Leon Trotsky

Thirteenth Session

(Part 1)

April 17th, 1937, at four o’clock p.m.

DEWEY: We will first repeat the statement made this morning. There will now be an opportunity for questions asked of Mr. Trotsky by the Mexican labor organizations, provided any of them wishes to ask such questions.

(The remarks of Chairman Dewey were translated into Spanish by Dr. Bach.)

ADELAIDE WALKER: They have not arrived yet.

DEWEY: We will give them an opportunity later.

FINERTY: It may be well, Mr. Dewey, to give them an opportunity after the next recess.

DEWEY: I wish now to refer to quite another matter. A considerable and quite legitimate interest has been expressed in the question of the official transcript of the testimony. I am going to ask the official stenographer if there is a statement to make on that.

GLOTZER: I have most of the record finished, and I am going to stay several days to complete the record of the last day and a half, and finish the transcript before I leave Mexico.

GOLDMAN: Before I launch into my closing speech. I am going to ask permission of the Commission to present documents just received on the Copenhagen matter, referring to the questions of Mr. Trotsky’s stay in Copenhagen, and the possibility or impossibility of Holtzman, Berman-Yurin and Fritz David having seen him in Copenhagen. There is a deposition by one Kenneth Johnson of England. There is a deposition by Raymond Molinier of France, and one by Anton Grylewicz, who is now residing in Prague. Then there is a lease showing that someone on behalf of Mr. Trotsky leased a certain villa. These I ask to be considered as part of the folder introduced into evidence as the Copenhagen exhibit, if I am not mistaken.

FINERTY: I suggest, Dr. Dewey, that these be received subject to the right of the Commission to examine the documents at some future time.

DEWEY: They will be accepted under the conditions as stated.

GOLDMAN: President of the Commission, Mr. Finerty, ladies and gentlemen of the Commission: Mine is not the task of examining and analyzing the evidence which was produced at the last two Moscow trials on behalf of the Soviet Government and here on behalf of Leon Trotsky; nor shall I attempt to answer the speeches of Vyshinsky, who prosecuted the defendants in Moscow. It is a rather unenviable position for an attorney to be in, where he is compelled to state that his client will argue his own case, but I am reconciled to being in such a position because the client is none other than Leon Trotsky. Trotsky needs no attorney to analyze the evidence and answer Vyshinsky. It is my desire simply to present before the Commissioners some aspects of the case which may be considered of a legal character, although not everything that I shall say will readily find its place under that category.

In my opening statement I asserted that if we wanted to be technical we could readily claim that all we needed to do was to raise a reasonable doubt as to the truth of the accusations made against Trotsky. It would then become the duty of the Commission – at least under the Anglo-Saxon procedure – to find Trotsky not guilty. But I stated that we would not rely on such a technicality; that, on the contrary, we would assume the burden of proving Trotsky’s innocence beyond all doubt.

Was I too rash in making such a statement? It might have seemed so before we presented our evidence. Some, perhaps, would say that my boldness was due to my failure to understand that it is impossible to prove a negative – a proposition which, taken generally, is quite correct.

If Trotsky did not plot to assassinate the leaders of the Soviet Union, if he did not enter into an agreement with the German fascists and Japanese militarists to surrender Soviet territory to these two powers, and if he did not instruct his fellow conspirators, allegedly, to commit acts of wrecking and diversion, how can he prove that by documentary evidence? There are no documents of events that never transpired or that were not even thought of.

Were it simply a question of a general accusation, without the production of any evidence by the accusers, then an accused would indeed be in a bad position. For a defendant would be unable to prove his innocence – that is, to prove a negative – if the accuser would not be required to prove his accusation by producing evidence of time, place, occasion, circumstance, etc. That is why under all forms of judicial procedure it is necessary for the prosecution to produce some evidence of the alleged guilt of the accused.

The prosecution in the Soviet Union was in a dilemma. Merely to have asserted the guilt of Leon Trotsky and his son, Leon Sedov, without producing some evidence of direct contact on the part of some of the defendants with Trotsky or his son, would have weakened its case tremendously. On the other hand, to manufacture evidence of such direct contact would mean to risk the possibility of a grave slip-up that might compromise the whole case. A perfect frame-up is just as difficult to create as it is to commit a perfect crime. In spite of the risk involved, however, the Soviet prosecution decided to pursue the second course.

That was fortunate for us. We were thereby afforded an opportunity to prove the innocence of Leon Trotsky and his son beyond all doubt. We are now able to prove a negative, to prove the innocence of Trotsky and his son, by demolishing the chief pillars of the prosecution’s evidence, by proving to the satisfaction of every person with an independent mind that the testimony of Holtzman, Berman-Yurin, Pyatakov and Romm, who claimed to have met and talked with Trotsky, was completely false. And since the testimony of all the other defendants depended directly and fully upon the testimony of those whom I have just mentioned, the whole case falls to pieces, and before us is revealed a frame-up as crude and vile as the frame-ups against Tom Mooney and Sacco and Vanzetti. It is because we knew that we had at our disposal incontrovertible evidence of the falsity of the testimony of the key witnesses in the Moscow trials that we dared to assume the burden of proving the innocence of Trotsky and his son. We were neither bold nor rash when we assumed that burden at the opening of the hearing; we were merely confident, because we knew what we had in our possession. And we have met that burden clearly and decisively.

There are those like D.N. Pritt, the English lawyer who has rushed to the defense of the Soviet prosecution, who will claim that by proving Trotsky innocent and claiming that the prosecution in the Soviet Union was a frame-up we have placed ourselves in a “grave logical difficulty” – to quote Pritt’s words in his pamphlet At the Moscow Trial. Because, forsooth, to use his own words, “it follows inescapably that Stalin and a substantial number of other high officials, including presumably the judges and the prosecutor, were themselves guilty of a foul conspiracy to procure the judicial murder of Zinoviev, Kamenev and a fair number of other persons.”

In the first place, for the Commission to find Trotsky innocent does not necessarily mean that it also finds that the prosecution is guilty of a frame-up. In the second place, I cannot for the life of me see any logical difficulties for those who, like myself, believe in the innocence of Trotsky and in the guilt of Stalin and his henchmen as creators of a frame-up. The difficulty, logical or otherwise, exists for Stalin and his prosecutors and judges, and not for those who accept Trotsky’s innocence because he is proved to be innocent.

But, then, if Trotsky is innocent, are not the defendants at the Moscow trials also innocent, and if they are innocent why did they plead guilty and why did they confess?

From a strictly logical point of view, it does not follow that to pronounce Trotsky innocent is also to assert that the defendants were innocent as well. For it may be that the defendants were guilty and dragged Trotsky in because the prosecution compelled them to do so, or because they had some personal grievance against Trotsky. But it has been our contention all through, and it is now our contention, that the defendants – at least those whose revolutionary career is known to us – were just as innocent as Trotsky is. It is true that the Commission does not have to pass on that point, just as it does not have to pass on the question of frame-up. The Commission will undoubtedly cling to its original intention of finding Trotsky and his son guilty or innocent of the charges leveled against them. That does not, however, preclude us from asserting that the inevitable conclusion of the evidence presented in the Soviet court and in this hearing is that the chief defendants of the Moscow trials are also innocent.

If innocent, why did they plead guilty? I shall not enter into a discussion of the possible reasons for their pleading guilty. We have introduced the article of Dr. Anton Ciliga, printed in the International Review, which gives a first-hand description of the methods used to extort confessions from Soviet prisoners by the GPU.

We have also referred you to Victor Serge, who, like Dr. Ciliga, spent several years in prison in the Soviet Union because of his opposition to the Stalinist régime. We sincerely hope that a sub-commission will take their evidence in Paris. Here I want to stress the point, that the fact that any one of a dozen theories advanced to explain the incredible “confessions’ proves to be incorrect, does not make the confessions true when, as a matter of fact, they have been proved false in every essential particular. The theory explaining the existence of a certain phenomenon may be incorrect; that does not, however, do away with the phenomenon. I hope that all of the Commissioners, as well as the rest of us, will live long enough to get a true confession by the GPU, explaining the methods used to compel the defendants to give false testimony against themselves and Trotsky and his son.

A legitimate question arises: Since the defendants pleaded guilty, what was the necessity for their lengthy confessions and the voluminous testimony? The answer by the Stalinist attorneys is that upon a plea of guilty it is proper for a court to hear evidence for possible mitigation of punishment. That is correct. But if that were the real reason and not simply a pretext, we would not have close to five hundred pages of testimony printed in an official report of the Zinoviev-Kamanev trial. If that were the real reason and not simply a pretext, the Commissariat of Justice of the USSR would not print those reports in various languages and sell and distribute them by the tens of thousands.

It is clear, both from a reading of the official reports of the two last trials and from the nature of the distribution of those reports. that the purpose for the taking of the defendants’ testimony was not to determine the degree of punishment but to convince a skeptical world.

Obviously, there were far better methods that the prosecution could have used to convince an astonished and skeptical world opinion. It would be asserting that Stalin is the greatest of fools to say that he did not realize that trials involving leaders of the October Revolution in an alleged conspiracy to commit terrorist acts and to help Hitler and the Mikado would cause the greatest of excitement. Was he anxious to allay all doubts? It could have been accomplished very easily. Responsible organizations could have been invited to send their attorneys and representatives to talk privately with the accused, to cross examine them at the trial if necessary. Doubters and cynics could have been put to rout had such a procedure been followed. It was a duty that the leader of the Soviet Government had to the workers of the Soviet Union and the workers throughout the world.

