L. Trotsky

What’s Happened to Rakovsky?

(May 1933)

Written: 25 May 1933.
Source: The Militant, Vol. VI No. 30, 10 June 1933, p. 1.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Trotsky Internet Archive.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2015. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.

The question of the fate of Rakovsky is enveloped in a tragic mystery. It may be stated with certainty that Rakovsky is no longer at Barnaul, the locality of his former deportation. Basing oneself upon information from two different sources, one Oppositional and the other “official”, that is, connected with the Stalinists, it may be stated with certainty that Rakovsky, ill, was brought from Barnaul to Moscow. The Oppositional source also communicated that Rakovsky had died in the Kremlin hospital. According to the “official” source, Rakovsky is said to have undergone an operation and to have been cured. Through l’Humanité, Stalin denied in an obscure manner the report of Rakovsky’s death. Nevertheless, the leading circles say nothing about his subsequent fate. A well-known telegram of the Reuter Agency, sent from Moscow, said that “Rakovsky is practising medicine in the Yakutsk district.” Reuter could not have invented that: it undoubtedly got the tip in Moscow. How should these facts be tied together? The transportation of Rakovsky from Barnaul to the Kremlin hospital would indicate, it seems, an extraordinary attention paid him. In that case, then, why was Rakovsky, after the operation, not only not sent to the Southern region as the doctors have been demanding for some time now, nor returned to Barnaul, but was instead deported to the Polar Circle, that is, under conditions which are fatal for him? We have no information to explain this contradiction. We are obliged to expound a hypothesis which requires verification. In any case, it seems to us today to flow from the whole situation.

Rakovsky’s illness coincided in point of time with a new wave of anti-Trotskyist fury on the one hand, and with the negotiations behind the scenes which led to the latest capitulation of Zinoviev and Kamenev, on the other. Prom the content of the declarations of Zinoviev and Kamenev it is clear how badly” Stalin stands in need of authoritative witnesses against the Left Opposition. It is hard to state that the Stalinists utilized Rakovsky’s illness to extort from him some declaration or other. It is probably towards this end that Rakovsky was brought to the privileged Kremlin hospital, that is, was accorded conditions which are beyond the dreams of a deportee. The operation, as is reported, was successfully accomplished. Then – and this is quite in harmony with the character of Stalin – the latter must have presented Rakovsky with a political bill to settle. Rakovsky – and this is quite in harmony with his character – must have indignantly spurned the reckoning presented him. That is why the old warrior did not return to Barnaul, but was thrown under the Polar Circle.

We can find no other explanation. The Stalinists have every possibility of denying our hypothesis. We will await the denial with impatience, or perhaps our hypothesis is too ... optimistic, and the Stalinists will find it more to their advantage to remain silent.

Prinkipo, May 25, 1933

L. Trotsky

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Last updated on: 3 September 2015