By MALCOLM MUGGERIDGE
The Morning Post
Wednesday, June 7, 1933
Below we publish the third of four remarkable articles on the present
situation in Russia by Mr. Malcolm Muggeridge who recently acted for eight
months as the Moscow Correspondent of English Liberal newspaper.
Mr. Muggeridge went to Russia a convinced and enthusiastic Communist. He
came away entirely disillusioned about the Soviet regime. He has drawn a
faithful and terrible picture of the human suffering under existing
conditions, and has described his own disillusionment in moving and
By MALCOLM MUGGERIDGE
In the centre of Moscow and opposite the Foreign Office, which is in every
sense of the word a sort of annex to it, stands the headquarters of the
G.P.U. - a solid building; the best designed and most substantially built in
Russia since the Revolution; equipped with offices, a prison, a
slaughter-house, an excellently stocked restaurant and multiple store
reserved exclusively for its personnel.
Altogether a comfortable, attractive place, always busy, always with people
passing in and out, mostly men in uniform, very smart, very important
looking, very contemptuous in their manner towards what Trotsky speaks of so
often and so affectionately in his "History of the Russian Revolution " as
the "broad" or "toiling" masses.
It need scarcely be said that this building is not one which tourists are
shown over when they visit Moscow.
The G.P.U. embodies all the fear, all the distrust, all the passion to be
revenged on society, all the hatred of civilisation and of human happiness
that lives in the soul of Bolshevism.
It is the soul of Bolshevism; and as time goes on, as the trivial
hypocrisies in which Bolshevism has dressed itself in order to deceive and
flatter and use for its purposes the frustrated intellectuals of civilised
Europe and uncivilised America tend to get thrown aside, it emerges as the
ultimate authority in Russia, the very dictatorship of the proletariat.
No one who has not seen it for himself can understand the terror that this
organisation inspires, not merely in avowed enemies of the Soviet regime
ex-bourgeoisie, priests, people who were for any reason privileged under the
old social order - but in the whole population.
It is not so much that they dread what the G.PU. may do to them, though it
can do anything without anyone, even their nearest relatives, knowing; they
dread the thing itself, because of its nature, because it is utterly evil,
because it is morbid, because it belongs to those fearful distortions and
perversions that exist in all human beings, but that, in a civilised
society, emerge only occasionally in some criminal or madman.
I often used to think, when I was in Russia, that the general attitude
towards the O.P. U. must be like the general attitude in the Middle Ages
towards the Powers of Darkness - quite irrational; quite unrelated to
knowledge or experience of its manner of working; yet somehow
understandable, somehow in keeping with the facts of the case.
There is, mixed up with it all, a kind of mysticism. I turned up once in a
back number of "Pravda" an obituary notice of Dzerzhinsky, the founder of
the Cheka and first head of the GPU, written by his successor. It described
Dzerzhlnsky as a saint, an ascetic, a man who rose above petty bourgeois
emotions like pity, or a respect for justice or for human life; a man of
infinite industry; a rare spirit whose revolutionary passion was unearthly
The very prose of the obituary notice was lyrical. It had a rhythm like a
religious chant. I thought, and stilt think, that I had found in it the
quintessence of revolution and I hated this quintessence because it s a
denial of everything that has been gained in the slow, painful progress of
civilisation; because it was beastly, because it idealised and spiritualised
evil because it glorified destruction and destruction and, going beneath the
animal, beneath hate, beneath lust, beneath every kind of appetite, founded
itself on impulses which though they have in the past sometimes been
organised into, abominable, underground cults, have never before held sway
over a hundred and sixty million people inhabiting a sixth of the world's
GREATEST POGROM OF ALL
This is the Terror. The people who execute it are naturally not normal.
Most of them are not Russians. I counted in the Presiduum of the G.PU. only
two unquestionably Russian names. The present acting head is a Polish Jew.
A good number of the underlings are also Jews, with a fair sprinkling of
Letts and Poles. The flaming sword of the proletariat" has been forged in
ghettoes and wherever are collected men with a grudge against their fellows
and against society; and the population of Russia lives, terrified, under
It is a product of pogroms, and is itself the greatest pogrom of history.
To attempt to make its acts or its procedure conform with a civilised
judicial system, as did certain politicians and newspapers in connection
with the recent Metropolitan-Vickers affair - to judge them on that basis is
like trying to read military strategy into the frenzied movements of a
frightened tiger, or, better, to extract enlightened moral principles from
the ravings of a diseased mind.
The theory of the class war has provided the G.P.U. with an instrument after
its own heart. The class enemy is anyone, and it is the business of the
G.P.U. to destroy the class enemy. Since the class war cannot end until the
dictatorship of the proletariat has "liquidated" itself - that is, never -
it offers the G.P.U. a prospect of unending activity. Priests and relics of
the old Tsarist bourgeoisie, even kulaks, have become vieux jeu when the
whole peasantry is available, and when, thanks to the passport system, the
town populations have been delivered into its hands.
The G.P.U. is responsible for defining class enemies, for sentencing them,
and for executing the sentence. It decides that a Ukrainian peasant who has
hidden a few poods of grain in his house to feed himself and his family
through the winter when everything else has been requisitioned by the
Government, is a class enemy and, accordingly, either shoots or exiles him.
It has spies everywhere, listening, watch ever so, often it unearths or
invents - scarcely I believe, itself knowing which - a counter revolutionary
plot, and, by torture and threats and bribery, gathers the material, for a
spectacular state trial. Like some criminals, it has a morbid appetite for
publicity, and loves to figure on the front page in foreign newspapers; like
at diseased minds, it is morbidly curious about everyone and everything, and
makes a specialty of using for its purposes facts about the private lives of
people who have fallen into its hands or whom it wishes for any reason to
The weak are its particular prey; and it is able, even without violence,
even without their knowing how it has happened, to reduce them to a
condition in which they will confess anything, promise any thing.
Bolsheviks justify the class war on the ground that it is necessary in order
to achieve a state of classlessness. Actually, however, its directors have
evolved into a ruling class more privileged and more powerful than any other
in the world; a ruling class that has power of lire and death over the whole
population, that is utterly irresponsible in the exercise of its privileges,
that is beyond criticism because to criticise it is to criticise the
dictatorship of the proletariat, which means to be guilty of treason against
the Soviet State and to qualify for the death sentence.
While social inequalities are being ruthlessly smoothed out at one end of
society new and more arbitrary and more pronounced inequalities are coming
into existence at the other. Each layer of class enemies that is destroyed
reveals another whose destruction is necessary.
This is worse than civil war. It is a people making war on itself. It is
war by the proletariat for the proletariat of the proletariat. It is the
dictatorship of the proletariat blockading the dictatorship of the
In consequence of this class war, Russia has become a battlefield, and the
Russians a subject people. As the productivity of these subject people and
of this battlefield becomes more amid more inadequate, the Soviet Government
calls for more and more frenzied activity on the "class war front" a vicious
circle which seems to bear out Danton's gloomy prophecy - made when having
sent many to the guillotine, he realised that he would shortly find his way
there himself-that revolutions, after they have consumed everyone else, at
last consume themselves.
ArtUkraine.com thanks Margaret Siriol Colley and Nigel Collery for
providing the article above. Please check out their website about
Gareth Jones, Welch journalist, who reported accurately on the
conditions he found in the Soviet Union in the early 1930's.