Leon Trotsky

Pages From Trotsky’s Journal

Written: December 1936-January 1937
First Published: Fourth International, Vol. 2 No. 5, June 1941, pp.150-154.
Translated: By Fourth International.
Transcription/HTML Markup: David Walters.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2008. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

NOTE: The following pages consist of excerpts from the journal kept by Leon Trotsky during December 1936 and January 1937. The journal deals with the main events in his life during this period: the Zinoviev-Kamenev trial, his internment in Norway, his voyage to Mexico and the second Moscow Trial of RadekPiatakov. Aside from their intrinsic interest, Trotsky’s ybservations are remarkable for their precise anticipation of his death at the hands of Stalin’s assassin three and a half years later.

“lie seeks to strike, not at the ideas of his opponent, but at his skull” In these prophetic words Trotsky branded in advance not only his killer Jacson but Jacson’s master, Stalin.

These excerpts formed part of Trotsky’s book, “The Crimes of Stalin,” which was published in 1937 in French but has not in its entirety been translated into English.—The Editors.

Departure from Norway

December 28, 1936.

These lines are being written aboard the Norwegian oil tanker Ruth, sailing from Oslo to Mexico, with the port of destination as yet unknown. Yesterday we passed the Azores. For the first few days the sea was agitated; it was difficult to write. I avidly read books about Mexico. Our planet is so tiny but we know so little about it! After the Ruth left the straits and turned to the southwest, the waters of the ocean became calmer and calmer and I could now busy myself with setting in order my notes on our stay in Norway and my deposition in (the Norwegian) court. Thus the first eight days were spent in intensive work and in speculations about mysterious Mexico.

Ahead of us are not less than twelve days’ sailing. We are accompanied by a Norwegian police officer, Jonas Lie, who at one time served in the Saar district, under the jurisdiction of the League of Nations. At the table we make a foursome: the Captain, the police officer, my wife and I. There are no other passengers. The sea is extraordinarily calm for this season of the year. Behind are four months of captivity. Ahead-the ocean and the unknown. However, on the ship we still remain under the “protection” of the Norwegian flag, in the status, that is, of prisoners. We are not permitted to use the radio. Our revolvers remain in the custody of the police officer, our neighbor at the dinner table. The conditions for landing in Mexico are being arranged by radio without our knowledge. The socialist government does not trifle when the principles of.. . internment are involved!

In the elections, held shortly prior to our departure, the Labor Party obtained a considerable increase in votes. Konrad Knudsen, against whom all the bourgeois parties combined for being my “accomplice” and who was hardly defended from attacks by his own party, was elected by an impressive majority. In this was expressed an indirect vote of confidence in me.. Having obtained the support of the population who voted against the reactionary attacks upon the right of asylum, the government, as is proper, proceeded to trample decisively upon this right so as to curry favor with reaction. The mechanics of parliameritarianism is wholly constructed upon such quid pro quo between the electorate and the electors.

The Norwegians are justly proud of Ibsen, their national poet. Thirty-five years ago Ibsen was my literary love. One of my earliest articles was devoted to him. In a democratic jail, in the poet’s native land, I once again re-read his dramas.

A great deal in them seems nowadays naive and old fashioned. But how many pre-war poets are there who have completely withstood the test of time? All of history prior to 1914 appears to be soft-headed and provincial. But on the whole Ibsen seemed to me fresh, and, in his northern freshness, attractive. I re-read “An Enemy of the People” with particular satisfaction. Ibsen’s hatred of Protestant bigotry, provincial sottishness, and stiff-laced hypocrisy became more comprehensible and closer to me after my acquaintance with the first socialist government in the poet’s native land.

“There are any number of ways of interpreting Ibsen,” said in his own defense the Minister of justice, as he descended upon me in Sundby with an unexpected call.

“Whatever the interpretation, he will be always found against you. Recall the Burgomaster Stockmann...”

“Do you imply that I am Stockmann?”

“To make out the best case for you, Mr. Minister: Your government has all the vices but none of the virtues of a bourgeois government.”

