Communist Party of Fiume
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The Communist Party of Fiume (Italian: Partito Comunista di Fiume – Sezione della III.a Internazionale) was instituted in November 1921, after the proclamation of the Free State of Fiume created by the Treaty of Rapallo. The Communist Party of Fiume was the smallest Communist Party in the world at the time. It was founded following the principles of the Third International, according to which each sovereign State had to have its own Communist Party organization.
After 1918 the Socialist Party of Fiume, under the lead of Samuel Maylender became the Partito Socialista Internazionale di Fiume. In 1919, a local Communist Party, was founded independently (and almost single-handedly) by Albino Stalzer in 1919, by mobilising the local dockers. Stalzer and Schneider founded also a Cooperativa dei Lavoratori del Porto, whose influence proved to be much greater than that of the Communist Party itself. In 1920 both had a difficult existence during the occupation of Fiume led by the Italian poet Gabriele D'Annunzio.
Albino Stalzer however proved instrumental in providing working class support to the autonomists of Riccardo Zanella. After the autonomist victory at the elections for the Constituent Assembly on 24 April 1921 the local Fascio staged a coup d'état. In opposition, the Camera del Lavoro (controlled by the Socialists) proclaimed a general strike, but when its leaders Antonio Zamparo and G. Holly were arrested by dictator Riccardo Gigante a cessation of the strike was proclaimed. Thanks to the Cooperativa dei Lavoratori del Porto the strike continued motu proprio, forcing the “Exceptional Government” of “Dictator” Gigante to resign and allow the entry of the Alpine troops in Fiume, as requested by the Italian plenipotentiary Carlo Caccia Dominioni.
The Cooperativa dei Lavoratori del Porto of Stalzer proved to be the main organised force of the opposition to the “dictator Gigante”, and this was the single most important action done by the leftist organisations in the Free State of Fiume. Moreover, it had clear autonomist underpinnings: what was contested was not only the fascist organisation of the putsch, but its Italian annexationist character.
The normalisation of the situation that followed to the inauguration of the Zanella government in October 1921 enabled the holding of a Fiume Socialist Congress in November, where (as happened in Italy) a Communist Party was formed. The Party originated from a split within the Socialist Party in Fiume, following on from the secession of the Italian Communists from the Socialists in Livorno on 13 November 1921. On 11 November 1921, the Socialist Party of Fiume joined officially the Communist International.
The “old Socialist Party of Fiume” had to discuss the Twenty-one Conditions of Moscow, which had not been discussed at the previous congress since at that time (22 August 1921), in Fiume reigned a “regime of terror”, when the party's “best comrades” were expelled and persecuted. At the Socialist meeting old members were reintegrated into the party. Among them was Árpád Simon, a Hungarian Jew who escaped to Fiume after the failure of the Hungarian Soviet Republic of Béla Kun and was proclaimed Secretary of the Communist Party of Fiume. The Party accepted the leadership of Lenin and proclaimed him honorary president of the party. The meeting illustrated the division between two factions: the Communists and the Unitarians. The unitarians adopted Lenin's "Twenty-one Conditions" but stated its will to preserve the old name of "Socialist Party", and omitted the intention to eliminate the reformers and the centrists.
After the elections where the communist faction prevailed, a “mozione della frazione comunista” was passed: it implied adhesion to the Third Communist International, the adoption of the new name of "Partito Comunista di Fiume, (sezione della III internazionale Comunista)", the adoption of organization and tactics from the second Congress of the Communist International, subordination to the international direction centres, and the adhesion of local labour organisations to the Red International of Labour Unions.
The party declared its will to participate in the elections but only whilst keeping its “revolutionary purpose" of overthrowing “bourgeois democracy” well in mind.
Simon declared that the Socialist Party ceased to exist and in its place the Communist Party of the Free State of Fiume (Partito Comunista dello Stato libero di Fiume) was constituted. The unitarian socialists were put on a defensive: although they accepted the 21 points and promised not to infringe the unity of the United Proletarian Front, given the “incommensurable difficulties” of organizing a proletarian party in a bilingual environment, the name Socialist Party had to be retained. The party issued several articles on the Lavoratore from Trieste and Lo Stato operaio from Milan, not a single one being published in the Yugoslav communist press, since the organization turned to Italy for its inspiration and guidelines. On 28 November the Executive Committee of the Partito Comunista d’Italia sent a salutory letter to the Partito Comunista di Fiume. Again, the relationship is always with the PCI, the Yugoslav party is never mentioned.
The funeral of Cesare Seassaro, was the only mass meeting ever organised by the Communist Party of the Free State of Fiume, where several speakers participated. The Young Communist International was represented at the meeting by a speaker – the Italian delegate Secondino Tranquilli, later known as Ignazio Silone.
