Stalin's Purges were directed at the Left Opposition, led by three "dissatisfied Jewish intellectuals" Trotsky, Zinoviev & Kamenev

Selections by Peter Myers. Date January 11, 2009; update March 7, 2013. My comments are shown {thus}.

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Stalin Versus the World Government: stalin.html.

(1) The Moscow Trials - 90% fabricated evidence, but 10% correct
(2) The Moscow Trials - an "anti-Semitic" context?
(3) Stalin voted third-best Russian, in poll of 50 million Russians; nearly came first
(4) Stalin's Great Terror - Vadim Rogovin (1996)
(5) 1937: Stalin's Year of Terror, by Vadim Z. Rogovin (1988)
(6) Isaac Deutscher, The Great Purges
(7) Leon Trotsky: quotes from his autobiography
(8) Trotsky: quotes from his 1920 book The Defence of Terrorism
(9) Trotsky advocates use of Hostages, Blocking Units, and Concentration Camps
(10) Jews "formed the largest and most important group of victims of the Stalinist purges" - Benjamin Ginsberg

When Trotsky applied for asylum in Britain, he was supported by Sidney & Beatrice Webb, H. G. Wells, Bernard Shaw & Keynes: deutscher.html#applies.

Rogovin and Deutscher depict Trotsky as visionary, hero and victim; and Stalin as despot.

But here are some words of Trotsky (in quotes), and about him, which prove otherwise:

'those malicious tailless apes ... - the animals that we call men'

'It is impossible to maintain discipline without a revolver'

'lock up suspicious characters in concentration camps'

Trotsky advocates use of Hostages, Blocking Units, and Concentration Camps

'As for us, we were never concerned with the Kantian-priestly and vegetarian-Quaker prattle about the "sacredness of human life"'

The Bolsheviks moved into the daschas (country houses) they had evicted the aristocrats from. Trotsky had his own palace and great estate, with a personal physician, a large staff, good food, and luxury cars. Not at all like Snowball in 'Animal Farm'. It's lucky Orwell didn't know, or he might never have been inspired to write that book or 1984.

Trotsky advocates Forced Labour - 'labour conscription'

'the only way to attract the labour force needed for economic tasks is by introducing labour conscription'

He argued for strong penalties for workers who deserted from such Forced Labour, "by creating penal workers' teams out of deserters, and finally imprisoning them in concentration camps".

'The weaker the trio {the triumvirate which succeeded Lenin: Kamenev, Zinoviev and Stalin} felt in matters of principle, the more they feared me - because they wanted to get rid of me - and the tighter they had to bolt all the screws and nuts in the state and party system. Much later, in 1925, Bukharin said to me, in answer to my criticism of the party oppression: "We have no democracy because we are afraid of you"'.

Trotsky envisaged that war between Hitler & Stalin might lead to the overthrow of both and his own return to power:


{quote} noted that in the event of a war between Germany and the USSR, it was quite possible that both dictators would be swept away ... He quoted what the French ambassador in Moscow, R. Coulondre, had apparently said to Hitler on 25 August 1939: in case of war the real victor would be Trotsky. And he claimed, on the basis of a newspaper report, that 'Under the cover of darkness, revolutionary elements in Berlin, are putting up posters in the working-class districts saying "Down with Hitler and Stalin!" and "Long Live Trotsky!"' He added, 'It's lucky Stalin doesn't have to black Moscow out at night, otherwise the streets of the Soviet capital would also be covered with equally meaningful posters.' At times, isolated as he was in his Mexican stronghold, Trotsky lost contact with reality. Still conditioned by the old dogmas, he believed that the world war might end in world revolution, and then the sixty-year-old revolutionary might get his last historical chance.
{endquote} - Dmitri Volkogonov, Trotsky.

Red Symphony; Rakovsky's role in the Left Opposition: red-symphony.html#Rakovsky

(1) The Moscow Trials - 90% fabricated evidence, but 10% correct

First trial - August 1936. 16 members of the "Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Centre". Chief defendants were Zinoviev and Kamenev; accused of assassinating Kirov and plotting to kill Stalin. All 16 were sentenced to death and executed.

Second trial - January 1937. 17 lesser defendants including Radek. 13 were shot; the others were sentenced to labor camps - where they died.

Third trial - March 1938. 21 defendants being the "Bloc of Rightists and Trotskyites", led by Bukharin, Rakovsky, Krestinsky and Yagoda. The leading defendants were executed.

Purge of Red Army, June 1937. Secret trial before a military tribunal of Tukhachevsky and 7 other generals, charged with a "military-Trotskyist conspiracy" and spying for Germany.

Wikipedia covers these topics at,, and

These Wikipedia articles dismiss the evidence presented at the Moscow Trials as complete fabribations, as of January 8, 2009.

But Vadim Rogovin, a Trotskyist (with no love of Stalin) and a Professor at the Russian Academy of Sciences, wrote in his book 1937: Stalin's Year of Terror that even though 90% of the confessions were fabrications, 10% were correct, and that archive documents show that Kamanev and Zinoviev had re-joined Trotsky and formed an anti-Stalinist bloc. "The anti-Stalinist bloc finally took form in June 1932" (p. 63).

"Only after a new wave of arrests following Kirov's assassination, after interrogations and reinterrogations of dozens of Oppositionists, did Stalin receive information about the 1932 bloc, which served as one of the main reasons for organizing the Great Purge" (p. 64).

After the Treaty of Rapallo, Tukhachevsky had established contact with the leaders of the German Army. Stalin later obtained documents from them suggesting that Tukhachevsky was plotting against him. These documents may have been forged by the Nazis; but Rogovin says that transcripts of Hitler's Table Talk give grounds for thinking that the challenge may have been real.

(2) The Moscow Trials - an "anti-Semitic" context?

The words "Jew" and "Jewish" do not appear in the Wikipedia webpages and, as of January 8, 2009.

Yet Vadim Rogovin, a Trotskyist and a Professor at the Russian Academy of Sciences, wrote in his book 1937: Stalin's Year of Terror that Stalin's purges, ie the Moscow Trials, had an "anti-Semitic" subtext:

"Trotsky also saw an obvious anti-Semitic orientation in the Moscow Trials, at whlch a disproportionately high number of the defendants were Jewish. At the first show trial, ten (out of sixteen) of the defendants were Jews, at the second eight (out of seventeen)." (pp. 154-5).

Leonard Schapiro wrote in his paper The Role of the Jews in the Russian Revolutionary Movement:

"Or again, take the elimination of Trotsky, Zinov'yev, Kamenev and the countless Jewish bolsheviks who fell with them during the 1920s, and the great holocaust of Jewish bolsheviks which took place in 1937 and 1938." (The Slavonic and East European Review, vol. 40, 1961-2, London, p. 166).

Trotsky wrote that Stalin said the Left Opposition is led by three "dissatisfied Jewish intellectuals": trotsky.html#dissatisfied.

And that Stalin was saying,

{quote} "We are fighting Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev not because they are Jews, but because they are Oppositionists," and the like. It was absolutely clear to everyone who thought politically that his deliberately equivocal declaration was aimed merely at the "excesses" of anti-Semitism, while at the same time broadcasting throughout the entire Soviet press the very pregnant reminder, "Don't forget that the leaders of the Opposition are Jews." {endquote} trotsky.html#Left.

Trotsky wrote that " ... the Trotskyists ... were now playing in the USSR the exact same role which the Jews and Communists were playing in Germany."

Indeed, the Bolshevik Revolution was enacted by Jews, just as the attempted Communist revolution in Germany was Jewish-led.

Wikipedia's webpages on the Russian Revolution also do not contain the words "Jew" or "Jewish":,,, and

The USSR was created by atheistic Jews, but Stalin overthrew them.

The membership of the Politburo - the highest body in Communist Russia - on 22 March 1921 after the 10th Party Congress was: Lenin, Trotsky, Zinoviev, Stalin, and Kamenev.

These details are from Leonard Schapiro's book The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1960, Eyre & Spottiswoode, London), p. 606.

3 of the 5 members of the Politburo were Jewish. And Lenin identified with the Jewish part of his ancestry: lenin-trotsky.html. That left Stalin as the only non-Jew.

When Lenin died, the USSR was run by a triumvirate - Kamenev, Zinoviev & Stalin. Of these, Stalin was the only non-Jew.

Bertrand Russell attested the Jewish role in creating Bolshevism, in a letter he wrote in 1920 just after visiting Russia: "Bolshevism is a close tyrannical bureaucracy, with a spy system more elaborate and terrible than the Tsar's, and an aristocracy as insolent and unfeeling, composed of Americanised Jews. No vestige of liberty remains, in thought or speech or action." russell.html.

Stuart Kahan wrote in his book The Wolf of the Kremlin, a biography of his uncle Lazar Kaganovich:

{p. 81} After all, wasn't the revolution prepared and fashioned by Jews? Both of Karl Marx's grandfathers were rabbis, and Lenin's grandfather was also Jewish. And wasn't Yakov Sverdlov, the first chief of state, a Jew, as was Trotsky himself? But most people believed the Jews could be dealt with, as they always had been dealt with before.

That Trotsky, unquestionably the most outstanding man among the Bolsheviks, was a Jew did not seem an insuperable obstacle in a party in which the percentage of Jews, 52 percent, was rather high compared to the percentage of Jews (1.8 per cent) in the total population.

Lazar would have to keep a close eye on this. Would the people accept the revolution orchestrated by the Jews, or would they accept only one aspect and discard the other?

{endquote} More at kaganovich.html.

Not that ALL Communists were Jews. But Communism was a Jewish idea, and the leaders in the early years of the USSR were mainly Jewish; the non-Jews were initially less important.

The same applied in the creation of Christianity. Its early leaders were Jewish; it was divided into a "Jewish" faction, led by James, and a "Hellenistic" faction, led by Paul. In the Stalin-Trotsky split, the Trotskyists were the "Jewish" faction.

Stalin had ousted them; part of his harshness was directed at preventing the same forces from regaining control: stalin.html. Further, Stalin later resisted the American/Zionist proposal for World Government - the Baruch Plan of 1946: baruch-plan.html.

Nahum Goldmann, Israel's "ambassador to the world", wrote in The Jewish Paradox (London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1978):

{p. 167} After the Revolution of 1917 there was a very intense Jewish cultural life in Russia, both in Yiddish and in Hebrew. It should not be forgotten that Israel's present national theatre, Habima, was created in Russia. All that intellectual activity, fed by newspapers and books in Yiddish, only disappeared when Stalin became a half-mad dictator haunted by the menace of an international Jewish conspiracy. And a Jewish life goes on in various other Communist countries. In Romania, for example, where there are eighty thousand Jews, there are synagogues, a Yiddish theatre and ritual foodstuffs. The ritual slaughterers in Romania have some trouble in emigrating to Israel because the rabbis need them where they are, and the authorities persuade them that it is their duty to provide kosher meat for the Romanian Jewish community.

{p. 171} Before the war, most Russian diplomats were Jews.

The Jewish Bolshevik leaders Stalin had overthrown belatedly coalesced around Trotsky as leader of the "Left Opposition". Jews were concentrated at the top of the Opposition - that's what gave the purges an "anti-Semitic" subtext; but most Jews supported the status quo, and Stalin left them alone.

With the rise of Hitler, Stalin was seen as the lesser evil, so Jews continued to support the USSR. The creation of Israel, however, presented Jews with a rival loyalty; with this began a Cold War between Moscow and Jerusalem. As Stalin observed how Soviet Jews rallied to Israel, Jews were gradually removed from the top positions they had held: moscow-vs-jerusalem.html.

This struggle led to the murder of Stalin in 1953. The USSR severed diplomatic relations with Israel on February 11 that year. Stalin was aware that a group of people was out to get him, but they got him before he could not discover who they were. He died within 2 months of the Doctors' Plot being announced. His murderers were in two factions: a Jewish one (Beria, Kaganovich, Molotov) and a "Russian" one (Khruschev). The Jewish one seized power, but was overthrown a few months later, by Khruschev: death-of-stalin.html.

Khruschev, having been one of Stalin's murderers, denounced him in 1956 to justify the blood on his hands.

One cannot get a balanced perspective on Stalin, or Communism, without taking all these factors into account.

Stalin's purges of the 1930s were directed primarily against Trotsky and his supporters. Stalin did not target Jews per se: as long as they renounced Trotsky, and were not deemed covert Trotskyists, they were not affected.

Yuri Slezkine corroborates this in his book The Jewish Century (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2004):

{p. 273} Members of the political elite suffered disproportionately, but they were not the majority of those affected. The Jews, who were not numerous among nonelite victims, were underrepresented in the Great Terror as a whole. In 1937-38, about 1 percent of all Soviet Jews were arrested for political crimes, as compared to 16 percent of all Poles and 30 percent of all Latvians. By early 1939, the proportion of Jews in the Gulag was about 15.7 percent lower than their share of the total Soviet population. The reason for this was the fact that the Jews were not targeted as an ethnic group. None of those arrested during the Great Terror of 1937-38 including Meromskaia's parents, Gaister's relatives, and my grandfather - was arrested as a Jew. The secret police did put together several Jewish-specific cases, but they were all politically (not ethnically) defined. Iudit Roziner-Rabinovich, for example, was arrested during the sweep of "Palestinians," but her interrogator (himself Jewish) was interested in Zionist organizations, not nationality. Samuil Agursky, the great crusader against Zionism, Moyshe Litvakov, his political enemy and fellow leader of the Party's Jewish Section, and Izi Kharik, the Yiddish "proletarian" writer and the author of the poem about the exodus to Moscow, were all arrested as part of the attack against former Bundists (real or imaginary). At the same time, similar campaigns were being waged against the former members of all the other non-Bolshevik parties, including the Socialist Revolutionaries, the Mensheviks, the Ukrainian Borotbists, the Azerbaidjani Mussavatists, and the Armenian Dashnaks among

{p. 274} others. And while Jewish national districts and schools were closed down, all other national districts and schools were closed down too ...

Indeed, Jews were the only large Soviet nationality without its own "native" territory that was not targeted for a purge during the Great Terror. ... And in 1937-38, all diaspora nationalities of the Soviet Union became the subject of special "mass operations" involving quotas of arrests and executions.

{endquote} More at slezkine.html.

(3) Stalin voted third-best Russian, in poll of 50 million Russians; nearly came first

Stalin voted third-best Russian

Former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin was beaten by medieval prince Alexander Nevsky in a poll held by a TV station to find the greatest Russian.

Stalin came third, despite being responsible for the deaths of millions of Soviets in labour camps and purges.

Alexander Nevsky fought off European invaders in the 13th century to preserve a united Russia.

In second place was reformist Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin, who was assassinated in 1911.

More than 50 million people voted by phone, the internet or via text messages in the poll held by Rossiya, one of Russia's biggest television stations.

The voting took place over six months as 500 original candidates were whittled down to a final 12. ...

Stalin - an ethnic Georgian - was riding high for many months and was in the number one slot at one point until the show's producer appealed to viewers to vote for someone else, says the BBC's Richard Galpin in Moscow. ...

"We now have to think very seriously, why the nation chooses to put [Joseph] Stalin in third place," said actor and film director Nikita Mikhalkov, one of the contest's judges, after the results were released. ...


Why did ordinary Russians vote that way? Because, his purges and deceptions notwithstanding, they felt that Stalin had protected and strengthened them.

It only took 12 months of "shock therapy" after the fall of the USSR, for Russians to revise their opinion of Stalin.

In the economic depression which followed the breakup of the USSR in 1991, Western economic advisers recommended laissez-faire policies. Russians saw Oligarchs, primarily Jewish, seize the assets of the country for themselves; yet the Western media, and the Zionists and Trotskyists, condoned this, and condemned any mention of the Jewish role as "anti-Semitism".

(4) Stalin's Great Terror - Vadim Rogovin (1996)

Stalin's Great Terror: Origins and Consequences

This lecture by Professor Vadim Rogovin was given at the University of Melbourne on May 28, 1996. It was part of a "1937 Exhibit" organised by Trotskyists in Australia.

... These historical phenomena are sometimes referred to as the Great Purges, or the Great Terror, or sometimes simply as 1937. They have few analogies in history. ...

Most people ignore whom the terror was directed against. Reliable figures show that during the entire period of Soviet history, approximately four million people were accused and convicted of crimes against the state. Of those, approximately 700,000 to 800,000 were shot.

These figures are staggering by any measure, but we have to supplement them with other figures. For instance, approximately one half of the total victims were thrown into prison during a two-year period -- 1937 and 1938. During those two years over six times more people were shot than during the entire remaining period of Soviet history.

The second feature of the Great Terror is that its major targets were communists. Of the two million people who were repressed during that two-year period, over half of them were members of the party at the time of their arrest.

Moreover, at the beginning of the Terror there were approximately one and a half million people who had earlier been in the party, but had been expelled for belonging to various oppositions. Very many of these people were arrested and exterminated during the Great Terror.

There is another myth about the Great Terror which is both supported and spread by many different political tendencies. You can find this myth in Krushchev's secret report on Stalin's crimes delivered to the 20th Party Congress in 1956, or in the works of open anti-communists such as Robert Conquest and Solzhenitsyn.

This myth says that virtually the entire population of the Soviet Union was reduced to a stunned silence by the terror, and either said nothing about the repression, or blindly believed in and supported the terror. This myth also claims that the victims of the repression were completely innocent of any crimes, including opposition to Stalin. They were, instead, victims of Stalin's excessive paranoia. Since there was no serious opposition to the regime of Stalin, according to this myth, the victims were not guilty of such opposition.

In order to refute these myths one simply must turn to various dossiers and case histories which have recently come to light and been published.

For example there is the case of the world-renowned physicist and future Nobel laureate, Academician David Landau. It would seem that this young physicist and scholar, who was busy with his own work, not a member of the party and seemingly uninvolved in politics, would have been guilty of nothing and therefore arrested without any foundation.

Recently the dossier of his case was published. During the investigation Landau was presented with an anti-Stalinist leaflet which he had helped to reproduce and was getting ready to distribute. The communist Kopets, who was a colleague of Landau, admitted to having written the leaflet. He arranged for it to be reproduced and attracted Landau and other students and physicists into this conspiracy. They intended to distribute the leaflet at a May Day demonstration in 1938.

Recently many examples of such leaflets have been published. They were written by people we know little about, but people who wrote from a consistent communist position, and who called for a struggle against Stalin and his clique because they had betrayed socialism. The content of these leaflets can only be interpreted as a call to overthrow the existing political system, or to be more precise, Stalin and his clique.

Of course these are isolated incidents, but prior to the unleashing of the Great Terror there was a much more widespread, more serious, and well-organised opposition to Stalinism as a regime which had veered ever more widely away from the ideals of socialism.

This battle against Stalin began back in 1923 with the formation of the Left Opposition. The inner party struggle unfolded in ever sharper form throughout the 20s.

Thousands and thousands of communists took part in this opposition, openly in the early days and then, after opposition groups were banned, in illegal underground forms against the abolition of party democracy by the Stalinist party clique.

They spoke out against forced collectivisation and the erroneous methods of industrialisation which were leading to great deprivation for the vast majority of the Soviet people. They spoke out against the growing system of privileges and social inequality. The bureaucracy had usurped political power from the working class and was consolidating its position and privileges. ...

{but Trotsky himself had called for forced collectivisation - Peter M.}

At the same time, thousands of Trotskyists who had not capitulated remained in exile or in prison throughout the country. Among them were many prominent party members. Two choices stood before each of these oppositionists. Either they could sign a letter of capitulation and return into the fold of the bureaucracy to secure positions -- or they could refuse to sign such declarations and remain languishing in prison camps or in exile in the furthest reaches of the Soviet Union.

It is interesting to note that dozens and dozens of oppositionists in exile were brought back into Moscow when the first Moscow Trial was being prepared in 1936. Not a single one of them who had refused to sign a letter of capitulation agreed to give false testimony. For that reason, they were not included in the first Moscow Trial, but were murdered during the secret pre-trial interrogations.

It is significant that in 1932 many representatives of different opposition tendencies began to discuss the need to form a united anti-Stalinist bloc to overthrow Stalin's leadership and carry out new policies.

The Riutin platform stated that by now all the previous differences which had existed in the Party paled before the new dividing line which pitted communists against each other. Either you were for the Stalinist clique and the crimes it was committing against the people, or you were for returning the party to Lenin's principles of socialism by driving out the Stalinist clique.

Ivan Smirnov, one of the former leading members of the Left Opposition who had formally capitulated and then returned to opposition activity, went on an official business trip to Berlin in 1931. He established contact with Trotsky's son Leon Sedov and began to discuss the need to coordinate efforts between Trotsky and his son in Mexico and Europe and the newly-formed opposition bloc consisting of old and new tendencies in the Soviet Union.

Although many members of these opposition tendencies were arrested at the end of 1932 and in early 1933, not a single one of them gave information about the formation of this single united anti-Stalinist bloc. Only in 1935 and 1936, when a new wave of arrests followed the murder of Kirov in December of 1934 and many people were subjected to the worst tortures, did the secret police, the GPU, find out about the existence of the united bloc from 1932. This was one of the main factors which drove Stalin to unleash the Great Terror.

When we look back now upon the Moscow Trials we can see that 90 percent of what was said by those put on trial was a fantastic conglomeration of lies. They confessed to being agents of the Gestapo, spying for foreign governments, conducting sabotage, etc. But about 10 percent of what was alleged was true. They did try to establish contact among themselves and fight for the overthrow of Stalin's clique.

The Great Terror was caused not only by Stalin's increasing fear of the growing communist opposition in the Soviet Union. It was also tied up with serious foreign policy issues. Stalin became more and more alarmed at the growing influence of Trotsky's ideas as he gathered more supporters in the movement to found the Fourth International.

Although all the official communist parties abroad remained completely subservient to the Comintern, which was in turn manipulated by Stalin, nevertheless more opposition Trotskyist groups grew up in virtually every country in support of the Fourth International.

In the archives of the Comintern one can find many documents, largely prepared for internal use, which testify to the fact that the opposition had major influence in almost every country, that often it exerted strong influence in the trade unions and the socialist parties, and that its numbers were reaching several thousand in some countries. ...

Among those who played a very foul and ignoble role in the 1930s are those who to this very day are respected as fighters against Stalinism.

Among these is Imre Nagy, the Hungarian communist leader who played an important role in the leadership of the Hungarian uprising in 1956. Documents have emerged which show that Nagy was in the Soviet Union as a political emigrant starting in 1929. By 1930, he had become a paid agent of the NKVD, and due to his denunciations, dozens of Hungarian, German and other communists were arrested.

Although there is no direct evidence that shows that Tito, the Yugoslav communist, was a paid agent of the NKVD, many documents show how enthusiastically he carried out the purges of the Trotskyists in the Yugoslav communist party. In Moscow alone over 800 Yugoslav communists were arrested.

In 1939 Tito returned to Yugoslavia as head of the party and demanded that the purge be continued and deepened. He entrusted this task to other communists, including Milovan Djilas.

Djilas, who became a famous dissident in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, does not mention his role in the purges in his memoirs ...

If those who perished in the Great Terror, true internationalists, had not been killed, Stalin would have found it very difficult, if not impossible, to unleash the anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union which practically became official government policy after World War II.

A whole wave of people sometimes referred to as the new recruits or the newly chosen of 1937, began to rise to high posts in the party, economy, government and the military. They occupied leading posts of which they had never before dreamed.

The people who occupied these positions had no ties to Bolshevism and no ideological adherence to Marxism. As a result they proved to be extremely susceptible to the crudest forms of corruption which corroded the body politic in the USSR. These people remained in power in the Soviet Union for almost 50 years. And they cultivated a new generation of absolute cynics who were completely indifferent to the moral and ideological life of the nation. ...


(5) 1937: Stalin's Year of Terror, by Vadim Z. Rogovin (1988)

Vadim Z. Rogovin

Translated by Frederick S. Choate

Mehring Books, Inc., Oak Park, Michigan, 1988

{p. xi} Introduction

{p. xxix} ... Stalinism's desecration of the principles and ideals of the October Revolution evoked in the USSR and beyond its borders a powerful and heroic resistance on the part of political forces retaining their belief in the Marxist theoretical doctrine and their loyalty to the revolutionary traditions of Bolshevism. To overcome this resistance required a terror which, in its scale or brutality, has no analogies in history.

{i.e. the author is admitting that Stalin's terror was directed at the Trotskyists}

The ignoring of this tragic dialectic of history leads anticommunists to an

{p. xxx} interpretation of the Great Terror as something irrational, engendered by the "Satanic" nature of the Bolsheviks who were allegedly driven by a thirst for senseless violence, including in turn their own self-annihilation. ...


STALIN FELL FAR SHORT of achieving his goals with the trials that followed Kirov's murder. The immediate organizers of the murder were declared to be a group of thirteen young "Zinovievists," shot in December 1934 during the case of the so-called "Leningrad Center." Zinoviev, Kamenev and other leaders of the former Leningrad Opposition, who had been convicted in January 1935 during the case of the "Moscow Center," were declared guilty of only the following: with their "counterrevolutionary" discussions they "objectively" contributed to inflaming terrorist moods among their Leningrad cothinkers.

The "post-Kirov" trials of 1934-35 were unable to establish ties leading from the "Zinovievists" to the "Trotskyists," let alone to Trotsky himself. Meanwhile Stalin needed at all costs to accuse Trotsky and the Trotskyists of terrorist activity. This version was outlined in Yezhov's manuscript, "From Fractional Activity to Open Counterrevolution," where he claimed: "There is no doubt that the Trotskyists were also informed about the terrorist side of the activity conducted by the Zinoviev organization. Moreover, from the testimony given by separate Zinovievists during the investigation of the murder of Comrade Kirov, and during the subsequent arrests of Zinovievists and Trotskyists, we have established that the latter had also embarked on the path of terrorist groups."1

Yezhov's "opus," which was presented to Stalin in May 1935 and edited by the latter, never saw the light of day. However, its basic conceptions turned into the fundamental points of directives issued to the organs of the NKVD. In the middle of 1935, Yezhov told the deputy Narkom of Internal Affairs, Agranov, that "in his opinion and in the opinion of the party's central-committee, there existed in the Soviet Union an undisclosed center of Trotskyists," and "he sanctioned the carrying out of operations against Trotskyists in Moscow." According to Agranov, Molchanov, the head of the secret-political department of the NKVD, who had been entrusted with conducting this operation, acted without the operative effectiveness characteristic of the "organs," insofar as he felt that

{p. 2} "there was no serious Trotskyist underground in Moscow."2

On 9 February, the deputy Narkom of Internal Affairs, Prokofiev, sent a directive to the local bodies of the NKVD which spoke of the "increased activity of the Trotsky-Zinoviev counterrevolutionary underground and the presence of underground terrorist formations among them." The directive demanded the "total liquidation of the entire Trotsky-Zinoviev underground" and the uncovering of "all organizational ties between the Trotskyists and Zinovievists."3

On 23 February, Stalin received a report from Prokofiev about a new series of arrests and about the seizure of Trotsky's archives from the 1927 period from one of those arrested. He then arranged by means of a Politburo resolution for Yezhov to be added to the investigation. As Yezhov declared at the February-March Plenum of the Central Committee in 1937, "the person responsible for opening the case (of the "Trotsky-Zinoviev Center") was essentially Comrade Stalin, who, upon receiving ... the material, wrote in a resolution: 'This is an extremely important case; I propose handing over the Trotskyist archive to Yezhov. Second, to appoint Yezhov to supervise the investigation, so that the investigation be carried out by the Cheka and Yezhov.'" "I understood this directive in the following way," added Yezhov, "that I had to implement it no matter what, and to the extent that it was in my power, I applied pressure. And here I must say that I met not only loyal resistance [sic - V. R.], but sometimes open opposition."4

This "opposition" came most of all from Yagoda who was disturbed by the fact that Yezhov's efforts were directed at "proving" the existence of a Trotskyist conspiracy from the beginning of the 1930s, and, consequently, of "failures" in the work of Yagoda's apparatus. Understanding Yezhov's inclusion in the investigation to be an expression of Stalin's lack of confidence in the leadership of the NKVD, Yagoda sent a directive to the organs of state security about increasing the repression directed against "Trotskyists." At this time, however, Stalin's idea of organizing a trial of the "Trotsky-Zinoviev Center" apparently remained a secret not only for members of the Politburo, but for Yagoda as well.

The first to be arrested among the participants in the future trial was the political emigre Valentin Olberg. Unlike the other emigres who were brought to trial, he actually did meet with Sedov and conduct a correspondence with Trotsky. The Harvard archives contain the correspondence between Trotsky,

{p. 3} Sedov and Olberg, which discusses distributing the Bulletin of the Opposition in various countries, including the USSR, and deals with the activity of the German group of the Left Opposition.5 However, by 1930 Trotsky had already rejected Olberg s proposal to come to Prinkipo in order to serve as his secretary. This occurred because Trotsky's friends in Berlin who knew Olberg well considered him if not an agent of the GPU, then a candidate-agent."6

According to A. Orlov, at the end of the 1920s Olberg had been recruited by the OGPU and acted as an agent among foreign groups of the Left Opposition. Then he was recalled to the Soviet Union and in 1935 sent into the Gorky Pedagogical Institute, where "the organs" had found traces of an illegal circle studying the works of Lenin and Trotsky.

In 1937, the Paris Commission to Counter-lnvestigate the Moscow Trials received testimony from Olberg's mother. From her testimony it became clear that, besides V. Olberg, his brother Pavel had also emigrated to the USSR and was working as an engineer in Gorky. In his letters to his mother, P. Olberg enthusiastically told about receiving Soviet citizenship and relayed his impressions of the USSR.7 On 5 January 1936 (on the same day as his brother) he was arrested, and in October shot along with a large group of "Trotskyists" from Moscow, Gorky and other cities (included in this group was Trotsky's son-in-law, Platon Volkov, who at the moment of his arrest was a worker in Omsk).8

Valentin Olberg, it was said at the February-March Plenum, "was known to the organs of the NKVD in 1931." Moreover, the "organs" had at their disposal letters from Trotsky to Olberg which had been handed over in the same year by a foreign agent of the GPU.9 Only one thing could explain the fact that after all this Olberg had not been arrested: the OGPU considered him to be an extremely valuable agent and hoped that he would penetrate more deeply into Trotsky's entourage.

After the first round of interrogations, V. Olberg sent a declaration to the investigator in which he wrote: "I can, it seems, slander myself and do everything if only to put an end to my suffering. But I clearly cannot cast aspersions on myself and state an obvious lie, i.e., that I am a Trotskyist, Trotsky's emissary, and so forth."10 A month later, however, Olberg "confessed" that he had come from abroad on assignment from Trotsky, and that he had recruited into a terrorist organization many teachers and students at the Gorky Ped-Institute. All the people he named were brought to Moscow and shot on 3 October 1936.

{p. 4} At the February-March Plenum, Yezhov placed the date of the beginning of the investigation into the case of the "United Trotsky-Zinoviev center" in December 1935. In the beginning of 1936 this case "began gradually to expand, and then the first material was sent to the Central Committee (from the NKVD)." However Molchanov, who had been directly responsible for handling cases against Trotskyists, considered Olberg to be a "solitary emissary ' He therefore intended to bring Olberg to trial and close the given case with his conviction.11

A bit later, Yagoda and Molchanov felt that it would be enough to "link" Olberg to I. N. Smirnov, who had been brought in April 1936 from a political isolator to the GPU's internal prison. According to Agranov, Molchanov wanted "to close the investigation in April 1936, showing that the uncovered terrorist group of Shemelev-Olberg-Safonova, with ties to I. N. Smirnov, was the All-Union Trotskyist Center, and that with the discovery of the center, all the active Trotskyists had already been liquidated. Yagoda, and then Molchanov, added that, without any doubt, Trotsky personally had no immediate ties with representatives of the Trotskyist Center in the USSR."12

When he learned of Molchanov's and Yagoda's position, Stalin "sensed that something wasn't right in this [case] and gave instructions to continue the investigation." To carry out these instructions, Yezhov arranged a meeting with Agranov which was conducted unbeknownst to Yagoda and Molchanov. ("I invited Agranov to my dacha on a day off, pretending that we would be going for a walk"). During this meeting, Yezhov gave Agranov "Comrade Stalin's indications of mistakes that had been made by the investigation into the case of the Trotskyists; he ordered him to take measures to uncover the actual Trotskyist Center, thoroughly exposing the still concealed terrorist band and Trotsky's personal role in the entire affair." Yezhov told Agranov the names of "Trotsky's direct cadres," placing emphasis on Dreitser most of all. "After a long conversation, which was rather concrete, we came to a decision - he [Agranov] went to the Moscow region [that is, to the UNKVD of the Moscow region - V. R.] and joined the Muscovites in arresting Dreitser, thereby making an immediate breakthrough."13

Dreitser was brought in May to the internal prison of the NKVD from the Cheliabinsk region where he worked as the deputy director of the factory "Magnezit." Then the former head of Zinoviev's secretariat, Pikel, was arrested. They were handed over to the investigator Radzivilovsky who would later say: "extraordinarily difficult work over the course of three weeks on Dreitser and

{p. 5} Pikel resulted in the fact that they began to give testimony."14 Yagoda, however, felt that their testimony was a complete fabrication. On the record of Dreitsers interrogations, which contained passages speaking of receiving terrorist directives from Trotsky, Yagoda wrote: "untrue," "nonsense," "rubbish," and "this cannot be."15

It was with these preconceptions that Yagoda proceeded in his report on the "Trotskyist conspiracy" at the June (1936) Plenum of the Central Committee, where he categorically denied any link between the "terrorist center" and Trotsky. When Stalin spoke at the plenum, however, he "filled in" these "gaps" in Yagoda's report. When he recalled this speech at the February-March Plenum, Yezhov said: I sensed that in the apparatus [of the NKVD] something was going on with Trotsky, but to Comrade Stalin this was as clear as day. With his speech Comrade Stalin directly posed the question that here was Trotsky's hand, and that we had to catch him by the hand."16

On 19 June Yagoda and Vyshinsky presented Stalin with a list of eighty-two Trotskyists who they felt could be brought to trial as participants in terrorist activity. However Stalin demanded that they unite the Trotskyists with the Zinovievists and prepare the corresponding open trial.

