The Khrushchev Coup (Death of Stalin & Khrushchev’s Rise to Power)


After the death of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev became the new head of the Soviet Union. He embarked on an extensive campaign of lies and attacks against the Stalin government which was immediately cheered by the capitalist world. Many of his lies still persist to this day. Khrushchev’s government launched de-stalinization, a wave of propaganda and censorship against Stalin era policies. In their place the Khrushchevites implemented profit oriented market reforms and other erroneous policies which put Soviet socialism as well as all other countries in the soviet camp on the wrong track.

Why didn’t anybody stop him? How did he manage to avoid being voted out? Khruschchev rose to power via an undemocratic military takeover, a coup de tat, and used the military to kill, imprison, intimidate and marginalize his enemies.

But how did Khrushchev succeed in doing this? And why did he do it? These are some of the questions that will be discussed in this article. Firstly we should talk about Stalin’s death, which in itself happened under very suspicious circumstances and has caused a lot of speculation.


Shortly before Stalin’s death, his personal security was drastically reduced. The head of his personal secretariat Poskrebyshev and the head of his personal bodyguard General Vlasik were both removed under accusations of leaking documents and unreliability. This left Stalin vulnerable.

Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva said:

“Shortly before my father died even some of his intimates were disgraced: the perenniel Vlasik was sent to prison in the winter of 1952 and my father’s personal secretary Poskrebyshev, who had been with him for twenty years, was removed”.
(S. Alliluyeva: ‘Twenty Letters to a Friend’, p. 216).

Peter Deriabin believed this to have been a deliberate conspiracy and states in his book:

“A commission [was set up] to investigate… the entire state security apparatus [which then] proceeded… to cut Stalin’s bodyguards to the bone”
(P. Deriabin: Watchdogs of Terror: Russian Bodyguards from the Tsars to the Commissars, pp. 317-18)

“About seven thousand men were dropped… [Leaving Stalin] guarded by… only a small group of officers… that had little security experience, especially as bodyguards.” (p. 319).

“That completed the process of stripping Stalin of all personal security… This had been a studied and very ably handled business: the framing of Abakumov, the dismissal of Vlasik, the discrediting of Poskrebyshev, the emasculation of the Okhrana and its enforced subservience to the [Khrushchevite-controlled] MGB, Kosynkin’s ‘heart attack’, the replacement of Shtemenko and the removal of the general staff from the last vestiges of Okhrana control. And certainly not to be forgotten at this juncture was the MGB control of the Kremlin medical office. . . With state security and the armed forces under their command, the connivers were finally in the driver’s seat”.
(pp. 325-26).


“There are a number of circumstances connected with the death of Stalin which make it, in forensic terms, ‘a suspicious death’:

Firstly, Stalin appeared to be in excellent health immediately prior to the beginning of March as was testified by an American journalist.

“And what of Stalin himself? In the pink of, condition. In the best of spirits. That was the word of three foreigners who saw him in February – Bravo, the Argentine Amassador; Menon, the Indian, and Dr. Kitchlu, an Indian active in the peace movement”.
(H. Salisbury: ‘Stalin’s Russia and After’; London; 1952; p. 157).

Secondly, on the night of 1-2 March there was a long delay in obtaining medical help for Stalin:

“Khrushchev does not mention specific times, but his narrative makes it incredible that the doctors arrived much before 5 a.m. on 2 March. This is many hours, perhaps twelve, after the seizure. . . .
It is not true that he was under medical care soon after the seizure”.
(R. H. McNeal, Stalin: Man and Ruler, p. 304).

“There is a mystery about what had happened to Stalin, His guards had become alarmed when he had not asked for his evening snack at 11 p.m. . . . The security men picked him up and put him on a sofa, but doctors were not summoned until the morning.
Stalin lay helpess and untreated for the better part of a day, making recuperative treatment much harder… 
Why did the Party leaders prolong the delay? Some historians see evidence of premeditated murder.”
(J. Lewis & P. Whitehead: ‘Stalin: A Time for Judgement’; London; 1990; p. 179).

“Only on the next morning . . . did the first physicians arrive”.
(W. Laqueur: ‘Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations, p. 151).

“Physicians were finally brought in to the comatose leader after a twelve- or fourteen hour interval”.
(D. Volkogonov, Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy, p. 513).

Thirdly, there was a deliberate lie in the announcement of his death, which was stated to have taken place ‘in his Moscow apartment’, whereas it actually occurred in his dacha at Kuntsevo. Historian Adam Ulam asserts that a: ” . . . conspiratorial air coloured the circumstances of Stalin’s death. The belated communique announcing his stroke was emphatic that it had occurred in his quarters in the Kremlin. Yet it was to his country villa . . . that his daughter Svetlana was summoned on March 2 to be by his deathbed. . . . He was stricken away from Moscow. . . .
The official communique’ lied about the place where Stalin had suffered the fatal stroke and died. . . .
There was an obvious reason behind the falsehood; his successors feared that a true statement about where he was at the time of the seizure would lead to rumours . . . that the stroke had occurred while he was being kidnapped or incarcerated by the oligarchs. Crowds might surge on the Kremlin, demanding an accounting of what had been done to their father and protector”.
(A. B. Ulam, Stalin: The Man and His Era, p. 4, 700, 739).

Fourthly, the revisionist conspirators had an ample and urgent motive — that of self-preservation — for eliminating Stalin:

“For many leading Soviet statesmen and officials, Stalin’s demise . . . came in the nick of time. Whether or not it was due to natural causes is another matter”
(D. M. Lang, p. 262).

“While murder cannot be proved, there was no question that motive for murder existed. . . . For . . . if Stalin were dying a natural death. it was the luckiest thing that had ever happened to the men who stood closest to him”.
(H. Salisbury, p. 160-61).


What was this motive? We need to take a little detour to explore this question. Older theories have suggested that Stalin was attempting to purge the party and state of careerists and bureaucrats. However, newer research suggests a more systemic change. According to historian Aleksandr Pyzhikov (who is very much an anti-communist and anti-Stalin historian) in 1947 there was a proposition to update the party’s program. This 1947 party program has never been made available.

“According to Pyzhikov this program described “a progressive narrowing of the political functions of the state, and to the conversion of the state into, in the main, an organ of the management of the economic life of society.” [It was clearly a plan for transitioning from Socialism to Communism as described by Marx and Engels.]

Pyzhikov explains that the draft “concerned the development of the democratization of the Soviet order. This plan recognized as essential a universal process of drawing workers into the running of the state, into daily active state and social activity on the basis of a steady development of the cultural level of the masses and a maximal simplification of the functions of state management. It proposed in practice to proceed to the unification of productive work with participation in the management of state affairs, with the transition to the successive carrying out of the functions of management by all working people. It also expatiated upon the idea of the introduction of direct legislative activity by the people, for which the following were considered essential:

a) to implement universal voting and decision-making on the majority of the most important questions of governmental life in both the social and economic spheres, as well as in questions of living conditions and cultural development;

b) to widely develop legislative initiative from below, by means of granting to social organizations the rights to submit to the Supreme Soviet proposals for new legislation;

c) to confirm the right of citizens and social organizations to directly submit proposals to the Supreme Soviet on the most important questions of international and internal policy.””

(Pyzhikov, A. “N.A. Voznesenskii o perspektivakh poselvoennogo obnovleniia obshchestva.” in Furr, Stalin and the Struggle for Democratic Reform)

In short, this would have shifted power away from the mid-level managers and politicians, directly to the workers who were now literate and educated enough to run all of society.

“According to Pyzhikov, [Leningrad party chief] Zhdanov… proposed convening the 19th Party Congress at the end of 1947 or 1948. He also set forth a plan for a simplified order of convocations of party conferences once a year, with “compulsory renewal” of not less than one-sixth of the membership of the Central Committee per year. If put into effect, and if “renewal” actually resulted in more turnover of C.C. members, this would have meant that First Secretaries and other Party leaders in the C.C. would have been less entrenched in their positions, making room for new blood in the Party’s leading body, facilitating rank-and-file criticism of Party leaders (Pyzhikov 96)… with at least the possibility of replacement — of no less than 1/6 of the Central Committee every year through a Party Conference, this Party plan envisaged the development of democracy from below in both the state and in the Party itself.” (Furr, Ibid.)

We do not know how this plan was rejected. Zhdanov, who was a close ally of Stalin’s died seemingly of a heart-attack the same year he made the proposition, which in hindsight is quite a coincidence. Zhdanov’s death would later be used in the so-called “Doctor’s Case” where a number of doctors were accused of trying to murder soviet politicians. There is no clear evidence about the truth regarding the Doctor’s Plot, some of the cases were clearly frauds orchestrated by Khrushchev which he then blamed on his enemies, but its possible some of the cases were genuine. Stalin was personally skeptical about the guilt of the doctors. He himself, would of course die under suspicious circumstances seemingly after being deliberately denied adequate medical care.

The 1947 draft plan was rejected, how – we do not know. Zhdanov had proposed a party congress in 1948 which would have been according to the normal custom, but for unknown reasons the 19th Party Congress was postponed until 1952.

All of this suggests that which the liberal historian Arch Getty had argued, that the true power in the Soviet Union was in many ways not held by the central leadership around Stalin, and especially not by Stalin personally. This was merely a cold-war myth, a caricature partially facilitated by Stalin’s fame and the hero-worship around him. He seemed like a larger then life figure. But in reality, the mid-level management and the first secretaries in the party had substantial power and Stalin was in the minority.

This group, the first secretaries, technocrats etc. were also the most susceptible to corruption and Stalin and Zhdanov’s new program would have attacked precisely this privileged group, removed management of the State offices, ministries, factories etc. from the Party’s hands putting it into the hands of the non-party masses.

From an ideological and practical stand point this seems a necessary course of action. What is the purpose of a vanguard party? To serve as the proletarian ideological guide and leader, a small group of the most class conscious industrial workers, not as a gigantic party of managers.

In 1929, Molotov had outlined the Stalin politburo’s plan to proletarianize the party, so that by 1930 at least 50% of the party were industrial workers. This goal was achieved. In 1930 the party had consisted of 65% manual workers, 20% peasants and only 14% white collar officials. The party was more proletarian in composition in 1930 then in Lenin’s time. However in the Khruschchev period, the number of industrial proletarians in the party had reduced to 30% while HALF of the party consisted of white collar officials.

This makes it clear why it was possible for Khrushchev to rally the bureaucracy around him, and defeat all the egalitarian, democratic and proletarinization efforts. This also makes the Trotskyist accusation that Stalin was the leader of a bureaucratic caste ridiculous, as his efforsts in 1930 created a party even less bureaucratic then Lenin’s. To explore how the bureucratization in the party occurred during the 1940s and early 50s is beyond the scope of this video, but the popular explanations are the material conditions of Russia, where the state was forced to rely on a minority of experts while the masses were largely uneducated, as well as the massive death toll of the best communist cadres and proletarians in the second World War, forcing the party and state to admit vast amounts of less suitable people within its ranks in the late 40s to replace the losses.


“Due to the circumstantial evidence of the series of measures undertaken by the conspirators in the months prior to Stalin’s death to remove the securities around him, it is not surprising, that within weeks of Stalin’s death, rumours would begin to circulate that he had been murdered:

“There were rumours, above all in Georgia, that Stalin had been poisoned.”
(W. Laqueur, p, 151).

Stalin’s son Vasily is reported to have cried out:

“‘They are going to kill him! They are going to kill him!'”
(P. Deriabin, p. 321).

“Stalin’s son Vasily kept coming in and shouting ‘They’ve killed my father, the bastards!”‘.
(D. Volkogonov, p. 774).

Vasily was arrested in April 1953 in order, as his sister Svetlana puts it, ‘to isolate him’:

“After my father’s death, [Vasily] . . . was arrested. This happened because he had threatened the government, he talked that ‘my father was killed by his rivals’ and all things like that, and always many people around him — so they decided to isolate him. He stayed in jail till 1961 . . . and soon he died”
(S. Alliluyeva, Only One Year, p. 202).

“[Vasily] was convinced that our father had been ‘poisoned’ or ‘killed’.
Throughout the period before the funeral . . . he accused the government, the doctors and everybody in sight of using the wrong treatment on my father.. . .
He was arrested on April 18th, 1953. . . .
A military collegium sentenced him to eight years in jail.
He died on March 19th, 1962”.
(S. Alliluyeva, p. 222-23, 224, 228).

Georges Bortoli comments:

“Vasily Stalin had said aloud what the others were thinking to themselves. In less than a month, all sorts of rumours would begin to circulate in Moscow, and people would begin speaking of a crime. . . Some people said that several members of Stalin’s entourage were threatened by the coming purge. Had they taken steps to forestall it?”
(G. Bortoli, The Death of Stalin, p. 151)”


Indeed, many other leaders known to have been firm supporters of Stalin also died mysteriously almost immediately after.

“The Czechoslovak Marxist-Leninist leader Klement Gottwald died shortly after visiting Moscow to attend Stalin’s funeral.” (Bland, Ibid)

The Polish Marxist-Leninist leader Boleslaw Beirut died shortly after Khrushchev’s power grab on 12 March 1957

The Albanian leader Enver Hoxha, explicitly accused the Khrushchevites of murdering Stalin claiming that one of them, Anastas Mikoyan outright admitted it to him.

“All this villainy emerged soon after the death, or to be more precise after the murder, of Stalin. I say after the murder of Stalin, because Mikoyan himself told me . . . that they, together with Khrushchev and their associates, had decided . . . to make an attempt on Stalin’s life”.
(E. Hoxha, With Stalin: Memoirs, p. 31).

In his book Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR Stalin argued against the types of market oriented reforms the revisionists would later make. The same Anastas Mikoyan then described Stalin’s views in the book as “an incredibly leftist deviation” (“Neveroiatno levatskii zagib.” Mikoian, Tak Bylo, Ch. 46: “On the Eve of and During the 19th Party Congress: Stalin’s Last Days.”)

Professor Grover Furr concludes:

“[T]here is a long recognized mystery of why medical care was not summoned for the gravely ill Stalin until a day or more after it had been discovered that he had had a stroke. Whatever the details of this affair Khrushchev was involved in it.” (Furr, Khruschchev Lied, p.208)


Stalin died 9. 50 p.m. on 5 March. The revisionists immediately used their control of the security forces to prepare for a coup. The American journalist Harrison Salisbury was an eye-witness of how, shortly before 6 a.m. the next morning:

” . . . smooth and quiet convoys of trucks were slipping into the city. Sitting cross-legged on wooden benches in the green-painted trucks were detachments of blue-and-red-capped MVD troops — twenty-two to a truck — the special troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. . . . The fleeting thought entered my mind that, perhaps, a coup d’etat might be in the making.

By nine o’clock… the Internal Affairs troops were everywhere in the centre of the city… In upper Gorky Street columns of tanks made their appearance… All the troops and all the trucks and all the tanks belonged to the special detachments of the MVD. Not a single detachment of regular Army forces was to be seen.
Later I discovered that the MVD had, in fact, isolated almost the whole city of Moscow…
By ten or eleven o’clock of the morning of March 6, 1953 no one could enter or leave the heart of Moscow except by leave of the MVD…
MVD forces had taken over the city…
Could any other troops enter the city? Not unless they had the permission of the MVD or were prepared to fight their way through, street by street, barricade by barricade”
(H. Salisbury, p. 163-64, 166, 171, 173)

“Even before Stalin’s body was cold, . . . MGB troops . . . not only set up controls and halted traffic, including pedestrians, on every principal capital thoroughfare, but had also ringed the Kremlin”.
(Deriabin, p. 328).

The Marxist-Leninists succeeded, for the moment, in foiling the planned coup by mobilising sufficient support to call for the following day, 7 March, a joint emergency meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, the Council of Ministers and the USSR Supreme Soviet. In these circumstances the revisionist conspirators lost their nerve and judged it expedient to postpone their planned coup and refrain from opposing the election of Beria as the Minister in charge of state security, an appointment which obviously had majority support among the leadership:

Khrushchev wrote in his memoirs:

“Beria immediately proposed Malenkov for Chairman of the Council of Ministers [prime minister]. On the spot, Malenkov proposed that Beria be appointed first deputy. He also proposed the merger of the Ministries of State Security and Internal Affairs into a single Ministry of Internal Affairs, with Beria as Minister. . . . I was silent. . . . Bulganin was silent too. I could see what the attitude of the others was. If Bulganin and I objected . . ., we would have been accused of starting a fight in the Party before the corpse was cold”. (p. 324)



Khruschchev’s coup went into action when the military arrested Beria, then vice president and minister of interior. In July 1953, Beria was accused of corruption. At the end of June 1953, the revisionist conspirators claimed that Beria was a nationalist agent of foreign imperialist powers and had been plotting against the Party leadership. However, later Khruschev surprisingly admitted they had no evidence of Beria’s supposed nationalism.

“I could easily believe that [Beria] had been an agent of the Mussavatists, as Kaminsky had said, but Kaminsky’s charges had never been verified. . . . We had only our intuition to go on”.
(Khrushchev, p. 333)

To finally carry out his coup, Khruschchev had to gain the support of the military. Khruschchev said: “The Presidium bodyguard was obedient to [Beria]. Therefore we decided to enlist the help of the military” (Khrushchev, pp. 335-36)

“In late June 1953 Beria was repressed, either by arrest and imprisonment or by outright murder.”
(Furr, Khruschchev Lied, p. 194)

According to historian Iuri Zhukov, Khrushchev managed to win some of the party bureaucracy on his side by opposing Stalin’s proposed democratic and egalitarian reforms which were supported by Malenkov and Beria. Malenkov was pushed out, Beria was killed.

Stalin had proposed economic policies which aimed at total abolition of the small commodity production that still existed, abolition of money trade and replacing it with exchange of goods of equal labor value, abolition of differences between mental physical labor and other egalitarian policies and policies which would have meant a radical transition closer to full communism.

According to Zhukov, Stalin also advocated for contested elections and democratic reform. We also know Stalin had proposed removing the party from leadership of managing the state as a necessary transition in the next stage in socialist construction towards communism. It would make sense that some rightist bureaucrats would be very much opposed to this, and consider these methods too radical and too left.

According to Iuri Zhukov, there was a decision to decrease the salaries of politicians which was supported by Malenkov. Khruschchev managed to win some people over by reversing this policy and returning higher salaries to bureaucrats.

“It is my firm conviction that the true meaning of the 20th Congress lies precisely in this return of the Party apparatus to power. It was the necessity to hide this fact . . . that necessitated distracting attention from contemporary events and concentrating them on the past with the aid of the “secret report” [better known as the Secret Speech, where Khrushchev launched an ideological attack against Stalin]”~I. Zhukov, “Krutoi povorot … nazad” (“A sharp turn . . . backwards”)

It was necessary for Khruschchev to attack Beria, who was at the same time head of the security forces and vice president of the USSR. After the death of Stalin he was one of the most powerful men in the country. Malenkov was head of the council of ministers, or prime minister while Molotov perhaps the third most powerful man in the country was Foreign Affairs Minister.

It is unclear how exactly Khruschchev was able to get away with Beria’s murder. Khruschchev himself claims he was able to convince or intimidate Molotov and Malenkov to stand idly as he did it, but this has to be taken with a large grain of salt. Beria’s removal was a conspiracy full of deception, fraud and a palace coup.

“On the night of June 26 1953, Red Army tanks of the Kantemirovskaya Division rolled into Moscow and took up much the same positions as . . . in March. And the tanks were supported by infantry from the Byelorussian military district”
(Deriabin, p. 332)

Beria’s removal was made public the following month. A coup was also carried out within the Georgian party organisation. Opponents of Khruschchev were labeled as Georgian nationalists, removed and largely replaced with Zhukov’s military men.

In 1956 Khruschchev launched his attack on Stalin, the so-called “Secret Speech”. Virtually all the contents of this infamous and extremely significant speech have proven to be falsifications. There is a book length refutation and analysis of the fact claims in Khruschchev’s speech called Khruschchev Lied which I recommend to anyone interested in this topic.

Why did Khruschchev give this speech? As the Chinese communists theorized, Khruschchev wanted to pursue policies drastically different from the Marxist-Leninist line of Stalin and his supporters and therefore it was necessary to attack Stalin’s legitimacy. Historian Iuri Zhukov stressed that it was necessary for Khruschchev to combat Stalin’s democratic reforms and egalitarian programs and restore power into the hands of the party bureaucracy headed by Khruschchev himself. The Chinese said something very similar, saying that the Soviet party had become corrupt and revisionist.

To me it is clear that Khruschchev also had to attack all of his opponents politically. Khruschchev did not only attack Stalin, he also attacked all his other opponents: Molotov, Kaganovich, Malenkov, Beria by labeling them “Stalinists”. The evidence of Malenkov and Beria being loyal to Stalin is up for debate. Khruschchev himself turned out to be an extremely disloyal member of Stalin’s administration. Malenkov only joined the politburo as a candidate in 1941. Therefore we shouldn’t automatically conclude that Malenkov and Beria were not suspicious characters, opportunists or revisionists just because they were rivals of Khruschchev, that is an entirely different question. But it was important for Khruschchev to label them “Stalinists” to marginalize them.

Why did Molotov and Kaganovich once again stand by without adequately defending themselves? Only Khrushchev’s people had access to the archival documents which proved the secret speech to be full of lies. Molotov and Kaganovich must have known to a degree that Khrushchev was lying, but were relatively defenseless against the accusations. For all they knew, they might have been partially true. The same applies to the rest of the communist movement. The movement was shocked, but even Mao Tse-Tung and Enver Hoxha did not publicly oppose the secret speech until 4 years later, when it had become clear to them what had happened and it was far too late.

The next year in June 1957 Malenkov joined by the old Marxist-Leninists Kaganovich and Molotov finally attempted to oust Khruschchev from power. They won the vote in the presidium 7 to 4. However Khrushchev argued that only the plenum of the Central Committee could remove him from office. An extraordinary session of the Central Committee was held where Khrushchev was backed by military leader Georgy Zhukov, who gave a speech in Khruschchev’s favor even threatening to use the military to support him. Thus the military coup continued and party democracy was torpedoed by Khruschchev.

Why did the General support Khruschchev, even though he later admitted that Stalin was a great leader and Khruschchev a dishonest and vain-glorious opportunist? Because Khruschchev had promoted Zhukov to defense minister, while Stalin had demoted him due to corruption charges.

This network of scheming and corruption is what we generally know as the Khruschchev Coup. The murder or possible criminal neglect of the dying Stalin, the assassination many of Khruschchev’s political enemies, the marginalization of countless others, the lies, bribery and outright military take over and total rejection of party democracy. Khruschchev did what he falsely accused Stalin and others of doing.


Pioneering article by W. B. Bland on Stalin’s death and the Khrushchev Coup. This article is very good, however it is seriously out of date and I only use that evidence which I quoted from the article. It sometimes quotes Robert Conquest, whose work in this case is almost entirely worthless and unreliable. Conquests’ writings cannot be taken as sufficient evidence. The article also quotes Khrushchev’s “Secret Speech” which is much the same way, it can’t be taken as evidence except when analysing it as a piece of propaganda. The article also puts forward the position that the Doctor’s Case was genuine, which in the light of more modern research is debatable.

Alliluyeva, Twenty Letters to a Friend

Alliluyeva, Only One Year

P. Deriabin, Watchdogs of Terror: Russian Bodyguards from the Tsars to the Commissars

H. Salisbury, Stalin’s Russia and After

R. H. McNeal, Stalin: Man and Ruler

J. Lewis & P. Whitehead, Stalin: A Time for Judgement

W. Laqueur, Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations

D. Volkogonov, Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy

A. B. Ulam, Stalin: The Man and His Era

Hoxha, With Stalin: Memoirs

G. Bortoli, The Death of Stalin

Furr, Stalin and the Struggle for Democratic Reform

Pyzhikov, A. “N.A. Voznesenskii o perspektivakh poselvoennogo obnovleniia obshchestva.”

Mikoyan, And it was (Mikoian, Tak Bylo) Ch. 46: “On the Eve of and During the 19th Party Congress: Stalin’s Last Days.”

Iuri Zhukov, “Krutoi povorot … nazad” (“A sharp turn . . . backwards”)

Refutation of Khruschchev’s “Secret Speech”

Stalin’s proletarization of the party in Molotov’s Pamphlet

Grover Furr on the “Doctors’ Plot”

Analysis of Khruschchev era economic policy. I don’t agree with all the conclusions, and sometimes the book emphasises evidence which maybe doesn’t have a crucial importance, but in general the evidence presented is valuable and shows the Kosygin reform’s shift to a profit-oriented model as opposed to the model that Stalin proposed.


The Finnish Communist Revolution (1918) PART 2: The Eve of Revolution


“That flammable substance, which in January 1918 burst into full flame of armed conflict between the basic classes of Finnish society – workers and capitalists, had been accumulating for decades in the depths of this system. With the rise of capitalistic production, here too the struggle between labour and capital, between worker and capitalist, became the basic contradiction of the whole society. Unjust relations of landownership and the utterly vulnerable status of the vast masses of landless rural people, had created a situation where the capitalists had plenty of very cheap labour at their disposal. Finnish capitalists took full advantage of the situation and wasted no time in setting up a system just as ruthless and unequal as that of the older capitalist countries. The situation was even more favorable for the capitalist class because the workers were at this time timid, scared and did not attempt any kind of organized resistance. Instead they suffered the oppression and injusticy quietly, and this way the bitterness and anger slowly built up among them.” (Tuure Lehen, Punaisten ja Valkoisten Sota p. 9)

Different social classes before the outbreak of the revolution:

The Industrial Workers:

“In the old system workers had needed to submit to the ‘legal guardianship’ of their employer, which often meant police levels of surveillance and control by the capitalist. This was officially abolished in 1868 but employers still for a long time considered it justified to continue their old ways. The strict work discipline regulations allowed the employers in many ways to blackmail their workers, punish them for the slightest disobedience, or carelessness, impose heavy fines and thus push down the already meager wages. The employers were especially worried about worker’s organizing, unless they were joining organizations and associations created and controlled by the employers themselves. It was common for capitalists to threaten to fire all workers who joined unions or worker organizations. This happened for example in Pinjaiset, Fiskars and Högfors factories. In November 1903 in Varkaus nearly 200 workers were evicted from their homes for joining the workers’ association. Often buying or subscribing to working class newspapers was enough of a reason to be fired and evicted.” (Lehen, pp. 9-10)

“Despite rapid industrial development having begun in the 1860s it was as late as the 1890s when the country saw the breakout of the first big strike movements. Out of these the strikes of construction workers in Helsinki in 1896 and the baker strike of 1899 have to be mentioned. In both cases the Finnish capitalists shamelessly colluded with the Russian authorities to break the strike: by sending in strike breakers from Russia. In these initial strikes, alongside the struggle for higher wages, the demands centered around shortening the working day which was either unbearable long, or not limited at all in its length, as well as demands for the most basic work safety regulations. During this struggle based on the most vitally necessary demands, the class consciousness of the workers began to awaken. This caused worry among the capitalists, who saw the mass mobilization of the workers as a sign that the workers were turning to revolutionary socialism…

A sign of this worry was the capitalists’ attempt to push the workers towards wrightism, a reformist tendency lead by the bourgeoisie, which told the workers to remain calm and “not demand too much”. Eventually the workers got tired of wrightism, as the experience of their every day lives quickly taught them that improvements in their lives, were never gained by begging and surrendering, but only by forcing the capitalists into granting the workers’ demands.

For this reason the workers turned their backs on wrightism and began more boldly to support the Socialists who expressed the will to directly tackle social inequality, and put forward concrete demands instead of pious wishes. Strenghtening of these sentiments led in 1899 to the creation of the Finnish Workers’ Party… which declared a “split from the bourgeoisie”. (Lehen, pp. 10-11)

“The founding of an independent workers’ party had a crucial significance to the working class and it proved to be a powerful catalyst in favor of developing mass mobilization. An increasing determination and steadfastness was becoming evident in the workers’ struggle.

The struggle took fairly intense forms in 1904 in Voikkaa where the conduct of a foreman sparked the anger of the workers and caused a strike. The employers called in the Finnish-Russian authorities who sent a gang of police to crush the strike. The police arrested the labour leaders and evicted from company apartments the workers who had been fired for participating in the strike.

In 1905 and 1906 there were several strikes that lasted for several weeks, even months. The metal workers’ strike, which consisted of 3000 workers lasted for 19 weeks. The construction workers were able through their disciplined struggle to win a 9-hour working day.

The strike that proved most significant was the logger strike of the Kemi-company in North, which began on logging sites in Kuolajärvi and Sodankylä and spread to Kemi, and which lasted consecutively almost the entire year 1906. The great single-minded determination and discipline of the workers was demonstrated by the fact that out of the 3000 strikers, during the entire year only couple dozen became strike breakers. The most immediate cause of the strike was that the Kemi-company had taken for itself a monopoly on selling food to the workers, had forced the workers to only purchase food from the company store at very high prices, or risk being fired. The food also proved to be dangerously rotten and unfit for human consumption but the employers had arrogantly ignored the workers’ complaints. The workers demanded that the company must sell them only clean and edible foodstuffs. Along with this the workers demanded a shortening of the work day to 10 hours per day, an increase in wages, and the abolition of the blacklist system.
Not agreeing to the workers’ demands the Kemi-company together with the authorities took action to stop the “rebellion”. It closed down the food shops trying to starve the workers into submission. As the company owned all the food stores, the workers had no other option to avoid starvation then to break open the doors of the food shops and organize food distribution to the starving, which was done according to proper payment and under strict observation. The employers asked for help from the authorities… a gang of 35 lead by police liutenant Bruno Jalander was sent to “pacify” the workers of the North. Tens of workers were arrested, around twenty involved in opening the food shops were sentenced for robbery and blasphemy[sic] to varying prison sentences.”
(Lehen, pp. 11-12)

The Workers’ Party

“The success that the workers’ party gained already in its first parliament elections showed clearly that the party had not only gained the uninamous support of the industrial workers, but it had also won a large amount of votes from among the rural population. A contributing factor was that the workers themselves had close contacts to the countryside and the rural poor. Members of the working class were generally speaking young people, only recently left from the countryside to the cities. The poor position of the rural population also naturally brought it close to the working class movement to seek support from it.” (Lehen, p.15)

“The experiences gained in these labour struggles explain at least in part the often pointed out fact that the Finnish working class movement was already early on very interested in struggle for state power, while trade union organizing lagged behind the political struggle for many years. The independent Finnish workers’ party founded in 1899 had to for several years also perform the duties of a central trade union organization, especially during large strikes because the Finnish Trade Union Federation was founded only in 1907.

The active involvement of the state authorities, the police, court system and state church into the disputes between workers and capitalists always on the side of the capitalists, gave rise to anger by the workers towards the reactionary state authority. The close connection of the Finnish representatives of that state apparatus to the Russian tsarist ruling class, whose repressive actions always first and foremost targeted the workers and their organizations, makes it easy to understand why workers had such an exemplary role to play in the indipendence struggle…” (Lehen, p 13)

“The rapid rise of the independent Finnish political workers’ movement culminated in the December 1905 general strike, a mass action of unprecendented size for equal municipal suffrage and to destroy the old feudal system that had resisted all social progress.” (Lehen, pp. 13-14)


The Tenant Farmers

“The most important social grouping were the tenant farmers, who cultivated the land they rented from the nobles, large landowners and capitalist corporations. In the relations between tenant farmers and landowners the essential question was that of terms of rent. In individual cases, such as when tenants would rent land from relatives, the terms could be quite tolerable… The general picture however was something different: a relationship of extreme exploitation and oppression where the position of the tenant was similar to that of a medieval serf. The rent payment in the form of a work-tax i.e. working on the landowner’s land weighed heavily on the tenants. The payment was not merely a reasonable or justifiable compensation for the use of land, but ruthless exploitation…” (Lehen, p.16)

The landlords would often cheat the peasants in rent terms. Most of the time there were no actual written contracts but rent was decided simply in verbal agreement. And of course most of the peasantry were illiterate.
“Another important grievance in the life of the tenants was the uncertainty of their situation. The terms of the rent were usually decided in oral agreement between the two parties. In the cases where written contracts were made, they were always vague and up for interpretation, and it didn’t benefit the tenant to appeal to the legal authorities since it was obvious that “law and justice” were on the side of the aristocrats, corporations and landowners. The violent and ruthless mass eviction of the tenant farmers of the Laukko manor house by the armed force of the “legal authorities” in May 1907 is an illustrative example of how the society of that time saw it as the noble lord’s sacred right, to treat his subjects how ever inhumanly as he saw fit.” (Lehen, p.16)

“The broken down doors and hearths of the cottages of the manors’ tenants, served as a metaphor for the dead end that the oppressed classes found themselves in: they had to do something to improve their lives, yet their attempts were met with even worse suffering.”
(Y. Kallinen, Hälinää ja hiljaisuutta, p. 26)

A common practice by the landlords was to let a tenant family move to an area where the land was of poor quality (this could be e.g. a bog, a swamp or forest) then let the peasant family improve the land (drain the swamp, chop down the trees etc.) so they could turn it into a farm. Then after the rent contract ran out, the landlord would evict the peasant and thus acquire the newly created good quality farm land for themselves. The peasant family would then be forced to move to another bad piece of land and repeat the process.

“For the tenant farmers the threat of eviction was always there, and it was an effective method of blackmail. It was used especially when the landowner wished to acquire a piece of land which the tenant had through their productive labour turned from a wasteland to fertile farmland.” (Lehen, p.17)

“…I met several tenant farmers who had been evicted, often even multiple times and each time had had to once again clear a new farming plot into a thicket or a bog on the property of the same landowner… I met an old man who had sat years in jail for resisting the crown’s police when they came to evict him for the third time… It was clear that people in this position were eager to hear and accept the socialist teachings, as it gave them an explanation about their own societal position and a path to follow towards liberation”
(M. Ampuja, Pajasta parlamenttiin, Turku 1947, p.73)

“… the pitiless violence the landowners had to use against their tenants was a sign of the rising class consciousness of the tenant farmers, who due to circumstance could only see the socialist movement as the strongest defender of their rights.” (Lehen, p.17)

“In those days, the tenant farmers of Finland had begun to follow the example of the industrial proletarians and had started mass organizing for their rights. In various parts of the country there were mass meetings, also strikes, the demands of which were mainly protections against evictions and against the arbitrary and absolute power of the landowners. The Workers’ Party gave its immediate support to the demands of the tenant farmers and other rural poor. It also helped them to organize their struggle. The Party leadership played an importan part in helping to organize the first nationwide congress of tenant farmers’ deputees in Tampere in 1906. The fact that 50.000-60.000 tenants out of a total of hundred thousand had representatives in this meeting was a clear sign of the desire of the farmers to fight side by side with the workers.” (Lehen, p.18)

Servants and Farm Workers: The Rural Proletariat

“The societal situation of [the house servants and farmhands] was even more oppressed and precarious then that of the tenant farmers.” (Lehen, p.18)

“Servants, who lived in spare rooms of houses [of their employer] or in cottages under severe surveillance… were not allowed to leave the house without the permission of their master, or to talk to outsiders. As the status of tenant farmers has often been compared to that of serfs or semi-slaves, that of the servants could rightly be compared to full blown slavery… An 1865 servant law which was only taken off the law books in 1920… gave the master of the servant the right to the most petty kind of spying, ruthless exploitation, inhuman treatment and even physical violence. The servant was not allowed to own a locked chest or a bag, all their belongings had to be visible for inspection by their master. The length of the working day was unlimited. Unlike the old slave owners, the master was not allowed to kill their servant, but he was allowed to hit them. According to the 3. article of the servant law, the master was allowed to physically punish female servants under 13 and male servants under 18 if they didn’t adequately fulfill the tasks their master thought “reasonable”, which according to Miina Sillanpää [a servant] meant 24 hour working days. In the case of the servants, the slavery was not lifelong, but instead was decided in year long contracts on the so-called “hiring markets.” However that year would in most cases turn out to be unbearably hard.” (Lehen, p.20)

“…Often the servant, when deciding upon the terms of the contract, is given entirely false information about the type and amount of the work. The servant is often promised more pay then he ends up getting. And as the contracts are usually made without any wittnesses, how is the servant to prove that he was promised more? The wage is entirely vague and arbitrary, and the servant lives with his master so he has to devote all of his time to working. Speaking about overtime pay is entirely out of the question. The servant can’t say he is working overtime, even if he works 24 hours per day, since the length of his work day is not limited in any way.”  (Minutes of the 6th congress of Finnish servants)

“Servants depended on their master for food. Even in the best cases nutrition was very basic… It was very common that even in those cases where the servants were allowed to eat in the same table as the master’s family, they sat in that part of the table prepared for the house staff and ate worse food.” (Lehen, p.21)

“Living conditions of the servants were below any reasonable standards” (Lehen, p.22)

“The condition of the rural servants is pathetic. The biggest outrage being the living conditions of the house staffs. This is most evident in Southern Ostrobothnia… part of the population lives in the most unhealthy conditions. It seems incredibly that even in winter people are forced to live in rooms which don’t protect from the cold, and contain no heating, not to even speak about the lack of all basic comforts. Therefore it is not uncommon that after a night of wind and snowfall the servent wakes up to find snow on his bed. However these living quarters are not all uplighting to the human soul during the summer either. Typically they have no windows, only a trap-door. Often they are built next to the manure storage, on top of store rooms were all sorts of gargage is held, and where dust and bad smelling air seeps through the loose floor boards… Living in these poor conditions brought an inevitable co-inhabitant – pneumonia, that horror of the poor, which rages among the servant class” (Minutes of the 5th congress of Finnish servants)

The Working Class Movement Before the Revolution

“…[I]n the summer of 1917 Finland was met with another hardship, unprecendented unemployment… the unemployed constituted the most restless element of the population: after losing their livelyhoods they began demanding work and aid. The workers understood that no improvement could be gained without an active struggle. Success depended on unity and organization… the Social-Democratic Party had 70,000 members in 1916, but in the third quarter of 1917 it exceeded 100,000 members. The membership of the finnish trade union federation increased four times over from 41,800 to 160,695. The tenant farmers’ union had 2000 members in May 1917 but at the end of the year membership had risen to 9000 and by February 1918 it was 12,000. The farm laborers who previously had been very badly organized… began to create their own unions and in mid August of 1917 there were already 70 of these organizations. The finnish farm laborers’ union was founded at the end of August in a meeting in Tampere.”
(Holodkovski, pp.18-19)

“…on 26. of March [1917] a strike broke out in Helsinki demanding an 8-hour working day. The same demand was presented as their primary goal by the strikes in April. The 8-hour work day was first implemented in the senate printing press, state railways and fortification construction works. Metal workers won the 8-hour working day on the 18. of April through a one day strike of 30,000 workers accross the country. The strikers’ demands were supported in Helsinki by Russian soldiers, sailors and workers who joined the Finnish workers. The demonstrators surrounded the building where the representatives of the workers were negotiating with the capitalists… The farm laborers continued to fight for the 8-hour working day and the struggle against the landowners’ resistance was often fierce… the farm laborer strikes broke out typically without agreement with the trade union federation… Most often the strikes occurred during the busiest farming seasons – during sowing and harvesting. Tensions tan the highest precisely during farm laborer’s strikes… the workers stopped working and prevented the landowners from bringing their relatives to work on the field… There were times when the large landowners refused to make any kinds of concessions. The owners of the large Westermarck farm declared before the beginning of the farm laborers’ strike, that they will sell or butcher every single one of their 700 cows. In the vicinity of Pori, one landowner left the grain unharvested and appointed White Guard soldiers to guard the field so nobody could harvest it. The workers of the nearby village turned to the Russian soldiers for help. The soldiers fired a few shots with a cannon towards the direction of the farm and the opponent was forced to surrender. Though the information is incomplete, we know that in 1917 there were at least 78 farm laborer strikes on 1949 farms, and they included 16 167 persons. Eleven of the strikes also included tenant farmers, though they were bound by their rent contracts, according to which they could be punished for participating in a strike. Altogether there was a total of 478 strikes in 1917, involving 150 000 workers… Other extraparliamentary activity by the workers also increased. Some declarations or actions by the workers, without the approval of the Social-Democratic Party, demonstrated a spontaneous shift towards revolutionary tactics, already before the Bolsheviks had taken power in Russia…” (Holodkovski, pp.23-24)

“The primary targets of these extraparliamentary actions, were the local government organs, which were in the hands of the rich… Getting working class representation in the municipal organs was not a matter of principle for the workers, it had a purely practical meaning, especially in those hard times. Destitution forced the workers to hasten the solving of this question. Typically the workers presented a demand to the municipal council that the council needed to also include working class representatives. Then they surrounded the building and refused to let the council leave until the demand was satisfied.” (Holodkovski, p.24)

“Municipal elections still used the ancient system, according to which the poor had no right to vote, but the rich depending on their wealth and property could have several votes.” (Holodkovski, p.16)

“The social-democratic municipal organization of Rauma demanded on the 5. of May that half of the seats in the munical council had to be given to the workers. In support of this demand a general strike broke out in the city on the 7. of May. It lasted for 15 days and ended in the victory of the workers. In Turku, a general strike broke out in 29. of May, demonstrators surrounding the city council building and demanding 25 seats for the workers. The newspaper The Worker wrote that if the shock troops the bourgeoisie had assembled tried to rescue the council then the Russian soldiers on the side of the demonstrators would open fire. Later it was told in the communist press that the shock troopers had been captured by the demonstrators… Members of the council were released on June 1. The demand of the workers was fulfilled. Similar incidents took place in Pori as well as other towns and villages.

