DR. JOHN DEWEY,
Professor Emeritus of Philosophy. Columbia University. (New York City) Chairman of the Commission.
MR. CARLETON BEALS,
Author and Lecturer. (California) (Resigned after eleventh session.)
MISS SUZANNE LAFOLLETTE,
Author and Former Editor of The New Freeman. (New York City) Secretary of the Commission.
MR. OTTO RUEHLE,
Former Member of the German Reichstag and Biographer of Karl Marx. (Mexico City)
MR. BENJAMIN STOLBERG,
Author and Journalist. (New York City)
MR. JOHN F. FINERTY,
Former counsel for Sacco and Vanzetti and counsel for Tom Mooney.
Acting as counsel for the Preliminary Commission of Inquiry. (Washington, D.C.)
MR. ALBERT GOLDMAN,
Labor attorney, acting as counsel for Leon Trotsky. (Chicago)
WITNESSES: LEON D. TROTSKY
REPORTER FOR THE COMMISSION: Albert Glotzer. (Chicago)
ALSO PRESENT: Representatives of the press and visitors.
DR. DEWEY: The preliminary hearing is now opened. You will all notice the sign which says: “No smoking.” There will be recesses in which there will be an opportunity to smoke. Also, as you have already been told, we will be glad to give the photographers an opportunity to take pictures, only we will have to ask that they do not do so during the sessions. After the adjournment of this session, at one o’clock, there will be arrangements made with the photographers for any special shots they wish to make.
I now declare the first session opened. I shall read a brief preliminary statement in English first, and then shall ask Mr. Carleton Beals to read it in Spanish:
It is with great pleasure that I find myself again in Mexico after a decade’s absence. Like my fellow Commissioners, I have again found the capital of Mexico most agreeable. It is to all of us a regret that we do not today have with us as a colleague a Mexican representative, but before the full Commission is completed, to which we must report, we may hope that this deficiency will be remedied. The fact that hearings are being held in which a foreigner will defend himself before foreigners on Mexican soil is an honor to Mexico, and a reproach to those countries whose political system or current policy bars the holding of our meetings on their soil.
It is fitting, indeed, that representatives of several continents meet on this soil, which has granted asylum to many of the Old World who are persecuted for political views. This Commission, like many millions of workers of city and country, of hand and brain, believes that no man should be condemned without a chance to defend himself. It desires at the outset, therefore, to congratulate the Mexican Government on its broad interpretation of the meaning of political democracy, which makes our meeting possible.
DEWEY: At the opening of this first session, I will read the introductory statement of the Commission.
This Preliminary Commission to inquire into the charges made against Leon Trotsky in the Moscow trials of August 1936 and January 1937 is here in Mexico neither as court nor as jury. We are here neither to defend nor to prosecute Leon Trotsky. We are not here to pronounce a verdict either of guilt or innocence. We are here as an investigating body. Our function is to hear whatever testimony Mr. Trotsky may present to us, to cross-examine him, and to give the results of our investigation to the full Commission of which we are a part, so that the results obtained here, in connection with those secured by other investigating bodies, may bring to light the objective facts upon which judgment in the case of Leon Trotsky must rest. Our sole function is to ascertain the truth as far as is humanly possible.
The Commission of Inquiry was initiated by the American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky. Lest these two bodies be confused in the public mind, I think it proper here to define their separate functions.
In the United States, it has long been customary for public-spirited citizens to organize committees for the purpose of securing fair trials in cases where there was suspicion concerning the impartiality of the courts. Such committees are traditionally known as “defense committees,” and include in their title the name of the defendant. I cite just two instances in this connection: The Tom Mooney Defense Committee and the Sacco-Vanzetti Defense Committee with which many members of the American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky cooperated. Membership on such committees does not, of course, imply anything more than the belief that the accused is entitled to a fair trial.
The present case differs from those I have cited in one important point. In this case there exists no legally constituted court before which the accused may plead his case. Twice, in their absence, both Leon Trotsky and his son, Leon Sedov, whose guilt or innocence hangs upon that of his father, have been declared guilty by the highest tribunal of the Soviet Union. And Trotsky’s repeated demands that the Soviet Government ask for his extradition, which would automatically have brought him before either a Norwegian or a Mexican court, have been ignored. Therefore, it became part of the function of his defense committee to initiate the formation of an impartial body before which his side of the case could be heard.
The simple fact that we are here is evidence that the conscience of the world is not as yet satisfied on this historic issue. This world-conscience demands that Mr. Trotsky be not finally condemned before he has had full opportunity to present whatever evidence is in his possession in reply to the verdict pronounced upon him in hearings at which he was neither present nor represented. The right to a hearing before condemnation is such an elementary right in every civilized country that it would be absurd for us to reassert it were it not for the efforts which have been made to prevent Mr. Trotsky from being heard, and the efforts that now are being made to discredit the work of this Commission of Inquiry.
The impartiality of any investigating body can be judged by one test, and one test only: the way in which it conducts its affairs. From this test, the Commission of Inquiry neither can nor wishes to be exempt. However, until this test has been applied, we appeal to every fair-minded person to support the Commission in its effort to afford Mr. Trotsky the chance to be heard. We appeal particularly to the press, which bears the heavy responsibility of serving as intermediary between these hearings and the public, to safeguard our task by living up to its own highest tradition of scrupulous objectivity.
The facts from which any inquiry must start are found in the official records published by the Government of the USSR. According to these records, Leon Trotsky was charged with a series of counter-revolutionary crimes committed over a number of years.
He was charged with instigating acts of individual terrorism having for their purpose the assassination of the leaders of the Communist Party and the Government of the Soviet Union; of organizing and giving direction to numerous attempts at industrial sabotage and “diversion”; of wreckage of factories and trains, resulting in great loss of life; of initiating and promoting espionage in the USSR by agents of imperialistic nations; of entering into conspiracy with the “Gestapo” in Germany and, through his agents, with Japanese intelligence officers; of conspiring with official representatives of Nazi Germany and of Japan to assist, in every possible way, those nations to bring about and win a war in which they might engage against the USSR, these measures including the hindering of mobilization and the provision of necessary military supplies, the wrecking of troop trains, etc. Finally, he was charged with making an agreement with Germany and Japan to cede territories of the USSR to those countries after their victory in the projected war; with arranging to grant special trade privileges to Germany, along with concessions of mines, forests, etc. It was charged that the object of these counter-revolutionary criminal acts was to restore capitalism in the USSR and to bring to political power in that country the leaders of opposition factions, including Trotsky himself.
If Leon Trotsky is guilty of the acts with which he is charged, no condemnation can be too severe. The extreme seriousness of these charges is, however, an added reason for securing to the accused the full right to present whatever evidence is in his possession, in rebuttal of them. The fact that Mr. Trotsky has personally denied these charges is not of itself a matter of concern to the Commission. That he has been condemned without the opportunity to be heard is a matter of Utmost concern to the Commission and to the conscience of the whole world.
The Scope and content of the inquiry to be undertaken are determined by that part of the testimony given in the Moscow trials upon which Trotsky was condemned. With this testimony, so far as it bears upon the guilt or innocence of those who were present and had a hearing, we are not concerned. We are concerned with discovering the truth or falsity of the testimony given in So far as it implicated Mr. Trotsky. This testimony was, according to Mr. Vyshinsky, the prosecutor, of two kinds: “First, there is the historical connection which confirms the theses of the indictment on the basis of the Trotskyites’ past activity. We have also in mind the testimony of the accused which in itself represents enormous importance as proof.”
In accord with this definite statement of the prosecution, the Commission is compelled both to carry on its inquiry into the past activity of Mr. Trotsky and his faction, and to receive testimony, here and elsewhere, upon the factual material brought forward by witnesses and by the accused in the Moscow trials.
The Commission has no illusions concerning the extraordinarily difficult nature of its task. It is aware that much important evidence is inaccessible because of the impossibility of extending its inquiries to Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union as it will extend them to other European countries. It is aware that a long, tortuous course of events is involved, every stage of which is beset by bitter controversy. But even were the difficulties more serious than they are, we should find ourselves unwilling and unable to take the defeatist position of those who proclaim in advance that any attempt to ascertain the facts upon which judgment must finally rest is doomed to failure.
