Leon Trotsky

Eleventh Session

April 16th, at four o’clock p.m.

LAFOLLETTE: This morning I asked some questions based on the assumption that the Thermidorean reaction does exist in the Soviet Union. I would like to follow up that line of questioning. In your recent book, you stated the Soviet Union had made great progress in building socialism. Isn’t it true that they have made great advances?


LAFOLLETTE: And in your previous testimony you stated that the revolutionary terror in 1918 and 1919 was necessitated by the fact that Soviet Russia was surrounded by hostile powers, and that it was necessary to kill off the opposition in order to defend such socialism as had been created – is that right? I take that as having been your statement this morning.

TROTSKY: I wish now to clear up the question. I cannot say. I cannot say whether it is correct or not. It is your formula.

LAFOLLETTE: I was wondering if I got the correct quotation.

TROTSKY: It is difficult for me to answer such a fragmentary question. I would prefer to have the question as a whole.

LAFOLLETTE: Perhaps I could just go on and ask my last question, which is this: Is it not possible that at least in the opinion of the bureaucracy – of course, the bureaucracy does not think there is a Thermidor – is it not possible that there is no Thermidor, but since Russia is still surrounded by hostile capitalist states, some fascist, Stalin feels it necessary to save the gains of the revolution? Is it not possible that the bureaucracy feels itself still a revolutionary power?

TROTSKY: It is not my opinion. If the society is Socialist, or near-socialist, as society is built up the solidarity – the fascist surrounding cannot change the inner relationships, because the solidarity of the Socialist society is the best weapon against fascism. Where the militarization and the bureaucratization is a product not of a surrounding fascism, but of inner contradictions – when a society is solidified, it is not necessary to have a GPU in order to fight fascism; the GPU is not against Hitler; the GPU is against the enemies in the country – then, I ask, who are the enemies? In a certain period, they were the representatives of the former ruling class. Now, they are the more progressive proletariat, the worker oppositionists, and members of the Party and of the Youth. The fascist surroundings don’t explain anything in this connection. Only the inner contradictions can explain the rôle of the GPU.

LAFOLLETTE: Then I have one more question, which bears on something you suggested yesterday. I asked you what your stand would be if Russia were allied with Hitler. You said that possibility was not excluded; that there was a certain section of the bureaucracy which was in favor of a rapprochement with the fascists. Is it not possible that Stalin is fighting against the bureaucracy, that section of the bureaucracy, using you, really accusing you of that ambition in order to create a sentiment against such an alliance?

TROTSKY: Yes, it is very possible. Many symptoms indicate that Stalin has to fight a certain part of the bureaucracy which will assure its position at any price, even at the price of an alliance or friendship with Hitler, Stalin is, I suppose, not inclined now to go along in this way, but will expose this tendency by the specter of Trotskyism: “It is Trotsky’s policy; we will execute everybody who is of the same opinion.” This is not an opinion on my part, only a supposition.

STOLBERG: Is it your opinion ―

TROTSKY: It is very difficult to say. I don’t know of anybody in the Politburo or the Central Committee who is of this opinion, but it is very probable that large strata of the bureaucracy, in the higher bureaucracy and in the middle bureaucracy, are of this opinion, that “if the fascist regimes do not threaten us, we will be quiet, have peace to do our work, and we can be in very good friendship with the fascist countries.”

LAFOLLETTE: How would it stand in relation to your theory that Stalin used this method of mobilizing the masses against a rapprochement with the fascist states by making Trotsky and Trotskyism – accusing you and your followers – accusing that part of the bureaucracy though you and arousing the masses through accusing you?

TROTSKY: I do not understand.

LAFOLLETTE: You don’t understand?


LAFOLLETTE: Would it be in accord with your own theory for Stalin to use such methods if he wanted to arouse the masses against a rapprochement with fascist countries?

TROTSKY: I believe that the Marxist, the revolutionary, policy in general is a very simple policy: “Speak out what is! Don’t lie! Tell the truth!” It is a very simple policy. If Stalin has an adversary who is for an alliance with Hitler he must speak out openly before the masses, attack him, engage him in a discussion. Then, with the help of the masses, reduce him to nothing, politically, not by assassination, but politically. That would be the only way, the sound policy. I feel sure that the Russian workers in their great majority would support him in this way.

DEWEY: One more question ―

INTERPRETER: Mr. Ruehle has a point on this.

RUEHLE (through interpreter): I would like to know whether Trotsky is aware of the statement in the Prague Press, the Government organ in Czechoslovakia, of March 5th, 1937, in which the possibility of a secret understanding between Germany and Russia is discussed; whether he sees any connection between the information in that dispatch and the trials.

STOLBERG: About the whole thing.

INTERPRETER: The, citation is from the Prague Press and is reprinted in the magazine, Sozialistische Wahrheit, printed in Paris.

The citation is as follows:

It is true that England is now looking toward the East, but they are there trying to solve quite another puzzle than that which stands in the foreground of conversations and reflections of specialists. Right now a great deal is being said here about secrets between Berlin and Moscow, by which is meant the seriousness of German-Russian enmity is no longer altogether believed, and even that it would not be surprising if the whole tremendous propaganda from both sides were merely the slickest of political bluffs to obscure a great political reorientation. That Germany could decide on a thorough change in her conception of foreign policy is at least a possibility or even a probability, when one considers that a 180-degree change in German policy – to an understanding with Russia – would open to her what is almost the sole escape from the present blind alley. The facts underlying these political considerations are: The tripling of Germany’s exports to Russia in l936, including a large item of munitions from the Krupp-Gruson Works in Magdeburg, and the visit, kept a secret in Berlin, of German General Staff members to Moscow.

TROTSKY: Yes. I know it. It is an affirmation of my hypothetical opinion, a partial affirmation. Whether it is serious or is only a bluff, a diplomatic bluff against France, to force her to come into closer connection with the Soviet Union, I don’t know. But every bluff can become serious.

DEWEY: Can I ask you a question on terrorism? In the appeal of the Russian Opposition to the Communist International, made after your expulsion from the Party, you state that it is still possible without new revolutionary disturbances to put in order and reinforce the system of the proletarian dictatorship. When I say you, I mean the leaders of the Opposition. Before that it says:

Terror can play a great affirmative rôle if it is based on a correct political line and promotes the dissolution of reactionary groups. As Bolsheviks we fully understand the rôle of the revolutionary terror. We applied it to the bourgeoisie and their agents, the Social Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, and not for one moment do we intend in the future to renounce the revolutionary terror as against enemies of the proletariat. We well remember, however, that the terror of the parties hostile to the Bolsheviks was powerless.

That is on page 356 of the English The Real Situation in Russia. Part of it runs over on the top of 357. I am merely asking you whether there is anything inconsistent in that with what you stated this morning, whether it is in the same line with the remarks you made this morning?

TROTSKY: I don’t remember all this document, but it was not signed by me, It is after my expulsion.

DEWEY: Yours is the first name there.

TROTSKY: Oh, yes, it is signed. My exposition in the first session today was in a larger historical line, I say if the society becomes genuinely Socialist, if solidarity is the cement of the society, then terroristic methods would be dying out, the method of dictatorship abandoned and the line of dictatorship, and that the status of terrorism must be declining. The fact that this line is rising is an argument against the Socialist character of the society and state. I repeat again that I can see that in every situation of an isolated workers’ state, it is not possible – you see it now in Spain. The workers must fight for their existence and their power. When they want power, they must defend by violence their power against violence. In that sense we say that if the former ruling class and the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries attack the Soviet state, we will attack them with all our vigor and defend Stalin in that respect. It is a representation of our fidelity to the Soviet state. If we will appreciate the Soviet state in its development, if we forget the classless society, we must ask ourselves if the depreciations are on a declining line and not on a rising line. The rising line is the line of temperature, of Sickness, a sign that the body is sick. We say the alleged Socialist body of the USSR is sick and that the sickness is provoked by the bureaucracy.