The parliament also became a target for mass action. On 14. of July when the parliament was discussing the 8-hour working day as well as the municipal election reform, a crowd of several thousands surrounded the parliament… A committee of the demonstrators presented a statement to the parliament in support of accepting the reforms. The parliament was forced to agree… The bourgeois deputees in the parliament were afraid that unless the reforms were signed, there would be serious confrontations because the population was at a boiling point… However the reforms were never implemented because the Russian Provisional Government disbanded the Finnish parliament.” (Holodkovski, pp. 25-26)


The Peasantry’s Demand For Land Reform

“Out of all households with one or more hectares of land, 41.4% were renting, and most of them were tenant farmers… Most tenants had only a small piece of land… out of 96 167 tenant farms… only 1.4% had more then 25 hectares. At the same time 60 000 tenants farmed plots smaller then half a hectare. Poor tenant farmers paid their rent to the landowner in money and work done on the landowner’s land… Because the tenant also had to take care of his own farm, his work day during the summer was an average of 15-17 hours… Only 7% of tenants got enough income from their own farm and the rest [93%] had to seek additional income from employment… The status of a tenant farmer was extremely precarious: the tenant had no security about their future, since at the end of their rent contract, they might be evicted and find themselves and their family, homeless with no income…” (Holodkovski, p.13)
The ruling class refused to grant any meaningful land reform, as that would have gone against the interests of the landowners. They saw the situation was disastrous and peasant revolt inevitable, but in order to not go against the landowners the government opted for a compromise and tried to post-pone the land reform issue as far into the future as possible.

“When in 1908 the time approached when the tenant contracts would run out, the question of new contracts was not raised, instead the parliament signed a bill which prolonged the old contracts… The Czar approved this bill on the 12. of March 1909. The question was not solved in the five years prior to the first world war. In 1916 62 000 contracts were running out despite being extended in 1909. Huge masses of tenants were under the threat of eviction. To avoid massive internal destabilization that Germany could have benefited from in the war, the Czar issued a decree that the contracts would remain effective for the time being. Thousands of tenants escaped imminent eviction but only for a time. [A conservative politician] emphasized in a speech a few weeks before the Czar’s overthrow that the peasantry is rising up against the landlords, that this desperate group of people is dangerous and if the fire now kindling among them bursts into full flame the results will be terrifying.” (Holodkovski, p.13-14)

“Immediately after the fall of Czardom… the social-democrats suggested that in the Provisional Government’s manifesto be included that poor tenants won’t be evicted and are given control of the land they farm. This way the tenants could have been appeased. But the Russian Provisional Government pointed out the negative attitude towards land-reform, of the Finnish bourgeois parties and therefore declined the social-democrat’s proposal.” (Holodkovski, p.14)

“The short sighted and selfish policy of the bourgeoisie had prevented the tenant farmer question being solved by any legal means. Now the tenants had joined with the farm workers in strikes, and became like them targets of retaliatory actions… The finnish working class movement fought on the side of the rural poor, landless, tenant farmers and farm workers and guided these forces to action. The demands of these groups had been stated countless times and the bourgeoisie had not solved the issue. These problems absolutely had to be dealt with. From this foundation, the working class movement developed its demand for the liberation of the tenant farmers and raised them up to join the struggle.” (Hyvönen, pp.89-90)
The bourgeoisie could have solved the tenant question at any time, but when ever anyone tried to fix this crying social crisis, the capitalists prevented it. This way, they made peasant rebellion absolutely inevitable. They made the lives of the tenant farmers, poor peasants and farm workers so unbearable that they were bound to rise up in rebellion.

“The social-democratic parliamentary group proposed on 27. of March a bill for the liberation of the tenant farmers and farm workers…Some social-democratic speakers emphasized the extreme urgency … of this bill because in many localities tenant strikes were already breaking out, and unless the matter was solved the tenants would be pushed to the path of revolution… The bill was defeated with 98 bourgeois votes against 95 socialists.” (Holodkovski, p.136)

“Tenant farmers held rallies all throughout the country and declared that unless they were liberated by the parliament, they would liberate themselves. The tenants’ meetings accepted proposals to cease paying any more rent. For instance on 16. of march 1917 in Sankajärvi the tenants decided to not pay rent unless the bill was passed by the parliament. The tenant farmers of Lapusala demanded on the 3. of December that the social-democratic parliamentary group must take urgent action to liberate the tenants from the centuries old yoke… The final decision of the meeting proclaimed that unless the parliament freed them they would take revolutionary action, general strike and stop of all rent payments. Tenant farmers and farm workers of Kodisjoki demanded on january 6. of 1918 that they must be liberated and all land nationalized. They proposed that each peasant could thus rent on fair terms from the state…” (Holodkovski, pp.136-137)

Count Von Der Goltz, German General who later invaded Finland to crush the socialist revolution, said:

“The ground was fertile for revolution, and not just in the industrial centers but also in the countryside where the peasants were mainly tenants and not owners. As in ancient Rome the rent system caused great dissatisfaction in the countryside and caused even the hard-working and loyal… finnish peasants to be possessed by the … teachings of Russian communism… to become Bolsheviks.” (Graf von der Goltz, Als politischer General im Osten (Finnland und Baltikum) 1918 und 1919)
The reasons that led to the revolution can be summed up as follows: decades and centuries old forms of oppression, horrible working conditions, working days as long as 10-17 hours or even sometimes 24 hours, merciless exploitation and since there were no effective legal ways of making change and solving these problems, the masses were inevitably pushed towards revolution. The municipal elections were entirely undemocratic and in the parliament the capitalist politicians prevented any reforms from being passed. However, there was one even more immediate factor contributing to the revolutionary sentiments: starvation.

The Food Crisis

“At the end of 1917 it can be said that hunger had arrived in Finland… sugar rationing had already been implemented in December 1916 and at the beginning of 1917 rationing was introduced in larger population centers for butter, milk and meat” (Koskinen, p.16)

“Because no strong measures were taken to prevent black market speculation, prices increased to the degree that workers could no longer afford them…” (Holodkovski, p.134)

“…[F]ood was distributed with ration cards, but the food rationing system couldn’t work adequately unless the large food stores of rich persons and capitalist corporations were confiscated. However the government did not heed the demands of the workers as it would have contradicted the interests of propertied classes…” (Holodkovski, p.133)

“The economic situation of the working class had become intolerable. Since the earliest years of the world war, wages had fallen behind the ever increasing prices of foodstuffs… The people could not be given even reduced food rations and the workers and employees could not afford the black market prices. In autumn unemployment also began to increase threateningly. The working class suffered from widespread hunger. The rural poor also fell victim to it.” (Hyvönen, p.87)

“How widespread the hunger was can be seen for example in the notices posted in newspapers by the government food distribution body. A notice for December 1917 states the following:

“As is well known, in all cities, including their suburbs and rural regions whose populations are largely industrial workers or farming is not developed, have already since september been on the brink of famine. There have been two or three week periods when it hasn’t been possible to distribute grain. Thus the continuing and spread of famine threaten the entire country… 800,000 Finnish citizens already suffer from shortage of grain…”

A notice published on the 17. of January 1918 states:
“The number of regions, not only in towns but also in the countryside, suffering from shortage of bread only increases and in some areas it has gotten so bad that, according to the information given by food distribution committees, hunger has caused weakness and deaths.”” (Hyvönen, p.88)
“The food distribution board published in December 1917 that 800.000 Finnish citizens (one quarter of the population!) suffered from a shortage of bread, despite the fact that bread was already being made with flour that had flax, potato skins, lichen or tree bark etc. mixed in with the grain… sometimes people would lose consciousness due to malnutrition… six hungry students of a girl school had fainted during the morning prayer. The food board stated on January 17. 1918 that hunger had caused deaths in towns as well as rural areas. The food board received desperate letters and telegrams from various municipalities begging for help…

From Veteli: Bread grain for one week only, after that even the rye seeds have been eaten…
From Lapland: At the end of the week our stores will be empty, we request urgent action.
From Haukiputaa: People relying on rations have been without food for a week, will die soon unless we get flour.
From Raivola: We ask that you send us any type of food grain so we can distribute something to consumers.
From Pyhäjärvi: We request most humbly, that we could get even a small amount of food grain

The position of the food board became intolerable and on 24. of January its chairman… and [several] members resigned…” (Holodkovski, pp.134-135)

“The lack of food forced the working class to take determined action. On 19. of January the Red Guard of Vyborg began house searches of the bourgeois for food and weapons. The discoveries were bigger then expected. While the working class suffered from hunger, even died from hunger it turned out that the bourgeoisie had large flour, sugar, rice and meat stores as well as basements full of alcoholic drinks, despite the fact that liquor was illegal in Finland. Some bourgeois didn’t even know what ration cards were. The committees created by the workers acted in a revolutionary manner: they confiscated the excess food they found and distributed it to the starving.” (Holodkovski, p.135)

“[T]he so-called butter riots… began when the government temporarily stopped the distribution of butter rations. In Turku on 9. of August a crowd inspected food storages and after finding both butter and cheese (which was already starting to go bad) began to distribute the food in return for ration cards. The next day a mass meeting in Turku demanded that the parliament has to confiscate all food storages, ban the exporting of food (food was being exported to be sold in Petrograd where prices were even higher)… The population demanded that all food storages be taken under the control of the municipal government organs. Also in Helsinki the butter storages were inspected by demonstrators and the distribution of butter according to price controls was begun.”(Holodkovski, p.26)

“At night on the 14. of August the municipal employees of Helsinki began a general strike. They demanded the safeguarding of people, especially children and the elderly from hunger and starvation. The senate did not take any action. On 21. of October a delegation of the Finnish Trade-Union Federation issued a statement regarding the food question. It demanded making a careful inventory of all food stores, confiscation of illegal food storages, the handing over to the control of the state and municipal authorities of the most essential food items, giving full authority to the food distribution bodies in distribution and regulation of price controls, the handing of unused farm land to the state and municipalities and increasing of wages due to increased food prices… the declaration didn’t lead to any action [by the government].” (Holodkovski, p.39)

“The 4th Congress of the Finnish Trade-Union Federation met on December 12 [1917]. It pointed out that the conditions of the workers were so hopeless and unbearable, that unless the congress is ready to make radical decisions, the workers will take matters into their own hands. The food question was top most in importance… Many… deputees saw revolution as the only thing that could save the workers from starvation. Deputee Hakkinen said that unless the working class rises up to fight they will all starve to death… Deputee Pyttynen said that in Ostrobothnia the workers were eagerly waiting for the decisions of the congress and were willing to die in order to put them into effect… The deputee from Tampere said that workers of the city have decided to either win or die. Deputee Lampinen said that in many localities the workers have already began to take action, because it is better to die in battle then to do nothing and die of hunger…” (Holodkovski, p.51)




Tuure Lehen, Punaisten ja Valkoisten Sota
Esa Koskinen, Veljiksi kaikki ihmiset tulkaa: Lohja 1917-18
Viktor Holodkovski, Suomen työväen vallankumous 1918
Graf von der Goltz, As political general in the east (Finland and the Baltics) 1918-1919
Y. Kallinen, Hälinää ja Hiljaisuutta
M. Ampuja, Pajasta Parlamenttiin
Antti Hyvönen, Suurten tapahtumien vuodet 1917-18
Antti Hyvönen, Suomen Kommunistinen Puolue 1918-24
Antti Hyvönen, Suomen vanhan työväenpuolueen historia
Otto Kuusinen, “The Finnish Revolution: A Self-Criticism”

(*1910 figures which were not much different from 1917. Holodkovski, p.13)

Finnish sources have been translated to English by MLT

The Finnish Communist Revolution (1918) PART 1: Finnish Independence

In 1917 Finland was part of the Russian empire. Finland was a protectorate of Russia, meaning it didn’t have a military of its own, had no independent foreign policy or economic policy and was ruled by a Russian governor general.

However in the 1905-06 revolution Finland had gained itself some limited democratic rights and some nominal autonomy, its own parliament and senate although they were still under the power of Russia.

It had been recognized by progressive elements for at least a century that Finland had developed into a nation of its own and deserved independence. The Finnish people had their own language, culture and history. There was also the push for more democratic rights and the struggle against monarchist absolutism. The 1905-06 uprisings and demonstrations were a prime example of this.

Although some Finnish capitalists and especially small owners supported independence, as time went on it was more and more the working class movement that led the independence struggle. The capitalist class and nobility of Finland were happy to work with the Russian Tsar and relied on the Tsarist state to crack down on striking workers and poor peasants wanting better working conditions, higher wages and more democratic rights.

The very early Finnish independence movement had been pioneered by bourgeois and petit-bourgeois intellectuals, but in the early 1900s the Finnish capitalist class became more and more opposed to Finnish independence. Leading the independence struggle fell almost exclusively to the proletarians and semi-proletarians.

The February Revolution

After the Tsar was overthrown in February 1917 the Finnish Capitalists allied themselves closely with the Russian provisional government led by Kerensky.

“None of the ruling bourgeois groupings took a pro-independence stance. The Russian provisional government took upon itself the role of the inheritor and continuer of the Tsar-grand duke’s power. It was able to do this with the favorable help of the finnish bourgeoisie.” (Hyvönen, Suurten tapahtumien vuodet 1917-18, p.14)

“The legal government… the bourgeois considered to mean the Russian Provisional Government whose legitimacy the Socialists did not recognize.” (Hyvönen, p.19)


The Bolshevik Attitude Towards Finnish Independence

“The Russian Bolsheviks completely supported Finland’s demands for self-determination.” (Hyvönen, s.22)

“I must declare most categorically that we would not be democrats (I say nothing of socialism!) if we did not recognize the right of the peoples of Russia to free self-determination. I declare that we would be betraying socialism if we did not do everything to restore fraternal confidence between the workers of Finland and Russia. But everyone knows that the restoration of this confidence is inconceivable unless the right of the Finnish people to free self-determination is firmly recognized. And it is not merely the verbal, even if official, recognition of this right that is important here. What is important is that this verbal recognition will be confirmed by the act of the Council of People’s Commissars, that it will be put into effect without hesitation. For the time for words has passed. The time has come when the old slogan “Workers of all countries, unite!” must be put into effect.

Complete freedom for the Finnish people, and for the other peoples of Russia, to arrange their own life! A voluntary and honest alliance of the Finnish people with the Russian people! No tutelage, no supervision from above, over the Finnish people! These are the guiding principles of the policy of the Council of People’s Commissars.”
~STALIN (Speech delivered at the Congress of the Finnish Social-Democratic Labour Party, Helsingfors Nov. 14, 1917)


The Power Act

“In the elections of 1916 socialists gained a majority in the parliament, 103 seats”(Koskinen, Veljiksi kaikki ihmiset tulkaa: Lohja 1917-18 pp. 14-15)

After the socialists achieved an electoral victory and a majority in the parliament in the 1916 elections they managed to pass the so-called “Power Act” (Valtalaki). This was a bill that declared the finnish parliament independent and sovereign from Russian involvement. That the finnish parliament was the highest authority of Finland. Effectively, this was a declaration of Finnish independence. Before, Finland had been a protectorate of Russia meaning that it had its own parliament and government but these were totally subservient to Russia and all their decisions would have to be approved by Russia. The Power Act declared that Russia no longer had power over Finland and therefore would have made Finland independent.

The capitalist class of Finland instantly opposed this bill. The bill was passed because the socialists had a majority in the parliament but it was never implemented because of’obstructionism by the right-wing bourgeoisie.

“Bourgeois parties refused all struggles in favor of implementing the Power Act – and therefore also any struggles in favor of Finnish self-determination. Afraid of being left alone, without outside help to face the Finnish working class and rural poor the Finnish bourgeoisie threw themselves into the arms of the Russian Provisional Government and abandoned the Power Act, which represented the wishes of the Finnish people for independence and democracy, and which the parliament had accepted.”
(Hyvönen, pp.32-33)

The congress of the social-democratic party stated:
“Finnish social-democracy therefore demands… the independence of the Finnish people and state. The Finnish working class can only pursue unhindered class struggle inside a sovereign country.” (Hyvönen, p.33)

“Bolshevik representative Aleksandra Kollontai who was present at the congress stated:
“And we support the granting of independence to Finland, all the way to the right of secession from Russia.”

At that time the bolsheviks were not among the ruling parties in Russia. The bolsheviks could put forward their demands only in their own press and the congress of the soviets.” (Hyvönen, p.33)

“In Russia the bolshevik party was the only political grouping that supported the self-determination of Finland as well as other nationalities. Starting from the marxist principle of national self-determination and developing it to the policy of recognizing the independence of national states and applying it to practice Lenin and Stalin made it clear they defended Finland’s right to independence and opposed the imperialist policy of the Provisional Government as it opposed Finnish independence. The April conference of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks) accepted Lenin’s proposal regarding the National Question which states:

“The right of all the nations forming part of Russia freely to secede and form independent states must be recognised. To deny them this right, or to fail to take measures guaranteeing its practical realisation, is equivalent to supporting a policy of seizure or annexation. Only the recognition by the proletariat of the right of nations to secede can ensure complete solidarity among the workers of the various nations and help to bring the nations closer together on truly democratic lines.”” (Hyvönen, s.20) (7th bolshevik conference, Resolution on the National Question)

“The declaration also concretely put emphasis on the Finnish question in the following way:

“The conflict which has arisen at the present time between Finland and the Russian Provisional Government strikingly demonstrates that denial of the right to free secession leads to a direct continuation of the policy of tsarism.”” (Hyvönen, s.21) (Ibid.)

The Finnish Parliament Elections of 1917

The Russian Provisional government was not happy with the Socialists having a majority in the Finnish parliament and pushing for independence and therefore ordered new elections in October 1. 1917.

The Finnish capitalist class supported the Russian Provisional Government and opposed independence. Bolsheviks and Finnish Socialists supported independence

The Russian provisional government took upon itself the role of the inheritor and continuer of the Tsar-grand duke’s power. It was able to do this with the favorable help of the finnish bourgeoisie.” (Hyvönen, s.14)

The Finnish capitalists were not opposed to independence in principle but they still saw the Russian capitalist government as an ally just as they had seen the Tsarist government as an ally. They needed the oppressive state apparatus of Russia in order to keep the Finnish workers under control. The Finnish capitalists wanted to insure that none of the demands of the workers would be accepted. Demands like work safety regulations, the 8 hour work day, better pay, equal municipal elections, land reform and better rights for agricultural workers who were at the mercy of the aristocracy and lived in practical feudalism. For this reason the Finnish capitalists were willing to ally with Kerensky and the Russian government instead of supporting Finnish independence.

The Capitalists still wanted to increase their own power compared to Russia. They wanted Finland to keep its nominal autonomy and perhaps expand it. Finland as a Russian protectorate could decide some local questions via its own parliament and senate while Russia still controlled foreign policy, the military, economic policy, trade etc.

If Finland became truly independent the capitalists would have to face the Finnish workers and poor peasants on their own. This is something that they definitely did not want to happen.

One of the Finnish socialist leaders, Otto Wille Kuusinen elaborated the Finnish working class movement’s stance on independence in the following way:
“We cannot grant the Russian government the right to verify Finnish laws, because that way even the most vital reforms that have been decided by our parliament could simply be rejected in Petrograd, to the help and satisfaction of the reactionary bourgeoisie of Finland, as has happened many times before.
We cannot grant the Russian government the right to dissolve the Finnish parliament or decide the duration of the Diet. And it is not right that the Russian government could prevent the expansion of the rights of the Finnish parliament or the further democratization of our state which the interests of the working class demand.
The Russian Government does not have the right in any way to be considered the highest state authority of Finland, instead Finland has its own parliament, its own government, responsible to its parliament and people.
Therefore opposed to the demand of national subjugation put forth by the Russian bourgeosie, Finnish social-democracy puts forth the demand of the independence of the Finnish people. For only in a sovereign land can the Finnish working class without hindrance pursue its class struggle, protect its gains and successfully do its part in the movement for international emancipation of labor.

We want freedom, so that a road would be opened for the people to choose their own destiny and a freedom for the working class to engage in class struggle with a chance to achieve victories without interference from a foreign power.”” (Hyvönen, s.24)
“Kuusinen continued:

“The Finnish poor do not hate our brother nation Russia, it hates the agitators of national hatred. Finland’s rightful role is to be an independent republic, free next to a free Russia. In economic relations the Finnish people would not attempt to isolate themselves from Russia or to disrupt the interests of Russia. The economic relations of Finland with Russia as with all other countries should be organized based on voluntary agreement, no longer only based on the wishes of the Russian bourgeoisie with the force of subjugation. Otherwise the conflict between Finland and Russia will not end. And Finnish social-democracy wishes this conflict to end, and the formation of mutually beneficial relations for our peoples.” (Minutes of the 9. Congress of the Finnish Social-Democratic Party p.101)” (Hyvönen, s.25)

“The view advocated by Kuusinen represented that proletarian view which had matured during the fight for suffrage according to which the proletariat had to fight against the oppressors both at home and abroad and that those struggles supported one another, and that all questions including the status of the Finnish nation could only be solved through the demands necessitated by class struggle. Kuusinen’s proposal got the absolute majority in the party Congress. While the Congresses of the bourgeois parties refused to accept the demand for independence the Finnish working class made it their concrete goal. While the bourgeois parties strived for collaboration with the Russian Provisional Government and the capitalists in it, the independence struggle of the Finnish working class ended up being pushed closer to the Bolsheviks who advocated National Self-Determination.” (Hyvönen, s.25)

“Apart from the social-democrats few representatives of the Young Finnish Party and the Agrarian League also voted in favor of the Power Act. Therefore the passing of the Power Act meant that the most principled supporters of independence were brought closer together. However on the 31. of July the Provisional Government dissolved the Finnish Parliament and called for new elections as punishment for the passing of the Power Act, which would have meant complete independence for Finland in internal affairs. The dissolving of the parliament served to further alienate the social-democrats and bourgeois from each other in parliamentary politics.”
(Holodkovski s.35)

“After the Finnish Parliament was dissolved by the Provisional Government with the help of the bourgeois senators new elections were arranged for October 1. and 2. The bourgeois parties absolutely refused to join with the socialists in their attempt to defend Finnish sovereignty, to continue the work of the parliament that had illegally been dissolved and instead declared that this attempt [to protect the parliament] was illegal. The bourgeois instead put all their forces into the new elections. The social-democratic party decided to participate in the elections but at the same time explained that the new elections were illegitimate and defended the legitimacy of the dissolved parliament. The election struggle became fierce. Bourgeois parties allied with each other in a coalition “against the red danger”. The bourgeois coalition achieved 108 seats against the 92 working class representatives. This was despite the fact that the amount of votes for the social-democrats increased from 370,000 to 450,000. The votes for the bourgeois also increased and since they were now all in one coalition none of their votes were wasted as had happened previously.” (Hyvönen, s.49)

The last bourgeois plot against independence

“After the elections, before the meeting of the new government, the bourgeoisie still continued to negotiate with the Russian governor general who represented the already almost dead Provisional Government. As a result of these negotiations the governor general left for Petrograd to deliver a joint manifesto of the Finnish bourgeois parties that they wanted the Provisional Government to present at the meeting of the new Finnish government. In the manifesto the Provisional Government was supposed to “give up its power over the Finnish state with the exception that foreign affairs would still be handled through Russia like they have been up to now and that Finland will not make any changes to its military policy or laws relating to the Russian state or Russian citizens inside Finland without the consent of the Russian government” . . .

This example of bourgeois politics ended up not being implemented because the life of the Russian Provisional Government came to an end before the emissary of the Finnish bourgeosie arrived in Petrograd. A Soviet Government had emerged in Russia as a result of a working class revolution. This maneuver of the Finnish bourgeoisie meant denying that basic principle of the Power Act which had declared the Finnish parliament to be the highest legal authority in Finland. The bourgeosie wanted to create an executive power outside the authority of the parliament elected by the people. At the same time, with its own manifesto, it wanted to nullify the Power Act despite the fact that when passing the Power Act the Finnish parliament had precisely decided to refuse the Russian Government any right to verify or block Finnish laws. This was a matter concerning the highest legal authority of the country. The Finnish bourgeoisie wanted to change the form of government of Finland. From a legal standpoint this maneuver was a coup. The kind of change in form of government that was described in the bourgeos manifesto could of course only have been carried out by changing the constitution through a decision of the parliament. However in its current composition the parliament would never have accepted such a decision, afterall half of the seats belonged to the socialists.” (Hyvönen, s.52-53)

The bourgeoisie could not have achieved this plan legally or democratically. Hence they attempted to scheme together with the Russian Provisional Government. To insure that Finland does not become independent but retains its status as a protectorate of capitalist Russia and that the Russian capitalist state insures the rule of the Finnish capitalists over the Finnish workers.

“The Great October Revolution in Russia ruined the plans of the bourgeoisie. The attempt to create an executive power entirely separate from the parliement failed. A soviet government had been formed in Russia whose representatives would never have supported the Finnish bourgeoisie’s dictatorship.” (Hyvönen, s.56)


Why did the Finnish capitalists finally accept independence?

So why did the Finnish capitalists accept independence after resisting it for so long? They did so because after the October Revolution Russia was no longer their ally. Instead Russia was now the ally of the Finnish working class. And therefore the Finnish capitalists requested independence from Russia which the Bolsheviks granted. The Socialists who had always advocated independence also supported Finland’s secession from Russia. The only difference being that the Socialists still wanted to maintain friendly relations to Russia while the capitalists tightened their collaboration with Russia’s enemy, Germany.


Finland is granted independence by the Bolsheviks

“The other day representatives of Finland applied to us with a demand for immediate recognition of Finland’s complete independence and endorsement of its secession from Russia. The Council of People’s Commissars resolved to give its consent and to issue a decree, which has already been published in the newspapers, proclaiming Finland’s complete independence.

Here is the text of the decision of the Council of People’s Commissars:

“In response to the application of the Finnish Government for recognition of the independence of the Finnish Republic, the Council of People’s Commissars, in full conformity with the principle of the right of nations to self-determination, resolves to recommend to the Central Executive Committee: a) to recognize the state independence of the Finnish Republic, and b) to set up, in agreement with the Finnish Government, a special commission (composed of representatives of both sides) to elaborate the practical measures necessitated by the secession of Finland from Russia.”
Naturally, the Council of People’s Commissars could not act otherwise, for if a nation, through its representatives, demands recognition of its independence, a proletarian government, acting on the principle of granting the peoples the right to self-determination, must give its consent…

The Council of People’s Commissars may be abused, may be criticized, but no one can assert that it does not carry out its promises; for there is no force on earth that can compel the Council of People’s Commissars to break its promises. This we have demonstrated by the absolute impartiality with which we accepted the demand of the Finnish bourgeoisie that Finland be granted independence, and by proceeding at once to issue a decree proclaiming the independence of Finland.

May the independence of Finland help the emancipation of the Finnish workers and peasants and create a firm basis for friendship between our peoples.”

~STALIN (The Independence of Finland: Speech to the Russian Central Executive Committee Dec. 22, 1917)


Tuure Lehen, Punaisten ja Valkoisten Sota

Esa Koskinen, Veljiksi kaikki ihmiset tulkaa: Lohja 1917-18

Antti Hyvönen, Suurten tapahtumien vuodet 1917-18

Viktor Holodkovski, Suomen työväen vallankumous 1918

Antti Hyvönen, Suomen Kommunistinen Puolue 1918-24

Antti Hyvönen, Suomen vanhan työväenpuolueen historia

Otto Kuusinen, “The Finnish Revolution: A Self-Criticism”

Otto Kuusinen, Suomen Työväenliikkeen Opetuksia

Brief History of the October Revolution

The October Revolution is an extremely important event in world history. It was the first successful workers revolution. But how did it all happen? This is a brief overview of the complicated history of the October Revolution.

The Russian Empire was a totalitarian police state ruled by an absolute monarchy. The country was very backward economically and culturally. Average life expectancy in Russia was about 35 years. Only about 20% of the population knew how to read. The workers and peasants lived horrible lives, without the 8 hour working day, minimum wage laws or basic work safety regulations. There were many large strikes and protests but it was not uncommon that the police would shoot at the demonstrations and kill the strikers.

Despite how big the country was, there was a constant shortage of farm land and also constant famine. This is because most land belonged to the wealthy landlords and rich peasants. Because of technological backwardness, only the softest and most fertile soil could be used, this severely limited the amount of available farm land.
In 1898 the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party is created. Among its founders are people like Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov. This was a marxist party, that wanted to overthrow the monarchy and bring about socialism. However during the course of the struggle there is a lot of disagreement about when this goal is to be implemented and how. In 1903 there emerges a split in the party: two factions emerge: the Mensheviks led by Martov and the Bolsheviks led by Lenin.

During the years, although Lenin and many others first anticipated the two groups could merge again, the split ends up worsening and the two factions become separate parties: Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (Mensheviks) and Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks).

The main differences between the groups were the following:

1. The Bolsheviks wanted an organizationally united party of serious revolutionaries while the Mensheviks wanted a more loose reformist type party.

2. Both parties agreed that the next course of action was to overthrow the monarchy and carry out the so-called “bourgeois-democratic revolution”. This would make Russia a capitalist parliamentary democracy. However the Mensheviks argued that the class to lead the revolution was the bourgeoisie, the capitalist class. The bourgeois class served this function in the French Revolution. The Bolsheviks disagreed, they thought the capitalists couldn’t be trusted to carry out the democratic revolution, they were weaker then in France, they allied with the monarchy and feared the workers and peasants. In fact, the Bolshevik leader Lenin argued that the Russian proletariat was much stronger and more developed then the French proletariat of the late 1700s and therefore should lead the democratic revolution, and not merely support it.

3. Lastly, the Mensheviks didn’t think Russia was ready for Socialism, in their opinion the workers could never take power in Russia until after a long time of capitalist and parliamentary development. Even though the debate about workers revolution and socialism would only come about fully later, this attitude relates to the Menshevik position that the workers shouldn’t lead the democratic revolution, but only support the capitalist class against the monarchy.

In 1905 there is an attempt at the democratic revolution. There are massive protests all over the country, mutinies in the army and the people organize public meetings called “soviets” or councils, which would get together and discuss what to do. The revolution eventually fails. It won some democratic liberties from the Tsar, but those liberties would be constantly under attack by the monarchy afterwards. This revolution is seen as a dress-rehearsal for the later revolution.

In 1914 World War 1 begins, and launches Russia into chaos. The economy is ruined by the war, there is a shortage of food and large amounts of the population are drafted to fight in the war. The war is seen by many people, especially the socialist, as an unjust imperialist conquest, where millions of poor and working class people from different countries had to die for the profits and wealth of the capitalist and monarchist governments of their countries.

The attitude towards the war ends up splitting the international socialist movement. The so-called “2nd international working men’s association”. Many parties initially opposed the war, but then chose to support their own government in it, to protect their country from the other imperialist powers. Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg and other revolutionaries saw this as treachery. Surely, if everyone only supports their own imperialist government in an imperialist war, it doesn’t do anything to stop the war. They called for “turning the imperialist war to a class war”, friendship between the workers of the various countries, and unity against the capitalist governments of all warring countries. This led to the splitting of the international.

In February 1917 the Russian monarchy is overthrown. This leads to the creation of the Russian Provisional Government, consisting of the capitalist Cadet party, the Socialist-Revolutionary party or SR and the Mensheviks.

The Bolsheviks initially gave “conditional support” for the Provisional Government, meaning they supported it to the degree that it carried out the democratic reforms and other policies demanded by the population. However it soon became very evident the Provisional Government was a failure.

The Provisional government refused to carry out land-reform. It was necessary to prevent famine and reduce the land shortage, but it would have meant going against the power of the landlords.

The Provisional government also refused to impose stricter regulations on trading and the economy. This would have been necessary to prevent economic disaster, but it would have meant going against the capitalists who greatly profited from the war and the chaos.

Lastly, the Provisional government supported the war. They advocated a “war to a finish”, meaning until they won. It became evident that Russia was losing the war, however the Provisional government was still committed to fulfill the treaties and agreements with their allies in World War 1.

Clearly, supposed democratic government, with a quite a few self-proclaimed socialists in it should act in this way. The Bolsheviks were quick to point out that the Provisional government acts exactly like the Tsarist government, which also sided with the landlords, capitalists and started the imperialist war. The Provisional government was continuing Tsarist policy.

In April 1917, Vladimir Lenin returns to Russia from exile and puts forward his “april theses”, political proposals which call for the overthrow of the Provisional government.

The Bolsheviks put forward their slogans:

“Down with the provisional government”

“Down with the capitalist ministers”

“Factories for the workers, land to the peasants, end to the imperialist war,”

“Peace, Bread & Land”

In June the capital city, Petrograd (now called St. Petersburg) has municipal elections. Bolsheviks achieve a massive victory, growing from essentially nothing to one of the biggest parties. The so-called “defencist bloc” still gets the majority. This bloc consisted of the SR-party and mensheviks. Defencism, meant that they supported the war effort. Biggest loser of the election was the Cadet party, which achieved only 15% of the vote and lost its power as the biggest party.

On July 1
, Russia launches an offensive on the front, this is known as the “kerensky offensive” or the “July offensive.” The war was going badly and casualties were mounting for Russia, the blood-thirstyness of the imperialists and the Provisional government were very evident.

On July 3-4, there is a massive demonstration in Petrograd, of hundreds of thousands of people. Among the demonstrators are armed soldiers who have come from the front to demand change and revolution. The Bolsheviks urge caution and say that the demonstration should be peaceful and organized. They oppose bringing weapons to the demonstration and say that they are not yet strong enough for a revolution. The workers and soldiers decide to bring weapons despite the advice of the Bolsheviks but the Bolsheviks still take part in the demonstrations to lend support to the workers.

The workers and soldiers carry Bolshevik slogans “end the war”, “peace, bread and land”. There is a government crack down against the demonstrators. Machine guns shoot in the crowd, leaving countless dead. The Bolsheviks are now seen as a serious threat by the government. A warrant is issued for Lenin’s arrest, he is forced into hiding. Bolshevik newspaper Pravda is banned, their printing plant and party offices are destroyed. This period of reppression is known as the “July Days”. The Provisional government restores the death penalty on the front, against soldiers who disobey orders.

The Bolsheviks lose a lot of their forces, and many of their important resources. They begin publishing their newspapers under new names to avoid censorship. Despite all their difficulties the workers now support them more then ever, the Provisional government is exposed as a supporter of the capitalist elite and the imperialists. The Provisional government starts forming stronger ties with the old capitalist party, the Cadets to make up for the support they’ve lost from the workers.

In August, there is an attempted coup against the Provisional government, called the “Kornilov Affair”. Kornilov was a Whige Guard general in the Russian army, who wanted to institute military dictatorship and strong rule of law, to stop the chaos in Russia. In other words, complete counter-revolution, end to the demonstrations, end to democracy, end to the working class movement.

The railway workers strike and don’t transport his troops, and the workers and soldiers of Petrograd form armed Red Guard units and take up the defense of Petrograd against Kornilov. Kornilov’s coup ends in failure.
After the overthrow of the monarchy formation of soviets had begun again in all large cities, but for the time being their leadership would be predominantly menshevik.

In September the Bolsheviks gain the majority in the Petrograd Soviet and soon after in the soviets of Moscow and other large cities. The Soviets already carry out many important functions in the cities as the Russian government is incapable of doing so. The Soviets even organized the defense of Petrograd. As the economy is in ruins and the war effort is failing more people turn towards the Soviets.

The 6th Bolshevik party congress had agreed that they should carry out an armed revolution. In October the Petrograd Soviet creates a Military Revolutionary Committee. These special bodies are formed all over the country connected with each soviet in each city. The Menshevik and SR minorities in the soviets opposed revolution, but the SR party splits. The “left-SR” group sides with the Bolsheviks.

The Bolshevik soldiers organization takes over the garrison. On October 24 the Military Revolutionary Committee occupies the telegraph, the telephone and other important buildings. The cruiser Aurora, which is controlled by Bolshevik sailors, fires a shot to signal the beginning of the revolution. The workers and soldiers storm the winter palace. The same evening there is a congress of Soviets, where delegates arrive from all over the country. This congress elects the new Russian government, elected by the soviets of workers and soldiers, the Soviet Government. The October Revolution has taken power.

This would lead to a civil war where the Capitalists try to rescue their power. Where 14 capitalist governments including the USA, Great Britain, France, Japan, Poland and many others invaded Soviet Russia to destroy the Soviet government. But they failed, and the soviet union was created.

The significance of the October Revolution cannot be overstated. It showed that a revolution by the ordinary people is possible. It showed that capitalism in the end, is incapable of solving its internal contradictions. Despite getting moderate leftists into the government, the policy was as imperialist, profit driven and anti-popular as before. The moderate leftists didn’t improve capitalism, they were used by capitalism. Only revolution stopped Russia’s involvement in the World War, carried out land reform and dealt with the crisis of unregulated capitalism, and began the process of building a new economic model which would serve the needs and interests of the people, not profits.


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.”

“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.”

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:

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.”

“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.”

“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.”


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)



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.



Getty, Stalinist Terror

Kahn & Sayers, The Great Conspiracy

Nikolaus Basseches, Stalin quoted here:

Bruce Franklin (The Essential Stalin) available at:

Rosamond Richardson, Stalin’s Shadow

Albert Szymanski, Human Rights in the Soviet Union

Jerome Davis, Behind Soviet Power

Feliks Chuev, Molotov Remembers

Jansen & Petrov, Yezhov

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

Getty, Origins of the Great Purges

Edgar Snow, The Pattern of Soviet Power

Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror

Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia

Pavliukov, Aleksei. Ezhov. Biografiia

Tokaev, Comrade X

Feliks Chuyev, Thus Spake Kaganovich

Scott, John. Behind the Urals

Joseph Davies, Mission to Moscow

Genocide of Congo

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.

CIA & Suharto mass killing in Indonesia

The Haitian native population fell by 85%

Aztec & Inca population

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.”

