Grigory Zinoviev

Soviet revolutionary (1883-1936)

Grigory Zinoviev (23 September 1883 {11 September O.S.} – 25 August 1936) was a Bolshevik revolutionary, chair of the Petrograd Council of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies (1917-1926), and chair of the Executive Committee of the Communist International (1919-1926). Born in 1883 in Elisavetgrad (today known as Kropyvnytskyi in Ukraine) in the Kherson Governorate of the Russian Empire, Zinoviev lacked formal education but began working as a teacher at 15. He joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1901 and actively participated in strike struggles. Zinoviev supported the Bolsheviks after the split with the Mensheviks in 1903 and became a key figure alongside Lenin. He played a significant role in the Petrograd party organization and was elected to the Central Committee in 1907. Zinoviev advocated internationalism during World War I and chaired the Comintern's Executive Committee in 1919. However, internal conflicts emerged within the Bolsheviks, leading to Zinoviev's opposition to the October Revolution's course and later conflicts with Trotsky. He eventually capitulated to Stalin, faced expulsion, and was later executed in the Moscow show trials of 1936.

The population of the colonies means nothing but beasts of burden to the gentlemen imperialists.


  • The population of the colonies means nothing but beasts of burden to the gentlemen imperialists. ... The imperialists of all countries treat the peoples who are the objects of their imperialist exploitation as slaves. Naturally the slaves rebel against their tormentors and naturally the strivings of these peoples for freedom and independence become stronger the more often they have the opportunity to conduct a war of defense against their oppressors. The socialists must recognize these wars of the colonial peoples against their European imperialist rulers as just wars of defense.
  • The governmental machine of the bourgeoisie, consequently also the bourgeois parliaments, are to be broken, disrupted, destroyed, and upon their ruins is to be organized a new power, the power of the union of the working class, the workers' 'parliaments,' i.e., the Soviets. Only the betrayers of the workers can deceive the workers with the hope of a 'peaceful' social revolution, along the lines of parliamentary reforms. Such persons are the worst enemies of the working class, and a most pitiless struggle must be waged against them; no compromise with them is permissible. Therefore, our slogan for any bourgeois country you may choose is: 'Down with Parliament! Long live Soviet power!'
  • Since we are no prophets, none of us can say exactly how many months or years will pass before the victory of the proletarian revolution in the first of those important countries which really determine the fate of the World Revolution. One thing, however, we know exactly, and the new analysis of Europe’s economic situation at the Third Congress has again completely convinced us of it: The revolution is not over. We are not very far distant from the period in which new conflicts will begin, which will shake Europe and the whole world in a much greater degree than the sum total of all previous struggles.
  • There is no greater honor than membership in the Communist Party. There is nothing more precious, there can be nothing more precious to us than our party, the splendid organization that has already helped the workers so materially in their hard fight for complete emancipation and that stands ready to help them until the fight is carried to a successful conclusion.
  • We were indeed splitters at the beginning of the work of the Communist International. We could not have done otherwise. We were obliged to split the old socialist parties, to save the best revolutionary elements of the working class and to form a rallying point tor the new Communist Party in every country. For a time, we had to come out as splitters, but not one of us regrets it. ... But now, after the passing of two to three years, when we have firmly established our parties everywhere, we must go to the masses and work in such a manner that the simplest worker will understand us. The split for us was no end, but a means to win over the masses, and in my opinion is already half achieved. The masses begin to show a new attitude. They are now forced to see that the split was no selfish aim on our part, and that we are those who call and work for the unity of the revolutionary masses on one platform.

Quotes about Grigory Zinoviev

  • The articulation of universalism with the sense of Jewish identity took varying forms depending on the different revolutionary currents: for internationalists such as Leon Trotsky, Grigory Zinoviev, Karl Radek and Rosa Luxemburg, the assimilation of a Jewish revolutionary into the concrete universal party, the dissolution of the 'little difference' into the status of equality of the militant, anticipated the society for which they fought; they did not consider the little difference' as called on to crystallize one day in terms of national identity. Were they blind? Blinkered, certainly, in the sense that they underestimated the national dimension of the Jewish problem in Eastern Europe.
  • An atmosphere of extreme tension reigned during this period; it was necessary to act without mercy. I think that it was justified. If Tukhachevsky, Yakir, Rykov and Zinoviev had started up their opposition in wartime, there would have been an extremely difficult struggle; the number of victims would have been colossal. Colossal. The two sides would have been condemned to disaster. They had links that went right up to Hitler. That far. Trotsky had similar links, without doubt. Hitler was an adventurist, as was Trotsky, they had traits in common. And the rightists, Bukharin and Rykov, had links with them. And, of course, many of the military leaders.
    • Interview with Vyacheslav Molotov. Quote from Ludo Martens's Another view of Stalin, pp. 177. Original quote from the Russian version of F. Chueva Sto sorok besed s MOLOTOVYM (Moscow: Terra, 1991), p. 413 (The quote does not appear in the French translation: Félix Tchouev, Conversations avec Molotov (Paris: Albin Michel, 1995).) The quote can also be found here [1]
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