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Emanuel Garrett

How GPU Agent Jacson Assassinated Leon Trotsky

The Murder Machine That Drove a Pick-Axe
into Trotsky’s Brain Directs Its Terror Against
All Sections of the Socialist Movement

(17 March 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 11, 17 March 1947, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

Leon Trotsky was struck down in his home near Mexico City on August 20, 1940, by a Stalinist assassin, variously. called Frank Jacson, Jacques Marnard and Jacques Vandendreschd, who drove the point of a pick-axe through the brain of the great revolutionary socialist leader. Final, irrefutable proof of the charge, made by the Trotskyist movement and generally accepted by world opinion, that the arm that manipulated the assassin’s hand was Stalin’s, is nous presented in the testimony of Louis Budenz, then editor of the Daily Worker and involved in the plot to murder Trotsky, in a book published this week. The Budenz story is detailed elsewhere in this issue of Labor Action. Referring our readers to the sordid admissions of Mr. Budenz, summarized in the review of his book, we should like here to sketch very briefly the system of intrigue and assassination which led to the murder of Leon Trotsky and COUNTLESS other socialists.

Above we used the word COUNTLESS, and deliberately, because the victims of the GPU terror are unbelievably numerous, bearing comparison only with the mass exterminations of peoples organized by the Nazi regime. And the victims include representatives of the working class movement whose views .differed widely and radically, but who were insufferable to the Stalinist régime because they had, all of them, one thing in common – hatred of Stalinist totalitarianism.

It in no way slights the memory of those valiant socialists who would not save themselves by compromising with Stalinism to say that Leon Trotsky was the victim that the murder machine pursued most relentlessly. His death was the culmination of years of planning, years which witnessed the murder of one after another of his colleagues and supporters. The blow that was delivered on August 20, 1940, was planned, at least two years earlier. Other schemes were in the meantime planned and executed; should one scheme fail, the GPU had another ready.

More Than One Attempt at Murdering Trotsky

For twelve years, after having been driven by Stalin from the land whose revolutionary armies he had led in 1917, Trotsky was the target of the GPU murder machine. Exiled to Alma Ata, then to Turkey, then to France and finally Mexico, Trotsky was pursued everywhere by the agents of the GPU, who sought first to prevent his admission to each country, and then schemed to assassinate him. It must be remembered that Trotsky was the socialist enemy whom Stalin feared above all others. So long as Trotsky lived, a giant of the revolution, a co-worker of Lenin lived, able to gather around him the forces of revolutionary socialism. Alive, he was always a threat to Stalin, the man who butchered the Russian Revolution and converted the workers’ state, created in revolutionary sacrifice and heroism, into a workers’ prison. From his pen came surgical analyses of Stalinist totalitarianism as well as monuments of socialist theory and program, the victory of which meant the death of Stalinism, along with all forms of oppression.

The GPU multiplied its efforts when Trotsky entered Mexico. Once a man dressed as a peasant brought a bomb during Trotsky’s absence from the house and tried to leave it for him to open. About a year after this first known attempt, the alarms, set into the walls surrounding Trotsky’s house, were set off in the middle of the night by someone trying to climb over. The most ambitious attempt before the one which actually succeeded was perpetrated on May 24, 1940, when machine guns blazed away at the Trotsky home. Trotsky and his wife, Natalia, were then saved only by dropping to the floor as machine gun bullets peppered their pillows. Siquieros, the Mexican painter and a renowned Stalinist, was involved in this attempt on Trotsky’s life. THOUGH TROTSKY HIMSELF ESCAPED, SHELDON HARTE, ONE OF HIS SECRETARIES, WAS ABDUCTED AND MURDERED.

Long before the machine-gun attempt, the GPU was at work on an elaborate plot which was directed from New York, as is now proved conclusively by Budenz. A young woman, Ageloff by name, for some years a sympathizer of the Trotskyist movement (and who was proved to be completely blameless in the entire Affair) planned a trip to Europe for the summer of 1938. The GPU learned of her plans. A top GPU agent, according to the revelations of Budenz, called a Miss Ruby Weil, who was friendly with both Budenz and Ageloff, whom she had met in the old American Workers Party (which fused with the Communist League of America in 1934). Ruby Weil, whom Budenz graciously covers with anonymity of “Miss Y,” was to travel with Ageloff to Europe and there arrange for her introduction to a “Belgian count,” Jacques Vandendreschd. Weil, who could not be found after the Trotsky assassination for questioning, went to England with Ageloff, stayed a week and claimed she had to return to the Unitgd States. Note how cleverly the GPU made its plans. Even its tool, Ruby Weil, was not to know too much about the plot. In England, Ruby Weil introduced Ageloff to a relation who provided Ageloff with a letter of introduction to a “Belgian Count” in Paris.

