A Note on the Translation
In the introduction to his bibliography, The Communist International and Its Front Organizations, Witold S. Sworakowski succinctly notes the problems faced by anyone seeking the documentary record of the Communist International:
The user of Comintern publications must be aware of the fact that the same item when published in Russian, English, German, French, or any other language, although seemingly identical with its counterparts, is not necessarily so in its content.... In most cases it is practically impossible to establish which item is in the original language and which is a translation. Texts of the same item, e.g., of the same speech, report, or resolution, may differ in editions in different languages.1
Sworakowski further explains why this should be so:
The congresses and plenums of the Executive Committee of the Communist International were multinational gatherings of people with at least forty languages as their native tongues. After some attempts at restrictions in the beginning, delegates were permitted to use at the meetings any language they chose. Their speeches were translated into Russian, German, French, and English, or digests in these languages were read to the congresses immediately following the speech in another language. Whether a speech was translated verbatim or digested to longer or shorter versions depended upon the importance of the speaker. Only by realizing these time-consuming translating and digesting procedures does it become understandable why some congresses lasted as long as forty-five days.2
In the case of Guidelines on the Organizational Structure of Communist Parties, on the Methods and Content of Their Work, however, we have been very lucky since it is clear the original draft was written in German. Lenins letters to Kuusinen and Koenen, including his suggestions and addenda for the draft, were in German, indicating that Lenin worked with a German rather than a Russian text.3 Moreover, Zinovievs remarks in the discussion at the 22nd session, referring to the German wording worked out by our internationally motley crew (see Appendix A, Report on the Organization Question), clearly indicate that the Congress worked with the German text.
We have translated from the German text of the Theses and Resolutions of the Third Congress published by the Communist Internationals publishing house in Hamburg in 1921. 4 This version conforms in all details to the amendments mentioned in Koenens Reports and includes point 45, which was omitted (apparently inadvertently) from the German text published in Moscow.5 This Hamburg-published version also corrects various grammatical errors of the Moscow-published German text. The published Russian-language versions of the Organizational Resolution suffer from misplaced and omitted text, garbling the meaning of the Resolution in places.6 French-language versions of the Organizational Resolution have followed the German, not the Russian, as regards text sequence and numbering.7
The English translations of the Organizational Resolution published in the 1920s garble the text in places. Moreover these translations omit many of the revisions adopted by the Congress at its final session.8 Unfortunately, a new English version published in 1980 as part of a collection of Comintern documents is based on the Russian text and suffers from all its textual omissions, made worse by the ignorant interpolations and carelessness of the translators.9 The English translation we publish here is, to our knowledge, the first complete one ever based on the final German text. We have followed the German text as regards paragraph breaks, word emphasis and the capitalization or non-capitalization of communist party.
Appendices A and B are translated from the German-language stenographic report of the Congress.10 Since Koenen spoke in German, this can be presumed to be more accurate than the Russian stenographic report.11 We have compared the German to the Russian report and found only one substantive difference: a speech by the French delegate Vaillant-Couturier is omitted from the German report of the discussion on the Organizational Resolution at the 24th session of the Congress. We have translated this speech from the Russian and included it in our translation in brackets (see Appendix B, “Report of the Commission on Organization”). As for the rest of our translation, we have faithfully rendered certain terminological and stylistic inconsistencies unfortunately endemic to what appears to be an unedited text, footnoting only the most glaring of these. In the interest of readability we have, however, added a number of paragraph breaks to the translation in Appendix A and we have provided a few minimal explanatory footnotes in both Appendices.
In two cases it was impossible to convey succinctly in English the full range of meaning of the German text. The Resolution and Appendices contain frequent references to Betriebsvertrauensleute, which can mean both shop stewards and equally people in charge of the (partys) work in the plants (something roughly akin to the French responsable). Obviously both meanings can be present simultaneously. It is clear from Koenens Report to the 22nd session of the Congress (see Appendix A) that for the most part it is the loosely organized network of syndicalist workers usually