Leon Trotsky

Trotsky Sees Possibility of Foul Play in Death of His Son

(February 1938)

Written: 18 February 1938.
Source: Socialist Appeal, Vol. II No. 9, 26 February 1938, p. 1.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Trotsky Internet Archive.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2015. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.

COYOACAN, D.F., Feb. 18. – The wound is still too fresh for me to be able to talk yet about Leon Sedoff as of someone dead. He was not only my son but my best friend. But there is one question upon which I am duty bound to make myself heard immediately: this question deals with the causes of his death. I must say from the very beginning that I do not have direct data at my command which would allow me to assert that the death of L. Sedoff is the handiwork of the G.P.U.

In the telegrams that my wife and I have received from friends in Paris there is no more information than that included in the news over the press wires. But I should like to give some indirect information which may, however, have great significance for the judicial investigation in Paris.

Sickness a Surprise

1) It is not true that my son suffered from a chronic intestinal disease. The announcement about this sickness came as a complete surprise to his mother and me.

2) It is not true that he supposedly suffered heavily during the past few weeks. I have at hand the letter received by me from him, dated February 4th. There is not a word in this letter, which is very optimistic in tone, about any illness. On the contrary, the letter shows that at that time he had become very active, especially, in connection with the imminent trial in Switzerland about the murderers of Reiss, and was intending to continue his activity.

3) The death of L. Sedoff occurred evidently in the night of February 15–16. Thus between the letter and the death only eleven days passed. In other words, the sickness fully had the character of suddenness.

4) There is, of course, no basis for doubting the impartiality of the medico-judicial examination, no matter what its conclusions were. Not being a specialist, I permit myself, nevertheless, to point to one important circumstance: if we are to admit the possibility of poisoning, then we must remember that the question is not one of ordinary poisoning. At the disposal of the G.P.U. there are very exceptional scientists and technical means which would make the problem of medical examination more than difficult.

Possibility Exists

5) How could the G.P.U. gain access to my son? Here too I can reply only hypothetically. During the past period there have been several cases of G.P.U. agents breaking with Moscow. Naturally all those who broke sought connection with my son and he – with that courage which characterized him in all his actions – always accepted such appointments. In connection with these breaks, was there not some kind of trap? I can only advance this postulation. Others must verify this.

6) The French Communist press paid a great deal of attention, hostile of course, to Leon Sedoff. However, not a single one of the Communist papers has so much as printed a line about his death (see the dispatches from Paris). It was exactly like this after the murder of Ignace Reiss in Lausanne. Such kind of “cautiousness “ becomes of especially great significance if we take into consideration that in questions that are acute for Moscow the French press of the Comintern receives direct instruction from the G.P.U. through the old agent of the G.P.U., Jacques Duclos, and others.

I do not affirm anything. I only announce the fact and pose the question.

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Last updated on: 11 September 2015