Leon Trotsky

Watch Dauge Carefully [1]

(February 1936)

Written: February 1936.
Publisher: From Revolutionary History, Vol.7 No.1.
Translated: Ted Crawford.
Online Version: Marxists Internet Archive, 2002.
Transcribed: Ted Crawford.
HTML Markup: David Walters.

9 February 1936

Dear comrade Lesoil,

No need to say that I am absolutely on your side. [2] I say it clearly in my “official” reply to Fux’s letter. Here I would make in total discretion some supplementary remarks.

The declaration by Dauge that for him it is only a question of a “scrap of paper” [3] is very important. We must use it, discretely but soundly. Unhappily I am not sure that his “strategem” would only be aimed at the bureaucracy, perhaps also [it is] aimed at you. He is quite possible he is being undermined by Liebaers, the SAP etc. In any case he must not be permitted to take the youth by surprise. If the formula about the “scrap of paper” is a trap for you he must be caught in his own trap. That does not mean break with him prematurely but test him after the final publication of candidates and prepare all the comrades for the moment of this test: in case of a lapse on his part we must immediately launch an implacable campaign against him as a Spaak No.2. [4]

Perhaps all my suspicions are unjustified or at least exaggerated. I would be the first to rejoice. But we do not have the right to be confident at the expense of the working class. I have only made these comments to you. With your firmness and usual care you know how to make use of them.


1. Letter in French to L. Lesoil, Harvard Library 8878.

2. Among the leadership of the ASR, the old Trotskyist Leon Lesoil was worried by the arguments put forward by Dauge to justify him standing for the POB in the Parliamentary elections. In this confidential letter Trotsky entirely supports him.

3. Dauge had treated the agreement he had signed with the leadership of the POB as a “scrap of paper”. (Twenty years previously Britain had gone to war with Germany over “a scrap of paper” guaranteeing Belgian neutrality. – Notes by Eds of RH)

4. Paul-Henri Spaak (1899-1972) lawyer and MP had been for several years the leading figure in the Left Opposition of the POB and the editor of their paper, Action socialiste. In 1934 he had even corresponded with Trotsky. However after several weeks of secret negotiations he finally entered the national government of Paul van Zeeland on 25 March 1935 as Minister of Transport with the President of the POB and the leading man of the “Right” Emile Vandervelde.

Trotsky on Belgium

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Last updated on: 22.2.2007