Analyzing the Moscow Trials

Also check out my three articles explaining the Moscow Trials from beginning to end (part 1, part 2, part 3).


Apparently communist historian Grover Furr has a book called “Moscow Trials as Evidence”. I have not read the book (I’ll check it out some day). However, I have read all the transcripts of the trials themselves, and they indeed provide fascinating information.

Introduction

The vast majority of people who dismiss the Moscow Trials as a “fraud”, “frame-up” or “hoax”, have never read the trial material. It is also possible that many are not knowledgeable enough about the context to understand the trial material, even if they read it. The materials themselves are not difficult to understand, but if one is a) ignorant on the context and b) has a strong anti-communist bias, they might conclude that if there is something they don’t understand, or something which seems strange or far-fetched, then it must be fraudulent.

In actuality, however, the trial materials are absolutely believable. I strongly recommend everyone interested in the topic to actually read the materials. Almost everything in the trial materials is verified by independent evidence, or has a very logical and rational explanation (if one is not too blinded by bias). As a result the trials seem completely legitimate and truthful.

Of course, there are some details which are questionable. At every trial, defendants will always try to lie about certain things, they will forget things, get details wrong etc. This only further makes the trials more credible, because if there actually were absolutely zero contradictions or mistakes, it would suggest the thing could be scripted.

Why would someone believe the trials were a fraud?

The most common reason is simply that anti-communist historians claim the trials were a fraud. For most anti-communists this is the only reason. However, there are other possible reasons too, which are a bit more legitimate:

1) The accusations made at the trials seem extraordinary, at least if one is not familiar with the context or the motives and reasoning of the defendants. For those who are familiar with the defendants’ track record, their views and methods, the trial findings seem like a natural outcome of their past careers, and is only an escalation and “stepping up a notch” of the activity they were already doing in the past. For almost every accusation there is a precedent in the well-known past careers of the defendants. The more you know about the defendants and the facts surrounding the case, the more obvious their guilt seems. But in any case, the crimes (treason, espionage, terrorism etc.) are not ordinary every day crimes.

2) Many people think the defendants “were old Bolsheviks”, and “would not commit crimes like this”. Countless people have dismissed the trials on these grounds alone, but it is an argument entirely based on ignorance. Firstly, the status of the defendants as Old Bolsheviks is dubious at best. They had all committed various acts of treachery against Lenin, been in opposition to Lenin on countless occasions, for many years or even the majority of their careers, had opposed Lenin and Bolshevism in countless ways. Secondly, many of the defendants had engaged in acts very similar to those accused at the trials, already in the past, but usually (though not always) in less severe forms.

If one imagines the defendants as “Old Bolsheviks”, as “revolutionary Saints” who had always been nothing but loyal, and had never engaged in anything like this in the past, and if the crimes had been completely unprecedented, unheard of, and come entirely out of the blue, then it would indeed seem quite unbelievable. However, the opposite is the case. The defendants were a group of life-long oppositionists, and life-long professional underground conspirators, with a track record of similar acts. Stalin and all of his closest associates were also Old Bolsheviks. If the argument is that “Old Bolsheviks would never do anything wrong or terrible”, then we must conclude that Stalin must be entirely correct. The only difference is that Stalin and his associates were actually Old Bolsheviks in substance and not only in name. Stalin and his associates were never in opposition against Lenin. (See my article “Stalin & the myth of the ”Old Bolsheviks”” where I discuss this in more detail.)

3) Many people claim “the defendants would not unite with fascists, would not use terrorism” etc. because those positions are seen as un-marxist. However, this is also based on ignorance. The defendants all rationalized everything they did based on their own (albeit twisted) version of “marxism”. From the point of view of their worldview and their program, it all makes absolutely logical sense. Of course, their plan was still overly risky, adventurist, and unlikely to succeed. However, the plans of the Left-Opposition and the Trotskyist Opposition were always notorious for being adventurist, extremely risky, overly hasty, aggressive and, quite frankly, more like frenzied utopias of fanatics, rather then realistic and scientific plans.

The opposition (which the defendants belonged to for most of their careers) was also extremely well-known for flip-flopping on every conceivable position. To mention only some examples: Bukharin went from being the leader of the Left-Opposition to the leader of the Right-Opposition, from a main supporter of extremely left-policies during the civil war, to supporting the opposite policies only couple years later. Trotsky had changed his positions so many times that Lenin said “Trotsky, however, has never had any “physiognomy” at all; the only thing he does have is a habit of changing sides” (Lenin, The Break-Up of the “August” Bloc).

“Trotsky, on the other hand, represents only his own personal vacillations and nothing more. In 1903 he was a Menshevik; he abandoned Menshevism in 1904, returned to the Mensheviks in 1905 and merely flaunted ultra-revolutionary phrases; in 1906 he left them again; at the end of 1906 he advocated electoral agreements with the Cadets (i.e., he was in fact once more with the Mensheviks); and in the spring of 1907, at the London Congress, he said that he differed from Rosa Luxemburg on “individual shades of ideas rather than on political tendencies”. One day Trotsky plagiarises from the ideological stock-in-trade of one faction; the next day he plagiarises from that of another” (Lenin, The Historical Meaning of the Inner-Party Struggle in Russia)

“That is just like Trotsky! He is always equal to himself—twists, swindles, poses as a Left, helps the Right, so long as he can.” (Lenin to Inessa Armand, Labour Monthly, September 1949)

Trotsky had flip-flopped between various kinds of anti-Bolshevism for more then a decade, until he joined the Bolsheviks in 1917. Right before joining he had said at a conference of his group:

“I cannot be called a Bolshevik… We must not be demanded to recognise Bolshevism.” (Leon Trotsky, Mezhrayontsi conference, May 1917, quoted in Lenin, Miscellany IV, Russ. ed., 1925, p. 303.)

After joining the Bolsheviks Trotsky soon went into opposition against Lenin. By 1927 he had been expelled from the party, and he was advocating his own Trotskyist theories again, which strongly differed from the line of the party. To expect some kind of “Leninist orthodoxy” from these people is not logical.

Therefore, the argument that “the defendants would not do X, because they would think it un-marxist or un-Bolshevik” is not accurate. They supported one position one day, and the opposite position the next day, and always justified it by appealing to Marxism, or even to Bolshevism. The Trotskyists, Bukharinists and co. believed that they were the ones “creating Marxism”, they were the ones who would decide what Marxism means, they would decide what is Marxist and what is un-Marxist. Trotsky and Bukharin considered themselves to be theoreticians and authorities on Marxist ideology practically on the same level as Lenin, and certainly above everyone else.

They were also quite willing to re-interpret Marx himself, to say that “certain parts of Marx are outdated and must be revised” etc. According to Marxism-Leninism, the world had entered into a new stage of capitalism, and therefore new theories were needed. Trotskyists and Bukharinists agreed about this, but their theories were entirely different. They thought, if Lenin and Stalin can develop new theories, why couldn’t they?

There are signs that their view on terrorism was changing. Even in his public writings, Trotsky argued that “stalinism” had entered into a stage of “bureaucracy” which made terrorism inevitable, and practically justifiable, though he doesn’t say it openly:

“discontent is spreading within the masses of the people, for which the means of proper expression and an outlet are lacking, but which isolates 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 has a track record of not stating his actual positions openly. For example, during the Brest-Litovsk crisis, he did not have the courage to join the Left-Communist Opposition openly and to advocate for a “red holywar” (Bukharin’s words). Instead Trotsky advocated “neither peace nor war”, which in reality opposed Lenin’s demand to sign the peace treaty, and supported the Left-Communist position of not signing it.

Lenin was very familiar with Trotsky’s common tactic, which he followed throughout his entire career, of not stating his views clearly and openly, but covering them up with vague and radical phrases and using deception. About Trotsky’s dishonest and covert protection of right-opportunism and liquidationism Lenin said:

“All that glitters is not gold. There is much glitter and sound in Trotsky’s phrases, but they are meaningless… If our attitude towards liquidationism is wrong in theory, in principle, then Trotsky should say so straightforwardly, and state definitely, without equivocation, why he thinks it is wrong. But Trotsky has been evading this extremely important point for years… Although Trotsky has refrained from openly expounding his views, quite a number of passages in his journal show what kind of ideas he has been trying to smuggle in.” (Lenin, Disruption of Unity Under Cover of Outcries for Unity)

Bukharin and the Left-Opposition had also collaborated in the past with Left-SRs, who supported and used terrorism. They also advocated and attempted a coup’de’tat in 1918, which the Left-Opposition did not oppose in principle. Bukharin himself admitted this already in the 1920s, long before he was ever on trial.

Bukharin wrote in Pravda, January 3, 1924:

“I consider it my Party duty to tell about the proposal made by the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries at a moment of bitter factional struggle so as to paralyse that idyllic varnishing of the events of the Brest period which has been practised by the comrades of the opposition…”

“They depicted the Brest period in the Party as ‘the height of democracy.’ I know very well that this was a period when the Party was within a hair’s breadth of a split, and when the whole country was within a hair’s breadth of its doom.”

When the left-opposition “pointedly compared current norms with the free discussions during the Brest controversy, Bukharin tried to discredit the earlier period by disclosing that Lenin’s arrest had been discussed by Left Communists and Left Socialist Revolutionaries in 1918, and asserting that it had been “a period when the party stood a hair from a split, and the whole country a hair from ruin.”” (Stephen F. Cohen, Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: a political biography, 1888-1938, p. 156 quoting from Pravda, January 3, 1924, p. 5)

Someone might ask “didn’t the Bolshevik party of Lenin also have a brief alliance with the Left-SRs?” Yes they did, but in those days the Left-SR party was not the same. The Left-SR party was a wavering petit-bourgeois utopian socialist party which included many different elements. Only the terroristic and reactionary elements joined with the Right-SRs and Bukharin’s “Left-Communists”. The best elements of the Left-SR party opposed the reactionary coup. They created two new parties: the Narodnik Communists and Revolutionary Communists, which both soon dissolved themselves and simply joined the Bolshevik Party.

Zinoviev and Kamenev had also cultivated terroristic views among their supporters, which they admitted in 1935.

It is also often argued that Trotsky would find fascists so repugnant that he would never work with them, but in reality Trotsky was a calculating politician who was willing to work with any “enemy of his enemy” i.e. any enemy of Stalin. In Trotsky’s mind he was not really helping the fascists (at least not in the long run) but playing fascists and Stalin against each other, and Trotsky imagined he would be the true beneficiary. Trotsky had a long history of doing this. In exile from the USSR Trotsky was living on money provided to him by capitalists, he wanted to get political asylum in the USA and was willing to provide the US Secret Services information about communists and the USSR in exchange. The USA declined to give Trotsky asylum, but instead they kept in touch with him, assisting him, while Trotsky got asylum in Mexico. This has been revealed in documents released since the 90s.

“Trotsky and his staff began giving U.S. consular officials in Mexico information on communists and
alleged Comintern (Communist or Third International) agents in the U.S. and Mexico.” (Trotsky in Mexico: Toward a History of His Informal Contacts with the U.S. Government, 1937-1940, William Chase, p. 1)

“Trotsky also received periodic financial contributions from rich American sympathizers.” (Chase, p. 11)

Chase stated: “I can tell you we have concrete information that Leon Trotsky, too, was an informant of the US government.” (Trotsky and Rivera were informants of the US government – American Researchers reveal)

David Alfaro Siqueiros alleges that Trotsky received funds also from the American fascist Hearst Press (cf. “The Assault on the House of Leon Trotsky”)

Let’s take a look at the trials themselves. There are some particular points I want to comment on:

The Zinoviev-Kamenev Trial (1936)

I cannot give a full explanation here of trials or what the opposition was trying to do. I assume the reader of this article already has a pretty good idea. If not, check out my three part video or my three part blog article.

At the trial the Zinovievite Opposition was accused of planning to murder Stalin, Kirov and others. But why Kirov? Kirov had replaced Zinoviev as the Leningrad Party Secretary, and had basically decimated Zinoviev’s organization and replaced it with “stalinists”. That is a good reason to want Kirov out of the picture. The Zinovievites also believed they could kill Stalin, and after Stalin’s death there would inevitably emerge a power struggle, and Kirov was likely to win it. Therefore, it was necessary to kill Kirov and all the other “top stalinists”.

Counter-revolutionary terrorist Grigory Tokaev has independently corroborated this in his memoirs written after his defection to the West. Tokaev admitted to belong to an “opposition group which… had been forced to contemplate acts of political terror against both Kirov and Kalinin… Kirov was shot by yet another underground group.” (Tokaev, Comrade X, p. 2)

Tokaev was in contact with other terroristic groups. He stated:

“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, p. 49)

Bukharin’s colleague Humbert-Droz who later became an anti-communist has also verified that the Right-Opposition was planning to form a coalition to murder Stalin.

“I went to see Bukharin… 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… Bukharin also told me that they had decided to utilise individual terror in order to rid themselves of Stalin.” (Humbert-Droz, De Lénin à Staline, Dix Ans Au Service de L’ Internationale Communiste 1921-31)

At the trial the Zinovievites were accused of plotting to organize the arrest and killing of the entire “stalinist leadership” at the 17th Party Congress. This is also corroborated by Tokaev.

“In 1934 there was a plot to start a revolution by arresting the whole of the Stalinist-packed 17th Congress of the Party.” (Tokaev, Comrade X, p. 37)

Zinovievites and Trotskyists had formed a United Bloc in 1932 which also included many other groupings including Right-Oppositionists. However, nothing is mentioned about that at this trial. This will be an important piece of information later.

Some might claim that Zinoviev and Kamenev were honest and always spoke the truth, and that their denials were truthful, but they had already been put on trial in 1935 where they admitted moral guilt for Kirov’s murder, as they had cultivated anti-party and terroristic views among their supporters (the murderer had been a supporter of Zinoviev). However, at the trial in 1935, not only did Zinoviev and Kamenev not reveal that they had actually planned the murder, not only indirectly inspired it, but they also kept secret their contact with the Trotskyists and Bukharinists, and concealed the existence of the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites, which had been formed in 1932, as documents prove. They continued to try to hide the Bloc in the trial in 1936.

”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…”
(A letter from Sedov to Trotsky written in invisible ink, discovered by Pierre Broue, Library of Harvard College 4782)

The document also mentions by name I. N. Smirnov, Preobrazhensky and Ufintsev: “the I.N. Smirnov Group, Preobrazh. and Uf…” (Ibid.)

The Radek-Pyatakov Trial (1937)

At this trial of the famous Trotskyist Radek and the famous Left-Communist/Left-Oppositionist Pyatakov, the motivations and the program of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite United Opposition is explained in greater detail. Trotsky had claimed that building Socialism in One Country was impossible and that the Soviet industrialization would inevitably fail. Due to challenges and hardships in the struggle to industrialize, many oppositionists had accepted Trotsky’s view in 1928-33. The position of the Right-Opposition was also that rapid industrialization and building of Socialism were impossible. They found common ground with the Trotskyists. Pyatakov was a close colleague of Bukharin (the head of the Right-Opposition, and the previous head of the Left-Communist Opposition). The different oppositions were closely connected.

When the danger of a second World War increased, Trotsky argued that the USSR would inevitably lose the war to Japan and Germany. This position was accepted by many oppositionists in the mid 1930s.

“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” (Trotsky, A Fresh Lesson: On the Character of the Coming War, 1938)

Trotsky stated that Stalin fears the coming war because it will lead to his overthrow:

“The Soviet bureaucracy fears a great war more than any ruling class in the world: it has little to win but everything to lose… the Moscow bureaucracy itself will be thrown into an abyss before the revolution comes in the capitalist countries.” (Trotsky, The Second World War, 1940)

Radek explained, that since they believed the USSR would not be able to win the war, it was necessary to make agreements with foreign powers (UK, Poland, and mainly Japan and Germany), to make compromises. When those countries attacked the USSR, the oppositionists would take power, and they would already have agreements with those foreign powers. These agreements would grant foreign powers all kinds of concessions: territory, trade-deals, the ability to invest in the USSR (as had been done during the NEP) etc. The Opposition believed these concessions would save the USSR from disaster, and were also totally in line with the rest of their program.

They believed that Socialism could not be built in one country, and therefore it was necessary to restore the NEP. Foreign investment would perfectly fit with this. It is true that the Left-Communists and Trotskyists had previously opposed the NEP and preferred war-communism, but now they changed their minds. It is not surprising and not even particularly dishonest and not exceptionally unprincipled, their position had simply evolved. War-communism would not be applicable anymore, the European revolution of 1917-23 had ended, and the situation was entirely different.

According to the Oppositionists, because the USSR’s defeat in the war was considered inevitable, the correct position was “revolutionary defeatism”. This meant intentionally sabotaging the defensive capacity of the USSR to hasten the inevitable defeat. This is a twisted version of Lenin’s “revolutionary defeatism” and “turning imperialist war into civil war”. In the 1920s Trotsky had already advocated the so-called “Clémenceau Thesis”, which claimed that while the USSR was threatened by invading enemy armies, by capitalist encirclement, it was necessary to overthrow the government and thus save the country.

“What is defeatism? A policy which pursues the aim of facilitating the defeat of one’s ‘own’ state which is in the hands of a hostile class. Any other conception and interpretation of defeatism will be a falsification. Thus, for example, if someone says that the political line of ignorant and dishonest cribbers must be swept away like garbage precisely in the interests of the victory of the workers’ state, that does not make him a ‘defeatist.’ On the contrary, under the given concrete conditions, he is thereby giving genuine expression to revolutionary defencism: ideological garbage does not lead to victory!” (Trotsky’s letter to Orjonikidze, July 11, 1927)

“Examples, and very instructive ones, could be found in the history of other classes. We shall quote only one. At the beginning of the imperialist war the French bourgeoisie had at its head a government without a sail or rudder. The Clemenceau group was in opposition to that government. Notwithstanding the war and the military censorship, notwithstanding even the fact that the Germans were eighty kilometres from Paris (Clemenceau said: ‘precisely because of it’), he conducted a fierce struggle against petty-bourgeois flabbiness and irresolution and for imperialist ferocity and ruthlessness. Clemenceau was not a traitor to his class, the bourgeoisie; on the contrary, he served it more loyally, more resolutely and more shrewdly than Viviani, Painleve and Co. The subsequent course of events proved that. The Clemenceau group came into power, and its more consistent, more predatory imperialist policy ensured victory for the French bourgeoisie. Were there any French newspapermen that called the Clemenceau group defeatist? There must have been: fools and slanderers follow in the train of every class. They do not, however, always have the opportunity to play an equally important role” (Trotsky’s letter to Orjonikidze, July 11, 1927)

Later Trotsky attempted to defend himself by saying:

“The Clémenceau example, the example from the political experience of a class inimical to us, was used by me to illustrate a solitary and a very simple idea: the ruling class, in the guise of its leading vanguard, must preserve its capacity to reform its ranks under the most difficult conditions” (Trotsky, The “Clémenceau Thesis” and the Party Regime)

“Reforming party ranks” here means overthrowing Stalin and abolishing the so-called “stalinist system” which allegedly prevented the proper functioning and reforming the party.

When Trotsky went into exile Radek refused to go with him. This resulted in a split between the two. Some might argue that since Radek split with Trotsky, the charge that he returned to Trotskyism was fabricated. However, Zinoviev also split with Trotsky in 1927, and Trotsky was very bitter about it. Despite of that, documents from the Harvard Trotsky archive prove that Zinoviev joined with Trotsky again in 1932, and even in these documents Trotsky makes bitter remarks against the “old capitulators” and “ex-Trotskyists”, i.e. those capitulators like Zinoviev and ex-Trotskyists like Radek who did not emigrate with Trotsky in 1927. Still they all united into a common bloc in 1932.

Radek explains that his betrayal against the party, and his re-joining the Trotskyists took place because he still remained friends with many “ex-trotskyists” who had not left with Trotsky, but who adopted the Trotskyist position again as soon as the difficulties and hard class struggle of 1928-33 began. Radek explained that he would always hang out with Trotskyists, hear them attacking the party and the government’s policies, and would not say anything or do anything to stop them. Thus he was already one foot in Trotskyism. Gradually he joined their group, and was finally asked to join by Trotsky.

Radek explains his personal motives for joining and later abandoning the Trotskyists. He said that he fully believed defeat of the USSR in the war was inevitable. As a result he supported the defeatist position, for him the only possible position. This position might sound crazy to any sane person, but the Left-Communists had previously made statements saying that in the interest of World Revolution, it was acceptable to sacrifice Soviet Power, to sacrifice the USSR to a defeat in war. A Left-Communist text from 1918 said:

“In the interests of the world revolution, we consider it expedient to accept the possibility of losing Soviet power which is now becoming purely formal.” (quoted in Lenin, Strange and Monstrous)

However, according to Radek, as the industrialization was proceeding he began to believe the USSR actually could win the war. This in his own words meant that the Trotskyist program was “unreal”, i.e. not in accordance with real facts. He began distancing himself from them, not because of any love for Stalin or any loyalty towards the USSR, but because of purely tactical calculations.

Radek’s testimony is completely believable. It actually would be hard to believe anything else. The entire plot flows inevitably from the logic of Trotsky’s position, and any other outcome is impossible. The trial features countless moments which testify to its authenticity and truthfulness, for example the questioning of the German engineer. The court has an unnecessary and awkward interaction with the engineer regarding whether he needs an interpreter or not. It demonstrates that this is a real court, with real people, and it was not scripted.

