1. It can be unimpeachably established, on the basis of official sources, that the preparations for the assassination of Kirov were made with the knowledge of the GPU. The head of the Leningrad section of the GPU, Medved, and eleven other GPU agents, were sentenced to prison because “they possessed information concerning the preparations for the attempt on S.M. Kirov ... and failed to take the necessary measures,” One should imagine that the police agents who “knew” ought to have figured as witnesses at all the subsequent trials. But we never hear again of Medved and his collaborators; they “knew” too much. The Kirov assassination serves as the basis of all the subsequent trials. Yet at the basis of the Kirov assassination lies a colossal provocation of the GPU, attested to by the verdict of the military court on December 29th, 1934. The task of the organizers of the provocation consisted in implicating the Opposition, and especially myself, in a terrorist deed (through the medium of the Latvian consul Bisseneks, an agent provocateur employed by the GPU who has likewise vanished without leaving a trace). The bullet fired by Nikolayev was hardly part of the program, but rather one of the incidental costs of the amalgam.
This question was analyzed in my pamphlet, The Kirov Assassination and the Stalin Bureaucracy, written at the beginning of 1935. Neither the Soviet authorities nor their foreign agents even attempted to answer my arguments, which were based exclusively on official Moscow documents.
2. As we have proved before the Commission, seven trials took place in the USSR, with the Kirov assassination as their starting point: (a) the trial of Nikolayev et al., December 28-29th, 1934 (b) the trial of Zinoviev-Kamenev, January 15-16th, 1935; (c) the trial of Medved et al., January 23rd, 1935; (d) the trial of Kamenev et al., July, 1935; (e) the trial of Zinoviev-Kamenev, August, 1936; (f) the Novosibirsk trial, November 19-22nd, 1936; (g) the trial of Pyatakov-Radek, January 23-30th, 1937. These trials are seven variations played on one and the same theme. Among the different variations there is almost no discernible connection. Each contradicts the others in fundamentals and details. In each trial, different persons organize the assassination of Kirov, by different means and for different political objectives. The mere comparison of the official Soviet documents is ample proof that at least six of these seven trials must be frame-ups. In fact, all seven are frame-ups.
3. The Zinoviev-Kamenev trial (August, 1936) has already inspired a voluminous literature, which contains a number of extremely important arguments, testimonies and weighty considerations in support of the idea that the trial constitutes a malicious frame-up by the GPU. I mention here the following books:
Not one of these books, which represent the product of serious and careful study, has thus far met with a critical appraisal – leaving aside the gutter epithets of the Comintern press, which for a long time has not been taken seriously by any self-respecting person. The fundamental arguments of these books are also my arguments.
4. As far back as 1926, the Stalin clique tried to charge various oppositional groups with “anti-Soviet” propaganda, connections with White Guards, capitalist tendencies, espionage, terrorist aims, and, finally, the preparation of armed insurrection. All these attempts, which are akin to rough drafts, have left their traces in official decrees, in newspaper articles, in documents of the Opposition. If we were to arrange chronologically these rough drafts of and experiments in frame-up, we would obtain something in the nature of a geometric progression of false accusations, whose end terms are the indictments in the last trials. Thus we uncover the “law of frame-ups” and the mystery of the alleged Trotskyite conspiracy vanishes into thin air.
5. It is the same with the improbable declarations of the defendants, which at first sight contradict all the laws of human psychology. Ritualistic recantations on the part of Oppositionists date back to 1924, and especially the end of 1927. If we collate the texts of these recantations on the basis of the leading Soviet press – often consecutive recantations made by the self-same individuals – we obtain a second geometric progression, the end terms of which are the nightmarish confessions of Zinoviev, Kamenev, Pyatakov, Radek and others at the judicial trials. A political and psychological analysis of this accessible and unimpeachable material wholly and conclusively reveals the inquisitorial mechanics of the recantations.
6. To the mathematical series of frame-ups and the mathematical series of recantations, there corresponds a third mathematical series – that of warnings and predictions. The author of these lines and his closest co-thinkers followed attentively the intrigues and provocations of the GPU, and in advance, on the basis of particular facts and symptoms, warned time and again, in letters as well as in the press, against Stalin’s provocative plans and against amalgams in preparation. The very expression, “Stalinist amalgam,” was given currency by us almost eight years before the Kirov assassination and the spectacular trials which followed it. The relevant documentary proofs have been placed at the disposal of the Commission of Inquiry. They show with absolute incontestability that what is involved is not an underground Trotskyite conspiracy first unearthed in some startling manner in 1936, but a systematic conspiracy of the GPU against the Opposition, with the aim of imputing to it sabotage, espionage, assassinations and the preparation of insurrections.
7. All the “recantations” extorted from tens of thousands of Oppositionists since 1924 contained by compulsion a barb directed at me. All who wished to re-enter the Party, the exiles wrote in the Bulletin of the Opposition (No.7. Nov-Dec. 1929), were ordered to “give us Trotsky’s head.” In conformity with the previously indicated law of the mathematical series, the threads of all the crimes of terrorism, treason and sabotage, in the trials of 1936-1937, lead invariably to me and my son. But our entire activity during the past eight years was, as is well known, carried on abroad. Here the Commission enjoys, as we have already seen, a great advantage. The GPU abroad had no approach to me, since I was always surrounded by a circle of devoted friends. On November 7th, 1936, the GPU stole a portion of my archives in Paris, but until now they have been unable to make any use of them. The Commission has at its disposal all my archives, the testimonies of my friends and acquaintances, not to speak of my own depositions. The Commission is in a position to compare my private correspondence with my articles and books, and in this way determine whether my activity bears the slightest tinge of double-dealing.
8. But that is not all. The directives of the conspiracy allegedly came from abroad (France, Copenhagen, Norway). Thanks to an unusually fortunate combination of circumstances, the Commission has full opportunity to determine whether any of the alleged conspirators – Holtzman, Burman-Yurin, Fritz David, Vladimir Romm and Pyatakov – did visit me at the specified times and places. While the Moscow court has not lifted a finger to prove (by questions regarding passports, visas, hotels, etc.) that these meetings and interviews really did take place, we are able here to solve a much more difficult problem: To prove with documents, depositions of witnesses, circumstances of time and place, that these meetings and interviews did not and could not have taken place. To employ legal terminology – I am able in all important instances, where exact dates are given, to establish an unshakable alibi.
9. If the criminal is not mentally deranged, but a responsible person and even an old and experienced politician, then his crime, however monstrous it may be, must fit in closely with his specific aims. Yet in the Moscow trials there is no such concordance of aims and methods. The state Prosecutor at different trials ascribes different aims to the very same defendants (now a naked “struggle for power” under the Soviet régime, now a struggle for the “restoration of capitalism”).In this question, likewise, defendants docilely take their cue from the prosecution. The methods to which the defendants resort are absurd from the standpoint of their supposed aims; certainly, they appear to be specially created to furnish the bureaucracy with the best possible pretext for exterminating every kind of opposition.
The conclusions which flow from the initial stages of this investigation are, in my opinion, the following:
1. Despite long years of struggle against the Opposition, despite tens of thousands of raids, arrests, banishments, imprisonments, and hundreds of executions, the Soviet judicial authorities do not have at their disposal even a single substantial fact, not a shred of material proof. to confirm the truth of the accusations. This fact constitutes the most damning evidence against Stalin.
2. Even if we concede for sake of argument that all or some of the defendants really committed the monstrous crimes attributed to them, their stereotyped references to me as the principal organizer of the plot do not carry any weight. Moral degenerates capable of preparing railroad wrecks, poisoning workers, entering into relations with the Gestapo, etc., would naturally have attempted to ingratiate themselves with the bureaucracy by means of standardized slanders against its principal adversary.
3. The testimony of the defendants – at least those whose political physiognomy is well known – is, however, false also in those sections where they expose their own criminal activity. We are not dealing with bandits, or with criminal perverts, or with moral degenerates, but with the unfortunate victims of the most horrible inquisitorial system of all time.
4. The trials are a judicial comedy (hard as it is to use the word “comedy” in this connection), whose lines have been worked out over a number of years on the basis of countless experiments by the organs of the GPU, under the direct and personal supervision of Stalin.
5. The charges against old revolutionists (“Trotskyites”) of desertion to fascism, of alliance with Hitler and the Mikado, etc., were dictated by the same political causes as the accusations of the French Thermidorians against Robespierre and other Jacobins guillotined by them, that they had become “Royalists” and “agents of Pitt.” Analogous historical causes produce analogous historical consequences.
If terror is feasible for one side, why should it be considered as excluded for the other? With all its seductive symmetry, this reasoning is corrupt to the core. It is altogether inadmissible to place the terror of a dictatorship against an opposition on the same plane with the terror of an opposition against a dictatorship. To the ruling clique, the preparation of murders through the medium of a court or from behind an ambush is purely and simply a question of police technique. In the event of a failure, some second-rank agents can always be sacrificed. On the part of an opposition, terror presupposes the concentration of all forces upon preparing acts of terror, with the foreknowledge that every one of such acts, whether successful or unsuccessful, will evoke in reply the destruction of scores of its best men. An opposition could by no means permit itself such an insane squandering of its forces. It is precisely for this, and for no other reason, that the Comintern does not resort to terroristic attempts in the countries of fascist dictatorships. The Opposition is as little inclined to the policy of suicide as the Comintern.
According to the indictment, which banks on ignorance and mental laziness, the “Trotskyites” resolved to destroy the ruling group in order in this way to clear for themselves the path to power. The average Philistine, especially if he wears the badge of a “Friend of the USSR,” reasons as follows: “The Oppositionists could not but strive for power, and could not but hate the ruling group. Why, then, shouldn’t they really resort to terror?” In other words, for the Philistine the matter ends where in reality it only begins. The leaders of the Opposition are neither upstarts nor novices. It is not at all a question of whether they were striving for power. Every serious political tendency strives to conquer power. The question is: Could the Oppositionists, educated upon the enormous experience of the revolutionary movement, have entertained even a moment’s belief that terror is capable of bringing them closer to power? Russian history, Marxist theory, political psychology reply: No, they could not!
At this point, the problem of terror requires clarification, even though briefly, from the standpoint of the “anti-Soviet terror,” I am compelled to invest my exposition with an autobiographic character. In 1902, I had no sooner arrived in London from Siberia, after almost five years of prison and exile, than I had the occasion, in a memorial article devoted to the bicentennial of the fortress of Schlusselburg, with its hard-labor prison, to enumerate the revolutionists there tortured to death. “The shades of these martyrs clamor for vengeance.” But immediately thereafter I added: “Not for a personal, but for a revolutionary vengeance. Not for the execution of ministers, but for the execution of the autocracy.” These lines were directed wholly against individual terror. Their author was twenty-three years of age. From the earliest days of his revolutionary activity he was already an opponent of terror. From 1902 to 1905 I delivered, in various cities in Europe, before Russian students and émigrés, scores of political reports against terrorist ideology, which at the beginning of the century was once again spreading among the Russian youth.
Beginning with the ’eighties of the past century, two generations of Russian Marxists in their personal experience lived through the era of terror, learned from its tragic lessons, and organically instilled in themselves a negative attitude toward the heroic adventurism of lone individuals. Plekhanov, the founder of Russian Marxism; Lenin, the leader of Bolshevism; Martov, the most eminent representative of Menshevism; all dedicated thousands of pages and hundreds of speeches to the struggle against the tactic of terror.
