Statement of Z. Szanto about Bela Kun's “double-dealing," 29 June 1936.
Statement of com. Z. Szanto.[i]
A particular feature of Bela Kun’s behavior is that he supports different positions at the Comintern meetings on the Hungarian questions than he does during private conversations with us. At the meetings with com. Ercoli[ii] and in the Secretariat, he declared that he supported the line of the 7th Comintern Congress, that the CC CP of Hungary had made mistakes in implementing the 7th Congress’s decisions, and that he was ready to assume partial responsibility for it.
[But] outside of those meetings, he expressed reservations regarding political mistakes committed by the CC CP of Hungary. His opinion was that Gross, who wanted to discontinue his work in the Hungarian Communist Party, had to be relieved of the work in the CC, and that instead of him, Szanto had to be co-opted, and then everything would be all right. He was of the opinion that the Comintern is not always fair towards the CP of Hungary, since other parties (in particular, in the Balkan countries) had accomplished much less than the CP of Hungary. “Ercoli in particular has no right to criticize [our party], because the CP of Italy did nothing to prevent the Abyssinian war.”[iii] When Soviet newspapers published the news about the electoral victory of the Popular Front in France[iv] and we were discussing it, com. Kun said that it was too early to celebrate. [He said that] the victory of the Popular Front was very profitable for Hitler. When asked, what he meant by that, he explained that the Popular Front government would pursue an anti-war policy, and that was exactly what Hitler needed.
At the 7 May meeting of the Secretariat, Kun declared that he would work honestly for the Communist Party of Hungary and that he would support the new leadership as much as he could. Several days later, however, he was saying something very different. He told [us] that he had been received by com. Kaganovich, that he had informed com. Kaganovich[v] that he had been without work for eight months, that the Comintern did not give him any work, that he was badgered in the Comintern, that com. Manuilsky was opposed to him being sent as a speaker to party meetings. According to him, com. Kaganovich was very indignant at this, promised to find him an appropriate job in the party, and called the M[oscow Party] C[ommittee] and suggested that com. Kun again be sent as a speaker.
The next day he told me that he had been received by com. Stalin in presence of com. Molotov, Mikoian, Andreev.
According to him, he told com. Stalin that he was being badgered in the Comintern as the “result of squabbles.” Nobody could point out any of his political mistakes, or prove them in writing. For 8 months, he had been promised a job, but these promises had not been fulfilled. It was Manuilsky who took a particularly unjust position towards him. He badgered him, but when he saw him (Kun) after his illness, he smothered him with kisses. “What kind of a kiss was that?” asked Stalin. “A kiss of Judas,” I [Kun] replied. “Then I told [him] that they told me that I was a publicist. This was said by the people who could never write a decent article.” “Everyone laughed a lot when I said that a former Trotskyist was accusing me of demonstrations against the ECCI. They asked me, what were these demonstrations. I said, that it was when I did not stand up when Manuilsky appeared [on the podium at the Comintern Congress] and did not applaud him. This caused a great laughter, but I added that later this accusation was directed against only one other CPH member.” “Then Stalin asked me if it was possible to again settle my problems with the Comintern. I answered that under no conditions would I like to remain in the Comintern and that I wanted to work in the VKP(b). Then Stalin ordered that I speak with Ezhov.”
“Ezhov was empowered to say that the CC had nothing against me.” “I told Ezhov that I was feeling as if I was born again, by finally having an opportunity to speak with real Bolsheviks. I told him that now, when I did not belong to the ECCI apparatus anymore, I felt like a man who had stepped out of a dirty closet into a pine-tree forest.”
“You will see that, in a while, I will again be occupying a leading position in the Comintern. And it will happen very soon. Zinoviev also sent me to the Urals, but I came back.”[vi]
“When Pyatnitsky and I refused to let Zinoviev into the building at a time when Zinoviev was still the Comintern’s President, Ercoli, who was then at the head of the French and Italians, made a fuss.”
“The ECCI apparatus is saturated with suspicious elements. I frequently told this to Manuilsky. His and Kuusinen’s milieu is not free of such people."
The Paris émigré newspaper “Khabud Kho”/ “Libre Parol” published several reports about com. Kun’s trip to Spain which supposedly did not take place. When we discussed it and said that the article had a White Guard scent, Kun told us that this was initiated by Manuilsky. “How dare you say such things about Manuilsky?” I [Szanto] said. “No, I do not mean that Manuilsky wrote it himself, but it was someone from his circle,” replied Kun. “Maybe you think that it was Gere?”[vii] I asked. “No, I am not saying that it was Gere exactly, there are others,” he replied.
The next time I had to go see Kun, Gross was with him. They were talking about Moskvin. Kun said that the reason that Moskvin had come to the Comintern was that they could not give him another job. Then Gross added that com. Moskvin had been removed from the GPU because he engaged in “self-criticism” there. “Moskvin did not understand that the GPU was not an organ where one could engage in ‘self-criticism.’” Bela Kun jeered at the Comintern leaders’ inability. When I pointed out to him that he was mistaken, that foolish people could not make good policies, and that the Comintern policy is correct, that there had been achievements, he replied by laughing [and stating] that the Comintern policy originates from Stalin. I told him that he should not tell me that Stalin was consciously selecting foolish people to promote his policy. “Not selecting,” said Kun, “but Stalin too cannot appoint able people to all positions.”