FINERTY: Mr. Trotsky, there are a few miscellaneous matters, more properly belonging in the earlier part of my examination. I want to ask them before I forget them. Will you define the difference between the united front and the popular front? It is not shown in the record.

TROTSKY: Yes, we may make concrete the difference between the two notions. During 1917, all the politics of the Bolsheviks consisted in fighting against the popular front – not so called – in favor of the united front. The Russian bourgeois party, the Kadets – it is from the words Constitutional Democrats which became abbreviated to Kadets – remained as the only bourgeois party. All the bourgeois parties merged with the Kadets in 1917. The Kadets were in an alliance with the Social Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks. It was named at that time the coalition, not popular front as now, but coalition. We addressed the workers, and said to them: “You must ask of your leaders, the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries, that they abandon their alliance with the bourgeoisie and that they enter into an alliance with us, and the Bolshevik workers are ready to fight with them together in a united front.” It was our policy. Every worker by and by understood our policy. They abandoned the Mensheviks and the Social Revolutionaries, and we became a genuine party of the masses at the turning point.

FINERTY: Will you also identify for the record the meaning of the word, “Comintern”?

TROTSKY: The “Comintern” is now defending the positions and the principles of the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries of 1917.

GOLDMAN: No; what does the word “Comintern” stand for?

FINERTY: What Organization, what body?

GOLDMAN: The word “Comintern” stands for the Communist International.

FINERTY: It is the Communist International as distinct from the Russian Communist Party?

TROTSKY: The Russian Communist Party is the leading party in the Communist International.

FINERTY: The Communist International consists of many sections, does it not?

TROTSKY: Yes, and the sections are known as the Comintern, the aggregate.

FINERTY: A reference was made this morning also about the selectivity of the Communist Party; that the basis after 1919 was the effort to confine it actually to workers. Let me ask you what methods are now used or have since been used to restrict the membership in the Party, to change the basis of membership? Purges, I refer to purges.

TROTSKY: Now the genuine Party is only the higher stratum of the bureaucracy. The rank and file, they are not invited into the Party, but pushed out of the Party. There is now a purge from 2,000,000 to 2,500,000. There remain in the Party only one million and a half. The expulsions, most of the expulsions, are organized on orders from above. The bureaucracy now submits demands to the Party for the Stakhanovites, for example.

FINERTY: Do these purges result in removing from the Party the majority of the old Bolsheviks, the Party ―

TROTSKY: The purges depend upon the dictates of the bureaucracy. If today the bureaucracy gave a concession to the rich peasants and the workers were discontented, then the bureaucracy expelled 100,000 to 500,000 workers. When the bureaucracy changed the policy and began to expropriate the “kulaks,” the rich farmers and peasants, the great part of the peasants became discontented and dissatisfied. Then the bureaucracy began to expel the peasants from the Party.

FINERTY: What are the mechanics of expulsion? Is there some provision for a yearly membership? Does it take an active expulsion, or is it by means of revising and renewing Party membership?

TROTSKY: You see, Mr. Attorney, they expelled the whole Politburo, the old Politburo of Lenin. They expelled it by a summary decision. With the rank and file they have no more concern.

FINERTY: How is that accomplished?

TROTSKY: They have a Control Commission, also made up of the same bureaucrats. The Control Commission invited the defendants, and examined them briefly. Then they declared them expelled. They even expelled them without examination.

FINERTY: I want now to refer to the question of sabotage. I want to ask you if in your opinion sabotage of the Five-Year Plan by the Opposition would have been a practical political measure for discrediting and overthrowing the Stalin bureaucracy?

TROTSKY: No. From my Marxian point of view every progress is based upon the development of the productive forces of mankind, and of the nation in that case. Now, the overthrow of the bureaucracy by the people is possible only on a higher political and cultural level of the people. It is necessary to raise the people, and not push them into the depths. By the disorganization of economy, we could create only the basis for social reaction. How can we hope then to vanquish the bureaucracy?

FINERTY: Is it not conceivable that by convincing the people that the Stalin bureaucracy was incompetent to raise their economic and industrial level – as a means of convincing them, to sabotage the efforts of the Stalin bureaucracy? Isn’t it possible that to do that would be a means of getting the people to overthrow the bureaucracy?

TROTSKY: It would be the same as if I said to the mechanic of a train that he was a bad mechanic, and then put myself on the railroad to provoke some accident. After that, I could not accuse the mechanic. If the Opposition – the Opposition which represents a certain ideological capital, the tradition of the leading stratum of the October Revolution – expects to educate the people, and instead of educating the workers we begin preparing catastrophes, it would signify the destruction of the best capital of the revolution, of the old generation of the revolution, the best fighters of the Civil War who were educated to represent the great tradition of history. Instead of employing them for the education of the people, we would destroy the factories, and pay for that destruction by dozens of lives. It is unimaginable, the accusation itself.

FINERTY: It is not unimagined, because it is being made. What I want to ask you today is to consider it purely objectively.

TROTSKY: The accusation is totally conceivable from the point of view of the bureaucracy. If the bureaucracy made mistakes, it is natural. Anybody would make mistakes. The bureaucracy made more mistakes than necessary. The reason is that the bureaucracy did not allow the people to participate in the direction of the economy. If the bureaucracy is interested in rejecting responsibility for all the mistakes and errors in industry and blames the Opposition. it is totally natural. I can understand it. But that the Opposition could imagine that they, by the destruction of some factories, could take power – it seems to me absolutely absurd.

FINERTY: I can understand you, the expression of your point of view, and add that it may be the excuse of the bureaucracy for its own inefficiency. In other words, that the alleged sabotage is not sabotage at all, but was an excuse to hide the inefficiency of the bureaucracy. What I want to ask you is this: Not whether you did, not whether with your own views – let us say merely, whether from the practical point of view or from any other point of view, it would have been a practical means of overthrowing the Stalin bureaucracy if the Opposition would have sabotaged the Stalin program?

TROTSKY: I deny it. It is impossible – if I understood you – it is absolutely impossible for the Opposition. It is not necessary to provoke artificial castastrophes. There are sufficient natural catastrophes created by the bureaucracy. Mistakes. And we can sufficiently criticize the bureaucracy on the basis of these naturally negative sides of the bureaucratic economy. It is not necessary by sabotage to provoke new disasters.

FINERTY: Mr. Trotsky, assuming the condition where under the ordinary course of events the inefficiency of the bureaucracy would finally disgust the people to a point where they would overthrow the bureaucracy, would it be a possible political tactic for the Opposition, in place of waiting for that long process of overthrow by the people, to hasten the overthrow by adding to the natural inefficiency of the bureaucracy by sabotage?

TROTSKY: Mr. Attorney, you have only the experience of the class struggle in capitalist society. The anarchists propose from time to time to sabotage. We Marxists have denied it categorically every time from the beginning of our movement. How can it be possible – the new society’s promise for the future. If we should begin this absurd tactic, it would be economic and cultural suicide. I deny it categorically.

FINERTY: In other words, if I understand you, while you might be willing to use any practical means to overthrow the bureaucracy, you don’t think that sabotage would be a practical means of accomplishing that end.

TROTSKY: It means suicide for every political tendency.

FINERTY: In that connection, I assume that you have read the confessions, the alleged confessions, of the various defendants confessing sabotage. Do you think it within the realm of possibility that for some other motive, and under some other direction, they were actually guilty of sabotage? I understand it would be pure speculation. Have you speculated along these lines?

