This work was carried out by Research Group 626 at Counter Attack which put together an introduction for this issue.

Dossier: Archival Materials on the Military Policy of the KPD 1924-321

Research Group 626


  1. Theses of Erich Wollenberg on the Military Failure of the German Revolution in 1923
  2. Report of a Soviet Military Specialist on the Condition and the Tasks of the Communist Military Organisation in Germany
  3. Letter of the Soviet Emissary in Germany “Albert” [Vissarion Lominadze] to Stalin over the Armed Clashes Between National Socialists and Red Front Fighters in Berlin
  4. Proposals of Josef Gutsche, August Mayer and Gerhard Schott for the Improvement of the Politico-Military Work of the KPD
  5. Resolution of the Politburo of the CP of the Soviet Union on an Expanded Offering of Military and Special Courses for Foreign Communists
  6. Letter of Karl Gailisʼ to Tuure Lehén on the Military Work Tasks of the KPD
  7. Comintern Authorised Resolution on the Tasks of the Illegal Roten Frontkämpfer-Bundes and the Liquidation of Antifa in Germany
  8. Report of the KPD to the Comintern on the Kampfbund gegen den Faschismus in Germany
  9. Secret Action Plan of the Comintern Concerning Conspiracy and the Struggle “against Provocation and Treason”
  10. Memo of an Advisor to the Organisational Department of the Comintern on the Portrayal of Military Policy in the KPD Press
  11. Letter of Alfred, i.e Tuure Lehén, to M[icheal], ie Ossip Piatnitski (?) on Politico-Military Work in Germany

Doc. 112

Theses of Erich Wollenberg on the Military Failure of the German Revolution in 1923

Moscow, 5/7/1924

Typewritten, German. RGASPI, Moscow, 495/25/1365, 16-21. First German publication. Published in Russian in Drabkin/Babičenko/Širinja: Komintern i ideja, p 488–492.

Barrikade in Schiffbek

Theses on the causes of the military failure of the KPD in October 1923, on the Military School, and on Leninism and military work.

A: Causes of the military failure in October 1923.

1): A necessary precondition for overcoming the failures and weaknesses of our military work is to analyse the causes of this failure. The “German October of 23” to a certain extent represents a crystallisation point of all the political and military weaknesses of the Communist Party; therefore an investigation of the causes of the military collapse in October 1923 will most clearly illustrate the sources of failure.

2): The mistake committed by the German party on the military terrain with the organisation of the revolution in October 1923 was not the result of insufficient military and technical expertise of the responsible military workers but first of all the virtually necessary effect of a false political basic orientation.

3): The false basic political orientation of the German party leadership in Autumn 1923 expressed itself from the military standpoint primarily in the following tendencies:

a): The military apparatus was organised within a false front orientation as the result of a false political front orientation (against “fascism in itself” instead of against the state organs of the German bourgeoisie; the military apparatus prepared itself for a struggle with all possible illegal fascist gangs and forgot the Reichswehr and Schupo).

b): The party watered down the role of the military apparatus as the result of a watered down conception of the role of the party (instead of developing the military apparatus of the party as cadres in the assemblage and leadership (of the to be armed) masses as well as self contained combat formations, so called factory hundreds were formed in correspondence with the coalition policy between the KPD and the SPD “left” on the basis of paper resolutions and agreements with “left” SPD leaders and mechanically added together into battalions, regiments and divisions as independent ready made combat formations).

4): To these fundamental failures of military preparation in Autumn 1923 was added the rigidly mechanical transfer of the organisational form, tactics and strategy of regular warfare [Feldkriegs] to the organisation of armed insurrection (the comrades sent to Germany for military work in large part transferred their experiences gained in the civil war struggles against Deniken, Wrangel etc to the preparation of armed insurrection without considering that the struggles against Wrangel etc played out under similar forms and conditions as the battles of the imperialist war with its ready made formations while the proletariat organises its mass formations first in the struggle and through the struggle.)

5): An insufficient tactical and strategic education of the responsible military workers was only somewhat noticeable [in conjunction] with the relatively high quality of German combat troops, especially because the party could dispose of a great number of commissioned (officers and NCOs). It is however probable that with more extensive struggles the German proletariat will also face a deficiency in militarily educated leaders.

6:) As a consequence of the false politico-military basic orientation of the party as well as the weaknesses itemised in 4): and 5): the German party in October organised itself incorrectly from a military perspective. The healthy revolutionary instincts of a broad circle of members and the experience of past civil war struggles had the effect of driving many lower units of the party as well as individual districts to carry out serious real preparations for armed insurrection in opposition to the central leadership. That could not offset that the political party leadership did not know where the real strength of the party and the proletariat lies and looked only to militarist mirage formations, which obviously had to be revealed as cloud patterns in the face of the first concrete Reichswehr solder.

The effect of which was the “justification” of the October catastrophe-alongside bogus political arguments-the supposedly failed military preparation.

B. The Failure of the First Military School

7): The Military School (April to July 1924) is supposed to serve as the overcoming of the “German October” on the military level, the training of the politico-military organisations and leaders for Germany.

8): The first Military School has therefore completely missed its goal, as it has generally created no starting point for real politico-military work in the preparation period (Vorbereitungszeit), but only provided for some of the cadets a degree of military-technical and tactical expertise for the second and perhaps third stage of the civil war struggles after the seizure of power.

9): The causes for the failure of the school are to be found in:

a): The inadequate technical organisation (workspaces missing for weeks on end; course material came sometimes not at all, sometimes at the end of the course).

b): The poor selection of students (among students are to be found comrades with extensive regular and civil war experience, alongside those with less, and comrades who on the basis of their past and their aptitudes don’t come into question for military work).

c): The partly poor selection of instructors and the absence of necessary teaching staff (the first instructor Com.Steinbrück completely failed so that a month was lost; his successor Com.Capitan had great tactical expertise, but lacked any connection between the military and the political, so that instruction on the organisation of insurrection was handled from an exclusively techno-organisational standpoint, and the instruction on tactics and strategy correct with regards to imperialist war, was partly incorrect when applied to civil war. Politico-military instruction was generally not available);

d): The insufficient program (see 13. and 14.) which was also only implemented in its military-technical and not its politico-military points.

