Written: 1 October 1927
First Published: The New International, Vol.1 No.4, November 1934, pp.123-124.
Translated: By The New International.
Transcription/HTML Markup: David Walters.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2002. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.
This transcription comes from the same edition of The New International, the theoretical journal of the Communist League of America, the US Section of the International Left Opposition, that another joint letter by G. Yevdokimov, G. Zinoviev, I. Smilga, I. Bakayev, all “Old Bolsheviks” as well as Trotsky, is also printed, the The Opposition and the Wrangel Officer. Read together they give the reader an idea of state of party “democracy” in 1927 at the time of the expulsion of the Left Opposition by the Stalin faction of the Communist Party.
To the Central Committee
To the Central Control Commission
To the Executive Committee of the Communist International
Rumors emanating from the tops are circulating in the party about the connection between the Oppositionists and a Wrangel officer, and a White Guard conspiracy. Who is circulating these rumors? and what for?
For two years no party congress has been called. Some 200 old Bolsheviks including 13 members of the Central Committee and the Control Commission have prepared a platform for the fifteenth congress in which they subjected to criticism the policies of the Central Committee on the workers’ question, on the peasant, industrial, and national questions, on questions of the international policies of the Comintern, and the internal party régime. But upon the motion of Stalin, the Political Bureau has banned the platform of the Bolshevik-Leninists (Opposition) at a time when it was duty bound to print the platform for the information of the entire party. The district conferences for the election of delegates to the fifteenth congress have been set for the end of October, almost for the entire USSR. Yet it is promised that the so-called “discussion” will be permitted only beginning with November 1, i.e. after the election of delegates to the congress. Isn’t this trickery? Isn’t this faking a congress? Actions of this sort grind under heel our party statutes; they are an unheard-of blow to the congress and the party. We, Oppositionists, i.e., Bolshevik-Leninists, will spread our platform with all our might and main and by all the means at our disposal. And that is just what we said at the Political Bureau and the CCC presidium.
Fourteen irreproachable party members undertook to reprint the platform on typewriters, mimeographs, etc. They were subjected to raids by the GPU. The CCC has expelled twelve of them out of the party. Everywhere expulsions are taking place.
But this time mere expulsion, exile, removal from posts and so on proved insufficient for the directors of the entire machinery. Neither the calumny about “agents of Chamberlain” nor the calumny about the “second party” helped. Alarmed, they said to themselves: “Suppose the party wants to find out what sort of platform it is for the sake of which old and good party members who passed through the fires of struggle are sacrificing themselves! Is it true that it is an anti-party platform? Lenin once said that whoever does not demand documents but takes somebody’s word in party controversies is a hopeless idiot. We do not wish to be idiots. Hand over the platform to us.” Should the party demand the platform, it would get it. Should it get it, it would see from the platform that the Opposition, in the struggle against the Stalinist leadership, defends to the last genuine proletarian interests and Lenin’s work. At the tenth congress Lenin said outright that if there were serious differences in the party, the “elections will have to proceed on the basis of platforms” and that “we have no power to forbid this.” (Tenth Congress Minutes, p.292)
That is why the most rascally retainers of the apparatus have decided to fling such an accusation against the platform as would scare the party, compel it to draw aside, give it no opportunity to listen to any arguments or convictions and put through “the elections” for the fifteenth congress under orders from the apparatus tops.
It is with this aim in mind that the dishonest accusation of the connection between the Oppositionist “printing plant” and a White Guard military conspiracy was put forward. Every party member is duty bound to be completely informed on this question.
On September 13, the OGPU sent a communication to the CCC stating that the Bolsheviks who were working in the Opposition “printing plant” turned out to be connected through a non-party man with a Wrangel officer, who in his turn turned out to be involved with a military conspiracy, having as its aim the achievement of an overturn in the USSR “in the immediate future”. The secretariat of the CCC approved the activities of the OGPU that was raiding communists who were supposedly members of a “counter-revolutionary organization”. On September 22, the Political Bureau and the presidium of the CCC transmitted to the entire party a special communication to the effect that the Opposition workers who were printing our preconference platform were presumably in communication with a counter-revolutionary conspirator. This communication has been and is being read in all the nuclei, including those in the most forsaken corners of our country. Rumors about “connections” between the Opposition and a military conspiracy are ever spreading wider among the non-party men. What is this unheard-of accusation based upon? On the fact that one of the workers in the Opposition “printing plant” presumably spoke with a Wrangel officer about a mimeograph. That is how the GPU presents the case.
On September 23, comrades Zinoviev, Smilga, and Peterson (Oppositionists) addressed a letter to the CC and to all party organizations, in which they asked, “Who is this Wrangel officer? What’s his name? Why is it being covered up? Has he been arrested?”
Only under the lash of these questions did the chairman of the GPU supply written information that the so-called Wrangel officer was merely an OGPU agent who had been utilized on more than one occasion to expose White Guard conspiracies. Thus, the entire communication about the Wrangel officer and about the connection between the “printing plant” and military conspiracy turned out to be a lie and trick—a lie against the Opposition, a trick played on the party. The only conclusion that follows from the facts reported by the OGPU itself is the following: One and the same OGPU agent was keeping under surveillance conspirators and communists who were preparing the platform of the Bolshevik-Leninists (Opposition) for the fifteenth congress. The party nuclei were led astray with malice aforethought. Without being aware and without suspecting it they passed resolutions on the basis of trickery and of fraud. The question of the military conspiracy has no connection whatever with the printing of the Oppositionist platform of the Bolshevik-Leninists. This was fully established during the trial of those who participated in the so-called Oppositionist printing plant. None of the accusers of the CCC referred by so much as a single word to the connection with the military conspiracy. This lie was based on the fact that the OGPU agent was presented to the party as a conspirator.