TROTSKY: For the defendants whom I know personally, I can affirm with absolute certitude that this hypothesis is excluded. For Drobnis, for example, absolutely excluded. The confessions are another thing. It is very possible that many or some of the defendants, who were directors in industry or economy, committed errors. What kind of errors? During Stakhanovism, the bureaucracy asked more and more productivity, more and more efficiency, and by this work under the whip they destroyed a minor factory or new machines. But the reason was the absurd policies of the higher authorities. And then the higher authorities accuse them: “You are responsible. We will shoot you for the destruction of the factories and mines,” and the judge of inquiry says: “If you will recognize that you are a Trotskyite, that you committed these crimes in a premeditated manner. I hope they will save your life.” That is very possible.

FINERTY: Now, Mr. Trotsky, if I am correct, in the first Moscow trial there were no charges of sabotage as such. There were charges of terror. But the defendants in the second Moscow trial, having seen all the defendants in the first Moscow trial shot in spite of any promises of clemency, would they be apt to accept promises of clemency as the basis for making a confession of acts which they had not committed?

TROTSKY: The answer is: When anybody has to choose between death at one hundred per cent, and death at ninety-nine per cent, when he is in the hands of the GPU, he will choose the ninety-nine per cent against the hundred per cent. We saw that in the second trial. Four of the defendants were saved. Not all were shot. In the trials before the Zinoviev-Kamenev trials, the trial of the Industrial Party for sabotage, and the Menshevik trial, nobody was shot, if I remember well. Many of them, the defendants who confessed, became again very important dignitaries in the Soviet state.

FINERTY: Did they confess in this trial about deliberate sabotage?

TROTSKY: Yes – Professor Ramzin.

FINERTY: Did they in any way impute that sabotage to you?

TROTSKY: Pardon?

FINERTY: Did they impute that sabotage to you?

TROTSKY: No; at that time, no. At that time it was connected with France; the French Government was accused of that sabotage. But in 1929, you can find in the Russian paper, only 1929 – I have here, with the permission of Mr. Chairman – we prepared this sketch of the accusations. You can find in 1929 in the papers accusations against Troiskyites as saboteurs and railroad wreckers, but it was only the literary preparation of the new trial, only the agitation of that time.

FINERTY: I want to ask you, then, if you exclude the possibility of any of the defendants of the second trial being guilty of actual acts, of deliberate acts of sabotage?

TROTSKY: In the second trial?


TROTSKY: I don’t know; I don’t know nine or ten of them. It is possible there was a Japanese agent. I don’t know Arnold, Pushin, Norkin, Rataichak, Knyazev and others. I don’t know them at all. It was possible that some were genuine German and Japanese agents, and that they committed sabotage on the orders of the Japanese General Staff. It is not excluded.

FINERTY: That is what I wanted to ask you. What I then want to ask you after this, in line with Miss LaFollette’s question, is your theory of the possibility of a plot participated in by the pro-Hitler branch of the bureaucracy, and that Stalin, not being ready as yet to purge the bureaucracy, preferred to throw the blame on you?

TROTSKY: I don’t believe that the bureaucracy as a social category, that part of the bureaucracy, is capable of sabotaging industry in the interest of Hitler. It is absolutely improbable; it is not those corrupt individuals who received money from Hitler’s agents.

FINERTY: What I am suggesting to you is, whether you have excluded the possibility. I understand that you testified that there was, or that Stalin apparently believed there was, a branch of the bureaucracy favorable to an alliance with Hitler.

TROTSKY: But not at the price of the destruction of Russian economy. A political alliance for the defense of the Soviet Union, but in order to avoid war, not to destroy the Soviet Union and Soviet economy. They are not agents of Hitler. They are only interested in peace, not interested in the fate of the world proletarian revolution, and so on. Ready for peace, even in friendship with Hitler. And if Hitler can then destroy France and stifle for twenty or thirty years the German proletariat, it does not concern them. That is their belief. But never will they consent to destroy Russian industry. They are in their way very good Russian patriots.

FINERTY: In other words, you don’t even charge your enemies within the bureaucracy with being tools of Hitler?

TROTSKY: No; only individuals. It is possible that there are groups of individuals who represent their own personal interests. In every country you find them.

FINERTY: It is possible that some of these minor saboteurs and the ones you mentioned were actually Hitler and Japanese agents?

TROTSKY: Yes; it is possible.

DEWEY: May I ask a question. I think along the same lines?

With reference to the range of sabotage that occurred in Siberia, about which the more secondary persons testified, there are many references to Trotsky centers in Siberia.

TROTSKY: Centers, yes.

DEWEY: That is my impression. None of these centers, however, are in any way identified. They are generally and vaguely referred to. But the question I want to ask is, when you were in exile, did you ever try to create Trotskyite centers?

TROTSKY: In Siberia?

DEWEY: In Siberia.

TROTSKY: The only ones they named here, the only ones they named as members of the center were Muralov, Boguslavsky and Drobnis. I know all three. They were expelled from the Party together with me and sent to Siberia. I know Muralov very well. Muralov confessed to be the chief of the Siberian center of saboteurs.

DEWEY: I mean the secondary people. There are vague general references to Trotskyite centers.

TROTSKY: There was Shestov. I believe, reading the Verbatim Report, that Shestov was an agent of the GPU, absolutely. Stroilov I don’t know. About Hrasche we had some information, but he was not involved in Siberia.

DEWEY: Mr. Trotsky, you don’t quite get my point. When I said Trotskyite centers, I did not mean delegates, I meant locals.

GOLDMAN: Groups.

DEWEY: Local groups. Did you have any part in forming such important blocs and centers, or groups of your followers?

TROTSKY: In Siberia?

DEWEY: In Siberia.

TROTSKY: In Siberia, the Trotskyites were in centers themselves, colonies of déportés. In the village where there are four or five déportés, they are connected one with another. They correspond with another colony or another village; that is, another colony in another village. The same situation we had under the Tsarist régime. They do not have the possibility of changing their place. They cannot take organizational measures. They are in a certain place, a village or a small town. And they are connected one with another. We can call them a center, but not an organization. It is only a colony of exiles.

DEWEY: That is all.

FINERTY: Mr. Trotsky, may I ask you this: How do you explain that Muralov, in his closing statement, in his plea, not only confessed, but stated that he told the truth in confessing active sabotage, but also called you “agent of the fascists, enemy of the working class and the Soviet Union who deserved every contempt.” That man had been your friend, had been a comrade of yours in the army. Under what circumstances do you explain, or can you explain, that in open court he made these statements?

TROTSKY: If a man such as Muralov – if he cries to be shot as a German and Japanese spy, he does his work to the end. He was arrested, and remained eight months in prison without confessing. Then they show him one confession after another. On the ground of this Verbatim Report, it is not difficult to show that every one of the defendants had the same environment as himself at the Moscow trials. Radek confessed that he resisted confessing for three or four months, but they showed him one confession after another; I believe, fifteen confessions. The first confession was of his own secretary, then of his collaborator, a historian – I forget his name – and so on. They created around Radek a wall of confessors, and everybody affirmed: “Radek is guilty! Radek is guilty!” The investigators from time to time visited him in prison. Then they asked him: “Will you confess? We will begin our trial in two weeks.” Radek says, “You will shoot me.” And they reply, “No, we will not shoot.” Radek says, “You shot Zinoviev and Kamenev.” They reply, “You know yourself Zinoviev and Kamenev were adversaries. You are not an adversary. You must help us annihilate Trotsky personally, and Trotskyism. You have no other choice. You must confess” And he confessed.

BEALS: Where did you get the information that the first confession Radek saw was that of his own secretary?

