Published below are documents relating to the electoral question in Nazi Germany in 1933 and in India just prior to the general elections of 1952. The first two documents relate to the Reichstag elections after the Nazis came to power and the Referendum to be held after Germany departed from the League of Nations and the Disarmament Conference. Stalin opposed the suggestion that the Communist Party of Germany should recommend to the voters that they boycott the elections. He argued that this would simply constitute electoral absenteeism and said that the voters should score out the fascist list. In the Referendum the Communist Party of Germany should suggest that the voters vote ‘no’ on the question of approval of Nazi government policy on the departure from the League of Nations and the Disarmament Conference.
The second document of J.V. Stalin relates to the publication in the Cominform journal of the Pre-Election Manifesto of the Communist Party of India for the first general election. It shows the keen interest shown by the CPSU(b) in this political event. It also reveals in a clear fashion that Stalin and the CPSU(b) did not adhere to the sectarian position upheld by a section of the revolutionary communists in India that it is impermissible in principle for communists in a colonial or semi-colonial country to participate in the electoral process.
Letter from the Political Secretariat of ECCI
on the Tactics of the Communist Party of Germany
25 October, 1933
In Germany, where the campaign is going on for the elections which are scheduled for 12th November for the Reichstag and the Referendum which is to be held after the exit from the League of Nations and the Disarmament Conference, the situation is such that the chances of affecting the elections in any significant manner do not exist. [There will be a list of national-socialists for the Reichstag and a voting slip for the referendum bearing an option ‘yes’ (signifying approval of the government’s policy) and ‘no’ (against this policy)]. No other option of expressing an opinion of dissatisfaction with the fascist regime exists for a voter participating in the elections. A call given by the Communist Party, for instance, to inscribe ‘Down with Fascism’, ‘Long Live the Communist Party of Germany’, and so on would attract only an insignificant number of voters.
The Cominternists propose to:
(1) Appeal to the voters to boycott the elections.
(2) At the places where the fascists will force voters to participate in the elections, appeal to the voters to cross out the list bearing the names of the national-socialists and the referendum voting slip.
(3) The Communist Party of Germany must conduct its electoral campaign under slogans such as (a) Against the Treaty of Versailles. In the battle against bankers, factory owners, landlords and their defenders – the national socialists; the working class of Germany along with the revolutionary workers of France, England and the whole world will liberate Germany from the yoke of the Treaty of Versailles. (b) Against fascism and war. (c) Against hunger and terror. (d) Down with the fascist dictatorship. Long live the Worker-Peasant Soviet Republic.
The local leadership of the Communist Party of Germany agrees with the proposals of the Cominternists but the Foreign Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Germany proposes participating in the elections, crossing out the national-socialist list and voting for the option ‘no’ in the referendum. The foreign leadership of the Social Democratic Party of Germany is also proposing participation in the elections and using the same method of voting as that suggested by the Foreign Bureau of the CC of the CPG.
We concur with the opinion of the Cominternists. It is an urgent question – please communicate your opinion.
RGASPI F. 508. Op. 1. D. 128. L. 27-28.
Reply of Stalin to the Letter of the Political
of ECCI dated 25th October, 1933.
26 October, 1933
The Cominternists are not correct. The boycott proposed by them is not an active boycott in the Bolshevik spirit. It is a simple abstention from elections: simply absenteeism. The Bolsheviks have never observed such a boycott. They observe only active boycott accompanied by revolutionary activities, their aim is to undermine or even to foil the elections. But this, the solely acceptable boycott, is now not possible in Germany. Therefore the Cominternists are wrong and the Foreign Bureau of the Central Committee of the CPG is correct. You must participate in the elections, cross out the fascist list and vote for the option ‘no’ in the referendum. On such a basis you must form an anti-fascist front with the social-democratic workers and lead them so that such an initiative can be undertaken on a communist platform and under their leadership. Any other politics will serve only the interests of the fascists and social-democrats.
RGASPI F. 508. Op.1. D.128. L.30.
The above documents have been taken from: (Editors) V.V. Dam’e, N.P.
Komolova, M.B. Korchagina, K.K. Shirinya ‘Komintern protiv fashizma. Dokumenty’.
Moscow, Nauka, 1999, pp. 305-307. They have been translated from the Russian by
From Protokol No. 83
Decision of the Politburo of the CC A-UCP(b) for 31st July - 7th October
Decision of the Politburo of the CC of the A-UCP(b) of 29.VIII.51.
294 - On the Publication of the
‘Pre-Election Manifesto of the Communist Party of India’.
Adopted the proposal of the Foreign-Policy Commission of the CC A-UCP(b) on the publication in the next issue of the newspaper ‘For an Everlasting Peace for People’s Democracy’ of 31st August (this year) the ‘Pre-Election Manifesto of the Communist Party of India’.
Secretary of the CC J. Stalin.
Rgaspi, F. 17 Op. 3. D. 1090. L. 58. Typewritten text. Facsimile of the signature of J.V. Stalin, authenticating seal of the CC A-UCP(b).
True typewritten extract from the Protocol:
Deputy Director of the Russian State
Archive of Social-Political History
(RGASPI Seal) s / d
Translated from the Russian by Vijay Singh.
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