The Communist, or Third, International (Comintern) and its archives, kept hidden away for many years, have been shrouded by rumor,

conjecture, and myth. The semi-legal and clandestine activities coordinated by the Comintern made this one of the most cloistered societies in recent centuries. Its influence was heavily felt even in countries where it could operate only in semi-or total illegality, through secretive activities, yet it is impossible to write twentieth century history without these archives. However, access to this indispensable source of information-fifteen linear kilometers of shelving-was virtually impossible for many years. After Stalin dissolved the Comintern in 1943, the documents testifying to its decisions were classified as top secret and held in the inaccessible repositories of the Central Party Archive in Moscow. In 1992 the archives were opened to the public, but were still difficult to access, due to its vastness (fifty-five million pages) and complexity (more than ninety languages).