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Mr. TAVEN NER. Mr. Chairman, I would like to offer into evidence a resolution of the eighth national convention of the Communist Party at Cleveland, Ohio, April 2 to 8, 1934, which was just alluded to by the witness and have it marked Rosser Exhibit No. 8.
Mr. VELDE. Without objection it will be admitted at this point.
(Resolution of the eighth national convention at Cleveland, Ohio, April 2–8, 1934, was received in evidence as Rosser Exhibit No. 8.)
ROSSER EXHIBIT NO. 8
THE PRESENT SITUATION AND THE TASKS OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE U. S. A.
RESOLUTION OF THE EIGHTH NATIONAL CONVENTION, AT CLEVELAND, OHIO, APRIL 2–8,
The whole party must be aroused for a fight against the imminence of imperialist war and intervention. The main task consists in unmasking the pacifist cover under which war is being prepared by the Roosevelt government; in exposing the role of pacifism of all brands without alienating honest pacifists who are ready to enter into a militant fight against imperialist war; strengthening the party and the revolutionary muss. organizations in the decisive war industries and in the harbors ; in carrying through mass actions for the stoppage of the shipment of arms to Japan and China ; in defending the Chinese revolution to the utmost, unmasking before the masses the counter-revolutionary role of American imperialism and its oppression against the Chinese Soviets (sixth offensive) and popularizing the heroic struggles and tremendous success of the Chinese Soviet power; in increasing the political educational work in the Army and Navy and in the CCC camps; and in widely explaining the peace policy of the Soviet Union and exposing the counter-revolutionary propaganda of the Trotskyite renegades and social-fascists. By our struggle against the danger of the imperialist war, we must prepare to convert the imperialist war into civil war. The eighth congress of the C. P. U. S. A. echoes the call of the thirteenth plenum of the FCCI.- * * * which “calls upon all the workers and toilers self-sacrificingly to defend the U. S. S. R. against counter-revolutionary conspiracy of the imperialists and to defend the Chinese revolution and its Soviet power from imperialist intervention."
Mr. TAVENNER. The resolution reads as follows:
THE PRESENT SITUATION AND THE TASKS OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE U. S. A.
The whole party must be aroused for a fight against the imminence of imperialist war and intervention. The main task consists in unmasking the pacifist cover under which war is being prepared by the Roosevelt Government; in exposing the role of pacifism of all brands without alienating honest pacifists who are ready to enter into a militant fight against imperialist war; strengthening the party and the revolutionary mass organizations in the decisive war industries and in the harbors ; in carrying through mass actions for the stoppage of the shipment of arms to Japan and China; in defending the Chinese revolution to the utmost, unmasking before the masses the counter-revolutionary role of American imperialism and its oppression against the Chinese Soviets (sixth offensive), and popularizing the heroic struggles and tremendous success of the Chinese Soviet power; in increasing the political educational work in the Army and Navy and in the CCC camps; and in widely explaining the peace policy of the Soviet Union and exposing the counter-revolutionary propaganda of the Trotskyite renegades and social-fascists. By our struggle against the danger of the imperialist war, we must prepare to convert the imperialist war into civil war. The Eighth Congress of the CPUSA echoes the call of the Thirteenth Plenum of the ECCI, * * * which "calls upon all the workers and toilers self-sacrificingly to defend the U. S. S. R. against counter-revolutionary conspiracy of the imperialists and to defend the Chinese revolution and its Soviet power from imperialist intervention."
Mr. Rosser, you were explaining to the committee how the Communist Party translated its teachings into actual practice as you observed it during your vast experience in the Communist Party. I think you have arrived at the point where you were beginning to discuss the united front action of the Communist Party. Will you begin and proceed from that point ?
Mr. RossER. During the year of 1935 Hitler became a threat throughout the world and Hitler's Fascist Germany was threatening the peace of the world. The Communist position was that Hitler was built up by the capitalists of the world to destroy the Soviet Union, and therefore, in order to protect the Soviet Union from attack by Hitler and maybe the united capitalist world, the important tactic at that time was not continuing to bring forward the slogan of "Down with the imperialist war," "Convert the war into civil war," or "Make an immediate revolution," but the tactic was to build the united front against fascism.
Dimitroff, at the Seventh World Conference of the Communist International, analyzed what fascism was and he, speaking for the executive committee of the Communist International, called upon the Communist Parties of the world, in each country, to unite with all people who were opposed to fascism.
