Leon Trotsky

Seventh Session

April 14, 1937, at ten o’clock a.m.

DEWEY: I Will ask Mr. Beals first to read the telegrams from workers organizations that have been received, in Spanish.

(Commissioner Beals reads the following telegrams in Spanish:)

MEXICO D.F. 13 ABRIL D 14.40




MEXICO D. F. 13 ABRIL D 14.40


MEXICO D. F. 13 ABRIL D 14.40


GOLDMAN: For the purpose of the record, Mr. Chairman, I want to read a telegram which we received yesterday. It deals with the question that Mr. Finerty raised a few days ago with reference to the new treason law in the Soviet Union. We inquired about it from New York, and we received a telegram giving us some information. The Commission will check up on the information we received, by an examination of the original documents in New York. It is addressed to Bernard Wolfe, one of Mr. Trotsky’s secretaries.

49 NEW YORK, N. Y. 13 DE ABRIL DE 1937


GOLDMAN: With reference to the question of Pyatakov’s alleged presence in Oslo, I wish to introduce into evidence the original copy of the paper Aftenposten, a paper published in Oslo, containing an article dealing with that question. It is merely a news item where the director of the airfield in Oslo makes a statement to the reporter of this paper. I read a translation of the article:

According to telegrams from Moscow regarding the new “Trotsky Trial,” the defendant, Pyatakov, is said to have confessed that he visited Oslo in December 1935 and while there had a conference with Trotsky somewhere near that city – probably at Hoenefoss. According to his own statement, Pyatakov arrived by plane from Tempelhofer Feld, and was traveling on a false passport. He entered Norway under the pretence that he was going to have a conference with the leaders of the Norwegian cooperation.

The mere fact that the journey was made by plane – in December, when all regular air traffic is cancelled – makes his statement doubtful. He is supposed to have arrived in a monoplane at the Kjeller airfield. Information obtained at that field, however, states that no civil airplane landed there during December 1935. The same information was given us at the Gressholmen Station.

All Russian Subjects entering the country must have a visa, and are placed under very careful observation. In the event that Pyatakov was provided with a false passport there is, of course, no reason why he should not have been here. “But I consider it entirely improbable,” says Mr. Konstad, Chief of the Central Office of Passports.

We have also interviewed Konrad Knudsen, member of Parliament and editor, who at that time was Trotsky’s host.

“Pyatakov’s confession is utterly unfounded,” he says. “In any event it is absolutely impossible that he could have had a conference with Trotsky at that time. Trotsky arrived from Ulleval at the end of October, 1935, and did not leave my house until the last week before Christmas, because he was still ill. He received no visitors at all, or telephone messages. Either one of the members of my family or I received his telephone calls, and I have asked everyone in the household if any telephone call to him could in any way be connected with the above statement. They are all perfectly certain that nothing of the sort happened.

“The first time Trotsky left my house after his stay at Ulleval was the week before Christmas, as already stated, when he went with me to my cottage on Øyangen [1] near Ringkollen, where he spent a few days. He lived entirely secluded from the world here, and I doubt that Pyatakov or anybody else could have found him.”

GOLDMAN: The article is entitled: Pyatakov’s Conference with Trotsky at Oslo Quite Improbable. No Civil Airplane landed at Kjeller or Gressholmen during December, 1935. There is a reference note in the article which reads as follows: “Kjeller is a military air field 25 kilometers east of Oslo. Gressholmen is a small island near Oslo used as a station for hydro-airplanes."

I will introduce the original of this article into evidence as Exhibit No.21.

(The article entitled Pyatakov’s Conference with Trotsky at Oslo Quite Improbable, from the newspaper Aftenposten, was introduced into evidence as Exhibit No.21.)

TROTSKY: May I point out that the paper is a conservative paper?

GOLDMAN: The Aftenposten is a right-wing paper of Norway. I understand it is an organ of the Right-Wing Party.

Now, I have finished with that part of the testimony produced at the last two trials in Moscow which deals with matters allegedly transpiring outside of Russia, such as Pyatakov’s visit to Oslo, Romm’s alleged conversation with Trotsky in Paris, and Holtzman’s alleged visit in Copenhagen, matters which we are in a position to refute with our own evidence. As for the testimony which was given with reference to matters transpiring exclusively within Russia, we are, of course, unable to deal with these matters as effectively as we have done with the matters I have indicated as allegedly transpiring outside of Russia. We are in a position to offer some evidence, evidence which in our opinion is worthy of consideration by the Commission, indicating that the testimony of the defendants in the last two trials in Moscow, with reference to such things as wrecking and sabotage – that such testimony is false.

Especially will I deal with the defendant Grasche or Hrasche, who was a defendant in the last trial of January, 1937. His testimony is contained in the Verbatim Report on pages 421-433. In that testimony he states that he was a Czech by birth, that he came to Russia, was interned in Russia during the World War as an Austrian citizen, took out Russian citizenship in November 1917, left for Czechoslovakia in 1919, and returned to Russia in 1920 or 1921 in the guise of a former prisoner of war.

The prosecutor, Vyshinsky, attempted to bring out all these matters to show that Hrasche, because of the fact that he changed citizenship several times, or because he had documents showing different citizenships, was a very suspicious character. And Hrasche testified that he came in contact with Trotskyism on the basis of espionage and wrecking activities, that he was connected with the German Intelligence Service, and as well with the Czechoslovakian Intelligence Service. Then, too, when he was working for the Communist International, he further testified, he had connections with three Danish Trotskyites, one engineer Wienfeld, another Lund, and a third, Nielsen, and that the engineer Wienfeld made use of his flat as a rendezvous for the purpose of making their conspiracies in order to complete the destruction of Soviet property.

We have statements from former leaders of the Czechoslovakian Communist Party – their names I cannot reveal in the open, but they will be communicated to the sub-commission in private session and give these statements – and from these statements, I quote as follows:

Jan Hrasche was not the only Bolshevik who traveled at that time (1920-1921) from Russia to Czechoslovakia in order to return again as a war prisoner to Russia. This was a general method employed for courier service between the Moscow Center and the Czechoslovakian Party. At that time it was practically impossible to procure a passport and visa for couriers in order to travel from Russia to Prague and back. In this difficult situation – it is no longer an indiscretion to speak about it – they made use of the transports of war prisoners between both countries. The respective person must know Czechoslovakian and Russian.

In the following, the concrete method of using this is shown.

Hrasche “left Moscow after a direct order of the Czechoslovakian delegates at the Second Congress of the Comintern (among them were, for example, Milosch, Vanjek, Antonin Zapotecky, J. Handlirsch) ...”

Mr. Handlirsch gave to the authors of the statement a written declaration in which he mentions that in 1921 he “met Hrasche in the Lubianka (the name of the building of the GPU in Moscow) where he intervened for the liberation of some Czechoslovakians arrested by the Cheka.”

The documents I refer to contain other information of Hrasche’s activities in the question of his accusation of these three Danish engineers. Hrasche accused these three Danes, during the trial, of being his accomplices. In that, I must say, he expressly involves Wienfeld, and only by inference involves Lund and Nielsen. We have quotations, excerpts from the Danish newspapers collected in a statement written by a political émigré living in Copenhagen, whose name is written as Friedrich. His real name will be communicated to the Commission in private session. I shall communicate to you the contents of these newspaper articles.

This declaration, given by the engineer Windfeld-Hansen – Windfeld-Hansen is really Wienfeld, the same one indicated by Hrasche in the testimony. He says:

Since my name has been mentioned in connection with the Moscow trial, I consider it necessary in my own interest to give a brief report regarding my connections with the accused Grasche and regarding my activity as adviser to the Commissariat of heavy industry in 1932-1934.

The said Grasche during these years held the position of head of the foreign bureau of the Russian nitrogen industry. In this capacity he was in charge of concluding contracts with foreign suppliers of machines for the Russian nitrogen factories, of arranging furthermore the conditions of work and of life of the foreign engineers and technicians who worked in the Russian nitrogen industry. In 1933 their number still amounted to about 200, of various nationalities. When I arrived in Moscow for the first time, in May 1932, to work as adviser, my conditions of work were similarly arranged in Grasche’s office.

Since during the first year I had no apartment of my own, I lived in an apartment of the nitrogen trust’s building. In the same apartment Grasche lived in a poor room. In this way I knew him very closely, and held him in high esteem, since he was a very cultured and intelligent man. I never observed anything which might lead one to believe that he was engaged in sabotage or espionage; quite on the contrary. So far as I can remember, he did a great deal of work, concerned himself much with foreign engineers, and did everything to utilize their experience in the best way.

I noticed that this sometimes provoked dissatisfaction among the Russian engineers. Grasche was an old member of the Party and lived in an extremely modest manner, with a low salary, and I never saw him in possession of important pecuniary means. In the last period of my activity I had at my disposal a three-room apartment and had my own household. Grasche was frequently my guest and at my house met the other Danes whose names have been mentioned along with mine during the trial, but I never noticed that he had a suspicious connection with them. When my work in the service of the Government was ended, I again visited Moscow in the summer of 1935 to attempt, with Grasche’s support, to interest the competent authorities in the chemical center in some inventions concerning calcium phosphate which, in my opinion, could be of great interest for the chemical industry of the Soviet Union. My plan failed due to the resistance of certain professors and engineers, and moreover I was refused permission of sojourn, so that the negotiations could not be continued.