Same goes for the testimony of the international vagabond Arnold (who also had countless other names). Arnold is a small character in the whole thing, but his convoluted story takes a very long time to get straight. If a script-writer had manufactured the whole thing he probably would have cut that whole segment. The engineer and Arnold were involved in the Opposition’s sabotage activities against Soviet industry (especially militarily strategic industry). Pyatakov was a high official working in industry, so he had all the opportunities for sabotage.

The Opposition united with all enemies of the Stalin government: all oppositionists, mensheviks, nationalists, anti-communists, SRs etc. This is not unusual because e.g. we know from documents discovered in the Harvard Trotsky archive that Trotsky had supported forming a bloc (or a coalition) with countless opposition groups, in his past Trotsky had united with anti-Leninists of all shades (in the so-called “August Bloc”) and the Left-Communists had also united with the Left-SR and Right-SR parties, which were both anti-communist parties and held views that strongly contradicted Left-Communist and Trotskyist ideology on numerous important points.

At this trial there is still no mention of the Right-Opposition, although they had entered into the United Bloc with the Trotskyists, Zinovievites and Left-Communists since 1932. The NKVD already had the documents to demonstrate this (and corroborating documents have been found in the Harvard Trotsky archive) but no charges were brought against Rights at the trial. Keep this in mind when we get to the next section.

Bukharin was mentioned in passing a couple of times, because he had been with Pyatakov when numerous relevant events had taken place. However, no charges were brought against Bukharin and he was not connected to the crimes. The oppositionist views he had advocated in the past together with Pyatakov and in 1928-30 were mentioned, but it was assumed that his participation in the opposition had ended. The other leader of the Right-Opposition, Tomsky, was also mentioned briefly.

The Bukharin-Rykov Trial (1938)

When Tomsky realized the police were on his trail, he committed suicide and left a note claiming that ex-NKVD chief Yagoda was actually also a secret member of the Right-Opposition. When Yagoda was relieved of the leadership of the NKVD due to incompetence, the connection of the Right-Opposition to the Trotskyists and Zinovievites were disclosed. It became clear that Yagoda had been hiding the fact that the Right-Opposition (and its leaders Bukharin, Tomsky and Rykov) were in a united bloc together with the other criminals. All this has been verified many times over.

Yagoda was replaced as the head of NKVD by Yezhov, who was also a secret member of the Right-Opposition but this was not revealed until later. At the trial, some defendents claimed their plan was to murder Stalin and other high officials, like they had murdered Kirov, and to murder Yezhov. This obviously cannot be true because Yezhov himself was working together with the Opposition. There are two possible explanations:

1) Some defendants (low level conspirators) did not know Yezhov was a Rightist. Yezhov had a deep cover. This is very probable.
2) Some of them (highest ranking conspirators) were shielding Yezhov by claiming they had tried to murder him. This is also probable.

At the trial it became evident that even under “normal” conspiratorial conditions, the defendants did not usually know what other people in the organization were doing. This is normal for underground organizations. Trotsky and the high-ranking members of the conspiracy did not even reveal their true program to most of their underlings.

Yezhov was promoted to the NKVD to investigate the mine explosions caused by sabotage. This is my own speculation and I have not found evidence to prove it, but it is possible that the opposition orchestrated these explosions not only for the sake of sabotage, but specifically to engineer Yezhov’s promotion.

At the trial the Riutin platform was discussed. The Riutin platform was an oppositional program from 1932, which claimed that Stalin has created a system of feudal exploitation of the peasantry, and demanded his violent overthrow. This program was adopted by the Right-Opposition, the Left-Communists and Trotskyists. The Riutin group itself was a rightist group. It was known that young supporters of Bukharin had been involved in the Riutin group.

Bukharin had admitted at a Central Committee meeting where he had been questioned, that he had known about the group. He had not informed the party about this conspiratorial group, allegedly because he had tried to “reason with” the group and persuade them to stop what they were doing. Later Bukharin admitted that he was part of the group himself, and that his name had been left out of the group’s program for secrecy. However, he denied being the main architect of the program (which he probably was).

Historical facts fully corroborate the trial findings. The pro-Trotsky historian Pierre Broué actually discovered documents from the Harvard Trotsky archive which verified that in 1932 Trotsky had ordered the creation of the united bloc of Rights and Trotskyits. It also included Zinovievites, the Sten-Lominadze group and others. These documents mention the names of many of the most famous defendants such as Preobrazhensky, I. Smirnov and Sokolnikov.

A letter from Sedov to Trotsky states:

“The [bloc] is organised it includes the Zinovievists, the Sten–Lominadze Group and the Trotskyists (former “[capitulators]”). The Safar–Tarkhan Group… will enter very soon.” (Document No. 3, Letter from Sedov to Trotsky, Library of Harvard College 4782)

The letter also laments the arrest of the secret Trotskyist center and states that the loss of these old Trotskyist leaders is a serious defeat, but they still have links to agents on the ground level:

“The collapse of the “old men” is a heavy blow but the links with the workers have been preserved … “ (Ibid.)

“In the struggle to destroy Stalin’s dictatorship, we must in the main rely not on the old leaders” (Riutin Platform)

The Soviet communist had known that since 1929 Bukharin had tried to create a bloc with Zinovievites and Trotskyites, although perhaps Trotsky had not officially responded yet. It also seems clear that some of the wavering Trotskyists were not ready to create this alliance yet in 1929. In any case, the Soviet government had already discovered it and confronted Bukharin:

“At the beginning of 1929 it was discovered that Bukharin, authorized by the group of Right capitulators, had formed connections with the Trotskyites, through Kamenev, and was negotiating an agreement with them for a joint struggle against the Party.” (History of the CPSU(B) – Short Course. There’s also an audio version)

According to Bukharin’s friend revisionist Humbert-Droz the Bukharin rightist group had terrorist plans against Stalin’s life already since 1929, and already had an embryonic alliance with the Zinovievites and Trotskyists. By 1932 this had evolved into a firm program i.e. the “Riutin platform”—and the same year the bloc was officially formed on Trotsky’s orders.

Let’s discuss the behavior of people at the different trials. Zinoviev and Kamenev had denied and lied at their trial. Radek had explained his motivation in great detail at his trial. At the Bukharin-Rykov trial, the most well-known incident besides the testimony of Bukharin, has to be the testimony of Trotskyist Krestinsky.

At the first session Krestinsky was very emotional. He denied everything, shouting “I am not a trotskyite! I have never been a trotskyite!” and then collapsed into despondency. Some anti-communist commentators were impressed by Krestinsky and thought he spoke the truth. So when Krestinsky admitted the charges in the later sessions it was claimed that he had been coerced. But actually, Krestinsky was well known as an old Trotskyite, he had belonged to Trotsky’s opposition in the 1920s and everybody in the USSR knew it. His emotional denial was obviously false and a product of desperation. Nobody at the time took Krestinsky’s denial seriously.

If Krestinsky had said “I am not currently a Trotskyist” it would at least be possible. But he had screamed repeatedly “I have never been a Trotskyist” which was blatantly absurd. He explained that he was simply acting hysterically, denying everything due to panic and shame. This seems entirely believable. Otherwise we would have to assume that the organizers of the trial ordered Krestinsky to act out this hysterical episode, which probably would have required a professional actor to pull off, unless he was being genuinely hysterical.

Bukharin tried to not agree with anything the prosecutor said. He minimized his guilt at every opportunity, rationalized everything and tried to make himself into a martyr. He claimed he did not know what his friends and supporters were doing, and that he had nothing to do with their crimes, but he generously “accepts the responsibility for what they did.” This was his attempt to avoid actual guilt and to paint himself as a martyr. He denied knowing about the assassinations or espionage.

A small detail which most people probably miss, is that Bukharin constantly tried to attack the communist Valerian Kuibyshev, who had recently been murdered by the rightists. Kuibyshev was a supporter of Stalin and a member of the politburo, but he was known as a radical and had previously been close to Left-Communism. Bukharin constantly tried to insert statements about Kuibyshev, in order to demonstrate that Left-Communists were not disloyal. This is one of the many examples of Bukharin using cunning strategy to deny everything.

Bukharin used this strategy particularly when the court was discussing the Left-Communist and Left-SR coup attempt of 1918. When Lenin succeeded in implementing the decision to sign the Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty, which Left-Communists and Left-SRs opposed, the latter decided that Lenin should be overthrown and arrested. Other high-ranking government officials who supported Lenin’s policy (namely Stalin and Sverdlov) also had to be arrested. Trotsky did not need to be arrested because he opposed Lenin’s position. Trotsky actually knew about the plot.

The Left-SRs launched the coup attempt, assassinated the German ambassador in the USSR to sabotage the peace treaty, and carried out an assassination attempt on Lenin. Lenin was shot in the neck, but he survived. The Left-Communists did not join it, due to tactical considerations. Bukharin admitted all this, as it was well-known. However, he denied the charge that the plan had been to execute Lenin, Stalin and Sverdlov. The prosecutor pointed out, that the Bolshevik leaders might not surrender without a fight, and violence might have to be used, which would lead to them being murdered, but Bukharin refused to answer this line of questioning.

The charges mentioned at this trial truly were more monstrous then before, such as the plot to murder Lenin and Gorky. However, the plot to arrest and overthrow Lenin was already well known. It just hadn’t been put into this kind of context before, and it had been assumed that Bukharin’s and Trotsky’s oppositional activities had ended, and they had become loyal to Lenin and the party. When put into its proper context, the grotesquely horrible nature of their plan became clear. It was so horrible, that many refused to believe it. The plot to murder Gorky was particularly sadistic.

Gorky was an old man, and if he died it wouldn’t necessarily be surprising. But his son, who was a young man, also died mysteriously. They were both murdered by the same doctor, who had been coerced into it by Yagoda and the Right-Opposition. Why was this necessary? Because Gorky had a lot of influence on the literary and artistic community internationally, and the intellectual circles generally.

Gorky used this influence to paint the USSR and Stalin in a positive light, and to support Soviet foreign policy. This foreign policy consisted of trying to create a collective defense treaty against aggressive states, i.e. against fascist states. The USSR briefly had a defensive agreement with France and Czechoslovakia, and their relations with the UK temporarily improved in the mid 1930s. For the upcoming war it was highly important to remove this support of Stalin.

Rykov’s last plea is very interesting, especially his discussion about the murder of Gorky. He admits his other crimes but defends himself against that particular murder charge, and the way he does it is quite interesting. He says defendant “Enukidze only said we should politically liquidate Gorky”. In other words, Rykov in no way denies the murder, in fact he gives strong testimony against Enukidze. However, he claims to not have understood that Enukidze’s words meant murder. Of course it is possible that Rykov is lying (the murder of Gorky was such a disgusting crime he might have been ashamed) but this event surely couldn’t have been written by a script writer, its too convoluted and doesn’t serve a propagandist purpose.

Many other defendants of course lied at their last pleas, most blatantly Bukharin. They tried to save themselves by “repenting of their crimes” and tried to protect other hidden conspirators. They even mentioned their hatred for Yezhov, though Yezhov himself was the most powerful rightist conspirator still loose. If the trial had been scripted, they surely would not have included mentions of Yezhov, because the trial paints him as an enemy of Trotskyism, which he wasn’t.

The Bukharin-Rykov Trial also mentions the topic of nationalist, fascist and separatist groups who worked with the opposition. Separatists were also among the defendants. The nationalists served as a link to fascist powers. The Oppositionists also maintained their own communications with foreign fascists, but also with the local fascist separatists. The Opposition had agreed to give Soviet territories to the fascist powers, and one way to hasten this was to support separatism. During this period Trotsky began to publish writings calling for the separation of Ukraine from the USSR.

It is repeatedly mentioned at the trials that Trotsky and Bukharin wanted to restore capitalism. This is rejected by their defenders, because in their minds the charge is absurd, Trotsky and Bukharin were not supporters of capitalism. However, it should be understood that by “restoration of capitalism” they meant a return to the NEP. This is clarified at the trial, but it often gets lost.

However, Trotsky and Bukharin considered that the return to NEP would mean giving more power to the capitalists then before, more concessions to foreign investors, and also curtailing democracy. Radek and Bukharin both discuss this in detail. All of that was considered necessary so that they could hold power and build up the productive forces. For Bukharin it was based on his rightist economic views, and for Trotsky it was based on his idea that socialism cannot be built in one country.

Some concluding remarks:

The trial materials are full of all kinds of details, and I couldn’t possibly deal with all of them. I think anyone interested in the trial should read the material, and hopefully with some of the context and explanation that I have given, you can understand the material more easily. The material convincingly shows the guilt of the Oppositionists and any honest and critical reader should conclude the trials were accurate and bona fide. It is quite natural that the main tactic of the anti-communists is to discourage people from reading the materials, and instead to spread lies and caricatures about them.

Why was Lenin’s body mummified? Who decided it?

“Nothing would be easier and more obvious than to imagine that upon Lenin’s death his successors— with Stalin in the lead— quickly gathered in a back room and immediately understood the utility of preserving, displaying, and worshiping his body. A top-down manufactured cult of Lenin would then provide a substitute religion for the peasants, complete with the sainted founder’s relics, to replace the Russian Orthodoxy they were trying to destroy. It would enhance the legitimacy of Lenin’s successors and of the regime in general by tracing that regime’s descent from a founder, who was rapidly and intentionally becoming a mythical progenitor on whose pyramid the successor acolytes would stand to demonstrate their lineage… This idea, which is not uncommon in the scholarly literature, assumes that the Bolsheviks had a plan… Here it seems that there was no plan, no major role for Stalin but rather a series of contradictory, ad hoc, and contested proposals reflecting input both from below and above. Lenin’s successors stumbled and bumbled for a long time about what to do with his body.

First of all, it seems that Stalin had little if anything to do with the decision to permanently display Lenin. He was not on the Lenin Funeral Commission, chaired by Feliks Dzerzhinskii, where such decisions were made, and his associate Kliment Voroshilov, who was a member, bitterly opposed the idea. Stalin was a member of the Politburo, which, as it turned out, approved all the recommendations of the commission, but he seems to have played no active role in the decision. According to rumors that surfaced decades later (in the 1960s), Stalin had been the initiator of the idea to mummify Lenin even before Lenin died, having supposedly suggested it at an informal meeting of Politburo members in 1923, at which time Trotsky vehemently opposed the idea. This story is quite improbable on its face. The idea that such a careful political tactician as Stalin would openly talk about disposing of Ilich’s body while the latter was still alive, and in the presence of his arch-rival Trotsky, borders on the ridiculous. The senior leaders would consider it unpardonably crude to have such a discussion while their dear Lenin lived, and Stalin would certainly not have handed Trotsky such a faux pas on a platter…

The decision to preserve and display Lenin’s body was taken incrementally over a period of years, and it was not until 1929– 30 that his resting place was finalized in the stone mausoleum. At first, on 24 January 1924, Lenin was put in the Kremlin’s Hall of Columns for viewing by the public. Professor Abrikosov embalmed the body in customary fashion so it would last the three days until the funeral and burial. Nobody contemplated a longer viewing. Two days later, the huge crowds obliged the Politburo to order moving the display to Red Square near the Kremlin wall. Architect A. V. Shchusev was quickly conscripted to design and build a temporary structure there which was thrown together by 27 January. The crowds kept coming, and soon Shchusev was charged with designing a larger structure that was completed some weeks later. But it was not made to last. It was a wooden structure called the “temporary mausoleum.”

Meanwhile, during the extended viewing period… Lenin’s body began to decay. The Dzerzhinskii Commission was consequently faced with making a longer-term decision about the body. In February, commission member and engineer Leonid Krasin claimed that he could preserve the body through freezing, and on the seventh the commission authorized him to buy expensive German machinery for that purpose. By 14 March, the body continued to deteriorate and although Krasin continued to defend the freezing idea, the commission brought in Professors Zbarskii and Vorob’ev with a new chemical procedure for long-term preservation. It was not until 26 July that the commission made the final decision to embalm and display Lenin forever, based on Zbarskii and Vorob’ev’s procedure…

[About] whether or not even to have an open casket, there was sharp debate… Voroshilov took sharp issue with N. I. Muralov’s suggestion to display the body. According to Voroshilov, “We must not resort to canonization. That would be SR-like…” …Would Lenin have approved? Probably not, Dzerzhinskii admitted, because he was a person of exceptional modesty. But he’s not here; we have only one Lenin who is not here to judge, and the question is what to do with his body. He brushed aside deep questions, noting that everybody loved Lenin. Pictures of him were treasured; everyone wanted to see him. Lenin was a truly special person. “He is so dear to us that if we can preserve the body and see it, then why not do it?” “If science can really preserve the body for a long time, then why not do it?” “If it is impossible, then we won’t do it.”… the Dzerzhinskii group won the day… It was rather an incremental process.

Voroshilov, as we saw above, was afraid of the hypocrisy and person-worship… Other Bolsheviks, like Dzerzhinskii… thought that Lenin was such a special case as to not provoke such reflections…

As with preserving the body, the resistance to traditional monuments was strong… In October-November 1924, senior Bolsheviks Lunacharskii and Krasin made the case for monuments. “The question of monuments should be seen from the point of view of the demands of the revolutionary people.” The proletariat, they argued, has a solid sense of history and connection to the past. Proletarian monuments, unlike bourgeois ones, are not mere idols or signposts. Proletarian monuments are “sources of strength taken from the revolutionary masses. . . . A revolutionary monument is an active thing; it is a centralizer and transformer of social strength. . . . Revolutionary society does great deeds and therefore has a need to immortalize itself.” “Lenin’s tomb has already become a magnetic center for the masses, who visit it and whose literal voices of millions of people show that it answers a profound need of the masses.” … “We are an organic unified class doing great things and therefore naturally monumental.”… they concluded “We are not anarchists. We have great and brilliant leaders. So we conclude that monuments and monumentalism are completely natural in our revolutionary life.” Voroshilov, who resisted displaying the body, thought monuments were fine to maintain memory. After all, he had been to London to see Marx’s grave…

[When Lenin died] Thousands of unsolicited condolence letters and telegrams spontaneously poured in. The very decision to move Lenin’s body from the Hall of Columns to Red Square had to do with crowd control and was the result of thousands of requests from the public, especially from those unable to reach Moscow in time to see the body during the viewing period originally planned. The decision to build the second, “temporary” wooden and then the third permanent stone mausoleum had similar causes: the people kept coming, more than a hundred thousand in the first six weeks, despite bitter cold… proposals poured in from the provinces to build local monuments to Lenin and to name all kinds of things for him. Without permission, in Cheboksarai they build an exact replica of the mausoleum to be used as a bookselling kiosk. This caused much consternation in Moscow. Sailing in the wake of popular action, the regime quickly understood that they needed to get control of this process, and arrogated to themselves the right to approve or disapprove such requests; nothing could be built without their approval. Subsequently much of the work of the Dzerzhinskii Commission consisted of approving (but mostly disapproving) these proposals, which included everything from a proposal for an electrified mausoleum, complete with lightning bolts, to renaming the calendar months because as one letter-writer said, “Lenin was savior of the world more than Jesus.” (Arch Getty, Practicing Stalinism, pp. 69-77)

Truth About the Kronstadt Mutiny

THE KRONSTADT MUTINY

In March 1921 there was a mutiny against the Soviet government among soldiers in the fortress town of Kronstadt. The mutiny went on for two weeks, until it was suppressed by the Bolshevik government. The Kronstadt mutiny is one of those topics which is always debated: was it a heroic uprising against the ‘tyrannical bolsheviks’? Or was it an attempt at counter-revolution? Before I started researching this topic I thought that the Kronstadt mutiny was just a silly anarchist action – but its actually much worse then that.

THE LASTING MYTH OF KRONSTADT

The Kronstadt mutiny has remained a topic of discussion to this day. That is because it is always used as an example of supposed ‘communist tyranny’ by anarchists and revisionists, but also by capitalists and imperialists. They all claim that since the communists had to suppress a mutiny, therefore it proves they were anti-worker, oppressive and that they had turned against the revolution. Of course, this is simplistic and childish thinking and pure demagogy. Of course, there were other revolts and plots against the bolsheviks too, but the Kronstadt mutiny works much better for anarchist and capitalist propaganda purposes because at least on the surface it was done by soldiers of mostly peasant origin (and not by the rich) and because at least on the surface it had a left-wing agenda – however, the surface appearance doesn’t necessarily reflect the whole truth.

The first capitalist president of Russia Boris Yeltsin (the most hated Russian leader in known history) praised the Kronstadt mutiny and opened the archives on Kronstadt for researchers, so that they could prove how heroic the mutiny was and how evil the bolsheviks were. Unfortunately it backfired, since the primary source evidence doesn’t support his conclusion at all. The opened archives contain more then 1000 documents which include firsthand accounts by mutineers, secret White Guard reports, articles, memoirs etc. collected from a range of Soviet, White Guard, Menshevik, anarchist and western capitalist sources.

When the mutiny broke out it was immediately praised and supported in the capitalist media – actually, it was already praised and supported in the capitalist media two weeks before it had even broken out. This already shows that the mutiny was organized, or at least sponsored and supported by capitalists and western imperialist countries.

