GOLDMAN: Mr. Trotsky, I would like to ask you one question I forgot to ask you this morning. But before that I want to introduce an exhibit with reference to the incident of Copenhagen on the question of the Hotel Bristol. We have just received a letter which we would like to introduce into evidence, and the Commission can suggest to any other sub-commission that it examine the writer of this letter, who is in Copenhagen. It is dated March 23, 1937, and it reads as follows:
Having lived in Copenhagen without interruption since 1931, and having taken part in the Socialist movement all the time, I can attest:
1. In the year 1932 there did not exist any Trotskyists in Denmark.
2. The first Trotskyist organization in Denmark came up in the autumn of 1934, as a Social-Democratic opposition group passed over to Trotskyism. This organization has existed ever since, and I have been the chairman all the time, and I attest that all the time the organization has existed we have not held a single meeting or conference in the coffee-house Bristol. I myself have never been there, and the very existence of the coffee-house was quite unknown to me until I read the article in Arbeiderbladet.
As an explanation, I want to remark that the Communist press claimed that the Café Bristol was a “Trotskyist hangout.” The letter is signed by Poul Moth, chairman of the Trotskyist organization, “Leninistisk Arbejdsgruppe” in Copenhagen. I introduce it into evidence, and ask the Commission, if it wishes, to investigate this further, I introduce this as Exhibit No.17.
I want to say this, that all documents that I introduce into evidence, coming from strangers and others referring to the incidents that happened some time ago – we do not vouch for the absolute correctness of these documents. We think they are correct. We hope that the Commission will find means of investigating these facts.
Mistakes in memory are very possible. This refers, for instance, to the document I introduced this morning by B.J. Field and his wife, referring to events in 1932. It may be mistaken as to details.
I want to read into the record a statement by Jan Frankel. He says:
“1. I fear that the language handicap hindered me from expressing my complete thoughts in answering Mr. Beals’s question regarding whether or not I might conceal the presence of Holtzman out of loyalty to Trotsky. I tried to explain that the basis of my collaboration with Trotsky is my political solidarity with his conceptions, which are Marxist ones. These Marxist conceptions made it superfluous for Trotsky and his political friends even to discuss whether or not we must employ individual terrorism in the fight against the Stalinist bureaucracy.
“In this way, Mr. Beals’s question answers itself. My loyalty to Trotsky could not be maintained on a basis diametrically opposed to all my thoughts and convictions, If Holtzman had actually visited Trotsky but had not received instructions of a terrorist nature, there would be no reason whatsoever for me to conceal the visit. On the other hand, had Holtzman come and received such instructions, the political solidarity upon which my collaboration with Trotsky is based would no longer exist. I would break with Trotsky and become his political adversary. Thus, in either case. I would have no motive for remaining silent about such a visit, had it actually materialized.
“Furthermore, I must state that the visits neither of Sedov nor of Holtzman could have been kept hidden, even by Trotsky’s ‘closest’ and ‘most loyal’ friends, since many of these friends have since become his most bitter enemies.
“2. It seems to me that Raymond Molinier and I had one or more telephone conversations with Leon Sedov in Berlin from Molinier’s hotel, in Copenhagen Palace, in addition to my calls from the house. The period concerned is from Nov. 24th to Dec. 1st, 1932. May I take the liberty to suggest to the Commission that an investigation in this connection might be possible and fruitful?”
For the benefit of the press, I want to spell out the name of the writer of this letter I introduced before, from Copenhagen. It is a letter from Poul Moth. The first name is spelled P-o-u-l. It may be a different way of spelling “Paul” in Denmark.
Now, Mr. Trotsky, I would like to ask you the question why all the precautions were taken on your trip from Marseilles to Royan – why some persons in your party went to Royan by a different route, and why others went to Paris? Will you explain to us the necessity of all this caution?
TROTSKY: We tried in this manner to hide our future address from the adversary. Van Heijenoort, with a small baggage, went to Lyon. He gave the impression to the journalists – I will not in any case offend the journalists; I, in a manner, adhere to the same profession. But it was not against the journalists; it was a political measure of self-defense. He gave the impression that he went to Paris and that Shachtman, with the big baggage and boxes, went to Paris. And Sara Weber also went to Paris. So, everybody in Marseilles thought that my wife and myself were also going to Paris by other means, by car or airplane. All our baggage was directed to Paris. That was our purpose – to betray the adversaries, to disorientate them. That we succeeded – we succeeded very well. The deposition of Vladimir Romm shows that we succeeded in betraying the GPU.
GOLDMAN: You mean “confuse”?
BEALS: What evidence do you have that the GPU was following you there?
TROTSKY: You know, this question makes me a bit perplexed. Excuse me, Mr. Commissioner. You see, all the trials are directed against me. The GPU wants to give me a vital blow. It is the aim of all the trials. It signifies that before the trials the GPU must collect material against me.
BEALS: The point is whether you did that because you were followed by the GPU, feared the GPU, or whether you knew they were following you.
TROTSKY: I was absolutely sure they had threatened to follow me, absolutely sure. They have a sufficient number of agents, because every functionary of the Comintern, of the French Communist Party, is an agent of the GPU. And in the United States, the same. The Politburos of the Communist Parties all consist of paid agents of the GPU.
BEALS: Well, I was just asking if you had definite evidence ―
TROTSKY: If the Commission will appoint an investigation of the Comintern ―
BEALS: I was just asking for evidence of your statement. You made a statement, and I was wondering whether you could prove it.
TROTSKY: I made the affirmation based upon my fight and experience.
BEALS: You used a very definite phrase, Mr, Trotsky. You said the GPU was following you, and you did that because the GPU was following you back and forth from there. I said, how did you know, in that stretch of country, how did you know that they were following you?
TROTSKY: It is my conclusion, not my evidence. The conclusion I will make in my final speech, if you wish.
BEALS: I might have the same conclusion, but I have not the proof.
TROTSKY: I will develop my position on that question immediately. I preferred to do it at the end. The proof is that Romm affirmed twice that he met me at the end of July 1935. You must ask yourself: Why at the end of July 1935? Why, especially, at the moment when I was in St. Palais? Why do they choose that moment? I explained why very clearly; that we tried to confuse them by some measures. We directed our collaborators to Paris, our baggage to Paris, Van Heijenoort to Lyon. It was an expense of money and time, and more important, of forces, of people, of friends. For what purpose? It was more simple to go directly with the baggage and with my friends, my young friends, my collaborators, to St. Palais.
What was the reason we sent people to Paris? What was the reason? Only one: That I am a man persecuted by the perfidious Organization, the GPU.
DEWEY: Mr. Trotsky, you said “1935.”
GOLDMAN: You mean 1933?
TROTSKY: 1933 – in the same period, yes. If you read the Communist Party press of Marseilles, if you read the Communist Party press of every town in France, you will see that it is a device of the GPU. They will not discuss with me as I discuss with them. I say: Your policy is bad. They denounce me as an agent of the French military staff or an agent of the German military staff. It depends exclusively on the fact of Moscow’s friendship with either Germany or France.
DEWEY: I think we will hear that at the end, Mr. Trotsky. Mr. Beals wishes to ask another question.
BEALS: I do want to ask about some other documents. One was the telegram which you received in Constantinople. I presume the Commission will look into it. I would like to clarify a point in my mind. I could not tell to whom that telegram was addressed.
TROTSKY: Sedov, wasn’t it?
BEALS: I think it was from the French authorities.
TROTSKY: Sedov. It was the name of my wife and my legal Soviet name. The passport was given me in the name of Sedov for my trip to Europe, and for my exile they gave me a passport with the name of my wife. The Russian laws permit it. It was done not to expose us to the curiosity of the public.
BEALS: Can I see the telegram? (Mr. Trotsky hands telegram to Commissioner Beals.) It is here addressed, but what I don’t understand is “Buyukada.”
VAN HEIJENOORT: It is the Turkish name for Prinkipo. Buyukada signifies “Greek island.”
BEALS: I want also to ask you: You travel under the passport given under the name of Sedov by the French Government?
