The Soviet Union experienced a period of political turmoil at the end of the 1930s. This escalated in a series of trials known as the Moscow Trials. Nowadays the Trials are often characterized as fraudulent, that the accused were innocent of all wrong doings and victims of frame-ups. What is the reality of the situation? Is there any validity to these claims?
In this article I will be discussing the events leading up to the Trials and the Moscow Trials themselves.
1927-1928 Party Debates & Factional Struggles
In the 10th Party Congress Lenin had proposed a ban on factional groupings inside the party as they went against the organizing principles of Bolshevism, Democratic Centralism. Democratic Centralism means that in any given topic everyone has freedom of speech to express their opinion, but once a decision is reached everyone must uphold the rule of the majority. If after having lost the debate on a given issue a factional grouping still continued to insist on their own policy despite the party majority deciding against it they would probably be expelled from the party. Either accept the Party’s principles or be expelled.
“In the practical struggle against factionalism, every organisation of the Party must take strict measures to prevent all factional actions… ensure strict discipline within the Party and in all Soviet work and to secure the maximum unanimity in eliminating all factionalism…”
–Lenin, “Summing-Up Speech On Party Unity And The Anarcho-Syndicalist Deviation”
Lenin’s ban on factions led to the suppression of various kinds of factional activities from the Syndicalists, Trotskyists and the Left-Communist Faction led by Bukharin and other groups. These groupings were forced to accept Democratic Centralism & party discipline if they wanted to stay in the party.
We move forward to 1927 when Stalin has out maneuvered his opponents. His policies are being accepted, he is recognized as the rightful leader of the party and the majority backs him. Trotsky’s Left Opposition has been ideologically defeated. Zinoviev & Kamenev who previously had been going back and forth about supportin Trotsky make an alliance of convenience with him and his supporters. This group becomes known as the United Opposition. An opposition grouping is tolerated within the party for a while but in October 1927 the United Opposition stages a demonstration separate from the rest of the Bolshevik Party, officially to commemorate the Revolution, but also to criticize the political line of the Party Majority and Central Committee led by Stalin. This is recognized as factionalism by the Party and many members of the United Opposition are forced to self-criticize or be expelled. Zinoviev & Kamenev capitulate and are allowed to stay. Trotsky refuses and is expelled. He is deported from the country a year later.
In exile Trotsky begins to write books and articles against the Soviet Union’s current leadership. He accuses the Soviet government of various wrongdoings and claims that he himself should have become the leader.
Trotskyist Conspiracy – Illegal “Bolshevik-Leninist” underground inside the USSR (1932)
”One fights repression by means of anonymity and conspiracy…”
–letter from Trotsky to Sedov
The oppositionists led by Trotsky would eventually be accused of treason, espionage & running an illegal anti-soviet underground organization inside the USSR in the Moscow Trials. Trotsky denied all charges. Trotsky famously claimed all the accusations were merely inventions of Stalin. More of this later.
In 1980 the pre-eminent Trotskyist researcher Pierre Broué was granted access to the Harvard Trotsky archive. There he made a startling discovery: among other documents he found items of correspondence between Trotsky, his son Leon Sedov and Trotsky’s secretary Van Heijenoort. In this correspondence Broué found that Trotsky & his allies were discussing first the formation and then the running of a secret organization inside the Soviet Union.
This corraborated the Soviet accusations atleast to some degree. More shocking to a devoted Trotskyist like Broué was that Trotsky & Sedov had lied to all their supporters, indeed the entire world. The opposition Bloc of Trotskyists was entirely real – not a “Stalinist invention.”
It was then discovered that the Harvard Trotsky archive had been purged. Items had been removed. This was a closed archive meaning only certain Trotskyist researchers had been previously given access mainly Isaac Deutscher, a famous Trotskyist who wrote a massive biography on Trotsky’s life. Trotsky’s wife had also been given access. They form the most obvious candidates for the censoring of the archive of sensitive materials.
”…The proposal for a bloc seems to me to be completely acceptable.”
–letter from Trotsky to Sedov
”The bloc is organised, it includes the Zinovievists, the Sten–Lominadze Group and the Trotskyists (former capitulators). The Safar–Tarkhan* Group have not yet formally entered they have too extreme a position; they will enter very soon…. [T]he I.N. Smirnov Group, Preobrazh. and Uf…”
–letter from Sedov to Trotsky
”As far as the illegal organisation of the Bolshevik-Leninists in the USSR is concerned, only the FIRST STEPS have been taken towards its re-organisation.”
–letter from Trotsky (Dec. 16 1932) (emphasis added, Bolshevik-Leninist was a term Trotsky used for his supporters, Trotskyists—FB)
Broué‘s findings were published in his book, The “Bloc” of the Oppositions against Stalin in the USSR in 1932. Despite the fact that this was truly a bombshell revelation these findings were not given much attention, indeed many Trotskyists deny the existence of the Opposition Bloc to this day. Mainstream historians also largely continue to imply that the Bloc was Stalin’s invention and fabricated. The discovery did spark interest in the new school of Soviet Studies, among historians like J. Arch Getty who also visited the Trotsky archive and came to the conclusion that it had been censored.
But if the materials left in the archive proved at least part of the allegations at the Moscow Trial, then what about the missing materials? Trotsky, his Son & his secretary vehemently denied the existence of the Bloc claiming it to be a Stalinist lie. Trotsky’s secretary never mentioned it in his memoirs written well after Trotsky’s death. Same goes for Trotsky’s biggest advocate Isaac Deutscher who was allowed to go through the archive yet continued to insist there was no secret underground organization or Bloc.
This is what they said publicly:
“Of course the Russian Bolshevik-Leninists, didn’t enter into any kind of bloc.”
–Sedov, The Red Book
While this was what they actually did secretly:
”…The proposal for a bloc seems to me to be completely acceptable.”
–letter from Trotsky to Sedov
”The bloc is organised…”
–letter from Sedov to Trotsky
Naturally when accused of a crime anyone will profess innocence regardless if they are actually innocent or guilty. All this demonstrates that Trotsky’s claims of innocence are worthless. Certainly he was running an illegal organization inside the USSR. As for the other charges, it will have to be determined based on evidence.
”The indictment dates the conclusion of the bloc in 1932 as the starting point of the “terrorist activity” of the accused. From their side, Trotsky and Sedov denied that the bloc even existed.”
–Pierre Broué (The “Bloc” of the Oppositions against Stalin in the USSR in 1932)
“It is clear, then, that Trotsky did have a clandestine organization inside the USSR in this period and that he maintained communication with it. It is equally clear that a united oppositional bloc was formed in 1932”
(Getty, Origins of the Great Purges: The Soviet Communist Party Reconsidered, 1933-1938)
Political Assassinations – Murder of Sergei Kirov (1934)
“Stalin must be killed!”
“Stalin… is crushing the country … Inplacable hatred is accumulating around him, and a terrible vengeance hangs over his head… An assassination attempt? It is possible that this regime… will ultimately suffer individual terror. One can add that it would be contrary to the laws of history that the gangsters in power not be subject to acts of vengeance…”
In 1934 head of the Leningrad organization of the Soviet Communist Party, Sergei Kirov was assassinated by a gunman. The killer, a party member, Leonid Nikolaev attempted to commit suicide before being captured but failed.
In the interrogation he initially claimed to be a lone gunman, but eventually testified to being part of a conspiracy of political assassinations by the underground Trotskyist-Zinovievite Bloc.
In response to these grave allegations Trotsky accused Stalin of masterminding the murder himself. However, there is no evidence to justify Trotsky’s claim. Both Khruschevite de-stalinization- & Gorbachev’s glasnost-era researchers attempted to compile evidence that Stalin killed Kirov, but nothing was found. In fact Kirov was a close collaborator of Stalin’s and naturally a target for politically motivated terrorists.
“Over the years, there were three, and perhaps four, “blue ribbon” investigations of the Kirov killing… Khrushchev and Gorbachev wanted to pin it on Stalin and all of them handpicked
their investigators accordingly. Having been able to acquaint myself with archival materials from these efforts, it is clear that none of the three investigations produced the desired conclusions. In particular, the Khrushchev and Gorbachev-era efforts involved massive combing of archives and interviews and failed to conclude that Stalin was behind the killing. Stalin’s effort, of course, concluded that the opposition did it and was the basis for the Moscow trials.”
