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The Communists’ Capital1

Morten Thing

This article was first published in Arbejderhistorie, No.3, 1995. The translation is by Mike Jones, and appeared in an slightly edited version in the April 1998 issue of the Communist History Network Newsletter.

"CONFIDENCE, spirit of self-sacrifice and belief are the capital of the communists." The words are Martin Nielsen’s with clear reference to the indestructible debate about Moscow gold. Throughout the years the denials of the Danish Communist Party (DKP) have been Pavlovian. The party was produced by its members’ sacrifices and not a penny received from the Soviet Union. Now that Russian archives, including those of the CPSU and Comintern, are accessible to researchers, we can investigate the matter with less passion. And the history of the communists’ capital is wholly different to that claimed by the communists, as I will document below.

For the Danish party we do not – yet – have a whole series of documents concerning its financial support, and access to key parts of the archives has been subject to politically determined fluctuations. This, for example, is the case for the Comintern period (1919-1943), where the two central archive units, namely the budget commission and the OMS (section for illegal transactions), were opened only to particular researchers and are now totally closed again. And for the post-war period only some of the documents concerning financial transfers are declassified and accessible. But in both cases we can lean on the researchers who did get access to the relevant archives for information about Danish circumstances, and draw parallels from similar circumstances elsewhere.

The German Revolution Costs Millions
From his many years as a professional revolutionary Lenin knew that theory and self sacrifice are not enough. Money is required to get an organisation functioning. During the First World War he recognised the need for a new International. Then, after seizing power in November 1917, it soon became obvious to him that in order to succeed the Russian Revolution needed support from revolutions in the heartlands of capitalism, first and foremost in Germany, Britain and France. These different perspectives were linked in Lenin’s plan to establish a Third Communist International.

A conference called to discuss the idea in March 1919 was declared the International’s first congress. Lenin was convinced that if the European revolution was to save the Russian one, then it would require money. But it was precisely money that was in short supply in the war-torn country. The first large sums which the Comintern had at its disposal came therefore from confiscated jewels and diamonds, even from the sale of morphine.2 Thus, on 30 May 1919, jewellery worth 300,500 roubles,3 morphine worth 7,500 roubles, plus cash: 100,000 German marks, 100,000 Swedish crowns and 6,500 roubles, was transferred to Germany. On 9 September 1919, jewellery worth 250,000 roubles was transferred, and on 28 September 1919, jewellery worth 639,000 roubles. Most of the money was administered by Jakob Reich with the alias Thomas,4 who also built up the Comintern’s propaganda apparatus in Germany. For 1921 alone, the Comintern paid out more than 10 million marks to the publishing enterprise, which only took c. half a million marks in receipts.

SAP and the Comintern Money
When Marie Nielsen established the Socialistisk Arbejderparti in March 1918, she used 750 crowns of her own savings in the enterprise in order to establish the weekly paper Klassekampen. She also received a contribution of 800 crowns from the Zimmerwald Commission in Stockholm. It was a further development of the wartime left-wing opposition and was led by the Russian Angelica Balabanova and the Swedish left-socialist Zeth Höglund. On 2 December 1919, the Comintern transferred 4,000 pounds, 4,000 dollars, 52,000 Swedish crowns and 25,000 German marks to the Swedish bureau.5 The money was surely destined for the Scandinavian parties. Already during 1919, when Socialistisk Arbejderparti was in difficulties, the Swede Otto Grimlund, at that time the Comintern’s treasurer, had to pay out to save Klassekampen from going under. On 1 October 1919, Grimlund granted 10,000 Swedish crowns to pay off the paper’s debts, and wrote to Nielsen: "It seems to me hopeless to continue throwing such unprecedented sums at KK as we have done up to now."6 The size of these large sums is not known, but an informer, presumably a police-agent, indicated a sum of 100,000 crowns.7 At the Comintern Executive (ECCI) session of 21 January 1919, it was decided to send a courier to Denmark in order to unite the forces in support of the Comintern. The minutes also indicate that the courier would be taking 12,000 roubles with him.8 The Danish police were very concerned about rumours of Russian money passing through Copenhagen during 1919, particularly the trading in roubles. The Bolsheviks were printing false Romanov roubles which, according to information given to the police, they sold in Copenhagen. And when the British gave the Whites in Archangel permission to issue their own roubles, the Bolsheviks also began to forge them and sold them in Copenhagen.9 However, the police never succeeded in getting closer to the events than the rumours.

The Comintern was desperate to establish Communist parties in Europe. And to that end money was required. Jewellery, diamonds and money were smuggled in and then used in a very generous financing of the often very tiny communist parties. According to the already mentioned survey of the 1919-20 period, the following was sent to Italy: 15,200 German marks, 331,800 Finnish marks, 13,000 Swedish crowns, 300,000 roubles and jewellery to the value of 487,000 roubles. The following was sent to the USA: jewellery worth c. 2.7 million roubles. To France went jewellery worth 2.5 million roubles in 1919, and jewellery worth 1 million roubles plus 1.6 million German marks in 1920. The Poles received 10 million (presumably roubles). Jewellery worth 8.5 million roubles went to Britain, and £55,000, equivalent today to about £1 million, is said to have gone to establish the CPGB and at the same time support the Independent Labour Party.10 When comrade Thomas/Reich returned to Germany in 1921, he brought with him 25 million marks in gold, comparable to 37 million paper marks.11 When one considers that Russia, at that time, was suffering one of its worst famines, costing the lives of millions, one understands how desperately Lenin relied on the revolution spreading, but also the human costs of this policy.