TROTSKY: From where?
TROTSKY: From the Turkish Government. After I was deprived of Soviet citizenship, I left my passport from the soviet Government. They delivered to me a Turkish passport for foreigners.
BEALS: That was the passport you traveled on, to France?
BEALS: Will you present that as evidence?
TROTSKY: Yes, I can present it.
GOLDMAN: Will you make a notation of that?
BEALS: Also, for instance, I noticed in this letter from the hotel in the town of Tonneins that it mentioned a party of five which stopped on that day. Does not that hotel keep a record of its guests’ names?
TROTSKY: There is a letter here stating that we had reason to avoid giving our names.
BEALS: My understanding is that in all hotels in France you are required to give your names and passports.
VAN HEIJENOORT: (speaking in French.)
LAFOLLETTE: He says he wants to make a statement in French.
VAN HEIJENOORT (through interpreter): The village is located in the summer resort region. This was the season of the summer vacation, and it is very common in such districts during the vacation season, that when people come only for one night, they do not bother to fill out the usual form of staying overnight in a hotel. When I arrived the next day, after landing at St. Palais, I discussed with Molinier their experiences on the trip, having come different ways. Molinier explained that when they arrived late at the hotel, they went to bed right away, intending to fill out the forms the following morning. But when the morning came they were anxious to go away as rapidly as they could. Molinier, who hurried the departure, left without filling out the forms.
TROTSKY: We did not foresee that we would not give our signatures. Mr. Commissioner. We tried giving our names to the hotel keeper.
GOLDMAN: Perhaps Mr. Trotsky did not quite understand Mr. Beals’s question about his proof of the GPU. Mr. Beals’s question is a very legitimate one. We have no direct evidence that Mr. Trotsky saw a certain man who was an agent of the GPU. We have no direct proofs to offer. But his whole life-story since his exile, all the trials, all his tribulations, the stealing of his archives, the fact that Romm made such a statement that he met him in July 1933 – all this, as far as Mr. Trotsky and as far as I am concerned, is conclusive proof that the GPU had been following him. Otherwise, there would be no explanation whatever.
BEALS: The only thing I wished to bring out was to keep the testimony on the basis of proof rather than opinion.
GOLDMAN: That is perfectly correct. But there are certain things that happened, and you draw deductions that another thing is true. Now, are there any other documents that you have in your files which would corroborate your testimony that you spent two months in St. Palais and from there left for Southern France? Have you any other documents that you want to present?
TROTSKY: My letters to friends and visits to me. I have had, as I mentioned – I had about fifty visits of people coming from Paris, England, from Holland, Belgium, and so on. Among these people we find my best friends for years, such as Naville, for example, and Sneevliet from Holland. If I should be in Paris to meet him, an unknown man – Vladimir Romm – a young man whom I met for the first time, as he explained, I would meet other people, my old friends.
GOLDMAN: Mr. Trotsky, may I interrupt just a moment? Would you not save the argument, your conclusions, for the final dosing of the case? And now, simply to the facts.
TROTSKY: We will come to that.
GOLDMAN: Have you the affidavit of Sara Weber?
TROTSKY: Yes, and Max Shachtman’s. I believe on a box – we have a box with the initials of Max Shachtman on the box. The box can testify in our favor. (Laughter) His initials are on the box.
GOLDMAN: The Commissioners can get the box later. It is right here.
TROTSKY: And all the boxes with the initials of Max Shachtman.
GOLDMAN (Pointing to a large trunk on which are the initials “M.S.”)
TROTSKY: We had, I believe, ten or twelve boxes with the same marks. It remains from the year 1933, and our trip from France coincides with the testimony of Max Shachtman, the legal testimony of Max Shachtman.
GOLDMAN: We have a series of depositions. ―
TROTSKY: Of Van Heijenoort.
GOLDMAN: – of people who were with Mr. Trotsky at Royan, and a statement from his French collaborator, Mr. van Heijenoort, sitting to the right of Mr. Trotsky. I want to make this statement to the Commission. The time is getting very short. I don’t want to put Mr. Heijenoort on the stand as a witness unless the Commission is absolutely anxious to have him. I suggest that I finish with my examination of Mr. Trotsky first. If there is time available, I would be more than glad to put Mr. Heijenoort on the stand for cross examination. But you can read his statement. And at the end of the – you will read the statement before – then, at the end, if you have questions to put to Mr. Heijenoort, you can put it at the end of my examination of Mr. Trotsky. Is that suitable?
DEWEY: Any questions at the present time?
GOLDMAN: From Mr. Heijenoort. (No questions were asked.)
GOLDMAN: We have here a deposition – the statement, rather – of Natalia Sedov Trotsky, Mr. Trotsky’s wife, and again because of the pressure of time, I suggest that you read this statement. It is in English, and if you have any questions of Mrs. Trotsky, you can save them until the end of the direct examination of Mr. Trotsky.
The Commission can at this time – if they want me to put Mrs. Trotsky on the witness stand, I shall be more than glad to do so. Perhaps, if you have time, I shall favor that, because I want to put them on the stand in order to have them testify in the same manner that Mr. Frankel testified this morning, as a witness, giving the Commissioners an opportunity to cross examine on my direct examination.
We have other documents here, a document by J. Laste to the same general effect – as to his presence with Mr. Trotsky in Royan, that Mr. Trotsky was ill and did not leave the house where he lived at St. Palais. I don’t think it is necessary for us to put into the record all of the depositions. They are cumulative evidence. I simply mention them. I believe that tonight, tomorrow night and every night, the Commission will have time to come here and do this – all of the Commissioners can go through all of these documents and acquaint themselves with the nature of these documents.
Mr. Chairman, the press would like to see the statement of Mrs. Trotsky. With your permission, I can give the press the statement of Mrs. Trotsky now. Then you can take all these statements along with you, and look them over at your leisure tonight. I want to save time.
DEWEY: I certainly have no objection, personally.
GOLDMAN: If any Commissioner has any objection to that ―
BEALS: You are going to introduce that as evidence?
GOLDMAN: We are introducing now all of the documents, all of the statements with reference to Royan. It is my opinion that we have introduced sufficient evidence now, conclusive proof, that Mr. Trotsky was not in Paris and could not have been in Paris at the end of July 1933, when Vladimir Romm claims to have talked to him. Now, to save time, I don’t want to go through all of the documents. They are cumulative evidence. I am going to introduce them into evidence to give the Commissioners an opportunity to examine them at their leisure, and then put questions to the witnesses who are present. Or suggest further examination of the witnesses who are not present.
BEALS: Personally, I think any person, any serious person, should see any of the evidence we have.
GOLDMAN: I shall, then, since there is no objection, give the statement of Mrs. Trotsky to the press.
DEWEY: As far as I am concerned, it is more of a matter for Mrs. Trotsky than for the Commission.
GOLDMAN: I think that since she made the statement for the purpose of making public the record, that I will not assume to ask her this. I will hand it to the press.
LAFOLLETTE: Is this to be handed around to the press, or what is to happen? Will it come back?
GOLDMAN: It will come back here, I am sure. I’m sure of that. We have here a series of depositions of all kinds, of persons who came to visit Mr. Trotsky. I introduce the whole file of what I call the “Royan-Romm incident.” We introduce documents referring to the location of the villa in St. Palais, giving a picture of the whole situation, for whatever they are worth, and documents dealing with the fire in the villa at St. Palais.
Here are very important documents dealing with the political discussions held, I assume, between you and your visitors in 1933, giving the Commissioners an idea of what the actual discussions were that Mr. Trotsky was interested in.
GOLDMAN: Here, I want to quote some excerpts.
DEWEY: I don’t understand. Is this in the form of a deposition?
GOLDMAN: No, the political discussions come from the archives of Mr. Trotsky. I gather that they are excerpts from your archives?
TROTSKY: Yes, if you show them to me I can tell you better.
DEWEY: They are introduced as parts of his archives?