–Arch Getty (the H-RUSSIA discussion list August 24, 2000)
There was no obvious reason why Stalin would have wanted to falsely accuse the Oppositionists of this crime at this point. The Trotskyist underground Bloc had not been uncovered yet, certainly Stalin had no idea that Zinoviev, Kamenev etc. were members in it. It was largely the Kirov murder that sparked the investigation leading to these discoveries. The Oppositionists were politically powerless and marginalized in the legal party & state apparatus of the USSR. They had no chance to challenge Stalin’s political line. They were only dangerous in one capacity, as members of an illegal anti-soviet conspiracy.
However Stalin did not know of any such conspiracy at that time, so why frame the Opposition Bloc? Indeed, he didn’t even know the Opposition Bloc truly existed until it was discovered by the NKVD in connection with the Kirov investigation!
Is it conceivable that one of the leaders of the Party gets shot by a lone gunman? It is within the realm of possibility, but considering the facts the other option seems far more likely. There is no good evidence to doubt Nikolaev’s admission of guilt, one could merely say it alone is inconclusive. We will return to this point later.
After the Kirov murder and the discovery of the secret Bloc of Trotskyists the charges against the conspirators kept on mounting. Zinoviev & Kamenev were among the first to be tried, already arrested in connection with the Kirov murder. However they would be tried in connection with a broader conspiracy to overthrow the government. The charges against the defendants included sabotage, espionage, conspiring with foreign powers and planning & committing political assassinations.
Alexander Zinoviev (no relation to Grigory Zinoviev) was a political dissident in the USSR and was eventually exiled from the country. In 1939 he was accused of a plot to murder Stalin as part of an underground organization, but was eventually released.
He spoke of those years after the fall of the Soviet Union, actually admitting to his guilt.
“I was already a confirmed anti-Stalinist at the age of seventeen …. The idea of killing Stalin filled my thoughts and feelings …. We studied the ‘technical’ possibillities of an attack …. We even practiced. If they had condemned me to death in 1939, their decision would have been just. I had made up a plan to kill Stalin; wasn’t that a crime? When Stalin was still alive, I saw things differently… Until Stalin’s death I was anti-Stalinist”
–Alexander Zinoviev (The remorse of a dissident: Alexander Zinoviev on Stalin and the dissolution of the USSR
The fact that he was arrested by the NKVD but released due to lack of conclusive evidence or confession argues against the idea that the Oppositionists were merely framed by the Soviet government. Not only was Alexander Zinoviev released and therefore not framed but he also admits his guilt, being an unwitting part of an underground group. This seems to demonstrate that the investigation was fair, the accused was innocent until proven guilty.
Clearly the notion of political assassinations was not invented by Stalin. Alexander Zinoviev admits his guilt. He wasn’t tortured into confessing by the NKVD, the NKVD doesn’t even exist anymore. Despite their best efforts Khruschev, Gorbachev, the capitalists – nobody has been able to find evidence that Stalin had Kirov killed. Trotsky’s claim is therefore false. Nikolaev the assassin confessed to being part of an Opposition group, exactly like Alexander Zinoviev did.
Mark Zborowski, an NKVD agent managed to infiltrate Trotsky’s organization and became Sedov’s second in command. He reported to Moscow that Sedov & his followers were planning assassinations of Stalin & Voroshilov.
“Trotsky’s and Sedov’s staffs were thoroughly infiltrated, and Sedov’s closest collaborator in 1936, Mark Zborowski, is said to have been an NKVD agent. In 1936, the 1932 bloc would be interpreted by the NKVD as a terrorist plot…” (Getty, Origins)
Jules Humbert-Droz, a Swiss Communist and political ally of Bukharin wrote in his memoirs about their last meeting in 1929. Bukharin had told him they were planning to assassinate Stalin. He had objected, and they had split over this. His memoirs were published in 1971, well after De-Stalinization had claimed Bukharin was innocent:
“Before leaving I went to see Bukharin for one last time not knowing whether I would see him again upon my return. We had a long and frank conversation. He brought me up to date with the contacts made by his group with the Zinoviev-Kamenev fraction in order to coordinate the struggle against the power of Stalin. I did not hide from him that I did not approve of this liaison of the oppositions:
“The struggle against Stalin is not a political programme…This bloc is a bloc without principles which will crumble away before achieving any results.”
“Bukharin also told me that they had decided to utilise individual terror in order to rid themselves of Stalin. On this point as well I expressed my reservation… Bukharin doubtlessly had understood that I would not bind myself blindly to his fraction whose sole programme was to make Stalin disappear. This was our last meeting.”
(‘De Lénin à Staline, Dix Ans Au Service de L’ Internationale Communiste 1921-31’)
G. A. Tokaev was a member of a conspiratorial anti-communist group within the Soviet Red Army who defected to the British in 1948. He wrote about his activities openly and unrepentantly. His group was connected to other Opposition underground groups, met with Bukharin and knew about the Trotskyist-Zinovievite conspiracy against Kirov in Leningrad:
“Stalin aimed at one party dictatorship and complete centralisation. Bukharin envisaged several parties and even nationalist parties, and stood for the maximum of decentralisation. He was also in favour of vesting authority in the various constituent republics and thought that the more important of these should even control their own foreign relations. By 1936, Bukharin was approaching the social democratic standpoint of the left-wing socialists of the West.”
–Tokaev, Comrade X. Publisher, Harvill Press, 1956 p. 43
“Bukharin wanted us to act with greater determination. We were to snatch the initiative from the hands of the Stalin-Molotov-Kirov triumvirate…”
–Tokaev, Betrayal of an Ideal. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1955
Tokaev unrepentantly said that Kirov brought the assassination upon himself by his work against the Zinovievists in Leningrad and purging the Party of Right-Wingers:
“The principal initiators of the 1933 purge were Stalin and Kirov, and of the two Kirov was the more responsible. He had already tried out purging in his own sphere in Leningrad. Indeed, that is what cost him his life. I have good reason to put on record that it was not in 1934, as the official Kremlin reports of the trial of the so-called “Leningrad Centre” suggest, but in the spring of 1933 that his assassination was first mooted, and that by men who should have known better… [i]t was not remarkable that the oppositionists of Leningrad fastened their hatred on him. When the assassin, Nikolaev, at his first cross-examination declared that the Leningrad opposition had its own special accounts to settle with Kirov, he was only being just.” –Tokaev, Grigori. Ibid.
“Our group had planned to assassinate Kirov and Kalinin, the President of the Soviet Union. Finally, it was another group that assassinated Kirov… In 1934 there was a plot to start a revolution by arresting the whole of the Stalinist-packed 17th Congress of the Party… A comrade from the group, Klava Yeryomenko, proposed in mid-1936 to kill Stalin… there had already been no less than fifteen attempts to assassinate Stalin, none had got near to success, each had cost many brave lives” –Tokaev, Comrade X
The right-wing conspirators of Tokaev regretted that Bukharin was caught. The Trotskyist Radek gave himself up and confessed to the NKVD:
“[Radek] provided the culminating ‘evidence’ on which Bukharin was arrested, tried and shot …. We had known of Radek’s treachery at least a fortnight before (Bukharin’s arrest on October 16, 1936), and we tried to save Bukharin…”
–Tokaev, Comrade X. (p. 68)
Discovery of the Trotskyist Organization (1935 – 1936)
The NKVD makes a startling discovery. Inside the Soviet Union there exists a secret Trotskyist-Zinovievite underground conspiring to overthrow the Soviet government. Naturally everyone knew there were ex-Trotskyists, opposition groups and other similar forces in the country. However this new group was different, it was an illegal conspiratorial bloc, not a political opposition.
Also shocking was that old Opposition leaders like Zinoviev & Kamenev were among its leaders, together with ex-Trotskyists like Smirnov. Indeed these ex-Trotskyists were in reality still Trotskyists, only secretly. Trotsky continued to claim that he had no agreement with the Oppositionists and had had no contact with them since 1927. This turned out to be false – the bloc itself was in routine contact with Trotsky.
