hamburg district leadership of the German Communist Party had relieved him of his functions, “on account of this provocative conduct, which might have led to the banning of the Hundreds,” and the Proletarian Hundreds in Barmbek were dissolved. All this had occurred several months before. Yet up to 22 October no new Hundreds had been formed in Barmbek.
The Greater Hamburg district secretary who had directed theproceedings against Kippenberger was Ernst Thälmann, who later entered Comintern mythology as the “historic leader of the German Communist Party and military commander of the Hamburg insurrection.”
As far as the exemplary organization and conduct of the struggle in Barmbek-Uhlenhorst was concerned, nothing needs to be added to what Kippenberger has recorded with such modesty and reticence. His account need only be supplemented by a summary of the political background which led up to the Hamburg insurrection. We are referring to the conference of Saxony workers' organizations which met in Chemnitz on Sunday, 21 October.
The agenda for this conference had been arranged at a previous session which had taken place before the catastrophic consequences of the French and Belgian invasion of the Ruhr. It was to deal exclusively with social questions: wages and prices, assistance for the unemployed, etc. Because of the Reichswehr's entry into Saxony and Thuringia, the “Standing Commission” of the conference had moved it forward to Sunday, 21 October, at the request of its communist members.
At the Chemnitz conference then were: 140 factory councillors, 120 trade-union delegates, 79 representatives of control-commissions 5, 26 high officials of the consumer co-operative society, 15 functionaries of anti-fascist action committees, and 26 leading officials of the trade-union bureaucracy. In no sense was this conference representative of the German working class as a whole.
At the beginning of the session, a delegation from the Central Committee of the Communist Party proposed that the conference should give priority consideration to the question of the Reichswehr intervention, and should proclaim a general strike throughout Germany as a counter-measure. Thereupon the left social democrat Graupe, a minister in the Social Democrat/Communist coalition government of Saxony, explained that he would at once quit the conference hall at the head of all the social democrat delegates if there was any deviation from the fixed agenda (social questions), and if the question of a general strike against the Reichswehr intervention was discussed.
What was to be done? The Central Committee of the Communist Party, led by Heinrich Brandler, did not want to take upon itself the responsibility for a general strike, without the “Left Social Democrats.” In addition there was the fact that the slogan “General Strike” was the cue for the “Military-Political” organizations (see below) which had been created throughout the country since August 1923 to unleash an armed insurrection. The Left opposition of the Communist Party, led by Ruth Fischer, was in agreement with Brandler.
After long debates, the following decision was finally taken: in some single town, a “spontaneous rising” would be mounted. If this rising unleashed genuinely spontaneous mass movements in the main industrial centres, and if armed insurrections ensued in various parts of the country, then this would be a sure indication of the existence of an acute revolutionary situation. In that case the Communist Party Central Committee could, without isolating itself from the masses, proclaim a general strike throughout Germany and thus unleash an armed insurrection with the aim of seizing power. If, however, the local armed action did not spark off the people's pent-up anger then this would furnish clear proof that the subjective preconditions for the decisive battle still did not exist. The local insurrection would then be a spontaneous action, for which the Central Committee of the Communist Party would not have to bear the responsibility or the consequences.
On the proposal of a member of the Zentrale, whose identity could not subsequently be discovered, it was decided unanimously to allow the “spontaneous rising” to break out in Kiel, whose mutinous sailors had given the signal for the German revolution in November 1918.
