23. Taking Sides: arguments about the war

woodsmokeTaking Sides was written in 1984 as a discussion document for a group of activists attempting to build Irish solidarity activities in a small town in the Midlands. It discussed the different forces active in Irish Solidarity (I S) work and is reflective of the arguments employed on the English left at that time.



Reading Mao Zedong


In the tumultuous social struggles of twentieth century China, Mao Zedong strides the battlegrounds through defeat and victories. When you read the writings of Mao Zedong, you are confronted with his revolutionary theories on politics, history and economics, his tactical choices for securing the development of the party and revolutionary movement, and his strategic vision of a new social and economic order for China. Today, access to the writings, in many different language editions, by Mao Zedong is facilitated by internet access. Listed are links provided from https://emaoism.wordpress.com/2015/05/22/100-index-to-posts-50-100/

Mao Zedong, previously transliterated as Mao Tsetung, was a Communist revolutionary, leading guerrilla warfare strategist, and political philosopher. Chairman Mao was active in the Chinese Revolution, leading the anti-imperialist struggle against Japanese occupation and in the following civil war. He was part architect and founding father of the People’s Republic of China from its establishment in 1949, and the building of socialism, initiating the Cultural Revolution in the mid-1960s, providing guidance and direction until his death in 1976.selected works

Reading Mao can be complicated by his status as “the Great Helmsman”, one-time charismatic font of all wisdom and having “Mao Zedong Thought” designation as “the crystallization of the collective wisdom” of the Communist Party of China (On the Question of Party History 1981).  

Take one volume that serves as part of the body of what represents “Mao Zedong Thought” – Maoism is a term not used by the Chinese, but rather reflects the view of those outside China, that sees Mao’s theoretical and practical contribution as both universal in significance and application and should be recognised as a third stage in the development of communist thought.

Selected Readings from the Works of Mao Tse Tung appeared in its Chinese edition in 1964 before the launch of the Cultural Revolution.

In June 1964 two versions of Selected Readings from the Works of Mao Tse-Tung were published: edition A, intended for cadre party study and a smaller edition B, an abridged edition meant for the general public. Most of the texts were drawn from the existing four-volume Selected Works. Selected Readings did include Mao’s 1957 speech “On Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People”, some material from the Socialist education campaign and ended with “Where Do Correct ideas Come From” of May 1963. Edition A was the basis for an official English translation in 1967; although in 1971 another English-edition was referred to as the ‘first edition’ (incorporated the new established correct spelling for the name ‘Mao Tsetung’).

“Most of the pieces published in Selected Readings from the Works of Mao Tse-tung have been changed considerably since they were originally written or spoken. However, it is extremely important for us to know their present form, the form in which they are helping to shape China today. Although the selection was completed before the beginning of the new movement, the writings contained in it are those most studied in the Cultural Revolution. It includes “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People” and several other important pieces produced since 1948 which have not been in any previous Chinese collection….. The “Readings,” although abbreviated, convey some idea of the intelligence and breadth of probably the greatest man in the Twentieth Century.”

Martin Bernal , author of the Black Athena trilogy, The New York Review of Books January 16, 1969.

When reading the writings of Mao Zedong the obvious reality is that all official texts are selected texts, chosen with a purpose outside of historical record (or accuracy), so there is a difference between the original Mao speech or writings and their later published version. The revision in the editing was openly acknowledged in the publication of Selected Works, the extent of the rewriting was not. The political function of Mao’s writings underpinning the People’s Republic of China, propagating particular policies, campaigns and study focus meant that the published word (with its official stamp of approval) acted as “the ideological coinage of the State”. (Martin, 1982)

Political editing provided conformity to Mao’s writings as the stylistic refinements, not least omitting Mao’s lively, earthy and colourful expression in speech, meant the published text took on a more official tone and character. These are translated texts without the idiom of the original language however there was an also evident political consideration: the linguistic pruning of the term “comrade” and who and when it was applied was a symbolic device as persons who were in political disfavour were cast in more negative terms. Larger issues were at stake: dependent on the current state of relations with the Soviet Union, the singularities of the Chinese revolutionary experience were down play in the interest of Sino-Soviet friendship, or a greater emphasis in the direction of the Soviet role. For instance, in Volume Five, texts dealing with Mao’s visit to the Soviet Union, as well as his 1953 obituary for Stalin were not included. In earlier volumes, references to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and Stalin were added partly to reinforce a political correctness in communist relations.