Much of the NKVD investigative materials are still classified in Russia so we do not know all the evidence they had. We have some of the testimonies describing the Trotskyite Bloc, its contact with Trotsky and naming some of it’s members which are confirmed by the materials from the Harvard Trotsky Archive.
Zinoviev, Kamenev, Preobrazhensky, Smirnov and others were directly named as members of the Conspiratorial Bloc in Trotsky’s correspondence discovered by trotskyist historian Pierre Broué.
Radek & Sokolnikov were named in mailing receipts of Trotsky’s correspondence which were discovered in the Trotsky archive by Getty. The actual letters had been removed from the archive by a person or persons unknown before it was opened to researchers.
“The Left Opposition was always an intransigent opponent of behind-the scenes combinations and agreements. For it, the question of a bloc could only consist of an open political act in full view of the masses, based on its political platform. The history of the 13-year struggle of the Left Opposition is proof of that.” (Sedov, Red Book, Chapter 9)
Broué commented on Sedov’s passage:
“This text, written right after the first Moscow trial, stands in complete contradiction to the 1932 document in secret ink in Sedov’s handwriting and that attests to the existence of the “bloc” and of the negotiations he was carrying on with the “Trotskyists” in the USSR; with Trotsky’s letter approving the formation of the “bloc” as an alliance, not a unification; and with the comments of Trotsky…”
(Broué, The Bloc of the Opposition against Stalin)
“On July 11, 1928, during the violent debates that took place before the collectivization, Bukharin held a clandestine meeting with Kamenev. He stated that he was ready to “give up Stalin for Kamenev and Zinoviev’, and hoped for ‘a bloc to remove Stalin'”
—Foundations of a Planned Economy, 1926–1929. By Edward Hallet Carr and R.W. Davies
In his confession, Bukharin said:
“The trio (Bukharin—Rykov—Tomsky) became… an illegal counter-revolutionary organization … close to this illegal center was Yenukidze, who had contact with this centre through Tomsky… About the autumn of 1932 the next stage in the development of the Right organization began, namely the transition to tactics of a forcible overthrow of Soviet power… terrorism, steering a course for a direct alliance with the Trotskyites. Around this time the idea of a “palace coup” was maturing in the Right circles… This was when the political bloc with Kamenev and Zinoviev originated.
In this period we had meetings also with Syrtsov and Lominadze… In the summer of 1932, Pyatakov told me of his meeting with Sedov concerning Trotsky’s policy of terrorism.”
(“Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet “Block of Rights and Trotskyites”)
We can be certain Bukharin spoke fairly accurately as even evidence outside the Soviet archives corraborates it. Zinoviev & Kamenev, Lominadze etc. were named in Trotsky’s letters which were discovered in 1980. Yenukidze is confirmed as a member of the right-wing conspiracy also by Tokaev.
Tuchkachevsky Affair & Military Conspiracy (1936)
“You are wrong to tie the fate of your country to countries which are old and finished, such as France and Britain. We ought to turn towards new Germany… Germany will assume the leading position on the continent of Europe” –Marshall Tukhachevsky (Geoffrey Bailey , The Conspirators)
“[P]ro-German statements made by Tukhachevsky in Western European countries during his trip to Britain became known in France and Czechoslovakia… The information that such an important figure as Tukhachevsky took a pro-German stand caused grave concern in Paris and Prague. The two governments notified the Soviet Government about Tukhachevsky’s statements.”
–Yuri Yemelianov, “The Tukhachevsky Conspiracy”
“The Moscow press announced that… (the accused generals) had been in the pay of Hitler and had agreed to help him get the Ukraine. This charge was fairly widely believed in foreign military circles, and was later substantiated by revelations made abroad. Czech military circles seemed to be especially well informed. Czech officials in Prague bragged to me later that their military men had been the first to discover and to complain to Moscow that Czech military secrets, known to the Russians through the mutual aid alliance, were being revealed by Tukhachevsky to the German high command.” –Anna Strong, The Soviets Expected It. New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 134
“People of the French Deuxieme Bureau told me long ago that Tukhachevsky was pro-German. And the Czechs told me the extraordinary story of Tukhachevsky’s visit to Prague, when towards the end of the banquet – he had got rather drunk – he blurted out that an agreement with Hitler was the only hope for both Czechoslovakia and Russia. And he then proceeded to abuse Stalin. The Czechs did not fail to report this to the Kremlin, and that was the end of Tukhachevsky – and of so many of his followers.”
–Alexander Worth, quoted in Harpal Brar, Perestroika: The Complete Collapse of Revisionism (1992)
The NKVD discovered a network of traitors inside the Soviet Red Army centered around Marshall Tukhachevsky. In his letter Marshall Budyanni describes the interrogation of one of the members of the military conspiracy:
“PRIMAKOV very stubbornly denied that he led a terrorist group consisting of SHMIDT, KUZ’MICHEV and others, against com. VOROSHILOV. He denied this on the basis that, he said, TROTSKY had entrusted him, PRIMAKOV, with a more serious task – to organize an armed uprising in Leningrad. . . PRIMAKOV did not, however, deny that he had indeed earlier led a terrorist group and for that purpose had recommended SHMIDT to the post of commander of the mechanized corps. In connection with this special assigment of TROTSKY’S, PRIMAKOV worked on the 25th Cavalry Division with the divisional commander ZYBIN. According to him ZYBIN was assigned to meet TROTSKY at the border once the rebels had taken over Leningrad.”
–Letter from Marshall Budyonny to Commissar for Defense Kliment Voroshilov (June 26, 1937)
Both Voroshilov & Budyanni were close associates of Stalin’s. If they had framed Tukhachevsky together they would not discuss the investigation in the manner they do. Also, if accused Primakov was framed he would probably not insist that he was not currently member of a terrorist group but instead a military conspiratorial one as both are equally illegal.
On top of that Primakov admits to being part of a terrorist group previously, just not currently. This lends credibility to his testimony. Both the investigative materials, and Budyanni’s letter were never intended for publication and didn’t come out until decades later so lying in them would be pointless.
In this connection the Shvernik Report should be mentioned. It was a report compiled by a Khruschev era commission whose goal was to gather materials that could be used to disprove the guilt of Tukhachevsky, to prove that Stalin had framed him. Unfortunately for Khruschev the commission failed to find such evidence but instead it found further evidence of Tukhachevsky’s guilt. Among some of the materials dicussed in the Shvernik Report is a telegram from a Japanese military attaché to his superior in Japan testifying to secret contact with a representative of Marshal Tukhachevsky, corraborating the Moscow Trial testimony. The Shvernik Report went unpublished at the time as it didn’t achieve what Khruschev wanted it to.
The notion that there could have been a military conspiracy is deemed unbelievable by Trotskyists and Anti-Communists. They dismiss evidience against Tukhachevsky and say his testimony cannot be trusted. I will point out the case of general Vlasov, who defected from the Red Army to the German side in 1941 saying he wanted to “…build a New Russia without Bolsheviks or capitalists ….”
(Vlasov and Vlasovites. New Times 44 (1990), pp. 36-40. “Why I embarked on the road of struggle against Bolshevism “)
This is eerily similar to Tukhachevsky’s rhetoric. Vlasov was never arrested by the Soviets and gave this testimony of his own volition from the safety of the West. Another such example was Colonel Tokaev who defected to the British.
The case file of Tukhachevsky is still classified. The last person known to have read it is Colonel Victor Alksnis, relative of one of the people involved in the Trial. He said:
“My grandfather and Tukhachevsky were friends. And grandfather was on the judicial panel that judged both Tukhachevsky and Eideman. My interest in this case became even stronger after the well-known publications of procuror Viktorov, who wrote that Iakov Alksnis was very active at the trial, harrassed the accused. . . . But in the trial transcript everything was just the opposite. Grandfather only asked two or three questions during the entire trial. But the strangest thing is the behavior of the accused. Newspaper accounts claim that all the defendants denied their guilt completely. But according to the transcript they fully admitted their guilt. I realize that an admission of guilt itself can be the result of torture. But in the transcript it was something else entirely: a huge amount of detail, long dialogues, accusations of one another, a mass of precision. It’s simply impossible to stage-manage something like this. . . . I know nothing about the nature of the conspiracy. But of the fact that there really did exist a conspiracy within the Red Army and that Tukhachevsky participated in it I am completely convinced today.”