Notably, the Communist Party of Fiume had direct official relationships with the Partito Comunista d’Italia, while the Yugoslav Communist party is never mentioned. The contacts with the Hungarian Communists were of an informal nature, but definitely important, and continued well into the 1920s. The main party cadres came from Hungary after the end of the revolution. Ella (Gabriella) Seidenfeld was the liaison of the Partito comunista di Fiume with the Communist Party of Italy and later became long-time companion of author Ignazio Silone. In a letter sent by the Communist Party of Italy to the Federazione gioventù comunista di Fiume it is transparent that the Partito comunista di Fiume is considered by the Communist Party of Italy as a trait d'union with the Yugoslavs.
Nevertheless, as for the Fascists, for the Communist Party of the Free State of Fiume the biggest enemy was Albino Stalzer.
The Partito comunista di Fiume showed some activity in 1922: in January it publicly announced its birth via a public announcement, and at the beginning of 1922 the Statute of the Partito comunista di Fiume was published (Mozione comunista and the Statuto del Partito comunista di Fiume). In the Preamble the Party proclaimed its full adhesion to the revolutionary stances and principles of the II International. The Party was organized in sections along city districts. Each section elected an Executive Committee, that nominated the various commissions (evaluation of candidatures, Communist Youth etc.). The Central Committee had 15 members who nominated the executive committee of 5 members assumes the direction of the communist organ propaganda. The Congress was the sovereign manifestation of the Party. Article 54 allowed for the possibility of the members of the Socialist Party to enter the Communist Party of the Free State of Fiume, within one month.
After the fascist putsch that struck down the Zanella government, the secretary of the Triestine section of the Italian Communist Party, Cavaciocchi, arrived immediately in Fiume, where in an interview with the Vedetta d'Italia he implicitly expressed solidarity with the fascist action against the “bourgeois” Zanella.
Again; it was Stalzer who protested the fascist violence, which he denounced in a paper titled L’Ultima ora, and later with a manifesto and some clandestine leaflets where he denounced the curious solidarity between the fascists and the local communists. That was his last action, before leaving for Portorè where he joined Zanella in his exile, later living an isolated private life on the edge of misery and oblivion.
In September 1922, in a second public announcement, the Communist Party of Fiume condemned publicly the “Primo Partito comunista di Fiume” led by Albino Stalzer, with the charge that the party was close to the “bourgeois autonomist party” (solidale col partito autonomo (borghese) di Zanella) and for his solidarity with Zanella in Portorè.
On 10 October 1922 the delegates of the Communist Party of Fiume were nominated for the IV Congress of the Third International and the II Congress of the Red International of Labour Unions. The secretary of the C.C. of the Partito comunista di Fiume, the Hungarian Jew, Arpad Simon, was elected and proposed Stefan Popper (a Hungarian Jew) as representative of the Partito comunista di Fiume at the conference. If he was to refuse, the Italian communist party delegation at the conference had the full mandate to represent the Communist Party of Fiume .
Progressively, as the fascists extended their power in the city, the activity of the Communist Party of Fiume dwindled. The press releases and reports of the party during the 1923 are defensive acts written after some of the members of the Communist Party of Fiume or simple sympathizers were attacked or arrested.
The last ones were published in the Milanese paper “Lo Stato Operaio”, after the devastation of the Il Lavoratore offices in Trieste. With the communique of the Executive committee, dated November the 1st 1923, the Milanese paper become (as it was for Italy) the official press organ for the Communist Party of Fiume.
The last action of the Communist Party of Fiume was a Manifesto, directed against the annexation of the City to Italy. The document dated 9 November 1923, is the last act of the party. The slogans of this proclamation are almost entirely autonomist. Distrust in the League of Nations was openly proclaimed, the invoked the action of the proletariat of Italy, Yugoslavia and asked for the protection by Soviet Russia. The Manifesto had to be signed also by the Italian P.C.d'It and by the Yugoslav Nezavisna radnička partija Jugoslavije.
The answer provided by the P.C.d'It was very disappointing for the Communist Party of Fiume, since they deemed any action as hopeless. Neither did the Yugoslav Communist Party do anything to oppose the Treaty, as it did not oppose the annexation of Fiume to Italy. In the meanwhile, the faction of the autonomist Communists led by Stalzer went to Zanella and was widely opposed by the Partito comunista di Fiume. The Communist Party of Fiume, before its dissolution was definitely connected to the P.C.d'It, subordinated to the local section in Trieste, that acts as its main organizational and ideological support.
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- "Nel 1919 in un separè del Caffè grande, in piazza Umberto (ex Andrassy) Albino Stalzer e il tipografo Simeone Schneider fondavano il Partito Comunista di Fiume. La consistenza numerica del primo Partito Comunista di Fiume non si poté mai conoscere. Pare però, che fosse solo una cellula". Ballarini Amleto, “Albino Stalzer: il “compagno” dimenticato. Le controverse origini del partito comunista fiumano”, Fiume. Rivista di studi fiumani, Anno XIV N.28 (Prima Nuova Serie) II Semestre 1994 p. 15.
