Assassins at Large. Hugo Dewar 1951


A whole series of political assassinations and of kidnappings in which the victims are never traced is herein recorded for the first time. In each case the victim was an actual or potential opponent of Stalin. These people incurred his hostility because he considered that they represented a challenge to his power. The antecedents of all the victims establish the motive and reveal the red thread uniting all the crimes. In some cases the hallmark of the GPU is clearly visible; in others the evidence is circumstantial; but a common purpose links them all. No single case would constitute proof of an organised and systematic plan of political assassination carried out by international agents directed from one centre. Even the murder of Leon Trotsky, considered in isolation, might be explained as the more or less independently executed act of an individual materially and morally supported by a section of the Communist Party, but not necessarily involving the GPU. But the cases are too numerous, too widespread, the technical resources and financial expenditure required too great, the common political motivation too strong for them not to have been part of an organised whole. The pieces fit to a pattern; there is here nothing accidental; there is an aim ruthlessly pursued, a plan, a singleness of purpose.

The heyday of these international activities of the GPU was in the years 1937 and 1938. This was a reflection, with a certain time-lag, of the intensified activities, on the home front, which severely dislocated the espionage organisation and caused defections among Soviet representatives abroad. Advantage was also taken of the occasion to deal with other enemies. The close connection between the purges in Russia (where known or suspected enemies of the regime were destroyed in some instances by means of public ‘trials’, in others without benefit of trial, and the clandestine little purges abroad, was openly admitted by the Soviet authorities in statements on the political situation in Spain during the Civil War there. In Spain an attempt was even made to supplement secret murder with a ‘Moscow Trial’. The GPU’s judicial murders in Russia differ only in form from those carried out abroad. And the real ruler of Russia, the GPU, today uses the same means, kidnappings, murders and ‘confessional’ trials, to consolidate its power in Eastern Europe. All these events constitute an organic whole; they are by no means isolated, disconnected, haphazard occurrences, but an integral element of the governmental system. The Soviet Government does not today hesitate to more or less openly call upon its supporters in Yugoslavia to assassinate Tito, and there can be absolutely no doubt at all that the GPU is at this very moment straining every nerve to effect this.

The Soviet Union presents the world with a challenge not only military, political and economic, but also moral. If the material civilisation of the West is higher than that of the world behind the Iron Curtain, so should its ethical standards be higher. Yet there are signs indicating that the immorality of Soviet politics has begun to communicate its rottenness to public thinking in the West. The question may therefore be anticipated – What does it matter if in this, that or the other land a White Russian general, an exiled Russian economist, the unknown secretary of an obscure extremist political sect, an anarchist professor, a former GPU agent repentant of his past, a Communist desirous of breaking from the net, a Polish socialist, a Catholic priest, a Protestant pastor – what does it matter if such people are assassinated, abducted, railroaded in a frame-up trial? These people are not of our faith. A plague on all their houses. Quite well-intentioned persons may possibly take up such an attitude, although they are unlikely to express it so plainly. Others may feel concerned at one injustice, perpetrated on a co-religionist or a co-thinker, but shrug their shoulders at a similar injustice affecting someone for whose ideas they have no sympathy. Once treasured concepts of liberty; the right of the individual to disagree with those in authority; the inviolability of the personality and the person, appear to be losing some of their validity. More and more people are becoming infected with a rabid ‘anti-Communism’ that makes them blind to fair-play. Thus, for example, one cannot avoid the suspicion that the fate of Noel Field is a matter of some indifference to American public opinion, because this man was a Communist. The same suspicion arises in the case of Dr Edith Bone, a holder of a British passport, a document once ensuring the protection of its possessor when travelling abroad. In these particular instances we may well be mistaken, but this does not alter the general argument; there is a marked lack of energetic agitation on behalf of the victims of the GPU in Eastern Europe today. In seeking to maintain, deepen and strengthen the idea that the individual citizen has certain inalienable rights, one cannot afford to draw distinctions along party or any other lines. Those who do so merely play into the hands of those who seek to justify and extend secret police methods of government. A principle is either valid at any given time in all circumstances, or it ceases to be a principle. A person accused of any crime is entitled to a fair trial, be he Communist, Catholic, Conservative or Anarchist.

The gravest charge that can be brought against the Soviet Government is that it has corrupted and made an instrument of its power politics what was once part of the world labour movement. It has made the Communist Parties recruiting grounds for its world espionage network and made their leaders servants of the GPU, willing and ready to defend its vilest actions. These parties defend the interests of the totalitarian rulers of Russia alone, not the interests of working men and women, either of Russia or any other land, and if it should sometimes appear that these interests coincide, that is purely fortuitous, a matter of expediency. Overnight the Communist Party will turn right-about-face at a word from its master. It has done so more than once; it will do so again if need be. This party has forfeited any right to be regarded as part of the working-class movement.

But that does not mean one ought to apply two standards of justice; that against the Communists the same methods should be used as they use themselves; that one should descend to utilising their common stock-in-trade of lies, deceit and double-dealing; that one should fall back upon police repression, economic persecution and the like. To do so would be to admit ourselves on a level with countries that have not yet abandoned the cruelties and barbarities of the feudal age, as we have largely done.

Because in our thinking too there linger relics of the past, this problem inevitably gives rise to two main schools of thought: those who approach it from the viewpoint of the bureaucrat and those who do so from the viewpoint of the democrat. The former has no faith in ideas as forces making for social change; does not believe that the truth must inevitably prevail; looks to a social Úlite to govern, and rejects the wisdom of the people. These are the Western counterpart of the bureaucratic rulers of Russia and its satellites. They reached the height of their power in the West in the regime of Hitler. The latter are all those for whom the voice of the people is truly a call to be heeded; all those who understand that progress is not imposed from above by decree; that error is not extirpated by fire and sword; that principle and not expediency must govern all political action, and that, in the battle to remould the world nearer to the heart’s desire, the truth alone provides a weapon that will not break in the hand that wields it.

This exposure of the role of the GPU in international affairs aims to shatter the lie that the Soviet Union stands at the head of the march of human progress. The facts set forth will help towards an understanding of the truth that lies behind the curtain of illusion.