August 20 (evening session)


The Court proceeds to examine the accused Berman-Yurin.

The President:  Berman-Yurin, tell us what instructions you received abroad before your departure for the Soviet Union?

Berman-Yurin:  I received instructions from Trotsky to go to the Soviet Union to commit a terroristic act against Stalin. I visited Trotsky personally in Copenhagen in November 1932. The meeting was arranged by Sedov.

In reply to Comrade Vyshinsky's questions, Berman-Yurin tells of his acquaintance of long standing with Trotsky's son, Sedov, and of his Trotskyite activities beginning with 1931. He was introduced to Sedov by one of the leaders of the German Trotskyites ,Grilevich. Then Berman-Yurin goes on to speak of his meetings with Sedov.

Berman-Yurin:  I had a number of talks with Sedov. Sedov systematically tried to persuade me, and convinced me, that the fight against the Communist Party was a fight against Stalin. At the end of 1931 Sedov asked me to see him and wanted to know whether I knew a trusted and reliable German who could carry out an important mission which would involve a journey to Moscow. I mentioned the name of Alfred Kundt whom I knew as a staunch Trotskyite.

On Sedov's proposal, Berman-Yurin met Alfred Kundt and communicated to him the conversation he had had with Sedov. Kundt agreed to go to Moscow. The mission was as follows: he had to take to a certain address in Moscow two documents from Trotsky, one of which was Trotsky's instructions on the tasks of the terrorist underground organization in the U.S.S.R. in Moscow Alfred Kundt was to establish personal contact with Smirnov and hand him the two documents.

Berman-Yurin:  One document concerned Trotsky's latest position on questions referring to the international siuation, mainly Germany. I read the second document very carefully. It was written in the handwriting of Sedov and it contained Trotsky's directions concerning the tasks of the Trotskyite underground organization in the U.S.S.R. The letter stated that it was necessary to prepare to adopt resolute and extreme means of struggle, and that with this in view, resolute people sharing Trotsky's position had to be selected. Particular attention, stated the letter, was to be paid to the Trotskyites who were members of the C.P.S.U., but who were not compromised as Trotskyites in the ranks of the Party. The organization was to be built up on the principles of strictest secrecy, in small groups, not connected with each other, so that the discovery of one group might not lead to the discovery of the whole organization.

Alfred Kundt left for Moscow in January-February 1932. A few days later it became known that he had been at the secret address, had handed over the documents, had received the reply as had been arranged, but had not met Smirnov as the latter was not in Moscow. Kundt also reported that he had settled near Moscow,that he had achieved some success in his work, and that"things were going allright."

Berman-Yurin deals in detail with the circumstances of his meeting and conversation with Trotsky in Copenhagen.

Berman-Yurin:  In November 1932 I had a meeting with Sedov which I remember very well because Sedov then, for the first time, spoke openly about the necessity of preparing to assassinate the leaders of the C.P.S.U. Evidently, Sedov noticed that I was wavering and he said that Trotsky would be in Copenhagen shortly and asked me whether I would not like to go there and meet Trotsky. I, of course, expressed my agreement.

I arrived in Copenhagen early in the morning. This was at the end of November, between the 25th and the 28th of November, 1932. I was met at the station by Grilevich and we went to see Trotsky. Grilevich introduced me to Trotsky and left; I remained in the room alone with Trotsky.

Now I come to my conversation with Trotsky. I had two meetings with him. First of all he began to sound me on my work in the past. He asked me why I had gone over to the position of Trotskyism. I told him about this in great detail. Then Trotsky passed to Soviet affairs. Trotsky said: The principal question is the question of Stalin. Stalin must be physically destroyed. He said that other methods of struggle were now ineffective. He said that for this purpose people were needed who would dare anything, who would agree to sacrifice themselves for this, as he expressed it, historic task.

With this the first conversation came to an end. Trotsky went somewhere. Berman-Yurin remained in the apartment and waited for his return.

Berman-Yurin:  In the evening we continued our conversation. I asked him how individual terrorism could be reconciled with Marxism. To this Trotsky replied: problems cannot be treated in a dogmatic way. He said that a situation had arisen in the Soviet Union which Marx could not have foreseen. Trotsky also said that in addition to Stalin it was necessary to assassinate Kaganovich and Voroshilov.