TROTSKY: The document in German is the report of a German Socialist who visited me. He was my adversary – he became my enemy. I will not name him, but I believe his name is known by one member of the Commission, and that the Commission can have more information about this personality. It is a report – I don’t name him only because he does not want it – but it is a general report concerning our discussion. He is an old member of the workers’ movement in Germany, and I could not hide from him the ideas which I had been concealing from Vladimir Romm. (Laughter)
GOLDMAN: Here is a sub-file. We titled the letters “Romm-Royan file.”
TROTSKY: This letter is not written for the Commission. It was written immediately after our discussion for his own organization.
DEWEY: That is what I wanted to find out. It was prepared by this man, not by you?
TROTSKY: It is prepared by this man, the German Socialist, not for my handing to the Commission, but at the time of his visit, to his followers – for the SAP.
DEWEY: You will give us the name in private session?
GOLDMAN: This was written August 23, 1933. Now, here is an interesting sub-file.
INTERPRETER: What Mr. Trotsky said in German was “SAP,” the Socialist Workers Party of Germany.
GOLDMAN: At the time Mr. Trotsky arrived in France, in July 1933 the Communist press wrote many articles about him. We deem it to be relevant to show what the Communist press said at that time concerning Mr. Trotsky. Whereas now they claim – the Communists claim – that Mr. Trotsky called on Romm for terroristic acts against the leaders of the Soviet Union, caused sabotage, and even attempted the organization of a foreign alliance with Hitler and Japan, at that particular time the Communist press – we have excerpts from l’Humanité, the French Communist paper – accused him of being in league with the French Social-Fascists and the French Radical-Fascists against the Soviet Union. [Mr. Goldman here refers to the French Socialist Party and the Radical Socialist Party of France – Ed.] We deem them as being relevant and important, and we add these in the general file of “Royan-Romm”
I introduce all of these documents into evidence for the purpose of having the Commission examine them – put questions to Mr. Trotsky in case they so see fit. I will mark this as Exhibit No.18.
BEALS: May I make just a statement in regard to my previous question to Mr. Trotsky? I state my interest was not in the GPU.
I have a hearty contempt for all secret services of all nations; but it was merely a question of evidence.
GOLDMAN: We understood that.
TROTSKY: And the form of my answer was directed not at all against the Commissioner, but against the GPU.
GOLDMAN: That ends the matter of the alleged visit of Mr. Trotsky to Paris for the purpose of having a conference with Vladimir Romm. Are there any other questions that you want to take up with reference to that matter?
TROTSKY: Yes, two things. The first thing, Vladimir Romm said that he met my son twice before meeting with me. Now, I repeat that the documents delivered by me prove that my son was out of Paris weeks preceding the alleged meeting with Mr. Romm.
GOLDMAN: That will also be subject to the investigation by the Commission in Paris of Sedov.
TROTSKY: The Preliminary Commission on the basis of the documents, significantly, can judge the dates itself. We can suppose it is a mistake. Or, as our famous British lawyer, Mr. Pritt, would say, “a slip of the pen.” But the date is represented two times in the verbal report, in such a manner that the first time Romm said it was in July 1933. At the end of his deposition about the meeting with me, Vyshinsky asked him again about the date. He repeated: “At the end of July 1933.” Two times he repeated that, and the second time with more precision.
GOLDMAN: Will you bring that out in detail in the final conclusion? Will you have that section dealt with in the final argument on Romm?
GOLDMAN: You will bring that out. In American procedure, that will constitute argument, not facts.
TROTSKY: I wanted only to stress the date. It is not a mistake. Because tomorrow we can read ―
STOLBERG: In New York, a bit before your article on the Romm incident appeared in the New York Times, I had lunch with a man, Louis Fischer. He had just come to help Spain in this country. And then, the next day, he read your statement in the Times about the Romm incident. In the afternoon he called me up and he said that in Pravda, since the trials, there appeared a statement that Trotsky did not see Romm only in 1933, but also five or six times in 1934 and so on. That he saw you several times. According to Louis Fischer, that statement appeared in Pravda. Do you understand?
TROTSKY: Yes, I understand. Vladimir Romm is an official witness, not only a witness, but a defendant in another trial. He was arrested, and brought under convoy to the court to give his deposition. If Louis Fischer would be arrested in Moscow and would be presented as a witness, I would analyze his testimony. But now when he writes and tells stories, very confused, it can be nothing I don’t know the dates, the facts, the places.
STOLBERG: I mean, did such a story appear in Pravda?
TROTSKY: I never noticed it. I must say at this question that it is a gift of heaven that I have the possibility to refute his deposition by positive proofs – a negative fact by positive proof. It is a pure accident. If they had named other dates, I would be disarmed – it is possible. But this time I am very well armed.
DEWEY: You have already testified that you never met him.
TROTSKY: Never, never heard his name.
GOLDMAN: Of course, it is very easy; if you don’t meet a man in October, you can meet him in December.
TROTSKY: That is the reason why I insisted upon the date. If you will permit me, I will quote the New York Times about the matter. In the New York Times of February 17, 1937 – that is, a month after the trial – it was the verification of the investigation of the New York Times editorial board itself. I quote:
The ship that brought Mr. Trotsky from Turkey to Marseilles in 1933 docked after he slipped secretly ashore, according to a Marseilles dispatch to the New York Times of July 25, 1933. He had been taken aboard a tugboat three miles outside of the harbor and landed at Cassis, where an automobile was waiting [I explained there were two automobiles, not one]. At that time, Mr. Trotsky was variously reported at Corsica, in Royat, in the center of France, in Vichy.
It signifies that I disappeared from the people, even the press, and the adversary.
DEWEY: I just have one slight question. You say you were visited by about fifty friends?
DEWEY: How did they know you were there?
TROTSKY: They were friends who knew my friends in Paris. The fact that I was in France was known by my friends. For example, the Dutch Parliamentary Deputy Sneevliet, who is an old friend – I wrote him immediately to Amsterdam and I gave him an invitation to come to me, and to meet in Paris Molinier, and Naville, and my son – they would indicate my address. The same to the former secretary of the Independent Labor Party of Great Britain. He was in Paris for a certain conference. He met my son, who indicated to him the possibility of visiting me. The French author Malraux, who visited just now the United States – he visited me also in the same manner.
DEWEY: That is all they knew, whether from your friends or whether they had your direct invitation?
GOLDMAN: Any further questions? (No further questions were asked on this point.)
GOLDMAN: The next matter that I will take up is the question of the trip that Pyatakov is alleged to have made to Oslo in December of 1935. We shall introduce evidence in the same way we have introduced it in the case of the alleged visit of Holtzman to the Hotel Bristol in Copenhagen and in the case of the conversation, or the alleged conversation, which Romm had with Mr. Trotsky, to prove that Pyatakov never did visit Oslo in December 1935 and never did speak with Mr. Trotsky in December 1985. I will first read the testimony of Pyatakov, given in the official Report of the Court Proceedings published by the People’s Commissariat of Justice of the USSR, Moscow, 1937 – I am reading from page 59 – no, I shall begin with the last paragraph on page 58. I quote:
Pyatakov: It was on December 10, in the first half of December. That same day, or the next, I met Bukhartsev, who, taking advantage of a moment when nobody was about, told me that he had heard of my arrival a few days before, had informed Trotsky of it and was awaiting news from Trotsky on the matter. The next day Trotsky sent a messenger, with whom Bukhartsev brought me together in the Tiergarten, in one of the lanes, literally for a couple of minutes. lie showed me a brief note from Trotsky. which contained a few words: “Y.L., the bearer of this note can be fully trusted.” The word “fully” was underlined, from which I gathered that the person Trotsky had sent was an agent of his.
I do not know the name of this man. I can’t say exactly now what he called himself, either Heinrich or Gustav – I think it was Gustav, that may have been a nickname, or Heinrich. He had received instructions from Lev Davidovich ...
Lev Davidovich refers to Trotsky.
... to arrange a meeting for me, to go and visit Trotsky, as Trotsky strongly insisted on having a talk with me.