10): Therefore, the result of this military school is not a fresh start in the “politico-military overcoming of October”, it rather consists in the danger that the amateur mistake committed in October will be repeated in a new revolutionary crisis, more systematically with some kind of military-scientific foundation.

11): The totally unsatisfactory first military school is however no argument against military schools in general, on the contrary it has precisely illustrated the necessity of a basic politico-military and military-technical education of German military workers.

12): The preconditions for successfully conducting a new military school are:

a): The basic technical organisation of the school;

b): The school must be complemented by a political commissar, as well as a German politico-military consultant;

c): A careful selection of students (only those comrades who actually come into play as military organisers or military leaders must be assigned);

d): Careful selection and sufficient preparation of instructors, so that they can handle not only the military-technical and tactical but also the politico-military and political aspects. The need for a differentiation of classes alongside a (probable) differentiation of students.

C: Leninism and Military Work

13): The foundation of the school as well as of military work must be Leninism, the necessary superstructure: the technical, military organisation, tactics and strategy under the real conditions of civil war.

14): We understand “Leninism and military work” as including:

a): The doctrine of insurrection as an art (the theoretical and practical positions of Lenin-Marx-Engels, the positions of the Second International, Rosa Luxemburg, the German CP etc).

b): The doctrine of the role of the Party and of the military apparatus (as such).

c): The doctrine of the connection between the political revolutionary organisation and its tactics and strategy with the military revolutionary organisation and its tactics and strategy (as such), and its explanation [in relation] to civil war struggles;

d): Critical investigation and evaluation of all civil war struggles, especially from a politico-military perspective (France: 1871 Commune, Russia: 1905 and 1917-21, Germany: the Spartacus struggles, the Bavarian Council Republic, the Ruhr struggles, the Kapp Putsch, the March Action, Hamburg 1923. Hungary: Council Republic. Bulgaria: the revolution of 1922/23 etc, etc.

15): We propose the establishment of a commission for the compilation and editing of materials in accordance with the considerations specified in 14.) on “Leninism and Military Work”, which will eventually also carry out the preparations for a new military school.

Erich Wollenburg.

Moscow, July 5th 1924.

Doc. 139

Report of a Soviet Military Specialist on the Condition and the Tasks of the Communist Military Organisation in Germany

Typewritten in Russian language. RGASPI, Moskau, 495/25/1368, 133–140. First German publication. Published in Russian language in Drabkin, Babičenko, Širinja: Komintern i Ideja pp 521–529.

Strictly Confidential


The period between the failure of the revolution in 1923 and (approximately) the beginning of 1925 was in general political terms a period in which there was still no definitive political clarity over the tempo of events in Germany. Obviously, there were two possibilities: either a new revolutionary wave would break in Germany in the near future or the other-the revolution in Germany would be delayed for some years. This indeterminacy in the whole political situation was reflected in the organisational structure, in the tasks and the character of the work of the military organisation. Admittedly over the course of the year 1924, major organisational changes were implemented within it (The Hundreds and the partisan units were abolished, Groups of Five etc were created) and the area of work was reduced. On the other hand the work of the organisation in this time period and at the start of 1925 itself was marked by the stamp of the work of the organisation in 1923 albeit within a perimeter both restricted and transformed. It possessed a mass character (up to 30000 persons), and significant financial means-15000 dollars monthly, the nature of its work was military first of all, the production and (through seizure from fascists) acquisition of weapons, regular military training etc. The work in the Army and police as well as in fascist formations, and the work in the RFB [Roter Frontkämpferbund], was still carried out, though not to a satisfactory extent.

However, the stabilisation of German capitalism and the recognition of the delay in the development of the German Revolution (beginning of 1925), and that the KPD likewise stands before other immediate tasks, made a modification of the extent and tasks of the military organisation in correspondence with the current political situation and tasks of the Party necessary. The transformations the organisation was compelled to undergo in 1925 are as follows:

a): The monthly budget was cut from 15000 to 8000 (March) and later 6000 dollars.

b): The personnel complement of paid employees was reduced from 90 at the beginning of the year to 23 in October; the cuts affected the centre and the regions equally-28 paid leaders of the organisation in the districts were eliminated;

c): Weapons production was discontinued, procurement activities were curtailed, weapons drills were discontinued;

d): The circulation of the journal of the military organisation Vom Burgerkrieg was reduced from 15000 monthly to 5000 bimonthly.

These changes were obviously not introduced all at once but gradually. At the same time the leadership of the organisation was involved in deliberations on the tasks of the organisation in this period of a decelerated tempo in the unfolding of the revolution, which were confirmed by the Politburo of the CC. These tasks are:

a): demoralisation (work in the Army, police, Reichsbanner and the volunteer military units of the bourgeois);

b): intelligence and counter-intelligence;

c): Rotfrontkampferbund;

d): OD preperation work.

These are the central tasks whose implementation is the current work of the military organisation. The results and status of this work will be evident from the remarks which follow.


a. Demoralisation

[…] Practical work is carried out regarding:

a): dissemination of literature among soldiers and police officers;

b): Formation of links with individual soldiers and police, organisation of communist and sympathiser cells in Army and police units;

c); Provision of the editors of Party press organs as well the Communist Reichstag and Landtag fractions with material on demoralization with the aim of its introduction in the sessions of the latter. […]

Regarding the results of this demoralisation work, one must remember that in the current political situation one cannot expect any effective external manifestation of this work, which first of all concerns the Reichswehr. None the less there is a whole series of indicators which point to a positive impact of the demoralisation work.

[…] Now (October), a delegation of police officers was organised in Berlin to investigate the living conditions of the police in the USSR. The visit of the delegation will obviously be banned by the government, but the fact alone is noteworthy.