Hermann Remmele,6 however, whose task it was to transmit the order for insurrection on behalf of the Communist Party Central Committee in Chemnitz, decided on his own initiative to go not to Kiel but to Hamburg. Hamburg was the site of the political and Military Political “Seaboard” headquarters, also known as the “North-West” command, which covered the Communist Party organizations in Greater Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein with its capital Kiel, Oldenburg, and other towns in the area.7
The “Military-Political Commands” had been created by the German Communist Party Central Committee after the decision had been taken to prepare for armed insurrection in Germany. Six commands — Berlin, North-West, West, South-West, Centre (Saxony, Thuringia) and East — were to correspond to the six infantry divisions of the Reichswehr; their function was to ensure the dislocation of the latter. Hermann Remmele was responsible both for liaison between the Central Committee and the National Command, and for liaison between the West, North-West and South-West political and Military Political leaderships. The political secretary of the North-West was Hugo Urbahns,8 the Military Political commander was Albert Schreiner,9 the “Soviet general” assigned to him was Stern 10; in the South-West the political secretary was Ernst Meyer, I was Military Political commander, my “Soviet general” was Alexei N. Stetzky — later a CPSU Central Committee member; the political secretary of the West was Arthur Ewert, the Military Political commander was Wilhelm Zaisser (see p. 19 below), his “Soviet general,” whose name escapes me, was known to the Red Army staff as “the man with the chin,” because of his unusually prominent and jutting chin. In 1927, “the man with the chin” was head of Red Army Intelligence in Europe with its headquarters in Paris.
Urbahns was away, at the head of a delegation in Chemnitz, when Remmele arrived in Hamburg to see Schreiner on the morning of 22 October. Urbahns reached Chemnitz several hours after the conference had ended, and after Remmele had set off, as it was thought, for Kiel. Great excitement and confusion reigned in the Communist Party Central Committee. Karl Radek had brought new directives from Moscow: the order for insurrection was to be annulled. A courier was sent off post-haste to Kiel, but nobody there knew anything about Remmele. The next morning, on 23 October, the Central Committee was startled by the news that an insurrection had broken out in Hamburg. What had happened?
In Hamburg, Schreiner and Stern had explained to Remmele that an insurrection in Kiel was impossible. In 1918 Kiel had been the home base of the imperial navy, with some 40,000 mutinous sailors. Now only a couple of thousand sailors were stationed there, regulars on twelve-year service, who for the most part sympathized with the parties of the Right or the extreme Right. The Communist Party in Kiel was very weak. Schreiner did not even know if the Proletarian Hundreds existed there.
According to the information which Remmele had brought with him from Chemnitz, it was absolutely imperative for hostilities to break out in some German town on 23 October, i.e. the next day. In this lay the last chance for the two workers' governments of Saxony and Thuringia to save themselves from liquidation by the Reichswehr. Thereupon Stern made the proposal to start an insurrection in Hamburg. Schreiner hesitantly acquiesced. Thälmann, political secretary for Great Hamburg, was informed. John Schehr, the head of the Hamburg Military Political organization could not be found; indeed he was not seen during the two or three days that the insurrection lasted. Thälmann passed on the order for insurrection to the political leaders of a number of city districts. He was not able to reach all of them.
Remmele set off during the night of 23 October to return to Chemnitz. Reichswehr units already stood at the gates of the city. In the main industrial centres — the Ruhr, Berlin, Upper Silesia — the news of the Hamburg insurrection provoked no action on the part of the workers. The Military Political apparatus — I am speaking in the first instance of the areas “West” (the Ruhr, Rhineland, etc., under Wilhelm Zaisser) and “South West” (Württemberg, Baden, Hessen, under my leadership) — stood with arms grounded and waited for the password “General Strike” as the signal for an all-German uprising. We had not been informed about the events in Chemnitz and the background to the Hamburg insurrection.
Remmele made his report to the Central Committee in the absence of Karl Radek. After a short discussion, a commission was set up consisting of leading members of the Central Committee and of the Military Political national command. This commission, which also included Urbahns, set off for Hamburg. Its mission: to stop the insurrection.
The sequel can be found in Kippenberger's account below. One further word about the distortions which were made in Kippenberger's account and my introduction in order to compromise Hugo Urbahns as “the man responsible for the failure of the Hamburg insurrection.”
Urbahns stood trial alone for all the leading comrades of the “Seaboard” party organization. He assumed full political responsibility for the insurrection and for all the insurgents' actions. He was condemned to a long term in prison. His heroic bearing before the tribunal was celebrated in the communist world. Stalin sent him a personal note of appreciation. He was first calumniated and spattered with mud when he emerged after his liberation as the leader of a left oppositional group associated with Trotsky. He was expelled from the Party in I926.
