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John G. Wright

Soviet Union Notes

French Socialists Break Silence on Trials – What the Records Say About Deaths of Gorky and Others

(12 March 1938)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. II No. 11, 12 March 1938, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Sidelights on the Latest Moscow Frame-Up

Le Populaire, the official organ of the French Socialist Party, has finally broken the cowardly silence it has up to now maintained over the Moscow frame-ups. Recent issues have carried articles by Leon Blum and Theodore Dan (the latter, a Russian Menshevik leader, “implicated” by the defendants in the “plot”) condemning the trial of Bukharin, Rykhov et al. The silence in the past was motivated by “diplomatic considerations.” Now that the Second International itself is being framed by Stalin, and, far more important, now that the Franco-Soviet pact is about to be scrapped by the French imperialists, Blum and Co., no longer find it expedient to keep mum.

* * *

Stalin’s indictment charges that the “left” Communists not only conspired with the Left Social Revolutionaries in 1918 to arrest Lenin and overthrow the then Council of People’s Commissars, but also that they were “fully informed of the preparations for the murder of Mirbach and the July insurrection.” Among the leaders of the “left” Communists in 1918, were: E. Yaroslavsky, Alexandra Kollantai and the deceased Valerian V. Kuibyshev. If the “left” Communists were guilty as Stalin claims, Yaroslavsky and Kollantai should have been among those “indicted.” Yaroslavsky is very much alive, but instead of being in the prisoners’ dock, he is busy writing vile attacks against his former associates. Kollantai has been reported en route to Shanghai. It is true, Kuibyshev is dead, but Stalin does not scruple to place dead men on trial. It now serves Stalin’s purposes to exhume Kuibyshev’s corpse not as that of a “counter-revolutionist” but of a spotless Bolshevik, alleged to have been murdered by the “plotters.”

* * *

The “Murder” of Gorky

Among those implicated in the “murders” of Menzhinsky, Kuibyshev and Gorky (and Gorky’s son) are three physicians: Pletnev, Kazakov and Levin. The case against a fourth physician Vinogradov was “dropped in view of his demise.” The Soviet press follows the custom of printing a report signed by physicians whenever a Soviet dignitary dies. A study of the files of Pravda reveals the following facts:

  1. No such medical report was printed when Menzhinskv died.
  2. Kuibyshev’s death certificate was signed by 11 people, among them Dr. Levin. The report states that an autopsy was performed. Findings: heart failure. We append the signatories to this report, of whom only one man, Dr. Levin, is up on trial: Prof. A. A. Abrikosoy, G. Kaminsky (People’s Commissar of Health), I. Khodorovsky (head of Kremlin hospitals), Y. Levinson (deputy chief physician), M. Krol (head of the Kremlin clinic), B. Kogen (Krol’s deputy), A. Serebrov (head of G.P.U. Health Dept.), Dr. L. Levin, F. Abrikosova (Prof. Abrikosov’s assistant), Dr. Volkov, Dr. Lezhava. (Pravda, Jan. 26, 1935)
  3. Gorky’s death certificate was signed by seven people, including Pletnev and Levin. The others (not on trial) were: G. Kaminsky (People’s Commissar of Health), I. Khodorovsky, Prof. G. Lang, M. Konchalovsky, and A. Speransky. All of them were present at an autopsy performed by Prof. N. V. Davydovsky, and all of them sighed the report of the autopsy: death due to tubercular lung condition. (Pravda, June 19, 1936)

The announcement of Gorky’s death was preceded in the press by the publication of a bulletin on his health, which appeared in Pravda on June 7 and was signed by I. Khodorovsky, Prof, G. Lang and Dr. L. Levin.

Last updated: 30 July 2015