Leon Trotsky

Tenth Session

April 16, 1937, at ten o’clock a.m.

GOLDMAN: Mr. Chairman, will the Commission permit the introduction of a document which I think will be very helpful? It is an article written by Trotsky and published in the New York Times, May 8th, 1932. It will be very helpful to the Commission, because in résumé form it gives a history of the Left Opposition and the causes of the conflict and the possible outcome. I will mark the Exhibit No.32.

(An article by Trotsky in the New York Times of May 8th, 1932, was introduced into evidence as Exhibit No.32.)

DEWEY: Before Mr. Finerty begins his inquiry, I wish to refer to an error appearing in the Nacional paper this morning, doubtless due to the ignorance of what has been said in the previous hearings – namely, that it was not known to whom this Commission would report. In the very first press release, the members of the larger Commission to which this sub-commission would report was stated, and the names given.

FINERTY: I would like to supplement that with a statement that El Nacional names me as Trotsky’s attorney. I was assured by them it was a typographical error. It also follows a statement made a day or two before to the effect that I am a friend of Trotsky’s. I have asked the paper to withdraw that false statement.

DEWEY: Will you begin, Mr. Finerty?

FINERTY: I think, Mr. Chairman, it will clarify my examination, both for Mr. Trotsky and for the public, if I state the intent and purpose of it. I believe, and I think the Commission agrees with me, that the Commission must reach its ultimate conclusions on the basis of the published record made by it and on the basis of the facts developed in that record or the impossibility of developing the facts.

Therefore, my examination will develop facts that in my opinion are necessary for an intelligent conclusion by the Commission on the questions here involved, Mr. Trotsky is not to be treated as a hostile witness in my cross examination to the extent that he agrees that I may ask any question I think pertinent, and that he will give any information which is in his power to give and which I ask for.

I may say that some of my questions will seem elementary. But that is of interest to the case, as I see it. I believe that the Commission must act within the record, which means to take the mass of facts which it develops. It is therefore necessary, as a preliminary, to develop certain elemental facts which the record now lacks.

I also think it proper to say that certain of the documentary evidence introduced by Mr. Trotsky, certain of the factual evidence introduced by him, is not properly subject to cross examination but to subsequent investigation; that is, to determine its authenticity, and therefore, if I do not examine on all the facts testified to by Mr. Trotsky, it is not because either I or the Commission accept these facts as true or question their truth, but we believe a more efficient method of determining their truth is not by cross examination, but by investigation of the sources of these facts.

Mr. Trotsky, may I presume to ask you to make your answers to me as concise as possible? When was the Communist Party organized?

TROTSKY: In Russia?

FINERTY: In Russia.

TROTSKY: The Communist Party proper had the name “Bolshevik,” the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party. The Party was organized officially as a party in 1903. But the first manifesto proclaiming the Party was issued in 1898.

FINERTY: 1908?

TROTSKY: 1898. The real organization of the party begins in 1903.

FINERTY: What was the basis of membership in the Party?

TROTSKY: To recognize the program; the recognition of Party discipline; and active work in the Party organization.

FINERTY: Was anyone admitted to the Party who undertook to carry out the program, or expressed agreement with the Party program, and undertook the work of the Party?


FINERTY: There was no selection of people and no exclusion of people?

TROTSKY: At that time not, because illegal conditions made it not so attractive for careerists to adhere to the Party.

FINERTY: At that time, what were the governing bodies of the Communist Party or the Bolshevik Party?

TROTSKY: The governing persons?

FINERTY: Governing committees and bodies.

TROTSKY: The Central Committee, and the editorial board of the central organ of the Party. The Central Committee acted inside the borders of Russia and the editorial board abroad, in emigration. We had two centers. The most important leaders remained abroad in exile. They were the political and theoretical leadership. The Central Committee in Russia was the direct practical leadership.

FINERTY: How were these committees selected?

TROTSKY: They were elected by the Party Congresses.

FINERTY: They were elected annually?

TROTSKY: It was not annually. In the illegal conditions, it was very difficult to convoke a Party Congress. We had the second Party Congress in 1903. Then, a Party Congress and split in 1905, a new Congress in 1906, and then in 1907. After the Revolution in 1905, it was easier to convoke a Party Congress.

FINERTY: Were these Party Congresses held in Russia or abroad?

TROTSKY: The first Party Congress was simply a Party Congress which issued only the manifesto in 1898. It was in Russia. The second took place in Brussels – partly in Brussels and partly in London. We were expelled from Brussels and compelled to go to London. The third in Stockholm, and the fourth again in London in 1907. Then we had a long interruption until the next Congress.

It was only in April 1917, a conference which played the rôle of a Congress, in Petrograd.

FINERTY: In April 1917?

TROTSKY: 1917, at the beginning of the Revolution.

FINERTY: Now, during the early Party Congresses, were all members of the Party permitted to attend Congresses and vote?

TROTSKY: Not the Congresses; the meetings which elected the delegates. The Party organization as an organization was small at that time. It was also a selection of the best elements for the purpose of avoiding agents provocateurs. But all the members would participate in the elections.

FINERTY: There was permitted a regular election of delegates, was there?

TROTSKY: In so far as it was possible under the régime of the Tsar.

STOLBERG: Mr. Trotsky, you said in 1905 the Bolshevik Party split?

TROTSKY: In 1903, it split

STOLBERG: That is why I didn’t quite understand. You said in 1905 there was a split.

TROTSKY: In 1903 there was the first ideological split, not even a political one. Organizationally, the Party remained formally as a unified Party. The organizational split occurred in May – April or May – 1905. At the end of 1905, new efforts were made to unify and merge both fractions. They merged in the Congress of 1906, in Stockholm.

STOLBERG: In Stockholm, the Bolshevik split went back in the Social Democratic Party as one section of the Party?

TROTSKY: Yes. At Stockholm, they were a minority of the Party. The Mensheviks had a majority. At that time I was not present, and personally I did not participate in that Congress.

FINERTY: At that time, the Party was composed of what elements? Mensheviks, Bolsheviks, and Social Democrats?

TROTSKY: They were both named Social Democrats. That was the name of the Party, the Russian Workers Social Democratic Party. It divided into Bolsheviks and Mensheviks and the so-called conciliatory elements. Part of the conciliators were Trotskyites.

FINERTY: I think you testified in your direct examination that you tried to bring about harmony between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, and that you were mistaken in that effort.

TROTSKY: As a general political line it was false.

FINERTY: Then, the first Congress of importance held in Russia was in 1917?

TROTSKY: It was a conference in April. Then, we had the same year a Party Congress – at the end of July or the beginning of August 1917. It was the Party Congress.

FINERTY: About what was the membership of the Party at the time of the Party Congress in 1917?

TROTSKY: It was in principle the same, practically.

FINERTY: I mean numerically.

TROTSKY: Pardon?

FINERTY: Numerically.

TROTSKY: I believe before the October Revolution, before the October insurrection, we had some three hundred thousand members.

FINERTY: Even prior to the October Revolution?


FINERTY: What was your membership succeeding the Revolution? Was it increased?

TROTSKY: Yes; there were two or three waves. At the beginning we had new members, many new members. Then during the July manifestation, which they called an insurrection – that is, the Government – many new members left the Party because they were afraid of the consequences which arose. Lenin had to go underground. After the insurrection of Kornilov, during the period of August, September and October, we had thousands of new members again.

FINERTY: At that time were there any restrictions of membership other than the basis you have given?

TROTSKY: We were a persecuted party, terribly persecuted by the Government, the Provisional Government, and we had no reason for an artificial selection.

FINERTY: Did the Congress of 1917 precede or follow the October Revolution?

TROTSKY: Preceded it. It finished in the first days of August 1917. It was the official merger between the Bolsheviks and the smaller revolutionary organizations, among them an organization to which I belonged myself.

FINERTY: As a result of the Revolution, were the Mensheviks subsequently split from the Party?

TROTSKY: No; at that time they were a totally independent party. Officially, it began in 1912. I forgot to say that the Bolshevik fraction at that time had not a Party Congress, but a Party conference in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in 1912, and declared that from that time it would become an independent party. It was the formal and definite split with the Mensheviks, in the year 1912.

FINERTY: What was the name of the Communist Party?

TROTSKY: After the October Revolution – it was in 1919 – Lenin proposed at the April Conference, but the majority – I believe all with the exception of Lenin – rejected the name of Communist Party. They wanted to abide by the old name. Lenin said, “We must change the name of Social Democrats as we must change a dark shirt” ...

