Instead of telling the truth, the leaders of the so-called Communist Party of Britain (CPB) attempt to downplay the horrors of the Moscow Trials of the 1930s, where Lenin’s closest collaborators, together with countless others, were systematically murdered by Stalin.

The main defendant at the trials, Leon Trotsky, Lenin’s closest collaborator, was subsequently assassinated by a Stalinist agent in 1940.

[Before continuing below, we recommend reading previous parts in this series, covering the Stalinist mistakes of the Third Period and Popular Front.]


Lenins general staff 1917 executed Image public domainOut of Lenin’s Central Committee, only Stalin and Kollontai remained / Image: public domain

Between 1936 and 1938, a series of frame-up trials were held in Moscow, the first being the ‘Case of the Trotskyite, Zinovievite Terrorist Centre’.

In these trials, false confessions about heinous crimes were beaten out of defendants by the Stalinist betrayers of the revolution. Apart from the confessions, no other evidence was produced. They were then condemned and shot as ‘saboteurs’, ‘Gestapo agents’ and ‘counter-revolutionaries’.

Out of Lenin’s Central Committee, only Stalin and Kollontai remained (she capitulated and was sent off to Norway as a diplomat). The rest were dead.

Stalin, who was portrayed as a great ‘war leader’, shot most of the General Staff of the Red Army at this time, including the great Tukhachevsky.

Between 1937-39, the Red Army lost three of its five marshals, all 11 of its Deputy Commissars for Defence, 75 of its 80 members of the Military Soviet, and all its military district commanders who held that post in June 1937. The remainder were decimated.


The purge became widespread and based upon the biggest frame-up trials in history. This was a one-sided civil war against the remains of Leninism.

The gulf between Stalinism and Bolshevism was so great that Stalin needed to destroy all the vestiges of the past beyond the Oppositionists. It created a river of blood between Stalinism and Bolshevism. The Stalinist apparatus became a machine for crushing backbones.

As Khruschev revealed in 1956, in trying to place the responsibility of Stalinism on one man, many loyal Stalinists were murdered:

“It was determined that of the 139 members and candidates of the Party’s Central Committee who were elected at the 17th Congress [1934], 98 persons, that is, 70% were arrested and shot… of 1,966 delegates with either voting or advisory rights, 1,108 persons were arrested on charges of anti-revolutionary crimes…”

Countless people disappeared in the bloodbath. But the British Stalinists, even today, play down these mass murders and the destruction of Bolshevism.


CPB March Image public domainThe British Stalinists, even today, play down these mass murders and the destruction of Bolshevism / Image: public domain

“The show trials of former Soviet and Comintern leaders such as Kamenev, Zinoviev and Bukharin did little to check the growing popularity of the Communist Party and Marxist ideas in Britain”, comments Robert Griffiths, the present general secretary of the CPB, in his book The Gleam of Socialism.

“When respected lawyers, politicians and diplomats from the US, Britain and elsewhere attended the Moscow show trials and confirmed that the defendants had indeed confessed to being members of a ‘Trotsky-fascist’ campaign of espionage and subversion, Britain’s Communists were not alone in believing that such a plot had indeed existed.

“Reports of mass-scale repression, labour camps and executions in the Soviet Union could all too easily be dismissed as another round of capitalist propaganda against socialism.”

He then states:

“There is no serious evidence that the British CP leadership knew the full extent of the purges, or the degree to which the incarceration of several million Soviet citizens – many of them loyal communists – lacked any justification.”


They knew alright. The British CP leaders blindly accepted everything and joined in the filthy slanders on a daily basis. They were Stalin’s allies.

The “respected” lawyer was D. N. Pritt, KC, a Stalinist fellow traveller. “None can challenge either Mr Pritt’s integrity or his competence to understand the significance of court procedure and the value of evidence”, wrote the Daily Worker glowingly.

J.R. Campbell, a leading member and former editor of the Daily Worker, had been in Moscow during the purges and admitted what had been going on. But he maintained he could do nothing given the approaching war.

This may have been some crude excuse for silence. But Campbell was not silent. He wrote a book, Soviet Policy and its Critics, published by Gollancz in 1939, which defended every action of Stalin and argued that the purge trials were genuine.

Stalin Image public domainThe horrors under Stalinism are merely dismissed as ‘mistakes’, ‘violations’, and ‘excesses’ by the British Stalinist leaders / Image: public domain

The Daily Worker was full of attacks on the accused, in which Pollitt wrote of the “whipping out of the bureaucratic degenerates associated with fascism”. (16/6/37)

On 14 June 1937, the paper announced: “Red Army Traitors Executed”, with the comment “the workers of Britain will rejoice”. It routinely denounced “the fascist agent Trotsky”. According to Pollitt, “the trials in Moscow represent a new triumph in the history of progress”. (DW, 12 March 1938)

”Foreigners little realise,” wrote W.G. Krivitsky, “how vital it was for Stalin in 1936, 1937 and 1938 to be able to declare that the British, American, French, German, Polish, Bulgarian and Chinese communists unanimously supported the liquidation of the ‘Trotskyite, fascist mad dogs and wreckers’…” (I was Stalin’s Agent, 1939)


The horrors under Stalinism are merely dismissed as ‘mistakes’, ‘violations’, and ‘excesses’ by the British Stalinist leaders, who have attempted to identify the regime with ‘socialism’ and ‘communism’.

But this is completely false. While they had nationalised economies, they were ruled by a bureaucratic elite. They had nothing in common with Bolshevism, socialism or Lenin.

This leads the CPB to cover-up its real history – its justification of Stalinism.

Only by breaking with this heritage can genuine communists find the road to real Bolshevism, and the spotless heritage of Lenin and Trotsky.