After this, the investigation into the Olberg case which had been finished in May was reopened; by now Olberg was giving testimony that he had links with the Gestapo. Analogous confessions were received from the four other political emigrants who had been arrested in June.

In the middle of July, Zinoviev and Kamenev were brought from a political isolator to Moscow for further investigation. By this time Zinoviev, who had spent a year and a half in prison, was in a state of deep depression and demoralization. Beginning with the spring of 1935, he had repeatedly sent letters to Stalin in which, among other things, he said: "My soul burns with one desire: to prove to you that I am no longer an enemy. There is no demand which I would not fullfll in order to prove this. ... I have come to the point where I stare for long stretches at your portrait and those of the other members of the Politburo in the newspapers, and think to myself: my friends, look into my soul - can it possibly be that you fail to see that I am no longer your enemy, that I am yours body and soul, that I understand everything, that I am ready to do anything to be worthy of your forgiveness and leniency." On 10 July 1935 Zinoviev turned to the leadership of the NKVD with a request that he be transferred to a concentration camp "with the possibility of working and moving about," insofar

{p. 6} as it seemed that only there he "would be able to last if only for a while."

Zinoviev's letter to Stalin, sent on 12 July 1936 from a Moscow prison, shows how little Zinoviev understood what was happening. In it he presented an "urgent request" to publish the book of memoirs he had written in the political isolator, and to help his family, especially his son, whom he called "a talented Marxist with a scholarly bent."17

Since 1935, Stalin had managed to sow mutual discord between Zinoviev and Kamenev. Kamenev's staunchly ill-disposed attitude toward Zinoviev can be seen in his correspondence with his wife, T. Glebova, who remained at liberty. In a letter written on 12 November 1935, Glebova, who had been expelled from the party for "loss of party vigilance," reproached her husband, who was located in a political isolator, for the fact that she had "been deceived before the party." Before the trial of the "Moscow Center" she had put "her party life and honor" on the line by vouching for Kamenev's "complete lack of participation" in any "political and anti-party ties with the Zinovievists." In this letter, which would undoubtedly be read by the authorities, Glebova included an indirect denunciation of Zinoviev. She expressed her regret that, "after hearing Zinoviev's whining in the summer of 1932 and even his counterrevolutionary statement about the ineptitude of the leadership of the kolkhoz movement, she had not acted in a party way [that is, she had not denounced Zinoviev - V. R.], but had expressed her indignation only to you." In her letter, Glebova told how their seven-year-old son happened upon a toy that Zinoviev had given him. "He literally began trembling and grew pale: 'I will throw it out, for I hate the man who gave it to me." Yet during the summer he saw much more of them (Zinoviev and his wife) than us, and had always loved them."

In a reply letter, Kamenev wrote that Zinoviev and his wife "no longer exist for me; like Volik, I 'hate' them, and probably have good reasons to do so."18

In the course of the renewed investigation, Zinoviev and Kamenev were once again joined together by Stalin and forced to make joint decisions. At first they firmly denied the charges made against them. Kamenev bore himself with particular courage. He declared to Mironov, the head of the economic department of the NKVD's GUGB [The Chief Directorate of State Security] who was interrogating him: "You are now observing Thermidor in a pure form. The French Revolution taught us a good lesson, but we weren't able to put it to use. We didn't know how to protect our revolution from Thermidor. That is our greatest mistake, and history will condemn us for it." When Kamenev was pre-

{p. 7} sented with testimony about a conspiratorial meeting with Reingold at his apartment he declared that from the diary of the round-the-clock surveillance which was conducted outside his apartment, and from interrogation of the OGPU operative who was always present inside the apartment in the guise of a bodyguard, it would be easy to establish that Reingold had never once visited him. Finally, Kamenev threatened Mironov: if there were any further provocations he would demand that Medvedev and other former leaders of the Leningrad UNKVD be put on trial. He personally would ask them questions about the circumstances of Kirov's murder."19

It is understandable that reports about Kamenev's behavior during the investigation would have had to drive Stalin into a paroxysm of enraged cruelty. As Orlov recalled, "even the heads of the NKVD, who knew Stalin's insidious and merciless character, were struck by the savage hatred which he displayed with regard to the Old Bolsheviks, Kamenev, Zinoviev and Smirnov." Although Yagoda and his underlings had gone a long way in their own degeneration and had rich experience in persecuting Oppositionists, "the names of Zinoviev, Kamenev, Smirnov and especially Trotsky still retained their magical power over them."20 They felt that Stalin would not dare to shoot the Old Bolsheviks and would limit himself to publicly disgracing them.

Prokofiev's wife told A. M. Larina in the camps that Stalin had said to Yagoda: "You work poorly, Genrikh Grigorievich. I already have reliable information that Kirov was killed on orders from Zinoviev and Kamenev, yet you still haven't been able to prove it! You have to torture them so that they finally tell the truth and reveal all their ties." When he recounted those words to Prokofiev, Yagoda began to sob.21

When he received information about Kamenev's and Zinoviev's "refusal to cooperate," Stalin ordered Yezhov to conduct their further interrogations, and the latter made it very clear to the accused that they would have to take part in a judicial frame-up. Yezhov explained to Zinoviev the political necessity of this step in the following way: Soviet intelligence had seized documents of the German general staff which showed the intentions of Germany and Japan to attack the Soviet Union the following spring. Therefore, what was now needed more than ever was the support of the international proletariat for the "fatherland of all laborers." Trotsky was impeding this support with his "anti-Soviet propaganda." Zinoviev must "help the party strike a shattering blow against Trotsky and his band, in order to drive the workers away from his counterrevo-

{p. 8} lutionary organization under an artillery barrage."22

Following this, Yezhov told Zinoviev that the lives of thousands of former Oppositionists depended on his conduct at the trial. Repeating the same arguments to Kamenev, Yezhov issued an additional threat by announcing the possibility of dealing with the latter's oldest son, who had been in prison since March 1935. He showed Kamenev Reingold's testimony that he and Kamenev's son had conducted surveillance of automobiles containing Stalin and Voroshilov in order to organize terrorist acts against them. The promise to preserve the life of his oldest son was one of the main reasons which prompted Kamenev to "confess." Nevertheless, not only Kamenev's oldest son, but his middle son as well, the sixteen-year-old Yurii, was shot in 1938-39.

In his memoirs Orlov describes in detail the entire course of the investigation, its methods and mechanisms, but he doesn't mention the application of direct torture with regard to Kamenev and Zinoviev. In their case, the application of "methods of physical coercion" was limited to placing them in a cell where the central heating was turned on during the hot summer days. The unbearable heat and humidity were particularly painful to Zinoviev, who suffered from severe asthma and attacks of colic in the liver; moreover the "treatment" which he received only increased his suffering.

Zinoviev was the first to indicate that he was ready to make a deal with Stalin. After an interrogation conducted by Yezhov and Molchanov which had lasted a whole night, Zinoviev asked them to arrange a meeting where he and Kamenev could be alone. In their conversation, which was of course monitored, Zinoviev convinced Kamenev to provide the testimony demanded at the trial, on the condition that the promise made by Yezhov in Stalin's name to preserve their lives and the lives of other oppositionists be confirmed by Stalin personally in the presence of all the members of the Politburo.

Soon after this meeting, Zinoviev and Kamenev were taken to the Kremlin where they were received by Stalin and Voroshilov. When Kamenev said that they had been promised a meeting with the full membership of the Politburo, Stalin replied that he and Voroshilov were a "commission" appointed by the Politburo to negotiate with them.

Zinoviev recalled that before the trial in 1935 Yezhov had spoken on Stalin's behalf in assuring them that this trial would be the last sacrifice which they would have to make "for the sake of the party." With tears in his eyes he tried to convince Stalin that a new trial would cast a permanent shadow on the Soviet

{p. 9} Union and the Bolshevik Party: "You want to depict members of Lenin's Politburo and Lenin's personal friends to be unprincipled bandits, and present the party as a snake's nest of intrigue, treachery and murders" [the main defendants at the impending trial were the embodiment of Bolshevism in the eyes of world public opinion - V. R.]. To this Stalin replied that the upcoming trial was directed not against Zinoviev and Kamenev, but against Trotsky, "the sworn enemy of the party: If we didn't shoot them," he continued, referring to Zinoviev and Kamenev in the third person, "when they actively fought against the Central Committee, then why should we shoot them after they have been helping the Central Committee in its struggle against Trotsky? The comrades also are forgetting that we Bolsheviks are the followers and disciples of Lenin, and that we don t want to spill the blood of old party members, no matter how serious the sins that can be attributed to them."

Mironov, who had been present during the negotiations, told Orlov that this performance, in which Stalin called Zinoviev and Kamenev comrades, was delivered with deep feeling and sounded both sincere and convincing. Even Mironov, who knew better than others about Stalin's fierce hatred for Zinoviev and Kamenev, believed after these words that Stalin would not allow their execution.

Having listened to Stalin, Kamenev said that they would agree to give testimony at the trial under the condition that none of the defendants would be shot, that their families would not be persecuted, and that no one would receive the death penalty for past oppositional activity. Stalin vowed that all this "goes without saying."23

Until recently, Orlov's memoirs were the only evidence about the meeting of the "Politburo commission" with Zinoviev and Kamenev. Only at the end of the 1980s was this fact confirmed by Kaganovich, who declared in a confidential conversation with the writer Chuyev: "I know that Zinoviev and Kamenev were received. ... Stalin and Voroshilov were there. I wasn't at this reception. I know that Zinoviev and Kamenev asked for mercy. They had already been arrested,,.. Evidently, the conversation proceeded along the lines that they had to acknowledge their guilt. ..."24

After this "reception," Zinoviev and Kamenev were moved to comfortable cells The authorities began to give them serious medical treatment, feed them well and allow them to read books, but not, of course, newspapers ...


ON 15 AUGUST 1936 an announcement appeared in the newspapers from the Procurator of the USSR about transferring the case of "the United Trotsky-Zinoviev Center" for review to the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR. The announcement stated: "An investigation has established that the Trotsky-Zinoviev Center was organized in 1932 on the orders of L. Trotsky and Zinoviev. ... And that the perfidious assassination of Comrade S. M. Kirov on 1 December 1934 was prepared and carried out also on the orders of L. Trotsky and Zinoviev and this united center."

From that day on, the press began to publish numerous articles and resolutions from "workers' meetings," which spoke not only about the guilt of the defendants as an undisputed fact, but virtually decided the sentence in advance. "The case of Trotsky-Zinoviev-Kamenev breathes its stench upon us from the bandits' underground," wrote Pravda. "The snakes slither up to what we hold dearest of all. ... We have uncovered ties between the Zinovievists with Trotsky's foreign counterrevolutionary organization, and systematic ties with the German fascist secret police (Gestapo). ... No mercy, no leniency for enemies of the people who have tried to deprive the people of its leaders. We now await the word of the law, which knows only one measure of punishment for the crimes committed by the Trotsky-Zinoviev band."1 Similar phrases appeared in the "responses" to the announcement about the upcoming trial given by well-known writers, scientists, actors and "celebrities from among the people."

The defendants at the Trial of the Sixteen included two completely disparate groups. The first consisted of eleven prominent Bolsheviks who had participated in 1926-27 in the "united opposition bloc." The second group consisted of young members of the German Communist Party who had emigrated to the USSR. At the beginning of the 1930S, three of them had belonged to the German Left Opposition, they had been expelled from the KPD, and then they had been readmitted to the party after ritual recantations. After arriving in the USSR, all five of these emigrants worked in Soviet establishments or in the

{p. 15} Comintern apparatus, publishing fervently anti-Trotskyist articles.

Summarizing the observations contained in articles written by foreign journalists at the trial, L. Sedov wrote: "The old men sat there, completely crushed and broken; they answer in muffled voices, and even cry. Zinoviev is thin, hunched over, grey, with sunken cheeks. Mrachkovsky coughs up blood, loses consciousness, and they carry him out in their arms. They all look like people who have been hounded and completely worn out. The young people, on the other hand ... conduct themselves in a self-confident and free-and-easy manner; they have fresh, almost joyful faces; they feel almost as if they are at a birthday party. With unconcealed pleasure they tell about their ties with the Gestapo and all kinds of other fantastic tales."2

The indictment stressed that the trial of 1935 had not established facts which showed that the leaders of the Zinoviev opposition had given directives about organizing Kirov's murder or had even known about its preparation. This could be explained by the fact that the defendants who had taken a direct part in preparing the assassination, not only of Kirov but also of other party leaders, maliciously concealed all such information.

Apart from this detail, there was no continuity between the "Zinoviev" trial of 1935 and the trial of the sixteen. From among the nineteen people con-

{p. 16} demned at the first trial, only-four were called to the new trial; the remaining figures were not even summoned as witnesses. At the Trial in 1936, besides the "United Trotsky-Zinoviev Center," reference was made to a certain "Moscow Center," but its composition had nothing in common with the composition of the "Moscow Center" whose activity had been the subject of the trial in January 1935. As the trial established, the new "Moscow Center" busied itself with preparing terrorist acts against Stalin and Voroshilov on the basis of a directive contained in a letter from Trotsky, written in invisible ink and brought in October 1934 from abroad by Dreitser's sister. After developing the letter, Dreitser immediately sent it to Mrachkovsky in Kazakhstan; he in turn recognized Trotsky's handwriting, and, having thereby vouched for the authenticity of the letter, "burned it out of conspiratorial considerations." Vyshinsky imposed the guilt for receiving this directive on Smirnov, too. Without introducing the slightest bit of evidence, he declared: "I am deeply convinced that you knew about it even though you were imprisoned in a political isolator [my emphasis - V. R.]."3

According to the version produced by the investigation, Trotsky's terrorist activity was conducted under conditions of the utmost secrecy. However Vyshinsky in his indictment speech could not refrain from discovering terrorist propaganda even in Trotsky's public literary and political articles. He declared that "in March 1932, Trotsky burst into a counterrevolutionary frenzy when he published an open letter calling to 'remove Stalin.'"4

Vyshinsky was referring to a letter to the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee which Trotsky had published in the Bulletin of the Opposition in connection with being deprived of his Soviet citizenship. Vyshinsky limited himself to introducing a total of two words from this letter, without indicating in what context they had been written. Trotsky's appeal, however, had been addressed not to his cothinkers, but to the highest body of the Soviet state. "Stalin has led you into a blind alley," wrote Trotsky. "You cannot find your way back to the main road without liquidating Stalinism. You must trust in the working class; you must give the proletarian vanguard the chance, by means of free criticism from top to bottom, to review the entire Soviet system and mercilessly cleanse it of all the accumulated garbage. And you must finally carry out Lenin's last insistent advice: remove Stalin."5

The expression, "remove Stalin," was widely used by the opposition groups which arose at the beginning of the 1930s around Riutin and A. P. Smirnov-

{p. 17} Eismont. The delegates to the Seventeenth Party Congress who crossed Stalin's name off the ballot during the secret elections also acted in the spirit of this appeal by Trotsky. The fact that the advice to "remove Stalin" envisioned the use of statutory and constitutional means was addressed by Trotsky when he explained in an article published at the end of 1932 that the slogan, "remove Stalin" did not mean a call for his physical elimination.

In order to give weight to his version identifying the terms "remove" and "kill," Vyshinsky forced Goltsman to declare at the trial that in a conversation with him Trotsky repeated the expression, "Remove Stalin." Then Vyshinsky demanded that Goltsman explain what the word "remove" meant. Goltsman obediently declared: "the only way to remove Stalin was terror."6

A week after the trial was over, the whole world learned that the meeting at which these sacramental words had been spoken had never taken place. According to the trial material, Goltsman was the only one among the Old Bolsheviks who met with Trotsky abroad. The location of this meeting was alleged to be Copenhagen, where Trotsky was spending a week in 1932 in order to give a lecture. As Goltsman testified, Sedov accompanied him to the Hotel Bristol where he met with Trotsky. A few days after the publication of this part of the court transcripts, the Danish Social-Democratic newspaper published an article which was reprinted in the entire world press: the Hotel Bristol had been torn down in Copenhagen in 1917.

According to Orlov, this "slipup" could be explained by the confusion allowed by the slow-moving investigators. When they first began to work out the version of Goltsman's meeting with Trotsky, the decision had still not been made where this meeting was to have taken place: in Denmark or in Norway, where Trotsky moved in the middle of 1935. Molchanov therefore ordered them to ask the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs for information about the names of hotels both in Copenhagen and in Oslo, where there actually was a Hotel Bristol. When the decision was made to move the meeting up in time, and consequently to Copenhagen, one of Molchanov's assistants mistakenly retained the name of the hotel which had figured in the "Norwegian" variant.7

Not one document, not one piece of material evidence was introduced at the Trial of the Sixteen. All the convictions were constructed exclusively on the slander and self-slander of the accused and the witnesses. G. S. Liushkov, one of the trial investigators, fled abroad in 1938 and released a declaration which stated: "At the trial which occurred in August 1936, accusations that Trotsky,

{p. 18} via Olberg, was connected with the German Gestapo; accusations against Zinoviev and Kamenev for espionage; accusations that Zinoviev and Kamene were linked to the so-called "Right Center" via Tomsky, Rykov and Bukharin - all these accusations were completely fabricated. Zinoviev, Kamenev, Tomsky Rykov, Bukharin and many others were executed as enemies of Stalin who were impeding his destructive policies. Stalin took advantage of the favorable opportunity presented by the Kirov affair in order to rid himself of these people by fabricating broad anti-Stalinist conspiracies, espionage trials and terrorist organizations. Thus Stalin was using all measures to eliminate his political opponents and all those who might become his opponents in the future. Stalin's diabolical methods led to the downfall of even the strongest and most experienced people."8

In the explanations she gave to the Party Control Commission in 1956, Safonova described these "diabolical methods" and stressed that the investigators were motivated in their extortion of false testimony by the fact that such testimony was necessary in the interests of the party. "Yes, it was with this understanding - that the party demands this and we were obligated to pay with our heads for Kirov's murder - that we arrived at giving false testimony, not only I, but all the other accused. ... That's what happened during the pretrial investigation, and at the trial this was aggravated by the presence of foreign correspondents; knowing that they could use our testimony to harm the Soviet state, none of us could tell the truth."9

In the given instance, Safonova, who played one of the most unseemly roles at the trial, was arbitrarily extending her own conduct and its "patriotic" motivation to all the accused. In actuality, the Old Bolsheviks couldn't help but understand that the accusations with which they were incriminated wouldn't raise, but lower the prestige of the USSR, Bolshevism and the October Revolution. It is worth noting that not one of the main defendants acknowledged links to the Gestapo. Commenting on this part of the trial, Trotsky wrote: "From their dialogue with the procurator regarding the Gestapo, it is not difficult to reconstruct the haggling that went on behind the scenes during the trial session. 'You want to vilify and destroy Trotsky?' Kamenev, for instance, probably said. 'We will help you. We are prepared to present Trotsky as the organizer of terrorist acts. The bourgeoisie doesn't understand these issues very well, and not only the bourgeoisie: Bolsheviks ... terror ... murders ... thirst for power ... yearning for revenge ... This they might believe. ... But no one can believe that

{p. 19} either Trotsky or we (Kamenev, Zinoviev, Smirnov and others) were linked to Hitler. By passing beyond the bounds of believability, we risk compromising the charge of terror, which, as you yourself well know is also not built on granite foundations. In addition, the charge of ties to the Gestapo reminds everyone all too well of the slander against Lenin and the very same Trotsky in 1917...."10

Another point which all the defendants with famous political names categorically refused to acknowledge was the charge that the "center" intended after coming to power to destroy all those who had carried out terrorist acts. When Vyshinsky proposed that Zinoviev confirm Reingold's testimony to that effect, Zinoviev replied: 'That's from Jules Verne. ...Those are Arabian fairy tales." When he repeated these words in his indictment speech, Vyshinsky declared: "And the murder of Zinoviev's secretary, Bogdan, what is that?! A fairy tale?"11

Here Vyshinsky was referring to one of the foulest aspects of the trial. After he had been expelled from the party during the purge of 1933, Bogdan, who was Zinoviev's former secretary, committed suicide. His suicide made a big impression on the party. Now it was being presented, in essence, as a murder committed by Bogdan's cothinkers. Basing his accusation on Pikel's testimony, Vyshinsky declared: Zinoviev and Kamenev "led Bogdan to suicide by placing him before a dilemma: either agree to a terrorist act, or kill himself."12

Such charges and "confessions" could be accepted as true only by those who had been led, as Trotsky said, to a state of "totalitarian idiotism." And only such people could believe the hysterical outbursts of Vyshinsky when he cried: "In the dark underground, Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev issue their wretched call: remove him, murder him! The underground machine begins to do its work, knives are sharpened, revolvers are loaded, bombs are armed, false documents are written or forged, secret ties with the German political police are established, sentries are posted, people are trained to shoot, and finally, they shoot and kill. ... They not only talk about shooting, they shoot; they shoot and kill!"13 Meanwhile, the only shooting which was mentioned at the trial was Nikolaev's, after which dozens of people had already been executed, but the trial wasn't presented with a single document. The only revolver mentioned at the trial belonged to Lurie, but it, according to Lurie's own testimony, had been stolen from him along with a suitcase which had been left in the baggage room at the train station.

The "young" defendants among the political emigrants tried to fill in all

{p. 20} these "gaps" in the investigation and charges. They were declared Trotsky's immediate emissaries, sent by him into the USSR with orders to kill as many leaders as possible. Fritz David and Berman-Yurin testified that they had received such directives from Trotsky personally. Olberg and both Luries, according to their testimony, were sent by Trotsky for terrorist activity although he had never once laid eyes on them.

The "young" defendants readily told about murders they had planned which inevitably miscarried. Thus, Berman-Yurin and Fritz David testified that they intended to arrange an attack on Stalin during the work of the Eighth Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Comintern, but this "plan failed" insofar as Fritz David didn't manage to obtain a guest pass to the plenum for Berman-Yurin, who was supposed to have shot Stalin. Fritz David gave another explanation for this "failure." "These plans collapsed because Stalin didn't attend the Eighth Plenum."

After this, both conspirators decided - following Trotsky's directive to carry out the attack "before an international forum" - to shoot Stalin at the Seventh Congress of the Comintern. However this plan failed as well, insofar as Berman-Yurin once again didn't manage to obtain a pass, and Fritz David couldn't execute the terrorist act because he was sitting far from the table of the presidium.

The same "credibility" was a feature of Olberg's testimony, who announced that even before his arrival in Gorky, the director of the pedagogical institute there had already organized "armed detachments"; therefore all that remained for Olberg was to work out the "plan of the attack." According to this plan, the teachers and students at the institute were supposed to carry out a terrorist act during their participation in the May Day demonstration in Moscow, but Olberg's arrest prevented this attack.

Details of "terrorist preparations" which had not been mentioned at the trial were filled in by obliging journalists (in such cases, nothing was too fantastic). Thus, in Rovinsky's article with the pretentious title, "A Thousand and One Nights and the Spies of Trotsky and the Gestapo," it said that Olberg not only organized terrorist groups, but that he also "trained terrorist snipers and bomb throwers, in short, did everything that was demanded of him by his masters - Trotsky and the Gestapo, whose activity was so closely and inextricably interwoven."15

According to the trial material, uninterrupted failures also accompanied

{p. 21} the activity of the like-named Luries. N. Lurie formed a group of three people for an attack on Voroshilov. This troika carefillly monitored the travels of the "first marshal," but his car always "passed by too quickly. It was useless to shoot at a fast-moving automobile." In July 1933, N. Lurie left for Cheliabinsk, where he worked as a physician. There he prepared terrorist acts against Ordzhonikidze and Kaganovich in case they visited the tractor factory. Although neither of them came to Cheliabinsk, the sentence indicated that N. Lurie "tried to carry out an attack on the life of Comrades Kaganovich and Ordzhonikidze."16 Finally, N. Lurie, on orders from M. Lurie, traveled to Leningrad in 1936 where he prepared to shoot Zhdanov during the May Day demonstration; this plan, too, was unsuccessful, however, since his column marched by far from the tribune.

The attempts to use the aid of the German special services by the terrorists sent to the USSR also failed without exception. A secret letter from the Central Committee on 29 July stated that these terrorists "had access to the German embassy in Moscow and undoubtedly used its services." Only N. Lurie's testimony was introduced as confirmation, however; he claimed that his group was supposed to receive "explosive devices" at the German embassy, but that the group never made it once to the embassy because his trip to Cheliabinsk prevented them from doing so.

The spirit of "totalitarian idiotism" also permeated the accounts of how the terrorists obtained resources for their activity by "stealing the people's money." As an example, "facts" were introduced concerning the transfer of thirty thousand rubles by the "hidden double-dealer" Arkus, the deputy chairman of the USSR State Bank, to trusts headed by Yevdokimov and Fedorov (the latter was one more prominent "Zinovievist" whose name was mentioned at the trial). In addition, as the Central Committee's secret letter indicated, the terrorists planned to carry out plain robberies. With regard to this claim, the letter introduced the testimony of a certain "Trotskyist Lavrentiev," who confessed that four members of his group were fired from work in order "to fully devote themselves to terrorist activity" and raise the necessary resources for it. To do this they first decided to rob the funds of the village council. After this robbery fell through, they traveled to Arzamas to attack cashiers who were receiving money from the bank. However, this "robbery never took place because the right circumstances were absent."7

The secret letter from the Central Committee and the final indictment

{p. 22} named dozens of members of underground groups who acted on orders from the "unified center" in various crties around the country. Although the preparation of attacks on Kosior and Postyshev was not mentioned during the trial, the sentence indicated that the "center" also prepared terrorist acts against them through a conspiratorial group subordinate to it.

Not all of the defendants at the trial confessed to participating in terrorist activity. These charges were categorically denied by Goltsman and Smirnov - the only defendants who had actually been in contact with Trotsky (through Sedov) at the beginning of the 1930s (see Chapter 9).

It was only on 13 August, i.e., a day before the indictment was signed, that the pretrial investigation managed to obtain a confession from Goltsman that Sedov had given him "a directive" to kill Stalin as the only way to change the situation in the Soviet Union.

Smirnov declared at the trial that Sedov had also given him "a terrorist directive," which, however, only expressed Sedov's personal opinion and was not a command from Trotsky. This testimony undercut the version outlined in the indictment: one of the oldest Bolsheviks clearly could not have accepted "a directive" coming from a young man who could hardly have served as an authority for him.

Despite all the efforts of both the prosecutor and Safonova, who furiously defamed Smirnov at the trial, the latter refused during the entire trial to conduct himself in a manner which would please Vyshinsky. For this reason, his answers to the prosecutor in the trial transcript are given not in a full, but in an abridged form. As we can tell from the transcript, they managed to pry less than they wanted from Smirnov: he only called Trotsky an enemy "standing on the other side of the barricades," and confessed to having met with Sedov in Berlin in 1931. As the transcript states in summary, "during a nearly three-hour-long interrogation, Smirnov tried in every way possible to avoid the questions posed directly by the prosecutor, Comrade Vyshinsky; he attempted to diminish his role and denied his terrorist activity against the party and government leaders."

The account of Smirnov's interrogation regarding the existence of the "center" was published in the following form:

Smirnov once again tries to deflect responsibility from himself for the work of the Trotsky-Zinoviev center.

{p. 23} Vyshinsky: When was it that you left the center?

Smirnov: I never even intended to leave, there was nothing to leave from.

Vyshinsky: Didn't the center exist?

Smirnov: What center are you talking about?...

After this statement from Smirnov, which threatened to destroy the entire conception of the indictment, Vyshinsky asked several defendants to rise, one after the other. He asked Mrachkovsky, Zinoviev, Yevdokimov and Bakaev the same question: "Did the center exist?", and the defendants all responded with the same monosyllabic reply: "Yes." Then Vyshinsky felt that he could return to Smirnov's interrogation, declaring: "How is it that you, Smirnov, permit yourself to claim that there was no center?" In response, as the court transcript notes, "Smirnov once again tried to prevaricate, claiming that the center never met, but the testimony from Zinoviev, Ter-Vaganian and Mrachkovsky once again exposed his lies."18

When other defendants "confirmed" that Smirnov headed the Trotskyist part of the conspiracy and named him "Trotsky's deputy in the USSR," Smirnov turned to them with the bitter rejoinder: "You want a leader? Well, then, take me." Finally, in his concluding remarks, Smirnov "just as he had done at the pretrial and trial investigations, continued to deny responsibility for the crimes committed by the Trotsky-Zinoviev center after his arrest"19 (even though Smirnov had been in prison since 1 January 1933, Vyshinsky stubbornly insisted that he had been in communication from there with his cothinkers and that he had given them directives).

The remaining defendants from among the Old Bolsheviks conducted

{p. 24} themselves in a much more compliant manner, but only in the part of the trial which was concerned with vilifying Trotsky. Zinoviev and Kamenev obediently repeated all the most horrific characteriations of "Trotskyism" which Stalin had invented, right up to declaring Trotskyism a variety of fascism. This testimony was all the more easy to extract from them since they had joined with Stalin in 1923 in fabricating the myth about "Trotskyism," and, after a brief collaboration with Trotsky in the ranks of the "United Opposition" (1926-1927) had once again resurrected this myth.

If Stalin had managed to sow hostility between Kamenev and Zinoviev as the trial approached, then it was even easier to stir them up against Trotsky. No small role in fanning this hatred was played by an episode from 1932. After the foreign communist press reported the preparation of a terrorist act against Trotsky by White-Guardists led by General Turkul, Trotsky sent a secret letter to the Politburo of the Central Committee and the Presidium of the Central Control Commission in which he expressed his certainty that these actions on the part of White emigrants had been incited by Stalin. In this regard, Trotsky wrote: "The question of terrorist reprisal against the author of this letter was posed by Stalin long before Turkul: in 1924-25, at a small meeting, Stalin weighed the arguments for and against. The arguments for were clear and obvious. The main argument against was the following: there are too many young and selfless Trotskyists who might respond with counterterrorist acts. I received this information at one time from Zinoviev and Kamenev"20 (in 1935 Trotsky described in greater detail the accounts from Kamenev and Zinoviev about their negotiations with Stalin over the expediency of such an attack).21

After receiving this letter, Stalin instructed Shkiriatov and Yaroslavsky to show it to Zinoviev and Kamenev. The latter two immediately sent a declaration to the Central Committee in which they called Trotsky's account a "foul invention" and "repulsive slander aimed at compromising our party."22 It is understandable that at the trial they confirmed all the charges made against Trotsky.

As far as their own terrorist activity is concerned, the testimony from Zinoviev and Kamenev is distinguished by its extreme brevity. In reply to Vyshinsky's questions, "Didn't you all kill Comrade Kirov?", and "Didn't Kirov's murder immediately involve your own hands?", they answered with one syllable: "Yes."

On a number of occasions, however, even these defendants uttered equivo-

{p. 25} cal formulations which suggested that their confessions were forced. Thus, during Bakaev's interrogation, Zinoviev declared: "In my opinion, Bakaev is right when he says that the actual main perpetrators of Kirov's villainous murder were myself - Zinoviev, Trotsky and Kamenev [my emphasis - V. R.]."

The fact that the terrorist center which had existed since 1932 had not been discovered earlier was explained at the investigation and trial by the assiduous precautions followed by the conspirators. However, from the trial material it became clear that the terrorist activity of the defendants amounted to incessant discussions among themselves and with dozens of other people about terror, the arranging of meetings and of trips for the transmission of Trotsky's directives, and so forth. The indictment and sentence describe in detail how the defendants created large groups for the preparation of terrorist acts, how they inspired and egged on these groups, gave each other assignments and reported about their execution. But the "active preparation" of the terrorist act was limited to observing the movements of the "leaders" and to the interruption at the last moment of carefully prepared attacks because of some "unforeseen circumstances."

Behind all this, however, one important question remained: What motives prompted the defendants to undertake their treacherous crimes?


IN HER EXPLANATION given in 1956 to the Procurator of the USSR, Safonova wrote that her testimony, just like the testimony of Zinoviev, Mrachkovsky Yevdokimov and Ter-Vaganian which had been given at the pretrial investigation and trial, "did not correspond to reality 90 percent of the time."1

The rehabilitation notes concerning the case of the "United Trotsky-Zinoviev Center" do not provide an answer to what the "ten percent of the truth" was which was contained in the defendants' testimony (of course, this number is approximate, since the relationship between truth and falsehood cannot be measured in percentages).

We find a partial answer to this question in the chapter of The Red Book "What Actually Happened?" Here Sedov referred, although in a very cautious and hypothetical form, to the attempt by opposition groups to form an anti-Stalinist bloc in 1932. In this regard he described the situation in the country which had developed by this time: "The administrative abolition of classes in the countryside and the forced 'complete' collectivization had radically undermined agriculture. Disproportions in the Soviet economy had assumed extraordinary dimensions, both between industry and agriculture, and within industry; there was a catastrophic level of quality, an absence of consumer goods, inflation, and the complete disruption of transportation. The material situation of the masses worsened continuously, and malnutrition turned into actual starvation. Millions of new workers lacked housing and languished in barracks, often without light, in the cold and filth. Across the country people suffered from an epidemic of spotted fever, the likes of which had not been seen since the Civil War. A general feeling of exhaustion and discontent began to surface. Workers began to resort to strikes ever more frequently; in Ivanovo-Voznesensk there were major working class upheavals. ... In the Caucasus and the Kuban a minor civil war was actually under way. The demoralization which was growing ever stronger in the party, the discontent and the distrust of the

{p. 61} leadership had even spread into the apparatus. Conversations about how Stalin was leading the country to its destruction could be heard everywhere: among Old Bolsheviks, workers, and young Komsomol members."2

Under these conditions, Sedov continued, a certain rejuvenation occurred among groups of the Trotskyist opposition which had capitulated earlier, as well as groups of Zinovievists, rightists and others. "Probably, people from the various groups and circles sought ties with each other and ways of coming together personally. The most audacious, perhaps, began to say that it would be good to create a 'bloc.'"