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?


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?


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 )


Joseph E. Davies, Mission To Moscow

Statements of D.N. Pritt & Pat Sloan in The Moscow Trial Was Fair

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

Available at

Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937, p. 121-122

Bukharin was not tortured:
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

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

New Evidence Concerning the “Hotel Bristol” Question in the First Moscow Trial of 1936

Gorbachev 1989 Rehabiliation document:
“O Tak Nazyvaemom ‘Antisovetskom Ob” edinennom Trotskistsko-Zinov’evskom Tsentre.”
quoted in

Gorbachev about his anti-communism:

Edvard Radzinsky, Stalin

Carleton Beals’s statement available here:

The Moscow Trials (Part 1: THE INVESTIGATION)


The Soviet Union experienced a period of political turmoil at the end of the 1930s. This escalated in a series of trials known as the Moscow Trials. Nowadays the Trials are often characterized as fraudulent, that the accused were innocent of all wrong doings and victims of frame-ups. What is the reality of the situation? Is there any validity to these claims?

In this article I will be discussing the events leading up to the Trials and the Moscow Trials themselves.


1927-1928 Party Debates & Factional Struggles

In the 10th Party Congress Lenin had proposed a ban on factional groupings inside the party as they went against the organizing principles of Bolshevism, Democratic Centralism. Democratic Centralism means that in any given topic everyone has freedom of speech to express their opinion, but once a decision is reached everyone must uphold the rule of the majority. If after having lost the debate on a given issue a factional grouping still continued to insist on their own policy despite the party majority deciding against it they would probably be expelled from the party. Either accept the Party’s principles or be expelled.

“In the practical struggle against factionalism, every organisation of the Party must take strict measures to prevent all factional actions… ensure strict discipline within the Party and in all Soviet work and to secure the maximum unanimity in eliminating all factionalism…”
Lenin, “Summing-Up Speech On Party Unity And The Anarcho-Syndicalist Deviation”

Lenin’s ban on factions led to the suppression of various kinds of factional activities from the Syndicalists, Trotskyists and the Left-Communist Faction led by Bukharin and other groups. These groupings were forced to accept Democratic Centralism & party discipline if they wanted to stay in the party.

We move forward to 1927 when Stalin has out maneuvered his opponents. His policies are being accepted, he is recognized as the rightful leader of the party and the majority backs him. Trotsky’s Left Opposition has been ideologically defeated. Zinoviev & Kamenev who previously had been going back and forth about supportin Trotsky make an alliance of convenience with him and his supporters. This group becomes known as the United Opposition. An opposition grouping is tolerated within the party for a while but in October 1927 the United Opposition stages a demonstration separate from the rest of the Bolshevik Party, officially to commemorate the Revolution, but also to criticize the political line of the Party Majority and Central Committee led by Stalin. This is recognized as factionalism by the Party and many members of the United Opposition are forced to self-criticize or be expelled. Zinoviev & Kamenev capitulate and are allowed to stay. Trotsky refuses and is expelled. He is deported from the country a year later.

In exile Trotsky begins to write books and articles against the Soviet Union’s current leadership. He accuses the Soviet government of various wrongdoings and claims that he himself should have become the leader.

Trotskyist Conspiracy Illegal “Bolshevik-Leninist” underground inside the USSR (1932)

One fights repression by means of anonymity and conspiracy…”
letter from Trotsky to Sedov

The oppositionists led by Trotsky would eventually be accused of treason, espionage & running an illegal anti-soviet underground organization inside the USSR in the Moscow Trials. Trotsky denied all charges. Trotsky famously claimed all the accusations were merely inventions of Stalin. More of this later.

In 1980 the pre-eminent Trotskyist researcher Pierre Broué was granted access to the Harvard Trotsky archive. There he made a startling discovery: among other documents he found items of correspondence between Trotsky, his son Leon Sedov and Trotsky’s secretary Van Heijenoort. In this correspondence Broué found that Trotsky & his allies were discussing first the formation and then the running of a secret organization inside the Soviet Union.

This corraborated the Soviet accusations atleast to some degree. More shocking to a devoted Trotskyist like Broué was that Trotsky & Sedov had lied to all their supporters, indeed the entire world. The opposition Bloc of Trotskyists was entirely real – not a “Stalinist invention.”

It was then discovered that the Harvard Trotsky archive had been purged. Items had been removed. This was a closed archive meaning only certain Trotskyist researchers had been previously given access mainly Isaac Deutscher, a famous Trotskyist who wrote a massive biography on Trotsky’s life. Trotsky’s wife had also been given access. They form the most obvious candidates for the censoring of the archive of sensitive materials.

”…The proposal for a bloc seems to me to be completely acceptable.”
–letter from Trotsky to Sedov

The bloc is organised, it includes the Zinovievists, the Sten–Lominadze Group and the Trotskyists (former capitulators). The Safar–Tarkhan* Group have not yet formally entered they have too extreme a position; they will enter very soon…. [T]he I.N. Smirnov Group, Preobrazh. and Uf…”
letter from Sedov to Trotsky



As far as the illegal organisation of the Bolshevik-Leninists in the USSR is concerned, only the FIRST STEPS have been taken towards its re-organisation.”
letter from Trotsky (Dec. 16 1932) (emphasis added, Bolshevik-Leninist was a term Trotsky used for his supporters, Trotskyists—FB)

Broué‘s findings were published in his book, The “Bloc” of the Oppositions against Stalin in the USSR in 1932. Despite the fact that this was truly a bombshell revelation these findings were not given much attention, indeed many Trotskyists deny the existence of the Opposition Bloc to this day. Mainstream historians also largely continue to imply that the Bloc was Stalin’s invention and fabricated. The discovery did spark interest in the new school of Soviet Studies, among historians like J. Arch Getty who also visited the Trotsky archive and came to the conclusion that it had been censored.

But if the materials left in the archive proved at least part of the allegations at the Moscow Trial, then what about the missing materials? Trotsky, his Son & his secretary vehemently denied the existence of the Bloc claiming it to be a Stalinist lie. Trotsky’s secretary never mentioned it in his memoirs written well after Trotsky’s death. Same goes for Trotsky’s biggest advocate Isaac Deutscher who was allowed to go through the archive yet continued to insist there was no secret underground organization or Bloc.

This is what they said publicly:
“Of course the Russian Bolshevik-Leninists, didn’t enter into any kind of bloc.”
Sedov, The Red Book

While this was what they actually did secretly:

”…The proposal for a bloc seems to me to be completely acceptable.”
–letter from Trotsky to Sedov

”The bloc is organised…”
–letter from Sedov to Trotsky

Naturally when accused of a crime anyone will profess innocence regardless if they are actually innocent or guilty. All this demonstrates that Trotsky’s claims of innocence are worthless. Certainly he was running an illegal organization inside the USSR. As for the other charges, it will have to be determined based on evidence.

The indictment dates the conclusion of the bloc in 1932 as the starting point of the “terrorist activity” of the accused. From their side, Trotsky and Sedov denied that the bloc even existed.”
Pierre Broué (The “Bloc” of the Oppositions against Stalin in the USSR in 1932)

“It is clear, then, that Trotsky did have a clandestine organization inside the USSR in this period and that he maintained communication with it. It is equally clear that a united oppositional bloc was formed in 1932”
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:


This telegram didn’t reach the CEC before being intercepted by the NKVD which handed it to Stalin. Upon reading it he wrote on it the following words: “Ugly spy. Brazen spy of Hitler.” Stalin then not only signed his name under it but gave it to Molotov, Voroshilov, Mikoian, Zhdanov. After reading the telegram they signed their names in agreement with Stalin’s assessment.

If Stalin and his collaborators Molotov, Voroshilov etc. truly were framing Trotsky, then would they really call Trotsky a spy of Hitler even when no one else was present? This seems unlikely. The telegram was never made public, not to mention that Stalin’s and his associates comments on it were never made public. The obvious explanation is that they truly believed Trotsky was in league with Hitler.

The authenticity of the telegram has been verified. The question is what was Trotsky’s plan? It seems that he was preparing the stage for his return to power. Once the Soviet Union took heavy losses in a war with Germany, and the Trotskyist conspirators would cause pro-Trotsky rebellions among the troops, even having one of the five Soviet Marshalls and few generals on their side the ousted political Opposition consisting of Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Smirnov and others would take over. They would make a peace with the foreign powers granting them heavy concessions. Get rid of Stalin and his supporters, the so-called “bureaucracy” and implement what Trotsky considered “Soviet democracy”.

We also have for instance a written comment by Stalin criticizing the work of the NKVD upon reading the interrogation report for the accused Iakovlev’s wife Sokolovskaia.

According to the NKVD report Sokolovskaia wife to the interrogators:

“During the past five years Iakovlev has been undertaking active participation in the underground anti-Soviet organization that stood on Trotskyist positions.”

To which Stalin remarked:

“…What’s important is not Iakovlev’s and Sokolovskaia’s past activity but their sabotage and espionage work during the past year and the recent months of 1937. We also need to know why both of these scoundrels were going abroad almost every year. –J. Stalin.” (Lubianka)

Once again, if Stalin & the NKVD were framing Iakovlev and Sokolovskaia, if they knew the accused were really innocent but being framed, would they behave like this? Stalin sounds genuinely interested about the activities of the accused. Not to mention that this comment by Stalin was never made public either, he was not acting for an audience.

A further document of Stalin’s comments to the NKVD regarding Iakovlev contained the following handwritten points by Stalin:

“1) Did he know about Vareikis’ service with the Tsarist secret police?

2) His opinion about Mikhailov from Voronezh and his participation in the C.R. Org.

3) His contact with Trotsky (did he see him personally in 1935 or in 1934).

4) How did he want to use MOPR? Whom in MOPR did he make use of?

5) “Turn” Iakovlev’s wife: he is a conspirator and she must tell us everything. Ask her about Stasova, Kirsanova, and other friends – acquaintances of hers.” (Lubianka B 396)

-C. R. org. = short for Counter-revolutionary organization
-MOPR = International Organization for Aid to Revolutionaries. Soviet organization to aid Communists in other countries.

Obviously Stalin believed the confession of Iakovlev was real and not framed. There would be no sense to behave like this if Stalin & the NKVD had framed Iakovlev together.

Sokolnikov’s and Iakovlev’s wives both confessed to crimes and were found guilty. According to Dimitrov’s diary Stalin had told him: “We shall probably arrest Stasova, too. Turned out she’s scum. Kirsanova is very closely involved with Yakovlev. She’s scum.”

However neither Stasova or Kirsanova were found guilty of crimes despite Stalin’s suspicions against them because they were friends with the accused. This tells us a couple of things:

1) That the investigation didn’t simply frame anyone Stalin personally didn’t like or thought suspicious, they actually looked at the evidence and let these people go even though Stalin personally thought they were suspicious.

2) That Stalin obviously didn’t frame the accused. He believed Iakovlev, Sokolnikov and their wives guilty of conspiracy. He also suspected Kirsanova & Stasova but the evidence didn’t bear that out in the cases of the latter two.


Trotsky & the Secession of Ukraine

Immediately prior to the Nazi invasion of Poland Trotsky began arguing in favor of Ukrainian secession from the USSR & rebellion against the Soviet Union.

To the totalitarian bureaucracy, Soviet Ukraine became an administrative division of an economic unit and a military base of the USSR… Kremlin’s attitude today is the same as it is toward all oppressed nationalities, all colonies, and semi-colonies, i.e., small change in its international combinations with imperialist governments… Not a trace remains of the former confidence and sympathy of the Western Ukrainian masses for the Kremlin… Only hopeless pacifist blockheads are capable of thinking that the emancipation and unification of the Ukraine can be achieved by peaceful diplomatic means… Since the latest murderous “purge” in the Ukraine… In my opinion there can be at the present time only one … slogan: A united, free and independent workers’ and peasants’ Soviet Ukraine…”
Trotsky, Problem of the Ukraine

Trotsky called for a united soviet Ukraine but realistically all Communist forces in Ukraine supported Stalin while the opponents of Stalin were bourgeois nationalists and fascists. What kind of sense does it make to call for Ukraine to leave the USSR as Hitler was approaching it’s Western border? It would weaken the Soviet Union and hand Ukraine over to Hitler.

In his confession in 1936 Tukhachevsky tesfied:

“During the winter of 1935/1936, Pyatakov told me that Trotsky had now asked us to ensure the defeat of the USSR in war, even if this meant giving the Ukraine to the Germans and the Primor’ye to the Japanese. In order to prepare the USSR’s defeat, all forces, both within the USSR and outside the USSR would have to be made ready…”

Bukharin confirmed this:

“In the summer of 1934 Radek told me that directions had been received from Trotsky… that Trotsky had already promised the Germans a number of territorial concessions, including the Ukraine …. I objected to this… I considered it essential that he, Radek, should write and tell Trotsky that he was going too far… this point of view of Trotsky’s was politically and tactically inexpedient.”
–Bukharin (“Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet “Block of Rights and Trotskyites”)

In his testimony Pyatakov, another member of the Right-Opposition said:

Pyatakov: First, the German fascists promise to adopt a favourable attitude towards the Trotskyite-Zinovievite bloc and to support it if it comes to power, either in time of war, or before a war, should it succeed in doing so. But in return the fascists are to receive the following compensation: a general favourable attitude towards German interest and towards the German government on all questions of international policy; certain territorial concessions would have to be made, and these territorial concessions have been defined – in particular, mention was made of territorial concessions in a veiled form which were called “not resisting Ukrainian national-bourgeois forces in the event of their self-determination.”

Vyshinsky: What does that mean?

Pyatakov: It means in a veiled form what Radek spoke about here: should the Germans set up their Ukrainian government, ruling the Ukraine not through their German Governor-General but perhaps through a hetman – at any rate, should the Germans “self-determine” the Ukraine – the Trotskyist-Zinovievite bloc will not oppose it.”

This truly is what would most likely have happened. If Ukraine’s nationalist forces had seceded, Ukraine would have became an ally or an outright puppet regime of Nazi Germany. The notion that this kind of Ukraine would be a ‘free Soviet Ukraine’ is utterly laughable.

Trotskyists pointed out that there existed “Partisan” anti-Stalin groups in Ukraine. These groups in fact were of course Hitlerite Nationalists, not leftists. The Fourth international actually supported the OUN, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists which fought on the side of Hitler against the USSR. They used Trotsky’s writings to provide ideological justifications for this. They claimed that since the OUN had split between two factions, the Right-wing led by Stepan Banderra and the supposed “Left-Wing” led by Melnyk they were justified in defending the supposedly leftist Melnyk faction. In reality both the Banderist and Melnykist factions continued to collaborate with Hitler though had rivalries among each other. Melnyk was by no means a leftist, having fough against the Soviet Revolutionaries already in the civil and the Soviet Ukrainian war.

A Trotskyist publication, (Revolutionary History) states the following:

“To mention the Ukrainian question is commonly met with the raising of spectres of ‘Ukrainian Bourgeois Nationalism’ and ‘Nazi collaborators’. Sadly, such prejudices run deep, and have a tradition within Marxism as far back as Engels and Luxemburg. With the rise of Stalinism things have worsened to such a scale that it is at times difficult to get a rational and thoughtful discussion on the subject.

The Ukrainian question, to quote Trotsky, is being placed on the “order of the day and this time with redoubled force””

Apparently ‘Stalinism’ has caused leftists to be suspicious when giving lip-service to Nazi collaborators.

The Trotskyists continue:

“In the split that occurred between the left and right of OUN in 1940… the left… moved steadily to take on Socialist politics injected into it by the working class”

They even go so far as to defend the UPA , the military wing of the Nazi-collaborating Melnyk faction of the OUN which carried out a policy of ethnic cleansing against poles, jews and other minorities:

“[T]he UPA is accused of being “Fascistic” for the reason that during the war it waged an armed struggle against… Russian Stalinism. The UPA remains one of the most unknown revolutionary movements in Soviet history, deliberately portrayed by the Stalinists as collaborators…”

To these Trotskyists the UPA is a legitimate “revolutionary” movement who are apparently only seen as Fascistic because of alleged Stalinist propaganda! This is truly cringeworthy reading in the context of the recent Ukrainian fascist coup. These are UPA supporters. They are Nazis. The Ukrainian militant Neo-Nazi group Pravi-sector (right sector) has even adopted the UPA flag as their official flag.

This is the result of Trotsky’s writings, which state that anyone who opposes the Soviet Union with even the slightest quasi-leftist or quasi-revolutionary rhetoric is legitimate and worthy of support from the Trotskyists!

Trotsky consistently used propaganda which equated Stalin with Hitler or worse then Hitler, blaming Soviet Communism for Hitler and legitimizing opponents of the Soviet Union who in the case of Ukraine would be OUN fascists.

In his article on Ukraine he employed an interesting propaganda tactic, at first he seems to criticize Hitler but in fact he is only criticizing Stalin. Putting all blame on Stalin & saying that Hitler is only a response to Soviet crimes:

“…but for the rape of Soviet Ukraine by the Stalinist bureaucracy there would be no Hitlerite Ukrainian policy.” Trotsky, “Problem of the Ukraine”

It is not at all surprising that Trotsky would make criticisms of Nazism even as he was helping Hitler. He was entirely willing to lie and do what ever it took to achieve his aims. More over in their substance his policies were not anti-Hitler but anti-Soviet & pro-Hitler. Of course Trotsky had no personal love Hitler, not did Hitler like the jew Trotsky. But they were useful for each other as they shared a common enemy.

Analysis of Trotsky’s Political Propaganda

“Adolf Hitler read Trotsky’s autobiography as soon as it was published. Hitler’s biographer, Konrad Heiden, tells in ‘Der Fuehrer’ how the Nazi leader surprised a circle of his friends in 1930 by bursting into rapturous praise of Trotsky’s book’… ‘Brilliant!’ cried Hitler, waving Trotsky’s ‘My Life’ at his followers. I have learned a great deal and so can you!'”
(Kahn and Sayers, The Great Conspiracy Against Russia)

Trotsky’s open political propaganda was naturally different from his clandestine conspiratorial activity. However both were meant to serve the same end: topple the Soviet government led by Stalin.

Tacit support for Fascism

Anything Trotsky said openly has to be looked at with skepticism as he was a proven liar but we can learn some things from his statements. For instance when he made weak criticisms of Nazism it is obvious he was not being honest, as he was collaborating with fascists himself. Still he was not a fascist, and in fact disliked fascism but still saw it as a convenient ally against the bigger enemy – Stalin’s government. For this reason even as he criticized fascism he emphasized how the Soviet Union was essentially as bad or even worse then fascism and tried to put the blame for fascist crimes on the Soviet Union. This would also help him seem like a genuine anti-fascist and not a collaborator even though he was one. What better plan to remove suspicion from himself then to accuse everyone else and claim to be the biggest anti-fascist of all.

“(I)n the last period the Soviet bureaucracy has familiarized itself with many traits of victorious fascism”
Trotsky, “On the Eve of the Congress”

“(T)he Cominterm bureaucracy, together with social-democracy, is doing everything it possibly can to transform Europe, in fact the entire world, into a fascist concentration camp.”
–Leon Trotsky, Que signifie la capitulation de Rakovsky? (31 March 1934). La lutte, pp. 59-60.

Obviously this statement is baseless as the USSR was the biggest enemy of Fascism, fighting against Fascist Franco in 1936, Japan in 1938 & 1939 and in WWII and obviously it was Stalin’s USSR that defeated Hitler’s armies. Interestingly Trotsky here attacks Social-democracy while he would later attack Stalin for not supporting Social-democracy enough.

“Hitler’s victory … (arose) … by the despicable and criminal policy of the Cominterm.“No Stalin – no victory for Hitler.” … Stalinist Comintern, as well as the Stalinist diplomacy, assisted Hitler into the saddle from either side… the Cominterm provided one of the most important conditions for the victory of fascism… to overthrow Hitler it is necessary to finish with the Cominterm… Workers, learn to despise this bureaucratic rabble!” Trotsky, “Are There Limits to the Fall?”

Here Trotsky is demanding the destruction of the Communist International but disguises this as a leftist position. He says to overthrow Hitler he must destroy the Comintern. This is a ridiculous statement as in reality to destroy the Comintern was to aid and unite with Hitler and his Anti-Comintern. Trotsky of course knew this. These writings by him were merely a tactic to fool his supporters who would have never done so otherwise, into opposing Soviet socialism and aiding Hitler.


Tacit support for terrorism

When it comes to Trotsky’s statements surrounding the Kirov murder we can notice a few basic components:

Trotsky essentially said Kirov got what he deserved. He briefly stated he was opposed to terrorism but obviously didn’t condemn this murder in any strong words, quite the opposite he voiced tacit support for it.

“(A) terrorist act prepared beforehand and committed by order of a definite organization is … inconceivable unless there exists a political atmosphere favorable to it. The hostility to the leaders in power must have been widespread and must have assumed the sharpest forms for a terrorist group to crystallize out within the ranks of the party youth …. If … discontent is spreading within the masses of the people … which isolated the bureaucracy as a whole; if the youth itself feels that it is spurned, oppressed and deprived of the chance for independent development, the atmosphere for terroristic groupings is created.” Trotsky, “On the Kirov Assassination”

Trotsky said in no uncertain terms that the Soviet government Kirov was serving was so oppressive it spawned resistance from the workers. He continued to insist that the murder was carried out by worker Oppositionists whom Trotsky consirered legitimate. This is interesting as he would later after his plot failed, and his organization was crushed, accuse Stalin of orchestrating the murder himself.

“The reactionary bureaucracy must be and will be overthrown. The political revolution in the USSR is inevitable.”
Trotsky, Le gouvernement soviétique applique-t-il toujours les principes définis il y a vingt ans? (13 Jan. 1938). La lutte, pp. 159-160.

One might ask how this statement is to be interpreted in context with assassinations. According to Trotsky Kirov was a Stalinist bureaucrat, who even deserved to be killed.

“The insane atrocities provoked by the bureaucratic collectivization methods, or the cowardly reprisals against the best elements of the proletarian vanguard, have inevitably provoked exasperation, hatred and a spirit of vengeance. This atmosphere generates a readiness among the youth to commit individual acts of terror ….” Trotsky, Ibid

This kind of vitriol against the USSR seems hardly any strong condemnation of the terrorists, quite the opposite he makes every excuse for the terrorists and is very understanding towards their plight under Soviet rule! Trotsky says in no uncertain terms he saw the attack as a form of resistance by the oppressed citizens. Indeed, by a resistance group. The thing he didn’t say of course is that he was leading said group.

Overt support for the overthrow of the Soviet Union:

“The proletariat that made three revolutions will lift up its head one more time. The bureaucratic absurdity will try to resist? The proletariat will find a big enough broom. And we will help it.”
Leon Trotsky, Pour sa propre sauvegarde, la bureaucratie entretient la terreur (26 September 1935). L’appareil policier du stalinisme (Paris: Union générale d’éditions, 1976), pp. 85-87.

Trotsky calls for an insurrection against the Soviet Union. But who were leading these insurrections? Kulaks, whites, bourgeois-nationalists & banderite Nazis. He is quite clear, this resistance work against the Soviet Union is to be continued & is to be organized inside the USSR!

“I cannot be ‘for the USSR’ in general. I am for the working masses who created the USSR and against the bureaucracy which has usurped the gains of the revolution … It remains the duty of a serious revolutionary to state quite frankly and openly: Stalin is preparing the defeat of the USSR.”
Trotsky, A Political Dialogue, pp. 156, 158.

Here Trotsky chooses a softer tone. He claims to be helping the Soviet Union, and that it is not him who is sabotaging it’s defenses in favor of Fascism but Stalin.

“Only the overthrow of the Bonapartist Kremlin clique can make possible the regeneration of the military strength of the USSR …. The struggle against war, imperialism, and fascism demands a ruthless struggle against Stalinism, splotched with crimes. Whoever defends Stalinism directly or indirectly, whoever keeps silent about its betrayals or exaggerates its military strength is the worst enemy of the revolution, or socialism, of the oppressed peoples.”
Trotsky, A Fresh Lesson: After the “Imperialist Peace” at Munich (10 Oct. 1938). Writings, vol.11, p. 68.

Whoever supports the Soviet government or the Communist international is according to Trotsky the worst enemy of socialism. So Hitler in fact is better, as he doesn’t support either of those things. Trotsky embraces the company of Hitler.

“I consider the main source of danger to the USSR in the present international situation to be Stalin and the oligarchy headed by him. An open struggle against them … is inseparably connected for me with the defense of the USSR.” 
Trotsky, Stalin After the Finnish Experience (13 March 1940). Writings, vol. 12, p. 160.

Apparently in Trotsky’s mind an open struggle against the Soviet government would strenghten it’s defenses! Obviously the main danger to the USSR was a foreign invasion, invasion which Trotsky was in fact supporting and even counting on. More of this later.

Trotsky, Japan & China

“VYSHINSKY: What did you and Trotsky say about your underground Trotskyite tasks?

BESSONOV: He imposed on his followers working in the diplomatic field the task of adopting the line of sabotaging official agreements in order to stimulate the interest of the Germans in unofficial agreements with opposition groups. “They will come to us yet,” said Trotsky, referring to Hess and Rosenberg. He said that we must not be squeamish in this matter, and that we might be ensured real and important help from Hess and Rosenberg. He said we must not stop short at consenting to big cessions of territory.

Radek: As regards Japan, we were told she must not only be given Sakhalin oil but be guaranteed oil in the event of a war with the U.S.A. It was stated that no obstacles must be raised to the conquest of China by Japanese imperialism.”

In their testimony some defendants explained that on top of promising territorial concessions (mainly in Ukraine) to Germany, Trotsky was also promising concessions to Japan. Access to natural resources, favorable trade and perhaps most importantly of all Trotsky would guarantee Japan freedom of activity in China and sabotage the Pro-Stalin Communist forces there.

On Trotskyist sabotage activity in China Mao Tse-Tung wrote:

“In the central districts of Hebei the Trotskyists organised a ‘Partisan-Company’ on the direct instructions of the Japanese headquarters and called it a ‘Second Section of the Eighth Army’. In March the two battalions of this company organised a mutiny but these bandits were surrounded by the Eighth Army and disarmed. In the Border Region such people are arrested by the peasant self-defence units which carry out a bitter struggle against traitors and spies.

Trotskyist agents are being sent to the Border Regions where they systematically apply all methods in their sabotage work against the cooperation of the Kuomintang and the Communist Party.”
Mao Tse-Tung, “On the Use of Trotskyists as Japanese Spies in China” (1939)

Ho Chi Minh, also working with the Chinese Communist Party at the time wrote:

“In the past, in my eyes and those of a good number of comrades, Trotskyism seemed a matter of a struggle between tendencies within the Chinese Communist Party. That’s why we hardly paid it any attention. But a little before the outbreak of war, more exactly since the end of the year 1936 and notably during the war, the criminal propaganda of the Trotskyists opened our eyes.

The Chinese Trotskyists (like the Trotskyists of other countries) do not represent a political group, much less a political party. They are nothing but a band of evil-doers, the running dogs of Japanese fascism (and of international fascism)”
(“Three Letters from Ho Chi Minh”)


Trotsky, Spain & Italy

Trotsky is the whore of fascism.”
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.

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”




Lenin, Summing-Up Speech On Party Unity And The Anarcho-Syndicalist Deviation

Trotsky’s letters about the Bloc:
Library of Harvard College 13905c, 1010, 4782 quoted in Pierre Broué’s The “Bloc” of the Oppositions against Stalin. Available at

Sedov, The Red Book

Getty, Origins of the Great Purges: The Soviet Communist Party Reconsidered, 1933-1938

Getty on the Kirov Murder:
Arch Getty, the H-RUSSIA discussion list August 24, 2000.
quoted here

Alexander Zinoviev, The remorse of a dissident quoted here:

Jules Humbert-Droz’s statement:

De Lénin à Staline, Dix Ans Au Service de L’ Internationale Communiste 1921-31’
available at

Tokaev, Comrade X. Publisher, Harvill Press, 1956 (page 43)

Ibid. (page 68)

Tokaev, Grigori.
Betrayal of an Ideal, Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1955

Letter from Marshall Budyanni to Commissar for Defense Kliment Voroshilov (June 26, 1937)

Colonel Alksnis interviews:
Elementy, 2000 & Bobrov, Vladimir L’vovich Transcript of a recorded conversation with Deputy V.I. Alksnis quoted here

Molotov Remembers quoted here:

Trotsky, Problem of the Ukraine

Trotsky, On the Eve of the Congress

Trotsky, On the Kirov Assassination

Trotsky, Are There Limits to the Fall?

Trotsky, Pour sa propre sauvegarde, la bureaucratie entretient la terreur (26 September 1935). L’appareil policier du stalinisme (Paris: Union générale d’éditions, 1976), pp. 85-87.

Trotsky, 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:

Geoffrey Bailey, The Conspirators (page 215)

Yuri Yemelianov, The Tukhachevsky Conspiracy

Hitler read Trotsky’s Autobiography:

Konrad Heiden, Der Fuehrer: Hitler’s rise to power (page 318)

Anna Strong, The Soviets Expected It. New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 134 available here

Alexander Werth, quoted in Harpal Brar, Perestroika: The Complete Collapse of Revisionism (1992) p. 161 here:

Also here:

Full book in Russian here:

Vlasov and Vlasovites. New Times 44 (1990), pp. 36—40. “Why I embarked on the road of struggle against Bolshevism” available here:

Frederick Ludwig Carsten, “New Evidence against Marshal Tukhachevskii” in ‘New Light On Old Stories About Marshal Tukhachevskii : Some Documents Reconsidered’

Georgi Dimitrov’s diary quoted here:

Trotsky’s telegram from Volkogonov Archive:

NKVD report about the interrogation of Iakovlev’s wife

Stalin’s comments to the NKVD report

Stalin’s further comments to the NKVD

M. Sayers, A. E. Kahn, The Great Conspiracy. The Secret War Against Soviet Russia

The Gramsci quote is from Togliatti, Palmiro, Selected Articles and Speeches. Vol. 1. Moscow: 1965.

“LEON TROTSKY IN ITALY” in The Cornell Daily Sun, December 1932——–20–1———

Krupskaya, “Why Is the Second International Defending Trotsky?” (1936)

Mao Tse-Tung, “On the Use of Trotskyists as Japanese Spies in China” (1939)

Ho Chi Mihn,”Three Letters from Ho Chi Mihn” (1939)

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

english translation & original finnish the quote available at:

Edward Hallett Carr.  Foundations of a Planned Economy, 1926–1929, Volume 2 (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1971), Ibid. , p. 65 quoted in Ludo Martens, Another View of Stalin

Available here

John D. Littlepage, In Search Of Soviet Gold (1937)

John Scott, Behind the Urals: An American Worker in Russia’s City of Steel (pp. 188-189)


Stalin & myth of the “old Bolsheviks”

Revolutionary leaders on Trotsky & Trotskyism

More about Alexander Zinoviev

More about engineer Littlepage’s experiences

Trotsky, Orwell & the FBI

Orwell, friend of POUM, snitch of Western intelligence services

Lies concerning the history of the Soviet Union – From Hitler to Hearst, from Conquest to Solzhenitsyn



Some critical remarks on the Soviet election system & democracy


To repeat the successes and not the mistakes of the past, it is important to understand that past. For this reason I think studying the economic & state systems of previous socialist experiments is highly important.

That said, I am by no means an expert on the Soviet System. Therefore I will only make some remarks on their system instead of attempting to make a thorough critique.

Elections under Lenin

The Lenin era democratic system was based on the All-Russian Congress of Soviets. Local soviets (worker councils) would send delegates to a Congress which created laws & decided policy. While the congress was not in session a Central Executive Committee (VTsIK) ran the government.

Elections under Stalin

The Stalin era democratic system replaced the Congress of Soviets with the Supreme Soviet which held elections every 4 years. The local Soviets decided only local issues while people could be elected to the Supreme Soviet directly instead of being sent as delegates.

Problems & Positive Features:

Without going into too much detail the Stalin era system was much more developed then the Lenin era system and all around can be called more democratic. However I think it was still flawed.

The Stalin era system actually copies the Western parliamentary system to a notable degree with its parliament (Supreme Soviet) & local organs (worker councils) but makes it more democratic in many ways while also limiting the rights of bourgeois forces.

1. Role of the Local Soviets

I think limiting the Soviets to deciding only local issues was a mistake. Having them send delegates to the parliament would have kept a stronger bond between work places and democracy & it would have better facilitated worker control on all levels of society. It would have kept the delegates more accountable also.

2. Selecting candidates

The Stalin era system of picking candidates for elections had positive elements. Having communist party chapters, komsomol, army units, women & student groups and co-operatives pick candidates; in short selecting candidates collectively was a good idea. It is more democratic, makes it more difficult for right-wingers & corrupt careerists with no social base to run.

3. Wages

Lenin states in The State and Revolution:

“Marx, referring to the example of the Commune, showed that under socialism functionaries will cease to be “bureaucrats”, to be “officials”, they will cease to be so in proportion as—in addition to the principle of election of officials—the principle of recall at any time is also introduced, as salaries are reduced to the level of the wages of the average workman…”

Needless to say this was not done in the Soviet Union. An official could earn 1000 rubles or if they held multiple positions which was possible they could earn more, while the lowest collective farmer or manual laborer could earn as little as 300-400 rubles per month. It is important to note that a skilled expert, manager or scientist could earn the same as a politician. Many of these inequalities were simply inherited from the previous capitalist system.

Why was this inequality not done away with? Lenin answers in the same work:

“Abolishing the bureaucracy at once, everywhere and completely, is out of the question. It is a utopia. But to smash the old bureaucratic machine at once and to begin immediately to construct a new one that will make possible the gradual abolition of all bureaucracy­­, this is not a utopia, it is the experience of the Commune, the direct and immediate task of the revolutionary proletariat.”

The elimination of the old state machine, all its remnants cannot be done over night. Secondly when writing his work Lenin was talking about revolution and socialism in an industrial country. Naturally in a backward country the elimination of the old bureaucracy would have to be even more gradual. As only 20% of the country was literate when the Bolsheviks took power, it was simply impossible for ‘all to govern in turn’ while such conditions existed. It was impossible to elect all officials. A transition, a raising of the cultural level had to take place.

I’m perfectly aware of the difficulties the Soviet government faced, but in my opinion the relative inequality in wages (though incredibly small in comparison with capitalist nations) was a problem. Economic incentives for individuals in production (as long as restricted & regulated) are not a problem, but privileges for political elites are. The principle of electing all or almost all officials could have been implemented after the old bourgeois experts & managers had been completely removed (i.e. in the late 30s, 40s or 50s).

The reason why such democratic reform did not take place was the struggle between two tendencies in the party: the Proletarian line of Stalin (which in the 1950s was in the minority) & the right-wing bourgeois line of the Revisionists, supported by centrists and bureaucrats (which managed to take power).

4. Contested Elections

The Soviet Union banned the opposition parties for violently opposing the Bolshevik Revolution or supporting the White Army etc. etc. etc. and never allowed opposition parties after that point. In the mid-1930s Stalin argued for contested elections. However this proposal was not accepted in the end.

Liberal critics claimed that Stalin’s move was merely a propaganda stunt, as he knew the Communist Party would win and therefore was willing to grant legal status to a powerless & marginal opposition that had no chance to take power. This is rather ironic considering that is precisely how most Western capitalist countries deal with their oppositions. The Communist Parties are tolerated in the West, as long as they don’t threaten Capitalism. If they begin to pose a threat Mccarthyism kicks in, or perhaps a military coup.

In any case, despite the Soviets not doing so, many other socialist countries (e.g. the GDR) had multiple parties. As far as I know there were no immediate negative consequences for this.

The question of allowing bourgeois opposition is a different one. My guess is that such opposition forces would immediately become puppets of foreign capitalist powers and should then be outlawed as organizations of foreign agents and traitors.

The context in which the Soviets banned the other parties was very specific, this cannot be over emphasized. First of all it was during a violent civil war and therefore more acceptable. Secondly, Russia (and other Eastern European countries) didn’t have a long history of parliamentary democracy to begin with. They were used to monarchy, despotism and right-wing dictatorship.

In our current context (long history of parliamentarism & time of peace), banning the opposition would be an entirely different matter. Venezuela has chosen not to do so even though their oppositionists are clearly paid by the USA.

The question of should we allow a left-opposition or a right-opposition is a difficult one but boils down to this: the Proletariat must be in charge, anti-proletarian forces cannot be allowed back in power. The vanguard status of the Communist Party is also of immense importance but this status has to be earned over and over again. Further more this vanguard status does not necessarily have to mean that the party holds monopoly control over the state.

The party is an ideological leader, but if the conditions are there, the people themselves should administrate the state as much as possible. All are in agreement about this. In Communism this should become the norm, but to reach this stage it should be facilitated already in the transitional period of Socialism.

stalin election1.jpg


State and Revolution

Stalin and the Struggle for Democratic Reform

Constitution (Fundamental law) of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

The Great Conspiracy: the secret war against soviet Russia (by Albert E. Kahn and Michael Sayers) PART IV

Book Four: From Munich to San Francisco

CHAPTER XXII – The Second World War

1. Munich

“Take me to the Duke of Hamilton,” said Hess, speaking in English. l have come to save humanity!”

Rudolph Hess, Adolf Hitler’s Deputy 

“The fateful decade 1931-1941,” the U. S. State Department declared in its official publication Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, “began and ended with acts of violence by Japan. It was marked by the ruthless development of a determined policy of world domination on the part of Japan, Germany and Italy.”

The Second World War began in 1931 with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on the pretext of saving Asia from Communism. Two years later, Hitler overthrew the German Republic on the pretext of saving Germany from Communism. In 1935 Italy invaded Ethiopia to save it from “Bolshevism and barbarism.” In 1936 Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland; Germany and Japan signed the Anti-Comintern Agreement; and German and Italian troops invaded Spain on the pretext of saving it from Communism.

In 1937 Italy joined Germany and Japan in their Anti-Comintern Agreement; Japan struck again in China, seizing Peiping, Tientsin and Shanghai. The following year, Germany seized Austria. The Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis was formed “to save the world from Communism.”.

Addressing the Assembly of the League of Nations in September 1937, the Soviet Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov said: –

We know three states which in recent years have made attacks on other states. With all the difference between the regimes, ideologies, material and cultural levels of the objects of attack, all three states justify their aggression by one and the same motive – the struggle against Communism. The rulers of these states naively think, or rather pretend to think, that it is sufficient for them to utter the words “anti-Communism,” and all their international felonies and crimes will be forgiven them!

Under the mask of the Anti-Comintern Agreement, Germany, Japan and Italy were marching towards the conquest and enslavement of Europe and Asia.

Two possible courses faced the world: unity of all nations opposed to the Nazi, Fascist and Japanese aggression and the halting of the Axis war menace before it was too late; or disunity, the piecemeal surrender to aggression, and inevitable Fascist victory. The Axis Propaganda Ministries, the agents of Leon Trotsky, French, British and American reactionaries all combined in the international Fascist campaign against collective security. The possibility of unity against aggression was attacked as “Communist propaganda”; dismissed as a “utopian dream”; assailed as an “incitement to war.” In its place was offered the policy of Appeasement, the scheme of turning the inevitable war into a united onslaught against Soviet Russia. Nazi Germany made the most of this policy.

The British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, the hero of appeasement, said collective security would divide Europe into “two armed camps.”

The Nazi newspaper Nachtausgabe declared in February 1938: –

We know now that the English Premier, like ourselves, regards Collective Security as nothing but nonsense.

Speaking in Manchester on May 10, 1938, Winston Churchill replied: –

We are told that we must not divide Europe into two armed camps. Is there then to be only one armed camp? – the Dictators’ armed camp and a rabble of outlying peoples, wandering around its outskirts, wondering which of them is going to be taken first and whether they are going to be subjugated or merely exploited?