LEADER OF THE MUTINY PETRICHENKO

The leader of the mutiny was a political adventurer named Stepan Petrichenko. He had been in the Red Army, but considered himself an anarcho-syndicalist. He was also a Ukrainian nationalist. Petrichenko apparently remained an anarcho-syndicalist at least on the surface for most of his life, but one year before the Kronstadt mutiny he had tried to join the White Army. Anarchist historian Avrich writes:

“Petrichenko returned to his native village in April 1920 and apparently remained until September or October… The authorities, he later told an American journalist, had arrested him more than once on suspicion of counterrevolutionary activity. He had even tried to join the Whites…” (Avrich, Kronstadt, p. 95)

Avrich also discovered a secret White Guard Memorandum On Organizing An Uprising In Kronstadt.

Already pretty quickly after the events in Kronstadt we had absolutely solid proof the leaders and organizers of the mutiny were White Guardists or were working with White Guardists. And now with the archival materials, we have absolutely mountains of further evidence. If anyone says otherwise, they are wilfully ignorant or lying.

HOW THE MUTINY WAS ORGANIZED

In 1921 the country was in ruins after years of WWI and civil war. Fuel and food were always extremely scarce. As long as the civil war lasted, the population tolerated all these hardships. They understood it was inevitable in the war. However, in 1921 the war was coming to an end. Massive amounts of soldiers were sent home from the Red Army or at least taken away from battle. This created disturbances as people were no longer focused on fighting the White Army, and there were lots of badly adjusted jobless soldiers wandering around. Peasants also began opposing the war-time policy of grain requisition at fixed prices. Most soldiers themselves were peasants. This all combined together, to create some spontaneous disturbances. The policy of the government, was to evaluate the situation, change from war policies to peace time policies, and organize the reconstruction of the country and revitalization of the economy. However, that was an extremely difficult task which couldn’t be completed in one day.

There was unrest in Petrograd after several factories were temporarily closed due to fuel shortages. Some menshevik counter-revolutionaries were arrested without bloodshed. False rumors of workers being shot and factories even being bombarded, were spread in the fortress town of Kronstadt. Reactionaries took full advantage of these rumors and spread them.

“Mingled with the initial reports was an assortment of bogus rumors which quickly roused the passions of the sailors. It was said, for example, that government troops had fired on the Vasili Island demonstrators and that strike leaders were being shot in the cellars of the Cheka.” (Avrich, p. 71)

“the Petrograd strikes were on the wane… But the rumors of shootings and full-scale rioting had already aroused the sailors, and on March 2, at a time when the disturbances had all but ceased, they were drafting the erroneous announcement (for publication the following day ) that the city was in the throes of a “general insurrection.”” (Avrich, p. 83)

This was the necessary ideological preparation for the mutiny.

A mass meeting was held in Kronstadt on March 1 where anti-Communist statements and lies were spread. The meeting was orchestrated in such a way that Communists were not allowed to speak. The topic was raised that new elections to the Soviet should be carried out.

A delegate meeting of soldiers was held the next day on March 2. In this meeting it was proposed that all Communists be arrested. The delegates were amazed. However, the organizers of the mutiny made the completely baseless and hysterical claim that armed Communist detachments were about to surround the meeting and arrest everyone, therefore it was supposedly justified and necessary to begin rounding up and arresting Communists. This type of fear propaganda was cleverly used by the mutineers. Delegates had no time to think, they had no access to information, and Communists had no chance to speak. Thus the reactionaries could basically push through their anti-Communist policy.

“the Bolshevik commissar barely had time to object to the irregular proceedings before being cut off by the “military specialist” in charge of artillery, a former tsarist general named Kozlovsky… “Your time is past,” Kozlovsky declared.” (Avrich, p. 81)

The adventurer, anarcho-syndicalist and would-be White Guardist Petrichenko declared that a so-called ‘Provisional Revolutionary Committee’ or PRC had been elected. This PRC would now take over.

“[T]he chair of the meeting, Petrichenko, quieting down the meeting, announced that ‘The Revolutionary Committee… declares: “All Communists present are to be seized and not to be released until the situation is clarified” (Introduction to Kronstadt Tragedy)

“suddenly… a voice from the floor… shouted that 15 truckloads of Communists armed with rifles and machine guns were on their way to break up the meeting. The news had the effect of a bombshell, throwing the delegates into alarm and confusion… it was the bogus report that Communists were preparing to attack the meeting that actually precipitated the formation of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee… Petrichenko himself took up the rumor and announced that a detachment of 2,000 Communists were indeed on their way to disperse the meeting. Once again pandemonium broke loose, and the delegates left the hall in great excitement.” (Avrich, p. 84)

Using skillful propaganda and deception Petrichenko claimed that the ‘Provisional Revolutionary Committee’ was elected by soldier delegates. However, this was simply a lie. No elections had been carried out. But the masses did not know that – after all, maybe their delegates in their meeting had elected such a committee? Who could say? This is a good example of how such a reactionary coup can happen.

The Provisional Revolutionary Committee or PRC was never elected, its members had already been chosen before hand. In fact the committee was already sending orders and messages, one day before it had supposedly been elected. The committee stated:

“[T]he Communist Party is removed from power. The Provisional Revolutionary Committee is in charge. We ask that non-[Communist] party comrades take control into their hands” (“To All Posts of Kronstadt,”, reprinted in Kronstadt Tragedy.)

Avrich also mentions how the PRC was never elected, though he claims it was merely “for lack of time to hold proper elections” (Avrich, p. 84)

This “Provisional Revolutionary Committee” actually consisted of opportunists, capitalists and counter-revolutionaries. Two members of this committee were Mensheviks who had opposed the October Revolution. Mensheviks and their foreign supporters believed Russia needed capitalism and wasn’t ready for a workers’ revolution. Ivan Oreshin, another member in the committee was part of the capitalist Kadet party, one of the leading parties under the Tsar. The head of the Committee was the would-be White Guardist Petrichenko. The chief editor of the Kronstadt mutiny’s newspaper, Sergei Putilin was also a supporter of the capitalist Kadets. Thus both the political leadership of the Kronstadt mutiny, and the mutiny’s propaganda outlets were under the control of counter-revolutionaries.

A genuine revolution is not led by anti-revolutionary Mensheviks or by capitalists. Already from its very inception, the Kronstadt mutiny was basically counter-revolutionary. However, that was just the beginning.

Other members of the PRC were a black-market speculator Vershinin, former police detective Pavlov, two ex-capitalists or property holders Baikov and Tukin “who had once owned no less than six houses and three shops in Petrograd. Another committee member, Kilgast, had reportedly been convicted of embezzling government funds in the Kronstadt transportation department but had been released in a general amnesty on the third anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution.” (Avrich, pp. 93-94)

“Perepelkin may have been the only reputed anarchist among the rebel leaders, but… he was in a good position to propagate his libertarian views… [however] the sailors, for their part, never called for the complete elimination of the state, a central plank in any anarchist platform.” (Avrich, p. 170)

It was important for the leaders of the Kronstadt mutiny to appear like they were some kind of revolutionaries. They needed gauge the mood of the soldiers, and try to fool them. Leader of the Kronstadt mutiny, would be-White Guardist Petrichenko made the proposal to allow full freedom for “all socialist parties” in the public meeting of March 1. Immediately he was attacked by angry shouts by soldiers: “That’s freedom for the right SRs and Mensheviks! No! No way! …We know all about their Constituent Assemblies! We don’t need that!” (Kuzmin Report, Stenographic Report of Petrograd Soviet, 25 March 1921, quoted in Kronstadt Tragedy)

Petrichenko needed to be careful to not alienate his crowd. The Kadet Ivan Oreshin who was part of the PRC wrote: “The Kronstadt uprising broke out under the pretext of replacing the old Soviet… with a new one… The question of… extending the vote also to the bourgeoisie, was carefully avoided by the orators… They did not want to evoke opposition among the insurgents… They did not speak of the Constituent Assembly, but the assumption was that it could be arrived at gradually…” (Oreshin in Volia Rossii (April-May 1921), quoted in Shchetinov Kronstadt Tragedy)

The mutiny leaders understood that the soldiers didn’t actually support their goals, so they needed to keep their true goals secret. They could be achieved “gradually” by sneaky secret maneuvering.

During all these operations the reactionary organizers of the mutiny still carefully tried to use a cover of revolutionary and pro-worker language. They called each other ‘comrades’ and ‘the revolutionary committee’. However, they were adamant that Communists must be crushed. The vaguely anarchistic ideology, most likely influenced by Petrichenko, suited their purposes. All kinds of demagogical slogans were made about “freedom against bolshevik tyranny”, “soviets without communism” etc.

However, even if we didn’t know that Petrichenko had wanted to be a White Guardist it was still completely obvious that the Kronstadt mutineers were not following anarchist theory in any typical sense. They were not establishing a stateless society but an anti-Communist military dictatorship. 300 Communists were rounded up and thrown into prisons, but hundreds of Communists also managed to run away.

“The repression carried out by the PRC against those Communists who remained faithful to the communist revolution fully refutes the supposedly peaceful intentions of the rebels. Virtually all the minutes of the PRC sessions indicate that the struggle against the Communists still at large and against those still in prison, remained an unrelenting focus of their attention. At the last phase they even resorted to threats of field courts martial in spite of their declared repeal of the death penalty.” (Agranov, April 1921, quoted in Kronstadt Tragedy)

An anarchist thug named Shustov, was the commandant of the prison. Imagine being an anarchist and advocating the abolition of all prisons, but at the same time you’re literally a prison warden, and you keep arresting hundreds of Communists! Shustov was chosen as the executioner who would shoot the leading local Communists. There was a plan to carry out a mass execution:

“Early on the morning of March 18, Shustov set up a machine gun outside the cell, which contained 23 prisoners. He was prevented from slaughtering the Communists only by the advance of the Red Army across the ice.” (Kronstadt 1921: Bolshevism vs. Counterrevolution)

THE KRONSTADT DEMANDS

Lenin pointed out that the Kronstadt demands were quite vague and unclear. This was inevitable because they were not realistic policy proposals but a combination of utopianism, spontaneity and demagogic propaganda intended to gather enough support until the White Guard could take power and crush the Communists and all other opposition.

The essential demands were: (Source: March 1 Resolution, quoted in Kronstadt Tragedy)

1. New elections to the Soviets. In Kronstadt Communists were arrested and thus would not be allowed to run in elections. Instead the Soviets would be filled with mensheviks, white guards, anarchists and opponents of the October Revolution such as the SR kerensky types. Of course the reactionaries also hoped this could spread elsewhere and help destabilize the Soviet government. Needless to say this was not an anarchistic “stateless” order.

2. Full freedom of action for anti-Communist parties including the left-SR terrorists who tried to assassinate Lenin in 1918. The terrorist’s bullet hit Lenin in the neck but he survived. These anti-Communist forces would receive full freedom of action, but of course in Kronstadt the Communists would be repressed and prevented from all activism. Again, the reactionaries hoped this would spread to other areas too.

3. There should be no government regulation of trade-unions. Of course, in practice this simply meant that unions should denounce the Soviet government, sever their ties with the Soviet government and not follow instructions from it. If this demand was implemented it would lead to chaos because the unions were the government’s main instrument of economic management and workplace democracy. The demand for unions which did not collaborate with the workers’ government was also an essentially anti-socialist demand. Unions working with a proletarian state are an important part of planned economy and socialist construction.

4. Anti-Communist rebels like menshevik saboteurs, SR terrorists and those organizing revolts should be freed from jail.

5. The mutineers demanded bigger rations. Of course everybody wanted higher wages and bigger rations, but this was just a cheap attempt to garner popularity. Also, the bolshevik government was being basically forced to pay somewhat higher salaries and better rations for skilled experts, bourgeois officials and workers in strategic branches. They did not want to do this, but they had to. Those experts and officials could not be replaced right away, and if they didn’t collaborate the government would have huge problems. Therefore the bolsheviks simply had to accommodate those people until Red Experts could be trained to replace them. It may seem unfair, but failing to recognize this necessity is just another example of utopian stupidity.

6. The abolition of “war communism” or grain requisition. Again, this demand could gain some popularity. The peasants never particularly liked the system of war communism, though it was necessary for the war effort. The mutineers more broadly demanded that peasants should be able to use their land and property exactly how they see fit. They did not want collective agriculture or socialist planned economy, but instead who ever was lucky enough to have land should use it to the best of their ability and compete on the market. Landless would remain landless, and big peasants would get bigger.

7. The mutineers demanded the purging of Communists from the military and factory management, and abolition of Communist political departments from the army. The army at this point still had very large numbers of professional officers and soldiers from the times of the Tsar and Kerensky. These officers were needed and used by the Communists because of their skills and professional military training. However, because those officers and soldiers were not communists or workers, and were generally untrustworthy the Bolsheviks invented ‘political comissars’ to supervise the officers.

“former imperial officers were… [used] as “military specialists” ( voenspetsy ) under the watchful supervision of political commissars. In this way, badly needed command experience and technical knowledge were provided until a new corps of Red Commanders could be trained.” (Avrich, p. 66)

The Kronstadt mutineers demanded that this system be abolished. Such a demand might appeal to some anarchists, but one can only imagine what the result would be. The non-Communist officers inside the Red Army would no longer follow socialist instructions and the Red Army would stop being a proletarian army at all. In fact, this quickly happened and the old Tsarist officers Kozlovsky, Vilken and others were soon walking around like they were masters of the situation. In fact, they were masters during the mutiny.

According to the SRs the White Guard general Kozlovsky was ‘elected’ to the defence council of the Kronstadt mutiny, but it seems unlikely he could get elected. Its more likely he was simply chosen by the counter-revolutionaries into that post. The Menshevik newspaper Sotsialisticheski Vestnik published in Germany wrote that Kozlovsky and the other Whites tried to convince the Mensheviks and SRs to begin a general military assault against the Soviet government, but they were unable to convince them. The Mensheviks wrote: “The political leaders of the insurrection would not agree to take the offensive and the opportunity was let slip.“

WHITE GUARDS AND CAPITALISTS IN KRONSTADT

White emigres immediately began making plans to join the Kronstadt mutineers. A former associate of White General Dennikin, N. N. Chebyshev wrote about those times: “White officers roused themselves and started seeking ways to get to the fight in Kronstadt… The spark flew among the emigres. Everybody’s spirit was lifted by it” (quoted in Shchetinov, Introduction to Kronstadt Tragedy)

Imperialist France and Britain encouraged capitalist states on the Russian border to assist the Kronstadt mutiny. British foreign minister Lord Curzon sent a secret message to Finland On March 11 stating: “His Majesty’s Government are not prepared themselves to intervene… Very confidential: There is no reason, however, why you should advise the Finnish Government to take a similar course or to prevent any private societies or individuals from helping [the mutiny]” (Documents on British Foreign Policy 1919-1939).

Food and money came from rich capitalists and White emigres to support the Kronstadt mutineers. Tsarist Baron P. Y. Vilken, the former commander of the Sevastopol, used his spy contacts to deliver the money. His telegrams discuss sending the funds through Helsinki “which needs the money in the beginning of March” (Russkaia voennaia emigratsiaa 20-x—40-x godov).

“The Russian banks, with the former Tsarist minister of finance Kokovtsev at their head, began to collect money for Kronstadt. Goutchkov, the head of the Russian imperialist party, got in contact with the English and American governments to obtain food supplies.” (Radek, The Kronstadt Uprising, 1921)

“The Whiteguard emigres in Paris organized collection of money and provisions for the mutineers, and the American Red Cross sent food supplies to Kronstadt under its flag.“ (A History of the USSR, volume 3, p. 307)

“the Russian Union of Commerce and Industry in Paris declared its intention to send food and other supplies to Kronstadt… an initial sum of two million Finnish marks had already been pledged to aid Kronstadt in “the sacred cause of liberating Russia” (Avrich, p. 116)

“the Russian-Asiatic Bank contributed 225,000 francs. Additional funds were donated by other Russian banks, insurance companies, and financial concerns throughout Europe, and by the Russian Red Cross, which funneled all collections to Tseidler, its representative in Finland. By March 16 Kokovtsov was able to inform the Committee of Russian Banks in Paris that deposits for Kronstadt already exceeded 775,000 francs…” (Avrich, p. 117)

The leaders of the Kronstadt mutiny published an article on March 6 where they claimed to oppose the Whites. However, this was more deception as Petrichenko and many of his associates were White Guardists. Two days later on March 8 they welcomed a secret delegation of allies, which included a courier from the SR Administrative Center, an agent of Finnish State Security, two representatives of the monarchist Petrograd Combat Organization and four White Guard officers, including Baron Vilken.

The Whites were disguised as a “Red Cross” delegation sent from Finland. According to a detailed report by White Guardist Tseidler to his HQ, the delegation was immediately invited to ajoint session of the PRC and the general staff officers. A plan was reached to use the Red Cross as a cover to organizing sending food, supplies and funds to Kronstadt. (Source: Tseidler, Red Cross Activity in Organizing Provisions Aid to Kronstadt, 25 April 1921).

White emigre and former member of the Kronstadt leadership Kupolov wrote later that some of the Kronstadt leaders (probably mensheviks and anarchists) were not too happy about the monarchist and White Guard plots. However, Petrichenko was simply using them and planned to eventually get rid of them too. Kupolov writes:

“The PRC, seeing that Kronstadt was filling up with agents of a monarchist organization, issued a declaration that it would not enter into negotiations with, nor accept any aid from, any non-socialist parties… But… Petrichenko and the General Staff secretly worked in connection with the monarchists and prepared the ground for an overthrow of the committee…” (Kupolov, “Kronstadt and the Russian Counterrevolutionaries in Finland: From the Notes of a Former Member of the PRC”)

This is exactly why the Bolsheviks stated that while many of the Kronstadt mutineers were not White Guards or members of the capitalist class, their action still furthered the goals of the White Guard counter-revolution and of capitalist restoration. The White Guards were simply using these mensheviks and hapless opportunists.

The PCR claimed:
“In Kronstadt, total power is in the hands only of the revolutionary sailors… not of the White Guards headed by some General Kozlovsky, as the slanderous Moscow radio proclaims.” “We have only one general here… commissar of the Baltic Fleet Kuzmin. And he has been arrested.”” (Avrich, p. 99)

In exile Petrichenko stated:
“Cut off from the outside world, we could receive no aid from foreign sources even if we had wanted it. We served as agents of no external group: neither capitalists, Mensheviks, nor SR’s.” (Avrich, p. 113)

These days we know that he was lying.

Anarchist sailor Perepelkin, who was there in Kronstadt stated:

“And here I saw the former commander or the Sevastopol, Baron Vilken with whom I had earlier sailed. And it is he who is now acknowledged by the PRC to be the representative of the delegation that is offering us aid. I was outraged by this. I… said, so that’s the situation we’re in, that’s who we’re forced to talk to. Petrichenko and the others jumped on me… There was no other way out: they said. I stopped arguing and said I would accept the proposal. And on the second day we received 400 poods of food and cigarettes. Those who agreed to mutual friendship with the White Guard baron yesterday shouted that they were for Soviet power.” (Komarov Report, 25 March 1921)

“Any doubts about Vilken’s motives (his officer background was known to the rebel leaders) were brushed aside, and the Revolutionary Committee accepted his offer.” (Avrich, p. 122)

This has of course continued to this very day. The pseudo-Anarchists in Rojava made the same exact arguments. They said, they needed to collaborate with American imperialists because American imperialists were giving them funding, training, military support and weaponry. And were they really expected to win all on their own without such support? But such opportunistic logic merely reduces any movement into helpless puppets of capitalists and imperialists.

Wrangel’s right hand man, White General General Von Lampe literally laughed at the anarchists, mensheviks and SRs. He wrote in his diary that their propaganda was “full of justifications to dispel the thought, God forbid, that the sailors were under the influence of [White Monarchist] officers… The SRs don’t understand that in such a struggle, what are needed are severe and determined measures.” (Quoted in Kronstadt Tragedy)

An editor for the mutineer newspaper Lamanov stated: “Up until the seizure of Kronstadt by Soviet troops I thought the movement had heen organized by the Left SRs. After I became convinced that the movement was not spontaneous, I no longer sympathized with it… Now I am firmly convinced, that, without a doubt, White Guards, both Russian and foreign, took part in the movement. The escape to Finland convinced me of this. Now I consider my participation in this movement to have heen an unforgivable stupid mistake.” (Minutes of Cheka Interrogation of Anatoly Lamanov)

On March 15 the Kronstadt mutineers secretly sent two of their leaders to Finland, to ask for support. At this time Finland was ruled by the ferocious White Guard government of Mannerheim and co. which was launching invasions into Soviet-Karelia and supporting the Russian White Generals. When the mutiny was being defeated, on March 17 Petrichenko and the leaders ordered the crews of ships Petropavlovsk and Sevastopol to blow up the ships and flee to Anti-Communist Finland. However, at this point the soldiers had already begun to think their leaders must be reactionaries and did not follow orders. They rose up, saved the ships and arrested all the officers and Provisional Committee members they could get their hands on.

After the Kronstadt mutiny had failed and its leaders had fled to Finland, they agreed to join the White Army of Wrangel:

“In May 1921 Petrichenko and several of his fellow refugees at the Fort Ino camp decided to volunteer their services to General Wrangel… in a new campaign to unseat the Bolsheviks and restore “the gains of the February 1917 Revolution.”” (Avrich, p. 127)

It is very significant that at this point they were no longer in Kronstadt, and thus didn’t need to pretend they supported the October Revolution. Hence they now began to only praise the February revolution of Kerensky!