GOLDMAN: You mean dirty?

TROTSKY: Yes, a dirty shirt. Because the Social Democracy during the war had a miserable attitude.

FINERTY: In 1919, did the official name of it become Communist Party?


FINERTY: In 1919, what, approximately, was the membership of the Communist Party numerically?

TROTSKY: Pardon?

FINERTY: Numerically?

TROTSKY: It is difficult to say. I am not prepared to say, but all our efforts were directed not to allow the Party to grow too rapidly. We had at that time possibly a half a million members; I am not sure.

FINERTY: In other words, in 1919 during the increase of the Communist Party membership, you began to make it a selective party?


FINERTY: What was the theory upon which it was determined to make the Communist Party a selective party rather than a popular party?

TROTSKY: We tried to have workers, the first thing. The worker, the average worker who thinks, does not think of making a career. He comes into the Party only when he is convinced that it is a good thing. But the bureaucrats, and some of the intellectual people who were Mensheviks yesterday, they all wished to enter into the Party. There was a great danger that the Party might become a party of bureaucrats and careerists.

We tried to eliminate these elements by an examination of the past of everyone and of their activities, having guarantees or recommendations of old Party members, old revolutionaries who knew them before, and could say that his or her genuine attitude is sincere. That was only in the case of a bourgeois or intellectual. But for the workers the door of the Party was open.

FINERTY: Then your selection in 1919 was really an effort to make the membership of the Party workers?

TROTSKY: It was the class guardian.

FINERTY: And not to have merely intellectuals and bureaucrats?


FINERTY: In 1919, what were the governing committees of the Communist Party?

TROTSKY: The Central Committee and the Politburo. The Central Committee and the Politburo were permanent institutions. The Central Committee was convoked once a month, and later once in two months. But in the first year it was once a month.

FINERTY: And there was a committee on organization as well at that time, or was that later?

TROTSKY: Pardon? The organizational bureau was created, I believe, in 1918.

FINERTY: In 1918?


FINERTY: Who were the members in 1919 of the Central Committee? Can you name them?

TROTSKY: Of the organizational?

FINERTY: The Central Committee.

TROTSKY: The Central Committee, yes. It is difficult to say that from memory only. In 1919?


TROTSKY: Serebryakov played a rôle as one of the defendants in the Moscow trial. He was secretary and a member of the organizational bureau. Krestinsky, who was later ambassador in Germany, then a Commissar of Foreign Affairs, in the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs; now he is removed because for a certain time he belonged also to the Trotskyites.

FINERTY: Mr. Trotsky, I think that you should give the names without giving their history. Just give the names.


FINERTY: Particularly the names of those who were defendants in the first and second Moscow trials.

TROTSKY: Zinoviev was a member of the Central Committee and the Politburo. Kamenev was a member of the Central Committee and the Politburo.

FINERTY: Mr. Trotsky, will you name the Central Committee first? I will ask you about the Politburo.

TROTSKY: Zinoviev, Kamenev, Radek – I believe he was there at that time – Sokolnikov and Serebryakov. From the defendants, I believe they are all.

FINERTY: You and Lenin were both members of the Central Committee?


FINERTY: Was Stalin?

TROTSKY: Stalin also.

FINERTY: Now, who were the members of the Politburo? Strike that out a minute. How many members were there on the Central Committee at that time?

TROTSKY: There were at the time of the October Revolution only five and then seven.

GOLDMAN: The Central Committee?

TROTSKY: The Central Committee?


TROTSKY: In the first year, 1917, there were about thirteen or so, then eighteen – about eighteen. I am not sure if that was in 1919. I regret very much not to have the membership. I don’t know – you can ask me these special questions again and I can give you the precise figures after the recess.

FINERTY: I think it would be well if on any of these details you cannot give us, you can subsequently furnish the Commission the information. How was the Central Committee selected in 1919?

TROTSKY: By the yearly Congresses of the Party.

FINERTY: As in the past?

TROTSKY: Yes, but more democratically, because we had full freedom. Under the Tsar it was restricted; the democracy was restricted.

FINERTY: All the members were free to vote for delegates to the Congress?

TROTSKY: Yes; naturally.

FINERTY: And the delegates selected the Central Committee?

TROTSKY: Yes. A period of six to eight weeks preceding every Congress was set aside for discussion. Also, a discussion of the composition of the Central Committee, openly in every organization of the Party, in the basic organization of the Party.

FINERTY: Who were the members of the Politburo in 1919?

TROTSKY: Lenin, Zinoviev, Stalin, Kamenev, and myself.

FINERTY: What were the relative functions of the Central Committee and the Politburo?

TROTSKY: The Politburo was subordinated to the Central Committee. It was an executive committee, the most important executive organ of the Central Committee.

FINERTY: It was a sub-executive committee of the Central Committee?

TROTSKY: Yes, but the organizational decisions were submitted to the organizational bureau.

FINERTY: The organizational bureau was subordinated?

TROTSKY: To the Political Committee, the Politburo.

FINERTY: Who was at that time the head of the organizational bureau?

TROTSKY: Krestinsky, Serebryakov, and I don’t remember who was the third.

FINERTY: And were both the Politburo and the organizational bureau selected by the Central Committee?


FINERTY: When was the Soviet Union officially constituted? What date?

TROTSKY: It was officially proclaimed the next day after our victory. It was the 27th of October, the old style, or the 8th of November, European and American style.

FINERTY: Now, what were the governing bodies of the Soviet Union, the official governing bodies?

TROTSKY: The insurrection took place during the session of all the soviets. In this Congress, all the Russian soviets selected the executive committee, the Executive Soviet Committee of all soviets, and selected the Council of People’s Commissars.

FINERTY: The Soviets selected the ―

TROTSKY: The delegates. The local soviet delegates to the Congress.

FINERTY: And the Congress appointed the executive?

TROTSKY: Maybe of 150 members, and they appointed the Council of People’s Commissars.

FINERTY: All the Commissars?


FINERTY: And the Commissars were over various departments of Government?

TROTSKY: Pardon?

FINERTY: The various Commissars were over various departments of Government? I mean, such as war, foreign affairs, and so on?

TROTSKY: Yes. It was, more or less, simply a division of the work as in every government and in every ministry.

FINERTY: Now, who were the members, in 1919, of the Government? Who were the Commissars of the Soviet Government in 1919?

TROTSKY: Lenin was the chairman, Chicherin was for Foreign Affairs, Rykov was for economy, for agriculture Serebryakov, and Shliapnikov – he is now in prison, if he is alive – was for labor organizations, and myself for army and navy. For finances – I am not sure who was at that time for finances. Maybe Sokolnikov – no, Sokolnikov was a bit later.

FINERTY: Those were the principal Commissars that you named?

TROTSKY: Pardon?

FINERTY: Those were the principal Commissars that you named?


FINERTY: In that form ―

TROTSKY: Excuse me, Stalin was for national questions, for the different nationalities in the Soviet Union.

FINERTY: Now, what were the relations between the Communist Party organizations, such as the Central Committee, or the Politburo, and the Commissars? Did they have any official relationship, so that one official had no authority over the other?

TROTSKY: It is very difficult to present clearly the relationship. After the split with the Left Social Revolutionaries in 1918 – they also participated in the Council of People’s Commissars, but after the insurrection against the Brest-Litovsk peace which they organized, a military insurrection, only the Bolshevik Party remained in office. All the Commissars were Bolsheviks, and they recognized the authority of the Politburo. If they had a difference concerning an important question in the Council of People’s Commissars, they addressed themselves to Lenin with the demand to convoke the Central Committee. They would discuss the question and consult with the Central Committee. As I remember, every decision of the Central Committee had for them absolute authority.

FINERTY: So that, in fact, whether in theory or not, the Party was supreme over the Commissars?


FINERTY: As I understand you, the Commissars were directly and indirectly, through the Congress and through the Executive Committee, elected by the soviets?


FINERTY: What was the basis of membership in the soviets?

TROTSKY: In the soviets, all toiling people, excepting the exploiters. We had at that time small bosses and “kulaks,” rich farmers, and so on. All the toiling people had a right to participate in the soviet elections.

FINERTY: There were both workers’ soviets and agricultural soviets?

TROTSKY: Yes; at that time there were peasants, also intellectuals and also functionaries. Only exploiters and moral compromisers were excluded.

FINERTY: So that, democratically speaking, the soviets were a more democratic body than the Party?

TROTSKY: Naturally, yes.