TROTSKY: In the Verbatim Report. It was in the Pravda also. Radek says so himself.

BEALS: Can you give us the citation?

TROTSKY: I will give you this in two minutes.

FINERTY: Mr. Trotsky, I want to call your attention in this connection to the fact that Muralov does not, as Radek does, challenge the Soviets to execute him and deny any hope for clemency. What Muralov specifically says are the words: “I ask that this frank testimony be taken into account in passing sentence on me.” In your opinion does it indicate that Muralov had been promised some hope of clemency?

TROTSKY: I believe so. Even a heroic personality such as Muralov asserts the will not to be assassinated, not to be executed. He had done what he promised to the end. And then in a very sober form he declared, “If you can save my life, good.” The first thing – I don’t have at this moment at my disposition the confessions of Vyshinsky, Yagoda, Yezhov and Stalin. If I had the confessions in my hands, I could present you with all the ties, the inquisitorial mechanics of the extortion of confessions, because these mechanics are very individual. They are, in their way, psycho – what is that word?

INTERPRETER: Psychoanalysts?

TROTSKY: Psychoanalysts. They have time. The defendants remain in prison one month, five months, ten months. They have different ways. They arrest the son and they arrest the wife. Permit me to give you a personal example. Our son is now arrested on the accusation – you know my son’s accusation. If we were in Russia, the mother would be arrested, I would be arrested. They press her with the thought, “If you will save your son you must confess your man to be such and such a criminal.”

INTERPRETER: Your husband.

TROTSKY: Your husband. They address the son and they say, “If you want to see your mother free, you must confess that and that.” I believe it is very probable the son would confess. Then they come with the confession of the mother to me and ask me, “What will you do?” The situation is very difficult – such a situation exists with hundreds and thousands. Pyatakov’s wife was arrested eight months before he was. He declared in his last words, “I lost all, my family and all.”

FINERTY: Is there anything in the Bolshevik – the old Bolshevik Party – discipline, on the attitude of the members of the Bolshevik Party towards the Party, that would psychologically expose them to serve the Party at the expense of personal honor, by confessing anything that was not the truth?

TROTSKY: No. The Bolshevik discipline was very strong, very often severe. But it was a discipline of dignity, revolutionary dignity; it was discipline based on discussions, inner struggles, and then democratic decisions.

FINERTY: And nothing that would warrant a member of the Party, in the interests of the Party, degrading himself by a confession and slandering others?

TROTSKY: No, it is a measure which can only demoralize the Party. The Party exists on human beings, not robots, not automatons. The method of a revolutionary is a combination of dignity and the spirit of concession and sacrifice. It is absolutely impossible to ask from him such degrade actions as in the Moscow trials.


FINERTY: If these confessions were false, Mr. Trotsky, do you exclude as a motive for the confessions the desire on the part of the defendants unselfishly to serve the Party?

TROTSKY: I said, I can admit it for Muralov. They stand now in a situation – because the psychosis of war is now the most important factor in the hands of the bureaucracy. Everything is explained by the war danger. People like Muralov and others read only the Soviet papers. They don’t know foreign languages. For years they read that I am abroad, acting against the Soviet Union, that I am in an alliance with Lord Beaverbrook and Winston Churchill. Everyone of them says, “It is false, but it is possible that everything is true.” He is not in connection with me and he is shaky ―


TROTSKY: – shaken in his confidence. That is from one side. From the other: “Stalin is the chief of the country. If we fight against Germany and Japan, we will fight under the leadership of Stalin. You are a friend of Trotsky, but you can’t invite him to come here. In the situation his activities are prejudicial to the defense of the Soviet Union.”

At the time, he merely hesitates. He hesitated for one, two, three months. He hesitated for eight months. They showed him one deposition, one confession after another. Then this man broke down. He satisfied them in every way.

FINERTY: So, he might actually have believed that you were party to a foreign ―

TROTSKY: I cannot admit that he accepted the accusation as it is, because he took upon himself the same false accusation. But my oppositionist activity, my critique against the ruling caste – it is possible that it seemed to him prejudicial for the defense of the Soviet Union.

FINERTY: That was coupled with some hope of clemency?

TROTSKY: With Muralov less than with others. He was in the full sense of the word a heroic personality.

FINERTY: But his last statement indicates that he did not lie. Radek openly stated that he expected to be executed.

TROTSKY: He had a lifelong contempt for Radek, who was a dirty personality. Muralov was a pure man, an absolutely pure personality.

FINERTY: Let me ask you this: It is noticeable that the men who were executed in this trial were the men who apparently had hoped for clemency and asked for it, and that the men who were positive they had no clemency, like Radek, were not executed?

TROTSKY: I am almost sure it was convenient between Stalin and Radek for Radek to be saved.

STOLBERG: You mean arranged?

TROTSKY: Arranged before the trial. Under these conditions Radek confessed. Radek existed more or less near to Stalin.

FINERTY: But this different deduction is wrong from the fact – the fact is that men who expressed hope of clemency were shot and Radek, who expressed no hope of clemency, was not executed.

TROTSKY: Radek did not express – but the actions of Radek were an expression of ―

FINERTY: What I mean is that Radek challenged the Government to execute him. Was the challenge made with some assuredness that it would not be done?

TROTSKY: I cannot be positive of that.

DEWEY: We will now take a short recess.

GOLDMAN: I want to clear up one matter which is very important. The record must be absolutely clear on it. Also the press must be absolutely clear on it, as well as the members of the Commission, who are clear on it. Mr. Trotsky, we asked you certain questions with reference to the possibility of a political revolution, and the question also came up whether or not in the Soviet Union, at the time when the masses attempt to remove Stalin, violence would be used. In the New York Times of April I5th, in the dispatch signed by Frank L. Kluckhohn, this following statement is made. I ask you whether it is correct or it is not correct. You can make a statement as to your position. “Mr. Trotsky insists, however, that he opposed terrorism and isolated violence, contrary to the charges made at the recent Moscow trials.” Now comes the statement I refer to: “He declared, ‘Stalin must be eliminated, but not killed unless he ...’”

Did you ever declare that he should be killed, if Stalin opposed the movement of the masses?


GOLDMAN: What did you say – what is your position?

TROTSKY: In this connection, I spoke not about Stalin, but about the bureaucracy. The revolutionary violence can be applied against the bureaucracy – the violence of the masses – but not personally against Stalin. The connection is false. The question concerning Stalin was put in connection with terrorism. The question of the bureaucracy, the despotic régime, the bureaucracy, was connected with the question of mass violence. I say that the mass can be obliged to apply violence. For me, it is impossible to guess. If the bureaucracy will dare to oppose the mass movement with violence, then the masses will answer by violence. It is not a personal question. It is a question of the régime.

GOLDMAN: It does not necessarily follow from your statement that even if the bureaucracy uses violence and the mass of workers answer with violence, Stalin would necessarily be killed?

TROTSKY: It has nothing to do with the other.

FINERTY: I understood you to repudiate in any case, Mr. Trotsky, the assassination of Stalin, or anything along that line?

TROTSKY: Permit me to present, Commissioner Beals, from the pages in the Verbatim Report; it is on page 94, the last paragraph. Radek says as follows: “In 1935 I heard about the Zinoviev group; this was the Zaks Gladnyev group with which my assistant, Tivel, was connected in Moscow.” On page 134, the last part of the page is in connection with his relationship to Tivel.

BEALS: 134?


GOLDMAN: On page 548, Radek also talks about Tivel’s arrest and about fifteen confessions confronting him. On page 548, second to the last paragraph.

TROTSKY: Yes, it is most important. Thank you. It is the most important part of the deposition.