Churchill was called a “war-monger.”…

In September 1938, the policy of Appeasement reached its culmination. The Governments of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Great Britain and France signed the Munich Pact – the anti-Soviet Holy Alliance of which world reaction had been dreaming since 1918.

The Pact left Soviet Russia without allies. The Franco-Soviet Treaty, cornerstone of European collective security, was dead. The Czech Sudetenland became part of Nazi Germany. The gates of the East were wide-open for the Wehrmacht.(1)

“The Munich Agreement,” wrote Walter Duranty in The Kremlin and the People, “seemed to mark the greatest humiliation which the Soviet Union had suffered since the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.”

The world awaited the Nazi-Soviet war.

Returning to England, waving a scrap of paper in his hand, with Hitler’s signature on it, Neville Chamberlain cried: –

“It means peace in our time!”

Twenty years before, the British spy Captain Sidney George Reilly had cried: “At any price this foul obscenity which has been born in Russia must be crushed… Peace with Germany! Yes, peace with anybody!… Peace, peace on any terms – and then a united front against the true enemies of mankind!”

On June 11, 1938, Sir Arnold Wilson, Chamberlain’s supporter in the House of Commons, declared: –

Unity is essential and the real danger to the world today does not come from Germany or Italy… but from Russia.

But the first victims of the anti-Soviet Munich Pact were not the Soviet peoples. The first victims were the democratic peoples of Europe. Once again, the anti-Soviet facade covered a betrayal of democracy.

In February 1939, the British and French Governments recognized the Fascist dictatorship of Generalissimo Franco as the legitimate government of Spain. In the last days of March, after two and a half years of epic, agonizing struggle against overwhelming odds, Republican Spain became a Fascist province.

On March 15, Czechoslovakia ceased to be an independent state. Nazi Panzer divisions rumbled into Prague. The Skoda munitions works and twenty-three other arms factories, comprising an armaments industry three times as great as that of Fascist Italy, became Hitler’s property. The pro-Fascist General Jan Sirovy, one-time leader of the Czech interventionist armies in Soviet Siberia, handed over to the German High Command the arsenals, storehouses, a thousand planes and all the first-rate military equipment of the Czechoslovakian Army.

On March 20, Lithuania surrendered its only port, Memel, to Germany.

On Good Friday morning, April 7, Mussolini crossed the Adriatic and invaded Albania. Five days later, King Victor Emmanuel accepted the Albanian crown.

From Moscow, even as Hitler was moving into Czechoslovakia, Stalin warned the appeasement politicians of England and France that their anti-Soviet policy would end in a disaster for themselves. Stalin spoke in Moscow on March 10, 1939, before the Eighteenth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

The undeclared war, said Stalin, which the Axis powers were already waging in Europe and Asia, under the mask of the Anti-Comintern Pact, was directed not only against Soviet Russia but also, and now in fact primarily, against the interests of England, France and the United States.

“The war is being waged,” said Stalin, “by aggressor states, which in every way infringe upon the interests of the non-aggressive states, primarily England, France and the U.S.A., while the latter draw back and retreat, making concession after concession to the aggressors… without the least attempt at resistance and even with a certain amount of connivance. Incredible but true.”

The reactionary politicians in the Western democracies, particularly in England and France, said Stalin, had rejected the policy of collective security. Instead, they still dreamed of an anti-Soviet coalition camouflaged by diplomatic phrases like “appeasement” and “non-intervention.” But this policy, said Stalin, was already doomed. Stalin added: “… certain European and American politicians and newspaper writers, having lost patience waiting for `the march on the Soviet Ukraine,’ are themselves beginning to disclose what is really behind the policy of nonintervention. They are saying quite openly, putting it down in black and white, that the Germans have cruelly `disappointed’ them, for instead of marching farther east, against the Soviet Union, they have turned west, you see and are demanding colonies. One might think that the districts of Czechoslovakia were yielded to Germany as the price of an undertaking to launch war on the Soviet Union, and that now the Germans are refusing to meet their bills…

“Far be it from me,” said Stalin, “to moralize on the policy of non-intervention, to talk of treason, treachery and so on. It would be naive to preach morals to people who recognize no human morality. Politics is politics, as the old, case-hardened bourgeois diplomats say. It must be remarked, however, that the big and dangerous political game started by the supporters of the policy of non-intervention may end in a serious fiasco for them.”

The Soviet Union still wanted international co-operation against aggressors and a realistic policy of collective security; but, Stalin made clear, such co-operation must be genuine and wholehearted. The Red Army had no intention of becoming a cat’s-paw for the appeasement politicians of England and France. Finally, if the worst came, the Red Army was confident of its own strength and of the unity and loyalty of the Soviet people. As Stalin put it: –

“… in the case of war, the rear and front of our army… will be stronger than those of any other country, a fact which people beyond our border who love military conflicts would do well to remember.”

But Stalin’s blunt, significant warning was ignored.

In April 1939, a poll of British public opinion showed that 87 per cent of the English people were in favor of an Anglo-Soviet alliance against Nazi Germany. Churchill saw the Anglo-Soviet rapprochement as “a matter of life or death.” In a speech on May 27, Churchill sharply declared: –

If His Majesty’s government, having neglected our defenses, having thrown away Czechoslovakia with all that Czechoslovakia means in military power, having committed us to the defense of Poland and Roumania, now rejects and casts away the indispensable aid of Russia, and so leads in the worst of ways into the worst of wars, they will have ill deserved the generosity with which they have been treated by their fellow countrymen.

On July 29 David Lloyd George backed up Churchill’s pleas with these words: –

Mr. Chamberlain negotiated directly with Hitler. He went to Germany to see him. He and Lord Halifax made visits to Rome. They went to Rome, drank Mussolini’s health and told him what a fine fellow he was. But whom have they sent to Russia? They have not even sent the lowest in rank of a Cabinet minister; they have sent a clerk in the Foreign Office. It is an insult… They have no sense of the proportion or of the gravity of the whole situation when the world is trembling on the brink of a great precipice…

The voices of the British people and of English statesmen like Churchill and Lloyd George went unheeded.

“A hard and fast alliance with Russia,” observed the London Times, “would hamper other negotiations.”…(2)

As the summer of 1939 drew to a close and war in Europe loomed ever nearer, William Strang, a minor Foreign Office official whom Chamberlain had sent to Moscow, remained the only British representative carrying on direct negotiations with the Soviet Government. Public pressure forced Chamberlain to make another show of negotiations with Russia. On August 11, a British military mission arrived in Moscow to conduct joint staff talks. The British mission had traveled from London on a thirteen-knot vessel, the slowest possible means of transport. When the mission arrived, the Russians learned it had no more authority than Strang to sign any agreement with the Soviet Government…

Soviet Russia was to be isolated and left alone to face a Nazi Germany passively, if not actively, supported by the Munich minded governments of Europe.

Joseph E. Davies later described the choice that the Soviet Government was forced to make. Writing to President Roosevelt’s advisor, Harry Hopkins, the former Ambassador to the Soviet Union stated on July 18, 1941: –

From my observations and contacts, since 1936, I believe that outside of the President of the United States alone no government in the world saw more clearly the menace of Hitler to peace and the necessity for collective security and alliances among non-aggressive nations than did the Soviet government. They were ready to fight for Czechoslovakia. They cancelled their non-aggression pact with Poland in advance of Munich because they wished to clear the road for the passage of their troops through Poland to go to the aid of Czechoslovakia if necessary to fulfill their treaty obligations. Even after Munich and as late as the spring of 1939 the Soviet government agreed to join with Britain and France if Germany should attack Poland or Roumania, but urged that an international conference of non-aggressor states should be held to determine objectively and realistically what each could do and then serve notice on Hitler of their combined resistance… The suggestion was declined by Chamberlain by reason of the objection of Poland and Roumania to the inclusion of Russia…

During all the spring of 1939 the Soviets tried to bring about a definite agreement that would assume unity of action and co-ordination of military plans to stop Hitler.

Britain… refused to give the same guarantees of protection to Russia with reference to the Baltic states which Russia was giving to France and Britain in the event of aggression against Belgium or Holland. The Soviets became convinced, and with considerable reason, that no effective, direct and practical, general arrangement could be made with France and Britain. They were driven to a pact of non-aggression with Hitler.

Twenty years after Brest-Litovsk, the anti-Soviet politicians of Europe had again forced Soviet Russia into an undesired, self-defensive treaty with Germany.

On August 24, 1939, the Soviet Union signed a Non-aggression Pact with Nazi Germany.

2. World War II

On September 1, 1939, Nazi mechanized divisions invaded Poland at seven points. Two days later, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany. Within two weeks, the Polish regime, which under the influence of the anti-Soviet “Colonels’ clique” had allied itself with Nazism, refused Soviet aid and opposed collective security, fell to pieces, and the Nazis were mopping up the scattered remnants of their former ally.

On September 17, as the Nazi columns raced across Poland and the Polish Government fled in panic, the Red Army crossed the prewar Polish eastern border and occupied Byelorussia, the western Ukraine and Galicia before the Nazi Panzers could get there. Moving swiftly westward, the Red Army occupied all the territory which Poland had annexed from Soviet Russia in 1920.

“That the Russian armies should stand on this line was clearly necessary for the safety of Russia against the Nazi menace. ” declared Winston Churchill in a radio broadcast on October 1. “An Eastern Front has been created which Nazi Germany does not dare assail. When Herr yon Ribbentrop was summoned to Moscow last week it was to learn the fact, and accept the fact, that the Nazi designs upon the Baltic states and upon the Ukraine trust come to a dead stop.”

The advance of the Red Army to the west was the first of a series of moves by the Soviet Union counterbalancing the spread of Nazism and designed to strengthen Soviet defenses in preparation for the inevitable showdown with the Third Reich…

During the last week in September and the first days in October, the Soviet Government signed mutual assistance pacts with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. These agreements specified that Red Army garrisons and Soviet airports and naval bases were to be established in the Baltic States.

There began immediately a wholesale deportation of the Nazi Fifth Column in the Baltic area. Within a few days 50,000 Germans had been deported from Lithuania, 53,000 from Latvia and 12,000 from Estonia. Overnight, the Baltic Fifth Columns so laboriously built up by Alfred Rosenberg suffered a devastating blow, and the German High Command lost some of its most strategic bases for the contemplated attack on the Soviet Union.

But to the north, Finland remained as a potential military ally of the Third Reich.

The most intimate working relationship existed between the German and the Finnish High Commands. The Finnish military leader, Baron Karl Gustav von Mannerheim, was in close and constant communication with the German High Command. There were frequent joint staff talks, and German officers periodically supervised Finnish army maneuvers. The Finnish Chief of Staff, General Karl Oesch, had received his military training in Germany, as had his chief aide, General Hugo Ostermann, who served in the German Army during the First World War. In 1939, the Government of the Third Reich conferred upon General Oesch one of its highest military decorations…

Political relations between Finland and Nazi Germany were also close. The Socialist Premier Risto Ryti regarded Hitler as a “genius”; Per Svinhufrud, the wealthy Germanophile who had been awarded the German Iron Cross, was the most powerful behind-the-scenes figure in Finnish politics.

With the aid of German officers and engineers, Finland had been converted into a powerful fortress to serve as a base for the invasion of the Soviet Union. Twenty-three military airports had been constructed on Finnish soil, capable of accommodating ten times as many airplanes as there were in the Finnish Air Force. Nazi technicians had supervised the construction of the Mannerheim Line, a series of intricate, splendidly equipped fortifications running several miles deep along the Soviet border and having heavy guns at one point only twenty-one miles from Leningrad. Unlike the Maginot Line, the Mannerheim Line had been designed not only for defensive purposes but also for garrisoning a major offensive force. As the Mannerheim Line neared completion in the summer of 1939, Hitler’s Chief of Staff, General Halder, arrived from Germany and gave the massive fortifications a final inspection…

During the first week of October, 1939, while still negotiating its new treaties with the Baltic States, the Soviet Government proposed a mutual assistance pact with Finland. Moscow offered to cede several thousand square miles of Soviet territory on central Karelia in exchange for some strategic Finnish islands near Leningrad, a portion of the Karelian Isthmus and a thirty-year lease on the port of Hango for the construction of a Soviet naval base. The Soviet leaders regarded these latter territories as essential to the defense of the Red naval base at Kronstadt and the city of Leningrad.

The negotiations between the Soviet Union and Finland dragged on into the middle of November without results. In order to reach some agreement, the Soviet Government made a number of compromises. “Stalin tried to teach me the wisdom of Finnish as well as Soviet interest in compromise,” declared the Finnish negotiator, Juho Passikivi, upon his return to Helsinki. But the pro-Nazi clique dominating the Finnish Government refused to make any concessions and broke off the negotiations.

By the end of November, the Soviet Union and Finland were at war. “The Finnish nation,” declared the Finnish Government, “is fighting for independence, liberty and honor… As the outpost of Western civilization, our nation has the right to expect help from other civilized nations.”

The anti-Soviet elements in England and France believed that the long-awaited holy war was at hand. The strangely inactive war in the west against Nazi Germany was the “wrong war.” The real war lay to the east. In England, France and the United States, an intense anti-Soviet campaign began under the slogan of “Aid to Finland.”

Prime Minister Chamberlain, who only a short time before had asserted his country lacked adequate arms for fighting the Nazis, quickly arranged to send to Finland 144 British airplanes, 114 heavy guns, 185,000 shells, 50,000 grenades, 15,700 aerial bombs, 100,000 greatcoats and 48 ambulances. At a time when the French Army was in desperate need of every piece of military equipment to hold the inevitable Nazi offensive, the French Government turned over to the Finnish Army 179 airplanes, 472 guns, 795,000 shells, 5100 machine guns and 200,000 hand grenades.

While the lull continued on the Western Front, the British High Command, still dominated by anti-Soviet militarists like General Ironside, drew up plans for sending 100,000 troops across Scandinavia into Finland, and the French High Command made preparations for a simultaneous attack on the Caucasus, under the leadership of General Weygand, who openly stated that French bombers in the Near East were ready to strike at the Baku oil fields.

Day after day the British, French and American newspapers headlined sweeping Finnish victories and catastrophic Soviet defeats. But after three months of fighting in extraordinarily difficult terrain and under incredibly severe weather conditions, with the temperature frequently falling to sixty and seventy degrees below zero, the Red Army had smashed the “impregnable” Mannerheim Line and routed the Finnish Army.(3)

Hostilities between Finland and the Soviet Union ended on March 13, 1940. According to the peace terms, Finland ceded to Russia the Karelian Isthmus, the western and northern shores of Lake Lagoda, a number of strategic islands in the Gulf of Finland essential to the defense of Leningrad. The Soviet Government restored to Finland the port of Petsamo, which had been occupied by the Red Army, and took a thirty-year lease on the Hango peninsula for an annual rental of 8,000,000 Finnish marks.

Addressing the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. on March 29, Molotov declared: –

The Soviet Union, having smashed the Finnish Army and having every opportunity of occupying the whole of Finland, did not do so and did not demand any indemnities for expenditures in the war as any other Power would have done, but confined its desires to a minimum… We pursued no other objects in the peace treaty than that of safeguarding Murmansk and the Murmansk railroad…

The undeclared war of Nazi Germany against Soviet Russia went on…

On the day that Finnish-Soviet hostilities ceased, General Mannerheim declared in a proclamation to the Finnish Army that “the sacred mission of the army is to be an outpost of Western civilization in the east.” Shortly afterwards, the Finnish Government began to construct new fortifications along the revised frontier. Nazi technicians came from Germany to supervise the work. Large armament orders were placed with Sweden and Germany. German troops began arriving in considerable numbers in Finland. The Finnish and the German commands set LP joint headquarters and held joint army maneuvers. Scores of Nazi agents swelled the staffs of the German Embassy at Helsinki and the eleven consulates around the country..

The lull in the west came to a sudden end in the spring of 1940. On April 9 German troops invaded Denmark and Norway. Denmark was occupied in a single clay without resistance. By the end of the month the Nazis had crushed organized Norwegian resistance, and the British troops, which had come to aid the Norwegians, were abandoning their few precarious footholds. A puppet Nazi regime was set up in Oslo under Major Vidkun Quisling.

On May 10, Chamberlain tendered his resignation as Prime Minister, having brought his country to possibly the most desperate situation in its long history. That same day, as the King asked Winston Churchill to form a new cabinet, the German Army invaded Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg. By May 21, the Germans had smashed their way through crumbling opposition, reached the Channel and cut off the Allies in Flanders.

Panic swept through France. Everywhere, the Fifth Column was at work. French troops were deserted by their officers. Whole divisions found themselves without military supplies. Paul Reymud told the Senate that French Army chiefs had committed “unbelievable errors.” He denounced “traitors, defeatists and cowards.” Dozens of top-ranking French officers were suddenly arrested. But the arrests came too late. The Fifth Column was already in control of France.

The former French Minister of Aviation, Pierre Cot, later wrote in Triumph of Treason: –

… 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. At the Council of Ministers which was held at Cange, near Tours, on June 12, 1940, General Weygand urged the government to end the war. His principal argument was that a Communist revolution had broken out in Paris. He stated that Maurice Thorez, General Secretary of the Communist Party, was already installed in the Presidential Palace. Georges Mandel, Minister of the Interior, immediately telephoned to the Prefect of Police in Paris, who denied Weygand’s statements; there was no disturbance in the city, the population was quiet… As soon 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.

With every hour, confusion mounted and the debacle grew, as the French soldiers fought on desperately, hopelessly, and the world watched the betrayal of a nation on a scale never witnessed before…

From May 29 through June 4, the British Army evacuated its troops from Dunkirk, heroically rescuing 335,000 men.

On June 10, Fascist Italy declared war on France and England.

On June 14, Paris fell, and Petain, Weygand, Laval and the Trotskyite Doriot became the Nazi puppet rulers of France.

On June 22, an armistice between Germany and France was signed in the Compiegne Forest in the very same railroad car in which Marshal Foch had dictated the terms of surrender to the defeated Germans twenty-two years before.

As France crumbled, the Red Army again moved swiftly to strengthen the defenses of the Soviet Union.

In the middle of June, forestalling an imminent Nazi Putsch in the Baltic States, Soviet armored divisions occupied Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

On June 27, the Red Army moved into Bessarabia and northern Bukovina, which Rumania had snatched from the Russians after the Revolution.

The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany now faced one another on their future battle lines.

Toward the end of July, the Nazis launched mass air raids over London and other English cities, pouring down tons of explosives upon the civilian population. The raids, which increased in ferocity throughout the next month, were intended to terrify and paralyze the whole nation, and swiftly bring an already gravely weakened England to her knees.

But with Churchill as Prime Minister profound changes were taking place within Great Britain. The confusion and division which had resulted from Chamberlain’s leadership had given way to determination and growing national unity. Across the narrow Channel the British people saw the workings of the Fifth Column. Churchill’s Government acted swiftly and with resolution. Scotland Yard and British Intelligence swooped down on Nazi agents British Fascists and leaders of secret Fifth Column intrigues, In, a sudden raid on the London headquarters of the British Union of Fascists, the authorities seized important documents and arrested many Fifth Columnists. The leader of the British Fascist Party, Sir Oswald Mosley, was arrested in his own apartment, sensational arrests followed. John Beckett, a former Member of Parliament and founder of the anti-Soviet and pro-Nazi People’s Party; Captain A. H. Ramsay, Tory Member of Parliament for Peebles; Edward Dudley Elan, an official in the Ministry of Health, his wife Mrs. Dacre Fox, and other prominent Pro-Nazis and Fascists were arrested. A Treachery Bill was passed, providing the death penalty for traitors.

Showing that it had learned well the lesson of France and of the Moscow Trials, the British Government in July 1940 announced the arrest of Admiral Sir Barry Domvile, former Director of Naval intelligence. Domvile, a friend of Alfred Rosenberg and of the late General Max Hoffmann, had been involved in most of the anti-Soviet conspiracies since 1918. At the time of his arrest, Domvile was the head of a secret pro-Nazi society in England called The Link which was organized with the aid of Heinrich Himmler, Chief of the Gestapo…

Assured against treachery from within, the British people faced the ordeal of the Nazi air blitz without flinching, and defended themselves. On the single day of September 17, 1940, the RAF downed no less than 185 German planes over England.

Meeting such fierce and unexpected resistance, and mindful of the Red Army on his eastern borders, Hitler paused at the Channel. He did not invade the British Isles…

The year was 1941. An air of tense expectancy hung over the whole of Europe as Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany, the two greatest military powers in the world, prepared to lock in battle.

On March 1, the Germans entered Sofia, and Bulgaria became a Nazi base.

On April 6, after a popular revolt had overthrown Regent Prince Paul’s Yugoslavian regime and Nazi agents were forced to flee the country, the Soviet Government signed a non-aggression pact with the new Yugoslavian Government. That same day, Nazi Germany declared war on Yugoslavia and invaded it.

On May 5, Stalin became Premier of the U.S.S.R.(4)

At four o’clock on the morning of June 22, 1941, without any declaration of war, Hitler’s tanks, air force, mobile artillery, motorized units and infantry were hurled across the borders of the Soviet Union on a stupendous front stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea.

Later that morning Goebbels broadcast Hitler’s war proclamation. It read in part: –

German people! At this moment a march is taking place that, as regards extent, compares with the greatest the world has hitherto seen. United with their Finnish comrades, the fighters of the victory of Narvik are standing in the Northern Arctic. German divisions commanded by the conqueror of Norway, in co-operation with the heroes of Finnish freedom, under their marshal, are protecting Finnish soil. Formations of the German eastern front extend from East Prussia to the Carpathians. German and Rumanian soldiers are united under Chief of State Antonescu from the banks of the Pruth along the lower reaches of the Danube to the shores of the Black Sea. The task of this front, therefore, no longer is the protection of single countries, but the safeguarding of Europe and thereby the salvation of all.

Italv, Rumania, Hungary and Finland joined the Nazi war on Soviet Russia. Special Fascist contingents were raised in France and Spain. The united armies of a counterrevolutionary Europe had launched a Holy War against the Soviets. The Plan of General Max Hoffmann was being tested in action…

On November 11, 1941, the American Undersecretary of State, Sumner Welles, said in a speech at Washington: –

Twenty-three years ago today, Woodrow Wilson addressed the Congress of the United States in order to inform the representatives of the American people of the terms of the Armistice which signalized the victorious conclusion of the First World War… Less than five years later, shrouded in the cerements of apparent defeat, his shattered body was placed in the grave beside which we are now gathered…

The heart-searching question which every American citizen must ask himself on this day of commemoration is whether the world in which we have to live would have come to this desperate pass had the United States been willing in those years which followed 1919 to play its full part in striving to bring about a new world order based on justice and on “a steadfast concert for peace.”… A cycle in human events is about to come to an end… The American people… have entered the Valley of Decision.

On December 7. 1941, without warning, Japanese bombing planes and battleships attacked the United States of America. Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy declared war on the United States…

On December 9, in an address to the American people, President Roosevelt said: –

The course that Japan has followed for the past ten years in Asia has paralleled the course of Hitler and Mussolini in Europe and Africa. Today, it has become far more than a parallel. It is collaboration so well calculated that all the continents of the world, and all the oceans, are now considered by the Axis strategists as one gigantic battlefield.

In 1931, Japan invaded Manchukuo -without warning.

In 1935, Italy invaded Ethiopia – without warning.

In 1938, Hitler occupied Austria – without warning.

In 1939, Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia – without warning. Later in 1939, Hitler invaded Poland -without warning.

In 1940, Hitler invaded Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg – without warning.

In 1940, Italy attacked France and later Greece – without warning.

In 1941, Hitler invaded Russia – without warning.

And now Japan has attacked Malaya and Thailand – and the United States – without warning.

It is all of one pattern.

The masks were off. The secret war of the Axis Anti-Comintern against Soviet Russia had merged with the world war against all free peoples.

On December 15, 1941, in a Message to Congress, President Roosevelt declared: –

In 1936 the Government of Japan openly associated itself with Germany by entering the anti-Comintern Pact. This pact, as we all know, was nominally directed against the Soviet Union; but its real purpose was to form a league of fascism against the free world, particularly against Great Britain, France and the United States.

The Second World War had entered its final decisive phase as a global conflict between the forces of international Fascism and the united armies of progressive mankind.


1. On September 24, 1938, with the Nazis moving on Czechoslovakia, the leading editorial in the Socialist Appeal, New York Trotskyite newspaper declared: “Czechoslovakia is one of the most monstrous national abortions produced by the labors of the infamous Versailles conference… Czechoslovakia’s democracy has never been more than a shabby cloak for advanced capitalist exploitation… This perspective necessarily entails the firmest revolutionary opposition to the Czechoslovakian bourgeois state, under any and all circumstances.”

Under such pseudo-revolutionary slogans, the Trotskyites throughout Europe and America carried on an incessant campaign against the defense of small nations from Axis aggression and against collective security. As Abyssinia, Spain, North and Central China, Austria and Czechoslovakia were invaded one after another by Germany, Italy and Japan, the members of Trotsky’s Fourth International spread throughout the world the propaganda that collective security was an “incitement to war.” Trotsky asserted “the defense of the national State” was really “a reactionary task.” In his pamphlet, The Fourth International and the War, which was used as basic propaganda material by the Trotskyites in their fight against collective security, Trotsky wrote: –

“The defence of the national State, first of all in Balkanized Europe – is in the full sense of the word a reactionary task. The national State with its borders, passports, monetary system, customs and the army for the protection of customs has become a frightful impediment to the economic and cultural development of humanity. Not the defence of the national State is the task of the proletariat but its complete and final destruction.”

Trotsky’s followers and sympathizers in Europe and America conducted a bitter struggle against the Popular Front in France, the Spanish Republican Government and other patriotic, anti-Fascist mass movements which were trying to achieve national unity within their own countries and collective security agreements with the Soviet Union. The Trotskyite propaganda declared these movements would only involve their countries in war. “The Stalinist version of the United Front,” declared C. L. James, a leading British Trotskyite, “is not unity for action but unity to lead all workers into imperialistic war.”

Trotsky himself ceaselessly “warned” against the “dangers” involved in an Axis defeat at the hands of the nonaggressor nations. “A victory of France, of Great Britain and the Soviet Union… over Germany and Japan,” Trotsky declared at the Hearings in Mexico in April 1937, “could signify first a transformation of the Soviet Union into a bourgeois state and the transformation of France into a fascist state, because for a victory over Hitler it is necessary to have a monstrous military machine… A victory can signify the destruction of fascism in Germany and the establishment of fascism in France.”

In this way Trotsky and his fellow propagandists worked hand-in-glove with the appeasers and with the Axis Propaganda Ministries to persuade the people of Europe that collective security was war-mongering and that these agencies attempting to achieve it were “Stalinist” tools.

2. On the day that the Nazi Army entered Prague, a delegation of the Federation of British Industries was in Dusseldorf drawing up the final details of a comprehensive agreement with German big business.

In July the British press carried the sensational disclosure that Robert S Hudson, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, had been with Dr. Helmuth Wohlthat, Hitler’s economic adviser, to discuss the possibility of a British loan of 51,000,000 pounds to Nazi Germany.

By no means all British big businessmen were in sympathy with the policy of appeasing the Nazis. On June 8, the banker and coal magnate Lord Davies declared in the House of Lords: “The Russian Government know perfectly well that in certain quarters in this country there is lurking a hope that the German Eagles would fly eastwards and not westwards, as it was apparently intended they should do at the time when Hitler wrote Mein Kampf.”… Regarding Chamberlain’s negotiations with the Soviet Government, Lord Davies said, “Sometimes I wonder whether, even now, the Cabinet are really in earnest or whether these negotiations are not merely another sop to public opinion.”

3. In June 1940 the institute for Propaganda Analysis in New York City reported: “The American press told less truth and retailed more fancy lies about the Finnish war than about any recent conflict.”

4. At 10:30 P.M. on the night of Saturday, May 10, 1941, a German Messerschmitt plane plummeted earthward over Lanarkshire, Scotland, and buried its nose in a field near Dungavel Castle, property of the young Duke of Hamilton. A former employee on the Duke’s estate saw the fallen plane and then the slow, white plume of a descending parachute- Armed with a pitchfork he ran out to find a man lying on the ground with a broken ankle. The man was Rudolph Hess, Adolf Hitler’s Deputy.

“Take me to the Duke of Hamilton,” said Hess, speaking in English. l have come to save humanity!”

Hess hoped through Hamilton and his friends to gain British Tory backing for the Nazi attack on Soviet Russia.

Sir Patrick Dollan, Lord Provost of Glasgow, Scotland, said on June 11, 1911: “Hess came here… in the belief that he could remain in Scotland two days, discuss his peace proposals with a certain group and be given a supply of petrol and maps to enable him to return to Germany and tell them the results of his conversation.”

Referring to the Hess Mission in his speech of November 6, 1941, Stalin declared: “The Germans knew that their policy of playing upon the contradictions between the classes in separate states, and the contradictions between these states and the Soviet Union, had already produced results in France, the rulers of which had allowed themselves to be intimidated by the spectre of revolution, had refused to resist, and terror-stricken had placed native land under the heel of Hitler. The German-fascist strategists thought the same thing would occur with Great Britain and the United States of America. The notorious Hess was sent to Britain by the German fascists for this very purpose, in order to persuade the British politicians to join the general campaign against the U.S.S.R. But the Germans gravely miscalculated. Rudolph Hess became a prisoner of the British Government.”

CHAPTER XXIII – American Anti-Comintern

1. Heritage of the Black Hundreds

The chief aim of Axis secret diplomacy after June 22, 1941, was to prevent at all costs the United States from joining the Anglo-Soviet Alliance against Nazi Germany. The isolation of America was vitally essential to the master plan of the German and Japanese High Commands.

America became a focal point of Axis anti-Soviet propaganda and intrigue.

Ever since 1918, the American people had been subjected to a continuous stream of false propaganda about Soviet Russia. The Russian Revolution was portrayed as the work of “wild, unruly mobs” incited by “cutthroats, criminals and degenerates”; the Red Army was an “undisciplined rabble”; Soviet economy was “unworkable” and Soviet industry and agriculture were “in a hopeless state of anarchy”; the Soviet people were just waiting for war to rise in rebellion against their “ruthless masters in Moscow’

The moment Nazi Germany attacked Soviet Russia, a chorus of voices in the United States predicted the immediate collapse of the U.S.S.R. Here are some typical statements made by Americans following the invasion of Soviet Russia: –

Hitler will be in control of Russia in thirty days. – Congressman Martin Dies, June 24, 1941

It will take a miracle bigger than any seen since the Bible was written to save the Reds from utter defeat in a very short time. – Fletcher Pratt, New York Post, June 27, 1941

Russia is doomed and America and Great Britain are powerless to prevent her swift destruction before the Blitzkrieg hammering of the Nazi Army. – Hearst’s New York Journal-American, June 27, 1941

… in staff work and leadership, in training and equipment they [the Russians] are no match for the Germans; Timoshenko and Budyenny and Stern are not the same caliber as Keitel and Brauchitch; Purges and politics have hurt the Red Army. – Hanson W. Baldwin, New York Times, June 29, 1941

There need be no excuses and no explanations, except that incompetence, despotism, lack of managerial capacity, lack of initiative, government by fear and purge left the giant helpless and incapacitated. Soviet Russia had bluffed the world for a quarter of a century and the bluff has been called.

We must be prepared for the shock of the elimination of Soviet Russia from the war altogether; George E. Sokolsky, July 26, 1941

On November 20, 1941, an editorial entitled “Ignorance of Russia appeared in the Houston Post. It posed a question that was uppermost in many American minds. The editorial stated: –

Something that has not been satisfactorily explained is why the people of the United States for the last twenty years have been kept largely in ignorance of the material progress of Soviet Russia.

When Hitler attacked Russia, the almost unanimous opinion in this country was that Stalin could not last long. Our “best minds” had no hope for Russia. They looked forward to a quick conquest of the country by the Nazis. .. Russia was expected by most Americans to fold up as the Nazis advanced…

How and why was this information kept from the American people for so long?

A barrier had been raised between the American people and the people of Soviet Russia ever since 1918. Artificial hatred and fear of Soviet Russia had been stimulated in America by reactionary politicians and businessmen, by White Russian émigrés and counterrevolutionary agents, and, finally, by representatives of the Axis Propaganda Ministries and Intelligence Services.

Immediately after the Russian Revolution, White Russian émigrés began flooding America with anti-Soviet forgeries and stirring up suspicion and hostility against Soviet Russia. From the start, the anti-Soviet campaign of the Czarist émigrés in the United States merged with a fascist secret war against America itself.

The first Nazi cells were formed in the United States in 1924. They operated under Fritz Gissibl, head of the Nazi Teutonia Society in Chicago. That same year Captain Sidney George Reilly and his White Russian associates formed a branch of his International League against Bolshevism in the United States. Throughout the nineteen-twenties, Nazi agents like Fritz Gissibl and Heinz Spanknoebel, operating under orders from Rudolph Hess and Alfred Rosenberg, carried on their anti-democratic and anti-Soviet work in America in ultimate collaboration with the anti-Soviet White Russians.

The White Russian Peter Afanassieff, alias Prince Peter Kushubue, alias Peter Armstrong, arrived in San Francisco in 1922, aided in the American distribution of The Protocols of Zion, and, in collaboration with the former Czarist officer Captain Victor de Kayville, began publishing a pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic propaganda sheet, The American Gentile. In this work, Afanassieff was associated with the Nazi agents Fritz Gissibl and Oscar Pfaus.

Nicolai Rybakoff, a former colonel in the Japanese-controlled White Russian Army of Ataman Grigori Semyonov, arrived in the United States in the early nineteen-twenties and carried on anti-Soviet and anti-Semitic propaganda. In 1933, when Hitler came to power in Germany, Rybakoff founded Rossiya, a pro-Nazi Russian newspaper in New York City. The Japanese agent Semyonov and his aide-in-chief, Rodzaevsky, maintained contact with Rybakoff from Manchukuo, where they commanded a Japanese-financed army of White Russians. Japanese propaganda from Manchukuo was regularly featured in Rossiya, along with Nazi propaganda. In 1941, after Hitler’s attack on Russia, Rybakoff’s New York paper described the Nazi Wehrmacht as “a fiery sword of the justly-punishing Providence, the Christian patriotically anti-bolshevik white victorious legions of Hitler.”(1)

The chief liaison between the Nazis and the White Russians in the United States was James Wheeler-Hill, national secretary of the German-American Bund. Wheeler-Hill was not a German; he was a White Russian, born in Baku. He had gone to Germany after the defeat of the White armies in Russia, and then came to the United States. In 1939, Wheeler-Hill was arrested as a Nazi spy by the FBI.

The most important German and Japanese agent among the White Russians in the United States was “Count” Anastase A. Vonsiatsky. On September 25, 1933, the Nazi agent Paul A. von Lilienfeld-Toal wrote in a letter to William Dudley Pelley, chief of the pro-Nazi American Silver Shirts: –

This is to give you a report about my contacts with the White Russians… I am in touch with the “General Staff of the Russian Fascists” (Box 631, Putnam, Conn.). Their leader, Mr. A. A. Vonsiatsky, is abroad just now, but his assistant, Mr. D. I. Kunle, wrote me a nice letter and mailed me several copies of their paper Fascist.

“Count” Vonsiatsky of Thompson, Connecticut, was an ex-Czarist officer who had fought in Denikin’s White Army. After Denikin’s defeat, Vonsiatsky headed a White terrorist band in the Crimea which kidnaped Russian citizens, held them for ransom, and tortured them to death if the money was not forthcoming. Vonsiatsky came to the United States in the early nineteen-twenties and married Mrs. Marion Buckingham Ream Stephen, an American multimillionairess who was twenty-two years older than himself. Vonsiatsky became an American citizen and settled down on the luxurious Ream estate in Thompson.

With his wife’s fortune at his disposal, Vonsiatsky began to entertain grandiose visions of creating an anti-Soviet army which he would personally lead into Moscow. He started traveling extensively in Europe, Asia and South America, meeting with representatives of the Torgprom, the International League against Bolshevism, and other anti-Soviet agencies.

In August 1933, Vonsiatsky founded the “Russian Fascist National Revolutionary Party” in the United States. Its official emblem was the swastika. Its headquarters was at the Ream estate in Thompson, where Vonsiatsky set up a private arsenal of rifles, machine guns and other military equipment and began drilling squads of uniformed, swastika-wearing young men.

In May 1934, Vonsiatsky visited Tokyo, Harbin and other Far Eastern centers, and conferred with members of the Japanese High Command and fascist White Russians, including Ataman Semyonov. From Japan, Vonsiatsky went to Germany where he met with Alfred Rosenberg, Dr. Goebbels and representatives of the German Military Intelligence. Vonsiatsky undertook to keep Germany and Japan regularly supplied with espionage data from the United States.

Branch offices of Vonsiatsky’s party were established in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, in Sao Paulo, Brash and in Harbin, Manchukuo. These branch offices worked directly under the supervision of the German and Japanese Military Intelligence Services.

In addition to its espionage operations in the United States, the, organization financed and headed by Vonsiatsky carried on a campaign of sabotage and terror against the Soviet Union. The February 1934 issue of Vonsiatsky’s The Fascist, published in Thompson, Connecticut, reported: –

On October 7 the Fascist Trio No. A-5 caused the crash of a military train. According to information received here about 100 people were killed.

In the Starobinsk district, thanks to the work of the “brothers,” the sowing campaign was completely ‘sabotaged’. Several Communists in charge of the sowing campaign mysteriously disappeared!

On September 3, in the District Ozera Kmiaz, the Communist Chairman of a collective farm was killed by “brothers” Nos. 167 and 168!

In April 1934 the Fascist stated that its editorial office was “in receipt of 1,500 zlotys to be delivered to Boris Koverda when he is discharged from prison. The money is a present from Mr. Vonsiatsky.” At the time, Boris Koverda was serving a prison sentence in Poland for having assassinated Soviet Ambassador Voikov in Warsaw.

The official program of the Russian National Fascist Revolutionary Party stated: –

Arrange the assassination of Soviet military instructors, military correspondents, political commanders, as well as the most outstanding Communists… Assassinate, first of all, the Party secretaries…

Sabotage all orders of the Red authorities… Hamper communication of the red power… Hack down telegraph poles, cut wires, interrupt and destroy all telephone communications.. .

Remember firmly, brother fascists: We have been wrecking, we still ‘wreck and in the future we shall continue to wreck! (2)

Immediately after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, “Count” Anastase Vonsiatsky was arrested by the FBI. He was tried for violation of the Espionage Act, found guilty of divulging United States military information to the German and Japanese Governments, and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.(3)

2. “Saving America from Communism”

An atmosphere of intense hostility toward the Soviet Union was fostered in the United States by an influential minority of reactionary Americans who feared social and economic progress at home and abroad.

On August 13, 1931, Herbert Hoover, then President of the United States, stated in an interview with the San Francisco News: –

To tell the truth, the ambition of my life is to stamp out Soviet Russia.

In 1931, at the time Hoover made his statement to the San Francisco News, a “Plan for an International Movement to Combat the Red Menace” was sponsored in the United States by an organization called the National Civic Federation. The founder and head of this organization, which specialized in anti-Communist and anti-labor agitation, was a former Chicago newspaperman, Ralph M. Easley. In 1927, Norman Hapgood wrote an exposé of Easley’s “professional patriotism” in which he declared: –

Soviet Russia is, of course, Mr. Easley’s chief abomination. He has freely sponsored the cause of the Czarists, with Mr. Boris as his chief adviser.