As it transpired later, this particular insistence was caused by the last letter Radek had sent to Trotsky.
He asked me whether I was prepared to travel by airplane. I said that I was prepared, although I realized how risky such an operation was; but since I had had such a conversation with Radek and, generally speaking, the problems confronting us were extremely serious and acute, I thought it was better to take the risk of flying and meeting Trotsky than to shirk the risk and remain in the state of perplexity we were in.
In short, I decided to go, although, I repeat, for me it meant taking a very great risk of discovery, exposure, and anything you like; nevertheless, I decided to make the journey.
Vyshinsky: Did your conversation with him end there?
TROTSKY: What was the name of the passport?
GOLDMAN: It does not say. He says with his own name, Pyatakov.
TROTSKY: The passport was a German passport. What name? It must be another name. I ask you if you can indicate from the Verbatim Report the name.
GOLDMAN: I read again: “The passport was a German one. He saw to all the customs formalities himself, so that all I had to do was to sign my name.”
TROTSKY: Not a word about his conversations with his companion!
GOLDMAN: Then Pyatakov goes on to say what Mr. Trotsky told him with reference to killing all the leaders of the Soviet Union, and destroying factories, and reintroducing capitalism. I quote from page 442 with reference to the question of Pyatakov’s trip to Oslo. I made a remark to the Commission that immediately after the report of Pyatakov’s alleged trip to Oslo, there was made public in the press, the press of Oslo, an open statement to the effect that no foreign airplane came to Oslo.
TROTSKY: During December.
GOLDMAN: During December 1935. At the end of the examination of the witness at the trial, Vyshinsky questions Pyatakov on this matter: “Vyshinsky: I have a question to put to Pyatakov.”
STOLBERG: What page is that on?
GOLDMAN: 442, the last paragraph. I continue to quote:
I have a question to put to Pyatakov. Accused Pyatakov, please tell me, you traveled in an airplane to Norway to meet Trotsky. Do you know in which airdrome you landed?
Pyatakov: Near Oslo.
And on page 60 he says, “In Oslo.”
Vyshinsky: Did you have any difficulties about the landing or admission of the airplane to the airdrome?
Pyatakov: I was so excited by the unusual nature of the journey that I did not pay attention.
Vyshinsky: Have you heard of a place called Kjeller or Kjellere?
Vyshinsky: You confirm that you landed in an airdrome near Oslo?
Pyatakov: Near Oslo, that I remember.
Vyshinshy: I have no more questions. I have an application to the court. I interested myself in this matter and asked the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs to make an inquiry, for I wanted to verify Pyatakov’s evidence from this side too, I have received an official communication which I ask to have put in the records. (Reads)
GOLDMAN: This is from the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs:
“The consular Department of the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs hereby informs the Procurator of the USSR that according to information received by the Embassy of the USSR in Norway the Kjellere Airdrome near Oslo receives all the year round, in accordance with international regulations, airplanes of other countries, and that the arrival and departure of airplanes is possible also in winter months.”
(To Pyatakov.) It was in December?
Vyshinsky: I ask that this be placed in the records. Now a question to accused Radek.
LAFOLLETTE: Mr. Goldman, I think that document was submitted for the Commissioners, the information that has ―
GOLDMAN: It cannot be read?
LAFOLLETTE: That I don’t know. It was handed in by someone who came to the Commission and said that he would like to make a certain statement, but without a name. Let the Commission read it, and if it deems it necessary and advisable to make it public, I will read it into the record.
GOLDMAN: What was the name of the place where you were living in Oslo before you were interned?
TROTSKY: It was Weksal, a village, near the small town of Hoenefoss. The distance from Oslo is about two hours by railroad or car.
GOLDMAN: How many miles, do you know?
TROTSKY: It was about fifty-five or sixty kilometers. But you know, it is not a question only of kilometers, but of the road itself. It is a very hilly road, a very difficult road. In winter it is necessary to put chains on the wheels.
STOLBERG: On the tires?
TROTSKY: On the tires, because the road is covered by snow. In the winter it is two hours to two and a half hours.
GOLDMAN: Whom did the house belong to where you lived?
TROTSKY: A rich farmer, but it was occupied by Konrad Knudsen.
GOLDMAN: Who is Konrad Knudsen?
TROTSKY: He is a prominent member of the Norwegian Workers Party, and now he is a Deputy of the Storting, the Norwegian Parliament.
GOLDMAN: Knudsen is spelled K-n-u-d-s-e-n. And Mr. Knudsen was living there in the house?
TROTSKY: Yes, his family. They gave us two rooms in their apartment.
GOLDMAN: You occupied rooms with him in his house?
TROTSKY: In the house there were six rooms. One on the first floor – on the ground floor there were five rooms. They occupied three, and we, two. The dinner room was common, and the entrance was through the dining room. The entrance was common, then the vestibule and then the dining room. It was absolutely impossible ―
GOLDMAN: How many members were there in the Knudsen family?
TROTSKY: Four members: Knudsen, his wife, Hilda Knudsen, the daughter, Hjordis Knudsen, and Borgar Knudsen. And then the woman who served in the kitchen, the cook, a Norwegian woman.
GOLDMAN: She lived there in the house?
TROTSKY: Yes, in the house.
GOLDMAN: How many were there in your group?
TROTSKY: We were my wife and myself, and during a sojourn, Jan Frankel, who lived also in the house of Knudsen. Then he left us and he was replaced by Erwin Wolff. Erwin Wolff lived in a neighbor’s house.
GOLDMAN: You came to Oslo, if I remember correctly, in June?
TROTSKY: June 1935.
GOLDMAN: 1935. You lived in that house with the Knudsens ever since you came to Oslo, from the very beginning?
TROTSKY: For a couple of days we were in a hotel before we found this place.
GOLDMAN: And Mr. Frankel was collaborating with you during 1935, was he?
TROTSKY: Until November.
FRANKEL: Until the end of October.
GOLDMAN: Then Mr. Erwin Wolff came in?
GOLDMAN: You received many visitors in that house, Mr. Trotsky?
TROTSKY: I believe the sum total of ten or twelve.
GOLDMAN: During what period?
TROTSKY: During more than a year.
GOLDMAN: Your visitors there were not as many as in France?
TROTSKY: Not so many. It was too far. Maybe there were a few more, fifteen or twelve. I can’t say the exact total.
GOLDMAN: With reference to the entrance to the house, where was your working room, where you received visitors, where you worked?
TROTSKY: It was by the entrance, in the dining room. To the right was the room of Knudsen, and to the left was my working room. Then there was a bedroom.
GOLDMAN: And people who came in, in order to get to your working room, had to go into the dining room?
TROTSKY: The first thing, the vestibule. The vestibule connects with the kitchen and the dining room.
GOLDMAN: Were you ever alone in that house?
GOLDMAN: Were you ever alone in that house?
GOLDMAN: You had no guard at that time around the house?
TROTSKY: No, no guard. But, a guard in the very friendly family of Knudsen. It was for us very important to have such a friendly family. In spite of our differences in political views, they personally had sympathies for my wife and myself and my secretaries also. They were occupied with the question of my safety. But all the communications were with Hoenefoss – were organized by the family. They had a car, and so on.
GOLDMAN: And when any visitor came to see you, how did he arrive from Hoenefoss?
TROTSKY: The first thing: In Hoenefoss, the daughter of Knudsen had a small shop of books. Everybody who came to us received a communication to visit this shop and to have subsequent communications – there was the shop of Knudsen in the same house. Her father had his bureau, had his working room of his paper there, and his auto. It was a working-class paper. She instructed all people: You can wait one hour or a half hour, and then you can go with my father in his car to Weksal.
GOLDMAN: Did visitors ever come without having gone first to the daughter of Knudsen? Had any visitor come to you?
TROTSKY: In so far as I remember, it was the rule to visit the shop of the daughter of Knudsen and Knudsen himself, in his bureau, in his working room.
GOLDMAN: Let me ask you this: The house that you lived in, was that the house into which some Norwegian fascists broke at one time?
GOLDMAN: When was that?
