Ghezzi in peril

According to reports coming in from Russia (through the IWA Aid Fund) Ghezzi, who has been ailing since last summer in Suzdal prison has, following a decision by the GPU, recently been tossed into a damp, unlit dungeon.

In my earlier pieces (see the RP editions of 15 July and 15 September 1929), I noted the contradictory charges that the pseudo-communists have started to peddle: Ghezzi, a determined adversary of fascism, is alleged to be a spy in the service of the Italian embassy in Russia; and then, after that charge proved too silly, Ghezzi was made into an emissary of the Ukrainian anarchist Makhno (who has been vegetating in Paris and without any influence for some years). But there is more: a French academic who had travelled to Russia to study educational matters and who at the instigation of a few friends of Ghezzi’s, did his best to look into his fate, has reported overtures he made during a lecture that he delivered last December to the New Russia Circle in Moscow: at the GPU in Moscow he was promised  an answer to his questions (none ever came, of course); orally, they made do with telling him this sleep-walking tale: Ghezzi was living in a villa, receiving anarchists of all sorts, regardless of their mettle; among these was a GPU agent who had reported his “behaviour”.  Hence his arrest. The value of that charming police story is readily seen: Ghezzi’s “villa” being a warped reminiscence of the plot of land that he was working with a few friends in the Crimea. But the GPU forgot that that was back in 1923 and that, since then, Ghezzi worked unmolested in Moscow as a labourer.

But there is still better: a little Italian paper, Il Riscatto, published in Brussels thanks to subsidies from Stalin’s government,  stated quite recently (in the 16 February edition): Ghezzi is supposed to have been arrested on 31 May 1929 as part of an anarchist group responsible for an attack on the Moscow communist committee carried out in 1927. So the GPU, tipped off about Ghezzi’s “behaviour”, as we have seen, by one of its agents, is supposed to have left him free to work right in the heart of Moscow for two years, knowing him to have been complicit in an attentat against the CP committee! And that is not all: that attentat was never even mentioned in the Soviet press in 1927! But Il Riscatto is not content with just one lie: does it not contend that Ghezzi was convicted by a “proletarian court”, when he was simply snatched on GPU orders, without any form of trial – and, by the way, the GPU has never denied that – as is evident notably from the testimony of Vidal-Mata who engages in communist propaganda in the Argentine Republic and who recently returned from Russia, where he had looked into the Ghezzi case (according to him, Ghezzi had supposedly been arrested because of correspondence that he was sending to Berlin! See Fabbri’s article in Le Libertaire of 25 January). The very same communist paper had initially claimed (in unison with the little Italian communist papers in France, a well-drilled chorus) that Ghezzi was a fascist spy! It has now forgotten that: not that that is any impediment to the minor scribe in the service of Stalin’s government adopting, as he comes out with the fresh lie that I have just cited, the gravest possible tones and trying to silence Ghezzi’s defenders.

If, in a case like this, the working class were to fail to show its international solidarity, it would be grooming itself to become the victim of usurpers who govern in the proletariat’s name, articulating the will of the proletariat, just the same as the priests purport to articulate the will of god!

Jascques MESNIL

From: La Révolution prolétarienne, No 101, 1 April 1930 [Issue reports Au Secours de Francesco Ghezzi, un prisonnier du Guépéou as just published.]

Translated by: Paul Sharkey.