–Colonel Alksnis (Elementy, 2000)
From a further interview of Alksnis by Vladimir Bobrov:
Alksnis: I turned the pages of the transcript and had more questions than answers. I came away with the impression that, obviously, there had really been a conspiracy. But this is what struck me: in the transcript there are parts which attest to the sincerity of what the defendants said (no matter who claims that the trial was an organized show, that they worked on the defendants specially so that they would give the necessary confessions.) Imagine this. Let’s say, Tukhachevsky is telling about a meeting with the German military attaché in a dacha near Moscow and at that moment Primakov interrupts him and says “Mikhail Nikolaevich, you are mistaken. This meeting did not take place in your office at the dacha, but was on the veranda.” I think that it would have been impossible to “direct” things such that Tukhachevsky said precisely that and that Primakov would then make a correction like that.
Bobrov: Very well. But was there anything there that made you think that the trial had been scripted and directed anyway?
Alksnis: No, it would have been impossible to script and direct a trial such as is in the transcript.
Bobrov: That is, you wish to state that, having read the transcript, you did not find in it any traces of any kind of staging?
Alksnis: Yes, yes. On top of that all of them confessed, and when they all admitted guilt in their last words, stating that they had been participants in the conspiracy and knowing that after that execution awaited them, it is just impossible to imagine that they forced them all to make such admissions and declarations.
Bobrov: What was the main point of accusation of the “conspirators”?
Alksnis: Everything was there: espionage, preparation for a military coup, sabotage, wrecking.
Bobrov: And what does “espionage” mean? You were talking about the meeting at the dacha.
Alksnis: Yes, yes, with the German military attaché. They were talking about arranging coordination with the German military, contacts were going on with them.
Bobrov: One last question. In your interview with “Elementy” you talked about some kind of “cannon” that might shoot at our own times from back in the 30s. What did you have in mind?
Alksnis: If an objective research project on the events of those years were to be done, free of ideological dogmas, then a great deal could change in our attitude towards those years and towards the personalities of that epoch. And so it would be a “bomb” that would cause some problems. (Bobrov)
During the last years of his life, long after de-stalinization Molotov spoke about this issue in an interview with Feliks Chuev published in 1993 as Molotov Remembers. The Khruschev government had made de-stalinization official policy, similarly in the Gorbachev years it was political suicide to oppose the anti-stalin line. However Molotov did so anyway. He testified to the accuracy of the Trial findings:
“The right wing already had a channel to Hitler even before this. Trotsky was definitely connected to him, that’s beyond any doubt…. Many of the ranking military officers were also involved. That goes without saying.” (Molotov Remembers p. 275)
“CHUEV: He [Tukhachevsky] was accused of being a German agent.
MOLOTOV: He hurried with plans for a coup. Both Krestinsky and Rosengoltz testified to that. It makes sense. He feared he was at the point of being arrested, and he could no longer put things off. And there was no one else he could rely on except the Germans. This sequence of events is plausible. I consider Tukhachevsky a most dangerous conspirator in the military who was caught only at the last minute. Had he not been apprehended, the consequences could have been catastrophic. He was most popular in the army.
Did everyone who was charged or executed take part in the conspiracy hatched by Tukhachevsky? Some were certainly involved… But as to whether Tukhachevsky and his group in the military were connected with Trotskyists and rightists and were preparing a coup, there is no doubt.” (Molotov Rembers p. 280)
Is it really likely that Molotov was lying? For what possible reason? To defend himself? Surely not – these kinds of statements not only went against the western narrative but also the Gorbachevite narrative. Some will portray Molotov as a careerist, a hopeless yes-man who agreed to all of Stalin’s proposals merely to stay in power. But here he was attesting to the correctness of their policies even though he had nothing to gain from doing so, quite the opposite. Obviously he must have believed he was telling the truth and he chose to tell it even it meant trouble for him.
Chuev also interviewed Kaganovich and it was publisheds in 1992. Kaganovich corraborated Molotov’s statement. Here is what he said:
“[Chuev:] Perhaps there was misreporting in the organs of the NKVD.
[Kaganovich:] Exactly, this is what I would like to tell you, was it possible to check every detail? This was indeed a most complicated question. Where we were sure of the person’s innocence we defended him. In fact, I also went by this principle. It was only 20 years after the revolution after all, the white officers, kulaks and the Nepmen were all alive…
[Chuev:] Do you think that there could have been a counter-revolutionary sabotage in the 1930s?
[Kaganovich:] Of course there was such a threat, not only this there were also instances of terrorism…. The Fifth Column was at our doorstep. Without destroying them we could not have won the war. The Germans would have beaten us to pulp.”
–Feliks Chuyev, Thus Spake Kaganovich
One other point is worth mentioning. Tukhachevsky’s guilt is heavily implied by documents from the German foreign office discovered by historian Frederick Carsten in the 70s. However Carsten himself proposed the theory that the documents were the result of an attemp by the SS to frame Tukchavesky, presumably to weaken the USSR and cause de-stablization. Few noteworthy things about this:
1) If he was framed by the SS, it means the soviets didn’t deliberate frame him but merely wrongly believed him guilty. Carsten’s findings disprove the notion of Stalin framing Tukhachevsky. The Marshal was either framed by Germany, or guilty. 2) Some critics have claimed that the scarcity of documentary proof from German archives of the Tukchavesky conspiracy is proof it wasn’t real. This is a mistake in logic. In any case even these few documents only emerged in 1974, well after Hitler’s regime had collapsed. The scarcity of German documents proves very little and the documents we have argue in favor of the marshal’s guilt. And yet, even if one dismisses all the Soviet evidence and then dismisses the German evidence we still have compatible & corroborative evidence from Japan, Czechoslovakia and other sources.
Collaboration with Fascism
After the discovery of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite plot Nazedhna Krupskaya, Lenin’s wife, an Old Bolshevik & Revolutionary in her own right wrote about the subject:
“Trotsky… is now standing on the path of organising terrorist acts against Stalin, Voroshilov and other members of the Politburo, who are helping the masses to build socialism. It is not a matter of chance, therefore, that the unprincipled bloc of Kamenev and Zinoviev together with Trotsky have pushed them from one step to another into a deep abyss of an unheard betrayal of Lenin’s work, the work of the masses, the ideals of Socialism. Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev and their entire band of killers acted together with the German fascists, entered into a pact with the Gestapo.”
–Krupskaya, “Why Is the Second International Defending Trotsky?” (1936)
These were grave charges indeed. Trotsky from his side entirely denied all of them. After the second world war the leader of the Finnish Communists, O. W. Kuusinen, said:
“[T]he ruling circles of the imperialist countries didn’t limit themselves to ideological struggle against socialism. Alongside it they engaged in provocational attacks against the Soviet Union and organized treacherous sabotage and wrecking activity, which was carried out in the production facilities of the Soviet Union by bourgeois experts, trotskyites, zinovievites, bukharinites and nationalists.”
–”Missä on Stalin, siellä on voitto” (1949)
The diary of Georgi Dimitrov, supporter of Stalin and the head of the Comintern after 1935 was published in 2003. Dimitrov met with Stalin, Molotov Kaganovich, Voroshilov & Ordzhonikidze in the Kremlin regarding among other things the interrogation of the accused Sokolnikov:
“16 December 1936 – With “the Five” in the Kremlin.
Stalin, Molotov, Kaganovich, Voroshilov, Ordzhonikidze.
Exchange of opinions of Chinese events, the French Question. . .
Interrogation of Sokolnikov, 12 December 1936:
Question: Thus, the investigation concludes that Trotsky abroad and the center of the bloc within the USSR entered into negotiations with the Hitlerite and Japanese governments with the following aims:
First, to provoke a war by Germany and Japan against the USSR;
Second, to promote the defeat of the USSR in that war and to take advantage of that defeat to achieve the transfer of power in the USSR to their government bloc;
Third, on behalf of the future bloc government to guarantee territorial and economic concessions to the Hitlerite and Japanese governments. Do you confirm this?
Reply: Yes, I confirm it.
Question: Do you admit that this activity by the bloc is tantamount to outright treason against the motherland?