4. Canton and Shanghai
As for the chapters (5 and 6) on the Canton and Shanghai insurrections, I can now say with certainty that they were composed in the High Command of the Red Army. Since my work in both the military schools for German “insurrection specialists” and, from 1928, in the International Lenin School in Moscow, did not include giving instruction about China, I did not concern myself especially with the teaching material on the Chinese civil war.
However, I was in close contact with comrades who carried out military or political missions in China on behalf of the General Staff of the Red Army (and of the Comintern). Among these were high-ranking Russian officers, like the later Soviet Marshal Blücher,11 German comrades like Wilhelm Zaisser,12 and a graceful, kind and lovable Indo-Chinese who under the name of Ho Chi Minh was destined to make world history. To my knowledge, Blücher and Ho — like other equally high-ranking members of the Staff of the Red Army, among them Tukhachevsky — opposed the official Party line on China; they disapproved of the Chinese Party's entry into the Kuomintang, and saw the Canton insurrection as an undertaking which inevitably contained the seeds of defeat. This viewpoint is put forward unambiguously in the chapter on the Canton insurrection; a critical judgement is similarly expressed on the policy of the Chinese Party, of the Comintern, and of Stalin with respect to the insurrection in Shanghai.
Basing himself on the decisions of the Comintern, the “editor,” i.e. somebody from the bureau of Piatnitsky or of Ercoli-Togliatti, administered a sharp reproof to “A. Neuberg” for this in the Preface (see the postscript to this edition).
5. Tukhachevsky: “Field-Regulations for Armed Insurrection”
In Chapters 7-11, concrete instructions were given on how to organize and carry out armed insurrections in all those countries in which the communist parties faced the “historic task” of carrying through the bourgeois-democratic or the socialist revolution. In the years in which the Neuberg book appeared, it was aimed at the communists of all countries outside the Soviet Union.
Chapters 7, 8, and 9 deal mainly with the political side of preparation for armed insurrection. Today I can no longer say with certainty whether they were written by Ercoli-Togliatti or by Unschlicht, or perhaps by a team under their direction. I had no share in their composition. Chapters 10 and 11, however, were written by Mikhail N. Tukhachevsky.
When I first met “Tuka” in the spring of 1924, he was still deputy Chief of Staff of the Red Army, commander of the War Academy, and the president of a commission whose task it was to draw up the “Provisional Field-Regulations of the Red Army.” After the death of Frunze (31 November 1925), who had succeeded Trotsky, Voroshilov became People's Commissar for the Army (War Minister). His first act was to remove Tukhachevsky from all his functions on the Staff of the Red Army and send him “into the wilderness,” first to Leningrad and then to Minsk. But the new War Minister was not able to fulfil his real wish, to remove him from the army altogether. At the beginning of the thirties, in view of the increasingly critical situation in the Far East and the Kremlin's fear of a Japanese war of aggression, he even had to take him back as his deputy. The liquidation of Tukhachevsky in 1938 during the great Stalinist purges was a final triumph for his rival Voroshilov.13
Tukhachevsky had remained president of the “Commission for the Provisional Field-regulations” in 1925, since all the other members of the Commission had explained that the work in progress could not be brought to a conclusion without him.
Tukhachevsky told me that he saw his contribution to this book as a kind of “Field-Regulations for Armed Insurrection.” Both chapters: “The Character of Military Action at the Beginning of the Insurrection,” and “The Character of the Insurgents' Operations during the Insurrection,” are larded with quotations from the “Provisional Field-Regulations of the Red Army,” which should really have been called: “Field-Regulations of the Red Army and of Armed Insurrection.”
In 1921-2 Tukhachevsky had pushed for the creation of an International Communist General Staff. As he did not carry this proposal within the Staff of the Red Army, he published a series of articles in Soviet military journals under the pseudonym “Solomin,” in which he beat the drum for his idea. Trotsky had rejected Tukhachevsky-Solomin's proposal on the doubtless correct grounds that the non-Soviet members of this General Staff would be nothing but puppets as long as the proletariat had not seized power in their countries and created Red Armies of their own. Nevertheless, despite certain military and political differences of opinion, both personal and working relations between Trotsky and Tukhachevsky remained the best imaginable. Even under moral pressure from the Party, Tukha never published a derogatory or even a critical statement about Trotsky. In private, he spoke of the first leader of the Red Army with the highest respect.