Selected Works obviously means omissions as well as inclusion. The delay and dispute in the publication of Volume Five, when a first draft had been available since late 1967, was because it was the focus of factional struggle as what interpretation would prevail over its content legitimizing the politics of that contentious period in modern Chinese history; would the judgements of the Cultural Revolution remain? What adjustments would have to be accommodated? Like elsewhere (in any politicians’ memoirs), political editing, not guided by historical and academic criteria, shapes the editorial process. So with Volume Five, earlier versions, with their radical commentaries, annotations and their text selection, compiled by Chen Boda and later under Yao Wenyuan, were rejected. The published Volume Five, even with an almost total lack of commentaries and footnote interpretation, still served to endorse the (then contemporary) ‘Four Modernizations’ economic focus. However it was withdrawn from circulation, regarded as tainted by Chairman Hua Guofeng’s ideological stress on Mao’s notion of “Continuing the revolution….” Interestingly a key text in Volume Five was a speech given by Mao in April 1956, “On Ten Great Relationships” in which criticism of the Soviet model had been retained unlike in earlier published versions.

Yet, while many of Mao Zedong’s important writings were from a period and conditions that no longer apply, they are the source of constant study, revisited and on reading lists the world over. Mao’s theoretical contribution to a theoretical synthesis of China’s unique experience in protracted revolutionary struggle with the tenants of Marxism-Leninism illustrated that complicated problems facing those making revolution cannot be solved by reciting the general principles of Marxism-Leninism or by copying foreign (or even China’s) experience in every detail. Mao’s admirers aboard failed too often to hear that lesson. The judgement in “On the Question of Party History” (1981) was still to read Mao:

“This is not only because one cannot cut the past off from the present and failure to understand the past will hamper our understanding of present day problems, but also because many of our basic theories, principles and scientific approaches set forth in these works are of universal significance and provides us with invaluable guidance now and will continue to do so in the future. Therefore , we must continue to uphold Mao Zedong Thought, study it in earnest and apply its stand, viewpoint and method in studying the new situation and solving the new problems arising in the course of practice.”

  1. Mao Tse-tung Library – From Marx to Mao

Published in foreign language version by Foreign Languages Press, Peking, the Selected Works of Mao Zedong were compiled and translated by the official Beijing committee. As noted previously, these are the heavily edited, authoritative word of Mao and the doctrine of the Communist Party of China.

Between 1951 and 1953, the first three volumes of Selected Works, covering Mao’s participation and leadership of the Chinese Communist movement up to 1945 and the defeat of Japanese imperialism, were published. All selections from volumes I, II and III of the Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung are English translations based on the second Chinese edition of these volumes.

Volume Four was published in 1960 concluding with the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

The publication of Volume Five, which covered the mass campaigns of the 1950s and beginning of the anti-revisionist struggle, appeared in April 1977 after Mao’s death. It is worth noting that volume V was published after the death of Mao, and subsequently the English-language edition was removed from circulation.

Selections from volumes IV and V are translations from the first Chinese edition.


Selected Military Writings of Mao Tsetung


cddf18a911ed4ea46aa02db4860d7e04Quotation from Chairman Mao TseTung 

Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse–Tung more popularly known as “The Little Red Book” appeared in the Cultural Revolution period having first been produced for the People’s Liberation Army educational programme in the early 1960s. The iconic collection of quotes, devoid of their original historical and political context, reduced the complexities and richness of Mao Tsetung thought to a Chinese classical format of quotable wisdom.


Or in HTML format to individual sections at https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/works/red-book/index.htm

 Mao Zedong on Diplomacy 

Besides Volume V of Selected Works, an English-language collection of Mao’s writing on diplomacy was produced by Foreign Language Press in 1998. This was a translation of the 1994 Chinese language edition compiled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Party Literature Research Centre.  Running to 498 pages, the speeches, talks and articles are drawn from 1938-1974. A selection was made available online. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-11/06/content_7019033.htm

Other Internet Archives

Welcome to the Mao Tse-tung (Zedong) Internet Library ~ Established May 1, 1997


Marxists Internet Archive


Contains the official Selected Works of Mao Tsetung: Volume I – V and the Wansi-inspired volumes published in India by Kranti Publications, Hyderabad.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung: Volume VI – IX

The Reference Writers section provides full text access to wide-ranging writers and thinkers including selections from Chinese political leaders Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Liu Shaoqi, Lin Biao, Peng Zhen and Deng Xiaoping. It includes the documents compiled, edited and published in 1978 under the title “Collected Works of Mao TseTung (1917-1949) by the US governments’ Joint Publication Research Service (JPRS).