BEALS: Yes, I have that; thank you.

FINERTY: Mr. Trotsky, I want to direct your attention to the Report of the Proceedings of the first Moscow trial, the Zinoviev-Kamenev trial. I assume that you have read the alleged confessions in that trial, and the alleged last statements of the defendants.


FINERTY: As I understand it, Zinoviev, Kamenev and Smirnov were all members of the alleged center.


FINERTY: Am I correct in believing that there is no testimony or confession by any of them to implicate you in anything but directions for terror? They don’t claim that you gave any instructions, in their confessions, for anything but terror.


FINERTY: They don’t charge that you gave any instructions for sabotage or foreign intervention or the concession of territory – is that correct?

TROTSKY: Totally correct.

FINERTY: In reading the reports of their last statements, as well as reading their testimony, it is taken as repudiating you, the men repudiate you as totally as possible. I want to ask you if you can explain how it is that if you had given instructions for sabotage, for foreign intervention, and for the cession of Soviet territory, of territory to foreign nations, that Zinoviev, Kamenev and Smirnov could have been ignorant of it as members of the main center. If they were honestly repudiating you, why didn’t they mention these charges as well as the charges of terror? Can you explain what could have motivated them in concealing these more serious charges, or at least, equally serious charges, which were subsequently made against you, if the facts existed?

TROTSKY: I tried to explain it in my speech prepared for the Hippodrome meeting in New York. Zinoviev, Kamenev and Smirnov, and all the genuine Bolsheviks in the trial of the sixteen, denied totally any connection with the German police. We find in the first trial only unknown personalities such as Berman-Yurin, David, Olberg and Lurye. who recognize or confess their connection with the German police.

It is stated that the connections were organized on my personal order or instruction. Everything is done on my instruction. Good. They were absolutely politically inconsequential people, and their connections were only with the agents of the Gestapo. One thing they succeeded in having: a Honduran passport. Now the Honduran passport for Olberg, received from the Gestapo, was paid for by my son, allegedly, who is also another agent of the Gestapo.

FINERTY: Alleged, again.

TROTSKY: Alleged. Thus my great alliance with Germany was reduced to the passport, the Honduran passport, for an unknown young man, Olberg. And this passport was paid for allegedly by my son. Everybody, after the first trial, said: “It is too absurd that Trotsky entered into an alliance with the Gestapo, with the police, for the purpose of getting a Honduran passport. It is too stupid.” Stalin anticipated too much from the first trial. He hoped that the fact that Zinoviev and the others were confessed terrorists, and that they were shot, was all that was absolutely necessary to cover everything about the trial, and that nobody would be interested in the deposition of Olberg. What will remain is that they confessed great crimes and some suspicion about the Gestapo. But world opinion was ―

INTERPRETER: Distrustful.

TROTSKY: Yes; distrustful of the first trial. We have here a collection from papers all over the world – even conservative papers – to bear that out.

It was necessary to correct this trial by a new trial. I will say that at the moment of the first trial neither Stalin nor the chief of the GPU had an idea about my alleged alliance and sabotage. It was only the idea of terror, and then to arouse some suspicions concerning the relations between Trotsky and the Gestapo. But the critics obliged them to organize a new trial on a more solid basis. But, unfortunately, the most important defendants were shot before the new trial. He needed for the alliance with Hitler and Japan, for those plans, Zinoviev, Kamenev and Smirnov, But they were shot. Stalin must look for other more important defendants to impose that, the most important criminal activity on an international scale.

That is why the GPU, during the first trial, did not demand from Zinoviev a confession of sabotage or a confession of an alliance with Hitler. The GPU was, during the preparations for the first trial, modest, because a terroristic confession was sufficient. Then the GPU asked, “Can you say anything about the Gestapo?” Zinoviev said, “No; it is impossible for me.” You see that in the dialogue with Vyshinsky: I can say “terrorism.” It is enough, but it is not so degrading as a world alliance, let us say, or that I am in connection with the Gestapo. Kamenev also and Smirnov also. Good. “We will have a suspicion of the Gestapo from Olberg, our own agent.” Because he is very probably an agent of the GPU.

FINERTY: Mr. Trotsky, what I want to ask you is, assuming that Zinoviev, Kamenev and Smirnov were making an honest confession of what they knew, and assuming that they honestly believed you to be an enemy of the Soviet Union, was there any reason if they knew that you had given instructions for sabotage and for foreign intervention, that they should not have disclosed it then?

TROTSKY: It would be absolutely absurd. In a sincere confession in the interest of the state and of the Revolution, naturally they should have confessed the most important thing and the most important crime. It is absolutely clear.

FINERTY: Incidentally, if Vyshinsky and the Soviet Government had thought up the idea at that time that you had given instructions for sabotage to the parallel center, and had given instructions for foreign intervention, in your opinion would they then shoot their most important witnesses – Zinoviev, Kamenev and Smirnov – to such instructions?

TROTSKY: Excuse me, will you rephrase that question?

FINERTY: If the Soviet Union at that time, the first Moscow trial, knew that you had given instructions for sabotage and for foreign intervention, foreign intrigue, and that Zinoviev, Kamenev and Smirnov knew of such instructions as members of the center, would they have shot their principal witnesses?


FINERTY: Would there have been any reason for shooting them?

TROTSKY: Now I understand your question. That coincides absolutely with what I said about the second trial, that they missed the most important personalities for the second trial, where they treat of the most important crime. Naturally, it proves that the preparation of the second amalgam began only after the political fiasco of the first. It was my opinion from the beginning. My second proof is that the parallel center did not exist in the first trial. There is only the reserve center, in case of the arrest of the unified center. It was the reserve center. It was necessary to have a reserve center, not an active center, not for the future, but for the past, to have the possibility for the organization of a second trial.

FINERTY: Let me ask you this: About when were Kamenev. Zinoviev and Smirnov arrested?

TROTSKY: It was a mistake on my part – excuse me. Before the Commission I affirmed yesterday that Zinoviev and Kamenev were arrested before the assassination of Kirov. It was only the case with Smirnov, who was arrested almost two years before the assassination of Kirov. Zinoviev and Kamenev were arrested after the assassination of Kirov. In the first trial, Zinoviev says on the request of the Prosecutor that his activity lasted almost to the end of 1936. Until 1936! Including one year and a half of his prison confinement.

FINERTY: At any rate, Zinoviev, Kamenev and Smirnov were alive at that time and members of the alleged center, at the very time you were supposed to be giving Radek and Pyatakov instructions for sabotage and foreign intervention?

TROTSKY: Totally correct.

FINERTY: And must have known of such instructions if they were active?

TROTSKY: Absolutely.

FINERTY: You mean, on the theory of the Soviet Government.

TROTSKY: Vladimir Romm, the young man unknown to me – according to his own words he saw me only one time – he knew beginning from 1932 about the existence of the parallel center. He was informed by me in 1932 that the parallel center was then constructed for such purposes. But Zinoviev and Kamenev did not know anything about this.

FINERTY: In other words, under the testimony of the first trial there is no testimony of the existence of a parallel center?

TROTSKY: No; only the reserve center in case of arrest.

FINERTY: Now, I want to ask you ―

LAFOLLETTE: You want to finish? I just wanted to ask ―

FINERTY: I have not finished. I want to refer now to the testimony with relation to Putna ―

LAFOLLETTE: May I interrupt? I want to ask, for the purpose of the record, concerning a point of Soviet law, I understand the British lawyer, Pritt, writing on this question, said it was impossible legally for the prosecutor to corroborate confessions by documentary evidence, or words to that effect. Is there to your knowledge anything in the court procedure of the Soviet Union which precludes documents corroborating evidence in the case of confessions?

