Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Friday, August 19, 2011

Peter Petroff and the origins of British Bolshevism

The now forgotten but once legendary veteran Russian Marxist
Peter Petroff
(1884-1947) now has a significant collection of his writings in English up on the Marxists Internet Archive. Ted Crawford has written a short biography of him for the site. Petroff played an important role in the origins of not only Russian Bolshevism but also British Bolshevism. In 1907, he had arrived in Britain as a refugee from Tsarist Russia and worked with John Maclean and other socialists up in Glasgow, learning English and relating to them in turn something of the history of the Russian revolutionary movement. Imprisoned during the Great War, Petroff maintained links with Trotsky and returned to Russia after the revolution in 1918, joining the Soviet government. By the 1930s, after being sent to Germany as a special envoy and witnessing the disastrous role Stalinism played at the time of the rise of Hitler, he broke with the Communist International. He then escaped from Nazi Germany back to Britain, where he wrote a classic work The Secret of Hitler’s Victory with his German wife, Irma (1891-1968), published in 1934 by Woolf’s Hogarth Press - which provided a Marxist analysis of the resistable rise of Hitler.

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