Speaking, finally, not for the Commission, but for myself, I had hoped that a chairman might be found for these preliminary investigations whose experience better fitted him for the difficult and delicate task to be performed. But I have given my life to the work of education, which I have conceived to be that of public enlightenment in the interests of society. If I finally accepted the responsible post I now occupy, it was because I realized that to act otherwise would be to be false to my lifework.
I will now ask Mr. Trotsky if he wishes to state anything before the commencement of the hearing.
TROTSKY: Esteemed Commissioners: Permit me to express my profound respect and my no less profound gratitude to you, as well as to your colleagues who remain in New York or who carry on their work in various cities of Europe. I am entirely aware that the members of the Commission are guided in their work by motives incomparably more important and more profound than an interest in the fate of a single person. But all the greater is my respect, and all the more sincere my gratitude!
I cannot but note here that only the magnanimous hospitality accorded to me in extremely difficult conditions by the Mexican Government, headed by President Cardenas, now makes it possible for me to appear freely and openly before you.
The composition of the Commission and the high authority of its chairman exclude the possibility of any apprehension that the work of the Commission might signify even indirectly an intervention in the internal life of this country or cause the slightest damage to its interests. I beg you to believe, Mr. President and ladies and gentlemen of the Commission, that on my part there cannot be and will not be the slightest pretext for apprehension of this sort. The obligation that I take upon myself before the Mexican Government is absolutely unshakable. I must note gratefully that the Mexican press, like the majority of the local representatives of the foreign press, has shown a complete understanding of the difficulties which produce for me the necessity, on the one hand, to struggle with all my energy against all the accusations which are familiar to you, and, on the other hand, to avoid any steps which might be unwelcome to the public opinion of this country. I express a sincere gratitude to the representatives of the press for their loyal and sincere regard for the peculiarities of my situation. Certain unfortunate exceptions need not be dwelt upon. Public opinion will judge them as they deserve.
I beg your indulgence for my English which – I must say in advance – is the weakest point of my position. For everything else I do not ask the slightest indulgence. I do not demand any a priori confidence in my affirmations. The task of this Commission of investigation is to verify everything from the beginning to the end. My duty is simply to help it in its work. I will try to accomplish this duty faithfully before the eyes of the whole world.
DEWEY: In accordance with the usual American custom, I will ask the lawyer, Mr. Goldman, for the defense of Mr. Trotsky, to state, before the direct examination of Mr. Trotsky begins, the points – the defense he expects to prove.
GOLDMAN: Ladies and Gentlemen of the Commission: What is it that Leon Trotsky and those of us associated with him in defending his honor and the honor of the revolutionary Marxist movement throughout the world aim to do before this sub-commission and through this sub-commission before the whole Commission which is yet to hear the case, and before the whole world?
We intend to prove that Leon Trotsky is absolutely innocent of the charges made against him by the Stalinist Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Union. We shall willingly assume a greater burden than we need to assume. For all that is required of us is to raise a reasonable doubt in the minds of men, and then we would be justified in asking for a verdict of not guilty.
But we are not satisfied merely to raise a reasonable doubt. That we can do on the basis of the prosecution’s own evidence. We are determined to convince the members of this Commission, and everyone who reads and thinks with a free and independent mind, beyond all doubt that Leon Trotsky and his son are guiltless of the monstrous charges made against them.
What are the charges made against Trotsky and his son?
Since the time of the Kirov assassination, December 1, 1934, there have been seven trials in the Soviet Union, either directly connected with the assassination or directed against the Trotskyites in general. In all of the trials Leon Trotsky played the part of the principal defendant, if not directly, then indirectly. It is, however, in the last two trials, one held in August 1936 and the last one in January 1937 that direct and positive allegations were made in the indictments charging both Leon Trotsky and his son, Sedov, with violating certain sections of the criminal code of the Soviet Union. On the basis of these charges and the evidence presented in the last two trials, Leon Trotsky and his son were, in their absence, found guilty and were ordered to be arrested immediately in the event of their being discovered on the territory of the USSR
Taken together, the indictments of the last two trials contain the following principal accusations against Leon Trotsky and his son:
a) Preparation of terrorist acts against the leading figures of the USSR, in particular the organization of the assassination of Kirov;
b) organization of industrial sabotage, with the aim of weakening the national economy of the USSR;
c) organization of alleged “diversions,” that is, explosions, catastrophes, destruction on a huge scale, including the mass assassination of workers and soldiers, with the aim of undermining the military strength of the USSR;
d) secret relations with German fascism and Japanese militarism, with the intention of precipitating war and preparing the defeat of the USSR and its dismemberment, involving the surrender of territory to these two powers.
e) finally – as the crowning point of all this activity and its fundamental aim – to destroy socialist economy and to reestablish capitalism in the USSR:
In this opening statement, I shall refrain from analysis and argument. I accept the accusations as they are and declare: We intend to prove that the accusations levelled against Leon Trotsky and his son in the Soviet court are false from beginning to end. We shall show that in all of Leon Trotsky’s activities there is not the slightest trace of acts, declarations, or even thoughts which might serve in the slightest degree as a support for the accusations brought against him. Leon Trotsky has indicated more than once in the press, and we shall contend here, that it is a question not of a judicial error but of a malevolent frame-up prepared over a series of years and costing many human lives.
Because the trials of Zinoviev, Kamenev, Smirnov, et al., held in August 1936 and of Pyatakov, Radek, et al., held in January 1937, received the greatest publicity; because the indictments and evidence produced at these trials directly implicated Leon Trotsky; because reports of these trials (the first a summary of the evidence, and the second a verbatim transcript) were published in English and other languages and we have them at our disposal – because of these factors, it seems to me to be advisable and necessary to consider that whatever case has been made out by the prosecution on behalf of the Soviet Government against Leon Trotsky is contained in the evidence produced at these two trials, and our evidence will therefore be limited to meet the testimony of the defendants and witnesses of the last two trials. Before the members of the sub-commission are the official reports of the last two trials, and we shall assume that the Commissioners will consider those reports as the evidence of the Soviet prosecution.
We do not intend to ignore the other trials. On the contrary, we shall show, through an analysis of these trials, that the real objective of the last two trials was not to convict criminals, but to discredit in the eyes of the Russian masses, and of the workers throughout the world, the chief representative of the only consistent revolutionary opposition to the ideas and practices of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Communist International.
The two trials were completely and exclusively based on allegedly voluntary confessions of the defendants. In actuality, that means as we hope to demonstrate during the course of this proceeding, that to the defendant’s bench were led only persons who had agreed beforehand to give testimony that was expected of them.
All of the accused in the two trials, without exception, as well as the witnesses, mentioned Leon Trotsky’s name in one way or another, with the purpose of attributing to him the leading rôle in some criminal acts. However, by far the greater part of the testimony we shall be unable to meet, because the kind of testimony which was produced in the Soviet court is not subject either to verification or refutation by us. No representative of the real defendant – that is, Leon Trotsky – was notified to be present and to cross-examine the defendants – that is, the witnesses against Leon Trotsky. The testimony of most of the defendants was of such a vague and general nature as to be absolutely valueless. The slightest cross-examination would have been sufficient to destroy the tissue of lies created by these witnesses.
That is why we shall be compelled, for the most part, to limit ourselves to the evidence of those accused who, according to their own words, either met Leon Trotsky personally or received criminal instructions from him, or claimed to be in criminal correspondence with him. As far as Sedov is concerned, we hope that another sub-commission will be able to take his testimony.
In the Zinoviev-Kamenev trials, it was claimed by the defendants Holtzman, Berman-Yurin and Fritz David that they visited Trotsky in Copenhagen at the end of November, 1932, and received from him instructions with reference to committing terroristic acts against leading figures in the Soviet Union. It was further claimed by Smirnov, Dreitzer and Olberg that they received similar instructions from Trotsky in writing.
