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George Breitman

GPU Concocts New Forgery
to Smear Leon Trotsky

(5 April 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 14, 5 April 1948, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Stalin’s GPU murder machine, which could not destroy the stainless revolutionary reputation of Leon Trotsky and the Fourth International even though it resorted to the Moscow Trial frame-ups and the assassination of Trotsky, last week launched a new frame-up in the form of a crude forgery called “Trotsky’s secret political testament.”

The purpose of this forged document, every line of which is covered with the political fingerprints of the GPU, is to spread the slander that in the final months of his life the great Marxist leader renounced “all the ideas and all the conceptions which he had formerly held.” It seeks to discredit the world Trotskyist movement, which represents the most serious threat within the working-class to the domination of Stalinism; and thus to prevent the adherence to the Fourth International of leftward moving groups formerly belonging to the Social Democracy, especially in France and Italy.

This crude forgery, while written by the GPU, was naturally not released in the name or in the official press of the Stalinists, because that would have destroyed its effectiveness. Instead) it was planted in the weekly France Dimanche in Paris and, according to this paper, also in the Swiss Die Wochen Zeitung. France Dimanche boasts of its “customary objectivity” in the article containing the alleged “testament,” but as seen below, this is not the first time it has been hired by the GPU for its dirty work.

“Thanks to an incredible combination of circumstances,” the March 21 leading article in this paper begins, “the political testament which Leon Trotsky wrote just before he was assassinated, has arrived in Europe ... This document, so extraordinary in every respect, has remained secret for eight years. It was believed to have been destroyed. It was written by Leon Trotsky on May 20, 1940 at the time when Hitler was winning the battle of France.”

Why did it remain secret? Who believed it to have been destroyed? The people who never heard of its existence, or the people who had it and therefore knew it wasn’t destroyed? These are questions never answered in the article.

Obtained from Whom?

“Toward the end of July 1940 a Soviet agent succeeded in securing a copy of the testament which Trotsky had entrusted to one of his intimate friends and the document was transmitted to Moscow.” From whom did France Dimanche obtain this information? The only possible source was. the GPU itself. This is a convenient preparation for a possible future “confirmation” of the frame-up by the Kremlin itself. And again – who was this unnamed “intimate friend”?

“On July 20 Trotsky was assassinated by one of his collaborators, Jacques Mornard.” That is the signature of Stalin himself. THE WHOLE WORLD NOW KNOWS THAT MORNARD (ALIAS “FRANK JACSON”), FAR FROM BEING A COLLABORATOR OF TROTSKY, WAS AN AGENT ACTING UNDER TIIE ORDERS OF THE GPU.

Only last year this fact was confirmed by Louis F. Budenz, former managing editor of the New York Daily Worker, who admitted in his book, This Is My Story, that he had worked with the GPU in the preparations for devising an entry for “Jacson” into the Trotsky household in 1940. (Incidentally, “Jacson” murdered Trotsky on August 20, not July 20.)

“Three copies of the testament remained in the hands of a personal friend of Trotsky’s ... Victor Serge ... It is one of his [Serge’s] friends to whom he had entrusted one of the copies, who has just brought it to Europe.”

Thus we come to the one and only name used to corroborate the incredible history of this “testament.” Serge died a few months ago, and so cannot defend himself from the GPU fabrication. There are sufficient facts known, however, to rip the fabrication to shreds.

Far from being a personal friend of Trotsky’s, Serge was a political antagonist and was so designated in all of Trotsky’s many references to him during the last years of his life. Why should Trotsky entrust his last testament (in three copies) to such a man and not to Trotsky’s loyal wife or his trustworthy political collaborators? And what was the name of Serge’s friend who brought it to Europe?


The GPU authors of the article naturally do not provide answers to these questions, nor to the even more numerous ones raised by the text of the alleged document itself:

Why a Secret?

Why, for example, should Trotsky, the most prolific political writer of modern times, have confined his change in opinion to a secret document, whose authenticity would certainly be questioned – to counterbalance the hundreds he had printed on behalf of a contrary view?

Unfortunately for the GPU authors of this clumsy forgery, the Fourth International, on the very day that this “testament” is supposed to have been written, was holding an international Emergency Conference, “somewhere in the Western Hemisphere” (May 19–26, 1940), one of whose main actions was the adoption of a Manifesto on the Imperialist War and the Proletarian Revolution (Pioneer Publishers), which reaffirmed the Marxist program in the most decisive manner. The author of this Manifesto was none other than Trotsky himself!

Furthermore, why in the entire “testament” is there not a single reference to the Fourth International, to the building of which Trotsky devoted the last 17 years of his life, and why does the only reference to a new revolutionary international carry the implication that it wasn’t even formed?