TROTSKY: I am not very learned in the Soviet Union penal code, but my son published in the last issue of our Bulletin a quotation from a book by Vyshinsky on Soviet law. In that book he affirms that confessions are not sufficient to prove – that it is necessary for objective evidence to verify subjective confessions. It must correspond to Soviet law.

LAFOLLETTE: I would like the title of that book.

TROTSKY: Vyshinsky’s book?


TROTSKY: It is – I believe he must be some professor of law in the university, a professor of law, not of frame-ups.

FINERTY: It is not the same Vyshinsky?

TROTSKY: Vyshinsky, the Prosecutor. We will see immediately. I saw it only in passing.

FINERTY: Just while we are waiting, I want to ask a question that has been suggested. This is referring to the question of terror. Was the execution of the Tsar and his family part of the revolutionary terror by the revolutionary party?

TROTSKY: It was done in Sverdlovsk, during the Civil War, by local authorities, when the White Guards wished to have Ekaterinburg in order to make free the Tsarist family.

FINERTY: In order to rescue them?


FINERTY: It was done in order to prevent the rescue? Was the execution in order to prevent their rescue?

GOLDMAN: In order to prevent freeing them?

TROTSKY: Yes. Not only that, but the aim to take Ekaterinburg by military measures was motivated especially by the presence of the Tsarist family. And they were sure that the White Guards in Ekaterinburg would exterminate thousands and thousands of workers. It was then.

FINERTY: It was, then, concretely speaking, an act of revolutionary terror, rather than a military measure?

TROTSKY: It was a military measure of a local type or character.

FINERTY: Referring to the Pyatakov visit to Oslo, I want to ask you, have you the text of the statement issued by the Norwegian Government as to the possibility of a plane having landed at the airport at Oslo at the time of Pyatakov’s alleged visit?

TROTSKY: Not by the Government. It is by the airdrome authorities.

FINERTY: Have you that there? May I glance at it?

TROTSKY: Can I give now the answer to Miss LaFollette concerning the book? This book is by another professor, edited – under the editorship of Vyshinsky. It is on criminal procedure. The title is: Criminal Procedure. It is published in 1936.

LAFOLLETTE: Is that translated, do you know?

TROTSKY: I don’t know. We find here, “False witnesses who learn their work by heart can make very persuasive depositions.” It is the quotation. He affirms it is necessary to have objective proof for a deposition, and so on.

LAFOLLETTE: Thank you.

FINERTY: I see by the statement of the director of the airport that it is stated that no foreign plane had landed at the airport.

TROTSKY: From the 19th of September.

FINERTY: Between the 19th of September ―

TROTSKY: And the first of May.

FINERTY: May 1st, 1936, and identified the last foreign plane landing there as a British plane.

TROTSKY: A British plane.

FINERTY: Now I want to ask you, assuming for the purpose of argument that the charges of the Soviet Government were true on an alliance with Hitler or an attempted alliance with Hitler, and Pyatakov was party to the conspiracy, would it not have been possible for Pyatakov, in connection with Hitler, to have obtained a German plane, and in connection with the fascists in Norway, to have landed in an airport and have prevented a report by the manager of the airport of the fact that such a plane had landed? I am asking you if this is not in the realm of possibility.

TROTSKY: I believe, the first thing, that it was impossible for Pyatakov to disappear from the Soviet staff in Berlin. I know from my experience that every member of the Central Committee and member of the Government who goes abroad presents immediately – he is met at the railroad station by the Soviet representative and he remains all the time in connection by telephone or telegraph with Moscow, because he may receive, as a member of the Central Committee and of the Government, important communications and maybe missions. It is absolutely impossible for such a person as Pyatakov to disappear for twenty-four hours. But it was necessary for at least forty-eight hours. The second thing: If he would have from Hitler a passport he must give his own name. He must communicate his name. He said, “I had only to sign.” Everything was organized by the mystical personality Gustav Heinrich. He had only to sign. To sign, he must have had a name. He didn’t communicate the name. But the Prosecutor Vyshinsky had the obligation to ask the name on the passport. The fact that the Prosecutor Vyshinsky did not ask him a question concerning the passport is the greatest and most direct evidence of Vyshinsky as the organizer of the frame-up. Pyatakov says that he visited me in a not badly furnished house. That is all – he visited me in a not badly furnished house. It is a neutral phrase, however, not an appreciation. Did he meet my wife in the house? Was it memorized or not? Pyatakov’s glance at my desk was sufficient for him to see my Russian texts, papers and manuscripts. If it was a Norwegian – the room or the apartment of a Norwegian? He was constantly in this room, he said nothing. He came for three hours.

DEWEY: Until three o’clock.

FINERTY: You mean he left at three o’clock?

TROTSKY: The discussion lasted two hours – until five o’clock. At that time, it is night in Norway, in December. He left to go where? To the ship, to the airplane, or to a hotel? What hotel? In a hotel he must show his passport and sign his name. The Prosecutor did not ask him about the hotel, about the night. He has not the slightest interest in handicapping his very delicate exposition.

FINERTY: Mr. Trotsky, admitting the force of all the arguments you make, what I want to ask you is this: The fact that the director of the airport reports that no foreign plane landed there is not necessarily conclusive evidence or evidence that a foreign airplane did not land there?

TROTSKY: I think it is very conclusive in the present situation.

FINERTY: Let me ask you before you go on: Might it not be in the interests of the director of the airport, had such a plane landed there and he had made no record of it, to deny that it landed, to excuse his failure to make a record?

TROTSKY: That question is very complicated – more complicated. The director of the airdrome affirmed that there is a military patrol day and night, for customs reasons. Now, is it a lie or is it true? If he is a fascist, the Government is Socialist in Norway. There are different parties. Their papers sent their correspondents to the airdrome, and the papers gave their impressions. Pyatakov came at three o’clock to the airdrome.

FINERTY: Alleged that he came.

TROTSKY: He could start only the next day in the morning. The airplane must remain on the place twelve or fifteen hours, and take new provisions of gasoline. Where? An auto waited at the airdrome, I am not entering into the question whether it was possible in the winter on an airdrome to use an auto, because the snow is, I believe, or was too deep. But I am not entering into this technical question. But the fact is that the airplane must have remained from twelve to fifteen hours and there might have been other people at the airdrome.

FINERTY: Now, Mr. Trotsky, admitting the force of your argument, I want to ask you this: Is it still not possible that for diplomatic reasons, if an airplane did land, the Norwegian Government would want to deny it?

TROTSKY: I believe that the Norwegian Government would be glad to denounce me immediately, because they interned me for four months, if not longer, only for the benefit of the Soviet Government. And if they had no reason to conceal it, it would be the best justification for their civil measures against me, because the Government is severely attacked by its own parties. It is not correct. If the Government could use any evidence in my sojourn which would implicate me in such counter-revolutionary propaganda, it would be glad to present all the proofs. It is also the reason why the director of the airdrome who gave the disposition, when my Norwegian lawyer asked him for a formal deposition for the Commission, said: “I have said it already. I cannot give you that without authorization of the higher authorities, They prohibit me from giving it.”

FINERTY: And that statement is the statement just shown to me in which he states he is prohibited from giving it?

TROTSKY: Yes; he confirms his deposition to the press, and he is prohibited from giving a formal deposition to us.

FINERTY: I understand, Mr, Trotsky, that part of the Commission have additional questions to ask. Maybe further questions will occur to me, I would like to ask you this one question: If you were, as Mr. Stalin charges, and Mr. Vyshinsky charges, in your intentions – if you intended to overthrow the Socialist state in the Soviet Union, in favor of a capitalist state, would you have considered the methods which they charged you used, effective methods for even that purpose?

