Socialist and Peoples' History

The Red Book On the Moscow Trials - II

Published on Monday, 20 September 2010 05:14
Written by Radical Socialist

This is the second part of Sedov's book that we are putting up. As before, it is taken from the Sedov Internet archive, which is part of the MIA.

WHEN EXACTLY WAS THE “UNIFIED CENTER” CREATED AND WHEN DID IT FUNCTION?



Here is what the indictment says: “At the end of 1932 the unification of the Trotskyist and Zinovievist groups took place and they organized a unified center ...”

Organized at the end of 1932, this center, according to the indictment, carried on terrorist activity for almost four years: “from 1932 to 1936.” It is the end of 1932 which is considered the moment—and that is repeated dozens of times during the trial—when the Zinovievists on the one hand, and the so-called “Trotskyists” (Smirnov and others), on the other hand, supposedly obeyed Trotsky’s instructions and created the Unified Center, “which gave itself the task of executing a series of terrorist acts.”

What happened next? Here is what a number of the defendants and Bakaev in particular, say: “In the autumn of 1932, Zinoviev and Kamenev had been expelled from the party ... it was decided to temporarily suspend the terrorist activity. In the autumn of 1934 it was taken up again.” Reingold also says: “In our terrorist activity ... between the autumn of 1932 and the summer of 1933 there was a break, beginning with the autumn of 1932.” The inconsistencies concern only the time when this activity was resumed. It thus turns out that the center which was formed at the end of 1932 had already ceased its activity for a while ... before its formation, in the autumn of 1932. [36]

In reality, to demonstrate that the center (if it had ever existed) could not do otherwise than cease its activity in the autumn of 1932, we do not need this testimony. The fact is that in the autumn of 1932 (in October) Zinoviev and Kamenev were exiled from Moscow, and in the winter(on January 1, 1933) Smirnov was arrested. Mrachkovsky was also outside Moscow; he was, according to the information available at that time, deported, as were Ter-Vaganian and a number of other former Oppositionists. We can see that from the autumn of 1932 and until at least the summer of 1933 (the return of Zinoviev and Kamenev from exile), the center could not in fact exist.

This does not stop Dreitzer from stating that in the spring of 1933 he received “instructions from the Trotskyist-Zinovievist center to hasten the terrorist acts against the leadership of the Communist party in the USSR.” According to Dreitzer, consequently, it turns out that, just in the period in which the center “had ceased its activity,” it demanded that he “hasten” the preparation of the terrorist acts.

In this jumble of absurdities, it is difficult to understand anything at all! The center is organized and dissolved all at once, ceases its activity and at the same time “hastens” it.

There is no less confusion tied to the question of exactly when the center finally “resumed” its mysterious activity. Bakaev, who answers this question the most precisely, says: “In the autumn of 1934,” that is, two years later. This date is not chosen accidentally. It must be a preparation for the “confession” of Kirov’s assassination. If we believe Bakaev’s testimony, the only period in which the center existed and involved itself in terrorist activity was the second half, and, in particular, the autumn of 1934, that is, a period of only a few months. If we accept the version of the other defendants (Pikel, Reingold, Zinoviev, Kamenev), the center existed and acted from the summer or autumn of 1933 to the end of 1934, that is, one year and a half at the very most. Meanwhile, the indictment and the verdict say that the center existed from 1932 to 1936. In order to demonstrate that this statement is not unfounded, Vyshinsky asks Zinoviev the following question: “For how long did it (the center) function?” Zinoviev answers: “In fact, until 1936.” [37] This testimony of Zinoviev’s is at least strange, since he himself, like Evdokimov, Bakaev, and Kamenev had been in prison since December 1934. (Since the end of 1934, none of the members of the center had been in Moscow.) Obviously, from the end of 1934 to 1936 they engaged in terrorist activity ... in prison. Another member of the center, Mrachkovsky, during the four years of his “terrorist activity” was in Moscow only twice, in 1932 and in 1934, and even these were only short visits. How he was able, under these conditions, to work actively in the center is incomprehensible.

Besides this, one of the members of the center, I.N. Smirnov, never left prison after January 1, 1933, that is, for more than three and one half years. One wonders what role I.N. Smirnov could have played in the activity of the center since he was arrested in the period when this center had just been organized, and how, in particular, he could have taken an active part in Kirov’s assassination when he was in prison, without interruption, for the two years which preceded the assassination. But the verdict says in black and white — and Smirnov was shot in accordance with this verdict—that he is accused of “having organized and carried out on December 1, 1934 ... the assassination of S.M. Kirov.” Is this not a “model trial”?

Vyshinsky, it is true, also has a reply to that. Regarding the terrorist directives which Dreitzer was supposed to have received (in 1934), that is, when Smirnov had already been in prison for a long time, the prosecutor Vyshinsky says: “I am deeply (!) convinced (!!) that you knew about it (the terrorist directive) even while you were being held in the political isolator.” The material proofs are replaced by false “confessions” and mind-reading.



During the trial, several meetings are mentioned: in Zinoviev and Kamenev’s country house in Ilinskoe, in Zinoviev’s apartment, in Kamenev’s apartment and in Mrachkovsky’s railroad car. The first three were made up exclusively of Zinovievists; the last one, in Mrachkovsky’s railroad car, was, on the contrary, made up of former Trotskyists (which the exception of Evdokimov). Furthermore, the very fact of the last meeting is formally denied by I.N. Smirnov. These meetings, if they really took place, were not and could not have been sessions of the “Unified” Center, since they were only meetings of a single group. The court furthermore does not attempt to present these meetings as assemblies of the Unified Center.

With the object of crushing Smirnov, Vyshinsky asks Zinoviev: “And did you personally hear from Smirnov a series of propositions (concerning terror)?” Zinoviev: “I personally held talks with him on two or three occasions.”

This dialogue, by the way, exposes the fictitious character of the center. It turns out that during the entire terrorist activity, the two most outstanding members of the center “held talks” only “on two or three occasions.” And the common work of the center? The joint participation in its sessions? Of this—not a word!

Thus, during the trial, there is no evidence of any kind which would permit one to say that the “Unified Center” ever met, even once, or even once carried out any decision at all.

And as for I.N. Smirnov, who had started making “confessions” during the preliminary investigation, when it came to the trial he made an attempt to stop; [38] on the question of the Center, the following dialogue took place with the prosecutor:

Vyshinsky: When did you leave the center?

Smirnov: I did not have to leave it, there was nothing that I might have left.

Vyshinsky: Did the center exist?

Smirnov: But what center ...? [39]

The trial record is also forced to say that Smirnov confirmed these words by referring to the fact that “the center did not meet.” With this testimony, Smirnov struck the last blow to the legend of the “Unified Center.”

Is it worthwhile to dwell on the fact that neither the court, nor the prosecutor tries to look into all these contradictions? Rightly fearing that by “deepening” the investigation they would be threatened with even more disagreeable contradictions, they quite reasonably prefer not to dwell on them.

The attentive reader of the trial records who has little experience with Stalinist amalgams cannot help but say to himself: “What a bizarre center! It is impossible to establish its exact composition, the moment of its creation, or the period of its activity; it did not meet a single time. What it did in general is unknown!” Certainly, this center would be very bizarre, if ... if it had ever existed. [40]


Footnotes

[36] In the verdict an attempt was made to correct the situation by saying that the center arose not at the end of 1932, but in the autumn of 1932. That changes nothing in the case. It turns out that the center was organized and at the same time ceased its activity. It was undoubtedly organized with the special object .... ceasing its activity. (L.S.)

[37] Citing in his indictment speech the words of Zinoviev, “until 1936,” Vyshinsky changes 1936 to 1934, fearing, evidently, that otherwise the lie would be too crude to get away with. (L.S.)

[38] This explains why Smirnov’s depositions in court contradict in some measure the depositions at the time of the investigation. Not having the courage to openly break with the “confessions” extorted by the GPU and to tell the whole truth, Smirnov tried nonetheless to put up resistance during the trial. Justice demands that we note that Smirnov conducted himself somewhat better than the other defendants. (L.S.)

[39] This is the official translation from the International Correspondence (special number for the trial). Smirnov’s reply corresponds, rather, in English, to the exclamation, Come on! (L.S.)

[40] Besides the Unified Center there also appears in the trial a certain terrorist Center of Moscow (not to be confused with the Zinovievist Moscow Center of 1934!) The official composition of this center is: Dreitzer, Reingold and Pikel. It would be easy to show that everything we have said on the question of the Unified Center could more or less apply to this “center.” Its composition varies according to different testimony. This “center” was organized by Mrachkovsky before his departure from Moscow in 1932. Returning to Moscow nearly two years later, Mrachliovsky hears a report from the director of this center, Dreitzer, according to whom ... the Moscow center has been organized and so on, all in the same spirit.


WHAT REALLY DID EXIST?



After having crushed the Left Opposition in 1927-1928, Stalin, who had until then denied the possibility of industrialization, of collectivization, and of the planned economy in general, made a left turn. The new Stalinist economic policy, extremely contradictory, chaotic and carried out with purely bureaucratic methods, was formed from scraps taken from the platform of the Left Opposition. With all the more bitterness Stalin directed the repression against the bearers of this platform. The Stalinist left turn (plus the strengthening of repression) brought disorder in 1929 into the ranks of the Left Opposition. The recently begun industrialization and collectivization opened up new possibilities and new perspectives. Under these conditions, many Oppositionists were inclined to he lenient toward the regime, which had become increasingly bureaucratic. They were swept away by a wave of capitulations. Among them were Radek, Preobrazhensky, I.N. Smirnov, Mrachkovsky, Ter-Vaganian, Dreitzer, and others.

The following years (1930-1932) were the years of uncontrolled bureaucratic management of the economy by the the Stalinist leaders who rapidly led the country into a very serious economic and political crisis. This crisis took particularly sharp forms in 1932. The administrative abolition of classes in the countryside and the forced “complete” collectivization had radically disrupted agriculture. In the Soviet economy the disproportions had taken on extraordinary dimensions: between industry and agriculture, and within industry; a catastrophic level of quality, an absence of consumer products, inflation, the complete disruption of transportation. The material situation of the masses worsened continuously, malnutrition turned into actual starvation. Millions of new workers lacked housing and vegetated in barracks, often without light, in the cold, in filth. Across the country there spread an epidemic of spotted fever such as had not been seen since the Civil War. A general fatigue and discontent began to come to light. The workers had recourse more and more frequently to strikes, in Ivanovo-Voznesensk there were large upheavals of workers. The kolkhozniks defended their harvest and their goods against the non-collectivized peasants with arms in hand. In the Caucasus and the Kuban a small civil war raged. The demoralization which was growing ever stronger in the party, the discontent and the distrust of the leadership also filtered into the apparatus. One could hear everywhere, among the old Bolsheviks, the workers, the young Komsomols, that Stalin was leading the country to ruin.

This was the situation which surrounded the former leaders of the Left Opposition who had split from it. After having capitulated at a different time, they had all sincerely tried, at least at first, to adapt themselves to the Stalinist apparatus, hoping to take part in the struggle for industrialization, the struggle against the kulak. But the sharp economic and political crisis moved them away from the Stalinist apparatus. Half involuntarily, certain oppositionist feelings were born in them, the need to speak among themselves, to criticize the Stalinist policies. Thus in 1932, one could observe a certain, though rather weak, awakening of the groups which at one time had capitulated before Stalin; the group of Zinoviev and Kamenev. the group of old left Stalinists—Lominadze-Shatskin-Sten (those who were called the “leftists”); of Smirnov and his friends, and also of some rightists, Riutin, Slepkov, and others. But this “awakening” must not be exaggerated. For the majority, it had a purely domestic character, never going further than “heart-to-heart” talks and dreams about how good it would be to have other politics and another leadership. Most likely, the men from the different circles sought out a personal coming together, ties with each other. The most audacious perhaps said that it would be good to form a “bloc.” But probably it was not even taken that far. Hence Stalin now (four years later!) constructs a “bloc” and even a “Unified Center.”