The solidarity of police with the Communist Party is also manifest in individual police in various cities sending advance warning (anonymously) over upcoming arrests, searches and general measures of the police organisation against the Party. In a number of places there is often observed a very loyal attitude of the police towards demonstrations and meetings held by the Communist Party. […]

Regarding the Army, as said, considering its seclusion and isolation from social life, any effect of the demoralisation work is only very slightly discernible. The work there is also more difficult than in the police. Still, in recent times there have been cases of fraternisation between soldiers and workers at meetings and demonstrations, the latter noteworthy in itself. There are no Communist cells in the army, though there are connections to individual soldiers who implement our task of literature dissemination. […]

Demoralisation work among the French troops was handed over to the military organisation in May of this year. From October three paid comrades are active in implementation: one French and two German; before October there were seven persons (an organisational slip up). […]

The leadership of demoralization [operations] also procured intelligence; first of all they have provided quite valuable material on the French Army (for the Red Army), an indication that this work is promising.

b. Intelligence and Counter-intelligence

The most important task of intelligence is service for the Party, i.e supplying central and regional party leadership with information on its opponents: Social democracy, the trade unions, the Reichsbanner, state institutions, economic and military formations of the bourgeoisie, political parties etc […].

Unfortunately, this apparatus, despite considerable financial resources left at its disposal has up to now been unable to assemble its activities in all areas in a satisfactory way. This is explained by the lack of a good apparatus leadership, from the refusal of the CC to place an appropriate comrade at the head of this area of activity. Therefore both the possibilities for work and the need on the part of the Party is great.

Even the current weak apparatus provides the Party (and the Russian intelligence apparatus in Berlin) with increasingly valuable information on opponents. […]

The task of the apparatus in counter-intelligence is the struggle against provocateurs in the Party. There is great need for this work. The KPD is a legal party, therefore enemies of the working class easily enter its ranks. […] The apparatus works well.

c. Rotfrontkampferbund

One of the most effective means for the disruption of the Social Democratic Reichsbanner as well as the military formations of the bourgeoisie is or would be the Rotfrontkampferbund. Currently it numbers over 100000 people of which approximately 50% are Communists. Till now, the Party has given the Bund insufficient attention which explains its comparatively low numerical strength […].

d. Preparation Work (OD)

In the first half of the year the military training of members of the organisation was carried out more or less regularly, but as the awareness consolidated in the party masses that one could not expect the approach of a new revolutionary wave in the near future, the interest in military knowledge among the membership declined (there was an analogous phenomena with us in the military organisation in 1907-8). Not only did it decrease the interest in [military] preparation but it also considerably reduced the membership rolls of the organisation. Currently, throughout Germany the persons organised in groups number around 3-5000. All these individuals down to the last man have entered into the Frontkämpferbund and carry out their work through it, on account of which the military organisation (OD) has to a certain extent lost its profile as an illegal organisation. We do not see this phenomena as negative because instead of a small illegal organisation which currently has no political significance there is a large, legal organisation-the Frontkämpferbund. Alongside its main tasks it has recently taken over a certain number of the tasks of the OD: security for rallies, meetings and dissemination of literature (during election campaigns) etc. We are of the opinion, that insofar as the illegal organisation must be maintained at the current time, as this is necessary for the implementation of really illegal work- such as disruption, intelligence, storage of party property (weapons), there is no need to dispose of a large organisation, but a small cadre of reliable comrades . […]


The current military organisation is nowhere near comparable with that of 1924. With the transformation of the political situation the tasks and therefore also the structure of the organisation have changed. We are, however of the opinion, that regarding the organisation as it is currently constituted, it is only correct and in conformity with its reason for existing that it is not only not isolated from the Party (it would be isolated, if it were to currently be hermetically conspiratorial and concern only military expertise) but on the contrary that it enriches and supplements the general life of the Party. Military cadres are also trained through this work.

For the most part future work must be carried out in the same direction as a shift of focus to the work of the Rotfrontkämpferbund. Greater financial resources and manpower must be provided to it then has been the case up to now.

Doc. 168

Letter of the Soviet Emissary in Germany “Albert” [Vissarion Lominadze] to Stalin over the Armed Clashes Between National Socialists and Red Front Fighters in Berlin

Berlin, 27/3/1927

Typewritten, Russian language. RGASPI, Moscow, 558/11/758, 52–56. First publication.

S[trictly] Confidential

Regarding the previous occasion, when I wrote you concerning the clash between fascists and communists on Sunday, March 20th, I did not yet know the details of the situation and therefore could not provide you correct information (I wrote you on Monday morning and had only a morning paper at hand; the details are first clarified in the evening). I wrote to you that the fascists could not claim any particularly glorious victory, even if the Red Front fighters were outnumbered two fold.

Now it has been finally established that fascists amounted to somewhere around 400-500, and the Red Front fighters were only 23. Among the 20 wounded delivered to the hospital there were only 2 fascists. The rest are ours. The incident played out as follows. The band of Red Front fighters set out to Trebin on Sunday. There our youth set upon a small group of fascists and crushed them violently. On the way back the Red Front fighters in Lichterfeld were met by a now larger fascist gang, who attacked the train carrying the Red Front fighters. The fascists stopped the train by pulling all the breaks. The Front fighters barricaded themselves in the train car. The fascists attempted to enter the train car through the windows, roof and doors. The first shot came from the ranks of the Red Front fighters (only we know this information however; the police and the whole press accuse the fascists of the attack and the gun play) a fascist was seriously wounded by this. The fascists naturally likewise with gunshots. They could first enter the train car, after the Front fighters fired their last bullet. From there the reckoning begins. It must be said to the honour of the comrades that they waged a heroic defence. All are convinced that if the communists had been at least three times as many as they were, things would have turned out badly for the fascists.