In America, the first meeting I went to where there was a discussion of building a united front was a meeting called by the county committee of the Communist Party in Los Angeles, and it was made up of the top leaders of the county committee and the top leaders of the county committee of the Young Communist League, the party, and the YCL, and at this meeting I met a person by the name of Max. That is the only name I have ever known him by. Max was the international representative from the Young Communist International to this country.
His job was to see to it that the Young Communist League was built. Max gave a report on Dimitroff's speech of building the united front, and then in just a few words, it was that the Communist Party must dress itself up; it must go into all types of organizations, besides penetrating into the unions and into the basic industries. It must penetrate in all unions, A. F. of L., independent; it must merge the red unions with the A. F. of L. unions; it must work in the churches and in the fraternal organizations and all the civic organizations and must work in all types of youth organizations. It must work in all types of organizations of the Negro people and the nationalities in this country, large groups like the Germans and the Yugoslavs and Polish and the Mexican people, and in all this work it must raise the slogan of the dangers of fascism, the question of uniting against fascism, the question of helping to destroy fascism, and at the same time point out the role that the Soviet Union was playing in the worldwide scale of fighting against Hitler's fascism, and also we were in the program of the party to take advantage of every situation.
At that time I was given a definite assignment to work completely within the Young Communist League. My job was to build among the Negroes and the Negro community all types of organizations that could rally the Negro young people in the fight against fascism. We gave up the slogan of freedom of the Negro people, the right of people, the slogan of rebellion, and brought our new slogan of the united front, of the partial demands for the Negro people, jobs for Negro youth, indiscrimination in schools, parks, and playgrounds in the Negro community, all kinds of sports teams, and we built these types of organizations. But on the broader scale, the united front gave the Communist Party the opportunity to penetrate deeply into the American organizations, and it gave the party an opportunity to expand, and the Young Communist League, in the broader sense than it ever had before.
For example, in the unemployed movement, before the whole drive had been unemployed; the councils had dealt mainly with the working class. But in the united front area the unemployed movement, there were two groups. There was the unemployed councils by the Communists and the unemployed leagues that were led by the Socialist Party. The party maneuvered a merger, and a member of the national committee of the party became head of the Workers' Alliance, and they not only organized the workers, and the workers on WPA, but they also organized the unemployed teachers into a professional section of the Workers' Alliance, unemployed, all types of unemployed skilled people, intellectuals, professional people, and in the Negro community we organized the National Negro Congress, which was headed by some of the most prominent Negroes in California, and this organization was for democracy and down with fascism.
During this time 2 things happened. One was that the Communist Party took advantage of the whole question of Ethiopia. Fascist Italy invaded Ethiopia, and I had the job of building the Friends of Ethiopia in the Negro community of youth leaders and adult leaders, and we built a broad Communist-front organization called the Friends of Ethiopia, and our job was to see to it that the whole communitynot just the Negro community, but the whole community, Negro and white-participated in a campaign to the Government urging
the Government to stop shipment of oil, ammunition, war materials, food, to Italy, because it was all being used against the Ethiopian people. In our propaganda campaign we pointed out that the Soviet Union was the one nation in the world that was taking the leadership in the fight for the freedom of Ethiopia, of throwing the Italians out of Ethiopia and calling for the quarantining of Italy.
At a meeting of this organization to aid Ethopia, when we were discussing the Communist-proposed picketing of the Italian consul in Los Angeles, one of the members, a non-Communist Negro leader in Los Angeles, head of an important group, got up and said that before we voted on this question of picketing the consul, that he wanted to read a letter that he got from his organization in New York, the head office, and a clipping from the New York Times, and he read the letter, a short letter, saying that,
I sent you this clipping because I thought you would be interested. We had the same problem in New York.
So he read the clipping, and the clipping said that it had been brought to the attention that the Soviet Union was selling chemicals and war materials to Italy, which was being used against the Ethopians, and of course you can understand what this raised in the committee, and of course we Communists tried to raise objections, but this in Los Angeles and all over the country wrecked in a way the attempts of the party to build the Soviet Union as the leader of the darker races.
During the united-front period we had the civil war in Spain, and the party took advantage of this, and I had the assignment of recruiting young members of the Young Communist League, Negroes, to go to Spain, and we used the whole theory that Franco was a Fascist, and this was the beginning of a war against fascism, and I personally recruited quite a few young Negroes who went to Spain, who were sent to Spain by the Communist Party, and some of them died in Spain.
Mr. TAVENNER. Let me interrupt you a moment there. The committee at this time is investigating other instances of a similar character, and the committee has been very much interested in learning how passports were obtained for use by these recruits to the war in Spain. Did you have any direct connection with anything of that kind?
