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The story of Mark Zborowski: Stalin’s spy in the Fourth International

The story of Mark Zborowski: Stalin’s spy in the Fourth International

Marc Zborowski under arrest in the  late 1950s
Marc Zborowski under arrest in the late 1950s
On April 30, 1990, the notorious

, known as “Etienne,” died of heart disease in San Francisco’s Mount Zion Hospital at the age of 82. During the 1930s, the activities of Zborowski led directly to the murders of at least four leading figures in the Fourth International, including the eldest son of Leon Trotsky, Leon Sedov. The information provided by Zborowski to the GPU, as the Stalinist secret police was then known, contributed to the assassination of Leon Trotsky 50 years ago, on August 20, 1940.
Zborowski was never punished for his crimes against the working class. Even after his exposure as a GPU agent, the US government treated Zborowski with kid gloves. This was hardly surprising, for the victims of Zborowski’s crimes were the most irreconcilable enemies of capitalism. Thus, after Zborowski’s initial legal problems were ironed out, the US government provided Zborowski with a prestigious academic post from which he derived a comfortable income. He spent the final decades of his life in a fashionable section of San Francisco.
Nevertheless, even if Zborowski escaped physical retribution for his vile activities, his fate is a wretched one. He will be remembered only as an example of the dregs of humanity—the informer who served the counterrevolution for money.
Zborowski was a key operative within the vast network of GPU agents which spearheaded the destruction of the leadership of the Marxist opposition to the totalitarian dictatorship of the Stalinist bureaucracy. When the Trotskyist movement was headquartered in Paris during the crucial years leading to the founding of the Fourth International in September 1938
His reports were so important that Stalin reviewed them personally. Zborowski’s information and inside maneuvering were indispensable in setting up the GPU assassinations of leading Trotskyists, including Erwin Wolf and Rudolf Klement, GPU defector Ignace Reiss, Leon Sedov and, ultimately, Trotsky himself.
The brutal assassinations of the leaders of the Fourth International by the GPU in Europe and Mexico were the climax of the physical liquidation of all of Lenin’s and Trotsky’s closest collaborators during the infamous Moscow Trials and the purges which followed. Beginning in 1936, Old Bolsheviks such as Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Radek, Sokolnikov and Rykov, to name but a few, were framed as fascist “spies and wreckers,” compelled to make false confessions that they had worked for decades as agents of imperialism, and then executed. The Moscow Trials and the assassination of Trotskyists by the GPU marked the culmination of the drive by the Stalinist bureaucracy to liquidate the Bolshevik Party and its leadership.
As the representatives of imperialism noted with satisfaction at the time, Stalin killed more communists than Hitler and Mussolini combined.
These crimes had a double significance for the international working class. The murder of millions of Old Bolsheviks, the entire revolutionary generation which had prepared and led the October Revolution and fought the Civil War, beheaded the Soviet working class and robbed the international proletariat of its most experienced and farsighted cadres. At the same time, the propaganda machine of the Kremlin incessantly proclaimed that the purges were carried out in the interests of socialism.More from WSWS


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