Skip to main content
Select Source:

Zinoviev Letter

ZINOVIEV LETTER

Letter of mysterious provenance purporting to have been sent by Grigory Zinoviev, head of the Communist International (Comintern), to the British Communist Party with instructions to prepare for revolution.

The letter was first published on October 25, 1924, four days before a general election, in the British newspaper Daily Mail under the headline "Civil War Plot by Socialists' Masters." Its appearance caused great embarrassment to the Labour government of Ramsey MacDonald, which on February 2 of that year had bestowed diplomatic recognition on the Soviet Union and on August 10 had concluded a series of trade treaties, now awaiting parliamentary ratification. A conservative victory in the October 29 elections signaled instead the launch of a vigorously anti-Soviet line, culminating in the abrogation of diplomatic ties in May 1927. Denounced immediately by the Soviet government as a forgery, investigations at the time and since have failed to discover conclusive proof of the letter's authorship, which has been variously attributed to White Russian émigrés, Polish spies, the British secret services, communist provocateurs, or possibly even to Zinoviev. In January 1999, the British government published a report on the letter based on research in British and Russian secret service archives. This proposed that the document was a forgery instigated by White Russian agents in Berlin, carried out in Riga, Latvia, drawing on genuine intelligence information concerning Comintern activities, and channeled by British intelligence to Britain, where certain right-wing members of the security service proved eager to vouch for its authenticity and ensure it reached the press. The letter and subsequent "Red scare" did not, however, cause Labour's electoral defeat or discredit the party, which had already suffered a parliamentary vote of no confidence and loss of Liberal support. Indeed, the Labour party's vote in 1924 grew by one million over the previous year's election.

See also: great britain, relations with; zinoviev, grigory yevseyevich

bibliography

Andrew, Christopher. (1977). "The British Secret Service and Anglo-Soviet Relations in the 1920s, Part 1: From the Trade Negotiations to the Zinoviev Letter." The Historical Journal 20:673706.

Bennett, Gill. (1999). "A Most Extraordinary and Mysterious Business." In The Zinoviev Letter of 1924. London: Foreign & Commonwealth Office, General Services Command.

Chester, Lewis; Fay, Stephen; and Young, Hugo. (1967). The Zinoviev Letter. London: Heinemann.

Nick Baron

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Zinoviev Letter." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . Encyclopedia.com. 29 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Zinoviev Letter." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 29, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/zinoviev-letter

"Zinoviev Letter." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . Retrieved June 29, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/zinoviev-letter

Zinoviev letter

Zinoviev letter. Supposed to have brought down the first Labour government of 1924. It bore the signature of Grigori Zinoviev, president of the Communist International (Comintern) in Moscow, and was addressed to the Communist Party of Great Britain, calling on it to sow subversion among the armed forces of the crown. There is a faint possibility that it was a forgery; and a stronger likelihood that it was deliberately ‘leaked’ by the British secret services, who intercepted it, shortly before the October 1924 general election, in order to scare voters over to the Conservatives. Conservative central office and certain sympathetic newspapers were also in the plot.

Bernard Porter

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Zinoviev letter." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 29 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Zinoviev letter." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 29, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/zinoviev-letter-0

"Zinoviev letter." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved June 29, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/zinoviev-letter-0

Zinoviev letter

Zinoviev letter a letter published in the press in 1924 as having been sent by the Soviet politician Grigori Zinoviev (1883–1936) to British Communists, inciting them to subversion; it was later discovered to be a forgery.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Zinoviev letter." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 29 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Zinoviev letter." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 29, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/zinoviev-letter

"Zinoviev letter." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved June 29, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/zinoviev-letter