VSP, DKP and the Money 1919-45
Venstresocialistisk Parti (VSP) was set up in November 1919, when a number of small left-wing groups united. The party affiliated to the Comintern and participated in its Second Congress in 1920, changing its name to Danmarks Kommunistiske Parti (DKP) in accordance with the CI’s 21 conditions. We know little about its subventions in the earlier years but we can be sure that the party received support. The Swedish party (Sveriges Vänstersocialistiska Parti), even before it became the Swedish Communist Party (SKP) in 1920, received 100,000 Swedish crowns from the Comintern. Later that year it received another 50-55,000 Swedish crowns from the ECCI’s budget commission, something like 1 million crowns at today’s value.12

In August 1920, Martin Andersen Nexø sounded out the possibilities in Moscow of fusion between DKP and Fagoppositionens Samenslutning (FS – a syndicalist organisation). Already financial questions were raised, a fusion could only occur if the FS daily Solidaritet could be maintained in one form or another. And one found that form in the idea of a federation. Subsequently, Christen Christensen from FS clearly stated that it was the Comintern money that sugared the bitter federation pill. When Solidaritet and the DKP daily Arbejdet were fused into Arbejderbladet in May 1921, the Comintern granted 65,000 crowns – today about 700,000 crowns – to cover its operational costs for the first quarter. That was more than any of those involved had dreamt of, so they splashed out on employees.13

This was not the only money DKP received in 1921. In the archive of party chairman Ernst Christiansen, a unique set of letters from the Swedish communist Oskar Samuelson, the Comintern’s Scandinavian treasurer at the time, is preserved; he distributed large sums to both the USA and to the European parties.14 Samuelson appears in the letters under different pseudonyms: G. Carlson, Gustav Carlson, Gustav Gustavson, Gustav and Lang, all in the same handwriting. And the name Lang was precisely Samuelson’s alias. The letters are addressed to "Carl Madsen, Köpenhamn" and are commonly rendered in an "easy code", as if they were business correspondence. For example, on 1 July 1921, he writes (in Swedish): "I send you in the meantime for the purpose of the agreed commodities 10,000 crowns – Swedish money. At a later opportunity we will study more closely the prices and other conditions of delivery that you are to send us as soon as possible. Send an immediate confirmation of receipt."15 But the subject dealt with is not always so effectively hidden. On 5  August Karl Madsen is called "Kamrat", and in the letter it says, among other things: "You can tell the returned delegates that they hardly have any cause to complain about unjust treatment. LH has in no way been shown any favouritism by us, on the contrary, we could rather say that this is the case concerning certain others, for example, the very latest returned delegate from the shoeworkers, whom you can ask how much he received from us." Or, as in the letter of 31 October 1921: "Received your letter of the 27th, and I see that you mention a question about Aage J, which was contained in a letter I never received (to whom was this letter sent?). With this matter it is the case that I wrote to Pjat to get a directive." And later Russia is mentioned, so that we know it concerns Piatnitski, leader of the Comintern’s OMS department. One of the preserved letters is partially written in a number code, in which each letter consists of two figures, such as 23/1. The code, which also survives, consists of two strips, whereby the first has a vertical series of letters (the Swedish alphabet) framed in squares. The second has three rows: a vertical row of numbers, a vertical row of square holes and a vertical row of letters in square frames and in another order than on the first strip. By laying the two over each other one can translate numbers to letters according to a varying value. The decoded letter is an enquiry whether Richard Jensen can send a "Finnish comrade illegally to America".

Most of the letters concern money, and the recipients are numerous. Thus Arbejderbladet is described as "Jos & C’s business" (Johs Erwig and Chr Christensen were the editors), the publishing house is called "TT’s business" (Thøger Thøgersen ran the publishing house), while DKP is called "Your own movement". The letters contain traces of many requests for money, many warnings not to use too much and constant demands for receipts and budgets. One sees here the beginning of the development of the special relationship between Moscow and the individual parties. Since the party can always use more money, then one asks for it. The money should really go towards recruiting more members and more readers. Instead it looks as if money acts towards cementing the party together as something one can live off. In this way, the money becomes something very central in the development of the relationship between Moscow and DKP – or any other party.

If one adds up all the payments named in the letters and calculates the Swedish crowns into Danish crowns, then from 1 July to December 1921 there are payments of 64,060 crowns. In this sum is probably included a part of the 65,000 which was granted for May, June and July, but still the major part relates to the rest of the year.

However, the subvention granted was quickly reduced16 and "the generosity" of the earlier years was replaced by precisely calculated grants according to recommendations from ECCI’s budget commission.17 For example, for 1922 we know that DKP requested a support of 210,000 crowns but the party only got 18,750 crowns. The Danes received 5,000 gold roubles for 1924, the same is the case for 1925.18