TROTSKY: It was the 5th of August 1936, during our summer trip with the family of Knudsen.
GOLDMAN: Once in a while you took a trip with the Knudsen family? For how many days?
TROTSKY: It was a long trip of twelve days, I believe.
GOLDMAN: Did you ever take any shorter trips with them?
TROTSKY: To Oslo, three or four times, for a day.
GOLDMAN: Did you ever take any trips without anybody at all?
GOLDMAN: All alone?
TROTSKY: Never. It is impossible, Mr. Attorney, because if I am on the street and recognized by the people I am absolutely helpless. I am surrounded by people, and especially in Norway – I don’t speak Norwegian – I must have some Norwegian people who can defend me.
GOLDMAN: Didn’t you learn Norwegian while you were there?
TROTSKY: Not sufficiently to speak.
GOLDMAN: Was the door leading into the house closed or open?
TROTSKY: The door leading into the house – during the day it was open.
GOLDMAN: It was winter time.
TROTSKY: Because the kitchen – the door of the kitchen was open into the vestibule. Nobody could come without – it was the entrance, then the vestibule to the kitchen and the dining room. During the daytime the door ―
GOLDMAN: It was closed?
TROTSKY: What do you mean, closed? With a key?
TROTSKY: Naturally, it was closed. I didn’t understand. But not with a key.
GOLDMAN: It wasn’t locked, but it was closed?
TROTSKY: Yes, especially in the winter time. Norway is very cold.
GOLDMAN: There was a door-bell?
GOLDMAN: There was a door-bell? Anybody would ring, or would they announce when they wanted to come in?
TROTSKY: I believe they only had to knock.
GOLDMAN: Mr. Frankel wants to say something.
FRANKEL: Generally, we saw everybody who approached the house.
GOLDMAN: I just wanted to know one thing, whether there was any door-bell.
FRANKEL: Yes. Anybody who arrived at the door – before they arrived at the door, we were there waiting for them.
TROTSKY: I forgot to say that from our windows you saw the street totally. Whoever approached our courtyard, from both sides. My friends and my secretary were all the time very vigilant.
GOLDMAN: At the time that the Norwegian fascists raided the house, was anybody in the house?
TROTSKY: The daughter Hjordis and the son Borgar. Thanks to the courage of the daughter of Knudsen, my archives were saved, because she fought with them and called the neighbors.
GOLDMAN: Now, you knew Pyatakov, didn’t you?
GOLDMAN: When was the last time you saw him?
TROTSKY: 1927. He said in the deposition 1928, but it is a small mistake in a great falsehood.
GOLDMAN: Now, did you see him – did you see Pyatakov when you were living in Weksal? That is, the village of Weksal?
GOLDMAN: You didn’t see him and you didn’t talk with him?
GOLDMAN: Did you ever send a message with someone by the name of Bukhartsev for the purpose of inviting Pyatakov to Oslo?
TROTSKY: I must repeat that in spite of the fact that Bukhartsev is a correspondent of Isvestia I have never heard his name before the publication of the report of the trial.
GOLDMAN: So, you state you never saw Pyatakov in Oslo in December of 1935, or at any other place, and that you never saw him since 1927 or thereabouts?
GOLDMAN: Never had any communication with him?
GOLDMAN: Either with him directly or through some intermediary?
TROTSKY: Never. I never heard the name of Bukhartsev before the trial.
DEWEY: We will take a short recess now.
GOLDMAN: I forgot to ask you one question, Mr. Trotsky. Amongst your visitors in Weksal, were there any Russians at all?
TROTSKY: No, none at all. We had Frenchmen, Americans, Canadians, British people and Czechs.
GOLDMAN: No Russians?
TROTSKY: No Russians. I must repeat that every one of the visitors was presented to the family of Knudsen and ate together with us at the same time, I believe.
GOLDMAN: I turn to the Oslo-Pyatakov exhibits. They are the following documents: The affidavit by Konrad Knudsen, who housed Mr. Trotsky, Hilda Knudsen and Hjordis Knudsen, his daughter, who testified to these facts:
Trotsky and his wife had a bedroom and a workroom for themselves, and the dining room and the rest of the apartment was used by all the inhabitants of the house in common. It follows that we were excellently informed about all the visitors whom Trotsky received in this time. Visitors could not even enter the house without announcing themselves to the people in the house. Trotsky presented us to his visitors. This holds good for all the visitors. Thus we had exact knowledge about all of Trotsky’s guests ... Phone calls were always answered by people in the house, and never by Trotsky and his wife ... The few times when Trotsky left my house for short trips, he was generally in my car and in my company ... Trotsky’s visitors were Czechoslovakians, German émigrés, Englishmen, Frenchmen and Americans, but no Russians.
The second is an affidavit by Jan Frankel describing Trotsky’s conditions of life. I quote:
Trotsky’s conditions of life, such that it was impossible to approach him without being observed and introduced, were not different from the conditions which prevailed in Turkey and France ... For this reason I can affirm even the powerful GPU could not organize a visit for Pyatakov or anybody else without being remarked by the other inhabitants of the house.
Moreover, I can state that in the period of 1935 Trotsky was occupied with the Russian question only on a purely scientific basis (writing his book, The Revolution Betrayed) and that no organizational questions regarding the work of the Russian Opposition were touched upon.
GOLDMAN: Mr. Frankel is here, and, if time permits, we shall put him on the stand, and the Commission can cross examine him. We have an affidavit of Walter Held, who confirms the above statement. Held visited Trotsky between the end of June 1935 and the end of August 1936 about ten times. He notes that Weksal is not a country resort, and that it is not a half hour, but two hours from Oslo. There are the affidavits of Harold Isaacs and Viola Robinson. They visited Trotsky in August 1935 and state that in order to meet Trotsky they were obliged to wire Knudsen and to meet Jan Frankel first at the bus. They confirm the general information already given. I have the original affidavit which the Commission should look into at its leisure. Then there is the affidavit of Earle Birney, who visited Trotsky in 1935. He says he was obliged to meet Trotsky’s secretary – at that time, Erwin Braun – and Knudsen’s daughter, Hjordis. He confirms the above information. The same thing from Max Sterling, who makes an affidavit in general on the same things and the same conditions.
On the question of Pyatakov’s flight to Oslo, on January 29, 1937, a few days after the trial commenced, Konrad Knudsen sent a telegram to Vyshinsky. The telegram was published in the Arbeiderbladet of January 29, 1937, to this effect:
To State’s Attorney Vyshinsky, Supreme Military Court, Moscow: I inform you that today officially verified that in December 1935 no foreign or private airplanes landed at the airport near Oslo stop as Leon Trotsky’s host I also confirm that in December 1935 no conversation can have taken place in Norway between Trotsky and Pyatakov.
In my opinion, it was this telegram that caused the Prosecutor Vyshinsky to ask for some kind of statement from the embassy of the USSR in Norway.
TROTSKY: It is not, I believe. Here is the chronology. The first initiative in this case belongs, as I am informed, to the conservative, the very conservative, Norwegian paper Aftenposten. It began an independent investigation on the 24th of January, and its statement on the 24th or 25th states that it is impossible that that deposition is correct.
GOLDMAN: It is impossible that airplanes should be there?
TROTSKY: They investigated at the airport, and the authorities assured them that not one foreign airplane landed at the airport at Oslo. It was the statement of the Aftenposten, and it was, I think now, the 23rd or the 24th of January. The speech of the Prosecutor was on the 28th and the cable is dated the 29th.
GOLDMAN: So that the speech of the Prosecutor resulted – questions with reference to the possibility of an airplane landing at Oslo on the part of the Prosecutor Vyshinsky resulted from the report in the Aftenposten of January 23rd or 24th.
TROTSKY: And repeated by all other papers.
GOLDMAN: Then we have the affidavit of Konrad Knudsen, who states that Trotsky was at home the whole month of December save for his visit to Knudsen’s cabin, that no foreign visitors came in the month of December, and that “Pyatakov was not able to visit Trotsky without my knowledge, neither in my home nor in the cabin where my son and maid were together with him.”