Oh, yes – advantage can be and has been taken of the technicality that the Soviet Government is a sovereign state, and it is not meet and proper for a sovereign state to have anyone interfere with its functioning. But such an attitude is false to the very roots, and only condemns those who advance it, as lacking in an attitude of responsibility to the working masses. For the sake of clearing Soviet justice of all suspicion, the Soviet Court was in duty bound to do the very thing I suggested. The Soviet Government, under Lenin and Trotsky, did this very thing when the Social Revolutionaries were on trial, and it was proof that they had nothing to hide. The failure of the Stalinist Government to do the same thing, the haste with which the defendants were tried and executed, are very powerful bits of circumstantial evidence that the accusations could not Stand the light of day.

To this hearing the Commission invited our adversaries and enemies to come and cross examine our chief witness, Leon Trotsky.

I am only sorry that they did not accept the invitation of the Commission. Your invitation indicated a sincere desire to arrive at the truth; their refusal to accept indicated a feeling on the part of our enemies that they knew they could not possibly shake our testimony, which is based on absolute truth.

Oh, if we had only been invited to cross examine the witnesses and defendants at the Moscow trials! How eagerly and gladly we would have accepted such an invitation! I understand that more Moscow trials are to come. Let the Soviet prosecution invite me to be present and cross examine anyone testifying to the same things that the defendants of the last trials testified to. I don’t claim to be among the best cross examiners, but I can say with great confidence that had any fairly good lawyer been permitted to cross examine the defendants at the Moscow trials, this hearing would not be necessary. Out of their own mouths it could have been proved that the principal defendants were lying against Trotsky and against themselves.

Here I want to mention something about the nature of our evidence. I raise this question because petty lawyers, anxious to defend the Soviet trials, will undoubtedly point out that some of our evidence would not be admissible under Anglo-Saxon rules of evidence. That may be true. In my opinion, however, the sub-commission acted wisely in not following the strict rules of evidence that prevail in American courts. First, because the sub-commission is not a court in the ordinary sense of the term; if anything, it is more in the nature of a Congressional investigation committee which investigates matters without following any strict rules of evidence; and, second, because the nature of the case is such that it is necessary to permit wide latitude in the introduction of evidence, in order to get at the truth.

FINERTY: Mr. Goldman, I don’t want to interrupt your speech, but the Commission had a legal adviser. We received all the evidence subject to investigation. Any evidence which would not be admitted as legal evidence in a court, ultimately will not be received – that is, evidence not verified by subsequent investigation. I understand that to be the sense of the Commission. Such evidence as has been received might very well be received in any court. The exhibits should be verified and an exhibit stricken out if not verified. I want to say for the Commission that we think – so as to make it clear – to say we received no evidence finally at this hearing. It is not received under rules of evidence permitting its proper introduction.

GOLDMAN: I am glad that Mr. Finerty explained the attitude of the Commission. However, I must say frankly that I don’t agree with that attitude, for the following reasons: In the first place, the Commission is not a court in the ordinary sense of the term, and has not the powers that a legal court has. The Commission is more of an investigating body to attempt to get at the truth. I think that Mr. Finerty will agree when I say that very frequently, in American courts, the application of the strict rules of evidence under Anglo-Saxon procedure sometimes hides the truth. I think that the Commission could be more likened to an investigating committee.

FINERTY: Mr. Goldman, I stated that we are not governed by the rules of court. We will, of course, have to take the best evidence under the circumstances. We have not accepted any evidence now, except subject to subsequent verification.

GOLDMAN: The very nature of the case, Mr. Finerty – you have to agree with me that the very nature of the case is such that to attempt to apply strict rules of evidence would mean to throw out most of the evidence. But I won’t raise this point. I think that Mr. Finerty will agree with me – at least I hope so.

Of course, the Soviet prosecution and its defenders should be the last to raise any question concerning the introduction of testimony which under Anglo-Saxon rules of evidence would be inadmissible. Conservatively speaking, ninety-five per cent of the testimony contained in the Soviet official reports of the trials with reference to Trotsky would be absolutely excluded in an American court.

The difference between that part of the evidence which we introduced at this hearing and the evidence admitted in the Moscow trials which would be excluded in an American court is this:

Whereas our “inadmissible” evidence is subject to verification if the Commission is in the least doubtful of its truth, the “inadmissible” evidence of the Moscow trials cannot be verified either because the witnesses who testified are dead or because we are unable to enter into the Soviet Union for the purpose of verifying the testimony given at the Moscow trials.

Matters have been gone into at this hearing which might be considered irrelevant. On our part, we have not objected to a single question put by any of the Commissioners, although problems might have been involved that could not possibly throw any light on the real issue – that is, whether or not Trotsky is guilty of the charges made against him. It was evident that Trotsky was willing to discuss all questions of history and theory upon which there may be and there are legitimate differences of opinion.

Let me illustrate: It is well known that Trotsky is bitterly opposed to the theory of Socialism in one country. Is it the duty of the Commission to pass upon the correctness of that theory? Obviously not. It may be that certain members of the sub-commission agree with Stalin that Socialism can be built in one country. Would they be disqualified for that reason from serving on the Commission?

Of course not – unless they would draw the very far-fetched conclusion that opposition to such a theory must inevitably lead to acts of terrorism or to plots with Hitler to surrender to him some Soviet territory.

Other questions of great theoretical importance were raised. For instance, Mr. Beals, who resigned from the Commission and whose attitude was such that we can justifiably conclude that his motives in asking some questions were not of the best, wanted to know Trotsky’s attitude towards the People’s Front Government in Spain.

This question was not, of course, nearly so bad as the one whereby Mr. Beals attempted to find out whether it was not Trotsky who sent Borodin to Mexico in 1919 for the purpose of creating a Communist party and fomenting revolution. The latter question was obviously put with the express purpose of making Trotsky’s presence in Mexico impossible. Trotsky did not even refuse to answer that impermissible question. Of course, he had nothing to conceal, for the simple reason that he never had anything to do with Borodin. On the question of Spain, I doubt whether there are any members on the full Commission who will agree fully with Trotsky. Can it possibly be, however, that the Commission will undertake to pass on the correctness of Trotsky’s ideas as to the tactics to be followed in Spain? That is hardly conceivable. Much less is it conceivable that the Commission, because it disagrees with Trotsky on the Spanish situation, would find him guilty of plotting against the Soviet leaders.

Does this mean that Trotsky’s theories have nothing to do with the charges made against him? Not in the least. We have contended from the beginning that Trotsky’s theories, expounded for four decades, would in themselves be sufficient to disprove the accusations against him. Trotsky’s theories are very relevant to the questions at issue, and we are anxious to have every member of the Commission read everything that Trotsky has written, in order to understand the absolute inconsistency between the accusations and Trotsky’s conceptions. This is of exceedingly great importance, because there are those Stalinist followers and other simpletons who, with an ignorance that is colossal, have the audacity to claim that Trotsky’s ideas on war and international revolution make the accusations against him highly probable – in fact, so probable that he is guilty. Vyshinsky has torn sentences out of their context to prove that Trotsky advocated terrorism. We challenge any honest man who can understand simple language to find a single idea in the works of Trotsky to justify in the slightest the allegations in the indictment of the Soviet prosecution or the evidence of the defendants in the trials.

Our answer to these Stalinists who speculate about the guilt of one who has devoted his whole life to the cause of the working class is, first: Every bit of evidence introduced against him is false; and, second: His whole life, everything he has said, written or done, is overwhelming proof of the falsity of the charges made against him.

Many who feel that the evidence of the defendants in the Moscow trials cannot be believed are at a loss to understand why these trials were staged. If there is anything that can clear up the mystery, it is the last statements of the main defendants. Read those last statements carefully, and the reason why the trials were held becomes clear as daylight. I read from Sokolnikov’s last plea, on page 555 of the official report of the Radek-Pyatakov trial:

I express the conviction – or, at any rate, the hope – that not one person will now be found in the Soviet Union who would attempt to take up the Trotskyite banner. I think that Trotskyism in other countries, too, has been exposed by this trial, and that Trotsky himself has been exposed as an ally of capitalism, as the vilest agent of fascism, as a fomenter of world war who will be hated and execrated by the millions everywhere.

I therefore think that inasmuch as Trotskyism, as a counter-revolutionary political force, ceases to exist, has been finally smashed, that I and the other accused, all the accused, may nevertheless plead, citizen judges, for clemency.

Read Pyatakov’s, and especially Radek’s, last pleas, and between the lines you will read as follows: “You demanded that we degrade and stultify ourselves in order to expose Trotsky and Trotskyism. Because we are broken and demoralized individuals, because of the mental torture we have suffered, because we fear that you will torture our loved ones as you are torturing us, we have agreed to say everything that you dictated to us. Now grant us our lives, and, if not, then shoot us and save our fathers, mothers, wives and children.”

Can there be any doubt that the Moscow trials are staged in order to discredit in the eyes of the Russian workers and the workers throughout the world the chief representative of the current of revolutionary Marxism, which is the greatest danger to the ideas and practices of Stalinism? Why is that necessary? Trotsky himself, in his final argument. will discuss why that is necessary.

It must be repeated over and over again that the “defendants” in the Moscow trials were not in reality defendants; they were witnesses against the real defendant, who was not present – Leon Trotsky. In passing, I might ask the Stalinist attorneys to explain how it happens that the Soviet court convicted Trotsky and his son in their absence and why, after having been convicted, they should be subject to immediate arrest and trial if they should be discovered on Soviet territory? We can expect as little logic from the Soviet court as truth.

Vyshinsky, in his closing argument in the Pyatakov-Radek trial, made a remarkable statement. “In order to distinguish truth from falsehood,” he said (page 513 of the official report of the trial), “judicial experience, is, of course, sufficient; and every judge, every procurator and every counsel for defense who has taken part in scores of trials knows when an accused is speaking the truth and when he departs from the truth for some reason or other.” From this statement something very peculiar follows, as far as Vyshinsky himself is concerned.