In declaring that the unbroken Trotskyists had never formed a bloc with any of these groups, Sedov added that their "politically irreconcilable attitude toward capitulation did not exclude individual personal gatherings or the exchange of information - but nothing more than that."3

In discussing the testimony given at the trial by Smirnov and Goltsman, Sedov wrote that he and Smirnov had actually talked in July 1931 during their chance meeting at a Berlin department store. During this meeting Smirnov declared that "today's conditions in the USSR do not allow the conduct of any oppositional work, and that in any case one had to wait for changes in these conditions"... On political questions the two found that their views were rather close. At the end of the conversation, they agreed that, "if the possibility arose, I. N. Smirnov would send information about the economic and political situation in the USSR, so that it would help them here, abroad, to more correctly find an orientation on Russian questions."

Sedov recounted that for a long time after this meeting, there was no news from Smirnov. Only in the fall of 1932 did Goltsman come to Berlin on business matters. He gave Sedov Smirnov's article on the economic situation in the USSR. This article was printed under a pseudonym in the November 1932 issue of the Bulletin of the Opposition. The same issue contained anonymous correspondence from Moscow, compiled by the editors of the Bulletin on the basis of Goltsman's accounts of the political situation in the USSR.

On his part Sedov told Goltsman (to be passed on to Smirnov) about Trotsky's views concerning events taking place in the Soviet Union. "These two facts," Sedov emphasized, "i.e., that the meetings of Smirnov and Goltsman with Sedov actually took place, were the only grains of truth in the sea of lies at the Moscow Trial."4

And these facts were told by Trotsky and Sedov in 1937 to the Interna-

{p. 62} tional Commission created to investigate the accusations of the Moscow Trials.

A study of documents held in foreign archives has shown that Sedov did not tell everything he knew about the facts which at the Trial of the Sixteen had been combined with lies concerning terrorist activity by oppositionists, their ties to the Gestapo, and so forth.

While working on the portion of Trotsky's archive which opened in 1980, the American historian J. Arch Getty and the French historian Pierre Broue, independently of each other, discovered documents which indicate that Trotsky and Sedov entered into contact with participants in an anti-Stalinist bloc which was being formed.5 Thus, in a report to the International Secretariat of the Left Opposition written in 1934, Sedov stated that members of Smirnov's group, who had broken in 1929 with the Left Opposition, three years later had once again rejoined it and conducted negotiations with members of other former opposition groups about creating an anti-Stalinist bloc.6

In a letter of 1 November 1932, Sedov told Trotsky that the Smirnov group had entered into a bloc with Zinovievists and with the Sten-Lominadze group. In the course of negotiations about the bloc which occurred not long before Zinovev and Kamenev were exiled from Moscow (in connection with the "Riutin affair"), the latter acknowledged that the most serious political mistake of their lives had been to renounce the Left Opposition in 1927. Sedov also wrote that arrests of the Smirnov group had begun and that Smirnov himself, who had been informed about the course of the investigation by a member of the GPU sympathetic to the Opposition, "a few days before his arrest told our informer: 'I await my arrest any day now.'" In the letter's conclusion, Sedov wrote: "the downfall of the 'formers' [capitulators - V. R.] is a great blow, but our ties to the factories have been preserved."7

In a reply to Sedov, Trotsky indicated that he felt it was possible to collaborate with the bloc. This collaboration might at first take the form of exchanging information. He proposed that their "allies" send correspondence for the Bulletin of the Opposition, which the editors would publish while retaining the right to provide commentary on this material. Further Trotsky asked Sedov to answer the following questions: what was the opinion of their "allies" on the draft of the Opposition Platform which had been published not long before in the Bulletin; what was the position of the "ultra-left" groups (the Democratic Centralists, the Workers Opposition); what was the content of the Declaration

{p. 63} of the Eighteen (this was the title given to the "Manifesto" of the Riutin Group in the Menshevik journal, Socialist Herald)?8

After studying archival documents, P. Broue came to the conclusion that the Trial of the Sixteen used certain facts which were actually true. "If we decide to treat the official minutes of the first Moscow Trial as a palimpsest, suppressing from them all mention of terrorism," he writes, " we find the story of a political evolution of political people in a changing but dramatic situation."9 The French historian considers the following facts which were mentioned at the trial to be real. After his return from exile Safarov proposed to his comrades in the opposition that they return to a discussion of ways to fight against Stalin (Kamenev's testimony); in 1931-1932 Zinoviev entered into oppositional contact with Smirnov, Sokolnikov, leaders of the former "Workers Opposition" Shliapnikov and Medvedev and members of the Sten-Lominadze Group (Zinoviev's testimony); during this period Zinoviev and Kamenev thought that it was possible and necessary "to remove Stalin" (that is, to remove him from the post of general secretary), and also to establish contact with Trotsky (testimony of Zinoviev and Kamenev); during a meeting at Zinoviev's dacha in 1932, members of the former "Leningrad opposition" came to the conclusion that it was necessary to reestablish the bloc with the Trotskyists which they had broken up five years earlier (Reingold's testimony). They delegated Yevdokimov to meet with the "Smirnovists," and this meeting took place at one of the Moscow train stations in Mrachkovsky's official railway car. Mrachkovsky was then working as head of the construction of BAM (the Baikal-Amur line). There Smirnov told representatives of other opposition groups about his meetings with Sedov.

The anti-Stalinist bloc finally took form in June 1932. After a few months, Goltsman passed information to Sedov about the bloc, and then brought back to Moscow Trotsky's reply about agreeing to collaborate with the bloc.

In relations between Trotsky and Sedov and their cothinkers in the USSR, the conspiracy was outstandingly maintained. Although the GPU conducted careful surveillance of them, it was unable to uncover any meetings, correspondence or other forms of their contact with Soviet oppositionists. And far from all of the opposition contacts inside the Soviet Union were tracked down. Although there was a series of arrests of participants in illegal opposition groups at the end of 1932 and the beginning of 1933, not a single one of those arrested mentioned negotiations about the creation of a bloc. For this reason several of

{p. 64} the participants in these negotiations (Lominadze, Shatskin, Goltsman and others) remained at liberty until 1935-36. Only after a new wave of arrests following Kirov's assassination, after interrogations and reinterrogations of dozens of Oppositionists, did Stalin receive information about the 1932 bloc, which served as one of the main reasons for organizing the Great Purge. It is not excluded that this information might have been received from Zborowski, too, who by 1935 had penetrated into Sedov's closest circle and who enjoyed his fill confidence.

At the February-March Plenum of the Central Committee, Yezhov said that the secret political department of the OGPU in 1931-1932 had material from agents about the existence "of a Trotskyist center headed by Smirnov," about how the latter arranged contacts with Trotsky and Sedov, and about the creation of a bloc "of Trotskyists and Zinovievists, rightists and leftists." On the basis of this material, Smirnov and his group, consisting of eighty-seven people, were arrested in 1933. However, the investigation into their case "was conducted in such a way that this material from the agents had not been used."10

The majority of the bloc's participants were shot in 1936-37. Evidently, only two of them - Safarov and Konstantinov - lived until the beginning of the 1940s, when they were killed in the course of systematically liquidating all the former active oppositionists who still remained in the camps.

In the Harvard archives I found a number of new documents showing that Trotsky and Sedov entered into contact with participants in the anti-Stalinist bloc as it was forming. In 1936, Sedov wrote to Victor Serge about the NKVD's uncovering of foreign "Trotskyist" ties: "I personally feel that the source of the provocations lies in Russia and not here. No one besides L. D. and I has ever known anything about the Russian comrades whom I see abroad. A number of disasters I know about occurred many months later, without anything to do with meetings abroad. ... For me there is no doubt that the charge of foreign ties was issued on the basis of information gathered in Moscow and not on the basis of information received abroad

After the appearance of the first announcements about the Trial of the Sixteen, Sedov sent a letter by special courier to Trotsky. Fear that it might somehow be seized explains some of the peculiarities of this letter (using the formal "vy", etc.). In it, Sedov recalled that at the end of 1932 Kolokoltsev (the conspiratorial name for I. N. Smirnov - V. R.) delegated Orlov (Goltsman - V. R.), who brought to Berlin the letter and economic article which was published

{p. 65} in the Bulletin. At that time "Orlov told how Kolokoltsev awaited his arrest any day, for a provocateur had been uncovered close to him." "From what he has said [Orlov, at the trial - V. R.] so far," added Sedov, "there has been nothing mentioned about all this. He names another city and another person whom he supposedly saw (Copenhagen and Trotsky - V. R.)." Recalling that I. N. Smirnov had been arrested at the end of 1932 and sentenced to ten years in a political prison "for foreign ties," Sedov wrote: "Insofar as he himself feels that it is necessary to hide nothing [at the trial - V. R.], and moreover, since he is telling the most fantastic tales, I think that I have to say exactly what did happen. Observing this principle in general, we must make sure that we don't harm anyone:'

In the same letter, Sedov asked Trotsky to reply "whether there had been any provocative attempts to see you at the time of your trip several years ago, when you gave lectures. As far as I know, there weren't even any attempts."12

Trotsky and Sedov felt that the Trial of the Sixteen was a provocation or complex amalgam (i.e., a maliciously deliberate weaving together of the truth and false versions) rather than a simple falsification.

Since, relatively speaking, the organizers of the trial had created an amalgam consisting of 90 percent lies and 10 percent truth, Trotsky and Sedov denied several facts which they knew to be true. For instance, at the trial it was said that the Old Bolshevik Yuri Gaven had passed Trotsky's "instructions" to Smirnov. Gaven's name had figured in the testimony given by Smirnov, Mrachkovsky, and Safonova, and had been mentioned several times in Vyshinsky's indictment speech. However, Gaven had not appeared at the trial even as a witness, and his case had been "set aside for special treatment." In the trial's sentence, Gaven's name was not mentioned, and Goltsman was designated as the transmitter of Trotsky's "instructions." From all this, Trotsky and Sedov concluded that Gaven had not been broken and during the investigation he had refused to confess to the charges made against him. In a letter to Trotsky, Sedov stressed that "Sorokin [Gaven's conspiratorial name - V. R.], whom you also know, has not been included in the case. It seems to me that the only explanation for this is that he stubbornly held out, didn't agree to any foul behavior, and therefore remained outside the case." At this point Sedov wrote about the necessity of "remaining silent only about those matters which might harm various people."13 Proceeding from this principle, Trotsky and Sedov denied their contacts with Gaven, who had acted as one of the intermediaries between Trotsky and the anti-Stalinist bloc. Similar facts convince us

{p. 66} that Trotsky and Sedov decided to deny everything except what the Stalinist inquisitors knew for certain.

This total denial was dictated by the need to defend the Old Bolsheviks. "To acknowledge the existence of a 'Trotsky-Zinoviev bloc,' falsely accused of terrorism at the trial," writes P. Broue, "would have meant that Trotsky and Sedov were giving away their friends and allies. ... Trotsky and Sedov were fighting for their own lives and honor, for the lives and honor of their comrades-in-arms, and they were not inclined to give them away."14

P. Broue feels that the time has come for a new investigation which will allow us to determine what aspects of the genuine struggle of Old Bolsheviks against Stalin and Stalinism found their reflection at the trials of 1936-1938 and were amalgamated with invented charges. He stresses that the facts about the organization of a bloc of communist opposition demolishes the legend about the absence of any resistance to Stalinism in the Bolshevik milieu. The creation of this bloc reflected the attempt by the best forces of the party to unite in order to lead the country out of the bitter economic and political crisis which the adventurist policies of the Stalinist clique had produced.

As Broue correctly indicates, the version about the absolutely whimsical nature of the Stalinist repressions is shared by those who refuse to acknowledge the degeneration of the political regime established by the October Revolution. They assert that this regime from the very beginning set the goal of securing the absolute "monolithism" of the party, excluding any possibility of, criticism, discussion or opposition. Falsifiers of this type try to convince public opinion that all Soviet history is subject to a strict and fatal predetermination, and that Stalinism was the logical continuation of Leninism. "Virtually proceeding from the position that scientific approaches to history are inapplicable in the study of the evolution of Soviet society, they explain the Moscow Trials not as a political crisis of the Stalinist regime, but as the essence of what they call 'communism.'"15

In actual fact, the Moscow Trials were not a senseless and cold-blooded crime, but Stalin's counterblow in the sharpest of political battles.

{p. 112} Immediately after the confrontations were finished, a second session of the plenum began which lasted no more than half an hour. Stalin spoke "on behalf of the members of the Politburo" with a statement about the confrontations. Noting that Bukharin categorically denied the testimony of the arrested, Stalin said that the following impression had been formed among the Politburo members: the testimony could not be "fully accepted," and they "did not completely deserve to be trusted." Moreover, the arrested people, according to Stalin, had made such '"general statements" about contacts between the Trotskyists and former leaders of the Rightists, that they "could have been made up." In all the testimony heard by the members of the Politburo, there was reference only to "terrorist conversations," but there was no indication that Bukharin and Rykov were tied with any terrorist group, of which "there had been quite a few among intermediate and advanced students, and among the peasants."

Stalin summarized the general opinion which arose among Politburo members after the confrontations in the following casuistic formulations: "While not trusting Bukharin and Rykov with regard to what has recently happened, perhaps they should be removed from membership in the Central Committee. It is possible that this measure will prove to be insufficient, and it is possible that this measure will prove to be too severe. Therefore the opinion of the members of the Politburo amounts to the following - to consider the question of Rykov and Bukharin unresolved." Stalin reinforced this conclusion with an announcement that five or six confrontations had to be set up with people who had "vilified" Bukharin and Rykov to a greater degree than the three who had just been interrogated by members of the Politburo.25

After Stalin's proposal had been passed, Stalin ordered: "Do not report on the Plenum in the newspapers." Someone in the audience asked: "Can we tell about it?" To the accompaniment of"'general laughter," Stalin replied: "What, you want to shut people up? Different people will say different things."26

The plenum's resolution stated: "(a) To take under consideration Comrade Yezhov's report. (b) To accept Comrade Stalin's proposal to consider the question of Rykov and Bukharin unresolved. To continue further verification and to set aside case until it can be resolved at the next plenum of the Central Committee."27 "Further verification" was entrusted, of course, to the People's Commissar of Internal Affairs, i.e., to Yezhov, at whose unlimited disposal the fate of all the arrested "accused" remained.


IN THE INTERIM between the two plenums of the Central Committee (December and February-March), a second show trial was held which lasted for eight days (23-30 January 1937).

The first of the defendants at this trial to be arrested was Muralov (in April 1936). It is possible that he was designated to be placed on the stand at the previous trial, but in the course of seven and one-half months they had not managed to obtain a confession.

The first of the defendants who agreed to collaborate with the investigation was Sokolnikov. A. M. Larina recounts that in the camps the wife of the Deputy People's Commissar of Internal Affairs, Prokofiev, told her what her husband had said. Immediately after he was arrested and informed of the charges against him, Sokolnikov declared: "As soon as you demand that I give outlandish confessions, I will agree to give them. The greater the number of people who will be drawn into the spectacle you are staging, the sooner people will wake up in the CC and the sooner you will be sitting in my place."1

This fact is one of the examples demonstrating that in 1936, not only people who were uninformed about Stalin's political intrigues but also sophisticated political figures who had fallen under the steamroller of repression had no conception of how cruel the political strategy would be which had been formulated by combining a complex mixture of domestic and geopolitical circumstances together with Stalin's personal qualities.

Even leaders of such stature as Sokolnikov were captive to a psychological dictum which is natural in such extreme situations: "This cannot be." They believed in the "common sense" of the ruling elite. As today's experience now shows, similar ineradicable mass illusions are born in conditions of cruel historical changes. They often prove to be fatal, since they form for many people an absolutely inadequate conception of what is taking place and in the final analysis they prompt people to arrive at false historical conclusions.

{p. 114} Stalin, who carefully followed the course of the investigation in Sokolnikov's case, made comments on the transcript of his interrogation which directly indicated what testimony should be obtained from him. Next to the record of Sokolnikov's account of his meeting with the English journalist, Talbot, Stalin wrote a question and then provided the necessary answer to his own question: "But nevertheless did he tell of the plan to kill leaders of the VKP? Of course he did." On the next page of the transcript, where Sokolnikov testifies that he did not know of Talbot's links with English intelligence, Stalin wrote in: "Sokolnikov of course, gave information to Talbot about the USSR, CC, PB, GPU, about everything. Sokolnikov - consequently - was an informer (spy-intelligence agent) for British intelligence."2

It proved to be more complicated to obtain testimony from Radek - the only prominent Trotskyist who was allowed after capitulation to occupy a responsible position in the party apparatus (before his arrest he had headed the international information bureau of the CC VKP[b]). After giving a declaration of repentance, Radek promised Stalin to wage active propaganda against the

{p. 115} Left Opposition and became one of his main assistants in the slander campaigns against Trotskyism: "From his pen now flowed the most unprincipled accusations and poisonous invectives directed against Trotsky," wrote A. Orlov. "Even in 1929, seven years before the beginning of the Moscow Trials, Radek publicly called Trotsky Judas and accused him of becoming 'Lord Beaverbrook's stooge.' The flood of this abuse and slander literally increased over the years in geometrical proportions."3

Radek's most filthy deed - the betrayal of Bliumkin in 1929, when the latter brought Radek a letter from Trotsky after an illegal visit to Trotsky in Prinkipo - was related to the oppositionists by Rabinovich, a member of the secret political sector of the OGPU who secretly shared the views of the opposition. Rabinovich, like Bliumkin, was shot without a trial. "Radek's guilt was as severe as if he had become an agent-provocateur of the Soviet punitive organs. ... Old Bolsheviks - even those who never had anything to do with the Opposition - began to boycott Radek and stopped greeting him."4

In an article published during the Trial of the Sixteen, Radek boasted of his role as informer in the Bliumkin case, and introduced a new nuance in his story about Bliumkin's meeting with Trotsky. According to Radek, Trotsky persuaded Bliumkin to organize the transport of illegal literature into the USSR. Radek also told how in 1928 Trotsky prepared to flee abroad, "and tried to persuade me and others to do the same, for without a foreign center, nothing would work." "I was horrified,' Radek added, "by the thought of actions against the USSR under the aegis of bourgeois states and sabotaged the attempt to escape."5

On the eve of his own arrest, Radek often sent letters to Stalin in which he reiterated his own innocence. He evidently assumed that he would have to play a shameful role in the upcoming trial. When he was being led away to prison, he said in farewell to his daughter: "Whatever you learn and whatever you hear about me, be assured that I am guilty of nothing."6

For two and a half months after his arrest, Radek gave no confessional testimony, although a whole brigade of investigators worked on him, resorting to the conveyor system of interrogation.* At the December Plenum of the Central Committee, Stalin announced that he had received long letters from Radek

* The wide use of exhausting "conveyor" interrogations of the accused and of standing for many hours was reported in 1961 by the surviving investigators who had taken part in the fabrication of this "case."

{p. 116} in prison in which he said that "a terrible crime" was being committed." People want to put him - a sincere man, devoted to the party, who loves the party, loves the CC, and so on, and so forth - on the spot. ... You can shoot him or not, that is up to you. But he would like his honor to remain untarnished"7

According to Orlov, Radek began to confess only after a long conversation with Stalin. Renouncing the testimony that had been written for him by the investigators, he offered his own version about the activity of the center which supposedly had authorized Trotsky to carry on negotiations with the German government."8

Like Muralov and Radek, the majority of the other defendants gave confessional testimony far from immediately. Such testimony was received from Drobnis forty days after his arrest, from Piatakov and Shestov after thirty-three days, from Serebriakov after three and a half months, from Turok after fifty-eight days, and from Norkin and Livshits after fifty-one days.

The preparation of this trial, like the preceding, Stalin placed under his personal control. Notes which survive in Vyshinsky's personal archive, which were made during a discussion with Stalin, show that Stalin evidently feared that the defendants would slip up during concrete descriptions of wrecking acts. He ordered Vyshinsky: "Don't allow them to talk much about disasters. Shut them up. They caused so many disasters, don't let them blab too much."9

Yezhov and Vyshinsky presented Stalin with three variants of the final indictment. Stalin gave instructions about reworking the first variant and personally edited the second variant, striking out the name of one defendant (Chlenov) and writing in another in his place (Turok).

Besides well-known political figures (Sokolnikov, Radek, Piatakov, Serebriakov, Muralov and Boguslavsky), the trial included five men who had worked at Kuzbass enterprises and who had passed through the rehearsal of the "Kemerovo Trial" (Drobnis, Norkin, Shestov, Stroilov and Arnold), four hlghly-placed officials in economic Commissariats (Livshits, Rataichak, Kniazev and Grashe) and two provincial economic specialists (Turok and Pushin). The last six were chosen from a larger number of economists and engineers who had been arrested by that time.

In order to invest the trial with greater credibility, the court transcript contained not one hundred fifty pages, like the transcript of the Trial of the Sixteen, but four hundred pages. The entire transcript was presented in the form of a dialogue between the prosecutor and the defendants, and was free of anony-

{p. 117} mous commentary about the behavior of the defendants.

The trial transcript mentioned Trotsky's name hundreds of times. Piatakov and Radek said that the defendants at the previous trial had concealed the most important point: they had received directives from Trotsky about sabotage, a pact with the fascist powers and preparation of the defeat of the USSR in a future war. Such directives, according to Radek's testimony, were also contained in letters to him from Trotsky which were brought by the "center's" emissaries from Sedov. Piatakov testified that he personally met with Sedov (in 1931) and with Trotsky (in 1935).

Among the tasks of the "Trotskyist center," terror was named as before. The list of the seven names designated as victims of terrorist acts at the previous trial was supplemented by the names of Molotov, Eikhe, Yezhov and Beria. The defendants introduced the names of dozens of new people who belonged to the groups preparing the attacks on the "leaders."

Victor Serge, who personally knew several of the "terrorists" mentioned at the trials, told how one of them was Zaks-Gladnev, an erudite old Marxist and wonderful orator who led a solitary life and was completely incapable of any practical actions; another was the young journalist and scholar, Tivel, who studied Hinduism. One other group of "terrorists" included the young historians Zaidel, Fridliand, Vanag and Piontkovsky, whose works were not lacking in merit, but which were permeated with a thoroughly Stalinist spirit.10

After Kirov's assassination, not a single terrorist act occurred. And this is in a country where under the tsarist regime, dozens of attacks were carried out against the tsars, their officials and gendarmes. "It is impossible to endlessly use Kirov's corpse in order to annihilate the entire opposition," Trotsky wrote. " ... The new trial therefore advances new charges: economic sabotage, military espionage, assisting the restoration of capitalism, and even attempts at 'the mass extermination of workers.'"11

Noting that nothing had been said at the previous trial about these vicious crimes, Trotsky wrote: "No one has been able to understand as yet how and why Radek and Piatakov, who had already been named as 'accomplices' of the accused in the case of the sixteen at the pretrial investigation, had not been brought to trial in a timely fashion. No one could understand how it was that Zinoviev, Kamenev, Smirnov and Mrachkovsky knew nothing about the international plans of Radek and Piatakov (to expedite war, dismember the USSR, and so forth). People who were not lacking in powers of insight felt that these

{p. 118} grandiose plans, as well as the very idea of a 'parallel center' arose with the GPU after the execution of the sixteen, in order to reinforce one falsification with another. It turns out that this is not the case. In the fall of 1932, Radek told Romm* in good time that the Trotskyist-Zinovievist Center had already come into being, but that he, Radek, and Piatakov had not joined this center; they were saving themselves instead for a 'parallel center dominated by Trotskyists.' In this sense, Radek's sociability was providential. This must not be understood, however, in the sense that Radek in 1932 actually told Romm about a parallel center, as if he had foreseen Vyshinsky's future concerns in 1937. No, the matter is simpler: under the guidance of the GPU, Radek and Romm retrospectively created a scheme of events in 1932. And we must state the truth: they did so poorly."12

Trotsky saw an even more absurd judicial blunder in Romm's statement that he had given Sedov "detailed reports" from Radek "about both the main and parallel centers." "Let us note this priceless circumstance!" wrote Trotsky. "Not one of the sixteen accused, beginning with Zinoviev and ending with Reingold, who knew everything and informed on everyone, knew anything at all in August 1936 about the existence of a parallel center. However Romm, already in the fall of 1932, was fully informed of the idea of a parallel center and of its subsequent realization. No less remarkable is the fact that Radek, who did not belong to the main center, nevertheless sent him "detailed reports about both the main and parallel centers."13

Noting that, according to the testimony of the defendants, the "Trotskyists" unquestioningly executed all of Trotsky's directives, Victor Serge wrote: "The Left Opposition included devoted fighters, but it has never had a 'leader' and has stood against the very idea of leader-worship. The genuine Trotskyists in Stalin's prisons, even if they accepted this label out of respect for "The Old Man" (that is how they referred to Trotsky - V. R.), nevertheless have never taken a single one of his ideas on faith, but have critically examined them. The very idea of authoritarian 'directives' was a product of the twisted imagination (of the Stalinists)."14

The testimony of Radek, Sokolnikov, and Piatakov outlined the following version. Trotsky conducted negotiations with Hess, the deputy chairman of

* V. G. Romm was a Soviet intelligence officer who acted abroad under the guise of a correspondent from TASS and Izvestiia. He served as a witness at the trial of the "Trotskyist Center."

{p. 119} the Nazi Party. Referring to these negotiations, Trotsky told the "center" that in 1937 Germany was planning to attack the USSR.* In this war, Trotsky felt, the Soviet Union would inevitably suffer a defeat in which "all the Trotskyist cadres would also perish in the ruins of the Soviet state." In order to save these cadres from destruction, Trotsky obtained a promise from the leaders of the Third Reich to allow the Trotskyists to come to power, promising them "compensation" in turn: they would be granted concessions and Germany would be sold important economic objects of the USSR; she would be provided with raw materials and produce at prices below the world market, as well as territorial concessions in the form of satisfying German wishes for expansion in the Ukraine. Analogous concessions would be made to Japan, to whom Trotsky promised to give the Priamur and Primore regions in the Far East; he also pledged to guarantee oil "in case of war with the USA." In order to expedite the defeat of the USSR, Trotsky ordered the "center" to prepare a series of the most important industrial enterprises to be taken out of commission at the start of the war. Radek and Sokolnikov "confirmed Trotsky's right to speak in the name of Soviet Trotskyists" in negotiations with the fascist powers, and in conversations with German and Japanese diplomatic representatives they promised the support of "realistic politicians" in the USSR for Trotsky's position.15

Radek was particularly loquacious as he outlined this version; Vyshinsky called him the "holder in the anti-Soviet Trotskyist Center of the foreign affairs portfolio" and "one of the most prominent, and, we must give him his due, most talented and obstinate Trotskyists. ... He is one of the most trusted and closest people to the main ataman of this gang, Trotsky"16 (Vyshinsky borrowed the expression, "ataman of this gang," from an article by Radek which had been published during the Trial of the Sixteen).

As he concluded, Radek was generous in his warnings to not only Trotskyists, but, as he expressed himself, to "semi-Trotskyists, quarter-Trotskyists, and one-eighth Trotskyists," to people who "helped us, without knowing about the terrorist organization, but who sympathized with us, and to people who, out of liberalism or because of discontent with the party, gave us assistance. ... To all these elements we say before the court and before the fact of retribution: whoever has the slightest fissure with regard to the party,

* During the Nuremberg Trial (1946), several Western figures appealed to the members of the tribunal and to the prosecutors to question Hess about these negotiations. However the Soviet side refused "to burden the court' with these "embarrassing" questions.

{p. 120} let him know that tomorrow he might be a saboteur, he might be a traitor if this fissure is not painstakingly closed up with absolute openness before the party." Radek's words directed at "Trotskyist elements" abroad sounded even more threatening; he warned that "they would pay with their heads if they do not learn from our experience."17 These words were soon confirmed by bloody actions performed by the Stalinists in Spain (see Chapter 43).

Meanwhile, in response to insults from the prosecutor, Radek twice said more than Vyshinsky demanded. After Radek's words about the tortuous doubts which he experienced when he received Trotsky's directives, the prosecutor asked him: "Can we ... seriously take what you have said here about your doubts and vacillations?" In response, Radek allowed himself to snap back. "Yes, if you ignore the fact that you learned about the program of the conspirators and about Trotsky's directives only from me, then of course, you cannot take me seriously."13

Even more ambiguous was Radek's statement in his concluding remarks, when he touched on Vyshinsky's characterization of the defendants as a "gang of criminals, differing in no way, or in the best case, differing little from bandits who operate with bludgeons and daggers in the dark of night along the highway."19 Apropos of this comment, Radek declared: "The trial has shown the forge of war, and it has shown that the Trotskyist organization became an agent of those forces which are preparing a new world war. What evidence is there of this fact? There is the testimony of two people - my testimony, about how I received directives and letters from Trotsky (which, unfortunately, I burned) and the testimony of Piatakov, who spoke with Trotsky. All the other testimony from the other defendants rests on our testimony. If you are dealing with simple criminals, or secret agents, then on what can you base your certainty that what we have said is the truth, the unshakable truth?"20

There were a few "shortcomings" in the testimony of the other defendants, too. Thus Muralov, who confessed his participation in the preparation of attacks on Molotov and Eikhe, stubbornly denied Shestov's testimony, according to which he, Muralov, had given directives aboutpreparing a terrorist act against Ordzhonikidze.21

Piatakov, who was the actual leader of heavy industry (he far surpassed Ordzhonikidze in technical and economic knowledge), was entrusted with developing a detailed version about wrecking at the industrial enterprises. Although he was rather compliant during the trial, it was in connection with his

{p. 121} testimony that the investigators made a blunder that was even more significant than the episode with the Hotel "Bristol" at the previous trial.

On 15 September 1936, Trotsky appealed to world public opinion with a warning: after the political disaster of the first trial, Stalin would be compelled to stage a second, at which the GPU would try to transfer the operational base of the conspiracy to Oslo.22 As if proving this hypothesis, Piatakov testified that in December 1935, during a business trip, he was sent from Berlin to Oslo on an airplane provided by the German special services. That this version was invented from beginning to end could be seen not only from the exposes widely circulated in the world press, but in the secret report filed by Zborowski, who said that in a cautious conversation with Sedov, he was able to establish that after Trotsky had left the USSR, he had never met with Piatakov.23

The first commentary for the world press on this question was given by Trotsky on 24 January, immediately after the publication of Piatakov's testimony. Within three days, he addressed thirteen questions to the Moscow Trial through the various telegraph agencies. He asked that these questions be submitted to Piatakov to clarify the circumstances of his pretended meeting with him. By this time, the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten had published a statement that in December 1935 the airport in Oslo had not received a single foreign airplane. On 29 January, the newspaper of the government party announced that the director of the aerodrome in Oslo confirmed that from 19 September 1935 until 1 May 1936, not a single foreign airplane had landed at this airport. On the same day, Trotsky released a new statement in which he said: "I greatly fear that the GPU will rush to shoot Piatakov in order to forestall any further uncomfortable questions and to prevent an international commission of inquiry from demanding precise explanations from Piatakov."24 On the next day, in his final statement Piatakov declared that Trotsky will accuse the defendants of lying "instead of coming here to the trial to deny the charges to my face or turn them against me; he is avoiding a face-to-face confrontation with us."25 However, even this absurd declaration, which was clearly placed in Piatakov's mouth by Vyshinsky, did not save Piatakov from being shot.

As they told of their wrecking activities, Piatakov and other defendants cited actual facts of accidents, disasters and fires which had previously been investigated by numerous commissions. They had always come to the conclusions that these tragic events were the result of the violation of manufacturing and technological discipline, of negligence and poor work quality. Now, how-

{p. 122} ever, all these events were being declared the result of sabotage. Romm, who was presented as an intermediary between Trotsky and the 'center: testified that in a conversation with him in the Bois de Boulogne,* Trotsky spoke about the necessity of carrying out wrecking acts without any concern for human victims.26 Following Romm's example, the defendants insisted that in preparing the fires, explosions and train accidents, they were consciously trying to cause human suffering in order to "strike separate blows against the population and at the same time to provoke animosity toward Stalin and the government."27 The defendants "confessed" that they carried out sabotage and espionage under orders not only from Trotsky-Piatakov, but also the German and Japanese intelligence services.

Trying to produce a feeling of horror, Vyshinsky exclaimed during his indictment speech: "It is not I alone who make the charges! Alongside me, comrade judges, I feel as if right here are standing the victims of these crimes and these criminals - crippled, on crutches, half-alive, and, perhaps even without legs, like Comrade Nagovitsyna, switchman at the Chusovskaya station, who appealed to me today through the pages of Pravd, and who at age twenty lost both her legs while thwarting the derailment organized by these people! ... Perhaps the victims have been buried, but they are standing here beside me, pointing at the defendants' bench, at you, the defendants, with their terrible hands which have rotted in the graves where you sent them!"28

Vyshinsky's indictment speech contained a number of innovations in comparison to the previous trial. Declaring that "Trotsky and the Trotskyists had long been capitalist agents in the workers' movement," Vyshinsky asserted that Trotskyism, "the age-old enemy of socialism," in accordance with "Comrade Stalin's predictions," "had actually turned into the main gathering point of all forces hostile to socialism, into a detachment of common bandits, spies and murderers," into "a vanguard fascist detachment, into the storm-troop battalion of fascism," into "one of the branches of the SS and the Gestapo."29

Without a hint of shame, Vyshinsky made statements from which it became clear that the concrete guilt of the defendants had not even been demonstrated at the trial. Thus, in comments about the former head of the Main Chemical Industry, Rataichak, he made the insulting and mocking remark "He is ... either a German, this has still yet to be finally clarified, or a Polish spy, of ---

* Trotsky presented documents to the commission to investigate the Moscow Trials which showed that at the time designated by Romm, he was not in Paris.