Our evidence will show that Leon Trotsky never met and never heard of Berman-Yurin or Fritz David; that the said Berman-Yurin and Fritz David never met Leon Trotsky at Copenhagen or anywhere else, and that Trotsky never had any correspondence with them.
Holtzman, the most important of the three witnesses who claimed to have visited Trotsky in Copenhagen, testified that he met Trotsky’s son in the vestibule of the Hotel Bristol and that from there he was brought by Sedov to Trotsky’s apartment.
We shall show by written and oral testimony that Trotsky’s son, at the time in question, was not in Copenhagen but in Berlin, and that Trotsky and his wife, Natalia, were able to see their son only in France, on the train returning from Denmark. We shall prove that Sedov made several efforts to reach Copenhagen, but without any success.
We shall offer testimony to prove that Leon Trotsky was never in any correspondence whatsoever with Dreitzer, and that he knew him only slightly and lost sight of him in 1928. The alleged contents of the correspondence, as testified to by Dreitzer and Mrachkovsky, sufficiently prove that they are the products of the not too vivid imaginations of the gentlemen of the GPU.
The evidence will further show that Leon Trotsky did not give any instructions from Turkey to Smirnov, who only by chance met Sedov, Trotsky’s son, in 1931 in a street in Berlin where Sedov was then studying in a polytechnical institute.
The evidence will show that Leon Trotsky never met Olberg; that he was in correspondence with him for a time and that such correspondence contained nothing whatsoever on questions of terror. The evidence will further show that Trotsky in April, 1930, was warned against Olberg as an individual not worthy of the slightest confidence and probably an agent of the GPU.
In the last trial (January, 1937) the whole accusation against Trotsky, according to Radek’s words in his last plea, words that were not denied by the prosecution (and their truth is evident from the record itself), rests entirely on the testimony of the two principal defendants, Radek and Pyatakov. Radek was supposed to have corresponded with Trotsky through the intermediation of a certain Vladimir Romm, a correspondent of the Izvestia. Pyatakov, according to his testimony, came to Oslo by airplane in December 1935 and there saw Trotsky.
Leon Trotsky has already declared in the press, and we shall show here, that the testimony of Radek, Pyatakov, and Vladimir Romm is pure invention from beginning to end. The testimony will show that Trotsky has had no connection either direct or indirect with Radek since the time of his expulsion from the USSR, and that he has neither received from Radek nor written to him a single letter. The testimony will prove that Vladimir Romm never met Trotsky in Paris, and therefore could not have received any letters from him to be delivered to Radek.
Pyatakov testified that at the request of Sedov he gave Soviet governmental orders to German firms with the understanding that part of the profit should go to him, and that he gave the money to Trotsky for “counter-revolutionary” work. We shall introduce into evidence Trotsky’s accounts since his deportation from Russia, and they will show how much money Trotsky has received from various sources and how he spent that money.
Such is the nature of the evidence which we shall produce in opposition to the testimony of the most important witnesses – or rather, defendants – testifying to the fact that Leon Trotsky directed the plot against the leaders of the Soviet Union. It will be made absolutely clear that the refutation of the most important sections of the evidence given by the defendants in both trials must in the end compromise the whole system of voluntary confessions, and by that very fact deprive the Moscow trials in their entirety of the slightest credibility.
However, even if we did not have in our possession the evidence necessary to demonstrate a perfect alibi in all the most essential instances, we would be far from disarmed in facing the false accusations brought against Leon Trotsky. We have at our disposal a whole series of supplementary proofs of a documentary, historical and political character, which, taken together, have a persuasive power not at all inferior to that of the alibis mentioned above, and in the eyes of many have an incomparably greater value. I shall enumerate very briefly the type of proof to which I have reference:
According to the spirit and the letter of the indictment, the accused – Trotskyites and Zinovievites – had, with Trotsky’s consent, capitulated in order to penetrate into the ranks of the party and there, under cover of a false loyalty, conducted their criminal work. Leon Trotsky will present to the Commission hundreds of letters, dozens of articles, to prove that he and his genuine partisans treated the capitulations as treachery and the capitulators as traitors; that even in centers of deportation and in prisons these two groups would have nothing to do with each other; that Zinoviev, Kamenev, Mrachkovsky, Pyatakov, Radek and others became his most bitter enemies during the last nine years, and systematically carried out venomous missions in the service of Stalin and the GPU in order to discredit the opposition in general and Trotsky in particular.
The indictment presents Radek and Pyatakov as people in whom Trotsky had the greatest confidence, whom he placed at the head of the special “purely Trotskyite,” “parallel center,” and to whom he had confided designs and plans which he kept hidden even from the members of the “unified center” (Zinoviev, Kamenev, Smirnov, etc.). Trotsky will place before the Commission dozens of articles, documents, and private letters, in which it is indubitably revealed that he regarded Radek and Pyatakov as the most demoralized representatives of the capitulators, and that he systematically expressed sentiments of hostility and contempt for them.
The accusation of individual terror, as will be shown on the basis of Trotsky’s numerous articles, beginning in 1902, is in direct contradiction with the whole bent of his thought, with his political education, with the lessons of his revolutionary experience, and finally, with the entire tradition of Russian Marxism. The citations given by Prosecutor Vyshinsky from the Russian Bulletin of the Opposition, edited by Trotsky, as proof of his “terrorist” propaganda represent, as can be seen from the relevant numbers of the Bulletin, a gross distortion.
We shall submit to the Commission a no less abundant literature and correspondence pertaining to Trotsky’s attitude toward the defense of the USSR. From these materials it will be dear that Trotsky has never for a moment wavered on the question of the necessity of defending the Soviet Union, and that he immediately and openly broke with old partisans and political friends the moment they took a negative or even only an ambiguous position on the defense of the USSR against imperialism.
We shall present to the Commission a collection of Trotsky’s interviews and articles on international questions, for the whole period of his exile, as incontestable proof of the fact that Trotsky’s main efforts in the domain of international politics were directed toward obtaining the recognition of the USSR by the United States, toward rapprochements between the USSR and France, toward the defense of China against Japan, toward the revelation of the war plans of German fascism and Japanese militarism.
From these interviews and articles, which appeared in the press throughout the world, it will be apparent that Trotsky considered, and that he considers at present, in the event of war, the military and social collapse of feudal-imperialist Japan as absolutely inevitable, and almost similarly inevitable a revolutionary upheaval in fascist Germany. The importance of this analysis for the understanding of Trotsky’s real international “plans” needs no clarification.
On the basis of the Soviet press itself, we shall demonstrate that all the phenomena now alleged as special crimes of the Trotskyites, under the heading of “sabotage” and “diversions,” actually represent the organized results of the absence of control and responsibility in the bureaucratic leadership of industry, and of the criminal lack of attention to the interests of the working masses on the part of the new aristocracy. We shall, on the other hand, demonstrate, on the basis of a series of Trotsky’s articles, beginning in March, 1930, that he untiringly revealed these same diseases and cancers which only several years later received the name of “sabotage.”
In connection with this, we deem it relevant to remind the Commission that Trotsky’s younger son, Sergei Sedov, a twenty-eight-year-old engineer, who for several years has been engaged in pedagogical and technical work, has been arrested, in relation to the last trial, under the accusation of preparing a premeditated mass poisoning of workers. We shall place before the Commission the photograph of this “poisoner,” because we think that it is a moral document not without importance as evidence against an accusation which, moreover, is destroyed by its own monstrosity.
On the basis of official Soviet documents and the commentaries of the Soviet press, we shall demonstrate that the false and venomous accusations against the Opposition have become a system, beginning with 1923, have assumed a more and more ruthless character since 1926, and have led to ferocious repressions; and the constant attempts of the bureaucracy in all this to impute “terrorist” and “defeatist” tendencies to the Opposition preceded by some years the Kirov assassination and the trials which followed it.