The ideological inspiration emanating from these senior Marxists nourished my attitude toward the revolutionary alchemy of the shut-in intellectual circles during my adolescence. For us, the Russian revolutionists, the problem of terror was a life-and-death matter in the political as well as the personal meaning of the term. For us, a terrorist was not a character from a novel, but a living and familiar being. In exile we lived for years side by side with the terrorists of the older generation. In prisons and in police custody we met with terrorists of our own age. We tapped out messages back and forth, in the Peter and Paul fortress, with terrorists condemned to death. How many hours, how many days, were spent in passionate discussion! How many times did we break personal relationships on this most burning of all questions! The Russian literature on terrorism, nourished by and reflecting these debates, would fill a large library.
Isolated terroristic explosions are inevitable whenever political oppression transgresses certain boundaries. Such acts almost always have a symptomatic character. But politics that sanctifies terror, raising it into a system – that is a different thing. “Terrorist work,” I wrote in 1909, “in its very essence demands such a concentration of energy upon ‘the supreme moment,’ such an over-estimation of personal heroism and, lastly, such a hermetically concealed conspiracy as ... excludes completely any agitational and organizational activity among the masses ... Struggling against terrorism, the Marxian intelligentsia defended their right or their duty not to withdraw from the working-class districts for the sake of tunneling mines underneath the Grand Ducal and Tsarist palaces.” It is impossible to fool or outwit history. In the long run, history puts everybody in his place. The basic property of terror as a system is to destroy that organization which by means of chemical compounds seeks to compensate for its own lack of political strength. There are, of course, historical conditions where terror can introduce confusion among the governing ranks. But in that case who is it that can reap the fruits? At all events, not the terrorist organization itself, and not the masses behind whose backs the duel takes place. Thus, the liberal Russian bourgeois, in their day, invariably sympathized with terrorism. The reason is plain. In 1909 I wrote: “In so far as terror introduces disorganization and demoralization into the ranks of the Government (at the price of disorganizing and demoralizing the ranks of the revolutionists), to that extent it plays into the hands of none other than the liberals themselves.” The very same idea, expressed virtually in the same words, we meet a quarter of a century later in connection with the Kirov assassination.
The very fact of individual acts of terror is an infallible token of the political backwardness of a country and the feebleness of the progressive forces there. The revolution of 1905, which disclosed the vast strength of the proletariat, put an end to the romanticism of the single combat between a handful of intellectuals and Tsarism. “Terrorism in Russia is dead,” I reiterated in a number of articles. “... Terror has migrated far to the East – to the provinces of Punjab and Bengal ... It may be that in other countries of the Orient terrorism is still destined to pass through an epoch of flowering. But in Russia it is already a part of the heritage of history.”
In 1907 I found myself again in exile. The whip of counter-revolution was savagely at work, and the Russian colonies in European cities became very numerous. The entire period of my second emigration was devoted to reports and articles against the terror of vengeance and despair. In 1909 it was revealed that at the head of the terrorist organization of the so-called “Social Revolutionists” stood an agent provocateur, Azef. “In the blind alley of terrorism,” I wrote, “the hand of provocation rules with assurance” (January 1910). Terrorism has always remained for me nothing but a “blind alley.”
During the same period I wrote: “The irreconcilable attitude of the Russian Social Democracy towards the bureaucratized terror of the revolution as a means of struggle against the terrorist bureaucracy of Tsarism has met with bewilderment and condemnation not only among the Russian liberals but also among the European Socialists.” Both the latter and the former accused us of “doctrinairism.” On our part, we, the Russian Marxists, attributed this sympathy for Russian terrorism to the opportunism of the leaders of European Social Democracy who had become accustomed to transferring their hopes from the masses to the ruling summits. “Whoever stalks a ministerial portfolio ... as well as those who, clasping an infernal machine beneath a cloak, stalk the Minister himself, must equally overestimate the Minister – his personality and his post. For them the system itself disappears or recedes far away, and there remains only the individual invested with power. We shall presently, in connection with the Kirov assassination, meet once again with this thought, which runs through the decades of my activity.
In 1911 terrorist moods arose among certain groups of Austrian workers. Upon the request of Friedrich Adler, editor of Der Kampf, the theoretical monthly of the Austrian Social Democracy, I wrote in November, 1911, an article on terrorism for this publication:
Whether or not a terrorist attempt, even if “successful,” introduces confusion in the ruling circles depends upon the concrete political circumstances. In any case this confusion can be only of short duration. The capitalist state does not rest upon ministers and cannot be destroyed together with them. The classes whom the state serves will always find new men – the mechanism remains intact and continues to function. But much deeper is that confusion which the terrorist attempts introduce into the ranks of the working masses. If it is enough to arm oneself with a revolver to reach the goal, then to what end-are the endeavors of the class struggle? If a pinch of powder and a slug of lead are ample to shoot the enemy through the neck, where is the need of a class organization? If there is any rhyme or reason in scaring titled personages with the noise of an explosion, what need is there for a party? What is the need of meetings, mass agitation, elections, when it is so easy to take aim at the Ministerial bench from the Parliamentary gallery? Individual terrorism in our eyes is inadmissible precisely for the reason that it lowers the masses in their own consciousness, reconciles them to impotence, and directs their glances and hopes towards the great avenger and emancipator who will some day come and accomplish his mission.
Five years later, in the heat of the imperialist war, Friedrich Adler, who had spurred me to write this article, killed the Austrian Minister-President Stuergkh in a Vienna restaurant. The heroic skeptic and opportunist was unable to find any other outlet for his indignation and despair. My sympathies were, naturally, not on the side of the Hapsburg dignitary. However, to the individualist action of Friedrich Adler I counterpoised the form of activity of Karl Liebknecht who, during war-time, went out into a Berlin square to distribute a revolutionary manifesto to the workers.
On the 28th of December 1934, four weeks after the Kirov assassination, at a time when the Stalinist judiciary did not know as yet in which direction to aim the barb of their “justice,” I wrote in the Bulletin of the Opposition:
... If Marxists have categorically condemned individual terrorism – even when the shots were directed against the agents of the Tsarist Government and of capitalist exploitation, then all the more relentlessly will they condemn and reject the criminal adventurism of terrorist acts directed against the bureaucratic representatives of the first workers’ state in history. The subjective motivations of Nikolayev and his associates are a matter of indifference to us. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. So long as the Soviet bureaucracy has not been removed by the proletariat – a task which will eventually be accomplished – it fulfills a necessary function in the defense of the workers’ state. Should terrorism of the Nikolayev type spread, it could, given other unfavorable circumstances, render service only to the fascist counter-revolution.
Only political fakers who bank on imbeciles would endeavor to lay Nikolayev at the door of the Left Opposition, even if only in the guise of the Zinoviev group as it existed in 1926-1927. The terrorist organization of the Communist youth is fostered not by the Left Opposition but by the bureaucracy, by its internal decomposition. Individual terrorism in its very essence is bureaucratism turned inside out. For Marxists this law was not discovered yesterday. Bureaucratism has no confidence in the masses, and endeavors to substitute itself for the masses. Terrorism behaves in the same manner; it wants to make the masses happy without asking their participation. The Stalinist bureaucracy has created a revolting leader-cult, endowing leaders with divine attributes. The hero" cult is also the religion of terrorism, only with a minus sign. The Nikolayevs imagine that all that is necessary is to remove a few leaders by means of revolvers, in order for history to take another course. Communist-terrorists, as an ideological grouping, are of the same flesh and blood as the Stalinist bureaucracy. [January 1935, No.41]
These lines, as you have had the opportunity to convince yourselves, were not written ad hoc. They summarize the experience of a whole lifetime, which was in turn fed by the experience of two generations.
Already in the epoch of Tsarism, a young Marxist who went over to the ranks of the terrorist party was a comparatively rare phenomenon – rare enough to cause people to point their fingers. But at that time there was at least taking place an unceasing theoretical struggle between two tendencies; the publications of the two parties were waging a bitter polemic; public disputes did not cease for a single day. Now, on the other hand, they want to force us to believe that not young revolutionists, but old leaders of Russian Marxism, with the tradition of three revolutions behind them, have suddenly, without criticism, without discussion, without a single word of explanation, turned their faces toward the terrorism which they had always rejected, as a method of political suicide. The very possibility of such an accusation shows to what depths of debasement the Stalinist bureaucracy has dragged the official theoretical and political thought, not to mention Soviet justice. To political convictions gained through experience, sealed by theory, tempered in the white heat of the history of mankind, the falsifiers counterpose inchoate, contradictory, and utterly unsubstantiated testimonies of suspicious nonentities.
“Yes.” said Stalin and his agents, “we cannot deny that Trotsky did warn with the very same insistence against terrorist adventurism, not only in Russia but also in other countries in various stages of political development and under different conditions. But we have discovered in his lifetime a few instances which constitute an exception to the rule: In a conspiratorial letter he wrote to one Dreitzer [and which nobody ever saw]; in a conversation with Holtzman who was brought to Trotsky in Copenhagen by his son [who was at the time in Berlin]; in a conversation with Berman-Yurin and David [of whom I never heard prior to the first reports of the court proceedings], in these four or five instances Trotsky issued to his followers [who were in reality my bitterest opponents] terrorist instructions [without making any attempt either to justify them or to tie them up with the cause to which my entire life has been devoted]. If Trotsky had imparted his programmatic views on terror orally and in writing to hundreds of thousands and millions in the course of forty years, it was only in order to deceive them. His real views he expounded in strictest secrecy to the Bermans and the Davids.” And then a miracle came to pass! These inarticulate “instructions,” which rest wholly on the mental level of the Messrs. Vyshinsky, proved sufficient for this: That hundreds of old Marxists – automatically, without any objections, without uttering a syllable – turned to the path of terror. Such is the political basis of the trial of the sixteen (Zinoviev et al.). In other words, the trial of the sixteen completely lacks a political basis.
In the Moscow trials much was said about vast projects, plans. and criminal preparations. But all this took place in the realm of conversation, or rather of reminiscences of conversation, which the defendants had allegedly had with one another in the past. As we have already said, the trial record consists of nothing but conversation about conversations. The only real crime was the assassination of Kirov. But this very crime was committed neither by Oppositionists nor by capitulators passed off for Oppositionists by the GPU, but by one, perhaps by two or three, young Communists who fell into a trap baited by the GPU provocateurs. Regardless of whether the provocateurs intended to carry things to the point of assassination, the responsibility for the crime falls upon the GPU, which could not have acted in so serious a matter without direct orders from Stalin.
On what are these assertions based? All the materials needed for the answer are to be found in the official documents of Moscow. An analysis of these was made in my pamphlet, The Kirov Assassination and the Soviet Bureaucracy (1935), in Leon Sedov’s Livre Rouge, and in other works. Here I will briefly summarize the conclusions of this analysis:
1. Zinoviev, Kamenev and the others could not have organized the assassination of Kirov, because this assassination was utterly meaningless politically. Kirov was of the second rank, without any significance by himself. Who in the world had heard of Kirov before he was assassinated? Even if one were to admit the absurd notion that Zinoviev, Kamenev and the others had taken the path of individual terror, they could not but have understood that the murder of Kirov, promising no political results whatever, would provoke furious reprisals against all those suspected and mistrusted, and make further oppositional activity of any kind – especially terronsm – more difficult. Real terrorists would have begun with Stalin, as a matter of course. Among the accused were members of the Central Committee and of the Government, who had free access everywhere. The assassination of Stalin would have presented no difficulties for them. If the “capitulators” did not commit this act, it was only because they were serving Stalin, and were not struggling against him or seeking to assassinate him.
2. The assassination of Kirov threw the ruling caste into a state of panicky confusion. Although Nikolayev’s identity was immediately established, the first Government announcement did not link the assassination with the Opposition, but with White Guards who allegedly had entered the USSR from Poland, Rumania and other border states. No fewer than 104 “White Guards” were shot, according to the official figures. Over a period of more than two weeks, the Government found it necessary by means of summary executions to turn public attention in another direction and to efface certain clues. The White Guard version was abandoned only on the sixteenth day. No official explanation has yet been given of the first period of Government panic signalized by more than a hundred corpses.
