Free Ghezzi!

Readers of R.P. have learnt from the note carried in the past edition that Francesco Ghezzi, the very well-known Milanese militant, has been rearrested in Moscow.

It will be remembered that R.P. took part in the campaign that Ghezzi’s friends waged during the years 1929-1930 which resulted in his release.

It will be remembered also that the Stalinists hurled the worst accusations at Ghezzi, notably that he was in cahoots with the Italian embassy. Stalin’s lackeys abroad resorted to the vilest calumnies. But the strenuous campaigning forced the GPU to back off: in 1931, Vaillant-Couturier, fresh back from Moscow, had even ventured to refer to Ghezzi as a “dedicated Bolshevik”, in connection with whom, he went on to say, the GPU had made a mistake that it had just set straight.

Ghezzi was freed from prison half-dead; as soon as he had recovered, he started back to work as a metalworker in a Moscow factory. He has never held down any position of “responsibility” in Russia; he could not, therefore, have had access to state secrets, nor industrial secrets, as he was never the manager of any firm.

So, what could he be guilty of, in the eyes of the “justice” of Stalin-Yezhov, other than being known as a revolutionary militant of integrity?

The fact is that for nearly 7 seven years Ghezzi has enjoyed a degree of “immunity” thanks to the campaign his friends had once upon a time waged on his behalf. Of course, his file in the GPU offices carries a note to the effect that it would be dangerous to lay a finger on this individual, lest a further campaign be launched.

Since then, however, Yagoda has fallen into disgrace and Yezhov reckons that the recommendations of his predecessor should go unheeded. Comrades, let us show him that he is wrong. And let us also remind Stalin that whereas he may betray and murder his former comrades in the struggle, the rest of us keep faith with our friendships and comradeship. There are quite a few old friends of Ghezzi’s hereabouts, comrades of that magnificent generation of the Italian proletariat that for years after the war threw itself into taking over the factories. Our friend Francesco was one of the most energetic and indefatigable of our number. We will not allow the Stalin-Yezhov gang to murder him the way it has so many others.

We need to warn His Majesty Stalin I, whose absolute power within Russia we know only too well, that if anything untoward befalls Ghezzi, we will see to it that he meets with repercussions on an unpredictable scale.

In order to avoid this, Stalin-Yezhov are hereby called upon to free Ghezzi immediately and let him leave the country. Besides, our comrade formally requested, last year, to be given the chance to join the antifascist front in Spain. We now reiterate that request: let Ghezzi leave and take care not to hand him over to Mussolini’s police, the way the GPU has already done with another Italian worker militant: Petrini.


From: La Révolution prolétarienne, No 263, 25 January 1938

Translated by: Paul Sharkey.