Notwithstanding their literary flavor, our conversations were not remarkable for excessive courtesy. When Dr. Stockmann, the brother of the Burgomaster, came to a conclusion that the prosperity of his native town was based upon infected mineral baths, the Burgomaster had him dismissed from service; the columns of the newspapers were closed to him; his fellow citizens proclaimed him an enemy of the people. “Now we shall see,” exclaims the doctor, “whether baseness and cowardice can stop the mouth of a free and honest man.” I had my own reasons for repeating this quotation against my socialist jailors.

“We committed a stupidity by granting you a visa!” I was unceremoniously told by the Minister of Justice in the middle of December.

“And, are you preparing to rectify this stupidity by means of a crime?” I replied, repaying frankness with frank- ness. “You are behaving towards me in the same way that Noske and Scheidemann behaved toward Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. You are paving the road for fascism. If the workers of Spain and France don’t save you, you and your colleagues will be emigres in a few years like your predeces- sors, the German Social Democrats.” All this was true enough. But the key to our prison remained in the hands of Burgo- master Stockmann.

I did not entertain any great hopes about the possibility of finding a haven in some other country. Democratic countries ward themselves against the danger of dictatorships by this, that they borrow certain worst aspects of the latter. For revolutionists the so-called “right” of asylum has long been converted from a right into a question of indulgence. Coupled with this were: the Moscow trial [The first of the Moscow frame-ups, that of Zinovey-Kamenev et al., in August 1936.] and my internment in Norway.

It is not hard to understand how welcome a piece of news was the cable from the New World stating that the Government of distant Mexico would extend to us its hospitality. There loomed a way out of Norway and the impasse. On the way back from court, I said to the police officer accompanying me: “Kindly inform the government that my wife and I are ready to depart from Norway at the earliest possible moment. However, before applying for a Mexican visa I should like to make arrangements for a safe voyage. I must consult my friends-the deputy Konrad Knudsen, the director of the National Theatre in Oslo, Haakon Meyer, and the German emigre, Walter Held. With their assistance I shall be able to secure an escort, and to assure the safety of my archives.” The Minister of justice who arrived on the following day in Sundby, chaperoned by three of the highest police officials, was obviously staggered by the extremism of my requests. “Even in Czarist jails,” I told him, “the exiles were allowed to see their relatives or friends in order to arrange their personal affairs.”

“Yes, yes,” replied the Minister of justice philosophically, ’but times have changed...” He refrained, however, from specifying in greater detail the difference between the times.

On the 18th of December the Minister once again made his appearance but only to announce that I had been refused the visits, that the Mexican visa had been obtained without my participation (how this was done remains a mystery to this day); and that tomorrow my wife and I would be deposited on the freighter Ruth, on which we would have the ship’s infirmary. I will not conceal that when we parted I did not give the Minister my hand... It would be unfair not to mention that the government was able to pursue its course only by directly violating the judgment and the conscience of the party. And they thus came in conflict with the liberal or merely conscientious representatives of the administration and the magistracy, and found themselves compelled to rely upon the most reactionary section of the bureaucracy. At all events, the police ardor of Niegorsvold did not arouse any enthusiasm among the workers. I take the opportunity here to mention with respect and gratitude the efforts of such worthy activists in the labor movement as OIav Schello, Konrad Knudsen, Haakon Meyer to effect a change in the government’s policy. I cannot but take this occasion to mention once again the name of Helge Krog who found words of passionate indignation to stigmatize the conduct of the Norwegian authorities.

In addition to a night of anxiety, we had only a few hours in which to pack our belongings and books. Not one of our numerous migrations ever took place in such an atmosphere of feverish haste, such feeling of utter isolation, uncertainty, and suppressed indignation. Amid the helter-skelter, my wife and I would exchange glances from time to time. What does it all mean? What lies behind it? And each of us would rush off again with a bundle of our possessions or a packet of papers. “Mightn’t it be a trap on the part of the government?” my wife asked. “I hardly think so,” I replied with none too great assurance. On the veranda policemen, with pipes clenched in their teeth, were nailing down the book cases. Over the fiord, fog was gathering.