Why, if Trotsky changed the ideas of a lifetime on May 20, did he continue – in the scores of articles he wrote and interviews he held from then until the day of his death three months later – to reaffirm with his characteristic vigor all of the ideas which he had allegedly “secretly” repudiated? This single discrepancy is sufficient proof that the so-called “’testament” is nothing but a forgery of the GPU.

The so-called “testament” states that Trotsky expects to be killed by Stalin because Stalin “judges a Russo-German war as inevitable.” Notice how neatly that fits into the Kremlin lie that Trotsky was an agent of Hitler: Stalin supposedly seeks to murder Trotsky not because the latter is the last great representative of the Bolshevik leadership, but because a Russo-German war is inevitable (and therefore imposes on Stalin the need to eliminate all Hitlerite agents).


The forgery then has Trotsky describe his life-long devotion to the working class (“I found myself as if fascinated by the splendor of the magnificent conception limned by Marx and Engels”) and his hope that the working class would emancipate both itself and the whole of humanity.

Then the “testament” jumps directly to the question of Trotsky’s struggle against Stalin’s policy, which “sought ... to convert the dictatorship of the proletariat into a dictatorship of the bureaucracy.” Trotsky, it continues, used to hope that the workers in the Soviet Union would “react” against Stalin’s policy, which is here credited With having “succeeded in making of his Bonapartist clique the ruling class of a pseudo-socialist State.” But the Soviet workers, the document states, did not fulfill this hope.

The conception flies in the face of everything Trotsky ever actually wrote or said. Ever since the beginning of the degeneration of the Soviet Union under Stalin, Trotsky fought against those who designated the Stalinist bureaucracy as a new “ruling class,” Trotsky demonstrated the erroneousness of this designation, showing that the Stalinist bureaucracy in Russia was not a ruling class, but, a bureaucratic clique without solid class foundations, which was able to seize power in a degenerated workers’ state because of the temporary defeat of the world revolution but which would disappear with the victory of the revolution in other countries.

In his work written in 1939–40. In Defense of Marxism (Pioneer Publishers), Trotsky expounds this idea in great detail. The Emergency Conference Manifesto, of the Fourth International, written by Trotsky, again repeats this thought. And so did every single article on the Soviet Union written by Trotsky until the day Stalin’s agent struck him down.

Supposedly disillusioned about Russia, Trotsky is made to say that he then turned his attention to the “international proletariat,” expecting to see it rally to “the struggle for a new ‘International’.” But “this was not the case. The Communist parties did not react.” This makes it seem that Trotsky had equated the international working class with the Stalinist parties, or that he had had some hopes about reforming them when as a matter of fact, he had long before concluded they were irredeemably corrupted.

“It was with great bitterness that I was forced to admit that the only ones who grasped the true nature of the Stalinist danger and who tried to put up dikes against the Bonapartist and bureaucratic tide were certain elements in the left wing of the Socialist movement.”

The Real Reason

Here is the tip-off on one of the aims of the supposed “testament” – on the one hand to smear left socialist opponents of Stalinism in Europe as “Trotskyist agents of fascism” and on the other to attempt by this smear to frighten them off from moving toward unity with the Trotskyists.

Then, the Trotsky invented by the GPU continues,

“I recalled that in the past, in Russia as elsewhere, the purifying waves of the proletarian revolution were set in motion primarily in time of war when the repressive machine of the capitalist state found itself weakened by bloodletting and by economic difficulties and was no longer in a condition to resist the revolutionary forces.” The war had entered its second phase, and “it is possible to expect that in a little while Soviet Russia and the United States will become involved in it ...

“The working class of the Soviet Union ought to profit from this war in order to open up fierce hostilities against Stalin’s Bonapartist bureaucracy. We ought to exert here the same furious energy that Lenin showed in opposing himself to Kerensky during the First World War ... even if it is bound to assist it [fascism] in gaining temporary military successes.”

This is one of the biggest lies in the whole Stalinist fabric of falsification. As is well known, Trotsky was an advocate of a political revolution against the Soviet bureaucracy, with the aim of restoring working class democracy and returning the Soviet government to the path of internationalism. BUT AT THE SAME TIME THAT HE FOUGHT THE STALINIST BUREAUCRACY, HE WAS ALSO THE MOST DETERMINED DEFENDER OF THE SOVIET UNION AGAINST ALL ATTACKS BY IMPERIALISM. Both before and after May 20, 1940, he explained again and again:

We must formulate our slogans in such a way that the workers see clearly just what we are defending (state property and planned economy), and against whom we are conducting a ruthless struggle (the parasitic bureaucracy and its Comintern.) We must not lose sight for a single moment of the fact that the question of overthrowing the Soviet bureaucracy is for us subordinate to the question of preserving state property in the means of production in the USSR; that the question of preserving state property in the means of production in the USSR is subordinate for us to the question of the world proletarian revolution.” (In Defense of Marxism, p. 21)

In other words, Trotsky’s approach to the defense of the Soviet Union (a degenerated workers’ state) against the attack of imperialism was necessarily different from that of Lenin’s approach to Kerensky’s war to defend Russia in 1917 (when it was a capitalist state).