FINERTY: And even in the early days of the Soviet Union, the Commissars who were directly and indirectly elected by the soviets were subordinated to the least democratic organization of the Party?

TROTSKY: Yes, but it is – excuse me – it is too formalistic a formula. The relationship between the Party and the Commissars was known throughout the country.

FINERTY: I am not questioning that. I am trying to get as a basis for your testimony that the change from democratic control of the Soviet Union as originally constituted, to the bureaucratic control that you now allege – that it is under the control of Stalin. How far was the control democratic from the start?

TROTSKY: When the people in Belgium – their Ministers are Catholic; they address the Holy Father in Rome who gives them advice. It is not a challenge of democratic rights. The people know they are Catholics.

FINERTY: It would be a challenge to democratic rights if the Pope exercised temporal authority?

TROTSKY: Then the people have the opportunity not to elect a second time the Ministers, if universal suffrage, universal democracy, remains intact.

FINERTY: Suppose there had been a difference of opinion between the Commissars and the Central Committee or the Politburo. Under your organization, as I understand it, the policies of the Central Committee or the Politburo would have controlled the action of the Commissars?


FINERTY: If the soviets had elected new Commissars, the new Commissars would have been just as subject to the control of the Central Committee and the Politburo?

TROTSKY: It was a question – a more provisional question, depending on the relationship between the Party and the working class – if they had confidence in the Party. Only formally, the Party was less democratic than the soviets. One time the people had the fullest confidence in the Party which guided the people during the October insurrection and which gave to the peasants the soil.

FINERTY: I want to ask: Whether or not they had the fullest confidence in the Party, short of a revolution there was no way they could prevent the Party from controlling the Commissars was there?

TROTSKY: It is not correct.

FINERTY: Now, understand, I am asking for information. I am not expressing an opinion.

TROTSKY: Because every Congress of the Party and every Congress of the Soviets was preceded by a discussion by all the people. Everybody had the possibility of expressing his criticism, to oppose comrades to the Central Committee and elect to the Central Committee of the Party.

FINERTY: I understand that there was a full opportunity for discussion and a full opportunity for criticism. What I am asking is: What were the means of popular control, not through the Party, but through the people as a whole, through the people of the Soviet Union as a whole? What would be the means of popular control, or were there any?

RUEHLE: Was the voting by secret ballot or open ballot?

FINERTY: Commissioner Ruehle wants to know if the voting was by secret or open ballot?

TROTSKY: Open ballot. At that time it was a measure not against the people but against the old tradition of fear before the more intelligent people, and so on. In order not to give the possibility to the agents of the bourgeoisie, and so on, to exercise influence, we insisted upon open votes. Later it was transformed into an instrument of oppression against the people. At the beginning, to give the possibility to the majority to say to the exploiters and their agents: “We are the majority; you must be cautious.”

FINERTY: The majority could elect the Commissars?

TROTSKY: The majority elected the delegates to the Congress of Soviets.

FINERTY: And they in turn, elected the Commissars?


FINERTY: But these Commissars were still subordinated to the selected workers’ party, the Communist Party?

TROTSKY: Not subordinated. They were elected on the basis of their program. It was the Bolshevik program. They, at their election, declared: “I am a Bolshevik, a member of the Bolshevik Party. You know my program. It is my program, the guide of which is my Central Committee. It is for me the highest authority." Everybody knew it

DEWEY: Might I repeat the question in a little different form? Was there any method outside of discussions and criticism by which the people could control the Party?

TROTSKY: Elections.

FINERTY: Non-members of the Party could control it?

DEWEY: Limit it to the worker. Was there any organized, recognized method by which, aside from criticism and discussion, the worker could control the committees, the different branches of the Party?

TROTSKY: Of the Party or of the Soviet?

DEWEY: Of the Party.

TROTSKY: It was the right only of Party members to change the Party and to control the Party. In the soviets, it was the right also of non-Party members – the Constitution assured to the workers and peasants the right to remove at any time their representatives to the soviets and to elect new ones.

DEWEY: I was not referring to the soviets. I was referring to the governing bodies of the Party.

TROTSKY: The bodies of the Party were elected only by the Party members and submitted only to the Party Congress.

DEWEY: Under these circumstances, how can you say that it was democratic?

STOLBERG: May I interrupt, Dr. Dewey?

TROTSKY: I didn’t say it was democratic in the absolute sense. I consider democracy not as a mathematical abstraction, but as a living experience of the people. It was a great step to democracy from the old regime, but this democracy in its formal expression was limited by the necessities of the revolutionary dictatorship.

FINERTY: That was what I was leading up to, Mr. Trotsky.

TROTSKY: When you speak of democratic control in Russia, you mean such democratic control as is –

FINERTY: Consistent with the interest, as you conceive it, of the dictatorship of the proletariat?

TROTSKY: You mean, Mr. Attorney, the present or the past?

FINERTY: At that time.


FINERTY: At that time. When you spoke of democratic control at that time, you meant such democratic control as was consistent with the dictatorship of the proletariat?

TROTSKY: Yes; absolutely correct.

STOLBERG: Mr. Trotsky, I think possibly this thing can be clarified in my own mind if you explain what you mean by democratic centralism – would that not have answered the questions raised?

TROTSKY: Yes, to a certain extent. Our party was throughout organizationally based upon the principle of democratic centralism. It signified that everybody has the same right of discussion, control and election of the leadership of the Party. The leadership of the Party had the right to direct the Party and later, also the country.

FINERTY: We will – I am coming to this later. But in connection with this question, when you speak of democratic control in Russia or the Soviet Union, you are still speaking now – I mean in the terms of the present. You are still speaking of the democratic control of the Party rather than of the democratic control by the people as a whole of the government?

TROTSKY: No. We, as the Opposition, asked for Party democracy, soviet democracy and trade-union democracy. There were three principles. Even in 1924 and 1925 we used to insist on the secret vote because the people were terrorized by the bureaucracy.

FINERTY: I am anticipating, so I will go back. Now, will you define for the record, Mr. Trotsky, what you mean by the dictatorship of the proletariat?

TROTSKY: The dictatorship of the proletariat signifies that all the exploiters are eliminated from the right of determining the fate of the country, and all the elements who support them are automatically eliminated. Only the revolutionary class of the proletariat and all the exploited masses which support the proletariat have the right to determine the fate of the country.

FINERTY: What I want to know is, if within that definition is included the meaning of a dictatorial government?

TROTSKY: Yes; of a dictatorial government. It is a government which represents the dictatorship of the proletariat. The class cannot be the government. The class ―

FINERTY: What I really want to ask you, is, if the more correct designation would be the dictatorship for the proletariat, rather than the dictatorship of the proletariat?

TROTSKY: The question is of the relationship between the Party and the class and between the Central Committee and the Party. If the Party has the full confidence of the workers and the elections are free, then these two formulae coincide, because it is impossible for a class directly to form the government. The whole class cannot do it. There is the trade union with secretaries and directing bodies. If the secretaries are elected freely – if a GPU does not have the means of oppression – it is a democratic means of election in the trade unions.

FINERTY: It is a democratic method of selecting the dictatorship?

TROTSKY: We named that the dictatorship of the proletariat as the first experience of genuine proletarian democracy.

FINERTY: But the government in essence is a dictatorial government?

TROTSKY: Dictatorial government? You must make it precise. The question is, if its dictatorial power is directed against the people – if the GPU, if the function of the GPU – is to oppress the masses, or if the GPU and the newly acquired rights of the masses are against the exploiters. It is a simple definition.

FINERTY: Well, the dictatorship, whether for better or worse, is a dictatorship?

TROTSKY: Formally, yes. But my opinion is, that in Norway, where the Government is Socialist, we have a genuine dictatorship of the shipowners. The state is governed exclusively by the shipowners. The Socialist Government is a decorative ornament in this instance.

FINERTY: Now, I understand that your belief is that even such a democratic organization of the Communist Party and of the Soviet government as was possible within the limits of the theory of dictatorship has been set aside by Stalin through the means of the bureaucracy.

TROTSKY: Transformed into its contrary; not only changed, but transformed into its contrary.

FINERTY: Into its contrary?


FINERTY: In other words, it has become a purely bureaucratic government?

TROTSKY: Defending the privileges of the new caste, not the interests of the masses. Because, for me the most important criterion is the material and moral interests of the masses, and not only constitutional amendments. It is important, but it is subordinated in my conceptions to the real material and moral interests of the masses.

DEWEY: Might I ask one question? Just on what you said, did I understand that you hold that these privileges have reached a point where there are class divisions in the Soviet Union?