Our departure was surrounded with greatest secrecy. In order to divert attention from the impending journey a false dispatch was issued to the papers to the effect that we were shortly to be transferred elsewhere. The government was also afraid that I would refuse to depart and that the G.P.U. would succeed in planting an infernal machine on the ship. My wife and I could by no means consider the latter fear as unfounded. Our own security coincided in this instance with the security of a Norwegian vessel and its crew.

On board the Ruth we were met with curiosity but without the slightest animosity. The elderly shipowner arrived. On his polite initiative we were assigned not to the semi-dark infirmary with its three cots and without a table, as had been for some unknown reason ordained by the ever vigilant government, but to a comfortable cabin of the shipowner himself, which adjoined the captain’s quarters. Thus I obtained the possibility of working during the voyage...

All this notwithstanding, we carried away with us warm remembrances of the marvelous land of forests and fords, of the snow beneath the January sun, skis and sleighs, children with china-blue eyes, corn-colored hair, and of the slightly morose and slow-moving but serious and honest people. Norway, good-bye!

An Instructive Episode

December 30

The greater part of the journey lies behind. The captain surmises that we will be in Vera Cruz on January 8, provided the ocean does not deprive us of its benignity. The 8th or the 10th, does it really matter? Aboard the ship all is tranquil. There are no Moscow cables, and the air seems doubly pure. We are in no hurry. But it is time to return to the trial

It is astounding how persistent Zinoviev was, as he pulled Kamenev along, in preparing over a number of years his own tragic finale. If not for Zinoviev’s initiative, Stalin would have hardly become the General Secretary of the Party. Zin-’ oviev was bent on utilizing the episodic trade union discussion in the winter of 1920-21 for a further struggle against me. Stalin appeared to him-and not without foundationthe man most suitable for the behind-the-scenes work. It was during these very days that Lenin, objecting to the appointment of Stalin as General Secretary, made his famous remark: “1 do not advise it-this cook will prepare only peppery dishes.” What prophetic words! However, the Petrograd delegation, led by Zinoviev, won out at the Party Congress. The victory came all the easier since Lenin did not give battle. He himself did not wish to invest his warning with any exaggerated meaning. So long as the old Political Bureau remained in power, the General Secretary could remain only a subordinate personage.

After Lenin’s attack of illness, the very same Zinoviev took the initiative in launching an open struggle against me. He calculated that the cumbersome Stalin would remain his Chief-of-Staff. In those days the General Secretary picked his way very cautiously. The masses did not know him at all. He had authority only among a section of the party apparatus, but even there he was not loved. In 1924, Stalin vacillated sharply. Zinoviev prodded him on. Stalin needed Zinoviev and Kamenev as a political cover for his behind-the-scenes work. This provided the basis for the mechanism of the “triumvirate.” It was precisely Zinoviev who evinced the greatest ardor. He carried his future hangman in tow behind him.

In 1926 when Zinoviev and Kamenev, after upwards of three years of conspiring jointly with Stalin against me, went over to the opposition to the apparatus, they imparted to me a number of very instructive tidings and admonitions.

“Do you think,” said Kamenev, “that Stalin is now busy thinking how best to refute your criticism? You are mistaken. He is thinking of how best to destroy you... First morally, and then, if possible, also physically. By covering you with slander, by organizing a provocation, by laying a military conspiracy at your door, by staging a terrorist act. Believe me, this is no guess-work. In our triumvirate we had many occasions to be frank with one another, although even at that time our personal relations more than once verged upon an explosion. Stalin wages a struggle on a totally different plane from yours. You don’t know this Asiatic...”

Kamenev himself knew Stalin very well. Both of them. began their revolutionary work in the Caucasian organization, in their youth, at the turn of the century; they were together in exile; they returned together to Petrograd in March 1917, and together they gave to the central organ of the party the opportunist orientation which it retained until Lenin’s arrival.

“Do you recall the arrest of Sultan-Galiev, the former Chairman of the Tartar People’s Commissariat in 1923?” continued Kamenev. “That was the first arrest of a prominent party member, carried out on Stalin’s initiative. Zinoviev and I unfortunately assented to it. Since that time Stalin has behaved as if he had tasted blood... The moment we broke with him, we drew up something in the nature of a testament, warning that in the event of our ’accidental’ deaths, the one person responsible for it would be Stalin. This document is being kept in a safe place. I advise you to do the same thing. You can expect anything from this Asiatic...”