Moscow was not impressed with the Danish party’s results. Its violent factional struggles took up most space in the reports. For the 1926 election the party succeeded in getting an extraordinary subsidy of 3,700 crowns,19 but that was an unusually large amount. Comparing the few details we have on DKP’s subsidisation in the 1920s with those available for other parties, there seems to be a clear relationship between the significance Comintern ascribed to the party and the subsidy granted. We know that the Dutch party got a fixed sum every quarter, but there were also individual large amounts granted after requests to the budget commission. In the French party’s case it seems that up to one third of its expenditure was covered by the subsidy during the 1920s. The Swiss party had c. 60% of its expenses paid by the subsidy during the 1930s.20 However, the Danish party was a problem-child put on a starvation diet, but the system of a fixed allocation plus possible extraordinary subsidies seems to have been the same. When the CI emissary Heinrich Wiennecke came to Copenhagen in January 1930, in order to cut the Gordian factional knot, he requested the Comintern to quickly send "the regular subsidy", and the calculating of a quarterly budget.21 Regular requests are made for extraordinary subsidies as the party is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy – not just the once.22 It is not easy to determine the amounts from this material but only the subsidies’ significance: as much for the big as for the little party they very quickly became a modus vivendi, and gradually a necessity, too. It is thus obvious that the party’s ready response in relation to Russian wishes and orders becomes more sensitive when the party is economically in the pocket of the Comintern. A possible straw in the wind can be found in the balance sheet for Arbejderbladet – in the period August 1929 to June 1930. The paper’s total income is 18,000 crowns. To this is added a subsidy of 4,700 crowns, which presumably came from the Comintern.23

The System in the Thirties
A group of declassified telegrams sent between Copenhagen and Moscow in the years 1934-36, intercepted and decoded by British intelligence, throw quite a good light on the traffic in money in the 30s.24 After the Nazis took power in Germany in 1933, the Comintern’s Western Bureau was moved from Berlin and was for a time in Copenhagen, where it was installed in the new office block Vesterport in Vesterbrogade. On 1 January 1936 it was moved to Prague and Paris. The telegrams show how, not just DKP, but also other parties and Comintern organisations received money via Copenhagen. The money was sent in large quantities to a person who functioned as a "bank" for later payments to parties, persons and organisations. The first decoded telegram is from the 10 September 1934 (No.54) and says:

"KUDDEL. Pay Secretariat Sportintern for current work 3800 Dutch florins repeat 3800 Dutch florins and Oskar for KP Estonia 2000 Danish crowns repeat 2000 Danish crowns. MICHAEL."

So code-name Kuddel received an instruction from Michael/the Comintern to pay out 3,800 Dutch guilder to the Secretariat of the Sport International and 2,500 Danish crowns to the illegal Estonian party, whose leadership was resident in Copenhagen. On other occasions it was the Polish or the White-Russian communist party. However, the telegrams also contain information and instructions about other matters than money. Sometimes Copenhagen replied that a courier had arrived with money, or that the order could not be carried out due to pecuniary problems. On the 16 September 1935, a telegram from Moscow reads: "Fetch 10,000 repeat 10,000 American dollars immediately with very trustworthy courier in Stockholm."

The political instructions could also be followed by economic compensation, as in the following telegram of the 3 November 1934: "Danish Youth ZK/Print our letter to the Executive Branch of the SJI at once. Produce at least 25,000 copies. Expenses will be refunded. Wire when completed./ KIM." The Communist Youth International required the Danish CP Youth CC to print KIM’s message to the Socialist Youth International.

A telegram of the 3 January 1935 quite simply states: "Aksal must silence the Soz. Dem. campaign of lies by an article in the Party Press that for a short time in 1928 he had felt sympathy for the Sinowiew Trotzki opposition, that later he became convinced of the counterrevolutionary character of this opposition...." Obviously this was addressed to Aksel Larsen who, during his stay in the Soviet Union 1925-29 had for a time belonged to the opposition, which the social-democratic daily Social-Demokraten, via the pen of the ex-chairman of DKP, now a journalist on the paper, Ernst Christiansen, had covered in a series of articles.

If we accept that the decoded telegrams represent the whole of the telegram traffic between Moscow and Copenhagen, then for 1935 33,562 Swedish crowns were paid out, and for the first eight months of 1936 47,126 Swedish crowns, corresponding to 70,689 Swedish crowns per year. Converted into Danish crowns it equals 3,233 crowns per month and 6,812 respectively. If we convert it to today’s value it equals 82,000 Danish crowns per month in 1935 and 172,000 in 1936 [divide by eleven for pounds sterling during the 2000-2004 period - trans.]. On top of that, the DKP Youth received an annual subsidy of 3,500 Swedish crowns, equal to 102,000 Danish crowns today. It appears, however, that the series of telegrams is incomplete, and therefore payments, too. Regardless, these are quite significant subsidies.

The same system seems to have operated throughout the thirties. Of course we can only guess the size of the grants for other years. On the other hand, what is absolutely clear from the details in these telegrams, is that UP was cronically dependent on the subsidy and had to regularly press for it due to lack of money. For elections or other extraordinary occasions more money was requested, and often granted.

DKP held regular collections which could give the impression to observers that its income derived from such events. But the question is whether not the collections were precisely so successful because they were a device for camouflaging the Comintern support.

In his biography of Aksel Larsen, Kurt Jakobsen writes about a collection at Christmas 1939: "The 10,000 crowns was attained in the course of just four days, and in total the collection officially reached 56,000 at the same time, renewed extraordinary economic support from Moscow arrived again."25 In November 1939, Alfred Jensen was in Moscow to raise "the question of an economic subsidy to party and paper". After a recommendation by Florin, secretary with responsibility for Danish affairs at ECCI, the subsidy was adopted.26

The War
On 9 April 1940, Aksel Larsen and Martin Nielsen were in Moscow for discussions, and henceforth the link to Moscow was maintained by Larsen writing letters in a simple code (i.e. with changed names) about the party’s and country’s situation. There was another informer for the Comintern in Copenhagen, as one can see from the reports in the Comintern archive. Whether during this time, and also later during the party’s wartime illegality, money was still transferred is not known. But in the telegrams received by Comintern from the Swedish party, it appears that Nexø had operated as a money-courier, that the Swedish party received relatively large sums of money every quarter (from 10,000 to 60,000 Swedish crowns), and that it had the task of mediating information from Denmark and Norway. It is quite conceivable that SKP received money for DKP’s operating costs in Sweden during the latter’s illegality, perhaps also for further transference to Denmark.27

The New System
The Comintern was officially dissolved in the summer of 1943. However, its General Secretary, the Bulgarian Dimitrov, continued at least until some time in 1944 as leader of a secretariat, which collaborated with the foreign ministry and the intelligence services regarding information on parties and persons. From 1944, the fighting communist parties began to reappear out of illegality, and Dimitrov himself later went home to Bulgaria. The World Party, the Communist International, was dissolved, and the individual parties were now autonomous and independent from any leadership beyond their own congresses, as also from the Soviet party (VKP(b)). That at least was the case on the formal and juridical plane.

