Leon Trotsky

Letter to Alois Neurath

(June 1932)

Written: 14 June 1932.
First Published: From The New International, Vol. 4 No. 2, February 1938, pp. 56–58.
Translated: By The New International.
Transcription/HTML Markup: David Walters.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2003. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

DEAR Comrade Neurath:

... Now to Brandler’s letter. He is correct that my signature stands below the theses of Radek and Piatakov, which do not rightly reflect my views on the events, and which, in many parts, are perhaps opposite to them. (Unfortunately I do not have the text.) How did this become possible?

The plenum of the Executive was convoked towards the end of 1923, when the revolutionary situation in Germany had already been hopelessly missed. I was ill and was in the country, about 40 kilometers from Moscow. The German delegates (I remember Remmele, Koenen – but there were 5 or 6 of them) came to me in the country in order to learn my opinion on the situation. All of them, like Brandler for that matter, were of the opinion that the revolutionary situation would grow continuously sharper and break out in the immediate future. I considered this position catastrophic for the fate of the party and placed this question above all the others. Zinoviev, like the Russian Political Bureau as a whole, confirmed the course towards the armed uprising in Germany. I could only regard this as disastrous. Radek called me on the telephone from Moscow at the last hour with the query if I would be prepared to support his theses with my name. The telephonic conversation took place half an hour before Radek’s appearance at the plenum. I replied to him: “If your theses openly assert that the German situation is in a state of ebb and not of flow and that it is necessary to make a corresponding strategical turn, then I am ready to support your theses without having read them.” There was no longer any other practical possibility. Upon Radek’s assurance that this opinion was very clearly expressed in the theses, I gave my name over the telephone. At the same time, however, I insured myself by the fact that I had very precisely formulated my conceptions of the German situation, its phases of development and its perspectives, in a series of articles and reports. My attitude towards the Radek theses may be deemed correct or false. An outsider, who neither knows the circumstances nor had read my writings of the period, can of course be led into confusion by my signature to the theses of Radek (who had to defend himself, too, and thereby also Brandler). But Brandler knows the circumstances very well and when he refers to Radek’s theses, it is deliberately misleading on his part.

I must however add that in the Russian Central Committee I personally protected Brandler, because I was always against the policy of scape-goats. But that this goat has the inclination to leap to the right – on that score I had no illusions even then. What completely disqualifies Brandler politically in my eyes, is his attitude towards the Chinese revolution and the Anglo-Russian Committee.

While Brandler is formally in the right with regard to the Radek theses, I cannot, however, at all understand what he means when he says that in 1926 I offered him, Brandler, a testimonial from Zinoviev on his, Brandler’s, strategical flawlessness. I learn of this story now for the first time. Was it in writing? Was it oral? As I recall, I had neither written nor oral contact with Brandler in 1926. I scarcely got to see him at all in that period. Radek, to be sure, oscillated between the Left Opposition and Brandler. He had doubts concerning the economic questions and referred constantly to the authority of Brandler as an official of the VSNK (Supreme Economic Council). Brandler asserted that an accelerated industrialization was impossible. During the working out of the Platform, Zinoviev put the demand that Radek must abandon his ambiguous attitude towards Brandlerian opportunism. I supported this proposal with the greatest readiness and we put a friendly ultimatum to Radek. He begged for 24 to 48 hours for reflection. It occurs to me now that he may have utilized this time to win Brandler for our Platform. This is a belated hypothesis of mine, but it is also the only explanation of Brandler’s muddled contention. That our bloc with Zinoviev was unprincipled, I cannot admit for a single instant. The principled basis of the bloc was our Platform, which I regard to this day as the most important programmatic document of post-Leninist Bolshevism.

How the Brandlerites regarded Trotskyism in 1923, is shown by the enclosed review from the Rote Fahne. A German comrade recently sent me the interesting document. The Rote Fahne was at that time in the hands of the Brandlerites (Böttcher and Thalheimer). I assume that Thalheimer wrote the review. Brandler, at the very least, tolerated it. I do not want to dwell upon the inaccuracies in the review. I did not stand at the left wing of the Mensheviks. From 1904 to 1917 I was organizationally outside of both factions and never called myself a Menshevik. But that’s neither here nor there at the moment. You know, moreover, what proposal the Brandlerite Central Committee unanimously made to me as late as September 1923. [1] The most fateful matters were involved, and the proposal was motivated accordingly. – But that’s enough on the matter for the moment.


Buyukada, June 14, 1932



1. The Central Committee of the German Communist Party asked the Political Bureau of the Russian party to send Trotsky to Germany in a capacity which would have meant, in effect, that he direct the impending insurrection. Zinoviev, offended at not having been proposed, stood in the way, offered various pretexts for not concurring in the German request; and, together with Stalin and Kamenev (they were the then ruling trio) nominated Piatakov for the mission.

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Last updated on: 23.12.2013