In contrast to the dearth of translated material, the publication of Chinese language editions of Mao’s writings has gone on unabated. The Party Literature Research Centre of the Central Committee published the multi-volume ‘Mao Zedong Works’. The first volume appeared in 1993 on the Centenary of Mao’s birth, and Xinhua News Agency announced publication of the 8th volume in July 1999. The multi-volume work contains over 800 pieces not previously published in the Chinese edition of “Selected Works of Mao Zedong”, although only key items from 1966 onwards are included because the Cultural Revolution “launched by Chairman Mao, was a mistake of overall importance”.[1]


US Government publishes Mao Zedong

A translation of ‘Wansui’ material was provided by the American government in Miscellany of Mao Tse-Tung Thought (1949-1968) Arlington, Virginia: Joint Publications Research Service, 20 February 1974. It was translated from a Chinese language collection brought out by Red Guards under the title Mao Tse-tung ssu-hsiang wan-sui [‘Long Live the Thought of Mao TseTung’]. There were two editions of materials, entitled Mao Tse-tung ssu-hsiang wan-sui the first in 1967 and then republished in an enlarged form in 1969. For an analysis of the differences between the two Wansui editions and a study of the writings themselves, see Richard Levy, “New Light on Mao,” The China Quarterly 61 (1975). It contained mostly unofficial transcripts of Mao’s speeches and interviews from 1960 onwards that are not represented in the official ‘Selected Works’.

In 1978, a collection of Mao’s pre-1949 writings was produced by the JPRS under the title, Collected Works of Mao Tsetung (1917-1949). These documents were compiled, edited and published by the U.S. Government’s Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) in 1978. According to JPRS, these documents are “selected speeches, articles, essays, reports, letters, interviews, declarations, decrees, telegrams, poems, (and) inscriptions of Mao Tse-tung covering a multitude of subjects.” In introductory notes, JPRS notes that “All articles signed by Mao Tse-tung, whether individually or jointly with others, are included.” Further, “all unsigned articles which have been verified as his work are also available.” Finally, JPRS indicates that “all works which have already appeared in the (Foreign Language Press) edition of Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung or Selected Readings of Mao Tse-tung’s Works are not included.”


Other Writings

Chairman mao is the greatest liberator of the world's revolutionary peopelThe main contemporary source for new English language material has been repackaged in Western scholarship rather than disseminated in English by Chinese publishers.  Since John Bryan Starr and Nancy Anne Dyer compiled a bibliography and index, entitled Post-Liberation works of Mao Zedong (1976)[2], two volumes of post-liberation writings by Mao have appeared translated from Chinese sources, under the title, The Writings of Mao Zedong: 1949-1976 edited by Michael Y.M.Kau and John K Leung[3]  covering the years 1949-1957.

An earlier published volume from Oxford University Press in 1970 was a more compact introduction that drew upon 1940s editions of Mao’s Selected Works as well as Wansui material was the Mao Papers: anthology and bibliography edited by Jerome Ch’en.

Some of Mao’s earlier work has also appeared with a study of Mao’s philosophical concerns in an English language version in Nick Knight (ed) (1990) Mao Zedong on Dialectical Materialism: Writings on Philosophy [4]  and Mao Zedong, Report from Xunwu (1930) [5].  Re-published in China in 1982, Mao’s 1930 investigative report of the rural county of Xunwu in southern China reflects detailed empirical social research undertaken by Mao, and a study from the 1940s was produced by Andrew Watson (1980) Mao Zedong and the political economy of the border region[6]

Mao’s speeches during the early period of the Great Leap Forward have been translated in Roderick MacFarquhar, Timothy Cheek, Eugene Wu (eds) The Secret Speeches of Chairman Mao: from the Hundred Flowers to the Great Leap Forward (1989)[7].

A collection of Mao’s critical reading comments on Soviet political economy textbooks was translated by Moss Roberts, annotated by Richard Levy and with an Introduction by James Peck and published as A Critique of Soviet Economics (1977)[8]. Drawn from unauthorized material that circulated in China during the Cultural Revolution, Mao’s talk on Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR was probably given at the Chengchou Conference in November 1958, while his written critique was done in 1959. http://www.marx2mao.com/Mao/CSE58.html

Prominent among English-language treatment of Mao’s career is the work of Professor Stuart Schram. He has consistently explored Mao writings through his studies presenting the development of Mao’s political thinking in relation to the situation in China and the changing conditions in the course of the struggles in which Mao was engaged. Mao Zedong Thought, not as an immutable truth, has been presented to an English reading audience in Stuart Schram’s various publications.

UK publishers Penguin published The Political Thought of Mao Tse-Tung, first published in 1963 by Frederick A.Praeger, in paperback in an enlarged revised edition in 1969. A political biography, Mao Tse-Tung, was published by Penguin in 1966, and is still in print.  Mao Tse-tung Unrehearsed: talks and letters, 1956-1971 (Penguin 1974) drew upon material unofficially compiled and collected in the Wansi collections made available through Red Guard sources during the Cultural Revolution.