In the first weeks of our short-lived bloc (1926-1927) Zinoviev said to me: “Do you think that Stalin hasn’t weighed the question of eliminating you physically? He has, and on more than one occasion. He was deterred by one and the same consideration, namely, that the youth would place the responsibility upon the ’triumvirate’ or upon him personally, and resort to terrorist acts. Stalin therefore considered it necessary to crush beforehand the cadres of the opposition youth. And then, you know, we shall see. .. He hates us and especially Kamenev, because we know too much about him.”

Trotsky Anticipates Assassination

Let me skip an interval of five years. On the 31st of October, 1931, the central organ of the German Communist Party, the Rote Fabne, carried a dispatch to the effect that the White Guard general, Turkul, was planning to assassinate Trotsky in Turkey. Such information could have emanated only from the G.P.U. Inasmuch as I had been banished to Turkey by Stalin, the warning by the Rote Fabne looked very much like an attempt to provide Stalin with a moral alibi in the event that Turkul’s designs were carried to a successful conclusion. On January 4, 1932, 1 addressed a letter to the Political Bureau in Moscow. The substance of my letter was that Stalin would not succeed in white-washing himself with such cheap measures: The GPU, through its agent provocateurs, was quite capable on the one hand of spurring on White Guards to a terrorist attempt, while on the other hand it exposed them through the organs of the Comintern against any possible contingency.

I wrote: “Stalin has come to the conclusion that it was a mistake to have exiled Trotsky abroad. He had hoped, as is well known from his declaration in the Political Bureau at the time, that Trotsky, deprived of a secretariat, and without any resources, would be a helpless victim of bureaucratic slander organized on a world scale. The bureaucrat was mistaken. Contrary to his expectations, it was revealed that even without an apparatus and without any resources, ideas have a power of their own.. . Stalin excellently understands the terrible danger which the ideological irreconcilability and the stubborn growth of the International Left Opposition represents to him personally, to his puffed up authority, to his Bonapartist omnipotence. Stalin thinks: It is necessary to rectify the mistake.” To be sure, not by any ideological measures: Stalin conducts a struggle on a totally different plane. He seeks to strike not at the ideas of his opponent, but at his skull.

Already in 1924 Stalin was weighing in his mind the arguments pro and con on the question of my physical liquidation. I wrote: “I have received this information from Zinoviev and Kamenev in the period when they came over to the

Opposition, and furthermore, under such circumstances and with such details as leave no room for doubt about its veracity... I/ Stalin were to compel Zinoviev and Kainenev to deny their own former declarations no one would believe them.” Even at that time the system of false confessions and of made-to-order denials was flowering luxuriously in Moscow.

Ten days after I posted my letter in Turkey, a delegation of my French co-thinkers, headed by Naville and Frank, addressed to the then Soviet ambassador in Paris, Dovgalevsky, a written declaration: “The Rote Fabne has published a report about the preparation of an attempt against Trotsky: Thereby the Soviet Government itself confirms formally that it is aware of the dangers that threaten Trotsky.” And inasmuch as the plan of general Turkul, according to the same semi-official communication “is based upon the fact that Trotsky is poorly protected by the Turkish authorities,” the Naville-Frank declaration placed in advance the responsibility for any consequences upon the Soviet Government and demanded that it take immediate practical measures;

Denials from Moscow

These steps alarmed Moscow. On March 2 the Central Committee of the French Communist Party circulated among the most responsible activists, as a confidential document, the reply of the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party of the U.S.S.R. Stalin not only did not deny that the communication in the Rote Fahne emanated from him but claimed credit for this warning as a special service and accused me of... ingratitude. Without saying anything essential on the question of my security, the circular letter asserted that by my attacks upon the Central Committee I was preparing my “alliance with the social-fascists” (that is, with the Social Democrats). Stalin did not think fit at the time to accuse me of an alliance with fascism, nor did he foresee as yet his own alliance with the “social fascists.”