TROTSKY: It is difficult to get a strict social formula for this stage of development, because we have it for the first time in history, such a social structure. We must develop our own terminology, new social terms. But I am inclined to affirm that it is not a genuine class division.

DEWEY: Yet it is a real class. That is the reason why I asked the question.


TROTSKY: I said a caste.

DEWEY: I beg your pardon.

FINERTY: In the Socialist state, Mr. Trotsky, the state controls the forms of production, does it not?


FINERTY: The sources of production and the methods of production?


FINERTY: And in order to have an effective control, the state itself must employ technicians. Isn’t it then inevitable in a Socialist state that the bureaucracy will grow up automatically?

TROTSKY: What do you name a Socialist state? The Socialist state is a transitory form which is necessary to prepare to build up the future Socialist society. The Socialist society will not have any state.

FINERTY: I understand that. But in the intermediate form of the Socialist state, you have an inevitable bureaucracy.

TROTSKY: It depends on two factors which are connected with one another: The productive forces and the power of the country. It is the function of the new régime to satisfy the material and moral needs of the population. Secondly, and what is connected with it, the cultural level of the population. The more the population is educated, the easier it is that everyone can realize the simple functions of an intermediary regulation of distribution. The bureaucrat in a cultivated, civilized country has not the possibility of becoming a half-god.

FINERTY: Demi-god.

TROTSKY: Demi-god, yes.

FINERTY: What I mean is this: It is obviously impossible in a Socialist state, as an intermediary organization, to have a democratic control of industry. I mean, a truly democratic control. It must be a bureaucratic control.

TROTSKY: I repeat, the relationship between the bureaucracy and the democracy depends – the elements of bureaucracy are inevitable at the beginning, especially because we inherited all the past, the oppression and misery of the people, and so on. We cannot transform it in twenty-four hours, this relationship. Here the quantity is transformed into quality. The relationship between them depends upon the material prosperity and the cultural level of the population.

FINERTY: I understand, but we cannot now discuss what the relationship should be between the democracy and bureaucracy. But it is the inevitable result of a Socialist state?

TROTSKY: Not only a Socialist state. Bureaucracy –

FINERTY: Just confine it, if you will, to the Socialist state. Whatever may be good in the Socialist state, the bureaucracy is inevitable from the start?

TROTSKY: I cannot accept that formula, as a Marxist. The first period of the Socialist state is the victory over the bourgeois state. That is the formula of the Marxist – until the time we have reached a state to satisfy freely, as with a table d’hôte. The rich people have a table d’hôte, wines and jewels. It is not necessary to have a dictatorship when you have a table d’hôte. On the contrary, everybody gets the same things, especially the ladies. When the table is very poor, everybody forgets whether it is a lady or a man. He will take all he can. Then it is necessary to have a dictatorship. The reason for the existence of gendarmes is the misery of the people. In other words, the economic condition has a basic influence on this question.

FINERTY: Limit it this way: When the revolutionary Socialist state takes the place of the former capitalist state, the bureaucracy is inevitable at the start.

TROTSKY: It is an inheritance, just as misery is an inheritance.

FINERTY: Inherited or not, it is inevitable?

DEWEY: May I, before we adjourn for recess, ask one question along the same line? On page 44 of the English translation of The Revolution Betrayed, I find this statement:

If the state does not die away, but grows more and more despotic, if the plenipotentiaries of the working class become bureaucratized, and the bureaucracy rises above the new society, this is not for some secondary reasons like the psychological relics of the past, etc., but it is a result of the iron necessity to give birth to and support a privileged minority, so long as it is impossible to guarantee genuine equality.

I would like to correct the page. It is on page 55. Isn’t that a statement that this dictatorship in the early stage is a matter of iron necessity?

TROTSKY: In a poor, backward and isolated workers’ state, yes. To a certain degree, not an absolute measure, but to a certain degree it is an historical necessity.

DEWEY: We will now take a short recess.

DEWEY: Dr. Ruehle wants to ask some questions.

RUEHLE: I would like Trotsky to express himself on the basic differences between administration and democracy ―

TROTSKY: In two words: It is the difference between ―

RUEHLE (through interpreter): Rather, bureaucracy.

TROTSKY: – servant and collectivity. A cooperative, a workers’ cooperative organization has also administrators, but they are not demi-gods, simply functionaries. The chief of the GPU is not a simple functionary. He is somewhat of a demi-god, or three-quarters god. (Laughter) It depends upon the quality of the members and upon their general cultural level.

FINERTY: Then, Mr. Trotsky, whether or not it is an inevitable incident of a Socialist state, or a variant of a Socialist state that there be a bureaucracy, there is a tendency, unless it is controlled, that the bureaucracy will grow up.

TROTSKY: The growth of bureaucracy in the Soviet Union is the reason of the backwardness of the Soviet Union and its isolation.

GOLDMAN: The result.

TROTSKY: Result, yes. If the workers of Germany had won power in 1918 during their revolution, the economic combination of Soviet Germany and Soviet Russia would have given formidable results on the economic and cultural basis of these two countries. This terrible bureaucracy could not have a place in the Soviet Union. It is not a Soviet Union of an abstract principle. The material factors and the ideological factors are determinant. I am sure that the proletarian dictatorship in a more cultivated and civilized country would have an absolutely different appearance; and the notion of the dictatorship would have a different sound to our ears, in a more cultivated country.

DEWEY: And Russia, the Soviet Union, was a backward and undeveloped country, historically?


DEWEY: Then, in the Soviet Union, it was necessary that the bureaucracy grow up?

TROTSKY: Yes, in so far as the Soviet Union remained isolated. With the help of more advanced peoples it could have – or could shorten the period of bureaucracy and attenuate it.

FINERTY: Now, Mr. Trotsky, that leads to my question, if you can answer it briefly: What has Stalin done to perpetuate the bureaucracy instead of shortening it, and what would you have done to shorten it?

TROTSKY: He declared in 1927, openly, “You cannot remove these cadres except by civil war.” That is, the bureaucracy cannot be removed, except by civil war. He proclaimed officially that the bureaucracy is independent of the people, of the Party and non-Party people.

FINERTY: If you can, will you refer to that declaration?

TROTSKY: Yes, in August 1927. I quoted it in Radek’s statement. Radek named it in December 1927 as the formula of the Bonapartist régime.

FINERTY: Can you briefly state how you would have shortened its dominion, or controlled the power of the bureaucracy?

TROTSKY: You will, Mr. Attorney, place me in a very difficult situation. You will place me in a régime which is created by the bureaucracy, and you will ask of me that I conduct myself as an angel. It is impossible. It is necessary to smash up the bureaucracy. I cannot do it. Only a new political revolution can do it.

FINERTY: Let me put it this way, Mr. Trotsky. Had the Left Opposition been successful and had it not been expelled in 1927, what measures would the Left Opposition have taken to prevent the growth of the bureaucracy?

TROTSKY: First, the Left Opposition was not expelled accidentally. It was the defeat of the German proletariat, the defeat in China and the defeat in Austria. We were also defeated with the world proletariat. It explains why we are not in office. Secondly, in our platform we gave measures which were not a panacea, but which we considered necessary measures to attenuate the oppression of the bureaucracy. It was the secret vote in the Party, in the soviets, in the trade unions and the different enterprises.

FINERTY: You advocated the secret vote beginning with, I believe, 1926-1927?

TROTSKY: Then, freedom of speech, discussion and criticism against the bureaucracy. Then, the abolition of the civil paragraph in the penal code, by which the bureaucracy tries to stifle the workers, the more critical workers. That is the gradation of measures which we proposed in our platform.

FINERTY: The recent Constitution does purport to accord the secret vote. Now, do you think that will not operate to control the bureaucracy?

TROTSKY: It will have the same consequence as the secret vote in Germany. Hitler did not touch the Weimar Constitution, the democratic Constitution. It was an astonishment for everybody. Everybody believed that Hitler would change the Constitution, but the Constitution remains. But he broke the backbone of the Constitution. That is all he did, and even the secret vote gave him the majority.

FINERTY: In other words, you don’t believe the new Constitution affords any means of controlling the bureaucracy? The only possibility is a revolution against the bureaucracy?


FINERTY: You gave, as one of the reasons for the bureaucracy and its strength, the isolation of the Soviets as the only Socialist state, and you believe that if the Socialist revolutions had succeeded in Germany, in China and Italy, there would be less of a chance for the bureaucratic control in Russia?