 Professor Schram initially led a project to publish the collected works of Mao Zedong. Under the series title, Mao’s Road To Power, Revolutionary writings 1912-1949 (New York: M.E.Sharpe) (so far seven volumes published). The analyses of Schram which stressed Mao’s early immersion in Chinese classical literature, drawing upon Mao’s numerous allusions to these in his talks and writings, developed the notion that Mao’s political philosophy, steeped in Chinese tradition, and his political practice, not least leading a successful peasant-based revolution, was substantially different from orthodox Marxism as sanctioned in the Soviet Union.

In Mao studies a group of radical academics (Richard Pfeffer, Andrew Walder and Mark Selden) engaged in scholarly dispute with the non-Marxist Sinologists Stuart Schram and Benjamin Schwartz in the journal of Modern China 1976/1977 to challenge this evaluation as being based on a rigid understanding of what constituted Maoist canon.

Paul Healy and Nick Knight offer an alternative, Marxist-orientated perspective in studying Mao’s career compared to the atheoretical textual attention of Professor Schram in the volume edited with Arif Dirlik (1997) Critical perspectives on Mao Zedong’s Thought[9]

The radical argument drew upon Mao’s clearly self-professed allegiance to Marxism, drawing upon the anti-authoritarianism of the Cultural Revolution period as well as the earlier Yenan writings of Mao that resonated with the Marx of  ‘German Ideology’ and the (then) newly emerging body of writings by the early Marx, in particular ‘Grundrisse’. Maoist-inclined intellectuals e.g. David Fernbach and Martin Nicolas provided many of the translations of these works. Mao’s criticism of ’Soviet revisionism’ and articulation of a generative class thesis under socialist state structures drew support from those attracted to an alternative vision from that provided by a Soviet Union that seemed little different from its Cold War adversaries.



  • Cheek, Timothy (2010) A Critical Introduction to Mao. Cambridge University Press
  • Cook, Alexander C. (2014) Mao’s Little Red Book: A Global History Cambridge University Press
  • Communist Party of India (Maoist), Marxism-Leninism-Maoism~ Basic Course


  • Dirlik, Arif; Healy, Paul; Knight, Nick (1997) Critical Perspectives on Mao Zedong’s Thought. New Jersey: Humanities Press
  • Hua Guofeng (1977) Continue the Revolution Under the Dictatorship of the Proletariat to the End –A study of Volume V of the “Selected Works of Mao Tsetung”. Peking Review19, May 10th 1977


  • Knight, Nick (2007) Rethinking Mao: explorations in Mao Zedong’s Thought. Lexington Books
  • On the Question of Party History – Adopted by the Sixth Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on June 27, 1981. Beijing Review, No. 27 July 6, 1981


  • Martin, Helmut (1982) Cult & Canon: the origins and development of State Maoism. New York: M.E.Sharpe
  • Prakash, Shashi (2008) Why Maoism? Lucknow:Rahul Foundation


  • Sison, Jose Maria & Engel, Stefan (1995) Mao Zedong Thought Lives Volume 1: Essays in Commemoration of Mao’s Centennial. Essen: Neuer Weg Verlag & Centre for Social Studies (Utrecht)
  • Visions of Fire1 Winter 2013 : Maoism


[1] “All volumes of ‘Mao Zedong Works’ published.” Xinhua News Agency July 1st 1999.

[2]   Berkeley. Center for Chinese Studies, University of California

[3]    Vol 1 September 1949-December 1955 (1986) New York: M.E.Sharpe :   Vol 2  January 1956    December 1957  (1992) New York: M.E.Sharpe

[4] Nick Knight (ed) (1990) Mao Zedong on Dialectical Materialism: Writings on Philosophy 1937. New York: M.E.Sharpe.

[5] Translated, and with an introduction and notes by Roger R. Thompson (1990) Stanford, Calif: Standard University Press

[6] Andrew Watson (1980) Mao Zedong and the political economy of the border region: a translation of Mao’s economic and financial problems, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[7] Roderick MacFarquhar, Timothy Cheek, Eugene Wu (eds) The Secret Speeches of Chairman Mao: from the Hundred Flowers to the Great Leap Forward (1989)[7] Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

[8] A Critique of Soviet Economics (1977) London: Monthly Review Press.

[9] Dirlik (1997) New Jersey: Humanities Press. See: ‘Mao Zedong’s Thought and Critical Scholarship’ pp3-20

The Communist Resistance in East Germany

When the Albanian state media trumpeted the formation of the GDR Section of the Communist Party of Germany/ Marxist-Leninist: Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands/Marxisten-Leninisten  Albania Today  No 2 (27) 1976 declared, it “a victory for the German working class”. The KPD/ML celebrated in Dortmund on March 7 1976 with a rally of 2,300 people to celebrate this historic event.