Reply: Yes, I admit it.” (Dimitrov 42-43, Quoted in Furr, Evidence of Trotsky’s Collaboration with Germany and Japan)
Sokolnikov was one of the people named in the mailreceipts found by Getty in Trotsky’s archive so we know he was part of Trotsky’s group. His testimony verifies the facts that already came out in connection with Tukhachevsky. This information was not used in the Public Trial and is now available via Dimitrov’s diary. The question is, would Stalin, Dimitrov, Voroshilov and others really have framed Sokolnikov? We already know Sokolnikov was at least guilty of conspiring with Trotsky and the picture painted by Dimitrov’s diary is that Stalin & others were genuinely curious about the proceeding of the NKVD investigation.
Dimitrov’s diary was only made public in 2003. If he wanted to lie – to cover for Stalin then he would have done so publicly, not in his personal diary that no one ever saw until after the collapse of the USSR.
As much of the material from Soviet Archives still remain classified we don’t have too many documents where Stalin & his associates discuss these matters privately among themselves. However we do have some.
In June 1937 on the eve of the C. C. Plenum Trotsky sent a telegram to the Central Executive Committee, the highest organ of the Soviet government. In this telegram he urged the CEC to betray Stalin and support him. The telegram says:
POLICY IS LEADING TO COMPLETE COLLAPSE INTERNAL AS WELL AS EXTERNAL. STOP. ONLY SALVATION IS RADICAL TURN TOWARD SOVIET DEMOCRACY BEGINNING WITH OPEN REVIEW OF THE LAST TRIALS. STOP. ALONG THIS ROAD I OFFER COMPLETE SUPPORT – TROTSKY.
This telegram didn’t reach the CEC before being intercepted by the NKVD which handed it to Stalin. Upon reading it he wrote on it the following words: “Ugly spy. Brazen spy of Hitler.” Stalin then not only signed his name under it but gave it to Molotov, Voroshilov, Mikoian, Zhdanov. After reading the telegram they signed their names in agreement with Stalin’s assessment.
If Stalin and his collaborators Molotov, Voroshilov etc. truly were framing Trotsky, then would they really call Trotsky a spy of Hitler even when no one else was present? This seems unlikely. The telegram was never made public, not to mention that Stalin’s and his associates comments on it were never made public. The obvious explanation is that they truly believed Trotsky was in league with Hitler.
The authenticity of the telegram has been verified. The question is what was Trotsky’s plan? It seems that he was preparing the stage for his return to power. Once the Soviet Union took heavy losses in a war with Germany, and the Trotskyist conspirators would cause pro-Trotsky rebellions among the troops, even having one of the five Soviet Marshalls and few generals on their side the ousted political Opposition consisting of Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Smirnov and others would take over. They would make a peace with the foreign powers granting them heavy concessions. Get rid of Stalin and his supporters, the so-called “bureaucracy” and implement what Trotsky considered “Soviet democracy”.
We also have for instance a written comment by Stalin criticizing the work of the NKVD upon reading the interrogation report for the accused Iakovlev’s wife Sokolovskaia.
According to the NKVD report Sokolovskaia wife to the interrogators:
“During the past five years Iakovlev has been undertaking active participation in the underground anti-Soviet organization that stood on Trotskyist positions.”
To which Stalin remarked:
“…What’s important is not Iakovlev’s and Sokolovskaia’s past activity but their sabotage and espionage work during the past year and the recent months of 1937. We also need to know why both of these scoundrels were going abroad almost every year. –J. Stalin.” (Lubianka)
Once again, if Stalin & the NKVD were framing Iakovlev and Sokolovskaia, if they knew the accused were really innocent but being framed, would they behave like this? Stalin sounds genuinely interested about the activities of the accused. Not to mention that this comment by Stalin was never made public either, he was not acting for an audience.
A further document of Stalin’s comments to the NKVD regarding Iakovlev contained the following handwritten points by Stalin:
“1) Did he know about Vareikis’ service with the Tsarist secret police?
2) His opinion about Mikhailov from Voronezh and his participation in the C.R. Org.
3) His contact with Trotsky (did he see him personally in 1935 or in 1934).
4) How did he want to use MOPR? Whom in MOPR did he make use of?
5) “Turn” Iakovlev’s wife: he is a conspirator and she must tell us everything. Ask her about Stasova, Kirsanova, and other friends – acquaintances of hers.” (Lubianka B 396)
-C. R. org. = short for Counter-revolutionary organization
-MOPR = International Organization for Aid to Revolutionaries. Soviet organization to aid Communists in other countries.
Obviously Stalin believed the confession of Iakovlev was real and not framed. There would be no sense to behave like this if Stalin & the NKVD had framed Iakovlev together.
Sokolnikov’s and Iakovlev’s wives both confessed to crimes and were found guilty. According to Dimitrov’s diary Stalin had told him: “We shall probably arrest Stasova, too. Turned out she’s scum. Kirsanova is very closely involved with Yakovlev. She’s scum.”
However neither Stasova or Kirsanova were found guilty of crimes despite Stalin’s suspicions against them because they were friends with the accused. This tells us a couple of things:
1) That the investigation didn’t simply frame anyone Stalin personally didn’t like or thought suspicious, they actually looked at the evidence and let these people go even though Stalin personally thought they were suspicious.
2) That Stalin obviously didn’t frame the accused. He believed Iakovlev, Sokolnikov and their wives guilty of conspiracy. He also suspected Kirsanova & Stasova but the evidence didn’t bear that out in the cases of the latter two.
Trotsky & the Secession of Ukraine
Immediately prior to the Nazi invasion of Poland Trotsky began arguing in favor of Ukrainian secession from the USSR & rebellion against the Soviet Union.
“To the totalitarian bureaucracy, Soviet Ukraine became an administrative division of an economic unit and a military base of the USSR… Kremlin’s attitude today is the same as it is toward all oppressed nationalities, all colonies, and semi-colonies, i.e., small change in its international combinations with imperialist governments… Not a trace remains of the former confidence and sympathy of the Western Ukrainian masses for the Kremlin… Only hopeless pacifist blockheads are capable of thinking that the emancipation and unification of the Ukraine can be achieved by peaceful diplomatic means… Since the latest murderous “purge” in the Ukraine… In my opinion there can be at the present time only one … slogan: A united, free and independent workers’ and peasants’ Soviet Ukraine…”
–Trotsky, Problem of the Ukraine
Trotsky called for a united soviet Ukraine but realistically all Communist forces in Ukraine supported Stalin while the opponents of Stalin were bourgeois nationalists and fascists. What kind of sense does it make to call for Ukraine to leave the USSR as Hitler was approaching it’s Western border? It would weaken the Soviet Union and hand Ukraine over to Hitler.
In his confession in 1936 Tukhachevsky tesfied:
“During the winter of 1935/1936, Pyatakov told me that Trotsky had now asked us to ensure the defeat of the USSR in war, even if this meant giving the Ukraine to the Germans and the Primor’ye to the Japanese. In order to prepare the USSR’s defeat, all forces, both within the USSR and outside the USSR would have to be made ready…”
Bukharin confirmed this:
“In the summer of 1934 Radek told me that directions had been received from Trotsky… that Trotsky had already promised the Germans a number of territorial concessions, including the Ukraine …. I objected to this… I considered it essential that he, Radek, should write and tell Trotsky that he was going too far… this point of view of Trotsky’s was politically and tactically inexpedient.”
–Bukharin (“Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet “Block of Rights and Trotskyites”)
In his testimony Pyatakov, another member of the Right-Opposition said:
Pyatakov: First, the German fascists promise to adopt a favourable attitude towards the Trotskyite-Zinovievite bloc and to support it if it comes to power, either in time of war, or before a war, should it succeed in doing so. But in return the fascists are to receive the following compensation: a general favourable attitude towards German interest and towards the German government on all questions of international policy; certain territorial concessions would have to be made, and these territorial concessions have been defined – in particular, mention was made of territorial concessions in a veiled form which were called “not resisting Ukrainian national-bourgeois forces in the event of their self-determination.”
Vyshinsky: What does that mean?