3. In the Soviet press nothing whatever was said about how and under what circumstances Nikolayev killed Kirov, or about the post Nikolayev held, or his relations with Kirov, etc. Everything concrete, whether concerning the political or the purely external facts of the assassination, still remains shrouded in darkness. The GPU cannot tell what happened without revealing its initiative in the organization of the Kirov assassination.
4. Although Nikolayev and the thirteen other executed men said everything that was asked of them (and I assume that Nikolayev and his companions were subjected to physical torture), they did not have a word to say about the participation of Zinoviev, Bakayev, Kameney, or any other “Trotskyite” in the assassination. The GPU, obviously, never once questioned them along these lines. All the circumstances of the affair were still too fresh, the rôle of provocation still too obvious, and the GPU was less concerned about hunting for traces of the Opposition than with covering up its own tracks.
5. While the Radek-Pyatakov trial, which directly involved the governments of foreign states, took place publicly, the trial of the Komsomol Nikolayev, who killed Kirov, was conducted on December 28-29th, 1934, behind closed doors. Why? Apparently not for diplomatic, but for internal reasons; the GPU could not make a public display of its own work. It was necessary, first, quietly to exterminate the direct participants in the assassination and those closely connected with them; carefully to clean the hands of the GPU, and only then to fall upon the Opposition.
6. The Kirov assassination aroused such alarm within the bureaucracy itself that Stalin. on whom the shadow of suspicion had to fall in the circles of the initiated, was compelled to find a scapegoat. On January 23d, 1935, the trial of twelve leading functionaries of the Leningrad department of the GPU, headed by Medved, took place. The indictment admitted that Medved and his collaborators had “information about the preparation of the assassination of Kirov” in advance. The verdict declared that they “took no measures for the timely exposure and prevention” of the work of the terrorist group, “although they had every possibility of so doing.” Greater candor one cannot ask. All the accused were condemned to from two to ten years at hard labor. It is plain that: the GPU, through its provocateurs, played with Kirov’s head in order to involve the Opposition in the affair and then expose the conspiracy. Nikolayev, however, fired his shot without waiting for Medved’s permission, and thereby cruelly compromised the amalgam. Stalin used Medved as a scapegoat.
7. Our analysis finds complete confirmation in the rôle of the Latvian Consul Bisseneks, an obvious agent of the GPU. The Consul, according to Nikolayev’s confession, was in direct touch with him, gave him 5,000 rubles for carrying out his terroristic deed, and for no reason asked Nikolayev for a letter to Trotsky. Vyshinsky, in order to link my name at least indirectly to the Kirov case, introduced this astonishing episode into the indictment (January 1935), and thereby completely revealed the provocative rôle of the Consul. The name of the Consul was made public, however, only at the direct insistence of the diplomatic corps. Thereupon he disappeared from the scene without leaving a trace. In subsequent trials, Bisseneks was not once mentioned, although he had been in direct contact with the assassin and had financed the assassination. All the other “organizers” of the terrorist act against Kirov (Bakayev, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Mrachkovsky, etc.) knew nothing about the Consul Bisseneks and did not once mention his name. It is difficult to imagine a cruder, more confused, more shameless provocation!
8. Only after the real terrorists and their friends and accomplices – doubtless including the GPU agents involved in the conspiracy – had been wiped out, did Stalin consider it possible to go after the Opposition in earnest. The GPU arrested the leaders of the former Zinovievists and divided them into two groups. The Tass agency, on December 22d, said that there was not “sufficient basis for turning over to the court” the seven leading personalities, former members of the Central Committee. The less important members of the group, in accordance with the traditional technique of the GPU, were left beneath the suspended sword of Damocles. Under the threat of death, some of them testified against Zinoviev, Kamenev and the others. The testimony, it is true, did not deal with terror, but with “counter-revolutionary activity” in general (dissatisfaction, criticism of Stalin’s policies. etc.). But this testimony sufficed to force Zinoviev, Kamenev and the others to confess their “moral” responsibility for the terrorist act. At this price, Zinoviev and Kamenev (temporarily!) bought themselves off from the charge of direct participation in the assassination of Kirov.
9. On January 26th, 1935, I wrote to American friends (the letter was printed in the Bulletin of the Opposition, No. 42, February, 1935): “The strategy developed around Kirov’s corpse won Stalin no great laurels. But just for this reason he can neither stop nor retreat. Stalin will have to cover up the misbegotten amalgam by new, more extensive and ... more successful amalgams. We must meet them well armed!” The trials of 1936-37 confirmed this warning.
The Zinoviev-Kamenev trial (August 1936) was constructed entirely on the basis of terror. The task of the so-called “center” consisted in destroying the Government through the assassination of the “leaders,” and seizing power. With a careful comparison of the two trials, that of Zinoviev-Kamenev and that of Pyatakov. Radek, it is not difficult to convince oneself that the list of leaders who were doomed to extermination was drawn up not by terrorists but by their supposed victims – that is, above all by Stalin. His personal authorship emerges in a most revealing fashion in the question of Molotov.
According to the indictment in the case of Zinoviev et al, “the united Trotskyite-Zinovievite terrorist center, after it had killed Comrade Kirov, did not confine itself to organizing the assassination of Comrade Stalin alone. The terrorist Trotskyite-Zinovievite center simultaneously carried on work to organize assassinations of other leaders of the Party, namely, Comrades Voroshilov, Zhdanov, Kaganovich, Kossior, Orjonikidze and Poslyshev.” Molotov’s name is absent from this list. The listing of the victims singled out by the Trotskyites varied in the mouths of the several defendants at various stages of the preliminary investigation and the trial. But on one point it remained unaltered; none of the defendants named Molotov. According to Reingold’s statement during the preliminary investigation, “Zinoviev’s main instructions amounted to the following: The blow must be directed against Stalin, Kaganovich and Kirov.” At the evening session of August 19th, 1936, the same Reingold testified: “That is why the only method of struggle available is terroristic acts against Stalin and his closest comrades-in-arms, Kirov, Voroshilov, Kaganovich, Orjonikidze, Postyshev, Kossior and the others.” Molotov does not figure amongst the “closest comrades-in-arms,” Mrachkovsky testified: “... We were to kill Stalin, Voroshilov and Kaganovich. Stalin was to be killed first.” Again Molotov is not mentioned.
The matter is not otherwise with my “terrorist directives. “... Dreitzer’s group ... received instructions to murder Voroshilov directly from Trotsky,” says the indictment. According to Mrachkovsky. Trotsky in the autumn of 1932 “once again emphasized the necessity of killing Stalin, Voroshilov and Kirov:” In December, 1934. Mrachkovsky, through Dreitzer, received a letter from Trotsky urging him “to accelerate the assassination of Stalin and Voroshilov.” Dreitzer testifies to the same thing. Berman-Yurin states: “Trotsky also said that in addition to Stalin it was necessary to assassinate Kaganovich and Voroshilov:” Thus, in the course of some three years I gave instructions to assassinate Stalin, Voroshilov, Kirov and Kaganovich. There was no mention of Molotov. This circumstance is all the more remarkable because during the last years of my participation in the Political Bureau neither Kirov nor Kaganovich was a member of that body, and nobody considered them political figures, while Molotov occupied the first place after Stalin in the leading group. But Molotov is not only a member of the Political Bureau; he is also the head of the Government. His signature, alongside Stalin’s, adorns the most important Government orders. Despite all that, the terrorists of the “unified center,” as we have seen, obstinately ignore Molotovs existence. Hut – and this is the most astonishing thing – Prosecutor Vyshinsky not only fails to evince surprise at this omission, but, on the contrary, himself considers that it is quite in the order of things. Thus, at the morning session of August 19th, Vyshinsky asked Zinoviev, as regards the prepared terrorist acts: “Against whom?”
“Zinoviev: Against the leaders.
"Vyshinsky: That’s, against Comrades Stalin, Voroshilov and Kaganovich?”
The words “that is” leave no room for doubt: the Prosecutor officially excludes the head of the Government from the ranks of the leaders of the Party and the country. Finally, in drawing up the balance-sheet of the court hearings, the same Prosecutor, in his summation, thunders against the “Trotskyites,” “who raised their hand against the leaders of our Party, against Comrades Stalin, Voroshilov, Zhdanov, Kaganovich, Orjonikidze, Kossior and Postyshev, against our leaders, the leaders of the Soviet state” (Session of Aug. 22nd). The word “leaders” is repeated three times, but here again Molotov is not mentioned.
It is thus clearly indisputable that at the time of the lengthy preparation of the trial of the “unified center” there must have existed certain serious reasons for excluding Molotov from the list of “leaders.” The uninitiated in the secrets of the heads of the Government are completely at a loss to understand why the terrorists deemed it necessary to kill Kirov, Postyshev, Kossior, Zhdanov – “leaders” of provincial stature – and to ignore Molotov, who, as is generally recognized, looms one head, if not two, above these candidates for killing. Already, in the Livre Rouge, devoted to the Zinoviev-Kamenev trial, Sedov called attention to the ostracism of Molotov. Sedov writes:
“Among the leaders listed by Stalin as those whom the terrorists allegedly intended to kill were included not only leaders of the first magnitude but even the Zhdanovs, the Kossiors and the Postyshevs. But Molotov is not included. In matters of this kind Stalin never makes slips ...”
Where does the secret lie? In connection with the renunciation of the policies of the “third period.” there circulated persistent and stubborn rumors of friction between Stalin and Molotov. These rumors found an indirect but unmistakable reflection in the Soviet press; Molotov was not quoted, extolled, or photographed, and at times was not even mentioned. The Bulletin of the Opposition remarked upon this fact more than once. It is incontestable in any case that in August 1936 Stalin’s chief comrade-in-arms in the struggle with all the Oppositionist groups was publicly and rudely ejected from the staff of the ruling heads of the state. Thus it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the confessions of the accused, as well as my “directives,” were intended to assist in resolving a specific episodic task: to elevate Kaganovich, Zhdanov and others to the rank of “leaders,” and to discredit the old “leader,“ Molotov.
Perhaps, however, the matter is explained simply by the fact that at the time of the Zinoviev trial the judicial authorities did not yet have at their disposal the evidence on the attempts against Molotov?
Such a hypothesis will not withstand the least criticism. The “evidence” in these trials, as has been said, does not exist in general; the verdict of August 23rd, 1936, speaks of attempts (against Postyshev and Kossior) about which there is not a word in the court record. This consideration, however, which is not without importance of and by itself, is entirely overshadowed by comparison with the fact that the accused – and, above all, the members of the “center” – speak in their confessions not so much of attempts as of plans for attempts. It was exclusively a question of which persons the conspirators deemed it necessary to assassinate. The composition of the list of victims was consequently determined not by the materials of the preliminary investigation, but by a political appraisal of the leading figures. All the more astonishing is the fact that in the plans of the “center,” as well as in my “directives,” there entered all the possible and impossible candidates for martyrdom – except Molotov. Yet nobody ever considered Molotov a decorative figure like Kalinin, On the contrary, if one poses the question of who could replace Stalin, it is impossible to avoid answering that Molotov has incomparably greater chances than all the others.