The KPD/ML declared,

“The time is long since been ripe, even in the DDR to take to build a new Marxist-Leninist party of the working class, the SED irrevocably a party of revisionist treason, degenerated into a bourgeois, social-fascist party. Long has the former workers ‘and peasants’ state became a capitalist country where the working class and all working people are exploited and oppressed. This is the work of revisionist traitors from Schlage Ulbricht and Honecker and their Moscow overlords like Khrushchev, Brezhnev and consorts. Today there is in the DDR the social fascist dictatorship of a new bourgeoisie. Only by a new violent socialist revolution we can smash fascist rule of Honecker clique that is a vassal of the Russian social-imperialism, and build again the rule of the working class in alliance with the peasants and other working people, the dictatorship of the proletariat. ”   Ten years of struggle for a united, independent, socialist Germany – 1968/69 to 1978/79 – Ten years KPD / ML (1979)

More is  known more about the clandestine activity of the German Maoist KPD / ML under the revisionist regime of the DDR than other anti-revisionists resistance as it is the most documented episode. There is as partial record with publicity given to it by the KPD/ML  itself in its newspaper Roter Morgen and the memoirs of Herbert Polifka , a member of the DDR Section of the KPD / ML entitled “Die unbekannte Opposition in der DDR. Zur Geschichte der illegalen Sektion DDR der Kommunistischen Partei Deutschlands” [The unknown opposition in the GDR. The history of illegal section in the DDR, the Communist Party of Germany].stempel-kpdml

Communist resistance within the DDR, more commonly referred to as East Germany, can also be seen in the prism of the dossiers of the MFs  [Ministry of State security] the colloquially known,  Stasis. The research in the archives of the State Security service of the German Democratic Republic by Tobias Wunschik produced “The KPD / ML Maoists and the destruction of their section in the GDR by the Ministry of State Security.” Here is an archive account of the activities of the “East” Section of the KPD/ML that so annoyed the revisionist leadership that it initiated plans for the destruction and liquidation of both the East Section and its western counterpart, that are supplemented by the account of one-time east section member, Herbert Polifka, although some of his assertions were questioned by former comrades. His article “New Revelations about the Activities and Destruction of the GDR Section of the Communist Party of Germany/Marxist-Leninist (KPD/ML)”, online at  Revolutionary Democracy Vol. V, No. 1, April 1999 http://revolutionarydemocracy.org/rdv5n1/gdrkpd.htm and Part two available in Unity and Struggle magazine no.7April 2000. (Originally these revelations were carried in three articles published in Roter Morgen No.24 December 24, 1997, No.1 January 21 1998 and No.2 February 5 1998.)


The KPD/ML had been founded on December 31, 1968 in the Federal Republic of Germany and its ideological foundation was Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought. Founded by the anti-revisionist Maoist opposition within the underground KPD, rather than emerging out of the student movement, it was led by Ernst Aust (1923-1985) , publisher and KPD editor , “Mao’s man in Hamburg”, as the “Frankfurter Rundschau” called him. In the late 70s the KPD/ML aligned itself with the dogmatic-revisionist theses of the Albanian leader Hoxha, until it dissolved in 1986 for the majority to merge with a Trotskyist group, the International Marxist Group (GIM) to form the VSP/ United Socialist party. Various individuals of the old KPD/ML established an internet presence to preserve the politics of the KPD/ML such as those maintained online by Wolfgang Eggers at Ernst Aust Archiv – Communist International (Stalinist-Hoxhaists).

 The KPD/ML Anti-Revisionist Struggle in East Germany 1976-1982

 The announcement of the establishment of a section of the KPD/ML in East Germany in the pages of Roter Morgen in February 1976 gave publicity to the clandestine activity of the German Maoist KPD / ML under the revisionist regime of the DDR.

The existence of dissident Marxists within the obstentially “socialist” East Germany was not a sudden overnight bloom but the culmination of a history of autonomous struggles against the disconnect between the state’s propaganda claims and the lived reality of its citizens. The core of the DDR section had emerged within the DDR itself. There were many who questioned “existing socialism” from the Left.

In the early 70s, some students in grades 11 and 12, an Extended High School (Erweiterte Oberschule; EOS) in Berlin came together to study the texts of the classical authors of Marxism-Leninism . They were not alone in the GDR doing this in that period.
Other interested persons among their friends and family joined them, which, with the passage of time, saw the existence of a small group consisting of employees and students circle .Reading the basic texts of the Marxist-Leninist social theory, they increasingly came to the conclusion that there was a wide gap between theory and practice under the `existing socialism’.