On the basis of the literature of the Opposition, particularly Trotsky’s own articles and letters, we shall prove that the Oppositionists, through a series of facts and symptoms, had foreseen each new step of the bureaucratic repressions, and, beginning in 1927, had tirelessly warned public opini6n that Stalin, in the struggle for the privileges of the new aristocracy and for his unlimited power, would be forced, like all Bonapartist autocrats, to crush the Opposition with more and more monstrous police frame-ups. And we shall show from an article written by Trotsky in the Bulletin of the Opposition on March 4, 1929, that Trotsky predicted that Stalin would proceed inevitably to future “terrorist” trials. Six years later, on January 26, 1935, Trotsky wrote in the same Bulletin that Stalin would not stop at the first Zinoviev-Kamenev trial (based on the accusation of “moral responsibility” for the assassination of Kirov), but would prepare a new, more vicious amalgam. After the execution Zinoviev-Kamenev, Trotsky wrote on September 15, 1936, from his interment in Norway, to his lawyer Puntervold, that Stalin would not be satisfied with his incarceration only and that, with the aim of ulterior pressure on the Norwegian Government, he would prepare a new trial, this time transporting the base of the plot to Oslo. Pyatakov’s fantastic flight was the exact confirmation of this prediction.
It is necessary and relevant to draw the attention of the Commission to the fact that on the night of November 7, 1936, a part of Trotsky’s archives which were being kept by the Parisian section of the Institute of Social History was stolen by the agents of the GPU in Paris. The deposition of Trotsky’s son on this subject, as well as Trotsky’s deposition to the French judicial authorities, we shall turn over to the Commission. The small part of Trotsky’s correspondence stolen from the Institute, like all his archives, is valuable, not to confirm but to refute the accusations brought against him. That is why there can be no question of a public utilization of the stolen documents. But, having in their hands certain letters of the period of 1934-35, the organizers of the “German” amalgam, can, as far as conditions of time and place are concerned, avoid the most scandalous blunders, of which the preceding trials are full. To warn the Commission of this in advance and, through it, public opinion, is, to a certain extent, to paralyze the action of the new frame-up now in preparation.
Such is the nature of the proof which we shall lay before the Commission. We contend that it is only by an analysis of all factors, by a study of all the evidence, from the false testimony of those who claimed to converse or correspond with Leon Trotsky to an investigation of the nature of the Stalin regime, that one can really understand the character and the essence of the Moscow trials from the juridical, moral, political and historical points of view. We shall attempt, and I believe successfully, to unmask the nature of these judicial frame-ups, before world public opinion. The structure of falsehoods shamelessly erected in the Moscow trials will crumble before our attack with the weapons of truth.
DEWEY: I will state that the proceedings will go on as question and answer on direct examination. That will be conducted by Mr. Goldman. The cross-examination will be by members of the Commission and especially by Mr. Finerty as soon as he reaches here, which we hope will be very shortly.
We will adjourn now for a five-minute recess.
DEWEY: As I was saying just before the recess, the investigation will proceed by question and answer, beginning with direct examination of Mr. Trotsky by his lawyer, and then cross-examination by the Commission and by our lawyer, Mr. Finerty, as soon as he reaches here. Because of the complexity of the problems and issues involved, I wish to ask Mr. Goldman to conduct his direct examination by sections, so that the cross-examination may come after each section and not be postponed until the whole direct examination has been had. On this account, I wish to ask Mr. Goldman if he will provide the Commission in writing with a statement of the various matters which he intends to go into, putting them in the order in which he proposes to take them up, so that the Commission may, as far as possible, prepare itself in advance to cross-examine upon each section. There is only one further remark I wish to make before Mr. Trotsky takes the stand. I hope that Mr. Goldman will cooperate as far as possible with the Commission and save it from embarrassment by excluding all political material which does not have a direct and close relationship with the charges made against Mr. Trotsky. I think it is generally understood that we are not here to consider in any way the political issues involved in the struggle between the present-day Government and leaders of the Party in Russia and the Opposition element. Some of this material is, obviously, very directly related to the charges brought against Mr. Trotsky, but the Commission wishes it understood that, as far as possible, it will draw a line strictly between the political issues and the charges made against Mr. Trotsky.
GOLDMAN: I shall prepare a statement of the one or more sections which I will deal with from day to day. I shall give that statement to the Commission. As for asking questions on political matters not involved in this particular issue, I shall try my best to limit myself. Here I want to state that I have had some experience in political trials in the United States, and it is always difficult to say exactly where the political question ceases to be germane and becomes irrelevant. However, when I ask questions on matters which the Commission deems irrelevant, then I shall desist if asked to do so by the Commission, and proceed to other points.
GOLDMAN: Now, for the sake of the record, will you state your name, where you live, and your occupation?
TROTSKY: The name of my father was Bronstein. My name, my political name, has been my genuine name since 1902. It is Trotsky.
GOLDMAN: Your first name; what is your first name?
TROTSKY: Excuse me. Leon. I will explain also the fact that the name of my wife is Sedov and that is the reason the name of our sons is Sedov.
GOLDMAN: Where do you live, Mr. Trotsky; where do you live now? Let me make this statement to the Commission. Mr. Trotsky finds himself unable to express his thoughts quickly in English. I suggest that he speak German whenever he finds himself in difficulties. One of the Commissioners, I understand, knows German very well. The answers can be translated into English.
TROTSKY: I live here in Coyoacan in this house.
GOLDMAN: It is only for the purpose of the record, Mr. Trotsky. I assume that you know where you live. (Laughter) Everybody else does. I must also ask you what your occupation is at the present time.
GOLDMAN: Would you kindly tell us who lives with you in this house at Coyoacan, Mexico?
TROTSKY: My wife, my collaborators – my secretaries.
GOLDMAN: How many secretaries have you?
TROTSKY: Three – or four. My Russian secretary does not live in this house.
GOLDMAN: How many years, approximately, have you been connected with the revolutionary Marxist movement?
TROTSKY: Exactly forty years.
GOLDMAN: Would you tell us exactly when it began?
TROTSKY: It began in 1887, in March, in Nikolaiev, where I organized the first illegal workers’ organization in this town, called the “South Russian Workers’ Union.” It was 1897, I should have said.
GOLDMAN: I think in my opening statement I made reference to the beginning of your revolutionary career as 1902, and I was mistaken.
TROTSKY: It was the beginning of my fight against the terrorists. You mentioned the date of 1902. That was the date of publication in London of my first article against the terrorists. Because the question of terrorism became very important in the Russian revolutionary movement.
GOLDMAN: The record will show that I made a mistake in my opening speech in so far as I said that Trotsky’s revolutionary activities commenced with 1902. Now, will you kindly give us a resume of the main events of your political biography?
TROTSKY: After the creation of the illegal organization of workers in Nikolaiev, I was arrested. I remained two and a half years in prison, was deported to Siberia for four years, participated in Siberia in the creation of an illegal workers’ organization of Siberia, I escaped from Siberia after two years’ sojourn. At that time I gave myself the name “Trotsky,” on a passport which I wrote myself. I went to London and I adhered to the organization of Iskra, directed at that time by Plekhanov and Lenin. I remained – it was my first exile – two and a half years. At this time I devoted myself to the revolutionary activity on the Marxist paper, the Iskra, and to agitation amongst the Russian émigrés, and studies of Europe. The most important topic of our discussions and struggles was the question of terrorism, individual terrorism, at this time from 1902 until 1905, the first revolution.
GOLDMAN: What did you do in 1905?
TROTSKY: At the beginning of 1905 I went illegally to Russia. I was busy for a year with revolutionary activity. At the end of a year, I became a member of the first Soviet in Petrograd, then a member of the Executive Committee, and, at the end, the chairman of the first Petrograd Soviet, in 1905.
GOLDMAN: How old were you at that time?
TROTSKY: Twenty-and-six. My revolutionary activity began in my eighteenth year.
GOLDMAN: What rôle did you play in the 1905 revolution, Mr. Trotsky?
