This post is both a resource and a request for info.

I am compiling a bibliography of communist memoirs for a future project. Please feel free to comment/email/tweet any sources I will have missed.

I am particularly interested in Comintern-era autobiography/memoirs (1919-1943) of international activists who spent periods in the Soviet Union. However, I have included some works by activists from the post-WW2 era that nonetheless shed light on an earlier period. I have also included works that are important personal accounts but not necessarily memoirs, such as Dimitrov’s diary. I would also be keen to hear about relevant document and oral history collections or unpublished manuscripts accessible in archives. Note: I have not included memoirs of the Spanish Civil War – this is a genre so large that it merits a separate bibliography.

This list is focused on works originally published in English or available in translation although I am open to suggestions of works in other languages. Please excuse some referencing irregularities – I exported this from Zotero and it mangled a few of the citations.

Researchers will know that many of the authors listed below (both the lifelong communists and ex-communists) had axes to grind. The usual provisos about unreliable narrators apply. In particular, Krebs’ Into the Night is a highly unreliable work – though I have kept it on the list as an atmospheric work perhaps best described as Comintern fiction.

I. Published Autobiographies/Memoirs

Alba, Victor, Sísifo y su Tiempo, Barcelona, 1996
Andrade, Juan, Recuerdos Personales, 1983.
Balabanoff, Angelica, My Life as a Rebel, 1938.
Beal, Fred Erwin. Proletarian Journey: New England, Gastonia, Moscow. New York: Capo Press, 1971.
Bentley, Elizabeth, Out of Bondage: The Story of Elizabeth Bentley. New York: Ivy 1988.
Berkman, Alexander, The Bolshevik Myth, 1989.
Bonnėr, Elena. Mothers and Daughters. Vintage, 1993.
Borghi, Armando, Vivere da anarchic, 1966.
Buber-Neumann, Margarete. Under Two Dictators New York: Dodd, Mead, 1949.
Buck, Tim, Yours in the Struggle: Reminiscences of Tim Buck, NC Press, 1977.
Bullejos, José, La Comintern en España: recuerdos de mi vida, 1972.
Cooney, Bob, Proud Journey: A Spanish Civil War Memoir, Croydon. 2015.
Crossman, R. H. S. The God That Failed New York: Columbia University Press, 2001.
de Bellmunt, Doménec, ‘El Catalá de l’URSS (Biografia d’Andreu Nin’, Homes de la Terra, 1935
Damodaran, K. ‘Memoir of an Indian Communist’, New Left Review, 1:93 (Sept/Oct, 1975).
Dash, Jack, Good Morning Brothers! London, 1969.
Dennis, Peggy. The Autobiography of an American Communist Westport: Lawrence Co., 1977.
Dewar, Margaret. The Quiet Revolutionary: The Autobiography of Margaret Dewar. London. Bookmarks. 1989.
Dimitrov, Georgi, Ivo Banac, Jane T Hedges, Timothy D Sergay, Irina Faion. The Diary Georgi Dimitrov 1933-1949 New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2018.
Drachkovitch, Milorad / Lazić, Branko – The Comintern: historical
highlights, essays, recollections, documents (Stanford, 1966)
Erenburg, Ilʹia. Memoirs: 1921-1941. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1966.
Fischer, Ernst. An Opposing Man. New York: Liveright, 1975.
Fischer, Louis. Men and Politics: An Autobiography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood 1970.
———. Soviet Journey. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1974.
Fischer, Markoosha. My Lives in Russia. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1944.
Fischer, Ruth – Stalin and German Communism (Cambridge, 1948)
Forti, Steven, Un vocal español en la Komintern, 2018.
Foster, William Z., From Bryan to Stalin, International Publishers, 1937
Freeman, Joseph. An American Testament, a Narrative of Rebels and Romantics. V. Gollancz, 1938.
Gallacher, Willie, The Last Memoirs of William Gallacher, London, 1966.
———, Revolt on the Clyde, London, 1949.
Gates, John. The Story of an American Communist. Nelson, 1959.
Halle, Fannina, Women in the Soviet East, London, 1938.
———, Women in Soviet Russia, New York: Viking Press, 1935
Hallström, Björn. I Believed in Moscow. London: Lutterworth Press, 1953.
Hardy, George, Those Stormy Years: Memories of the Fight for Freedom on Five Continents, London. 1956.
Haywood, Harry. Black Bolshevik: Autobiography of an Afro-American Chicago: Liberator Press, 1978.
Hernández, Jesús, Yo fui un ministro de Stalin, 1974
———, El país de la gran mentira, 1974
Herrick, William. Jumping the Line: The Adventures and Misadventures of an Radical. University of Wisconsin Press, 1998.
Hobsbawm, E. J. Interesting Times: A Twentieth-Century Life. London: Abacus, 2010.
Hoelz, Max, Vom „Weißen Kreuz“ zur Roten Fahne. Jugend-, Kampf- und
Zuchthauserlebnisse. (Berlin 1929. reprint Frankfurt/M 1969)
Hümbelin, Lotte. Mein eigener Kopf: ein Frauenleben in Wien, Moskau, Prag, Paris Zürich. Zürich 1999.
Huppert, Hugo, and Martin Reso. Einmal Moskau und zurück: Stationen meines Autobiographie. Wien: Globus Verlag, 1987.
Hyde, Douglas, I Believed, London, 1951.
Ibárruri, Dolores. They Shall Not Pass: The Autobiography of La Pasionaria, 2005.
Ibáñez, Jesús, Memorias de mi cadáver: novela encajada, 1946
Jacobs, Joe, Out of the Ghetto: My Youth in the East End, Communism and Fascism, 1913-1939, Phoenix Press, 1991.
Jung, Franz, Der Weg nach unten. Aufzeichnungen aus einer großen Zeit
(Berlin, 1961; republished 1988)
———, Reise in Russland, Berlin, 1920?