Pyatakov: It means in a veiled form what Radek spoke about here: should the Germans set up their Ukrainian government, ruling the Ukraine not through their German Governor-General but perhaps through a hetman – at any rate, should the Germans “self-determine” the Ukraine – the Trotskyist-Zinovievite bloc will not oppose it.”
This truly is what would most likely have happened. If Ukraine’s nationalist forces had seceded, Ukraine would have became an ally or an outright puppet regime of Nazi Germany. The notion that this kind of Ukraine would be a ‘free Soviet Ukraine’ is utterly laughable.
Trotskyists pointed out that there existed “Partisan” anti-Stalin groups in Ukraine. These groups in fact were of course Hitlerite Nationalists, not leftists. The Fourth international actually supported the OUN, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists which fought on the side of Hitler against the USSR. They used Trotsky’s writings to provide ideological justifications for this. They claimed that since the OUN had split between two factions, the Right-wing led by Stepan Banderra and the supposed “Left-Wing” led by Melnyk they were justified in defending the supposedly leftist Melnyk faction. In reality both the Banderist and Melnykist factions continued to collaborate with Hitler though had rivalries among each other. Melnyk was by no means a leftist, having fough against the Soviet Revolutionaries already in the civil and the Soviet Ukrainian war.
A Trotskyist publication, (Revolutionary History) states the following:
“To mention the Ukrainian question is commonly met with the raising of spectres of ‘Ukrainian Bourgeois Nationalism’ and ‘Nazi collaborators’. Sadly, such prejudices run deep, and have a tradition within Marxism as far back as Engels and Luxemburg. With the rise of Stalinism things have worsened to such a scale that it is at times difficult to get a rational and thoughtful discussion on the subject.
The Ukrainian question, to quote Trotsky, is being placed on the “order of the day and this time with redoubled force””
Apparently ‘Stalinism’ has caused leftists to be suspicious when giving lip-service to Nazi collaborators.
The Trotskyists continue:
“In the split that occurred between the left and right of OUN in 1940… the left… moved steadily to take on Socialist politics injected into it by the working class”
They even go so far as to defend the UPA , the military wing of the Nazi-collaborating Melnyk faction of the OUN which carried out a policy of ethnic cleansing against poles, jews and other minorities:
“[T]he UPA is accused of being “Fascistic” for the reason that during the war it waged an armed struggle against… Russian Stalinism. The UPA remains one of the most unknown revolutionary movements in Soviet history, deliberately portrayed by the Stalinists as collaborators…”
To these Trotskyists the UPA is a legitimate “revolutionary” movement who are apparently only seen as Fascistic because of alleged Stalinist propaganda! This is truly cringeworthy reading in the context of the recent Ukrainian fascist coup. These are UPA supporters. They are Nazis. The Ukrainian militant Neo-Nazi group Pravi-sector (right sector) has even adopted the UPA flag as their official flag.
This is the result of Trotsky’s writings, which state that anyone who opposes the Soviet Union with even the slightest quasi-leftist or quasi-revolutionary rhetoric is legitimate and worthy of support from the Trotskyists!
Trotsky consistently used propaganda which equated Stalin with Hitler or worse then Hitler, blaming Soviet Communism for Hitler and legitimizing opponents of the Soviet Union who in the case of Ukraine would be OUN fascists.
In his article on Ukraine he employed an interesting propaganda tactic, at first he seems to criticize Hitler but in fact he is only criticizing Stalin. Putting all blame on Stalin & saying that Hitler is only a response to Soviet crimes:
“…but for the rape of Soviet Ukraine by the Stalinist bureaucracy there would be no Hitlerite Ukrainian policy.” –Trotsky, “Problem of the Ukraine”
It is not at all surprising that Trotsky would make criticisms of Nazism even as he was helping Hitler. He was entirely willing to lie and do what ever it took to achieve his aims. More over in their substance his policies were not anti-Hitler but anti-Soviet & pro-Hitler. Of course Trotsky had no personal love Hitler, not did Hitler like the jew Trotsky. But they were useful for each other as they shared a common enemy.
Analysis of Trotsky’s Political Propaganda
“Adolf Hitler read Trotsky’s autobiography as soon as it was published. Hitler’s biographer, Konrad Heiden, tells in ‘Der Fuehrer’ how the Nazi leader surprised a circle of his friends in 1930 by bursting into rapturous praise of Trotsky’s book’… ‘Brilliant!’ cried Hitler, waving Trotsky’s ‘My Life’ at his followers. I have learned a great deal and so can you!'”
(Kahn and Sayers, The Great Conspiracy Against Russia)
Trotsky’s open political propaganda was naturally different from his clandestine conspiratorial activity. However both were meant to serve the same end: topple the Soviet government led by Stalin.
Tacit support for Fascism
Anything Trotsky said openly has to be looked at with skepticism as he was a proven liar but we can learn some things from his statements. For instance when he made weak criticisms of Nazism it is obvious he was not being honest, as he was collaborating with fascists himself. Still he was not a fascist, and in fact disliked fascism but still saw it as a convenient ally against the bigger enemy – Stalin’s government. For this reason even as he criticized fascism he emphasized how the Soviet Union was essentially as bad or even worse then fascism and tried to put the blame for fascist crimes on the Soviet Union. This would also help him seem like a genuine anti-fascist and not a collaborator even though he was one. What better plan to remove suspicion from himself then to accuse everyone else and claim to be the biggest anti-fascist of all.
“(I)n the last period the Soviet bureaucracy has familiarized itself with many traits of victorious fascism”
–Trotsky, “On the Eve of the Congress”
“(T)he Cominterm bureaucracy, together with social-democracy, is doing everything it possibly can to transform Europe, in fact the entire world, into a fascist concentration camp.”
–Leon Trotsky, Que signifie la capitulation de Rakovsky? (31 March 1934). La lutte, pp. 59-60.
Obviously this statement is baseless as the USSR was the biggest enemy of Fascism, fighting against Fascist Franco in 1936, Japan in 1938 & 1939 and in WWII and obviously it was Stalin’s USSR that defeated Hitler’s armies. Interestingly Trotsky here attacks Social-democracy while he would later attack Stalin for not supporting Social-democracy enough.
“Hitler’s victory … (arose) … by the despicable and criminal policy of the Cominterm.“No Stalin – no victory for Hitler.” … Stalinist Comintern, as well as the Stalinist diplomacy, assisted Hitler into the saddle from either side… the Cominterm provided one of the most important conditions for the victory of fascism… to overthrow Hitler it is necessary to finish with the Cominterm… Workers, learn to despise this bureaucratic rabble!” –Trotsky, “Are There Limits to the Fall?”
Here Trotsky is demanding the destruction of the Communist International but disguises this as a leftist position. He says to overthrow Hitler he must destroy the Comintern. This is a ridiculous statement as in reality to destroy the Comintern was to aid and unite with Hitler and his Anti-Comintern. Trotsky of course knew this. These writings by him were merely a tactic to fool his supporters who would have never done so otherwise, into opposing Soviet socialism and aiding Hitler.
Tacit support for terrorism
When it comes to Trotsky’s statements surrounding the Kirov murder we can notice a few basic components:
Trotsky essentially said Kirov got what he deserved. He briefly stated he was opposed to terrorism but obviously didn’t condemn this murder in any strong words, quite the opposite he voiced tacit support for it.
“(A) terrorist act prepared beforehand and committed by order of a definite organization is … inconceivable unless there exists a political atmosphere favorable to it. The hostility to the leaders in power must have been widespread and must have assumed the sharpest forms for a terrorist group to crystallize out within the ranks of the party youth …. If … discontent is spreading within the masses of the people … which isolated the bureaucracy as a whole; if the youth itself feels that it is spurned, oppressed and deprived of the chance for independent development, the atmosphere for terroristic groupings is created.” –Trotsky, “On the Kirov Assassination”
Trotsky said in no uncertain terms that the Soviet government Kirov was serving was so oppressive it spawned resistance from the workers. He continued to insist that the murder was carried out by worker Oppositionists whom Trotsky consirered legitimate. This is interesting as he would later after his plot failed, and his organization was crushed, accuse Stalin of orchestrating the murder himself.
“The reactionary bureaucracy must be and will be overthrown. The political revolution in the USSR is inevitable.”