He was, I believe, the prosecutor in the Zinoviev trial of January 1935, where the defendants assumed moral responsibility for the assassination of Kirov. According to the very penetrating Vyshinsky, the defendants departed from the truth because, indeed, they were guilty not only of moral responsibility but of actually organizing the assassination. Did Mr. Vyshinsky at that time proclaim to the world that the defendants had departed from the truth? Perhaps he did not have sufficient experience at that time.

Then came the Zinoviev-Kamenev trial of August 1936. By that time Vyshinsky had more experience. The defendants at that time admitted that they were directly responsible for the murder of Kirov and that they plotted to murder other leaders of the Soviet Union. But they did not divulge some very important “facts’; they testified nothing at all to the alleged existence of any parallel center nor to their alleged connections with the German and Japanese Governments nor to their program for the reestablishment of capitalism. Were they lying? Vyshinsky, at the Radek trial, accused them of wholesale lying.

But why did not Vyshinsky, who has surely taken part in scores if not hundreds of trials, charge the defendants of the Kamenev-Zinoviev trial with concealing the whole truth at the time of their testimony?

The reason is obvious: Vyshinsky knew that Zinoviev, Kamenev and the other defendants were lying, for the simple reason that he knew that the defendants were repeating the lies prepared for them by Vyshinsky with the help of the GPU and at the command of the master before whom he bends his knees so frequently and humbly.

I have also had experience in scores of trials, but I claim no such penetrating powers of detecting truth from falsehood as Mr. Vyshinsky. Together with other persons of fair intelligence, I make mistakes of judgment. But there are undoubtedly many instances where all of us – and we need not be lawyers or judges or prosecutors – become possessed of a profound conviction that a certain person is or is not telling the truth.

For a week you have listened to the testimony of Leon Trotsky. Judge by the frankness of his replies, even in those instances where he knew the members of the Commission could not be in agreement with him, judge by his whole demeanor as a witness, and is it possible to conceive that Trotsky was uttering the least falsehood? In my humble opinion, only one whose mind is completely closed by ignorance, hatred and prejudice can have the least doubt about the truthfulness of the testimony presented here.

I think I am correct in saying that we all feel that we are participating in a historic event, And to me, at least, it is not historic simply because it involves Leon Trotsky, a person who has achieved a great reputation by his writings and revolutionary activities. To those of us who have devoted our lives to the struggle for a great social ideal which we believe will abolish all exploitation of man by man and which will raise mankind to an infinitely higher cultural level, the hearing which the Commission is conducting has a far greater significance than simply clearing the name of a great man who is innocent. We are anxious to clear the name of Leon Trotsky, because that will renew the faith of hundreds of thousands of workers and intellectuals in the movement which is mankind’s only hope, because that will, to some extent, heal the terrible wound inflicted on the Socialist movement by the monstrous frame-up concocted by those who have dragged the word “Socialism” into the dust.

For myself, for thousands of others who have been acquainted with Trotsky’s writings and activities, who have participated in a common struggle for the liberation of the working masses from all forms of degrading slavery, there was no necessity for a hearing, to convince us that Trotsky is innocent. We are not, we cannot be, “impartial”. For not only Trotsky, but we ourselves were subjected to attack; from the very first moment when the accusations were made we recognized that the accusers were the criminals, and not the accused.

But it would be absurd for us to deny that there are tens of thousands, if not millions, of workers and intellectuals, believers in and sympathizers with the ideas of Socialism, who have been bewildered and whose faith has been shaken. Trotsky is innocent; we are innocent; and in spite of the smallness of our number, in spite of the powerful forces arrayed against the movement represented by Trotsky, we have a profound faith that the truth will ultimately conquer. We do not blind ourselves to the tragic fact, however, that the one who is responsible for the accusations and the bureaucracy which he represents are at the head of the first workers’ state created by such huge sacrifices on the part of the Russian workers. And it is because of that, that the blow to the Socialist movement is a severe one indeed.

The Commissioners, I presume, do not see eye to eye with me on the question of the significance of this hearing for the cause of Socialism, because their ideas are not the ideas of the movement represented by Trotsky. The Commissioners may look at the whole matter simply from the point of view of affording an accused man a chance to present his case before the bar of world opinion. Very well – that is, by far, not an unimportant task. The report and verdict of the Commission will be of tremendous significance, regardless of the point of view adopted by the Commissioners as to the significance of this hearing. And the fact that your report and your verdict cannot end in a formal judgment and in a writ of execution granted by a court of law supported by all the powers of a state, does not in the slightest detract from the value of that report and verdict. On the contrary, its moral value is all the greater.

What can that report, what can that verdict be?

You have listened to the evidence; you have examined Trotsky; you can read the record. It is hardly believable that anyone, under such circumstances, should not agree with us that the innocence of Trotsky has been proved beyond the shadow of a doubt. We promised at the very beginning to destroy completely the structure of falsehoods erected at Moscow. We have fulfilled our promise. And if there will be those who will not be convinced by our evidence or by the report of the Commission, then they or their posterity will be convinced by the victory of the ideas represented by Leon Trotsky.

DEWEY: First, I want briefly to make a statement that I am not a lawyer, and the other members of the Commission are not lawyers. We cannot pass upon the technical question about evidence raised. We shall take under advisement the statement of Mr. Finerty, but, in advance of that, I want to say that while we cannot speak for the full Commission, I am confident that it is the attitude of the preliminary Commission that any testimony presented here that is not reasonably confirmed or verified by subsequent investigation will not be taken into account in any final report the Commission may make. On the other hand, whatever evidence or testimony we find that impugns or impeaches the evidence or testimony presented here will certainly be given due consideration, serious consideration. We will now take a recess. I wish to repeat that immediately after the recess representatives of the Mexican workers’ organizations will have an opportunity to ask questions of Mr. Trotsky.

DEWEY: I will now ask the representatives of the Mexican labor organizations to ask such questions as they wish to put to Mr. Trotsky.

(Chairman Dewey’s remarks were translated into Spanish by Dr. Bach.)

(At this point, Ramon Garibay, the representative of the Casa del Pueblo, asks the following questions: 1. Why is Stalin persecuting Mr. Trotsky in this way? What are the reasons? 2. Where would Lenin be if he would still be alive, and if Stalin would have the same power today? 3. Has Stalin made a pact with the bureaucracy of the world? 4. Is Mr. Trotsky in accord with the world proletariat? These questions were translated by Dr. Bach.)

BACH: The workers’ delegates are from the Casa del Pueblo.

DEWEY: The first questions are presented to the Commission?

BACH: Yes; they are addressed to the Commission, and the last question is for Mr. Trotsky to answer,

DEWEY: Regarding the first three questions, we are unable to make any reply at this time, because we are down here simply to collect, in a preliminary gathering, any evidence and facts upon which the decision of the full Commission must be based. We have not as yet the privilege at this time of answering these questions. (Diego Rivera translates Dr. Dewey’s remarks into Spanish.)

LAFOLLETTE: Repeat the last question to Mr. Trotsky.

BACH: The first three questions are directed also to Mr. Trotsky, they say. So that Mr. Trotsky may answer all four. Mr. Garibay says that the first three questions are for the Commission and that they are not only for the Commission, but also for you, Mr. Trotsky.

TROTSKY: I understand.

BACH: The last one only for you, and the others for the Commission.

TROTSKY: I will only suggest that my closing arguments, genuinely closing, for this Commission – that they involve also the answers to the questions put to me by the representatives of the Mexican organizations. It would be better for them to receive the answers through the translation of my closing argument. The answers can be made in my closing argument, because they are more fully presented than in the short answer that I can give orally. I believe they would consent to accept this procedure. (Rivera translates Trotsky’s remarks.)

DEWEY: Are there more questions?

GOLDMAN: I would suggest that we proceed.

BACH: They agree that Mr. Trotsky shall answer the questions in his final speech.

DEWEY: The representative of the Pueblo labor organization says they are satisfied that Mr. Trotsky shall give his answers in his final speech. Mr. Finerty, do you want to make a statement now or later?

FINERTY: I think it might be well, Mr. Chairman, in order to make clear both to Mr. Trotsky and to Mr. Goldman and perhaps to the public, that I advised the Commission that the rule of evidence that should apply in receiving evidence here is what is well known, as a fundamental rule of evidence – “the best-evidence rule.” That is, that the Commission should take the best evidence adapted to the issues before it and which the circumstances permit. I think that in that connection I pointed out that the Commission is in a somewhat difficult position. The alleged accomplices of Mr. Trotsky are dead, and their alleged confessions are not subject to cross examination. Those who conducted the trial of the defendants, though asked to participate in this investigation and offered a full opportunity to participate in this investigation – have refused to participate, and they leave the Commission an a position where it must determine, among other things, the question of the fairness of the trials by which the Soviet Government claims to have established Mr. Trotsky’s guilt. Under these circumstances, we could only take the best evidence which in the honest judgment of the Commission, is available to it. What I have stated to the Commission, is that even this situation would not excuse the Commission in accepting Mr. Trotsky’s unsupported denial of his guilt – accepting unsupported statements not subject to cross examination by the Commission. Mr. Trotsky, in this hearing, has, as far as possible, supported his denials by circumstantial evidence, and has placed at the disposal of the Commission all his archives, all the documentary evidence to bear on this question. The Commission has tentatively accepted the depositions and sworn statements of certain persons. It is expected that these depositions or sworn statements are subject to the right of the Commission to examine these persons personally – either by this sub-commission or by the full Commission. I want Mr. Goldman to understand why I have advised the Commission that all the evidence offered by Mr. Trotsky which would not ordinarily be acceptable under strict rules of evidence has been accepted only subject to final authentication by the Commission through future investigation. I just want to make it clear that we have a practical situation to face, and in that practical situation we are endeavoring to apply only such rules of evidence, as in the best authenticated opinion, will permit the Commission to obtain the best evidence within these limits. We have received his evidence under these conditions.

