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HARRY POLLITT PAPERS

Harry Pollitt papers

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Harry Pollitt papers

CP/IND/POLL. Harry Pollitt (1890-1960) was the CPGB's general secretary from 1929 to 1939 and 1941 to 1956. In the Stalinised communist party, the general secretary's role was a crucial one, which after the manner of Stalin himself combined oversight of the party apparatus with the projection of exemplary leadership qualities. Though Pollitt took some time to establish his authority, by the mid-1930s he functioned as de facto party 'leader' and a sort of tribune of the anti-fascist left. How telling it was that when his tenure was interrupted in 1939 on account of his resistance to the Comintern's anti-war line, no other party figure attempted to combine these functions. Pollitt was therefore able to resume his old responsibilities with the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, and continued to exercise them until the immediate aftermath of the Khrushchev speech in 1956.

His personal papers include extensive materials collected by his devoted disciple John Mahon, whose official biography of Pollitt was published in 1976. It is not always possible to identify which of the materials were kept by Pollitt and which were assembled by Mahon. Nevertheless, the coverage goes back to Pollitt's early years before the formation of the CPGB, including documents and recollections collected by Mahon and Pollitt's own personal memorabilia. Coverage of the inter-war years is uneven, but includes substantial correspondence with Dutt from the 'Class Against Class' period, in which together they contrived Pollitt's accession to the party leadership. There is also an important documentation of disputes over the war and party policy during the Nazi-Soviet pact. Voluminous drafts and speech notes begin in the late 1930s, and Pollitt's visits to a number of countries in the post-war period are carefully if not always revealingly recorded. There are also draft chapters and correspondence providing insight into the production of his autobiography Serving My Time. Pollitt's sixty or so trips to the USSR are not so fully documented, and for the crisis point of 1956 one must consult the files of general secretary's correspondence (CP/CENT/SEC).

As if to underline the vulnerability of the archives, two letters to Pollitt have been cut precisely where they seem to promise revelation: about early party wranglings and Moscow during the purges respectively. Given the sensitivity of these questions - and, on the CPGB history commission, Pollitt was particularly cagey about the first of them - it is easy to see why Pollitt might have wielded the scissors. Any archive is as much as anything defined by its absences; it is rare, however, that these are so clearly indicated.

Description drawn from Kevin Morgan's introduction.

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Trips overseas

Trips overseas

Includes: Papers re visit as fraternal delegate to Norwegian CP congress Aug. 1945, Papers re HP's visit to India December 1953-January 1954, Diary of visit to Cyprus March 1954, Impressions of... (more...)

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[Speech and article notes]

[Speech and article notes]

Includes: texts, quotations and points of information collected by HP for use in articles and speeches, and draft articles, speech notes and transcripts.

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Communist Party Executive Committee

Communist Party Executive Committee

Includes: Notes for report to CP EC 1943-1950, HP's report re Yalta conference (Feb. 1945), and speech regarding the Labour Party conference and the coming general election (1945). Also notes on... (more...)

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CP congresses

CP congresses

Includes papers re the CPGB 18th congress (Nov. 1945) and the CPGB 24th congress (Mar. 1956).

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Communism and Catholicism

Communism and Catholicism

Includes articles, drafts and correspondence re relationship between Communist Party and Catholics.

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[Notes on Left Book Club, Interviews, and Appeals]

[Notes on Left Book Club, Interviews, and Appeals]

Historical note on Left Book Club with leaflets attached; notes on interview with David Lloyd George 18.8.41; draft appeal to German workers c.1942.

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Elections

Elections

Includes HP's papers, addresses, speeches, and other printed materials for elections and by-elections (1929-1955).

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William Gee appeal fund

William Gee appeal fund

Includes: correspondence re Pollitt's appeals on behalf of with Gee, correspondence and papers with solicitors and health workers, etc. re Gee's physical and mental deterioration, and Receipt books of the fund.... (more...)

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Scott libel case

Scott libel case

Includes case notes of Rex v Pollitt, Strudwick and Beech re alleged libel of David Scott and a printed declaration of David Scott as to his treatment in Soviet Russia.

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Strudwick bankruptcy case

Strudwick bankruptcy case

TS record of cross-examination in the bankruptcy court of Thomas Robert Strudwick, co-defendant in the Scott libel case, 19.3.29.

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