FINERTY: I also have understood from your direct testimony that an opportunity for the Socialist revolution is afforded by war between the capitalist states; is that correct? In the event of war between capitalist states, it gives an opportunity for Socialist revolutions?

TROTSKY: No; for a Socialist revolution, it – war sharpens social contradictions and augments the dissatisfaction of the masses.


TROTSKY: It creates conditions for uprisings and so on. But it is absolutely not sufficient for the Socialist revolution.

FINERTY: There must be the basis of the Socialist revolution at the time?

TROTSKY: Yes. For the Socialist revolution, it is necessary that the proletariat wishes to take power, and that it has at its head a party capable of conducting that revolution.

FINERTY: The proletariat must be educated to want the Socialist revolution, and must have some organization to effect it if the opportunity is present?


FINERTY: Where there is such education and such organization, would it not be in the interest of the Soviet Union to foment war in such capitalist states?

TROTSKY: I don’t see any reason for that, because we have had, in these twenty years after the war, many revolutionary situations across the world. We have now a revolution in Spain. Why must we look for war? There is a revolution in Spain. It is a question of making this revolution victorious. We have now in France a situation which I characterized for two years as pre-revolutionary.


TROTSKY: Pre-revolutionary. It means, turning either to fascism or to a proletarian state. It is only a question of who will win, the fascists or the proletariat. We have not the necessity for a war. A war can only destroy this pre-revolutionary situation.

FINERTY: Would a war now between France and Germany provide an opportunity for the Socialist revolution in both countries?

TROTSKY: It depends – I repeat, revolution is not an automatic machine. The revolution is made by living people, conducted by certain organizations under certain slogans, and so on. If the party of the proletariat is not on a level corresponding to the necessities of the revolution, then the war between Germany and France will finish with the victory of fascism in France and the material destruction of Germany for twenty or thirty years, without any perspective for Socialism.

FINERTY: Has it then ever been within your philosophy to foment war and revolution in other countries?

TROTSKY: War and revolution?

FINERTY: To foment war in other countries as an opportunity for a Socialist revolution?

TROTSKY: I can only repeat what I answered my lawyer; it is the same as if in my political revolution I was favorable to cholera and other epidemics. Never.

FINERTY: I understood you yesterday to say that one reason it was not in your political philosophy is because you don’t believe in artificial revolutions.

TROTSKY: Yes. To provoke an artificial revolution is impossible. Revolution is an historical event which must be produced by the development of society. War can accelerate the revolution, but this acceleration can be disfavorable ―

INTERPRETER: Unfavorable.

TROTSKY: – to the proletariat if it is not prepared for revolution.. Now, in this situation – we will be concrete – war in Europe will be fatal.

FINERTY: Have you ever, while in power in Russia, when you, Stalin and Lenin were jointly in power, or since, advocated fomenting war in any country?


FINERTY: Are you in favor of propaganda in foreign countries as a means of educating the proletariat for revolution?

TROTSKY: Naturally. It is the task of the Fourth International.

FINERTY: And that means that you would be in favor of propaganda in every capitalist country to educate the masses in that country for the social revolution?

TROTSKY: Yes. It is not my invention, Mr. Attorney.

FINERTY: I understand that.

TROTSKY: It is in the tradition of Marxism, beginning with the Communist Manifesto of 1847. I remain in the same tradition. It does not mean or signify that I am personally in every country occupied with propaganda.

FINERTY: But as a political measure, it is one you advocate?

TROTSKY: Yes, the revolutionary education of the masses.

FINERTY: Now, you referred, in your direct examination, to your knowledge that the government of Stalin, the present Soviet Government, had used bribery in foreign countries?


FINERTY: You instanced the case of England. I want to ask you if you know whether that Government has used bribery in the United States?

TROTSKY: I must make the question precise. I am in favor of mutual aid of different workers’ organizations across the whole world. During strikes it is necessary to aid the workers of a country where the strike occurs. In the past, we had the greatest aid from the United States, material and financial aid, in order to fight against Tsarism. It is not bribery; it is solidarity. If the Russian Communist Party aids another party abroad, it is not bribery.

FINERTY: I understand.

TROTSKY: But it is another thing when the Soviet bureaucracy – or better, the summits of the Soviet bureaucracy – when they use money in order to win friends to the Soviet Union, so-called friends and lawyers – lawyers in the juridical sense of the word – authors, artists and from time to time, also lawyers who defend the GPU. You can be sure from the start that they will defend not me – they will defend the GPU. I say they are corrupted people, corrupted by the Russian bureaucracy. I would be ready to establish a list of such people internationally corrupted by the Soviet bureaucracy. They name them “Friends of the Soviet Union.” Not all friends are corrupted. But between the friends ―


TROTSKY: – among the friends, the directing elements are in the hands of such people. It is the system of the Soviet bureaucracy to demoralize them by direct bribery and indirect bribery. Then people say that he or she is personally impartial in the Soviet trial. “Is he a friend of Trotsky’s or not?” No, that is not the question. To everybody who defends the Soviet trial, “Have you a contract with the publishing house of the Soviet state, or not?” Because it is one of the more important means of corruption of journalists and authors abroad. The Soviet state has not a literary convention with other countries, and for “good” authors, it has good contracts.

FINERTY: I understood you to refer to the bribery of labor leaders in Great Britain.

TROTSKY: Also. It was in 1924 and 1925. Please do not forget that I am separated from the scene since the beginning of 1927. I don’t have direct observation.

FINERTY: During that time have you had knowledge of any similar bribery among United States labor?

TROTSKY: At that time it did not exist, because the question – the American labor movement did not play such a great rôle for the Soviet Union. It was too far – the question of recognition was not so acute. No; I am not sure. I am sure that the leading elements of the Communist Party have every privilege described in the Constitution of the Soviet Union. I am absolutely sure of the leading Communists. I suppose that many authors are also very privileged. The Masses – I believe the paper, the Masses

STOLBERG: The New Masses.

TROTSKY: It also is a semi-official paper of the GPU, and has every privilege from the Soviet state.

FINERTY: When you speak of privilege, do you mean subsidies?

TROTSKY: Also, directly and indirectly.

FINERTY: Did you ever believe that the Soviet government as such has a right to support revolutionary movements in other countries by financial aid?

TROTSKY: Mr. Attorney, it is not the support of revolutionary movements, it is the support of counter-revolutionary movements.

FINERTY: I am not speaking of the present Soviet Government. You might strike out that question. What I want to ask you is this: As a political matter, you think that the government of a Socialist state has a right to support revolutionary bodies in foreign capitalist states?

TROTSKY: I declared yesterday that I considered the Soviet State as a big trade union which has become the state, a big trade union organized as the state after the political victory. Now, the big trade union has the duty to help the weaker trade unions in other countries.

FINERTY: Do you know whether the Soviet Union permits capitalist propaganda in the Soviet state?

TROTSKY: I believe that now the propaganda of Stalin is an unconscious but very effective preparation for the victory of capitalism in the Soviet state.

FINERTY: Does it permit capitalist propaganda?


FINERTY: It does not. Would you as head – were you the head of a Socialist state, would you permit open capitalist propaganda?

TROTSKY: It depends on the concrete situation, upon the strength of the state. If it is a rich state with a civilized population, which became a Socialist state, capitalist propaganda would be so ridiculous that it would be ten times more ridiculous to forbid it. It would not be necessary to have a one-party dictatorship. It would permit everybody to create a party to advocate the return back to feudalism, capitalism and even to can ―

LAFOLLETTE: Cannibalism?

TROTSKY: Cannibalism. In this sense, I would give the advice to be totally liberal in a civilized country. If you permit me, I can present an article written about this, for Liberty, a very reactionary paper, in which I presented my ideas on a Socialist state in the United States. I wrote that article about two or three years ago. I expressed ―

GOLDMAN: You were against chewing gum in that article.

TROTSKY: Yes; sure.

DEWEY: You did not state under what conditions you would forbid capitalist propaganda. Under what conditions would you forbid the propagation of capitalist propaganda?

TROTSKY: Where, in the Soviet Union?

DEWEY: In any Socialist state.

TROTSKY: I don’t forbid at all. We have now the Soviet Union. If we had two or three states more with the proletarian state, then the danger of capitalist restoration would disappear totally, and it would not be necessary to prohibit capitalist propaganda. We would perhaps create a museum in every paper. It would be – in this sense – it would be a museum for the remainders of all the old culture.