{p. 123} this there can be no doubt; and he deserves to be called a liar, deceiver and swindler."30

Touching upon the trial's main weak spot - the absence of even the slightest material evidence of the defendants' criminal activity - Vyshinsky declared "May I be so bold as to state that, in accordance with the fundamental demands of the science of criminal procedure, in cases of conspiracy such demands cannot be presented."31

In conclusion, Vyshinsky saw only one shortcoming in the given trial. "I am convinced," he said, "that the accused have not stated even one-half of the truth which comprises the nightmarish tale of their terrible crimes against our country, against our great motherland."32

Once again calling Trotsky's open letter from 1932 a terrorist directive, Vyshinsky added a reference to one more article written by Trotsky which contained, in his words, "in rather open, uncamouflaged form ... directives for terror." This time, Vyshinsky quoted not two words, but several sentences from Trotsky's article: "It would be childish to think that the Stalinist bureaucracy can be removed by means of a party or Soviet congress. ... For removing the ruling clique there remain no normal, 'constitutional' means. The bureaucracy can be forced to transfer power to the proletarian vanguard only byforce."33 "What can this be called," Vyshinsky declared, "if not a direct call ... for terror? I can assign no other name to this." Identifying terror with any force, Vyshinsk stated: "An opponent of terror, of violence, would have to say: yes, it is possible [the reorganization of the Soviet state - V. R.] by peaceful means, let us say, the basis of the constitution."34

Commenting on the prosecutor's arguments, Trotsky wrote: "Serious revolutionaries don't play games with violence. But they never refuse to resort t revolutionary violence if history denies them other means. ... I think that the system of Stalinist Bonapartism can only be liquidated by means of a new political revolution. However, revolutions are not made on order. Revolutions grow out of the development of society. They cannot be summoned forth artificially. Even less so can a revolution be replaced by the adventurism of terrorist attacks. When, instead of counterposing these two methods - individual terror and the uprising of the masses - Vyshinsky identifies them, he is striking out the entire history of the Russian Revolution and the entire philosophy of Marxism. What does he put in their place? Forgery."35 Trotsky also labeled a forgery Vyshinsky's statement about the possibility of replacing the Stalinist totalitar-

{p. 124} ian regime "on the basis of the Constitution," which was a fiction and a false foundation for the democracy which supposedly existed in the USSR.

Unlike the previous trial, in the trial of the "parallel center" famous Soviet lawyers participated in defending three of the secondary defendants. They all saw their main assignment as assisting the prosecutor as much as they could. The lawyer Braude, who was defending Kniazev, turned to the judges and openly stated: "I will not conceal from you the exceedingly difficult, incredibly difficult position in which a defender finds himself in this case. ... The feelings of great indignation, rage and horror which now seize our entire country, young and old, the feeling which the prosecutor so clearly reflected in his speech, these feelings cannot be foreign to the defense lawyers." Acknowledging that it had been proven beyond any doubt that Kniazev "derailed trainloads of workers and Red Army troops at the service of Japanese intelligence," Braude detected mitigating circumstances in the fact that Kniazev was only the indirect executor of "the most troubling crimes," the main guilt for which was borne by "the despicable Trotsky."36

It was announced at the trial that fourteen of the defendants not only refused to have defense lawyers, but also refused the right to make a speech in their own defense, deciding to combine it instead with their concluding remarks. However even these speeches resembled not so much a defense as degrading self-condemnation.

In their concluding remarks several of the defendants tried to explain indirectly the reasons for their false confessions. In this regard, Muralov's speech was particularly characteristic, and it later served as one of the main arguments for advocates of the "Koestler complex" (see Chapter 20). Muralov stated that in prison he had come to the conclusion: "If I continue to remain a Trotskyist, then I might become a banner for the counterrevolution. This terrified me. If I refused to speak out, I would become a banner for the counterrevolutionary elements which still existed, unfortunately, on the territory of the Soviet republic. I did not want to be the root from which these poisonous shoots would sprout. ... And I then said to myself, after almost eight months [in which Muralov had not confessed - V. R.], let me subordinate my personal interest to the interests of the state for which I had actively fought in three revolutions, when dozens of times my life had hung by a thread."37

At the prosecutor's bidding, the defendants denied even the suggestion that they had given their testimony under "external pressure." Thus, Vyshinsky ques-

{p. 125} tioned Norkin in detail about whether the investigators had "pressured" him. Such "pressure," Vyshinsky said in concretizing his questions, could be expressed in depriving the accused of good food or sleep: "We know this from the history of capitalist prisons. They might take away cigarettes." In response to these cynical questions, Norkin meekly replied that "there had been nothing of the sort."33

Radek went even further in his concluding remarks when he himself raised this risky theme: "If the question is posed here, did they torture us during the investigation, then I must say that they did not torture me, but I tortured the investigators by forcing them to perform unnecessary work [i.e., by refusing for two and a half months to confess - V. R.]."39

The sentence of the court indicated that "Piatakov, Serebriakov, Radek and Sokolnikov were members of the anti-Soviet Trotskyist center and on direct orders from L. Trotsky, the enemy of the people who was living abroad ... directed the sabotage-wrecking, espionage and terrorist activity of the anti-Soviet Trotskyist organization in the Soviet Union." The remaining defendants were found guilty of participating in this organization and of fulfilling the as-

{p. 126} signments of the "center."40

On 28 January, Ulrich sent the draft of the sentence he had written to Yezhov "for approval." Only one measure of punishment figured in this sentence for all the defendants - shooting. Yezhov, on orders from Stalin, of course, amended the sentence by softening the punishment for four of the defendants, including two members of the "center" - Sokolnikov and Radek. This maneuver was supposed to serve as a source of hope for the defendants at future trials.

After the sentence had been pronounced, the men who had been condemned to death by shooting submitted appeals for clemency to the Central Executive Committee. Trying to choose words that would be the most convincing for the Stalinists, Piatakov wrote: "During all these months of imprisonment and the extremely difficult days of the trial, many times I have checked myself to see if a single, even the most minuscule remnant of Trotskyism remained within me." "I am sixty years old," wrote Muralov. "I want to devote the remainder of my life fully to the good of constructing our great Motherland. I take the liberty of beseeching the Central Executive Committee of the USSR to spare me my life."41

This time as well, despite the seventy-two hours that were provided for reviewing appeals for mercy, the defendants were shot on the day after the sentence was read.

The four defendants who were spared did not outlive their codefendants for long. Radek and Sokolnikov were murdered in 1939 by criminals who were prison cellmates, apparently on orders from the "organs." Arnold and Stroilov were shot in October 1941 in the Orlov prison, according to a new sentence passed in absentia. They were executed along with the defendants in the case of the "Right-Trotskyist Bloc" who avoided death in 1938, and with other political prisoners (for instance, Maria Spiridonova).

On the day the trial ended, a meeting was held on Red Square in temperatures of thirty degrees below zero. Speeches condemning the defendants were given by Khrushchev, Shvernik and Komarov, the president of the Academy of Sciences.

The case of the "Anti-Soviet Trotskyist Center" contained even fewer actual facts than the material of the previous trial. Sedov wrote about this very explicitly to Victor Serge, who had assumed that behind the second trial might lie the provocative use of attempts or at least the readiness on the part of some of the defendants to fight against Stalinism. "If this trial is constructed more success-

{p. 127} fully [than the Trial of the Sixteen - V. R.]." Sedov emphasized, "then that is chiefly because the defendants themselves, especially Radek, actively participated in the work of falsification, and, without any doubt, Radek in particular personally 'edited' L. D:s letters; Piatakov's conversation with L. D. was worked out by Piatakov with Radek's collaboration, otherwise such idiots as Yezhov never would have managed to carry out this refined and sophisticated falsification. Moreover, Radek's amorality, his cynicism, and other qualities made him the most appropriate candidate, in essence the leader, of the GPU's investigatory kitchen. ... If we had tried to draw such people as Piatakov and Radek into some kind of 'conspiracy,' by sending them some kind of provocative letters, they immediately would have informed the GPU about this. There can be no doubt about this fact for anyone who knows these people and the situation in Soviet Russia. ... Your hypothesis cannot help but be of use to all well-wishers of Stalinism who readily speak out in these or other questions of form, and who acknowledge that there was much that was untrue or exaggerated at the trial, but that something real lay at the heart of the trial. ... At the trial of Radek and Piatakov, insofar as we are talking about the political formulations of this trial, there is even less truth than at the trial of Zinoviev-Kamenev. There are not even the pitiful crumbs such as my meeting with I. N. Smirnov. Everything here is a lie, perhaps less vulgar, but even more despicable and demoralizing."42

Immediately after the trial ended, foreign communist parties unleashed a loud campaign to discredit "the Trotskyist counterrevolutionaries and servants of the Gestapo." A few days after the defendants had been shot, Pravda reprinted an article by Dolores Ibarruri, which had been published in the Spanish communist newspaper, Frente Rojo. "After the trial," the article said, " ... every worker and peasant, every fighter for the cause of freedom and progress could clearly see the wretched role which the Trotskyists have played in the international revolutionary movement. ... In the face of irrefutable facts and proof, what has been unmasked is the genuine meaning of the theory, camouflaged with ultrarevolutionary phrases, which concealed the rot, ambition and egoism of the renegade Trotsky." Asserting that in every country the goal of the Trotskyists was to undermine the revolution from within, Ibarruri declared that "as a result of the trial of the anti-Soviet Trotskyist Center, those people who until now, perhaps, had still believed the Trotskyists, must now acknowledge the correctness of the policy of the Spanish Communist Party, which does not wish to collaborate with Trotskyists in a single communist organization."43

{p. 128} Abroad, the trial was also justified by liberal "friends of the USSR," particularly by Pritt, who wrote about the trial's juridical irreproachability. At the beginning of March, the famous Danish writer, Andersen-Nexo who had attended the trial, arrived in Oslo and declared that he had no doubts about the veraclty of Piatakov's testimony concerning his meeting with Trotsky.

Among Western liberals, first place in disorienting the Western public fell arguably to Feuchtwanger, who before the trial had even finished appeared in Pravda with the article, "First Impressions about the Trial." In it he "stated with satisfaction" that "the Trial of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyist Center has shed light on the motives which have forced the defendants to confess their guilt. For those who are honestly trying to establish the truth it thus becomes easier to evaluate these confessions as evidence." Understanding the unconvincing nature of such an explanation for world public opinion, Feuchtwanger called for help from "the pen of a great Soviet writer," which "alone ... might explain to Western European people the crimes and punishment of the defendants."44

In his book Moscow 1937, as a counterweight to those "doubters" who felt that the behavior of the defendants was psychologically inexplicable, Feuchtwanger referred to the opinion of "Soviet citizens," who gave "a very simple" explanation of the reasons for the confessions by the accused: "During the pretrial investigation, they were so thoroughly exposed by the testimony of witnesses and by documents, that their denial would be pointless." "The pathetic character of the confessions," Feuchtwanger wrote further, "must be attributed fundamentally to the translation. Russian intonation can be transmitted only with difficulty, and the Russian language in translation sounds somewhat strange and exaggerated, as if its basic tone is one of the superlative degree."45

Feuchtwanger accompanied these linguistic excursions with an exposition of his "immediate impressions" of the trial, which he attended every day. Addressing the fact that many people who had earlier been friends of the Soviet Union had changed their positions after the first Moscow Trial, Feuchtwanger wrote: "For me, too ... the charges made at the Zinoviev trial seemed to be unworthy of trust. It seemed to me that the hysterical confessions of the accused had been obtained by some form of secret methods. The entire trial seemed to me to be some kind of theatrical spectacle which had been staged with unusually outlandish and unrestrained artifice. But when I attended the second trial in Moscow, when I saw and heard Piatakov, Radek and their friends, I felt that my doubts had dissolved like salt in wateL... If all this had been invented or

{p. 129} contrived, then I do not know what truth would then mean."46

Feuchtwanger added that the trial was to a certain degree a party trial at which the accused felt themselves still bound to the party. "Therefore it is not accidental that the trial from the very beginning bore the character of a discussion, which is strange for foreigners. The judges, prosecutor and accused - and it did not just seem this way - were bound together by the bonds of a common goal. They were like engineers who were testing an absolutely new and complex machine. Some of them had ruined something in the machine, they had ruined it not out of malice but simply because they capriciously wanted to test out their theories about improving the machine [that is how FeuchtwangeI interpreted charges of terror, espionage, wrecking, defeatism, and so forth! - V. R.]. Their methods proved to be wrong, but this machine is close to their hearts no less than for others, and therefore they discuss their mistakes in open conversation with others. They are all united by their interest in the machine and by their love for it. And it is this feeling that prompts the judges and the accused to collaborate so cordially with each other."47

Feuchtwanger supplemented this string of sophisms by repeating Socrates' words, who "with regard to some of Heraclitus' unclear propositions said the following: 'What I understood is beautiful. Therefore I conclude that the rest I did not understand is also beautiful.'"48

Feuchtwanger's sophistry to no small degree was evoked by "arguments which he borrowed from Stalin, who devoted several hours to a "sincere" dicussion with him. The writer recalled that he told Stalin "about the poor impression which was made abroad, even on people favorably disposed to the USSR, by the overly simple devices in the Zinoviev trial. Stalin laughed a bit at those who, before agreeing to believe in a conspiracy, demand to see a large number of written documents; experienced conspirators, he noted, rarely are accustomed to keeping their documents in an open place." Stalin aroused particular trust in Feuchtwanger by the fact that he spoke "with sorrow and consteation about his friendly attitude toward Radek, who nevertheless had betrayed him.49

This time, the "explanations" given by "friends of the USSR" such as Feuchtwanger did not sound as convincing for foreign public opinion as they had after the first trial - primarily because now the whole world could hear Trosky's own voice as he exposed them.


UNTIL THE MIDDLE of December 1936, Trotsky lived in conditions of strict isolation. On 11 December he was called as a witness in the trial of the fascists who carried out the raid on his apartment. Inasmuch as the court was interested in Trotsky's political activity, he gave a four-hour speech which ended with the words: "It is hardly possible to find throughout human history a more grandiose apparatus of slander than that which has been set in motion against me. The budget of this international slander campaign reaches into the millions of pure gold."1 While Trotsky remained in Norway, this speech, which had been given at a trial taking place behind closed doors, was never published. Later Trotsky restored its contents by using the outline in his possession and included it in his book, The Crimes of Stalin.

At about the same time, Trotsky was visited by Trygve Lie, for whom the prisoner recalled the words spoken by Doctor Stockman, the hero of Ibsen's play, Enemy of the People: "We shall yet see if baseness and cowardice are strong enough to close the mouth of a free and honest man!" When the minister declared that his government had committed a stupid mistake by offering Trotsky political asylum, Trotsky said: "And you want to correct this stupidity by committing a crime? You are acting toward me like the Noskes and Scheidemanns acted in relation to Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. You are paving the way for fascism. If the workers of Spain and France do not save you, you and your colleagues in a few years will become emigrants, much like your predecessors, the German Social-Democrats."2 In 1940, before fleeing to England after German troops had invaded Norway, the Norwegian king reminded Trygve Lie of "Trotsky's curse." In his memoirs about the war Koht, the former chairman of the Norwegian parliament, wrote mournfully that the leaders of his party in 1936 ignored Trotsky's words, considering his prognosis to be absolutely unrealistic.3

In the middle of December, news reached Norway of the Mexican government's offer to give Trotsky political asylum. This decision was made by

{p. 131} the President of Mexico, Lazaro Cardenas, an active participant in the popular revolution of 1910-1917. After being elected president in 1934, Cardenas enacted social and anti-imperialist reforms - giving the peasants the landowners' latifundia and nationalizing the oil and railway companies which were owned by American and British capitalists. Only after Stalin's death did the Soviet authorities recognize Cardenas as an outstanding political and social activist. In 1955, he was awarded the International Lenin Prize for strengthening peace and friendship between nations. In 1961, Cardenas was elected chairman of the International Peace Council.

When he learned of the Mexican government's decision, Trotsky asked Lie to allow him to travel to Mexico via France, where he wanted to meet with his son and friends. Although a French transit visa did arrive, Lie forbade Trotsky to follow this route. In order to send Trotsky and his wife to Mexico, the Norwegian government chartered a tanker; preparations for sailing were completed in deep secrecy, out of fear that Stalinist agents might place explosives in it or carry out an attack at sea. Not ruling out his tragic death during the journey, Trotsky secretly sent his son a letter and testament. He also managed to send

{p. 132} to Paris an article, "Shame," written in invisible ink and addressing the Trial of the Sixteen. In publishing this article, the editors of the Bulletin of the Opposition indicated that they had been forced to omit several words which they had not been able to decipher in the text which had been received. The article ended with the words: "A final response to the accusers and their lackeys. ... I will give in Mexico, if I arrive there. ... I do not know if this letter will reach you. In any case, I cast this 'bottle' into the sea."4

A few months after arriving in Mexico, Trotsky wrote: "I left a Europe torn by horrific contradictions and shaken by the foreboding of a new war. This general anxiety explains the origin of the innumerable panic-stricken and false rumors which are circulated about many subjects, including myself. My enemies are skillfully using this atmosphere of general disquiet against me. They will undoubtedly continue their efforts in the New World as well. On this account I am not creating any illusions for myself."5

During his trip, Trotsky entered into his diary preparatory notes for the counterinvestigation of the Trial of the Sixteen. In Mexico he supplemented these with commentaries on the second show trial. This material made up the book The Crimes of Stalin, which was published in 1937 in the main languages of Europe except Russian (it was first printed in Russian only in 1994). "This book," wrote Trotsky, "will make it easier, I hope, for wide circles of readers to understand where it is they must look for criminals, on the benches of the accused or on the benches of the accusers."6

Viewing the Moscow Trials as the logical conclusion of many years' struggle of the Stalinist clique with "Trotskyism," Trotsky noted, "in the West, people do not have even an approximate idea of the quantity of literature which was published in the USSR over the last thirteen years against the Left Opposition in general, and the author of these lines in particular. Tens of thousands of newspaper articles in tens of millions of copies, stenographic reports of innumerable indictment speeches, popular pamphlets in runs of millions, thick books have distributed and continue to this day to distribute the most despicable lies which can be prepared by thousands of hired writers lacking conscience, ideas and imagination."7

These lies, as Trotsky emphasized, changed their coloration depending on Stalin's various foreign policy maneuverings. In 1933, the entire Soviet and Comintern press wrote that Trotsky had arrived in France with the goal of helping Daladier and Blum organize a military campaign against the USSR.

{p. 133} After Blum and Daladier became heads of the Popular Front government, supported by the Comintern and Soviet diplomacy, the same press with an even greater frenzy began to accuse Trotsky of collaborating with Hitler and trying to break up the Popular Front in France. Apropos of such shifts Trotsky wrote: "The times change and the GPU forgeries change along with them."8

As he unmasked the political meaning of these changes, Trotsky noted: "During the period when I, according to the latest retrospective version, was engaged in organizing collaboration with Hitler, the press of Moscow and the Comintern depicted me as an agent of France and Anglo-Saxon imperialism. I was transferred to the German-Japanese camp only after Hitler refused Stalin's extended hand and forced him, despite his initial plans and calculations, to seek the friendship of the 'Western democracies: The charges against me were and remain only a negative supplement to the diplomatic reversals of Moscow."9

On 9 January 1937, Trotsky arrived in Mexico City. From there he was accompanied by his supporters as they headed for the villa of Diego Rivera, from whom he had received an invitation. Rivera was not only a world-famous artist, but one of the founders of the Mexican Communist Party, and a member of its Central Committee in the 1920s. In 1927 he visited Moscow, where he became a witness to the first reprisals against the Left Opposition. Under the influence of these events, Rivera left the party and severed his friendship with

{p. 134} another outstanding Mexican artist, David Siquieros, who had turned into a fervent Stalinist.

One of Rivera's best works was a panel of frescoes created for Rockefeller Center in New York. This work, to the horror of bourgeois America, turned out to be dedicated to the themes of class struggle and proletarian revolution, in the center of the panel Rivera sketched the portraits of Lenin and Trotsky.

From the first days of Trotsky's presence in Mexico, the local Communist Party and the leadership of the Confederation of Mexican Trade Unions headed

{p. 135} by the Stalinist Lombardo Toledano raised a slander campaign hoping to achieve Trotsky's exile from the country, Stalin hoped that Trotsky, who was in a distant and unknown land, lacking his own press and means for conducting counterpropaganda, would not be in any position to effectively resist this massive campaign.

In the failure of the relentless provocations directed against Trotsky to achieve their goal, a decisive role was played by the firm position of Cardenas, who declared that Trotsky was a guest of the Mexican government. In a letter sent to Cardenas after Trotsky's death, N. I. Sedova wrote: "In Norway we lived under the constant threat of death, and almost none of the countries of the world were brave enough to accept us. The only exception was legendary Mexico and its courageous, independent and all-knowing people. You prolonged the life of Leon Trotsky by forty-three months."10

Immediately after coming to Mexico, Trotsky resumed his active political life. Whereas Stalin was trying to put him in a position of self-defense or retreat, Trotsky chose the tactic of going on the offensive, exposing not only the judicial frame-ups, but the entire Stalinist regime which had spawned these frame-ups. In his many articles he defended primarily not himself, but the cause of socialism, across which the crimes of the Stalinist clique had cast a dark shadow.

On 9 February 1937, a meeting organized by the American Committee for the Defense of Trotsky was attended by several thousand in New York. The organizers planned that Trotsky would personally read his speech over the telephone. However, at the last moment, the telephone connection between Mexico City and New York was broken (later it was discovered that this was deliberately done by a Stalinist telephone operator); therefore Trotsky's speech was read by a member of the meeting's presidium, Max Shachtman.

Trotsky's secretary, Sarah Weber, who was then in the United States, described the New York meeting in a letter to Trotsky: "Before midnight, the entire theater was overflowing with people (around seven thousand people) who were waiting for your speech. They waited anxiously, in an absolutely unbelievable silence. At 10:40, Shachtman proposed to begin reading your speech. 'No, no,' people shouted from al sides, 'we will wait, and again a strained silence, broken from time to time by announcements from the telephone company. No one left the hall. Only at 11:30 was Shachtman allowed to read your speech. The resolution to organize a commission of inquiry was carried almost

{p. 136} unanimously - only a few solitary voices hesitatingly said 'no.' Despite the sharp disappointment that we were not able to hear your voice (especially for those who know Russian), or establish a connection between the audience in New York and you in Mexico City, your speech had an astounding impact. The fact alone that the Stalinists (there were quite a few, and they came with the intention to act like hooligans) didn't dare to disrupt it and sat in the same strained silence as the rest of the audience is testimony of this."11

In his speech, Trotsky demanded the creation of an authoritative, open and impartial commission to investigate the charges made by the Moscow Trials. He declared his readiness to appear before this international commission with a variety of documents and testimony of his political activity. "If this commission finds," he said, "that I am guilty even to a minor degree of the crimes which Stalin has heaped upon me, I pledge beforehand to voluntarily place myself in the hands of the executioners from the GPU. ... But if the commission establishes that the Moscow Trials are a conscious and deliberate forgery, constructed of human nerves and bones, I will not demand of my accusers that they voluntarily place themselves before the gun. No, it will be enough for them to face eternal shame in the memory of human generations! Do the accusers in the Kremlin hear me? I hurl my challenge at their faces. And I await from them an answer!... We are not dealing here with personal trust. We are

{p. 137} dealing with verification! I propose verification! I demand verification!"12

In speaking about the absurdity of the charges made at the Moscow Trials, Trotsky emphasized that the crimes which implicated the defendants "make no sense from the standpoint of the accused, even if they do for the accusers. ... In no other regime would Piatakov and Radek be able to hope for a higher position than the ones which they occupied before their arrest."13 Trotsky called even wilder and more absurd the version presented at the trials, as if "the way to power in the USSR could pass through ... the Gestapo."14

In exposing the falsifications of the Moscow Trials, Trotsky stressed that they had painted a picture of a grandiose conspiracy which had drawn into its orbit a multitude of people. However, the accusers ignored the fact that over the course of the previous decade thousands of oppositionists had been arrested, exiled, driven to their deaths in prisons and concentration camps, and shot. During the innumerable arrests, searches, opening of letters, and so forth, the GPU should have been able to "assemble an enormous museum of material evidence. Meanwhile, at not one of the trials had a single genuine letter, a single document, or a single irreproachable piece of evidence been presented."15

Whereas one might stretch things by explaining this circumstance with references to the caution shown by professional revolutionaries, even more surprising is the fact that among the conspirators, according to the trial transcripts, over the course of many years there were no disagreements, failures, splits or denunciations. Only at the trials themselves was this unprecedented unanimity of "criminals" replaced by an equally striking unanimity of an opposite character: "the hour had come for general repentance," and "a new miracle unfolded. People who had been organizing murders, preparing war and dismembering the Soviet Union, these well-tempered criminals suddenly repented ... not under the weight of evidence, no, for there was not one piece of evidence, but for some kind of mystical reasons. ... Yesterday they were derailing trains and poisoning workers at the invisible command of Trotsky. Today they have come to hate Trotsky and are heaping on him their imaginary crimes. Yesterday they could only think about one thing - how to murder Stalin. Today they are all singing hymns of praise to him." Noting that Western "psychologists" explain these fantastic transformations by the infamously enigmatic character of the "Russian soul,' Trotsky angrily declared: "You are slandering, my dear sirs, the Russian soul. You are slandering the human soul in general."16

In the responses to the Moscow Trials which appeared abroad, Trotsky

{p. 138} saw two equally dangerous extremes. On the one hand, "the friends of the USSR" maintained "a conspiracy of silence" concerning the obvious judicial frameups - out of fear that their exposure might weaken the Soviet Union and thereby render a service to fascism. In this regard Trotsky pointed out that in actual fact the Stalinist bureaucracy, containing the "most repulsive traits of a totalitarian regime," was facilitating the strengthening of the positions held by fascism. 17 (Later, long before the signing of the "Molotov-Ribbentrop" Pact, Trotsky repeatedly warned that, by purging the party of all consistent bearers of the Bolshevik type of social consciousness, Stalin was preparing a shameful deal with Hitler).

On the other hand, the anticommunist press saw the Moscow Trials as the logical outcome of the October Revolution and the ideology of Bolshevism. In response to this view, Trotsky replied: "The Moscow Trials do not dishonor the revolution, for they are the offspring of reaction. The Moscow Trials do not dishonor the old generation of Bolsheviks; they only show that Bolsheviks, too, are made of flesh and blood and that they cannot hold out endlessly when the pendulum of death swings above them for years. The Moscow Trials dishonor the political regime which fostered them: the regime of Bonapartism that is lacking both honor and conscience."18

Trotsky clearly understood what long-term detriment was being done to the cause of socialism by the Stalinist crimes committed supposedly under a revolutionary banner: "We will not hand this banner to the masters of falsification. If our generation has proven to be too weak to establish socialism on this earth, we will give its unstained banner to our children. The struggle which looms ahead by far supersedes the significance of individual people, factions and parties. It is a struggle for the future of all humanity. It will be severe. It will be long. Whoever seeks physical repose and spiritual comfort - let him step aside. During times of reaction it is easier to lean on the bureaucracy than on the truth. But for all those for whom socialism is not an empty phrase but the content of their moral life - forward! Neither threats, nor persecution, nor violence will stop us. Perhaps it will be on our bones, but the truth will triumph. We are paving the way for it, and the truth will be victorious. Under the terrible blows of fate I will feel as happy as during the best days of my youth if I can join you in facilitating its victory. For, my friends, the highest human happiness lies not in the exploitation of the present, but in the preparation of the future."19


IN ANALYZING the reasons for the Moscow Trials, Trotsky swept aside any explanation which relied on purely personal motives. While agreeing that such motives always played an important role in Stalin's political psychology, he stressed that in organizing as grandiose an action as the Great Purges, Stalin was guided by serious political considerations in which one must distinguish between the individual and social aspects.

The individual aspect was connected most of all with Stalin's fear regarding the possibility of counterterrorist acts being organized against him. The memoirs of Admiral Isakov, in particular, show how much Stalin was seized by such fear. They tell how, soon after Kirov's assassination, Stalin was speaking to Isakov about the officers on duty who stood at every passage in the Kremlin and who, of course, had repeatedly been checked "by the organs": "Every time you walk along a corridor you think which one of them? If it is that one, then he will shoot you in the back, and if you turn the corner, then the next one will shoot you in the face."1

However, these considerations alone could not play the determining role in Stalin's organization of the monstrous auto-da-fe which produced millions of victims. Just as unconvincing was the version which explained the reprisals against the "Trotskyists" as well as Trotsky's continuation of the struggle by the personal hostility between Stalin and Trotsky. This version by the reactionary press of the 1930s has been reanimated in recent years by Russian "democrats." Thus Volkogonov, who measures the struggle of the Left Opposition against Stalinism by the yardstick of the unprincipled squabbles between Gorbachev and Yeltsin, endlessly repeats that Trotsky's "absolute rejection of Stalinism" was to be explained by his personal hatred for Stalin.2

However, Trotsky in 1937 provided rather convincing arguments which destroy this version. Feeling that it was superficial, ridiculous and absurd to reduce the struggle of the opposition against bureaucratic absolutism to the struggle for personal power between Stalin and Trotsky, he viewed this prob-

{p. 140} lem not from the side of Stalin, but from the side of Stalin's many opponents from the ranks of the Left Opposition. "Many tens of thousands of so-call 'Trotskyists,"' he wrote, "have been subjected to cruel persecution in the USSR over the last thirteen years; theyhave been torn from their families, their friend and from work, deprived of hearth and home, and not infrequently of their lives - can it really be that all of this was for the sake of a personal struggle between Trotsky and Stalin?"3

One of the main motives which prompted Stalin to organize the Moscow Trials was the desire to remove Trotsky from the political arena. If Stalin assumed the work of Cain with regard to Zinoviev, Kamenev and others, then it is not because their deaths were needed by him as such. ... For Stalin, the corpses of Zinoviev and Kamenev were primarily steps leading to Trotsky."4 A similar role was played by the main defendants of the second trial - Radek and Piatakov. Unlike the leaders of the Zinoviev opposition, who took a political back seat after 1927, they were brought closer to the echelons of power by Stalin. Piatakov and Radek "were faithful weapons in Stalin's hands; he valued them highly because they were more intelligent and more educated than all his closest collaborators. But he had no other prominent and famous ex-Trotskyists whom he could set in motion for a new show trial. He was forced to sacrifice Piatakov and Radek."5

A two-way connection existed between the reprisals against "ex-Trotskyists" and the task of politically discrediting Trotsky. "Stalin had to sacrifice tens of his former comrades in order to create the fantastic figure of the counterrevolutionary superconspirator Trotsky. And then he used this figure to launch reprisals against all his opponents."6 This "dialectic of falsification" grew out of Stalin's fear of the growing influence of Trotsky abroad and the growth of oppositional, "Trotskyist" moods in the USSR. In both instances, Stalin was guided not only b ypersonal hatred for "disarmed" and "undisarmed" members of the Left Opposition, who had dealt him no small number of shattering ideological blows in the past, but primarily by the interests of the class struggle, of the political struggle. The Great Terror and its necessary component - the show trials of former leaders of the opposition - had profound social and political causes.

The first and most important of these causes - and correspondingly the first and most important of Stalin's goals - flowed from the irreconcilable contradictions of social interests. These contradictions, which had torn through

{p. 141} all social life in the Soviet Union, were fostered by the creation of a new privieged layer, yearning for power, thirsting for good things in life, fearful of their positions, fearing the masses and mortally filled with hatred toward any opposition."7 This layer turned the regime of the Soviets into a bureaucratic tyranny. The result of the degeneration of the political regime was a change in the social structure of society and the regime, which came into contradiction wlth the goals of the October Revolution: "to establish a society without classes, i.e., without those who are privileged or destitute. Such a society has no need for state violence. The founders of the (Bolshevik) regime assumed that all social functions would be performed by means of the self-rule of citizens, without a professional bureaucracy rising above society."8 The real development of Soviet society, however, followed just the opposite course: the bureaucracy usurped the power of the people, concentrated in its hands the control over the country's entire wealth and established for itself privileges which grew from year to year.

Even in the first stages of this process the bureaucracy had encountered the resistance of the Left Opposition (in Stalinist terminology, of the "Trotskyists"), the sole political force in the land which possessed a program expressing the interest of the popular masses. As the Thermidorian degeneration of the regime proceeded, reality revealed to an ever greater degree the official lies and confirmed the correctness of the Opposition's criticism and program. This forced the bureaucracy, in order to preserve the reputation of its own innocence, to resort to ever sharper forms of struggle against the opposition. At first the oppositionists were removed from responsible positions and expelled from the party, then they began to be denied any work and were sent into exile. Ever more poisonous slander was circulated about them. "In all the articles of condemnation against 'Trotskyism' there never was a single honest citation, just as in all the trials against it there never was a single substantive piece of evidence."9

Gradually, Stalin's assistants in this struggle became the capitulators who had broken from the opposition and turned into professional false witnesses against the Opposition and themselves. In all the capitulators' declarations, beginning with 1929, Trotsky's name inevitably figured as the main enemy of the USSR; without this, repentance would have no force. At first people spoke of Trotsky's "deviations" in the direction of Social-Democracy; at the next stage, about the "objectively" counterrevolutionary consequences of his activity; then, about his alliance with the world bourgeoisie against the USSR. These slander

{p. 142} campaigns logically ended by ascribing to Trotsky a desire not only to split the party, but to break up the army, overthrow Soviet power and restore capitalism. In order to make these charges convincing in the eyes of Soviet people and world public opinion, prominent former oppositionists had to be brought to trial and turned into Trotsky's accusers. !.