DEWEY: Mr. Trotsky will now sum up.

TROTSKY: I consider my closing speech as closing only for this Commission, as I mentioned. I present only a part of my arguments today. The other part I present in writing, in order to finish tonight. I will begin with the question, why the investigation is inevitable. If you permit me, I read my statement sitting.


It is entirely beyond dispute that the trials of Zinoviev-Kamenev and Pyatakov-Radek have aroused the utmost distrust of Soviet justice, among workers’ and democratic circles throughout the entire world. However, it was precisely in this affair that full clarity and unimpeachable judicial power of persuasion were absolutely necessary. The accusers, like the accused – at least the most important of them – are of world-wide renown. The aims and motives of the participants had to flow directly from their political position, from the characters of the persons involved, from their whole past. The majority of the defendants have been shot; their guilt – we assume – must have been absolutely proved! However, if one leaves aside those who can be convinced of anything, no matter what, by simple telegraphic orders from Moscow, Western public opinion has flatly refused to support the accusers and the hangmen. On the contrary, alarm and distrust have grown into horror and revulsion. Moreover, no one supposes that a judicial “mistake” has been made. The Moscow authorities could not have shot Zinoviev, Kamenev, Smirnov, Pyatakov, Serebryakov, and all the others “by mistake” To lack confidence in the justice of Vyshinsky is, in the present case, directly to suspect Stalin of a judicial frame-up, with political aims. There is no room for any other interpretation.

But perhaps sentimental public opinion has been misled by preconceived sympathies for the accused? This argument was used more than once in the cases of Francisco Ferrer in Spain, of Sacco, Vanzetti and Mooney in the United States, etc. But so far as the Moscow defendants are concerned, there can be no question of partisan sympathies. The most informed section of world public opinion, it must be plainly said, no longer had either confidence in or respect for the principal defendants, in view of their numerous prevlous recantations and, above all, their conduct in court. The prosecution represented the accused, with their assistance, not as capitulators to Stalin, but as “Trotskyites’ who had assumed the cloak of capitulation. Such a characterization, to the extent that it was accepted as true, could in no way increase sympathy for the accused. Finally, “Trotskyism” itself today is represented by a tiny minority in the workers’ movement, which is in sharp struggle with all other parties and factions.

The accusers are in an incomparably more favorable position. Behind them is the Soviet Union, with all the hopes of progress which it represents. The rise of world reaction, especially in its most barbarous form – fascism – has turned the sympathies and hopes of democratic circles, even the very moderate ones, toward the Soviet Union. These sympathies, to be sure, are very hazy in character. But that is precisely why the official and unofficial friends of the USSR are not inclined, as a general rule, to unravel the internal contradictions of the Soviet régime; on the contrary, they are ready in advance to consider all opposition against the ruling stratum as voluntary or involuntary cooperation with world reaction. To this it is necessary to add the diplomatic and military ties of the USSR, taken in the general context of present-day international relations. In a number of countries – France, Czechoslovakia, to some extent Great Britain and the United States – purely nationalist and patriotic sentiments predispose the democratic masses in favor of the Soviet Government, as the adversary of Germany and Japan. It is not necessary to mention that, to cap this, Moscow has at its disposal powerful levers, tangible and intangible, with which to exert pressure on public opinion in the most widely separated layers of society. The agitation about the new Constitution, “the most democratic in the world,” which was made public, not accidentally, on the eve of the trials, has aroused still more sympathy for Moscow. An overwhelming preponderance of a priori confidence was thus assured to the Soviet Government at the outset. Despite all this, the omnipotent accusers have not convinced and have not conquered world opinion, which they tried to take unawares. On the contrary, the authority of the Soviet Government dropped sharply after the trials. Implacable adversaries of Trotskyism, allies of Moscow, and even many traditional friends of the Soviet bureaucracy, have demanded verification of the Moscow charges. It is enough to recall the steps taken by the Second International and the International Federation of Trade Unions in August 1936. In its incredibly rude response the Kremlin, which had counted on a complete and absolute victory in advance, exposed the full depth of its disappointment. Friedrich Adler, secretary of the Second International and, consequently, an implacable foe of Trotskyism, compared the Moscow trials to the witchcraft trials of the Inquisition. The well known reformist theoretician, Otto Bauer, who considers it possible to declare in the press that Trotsky is speculating on a future war (a statement which is not only false but also absurd!), is compelled, despite all his political sympathy for the Stalinist bureaucracy, to recognize that the Moscow trials are judicial frame-ups. The New York Times, an extremely prudent newspaper and far from having any sympathy for Trotskyism, sums up the end of the last trial in the following words: “The burden of proof lies not on Trotsky but on Stalin.” This single, crushing phrase reduces the juridical persuasiveness of Moscow’s court procedure to zero.

If it were not for diplomatic, patriotic and “anti-fascist” considerations, the lack of confidence in the Moscow accusers would assume incomparably more open and vigorous forms. This can be easily demonstrated by a secondary but extremely instructive example. In October of last year my book The Revolution Betrayed was published in France. Several weeks ago it appeared in New York. Not one of the many critics, most of them my adversaries – among them the former French Premier Caillaux – so much as mentioned the fact that the author of the book has been “convicted” of an alliance with fascism and Japanese militarism against France and the United States. No one, absolutely no one – not even Louis Fischer – considered it necessary to compare my political conclusions with the charges of the Kremlin. It was as if there had never been either trials or executions in Moscow. This single fact, if one thinks about it, is irrefutable proof that the thinking sections of society, beginning with the most interested and most sensitive country, France, not only have not accepted the monstrous accusation but have, quite simply, cast it out with scarcely concealed disgust.

We cannot, unfortunately, say what the stifled population of the Soviet Union thinks and feels. But in all the rest of the world the toiling masses have been seized by a tragic confusion which poisons their thought and paralyzes their will. Either the entire old generation of Bolshevik leaders, with a single and sole exception, has really betrayed Socialism for fascism, or the present leadership of the USSR has organized a judicial frame-up against the founders of the Bolshevik Party and the Soviet state. Yes, that is precisely how the question stands: Either Lenin’s Political Bureau was composed of traitors, or Stalin’s Political Bureau is composed of falsifiers. There is no third possibility! But it is precisely because there is no third possibility that progressive public opinion cannot, at the risk of its very existence, evade making this difficult and tragic choice and explaining it to the popular masses.


The oft-encountered, semi-official objection that the work of the Commission can “politically harm” the USSR and help fascism constitutes – to put it mildly – a compound of stupidity and hypocrisy. Let us for a moment grant that the charges of the Court against the Opposition have some basis – that is, that dozens of men were not shot for nothing. In that case, it can be little trouble for a powerful government to produce the materials from the preliminary investigation, to fill in the gaps in the records of the court proceedings, explain the contradictions, and dispel doubts. In such case an examination could only increase the authority of the Soviet Government.

But what if the Commission laid bare the premeditated fraud of the Moscow charges? Would not political caution then dictate avoiding the risk of an investigation? Such a consideration, seldom expressed candidly and fully, is based on the craven notion that one can fight the forces of reaction with fictions, humbug and lies, as if the best remedy for curing a sickness consisted in refraining from calling it by name. If the present Soviet Government is capable of resorting to bloody judicial frame-ups to deceive its own people, it cannot be the ally of the world proletariat in the struggle against reaction. Its internal inadequacy must in this event reveal itself at the first major historic shock. The sooner the infection is exposed, the sooner the inevitable crisis comes, the greater the hope that it can still be overcome in time by the living forces of the organism. On the other hand, closing one’s eyes to disease means only to drive it deeper internally. This would lead to a great historic catastrophe.

Stalin rendered his first great service to Hitler through the theory and practice of “social-fascism.” He rendered his second service through the Moscow trials. These trials, in which the greatest moral values are crushed and violated, cannot be blotted out from the consciousness of mankind. It is possible to help the masses recover from the wound inflicted upon them by the trials only through complete clarity and the full truth.

The opposition of a certain type of “friend” to the investigation. which in itself is a crying scandal, arises from the fact that even the most zealous defenders of Moscow justice lack inner conviction of the soundness of their case. They cover their secret fears with completely contradictory and unworthy arguments. An investigation, they say, is “intervention in the internal affairs of the USSR”! But has not the world proletariat the right to intervene in the internal affairs of the USSR? In the ranks of the Comintern they still repeat: “The USSR is the fatherland of all the toilers.” A strange fatherland in whose affairs nobody dares intervene! If the working masses are suspicious of the acts of their leaders, the latter are under obligation to give them full explanations and every facility for an investigation. Neither the state prosecutor, nor the judges, nor the members of the Political Bureau of the USSR are exempt from this elementary rule. Whoever tries to raise himself above workers’ democracy, by that very act betrays it.

To the above it must be added that the question is not an “internal” affair of the USSR, even when viewed purely formally. It is already five years since the Moscow bureaucracy deprived me, my wife and our elder son of Soviet citizenship. Thereby they also robbed themselves of every special right with respect to us. We have been bereft of a “fatherland” which could defend us. It is but natural that we should place ourselves under the protection of international public opinion.


In his reply of March 19, 1937, to George Novack, the secretary of the American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky, Professor Charles A. Beard motivates his refusal to take part in the Commission of Investigation with principled arguments which have great value in themselves, apart from the celebrated historian’s participation or non-participation in the investigating commission.