–Trotsky, Le gouvernement soviétique applique-t-il toujours les principes définis il y a vingt ans? (13 Jan. 1938). La lutte, pp. 159-160.
One might ask how this statement is to be interpreted in context with assassinations. According to Trotsky Kirov was a Stalinist bureaucrat, who even deserved to be killed.
“The insane atrocities provoked by the bureaucratic collectivization methods, or the cowardly reprisals against the best elements of the proletarian vanguard, have inevitably provoked exasperation, hatred and a spirit of vengeance. This atmosphere generates a readiness among the youth to commit individual acts of terror ….” –Trotsky, Ibid
This kind of vitriol against the USSR seems hardly any strong condemnation of the terrorists, quite the opposite he makes every excuse for the terrorists and is very understanding towards their plight under Soviet rule! Trotsky says in no uncertain terms he saw the attack as a form of resistance by the oppressed citizens. Indeed, by a resistance group. The thing he didn’t say of course is that he was leading said group.
Overt support for the overthrow of the Soviet Union:
“The proletariat that made three revolutions will lift up its head one more time. The bureaucratic absurdity will try to resist? The proletariat will find a big enough broom. And we will help it.”
–Leon Trotsky, Pour sa propre sauvegarde, la bureaucratie entretient la terreur (26 September 1935). L’appareil policier du stalinisme (Paris: Union générale d’éditions, 1976), pp. 85-87.
Trotsky calls for an insurrection against the Soviet Union. But who were leading these insurrections? Kulaks, whites, bourgeois-nationalists & banderite Nazis. He is quite clear, this resistance work against the Soviet Union is to be continued & is to be organized inside the USSR!
“I cannot be ‘for the USSR’ in general. I am for the working masses who created the USSR and against the bureaucracy which has usurped the gains of the revolution … It remains the duty of a serious revolutionary to state quite frankly and openly: Stalin is preparing the defeat of the USSR.”
–Trotsky, A Political Dialogue, pp. 156, 158.
Here Trotsky chooses a softer tone. He claims to be helping the Soviet Union, and that it is not him who is sabotaging it’s defenses in favor of Fascism but Stalin.
“Only the overthrow of the Bonapartist Kremlin clique can make possible the regeneration of the military strength of the USSR …. The struggle against war, imperialism, and fascism demands a ruthless struggle against Stalinism, splotched with crimes. Whoever defends Stalinism directly or indirectly, whoever keeps silent about its betrayals or exaggerates its military strength is the worst enemy of the revolution, or socialism, of the oppressed peoples.”
–Trotsky, A Fresh Lesson: After the “Imperialist Peace” at Munich (10 Oct. 1938). Writings, vol.11, p. 68.
Whoever supports the Soviet government or the Communist international is according to Trotsky the worst enemy of socialism. So Hitler in fact is better, as he doesn’t support either of those things. Trotsky embraces the company of Hitler.
“I consider the main source of danger to the USSR in the present international situation to be Stalin and the oligarchy headed by him. An open struggle against them … is inseparably connected for me with the defense of the USSR.”
–Trotsky, Stalin After the Finnish Experience (13 March 1940). Writings, vol. 12, p. 160.
Apparently in Trotsky’s mind an open struggle against the Soviet government would strenghten it’s defenses! Obviously the main danger to the USSR was a foreign invasion, invasion which Trotsky was in fact supporting and even counting on. More of this later.
Trotsky, Japan & China
“VYSHINSKY: What did you and Trotsky say about your underground Trotskyite tasks?
BESSONOV: He imposed on his followers working in the diplomatic field the task of adopting the line of sabotaging official agreements in order to stimulate the interest of the Germans in unofficial agreements with opposition groups. “They will come to us yet,” said Trotsky, referring to Hess and Rosenberg. He said that we must not be squeamish in this matter, and that we might be ensured real and important help from Hess and Rosenberg. He said we must not stop short at consenting to big cessions of territory.
Radek: As regards Japan, we were told she must not only be given Sakhalin oil but be guaranteed oil in the event of a war with the U.S.A. It was stated that no obstacles must be raised to the conquest of China by Japanese imperialism.”
In their testimony some defendants explained that on top of promising territorial concessions (mainly in Ukraine) to Germany, Trotsky was also promising concessions to Japan. Access to natural resources, favorable trade and perhaps most importantly of all Trotsky would guarantee Japan freedom of activity in China and sabotage the Pro-Stalin Communist forces there.
On Trotskyist sabotage activity in China Mao Tse-Tung wrote:
“In the central districts of Hebei the Trotskyists organised a ‘Partisan-Company’ on the direct instructions of the Japanese headquarters and called it a ‘Second Section of the Eighth Army’. In March the two battalions of this company organised a mutiny but these bandits were surrounded by the Eighth Army and disarmed. In the Border Region such people are arrested by the peasant self-defence units which carry out a bitter struggle against traitors and spies.
Trotskyist agents are being sent to the Border Regions where they systematically apply all methods in their sabotage work against the cooperation of the Kuomintang and the Communist Party.”
–Mao Tse-Tung, “On the Use of Trotskyists as Japanese Spies in China” (1939)
Ho Chi Minh, also working with the Chinese Communist Party at the time wrote:
“In the past, in my eyes and those of a good number of comrades, Trotskyism seemed a matter of a struggle between tendencies within the Chinese Communist Party. That’s why we hardly paid it any attention. But a little before the outbreak of war, more exactly since the end of the year 1936 and notably during the war, the criminal propaganda of the Trotskyists opened our eyes.
The Chinese Trotskyists (like the Trotskyists of other countries) do not represent a political group, much less a political party. They are nothing but a band of evil-doers, the running dogs of Japanese fascism (and of international fascism)”
(“Three Letters from Ho Chi Minh”)
Trotsky, Spain & Italy
“Trotsky is the whore of fascism.”
In his testimony accused Krestinsky said:
“Trotsky arrived in Meran [Italy] around the 10th of October together with Sedov. . . For Trotsky, the questions which bothered us in Moscow were irrevocably settled and he himself proceeded to expound his instructions with regard to this. He said that as since 1929 we had developed into an organization of a conspiratorial type, it was natural that the seizure of power could be consummated only by force.”
“LEON TROTSKY IN ITALY: Leon Trotsky… visited the Roman ruins near Naples, Italy, before proceeding to Denmark for a lecture tour.”
—The Cornell Daily Sun, December 1932
As the Italian communist leader Antonio Gramsci rotted in Mussolini’s prison, Leon Trotsky was walking around quite freely.
After leaving Italy Trotsky travelled to Denmark to give a series of speeches. It is interesting to note that although he ostensibly called for the overthrow of the Soviet Union by the soviet working class themselves, he chose to give his speeches in English. In other words, his real objective was to convince the Western audience. These statements by Trotsky were widely published in the West, recordings were even made and shown widely in the Western media.
“M. TROTSKY IN DENMARK
Lecture Broadcast to America”
—Barrier Miner, Wed 30 Nov 1932
Trotsky knew his support among Soviet workers was insignificant at the present time. This is the main reason for him abandoning popular revolutionary struggle in favor of conspiracy. He wrote:
”One fights repression by means of anonymity and conspiracy… Loss of time is impermissible”
Trotsky sent his secretary Erwin Wolf to Spain on a mission to organize an uprising there. The pro-Trotskyite and anti-Soviet POUM together with some of the Anarchists they had managed to recruit to their services carried out an insurrection known as the Barcelona May Day in 1937. As Franco-Italian troops were marching against the Republicans The Trotskyists and their unwitting helpers staged a rebellion against Republican forces.
The rebellion was a failure and Wolf was arrested by the Spanish republican police. However this anti-Republican uprising contributed to the victory of fascist Franco backed by Mussolini and Hitler.
Many of the Moscow Trial defendents were accused of industrial sabotage to hinder the industrialization effort and defensive capability of the Soviet Union. Even these charges are denied entirely by Western anti-communists. However, at the time there was little doubt that there was much very real sabotage going on.