TROTSKY: I was chairman of the – after the arrest of the first chairman, I was chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, editor of two papers, one a popular paper and the other one a theoretical paper. I played an active rôle. I was arrested with the Soviet, all of the Soviet together, and remained in prison one and a half years. I was condemned to deportation, perpetual deportation to Siberia. But I remained in Siberia only eight days. I escaped to Austria. I published during seven years in Austria a paper for the Russian workers called Pravda, “The Truth.”
GOLDMAN: In Austria?
TROTSKY: In Austria. It was illegally introduced into Russia. I participated, also, in the workers’ movement of Austria. At the beginning of the war ―
GOLDMAN: The World War?
TROTSKY: The World War of 1914. I then left Austria for Switzerland. I participated in the workers’ movement in Switzerland.
GOLDMAN: Were you expelled from Austria?
TROTSKY: As a Russian. All the Russians were notified by the police that they must leave the country or be put into a concentration camp.
GOLDMAN: You left Austria?
TROTSKY: For Switzerland, I began a campaign against chauvinism which invaded the Second International at that time, I wrote a book, The War and the International, in Switzerland, which is translated in English and was published in the United States. Then I left Switzerland for France.
GOLDMAN: When was that?
TROTSKY: It was at the end of 1914, the first year of the war. I believe it was October, 1914. In France I began publishing, with other friends, a Russian daily paper which remained under the surveillance of the military censorship for two and a half years.
GOLDMAN: So you were in France two and a half years during the war?
TROTSKY: Yes, during the war, and all the time I was devoted to the fight against the war. It seems now incredible, but at the beginning, the first years of the war, the democracy preserved and retained some rights in France. They expelled me from France only at the end of 1916.
GOLDMAN: Where were you expelled to, what country?
TROTSKY: To Spain. I was arrested by the police of His Majesty, Alphonso XIII, for a week’s sojourn in the Carcel Modelo in Madrid. I remained under police surveillance for a month, and then was deported to the United States.
GOLDMAN: Approximately when was that, Mr. Trotsky?
TROTSKY: That was in January 1917.
GOLDMAN: When did you reach the United States?
TROTSKY: It was in January; we met the New Year on the sea.
GOLDMAN: You arrived in the United States January 1917?
GOLDMAN: How long were you in the United States, and what were your activities there?
TROTSKY: I continued the same activity – that is, the fight against war and chauvinism. I published – I participated in the publishing of – a Russian daily paper and also in the activity of the American Socialist Party. I had conflicts with Hillquit and with Algernon Lee, publishing the discussions, half in Russian, half in German, and in English.
GOLDMAN: Can you tell us something of the story to the effect that you were a tailor in New York?
GOLDMAN: Yes, there are some stories ―
TROTSKY: Unfortunately, I did not learn any productive trade in my life. I regret that very much. (Laughter)
GOLDMAN: And when did you leave New York?
TROTSKY: After the first cable coming from Petrograd about the revolution. We began to take steps to get back to Russia – the revolutionary émigrés. That was in the beginning of March. But the British authorities arrested me on the way.
TROTSKY: It was near Halifax. They put me in a concentration camp as an alleged agent of Germany.
GOLDMAN: So this is not the first time you are an alleged agent of Germany?
TROTSKY: No. It is the second time.
GOLDMAN: Who got you out of the concentration camp in Canada?
TROTSKY: I remained in the concentration camp a month with German sailors – very good fellows – and we became very friendly on the basis of the agitation of Karl Liebknecht. I had full freedom in the camp of concentration to explain to the sailors my opinion about the war. Then the Soviet of Petrograd insisted on my release.
GOLDMAN: The Petrograd Soviet did not believe anything about your being a German agent?
TROTSKY: I think that the British Government did not believe it themselves, because a declaration made by the ambassador at the time tried to shift the responsibility upon the old Tsarist Okhrana, the Tsarist intelligence service, whose agent made such representations before the British authorities.
GOLDMAN: I want to go back a minute, Mr. Trotsky. What was the rôle played by the Tsarist police at the time you were expelled from France, if they played any rôle at all?
TROTSKY: Yes, they played an important rôle. They insisted through the French deputies – the embassy insisted – upon my expulsion before Briand, the prime minister; but he rejected this. I repeat, a certain measure of rights and democracy remained intact during the first years of the war. Then the Tsarist Okhrana made use of an incident in Toulon. There were Russian soldiers in Toulon. In the atmosphere of a freer country, they protested against their colonel, and the protest ended in the assassination of the colonel. I had nothing to do with the matter. But through the agent of the Okhrana – I believe his name was Vining – it was discovered that my paper was among the soldiers. An agent provocateur put my daily paper into the pockets of many soldiers. The police discovered that. It was an important story in the political life of France at the time. Nevertheless, I was expelled from France.
GOLDMAN: Did they accuse you of inciting the soldiers to murder?
TROTSKY: Officially, there was no accusation. The prefecture of police notified me – they explained to me that it was impossible for them to give me further hospitality because they were in friendly alliance with the Russian Government. I immediately left the country.
GOLDMAN: Now to go back to the time you were in the concentration camp. When did you leave the concentration camp in Canada?
TROTSKY: It was the second half of March or the first half of April, 1917.
GOLDMAN: Do you remember any statement that Lenin made at that time in reply to the charge that you were a German agent?
TROTSKY: Yes, I believe I have it here.
DEWEY: Will his relations with Lenin be gone into later?
GOLDMAN: I am asking certain questions that I deem important, and the Commissioners in the cross-examination can enter into any question that I have left out which they deem important.
TROTSKY: I believe it is –
GOLDMAN: Well, we need not spend time looking for the document.
TROTSKY: Excuse me, this is the document. I can read it if you wish.
GOLDMAN: It is dated April 16. Reading the quotation from the article written by Lenin with reference to the arrest of Leon Trotsky as an alleged German agent, on April 16, 1917. This is the beginning of the sentence, and refers to the time when he was in the concentration camp:
Can one even for a moment believe the trustworthiness of the statement that Trotsky, the chairman of the Soviet of Workers’ Delegates in St. Petersburg in 1905 – a revolutionary who has sacrificed years to disinterested service of revolution – that this man has anything to do with a scheme subsidized by the German government? This is a patent, unheard-of, and malicious slander of a revolutionary. From whom did you get your information, Mr. Buchanan? Why don’t you disclose that?
Six men dragged Comrade Trotsky away by his legs and arms, all in the name of friendship for the Provisional Russian Government!
This is cited from Pravda, No.54.
TROTSKY: Permit me the remark that it was in 1917. It was before the October Revolution; it was before the Civil War in Russia; and it was before my activity, together with Lenin, in the building of the Soviet state. At that time, Lenin stated to the Central Committee, on November 14, 1917, the following:
“As for a coalition, I cannot even speak about that seriously. Trotsky long ago said that a union is impossible. Trotsky understood this, and from that time on there has been no better Bolshevik.”
GOLDMAN: I will introduce a photostatic copy of the minutes of the Central Committee at which Lenin made this statement as Exhibit No.1.
GOLDMAN: Now, when did you arrive in Russia, Mr. Trotsky?
TROTSKY: It was the fifth of May 1917.
GOLDMAN: Will you briefly describe the nature of your activities, the relationship with Lenin and the Communist Party between the time of your arrival and the October insurrection?
TROTSKY: I was working together with the Bolshevik Party. There was a group in Petrograd which was the same, programmatically, as the Bolshevik Party, but organizationally independent. I consulted Lenin about whether it would be good that I enter the Bolshevik Party immediately, or whether it would be better that I enter with this good workers’ organization which had three or four revolutionary workers.
GOLDMAN: Three or four?
TROTSKY: Three or four thousand revolutionary workers. We agreed that it would be better to prepare for a merger of the two organizations at the Communist Party Congress. Formally, I remained in that Organization and not in the Bolshevik Party, until August 1917. But the activity was absolutely identical. This was done only to prepare for the merger on a larger scale.
GOLDMAN: What was the name of this organization to which you belonged?
TROTSKY: The name was a very long one. It was composed of workers’ organizations in different parts of the city – rayons.
STOLBERG: That means “interborough.”