First of all, we learn that Professor Beard has made “a careful study of many documents in the case, including the official report of the last Moscow trial,” One understands without unnecessary comment the weight of such a statement from a scholar who knows very well what a careful study is. Professor Beard, in a very restrained but at the same time absolutely unequivocal manner, communicates “certain conclusions” to which he has been led by his study of the question. First of all, he says, the accusation against Trotsky rests exclusively on the confessions. “From a long study of historical problems, I know that confessions, even when voluntarily made, are not positive proof.” The word “even” indicates clearly enough that the question of the voluntary character of the Moscow confessions is for this scholar, at the very least, open. As an example of false self-accusations, Professor Beard cites the classic cases of the trials of the Inquisition, along with instances of the darkest superstition. That single comparison, which coincides with the development of the thought of Friedrich Adler, secretary of the Second International, speaks for itself. Furthermore, Professor Beard deems it proper to apply a rule which governs American jurisprudence, namely: The accused must be considered innocent of there have not been brought against him objective proofs which leave no room for reasonable doubt. Finally, the historian writes that “it is almost, if not entirely, impossible to prove a negative in such a case; namely, that Mr, Trotsky did not enter into the relations of conspiracy charged against him. Naturally, as an old revolutionist, experienced in the art, he would not keep incriminating records of the operations, if he did engage in them. Furthermore, no person in the world could prove that he has not engaged in a conspiracy, unless he had a guard set over him every moment of the time covered by the charges. In my opinion it is not incumbent upon Mr. Trotsky to do the impossible – that is, prove a negative by positive evidence, It is incumbent upon his accusers to produce more than confessions, to produce corroborating evidence to specific and overt acts.”

As has already been said, the conclusions reached are of the highest importance of and by themselves, since they contain an annihilating appraisal of Moscow justice. If unconfirmed confessions of a doubtfully “voluntary” character are insufficient basis for accusing me, they are also insufficient for accusing all the others, This means, in Professor Beard’s opinion, that dozens of people who were innocent or whose guilt had not been demonstrated were shot in Moscow. Messrs. Executioners must reckon with this estimate, made by an exceptionally conscientious investigator on the basis of a careful study of the question.

Nevertheless, I must say that in my opinion Professor Beard’s formal decision – namely, his refusal to participate in the investigation – does not at all follow from his material conclusions. Indeed, public opinion seeks above all to resolve the enigma: Is the charge proved or not? It is precisely this question which the Commission primarily wishes to resolve. Professor Beard declares that he personally has already arrived at the conclusion that the charge has not been established, and that that is why he does not join the Commission. It seems to me that a correct decision would be the following: “I enter the Commission in order to test the accuracy of my conclusions.” It is absolutely clear that the collective decision of the Commission, in which representatives of the various branches of intellectual endeavor are found, will carry much more weight with public opinion than the conclusions of a single person, even a great authority.

Professor Beard’s conclusions, with all their importance, are incomplete, however, even in their material essence. The question does not consist simply in knowing whether or not the charge against me has been established. In Moscow dozens of people have been shot. Dozens of others await execution. Hundreds and thousands are under suspicion, accused indirectly or calumniated, not only in the USSR but also in all other parts of the world. All this on the basis of the “confessions,” which Professor Beard finds himself able to compare to the confessions of the victims of the Inquisition. The fundamental question, consequently, should be formulated in this manner: Who organizes these inquisitorial trials, these crusades of calumny, why, and for what purpose? Hundreds of thousands of men throughout the entire world are firmly convinced, and millions suspect, that the trials rest on systematic falsifications, dictated by definite political aims. It is precisely this accusation against the ruling clique in Moscow that I hope to establish before the Commission. Consequently, it is a question not only of a “negative” fact – that is to say, that Trotsky has not participated in a plot – but also of a positive fact; namely, that Stalin did organize the greatest frame-up in human history.

However, even so far as the “negative facts” are involved, I cannot accept Professor Beard’s over-categorical judgment. He supposes that, being such an experienced revolutionist, I would not keep documents which would compromise me. That is absolutely correct. But neither would I write letters to the conspirators in the least prudent and most compromising way. I would not heedlessly reveal the most secret plans to young people unknown to me, nor entrust them, at our first meeting, with serious terrorist missions. Since Professor Beard grants me a certain credit as a conspirator, I, basing myself on that credit, can fully discredit the “confessions,” in which I am presented as a comic-opera conspirator, primarily concerned with furnishing the greatest possible number of witnesses against myself for the future prosecutor. The same holds true as far as the other defendants, especially Zinoviev and Kamenev, are concerned. Without rhyme or reason they enlarge the circle of initiates, Their lack of prudence, which cries to high heaven, has a deliberately calculated character. All this notwithstanding, there is not a shred of evidence in the hands of the prosecution. The whole affair is built on conversations – more exactly, on recollections of alleged conversations. The absence of evidence – I shall never cease repeating this – not only annihilates the charges, but also is a terrible piece of evidence against the accusers themselves.

However, I also have more direct and, moreover, quite positive proofs of the “negative fact.” That is not so very unusual in jurisprudence. Naturally, it is difficult to demonstrate that in eight years of exile I had no secret meetings – with anyone, anywhere – devoted to a conspiracy against the Soviet authorities, But that is not in question. The most important witnesses for the prosecution, the defendants themselves, are forced to indicate when and where they had meetings with me. In all of these cases, thanks to the circumstances of my mode of living (police surveillance, constant presence of a guard composed of my friends, daily letters, etc.), I can with irrefutable certainty demonstrate that I was not and could not have been at the places named at the times indicated. In juridical language, such positive proof of a negative fact is called an alibi, Furthermore, it is absolutely indisputable that I would not preserve in my archives records of my crimes had I committed any. But my archives are important for the investigation, not for what they lack, but for what they contain. Positive acquaintance with the daily development of my thought and acts over a period of nine years (one year of banishment and eight of exile) is entirely sufficient to demonstrate a “negative fact” – namely, that I could not have committed acts contrary to my convictions, to my interests, to my whole character.


The agents of the Moscow Government are themselves well aware that the Moscow verdicts cannot stand without the support of authoritative, expert opinion. For this purpose the English attorney Pritt was secretly invited to the first trial, and another English attorney, Dudley Collard, to the second, In Paris, three attorneys – obscure but quite devoted to the GPU – tried to use for the same purpose the shingle of the International Juridical Association, By arrangement with the Soviet Embassy, the obscure French attorney Rosenmark, acting under the cover of the League for the Rights of Man, issued an expert opinion no less benevolent than ignorant. In Mexico, the “Friends of the Soviet Union” have proposed to the “Socialist Lawyers’ Front” – by no means accidentally – that they undertake a juridical investigation into the Moscow trials. Similar steps are apparently being prepared at the moment in the United States, The People’s Commissariat of Justice in Moscow has published in foreign languages the “verbatim” report of the trial of the seventeen (Pyatakov, Radek, etc.), the better to obtain from authoritative jurists certification that the victims of the inquisition have been shot entirely in accordance with the rules established by the inquisitors.

In fact, a certification of a purely formal observance of external rules and the ritual of jurisprudence has an importance which is close to zero. The essence of the affair is in the material conditions of the preparation and conduct of the trial. Of course, even if one disregards for the moment the decisive factors which are to be found outside the courtroom, one cannot help recognizing that the Moscow trials are a pure and simple mockery of justice. The investigation, in the twentieth year of the Revolution, is carried on in absolute secrecy. The entire old generation of Bolsheviks is judged before a military tribunal composed of three depersonalized military functionaries. The whole trial is dominated by a Prosecutor who has been all his life, and still is, a political enemy of the accused. Defense is waived, and the procedure is deprived of any vestige of controversy. The material proofs are not presented to the court; they are talked about, but they do not exist. The witnesses mentioned by the Prosecutor or by the defendants are not questioned. A whole series of accused who form a part of the judicial inquiry are absent from the defendants’ bench, for reasons unknown. Two of the principal accused who happen to be abroad are not even apprised of the trial, and, like those witnesses who are outside Russia, are deprived of the possibility of taking any steps whatsoever to bring out the truth. The judicial dialogue is wholly constructed of a pre-arranged game of question-and-answer. The Prosecutor does not address a single concrete question to any of the defendants which might embarrass him and expose the material inconsistencies of his confession. The presiding judge obsequiously covers up the work of the Prosecutor. It is precisely the “verbatim” character of the record which most clearly reveals the malicious side-stepping of the Prosecutor and the judges. To this it is necessary to add that one is scarcely inspired with confidence in the authenticity of the record itself.

But, however important these considerations are in themselves – opening as they do broad grounds for juridical analysis – they are nevertheless secondary and tertiary in character, since they concern the form of the frame-up and not its essence. Theoretically, one can imagine that if Stalin, Vyshinsky and Yezhov are able over a period of five or ten years to stage their trials with impunity, they will attain such a high technique that all the elements of jurisprudence will be found in formal accord with one another and the existing laws. But perfection in the juridical technique of the frame-up will not bring it one millimeter closer to the truth.