FINERTY: You take in their right – you recognize the government right of a capitalist state to prevent Socialist ―

TROTSKY: I am not an adviser of a capitalist Government, but I can only remark.

FINERTY: In other words, if you had the Government you would permit advocating criticism of the Government, freedom of speech?

TROTSKY: What state, what time, and under what conditions? It depends. I work not with abstractions, only with realities.

FINERTY: I understood you, on direct examination, to testify that your opposition to individual terror as a political means was, that it was an ineffective political means, while it might be morally justified under certain conditions.

TROTSKY: Totally right.

FINERTY: It was not suitable as a political measure?

TROTSKY: Totally right. If I can give an example – many examples. We are for William Tell, not for Gessler, in Switzerland. We are for the glorious heroes of the Irish people, not for their oppressors.

FINERTY: Does Engels recognize their moral position?

TROTSKY: Yes, not only recognized, but clarified it.

FINERTY: But as a political measure, would have thought them mistaken?

TROTSKY: Yes, especially when the working class begins mass activity. Because it preceded working-class mass activity; it was, in fact, without mass support. It was an individual measure. In our history, the terrorist Narodnaya came before the appearance of the proletariat.

FINERTY: I also understand you believe that individual acts of terror are inevitable in the reaction of oppressed people against their oppressors. That is, under an oppressive government, individuals will react and express their reaction by assassination, individual assassination.

TROTSKY: We have the fact of the assassination of Kirov by Nikolayev. It is not accidental. This act, in a so-called Socialist country, is the symptom of an insupportable oppression from the bureaucracy. In that case, I say to any other Nikolayev: “You are opposed to the bureaucracy. You are ready to sacrifice yourself. It is not the way, to kill Kirov. That means nothing. You must explain to the masses the necessity to change the political regime.”

FINERTY: And the only result of such an individual assassination is to give the Government in power the chance to exterminate the opposition?

TROTSKY: Absolutely correct.

FINERTY: So that, as a political measure, you would be against the measure of terror, individual terror, because it gave an opportunity for exactly what the Soviet Government did today?


FINERTY: Do you recognize mass terror as an effective political means of obtaining power?

TROTSKY: Yes. We have that now in Spain. What is the civil war? It is mass terror against the oppressors.

FINERTY: I don’t mean merely revolutionary war. I mean mass executions.

TROTSKY: Permit me to answer more concretely. We began our revolution, our October insurrection. It was successful without victims. We had the great majority for us. Then the first insurrection was by General Krasnov, a Cossack general. We arrested him, and we set him free. It was stupid of us. He then organized the White Army in the South, and he assassinated thousands and thousands of workers and peasants. When began the Red Terror? After the intervention of the foreign capitalist powers. We were absolutely surrounded from all sides. They organized in Yaroslav an insurrection paid for by the French Generals and by British agents. Then the people remarked about the great danger of the restoration of the old regime. The historical responsibility for the severe terror of our revolution we must reject on the capitalist interventionists.

GOLDMAN: You mean, place on the capitalist interventionists.

TROTSKY: Yes, place.

FINERTY: That is, the only effective political means to remove that opposition under those circumstances was mass execution?

TROTSKY: Yes; if they try to execute me, I must defend myself. When the masses begin to defend themselves against the dirty hangmen, the masses become severe. It was absolutely revolutionary. It was not possible to say, “Please observe the form of a judicial discussion,” against the hangmen armed to the death.

LAFOLLETTE: Mr. Trotsky ―

TROTSKY: Excuse me. I am not advocating severity, but I am ready to carry all the responsibility for all the terroristic acts committed by the Russian people against their oppressors.

FINERTY: Does that include the executions of the bourgeoisie, the Russian bourgeoisie?

TROTSKY: It included them in so far as the Russian bourgeoisie participated in the insurrection in the White Armies, and so on. The Russian bourgeoisie found courage for this intervention only when supported by foreign armies.

FINERTY: But, as a political measure, you believe it is within the right, the political right of a government to protect itself by mass executions?

TROTSKY: It is not an abstract right. I hope that after one or two victories in other countries the revolutions will become absolutely friendly revolutions.

FINERTY: Bloodless revolutions?

TROTSKY: Bloodless revolutions; yes. But the pioneers were everywhere severe people, on the road of revolution. I believe the Americans know that better than myself. It is the character of the pioneers, your pioneers, on the road of the revolution.

LAFOLLETTE: I have here a pamphlet by a man by the name of P. Lang, published by the Workers Library Publishers in New York.

STOLBERG: It is a Communist organization.

LAFOLLETTE: It is a Communist Party organization. It is entitled Trotskyism and Fascism. I quote from page 44:

Only a few months before the publication of the indictment, in the recent case of the terrorist center, Trotsky published an article in the New York New Militant of May 9th, 1936, entitled The New Constitution of the USSR, in which, with exceptional cynicism, he extolled the employment of individual terror in the Soviet Union. In this article he wrote: “... At the dawn of the Soviet power the terrorist acts were perpetrated by SR’s and the Whites in the atmosphere of the still unfinished civil war. When the former ruling classes abandoned all their hopes, terrorism disappeared as well. Kulak terror, traces of which are observable even now, was always local in character, and was an accompaniment of the partisan war against the Soviet régime. This is not what Molotov had in mind. The new terror does not lean upon either the old ruling classes or the Kulak. The terrorist of the recent years are recruited exclusively from among the Soviet youth, from the ranks of the YCL and the party. While utterly impotent to solve those tasks which it sets itself, individual terror is, however, of the greatest symptomatic importance, because it characterizes the sharpness of the antagonism between the bureaucracy and the wide masses of the people, especially the younger generation. Terrorism is the tragic accompaniment of Bonapartism. [Our italics.]”

Does that not sound a little like a justification of terror under the bureaucracy?

TROTSKY: I show that some basis ―

GOLDMAN: Some causes.

TROTSKY: The bases are the consequences of bad nourishment, but it is not a justification of the bases. I gave the reason for the bases only. The terrorist acts in the Soviet Union are a terrible thing, which compromise, in the eyes of large masses the ideal of the Soviet state. I must explain why terrorist acts occur in the Soviet state. It is an explanation.

FINERTY: I understand that statement you have read as exactly what Mr. Trotsky has testified: That he recognizes that under an oppressive bureaucracy there will be individual acts of terror as one phenomenon of that oppression; that it is important – terrorist acts are important as indicating the existence of oppression.


FINERTY: Of a great oppression.

TROTSKY: I will show from the other side the same thing, but on a lower plane – the fact that stealing is very large ―

GOLDMAN: Very extensive.

TROTSKY: – very extensive in the Soviet Union. It is for the Socialist state very compromising that they must punish stealings by civil means. What does it signify? I would say a miserable economic basis leads to stealings. And the bureaucracy punishes them. It is an explanation. It is a very symptomatic fact, this stealing.

FINERTY: Incidentally, Mr. Trotsky, the Soviet state has lately enacted a law, has it not, to punish by death, thefts by children as young as twelve years?

TROTSKY: I am not sure if it is not now abolished.

STOLBERG: Repealed?

TROTSKY: But it was a law.

FINERTY: When was that law passed?

TROTSKY: It was in 1932. I believe in 1932; yes. Precisely at a moment when they proclaimed that Socialism was totally reached in the Soviet Union. It coincided.

LAFOLLETTE: If you permit me, I will continue the quotation:

"Each individual bureaucrat is afraid of the terror; but the bureaucracy as a whole successfully exploits it for the justification of its political monopoly. Stalin and Molotov did not discover any gunpowder in this field, either.”

TROTSKY: It must be a Stalinist pamphlet in your hand.


TROTSKY: They now commit a small frame-up, because the quotation eliminates my conclusion, and is given only for the purpose of introducing an error in the minds of the readers.

LAFOLLETTE: There is one more question I would like to put: I want to ask you what your opinion is of the idea that the revolutionary terror must almost necessarily lead to the Thermidorian terror.

TROTSKY: Also, in such a general form I cannot accept it and cannot deny it. Terror in a revolution is an indication, a symptom of weaknesses, not of strength.

LAFOLLETTE: Of weakness?

TROTSKY: Of weakness – such terrible means. The revolution on a low basis must have more terror than a revolution on a higher basis. In a revolution on a low basis you incur more danger of counter-revolution.

LAFOLLETTE: But was not France at the time of its revolution a pretty highly developed country?


STOLBERG: Of its day?

TROTSKY: Yes, of its day, but it is not a criterion. The people were poor and uncultured, and must crush all the foes from all other countries.