In reality, the VKP(B) had come out of the war with an enormous authority, more than enough to replace the formal subordination. Moreover, the apparatus for continued links in these new times was already created just after Comintern’s dissolution. A large foreign department with its basis in Stalin’s secretariat28 was set up in VKB(b)s Central Committee and kept up links to the communist parties. This department could draw on the foreign service of the Soviet state, for no precise line was drawn between party and state authorities. As yet we do not exactly know how and under which forms the "new system" was established. We do know that Martin Nielsen, while on the death-march from Stutthof, was gathered up by the Red Army and flown to Moscow. Here he had conversations with Dimitrov and when he arrived home on 31 May 1945, he brought drawings with him for the DKP.29 We do not know the contents of the drawings but one can see from the first correspondence conducted, that DKP’s relationship to the CPSU was akin to that towards the Comintern earlier. For example, in September 1946, deputy foreign minister Dekanozov writes to Zhdanov, the VKP(B) secretary, about a conversation with the ambassador in Denmark, Plakhin, who informs him that DKP intended to send Alfred Jensen to Moscow: "According to comrade Plakhin the leadership of the Danish communist party needs advice. The comrades in the leadership feel unsure about everything they do."30 In the following years, the new system was extended with the formation of Cominform in 1947, including the communist parties of Italy and France as well as the "people’s democracies". We cannot say for sure whether renewed financial support began immediately the war ended, but from 1950 at least it took on concrete forms.

A number of the new people’s democracies had individually supported various west European parties; particularly the PCF, which was supported by the Hungarian (150,000 dollars), the Polish (100,000 dollars) and the Czechoslovak communist party (100,000 dollars). On 19 July 1950, the VKP(B) Politbureau decided to set up the "International Trade Union Fund for the support of left-wing working class organisations", with its seat in Bucharest under the Rumanian trade union council. The aim was to give financial support to foreign left-wing parties, progressive trade unions and social organisations. In the first year 2 million dollars was to be put into the fund, of which VKP(B) contributed 1 million dollars, the Chinese communist party 200,000 dollars, East Germany’s SED, the Polish United Workers Party, the Czechoslovak communist party, the Rumanian and Hungarian parties each 160,000 dollars. The fund was to be managed by a representative from VKP(B) together with one each from the Polish and the Rumanian parties. On 16 August 1950, V. Grigorian, leader of the foreign department, informed Stalin, that Boris Ponomarev had negotiated with Gheorghiu-Dej, Rakosi, Gottwald, Pieck and Bierut from the respective parties, who had all replied positively, although Gottwald had been less enthusiastic. No reply had come from Mao Zedong,31 but it arrived, as did the 200,000 dollars. In January 1951, Grigorian informed Stalin on how the money had been used. In the last six months of 1950, eleven parties had received money. The top-scorer was the Finnish communist party with 874,000 dollars, followed by the PCF, which received 300,000 dollars on top of the 300,000 it had received earlier in the year. Interestingly enough, the PCI had received 400,000 dollars while the Italian Socialist Party (Pietro Nenni’s party) had received 100,000 and Trieste’s Communist party 40,000. In Scandinavia, only the Norwegian party (NKP) had been endowed, with 20,000 dollars.32

Support in the 1950s
On 8 February 1951, the Politbureau decided that support for 1951 should be 1.5 million dollars according to the same pattern as 1950. While DKP was not recorded as receiving money in 1950, it may be that it received support for which we have so far found no documentation. As I show later, VKP(b)/CPSU did give extraordinary sums of money direct from party/state funds.

The 1951 allocation was distributed with the Finnish party in first place with 874,000 dollars, the PCF with 600,000, the PCI 500,000 and the Nenni socialists 200,000. In Scandinavia, the Swedish party (SKP) got 20,000 and the DKP 7,500. In addition, VKP(B) distributed a further 600,000 dollars from its own coffers to the PCF which, altogether, therefore, received 1.2 million dollars. The Japanese and Indian parties also received separate sums.33

For 1952, the sum in the fund was 2.5 million dollars, 1.15 million of which came directly from CPSU (as it was now called). There is no comprehensive statement of accounts for all the various sums paid out but the French, Italian and Finnish parties were again the top-scorers. SKP got 25,000 dollars and NKP got 20,000 dollars.

