Comintern (kəmĬntārn´) [acronym for Communist International], name given to the Third International, founded at Moscow in 1919. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin feared a resurgence of the Second, or Socialist, International under non-Communist leadership. The Comintern was established to claim Communist leadership of the world socialist movement. The delegates to the first congress were mainly Russians, with some members of left-wing socialist splinter groups who happened to be in the Soviet Union and one German (who abstained on the crucial vote of establishing the organization). Gregory Zinoviev was the first president of the Comintern. The second congress laid down (1920) the
for membership, firmly establishing a differentiation between the socialist parties and the Communist parties. The Comintern gained strength during the 1920s, but its efforts to foment revolution, notably in Germany, were unsuccessful. In 1935, the Comintern abandoned the membership policies established under the
and began to form coalitions, or popular fronts, with bourgeois parties. In 1936, Germany and Japan concluded the so-called Anti-Comintern Pact, ostensibly to protect the world from the Third International. The pact was renewed in 1941 with 11 other countries as signatories. In order to allay the misgivings of its allies in World War II, the Soviet Union dissolved the Comintern in 1943.
See B. Lazitch and M. M. Drachkovitch, Biographical Dictionary of the Comintern (1973); study by J. Riddell (1986).