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Microform Collection: Comintern Archives, 1917-1943

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Tanja Lorkovic
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The Praesidium of the Second Congress of the Comintern, Moscow, 1920

The Praesidium of the Second Congress of the Comintern, Moscow, 1920.
From Volkogonov, Dmitri. Trotsky: the eternal revolutionary.
Translated and edited by Harold Shukman. New York, The Free Press, 1996. Page facing p. 189.

Founded in March 1919, the Communist International, or Comintern, was a Soviet-sponsored agency to coordinate the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism world-wide. Its members included Communists from Europe, Asia and elsewhere, who acted under the direction of Moscow as "the General Staff of the Revolution." Seven Congresses and eight plenums were held until Stalin ordered the body's dissolution in 1943 to reassure his wartime American and British Allies. From 1947 through 1956 the Cominform acted as its successor.

As with all such underground organizations, the Comintern soon became shrouded by rumor, conjecture and myth. Historians who sought to study objectively this Soviet-sponsored initiative until recently had a very difficult task, since the Comintern's archives were secreted in the inaccessible repositories of the Central Committee of the USSR in Moscow. The only published records of its proceedings appeared in 1920 and 1930, and these were heavily censored by the group's executive. The recent opening of Russian archives has at last brought the Comintern's records to light.

The Netherlands-based microfilm publisher IDC, in cooperation with the successor of the Soviet Central Party Archive (renamed the Russian Center for the Preservation and Study of Records of Modern History, or RTsKhIDNI), is currently issuing an extensive, unexpurgated collection of Comintern records on microfiche. Beginning with shorthand reports of the first meetings, the series will include all documents relating to the Comintern's seven congresses, the ten plenums of the Executive Committee, as well as material from preparatory and working commissions. Nothing has been omitted or censored. As an international organization, the Comintern worked in a variety of European languages. In addition to the full texts of the archives themselves, the collection also includes an English translation of the original Soviet opisi, or indexes, as well as more detailed indexes prepared by the Amsterdam-based International Institute of Social History. The archive consists of 11,859 microfiches. Scholars can consult the collection in the Microform Reading Room, located in the basement of Sterling Memorial Library.

A finding guide to the collection is available on CD-ROM, stored behind the main desk of the SML Microtext Room. A second CD-ROM is available at the Slavic Reading Room - please ask staff for access to this copy.

Sterling Library's hours of operation
LOCATION: SML, Microform (Non-Circulating)
CALL NUMBER: Fiche B2601