‘The Achilles heel of British imperialism’: a Comintern agent reports on his mission to Australia 1920–1922. An annotated translation

by Kevin Windle


The name of Aleksandr Mikhailovich Zuzenko (1884–1938) is not well known to students of the early history of Australian communism, despite a long period of residence and activism (1911–1922). His remarkable career has been largely overshadowed by that of his fellow-countryman and contemporary Artem (Fedor Andreevich Sergeev). For many decades, Zuzenko was virtually absent from historical writing on the Communist Party of Australia, whereas Artem, although he returned to Russia as soon as possible after the February revolution, was long remembered as a key figure in shaping the Australian Left in the years 1911–1917. In Soviet Russia too, Artem was feted and commemorated after his premature death in 1921 by having towns, streets and mining institutes named in his honour. Zuzenko, though a committed revolutionary and staunch Bolshevik, received no comparable honours, indeed his arrest and execution in 1938 by those whom his widow termed ‘Stalinist Fascists’ meant that for the next two decades his name could scarcely be mentioned at all.

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