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The Militant, 6 July 1946

Charles Carsten

Poison Pen Artists Attack Trotsky’s
Biography of the Kremlin Dictator

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 27, 6 July 1946, p. 7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Even as a new and terrible purge rages in the USSR, a purge in which more millions of Soviet men and women will be exiled, imprisoned and shot, Stalin’s literary GPU agents are intensifying their efforts to picture Leon Trotsky – a victim of Stalin’s GPU – as an assassin!

The present campaign is a continuation of the GPU job begun long ago. Its aim is to falsify history so as to make the leaders of the October 1917 Revolution appear as enemies of the Soviet Union, while Stalin and his henchmen appear in a favorable light.

V.J. Jerome, in "reviewing” Trotsky’s biography of Stalin, June 25 New Masses, repeats all the malicious lies concocted in the Kremlin laboratory. Jerome is but one of a legion of Stalinist journalistic thugs who are carrying out the literary counterpart of the job done by Jacson when he drove a pickaxe into Trotsky’s brain on August 21, 1940.

Monstrous Lies

Jerome’s whole “review” hinges on Stalin’s falsified history of Bolshevism, which includes allegations made against Trotsky in the infamous Moscow Trials. Parroting the GPU, Jerome asserts that Trotsky made a deal with the Nazis through Rudolf Hess and Alfred Rosenberg.

If there were an iota of truth in this charge, the Stalinist prosecutors at the Nuremberg trial, who had every opportunity for doing so, could have produced some evidence to substantiate it. Hess and Rosenberg are in their hands. If documents exist, as was claimed during the Moscow Trials, they could have been brought to light. Why hasn’t the Kremlin done so? Because the purported link between Trotsky and the Nazis is a monstrous lie.

Preceding Jerome’s New Masses review were several others of an equally mendacious character in the “liberal” capitalist press. Professor Frederick L. Schuman, who poses as a “historian,” voiced in the April 28 PM the same GPU line as the New Masses. This was followed by a review in the May 5 PM by Max Lerner, co-editor of the paper, who lauded Stalin and condemned Trotsky. Lerner pretends to accept the Moscow Trials, if not as genuine gold coin, at least as negotiable currency.

Professor Schuman then repeated his performance in the June Atlantic Monthly. These reviews, while false to the core, bear a striking similarity. Like Jerome, Schuman and Lerner ignore the fact that not a single shred of evidence connecting Trotsky with Hess was produced at the Nuremberg trial. They all disregard the verdict of the Commission of Inquiry, headed by the well-known Professor John Dewey. This Commission, whose integrity is unimpeachable, declared, after an exhaustive investigation and study of the Moscow Trials, that Trotsky and his son Leon Sedov were “not guilty.”

Jerome follows a method that is familiar by now to everyone. Despite all the difficulties connected with the dearth of source material relating to Stalin’s life – a dearth for which Stalin himself is responsible – Trotsky wrote a thoroughly documented and factual biography of Stalin. Yet Jerome does not deal with the material in the book. He ignores it, just as do Schuman and Lerner – just as all the Stalinist hacks ignored the material in books like Barmine’s One Who Survived and Kravchenko’s I Chose Freedom.

Since a refutation of facts is impossible Jerome and his colleagues must, in carrying out their assignment, vilify, malign and denigrate the author, and assert that there is no documentation. Even a cursory glance at Trotsky’s book suffices to blow up this flimsy canard.

Jerome, of course, repeats the GPU lies about Trotsky’s alleged connection with the enemies of the USSR. This is the GPU’s favorite method, worked out to a fine art in the last decade.

Jerome’s trump argument is to identify opposition to Stalin with an attack against the Soviet Union. It is of no interest to him that Trotsky, the leader and organizer of the Red Army, fought to defend the conquests of the October Revolution. He is even less concerned with the fact that millions of Soviet workers and peasants hate the ruthless bureaucracy and its leader Stalin.

These matters are of little interest to Jerome because he is neither a defender of the October Revolution nor a champion of the people as Trotsky was, but a cynical apologist for the Kremlin bureaucracy.

In typical GPU style, the New Masses review begins with two quotations (stolen by the Hearst press) from Trotsky which are torn out of context and twisted into their opposite meaning. Jerome pretends that these quotations show that Trotsky was an assassin. Does history offer a more striking paradox? The regime which murdered Trotsky’s sons and daughters, and finally Trotsky himself, the regime which imprisoned and murdered Trotsky’s collaborators, the regime which has imprisoned and tortured and destroyed literally millions of men and women, seeks to depict its most renowned victim – as a murderer!

The Stalinists understand only their own methods, frame-ups, violence and murder. The Stalinist bureaucracy invariably attributes its own crimes to its political opponents. Just as a liar thinks there are no honest men, so Stalin’s GPU cannot imagine political struggle without prisons and assassination.

Own Methods

Ever since the triumph of Stalinism in the Soviet Union, critics of the regime have been identified with whatever foreign power seemed most menacing at the time. Jerome hews to this line in his review of Trotsky’s book.

He attempts to connect Trotsky with the present power that appears most threatening to the Soviet Union, that is, the United States. He attempts to form an amalgam between Trotsky and the State Department.

He fails to explain, however, why, if Trotsky was an agent of the State Department, the latter refused to grant him refuge in this country when he was “a man without a visa,” and sought entry into the U.S. Or, why to this day does the State Department deny a visa to Natalia Sedov, Trotsky’s ailing widow?

In the only true statement in his review, Jerome remarks with glee that “reviews in the bourgeois press convey a general note of disappointment.” How does this fit into the Jerome-GPU formula that Trotsky’s biography bears the “superimprimatur ... of the U.S. State Department?” Jerome cannot be unaware of the fact that the World Telegram, which he correctly quotes as being hostile to the book, is a notorious red-baiting sheet.

Jerome must know that the N.Y. Herald-Tribune and N.Y. Times, whose disapproval of the book he cites with such satisfaction, are mouthpieces for the State Department just as the New Masses is the voice of the GPU. From Jerome’s assertion it follows that they should all have hailed the book as they have hundreds of others which really convey Washington’s point of view.

But these organs, too, know better. They are fully aware that an exposure of the lies spun by Stalin’s official biographers is not of necessity an attack on the structure of the Soviet Union. They know that political opposition to the Soviet bureaucracy is not at all identical with an attack on the Soviet system.

Trotsky Defended USSR

Furthermore, editors of the bourgeois press know that Trotsky, far from being an enemy of the Soviet Union, was its most ardent defender. They remember him only to well as co-leader with Lenin of the October Revolution. They know that during his entire lifetime Trotsky was one of the greatest revolutionary Marxist leaders and the bitterest enemy of imperialism, fascism and oppression of every kind.

It is for exactly this reason that the Kremlin gang cannot rest content with the physical destruction of Trotsky. The murder of Trotsky did not complete the GPU’s job; it must continue falsifying history in an attempt to erase knowledge of Trotsky’s theories and" the memory of his revolutionary leadership from the minds of the workers in the Soviet Union and throughout the world.

Fear Truth

Trotsky’s theoretical contributions to revolutionary Marxism and the world organization which he forged, the Fourth International, present the greatest threat to the Kremlin gangsters. The Stalinists recognize this. That is why beneath the almost maniacal fury of the present anti-Trotskyist campaign an undertone of fear can be detected. The Stalinists fear the truth. They are further compromised by the new purges in the USSR. They are redoubling their efforts to physically extirpate what they fear most, namely: Trotskyism.

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