Reply from the head of the ECCI’s Cadres Department, P. Guliaev, to the Military Procurator, Ankudinov, regarding Bela Szanto. 27 March 1940.[i]
27. III. 40 Szanto Bela Top secret.
TO THE MILITARY PROCURATOR OF THE M[OSCOW] M[ILITARY] D[ISTRICT].
Moscow, Arbat 37.
In response to your request No. 01629 of 10. III. 1940 regarding BELA SZANTO, based on the materials available to us, we inform you of the following:
During the time when Bela Szanto was a member of the CC and one of the leaders of the Hungarian Communist Party (1926-1929), he displayed opportunistic views toward the Hungarian workers’ movement. The 1929 open letter from the ECCI about Szanto’s views read: “Szanto fell into opportunism [by] overlooking the decisions of the IV Profintern Congress, the VI Comintern World Congress, and all of the 3rd period. This misunderstanding of the character of the 3rd period [was] the most dangerous deviation of present moment. Szanto denied the leftward movement of the working class in Hungary, confused the situation in the workers’ movement with the situation in the increasingly fascist trade unions, and promoted in the Foreign Committee absolutely baseless pessimistic views on the prospects for the revolutionary movement in Hungary. He went so far in his petty-bourgeois evaluation of the mood of and the situation within the working class that he considered large groups of the working class lost for the revolutionary movement, and developed a “theory” about the decomposition of the workers’ movement.”
These opportunistic views of Szanto were condemned by the ECCI’s Political Secretariat and by the II Congress of the CP of Hungary. The condemnation of Szanto’s line was not the result of incorrect information by the CC of the CP of Hungary at the time, but was a result of mistakes committed by him, which he himself admitted, as the ECCI’s open letter also pointed out. It is true that that CC also committed serious political and organizational mistakes which were sharply criticized in the ECCI’s open letter. However, that CC was not dissolved.
At the time of factional struggle in the CP of Hungary, approximately 1928-1929, Bela Szanto was a supporter of Bela Kun and belonged to his narrow circle of friends. Later Kun’s attitude towards Szanto changed and became hostile. This was due to the fact the Bela Szanto wrote a book about the history of the Hungarian revolution, in which he criticized Bela Kun’s activities in that period. They disagreed mainly over the evaluation of foreign policy during the proletarian dictatorship in Hungary and of the Hungarian working class.
In 1935, Szanto gave a speech about the history of the Hungarian revolution and the Hungarian Red Army in the Hungarian Club for political émigrés. In the discussion that followed, Bela Kun’s supporters accused Szanto of Trotskyist deviations. Regarding this, Szanto Zoltan (brother of Bela Szanto) reports that the Bela Szanto’s speech at that time was basically correct and “had nothing to do with Trotskyism.”
This question was not reviewed in the ICC in 1935, and, in general, the question about him was not raised. In 1936, Szanto Bela appealed to the ICC to lift the party penalty (a harsh reprimand with a warning which was imposed on him in 1928 for slanders against a certain comrade [Alpari]). The NKTP party committee (at that time Szanto worked as a director of library in the NKTP [People's Commissarait of Heavy Industry]) gave him then a positive reference and supported his appeal to lift the part[y] penalty, but there was no ICC decision on this question.
On [the basis of] the resolution of the ECCI Secretariat, the CC of the CP of Hungary was dissolved in 1936 for sabotaging the decisions of the VII Congress of the Comintern, for gross violations of the rules of secrecy, for suppressing self-criticism, and because among the CC members were agents of the Hungarian police. The majority of the members of that CC have been arrested by the NKVD.
In 1937-1938, Szanto Bela appealed to the ECCI’s Secretariat regarding publication of his book, but this question remained under deliberation.
HEAD OF THE CADRES DEPATMENT
OF THE ECCI
“27” March 1940
Typ[ed] 2 cop[ies]
RGASPI, f. 495, op. 199, d. 184 (II), ll. 85-87.
Copy in Russian. Typewritten.
[i] The letter from the ECCI’s Cadres Department, signed by its head P. Guliaev, in response to the inquiry of the Military Procurator of the Moscow Military District was prepared by the Cadres Department’s analyst E. Privorotova and typed in two copies. The original was sent to the addressee.