To Stalin’s reply there was appended a denial by Kamenev and Zinoviev, dated February 13, 1932 and written, as the denial itself incautiously states, upon the demand of Yaroslavsky and Shkiriatov, members of the Central Control Commission and the then Inquisitors-in-Chief in the struggle against the Opposition. In a style customary for such documents, Kamenev and Zinoviev wrote that Trotsky’s communication was “an unconscionable lie, whose sole aim is to compromise our Party... It goes without saying that there could be no talk of even discussing such a question ... and we never said anything of the kind to Trotsky.” The denial ended upon a still shriller note: “The declaration of Trotsky alleging that we could be forced to make false statements in a party of Bolsheviks is in itself a notorious dodge of a blackmailer.”

This entire episode, which at first glance appears to be far removed from the trial itself, is, however, if observed more closely, of exceptional interest. According to the indictment, I had conveyed, as far back as May 1931 and then in 1932 to Smirnov, through my son Leon Sedov and through Georgi Gaven, the following instruction: To proceed to a terrorist struggle and to conclude a bloc with the Zinovievites on this basis All my “instructions,” as we shall observe more than once, were straightway fulfilled by the capitulators, that is, by people who had long broken with me and were conducting an open struggle against me.

According to the official version the capitulation of Zin.. oviev-Kamenev and the others was merely a military ruse, for the purpose of gaining entry into the sanctuary of the bureaucracy. If we accept for a moment this version, which, as we shall presently see, falls to pieces alongside of several hundred facts, then my letter to the Political Bureau for January, 1932 becomes an enigma absolutely not to be grasped by the mind. If in 1931-32 I was really directing an organization of a “terrorist bloc” with Zinoviev and Kamenev, naturally, I should not have compromised my allies so irremediably in the eyes of the bureaucracy. The crude denial of Zinoviev-Kamenev, intended to deceive the uninitiated, could not of course have fooled Stalin for a moment. He, in any case, was aware that his former allies had told me the naked truth. This single fact would have been more than sufficient in itself to have deprived Zinoviev and Kamenev forever of the slightest possibility of restoring themselves in the confidence of the ruling tops. What, then, remains of the “military ruse”? I must have lost my senses to have undermined in this manner the chances of the “terrorist center.”

In its turn the denial of Kamenev and Zinoviev, by its content and tone alike, testifies to anything you please except collaboration. Furthermore, this document does not stand alone. We shall presently see, especially in the case of Radek, that the chief function of the capitulators consisted, year in and year out, from month to month, in defaming and blackening me in the eyes of the Soviet and world public opinion. It remains perfectly incomprehensible how these people could have hoped to achieve victory under the guidance of a leader discredited by themselves. Here the “military ruse” clearly turns into its own opposite.

The denial of Zinoviev-Kamenev for February 13, 1932, sent out to all the sections of the Comintern, represents, in very essence, one of the countless rough drafts of their future depositions for August 1936: the self-same foul invective against me as the opponent of Bolshevism and especially the enemy of “Comrade Stalin”; the self-same reference to my urge to serve the “counter-revolution”; and finally the selfsame vows that they, Zinoviev and Kamenev, are giving testimony out of good will, free from any kind of compulsion. Of course, of course! And could it have been otherwise? Only “blackmailers” can allow the mere possibility of constraint in Stalin’s “democracy.” The very excesses of style unmistakably testify to the source of inspiration.

Truly, a precious document! It not only cuts the ground from under the fiction of a Trotskyite-Zinovievite center in 1932 but it also enables us in passing to peer into that laboratory where the future trials with their made-to-order recantations were prepared.

In Mexico

January 9

In the hot tropical morning our tanker entered the harbor of Tampico. We were still in ignorance of what was awaiting us. Our passports and revolvers remained, as hitherto, in the hands of the fascist policeman, who even in the territorial waters of Mexico maintained the regime established by the “socialist” government of Norway. I forewarned the policeman and the captain that my wife and I would land voluntarily only if we were met by friends. We had not the slightest grounds for trusting the Norwegian vassals of the CPU, alike in the tropics as in the Oslo parallel.