Before these trials, the main method of rooting out "Trotskyism" was the party purge, during which the label of "Trotskyist' was placed not only on workers who were dissatisfied with the country s situation, but on all scientists and journalists who conscientiously cited historical facts and references contradicting the official lies. As a result, the intellectual atmosphere of the country became thoroughly permeated with the poison of deception, falsehood out-and-out ideological and historical falsifications. However, the falsification of the theory and history of Bolshevism, which assumed an ever more vulgar lcharacter, did not achieve its goal - discrediting Trotsky and "Trotskyism" the consciousness of the masses. "It was necessary to find a more massive justification for the bureaucratic repressions. Charges of a criminal character came to the assistance of the literary falsifications."10

{But was the earlier, "Trotskyist" USSR any better? Compare Bertrand Russell in 1920, after a visit to Russia: "Bolshevism is a close tyrannical bureaucracy, with a spy system more elaborate and terrible than the Tsar's, and an aristocracy as insolent and unfeeling, composed of Americanised Jews. No vestige of liberty remains, in thought or speech or action." russell.html}

Both the ideological and judicial frame-ups flowed necessarily from the position of the ruling caste, which was "false in its foundations. It is forced to conceal its privileges, lie to the people, and to camouflage with communist formulas such relations and activities which have nothing in common with communism. The bureaucratic apparatus does not allow anyone to call things by their real names. On the contrary, it demands from each and everyone the use of a conventional 'communist' language, which serves to mask the truth. Mandatory Iying permeates the entire official ideology. People think one thing but say and write another. Since the difference between word and deed grows without respite, then most sacred formulas must be reviewed virtually every year. ... Under the bureaucracy's knout, thousands of people carry out the systematic work of 'scientific' falsification. Any attempt at criticism or objection, the slightest note of dissonance, is seen as the most serious crime."

{And this is now occurring in the West, as "Political Correctness"}

As the reader can easily see, the situation described above characterizes the intellectual and ideological atmosphere of Soviet society not only during the period of Stalinism, but also in the following years - with two, however, substantial exceptions. First, after Stalin's death, the measures of punishment for dissident thought were significantly softened. Second, the Oppositional moods in the post-Stalinist period (the further along, the greater this became)

{p. 143} assumed a predominantly anticommunist character. In addition, the bearers of such moods did not possess a clearly formulated, cohesive program of rebuilding social relations. In contrast, during the 1930s, the traditions and ideals of the October Revolution were still alive in the masses. These unextinguished traditions threatened the very existence of the bureaucracy, which feared the masses who had shown their true force and capacity for action during the years of the revolution and Civil War.

{i.e., the masses remembered Trotsky as the true leader, and would flock to him if given the chance}

In a country where the lava of socialist revolution had not yet cooled, in order to reinforce the social, political and ideological relations created by Stalinism which were still highly unstable, it was necessary to physically exterminate the communist opposition. However the ruling caste, which had concealed its selfish social interests under the flag of Bolshevism, could not "punish the opposition for its actual ideas and deeds: the relentless repression fully intends to prevent the masses from learning the genuine program of 'Trotslyism,' which demands first of all greater equality and more freedom for the masses."12 The bureaucracy did not dare to inflict bloody repressions upon the heads of the dissatisfied and critical while accusing them of demanding the liquidation of its own power and its privileges. "To accuse the oppositionists of criticizing the autocracy of the bureaucracy would mean only to help the opposition. Nothing else remained but to charge it with crimes directed not against the privileges of the new aristocracy, but against the interests of the people. At each new stage these charges assumed an ever more monstrous character. Such was the general political atmosphere and social psychology which made possible the Moscow judicial phantasmagoria."13

Of course, in the 1930s there still remained oppositional elements in the Soviet Union whose inclinations bore an anti-communist character and who were prepared at the appropriate moment to wage a battle against Stalinism "from the right," even at the cost of collaborating with fascist interventionists. The continued existence of such elements was clearly seen during the years of World War II. But the thrust of the Great Terror was not directed against these potential participants in a "fifth column." However, in the struggle against his most dangerous political opponents from among the Bolshevik-Leninists, Stalin widely employed his favorite method - the political amalgam, which included identifying opponents "from the left" and "from the right,' attributing to the first the inclinations of the second. Here his political "methodology" closely bordered on the methodology of Hitler, who, with his characteristically boast-

{p. 144} ful cynicism, once blurted out one of the main "secrets" of his political strategy. "The genius of a great leader," declared Hitler, "also consists in depicting even widely differing opponents as always belonging to the same category, for the understanding of differences between enemies too easily becomes the starting point with weak and unstable characters for doubts about their own correctness."

Of course, with Stalin, who was forced to resort to political mimicry and therefore was much less sincere in his official declarations than Hitler, we will not find anything resembling these statements. However in his political practice, Stalin in actual fact armed himself with the principle formulated by Hitler, which, as Trotsky stressed, "is directly opposed to the principle of Marxist politics, as well as scientific thought in general, for the latter begins with separation, counterposition, and the discovery of not only basic differences, but even transitional shades. Marxism, in particular, has always been opposed to treating all political opponents as 'one reactionary mass."' At the ideological foundations of his terror, Stalin, however, used the methods not of Marxist, but of fascist, agitation. The difference between these methods, according to Trotsky, was the "difference between scientific education and demagogic hypnosis. The method of Stalinist politics, which has found its most refined expression in judicial frame-ups, completely coincides with Hitler's recipe, but in its scale leaves Hitler far behind. Everyone who does not bow down to the ruling Moscow clique is now presented as part of a general fascist mass.'"14

{Stalin worse than Hitler? That's not Hollywood's take, nor that of the Zionists}

Thus, Trotsky showed that Stalin's crimes were the only method of political struggle available to Stalin. The falsified charges against the Opposition, which reached their culmination at the sensational trials, served as a means of crushing the social protest which had accumulated among the people against growing inequality and the political disenfranchisement of the masses.

"When the Stalinists call us 'traitors,"' wrote Trotsky, "in this accusation one can detect not only hatred, but a peculiar sincerity. They feel that we have betrayed the interests of a sacred caste ... which alone is capable of 'building socialism,' but which in fact is compromising the very idea of socialism. We, on our part, feel that the Stalinists are traitors to the interests of the Soviet popular masses and of the world proletariat. It would be absurd to explain such a ferocious struggle by referring to personal motives. We are dealing not only with diferent programs, but also with different social interests which are coming into ever more hostile collision with each other."15

{p. 145} The main goal of the Moscow Trials was to create the conditions for politically discrediting and physically exterminating the entire communist opposition in order to behead the population, to deprive it for many years of a political avant-garde and therefore of the ability to resist the totalitarian regime. The class struggle in the USSR assumed, essentially, its sharpest form - civil war. This civil war, unlike the Civil War of 1918-1920, took the specific form of state terror directed at precluding any political activity by the masses. "In the masses without any doubt, the traditions of the October Revolution are alive," emphasized Trotsky. "Hostility toward the bureaucracy is growing. But the workers and peasants who even formally belong to the so-called party, have no channels or levers for influencing the politics of the country. The present trials, arrests, exiles, judicial and extra-judicial reprisals are a form of preventive civil war which the bureaucracy as a whole is waging against the workers."16

An important feature of this civil war was that, despite Stalin's intentions, it inevitably led to the growth in the numbers of his opponents within the country. As a result of the reprisals against clearly innocent people, the builders of the Bolshevik Party, there proved to be significantly more of such opponents than Stalin had assumed. The reprisals "could not help but send a shudder though the ranks of the bureaucracy itself." It was possible to overcome the centrifugal tendencies within the ruling stratum, which retained no small number of people who were subjectively devoted to communist ideals, only by destroying the basic core of this stratum. Therefore the Great Terror developed into a struggle which the "most consistent Bonapartist wing wages against the rest of the less hardened or less reliable of its groups."17

The scale of the preventive civil war unleashed by Stalin was determined by the strength of the ideas and traditions of the October Revolution, which preserved their vitality not only among the popular masses, but among the party apparatchiks, economists, military leaders, and so forth. What was needed in order to overcome this force, which had no precedent in history, was state terror which was just as unprecedented in its scale and cruelty. In turn, this terror proved to be possible and effective because it superficially acted not in its genuine counterrevolutionary form, but in a form of social mimicry, under the mask of defending the gains of the October Revolution. The Stalinist Bonapartist regime could persevere only with the help of repressions and falsifications which were inseparably linked to one another. These falsifications - philosophical, historical, political and literary - "the inevitable ideological su-

{p. 146} perstructure above the material foundations consisting of the usurpation of state power by the new aristocracy and the exploitation of the revolution's gains by it,"18 necessarily were supposed to be crowned with historically unprecedented judicial frame-ups. A secondary goal of these frame-ups was the desire of the ruling clique and the more lowly and inferior portion of the bureaucracy standing behind it to "heap their economic failures, miscalculations, disproportions, misappropriations and other abuses on ... the Trotskyists, who were now playing in the USSR the exact same role which the Jews and Communists were playing in Germany."19

{endnote 19, on p. 506, reads: 19. Biulleten' oppozitsii, no. 54-55(1937), p. 17.}

One more important goal of the Moscow Trials was related to foreign policy, The Stalinist clique needed to have millions of people throughout the world identify the Soviet Union with themselves. "The moral authority of the leaders of the bureaucracy and most of all, of Stalin, rests upon, to a significant degree, a Babylonian tower of slander and falsification. ... This Babylonian tower, which frightens its own architects, is maintained ... outside the USSR - with the assistance of a gigantic apparatus, which uses the resources of the Soviet workers and peasants to poison world public opnion with the microbes of Iying, falsification and blackmail." This apparatus of the Comintern, which was throughly demoralized, could enjoy influence among the masses only as long as the latter identified it with the revolutionary workers' movement. The obvious bankruptcy of the Comintern, whose strategy revealed its impotence during every revolutionary crisis, created a space for the new International. "If Stalin is terrified by the tiny Bulletin of the Opposition and shoots those who receive it in the USSR, then it is not difficult to understand how desperately the bureaucracy fears that news of the self-sacrificing work of the Fourth International will penetrate into the USSR. ... That is why for Stalin a question of life or death is to kill the Fourth International in embryo!"20

{p. 147} 18. A TYRANT'S REVENGE

IN RESPONSE TO Trotsky's exposes, Stalin resorted to ever newer slander, the public avowal of which became the duty of every Soviet citizen. The higher the post occupied by a given bureaucrat, the greater the demands placed upon him when it came to initiative and independence in the selection of the most abusive expressions and epithets. N. V. Krylenko, the People's Commissar of Justice, was able to outdo many of his colleagues in these endeavors. His particular zeal can be explained by the fear which arose from his personal "ties": his sister not only lived abroad, but was married to a famous American "Trotskyist," Max Eastman.

In an article, "Enemy of the People - Trotsky," Krylenko seemed to be trying to surpass Vyshinsky in his declamations. He wrote: "Trotsky will go down in history as the monstrous combination in one person of the entire sum of crimes known by the criminal code and which can be created by the human conception of 'the criminal,' for in actual fact, he has concentrated m his affairs the most severe and ignoble of all the crimes which have been dlscovered in the history of human relations."1

Besides the low-grade slander circulated by his satraps, Stalin had still another means of wreaking vengeance on Trotsky - reprisals against his relatives who remained in the USSR.

As far back as 1926, after Trotsky had declared at a session of the Politburo that Stalin had finally handed in his application to play the role of gravedigger of the party and the revolution, Piatakov, who was then his cothinker, said to him: "He will never forgive you for this, neither you, nor your children, nor your grandchildren"2 This prognosis was fully realized in the years of the Great Terror. At this time, Trotsky's first wife, A. L. Sokolovskaya, remained in the Soviet Union, as did his two sons-in-law, who were among the most unbending Trotskyists. Both of them were in exile in 1923 and in the middle of the 1930s were transferred to concentration camps; soon they became victims of the first round of executions in the camps. We will tell of Sokolovskaya's fate in Chapter 44.


AFTER THE NEWS about the second arrest of her son, which left no doubt about his further fate, N. I. Sedova sent a statement to the press, 'To the Conscience of the World," in which she despairingly wrote about Sergei's innocence and honesty. "Did anyone speak out in his defense?" she later recalled. "Besides our friends, no one. ... Lev Davidovich was crushed by this announcement. "Perhaps my death would have been able to save Sergei," he told me, and at times I felt that he was sorry that he was still alive.

Deeply shaken by the fate of his younger son, Trotsky turned attention to one, seemingly insignificant, aspect of his "case," in which he saw an expression of one of the peculiarities of the Great Purge.

"Since the day they were born, my sons have carried the name of their mother (Sedova)," wrote Trotsky. "They never went by any other name - neither at school, nor at the university, nor in their subsequent activity. As for me, for thirty-four years I have borne the name of Trotsky. Throughout the Soviet period, no one ever called me by the name of my father (Bronstein), just as no one called Stalin Dzhugashvili. ... After, however, my son Sergei Sedov was brought to court on absolutely incredible charges of preparing the annihilation of workers, the GPU announced to the Soviet and foreign press that the 'real'(!) name of my son was not Sedov, but Bronstein. If these counterfeiters had wanted to emphasize the ties of the accused to me, they would have indicated the name Trotsky, for politically the name Bronstein means nothing to anyone. But they needed something else, namely to stress my Jewish origin and the half-Jewish origin of my son. ... If such devices are used at the highest levels, where Stalin's personal responsibility is beyond any doubt, then it is not difficult to imagine what is being done on lower levels, in the factories and especially in the collective farms."2

Trotsky also saw an obvious anti-Semitic orientation in the Moscow Trials, at whlch a disproportionately high number of the defendants were Jewish. At the first show trial, ten (out of sixteen) of the defendants were Jews, at the

{p. 155} second eight (out of seventeen). Trotsky felt that it was particularly monstrous that, of the terrorists supposedly sent by him into the USSR, who were simultaneously working for the Gestapo, all, as if by selection, turned out to be Jews. In all this, Trotsky saw an attempt by Stalin to exploit the anti-Semitic moods that still existed in the country in the struggle against the Opposition.

These statements by Trotsky were met with indignation abroad not only by pro-Stalinists, but also by bourgeois-liberal Jewish circles. Thus the famous Arnerican Zionist activist, Stephen Wise, explained his refusal to participate in the commission to investigate the Moscow Trials by the fact that Trotsky was not acting in good faith by raising the Jewish issue in connection with these trials. If his other charges, declared Wise, "are as unsubstantiated as his complaint on the score of anti-Semitism, then he has no case at all."

Rejecting Trotsky's statements about the continued existence of anti-Semitism in the USSR, B. Z. Goldberg, a journalist who had contributed to the New York newspaper, Der Tog, wrote: "In order to beat Stalin, Trotsky considers it right to make Soviet Russia anti-Semitic. ... Is this the truth, Mr. Trotsky? Is it honest to write this when it is not true? ... We are accustomed to look to the Soviet Union as our sole consolation as far as anti-Semitism is concerned. ... It is therefore unforgivable that Trotsky should raise such groundless accusations against Stalin."3

Goldberg's subsequent political fate is noteworthy. At the beginning of 1941, a group of colleagues at Der Tog, tried to drive him from the editorial board "for ties with the Comintern and the GPU." During the war years, Goldberg visited the Soviet Union several times, where he was received by Kalinin and Manuilsky. In 1949, the Justice Department in the USA proposed that he register as a foreign agent. In the same year, the MGB "included" Goldberg in the case of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, the leaders of which he had often met during the 1940s. One of the main charges made against the members of this committee was the charge that they passed Goldberg espionage information for the CIA.

For many years, accusations that Stalin was anti-Semitic were refuted not only by foreign Jewish circles, but by members of the Russian emigration. The Israeli historian Nedava reports that even in 1952, that is at the culmination of state anti-Semitism in the USSR, Kerensky told him that in the Soviet Union anti-Semitism had long since been eradicated, and that statements about the existence of anti-Semitism there were invented by supporters of the cold war.4

{p. 156} Similar sentiments were shared by many members of the Western intelligentsia, who accepted on faith Stalin's statement made in 1931 in reply to the question from the Jewish Telegraph Agency, Iocated in the US, about the situation of Jews in the USSR. Here Stalin did not hesitate to use the strongest words with regard to anti-Semitism. "National and race chauvinism," he asserted, "is a vestige of misanthropic morals, characteristic of the period of cannibbalism. Anti-Semitism, as an extreme form of race chauvinism, is the most dangerous vestige of cannibalism." Stalin declared that in the USSR, all anti-Semitism is legally prosecuted in the most severe manner, as a phenomenon deeply hostile to Soviet society. Active anti-Semites are punished according to the laws of the USSR with capital punishment."5

It can hardly be considered accidental that Stalin first published this intervlew in the Soviet Union on 30 November 1936, i.e., in the interval between the first two Moscow Trials. Whereas the publication of the Jewish Telegraph Agency at the beginning of the 1930s might have remained unnoticed by many Western intellectuals, now the publication of such a responsible declaration in the pages of Pravda created a solid reputation for Stalin as "an irreconcilable and sworn enemy of anti-Semitism."6

Having accepted this statement by Stalin on faith (much like, it must be said, others of his demagogic statements), many Western intellectuals considered Trotsky's comment about the anti-Semitic aspect of the Moscow Trials to be an invention dictated by his personal hatred for Stalin. Several of them turned to Trotsky with questions, the sense of which can be formulated in the following words: "How is it possible to charge the Soviet Union with anti-Semitism? If the USSR is an anti-Semitic nation, then what else is left?" Such objections and bewilderment, Trotsky stressed, "come from people who have become accustomed to counterposing to fascist anti-Semitism the emancipation of the Jews brought about by the October Revolution. Now it seems to them that the lifebelt is being wrenched from their hands."7

Trotsky directed attention to the fact that in the 1930s, "broad circles of the Jewish intelligentsia ... turned in the direction of the Comintern not out of interest in Marxism and Communism, but in search of support against the aggressive anti-Semitism" which had become state policy in Germany.8 It is natural that in this milieu any comment about Stalin's anti-Semitism would be perceived to be virtually blasphemous.

Trotsky thought it so important to explain the question of anti-Semitism

{p. 157} in the USSR that he devoted a special article to it, "Thermidor and Anti-Semitism". Here he first of all recalled how widely anti-Semitism had been read in tsarist Russia, which was renowned not only for periodic Jewish pogroms, but for the existence of a great number of Black Hundreds' publications, which were printed in enormous press runs for that time. Although the October Revolution liquidated the Jews' lack of rights, this by no means meant that with one blow it had eliminated anti-Semitism. "Legislative acts alone still do not change people," Trotsky wrote. "Their ideas, feelings and views depend on traditions, the material conditions of life, the cultural level, and so forth. The Soviet regime is not yet twenty years old. The elder half of the population was raised under tsarism. The younger half has learned very much from the elder. These general historical conditions alone should force a thinking person to understand that, despite the exemplary legislation of the October Revolution, in the backward masses, nationalistic and chauvinistic prejudices, and anti-Semitism in particular, might still retain great force."9

However, Trotsky felt that it was inadequate to explain the vitality of anti-Semitic moods in the Soviet Union as simply the vestiges of the past. He directed attention to new social factors which had arisen during Soviet power and which were creating the soil for the rebirth of anti-Semitism. Soviet Jews belonged primarily to the urban population and composed a very significant portion of it in the Ukraine, in Belorussia and in a greater part of the territory of Russia. The bureaucratic regime which had been established in the USSR "needs a greater number of functionaries than in any other regime in the world. Functionaries are recruited from the more cultured urban population. It is natural that Jews occupy a disproportionately large place in the milieu of the bureaucracy. One may, of course, close one's eyes to this fact and limit oneself to general phrases about equality and brotherhood. But the politics of the ostrich will not move us one step forward."

Under conditions of poverty and a low level of culture for the majority of the population, Trotsky continued, perceptions of social antagonisms are easily sublimated into moods of national ill-will and hostility. "Hatred of the peasants and workers toward the bureaucracy is a basic fact of Soviet life. ... Even a priori it is impossible to assume that hatred toward the bureaucracy has not taken anti-Semitic overtones, at least where Jewish functionaries comprise a Significant percentage of the population."10

Trotsky noted that in awakening anti-Semitic prejudices, a certain part of

{p. 158} the guilt lay on the functionaries themselves and the intellectuals from the Jewish milieu. In this regard, he recalled his speech at the republican party congress of the Ukraine in 1923, where he declared that every functionary should be able to speak and write in the language of the surrounding native population. This demand, flowing directly from the principles of Bolshevik national policy, was met with indignation and irony by a definite part of the Jewish intelligentsia which spoke and wrote in Russian and had no desire to study the Ukrainian language.

These sociological factors were joined by the stirring up of anti-Semitic moods by Stalin's policy, which was dictated by the desire of the bureacracy to escape from social isolation. Along with creating around the bureaucracy a relatively wide layer of new aristocrats with the help of economic and political measures (the Stakhanovites' inordinately high pay, not proportionate to the results of their labor, the introduction of ranks, medals, and so forth) and with pseudo-socialistic demagogy ("socialism has already been built," "Stalin will give, gives and has given the people a happy life"), this policy included an adaptation to the nationalistic feelings of the backward layers of the populatlion. The Ukrainian functionary, if he is a native Ukrainian, inevitably tries at every crltical moment to stress that he is the brother to the muzhik and peasant and not some kind of outsider, and in any case, not a Jew. In devices of this kind, there of course - alas! - is not a trace of 'socialism,' nor even of element democratism. But the point is that the privileged bureaucracy, which fears for its privileges and therefore is thoroughly demoralized, is now the most antisocialistic and most antidemocratic layer in Soviet society. In this struggle for self-preservation, it exploits the most hardened prejudices and most backward Instincts."

Trotsky gave no small number of examples of how widely anti-Semitic methods were used in the struggle against the legal Opposition of the 1920s. A result of this campaign was the strengthening of corresponding moods in society at large. Confirmation is provided by facts made public at a seminar on anti-Semitism which was led in 1928 by Yuri Larin. Here the worker-propagandlsts who had gathered from all corners of the nation cited typical questions asked at various meetings. In a number of these questions which reflected on formulations of anti-Semitism ("Why do Jews always manage to get good positions?", "Why don't Jews want to do heavy labor? ", "Won't the Jews betray if there is a war?", and so forth), an important place too

{p. 159} was occupied by new questions of the type: "Why was the party opposition made up of 76 percent Jews?"12 It is understandable that this fantastic percentage was suggested by official agitators.

The Moscow Trials provoked a new outburst of anti-Semitism. As an indication of this fact Trotsky pointed out that in an article on the Trial of the Sixteen, TASS published, in addition to the political pseudonyms of the main defendants, by which they were known to the masses, their "real" names (much as was later done with regard to Sergei Sedov). "The names of Zinoviev and Kanenev are much more famous, it would seem, than the names Radomyslsky and Rosenfeld," Trotsky wrote. What other motive could Stalin have in introducing the 'real' names of his victims than playing on anti-Semitic mood?"13

The most inveterate enemies of Bolshevism detected with great sensitivity the anti-Semitic aspect of the Moscow Trials, as well as the Great Purge in general. In his memoirs, the writer Lev Razgon tells about conversations in Butyrki Prison with a certain Roshakovsky, a prominent Russian aristocrat who had been on friendly terms with Nikolai ll. At the beginning of the 1930s, at his own request, Roshakovsky was allowed to return from emigration to the Soviet Union, where he was received with honor, showered with privileges and even metby Stalin and Voroshilov. Arrested in 1937, he nevertheless told his cellmates that he felt happy when he saw the prisons "filled with communists - these Cominternists, Jews, and political intriguers who understood absolutely nothing about what was happening to them." Roshakovsky assured them that the anti-Bolshevik genocide being carried out by Stalin, inseparably intertwined with the persecution of "outsiders," foretold of the "establishment of a great Russian state with its great national tasks." In this state, Roshakovsky declared, we would see the rebirth of "state anti-Semitism. And once again there be a percentage quota at the universities, once again they would stop accepting Jews into the Department of Foreign Affairs, into the police, into the gendarmerie; they would exclude them from the governmental elite. ... In civIized Germany the little-cultured and little-civilized Hitler had come to power by saying: 'Germany - for the Germans!'... Here they will announce the slogan 'Russia - for the Russians!' Inevitably, unavoidably! And everyone will follow this slogan for whom the Jews are competitors! It will be adopted by bureaucrats, professors, journalists and writers"14

At the time, such a prognosis might have appeared to be absolutely outlandish to the overwhelming majority of his contemporaries, but not to Trotsky,

{p. 160} who wrote that "in history there has never been an example where the reaction after a revolutionary upsurge was not accompanied by unbridled chauvinistic passions, including anti-Semitism."15 Confirmation of this emerged in the results of the Great Purge, in which the proportion of Jews (as well as other "outsiders" - Finns, Estonians, Latvians, Poles) by far exceeded their proportion in the nation's population. After 1938, only a few people of Jewish nationality appeared in leading posts in the state and economic apparatus or in the army. The party apparatus.,which actually ruled the land, was, practically speaking, completely "cleansed" of Jews. It is not known whether there were secret instructions given on this account, but it remains a fact that among the apparatchiks - "the recruits of 1937," who replaced the previous Bolshevik generation - there were almost no Jews. In Stalin's closest surroundings, there were only two Jews (Kaganovich and Mekhlis), who had committed anti-Semitic operations with no less zeal than other crimes committed by the Stalinist clique. In her memoirs, S. Allilueva attributes her father's anti-Semitism to his struggle against Trotsky and the Left Opposition in general. In her opinion, in the course of this struggle the anti-Semitism propagated by Stalin was reborn "on a new foundation" and subsequently became an aggressive, official ideology, "spreading far and wide with the speed of the plague."16

Nevertheless, even today false conceptions survive which suggest that anti-Semitism on a state level and in everyday life was reborn in the USSR only during the second half of the 1940s. Both the facts cited above and Trotsky's arguments fully refute this version. If Stalin's policy had not facilitated the renimation of anti-Semitic moods in the pre-war years, a strong outburst of anti-Semitism could hardly have broken out during the war years. Unlike the occupied countries of Western and Central Europe, where Hitler's forces transported Jews into the concentration camps while hiding the plans for their destruction, in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union the extermination of the Jews was carried out openly, with assistance from Hitler's supporters from among the local population. During the same years, on Soviet territory, there could be seen the return of everyday anti-Semitism, and in the circulars of the Central Committee of the VKP(b) there is mention of the "excessive" proportion of Jews in the spheres of science, culture, and so forth.

R. B. Lert, one of the few participants in the dissident movement of the 1960s-1980s who spoke out against the existing regime from communist positions, wrote the following: "Anti-Semitism began to creep into our state and

{p. 161} party policy at first unnoticed - before the war; it developed during the war and came into full bloom at the end of the 1940s and the beginning of the 1950s."17 But even then anti-Semitism was elevated to the position of government policy not openly, as had occurred in Hitler's Germany, but under the guise of false slogans about the struggle against cosmopolitanism, Zionism and so forth. This policy, which during Stalin's lifetime had taken fanatical and terroristic forms (the case of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, the case of the "doctor-killers," etc.), after his death was maintained in the form of cadre limitations, limitations on accepting Jews in the universities, etc. Practical measures of this type were accompanied by ideological outbursts from fervent anti-Semites in which the name of Trotsky played far from the least role. Thus, in the novella by Shevtsov, "In the Name of the Father and Son," which came out at the beginning of the 1970s, there are attacks against Trotsky as "an agent of world Zionism," written with the drool of a mad dog.

Of course, Shevtsov had to subordinate himself to the laws of Stalinist mimicry by masking his anti-Semitism with ideological labels. For the sake of such mimicry he placed his most intimate thoughts in the mouth of one of the novella's characters - Gertsovich, a ew who is presented as an Old Bolshevik, imprisoned, no less, during the years of Stalinism. This device was supposed to lend credence to the author's assertions during his anti-Semitic lampoon, delivered by Gertsovich: "Zionism [unlike fascism - V. R.] follows another path, secretly, clandestinely, penetrating all the vital cells of the governments of the entire world, undermining from within all that is strong, healthy, and patriotic, taking people in hand, seizing all the main positions of the administrative, economic and intellectual life of this or that country. Both the fascists and the Zionists ferociously hate Marxism-Leninism and its ideology, particularly the ideas of internationalism, the brotherhood of peoples, with one difference: Zion had gladly sent its agents into the international communist and workers' movement. Sometimes these agents have managed to make it into the leadership of communist parties. And here before Gertsovich there would always arise the image of Judas-Trotsky (Bronstein), whom he considered one of the most typical agents of Zionism, provocateur No. 1." Feeling that he might be going too far here, Shevtsov made the reservation that such thoughts were "the personal point of view of Aaron Markovich, his personal outlook and conviction, which perhaps does not coincide with the theoretical research of philosophers and sociologists. 18

{p. 162} Later Shevtsov has Gertsovich praise Stalin because he "liberated" the Soviet Union from Trotsky. Declaring that Trotsky "longed to become dictator, counting on dealing with the communists with the arms of inexperien youths," Gertsovich added: "Trotsky left his cadres in the army And if Stalin had not spotted him - what would have happened? A nightmare worse than Hitlerism. I know. Let historians say whatever they want to say, but I know: it's a straight path between Zionism and Trotskyism. ... What do they agree on? On their desire to rule the world. ... Trotsky was a Zionist and his so-called party- is a direct branch of Zionism."19

Thus, the arguments of today's "Pamiat," the 'Barkashovists and other anti-Semitic cliques were already being expressed in the pages of the Soviet press twenty-five years ago. Arguments which are close to those in Shevtsov's novella have now even made it into the program of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, where it states that "bearers of petty-bourgeois ideology [inside the Bolshevik Party - V R.] viewed the country and national proper as 'booty' waiting to be divided up. At first their desires were cloaked by the false, Trotskyist interpretation of the international duty of Soviet Russia."

Ukrainian nationalists also made their contribution to stirring up hatred for Jews and for Trotsky. In 1963, the journal Dnipro published A. Dimarov's novel, Shliakhami zhittia [The Roads of Life]. One of its central characters was the head of the regional GPU, Solomon Liander, who "took Lev Trotsky as an 'example for himself; he followed him in all things, even in the smallest details of clothing, even in gestures. And insofar as Russia could carry on her shoulders only one Trotsky, Liander decided to be more modest and to be satisfied for the time being with the role of Trotsky on a regional scale [my emphasis - V. R.]." The author adds that Liander inherited "from his father Gersh, and - through his father from his grandfather Motele, and through his grandfather from his great-grandfather Chaim - a hatred for 'these damned khokhli [Ukrainians]."'2l It is noteworthy that the vigilant "communist" censors overlooked all these passages, which advocate national enmity, and arouse Ukrainians against the Jews.

Must one be surprised after all this that during the years of "perestroika" and "democratic reforms," anti-Semitic moods came to the surface, leading to the rebirth of openly Black Hundred organizations with their many publications and even their own armed detachments? Meanwhile, in the anti-Semitic agitation a prominent place was taken by myths about "the vicious Trotskyist

{p. 163} plans," which were at one with "the world strategy of Zionism." Not only in the publications of Russian fascists, but in the more "respectable" journals such as Nash sovremennik [Our Contemporary], Moskva [Moscow], and Molodaa gvardiia [Young Guard], a bowing before Stalin as a national leader of the Russian people is combined with frenzied attacks no longer against Trotsky alone, but against all Bolshevism, with claims that the October Revolution was a "Jewish revolution," and so forth. Thus the seeds which were sown by Stalin in the 1930s yielded abundant harvests in the following decades.

{p. 164} 20. WHY DID THEY CONFESS?

{p. 168} Of course, the very prison conditions and the inquisitional methods of the investigation could not fail to compel the majority of people to give false testimony. A certain parallel to the events of 1937 is provided by the events of the 1980s in Uzbekistan. At a time when the whole country was witnessing a wave of public exposures of the crimes committed a half century before, in this republic similar crimes were committed by two adventurists, Gdlian and Ivanov and by the investigative groups which they headed. Carefully sensing the new political atmosphere, they adroitly used the growing indignation of the people over the corruption, bribe-taking and embezzling which had drawn into its orbit tens and hundreds of thousands of people. In this regard, a peculiar "championship" belonged to Uzbekistan, where machinations with the records of cotton production allowed even "little people" from the State procurement offices, etc., to squeeze out millions of rubles to be shared with highly-placed bureaucrats who closed their eyes to such crimes. However, Gdlian and Ivanov were not satisfied with finding the actual criminals, they wanted to tarnish all Party and Soviet officials of the republic with accusations that they received or gave bribes; in turn they wanted to show that threads led to Moscow, to "prove" that bribes were given from the Uzbek leaders to members of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU, and to people who headed judicial bodies of the Soviet Union.

Gdlian and Ivanov built their system of "proof" - fully in the spirit of 1937 - only on the confessions of the accused which had been obtained by methods also following Yezhov's traditions, with the exclusion of direct physical torture which the investigators of the 1980s decided not to employ. Slander and self-slander were forced by threats of execution or of reprisals against the defendants' relatives (many of these relatives were actually arrested, and frequently whole families), by refusal to provide medical assistance, by sending in cellmates who had beaten people from whom the "necessary" confessions had not been obtained. Widely applying blackmail and intimidation, vulgarity and mockery toward defenseless people, the investigators often forced them (as well as genu-

{p. 169} ine criminals) to write confessions according to dictation or to insert there the "needed" names. Often the transcripts of the interrogations which the accused merely had to sign had been prepared beforehand. In exchange for giving false testimony the arrested were promised freedom and given assurances that they would escape any punishment.

After a careful reinvestigation of the Gdlian cases by a new investigatory group, after expert testimony and the review of the cases in court, fifteen party members arrested by Gdlian-Ivanov were declared innocent. They had all been held in prison from nine months to more than three years.

For their activity in Uzbekistan, Gdlian and Ivanov received promotions and monetary prizes. They spoke out in the press and at "democratic" meetings, and were elected to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. They organized an even bigger provocation before the Nineteenth All-Union Party Conference (in 1988), when they published a scandalous article in the journal, Ogonek, stating that among the delegates to the conference from the Uzbek SSR were "people who had compromised themselves in the field of bribe-taking." Only a year and a half after the article appeared did Ogonek list the names of the people, who, it later turned out, had not even been charged, and who had never been questioned.7

Returning to the events of the 1930s, let us name one more attempt at an explanation - the version of trial "rehearsals," at which the defendants supposedly denied the charges made against them, but then became convinced of the uselessness of the gesture, since the hall was filled exclusively with NKVD operatives. This version, which served as the basis for the poorly concocted film, "Enemy of the People Bukharin," which appeared during the years of "perestroika," has no foundation in fact. The defendants at the show trials couldn't help but see in the courtroom well-known political figures, journalists, writers, and so forth, as well as famous foreign diplomats and journalists. Thus, they could be certain that if they told the truth, it could not fail to penetrate the walls of the courtroom.