For 1953, the fund was up to 3,425 million dollars, but already on 7 May, PCI, the Nenni socialists and Trieste’s communists had been given 2.05 million, while PCF got 1.2 million. The fund was thereby emptied, but the CPSU supplemented it with 750,000 dollars. DKP apparently got nothing from the 1953 amount, while SKP and NKP got 25,000 dollars each. The Finns received 400,000 dollars.34

For 1954, the fund was increased to 5 million dollars. Of this the Finns received 480,000 dollars, the SKP 55,000 dollars, the NKP 30,000 dollars and the DKP 25,000 dollars.35 A sum of 1,374 million dollars was not distributed. This was put into the 1955 total, which thereby became 6,424 million dollars. In addition to that, CPSU contributed 1.7 million dollars from its own coffers. The PCI got 2.64 million and PCF got 1.2 million, while the Finns got 450,000, NKP and SKP got 30,000 each, and DKP got 25,000 dollars. There were payments to 28 recipients in all, mostly to communist parties.36

On 3 February 1956, the CPSU’s CC presidium decided that the leader of the foreign department Boris Ponomarev should, during the CPSU’s Twentieth Congress, inform the leaders of the parties participating in the fund that in 1956 it would total 5.5 million dollars, of which the CPSU would pay 3 million. With the addition of 179,000 dollars not paid out the previous year, in that fateful year of 1956 the fund reached 5,679 million dollars. The top-scorers were the usual ones, though one notes that the Austrian party received 200,000 dollars from the fund plus 200,000 direct from CPSU. The Finns got half a million, SKP 70,000 dollars, DKP 25,000 and Iceland’s Socialist Unity party 20,000 dollars.37 That was not the only help DKP received in 1956. In May, the CPSU decided to give Land og Folk two new composing machines worth 60,000 roubles and the foreign trade ministry was instructed to formulate a document to make it seem that DKP was buying the machines.38 Such material assistance was not a burden on the Soviet Union’s foreign currency earnings in the same way as contributions in dollars.

In 1957, the fund reached 5.5 million dollars. The PCI received all of 2,635 million dollars, topped up by an extra grant of 500,000 dollars directly from CPSU. The Finns again got half a million, NKP 45,000, SKP 40,000 and DKP 65,000 dollars.39

It is clear that the Finns played an important role on the contribution list. Following the opening of the Russian archives the Soviet interest in Finland has taken on new dimensions. Thus, Hannu Rautkallio from Tampere University has written a book on the Soviet influence over Finnish politics in the ’60s.40 In his book he believes he can show by the use of documents which, unfortunately, only he has seen in Moscow, that Urho Kekkonon’s speeches about a neutral, atom-free Nordic region were written in Moscow. In that context he points out that Kekkonon’s speeches on the issue from 1963 and 1965 were, in reality, anticipated by an initiative undertaken together in the Nordic Council by the Finnish communist Hertta Kuusinen and Aksel Larsen in 1961, in order to prevent the USA getting atomic weapons bases in the Nordic region. This proposal, says Rautkallio, was composed in Moscow and expressed only what Krushchev said in Riga in 1959. He also says that Larsen’s work for the Russians was furthered by the fact that his party, SF, was supported by CPSU’s CC. In this Rautkallio refers in part to SF and the Finnish breakaway from social-democracy TPSL being treated in the same way in surveys from the CPSU CC, and in part to the diary entry for 18/4/61, of the Soviet ambassador to Finland, A.V. Zakharov. However, I must place a question mark over Rautkallio’s presentation. It is a fact, which he is unaware of, that Aksel Larsen’s conceptions about neutrality ware already developed before the break with DKP. In addition, I cannot believe that Larsen would put himself in a situation where the Russians would have the possibility to blackmail him politically. And finally, it is not certain that Zakharov had access to the documents concerning the subsidies – apart from those paid to Finnish organisations – as these papers had the highest grade of classification, osobaja pajpka, special dossier.41 From someone wishing to preserve anonymity and who during the ’60s worked in CPSU’s foreign department regarding Scandinavia, I have received confirmation that SF got no support. The CPSU wanted a link to the SF. In 1961, Boris Ponomarev had a conversation with Aksel Larsen about it, but the DKP opposed contacts between the CPSU and the SF and that was that.

Support from the SED
DKP established close ties to the East German CP, the SED, and the party would play a special financial role for DKP. In 1950, DKP received support from the SED in the form of a 1 May gift "from 9,200 German workers", namely an automatic Mercedes printing machine for Land og Folk.42

Otherwise in the later 1950s, more and more Danish young communists were invited to visit the GDR. In January 1958, DKU, the communist youth organisation, made an agreement with the Frei Deutsche Jugend, the SED’s youth organisation, that the GDR should receive 180 young tourists from Denmark in 1958. The agreement stipulated that the Danes provided the buses, while the GDR paid for the petrol, any damages, food and board. The whole trip would cost 200 DM per person, which had to be paid into an East German account in Denmark.43 In 1959, the SED handed DKP’s printshop a proof-reading press, of the "Voran" brand, worth 7,050 DM, as a gift.44

Support in the 1960s
While the details we have for later years are limited for individual parties like the DKP, through Loupan and Lorrain we can trace the development of the total sum as follows: 1958, 6.8 million dollars, 1959, 9 million; 1960, 9,05 million; 1961, 10.5 million; 1962, 11.5 million; 1963, 14.65 million; 1964, 15.75 million dollars.45

The Chinese stopped paying in to the fund in 1962. In 1966, following Brezhnev’s take-over, the fund was renamed the International Fund for Help to Left and Working Class Organisations. Apart from the Chinese, the same contributors were involved.

Loupain and Lorrain have published the document showing the support for 1969. That year’s total was 16.5 million dollars, the CPSU paying 14 million, the Czechs, Rumanians, Poles and Hungarians 500,000 each, the Bulgarians 350,000 and the East Germans 200,000. The SED’s modest contribution was probably the result of its contributions that year to setting up the new West German CP. Top of the list that year was PCI with 3.7 million dollars, while the PCF received 2 million and the American party (CPUSA) 1 million. There are 34 recipients on the list, among whom one notes Lelio Basso and his PSIUP, which received 700,000 dollars. Basso’s party became worthy of support following Pietro Nenni’s party entering a Christian Democrat led government in 1963.