- The founding report was published in the Lavoratore from Trieste, on November the 13th 1921
- In Mihael Sobolevski, Luciano Giuricin, Il Partito Comunista di Fiume, (1921–1924): Documenti-Građa, Centro di ricerche storiche Rovigno, Fiume: Centar za historiju radničkog pokreta i NOR-a Istre, 1982, p. 20-21.
- The document is in DARi-fondo questura fiumana Q A/8, dossier Stanflin Pietro, now In Mihael Sobolevski, Luciano Giuricin, Il Partito Comunista di Fiume, (1921–1924): Documenti-Građa, Centro di ricerche storiche Rovigno, Fiume: Centar za historiju radničkog pokreta i NOR-a Istre, 1982, pp. 30–32.
- Mihael Sobolevski, Luciano Giuricin, Il Partito Comunista di Fiume, (1921–1924): Documenti-Građa, Centro di ricerche storiche Rovigno, Fiume: Centar za historiju radničkog pokreta i NOR-a Istre, 1982, p. 24.
- When on mission to Fiume on 14 November, Tranquilli met Gabriella Seidenfeld, a young Fiuman of Hungarian-Jewish origins who then became his partner. Thanks to Gabriella Seidenfeld and her sisters, Silone entered in contact with the Fiuman communist organisation that boosted many international contacts and was close to Italian subversive groups as well. In Sara Galli, Le tre sorelle Seidenfeld. Donne nell’emigrazione politica antifascista, Firenze, Giunti, 2005.
- The original is at the Istituto Gramsci. Voi preparerete quella unità spirituale fra i lavoratori giovani italiani e jugoslavi che deve rinsaldare le forze proletarie di fiume le quali formano un ponte di passaggio per il giorno in cui i lavoratori italiani potranno finalmente stendere la mano ai compagni slavi, nella vera redenzione auspicata dai due proletariati oggi schiavi delle politiche imperialistiche di Belgrado e di Roma. Now in Mihael Sobolevski, Luciano Giuricin, Il Partito Comunista di Fiume, (1921–1924): Documenti-Građa, Centro di ricerche storiche Rovigno, Fiume: Centar za historiju radničkog pokreta i NOR-a Istre, 1982, p.102.
- Albino Stalzer, on the occasion, launched an anathema against Cesare Seassaro: “andato a cercare dei comunisti dove non c’erano che degli opportunisti e banderuole al vento pur sapendo che fino al 1919 esisteva a Fiume un partito comunista operante per la rivoluzione e per la III Internazionale”. On 23 November comrade Stalzer was expelled from the party. The text of the communiqué was titled Diffida al compagno Albino Stalzer portrayed him as a “betrayer of the worst sort”.
- Cavaciocchi declared that on 3 March the city was liberated from the “tyrant” (referring to Zanella). In Luksich-Jamini A., “Storie di una questione nazionale e della Resistenza al confine orientale d’Italia”, Fiume. Rivista di studi fiumani, Anno XVII, gennaio-dicembre 1971, p. 105.
- In Mihael Sobolevski, Luciano Giuricin, Il Partito Comunista di Fiume, (1921–1924): Documenti-Građa, Centro di ricerche storiche Rovigno, Fiume: Centar za historiju radničkog pokreta i NOR-a Istre, 1982, pp. 150–152. The pseudonym of the press office was always signed with “schiavo ardito”. The ironic reference with the D’Annunzian arditi was obvious to which an ethnic and class overtone schiavo (in the Adriatic designated the Slavs by Venetians) was added.
- In Mihael Sobolevski, Luciano Giuricin, Il Partito Comunista di Fiume, (1921–1924): Documenti-Građa, Centro di ricerche storiche Rovigno, Fiume: Centar za historiju radničkog pokreta i NOR-a Istre, 1982, pp. 176–178.
- Mihael Sobolevski, Luciano Giuricin, Il Partito Comunista di Fiume, (1921–1924): Documenti-Građa, Centro di ricerche storiche Rovigno, Fiume: Centar za historiju radničkog pokreta i NOR-a Istre, 1982, pp. 182–184.
