A Concise History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union


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In there were According to west European standard this could hardly be called industry. The urbanisation process continued. Until the growth of Greek towns had been caused by the usual migration from the countryside to the towns. The living conditions in Athens and Piraeus were intolerable. In five to six people shared one room. But this was idyllic compared with the catastrophical conditions two years later when one and a half million refugees from Asia Minor poured into the country.

Almost needless to say that the infrastructure of the capital could not keep pace with this development. Most of the town dwellers had no jobs and tried to make a living with casual work.


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In thirty nine per cent of the refugees were without a job. A totally unjust tax system hit the poor especially hard: forty two per cent of the income of a peasant or worker family were devoured by indirect taxes. Greece was one of the poorest countries of Europe between the wars. Politically Greece was unstable as well. This rebellion is known as the Revolution of Goudi. The officers were clever enough not to try to run the country themselves and called the liberal politician Eleftherios Venizelos to the fore.

In and Venizelos reformed the Greek state, i. Beginning social unrest was channeled by creating paternalistic unions and bringing them under the tutelage of the liberal party. During the First World War the country was deeply split.

The king wanted to side with the Middle Powers, and Venizelos strongly believed in the ultimate victory of the Entente. Venizelos was right and in the peace treaty of Svres he won a big portion of Asia Minor for Greece.

The price was paid by the Greeks of Asia Minor. Greece now became a republic. But this republic was even more unstable than the Weimar Republic. Governments rarely survived a few months. There were coups and short lived dictatorships. The electorate was called to the polls seven times between and During the same period there were two plebiscites on the form of government.

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The electoral system was changed in each election. In the monarchy was restored by a fraudulent plebiscite and a fascist dictatorship [4] was erected by King Georg II and General Ioannis Metaxas. The most astonishing feature of this period, however, was that not even the Asia Minor Catastrophe was able to destroy the old two party system which had come into being during the First World War.

General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

Even the refugees did not turn radical or communist and voted against the bourgeois parties which had created the disaster. And the refugees became and remained the staunchest supporters of Venizelos. This brings us to a feature of the Greek political system which is totally strange to Europeans. When the modern Greek state was created in it inherited and developed political structures alien to Europe, i. Greece generated her own specific political culture. The roots of this custom reach back into the time of the Ottoman Empire.

This role gave added prestige, power, and wealth; the villagers gained a sponsor and security. There was some reciprocity, since it was recognized that the notable had a call on the service or loyalty of those for whom he did favors. Conversely, the notable had an obligation to protect the interests of those who entered into this relationship [ From now on clientelism was used to tie the individual to the political system. The patrons soon discovered that they were able to grant favours to their clients and in turn would gain their votes. At the same time many patrons detected that there were others more powerful.

Therefore they subordinated themselves to these and became part of their clientelistic network. At the beginning of the 20th century two rivalling clientelistic pyramids existed which vaguely resembled European conservatives and liberals. The party bosses were the absolute overlords of their organisations. Conflicts within a party led to the splitting of whole clientelistic networks and in the last resort to factionalisation.

According to the success or failure of a party leader his clientele grew or shrank.

Document: Nikita Khrushchev, "Secret" Speech (February 1956)

Accordingly, the Greek voter did not vote for the policy of a party but against the party which had not done him the expected favour rousfeti. The population growth which slowly led to an urbanisation of the country did almost not touch this system. Not even when the process of industrialisation, accompanied by capitalist exploitation showed the first obstacles, was the system shaken noticeably. In fact, the exploited sought remedy from their patrons. The idea to turn against them did not come into their minds. It needed the Great Depression and the political crisis towards the end of the Venizelist republic to deliver a first blow to the system.

The fascist dictatorship between and beheaded and paralysed the clientelistic networks by arresting and deporting the patrons. The bewildered clients were left alone and started to look for new guidance. The occupation of Greece by the Axis powers created a political vacuum which was filled by the Greek communist party offering leadership in the resistance struggle against the invaders. Individuals and whole clientelistic networks shifted their loyalty to the new organisations promising a brighter future. The only political factor totally alien to this system was the Greek Communist Party Kommounistiko Komma Elladas; KKE which introduced unknown elements of European political culture such as party programme or party discipline and, above all, could offer no rousfetia.