In 1969, the Danish party got 100,000 dollars. That equals 750,000 crowns then, whereas in 1992 values it would come to 3.7 million crowns. In 1957, DKP got 65,000 dollars, equal to 3.96 million crowns in 1992 values.46 The allocation over the 12 years may have fluctuated but presumably there was a constant increase in dollars corresponding to a quite constant sum in real terms. Those 12 years were difficult ones for DKP, struggling to keep its paper going. In this period, C.H. Hermansson, upon taking over leadership of the Swedish party from Hilding Hagberg in 1964, demonstrated his independence by not taking subsidies. The Norwegian party meanwhile continued its slow but sure decline towards oblivion. All this made DKP a much more interesting prospect, known as it was for its loyalty.

Other subsidies to the DKP are documented in the CPSU CC archive in the special file of decisions: on 15 May 1958, 20,000 roubles changed at the then rate of 4 roubles to the dollar, and on 24 February 1959, 10,000 roubles changed into crowns. On 13 July 1959, CPSU telegraphed to DKP: "Inform Nørlund that the support for the publication of the CPSU’s history in Danish is accepted." The support consisted of 50,000 crowns, equal to 493,000 crowns at 1992 value. And on 6 February 1960, CPSU telegrammed: "Inform Jespersen and Nørlund that their enquiry concerning support for the publication of Marxism-Leninism’s Fundamentals is accepted." Here the support consisted of 50,000 crowns, too. At the same time, it was decided to organise 5-6 week courses for leading Danish comrades in the theory of Marxism-Leninism. This would become a further source of income for DKP. The courses were free to DKP but the party charged the members participating fees in crowns. These fees went directly into party coffers. Incidentally, the proposal for the courses came from DKP. On 28 September 1960, DKP received documentary films from CPSU worth 100,000 roubles. And on 17 December 1960, following a request from DKP’s CC, 16,750 roubles were granted for exchanging.47 When visited the CPSU’s CC archive in 1993, the file of decisions was still accessible. But if one looks at the survey in Danica i Rusland, based on unhindered access to the whole files, one can see requests from DKP’s CC by the score, and before copies of that material comes to Denmark, we are unable to say anything certain about the extent of the supplementary era subsidies.48

Support 1970-1990
The Rumanians withdrew from the fund following a number of squabbles in 1974. That year 18.4 million dollars were shared out. In 1977, the fund was up to 18.7 million dollars. In 1981, 15,295 million dollars was shared out. That year the US party topped the list with 2 million dollars subsidy, PCF got the same, while the Finns got 1.4 million. The Italians were not on the list, reflecting internal developments between Moscow and the communist parties. Thus, the Swedish Workers Communist Party appears on the list with a subsidy of 100,000 dollars. That is not the "old" communist party VPK, but the new old-style party. The Norwegian party got 50,000 dollars, while DKP had become No.11 on the list with a subsidy of 350,000 dollars.49 Even though the dollar’s fall from 1970 to 1980 was perceptible, it is still 1.97 million crowns in 1980, or 3.75 million in 1992.

The international fund reached 20.35 million dollars in 1985, but in real terms it declined in value during the 1980s. Under Gorbachev the subsidies further declined and totally vanished with the dissolution of the Soviet Union following the coup in 1991. These were large sums which through the years found their way in particular to the western European parties. Loupan and Lorrain have calculated that the total direct subsidy to the PCF from 1950-1990 as 50 millions dolars. Exchanged into francs at 1993 values the PCF received in all 1 billion francs. But as indicated above there were other forms of subsidy which do not figure in the lists quoted. Thus Loupan and Lorrain document that the Russians gave free newsprint for L’Humanité and Drapeau rouge. Between 1982 and 1989 this amounted to 4,058 tons of free paper.50

Other Forms of Support
The DKP too benefited from many indirect sources of support such as the printing press, composing machines and courses mentioned above. In 1969, Land Og Folk again received a printing press from the GDR. Large subsidies were also attained through the party’s publishing house. That started already in the 1930s with Mondes Forlag, which published the stenographic reports from two of the Moscow Trials, paid for completely by the Russians. The Mega, Sputnik and Tiden publishing houses, all received large subsidies towards publishing Russian books in Denmark. The subsidies could be in the form of direct payment for production in Denmark, in free translations from Russian, or by the publisher receiving books wholly produced in the Soviet Union and given cheaply for sale in Denmark. In such a business practice subsidies could be built in by a variety of means. If one could convince the Russians that it was wholly unrealistic to think of being able to publish Lenin’s Selected Works in Danish, the printing subsidy could be raised to a level at which it produced a masked subsidy to the party. But the translation could also be inflated.