The Petrichenko gang and the Whites forces of Wrangel agreed to “the retention of their slogan “all power to the soviets but not the parties.”… the slogan was to be retained only as a “convenient political maneuver” until the Communists had been overthrown. Once victory was in hand, the slogan would be shelved and a temporary military dictatorship installed…” (Avrich, pp. 127-128)

THE REACTIONARY PROPAGANDA CAMPAIGN

The Kronstadt mutineers and their capitalist allies carried out a massive propaganda campaign to support the mutiny. They published lies claiming that supposedly the Bolsheviks were carrying out atrocities and supposedly everybody was rising up against them. In fact, nothing of the kind happened.

The Kronstadt newspaper wrote on March 7: “Last Minute News From Petrograd” – ”Mass arrests and executions of workers and sailors continue.”

On March 8 a Finnish capitalist newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet published the following lies, provided to them by Mensheviks: “Petrograd workers are striking… crowds bearing red banners demand a change of government – the overthrow of the Communists.”

On March 11 the Kronstadt newspaper wrote: “The [bolshevik] Government In Panic.” “Our cry has been heard. Revolutionary sailors, Red Army men and workers in Petrograd are already coming to our assistance … The Bolshevik power feels the ground slipping from under its feet and has issued orders in Petrograd to open fire at any group of five or more people gathering in the streets …”

“Moscow Rising Reported. Petrograd Fighting.” (London Times, March 2, 1921)

“Petrograd et Moscou Seraient aux Maine des Insurgés qui ont Formé un Gouvernement Provisoire.” [“Petrograd and Moscow will be in the hands of the insurgents who have formed a provisional government”] (Matin, March 7)

“Les Marins Revoltés Débarquent à Petrograd.” [“Rebelling sailors land in Petrograd”] (Matin, March 8)

“Der Aufstand in Russland.” [“The uprising in Russia”] (Vossische Zeitung, March 10)

“In Petrograd the remnants of the SRs, Mensheviks and various anarchists banded together… [and] collaborated with the newly formed monarchist Petrograd Combat Organization (PCO), as the PCO itself asserted (PCO Report to Helsinki Department of National Center, no earlier than 28 March 1921; reprinted in Kronstadt Tragedy). The [monarchist-capitalist] PCO even printed the Mensheviks’ leaflets! On March 14… [they] issued a leaflet in solidarity with Kronstadt that said not one word about socialism or soviets, but instead called for an uprising against “the bloody communist regime” in the name of “all power to the people” (“Appeal to All Citizens, Workers, Red Army Soldiers and Sailors,” 14 March 1921; reprinted in Kronstadt Tragedy).” (Kronstadt 1921: Bolshevism vs. Counterrevolution)

“Savinkov, aide to Kerensky… in his Warsaw newspaper Svoboda, printed on Polish [capitalist] government money, boasts (24th February) “I fight against the Bolsheviks, I fight alongside those who have already struggled with Kolchak, Denikin, Wrangel and even Petlioura, strange as that may seem.” (Radek, The Kronstadt Uprising, 1921)

Savinkov wrote that the sailors of Kronstadt had captured the battleship Aurora and fired its cannons on Petrograd. This never actually happened. He wrote: “when the cruiser Aurora fired on Petrograd it was an expression of repentance for the sin committed on the 25th of October 1917 with the bombardment of the Winter Palace, the seat of Kerensky’s ministry.”

“The Roul of Berlin, the organ of the right wing of the Cadet Party, wrote “The uprising of Kronstadt is scared, because it is an uprising against the idea of the October revolution”. The Society of Russian Industrialists and Financiers of Paris, when they heard the news from Kronstadt, decided to not worry about the extremist demands or the primitive cause of the mutiny [“les revendications extremistes cause primitive de la mutinerie”] because its essential point was that “the sailors were for the overthrow of the Communist government” [Dernières Nouvelles de Paris, 8th March].” (Radek, The Kronstadt Uprising, 1921)

The reactionary mutineers claimed that mass uprisings had broken out in Petrograd and Moscow to support the Kronstadt mutiny, but this was a total lie. Even Menshevik leader Dan admitted in his 1922 book that “the Kronstadt mutiny was not supported by the Petersburg workers in any way” (quoted in ‘The Mensheviks in the Kronstadt Mutiny,” Krasnaill Letopis’, 1931, No.2). This is easy to understand, because the mutiny was not based on genuine political organizing or a genuine program. It was a plot organized by White Guard reactionaries and political adventurers, by spreading false rumors, lies, and exploiting the temporary difficulties and confusion in Kronstadt at the time in order to carry out a military coup, repress the communists and prevent the workers and peasants from understanding what was actually going on.

It was enterily unlikely that workers would support the mutiny in other towns where they could not be simply tricked by plotters, and where they had their working class and Communist organizations. The Kronstadt mutiny used anarchists, left-SR terrorists and Mensheviks as their henchmen but even they were to a large extent simply fooled into it, as White Guardists were secretly trying to orchestrate many aspects of the mutiny for their own purposes.

Its also worth pointing out that the best revolutionary elements in the left-SRs, left-Mensheviks and even anarchists had already seen the error in their ways and joined the Bolshevik Party either right before the October Revolution or soon after it. Only the worse elements like terrorists, utopians and right-wing Mensheviks now opposed the Bolsheviks. The anarcho-syndicalist “Worker Opposition” also supported the Bolsheviks in crushing the Kronstadt mutiny.

“SOVIETS WITHOUT COMMUNISM! DOWN WITH COMMUNISM!” – IDEOLOGY OF THE KRONSTADT MUTINY

Milliukov, one of the capitalist leaders of Russia who was ousted by the October Revolution, wrote in his newspaper which he published in Paris, that reactionaries need to support the Kronstadt mutiny. He therefore advocated the slogan “Down with the Bolsheviks’ Long live the Soviets!” (Poslednie Novosti. 11 March 1921). The first step was to get rid of the Bolshevik Communists, after that it would be easy to restore the power of the capitalists.

“The [capitalist]… Milyukov, supplied the Kronstadt counter-revolutionaries with the watchword “Soviets without Communists””(A History of the USSR, volume 3, p. 307)

Stalin said: “Soviets without Communists — such was then the watchword of the chief of the Russian counter-revolution, Milyukov…” (J. Stalin, Articles and Speeches, Moscow, 1934, , Russ, ed., p. 217)

“But the class enemy was not dozing. He tried to exploit the distressing economic situation and the discontent of the peasants for his own purposes. Kulak revolts, engineered by Whiteguards and SRs, broke out in Siberia, the Ukraine and the Tambov province… All kinds of counter-revolutionary elements — Mensheviks, SRs, Anarchists, Whiteguards, bourgeois nationalists—became active again. The enemy adopted new tactics of struggle against the Soviet power. He began to borrow a Soviet garb, and his slogan was no longer the old bankrupt “Down with the Soviets!” but a new slogan: “For the Soviets, but without Communists!”

A glaring instance of the new tactics of the class enemy was the counter-revolutionary mutiny in Kronstadt… Whiteguards, in complicity with SRs, Mensheviks and representatives of foreign states, assumed the lead of the mutiny. The mutineers at first used a “Soviet” signboard to camouflage their purpose of restoring the power and property of the capitalists and landlords. They raised the cry: “Soviets without Communists!” The counter-revolutionaries tried to exploit the discontent of the petty bourgeois masses in order to overthrow the power of the Soviets under a pseudo-Soviet slogan.

Two circumstances facilitated the outbreak of the Kronstadt mutiny: the deterioration in the composition of the ships’ crews, and the weakness of the Bolshevik organization in Kronstadt. Nearly all the old [revolutionary, communist Kronstadt] sailors… [had been sent away to the] front, heroically fighting in the ranks of the Red Army. The naval replenishments [sent to Kronstadt to replace them] consisted of new men, who had not been schooled in the revolution. These were a perfectly raw peasant mass who gave expression to the peasantry’s discontent with the [grain requisition system and war communism]. As for the Bolshevik organization in Kronstadt, it had been greatly weakened by a series of mobilizations for the front.”
(History of the CPSU(B) short course)

Anarchist historian Avrich writes that the bulk of Kronstadt sailors had fought in anti-Communist forces before: “…we have it from Petrichenko himself that “three-quarters” of the Kronstadt garrison were natives of the Ukraine, some of whom had served with the anti-Bolshevik forces in the south before entering the Soviet navy.” (Avrich, p. 93)

“Throughout the Civil War of 1918-1920, the sailors of Kronstadt… More than 40,000… replenished the ranks of the Red Army on every front.” (Avrich, p. 62)

“There can be little doubt that during the Civil War years a large turnover had indeed taken place within the Baltic Fleet… old-timers had been replaced by conscripts from the rural districts… By 1921… more than three-quarters of the sailors were of peasant origin, a substantially higher proportion than in 1917, when industrial workers from the Petrograd area made up a sizable part of the fleet.” (Avrich, p. 89)

The temporary weakness of the local Communist organization in Kronstadt, the mass influx of politically uneducated people from the countryside, who were even anti-communists, and the sending of politically educated, experienced proletarians away to the frontlines during the war – these factors allowed the SR utopians, terrorists, anarchists, mensheviks and outright capitalists, monarchists and White Guards to gain a temporary foothold in Kronstadt.

One of the reasons for the relative weakness of the Kronstadt Bolshevik party organization, was that Trotskyists and Zinovievites were in a strong position there:

“The work of political education was at that time badly organized in the Baltic Fleet, and the Trotskyites… managed to get into leading positions…” (A History of the USSR, volume 3, p. 307)

A power struggle began between the opportunist factions of Trotsky and Zinoviev. At this time Lenin had been waging ideological struggle against Trotsky’s bureaucratic position on the questions of war-communism and role of the trade-unions. Zinoviev took advantage of this to strengthen his own opportunist faction. Trotskyists themselves admit this:

“Seizing on Trotsky’s wrong-headedness, Zinoviev mobilized his own base in the Petrograd-Kronstadt area against Trotsky… Zinoviev opened the floodgates of the Kronstadt party organization to backward recruits while encouraging a poisonous atmosphere in the inner-party dispute. The rot in the Kronstadt Communist Party organization was a critical factor in allowing the mutiny to proceed” (“Kronstadt 1921…”, Spartacist, Spring 2006 #59, )

There is no honor among scoundrels! A few years after this the renegade cliques of Trotsky and Zinoviev would unite their forces against the Bolshevik party.

“The authority of the party was further undermined by a struggle for political control in the fleet, which pitted Trotsky, the War Commissar, against Zinoviev… As a result of this dispute, the commissars and other party administrators lost much of their hold over the rank and file.” (Avrich, p. 70)

ANTI-SEMITISM

Another piece of information, indicating that the Kronstadt mutineers did not represent the best revolutionary elements, but actually some of the most politically backward elements, was their rampant anti-semitism. Anti-semitism of course was quite common in Russia at that time, but it was not tolerated among the Communists. It was more common among peasants then workers.

“feelings against the Jews ran high among the [Kronstadt] sailors, many of whom came from the Ukraine and the western borderlands, the classic regions of virulent anti-Semitism in Russia” (Avrich, p. 179)

One of the Kronstadt newspaper editors Lamanov, said that people constantly wrote anti-semitic articles about Jews having “murdered Russia” but he usually succeeded in preventing them from being published. (Source: Further Minutes of Questioning of Anatoly Lamanov, 25 March 1921)

“Vershinin… [member of the PRC] shouted an appeal for joint action against the Jewish and Communist oppressors…” (Avrich, p. 155)

“Jews were a customary scapegoat in times of hardship and distress… In a particularly vicious passage [one sailor] attacks the Bolshevik regime as the “first Jewish Republic”… he labels the Jews a new “privileged class,”… calling the government ultimatum to Kronstadt “the ultimatum of the Jew Trotsky.” These sentiments, he asserts were widely shared by his fellow sailors… Witness the appeal of Vershinin, a member of the Revolutionary Committee… on March 8… “Enough of your ‘hoorahs,’ and join with us to beat the Jews. It’s their cursed domination that we workers and peasants have had to endure.” (Avrich, pp. 179-180)

WHY DIDN’T THE BOLSHEVIKS NEGOTIATE A PEACEFUL SETTLEMENT?

Anarchists usually claim that the Bolsheviks saw the Kronstadt mutiny as some great threat to their power. That supposedly the “heroic struggle” of the mutineers could’ve inspired everyone to overthrow the Bolsheviks. However, this is completely false.

Lenin wrote:

“This Kronstadt affair in itself is a very petty incident. It no more threatens to break up the Soviet state than the Irish disorders are threatening to break up the British Empire.” (Lenin, On the Kronstadt revolt)

The Menshevik leader Dan admitted in his 1922 book that “the Kronstadt mutiny was not supported by the Petersburg workers in any way” (quoted in ‘The Mensheviks in the Kronstadt Mutiny,” Krasnaill Letopis’, 1931, No.2)

The Bolshevik government suppressed the mutiny because the Whites still tried to use it as a springboard for restarting the civil war with foreign imperialist backing.

“What the authorities feared, in other words, was not so much the rebellion itself…” (Avrich, p. 134)

“Of greater concern to the Bolsheviks was the determination of the [white] emigres to gain access to Kronstadt and use it as a base for a landing on the mainland. This would have meant nothing less than a resumption of the Civil War…” (Avrich, p. 134)

The ice was quickly melting so time was of the essence. Kronstadt had an extremely strong fortress and heavy weaponry. It would be very difficult to attack, and if the ice melted the only way to get there would be on battleships. Kronstadt itself also had two battleships. Therefore if the Bolsheviks waited and didn’t attack and take the Fort right away, the resulting battle might be catastrophic in its casualties and material damages. The mutineers also felt that they had gone too far, and there was no turning back. They felt they couldn’t negotiate their way out of this and simply had to fight as long as possible.

Zinoviev carried out pointless negotiations with the mutineers, which achieved nothing and only allowed the counter-revolutionaries to fortify their defenses.

“Zinoviev negotiated with the traitors for seven whole days, thereby giving them time to fortify themselves.” (A History of the USSR, volume 3, p. 307)

TROTSKY’S ROLE

It is often stated that Trotsky led the suppression of the Kronstadt mutiny, and that under Trotsky’s leadership the soldiers committed atrocities. However, both of these claims are false. The military defeat of the mutiny was entirely led by Voroshilov. Trotsky himself wrote later:

“The truth of the matter is that I personally did not participate in the least in the suppression of the Kronstadt rebellion” (Trotsky, More on the Suppression of Kronstadt)

The soldiers, 300 of whom had been delegates to the 10th Bolshevik Party Congress, acted heroicially but Zinoviev who was in a power struggle with Trotsky at the time, spread all kinds of lies about the military operation, saying that it was organized by Trotsky and that all kinds of mistakes and wrong-doings supposedly occurred. But the bureaucratic mistakes of Trotsky, neglecting ideological education in the army and navy, and the further sabotage of Zinoviev contributed to the outbreak of the mutiny.

DEFEATING THE MUTINY

“The mutineers gained possession of a first-class fortress, the fleet, and a vast quantity of arms and ammunition… Against the Kronstadt mutineers the Party sent its finest sons—delegates to the Tenth Congress, headed by Comrade Voroshilov. The Red Army men advanced on Kronstadt across a thin sheet of ice; it broke in places and many were drowned. The almost impregnable forts of Kronstadt had to be taken by storm…” (History of the CPSU(B) short course)

“Picked units of the Red Army were sent to crush the Kronstadt counter-revolution. The Tenth Congress of the Party, which was in session at that time, sent 300 of its delegates, headed by K. E. Voroshilov, to reinforce them. On March 16, the revolutionary soldiers… commenced an assault upon the main forts of Kronstadt, rushing forward in spite of continuous machine-gun fire and the bursting shells which broke the already fragile ice over which they were advancing. In the front ranks of the assault columns was Voroshilov, setting an example of Bolshevik courage and valour.” (A History of the USSR, volume 3, pp. 307-308)

APPENDIX. LENIN ON KRONSTADT:

“What does it mean? It was an attempt to seize political power from the Bolsheviks by a motley crowd or alliance of ill-assorted elements, apparently just to the right of the Bolsheviks, or perhaps even to their “left”—you can’t really tell, so amorphous is the combination of political groupings that has tried to take power in Kronstadt. You all know, undoubtedly, that at the same time whiteguard generals were very active over there. There is ample proof of this. A fortnight before the Kronstadt events., the Paris newspapers reported a mutiny at Kronstadt. It is quite clear that it is the work of SRs and whiteguard émigrés, and at the same time the movement was reduced to a petty-bourgeois counter-revolution and petty-bourgeois anarchism. That is something quite new. This circumstance, in the context of all the crises, must be given careful political consideration and must be very thoroughly analysed… There is evidence here of the activity of petty-bourgeois anarchist elements with their slogans of unrestricted trade and invariable hostility to the dictatorship of the proletariat… they wanted to correct the Bolsheviks in regard to restrictions in trade—and this looks like a small shift, which leaves the same slogans of “Soviet power” with ever so slight a change or correction. Yet, in actual fact the whiteguards only used the non-Party elements as a stepping stone to get in. This is politically inevitable. We saw the petty-bourgeois, anarchist elements in the Russian revolution, and we have been fighting them for decades. We have seen them in action since February 1917, during the great revolution, and their parties’ attempts to prove that their programme differed little from that of the Bolsheviks, but that only their methods in carrying it through were different. We know this not only from the experience of the October Revolution, but also of the outlying regions and various areas within the former Russian Empire where the Soviet power was temporarily replaced by other regimes. Let us recall the Democratic Committee in Samara. They all came in demanding equality, freedom, and a constituent assembly, and every time they proved to be nothing but a conduit for whiteguard rule. Because the Soviet power is being shaken by the economic situation, we must consider all this experience and draw the theoretical conclusions a Marxist cannot escape… We must take a hard look at this petty-bourgeois counter-revolution with its calls for freedom to trade. Unrestricted trade—even if it is not as bound up initially with the whiteguards as Kronstadt was—is still only the thin end of the wedge for the whiteguard element, a victory for capital and its complete restoration. We must, I repeat, have a keen sense of this political danger.”
(Lenin, Tenth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.))

“I emphasised the danger of Kronstadt because it lies precisely in the fact that the change demanded was apparently very slight: “The Bolsheviks must go . . . we will correct the regime a little.” That is what the Kronstadt rebels are demanding. But what actually happened was that Savinkov arrived in Revel, the Paris newspapers reported the events a fortnight before they actually occurred, and a whiteguard general appeared on the scene. That is what actually happened.” (Lenin, Tenth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.))

“The way the enemies of the proletariat take advantage of every deviation from a thoroughly consistent communist line was perhaps most strikingly shown in the case of the Kronstadt mutiny, when the bourgeois counter-revolutionaries and whiteguards in all countries of the world immediately expressed their readiness to accept the slogans of the Soviet system, if only they might thereby secure the overthrow of the dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia, and when the SRs and the bourgeois counter-revolutionaries in general resorted in Kronstadt to slogans calling for an insurrection against the Soviet Government of Russia ostensibly in the interest of the Soviet power. These facts fully prove that the whiteguards strive, and are able, to disguise themselves as Communists, and even as the most Left-wing Communists, solely for the purpose of weakening and destroying the bulwark of the proletarian revolution in Russia.“ (Lenin, Tenth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.))

“The vacillation of the petty-bourgeois element was the most characteristic feature of the Kronstadt events. There was very little that was clear, definite and fully shaped. We heard nebulous slogans about “freedom”, “freedom of trade”, “emancipation”, “Soviets without the Bolsheviks”, or new elections to the Soviets, or relief from “Party dictatorship”, and so on and so forth. Both the Mensheviks and the SRs declared the Kronstadt movement to be “their own”. [Menshevik] Victor Chernov sent a messenger to Kronstadt. On the latter’s proposal, the Menshevik Valk, one of the Kronstadt leaders, voted for the Constituent Assembly. In a flash, with lightning speed, you might say, the whiteguards mobilised all their forces “for Kronstadt“. Their military experts in Kronstadt, a number of experts, and not Kozlovsky alone, drew up a plan for a landing at Oranienbaum, which scared the vacillating mass of Mensheviks, SRs and non-party elements. More than fifty Russian whiteguard newspapers published abroad conducted a rabid campaign “for Kronstadt”. The big banks, all the forces of finance capital, collected funds to assist Kronstadt. That shrewd leader of the bourgeoisie and the landowners, the Cadet Milyukov, patiently explained to the simpleton [Menshevik] Chernov… and to the Mensheviks Dan and Rozhkov, who are in jail in Petrograd for their connection with the Kronstadt events… that there is no need to hurry with the Constituent Assembly, and that Soviet power can and must be supported—only without the Bolsheviks.