John Littlepage, American engineer who worked between 1928 and 1937 in the mines of Ural and Siberia. He was chosen as a specialist for a comission which was to carry out inspections in mining enterprises. He described the extent of the sabotage:
“[I]n 1928 I went into a power-station at the Kochbar gold-mines. I just happened to drop my hand on one of the main bearings of a large Diesel engine as I walked by, and felt something gritty in the oil. I had the engine stopped immediately, and we removed from the oil reservoir about two pints of quartz sand, which could have been placed there only by design. On several other occasions in the new milling plants at Kochkar we found sand inside such equipment as speed-reducers, which are entirely enclosed, and can be reached only by removing the hand-hold covers.
“Such petty industrial sabotage was – and still is – so common in all branches of Soviet industry that Russian engineers can do little about it…”
“I shall never forget the situation we found at Kalata. Here, in the Northern Urals, was one of the most important copper properties in Russia, consisting of six mines, a flotation concentrator, and a smelter, with blast and reverberatory furnaces.”
“[I]n the spring of 1932 … Soon after my return to Moscow I was informed that the copper-mines at Kalata were in very bad condition; production had fallen even lower than it was before I had reorganized the mines in the previous year. This report dumbfounded me; I couldn’t understand how matters could have become so bad in this short time, when they had seemed to be going so well before I left.
I never followed the subtleties of political ideas and manouvres …. (But) I am firmly convinced that Stalin and his associates were a long time getting round to the discovery that disgruntled Communist revolutionaries were the most dangerous enemies they had…
“My experience confirms the official explanation which, when it is stripped of a lot of high-flown and outlandish verbiage, comes down to the simple assertion that `outs’ among the Communists conspired to overthrow the `ins’, and resorted to underground conspiracy and industrial sabotage…”
–John D. Littlepage, In Search Of Soviet Gold (1937)
Pyatakov explained in his testimony that when he was responsible for purchasing various mining equipment for the Soviet government he had used this, under Sedov’s instructions as a way of embezzling money for the use of the Trotskyist Bloc by buying equipment at too high a price from two specifically selected German companies Borsig and Demag.
“Sedov said that only one thing was required of me, namely that I should place as many orders as possible with two German firms, Borsig and Demag, and that he, Sedov, would arrange to receive the necessary sums from them”
–Pyatakov (U.S.S.R. Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Centre)
This too was corraborated by Littlepage who at the time had made a report to the committee led by Pyatakov that the firms were apparently trying to trick to Soviets into paying too much.
“Piatakoff’s confession is a plausible explanation, in my opinion, of what was going on in Berlin in 1931, when my suspicions were roused because the Russians working with Piatakoff tried to induce me to approve the purchase of mine-hoists which were not only too expensive, but would have been useless in the mines for which they were intended.” –John D. Littlepage, In Search Of Soviet Gold (1937)
John Scott, an American engineer working in the Magnitogorsk steel complex wrote of his experiences in his book Behind the Urals. His view of the USSR was mixed, he was not a Communist though he saw the good things the industrialization was achieving and how the USSR’s economy was growing when the West struggled with the Great Depression.
Scott verified that there was much real sabotage in Magnitogorsk, especially because of the use of Bourgeois-specialists and kulak penal labor. He said:
“White armies, State employees from pre-war days, business men of all kinds, small landlords, and kulaks. All of these people had ample reason to hate the Soviet power, for it had deprived them of something which they had before. Besides being internally dangerous, these men and women were potentially good material for clever foreign agents to work with”
SOURCES & BIBLIOGRAPHY
Lenin, Summing-Up Speech On Party Unity And The Anarcho-Syndicalist Deviation
Trotsky’s letters about the Bloc:
Library of Harvard College 13905c, 1010, 4782 quoted in Pierre Broué’s The “Bloc” of the Oppositions against Stalin. Available at https://mltheory.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/on-the-existence-and-character-of-the-united-bloc-of-rights-zinoviev-ites-and-trotsky-ites/
Sedov, The Red Book
Getty, Origins of the Great Purges: The Soviet Communist Party Reconsidered, 1933-1938
Getty on the Kirov Murder:
Arch Getty, the H-RUSSIA discussion list August 24, 2000.
quoted here http://clogic.eserver.org/2009/furr.pdf
Alexander Zinoviev, The remorse of a dissident quoted here:
Jules Humbert-Droz’s statement:
‘De Lénin à Staline, Dix Ans Au Service de L’ Internationale Communiste 1921-31’
available at http://www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/rdv8n1/bukharin.htm
Tokaev, Comrade X. Publisher, Harvill Press, 1956 (page 43)
Tokaev, Grigori. Betrayal of an Ideal, Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1955
Letter from Marshall Budyanni to Commissar for Defense Kliment Voroshilov (June 26, 1937)
Colonel Alksnis interviews:
Elementy, 2000 & Bobrov, Vladimir L’vovich Transcript of a recorded conversation with Deputy V.I. Alksnis quoted here http://clogic.eserver.org/2009/furr.pdf
Molotov Remembers quoted here:
Trotsky, Problem of the Ukraine
Trotsky, On the Eve of the Congress
Trotsky, On the Kirov Assassination
Trotsky, Are There Limits to the Fall?
Trotsky, Pour sa propre sauvegarde, la bureaucratie entretient la terreur (26 September 1935). L’appareil policier du stalinisme (Paris: Union générale d’éditions, 1976), pp. 85-87.
Trotsky, A Political Dialogue, pp. 156, 158.
Trotsky, A Fresh Lesson: After the “Imperialist Peace” at Munich (10 October 1938). Writings, vol. 11, p. 68.
Trotsky, Stalin After the Finnish Experience (13 March 1940). Writings, vol. 12, p. 160.
Zborowski reports 8 feb. 1837 & 11 feb. 1938, quoted in Bertrand M. Patenaude, Stalin’s Nemesis
Tukhachevsky’s testimony published in Molodaia Gvardiia issue 10 of 1994 quoted here: http://clogic.eserver.org/2009/furr.pdf
Geoffrey Bailey, The Conspirators (page 215)
Yuri Yemelianov, The Tukhachevsky Conspiracy
Hitler read Trotsky’s Autobiography:
Konrad Heiden, Der Fuehrer: Hitler’s rise to power (page 318)
Anna Strong, The Soviets Expected It. New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 134 available here
Alexander Werth, quoted in Harpal Brar, Perestroika: The Complete Collapse of Revisionism (1992) p. 161 here:
Full book in Russian here:
Vlasov and Vlasovites. New Times 44 (1990), pp. 36—40. “Why I embarked on the road of struggle against Bolshevism” available here:
Frederick Ludwig Carsten, “New Evidence against Marshal Tukhachevskii” in ‘New Light On Old Stories About Marshal Tukhachevskii : Some Documents Reconsidered’
Trotsky’s telegram from Volkogonov Archive:
NKVD report about the interrogation of Iakovlev’s wife
Stalin’s comments to the NKVD report
Stalin’s further comments to the NKVD
M. Sayers, A. E. Kahn, The Great Conspiracy. The Secret War Against Soviet Russia
The Gramsci quote is from Togliatti, Palmiro, Selected Articles and Speeches. Vol. 1. Moscow: 1965.
“LEON TROTSKY IN ITALY” in The Cornell Daily Sun, December 1932
Krupskaya, “Why Is the Second International Defending Trotsky?” (1936)
Mao Tse-Tung, “On the Use of Trotskyists as Japanese Spies in China” (1939)
Ho Chi Mihn,”Three Letters from Ho Chi Mihn” (1939)
Kuusinen quote from”Missä on Stalin, siellä on voitto” (1949)
english translation & original finnish the quote available at:
Edward Hallett Carr. Foundations of a Planned Economy, 1926–1929, Volume 2 (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1971), Ibid. , p. 65 quoted in Ludo Martens, Another View of Stalin
Available here http://marxism.halkcephesi.net/Ludo%20Martens/node92.html
John D. Littlepage, In Search Of Soviet Gold (1937)
John Scott, Behind the Urals: An American Worker in Russia’s City of Steel (pp. 188-189)
Stalin & myth of the “old Bolsheviks”
Revolutionary leaders on Trotsky & Trotskyism
More about Alexander Zinoviev
More about engineer Littlepage’s experiences
Trotsky, Orwell & the FBI
Orwell, friend of POUM, snitch of Western intelligence services
Lies concerning the history of the Soviet Union – From Hitler to Hearst, from Conquest to Solzhenitsyn