By the way, Mr. Trotsky, when was it that you left the house to go to Mr. Knudsen’s cabin?
TROTSKY: It was the 20th of December, and until the 22nd.
GOLDMAN: You lived there three days?
TROTSKY: For three days.
GOLDMAN: Were you with Knudsen at that time?
TROTSKY: I was with the son of Knudsen, with the cook, a woman, and with my wife.
GOLDMAN: How large a cabin was it?
TROTSKY: It was a cabin, nine square meters. It is on a mountain and used for hunting and fishing.
GOLDMAN: How far away from Knudsen’s home?
TROTSKY: It is more than one hour.
GOLDMAN: On the way to Oslo or from Oslo?
TROTSKY: No, from Oslo.
GOLDMAN: It has only one room and a kitchen?
TROTSKY: One room, and then on a separate structure is a floor, a second floor.
GOLDMAN: An attic? Do you know what an attic is?
TROTSKY: Yes, possibly for sleeping.
GOLDMAN: On top for a second floor?
GOLDMAN: So there is one room downstairs and one upstairs?
TROTSKY: They were not separate rooms, but connected with one another.
STOLBERG: A balcony?
GOLDMAN: Was that a balcony?
GOLDMAN: There is an article in the Arbeiderbiadet of Oslo of January 29, 1937, where the director of the airport, Director Gulliksen, says: “No foreign aeroplane at Kjeller.” I will read from Arbeiderbladet as follows:
Director Gulliksen has examined the customs register, which is kept daily, before he gives us this information, and in answer to our questions he adds that there is no question of any aeroplane being able to land at Kjeller without being observed.
“When was the last time a foreign aeroplane landed at Kjeller before December 1935?” our representative asked Director Gulliksen.
“On the 19th of September.”
“And after December, 1935, when did a foreign aeroplane come to Kjeller for the first time?”
“On the first of May 1936.”
“In other words, from the books of the aviation ground it is thus established that no foreign aeroplane landed there between September 1935 and May 1st, 1936?”
GOLDMAN: We also have correspondence between Trotsky’s lawyer, Stoeylen, of Oslo, to the director of the Kjeller Airport, Gulliksen. Gulliksen’s letter of February 14, 1937, says: “I beg to state that my statement published in Arbeiderbladet is correct, as no foreign aeroplane landed here in December 1935.”
Then I have a letter from Stoeylen to Trotsky, dated March 16, 1937. It says: “I have also written to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koth, and asked him for the result of the Govermnent’s step to find out all about Mr. Pyatakov’s travel to Norway in December 1935.”
We have a statement by Erwin Wolff, printed in part in the Manchester Guardian of January 25, 1937, and his letter to Trotsky, February 8, 1937. He states that Trotsky received no visitor in December, 1935, and I quote: “Furthermore, the first foreigner who came to us in Weksal after November 1935 was my friend W., who visited me personally, and came on January 28, 1936.”
Erwin Wolff was the secretary of Trotsky – is that right?
GOLDMAN: And the affidavit of Borgar Knudsen.
TROTSKY: That is his son.
GOLDMAN: The son of Konrad Knudsen.
TROTSKY: He is fifteen or sixteen years old.
GOLDMAN: He states that he was with Trotsky, Trotsky’s wife, and Erwin Wolff in the cabin from December 20th to December 22nd. Trotsky, he says, “was not out of the cabin in these days. I can furthermore confirm that in these days no visitors came to Trotsky, and that nobody could have visited him without my knowledge.”
TROTSKY: Excuse me, I forgot to say that Erwin Wolff was with us in the cabin.
GOLDMAN: And then there are general documents concerning the whole matter. We offer the important document, Trotsky’s statement of January 27, 1937, entitled My Concrete Proposition to the Moscow Court, a statement in which he enumerates questions, I believe, to be transmitted to Pyatakov. Have you that statement there?
TROTSKY: Yes, I have the statement, but I have another statement from the 24th. It was the second day of the trials, immediately after the deposition of Pyatakov. The statement was given to the press and published by the press. It was from the 24th. The prosecutor had the full possibility to investigate in the direction indicated by me. Here is the statement:
If Pyatakov had traveled under his own name, all the Norwegian press would have carried this information. Consequently, he must have traveled under another name. What name? All Soviet functionaries abroad are in constant telephonic and telegraphic communication with their embassies, commercial missions, and do not find themselves beyond the watch of the GPU for a single hour. How could Pyatakov have achieved his trip without the knowledge of the Soviet representatives either in Germany or Norway? Let him describe the internal arrangement of my room. Did he see my wife? Did I have a beard or not? How was I dressed? The entrance to my study was through the Knudsen apartment, and all our visitors without exception became acquainted with the family of our hosts. Did Pyatakov see them? Did they see Pyatakov? Here is a series of precise questions by the aid of which it would be easy for any honest court to show that Pyatakov is repeating the inventions of the GPU.
These are the questions of the 24th of January.
GOLDMAN: Then, on January 27th, you had other questions?
TROTSKY: On the 27th, I gave some questions of a more precise form. If you permit me, I will read the introduction to the questions. We are here concerned with the confession of Pyatakov. It was the 27th, before the prosecution speech of Vyshinsky. The prosecution speech was held on the 28th. I will quote now:
We are concerned here with the confession of Pyatakov. He testified that he visited me in Norway in December 1935 for the purpose of conspiratorial plotting. Pyatakov alleged that he came from Berlin to Oslo by airplane. The enormous importance of this testimony is evident. I declared many times, and I repeat again, that Pyatakov, like Radek, has been during the last nine years not my friend but my bitterest and most perfidious enemy, and that there could be no question of negotiations between us. If it should be proved that Pyatakov actually visited me, my position would be hopelessly compromised. If, on the contrary, I can prove that the story of the visit is false from beginning to end, the entire system of ’voluntary” confessions would be thoroughly discredited. Even if we should admit that the Moscow trial is beyond all suspicion, the defendant Pyatakov remains suspect. His testimony must be verified immediately, before he is shot.
It was the 27th. “... by putting to him the following series of questions.” Then follow thirteen questions. I repeat the questions. I can read them because my first request did not find any answer from the court. I read the questions:
1. On what day did Pyatakov come from Moscow to Berlin, in December 1935? What was his official mission? Pyatakov is too important an administrative figure to make the trip in such a manner that it would not be known to the Soviet Government. The day of his departure must be known in his Commissariat. The German press must have announced his arrival.
2. Did Pyatakov visit the Soviet Embassy in Berlin? Whom did he meet?
3. When and how did he fly from Berlin to Oslo? If he came to Berlin openly, he must have left secretly; it is impossible to conceive of the Soviet Government sending Pyatakov to plot with Trotsky.
4. What kind of passport did Pyatakov use when he left Berlin? How did he obtain this false passport? Did he also obtain a Norwegian visa?
We know how he obtained it.
5. If we admit for a moment that Pyatakov embarked upon this trip legally and openly, his arrival must have been announced in the Norwegian press. In that case, who were the Norwegian authorities whom he must have visited officially?
6. If Pyatakov came to Oslo illegally, with a false passport, how did he succeed in disappearing from the keen eyes of the Soviet officials in Berlin and Oslo? (Every Soviet administrator abroad remains in permanent telegraphic and telephonic communication with the embassies and commercial agencies of the USSR.) How did he explain his disappearance upon his return to Russia?
7. At what time did Pyatakov arrive in Oslo? Did he pass the night in the town, and if so, in what hotel? (We hope it was not in the Hotel Bristol.) The well known Norwegian paper Aftenposten affirms that at the time mentioned by Pyatakov no foreign plane landed in Oslo. This must be verified.
8. Did Pyatakov inform me beforehand of his contemplated visit by the regular telegraphic channels of communication? This can easily be verified in the telegraphic offices of Oslo and Hoenefoss.