In Magdeburg, during 1969-1970, pupils, students and apprentices met to form the Progressive Youth (Progressive Jugend) (formerly Comune 13) Alongside the classical authors of Marxism-Leninism, various forbidden texts (of Mao, Stalin, the Black Panthers, etc.) were read by the youth group, whose activities extended throughout the DDR and which involved a hundred young people.
After the disintegration and liquidation of Progressive Youth, in 1976 the “hard core” of Progressive Youth formed a cell of the KPD / ML [German Communist Party / Marxist-Leninist].
Also in Rostock, an independent circle of students with a similar political orientation was created. Interested in further ideological inspiration, many of these circles themselves made contact with different organizations of the left in West Berlin and the Albanian embassy in East Berlin.
With young people, who were the majority within the section of the DDR, there were a sprinkling of older KPD comrades in the struggle. For example, Comrade Heinz Reiche (`Grandpa Reiche’), who had spent 11 years in prisons and Nazi concentration camps, took part in the activities in Weisswasser (a small town south of Cottbus). Heinz Reiche had previously come into conflict with the SED in the 1950s.

Over the next few years [after 1970] the KPD / ML succeeded in winning supporters and organizing them into cells of the Party in the DDR. These cells were inspired by the cell system operated by the illegal KPD (German Communist Party) during the Nazi dictatorship. According to figures based on research of Stasi files, Wunschik estimated the total number of militants or supporters of the KPD / ML in the GDR amounted to around three dozen. In addition there were about 50 to 60 supporters who were in personal contact with this group.

They call Walter Ulbricht a "traitor" and the ruling SED a "clique"

What the “east section” represented was a concerted effort of “illegal communists” operating clandestine cell structures engaged in the agitational activities and distribution of propaganda leaflets, posters and underground newspapers, both its own and the Polish-language Red Flag of the neighbouring illegal KPP /  the Kazimierz Mijal led Communist Party of Poland to the Polish workers who worked occasionally in East Germany. In its internationalism, the “East Section” reflected the anti-revisionist politics that judged the SED’s obsequious to the state’s guarantor and “so-called “friendship with the Soviet Union” as “just a camouflage for the actual servitude to the Soviet Union by which our country suffers.”

The Founding Declaration of the DDR Section described East Germany as “a capitalist social-fascist state”, “a state in which the bourgeoisie has power, the working class and other working people are exploited and oppressed. The state as a collective capitalist manages the production for the Soviet social imperialists and the new bourgeoisie in their own country. Although the Russian Social imperialists and new bourgeois do not nominally own the farms, they get the profits from the state enterprises. The new bourgeoisie is made up of the high party and government functionaries, together with the army leadership, from bureaucrats and technocrats and top intelligentsia. It is a parasitical class living off the exploitation of the working class and toiling masses of the peasants.”

Tobias Wunschik established that the comrades of the DDR Section developed a considerable amount of propaganda activities. From 1976, numerous sheets were distributed, public buildings were painted with slogans, posters stuck on walls, lampposts, and leafleting activities of a home made type were planned and carried out by cells independently. Thus, the KPD/ML activists would intervened in the political events of the day.

A separate “DDR edition” of “Roter Morgen” was widely distributed. The voice of the Communists was distributed in the DDR either entering it in mailboxes or placing in public places (such as telephone booths, bus stops, train stations, cinemas, and hospitals) or distributing directly in the factories.  This newspaper became the first opposition newspaper that regular appeared in the DDR. Stasi interrogation records notes in the course of questioning, one female participant said: “By distributing the different copies of Roter Morgen I personally saw the possibility to influence workers in a propagandistic way to gather and prepare the forces for a conscious transformation of society in the DDR.”
The East Section tried not only to self-promotion, but also tried to Information about the internal situation in the DDR. “Mood reports” of the East German Cell members were deducted for propaganda purposes anonymously in “Red Morning” prints and underpinned with precise information on supply shortages and corruption.

The East German followers of the KPD / ML developed a remarkable activity. When in January 1979 was to strengthen the DDR activities, the activists in East Berlin within ten months placed in mailboxes a total of 25 different leaflets in 547 different distribution actions

Wunschik, “Die maoistische KPD / ML und die Zerschlagung ihrer ‘Sektion DDR’ durch das MfS”

They also carried out activities in factories. Alongside propaganda actions (such as leafleting, painted slogans, etc.) trade union activities were also developed. Working within the FDGB [Free German Trade Union Federation of the DDR] offered a good opportunity to draw attention to social injustices and to mobilize partners for small actions.
The editor of the party newspaper in Dortmund created special DDR issues. They are introduced in the DDR and distributed by members. The Roter Morgen was very useful for the illegal activities of the Communists. This newspaper, published on thin paper, was introduced illegally in the DDR. Between 1977 and 1984 it was published four times a year.