The membership of Easley’s National Civic Federation included Representative Hamilton Fish of New York; Harry Augustus Jung, a former labor spy and anti-Semitic propagandist in Chicago; George Sylvester Viereck, the ex-agent of the Kaiser and future Nazi agent; Matthew Woll, reactionary vice-president of the American Federation of Labor and acting president of the National Civic Federation, who publicly referred to Soviet Russia as “this Red Monster – this Madman”; and a number of other prominent Americans interested in the anti-Bolshevik crusade.

Early in 1933, Easley became chairman of an organization called the American Section of the International Committee to Combat the World Menace of Communism. The international headquarters of this organization was in Europa House, Berlin. Many members of the National Civic Federation joined Easley in the new organization.(4)

The American Section of the International Committee to Combat the World Menace of Communism sponsored the first official Nazi propaganda document to be circulated in the United States. it took the form of an anti-Soviet book, printed in English, and entitled Communism in Germany. The book was published in Germany by the firm of Eckhart-Verlag. Thousands of copies were shipped across the Atlantic for distribution in America.

Through extensive mailings and at “patriotic” rallies in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and other cities, the book was widely circulated free of charge. A nationwide campaign of newspaper articles, lectures, meetings and form letters was arranged to promote the book in the United States.

The book was prefaced by this quotation: –

At the beginning of this year there were weeks when we were within a hair’s breadth of Bolshevist chaos!

Chancellor Adolf Hitler, in his proclamation of the 1st September, 1933.

The next page of the book featured the following statement: – WHY AMERICANS SHOULD READ THIS BOOK

The question of Communist propaganda and activities is of immediate importance to the American people in view of the consideration now being given to the question of recognition of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics by the Government of the United States.

Here is a challenging book. It should be read by every thoughtful citizen because it presents the history of the life-and-death struggle Germany has been waging against Communism. It reveals that the subversive methods and destructive objectives of the Communists in Germany are the same as are employed in the United States by those enemies of civilized nations…

The value of this German expose as an object lesson to other countries has led our committee to place it in the hands of leaders of public opinion throughout the United States.

Directly underneath this announcement there followed a list of names of leading members of the American Section of the International Committee to Combat the World Menace of Communism: –

Walter C. Cole (chairman, Council of National Defense, Detroit Board of Commerce)
John Ross Delafield (commander-in-chief, Military Order of the World War)
Ralph M. Easley (chairman, National Civic Federation)
Hamilton Fish (United States Congressman)
Elon Huntington Hooker (chairman, American Defense Society)
F. O. Johnson (president, Better America Federation)
Orvel Johnson (Lieutenant-Colonel, R.O.T.C. Association of the United States)
Harry Jung (chief, American Vigilante Intelligence Association)
Samuel McRoberts (banker)
C. G. Norman (chairman, Building Trades Employers’ Association)
Ellis Searle (editor, the United Mine Worker)
Walter S. Steele (editor, National Republic)
John B. Trevor (chairman, American Coalition)
Archibald E. Stevenson (former member, United States Military Intelligence) For the American Section of the International Committee to Combat the World Menace of Communism

These are the records of some of the American sponsors of the Nazi propaganda book, Communism in Germany:-

Harry Augustus Jung, former labor spy, headed the anti-democratic Chicago organization called the American Vigilante Intelligence Federation. Its organ the Vigilant was listed as recommended reading by the official Nazi propaganda agency, World Service. Among Jung’s early associates in anti-Soviet activities was the White Russian Peter Afanassieff, who supplied Jung with a translated version of the Protocols for distribution in “quantity lots” throughout the United States. Jung was subsequently befriended by Colonel Robert R. McCormick, publisher of the isolationist and violently anti-Soviet Chicago Tribune, and set up offices in the Tribune Tower in Chicago.

Walter S. Steele, editor of the National Republic, carried on an incessant anti-Soviet propaganda campaign intended to influence American businessmen. Steele collaborated with Jung in the distribution of The Protocols of Zion.

James B. Trevor was head of the American Coalition, an organization which in 1942 was listed by a Department of Justice indictment as an agency which had been used in a conspiracy to undermine the morale of the United States armed forces. Trevor was intimately associated with anti Soviet White Russians, and his organization constantly spread anti-Soviet propaganda.

Archibald E. Stevenson, a onetime member of the Military Intelligence Division of the United States Army, was one of the leading instigators of anti-Soviet agitation in the United States throughout the period prior to the Second World War. A close associate of Ralph M. Easley, Stevenson subsequently became public relations counsel for the New York State Economic Council, an anti-labor and anti-democratic propaganda agency whose chairman was Merwin K. Hart, a notorious propagandist for the Spanish Fascist dictator, Generalissimo Franco.

Representative Hamilton Fish, of New York, visited Soviet Russia in 1923, when he was head of the firm Hamilton Fish & Company, Exporters and Importers. After his return to the United States he introduced a resolution into Congress calling for the establishment of commercial relations with Soviet Russia. Subsequently, he became one of the most bitter anti-Soviet propagandists in the United States. In the early 1930’s, as chairman of a Congressional committee to investigate “American communism,” Fish was the chief spokesman of the White Russian anti-Soviet émigrés in the United States and other inveterate foes of Soviet Russia. Among the “experts” who supplied Fish’s committee with material were the former Okhrana agent, Boris Brasol, and the German propagandist, George Sylvester Viereck. After Hitler came to power in Germany, Fish hailed the Nazi leader as the man who had saved Germany from Communism. As a key exponent of isolationism and appeasement, Fish shared platforms with notorious American pro-Nazis and inserted their propaganda in the Congressional Record. In the fall of 1939 Fish conferred in Nazi Germany with Joachim von Ribbentrop, Nazi Foreign Minister; Count Galeazzo Ciano, Italian Foreign Minister; and other Axis leaders. Fish toured Europe in a German plane, urging a second Munich and claiming that “Germany’s claims” were “just.” In February 1942 it was disclosed at the trial of the Nazi agent Viereck that Fish’s Washington office had been used as the headquarters of a Nazi propaganda ring and that Fish’s secretary, George Hill, was one of the key members of the German propaganda network in the United States.

At the time of America’s entry into the Second World War, scores of American fascist organizations describing themselves as “anti-Communist” were active throughout the United States. These organizations had received guidance and, many of them, financial support from Berlin and Tokyo. Paid agents of Nazi Germany had founded a number of the organizations. Some of the organizations, like the German-American Bund and the Kyffhauser Bund, made little attempt to conceal their foreign affiliation; others, like the Silver Shirts, the Christian Front, American Guards, American Nationalist Confederation, and the Crusaders for Americanism masqueraded as patriotic societies which were “saving America” from the “menace of Communism.”

By 1939, no less than 750 fascist organizations had been formed in the United States, and were flooding the country with pro-Axis, anti-Semitic and anti-Soviet bulletins, magazines, newsletters and newspapers. In the name of saving America from Communism, these organizations and publications called for the overthrow of the Government of the United States, the establishment of an American fascist regime, and an alliance with the Axis against Soviet Russia.

On November 18, 1936, William Dudley Pelley, chief of the Nazi-inspired Silver Shirts, declared: –

Let us understand thoroughly that if a second civil war comes to this country, it will not be a war to overthrow the American government, but to overthrow the Jew-Communist usurpers who have seized the American government and bethought themselves to make it a branch office of Moscow…

After the Nazi invasion of Soviet Russia, Father Charles E Coughlin, leader of the pro-Nazi Christian Front, declared in the July 7, 1941, issue of his propaganda organ Social Justice. –

Germany’s war on Russia is a battle for Christianity… We remember that atheistic Communism was conceived and brought to birth in Russia chiefly through the instrumentality of godless Jews.

The same propaganda was disseminated throughout the United States by Gerald B. Winrod’s Defender of Wichita, Kansas; William Kullgren’s Beacon Light of Atascadero, California; Court Asher’s X-Ray of Munice, Indiana; E. J. Garner’s Publicity of Wichita, Kansas; Charles B. Hudson’s America in Danger! of Omaha, Nebraska; and many similar pro-Axis, anti-Soviet publications.

After Pearl Harbor, a number of these persons were indicted by the Department of justice on charges of spreading seditious propaganda and plotting with Nazi agents to overthrow the United States Government. Nevertheless, throughout the war, they continued to spread the propaganda that the Axis Powers were waging a “holy war” and that the United States had been tricked into the conflict by the connivance of “Jewish Communist conspirators in Washington, London and Moscow.”

3. Paul Scheffer: A Case History

A few days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, agents of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested a dapper, middle-aged German journalist who was living in a fashionable apartment house in New York City. His name was Paul Scheffer. He was listed in the State Department files as the American correspondent for Das Reich, the official publication of the Nazi Propaganda Ministry.

The career of Paul Scheffer is a striking illustration of how Nazi agents were able to operate in the United States under the mask of anti-Sovietism…(5)

At one time, Paul Scheffer had been a journalist of international renown. As the Moscow correspondent for the Berliner Tageblatt from 1922 until 1929, Scheffer acquired the reputation of being “the best-informed man on Soviet Russia.” His colorfully written dispatches from the Soviet Union were reprinted in a dozen languages. His friends and admirers included eminent statesmen, celebrated literary figures and leading industrialists and financiers in Europe and America.

In the fall of 1929 Scheffer’s career as a Moscow correspondent came to an abrupt, unexpected conclusion. During one of his periodic visits to Germany, the Soviet authorities suddenly forbade him to return to the U.S.S.R. There was a furor of indignant protests among Scheffer’s many distinguished friends. They demanded to know what possible reason there could be for such action on the part of the Soviet Government. The answer to that question was locked in the files of the Soviet secret police.

Some of the facts were made public eight years later, on March 2, 1938, when Mikhail Chernov, the Right conspirator and former Commissar of Agriculture of the Soviet Union, testified before the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R.

Chernov admitted he had received 4000 rubles a month from the German Military Intelligence for providing them with Russian military and trade secrets and for organizing extensive sabotage. He named the German agent under whose supervision his first espionage-sabotage assignments had been carried out. The German agent, Chernov said, was “Paul Scheffer, correspondent of the Berliner Tageblatt.”

On March 13, 1938, a Soviet firing squad executed Mikhail Chernov. Only a few days before the execution, Paul Scheffer arrived in the United States as the American correspondent for the Berliner Tageblatt…

After being barred from the Soviet Union in 1929, Scheffer had become one of Europe’s most prolific and highly paid anti-Soviet propagandists. Scarcely a week elapsed without one of his articles, fiercely attacking the Soviet Government and predicting its imminent collapse, appearing in some out European or American periodical.

In 1931, Scheffer, who had married a former Russian countess visited the United States to campaign against American recognition of the Soviet Government. “If America decides upon recognition,” Scheffer gravely warned in an article in Foreign Affairs which was reprinted in the Reader’s Digest, “it may hereafter be said that in 1931 she made her deliberate choice between bourgeois Europe and the Soviets… recognition by America could only provoke Communist Russia to greater aggressiveness and enterprise in its attacks on bourgeois European countries.”

When Hitler came to power, Scheffer was the London correspondent of the Berliner Tageblatt. He immediately returned to Germany and was appointed editor-in-chief of the paper, which had now come under the supervision of the Nazi Propaganda Ministry.(6)

In the winter of 1937, Scheffer was ordered to take up residence in the United States. He was soon cabling dispatches to the Berliner Tageblatt from New York City, which were a skillful mixture of anti-American propaganda and information which might be of interest to the German military authorities. Before long Scheffer was promoted to the position of American correspondent for Das Reich, the official organ of the Nazi Propaganda Ministry. In this capacity, Scheffer was Dr. Goebbels’s special representative in the United States. One of his chief functions was to stir up sentiment against Soviet Russia in the United States. Anti-Soviet articles by “the Russian expert” Scheffer appeared regularly in well-known American magazines and news-papers. One of Scheffer’s favorite subjects was the Moscow Trials. For his numerous American readers Scheffer interpreted the trials, at which he himself had been exposed as a German agent, as “gigantic frame-ups.” He described Bukharin, Pyatakov, Radek and the other Russian fifth columnists as “the real Bolshevik leaders.” His most extravagant praise, however, was reserved for Leon Trotsky.

In a typical article, “From Lenin to Stalin,” which appeared in the April 1938 issue of the well-known American quarterly, Foreign Affairs, Scheffer explained that Stalin was a “cunning Oriental” motivated by greed, jealousy and lust for power, and that he had arranged the execution of the Trotskyites only because they stood in the way of his personal ambitions.

Scheffer’s propaganda work in the United States did not end with his arrest after Pearl Harbor. On September 13, 1943, the Sunday edition of the New York Times featured on the front page of its magazine section an article on Germany carrying the byline, “Conrad Long.” The author was described in an editorial note as “a close student of German affairs in the present war.” The article contained the information that “the crops of the Ukraine” had been “allegedly doubled this summer by German methods.”

In reality, there was no “Conrad Long.” That was a pseudonym. The author of the Times article was Paul Scheffer. Following Scheffer’s arrest, certain of his influential American friends had managed to secure his release from internment. They arranged for him to write under a pen name for the Times. They even obtained employment for Scheffer as an expert adviser on German affairs, in the U. S. Office of Strategic Services.

In the spring of 1944 Scheffer was rearrested by agents of the Department of Justice. It was understood that this time Dr.Goebbels’s former special representative would be kept in confinement for the duration of the war.

4. The Dies Committee

In August 1938, just before the signing of the Munich Pact, a Special Congressional Committee to investigate un-American activities was formed in the United States. The Chairman of this Committee was Representative Martin Dies of Texas.

When the Dies Committee was formed, it was assumed the Committee would combat Axis intrigue in the United States.

Instead, the “investigation” carried on by Congressman Dies concentrated on one thing: convincing the American people that their chief and most deadly enemy was Soviet Russia.

The first Chief Investigator appointed by the Dies Committee was a little-known former labor spy and anti-Soviet propagandist named Edward F. Sullivan. Before coming to work for Dies, Sullivan had been associated with the anti-Soviet Ukrainian nationalist movement in America, which took its directives from Hetman Skoropadski and other White Ukrainian émigrés in Berlin. As a young, penniless newspaperman in Boston, Sullivan had been hired to help build anti-Soviet sentiment among Ukrainian-Americans. Although he could not speak one word of Ukrainian, Sullivan began spreading propaganda for an “independent Ukraine.”

Martin Dies’s future Chief Investigator soon became an outstanding figure in the fascist Ukrainian-American movement. As spokesman for the movement, he came into close association with Nazi agents and propagandists, collaborated with them and even publicly identified himself with their cause. On June 5, 1934, Sullivan addressed a meeting of German-American Bund members and uniformed Storm Troops at Thurnhall, Lexington Avenue and 85th Street, New York City. Sullivan was reported to have shouted, “Throw the lousy Jews into the Atlantic Ocean!”

In August 1936, Sullivan was featured as a main speaker at a national conference attended by leading American anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi propagandists which was held at Asheville, North Carolina. Other speakers at the conference were William Dudley Pelley, chief of the Silver Shirts; James True, who was publisher of a fascist bulletin in collaboration with Sullivan; and Ernest F. Elmhurst, alias E. F. Fleischkopf, a Bund member and Nazi agent. The speakers violently attacked Soviet Russia and denounced the Roosevelt Administration as part of a “Jewish Communist plot.” The Asheville press reported that Sullivan’s speech was “what Hitler would have said had he been speaking.”(7)

When liberal America organizations uncovered some of the facts about Sullivan’s unsavory record, Congressman Dies reluctantly dropped Sullivan as his Chief Investigator. “For reasons of economy, said Dies. Sullivan then rejoined the fascist Ukrainian movement and founded the Ukrainian-American Educational Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This organization, which specialized in promoting anti-Soviet agitation among the one million Ukrainian-Americans, was in touch with the German Embassy in Washington. Sullivan continued to co-operate with pro-Nazi and anti-Soviet propagandists throughout the country. “July fourth will be a good date for your party,” wired Coughlin regarding an affair he and Sullivan were arranging together. Despite his official separation from the Dies Committee, Sullivan remained in touch with it as one of its “anti-Communist experts.” On July 27, 1939, Sullivan received a letter from his friend Harry Jung, anti-Soviet and anti-Semitic propagandist in Chicago. Jung wrote: –

One of the Committee investigators has been here for some little while and he has been spending some time with us and we have loaded him up with a lot of startling information.

I really hope that the co-operation between our respective offices will be complete, satisfying and reciprocal…

Sullivan’s place as Dies’s chief aide and adviser on the Committee to investigate un-American activities was taken by J. B. Matthews, a renegade from the American radical movement. Matthews’s writings were widely publicized and distributed by leading American fascists and Axis agents. The Nazi Propaganda Ministry recommended his work. Articles by Matthews appeared in Contra-Komintern, an organ of Alfred Rosenberg’s Aussen-politisches Amt.

Week after week, in the marble-columned caucus room in the old House Office Building in Washington, a macabre procession of ex-convicts, labor spies, foreign agents and racketeers were solemnly paraded before the Dies Committee as “expert witnesses” to testify that Moscow agents were plotting to overthrow the government of the United States. These were some of the “anti-Communist” witnesses: –

Alvin Halpern: on the second day of his testimony, a District of Columbia Court sentenced him to a term of two years’ imprisonment for the crime of larceny; his testimony was included nevertheless in the public records of the Dies Committee.

Peter J. Innes: a labor spy who had been expelled from the National Maritime Union for stealing $500 from the union treasury; he was subsequently sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for attempted rape of a small child.

William C. McCuiston: an organizer of strong-arm squads for attacking trade-unionists; he testified before the Dies Committee while under indictment for the murder of Philip Carey, a labor leader who was shot and clubbed to death in New Orleans; subsequently acquitted on murder charge.

William Nowell: a labor spy, who was confidential adviser to the fascist leader, Gerald L. K. Smith, ex-Silver Shirter No. 3223.

Richard Krebs, alias Jan Valtin: ex-convict and confessed former Gestapo agent.(8)

“General” Walter G. Krivitsky, alias Samuel Ginsberg, a self-styled “GPU agent” under Yagoda, who had fled to the United States, where he published a lurid anti-Soviet autobiography.(9)

The files of Martin Dies soon overflowed with the names of supposedly dangerous “Bolsheviks.” At frequent intervals the Congressman from Texas would dramatically announce that he had uncovered a nationwide Fifth Column operating under directions from Moscow.

In 1940, Congressman Dies published a book to popularize the “findings” of his Committee. Entitled The Trojan Horse in America: A Report to the Nation, Dies’s book was chiefly devoted to anti-Soviet propaganda. While German-American Bundists and Christian Fronters were staging pro-Nazi mass demonstrations in American cities as spearheads of the Nazi Fifth Column, Congressman Dies pictured Stalin “at the head of 150 divisions of uniformed Soviet troops” invading the United States. Dies declared that, in fact, “Moscow agents” had already begun “the Soviet invasion of the United States.” (10)

Two days after the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union, Dies predicted, “Hitler will be in control of Russia in thirty days.” The Congressman denounced the idea of sending aid to the Red Army. “American aid to Russia is foolish,” he declared, “because Germans will only get the equipment anyway.” He warned that “the very great danger exists that our government, by its aid to Russia, has opened up for Stalin a new Western Front right here in the capital of America.”

In a letter to President Roosevelt, written on October 2, 1941, shortly after the President had proclaimed that the defense of the Soviet Union was vital to the defense of America, Dies announced his intention of continuing his anti-Soviet propaganda campaign. “I intend, Mr. President,” wrote Dies, “to seize every opportunity to let the American people know that the similarities between Stalin and Hitler are far more striking than their differences.”

Even after the United States and Soviet Russia became military allies, Martin Dies continued his anti-Soviet campaign. On March 29, 1942, Henry Wallace, Vice-President of the United States, declared: –

If we were at peace, these tactics could be overlooked as the product of a witchcraft mind. We are not at peace, however. We are at war, and the doubts and angst which this and similar statements of Mr. Dies tend to arouse in the public mind might as well come from Goebbels himself as far as their practical effect is concerned. ‘As a matter of fact, the effect on our morale would be less damaging if Mr. Dies were on the Hitler payroll… We Americans must face the implications of this ugly truth.

5. Lone Eagle

Late in 1940, as Hitler was completing the enslavement of Europe and preparing for his coming showdown with the Red Army, a strange phenomenon appeared on the American political scene. It was called the America First Committee. During the following year, on a national scale, through the medium of press, radio, mass rallies, street-corner meetings and every other kind of promotional device, the America First Committee energetically spread anti-Soviet, anti-British and isolationist propaganda among the American people.

The original leaders of the America First Committee included General Robert E. Wood; Henry Ford; Colonel Robert R. McCormick; Senators Burton K. Wheeler, Gerald P. Nye and Robert Rice Reynolds; Representatives Hamilton Fish, Clare E. Hoffman and Stephen Day; and Katherine Lewis, the daughter of John L. Lewis.

The leading woman spokesman for the Committee was the ex-aviatrix and socialite Laura Ingalls; she was subsequently convicted as a paid agent of the Nazi Government. Behind the scenes, another Nazi agent, George Sylvester Viereck, was writing much of the propaganda which America First publicists were circulating. Ralph Townsend, later convicted as a Japanese agent, headed a branch of the America First Committee on the West Coast and was a member of the editorial board of the Committee’s propaganda organs, Scribner’s Commentator and the Herald.(11) Werner C. von Clemm, later convicted of smuggling diamonds into the United States in collusion with the German High Command, served as an incognito strategist and financial supporter of the New York branch of the America First Committee. Frank B. Burch, subsequently convicted of having received $10,000 from the Nazi Government for illegal propaganda services in the United States, was one of the founders of the Akron, Ohio, branch of the Committee.

In July 1942 a Department of Justice indictment listed the America First Committee as an agency which had been used in a conspiracy to undermine the morale of the United States armed forces…

By far the most prominent leader and spokesman of the America First Committee was the famous American aviator, Charles A. Lindbergh, who had already distinguished himself as a pro-Nazi and anti-Soviet agitator in Europe and America.

Lindbergh had paid his first visit to Germany in the summer of 1936. He traveled as a guest of the Nazi Government. The Nazis held impressive ceremonies in Lindbergh’s honor and extended many special favors to him. High Nazi officials personally conducted him on a private “inspection tour” of German war plants and air bases. Lindbergh was deeply impressed with Nazi Germany.

At the lavish parties given for him by Field Marshal Hermann Goering and other Nazi bigwigs, Lindbergh expressed his conviction that the German Air Force was unbeatable. “German aviation ranks higher than that in any other country,” he told the Luftwaffe ace, General Ernst Udet. “It is invincible!”

“Wonder what the hell is the matter with that American?” the German air commander, General Bruno Loerzer, remarked to the political journalist, Bella Fromm. “He’ll scare the wits out of the Yankees with his talk about the invincible Luftwaffe. That’s exactly what the boys here want him to do.”

“He’s going to be the best promotion campaign we could possibly invest in,” said Axel von Blomberg, the son of the Nazi Minister of War, after attending a party given for Lindbergh in 1936.

Two years later, in the crucially decisive days preceding the Munich Pact, Lindbergh visited the Soviet Union. He was there only a few days. On his return, he immediately began spreading the word that the Red Army was hopelessly ill-equipped, badly trained and wretchedly commanded. He asserted that Soviet Russia would be useless as a partner in any military alliance against Nazi Germany. In his opinion, Lindbergh declared, it was necessary to co-operate with, not against, the Nazis.

Lindbergh’s black and orange plane became a familiar sight on the airfields of Europe’s anxious capitals as he flew from one country to another, advocating the formation of political and economic alliances with the Third Reich…

As the Munich negotiations got under way, small select groups of anti-Soviet British businessmen, aristocrats and politicians gathered at Lady Astor’s estate at Cliveden to hear Lindbergh’s views or the European situation. Lindbergh spoke of Germany’s vast air power, swiftly expanding war production and brilliant military leadership. The Nazis, he repeated again and again, were invincible. He recommended that France and Great Britain come to terms with Hitler and “permit Germany to expand eastward into Russia without declaring war.” (12)

A series of intimate conferences were arranged for Lindbergh with British Members of Parliament and various key political figures. Among them was David Lloyd George, who subsequently had this to say about the American flyer: –

He was in Russia, I think, about a week. He had not seen any of the great leaders of Russia, he could not have seen much of the air force, and he came back and told us that the Russian army was no good, that Russian factories were in an awful mess. And there were a great many who believed it – except Hitler.

Lloyd George’s conversation with Lindbergh left the former Prime Minister with the conviction, as he put it, that the American flyer was “the agent and the tool of much more astute and sinister men than himself.”

From the Soviet Union came the same accusation in more specific language. A group of outstanding Soviet flyers published a statement in Moscow accusing Lindbergh of circulating the “colossal lie” that “Germany possesses such a strong air force it is capable of defeating the combined air fleets of England, France, Russia and Czechoslovakia.” The Soviet airmen went on to say: –

Lindbergh plays the role of a stupid liar, lackey and flatterer of German Fascists and their English aristocratic protectors. He had an order from English reactionary circles to prove the weakness of Soviet aviation and give Chamberlain an argument for capitulation at Munich in connection with Czechoslovakia.

Three weeks after the signing of the Munich Pact, the Government of the Third Reich demonstrated its official appreciation of the services Lindbergh had rendered Nazi Germany. On the evening of October 18, 1938, at a dinner given in Lindbergh’s honor in Berlin, Field Marshal Goering conferred on the American flyer one of Germany’s highest decorations, the Order of the German Eagle…

Having lived abroad for three and a half years, Lindbergh returned to the United States shortly before the outbreak of war in 1939.

As soon as the Nazis invaded Poland, and Great Britain and France declared war on Germany, Lindbergh rushed into print with an urgent pronunciamento: the war against Germany was the wrong war; the right war lay to the east. In an article entitled “Aviation, Geography and Race,” in the November issue of Reader’s Digest, in language startlingly reminiscent of Alfred Rosenberg, Lindbergh declared: –

We, the heirs of European culture, are on the verge of a disastrous war, a war within our own family of nations, a war which will reduce the strength and destroy the treasures of the white race… Asia presses toward us on the Russian border, all foreign races stir relentlessly… We can have peace and security only so long as we band together or preserve that most priceless possession our inheritance of European blood, only so long as we guard ourselves against attack by foreign armies, and dilution by foreign races.

During 1940 Lindbergh identified himself more and more closely with the isolationist, anti-Soviet, and frequently pro-Axis movement that was then mushrooming on the American scene. He became the leading spokesman for the isolationist No Foreign Wars Committee and the idol of the U. S. Fifth Column.(18)

That fall Lindbergh addressed a small group of students at Yale University. “We must make our peace with the new powers in Europe,” Lindbergh told them.

The meeting at Yale University had been arranged by a wealthy young student named R. Douglas Stuart, Jr., who was heir to the Quaker Oats fortune. Shortly afterwards, Stuart’s group was incorporated in Chicago, Illinois, under the name of the America First Committee…

Speaking at huge rallies staged throughout the country by the America First Committee and over coast-to-coast radio hookups, Lindbergh told the American people that Soviet Russia and not Nazi Germany was their real enemy. The war “between Germany on the one side and England and France on the other side,” warned Lindbergh, could only result “either in a German victory or in a prostrate and devastated Europe.” The war must be converted into a united offensive against the Soviet Union.(14)

The entire America First publicity apparatus was put to work in a nationwide campaign protesting the sending of Lend-Lease aid to the Soviet Union. Charles E. Lindbergh, Representative Hamilton Fish, Senators Burton K. Wheeler and Gerald P. Nye and other Congressional spokesmen for the America First Committee denounced aid to the Red Army and declared that the fate of Soviet Russia was of no concern to the United States.

Herbert Hoover took a part in the campaign. On August 5, together with John L. Lewis, Hanford MacNider, and thirteen other leading isolationists, the former President issued a public statement protesting the “promise of unauthorized aid to Russia and other such belligerent moves. The statement declared: –

Recent events raise doubts that this war is a clear-cut issue of liberty and democracy. It is not purely a world conflict between tyranny and freedom. The Anglo-Russian alliance has dissipated that illusion.”

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the America First Committee was officially disbanded. Its chairman, General Wood, pledged the support of the America First membership to the United States war effort against Germany and Japan. Lindbergh retired from the American public scene, and entered the employment of Henry Ford as a technical consultant to the Ford Motor Company.

But the anti-Soviet America First propaganda went on…

When the Red Army began its great counteroffensives in Russia, the former America First spokesmen, who had shortly before announced that Russia was smashed, now declared that Moscow and its “Comintern agents” were about to “communize” all of Europe.(16) When the Red Army approached its western borders, the America Firsters predicted that Soviet troops would not cross the frontier but would make a “separate peace” with Nazi Germany, leaving Britain and the United States to fight on alone. When the Red Army crossed its border, the America Firsters again raised the cry of a Europe “dominated by Moscow.”…

Three of the most influential newspaper publishers in the United States, who had formerly sponsored the America First Committee, continued to spread vicious anti-Soviet propaganda even after the United States and Soviet Russia were allied in the war against Nazi Germany. These three publishers -William Randolph Hearst, Captain Joseph M. Patterson, and Colonel Robert R. McCormick- printed for their many millions of readers an endless series of articles and editorials designed to arouse suspicion and antagonism against America’s ally, the Soviet Union.

Here are some typical passages from their newspapers during the war: –

You know we cannot expect too much of Russia. The bear that walks like a man does not always think like a man. There is always in the Russian mental processes the suggestion of the brutal selfishness and utter untrustworthiness of this wild animal which is her symbol. – Hearst’s New York Journal-American, March 30, 1942

Summarizing the various war fronts, matters seem to be progressing very favorably in Russia – for RUSSIA. Of course, Russia is not a full partner of the United Nations. She is a semi-partner of the Axis. Hearst’s New York Journal-American, March 30, 1942

What Stalin is getting at is this: He is preparing the way for a separate peace with Germany at the moment when he considers that this is good policy. He lays the ground for it by accusing the allies of not living up to their agreements. Therefore he is released from any that he may have made. He may not need this excuse. It is there if he wants it. He has prepared the ground. – McCormick’s Chicago Tribune, August 10, 1943

If Stalin can get more out of Germany with less trouble than he can get from his so-called allies later, what would a supremely self-centered man, to whom perfidy is a natural habit, choose? The whole career of the Georgian tenant of the Kremlin has been a turbulent stream of self-interest unscrupulously flowing from sources of natural cupidity to the objects desired. – McCormick’s Chicago Tribune, August 24, 1943

Which will smell better – a Russian Europe or a German Europe? – Patterson’s Daily News, August 27, 1943

It is ridiculous to plan to preserve peace with the aid of Russia. Russia invaded poor Finland and Poland, and was ready to pounce on Germany with England’s sanction, only Hitler beat her to it. – Letter of November 2, 1943, from a series of similar letters printed regularly in Patterson’s New York Daily News

President Roosevelt warned on April 28, 1942, that the war effort “must not be impeded by a few bogus patriots who use the sacred freedom of the press to echo the sentiments of the propagandists in Tokyo and Berlin.”

On November 8, 1943, at a Madison Square Garden meeting celebrating the tenth anniversary of U. S.-Soviet diplomatic relations, Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes issued a scathing denunciation of the anti-Soviet propaganda campaign which was still being carried on without interruption by Hearst, Patterson and McCormick. The outspoken Secretary of the Interior declared: –

Unfortunately there are powerful and active forces in this country that are deliberately fostering ill will toward Russia. … Let me simply mention, as an example, the Hearst press and the Patterson-McCormick newspaper axis, particularly the latter…If these newspaper publishers hate Russia and Great Britain, their hate of their own country is more than libertine… They must hate their own country and despise its institutions if, deliberately, they pursue an intention to stir up hate for the two nations whose help we must have if we are to defeat Hitler…

In the fall of 1944, as Nazi Germany faced imminent defeat as a result of the combined offensives of the armies of the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union, a renewed call to arms against Soviet Russia was heard in the United States.

From Rome, the recently liberated capital of Italy, William C. Bullitt, the former Ambassador to Moscow and Paris, called for a new anti-Soviet alliance to save Western civilization from the menace of “Soviet imperialism.”

The career of William C. Bullitt had followed a familiar pattern…

In 1919, Bullitt had been one of Woodrow Wilson’s emissaries to Soviet Russia. Fifteen years later, in 1934, he became the first American Ambassador to Soviet Russia. Wealthy, ambitious, with a flair for diplomatic intrigue, Bullitt formed friendly relations with a number of the Russian Trotskyites. He began to talk of the necessity for Soviet Russia to surrender Vladivostok to Japan and to make concessions to Nazi Germany in the Welt. In 1935, Bullitt visited Berlin. William E. Dodd, then American Ambassador to Germany, recorded in his diplomatic Welt diary: –

Coming through Berlin in the spring or summer of 1935, he (Bullitt) reported to me that he was sure Japan would attack eastern Russia within six months and he expected that Japan would take all the Far Eastern end of Russia.

Bullitt said Russia had no business trying to hold the peninsula which projects into the Japanese sea at Vladivostok. That is all going to be taken soon by Japan. I said: You agree that if the Germans have their way Russia with 160,000,000 people shall be denied access to the Pacific, and be excluded from the Baltic? He said: “Oh, that makes no difference.”… I was amazed at this kind of talk from a responsible diplomat…

At luncheon with the French Ambassador, he repeated his hostile attitude and argued at length with the French for the defeat of the Franco-Soviet peace pact then being negotiated, which the English Ambassador reported to me was the best possible guarantee of European peace… Later, or about the same time, when the new Italian Ambassador came here directly from Moscow, we were told that Bullitt had become attracted to Fascism before leaving Moscow.

On January 27, 1937, Ambassador Dodd recorded: –

Recently reports have come to me that American banks are contemplating large new credits and loans to Italy and Germany whose war machines are already large enough to threaten the peace of the world. I have even heard, but it seems unbelievable to me, that Mr. Bullitt is lending encouragement to these schemes.

In 1940, after the fall of France, Bullitt returned from France to the United States to announce that Marshal Petain was a “patriot” who, by surrendering to Nazism, had thereby saved his country from Communism.

Four years later, as the Second World War was drawing to its close, Bullitt reappeared on the European continent as a “correspondent” for Life magazine. From Rome he sent a sensational article to Life, which was published in that periodical on September 4, 1944. Purporting to give the opinions of certain anonymous “Romans,” Bullitt repeated the anti-Soviet propaganda which for twenty years had been utilized by international Fascism in its drive for world conquest. Bullitt wrote: –

The Romans expect the Soviet Union to dominate Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia… They expect that, besides eastern Poland, the Russians will also annex East Prussia, including Konigsberg… A sad joke going the rounds in Rome gives the spirit of their [the “Romans”] hope: What is an optimist? A man who believes that the third world war will begin in about 15 years between the Soviet Union and western Europe backed by Great Britain and the U. S. What is a pessimist? A man who believes that western Europe, Great Britain and the U. S. will not dare to fight.

Bullitt asserted that the menace against which Western civilization must unite was Moscow and its “Communist agents.”

It was the same cry with which, a quarter of a century before, at the close of the First World War, Captain Sidney George Reilly had sought to rally counterrevolution throughout the world.(17)

But profound changes had taken place in the world.

Even as William C. Bullitt was calling for a new crusade against Soviet Russia, the armies of Great Britain and the United States and the Soviet Union were converging from east, west, north and south upon the citadel of counterrevolution – Berlin.

In the face of the threat of Fascist slavery and against the most reactionary force which the world had ever seen, the Western democracies had found their most powerful ally in the state which had been born out of the Russian Revolution. The alliance was no accident. The inexorable logic of events, after a quarter of century of tragic misunderstanding and artificially incited hostility, had inevitably brought together and forged into a fighting unity the freedom-loving peoples of the world. Out of the unparalleled bloodshed and suffering of the Second World War emerged the United Nations.


1. Associated with Rybakoff as a contributor to Rossiya was the ex-agent of the Ochrana and anti-Semitic propagandist, Boris Brasol, who (?)up the first anti-Soviet White Russian organization in the United (?) shortly after the Russian Revolution and who had obtained wide distribution in America for The Protocols of Zion. (See page 145.)

Brasol had never lost hope in the restitution of Czarism in Russia. During the 1920’s and 1930’s he campaigned tirelessly in the United States against the Soviet Union, organizing White Russian anti-Soviet societies, writing articles and books attacking Soviet Russia, and supplying U. S. Government agencies with anti-Soviet forgeries. On November 15, 1935, at a small secret meeting in New York City of leading representatives of anti-Soviet White Russian organizations, Brasol spent more than an hour reporting on his “anti-Soviet work” since his arrival in the United States in 1916; at this meeting he referred with special pride to his “own modest work” in helping prevent recognition of the Soviet Union by the United States before 1933.

Promoting himself as an authority on Russia law, Brasol became a legal consultant for the law firm of Coudert Brothers of New York City. He was employed by U. S. Government agencies to give “expert advice” on matters relating to Soviet Russia. He gave lectures on Russian literature and similar subjects at Columbia University and other well-known American educational institutes. In every way, Brasol used his many influential contacts to promote suspicion and hostility against Soviet Russia.

When the isolationist and anti-Soviet American First Committee was formed in the fall of 1940, Brasol immediately became one of its most active supporters. He prepared large amounts of anti-Soviet propaganda literature for distribution by the Committee, and his articles were featured in America First publications. Among the propaganda material provided by Brasol to the America First Committee, and widely circulated by that organization, was a leaflet published after the Nazi invasion of the U.S.S.R., in protest against American Lend-Lease aid to Russia. The leaflet featured a “Declaration of the Russian Emigrant Colony in Shanghai,” signed by twenty-one White Guard organizations in the Far East, all of which were operating under the supervision of the Japanese Government. Among the organizations listed was the Russian Fascist Union, headed by Konstantin Rodsaevesky, aide-in-chief to Ataman Grigori Semyonov.

in June 1940, Vonsiatsky informed a reporter from the newsletter, the Now, that he and Leon Trotsky had “parallel interests” in their struggle against the Soviet regime.

3. Fascist White Russians were not the only Russian émigrés carrying on anti-Soviet agitation in the United States. A number of former Russian Mensheviks, Social Revolutionaries and other anti-Soviet political elements had come to America and had made the United States the headquarters for their continued intrigue or propaganda activities against Soviet Russia. Typical of these émigrés were Victor Chernov, Raphael Abramovitch, Nikifor Grigorieff and Nathan Chanin.

In Czarist Russia, Victor Chernov had been one of the leaders of the Social Revolutionary movement. As such, he had been intimately associated with two other Social Revolutionary leaders: the extraordinary Czarist agent provocateur and assassin, Ievno Aseff; and the anti-Soviet conspirator and assassin, Boris Savinkov. In his book Memoirs of a Terrorist, Savinkor describes how he went to Geneva in 1903 to consult with Chernov about the plans for assassinating the Czarist Minister of Interior, Von Plehve. Savinkov also tells how he and Aseff went before the Central Committee of the Social Revolutionary Terrorist Brigade in 1906 to get out of their assignment to assassinate Premier Stolypin. “The Central Committee,” (?) Savinkov, “declined to grant our request and ordered us to continue the work against Stolypin… Present, in addition to Aseff and myself, was Tchernov [Chernov], Natanson, Sletov, Kraft and Pankratov.” After the collapse of Czarism, Chernov became Minister of Agriculture in the (?)