9. How did Pyatakov locate me in the village of Weksal? What means of transportation did he use?
10. The trip from Oslo to my village required at least two hours; the conversation, according to Pyatakov’s affirmations, took three hours; and the return trip required two more hours. December days are short; Pyatakov must inevitably have passed one night in Norway. Again: Where? In what hotel? How did he depart from Oslo – by train, ship, or airplane? For what destination?
Bukhartsev said in the same airplane.
11. All of my visitors will confirm that it was possible to come in contact with me only through the members of the family of our host, Knudsen, or through my secretaries, who remained on permanent guard duty before my room. With whom did Pyatakov meet?
12. In what way did Pyatakov make the trip in the evening from Weksal to the station of Hoenefoss – in the automobile of our host Knudsen, or by taxi summoned by telephone from Hoenefoss? In either case, the departure, like the arrival, could not have been accomplished without witnesses.
13. Did Pyatakov also meet my wife? Was she at home on the day in question? (My wife’s trips to her doctor and dentist in Oslo can easily be established.)
It is necessary to add that the appearance of Pyatakov is striking and easily remembered – tall, blond, with tinges of red in his hair and beard, very regular features, high forehead, glasses, and very lean. (In 1927, when I saw him for the last time, he was exceedingly thin.)
Not only a lawyer, but every thinking man as well, will understand the decisive importance of these questions for the purpose of the verification of Pyatakov’s confessions. The Soviet Government has the full possibility to utilize the services of Norwegian justice. (It was obliged to do this even before the trial.)
These were the questions by me to the world press on the 27th of January.
GOLDMAN: In a letter from Trotsky during his internment, to his lawyer on September 15th, 1936, before the trial, Trotsky wrote:
The last note of the Soviet Government says that the Norwegian Government “bears the full responsibility for the future stay of Trotsky in Norway.” This phrase might easily be considered a diplomatic formula in order to cover the retreat. In my mind this would be light-minded and false. After the fiasco of the Zinoviev trial the GPU must intend to transfer my “terroristic” basis of operation from Copenhagen to Oslo. A new chapter in the book of amalgams begins ... The art of the GPU will consist in finding new Olbergs, Berman-Yurins, etc., pretending to have received their instructions directly from Oslo.
In the same letter Trotsky warns Puntervold of the possibility of visits from provocateurs of the GPU. In other words, this simply introduces this communication of September 15th. Trotsky predicted that a new trial would be held, and that somebody would testify that he visited him in Norway.
TROTSKY: Excuse me, I must read four lines, the last lines of my thirteen questions:
Are the president of the court and the prosecutor ready to put these cogent questions to Pyatakov? Their attitude in this connection should be decisive for the trial in the eyes of all honest people throughout the world.
I hope that all the papers interested in the truth will publish this statement in full.
It was largely published.
GOLDMAN: During the only time that Trotsky was out of Knudsen’s house in Weksal, in the latter’s cabin, from December 20th to the 22nd – I want to quote from the commercial section of the Berliner Tageblatt, which stated:
At present there is in Berlin the first Vice Commissar of Heavy Industry of the Soviet Union, Mr. Pyatakov, and also the chief of the Department of Imports of the Commissariat of Foreign Commerce of the Soviet Union, Mr. Smolensky.
The same report appeared in the economic review, Die Ostwirtschaft, in Berlin, December 1935, No.12, page 185.
Concerning the alleged meeting between Pyatakov and Leon Sedov in Berlin, we have a letter from Leon Trotsky, during his internment in Norway, a letter of November 26, 1936, in which he relates the reminiscences of Natalia Sedov on a letter from Leon Sedov which arrived from Berlin to Kadikoy during 1931-32. I quote:
Do you know whom I saw on Unter den Linden? The redhead. (This was the name the young people gave Pyatakov because of the color of his hair.) I looked him squarely in the eye, but he turned his face away as though he didn’t recognize me. What a miserable fellow!
Kadikoy is another name of Turkey?
TROTSKY: After the fire in our house in Prinkipo we had to change our place of residence for a year. He moved to a town called Kadikoy.
GOLDMAN: Leon Sedov wrote this. This fact is confirmed by two letters on December 3rd and 11th, 1936, from Leon Sedov to Puntervold. And also in a statement in the Manchester Guardian of February 9th, 1937. Then there are dippings and excerpts from Norwegian newspapers concerning the different versions of Pyatakov’s flight to Oslo.
TROTSKY: Permit me to give a short explanation. It was very difficult to prove a positive fact by a negative fact – that my son did not meet Pyatakov. I tried to use our internment – we could not communicate with our son without the police, the Norwegian police, censorship. I wrote through the intermediary of the police to Puntervold, my lawyer, to ask my son if my son – my wife remembered that he met him on the street under such and such conditions. Pyatakov turned his back to him. My son cried, “Traitor!” Puntervold sent my son a question: “What was your meeting with Pyatakov?” Our son confirmed to Puntervold what I have stated. We were separated by the Norwegian police. This coincides with what he wrote my wife. This is a positive proof of a negative fact.
GOLDMAN: I will introduce all of these documents into evidence as Exhibit No.19, called the “Oslo-Pyatakov Exhibit.” These exhibits all refer to this incident of Pyatakov’s alleged visit to Oslo. They are available for the Commission whenever the Commission wants them.
DEWEY: What is the exhibit labelled?
GOLDMAN: We have not numbered these exhibits because of the fact that there are so many documents in them. However it might be best to give them a number in addition to a name.
DEWEY: Well, it does not matter.
DEWEY: I understand that these questions which you addressed to the Prosecutor were written, of course, before you had seen a printed testimony. The papers had not stated at that time, and the news from Moscow had not stated, the dates and time.
TROTSKY: Yes. My questions can be divided in two parts. One part is based upon the lack of information of the Times, and all of the American agencies. This part lost its importance. It is available in the Verbatim Report. The second part ―
DEWEY: But the testimony itself – according to the testimony, Mr. Pyatakov arrived there at three p.m. of December 11th.
TROTSKY: He arrived in Berlin – as I remember, he arrived in Berlin the 10th of December. In any case, the first half of December. It is officially formulated. I asked for an exact date.
LAFOLLETTE: It says December 10th in the official report. It was on December 10th or the first half of December.
TROTSKY: Pyatakov claims the trip itself – the trip in the first half of December. But it is a trip which begins on the 9th of December. But at what hour? Because he must on order of his Commissariat transfer his power to another. The secretary must know his departure, and a chauffeur must know the hour or minute of his train, when he starts. He is too prominent a figure to travel without the dates of his trip being known more exactly than “the first half of December.”
DEWEY: On page 58, it was on December 10th, the first half of December. That is the official record – and that he got there the next day, approximately at three p.m. I only raise that to ask if you have any special information of your whereabouts on December 11th.
TROTSKY: Only about three or four days ago we received a quotation from the Berliner Tageblatt which confirms the fact that Pyatakov in December 1935 visited Berlin. And it is confirmed by the German press, and only one day is indicated, the 20th day of December – indicated that Pyatakov is in Berlin. I made the question not only when he came to Berlin, but when he started from Berlin to Oslo. He could not forget such a date, when he came back to Berlin. How did he explain to the authorities in Berlin his disappearance for two days?
DEWEY: According to the official report, it was December 11th.
DEWEY: That he went to Berlin. He says, the next day.
TROTSKY: It is possible there is a contradiction. The French edition: “It was on December 10th. In the first half of December.”
FRANKEL: In the French edition there is a period; but here is a comma.
DEWEY: It actually says “Vyshinshy: Did your conversation with him end there? Pyatakov: He arranged to meet me the next morning at Tempeihof Airport.” It would make it the 11th.
BEALS: He says he met with Bukhartsev that day or the next.
DEWEY: Then it would be the 11th or the 12th. I was merely asking if you have any special recollection or information of your whereabouts on the 11th and 12th, similar to that which you have on the 20th and 22nd.
TROTSKY: No. My question was based on the supposition that Pyatakov really visited Oslo. I say there it was impossible.
DEWEY: Do you keep a diary?
DEWEY: A diary?
