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A. Rudzienski

Stalin’s Agents Assassinate Polish Socialist

In a Sealed Coffin

(12 April 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 15, 12 April 1948, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

We have received news of the assassination of Antoni Zdanowski, one of the 200 opposition Socialists arrested and put on trial in Poland. For some time now, we have been calling the attention of the American workers to the offensive of the Kremlin against the workers’ opposition in Poland.

After the wave of strikes in Poland’s industrial centers, principally the last strikes of the textile workers of Lodz, the GPU decided on the “destruction” of the cadres of the workers’ opposition in Poland. The arrests embraced hundreds of socialist and trade union leaders and militants, among thepi prominent leaders of the PPS and the anti-Nazi resistance, like Puzak, Zdanowski, Dziegielewski, Cohn, Obarski, Galaj, etc.

The news which came from behind the prison walls was terrible. The leaders of the workers’ opposition were maltreated in a form worthy of the hangmen of the GPU. At the public trial, the leaders of the Peasant Party appeared without teeth, maltreated and physically broken.

Leading Unionist

Antoni Zdanowski was a prominent figure of the Social Democracy in Poland. Deputy to the Parliament in the pre-war period, he was, at the same time, leader of the trade unions as secretary-general and editor of the union magazine.

During the Nazi occupation he belonged to the leadership of the workers’ resistance movement against the Nazis. After the Russian occupation he belonged to the opposition PPS, whose legalization was prohibited by the NKVD. Under the pressure of Zulawski, only Socialist representative in the Stalinist Parliament of Warsaw, Zdanowski entered the pro- Stalinist PPS and led the opposition against the Stalinists.

In 1945, the Warsaw workers elected him president of the Warsaw PPS Committee against the will of the NKVD. It was at this time that he aroused the ire of the Stalinists.

In 1945 Zdanowski and Zulawski left the pro-Stalinist PPS and presented their candidacies as Independent Socialists. The government’s electoral commission cancelled Zdanowski’s candidacy, fearing his electoral success among the Lodz weavers and the proletariat of Warsaw. When the NKVD (Security Police in Poland) decided to “liquidate” the Socialists of the opposition, Zdanowski headed the black list of victims. He was arrested in June of 1947. He was very badly treated during the questionings.

Sealed Coffin

Now the news arrives that he was assassinated by the “Bezpieka.” His remains were handed over to his family in a SEALED COFFIN; as was the custom of Hitler’s hangmen, his family was prohibited from announcing his death. The death of Zdanowski is kept in strict secrecy.

Even now the Stalinist hangmen do not dare to kill the Socialists openly in prison. They killed the militants of lesser importance “accidentally.” The assassination of Zdanowski, a. leader of international reputation, constitutes the signal that the GPU intends to proceed to the liquidation en masse of the workers’ opposition in Poland. Zdanowski refused to “go soft” under torture and, consequently, it would have been dangerous to have had him stand trial with the other members of the PPS.

At the same time news has arrived, that the peasant deputy, Bryja, who fled with Mikolajczyk and was captured by the Czech Stalinists and returned to Bierut’s Security Police, committed suicide in prison after being subjected to torture.

These assassinations signify that in the countries of the Soviet zone, the era of the extermination of the workers’ and peasants’ opposition, the era of the “Moscow Trials,” is beginning.

Those assassinated by the NKVD were not our comrades either in terms of doctrine or party. Nevertheless, they were our comrades in the struggle against Stalinism.

For this reason, we, the revolutionary socialists, must address ourselves to all the workers’ tendencies in the world, especially in the United States, so that they may raise their voices in protest against the NKVD terror in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia [1], Russia, etc.

Comrades, American workers, raise your powerful voice of protest, regardless of differences of political belief. The cause of the assassinated and persecuted workers is your cause. Long live the international solidarity of the proletariat against the capitalist reaction and the Stalinist barbarism! Long live the socialist world front!

Note by ETOL

1. “Yugoslovakia” in printed original.

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