In 1961, the party began publication of the journal Verden Rundt which from 1963 appeared as a supplement to the journal Tiden. It contained articles from the world communist movement. The subsidy for the printing of Verden Rundt surely helped cover the costs of Tiden. There are several statements to the effect that Ib Nørlund just took the money to finance Tiden with him home from Prague. Similarly, one should note that the Russians subscribed to a large quantity of Land og Folk, which was flown to Moscow every day – not so much to satisfy a hungry Danish-speaking market but purely as a form of subvention. One should also add to these indirect subsidies the many holidays that leading Danish communists took in the Soviet Union or other Eastern Bloc countries, also the lecture-tours they undertook while there, for which they were very well paid. One should also remember the friendship societies, for there is no doubt that they were wholly paid by the Russians.51

DKP – a Party on Benefit
A related question is: how such large means were channelled into an organisation like DKP, why so few knew about it and how it affected the organisation. Among those I have spoken to there seems to be agreement that DKP’s print works Terpo Tryk was a key channel for the supply of the Russian money. The print shop simply received large print orders from the Russians which they carried out at inflated prices. The work was done much better than in the Soviet Union, but the price was many times greater than one could have expected to pay in Milan or Lisbon. Inflating the invoices was in that sense a conscious subsidy to DKP. Sometimes the payment never turned up and the party’s president, Knud Jespersen, Jørgen Jensen or Ole Sohn, had to travel to Moscow to rescue the party from bankruptcy. Whether Terpo was the conduit for the sums we can find on the list of payments is not known at present. Possibly, one can speak of subsidies both via inflating invoices and direct cash subsidies. The KGB chief in Copenhagen in the 1960s-70s, M.P. Lubimov, has said in newspaper interviews that he paid cash sums to Knud Jespersen. And the previously mentioned anonymous source, who worked in the CPSU’s foreign department with regard to Scandinavia during the 1960s, has confirmed that the KGB was used for transporting the money.

Stories of Moscow Gold have represented a permanent component of DKP’s press history. That they could be rejected as mere stories is closely linked to the fact that only a very few knew anything of what really, happened and how it happened. The few who knew have had no interest in telling because they were themselves implicated. Just as Aksel Larsen never told about Arne Munch-Petersen, neither did he tell about the money, because it would taint him too. Detailed accounts were never presented to the CC. The details of the accounts were known only to a tiny circle consisting of the treasurer, business-manager, president and accountant. Once the accounts had been audited the main figures were presented to the party leadership.

What effects did the money have on DKP? It is naturally difficult to establish, but certainly one can say that apart from easing the party’s economic situation, the money also created problems. The money gave the party a false sense of its possible range and a swollen bureaucracy. In the 1970s there were almost 100 employees in the DKP enterprise, and although the two print shops required a number of typographers and lithographers, there were proportionately many employees for 10,000 members. A previous party employee believed that this made the employees thoughtless in regard to expenditure. And that resulted, for example, in Terpo Tryk not being a competitive printing firm.

One can ask oneself the question, whether there would have been a communist party in Denmark without the Russian subsidies. Of course, one cannot give a serious reply. But it is certain that if there had existed a self-sustained Communist party in Denmark it would have had a much more moderate dimension and would have had to live with a much more limited staff. Land og Folk would hardly have survived 1958.

One can also ask oneself the question: why did the Russians pay such astronomical sums to keep a communist movement going? There is hardly any doubt about the answer in the early period. Lenin relied on the Comintern to break the isolation the Russian Revolution was undergoing once the German revolution was stillborn. When this situation changed is hard to say. Did Stalin himself believe that he was on route to communism and that the Comintern was a tool for undertaking the world revolution? It is difficult to give an unambiguous answer. At any rate, he put his own survival and that of the system above everything else. It is obvious that the Soviet leadership at some stage must have asked itself whether it had any purpose to sustain life in a communist movement unable to function on the same scale without subsidies. And seen in that perspective, that the communist movement was a type of supplement to the foreign service, a type of voluntary corps for public relations services for the Soviet Union, the expenditure is in a proportion that is understandable. But the question is rather whether it makes complete sense only in understanding the relationship in terms of aims. After all, ideological struggle is connected with both illusions and also lies in the case of all large nations. It is particularly valid for the US ideological offensive over democracy. I think that one must count on at least a part of the answer being found in the Byzantine character of Soviet public life. The communist ideology ("Marxism-Leninism") was the only form of thought allowed. It did not necessarily mean that a consensus existed around it, but the terror made sure that other forms of thought were always subject to suppression. It probably also created in a part of the old, now in reality outdated thinking, a certain inertia perhaps also linked to a certain nostalgia. Such as the Americans have regarding their revolution and the civil war.


1. Thanks to Torgrim Titlestad, Lars Björlin, Kurt Jakobsen, Jukka Paastela, Anatolij Chekanskij and Niels Bredsdorff for their help during the project, and to Ole Sohn, Frank Aaen and Bjørn Grøn and others, who want to remain anonymous, for allowing me to question them about their earlier role as functionaries in DKP and CPSU.

2. Document in rossinjskij tsentr khanenija I izucenij a dokumentov novejsej istorii (RTsKIDNI), Moscow, 495-83-1, published in Victor Loupan and Pierre Lorrain, L’Argent de Moscou, L’histoire la plus secrète du PCF, Paris, 1994. p.46.

3. After the February 1917 revolution in Russia new roubles, "Kerensky roubles", were introduced to replace the old "Romanov roubles". On 20 December 1918, dealing in Kerensky roubles was halted in Copenhagen because the rate for 1,000 R had fallen from 58 to 38. Then the Whites’ roubles, issued in Archangel, and the Bolsheviks’ roubles. Loupan and Lorrain reproduce documents showing diamonds transferred to the Comintern. But although the carat weight is given together with the value in roubles, it does not permit us to estimate the value of the rouble, as there is no clear relation between carat weight and the rouble value (Loupan and Lorrain, op. cit., p.53 and p.57). The rouble was not listed on Copenhagen’s Stock Exchange in 1919. As the inflation after the revolution in Russia was enormous it is most probable that it concerned here the pre-revolutionary gold rouble which corresponded to 0.774g. gold, which would make a rouble 0.87 dollars or 4.05 Danish crowns in 1919. In 1922 the new Chervonets was introduced, which was valued at ten pre-revolutionary gold roubles (Maurice Dobb, Russian Economic Development Since the Revolution, London 1929, p.225).