What echo the fascist attack found with the Berlin workers in the light of day could be seen on Tuesday, May 22nd. On that day a demonstration took place in Charlottenburg. The site of the demonstration-the city periphery is a stronghold of the fascists. It was expected that 5 to 10 thousand workers would attend. In the demonstration, however, at least 30000 people actually participated. And I don’t even include in that the many thousands of workers with women and children who accompanied the demonstrators on every residential block throughout its course. The police were present in vast numbers. At the beginning of the demonstration they had already had two major clashes with the police. One in Weber-Wejc, where a Red Front fighter also shot first (as the Party authority was able to determine). However, the police there conducted themselves with insolence and provocation. As the police (around 14 to 16 men) wanted to respond with gunfire, they were overwhelmed, disarmed and beaten by the crowd. Afterwards a larger body of police arrived (60 men) in support which opened fire on the demonstrators. Here, a non Party worker was killed and several wounded. The second clash happened in another district of the city. Here the workers were not shot but struck with the flat side of sabres and rubber truncheons. Here, the initiative was completely on the side of the police. Here, also Thälmann was wounded with a rubber truncheon. Actually, Thälmann was struck due to a misunderstanding by his own people, but we have discussed this and not stated it publicly. Already at the demonstration Thälmann arrived with a bloody wound. The comrades alongside him in the clash say that he fought like a man possessed. Sadly, I was not fated to witness both of these great clashes. At that time I found myself at the other end of the demonstration. The demonstration went excellently. Such an infuriated, combative mood, almost marked with wild savagery as there was among the workers on that day I have never before seen in Germany. Not for nothing did Vorwärts the next day speak with hardly concealed fear of the rampant “mob” ([that is our] comrades). The Red Front Fighters stayed very disciplined. I was witness to a third clash soon after the demonstration. As the police began to shoot-first in the air, then partially also into the crowd (in the legs so as to never seriously injure)-, everyone ran except the Red Front fighters. They stood like a wall. Only the youngest of them ran onto the curb, the entire demonstration did not move once from its position. The tenacity of the Red Front Fighters exercised an immediate effect on the “fellow travellers” and these turned back to the site of the demonstration. Six seriously injured, of which two died, a dozen with real injuries, 30 men lightly injured-that is the balance sheet of the police massacre on that evening. I don’t even mention the many dozens struck by truncheon and sabre blows-there were over a hundred of these!

And despite all this the worker masses were not frightened, but even more enraged. It was really a rare and extraordinary demonstration. All should have heard how thousands of workers screamed from one throat “revenge, revenge, revenge”. The immense march was lit by torches (the demonstration ran from 8 to 11 [in the evening]), accompanied by the roar of drums and the enraged screaming of the masses, and was interrupted every 10 to 15 minutes sometimes by exchanges of fire, sometimes by small clashes. Perhaps you think I got carried away by the demonstrations, but that is really untrue. On the second day, the whole press was consumed by tendentious and panicky accounts of the events. But you already know that yourself, so I won’t write about the press commentaries and the appearance of the s[ocial] d[emocratic] minister Grzesinski in the Landtag.

On Thursday a new demonstration was organised. […] Many Russian comrades who were not at the demonstration, told me that the CC was acting improperly with this multitude of demonstrations. In general that seems correct. In this case, however, it was already a question of honour for the Communist Party, to go on the street after the police bloodbath on Tuesday. Should the Communists allow themselves to be frightened? So the question was posed. And the Thursday demonstration gave the most decisive and compelling answer.

On the same day, the fascists attended their own demonstration in Tempelhof. The result was quite miserable. First, instead of a demonstration they held a meeting in some pub. Second, not a single fascist dared to attend this meeting in uniform! Third, only 80 people showed up!! Fourth, they held their meeting under the protection of seven huge police trucks which blocked traffic on the street. As a result the glory of the fascists very quickly faded away. The prestige of our party, trust in it and respect for it, doubtless grew in these days. The Rote Fahne is not to be found anywhere in recent days, the edition is already sold out in the early morning (our printer, however, could not increase our print run by more than 5000 for various “technical” reasons), the edition of Welt am Abend was recently increased to 12000. Yesterday was a recruitment day for the Red Front Fighters. I do not yet know the results but I am certain the recruitment went well.

This whole story created a good basis for the political preparation of May 7-8th. In Berlin as well as in the provincial districts our party organisations have approached the s[ocial] d[emocratic] and trade union organisations with the goal of a common action on 7-8th May. In the province (I believe in Halle), this offer was rejected. It will be rejected in Berlin as well. It is still a correct tactical step on our part. We can only profit from such an application of the united front tactic. […]

2: You can yourself imagine how hard it is to work here, without receiving instructions from you of any kind on very important and controversial questions. I still do not know your opinion on the slogan of “workers control”. […] I would emphatically request that you neither encrypt or encode letters-I read them in the office there is no danger of discovery. And because the post arrives and leaves on Monday, time for decryption is totally lacking and I must accordingly make mistakes, considering what is involved.

For accuracy: T.K.

Doc. 188

Proposals of Josef Gutsche, August Mayer and Gerhard Schott for the Improvement of the Politico-Military Work of the KPD

Berlin, 16/7/1928.

Typewritten, German language. RGASPI, Moscow, 495/25/1376, 136–137. First German publication. Published in Russian in Drabkin/Babičenko/Širinja: Komintern i ideja, S. 532–534.

Dear Comrades!

In the attachment we present you with proposals on the politico-military work of the German Party which we already presented to the Politburo on May 22nd of this year, without having received an answer up to now.

This work comes from our conviction that the experiences of the previous revolutionary struggles of the German workers, seen from the politico-military perspective, has been too little considered. This opinion of ours applies especially to the great movements of 1923 in Germany.

Therefore, we have attempted to outline a series of the most essential lessons of the German Party on the politico-military terrain in the present work. The previous M [military] work in Germany suffered primarily from too little mass character. The M-work which the Party has carried out up to the present day, did not act sufficiently within the Party and additionally among the workers. The awareness of its primary necessity did not sufficiently penetrate outside of the small circles who in part carried out or attempted to carry out very valuable work. The work must remain practically meaningless, because its closest possible unity with the total political work of the Party has not been understood. However, it is exactly this work that only has meaning when it is mass work.