GOLDMAN: This rayon is a section of the city?
GOLDMAN: It might be better to call it “interborough” as Commissioner Stolberg suggested.
TROTSKY: Politically we were internationalists.
DEWEY: Mr. Goldman, his relations with Lenin have been gone into. I want to know if later there is to be documentary evidence in support of his present statement.
GOLDMAN: Did you hear the question, Mr. Trotsky? Will you have documentary evidence supporting your statement about your relationship with Lenin in the various years?
TROTSKY: Yes, absolutely.
GOLDMAN: Then, we shall introduce this documentary evidence upon the completion of the cross-examination.
TROTSKY: The most important evidence is the works of Lenin and my works, which are published.
GOLDMAN: We shall furnish the Commission with a bibliography. Now, will you tell us what were your activities during that time, beginning with May 1917? What were your official positions?
TROTSKY: The first thing, after two months or three months of activity, revolutionary activity, under the Bolshevik banner, I was arrested by the democratic Kerensky Government.
GOLDMAN: When was that?
TROTSKY: It was in July, in the middle of July.
GOLDMAN: What happened to Lenin at that time?
TROTSKY: He was obliged to hide in Finland. The accusation against him was the same as against me. The accusation was a plagiarism, taken from the accusation of the British authorities, to the effect that we were, Lenin and myself, agents of Germany.
GOLDMAN: You and Lenin were accused of that?
TROTSKY: Yes, and Zinoviev, Kamenev and Lunacharsky. If Stalin was not accused, it was only because nobody knew his name at that time.
GOLDMAN: When were you released from prison?
TROTSKY: In August, or about the beginning of September.
GOLDMAN: What was the occasion of your release?
TROTSKY: The occasion of my release was the upheaval, the insurrection of Kornilov against Kerensky. “The Bolshevik agents of Germany” – they became the best defenders of the revolution. From prison I went directly to the Winter Palace, and collaborated with the representatives of the Government who accused me of being an agent of Germany. I collaborated in the fight against Kornilov.
GOLDMAN: They accepted your service?
TROTSKY: Yes, with gratitude.
DEWEY: Mr. Goldman, the Commission thinks the previous remark with reference to Stalin, being purely a matter of Mr. Trotsky’s interpretation, should be struck from the record.
TROTSKY: Excuse me. This was absolutely not directed against Stalin, but only to indicate that he could not have the same “honor” of his adversaries because he was not at that time sufficiently known politically. But he was a prominent member of the Bolshevik Party, and in that sense he merited the observations and accusations against us.
DEWEY: The point is, the reason Mr. Trotsky gave is a matter of his personal interpretation.
GOLDMAN: We will not quarrel with the Commission on these minor points. Now, after the Kornilov revolt, will you describe your activities and the activities of Lenin.
TROTSKY: Lenin remained in Finland in illegality, and then Petrograd, until the day of the insurrection. His great influence consisted in his letters to us, to the members of the Central Committee.
GOLDMAN: Were you a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party?
GOLDMAN: When were you elected?
TROTSKY: At the merger congress in August 1917.
GOLDMAN: Now, go ahead.
TROTSKY: Permit me the remark: Lenin and myself, Zinoviev and Kamenev, had the same number of votes as members of the Central Committee.
GOLDMAN: How many were there?
TROTSKY: It was the total vote.
TROTSKY: Unanimously. At the merger Congress, at the election of the Central Committee, four members received all the votes of the Congress. They were Lenin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, and myself – maybe with one or two votes’ difference, or none at all.
GOLDMAN: Now, what were your activities after the Kornilov revolt?
TROTSKY: I became, in a short time, the chairman of the Petrograd Soviet. There was a great change in the mood of the workers.
GOLDMAN: Will you briefly tell us what were your activities during the insurrection?
STOLBERG: During the Kornilov insurrection?
GOLDMAN: I mean, during the October insurrection.
TROTSKY: If you will permit me, I will give you a short quotation from Stalin, who was an objective witness. In an article which he wrote a year after the insurrection, and he tried, I can say, to limit my rôle in the October Revolution, Stalin was nevertheless forced to write the following, which is a quotation from Pravda, the central organ of the Bolshevik Party:
All the work of practical organization of the insurrection was conducted under the immediate leadership of the President of the Petrograd Soviet, Comrade Trotsky. It is possible to declare with certainty that the swift passing of the garrison to the side of the Soviet, and the bold execution of the work of the Military Revolutionary Committee, the Party owes principally and above all to Comrade Trotsky.
That is from Pravda of November 6, 1918.
GOLDMAN: It is a quotation from Stalin?
TROTSKY: Yes. Can you permit me another quotation from him, a very short one of six years later?
Comrade Trotsky played no particular rôle either in the Party or the October insurrection, and could not do so, being a man comparatively new to our party in the October period.
That is six years later.
DEWEY: Where was that published?
TROTSKY: It is published in his book, Trotskyism or Leninism, pages 68 and 69, of the Russian edition. I will submit it to the Commission.
DEWEY: That was in 1924?
TROTSKY: That was 1924.
GOLDMAN: Now, what official positions did you hold in the Soviet Government up to the time of your expulsion from the Communist Party?
TROTSKY: I remained for a certain time, after the seizure of power, President of the Petrograd Soviet, and secretary of the revolutionary military committee which directed the October insurrection. Then, I became People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs and then People’s Commissar of War. I was busy with the organization of the Red Army, and for three years I passed my time in the military train. It was during the Civil War. After the Civil War I remained People’s Commissar of War and I was also busy with many economic questions, building up the state and state economy.
DEWEY: Will you ask him to give the date of this work?
GOLDMAN: Will you give us some dates with reference to your positions?
TROTSKY: Yes. I remained People’s Commissar of War until 1925.
I believe it was in May, 1925, that I was dismissed. After that – I forgot to say that all the time I remained a member of the Politburo. That is the most important position because the genuine ruling body is the Politburo.
GOLDMAN: Of the Communist Party?
TROTSKY: The Politburo of the Communist Party.
GOLDMAN: Who else were members of the Politburo of the Communist Party with you?
TROTSKY: On the Politburo at that time were Lenin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Rykov, Stalin and myself.
GOLDMAN: What was the occasion of your removal as Commissar of War in 1925?
TROTSKY: It was the fight against me – the first Opposition fight with the majority of the Politburo. At that time Stalin was intimately connected with Zinoviev and Kamenev. They were called the “Troika,” or “Triumvirate.” It was created especially against me. They had an illegal organization throughout the country, with codes for cables. Certain secretaries were involved. It was a blow, a genuine blow, against me, with the purpose of dismissing me from the Bureau.
GOLDMAN: Tell us what part you played in the formation and development of the Communist International.
TROTSKY: I played a direct and active rôle at all the first four Congresses. In the time of Lenin, the most important reports concerning the international situation and the tasks of the Communist International were shared between Lenin and myself. All the programmatic manifestoes of the four Congresses were written by me. Some important theses about the strategy of the Comintern were also written by us.
GOLDMAN: When were you exiled? First, when were you expelled from the Party?
TROTSKY: It was in October 1928 – I believe in October 1928.
GOLDMAN: What was the reason for your expulsion?
TROTSKY: The reason was my fight against the new ruling caste, the new privileges and the uncontrolled power. That was the reason for the expulsion. It was the first croquis for this book. (Referring to the verbatim report of the trial of Radek-Pyatakov, et al.)
LAFOLLETTE: The first sketch, he means.
TROTSKY: If we put together all the accusations against the Opposition, you will see that the indictment is only the sum total of the accusations beginning in 1924.
DEWEY: Mr. Goldman, would it not be better to go into that as a separate matter?
DEWEY: He gave his reason for his expulsion. Will you ask him what reason the Party gave?
GOLDMAN: What were the reasons, what were the pretexts which the Party gave for your expulsion?
TROTSKY: Many of them. There was a story about an officer of Wrangel. We published programmatic documents; they were written on a typewriter.
GOLDMAN: Who is “we”?