In a political trial of such exceptional importance, the jurist cannot divorce himself from the political conditions out of which the trial arose and in which the preliminary investigation was conducted – to put it concretely, the totalitarian oppression to which, in the final analysis, all are subjected: accused, witnesses, judges, counsel, and even the prosecution itself. Here is the nub of the question: Under an uncontrolled and despotic régime which concentrates in the same hands all the means of economic, political. physical and moral coercion, a juridical trial ceases to be a juridical trial. It is a juridical play, with the rôles prepared in advance. The defendants appear on the scene only after a series of rehearsals which give the director in advance complete assurance that they will not overstep the limits of their rôles. In this sense, as in all others, the judicial trials only represent a coagulation of the political régime of the USSR as a whole. At all the hearings the orators say one and the same thing, taking their cue from the chief orator, in utter disregard of what they themselves said the day before. In the newspapers all the articles expound one and the same directive, in the same language. Following the orchestra leader’s baton, the historians, the economists – even the statisticians – rearrange the past and the present without any regard for facts, documents, or the preceding editions of their own books. In the kindergartens and schools, all the children in the same words glorify Vyshinsky and curse the defendants. No one acts this way of his own volition; everyone violates his own will. The monolithic character of the judicial trial, in which the accused try to outdo each other in repeating the formulas of the Prosecutor, is thus not an exception to the rule, but only the most revolting expression of the totalitarian inquisitorial régime. It is not a court we see in action, but a play in which the chief actors play their rôles at pistol point. The play can be performed well or badly; but that is a question of inquisitorial technique and not of justice. The “purely juridical” examination of the Moscow trials reduces itself essentially to the question of whether the frame-up was well or poorly executed.

To illumine the question still further – in so far as it requires illumination – let us take a fresh example from the domain of constitutional law. After Hitler took power he declared, contrary to all expectations, that he had no intention of changing the fundamental laws of the State. Most people have probably forgotten that even today in Germany the Weimar Constitution remains intact, but into its juridical framework Hitler has introduced the content of the totalitarian dictatorship. Let us imagine an expert who, adjusting his scholarly spectacles and arming himself with official documents, sets out to study the structure of the German State “from a purely juridical point of view.” After several hours of intellectual effort, he will discover that Hitler’s Germany is a crystal-clear democratic republic (universal suffrage, a parliament which gives full power to the “Fuehrer,” independent judicial authorities, etc., etc.) Every sane man, however, will cry out that a juridical “appraisal” of this nature is at best a display of juridical Cretinism.

Democracy is based on the unconfined struggle of classes, of parties, of programs and ideas. If this struggle be stifled, there then remains only a dead shell, well suited for cloaking a fascist dictatorship. Contemporary jurisprudence is based on the struggle between the prosecution and the defense, a struggle which is conducted in certain judicial forms. Wherever the conflict between parties is stifled by means of extra-judicial violence, the judicial forms, whatever they may be, are only a cover for the inquisition. A genuine investigation of the Moscow trials cannot avoid embracing all their aspects. It will, of course, utilize the “verbatim” reports; not, however, as things in themselves, but as a constituent part of a great historical drama, whose determining factors remain behind the scenes of the judicial play.


In his summation of January 28, Vyshinsky said: “Trotsky and the Trotskyites have always been the agents of capitalism in the working-class movement.” Vyshinsky denounced “the face of real, genuine Trotskyism – this old enemy of the workers and peasants, this old enemy of Socialism, loyal servant of capitalism.” He painted the history of “Trotskyism which spent the more than thirty years of its existence on preparing for its final conversion into a storm detachment of fascism, into one of the departments of the fascist police.”

While the foreign publicists of the GPU (in the Daily Worker, New Masses, etc.) spend their energy trying to explain, with the aid of fine-spun hypotheses and historical analogies, how a revolutionary Marxist can change into a fascist in the sixth decade of his life, Vyshinsky approaches the question in an entirely different manner: Trotsky has always been an agent of capitalism and an enemy of the workers and peasants; for thirty-odd years he has been preparing himself to become an agent of fascism. Vyshinsky is saying what the publicists of the New Masses will say, only later on. That is why I prefer to deal with Vyshinsky. To the categorical assertions of the Prosecutor of the USSR, I oppose the equally categorical facts of my life.

Vyshinsky errs when be speaks of my thirty years of preparation for fascism. Facts, arithmetic, chronology, as well as logic, are not, generally speaking, the strong points of this accusation. Indeed, last month marked the completion of the fortieth year of my uninterrupted participation in the working-class movement under the banner of Marxism.

At eighteen I organized illegally the “Workers’ Union of Southern Russia,” numbering more than 200 workers. Using a hectograph, I edited a revolutionary paper, Nashe Delo (Our Cause) – At the time of my first exile to Siberia (1900-1902), I participated in the creation of the “Siberian Union of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class.” After my flight abroad, I joined the Social-Democractic organization Iskra, headed by Plekhanov, Lenin and others. In 1905 I did leading work in the first Petersburg Soviet of Workers’ Deputies.

I spent four and a half years in prison, was twice exiled to Siberia, where I spent about two and a half years. I escaped twice from Siberia. In two periods I spent about twelve years in exile under Tsarism. In 1915 in Germany I was sentenced in contumacy to prison for anti-war activities. I was expelled from France for the same “crime,” arrested in Spain, and interned by the British Government in a Canadian concentration camp. It was in this manner that I performed my function as “an agent of capitalism.”

The tale of the Stalinist historians that until 1917 I had been a Menshevik is one of their customary falsifications. From the day Bolshevism and Menshevism took form politically and organizationally (1904), I remained formally outside of both factions, but, as is shown by the three Russian revolutions, my political line, in spite of conflicts and polemics, coincided in every fundamental way with the line of Lenin.

The most important disagreement between Lenin and me in those years was my hope that through unification with the Mensheviks the majority of them could be pushed onto the path of revolution. In this burning question, Lenin was entirely right. Nevertheless, it must be said that in 1917 the tendencies toward “unification” were very strong among the Bolsheviks. On November 1st, 1917, at the meeting of the Petrograd Party Committee, Lenin said in this connection: “Trotsky long ago said that unification is impossible. Trotsky understood this, and from that time on there has been no better Bolshevik.”

From the end of 1904, I defended the view that the Russian revolution could end only in the dictatorship of the proletariat, which, in its turn, must lead to the Socialist transformation of society, given the victorious development of the world revolution.

A minority of my present adversaries considered this perspective fantastic right up to April 1917 and inimically labelled it “Trotskyism,” opposing to it the program of the bourgeois democratic republic. As for the overwhelming majority of the present bureaucracy, they did not adhere to the Soviet power until after the victorious termination of the Civil War.

During the years of my exile I participated in the workers’ movement in Austria, Switzerland, France and the United States. I think of the years of my exile with gratitude – they gave me the possibility of coming closer to the life of the world working class and of changing internationalism from an abstract concept into the driving force of the rest of my life.

During the war, first in Switzerland and then in France, I carried on propaganda against the chauvinism consuming the Second International. For more than two years I published in Paris, under the military censorship, a Russian daily newspaper, in the spirit of revolutionary internationalism. In my work I was closely connected with the internationalist elements in France and took part, together with their representatives, in the international conference of opponents of chauvinism in Zimmerwald (1915) – I continued in the same work during my two months stay in the United States.

After my arrival in Petrograd (May 5th, 19I7) from the Canadian concentration camp where I taught the ideas of Liebknecht and Luxemburg to the imprisoned German sailors, I took a direct part in the preparation and organization of the October Revolution, particularly during the four decisive months when Lenin was forced to hide in Finland.

In 1918, in an article in which his task was to limit my rôle in the October Revolution, Stalin was nevertheless forced to write:

“All the work of practical organization of the insurrection was carried out under the immediate leadership of the chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, Comrade Trotsky. We can say with certainty that the swift passing of the garrison to the side of the Soviet and the bold execution of the work of the Military Revolutionary Committee the Party owes principally and above all to Comrade Trotsky.” (Pravda, No.241, Nov. 6th, 1918)

This did not prevent Stalin from writing six years later:

“Comrade Trotsky, a comparatively new man in our Party in the period of October, neither did nor could play a special part, either in the Party or in the October Revolution.” (J. Stalin, Trotskyism or Leninism, pp.68-69.)

At the present time the Stalin school, with the aid of its own scientific methods, in which both the court and the prosecution are educated, considers it beyond dispute that I did not direct the October Revolution but was opposed to it. However, these historical falsifications do not concern my autobiography, but the biography of Stalin.

After the October Revolution, I was in office for about nine years. I took a direct part in the building of the Soviet state, revolutionary diplomacy, the Red Army, economic organization, and the Communist International. For three years I directly led the Civil War. In this harsh work I was obliged to resort to drastic measures. For these I bear full responsibility before the world working class and before history. The justification of rigorous measures lay in their historical necessity and progressive character, in their correspondence with the fundamental interest of the working class. To all repressive measures dictated by the conditions of civil war, I gave their real designation, and I have given a public accounting for them before the working masses. I had nothing to hide from the people, as today I have nothing to hide from the Commission.

When in certain circles of the Party, not without the behind-the-scenes participation of Stalin, opposition arose to my methods of directing the Civil War, Lenin in July 1919 on his own initiative and in a fashion wholly unexpected by me, handed me a sheet of blank paper, on the bottom of which he had written:

“Comrades, knowing the harsh character of Comrade Trotsky’s orders, I am so convinced, so absolutely convinced, of the rightness, expediency and necessity, for the good of our cause, of the orders he has given, that I give them my full support.’

There is no date on the paper. In case of need, the date was to be inserted by myself. Lenin’s caution in everything that concerned his relations to the workers is known. Nevertheless, he considered it possible to countersign in advance an order coming from me, even though on these orders often depended the fate of great numbers of men. Lenin did not fear that I would abuse my power. I may add that not once did I make use of this carte blanche given me by Lenin. But this document is testimony to the exceptional confidence of a man whom I consider to be the highest model of revolutionary morality.

I participated directly in the drafting of the programmatic documents and tactical theses of the Third International. The principal reports at the congresses on the international situation were shared by Lenin and me. The programmatic manifestoes of the first five congresses were written by me. I leave to Stalin’s prosecutors to explain what place this activity occupied on my road to fascism. As far as I am concerned, I still stand firmly today by the principles which, hand in hand with Lenin, I put forward as the basis of the Communist International.