DEWEY: We will take a short recess now.

DEWEY: Miss LaFollette wishes to ask further questions.

LAFOLLETTE: I want to go back to the French Revolution, and the Thermidor, for a moment. As I understand it, the pressure of the Civil War on seven fronts – the soviets, I take it, were surrounded by many forces, so that there was in the Soviet Union, if my understanding is correct, produced a consolidation of power and a militarization, as you said the other day, of the Party and the soviets. It immensely increased, did it not, the power, the concentrated power in the hands of the Party and the Government organizations of the Party? In other words, the Party was forced, as I understand it, more or less to strengthen the bureaucracy during that period because it was a period of emergency. Isn’t it true, that after that had happened, after it had been thoroughly militarized and the power concentrated in the hands of the governing party, it was extremely difficult and perhaps impossible to go back to a democratic basis? In other words, wasn’t the germ of the bureaucracy contained in that situation and did not therefore, that situation lead to the Thermidorian reaction and the Thermidorian terror? Isn’t it political more than economic?

TROTSKY: It is political and economic, because if Russia had been richer and a more cultured country at the time of the Civil War, our victory would have been assured in three to six months and not in three years. The prolongation of the Civil War created the centralization and militarization of the Party and the state power. The political reasons coincided with the economic reasons here. Of course, I will not deny that the germs of the bureaucracy were given in that situation. It is a historical fact. It is only a question, as we say in the Hegelian terminology, of transforming the quantity into quality. Everybody has some cruel instincts, but not everybody is an assassin. We had the germs in our régime at the beginning – the bureaucracy. We tried to attenuate the bureaucracy, not to give them the possibility to win power. Then came a certain change, and that change had a personification, a personified expression.

All the leaders of the Revolution were removed and banished and new leaders came into power. The same transformation, the same change, took place in the composition and in the organization of the state and other places, not only in the summits but in all the layers of the state. The best fighters, the rank-and-file fighters, were removed and imprisoned, and new elements, more conservative, without revolutionary traditions, without political education, came into power.

FINERTY: If I understand your direct testimony yesterday, Mr. Trotsky, you think that, whether or not Stalin was the instigator of the powerful bureaucracy, he is now in part at least, a victim of it?

TROTSKY: That is my opinion. I repeat, he is simply a man who will still his soil


TROTSKY: – thirst with salt water.

FINERTY: You know our allegorical character, Frankenstein? You mean, he has created a Frankenstein?


FINERTY: You mean, in your belief, he is partly a victim of the bureaucracy he has created?

TROTSKY: Yes, and that is why terrorism in this connection is absolutely stupid. Because the bureaucracy can replace Stalin and Molotov. That is why individual terrorism is stupid.

FINERTY: That is, if the bureaucracy now determines that Stalin is a danger, that bureaucracy can frame a trial against him as anyone else?

TROTSKY: I don’t think it is so near, but it is possible. Yagoda prepared the trials – the chief of the GPU prepared the trials. The famous chief of the GPU was Yagoda, who had ten years to prepare all the trials. Now he has been in prison for two months. Yezhov, the new chief of the GPU, will put to him the same questions as Vyshinsky put to Drobnis, “You are preparing the poisoning of Stalin, or not?” Similar questions. He will answer, “Yes.”

FINERTY: Perhaps I had better take precaution and say, alleged to have framed trials.

TROTSKY: Pardon?

FINERTY: I spoke of the present Government framing trials. I had better use alleged – alleged to have framed trials.

TROTSKY: It is for me.

FINERTY: I want to ask you, Mr. Trotsky, to assume for a moment that the confessions of Zinoviev and Kamenev, Radek and Pyatakov, the leaders, the alleged leaders, were true to this extent: That they had at one time been members of the Party; that they had then gone in opposition to the Party; that they had then capitulated and, after their capitulations, according to their confessions, had gone and betrayed the Party. I am asking you, for a moment, to consider that it is true they did it. As a political measure, would you consider the Soviet Union justified in accusing these men?

TROTSKY: No, if they were not in connection – if they were to be in connection with Germany and Japan, yes. If you ask me if they betrayed Stalin in the sense that they began to criticize him again, it is another thing.

FINERTY: In other words, would you not think their executions justified as a political measure to remove the Party opposition?

TROTSKY: We didn’t even execute the terrorist, the Social Revolutionary terrorist who put two bullets into Lenin’s body or those who killed Uritsky and Volodarsky. There was a famous trial in 1921.

We admitted Vandervelde, the leader of the Socialist International, as a lawyer for the defendants – Vandervelde and Kurt Rosenfeld, one a German and one a Belgian, two prominent members of the Second International. They visited them in prison, without any control – also friends of the terrorists. Our verdict was death, but the Central Executive commuted it under the condition that the Party abandon terror against us. They are living now.

FINERTY: Assume for a moment – I understand from your answer that you don’t believe, even as a political measure, that mass executions are justified merely to remove political opponents?

TROTSKY: It is suicide. It is a form of political suicide. That is why I affirm that Stalin’s policy now is the beginning of his end, a terrible end.

LAFOLLETTE: I want to ask a question about the Social Revolutionaries.

FINERTY: May I follow that up just a moment? Assume, however, that the Government of the Soviet Union believes that the defendants whom they executed were actually counter-revolutionaries attempting to restore a capitalist state. Under these circumstances, would you think the executions justified?

TROTSKY: I must then ask, what action they committed, what were their means? If they genuinely wished, only by propaganda, to prepare to restore capitalism, it would be absolutely sufficient to give the evidence to the masses and kill them morally. It would be better to give that evidence than to kill them physically.

FINERTY: You mean, discredit them morally?

TROTSKY: Morally, in the eyes of the masses.

FINERTY: Then, unless the allegations made against all these defendants were actually proved, sufficiently legally proved, you would not think, as a political measure, their executions justified?

TROTSKY: If they killed Kirov, if they were in connection with the German Gestapo and so on, I would be for the ―

GOLDMAN: Executions?

TROTSKY: – executions.

FINERTY: If they actually sabotaged?

TROTSKY: Killing workers, poisoning workers? I proclaimed before the world that if the impartial Commission finds myself guilty of these crimes, I will be ready – I will do it – to give myself into the hands of the executioners of the GPU.

BEALS: Mr. Trotsky, you were saying that terrorism is an ulcer, an abscess on the body politic, which you do not advocate. Evidently these abscesses are a natural thing in the Soviet Union. You are now telling us of terroristic trials when you were part of the Soviet State. Will you distinguish for us why these abscesses existed in your régime and why they still seem to exist today?

TROTSKY: It is expressed, I believe, in the quotation read here by Miss LaFollette. The terroristic acts in the first period were the continuation of the Civil War, the remainders of the vanquished privileged class. The most fighting elements, the most militant elements, wished not to recognize the defeat. They tried to have their revenge by individual terror. They were terrorist people coming from the other camp, against us. Now, the new terrorists come from the camp of the Communist Party – new people, young people like Nikolayev and his accomplices, or alleged accomplices. They are all educated by the Communist Party. They are incensed at the Soviet bureaucrats, and that is the form of their protest. It is a totally new chapter. The one chapter is closed and the new chapter begins. That is the difference.

FINERTY: In other words, the bourgeois survivors were terrorists during the early part of the Soviet régime, and now the terrorists are coming from the ranks of the Communist Party itself?


FINERTY: Let me ask you this: In the event of a political revolution overthrowing the Stalin Government and the bureaucracy, would it, in your opinion, be a necessary political measure, a defensive political measure, to execute the bureaucracy?

TROTSKY: No, I don’t believe it. I presented yesterday a quotation of 1933. Stalin’s bureaucracy did not accuse me of terrorism openly or of a systematic terroristic plot. But they affirmed that in case Trotsky came into office, he would persecute the whole bureaucracy, he would remove them from their posts. I repeat the article I presented yesterday, and I say, I understand it is not a question of my coming now into office. It is not a practical question. But, in principle, this is not the question. I quoted yesterday Ulrich, who was an honest person and who is caught by the machine. He commits this most dishonest action. It is a question of the régime.

FINERTY: In other words, even in the political revolution and the overthrow of the bureaucracy, you would not contemplate as a necessary, even a defensive means, the personal destruction of the bureaucracy, or their personal extermination?

TROTSKY: I am sure that when the hour of the revolution comes, the political revolution, in Russia, it will be such a powerful uprising of the masses that the bureaucracy will become immediately disoriented and disorganized, just as the Tsarist régime in the February revolution.