Of course, it is easy to be cleverer than conceited simpletons like Chernov, the petty-bourgeois phrase-monger, or like Martov, the knight of philistine reformism doctored to pass for Marxism. Properly speaking, the point is not that Milyukov, as an individual, has more brains, but that, because of his class position, the party leader of the big bourgeoisie sees and understands the class essence and political interaction of things more clearly than the leaders of the petty bourgeoisie, the Chernovs and Martovs. For the bourgeoisie is really a class force which, under capitalism… and which also inevitably enjoys the support of the world bourgeoisie. But the petty bourgeoisie, i.e. … cannot… be anything else than the expression of class impotence; hence the vacillation, phrase-mongering and helplessness…

[Menshevik leader] Martov showed himself to be nothing but a philistine Narcissus when he declared in his Berlin journal that Kronstadt not only adopted Menshevik slogans but also proved that there could be an anti-Bolshevik movement which did not entirely serve the interests of the whiteguards, the capitalists and the landowners. He says in effect: “Let us shut our eyes to the fact that all the genuine whiteguards hailed the Kronstadt mutineers and collected funds in aid of Kronstadt through the banks!” Compared with the Chernovs and Martovs, Milyukov is right, for he is revealing the true tactics of the real whiteguard force, the force of the capitalists and landowners. He declares: “It does not matter whom we support, be they anarchists or any sort of Soviet government, as long as the Bolsheviks are overthrown, as long as there is a shift in power; it does not matter whether to the right or to the left, to the Mensheviks or to the anarchists, as long as it is away from the Bolsheviks… ‘we’, the capitalists and landowners, will do the rest ‘ourselves’… History proves it. The facts bear it out. The Narcissuses will talk; the Milyukovs and whiteguards will act.”
(Lenin, The Tax in Kind)

“You must have noticed that these extracts from the whiteguard newspapers published abroad appeared side by side with extracts from British and French newspapers. They are one chorus, one orchestra… They have admitted that if the slogan becomes “Soviet power without the Bolsheviks” they will all accept it. Milyukov explains this with particular clarity… He says he is prepared to accept the “Soviet power without the Bolsheviks” slogan. He cannot see from over there in Paris whether this is to be a slight shift to the right or to the left, towards the anarchists. From over there, he cannot see what is going on in Kronstadt, but asks the monarchists not to rush and spoil things by shouting about it. He declares that even if the shift is to be to the left, he is prepared to back the Soviet power against the Bolsheviks…”
(Lenin, The All-Russia Congress Of Transport Workers)

SOURCES:

Paul Avrich, Kronstadt: The 1921 Uprising of Sailors in the Context of the Political Development of the New Soviet State

[Avrich provides a lot of useful factual information, however he is pro-anarchist. He sees the Kronstadt mutiny as a tragedy which could never have succeeded but he sympathizes with it. Despite everything he tries to deny that the mutiny was orchestrated by the Whites. He admits that the Kronstadt mutineers collaborated with Whites, Monarchists, Capitalists, foreign powers, Mensheviks and SRs but basically claims “that doesn’t matter”. His book is from 1970 when the archives were still closed. For that reason he relies quite heavily on dishonest Menshevik and Anarchist sources which have nothing to support their claims, and often he takes Petrichenko’s words at face value. He also doesn’t understand Marxism and therefore distorts it. Perhaps it was impossible to publish in American academia unless one reached an anti-bolshevik conclusion? Still he deserves credit for his discoveries.]

White Guard Memorandum On Organizing An Uprising In Kronstadt, reprinted in Avrich

Primary source documents printed in “Kronshtadtskaia tragediia 1921 goda, dokumenty v dvukh knigakh” (“Kronstadt Tragedy”):
-Kuzmin Report, 25 March 1921
-Agranov Report, April 1921
-“To All Posts of Kronstadt,” Kronstadt Izvestia
-Ivan Oreshin, Volia Rossii (April-May 1921)
-Kronstadt March 1 Resolution
-Tseidler, Red Cross Activity in Organizing Provisions Aid to Kronstadt, 25 April 1921.
-Kupolov, “Kronstadt and the Russian Counterrevolutionaries in Finland: From the Notes of a Former Member of the PRC”
-Komarov Report, 25 March 1921
-Von Lampe’s Diary entry
-Minutes of Cheka Interrogation of Anatoly Lamanov

Kronstadt 1921: Bolshevism vs. Counterrevolution, Spartacist #6 Spring 2006
[Very good article, which brought many primary source documents to my attention. The article propagates erroneous Trotskyist views but luckily they have practically nothing to do with the topic of Kronstadt and can thus be ignored.]

Documents on British Foreign Policy 1919-1939

Russkaia voennaia emigratsiaa 20-x—40-x godov

Radek, The Kronstadt Uprising, 1921

History of the USSR volume 3
http://ciml.250x.com/archive/ussr/english/history_of_the_usssr_part3.pdf

Stalin, Articles and Speeches, Moscow, 1934, Russ. ed., p. 217, quoted in History of the USSR vol. 3

Hufvudstadsbladet, March 8, quoted in “The Truth about Kronstadt” by Wright

Kronstadt Izvestia, March 7 & 11, quoted in Wright

Sotsialisticheski Vestnik April 5, 1921, quoted in Wright

“Petrograd et Moscou Seraient aux Maine des Insurgés qui ont Formé un Gouvernement Provisoire.”, Matin, March 7, quoted in Wright

“Der Aufstand in Russland.”, Vossische Zeitung, March 10, quoted in Wright

The Mensheviks in the Kronstadt Mutiny,” Krasnaill Letopis’, 1931, No.2

Dernières Nouvelles de Paris, 8th March quoted in Radek

Trotsky, More on the Suppression of Kronstadt

History of the CPSU(B) short course
https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1939/x01/ch09.htm

Lenin, Once Again On The Trade Unions, The Current Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Buhkarin
https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1921/jan/25.htm

Lenin, The Trade Unions, The Present Situation And Trotsky’s Mistakes
https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1920/dec/30.htm

Lenin, On the Kronstadt revolt
https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1921/mar/15.htm

Lenin, Tenth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.)
https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1921/10thcong/index.htm

Lenin, The All-Russia Congress Of Transport Workers
https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1921/mar/27.htm

Lenin, Third Congress Of The Communist International https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1921/jun/12.htm

Lenin, The Tax in Kind
https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1921/apr/21.htm

The Wallenberg Mystery solved? (CIA/OSS espionage against socialist Hungary)

Practically everybody who reads any book on Hungarian history will run into the name Raoul Wallenberg, Swedish capitalist diplomat and humanitarian. Wallenberg who was in Hungary during WWII used his wealth and diplomatic immunity to protect people from the Nazi bandits of the Hungarian ‘Arrow-Cross’ and the Gestapo. When he disappeared after WWII it became a cliché to accuse Stalin of “killing this innocent heroic man”.

Indeed, Wallenberg doesn’t seem like the typical villain at all, if he really protected people from the Arrow-Cross. So what happened to him? Nobody knew. Every capitalist history book simply repeated the same assumption: ‘Wallenberg was a hero, who was killed by the Soviets for no reason’.

In 2001 documents were discovered by accident in a barn in Virginia. These documents dealt with a highly secret CIA subcontractor, or a spy-ring which worked for the CIA but wasn’t officially part of the CIA. The spy-ring was called ‘The Pond’. It left almost no files, and we can assume what we have discovered is only the tip of the ice-berg. The 2001 documents might be the first verification that The Pond existed, but already in the 60s a disgruntled ex-spy mentioned some of The Pond’s operations in Hungary in his book The Spy and His Masters, written under a false name of course.

After the 2001 discovery the CIA has written an official explanation of what The Pond was and did. There is absolutely no reason why we should simply take their word for it. Instead the official history written by the CIA must be taken with a massive grain of salt. Due to increased interest in the case, the CIA released some information in 2010, confirming that The Pond existed, and revealing names of some of its members. Only three names have been admitted: James McCargar (the disgruntled spy mentioned above, and author of The Spy and His Masters), John Grombach (leader of the spy-ring) and Ruth Fischer (an Austrian-German Trotskyist).

However, there is also reason to believe Wallenberg was another member of The Pond. Indeed, this explains what happened to him. In the 1990s the CIA admitted that Wallenberg had been an agent of the OSS working against the Germans. Having placed an OSS agent in Fascist Hungary, it seems almost self-evident that the the USA kept using this agent to spy on pro-Soviet Hungary after the war. McCargar (who himself was a CIA spy stationed in Hungary disguised as a diplomat) also mentions at least a dozen of other spies and contacts (using fake names of course) he had in Hungary, and some in Switzerland, and his group was certainly not the only one in Hungary at the time.

Though the CIA has admitted since the 90s that Wallenberg was OSS (which later became CIA) one can still read in history books as recent as 2010 (A Concise History of Hungary by Miklos Molnar) and 2018 (Hungary: A Short History by Norman Stone) statements which outright claim or at least imply that Wallenberg was simply an innocent man or a hero, who was attacked by the Soviets for absolutely no reason. Naturally none of these books mention that he was part of a spy-ring intended to attack and potentially destroy the new government of Hungary. They don’t mention it, even though it would actually provide an answer to this mystery, which has puzzled people for decades and decades. Its almost like they don’t want an answer to the mystery? They would rather perpetuate lies, malicious hints and assumptions against the USSR, than give the real answer.

Short critique of Trotskyism

In terms of theory, Trotskyism is a form of revisionism. It tries to change aspects of Marxism-Leninism and replace them with Trotskyism. However, ‘orthodox trotskyists’ (the original type of trotskyists) also agree with Marxism-Leninism on many issues.

Trotsky created only a few new ‘theories’:

  • the idea that Socialism can only be built if it happens in many Western industrial countries at the same time.
  • the idea that the USSR was a “degenerated stalinist state”
  • the idea that workers cannot ally with anti-fascist bourgeoisie or anti-imperialist bourgeoisie

I think all of those ideas are wrong. But like I said, its possible to find some common ground with some Trotskyists.

In terms of its historical role, Trotskyism was anti-communist. Its main goal was to attack and criticize Marxist-Leninist communist parties in all countries, and create propaganda against the Soviet Union. They also collaborated with enemies of the Soviet Union and enemies of communist parties. Sometimes they secretly allied with capitalists and fascists against “stalinist communists”. That is why it was impossible historically for Trotskyists to unite with Marxist-Leninists. Today the situation is a little bit different, as the Soviet Union and “stalinism” no longer exists.

Modern Trotskyists still attack the legacy of the USSR and the legacy of communism. That is a problem. They also advocate incorrect theories. Many (if not most) modern Trotskyist organizations have betrayed orthodox Trotskyism and have accepted worse kinds of revisionist ideas. Some of them defend US imperialism as “spreading democracy” and “overthrowing dictatorships”. Some of them advocate reformism and some of them are basically liberals. But its possible to find some orthodox Trotskyists who can be reasonable, and can agree with Marxist-Leninists on many things. They probably won’t agree about historical events, but they might agree with our modern day tactics and goals.

“Questions of the United Front in Germany“ by Walter Ulbricht (Aug 26. 1939)

Stand of the unity front in the country

 

In the reports of instructors it is said, that the comradely coherence of the antifascist workers became stronger. With the intensification of the political situation in September 1938 and by occasion of questions of work time and wages 1939 the comradely relations to the social-democrats has improved in many enterprises. The solidarity of the workers in the enterprise departments became more firm. That is proven by the resistance movements at the West Wall¹, in the mines and also on many places of the metal industry. In general it did not succeed yet to develop the comradely relations to a political relationship. The connections are large and good, but that all relies on friendship and randomness. The mutual trust is restricted on the hate against fascism.

 

In September 1938 the social resistance movements stepped backed behind the general discussion of the war questions. That seems to be come from, that the main orientation of the antifascists was concentrated on this question. In the report from Rhineland-Westphalia it is being said, that from meetings to prepare the resistance movement could not be spoken about yet. The instructor from Kiel says, that the comradeship became better, but it did not come to organized movements yet. They at least dare to discuss about all possible questions in groups again. Still the collaboration is mostly, to give tips to each other how to prevent piecework pressure.

 

An instructor from the Wasserkante says, that there is unclarity about the how of the struggle to the fall of Hitler and the necessary unity. In diverse reports the comradely relations of communists and social-democrats are already labelled as united front, although in some reports it is said, that over united actions are not spoken about yet.

 

Which character does the united-front-like collaboration between social-democrats and communist groups has?

 

I will bring up some examples, which characterize the most typical things. United-front-like collaboration is existing with such left groups, which are already ideologically close to us. The Mahnruf-Group² in Hamburg is standing in contact with us for some years, although the connection was temporarily lost. They have drafted flyers together with us or accepted the publishing of them. They are against the party directorate, but are not clear about what should come after Hitler yet. They declare, that their agitation has the goal to use very possibility to stir dissatisfaction.

 

At Siemens in Berlin a social-democratic group, which was connected with the leadership of the 10-Points-Group, works united-front-like together with us and also handed out flyers with us.

 

In a city in Ruhr Area a left social-democratic group works with us together for years. They have handed out flyers with us and also wrote to the party directorate and demanded the creation of the united front. Collaboration also exists with at Blohm & Voß in Hamburg with a social-democratic group. The communication over planned executive tasks intern and outside the enterprise does not exist yet. In the other apprehended enterprises in hamburg relations to social-democrats are existing. The relation is that of worker to worker.

 

A group of social-democrats and communists in Berlin has handed out a common flyer against Hitler´s war politics. For sure there are even more social-democratic groups which are collaborating with us.

 

The most characteristic of that collaboration, as far it is in the country itself, is the general propaganda against Hitler´s war politics. Insufficiently is being answered on the main arguments of the Nazis and insufficiently reasoned are these economic, social and directed against fascist enforced actions directed demands, which are useful for bringen the masses into motion.

 

Self-critical it is being said in the Hamburg report: “The thinking and acting of the biggest part of the social-democrats is unknown for us.“ In another report it is being said: “In all areas our friends are still hesitating to create connections with the social-democrats.“ In different reports it is being indicated, that the unclarity over the united and people´s front politics in Spain and France works debilitating.

 

The crisis among the social-democracy

 

The SPD is political and organizationally splintered. They exist in the country as friendship circles, who meet because of diverse, mostly legal reasons. Occasionally social-democratic functionaries use their occupation as small merchants, to meet their social-democratic comrades as customers. Specially the right-wing of the social-democrats are trying to spread the directives of the party directorate on this way. In general a left-development of many social-democrats, specially under the influence of the politics of the Soviet Union, can be detected.

 

1. A minority of active left social-democrats is for the unity of the working class, is ready for single steps of common antifascist propaganda, but has multiple doubts towards our demand of a democratic republic.

 

2. The biggest part of the social-democrats is acting in the representation of daily workers interests, is connected with the masses, is member of mass organizations and is for the democratic republic. Mostly these social-democrats have learned from the past, have a comradely relationship to the communists, but have some political distrust against the KPD.

 

3. The right-wing social-democratic functionaries in the country preach waiting, speculating on the automatically fall of fascism and speak often from a coming military dictatorship.

 

A famous former trade union leader said, that the war would be unpreventable and lead to the defeat of Germany. He says:

 

“It is not task of the German socialists to bring unnecessary victims for work in the country, but we must do anything to get contact to the military forces, which will dictate peace after the lost war by Germany.“

 

Another former social-democratic trade union leader said in discussion with a comrade:

 

“The reform of Marxism is a step forwards… The fascism will collapse by economic difficulties by itself. It is the people´s own fault that the fascism came. Weimar gave the possibility to vote correctly.“

 

The right-wing social-democratic leaders abroad are now going over to develop a reactionary platform as basis of the unification of the social-democrats.

 

Since 1933 the following development phases can be detected:

 

In spring 1933 the party directorate looked for a compromise with the fascism. The Reichstag faction voted for Hitler´s foreign policy and Wels left the executive of II. Internationale. When also the social-democratic leaders had to emigrate, they tried to keep the social-democracy together by concessions towards the left social-democrats. It came the manifesto of January 1934, which created the possibility of united-front-like collaboration of social-democrats and communists.

 

After that the Revolutionary Socialists published their revolutionary platform and inside the social-democratic apparatus the united-front-friendly forces gained influence. The right-wingers in the party directorate did everything they could to smash and prevent the unification of revolutionary social-democrats and removed their representatives step by step from the apparatus.

 

When bigger difficulties in struggle of the people´s front in Spain and France came up, the party directorate demanded the cancelling of unity-front-like collaboration between communists and social-democrats in the country and in Paris.

 

After the party directorate was successful to prevent the common action of revolutionary socialdemocrats in the country, it went over in the second half of the years 1938 to the reasoning of its political positions. Till then it saw itself just as the trustee of the socialdemocracy in Germany, it delcared now in the call of 14. September 1938:

“The directorate of the Social-democratic Party of Germany is the last organ, which was elected by the social-democratic mass organizations in Germany.“³

 

By that it announced again the exclusive leadership-claim. Wels became active again, was elected into the executive of II. Internationale again and united openly with the right-wing elements. A situation has developed in which the right-winged social-democratic leaders do a systematically offensive while the left social-democrats in the country are splintered and a part of the emigrated social-democrats, who are against the party directorate, are standing under influence of diverse Trotskyite groups.

 

The content of the right-wing-social-democratic platform

 

There is no worked out program, but a series of articles by Stampfer, Geyer and others, which were introduces by the declaration of Stampfer, that the working out of a social-democratic program would be necessary, already are being a social-democratic platform. That this so called party directorate is against the united and people´s front, comes from Stampfer´s exposition, that the SPD would have a decisive task due to the position between right-wing groups and communists. Geyer openly propagates an “undogmatic socialism“. Sollmann wrote: “For me class-socialism and class-politics of the workers have failed.“⁴ He delcared, that the Communist Mnaifesto could not be the basis of social-democratic concentration, like it seems some want. Stampfer is in these questions more skillful. He falsifies Marxism, uses for that some Marx quotes to be able to influence a bigger circle of socialdemocratic supporters. From these articles comes the following statement to political foundational questions: In the statement to imperialism in diverse articles he defends the line of SPD during the First World War. Wels says, that the social-democratic policy was right back then. Stampfer says: “Germany could have been united till the end of war, when it had focused on defense targets.“⁵ He defends the so called Peace Resolution⁷ of the Reichstag majority in July 1917. Factly these social-democrats are denying the existence of German imperialism. The aggressive imperialist forces do they see in the top of fascist bureaucracy. They reject to stand for the slogan of defeat of Hitler-Germany in case of war.

 

Towards the character of fascism Stampfer questions: “Was it really the bourgeoisie which brought Hitler into power… ?“⁶ He writes:

 

“He self, Hitler is – it ahs to be said, even when it is awkward – through and through a product of the modern revolutionary development and not thinkable without it.“⁸

 

The rejection of the Hitler regime would be in parts of the bourgeoisie stronger than among the industrial workers.⁹ The “proud Rhinish entrepreneurs“ would not let Hitler dictate them anything.¹⁰ By the way the social-democrats have the position of equating fascism and bolshevism. Geyer writes for example:

 

“The totalitarist idea itself – not just its racist form – is the real enemy of freedom. It lies on the ground of racism like nationalism or the orthodox class struggle teaching.“¹¹

 

In the question of the democratic republic they stand for a “authoritarian democracy“, like Sollmann is calling it. Stampfer is for a “temporary dictatorship of the republicans“¹², by what he means the suppression of the revolutionary forces, like he further explains it in an article, in which he writes: When the communists support the social-democratic politics, then a second Noske-politics is impossible.¹³ Stampfer claims, formerly the working class would have been educated to an overstated power consciousness. He puts today the future constitutional question into the foreground and to disguise the question, which class forces will be active in the future republic, by general speeches about “the people“. To the people´s front they have the opinion, that it would be a kind of coalition politics too and would not contrast from what the social-democracy did in Weimar Republic. To the question, why the SPD rejects the collaboration with the communists, Geyer answers: “The antidemocratic totalitarian ulterior motives are what takes the arguments of the communists all convincing power.“¹⁴ Sollmann writes in a letter to Stampfer:

 

“What is for you and me holy, ´Weimar´, is for others, also social-democrats, in best cases a bunch of errors, of weakness, of illusions, of personal deficiency. This deep border line inside the social-democracy has already in Weimar era hindered some of our actions…“¹⁵

 

What they imagine as a democratic republic, also comes out of the fact, that Sollmann stands for an “estatist structured socialism“¹⁶ and Stampfer speaks about “planned economic, progressive tendencies“ of fascism and demands, that these “progresses“ must be kept in the future republic.

 

Source: Walter Ulbricht “Zur Geschichte der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung – Band II – Zweiter Zusatzband“, Dietz Verlag, Berlin, 1968

 

¹ also known as Siegfried Line

 

² Socialdemocratic group which acted together with communists

 

³ Neuer Vorwärts (Paris), Nr. 274, 18. September 1938, German

 

⁴ Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 284, 27. November 1938, German

 

⁵ Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 321, 13. August 1939, German

 

⁶ A resolution by socialdemocrats around Friedrich Ebert and Philipp Scheidemann in July 1917, being adopted by SPD, Zentrum and FVP (in Weimar later DDP) [so by the later “Weimar Coalition“]. In it is being denied that World War I is an aggressive war by Germany and it is claimed that just the other nations would want to crush Germany. So it was a denial of the existence of German imperialism.

 

⁷ Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 310, 28. Mai 1939, German

 

⁸ Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 275, 25. September 1938, German

 

⁹ cf. Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 312, 11. Juni 1939, German

 

¹⁰ cf. Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 310, 28. Mai 1939, German

 

¹¹ Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 321, 13. August 1939, German

 

¹² Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 274, 16. September 1938, German

 

¹³ cf. Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 311, 4. June 1939, German

 

¹⁴ Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 321, 13. August 1939, German

 

¹⁵ Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 284, 27. November 1938, German

¹⁶ “Ständesozialismus“ (“Estate-Socialism“) like used as a phrase in fascist Austria 1933-1938; it is an euphemistic term to disguise the character of fascism, just like “National-Socialism“ in Nazi-Germany

Thanks to The Red Path!