Of course the Russian Bolshevik-Leninists didn’t enter into my kind or a bloc with a single of one these groups. [41] All these groups had at one time or another capitulated to Stalin and for this alone they were utterly opposed to the Bolshevik-Leninists, who considered and continue to consider capitulation as one of the greatest crimes against communism and the interests of the working class. On this question, the Left Opposition took a particularly intransigent attitude. In the eyes of the Bolshevik-Leninists, these groups and men did not and could not have any political or moral authority.

The Left Opposition attached a primarily symptomatic importance to the awakening of these groups of “party liberals.” as they were called amongst themselves. Of course, this could serve as a point of departure for Zinoviev, Kamenev, Smirnov and others to return to the old banner of the Bolshevik- Leninists—it could, but it was nothing of the sort.

Stalin, the GPU and the Central Control Commission did not remain ignorant of this state of mind among the old Oppositionists. This state of mind, be it said in passing, had at that time seized the majority of the party. At the beginning of October 1932, Zinoviev and Kamenev were expelled from the party, in a common list with prominent rightists, Uglanov (former secretary of the Central Committee and the Moscow Committee of the party), Riutin (member of the Central Committee and leader of the Moscow organization), Slepkov, Maretsky (young rightist theoreticians, students of Bukharin), and others. [42] Riutin had in fact written a long document critical of the Stalinist policies and the Stalinist regime, including, it seems, a very rude portrayal of Stalin personally (“evil genius of the party.” etc.). Zinoviev and Kamenev were accused of the following: “Knowing that counterrevolutionary documents were widespread, they had preferred, rather than denounce them, to discuss this document and thus to show themselves to be direct accomplices of an anti-party counterrevolutionary group.” [43] (Pravda, 1932). Just for failing to make this “denunciation,” there was no other accusation — Zinoviev and Kamenev were expelled from the party and exiled from Moscow. The announcement of their expulsions mentioned not a word about any kind of political activity by Zinoviev and Kamenev—there was none.

Such was the first version, in any case a plausible one, of the “activity” of Zinoviev and Kamenev in 1932. The second version (in 1934) already spoke of a “Moscow Center,” of having “excited terrorist tendencies,” etc. The third version (the trial m August 1936) contains the Unified Center, terrorism, and Kirov’s assassination! The further the facts go into the past, the more shamelessly Stalin falsifies them!

Soon the news arrived from Moscow about the arrest of a number of well-known former Oppositionists, old Bolsheviks: I.N. Smirnov, Preobrazhensky, Ufimtsev, Mrachkovsky, Ter-Vaganian, and others. [44]

We have written above that the exile of Zinoviev, Kamenev and others might have become the starting point for their return to the Bolshevik-Leninists, but that it was nothing of the sort. Already by the spring of 1933 Zinoviev and Kamenev had capitulated once again, and in a much more humiliating manner than before, by glorifying Stalin, etc. They were returned to Moscow. Here is how Trotsky then evaluated the new capitulation in the press: “Acknowledge Stalin’s genius ... and Zinoviev and Kamenev ‘acknowledged’ it, that is, they have finally reached the bottom ...” “Like Gogol’s hero, Stalin is collecting dead souls ...” (May 23, 1933, Bulletin of the Opposition, No.35.)

How far away these words are from a “bloc” or common “Unified Center”! In the eyes of a politically honest man this one quotation annihilates all the Stalinist slanders concerning the bloc of Trotsky and Zinoviev, which lay at the basis of this trial.

The new capitulation of Zinoviev and Kamenev was closely linked to the improvement of the USSR’s domestic situation. In 1933 the crisis was softening, the Oppositionist feelings were lessening. The capitulationist groups which had almost come to life once again returned to passivity. In 1934 these tendencies became decisively stronger.

At the trial, we are presented with a very different picture. As long as a sharp crisis and a general discontent reigned (1932-1933), the terrorists did not show any particular activity. But precisely at the moment when (in 1934) the country was “coming out of its difficulties, the triumph of the policy of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik) provoked a new outburst of animosity and hatred against the leadership of the party ...” (Kamenev’s testimony).

This whole story is a very stupid fabrication. It was necessary to help lay the foundation for the charge of having assassinated Kirov (in 1934.)

After granting amnesty to Zinoviev, Kamenev and others, Stalin did not give them any confidence. They were not entrusted with work of even the slightest importance. They were kept far away from politics. Since that time, that is, since the spring of 1933, Zinoviev, Kamenev and all the others who had capitulated, passed completely into political non-existence. Morally, they were broken. They no longer lived, they vegetated. The revolver fired by Nikolaev upset this situation. Zinoviev, Kamenev and others were brutally “recalled” by Stalin to political life, “not for their own sake, but for the sake of Stalin,” as victims of the Bonapartist bosses. Old Marxists, who had tied their whole lives to the party of the working class and the movement of masses, were accused of having participated in “terrorism.”


Footnotes

[41] If the “bloc” between the Left Opposition and various groups which capitulated to Stalin existed, how can it be explained that nothing about this significant fact appeared in the press, especially in the Stalinist press. The Left Opposition was always an intransigent opponent of behind-the-scenes combinations and agreements. For it, the question of a bloc could only consist of an open political act in full view of the masses, based on its political platform. The history of the 13-year struggle of the Left Opposition is proof of that.

No doubt the politically intransigent attitude toward capitulation did not exclude individual personal meetings or exchanges of information—but nothing more. (L.S.)

[42] The very expulsion of Zinoviev and Kamenev together with the rightists was a typical Stalinist, i.e., Thermidorian amalgam. (L.S.)

[43] This means Riutin and his friends. (L.S.)

[44] Here is how the Moscow correspondent of the Bulletin, a Bolshevik-Leninist, described these events: “The numerous arrests among those who had left the opposition (in Moscow alone around 150 people were arrested and exiled), were explained as a prophylactic measure. Although many of those who had left were passive, they were not trusted. Stalin considers it necessary to get rid of someone before he is able to think.” (Bulletin of the Opposition, No.35, July 1933) (L.S.)

 

MARXISM AND INDIVIDUAL TERROR



Individual terror sets as its task the murder of isolated individuals in order to provoke a political movement and even a political revolution. In pre-revolutionary Russia, the question of individual terror had importance not only as a general principle, but also had enormous political significance, since there existed in Russia the petit-bourgeois party of the Socialist Revolutionaries (epigones of the heroic Narodnaya Volya), who followed the tactic of individual terror with regard to tsarist ministers and governors. The Russian Marxists, including Trotsky during his earliest years, took part in the fight against the adventuristic tactic of individual terror and its iilusions, which counted not upon the movement of the masses of workers, but on the terrorists’ bomb to open the road to revolution. To individual terror, Marxism counterposes the proletarian revolution.

From his youth, Trotsky adhered resolutely and forever to Marxism. If one were to publish everything which Trotsky wrote, it would make dozens of thick volumes. One would not be able to find in them a single line which betrayed an equivocal attitude toward individual terror. How strange it is to have to even speak of it today!

Here is how Trotsky formulated the position of Marxism toward individual terror in an article appearing in the Austrian newspaper Der Kampf, in 1911:


Whether or not a terrorist attack, even if “successful,” provokes disturbance in the ruling circles depends on the concrete political circumstances. In any case, this disturbance can only be short-lived; the capitalist state does not rest on ministers and cannot be destroyed together with them. The classes which it serves will always find new men; the mechanism remains intact and continues its work.

But the disturbance which the terrorist attack brings to the ranks of the working masses themselves is much more profound. If it suffices to arm oneself with a revolver to arrive at the goal, why then the efforts of the class struggle? If one can intimidate high-ranking people with the thunder of an explosion, why then a party?


The Marxist Trotsky has given his whole conscious life, forty years! – to the workers movement. The last twenty years of Trotsky’s revolutionary activity have been spent before the eyes of the whole world. In this activity his worst enemies could not find an instance of “double-entry bookeeping,” or compromises with Marxism. For forty years, Trotsky has always taken the direct path to the final goal. To now take the path of individual terror, to renounce Marxism, would signify for Trotsky not only renouncing himself, but also reducing to nothing the fruits of forty years of revolutionary activity. That would signify political suicide.

Rejecting individual terror with regard to the bourgeois police state, because only the proletariat itself can overthrow this state, the Bolshevik-Leninist-Marxists still more strongly reject individual terror in the country of Soviets, where the greatest social revolution in history was accomplished. Individual terror in the USSR, completely independently of the intentions of the terrorists themselves, can only serve the cause of Bonapartist counterrevolution and could only facilitate the victory of fascism in the USSR.

In contrast to the bureaucrats and terrorists, the Left Opposition has always thought that the problem does not rest with Stalin personally, but in those social changes which have occurred in the USSR and as a result of which the victory of Stalin was guaranteed. Stalin’s absolutism is not at all accidental, it is result of historical development. It is not Stalin personally who holds unlimited power, but the bureaucracy as a social layer, through Stalin. This limitless power was given to the bureaucracy by the reaction which followed the heroic period of the Russian revolution. The strength of the bureaucracy and, derived from it, the strength of Stalin, “the party’s most eminent mediocrity,” does not at all lie in the “genius” of Stalin, but in that relation of class forces, a very unfavorable relationship for the proletariat, as it developed inside and outside the USSR in the recent period.

The removal of Stalin (from his position as General Secretary) as an individual question, was proposed by Lenin at the beginning of 1923, and this could have made sense at that time, because it could have facilitated the struggle against the bureaucracy which had not yet been able to strengthen itself. Today, and even long ago, the question of Stalin, as an independent question, does not exist. It is impossible to change by assassination the relationship of social forces and to stop the objective path of development. The personal removal of Stalin would today signify nothing but his replacement by one of the Kaganoviches whom the Soviet press would overnight turn into the genius of geniuses.

The Soviet bureaucracy is the greatest danger to the USSR. But it can be removed only by an active uprising of the working class. This uprising is only possible as the result of the rebirth of the workers movement in the West, which, reaching the USSR, would undermine and sweep away the Stalinist absolutism. There can be no other road for revolutionary Marxists. And it is not with the aid of some police machinations that Stalin will discredit Marxism and Marxists! For nearly a hundred years the worldwide police have been working toward this, from Bismarck and Napoleon III, but each time they have only burned their fingers. The police falsifications and machinations of Stalin hardly surpass the other examples of this same work; but he has carried them out – and in what a manner! – by “confessions” torn from the accused by the infinitely refined methods of the Inquisition.

To discredit Marxism, Stalin puts onto the stage the same Reingoid, who declares that “Zinoviev based (sic) the necessity of using terrorism on this, that although (?) terror was incompatible with Marxism, at the present time it is necessary to cast this (!!) aside.” What a beautiful accumulation of words! Zinoviev, don’t you see, based this on the fact, that although this is incompatible with Marxism, this has to be “cast aside.” What complete idiocy!

Toward Marxism, as toward theory in general, Stalin shows fear, and at the same time, a sort of contempt. A limited empiricist, “a practical person,” Stalin has always been a stranger to the theory of Marxism. For him, Marxism, more exactly the arguments “from Marxism,” are first of all a cover, a smokescreen. The “practical” arguments, those of day-today life and, in particular, the arguments of political gangsterism, are obviously closer to him. There, he is in his element.