- The document was found at the ACS, Fondo min. interni, by the Italian historian Renzo De Felice, in De Felice Renzo, Il Partito Comunista di Fiume e il Partito Comunista d’Italia alla vigilia degli accordi italo-jugoslavi di Roma del gennaio 1924, Fiume. Rivista di studi fiumani, Anno XIII, N.1–2 gennaio-giugno 1967, pp. 85–90)
- Però ancora sempre si contesta ancora sempre si baratta ciò che è il più sacro e il più avito (!) diritto di Fiume: il diritto alla sua libertà e alla sua indipendenza incontrastabile. .. l'Italia vuole annettersi la città regalando una parte del suo porto alla Jugoslavia. La Jugoslavia pretende il Porto Baross e il Delta e si oppone all'annessione della città che deve restare libera e indipendente! Il proletariato di Fiume agita ancora una volta le parole d'ordine di questa sua lotta: nessuna annessione della città! Nessuna mutilazione del suo porto! Libertà ed indipendenza per la città compreso tutto il suo sistema portuale! In Mihael Sobolevski, Luciano Giuricin, Il Partito Comunista di Fiume, (1921–1924): Documenti-Građa, Centro di ricerche storiche Rovigno, Fiume: Centar za historiju radničkog pokreta i NOR-a Istre, 1982, p. 188.
- Il proletariato internazionale non deve permettere che la classe lavoratrice di Fiume, da cinque anni martire di due imperialismi litiganti, rimanda anche per l'avvenire lo zimbello dell'imperialismo italiano e jugoslavo. In De Felice Renzo, “Il partito comunista di Fiume e il partito comunista d’Italia alla vigilia degli accordi italo-jugoslavi di Roma del gennaio 1924”, Fiume. Rivista di studi fiumani Anno XIII, N.1–2 gennaio-giugno 1967, pp. 85–90
- The Nezavisna radnička partija Jugoslavije, a legal party after the ban on the KPJ, founded in January 1923 in Belgrade – after the ban „Obznana“, on any communist activity proclaimed by the Yugoslav king Alexander on 30 December 1920, up to the proclamation of the new constitution. The Central Committee of the KPJ decided to found a legal workers party for the continuation of the anti-capitalist struggle. In January 1923 in Belgrade was held the “Land Conference” (Zemaljska konferencija) of the KPJ where the party was initiated. The party had its paper „Radnik“ (The Worker). But the government prohibited also the activity of this party and it ceased to exist in 1924.
- Nell'attuale momento internazionale, colla situazione in corso in Germania, lanciare un appello per mobilitare gli operai di tutti i paesi ad un'azione, che non può non essere armata, per liberare Fiume e ridarle l'indipendenza cui agogna, è cosa che non potrebbe avere neppure l'inizio di una esecuzione, e non crediamo che convenga giuocare con le frasi che hanno un preciso significato insurrezionale quando si ha la certezza che non gli corrisponderà nulla di concreto. Mihael Sobolevski, Luciano Giuricin, Il Partito Comunista di Fiume, (1921–1924): Documenti-Građa, Centro di ricerche storiche Rovigno, Fiume: Centar za historiju radničkog pokreta i NOR-a Istre, 1982, p. 194.
- Borsanyi, Gyorgy The life of a Communist revolutionary, Bela Kun translated by Mario Fenyo, Boulder, Colorado : Social Science Monographs ; New York: Distributed by Columbia University Press, 1993.
- Janos, Andrew C. & Slottman, William (editors) Revolution in perspective : essays on the Hungarian Soviet Republic of 1919: Published for the University of California, Berkeley, Center for Slavic and East European Studies, Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1971.
- Menczer, Bela "Bela Kun and the Hungarian Revolution of 1919" pages 299–309 Volume XIX, Issue #5, May 1969, History Today History Today Inc: London, United Kingdom.
- Pastor, Peter, Hungary between Wilson and Lenin : the Hungarian revolution of 1918–1919 and the Big Three, Boulder, Colorado: East European Quarterly ; New York : distributed by Columbia University Press, 1976.
- Szilassy, Sándor Revolutionary Hungary, 1918–1921, Astor Park. Florida, Danubian Press 1971.
- Tokes, Rudolf Béla Kun and the Hungarian Soviet Republic : the origins and role of the Communist Party of Hungary in the revolutions of 1918–1919 New York : published for the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, Stanford, California, by F.A. Praeger, 1967.
- Volgyes, Ivan (editor) Hungary in revolution, 1918–19 : nine essays Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, 1971.
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- Il partito decapitato (La sostituzione del gruppo dirigente del P.C.d'It., 1923–24), L'Internazionale, Milano 1988.
- La liquidazione della sinistra del P.C.d'It. (1925), L'Internazionale, Milano 1991.
- Partito Comunista d'Italia, Secondo Congresso Nazionale – Relazione del CC, Reprint Feltrinelli, 1922, .
- Comintern Archives (in English)
- Comintern Archives (in Russian)
- Article on the Third International from the Encyclopædia Britannica
- Workers' Internationals, at Marxist Internet Archive
- Report from Moscow, 3rd International congress, 1920 by Otto Rühle
- Comintern History Archive Marxists Internet Archive
- The Communist International Journal of the Comintern, Marxists Internet Archive
- Historical Archive of the Communist Left with hundreds of documents of PCd'I