FINERTY: So, Mr. Trotsky, it does not lie within your political philosophy either to exercise individual acts of terror against the bureaucracy or mass terror against it?

TROTSKY: Mass terror depends upon the circumstances of the bureaucracy itself. I repeat, I hope, even in the critical moment, this powerful and terrible bureaucracy would be absolutely pitiful, and then even the revolution could be more bloodless than the February Revolution in our country and also the October Revolution. But I cannot carry any responsibility for that. If the bureaucracy will oppose the masses, they will naturally take severe measures. But individual extermination, no. It is not a revolutionary perspective.

FINERTY: And not a political necessity?

TROTSKY: Not a political necessity.

LAFOLLETTE: Mr. Trotsky, I have here a pamphlet by Earl Browder, the secretary of the American Communist Party, published by the Workers Library Publishers, Incorporated. It is a speech which he made in Madison Square Garden on February 5, 1937. It is a Communist publishing company. Mr. Browder says – he quotes from your article on the bureaucracy:

To come to power through the might of foreign armies, however, demanded from the Trotskyists an inner program acceptable to the capitalist powers. Trotsky formulated such a program in April,1930, printed in his Opposition Bulletin No.10. This called for the restoration of capitalism in Russian economy. I quote:

“Retreat is, nevertheless, inevitable. It is necessary to bring it about at the earliest possible time ... To discontinue mass collectivization ... discontinue jumps in industrialization ... to revise the question of the tempo of industrialization in the light of experience ... to abandon ‘ideals’ of a self-contained economy ... to work out a new, alternative plan calculated on the widest possible interaction with the world market ... It is impossible to emerge from the present contradiction without crises and struggle.”

There are a great many omissions here.

TROTSKY: It is quoted from the prosecution speech of Vyshinsky, with the same falsifications.

LAFOLLETTE: I can leave that out.

TROTSKY: Mr. Browder is not so attentive to my writings as to quote them originally. He has to repeat Mr. Vyshinsky.

LAFOLLETTE: May I go on from that? Mr. Browder says:

That last-quoted thought of Trotsky was further concretized by him in his book, The Soviet Union and the Fourth International, published in the United States in February 1934, in these words:

“No normal, ‘constitutional’ ways remain to remove the ruling clique. The bureaucracy (the Soviet power) can be compelled to yield power into the hands of the proletarian vanguard (the Trotskyists) only by FORCE.”

TROTSKY: Also from Vyshinsky.

GOLDMAN: Also Vyshinsky?

LAFOLLETTE (reading):

From Mexico, Trotsky sent a signed statement to the Hearst newspapers: “Inside the [Communist] Party, Stalin has put himself above all criticism and above the State ―“

TROTSKY: This is from Troyanovsky, it sounds to me. I know very well the quotations.

LAFOLLETTE: The quotation goes on: “‘It is impossible to displace him except by assassination.’”

TROTSKY: I am not the most – what is the word? I am not the most ardent reader of the Hearst press; I must confess it. I never saw this issue and the possible deformation of my statement. I said in my statement what I say here. Permit me in two words to explain this misuse, not only by Browder, but by Troyanovsky. I made statements, and in all my writings, I declare it is a falsehood: I am not a terrorist. It is contrary to my ideas. Then Troyanovsky takes one copy of the Hearst press, and says: “But Trotsky confesses he is a terrorist.” This is contrary to all my statements and all my speeches. I make a separate statement for Hearst and for Troyanovsky. In this statement I am supposed to confess myself as a terrorist. Troyanovsky presents himself to me as an absolutely stupid man. I see no other explanation. Because to them I am a terrorist who conceals his terrorism. That is the accusation. What was the reason for me to confess it especially in the Hearst press? I cannot understand it. The quotation, the fragmentary quotation of Mr. Browder, is only a repetition of the fragmentary quotation of Mr. Troyanovsky. Permit me to put a rhetorical question:

If Mr. Troyanovsky, in the United States, in a great civilized and advanced country, with liberty can make such an affirmation before the forum of public opinion, can you imagine what exaggerations the chiefs of the GPU permit today during their investigations in the cellars and behind the scenes? It is a form of frame-up. He connected me with Hearst. In the same way, Troyanovsky openly brought up my connection with Hearst, and affirmed that Trotsky confessed. It is a confession like Zinoviev’s and the others. You have here a new embryo of the Moscow trials.

BEALS: Mr. Trotsky, may I ask why you do not like this connection with Mr. Hearst now? Have you not published many articles in the Hearst press?

TROTSKY: Nothing; not one article. There is here a gentleman representing him as a journalist. I notified at the beginning of the trial – I declared I cannot accept here a representative of the Hearst press. I give my statements to everybody, to the representatives of all the papers, all the agencies, even the conservative, but who are relatively honest. It is not my appreciation of the Hearst press. I refused systematically any statement for the Hearst press.

LAFOLLETTE: Then, you don’t make statements to the Hearst press?

TROTSKY: Not only the Hearst press, but the agency connected with the Hearst press. What is the name?

STOLBERG: The Universal Press.

TROTSKY: I have refused it categorically during my sojourn.

BEALS: You have never had your articles published in the Hearst press?

TROTSKY: No; it is only the slander of the Communist Party.

DEWEY: You mean, none of your things has ever been printed?

TROTSKY: Yes; they steal many things. What can I do against them? From the Russian Bulletin I received clippings of the Hearst press quoting articles of the Russian Bulletin, from my articles. What can I do?

STOLBERG: About a month ago I saw a long article by you in the Hearst paper in New York.

FINERTY: Purported?

STOLBERG: Well, I want to describe how it appeared. Following the heading, it said, “By Leon Trotsky.” Do you mean to say they stole your article?

TROTSKY: I mean, stole.

STOLBERG: Did you ever actually give your by-line, “By Leon Trotsky"?

TROTSKY: I asked my friends whether I could make a complaint before the American court.

STOLBERG: If you could sue them?

TROTSKY: Yes. Because this “By Leon Trotsky,” by me, was not for the Hearst press. It was written for the other press, and given to the correspondents. In what way Hearst got it in his hands, I don’t know.

DEWEY: Mr. Trotsky, since this statement appeared in one of the Mexican papers this morning, for the sake of the record I would like to ask you if you ever received, directly or indirectly, any money from the Hearst papers, or any agency associated with them?


DEWEY: This statement is made this morning, that is the reason why I asked you that.

GOLDMAN: Mr. Trotsky, during the years 1929-1930-1931, while you were in Prinkipo, did you ever write directly or indirectly for the Hearst press?

TROTSKY: I never wrote direct for the Hearst press. I am not sure my literary agents in the United States did not make agreements to give one interview and article at that time. I am not sure. I never heard they did agree, but it is possible. I was absolutely not orientated on the American press. I had a literary agent who published where he wished. But since the time I know what is the Hearst press – it is some years since my exile – I have never directly had connection with them. Since I know what it is, I have not even indirect connection with them.

DEWEY: Now to come to a really important other matter ―

BEALS: May I suggest that the remarks of Mr. Trotsky are not the opinions of the Commission? We have not gone on record.

DEWEY: Did you, in January, somewhere around the 25th, of this year, make any statement that was published in the newspapers, as you recall?

TROTSKY: January 25th?

DEWEY: Of this year.

TROTSKY: I don’t remember, but we can immediately find all my statements, copies of my statements, and clarify it.

DEWEY: I think the more important thing is, if you did make any statements at that time, we should have it on record.

TROTSKY: Yes; immediately we shall find it.

DEWEY: May I state that this little sidelight regarding the connections, the alleged connections rather, of Mr. Trotsky and the Hearst press, will not appear on record? It is not really relevant to the charges.

TROTSKY: I regret it very much, for my part.

LAFOLLETTE: May I suggest that it go on record, if it does not refer to the Commission? I think it is pertinent to the record.

BEALS: I made the statement. I feel that it should definitely appear in the record, this statement of Mr. Trotsky. But the Commission took no side on the matter of the press.

DEWEY: I correct the statement I made. The record will appear, as Mr. Beals stated.

TROTSKY: I have it only in Russian. It was translated in English and given to the Mexican press here, then taken over by the Hearst press from the Mexican press. All the statements I gave on the 25th of January 1937. They are in the papers associated with the press organizations in the United States, but not Hearst; Havas in France, and one more agency which received this statement – the statement of the 25th of January, in Russian. We can present it in an English translation.

DEWEY: If you please. We will now adjourn this session.

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

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Last updated on: 1.4.2007