Finally, there is the version presented by A. Koestler, which was carefully developed in his novel, Darkness at Noon. According to this version, the defendants were guided by sophisms about the need to "help the party" with their "confessions." Such arguments fill the novel's often-cited "diary" which was kept before the trial by its main character, the Old Bolshevik Rubashov.

If the versions mentioned earlier were politically neutral, then Koestler's

{p. 170} version, developed with an artist's sophistication, was sharply tendentious. It proceeds from the existence of a whole "philosophy" which supposedly guided the behavior of the Old Bolsheviks. This "philosophy" was reduced by the author of Darkness at Noon to a fetishization of the party and a justification of the most monstrous acts on behalf of this fetish - ranging from unlimited self-degradation to the extermination of millions of innocent people.

The fact that Koestler was close to the communist movement in the 1930s and personally knew several of the defendants at the Moscow Trials facilitated the fact that this version enjoyed people's trust for decades in the West, and then in the USSR, where the book Darkness at Noon circulated in the 1960s. As George Orwell noted, in response to the question, "Why did they confess?", Koestler gave the implicit reply: "Because the revolution ruined them." This response was supposed to lead the reader to the conclusion that "the revolution by its very nature includes something negative. ... Any efforts to transform society by violent means end in the cellars of the GPU, and Lenin gives birth to Stalin or would himself have begun to resemble Stalin had he lived longer."8 These ideas were used as weapons by many authors who turned to the theme of the Great Terror - from Koestler and Solzhenitsyn to today's Russian "democrats."

Koestler's book played no small role in the exit of many people in the West from the communist movement and in the strengthening of anti-communist moods among the Soviet intelligentsia.

It is worth noting that all the anti-communist interpreters of the Moscow Trials avoided Trotsky's arguments about the reasons for the defendants' "confessions."

Before beginning an analysis of these arguments, let us note that at all the open trials there were two groups of defendants. One group consisted of accidental people who were chosen from among the thousands of arrested as the most pliable material for confessions. Among the reasons that prompted such defendants to give false confessions, Trotsky named blackmail by the investigators with regard to actual misdeeds they had committed of a criminal or semicriminalnature. "Themajorityofthoseshotinthelasttrial,"Trotskywrote, "were not political figures, but bureaucrats of an average or above average ranking. They had probably committed various mistakes, misdemeanors or perhaps even crimes. The GPU, however, demanded of them confessions to completely different crimes of an historical scale, and then - shot them. Not a single

{p. 171} bureaucrat will henceforth feel self-assured or calm. Stalin has dossiers on all somewhat noteworthy political and administrative figures. These dossiers contain records of each and every sin (imprudent dealings with public moneys, amorous adventures, suspicious personal ties, compromised relatives, and so forth). Local satraps keep similar records with regard to their subordinates. At any moment Stalin can bring down and crush any of his colleagues, not excluding members of the Politburo."9

Another group of defendants included famous political figures who played leading roles in the oppositions of the 1920s. The number of these people at the first two Moscow Trials was approximately fifteen. Trotsky studied in detail the reasons for the confessions of these defendants in articles dedicated to an analysis of the Moscow Trials.

In one of the first responses to the trials, Trotsky wrote that he did not know and therefore could not say with certainty whether the defendants had been subjected to physical torture or the use of chemical and medical substances which weaken one's willpower. But even without this hypothesis, one could explain why the defendants confessed to nonexistent crimes. For this it was important to first of all turn one's attention to the nature of those whom Stalin ordered to be brought to open trial. Alongside completely unknown people, including known provocateurs who had fallen into the clutches of the NKVD, the defendants' bench included people who had long since broken with the Opposition. "All these were capitulators, people who had recanted several times, who had accused themselves during testimony of the most ignoble actions and filthy intentions; people who had lost any political goal in these confessions, who had lost the meaning of life and any respect for themselves. ... For years these internally empty, demoralized, and overstrained ex-revolutionaries were suspended between life and death. Would one additionally need here any specific medications?"10

It was enough to know these people and the political atmosphere in the country in order to understand how they were led out of necessity to put the noose around their own necks. The humiliating public recantations which were extorted from them over many years, and which were by no means preceded by physical torture, prepared the "confessions" which were wrested from them at the trials. These recantations bore a "purely ritualistic, standardized characteL Their political goal was to teach each and every one to think, or at least to express themselves, in the same way. But precisely for this reason none of


IN DESCRIBING the atmosphere in Moscow in 1937, the legendary antifascist counterintelligence agent Leopold Trepper wrote the following:

The glow of October was being extinguished in the shadows of underground chambers. The revolution had degenerated into a system of terror and horror; the ideals of socialism were ridiculed in the name of a fossilized dogma which the executioners still had the effrontery to call Marxism. ... All those who did not rise up against the Stalinist machine are responsible, collectively responsible. I am no exception to this verdict.

But who did protest at that time? Who rose up to voice his outrage?

The Trotskyists can lay claim to this honor. Following the example of their leader, who was rewarded for his obstinacy with the end of an ice ax, they fought Stalinism to the death, and they were the only ones who did. By the time of the great purges, they could only shout their rebellion in the freezing wastelands where they had been dragged in order to be exterminated. In the camps, their conduct was admirable. But their voices were lost in the tundra.

Today, the Trotskyists have a right to accuse those who once howled along with the wolves. Let them not forget, however, that they had the enormous advantage over us of having a coherent political system capable of replacing Stalinism. They had something to cling to in the midst of their profound distress at seeing the revolution betrayed. They did not "confess," for they knew that their confession would serve neither the party nor socialism. I

After the first Moscow Trials, Trotsky wrote that all the Old Bolsheviks who had stood trial had capitulated in 1927-1929 and since then had repeatedly made public renunciations of the Opposition. "The GPU has been able to knead these people like dough. In the Soviet Union there are, however, genuine

{p. 375} Trotskyists: thousands of them are in prison or in exile. These people were not appropriate for the GPU amalgams. Therefore they were set aside. Now, however, after the trials and executions, they will all fall under the barrel of the ultimatum: either repent and 'confess,' or die. It is possible that some of them will falter under this hellish pressure and will be used for a new court spectacle."2

Today we know that many of the "undisarmed" Trotskyists were brought to Moscow in 1936 from their prisons and places of exile for reinvestigation, whereupon they endured monstrous tortures (this has been expressively told in A. Rybakov's novel, 1935 and Other Years). However not a single one of them agreed to give the testimony that was demanded, and not one of them was tried during the open show trials.

Even at the first stage of the Great Purge it became clear that, despite all the preceding slander campaigns and furious repression, a new, young generation of Trotskyists had grown up in the Soviet Union; their courage amazed even their executioners. In his memoirs Krivitsky introduces a story which had been told to him by Slutsky. "We belong to the generation which must perish. Stalin has said that the entire pre-revolutionary and war generation must be destroyed as a millstone around the neck of the revolution. But now they're shooting the young ones - seventeen and eighteen years of age - girls and boys who were born in the Soviet state and never knew anything else. ... And lots of them go to their deaths crying, 'Long live Trotsky!"'3

In his book Smolensk Under Soviet Rule, which is based on material from the Smolensk archive of the NKVD (the only archive of this kind which was seized and carried away by Hitler's forces, thereby ending up in the West after the war), the American historian Merle Fainsod introduces a number of examples of reprisals against genuine Trotskyists in the Smolensk area (then the Western area), where "Trotskyism" was less influential than in other regions.

In 1936 all Trotskyists who were in exile or in political prisons were transferred to concentration camps. The Old Bolshevik Z. N. Nemtsova recalls that on the steamship carrying prisoners to Vorkuta, she met an enormous group of Trotskyists. Here a fight broke out between Trotskyists and Stalinists who shared the same fate. In the course of the fighting, according to Nemtsova, "we called them fascists, and they called us the same:'4 In these mutual recriminations, the two sides were guided by fundamentally different considerations: the arrested Stalinists continued to believe that the Trotskyists were fascist

{p. 376} agents; the Trotskyists, however, were calling the Stalinist regime a fasci gime.

Nemtsova considers herself fortunate that in 1936 she was convic cording to the article KRD (counterrevolutionary activity), and not KRTD ( terrevolutionary Trotskyist activity). For those whose sentence contained letters "KRTD," life in the camps was much worse than for the others- tl were subjected to a particularly difflcult regimen. Many other memoiristg passed through Stalin's camps write about this too. Thus, Evgenia Ginzba called those who were convicted under article KRTD camp pariahs. They given the most difficult outdoor work, they were not allowed to work at t 'specialties: and sometimes on holidays they were locked in isolation ce

Even Solzhenitsyn, in listing the various lettered subdivisions of the ticles which were used by the Special Board for convictions, reluctantly nob when he comes to the article "KRTD": "This letter 'T' would later make the h of a prisoner in the camp much more difficult."6

The works of Varlam Shalamov describe in greater detail than anywlyl else the fate of those who bore the burden of this article. Shalamov himselfwe first arrested on 19 February 1929 in a trap that was set for workers in one the underground Trotskyist print shops. In his "Brief Biography," he writes thli members of the Left Opposition were those who "were the very first to try, 1 sacrificing their lives, to prevent that bloody deluge which went down in hi tory as the Stalin cult. The Oppositionists were the only people in Russia wh attempted to organize active resistance to this rhinoceros."7

In the novella, "The Glove, or KR-2," Shalamov proudly writes that he a representative of those people who opposed Stalin." In doing so, among ti Oppositionists, "no one ever felt that Stalin and the Soviet reime were onl and the same thing."8

After actively participating in the underground activity of the Oppositio in 1927-1929, Shalamov refused to give testimony at his interrogations and was sentenced by a Special Board to three years in the concentration camp81 He called this sentence "the first camp sentence given to Oppositionists ' '?

Shalamov was sent to the Vishersky division of the Solovki camps, whe he worked as the head of the economics department of the Bereznikovs chemical combine which had been built primarily by prison labor. At that time, the use of "politicals" in the camps not for physical labor but according to their specialty was a common occurrence. At a meeting of workers at the Vishersky

{p. 377} chemical plants, the prisoners were told that "the government is restructuring the work of the camps. From now on, the main goal will be education through Corrective labor. Any prisoner may demonstrate through his labor his right to be set free. Administrative posts, up to the very highest, can be assigned to

Of course the conditions in the camps differed from those in exile. Exiled Oppositionists conducted a lively correspondence, including the sending of news about recent opposition activity, and articles or declarations by opposition leaders and theoreticians. Such material also circulated between exiles and their comrades who were at liberty. Shalamov recalls that he himself conducted such correspondence for more than a year. Therefore his comrades did not immediately understand that a camp was not exile, where such letters might pass without great difficulty. They received my address and selected people who were supposed to send me everything, to write, maintain contact, and send the addresses of exiles for correspondence, but all this fell into the hands of the camp supervisors. To condemn me for such things would have been going too far - 1937 was still eight years away - but neither Stukov nor Ushakov (heads of the camp) wanted to keep such a dangerous person around."1l

Although, according to Shalamov, "in 1930 the Trotskyists were no longer anything new in the camps. And in 1931, even less so," their situation there was by no means as severe as it would be in five to seven years. In 1930, Shalamov met the Oppositionist Bliumenfeld in the camp; he had been convicted of participating in the activity of an underground Trotskyist center and was working as the head of the economic planning department of the Vishersky camps. "With regard to my case, Bliumenfeld gave the solemn assurance in the name of the underground of that time that, if 'we had known that even one Oppositionist had received the camps rather than exile or political prison, then we would have obtained your release. At that time our brothers were not being sent to the camps. You were the first.'

"'What kind of leaders are you,' I said, 'if you do not know where your people are?'

"Bliumenfeld was probably in contact through his own channels with people in Moscow, and it was not difficult to find out who I was."12

In the fall of 1930, Shalamov and Bliumenfeld submitted a statement to the government, not asking for amnesty, but protesting against the severe conditions for women in the camps.

{p. 378} In 1931 the camp supervisors received a directive from the deputy chairman of the OGPU which ordered the immediate release of all prisoners occupying administrative posts in the camp who had no additional penalties - and it ordered that all their rights be restored, including the right to live anywhere in the country. This was one of the camp "unloadings" which occurred at the beginning of the 1930s. As a result of this "unloading," Shalamov was freed before his sentence was up. In 1932 he returned to Moscow and worked there until 1937 as a writer and journalist, publishing many sketches and stories in the central newspapers and journals.

During these years Shalamov no longer participated in opposition activity. Having never been a member of the party, he had several chances to escape future arrests. However, at the insistence of his relatives, in 1936 he called attention to his oppositional past by writing an of ficial declaration renouncing "Trotskyism:' Recalling this event, Shalamov wrote that his family "at a difficult moment betrayed me lock, stock and barrel, although they knew all too well that by condemning me, by pushing me into a deep pit, they too would perish.''l3

On 12 January 1937, Shalamov was once again arrested in Moscow and sentenced according to article "KRTD" to five years in the Kolyma camps. A half year later, his wife was exiled to Central Asia.

At the beginning of his second sentence, Shalamov was still able to enjoy "Berzin's rules" in Kolyma. "When we came to the gold mine," he recalled, "people were still living the 'happy' life as before. Those who had just arrived were given a new winter outfit. ... The sick bay stood empty. Newcomers were not even interested in that establishment. ... The work was hard, but you could earn a lot - up to ten thousand rubles in the summer months. A bit less in the winteL In severe cold - more than fifty below zero - people didn't work. In the summer people would work ten hours with a shift change every ten days (in winter - four to six hours)." A medical review divided all the prisoners into four categories - healthy, not completely healthy, capable of light physical labor and invalid. The norms for the prisoners were established with their state of health being taken into account.14

In Kolyma Tales, Shalamov writes of the time when the head of the Dalstroi was the Old Bolshevik E. P. Berzin. At that time the accounting was practiced in such a way that "people with ten-year sentences could return after two or three years. The food was excellent, the clothing too. ... The pay for the prison-

{p, 379} ers was colossal, allowing them to help their families and return to the mainland after finishing their sentence as well-to-do people. ...

"The prisoners' cemeteries at that time were so few in number that one might think that Kolyma residents were immortal.

"These few years ... were 'the Golden Age of Kolyma:"15

After Berzin's arrest in the middle of 1937, everything in Kolyma changed dramatically for the worse, especially for "lettered convicts, who possessed the most dangerous letter 'T:" Their personal dossiers contained "special directives": "during time of imprisonment, deny all telegraph and postal contact, use only for heavy physical labor, and report on their behavior once every quarter:' These "special directives," Shalamov stressed, "were an order to kill, to not let them out alive. All those who fell under the 'special directives' knew that this piece of cigarette paper obligated all future bosses - from the convoy guard to the head of the camp administration - to persecute, inform on, and take measures; if any small-scale boss was not active in destroying those who possessed 'special directives,' then his comrades, his fellow workers would inform on this boss."

There is hardly any other book which is more insightful than Kolyma Tales in depicting the fate of the "letter convict," who was "hunted by the entire convoy of all the country's camps in the past, present and future - not a single boss in the world would want to show any weakness in destroying such an 'enemy of the people:"

One of the most memorable heroes of Kolyma Tales is the oppositionist Krist, whose fate bears an undeniable resemblance to the fate of Shalamov himself. Receiving his first sentence as a nineteen-year-old, Krist "was put on active status in all the card files of the Soviet Union, and when the signal came for persecution, he left for Kolyma with the fatal brand of 'KRTD:" It was practically impossible to protect oneself against the fate which this article carried. "The letter 'T' in the article applied to Krist was a mark, a brand, and a sign according to which people persecuted Krist for many years, not releasing him from the icy gold mines in Kolyma's sixty-below cold. It meant killing him with heavy labor, with impossible camp labor ... killing him with beatings by the camp bosses, clubbings with prison guards' rifle butts, jabs by the barbers, and the elbows of his comrades:' An innumerable number of times Krist was forced to conclude that "no other article of the criminal code was as dangerous for the state as his article with the letter 'T: Neither betrayal of the Motherland, nor

{p. 380} terror, nor the entire terrifying bouquet of points under Article 58. Krist's four-letter article was the mark of an animal which must be killed, which had been ordered to be killed:'

Krist paid close attention to the fate of those few people who lived to see their release date, "despite having in their past the brand with the letter 'T' in their Moscow sentence, in their camp passport or prison record, and in their personal dossier:' He knew that even after the sentence had run out and they had been set free, "their entire future would be poisoned by this important information about their criminal status, their article, and the letters 'KRTD' These letters would block the path in any future that Krist had. They would block the road for the rest of his life in any part of the country, and at any job. This letter not only took away one's passport, but made it impossible to find work for all time, and did not allow one to leave Kolyma:'l6

The fate of those who bore this "letter" in the camps served as a serious touchstone for Solzhenitsyn, who underscored his own desire to avoid this theme in The Gulag Archipelago. "I am writing for the Russia that is mute," he declared, "and therefore will say little about the Trotskyists: they are all people of letters, and those who managed to survive most likely have already prepared detailed memoirs and will describe their dramatic epic more fully and more precisely than I would be able to do." The cynicism of this statement can be judged for what it is worth if we note what Solzhenitsyn knew perfectly well: from among the thousands of "undisarmed" "cadre" Trotskyists, only a few individuals had managed to survive. For this reason, among the hundreds of memoirs written by prisoners of Stalin's camps, those which belong to "Trotskyists" can literally be counted on one's fingers.

However Solzhenitsyn, who was pretending to create a virtual encyclopedia of Stalinist terror and who was well aware of the availability of certain information about the fate of Trotskyists abroad, nevertheless felt that it was necessary to write "something" about the Trotskyists "for the sake of the general picture." Never does this writer contradict himself more than on those few pages which he devotes to telling about the Trotskyists. Noting that "in any case, they were courageous people," he immediately supplements this indisputable statement with the traditional anticommunist "prognosis aided by hindsight": "I fear, by the way, that if they had come to power, they would have brought us a form of madness that would have been no better than Stalin's."

Another comment by Solzhenitsyn is just as devoid of any proof. Following

{p. 381} his account of the organizational activity and of the mutual assistance which Trotskyists displayed during the struggle against their jailers, Solzhenitsyn writes: "I get the impression (but do not insist upon it) that they were overly fussy [? - V. R.] in their political 'struggle' in camp conditions, which produced a shade of the tragicomic:' Having supplied this passage with reservations ("impression," "I do not insist upon it"), the writer proceeds to comment in a mocking tone about stories that have come to him about the behavior of Trotskyists in the camps (Solzhenitsyn was not able to meet with Trotskyists themselves, insofar as almost none of them remained in the camps by the mid-1940s - the overwhelming majority had been shot because of camp trials or had been worn out by the regimen established for them). Solzhenitsyn attaches particularly sarcastic comments to his account of acts of resistance by the Trotskyists: the singing of revolutionary songs as they parted, the reciting of anti-Stalinist poIitical slogans, the hanging of mourning flags on the tents and barracks on the twentieth anniversary of the October Revolution, and so forth. Since personally he had not encountered a single similar act of protest (after the destruction of the Trotskyists such collective actions in the camps no longer were carried out), Solzhenitsyn writes that, in his opinion, these actions contained a "mixture of something bordering on hysterical enthusiasm with a sterility that was becoming ridiculous." It is natural that, for a writer who described sympathetically in his "artistic investigation" the hopes of the prisoners for foreign intervention, and who considered such moods the expression of genuine opposition to the regime, the devotion of the arrested Trotskyists to Bolshevik symbols cannot help but seem "ridiculous" and "hysterical." However Solzhenitsyn was nevertheless forced to end his ironic tale about the Trotskyisl with the significant words: "No, they were true politicals. There were many them, and they sacrificed themselves.''17

Solzhenitsyn treats this theme much more objectively in his novel The First Circle, which was written in the years before the writer had made the final passage to positions of zoological anticommunism. Here, in the portrayal the character and fate of the Trotskyist Abramson, artistic truth clearly gets the upper hand over the political prejudices and predilections of the author. Let us recall that the majority of the inhabitants of the "sharashka" described in the novel were arrested in the "postwar levy," including those who had served in Hitler's forces. Among these people, who were thoroughly anticommunist in spirit, the only exceptions were the Stalinist Rubin and the Trotskyist Abramson.

{p. 382} The latter had not been "shot at the proper time, worn out at the proper time or trampled at the proper time," but miraculously had managed to survive: he alone survived among hundreds of his comrades and co-thinkers who perished. Whereas Rubin was constantly ridiculed for his views by the other prisoners, Abramson was never subjected to such derision. Moreover, Nerzhin, the main hero of the novel, in whom the reader can easily discern Solzhenitsyn himself, unintentionally feels Abramson's moral superiority, although the latter was not inclined to share his political views with him.

What is particularly attractive in the novel is the profound artistic insight into the ideological and spiritual world of Abramson, who was serving his third decade of imprisonment. Abramson felt that the wave of arrests to which Rubin and Nerzhin belonged "was gray, these were helpless victims of the war, but not people who had voluntarily chosen political struggle as a way of life. ... It seemed to Abramson that these people could not be compared with those giants who, like himself, at the end of the twenties freely chose Yenisei exile rather than renounce their own words that had been spoken at party meetings and remain in comfort - such a choice had been given to each of them. These people could not bear the distortion and defamation of the revolution, and were prepared to sacrifice themselves for its sake." It would be difficult to speak more honestly and accurately about the fate of "cadre" Trotskyists and about the way they differed from representatives of all the subsequent dissident currents in the USSR.

Despite everything he had endured, Abramson "preserved within himself, somewhere behind seven seals, not only a vivid but the most morbid interest in the fate of the world, and in the fate of that doctrine to which he had sacrificed his life." Since he did not find in his intellectual world anything in common with the views of the other inhabitants of the "sharashka," he felt that it was senseless to enter into political debates with them. He listened silently to their mocking arguments about Bolshevism and the October Revolution (such arguments, of course, could not help but make their way through the countless stool pigeons to the jailers, but they were punished with nowhere near the ruthlessness and frenzy as the slightest recurrence of "Trotskyist" ideas). Abramson refrained from participating in conversations on political themes because for him it was "just as impossible to reveal his deeply-held and often violated thoughts to the 'young' prisoners as to show them his naked wife.''l8 Let us pass from artistic examples to memoir accounts of the fate of

{p. 383} Trotskyists during the Great Terror. Here, interesting reminiscences are provided by the Old Bolshevik D. Baitalsky, who was in the Left Opposition. He tells about the progress of a group of prisoners, the majority of whom were Trotskyists, as they traveled from Karaganda to Vladivostok in 1936. They had their own council of seniors which in Kolyma merged with the senior councils of other Trotskyist prison convoys. Among the participants in this convoy were no small number of Bolsheviks with pre-revolutionary party service who had been prominent party leaders in the past. But most of them were "hot-head youths, inexperienced in political struggles, who considered themselves to the true fighters for Leninism." In the camp, all these "rock-hard Trotskyists ... instead of taking the line of passive submission in order to physically prese their lives ... pursued a course of resistance to Stalinism, of fighting against the powerful apparatus of the NKVD."

It was precisely into this milieu that the "organs" sent a particularly large number of provocateurs and informers. Baitalsky recalls how he met at a Kolyma gold mine with a certain Kniazhitsky, whom he had once given a recommadation to join the party. Kniazhitsky reported that during the years of the legal inner-party struggle he "had always voted for the line of the Central Commitee, but distributed Trotskyist literature in the underground." Having tracked him down, GPU agents used his presence on an official business trip abroad to threaten that "they would make a spy out of him." In exchange for avoid this disgrace, Kniazhitsky was given the chance to sign an agreement to follow the participants of the Trotskyist underground. Thus he became a secret agent and provocateur. At the beginning of the 1930s they arrested him and sent into exile so that there he would "throw light on the life of the Trotskyist colony." In May of 1936, this entire colony was sent to Kolyma camps, including Kniazhitsky and many other provocateurs. In recounting this shameful chapter of his life, Kniazhitsky said: "I hate the NKVD agents, and if Stalin fell into my clutches, I would strangle him with my own hands. But I am obligated to 'work,' to carry out my assignments and put people behind bars: I gave my signature.''19

In recent years, several excerpts have been published from the denunciations of informers which reveal the political moods among the Trotskyists at their places of imprisonment. Thus, at the beginning of 1936, an undercover agent among the prisoners informed the prison chief at one of the camps: "A group of Trotskyists located in barracks no. 8 is conducting systematic agit-

{p. 384} tion against the party, and in particular against Comrade Stalin. ... Martynov said: 'Our boys are working everywhere, they have only formally routed us Trotskyists, but in actual fact we are working; all that is needed is patience, and Trotskyists have plenty of that'. ... Stebiakov said: 'The leadership of Stalin is a leadership of violence, and such a system of corrections will lead to nothing positive, but, on the contrary, people are made even angrier - not against the regime, but against its leaders.' Martynov replied to this: 'We need not only to talk, but to act. We need new forms and methods of work'. ... In a discussion Martynov declared: 'The fact is that neither Trotsky, nor I, nor a number of others will bow down to Stalin.'"

The Trotskyists expressed views of this type not only in private conversations between themselves. A report of surveillance against a Trotskyist convoy of prisoners being sent from Kazakhstan to the transfer camp of Vladivostok says that in Krasnoyarsk the prisoners yelled through the windows of the train cars, "Down with the counterrevolutionary Central Committee of the VKP(b), headed by Stalin!", and, "Comrade workers! Before you stand political prisoners of the Stalinist regime, Bolshevik-Leninist-Trotskyists who are being taken to Kolyma for physical extermination. The best part of the proletariat is languishing in Stalinist prisons. A gang of functionaries and bureaucrats, headed by Stalin, is sitting in the government."20

In Vladivostok, as their ship pulled into port, the Trotskyists unfurled a banner with the slogan: "Down with Stalin!" and began to shout: "They write that there are no political prisoners, but they are sending political prisoners in bunches into the camps. Workers! Look - before you are Communists-Bolsheviks-Leninists, surrounded by a convoy of fascism."21

On the steamship traveling to Kolyma, in working out the demands to be sent to the Central Executive Committee and the Comintern, the Trotskyist Poliakov said: "Gather your strength for the difficult struggle that lies ahead. Some of us will retreat before the difficulties, they will be bought by easing their living conditions, but we must prepare for great tribulations, and perhaps even death."22

In her memoirs, N. Gagen-Torn tells about those in the camps who preserved "some kind of hope which gave them the strength to live, without being broken." Most of all she includes among them the "'unrepentant Leninists,' as they called themselves," whom she met in the camps. The views of these people, who did not hide their membership in the Opposition, amounted to the following:

{p. 385} "1. (The demand) to publish Lenin's dying letter which Stalin had concealed, thereby violating party democracy.

"2 Stalin had turned the dictatorship of the proletariat into the dictatorship over the proletariat, and then launched an impermissible terror.

"3. Collectivization, which had been introduced in a violent way, with the enslavement of the peasantry, was not bringing socialism any closer, but adding to the hypertrophy of the state.

"4. The tactics of the party headed by Stalin were discrediting the idea of Communism.

"Only the sacrificial blood of communists who were fighting against the Stalinist line could save this idea. They accepted the challenge. From exile on the way to Kolyma, about one hundred of them were herded through Vladivostok. They walked along and sang: 'You fell victim in the fatal struggle, dying with unbounded love for the people.' The guards beat them with rlfle butts, but the singing continued. They were driven into the hold of the ship, but even from there the singing could be heard. In Kolyma they declared a hunger strike, demanding a political regimen: correspondence, permission to read, separation from common criminals. On the fifteenth day, forced feeding began. They refused to give in. On the ninetieth day the administration promised to meet their demands. They called off the hunger strike. They were transferred to various camp locations; the camp bosses promised that they would find the conditions they had demanded. Then gradually they were once more taken to Magadan and put in a terrible prison - 'Vaska's house.' A new case was opened against them. They knew that they would be shot, but remained unbowed. These were courageous people. It is most likely that they all perished, but they preserved their faith in the necessity of fighting for communism as they understood it."23

As long as Berzin was the head of Dalstroi, and the head of the secret-political department [SPO] of the Magadan UNKVD was Mosevich (the former head of the SPO of the Leningrad UNKVD who was sentenced in the trial of the Leningrad Chekists), the Trotskyists managed to achieve the fulfillment of the demands they had made during the collective hunger strikes: the chance to work according to their specialty, permission for families to live together, etc. After the mass hunger strike of Trotskyists who were scattered among different gold mines, but who maintained contact with each other, agreement was reached with the Dalstroi administration about easing the camp conditions.

{p. 386} Small cells were built in the barracks, separated from each other by low walls made of planks; they were then assigned to the families of Trotskyists who had won the hunger strike. The strike, which had lasted for several months, was accompanied by the slogans: "Socialism cannot be built on the bones of the working class"; "Stalin is pumping our blood, the blood of Bolsheviks into the gold fields."24

One of the leaders of the underground committee which led the hunger strike was the long-time Oppositionist, the sixty-two-year-old Boris M. Eltsin who never signed any statements of capitulation.

Among the Kolyma Trotskyists was A. L. Sokolovskaya, Trotsky's first wife, who had passed through tsarist prisons and exile. By this time she had lost two daughters: the younger died from tuberculosis in 1928, and the older, who had gone abroad, committed suicide in 1933. "Despite all her simplicity and humanity," recalls N. A. Joffe about Sokolovskaya, "she struck me as a figure out of some ancient Greek tragedy:'25

In her memoirs, Gagen-Torn describes Sokolovskaya's subsequent fate. In an Irkutsk transfer prison, she met "a woman with an intelligent and sorrowful ewish face," who was being sent from Kolyma to Moscow. The first conversation they had unfolded in the following manner:


{p. 387} "KRTD. They don't take KRD's such a long distance for a new investigaon," she grinned.

"Have you been in long?" "They took me in 1930, first into exile, then to a political prison...

"Who were you with in prison?" she asked.

"A wide, wide range of people. Among those who might interest you, I met Katia Gusakova."

She shuddered. I looked at her closely. "Had she been in prison long"

"She spent a year in solitary. They brought her to us in our cell looking like she had just been taken down off the cross. She was all eyes and long braids. Her body was transparent. She said that she had been on a prolonged hunger

The woman sat in silent expectation. She nervously straightened her greying

"It was from her that I first heard about Trotskyism," I said, looking straight at her. "She told me about the political prison and exile, but most of all, she asked about life outside, about the dekulakization of 1930-1934. Many things became clearer to me. Our conversations helped us both. I gave her facts, and she told me about the conceptions of Aslan David-ogly [the conspiratorial name which prisoners used when referring to Trotsky* - V. R.]"

The woman gave a start and brightened with some kind of inner light.

"You know that name? That means that Katia trusted you," she said with a sigh. "I will have to trust you too. You are going to Kolyma, and I am commg from there. Many of our people are there. They do not hide the fact that they are Trotskyists, and therefore I will ask you to tell them that they are taking me for a reinvestigation. This is very important for them." Only after this did Sokolovskaya say that she was Trotsky's first wife.

"I have ... a grandson from my older daughter," Sokolovskaya continued. "I was so worried about the boy!. He is now fourteen years old. They say that he has been taken away too."

"Where? To prison? What a horrible childhood."

"In tsarist times they did not take away the children. ... But this one - he wants to annihilate everyone. To the seventh generation. Liova resembles his

* In a number of Eastern languages "Aslan" means "lion."

{p. 388} grandfather and, like him, seems to be talented. What will happen to him?"

N. Gagen-Torn writes that Sokolovskaya told her "about things which I had never suspected, she spoke about Aslan David-ogly and - as if a cloth had wiped the exhaustion and old age from her face - she became young again. When she received mypromise to tell about her fate to her friends, Sokolovskaya said:

"'From a Magadan camp they took me to "Vaska's house," and no one knows anything about me after that. And I do not know who else was taken. Who remains? It is important to know this, because they want to open a new case. I know that in the Magadan camp Lolo Bibneishvili remained behind, this is the wife of Lado. The same Lado who in tsarist times was renowned throughout Georgia. He was a most active Bolshevik. ... So, tell Lolo that I have heard nothing at all about any of our other comrades. I don't feel bad, and I am in good spirits. After all, I am old, and they worry about me. I send greetings to my comrades, I believe in their courage and good spirits. ... Tell them that there, abroad, Aslan David-ogly will be able to do many things."