One cell [City] `Cottbus’ smuggled 3,000 copies of the “DDR edition” of  Roter Morgen , various internal materials of the Party, apparatus for home printing on a mimeograph machine, a typewriter, a 35mm camera , printing ink and ink pads : the train D 359 (Munich – Nuremberg – Berlin) was especially preferred to introduce the materials. In such cases, the leaflets were delivered through packages that were thrown off the train at a certain point, an action that was planned beforehand accurately. When materials are brought by car, transportation is almost always done with the help of a specially prepared fire extinguisher in the vehicle.

Herbert Polika illustrates the traffic of illegal material smuggled in and distributed,

The ‘Magdeburg’ cell in which I was active was a pioneer in this field. For instance, it distributed 200 copies of ‘The Khrushchevites’, 250 copies of ‘Imperialism and the Revolution’, about 60 copies of ‘Reflections on China’ (volumes 1 and 2), thousands of pamphlets on the fight against the modern revisionists, etc. Also, important foreign language documents were sent to different revisionist states (such as Poland, Romania, Soviet Union, Cuba, Hungary, Bulgaria). Internationalism rated very highly: comrades of the DDR Section also distributed the Czerwony Sztandar [Red Flag], organ of the illegal Communist Party of Poland. This newspaper, also printed on thin paper, was both sent into Poland and given to Polish citizens who worked in the DDR. At various Magdeburg construction sites, the Czerwony Sztandar was found over and over again. Donations were illegally brought into Poland to support the striking colleagues there. Russian language publications were left in newsstands of the Soviet army.

see:  New Revelations about the Activities and Destruction of the GDR Section of the Communist Party of Germany/Marxist-Leninist (KPD/ML)

In challenging the ruling SED, the KPD/ML were challenging both the division of Germany, obstreperous in rhetoric to the claimed right of both states to represent the nation, and waging a low intensity struggle in opposition to the class rule of the bourgeoisie and their revisionist counter-parts. It was an unequal fight. The counter measures employed by the East German state saw infiltration by informers:  The State Security succeeded to build a nearly complete monitoring of the groups. For example, one of Berlin’s cells is a pure Stasi product consisting of two IM members. This construct is used only to collect KPD/ML propaganda material.

Thomas Wunschik   details the extensive security operation launched against the East section, a familiar litany of Stasi abuses and harassments of partners and families. The attempts to spread dissent and distrust to paralyses the East section, threats and illegal detentions, arrest, interrogations are recorded in the archives.

The destruction of the “east section” of the KPD/ML through the wave of Stasis arrests in 1980 was partial; it did stem the momentum of development yet the disruption activities of the state authorities continued throughout the following five years, not least in the 1982/84 hunt for an illegal and portable FM radio station, Radio Roter Stachel  operating from West Berlin.

While many East section members were taken into custody and subject to Stasi questioning eventually two leading activists were sentenced to eight years imprisonment and were exiled to the West after five and a half years.

Internally, supporters and sympathisers were taken in, detained and interrogated, externally large scale travel obstruction and border searches were implement to break communication with the KPD/ML with East German authorities refusing entry to 357 West Germans suspected KPD/ML activists.

Sympathetic protest actions trying to draw attention to the plight of their comrades was organised by the KPD/ML:  In the fall of 1981 the magazine “Stern” published pictures of four supporters who were chained at the Alexanderplatz in East Berlin (Stern Nr. 49/1981). They were arrested immediately. Two days after their arrest, they were sentenced to six months in prison and expelled from the DDR.

As part of the campaign for the release of imprisoned sympathisers, KPD/ML organised dropping leaflets by balloons into East Germany, presenting petitions for release, staging hunger strikes at border check points and blocking motorways.

Thomas Wunschik notes that in addition to the fear of public protests of the KPD / ML in the West, the main concern of Stasi was that the Aust-party would build a “Section East” again.  It was not until 1986, after the KPD/ML’s own political disintegration in West Germany, that the surveillance operation was virtually ended. Why was the State security stronger than previously endeavour after the destruction in 1981?  To prevent all the initiatives of the KPD / ML in East Germany from developing once more.



 mit-maoWith Mao….

After Mao’s death in September 1976, the KPD/ML distanced herself first cautiously, from the summer of 1977 and more clearly from the “Right deviation” of the Chinese Communists, and eventually in 1978 ”fully and irrevocably” rallied to the open struggle against Chinese revisionism, as new variant of modern revisionism  and denounced Maoism in support of Enver Hoxha’s Party of Labour of Albania.