When investigating the history of the Greek Communist Party six distinctly different periods seem to be discernible between its founding in and the dissolution of the Comintern in They may be characterized by the following headings: Convulsions of birth, —; factional strives —; bolshevisation, —; intervention of the Comintern and subsequent stalinisation, —; struggle for survival against the fascist dictatorship of Metaxas, —; resistance and development towards a mass movement, — Until research on the history of KKE was seriously impeded by the fact that the party had been outlawed since December Few found their way into Greece and almost none into a public library.

Nowhere in Greece were sources published by KKE legally obtainable. Material dealing with the interwar period did not exist at all. Only with great difficulty was it possible to trace some private collections and to obtain admission to them. When KKE in the s was preparing a series of documentations parts of the archives were moved to Skopje. Freed from control by the orthodox mandarins, he began to publish broadly in a scholarly way taking up even very controversial issues especially of the Civil War period. Apparently the contents were still too embarassing for some leading Euro-Communists.

Over the years Papapanagiotou had built up a huge archive in Skopje containing all sorts of material. When he died in the late 70s the archive disappeared but it re-surfaced in ASKI is open to scholars. It even publishes a journal which has the same name as the foundation. Controversial and sensitive material, however, will be searched for in vain by researchers. The standard excuse is that the material is being restored because a few years ago heavy rains drowned much of the archives situated in the basement of the Central Committee building.

There are a few private collections containing communist sources which are difficult of access. Government sources — especially police records — exist but are in bad order and may only be consulted after 50 years, if at all.

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Scholars may consult most of the archives of Komintern and individual communist parties; some groups of sources, however, remain closed. Another important source on Komintern policy are the published diaries of Dimitroff. Despite these impediments the primary source situation as far as official party documentation is concerned in reality has not been bad — provided the publications could be traced. Scholarly research on a communist or leftist topic in Greece proper before was non-existent for two reasons: Official historians considered contemporary history Zeitgeschichte as current politics and therefore as unscholarly and the Greek state did everything possible to discourage research and historiography in this field.

Research outside Greece was arid.

After the situation changed radically. Immediately after the fall of the military junta the Karamalis government legalised KKE.

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The taboo, which had hindered research for decades, fell. During the ensuing years a kind of literary explosion took place in Greece: memoirs, reminiscences, articles, monographs and all kinds of reprints appeared in ever increasing numbers. The focus, however, was on the time of the National Resistance.

The earlier period was still paid little attention to by historical researchers, but since most of the earlier party documentations and histories were reproduced the source situation improved considerably. Unfortunately, however, these revealing discrepancies deal with the late resistance period and the beginning of the civil war. But there are a few memoirs of members of the Eurocommunist KKE which prove helpful in our context. In the present author published the first and so far only comprehensive bibliography on Greek communism, socialism and trade unionism [24] which lists more than titles dealing with this topic.

The entries dealing with the history of KKE until , however, scarcely exceed These include party documents, monographs, memoirs, biographies, articles in periodicals, essays in books, dissertations, and pamphlets. The studies of Matthias Esche, [30] Hagen Fleischer, [31] und Christophe Chiclet [32] contain a wealth of information about the history of KKE during the Axis occupation, the Dekemvriana and the Civil War but do not touch the earlier period.

The story of KKE from its foundation to the Meraxas dictatorship is still waiting for its historian. Right from the beginning the Worker Centres became part of the Venizelist party clientele network. In the right to form a union was established and simultaneously control by the state and the Venizelist party increased. Nevertheless socialist ideas spread among the unions. But until the end of the First World War Greek trades unions remained local and extremely fragmented.

A Concise History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union A Concise History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
A Concise History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union A Concise History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
A Concise History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union A Concise History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
A Concise History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union A Concise History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
A Concise History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union A Concise History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
A Concise History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union A Concise History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
A Concise History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union A Concise History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
A Concise History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union A Concise History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

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