Jacson or Vandendreschd played his part well, courting Ageloff, disclaiming any interest in politics. He even went so far as to establish for himself a reputation as a mountain climber! (Had he been discovered on the day of the murder with the special mountain-climbing pick-axe, his excuse was ready – prepared for in Paris many, many months before.) It is interesting to note, though no direct connection has yet been made, that Jacson was in Paris at the time that another of Leon Trotsky’s secretaries, Rudolph Klement, was abducted and murdered by the GPU. Klements headless and mutilated body was found in the Seine after a palpably forged letter of his had been forwarded to the Trotskyist movement in France. It is also interesting to note that at about the time, of Klement’s murder, Jacson hurriedly left for “Belgium” and was gone for some weeks.

In time, Jacson came to the United States and then to Mexico. He travelled under a false passport issued to a Canadian, Tony Babier, who had been a member of the International Brigade and who had died in Spain. As Albert Goldman in his pamphlet The Assassination of Leon Trotsky – the Proofs of Stalin’s Guilt (published by Pioneer Publishers) observes: “It is a matter of common knowledge that the GPU took away the passport of every volunteer fighting in that Brigade, including American and Canadian volunteers. It is a matter of common knowledge that the GPU kept the passports of every volunteer who was either killed in action or killed by the GPU.”

Stalin Manipulated Arm That Held The Pick-Axe

Jacson was in Mexico at the time of the Siquieros attempt, came to the United States several days after it and returned to Mexico on or about July 1. He may have been involved in that or he may simply have been waiting to see if the attempt succeeded. This much, however, is known: Jacson, while in Mexico, used an office that was also used by Siquieros! Working carefully, taking particular pains not to seem too forward, Jacson established an acquaintanceship with friends of Trotsky and members of his household. Thus, through Ageloff, he met Alfred and Marguerite Rosmer, close friends of Trotsky, though Ageloff herself, meeting Jacson in Mexico, made no effort to introduce him into the Trotsky household. In this manner, Jacson managed to get himself invited into Trotsky’s house and visited there several times. This man, who had in Paris denied any interest whatsoever in politics, now pretended a great interest in Trotsky’s theories, going so far as to proclaim himself a staunch follower of Trotsky.

On August 20 he drove to the Trotsky home and, unlike his usual custom, left his Buick facing away from the house, prepared for a quick getaway. He gained entrance to Trotsky’s study by informing Trotsky, whom he met in the yard, that he had an article he wanted Trotsky to read. While Trotsky was reading this article, Jacson, approaching his victim from behind, drove the pickaxe into the revolutionist’s brain. Trotsky’s cries brought guards, one of whom pounced on Jacson while the other went to Trotsky’s aid. While the guard was pummelling Jacson (and stopped by Natalia, who wanted Jacson free to talk), the assassin kept repeating: “They made me do it, they made me do it.” And: “They have imprisoned my mother – they have imprisoned my mother.”

Placed under arrest by the Mexican police, Jacson composed a long statement which from beginning to end reeks of the GPU. The full text of this “confession” was published with notes in Labor Action of September 9, 1940, and in the Goldman pamphlet. We lack the space to examine it here. Suffice it to say that it exposes itself at every point. The long police investigation disclosed that there was no record of a Vandrendreschd or Mornard in Belgium, either in or out of the nobility. Though he spoke French fluently, investigation pointed to Jacson being a Balkan of undetermined nationality. And it is equally likely that the GPU has some such hold on him as an imprisoned mother. It is a method commonly employed by Stalin.

There has never been any doubt that the GPU engineered the murder. With the testimony of Budenz there can be no doubt! Goldman recalls in his pamphlet that, when Trotsky’s house was being remodelled after the May 24 assault, Jacson remarked: “The GPU will use different methods.” He knew!

Jacson is today in a Mexican jail. Several times the Stalinists have tried to spring him. There is no doubt that they would like to kill him, or spirit him away to Russia, for so long as he lives he may yet tell the full story. It is said that Jacson is, therefore, not too anxious to leave his prison cell.

It has also been reported that the FBI interviewed Jacson last year and received from him a full statement. The principal outlines are clear, but we should like to have every last detail so that the Stalinist murder machine can be pilloried before the entire world. There has never been, we have said, any doubt as to the responsibility of the GPU. The Budenz story offers the last link of positive evidence needed to implicate the GPU. All that remains now is more information on this mysterious assassin, who he is and where he comes from. We already know who his employers were!

Not Only Trotskvists, but All Socialists

It is important that we know these things. Knowing them, we can present the evidence to the working class of the world, to decent people everywhere. We speak here of Trotsky, but there is much more involved than Trotsky or his followers who have been killed.

We have already made mention of two of Trotsky’s secretaries, Harte and Klement, who were murdered. A third, ERWIN WOLF, was kidnapped and murdered in Barcelona in 1937. But the systematic campaign to eradicate Trotsky and his associates goes back to 1929 and before! In 1929, for example, BLUMKIN, a sincere revolutionist who had become a member of the GPU when he considered it an instrument for revolutionary socialism, went to visit Trotsky in Prinkipo, Turkey. Blumkin was killed!