TROTSKY: We? The Opposition. The Party papers refused to publish our documents, absolutely loyal documents in which we criticized certain proceedings of the bureaucracy. We published them by mimeograph. It was done by young comrades I don’t know where, who, or how. But they then accused us of publishing the documents with the help of an officer of Wrangel. [Wrangel was a White-Guard general – Ed.] I was absolutely astonished. It was then established that the officer of Wrangel was an agent of the GPU for many years; that he approached a young Oppositionist and proposed to get him a mimeograph and ink and service. The young man accepted. It was then the GPU declared that he was not an agent of the GPU, but an officer of Wrangel. Perhaps it was correct that before he became an agent of the GPU he was an officer, for a time, in the army of General Wrangel.
GOLDMAN: Just briefly, will you tell us the struggle on the fundamental, theoretical questions between the Left Opposition and the Party majority – very briefly.
TROTSKY: We were fighting the party bureaucracy, the Soviet bureaucracy, and the trade-union bureaucracy. We were in favor of cutting the privileges of the ruling caste in favor of the masses.
We were for an international policy as the basis of revolutionary Marxism as against the new national, conservative policy of the State.
GOLDMAN: After your expulsion from the Party, where did you live, in what city?
TROTSKY: For a few weeks in Moscow. Then I was deported to Central Asia, to Alma-Ata, near the Chinese border
GOLDMAN: What activities did you carry on there, in Alma-Ata?
TROTSKY: I wrote two books; many letters, political letters, to the comrades. The books are published now in English by the Pioneer Publishers of New York. They are: The Third International After Lenin and The Permanent Revolution.
GOLDMAN: You wrote these books while you were in Alma-Ata?
TROTSKY: In Alma-Ata, with the help of my wife and my son, who were my secretaries.
GOLDMAN: How did you get the manuscripts out of Russia? How did you distribute the manuscripts in Russia?
TROTSKY: It was not published in Russia. But the Sixth Congress of the Communist International took place in August, 1928. The representatives from different countries were interested in my criticism of the official program of the Comintern. They asked for the manuscript. The manuscript was delivered to them, and there was the possibility of its getting abroad, to the United States, for example.
GOLDMAN: You said you were expelled from the Party in October of 1928?
TROTSKY: No, 1927.
GOLDMAN: You want to correct yourself?
TROTSKY: Yes, 1928 I passed in Central Asia.
GOLDMAN: Where did you go from Alma-Ata?
TROTSKY: To Turkey.
GOLDMAN: How did it happen that you went to Turkey?
TROTSKY: An agent of the GPU came to me in Alma-Ata and presented me with a summons to abandon all political activities, my writings, and so on. I declared: “Only treacherous bureaucrats can ask such things from a revolutionary, only renegades can act in such a way.” Then he declared that he must wait for a decision.
After a week or so, he told me that I would be sent abroad,
GOLDMAN: And did you go abroad voluntarily?
TROTSKY: No, I believe the circumstances show that it was not voluntary. In my autobiography, I explain all the circumstances. I present that to the Commission.
GOLDMAN: Who was with you at the time you were deported from Russia to Turkey?
TROTSKY: My wife, and our older son, Leon Sedov, who is now in Paris, France.
GOLDMAN: How long did you live in Turkey?
TROTSKY: Four and a half years.
DEWEY: Would he give the dates of arrival and leaving?
GOLDMAN: When did you arrive in Turkey?
TROTSKY: February 1929.
GOLDMAN: Will you tell us the nature of your activities while you were there?
TROTSKY: I began to publish a Russian monthly, the Bulletin of the Opposition, which I submit to the Commission because it is the most genuine expression of my political opinions – the genuine and permanent expression of my political opinions during my last exile. Then, I wrote some books which are also published in English in the United States. They are the story of my life, an autobiography published by Scribner’s; The History of the Russian Revolution, published by Simon and Schuster; and many pamphlets which present a new and particular interest in view of the accusations. I published, at that time, Germany, The Key to the International Situation, written in 1931; What Next, The Problems of the German Proletariat, published in New York; The Only Road, a pamphlet. All of them are devoted to the fight against German fascism, and they were published in New York. Then articles – The Impending Danger of Fascism in Germany, January 9, 1932; What Is Fascism, January 6, 1932 I See War with Germany, July 13, 1932; How Can Fascism be Smashed in Germany, February 20, 1933; The Tragedy of the German Proletariat, April 8, 1933; Hitler and the Red Army, April 8, 1933.
DEWEY: Mr. Goldman, we have been handed this list. Can we receive that as his testimony?
GOLDMAN: Then we will introduce it into evidence.
TROTSKY: Permit me only to emphasize the number of articles directed against fascism, without reading them.
GOLDMAN: Then, we will introduce into evidence the bibliography of articles and books written by Trotsky at various points in his career, with special emphasis that these works were written by him while in exile in Turkey.
GOLDMAN: Did you ever leave Turkey while you were in exile there?
TROTSKY: One time.
GOLDMAN: When was that?
TROTSKY: That was in November 1932. I left for Copenhagen.
GOLDMAN: Who were with you at the time you left?
TROTSKY: My wife and my collaborators, during the entire travel to Copenhagen.
GOLDMAN: Here I want to state before the Commission that at another point in the introduction of my evidence I shall go into great detail with reference to this trip. At the present time, I simply want to make clear for the record and to the Commission that I am not going into great detail because I intend at the proper time to go into very great detail on this matter. Is that acceptable?
DEWEY: That will be satisfactory.
GOLDMAN: When did you arrive in Copenhagen?
TROTSKY: We started the 14th of November 1932, and we arrived in Copenhagen the 23rd of November 1932.
GOLDMAN: How long did you stay in Copenhagen?
TROTSKY: Eight days.
GOLDMAN: What did you do there?
TROTSKY: I was invited by the Social-Democratic Students for the purpose of giving a lecture on the Russian Revolution.
GOLDMAN: And did you deliver any speeches there?
TROTSKY: Yes, I delivered a speech on the Russian Revolution, at a meeting. Then, I gave a radio message to the United States on the Russian Revolution.
GOLDMAN: Have you a copy of the speeches?
GOLDMAN: Later on we shall introduce copies of these two speeches before the Commission.
TROTSKY: Then, I also made a gramophone record speech for the Left Opposition.
LAFOLLETTE: A phonographic record?
TROTSKY: Yes. It was a speech concerning the methods of the Left Opposition, especially for the propaganda of the Left Opposition.
GOLDMAN: You can furnish the Commission with a copy of that speech?
TROTSKY: Yes. I can give important quotations, but it is not necessary.
GOLDMAN: It is not necessary now.
TROTSKY: I also spoke for the actualities, the film actualities.
LAFOLLETTE: The newsreels.
GOLDMAN: When did you leave Copenhagen?
TROTSKY: It was the 2nd of December 1932.
GOLDMAN: When did you return to Turkey?
TROTSKY: On the 11th, I returned to Turkey. Our trip lasted a month.
GOLDMAN: When was the next time you left Turkey?
TROTSKY: Excuse me a moment. I will find my material. I received a French visa on the 12th of July 1933.
GOLDMAN: When did you leave?
TROTSKY: I left the 17th of July 1933 from Istanbul [Constantinople] on the Italian ship Bulgaria, and I arrived at Marseilles on the morning of the 24th of July.
GOLDMAN: How long did you reside in France?
TROTSKY: I resided in France two years – yes, two years.
GOLDMAN: When did you leave France?
TROTSKY: On June 13, 1935, for Norway. On the 18th of June 1935 I came to Oslo.
GOLDMAN: Where did you reside while you were in France?
TROTSKY: The first two months or more I resided in Saint Palais. It is a small village near Royan.
GOLDMAN: For the purpose of the record, I want to state before the Commission that I shall go into great detail with reference to this question later on, when I am dealing with the testimony of Vladimir Romm, the testimony that he produced at the Moscow trial. Now I am just going into this in a general way.
DEWEY: The Commission will reserve its cross-examination on this matter until you bring up that special matter.
GOLDMAN: After Royan, where did you live?