"She looked at me with radiant eyes, proud of her memories of him, of her love for him. And I, who had yet to understand the tribulations of old age, sat in silent wonder at this woman, and the glow of her reminiscences."26

In the camps the Trotskyists were divided into "those who had left" and "those who remained." The first included those who at the end of the 1920s and beginning of the 1930s had openly renounced their views and for the most part were returned to the party; the second included those who refused to declare that they were renouncing the Opposition, and therefore who remained in exile and in political prisons right up until 1936-1937, when they were transferred to the camps of harsh regime. Naturally, "those who remained" were faced with much more severe conditions in the camps. Hardly a single one of them survived the prison camp executions at the end of the 1930s. "If I had been a Trotskyist," writes V. Shalamov, "I would have been shot long ago, annihilated, but even temporary contact branded me for eternity. That is the degree to which Stalin feared (the Trotskyists)."27

It is a paradox that the Trotskyist-capitulators were sentenced in 1936 to still relatively short sentences. Much more severe sentences were given to people who fell under the article "KRTD" in 1937 - the majority of whom had nothing to do with the Opposition in the past. A few "who had left" managed to be freed after serving their terms. Among them was A. S. Bertsinskaya, who with her

{p. 389} husband, T. Sh. Askendarian, took an active part in establishing Soviet power in Azerbaidzhan. Belonging to the Opposition in the 1920s, in 1928 they were sent into exile in Minusinsk. After giving statements of capitulation, they were set free, but in August 1936 they were arrested once more and sentenced by a Special Board to five years in the camps. In Magadan they were placed in barracks along with Trotskyists "who remained." There representatives of both categories of prisoners waged a battle for the observance of the labor code concerning an eight-hour, and not the ten-hour, working day which had been established for prisoners. They fought for the observance of days off, which were completely canceled during the summer, and for other demands. On Sundays they were locked up for refusing to go to work.28

The spring of 1937 in Kolyma witnessed the beginning of camp trials involving those Trotskyists who had participated in hunger strikes and other forms of collective protest. The trial material in the "case of the political center of Trotskyists in Kolyma," aside from clearly fantastic charges ("preparing an armed uprising with the support of Japan and the USA," and so forth), contains characteristic excerpts from statements made by the defendants: "Chichinadze considers our entire land of the Soviets to be a concentration camp". ... Shuklin said: "Now Stalin has no authority among the world proletariat because he is bloodthirsty and, in addition, is the most wretched figure. ... Stalin wants to destroy all his opponents, intelligent people, the true leaders of the nation, people who according to their intellectual level are much higher than he is." Meshcherin said: "Who among the Old Bolsheviks is being arrested and shot at this time? It is clear that they want to destroy all the old leaders. After all, no one knew Stalin as a leader."29

Five of the defendants at this trial were sentenced to be shot, and the rest to ten years of imprisonment. But even after this the struggle of the Trotskyists against their executioners continued. In her memoirs Bertsinskaya tells about the fate of the Old Bolshevik Zakharian, who belonged to those who "were ferociously irreconcilable and steadfastly unbending." After she was transferred from the gold mine to Magadan, they took away her young son who had been with her. When in 1942 Bertsinskaya was told about the end of her sentence, she saw things in the camp warehouse which belonged to Zakharian and others "who remained," and who by this time had been shot.30

V. Shalamov writes about a "famous brigade" which was located at the Kolyma gold mine, "Partisan." This brigade, which included "Trotskyists who

{p. 390} refused to work at all," conducted a number of hunger strikes in 1936. As a result, they received permission from Moscow not to work, while receiving the "productive" rather than the punitive ration. "Food was divided into four 'categories' - the camp used philosophical terminology in the most inappropriate places: 'Stakhanovite,' for fulfilling the norm by 130 percent and more - 1,000 grams of bread; 'shock brigade,' for 100-130 percent - 800 grams of bread; 'productive,' 90-100 percent - 600 grams, and punitive - 300 grams of bread. Those who refused to work when I was there were transferred to the punitive ration bread and water. But that is not how it always was. A struggle unfolded in 1935 and 1936 - and through a series of hunger strikes the Trotskyists at the 'Partisan' gold mine won the legitimate 600 grams. They were denied their 'stalls' and camp shop purchases, but they were not forced to work." On their own initiative they prepared wood for the whole camp. One night in 1937 they were all taken away to an investigatory prison. After this, no one ever saw a single one of them again.31

Recently published material from their investigation dossier tells about the further fate of the members of this brigade. Not a single one of them admitted any guilt, and four refused to reply to questions asked by the investigators, All fourteen defendants in this case were sentenced to be shot in September 1937. The group included a professor who directed a trust, a writer, and some workers, engineers, economists and teachers.3

N. I. Gagen-Torn tells how by 1939 in Kolyma she witnessed the disappearance of all her "friend-opponents, who adhered to the sacred belief that 'the idea of communism which was flouted and discredited by Stalin would have to be reborn with our blood.' And they willingly gave this blood. I had an immeasurable respect for the Russian intelligentsia's tradition of sacrifice which was embodied in them."33

There were even more Trotskyists in the Vorkuta camps than in Kolyma. Here, too, they were the only group of prisoners who offered organized resistance.

The Nikolaevsky collection contains no few memoirs of former camp prisoners on the events which later became known as the Vorkuta tragedy. Its beginning is vividly described in the memoirs of A. Rakhalov. He says that until 1936 the majority of Trotskyists who had not capitulated were still in exile, where they carried with them their small libraries and theoretical works that contradicted the "general line." Their children lived with them and went to

{p. 391} schools where often they heard the conversations conducted by their teachers about the happy childhood of Soviet children under the Stalinist sun, and about the difficult but successful war being waged by their leader against the enemies of the people (this of course meant their parents). Their 'leprous' parents quickly tired of the poison which was being given to their children in massive doses at school, and withdrew them in order to turn them into 'simply literate people' at home."

In 1936, the Trotskyists in exile together with their families were loaded into railway cars and sent to Arkhangelsk. From there they were sent to the arctic Vorkuta, where the prisoners learned that in their sentences the word, "exile" had mechanically been replaced with the word "camp." As a result, they were turned from "administrative exiles" into prisoners. Moreover, an additlonal five years was added to their previous sentences without any explanation.

"This was the beginning of the tragedy.

"The food supplies which they had were quickly exhausted, and the prisoner's ration was far from adequate for them to feel satisfied even for fifteen minutes. The children did not ask for an extra crust of bread. They understood that their fate was bound up completely with the fate of their parents."

Among this group of prisoners was Sergei Sedov; Poznansky, Trotsky's former secretary; V. Kosior, the former head of the oil industry (his brother was S. Kosior, a member of the Politburo); and "a whole pleiade of former prominent party leaders, beginning with the secretaries of area committees ... and ending with the secretaries of regional committees, Gosplan officials and members of other organizations."

As the author of the memoirs notes, "the mood of those who had arrived [in Vorkuta] was far from despondent, but, on the contrary, keen-spirited, energetic and ... angry." The arrival of Oppositionists in Vorkuta coincided with the discussion of the draft of "the Stalin constitution." The Trotskyists subjected it to a withering criticism, and one of them, after listening to a radio broadcast "calmly summed things up: everything is clear, comrades - this is not a Stalinist constitution but Stalinist prostitution."

"The Trotskyists undoubtedly had great experience in revolutionary battles and, thanks to this, were able to close their ranks, working cordially and courageously and they were able to take certain measures of caution in their work and struggle." When the author of the memoirs advised V. Kosior "to reconcile

{p. 392} himself to his fate and to save his strength for serving out his prison sentence," insofar as "no actions of protest would help," Kosior replied: "In a certain sense you are right. But do not forget that we are not a band of criminals and we are not accidental political criminals, we are opponents of Stalin's policies and we desire only the best for our country. ... If our situation is indeed wretched, then we at least want to know what Moscow thinks about it. Today we are justified in assuming that the local Chekists are displaying their own initiative when they violate our most elementary rights, even as prisoners, and we want to know Moscow's opinion about this - then much will become clear for us."

In October 1936, the culminating point in the Vorkuta tragedy began to unfold - all the Trotskyists who were in the surrounding camps declared a hunger strike.

The hunger strikers demanded an open trial (the majority of them had recelved camp sentences in absentia, determined by a Special Board), the release of their wives and children, with the right to freely choose their place of residency, the transfer of the elderly and of invalids from polar regions to regions with a less severe climate, the separation of political prisoners from criminals, and the establishment of the same food for all prisoners regardless of fulfilling quotas.

All the memoirs mention one and the same length of the hunger strike - an unprecedented one hundred thirty-two days. More than a thousand prisoners participated in it, and several people died. Soon the participants in the hunger strike were taken from all the camp sites to a settlement that was several dozen kilometers from the mine. But even from there, the rest of the prisoners began to receive information that the hunger strike was continuing and that the Trotskyists had no intention of giving in. "Not even the free employees at the camps dared to express their hatred for the 'insulting behavior of the damned counterrevolutionaries,' since evidently the tragedy of the starving people found some kind of response in their hearts. ... The Chekists took all measures to prevent this hunger strike from becoming the object of world public opinion and the press."34 In the spring of 1937, on orders from Moscow, the hunger strikers were told that their demands would be met. They were all sent to the "Brick Factory," a former site for special punishment, where in the fall of 1937, mass shootings of the prisoners began.


THE OPPONENTS of Stalinism were not limited to the camp population. Their numbers grew steadily outside the camps as well.

In stimulating the relentless publication of articles about ever newer "exposed Trotskyists," Stalin was not embarrassed by the fact that the abundance of such articles created the impression that a huge number of people supported the thoroughly reviled Trotsky. His main goal was to arouse horror at the scale of the conspiratorial activity headed by Trotsky and at the monstrosity of the crimes committed by the participants in this all-embracing conspiracy.

However, when they observed that ever newer faces were falling out of the ruling wagon, simple people could not help but ask themselves: Who is ruling us? Why have people who fought for Soviet power and were its favorites until yesterday suddenly turned into serious criminals?

Despite the inescapable victimization which would follow the slightest expression of doubt over the correctness of the repression, indignant voices of protest still resounded even at party meetings. In her memoirs, O. Adamova- Sliozberg tells about her encounter in a prison cell with a textile worker from Ivanovo, the Old Bolshevik and participant in the civil war O. l. Nikitina, who had worked for thirty-five years in the mills. Nikitina received ten years because, with the directness that was one of her traits, she declared at a meetmg: "'You say that they are all traitors. What, does that mean that Lenin was blind, that he did not see the people who lived all around him?" And here she was, sitting for days on end, whispering to herself, trying to convince herself that she had done the right thing."1

Even when it came to Trotsky, who for many years had been portrayed by the official propaganda as the leader of the "vanguard of the counterrevolutionary bourgeoisie," words of sympathy and respect were spoken in public more often than might be expected. Thus Kozlov, a student at the industrial workers' training program in Rostov-on-the-Don, said at a combined party and Komsomol meeting: "Trotsky made colossal contributions to our country ... he

{p. 394} was one of the most popular leaders of the revolution." In spite of demands by the "organs", assistant prosecutor Startsev refused to sanction Kozlov's arrest for his statements, declaring, "After all, Trotsky did occupy the positions which Kozlov said at the meeting."


EVEN IF WE SET ASIDE the version of the existence of a military conspiracy which will be examined below, it is not difficult to see that Stalin had very serious grounds for conducting a purge of the army's commanding staff.

First of all, the Red Army was a powerful material force, and its commanders felt more self-confident and independent of Stalin's dictates than people in the civilian sectors. Officials in the military circles, as Krivitsky stressed, "lived outside that special party world in which people were forever 'deviating' from the correct Stalinist course, 'recanting,' 'deviating,' again and again 'recanting,' each time with increasing penalties and with a progressive breakdown of the will. The job of the generals, the building of a powerful army and system of national defense, had preserved their morale. Stalin knew that Tukhachevsky, Gamarnik, Yakir, Uborevich and the other ranking generals could never be broken into the state of unquestioning obedience which he now required of all those about him. They were men of great personal courage."

Second, the commanding staff of the army contained thousands of people who had served in 1918-1924 under Trotsky's leadership. Among the army communists were a great number of people who had sided in 1923-1927 with the Left Opposition. At the February-March Plenum Voroshilov said: "By 1923-1924, the Trotskyists had on their side, as you recall, and you should recall, almost all Moscow and the military academy as a whole, with the exception of a few individuals. ... And the school of the Central Executive Committee here and the various schools for the infantry, artillery and other parts of the Moscow garrison - all of them were for Trotsky (Gamarnik: And the headquarters of the Moscow Military District, where Muralov was located, was for Trotsky)."2

In February 1937, Shchadenko, the head of the Frunze Military Academy, reported to Gamarnik that in the discussion of 1923 the majority of the communists at the academy "adopted Trotskyist positions." At that time forty-eight people voted for the resolution of the Central Committee, and two hundred four for the resolution of the Opposition.3

{p. 401} Of course, the repression of the preceding years had not passed by the army. At the beginning of the 1930s, several thousand former tsarist officers were discharged. Some of them were arrested and condemned on false charges of conspiratorial activity.

At the February-March Plenum, Voroshilov declared: "Without great fanfare, which was unnecessary, we threw out a large number of unsuitable elements, including Trotskyist-Zinovievist rabble, and every type of suspicious scum. In the time since 1924 ... we purged from the army a great number of people from the command and supervisory staff. Do not be frightened by the figure which I will give, because this includes not only enemies, but also people who were simply useless, and some good people whom we had to retire [apparently due to age or for health reasons - V. R.], but then again there were very many enemies too. In the course of these twelve to thirteen years we purged approximately forty-seven thousand people." In 1934-1936 alone, said Voroshilov, "we threw out of the army for various reasons, but mainly because they were worthless and politically unreliable, around twenty-two thousand people, out of whom five thousand were tossed out as oppositionists and as low quality elements of various kinds in a political sense."4

Although the percentage of expelled army communists in 1933-1935 was lower than in civilian departments, in absolute numbers those expelled amounted to three thousand three hundred twenty-eight people, of whom five hundred fifty-five were purged "for Trotskyism and forming counterrevolutionary groups." Among these five hundred fifty-five, four hundred were immediately discharged from the army.

Nevertheless, the high command remained basically the same which it had been since the end of the Civil War. Of course, such prominent Trotskyists as Mrachkovsky and Muralov were driven out of the army. However, many oppositionists who had submitted statements of capitulation remained in high positions right up until the middle of 1936. At the time of the February-March Plenum, according to Voroshilov, the army still contained seven hundred former Trotskyists, Zinovievists and Right Oppositionists - people with party cards or who had been expelled from the party, but whom "commissions at various times felt could be left in the army."5

Third, the commanders and political personnel to a certain degree reflected the dissatisfaction of the peasantry, from whom the rank-and-file soldiers in the army were largely drawn. As Krivitsky emphasized, at every period critical

{p. 402} for Stalin, i.e., "during forcible collectivization, hunger, and rebellion, the generals had supported him reluctantly, had put difficulties in his path, had forced deals upon him."6 At certain moments even Voroshilov had taken such a position; once, along with Tukhachevsky and Gamarnik, he declared at a session of the Politburo that it would be necessary to ease the repression in the villages in order to preserve the army's reliability.

Trotsky assumed that a link existed between the leaders of the Right Opposition and the highest military commanders, even if it only took the form of political sympathy. He felt that the differences between the military leaders and Stalin over questions of domestic policy had sharpened after 1932, when the consequences of forced collectivization assumed a particularly ominous character.7

Fourth, differences arose in the 1930s and deepened over the years between Stalin and the generals grouped around Tukhachevsky over Soviet military doctrine. Stalin and Voroshilov made superficial and boastful statements about conducting a future war exclusively on enemy soil and with little bloodshed. Tukhachevsky counterposed a conception of a wide-scale military conflict into which the Soviet Union would inevitably be drawn. Making a realistic assessment of the scale of Germany's rearmament, he declared at one of the higher government forums that he was fully convinced of the possibility that war might unfold on the territory of the USSR.

Unlike Stalin, who tried after Hitler came to power to establish an alliance with the "superpower" which he considered Germany to be, Tukhachevsky maintained a firm antifascist orientation. On 31 March 1935, Pravda published Tukhachevsky's article, "The Military Plans of Today's Germany." The manuscript of the article had been edited by Stalin, who softened a number of formulations in it about the anti-Soviet character of Hitler's military preparations. Nevertheless, Tukhachevsky's article provoked sharp dissatisfaction in German governmental and military circles. On 4 April the German ambassador, Schulenberg, told Litvinov about their negative reaction to this article. On the same day Hartman, the German military attache in Moscow, told Gekker, the head of the Foreign Relations Department of the General Staff of the RKKA [Red Army], that "he had been instructed to report the negative effect which Tukhachevsky's article had made on the commanding staff of the Reichswehr."8

Several of Tukhachevsky's biographers have turned to Lidiia Nord's book, Marshal M N. Tukhachevsky, which was first published in 1950 in the Russian

{p. 403} emigre press. It has not yet been established who lurks behind this pseudonym. The author of the book, who calls herself the widow of one of Tukhachevsky's associates, displays undoubted familiarity with many details of the latter's life. Although the book contains quite a few obvious fabrications, some of its passages are unquestionably interesting. This relates most of all to the account of Tukhachevsky s attitude toward Stalin's "Germanophilia." According to Nord, in the circle of his close friends, Tukhachevsky said: "Now I see that Stalin is a secret but fanatical, admirer of Hitler. I am not joking. ... Hitler would only have to make a step in Stalin's direction, and our leader would throw himself with open arms at the fascist. Yesterday when we were speaking privately, Stalin justified Hitler's repressions against the Jews by saying that Hitler was clearing the path of everything that prevented him from obtaining his goal, and that from the standpoint of his ideas, Hitler was right. Hitler's successes impresses losif Vissarionovich too much, and if you look closely, you will see that he copies the Fuhrer in many ways. ... And what is even sadder, there are people who, instead of putting him in his place, look at him with rapture and hang on his every word as if they expected to hear brilliant thoughts."9

The differences between Stalin and the group around Tukhachevsky also involved questions of the modernization and mechanization of the armed forces, the role of the cavalry and motorized units in a future war. In 1930, a sharp conflict arose between Tukhachevsky, on the one hand, and Stalin-Voroshilov, on the other, when Tukhachevsky proposed to significantly increase the size of the army and to outfit it with tanks, artillery and airplanes. Tukhachevsky apparently sent a note with these proposals first to Ordzhonikidze, who then passed it on to Stalin with the comment: "Soso. Read this document. Sergo."10 At the same time, this note was sent to Stalin by Voroshilov, who added to it his own condemnation of Tukhachevsky's "radicalism." In a letter of reply to Voroshilov, Stalin severely sharpened this evaluation. "I think" he wrote, "that the 'plan' of comrade Tukhachevsky is the result of a fashionable enthusiasm for 'left' phraseology, the result of an enthusiasm for bureaucratic and paper maximalism. ... To 'realize' such a plan would certainly mean to destroy both the country's economy and its army. It would be worse than any counterrevolution."1l

After Voroshilov read this letter aloud at a session of the Military Council, Tukhachevsky sent a letter to Stalin in which he said that such an assessment of his proposals would absolutely exclude in the future his "possibility of broadly

{p. 404} discussing a number of questions concerning the development of our defense capability." Only after a prolonged silence did Stalin in May 1932 send a letter to Tukhachevsky acknowledging the correctness of the general's position and the error of his own reaction to it. "Now," wrote Stalin, " ... when several vague questions have become clearer to me, I must admit that my evaluation was too sharp, and the conclusions of my letter were not entirely correct. ... It seems to me that my letter to Comrade Voroshilov would not have been so sharp in tone, and it would have been free of several incorrect conclusions with regard to you, if I had placed the debate at that time on a new foundation. But I did not do this since, apparently, the problem was not yet clear enough for me. Don't be angry with me because I have decided to correct the shortcomings of my letter after a certain period of delay.''12 It may well be that this is the only instance when Stalin not only admitted the erroneous nature of his position, but virtually asked forgiveness from the person he had defamed and insulted.

Nevertheless, during the 1937 trial of Tukhachevsky and the other defendants, the conceptions of accelerating the formation of tank units at the cost of reducing the cavalry and the budget for it were considered to be a wrecking operation.

Fifth, Tukhachevsky and the generals close to him most fully expressed the dissatisfaction of the general staff with the limitations and incompetence of Voroshilov and the persons close to him, primarily members of the former First Cavalry. They were dissatisfied with the arbitrary and group spirit displayed by Voroshilov's supporters, which had such a destructive influence on the quality of the Soviet armed forces. The degree of this dissatisfaction can be seen in the diary entry written on 15 March 1937 by Kutiakov, a Civil War hero who, after Chapaev's death, had led his division: "As long as 'the iron-man' stands at the helm, there will be disorder and toadyism; everything stupid will be honored, and everything intelligent will be denigrated."13

Tukhachevsky and the generals close to him expressed similar views, although in not such sharp form, even in Stalin's presence. On 1 June 1937, in a report to the session of the Military Council, Voroshilov said: "The fact that these people - Tukhachevsky, Yakir, Uborevich and a number of others - were close to each other, this we knew, this was no secret. ... Last year, in May, at my apartment, Tukhachevsky accused me and Budenny, in the presence of Comrades Stalin, Molotov and many others, of gathering around ourselves a small group of people with whom I conducted and directed all policy, and so forth.

{p. 405} Comrade Stalin said at that time that there had to be an end to personal squabbles, and that we must convene a session of the Politburo at which we would investigate this matter in detail. And at such a session we looked into all these questions, and once again arrived at the same result.

Stalin: He withdrew his accusations.

Voroshilov: Yes, he withdrew them, although the Yakir and Uborevich group behaved themselves rather aggressively at the session when it came to me. Uborevich kept quiet, but Gamarnik and Yakir behaved very badly toward me."14

Only members of the military at that time could allow themselves such sharply critical statements about one of Stalin's closest associates, who was, moreover, their immediate boss.

Another indication of the sharp conflict between Voroshilov and the Tukhachevsky group is a letter from Uborevich to Ordzhonikidze, the sole member of Stalin's Politburo to whom the military leaders could appeal. In this letter, written 17 August 1936, Uborevich states: "Voroshilov does not consider me capable of carrying out major military or state work. ... I must say that he has an even lower estimation of Tukhachevsky. In my opinion, Tukhachevsky has lost much of his former capacity for work because of these blows and assessments. ... If Comrade Voroshilov considers me a commander who is little suited for major work, then I must speak very sharply both to his face and in

{p. 406} his absence about his views concerning the most important contemporary problems of war:'15

At the trial of 1937, the defendants confessed that they held discussions among themselves about the need to remove Voroshilov from leadership of the army.

Sixth, Stalin could not help but feel alarmed at the genuine prestige and respect which the leading officers had won among the people. As Krivitsky stressed, even during the last years of collectivization, when Stalin's authority was lower than ever before, "these generals, especially Tukhachevsky, had enjoyed enormous popularity not only with the officers corps and the rank and file ofthe army, but with the people."16 Such extraordinaryrecognition remained with them even in the years to follow. In describing Tukhachevsky's speech at the Seventh Congress of Soviets in 1935, A. Barmine, a "non-returnee" who was close to Soviet military circles, noted: "When Tukhachevsky appeared on the platform, the whole room rose to its feet and greeted him with a storm of applause. The ovation was marked out from all others by its force and sincerity." In commenting on this account, Trotsky wrote: "Stalin undoubtedly distinguished well the tone of this ovation, he noted it and remembered Tukhachevsky a few years later."17

At the trial of the "Right-Trotskyist Bloc," Bukharin declared that in the milieu of "conspirators" he called Tukhachevsky "a potential 'little Napoleon,'" because he feared his Bonapartist inclinations. In discussing this topic, A. M. Larina notes that she learned from Bukharin that Stalin had called Tukhachevsky a "little Napoleon" in a conversation with Bukharin. The latter had then persuaded Stalin that Tukhachevsky had no desire whatsoever to take power.18

Seventh, the officers of the Red Army knew better than anyone else the true value of Stalin's "exploits" during the Civil War, which were becoming the subject of ever louder claims in the official press. This propaganda campaign was initiated essentially by Stalin himself. At a session of the Politburo and the Presidium of the Central Control Commission in September 1927, in response to Trotsky's criticism of his many mistakes during the Civil War years, Stalin declared: "There are a number of documents, and this the entire party knows, showing that the Central Committee sent Stalin from front to front for three years, going to the south, the east, the north and west, whenever things became difficult at the front."19 This boastful self-characterization was para-

{p. 407} phrased and amplified by Voroshilov in his obsequious article, "Stalin and the Red Army." where he states that Stalin "was, perhaps, the sole person whom the Central Committee sent from one military front to another, choosing places that were the most dangerous and the most troublesome for the revolution."20

Certain memories could not be blotted out of the consciousness of the Soviet military leaders. Despite the officially cultivated version about the "heroic" role of Stalin and Voroshilov in battles around Tsaritsyn, the generals knew that the Central Committee had removed them from the Military Council of the Southern Front, and then recalled them from Tsaritsyn because of their arbitrariness, insistence on partisan warfare, and refusal to reckon with the decisions of the Central Committee and to subordinate themselves to the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic.

Right until the middle of the 1930s a subject of unceasing discussion in military circles was the question of the reasons behind the defeat of the Red Army in the Polish campaign of 1920. The participants in the campaign knew well that Stalin, who occupied the post at that time of member of the Military Council of the Southwestern Front, refused to carry out the decision of the Central Committee and the directive coming from the Commander-in-Chief to send the First Cavalry and the Twelfth Army to assist the Western Front, headed by Tukhachevsky, who was launching an offensive against Warsaw.

{p. 408} This was one of the main reasons for the disruption of the offensive and the failure of the entire Polish campaign. Starting in 1923, a whole series of works on military history were published which were devoted to this chapter of the Civil War. In several of them, for instance in Lvov-Warsaw, the book by Yegorov the former commander of the Southwestern Front, blame for the defeat of the Red Army was placed on Tukhachevsky. Similar arguments were presented during the discussion of the Soviet-Polish War which occurred in 1930. During this discussion one of the speakers declared: "In general, Tukhachevsky should have been hanged for 1920."21

In other works, including the third volume of the Histoy of the Civil War, the analysis of the reasons for the defeat of the Red Army mentioned errors by the commanders of the Southwestern front (Yegorov and Stalin). The last of the works to objectively examine the history of the Polish campaign was the book by Kutiakov, Kiev Cannae, which was written in 1935. In diary entries for the end of 1936 and the beginning of 1937, Kutiakov wrote about the inevitable reprisals which would befall him for this book: "My Cannae of 1920 is a noose around my neck; it will destroy me at the first opportune moment. That means I must be prepared for this." "Cannae was written with my blood, and then with my entire heart; despite this, both in the past and now, it has brought me and will bring me nothing but terrible misfortune."22

At a session of the Military Council on 2June 1937, Stalin burst into a stream of coarse abuse directed at Kutiakov, calling his book "a rotten thing," the goal of which was to "expose the Red Cavalry." In passing, Stalin berated Sediakin, a commander of the second rank, for having written a preface to this book which "aroused doubt and even suspicion."23

As we can see, Stalin had plenty of reasons for harboring distrust and hostility toward the Soviet general staff.

We must also add that provocative versions about the intentions of the Soviet military leaders to overthrow Stalin were constantly being fabricated in foreign and emigre circles. In the creation of these scenarios, which were designed to continuously arouse Stalin's suspicions, no small contribution was made by Red Marshals, the book published in 1932 by the White emigre writer, Roman Goul (the sketch devoted to Tukhachevsky in this book had first been published a bit earlier). With his lively pen, Goul claimed that the "big shots" in the Red Army were "freeing themselves from the control of the party apparatus. I think that it is correct to say that the replacements for the terrorist-

{p. 409} communist dictatorship will emerge from a group of military leaders in the Red Army, which will rest mainly upon the peasantry."24

In Goul's book, which is an amazing mixture of genuine facts and the author's overactive imagination, candidates for the "liquidation of the communist dictatorship were declared to be Tukhachevsky and Bliukher. In addition, Goul called Tukhachevsky a protege of Trotsky, and claimed that the general was completely obliged to the latter for his promotion in the services. Even more fantastic was Bliukher's biography as it was presented by Goul. The author called the official Soviet facts about Bliukher "falsified," and juxtaposed to them his own version of Bliukher's secret life. He called the general a "soldier living under a pseudonym," "a name he had borrowed for himself from the man who conquered Napoleon at Waterloo." The book offers conflicting accounts from the foreign and emigre press, including such pearls as: "Bliukher speaks with a strong German accent," "Bliukher is a German officer who became a prisoner of war; he is the former right-hand man of Colonel Bauer," "Bliukher is a well-groomed man with polished nails," and so forth.25

After praising Bliukher's military successes in the civil war in China, where Bliukher worked in the mid-1920s as a military advisor to the Kuomintang, Goul then goes on to provide a provocative story about Bliukher's ties to the leaders of the so-called "Right-Left Bloc" who had been driven from their posts in 1930. Demonstrating a knowledge of certain actual circumstances surrounding the activity of this oppositional group, Goul turns it into a "conspiracy" which proceeded under the "darkest conspiratorial cover" and had as its goal the organization of a "palace coup." He announces that the "conspirators" had even drawn up a list of the new government, in which Bliukher would become Commissar of War. After Stalin uncovered this "conspiracy," as Goul assures us, Bliukher remained at his post only as a result of Voroshilov's protection. "Such people, like Marshal Bliukher, who came out of nowhere but has firmly gone down in Russian history," the author writes in concluding his narrative, "make people take note of them if they do not die."26

To the "unreliable" Tukhachevsky and Bliukher, the wily White-emigre scribbler counterposed Voroshilov, by clearly exaggerating his military exploits to please Stalin. Knowing Stalin's special attitude toward the First Cavalry, Goul stated that "the First Cavalry under Budenny played the decisive role in the victory of the Reds over the Whites in the Civil War." Voroshilov was the political commissar in the First Cavalry. According to Goul, this army had nothing

{p. 410} in common with the communist spirit: "with a truly nationalistic, patently anticommunist Cossack and peasant force of the steppes, Voroshilov routed the armies of the White generals which were considered to be nationalistic."

Calling Voroshilov "truly the first marshal of the republic," Goul hinted that he was the only Soviet military leader who presented no threat to Stalin. "Voroshilov might grapple" with Stalin in Politburo debates, pound his fist on the table and raise a ruckus. But Stalin, who is a master of Machiavellian combinations, is able to pacify Voroshilov, despite all the noise and his pounding on the table."27

Similar writings by the opponents of the Soviet regime had an unmistakable influence on Stalin. Voroshilov and his cohorts in the First Cavalry were the only commanders from the Civil War who survived the Great Terror. They were the ones who were placed by Stalin at the head of the Red Army in the early period of the Second World War, and it is their "art of warfare" which the Soviet armed forces can thank in no small measure for their initial defeats.


UNDERSTANDlNG THAT, when it came to the army, a lack of caution might result in a serious counterblow, Stalin prepared the purge of the army gradually, slowly and patiently.

At the February-March Plenum, Voroshilov announced that until then six people with the "rank of general" had been arrested: Primakov, Putna, Turovsky, Shmidt, Sablin and Ziuk, as well as two officers: Colonel Karpel and Major Kuzmichev. This was an insignificant figure in comparison with the number of those arrested by the time of the plenum in any other area.

The people named by Voroshilov had belonged to the Left Opposition in 1926-1927, but had then left it. Their names had been mentioned at the first two show trials as participants in a "military-Trotskyist organizatior." within the Red Army.

At the Trial of the Sixteen, it was said that in his letter to Dreitser, Trotsky gave instructions to organize illegal cells in the army. However the defendants named only Primakov and Putna as military figures in contact with the "United Trotskyist-Zinovievist Center." Besides these names, the trial mentioned only Shmidt and Kuzmichev as people who had prepared terrorist acts against Voroshilov.

Before their arrest, Shmidt and Kuzmichev served in the Kiev Military District under Yakir's leadership. Yakir managed to arrange a meeting with Shmidt at the NKVD. During this meeting Shmidt confirmed his confession, but in parting, secretly slipped Yakir a note addressed to Voroshilov, in which he denied the charges made against him. However, on the next day, Voroshilov called the reassured Yakir and said that during a new interrogation Shmidt had returned to his previous testimony.2

Whereas the interrogators managed to obtain confessions (for the time being only about terror) from Putna, Shmidt and Kuzmichev by August-September 1936, Primakov held out considerably longer - for nine months - despite the fact that they systematically tormented him with sleep deprivation

{p. 412} and his interrogations not infrequently ended in heart attacks.

{p. 460} Hitler, better than anyone else, knew the true value of the documents handed over by his special services to Stalin which served as the basis for putting the generals on trial. Nevertheless, in one of his table conversations with those close to him, Hitler made the significant remark: "Even now it is still not clear if the differences between Stalin, on the one hand, and Tukhachevsky and his collageues on the other, really went so far that Stalin was forced to seriously fear for his life, the threat to which came from this circle of people."6 It is possible that Hitler's reasoning here was not a purely speculative hypothesis, but rested upon some facts that were at his disposal.


(6) Isaac Deutscher, The Great Purges, edited by Tamara Deutscher (Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1984).

{p. 69} Only one man, the banished Trotsky, continued to challenge Stalin. From his various places of exile in Turkey, France and Norway, he ceaselessly attacked the Moscow dictator. His voice did not penetrate to the masses in Russia; but it reached the men of the Bolshevik hierarchy - the Trotskyists, Zinovievists, Bukharinists and even the old Stalinist cadres, who listened intently to every word uttered by the founder of the Red Army. In Bolshevik eyes, Trotsky still represented the sole alternative to Stalin and Stalinism; and so the whole Stalinist propaganda machine concentrated immense eftorts upon discrediting him. Trotsky was: 'The spearhead of the world's counter-revolution.' 'A social fascist!' 'Just say, a fascist!' 'A plotter and conspirator against the Soviet Union!' He was indeed the devil, or the anti-Christ, of the Stalinist cult.

Stalin compelled Trotsky's erstwhile friends and followers to join him in exorcizing the devil. Yet the exorcisms were losing their magical power. The U.S.S.R. existed in a state of almost permanent emergency. In 1932 Nadia Alliluyeva, Stalin's wife, committed suicide in protest against the monstrosities of his rule. The oppositionists who had surrendered to Stalin came to regret the surrender; and even in his own entourage there was no lack of malcontents. And so Stalin was becoming afraid not only of Trotskyists, Bukharinists, etc., but even of his own followers, the Stalinists.

The higher he rose, and the more grotesquely he was adulated, the louder grew the murmurs around him, the more numerous was the multitude who had reason to fear and hate him - and whom he feared and hated. Though elevated above the whole Bolshevik Party, it was not without reason that he saw the whole party as one potential coalition against himself. And he had to use every ounce of his strength and cunning to prevent the potential from becoming actual. He had not obtained mastery once and for all. He had to obtain it over and over again. On December 1934, a young communist by the name of Nikolayev assassinated Serge Kirov, the party boss and Governor of Leningrad. The exact circumstances in which this event took place are still obscure. What was known at the time was that the chiefs of the Leningrad G.P.U. had been aware of

{p. 72} Nikolayev's preparations for the attempt and that, either deliberately or negligently, they had allowed him to carry out the coup. ...