In his contribution to the Neuberg, Tukhachevsky did not shrink from quoting one of Trotsky's orders of the day, ascribing it to him by name; it is almost incredible that the editors of the 1928 edition (first German edition) and of that of 1931 did not extirpate with fire and brimstone the name of the “watchdog of fascism and agent of world imperialism.”
6. Ho Chi Minh: Peasant Insurrection
The author of Chapter 12, “The Party's Military Work among the Peasants,” was the friendly, unassuming Indochinese revolutionary who subsequently entered the history of the great national and social liberation struggles of our epoch under the name of Ho Chi Minh.
When I arrived in Moscow in May 1924, Ho (his name of that period is of no importance) was working in the Agitprop division of the Comintern. His appointed field: colonial and peasant questions. In addition, Ho was vice-president of a “Peasant International” founded by a non-Party Pole called Dombal. This organization had links with various peasant parties and associations, e.g. in Poland, in the Balkans, in France and Italy, in South America and in Asia. In the Comintern, Dombal and his “Peasant International” (which was put ironically in inverted commas) was not taken seriously. Much merriment was indulged in at the expense of the amiable “peasant-visionary,” as Bukharin termed him in conversation with me.14
In Moscow, as earlier in Paris, Ho had to struggle against the prejudices of the Comintern parties from industrial countries, who denied the revolutionary role of the peasantry in the proletarian liberation struggle. He laughingly alluded to his activity as that of “a voice crying in the wilderness.”
In 1924, the Red Army Staff sent Ho on a secret mission to China. As silently as he had disappeared from Moscow, he would surface from time to time in the streets of the Soviet capital, with his brilliant eyes and dazzling smile. One day, I think it was in 1927, he told me that he was working on an essay on party work among the peasants, which inter alia was intended for the German communists’ military school in Moscow. It is this essay which makes up the last chapter of this volume.
What Ho wrote over forty years ago still has an almost breathtaking actuality. Introducing his essay, Ho writes: “The victory of the proletarian revolution in agricultural and semi-agricultural countries is unthinkable without active support from the decisive peasant masses for the revolutionary proletariat. This remains incontrovertibly true, for the bourgeois-democratic as much as for the proletarian revolution.”
Among the “semi-agricultural countries,” Ho included Italy and France. This “unequivocal conclusion” has only very recently begun to make ground haltingly in France.
On guerrilla tactics in the struggle against an organized army of the ruling class, we find: “The strength of the guerrillas does not lie in defence, but in their daring and sudden offensive actions. Guerrilla fighters... must in all places and at all times be intent on manoeuvring: deal rapid and unexpected blows at the enemy ... withdraw quickly and avoid a decisive encounter ... so as to surprise the foe in another quarter.”
This passage could have occurred in one of Ho's orders of the day in recent years.
Armed Insurrection is an exceptionally important document of the military policies of the Comintern, indispensable for the historian. “But,” one might ask, “the distortions and falsifications which were made to historical truth in the so-called interests of the Soviet State, of the Comintern and of its sections ... do these not cancel the historical value of the book?” Absolutely not. These distortions, these falsifications, the suppression of the political background (of the Reval and Hamburg insurrections), these too are part of the military politics of the Comintern and the Kremlin. It is only necessary to know the historical truth, and one can counter the legend. I hope that these introductory remarks have contributed to this.
1. This book, published secretly in Germany (in German) in 1928 and reprinted in an illegal second edition in 1931, was the work of a team of German communist military specialists in Moscow, under the direction of “Alfred” (pseudonym of Ture Lehen, an officer first in the Finnish and later in the Soviet Army), 'Alfred' was assigned to the Comintern (Piatnitsky) by the Red Army Staff. At first the names of all the co-authors were to be given on the title-page (my pseudonym was “Walter”). However, since this made a terribly long (“langer”) name for a relatively small book, we banded together under the name “Alfred Langer.”