Perhaps, however, the terrorists, on the basis of rumored discords among the leaders of the state, had simply decided to spare Molotov? As we shall see, this hypothesis will likewise not survive the test of examination. As a matter of fact, it was not the “terrorists” who spared Molotov, but it was Stalin who wished to create the impression that the terrorists did spare Molotov and thereby definitely break his opponent. Facts indicate that Stalin’s design was crowned with complete success. Even before the August trial there could be observed a reconciliation between Stalin and Molotov. This immediately found a reflection in the pages of the Soviet press, which, at a signal from above, set about restoring Molotov in his former authority. One could, on the basis of Pravda, give a very clear and convincing picture of the gradual rehabilitation of Molotov in the course of the year 1936. In remarking upon this fact, the Bulletin of the Opposition (No.50, May 1936) said:
“After the liquidation of the ‘third period,’ Molotov, as is well enough known, fell into semi-disgrace But finally he managed to get back into line.
“During the last weeks he has delivered himself of several panegyrics of Stalin ... By way of compensation ... his name occupies the second place, and he himself is called the closest ‘comrade-in-arms’.“
In this question, as in many others, comparison of the official publications of the bureaucracy with the Bulletin of the Opposition resolves many enigmas.
The Zinoviev-Kamenev trial reflected the period which preceded the reconciliation; it was impossible at a moment’s notice to change all the materials of the preliminary investigation! Furthermore, Stalin was not precipitate about a complete amnesty; Molotov had to be given an effective lesson. That is why Vyshinsky was still obliged in August to adhere to the former directive. On the other hand, the preparation of the Pyatakov-Radek trial took place already after the reconciliation. In conformity therewith, the list of victims is also changed, not only as concerns the future but also as regards the past. In his testimony of January 24th, Radek, referring to his interview with Mrachkovsky dating back to 1932, stated that he “did not have the slightest doubt that the acts were to be directed against Stalin and his immediate colleagues, against Kirov. Molotov, Voroshilov and Kaganovich.” According to the testimony of the witness Loginov, at the morning session of January 25th, Pyatakov, at the beginning of the summer of 1935, “said that the Trotskyite parallel center ... must quite definitely make preparations for terrorist acts against Stalin, Molotoy, Voroshilov and Kaganovich.” Naturally, Pyatakov does not fail to confirm the deposition of Loginov. The defendants in the last trial, in contradistinction to the members of the unified “center,” thus not only name Molotov among the intended victims, but also accord him first place after Stalin.
Who, then, drew up the list of proposed victims – the terrorists or the GPU? The answer is plain: Stalin, through the GPU! The hypothesis mentioned above, that the “Trotskyites” were aware of the friction between Stalin and Molotov and spared Molotov for political reasons, might be invested with a semblance of truth solely in the event that the “Trotskyites” engaged in the preparation of terrorist acts against Molotov only after his reconciliation with Stalin. But the “Trotskyites,” it seems, were striving to kill Molotov as far back as 1932: they had merely “forgotten” to speak about it in August 1936. and the Prosecutor “forgot” to remind them of it.
But no sooner had Molotov obtained political amnesty from Stalin than the memories of both the Prosecutor and the accused were instantly refreshed. And that is why we are witnesses to a miracle; despite the fact that Mrachkovsky himself in his testimony had spoken of the preparation of terrorist acts only against Stalin, Kirov, Voroshilov and Kaganovich, Radek. on the basis of a conversation with Mrachkovsky in 1932, retrospectively included Molotov’s name in this list. Pyatakov spoke, supposedly to Loginov, about the preparation of attempts on Molotov at the beginning of the summer of 1935 – that is, more than a year before the Zinovsev trial. Finally, the defendants Muralov, Shestov and Arnold spoke about the “actual” attempt on Molotov, which took place in the year 1934 – more than two years before the trial of the “unified center”! The conclusions are absolutely dear; the defendants had as little freedom in their choice of “victims” as in all other respects. The list of those selected as the targets of the terrorists was in fact a list of leaders officially recommended to the masses. It was altered in accordance with the combinations at the top. It only remained for the defendants, as also for the Prosecutor, Vyshinsky, to conform to the totalitarian instructions.
There remains one more possible objection: But does not this whole machination appear too crude? To that we must reply: It is no more crude than all the other machinations in these infamous trials. The stage manager appeals to neither reason nor criticism. He aims to crush the authority of reason by the massiveness of the frame-up, signed and sealed by the firing squad.
The crudest part of the judicial frame-up, alike in design and execution, is the charge of sabotage against the “Trotskyites.” This aspect of the trial, which constitutes one of the most important elements of the whole amalgam, has convinced nobody (if one excludes gentlemen of the type of Duranty and Company). The world learned, from the indictment and the proceedings, that all Soviet industry was virtually in the control of “a handful of Trotskyites.” Nor were matters any better as regards transportation. But of what did the Trotskyite acts of sabotage really consist? In Pyatakov’s confessions, corroborated by the testimony of his former subordinates who sat beside him on the prisoners’ bench, it was revealed that: (a) plans for new factories were too slowly drafted. and revised time and again; (b) the construction of factories took far too long, and caused the immobilization of colossal sums; (c) enterprises were put into operation in an unfinished state and consequently were quickly ruined; (d) there were disproportions among the various sections of new plants, with the result that the productive capacity of the factories was reduced in the extreme; (e) the plants accumulated superfluous reserves of raw materials and supplies, thus transforming living capital into dead capital; (f) supplies were wildly squandered, etc. All these phenomena, long known as the chronic diseases of Soviet economic life, are now put forward as the fruits of a malicious conspiracy which Pyatakov led – naturally, under my orders.
However, it remains perfectly incomprehensible what, while all this went on, was the rôle of the state organs of industry and finance, and of the accounting authorities, not to speak of the Party, which has its nuclei in all institutions and enterprises. If one believes the indictment, the leadership of economy was not in the hands of the “genial, infallible leader,” nor in the hands of his closest collaborators, the members of the Politburo and of the Government, but in the hands of an isolated man, already nine years in banishment and exile. How is one to understand this? According to a Moscow dispatch to the New York Times (March 25th, 1937), the new chief of heavy industry, V. Mezhlauk, at a meeting of his subordinates, revealed the criminal rôle of the saboteurs in the drawing up of false plans. But up to the time of Orjonikidze’s death (February 18th, 1937), Mezhlauk himself was at the head of the State Planning Commission, whose special task was precisely to examine economic plans and projects. Thus, in its pursuit of frame-ups, the Soviet Government issues to itself a degrading certificate of bankruptcy. Not for nothing does the Temps, semi-official mouthpiece of the French ally, remark that it would have been better never to have let this part of the trial see daylight.
What has just been said about industry applies wholly to transportation as well. Railroad specialists calculate that the carrying capacity of a railroad has certain technical limits. From the time when Kaganovich took over the management of the transportation system, the “theory of limits” was officially declared to be a bourgeois prejudice; worse yet, the invention of saboteurs. Hundreds of engineers and technicians had to atone for their direct or indirect support of the “theory of limits.” Undoubtedly many old specialists, trained under the conditions of capitalist economy, flagrantly underestimated the possibilities inherent in planned methods, and were consequently inclined to set extremely low norms. But that does not at all mean that the tempos of the economy depend solely on the inspiration and energy of the bureaucracy. The general industrial equipment of the country, the reciprocal interdependence of the various branches of industry, transportation and agriculture, the level of skill of the workers, the percentage of experienced engineers, and, lastly, the general material and cultural level of the population – these are the essential factors which have the last word in the fixing of limits. The effort of the bureaucracy to violate these factors by naked commands, reprisals and premiums (“Stakhanovism”) inevitably exacts harsh penalties in the form of disorganization of plants, damage of machinery, a high proportion of damaged goods, accidents and disasters. There is not the slightest ground for dragging a “Trotskyite conspiracy” into this matter.
The task of the prosecution is extremely complicated by the additional fact that from February 1930 onwards, I exposed in the press, systematically and persistently, year in and year out, from one month to the next, the self-same vices of bureaucratized economy which are now being charged against a fantastic ’Trotskyist” organization. I proved that Soviet industry required not maximum but optimum tempos – i.e., such tempos as would, by resting upon mutual correspondence among various sections of one and the same enterprise and among various enterprises, insure the uninterrupted growth of economy in the future. I wrote in the Bulletin of the Opposition on February 13th, 1930:
Industry is racing towards a crisis, above all because of the monstrous bureaucratic methods of collating the plan. A five-year plan can be drafted, preserving the necessary proportions and guarantees, only on the condition of a free discussion of the tempos and the terms set, with the participation in the discussion of all the interested forces in industry, the working class, all its organizations, and above all the Party itself; with the free verification of the entire experience of Soviet economy in the recent period, including the monstrous mistakes of the leadership – A plan of socialist construction cannot be arrived at in the guise of an a priori departmental directive.
The “Trotskyites,” we are told at every step, constitute an insignificant handful, isolated from and hated by the masses. It is for this very reason that they allegedly resorted to the methods of individual terror. The picture alters completely, however, when we come to sabotage. To be sure, a single man can throw sand into a machine or blow up a bridge. But in the court we hear of such methods of sabotage as would be possible only if the entire administrative apparatus were in the hands of the saboteurs. Thus, the accused Shestov, a transparent agent provocateur, at the session of January 25th:
And finally, at all the mines – the Prokopyevsk, the Anzherka and the Lenin Mines – the Stakhanov movement was sabotaged. Instructions were issued to worry the life out of the workers. Before a worker reached his place of work, he must be made to heap two hundred curses on the heads of the pit management. Impossible conditions of work were created. Normal work was rendered impossible, not only for Stakhanov methods but even for ordinary methods.
All that was done by the “Trotskyites”. Obviously, the whole administration from top to bottom was composed of “Trotskyites.”
Not content with this, the prosecution also lists acts of sabotage which would be unrealizable without the active or at least passive support of the workers themselves. Thus, the President of the Court cites the following statement of the accused Muralov who, in his turn, cites the accused Boguslavsky: “Trotskyites on the railways ... were putting locomotives out of commission, disrupting the traffic schedule and causing jams at the stations, thereby delaying the transportation of urgent freight.” The crimes enumerated simply mean that the railroads were in the hands of the “Trotskyites.” Not satisfied with this excerpt from Muralov’s testimony, the President asks him:
And quite lately Boguslavsky carried on wrecking activities on the construction of the Eiche-Sokol line?
The President: And as a result disrupted the construction job?
And that is all. How Boguslavsky and two or three other “Trotskyites,” without the support of the employees and workers, could have disrupted the construction work of a whole railroad line, remains entirely incomprehensible.
The dates of the sabotage are contradictory in the extreme. According to the most important testimony, sabotage in 1934 was “something new.” But the aforementioned Shestov places the beginning of Sabotage at the end of the year 1931. In the course of the court proceedings the dates are shifted, now forward, now backward. The mechanism of these shiftings is quite clear. Most of the concrete accusations of sabotage or “diversion” are based upon some mishap, failure or disaster which really occurred in industry or transportation. Beginning with the first Five-Year Plan there were not a few failures and accidents. The indictment chooses those which can be linked to one or another of the defendants. Hence flow the interminable jumps in the chronology of the sabotage. In any case, as far as one can make out, the general “directive” was first given by me only in 1934.
The most vicious manifestations of “sabotage” are now discovered in the chemical industry, where the internal proportions were especially grossly violated. Yet seven years ago, when the Soviet power first really began building this branch of industry, I wrote:
For example, the solution of the question as to what place the chemical industry should occupy in the plan for the years immediately ahead can be prepared only by an open struggle among the various economic groupings and various branches of industry for their share of chemistry in the national economy. Soviet democracy is not the demand of abstract politics, and still less of morality. It has become a matter of economic necessity.
What was the real situation in this respect? “Industrialization,” I wrote in the same article, “is more and more kept going by the administrative whip. Equipment and labor forces are being strained. The disproportions between the individual branches of industry are accumulating.” Knowing only too well the Stalinist methods of self-defense, I added: “It is not difficult to forecast the response our analysis will evoke in official circles. Functionaries will say that we are speculating on a crisis. Scoundrels will add that we seek the downfall of the Soviet power – That will not stop us. Slanders pass, facts remain.”