If we approach the question of individual terror in the USSR, not from a theoretical, but a purely “empirical” point of view, from the point of view of so-called common sense, then it suffices to draw the following conclusion: the assassinated Kirov is immediately replaced by another Kirov-Zhdanov (Stalin has as many as he needs in reserve.) Meanwhile hundreds of people are shot, thousands, and very probably tens of thousands, are deported. The vise is tightened by several turns.

If Kirov’s assassination helped anyone, it is certainly the Stalinist bureaucracy. Under the cover of the struggle against “terrorists,” it has stifled the last manifestations of critical thought in the USSR. It has placed a heavy tombstone on all the living.

In fact, it is Stalin himself who pushed isolated groups of youth who are politically backwards and desperate onto the road of terrorism. By reducing liberty to the right to be a docile subject, by stifling all social life in the USSR, by giving no one the possibility of expressing his opinion in the framework of proletarian democracy, Stalin necessarily pushes isolated and desperate men onto the road of terrorism. The personification of the regime – the party does not exist, the working class does not exist, only Stalin and the local Kaganovich exist – this also cannot fail to feed terrorist tendencies. To the extent that these really exist in the USSR, Stalin – and he alone carries the full political responsibility. It is his regime which gives birth to them and not the Left Opposition.

It is also in this direction that the monstrous and bestial repression acts, in particular the latest Moscow shootings (and across the entire USSR there are undoubtedly shootings of which we know nothing!) At the time of Nikolaev’s revolver shot we, the communist-internationalists, had already condemned individual terror in the most pitiless and most decisive fashion. Today we maintain this point of view more firmly than ever. If Stalin, by his policy, his regime and the extermination of the Opposition, can create a terrorist state of mind, then revolutionary duty imperiously demands that the Bolshevik-Leninists repeat once again with all their energy: the path or individual terror is not our path, it can only be the path to the destruction of the revolution. It can facilitate the victory of the Bonapartist counterrevolution and only that.

 

LENIN, THE FIRST TERRORIST
(“Remove Stalin”)



During the trial as during the investigation, the official and unofficial accusers (i.e., the accused) used with particular insistence the expression: “Stalin must be removed.” During the investigation this formula was used as amorphous pig-iron, from which one might make a club, but from which one might also make nothing at all. Does it mean to “remove” him legally, on the basis of party statutes and at the party congress, whose business it is to reelect or to replace the General Secretary, – or in some other manner, “illegally”? This question is carefully left in the shadows at the beginning of the inquiry. There it will become apparent. As long as the accused have not been broken for good, all that is torn from them is the confession of having the intention to “remove” Stalin, to remove, i.e., to replace. Then as if by chance, they are ordered to confess that they are for “extreme methods.” The rest is clear: the two declarations are combined and when the accused is definitively broken, the investigating judge lays down his hand. The extreme methods become “terror;” to “remove” becomes synonymous with to kill. And what at first sight was amorphous pig-iron has sharpened to become a deadly weapon. In the court, the formula “to remove Stalin” appears with its new meaning: to remove means “to kill.” [45]

But why have Stalin and his accomplices become so obsessed with this expression? Where did they first come up with it? In his statement, Vyshinsky gives us some explanation of this: “In March 1932, in a fit of counterrevolutionary anger, Trotsky published an open letter with the call to ‘remove Stalin’ (this letter was discovered in the secret lining of a suitcase belonging to Holtzman and added to the dossier as material evidence.)” Olberg also mentions this, testifying that: “Sedov spoke to me for the first time about my trip to the USSR following Trotsky’s appeal which was written after he had been deprived of his Soviet citizenship. Trotsky, in this appeal, put forward the idea that it was necessary to assassinate Stalin. This thought is expressed in the following words: ‘It is necessary to remove Stalin.’ After having shown me the typewritten text of this appeal, Sedov said to me: ‘Well, you see now that it cannot be said more clearly. This is a diplomatic formulation.’”

We thus learn that we are dealing with an open letter which Trotsky wrote in March 1932, on the occasion of the revocation of his Soviet citizenship. Vyshinsky doesn’t find it necessary to quote such an important document, although the letter was “added to the dossier as material evidence.”

Why? We shall soon find out. Trotsky’s “call” for the assassination of Stalin is nothing other than the open letter of Trotsky to the Praesidium of the Central Executive Committee, that is, to Kalinin, Petrovsky, and others, published at one time in the Bulletin of the Opposition [46] and in all the other publications of the Left Opposition. It is to Kalinin and Petrovsky that Trotsky transmits – through the press! – the instruction to assassinate Stalin.

What a sensation! And why is Kalinin not among the defendants? Or hasn’t his turn come yet?

Here is the extract from this “open letter” which interests us:


Stalin has led us to an impasse. There is no way out except the liquidation of Stalinism. One must have confidence in the working class, one must give the proletarian vanguard the possibility by means of free criticism, to reexamine from top to bottom the whole Soviet system, to pitilessly purify it of all the accumulated rubbish. One must, finally, carry out the last urgent advice of Lenin: remove Stalin. (Bulletin of the Opposition, No.29, March 1932)


Now we understand why Vyshinsky does not quote the document [47] which was so important for laying the foundations of “terror”! If Vyshinsky had quoted the whole sentence, the sensation would have been even greater. Not only does Trotsky call for removing – “assassinating” – Stalin, but what’s more he quotes Lenin!

It thus turns out that the one who laid the foundations of terrorism and who was the first terrorist, was Lenin, and not Trotsky.

The “last urgent advice of Lenin,” is his famous Testament. Let us recall what Lenin wrote in it:

Comrade Stalin, having become General Secretary, has concentrated in his hands an immense power and I am not convinced that he always knows how to use it with sufficient caution.

Stalin is too rude and this fault, entirely tolerable in our midst and in relations between us communists becomes intolerable in the position of General Secretary. This is why I propose to the comrades that they reflect on ways of removing Stalin from this post and naming in his place a man who, in all respects, will distinguish himself from Cde. Stalin in only one way, that is, one who would be more patient, more loyal, more polite and more attentive toward his comrades, less capricious, etc. This circumstance may seem an insignificant trifle, but I think that from the point of view of preventing a split, and from the point of view of what I have written above about the mutual relations between Stalin and Trotsky, it is not a trifle, or else it is trifle which can acquire decisive importance. January 4, 1923 [48]


To remove Stalin – or more crudely put: kick him out – from the post of General Secretary, that is what Lenin proposed in his Testament. Here are the sources of “terrorism,” which Vyshinsky so wisely doesn’t mention!

Since its formation, the Left Opposition has demanded the fulfillment of Lenin’s Testament in hundreds of articles, documents, tracts, in its platform, in the articles of the Bulletin of the Opposition and, finally, in Trotsky’s Open Letter to the Central Executive Committee (on the occasion of one of Stalin’s more minor and preparatory amalgams – depriving Trotsky of his Soviet citizenship). And this letter was written four and a half years ago. Why didn’t Stalin dare to attribute terrorist intentions to Trotsky then? Because Stalin needed time to prepare the ground for his poisonous slanders.

Remove (kick out!) Stalin meant, according to Lenin’s thinking, to take away the immense power that he had concentrated in his hands since becoming head of the apparatus. That meant depriving him of the possibility of abusing this power.

When Lenin was writing his Testament, he was far from being able to imagine just how far Stalin’s abuse of power would go. Yes, if Lenin were alive, he would not only be in prison (“Lenin was only saved from prison by his death,” said Krupskaya in 1926), but he would have been declared the first and foremost terrorist!

Such is Stalin’s belated revenge – thirteen years later – for Lenin’s Testament, Stalin’s revenge against Lenin. It took the gravedigger of the revolution, Stalin, thirteen years to crush Bolshevism and to turn the greatest of all revolutions into the corrupt Bonapartist regime which now rules in the USSR.


Footnotes

[45] This emerges especially clearly in Ter-Vaganian’s testimony. (L.S.)

[46] Although the “Letter” was published, Sedov is supposed to have shown Olberg a “typewritten” copy. Olberg needed this story to give the thing a mysterious and conspiratorial character. What pathetic nourishes! (L.S.)

[47] It seems that only Kerensky swallowed this bait: “One document – he says – in any case exists – and of no small significance. Vyshinsky uttered (0!) one sentence which no one (no one, with the exception, it goes without saying, of Kerensky) noticed.” Then follows the above mentioned quotation from Vyshinky’s speech. (L.S.)

[48] The September 1936 issue of The Bolshevik, organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, reports Lenin’s Testament in the following words: “Stalin, whom the dying Lenin put at the head of the party!” (L.S.)

 

THE ATTEMPTS WHICH DID NOT TAKE PLACE



Besides general conversations about terror, the transmission of “instructions”, all sorts of “terrorist” conceptions, etc., a few concrete attacks are nevertheless mentioned. Let us take them one by one.

1.The Berman-Yurin—Fritz David Team
The Attack on Stalin


Having arrived in Moscow in March 1933, [49] Berman-Yurin and Fritz David decided to organize an attempt on Stalin at the XIIIth Plenum of the Comintern in December 1933. According to Berman-Yurin “the plan fell through,” because Fritz David had not been able to get a pass for Berman-Yurin “who was supposed to fire at Stalin.” Fritz David gives another version: “These projects failed because Stalin did not attend the XIIIth Plenum.” This is a bit like the story of the borrowed pot. First, he says, I returned the pot to him intact, second, it was already cracked, third, I didn’t borrow anything from him at all. The third part seems to be missing here, but in fact it is here too. There was no pass, there was no Stalin and ... there was no attempt to organize an attack.

But Fritz David and Berman-Yurin were not depressed by this failure. In fact, “they had already elaborated two concrete (!) plans for attacks on Stalin.” There remained the second plan: to carry out an attack on Stalin at the VIIth Congress of the Comintern.

Without a doubt, this plan was brilliant; furthermore it corresponded to Trotsky’s “directives,” which were not simply to kill Stalin, but to do it without fail to the accompaniment of music and ovations, “before an international forum,” according to the statement made by Berman-Yurin. But from our Point of view, this plan still contained a serious drawback. The last previous Congress of the Comintern (the VIth) was held in 1928. From 1928 to 1933, more than five years had already passed, and there was absolutely no mention of a new congress. Violating the statutes of the Comintern, Stalin pushed it back from year to year, with the intention, if possible, of never convening it again. In the propaganda of the Left Opposition abroad during those years, the question of the failure to convene the Congress of the Comintern played a great role. Here is what Trotsky wrote, for example, in December 1934 (one can find dozens of similar quotations): “The ruling Stalinist group, basically, has long since waved good-bye to the Comintern. One of the most obvious proofs of this is Stalin’s refusal to convene an International Congress.” (Bulletin of the Opposition, No. 41)

Berman-Yurin and Fritz David were sent by Trotsky, by the same Trotsky who thought that the Congress would not be convened, and at the same time, as Berman-Yurin testifies, who proposed to the latter “to organize an attack at the Congress.” And so, instead of acting, our “terrorists” wait ... for the Congress. They wait one year, they wait two years, and finally two and a half years later, their patience is rewarded. After a break of seven years, from 1928 to 1935, the VIIth Congress is at last convened. One may retort: perhaps they waited a long time, but on the other hand they had prepared the attack well and “elaborated a concrete plan.” Let the court record speak: “At the Congress of the Comintern, only Fritz David was able to get in, since they could not obtain a pass for Berman-Yurin. Fritz David, according to his own words, was not able to carry out his terrorist act because it was impossible for him to get close to Stalin ... He, Fritz David, sat in the loge, there were too many people in the loge and shooting was out of the question.”