2. These experiences were dealt with in a book by a Hungarian communist, and in my The Struggle of the Bavarian Red Army, which had been brought out in Russian by the State military publishing house in 1928 (with a second edition in 1931).
3. Kippenberger, a member of the Central Committee of the German Communist Party and one-time communist deputy in the Reichstag, was arrested on 5 November 1936 in Moscow at Ulbricht's request. On the basis of slanderous accusations made by a then intimate associate of Ulbricht's, Kippenberger was condemned to death on 3 October by the GPU (NKVD) directorate and shot. On 30 April 1958 he was “rehabilitated” by a Soviet military tribunal. The GPU informer had accused him, among other things, of having arranged “behind Ulbricht's back” for the assassination of two police-officers (Lenk and Anlauf) on 9 August 1931 in front of the Karl-Liebknecht House in Berlin — whereas in reality Ulbricht himself had given the order for this act of individual terror.
4. In Bochum, under the name “Walter,” I directed an armed rising which broke out spontaneously in May 1923 in connection with a general strike in the Ruhr. The Communist Party Zentrale (Heinrich Brandler as leader of the Party, and Ruth Fischer as leader of the Left opposition) condemned the rising; they demanded that the insurgents should disarm, and got their way on the strength of a Party decision. They saw the rising as “objectively a provocation to the German bourgeoisie,” who wished to lay upon the working class and the communists “the responsibility for their capitulation before the imperialist aggression by Poincaré and his accomplices.” It was after this that I received my first reprimand from the Party. During the insurrection in Bochum, there was fraternization with the soldiers of the French occupation force; the latter greeted our armed Hundreds (see below) with applause, and shouted: “A bas Poincaré! A bas Stinnes!” (Stinnes was at that time the most powerful capitalist in the Weimar Republic). It was in May 1923 that the great opportunity for the German Revolution was missed.
5. Something resembling organs of "co-partnership," but without any legal basis.
6. A social democrat before the First World War, after 1915 a member of the German Independent Social Democratic Party. The Independent Social Democrats split off from the Social Democrat Party in 1915 because of the latter's policy towards the war. At the Halle Conference of October 1920, where Zinoviev spoke as the Comintern's representative, the left wing of the Independent Social Democrats, under the leadership of Ernst Thälmann and Hermann Remmele, joined the Communist Party. A member of the politburo, Remmele was elected to the “Troika” — the supreme body — together with Thalmann and Heinz Neumann at the Wedding Congress (Wedding is a proletarian area in the north of Berlin). In 1930-31 Remmele and Neumann moved into opposition to the “general Line” advocated by Thälmann and Ulbricht, i.e. that the “main enemy” to be combated was not the Nazis but the “social fascists,” in other words the Social Democrats. Both were liquidated during the Stalin purges,
7. The “Seaboard” or North-West political region was not a part of the Hamburg Party organization, as the Comintern Agitprop worker who assembled and passed on the various sections of the Neuberg as they were entrusted to him believed. "Seaboard” included all the Prussian provinces on the North Sea or the west coast of the Baltic, including the free Hanseatic cities of Hamburg, Bremen and Libeck, and the Prussian provinces of Schleswig-Holstein and Oldenburg. Thus, in the Party hierarchy, the political secretary of Seaboard, Hugo Urbahns, was the superior of Ernst Thälmann, the district secretary of Greater Hamburg. The North-West Military Political command, in addition to the above-mentioned free cities and provinces, also covered further Prussian provinces.
8. Urbahns emigrated to Sweden after Hitler's seizure of power, and lived there until his death in 1946.
9. Political Commissar of an International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. He has lived since 1945 in the GDR.
10. During the First World War, Stern, as an ensign or lieutenant in the Austro-Hungarian army, was taken prisoner by the Russians. During the Spanish Civil War, under the name of “Kléber” and posing as a Canadian, he commanded an International Brigade; his political commissar was Albert Schreiner. He was liquidated during the Stalin purges.