In 1937, IGNACE REISS, another member of the GPU, perceiving its counter-revolutionary role, broke with the GPU. He was murdered in Switzerland and the facts as they were disclosed in a court investigation at the time are every bit as “story-bookish” as the facts surrounding the Trotsky murder, involving, among others, White Guard agents of the GPU.

In that same year, Trotsky’s son, Leon Sedov, died under mysterious circumstances in Paris. Taken to a hospital for an appendectomy, Leon was presumably recovering, when, without any established medical reason, and in the absence of nurses from his room, he died. Attempts to exhume the body and examine it for evidence of poison or other foul play were balked. Thus, though there is yet no direct proof that Stalin murdered Leon Sedov, the suspicion of murder stands; the circumstances point to it.

One after another, with the exception of Natalia, whom they hoped to get in the May 24 machine-gunning. every member of Trotsky’s family has been removed, directly or indirectly, by Stalin. Such is the vengeance of the totalitarian monster who sits in the Kremlin! Trotsky’s daughter, Zinaide, committed suicide, but her death can equally well be laid at the door of Stalin, for she lived in constant terror, hounded by the GPU murder machine.

We should like to enumerate all the Trotskyists and socialists who have been murdered by Stalin. But how is it possible? How is it possible to name all the Greek revolutionists who were killed by the Stalinists? Several months ago Labor Action published a list of Greek Trotskyists KNOWN to have been killed by the Stalinist machine. Even that list cannot be republished here. It is too long!

And the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands!, who were killed in Russia. Not all their names are known, nor even their exact numbers. But they were killed by Stalin. All the world knows of the infamous Moscow Trials which sent to its death almost the entire generation that forged the Russian Revolution. Not all of these were Trotskyists. Some of them were political opponents of Trotsky. But they had participated in the work of the revolution; they remembered its ideals. They had to be exterminated. Name them? To list only the world-famous revolutionists – Zinoviev. Kamenev, Bukharin and their co-workers – is an impossibly long task. And there are in addition the hundreds of thousands of “unknown” revolutionists, Russian workers and peasants who had to die because thiy had in them the memory or conviction of the gigantic days of the revolution. And there are the hundreds of thousands of others, like Trotsky’s close colleague, Rakovsky, who are either dead or suffering a living death in some concentration camp.

Nin, Ehrlich, Alter – All Facts Must Be Made Known

But, we repeat, far more is involved here than the Trotskyist movement.

ANDRES NIN, the Spanish revolutionary leader, was not at the time of his death a Trotskyist. But he was murdered by the GPU in Spain. EHRLICH and ALTER were far from being Trotskyists. They were Polish socialists whose views differed widely from Trotsky’s. After Stalin occupied Poland, during his past with Hitler, these two socialists were brought to Russia. Stalin tried to bend them to his will. They refused. An international campaign tried to save them. They were murdered by Stalin! They were not Trotskyists; they were, however, implacable foes of Stalinism. That sealed their doom once Stalin had them in his hands.

These facts must be repeated constantly and every effort made to disclose new facts. Recently stories were published in the press of how the GPU, operating through the Communist Party, spreads its terror through France. From small, incidental beatings of socialists, trying to distribute a leaflet, to assassination – it is all part of the work of the GPU. And the GPU has at its disposal the Communist Parties of each country, which are nothing more nor less than the tools of Stalin. Yes, many members of the Communist Party, sincerely interested in the cause of the working class, may protest. Yet it is a fact. They may have joined out of the soundest of aspirations. But, willy-nilly, they become members of a party whose leaders are dictated to by Stalin, who execute every political turn at his command, and participate in the crimes he organizes.

The working class has to drive from its ranks the Stalinist influence. For its own self-protection, it has to wage constant warfare against Stalinist totalitarianism. The murders of the GPU machine are part and parcel of the system that imposes slave rule on the Russian people. The GPU lives by assassinations, lies and slanders of the men who genuinely pursue socialist ideals. It slanders them with fabricated accusations, according to whatever is Stalinist line at the moment, fabrications that cannot stand the test of examination, just as the accusations and “confessions” of the Moscow Trials fall to shreds at the merest scrutiny. Every bit of Stalinist duplicity must be made public and broadcast widely. Everyone who has information of the machinations of the GPU must, be made to get up and tell his story. That is why months ago we challenged Budenz to tell his story. We challenge him again to state whatever he has not yet revealed. We asked the Nuremberg Court to question the Nazi defendants of their alleged complicity with the defendants in the Moscow Trials as charged by Stalin. The prosecutors would not permit that examination because it would irrevocably damn the infamy perpetrated against Stalin’s victims.

We demand that Ruby Weil be brought forward to add to the evidence. We demand that Browder and Stachel and every one of the gangster leaders of the Communist Party be challenged to tell what they know. Ferreting out the truth about the Trotsky assassination, the Reiss assassination, the Ehrlich and Alter murders is a NECESSARY service to the cause of the working class, to the cause of socialist freedom.

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