861.00 Party, All-Union Communist/185
The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Henderson) to the Secretary of State
[Received December 1.]
Sir: I have the honor to report that the admission of new members into the Communist Party, which was suspended in December 1932, was resumed on November 1 of this year.
The suspension of admission to the Party in 1932 was undertaken in connection with the Party purge which was inaugurated in that year.* Since the purge was originally supposed to have been carried out and completed during the course of the year 1933, it was evidently the intention of the Party leaders to resume admission to the Party by the beginning of 1934. The resumption of admission, however, was postponed time and time again. The XVII Party Congress fixed it for the “second half of 1934,” but when the time came nothing was done in this direction. Instead, the Kirov murder obviously removed all question of such a step being taken in the immediate future. In the spring of 1935, the resumption of admission was again postponed pending the completion of the verification and exchange of Party documents. On December 25, 1935, the Central Committee, in its resolution concerning the results of the verification of Party documents, placed the date for the resumption of the admission of new members as June 1, 1936. Even this decision, however, was not adhered to and admissions were finally resumed only on November 1, [Page 307] 1936, in accordance with a resolution of the Central Committee dated September 29, 1936.
The long delay in the resumption of the admission of new members to the Party is an eloquent testimonial to the conditions prevailing in the Party in 1933, as they were revealed to the leaders by the purge which was begun in that year. At the time when the admission of new members was stopped, the Party ranks contained approximately two million members and 1,200,000 candidates,† It is doubtful whether there was any intention at that time of cleaning out more than five or ten percent of the Party members before resuming admissions to the Party. By the beginning of 1935, however, the number of Party members had been reduced to 1,655,000 and the number of candidates 334,000. At the present time the number of members must be well below 1,500,000. Thus it is evident that during the period when admission to the Party was closed, an average of more than one out of four of the members were expelled or left the Party.
The resumption of admission of new members is evidence of the fact that Stalin now feels that he has whittled away most of the useless or politically unreliable elements in the organization and has reduced the membership to persons who are believed to be loyal to him. His chief concern at the present moment apparently is that the resumption of admissions shall not lead to a renewed entrance into the Party of elements upon which he cannot unreservedly depend. From his point of view failure wholeheartedly to follow his leadership is disloyalty and this disloyalty is inexcusable, regardless of whether it is motivated by causes not connected with political doctrines (as in the case of numerous careerists and shady elements who have made nests in the Party in the past), or by a too-sincere devotion to the original Communist tenets, as in the case of some of the so-called Trotskiists and certain dissatisfied industrial workers. For this reason the press for the moment is full of admonitions to the local Party officials to observe the statutes of the Party very strictly in the admission of new members and not to allow any wholesale enlistments in the Party ranks.