Obviously Fritz David had thought that he would be seated at the Praesidium and “there would not be many people” ... at the Congress.

Thus the story ends. But how, one asks, did the GPU learn of all that? Or did these “terrorists” go to the GPU on their own and tell them about their failures? And if they had not made that mistake, they would very probably not only be alive and well today, they would have prepared, no less successfully, a new attack on Stalin, scheduled to take place, let us say, at the VIIIth Congress of the Comintern (1940? 1945?).

And this is the only “concrete” attempt at an attack on Stalin! Furthermore it seems that the court itself did not take this GPU story very seriously, since it does not even mention it in its verdict.

2. The Terrorist Olberg Attacks Stalin



Just like Berman-Yurin and Fritz David, Olberg “received instructions” from Trotsky concerning terrorist activity. Trotsky had never laid eyes on Olberg any more than he had Berman-Yurin and Fritz David (although in contrast to the other two, he had heard of him, it is true, only in a negative vein (see page 33).

Olberg made three trips to the USSR. After receiving “terrorist instructions” in 1932, he left at the end of March (!) 1933 for the Soviet Union and stayed there until July 1933; he “hid,” for some reason, for a month and a half in Moscow, then he left for Stalinbad, where he settled down as a history teacher. Stalinbad, which is some distance from Moscow, and therefore also from all the top leaders, some 4000 km. at least, was evidently chosen by Olberg as the most favorable location for his terrorist activity. But soon Olberg had to return to Prague, because “his military papers were not in order.” Olberg went to the USSR for the second time in March 1935, but he only spent several days there, since he had a tourist visa. In July 1935, Olberg went to the USSR for the third time. Olberg had made his last two trips with the famous passport from the Republic of Honduras (the only material proof officially mentioned in the case). “After spending a short time in Minsk, [Olberg] left for Corky, linked up with Yelin and Fedotov, and obtained work at the Gorky Pedagogical Institute where he remained until the day of his arrest.”

In reading this unbelievable story, one might think there was no GPU in the USSR! Vyshinsky shows great curiosity toward Olberg’s Honduras passport: weren’t his parents in Honduras, or perhaps his grandmother? One wonders why the GPU had not shown the same interest at the time of Olberg’s trips! Whoever has any understanding of the conditions under which visas are given for the USSR and the strict manner in which the GPU watches even the “respectable” foreigners who arrive, will see how unbelievable this story is. A man arrives (and not for the first time) with an exotic and unreliable passport from the Republic of Honduras, does not speak a word of the American languages, but speaks ... Russian. It is hard to imagine a more suspicious foreigner. Nevertheless, Olberg not only enters the USSR unhindered, leaves and enters the USSR again, but he even obtains an official teaching position at a State Pedagogical Institute! Let us state as categorically as possible: Olberg was able to receive a visa for the USSR, to go there and obtain work only with the assistance of the Soviet authorities, the GPU included.

But let us return to the “terrorist” activity of Olberg. Three years — from 1932 to 1935—went by without our hearing a word of this activity. But having arrived in Gorky in July 1935, “Olberg learned from Fedotov that terrorist combat groups had been organized before his arrival. Olberg simply had to elaborate the actual plan of the attack.”

Let us note that neither Yelin nor Fedotov (who is none other than the director of the pedagogical Institute where Olberg taught!) was called to trial, neither as accused nor as a witness. Let us also note that if terrorist “combat groups” organized by Fedotov had really existed in Gorky, then it is simply incomprehensible why Fedotov needed Olberg. A young man, with neither kith nor kin, having no notion of terrorist activity or of conspiratorial activity in general, must lead — “elaborate a plan!”—a terrorist organization already started by much more experienced people. But what exactly did this notorious plan consist of? “The terrorist act was to be carried out on May 1, 1936, in Moscow”; this is all that we learn from the court records. By whom? Where? How? Not a word about any of that. “What prevented this plan from being carried out?” asks Vyshinsky. “The arrest,” answers Olberg.

Such is the story of this “attack.” This, furthermore, does not prevent a venal scribbler from Pravda, (L. Rovinsky, August 22) from informing us that “Olberg’s terrorist and spy activity was coming to a head ...” Not only was he “organizing terrorist espionage groups,” but he was even “teaching the terrorists marksmanship and bomb throwing.” In the court transcripts there was never any question of marksmanship or throwing bombs. We doubt very much that the student of political science, V. Olberg, had ever seen a bomb, except for the “bomb” which Stalin prepared for him.

3. The Attack by Lurie No.1 and Lurie No.2 on Voroshilov in particular and on Others “in General”



N. Lurie confirms that he had engaged in Trotskyist activity since 1927, that is, for about nine years. Unfortunately, no one knew anything about it. No Trotskyist from any country, either in 1927, or later, ever met N. Lurie. In all our attempts get information about N. Lurie, we received the same answer from everyone: unknown. Unfortunately, the GPU is not among our correspondents. It could certainly give interesting information and tell us, in particular, when, in 1927 or any other year, N. Lurie’s “activity” began.

N. Lurie describes the beginning of this terrorist activity in the following way: “In the early part of 1932 Moishe Lurie told me that it was time [!] to leave for the USSR and to carry out terrorist work there.”

This free and easy tone is admirable in itself! We have played billiards long enough, “It is time” to eat dinner ..., that is, to take up “terrorism.” In Moscow, Lurie met with a certain Konstant and a certain Lipshitz, whom he calls “German Trotskyists,” but who, once again, are strangers to any true Trotskyist. (Let it be said in passing, that neither Konstant, nor Lipshitz are brought to trial or summoned as witnesses. That is the custom at this “model” trial!)

Lurie told Konstant about the “terrorist directives.” In the same carefree tone, Konstant answers Lurie “that this is nothing new to him.” (He undoubtedly knew about “this” since childhood.)

In August 1932, the N. Lurie group receives from a certain Franz Weiss (a fascist secret agent, according to the court transcript) the assignment to carry out an attack on Voroshilov. At the time of the preliminary investigation, N. Lurie declared that the preparation of this attack (in Moscow) had lasted “from the fall of 1932 to the end of 1933.” But at the interrogation the same Lurie indicated that already in July 1933 he left for Cheliabinsk. If N. Lurie moved in July 1933 to Cheliabinsk, one wonders how he could have been preparing an attack in Moscow until the end of 1933. Probably in order to “liquidate this hitch,” at the trial, N. Lurie gives a new version: “We were occupied with it [with the preparation of the attack against Voroshilov] from September 1932 until the spring of 1933.”

Until the spring or until the end of 1933?! The court naturally passes over this contradiction in silence.

But what did the actual preparation of the attack consist of? The troika—N. Lurie, Konstant, Lipshitz—which, for reasons unknown, is represented at the trial only by Lurie, watched when Voroshilov would leave, but the car “went too fast. It is hopeless to fire at a swiftly moving car,” (the testimony of N. Lurie). Having convinced themselves that the car was travelling too fast, these unfortunate terrorists ceased any further surveillance of Voroshilov’s departures. When the trial chairman asks them what they did next, N. Lurie replies that they directed their attention toward the acquisition of explosives in order to accomplish the terrorist act by means of a bomb. The court makes no attempt to bring to light whether they procured any explosives, where, how, whether a bomb was made, etc. With this, the case is closed. In July 1933, N. Lurie leaves for Cheliabinsk to work as a physician. But even in faraway “Cheliabinsk Lurie didn’t halt his terrorist activity.” He waits, don’t you see, for some leader, Kaganovich or Ordzhonikidze, to come to Cheliabinsk. But neither Kaganovich nor Ordzhonikidze, as if on purpose, comes to Cheliabinsk; in any case, N. Lurie does not meet any of them there and does not commit, of course, any attack.[50]

This does not prevent Moishe Lurie from pointing out “how he organized [!] the attack on Comrade Ordzhonikidze ... To this end, M. Lurie proposed that N. Lurie, who was leaving for the tractor factory in Cheliabinsk, use the eventual arrival of Ordzhonikidze at the factory for the realization of the terrorist act!”

N. Lurie remains two and a half years in Cheliabinsk fruitlessly awaiting Ordzhonikidze or Kaganovich. But as the proverb says, if the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain. N. Lurie leaves for Leningrad. Passing through Moscow, Moishe Lurie orders him in January 1936 to “shoot Zhdanov during the May 1st demonstration in Leningrad.” (Why it was necessary to assassinate Zhdonov, is impossible to figure out.) During the May 1st demonstration, N. Lurie marches in the column of demonstrators, but does not try to shoot. When the trial chairman asks him why, he answers: “We passed too far away.” And this rubbish is served up at the trial as attacks!

4. One More Attack on Voroshilov



During the trial, there is mentioned the preparation of one more terrorist act against Voroshilov, which supposedly was to be carried out by two important soldiers, both famous heroes of the Civil War: D. Schmidt and Kuzmichev. Obviously, no proof is introduced. Neither Schmidt, nor Kuzmichev, nor any other soldier accused of terrorist activity—Putna, Esterman, Gaevsky—was brought to trial. Three defendants do mention the “terrorist” activity of Schmidt-Kuzmichev. Reingold testifies that “he learned from Mrachkovsky and Dreitzer that in the summer of 1933 there was organized ... a Trotskyist military group consisting of Schmidt, commander of one of the Red Army brigades, Kuzmichev, staff commander of one of the military units, and a number [!] of others.” Mrachkovsky testifies that things took place a year later. “In the middle of 1934, Dreitzer reported to me that he was simultaneously preparing Voroshilov’s assassination, for which Schmidt Dmitrii would have to be prepared ...” Dreitzer himself testified during the prosecutor’s cross-examination that, “I enlisted the services of Esterman and Gaevsky for the terrorist act, and added Schmidt and Kuzmichev in 1935. The latter ones took up the task of killing Voroshilov.”

Thus all three testimonies (and there is no other testimony about this matter) radically contradict one another: 1933, 1931, 1936—they therefore have to be discarded as crude lies.[51]



During the trial, other attempted attacks are also mentioned; but these last have not even a shadow of proof. Thus, for example, Zinoviev testifies that “he knew about two attempts on Stalin’s life in which Reingold, Dreitzer and Pikel took part.” Neither Dreitzer nor Reingold mentions these “attempts.” Pikel testifies “that in the autumn of 1933 Bogdan had made a new [?] attempt at an attack on Stalin’s life.” He also testifies “about the preparation of a terrorist act against Stalin in 1934”; while his participation “was limited to having put Bakaev in touch with Radin” (the latter is also not brought to trial). Bakaev also makes it known that “in October 1934, under the leadership of Kamenev, Evdokimov and himself (Bakaev), an attack against Stalin was prepared in Moscow ... This attack did not succeed.” And that is all.

The court accepts all these declarations indifferently, does not at all try to clarify the circumstances, the character, the time, the place, etc. of these “attacks.” The absence of any facts about these attacks does not permit us to examine them in greater detail.

Let us note in conclusion that the verdict says: “the Trotskyist-Zinovievist Unified Center prepared a series of terrorist groups and a series of terrorist acts against Comrades Stalin, Voroshilov, Kaganovich, Kirov, Ordzhonikidze, Zhdanov Kossior, Postyshev and others.” [52]

We have tried above to assiduously select and systematically examine all the facts about the attacks which are scattered throughout the court transcripts. If one considers N. Lurie’s trip to Cheliabinsk an “attack on Ordzhonikidze and Kaganovich” and his trip to Leningrad an “attack on Zhdanov,” then there still remain nonetheless “Postyshev, Kossior and others ...” In the whole trial not one word is said about attacks against them. This does not prevent the court from placing the following paragraph in the verdict: “The court investigation has also established that the Trotskyist-Zinovievist terrorist center ... prepared terrorist acts against comrades Kossior and Postyshev, through a Ukrainian terrorist group which acted under the leadership of the Trotskyist Mukhin.”