I do not intend to burden the record with citations. But I am ready to demonstrate with a collection of my articles in my hand that for seven years, on the basis of the official Soviet press reports, I untiringly warned against the ruinous consequences of skipping the period of laboratory preparation, of putting incomplete plants into operation, of supplanting technical training and correct organization by frantic and senseless reprisals, and, not infrequently, fantastic premiums. All the economic “crimes” referred to at the last trial were analyzed by me countless times – beginning in February 1930 and ending in my latest book, The Revolution Betrayed – as the inevitable consequences of the bureaucratic system. I have not the slightest ground for boasting of my perspicacity. All I had to do was to follow attentively the official reports and draw rudimentary conclusions from the incontestable facts.
If the “sabotage” of Pyatakov and the others, as the indictment states, began actively only around the year 1934, how is one to explain the fact that already in the four preceding years I demanded the radical remedying of those diseases of Soviet industry which are now represented as due to the malicious activities of “Trotskyites”? But perhaps my critical work was mere “camouflage”? According to the real sense of that term, such camouflage could only have been intended to conceal crimes. Yet my criticism, on the contrary, exposed them. It thus transpires that while secretly organizing sabotage, I did everything in my power to draw the attention of the Government to the acts of “sabotage” and thereby – to the perpetrators. All this would have been extremely clever – if it were not so utterly nonsensical.
The system of Stalin and his police and prosecution agents is quite simple. For major accidents in plants, and especially for train wrecks, usually several employees were shot, often those who shortly before had been decorated for achieving high tempos. The result has been universal distrust and discontent. The last trial was intended to personify in Trotsky the causes for the accidents and disasters. Against Ormuzd, the spirit of good, was to be set the evil spirit Ahriman. Following the unchanging course of current Soviet legal procedure, all the accused naturally confessed their guilt. Is it any wonder? For the G.P.U. it is no great labor to place before a certain number of their victims the alternative: Either be shot immediately, or preserve a shadow of hope on the condition that you agree to appear in court in the guise of “Trotskyites,” conscious saboteurs of industry and transportation. The rest requires no commentary.
The conduct of the Prosecutor in court constitutes in itself deadly evidence against the real conspirators. Vyshinsky limits himself to simple questions: “Do you confess yourself guilty of sabotage? Of organizing accidents and wrecks? Do you confess that the directives came from Trotsky?” But he never asks how the accused carried out their crimes in practice: how they succeeded in getting their wrecking plans adopted by the highest state institutions; in hiding the sabotage for years from their superiors and subordinates; In procuring the silence of local authorities, specialists, workers, etc. As always, Vyshinsky is the chief accomplice of the GPU in the frame-up and the deception of public opinion.
The extent of the shamelessness of the inquisitors, moreover, is seen in the fact that the accused, on the persistent demand of the prosecution, declared – though, to be sure, not without reluctance – that they deliberately strove to cause as many human victims as possible, in order thus to inspire discontent among the workers, But that is not all. On March 24th – that is, just a few days ago – a dispatch from Moscow related the shooting of three “Trotskyites” for malicious arson of a school in Novosibirsk in which many children were burned to death. Permit me also to recall that my younger son, Sergei Sedov, was arrested on the charge of attempting the mass poisoning of workers. Let us for a moment imagine that the Government of the United States had, on the heels of the Texas school disaster which shocked the entire world, launched throughout the country a rabid campaign against the Comintern and charged it with the malicious extermination of children, and we get an approximate notion of the current policy of Stalin. Such vile charges, possible only in the polluted atmosphere of a totalitarian regime, bear their refutation within themselves.
To bolster up the all too improbable accusation of an alliance of the “Trotskyites” with Germany and Japan, the foreign attorneys of the GPU are circulating the following versions:
1. Lenin, with the agreement of Ludendorff, crossed Germany during the war, in order to be able to carry out his revolutionary tasks.
2. The Bolshevik Government did not shrink from ceding enormous territory and paying indemnity to Germany, in order to save the Soviet regime.
Conclusion: Why not admit that Trotsky entered into agreement with the same German General Staff in order to secure, through the cession of territory, the possibility of realizing his aims in the rest of the country?
This analogy represents, in reality, the most monstrous and poisonous slander against Lenin and the Bolshevik Party as a whole.
1. Lenin actually crossed Germany by utilizing the false hopes of Ludendorff that Russia would disintegrate as a result of internal struggle. But how did Lenin proceed in this matter?
(a) He did not conceal for a moment either his program or the purpose of his trip;
(b) He called in Switzerland a small conference of internationalists from various countries who fully approved his plan to travel to Russia through Germany;
(c) Lenin did not enter into any political agreement with the German authorities, and made the condition that no one was to enter his car during the passage across Germany;
(d) Immediately upon his arrival in Petrograd, Lenin explained before the Soviet and the laboring masses the purport and nature of his trip through Germany.
Audacity of decision and carefulness of preparation characterize Lenin also in this episode; but no less is he characterized by full and unconditional honesty towards the working class, to whom he is ready at any moment to render an accounting for each of his political steps.
2. The Bolshevik Government really did cede great territory to Germany after the peace of Brest-Litovsk, in order to save the Soviet régime in the rest of the country. But:
(a) The Soviet Government had no other choice;
(b) The decision was adopted not behind the backs of the people. but only after an open and public discussion;
(c) The Bolshevik Government did not for one moment conceal from the popular masses that the Brest-Litovsk peace signified a transitory and partial capitulation of the proletarian revolution to capitalism.
In this case, too, we have a full concordance of aims and methods and an unconditional honesty of the leadership before the public opinion of the toiling masses.
Now, let us see what sense there is in the accusation against me. I have allegedly concluded an agreement with fascism and militarism on the following basis:
The activity ascribed to me has consequently nothing in common with the above-mentioned example of Lenin’s activity, but in every respect represents its direct opposite.
The Brest-Litovsk peace was a temporary retreat, a compulsory compromise, with the object of saving the Soviet power and realizing the revolutionary program. A secret alliance with Hitler and the Mikado is a betrayal of the interests of the working class for the sake of personal power, or rather the illusion of power – i.e., the basest of all possible crimes.
To be sure, some attorneys of the GPU are inclined to dilute with water the over-potent wine of Stalin. It may be, they say, that Trotsky agreed only verbally to restore capitalism, but in reality was preparing to realize in the remaining territory a policy in the spirit of his program. In the first place, this variant contradicts the confessions of Radek, Pyatakov and others. But, independently of this fact, it is just as senseless as the official version given in the indictment. The program of the Opposition is the program of international Socialism. How could an experienced adult imagine that Hitler and the Mikado, possessing a complete list of his treasons and abominable crimes, would permit him to realize a revolutionary program? How could one hope, anyway, to achieve power at the price of acts of high treason in the service of a foreign general staff? Is it not clear in advance that Hitler and the Mikado, after using such an agent to the limit, would fling him aside like a squeezed lemon? Could the conspirators, headed by six members of Lenin’s Political Bureau, have failed to understand this? The accusation is thus internally meaningless in both its variants – the official variant, which speaks of the restoration of capitalism, and the semi-official variant, which concedes to the conspirators a hidden design – to fool Hitler and the Mikado.
To this it is necessary to add that it must have been clear in advance to the conspirators that the conspiracy could in no case remain undiscovered. At the Zinoviev-Kamenev trial, Olberg and others testified that the “collaboration’ of the “Trotskyites” with the Gestapo was not an exception but a “system.” Consequently, scores and hundreds of people must have been initiated into this system. The commission of terrorist acts – and especially sabotage – would, in its turn, require hundreds and even thousands of agents. Discovery, therefore, would be absolutely unavoidable – with simultaneous exposure of the alliance of the “Trotskyites” with the fascist and Japanese spies. Could anyone but a lunatic hope to arrive at power in this way?
But that is still not all. The acts of sabotage, like acts of tenor, presuppose on the part of their executors a readiness for seif-sacrifice. When a German fascist or a Japanese agent risks his head in the USSR, he is impelled by such powerful stimuli as patriotism, nationalism, chauvinism. By what stimuli could the “Trotskyites” have been driven? Let us grant that the “leaders,” having lost their senses, hoped to seize power by such methods. But what were the driving motives of Berman-Yurin, David, Olberg, Arnold and many others who, taking the actual path of terrorism and sabotage, thereby condemned themselves to certain death? A man is capable of sacrificing his life only for the sake of some high ideal, even though it be a mistaken one. What high ideal did the “Trotskyites” have? The desire to dismember the USSR? The desire to give Trotsky power for the sake of the restoration of capitalism? Sympathy for German fascism? The desire to supply Japan with oil for a war against the United States? Neither the official nor the semi-official version furnishes any answer whatever to the question: For the sake of what were the hundreds of executors ready to stake their heads? The whole construction of the indictment is mechanical. It ignores the psychology of living men. In this sense, the indictment is the logical product of a totalitarian régime, with its disregard and contempt for men when they do not happen to be “leaders.”
The second fantastic theory which is put into circulation by the friends of the GPU declares that in view of my general position I am presumably politically interested in expediting war. The usual line of argument is as follows: Trotsky is for the international revolution. It is well known that war often produces revolution. Ergo, Trotsky must be interested in expediting war.
People who believe this, or who ascribe such ideas to me, have a very feeble conception of revolution, war, and their interdependence.
War has in fact often expedited revolution. But precisely for this reason it has often led to abortive results, War sharpens social contradictions and mass discontent. But that is insufficient for the triumph of the proletarian revolution. Without a revolutionary party rooted in the masses, the revolutionary situation leads to the most cruel defeats. The task is not to ’expedite” war ... for this, unfortunately, the imperialists of all countries are working, not unsuccessfully. The task is to utilize the time which the imperialists still leave to the working masses for the building of a revolutionary party and revolutionary trade unions.
It is in the vital interest of the proletarian revolution that the outbreak of war be delayed as long as possible, that the maximum possible time be gained for preparation. The more firm, the more courageous, the more revolutionary the conduct of the toilers, the more the imperialists will hesitate, the more surely will it be possible to postpone war, the greater will be the chances that the revolution will occur prior to war and perhaps make war itself impossible.
It is precisely because the Fourth International stands for the international revolution that it is one of the factors working against war; for – I repeat – the only check to a new world war is the fear, among the propertied classes, of revolution.
War, we are told, creates a revolutionary situation. But have we had a lack of revolutionary situations in the period from 1917 until today? Let us glance briefly at the post-war period:
Despite the superabundance of revolutionary situations, the toiling masses have not carried off any revolutionary victory in any of the enumerated cases. What is lacking? A party capable of utilizing the revolutionary situation.
The Social Democracy has sufficiently demonstrated in Germany that it is hostile to the revolution. It now demonstrates this anew in France (Leon Blum). The Comintern, for its part, having usurped the authority of the October Revolution, disorganizes the revolutionary movement in all countries. The Comintern has, in reality, regardless of its intentions, become the best assistant of fascism and reaction in general.
Precisely for this reason there rises before the proletariat the iron necessity of building new parties and a new international which correspond to the character of our epoch – an epoch of great social convulsions and permanent war danger.
If, in the event of a new war, the masses are not headed by a bold, courageous, consistent revolutionary party, tested through experience and enjoying the confidence of the masses, a new revolutionary situation would throw society back. A war may, under such circumstances, terminate not with a victorious revolution, but with the crumbling of our whole civilization. One would have to be pathetically blind not to see this danger.