He told me that the CC VKP appointed Gross to do a very important job. “You see, the Comintern removes him, and the CC gives him an important, responsible and very secret job, which it would not give to either Moskvin or Chernomordik.” “So you think that Gross is more reliable than Moskvin?” I asked. “No, I do not think so,” replied Kun. “Moskvin is reliable, but he lacks adequate abilities. But Chernomordik is not so reliable, because he is a former Trotskyist.”
He said that one could do nothing to Gross. The ICC cannot make short work of him [simply] because he did not applaud to Manuilsky.
At that moment the telephone rang. Com. Kun picked up the phone. He asked the person who was calling: “Did they summon you to the ICC too, because you did not applaud?” “Yes, I think that you were questioned again today because you did not applaud for Manuilsky.” When he finished the conversation, he told me that he had spoken with Gross. Gross was already gossiping all around the city that he was being summoned to the ICC only because he did not applaud to Manuilsky. I told him what com. Rudas[viii] told me about Gross. (I have already orally informed com. Anvelt about this).
Com. Kun accused me of “blabbing out” the resolutions and the content of conversations of the Secretariat, of conducting a campaign against him and of arguing with him. He told me that I was acting the same way as Sas[ix] did. When I took exception to these unheard of accusations by saying that he would not be able to accuse me of provocation, he said that, in his opinion, I was an honest man who acted according to sincere convictions.
29 June 1936.
Signed: Z. Szanto.
Translated from German.
True to the original:
p. p. /Ya. Anvelt/
21 August 1936. I made 3 copies and sent them personally to com. Manuilsky.
RGASPI, f. 495, op. 74, d. 101, ll. 38-42.
Copy in Russian. Typewritten.
[i] Zoltan Szanto (alias – Janosh Salai, “Elek”). Born in 1893, he was a member of the Social Democratic Party of Hungary from 1908-1918. In 1918, he joined the CPH. In 1919, he was deputy head of the Political Department of the Hungarian Red Army Main Command. Later he headed the secret apparatus of the CPH’s Foreign Bureau. In 1935-1936 and 1938-1939, he was a CPH representative in the Comintern. In 1945, he left the USSR for Hungary.
Z. Szanto’s statement was forwarded to the ICC as part of the gathering of materials for session of a special commission on the B. Kun case. Anvelt, the ICC secretary, sent a copy of the statement, written in German, to Dimitrov on 5 July 1936. He sent a copy of the translation to the CC VKP for Ezhov’s information, on 19 July 1936.
[ii] The meetings of Ercoli’s Secretariat devoted to intra-party and cadres questions concerning the CP of Hungary took place on 10 and 29 March 1936.
[iii] Refers to the war unleashed by Italy against Abyssinia (Ethiopia) (October 1935 – May 1936), which resulted in the occupation of Ethiopia.
[iv] During the parliamentary elections of 26 April – 3 May 1936 in France, the French CP, SFIO and the Radical Party supported a common Popular Front platform worked out in January 1936. The Socialist, Communist and Radical coalition received an absolute majority in the National Assembly (380 seats). Leon Blum, the SFIO leader, formed and headed a Socialist-Radical government.
[v] Lazar Moiseevich Kaganovich (1893-1991). A member of the Bolshevik party from 1911, he was a member of the CC from 1924, and a member of the Political Bureau (Presidium) of the CC VKP/CPSU between 1930 and 1957. He was People’s Commissar for Communications in 1935-1937, 1938-1942 and in 1943-1944. Between 1937 and 1939, he was a People’s Commissar for Heavy Industry. In 1938-1947, he was Deputy Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars (Council of Ministers) of the USSR. In 1957, he was removed from the Presidium of the CC and from the CC for factional activities. In December 1961, he was expelled from the CPSU.
[vi]Kun was referring to the events in May 1921 when, following Lenin's criticism of Kun's role in the March Action in Germany, Kun was sent to work for the Urals regional committee of the RCP(b).
[vii] Ernst Gere (real name – Singer) (1898-1980). A member of the CPH from 1918, he emigrated to the USSR in 1925 and worked in the ECCI apparatus. From 1945, he was a member of the CC and the Political Bureau of the CPH. Between 1953 and 1954, he was Minister of Internal Affairs of Hungary. In 1962, he was expelled from the party.
[viii] Laszlo Rudas (1885-1950). A member of the Social Democratic Party of Hungary from 1905, he joined the CPH and its CC in 1918. In 1923, he became a member of the RKP(b). He worked in the ECCI apparatus. In 1938 and 1941, he was arrested by the NKVD, but was released. In 1945, he left the USSR for Hungary.
[ix]Aleksandr Sereni Sas. Born in 1905 in Budapest, he was a Secretary of the CC CPH in 1929-1931. Along with Barna, he was removed by the ECCI from leading positions in the party for factional struggle (the so-called Sas-Barna group). In 1933, he was arrested by the GPU for allegedly provocative activities in the CPH and repressed.