If the slogans of the Party and Comintern: “struggle against the war danger” and “defence of the Soviet Union” are not to remain mere propaganda slogans, but should serve in the activation of the Party and broader worker strata the Party must take up all necessary work in a systematic way. The notion of military education is not dead in the Party. Many comrades in Germany today seriously occupy themselves with military sciences, studying the history of the revolutionary struggles. These valuable revolutionary forces however find no base of support for further development worthy of the name in the way in which the Party has handled this question in recent years.

Moreover, the work of certain responsible comrades is treated as a personal monopoly. The efforts of individual valuable forces for the encouragement of a consistent and systematic quality of work in the above mentioned area, so as to further broaden its range of action, is as good as not noticed. We request that the responsible committee of the 6th World Congress take the attached work into consideration, and use it as material for the development of the German and international politico-military area of responsibility. In opposition to the widely held opinion that the German Party has performed excellently in these areas, we are of the opinion that the facade of the work has left its core too far in the background. We point especially to the overestimation of the “Roten Frontkämpfer Bundes” as a real factor in combat. The RFB can never replace the m-work of the Party.

The memorandum submitted by us is kept intentionally one sided. It should only be merged with the chosen political line of the Comintern.

With Communist Greetings,

Josef Gutsche.
August Mayer.
Gerhard Schott.

Doc. 230

Resolution of the Politburo of the CP of the Soviet Union on an Expanded Offering of Military and Special Courses for Foreign Communists

Moscow, 25/10/1929

Typewritten in Russian. RGASPI, Moscow, 17/162/7, 185-86. First publication in German. Published in Russian language in Adibekov/Anderson/Širinja u.a.: Politbjuro i Komintern, S. 611–612.

6: the question of Com.Unšlicht, (PB from 5.9.1929, Protokoll Nr. 96, P. 8) (Com. Unšlicht, Pjatnitzki).


A: The ECCI is authorised to:

1: To open Polish instructor courses with a course length of nine months for 30 students;

2: To open courses for the German language student group with a duration of five months for 30 persons;

3: To also train a French speaking student group of 30 persons over the course of five months;

4: To expand the existing Lenin courses through the incorporation of new military disciplines;

5: To integrate military disciplines within the six month courses of the CYI[Communist Youth International];

6: To prepare an English group for England and the USA in the next year;

B: The Revolutionary Military Council is ordered to reduce the total number of [military] academy students from the East in the coming year by 129 persons, and to restrict the number [of those to be further trained] to 200, and in fact to proceed with the training of 148 Chinese, 39 Mongolians and 13 Tuvans. For this [to be accomplished, the following measures are to be implemented]:

1; The ECCI proposes that the 30 Chinese students excluded from the universities on health and other grounds be transferred to its disposition.

2; The Revolutionary Military Council proposes that the 30 Chinese students not employed by the ECCI on general grounds, having terminated their university terms in this year, be transferred to command posts.

C: With regards to the budget there will be provided:

1: For the training of Western people in special courses 151.750 rubles. 28.800 American dollars.

2: For the training of Eastern people in special courses 469.652,70 rubles, 10.800 American dollars.

3: For the military academy training of three Germans, 10.521,4 rubles.

Corresponding to the enclosed cost listing, thus in total, 631.924,15 rubles, 39.600 American dollars.

Abstracts sent to: Com. Unšlicht - all; Com. Pjatnitzki - all; Com. Brjuchanov - „c“.

Doc. 233

Letter of Karl Gailisʼ to Tuure Lehén on the Military Work Tasks of the KPD

[Moscow], end of 1929/beginning of 1930

Typewritten, Russian. RGASPI, Moscow, 495/25/1377, 96. First publication in German

Abs[olutely] secret

On the basis of an exchange of opinions at the last session of the military commission, as well as an additional discussion with Com. Berzin, I will be glad to outline a draft on advice regarding the military work of the Party, in order to submit it to the Commission for review after I have discussed it with you and then translate it into German. As I made the outline for a letter, it occurred to me that I cannot compile it without your help. I could only write on cadre and sabotage. On intelligence and demoralisation and likewise on the RFB, which also must be mentioned in the letter, I cannot write, because I am not informed.

I am sending you the outline of the letter and when you have time (in the upcoming days) come by and we will discuss the question and deal with the division of labor then. My opinion is that the whole letter must be kept very brief and only set tasks.

Doc. 250

Comintern Authorised Resolution on the Tasks of the Illegal Roten Frontkämpfer-Bundes and the Liquidation of Antifa in Germany

Moscow, 2/11/1930

Typewritten in German with handwritten additions, RGASPI, Moscow, 495/25/1369, 309–313. Published in Russian language in Dam’e/Komolova/Korčagina u.a.: Komintern protiv fašizma, S. 247–251.



I: General

In the current situation, which is characterised by the extraordinary sharpening of the class struggle, due to the growing thrust of fascism against the working class and the increase of the revolutionary upsurge and in connection with the transition of the RFB into illegality, the character of the activity of the RFB itself must essentially change. As before its central political task remains the struggle against fascism. The political line of this anti-fascist struggle which is fixed in the resolution of the Politburo of the CC of the KPD, also applies for the RFB. As before, the RFB must bear the character of an extra-party mass organisation, despite illegality. But while it earlier mainly appeared in public in the form of independent deployments and dispositions, now the bulk of its activity must lie in participation in the organisation of a broad proletarian self defence on the basis of the factories. The cohesive deployment of uniformed RFB detachments remains part of the general proletarian self defence movement.

II: Restructuring of the RFB in the Factories

The organisation of proletarian self defence must occur first of all on the basis of the factories, because the factory must be the starting point of the revolutionary mass action of the workforce.

