Stalin Reassures Hitler
on Trotsky’s ‘Return’


Written: Summer 1933.
Source: The Militant, Vol. VI No. 40, 26 August 1933, p. 3.
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.

Two or three weeks ago, the official Soviet news agency, TASS, denied the rumor that Trotsky is returning to the USSR. The solemn and categorical tone of this denial gave cause to believe that the Kremlin was pursuing some important political aim. But not in the field of internal politics, for neither the denial nor the newspaper rumor against which it was directed, was published in the U.S.S.R. The denial was intended fully and exclusively for foreign consumption.

The sense of this denial will become sufficiently clear when it la recalled that about two years ago Trotsky wrote on the necessity of preparing the Red Army for a struggle against National Socialism. This article, not even mentioned in the U.S.S.R., found in its time a loud echo in the National-Socialist press. We know with what demonstrative friendliness the Stalinist bureaucracy received Hitler’s coming to power. Izvestia wrote: “The public opinion of the Soviet Union has never entertained any plans, directed against the present current in Germany”. These words signified nothing short of a demonstrative disassociation from Trotsky. Can there be any doubt that the article in Izvestia was written after a corresponding diplomatic inquiry from Berlin and that it had as its purpose to convince Hitler that Moscow holds unansweringly to the doctrine of socialism in one country?

At the time TASS published abroad the categorical statement that Trotsky “will not return” to the U.S.S.R., the Berlin paper, Vossische Zeitung, directed an official inquiry to Trotsky through its Constantinople correspondent as to whether he is really returning to Russia. The very fact of the inquiry seems unexpected and at the same time very significant, especially if the fact is taken into consideration that the Vossische Zeitung is now completely in the hands of the Nazis. Hitler simply ordered the former liberal paper, through its former liberal correspondent, to check up on the newspaper rumor of the coming return of Trotsky to Moscow and of the corresponding change in the external policy of the Soviets.

Thus, we see that Hitler and Stalin played a two handed game in this question. At first it might have been thought that the rumor of Trotsky’s return arose accidentally, as happens with many newspaper rumors. But linking together all the stages of the question in retrospect, it is not difficult to assume that the rumor itself was spread by the Berlin department of “propaganda” with the aim of forcing Stalin to a degrading denial and assurances. This aim, at any rate, has been achieved.

L’Humanité, which, like the rest of the Stalinist press in the West, does not let pass an opportunity to disgrace itself, has seized upon the denial of TASS in order to burst into a rude attack upon Trotsky, blaming him for having spread the rumor of his return to the U.S.S.R. himself – for what purpose? Thus, these miserable bureaucratic blind men serve at every step as tools of foreign aims and under the pretence of serving the revolution, compromise and weaken it.


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Last updated on: 22 October 2015