The campaign against 'Kirov's assassins' had been running for about twenty months, when suddenly, on 15 August 1936, Moscow announced that a trial of 'the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Centre' was about to open. This was to be the first of the great and infamous Moscow Trials. ...

The Trial of the Sixteen set the pattern for all the Moscow trials that were to follow. In January 1937 Pyatakov, Radek, Sokolnikov, Muralov, Serebriakov and others appeared in the dock. All these men, once eminent members of the Trotskyist opposition, had surrendered to Stalin and had made their recantations in 1927. 1928, 1929 and later. Pyatakov, Deputy Commissar of Heavy Industry, had been the moving spirit of Soviet industrialization; Radek was the 'Prince of Soviet Pamphleteers': Sololnikov, a former Soviet Chancellor of the Exchequer and Ambassador in London; Muralov, the ex-Inspector-General of the Soviet Armed Forces: all so on, and so on. The accusations piled up ever more incongruously and incredibly. Vyshinsky spoke of Trotsky's pact with Hitler and with the Emperor of Japan, a pact under which they were to assist him in his struggle against Stalin while he, Trotsky, was working for the military defeat and dismemberment of the Soviet Union, and was organizing industrial sabotage ...

{end} More at deutscher.html.

(7) Leon Trotsky: quotes from his autobiography

The hardback edition is My Life: The Rise and Fall of a Dictator (Thornton Butterworth Limited, London 1930); the paperback edition is My Life (Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1975).

Here is Trotsky's feeling about the soldiers he commanded, from his own autobiography:

{hbk p. 351, pbk p. 427} An army cannot be built without reprisals. Masses of men cannot be led to death unless the army-command has the death-penalty in its arsenal. So long as those malicious tailless apes that are so proud of their technical achievements - the animals that we call men - will build armies and wage wars, the command will always be obliged to place the soldiers between the possible death in the front and the inevitable one in the rear.

{Trotsky positioned special troops in the rear, behind his front-line troops, to shoot deserters and stop the front line retreating from battle; that's how the Civil War was won. See Volkogonov, below, on "blocking units".}

{hbk p. 416, pbk p. 508} The weaker the trio {the triumvirate which succeeded Lenin: Kamenev, Zinoviev and Stalin} felt in matters of principle, the more they feared me - because they wanted to get rid of me - and the tighter they had to bolt all the screws and nuts in the state and party system. Much later, in 1925, Bukharin said to me, in answer to my criticism of the party oppression: "We have no democracy because we are afraid of you".

{end quotes}

(8) Trotsky: quotes from his 1920 book The Defence of Terrorism (also published as Dictatorship Vs. Democracy, and as Terrorism & Communism: A Reply to Karl Kautsky), a reply to Karl Kautsky's book Terrorism and Communism:

Trotsky's book originally had the same title as the book of Kautsky to which he was replying, i.e. Terrorism and Communism.

The book was published in London in 1920, by the Labor Publishing Company and George Allen & Unwin. These publishers gave it the title The Defence of Terrorism (DoT), to distinguish it from Kautsky's book.

A second English edition was published in 1935, with the same name, The Defence of Terrorism. The text remained the same, except for a new Introduction by Trotsky. This book includes a note, at the front, by Trotsky, explaining that the title was given by the publishers. The page numbering is the same as that of the 1920 edition.

An American edition, titled Dictatorship vs. Democracy (DvD), was published in New York in 1922, by Workers Party of America. The page numbering is different from the English editions.

{DoT p. 58, DvD p. 55} But terror can be very efficient against a reactionary class which does not want to leave the scene of operations. Intimidation is a powerful weapon of policy, both internationally and internally. War, like revolution, is founded upon intimidation. A victorious war, generally speaking, destroys only an insignificant part of the conquered army, intimidating the remainder and breaking their will. The revolution works in the same way: it kills individuals and intimidates thousands. In this sense, the Red Terror is not distinguishable from the armed insurrection of which it is the direct continuation.

{DoT p. 59, DvD p. 56} The terror of Tsardom was directed against the proletariat. The gendarmerie of Tsardom throttled the workers who were fighting for the Socialist order. Our Extraordinary Commissions shoot landlords, capitalists, and generals who are striving to restore the capitalist order. Do you grasp this ... distinction? Yes? For us communists it is quite sufficient.

{DoT p. 59, DvD p. 56} During war all constitutions and organs of the State and of public opinion become, directly or indirectly, weapons of warfare. This is particularly true of the Press. No government carrying on a serious war will allow publications to exist on its territory which, openly or indirectly, support the enemy. Still more so in a civil war. The nature of the latter is such that each of its struggling sides has in the rear of its armies considerable circles of the population on the side of the enemy. In war, where both success and failure are repaid by death, hostile agents who penetrate into the rear are subject to execution.

{DoT p. 61, DvD p. 58} We are fighting. We are fighting a life-and-death struggle. The Press is a weapon not of an abstract society, but of two irreconcilable, armed and contending sides. We are destroying the Press of the counter-revolution, just as we destroyed its fortified positions, its stores, its communications, and its intelligence system.

{DoT p. 61, DvD p. 58} But Kautsky goes further to develop his theme. He complains that we suppress the newspapers of the S.R.s {Socialist Revolutionaries} and the Mensheviks, and even - such things have been known - arrest their leaders. Are we not dealing here with "shades of opinion" in the proletariat or the Socialist movement? The scholastic pedant does not see facts beyond his accustomed words. The Mensheviks and S.R.s for him are simply tendencies in Socialism, whereas, in the course of the revolution, they have been transformed into an organization which works in active co-operation with the counter-revolution and carries on against us an open war.

{DoT p. 63, DvD p. 60} As for us, we were never concerned with the Kantian-priestly and vegetarian-Quaker prattle about the "sacredness of human life". We were revolutionaries in opposition, and have remained revolutionaries in power. To make the individual sacred, we must destroy the social order which crucifies him. And that problem can only be solved by blood and iron.

{DoT p. 64, DvD p. 61} The man who recognizes the revolutionary historic importance of the very fact of the existence of the Soviet system must also sanction the Red Terror. {end quotes}

Not for Trotsky, turning the other cheek, the forgiveness of enemies of Nelson Mandela. In the Kronstadt massacre and in his espousal of Terror, Trotsky showed that he was as coldblooded as Stalin, even if his early expulsion gave him less opportunities for killing. The Kronstadt massacre was not just some minor mistake that Trotsky made, as portrayed by Trotskyist writers; on the contrary it was the crucial way of impressing on the whole country that, although the local soviets (workers' councils) had been used to seize power, henceforth power would not belong to the soviets, that it would instead be wielded by the centre: the "democratic" centre; it meant that the union of "Soviet" socialist republics was a myth right from the start.

The Soviet Union was supposed to be based on workers "taking control" of the workplace, but the Kronstadt massacre, ordered by Trotsky, put an end to that illusion: kronstadt.html.

Trotsky's failure to attend Lenin's funeral: stalin.html.

(9) Trotsky advocates use of Hostages, Blocking Units, and Concentration Camps

Dmitri Volkogonov, Trotsky: The Eternal Revolutionary, tr. & ed. Harold Shukman, HarperCollinsPublishers, London 1996.

{p. 175} Repression was in Trotsky's view a component part of military structure, a method for educating both officers and men. A telegram he sent to the Revolutionary Military Committee of the Western Front in 1919 is characteristic: 'One of the most important principles of educating our army is never to leave a single crime or misdemeanour unpunished ... Repression must follow immediately upon a breach of discipline, for repression is not an end in itself, but is directed towards didactic, military aims ... Breaches of discipline and disobedience ... must be subjected to the harshest punishment.' It was Trotsky's belief that the threat of harsh punishment would compensate for the low level of awareness, conviction and training of the army rank and file. Curiously, like Lenin, Trotsky regarded consciousness as the foundation of discipline, yet he stressed that fear and arrest should be used to instil discipline.

He told his commanders to set an example in the field, but also to command with an iron fist and not to flinch from using their weapons to maintain order. When someone pointed out to him that not all commanders and commissars had revolvers, he at once cabled Lenin: 'The absence of revolvers creates an impossible situation at the front. It is impossible to maintain discipline without a revolver. I suggest Comrades Mironov and Pozern requisition revolvers from everyone who is not on active duty.' The threat of punishment gradually entered the structure and functioning of the army, and also entered people's minds as a moral norm, 'revolver law', the revolutionary imperative, proletarian necessity.

{p. 178} Former tsarist offficers continued to go over to the Whites, nevertheless. In response, Trotsky instituted hostage-taking. On 2 December 1918 he cabled the Revolutionary Military Council at Serpukhov:

{quote} I ordered you to establish the family status of former officers among command personnel and to inform each of them by signed reccipt that treachery or treason will cause the arrest of their families and that, therefore, they are each taking upon themselves responsibility for their families. That order is still in force. Since then there have been a number of cases of treason by former officers, yet not in a single case, as far as I know, has the family of the traitor been arrested, as the registration of former officers has evidently not been carried out at all. Such a negligent approach to so important a matter is totally impermissible. {end quote}

Similar reports and orders were sent by Trotsky to other army chiefs. To Kazan he cabled:

{quote} 11th Division has revealed its utter uselessness. Units are still surrendering without a fight. The root of the evil is in the command staff. Obviously, the [Regional Military Commissar] has concentrated on the combat and technical side and forgotten about the political. I suggest a strict watch be kept on recruited personnel and that command responsibilities be given only to those former officers whose families reside within Soviet borders, and that they be informed by signed receipt that they are responsible for the lives of their families. {end quote}

{p. 179} Former officers themselves were also held as hostages, and many would be shot when one of their fellow ex-officers went over to the Whites. Trotsky asked Dzerzhinsky to let him know whether there were 'still any former officers who had been taken hostage in concentration camps and prisons. If so, where are they and how many?' Any method was appropriate, in Trotsky's view, if it prevented the disintegration of the Red Army. He formulated the hostage policy in an order of 2 November 1919: 'Families of traitors must be arrested at once. Traitors themselves must be registered in the army's black book, so that after the imminent and final triumph of the revolution, not a single traitor can escape punishment.' In 1920 he ordered that 'families found guilty of aiding Wrangel will be deported beyond the Baikal'.

When on 25 October 1918, however, Trotsky proposed at the Central Committee that all officers being held hostage be set free, it was decided that only those 'who did not belong to the counter-revolution' would be released. 'They will be recruited into the Red Army, at which time they will submit the names of their family and be told that the family will be arrested, should they go over to the White Guards.' According to Denikin, however, rumours about treason and treachery were exaggerated. In two years, he received reliable information from a former general of the Soviet headquarters staff that only one case of material significance had occurred for certain.   The most difficult category to make fight was the rank and file. Trotsky relied particularly on Communists and commissars, and on the whole his expectations were fulfilled, although not invariably. There were cases when entire units abandoned their positions and fled the field of battle. With Moscow's approval, Trotsky took the major decision of placing blocking units behind unreliable detachments, with orders to shoot if they retreated without permission. Thus, when Stalin applied this policy in 1941-42, he was merely applying the experience of the civil war under new conditions.

Blocking units appeared for the first time in August 1918 on the eastern front in 1st Army under the command of Tukhachevsky, who was the first to issue orders to shoot. In December 1918 Trotsky ordered the formation of special detachments to serve as blocking units. On 18 December he cabled: 'How do things stand with the blocking units? As far as I am aware they have not been included in our

{p. 180} establishment and it appears they have no personnel. it is absolutely essential that we have at least an embryonic network of blocking units and that we work out a procedure for bringing them up to strength and deploying them.'

{Trotsky gave the order, "lock up suspicious characters in concentration camps"}

{p. 211} Terrorism and Communism was the title of a book Trotsky published in 1920 in Petrograd in response to one Kautsky had brought out in Berlin in 1919 under the same name. Together, the two books provide

{p. 212} an eloquent comparison of attitudes from opposite ends of the spectrum of European social democracy. Throughout the two hundred pages of his polemical argument, Trotsky employed language that had become characteristic of Russian political argument: Kautsky was a 'hypocritical conciliator', 'unworthy falsifier', 'besmircher' and 'total zero', among many other things. Trotsky's counter-arguments, meanwhile, exposed just how wrongheaded were many of the notions he shared with the rest of the Bolshevik leadership and which they had enshrined in law.

Trotsky attacked Kautsky for complaining about Soviet practice, while failing to offer an alternative:

The Bolsheviks were not alone in the arena of the Russian revolution; we have seen and still see - whether in power or in opposition- SRs (no less than five groupings and tendencies), Mensheviks (no less than three tendencies), Plekhanovites, Maximalists, Anarchists ... Abso- ;; lutely all 'shades of socialism' - to use Kautsky's language - have tested ;l their strength and shown what they want and what they are capable of ... The political keyboard ought to be wide enough for Kautsky t o find an appropriate Marxist tone for the Russian revolution. But he is silent. He cannot stand the Bolshevik melody which offends his ears, but he doesn't look for another. The conclusion is obvious: the old ballroom pianist doesn't want to play the instrument of revolution at all.49

In a sense, Trotsky was right: to a social democrat who believed in the constructive nature of social and economic reform, the revolution was an irrelevance.

When composing his reply to Kautsky, Trotsky asked Tomsky to provide him with some statistics to help him 'smash Kautsky for good'.50 Kautsky, who had espoused the doctrine of the dictatorship of the proletariat before the turn of the century, recoiled from its Russian manifestation as 'coercion of the majority by the minority'. In support of Kautsky, Potresov wrote: 'Only Kautsky has raised the issue of the incompatibility of the proletarian socialist revolution and violence ... The dictatorship of the proletariat is totally obsolete, it is a tribute to the past.'51 Kautsky had written that only by achieving a majority in parliament could social democracy open a path to socialist change. To this Trotsky replied:

{p. 213} In order to write a pamphlet on the dictatorship [of the proletariat], one needs an inkwell and a batch of paper, and maybe a few ideas in one's head. But in order to establish and consolidate a dictatorship [of the proletariatJ, one has to prevent the bourgeoisie from undermining the state power of the proletariat. Kautsky obviously thinks it can be done with some whining pamphlets ... [Whoever] rejects terrorism in principle, i.e. pressurizing and intimidating methods against fierce and armed counter-revolution, must also reject the political supremacy of the working class and its revolutionary dictatorship. Whoever rejects the dictatorship of the proletariat, rejects the social revolution and abandons hope of socialism.52

In practice, this meant Trotsky's issuing orders, such as one he sent to the military commander at Vologda on 4 August 1918: 'Root out the counter-revolutionaries without mercy, lock up suspicious characters in concentration camps - this is a necessary condition of success ... Shirkers will be shot, regardless of past service ...'53 The message was clear, whether it was for Kautsky or a Red Army commander at the front: there would be no socialism without violence and coercion. Trotsky and the other leaders genuinely believed that they possessed the 'revolutionary right' to determine the lives of millions of people, though many doubted the existence of such a right. Even Boris Savinkov, himself a past advocate of coercion, could write: 'The Russian people does not want Lenin, Trotsky and Dzerzhinsky, not just because the Communists are mobilizing and shooting people, seizing their grain and ruining Russia. They don't want them for the simple reason that ... no one elected them.'54 Trotsky shared Lenin's view that only the Communists could express the workers' interests, and it was from this belief that all of Bolshevik privilege and self-importance sprang. Speaking at a conference of Communist military school cells on 10 December 1922, Trotsky declared: 'We say, following Napoleon, that every Red Army man and every recruit has a marshals baton [in his knapsack], but we also say that the baton is given only to Communists.'55

{The Bolsheviks moved into the daschas (country houses) they had evicted the aristocrats from. Trotsky had his own palace and great estate, with a personal physician, a large staff, good food, and luxury cars. Not at all like Snowball in 'Animal Farm'. It's lucky Orwell didn't know, or he might never have been inspired to write that book or 1984}

Thus, a group of people who had not been elected or appointed by the people quickly learned how to manipulate the people's interests and needs to their own advantage. They also soon learned how to exploit the privileges and benefits for which they had recently so harshly attacked the tsarist ruling elite. It was considered natural for

{p. 214} every leading figure to have his own country house - in Trotsky's case the palace and great estate at Arkhangelskoe, a thirty-minute ride from Moscow, that had belonged to the Yusupovs - a personal physician, a large staff, good food, luxury automobiles, and so on. When Trotsky went to the Crimea in October 1922 on routine business, he was accompanied by a large security force and two automobiles for which two extra railcars had to be attached to the train.56, Kautsky, in his book, had identified democracy as the sole means to achieve the ideals of socialism. Trotsky's response was mocking:

History has not turned the nation into a debating society where the transfer to socialist revolution is passed by a polite vote of the majority. On the contrary, violent revolution was necessary precisely because the urgent demands of history were powerless to cut a path for themselves through the apparatus of parliamentary democracy ... When the Russian Soviet regime dispersed the Constituent Assembly, it seemed to the leaders of Western social democracy if not exactly the end of the world, then at least a crude and arbitrary break with the entire socialist past.57

In defence of Kautsky, Potresov had written: 'By their demonstrative dispersal of the Constituent Assembly, by their universal destruction of liberty, by establishing an offficially permitted way of thinking, the Bolsheviks since the very first days of their statehood injected into the public mind a spirit that is hostile to democratic civil society.'58

Trotsky could declare unequivocally that 'it is triply hopeless to try to come to power by way of parliamentary democracy.'

To Kautsky's call for new elections to the Constituent Assembly, Trotsky replied that this would not happen 'because we see no need for the Assembly. If the first Constituent Assembly could still play a momentary progressive role by sanctioning the Soviet regime convincingly for the petty bourgeois elements ... the fact is the Soviet regime does not need the blessing of the Constituent Assembly's tarnished authority.'59

Trotsky was even harsher in his response to Kautsky's views on the use of terror, or the use of coercion. Lamenting the widespread idea that 'terrorism is the essence of revolution', Kautsky had written: 'The revolution brings us terrorism practised by socialist governments. The Bolsheviks in Russia embarked first on this course and have therefore

{p. 215} been roundly condemned by all socialists who do not take the Bolshevik point of view.' He then attacked the system of hostage-taking. Trotsky replied: 'The form of repression or its degree is of course not a question of principle. It is a pragmatic question ... The widespread use of shootings in the civil war is explained by this simple, but decisive fact ... Only someone who rejects in principle (in words) all and any violence, and therefore any war or any uprising, can condemn state terror by the revolutionary class on "moral" grounds. And to do so one simply has to be a hypocritical Quaker.'60 Red terror, he argued, was often provoked by White terror, but he failed to recognize that, by rejecting the social democratic path of reform, the Bolsheviks had, willingly or otherwise, limited their own choice of methods. For Trotsky, revolution was synonymous with violence, which, like Kautsky, he called terror.

Kautsky had also raised the question of the role of the Party and its attitude to the peasant issue, arguing that by substituting the dictatorship of the Party for the dictatorship of the Soviets and in 'destroying or driving other parties underground', the Bolsheviks had eliminated the possibility of political competition. Trotsky replied: 'The Bolshevik-Left SR bloc, which lasted a few months, ended in a bloody rift. True, as far as the bloc was concerned, the rift cost our unreliable fellow-travellers more than it cost us.' A regime of alliances, agreements, deals and concessions did not appeal to Bolsheviks in principle, Trotsky admitted.61 In relation to the peasants, he claimed, the monopoly of power had made possible a number of harsh lessons for the kulaks and middle peasants, as a result of which 'the fundamental political goal has been achieved. The mighty kulak class, if it has not been completely destroyed, has been deeply shaken, its self-confidence undermined. The middle peasants, who lack political form, are starting to see the leading workers as their representatives.'62

{Trotsky advocates Forced Labour - 'labour conscription'}

Trotsky expressed himself most fully at the Third All-Russian Trade Union Congress of April 1920 when he addressed the question of the methods to be used in building the new society. A Menshevik delegation of thirty-three, headed by Dan, Abramovich and Martov, attended and vigorously opposed Trotsky's report. Abramovich was especially irreconcilable, and roundly condemned Trotsky's basic idea of forced labour. If socialism required the militarization of labour, he exclaimed, 'how does it differ from Egyptian slavery? The pharaohs

{p. 216} built the pyramids by forcing the masses to work.' Universal compulsion, the social democrats perceived, represented a major threat to socialism in general. After emigrating to the West (first to Berlin in I920, then to France and finally to the USA in 1940), Abramovich kept up the struggle against Bolshevism, but he also attempted to enter into a dialogue with them. At the beginning of 1926 the foreign department of OGPU reported that he had attempted to meet Soviet representatives to discuss the return of Mensheviks to the USSR to participate in the work of building socialism. According to the agency report, Abramovich himself did not expect that such negotiations would succeed.63 Other contacts were made. On the eve of the publication of Stalin's 1936 Constitution, Dan and Abramovich wrote an open letter to the All-Union Congress of Soviets, stating that the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks had 'common goals' and differed only over methods. The path proposed by the Mensheviks, they claimed, had been more viable because 'it would have protected the toiling masses from suffering and sacrifice, and maintained the chance to build democratic socialism'.64 The dwindling Menshevik party abroad was still trying to bring the Soviet Communists 'back to democracy'. Despite their title - 'The Foreign Delegation of the RSDLP' - these were the last Mohicans of Russian social democracy. Trotsky never revised his negative view of them.

The speeches Trotsky made at the Trade Union Congress of 1920, and which had been approved by the Politburo, were interesting - however deeply flawed their reasoning - because their author was like no other leader, his arguments, style and content being original, inimitable and striking. Dressed in tight leather, his hair still abundant, calculating the effect of his gestures, his pauses and intonation, he was every inch the military commissar from the front. (As early as 1918, he had cabled Sklyansky to send him a new leather uniform and boots.65) He opened his speech in an original way by declaring that 'as a rule, man tries to avoid work ... You might say that he is a rather lazy animal,' and from this he deduced that 'the only way to attract the labour force needed for economic tasks is by introducing labour conscription'.66 The argument would have been unanswerable had it applied to a crisis, but in fact it was applied as a fundamental principle and for a long time to come: '[We] must make it clear to ourselves once and for all that the very principle of labour conscription

{p. 217} has replaced the principle of free labour as radically and irreversibly as socialization of the means of production has replaced capitalist ownership.'67 Trotsky's advocacy of forced labour evokes Abramovich's question as to how such a form of socialism differed from Egyptian slavery.

Translating his thoughts on labour conscription into practical measures, Trotsky said: 'The movement of mobilized labour must be effected over the shortest distance. The number of mobilized workers must correspond to the scale of the economic job in hand. Tools and food supplies must be secured for mobilized [workers] in good time ... Mobilized [workers] must feel sure when they are at work that their labour is being used prudently ... Wherever possible direct mobilization should be substituted by a labour task, that is, by imposing on a district the obligation to deliver, say, so many cubic [metres] of firewood by such and such a date, or to transport so many [kilograms] of pig-iron to such and such a station by cart and so on.'68 The armed forces, which were gradually being run down as the civil war approached its end, were used as the starting point for this process, and Trotsky oversaw the conversion of at least seven full armies into labour forces. Translated into Stalinist terms, such notions acquire a horrific meaning and remind us that Trotsky was one of those who initiated totalitarian coercion in theory and practice.

To Menshevik objections that forced labour was always unproductive, Trotsky retorted that the shift 'from bourgeois anarchy to socialist economy without a revolutionary dictatorship and without coercive forms of economic organization' was unthinkable. He described the Menshevik programme as 'the Milky Way, without a grain monopoly, without eliminating the market, without a revolutionary dictatorship and without the militarization of labour'.69

Even allowing for the circumstances in which Trotsky read his report, it is plain that the Bolsheviks were not simply seeking a way out of the country's profound crisis, but were also laying the foundations of the totalitarian system. It was precisely during those years - the New Economic Policy was merely an attempt to introduce a correction - that the new society was initiated. Trotsky was not solely responsible for what was done, but with Lenin and the rest of the Bolshevik leadership he was an interpreter of Marxism in Russian conditions.

{p. 342} The longer the Bulletin continued to exist, the more hatred it generated in the dictator, who on a number of occasions irritably asked his intelligence chiefs 'when they would end this slander of socialism?'57

As war approached, Stalin felt Trotsky's jabs with growing sensitivity. In the spring of 1939 Trotsky published two articles in a single issue which drove Stalin into a frenzy. They were entitled 'Hitler and Stalin' and 'Stalin Surrenders'. From Mexico, where he was no settled, Trotsky could observe the diplomatic game in which Stalin was engaged with Germany and the Western democracies. Each party wanted to guarantee its own security at the cost of the other. It was not yet clear how the game would end, but Trotsky declared that 'a rapprochement between Stalin and Hitler is most likely': they were two dictators who understood each other. Such an understanding, he believed, would be dangerous for everyone. 'Over the last three years,' he wrote, 'Stalin has labelled every one of Lenin's comrades-in-arms agents of Hitler. He has destroyed the flower of the command staff, shot, replaced or exiled around 30,000 officers [the real number was more than 43,000] - all on the same charge, namely that they were agents or allies of Hitler. Having destroyed the Party and decapitated the army, Stalin is now openly advancing his candidature as Hitler's chief agent.'58

Analysing the international situation from within his reinforced stockade in Coyoacan, Trotsky often indulged in wishful thinking, saw what he wanted to see, including a place for himself in the great, game. In January 1940 he published a routine article on 'The Dual Star: Hitler-Stalin'. Correctly defining the international situation he noted that in the event of a war between Germany and the USSR, it was quite possible that both dictators would be swept away by a revolutionary war launched by their respective peoples. He quoted what the French ambassador in Moscow, R. Coulondre, had apparently said to Hitler on 25 August 1939: in case of war the real victor would be Trotsky. And he claimed, on the basis of a newspaper report, that 'Under the cover of darkness, revolutionary elements in Berlin, are putting up posters in the working-class districts saying "Down

{p. 343} with Hitler and Stalin!" and "Long Live Trotsky!"' He added, 'It's lucky Stalin doesn't have to black Moscow out at night, otherwise the streets of the Soviet capital would also be covered with equally meaningful posters.'59

At times, isolated as he was in his Mexican stronghold, Trotsky lost contact with reality. Still conditioned by the old dogmas, he believed that the world war might end in world revolution, and then the sixty-year-old revolutionary might get his last historical chance. Although he devoted most of his attention to his struggle with Stalin, Trotsky also persisted in his attempt to create an international Communist organization that could become an alternative to the one centred in Moscow. Thanks to his efforts, on the eve of the war Trotskyist groups were to be found in more than forty countries. They were, however, small in scale and quite unable to attract workers, not that this dampened Trotsky's zeal in any way.

The October 1933 issue of the Bulletin was devoted to the need to create a Fourth International, and all the articles were by Trotsky himself. Shortly before this time, Lev Sedov, representing the left Soviet opposition, and delegates from the German Socialist Workers Party and the Independent Socialist Party of Holland, signed a declaration outlining the principles of the emerging Fourth International, the basic one being that the Third International was incapable of carrying out its historic role. Commenting on this document in 'The Class Character of the Soviet State', Trotsky drew a number of conclusions. He stressed that the Twelfth Party Congress had been 'the last congress of the Bolshevik Party. The subsequent congresses have all been bureaucratic parades ... No normal "constitutional" paths for the removal of the governing clique now remain. The only way to compel the bureaucracy to hand over power to the proletarian vanguard is by force.' Stalin would henceforth use this assertion on every possible occasion to justify his mass terror, by accusing Trotsky of trying to change the existing system in the USSR by forceful means.

Trotsky, however, remained true to himself. In demonstrating the timeliness of the Fourth Intemational, he was simultaneously asserting that 'only in the circumstances of the victorious development of world revolution is the root-and-branch reform of the Soviet state possible.' Now a new ingredient was added to the older idea of the inevitability of world revolution: that it was permissible to use force

{p. 344} to get rid of 'bureaucratic absolutism' in the USSR, to create a new party in a state that would itself have been transformed fundamentally. It was the task of the Fourth International to accomplish all these aims.

{p. 483} All his life Trotsky thought in terms of epochs, continents and revolutions. When he addressed crowds of thousands of workers, peasants and soldiers he created the impression that he was bringing the future closer with his words.

{p. 484} It seemed that the speaker in his shiny leather outfit was a free man, who was capable of achieving the impossible. The intoxicating power of the Idea captivated not only Trotsky but millions of others. Some became accustomed to believing part of it. Others saw in the revolutionary idol a chance to change the world for the better, while yet others were simply caught up in the momentum of the revolutionary upheaval.

Trotsky wrote a large number of books and articles, yet it is impossible to find in them any explanation of his fanatical faith in Marxism and the revolution. Berdyaev asks: 'Why did Trotsky become a revolutionary, why did socialism become his faith, why did he devote all his life to social revolution?'3 These questions are nowhere answered satisfactorily in Trotsky's writings, but it may be said that the faith he held, and which went beyond rational explanation, was close to fanaticism. All his strivings were aimed towards revolution, and while such dedication implied great mental strength, it also denoted a great weakness: strength because such people are capable of influencing human life, and weakness because they are prisoners of the Idea. They do not have the capacity to change or adapt to new circumstances. For such people this kind of Marxism is a revolutionary religion. Their values, however, are not the universal human values of the world's great religions, but are embodied in the dictatorship of the proletariat, the class struggle and the unlimited predominance of a single party.

Trotsky was the prisoner of the Communist idea. When he wrote on 27 February 1940 in his testament, 'My faith in the Communist future of mankind is no less ardent, indeed it is firmer today, than it was in the days of my youth,' he was not mouthing a ritual formula. What were the consequences of this 'imprisonment'? Why should blind, fanatical devotion to the Idea lead to defeat, and how was this expressed in Trotsky?

First of all, he recognized only social revolution, and despised reformism. He never questioned the Leninist thesis that the transfer of power from one class to another was the fundamental sign of a revolution in every sense. The historic fallacy of this notion consists in speaking of the dominance of a class, not of the people, while in fact it is impossible to achieve justice by placing one class above others. We ourselves have witnessed that infinitely more can be achieved by means of reform. The revolutions that have taken place in Europe at

{p. 485} the end of the twentieth century are all based on non-violent reform and have given rise to such terms as 'the velvet revolution'. In the Bolshevik ideology such evolution was rejected at the outset, and Trotsky was one of the most consistent advocates of the 'traditional' violent solution of world problems. Shortly before his death he declared: 'The only worthy way for mankind to develop is by the path of socialist revolution.'5 He was indeed a prisoner of the Idea, but he had chosen this path for himself.

In the draft of his speech to the Ninth Party Congress, entitled 'Routine Tasks of Economic Construction', Trotsky wrote that what was needed was 'regular, systematic, persistent and harsh struggle against labour desertion, in particular by publishing lists of penalties for desertion, by creating penal workers' teams out of deserters, and finally imprisoning them in concentration camps'.6

It is not too far fetched to suggest that such methods eventually became a normal means of 'socialist construction'. In March 1947 the Minister of the Interior, S. Kruglov, reported on the camps to Beria: 'In the second quarter there will be a need to build for a further 400,000 people. We shall have to allocate 50,000 to Dalstroy [the Far East], 60,000 to BAM [the Baikal-Amur Railway], 50,000 to Special Construction, 50,000 to logging camps, 40,000 to Vorkuta-Ukhta-Norilsk, and 100,000 to make up for losses [i.e. those who had died]. I request that the additional obligation to supply this labour force not be placed on the Ministry of the Interior at the present time.'7 Despite the astonishing scale of the repressions, there were still not enough slaves. Such was the logic of violence: from the militarization of labour to penal labour teams and thence the Gulag industry.

Trotsky did not differ from the other leaders about the role of the Party in the socialist revolution. He firmly believed, with Lenin, in the dictatorship of one party, and in its monopoly on power, ideas and all decision-making, the very factors leading to the emergence of totalitarianism. Speaking on 7 December 1919 at the Seventh Congress of Soviets, he declared: 'I must say that in the form of our commissars and leading Communists we have a new order of Samurai, who without caste privileges will know how to die and will teach others to die for the cause of the working class.'8 Within four years he would change his position somewhat, and would speak against the 'bureaucratization of the Party organization' ...


(10) Jews "formed the largest and most important group of victims of the Stalinist purges" - Benjamin Ginsberg

Benjamin Ginsberg, The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State (University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1993)

{p. 53} Stalinist Russia is a notable example of a regime that had been closely identified with Jews, whose non-Jewish leadership turned to anti-Semitism to deflect opposition, subordinate its Jewish allies, and forge new alliances that would help it to consolidate its power. As we saw earlier, in the aftermath of the Bolshevik revolution, Jews played an extremely prominent role in the Soviet regime. During the struggles that followed Lenin's death in 1924, however, anti-Semitic appeals to the Communist Party's rank and file were among the weapons used by Stalin to defeat Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev and seize the party's leadership.

Indeed, much of the invective used by Stalin in the intraparty battles of this period was designed to appeal to anti-Semitic sentiment inside and outside the party. For example, the label, "left oppositionist," used by Stalin to castigate his enemies, was a euphemism for Jew. In a similar vein, Stalin's advocacy of the doctrine of "socialism in one country" was partly designed to limit the influence of foreign Jewish Communists who often had ties to Jewish Communists in the Soviet Union itself.

During the 1930s, Stalin moved to consolidate his power by intimidating or eliminating all potential sources of opposition within the Communist party, the army, the secret police, and the administrative apparatus. Jews exercised a great deal of influence within all these institutions and, as a result, formed the largest and most important group of victims of the Stalinist purges. Jews consituted about 500,000 of the ten-million purge victims of the 1930s and comprised a majority of the politically most prominent victims.

In a series of show trials, during this period, the key Jewish officials of the Communist party and Soviet state were accused of plotting against the revolution and were systematically killed. These included Kamenev, Zinoviev, Radek, and Rykov. Important Jewish

{p. 54} military commanders such as Yakir and Schmidt were also liquidated. The secret police forces used to implement these purges often were led by Jews who were killed in their turn, until the influence of Jews within the secret police was substantially diminished. Those liquidated included Yagoda, Pauker, Slutsky, and the Berman brothers.

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