TROTSKY: Not a diary. My letters are noted, letters sent and letters which arrive. In that manner, I can more or less establish my real diary.
DEWEY: Do you have any information, even from your letters, bearing on these two dates? You will submit it to the Commission?
GOLDMAN: From your recollection did you leave Mr. Knudsen’s in December, outside of the time that you visited the cabin on the 20th to the 22nd?
GOLDMAN: You were, all the time in December, outside of those two days, in Knudsen’s home?
TROTSKY: The month of December was the worst month of my life. I was all the time in bed. I tried to escape from the illness by this trip in the cabin. It was not successful.
GOLDMAN: Mr. Chairman, I am of the opinion that the Communists raised the question of the Pyatakov visit somewhat later, when Mr. Trotsky was outside of the Knudsen home. I am not sure about it. I am merely suggesting it as a hypothesis. Therefore, it is necessary to cover all possible eventualities. They may claim that Pyatakov visited Trotsky on the 20th, the 21st and the 22nd, and consequently it is important to state that the Berliner Tageblatt made a statement to the effect that Pyatakov was in Berlin on the 22nd.
DEWEY: I was not objecting to that part of the evidence, but asked whether there was any special testimony regarding the 11th and 12th.
BEALS: May I suggest that it would be rather difficult for us to go beyond the Verbatim Record of the trial?
GOLDMAN: I agree with that one hundred per cent, that we ought to stick to the verbatim evidence of the trial – just as in the case when Commissioner Stolberg made some other statements appearing in Pravda. But the evidence in the trial is for us authoritative, upon which we base our testimony. Are there any more questions?
LAFOLLETTE: I want to refer to the quotations of the Berliner Tageblatt. Does that announce his arrival or simply that he is in Berlin?
TROTSKY: That he is in Berlin.
STOLBERG: The Tempelhof is an airdrome for land planes. Still I heard somewhere – and I wonder if anyone can answer – that the official airdrome near Oslo is for seaplanes.
STOLBERG: For seaplanes.
TROTSKY: No, it is not correct. The Kjeller Airport is for ordinary airplanes. But the Comintern press later invented the hypothesis that he landed not in the airport, but on a frozen fjord. But to land on a frozen fjord it is necessary to have skis. To start from Tempelhof, it is necessary to have wheels. The hypothesis is contradictory. Then, from a frozen fjord a trip cannot be made in an automobile. Pyatakov informed them that he used an automobile. On a frozen fjord he must use skis – a horse with a sled. He could not approach my cabin with an automobile, especially in the mountains.
BEALS: Mr. Trotsky, do you have any information of the flying time, the ordinary flying time between Berlin and Oslo?
TROTSKY: There is no regular communication at all during the winter period. It is theoretically – from a meteorological point of view, it is possible, as informed by Prosecutor Vyshinsky, but there is no communication during the winter. It is too dangerous.
BEALS: I don’t think you quite understand my question. My question is: Do you have any information as to how long it takes a plane to go from Berlin to Oslo?
TROTSKY: I am not sure, but I think the time indicated by Pyatakov is theoretically right. They show it in the schedule, the timetable of flying. He started in the morning and he landed at three o’clock. It must correspond more or less to the distance. It is theoretically correct. I don’t know what airplane he received from the German authorities.
STOLBERG: We have heard testimony of Mr. Gulliksen and other authorities in Norway, to the effect that no plane landed. I am asking this question, and anybody might answer it. I heard that afterwards the Norwegian Government stated that, purely theoretically, a plane might have landed without their knowledge.
TROTSKY: I never heard of it from the Norwegian Government.
GOLDMAN: The Russian Consul made that statement.
TROTSKY: Even Vyshinsky dare not affirm that. Vyshinsky said only, the meteorological conditions did not exclude the possibility of the flight.
STOLBERG: The Norwegian Government never made that statement?
TROTSKY: I can’t say; I never heard it.
GOLDMAN: Any more questions from the Commissioners? (No questions were asked.)
GOLDMAN: By the way, before I forget it – I want to introduce the map that is hung on the wall, the map of France, into evidence. If possible, a small map can be made – in smaller proportions, and if not, the map as is. I want to introduce it into evidence for the Commissioners so that they can have it when they discuss this particular question.
GOLDMAN: Now, before going on to a different section of the evidence, I want to clear up some matters with reference to the evidence of the prosecution in the Soviet Union, statements that were made by some witnesses.
Mr. Trotsky, Dreitzer, one of the defendants in the first trial, the Zinoviev trial, on page 51 of the report, claims to have received instructions from you to resort to terrorism. Did you send him any such instructions?
TROTSKY: Did I what?
GOLDMAN: Did you send him any instructions?
GOLDMAN: You never sent him such instructions?
GOLDMAN: He also claims he established contact with you in Berlin in 1935. Did your son Sedov ever write you anything referring to Dreitzer?
TROTSKY: Never; nothing.
GOLDMAN: On page 52 of the report, he testifies that he received a message from Trotsky in October 1934 written with invisible ink, and containing instructions on terrorism; that he passed this letter on to Mrachkovsky, and that Mrachkovsky burned it. Did you ever send him a letter in invisible ink?
TROTSKY: No; the entire thing is very invisible.
GOLDMAN: You mean you never sent him such a letter?
GOLDMAN: Smirnov, in his testimony, refers to a man by the name of Putna, who was supposed to be in communication with you personally and to organize terrorism. Who is Putna?
TROTSKY: I think I explained that. Is it not for the second time?
GOLDMAN: Perhaps it would be better two times than not at all.
TROTSKY: Putna is an officer of the General Staff, a military scholar and a good officer of the Red Army during the Civil War. He belonged to the Left Opposition. In view of the fact that he was a subordinate, I never spoke with him on the question of the Opposition.
GOLDMAN: Did you ever discuss – did you ever have any communication with him since your exile?
GOLDMAN: In the testimony of M. Lurye there is an observation to the effect that he received instructions in Berlin on March 4th, 1933, from Ruth Fischer and Maslow, but actually these were instructions of Trotsky. Who are Ruth Fischer and Maslow?
TROTSKY: Fischer and Maslow are former leaders of the German Communist Party, and were my bitter adversaries. Then they became Oppositionists, Zinovievists. They capitulated after Zinoviev, and in the time indicated in these depositions they were absolutely antagonistic to me.
GOLDMAN: Did they ever belong to the Left Opposition?
TROTSKY: They belonged to Zinoviev.
GOLDMAN: After your expulsion from the Soviet Union, did they belong to the Left Opposition in Germany?
TROTSKY: No, they adhered to the Fourth International at the end of 1934 and the beginning of 1935, during my sojourn in Barbizon.
LAFOLLETTE: Which International?
TROTSKY: To the so-called Trotskyite International.
LAFOLLETTE: The Fourth International?
GOLDMAN: Did you ever hear of a man by the name of Gaven?
GOLDMAN: Who is he?
TROTSKY: He is a Latvian Bolshevik. He, if I remember, gave all his sympathies at a certain time to the Opposition. As Holtzman, for example. In 1926 or 1927, he was connected for a time with Smilga, a member of the Central Committee. But he disappeared from my eyes absolutely after 1926.
GOLDMAN: In the testimony of Mrachkovsky, and also Smirnov, there is a reference that you sent communications through Gaven to Smirnov about the necessity of killing Stalin.
TROTSKY: I don’t know anything about it. No, it is an absolute falsehood. He is not among the defendants.
GOLDMAN: No, he is not. He is a witness.
TROTSKY: Not even a witness.
GOLDMAN: That’s right.
TROTSKY: He disappeared.
GOLDMAN: It is simply mentioned by Mrachkovsky, by the defendant Mrachkovsky. Now, it is a quarter of seven. If you want me to start on the next section for fifteen minutes, I will be glad to do so.
DEWEY: What is the next section?
GOLDMAN: The next section deals with the sabotage in the Soviet Union.
DEWEY: I think, we all think, it would be better to have it tomorrow.
GOLDMAN: All right; we can reserve that for tomorrow.
Last updated on: 1.4.2007