The Ukrainian terrorist group and the very name of its leader Mukhin are mentioned at the trial for the first time in the verdict! The story of Mukhin and his group was obviously improvised at the last moment so that Postyshev and Kossior would not be offended.



Let us draw up the balance sheet on the basis of the trial evidence itself. There was not a single attack, there was not even a single attempt at an attach. The prosecutor Vyshinsky nonetheless considers that “the guilt is so clearly established that he can free himself from the obligation to analyze the materials gathered by the court investigation.” He even adds: “What is essential in this trial, is that they (the accused) transformed their counter-revolutionary thoughts into counter-revolutionary deeds, their counter-revolutionary theory into terrorist practice: not only do they talk of shooting, but they shoot; they shoot and they kill!”

So they shoot?! At the trial it was not, in any case, mentioned that any of the defendants had fired a shot. There were “instructions,” “conversations,” “preparations,” “attempts,” “people were picked out,” now the terrorist activity was “speeded up,” now it was “halted,” — there was all that in words, but not a shot was fired. Not one attack, not one real attempt at an attack was established in court. Sometimes it turned out, as if on purpose, that it was too far to shoot, or that the terrorist marched by too far away, or that the car was moving too fast, or that the terrorist happened to be in Stalinblad or Cheliabinsk, while Stalin, as if by chance, was in Moscow.

Nonetheless, these “terrorists” were placed in exceptionally favorable conditions. The usual difficulties of terrorists—belonging to different social layers ... or lacking information about the targets, or being unable to penetrate into their milieu—here all this was completely absent.

After breaking from the Opposition, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Smirnov, Mrachkovsky, Bakaev and others moved in the circles of the apparatus. They were well received at the Kremlin, in all the institutions, some even in Stalin’s secretariat. Mrachkovsky, for example, was given a personal reception by Stalin; [53] it would not have taken much for him to discharge his revolver into Stalin. The terrorist opportunities of the majority of those shot, famous Bolsheviks, were almost unlimited. In addition, they were helped from abroad by Trotsky, and in the USSR, by dozens, if not hundreds, of people; they got support from an organization as powerful as the Gestapo! And the results? Zero! Zero! If there were no assassinations, it is only because none of the people who were shot or mentioned in the case had prepared any assassinations, none of them had had the idea of searching along the road of terror for a way out from the Stalinist dead end.

Without Kirov’s assassination, Stalin would never have decided to start circulating all these wild lies about “terror.” This is why he artificially combined reality—Kirov’s assassination by Nikolaev, an assassination with which none of the defendants in the trial had any connection—with all the other inventions, This artificial concoction is the content of the central police combination of the Moscow trial. The reality of Kirov’s assassination was to give the appearance of reality to other attacks—which did not take place.


Footnotes

[49] It is highly characteristic that all the terrorists “sent” by Trotsky, i.e., Berman-Yurin, Fritz David, Moishe Lurie and others, all left for the USSR in March, 1933. Is this not explained by the fact that they were in reality “sent” to the USSR, not by Trotsky, but by Hitler, who had just taken power in Germany with the help of Stalin and all his Berman-Yurins? While the German revolutionary workers were dispatched to concentration camps, the Stalinist functionaries, including Berman-Yurin, Fritz David and all the others, left for Moscow. (L.S.)

[50] Nevertheless the verdict says that “N. Lurie tried (?) to carry out an attack on the life of Cdes. Kaganovich and Ordkzonikidze.” The same Nathan Lurie is accused in the verdict of preparing an attack on Stalin as well. In the court transcripts regarding the attack of N. Lurie on Stalin there is not one word! (L.S.)

[51] The presiding judge makes no attempt in the course of the trial to clear up the contradictions, to bring to trial the people mentioned in this case, etc. But he suddenly shows a great interest in the exact type of revolver N. Lurie had: a Browning? what kind! medium caliber? What pathetic play-acting! (L.S.)

[52] We will lay aside one, completely anecdotal incident. “The terrorist” Yakovlev, who, along with Safonova were the sole witnesses at the trial (why witnesses and not defendants is inexplicabe), testified that Kamenev ordered him to organize a terrorist group ... at the Academy of Sciences. (L.S.)

[53] Safonova testified about this reception, saying that “Mrachkovsky told us (Safonova and I.N. Smirnov) about the conversation with Stalin ... and said that the only answer was to kill Stalin.” If all of this is not made up from beginning to end (I.N. Smirnov flatly denied the Safonova story), then probably this is what happened: upon returning from the reception with Stalin, Mrachkovsky was greatly disappointed — there is nothing surprising about that—and sharply attacked Stalin. Hence Safonova, freely moving back the date, “laid the basis” for the terror charges. Of course, this is only a hypothesis. (L.S.)


COPENHAGEN



Copenhagen plays a major role at the trial. It’s there that Trotsky’s “meetings” with the terrorists are supposed to have taken place, from there supposedly came Trotsky’s “instructions” for terror. The Trotskyists would have turned the peaceful capital of Denmark, if one believes the court transcripts, into a sort of foreign “terrorist center.” This question therefore requires a detailed examination.

In the fall of 1932, the Danish Social-Democratic Student Organization invited Comrade Trotsky to give a lecture in Copenhagen on the Russian Revolution. Judging it difficult, it seems, to refuse the students, the Danish government gave L. Trotsky a visa for Denmark, good for eight days. Having left Istanbul on November 14, 1932, L. Trotsky (after a circuitous journey through France) arrived in Denmark on November 23. Trotsky stayed in Copenhagen for eight days; he left this city on the morning of December 2, in order to return to Istanbul, once again by way of France.

The formal charges and the verdict say that Trotsky carried out terrorist activities for about five years (from 1931 to 1936). During these five years Trotsky spent a total of eight days in Copenhagen. But, by some strange coincidence all the “terrorists” who supposedly met with Trotsky (Holtzman, Berman-Yurin, Fritz David) chose — completely independently of each other!—precisely Copenhagen as the location for their meeting with Trotsky, during the very same week, from November 23 to December 2, 1932. No other meeting in any other city was mentioned during the trial.

Only one week of “terrorist” activity during five years! This fact alone has to evoke disbelief. The explanation is simple. Copenhagen was chosen by the GPU investigators for reasons of personal convenience. The city is close to Berlin, it’s easy to go there, and above all, the exact dates and circumstances of Trotsky’s stay in Copenhagen were in all the papers. That gave the GPU investigators the necessary “material.” Meetings in Istanbul or in the secluded villages of France, where Trotsky lived during those years, were an exercise which was really too dangerous for the GPU. The lack of “material” added to the risk of failure.

Having chosen Copenhagen, the GPU sent not only the “terrorists” Holtzman, Berman-Yurin, and Fritz David, but also Sedov. Here is Holtzman’s account of his trip to Copenhagen:


Sedov told me ... that it would be good if you came with me to Copenhagen [to see Trotsky] ... I agreed, but I told him that it would be impossible to travel together out of considerations of secrecy. I arranged with Sedov that I would arrive in Copenhagen in two or three days; that I would stop at the Hotel Bristol and that we would meet there. From the station I went straight to the hotel where I met Sedov in the foyer. [54]


We are greatly won over by this account with all its factual evidence which so rarely appears at this trial. In particular, it even names the Hotel Bristol where Holtzman and Sedov supposedly met in the foyer. The only trouble is that there is no Hotel Bristol in Copenhagen. Such a hotel did exist but it was closed in 1917 and the building itself was destroyed. [55]

Perhaps Holtzman or one of his investigators had gone to Copenhagen before the Revolution and had stayed at the Hotel Bristol. Perhaps the investigators simply decided that there is no major city in Europe without a Hotel Bristol. Everything is possible ... But the incompetent and lazy investigators would have done better to take the trouble to first make the necessary inquiry. Now there’s some “sabotage” for you! And after this. what else remains of the testimony, so rich in detail, given by Holtzman, the most important witness for the prosecution? Doesn’t this fact alone shed a bright light on the whole trial?

Sedov’s Trip to Copenhagen

But that’s not all. As we have seen, they forced Holtzman to say that he didn’t go to Copenhagen alone,—that by agreement with him, Sedov also went to Copenhagen. In describing the conditions of his conversation with Trotsky, Holtzman gives us interesting new details: “very frequently Trotsky’s son Sedov would enter the room and then leave it.” A new act of sabotage! Never in his life was Sedov in Copenhagen. This sounds unbelievable, but nevertheless it’s true. In order for Sedov to be able to travel to Copenhagen from Berlin, his home at that time, he had to obtain a visa from the Berlin Police Headquarters to leave and re-enter Germany (a so-called “Sichtvermerk”). The obtaining of such a visa ordinarily brings with it great difficulties for a Heimatloser (stateless person).

When it became clear that L.D. Trotsky would go to Copenhagen, Sedov immediately began efforts—through his lawyer, the late Oscar Cohn — to obtain permission to leave and return to Germany, hoping after this, to obtain a visa to Denmark without any difficulty. Since it was originally supposed that Trotsky’s visa to Denmark would be extended a few weeks for medical treatment, the delay at the Berlin Police Headquarters at first did not worry Sedov or his parents. It was quite unexpected when, after the eight days had gone by, the Danish government in a very sharp manner ordered Trotsky to leave Danish soil. By now Sedov had no possibility of meeting with his parents in Copenhagen. A last attempt was made to see each other, even though it would only be for the short time which Trotsky had to spend in France on his way from Copenhagen to Istanbul (Dunkirk—Marseilles via Paris). N.I. Trotsky sent a detailed telegram to Edouard Herriot, the French prime minister at that time, asking him to give her son, Sedov, permission to travel in France for a few days in order to meet with him·after being separated for several years. This telegram can undoubtedly be found in the archives of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Sedov, on his part, with the help of Oscar Cohn, managed finally to obtain permission from the Berlin Police Headquarters for the return trip to Germany, without which he could not have received a French visa. On December 3 [56] , 1932, Sedov received the necessary permission from the German Police and on the same day the French consulate in Berlin received a telegram with instructions to give Sedov a French visa for five days. On the morning of December 4, Sedov left for Paris and arrived in the evening; at 10 AM on December 6 he met with Trotsky in Paris, at the Gare du Nord, in a railroad car. His father was travelling from Dunkirk to Marseilles without stopping in Paris.

Everything said above on be verified by certain documents: 1) Sedov’s passport with the corresponding visas and stamps for going both ways across the Franco-German border; 2) Natalia Trotsky’s telegram to Herriot, asking him to give a visa to her son, whom she was unable to see in Copenhagen; 3) a certificate from the Danish authorities stating that Sedov never asked for and never received a Danish visa. But, they can say,—perhaps Sedov travelled to Denmark “illegally”? Let us assume so. But why then, we must ask, was Sedov—after meeting with his parents illegally in Copenhagen, travelling a few days later to another meeting with them in France, a trip which was accompanied by such difficulties and trouble (a telegram to Herriot, etc.)?

But we have at our disposal irrefutable proof that while Trotsky was staying in Copenhagen, Sedov remained in Berlin without interruption:

1. Over the course of these eight days Trotsky or his wife talked with Sedov on the phone every day, sometimes twice a day, by calling Sedov’s Berlin apartment from Copenhagen. This can—and will be established by the central telephone office in Copenhagen.