Provisional Government. He carried on a bitter fight against Lenin and the Bolsheviks. Following the establishment of the Soviet Government, he helped organize Social Revolutionary plots against the Soviet regime. Leaving Russia in the early 1920’s, he became one of the most active anti-Soviet propagandists among the Russian émigrés and a leader of anti-Soviet activity in Prague, Berlin, Paris and other European capitals. At the beginning of the Second World War, he came from France to the United States of America, he continued his anti-Soviet propaganda and organizational operations. He worked closely with anti-Soviet Socialist elements in the American labor movement. On March 30, 1943, David Dubinsky, President of the (?) Ladies’ Garment Workers, introduced Chernov as a guest of (?) at a rally in New York City protesting the execution by the Soviet authorities of Henry Erlich and Victor Alter, two Polish Socialists who had been found guilty by the Military Collegium of the Soviet Supreme court of spreading disruptive propaganda in the Red Army and urging the Soviet troops to make peace with the Germans.

Associated with Victor Chernov in his anti-Soviet activity in the United States was Raphael Abramovitch, the former Russian Menshevik leader who, according to testimony given at the Menshevik trial in March 1931, was a leading member of the espionage-sabotage ring then plotting the over throw of the Soviet Government. (See page 171.) After carrying on anti-Soviet activities in Berlin and London, Abramovitch came to the United States and settled down in New York City, where he, like Victor (?); formed close working relations with David Dubinsky and other Socialist labor leaders. His violent attacks on Soviet Russia appeared in the New Leader, the New York Forward and other anti-Soviet publications.

Nikifor Grigorieff, an anti-Soviet Ukrainian émigré and former leading member of the Ukrainian Social Revolutionary Party, came to the United States in 1939. As a prominent anti-Soviet propagandist in émigré circles in Europe, Grigorieff had worked closely with Victor Chernov. In Prague, Grigorieff was an editor of a magazine called Suspilstvo (Community), which published propaganda claiming that “Soviet Russia and the Soviet Ukraine are in the hands of the Jews” and advocating a “great anti-Jewish struggle… on the territory of the Ukraine, White Russia, Lithuania and Poland.” After he came to the United States, Grigorieff continued his anti-Soviet activities. Following the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Grigorieff and Chernov helped form a “Committee for the Promotion of Democracy” in New York City, which called for the “liberation” from the U.S.S.R. of the Ukraine and other Soviet republics. Among the propaganda material distributed by Grigorieff in the United States was a booklet entitled Basic Principles of Independent Ukrainian Political Action, which contained “statistics” to show that Jews “dominate” industry, finance and politics in the Soviet Ukraine. In this same booklet Grigorieff advocated the desertion of soldiers from the Red Army, urging that they “not risk their lives for their oppressors. ”

Also prominent among the “left-wing” anti-Soviet Russian émigrés in the United States was Nathan Chanin, Educational Director of the Workmen’s Circle and regular contributor to the anti-Soviet Forward. In the early 1930’s Chanin published propaganda appealing for funds to finance “the secret Social Democratic cells now at work in Russia” and “the difficult struggle our comrades carry on in Russia against Bolshevism.. In January 1942 Chanin wrote, “The last shot has not yet been fired… And the last shot will be fired from free America – and from that shot the Stalin regime, too, will be shot to pieces.”

4. In 1933 a central agency to direct the International anti-Soviet agitation was set up by Alfred Rosenberg in Berlin. It was called the International Committee to Combat the Menace of Bolshevism – the original form of the

Anti-Comintern. Affiliates included: –

General League of German Anti-Communist Associations, Anti-Communist Bloc of South America, Anti-Communist Union of the Province of North China European Anti-Communist League

American Section of the International Committee to Combat the World Menace of Communism

5. Japanese agents were also active in spreading anti-Soviet propaganda in the United States. A typical case was that of John C. Le Clair, assistant personnel director of the International Telephone Company and former history instructor at New York City College and St. Francis College in Brooklyn. As an accepted authority on the Far East, Le Clair wrote numerous articles for well-known American periodicals, in which he praised Japan and declared that Soviet Russia represented the real menace to the United States. He also edited a column called “Comments and Forecasts,” which contained similar propaganda and was distributed to 200 newspapers and periodicals throughout the country. Characteristic of Le Clair’s articles was one which appeared in the September 1940 issue of the magazine America under the title “No Friendship Wanted Between the United States and the USSR.” Arrested by FBI agents in the fall of 1943, Le Clair pleaded guilty in a New York Federal court on September 8 to having served as a secret paid propaganda agent of the Japanese government for a three-year period ending a few months prior to Pearl Harbor.

6. To those of his influential friends abroad who still considered him a liberal journalist and who were deeply surprised at his return to Germany, Scheffer confidentially explained that he was undertaking some (space here that shouldn’t be, a hard return perhaps?)

anti-Nazi mission in the Third Reich. With an eye toward his future work, Scheffer wanted to maintain his useful associations in foreign circles. Strangely enough, many of his friends believed his story.

Among those whom Scheffer failed to convince of his anti-Nazi sentiments was the anti-fascist American Ambassador to Germany, the late William E. Dodd. On November 15, 1936, Dr. Dodd wrote in his diary the following notation about Scheffer: “I have been watchful of this Scheffer who was a Social Democrat a few years ago, was several years in the United States as correspondent for the German press and is now a good Nazi.”

(7) American taxpayers who paid Sullivan’s salary while he was Chief Investigator of un-American activities for the Dies Committee might have been interested in Sullivan’s police record: –


Place of Offense




Charlestown, Mass.



Driving so as to endanger



Fined $25

Driving without license



Fined $25

Driving so as to endanger



Placed on file




6 mos. House of Correction; appealed




-prossed Superior Court 4/12/32

Operating after license



Filed suspended

Violation of Section 690

New York City


Acquitted of the penal law

(Sodomy)Arrested on charges of im-



Charges (this should follow ‘charges’ as the ‘im’ goes with ‘personating’) personating FBI officer

8. In January 1941, when the German High Command was completing its preparations for the attack on the Soviet Union, a sensational anti-Soviet book was published in the United States entitled Out of the Night. The author’s name was given as Jan Valtin.

“Jan Valtin” was one of the several aliases of Richard Krebs, a former Gestapo agent. His other aliases were Richard Anderson, Richard Peterson, Richard Williams, Rudolf Heller and Otto Melchior.

Krebs’s book, Out of the Night, purported to be the confession of a Communist, “Jan Valtin,” who had been traveling about the world carrying out sinister assignments for Moscow. The author described in lurid detail the criminal conspiracies which had supposedly been engineered by “Bolshevik agents” against world democracy. The author related how after ten years of criminal service “for the Conmintern,” including an attempted murder in California in 1926, he had begun to have “doubts about the desirability and the purpose of the Communist Party.” Finally, so his story went, he had decided to make a complete break with Moscow and tell all…

Krebs arrived in the United States in February 1938. He brought with him from Europe the manuscript of Out of the Night, which bore a startling resemblance to an anti-Soviet propaganda book which was being currently circulated in Nazi Germany. In preparing the book for publication in the United States, Krebs was assisted by the American journalist Isaac Don Levine, a veteran anti-Soviet propagandist and a regular contributor to the Hearst press.

Aided by an unprecedented promotional campaign, Out of the Night became a sensational best-seller. The Book-of-the-Month Club distributed 165,000 copies among its readers. Reader’s Digest published a lengthy condensation with the comment that the autobiography had been “carefully authenticated by the publishers.” In two consecutive issues Life magazine quoted extensive sections from the book. Few books in the history of American publishing received the promotional ballyhoo and expensive advertising lavished on Out of the Night.

While a number of book reviewers were openly skeptical about the book, others, well-known for their anti-Soviet sentiments, showered praises on Krebs’s work. Freda Utley, anti-Soviet newspaperwoman writing in the Saturday Review of Literature, described the book in these words: “No other book more clearly reveals the aid which Stalin gave to Hitler before he won power, and which he must be giving him today.” Sidney Hook, an admirer of Trotsky, declared in the New Leader, organ of the so-called Social Democratic Federation: “As a sheer story it is so compelling in its breath-taking sequences that it could never be accepted as fiction, for it violates all the canons of fictional credibility.” William Henry Chamberlin, whose anti-Soviet interpretation of the Moscow Trials had appeared in the Tokyo propaganda organ, Contemporary Japan, urged in the New York Sunday Times Book Supplement that “Valtin” become “a valuable assistant to those United States agencies which are engaged in combating espionage, sabotage and other illegal, foreign inspired activities.” Max Eastman, Eugene Lyons, and others of the anti-Soviet, pro-Trotsky literary clique in America excitedly hailed the “historic expose” by the former Gestapo agent.

“Jan Valtin” became a national figure. He was invited to testify as an anti-Soviet expert before the Dies Committee.

On March 28, 1941, Krebs was served with a warrant of arrest as an undesirable and deportable alien. The subsequent Federal hearings established that Krebs had been found guilty of attempted murder in California in 1926 and had served thirty-nine months in San Quentin. The Los Angela court records showed that this crime, which Krebs had portrayed in Out of the Night as a Comintern assignment, had resulted from an argument over a bill which Krebs owed a small merchant. Explaining in court why he had tried to kill the merchant, Krebs said, “The Jew made me mad.”

The Federal hearings also revealed that Krebs had been deported from the United States in December 1929 and that in 1938, as in 1926, he had entered the United States illegally. In addition, the hearings established that in 1934 Krebs had acted as a witness for the Nazi Government in securing a treason conviction against a fellow seaman. As for his connection with the German Communist Party, from which he had been expelled, Krebs admitted that he had “penetrated the organization.”

The U. S. Immigration Court stated in its findings: “Within the past five years the subject has been considered an agent of Nazi Germany. On the record before us it appears he has been completely untrustworthy and amoral.”

The exposure of Krebs as a former Nazi agent and convicted criminal received little publicity. Later, endorsed and vouched for by his influential anti-Soviet American friends, Krebs was given a clear bill of health by U. S. Immigration authorities as a reformed individual and was granted American citizenship papers. Out of the Night remained on public library bookshelves throughout the country and continued to spread its anti-Soviet message among tens of thousands of Americans.

9. According to Louis Waldman, who was Krivitsky’s American attorney, Krivitsky’s entry into the United States had been “sponsored by William C Bullitt, ambassador to France:’ For comment on Bullitt’s anti-Soviet activities see page 374.

10. Pro-Axis and anti-Soviet elements in the United States enthusiastically supported the work of Congressman Martin Dies. On December 8. 1939. Merwin K. Hart, the leading American spokesman for the Spanish Fascist regime of Generalissimo Franco, gave a banquet in New York City at which Dies was the guest of honor. Among those attending the banquet were John B. Trevor, Archibald E. Stevenson and Fritz Kuhn, head of the German American Bund. When newspapermen asked Kuhn what he thought of the Dies Committee, he replied: “I am in favor of it being appointed again and I wish them to get more money.”

Here are some other comments by anti-Soviet agitators on the work of the Dies Committee: –

I have the highest respect for the Dies Committee and sympathize with its program. – George Sylvester Viereck, Nazi agent, sentenced on February 21, 1942, to serve eight months to two years in prison

I founded the Silver Legion in 1933… to propagandize exactly the same principles that Mr. Dies and his Committee are engaged in prosecuting right now.-William Dudley Pelley, leader of the pro-Nazi Silver Shirts, sentenced on August 13, 1942, to fifteen years’ imprisonment for criminal sedition; again indicted in 1944 on charges of participating in a Nazi conspiracy against America

In your appreciation of the work accomplished by Dies employ some of your leisure moments to write him a letter of encouragement. In fact a million letters, brought to his desk would be an answer to those who are bent on destroying him and the legislative body he represents. – Father Charles E. Coughlin, pro-Nazi propagandist, founder of the Christian From and of Social Justice, which in 1942 was banned from the U. S mails as seditious

Berlin itself openly expressed enthusiastic approval of Dies’s anti-Soviet work in the United States. The short-wave monitoring system of the Federal Communication Commission reported in the winter of 1941 that Representative Martin Dies was the American “most frequently and approvingly” quoted on Axis short-wave broadcasts beamed to the Western Hemisphere.

11. The editors of the Herald operated short-wave receivers which were kept tuned day and night to Hitler-dominated Europe and to Japan. Official Axis propaganda, received in this manner, was incorporated into the Herald and into Scribner’s Commentator.

The Herald and Scribner’s Commentator were distributed throughout the United States free of charge, handed out at America First Committee rallies and circulated on a mass scale to specially prepared America First mailing lists supplied by Charles E. Lindbergh, Hamilton Fish, Charles E. Coughlin, Senator Burton K. Wheeler, and the Nazi agents Frank Burch, George Sylvester Viereck and others.

12. Describing his activities during this period, Lindbergh told an America First Committee rally in the United States on October 30, 1941: “By 1938 I had come to the conclusion that if a war occurred between Germany on the one side and England and France on the other it would result either in a German victory or in a prostrate and devastated Europe. I therefore advocated that England and France… permit Germany to expand onward into Russia without declaring war.”

12.13. 13. In 1937, John C. Metcalfe, a reporter for the Chicago Daily Times and later a Federal agent, had recorded the following statement made to him by Hermann Schwarzmann, leader of the Astoria, Long Island, unit of the German American Bund: “You know who might become the Fuehrer of our great political party? Lindbergh! Yes, that is not so far-fetched as you might think. You know he could carry the public with him very easily. The Americans like him… Yes, there are a lot of things being planned the public knows nothing about as yet.”

14. The Nazi invasion of Soviet Russia was enthusiastically hailed by the America First Committee. The America First mouthpiece, the Herald, carried this headline: –

Europe Masses to Fight Russian Communists. Seventeen Nations Join the German Reich in Holy Crusade against the U.S.S.R.

Soviet Russia’s defeat by Nazi Germany was pictured as being in the interest of the United States. The August 1, 1941, issue of the America First Research Bureau Bulletin stated: –

“Did you know that even if Nazi Germany conquers Communist Russia, the enlarged German economy may be weakened rather than strengthened?”

15. On October 30, 1941, with the Nazis nearing Moscow, an America First Rally at Madison Square Garden, New York City, was addressed by John Cudahy, the former captain with the American interventionist army in Archangel who, subsequently, as American Ambassador to Belgium, adopted a pro-German stand which forced his recall from that post. Cudahy urged that the United States Government initiate an international “peace conference” which would include Nazi Germany. Cudahy declared that “those in positions of authority in the Nazi Government realize the great threat of American potential war power. Von Ribbentrop told me this when I saw him in Berlin five months ago.” Cudahy added that this would be a good bargaining point in “peace negotiations” with the Nazis. “They say there can be no peace with Hitler. But Hitler is only a passing phase…” said Cudahy. “We have in this country a great European expert and a man of purest patriotic motives, Herbert Hoover… Let us put Mr. Hoover to work on a plan for a permanent peace settlement.”

The invocation at the America First Rally which Cudahy addressed was given by a Reverend George Albert Simons. Before the Russian Revolution, this Reverend Mr. Simons had been a pastor at a Protestant missionary church in St. Petersburg. There he had become friendly with Boris Brasol, the anti-Semitic propagandist who was to play a major role in distributing the Protocols of Zion in America. In February 1919 Mr. Simons testified before the Senate Committee investigating “Bolshevism.” Here is an excerpt from Mr. Simons’s testimony: “More than half of the agitators in the so-called Bolshevik movement were Yiddish. This thing [the Russian Revolution] is Yiddish and one of its bases is to be found in the East Side of New York.” Mr. Simons recommended the Protocols of Zion as a valuable source of information about the Revolution. He said: “… it shows what this secret Jewish society has been doing to make a conquest of the world… and finally to have the whole world, if you please, in their grip, and now, in that book ever so many things are said with regard to their program and methods which dovetail into the Bolshevik regime.’

16. On May 22, 1943, the Comintern, or Communist International, was formally dissolved. In a special article for the United Press, the former American Ambassador to the Soviet Union, Joseph E. Davies, summed up the dissolution of the Comintern as follows: “To the well-informed in the Foreign Offices of the world this action did not come as a surprise. It was simply placing the cap on the pedestal, to complete and close a chapter in the development of Soviet foreign policy. This can be best understood from a brief survey of the historical facts in connection with the Comintern… It was organized in 1919 when the young revolutionary government was being attacked on all sides… Under Stalin, however, it finally became a clearinghouse for the working-class movement of other countries. In the democratic countries these [Communist] parties were advised to seek lawful status and to conduct their activities through peaceful and constitutional methods. In these countries, they generally became vociferous but non-violent minorities. Only in aggressor or hostile countries was it probable that Comintern support was actively given to revolutionary class warfare and internal subversive attacks upon governments… The enemy – the Nazis, Fascists, and Japs – have done their utmost to scare us with the bogy of the Communist threat to our Western civilization. It was done under the disguise of a so called anti-Comintern pact that they originally got together in 1936, 1937, 1939 and 1940, in their conspiracy to conquer us, as well as the rest of the world… At one stroke, on May 22 [1943], Stalin and his associates in Moscow spoiled Hitler’s game… When they abolished the Comintern, they spike the last big gun of Hitler’s propaganda… The abolition of the Comintern, moreover, was a definite act, confirming their expressed purpose to co-operate with, and not to stir up trouble for, their neighbors, with whom they are pledged to collaboration to win the war and the peace… The abolition of the Comintern contributes to the cementing of confidence between fighting allies in the war effort. It is also a contribution to postwar construction, in the building of a decent world community of nations, who, realistically, seek to build that world by co-operating and working together as good neighbors.”

17. The same cry was re-echoed, even after the final defeat of Nazi Germany by the Anglo-American-Soviet coalition, when Congresswoman Clare Lure, wife of the publisher of the magazines Time, Life and Fortune. returned from a European tour early in 1945 to inform Americans that Bolshevism was threatening to engulf the whole of Europe because of the Red Army’s defeat of Nazi Germany. Mrs. Luce called on the United States to give its support to all anti-Soviet forces in Europe. This, of course, had been the chief hope of the Nazis and the main theme of the Nazi Propsgana Minister, Dr. Goebbels, during his last broadcasts from besieged Berlin.

Again, the same cry was raised when one of a group of American Senators visiting Rome in the spring of 1945 was said to have asked a gathering of American soldiers if they would not be willing to go on “and finish (?)” by fighting against Soviet Russia. The soldiers were reported to have received the Senator’s anti-Bolshevik crusading with obvious disapproval. Many of them walked out of the room.

At the same time, anti-Soviet propaganda continued to be spread in the United States by a number of books similar in style and content to Jan Valtin’s Out of the Night. Among the most widely circulated of these books published in 1945 were Report on the Russians by William L. White and One Who Survived by Alexander Barmine.

The American journalist William L. White wrote his Report on the Russians after a hasty, six-weeks tour of the Soviet Union. From beginning to end White’s book, which originally appeared in condensed form in the Reader’s Digest, was a tirade against the Soviet people, their leaders and even against their war effort. Hailed as a “rich objective report” by such anti-Soviet journals as the Social-Democratic New Leader and enthusiastically quoted by the Patterson-McCormick and Hearst press, White’s book was vigorously condemned by those sections of the American press concerned with the maintenance of good relations between the United Nations. A group of distinguished American correspondents who had worked in the Soviet Union during the war, including John Hersey, Richard Lauterbach, Ralph Parker and Edgar Snow, issued a public statement sharply denouncing White’s book as “a highly biased and misleading report, calculated to prolong the oldest myths and prejudices against a great ally, whose sacrifices in this war have saved us incalculable bloodshed and suffering.” The statement of the foreign correspondents pointed out that “White was ignorant not only of the language but evidently, of this history and culture [of Russia] as well,” that White’s book’s “fundamental dishonesty lies in the total absence of either foreground or background detail,” and that “the book has to be linked with the significance of ignorant and inimical groups here and in Europe, who seek to sharpen distrust and suspicion among the Allies.” Nevertheless, Report on the Russians, promoted a lavish high-Pressure publicity campaign, continued to reach tens of thousands of American readers.

Alexander Barmine’s book, One Who Survived, purported to be the “inside story” of Soviet politics and leadership by a former “Soviet diplomat” and “specialist” in Soviet affairs. Like the Report on the Russians, Barmine’s book virulently attacked everything connected with the Soviet Union, declaring that Stalin was the leader of “a triumphant counterrevolution” which had become “a reactionary dictatorship.” At the time of the exposure and liquidation of the Russian fifth column, Alexander Barmine was serving as the Soviet charge d’affaires in Athens, Greece. Barmine promptly left his post and refused to return to the Soviet Union. In One Who Survived, Barmine relates that a number of the Soviet conspirators who were executed had been among his closest “friends” and “colleagues.” Regarding General Tukhachevsky, who was found guilty of plotting with the German General Staff against the Soviet Union, Barmine states, “In Moscow I had worked in intimate collaboration with him,” and adds that the Russian general “had been in the last years my close friend.” Barmine also remarks that he “carried out” a “few jobs” under the direction of Arkady Rosengoltz, who admitted in 1938 to having been a paid agent of the German Military Intelligence; and that he, Barmine, had been visited in Paris by the “keen-witted” Leon Sedov Trotsky. The book One Who Survived contained a eulogistic introduction by Max Eastman, and was vigorously promoted by other anti-Soviet persons in the United States. Like William L. White’s book, Barmine’s One Who Survived was praised and publicized with special enthusiasm by the New Leader, the editors of which included Eugene Lyons, whose anti-Soviet writings were periodically quoted by official agencies of the Nazi Propaganda Ministry; William Henry Chamberlin, whose anti-Soviet articles were featured by the Hearst press and whose interpretation of the Moscow trials appeared in the Japanese propaganda organ, Contemporary Japan; Sidney Hook, former follower of Trotsky; John Dewey, former Chairman of the “Commission of Inquiry” at the Trotsky hearings in Mexico; and Max Eastman, Trotsky’s former close collaborator, friend and translator.

In Europe, both W. L. White’s and Alexander Barmine’s writings were used by the Nazis in their propaganda campaign against the Soviet Union. The publication of White’s Report on the Russians was hailed in an enthusiastic front-page article in the ‘January 30, 1945, issue of Der Westkaempfer (West Front Fighter), official organ of the Nazi Reichwehr; the article asserted that White’s book proved the possibility of division in the ranks of the United Nations. In March 1945, American troops in Italy were bombarded by the Nazis with shells containing pamphlet reprints of an article by Barmine which had previously been published in the Reader’s Digest under the title “The New Communist Conspiracy.”

The end of the Second World War in Europe found the voices of the anti-Bolshevik crusaders no less shrill than after 1918, but far less potent in their influence on Americans and other peoples, who had learned much since the death of Woodrow Wilson.

CHAPTER XXIV – The Case of the Sixteen

IN the last months of the Second World War, the chief propagandist issue of anti-Soviet agitation in Great Britain and the United States centered on the question of Poland. As the Red Army drove westward, crossing the Polish frontiers and liberating ever greater sections of Poland from the Nazi invaders, British Tories and American isolationists charged that “Polish freedom” was now endangered by the Soviet Union. Week after week, the Hearst and Patterson-McCormick press in the United States called for anti-Soviet action to save Poland from “Bolshevism.” In the United States Congress and the British Parliament, speakers rose repeatedly to denounce “Red Imperialistic aims in Poland” and to accuse the Soviet Government of betraying the principles of the United Nations. Much of this anti-Soviet propaganda was based on statements and material officially released by the Polish Government-in-Exile in London and by its representatives in Washington, D. C. The London Polish Government-in-Exile was composed of Polish militarists, spokesmen of Poland’s feudal landlords, some Polish fascists and a few socialists and peasant leaders, who had found haven in England after Poland’s collapse in 1939.(1)

At the time, there were actually two Polish governments. Besides the emigre regime in London, a Provisional Polish Government, the so-called Warsaw regime, existed within Poland itself. The Warsaw Government, based on an alliance of Polish anti-fascist parties, repudiated the 1935 Pilsudski fascist constitution which the London Poles upheld. The Warsaw Government stood for sweeping economic and political reforms inside Poland, the abolition of the feudal estates, and close friendly relations with the Soviet Union.

At the Yalta Conference, in February 1945, Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin discussed the question of the future of Poland at length, and agreed that the Warsaw regime was to be “reorganized on a broader democratic basis with the inclusion of democratic leaders from Poland itself and from Poles abroad,” and then recognized as the legitimate Provisional Government of the country.

The Yalta agreement met with strenuous opposition from the London Polish émigrés and their American and British allies. It was denounced as a “betrayal of Poland.” Diplomatic intrigues were set afoot to prevent the fulfillment of the Yalta decision.

The anti-Soviet agitation and intrigues around the Polish issue reached their height when in May 1945 the Soviet Government announced that it had arrested sixteen Polish agents of the London Government-in-Exile on charges of anti-Soviet conspiracy. This action on the part of the Soviet Government, declared the Polish émigrés in London, was the most extreme example of Moscow’s program to stifle “Polish democracy” and impose a “Red dictatorship” upon the Polish people…

The best-known name among the sixteen Poles arrested by the Soviet Government was that of General Leopold Bronislaw Okulicki, former Chief of Staff of the Polish army in exile. This army had played a key role in the anti-Soviet campaign of the Polish émigrés…

This Polish army was originally, organized on Soviet soil in 1941 by joint Polish-Soviet agreement, to fight side by side with the Red Army against the Germans. It was headed by General Wladislaw Anders, a former member of the “colonels’ clique” which had dominated Poland under the Pilsudski dictatorship. To train and equip Anders’s army for military action against Germany, the Soviet Government granted a loan without interest of 300,000,000 rubles, and gave the army facilities for recruiting and encampment. However, General Anders, Okulicki and other Polish militarists secretly opposed the alliance with the Red Army. They believed that Soviet Russia was doomed to speedy defeat by Nazi Germany and were acting accordingly.

A report by Lieutenant Colonel Berling, subsequently leader of the armed forces of the Warsaw regime, revealed that in 1941, shortly after the formation of the first Polish units on Soviet soil, General Anders held a conference with his officers at which he stated: –

When the Red Army collapses under German blows, which will be no later than within a few months, we will be able to break through to Iran via the Caspian Sea. Since we will be the only armed power in this territory, we will be in a position to do whatever we please.

When, contrary to General Anders’s expectations, the Red Army failed to collapse before the Nazi blitzkrieg, the Polish commander informed his officers that they need not be concerned about meeting the terms of the Polish-Soviet military agreement to fight jointly against Germany. “There is no need to hurry,” Anders told General Borucie-Spiechowiczow, commander of the Polish 5th Infantry Division.

Anders and his officers, according to Lieutenant Colonel Berling, “did everything possible to drag out the training and arming of the divisions” so that they would not have to go into action against Germany. The Polish Chief of Staff, General Okulicki, actively sabotaged the equipping of the Polish troops. In Berling’s words: –

Okulicki sabotaged the organization of the base on the Caspian Sea for receiving English arms and provisions from Iran. Soviet authorities built a special railway branch and warehouses on the shores of the Caspian Sea, but General Anders’ command prevented a single rifle, tank or sack of supplies from coming through.

Polish officers and men who were eager to accept the Soviet help and to take up arms against the German invaders of their homeland were terrorized by the reactionary clique headed by Generals Anders and Okulicki. Lists were compiled of “friends of the Soviet” who were “traitors to Poland.” A special index known as File B contained the names and records of all those said to be “sympathetic to the Soviets.” Fascist anti-Semitic propaganda was promoted by the Polish command. “There was,” reported Berling, “open talk about the need `to square accounts with the Jews,’ and there were frequent cases of Jews being beaten up.” The Dwojka, espionage service of Anders’s army, began secretly accumulating data about Soviet war plants, state farms, railroads, army depots and positions of the Red Army troops.

By the spring of 1942, Anders’s army in Russia had still failed to fight a single engagement against the German enemy. Instead, Polish officers and men were being intensively indoctrinated with the anti-Soviet and anti-Semitic ideology of their generals. Finally the Polish command requested that its army be evacuated to Iran under British auspices. By August 1942, 75,491 Polish officers and men and 37,756 members of their families had left Soviet territory, without ever having struck one blow for their native land.

On March 13, 1944, the Australian correspondent James Aldridge cabled the New York Times an uncensored report on the fascist behavior of the émigré Polish army leaders in Iran. Aldridge stated that he had wanted to make public the facts about the Polish émigrés for over a year, but the Allied censorship would not permit him to do so. One Allied censor told Aldridge: “I know it’s all true, but what can I do? We recognize the Polish Government, you know.”

Here are a few of the facts reported by Aldridge: –

The Polish camp was divided into classes. At the camp conditions got progressively worse as one’s situation was lower. The Jews were separated into a ghetto. The camp was run on totalitarian lines… A continuous campaign against Russia was conducted by the more reactionary groups… When more than 300 Jewish children had been fixed up to go to Palestine, the Polish elite, who were very anti-Semitic, put pressure on the Iraqui authorities not to allow the Jewish children to pass through…

I have heard many Americans say they would like to tell the real story about the Poles, but that it was useless because the Poles have such a powerful lobbying bloc in Washington…

From Iran, the Polish émigrés moved to Italy, where, under the direction of the British High Command, and supported by the Vatican, the Polish émigré army established its headquarters. The ambition of Generals Anders, Okulicki and their associates, which they made little attempt to conceal, was to convert this Polish émigré army into the nucleus of a new White Army for eventual action against Soviet Russia.

As the Red Army neared the Polish border in the spring of 1944, the London Polish émigrés intensified their anti-Soviet campaign. “An essential condition both for our victory and our very existence is at least the weakening, if not the defeat, of Russia,” declared Penstwo Polski, one of the underground newspapers circulated in Poland by agents of the Government-in-Exile. Secret instructions from the London Poles to their underground agents stated: “At all costs an effort must be made to keep on the best terms with all German civil authorities.”

The Polish Government-in-Exile was preparing for armed action against the Soviet Union. The agency which was to carry out this action was the Armia Krajowa, or AK, an underground military apparatus inside Poland organized and controlled by the London émigrés. The Armia Krajowa or AK was headed by General Bor-Komorowski.

Early in March 1944, General Okulicki was summoned to the headquarters of General Sosnkowski, military representative of the London Polish émigrés. Later, General Okulicki gave this description of this secret conference: –

… when I was received by General Sosnkowski, before flying to Poland, he said that in the near future we could expect a Red Army offensive which would result in routing the Germans in Poland. In that case, Sosnkowski said, the Red Army would occupy Poland and would not permit the existence of the Armia Krajowa on Polish territory as a military organization subordinated to the London Polish government.

Sosnkowski proposed that the Armia Krajowa should carry out a sham dissolution after the Red Army drove the Nazis from Poland, and that a secret “reserve headquarters” be established for operations in the rear of the Red Army: –

Sosnkowski stated that these reserve headquarters would have to direct the struggle of the Armia Krajowa against the Red Army.

Sosnkowski asked that these instructions be conveyed to the commander of the Armia Krajowa in Poland, General Bor-Komorowski…

Shortly after, General Okulicki was mysteriously flown into German-occupied Poland, where he promptly contacted General Bor-Komorowski, and delivered Sosnkowski’s instructions. The commander of the Armia Krajowa told Okulicki that he would set up a special apparatus to carry out the following tasks: –

1. Preserve arms for underground activities and for the preparation of an uprising against the U.S.S.R.

2. Create armed combat detachments, of not more than sixty men each.

3. Form terrorist, “liquidation” groups for assassinating the enemies of the AK and representatives of the Soviet military command.

4. Train saboteurs for operations behind the Soviet lines.

5. Carry on military intelligence and espionage activities in the rear of the Red Army.

6. Preserve the radio stations already set up by the AK and maintain radio communications with the central command of the AK in London.

7. Conduct printed and oral propaganda against the Soviet Union.

In the fall of 1944, the Red Army reached the banks of the Vistula and halted before Warsaw to regroup its forces and bring up fresh supplies after its prolonged summer offensive. The strategy of the Soviet High Command was not to launch a frontal attack upon the Polish capital but to take it by sudden encirclement, thus preserving the city and its population. But, without the knowledge of the Soviet High Command and acting on orders from London, General Bor-Komorowski initiated a general uprising of the Polish patriots in Warsaw, declaring that the Red Army was about to move on the city. With the Red Army completely unprepared to cross the Vistula at this time, the Nazi High Command was able systematically to bomb and shell every section of the city held by the insurgent Polish patriots. Here is General Okulicki’s own account of General Bor-Komorowski’s role in the ultimate surrender of the Polish forces in Warsaw: –

At the close of September, 1944, the commander of the Armia Krajowa, General Bor-Komorowski, negotiated regarding surrender with the commander of the German troops in Warsaw – SS. Obergruppenfuehrer von Den-Bach. Bor-Komorowski appointed the deputy chief of the second (intelligence) department of headquarters, Colonel Bogusla wski, to conduct negotiations as representative of the chief of staff of the Armia Krajowa. Reporting to Bor-Komorowski in my presence on the terms of surrender advanced by the Germans, Boguslawski said that von Den-Bach thought it necessary for the Poles to cease armed struggle against the Germans because it was the Soviet Union that was the common enemy of Poland and Germany. On meeting Bor-Komorowski on the day of the surrender I told him that von Den-Bach was possibly right and Bor-Komorowski agreed with me on this.

Throughout the fall and winter months of 1944 and the spring of 1943, with the Red Army waging gigantic offensives aimed at the final smashing of the German military power on the Eastern Front, the Armia Krajowa under General Okulicki’s leadership carried on a widespread campaign of terrorism, sabotage, espionage and armed raids in the rear of the Soviet armies.

“Measures of the Soviet military command in the zone of hostilities were sabotaged,” later declared Stanislaw Jasiukowicz, Vice-Premier in Poland of the London Government-in-Exile and one of Okulicki’s confederates. “Our press and radio stations engaged in slanderous propaganda. The Polish people were being incited against the Russians.”

Detachments of Okulicki’s AK dynamited trains carrying Red Army troops, destroyed Soviet supply depots, mined roads along which Russian troops were passing and disrupted Soviet transport and communication lines in every possible manner. An order issued on September 17, 1944, by one of Okulicki’s aides, read as follows: –

The operations must be universal – blowing up military trains, trucks, railway tracks, burning of bridges, destruction of stores and village soviets. It must be carried out in secret.

A commander of an AK detachment named Lubikowski, who conducted a special secret school for spies and saboteurs, later reported regarding some of the assignments carried out by his agents: –

I received a written report on the execution of my order … from Ragner who informed me that he carried out twelve acts of sabotage, derailed two trains, blew up two bridges and damaged a railway track in eight places.

Specially trained groups of AK terrorists waylaid and murdered Red Army soldiers and spokesmen for the Warsaw regime. According to incomplete data subsequently made public by the Soviet military authorities, AK terrorists killed 594 Red Army officers and men over a period of eight months and wounded an additional 294…

At the same time, acting under instructions received by radio from the Polish command in London, General Okulicki’s agents carried on extensive intelligence operations behind Soviet lines. A directive of the London Polish Government, addressed to

General Okulicki and dated November 11, 1944, No. 7201-1-777, read as follows: –

Since the knowledge of the military intentions and possibilities… of the Soviets in the east is of basic importance for foreseeing and planning further developments in Poland, you must… fill the gap by transmitting intelligence reports in accordance with the instructions of the intelligence department of headquarters.

The directive went on to request detailed information regarding Soviet military units, supply trains, fortifications, airdromes, armaments and war industry.

Week after week coded intelligence reports were dispatched to the Poles in London from a network of illegal radio stations operating in the rear of the Red Army. A typical radiogram, No. 621-2, sent from Cracow to the chief command in London, and intercepted and deciphered by the Soviet Military Intelligence, read as follows: –

In the latter half of March an average of 20 trains with troops and munitions (artillery, American tanks, infantry, of whom one third were women) were passing daily in a western direction… An order on the urgent conscription of 1895-1925 age classes has been posted in Cracow. A ceremony of commissioning 800 officers brought from the east took place in Cracow with the participation of General Zymierski…

On March 22, 1945, General Okulicki summed up the ultimate hopes of his superiors in London in a secret directive addressed to Colonel “Slavbor,” the commandant of the western district of the Armia Krajowa. Okulicki’s extraordinary directive read: –

In the event of the victory of the U.S.S.R. over Germany, this will not only threaten Britain’s interests in Europe but the whole of Europe will be frightened… Considering their own interests in Europe, the British will have to proceed to the mobilization of the forces of Europe against the U.S.S.R. It is clear that we shall take our place in the front ranks of this European anti-Soviet bloc; it is also impossible to visualize this bloc without the participation of Germany which will be controlled by the British.

These plans and hopes of the Polish émigrés were short-lived. Early in 1945, the Soviet Military Intelligence began rounding up the Polish conspirators behind the Soviet lines. By the summer of 1945, the ringleaders were in Soviet hands. Sixteen of them, including General Okulicki, faced trial before the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R.

The trial began on June 18 in the House of Trade Unions in Moscow. It lasted three days. The testimony clearly established that the Polish émigrés and their underground apparatus had been led by their hatred for Soviet Russia into giving substantial aid to the Nazi invaders of their own country.

During the trial, the following exchange took place between the Soviet Prosecutor, Major General Afanasiev, and the short, tight-lipped leader of the anti-Soviet Polish underground, General Okulicki: –

AFANASIEV: Did your action interfere with the Red Army’s operations against the Germans… ?

OKULICKI: It interfered.

AFANASIEV: Whom did it help?

OKULICKI: Naturally, it helped the Germans.

Major General Afanasiev told the court that he would not demand the death sentence for any of the defendants because they were “mere puppets” of the Polish émigrés in London and because “we are now experiencing the joyful days of victory and they are no longer dangerous.” The Soviet Prosecutor added: –

This trial sums up the activities of the Polish reactionaries who for years have fought the Soviet Union. Their policy led to the occupation of Poland by the Germans. The Red Army fought for freedom and independence against barbarism… The Soviet Union, with the help of the Allies, played the decisive role in Germany’s defeat. But Okulicki and the others wanted to knife the Red Army in the back… They prefer a cordon sanitaire around Russia to friendship with her….

On June 21, the Soviet Military Collegium handed down its verdict. Three of the accused were acquitted. General Okulicki and eleven of his confederates were found guilty and sentenced to prison terms ranging from ten years to four months.(2)

Following the trial, the United States and Great Britain withdrew their recognition of the London Polish Government-in-Exile.(3) The Warsaw regime, reorganized in accordance with the terms of the Yalta agreement, was formally recognized as the Provisional Government of Poland.

1. The London Polish Government-in-Exile considered itself the legitimate heir to the Pilsudski regime whose traditional policy was based on opposition to Soviet Russia. As Raymond Leslie Buell wrote in his book Poland: The Key to Europe: “Pilsudski believed that Poland had to have a large territory. For historical reasons it was easier to get this base at the expense of Russia than of Germany.” Prewar Polish diplomacy, under the direction of the former anti-Soviet Intelligence officer Colonel Josef Beck, was directed not against Nazi Germany but against Soviet Russia. The Polish Army, with the largest percentage of cavalry of any army in the world, was organized for operations on the Ukrainian plains. Polish industries were concentrated on the German border; Polish military fortifications on the Soviet frontier. Since its formation, the Poland dominated by the militarists and feudal landlords was a cornerstone of the anti-Soviet cordon sanitaire, and a rendezvous for international agents plotting the overthrow of the Soviet Government. Boris Savinkov established his headquarters in Poland after fleeing from Russia and, with the direct aid of Pilsudski, built a White Army in Poland of 30,000 men for use against Soviet Russia. In the late 1920’s, the Torgprom conspirators came to an understanding with the Polish High Command that Poland was to be one of the chief bases in the new war of intervention they were plotting against Soviet Russia. The Polish Intelligence Service established intimate working relations with all anti-Soviet forces, including the Trotskyite-Bukharinist underground organization. In 1938, the Munich Pact brought the anti-Soviet character of the Polish rulers clearly into the open. When the Nazis served their ultimatum on Czechoslovakia and the Czechs were preparing to resist, the Polish Government mobilized its army and placed it directly in the way of any possible assistance to the Czechs from the Soviet Union. As a reward. Hitler permitted the Poles to seize the Teschen district from the Czechs at the time of the partition of Czechoslovakia. In 1939, on the eve of the Nazi attack on Poland, the Polish militarists still refused to revise their suicidal anti-Soviet policy; rejected a proposed military agreement with Soviet Russia; and would not permit the Red Army to cross Polish boundaries to meet the Nazi Wehrmacht. The consequences of this policy for Poland were disastrous, and almost immediately after the Nazi invasion the Polish Government fled abroad, taking with it the Polish gold reserves. First in France and subsequently in England, representatives of this Polish Government constituting themselves the Polish Government-in-Exile, continued the antiSoviet intrigues which had brought their nation to ruin. They were supported in these intrigues by powerful elements in international economic. political and religious circles which regarded victory for Soviet Russia in the war against Nazi Germany as a menace to their own interests.