War and revolution are the gravest and most tragic phenomena in human history. You cannot joke with them. They do not tolerate dilettantism. We must understand clearly the interrelationship of war and revolution. We must understand no less clearly the interrelationship of the objective revolutionary factors, which cannot be induced at will, and the subjective factor of the revolution – the conscious vanguard of the proletariat, its party. It is necessary to prepare this party with the utmost energy.
Can one admit for a moment that the so-called “Trotskyites,” the extreme left wing, hounded and persecuted by all other tendencies, would devote their forces to contemptible adventures, sabotage and war provocation, instead of building a new revolutionary party capable of meeting the revolutionary situation well armed? Only the cynical contempt of Stalin and his school for world public opinion, together with Stalin’s primitive police cunning, are capable of creating such a monstrous and nonsensical accusation!
I have explained in scores of articles and hundreds of letters that a military defeat of the USSR would inevitably signify the restoration of capitalism in a semi-colonial form under a fascist political régime, the dismemberment of the country, and the wrecking of the October Revolution. Indignant at the policy of the Stalinist bureaucracy, many of my former political friends in various countries arrived at the conclusion that we cannot take upon ourselves the obligation “unconditionally” to defend the USSR Opposing this attitude, I argued that it is impermissible to identify the bureaucracy with the USSR; that the new social foundation of the USSR must be unconditionally defended against imperialism; that the Bonapartist bureaucracy will be overthrown by the toiling masses only on condition that the foundation of the new economic régime of the USSR is preserved. On this question I broke publicly and demonstratively with dozens of old and hundreds of new friends. My archives contain an enormous correspondence devoted to the question of the defense of the USSR. Finally, my latest book, The Revolution Betrayed, gives a detailed analysis of the military and diplomatic policies of the USSR, expressly from the standpoint of the defense of the country. Now, by the grace of the GPU, it appears that while breaking with many close friends who did not understand the necessity of unconditional defense of the USSR against imperialism, I was actually concluding alliances with the imperialists and urging the destruction of the economic foundation of the USSR.
It is impossible to discern, moreover, exactly what Germany and Japan contributed in practice to the alliance. The “Trotskyites” sold their heads to the Mikado and Hitler; what did they receive in exchange? Money is the sinews of war; did the “Trotskyites” at least receive money from Germany and Japan? Not a word of this in the trial. The Prosecutor is not even interested in this question. At the same time it appears, from references to other financial sources, that neither Germany nor Japan gave any money. What, then, did they give to the “Trotskyites”? Throughout the trial this question receives not a shadow of an answer. The alliance with Germany and Japan rests wholly in the domain of metaphysics. To this I would add that it is the most dastardly of all the police metaphysics in the history of mankind!
The “Copenhagen” chapter of the trial of the sixteen (Zinoviev and others) is, by virtue of the accumulation of contradictions and absurdities, the most monstrous of all its chapters. The facts relating to Copenhagen have been established and analyzed long since in a number of books, beginning with Le Livre Rouge by L. Sedov. I have presented to the Commission the most important documents and evidence, and I reserve the right to present supplementary material in the further course of the investigation. That is why I will be as brief as possible concerning the “terrorist week” in Copenhagen.
I accepted the invitation of the Danish students to lecture in Copenhagen, in the hope that I would succeed in remaining in Denmark or in securing admission to another European country.
This hope was not realized because of pressure exerted by the Soviet Government on the Danish Government (threat of economic boycott).In order to deter other countries from offering me their hospitality, the GPU decided to transform my week’s stay in Copenhagen into a week of “terrorist plotting.” Holtzman, Berman-Yurin and David allegedly visited me in the Danish capital. All three arrived independently of one another, and each one received separate terrorist instructions from me. Olberg, who was in Berlin, received similar instructions from me from Copenhagen, but in the shape of a letter.
The most important witness against myself and Leon Sedov is Holtzman, an old member of the party and personally known to both of us. Holtzman’s confessions during the preliminary investigation, and at the trial itself, are distinguished from the confessions of most of the defendants by their extreme meagerness. Suffice it to say that, despite the insistence of the Prosecutor, Holtzman denied any participation whatever in the terrorist activity. Holtzman’s testimony must be regarded as the least common denominator of all the depositions. Holtzman agreed to admit only the terrorist plans of Trotsky and the participation in them of Leon Sedov. It is precisely the meagerness of Holtzman’s confessions which at first glance invests them with exceptional weight. Yet it is precisely the testimony of Holtzman which crumbles into dust upon contact with facts. The documents and affidavits presented by me, which I refrain from enumerating again, establish with certainty that, contrary to Holtzman’s declaration, Sedov was not in Copenhagen, and consequently could not have brought Holtzman to me, especially from a Hotel Bristol demolished in 1917. Moreover, the statements of the three other “terrorists” – Berman-Yurin, David, and Olberg – improbable in themselves, undermine one another and conclusively invalidate the testimony of Holtzman.
Holtzman, Berman-Yurin and David were, one and all, according to their own words, sent to Copenhagen by Leon Sedov. But the presence of Sedov in Copenhagen is mentioned by neither Berman nor David. Only Holtzman was supposed to have met Sedov in the vestibule of a razed hotel.
Berman-Yurin and David, who, according to their own admissions were utter strangers to me, are supposed to have been first recommended to me by my son, at the time a twenty-six year old student. Thus it follows that I concealed my terrorist views from those closest to me, while issuing terrorist instructions to chance acquaintances. This perplexing fact can be explained only in one way – those who were “chance acquaintances” to me were not at all “chance acquaintances” to the GPU.
A fourth terrorist, Olberg, declared at the evening session of August 20th, 1936: “Before my departure for the Soviet Union, I intended to go to Copenhagen with Sedov to see Trotsky. Our trip did not materialize, but Suzanna, Sedov’s wife, went there. On her return she brought a letter from Trotsky addressed to Sedov, in which Trotsky agreed to my going to the USSR ...” (My emphasis.)
My Berlin friends, the Pfemferts, as appears from their letter of April 30th, 1930, already at that period regarded Olberg, if not as a GPU agent, at least as a candidate for the job. I rejected his proposal that he come to Prinkipo from Berlin as my Russian secretary. It is all the more inconceivable that two years later I should have given him “terrorist instructions.” But Olberg, unlike Berman-Yurin and David, did really engage in correspondence with me at one time, made Sedov’s personal acquaintance in Berlin, met him several times, was acquainted with Sedov’s friends – in short, to a certain degree moved in his circle. Olberg had the opportunity to learn and, as his testimony shows, really did learn, that the attempts of my son to reach Copenhagen proved unsuccessful, but that his wife, who had a French passport, did go there.
All the four “terrorists” declare, as you observe, that it was Sedov who put them in touch with me. But from that point on their testimony diverges. According to Holtzman, Sedov himself was in Copenhagen. Berman-Yurin and David make no mention of Sedov’s presence in Copenhagen. Finally, Olberg categorically insists that Sedov was unable to make the trip to Copenhagen. The most astonishing thing of all is that the Prosecutor pays not the least attention to these contradictions.
At the disposal of the Commission there is, as I have stated, documentary proof that Sedov was not in Copenhagen. The testimony of Olberg and the silence of Berman-Yurin and David corroborate this fact. The most imposing testimony against Sedov and myself, that of Holtzman, thus crumbles into dust. There is nothing astonishing in the fact that the friends of the GPU seek at any price to save the testimony of Holtzman, on which hangs the whole story of the Copenhagen “terrorist week.” Hence the hypothesis: Sedov might have gone to Copenhagen illegally without the knowledge of Olberg and the others. In order to deprive my adversaries of their last loophole, I shall dwell briefly on this hypothesis.
What need had Sedov to risk an illegal journey? All that we know about his alleged stay in Copenhagen is reduced to this: That he brought Holtzman from the Hotel Bristol to my apartment and during my conversation with Holtzman “very often Trotsky’s son Sedov came in and out of the roam.” That is all was it worth while to make an illegal journey from Berlin just for that?
Berman-Yurin and David, who, according to their own admissions, had never met me before, were able to locate me in Copenhagen without the help of Sedov who, as can be gathered from their own statements, gave them all the necessary directions in Berlin. It was all the easier for Holtzman, who had met me in the past, to ascertain my whereabouts. No sensible person will believe that Sedov traveled with a false passport from Berlin to Copenhagen in order to bring Holtzman to my apartment, while leaving Berman-Yurin and David, whom he had also sent from Berlin and whom I did not know personally, without any attention.
But perhaps Sedov came to Copenhagen illegally to meet his parents? This supposition might, at first glance, seem a trifle more plausible if Sedov had not, several days later, journeyed to France quite legally for the same purpose – that is, for a meeting with his parents.
But, persist the friends of the GPU, could not Sedov have made a second and legal trip solely to hide the first illegal trip? Let us for a moment picture this combination in all its concreteness. Entirely openly, in the view of all, Sedov busies himself with the preparations for his trip to Copenhagen. In other words, he hides from nobody his intention of meeting us. All our friends in Copenhagen know that we expect our son. His wife and attorney arrive in Copenhagen, and tell their friends of his unsuccessful efforts. Now they ask us to believe that, failing to secure a visa, Sedov procures a false passport and arrives secretly in Copenhagen unbeknown to any of our friends. There he meets Holtzman in the vestibule of a hotel which does not exist, brings him to a meeting with me without being seen by my guards, and during my conversation with Holtzman keeps coming “in and out of the room.” Thereafter, he disappears from Copenhagen as miraculously as he appeared. Upon returning to Berlin, he manages to obtain a French visa, and already on December 5th meets us again in Paris at the Gare du Nord. And all this to what end?
On the one hand, we have the testimony of Holtzman, who has not a single word to say regarding the kind of passport he used for his journey to Copenhagen (the state Prosecutor does not, of course, question him on this point), and who, as the crowning misfortune, indicates a non-existent hotel as his meeting place with the absent Sedov. On the other hand, we have the silence of Berman-Yurin and David about Sedov, the absolutely true assertion that Olberg and Sedov remained in Berlin, upwards of a score of affidavits corroborating the statements of Sedov, his mother and myself, and, for added measure, plain common sense, whose authority cannot be denied.
To sum up: Sedov was not in Copenhagen; the testimony of Holtzman is false. Holtzman is the chief witness for the prosecution. The whole “Copenhagen week” crumbles into dust.
I can state a number of supplementary arguments, which ought to dispel the last shred of doubt, if any is at all possible in this matter.
The judges and the state Prosecutor do not raise a single concrete question, for fear that an incautious gesture might topple the flimsy structure.
The organ of the Danish governmental party, Sozialdemokraten, immediately after the trial of Zinoviev and Kamenev, on September 1st, 1936, stated that the Hotel Bristol, in which the alleged meeting between Holtzman and Sedov took place, was demolished in the year 1917. Moscow justice met this not unimportant revelation with a deep silence. One of the GPU lawyers, presumably the irreplaceable Pritt, advanced the supposition that the stenographer in writing the name “Bristol” made a slip of the pen. If one considers that the trials were conducted in Russian, then it is entirely incomprehensible how a Russian stenographer could have made a mistake with such an un-Russian word as “Bristol” The carefully corrected reports of the court proceedings were, furthermore, read by the judges and the public. Foreign journalists attended the trial. No one noticed the “slip of the pen” before the revelation of Sozialdemokraten. The episode naturally became widely known. The Stalinists kept silent for five months.
Only in February of this year did the Comintern make a saving discovery: There really was no Hotel Bristol in Copenhagen, but there is, however, a confectioner’s shop named Bristol which is contiguous to a hotel by virtue of a joint wall. To be sure, this hotel is called the Grand Hotel Copenhagen, but it is, nevertheless, a hotel. To be sure, the confectioner’s shop is not a hotel; still, its name is Bristol. According to Holtzman, the meeting took place in the vestibule of the hotel. To be sure, the confectioner’s shop has no vestibule; but on the other hand, the hotel, which is not called the Bristol, does have a vestibule. To this it must be added that, as it appears even in the diagrams published in the Comintern press, the entrances to the shop and to the hotel are on different streets. Now, where did the meeting really take place? In the vestibule without the Bristol or in the Bristol without the vestibule?