Moscow Trials (Part 3 – THE GREAT PURGE)

The so-called Great Purge is best defined as a period of intense political turmoil inside the Soviet Party & State Apparatus, although it did also spread outside it to the military and other segments of the population.


The Military Purge & Vlasovites

The purge of the military involved hunting down anti-government elements, nazi-sympathisers, trotskyists, bourgeois nationalists & corrupt careerists inside the Soviet Red Army. In previous parts I already discussed the Tukhachevsky Trial, however the military purge extended beyond merely removing Marshall Tukhachevsky and some other Red Army leaders connected with him. Many lower officers were also demoted or removed, even arrested.

However the numbers of the people removed or arrested are wildly exaggerated in Western cold-war propaganda. One often hears ridiculous speculations about half, or even 75% of the Red Army leadership being removed, and in effect this greatly damaging the defensive capability of the USSR. This is baseless.

In reality the number of military leaders kept constantly increase during the course of war preparations. The number increased from approximately 140,000 to almost 300,000 within the years 1937-1939. The purge reached its height in 1937 when 7.7% of the army leaders were removed. (Let us also note that 30% of all those removed were re-instated in the military before the Second World War.)

This 7.7% is nothing close to the claimed 50-75% and would not have crippled the army. In reality, as there were fifth columnists and unreliable elements in the army, it was crucial they be removed. There were attempted Nazi or Pro-Nazi military coups and conspiracies in many other countries such as Finland, USA, Brazil, Denmark, Romania, Brazil and elsewhere. There were pro-nazi elements and collaborators in all the allied countries but this is often forgotten by anti-communist propagandists who accuse the USSR of paranoia and pointlessly purging the army & state.

Year 1937 1938 1939
Total number of military leader 144300 179000 282300
Number of leaders removed 11043 6742 205
Leaders removed (%) 7.7% 3.7% 0.08%

(Source: Getty, Stalinist Terror)


Even despite this purge there were notable cases of Soviet generals or officers defecting to the fascist side, most famously
general Vlasov, Bunyachenko and Meandrov. There were Brits, French and Americans also fighting on the Nazi side. In the case of the British and French they formed entire battalions: British Free Corps, Legion of French Volunteers Against Bolshevism and individual Americans served in the Luftwaffe, Wehrmacht and SS-Standarte Kurt Eggers. Nazi collaboration and plots were a real threat.


The Purge of the Bureaucracy

Anti-Communists claim the purge was something ordered by Stalin to crush dissent. In actuality this is a major misconception. The purge was many different contradictory things. On the one hand it was the state removing enemies, nazi-sympathisers, trotskyists and bourgeois elements. However this didn’t happen with the State crushing popular dissent, instead it mostly targeted the state and bureaucracy itself.

Not only that but together with the NKVD hunt for enemies there was a wave of populist anti-bureaucratism and denouncing of corrupt careerists and right-wing elements by the lower ranks and non-party members.

“The two radical currents of the 1930s had converged in July 1937, and the resulting turbulence destroyed the bureaucracy …. Antibureaucratic populism and police terror destroyed the offices as well as the officeholders. Radicalism had turned the political machine inside out and destroyed the party bureaucracy.” (Getty)

“(T)he center was trying to unleash criticism of the middle-level apparat by the rank-and-file activists. Without official sanction and pressure from above, it would have been impossible for the rank and file, on their own, to organize and sustain such a movement against their immediate superiors.”
(Ibid.)

“The evidence suggests that the … ‘Great Purges’ should be redefined. It was not the result of a petrified bureaucracy’s stamping out dissent and annihilating old radical revolutionaries. In fact, it may have been just the opposite … a radical, even hysterical, reaction to bureaucracy. The entrenched officeholders were destroyed from above and below in a chaotic wave of voluntarism and revolutionary puritanism.” (Ibid.)

Yagoda’s Right-Wing plot

“Kirov in Leningrad must be removed… Brothers, fascists, if you can’t get to Stalin, kill Gorky, kill the poet Demiyan Bieni, kill Kaganovich.”
~ Za Rossiyu, Nov. 1, 1934 (Organ of the fascist Russian National League of New Regeneration)

Kulaks, ex-capitalists & nationalists would have served as the popular base for an anti-soviet coup’de’tat. But there were anti-soviet forces at every level of Soviet society, including among the military men, officials and police men.

The NKVD chief Genrikh Yagoda was part of the Right-Wing conspiracy led by the Bukharin-Tomsky-Rykov triumphirate. He was complicit in the Leningrad Zinovievite-Trotskyite group’s assassination of party secretary Sergei Kirov.

“In 1934, before the murder of Kirov, the terrorist Leonid Nikolayev was picked up by OGPU agents in Leningrad. In his possession they found a gun. and a chart showing the route which Kirov traveled daily. When Yagoda was notified of Nikolayev’s arrest, he instructed Zaporozhetz, assistant chief of the Leningrad OGPU, to release the terrorist without further examination. Zaporozhetz was one of Yagoda’s men. He did what he was told. A few weeks later, Nikolayev murdered Kirov.”
(Kahn & Sayers, The Great Conspiracy)

“Yenukidze informed Maximov that “whereas formerly the Rights calculated that the Soviet Government could be overthrown by organizing certain of the more anti-Soviet minded strata of the population, and in particular the kulaks, now the situation had changed… and it is necessary to proceed to more active methods of seizing power.” Yenukidze described the new tactics of the conspiracy. In agreement with the Trotskyites, he said, the Rights had adopted a decision to eliminate a number of their political opponents by terrorist means.”

“Preparations for it have already begun,” Yenukidze added. He told Maximov that Yagoda was behind all this, and the conspirators had his protection.”
(Ibid.)

The forces of the conspiracy were: the forces of Yenukidze plus Yagoda, their organizations in the Kremlin and in the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs
~Bukharin, court proceedings

“Not all the details are yet known of the strange struggle which Stalin carried on for years against his own secret police…. The leading members of the secret police, which had become a separate caste, were bound neither to any ideology nor to any party policy. What they wanted–in the name, of course, and for the benefit of, the party–was far-reaching powers and also certain material advantages… They therefore kept up a continual struggle against any limitation of their authority. When Stalin sought to impose certain restrictions on their right to pronounce death sentences, they simply secured that the new courts which were to hear certain cases with the public excluded, should be formed from their own members, that is to say members of the police caste. Stalin’s continual pressure for more rigid supervision by organs of the party was just what drove Yagoda and his colleagues into opposition and later into conspiracy.”
(Nikolaus Basseches, Stalin p. 236)

The Right-Wing conspirator Grigory Tokaev, member of the Red Army who defected to the British in 1948 was part of a group which had connections to the Zinovievite-Trotskyite conspirators but also to Yenukidze & Yagoda. He wrote in his 1956 book:

“Not that our movement was completely at one with the Sheboldayev-Yenukidze group, but we knew what they were doing and… considered it our revolutionary duty to help them at a critical moment …. We disagreed on details, but these were nevertheless brave and honorable men, who had many a time saved members of our group, and who had a considerable chance of success.”
(Tokaev, Comrade X)

“The NKVD… took another step forward. The Little Politbureau had penetrated the Yenukidze-Sheboldayev and the Yagoda-Zelinsky conspiracies, and broken through the opposition’s links within the central institutions of the political police… Yagoda was removed from the NKVD, and we lost a strong link in our opposition intelligence service.”
(Tokaev, Comrade X)

 

The Ezhovshchina – “Ezhov-terror”

How can anyone now allow himself the stupidity of criticizing Stalin for repression and crimes? This was a psychosis that was cleverly instituted by Yezhov and other enemies of the State… this psychosis took over the minds of millions of people. Practically all were involved in looking for “enemies” … the resolution to do these things which were undertaken by the REAL ENEMIES of the Soviet people. No directives either of Stalin, Molotov, or Voroshilov were to be found in all of these documents.”
(Aleksei Rybin, Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard)

Another complication in the Purge was the so-called Ezhovshchina, the terror initiated by NKVD chief Nikolai Ezhov. While the NKDV cracked down on real enemies, real conspirators and counter-revolutionaries the leader of the NKVD itself, Ezhov was himself an anti-soviet conspirator. He protected the real conspirators to the best of his ability, while also arresting and even executing many innocent people to create popular distrust and hatred toward the government:

“Ezhov interrogation 04.30.39

“All this was done in order to cause widespread dissatisfaction in the population with the leadership of the Party and the Soviet government and in that way to create the most favorable base for carrying out our conspiratorial plans.””
(Pavliukov 525-6)

Enemies hiding in the party also expelled many members to create distrust and hatred towards the party and the government. One of them said:

“We endeavored to expel as many people from the party as possible. We expelled people when there were no grounds for expulsion. We had one aim in view – to increase the number of embittered people and thus increase the number of our allies.” (Getty)

Stalin responded by urging caution and trying to limit the amount of expulsions.

“It was necessary to hunt down active Trotskyites but not everyone who had been casually involved with them, Stalin announced. In fact, such a crude approach could “only harm the cause of the struggle with the active Trotskyist wreckers and spies.” … Each case of expulsion from the party for connections with the former oppositions should be dealt with carefully”
(Thurston, Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia p. 47-48)

“…the specific remedies he [Stalin] proposed for the remaining “problems” were in the benign areas of party education and propaganda rather than repression.”
(Getty & Naumov, p. 129)

In the end many expulsions were discovered to be unjustified and many members were allowed back in their posts:

“In the majority of cases the commission examined from 40 to 60 percent of those thrown out of the party had been reinstated. ”
(Thurston, p. 107)

In 1938 Ezhov’s actions were exposed and he was removed from power and sentenced as a traitor. Journalist Edgar Snow wrote about the Purge, or more accurately the Ezhovshchina:

“The sadistic Yagoda and Yezhov, who for a time ruled a state within a state–the GPU, were chiefly responsible for these outrages. By Yagoda’s own account his hirelings faked thousands of documents and so mixed up the records that it was impossible to tell a genuine dossier from a bogus one. Curiously the public does not seem to blame Stalin for having permitted such a Frankenstein to develop, but instead gives him credit for having cleaned up the Yagoda gang and brought the secret police back under full control of the Politburo–which he did when the GPU was crushed.”
(Edgar Snow, The Pattern of Soviet Power p. 148)

When Stalin still thought the NKVD under Ezhov’s command was carrying out wrongful actions only mistakenly, not deliberately, he said that:

“Wholesale expulsions based on this “heartless attitude” alienated party members and therefore served the needs of the party’s enemies. According to Stalin, such embittered comrades could provide addittional reserves for the Trotskyists “because the incorrect policy of some of our comrades on the question of expulsion from the party… creates these reserves… It is high time to put a stop to this outrageous practice, comrades.””
(Getty, Origins of the Great Purges p. 147)

Stalin and the Politburo tried to stop the NKVD from committing excesses. Eventually he would become suspicious and realize Yezhov and Yagoda had been carrying out these anti-people activities deliberately to create de-stabilization, popular resentment and distrust in the government.

The Communist Party Central Committee issued a decree to limit the NKVD’s power. They were worried that the NKVD’s wrong actions could cause mass resentment among the population. It would take some time until they learned this was precisely what Ezhov attempted to do:

“I. ON DISCONTINUING THE MASS EXPULSIONS OF PEASANTS
All mass expulsions of peasants are to cease at once… Only persons accused of counterrevolution, terroristic acts, sabotage… [and other serious crimes] may be taken into preventive custody.”

“The organs of the OGPU are to obtain the prior consent of the directorate of the procuracy in making arrests, except in cases involving terroristic acts, explosions, arson, espionage, defection, political gangsterism, and counter-revolutionary, antiparty groups…” (Getty & Naumov)

“In 1937 and 1938, Stalin and company tried to contain radicalism through press articles, speeches, revised electoral plans, and deglorifying the police. That they had to take such measures shows their lack of tight control over events.” (Getty, Origins of the Great Purges)

In June 1936, Stalin interrupted Yezhov at a Central Committee Plenum to complain about so many party members being expelled: 
YEZHOV: Comrades, as a result of the verification of party documents, we expelled more than 200,000 members of the party. 
STALIN: [interrupts] Very many. 
YEZHOV: Yes, very many. I will speak about this…. 
STALIN: [interrupts] If we expelled 30,000… and 600 former Trotskyists and Zinovievists, it would be a bigger victory. 
YEZHOV: More than 200,000 members were expelled. Part of this number of party members, as you know, have been arrested. 
At about this time, Stalin wrote a letter to regional party secretaries complaining about their excessive “repression” of the rank-and-file. This led to a national movement to reinstate expelled party members,… 
[Later in this plenum, Stalin spoke specifically on this question. Circumstantial evidence suggests that he was genuinely concerned that too many of the rank-and-file had been expelled because such large numbers of disaffected former members could become an embittered opposition.”
(
Getty and Manning, Stalinist Terror)

In 1938 Stalin and the Politbureau finally became so suspicious of Ezhov they appointed Beria as the NKVD second-in-command to keep an eye on Ezhov. Within the year Ezhov was removed:

“By the fall of 1938 Yezhov’s leadership of the NKVD was under steady fire from various directions. The regime responded officially on Nov. 17, in a joint resolution of the Sovnarkom and the party Central Committee. This document went to thousands of officials across the USSR in the NKVD, the Procuracy, and the party, down to the raion level. Thus, the acknowledgement that grotesque mistakes and injustice had occurred … Enemies of the people and foreign spies had penetrated the security police and the judicial system and had “consciously…carried out massive and groundless arrests.”
(
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, p. 114)

 

Ezhov the Traitor

“Beria … at a closed joint session of the Central Committee and the Central Control Committee of the Party, held in the autumn of 1938 … declared that if Yezhov were not a deliberate Nazi agent, he was certainly an involuntary one. He had turned the central offices of the NKVD into a breeding ground for fascist agents.” Tokaev

“Yezhov bears great personal responsibility for the destruction of legality, for the falsification of investigative cases.” (Getty and Manning, Stalinist Terror, p. 29)

“The airplane designer Yakovlev recalls the following in his memoirs:
In the summer of 1940 Stalin said these precise words in a conversation with me:
Yezhov is a rat; in 1938 he killed many innocent people. We shot him for that.””
(Roy Medvedev, Let History Judge p. 529)

Ezhov as a member of the right-wing conspiracy was involved with foreign powers, with the Bukharin-tomsky-Rykov trio and Yagoda-Yenukidze plot:

“Later, in 1939, during interrogation, Ezhov confirmed that in 1935 he had indeed gone again to Vienna to be treated for pneumonia by Dr. Noorden … he confessed to having used the visit for contacting the German intelligence service.” (Jansen & Petrov, Yezhov p. 36)

As Stalin and Beria were on his trail Ezhov and his group hastily began thinking of ways to save themselves:

“After his arrest, Ezhov was accused of having schemed against the Party leadership. He testified himself that after arrests began within the NKVD he, together with Frinovskii, Dagin, and Evdokimov, made plans to commit a “putsch” on 7 November 1937… Dagin, who was chief of the NKVD guard department, was to execute the plan, but on 5 November he was arrested, followed a few days later by Evdokimov. Ezhov alone could not prevent Beria’s initiative. “This way all our plans collapsed.”
(Ibid.) 

“Evdokimov gave similar evidence. According to him, in September he discussed the threatening situation after Beria’s appointment with Ezhov, Frinovskii, and Bel’skii. Allegedly, they agreed to prepare an attempt on Stalin and Molotov. Ezhov was also said to have had plans to murder Beria.”
(Ibid.)

“After arrest he [Yezhov] himself confessed to having conspired against Stalin and having planned an attempt on him; this was confirmed by a number of accomplices and witnesses.”
(Ibid.)

 

Putting an end to Ezhovshchina

On November 17, 1938, Stalin and Molotov issued a decision, putting an end to Ezhov’s excesses:

“The general operations — to crush and destroy enemy elements — conducted by the NKVD in 1937-1938, during which investigation and hearing procedures were simplified, showed numerous and grave defects in the work of the NKVD and prosecutor. Furthermore, enemies of the people and foreign secret service spies penetrated the NKVD, both at the local and central level. They tried by all means to disrupt investigations. Agents consciously deformed Soviet laws, conducted massive and unjustified arrests and, at the same time, protected their acolytes, particularly those who had infiltrated the NKVD.

“The completely unacceptable defects observed in the work of the NKVD and prosecutors were only possible because enemies of the people had infiltrated themselves in the NKVD and prosecutor offices, used every possible method to separate the work of the NKVD and prosecutors from the Party organs, to avoid Party control and leadership and to facilitate for themselves and for their acolytes the continuation of their anti-Soviet activities.

“The Council of People’s Commissars and the Central Committee of the CPSU(b) resolves:

“1. To prohibit the NKVD and prosecutors from conducting any massive arrest or deportation operation ….

“The CPC and the CC of the CPSU(b) warn all NKVD and prosecutor office employees that the slightest deviation from Soviet laws and from Party and Government directives by any employee, whoever that person might be, will result in severe legal proceedings.

-V. Molotov, J. Stalin.”
(Nouvelles de Moscou p. 15)

“Other opposition to Yezhov manifested itself at the beginning of 1938. At that time, a large group of NKVD employees complained to the Central Committee about Yezhov. They accused him of illegal use of government funds and also of the secret execution of a number of prominent party members without investigation or a court examination. In January 1938, the Central Committee Plenum produced a resolution criticizing excessive vigilance. Prominent in the movement to criticize Yezhov’s actions was Zhdanov, who played an important role in drafting the January 1938 resolution.”
(Getty and Manning p. 36)

“…at the end of 1938 Stalin removed Yezhov, disavowed the latter’s excesses, ordered the arrest of the purgers, and released a number of those “falsely arrested.””
(Getty & Naumov, p. 419)

“In December 1938, the campaign came to a complete halt. Most pending investigations for counter-revolutionary activities were dropped and the suspects released. Yezhov was dismissed as head of the NKVD and replaced by Beria. A number of leading NKVD officers were arrested and some executed for having extracted false confessions. Most regional heads of the security police were purged, and many were subject to criminal actions. Past abuses were widely criticized. Both Yagoda and Yezhov were denounced as enemies of the people. Numerous cases were reinvestigated and quite a few of the sentenced released”
(Szymanski, Human Rights in the Soviet Union p. 239)

 

Lack of oversight. This allowed Ezhov to function.

When interviewed by Feliks Chuev for his memoirs, Molotov gave the following explanation:

CHUEV: Didn’t the security agencies place themselves above the party?
MOLOTOV: No, that’s not so…. There was not enough time. We lacked resources. I did not say that the Politburo was overly trusting, but I did say that insufficient oversight was exercised. I disagree that we were overly trusting. The oversight was inadequate.”
(Feliks Chuev, Molotov Remembers, p. 262)

“I believe there were deficiencies and mistakes. It couldn’t have been otherwise with our enemies operating within the security agencies in charge of investigations…. The major deficiencies were that the security agencies had been left without due oversight by the party during certain periods. The negligence was not purposeful. The resources for adequate oversight were insufficient.”
(Ibid p. 287)

“…These errors were largely caused by the fact that at certain stages the investigations fell into the hands of people who were later exposed as traitors guilty of heinous, hostile, antiparty acts. ”
(p. 288)

 

Ezhovshchina’s role compared to the Purging of real enemies

Despite dwelling on the Ezhovshchina, the majority of enemies arrested & executed were not innocents. The purge was a period of extreme political turmoil but it still only affected a minority of the soviet population. Its impact has been exaggerated.

“To the rest of the world it seemed at the time that Russia was enveloped in a smothering atmosphere of plots, murders, and purges. Actually this was a superficial view since, although the rest of the world was morbidly interested in the trials to the exclusion of anything else about Russia, only a tiny percentage of the population was involved and the same years which saw the treason trials saw some of the greatest triumphs of Soviet planning. While the screws tightened on a tiny minority the majority of Soviet people were enjoying greater prosperity and greater freedom.”
(Jerome Davis, Behind Soviet Power , p. 30)

“In the so called Moscow trials 55 people got capital punishment and 7 imprisonment. Most of those prosecuted were persons in high positions in the party, the state apparatus and the army”
(Mario Sousa, The Class Struggle During the Thirties in the Soviet Union)

Propagandists like Robert Conquest, Solzhenitsyn and Snyder claim that tens of millions perished in the purge, they even ignore the very real nazi-collaboration and trotskyite-bukharinite opposition inside the country. Despite Solzhenitsyn claiming that Stalin had killed 60 million people, nearly half of the Soviet population, the real facts say something very different:

“The true number of those falsely accused of counter-revolutionary activities who were executed in the 1936-38 period, is probably between 20,000 and 100,000… the popular conception of the bloodiness of the Great Purge is a gross exaggeration cultivated by those concerned to discredit developments in the Soviet Union in the 1930s and since, as well as the contemporary or revolutionary process in other countries.”
(Albert Szymanski, Human Rights in the Soviet Union)

“…(t)he archival evidence from the secret police rejects the astronomically high estimates often given for the number of terror victims.”
(Getty & Naumov, p. xiv)

“(t)he data available at this point make it clear that the number shot in the two worst purge years [1937-38] was more likely in the hundreds of thousands than in the millions… there are good reasons for assuming that they are not wildly wrong because of the consistent way numbers from different sources compare with one another.”
(Getty & Naumov, p. 591-93)

Despite the hysterical anti-communist propaganda, most of those sentenced were guilty, not innocent. The destruction of the anti-soviet Fifth Column was necessary.