Kennell, Ruth Epperson. Theodore Dreiser and the Soviet Union, 1927-1945: A First-Hand         Chronicle. New York: International Publishers, 1969.
Knüfken, Hermann – Von Kiel bis Leningrad (Berlin, 2008)
Koestler, Arthur. Arrow in the Blue: The First Volume of an Autobiography: 1905-31, 2011.
———. The Invisible Writing: The Second Volume of an Autobiography: 1932-40, 2011.
Kolman, Ernest, My Ne Dolzhny Byli tak Zhit’, New York, 1982 (Russian)
Kramer, Hilde, Rebellin in München, Moskau und Berlin: Autobiographisches Fragment, 1900-1924, Egon Günther and Thies Marsen (eds) (Berlin, 2011)
Krebs, Richard (Jan Valtin), Out of the Night, New York. 1942
Kunitz, Joshua, Dawn Over Samarkand: The Rebirth of Central Asia, 1943.
Kuusinen, Aino. Before and after Stalin: A Personal Account of Soviet Russia from the 1920s to the 1960s. London: Joseph, 1974.
Lansbury, Violet. An Englishwoman in the U.S.S.R. Putnam, 1940.
Leder, Mary, and Laurie Bernstein Rutgers. My Life in Stalinist Russia: An American                 Woman Looks Back. Bloomington, Indiana University Press ; 2002.
León, María Teresa, and Gregorio Torres Nebrera. Memoria de la melancolía. Madrid:                 Editorial Castalia, 1999.
Leonhard, Wolfgang. Child of the Revolution. London: Ink Links, 1979.
Lewenstein, Henry-Ralph. Die Karl-Liebknecht-Schule in Moskau, 1932-1937: Erinnerungen eines Schülers. Lüneburg: Nordostdeutsches Kulturwerk, 1991.
Lyons, Eugene. Assignment in Utopia. New York and London: Transaction, 1991.
Mannin, Ethel, South to Samarkand, London, 1936.
Maurín, Joaquín, Hombres e Historia, 1961. Partly available online.
Mayenburg, Ruth von. Hotel Lux. Frankfurt am Main: Ullstein, 1981.
McCarthy, Margaret. Generation in Revolt. London: William Heinemann, 1953.
McKay, Claude – A Long Way from Home (New York, 1937 – republished
Rutgers University Press 2007)
Mendel, Hersh, Memoirs of a Jewish Revolutionary, London: Pluto Press, 1989.
Meyer-Leviné, Rosa, Inside German Communism, Memoirs of Party Life in
the Weimar Republic (London, 1977)
Murphy, J. T. New Horizons, 1973.
Murphy, Molly. Molly Murphy: Suffragette and Socialist. Salford: Institute of Social Research, 1998.
Nelken, Margarita. Las torres del Kremlin. México: Industrial y Distribuidora, 1943.
Nelson, Steve, James R Barrett, and Rob Ruck. Steve Nelson, American Radical.  Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 1992.
Pàmies, Teresa, Testament in Prague. University Press of the South, 2005.
Paynter, Will. My Generation. London: Allen and Unwin, 1972.
Pérez Solís, Oscar, Memorias de mi Amigo Oscar Perea, 1931.
Petroff, Peter, The Autobiography of Peter Petroff
Piratin, Phil, Our Flag Stays Red, London, 2006.
Pestaña, Ángel, Setenta días en Rusia: Lo que yo pienso (1924)
———,  Setenta días en Rusia: Lo que yo vi (2013)
Piatnitsky, O., Memoirs of a Bolshevik (London, 1925)
Pollak, Stephen W., Strange Land Behind Me, Falcon Press, 1951.
Pollitt, Harry. Serving My Time: An Apprenticeship to Politics London, 1973.
Pollitt, Marjorie. A Rebel Life: Marjorie Pollitt Recalls Her Life and Times. Ultimo: Red Pen Publications, 2007.
Reed, John, Ten Days that Shook the World, Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2019.
Retzlaw, Karl – Spartacus: Aufstieg und Niedergang. Erinnerungen eines
Parteiarbeiters (1985)
Rocker, Rudolf, Revolución y Regresión, 1952.
Rosmer, Alfred. Lenin’s Moscow, Reprinted by Haymarket, 2016.
Roux, Edward, Time Longer Than Rope: A History of the Black Man’s Struggle for Freedom in South Africa, University of Wisconsin Press. 1966.
Roy, M. N. Memoirs. Bombay; New York: Allied Publishers, 1964.
Ruge, Wolfgang, and Eugen Ruge. Gelobtes Land: meine Jahre in Stalins Sowjetunion. Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2012.
Scott, John, Behind the Urals: An American Worker in Russia’s City of Steel, London, 1942
Serge, Victor, Memoirs of a Revolutionary. New York: NYRB, 2012.
Shipman, Charles, It Had to be Revolution, 1993
Smith, A. E., All My Life: An Autobiography, Toronto, 1949.
Souchy, Augustin, Attention Anarchiste: Une Vie pour la Liberté, 2016.
Stassowa, Jelena (Elena Stassova) – Genossin „Absolut“: Erinnerungen (Berlin, 1969) – translation of the Russian original, published in Moscow, 1969.
Stewart, Bob. Breaking the Fetters: The Memoirs of Bob Stewart. London: Lawrence et Wishart, 1967.
Strong, Anna Louise. I Change Worlds London: G. Routledge and Sons, 1935.
———, Red Star in Samarkand, London, 1930.
Szurek, Aleksander, Hilda R Grunblatt, and Jacques Grunblatt. The Shattered Dream. Boulder; Columbia University Press, 1989.
Thorez, Maurice. Son of the People; New York: International Publishers, 1938.
Treeper, Leopold, The Great Game: The Story of the Red Orchestra, London, 1979.
Tuominen, Arvo. The Bells of the Kremlin: An Experience in Communism. London, 1983.
Usmani, Shaukat, Historic Trips of a Revolutionary: Sojourn in the Soviet Union, New Dehli. Sterling Publishers. 1977.
Utley, Freda. Lost Illusion. 1995.
Wang, Fanxi. Memoirs of a Chinese Revolutionary. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991.
Wat, Alexander, My Century, New York: NYRB, 2013.
Wicks, Harry. Keeping My Head: The Memoirs of a British Bolshevik. London: Socialist Platform Ltd., 1992.
Ypsilon. Pattern for World Revolution. Chicago; New York: Ziff-Davis Pub. Co., 1947.
Zhang, Guotao. The Rise of the Chinese Communist Party, 1928-1938. Lawrence: Univ. Pr. of Kansas, 1972.