Let us, however, assume for a moment that Holtzman had confused the shop and the hotel in arranging the meeting with Sedov in Berlin. How, then, did Sedov discover the place of the meeting? Let us meet the authors of the hypothesis more than half way and let us suppose that Sedov had demonstrated an unusual resourcefulness, that he turned into the other street and there found an entrance to a hotel of another name and met Holtzman in the vestibule. But it is self-evident that Holtzman could have made a mistake as regards the name of the hotel only before the meeting. During the meeting the error must have been cleared up and imprinted all the more sharply in the memories of both parties. After the meeting Holtzman could in no case have spoken of the vestibule – of the Bristol confectioner’s shop. The hypothesis thus collapses at the very first touch.
But in order to confuse the situation still further, the Comintern press asserts that the Bristol shop has served for a long time as a meeting-place for Danish and transient “Trotskyites.” There is an obvious anachronism here. In November, 1932, we were unable to find a single “Trotskyite” in Denmark. German “Trotskyites” appeared in Copenhagen only after Hitler’s triumph – that is, in the year 1933. Yet, even if we suppose for a moment that there not only were “Trotskyites” there in 1932, but that the Bristol shop was already being utilized by them, the new hypothesis appears still more senseless. Let us turn to Holtzman’s testimony, as given in the official report:
... Sedov said to me: “As you are going to the USSR. it would be a good thing if you came with me to Copenhagen where my father is ...” I agreed. But I told him that we could not go together, for reasons of secrecy [my emphasis]. I arranged with Sedov to be in Copenhagen within two or three days, to put up at the Hotel Bristol and meet him there.
It is clear that the old revolutionist, who did not want to make the trip together with Sedov because his life would be endangered if his Copenhagen trip were discovered, would not be likely to fix a meeting place which, according to the Comintern press, “had for years [!] been the meeting place for the Danish Trotskyites, and for those in their circle, as well as for meetings between the Danish and foreign Trotskyites.” In the latter circumstance, which, as has already been said, is a sheer invention, the over-zealous agents of the Comintern see a confirmation of their hypothesis. According to them, it follows that Holtzman fixed a meeting place in a shop sufficiently well known to the Stalinists as a “Trotskyite hangout.” One absurdity is piled upon another. If the shop was generally known to the Danish and foreign “Trotskyites,” especially to Holtzman, then he could not in the first place have mistaken it for the Grand Hotel Copenhagen, and secondly, he would have shunned it precisely because of its “Trotskyite” reputation, as he would a plague. In such a manner do these people correct the stenographer’s “slip of the pen”!
The Commission knows from the documents submitted by me that Sedov could not have been in the “Trotskyite” confectioner’s Shop because he was not in Copenhagen at all. In Sedov’s Livre Rouge the Hotel Bristol episode is treated as a curiosity which characterizes the GPU’s extremely slovenly methods of work. Main attention is concentrated on proving that Sedov was in Berlin in November, 1932. Innumerable documents and affidavits leave no room for any doubt on that score. They want us to believe that Sedov’s ghost found its way into the ghost]y vestibule of the confectioner’s shop, which, after some delay, was transformed into a hotel by the fantasy of the agents of the GPU.
Holtzman made his alleged trip separately from Sedov and, naturally, with a false passport in order to leave no traces. The entry of foreigners is nowadays registered in all countries. Holtzman’s testimony could be verified immediately if we knew what passport he used in journeying from Berlin to Copenhagen. Can one imagine a court procedure in which the Prosecutor, under such circumstances, does not question the defendant about his passport? It is well known that Holtzman categorically denied connection with the Gestapo. All the more reason for the Prosecutor to ask Holtzman who, then, procured the false passport for him. However, Vyshinsky, naturally, did not put this question, in order not to sabotage his own work. From all indications, Holtzman must have passed the night in Copenhagen. Where? Perhaps in the Bristol confectionery? Vyshinsky is not interested in this question, either. His function consists in protecting the defendants from a verification of their own testimony.
Naturally, the error in the matter of the Hotel Bristol discredits the accusation. The error regarding the meeting with the absent Sedov doubly discredits the trial. But what most discredits the trial, and Vyshinsky himself, is the circumstance that the latter did not interrogate the defendant about his passport, the source from which he obtained it, or his place of lodging, although these questions clamor for answer. Vyshinsky’s silence exposes him in this case, also, as an accomplice in the judicial frame-up.
In his summation (January 28th). Prosecutor Vyshinsky said: “Radek is one of the most outstanding, and, to do him justice, one of the most able and persistent Trotskyites ... He is incorrigible ... He is one of the men who is most trusted by and intimate with the big chief of this gang, Trotsky.” All the elements of this characterization are false, with the possible exception of the reference to Radek’s talent; but even here it is necessary to add, talent as a journalist. And only that it is possible to speak of Radek’s “persistency,” of his “incorrigibility” as an Oppositionist, and of his intimacy with me, only by way of inept jesting.
Radek’s outstanding characteristics, as a matter of fact, are impulsiveness, instability, undependability, a predisposition toward falling into panic at the first sign of danger, and exhibiting extreme loquacity when all is well. These qualities make him a journalistic Figaro of first-rate skill, an invaluable guide for foreign correspondents and tourists, but utterly unsuited for the rôle of conspirator. Among informed persons it is simply unthinkable to speak of Radek as an inspirer of terrorist attempts or the organizer of an international conspiracy!
However, it is not by accident that the Prosecutor attributes to Radek traits which are in direct contradiction to his real character; otherwise it would be impossible to create even the semblance of a psychological basis for the accusation. As a matter of fact, had I chosen Radek as the political leader of the “purely Trotskyite” center, and had I initiated none other than Radek into my negotiations with Germany and Japan, it would be perfectly self-evident that Radek must have been not only a “persistent” and “incorrigible” Trotskyite, but also one of my ’most trusted and intimate” men. The characterization of Radek in the summation of the prosecutor is an indispensable constituent of the judicial frame-up.
According to the Prosecutor, Radek was the “holder of the portfolio of foreign affairs” in the “Trotskyite” center. Indeed, Radek was closely occupied with questions of foreign policy, but exclusively in the capacity of journalist. True, in the first years after the October Revolution he was for a time a member of the Council of the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs. But the Soviet diplomats complained to the Politburo that “anything said in Radek’s presence is spread all over Moscow by the next morning.” Radek was quickly removed from the Council.
At one time he was a member of the Central Committee, and in that capacity he had a right to attend the sessions of the Politburo. On Lenin’s initiative, matters requiring secrecy were invariably discussed in Radek’s absence. Lenin appreciated Radek as a journalist, but could not tolerate his lack of self-restraint, his light-minded attitude towards serious questions, his cynicism.
One cannot avoid recalling the estimate of Radek which Lenin gave at the Seventh Party Congress (1918) during the controversy over the Brest-Litovsk Treaty. Referring to Radek’s remark, “Lenin yields space to gain time,” Lenin said, “I return to what Comrade Radek said, and take this opportunity to emphasize that he has accidentally succeeded in uttering a serious thought.” And, further on, “This time it has happened that Comrade Radek has delivered himself of a thoroughly serious thought.” This twice-repeated remark well expresses the very essence of the attitude toward Radek not only of Lenin himself, but also of Lenin’s closest collaborators. I note here that even six years later, in January 1924, at the Party Conference which was called shortly before Lenin’s death, Stalin said: ’Most men’s heads control their tongues; Radek’s tongue controls his head.” For all their rudeness, these words are not misdirected. In any case, they astonished no one, least of all Radek himself; he was accustomed to such appraisals. Who will believe that I placed at the head of a grandiose plot an individual whose tongue controls his head and who is in consequence capable of expressing serious ideas only “by accident“?
Radek’s attitude towards me underwent two stages of development. In 1923 he wrote a panegyric about me ("Leon Trotsky – Organizer of Victory,” Pravda, March 14th, 1923) which astonished me by its exalted tone. In the days of the Moscow trial (August 21st, 1936), Radek wrote about me the most slanderous and cynical of all his articles. The interval between these two articles is divided midway by Radek’s capitulation. The year 1929 was the breaking-point in his political life as in his attitude towards me, the story of our relations before and after 1929 can be followed without difficulty from year to year through articles and letters. In this question, as in others, to reestablish the basic facts is to refute the accusation.
From 1923 to 1926 Radek vacillated between the Left Opposition in Russia and the Right Communist Opposition in Germany (Brandler, Thalheimer, etc.).At the time of the open break between Stalin and Zinoviev (beginning of 1926) Radek sought in vain to draw the Left Opposition into a bloc with Stalin. Thereafter Radek belonged for almost three years (an unusual period for him!) to the Left Opposition. But within the Opposition he kept swinging now to the right, now to the left.
Developing, in August, 1927, the idea of the menace of Thermidor, Radek wrote in his programmatic theses:
The tendency toward Thermidorian degeneration of the Party and its leading institutions is exemplified in the following instances: – - – (d) in the line of augmenting the weight of the Party apparatus as against the organizations at the base of the Party, which line finds its classic expression in the declaration of Stalin to the Plenum (August, 1927) : “These cadres can be removed only by civil war” – a declaration which is . . . the classic formula of the Bonapartist coup d’état; (e) in the foreign policy formulated by Sokolnikov. It is necessary to designate these tendencies openly as Thermidorian . . . and to say openly that they find their complete expression in the right wing of the Central Committee (Rykov, Kalinin, Voroshilov, Sokolnikov) and partly in the center (Stalin).It is necessary to say openly that the Thennidorian tendencies are growing . . .
This quotation is important in two respects:
(a) It shows, in the first place. that already in 1921 Stalin proclaimed that the bureaucracy ("these cadres") were irremovable, and pronounced that all opposition to it was equivalent to civil war (Radek, together with the whole Opposition, designated this open declaration as a manifestation of Bonapartism).
(b) It unequivocally characterizes Sokolnikov, not as an ideological adherent, but as a representative of the Thermidorian Right Wing. Yet in the last trial Sokolnikov figures as a member of the “Trotskyite” center.
At the end of 1927 Radek, along with hundreds of other Oppositionists, was expelled from the Party and banished to Siberia. Zinovier, Kamenev and then Pyatakov made declarations of repentance. By the spring of 1928 Radek began to hesitate, but still for about a year he tried to stand erect.
Thus, on May 10th, Radek writes to Preobrazhensky from Tobolsk: “I reject Zinovievism and Pyatakovism as I reject Dostoievskyism. Doing violence to their convictions, they recant. It is impossible to help the working class by falsehood. Those who remain must speak the truth.”
On June 24th, replying to my apprehensions, Radek wrote to me as follows: “None of us proposes to renounce his views. Such a renunciation would be all the more ridiculous since the test of history has brilliantly demonstrated their correctness.
For Radek, there was, thus, not the slightest doubt that the Oppositionists could recant only for the purpose of restoring themselves to the good graces of the bureaucracy. It never entered his head that behind the recantations there might lurk some diabolical design.
On July 3rd, Radek wrote to the capitulator Vardine: “Zinoviev and Kamenev have recanted, if you please, in order to bring aid to the Party, but as a matter of fact the only thing they are bold enough to do is to write articles against the Opposition. That is the logic of their position, for the penitent must give proof of his repentance.” These lines throw a glaring light on the trials to come, in which not only Zinoviev and Kameney, but also Radek, were to “prove” the sincerity of all their preceding repentances.