“…To say that all the repressions were unwarranted is, I consider, incorrect. There was a sufficiently high number of enemies in the country after the revolution, dissatisfied people–political criminals as well as ordinary criminals. There was also a good deal of banditry going on in the country; on the collective farms they had to put up with murders of activists and people taking up arms. There were victims, of course. The repressions about which so much is written and talked about today were not at all on the scale that is stated now. “Hundreds of millions of repressed”, they say. Nonsense!”
(Rosamond Richardson, Stalin’s Shadow)

“For 10 years I have worked alongside some of the many recently shot, imprisoned, or exiled in Russia as wreckers. Some of my friends have asked me whether or not I believe these men and women are guilty as charged. I have not hesitated a moment in replying that I believe most of them are guilty.”
–Bruce Franklin (in The Essential Stalin p. 26)

The Fifth Column was at our doorstep. Without destroying them we could not have won the war.”
–Kaganovich (
Feliks Chuyev, Thus Spake Kaganovich)

If the fifth column had not been dealt with the USSR would probably have faced the same fate as Norway, Czechoslovakia and France:

“… the Fascists had their own way in the country at large and in the Army. The anti-Communist agitation was a smoke screen behind which was being prepared the great political conspiracy that was to paralyze France and facilitate Hitler’s work… The most efficient instruments of the Fifth Column… were Weygand, Petain and Laval… as they had seized power amid the confusion of the collapse, Petain and Weygand, with the help of Laval and Darlan, hastened to suppress all political liberties, gag the people, and set up a Fascist regime.”
–French Minister of Aviation Pierre Cot, Triumph of Treason

“Hitler’s march into Prague in 1939 was accompanied by the active military support of Henlein’s organizations in Czechoslovakia. The same thing was true of his invasion of Norway. There were no Sudeten Henleins, no Slovakian Tisos, no Belgian De Grelles, no Norwegian Quislings in the Russian picture…

The story had been told in the so-called treason or purge trials of 1937 and 1938 which I attended and listened to. In re examining the record of these tasks and also what I had written at the time… I found that practically every device of German Fifth Columnist activity, as we now know it, was disclosed and laid bare by the confessions and testimony elicited at these trials of self-confessed “Quislings” in Russia…

All of these trials, purges, and liquidations, which seemed so violent at the time and shocked the world, are now quite clearly a part of a vigorous and determined effort of the Stalin government to protect itself from not only revolution from within but from attack from without. They went to work thoroughly to clean up and clean out all treasonable elements within the country. All doubts were resolved in favor of the government.

There were no Fifth Columnists in Russia in 1941 – they had shot them. The purge had cleansed the country and rid it of treason.”
~Joseph E. Davies

Unfortunately, many foreigners left the Soviet Union during 1937 and 1938 for one reason or another, carrying away with them the impression that the purge ended everything, or at least ended something; an epoch, let us say. Everyone worthwhile had been arrested or shot, it seemed. This impression was basically incorrect. The purge caused many arrests, but the Soviet Union was large, and millions of Russians who had not been involved personally in the purge took it more or less as it came without allowing it permanently to influence their attitude toward the Soviet power. So that in the end of 1938 when the purge ended, when hundreds of arrested people were released with terse apologies for ‘mistakes’ of the investigators, when new arrests stopped or almost stopped, most of the workers in Magnitogorsk had an essentially cheerful and optimistic view of things.” 
(
Scott, John. Behind the Urals)

 

Conclusion

The notion that the Purge was the action of an omnipotent state machine to crack down on dissent has proven incorrect. The purge most of all targeted the bureacy itself and not so much the general public.

The idea that all those accused of treason were innocent victims of frame-ups has also been proven false. The axis fifth column in Soviet Russia was destroyed but individual members of it still lived to escape to the West and tell of their treason. However these individuals are ignored by anti-communist propagandists. They don’t fit the narrative.

The purge was a somewhat hysterical and paranoid reaction, but to very real threats and very real enemies.

There is good evidence to believe most of those punished were really guilty. The number of victims is blown out of all proportion by cold-war propagandists like Robert Conquest, Solzhenitsyn and their modern followers. The fact that archival evidence and other kinds of reliable evidence were not available to western researchers in the cold-war, allowed them to speculate wildly and invent such insane death tolls as 10 million, 20 million or even 60 million.

When the Soviet Union collapsed anti-communist propagandists refused to believe Soviet population was as high as it was, it should have been half of that, if we were to believe tens of millions had been killed and another 27 million had died in WWII.

Many modern western researchers give the real number of deaths as around 700,000 (less then 0.5% of the population) and this includes those wrongfully killed by Ezhov which cannot be blamed on the Soviet Communist Party, while there are those who also propose even lower figures.

The purge was an expression of vicious class struggle and the aftermath of the Revolution & Civil war.

In its method, motive or scale it doesn’t compare to capitalist genocides like:

The Congolese genocide: Belgian Leopold II’s killing 10 million congolese causing the population of the Congo to fall by 25%. The Congo was Leopold’s “private property” which he could exploit as he saw fit.

The Haitian genocide: European colonialists killed off most of the indigineous population (about a million people)

Spanish conquest of the Americas wiped out most of the indigineous population causing it to fall from estimated 22 million to around mere 2 million.

The slave trade killed an approximate 100 million African slaves.

The Nazi holocaust systematically exterminated millions and their wars of aggression killed tens of millions more.

The CIA orchestrated the mass killing of from 500,000 to up a million suspected communists in Indonesia and carried out similar atrocities in other countries.

The United States has killed countless millions around the world in wars of aggression in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan etc. and consciously wiped out most of it’s own native populations.

Some will argue that those things happened a long time ago. But so did the Great Purge. While the purge happened in the late 30s, at the same time capitalist Great Britain still advocated bloody colonialism and knowingly starved millions of Bengalese. At the same time France still considered Vietnam as its own property and pursued a similar policy of shipping rice out from Vietnam starving millions. Supported by German banks and industrial capitalists, Hitler was killing millions of jews, slavs, communists & democratic forces.

In 1953 the CIA overthrows the democratically elected president of Iran and institutes a dictatorship. A year later the CIA overthrows the Guatemalan president and sets up a puppet dictator. The same year the CIA begins to attack independence forces in Vietnam.

The USA which still followed a policy of racial segregation, initiates CIA operation MOCKINGBIRD and recruits hundreds of journalists in various media outlets to become operatives. Shortly 25 biggest media outlets have CIA operatives controlling them.

Atrocities, even genocides, murderous wars of profit, toppling democratic governments, racist policies, outright colonialism & slavery by the capitalist powers are largely ignored by capitalist anti-communist propaganda. Communist wrong doings are invented, or exaggerated and all context is removed. Those targeted are described as innocent victims, whether they be fascists, supporters of monarchist absolutism, colonialism or simply criminals. Anything the communists do is declared to be bad.

History has been turned on its head by the anti-communists. Nazi collaborators & colonialists are treated as respectable figures. To hide their own wrong doings they blame others. Facts are not on their side, but they control distribution. They have a louder voice. The consensus by the corporate and right-wing media and academia to cover up capitalist crimes and slander socialism, can be called nothing else but a modern OPERATION MOCKINGBIRD.

 

SOURCES & BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Getty, Stalinist Terror https://books.google.fi/books?redir_esc=y&id=NWYvGYcxCjYC&q=officer#v=snippet&q=officer&f=false

Kahn & Sayers, The Great Conspiracy
http://www.shunpiking.org/books/GC/

Nikolaus Basseches, Stalin quoted here:
https://espressostalinist.com/the-real-stalin-series/yezhovshchina/

Bruce Franklin (The Essential Stalin) available at:
http://marxism.halkcephesi.net/trotskyism/the%20essential%20Stalin.htm

Rosamond Richardson, Stalin’s Shadow

Albert Szymanski, Human Rights in the Soviet Union
https://ia800300.us.archive.org/6/items/HumanRightsInTheSovietUnion/Human%20Rights%20in%20the%20Soviet%20Union.pdf

Jerome Davis, Behind Soviet Power
https://books.google.fi/books/about/Behind_Soviet_power.html?id=DV0fAQAAMAAJ&redir_esc=y

Feliks Chuev, Molotov Remembers

Jansen & Petrov, Yezhov
https://books.google.fi/books/about/Stalin_s_Loyal_Executioner.html?id=KqojAQAAIAAJ&redir_esc=y

Roy Medvedev, Let History Judge (try to find original source)

Getty, Origins of the Great Purges
https://books.google.fi/books/about/Origins_of_the_Great_Purges.html?id=R5zx54LB-A4C&redir_esc=y

Edgar Snow, The Pattern of Soviet Power
https://ia800203.us.archive.org/6/items/ThePatternOfSovietPower/The%20Pattern%20of%20Soviet%20Power.pdf

Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror
https://books.google.fi/books/about/The_Road_to_Terror.html?id=wZ-v1Gj7UhIC&redir_esc=y

Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia
https://books.google.fi/books/about/Life_and_Terror_in_Stalin_s_Russia_1934.html?id=BgQpfVi8Z-wC&redir_esc=y

Pavliukov, Aleksei. Ezhov. Biografiia

Tokaev, Comrade X
http://epizodsspace.airbase.ru/bibl/inostr-yazyki/Tokaev_Comrade_X_1956.pdf


Feliks Chuyev, Thus Spake Kaganovich

Scott, John. Behind the Urals
https://books.google.fi/books?redir_esc=y&id=JvH63H0s0agC&q=bandits#v=snippet&q=These%20agents%20bred%20purges&f=false


Joseph Davies, Mission to Moscow
https://archive.org/details/missiontomoscow035156mbp

Genocide of Congo
http://www.walkingbutterfly.com/2010/12/22/when-you-kill-ten-million-africans-you-arent-called-hitler/

The death toll of transatlantic slave-trade is controversial. 105 million death toll is the absolute max. This article places it at an approximate 60 million.
http://www.worldfuturefund.org/Reports/Slavedeathtoll/slaverydeathtoll.html

CIA & Suharto mass killing in Indonesia
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/aug/01/indonesia.comment

The Haitian native population fell by 85%
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/what-became-of-the-taino-73824867/

Aztec & Inca population
http://dopeaztec.weebly.com/graph-charttable.html

The Moscow Trials (Part 2: COURT PROCEEDINGS)

The Trials (1936-1938)

The Moscow Trials were a series of separate though connected trials. They were the following:

August 19-24, 1936 “The Case of the Trotskyite Zinovievite Terrorist Centre” known widely as the “Zinoviev-Kamenev Trial”. This trial mainly concerned the Trotskyist-Zinovievite underground and their connection with the Murder of Sergei Kirov.

January 23-30, 1937 “The Case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Centre” or “The Piatakov-Radek Trial” which continued the NKVD investigation of the Trotskyite conspiratorial bloc.

May-June 1937 “Tukhachevsky Affair” concerning the military conspiracy and collaboration with foreign powers & fascists.

And finally, March 2-13, 1938 “The Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites.’” or “the Bukharin Rykov Trial” which convicted the last major members of the conspiracy. At this point it had become clear that the main conspiracies were actually all connected. The military conspiracy, the underground political opposition bloc and the wrecking in industry, espionage for foreign powers etc.

The parties involved in each were not in agreement but they worked together towards the common enemy. Some members were Trotskyists who agreed to help Germany for their own reasons, others were bourgeois elements hostile to the USSR or Bukharinites. Many were ex-members of the Left Opposition, United Opposition or the Right-Opposition, but not all. Some were recruited by Trotskyists, some by Zinovievites or Bukharinites. Some were in contact with Sedov or even Trotsky but most were not. Others were recruited by German intelligence and had no direct connection to Trotskyism at all.

But how believable were the accusations? How fair were the Trials in reality?


Main counter arguments:

1) Allegation that the accusations were incredible.

These days one often hears the claim that such a conspiracy was incredible, unbelievable, couldn’t have happened or something else to that effect. Really the findings of the Moscow Trials were widely accepted in mainstream discussion until Khruschevs’ Secret Speech of 1956. We will return to this detail later. The evidence the Soviets had was strong and credible, in the end only few groupings chose to disbelieve it due to political convictions. These groups were hardcore anti-communists & Trotskyists.

Of course Trotsky would have known the Trial findings were accurate. Similarly the Anti-Communists might have believed them also. Still both parties accused the Soviets of wrongdoing or frame ups in their own propaganda for obvious propaganda reasons.

U.S. Embassador to the USSR Joseph E. Davies was present at the Moscow Trials and said he felt the trial was fair and not staged:

“With an interpreter at my side, I followed the testimony carefully. Naturally I must confess that I was predisposed against the credibility of the testimony of these defendants… Viewed objectively, however, and based upon my experience in the trial of cases and the application of the tests of credibility which past experience had afforded me, I arrived at the reluctant conclusion that the state had established its case, at least to the extent of proving the existence of a widespread

conspiracy and plot among the political leaders against the Soviet government, and which under their statutes established the crimes set forth in the indictment… I am still impressed with the many indications of credibility which obtained in the course of the testimony. To have assumed that this proceeding was invented and staged as a project of dramatic political fiction would be to presuppose the creative genius of a Shakespeare and the genius of a Belasco in stage production. The historical background and surrounding circumstances also lend credibility to the testimony. The reasoning which Sokolnikov and Radek applied in justification of their various activities and their hoped-for results were consistent with probability and entirely plausible. The circumstantial detail… brought out by the various accused, gave unintended corroboration to the gist of the charges.”
(Davies, Mission to Moscow)

Davies was not alone in his views. He wrote in his diary:

“DIARY Moscow February 11, 37

The Belgian Minister, De Tellier, has been here a long time. I had a most interesting discussion with him to-day. He is experienced, able, shrewd, and wise; and knows his Europe well. The defendants in the trial were guilty, in his opinion.

DIARY Moscow February 18, 1937

The Minister called. Re trial: There was no doubt but that a widespread conspiracy existed and that the defendants were guilty.

DIARY Moscow March 11, 1937

Another diplomat, Minister – , made a most illuminating statement to me yesterday. In discussing the trial he said that the defendants were undoubtedly guilty; that all of us who attended the trial had practically agreed on that; that the outside world, from the press reports, however, seemed to think that the trial was a put-up job (facade, as he called it); that while we knew it was not, it was probably just as well that the outside world should think so.” (ibid.)

Despite the fact that some bourgeois outlets wanted to portray the Trials as a hoax, many mainstream media outlets were eventually forced to admit the Trials were fair:

The defendants admitted frankly that they resorted to individual terror as a last resort, fully knowing that disaffection in the country now is not sufficiently strong to bring them into power in any other way… It is futile to think the trial was staged and the charges trumped up. The Government’s case against the defendants is genuine.”
The Observer, August 23

Other foreign visitors to the USSR voiced similar opinions:

“I studied the legal procedure in criminal cases in Soviet Russia somewhat carefully in 1932, and concluded … that the procedure gave the ordinal accused a very fair trial… The charge was a serious one. A group of men… under some measure of suspicion for counter-revolutionary or deviationist activities, and most of them having had such activities condoned in the past on assurances of the loyalty in the future, were now charged with long, cold-blooded, deliberate conspiracy to bring about the assassination of Kirov (who was actually murdered in December, 1934), of Stalin, of Voroshilov and other prominent leaders.

Their purpose, it seemed, was merely to seize power for themselves, without any pretence that they had any substantial following in the country… And at no stage was any suggestion made by any of them that any sort of improper treatment had been used to persuade them to confess. The first thing that struck me, as an English lawyer, was the almost free-and-easy dameanour of the prisoners. They all looked well…”
D.N. Pritt (quoted in The Moscow Trial Was Fair)

“Why did sixteen accused men all confess guilty… if they had been maltreated in prison, surely some signs of this would have been visible to the public, or at least one of them would have made some sort of a statement on the matter… To plead innocent was impossible because the proofs were overwhelming, and all these people knew this.”
Pat Sloan, ibid.

Even many members of the “American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky” ended up changing their minds and being convinced of Trotsky’s guilt. Among these people were journalists Carleton Beals and Lewis Gannett, Nation magazine editor Freda Kirchwey and Nation contributor Mauritz A. Hallgren who wrote:

“…Since joining your committee I have given deep and earnest thought to the whole problem here involved. I have examined, so far as they have been made available in this country, all of the documents bearing upon the case. I have followed closely all of the news reports. I have consulted some of the reports made by non-Communists who attended the first trial. I have carefully studied the published arguments of the partisans on both sides. And I have just as carefully restudied the writings of Trotsky concerning his case against Stalinism…

It is said by some that they have been hypnotized into confessing… For example, the unamity with which the men have been confessing is taken as proof that the confessions are false and have been obtained by some mysterious means. Yet these assertions rest upon no tangible or logical proof whatever… The very unamity of the defendants, far from proving that this trial is also a “frame-up”, appears to me to prove directly the contrary. For if these men are innocent, then certainly at least one of the three dozen, knowing that he faced death in any case, would have blurted out the truth. It is inconceivable that out of this great number of defendants, all should lie when lies would not do one of them any good. But why look beyond the obvious for the truth, why seek in mysticism or in dark magic for facts that are before one’s very nose? Why not accept the plain fact that the men are guilty?”
Mauritz A. Hallgren (Why I Resigned From the Trotsky Defense Committee)

 

2) The claim that the accused were Tortured or threatened.

While the USSR had a law which allowed the use of physical pressure by the NKVD there is no evidence the defendents in question were tortured.

The novelist and playwright Lion Feuchtwanger was visiting the Soviet Union at the time of the Pyatakov-Radek Trial. He wrote:

The first and most reasonable supposition is, of course, that the confessions were extracted from the prisoners by torture and by the threat of still worse tortures. Yet this first conjecture was refuted by the obvious freshness and vitality of the prisoners, by their whole physical and mental aspect… There was no justification of any sort for imagining that there was anything manufactured, artificial, or even awe-inspiring or emotional about these proceedings.”
(Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937, p. 121-122)

Journalist John Gunther also wrote about the trial:

“It was said that the prisoners were tortured, hypnotized, drugged (in order to make them give false confessions) and–a choice detail– impersonated by actors of the Moscow Art theater! But the trials occurred soon after the preliminary investigations were concluded, and they took place before hundreds of witnesses, many of them experienced correspondents, in open court… Pressure there certainly was, in the manner of police investigation all over the world, but no evidence of torture.”
(John Gunther, Inside Europe)

The most common allegation is that Bukharin was tortured, however according to Bukharin biographer Steven Cohen claims he couldn’t have been:

“It seems that no physical tortures were used against him [Bukharin] in prison.”
(Cohen, Bukharin na Lubianke, Svobodnaia Mysl’ 21, No. 3 (2003), pp. 60-1.)

Historian Asen Ignatov agrees: “We may be confident that Bukharin did not undergo torture.”
(Asen Ignatov,
Revoliutsiia pozhiraet svoikh vunderkindov. Sluchai Bukharina s psikhologicheski tochki zreniia. Forum 1 (2005))

Historian Edvard Radzinsky:

“There are many legends about the tortures which induced him to take part in this ignominious farce. It is a pity to debunk a good legend… No, there was no torture. And it seems unlikely that the delicate and hysterical Bukharin would have written so many literary works in the intervals of torture.” 
(Edvard Radzinsky, Stalin)

Some have opted to say that instead Bukharin confessed falsely in order to help the party but this seems unlikely too. There is no evidence for his innocence but there is for his guilt. According to Bukharin’s testimony he chose to confess after learning the evidence the NKVD had against him, how many others had been caught, and who had implicated him. This seems logical. We will return to Bukharin’s statements a bit later.

The claims of torture are extremely common but baseless. If there was solid evidence, we would have seen it by now. Further more the fact someone was tortured doesn’t imply innocence or that their testimony is inaccurate. It casts doubt on the accuracy of their statements for sure, so that the testimony has to be re-evaluated in the light of other evidence. On top of that, it seems unlikely that when cross examined witnesses could give mutually corrobarative, detailed statements about facts they allegedly knew nothing about or didn’t participate in. It is far more likely they were able to give these statements because they were truthful.

In the two following sections we will deal with the Dewey Commission & the political “Rehabilitations” of Khruschev and Gorbachev and the arguments they made against the Moscow Trials.

 

Political “Rehabilitations” by Khruschev & Gorbachev

Aleksandr Shelepin gave a speech in favor of Khruschev. He quoted from Iakir’s letter to Stalin of June 9, 1937.