11. A Russian metalworker whose real name was Medvediev. In the Russian Civil War and as a Red Army commander he was known under the name of Blücher. When the name “Blücher” first cropped up in the world press as one of the Red Army generals, the Quai d'Orsay (referring to the clauses of the dictated treaty of Versailles) protested to the German government; personnel of the German Army were not allowed to enter service in foreign armies. The German government and the head of the Prussian branch of the noble family of Blücher swore that the Soviet general could be no member of that old Prussian noble and officer family. They then pointed out that the surname “von Blücher' could also be found in the Baltic States, which until 1917 had been part of the Russian Empire.
Blücher was for many years Soviet military adviser to the Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek, under the name “General Galen.” “General Galen” was organizer and commander of the Chinese Southern Army in its lightning advance from Canton to Shanghai (1926-27). After Chiang's betrayal of the Chinese revolution and the bloodbath of communists in Shanghai, the Generalissimo offered “General Galen” the highest position and honours if he would continue to serve as his military adviser. Against Stalin's orders, Blücher left China. In Vladivostok he was at first put under house-arrest, Stalin wanted to try him “for insubordination and desertion.” But when Chiang did not confine himself to slaughtering Chinese communists but also assumed a hostile attitude towards the Soviet Union, Blücher was allowed to return to Moscow as a relatively free man in Spring 1927. When I asked him how he had hit upon the name “Blücher,” he laughed and replied: “That is a close state secret which I am not at liberty to reveal.”
We used naturally to converse in Russian. Blücher was then banished to a sanatorium in Southern Russia. There he studied German assiduously, but with little success. When the Generalissimo's armies attacked Soviet territory across the Amur and Ussuri rivers, Stalin appointed General Blücher as commander-in-chief of the newly-created Far Eastern military region, and Chiang suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of his former military adviser.
In 1938, when Stalin liquidated the entire top command of the Red Army, among them Marshal of the Soviet Union Tukhachevsky, Blücher was at his headquarters in Khabarovsk. It was there that the news reached him that the Marshal Tukha he revered had been executed; the press report added that he, Blücher, had been a member of the Military Tribunal which had pronounced the death sentence. This lie was a moral sentence of death upon Blücher, and the physical one was to follow hard on its heels.
12. A teacher who fought in the 1914-18 war and by the end was a lieutenant in the reserves. After 1919 Zaisser became a member of the German Communist Party. In the civil strife of 1919-21 he was in the Ruhr as military leader of the Red Guards (The Red General of the Ruhr). In August 1923 he was appointed head of the Military Political organization of the West (Ruhr, Rhineland, etc.). In 1924 he attended a course at the Moscow Military Academy, after which he was sent by the Red Army Staff on a secret mission to China. In the Spanish Civil War he commanded the International Brigades under the name of “General Gómez.” On his return to Moscow, he was disgraced, thrown out of the army, and became an editor in the Foreign Workers' Publishing House. After Hitler attacked the Soviet Union Zaisser was rehabilitated and played a leading part in the National Committee of German officer Prisoners-of-war in the Soviet Union. In 1945 he went back to Germany, to the GDR, where he became Minister for State Security. During the workers' rising in Central Germany (17 June 1953), Zaisser refused to obey Ulbricht's order to open fire on the demonstrating workers. He was dismissed from his post as minister, and expelled from the Party. Up to his death a few years ago he lived in provincial exile, as military instructor in an officer-training school of the Volksarmee.
13. The most absurd legends were put about to explain the background to Tukhachevsky's liquidation, and indeed are still believed to this day. “Diabolical intrigue by SS General Heidrich who smuggled forged documents into the hands of Benes in order to weaken the Soviet army by having it decapitated of its commanders”; “Conspiracy between General Fritsch and Tukhachevsky to overthrow Hitler and Stalin”; “The “anti-semite from the Russian élite sympathized with Hitler”; etc., etc. Marshal of the Soviet Union Tukha was liquidated by Stalin as a member of an oppositional group whose best-known members included the Old Bolsheviks Bukharin and Rykov, and in the army the “Jew” Gamarnik, political commissar, and the “Jew” and army general Yakiri. “Tukha” was denounced by Radek, who in his own trial hoped to save his skin by mentioning the name of the Marshal of the Soviet Union in connection with the soviet democratic opposition.
14. After Ho's departure (on a mission to China), Heinrich Brandler became vice-president of the “Peasant International.”