But everything had been safely arranged. Shortly after the tanker halted, a government cutter approached carrying representatives of the local federal authorities, Mexican and foreign journalists, and, most important of all, true and reliable friends. Here were Frieda Rivera, wife of the famous artist whom illness had detained in a hospital; Max Shachtman, a Marxist journalist and close co-thinker who had previously visited us in Turkey, France and Norway; and, finally George Novack, secretary of the American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky. After four months of imprisonment and isolation, this meeting with friends was especially cordial. The Norwegian policeman, who finally handed us our passports and revolvers, looked on with embarrassment at the courteous behavior of the Mexican police-general.

Leaving the tanker, we stepped, not without excitement, onto the soil of the New World. Despite it being the month of January, this soil breathed warmth. The oil derricks of Tampico reminded us of Baku. At the hotel, we immediately felt our lack of knowledge of the Spanish language. At 10 o’clock in the evening we left Tampico for the capital in a special train provided by the Minister of Communications, General Mujica.

The contrast between northern Norway and tropical Mexico was felt not only in the climate. Torn free from the atmosphere of revolting self-will and enervating uncertainty, we encountered hospitality and attentiveness at every step. Our New York friends optimistically recounted the work of the Committee, told of the growing disbelief in the Moscow trial and of the prospects for a counter-trial. The general conclusion was that a book was necessary, and as soon as possible, on Stalin’s judicial frameups. A new chapter of our life was opening very favorably. But... What would be its subsequent development?

We observed the tropical landscape from the windows of our car with keen interest. At the village of Cardenas, between Tampico and San Luis Potosi, two locomotives began hauling our train up the plateau. The air became cooler and we soon rid ourselves of the northerner’s fear of the tropics which had seized us in the steamy atmosphere of the Gulf of Mexico. On the morning of the 11th, we alighted at Lecheria, a tiny station on the outskirts of the capital, where we embraced Diego Rivera, who had left the hospital. It was to him above all that we were indebted for our emancipation from captivity in Norway. With him there were several friends: Fritz Bach, a former Swiss communist who had become a professor in Mexico; Hidalgo, participant in the Mexican civil war in the ranks of Zapata’s army; and a few young men. At noon, we arrived by automobile in Coyoacan, a suburb of Mexico City, where we were lodged in the blue home of Frieda Rivera, which has an orange tree in the middle of the courtyard.

In a telegram of gratitude to President Cardenas, dispatched from Tampico, I repeated that I intended rigidly to abstain from interfering in Mexican politics. I did not entertain a moment’s doubt that responsible agents of the CPU would penetrate into Mexico, there to assist the so-called “friends” of the USSR to do all in their power to render difficult my stay in this hospitable country.

From Europe, meanwhile, warning after warning arrived. And could it have been otherwise? Stalin has too much, if not everything, at stake. His original calculations, based upon suddenness and speed of action, proved justified only by one half. My emigration to Mexico sharply changed the relationship of forces to the disadvantage of the Kremlin. I obtained the possibility of appealing to world public opinion. Where will this end? Those who were only too well aware of the fragility and rottenness of their judicial frame-ups must have asked themselves this question with alarm.

One symptom of Moscow’s alarm fairly struck one between the eyes. The Mexican communists began to devote to me entire issues of their weekly newspaper containing old and new materials from the sewage system of the CPU and the Comintern, and even to publish special issues for this purpose. My friends said: “Pay no attention. This newspaper enjoys a merited contempt.” And I myself had no intention of entering into a polemic with flunkeys when ahead lay a struggle with their masters. Extremely unworthy was the conduct of the secretary of the National Confederation of Labor, Lombardo Toledano. Political dilettante and a lawyer by profession, alien to the working class and the revolution, this gentleman visited Moscow in 1935 and returned thence, as is befitting, an altruistic “friend” of the USSR. Dimitrov’s report to the Seventh Congress of the Comintern on the policy of the “People’s Front”-this document of theoretical and political piostration was hailed by Toledano as the most important production since the Communist Manifesto. From the time of my arrival in Mexico, this gentleman has been slandering me all the more unceremoniously since my non-intervention in the internal life of the country assures him complete immunity in advance, The Russian Mensheviks were genuine knighterrants of the revolution compared to such ignorant and pompous careerists!