TROTSKY: I don’t know whether they would be effective. If I allegedly acted only in the interests of Hitler, if I transported myself, or rather, deported myself as an impersonal agent of Hitler in order to establish capitalism, it is very difficult for me to say in what manner I would act in this sense.

FINERTY: I was going to ask you if you could tell us how you would act.

TROTSKY: But they affirmed that at the same time I tried to take power – in order to take power I transformed myself into an agent of Japan, to begin to destroy Soviet economy. I never heard that he who is ready to take power in a country becomes an agent, a subordinate, a miserable agent of an enemy general staff. I allegedly became a police agent for a miserable purpose, with the assurance in advance that my activity must be known tomorrow, because for sabotage you must use things and people in different parts of the country. How could it remain a secret during two months, if they acted genuinely? We read now that in Siberia, Muralov and other Trotskyites were instructed by me to commit sabotage. It was absolutely sure that my activity must be discovered in a short time. Now, then, what a road to power! I cannot understand it. Assume me to be mad, assume I have become insane and I elaborate this plan. I have to ask myself: “The Trotskyites, the alleged Trotskyites, who are the alleged agents, what is their psychology, what are their objectives, and what are their aims?” Because they must sacrifice their lives immediately and not take power. The man who is shot cannot take power and give the power to Trotsky to establish capitalism in the interests of Hitler. Anyway, a man cannot give his life for a false ideal. It must be an ideal, it must be an ideal for him. It must be a religious ideal, a political ideal, or a national ideal. But what idea could move the executors of my plan? I can’t understand it. It is the weakest point. And this weakest point is not explained. It is disregarded by the bureaucracy, the small, the little people, like Vyshinsky. They do not have any interest in asking this of the executors: What was their ideal, their program, their idea?

FINERTY: In other words, what would they get out of it?

TROTSKY: Pardon?

FINERTY: In other words, what would the leading people get out of it?

TROTSKY: Yes; what?

DEWEY: We will now take a short recess.

DEWEY: Mr. Trotsky, I would like to ask you a question which we have asked you during the direct examination. It is a very special matter of fact. On page 84 of the English translation of the official proceedings, Radek refers to a group of former leaders of the Leningrad Young Communist League who later became the leaders in the assassination of Kirov. Did you have any connection either personally or politically with the Young Communist League?

TROTSKY: The Young Communist League of the Party is a legal organization. You mean the terroristic group in Leningrad?

DEWEY: Well, he says they were the leaders of the assassination of Kirov.

TROTSKY: I did not even know the names, before I read them for the first time in the report, of these young people, of the fourteen young people who were shot in Leningrad. But it is not a league, it is only a conspiratorial group, an allegedly conspiratorial group.

DEWEY: Now, I wish to ask you a question more on the line of your theoretical position, about a question involved in the struggle of the Left Opposition. Why did the question of Socialism in one country and the world revolution become such a fundamental point of division?

TROTSKY: Because the theory of Socialism in one country signifies in our eyes the repudiation of all internationalism. We consider internationalism not as an abstract idea, but as the first interest of the workers’ movement of the world; not for the purpose of building an independent, isolated, Socialist state. Then the Russian worker would not have a vital interest in connection with the workers of other countries.

DEWEY: Was that a theoretical objection, based on general theory?

TROTSKY: Yes, theoretical, and at the same time practical, because the international policies of the Stalin Government are directed against the interests of the international proletariat. And, more than that, as I tried to explain, I believe yesterday, Stalin himself changed his position during one year.

DEWEY: That is in the record.

TROTSKY: Why? Because they substituted for Socialism – for the idea of Socialism, the régime of the solidarity of all the population – substituted for that idea the idea of the satisfied bureaucracy. They named that “Socialism in one country.” What we named deformation of the workers’ state, they named “Socialism in one country.” It was the question of the essence of Socialism itself.

DEWEY: What was your attitude on the theory of the uneven capitalistic development in different countries?

TROTSKY: It is absolutely the theory of the October Revolution. The October Revolution was the emanation of this law of uneven development, because backward ―

DEWEY: Did you at any time oppose this theory of the uneven capitalistic development?

TROTSKY: No; it is only a variety of the banal and trivial distortion of my discussion with Russia – I mean, discussion with Lenin – on the United States of Europe, during the war. The misinterpretation of this discussion tries to give the idea that I denied the unequal development. I believe one must be absolutely ignored to deny such a law.

DEWEY: You mean “ignorant.”

TROTSKY: Yes; ignorant. I am not a very skilled historian, but I know the development of Great Britain and India are very different, had a very different tempo. The same with Russia and France, and so on. How could I deny this law?

DEWEY: Now, briefly, because it is a rather specific point – one of the accusations of your being anti-Lenin is some controversy you were alleged to have had with him about the trade unions.

TROTSKY: Just this question cannot be answered briefly. (Laughter) I can only say that it was an episodic discussion. At that time, at the moment, it had importance, but only a month later Lenin and I forgot this question totally. Later, they selected everything where we were in disagreement in discussion. It was a false discussion from both sides. It was before the introduction of the New Economic Policy. Our feelings were very bad under military communism. We wished to have a change, and the discussion began on an absolutely secondary and false point. During the discussion, we arrived at the idea of the necessity of changing the whole economic policy. And then we agreed.

FINERTY: May I interject a question here? Is there, or are there, in your archives any letters from Lenin?


FINERTY: And are there any of them in the last period of his life?

TROTSKY: Yes. The last day – I think one of the last letters he wrote to me was before his second illness. They are very short, but very characteristic of his friendship.

FINERTY: They are in your archives?

TROTSKY: And also published.

LAFOLLETTE: Apropos your relations with Lenin. I have a pamphlet here, Trotsky, the Traitor, and it begins: “Lenin called Trotsky Judas, and cautioned the people repeatedly to beware of him.” Is that true?

TROTSKY: Yes; I believe in 1911 he wrote that, but not “Judas.” It is a frame-up. There is in a Russian novel the name Judushka, a personality in a Russian novel. In a polemic, he used this personality. It was not a friendly one, but it was a sharp discussion. It has nothing to do with Judas Iscariot. (Laughter) In my autobiography is published a letter of Krupskaya after the death of Lenin, which is ―

GOLDMAN: Have you the original of that in the archives?


FINERTY: Is there in existence, Mr. Trotsky, some letter of Lenin’s breaking off relations with Stalin?

TROTSKY: Yes; I read it. It is the last, or maybe before the last.

LAFOLLETTE: Next to the last.

TROTSKY: The last letter of Lenin – the last letter Lenin wrote in his life was the rupture with Stalin.

FINERTY: Is that available for the record?

TROTSKY: It is available. I don’t have the record itself, but the discussion of this in the Central Committee was taken down by stenographic report, and republished by me – the mention that this letter by Lenin existed. They took up the defense of Stalin against me, but they recognized that such a letter was written.

FINERTY: Do I understand that you actually saw such a letter?

TROTSKY: Pardon?

FINERTY: Did I understand that you actually saw such a letter?

TROTSKY: Yes; I was a little sick myself, in bed. The stenographer of Lenin came to me – a woman – with this letter. It was a letter written to Stalin. I telephoned Kamenev – they were both against me at that time, Stalin and Kamenev. I consulted with him. I asked: “What does this signify?” Kamenev was absolutely disorientated. I consulted Krupskaya by telephone, and asked her what this was. She explained that Stalin tried to surround Lenin to hinder him from having communications with the Party, under the pretext that he was too sick; that it was not advisable to give him information. And he treated with animus Krupskaya, the wife of Lenin, at this time. Lenin gave him some warning, about two or three times, and the last time he dictated this letter. And I gave the advice either to Stalin or Kamenev, to go to Krupskaya and make some ―


TROTSKY: Yes; in order to calm Lenin’s nervousness. He followed my advice, but it was too late. Lenin was unconscious.