4. See Alexander Watlin, ‘"Genosse Thomas" und die Geheimtätigkeit der Komintern in Deutschland 1919-1925’, in Watlin, Die Komintern 1919-1929, Mainz 1993, p.23.

5. Loupan and Lorrain, op. cit., p.48.

6. Otto Grimlund to Marie Nielsen 25 August 1919, in Marie Nielsen Archive in Arbejderbevaegelsens Bibliotek og Arkiv (ABA).

7. Anonymous report in AIC archive, ABA.

8. Minutes of ECCI session, 21 January 1919, RTsKhIDNI.

9. Information of various cases in possession of the Danish State Police concerning collaboration with military authorities, 1919.

10. Paul Anderson and Kevin Davey, New Statesman, 7 April 1995.

11. Watlin, op. cit. p. 30.

12. Lars Björlin, Ur Moskvas Perspektiv. Kommunismen I Sverige, 1919-1970 betraktad och bedömd I Moskva. En översikt. The author very kindly put his manuscript from 1995 at my disposal. The information is from the archive of the budget commission, 495-82-4.

13. Kurt Jakobsen, Mellem København og Moskva, Copenhagen 1989, pp.33, 45.

14. Lars Björlin, op. cit.

15. See e.g. G. Carlson to Carl Madsen sending 10,000 Swedish crowns, 1 July 1921, Ernst Christiansen’s archive, ABA. The letters subsequently quoted are also found here.

16. Jakobsen, op. cit. p.45.

17. Jakobsen, op. cit. p.111.

18. Lars Björlin, op cit. References are to the budget commission’s archive 495-82-6. 9a, 12.

19. Jakobsen, op. cit. p.135.

20. Information from Gerrit Voerman. Stéphanie Courtois and Peter Huber in conference papers of "Groupe de recherche sur le communisme ouest-européen" at Nanterre, April 1995.

21. Kurt Jakobsen, Moskva som medspiller. DKP’s gennembrud og Aksel Larsens vej til Folketinget, Copenhagen 1987, p.56.

22. Jakobsen, op. cit., pp.38, 84, 91, 122. But there are also examples of pleas not helping, pp.40, 181, 183.

23. DKP archive, ABA. Jakobsen, op. cit., note 2, p.211.

24. Public Record Office, HW 17, File 9-11.

25. Kurt Jakobsen, Aksel Larsen – en politisk biografi, Copenhagen 1993, p.236.

26. RTsKIDNI 495-74-181 and 495-18-1320.

27. RTsKIDNI opis vkhodjascikh telegramm ot noimera 15. nacato 1 janvarja 1942 g. I have not had access to this file but rely on notes by Torgrim Titlestad.

28. Niels Erik Rosenfeldt, Stalin’s Secret Chancellery and the Comintern, Copenhagen 1991, p.52.

29. Kurt Jakobsen, Aksel Larsen, op. cit., p.301.

30. RTSKIDNI 17-128-167.

31. Tsentr Khranenija Sovremennoj Dokumentatsii (TKSD), Moscow, 89-38-22 and 23. See also Jan Foitzik, ‘Aus der buchhaltung der Weltrevolution. Finanzhilfen der "regierenden kommunistischen Parteien" für den internationalen Kommunismus 1950-1958’, Jahrbuch für historische Kommunismusforschung, 2, 1994, pp.140-47.

32. TKSD 89-3 8-24.

33. TKSD 89-38-26.

34. TKSD 89-38-15, 16, 18.

35. TKSD 89-38-28.

36. TKSD 80-38-33.

37. TKSD 82-38-34 and 35.

38. Decisions file TKSD.

39. TKSD 89-38-29.

40. Hannu Rautkallio, Neuvosto vallen asialla, NKP: n vaikutus Suomessa 1960 – luvulla, Helsinki 1993. Jukka Paastela translated and commented for me.

41. Rautkallio, op. cit., p.154 and note 7.

42. SAPMO, Secretariat, Protocol No.80/150, session 23/1/1950, and Land og Folk, 28 April 1950.

43. MfAA, A 13229 (surely Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but the abbreviation is missing from the list).

44. SAPMO, D4 30/J IV 2/3-653. (Stiftung Archiv der Parteien und Massen organisationen der DDR im Bundesarchiv, Berlin.)

45. Loupan and Lorrain, op. cit., p.211. The figure for 1960 from TKSD 89-38-36.

46. Loupan and Lorrain, op. cit, p.215 and document 61.

47. Decisions file TKSD.

48. Danica i Rusland. Kilder til Danmarks historie efter 1917 i russiske arkiver. Resultater af et forskningsprojekt, National Archive 1994, pp 267-277.

49. Loupan and Lorrain, op. cit., document 61.

50. Loupan and Lorrain, op. cit., p.234.

51. Lars Björlin, 100,000 S Kr, op. cit. reference TKSD 55-9-1, 2. See Danica i Rusland op. cit. p.306. CPSU on increasing aid to Friendship societies in the Scandinavian countries, 1976. TKSD 89-26-16. Lars Björlin has, for example, documented that it was so in Sweden in 1962, when the friendship society received 100,000 crowns in support. Björlin, op. cit. Reference to TKSD 55-9-1,2. See Danica i Rusland, op. , p.306: CPSU CC on increasing aid to ..., 1976. TKSD 89-26-16.