In the summer of 1928, Radek, together with Smilga, elaborated political theses in which, among other things, they state: “Those who, like Pyatakov, make haste to bury their pasts through betrayal are gravely mistaken.” Thus does Radek express himself about his future collaborator in the mythical “parallel center.” At that very time Radek was himself already vacillating. But psychologically he was unable to appraise Pyatakov’s capitulation as anything but treason.
However, Radek’s urge to make his peace with the bureaucracy had already become so transparent in his letters that F. Dingelstedt, one of the most prominent exiles of the younger generation, openly stigmatized Radek’s “capitulationist" tendencies. On August 8th Radek replied to Dingelstedt:
The circulation of letters about my capitulation is a piece of lightmindedness. an action which can only sow panic, and which is unworthy of an old revolutionist . . . When you have thought the matter over, when your nerves have regained their balance (and we need strong nerves, for exile is a trifle in comparison with what we are destined to see in the days to come), then you, an old member of the Party, will be ashamed that you lost your head. Communist greetings, K. R.
Especially noteworthy in this letter is the remark that exile to Siberia is a mere trifle by comparison with the repressions ahead. It is as if Radek foresaw the future trials.
On September 16th Radek wrote to the exiles in the village of Kolpashev:
Stalin demands that we acknowledge our ’errors" and forget his errors – this formula is a demand for our capitulation as a special tendency and our submission to the center . – - On this condition he is ready to offer us clemency. We cannot accept this condition. [Bulletin of the Opposition, Nos. 5-4, September, 1929.]
That same day Radek wrote to Vrachev concerning the blows heaped upon him by the firmer Oppositionists: “The outcry will not hinder me from doing my duty. And whoever, on the basis of these criticisms [the criticisms of Radek] continues to babble about preparing for Pyatakovism will only give proof of his mental deficiency.”
Pyatakov still remains for Radek the measure of extreme political bankruptcy.
These quotations alone, which describe the real process of differentiation within the Opposition and the desertion of its unstable and opportunist wing to the camp of the bureaucracy, completely destroy the indictment’s police-manufactured version of the capitulations as a calculated method of conspiracy against the Party.
In October, 1928, Radek made an attempt to appeal to the Central Committee to stop or at least soften the persecution of the Opposition. “Despite the fact that the older ones among us have struggled for Communism for a quarter of a century,” he wrote from Siberia to Moscow, “you expel us from the Party and banish us as counter-revolutionaries – - – on the basis of an accusation which dishonors not us, but those who make it." (Article 58 of the Penal Code.) Radek enumerates a series of instances of the cruel treatment of the exiles – Sibiriakov, Alski, Khorechko – and continues: “But the circumstances surrounding Trotsky’s illness exhaust one’s patience. We cannot remain silent and passive while malaria eats away the strength of the fighter who all his life has served the working class and who was the sword of the October Revolution.”
Such was one of the last declarations of Radek, the Oppositionist, and his last positive judgement of me. At the beginning of 1929 he already refused to conceal his vacillations. In the middle of June, after negotiations with the Party committees and the G.P.U., Radek, the capitulator, returned to Moscow, though to be sure still under guard. At one of the railroad stations in Siberia he had a conversation with the exiles, which one of the participants recounted in a letter abroad (Bulletin of the Opposition, No. 6, October, 1929):
Question: And what is your attitude towards L. D. [Trotsky]?
Radek: I have completely broken with L D. From now on we are political adversaries . . . With the collaborator of Lord Beaverbrook we have nothing in common.
Question: Do you demand the abolition of Article 58?
Radek: Emphatically, no! For those who come along with us it will be automatically inapplicable. But we will not abolish Article 58 for those who continue to undermine the Party and who engage in organizing discontent among the masses.
The agents of the G.P.U. would not allow the conversation to continue. They shoved Karl [Radek] into the train, accusing him of agitating against Trotsky’s deportation. Radek shouted from the train: “I agitate against Trotsky’s deportation? Ha! Ha! . . . I am agitating for comrades to return to the Party!” The G.P.U. agents listened in silence and shoved Karl further into the train. The express began to move .
Regarding this vivid narrative, which paints Radek as he is in the flesh, I wrote an editorial note: “Our correspondent says that at bottom [of the capitulation] is ’cowardice.’ This formulation may seem over-simplified. But in essence it is correct. Naturally, it is a question of political cowardice – personal cowardice does not necessarily enter here, although often enough they happily coincide.” This characterization harmonizes completely with my appraisal of Radek.
Somewhat earlier, on June 14th, no sooner had the telegraph brought the news of Radek’s “sincere repentance” than I wrote:
In capitulating, Radek strikes himself from the roll of the living. He will fall into the category of the half-doomed, half-pardoned, headed by Zinoviev. These people fear to utter a single syllable aloud, fear to have minds of their own, and thus live in constant dread of their own shadows. [Bulletin of the Opposition, Nos. 1-2, July. 1929.]
Less than a month later (July 7th), I wrote, in another article on the subject of the capitulations: “Generally speaking, no one ever yet accused Radek of constancy or consistency’ (Bulletin of the Opposition, Nos. 1-2, July, 1929).These words seem like a polemical retort to Prosecutor Vyshinsky, who seven years later was to be the first to accuse Radek of being "constant” and “consistent.”
At the end of July, I again returned to the same theme, this time in a broader perspective:
The capitulation of Radek, Smilga, Preobrazhensky, is in its way a major political fact. It shows above all how completely a great and heroic generation of revolutionists, whose destiny it was to pass through the experiences of the war and the October Revolution, has spent itself. Three old and meritorious revolutionists have removed their names from the roll of the living. They have deprived themselves of the most important thing, the right to command confidence. This they can never regain.
From the middle of 1929 Radek’s name became, in the ranks of the Opposition, the symbol of the most degrading forms of capitulation and the knifing of yesterday’s friends. The aforementioned Dingelstedt, in order to outline Stalin’s difficulties more clearly, asks ironically, “Will he receive any aid from the renegade Radek?” To emphasize his contempt for the document of a recent capitulator, Dingelstedt adds, “You have cleared for yourself a road to Radek” (September 22d, 1929).
Another exiled Oppositionist writes from Siberia on October 27th (Bulletin of the Opposition, No.7, November-December 1929):
“Radek’s work has taken on an exceptionally despicable character – there is no other word for it. He lives on petty intrigues and gossip; he rabidly besmirches his own past.”
In the autumn of 1929 Rakovsky describes how Preobrazhensky and Radek entered the path of capitulation: “The former did it with a certain measure of consistency, the latter, as always, with evasions and jumps from extreme left to extreme right, and vice versa.” (Bulletin of the Opposition, No.7, November-December 1929.) Rakovsky observes sarcastically that each capitulator, on deserting the Opposition, is obliged “to kick at Trotsky with hoofs” shod with “Radekist nails.” All these citations speak for themselves. No, the capitulations are not a military ruse of “Trotskyism”!
In the summer of 1929 a former member of my military secretariat, Blumkin, who was in Turkey at the time, paid me a visit in Constantinople. Upon his return to Moscow, Blumkin told Radek of the meeting. Radek immediately betrayed him. At that time, the GPU had not yet descended to accusations of “terrorism.” Nevertheless, Blumkin was shot, secretly and without trial. Here is what I then stated in the Bulletin, on December 25th, 1929, on the basis of letters received from Moscow: “Radek’s nervous babbling is well known. Now he is absolutely demoralized, like the majority of the capitulators ... Having lost the last remnants of moral equilibrium, Radek stops before no vileness.” Further on, Radek is called an “empty hysteric.” The letters give a detailed account of how Blumkin was betrayed after his meeting with Radek. From then on Radek was held in greatest scorn by the Opposition; he was not only a capitulator, but a traitor as well.
Seven years later – I am forced here to anticipate – Radek, in an article which demanded death for Zinoviev and the others, wrote in Isvestia on August 21st, 1936, that in 1929 I ordered Blumkin “to organize raids on Trade Representations abroad to obtain money that [Trotsky] needed for anti-Soviet operations.” I will not stop to discuss the absurdity of this “order”: the Trade Representations, one would think, keep funds not on their premises, but in banks! We are interested in another aspect of this matter: In August 1936 Radek was still, according to his words, a member of the “Trotskyite center.” In the course of the four months after his arrest he denied, according to his own statement in court, any participation whatsoever in the plot – that is, according to the prosecutor’s characterization, he showed himself to be a stubborn and incorrigible “Trotskyite.” Why, then, on August 21st, 1936 – without any apparent reason – did he ascribe monstrous and nonsensical crimes to me, the “leader’ of the plot? Let someone invent an explanation which can be made to fit into Vyshinsky’s schema. For my part, I refuse to make any such attempt.
The bitter hostility between Radek and the Opposition can be traced year by year. I am forced to limit myself to a selection of examples.
Thirteen exiled Oppositionists in Kansk, Siberia, addressing a protest to the Praesidium of the Sixteenth Party Congress (June, 1930), wrote, among other things: “The Council of the GPU of the USSR basing itself on treacherous information received from the renegade Karl Radek, has condemned Comrade Blumkin, member of the CPSU, to the supreme penalty.”
An exiled Oppositionist, characterizing the political and moral degeneration of the capitulators in the Bulletin of the Opposition (No.19, March 1931), did not forget to add:
The one who has degenerated most rapidly is Radek. The capitulators from the other groups, not only among the rank and file but also among the leaders, endeavor to make it clear that not only politically but also personally they have nothing in common with him. The frankest of them say, plainly: “Radek is playing a filthy, treacherous rôle.” ... I communicate [adds the correspondent] only a minor fact, but one indicative of Radek’s cynicism. In response to a request to help an exiled Bolshevik who was gravely ill, Radek refused, adding, “He will return all the sooner.” Radek measures everything with his dirty little yardstick!
The following, written from Moscow, appeared in the Bulletin on November 15th, 1931:
All quiet on the capitulation “front.” Zinoviev is writing a book on the Second International. Politically, neither he nor Kamenev exists. About the others, nothing to report. One exception: Radek; he is beginning to play a “rôle.” Radek really directs Isvestia. He has become quite notorious in his new rôle as “Stalin’s personal friend.” And this is no joke! In every conversation Radek tries with all his might to create the impression that he is on the most intimate terms with Stalin. “Yesterday, when I was having tea with Stalin,” etc. [Bulletin of the Opposition, Nos.25-26, November-December 1931.]
Radek, unlike the other capitulators, began to play a certain “rôle” only because through his whole conduct he regained the confidence of the rulers. I might point out that the correspondence which has just been cited was published precisely at the time when, according to the accusation, I was taking the necessary measures to induce Radek to enter the path of terror. Evidently I was forcing my left hand to destroy what my right was doing.
The discussion revolving around Radek took on an international character. Thus, the German oppositional organization, the Leninbund, published the declaration of Radek, Smilga and Preobrazhensky, and offered to print my declaration. In October 1929 I answered the leadership of the Leninbund: “Isn’t it monstrous? In my brochure I defend the point of view of the Russian Opposition. Radek, Smilga and Preobrazhensky are renegades, bitter enemies of the Russian Opposition, and furthermore Radek does not stop at any calumny.” In the publications of the Left Opposition during those years one can find, in several languages, not a few scornful articles and comments flaying Radek.
The American journalist, Max Shachtman, one of my co-thinkers, well informed about the internal relations of the Russian Opposition, sent me from New York on March 13th, 1932, several old remarks by Radek about me with the following comment: “In view of the Stalinist chorus in which Radek is now singing, would it not be interesting to remind the Communist workers again that about twelve years ago, before fighting against ‘Trotskyism’ became a profitable business, Radek sang a different song?”
Last updated on: 22.4.2007