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  • New Light From the Russian Archives: Chinese Stalinists and Trotskyists at the International Lenin School in Moscow, 1926-1938
  • Alexander V. Pantov (bio) and Daria A. Spichak (bio)

Soviet support of the Chinese Communist movement in the 1920s and 1930s was truly all-encompassing. Not only did the Comintern directly finance the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), but it also greatly helped the party train its cadres in the USSR. This kind of help required a huge amount of money. By 1930, the Bolsheviks had spent five million rubles for training the Chinese revolutionaries at only one of its international schools.1 Meanwhile, in the Soviet Union there was a vast network of such institutions. The largest international school in the Soviet Union was Sun Yat-sen University of the Toilers of China (UTK in Russian abbreviation), which operated from 1925 to 1930 (in 1928 it was renamed the Communist University of the Toilers of China [KUTK]).

In addition, many other schools also operated during this time.2 Among these institutions the International Lenin School (MLSh) occupied a distinctive place. It functioned from 1926 to 1938, and it was specially designated for the CCP and other foreign Communist parties' top cadres. In the 1936 to 1938 period, in Moscow there also was another important training center for Chinese students, the Scientific Research Institute of National and Colonial Issues (NIINKP). From the late 1930s to the early 1940s Chinese students in the Soviet Union received training at a secret Chinese Party School that was also known as the CCP Central Committee (CC) Party School. It was formally affiliated with the Central Committee of the USSR International Proletarian Revolutionaries' Aid Organization (MOPR) and it was located in [End Page 29] Kuchino near Moscow. It was secretly coded the "NIINKP 7th , 8th , and 15th Sections."3

The post-1991 opening of the Soviet Communist Party and the Comintern secret archives including the archives of the Comintern international schools has laid a new foundation for thorough scholarly research of Chinese Communist history as well as for the history of the training of the Chinese revolutionary cadres in the USSR. Memoirs of former students and instructors who worked at these schools are also of great significance. Among them are recollections by Chiang Ching-kuo ( 1910-1988), Afanasii G. Krymov (Guo Zhaotang 1905-1989), Liu Renjing ( 1902-1987), Ma Yuansheng ( 1906-1977), Sheng Yue ( 1907-2007), Shi Zhe ( 1905-1998), Tang Youzhang ( 1906-2000), Wang Fanxi ( 1907-2002), Wang Jueyuan (), Yang Xingfu (), Zhang Guotao ( 1897-1979), and others.4 In addition, the memoir of Lena Din-Savva (1937- ), who was a daughter of two Chinese students of the Communist University of the Toilers of the East (KUTV), is also of enormous importance.5

A number of scholars have taken the first steps in researching these precious materials. These include Vladimir P. Galitskii, Alexander G. Larin, N. N. Timofeeva, Gerontii V. Yefimov, and Yu Minling as well as a group of historians at the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Far Eastern Studies Center of Modern Chinese History.6 Vladimir N. Nikiforov and Victor N. Usov have also examined some issues [End Page 30] connected with the CCP cadres' training.7 These specialists have, however, focused exclusively on the period of the 1920s. Furthermore, they have only examined the history of the UTK/KUTK and KUTV.

The history of the International Lenin School, NIINKP, and the Chinese Party School has remained outside researchers' purview. Nonetheless, an examination of the MLSh documents helps us better understand the evolution of the Comintern system of supervision over the CCP. The history of NIINKP and the Chinese Party School also add important details to this analysis. This article seeks to shed light on a dramatic story of the MLSh Chinese sector that was at first an essential part of the "elite" party school. The MLSh eventually fell under total control of the Soviet Stalinists, who then imposed a reign of terror on it.

MLSH as the Comintern's "Elite " Party School

The International Lenin School (MLSh) for top party officials was established in the mid-1920s, a turbulent period in the world revolutionary movement, by a resolution of the...


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