2. Since Trotsky’s journey from Istanbul to Copenhagen brought on the burning hatred of world reaction, a number of Trotsky’s friends and co-thinkers set out hurriedly for Copenhagen. There were more than 20 people. All of them will swear under oath that L. Sedov was never in Copenhagen. Let us allow ourselves to take up one of these statements. Its author is E. Bauer, whom we have already quoted, now in the leadership of the SAP (Socialist Workers Party of Germany), formerly a member of the German Left Opposition. In September 1934, following serious political disagreements, E. Bauer broke with the organization of the Bolshevik-Leninists; this split was accompanied by very sharp polemics. Since then, E. Bauer has had no connection, either political or personal, with the membership of the Trotskyist organization. “This is why” as he writes in his deposition, “there can be no question in my case of any partiality toward the Trotskyists.” Then he writes: “From the first day of Trotsky’ s stay in Copenhagen, I spoke daily with Sedov in Berlin either directly or by telephone, since I was preparing to travel to Copenhagen. On the evening of December 1, 1932, I left for Copenhagen. Sedov accompanied me to the station and ... remained in Berlin. On the morning of December 2, we [Bauer and another person] arrived in Copenhagen ... and two hours later, between 10 and 11 o’clock in the morning, I was leaving Copenhagen by car with Trotsky and his wife; Sedov was not with us, since his trip had been impossible for technical reasons.”

We have at our disposal ten similar depositions and we will have still more. We are ready to submit all this material immediately to a responsible commission or a tribunal which would undertake an investigation of this case.

That’s how things stand with the testimony of the chief witness Holtzman who was, in spite of everything, an old Bolshevik. After this, is it necessary to dwell on the statements of scoundrels and Stalinist agents such as Berman-Yurin and Fritz David? Neither Trotsky nor Sedov — we repeat once more—had ever laid eyes on these people, whether in Copenhagen or elsewhere; they learned of their existence for the first time through the reports from the Moscow trial.



We have already noted above that at the time of Trotsky’s stay in Copenhagen, several dozen friends and comrades were also there. Fearing possible incidents, these comrades organized a very serious guard around Trotsky. It was impossible to enter L. Trotsky’s study without first passing through another room, where there were always four or five comrades. Access to the small villa occupied by Trotsky in Copenhagen was only allowed to a few close friends. [57] Neither Berman-Yurin, nor Fritz David, nor anyone else could have reached Trotsky unless comrades on guard in the front room knew about it.



By the preliminary, yet absolutely precise, investigations carried out by the comrades who were in Copenhagen, it has been possible to establish that Trotsky received only one Russian-speaking person in Copenhagen. This is a certain Abraham Senin (Sobolevich), who was then a Lithuanian citizen and a member of the Berlin organization of the Opposition. He came to see Cde. Trotsky on the last day of his stay in Copenhagen (at the same time as E. Bauer) and spoke no more than one hour with Trotsky, under conditions of extreme haste before the sudden departure. Senin’s trip to Copenhagen was made at the insistence of some of Trotsky’s Berlin friends; they had wanted to make a last effort to save Senin from capitulation to the Stalinists, to whom he was drawing nearer and nearer. The attempt was not crowned with success; a few weeks later, Senin, with three or four friends, went over to the Stalinists. This event was reported in both the Stalinist and Oppositionist press. By the very character of L.D. Trotsky’s meeting with the semi-capitulator Senin, it is quite obvious that Trotsky could not have maintained any confidence in Senin and could no longer look upon him as a cothinker.



In conclusion, we must once more turn our attention toward part of the testimony given by Olberg which deals with Copenhagen. “It was my intention” says Olberg “to go to Copenhagen with Sedov to see Trotsky. Our trip did not succeed and it was Sedov’s wife, Suzanne, who left for Copenhagen. Upon her return, she brought a letter [58] from Trotsky addressed to Sedov, in which Trotsky agreed to my trip to the USSR, etc.” This must be noted above all: in affirming that his trip to Copenhagen with Sedov did not take place. Olberg contradicts Holtzman. Because if one were to admit that Sedov went to Copenhagen without Olberg, why then would Trotsky have given a letter for Sedov to his companion, as Olberg contends?


No one, of course, has to know the name of Sedov’s wife, but Olberg, who claims to be on intimate terms with Sedov (“we [Sedov and I] met almost weekly, and sometimes we met twice a week in a cafe ... or I visited him at his apartment,” testifies Olberg), should have known that Sedov’s wife is not named Suzanne. Furthermore, Olberg, as we have just seen, affirms that this same Suzanne “upon her return [from Copenhagen to Berlin] brought a letter from Trotsky.” Sedov’s wife really was in Copenhagen, [59] but she left there not for Berlin, but directly for Paris, where she remained for a rather long time. This fact can be established with absolute precision on the basis of the passport belonging to Sedov’s wife. It is completely obvious that Trotsky could not give Sedov’s wife, who was leaving for Paris, a letter for Sedov who was in Berlin, But, one might object once again, perhaps Sedov’s wife nevertheless went “illegally” to Berlin. “Illegal trips” are not romanticism, they are a sad necessity for those who do not have papers. But why would a person who has a good legal passport for travelling in every country, the majority of which do not even require her to have a visa, travel illegally? This is simply not serious!



There we have the “foreign terrorist center” of Copenhagen, the only European city mentioned in the trial. The baseness of it aside, what poverty of invention! What a pitiful and hopeless failure!


Footnotes

[54] It must be noted that Holtzman was a Soviet citizen and as such, getting a visa for any country, including Demark, was fraught with nearly insurmountable difficulties, if the request was not backed by the Soviet Embassy, and it goes without saying that in this case there can be no talk of the embassy’s support. Thus Holtzman could only go to Copenhagen illegally. It is strange that the court was not interested in these circumstances and did not explain what papers Holtzman used to go to Denmark, where he got these papers, etc. (L.S.)

[55] For further details, see the Sozial Demokraten of Copenhagen on September 1, 1936; also Baedeker.

The work of falsification went full speed ahead even after the trial. In the English language edition of the court transcripts, which appeared somewhat later than the others, the Hotel Bristol is not even mentioned! (L.S.)

[56] Trotsky left Copenhagen, as we already said, on December 2. (L.S.)

[57] We take this opportunity to correct an imprecision which slipped into the Russian edition of this work. It was said in this passage that some journalists had visited Trotsky in this villa. This was incorrect and was immediately rectified by comrades present in Copenhagen. In reality, no journalist any more than anyone else, outside of the immediate friends who stood guard, was able to enter the villa. (L.S.)

[58] The contents of the “letter” by Trotsky about Olberg, with whom the reader is already sufficiently familiar are very amusing. In order to puff himself up, it seems, Olberg declares that in this letter Trotsky was in “full agreement” with Olberg’s candidacy for the trip to the USSR. Trotsky considered Olberg “an absolutely (!!) appropriate (??) man in whom one could have complete confidence (!!)” The whole letter is nothing but a dithyramb to Olberg! (L.S.)

[59] The GPU could have obtained information about this in its own manner, for example, by way of the above-mentioned Senin, who later was to play a somewhat suspicious role. (L.S.) See also note 73.

 

TROTSKY’S “CONTACT” WITH THE DEFENDANTS



The trial considered that it established the following contacts of Trotsky with the defendants:

1. With Smirnov and Holtzman, through Sedov. With Holtzman directly, in Copenhagen;
2. With Dreitzer, through Sedov and through direct written contact;
3. With Berman-Yurin and Fritz David;
4. With Olberg, through Sedov;
5. With M. Lurie, through Ruth Fischer-Maslow.

To help the reader orient himself on this question, we provide a diagram of these contacts, p. 93. The diagram is drawn, of course, on the basis of the facts given at the trial, and not according to reality.


Smirnov and Holtzman


On August 5, 1936, that is, a few days before the beginning of the trial, I.N. Smirnov was broken. Having resisted until then—Vyshinsky tells us that Smirnov’s interrogation consists of “only these words: I deny this, I still deny it, I deny,”—even Smirnov took the path of false confessions. Describing his meeting with Sedov in Berlin, he says: “In the course of our conversation, L. Sedov, while analyzing the situation in the Soviet Union, stated his personal opinion that under present conditions only the violent elimination of the leaders of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) and the Soviet government could bring about a change in the general situation in the country.” But this false testimony was not enough for Stalin. He demanded more “precise” formulations. Another week passes, a week of terrible moral suffering, and on August 13, the day before the prosecutor signed the indictment, Smirnov finally yielded: “I confess that I knew after the conversation with Sedov in 1931 in Berlin, that the directives for terror as the only means capable of changing the situation in the Soviet Union, were his personal directives. [60]

In all this, obviously there is not one word of truth. The only truth is that in July 1931, Sedov met I.N. Smirnov [61] completely by chance, in a large department store in Berlin, the “KDV.” I.N. Smirnov had known Sedov intimately for many years. After a second of confusion, I.N. Smirnov agreed to meet with him and have a talk. The meeting took place. During the conversation, it turned out that I.N. Smirnov had already been in Berlin for a long time, but he had made no attempt to establish any ties with the Opposition and would not have made any attempt, if not for this chance encounter in the department store KDV. This fact is indirectly confirmed even by the court transcripts, according to which I.N. Smirnov arrived in Berlin in May 1931. But the meeting of Sedov and Smirnov didn’t take place until July. (If Smirnov, as the prosecution wishes us to believe, had come to Berlin with the specific aim of contacting Trotsky, one cannot understand why, having arrived in May, he would have waited, that is, lost, two months).

First the two speakers exchanged information. During the conversation, I.N. Smirnov, without speaking directly on the question of his break with the Opposition, insisted that between L. Trotsky and himself, there was the following disagreement: He, Smirnov, did not share Trotsky’s point of view about the necessity of conducting political work in the USSR. With this, Smirnov wanted in some way to explain and justify his break with the Opposition. Smirnov thought that the present conditions in the USSR did not allow any oppositional work to be carried out and that, in any case, it was necessary to wait until these conditions changed. A characteristic trait: in speaking of the Opposition, Smirnov said you, not we, your point of view, your comrades, etc. Without there having been any suggestion by Sedov, Smirnov categorically declared that he did not want and would not enter into any relationship with the Bolshevik-Leninists in the USSR. This is not the place to polemicize with Smirnov’s point of view, but how far all this is from “terrorism” and the “representative” [62] of Trotsky in the USSR! On the political questions, the speakers established that their points of view were rather close, although I.N. Smirnov did not express it categorically, touching in general on the political questions from the point of view of passive contemplation. At the end of the conversation, it was only understood that if the possibility came up, I.N. Smirnov would send information on the economic and political situation in the USSR, with the help of which one could here, abroad, be oriented more correctly on Russian questions. But I.N. Smirnov would not make any promises in this respect either. Is it worth the trouble to deny that there were conversations and “terrorist instructions”? Let us only note in passing the absurdity of the fact that Sedov could have “personally” given “instructions” to I.N. Smirnov, an old Bolshevik, one of the pioneers and leaders of the party, and one who was old enough to have been Sedov’s father. But perhaps Sedov was transmitting “instructions” in Trotsky’s name? Smirnov himself denied it, categorically, in front of the court.

Thus the meeting had an accidental, semi-personal character and in any case stood outside any organizational relations whatsoever. The principal interest of this meeting was that it made possible direct personal contact with a man who had recently left the USSR. In perceiving Soviet reality, such personal encounters were more precious than dozens of the best articles.