2. The trial of the sixteenth individual named in the indictment, Anton Paidak, was postponed because of his illness. When these sixteen Poles had originally been arrested by the Soviet authorities, the American Secretary of State, Edward R. Stettinius, and the British Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, had vigorously protested, declaring the arrested men were important Polish “democratic leaders.” After the trial, Stettinius and Eden maintained a discreet silence.

3. The Soviet Government had severed diplomatic relations with the Polish Government-in-Exile two years previously, on April 25, 1943, because of the London regime’s anti-Soviet conspiratorial activities.

Since its inception, the Polish Government-in-Exile had been chiefly sponsored and financed by the British Government. After the recognition of the Warsaw regime, it was understood that some of the Polish émigrés would be offered British citizenship, and perhaps given police jobs in the British colonies. On learning of the Allied decision to recognize the Warsaw regime, General Anders and his aides issued public statements declaring that the Polish émigré troops under their command would never accept the Allied decision, would remain loyal to the – `government” in London, and would return to their native land only “with arms in their hands.” By the fall of 1945, however, large numbers of the Polish émigré troops were deserting the cause of their reactionary leaders, and, on the invitation of the Warsaw regime, were returning to Poland to participate in its reconstruction.

CHAPTER XXV – United Nations

IN a struggle for existence, people learn to know their friends and to recognize their enemies. In the course of the Second World War, many illusions and lies were stripped bare.

The war presented the world with many surprises. The world was stunned at first when the Fifth Columns emerged out of the underworld of Europe and Asia to seize power with the aid of the Nazis and the Japanese armies in many countries. The speed with which the early victories of the Axis were won astonished all those who had not known of the long years of secret Axis preparations, intrigue, terror and conspiracy.

But the greatest of all surprises of the Second World War was Soviet Russia. Overnight, it seemed, a thick false fog was torn apart, and through it emerged the true stature and meaning of the Soviet nation, its leaders, its economy, its army, its people and, in Cordell Hull’s words, “the epic quality of their patriotic fervor.”

The first great realization which came out of the Second World War was that the Red Army, under Marshal Stalin, was the most competent and powerful fighting force on the side of world progress and democracy.

On February 23, 1942, General Douglas MacArthur of the United States Army informed his fellow countrymen concerning the Red Army: 

The world situation at the present time indicates that the hopes of civilization rest on the worthy banners of the courageous Russian Army. During my lifetime I have participated in a number of wars and have witnessed others, as well as studying in great detail the campaigns of outstanding leaders of the past.

In none have I observed such effective resistance to the heaviest blows of a hitherto undefeated enemy, followed by a smashing counterattack which is driving the enemy back to his own land.

The scale and grandeur of the effort mark it as the greatest military achievement in all history.

The second great realization was that the economic system of the Soviet Union was amazingly efficient and capable of sustaining mass production under unprecedentedly adverse conditions.

On his return from an official mission to Moscow in 1942, the Vice-Chairman of the United States War Production Board, William Batt, reported: 

I went with a somewhat uncertain feeling about the Russians’ ability to stand up to an all-out war; I became convinced very quickly, however, that the entire population was in the fight to the last woman and child.

I went rather doubtful of the Russians’ technical skill; I found them extraordinarily hard-headed and skillful at running their factories and turning out the machines of war.

I went very much perplexed and troubled by accounts circulated here of disunity and arbitrariness in the Russian Government; I found that Government strong, competent and supported by immensely popular enthusiasm.

In a word, I went with a question to be answered: is Russia a dependable, a competent ally?… And my question was answered for me in a ringing affirmative.

The third great realization was that the multinational peoples of the Soviet Union were united behind their government with a patriotic fervor unique in history.

At Quebec, on August 31, 1943, Prime Minister Winston Churchill declared concerning the Soviet Government and its leadership: 

No government ever formed among men has been capable of surviving injuries so grave and cruel as those inflicted by Hitler on Russia… Russia has not only survived and recovered from those frightful injuries but has inflicted, as no other force in the world could have inflicted, mortal damage on the German army machine.

The fourth great realization was that the alliance of the Western democracies with Soviet Russia opened up the realistic promise of a new international order of peace and security among all peoples. On February 11, 1943, the New York Herald Tribune stated in an editorial: 

There are but two choices before the democracies now. One is to cooperate with Russia in rebuilding the world – as there is an excellent chance of doing, if we believe in the strength of our own principles and prove it by applying them. The other is to get involved in intrigues with all the reactionary and anti-democratic forces in Europe, the only result of which will be to alienate the Kremlin.

In New York City on November 8, 1943, the Chairman of the United States War Production Board, Donald Nelson, reported on his visit to Soviet Russia: 

I have come back from my journey with a high faith in the future of Russia, and in the benefit which that future will bring to the entire world, including ourselves. So far as I can see, once our victory is won and we have put this war behind us, we shall have nothing to fear except suspicion of each other. Once we are working in collaboration with the other United Nations to produce for peace and to raise the living standards of peoples everywhere, we shall be on our way toward new levels and prosperity and greater human satisfactions than we have ever known.

On December 1, 1943, at the historic Conference of Teheran, the answer was given to the anti-democratic and anti-Soviet conspiracy which for twenty-five years had kept the world in an incessant turmoil of secret diplomacy, counterrevolutionary intrigue, terror, fear and hatred, and which had culminated inevitably in the Axis war to enslave humanity.

The leaders of the three most powerful nations on earth, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt of the United States of America, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain, and Marshal Joseph Stalin of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, met together for the first time, and after a series of military and diplomatic conferences issued the Declaration of the Three Powers.

The Declaration of Teheran guaranteed that Nazism would be wiped out by the united action of the three great allies. More than that, the Declaration opened up to the war-torn world a perspective of enduring peace and a new era of amity among the nations. The Declaration read: 

We, the President of the United States of America, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, and the Premier of the Soviet Union, have met in these four days past in this the capital of our ally, Teheran, and have shaped and confirmed our common policy.

We express our determination that our nations shall work together in the war and in the peace that will follow.

As to the war, our military staffs have joined in our round-table discussions and we have concerted our plans for the destruction of the German forces. We have reached complete agreement as to the scope and timing of operations which will be undertaken from the east, west and south. The common understanding which we have here reached guarantees that victory will be ours.

And as to the peace, we are sure that our concord will make it an enduring peace. We recognize fully the supreme responsibility resting upon us and all the nations to make a peace which will command good will from the overwhelming masses of the peoples of the world and banish the scourge and terror of war for many generations.

With our diplomatic advisors we have surveyed the problems of the future. We shall seek the cooperation and active participation of all nations, large and small, whose peoples in heart and in mind are dedicated, as are our own peoples, to the elimination of tyranny and slavery, oppression and intolerance. We will welcome them as they may choose to come into the world family of democratic nations.

No power on earth can prevent our destroying the German armies by land, their U-boats by sea, and their war plants from the air. Our attacks will be relentless and increasing.

Emerging from these friendly conferences we look with confidence to the day when all the peoples of the world may live free lives untouched by tyranny and according to their varying desires and their own consciences.

We came here with hope and determination. We leave here friends in fact, in spirit, and in purpose. Signed at Teheran, Dec. 1, 1943.


The historic Teheran Accord was followed by the decisive Crimea Decisions of February 1945. Once again the three statesmen, Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin, came together, this time at Yalta in the Crimea, where they agreed upon their joint policies for the final defeat of Nazi Germany and the complete elimination of the German General Staff. The Yalta discussions looked forward to the period of peace that was to come, and laid the groundwork for the epoch-making United Nations Conference at San Francisco at which the Charter of a world security organization, rooted in the alliance of the three greatest powers, was to be promulgated in April.

On the eve of the San Francisco Conference, on April 12, 1945, Soviet Russia lost a great friend and the whole world lost a great democratic leader: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died. But the work he had initiated went on. President Harry S. Truman, immediately on taking office, pledged himself to carry on the war against Axis aggression to a victorious conclusion in alliance with the other members of the United Nations, and to fulfill Roosevelt’s postwar program for lasting peace in firm accord with Great Britain and Soviet Russia.

On May 8, 1945, the representatives of the German High Command, in the presence of the chief American, British and Soviet generals, signed in ruined Berlin the final act of unconditional surrender of the forces of the Nazi Wehrmacht. The war in Europe was concluded. Winston Churchill, in a message to Marshal Stalin, said: “Future generations will acknowledge their debt to the Red Army as unreservedly as do we who have lived to witness these proud achievements.”

No war in history had been fought so fiercely as the war between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. For one thousand four hundred and eighteen days, forty-seven months, four years, battles of unprecedented scope and violence raged on the gigantic battlefields of the Eastern Front. The end came on May 2, 1945, when armored troops of the Red Army stormed and captured the heart of the Nazi citadel – Berlin. An anonymous Red Army man hoisted the Red Flag over the Reichstag.

The flags of freedom flew everywhere in Europe.(1)

As this book went to press, the authors interviewed the man with whose story this book begins: Colonel Raymond Robins. A few years ago, Colonel Robins retired from public affairs to live quietly on his 2000-acre estate at Chinesgut Hill, Florida, which he has deeded to the United States Government as a wildlife refuge and agricultural experimental station. Colonel Robins has retained his “outdoor mind,” his passionate concern for the welfare of the common man, his impatience with prejudice and greed, and his keen interest in the nation whose birth amid the turmoil of revolution he personally witnessed.

Here is what Colonel Robins said: 

“The greatest hour I shall ever know was to see the light of hope for freedom from age-long tyrannies and oppressions in the eyes of the workers and peasants of Russia as they responded to the appeals o f Lenin and other leaders o f the Soviet Revolution.

“Soviet Russia has always wanted international peace. Lenin knew that his great domestic program would be deflected if not destroyed by war. The Russian people have always wanted peace. Education, production, exploitation o f a vast and rich territory engage all their thoughts and energies and hopes. The greatest Minister o f Foreign Affairs in our generation, Commissar Maxim Litvinov, worked ably and steadily for collective security until the Anglo-French appeasement policies towards Mussolini and Hitler made collective security impossible.

“Soviet Russia exploits no colonies, seeks to exploit none. Soviet Russia operates no foreign trade cartels, seeks none to exploit. Stalin’s policies have wiped out racial, religious, national and class antagonisms within the Soviet territories. This unity and harmony o f the Soviet peoples point the path to international peace.”


1. The Anglo-American war in the Far East, against the third partner of the Axis, Imperial Japan, continued. Here, too, Soviet Russia showed its strength and its identity of interest with the democratic cause.

Japan was one of the first powers to intervene against the young Soviet Republic in 1919. The Tanaka Memorial of 1927 called for Japanese conquest of the Soviet Far East as a preliminary to domination of the entire Pacific region. Japan’s rulers repeatedly conspired against the Soviet regime. In July 1938, Japanese armed forces actually invaded Soviet territory, only to be hurled back by Soviet troops. “Incidents,” often involving considerable forces of men, tanks and planes, were frequent along the Soviet-Manchurian border throughout 1938; but in 1939 the rout of the Japanese Army in what amounted to a major engagement of armored divisions caused the Japanese war lords to reconsider their plans for an immediate full-scale attack on Soviet Russia from the east. An armistice was signed in September 1939, on terms unfavorable to Japan, which formed the basis for the neutrality pact of April 1941. The Soviet Government never concealed its opposition to the feudal-fascist clique which ruled in Tokyo, and it was clear that a day of reckoning would come between Soviet Russia and Imperial Japan.

Throughout the period when the Red Army was battling the Nazi Wehrmacht in the West, the Far Eastern Red Army continuously immobilized a massive Japanese army, reportedly composed of more than 500,000 of the best mechanized troops at Tokyo’s command, on the Manchurian border. On April 6, 1945, following the Yalta Conference, the Soviet Government denounced its neutrality pact with Japan on the following grounds, as stated in the Soviet Note of that date: “Germany attacked the USSR and Japan – Germany’s ally – helped the latter in her war against the USSR. In addition, Japan is fighting against the USA and Great Britain, which are allies of the Soviet Union. In such a situation the pact of neutrality between Japan and the USSR has lost its meaning, and the continuance of this pact has become impossible.”

On August 9, 1945, the Soviet Union formally entered the war against Japan, thus fulfilling a pledge made at the Yalta Conference in January 1945 to enter the Far Eastern war within ninety days after the defeat of Nazi Germany. Following the Soviet war declaration, and the American atomic bombing of two Japanese industrial centers, the Japanese Government capitulated and sued for peace. On September 2, Japan acknowledged her defeat and signed the act of unconditional surrender. East and West, the Second World War was over.

Bibliographical Notes

In the preparation of this hook, the authors have drawn heavily upon the official records of the U. S. State Department; the Hearings and Reports of various U. S. Congressional Committees; official documents published by the Government of Great Britain; and the verbatim reports published by the Soviet Government of the proceedings at the espionage, sabotage and treason trials which have taken place in Soviet Russia since the Revolution. We have also made extensive use of the published memoirs of leading personages mentioned in this book. All of the dialogue in this book is drawn from these memoirs, from official records or other documentary sources. The Index of the New York Times, The Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature and the International Index to Periodicals were invaluable reference sources. We wish to express our appreciation in particular to Harper and Brothers for permission to quote at length from Britain’s Master Spy, Sidney Reilly’s Narrative written by Himself, edited and compiled by His Wife. We also wish to record our special indebtedness to Cedric Belfrage for his editorial and research assistance during the early stages of the work on this book. The following is a list of the chief source references for The Great Conspiracy. It is by no means an exhaustive bibliography, being merely intended as a record and acknowledgment of those sources which the authors have found particularly useful and, in some cases, indispensable.


The basic material for the account of Raymond Robins’s mission has been drawn from Robins’s own testimony before the Overman Committee in 1919, as recorded in German and Bolshevik Propaganda; Report and Hearings o f the Subcommittee o f the Judiciary o f the United States Senate, 65th Congress, Volume III (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1919), and from William Hard’s Raymond Robins’ Own Story (New York, Harper and Brothers, 1920). The dialogue between Robins and such persons as his chief, Colonel William Boyce Thompson, Alexander Kerensky, Major General Alfred Knox and Lenin is as Robins himself reported it. Robins’s testimony before the Senate Subcommittee provides one of the richest, most comprehensive and most vivid eyewitness pictures of the Bolshevik Revolution, and is well worth the attention of any student interested in this period. For the historical background to this period the authors have drawn upon a number of sources, including the Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1918, Russia, Vols. I, II and III (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1931); John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook the World (New York, Boni & Liveright, Inc., 1919); The History of the Communist Party o f the Soviet Union, edited by a Commission of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. (New York, International Publishers, 1939); Albert Rhys Williams, The Soviets (New York, Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1937); James Bunyan and H. H. Fisher, The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1918, documents and materials (Stanford University, California, 1933); Vladimir 1. Lenin, A Political Biography Prepared by the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute (New York, International Publishers, 1943); Lenin, V. I. Ulyanov (Ogiz, State Publishing House of Political Literature, 1939) – an extremely interesting collection of unusual documents and photographs; Frederick L. Schuman, American Policy Toward Russia Since 1917 (International Publishers, 1938). Of all the written accounts of the Revolution, John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook the World remains after twentyseven years the most exciting and enlightening. It is not difficult to understand why Lenin himself said that he read this classic of reportage with “the greatest interest and with never slackening attention.” The facts regarding Ambassador David Francis’s secret dealings with the counterrevolutionary forces and the various anti-Soviet intrigues in which he became involved are drawn from his own confidential reports to the State Department, subsequently published in Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of she United otates, 1918, Russia; and also from Francis’s autobiographical account, Russia From the American Embassy, April 1916-November 1913 (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1931). Other useful sources describing the intrigues of the period include Sir Samuel Hoare’s The Fourth Seal (London, W. Heinemann, Ltd., 1930); Alexander F. Kerensky’s The Catastrophe and The Crucifixion of Liberty (New York, John Day, 1934); and Boris Viktorovich Savinkov’s Memoirs of a Terrorist (New York, A. C. Boni, 1931). Each of these three books gives an interesting picture of the diverse elements among the forces fighting against the Soviets at the time of the Revolution. A fascinating and scholarly examination of the Brest-Litovsk peace controversy, with much interesting material on the activities of Trotsky and the Left Opposition at this time, is John Wheeler-Bennett’s The Forgotten Peace, Brest-Litovsk, March 1918 (New York, Morrow, 1939). Bruce Lockhart has written his own account of his mission and his experiences in Russia during the Revolution in British Agent (New York, Garden City Publishing Company, 1933). Additional firsthand material may be found in Captain Jacques Sadoul’s The Socialist R. public of Russia (London, People’s Russian Information Bureau, 1918). The notorious socalled “Sisson Documents,” which purported to show that the Bolshevik Revolution was a plot engineered by the German High Command and certain German banks, were first published in the United States as The German-Bolshevik Conspiracy (U. S. Public Information Committee, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1918). Leon Trotsky’s account of the Brest-Litovsk negotiations and a polemical justification of his conduct throughout the revolutionary period may be consulted in Trotsky’s The History of the Russian Revolution, translated from the Russian by Max Eastman (New York, Simon and Schuster, 1932).


For the basic material in this chapter dealing with the career and exploits of Captain Sidney George Reilly of the British Secret Intelligence Service the authors have drawn extensively on Reilly’s personal narrative as contained in Britain’s Master Spy, Sidney Reilly’s Narrative written by Himself, edited and compiled by His Wife (New York, Harper and Brothers, 1933). Although written in a style reminiscent of the lurid British “penny dreadfuls,” this account by the British master spy of his own conspiracy against the Soviet Government remains the most complete record of its kind available in print. Additional material on Reilly’s career and personality may be found in Winfried Ludecke’s Secrets of Espionage (New York, J. B. Lippincott Company, 1929); Richard Wilmer Rowan’s Terror in Our Time (New York, Longmans, Green and Company, 1941); R. H. Bruce Lockhart’s British Agent (New York, Garden City Publishing Company, Inc., 1933); and in the accounts of British Secret Intelligence Operations in Soviet Russia written by Reilly’s friend and colleague, George Hill: Go Spy the Land, Being the Adventures o f I.K.8 o f the British Secret Service (London, Cassell & Company, Ltd., 1932) and Dreaded Hour (London, Cassell & Company, Ltd., 1936). The dialogue in this chapter, unless otherwise so indicated in the text, is quoted from Reilly’s own narrative.


The basic material for the account of the American Expedition in Siberia is drawn from General William S. Graves’s American Siberian Adventure, 1918-1920 (New York, Jonathan Cape and Harrison Smith, 1931). No other book gives so vivid a picture of this phase of the war, of intervention against Soviet Russia. Of considerable interest is the foreword to Graves’s book by the former Secretary of War, Newton D. Baker. Material supplementing Graves’s account of the Siberian expedition is to be found in the Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations o f the United States, 1918 (Russia); David Francis’s Russia From the American Embassy, April 1916-November 1918; Lansing Papers, 1914-1920, 2 volumes; and George Stewart, The White Armies o f Russia (New York, The Macmillan Company, 1933).


Contemporary periodicals and newspapers offer valuable material on public sentiment and the general mood in Europe and the United States at the rime of the Versailles Treaty. The authors have consulted in particular the New York Times, the Nation, the New Republic and the Literary Digest. Of special interest is Walter Lippmann’s and Charles Merz’s A Test o f the News, Supplement to the August 4, 1920, issue of New Republic. Other useful sources are George Seldes, World Panorama, 1918-1935 (New York, Blue Ribbon Books, Inc., 1935); Roger Burlingham and Alden Stevens, Victory Without Peace (New York, Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1944); The Bullitt Mission to Russia (New York, B. W. Huebsch, 1919). A remarkable description of the various inter-Allied intrigues in Paris at the time of the Versailles Peace Conference appears in Herbert O. Yardley’s The American Black Chamber (New York, Blue Ribbon Books, Inc., 1931; published in England under the title of Secret Service in America, Faber and Faber, Limited, 1931). For the discussions at the Paris Peace Conference the authors have drawn heavily upon the Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States: The Paris Peace Conference 1919, Volumes III and IV. Material of interest regarding Churchill’s role is included in Rene Kraus’s popular biography Winston Churchill (New York, J. B. Lippincott Company, 1940).


There is extensive material dealing with the war of intervention against Soviet Russia. The authors have drawn chiefly upon these sources: William Payton Coates and C. Z. Coates, Armed Intervention in Russia, 1918-22 (London, Victor Gollancz, Ltd., 1935); George Stewart, The White Armies o f Russia,* Captain Sergei N. Kournakoff, Russia’s Fighting Forces (New York, International Publishers, 1942); History of the Civil War in the U.S.S.R., Edited by Gorky, Molotov, Voroshilov and others (London, Lawrence and Wishart, Ltd., 1937); V. Parvenov, The Intervention in Siberia (New York, Workers Library Publishers, 1937); History o f the Communist Party o f the Soviet Union (New York, International Publishers, 1939); Winston S. Churchill, The World Crisis: The Aftermath (New York, Doubleday, Page and Company, 1922); and Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1918, Russia, Vols. I, II and III. Among the numerous personal accounts dealing with this period, the authors have made particular reference to the following: Ralph Albertson, Fighting Without a War, An Account of Military Intervention in North Russia (New York, Harcourt, Brace and Howe, 1920); John C. Cudahy, Archangel: The American War with Russia, by A Chronicler (Chicago, S. C. McClure Company, 1924); and Sir Paul Dukes, Red Dusk and the Morrow (New York, Doubleday, Page and Company, 1922). David Francis’s Russia From the American Embassy, April 1916-November 1918, includes a most interesting description of the situation in Archangel during the early days of intervention, as does Francis’s testimony in 1919 before the Senate Subcommittee investigating German and Bolshevik Propaganda. General William S. Graves’s American Siberian Adventure, 1918-1920, is an indispensable source of material on intervention in Siberia. The character of the White Guard counterrevolutionary forces in Eastern Russia and the type of warfare they waged are impressionistically described in Vladimir Pozner’s Bloody Baron, The Story of Baron Roman von Ungern Sternberg (New York, Random House, 1936).


For the details of Herbert Hoover’s financial investments and promotional operations in Czarist Russia and for material on his anti-Soviet activities as Food Relief Administrator, the authors have drawn largely from three biographies of Hoover: John Knox, The Great Mistake (Washington, D. C., National Foundation Press, Inc., 1930); Walter Liggett, The Rise of Herbert Hoover (New York, the H. U. Fly Company, 1932); and John Hamill, The Strange Career o f Herbert Hoover Under Two Flags (New York, William Faro, Inc., 1931). General material regarding foreign investments in Czarist Russia is to be found in Colonel Cecil L’Estrange Malone’s speech in the House of Commons on foreign investments in Czarist Russia as quoted in the November 13, 1920, issue of Soviet Russia, the official organ of the Russian Soviet Government Bureau, published in New York City. Further material on this subject is contained in Colonel Malone’s The Russian Republic (New York, Harcourt, Brace and Howe,1920).


The phrase “ferment of the aftermath” which the authors have used as the subtitle to the opening section of this chapter is borrowed from Winston Churchill, and the material illustrating the world-wide uncertainty, unrest and insecurity of the postwar period is drawn from the excellent compilation of newspaper clippings and contemporary comment published by George Seldes, under the title World Panorama, 1918-1935 (New York, Blue Ribbon Books, Inc., 1935). The authors have also made reference to contemporary newspapers and magazines. The revealing British Foreign Office memorandum quoted in this chapter was first made public by the newspaperman and dramatist John L. Balderstone; it is reproduced in more detail in the Seldes book. Material on the little-known and extraordinary story of the great exodus of the defeated White armies from Soviet Russia may be found in George Stewart’s The White Armies o f Russia (New Yoik, The Macmillan Company, 1933) and in the memoirs written by some of the persons involved, Wrangel, Denikin, Krasnov, etc. A full account of the establishment, character and composition of the Torgprom may be found in Wreckers on Trial, A Record of the Trial of the Industrial Party, held in Moscow, November-December 1930 (New York, Workers Library Publishers, 1931). The most interesting and complete account of the early development of Nazi ideology and the role of Alfred Rosenberg and his White Russian associates is contained in Konrad Heiden’s Der Fuehrer (Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1944). The authors are also indebted to Heiden’s A History o f National Socialism (New fork, Alfred A. Knopf, 1935) and National Socialism, a document published by the U. S. State Department (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1943). The part played by General Max Hoffmann in the White Russian and German imperialist conspiracies which preceded and led up to the triumph of Nazism is brilliantly expounded in Ernst Henri’s Hitler Over Russia? (New York, Simon and Schuster, 1936). The authors have also consulted Hoffmann’s The War of Lost Opportunities (New York, International Publishers, 1925) and War Diaries and other Papers (London, M. Lecker, 1929) and the famous diplomatic diary of the British Ambassador Lord D’Abernon, The Diary of an Ambassador: Versailles to Rapallo, 1920.1922 (New York, Doubleday, Doran and Company, 1929). Additional valuable material on the collaboration of early Nazism with the anti-White Russian emigres may be found in The Brown Network (New York, Knight Publications, Inc., 1936).


The material concerning the activities of Captain Sidney Reilly and his wife, including the dialogue and letters quoted in this chapter, is drawn from Mrs. Reilly s memoirs which form the second part of the book Britain’s Master Spy (see note to Chapter III). Mrs. Reilly’s memoirs contain an account of the anti-Soviet conspiracy in which she became involved following her marriage to Sidney Reilly and in which, by her own account, she continued to participate for some time after his death. For our account of the personality and career of Boris Savinkov we have drawn on Savinkov’s Memoirs o f a Terrorist (New York, A. C. Boni, 1931); Boris Nikolajewsky’s Ase ff, the Spy (New York, Doubleday, Doran and Company, 1934); and on the vivid and candid biographical sketch of Savinkov written by Winston Churchill in Great Contemporaries (New York, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1937). Somerset Maugham’s impressions of Boris Savinkov may be found in Maugham’s article “The Strangest Man I Ever Knew,” Red Book magazine, October 1944. The description by Savinkov’s aide, Fomitchov, of the organization of anti-Soviet terrorist cells financed and armed by the Polish Intelligence Service is quoted from Fomicchov’s letter of September 17, 1924, to Izvestia, as reprinted in the October 2, 1924, issue of International Press Correspondence (English Edition, Vol. 4, No. 70, Vienna). For a full and enlightening account of the secret war waged at this period by international oil interests against the Soviet Government see Glyn Roberts’s The Most Powerful Man in the World (New York, Covici-Friede, 1938). Roberts’s book, a biography of Sir Henri Deterding, devotes considerable attention to Deterding’s crusade against Soviet Russia, and traces the influence of Deterding through such notorious anti-Soviet incidents in British politics as the Arcos Raid, Zinoviev Letter, etc. Additional material concerning the attitude of the oil interests toward Soviet Russia may be found in Francis Delaisi’s Oil: Its Influence or Politics (London, Labour Publishing Company, 1922) and R. Page Arnot’s The Politics o f Oil (London, Labour Publishing Company, 1924). There are also numerous references to the subject in reports in the London Times, Morning Post, Daily Mail and the New York Times concerning the negotiations at the Genoa and the Hague economic conferences of the period 1922-1924. An inside picture of the intrigues of the oil interests during this period is to be found in George Hill’s Dreaded Hour (London, Cassell & Company, Ltd., 1936). A detailed account of the Noi Jordania uprising in the Caucasus, including quotations from secret communications between the conspirators which were seized by the Soviet authorities, may be found in the October 9, 1924, issue of International Press Correspondence (Vol. 4, No. 72). An interesting report of the trial of Boris Savinkov and his sensational testimony to the court can be found in the September 11, 1924, issue of International Press Correspondence (Vol. 4, No. 65).


The facts regarding Captain Sidney Reilly’s anti-Soviet operations in the United States and his last secret mission in Soviet Russia are taker. from Britain’s Master Spy, Sidney Reilly’s Narrative written by Himself, edited and compiled by His Wife. The material on Henry Ford’s anti-Semitic and anti-democratic activities in the early 1920’s is drawn largely from the sensational series of articles by Norman Hapgood which appeared under the title “The Inside Story of Henry Ford’s Jew Mania” in the JuneNovember, 1921, issues of Hearst’s International. The files of Henry Ford’s Dearborn Independent are replete with anti-Semitic and anti-democratic propaganda. The intrigues in which Boris Brasol was involved in the early 1920’s are also described in Norman Hapgood’s articles in Hearst’s International. The sort of anti-democratic and anti-Semitic propaganda which Brasol spread in the United States is amply illustrated by his own books, such as The World at the Crossroads (Boston, Small, Maynard and Company, 1921). An interesting account of the origin and record of The Protocols o f the Wise Men o f Zion, which Brasol distributed in the United States, appears in Konrad Heiden’s Der Fuehrer (New York, Lexington Press, 1944).


Material and comment on the diplomatic atmosphere in Europe and Asia throughout this period may be found in’R. Palme Dhtt’s World Politics (New York, Random House, 1936), and in F. L. Schuman’s International Politics, Third Edition (New York, McGraw-Hill, 1941). The Tanaka Memorial has been reprinted in the pamphlet Japanese Imperialism Exposed, The Secret Tanaka Document (New York, International Publishers, 1942). Glyn Roberts’s biography of Sir Henri Deterding contains many revelations of the hectic anti-Soviet intrigues in which Deterding, Hoffmann and their associates were involved during this period. The account of the meeting in Paris in 1928 attended by Professor Ramzin at which Demsov announced that the French General Staff had drawn up a plan of attack against Soviet Russia is drawn from the court testimony of Professor Ramzin and others before the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R. as recorded in Wreckers on Trial, A Record o f the Trial o f the Industrial Party, held in Moscow November-December 1930 (New York, Workers Library Publishers, 1931). This record also contains the details of the plan of attack on the U.S.S.R. and testimony regarding the various negotiations carried on by Ramzin and others with French, British and German political and industrial personalities. The mysterious affair of the Chervonetz Trial is dealt with by Glyn Roberts in his biography of Deterding; see also the New York Times reports on the Trial in 1927 and Ernst Henri’s Hitler Over Russia? (New York, Simon and Schuster, 1936).


The facts regarding the trial of the Industrial Party conspirators in the winter of 1930 are taken from contemporary newspaper accounts and from the record of the trial as published in Wreckers on Trial, A Record of the Trial of the Industrial Party, held in Moscow, November-December, 1930 (New York, Workers Library Publishers, 1931). Testimony from the Menshevik Trial in March 1931 is recorded in The Menshevik Trial (New York, Workers Library Publishers, 1931). A collection of contemporary statements regarding the Menshevik trial by emigre Russian Mensheviks and their associates in the Second International is presented in the pamphlet The Moscow Trial and the Labour and Socialist International (London, The Labour Party, 1931); this pamphlet includes an article by Raphael Abramovitch entitled “My journey to Moscow,” in which he denies certain of the accusations made against him at the trial but admits the existence of a secret conspiratorial Menshevik apparatus in Soviet Russia. A verbatim record of the trial of the Vickers engineers in April 1933 is given in the Trial o f the Vickers Engineers: Official Vertatim Report: Proceedings of Special Session of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R. in Moscow, April 12-19, 1933, three volumes (Moscow, State Law Publishing House, 1933). A very interesting and outspoken account of the discussions between the British Ambassador to Russia, Sir Esmond Ovey, and the Soviet Commissar of Foreign Affairs, Maxim Litvinov, regarding the arrest and trial of the Vickers engineers may be found in the Red Paper Lsued in Moscow by the Soviet Government on April 16, 1933. Allan Monkhouse’s own version of his arrest and trial by the Soviet Government is contained in his book Moscow 1911-1933 (Boston, Little, Brown and Company, 1934). A brief but comprehensive account of the reaction of the British press to the trial of the Vickers engineers can be found in Maurice Dobb’s The Press and the Moscow Trial (London, Friends of the Soviet Union, 1933). For the description of Hitler’s coming to power in Germany the authors have made special reference to Konrad Heiden’s A History of National Socialism (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1935). Material has also been drawn from Adolf Hitler, My New Order, edited with commentary by Raoul de Roussv de Sales, New York, Reynal and Hitchcock, 1941. Hitler’s Mein,’Kampf offers the most vivid example possible of the employment by the Fascist Counterrevolution of the propa ganda device of the “menace of Bolshevism.” Useful sources of material for the period immediately following the establishment of the Third Reich are: Roosevelt’s Foreign Policy, 1933-1941, (New York, William Funk, Inc., 1942); Frederick L. Schuman’s Europe on the Eve (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1939); The Brown Network (New York, Knight Publications, 1936); and Ernst Henri’s two remarkable and prophetic books, Hitler Over Europe (New York, Simon and Schuster, 1934) and Hitler Over Russia? (New York, Simon and Schuster, 1936).


Trotsky’s own account of his early career may be found in his autobiography, My Life (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1931), and in his own early political writings. Firsthand impressions of Trotsky in 1918 may be found in Bruce Lockhart’s British Agent and in Raymond Robins’s testimony before the Overman Committee in 1919. For Lenin’s estimate of Trotsky we have consulted in particular Lenin’s Selected Works (New York, International Publishers) and Vladimir I. Lenin, A Political Biography Prepared by the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute, Moscow (New York, International Publishers, 1943). The best Soviet account available in English of the development of the Bolshevik Party and the significance of Trotsky’s struggle against Lenin and Stalin is N.. Popov’s Outline History o f the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, two volumes (Moscow-Leningrad, CoOperative Publishing Society of Foreign Workers in the U.S.S.R., 1934). A later Soviet history containing the new material made available as a result of the Moscow Trials is the official History o f the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), Edited by a Commission of the Central Committee of the C.P.S. U. (B) (New York, International Publishers, 1939). Very interesting material on Trotsky’s political career before and after the Russian Revolution may be found in the speeches by various Soviet officials, including Stalin, Krupskaya, Zinoviev and Kamenev, collected in The Errors of Trotskyism (London, Centropress, 1925). A lively report of an interview with Trotsky in Moscow in 1924 and other journalistic materia’i on Trotsky is contained in Isaac F. Marcosson’s Turbulent Years (New York, Dodd, Mead and Company, 1938). Winston Churchill’s acid portrait of Trotsky in Great Contemporaries is valuable, among other things, for the light it sheds on Churchill’s attitude towards Trotsky. Additional historical material covering the period of Trotsky’s factional struggle within the Bolshevik Party may be found in Sir Bernard Pares’s Russia (New York, Penguin Books, 1943) and a dispassionate estimate of the political program of the Trotskyite faction is contained in the second volume of Sidney and Beatrice Webb’s Soviet Communism, A New Civilization? (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1937). (In a later edition of their book, the Webbs have omitted the question mark in the subtitle.) Material concerning Trotsky’s. conspiratorial intrigues against the Soviet Government while Lenin was still alive and after Lenin’s death may be found in the little-known pamphlet written by Trotsky on the death of his son in Paris in 1938: Leon Sedoff, Son-Friend-Fighter (New York, Young People’s Socialist League – Fourth International – 1938). This pamphlet also contains material on Trotsky and Sedov in Alma Ata, including an account of the organization of the underground Trotskyite courier system which Sedov supervised. There are numerous journalistic records cf Trotsky in exile at Constantinople and Prinkipo which may be found in the newspapers and magazines of the period. Three articles of major interest are S. Saenger’s “With Trotsky in Constantinople,” Living Age, July 1929; Emil Ludwig’s “Trotsky in Exile,” Living Age, February 1930; and John Gunther s “Trotsky at Elba,” Harper’s Magazine, April 1932. A documented examination of Trotsky’s political career, with a polemical account of the evolution of Trotsky’s faction into a conspiratorial anti-Soviet organization, is J. R. Campbell’s Soviet Policy and Its Critics (London, Victor Gollancz, Ltd., 1939). Unless otherwise so indicated in the text, the material – quotations, dialogue and incidents – concerning the secret intrigues of the Trots kyitr~ and Right conspirators and their connections with foreign Intelligence Services is drawn directly from the official records of the three Moscow Trials held before the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R. in August 1936, January 1937 and March 1938. For example, the details of Krestinsky’s negotiations with General Seeckt and of Rakovsky’s dealings with the British Intelligence Service in the 1920’s are drawn from KrestinskoJ ‘s and Rakovsky’s testimony before the Military Collegium of the Soviet Supreme Court in 1938. Similarly, the account of the meetings and negotiations in Berlin between Sedov,Pyatakov, Shestov, Smirnov, etc. are drawn from the testimonyof Smirnov in 1936 and Pyatakov, Shestov and others in 1937.Stacements by Trotsky and his son, Sedov, are given here and in subsequent chapters as quoted by their fellow conspirators testifying at the trials. The records of the trials are available in three volumes: Report o f Court Proceedings in the Case o f the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center, August 19-24, 1936 (Peoples Commissariat of Justice of the U.S.S.R., Moscow, 1936); Verbatim Report o f Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Center, January 23-30, 1937 (Peoples Commissariat of Justice of the U.S.S.R., Moscow 1937); Verbatim Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites, March 2-13, 1938 (Peoples Commissariat of Justice of the U.S.S.R., Moscow 1938). These volumes are a source of basic material on anti-Soviet intrigue, especially during the period of Trotsky’s exile from Soviet Russia and Hitler’s coming to power in Germany. The official public records of these trials, comprising more than 1500 pages of detailed testimony, are not only fascinating reading but also represent the most comprehensive public expose ever made of a contemporary secret state conspiracy. In addition, these records contain the first full disclosures of the inner workings of an Axis Fifth Column. They are an invaluable source of material for this period in world history, in which the Axis Fifth Columns played a major role.


Material on Nazi-fascist terrorism and the organization of the Fifth Column in Europe during the years immediately following Hitler’s rise to power may be found in such books as The Brown Network; Ernst Henri’s Hitler Over Europe and Hitler Over Russia?; Konrad Heiden’s History of National Socialism; and in numerous newspaper reports and magazine articles. An excellent account of Axis preparations for conquest by “internal aggression” is given in Elwyn F. Jones’s The Battle for Peace (London, Victor Gollancz, Ltd., 1938). The basic material on the operations of the Trotskyite and Right conspirators in Soviet Russia is drawn here as in the preceding chapters from the official records of the three Moscow Trials held before the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R. in August 1936, January 1937 and March 1938. Firsthand reports of evidence of underground conspiracy and sabotage in Soviet Russia during this period may be found in the dispatches of Walter Duranty in the New York Times, in those of Joseph E. Barnes in the New York Herald Tribune and in other contemporary newspaper reports. Eyewitness accounts of the three Moscow Trials may be found in the New York Times, New York Herald Tribune, the Manchester Guardian and other American and British newspapers and magazines. The files of Soviet Russia Today contain many firsthand impressions of the three trials and discussions of their political implications. Walter Duranty’s The Kremlin and the People (New York, Reynal and Hitchcock, 1941) recapitulates his personal reactions as an American newspaperman in Moscow at the three trials. Additional firsthand data is contained in D. N. Pritt’s At the Moscow Trial (New York, Soviet Russia Today, 1937) and other writings by Pritt. John Gunther’s Inside Europe, Revised Edition (New York, Harper and Brothers, 1938), also contains a summary and evaluation of the trials. Material on the international diplomatic intrigue against collective security during the 1930’s may be found in Genevieve Tabouis’s They Call Me Cas..andra (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1942) and in Bella Fromm’s Blood and Banquets, A Berlin Social Diary (New York, Harper and Brothers, 1942). Both of these books contain interesting information on Tukhachevsky’s relations with foreign diplomats and militarists. An indispensable source of material is Joseph E. Davies’s Mission to Moscow (New York, Simon and Schuster, 1941); this unique book is based on the personal observations of the American Ambassador to the Soviet Union and on his official reports to the U. S. State Department.