But that is not all there is to the matter. According to the GPU communication it was the Wrangel officer, i.e., in reality a GPU agent, who was the contact between the Opposition printing plant and some sort of a military conspiracy. In their letter to the CC, comrades Zinoviev, Smilga and Peterson asked, “who was supposed to perpetrate this military overturn in the immediate future? Which group? Which organization? Which individuals?”
In answer to these questions we were merely told that the matter was still being investigated.
But since the investigation was just being made it would seem that one should wait until its conclusion. Our motion to form an investigating committee with Opposition members of the CC and the CCC participating was rejected. Calumny runs ahead without waiting for any investigations.
Who was the source of the information about the military organization? One Tverskoi, a non-party man connected in no way either with the Opposition or with the printing of the platform, Whom did Tverskoi inform about the military conspiracy? An agent of the GPU. Up to this point everything seems to be in order. From this it follows that Tverskoi, having become cognizant of a military conspiracy of counter-revolutionists, did what every honest Soviet citizen should do, i.e., he informed the GPU. But what did the GPU do? It transmitted the information of Tverskoi to the CCC as proof of the connection between the Bolshevik Oppositionists and the counter-revolutionary conspirators. The secretariat of the CC applied the information of Tverskoi to the papers dealing with the printing of the platform.
But what is the essence of Tverskoi’s information concerning the preparation for “the military overturn in the USSR in the immediate future”
Citing a certain citizeness who in turn quotes another citizen, and so on, Tverskoi says, “Among military circles there exists a movement at the head of which are comrades Trotsky and Kamenev, obviously a military, movement ... This organization is active. No mention was made that this organization proposed to make an overturn, but this was self-understood.”
As is evident from the communication of the OGPU itself, Tverskoi on his own initiative supplied an OGPU agent with the information that he had heard at third or fourth hand about the existence of a military “movement” at the head of which are, it appears, Trotsky and Kamenev. And which communists are members of the counter-revolutionary organization? Perhaps those printing the platform? No. The presidium of the CCC itself categorically rejected this accusation. But what communists are spoken of then? Is it Trotsky perhaps? Tverskoi names Trotsky and only Trotsky. But the investigators of this dirty business are evidently not yet ready to put into circulation this second and much more peppery dish—regarding a military conspiracy headed by Trotsky! Evidently, they consider that the hour for this has not yet struck.
The OGPU has passed off its agent for a counter-revolutionist in order to justify raiding communists. The secretariat of the CCC approved the behavior of the OGPU on the basis of Yaroslavsky’s report concerning the supposed participation of communists in a counter-revolutionary organization. The Political Bureau issued a communication on this subject. Who is guilty of trickery in this matter? And who is being tricked? Who perpetrated this fraud? And what for? Who set this poisoned accusation in circulation in the party?
All threads lead to Stalin. Without his consent, approval and encouragement, no one would have ever dared to throw into the party ranks fraudulent accusations about the participation of Opposition communists in a counter-revolutionary organization.
What Stalin is perpetrating on a large scale is being repeated locally on a small scale. Dull-witted functionaries or scoundrelly careerists raise at party and nonparty meetings the following poisoned question: And where is the Opposition obtaining funds for its activity? These contemptible slanderers are evidently not aware that our party grew up on the self-sacrifice and heroism of its members and not upon moneys collected from the side-lines.
In Stalingrad Putnin, the former secretary of District Committee, accused worker-Oppositionists of selling state secrets and that with gun in hand they compelled communists to keep mum about the activities of the Opposition. Such and similar filth is being spread during meetings and given publication in time press. They are being spread among ever wider party and non-party circles.
All our attempts to stem this dirty tide of slander and to obtain an honest principled and sober discussion have led to nothing as yet. Our demand that the slander be denied about the connection between the Opposition and the military conspiracy was rejected. The myth about “the Wrangel officer” is being broadcast through the land, poisoning the minds of a million party members and tens of millions of nonparty men. There is one aim, and one aim only: to screen the political bankruptcy of Stalin, to blacken the Opposition, to terrorize the party, break off the discussion, and pack the fifteenth congress. Such is the situation at the present moment.
Only the party itself can lead our party from the Stalinist quagmire onto the open road. The party must judge; the party must decide. Put all the documents on the party table! Whoever in party controversies demands no documents but takes somebody’s word, is a hopeless idiot. The most important document at the present moment is the Platform of the Bolshevik-Leninists (Opposition).
Shame upon those who seek to hide their political bankruptcy behind the back of a fake Wrangel officer!
Put the platform of the Opposition before the party!
Long live the free and honest internal party discussion of disputed questions!
Down with cheating, fraud, slander, persecution, terrorization, expulsions, and exclusions
Long live the fifteenth congress, honestly convoked!
Long live CPSU (Bolshevik), the one and only party of the proletarian dictatorship.
G. Yevdokimov, G. Zinoviev, I. Smilga, I. Bakayev, L. Trotsky
Moscow, October 4, 1927
Last updated on: 15.4.2007