Ben Lewis & Lars T. Lih, Zinoviev and Martov: Head to Head in Halle (2011)
“We are on the field of battle. The audience in the hall is divided in two sections: it is as if a knife has cut them sharply in two. Two parties are present.”
Grigory Zinoviev’s description of the Halle congress of the Independent Social Democrats (USPD) in 1920 highlights the knife-edge on which the German workers’ movement was balanced. Would the USPD embrace the young Soviet government and the Communist International as part of the Moscow-led drive to strategically re-orientate the workers’ movement?
This was Zinoviev’s uphill task. Not only did he have to take on some of the heavyweights of German Social Democracy in his second language, he also had to take on his Russian contemporary Jules Martov, the intellectually rigorous and polemically steeled leader of the Menshevik Internationalists.
By printing Zinoviev’s famous four-hour speech and Martov’s counterblast for the first time in English, this book opens up a new chapter in understanding the significance of a congress that shaped the 20th century European workers’ movement. The introductory essays by Ben Lewis and Lars T. Lih and Zinoviev’s diary entry for his time in Germany also place the debates in their historical context – essential reading forrevolutionaries of today.