Previously the term “Maoist” from a formal point of view had been applied to those parties and organizations in the debate in the international communist movement of the sixties taking the side of (what was regarded as) the apparent head of the Marxist-Leninist wing, the Communist Party of China led by Mao Zedong. A brief review of the history of the KPD / ML would record that the KPD/ML had better relations and contact with the Albanian party than the Communist Party in China, consequentially there was a “lean to one side” within their relationship. In 1974 Ernst Aust the founder-leaders of the West-KPD / ML, had been officially received by Hoxha on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the liberation of Albania. Hoxha recognizes Aust as the “leader of the Albanian oriented German proletariat” and declared his party even for fraternal party.enver_ernst5

The Albanians, through its embassy maintained contact with the clandestine communists, supplied them with materials for their activities with copies of the books of Enver Hoxha and the German edition of the magazine “New Albania”. According to Polifka, who knew first hand, the activities of the “East section”, hundreds of copies of work by Enver Hoxha were smuggled in and distributed. Among the activities of the “East section” was promotion through leaflets advertising the broadcasting schedule of of Radio Tirana which carried reports that denounced the treachery and oppression in the revisionist DDR. There are sometimes personal contacts of individuals to embassy staff that are maintained either through visits to the embassy or other places, such as the Leipzig Trade Fair.

When, in the second half of the 1970s a rift between the PTA and the CCP occurred, the KPD / ML was aligned with the Albanian position. The position was that Albania led by Hoxha remain as the last “bastion” of the socialist idea. Indeed, Polifka suggests that the Stasi tried to use the ideological dispute to disrupt the “East section”:

“With the help of IMs [unofficial Stasi collaborators, informers], feelings of uncertainty were created in ideological issues in cells. For example, the IM Niehueser made harsh attacks against the Party of Labour of Albania (PTA), defending Maoism. His Maoist positions, however, were rejected. In addition, in the DDR the dispute with Maoism was less problematic than in the West. ”

After 1978 Hoxha tries to establish a new “Communist International” with the communist factions in various countries. The KPD/ML led by Augst was a leading European advocate of this Albanian orientation. In June 1978 the party had explained:

It decided firstly that Mao Tse-tung, contrary to the previous opinion of the party, cannot be regarded as classics of Marxism-Leninism because his teaching is contrary to fundamental questions against the Marxist-Leninist principles.  This decision of the Central Committee, which was taken after a thorough discussion in the entire party will be published in “Red Morning” and explained in the theoretical organ “The Way of the Party” in detail.

The Decision of the Central Committee , published in “Red Morning” , initially explained : “Since the establishment of our party we have considered Mao Zedong amongst the classics of Marxism-Leninism.

 Since August 1968 even before the founding of the party, the emblem with the heads of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao Zedong in the banner title of “Red Morning”. This was done under the influence of the Cultural Revolution in China and documented our hostility to modern revisionism. Then, as later, our party did not recognize the serious errors and discrepancies contained in the teachings of Mao Tse-tung. “In the following highlights three important issues that Mao Tse-tung in theory and practice principle of Marxism-Leninism departed: on the question of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, in Mao Tse-tung to the “co-existence in the long run” against the bourgeoisie pursued; in the question of the struggle against revisionism, in Mao Tse tung has taken a vacillating attitude not only against the Tito-revisionism, but also against the Soviet revisionism;. on the issue of counter-revolutionary “theory of the three ranges,” for their development of Mao Tse-tung’s responsible and he has enjoy political support ” These serious deviations from Mao Tse-tung “, according to the decision,” make it clear that he is not a classic of Marxism-Leninism “to conclude:”. An overall assessment of the work of Mao Tse-tung has judged mainly after are actually achieved the successes in terms of the construction of socialism in the PRC under his leadership or not has been made and the context in which today’s revisionist history of the CPC and the PRC with the work of Mao Zedong stands.

“Ten years of struggle for a united, independent, socialist Germany – 1968/69 to 1978/79 – Ten years KPD / ML” (1979)

ohne-mao….without Mao



Further reading

Polifka Herbert , “Die unbekannte Opposition in der DDR. Zur Geschichte der illegalen Sektion DDR der Kommunistischen Partei Deutschlands” [The unknown opposition in the GDR. The history of illegal section in the GDR the Communist Party of Germany].

The book and its three appendices with documents, in German, can be downloaded using the following links:






Tobias Wunschik “Die maoistische KPD / ML und die Zerschlagung ihrer ‘Sektion DDR’ durch das MfS” [The Maoist KPD / ML and the destruction of their section in the GDR by the Ministry of State Security] can be download, in German, here:



mao-projekt. de/

Website project on the German extra-parliamentary opposition in the 1960s relating to the Maoist organizations (or ‘K-Gruppen’ as they were known in Germany, referring to the fact that they all began with the letter ‘K’) The project has the full set of back issues of Roter Morgen, the newspaper of the KPD/ML from during the Cultural Revolution.