I broke with the ruling bureaucracy when, due to historical causes which cannot be adequately dealt with here, it was transformed into a conservative, privileged caste. The reasons for the break are set down and sealed at every stage in official documents, books, and articles, accessible for general verification.

I have defended Soviet democracy against bureaucratic absolutism; the raising of the living standard of the masses against excessive privileges at the top systematic industrialization and collectivization in the interests of the toilers; finally, international policy in the spirit of revolutionary internationalism against nationalist conservatism. In my last book, The Revolution Betrayed, I attempted to explain theoretically why the isolated Soviet state, on the basis of a backward economy, has extruded the monstrous pyramid of the bureaucracy, which has almost automatically been crowned by an uncontrolled and “infallible” leader.

Stifling the party by means of the police apparatus and crushing the opposition, the ruling clique banished me, at the beginning of 1928, to Central Asia. On my refusal to cease political activity in exile, it deported me to Turkey at the beginning of 1929. There I began to publish the Bulletin of the Opposition, on the basis of the same program I had defended in Russia, and entered into relations with ideological companions, still very few at that time, in all parts of the world.

On February 20th, 1932, the Soviet bureaucracy deprived me and the members of my family who were abroad, of Soviet citizenship. My daughter Zinaida, who was abroad temporarily for medical treatment, was thus deprived of the possibility of returning to the USSR to rejoin her husband and children. She committed suicide on January 5th, 1933.

I am presenting a list of my most important books and pamphlets, which have been completely or partly written during my last period of exile and deportation. According to the calculations of my young collaborators, who in all my work have given and are giving me devoted and irreplaceable aid, I have written 5,000 printed pages while abroad, without counting my articles and letters, which together would comprise several thousand pages more. May I add that I do not write with facility? I make numerous verifications and corrections. My literary work and my correspondence, therefore, have constituted the principal content of my life in the past nine years. The political line of my books, articles and letters speaks for itself. The citations given by Vyshinsky from my works represent, as I will prove, gross falsification – that is to say, a necessary element of the whole judicial frame-up.

In the course of the years from 1923 to 1933, with respect to the Soviet state, its leading party and the Communist International, I held the view expressed in those chiseled words: Reform, but not revolution. This position was fed by the hope that with favorable developments in Europe, the Left Opposition could regenerate the Bolshevik Party by pacific means, democratically reform the Soviet state, and set the Communist International back on the path of Marxism. It was only the victory of Hitler, prepared by the fatal policy of the Kremlin, and the complete inability of the Comintern to draw any lessons from the tragic experience of Germany which convinced me and my ideological companions that the old Bolshevik Party and the Third International were forever dead, as far as the cause of Socialism was concerned. Thus disappeared the only legal lever with which one could hope to effect a peaceful, democratic reform of the Soviet state. Since the latter part of 1933, I have become more and more convinced that for the emancipation of the toiling masses of the USSR and of the social basis established by the October Revolution from the new parasitic caste, a political revolution is historically inevitable. Naturally, a problem of such tremendous magnitude provoked an impassioned ideological struggle on an international scale.

The political degeneration of the Comintern, completely shackled by the Soviet bureaucracy, led to the necessity for launching the slogan of the Fourth International and for drafting the bases of its program. The books, articles and bulletins of discussion which relate to this are at the disposal of the Commission, and present the best proof that it is a question not of “camouflage” but of an intense, impassioned ideological struggle on the basis of the traditions of the first congresses of the Communist International. I have been continually in correspondence with dozens of old and hundreds of young friends in all parts of the world, and I can say with assurance and pride that precisely from this youth will come the firmest and most reliable proletarian fighters of the new epoch which is opening.

Renouncing the hope of peaceful reform of the Soviet state does not mean, however, renouncing the defense of the Soviet state. As is particularly demonstrated in the collection of extracts from my articles in the past ten years (In Defense of the Soviet Union), which recently appeared in New York, I have invariably and implacably fought against all vacillation on the question of the defense of the USSR I have broken more than once with friends on this question. In my book, The Revolution Betrayed, I theoretically proved the idea that war menaces not only the Soviet bureaucracy, but also the new social basis of the USSR, which represents a tremendous step forward in the development of mankind. From this flows the absolute duty of every revolutionist to defend the USSR against imperialism, despite the Soviet bureaucracy.

My writings in the same period give an unequivocal picture of my attitude toward fascism. From the first period of nay exile abroad, I sounded the alarm on the question of the rising fascist wave in Germany. The Comintern accused me of “over-estimating” fascism and of becoming “panicky” before it. I demanded the united front of all organizations of the working class. To this the Comintern opposed the idiotic theory of “social-fascism.” I demanded the systematic organization of workers’ militias. The Comintern countered with bragging about future victories. I pointed out that the USSR would find itself greatly menaced in case of a victory for Hitler. The well known writer, Ossietzky, printed my articles in his magazine, and commented on them with great sympathy. All to no avail. The Soviet bureaucracy usurped the authority of the October Revolution only to convert it into an obstacle to the victory of the revolution in other countries. Without the policy of Stalin, we should not have had the victory of Hitler! The Moscow trials, to a considerable degree, were born of the Kremlin’s need to force the world to forget its criminal policy in Germany. “If it is demonstrated that Trotsky is an agent of fascism, who will then consider the program and tactics of the Fourth International?” Such were Stalin’s calculations.

It is quite well known that during the war every internationalist was declared to be an agent of the enemy government. So it was in the case of Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht, Otto Ruehle and others in Germany, of my French friends (Monatte, Rosmer, Loriot. etc.), of Eugene Debs and others in the United States, and finally of Lenin and myself in Russia. The British Government imprisoned me in a concentration camp in March 1917 on the charge, inspired by the Tsarist Okhrana, that in agreement with the German high command I attempted to overthrow the provisional government of Miliukov-Kerensky. Today this accusation seems a plagiarism from Stalin and Vyshinsky. In fact, it is Stalin and Vyshinsky who are plagiarizing from the Tsarist counter-espionage system and the British Intelligence Service.

On April 16th, 1917, when I was in the concentration camp with German sailors, Lenin wrote in Pravda: “Can one even for a moment believe the trustworthiness of the statement ... that Trotsky, the former chairman of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies in Petersburg in 1905 – a revolutionist who has devoted decades to the disinterested service of revolution – that this man had anything to do with a scheme subsidized by the German Government? This is clearly a monstrous and unscrupulous slander against a revolutionist.” (Pravda, No.34) ―

“How fresh these words sound now,” I wrote on October 21, 1927 – I repeat, in 1927! – “in this epoch of contemptible slanders against the Opposition, differing in no essential from the slanders against the Bolsheviks in 1917.”

Thus, ten years ago – that is, long before the creation of the “unified” and “parallel” centers and before the “flight” of Pyatakov to Oslo – Stalin was already flinging against the Opposition all the insinuations and calumnies that Vyshinsky later converted into an indictment. However, if Lenin in 1917 thought that my revolutionary past of twenty years was in itself sufficient refutation of these filthy insinuations, I make bold to think that the twenty years which have since elapsed – important enough in themselves – entitle me to cite my autobiography as one of the most important arguments against the Moscow indictment.


The very necessity of having to “justify” oneself against the charge of being in league with Hitler and the Mikado indicates the full depth of the reaction which today is conquering a great portion of our planet, and particularly the USSR. But none of us can leap over historically conditioned stages. I put my time and my energy at the disposal of the Commission with entire willingness. It is superfluous to remark that I have and can have no secrets from the Commission. The Commission will itself understand the necessity of being guided by caution with respect to third parties, especially subjects of fascist lands and of the Soviet Union. I am ready to answer all questions and to place at the disposal of the Commission all my correspondence, personal as well as political.

At the same time, I think it necessary to state in advance that I do not at all regard myself as a “defendant” before the bar of public opinion. There is not even a formal basis for such a characterization. The Moscow authorities did not indict me in a single one of the trials. And that is, of course, not accidental. To indict me they would have had to summon me before the court, or to demand my extradition. For this purpose they would have had to announce the date of the trial, and to publish the indictment at least some weeks before the opening of the court proceedings. But Moscow could not even go that far. Their whole plan was to take public opinion by surprise, and to have the Pritts and Durantys ready in advance as commentators and reporters. They could have asked my extradition only by opening the question in a French, Norwegian or Mexican court, before the eyes of the world press. But that would have meant for the Kremlin to court a cruel failure! For this very reason, the two trials were not a prosecution of myself and my son, but only a slander against us, carried out by means a legal process, without notification, without summons, behind our backs.

The verdict of the latest trial states that Trotsky and Sedov ’having been convicted ... of personally directing the treacherous activities ... in the event of their being discovered on the territory of the USSR, are liable to immediate arrest and trial” I leave aside the question of the technical means by which Stalin hopes to “discover” me and my son on Soviet territory (apparently by means of the same technique which permitted the GPU on the night of November 7th, 1936, to “discover” a part of my archives in a historical institute in Paris and to transport them in substantial diplomatic valises to Moscow) – The fact which, above all others, commands attention is that the verdict, after declaring us “convicted,” although we have not been indicted and examined, promises to deliver us to the court for trial, in the event of our being discovered. In this way I and my son have already been ’convicted” but not yet tried. The object of this nonsensical but not accidental formulation is to arm the GPU with the possibility of shooting us upon “discovery,” without any judicial procedure whatsoever.

Stalin cannot permit himself the luxury of a public arraignment of us, even in the USSR.

The most cynical among the agents of Moscow, including the Soviet diplomat Troyanovsky, raise the following argument: “Criminals cannot choose their own judges.” In its general form, this idea is correct. It is only necessary to determine on which side of the dividing line are the criminals. If one accepts the view that the real criminals are the organizers of the Moscow trials – and that is the opinion of wide and growing circles – can one then permit them to set themselves up as judges of their own case? Just because of this the Commission of Inquiry stands above both parties.