Rataichak, who directed the principal chemical center, I saw only twice in my life, when he presided at sessions of the Commissariat. I know nothing more about him. I have never seen Pyatakov and I never sent him letters or packages.

It is self-evident that I carried out neither espionage nor sabotage, nor any anti-Soviet activity, but on the contrary, I placed all my experience and ability to work at the service of the institutions in which I worked; I did everything to avoid the mistakes which were committed, often of great proportions, and on these occasions I often had to fight vigorously with the Russian specialists. In these controversies I was often supported by Grasche or his staff, and especially by Kjaerulf Nielsen who, being a member of the Russian Party, felt himself obliged to aid me with all his power. I am evidently convinced that none of the Danes mentioned did anything of which they are accused. We were all Sympathetic to the cause and loved to help in the work of enlightenment wherever we could. I can not venture an opinion as to the motives which led Grasche to launch his accusations, baseless from every point of view. In so far as I myself am concerned, I wish only to add that I am neither Communist nor Trotskyite nor a member of any political party or group. I do not regret the two years and the work that I devoted to the chemical industry of the U.S.S.R.; I regret only that my experience could not have been better utilized.

Another personal interview with Windfeld-Hansen by the liberal daily newspaper, Politiken, and in this interview he said:

Mr. Winfeld-Hansen ended his report with some line words about the accused Grasche who accomplished great work and who – although millions and millions of German marks for the erection of nitrogen factories passed through his hands – re-received a very small salary, not more than 400 rubles per month. This high Soviet functionary, a Marxist of a high level and an extraordinary dialectician, really lived in entirely undeserved conditions.

The second Danish citizen mentioned in the trial. S. Lund, author of a novel Bread and Steel, stated on January 29, 1937:

Sigvard Lund, who was named as one of the Trotskyites with whom the accused Grasche, according to his “confessions,” was in connection, yesterday addressed himself to Social-Demokraten with a denial. Mr. Lund declares that he is affiliated to no party, including the Trotskyites. His trip to Russia, he says, had the sole purpose of orientation for his literary activity, and he did not return suddenly and deceived.

Then there is a quotation from one of the leaders of the Danish Communist Party which says:

We asked Thoeger Thoegersen, who returned last autumn from a sojourn of several years in Russia, his opinion on this question and he replied:

I think that everything Grasche said in the cross examination is invented. But on the other hand it evidently is not excluded that the Danes participated in the Trotskyite plot. I know in any case that the engineer Winfeld-Hansen was employed in the chemical industry, with which Pyatakov had dealings as Vice-Commissar of Heavy Industry, and that Strandgaard is in Russia each summer. In 1932 he had some connection with Intourist.

We have a letter from someone whose name we do not care to mention in public. We will refer to him as “W.” In this letter “W” states that he visited Copenhagen in March 1937. He was sent especially, by the way, to find out all about the activity of these Danish engineers.

DEWEY: Sent by whom?

GOLDMAN: Sent by the American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky. He tells us in this letter that he has interviewed Windfeld-Hansen, and that Windfeld-Hansen will send very important documents to the Commission containing his analysis of the testimony of Hrasche, and containing also his analysis of what actually occurred in the years 1932 and 1933, when he was there with reference to the management of the chemical industry. We will give you this letter as an indication of what the latter actually felt.

In this letter, or another letter by the same person, dated April 1st, 1937, reporting conversations that the writer of the letter had with Windfeld-Hansen – this letter gives the conversation. We simply give it to the Commission for whatever it is worth, and we state that the documents which Windfeld-Hansen is preparing for the Commission will appear later – some very interesting documents by a man who was actually in Russia, an engineer working with Hrasche.

FINERTY: Mr. Goldman, you stated that you would furnish the Commission the correct names of some of the people identified with pseudonyms?


FINERTY: Are you keeping a copy of that? Perhaps the transcript will not be written up before we leave. We should have these names communicated to us before we leave.

GOLDMAN: Yes. When we take the names out of the exhibits, we shall know what names we have concealed from the public. We shall give these names to the Commission.

FINERTY: Before?

GOLDMAN: Before the Commission leaves, that will be done. I call the Commission’s attention to an article written by Dr. Ciliga, a Jugoslavian, or rather an Italian citizen but actually a Jugoslavian, who was a member of the Jugoslavian Communist Party.

TROTSKY: A member of the Politburo of the Communist Party.

GOLDMAN: A member of the Politburo of the Communist Party.

He came to Russia as a Stalinist, but later on became a sympathizer of the Left Opposition. He was arrested, but finally succeeded in getting out of the Soviet Union. We call the Commissioners’ attention to the article published in the International Review, Volume II, Number 2, where he describes the conditions, from personal observation, under which the engineers are forced to confess to sabotage while they are in the presence of the GPU. I will merely read some of that article. I will read certain excerpts: “Among the engineers there were some who had ‘confessed’ their participation in sabotage. We were in the period of the monstrous ‘sabotage’ trials.”

In referring to the trials of Ramzin, the trials of certain engineers that took place some years ago, he says: “Little by little, with some difficulty, I learned the story of their troubles: their connection with ‘sabotage.’” Then follows the story of how the engineers confessed.

FINERTY: Mr. Goldman, I think the record should identify these sabotage trials. Was it 1930?

TROTSKY: 1931.

GOLDMAN: 1931.

FINERTY: How were they officially known?

GOLDMAN: They were officially known, I think, as the Industrial Trials.

TROTSKY: The Trials of the Industrial Party.

GOLDMAN: The engineer who confessed says as follows:

They kept me for five months in isolation without newspapers, without anything to read, without mail, without any contact with the outside, without a visit from my family. I was hungry. I suffered from solitude. They insisted I should confess to an act of sabotage that had never taken place. I refused to assume the guilt for crimes that had not even been committed. But I was told that if I was really for the Soviet power, as I said I was, I should confess to the charge, as the Soviet power needed my confession; I was assured that I should have no fear of the consequences. The Soviet power would take into consideration my open-hearted confession and give me the chance to work and repair my mistakes with work. As soon as 1 confessed, I’d have visits from my family, correspondence, walks, newspapers. But if I remained obstinate and persisted in saying nothing, I should have to bear pitiless repression. Not only I, but my wife and my children ... For months I resisted. But the situation became unbearable. Nothing, it seemed to me, could be worse. At any rate, I actually became indifferent to what people might say. I signed every statement offered by the examining judge.

After this engineer “confessed,” the GPU really gave him all they had promised. That way, no less than by terror, the GPU buy human beings, leading them little by little on the road to lying declarations. But morally the engineer was completely crushed by his conduct. He walked about the cell like a man with a broken heart. And that is the crisis that must have been suffered by many accused who had saved themselves by falsely confessing to “sabotage.” Sometimes this moral crisis ended in suicide, but that is another topic. That belongs under the heading of “consequences.”

GOLDMAN: And here he goes on and gives his conclusions. I need not read it, but it has been suggested before that the general Commission invite Dr. Ciliga to the United States for the hearing, or else send a sub-commission to France, where I believe he is now.

TROTSKY: Permit me to add that Ciliga passed about five years in Soviet prisons.

GOLDMAN: Here I produce an important document which will throw ―

FINERTY: Mr. Goldman, before you go ahead, did you intend to suggest by something you said prior that Hrasche was a member of the GPU?

GOLDMAN: I didn’t say anything of the kind. I simply stated that in accordance with his testimony, or, rather, if you will read the testimony, in accordance with what Vyshinsky puts in his mouth – under the American system it would be unbearable, a leading question – he was a spy of the Czechoslovakian Intelligence Service in 1922, and later of the German Intelligence Service.

FINERTY: You mean the same person who had served the GPU?

GOLDMAN: It is just a statement. I see nothing relevant in it except that he was in Moscow, a trusted member of the Party, that he went to the GPU house for the purpose of intervening for some Czechoslovakians who had been arrested by the GPU.

FINERTY: You have no evidence directly connecting him with membership in the GPU?

GOLDMAN: No evidence.

TROTSKY: It is absolutely excluded that a foreigner would be sent abroad on a special mission without authorization or without a special commission from the GPU.

FINERTY: In that sense ―

TROTSKY: In that sense I am absolutely sure that Hrasche, in the periods referred to – I don’t know Hrasche personally – but from my general experience in these matters, he was an agent of the GPU.

FRANKEL: The document from the former Czech Party leaders indicates this hypothesis, that he was a member of the GPU.

GOLDMAN: Now, I refer to an opinion given by members, by prominent members, of the French trade unions, the miners’ trade unions, who were present in Russia at the time of the trial involving the engineers of Kemerovo last November, and other so-called Trotskyites who were accused of causing an explosion in a certain mine in the Kuznets Basin.

FINERTY: Are you speaking of the second Moscow trial?


FINERTY: Are you speaking of the sabotage trials?

GOLDMAN: I was going to say, this trial was held in November 1936 – Novosibirsk trial in Novosibirsk.

TROTSKY: It plays a rôle in the last trial.

GOLDMAN: The same testimony that was presented at the Novosibirsk trial was adduced in the last trial.

TROTSKY: Drobnis and Muralov.

GOLDMAN: Drobnis and Muralov. I refer to the testimony of Drobnis beginning on page 212 of the Reports. Beginning with the second sentence from the top of page 212, Drobnis testified:

The second task was to reduce the output of coal, and, in addition, to damage the ventilation system, fill the pits with gas and cause explosions. In July, 1935, Noskov reported to me that he had completed preparations for the explosion of the “Tsentralnaya” Mine, which was in his charge. I approved of this.
Vyshinshy: When did he say that he had completed preparations for the explosion at the “Tsentralnaya” Mine?
Drobnis: This conversation took place in the beginning or the middle of July 1936.
Vyshinsky: And did you discuss with him under what conditions this explosion was to take place?
Drobnis: Noskov said that such a wrecking measure as allowing gas to accumulate in the mine would result in explosion and would cause loss of life. I replied: well, then, we must be ready for this, too. It would even be a good thing, because it would arouse the resentment of the workers which will enable us to win their sympathies.
Vyshinsky: That is to say, you not only approved of Noskov’s plan for an explosion in the mine, but even gave your sanction to the explosion taking place under conditions which would directly involve the death of workers?
Drobnis: Yes.
Vyshinsky: With all the consequences?
Drobnis: Yes.
Vyshinsky: You said that workers were bound to be killed?
Drobnis: I asked Noskov whether such a wrecking act could be performed without loss of life. He told me that it was out of the question. Thereupon I said that there was no use being finicky and that we must be ready for this.
Vyshinsky: How did you explain that?
Drobnis: I said that ... that we must ... I already explained that we must be prepared for this, too, that it would even ... and even if it did cause loss of life it would also arouse the resentment of the workers, and that would be in our favor.
Vyshinsky: But this is not what you tried to assert here. You just said that you asked Noskov whether the sacrifice of life could not be avoided. But it follows from what you said that, far from being opposed to sacrifice of life, you thought, to the contrary, that the more lives lost the better for you.
Drobnis: Well, yes, that’s so, more or less ...
Vyshinsky: Well, I realize that it is of course somewhat inconvenient for you to speak of such things here in public. But there is nothing to be done about it. Did you say that there was nothing to shrink from?
Drobnis: I did.
Vyshinsky: And that meant that if workers were to perish, as a result, well, let them perish. Did you encourage Noskov?
Drobnis: Yes.
Vyshinsky: You encouraged him with regard to the killing of workers, and even said that the more there were killed the better. Did I understand you to say that?
Drobnis: Yes.
Vyshinsky: That is, I am exaggerating nothing?
Drobnis: You are exaggerating a little.
Vyshinsky: Let us make this clear, let us recall the facts. Did you say to Noskov that the more victims the better?
Drobnis: Yes.
Vyshinsky: What, then, am I exaggerating?
Drobnis: I did not mean by this that he should kill more.
Vyshinsky: Did you think that if you said “more” he would understand you to mean “less,” that he would understand you to mean that you wanted to reduce the loss of life?
Drobnis: I wanted to reduce ...
Vyshinsky: Yet you said, let there be more, and even explained why more deaths were necessary. You said, let there be more victims, since that would arouse the resentment of the workers. The greater the number of victims, the less the resentment?
Drobnis: No, on the contrary.
Vyshinsky: The greater the number of victims, the greater the resentment?
Drobnis: Yes.
Vyshinsky: Is that what you wanted?
Drobnis: Yes, in effect, that is what I wanted.
Vyshinsky: In effect – or did you want it? Speak plainly.
Drobnis: I fully and completely confirm the testimony I gave at the preliminary investigation.
Vyshinsky: Why confirm? You are now in court, and you can give testimony without confirming the old testimony.
Drobnis: I am not quibbling; I fully and completely confirm my earlier testimony.
Vyshinsky: Did you speak to Noskov about preparations for an explosion in the “Tsentralnaya” Mine?
Drobnis: Yes.
Vyshinsky: Did Noskov ask you, or did you ask him, what about the people? Who asked the question?
Drobnis: Noskov.
Vyshinsky: He asked you what about the workers? Is that true?
Drobnis: Yes.
Vyshinsky: And you first said that you asked whether loss of life could not be avoided. What did you answer?
Drobnis: I said that we must be prepared for this.
Vyshinsky: “For this,” for what?
Drobnis: For the sacrifice of workers.
Vyshinsky: What does “sacrifice” mean?
Drobnis: It means murder.
Vyshinsky: And how did you justify it?
Drobnis: The more victims the better.
Vyshinsky: For whom?
Drobnis: For the wrecking work.
Vyshinsky: For the Trotskyites?
Drobnis: Yes.
Vyshinsky: Why?
Drobnis: Because this might arouse the resentment of the workers against the Soviet government.
Vyshinsky: Arouse the resentment of the workers against the Soviet government – was that your aim? Drobnis: Yes.
Vyshinsky: And it was for this that you were willing to resort to any means, even the murder of workers?
Drobnis: Yes.
Vyshinsky: What, then, am I exaggerating?
Drobnis: Nothing.
Vyshinsky: Then this explosion was effected?
Drobnis: I was arrested on August 6, and the explosion took place on September 23.
Vyshinsky: But you sanctioned the explosion?
Drobnis: I sanctioned it at the end or in the middle of July.
Vyshinsky: Consequently, your arrest did not prevent the explosion from being effected, because Noskov remained at the mine?
Drobnis: Yes.
Vyshinsky: And could it have been prevented?
Drobnis: Prevented? Of course it could.
Vyshinsky: Who could have prevented it?
Drobnis: I could have prevented it.
Vyshinsky: You did not prevent it?
Drobnis: I did not prevent it.
Vyshinsky: The explosion was effected?
Drobnis: Yes.
Vyshinsky: I have no more questions.

TROTSKY: Permit me to add that Drobnis was an old member of the revolutionary movement, the Bolshevik Party. He was twice condemned to death by the Whites, and once fusillated.


TROTSKY: Shot by the Whites without the necessary efficiency, and then found among the corpses, living. Now, he was shot with all the necessary efficiency.

GOLDMAN: Now, I want to read just a few lines of the President of the court, instead of Vyshinsky.

The President: Accused Drobnis, did you advise Noskov, in case everything came out and he was questioned, on whom he was to lay the blame for these diversive and wrecking acts?
Drobnis: Yes.
The President: What instructions did you give Noskov if he should be called to account?
Drobnis: To lay all the blame on the non-Party specialists.
The President: Even on those who were in no way involved?
Drobnis: Well, of course.

GOLDMAN: Now, I read an opinion of French trade unionists with reference to the explosion of the “Tsentralnaya” Mine.

TROTSKY: Will you say who they are?

GOLDMAN: I think it is mentioned here. “At the time of the trial of the ‘sabotaging’ engineers of Kemerovo last November, there was in the USSR a delegation of the National Federation of Miners of the CGT of France.” This is the federation of labor in France. The letter goes on to say:

... It included, among others, the national Secretary, Vigne, and the associate secretary, Kleber Legay. The accusations were communicated to them. As professional men, they refused to believe it, and on their return to France Kleber Legay sent a letter to Magdeleine Paz in which he showed, from the technical point of view, the absurdity of the official accusations against the engineers who “had kept the mine pits in a permanent explosive state.”

K. Legay wrote:

There were five of us: Vigne, secretary of the National Federation of French Miners; Sinot, secretary of the Carmaux Miners; Planque, miners’ delegate to Vermelles (Pas de Calais), and Quinet, Communist deputy, who went to hear the lecture and the explanations of the interpreter Smerling.

I can still see my friend Vigne indignantly saying to Smerling, “It is singular to note how all your accused not only recognize their guilt, but mutually accuse each other of the most unbelievable things.”

We did not and never will believe, we told Smerling, the accusations they bear, and this is why:

Responsible unions (of the USSR) told us that a very stringent service for the inspection of the mines existed.

It functioned in the following manner:

1. An engineer, designated by the People’s Commissar;

2. Local and inter-local presidents of the workers’ unions, designated by the workers themselves;

3. Delegates of the pits, of sections of the mines, also designated by the workers.

These delegates, it seems, have full power. They can stop a mine, a section of a mine, or the yards, if they think there is some danger or even the threat of danger.

We cannot understand how, with such an apparatus for the inspection and safety of the mines, it could be possible for the engineers to operate under complete secrecy for the preparations of such crimes, and above all over a period of years.

As a miner, and knowing perfectly the difficulty of mining, and having worked more than 20 years, during 12 of them as a delegate for the security of the workers in one of the most gaseous mines in France, I defy any technician, no matter how competent, systematically to put a mine in an explosive state without the inspectors, even if they were complete idiots, perceiving it within the hour.

If the inspector of the security of the Kemerovo mines was not aware of it, he was either an accomplice or he did not exist.

If he did exist, he is even more guilty than the others accused, and since it is the mode in Moscow to shoot, he should have been the first to be shot.

If he did not exist, we were lied to about the protection of the worker’s safety. In that case, what can one think of the men in power if they lie, even to their guests, on the gravest questions?

Even if the service for the inspection of safety did not exist, I still say it is impossible to place a mine in an explosive state without its being remarked.

There were the superintendence, inspection, thousands of workers at work in these mines, who should have seen it, he said.

Is one to admit that all, even though they knew their lives were in danger, would have kept quiet, only for the purpose of establishing with greater certainty the proof of the guilt of the accused, even though at one moment or another all might have perished if the condition existed?

No; technically, by the assent of everyone, it is impossible to keep a mine in a permanent explosive state by the accumulation of fire-damp.

The least informed person on mining affairs would say as we do: One could never believe in such a possibility.

FINERTY: Mr. Goldman, is that part of the testimony of the experts of the prosecution?

STOLBERG: In the Novosibirsk trial?

FINERTY: Mr. Goldman says it is the same explosion as that with which the Moscow trial is concerned. Does this information of the French trade unionists apply to the testimony of the experts for the prosecution in the second Moscow trial, on pages 451-456?

GOLDMAN: I am inclined to believe that this information refers to the testimony of the experts in the Novosibirsk trial.


GOLDMAN: I am not positive from a reading of the pages of the Verbatim Report whether the testimony in the Novosibirsk trial was the same as the testimony of the experts in the last trial. Drobnis, in giving the reason – I read the testimony of Drobnis. He mentions on page 212 that, “the second task was to reduce the output of coal and, in addition, to damage the ventilation system, fill the pits with gas, and cause explosions.” That is why I assume that the testimony – and I believe Drobnis was involved in Novosibirsk ―

TROTSKY: As a witness.

GOLDMAN: As a witness. That this testimony is the same information. The French trade unionists refer to this particular explosion. Obviously, as far as information is concerned, it deals with these experts who might have testified that it resulted from an accumulation of gas. But whether or not the experts testified in the last trial about this particular thing, I don’t know. From a reading of the experts’ testimony I am not sure that the “Tsentralnaya” mentioned was identified.

FINERTY: It is not identified here. But the technique seems to be the same – the technique attributed to the saboteurs seems to be the same.

GOLDMAN: Except in the Report, the technique involves false construction, which this information does not in any way deal with.

TROTSKY: Mr. Chairman, permit me to add some remarks. The Federation of Miners in France has now about a million members. Both secretaries are reformists and adversaries of the Trotskyites. The federation includes Stalinists and reformists. They were invited to Russia as friends.

FINERTY: Friends of Stalin?

TROTSKY: Friends of the bureaucracy. They made the trip in the company of a Stalinist deputy, a parliamentary deputy. He was the fifth in the group. They are all my terrible adversaries.

FINERTY: May I also ask if you have the transcript of the Novosibirsk trial? Is it available?

GOLDMAN: As far as I know, the transcript of the Novosibirsk trial was not written up.

TROTSKY: Only in Russian in the Pravda in fragments.

GOLDMAN: Now, the last of my exhibits in the question of “sabotage” I wish to introduce after I put some questions to Mr. Trotsky.

Mr. Trotsky, with reference to the industrialization of the Soviet Union, what was your attitude prior to your expulsion from the Soviet Union?

TROTSKY: During the period from 1922 until 1929 I fought for the necessity of an accelerated industrialization. I wrote in the beginning of 1925 a book in which I tried to prove that by planning and direction of industry it was possible to have a yearly coefficient of industrialization up to twenty. I was denounced at that time as a fantastic man, a super-industrializer. It was the official name for the Trotskyites at that time: Super-industrializers.

GOLDMAN: What was the name of the book that you wrote?

TROTSKY: Whither Russia, Toward Capitalism or Socialism?"

GOLDMAN: In English it was published, I am quite sure, under the title, Whither Russia, Towards Capitalism or Socialism?

TROTSKY: The march of events showed that I was too cautious in my appreciation of the possibility of planned economy, not too courageous. It was my fight between 1922 and 1925, and also the fight for the Five-Year Plan. It begins with the year 1923, when the Left Opposition began to fight for the necessity of using the Five-Year Plan.

GOLDMAN: And Stalin at that time called you a “super-industrialist”?


GOLDMAN: He was opposed to the rapid industrialization of the country?

TROTSKY: Permit me to say that in 1927, when I was chairman of the commission at Dnieprostroy for a hydro-electric station, a power station, I insisted in the session of the Central Committee on the necessity of building up this station. Stalin answered, and it is published: “For us to build up the Dnieprostroy station is the same as for a peasant to buy a gramophone instead of a cow.”

GOLDMAN: When the plans for the first Five-Year Plan first came out, what criticisms did you make of them?


FINERTY: Mr. Goldman, may I suggest that you ask when the first Five-Year Plan came out? You mean the official Five-Year Plan?

GOLDMAN: Can you give us the time when the first Five-Year Plan was officially placed before the Soviet Union and the world?

TROTSKY: I believe October 1928, towards the end of 1932, because ―

GOLDMAN: You mean the Five-Year Plan was started in 1928?

TROTSKY: Yes, and finished in 1932. The plan was transformed into a Four-Year Plan. They changed the beginning of the economic year from October to January.

GOLDMAN: At first it was a Five-Year Plan and then subsequently it was changed to be completed into a Four-Year Plan?

FINERTY: What I would like to know is when the Government of Stalin, the Government first promulgated the Five-Year Plan, not when it first started, but when it first announced it.

GOLDMAN: When the Soviet Government first announced the plan?

TROTSKY: The Five-Year Plan had a long pre-history. It was elaborated, I believe – the beginning of the elaboration was 1926 or even 1927. The first plan was not announced publicly, but presented only to the Politburo. It was a plan in which the first year had a coefficient of nine, the second eight or seven, the last year only four – a declining line of growth. That was the beginning of a terrible fight. I named this plan “The Sabotage of Industry,” not in the criminal sense as here charged, but in the sense that it was an absolutely cowardly conception of the possibilities created by the October Revolution. The second plan, elaborated in 1926, had a general coefficient of nine for all the five years. The Commissioners can find that in the book, The Real Situation in Russia, in our platform. That was the second plan. At that time I fought for the possibility, and I tried to prove the possibility of having a coefficient of twenty – until twenty.

INTERPRETER: As high as.

TROTSKY: As high as twenty, or to be more correct, eighteen. Because I showed that the growth of bourgeois or capitalist industry was six under the Tsar, and I tried to prove that it was possible to double and triple it.

DEWEY: Mr. Trotsky, both – or what you call the first and second plans – were promulgated by the Left Opposition?

TROTSKY: We began the fight for the Five-Year Plan in 1922 or 1923.

DEWEY: And all of these were by the Opposition – all of these plans were presented by the Opposition?

TROTSKY: By the State Planning Commission, by the official State Planning Commission as the incarnation of the spirit of cowardice, economic cowardice. We accused them of “sabotaging” in this sense, as I explained.

DEWEY: How was that “sabotaging” ―

TROTSKY: It was not bad will by the authors of the plan. I used the word “sabotage” here in quotations, in a polemical sense, in a journalistic sense.

DEWEY: Mr. Trotsky, both were presented by the State Planning Commission. Who refused to put them into effect? That is all I want to know.

TROTSKY: That was the first. After our criticism, the first plan was rejected by the Politburo. The second, with the coefficient of nine, was confirmed by the Politburo, was adopted by the Politburo with nine the first average.

FINERTY: A constant coefficient, you said.

TROTSKY: Yes, constant for the five years. We gave the criticism in our platform. The results of the first year showed that we were right. Then they changed the plan. That is the genuine history of the first Five-Year Plan.

GOLDMAN: That is, after the completion of the first year of the Five-Year Plan, they changed the plan. The Soviet authorities changed the plan to coincide more with the plans of the original ―

TROTSKY: With the reality, or the prognosis of the Opposition coincided with the realities.

FINERTY: You mean the actual coefficient of the first year was nearer eighteen than nine?

TROTSKY: It was more than twenty.

GOLDMAN: During the progress of the Five-Year Plan, did you express any opinions in writing with reference to the methods used by the Soviet authorities in completing the Five-Year Plan?

TROTSKY: During the second year the bureaucracy proposed to accomplish the Five-Year Plan in four years. In the Bulletin I protested vehemently. All impractical men – it is very characteristic of impractical men that before they began, they did not foresee the correct possibilities, but that when the possibilities were realized against themselves they were very frightened by the possibilities, and then saw no limits. They began, under the whip of the bureaucracy, to raise the coefficients without paying any attention to the living conditions of the workers. They built up factories, but no houses for the workers. It was necessary now to have a coefficient of 30 per cent and 35 per cent.

GOLDMAN: What was there to the contention that it was necessary to make haste in order to defend – prepare the Soviet Union for defense against a possible attack?

TROTSKY: I wrote, and it was published and translated in several languages, that this hasty bureaucratic industrialization signified the inevitable accumulation of inner contradictions in industry itself. In the capitalist system, the necessary proportions are reached by competition between different capitalists, capitalist industries and enterprises. But in a planned economy it is necessary to foresee all the necessary proportions. It is not possible to foresee by abstractions. It is necessary to foresee, correct and perfect the plan by the opinion of the people, by the experience of the people, by the degree of satisfaction of its needs, by the proportion between the different industries, the different factories, and even the different sections of the same factories. Nobody built up Socialist economy before us. It is the first experience and the greatest in history. And then I warned more cautiously: “It is not possible to run away with yourselves. You will land in a crisis.”

GOLDMAN: Now, from your information derived from a reading of the Soviet press, what can you tell us now about the successes of industrialization or the defects of industrialization, if anything?

DEWEY: We will take a short recess now.

GOLDMAN: Read the last question. (Previous question read by the reporter.)

TROTSKY: My attitude toward the economic development of the Soviet Union can be characterized as follows: I defend the Soviet economy against the capitalist critics and the Social Democratic reformist critics, and I criticize the bureaucratic methods of the leadership. The deductions were very simple. They were based on the Soviet press itself. We have a certain freedom from the bureaucratic hypnosis. It was absolutely possible to see all of the dangers on the basis of the Soviet press itself.

GOLDMAN: Can you give us an idea, very generally, of the successes of the industrialization in the Soviet Union?

TROTSKY: The successes are very important, and I affirmed it every time. They are due to the abolition of private property and to the possibilities inherent in planned economy. But, they are – I cannot say exactly – but I will say two or three times less than they could be under a régime of Soviet democracy.

GOLDMAN: So the advances are due, in spite of the bureaucratic control and methods?

TROTSKY: They are due to the possibilities inherent in the socialization of the productive forces.

GOLDMAN: Before I go any further, Mr. Chairman, will you permit me to make a statement for the record? In one of the Mexican papers this morning there is an affirmation that Mr. Trotsky has refused to present his documents to the Commission, and the reason for the refusal is given as his lack of confidence in the Commission. Mr. Trotsky profoundly regrets this extremely unkind affirmation about people who enjoy worldwide confidence. He has never refused to present any document to the Commission. Entirely on the contrary, he places at the disposal of the Commission all his archives without the slightest exception. He has only requested of the President of the Commission authorization (a) not to name in public session the places where the different parts of his archives are located, (b) not to cite in public session names and circumstances which might hurt a third person in fascist countries or in the USSR.

The Commission was unanimous in authorizing Mr. Trotsky to present supplementary explanations about the archives, etc. (explanations of a purely technical and non-political nature), in a private administrative session of the Commission.

Mr. Trotsky has a too great consideration for the Mexican press and for the paper in question to admit for a single moment that there is involved a spiteful interpretation of his words. There can only be a question of a deplorable misunderstanding. Mr. Trotsky hopes that this declaration will be printed in the paper in question, and that the incident will in this way be closed. Mexican public opinion will only gain by that.

I will ask Mr. Beals to translate that.

BEALS: May I ask you to give the name of the paper, or if you don't wish to, communicate it to the Commission privately?

(Commissioner Beals translates Attorney Goldman’s statement into Spanish.)

DEWEY: May I state that the Commission clearly understands that Mr. Trotsky has offered to submit, and will submit, to the Commission, all documents relative to the inquiry, and that the Commission has already agreed that certain names should be presented in administrative or executive session.

GOLDMAN: Mr. Trotsky, can you tell us ―

FINERTY: Mr. Goldman, I think it should be understood, in your interest, that the Commission has agreed that certain of these names be communicated to us privately, so that these witnesses may not be apprehended by the fascist Governments or the Soviet Government.

DEWEY: That is correct.

GOLDMAN: Will you briefly tell us your attitude to the collectivization of 1928?

TROTSKY: It was parallel to my attitude toward industrialization, with a certain delay. Our fight for collectivization began a year or eighteen months later than our fight for industrialization. Our fight against the hasty collectivization also a year later than our fight against the hasty industrialization. In the Five-Year Plan adopted by the Politburo, not in the second version but in the third version with the high coefficient for industry – it was adopted that at the end of the Five-Year Plan the Soviet Union would have 20 to 22 per cent of the peasants in collective farms. But in the third year it was more than 6o per cent – in the third year of the plan. It was decided that all peasants must be collectivized during the first plan.

We protested that this was not possible: “You do not have the necessary agricultural machinery – tractors, and so on; and, what is more important, the necessary level of culture in the country, no roads, no cultivated technicians, and so forth.”

GOLDMAN: What is your opinion at the present time on the successes of the collectivization in the Soviet Union?

TROTSKY: It is more difficult than with industry. I must say that the Soviet statistics – and I say it with great regret – are almost as false as the indictments. I know by my own experience that honest statisticians, who tried to present the situation as it is, were imprisoned and sent to Siberia, because their expositions were in contradiction with the conjunctural plans of the bureaucracy. In the names of the chiefs of the statistical bureau, the most important collaborators, you can find the different phases of the development of the ideas of the Politburo. The statistics are totalitarianized. That is why even people who are educated and proceed theoretically must proceed empirically here, by some isolated facts in the Soviet press.

Concerning industry it is easier, because industry is concentrated. Agriculture is dispersed, and that is why a general appreciation is more difficult. But I never denied the successes of collectivization. On the contrary, I defended the collectivization against the bourgeois critics and the reformist critics. But at the same time I tried to defend the collectivization against the Soviet bureaucracy. This complete collectivization during five years did not give the economic, the necessary economic results, but it gave – I don’t know the figures, but it is hundreds, thousands and millions of exterminated peasants.

GOLDMAN: You were opposed to the administrative measures of collectivization?

TROTSKY: That is a totally correct expression. I insisted that the collectivization, which supposes a more – or, rather, the highest – level of activity or dependence on the peasants, their capacity for collective social work, that the advance towards collectivization must be accomplished with the conscious agreement of the peasants themselves. That it was necessary to explain to them, to teach them, to win them – not to kill the kulak. I am not afraid of the kulak. The kulaks are peasants who exploit the other peasants. But the actions of the bureaucracy were to kill the kulaks and to push, by these methods, the other peasants into the camp of the hostile elements, by fear.

DEWEY: Mr. Goldman, I understood Mr. Trotsky to say that certain statisticians were imprisoned and exiled because they preferred to proceed honestly.


DEWEY: Where did you derive that information?

TROTSKY: I can name a very scientific man, the authority, Bazarov. He was in his youth a Bolshevik, but he was essentially a scientist. He worked on the Planning Commission and during the trial of the Mensheviks and during the trial mentioned here, of the Industrial Party – there were two members of the Industrial Party and two Mensheviks. The trial of the Industrial Party had as its aim to accuse the specialists and the engineers on the Planning Commsssion of too cowardly plans. They became the scapegoats of the first Five-Year Plan.

Then came the second trial against the Mensheviks, two Mensheviks, the well known Sukhanov, the historian, and Groman, the economist. They confessed. Now, nobody knows where they are. The third, Bazarov, connected with them, refused to confess. He disappeared, and nobody knows where he is. It was a question of their work on the Planning Commission. Bazarov was one of our best statisticians and mathematicians.

Another was Popov, who was also a chief of the state Statistical Bureau. He was dismissed, and then prosecuted. I don’t know his fate, whether he is in prison or in Siberia. But I know very well the reason for it. The man who accomplished this action was Yakovlev, who afterwards was People’s Commissar of Agriculture. He presented absolutely false statistics.

GOLDMAN: Did I understand you to mean that the engineers who were placed on trial during this trial of the Industrial Party were responsible for the first version of the original Five-Year Plan?


GOLDMAN: And that the Soviet authorities made them the scapegoats for the slow tempo?

TROTSKY: They minimalized the Socialist possibilities.

GOLDMAN: You mean “minimized”

TROTSKY: Yes, minimized. The pair of engineers did not have their own answers. They showed what they conveyed to the Politburo. Then, with their pencils they showed the figures they gave in the tables and documents. Then, when the situation changed, the Politburo said, “Their documents are bad, the figures are bad. We must shoot them.”

BEALS: I just want to ask Mr. Trotsky: The Five-Year Plan, you mentioned, had certain defects due to the bureaucratic conditions. You have also stated that the statistics of the Five-Year Plan are open to doubt because the chairman of the statisticians and others are not allowed to give proper statistics. Third, you have been out of the Soviet Union since before the Five-Year Plan went into effect. What are these – can you state briefly the general sources of information about the Soviet Union if the statistics are false? On what do you base your own statistics?

TROTSKY: The systematic falsification of the statistics began with the year 1926. We had not very good statistics, because statistics correspond to the general level of culture of the country. But we had inherited from Tsarism many bad things and also some good things. The statistics of the “zemstvos,” the self-governing bodies in the provinces, gave honest reflections of the situation in the country. There were in the “zemstvos” régime liberals, Socialists, and so on. They were in opposition to the Tsar. Many of them became revolutionists. Then they began to fight, to oppose the tendentious information about the Soviet Union. They had the same fate. That began as a rule at the beginning, or rather, the end of 1925, during the split, on the one side of Zinoviev and Kamenev, and Stalin on the other side. It was during the preparation of the Fourteenth Congress of the Party when all the statistics, the most important statistics, were changed. Yakovlev named the new statistics as statistics.

GOLDMAN: Mr. Trotsky, Mr. Beals wants to know ―

TROTSKY: I will answer the question. When one says the truth it is a very simple matter. But when the bureaucracy begins to lie about the whole situation, the different elements of the bureaucracy contradict themselves. It is only possible for an honest man to find the truth by a comparison of the lies. That is a simple exposition of my method. I will give you an example: Stalin presents the results of the Five-Year Plan as a complete success. Molotov, in a speech after Stalin’s speech, some weeks after, said in passing that the last year of the Five-Year Plan had a coefficient of only eight, not twenty or more than twenty, as was announced, but only eight. I ask: How was it possible to accomplish the Five-Year Plan in four years if the coefficient of the last year was only eight? Why only eight? Because the contradictions accumulating during the first three years by the bureaucratic whip were so terrible they totally handicapped industry in the last year.

GOLDMAN: In what papers did you read that?

TROTSKY: In Pravda. I quoted it officially. I asked them, as I asked Pyatakov, I asked them in my paper: What does the contradiction signify?

GOLDMAN: Where did you get your statistics, from the Soviet Union?

TROTSKY: Yes. You know, you have generalized statistics, a general report of Stalin and of Molotov, and you have the detailed statistics in the papers. It is not possible to oblige or force everybody to say a falsehood. The director of a factory, the director of a branch of industry, in their reports, tell the truth. And his truth on the second floor, or their truths, become falsehoods. I can compare both. I cannot contend that my evaluation is mathematically exact, but it has the privilege of being more honest. Yet mine is nearer to the truth.

GOLDMAN: Is it understood that all your statistics upon which you based your conclusions you derived from the press in the Soviet Union?

TROTSKY: Exclusively.

STOLBERG: From separate statistical reports?

TROTSKY: Yes, from general reports, and those of a scientific character, as far as I can use them, and so on.

GOLDMAN: Does that answer your question?

DEWEY: Does that last statement of yours exclude your having received private or secret information?

TROTSKY: Of economists?


TROTSKY: It was absolutely unnecessary. In the past we had general correspondence, but it was all published in the Bulletin. The correspondence about the fact that they built up a very good factory, a genuine American factory, and great dams, bigger than in the United States. But the roads remain impracticable – that is, roads leading to factories. There are new houses for the workers. But the houses exist, and no sanitary conditions are prepared. Then the workers, after two or three months of work, become sick with epidemics, and after the second epidemic they go away illegally. The director becomes the scapegoat and is removed from the factory.

GOLDMAN: Did I understand that your answer to Dr. Dewey’s question is, that you have no secret information?

TROTSKY: No; everybody who is interested knows it. It is not a military secret.

GOLDMAN: From a reading of the Soviet press?

TROTSKY: From a reading of the Soviet press.

FINERTY: Mr. Trotsky, did I understand you to say that the coefficient was in the last year of the first Five-Year Plan – that is, in 1928 – was eight?

TROTSKY: Eight, yes, according to the information of Mr. Molotov.

FINERTY: According to Molotov it was eight, and that was before they charged you with any act of sabotage?


FINERTY: None of these acts of sabotage go beyond 1932?

TROTSKY: I tried to find out the dates when my alleged sabotaging action began. It is very difficult.

FINERTY: They claim the instructions for sabotage were given Radek in 1932.

TROTSKY: Yes, but in the same report you find the affirmation that what was new in 1934 was my instructions about general sabotage actions. After I gave Mr. Goldman all the material I found in my archives a quotation from Pravda, from a speech, which says that in 1929 the Trotskyites were saboteurs. But if it was to be understood with quotations or without quotations, is unclear. It is emphatically stated in the first accusation: “You are a Super-industrialist.” Then how, by being a Super-industrialist, can you be a saboteur of industry? Trotsky, from his exile, from his powerful exile, disorganized industry in the Soviet Union, in spite of the leadership. It is genuine infallibility. That is the situation today.

GOLDMAN: Now, to substantiate what Mr. Trotsky has testified to with reference to his ideas on industrialization in his criticism of the methods of industrialization and collectivization by the bureaucracy, I offer excerpts from his writings. I thought of reading them, but Mr. Trotsky’s analysis, in my opinion, has been sufficient. I shall refer the Commission to the sources, where they can actually read the whole articles referred to by Mr. Trotsky.

The article that was of interest was written by Rakovsky at the time that he was still in Siberia – an article on the Five-Year Plan – published in the Militant, New York, 1932, beginning with March 5th and ending March 26th. In short, the article states that:

... the growth in quantity was produced, in a decisive measure, not at the cost of an increase in investment capital and not at the cost of an improvement of the technical basis, but at the most of a more intensive exploitation of the investment capital that was at hand, with the increase in the number of workers on the one hand and the rise in the intensity of labor on the other.

He speaks here of the quality of production as being very bad, which should be taken into consideration where the question of quantity is concerned.

In the Militant of July 22nd, 1932, there is an article signed by – there is a letter from Moscow signed “M.M.,” that gives an idea of the feelings of the workers toward the hasty and rapid tempo of industrialization. Also, in the Militant there are letters from Moscow, October 3rd-8th, 1932.

Mr. Trotsky wrote a pamphlet called, Soviet Economy in Danger. The pamphlet is now out of print, but the contents of the pamphlet were republished in the Militant November 12th, 1932, to January 7th, 1933, inclusive. There he speaks about the matters he has referred to in his oral testimony. I just want to read one or two quotations from that pamphlet:

Every attempt to influence from below the economic management is immediately assigned to a deviation either to the Right or Left; i.e., it is practically made a capital offense. The bureaucratic upper crust, when all is said and done, has pronounced itself infallible in the sphere of Socialist planning (disregarding the fact that its collaborators and inspirers turned out often to be inimical machinators and sabotagers) – Thus was liquidated the basic mechanic of Socialist construction – the pliant and elastic system of Soviet Democracy.

In the article on the Danger of Thermidor, published in the Militant, February 4th, 1933, I quote: “... Only such reciprocal economic relation between the city and country – what Lenin called smytchka ...” ―

TROTSKY: Meaning “connection,” or “joined.”

GOLDMAN (reading):

... can free the workers’ state from the necessity of taking forcible measures against the village to compel the exchange. Only from the moment when the voluntary exchange is assured will the proletarian dictatorship be unshakable. The smytchka thus secured, means the closest political alliance of the poor peasantry with the urban workers, the firm support of the decisive masses of the middle peasantry, and, consequently, the political isolation of the kulaks and of all capitalist elements in the country in general. The smytchka thus secured means the unshakable loyalty of the Red Army to the proletarian dictatorship, which in view of the successful industrialization and the unlimited human, largely peasant, reserves, will make it possible for the Soviet state to repulse any imperialist intervention ... The hungry workers are dissatisfied with the policies of the party. The party is dissatisfied with the leadership. The peasantry is dissatisfied with industrialization, with collectivization, with the city. Part of the peasantry is dissatisfied with the régime. What part? We cannot know, but it is clear that under present circumstances it can only grow.”

In the Militant, of March 18th, 1933, Trotsky wrote a series of articles which were called: Alarm Signal! Danger Draws Closer in USSR. In the Militant, from May 27th to June 3rd, 1933, Trotsky wrote a series of articles called, Problems of the Soviet Regime.

In the book or pamphlet, What Next? by Trotsky, on pages 134-5, there are matters dealing with Soviet economy.

DEWEY: What year was that?

GOLDMAN: What Next? was published in 1932.

TROTSKY: It is directed against German fascism.

GOLDMAN: The book deals with the problems of Germany in that period, with German fascism and the German proletariat, also including some questions dealing with the Soviet Union.

LAFOLLETTE: Isn’t that called Germany, What Next? in the English edition?

GOLDMAN: The exact title is: What Next? Vital Questions for the German Proletariat.

This closes the section dealing with the alleged acts of sabotage and acts of diversion. I shall next take up the question of individual terror, the question of the attitude which Mr. Trotsky now has towards the possibility of changing the Stalin régime in the Soviet Union, and towards what means must be used to change the Stalin régime in the Soviet Union.

On the question of Mr. Trotsky’s attitude towards individual tenor, I refer the Commission to a series of excerpts, and, what is more important, a volume from the collected works of Trotsky, volume IV, in Russian. Excerpts have been translated. I shall read them. The first excerpt on terrorism is not by Trotsky, but from a statement by Zinoviev, in 1911, in Zinoviev’s works, published by the State Publishing House in Leningrad in 1924. It is entitled: The Provocateurs of Nicholas II and the Trial of the Social-Democratic Deputies in the Second Duma. I read:

In order to give the affair a “polished appearance,” they composed a provocative fable saying that our workers’ deputies of the Second Duma have carried out a special plot to kill the Tsar. It is not even necessary to mention that it was a complete lie. Our workers’ deputies had too much real revolutionary work to do to be occupied with stupid “plots.” With Nicholas the Bloody and his whole gang, the insurrectionary people will themselves finish in due time – this is what the Social-Democracy teaches. Precisely for that reason it refuses to undertake any “plot,” and devotes all its forces to the organization of the working class, to the cause of the preparation of the mass revolutionary fight. That the fable of the “plot” is the basest provocative invention was known to everybody. This was very well known to the majority of the Second Duma, composed of members of the Cadet Party ... –

TROTSKY: The Cadets were a bourgeois party.

GOLDMAN (reading):

... although they have been silent about it until the present. The Cadets themselves now recognize this, after four years.

Our Social-Democratic deputies of the second Duma tried to unmask this provocation from the tribune of the Duma. But the Cadets kept their mouths shut.

That was from Zinoviev. In 1902 Trotsky wrote: “Not for personal but for a revolutionary vengeance. Not for the execution of Ministers but for the execution of autocracy.”

In 1909, Trotsky wrote:

Terrorist work, in its very essence, demands such a concentration of energy upon the “supreme moment,” such an overestimation of personal heroism, and, lastly, such an hermetically concealed conspiracy as ... excluded completely any agitational and organizational activity among the masses ... Struggling against terrorism, the Marxian intelligentsia defended their right or their duty not to withdraw from the working-class districts for the sake of tunneling mines underneath the Grand Ducal and Tsarist palaces.

Again in 1909:

In so far as terror introduces disorganization and demoralization in the ranks of the Government (at the price of disorganizing and demoralizing the ranks of the revolutionists), to that extent it plays into the hands of none other than the liberals themselves.

TROTSKY: Excuse me. Permit me to say that the word “liberal” has in America another sense. It was the possessing classes in Russia, the liberal nobles and bourgeois capitalists.

GOLDMAN: I read again:

Terrorism in Russia is dead ... Terror has migrated far to the East ... to the provinces of Punjab and Bengal ... It may be that in other countries of the Orient terrorism is still destined to pass through an epoch of flowering. But in Russia it is already a part of the heritage of history.

Again in January 1910 Trotsky wrote: “In the blind alley of terrorism, the hand of provocation rules with assurance.”

Again in 1910:

The irreconcilable attitude of the Russian Social Democracy toward the bureaucratized terror of the revolution as a means of struggle against the terrorist bureaucracy of Tsarism has met with bewilderment and condemnation not only among the Russian liberals but also among the European Socialists.

Once more, in 1910, Trotsky wrote:

Whoever stalks a Ministerial portfolio ... as well as they who, clasping an infernal machine beneath a cloak, stalk the Minister himself, must equally overestimate the Minister – his personality and his post. For them the system itself disappears or recedes far away, and there remains only the individual invested with power.

The translation here must be very bad.

TROTSKY: Not for the Minister, for the terrorists.

GOLDMAN: We shall get a new translation of this section. In 1911, Trotsky wrote in Der Kampf, the theoretical organ of the Austrian Social Democracy:

Whether or not a terrorist attempt, even if “successful” introduces confusion in the ruling circles, depends upon the concrete political circumstances. In any case, this confusion can only be of short duration. The capitalist state does not rest upon Ministers, and cannot be destroyed together with them. The classes whom the state serves will always find new men – the mechanism remains intact and continues to function. But much deeper is that confusion which the terrorist attempts introduce into the ranks of the working masses. If it is enough to arm oneself with a revolver to reach the goal, then to what end are the endeavors of the class struggle? If a pinch of powder and a slug of lead are ample to shoot the enemy through the neck, where is the need of a class organization? If there is any rhyme or reason in scaring titled personages with the noise of an explosion, what need is there for a party? What is the need of meetings, mass agitation, elections, when it is so easy to take aim at the Ministerial bench from the Parliamentary gallery? Individual terrorism in our eyes is inadmissible precisely for the reason that it lowers the masses in their own consciousness, reconciles them to impotence, and directs their glances and hopes toward the great avenger and emancipator who will some day come and accomplish his mission.

On the 28th of December, 1934, four weeks after the Kirov assassination, Trotsky wrote in the Bulletin of the Opposition:

... If Marxists have categorically condemned individual terrorism ... even when the shots were directed against the agents of the Tsarist government and of capitalist exploitation, then all the more relentlessly will they condemn and reject the criminal adventurism of terrorist acts directed against the bureaucratic representatives of the first workers’ state in history. The subjective motivations of Nikolayev and his associates are a matter of indifference to us. So long as the Soviet bureaucracy has not been removed by the proletariat, a task which will eventually be accomplished, it fulfills a necessary function in the defense of the workers’ state. Should terrorism of the Nikolayev type spread, it could, given other unfavorable circumstances, render service only the fascist counter-revolution.

Only political fakers who bank on imbeciles would endeavor to lay Nikolayev at the door of the Left Opposition, even if only in the guise of the Zinoviev group as it existed in 1926-1927. The terrorist organization of the Communist youth is fostered not by the Left Opposition but by the bureaucracy, by its internal decomposition. Individual terrorism, in very essence, bureaucratism turned inside out. For Marxists this law was not discovered yesterday. Bureaucratism has no confidence in the masses and endeavors to substitute itself for the masses.

It was published in January 1935 in No.41 of the Bulletin of the Opposition.

Now, Mr. Trotsky, can you give us your opinion about the Nikolayev assassination of Kirov, the causes, the background of that?

TROTSKY: The general causes are present, more or less, in the last quotations. It is the dissatisfaction of a certain part, if I can say it, the most critical part of the youth – there is a certain historical and political impasse for the youth. Every youth can develop only in the atmosphere of a certain liberty of criticism. The youth must oppose the older generation and break the way for themselves. It is almost a physiological law. When all possibilities are hermetically closed, explosions are inevitable. But the reasons, the individual reasons, for the individual Nikolayev have remained absolutely enigmatic up to the present time. You cannot find in the Soviet press under what conditions Nikolayev assassinated Kirov. Had he access to Kirov every day as a secretary? I don’t know. Nobody tells about the concrete circumstances. Who was Nikolayev? He remains unknown. In the Soviet press, after the assassination of Kirov, you cannot find any description of this event, of this very important event in the life of society.

My first hypothesis was that it was individual revenge. Maybe certain conflicts about a woman, concerning a woman question, and so on – a situation which could compromise Kirov if it would be published. It was for me the only one explanation for this secrecy.

GOLDMAN: Have you ever written any articles as an appeal to the youth of the Soviet Union to avoid terror?

TROTSKY: Naturally – before the Kirov assassination, in that sense: That certain terroristic tendencies appeared in the youth. We mentioned it as a symptom – that it was not a method of fighting, but as a symptom – to prevent decomposition.

GOLDMAN: You said before, correspondence, you had certain correspondence. What do you mean?

TROTSKY: Letters from Russia?

GOLDMAN: That is what I mean.


GOLDMAN: You received letters from Russia?

TROTSKY: They were published in the Bulletin. It was about liberal bureaucrats, a certain stratum of liberal bureaucrats, who in the family circles criticize the bureaucrats, and refer to Stalin as “him.” Then they go about doing their ordinary duties. But the son and daughter develop terrorist tendencies. They hear their father say: “It is a falsehood, it is a frame-up against the family.” The son and daughter hear it and say: “We must kill them!” Because they have no other means, no public means of expression. This is the reason for terrorism. It is possible, also, that it was a political act by Nikolayev. I don’t know.

GOLDMAN: Did you write a second article, an open letter, warning against these tendencies?

TROTSKY: Yes; it was in my articles concerning the Kirov assassination, or before it, I believe. It is a thing which understands from itself – it is self-explanatory. Our whole tradition of Marxism is directed against it. On every occasion we repeated it. That was an axiom with us.

GOLDMAN: I want to call the Commissioners’ attention to a pamphlet written by Trotsky, called The Kirov Assassination, published in 1935 by the Pioneer publishers. It can be readily obtained in New York. In this pamphlet, Trotsky deals with the general question of terrorism.

LAFOLLETTE: I would like to ask one question. You spoke of letters from Russia in the Bulletin. What were the dates of these letters from Russia?

TROTSKY: I am not very sure. I believe it was from 1931-1933. In that period we had some information about the terroristic tendencies among the youth. We published it in the Bulletin. I will find it for the Commission and I will present it for translation.

FINERTY: On that occasion, Mr. Trotsky, how do you explain the ability to correspond, to communicate with the Bulletin, not having direct communication yourself, with Russia?

TROTSKY: I say, we did not have a systematic – after 1931, a systematic communication with our friends in Russia. But from time to time we had correspondence in the persons of liberal bureaucrats coming from Russia to Berlin and Paris, who had conversations with our friends; and some even sent letters. They communicated on very interesting things. Then, we used every foreigner sympathizing with us who went as tourist or guest to the Soviet anniversaries. We followed them up and asked them that they report to us when they got back.

FINERTY: Did you also give them written communications for that purpose?

TROTSKY: No; it was too dangerous for them and for our friends. I never proposed it, because it was unnecessary. What could I say to them? I could not say anything to them that I could not say in my writings. You know, I cannot invite an intermediary or a foreigner and say: “Please kill Stalin; please kill Voroshilov”. It is not my system of action. I can only say: “Please communicate to me what is the mood of the workers, if you meet them in the factory. Or, if you are in there, tell me if the American technique is really used by the Russians.” Because that is a greater historical perspective than the present duel with Stalin. But that is not the way the narrow bureaucracy looks at it.

FINERTY: Did you at any time subsequent to 1931 succeed in sending written communications into Russia?

TROTSKY: Yes; I explained, we sent systematically, postal cards, with my personal point of view, my appreciations. Postal cards are not so severely controlled as letters. And we succeeded from time to time in 1930-1931 or 1929-1930. Very often we reached our friends by these cards. We received answers because it was the time when thousands and thousands of Oppositionists were simultaneously thrown into prisons and deportations. The GPU was not, or did not control so strictly.

FINERTY: I am speaking after that period.

TROTSKY: After that period it became more and more difficult to have communications. They began to accuse everybody who was in communication with me by writing. I can present hundreds of postal cards from Russia. Then they began to accuse them of espionage. The political and psychological factors, the victories of fascism in one country after another – the Oppositionist isolated in Siberia says: “What can I do? I have only the choice between Hitler and Stalin. The ideas of Trotsky might be good. But he is isolated and in exile. If I continue to correspond with him, I can only be shot and my family will suffer. That is all.”

It is the psychology of reaction. I passed through such periods two times between the revolutions of 1905 and 1917. We had two or three years of a hermetically – rather, a hermetical isolation from Russia. My revolutionary fathers of the ’eighties were in the same position. Plekhanov and Zasulich and the other Russian Marxists were in the same position in the 1880’s. It is the same repetition, three times.

BEALS: During the Tsarist period you did have underground communications, I presume?


BEALS: How was that carried on?

TROTSKY: It was after the revolution. Before the revolution we were very rich in our methods of communication because all the opinion, with the exception of the bureaucracy and the summits, were against the Tsar and the rich landlords. The liberals who came abroad visited Plekhanov and Lenin, but Lenin less than Plekhanov. We received money from them. We used to pack their valises with literature, and so on. Even bureaucrats, liberal bureaucrats, were radicals and Socialists abroad. After the revolution of 1905, after the defeat, the bourgeoisie became conservative, and our communications with Russia relied only upon a number of radical intelligentsia, the highest stratum of the working class. The blows of the Tsarist reaction of 1906-1907 succeeded in isolating us. It was the first time that we were isolated – in 1908-1909, and even 1910 – almost totally isolated. It was the exception to see anybody from Russia to speak to, and to have correspondence. I was at that time the editor of a Russian paper in Vienna – an illegal paper – and I had the greatest difficulty. But in 1910-1911 a new wave arose. You saw new correspondence and new publications. The intelligentsia became more radical, and the workers more active. You know, there is a law, not created by any one of us, a historical law, in the ebb and flow in the development of the revolution. Now, I am waiting for a new flow.

BEALS: You are a member of the Fourth International, are you not?


BEALS: Does the Fourth International have any organization at all in the Soviet Union?

TROTSKY: In the formal sense of a working organization? I believe I can say that we have a section, but not in the formal sense of an organization. But as sympathizers, I believe we have many. It is very difficult to answer that, Mr. Commissioner.

BEALS: You don’t have – you don’t know how communication is maintained with the Fourth International to friends in the Soviet Union?

TROTSKY: Unfortunately, all the communications were through Ciliga and Victor Serge, who came out in the last few years. In the last two years, no communications at all. Tarov was a correspondent; he was a worker who escaped through Persia. I told you about him yesterday.

GOLDMAN: Now, I want to get this point cleared up for the record: After 1931, did you receive letters from your friends or send letters to your friends in Russia, and did they receive them, as far as you know?

TROTSKY: After 1931?

GOLDMAN: After 1931.

TROTSKY: Yes; we tried to do it after 1931. We sent postal cards, but they did not receive them.

GOLDMAN: Now, did you receive any letters after 1931?

TROTSKY: It is possible. I must look again. It is possible I received some communications. I believe that we received two or three, but they were personal communications: “I am transported from one place in Siberia to another.”

FINERTY: Will such communications be in your archives?

TROTSKY: I believe so.

FINERTY: If you have them – you will find it?

TROTSKY: It was a postal card. Before 1931, manuscripts and books in the form of letters came. In your absence, Mr. Attorney, we showed them around.

FINERTY: They are in evidence?

BEALS: In the period right after 1905, did you ever, in your communications, use codes and secret ink?

TROTSKY: Yes, naturally.

BEALS: Why do you not do that in this more recent period?

TROTSKY: Pardon?

BEALS: Since you knew how to do this, why have you not done this in the recent period?

TROTSKY: In order to write such a letter, it is necessary to have two persons, one who writes and one who receives, who is ready to receive it and carry all the risk. The reaction exists even in the fact that our friends in Russia, who are so many, will not do it. You can see the same now in Germany and Italy. Ask, please, the Communist Party and other radical parties, if they are in communication with these countries. Why? Because the defeat was so terrible, after the great possibilities of the Italian and German proletariat, the greatest historical possibilities, and the defeats so terrible, that the workers say: “Now, I will wait and see. It is unnecessary to communicate with them abroad. They are bankrupt.” I believe the workers can say the same about me: “Trotsky was one of the organizers of the October Revolution. Now he is in exile. Possibly he is more honest than the others. I believe the latter have degenerated. But what is the necessity for me to correspond with him?” That is the opinion of the worker in a reactionary period. That is the mood.

DEWEY: May I ask one question? Mr. Trotsky, did I understand that the correspondence you did have was purely on matters and conditions – deals with personal matters, to the exclusion of all conspiratorial material?

TROTSKY: All correspondence we had until 1931 was collected and sent to them with Bulletins. We tried to publish the same Bulletin in photographic form, and in very small copies, to send to them. But it was also difficult. We tried then to copy some articles, the most important articles, from the Bulletin, or extract excerpts from the articles and send them to different comrades in Siberia and Russia itself. We succeeded. I never said to my friends anything I did not say in the Bulletin. I have no panacea for them. All I can say to my followers is: “You must understand your mission to organize the new cadres of the new generation and continue our work when a new situation comes, when the reaction is finished, when a new wave comes.” What I say before the Commission, I can say before the whole world. Excuse me; I have no other ideas, Mr. Commissioner.

DEWEY: Then you deny that you did have conspiratorial communications?

TROTSKY: What is now conspiratorial, Dr. Dewey? These very simple lines written on postal cards are also conspiratorial communications in the sense that the censorship does not approve them and confiscates them – it is also conspiratorial work. If I can have the possibility to send anybody the Bulletin, to introduce it into the valises – one or two copies of the Bulletin – I will do it. It is conspiratorial work, but it is subordinate to my ideas. It is the technical method of presenting my ideas to Russian public opinion.

FINERTY: What Dr. Dewey means, Mr. Trotsky, is, did you have any correspondence with any friends, any organization of your sympathizers in Russia, giving directions as to the method of bringing about a reaction against the Stalin government?

TROTSKY: Yes, in every postal card, in every message I gave to any foreigner who went to Russia, I said: “Now, the greatest danger is this hasty collectivization. It is absolutely necessary not to fear to say openly that it is a danger. With the hasty industrialization, we are against it. They will say: ‘You are now a reactionary.’ Do not fear it. Say it openly.” That is my instruction. The other instruction:

“The youth are in an impasse. Terroristic methods can only mean the extermination of the best elements in the youth. You must say to the young people: ‘Create groups of self-education; study the history of the Party; and prepare yourselves for the future.’”

FINERTY: I think we are really going into a question we will have to go into later.

GOLDMAN: You didn’t, in your letters or post cards, advise anybody to kill Stalin or Kirov and to destroy any factories?


GOLDMAN: You merely dealt with political problems?

TROTSKY: The same as in my books and articles.

DEWEY: We will adjourn until four o’clock this afternoon.

End of Seventh Session – one o’clock p.m.

Transcriber’s Note

1. In the printed edition used for this transcription this is given as “Oiiangen”. This does not fit with Norwegian orthography. However, there is a lake near Ringkollen, where Trotsky was at this time, called “Řyangen”. We have therefore corrected this error.

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Last updated on: 22.4.2007