Alexander Vatlin: The October Revolution and the Founding of the Communist International


In: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2017. Berlin: Metropol Verlag, pp. 69–85.

This essay discusses the international impact of the October Revolution, the second congress of the Comintern, and the failed large-scale offensive by the Red Army in Poland. The combination of these events meant, on the one hand, the establishment of a Communist World Party, and, on the other hand, the end of the hopes Lenin and the Bolsheviks had of being able to influence developments in Europe directly through their political regime and military forces.
The end of the First World War sharply reduced the chance of a proletarian world revolution. Despite all the propaganda efforts of the Bolsheviks, they could not export the desired model of their revolution to other countries. The files of the Political Archive of the German Foreign Ministry illustrate the intensity with which the political elites of Western countries counteracted this light from the East.
The most important contacts of Soviet Russia with foreign countries from 1917 to 1920 are presented systematically and compared with new findings of research. The main feature of the new international movement was not only its ideological rigor, but also its tactical and financial dependence on the state resources of Soviet Russia. Nevertheless, the sympathizers of the Communists in Europe at the beginning of the 1920s were thankful for the interest and the positive resonance the Russian Revolution had sparked abroad, especially in Germany. The union of the KPD and the bulk of the USPD was probably the last success for two more decades in the “struggle for the masses” proclaimed by the Comintern headquarters after the failure of the general offensive against capitalism.

Über den Autor

Alexander Vatlin, Prof. Dr., geb. 1962 in Aschgabad/Turkmenien. 1979 bis 1984 Studium der Geschichte und 1987 Promotion am Lehrstuhl für Neue und Neueste Geschichte an der Moskauer Lomonossow-Universität zum Thema »Die Wiedergründung der SPD in Westdeutschland 1945–1949«. Seit 1991 Leiter des Programms »Moderne Geschichte« am Institut für Menschenrechte und demokratische Forschung. Seit 1997 Lehrtätigkeit am Lehrstuhl für Neue und Neueste Geschichte der Lomonossow-Universität; 1998 Habilitation zum Thema »KPdSU und Komintern in den Zwanzigerjahren. Probleme ihrer Wechselbeziehungen«. 2001 Mitbegründer und seitdem Koordinator der »Arbeitsgruppe zur Erforschung der neuesten Geschichte Deutschlands« an der Lomonossow-Universität ( Seit 2006 Professor am Lehrstuhl für Neue und Neueste Geschichte ebendort. Mitglied des Wissenschaftlichen Beirats des Jahrbuchs für Historische Kommunismusforschung.