The urgent need for the repositioning of the RFB is already clear from this. Furthermore, the RFB must now consider the struggle against factory fascism and employer terror as one of its most important tasks. […]

The decisive line on the repositioning of the RFB in the factories does not mean the dissolution of the residential district organisation, the residential district organisation continues to hold its own in covering the strata of workers who don’t work in the factories, like the unemployed, traders, self employed craft workers or even workers in small factories. (simultaneously the necessary aggregation of RFB comrades at the employment offices must be implemented through the residential district organisation)

III: The RFB and Proletarian Self Defence

The RFB is a self defence organisation of the German proletariat. Even though, thanks to its traditions and its great popularity among the broadest masses, the working population call upon it to play a leading role in the general self defence movement, it is still incorrect to consider it as the one organisation which has a monopoly on the organisation of proletarian self defence. […]

The leadership of mass demonstrations and other mass actions in which the organisation of proletarian self defence is a practical necessity, is a solid leading aspect of its necessary tasks as a conscious core, which appear in the form of initiative groups, demo stewards etc. But this goal does not require any special “cadre organisation” of proletarian self defence alongside the Party, and to consider the RFB as such a “cadre organisation” is a mistake. The core of proletarian self defence is formed first of all by the Party cells, and furthermore the Aktiv grouped around the cell which emerges on the basis of the centralisation of the most active elements from the different revolutionary workers organisations of the factory or residential district concerned occurring through everyday mass action, and also those non party, Christian and Social Democratic workers who are ready for active participation, in the revolutionary action concerned. The factory groups of the RFB must actively participate in the work of these Aktivs as well as all other measures of self defence (Red factory militias, strike posts etc).

IV: Education in Self Defence

Aside from propaganda on self defence, which must not be restricted to the membership of revolutionary organisations, but must be carried out among the broadest masses of the working population, it is necessary to implement among the membership of the RFB as well as generally among the Aktiv of proletarian self defence a special schooling in the practical questions of self defence, particularly in the tactics of fighting in the street and against the police, fascist and social fascist raiding squads. The RFB groups are advised to carry out physical exercise as one aspect of the current requirements of the struggle. Before any demonstration or other action, where a clash with the fascist and social fascist raiding squads is anticipated, the leading Aktiv and the broadest possible worker masses must be instructed in detail on their conduct. The RFB must actively participate in this work.

V: RFB and KPD

The transformed relations and new tasks of the RFB, especially the task of repositioning in the factory, requires the accomplishment of a decisive turn in its relation to the Party in the sense that the connection to the Party is not only restricted to the organs at the top, as was the case previously, whereby the connection especially in the district, subdistrict and territorial groups was rather lose, while now a tight connection and rather continuous coordination of the work of the base organisations, especially the factory cells of the Party and the factory groups of the RFB is to be accomplished. […]

VI: The RFB, the Reichsbanner and Fascist Organisations

In the current moment growing oppositional moods are making themselves manifest among the worker members of the Reichsbanner, demonstrating the increasing activity among these strata of the working class and the advantageous base for a successful work of separation of these elements from the influence of the social fascists and their conquest for the Red class front. This work must now be considered by the RFB as one of its most important tasks to be resolved first of all in the factories. At the same time one must pay special attention to the manoeuvre of left Social Democracy which seeks to soften the growing discontent of the worker membership of the Reichsbanner towards the black-red-gold coalition leadership with the demand for the foundation of a purely social democratic Reichsbanner organisation.

The increased activity of the fascists, particularly the National Socialists, who make themselves always more noticeable in the factories, places special tasks before the factory groups of the RFB, where the main emphasis is currently not to be put on the physical struggle for example with the slogan “smash the fascists, wherever you find them”, but must be found in political mass work for the separation of the worker elements of the fascist organisations and their conquest for the RFB and the revolutionary struggle in general.

VII: RFB and Antifa

Following the Antifa also having been made illegal, the question is posed as to whether the Antifa should be further maintained in illegality alongside the RFB and the Roten Jungfront. While there are no primary reservations regarding the continuation of Antifa, its organisational continuation alongside the illegal Roten Jungfront on a national scale is not practical, because the continuation of an illegal organisation involves great difficulties, and because the existence of two organisations with the same tasks, cannot be justified by any practical considerations, and can only led itself to serious friction between these organisations. Therefore, the transfer of the members into the Rote Jungfront is to be recommended as the older and despite its relative weakness by far the stronger organisation or other revolutionary youth organisation.

The transfer of the members of Antifa into other revolutionary organisations, recommended on purely practical grounds, in no way entails the loss of the ideas and the excellent revolutionary agitation and revolutionary tradition of Antifa, which on the contrary must be kept alive in revolutionary agitation and propaganda. The Communist Jugendverband must involve itself much more strongly than previously in the support and leadership of the work of the Roten Jungfront and in the anti-fascist struggle among the working youth.

Doc. 255

Report of the KPD to the Comintern on the Kampfbund gegen den Faschismus in Germany

Berlin, 20/12/1930

Typewritten, German. RGASPI, Moscow, 495/293/118, 1-2. First publication.



Report on the Kampfbund gegen den Faschismus.

In the middle of October the creation of the Kampfbund gegen den Faschismus was seriously taken in hand. From the first days, this work suffered under serious financial difficulties. Only completely provisional material could be produced (statutes, guidelines, membership cards and badges). All agitation and propaganda material must for the most part be put together by the newly created lower units of the Kampfbund itself. Moreover, in the first weeks a not insignificant number of district leaderships of the Party were barely or not at all concerned with the organisation of the Kampfbund and were thus responsible for a considerable waste of time.

With a few exceptions (Berlin, Saxony, Thuringia etc), the work was first pushed more strongly at the beginning of December. It is also the case that in the lower Party bodies, Antifa, RFB, it is necessary to overcome a serious lack of clarity. Within the Party membership the usual judgments were along the lines: another new outlet-that is pointless, it is banned anyway-liquidate it. The RFB to some extent combatted(!) the Kampfbund gegen den Faschismus as unfair competition.