Vyshinsky:  What other questions did he touch upon besides questions of terrorism?

Berman-Yurin:  Trotsky also expressed his views on the situation in the event of intervention against the Soviet Union. He adopted an absolutely clear defeatist attitude. He also said that the Trotskyites must join the army, but that they would not defend the Soviet Union.

Vyshinsky:  Did he convince you?

Berman-Yurin:  During the conversation he nervously paced up and down the room and talked of Stalin with exceptional hatred.

Vyshinsky:  Did you give your consent?

Berman-Yurin:  Yes.

Vyshinsky:  Did your conversation end there?

Berman-Yurin:  I also had a talk with Trotsky about the following. After I had given my consent he said that I must get ready to go to Moscow, and as I would have contact with the Comintern I was to prepare the terroristic act taking advantage of this contact.

Vyshinsky:  So Trotsky not only gave you general instructions,but also formulated your task in a concrete way?

Berman-Yurin:  He said that the terroristic act should, if possible, be timed to take place at a plenum or at the congress of the Comintern, so that the shot at Stalin would ring out in a large assembly. This would have a tremendous repercussion far beyond the borders of the Soviet Union and would give rise to a mass movement all over the world. This would be an historical political event of world significance. Trotsky said that I should not have contact with any Trotskyites in Moscow, and that I should carry on the work independently. I replied that I did not know anybody in Moscow and it was difficult for me to see how I should act under these circumstances. I said that I had an acquaintance named Fritz David, and asked whether I might not get in touch with him. Trotsky replied that he would instruct Sedov to clear up this matter and that he would give him instructions to this effect.

This conversation took place at the end of November, 1932. Berman-Yurin left for Moscow in March, 1933. Before his departure Sedov instructed him to get in touch with Fritz David and to prepare the terroristic act in conjunction with him. Soon after his arrival in Moscow Berman-Yurin met Fritz David, and together they discussed the terroristic plan and began to make preparations to carry it out. At first they thought it possible to make an attempt on Comrade Stalin's life at the XIII Plenum of the E.C.C.I. Fritz David was to have secured an admission ticket for Berman-Yurin who was to shoot at Stalin. On the eve of the Plenum, however, it was found that no ticket could be obtained for Berman-Yurin, and the plan failed. It was decided to postpone the assassination of Comrade Stalin until the Congress of the Comintern.

Berman-Yurin:  The Congress was to have been convened in September 1934. I gave Fritz David a Browning pistol and bullets to hide. But before the opening of the Congress Fritz David informed me that he had again failed to obtain a ticket for me, but that he himself would be at the Congress. We agreed that he should be the one to commit the terroristic act.

Several days later I met Fritz David, and he said that he could not manage to shoot. He was sitting in a box in which there were many people and there was no possibility of shooting. Thus, this plan failed too.

In December Fritz David informed me that an emissary from Sedov and Trotsky had been to see him receutly and wanted to know why the terroristic act had not been committed. Fritz David gave him detailed information, and received instructions to take advantage of another opportunity, to expedite the preparations for the act and to take advantage of some conference or reception to which I or Fritz David were to gain entry at all costs and there to assassinate Stalin.

In May 1936 Fritz David informed me that another emissary - a German - had arrived from Trotsky and visited him, and had spoken to him extremely sharply, accusing us of being inactive, irresolute, lacking courage, and had literally demanded that we take advantage of any opportunity that might arise to assassinate Stalin. We must make haste, we must not lose time, he said.

At the end of May 1936 Iwas arrested and my terroristic activities were stopped.

At the end of the examination of Berman-Yurin Comrade Vyshinsky once again questions him about his meetings with Trotsky's son, Sedov. Berman-Yurin testifies that he had had frequent meetings with him in the period from the end of 1931 to March, 1933.

Vyshinsky:  Both Trotsky and Sedov raised before you the question of terrorism and urged you to agree to commit a terroristic act?

Berman-Yurin:  Quite true.

Vyshinsky:  You gave your consent and were sent by Trotsky?

Berman-Yurin:  By Trotsky through Sedov.

After the examination of Berman-Yurin the evening session of August 20 closes.