TROTSKY: In Bagnères, in the Pyrenees.
GOLDMAN: How long did you reside there?
TROTSKY: Four weeks.
GOLDMAN: And after that?
TROTSKY: I received permission from the Government to live near the center of France. It was in the town of Barbizon, which was about two hours by train or car from Paris.
GOLDMAN: Were you ever in Paris?
TROTSKY: Yes, during my sojourn I visited Paris two or three times, but it was in the winter.
GOLDMAN: I think you said you resided in France up to July or June of 1935?
TROTSKY: I left France the 13th of June 1935 for Oslo.
GOLDMAN: Briefly, will you describe your activities while you were in France?
TROTSKY: I continued the same activities. I published the Russian Bulletin. I wrote some books, I worked on the biography of Lenin, I published some pamphlets and many articles in the world press.
GOLDMAN: All these books and pamphlets are contained in the bibliography I handed the Commission before?
GOLDMAN: Describe the circumstances under which you lived in France.
TROTSKY: My situation in France became very acute after the fascist uprising of February 6, 1934 – of de La Rocque. At that time the fascist press in Germany accused me of preparing a revolutionary insurrection in France. Goebbels published – I believe it was Rosenberg, who stated in an issue of the Völkischer Beobachter, the central organ of the fascist Party – or, rather, accused me of being behind the preparation of an insurrection in France. The reactionary press in France reproduced all the accusations by special telephonic communication from Germany. There was a very great campaign carried on, and all the papers were greatly involved.
The so-called Communist paper attacked me with the same vigor, only with the difference that the Communist paper, l’Humanité, accused me of being an agent of the French Government and of preparing a military invasion of the Soviet Union.
GOLDMAN: Did the French Government ask you to leave?
TROTSKY: That question is a very difficult one, because there was a declaration that I must leave France. But the authorities explained that it was only a concession to the press campaign, the agitation of the press. After this declaration I remained in France for more than a year, but incognito.
GOLDMAN: Where were you during that time?
TROTSKY: First in the department of Seine-et-Marne, then in the department de l’Isére, near Grenoble.
GOLDMAN: How did it happen that you finally had to leave France?
TROTSKY: Flandin was head of the Government at that time. When I came, it was the Government of Daladier which gave me the authorization to come in, principally through the intervention of the Radical Deputy Guernut. Guernut was Minister of Education. The authorization was given on condition that I remain in Corsica. They were a bit afraid of the possibility of demonstrations by the fascists and the Stalinists in France. The idea of Corsica was given by myself.
GOLDMAN: Pardon me, Mr. Trotsky, we will go into that question in great detail later on.
LAFOLLETTE: Will the exact dates in the Völkischer Beobachter and l’Humanité be given?
GOLDMAN: You can ask this question under cross-examination. Now tell us exactly the circumstances under which you left France in June of 1935.
TROTSKY: The political event was the new Government in Norway, the Government of the Workers Party. That was the first time that the Workers’ Party took power – or rather, took office – in Norway. The Norwegian Workers’ Party had the reputation of being a radical party. It did not belong to the Second International. In the past, it belonged to the Third International. I asked my friends if it would be possible to get a visa through the Government of the Workers’ Party. It was a very quiet country. I received a very positive answer. Then I made a formal request and received a visa, and we left for Norway.
GOLDMAN: When did you arrive in Norway?
TROTSKY: It was the 18th of June 1935.
GOLDMAN: Is that when you left France or when you arrived?
TROTSKY: When we arrived. I left France on the 13th.
GOLDMAN: Where did you live while you were in Norway?
TROTSKY: We lived in the village of Weksal, near a small town called Hønefoss, a town of 4,000 inhabitants. It is two hours from Oslo by car or train.
GOLDMAN: Will you briefly tell us the nature of your activities while you remained near Oslo?
TROTSKY: I wrote the book, The Revolution Betrayed, many articles and pamphlets. They are enumerated in the documents.
GOLDMAN: Referring to Exhibit No.2 presented to the Commission.
TROTSKY: I had correspondence with my friends in all countries.
GOLDMAN: What was the occasion of your leaving Oslo, and where did you go from Oslo, from this place near Oslo?
TROTSKY: The Norwegian Government arrested me at the end of August 1936, after the Zinoviev-Kamenev trial. The pretext was that I developed political activity, and as a proof of my political activity is quoted in the official statement of the police my article in the American Nation on France – a proof of my criminal activity. But the genuine cause was the pressure from the Soviet Union.
BEALS: Will you present proof of that pressure?
GOLDMAN: You say that the pressure of the Soviet Union was the cause of your removal ―
TROTSKY: Of my arrest, together with my wife.
GOLDMAN: In what way can you prove that? Have you documents? Or logical proof?
TROTSKY: I have some friends in Norway – and my lawyer. Norway is not a large country. It has only three million population. Everything is known immediately. I knew of the visits of Yakubovich, the Russian ambassador, to the Foreign Minister of Norway, and of the intervention of the shipowners.
GOLDMAN: Were these published in any press at the time? That is, these facts?
TROTSKY: These facts were published in articles by Helge Krog, a very brilliant young Norwegian author who took up my defense in a liberal paper. He was a member of the Workers’ Party. He defended me, not in the workers’ press, but in a liberal press which appeared there.
GOLDMAN: Which press?
TROTSKY: The Dagbladet. It is a great liberal paper of Oslo. He explained the situation in that paper.
BEALS: The only point that I was raising – you had mentioned this arrest and this prosecution were the result of pressure from the Soviet Government,
TROTSKY: Yes, I made a long deposition before the Norwegian court as a witness in the case concerning the theft of a part of my archives. I gave testimony under oath as a witness. It was behind closed doors. All my testimony was written up, and I will present it to the Commission. It is official testimony, and I explained that by the threats of the Soviet press everything is prepared against me. It was absolutely clear during July, before the trial, the August trial. I declared to Deputy Knudsen, in whose house I stayed – the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway was at that time in Moscow – “In Moscow there is conversation about my head.” He answered: “You believe” – he was a member of the Government – “You believe we are ready to sell your head?” “No,” I answered him, “I believe the Moscow Government is ready to buy my head.” That was in July 1935. The pressure from the Moscow ―
GOLDMAN: July 1935?
TROTSKY: No, 1936. And then, the best proof is the so-called Communist paper. The Communist papers are not papers of the revolution or of the international workers’ movement, but organs of Moscow diplomacy, and especially the GPU. The Comintern papers are the official papers of the GPU. I say that on the basis of my experiences of years.
GOLDMAN: Mr. Trotsky, permit me to interrupt you at this point. Before August 1936 were you molested by the Norwegian Government?
TROTSKY: Not yet molested, but I had the impression and also the information from my friends that something was being prepared against me in the bureaus of the Government,
GOLDMAN: When was the first time you were arrested in Norway?
TROTSKY: I was arrested the 27th of August.
GOLDMAN: Was that before or after the Zinoviev trial?
TROTSKY: It was after the Zinoviev trial.
GOLDMAN: And the pretext was the article you wrote for The Nation?
TROTSKY: One of the pretexts. The pretext, or the point of departure of the prosecution, was the night attack of the fascists on my home.
GOLDMAN: When was that?
TROTSKY: The fifth of August.
GOLDMAN: The fifth of August when the fascists attacked you in your home?
GOLDMAN: And before that were you arrested for anything at all?
GOLDMAN: So that the first time you were arrested was in August 1936, after the Zinoviev-Kamenev trial?
GOLDMAN: I submit to the Commission that you can cross-examine Mr. Trotsky after I get through. The question of whether or not the Soviet Union was behind the arrest is a question fundamentally of argument based upon logical deduction.
DEWEY: It is one o’clock and so I will consult the other members of the Commission with regard to adjournment. I will say that we will leave his testimony regarding the case of his arrest as coming from the Soviet Government in the record for the present, with the right to have it struck out later, unless some documentary evidence is presented. The Commission will resume its sittings at four o’clock in the afternoon.
Last updated on: 22.4.2007