II. Unpublished Memoirs, Archival Material and Relevant Resources

Beauchamp, Kay, Unpublished Memoir, People’s History Museum
Bittleman, Alex, Things I Have Learned, Unpublished Memoir, Tamiment Library
Bondfield, Margaret, Diary of a 1920 Visit to Soviet Russia, London Metropolitan University archives.
Cox, Idris, Unpublished Memoir, People’s History Museum
Jeifets, Víctor, La Internacional Comunista y Américana Latina, 1919-1943: Diccionario Biográfico (A very useful biographical dictionary for Spanish speakers, available as an Open Access PDF)
Leval, Gaston, Mémoires, Unpublished Memoir, IISH Amsterdam
Page-Arnot, Robin, Unpublished Memoirs, Hull History Centre
Thompson Patterson, Louise, Unpublished Memoir, Yale University.
Struik, Dirk, Unpublished Memoir, MIT
Papers of S. P. Bunting (Founder of South African CP and attendee at 6th Comintern Congress)

Thanks: In no particular order, thanks to Brigid O’Keeffe, Michael D. Gordin, Evan Smith, Daryl Leeworthy, Marc Mulholland, Hannah Proctor, Owen Hatherley, Fraser Raeburn, Arturo Rodríguez, Mark Rosen, Dean Dettloff, Claire Roosien and Geoff Robinson for pointing me towards books I would not have found otherwise!

One thought on “Autobiographical Literature of the Comintern Era

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