Today, these difficulties can be considered as overcome on the whole.

The situation in the Ruhr area is more concerning. There the responsible comrades of the district leadership, have designated the released squads as simply RGO groups, thereby denaturing the character of these squads as defence organisations.

Despite the initial politico-organisational and chronic financial deficiencies, in a few weeks around 40000 working people are organised in the Kampfbund gegen den Faschismus, almost 80 to 90% of them non Party, and indeed those who never before have entered into a proletarian organisation. In different areas, especially in the countryside, it has been successful at breaking into the ranks of the SPD and/or the Reichsbanner, and indeed everywhere the bloody provocations of the Nazis provide the precondition of concrete reference points for our agitation.

In different cities like Breslau, Naumberg etc, there have already been common struggle demonstrations against fascism and our slogans were issued among them.

No.1 of the periodical Die Fanfare appeared in an edition of 50000, and sold very well. From January 1st, Fanfare will appear biweekly with an anticipated increase in circulation. It can be assumed without exaggeration, that by the end of the month or beginning of January at the latest, 50000 members will be registered, especially as there are still hundreds of “wild” proletarian defence organisations like “Workers Defence” or “Antifascist defence Alliance”, of whose existence we are gradually becoming aware.

In order to achieve a stronger political activation within the Kampfbund, the reinforcement of the Kampfbund functionaries with qualified Party comrades is unavoidable. In time, instructors from the federal leadership will be located in all districts, in order to push forward the work of the Kampfbund gegen den Faschismus.

Berlin, December 20th, 1930.

Fritz Lange

Doc. 268

Secret Action Plan of the Comintern Concerning Conspiracy and the Struggle “against Provocation and Treason”

Moscow, 28/7/1931

Typewritten, Russian. RGASPI, Moscow, 495/25/176/, 51-4.


Questions of Conspiracy and the Struggle Against Provocation and Treason

I. In a whole series of sections conspiracy is very poorly ordered. Crude violations of the ground rules of conspiracy are continually repeated anew. […]

II. All sections are obligated to implement measures in the struggle against non conspiratorial conduct, treason and provocation, on the basis of their experiences as well as those of other sections, in which the following points must be taken as the foundation.

1: The struggle against all manifestations of non conspiratorial conduct, first of all against chit chat, must be strengthened; the security of [conspiratorial] meeting points and addresses must receive more attention; in correspondence it is necessary that poor ciphers and generally known methods of chemical writing not come into play in conspiratorial matters.

2: The number of underground connections of responsible leading Party workers must be reduced to a necessary minimum.

3: With regards to underground printing presses it is necessary that only a restricted number of persons (1-2) be informed. If more than the necessary minimum are aware of the underground printing press, then the location of this printing press must be immediately changed.

4: It is essential to verify the underground Party apparatus, as well as to strengthen it through reliable and sufficiently vetted comrades.

5: Greater caution in the selection of Party workers by the commanders of comrades in the Party schools is necessary.

6: The apparatus for the implementation of border transfers of Party workers must be reduced where it has become inflated (e.g. Finland, Lettland).

7: The border transfer of comrades who immigrate abroad for political reasons, must be separated from the routes on which Party comrades travel abroad.

8: The responsibility for both the transport [of goods] and the transfer of Party members over the border must be assigned to individual comrades.

9: The political migrants among the Party members are to be forbidden from correspondence with Party members and Communist Youth, who live in their homeland, and also private correspondence on Party affairs in general.

10: Appropriate measures are to be implemented, so that suspicious persons who come from abroad [into the Soviet Union], are not able to settle in Moscow, Leningrad or the border zone.

11: Specific instruction on how to better carry out conspiracy is to be worked out in the M-L School, the KUNMZ, the LOKUMNZ and KUTV.

12: All provocateurs and traitors are to be unconditionally expelled from the Party without exception and are to be boycotted in both prison and freedom.

13: All who have given consent to cooperation with the secret police, are to be unconditionally expelled from the Party, without consideration for the motive to which they refer.

14: All disguised provocateurs and traitors are to be held accountable through the application of Party sanctions, up to expulsion from the Party.

15: After the exposure of the provocateurs and traitors in the VKP(B) and other sections of the KI who were not exposed by Party transfer, those who were silent concerning reports and information received on provocation and treason are to be held accountable.

16: In the struggle against the violation of conspiratorial norms, against provocateurs and traitors, all members of the Party and the youth organisation must be relied upon. [...]

17: To educate Party members on the harmfulness of a violation of conspiratorial norms, it must be emphasised that those who violate the rules of conspiracy, thereby facilitate the secret police in implementing espionage [against the Party], and determining the plans of the Party.

18: During the struggle against non compliance with conspiratorial norms, a struggle must be waged simultaneously against those comrades, who weaken party work under the cover of conspiracy, often refuse mass work and even cease it completely.

19: If Party and youth organisation members as well as non Party workers are to be educated on the harm which provocation causes to the revolutionary struggle of the working class, it is necessary to evoke a mass feeling of contempt towards provocateurs and traitors, so that provocateurs and informers are driven not only from the workers organisations but from the factories.

20: If in a particular location, the connection of an organisation with provocateurs and its close relation to traitors is uncovered, the composition of the organisation there must be verified […] (in the most extreme case the organisation is dissolved).

21: All rumours concerning provocation must be rigorously investigated. […]

23: Because in recent years, in connection with the increase in unemployment, the secret services have directed their special attention to the unemployed, in order to use their difficult material situation to recruit provocateurs and informers into their circles, it is necessary to direct an extreme vigilance towards work among the unemployed, in order to expose the provocative activity of the secret services among them.

24: In the self defence against provocation and for the exposure of provocateurs and traitors, which obligates all sections to construct a counter espionage, under no circumstances, allows them to send Party comrades into the secret police. As a rule the Party members so deployed absorb the secret police atmosphere, and after a certain time themselves become secret police agents.