For more than a year, there was no news of any kind from I.N. Smirnov. It seemed that this chance meeting would have no results, not even in the sense of receiving some scraps of news from him.

And suddenly, in the fall of 1932, a Soviet employee arriving in Berlin from the USSR looked up Sedov. This was Holtzman. He said that I.N. Smirnov, who was a close friend, had learned of his trip abroad on official matters and had asked him to visit Sedov in Berlin.

Holtzman himself was never an active Oppositionist, although he had sympathy for the Opposition. He was a fairly typical representative of that layer of old Bolsheviks who were called “liberals” in the milieu of the Opposition. Honest men, they half-way sympathized with the Opposition, but were incapable of fighting the Stalinist apparatus; they had gotten used to not expressing their thoughts openly, adapting to the apparatus, grumbling in their narrow circle and were not averse to offering this or that service to an individual Oppositionist, especially one in exile. Holtzman did not come in the name of the organization of the Left Opposition, with which he, like Smirnov, had no connection, nor in the name of any other group, because none such existed (nor, even less, in the name a “center”!) But he came on behalf of Smirnov personally, whom Holtzman cited. Smirnov asked him to tell Sedov what was happening in the Soviet Union and give him a short letter, concerning the economic situation in the USSR. This letter was printed in the form of an article in the Bulletin (No.31, Nov. 1932) under the title The Economic Situation in the Soviet Union. This article contained considerable statistical material and facts and had a purely informational character.

This was the only document brought by Holtzman. As far as the rest is concerned, he limited himself to verbal information on the political situation in the USSR, on the state of people’s spirits, etc. On the basis of this information, the editorial staff of the Bulletin composed some “correspondence” from Moscow, which appeared in the same issue (No.31).

From the entire character of this meeting, it is absolutely clear that Holtzman received neither “instructions” nor a letter, and did not ask for any either. If he did carry some sort of material into the USSR, it could only have been the Bulletin.

His aim was to gain a close knowledge of Trotsky’s point of view, his assessment of the Russian question, in particular, so as to able to inform Smirnov.

Holtzman quickly returned straight to the USSR. He did not go to Copenhagen and did not see Trotsky. (On this point, see the chapter Copenhagen).

But since this meeting between Holtzman and Sedov provided nothing for the purposes of the GPU, they forced Holtzman to testify about his imaginary trip to Copenhagen, in order to give more weight to all the charges of the indictment, by directly linking Holtzman with Trotsky. We’ve already seen how pitifully this attempt failed.

These two facts, i.e., that meetings of Smirnov and Holtzman with Sedov actually took place, are the only drops of truth in the Moscow trial’s sea of lies. The only ones! All the rest are lies, lies from beginning to end.

But what does the fact of the meetings of Smirnov and Holtzman with Sedov prove? It proves that there were meetings and nothing more.



On January 1, 1933, I.N. Smirnov was arrested. It was also then, perhaps a bit before, that Holtzman was arrested. Smirnov was sentenced by the GPU to ten years in an isolator for “ties with the Opposition abroad.” Without a doubt, Stalin and the GPU knew at that time, i.e. at the beginning of 1933, all the circumstances of I.N. Smirnov’s meeting with Sedov because I.N. Smirnov had nothing to hide. Smirnov was arrested alone. None of his close friends (Safonova, Mrachkovsky, et al.) were arrested; some among them were only deported. This alone shows that the GPU—as a result of the investigation of Smirnov’s case—considered it established that his ties “abroad” were of a purely personal nature, that there was no “center” or group organized around Smirnov. Otherwise the arrests would have been much more extensive and it would not have been Smirnov alone who was sentenced to imprisonment in an isolator.

On the other hand, if the “contact” with Smirnov had been of an organizational nature, then after Smirnov’s arrest someone else would have automatically had to renew this contact. But, from the court evidence itself it obviously follows that the “contact” existed only with Smirnov and that after his arrest, it ceased.

This did not stop Stalin, three and a half years after Smirnov’s arrest, from turning this ill-fated meeting, which had already cost Smirnov a sentence of ten years in isolation, into a new case about a terrorist center and terror, and—from shooting Smirnov.



The charges mention Holtzman’s name all of one time and that only in passing. He, they say, had received instructions from Trotsky during a private meeting. Throughout the trial, Holtzman is referred to as the one who received terrorist instructions. During the trial, it is not once said that Holtzman passed these instructions on to Smirnov, the only defendant with whom Holtzman was personally linked. Holtzman himself denied categorically having transmitted “instructions.” The one at the trial who figures as the transmitter of Trotsky’s instructions about terrorism is not Holtzman, but Y. Gaven, who supposedly personally received terrorist instructions from Trotsky, and passed them on to I.N. Smirnov. The charges speak of Gaven as the only person who had passed on terrorist instructions from Trotsky to the “Unified Center,” and it is Gaven alone who is cited in the testimony of Smirnov, Mrachkovsky, Safonova, and others. He is also the one that the prosecutor Vyshinsky mentions five or six times in his indictment speech. There is not a single word of testimony at the trial concerning the fact that Holtzman passed on terrorist instructions from Trotsky. Meanwhile the Gaven case is for some reason “set aside,” and he is not summoned before the court, even as a witness. Holtzman, however, was shot for the “instructions” which he supposedly received, but which he passed on to no one. This is the version upheld during the whole trial. But in the verdict, everything comes out just the opposite; the name of Gaven is not even mentioned; Holtzman is cited as having passed on Trotsky’s instructions about terror to the Unified Center. This confusion was inevitable, because it flows from the whole nature of the trial,—a crude and insolent police machination.

Is it necessary to say that Trotsky did not transmit through I. Gaven, any more than through anyone else, any kind of terrorist instructions and did not meet with Gaven abroad, any more than he met with a single man of the defendants?

The Missing Document

(Trotsky’s “Letter” to Dreitzer)

As is well known, the prosecution did not have at its disposal during the trial a single shred of material evidence, a single actual document or letter. In order to fill in this gap, a “letter” from Trotsky to Dreitzer and Mrachkovsky was indeed cited from memory and in quotes. The original, of course, was absent.

This story begins with Dreitzer’s trip to Berlin (in the autumn of 1931) when he “met twice in a cafe on Leipzigerstrasse with Sedov [Trotsky’s son]. Sedov told him that Trotsky’s directives would be sent later.”

This is the purest fabrication. Not only did Sedov never meet Dreitzer in Berlin, but he has never met him and they are not personally acquainted. (For those who know Berlin, we note parenthetically, that a cafe on Leipzigerstrasse is a place very poorly suited for a conspiratorial rendezvous ... )

The three lines quoted above are all that Dreitzer says about his rendezvous in Berlin. There were no “instructions.” Nor were there any conversations about terror. Why then, one should ask, was it necessary for the GPU to “send” Dreitzer to a rendezvous in Berlin? We will now find this out. Jumping ahead three years, Dreitzer testifies further that “in October 1934, Dreitzer’s sister brought him a film magazine from Warsaw, given to her for Dreitzer by an agent [?] of Sedov. Dreitzer easily discovers within this magazine—since he had agreed with Sedov in Berlin on the means of contact (Here’s the solution! Now we understand why the GPU invented the rendezvous in Berlin)—a handwritten letter from Trotsky in chemical ink which contained the order to proceed without delay in the preparation and execution of terrorist acts against Stalin and Voroshilov ... Dreitzer immediately sent this letter to Mrachkovsky, who ... after learning its contents, burned the letter out of conspiratorial considerations.”

It is not without interest to note, first of all, that this highly important testimony of Dreitzer’s was made only after many weeks and perhaps even months of interrogation (in the volume containing his testimony it is recorded on pages 102 and 103). It required 100 pages, of forced confessions, for him to “remember” this very important fact.

The letter had been brought from Warsaw. Neither Trotsky or Sedov had ever been in Warsaw. By what means did the unknown sister of Dreitzer (why wasn’t she summoned as a witness?) receive this highly conspiratorial handwritten letter from Trotsky, through whom, through whom, under what circumstances? Quite reasonably, no one tells us a word about all that. If one admits, ad absurdum, that Trotsky had actually been capable of writing a letter containing the directive to kill Stalin, it is still impossible to imagine that Trotsky had been so careless as to entrust such a letter to Dreitzer’s sister who was a complete stranger to him, and what’s more, to write it in his own handwriting, as if for the express purpose of giving the GPU death-dealing evidence against him. The letter wasn’t written in Code. [63] This form of activity is worthy of a student terrorist, but not of an old revolutionary with experience in conspiratorial matters. If the GPU were unable to obtain the letter, it is only because it was never written.

Dreitzer further testifies that after he received the letter in Moscow, he familiarized himself with its contents. The letter was written in chemical ink, in such a way that it had to be developed in order to be read. After having developed and read the letter, Dreitzer sent it to Mrachkovsky in Kazakhstan, How would it be necessary to act in such a case? You would have to rewrite the letter in chemical ink, not to mention that it would be necessary to write it in code. And what does Dreitzer do?

Mrachkovsky states “that in December 1934, when he was in Kazakhstan, he received from Dreitzer a letter from Trotsky written in chemical ink ... Mrachkovsky stresses that he knows Trotsky’s handwriting very well and that he did not have the slightest doubt that the letter was actually written by Trotsky.” These details are of enormous interest. It turns out that Dreitzer did not recopy Trotsky’s letter, but sent Mrachkovsky—the original, which he had developed.

Dreitzer sends a foreign magazine to Mrachkovsky in Kazakhstan. In its margins, quite openly, as if it were written in ordinary ink, a letter is written in Trotsky’s hand, and what a letter! It calls for the assassination of Stalin and Voroshilov!

We are sure that never, anywhere in the entire history of revolutionary struggle, was there even an instance of sending a developed chemical letter (and what a letter!) absolutely openly for thousands of miles. This case would be without precedent in the history of illegal correspondence. Would be, we say,—because it didn’t happen. But “there was” something even more fantastic. Mrachkovsky, it turns out, received Trotsky’s original letter (“written in chemical ink”) undeveloped. Thus, in transit, a miraculous transformation of the developed letter sent by Dreitzer took place: when Mrachkovsky received it was no longer developed. Nothing like this has ever happened not only in revolutionary practice, but in nature in general.

No, what incompetents, these GPU people! The Stalinist bureaucrat-investigator doesn’t even know how to lie properly!

But we still have to say a few words about the content and style of this crudely constructed falsification.

During the trial, two versions of this letter were given: one according to Dreitzer’s “recollections,” the other according to Mrachkovsky’s. The two versions, apparently similar, differ on one very essential point. Mrachkovsky says that Trotsky gave instructions that “in case of war, one should hold a defeatist position.” With Dreitzer, “it’s necessary in case of war to make good use of all the defeats ...”

The Left Opposition has always irreconcilably taken the position of unconditional defense of the USSR. In Mrachkovsky’s version, Trotsky makes a 180 degree turn on this highly important question, by taking a position which is exactly the opposite of that which the Left Opposition and Trotsky have defended for many years, as well as in their latest works. This point of the letter alone could not have failed to strike those to whom it was written, and it could not have failed to embed itself in their memory forever, because it meant a break with all the past. Meanwhile, in this extremely important question the testimonies of Mrachkovsky and Dreitzer contradict each other.

In the same way, it is impossible not to notice that Trotsky’s “letter”—in which he proposes to assassinate Stalin and Voroshilov, take a defeatist position and organize illegal cells within the army, — takes all of eight or nine lines! You would think that such an extravagant “platform” would have at least required some explanation. And one more thing: if Mrachkovsky or Dreitzer had actually received such a letter, they would have undoubtedly taken it for a crude provocation.

