”…a smooth operator”: Laszlo Dobos (a.k.a. Louis Gibarti) Short Personal File in the Comintern Archive

Enclosed Picture in Gibarti's Personal File, National Archives (Kew Gardens, London) Public Records Office KV2/1401

Picture of Louis Gibarti, Source: The National Archives (Kew Gardens, London) Public Records Office KV2/1401

In 1946, an unknown writer remembered and described the Hungarian Laszlo Dobos as ”a smooth operator”, a person that had been active under the name of Louis Gibarti (1895-1967), and was intimately connected to Willi Münzenberg‘s activities. I will not here go further into detail about Gibarti/Dobos life and career in the international communist movement during the interwar years. However, the definition of Gibarti as ”a smooth operator” aptly describes his life and the ambigous traces left behind in the Comintern Archive in Moscow, traces that leave more questions than answers. While some of the active individuals in the Comintern left a trail of documents, compiled and categorized in personal files, Gibarti’s personal file consists only of half a page (see below), which, in all of its scarceness, give no substantial evidence or clues about his actual role or contributions in various communist movements or activities during the 1920s-30s. 

Still, Gibarti is a fascinating character in the history of international communism, a person that played a part in shaping the outcome of the League against Imperialism and the Anti-war movement in 1932 (the Amsterdam Congress in August, 1932) to mention a few examples. In 1941, the political police in Madrid arrested Gibarti ”while trying to cross illegally Spain”, whereupon he spent 27 months in Spanish prisons and camps. After the Second World War, Gibarti held a position in the UNESCO, later suspected of being an informant for the FBI in connection with the communist spectre beginning to haunt the USA as the Cold War made its entrance. In 1955, Gibarti re-established some of the contacts from the 1920s as he interviewed the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in the French paper Le Monde diplomatique in relation to the Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung 1955. Thus, this is one of several historical threads which link together the Bandung Conference in 1955 with the ”First International Congress Against Colonialism and Imperialism” in Brussels 1927.   

Below follow Gibarti’s ”total” personal file in the Comintern Archive:    

RGASPI 495/205/6048: Louis Gibarti (LUIZ GIBARTI)

List 1, Biography on Gibarti, undated

Luis Gibarti, geb. 26.4.95. Ungarn. Politisch organ. Seit 1913 Jug. 1919 ung. KP. KPD seit Febr.29 (?) Arbeitete im internationalen Auftrag für die IAH, war in Amerika usw. Vor Eintritt der Hitlerdiktatur war G. Instrukteur der Telefunkenzelle. April [19]33 verließ er Deutschland auf Anweisung des Gen. Mü [Münzenberg]. Er meldete sich nur bei seiner Zelle ab, da er die UBL nicht erreichen konnte. War dann in Paris Sekr. d. Welthilfskomitees, und reiste in dessen Auftrag auch andere Staaten.

The sparse content in Gibarti’s personal file in the Comintern Archive stands in stark contrast with his personal file, located in the British National Archives in Kew Gardens, London. The dossier contains documents and accounts which entails a thorough understanding of Gibarti’s life both within and outside the international communist movement. The history of Gibarti will be continued…