Trotsky is then quoted as declaring that he had long believed that a revolution in “the progressive capitalist countries” (whatever that may mean) would “necessarily lead to the downfall of Stalin’s clique and the regeneration of Soviet democracy. I consider it necessary to say openly to the workers of the world that I no longer hold this opinion.” If Trotsky supposedly deems it necessary to state his change of opinion “openly to the workers of the world,” why didn’t he do so, instead of incorporating it in a secret “testament”?

Unfortunately for the GPU liars, Trotsky wrote in his Letter to the Workers of the USSR, written the same month as the so-called testament,

“The present war will spread more and more, piling ruins on ruins, breeding more and more sorrow, despair and protest, driving the whole world toward new revolutionary explosions. The world revolution shall re-invigorate the Soviet working masses with new courage and resoluteness and shall undermine the bureaucratic props of Stalin’s caste.”

Fantastic Lies

From this point on the falsifications grow wilder and more fantastic. Trotsky is presented as giving, up not only the defense of the Soviet Union against imperialist attack, but even the idea that the workers are capable of achieving socialism:

“The victory of this Stalinist bureaucracy over the forces of workers’ democracy will open the doors for the darkest period in history ever known by mankind. This will be the epoch of a new exploitive class, born from the Bonapartist bureaucracy of Stalin.

“It will then be necessary to recognize that this bureaucratic degeneration of the Soviet Union brings with it proof of the congenital incapacity of the proletariat to become a ruling class and that the Soviet Urtion will become the precursor and embryo of a new and terrible exploitive regime on a world scale.”

The real authors of this “testament” must have guffawed with satisfaction as they composed this section. Because it repeats some of the phraseology actually used by Trotsky in an article written in September 1939, called The USSR in War published in the book In Defense of Marxism. The “trick” is that Trotsky is here presented as affirming what he specifically denied!

But, it may be asked by some people not acquainted with Trotsky’s views in his last months, perhaps something happened be ween September 1939 and May 20, 1940, when this testament presents him as saying:

“I am a veteran of the revolution who in the last hours of his life finds himself compelled to revise all the ideas and all the conceptions which he had formerly held. I firmly believed in the regeneration of mankind through the proletarian revolution. I begin to doubt that the class on which I had placed all my hopes is capable of attempting the colossal task which history wants to assign to it.”

Yes, something happened in that period – Hitler broke through his western front and began the drive which ended in the fall of France in June. BUT AT THE END OF JUNE, 1940, TROTSKY WROTE AN ARTICLE ON THE VERY PROBLEMS RAISED BY THIS IMPORTANT EVENT. ITS TITLE INDICATES ITS CONTENTS: WE DO NOT CHANGE OUR COURSE. PRINTED IN THE OCTOBER 1940 FOURTH INTERNATIONAL.

And Trotsky’s dying words, after the GPU assassin had struck him down and he knew that he was actually uttering his last testament, were:

“Please say to our friends that I am sure of the victory of the Fourth International. Go forward.”

But France Dimanche’s article does not end with the end of the “testament.” As if wanting to guarantee that all informed readers will recognize that the whole thing was a GPU job, it continues by recalling that a “special envoy” of this sheet had had an interview with Stalin’s assassin, Mornard-Jacson, printed in its Dec. 8, 1946 issue.

The substance of that interview is then reprinted: Mornard repeats the long-demolished alibi put in his month by the GPU and adds a few newly-invented details – about how Trotsky ordered him to go to Shanghai, then enter Russia to train “squads of saboteurs”; how the assassin thought to himself that this would be dangerous and “Moreover, during the previous month I had been astonished by the frequent visits of the German consul to Trotsky”; how he refused to go, and Trotsky attacked him, threatening to have him shot by the guards; and how he then had no alternative but to murder Trotsky ...

And of this the editors say with a straight face: “Trotsky’s testament illumines in a singular manner the declarations of his assassin.”


The Kremlin still stands in deathly fear that the revolutionary program of Bolshevism, which it has betrayed – and which is represented today by Trotsky’s Fourth International – will win out and destroy not only capitalism, but also the Stalinist murder machine.

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