GEORGI DIMITROV is an outstanding figure in the history of the world communist movement. Starling life as a printing press worker at the age of fifteen, he joined the Bulgarian Social Democratic Party and became active in trade union work. He broke with Social Democracy on the question of support to the bourgeoisie daring the first world war, and became one of the founders of the Bulgarian Communist Party that led the unsuccessful armed revolutionary uprising of 1923. Arrested by the Nazis when he was living incognito in Germany, he was the principal accused in the notorious Reichstag fire trial. He undertook his own defence at the trial, and turned it into a damning indictment of Nazism; he was acquitted for lack of evidence. At a time of confusion in the ranks of the world communist movement on the question of the nature of fascism and the appropriate tactics for fighting it, Dimitrov expounded his thesis of the United Front at the Seventh Congress of the Communist International. He was the leader of the International throughout the period of the anti-fascist struggle. After the war, he led Bulgaria in the initial years of its socialist construction.
The relevance of Dimitrov's writings on the United Front is not confined simply to the particular situation of the second world war. But precisely because his writings on the subject continue to be relevant, it is necessary to appreciate their specific content. In the lead article of this issue, Prakash Karat discusses Dimitrov's thesis against its historical background and in contrast with other prevailing tactical perspectives of the time. This centenary year of Dimitrov's birth coincides with an international conjuncture where such an assessment of his historical role and theoretical contribution is even more urgently necessary thnn ever before.