Among the foreign journalists, Kluckhohn, correspondent -of the New York Times, immediately distinguished himself. Under the pretext of an interview, he several times attempted to subject me to a police cross-examination. It is not difficult to understand what sources inspired this zeal. As regards the Mexican section of the Fourth International, I announced in the press that I cannot assume any responsibility for its work. 1 value my new haven too much to permit myself any kind of incaution. At the same time, I warned my Mexican and North American friends to expect absolutely exceptional measures of “self-defense” on the part of the Stalinist agents in Mexico and the United States. In the struggle for its international “reputation” and power, the ruling clique in Moscow will stop at nothing. And least of all at the expenditure of tens of millions of dollars for the purchase of human souls.

The Second Moscow Trial

I do not know whether Stalin felt any hesitation about arranging a new trial. I believe he must have hesitated. My -departure for Mexico, however, must have ended his hesitalion immediately. It now became necessary, at any cost, and as soon as possible, to drown the forthcoming revelations by -the sensation of new accusations. Preparation of the RadekPiatakov case was begun as far back as the end of August. As could have been foreseen, Oslo was this time chosen as the operating base of the “conspiracy.” For it was necessary to facilitate for the government of Norway my deportation from that country. But into the geographical outline of the frameup, which had already become antiquated, were hastily sketched new and fresh elements. Through Vladimir Romm, you see, I endeavored to acquire the secrets of the Washington government, while through Radek I was preparing to supply Japan with oil in the event that Japan went to war with the United States. Only because it lacked sufficient time, did the GPU find it impossible to arrange for me a meeting with Japanese agents in the Mexican park of Chapultepec.

On the 19th came the first dispatch regarding the im-pending trial. On the 21st 1 answered it with an article which I consider it necessary to reproduce here. On the 23rd, the trial began in Moscow. Again, as in August, we lived through a week of nightmare. Despite the fact that, after last year’s experience, the mechanism of the affair was clear beforehand, the impression of moral horror increased rather than decreased. The dispatches from Moscow seemed like insane ravings. It was necessary to re-read each line several times to force oneself to believe that behind these ravings were living men.

With some of these men I was intimately acquainted. They were no worse than other people. On the contrary, they were better than a great many. But they were poisoned with falsehood and then crushed by the totalitarian apparatus. They lie against themselves to enable the ruling clique to cover others with lies. Stalin has set himself the goal of forcing mankind to believe in impossible crimes. Again one had to ask himself: Is mankind really so stupid? Of course not. But the thing is that the frame-ups of Stalin are so monstrous that they likewise seem impossible crimes.

How can one convince mankind that this apparent “impossibility” is in fact an ominous reality? The struggle is being waged with unequal weapons. On the one side-the GPU, the court, the press, the diplomats, the hired agentry, journalists of the Duranty type, attorneys of the Pritt type. On the other-an isolated “accused” who has hardly torn himself free from a socialist jail, in an alien, distant land, without a press or resources of his own.

Nevertheless, I did not for a moment doubt that the almighty organizers of the amalgam were heading for disaster. The spiral of Stalin’s frame-ups, which has already succeeded in embracing far too large a number of people, facts and geographical points, continues to extend. It is impossible to fool everybody. Not all want to be fooled. The French League for the Rights of Man, with its virginal president Victor Basch, is of course capable of respectfully swallowing a second and a tenth trial, just as it swallowed the first. But facts are stronger than the patriotic zeal of the dubious champions of “right.” Facts will clear a path for themselves.

Already in the course of the court proceedings I transmitted to the press a number of documentary refutations and posed to the Moscow court a number of precise questions which by themselves destroy the most important testimony of the accused. But the Moscow Themis not only blindfolded her eyes- she also put cotton in her ears. Naturally, I did not expect that my revelations would have any immediate wide effect. My technical possibilities for that are far too limited. The immediate task consisted in providing a factual point of support for the thought of the most penetrating minds, and to provoke criticism, or at least doubts, among the next layer. Having conquered the minds of the select, truth would unfold further and further. In the long run, the spiral of truth would prove stronger than the spiral of frameup. Everything that has transpired since that nightmarish week at the end of January has only confirmed my optimistic expectations.

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Last updated on: 22.4.2007