Isaac Deutscher

Isaac Deutscher

Isaac Deutscher was born in Cracow, Poland, in 1907. A journalist, he joined the Polish Communist Party in 1926. However, he was expelled in 1932 because he was critical of Joseph Stalin.

On the outbreak of the Second World War Deutscher moved to England and began writing for the The Observer. He also became chief European correspondent for the Economist.

Deutscher wrote several books about the Soviet Union including Stalin (1949), Soviet Trade Unions (1950), Russia after Stalin (1953), Trotsky: The Prophet Armed (1954), Heretics and Renegades (1955), Trotsky: The Prophet Outcast (1959), The Great Contest (1960), Trotsky: The Prophet Outcast (1963) and Ironies of History, Essays on Contemporary Communism (1966). Isaac Deutscher died in Rome in 1967.

Since his death books published include Lenin's Childhood (1970), The Unfinished Revolution: Russia 1917-1967(1974), Marxism in Our Time (1974), Soviet Trade Unions (1984), The Great Purges (1984) and Marxism, Wars and Revolutions: Essays from Four Decades (1984).

Primary Sources

(1) Isaac Deutscher, Stalin (1949)

Stalin appointed Andrei Zhdanov to succeed Kirov as the governor of Leningrad. Zhdanov was a young, capable, and ruthless man, who had purged the Komsomol of deviationists and distinguished himself in arrogant attacks on Tomsky during the fight in the trade unions. Stalin could rely upon him to destroy the hornets' nest in Leningrad. In the spring of 1935 tens of thousands of suspect Bolsheviks and their families were deported from Leningrad to northern Siberia.

(2) Isaac Deutscher, Stalin (1949)

In Tsarist days political offenders had enjoyed certain privileges and been allowed to engage in self-education and even in political propaganda. Oppositional memoranda, pamphlets, and periodicals had circulated half freely between prisons and had occasionally been smuggled abroad. Himself an ex-prisoner, Stalin knew well that jails and places of exile were the 'universities' of of the revolutionaries. Recent events taught him to take no risks. From now on all political discussion and activity in the prisons and places of exile was to be mercilessly suppressed; and the men of the opposition were by privation and hard labour to be reduced to such a miserable, animal-like existence that they should be incapable of the normal processes of thinking and of formulating their views.