The territory covered by the Moscow trials is immense. If I assumed the task of refuting before you all the false accusations directed against me, if only those contained in the official reports of the two most important Moscow trials, I would be forced to take up too much time. It is sufficient to recall that my name is met on almost every page, and more than once. I hope that I shall have the opportunity to speak more fully before the entire Commission. Now I am forced to impose severe limitations upon myself. For the time being, I am compelled to leave aside a whole series of questions, each of importance for the refutation of the charges. For a series of other questions, still more important, I must confine myself to a short résumé, noting only the general outline of the conclusions which I hope to present in the future to the Commission. On the other hand, I will attempt to bring out the crucial points of the Soviet trials, principled as well as empiric in nature, and to clarify them as much as possible. These crucial points lie on three planes:

1. The foreign apologists of the GPU monotonously repeat the selfsame argument: It is impossible to admit that responsible, veteran politicians accused themselves of crimes they had never committed. But these gentlemen obstinately refuse to apply the same common-sense criterion not to the confessions, but to the crimes themselves. Yet it is much more appropriate to the latter.

My point of departure is that the accused were responsible individuals – that is, normal – and consequently could not knowingly carry out absurd crimes directed against their ideas, their whole past, and their present interests.

In planning a crime, each of the accused had what from the juridical point of view can be called freedom of choice. He could commit the crime, or refrain from doing so. He considered whether the crime was expedient, whether it corresponded to his aims, whether the means employed were reasonable. etc – in a word, he behaved as a free and responsible person.

The situation, however, changes radically when the real or pretended criminal falls into the hands of the GPU, for whom, because of political reasons, it is necessary at all costs to obtain certain testimony. Here the “criminal” ceases to be himself. It is not he who decides; everything is decided for him.

That is why, before I deal with the question whether or not the accused acted in the trials in accordance with the laws of common sense, another preliminary question must be posed: Could the accused have perpetrated the incredible crimes to which they confessed?

Was the assassination of Kirov advantageous to the Opposition? And if not, was it not advantageous to the bureaucracy to ascribe the assassination of Kirov to the Opposition, whatever the cost?

Was it advantageous for the Opposition to commit acts of sabotage, to cause mine explosions, and to organize railroad wrecks? And if not, was it not advantageous for the bureaucracy to place the responsibility for the mistakes and accidents in industry on the Opposition?

Was it advantageous for the Opposition to enter into an alliance with Hitler and the Mikado? And, if not, was it not advantageous for the bureaucracy to obtain from the Opposition the confession that it was in alliance with Hitler and the Mikado?

Qui prodest? It is enough to formulate this question clearly and precisely, in order to have the first outlines of the answer already apparent.

2. In the last trial, as in all the preceding ones, the only bases of the charges are the standardized monologues of the accused, who, repeating the thoughts and expressions of the Prosecutor, outdo one another in confessing, and invariably name me the principal organizer of the plot. How explain this fact?

In his summation, Vyshinsky tries this time to justify the absence of objective proofs by the considerations that the conspirators did not have membership cards, did not keep records, etc, etc. These miserable arguments appear doubly miserable on Russian soil, where plots and trials stretch out over many decades. The conspirators write pseudo-conventional letters. But these letters can be seized during raids, and then constitute serious evidence. The conspirators quite frequently have recourse to chemical ink. But the Tsarist police hundreds of times seized such letters and presented them in court. Among the plotters there are provocateurs who give the police concrete information about the progress of the plot, and make it possible to seize documents, laboratories, and even the conspirators themselves at the scene of the crime. We find nothing like that in the trials of Stalin-Vyshinsky. Despite the five-year duration of the most grandiose of all plots, with ramifications in all parts of the country and connections across the western and eastern borders, despite the innumerable raids and seizures and even thefts of archives, the GPU has not been able to present to the tribunal a single piece of concrete evidence. The defendants refer only to their real or pretended conversations about the plot. The judicial inquiry is a conversation about conversations. The “plot” has no flesh and blood.

On the other hand, the history of the revolutionary and counter-revolutionary struggle alike knows of no case in which dozens of seasoned conspirators, over a period of years, committed unparalleled crimes, and, after their arrest, despite the absence of evidence, confessed without exception, betraying one another and furiously blasting their absent “leader.” How do criminals who yesterday assassinated leaders, shattered industry, prepared war and the dismemberment of the country, today so docilely sing the Prosecutor’s tune?

These two fundamental features of the Moscow trials – the absence of evidence and the epidemic character of the confessions – can but arouse suspicion in every thinking man. The objective verification of the confessions, therefore, assumes so much the more importance. Yet the court not only did not make such a verification, but, on the contrary, avoided it from every side. We must take this verification upon ourselves. To be sure, it is not possible in all the cases. But there is no need for that. It will be entirely sufficient for us, as a beginning, to show that in many extremely important instances the confessions are in complete contradiction with the objective facts, The more the confessions are standardized, the more they will be discredited by the revelation that some of them are false.

The number of instances in which the testimony of the accused – their denunciations of themselves and others – falls to pieces when confronted with the facts, is very large. That has already been made sufficiently apparent here during the inquiry. The experience of the Moscow trials shows that a frame-up on such a colossal scale is too much even for the most powerful police apparatus in the world. There are too many people and circumstances, characteristics and dates, interests and documents, which do not fit into the framework of a ready-made libretto! The calendar stubbornly maintains its prerogatives, and the seasons of Norway do not bow even before Vyshinsky. If one approaches the question in its artistic aspect, such a task – the dramatic concordance of hundreds of people and innumerable circumstances – would have been too much even for Shakespeare. But the GPU does not have Shakespeares at its beck and call. In so far as it is a question of “events” in the USSR, the external semblance of concordance is maintained by inquisitorial violence. All – the defendants, the witnesses and the experts – chorus their confirmation of materially impossible facts. But the situation changes abruptly when it is necessary to extend the threads abroad. Yet, without threads abroad, leading to me, “Public Enemy Number One,” the trials would lose most of their political importance. That is why the GPU was forced to risk dangerous and most unfortunate combinations with Holtzman, Olberg, David, Berman-Yurin, Romm, and Pyatakov.

The choice of objects for analysis and refutation thus unfolds by itself from the “facts” which the accusation alleges against me and my son. Thus, the refutation of Holtzman’s assertion about his visit to me in Copenhagen, the refutation of Romm’s testimony about his meeting with me in the Bois de Boulogne, and the refutation of Pyatakov’s account of his flight to Oslo, are not only important in themselves, since they pull down the main props of the charges against me and my son, but also because they permit one to peer behind the scenes of Moscow jurisprudence in its entirety and to illumine the methods which are there employed.

Such are the first two stages of my analysis. If we succeed in demonstrating that, on the one hand, the so-called “crimes” contradict the psychology and the interests of the defendants, and that, on the other hand – at least in several typical cases – the confessions contradict facts established with precision, we accomplish, by the same token, a very great task for the refutation of the indictment as a whole.

3. To be sure, even then there remain not a few questions which demand answers. Chief among them are: Why, then, did the accused, after twenty-five, thirty, or more years of revolutionary work, agree to take upon themselves such monstrous and degrading accusations? How did the GPU achieve this? Why did not a single one of the accused cry out openly before the court against the frame-up? Etc., etc. In the nature of the case. I am not obliged to answer these questions. We could not here question Yagoda (he is now being questioned himself by Yezhov), or Yezhov, or Vyshinsky, or Stalin, or, above all, their victims, the majority of whom, indeed, have already been shot, That is why the Commission cannot fully uncover the inquisitorial technique of the Moscow trials. But the mainsprings are already apparent. The accused are not Trotskyites, nor Oppositionists, nor fighters, but docile capitulators. The GPU had educated them for these trials for years. That is why I think it extremely important, for the understanding of the mechanics of the confessions, to bring out the psychology of the capitulators as a political group, and to give a personal characterization of the most important defendants of the two trials. I have in mind not arbitrary psychological improvisations, constructed after the event in the interests of the defense, but objective characterizations based on unimpeachable documents which pertain to various parts of the period which interests us. I have no lack of such materials. On the contrary, my dossiers are bursting with facts and citations. That is why I choose one example – the clearest and most typical, namely: Radek.

Already on June 14th, 1929, I wrote of the influence exerted by the powerful Thermidorian tendencies on the Opposition itself: “We have seen by a whole series of examples how old Bolsheviks, striving to preserve themselves and the traditions of the Party, tended with all their strength to go with the Opposition; some until 1925, others until 1927, and yet others until 1929. But in the long run, they did not hold out; their nerves gave way. Radek is now the most headlong and vociferous ideologue of the elements of this type.” (Bulletin of the Opposition, Nos.1-2. July 1929.) It was none other than Radek who in the last trial provided the “philosophy” for the “criminal activities” of the “Trotskyites.” According to the testimony of many foreign journalists. Radek’s testimony seemed in the trial to be the least artificial, the least constructed on a model, the most deserving of confidence. All the more important is it to demonstrate by this example that on the defendants’ bench sat not the real Radek, as nature and his political past made him, but a “robot” out of the laboratory of the GPU. If I succeed in demonstrating this with full conviction, then the rôle of the others accused in these trials will also be clarified to a considerable extent. That does not mean, obviously, that I discard the clarification of each separate personality. On the contrary, I hope that the Commission will give me the opportunity to carry out this task at the next stage of its work. But now, because of the limitations imposed by time, I am obliged to concentrate attention only on the most important circumstances and the most typical figures. The work of the Commission, I hope, will only gain thereby.

End of Part I

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Last updated on: 1.4.2007