“Right-wing” opposition

The communistic opposition and, in the words of its opponents the right-wing opposition’, supported a united front of the workers’ movement against the rise of fascism in a similar manner to Trotskyism. However, it differed in its view of the Soviet Union: whereas the Trotskyists and their precursors were early critics of Stalinisation, the “right-wing” continued to work within the Stalinised parties for several years until they were expelled from them between 1928 and 1929.

In the Soviet Union, this term applies to the party wing associated with Nikolai Bukharin. Bukharin was a philosopher and economist and initially an ally of Stalin in the fight against Trotsky. However, Bukharin went on to criticise the measures aimed at collectivising agriculture in the Soviet Union and, by the late 1920s, faced persecution for belonging to the “right opposition”. From 1929, he was leader of the International Communist Opposition. In 1938, Bukharin was tried and executed during the Stalinist “Moscow Trials”.

In Germany, the “right-wing opposition” is linked to Heinrich Brandler, among others. Following instructions from the Comintern, the German Communist Party implemented an “ultra-left” shift towards social fascism theory, this led the former party leader Brandler and August Thalheimer to establish the Communist Party of Germany (Opposition). However, this party was only ever marginally important. During this period, it was not unheard of for individuals to change their positions in a manner that would seem rather surprising today. For example, Paul Fröhlich, the German communist, was first designated as part of the “left”, but was later excluded from the Communist Party of Germany for belonging to the “right opposition” and being an associate of Brandler and Thalheimer.