Trotsky’s reaction to the 1936 and 1937 trials may be found in the pamphlet I Stake My Life, Trotsky’s Address to the N. Y. Hippodrome Meeting (New York, Pioneer Publishers, 1937) and more elaborately in The Case of Leon Trotsky (Harper and Brothers, 1937), which is the record of the hearings staged in Mexico by the Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky. Further Trotskyite material on the trials is contained in Max Schachtman’s Behind the Moscow Trials (New York, Pioneer Publishers, 1936). Articles in contemporary American periodicals by Max Eastman, William Henry Chamberlin, Eugene Lyons and other antiSoviet writers repeat, according to the individual styles of the and.ors, the basic arguments and propaganda put forth by Trotrkv. Contemporary periodicals may also be referred to for descriptions of Trotsky’s mode of life in his Mexican exile. Examples of Trotskyite propaganda circulated in America may be found in The Fourth Tnternational and The Militant. A documented account of the role of the Trotskyites during the Spanish Fascist revolt in Spain is to be found in the pamphlet by George Soria, Trotskyisnn,in the Service o f Franco, A Documented Record of the Trea^fiery by the P.O.U.M. in Spain (New York, International Publishers, 1938). Material on the role of the Trotskyites in China may he found in Agnes Smedley’s Red Flood Over China (Moscow-Leningrad, Co-operative Publishing Society of Foreign Workers in the U.S.S.R., 1934) and Battle Hymn of China (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1943); and in Anna Louise Strong’s One-Fifth o f Mankind, China Fights for Freedom (New York, Modern Age Books, 1938). Josef Stalin’s famous report to the Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, published as Mastering Bolshevism (New York, Workers Library Publishers, 1937), deals in some detail with the character and activities of the Trotskyites in Russia and makes reference to the activities of the Fourth International in Norway, France, Germany and the United States. Material on Trotsky’s negotiations with the Dies Committee is contained in August Raymond Ogden’s The Dies Committee (Washington, The Catholic University of America Press, 1943). The New York Times of the period contains detailed reports on the murder of Trotsky and the “Jacson” case. The Trotskyite version of the murder a:: an “act of Stalin’s vengeance” may be found in Albert Goldman’s The Assassination of Leon Trotsky (New York, Pioneer Publishers, 1941); in contemporary articles in the American Trotskyite newspaper the Militant and in the article in the Militant by Betty Kuehn, Trial of Trotsky’s Murderer (April 1943).


A general survey of the period 1931-1941, with regrettably sparse reference to Soviet Russia, is contained in the official U. S. State Department publication, Peace and War: United States Foreign Poli-,y (Washington, Department of State, 1943). Two invaluable books covering this period of latent war and endless diplomatic intrigue are Frederick L. Schuman’s Europe on the Eve (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1939) and Night Over Europe (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1941). Further material on the period may be found in John Gunther’s Inside Europe, Revised Edition (New York, Harper and Brothers, 1938); F. Elwy n Jones’s The Attack from Within, The Modern Technique of Aggression (London, Penguin Books, Ltd., 1939); Joseph E. Davies’s Mission to Moscow (New York, Simon and Schuster, 1941); Ambassador Dodd’s Diary (New York, Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1941); R. Palme Dutt’s World Politics: and, especially, the files of the New York Times of this period. A historic Soviet document of the period is Stalin’s Report on the Work of the Central Committee to the Eighteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U. (B), March 10, 1939 (New York, International Publishers, 1939). A valuable book on Soviet relations with the Baltic States is Gregory Meiksins’s The Baltic Riddle (New York, L. B. Fischer, 1943). General material op the Red Army’s march into the Baltic, the Balkans and Finland will be found in the files of Soviet Russia Today. Of the very many books written about the fall of France the authors have drawn on Pierre Cot’s Triumph of Treason (Chicago-New York, Ziff-Davis Publishing Company, 1944) and Pertinax’s The Gravediggers of France (New York, Doubleday, Doran and Company, 1944). The files of the New York Times and other newspapers and magazines of the period are an indispensable source of material.


An excellent summary of the reaction of the American press to the invasion of Soviet Russia by Nazi Germany in June 1941 is contained in George Seldes’s The Facts Are, A Guide to Falsehood and Propaganda in the Press and Radio (New York, In Fact, Inc., 1942). For material dealing with the anti-Soviet activities of fifth columnists and White Russian emigres, the authors have drawn extensively upon their own files. Sources of published data on pro-fascist “anti-Bolshevik” operations of subversive individuals and agencies in America include Michael Sayers and Aibert E. Kahn, Sabotage: The Secret War Against America (New York, Harper and Brothers, 1942); John Roy Carlson, Under Cover (New York, E. P. Dutton & Company, 1943); and the newsletter The Hour, April 1939-May 1943. One of the most interesting pieces of Nazi-sponsored “anti-Communist” propaganda distributed in the United States is Communism in Germany, The Truth About the Communist Conspiracy on the Eve of the National Revolution (Berlin,.Europa House, 1933), which contains a commendatory foreword signed by various Americans including Representative Hamilton Fish. One could list endlessly sources of anti-Soviet propaganda in books, newspapers and magazines published in the United States. Typical of the myriad pro-Nazi and “anti-Communist” propaganda publications that appeared in the United States following Hitler’s rise to power in Germany are Deutscher Weckruf and Beobachter, the official organ of the German-American Bund; Father Charles E. Coughlin’s Social Justice; William Dudley Pelley’s Liberator; Gerald Winrod’s Defender; Court Asher’s X-Ray; and E. J. Garner’s Publicity. Interesting material on the relationship between Representative Hamilton Fish and the German agent George Sylvester Viereck is contained in the testimony of Fish’s secretary, George Hill, during the Federal trial of Viereck in February 1942 in Washington, D. C.; the most detailed reports of this trial may be found in a series of articles by Dillard Stokes in the Washington Post. William E. Dodd’s views regarding the activities of the German propaganda agent Paul Scheffer are expressed in the published diary of the American Ambassador to Germany: Ambassador Dodd’s Diary, Edited by William E. Dodd, Jr., and Martha Dodd (New York, Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1941). Ample evidence of Scheffer’s anti-Soviet propaganda work in the United States can be found in his own articles in Living Age, Foreign Affairs, Fortnightly Review and other such periodicals. The published records of Martin Dies’s Special Committee on UnAmerican Activities contains a vast amount of anti-Soviet propaganda. Other important examples of anti-Soviet propaganda are Martin Dies’s Trojan Horse in America (New Y(Tk, Dodd Mead & Company, 1940) and Jan Valtin’s Out of the Night (New York, Alliance Book Corporation, 1941). An interesting analysis of the reactionary use of “anti-Communistic” propaganda in the United States may be found in George Seldes’s Witchhunt (New York, Modern Age, 1940). The extensive anti-Soviet propaganda circulated by the America First Committee is amply illustrated in the bulletins of the America First Research Bureau and in the Herald and Scribner’s Commentator, two publications sponsored by the Committee, as well as in the public addresses before America First rallies of such America First spokesmen as Representative Hamilton Fish, Senator Gerald P. Nye and Sena tor Burton K. Wheeler, whose speeches are quoted at length in the New York Times and other newspapers. Particularly inter esting accounts of Charles A. Lindbergh’s pro-appeasement ac tivities in Great Britain and in Central Europe during the summer of 1938 are contained in the English newsletter, the Week, and in Bella Fromm’s Blood and Banquets. The files of the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News, the Washington Times Herald, and the Hearst press are an especially abundant source of propaganda against the Soviet Union. Pertinent information on the anti-Soviet sentiments of William C. Bullitt is contained in Ambassador Dodd’s Diary.


Documented evidence of the Polish anti-Soviet conspiracy is to be found in the Soviet Government’s indictment of the sixteen agents of the Polish Governnment-in-Exile tried in Moscow in June 1945; the translated text of this indictment is published in the pamphlet, The Case of the 16 Poles (New York, The National Council of American-Soviet Friendship, Inc., 1945). Additional details of the conspiracy, made public in the testimony of the Polish conspirators during their trial in Moscow, appear in the cabled dispatches of American foreign correspondents to the New York Times, New York Herald Tribune and PM. A comprehensive account of earlier anti-Soviet intrigues of Polish emigres in Russia is contained in the lengthy statement released on May 18, 1943, to the British and American press by the Soviet Vice Commissar of Foreign Affairs, A. Y. Vyshinsky. Raymond Leslie Buell’s Poland: Key to Europe (New York, A. A. Knopf, 1939) contains useful background material on Poland.


A source of basic material on Soviet affairs during the war against Nazi Germany is the excellent Information Bulletin issued three times weekly by the Soviet Embassy at Washington, D. C. There are numerous books by American correspondents, such as Henry C. Cassidy, Larry Lesueur, Maurice Hindus, Leland Stowe, Quentin Reynolds, Richard Lauterbach, Edgar Snow and Ralph Parker, who visited the Soviet Union during the conflict and brought back their eyewitness reports. The cabled dispatches of Maurice Hindus to the New York Herald Tribune and those of Ralph Parker to PM are especially vivid in their record of what the Soviet people endured during the war years and what they expect of future co-operation with their allies. Wendell Willkie’s One World (New York, Simon and Schuster, 1943) is a great American’s personal statement of the ideals summed up in the Teheran Proclamation. A similar American statement is to be found in `halter Lippmann’s study of American foreign policy, U. S. Foreign Policy: Shield of the Republic (Boston, Little, Brown and Company and Atlantic Monthly Press, 1943).

The Great Conspiracy: the secret war against soviet Russia (by Albert E. Kahn and Michael Sayers) PART III

Book Three: Russia’s Fifth Column

CHAPTER XV – The Path to Treason

1. Rebel among Revolutionaries

From the moment Hitler took power in Germany, the international counterrevolution became an integral part of the Nazi plan of world conquest. In every country, Hitler mobilized the counterrevolutionary forces which for the past fifteen years had been organizing throughout the world. These forces were now converted into the Fifth Columns of Nazi Germany, organizations of treason, espionage and terror. These Fifth Columns were the secret vanguards of the German Wehrmacht.

One of the most powerful and important of these Fifth Columns operated in Soviet Russia. It was headed by a man who was perhaps the most remarkable political renegade in all history.

The name of this man was Leon Trotsky.

When the Third Reich came into being, Leon Trotsky was already the leader of an international anti-Soviet conspiracy with powerful forces inside the Soviet Union. Trotsky in exile was plotting the overthrow of the Soviet Government, his own return to Russia and the assumption of that personal power he had once so nearly held.

“There was a time,” Winston Churchill wrote in Great Contemporaries, “when Trotsky stood very close to the vacant throne of the Romanovs.”

In 1919-1920, the world press dubbed Trotsky the “Red Napoleon.” Trotsky was War Commissar. Dressed in a long smart military topcoat, with shining high boots, an automatic pistol on his hip, Trotsky toured the battlefronts delivering fiery orations to the Red Army soldiers. He converted an armored train into his private headquarters and surrounded himself with a specially uniformed, personal armed bodyguard. He had his own faction in the Army Command, in the Bolshevik Party and in the Soviet Government. Trotsky’s train, Trotsky’s guard, Trotsky’s speeches, Trotsky’s features – his shock of black hair, his little black pointed beard and his darting eyes behind his glittering pince-nez – were world-famous. In Europe and in the United States, the victories of the Red Army were credited to “Trotsky’s leadership.”

Here is how War Commissar Trotsky, addressing one of his spectacular mass rallies in Moscow, was described by the famous American foreign correspondent, Isaac F. Marcosson: –

Trotsky made his appearance in what actors call a good entrance . . . after a delay, and at the right psychological moment, he emerged from the wings and walked with quick steps to the little pulpit which is provided for speakers at all Russian gatherings.

Even before he came on the stage there was a tremor of anticipation throughout the great audience. You could get the murmur, “Trotsky comes.” . . .

On the platform his voice was rich, deep and eloquent. He attracted and repelled; dominated and domineered. He was elemental, almost primitive in his fervor – a high-powered human engine. He inundated his hearers with a Niagara of speech, the like of which I have never heard. Vanity and arrogance stood out pre-eminently.

After his dramatic deportation from Soviet Russia in 1929, a myth was woven by anti-Soviet elements throughout the world around the name and personality of Leon Trotsky. According to this myth Trotsky was “the outstanding Bolshevik leader of the Russian Revolution” and “Lenin’s inspirer, closest co-worker and logical successor.”

But in February 1917, one month before the collapse of Czarist, Lenin himself wrote: –

The name Trotsky signifies: Left phraseology and a bloc with the right against the aim of the left.

Lenin called Trotsky the “Judas” of the Russian Revolution.(1)

Traitors are made, not born. Like Benito Mussolini, Pierre Laval, Paul Joseph Goebbels, Jacques Doriot, Wang Ching-wei and other notorious adventurers of modern times, Leon Trotsky began his career as a dissident, extreme leftist element within the revolutionary movement of his native land.

The name Trotsky was a pseudonym. He was born Lev Davidovich Bronstein, the son of prosperous middle-class parents, in Yanovka, a little farming village near Kherson in southern Russia, in 1879. His first ambition was to be an author.

“In my eyes,” Trotsky wrote in his autobiography My Life, “authors, journalists and artists always stood for a world that was more attractive than any other, a world open to the elect.”

The youthful Trotsky started work on a play, and appeared in Odessa literary salons in high-heeled boots, wearing a blue artist’s smock, with a round straw hat on his head, and carrying a black cane. While still a student, he joined a group of bohemian radicals. At eighteen, he was arrested by the Czarist police for distributing left-wing literature and exiled, along with hundreds of other students and revolutionists, to Siberia. He escaped from Siberia in the fall of 1902, and went to live abroad, where he was to spend the greater part of his life as an agitator and conspirator among the Russian émigrés and cosmopolitan socialists in the European capitals.

For the first few months of 1903 Trotsky was a member of the staff of Iskra, the Marxist paper which Lenin was editing in exile in London. Following the Menshevik-Bolshevik split which took place in the Russian Marxist movement that summer, Trotsky became affiliated with Lenin’s political opponents, the Mensheviks. Trotsky’s literary talent, flamboyant oratory, dominating personality and flair for self-dramatization soon won him the reputation of being the most brilliant young Menshevik agitator. He toured the Russian radical student colonies of Brussels, Paris, Liege, Switzerland and Germany assailing Lenin and the other Bolsheviks who called for a disciplined, highly organized revolutionary party to lead the struggle against Czarism. In a pamphlet entitled Our Political Tasks, published in 1904, Trotsky accused Lenin of trying to impose a “barracks-room regime” on the Russian radicals. In language startlingly similar to that which he was later to use in his attacks on Stalin, the young Trotsky denounced Lenin as “the leader of the reactionary wing of our party.”

In 1905, following the Czarist defeat in the Russo-Japanese War, the workers and peasants rose in the abortive “first” Russian Revolution. Trotsky hastened back to Russia and became a leading member of the Menshevik-controlled St. Petersburg Soviet. In the hectic atmosphere of intrigue, the intense political conflict and the sense of imminent power, Trotsky found his element. At twenty-six, he emerged from the experience convinced that he was destined to be the leader of the Russian Revolution. Already Trotsky was talking in terms of his “fate” and his “revolutionary intuition.” Years later, in My Life, he wrote: –

I came to Russia in February of 1905; the other émigré leaders did not come until October and November. Among the Russian comrades, there was not one from whom I could learn anything. On the contrary, I had to assume the position of teacher myself. . . . In October, I plunged headlong into the gigantic whirlpool, which, in a personal sense, was the greatest test for my powers. Decisions had to be made under fire. I can’t help noting here that those decisions came to me quite obviously. . . . I organically felt that my years of apprenticeship were over . . . in the years that followed I have been learning as a master learns, and not as a pupil. . . . No great work is possible without intuition. . . . The events of 1905 revealed in me, I believe, this revolutionary intuition, and enabled me to rely on its assured support during my later life. . . . In all conscientiousness, I cannot, in the appreciation of the political situation, as a whole and of its revolutionary perspectives, accuse myself of any serious errors of judgment.

Abroad again, after the defeat of the 1905 revolution, Trotsky set up his own political headquarters in Vienna and, attacking Lenin as “a candidate for the post of dictator,” launched a propaganda campaign to build his own movement and to promote himself as a “revolutionary internationalist.” From Vienna, Trotsky moved restlessly to Rumania, Switzerland, France, Turkey, enlisting followers and forming valuable connections with European Socialists and leftist radicals. Gradually and persistently, among the Russian emigre Mensheviks, Social Revolutionaries and bohemian intellectuals, Trotsky built up a reputation for himself as Lenin’s chief rival within the Russian revolutionary movement.

“The whole construction of Leninism,” wrote Trotsky in a confidential letter to the Russian Menshevik leader Tscheidze, on February 23, 1913, “is at present built up on lies and contains the poisonous germ of its own disintegration.” Trotsky went on to tell his Menshevik associate that, in his opinion, Lenin was nothing more than “a professional exploiter of every backwardness in the Russian workers’ movement.”

The collapse of the Czar’s regime in March 1917 found Trotsky in New York City, editing a Russian radical newspaper, Novy Mir (New World), in collaboration with his friend and Lenin’s opponent, Nicolai Bukharin, an ultra-leftist Russian emigre politician whom one observer described as “a blond Machiavelli in a leather jacket.”(2) Trotsky hastily booked passage for Russia. His trip was interrupted when the Canadian authorities arrested him at Halifax. After being held in custody for a month, he was released at the request of the Russian Provisional Government and sailed for Petrograd.

The British Government had decided to let Trotsky return to Russia. According to the memoirs of the British agent Bruce Locknart, the British Intelligence Service believed it might be able to make use of the “dissensions between Trotsky and Lenin ” (3) . . .

Trotsky reached Petrograd in May. At first he tried to create a revolutionary party of his own – a bloc composed of former émigrés and extreme leftist elements from different radical parties. But it was soon clear that there was no future for Trotsky’s movement. The Bolshevik Party had the support of the revolutionary masses.

In August 1917, Trotsky made a sensational political somersault. After fourteen years of opposition to Lenin and the Bolsheviks, Trotsky applied for membership in the Bolshevik Party.

Lenin had repeatedly warned against Trotsky and his personal ambitions; but now, in the crucial struggle to establish a Soviet Government, Lenin’s policy called for a united front of all revolutionary factions, groups and parties. Trotsky was the spokesman for a sizable group. Outside of Russia his name was better known than that of any other Russian revolutionary except Lenin. Moreover, Trotsky’s unique talents as an orator, agitator and organizer could be used to great advantage by the Bolsheviks. Trotsky’s application for membership in the Bolshevik Party was accepted.

Characteristically, Trotsky made a spectacular entry into the Bolshevik Party. He brought with him into the Party his entire motley following of dissident leftists. As Lenin humorously put it, it was like coming to terms with a “major power.”

Trotsky became Chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, in which he had made his first revolutionary appearance in 1905. He held this position during the decisive days that followed. When the first Soviet Government was formed as a coalition of Bolsheviks, left Social Revolutionaries and former Mensheviks, Trotsky, became Foreign Commissar. His intimate knowledge of foreign languages and wide acquaintance with foreign countries fitted him for the post.

2. The Left Opposition

First as Foreign Commissar and then as War Commissar, Trotsky was the chief spokesman of the so-called Left Opposition within the Bolshevik Party.(4) Although few in number, the oppositionists were talented speakers and organizers. They had wide connections abroad, and among the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries in Russia. In the early days after the Revolution they secured important posts in the army, diplomatic corps and executive state institutions.

Trotsky shared the leadership of the Opposition with two other dissident radicals: Nicolai Bukharin, the slim, blond, self-styled “Marxist ideologist,” who headed a group of so-called “Left Communists”; and Grigori Zinoviev, the burly, eloquent leftist agitator, who, together with Trotsky’s brother-in-law, Leo Kamencv, led his own sect, called “Zinovievites.” Trotsky, Bukharin and Zinoviev frequently quarreled among themselves on questions of tactics, and because of personal rivalries and conflicting political ambitions, but at crucial moments they joined forces in repeated attempts to gain control of the Soviet Government.

Trotsky’s own followers included: Yuri Pyatakov, radical son of a rich Ukrainian family, who had fallen under Trotsky’s influence in Europe; Karl Radek, the brilliant Polish “leftist” journalist and agitator who had become associated with Trotsky in opposition to Lenin in Switzerland; Nicolai Krestinsky, a former lawyer and ambitious Bolshevik Duma representative; Grigori Sokolnikov, a youthful cosmopolitan radical who entered the Soviet Foreign Office under Trotsky’s auspices; and Christian Rakovsky, the former wealthy financial backer of the Rumanian Socialists, a Bulgarian by birth, who had lived in most European countries, taken a medical degree in France and become one of the leaders of the Ukrainian Soviet uprising in 1918.

In addition, as War Commissar, Trotsky surrounded himself with a clique of tough, violent army men who formed a special “Trotsky Guard” fanatically devoted to their “leader.” A prominent member of Trotsky’s military faction was Nicolai Muralov, the six-foot, daredevil commander of the Moscow Military Garrison. Trotsky’s personal bodyguard included Ivan Smirnov, Sergei Mrachkovsky and Ephraim Dreitzer. The former Social Revolutionary terrorist, Blumkin, the assassin of Count Mirbach, became chief of Trotsky’s personal bodyguard.(5)

Trotsky also allied himself with a number of former Czarist officers whom he befriended and, despite frequent warnings from the Bolshevik Party, placed in important military posts. One exCzarist officer with whom Trotsky became intimately associated in 1920, during the Polish campaign, was Mikhail Nicolayevich Tukhachevsky, a military leade: with Napoleonic ambitions of his own.

The aim of the combined Left Opposition was to supplant Lenin and take power in Soviet Russia.

The great issue facing the Russian revolutionaries after the defeat of the White Armies and the intervention was: What to do with the Soviet power? Trotsky, Bukharin and Zinoviev held that it was impossible to build socialism in “backward Russia.” The Left Opposition wanted to convert the Russian Revolution into a reservoir of “world revolution,” a world center from which to promote revolutions in other countries. Stripped of its “ultrarevolutionary verbiage,” as both Lenin and Stalin repeatedly pointed out, the Left Opposition really stood for a wild struggle for power, “bohemian anarchism” and, inside Russia, military dictatorship under War Commissar Trotsky and his associates.

The issue came to a head at the Congress of Soviets in December 1920. It was the coldest, hungriest and most crucial year of the Revolution. The Congress assembled in the Hall of Columns in Moscow. The city was snowbound, frozen stiff, starved and sick. In the great hall, unheated because of the fuel crisis, the Soviet delegates were wrapped in sheepskins, blankets and furs, shivering from the intense December cold.

Lenin, still pale and shaken from the aftereffects of Fanya Kaplav’s poisoned bullets which had so nearly ended his life in 1918, rose on the platform to give his reply to the Left Opposition. He described the terrible conditions prevailing in Russia. He called for national unity to meet the “incredible difficulties” of reorganizing economic and social life. He announced the New Economic Policy abolishing the rigid so-called “War Communism” and restoring a measure of private trade and capitalism in Russia and opening the way for the beginning of reconstruction. “We take one step backward,” said Lenin, “in order at a later date to take two steps forward!”

When Lenin announced the “temporary retreat” of the New Economic Policy, Trotsky exclaimed: “The cuckoo has cuckooed the end of the Soviet Government!”

But Lenin believed that the work of the Soviet Government had only begun. He told the Congress: –

Only when the country is electrified, when industry, agriculture and transport are placed on a technical basis of modern large-scale production – only then will our victory be complete.

There was a huge map of Russia on the platform. At a signal from Lenin, a switch was touched and. the map was suddenly illuminated. It showed the Congress how Lenin envisaged the future of his country. Electric lights sparkled on the map at multitudinous points, indicating to the frozen and hungry Soviet delegates the future power stations, hydroelectric dams and other vast projects from which streams of electrical energy would one day pour to transform Old Russia into a modern, industrialized, socialist nation. A murmur of excitement, applause and incredulity swept the cold, packed hall.

Trotsky’s friend, Karl Radek, watched the prophetic spectacle through his thick glasses, shrugged his shoulders, and whispered: “Electro-fiction!” Radek’s witticism became a Trotskyite slogan. Bukharin said Lenin was trying to fool the peasants and workers with his “Utopian chatter about electricity!”

Outside Soviet Russia, Trotsky’s international friends and supporters in Socialist and left Communist circles believed that Lenin’s regime was doomed. Many other observers also believed Trotsky and the Left Opposition were on the verge of power. The American foreign correspondent, Isaac F. Marcosson, reported that Trotsky had “the young Communists, most of the officers, and the rank and file of the Red Army behind him.” But the outside world, like Trotsky himself, overestimated his strength and popularity.

In an effort to rally a mass following, Trotsky toured the country, snaking dramatic appearances at public rallies, delivering impassioned speeches, accusing the “Old Bolsheviks” of having “degenerated,” and calling on the “youth” to support his movement. But the Russian soldiers, workers and peasants, fresh from the victorious struggle against the would-be White Napoleons, were in no mood to tolerate a “Red Napoleon” arising within their own ranks. As Sir Bernard Pares wrote in his History of Russia, concerning Trotsky at this period: –

An acute critic who saw him at close quarters has truly said that Trotsky by his nature and by his methods belonged to pre-revolutionary times. Demagogues were getting out of date. . . .

At the Tenth Bolshevik Party Congress, in March 1921, the Central Committee headed by Lenin passed a resolution outlawing all “factions” in the Party as a menace to the unity of the revolutionary leadership. From now on all party leaders would have to submit to the majority decisions and the majority rule, on penalty of expulsion from the Party. The Central Committee specifically warned “Comrade Trotsky” against his “factional activities,” and stated that “enemies of the State,” taking advantage of the confusion caused by his disruptive activities, were penetrating the Party and calling themselves “Trotskyites.” A number of important Trotskyites and other Left Oppositionists were demoted. Trotsky’s chief military aide, Nicolai Muralov, was removed as commander of the strategic Moscow Military Garrison and replaced by the old Bolshevik, Klementi Voroshilov.

The following year, in March 1922, Josef Stalin was elected General Secretary of the Party and made responsible for the carrying out of Lenin’s plans.

Following the blunt Party warning, and the demotion of his followers, Trotsky’s mass following began to melt away. His prestige was on the wane. Stalin’s election was a crushing blow to Trotsky’s faction in the Party apparatus.

Power was slipping from Trotsky’s hands.

3. The Path to Treason

From the beginning, the Left Opposition had functioned in two ways. Openly, on public platforms, in its own newspapers and lecture halls, the oppositionists brought their propaganda to the people. Behind the scenes, small clandestine factional conferences of Trotsky, Bukharin, Zinoviev, Radek, Pyatakov and others mapped out the over-all strategy and planned the tactics of the Opposition.

With this opposition movement as a base, Trotsky built a secret conspiratorial organization in Russia based on the “fives system” which Reilly had developed and which the Social Revolutionaries and other anti-Soviet conspirators had used.

By 1923, Trotsky’s underground apparatus was already a potent and far-reaching organization. Special codes, ciphers and passwords were devised by Trotsky and his adherents for purposes of illegal communication. Secret printing presses were set LIP throughout the country. Trotskyite cells were established in the army, the diplomatic corps, and in the Soviet state and party institutions.

Years later, Trotsky revealed that his own son, Leon Sedov, was involved at this time in the Trotskyite conspiracy which was already ceasing to be a mere political opposition within the Bolshevik Party and was on the point of merging with the secret war against the Soviet regime.

“In 1923,” wrote Trotsky in 1938 in the pamphlet Leon Sedov: Son-Friend-Fighter, “Leon threw himself headlong into the work of the Opposition. . . . Thus, at seventeen, he began the life of a fully conscious revolutionist. He quickly grasped the art of conspiratorial work, illegal meetings, and the secret issuing and distribution of Opposition documents. The Komsomol (Communist Youth organization) rapidly developed its own cadres of Opposition leaders.”

But Trotsky had gone further than conspiratorial work inside Soviet Russia. . . .

In the winter of 1921-1922, the swarthy, furtive-eyed former lawyer and leading Trotskyite, Nicolai Krestinsky, had become the Soviet Ambassador to Germany. In the course of his duties in Berlin, Krestinsky visited General Hans von Seeckt, commander of the Reichswehr. Seeckt knew from his Intelligence reports that Krestinsky was a Trotskyite. The German general gave Krestinsky to understand that the Reichswehr was sympathetic with the aims of the Russian Opposition led by War Commissar Trotsky.

In Moscow, a few months later, Krestinsky reported to Trotsky what General Seeckt had said. Trotsky was desperately in need of funds to finance his growing underground organization. He told Krestinsky that the Opposition in Russia needed foreign allies and must be prepared to form alliances with friendly powers. Germany, Trotsky added, was not an enemy of Russia, and there was no likelihood of an early clash between them; the Germans were looking westward and burning with a desire to revenge themselves on France and England. Opposition politicians in Soviet Russia must be prepared to capitalize on this situation. . . .

When Krestinsky returned to Berlin in 1922, he had Trotsky’s instructions to “take advantage of a meeting with Seeckt during official negotiations to propose to him, to Seeckt, that he grant Trotsky a regular subsidy for the development of illegal Trotskyite activities.”

Here, in Krestinsky’s own words, is what happened: –

I put the question before Seeckt and named the sum of 250,000 gold marks. General Seeckt, after consulting his assistant, the chief of staff (Haase) agreed in principle and put up the counter demand that certain confidential and important information of a military nature should be transmitted to him, even if not regularly, by Trotsky in Moscow or through me. In addition, he was to receive assistance in obtaining visas for some persons whom they would send to the Soviet Union as spies. This counter-demand of General Seeckt was accepted and in 1923 this agreement was put into effect.(6)

On January 21, 1924, the creator and leader of the Bolshevik Party, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, died.

Trotsky was in the Caucasus recuperating from a mild attack of influenza. He did not return to Moscow for Lenin’s funeral, but stayed on at the seaside resort of Sukhum.

“At Sukhum I spent long days lying on the balcony facing the sea,” Trotsky wrote in My Life. “Although it was January the sun was warm and bright. . . . As I breathed the sea air in, I assimilated with my whole being the assurance of my historical rightness. . . .”

4. The Struggle for Power

Immediately after Lenin’s death, Trotsky made his open bid for power. At the Party Congress in May 1924, Trotsky demanded that he, and not Stalin, be recognized as Lenin’s successor. Against the advice of his own allies, he forced the question to a vote. The 748 Bolshevik delegates at the Congress voted unanimously to maintain Stalin as General Secretary, and in condemnation of Trotsky’s struggle for personal power. So obvious was the popular repudiation of Trotsky that even Bukharin, Zinoviev and Kamenev were compelled to side publicly with the majority and vote against him. Trotsky furiously assailed them for “betraying” him. But a few months later Trotsky and Zinoviev again joined forces and formed a “New Opposition.”

The New Opposition went further than any previous faction of its kind. It openly called for “new leadership” in Soviet Russia and rallied every kind of malcontent and subversive element in a nationwide propaganda and political struggle against the Soviet Government. As Trotsky himself later wrote: “In the wake of this vanguard, there dragged the tail end of all sorts of dissatisfied, ill-equipped and chagrined careerists.” Spies, Torgprom saboteurs, White counterrevolutionaries, terrorists, flocked into the secret cells of the New Opposition. The cells began to store arms. An actual secret Trotskyite army was in process of formation on Soviet soil.

“We must aim far ahead,” Trotsky told Zinoviev and Kamenev, as he records in My Life. “We must prepare for a long and serious struggle.”

From outside Russia, Captain Sidney George Reilly of the British Intelligence Service decided it was the moment to strike. The would-be Russian dictator and British puppet, Boris Savinkov, was sent back into Russia that summer to prepare the expected counterrevolutionary uprising.(7) According to Winston Churchill, who himself played a part in this conspiracy, Savinkov was in secret communication with Trotsky. In Great Contemporaries, Churchill wrote: “In June 1924, Kamenev and Trotsky definitely invited him [Savinkov] to return.”

That same year, Trotsky’s lieutenant, Christian Rakovslcy, became Soviet Ambassador to England. Rakovsky, whom in 1937 Trotsky described as “my friend, my genuine old friend,” was visited in his London office shortly after his arrival by two British Intelligence officers, Captain Armstrong and Captain Lockhart. The British Government had at first refused to accept a Soviet representative in London. According to Rakovsky, the British officers informed him: –

Do you know why you received your agreement in Engiand? We have been making enquiries about you from Mr. Eastman and learn that you belong to Mr. Trotsky’s faction, and that you are on intimate terms with him. And only in consideration of this did the Intelligence Service consent to your being accredited Ambassador to this country.(8)

Rakovsky returned to Moscow a few months later. He told Trotsky, what had happened in London. The British Intelligence Service, like the German, wished to establish relations with the Opposition.

“This is something to think about,” said Trotsky.

A few days later, Trotsky told Rakovsky that “relations with the British Intelligence Service should be established.” °

Captain Reilly, preparing his last coup in Russia, was writing to his wife: “There is something entirely new, powerful and worth while going on in Russia.” Reilly’s agent, the British consular official Commander E., had reported to him that contacts had been made with the opposition movement in Soviet Russia. . . .

But that fall, after going into Soviet Russia to meet secretly with the opposition leaders, Reilly was shot by a Soviet border guard.

A few months after Reilly’s death, Trotsky developed what he later referred to in My Life as a “mysterious temperature” which “Moscow physicians” were “at a loss” to explain. Trotsky decided it was necessary for him to go to Germany. He records in his autobiography: –

The matter of my visit abroad was taken up at the Politbureau, which stated that it regarded my trip as extremely dangerous in view of the information it had and the general political situation, but that it left the final decision to me. The statement was accompanied by a note of reference from the G.P.U. indicating the inadmissibility of my trip. . . . It is possible that the Politbureau was also apprehensive of my taking action abroad to consolidate the foreign opposition. Nevertheless, after consulting my friends, I decided to go.

In Germay, according to his own story, Trotsky stayed at a private clinic in Berlin,” where he was visited by Nicolai Krestinsky, Trotsky’s liaison with the German Military Intelligence. While Trotsky and Krestinsky were conferring together at the clinic a German “police inspector,” according to Trotsky, suddenly appeared and announced that the German secret police were taking extraordinary measures to safeguard Trotsky’s life because they had discovered a “plot” to assassinate him.

.As a result of this time-honored Intelligence device, Trotsky and Krestinsky were closeted with the German secret police for several hours. . . .

A new agreement was reached that summer between Trotsky and the German Military Intelligence. Krestinsky later defined the terms of this agreement: –

At that time we had already become accustomed to receiving sums regularly, in sound currency. . . . This money went for the Trotskyite work which was developing abroad in various countries, for publishing literature and so forth. . . . In 1928, when the struggle of the Trotskyites abroad against the Party leadership was at its height, both in Moscow and among the fraternal groups . . . Seeckt . . . advanced the proposal that the espionage information which was being transmitted to him not regularly but from time to time should now assume a more regular character, and, in addition, that the Trotskyite organization should pledge that in case it assumed power during a possible new worid war, this Trotsky-ite government would take into consideration the just demands of the German bourgeoisie, that is to say, mainly for concessions and for the conclusion of treaties of a different kind.

After I consulted Trotsky… I answered General Seeckt in the affirmative and our information began to assume a more systematic character, no longer sporadic, as it had been before. Verbally, promises were made with regard to a future post-war agreement.

…we kept on receiving money. Beginning with 1923 until 1930 we received annually 250,000 German marks in gold… approximately 2,000,000 gold marks.

Back in Moscow after his trip to Germany, Trotsky launched an all-out campaign against the Soviet leadership. “During 1926,” writes Trotsky in My Life, “the party struggle developed with increasing intensity. In the autumn the Opposition even made an open sortie at the meetings of the party locals.” These tactics failed and aroused widespread resentment among the workers who angrily denounced the Trotskyite disruptive activities. “The Opposition,” wrote Trotsky, “was obliged to beat a retreat. . . .”

With the threat of war hanging over Russia in the summer of 1927, Trotsky renewed his attacks on the Soviet Government. In Moscow, Trotsky publicly declared: –

“We must restore the tactics of Clemenceau, who, as is well known, rose against the French Government at a time when the Germans were 80 kilometers from Paris!”

Stalin denounced Trotsky’s statement as treasonable. “Something like a united front from Chamberlain(10) to Trotsky is being formed,” said Stalin.

Once again, a vote was taken on the subject of Trotsky and his Opposition. In a general referendum of all Bolshevik Party members the overwhelming majority, by a vote of 740,000 to 4000, repudiated the Trotskyite Opposition and declared themselves in favor of Stalin’s administration.(11)

In My Life, Trotsky describes the hectic conspiratorial activity which followed his stunning defeat at the general referendum: “Secret meetings were held in various parts of Moscow and Leningrad attended by workers and students of both sexes, who gathered in groups of from twenty to one hundred and two hundred to hear some representative of the Opposition. In one day I would visit two, three and sometimes four of such meetings. . . . The Opposition cleverly prepared a huge meeting in the hall of the High Technical School, which had been occupied from within. . . . The attempts of the administration to stop the meeting proved ineffectual. Kamenev and I spoke for about two hours.”

Trotsky was feverishly preparing for the coming showdown. By the end of October, his plans were made. An uprising was to take place on November 7, 1927, the Tenth Anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. Trotsky’s most resolute followers, former members of the Red Army Guard, were to head the insurrection. Detachments were posted to take over strategic points throughout the country. The signal for the rising was to be a political demonstration against the Soviet Government during the mass workers’ parade in Moscow on the morning of November 7. In MY Life, Trotsky later stated: –

The leading group of the opposition faced this finale with its eyes wide open. We realized only too clearly that we could make our ideas the common property of the new generation not by diplomacy and evasions but only by an open struggle which shirked none of the practical consequences. We went to meet the inevitable debacle, confident, however, that we were paving the way for the triumph of our ideas in a more distant future.

Trotsky’s insurrection collapsed almost as soon as it started. On the morning of November 7, as the workers marched through the Moscow streets, Trotskyite propaganda leaflets were showered down on them from high buildings announcing the advent of the “new leadership.” Small bands of Trotskyites suddenly appeared in the streets, waving banners and placards. They were swept away by the irate workers.

The Soviet authorities acted swiftly. Muralov, Smirnov, Mrachkovsky, Dreitzer and other former members of the Trotsky military guard were promptly seized. Kamenev and Pyatakov were arrested in Moscow. Government agents raided secret Trotskyite printing presses and arms dumps. Zinoviev and Radek were arrested in Leningrad, where they had gone to organize a simultaneous Putsch. One of Trotsky’s followers, the diplomat Joffe who had been Ambassador to Japan, committed suicide. In some places, Trotskyites were arrested in the company of former White officers, Social Revolutionary terrorists, and foreign agents. . . .

Trotsky was expelled from the Bolshevik Party and sent into exile.

5. Alma Ata

Trotsky was exiled to Alma Ata, capital of the Kazakh Soviet Republic in StLeria, near the border of China. He was given a house for himself, his wife Natalie and his son, