Leon Trotsky

Eighth Session

April 14, 1937, at four o’clock p.m.

GOLDMAN: Mr. Chairman, this morning the question came up – a question how Mr. Trotsky – or whether he knew that there were terroristic tendencies amongst the youth in the Soviet Union. I want to read two excerpts that were found this noon which will indicate that Mr. Trotsky did know of these terroristic tendencies, and how he replied to them and how he forewarned the youth against them. In the Bulletin of the Opposition, No.33, March 1935, Mr. Trotsky wrote – this, for example, is an indication.

TROTSKY: It is correspondence from Moscow, not my article.

GOLDMAN: A letter that was received from Moscow. Is it in the form of a letter?

TROTSKY: I don’t remember – if it was an oral communication from a man coming from the Soviet Union we changed it into the form of correspondence in order to conceal the evidence that we were in communication with a foreigner who – but if it was really correspondence, I am not sure.

GOLDMAN: At any rate, this is from a communication.

TROTSKY: A direct communication from a certain ―

GOLDMAN: Received from Moscow. I quote:

Thus, for example, in connection with the arrest of the group of the Militant Syndicalist Nemchenko. We communicate the following: First a group of Komsomols were arrested, among whom was the son of Nemchenko, accused of preparing terrorist acts (!),and they were asked in an urgent manner how they, the youth, arrived at such thoughts. The son of Nemchenko might have replied: “At our house it was repeated incessantly that the leader was causing the loss of the country.”

TROTSKY: Excuse me, it is not Syndicalist, it should be trade unionist. “Syndicalist” is French.

GOLDMAN: “Syndicalist” in English means something altogether different from “trade unionist.” Then in the article published in the Militant on March 25th, 1933, by Trotsky, this is continued:

As far back as 1926 Stalin was told that he was clearly grooming himself as a candidate for the post of undertaker to the Party and the Revolution. For the past six years, Stalin has come very close to the fulfillment of this rôle. Throughout the Party, and outside of it, there is spreading ever wider the Slogan, “Down with Stalin!” The causes for the origin and the growing popularity of this “proverb” require no explanations. But, nevertheless, we consider this slogan incorrect. The question touches not Stalin personally, but his faction. It is true that for the last two years it has become extremely constricted in its scope. But it still includes many thousands of apparatus functionaries. Other thousands and tens of thousands, whose eyes have been opened as regards Stalin, continue to support him, nevertheless, from fear of the unknown. The slogan “Down with Stalin!” may be understood, and could inevitably be understood, as the slogan for the overthrow of the faction now in power, and even more – the overthrow of the apparatus. But we do not want to overthrow the system, but to reform it by the efforts of the best proletarian elements.

It is self-evident that an end must and will be put to the Bonapartist régime of a single leader and of the pack compelled to revere him, because that is the most shameful perversion of the idea of the revolutionary Party. But the matter touches not the expulsion of individuals, but the changing of a System.

It is precisely the Stalinist clique that indefatigably circulates rumors to the effect that the Left Opposition will return to the Party not otherwise than with a sword in its hand, and that it will immediately begin merciless reprisals against its factional opponents. This poisonous lie must be refuted, repudiated, and exposed. There is no feeling for revenge in politics. Bolshevisk-Leninists – By that is meant the Left Oppositionist faction – never were motivated by it in the past, and least of all do they intend to be motivated by it in the future ... We are ready to work hand in hand with every one who seeks to prevent catastrophe through the restoration of the Party.

Now, Mr. Trotsky –

TROTSKY: Permit me a statement.

GOLDMAN: You want to make a statement on the question of conspiracy?

TROTSKY: The Chairman asked me about my conspiratorial work. In view of the great importance of this question, I will supplement my oral answers by this brief statement:

Under a more or less normal Party and state régime, such as prevailed during the first period after the October Revolution (1917-1922), the tendency I represent would be able to find normal and legal channels of expression within the framework of Party and Soviet Democracy. Only the fact that democracy has been abolished by the bureaucracy imposes upon every criticism and form of opposition an illegal character. In this sense, everybody who does not believe in the infallibility of the leadership, and who expresses, even behind closed doors, his non-conformist ideas. is inevitably accused of doing “conspiratorial work.” The Stalin régime transforms the most elementary functions of human thought into “conspiratorial work.”

It is true that I and my friends use conspiratorial methods to introduce our views within the borders of the USSR, as well as within the borders of Germany and Italy, because the political régimes of those countries prevent any other method of introducing those views. But the views themselves are no different from those we express elsewhere publicly and without any conspiratorial methods. The object of the frame-up system is to inject into the conspiratorial form a terrorist content which is utterly alien to it.

With respect to Germany. I desire to clarify a statement made by me this morning. I did not want to give the impression that the Communist or Socialist Parties are utterly without contacts in Germany. I desired only to state that, like ourselves, the number of their contacts has catastrophically declined since the consolidation of the Hitler police régime.

GOLDMAN: Now, Mr. Trotsky ―

BEALS: May I ask a question? Mr. Trotsky did make this comparison between the Soviet Union and Germany at this time as an indication of certain ties, conspiratorial work, underground work, illegal work or whatever you wish to call it, as virtually impossible of maintaining contacts abroad. Yet, even in the worst part of the Nazi terror there were a great many contacts and communications going back and forth between the various revolutionary groups of Germany. Why is it so utterly impossible in the case of the Soviet Union?

TROTSKY: If you compare Germany with Italy, you will see that the communications in Italy are less than in Germany, as a comparison. In Germany the reaction is on the bottom. The new régime is too new, and the great wave of the masses which preceded the victory of Hitler continues, and it gives the possibility to revolutionary parties to have some contact and do some work. I had great polemics with the Comintern concerning this question. After the victory of Hitler, Stalin and all the others affirmed that it was only an episode, that “tomorrow we will have power in Germany.” I declared: “This is the greatest stupidity you can say; it is the greatest defeat in the history of the German proletariat.” If you compare the situation in 1933 and 1934 to the situation of today, you will see that the Communist Party and the Socialist Party have now less connection than two years ago. And it is possible they will have less in the next years than today. When a new wave begins, and I hope to see it – but today we have in Germany a declining line. In the Soviet Union the reaction began in 1923. From 1923 we have open reaction, organized for thirteen years. The fact that Zinoviev, Kamenev, Rakovsky and myself – the people who were more or less the guiding line in the Party – were expelled from the Party, deported, and so on, produced in the masses the profoundest impression. It was the beginning of the reaction in the masses – not only in the bureaucracy. In the bureaucracy it is an active reaction to insure its privileges. In the masses it is a passive reaction, a spirit of: Nothing to do. It is the mood of the masses. This wave of reaction lasts now thirteen years, and that is the reason why it is profound – the reaction – why we have no regular communication with Russia. In Italy, it is more or less similar.

GOLDMAN: Now, Mr. Trotsky, you proved that you are against individual terrorism, and your followers are against individual terror. You have also stated, and proof is perhaps not necessary, that there is no democracy in the Soviet Union. Do you expect that there will be a change, that the Stalin régime will at one time or another be removed?

TROTSKY: I am sure that it can be removed under the threat of workers’ democracy or under the threat of a fascist reaction.

GOLDMAN: If it should be removed in the form of workers’ democracy, what will be the method that will be used in order to remove the Stalin apparatus?

TROTSKY: The force of workers to establish workers’ democracy. Only the workers are capable of doing that. It is the force of the mass. It cannot be replaced by individual threats or chemical preparations.

GOLDMAN: When you say the force of the workers, will you explain that a little more fully? What do you mean by that? You don’t mean individual workers are going to shoot Stalin and other leaders and followers?

TROTSKY: I defend myself against this idea. I believed that in time it would be possible to change the régime by reform, by peaceful means, and our slogan was: “Reform, not revolution, in the Soviet Union.” That was until the second half of 1933. After the victory of Hitler and the recent change of policy by Stalin and the Comintern, and after we became convinced that the CI [Communist International – Ed.] is absolutely incapable of drawing the necessary conclusions from the greatest defeat – that is, the defeat of the German proletariat and the victory of Hitler – we said: “The Comintern is no more a revolutionary organization, and the leading party of the Comintern, the old Bolshevik Party, is no longer considered as a revolutionary party.” The Party was, in our mind, the lever, the instrument, for the peaceful reform of the Soviet state. There must now be a revolutionary lever, a new instrument. It was the slogan of the Fourth International to build a new revolutionary party in the Soviet Union. Stalin declared in August, 1927, in a session of the Central Committee – I quoted that when we discussed Radek, the Radek question – he declared, in opposition to me, that “these cadres can be removed only by civil war.” The cadres are the bureaucracy. Radek answered – this he wrote in September, 1927 – “This is virtual Bonapartism.” We answered, “Stalin is of the opinion that it is impossible to remove him by the strength of the Party.” We were of another opinion. We were sure that it was possible for the vanguard of the proletariat by an active movement to change totally the staff of the Party and state, and we were ready in the Party to guide this movement of the vanguard to change the Party, the Party structure and the state structure.

GOLDMAN: Peacefully?

TROTSKY: Peacefully. At that time it was a policy of reform. It lasted until the second half of 1933. But shortly after the victory of Hitler we declared: “In this respect, Stalin was right. The cadres, the bureaucracy, can be removed only by a new political revolution.”

GOLDMAN: Why do you say a political revolution?

TROTSKY: Because in the past we knew social revolutions which were also political. We can take as an example the great French Revolution, which was social and political. It changed the feudal forms of property into the bourgeois forms of property. After the great French Revolution, the French people had the revolutions of 1830, 1848, and 1870. They were political revolutions. A bourgeois state, on the basis of its own form of property, created by the great French Revolution, the great social revolution, changed its political state. We see now in Russia to a certain degree how the proletariat can repeat these experiences. By the great October Revolution, the proletariat created new forms of property. These forms remain today in spite of the bureaucracy and its privileges. But the bureaucracy itself menaces the new form of property, menaces the political and moral life of the proletariat. It makes inevitable a conflict between the proletariat and the bureaucracy. The overthrow of the bureaucracy is only a political revolution, because the proletariat will not be obliged to change the form of property. It will adjust that to the genuine interests of the masses and not the bureaucracy.

GOLDMAN: Did you deal with this question in your latest book, The Revolution Betrayed?

TROTSKY: Yes. If you permit me, we had a conference of the Fourth International – it was in July 1936. It was a conference without my participation. It was not in Norway. Merely theoretically, I participated in the preparation of that conference. It adopted a motion entitled: The Fourth International and the Soviet Union. The fifteenth paragraph says:

15. The working class of the USSR has been robbed of the last possibility of a legal reformation of the state. The struggle against the bureaucracy necessarily becomes a revolutionary struggle. True to the traditions of Marxism, the Fourth International decisively rejects individual terror, as it does all other means of political adventurism. The bureaucracy can be smashed only by means of the goal-conscious movement of the masses against the usurpers, parasites and oppressors.

I will only emphasize what we have to say when we say we are for a revolution in the Soviet Union. We are not afraid to say it. If we were to be for terror, if we were to be of the opinion that by individual terror we could help the working class in its movement forward, I would proclaim it and appeal to the best elements of the working class to resort to individual terror. Say what is, what is necessary; that is the first rule of my thoughts and my actions. If I say I am against terror, it is not because I am afraid of Stalin’s police or any other police; it is only because I am a Marxist, for mass action and not individual terror.

BEALS: Mr. Trotsky, how many workers of the Soviet Union support your doctrines?

TROTSKY: If I could establish the statistics in this question, you know I must have meetings with them, and votes. I must have, to answer your question, Soviet democracy.

BEALS: How are you going to reach them if the means of communication do not exist?

TROTSKY: Pardon?

BEALS: How are you going to reach them to establish your ideas?

TROTSKY: I never said communications did not exist. I said we have no regular, organized communication, It is absolutely different. You know, from the Soviet Union came every year hundreds and some years thousands of engineers and students and workers, to America and France, to Germany before Hitler, to study industry and to study technique. All these people read the Bulletin. We searched for them, and we gave them the Bulletin through our German friends, our American friends and French friends. They go back, and as the German poet, Heinrich Heine, said to the functionary on the border: “You look at my valise, but the contraband is in my head.” There are hundreds and thousands going back with contraband in their heads.

BEALS: How many copies of the Bulletin do you ordinarily print?

TROTSKY: From two to three thousand, but it is only the beginning. We will print in the future more.

DEWEY: Was this change of attitude on your part first announced in the Bulletin of the Opposition of October 1933, which was referred to on page 507?

TROTSKY: My “violence” – the quotation of Vyshinsky.

DEWEY: Was that the time you first announced your change of attitude?

TROTSKY: I believe it was in the second half of 1933. We can find immediately the exact date. In August 1933.

DEWEY: It is not very important. It says here October.

BEALS: I think it makes a direct reference to terrorism.

DEWEY: I didn’t get the characterization against the document,

FINERTY: I think it would be well if the document were produced now.

TROTSKY: Wait. It is the first of October 1933, that quotation.

FINERTY: Mr. Goldman gave a direct reference to it as No.36-37, October, 1933.

TROTSKY: Even the prosecutor of the Tsar never committed such miserable falsifications.

GOLDMAN: In the Bulletin. I think Vyshinsky quoted from the Opposition Bulletin, No.36-37, October 1933. Is that right?

FINERTY: That’s right.

GOLDMAN: The subject of the article from which Vyshinsky quoted is, if I am correct, The Class Nature of the Soviet State.

DEWEY: Mr. Finerty, I take it that the whole matter will be gone into definitely at this time. I just wanted to identify the article on the change from evolution to revolution.

GOLDMAN: The article is in Russian. There is, I believe, an English translation printed in the Militant. The exact date I don’t know, but we shall furnish it to the Commission either today or tomorrow. Let the record show that we referred to it now, and we shall introduce it later. Is that where Vyshinsky says: “I will not continue to quote because of the terrible things in it?”

TROTSKY: May I introduce another “conspiratorial” document? I forgot totally this thing. I received this letter, written by me in Copenhagen in November 1932 and given by me to the English friend, Wicks, who visited me in Copenhagen. Now, before the Commission came here, all my friends began to look for any documents of mine and sent them to me. Every day we receive here documents from all countries of Europe. Wicks said to me: “I have connections with Russians in London and they have connections in the Soviet Union, but they do not have the necessary confidence in me.” – That is, Wicks – “I know they sympathize with the Opposition. Can you give me a letter to them?” The letter is written in pencil. I am not sure whether you can by chemical means establish the date of the letter, but it was written in November 1932 in Copenhagen. The letter is not so important, but it characterizes what we tried to do by conspiratorial methods. I wrote to unknown sympathizers of the Left Opposition the following:

Dear Comrade: I am not sure whether you know my handwriting. If not, you will probably find someone else who does. I am profiting by this fortunate occasion to write a few words to you. The comrades who sympathize with the Left Opposition are obliged to come out of their passive state at this time, maintaining, of course, all precautions. To communicate with me directly is not always easy. But it is possible to find an absolutely sure way, of course, not direct; for example, through my son in Berlin. You can find him through Pfemfert (I am inclosing his address), through Grylewicz ―

Pfemfert is the German editor. I gave you the letters of Pfemfert and his wife. Grylewicz is the editor, or was the editor of the Russian Bulletin – through personal acquaintances. etc. Keeping all precautionary measures, it is necessary to establish communications for: Information, to distribute the Bulletin, aid with money, etc, etc. I am definitely expecting that the menacing situation in which the Party finds itself will force all the comrades devoted to the revolution to gather actively about the Left Opposition.

I will wait for a written (typewritten) affirmation that this letter has been received. It can be written to:

M. Pierre Frank, Poste Restante, Pera, Istambul.

I clasp your hand firmly. Yours, L. TROTSKY.

This is one of my conspiratorial letters.

GOLDMAN: This letter you wrote in Copenhagen?

TROTSKY: Copenhagen.


TROTSKY: November 1932, during my sojourn in Copenhagen. I gave this to the British citizen, Wicks.

GOLDMAN: For him to give to some Russians?

TROTSKY: Russian sympathizers of the Opposition.

STOLBERG: Where? In the Soviet Union?

GOLDMAN: In England.

TROTSKY: I had the possibility of getting it to Russia through London. He is connected with the sympathizers in Moscow. All the official Russians who are for a certain time in London and in Moscow, they have the possibility ―

GOLDMAN: I introduce the original into evidence and mark it Exhibit No.22.

(The letter of November 1932, given to Wicks was introduced into evidence as Exhibit No.22.)

FINERTY: You ought to show that the letter was delivered to the person in London or the Russian sympathizer.

GOLDMAN: Do you know, Mr. Trotsky – by the way, when did you get this letter back?

TROTSKY: I believe it was three or four days ago.


GOLDMAN: Did you get a letter with this letter explaining the return?

TROTSKY: “Maybe you need it for the Commission inquiry.” The letter remained in his hands. If he did anything, if he showed it to the Russians, I don’t know. But I can ask him. He is in London, and I can write him or I can cable him.

FINERTY: We can subsequently determine that.

GOLDMAN: At any rate, this letter can be introduced even if we assume it wasn’t turned over to any Russian sympathizers. It can be introduced to indicate the nature of the conspiratorial work that Mr. Trotsky engaged in.

FINERTY: I would just warn Mr. Goldman – you had better use the word “alleged” for your own purpose, because this record will want to show these things.

GOLDMAN: Yes, the alleged conspiratorial work.

TROTSKY: It is for the purpose of showing to one Russian, then he copied it for a second occasion. It was in his hands. It was as a legitimation.

INTERPRETER: You mean “credential”.

TROTSKY: Yes, credential.

GOLDMAN: That is in your handwriting, Mr. Trotsky? That letter is in your handwriting?


STOLBERG: When you say there is needed a political revolution in Russia, not a social revolution, does that imply that in your belief there are no class differences in Russia? When you say that from your point of view ii is necessary in the Soviet Union to have a political revolution, does that imply you believe that because there is no class struggle going on in Russia?

TROTSKY: I would say that the class struggle is of an embryonic nature. At this stage, the new ruling caste has not changed the forms of property. The forms of property were created by the proletariat, and the new ruling caste tries to use them in its own behalf and not in the interest of the proletariat. In this present situation, it is possible to eliminate the ruling caste by a political revolution, not a social revolution. But it is not for eternity. If the political revolution comes too late, the ruling caste will change the social forms of society.

FINERTY: Mr. Trotsky. when you say “eliminate,” do you mean “exterminate”?


FINERTY: In other words, when you say “eliminate,” you mean to eliminate politically?

TROTSKY: Yes, to deprive them of the apparatus of the dictatorship and replace them by democracy.

FINERTY: When you said “Remove Stalin,” you used it in the same political sense?

TROTSKY: Not only that; I am astonished to what degree I was cautious in my article. I wrote a second time to the Central Committee: “You must remove Stalin.” But as a slogan, “Down with Stalin!” I repudiated it in my article. Because in the Central Committee everybody understands that it is in a legal way I proposed to remove him; to change the secretary. When it becomes a slogan of the masses, it cannot mean assassination. I repudiate it.

FINERTY: When you use the word “revolution,” you do imply violence, but organized violence?

TROTSKY: It depends entirely on the bureaucracy. If the bureaucrats are inclined to concede to the politically organized expression of the masses, everything will be very satisfactory. If they will oppose the masses, the masses will use violence. It is legitimate.

FINERTY: What you really mean is, that if the bureaucracy uses violence to resist their removal, the masses will use violence to remove them?

TROTSKY: Absolutely correct.

GOLDMAN: I don’t know whether you answered the question of Commissioner Beals, put to you before. Mr. Beals asked you how you hoped or expected the masses of the Soviet Union to be won over to your ideas.


GOLDMAN: Now, isn’t it a fact that if the reaction should remain for a long period of time, no matter how many letters you will send, no matter how many people you will talk to, the masses will not be won over? Explain the relationship between the change in the reaction and the effect your ideas will have upon the masses.

TROTSKY: My opinion is that now the key to the situation in the Soviet Union is not in the Soviet Union, but in Europe. If the people in Spain are victorious against the fascists, if the working class in France will assure its movement to Socialism, then the situation in the Soviet Union will change immediately, because the workers are very dissatisfied with the dictatorship of the bureaucracy. They, as I say, are in an impasse. They say, “Given choice Only between Hitler and Stalin, we prefer Stalin.” They are right, Stalin is preferable to Hitler. And at the moment when they see a new perspective in Europe, a revolutionary movement toward the victory of Socialism, they will ―

GOLDMAN: Raise their heads?

TROTSKY: Raise their heads. Then, I believe the only program which they can accept is our program, because it is based upon their own experience, their own past, and, I am sure, their own future. That is why I do not despair of the fact that in the last two or three years we have lost almost all our direct communications, our connections with the Soviet Union. I understand that it is a period of the most terrific reaction and the first step, the beginning of a new wave, will begin our opportunity, and then we will see.

I have patience. Three revolutions have made me patient. It is absolutely necessary for a revolutionist to be patient. It is a false idea that a revolutionary must be impatient. Adventurists are impatient, but a revolutionary is patient. [Trotsky here pronounced the word “patient” as “passion,” and “patience” as “passions” – A.M.G.]

INTERPRETER: You mean “patience.”

TROTSKY: Yes; a revolutionary must know English and with the help of patience I will learn English. (Laughter)

It is on this false idea of a revolutionary that all the frame-ups are based: “Trotsky wants power. He is impatient. He will kill everybody to take power.” This is absolutely stupid. I am not hungering for power personally. I am more satisfied with my literary work. Power is a burden, but it is necessary and an inevitable evil. When your ideas are victorious, you must accept it. But the mechanics of power is a miserable thing. If you permit me this personal observation: During the time I was in office, the best time was the vacations when I wrote my books. I consider this time a longer vacation. I write my books. It is giving me full satisfaction.

I am patient and await a new wave, a revolutionary wave, and then, if I can serve the interests of the proletariat, I will do anything I can.

FINERTY: I take it that you do not think, from what you say, that it will help the cause for the proletariat to overthrow Stalin by using Hitler as a means.

TROTSKY: This accusation is so absurd! Every time I repeat it, it makes – I am so perplexed that I cannot find arguments against this absurdity – thinking I can use Hitler against Stalin. For what purpose? What can I win by this? Vyshinsky did not explain to me what I can win by this procedure. I must sacrifice all my past, all my friends and all my future, and what can I win? I cannot understand it.

FINERTY: As you see the situation now, Hitler must first be overthrown before Stalin will be overthrown?

TROTSKY: I hope it will be so. All the articles I wrote about this – and I repeat it in dozens of interviews and articles – if a war comes, the first revolution will be in Japan, because Japan is like the old Tsarist Russia, with a most brutally organized authority; and the contradictions of the social body of Japan will burst out. The first revolution will occur in Japan. The second, I hope, in Germany, because Germany, hermetically sealed, will during the war inevitably explode, as during the imperialist war with the Hohenzollerns, because now all of the contradictions, the social contradictions and the economic, remain in more sharp form in Germany. I repeated this simple idea dozens and dozens of times and then, unexpectedly, I tied my fate with the two doomed régimes. (Laughter) Two doomed régimes, Japan in the East and Germany in Europe.

GOLDMAN: The article that I referred to before, and from which Vyshinsky quoted, from the Russian Opposition Bulletin, was translated in the Militant on January 6th, a pamphlet was made out of that article, and if they are available, they will be given to the Commission. I am fairly certain that they are available in New York. The pamphlet was headed, The Soviet Union and the Fourth International, with a sub-title The Class Nature of the Soviet State, by Leon Trotsky.

DEWEY: Mr. Goldman, I would like to ask Mr. Trotsky the date of the formation of the Fourth International.

TROTSKY: If you permit, Mr. Chairman, I will present a statement with all the necessary dates. There are different stages – we proclaimed the necessity of the Fourth International only – we will present you with all the dates.

GOLDMAN: Now, that finishes that section of the evidence which deals with individual terror.

TROTSKY: Permit me to say a word about the list of victims. I will now establish only simple facts necessary for my conclusions later.

I will prove to the Commission that the list of the alleged victims of the future terrorist attempts is established by Stalin, by the Politburo of Stalin, and not by the alleged terrorists. I will prove by the fact that in the trial of Zinoviev and Kamenev you will find a list, a full list, of the future victims of the future terrorist attempts, including Stalin, Voroshilov, Zhdanov, Kaganovich, Kossior, Ordjonikidie and Postyshev. My instructions, my alleged terrorist instructions, were to kill Stalin and Voroshilov – and I believe that there was a third, Kaganovich, but no matter – Kaganovich was held for the future. (Laughter) You will find more than that, you will find a dialogue between Vyshinsky and Zinoviev in the trial of Zinoviev in August 1936. Vyshinsky asks Zinoviev, as regards the prepared terrorist acts, “Against whom?”

Zinoviev: Against the leaders.
Vyshinsky: That is against Comrade Stalin, Voroshilov and Kaganovich?
Zinoviev: Yes.

“Yes” – that is the general answer. (Laughter)

Zinoviev says against the leaders; and Vyshinsky answers very well which are the leaders. That is, Stalin, Voroshilov and Kaganovich. He omits Molotov. Molotov is the second personality in the Soviet Union. He is a member of the Politburo, an old Bolshevik, and President of the Council of People’s Commissars. He is omitted. There are five or six depositions of the defendants who were supposedly under my instruction. And in the sentence of Vyshinsky, as well as everybody else, Molotov is omitted.

In the second trial you will find Molotov in the second place, not only for the future, but also for the past. I will explain it, will expose it. The explanation of this exists only in the relationship between Stalin and Molotov, a relationship which is revealed in the Soviet press and the Russian Bulletin. There was a conflict between Stalin and Molotov. Molotov was in a discreet opposition to Stalin for two years or more. And Stalin did not permit him to be elevated to the height of a victim of Trotsky’s terror. He introduced new leaders, and the names of these leaders are for me nothing. Kirov was not so important. You know the name of Kirov only because he was killed. Before his assassination nobody knew who Kirov was. Postyshev and Kossior are of the same kind, but they sustained Stalin against Molotov. He introduces them as a monarch would introduce a colonel or a marshal. He named them victims of Trotsky, and he excluded Molotov. I will try to show it with exact quotations and dates in my conclusion.

GOLDMAN: This concludes the section on individual terror and the opinion of Mr. Trotsky as to the methods of removing the Stalinist bureaucracy.

DEWEY: What point comes next?

GOLDMAN: The next question is on the attitude of Mr. Trotsky on the defense of the USSR against Japan and Germany.

FINERTY: May I ask Mr. Trotsky one question before we finish this? As I understand you, Mr. Trotsky, your position on individual terror, leaving aside any moral question, is a question of – a programmatic question. It is not an effective method.

TROTSKY: Not an effective method, as we learned through experience. The whole of the Russian revolutionary movement is filled with divisions on this question. Our revolutionary parties were divided into two camps, for individual terror and against individual terror. It is not the procedure, the mode of procedure, the conception – it is a fundamental thing for me what my action is.

FINERTY: You don’t think it is an effective political method?

TROTSKY: Politically, economically, and strategically, it is absolutely contrary to the best interests of the working masses.

FINERTY: Without any question of, or any moral point of view one way or another? Excluding the moral question, it is not effective?

TROTSKY: If you permit me to say my opinion: When the oppression of the masses is so terrible, especially in certain countries, then every method is morally justified if the masses can be liberated. It is only a question, if this method is capable of liberating the masses or not.

FINERTY: Your opposition to individual terror, while it may be morally justified, is that it is not an effective political movement?

TROTSKY: Absolutely so.

GOLDMAN: I want to mention to the Commission that in the book of Trotsky that I mentioned – that is, volume four of the collected works in Russian – there are not only quotations with reference to individual terror. There are dozens of other quotations, and if the Commission will get the book and translate it for itself, they will convince themselves of that fact.

DEWEY: We will now take a short recess.

GOLDMAN: In the next section of the evidence, I shall attempt to disprove the idea that Leon Trotsky was at any time or is now an enemy of the Soviet Union. The evidence will show that at all times – before he was expelled from the Soviet Union and after, and at the present time – he stands for one thing as far as the Soviet Union is concerned, and that is, to defend the Soviet Union against all enemies.

Mr. Trotsky, will you very briefly give us your idea on the nature of the Soviet Union from the point of view of economy and the point of view of the state.

TROTSKY: The Soviet state was created by the proletarian revolution which set up the proletarian dictatorship. The proletarian dictatorship has as its objective to defend the new forms of property, the collective property. And the proletarian dictatorship signifies politically the proletarian democracy. But the factors of the backwardness of the country, the isolated position of the Soviet Union, and the defeats of the proletariat in other countries, changed the situation in this sense, that the state became a bureaucratic one. and this State has now a dubious function.

GOLDMAN: You mean “dual”?

TROTSKY: Yes, a dual function. It defends the new form of property against the capitalist class and the capitalist enemies, and it applies the new form of property in the interest of the bureaucracy. With the Left Opposition, we declared many times we will sustain Stalin and his bureaucracy, and we repeat it now. We will sustain Stalin and his bureaucracy in every effort it makes to defend the new form of property against imperialist attacks. At the same time we try to defend the new forms of property against Stalin and the bureaucracy, against inner attacks against the new form of property. That is our position.

GOLDMAN: Then, the Soviet Union is still a workers’ state; is that your position?

TROTSKY: A deformed workers’ state, a degenerated workers’ state.

GOLDMAN: What is the nature of its economy?

TROTSKY: Its economy is a proletarian economy, a deformed Socialist economy.

GOLDMAN: A transition economy, would you call it, between capitalism and Socialism?

TROTSKY: Yes. From the political point of view it is a necessary condition for the Socialist future. But, materially, the Soviet society today is nearer to the capitalist than the Socialist. The new forms of property permit the development of society towards Socialism without a new social revolution.

GOLDMAN: What distinction do you make between the Stalin bureaucratic régime and the Soviet Union?

TROTSKY: We defend the Soviet Union – I will say, we defend the acquisitions of the October Revolution, in spite of Stalin’s bureaucracy.

GOLDMAN: In other words, in attacking the Stalin bureaucracy, you are not attacking the Soviet Union; you are attacking something that is like a cancer, as you call it, upon the Soviet Union?


GOLDMAN: In your opinion, what effect does the struggle against the ideas and practices of Stalin have in so far as defending the Soviet Union against its internal and external enemies is concerned?

TROTSKY: I don’t get you.

GOLDMAN: There are those who claim that in attacking Stalin you are weakening the Soviet Union against both the external and internal enemies. What have you to say to that?

TROTSKY: Every reaction repeats the same objection against the critics. In this connection, I quote the example of Clemenceau, who plays a great rôle in the indictment.

GOLDMAN: Yes, and the next question is with reference to the Clemenceau thesis.

TROTSKY: Yes; it is connected. I will answer both questions. Beginning with the year 1926, Stalin and Molotov and others affirmed on every occasion that it was impermissible to tolerate any critics because the war danger approached us. Every Bonapartist régime uses the war danger as a means of stifling any critic. It is an old exaggeration. I answered, “Even if the war comes, we must have – for the defense – we must have the possibility of free criticism in the country,” and I gave in one of my speeches the example of, and I quoted Clemenceau. I said even in the bourgeois state in France, where the bourgeoisie during the war was very afraid of the discontent of the masses, it, the bourgeoisie, did not dare to stifle at any time the criticism of Clemenceau. During the third year of the war, he had an uncompromising attitude towards all the Governments, the war Governments. He criticized them verbally, and he convinced the Parliament in 1917. He took power and assured the victory. I quoted this example to show the necessity of a certain elasticity even during a war – not only before the war – even for a bourgeois régime. The more so for a proletarian régime. We have no fear of the masses during war, because our war would only be imposed on us. It is not a provocation, it is a genuine defense of our revolution. My thesis was denounced as the thesis of Clemenceau, the terrible thesis of Clemenceau. If you will see the statement of the Prosecutor, Vyshinsky, he says Trotsky wishes to organize an insurrection as Clemenceau did when the Germans were eighty kilometers from Paris. I never heard that Clemenceau was the organizer of an insurrection in France. I believe the French will be very astonished on reading the French translation of the Verbatim Report. Clemenceau was not a defeatist. The French people name him the father of the victory. That is his popular name.

You see in what a brutal and dishonest way they deform and distort every idea of Opposition critique. It is not only in articles in the Pravda, but in the indictment. Vyshinsky did not quote me:

“Trotsky said this and that.” He has only assumed that Clemenceau was a defeatist and the organizer of an insurrection during the war.

GOLDMAN: Now, subsequent to your expulsion from the Soviet Union, did the Left Opposition formulate any program which contains sections dealing with the defense of the Soviet Union?

TROTSKY: Yes; it is The War and the Fourth International, an official document. This is the official program of the Fourth International.

GOLDMAN: This Fourth International was at that time not formed?

TROTSKY: No; it is not formed today.

GOLDMAN: It is in the process?

TROTSKY: It is the preparation, the programmatic preparation for the Fourth International.

GOLDMAN: Will you mark this Exhibit No.23?

This exhibit is the programmatic pamphlet entitled The War and the Fourth International. I quote now from the pamphlet, the official program on war adopted by the International Secretariat of the International Communist League. I believe, if I am not mistaken, that you wrote this program?


GOLDMAN: On page 9, I quote the following:

The indubitable and deep-going bureaucratic degeneration of the Soviet state as well as the national-conservative character of its foreign policy do not change the social nature of the Soviet Union as that of the first workers’ state. All kinds of democratic, idealistic, ultra-Left, anarchistic theories, ignoring the character of Soviet property relations which is Socialistic in its tendencies and denying or glossing over the class contradiction between the USSR and the bourgeois state, must lead inevitably, and especially in case of war, to counter-revolutionary political conclusions.

Defense of the Soviet Union from the blows of the capitalist enemies, irrespective of the circumstances and immediate causes of the conflict, is the elementary and imperative duty of every honest labor organization.

This was published in July 1934 and was adopted some time in May ―

TROTSKY: It was written in 1933.


TROTSKY: That’s right, 1934.

GOLDMAN: It was written in May 1934?

LAFOLLETTE: Adopted when?

GOLDMAN: Adopted June 10, 1934, by the International Secretariat.

TROTSKY: It was discussed between the moment it was written – it was discussed internationally, and then it was adopted. Will you please put in my article on Clemenceau, appearing in the New International?

GOLDMAN: The question of the Clemenceau thesis referred to in the indictment and in the argument of Vyshinsky was dealt with in an article by Mr. Trotsky dated September 24th, 1927, Moscow, and published in the New International of July 1934. The New International was a publication published in New York. I refer to it without introducing it into evidence. The Commission can readily obtain that.

FINERTY: Can you give me a reference as to where in the indictment that reference is made?

TROTSKY: It is not in the indictment, it is in the accusation on page 497.

GOLDMAN: Not in the indictment, but in the speech of the Prosecutor. I have the pamphlet entitled In Defense of the Soviet Union, a compilation of articles and excerpts from Leon Trotsky’s works beginning with 1927 and ending with 1937, published by the Pioneer Publishers of New York, this year – I think, the last month. The pamphlet has an introduction by Max Shachtman. I introduce that into evidence as Exhibit No.24.

(The pamphlets War and the Fourth International and In Defense of the Soviet Union, by Leon Trotsky were introduced into evidence as Exhibits Nos.23 and 24, respectively.)

DEWEY: May I interrupt for a moment? On page 497, they have it in quotation marks as coming from Mr. Trotsky: “We must restore the tactics of Clemenceau, who, as is well known, rose against the French Government at a time when the Germans were eighty kilometers from Paris.”

GOLDMAN: That is what Mr. Trotsky refers to as Vyshinsky’s own interpretation.

TROTSKY: It is a little literary falsification in a great frame-up.

GOLDMAN: Now, Mr. Trotsky, did you ever have any controversy with members of the Left Opposition, or with persons belonging to other groups, on the question dealing with the defense of the Soviet Union?

TROTSKY: Very often. I can say it was all the time. My exile is full of such discussions and conflicts, and even now, especially now, after the Moscow trials. We received from France, from young friends in France – I received accusations that even now I do not renounce the idea of the necessity of the defense of the Soviet Union. Psychologically, it is absolutely explainable for young people, not sufficiently politically educated and not experienced sufficiently politically – it is Don ―

STOLBERG: Quixotic.

TROTSKY: Exotic? No, not exotic.


TROTSKY: Yes, Don Quixotic. All right, we will omit the word.

(Laughter) They say: “He insists on the defense of the Soviet Union when such terrible acts are possible.” But we defend the Soviet Union not for either Stalin or Vyshinsky. We defend it as an inheritance of the October Revolution, as an open door to a better future, in spite of Stalin and Vyshinsky.

GOLDMAN: Can you name some of the members who used to belong to the Left Opposition with whom you split on the question of that issue?

TROTSKY: It was not only members but organizations. There was In Germany the “Leninbund,” an organization connected with us; but we separated ourselves in 1929, the beginning of 1929, over this question. Then we have in France a paper of a group which divided from us. One of the editors is Laste, who is our witness, a very important witness. He is my adversary, and he attacks me especially on this question.

GOLDMAN: This article in this paper is by whom?

TROTSKY: I don’t know if it is signed or an editorial. It is an editorial.

GOLDMAN: Who is the editor?

TROTSKY: Here is the editor. It is signed “Laste.”

GOLDMAN: He is the one who gave a statement in your favor in this case with reference to Royan, isn’t he?


GOLDMAN: He takes a position contrary to yours with reference to the defense of the Soviet Union?


GOLDMAN: I introduce this paper into evidence as Exhibit No.25.

(The paper, l’Internationale, containing editorial on defense of the Soviet Union was introduced into evidence as Exhibit No.25.)

TROTSKY: In Belgium we had an organizer of the Communist Party who became an Oppositionist. Then he separated himself from us, especially on the question of the defense of the Soviet Union. His name is Van Overstraeten. In every other country we can find such people.

GOLDMAN: Does that article against the defense of the USSR contain any references to your views?

TROTSKY: Yes, I believe so. In every issue you can find it.

GOLDMAN: I introduce this magazine entitled l’Internationale dated the 23rd of May 1936 for two purposes: One, to show by this, by the editorial in this magazine, that Trotsky is for the defense of the Soviet Union, and that the editorial writer criticizes him for being for the defense of the Soviet Union. Two, to show that his adversaries – that the deposition by Laste is a deposition made not by one who is politically friendly with Mr. Trotsky or in the same organization, but by one who is in a different organization hostile to Trotsky. I will have this magazine marked – that’s right, I have already introduced it.

STOLBERG: Mr. Trotsky, on these questions, like the defense of the USSR, how do those revolutionists in France, like Souvarin stand?

TROTSKY: They say: “We will see, we will remain neutral.” They say that there is a different question; for example, of state capitalism. Their position is: “We will see; we will have a neutral position on that and fight against all of them.”

GOLDMAN: You want to continue?

TROTSKY: I will say only that the forms of confusion are barriers to every organized defense of the Soviet Union.

GOLDMAN: I take it that your present attitude is the same?

TROTSKY: The same.

GOLDMAN: For the defense of the Soviet Union?

TROTSKY: For the defense of the Soviet Union.

GOLDMAN: In case of an attack on the Soviet Union by Germany, Japan or any other country, in what way would your attitude for the defense of the Soviet Union express itself? How would you show that you are for the defense of the Soviet Union? Can you give us an idea of the concrete attempts that you would make to help the Soviet Union?

TROTSKY: Yes. I believe that in the next war the Communist Parties of all countries will sustain their own countries as the Social Democracy did in the last war. I believe the Fourth International will fight the imperialist countries, the imperialist classes and will defend the Soviet Union. I believe, now, when the truth about the inner situation in the Soviet Union becomes more and more known by the workers, a certain disappointment and dissatisfaction will be very widespread, with a danger that the workers will say: “The Communists have fooled us. They have ―”

GOLDMAN: Deceived.

TROTSKY: “They have only deceived us. We will have nothing to do with the Soviet state.” We will say: “We never deceived you. We told you the truth all the time. Despite everything, there is a difference between the Soviet Union, the workers’ state, and Japan and Germany. You must help the Soviet Union, in spite of all its weaknesses and its social illnesses. You must defend it against Japan and Germany.” I believe in an hour of great danger the workers will with more confidence listen to us than to the official Stalinist-Communists who betray them every day.

STOLBERG: Mr. Trotsky, suppose the Soviet Union in case of war has an alliance with – of a kind which you could not defend. What would you do then?

TROTSKY: First – I must give an answer to that, but I must have more concrete data on the situation. It is too concrete a question with too abstract elements. It is not possible to answer it.


FINERTY: Suppose an alliance between France, England and Russia.

TROTSKY: Pardon?

FINERTY: An alliance against Germany, Italy and Japan. That is a possible alliance. What would your attitude be? In support of Russia?

STOLBERG: Surely Russia in the next war will have an alliance.

TROTSKY: It is a very complicated question. I believe that during the war the allies can impose on the Soviet Union such concessions, social and economic concessions, that the Soviet state can become a bourgeois state. It is, in connection with bourgeois states, all alone. At the end of the war, it is possible we will have a capitalist Soviet Union. If the Soviet Union will oppose the pressure of its allies, then I believe that the allies will come together with its enemies to stifle the Soviet Union at the end of the war. Because it is the allies who believe that the combinations of powers will be the same at the beginning of the war, during the war and the end of the war. And we, as a revolutionary party, we must prepare ourselves not for a certain conjuncture, not for a moment, but for a period. I will say, for my part, that I would not support the French bourgeois government, I would not support the British bourgeois government during a war. But in the Soviet Union, I would support the Soviet Union, the Red Army, the Soviet state against all its enemies. Because ―

FINERTY: One way you would try to sustain or support the Soviet government would be by fomenting revolutions in Germany and Japan?

TROTSKY: By both means. In the Soviet Union, I would try to be a good soldier, win the sympathy of the soldiers, and fight well. Then, at a good moment, when victory is assured, I would say; “Now we must finish with the bureaucracy.”

FINERTY: I understand. But if you were in Germany, how would you go about your work?

TROTSKY: I said if I am personally in the Soviet Union, I will be a soldier. If I am in Japan or Germany, I will do everything I can to develop the revolutionary movement.

FINERTY: What would you do if you were in France or England?

TROTSKY: In France or England I would prepare also the overthrow of the bourgeois régime.

STOLBERG: You are a responsible revolutionary figure. Russia and France already have a military alliance. Suppose an international war breaks out. I am not interested in what you say about the Russian working class at this time. I know that. What would you say to the French working class in reference to the defense of the Soviet Union? “Change the French bourgeois government,” would you say?

TROTSKY: This question is more or less answered in the thesis, The War and the Fourth International, in this sense: In France I would remain in opposition to the Government and would develop systematically this opposition. In Germany I would do anything I could to sabotage the war machinery. They are two different things. In Germany and in Japan, I would apply military methods as far as I am able to fight, oppose, and injure the machinery, the military machinery of Japan, to disorganize it, both in Germany and Japan. In France, it is political opposition against the bourgeoisie, and the preparation of the proletarian Revolution. Both are revolutionary methods. But in Germany and Japan I have as my immediate aim the disorganization of the whole machinery. In France, I have the aim of the proletarian revolution.

FINERTY: If you succeeded in disorganizing the Hitler régime in Germany and the feudal régime in Japan, have a successful revolution in these two countries, the Soviets and these two proletarian states could resist the aggression of French and English capitalism; but would you want to offer as a price for war – it might be that the Soviet Union would be forced to give such a concession as would turn it into a capitalist state.

TROTSKY: That is the reason why, during the alliance between France and Russia, it is necessary to have the proletariat in France in active opposition to its bourgeoisie in order to have the possibility of hindering its bourgeoisie from imposing on the Soviet Union at the end of the war a bourgeois régime or capitalist régime.

GOLDMAN: Suppose you have the chance to take power during a war, in France, would you advocate it if you had the majority of the proletariat?

TROTSKY: Naturally.

GOLDMAN: In that way, would that not hinder the war against Japan and Hitler?

TROTSKY: No. I am absolutely sure that the only way to help and preserve, to save and develop the Soviet Union, is to develop and provoke the revolution in Japan and Germany. For success in this direction, it is necessary to destroy the German national ideology, the idea that everybody is against Germany. During the war it is sufficient to advise in Germany what was advised by Liebknecht and in France by Monatte: “Overthrow your own bourgeois government.” If in France we have an opposition to the war, it will provoke in Germany a ten times more powerful movement of the proletariat, because in Germany, in the hermetically closed state, the contradictions are very explosive. It is necessary to have in France a revolutionary movement. If we declare that all the people, the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, must fight fascist Germany, then Hitler will say: “You see all humanity is against the German nation.”

It is the best cement, national cement, Hitler has. He has nourishment from this. It is necessary to continue the revolutionary opposition against the government in France in order to give the possibility for the revolution to develop in Germany.

GOLDMAN: In other words, you don’t trust the French or English bourgeoisie to defend the Soviet Union?


FINERTY: As you stated, allies at the beginning of the war are not always allies at the end of the war. With the help of the bourgeoisie of England and France, you might defeat Germany and Japan and then ally yourself with the proletariat of Japan and Germany.

TROTSKY: Mr. Attorney, France and Great Britain are not my allies. They can be the allies of the Soviet state. My allies are the workers of all countries, and the only allies I recognize are the workers of all the other countries. My politics are established not for the purpose of diplomatic conventions, but for the development of the international revolutionary movement of the working class. I cannot put any hopes in the allies of the Soviet Union, in France and England. They can betray one another. They can separate from one another. But I am sure that ten workers who understand very well the situation – they will be free and they will win one hundred workers, and the hundred workers a thousand soldiers. They will be victorious at the end of the war, It seems to me very simple, but I believe it is a good idea.

RUEHLE (in German, through interpreter): The defense of the Soviet Union can lead to a point where you have to collaborate with Stalin. What would your position be then?

TROTSKY: You know, I am opposed to the reformists. I am opposed to Jouhaux in France, the leader of the trade-union organization.

But when the fascists will attack Jouhaux, I am ready to come into an alliance with Jouhaux for the practical purpose of creating companies ―

GOLDMAN: Defense?

TROTSKY: Defense organizations to fight jointly against the fascists with Jouhaux, who is my bitterest adversary. The same with Stalin. There was in the Russian Revolution a known example. Kerensky put me in prison on the accusation that I was an agent of Germany. Then Kornilov attacked Kerensky. Kerensky was obliged to give me my freedom. I went from the prison to a session of the Defense Committee with representatives of Kerensky and Company. The Bolsheviks were the best fighters against Kornilov. It is not a sentimental consideration or a personal consideration. The only consideration is the interest of the masses, what is necessary for the safety of the masses.

GOLDMAN: Then your answer is that you are willing to collaborate with Stalin in defending the Soviet Union against the capitalist enemies?

TROTSKY: Absolutely. I declared it in Copenhagen in my statement, and I gave that statement ―

GOLDMAN: Yes, the statement is now in evidence. You declared before the press.


DEWEY: May I ask a hypothetical question? Suppose the bourgeoisie of England and France, in alliance with the Soviet Union, defeated fascist Germany and feudal Japan, might not the result be to make the Soviet Union a bourgeois country?

TROTSKY: Yes, a victory. A victory of France, of Great Britain and the Soviet Union. A victory over Germany and Japan could signify first a transformation of the Soviet Union into a bourgeois state and the transformation of France into a fascist state, because for a victory against Hitler it is necessary to have a monstrous military machine, and the fascist tendencies in France are powerful now. A victory can signify the destruction of fascism in Germany and the establishment of fascism in France. That is the reason why I cannot carry any responsibility for any of these gentlemen who are in office in these states. The only guarantee against fascism and reaction is the consciousness of the revolutionary masses, and their organizations.

GOLDMAN: Now, what effect, in your opinion, can the defeat of the Soviet Union have with reference to the fulfillment of your hopes and ideas?

TROTSKY: The defeat of the Soviet Union is inevitable in case the new war shall not provoke a new revolution, I believe it is impossible, it is incredible, that a new war will permit capitalism, decadent capitalism, to remain as it is. The revolution is inevitable. But if we theoretically admit war without revolution, then the defeat of the Soviet Union is inevitable.

LAFOLLETTE: Mr. Trotsky, the revolution in Russia or outside of Russia.

TROTSKY: Outside of Russia, the social revolution outside of Russia, and in the first line, Germany and Japan.

LAFOLLETTE: I would like to ask one more question since all other possibilities have been discussed. What would be your attitude assuming there was a war in which the Soviet Union found itself allied with Mr. Hitler?

TROTSKY: I will wait and see. (Laughter) It is not excluded. I believe that the accusation against me is directed against a certain part of the bureaucracy. In the Soviet Union – it is my hypothesis – is recurring a tendency to make peace with Hitler at any price, because war is a great danger, not only for the Soviet Union, but especially for the bureaucracy. The bureaucracy is frightened, from its point of view. But there must be a tendency for peace with Hitler. You know, in the beginning of 1933 Stalin declared that “we never opposed his movement,” That is, referring to Hitler. I attacked him and I criticized him. He declared openly: “We never opposed the movement which is victorious in Germany, and we are ready to remain in the same relations with the new Germany as with the Weimar Germany.”

LAFOLLETTE: He declared that Russia did not oppose that movement?

TROTSKY: Stalin in the first six months of 1933 hoped to keep in good relations with the fascists in Germany. I can introduce articles, my articles against him on that occasion. I quote from Isvestia about the 15th of March 1933: “The USSR is the only state which is not nourished on hostile sentiments towards Germany and that, independent of the form and the composition of the government of the Reich.” It was Hitler who repulsed it, not he. Then only did he begin to look in the direction of France, and so on. The first half of 1933, I was an agent of France, the United States and Great Britain. I changed my profession only after the crushing of Stalin’s hopes to remain in friendship with Hitler. I can prove it. It was in the Pravda. I am represented as “Mr.” Trotsky. I am “Mr.” Trotsky in spite of my English. (Laughter) The article is entitled: Mr. Trotsky in the Service of Lord Beaverbrook. I am represented by Radek as an ally of Lord Beaverbrook. I don’t know why especially Beaverbrook. Yaroslavsky names me an ally of Winston Churchill. It is in the same issue, the same copy of Pravda.

FINERTY: I think we would like to have that paper in evidence.


GOLDMAN: I will introduce it in evidence.

TROTSKY: Yes; I can give you the quotation. You see, I am only impressed by the multitude of the press evidence. I have a series of quotations from the official press where I am represented as the ally of Poland, as the defender of the Versailles Peace – and Stalin was against the Versailles Peace. Only now he is for it and I am against it. (Laughter)

FINERTY: Mr. Goldman, I think that it would help the Commission if we would appraise all the differences in the charges made by the Stalin Government against Mr. Trotsky.


BEALS: I would like to ask one question along these lines, since we are talking about it. I would like to ask one question since we are talking about the world war: the most imminent danger of war an Spain. Are you responsible for the Trotskyites in Spain?

TROTSKY: What is “Trotskyites in Spain”?

BEALS: Are you responsible for the various factions in Spain who use the name of “Trotskyites”?

TROTSKY: There are no Trotskyites. The situation is such that everybody who opposes the politics of the Comintern is named by the Comintern “Trotskyite.” Because Trotskyite means fascism in the Comintern propaganda. It is a simple argument. The Trotskyites in Spain are not numerous – the genuine Trotskyites. I regret it, but I must confess, they are not numerous. There is a powerful party, the POUM, the Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification. That party alone recognizes that I am not a fascist. The youth of that party has sympathy with our ideas. But the policy of that party is very opportunistic, and I openly criticize it.

BEALS: Who is the head of it?

TROTSKY: Nin. He is my friend. I know him very well. But I criticize him very sharply.

BEALS: One reason I bring this out is that the charge has been made that the faction of Trotskyites sabotage the loyalist movement in Spain.

TROTSKY: That we allegedly sabotage the loyalist movement. I believe that I have expressed it in many interviews and articles: The only way possible to assure victory in Spain is to say to the peasants: “The Spanish soil is your soil.” To say to the workers: “The Spanish factories are your factories.” That is the only possibility to assure victory. Stalin, in order not to frighten the French bourgeoisie, has become the guard of private property in Spain. The Spanish peasant is not very interested in fine definitions. He says: “With Franco and with Caballero, it is the same thing.” Because the peasant is very realistic. During our Civil War – I do not believe that we were victorious principally because of our military science. It is false. We were victorious because of our revolutionary program. We said to the peasant: “It is your soil.” And the peasant, who at one time went away and then went to the Whites, compared the Bolsheviks with the White Guards and said, “The Bolsheviks are better.” Then when the peasantry, the hundreds and millions of Russian peasantry, were of the conviction that the Bolsheviks were better, we were victorious.

BEALS: Would you expand a little further the statement that Stalin is guarding private property in Spain?

TROTSKY: He says, and the Comintern declared with regard to Spain, that the social reforms will come after the victory. “Now, it is war. Our job now is war. Social reforms will come after the victory.” The peasant becomes indifferent. “It is not my war; I am not interested in the victory of the generals. The generals are fighting one another.” That is his opinion. You know, in his primitive way, he is right. I am with this primitive Spanish peasant against the fine diplomats.

BEALS: Then you don’t think it is of great importance which side wins the war in Spain? It does not make a great deal of difference which side wins the war?

TROTSKY: No, the workers must win the war. It is necessary that the workers win. Rut I assure you that by the policy of the Comintern and Stalin you have the surest way of losing the revolution. They lost the revolution in China, they lost the revolution in Germany, and now they are preparing the defeat in France and in Spain. We had only one victory of the proletarian revolution. That was the October Revolution, and it was made directly in opposition to the method of Stalin.

BEALS: Now, what steps would you take in the case of Spain today, if you were in Stalin’s place?

TROTSKY: I could not be in his place.

BEALS: Say, if you were in Stalin’s place – if you had the destiny of the Soviet Union in your hands, what would be your action in Spain?

TROTSKY: It is not a question of the Soviet Union. It is a question of the revolutionary parties of the Comintern, it is a question of the parties. Naturally, I would remain in opposition to all the bourgeois parties.

STOLBERG: Mr. Trotsky, may I ask a question which relates to Carleton Beals’ question? If you had been in power from 1923 on, in that case, from your point of view, the Chinese Revolution would have been either saved or would have gained additionally. There would have been no German fascism. I mean, if your position had been victorious back in 1923. There would have been the situation in Spain, but it could not have occurred exactly that way. But you lost. The Comintern politics in China and Germany brought about a defeat. Now we have the Spanish situation. I am merely presenting what I think is your position. Then I will ask the question. We have the Spanish situation on top of the mistakes made in the last fourteen years. We have a civil war in Spain. Surely a purely orthodox or puristic position does not answer the problem. With whom would you side at the present time in Spain?

TROTSKY: I gave the answer in many interviews and articles. Every Trotskyite in Spain must be a good soldier, on the side of the Left. Naturally, it is so elementary a question – you know it is not worth discussing. A leader or any other member in the Government of Caballero is a traitor. A leader of the working class cannot enter the bourgeois government. We did not enter the Government of Kerensky in Russia. While we defended Kerensky against Kornilov, we did not enter his Government. As I declared that I am ready to enter into an alliance with Stalin against the fascists, or an alliance with Jouhaux against the French fascists. It is an elementary question.

FINERTY: Mr. Trotsky, if you were in power in Russia today and your help was asked by the loyalists in Spain, you would condition your help on the basis that the land was given to the peasants and the factories to the workers?

TROTSKY: Not on the condition – not this question. The first question would be the attitude of the Spanish revolutionary party. I would say, “No political alliance with the bourgeoisie,” as the first condition. The second, “You must be the best soldiers against the fascists.” Third, “You must say to the soldiers, to the other soldiers and the peasants: “We must transform our country into a people’s country. Then, when we win the masses, we will throw the bourgeoisie out of office, and then we will be in power and we will make the social revolution.”

FINERTY: Then, to make effective any help, you will have to have an alliance with the Marxist party in Spain?

TROTSKY: Naturally, I would help Caballero with all the material means against fascism, but at the same time I would give the advice to the Communist Party not to enter into the Government, but to remain in a critical position against Caballero and to prepare the second chapter of the workers’ revolution.

BEALS: Isn’t that one of the reasons that the Azaña Government, when first in office, brought in the reaction, precisely because of that policy?

TROTSKY: Because of a conservative bourgeois policy: because he tried to make half a revolution, a third of a revolution. My opinion is that the revolution must be – better not begin that way. If you begin the revolution, do it to the end. To the end signifies the social revolution.

BEALS: This would mean, by the policy you follow, the probable victory of Franco, would it not?

TROTSKY: The victory of Franco is assured by the present policy of the Comintern. The Spanish revolution, the Spanish proletariat and peasantry, by their efforts and energy and devotion during the past six years, could have assured five victories or six victories – every year a victory. But the ruling stratum of the working class did everything to hinder, sabotage and betray the revolutionary power of the masses. The revolution is based upon the elementary forces of the proletariat, and on the political direction of its leaders. It is a very important problem, and the leadership in Spain was miserable all the time. The Spanish proletariat shows that it is of the best material, the best revolutionary force we have seen for the last decade. In spite of that, it is not victorious. I accuse the CI and the Second International of hindering the victory by their perfidious policy, which is based on cowardice before the bourgeoisie, the bourgeoisie and Franco. They remain in a Government with the bourgeoisie, which is the symbol of private property. And Caballero himself bows before the symbol of private property. The masses, however, do not see the difference between the two régimes.

GOLDMAN: Do you exclude the possibility of a victory, of a military victory of Caballero over Franca?

TROTSKY: It is very difficult to say – a military victory. It is possible that even by a military victory, the victorious régime can in a very short time be transformed into a fascist régime, if the masses remain dissatisfied and indifferent and the new military organization created by the victory is not a Socialist organization.

GOLDMAN: But the masses in Spain might be under the illusion that they are actually in the struggle against Franco and the fascists – they are actually struggling for their own proletarian interests.

TROTSKY: Unfortunately, the majority of the masses have lost all their illusions. And this explains the dragging character of the civil war, because the People’s Front Government prepared an army for Franco. The new Government issued from the People’s Front, from the victory, and protected the army and Franco, so that under the Government of the People’s Front the army was prepared for the insurrection. Then began the civil war, and the bourgeoisie said to the people: “You must await victory. Then we will be very generous, but after the victory.”

GOLDMAN: Now, you didn’t answer the question asked a half hour ago.

BEALS: I didn’t quite finish. I don’t yet see, Mr. Trotsky, how you or Mr. Stalin is going to save the situation in Spain. It seems to me that both of the policies you have indicated will have the most immediate results of winning the war for Franco. I can’t see, personally, anything in favor of Franco at all. I don’t quite clearly get your point. It seems to me that in the meantime Mr. Franco will have won the war.

TROTSKY: I can only repeat that I gave the key, a little key to my friends and everybody who is of the same conviction, and my first advice is to be the best soldiers now in the camp of Caballero. That is the first thing. You know there is a group of the Fourth International, a company of our comrades in the trenches. It is so elementary that I will not dwell on it. It is necessary to fight. But, you know, it is not sufficient to fight with a gun. It is necessary to have ideas and give these same ideas to others, to prepare for the future. I can fight with the simple peasant, but he understands very little in the situation. I must give him an explanation. I must say: “You are right in fighting Franco. We must exterminate the fascists, but not in order to have the same Spain as before the civil war, because Franco issued from this Spain. We must exterminate the foundation of Franco, the social foundation of Franco, which is the social system of capitalism. Are you satisfied with my ideas?” you ask the peasant. He will say: “Yes, I believe so.” Then explain the same thing to the workers.

BEALS: Why would you send the soldier to fight Franco and yet refuse to enter the Government of Caballero to assist in the same purpose?

TROTSKY: I explained it. We refused categorically to enter the Kerensky Government, but the Bolsheviks were the best fighters against Kornilov. Not only that, the best soldiers and sailors were Bolsheviks. During the insurrection of Kornilov, Kerensky must go to the sailors of the Baltic fleet and demand of them to defend them in the Winter Palace. I was at that time in prison. They took him to the guard, and sent a delegation to me to ask me what must be done: To arrest Kerensky or defend him? That is a historical fact. I said: “Yes, you must guard him very well now; tomorrow we will arrest him.” (Laughter)

GOLDMAN: Are you through?


GOLDMAN: Now, Mr. Trotsky, your accusers say that you want the defeat of the Soviet Union. I ask you this: What effect would the defeat of the Soviet Union have upon the possibility of realizing the ideas of Socialism that you stand for?

TROTSKY: It would signify a tremendous historical retreat, because the overthrow of the present Government would signify economic chaos for years, possibly for decades, if it is not overthrown by the proletarian revolution. But a defeat and the restoration of capitalism would signify a historical retreat.

GOLDMAN: This finishes the section of the evidence dealing with the defense of the Soviet Union. I think we have some time in which to deal with the next section, so we can be sure to finish tomorrow.

TROTSKY: Mr. Chairman, I would like to quote only five or six lines to prove that the accusation that the Opposition is for defeat is not an invention of yesterday. Stalin advanced this accusation in 1927 in the session of the Central Committee. He accused us of not being in favor of victory. Here is a quotation from a section of the report of the session of the Central Committee, and my answer.

STOLBERG: What page?

TROTSKY: It is page 9 in the pamphlet entitled In Defense of the Soviet Union. I quote: “The Opposition is for the victory of the USSR; it has proved this and will continue to prove this in action in a manner inferior to none.

DEWEY: I might announce now that if Mr. Goldman can finish by noon tomorrow, there will be no session in the evening. The Commission has to confer together on the line of questioning, Mr. Finerty’s line of questioning of Mr. Trotsky. I hope very much that Mr. Goldman can finish by tomorrow afternoon.

GOLDMAN: If we adjourn now, I want to introduce these two documents of Pravda.

TROTSKY: Of the 8th of March 1929.

GOLDMAN: Of the 8th of March 1929, containing the article, Mr. Trotsky in the Service of the English Bourgeoisie. We will make this Exhibit No.26.

(The issue of Pravda of March 8, 1929, was introduced into evidence as Exhibit No.26.)

TROTSKY: Here is a facsimile on the Pilsudski matter.

GOLDMAN: In the Bulletin of the Opposition, No. 23, of August 1931 there is an article in which is included a citation showing the accusation of Pravda that Trotsky was allied with Pilsudski and that Mr. Trotsky published an article in the Polish Government paper.

TROTSKY: An article against the Five-Year Plan.

GOLDMAN: I will introduce this as Exhibit No.27.

(The said facsimile on the Pilsudski matter was introduced into evidence as Exhibit No.27.)

DEWEY: We will now adjourn this session

End of Eighth Session – seven o’clock p.m.

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Last updated on: 3.4.2007