DEWEY: Is it true that as late as May, 1917, Lenin referred to you as a vacillating petit bourgeois?

TROTSKY: 1919?

DEWEY: 1917 – as late as 1917.

TROTSKY: I can’t believe it. From that time I had the best relations with Lenin. Before, I believe yes. Lenin wrote very sympathetically on my attitude in July, when some of the Bolsheviks, and very important Bolsheviks, separated themselves from Lenin. It was after the manifestation. All the letters of Lenin in this time were of the best I could wish for me. I believe it is not correct. I don’t know what is the source.

DEWEY: It is referring to Lenin’s Collected Works, Volume 30, the Russian edition, page 331.

TROTSKY: It is absolutely impossible. It is possible that in the beginning, from abroad – we were separated from Lenin; I was in the United States and he was in Switzerland – that he wrote some sharp letter to Kollontai. No; it was before the February Revolution, not in May. It was connected with the fact that I collaborated in the United States with Bukharin, and Lenin was very dissatisfied with Bukharin at that time. He supposed that I supported Bukharin against him.

DEWEY: What year was that?

TROTSKY: It was before the February Revolution, in 1917, during my sojourn in New York. It was January or February 1917.

DEWEY: Now, a good deal is made of the point that you were not a member of the Central Committee – I mean of the five appointed in October to organize the uprising.

TROTSKY: I was not a member of this committee, because it never existed. It was only decided through the chairman of the Military Committee for the preparation of the insurrection, and the Party Central Committee decided that five members, Sverdlov, Stalin and others, must enter into the Military Committee, of which I was chairman. But even after they were in there, in the Military Committee, my situation could not be changed. I was chairman before they were appointed. But they did not enter. It was a chaotic period, a period of preparation, and the Central Committee made one decision, and itself forgot about it.

DEWEY: One question along the same line, but from a little different angle: It is plain that the controlling organization in the practical work of the insurrection of October was a Party center composed of Stalin and others around the Revolutionary Military Committee.

TROTSKY: That was invented only in 1924, when, in classifying the archives, anybody found in the archives a long before forgotten decision of the Central Committee concerning these five members. It was only in 1924.

STOLBERG: You mean “somebody.”

TROTSKY: Yes, somebody. When you, Mr. Chairman, when you read all the memories concerning the October Revolution of an honest participant like Ovseenko, or the book of John Reed – they do not show it, nor any of the people who were in the insurrection and wrote about it. It is impossible to find the name of the alleged center. I heard the name only for the first time in 1924. It did not exist at all.

DEWEY: Are you claiming that the earlier history was falsified?

TROTSKY: Absolutely.

DEWEY: Have you any documentary evidence of that?

TROTSKY: In my history of the Russian Revolution, a chapter is dedicated to this legend. I think it is a most important chapter, with all the documents,

FINERTY: May we have reference to that chapter, for the record?

TROTSKY: I read to the Commission two appreciations of Stalin himself. In 1918, on the 7th of November, he didn’t mention this center.

DEWEY: We will check that up in the documentary records.

BEALS: Mr. Trotsky, how early did the controversy in the Soviet Union begin between those who believed that the world revolution should be fomented and those who believed rather that the Soviet state – wished that the Soviet economy itself should be built up?

TROTSKY: In the beginning of 1924, Stalin himself opposed the idea of building Socialism in one country. Here, in a new work which I received from London, there is a facsimile of Stalin’s pamphlet, published April, 1924, in the Spring, denying the possibility of Socialism in one country.

BEALS: My question was: When did this controversy appear – how early, on what date?

TROTSKY: Between this statement of Stalin and his statement in the Fall of the same year.

BEALS: Was there any discussion on this change earlier?


BEALS: Wasn’t there a discussion as early as 1919 or 1920?

TROTSKY: In 1920? I never heard about it, that it was discussed. They affirm now that it was discussed between me and Lenin in 1915, but I must say briefly that it is only ignorance.

BEALS: What was the prominent theory prior to 1924 – that the world revolution should be promoted and extended –

TROTSKY: Not that. It is not a question of promoting or fomenting. These terms provoke the impression of an artificial thing. It was a more objective statement, that our revolution was only the beginning of a series of revolutions, and that only in this historical context could it be victorious. We have here in the same work, my history – I have another chapter with all the quotations from Lenin and from all the others. I don’t know if I can introduce it into evidence. All the quotations concerning this question are given in another supplementary chapter.

BEALS: We have this book in your bibliography, which you put into the record.


BEALS: We have this book in your bibliography, which you put into the record.

FINERTY: Can you give the reference to this?

DEWEY: Can you give us the reference?

TROTSKY: It is two chapters only of quotations.

BEALS: Do you know Mr. Borodin?

TROTSKY: Personally, no.

BEALS: He was in China.

TROTSKY: Maybe I met him one or two times, but I didn’t know he was Borodin. I knew him as a political personality.

BEALS: He came secretly to Mexico toward the end of 1919 or toward the early part of 1920.


BEALS: He founded the first Communist Party in Mexico. He at that time made the statement that he was an emissary of yours.

TROTSKY: Of mine? At that time I was in my military train. I forgot all the world geography except the geography of the front.

BEALS: The reason I ask that is, that at that time he stated there was a controversy along these lines in the Soviet Union.

TROTSKY: May I ask the source of this sensational communication? It is published – no?

BEALS: It is not published.

TROTSKY: I can only give the advice to the Commissioner to say to his informant that he is a liar.

BEALS: Thank you, Mr. Trotsky. Mr. Borodin is the liar.

TROTSKY: Yes; it is very possible.

GOLDMAN: I want one question cleared up on a certain thing. Mr. Beals might be led to misunderstand. He asked about when the struggle started between those who believed in fomenting world revolution and those who believed in building up Soviet economy. That might indicate that you did not believe in building Soviet economy. Is that correct?

TROTSKY: Building Soviet economy is a tendentious Stalinist formula. I cannot believe that a member of the Commission can employ such tendentious formulae.

BEALS: I mean when the controversy, when it was decided to build up Soviet economy and attempt to live completely through compromise with the capitalist nations ―

TROTSKY: Excuse me. I didn’t mean to place on you the incorrect formula, which is of Stalinist origin. Rut the genuine formula, corresponding to fact, is not invented by the Stalinist bureaucracy and the CI. The question was not building up Soviet economy, or not. I was among the first to propose industrialization and a five-year plan, but it was not for replacing the world movement. It was our economic duty in our borders, and at the same time also to work as a Communist International in the world arena. The question is whether it is sufficient only to remain in our borders and to turn our back upon the world movement.

BEALS: This is merely a prelude to one question, which is:

To what extent, when you were part of the Soviet Government, did you attempt to promote or inspire revolutionary activities in other countries?

TROTSKY: I answered this question. The Comintern was created for the purpose. I believe that the Comintern – it is the Communist International; it is a party, a world party, in order to guide the proletariat to victory, to revolutionary victory.

BEALS: I understand that.

TROTSKY: Yes; I am absolutely sure. I was myself a participant also in the Comintern. It was not my own creation. It was the creation of the Party. The chairman of the Comintern was Zinoviev. The genuine inspirer of the Comintern was Lenin. I was one of the collaborators with Lenin and Zinoviev at this time, concerning the work of the Comintern.

DEWEY: We will go on tomorrow morning. It is a little after seven. We will continue again tomorrow morning at ten o’clock.

End of Eleventh Session – seven o’clock p.m.

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Last updated on: 1.4.2007