Mr. ROSSER. Well, my job, I would convince a young Negro to go Spain,this was in 1936—and at the same time there was the seamen's strike going on, and I went down to San Pedro, and I was able to recruit
quite a few Negro seamen, and after I convinced them to go to Spain and fight, then I would take them to the office of the Young Communist League to Mr. Jack Olsen, then the county organizer of the Young Communist League, who took them over to another office to see a man by the name of Lightner. As far as the passports, I had nothing to do with that. My only job was to recruit them.
Mr. TAVENNER. Do you have any knowledge of how they procured passports, whether under their own names, or how it was done?
Mr. RoSSER. Well, I think some of them procured passports under .their own names, saying they were going over as students. Some used passports that other people were able to get, and so forth.
Mr. TAVENNER. Proceed.
Mr. ROSSER. The united-front period, as I said, gave the Young Communist League and the party an opportunity to broaden out. We worked with all kinds of people, had all kinds of meetings, and we recruited, and during the building of the united front the party carried on a campaign. The party leadership nationally and the Young Communist League saw that although we were building this big front against fascism, and we had the American people on the move, educating them for a hatred of fascism, we were not bringing cut the face as a party. So the party during this period called for an independent role in the party; they called for the party clubs in the neighborhood to not only build the front against fascism, but at the same time in their own name come out for clean streets—the Communists are for clean streets; the Communists are for playgrounds; the Communists in the factory-if they were in the tradeunion movement are for better conditions, make $1.25 an hour, or safety, or those things. So the workers could see it was the Communists who were leading this fight. In that way the Communists could recruit, as they say in the parties, the best elements into the Communist Party.
During the united-front period, although the party had dropped its ultimate aim for the time being because Hitler had to be destroyedand that is the violent overthrow of this country—the party carried on within the Communist Party itself a teriffic campaign of education of Communist Party members. The Communist Party organized classes and all kinds of discussion groups on the teachings of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin, and the Communist Party expanded its schools and its workers schools, all types of schools, in order to attract people, and this gave the party an opportunity to educate thousands of Communists during this period, and at the same time, the united-front period, which was a period that they got from Lenin's books of how to retreat-Lenin taught the Communists in 1905, when the revolution was over, crushed, that in order to safeguard the party it was necessary to learn how to retreat. So when Hitler came into power and the party felt that Hitler was a tool of the capitalist world and they would move toward the Soviet Union, they retreated a step, gave up for the time being—didn't give it up completely—the liberation of the Negro people slogan and the fight for the ultimate aim and brought out the slogan for the end of facism, down with facism, and defense of the Soviet Union. But at the height of this movement Stalin made a pact with Hitler in 1939, and overnight
Mr. TAVENNER. It was August 1939?
Mr. ROSSER. August 3—and overnight the Communist Party changed back to revolution. The party in a meeting that I attended the party's position was that the struggle going on in Europe between Germany and France and England was a phony war and that at any day it might be switched, and they all together move toward the Soviet Union, and therefore the Communist Party in the Soviet Union made a pact with Hitler which was a pact to gain time, to gear up its defenses and mobilize itself if such a war would come, but in America the Communist Party's job in the meeting was to build a big antiwar movement. The main job of this movement, the basis, was defense of the Soviet Union, but the main catch to mobilize the American people was the slogan that this was not our war, keep America out of the war; the Negro people have no stake in this war.
In a top meeting that I attended there the party laid down the line. I at that time had an assignment from the Communist Party in the Workers' Alliance. I was one of the field organizers. My job at that time was to organize and mobilize and lead huge demonstrations every day, anywhere we could lead them, with thousands of unemployed people, on the question that we want bread and not bullets.
(Representative Harold H. Velde left the hearing room at this point.)
Mr. ROSSER. The unemployed movement demonstrated all over. I was a part of a hunger march to Sacramento, and this big demonstration of the unemployed was a part of the party strategy to educate the people against war.
In the unions the party's position was to foment slowdowns, to convince the workers in the unions and the factories that this was not their war, and to foment strikes. I sat in the meeting of the party leadership on the North American strike in Los Angeles.
Mr. VELDE. Mr. Rosser, at this meeting you mentioned where the party line was laid down. Can you tell the committee who laid the party line down, and if you know, how the party line was first originated or where it originated?
Mr. ROSSER. Well, when Stalin made the pact with the Soviet Union, it stunned the Communist Party, and for days the party locally did