This incompetent and ignorant forgery is significantly inferior as far as “quality” goes, to other “police” productions such as the celebrated “Zinoviev letter,” not to mention “the bordereau in the Dreyfus affair.” [64]



Let's draw up a short balance sheet:

1. Berman-Yurin and Fritz David were not linked to any other defendants. They could be included in the trial only by means of a tenuous thread, tying them to Trotsky and Sedov. We have already shown that this “thread” was a product of the GPU. Let’s break it. Berman-Yurin and Fritz David hang in mid-air. It becomes clear that they were included in the trial as the basis of an amalgam.

2. Olberg, outside of Sedov, is not linked to any of the defendants. We have already shown what kind of a person this Olberg was, what kind of character belonged to this “contact,” which stopped in 1932. Let’s break this thread as well. Olberg also hangs in mid-air. He also was included in the trial for the sake of the amalgam.[65]

3. M. Lurie is included in the trial through Ruth Fischer-Maslow who supposedly transmitted to him terrorist instructions from Trotsky at the beginning of 1933 in Berlin. But Trotsky at this time had no connection [66] with Ruth Fischer and Maslow, because they held different political positions. (This contact was not established until 1934.) Of course, the proposition that Ruth Fischer and Maslow, in their own name, gave “instructions” to Zinoviev is the purest absurdity. The thread which ties the anti-Trotskyist scribbler, M. Lurie, to Trotsky breaks in two places. [67] (They break easily, these rotten threads!)

4. Dreitzer. Everything necessary about this connection has been said in this chapter. Let’s break this thread as well.

5. There remains the triangle of Sedov-Smirnov-Holtzman. We have drawn it, in contrast to the other lines, with a solid line, because the fact of the meetings itself is true. This is the only truth in the whole trial. These meetings took place in 1931 and 1932. Since then there has been no other contact whatsoever; from the beginning of 1933, both Smirnov and Holtzman were in prison. (The thread which directly links Trotsky with Holtzman was “broken” in the preceding chapter.)

As far as these two meetings are concerned, one participant (Smirnov) categorically denied having received terrorist instructions from Trotsky; “it was the personal opinion of Sedov,” he says; the other (Holtzman) did not transmit terrorist instructions and was so hopelessly discredited by the story of his “trip” to Copenhagen. However, they were to prove Trotsky’s participation in terrorist activity, especially in Kirov’s assassination. And the verdict says that “L. Trotsky, from abroad, hastened by every means possible the preparation for Kirov’s assassination.” (Although this wasn’t mentioned once at the trial itself.)

In order to explain why it was necessary to assassinate Kirov, who played no independent role, they tell us that it was the revenge of the Zinovievists for the fact that Kirov had crushed them in Leningrad. But what then does Trotsky have to do with it? When Kirov crushed the Zinovievists in Leningrad, they were just as hostile to the Left Opposition as were the Stalinists.

On the role of Trotsky in Kirov’s assasination, Zinoviev testified in a much more eloquent manner: “In my opinion, Bakaev is right when he says that the true and principal culprits of the odious assassination of Kirov were, in the first place, myself—Zinoviev, Trotsky and Kamenev.”

For four years Zinoviev led terrorist activity of unprecendented scope. And Zinoviev, one of the principal defendants, speaks of the role of the principal defendant, Trotsky, in a very uncertain way (“in my opinion”, with reference to a third person.

No comment.

On the basis of irrefutable facts, we have shown that there was neither terrorism nor a “center”; we have also shown how much these contacts of Trotsky with the defendants are worth. Of the Stalinist “schema,” there remains only a blank space. In order to fill it with a “schema” which corresponds to reality, it would be enough to draw two rectangles: one large Stalin, the other smaller—Yagoda. The Moscow trial is their creation from start to finish.


Footnotes

[60] In this example, the investigative technique is once again revealed: the accused are constantly pushed, one degree at a time, toward false confessions. (L.S.)

[61] In describing Smirnov’s meeting with Sedov, as with a number of other questions where Sedov is mentioned, we are using his testimony. (L.S.)

[62] At the trial, Smirnov was always called Trotsky’s “representative” in the USSR. Such personal “representation”—a “junior leader” represents not the organization, but the “senior leader”—was, of course, completely alien to the Opposition and, on the other hand, is a highly typical invention for the bureaucracy, in the farm and image of their “leader” and his personal representatives—his minions. But, in general, how could Smirnov have “represented” the Opposition? He, who had publicly broken from it in the USSR in the presence of thousands of Bolshevik-Leninists true to the cause? Until 1934, the Left Opposition in the USSR was headed by Rakovsky whose moral authority during that period could not have been compared with I.N. Smirnov’s authority. (L.S.)

[63] Holtzman had already said that a code existed for correspondence with Trotsky. (L.S.)

[64] “Zinoviev letter”: published by the Tory Daily Mail during the 1924 election campaign after the fall of the first Labour Government. It purported to be from Zinoviev, then President of the Communist International, to the British party containing instructions about the military section of the British CP. In fact it was a crude forgery, concocted by White Russian emigres in Paris and conveyed through agents connected with the Conservative Central Office. Its aim was to weaken Labour’s electoral chances, and this it did, not by diminishing the Labour vote, but by scaring pro-liberal middle class voters into supporting the Tories. This allowed Baldwin to become Prime Minister again in 1925. (Trotsky’s Writings on Britain, Vol. 2)

[65] The Dreyfus Affair: Alfred Dreyfus was a Jewish captain on the French General Staff who was sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island in 1895 on a false charge of espionage. The War Office, monarchists and the Church conducted a viciously anti-Semitic campaign which split the nation into warring camp. The Republicans finally triumphed and Dreyfus was exonerated in 1906. The crudity of the frameup has long since served to make the Dreyfus Affair a paradigm of political falsification.

[66] This fact can be established on the basis of documents and the testimony of numerous witnesses. (L.S.)

[67] As far as M. Lurie’s “ties” with Zinoviev are concerned, it is interesting to note that M. Lurie, who brought such important terrorist instructions for Zinoviev to Moscow in March 1933, met with him only in August 1934! (L.S.)

 

THE SAME OLD SONG TO A NEW TUNE
(The Gestapo)



Is it possible to believe for even one minute in the reliability of the information ... that Trotsky, the former Chairman of the Soviet of Workers Deputies in Petersburg in 1905, a revolutionary who has given decades of unselfish service to the revolution – that this man had ties to a plan subsidized by the “German government”? This is indeed an obvious, unheard of, and unscrupulous slander against a revolutionary.

Lenin, Pravda
April 16,1917


There is a type of slander which you do not refute, that you step over so as not to soil your boots. Such is the slander about “ties with the Gestapo.” But even this was not invented by Stalin. Stalin slavishly repeats the old slander of the English, Russian, and other imperialists about the “German spies Lenin and Trotsky,” only modernizing it with the word Gestapo.

When in 1917 the Russian bourgeoisie and its agents Miliukov, Kerensky and others tried to slander and defame the Bolshevik Party, the party toward which all the hopes of the Russian working class and wide layers of the peasantry were directed, they proclaimed that its leaders, Lenin and Trotsky, were “agents of the German general staff.” If Stalin himself was not at this time included among those leaders slandered (Lenin, Trotsky, Zinoviev), it is only because in that heroic epoch, he was too little known and was only a third-rate figure. The contemptible and pathetic Kerensky at least remains true to himself when he writes today that there is nothing surprising in the fact that Trotsky and Zinoviev had had connections with the Gestapo, because, you see, Lenin, Trotsky and others were already, in 1917, linked to General Ludendorff!

Kerensky ties the thread of his own past slander against Lenin, Trotsky and Zinoviev to today’s slander hurled by Stalin against Trotsky and Zinoviev. (If Lenin were not dead, he would be, naturally, the first and principal Gestapo agent.) How instructive is this handshake of two slanderers, – Kerensky and Stalin, – across an entire epoch: 1917-1936!

In the quote which we used as an epigraph for this chapter, Lenin says in Pravda of 1917 that “It is an obvious, unheard of, and unscrupulous slander against a revolutionary.” Today these words are more timely than ever. But since then an entire revolution has passed!

When Pravda wrote these lines with indignation, Trotsky was not yet the leader of the October Revolution along with Lenin, when, according to Stalin himself: “all the work of the practical organization of the insurrection was carried out under the direct leadership of Trotsky, Chairman of the Petrograd Soviet. One can say with certainty, that for the rapid passage of the garrison to the side of the Soviet and the able organization of the work of the Military-Revolutionary Committee, the party is above all indebted to Cde. Trotsky,” (Article by Stalin in Pravda, Nov. 6, 1918). Trotsky had not yet been, along with Lenin and Zinoviev, the founder and leader of the Communist International. Trotsky had not yet become the leader of the Red Army and the organizer of the victories of the Civil War.

And could there be a better proof of Lenin’s confidence in Trotsky, and Trotsky alone, than the well-known “carte blanche” which Lenin gave him? In 1919, at the height of the Civil War, Lenin sent the following document to L. Trotsky:

Comrades!

Knowing the strict character of Cde. Trotsky’s orders, I am so convinced, absolutely convinced, of the correctness, the expediency and the necessity for the good of the cause of the order given by Cde. Trotsky, that I fully support this order.

V. Ulianov-Lenin

Lenin wrote these lines at the bottom of a blank piece of paper which carried the heading of the Chairman of the Soviet of People’s Commissars (in July, 1919) so that Trotsky could write above Lenin’s signature any of his own decisions, which would have beforehand Lenin’s signature beneath it!

* * *


One of the reactionary French newspapers, the clerical Echo de Paris, now announces that even the French Trotskyists are agents of the Reich. L’Humanité seized on this discovery. Oh, once the Echo de Paris says so, there’s no doubt about it. Of course, the French Trotskyists struggle against the French front which is joined by L’Humanité and Echo de Paris. The French Trotskyists do not demand the suspension of the class struggle, they do not fraternize with the French bourgeoisie and are certainly not inclined to forgive them all their “sins” in compensation for the France-Soviet military alliance. They are also not inclined to cooperate with the transformation of the French workers into an instrument of imperialism and militarism. There is no doubt, they are agents of the Gestapo!

The Polish Bolshevik-Leninists are agents of the secret police, proclaims Pravda. Of course! You cannot force them, like Thorez and Duclos to cry: “Long live the Poland of Pilsudski!” They are preparing a new Poland in the underground and in the prisons, which will not be the Poland of Pilsudski. Of course, – they are agents of the secret police!


This “argument” is not new; Lenin and Liebknecht, Trotsky and Rosa Luxemburg experienced it themselves. Marx also went through it: The French Bonapartist press accused him of being an agent of Bismarck. Well, it’s not such a bad tradition!

Read the German fascist newspapers, see with what furious hatred they speak of Trotsky. These are the ones who advise handing Trotsky over to Stalin! The German fascists can not forgive Trotsky, not only for his revolutionary role in general but for his revolutionary politics in Germany. They know that it’s Trotsky who spread the idea of the United Front in Germany, the only policy which could have defeated fascism, at a time when Stalin only aided fascism by proclaiming that Social Democracy and fascism were “twins” and that Social Democracy was left fascism. Without Stalin, there would have been no Hitler, no Gestapo! It is Stalin who helped Hitler to sit on the back of the German working class. And in this much deeper, historic sense, Stalin is an agent of the Gestapo, and all the pitiful police machinations will not enable him to remove From himself this terrible responsibility. Yes, if today there is fascism and the Gestapo in Germany, they “owe it first and foremost to Stalin.”