[Marxism] Prisoner X, Stalinism and Zionism
Jeffrey.Sparrow at vu.edu.au
Sun Feb 17 21:37:26 MST 2013
A piece I wrote for the ABC site Drum.
In the 1920s, Harry Pollitt, a key leader of British Communism, fell in love with a young activist called Rose Cohen. By his own reckoning, he proposed to her (unsuccessfully) 14 times.
Cohen later moved to the Soviet Union, where, in 1937, she was arrested as a spy. The Russians never reported her fate but we now know that in November that year, guards dragged Cohen to the basement of Moscow's Lubyanka prison and shot her in the back of the head.
Coincidentally, Pollitt was in Moscow when the secret police came for Cohen. Behind the scenes, he lobbied on her behalf with high profile officials, including, it seems, Stalin himself. Yet when Pollitt returned to London, he and his Communist Party colleagues refused to call publicly for Cohen's release, going so far as to denounce others who did.
'Any charge that may be brought against [Cohen],' wrote the Daily Worker, 'will be tried according to the forms of Soviet justice. The British government has no right whatever to interfere in the internal affairs of another country and its citizens. It is not surprising that the reactionary press is in full cry in support of the British protest ...'
The Cohen affair comes to mind in the reaction to the extraordinary tale of Israel's 'Prisoner X'.
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