“A series of cynical resolutions by Stalin, Kaganovich, Molotov, Malenkov and Voroshilov on the letters and declarations made by those imprisoned testifies to the cruel treatment of people, of leading comrades, who found themselves under investigation. For example when it was his turn Iakir – the former commander of a military region – appealed to Stalin in a letter in which he swore his own complete innocence. Here is what he wrote:

I am a noble warrior, devoted to the Party, the state and the people, as I was for many years. My whole conscious life has been passed in selfless, honest work in the sight of the Party and of its leaders… Now I am honest in my every word…
–Speech to the 22nd Party Congress of the CPSU, Pravda, October 27, 1961

The problem here is that Shelepin has taken this letter entirely out of context and lied about it’s contents. He claims Iakir was innocent and always proclaimed his innocence. In reality in this letter he actually admits guilt, but Shelepin has chosen to omit this part. The full text of the letter first came out in 1994. Here are some of parts left out by Shelepin:

Dear, close comrade Stalin. I dare address you in this manner because I have said everything, given everything up, and it seems to me that I am a noble warrior, devoted to the Party… Then the fall into the nightmare, into the irreparable horror of betrayal. . . . The investigation is completed. I have been formally accused of treason to the state, I have admitted my guilt, I have fully repented. I have unlimited faith in the justice and propriety of the decision of the court and the state. . . . Now I am honest in my every word…”
Iakir’s letter reprinted in [“Rehabilitation. How It Happened”] volume 2 (2003)

So Shelepin has taken a letter where a man admits his guilt and turned it into a claim of innocence! If Iakir was truly innocent would this kind of dishonestly really be needed?

We have already been over the Shvernik Reports attempt to blaim Stalin on the Kirov Murder & for framing Tukchavesky. No evidence was found and this time instead of trying to fabricate it the Khruschevites gave up and focused on other things.

The statement of the rehabilitation commission of the Politburo published in August 1989 reads:

“It has been established therefore that after 1927 the former Trotskyists and Zinovievists did not carry out any organized struggle against the party, did not unite with each other either on a terrorist or any other basis, and that the case of the “United Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center” was fabricated by the organs of the NKVD upon the direct order and with the direct participation of J. V. Stalin.”

It is quite a strange situation when Gorbachevites, supposed Communists are more anti-communist in their statements then Western historians.

“Although Trotsky later denied that he had any communications with former followers in the USSR since his exile in 1929, it is clear that he did. In the first three months of 1932 he sent secret letters to former oppositionists Radek, Sokolnikov, Preobrazhenskii, and others. Although the contents of these letters are unknown, it seems reasonable to believe that they involved an attempt to persuade the addresees to return to opposition. Sometime in October of 1932, E.S. Gol’tsman (a Soviet official and former Trotskyist) met Sedov in Berlin and gave him an internal memorandum on Soviet economic output. This memorandum was published in the Bulletin’ the following month under the title “The Economic Situation of the Soviet Union.” It seems, though, that Gol’tsman brought Sedov something else: a proposal from Left Oppositionists in the USSR for the formation of a united opposition bloc. The proposed bloc was to include Trotskyists, Zinovievists, members of the Lominadze group, and others. The proposal came from “Kolokolnikov” – the code name of Ivan Smirnov.” (Getty, Origins)

Western historians admit this, while the Gorbachevite government denies it? Of course we know Gorbachev was in reality an anti-communist himself:

“My ambition was to liquidate communism… My ideal is the path of social democracy.”
–Gorbachev

The Gorbachevite “rehabilitation” committee also denied the Terrorist character of this Bloc which they claimed didn’t even exist, despite the fact that even non-Soviet sources testified to it.

Molotov also spoke about these phony “rehabilitations” in his interview with Feliks I. Chuev published in 1993:

MOLOTOV: Take Tukhachevsky, for example. On what grounds was he rehabilitated? Did you read the records of the trial of the right-wing and Trotskyist bloc in 1938? Bukharin, Krestinsky, Rosengoltz, and others were on trial then. They stated flat out that in June 1937 Tukhachevsky pressed for a coup. People who have not read the record go on to say that the testimony was given under duress from the Chekists. But I say, had we not made those sweeping arrests in the 1930s, we would have suffered even greater losses in the war.” (Molotov Remembers p. 285)

It was not politically advantageous for Molotov to say these things. He supported Stalin and continued to defend his legacy against lies and slander even though the Khruschevite and Gorbachevite governments didn’t look kindly on it. He had nothing to gain for these statements except the knowledge he was speaking the truth.

 

The Dewey Commission

In 1937 the American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky organized the so-called Dewey Comission, the goal of which was to prove the innocence of Leon Trotsky. The comission carried out interviews of Trotsky and sure enough stated that it had managed to prove his innocence.

In reality the Dewey Comission failed to provide any strong evidence of Trotsky’s innocence. Most of its conclusions are purely speculative but especially the important findings are all provably false and have been debunked. The comission voiced support to Trotsky’s baseless accusation that Stalin was behind the murder of Kirov, that Stalin unjustly framed all of his political opponents, glorifies Trotsky’s role in the world communist movement and in general acted as a popularizer of Trotskyist propaganda.

As the Dewey Commission failed to provide any meaningful evidence of its own they claimed to have found holes in the charges made at the Moscow Trial. Their case heavily rested on the so-called Hotel Bristol argument which also has since then been debunked. The argument goes as follows: one accused, Holtzman testified to having met Leon Sedov in Copenhagen in a hotel named Bristol. The Dewey Comission claimed that the hotel Bristol had burnt down, therefore this was an impossibility and a lie invented by the Stalinists.

Its since been proven that actually Holtzman met Sedov in the Grand hotel, the cafe-bakery adjatent to which was called Bristol. Holtzman mistakenly thought Bristol was the name of the hotel as the hotel had no other sign, other then the cafe sign that said “BRISTOL”. One wonders, does this sound like something the Soviet police would fabricate? No it doesn’t, its overly convoluted for no apparent reason. What it sounds like, is that Holtzman made an honest mistake and that his statement at least in that regard is accurate.

The Dewey comission presented as true Trotsky’s claims of innocence, even though we now know Trotsky was lying:

“GOLDMAN: Did you ever discuss with anyone the possibility of organizing a united center between your political followers and the followers of Zinoviev and Kamenev in the Soviet Union, after the break-up of your bloc with Zinoviev and Kamenev?

TROTSKY: Never. My articles show that it is absolutely impossible. My appreciation of them, my total contempt after the capitulation, my hostility to them and their hostility to me, excluded that absolutely.

GOLDMAN: Have you read the testimony of Zinoviev and Kamenev and the other defendants in the first Moscow trial?

TROTSKY: Yes.

GOLDMAN: Wherein these defendants claimed that you instructed several of them to establish a united center between your political followers and their political followers? Have you read such testimonies?

TROTSKY: Yes.

GOLDMAN: What have you to say about that?

TROTSKY: It is a falsehood organized by the GPU and supported by Stalin.”
(Dewey Comission proceedings, third session)


Despite the Dewey Comission’s best efforts even various members of the Trotsky defence committee (and the Dewey Comission itself) came to the conclusion that Trotsky was guilty and were compelled to leave it as a result.

On April 17 Carleton Beals, a member of the Dewey comission resigned from it. He described the work of the Dewey Commission in a public statement:

“… The hushed adoration of the other members of the committee for Mr. Trotsky throughout the hearings has defeated all spirit of honest investigation. . . . The very first day I was told my questions were improper. The final cross-examination was put in a mold that prevented any search for the truth…. The cross-examination consisted of allowing Trotsky to spout propaganda charges with eloquence and wild denunciations, with only rare efforts to make him prove his assertions. . . . The commission may pass its bad check on the public if it desires, but I will not lend my name to the possibility of further childishness similar to that already committed.” (New York Times, April 19, 1937 )

SOURCES & BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Joseph E. Davies, Mission To Moscow
https://archive.org/details/missiontomoscow035156mbp

Statements of D.N. Pritt & Pat Sloan in The Moscow Trial Was Fair
https://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/sections/britain/pamphlets/1936/moscow-trial-fair.htm

Mauritz A. Hallgren, Why I Resigned From the Trotsky Defense Committee

Available at https://espressostalinist.com/2011/05/31/why-i-resigned-from-the-trotsky-defense-committee-by-mauritz-a-hallgren/

Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937, p. 121-122
http://www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/archive/feucht.htm#7


Bukharin was not tortured:
Cohen,
Bukharin na Lubianke, Svobodnaia Mysl’ 21, No. 3 (2003), pp. 60-1.)
Asen Ignatov,
Revoliutsiia pozhiraet svoikh vunderkindov. Sluchai Bukharina s psikhologicheski tochki zreniia. Forum 1 (2005))

available at http://www1.ku-eichstaett.de/ZIMOS/forum/docs/02Ignatow.pdf

Reabilitatsia. Kak Eto Bylo [“Rehabilitation. How It Happened”] vol. 2 (2003)

Dewey comission proceedings:

The case of Leon Trotsky Report of Hearings on the Charges Made Against Him in the Moscow Trials, third session
https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1937/dewey/session03.htm


New Evidence Concerning the “Hotel Bristol” Question in the First Moscow Trial of 1936
http://clogic.eserver.org/2008/holmstrom.pdf

Gorbachev 1989 Rehabiliation document:
“O Tak Nazyvaemom ‘Antisovetskom Ob” edinennom Trotskistsko-Zinov’evskom Tsentre.”
quoted in
http://clogic.eserver.org/2009/furr.pdf

Gorbachev about his anti-communism:
http://www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/rdv6n1/gorbach.htm

Edvard Radzinsky, Stalin


Carleton Beals’s statement available here:
http://www.shunpiking.org/books/GC/GC-AK-MS-chapter21.htm

The Moscow Trials (Part 1: THE INVESTIGATION)

Introduction.

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.

Background:


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

*Safarov-Tarkhanov

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!”
Leon Sedov

“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…”
–Leon Trotsky

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.
(Getty, Origins)

“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)

Notes:
-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…”
–Tukhachevsky (source: http://istmat.info/node/28950)

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.”
Antonio Gramsci


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 (1932)

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.



Industrial Sabotage

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
http://www.marxistsfr.org/archive/lenin/works/1921/10thcong/ch04.htm

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
https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/writers/sedov/works/red/

Getty, Origins of the Great Purges: The Soviet Communist Party Reconsidered, 1933-1938
https://books.google.fi/books?id=R5zx54LB-A4C&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

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:
https://communismgr.blogspot.fi/2016/08/the-remorse-of-dissident-alexander.html#more)


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)
https://books.google.fi/books?redir_esc=y&id=HqoeAAAAMAAJ&focus=searchwithinvolume&q=left-wing+socialists

Ibid. (page 68)
https://books.google.fi/books?redir_esc=y&id=HqoeAAAAMAAJ&focus=searchwithinvolume&q=we+tried+to+save+Bukharin


Tokaev, Grigori.
Betrayal of an Ideal, Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1955
https://archive.org/stream/betrayalofandide008698mbp/betrayalofandide008698mbp_djvu.txt

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:
https://espressostalinist.com/category/revisionism/trotskyism/page/4/

Trotsky, Problem of the Ukraine
https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1939/04/ukraine.html

Trotsky, On the Eve of the Congress
https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1934/01/congress.htm

Trotsky, On the Kirov Assassination
https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1934/12/kirov.htm

Trotsky, Are There Limits to the Fall?
https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1934/01/fall.htm

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, Que signifie la capitulation de Rakovsky? (31 March 1934). La lutte, pp. 59—60.

Trotsky, Le gouvernement soviétique applique-t-il toujours les principes définis il y a vingt ans? (13 January 1938). La lutte, pp. 159—160.

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)
https://books.google.fi/books?redir_esc=y&id=rP4jAAAAMAAJ&focus=searchwithinvolume&q=Titulescu

Yuri Yemelianov, The Tukhachevsky Conspiracy
http://www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/rdv13n2/tukhach.htm

Hitler read Trotsky’s Autobiography:

Konrad Heiden, Der Fuehrer: Hitler’s rise to power (page 318)
https://books.google.fi/books?redir_esc=y&id=_lUTAQAAMAAJ&focus=searchwithinvolume&q=i+have+learned

Anna Strong, The Soviets Expected It. New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 134 available here
http://www.stalinsociety.org/2016/04/10/the-real-stalin-series-part-fourteen-military-purges/

Alexander Werth, quoted in Harpal Brar, Perestroika: The Complete Collapse of Revisionism (1992) p. 161 here:
https://books.google.fi/books?redir_esc=y&id=LOBoAAAAMAAJ&focus=searchwithinvolume&q=alexander

Also here: http://marxism.halkcephesi.net/Ludo%20Martens/node115.html

Full book in Russian here:
http://www.cpgb-ml.org/download/publications/HarpalBrar_Perestroika_Russian.pdf


Vlasov and Vlasovites. New Times 44 (1990), pp. 36—40. “Why I embarked on the road of struggle against Bolshevism” available here:
http://marxism.halkcephesi.net/Ludo%20Martens/node117.html

Frederick Ludwig Carsten, “New Evidence against Marshal Tukhachevskii” in ‘New Light On Old Stories About Marshal Tukhachevskii : Some Documents Reconsidered’
https://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/tukh.html

Georgi Dimitrov’s diary quoted here:
http://clogic.eserver.org/2009/furr.pdf

Trotsky’s telegram from Volkogonov Archive:
https://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/research/trotsky_telegram061837.pdf

NKVD report about the interrogation of Iakovlev’s wife
http://www.alexanderyakovlev.org/fond/issues-doc/61211

Stalin’s comments to the NKVD report
http://grachev62.narod.ru/stalin/t18/t18_065.htm

Stalin’s further comments to the NKVD
http://www.alexanderyakovlev.org/fond/issues-doc/61209

M. Sayers, A. E. Kahn, The Great Conspiracy. The Secret War Against Soviet Russia
http://marxism.halkcephesi.net/Great%20Conspiracy/index.htm

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
http://cdsun.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/cornell?a=d&d=CDS19321201.2.30&e=——–20–1———

Krupskaya, “Why Is the Second International Defending Trotsky?” (1936)
http://www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/archive/trotskykrup2.htm

Mao Tse-Tung, “On the Use of Trotskyists as Japanese Spies in China” (1939)
http://www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/archive/trotskymao.htm

Ho Chi Mihn,”Three Letters from Ho Chi Mihn” (1939)
https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/document/vietnam/pirani/hochiminh.htm

Kuusinen quote from”Missä on Stalin, siellä on voitto” (1949)

english translation & original finnish the quote available at:

https://mltheory.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/other-communists-on-trotsky-trotskyism/

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)
https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.80968

John Scott, Behind the Urals: An American Worker in Russia’s City of Steel (pp. 188-189)
https://books.google.fi/books?redir_esc=y&id=JvH63H0s0agC&q=bandits#v=snippet&q=These%20agents%20bred%20purges&f=false


FURTHER READING:

Stalin & myth of the “old Bolsheviks”
https://mltheory.wordpress.com/2016/12/20/stalin-the-myth-of-the-old-bolsheviks/

Revolutionary leaders on Trotsky & Trotskyism
https://mltheory.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/other-communists-on-trotsky-trotskyism/

More about Alexander Zinoviev
http://marxism.halkcephesi.net/Ludo%20Martens/node91.html

More about engineer Littlepage’s experiences
http://marxism.halkcephesi.net/Ludo%20Martens/node101.html

Trotsky, Orwell & the FBI
http://www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/rdv3n2/trotsky.htm


Orwell, friend of POUM, snitch of Western intelligence services
http://bennorton.com/george-orwell-list-leftists-snitch-british-government/

http://www.nytimes.com/1998/07/29/opinion/george-orwell-s-list.html

Lies concerning the history of the Soviet Union – From Hitler to Hearst, from Conquest to Solzhenitsyn
http://marxism.halkcephesi.net/mario%20Sousa/lies%20about%20stalin.htm

TROTSKY’S LIES (Part 2: United Fronts)

(Part 2 in a series about Trotsky’s lies, falsehoods & flip-flops.)

TROTSKY & THE THEORY OF SOCIAL-FASCISM

Trotsky attacked the Communist International for supposedly helping Hitler, while also blaming Social-Democracy:

“(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.”
–Trotsky, (Que signifie la capitulation de Rakovsky? 31 March 1934. La lutte, pp. 59—60)

However, Trotsky also went on to blame the Comintern for “not creating a united front” with Social-Democracy. The Communist International maintained that Social-Democrats in power made concessions to fascism while crushing the workers and were therefore unreliable allies. Trotsky attacked this theory, while only a little time ago he had accused Social-Democracy of the same exact thing:

“The policy of a united front of the workers against fascism flows from this situation. It opens up tremendous possibilities to the Communist Party. A condition for success, however, is the rejection of the theory and practice of “social fascism”, the harm of which becomes a positive measure under the present circumstances.”
–Trotsky, Fascism: What it is and how to fight it

trotsky pic

TROTSKY’S FIGHT AGAINST THE POPULAR FRONT IN SPAIN

“Two irreconcilable programs thus confronted each other on the territory of republican Spain. On the one hand, the program of saving at any cost private property from the proletariat, and saving as far as possible democracy from Franco; on the other hand, the program of abolishing private property through the conquest of power by the proletariat. The first program expressed the interest of capitalism through the medium of the labor aristocracy, the top petty-bourgeois circles, and especially the Soviet bureaucracy… between the handful of Bolsheviks and the revolutionary proletariat stood counter-revolutionary wall of the Popular Front.”
–Trotsky, The Lessons of Spain: The Last Warning

While demanding unity with the Social-Fascist Trotsky at the same time attacked genuine anti-fascist unity in Spain. Trotsky ridiculed the notion of an anti-fascist alliance, saying it was philistinism. He attacked those Communists & Anarchists who united together:

“But “democratic” philistines – including Stalinists, Socialists, and Anarchists – regard the civil war of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat, even in areas most closely adjoining the front, as a natural and inescapable war, having as its tasks the safeguarding of the “unity of the Popular Front.” On the other hand, the civil war of the proletariat against the “republican” counterrevolution is, in the eyes of the same philistines, a criminal, “fascists,” Trotskyist war, disrupting … “the unity of the anti-fascist forces.””
–Trotsky, Ibid.

Trotsky in fact defended the actions of the POUM which together with a small fraction of the Anarchist forces began an insurrection against the Republican government & the United Front thus causing great harm to the war effort against fascist Franco. Trotsky’s complaint of the POUM was that it was too soft on the United Front. Similarly he attacked most of the Anarchists for collaborating with the United Front instead of attacking it.

trotfash.jpg

TROTSKY’S STRUGGLE AGAINST THE UNITED FRONT IN CHINA

“The official leadership of the Chinese revolution has been oriented all this time on a “general national united front” or on the “bloc of four classes”… the big bourgeoisie leads the petty-bourgeois democrats, the phrase-mongers of the national united front, behind it, and the latter, in turn, confuse the workers and drag them along behind the bourgeoisie…”
–Trotsky, The Chinese Revolution and the Theses of Comrade Stalin

Trotsky accused the Communists of lagging behind the bourgeois when the Communist Party united together with the petit-bourgeois KMT against feudalism. The KMT led by Sun Yat Sen was in fact a progressive petit-bourgeois nationalist party. During the time of this collaboration the Communists emerged as a strong independent force.

“The Bolshevik way, however, consists of an unconditional political and organizational demarcation from the bourgeoisie, of a relentless exposure of the bourgeoisie from the very first steps of the revolution, of a destruction of all petty-bourgeois illusions about the united front with the bourgeoisie”
–Trotsky, Ibid.

First United Front

Trotsky like the typical ultra-leftist condemned the united front of anti-feudal elements. The KMT however changed in its character after Sun Yat Sen’s death. Being originally a petit-bourgeois party of the peasants it now became a party of landlords & compradors. The KMT betrayed the communists and attacked them. Trotsky jumped with joy as this could be used as a political weapon against united fronts.

Of course, the real mistake of the Chinese & Soviet Communists was not seeing the change in the KMT, not the fact they had collaborated in the past. Trotsky however ignores this in his propaganda.

Second United Front

After the joint campaign against feudalism & the warlords, the KMT & the Communists now fought for power in the Chinese civil war. The story of the United Front in China becomes more complicated still. After the invasion of Japan into China the Communists demanded a halt in the civil-war and the creation of an anti-Japanese United Front of all patriotic elements. Trotsky had previously ridiculed Stalin’s thesis of isolating the right-wing of the KMT and working with the followers of Sun Yat Sen’s program. This is exactly what Mao Tse-Tung proposed.

Mao demanded an Anti-Japanese United Front but the right-wing faction of the KMT was opposed to this view. They in fact rather supported Japanese imperialism then the independence of their own country. This isolated them from the Chinese masses and caused a rift inside their own party. The KMT eventually agreed to a half-hearted collaboration against Japan but in the eyes of the masses they were traitors. The KMT became the party of compradors, imperialist puppets and the richest most corrupt bourgeois and landlords. The Communists gained the status of the party of the masses, of the peasantry and patriotic forces. This United Front was not lagging behind the bourgeois like Trotsky asserted, it was led by the Proletariat, by the Communists.

Uniting maximum force against the main target proved successful as did the thesis of isolating the right-wing.

trotsky_poster_destroy_verm

CONCLUSION:

Trotsky’s theory & praxis is utterly inconsistent on the issue of the United Front. One day he condemns the Leninists for building one, while the next he condemns them for not building one! He accused social-democracy of helping fascism while he also called for unity with social-fascism. Trotsky attacked the Chinese for “lagging behind the bourgeois” when they in reality overthrew the bourgeois. In Spain Trotsky demanded a militant struggle against the anti-fascist United Front.

Trotsky’s actions are not merely ultra-left. They are more then that. They are opportunism pure and simple. Opportunism to the right & to the “left”, which ever suited his purpose.