25: All sections are obligated to publish a pamphlet on questions of conspiracy, over the rules of conduct following a Party Congress as well as over the struggle against provocation and treason […]

Memo 1

Memo of an Advisor to the Organisational Department of the Comintern on the Portrayal of Military Policy in the KPD Press

Moscow, 3.1.1932

Typewritten in Russian. RGASPI, Moscow, 495/25/1347, 30–33.

Critique of some articles in October

Over the course of the years 1930/31, a series of articles appeared in the KPD periodical October, concerning the questions of the defence of the SU. These articles correctly attempted to mobilise the proletariat of the capitalist states for the defence of the USSR and to review the concrete forms of aid which should be provided by the foreign proletariat to the USSR both in struggle against the threat of an interventionist war and during the course of its development. However, because the content and the composition of its argument was put together by the magazine in a politically dubious way it could do no little harm to the cause of the defence of the Union.

The authors do not restrict themselves to considering the questions of the defence of the USSR in general political terms, they do not restrict themselves to the preparation of proletarian public opinion for a possible violation of borders, with the objective of self defence by the Red Army on the territory of it adversaries, but begin by analysing the possible military forces of the adversaries of the USSR, giving characteristics of individual countries, assess border territories of the USSR and neighbouring countries as possible theatres of war, analyse the relation of both land and sea forces, mention possible operational alignments of the activities of both the enemies of the USSR and the Red Army, and express in their writings the opinions of the politico-military circles of the Red Army, with which the authors of the article Ernst SCHNELLER, WAGNER (Otto Braun), and KURT FISCHER (both of the latter were students of the military academy) have contact.

This, doubtless to a certain extent, revealed our objectives to our enemies and clarified their information on our intentions, because the journal October is not subject to our censorship. The harm of such an article can be most clearly seen, from the reflection of the authors on how the Red Army intends to defend Leningrad. The authors indicate that in order for the Red Army to defend the city, it must occupy Latvia, Estonia and southern Finland, whereby it is emphasised that this would be relatively easy to accomplish.

Such statements are currently very damaging, because they hand the bourgeoisie of these countries new material for chauvinist agitation and deception and demoralisation of the working class in the Baltic and at the same time incite these countries to strengthen their armament and put great weight on the army.

The essays of “Moritz” regarding how the proletariat of foreign countries should express its support for the Red Army, must also be seen as extremely mistaken and harmful. Alongside the correct statements that is important to call the masses to struggle against the use of their own industry for a war against the USSR and to obstruct the transport of the men and material of adversaries of the USSR through their own territory, the author provides open instruction, on how this is to happen, in which he recommends sabotage teams of 2 to 5 persons be formed on the railways, in the post office, in the telegraph [network], the chemical and metallurgical industries, among sailors, on the docks etc, in order to destroy lighthouses and communications links, blow up bridges, organise train derailments etc.

It is completely obvious that the placement of such instructions in the legal October is totally inappropriate at the current time. […]

From the above the following conclusions must be drawn:

I: It is correct for both October and Żołnierz rewolucji, to present concrete materials, which illustrate the preparations for an attack by the bourgeois countries on the USSR, to unmask the designated military organisations, the roles of individual countries, the arms build up, the strength of the armies, the construction of communications routes and arms factories, and even attempt to penetrate the plans for military attacks on the USSR.

II: To clarify the necessity of aid for the USSR and its Red Army and to a great extent indicate the concrete forms of this aid (armed uprising, political strike, partisan activity, work stoppages in the transport and war industry).

III: The most blatant political mistake is the placement of materials which highlight

  1. the possible operational objectives of the Red Army

  2. the question of the possible occupation of neighbouring territories. This provokes objective anti Soviet sentiments in these countries and creates the moral basis for the increase of armament and a bloc with the major leaders.

  3. the association of the successes of the Red Army with the existence of national revolutionary movements on the borders of neighbouring states (West White Russia, West Ukraine, Afghanistan), because these materials objectively bear the character of denunciations by the bourgeoisie against allies of the USSR in a war of intervention.

IV: The periodicals in future, should alongside the introduction of expose campaigns, as specified in Point 1, concentrate on the study of the historical experience of armed insurrections and the current events of the armed class and national revolutionary struggles on the foundations of the teachings of Marxism-Leninism and also on the various general questions of the preparation and implementation of armed insurrections. Specifically on the questions of street fighting and partisan action as well as demonstration tactics.

Doc. 300

Letter of Alfred, i.e Tuure Lehén, to M[icheal], ie Ossip Piatnitski (?) on Politico-Military Work in Germany

Moscow, 19/11/1932

Typewritten in Russian language. RGASPI, Moscow, 495/25/1335, 115. First publication in German. Published in Russian in Damʼe/Komolova/Korčagina: Komintern protiv fašizma, S. 288–289.

Com M[icheal, ie Ossip Piatnitski?]

The German comrades who are concerned with the struggle against provocations in the illegal apparatus of the KPD, lament the incorrect work methods of the GPU organs. There are a series of cases in which these organs without the knowledge or consent of the leading Party organs have given work assignments to individual Party members, who have integrated this work with their Party work.

One of these cases is represented as follows. A girl worked in one of the street cells of Berlin-a domestic worker, who attracted the attention of the cell members, because she had some secrets that she did not want to share with other cell members, disappeared many times for long periods and gave evasive and contradictory explanations regarding this. The cell members now began to investigate the secrets of this girl on their own initiative, and found among other things that she worked as a domestic worker for an official of the IA (political police), which further strengthened their suspicions. They further passed this report to the leading organs of the Party. Upon which there was first received a report from the side of the GPU organs, according to which this girl worked for the GPU.

This example, which is not the only one, shows how dangerous these work methods are, and that it is necessary to immediately seize upon all means, so that such a “combination” of Party work with that of the GPU organs does not occur in the future.



  1. The following documents are translations of materials included in Weber, Drabkin, Bayerlein. Deutschland, Russland, Komintern II. Dokumente (1918–1943), De Gruyter, 2015.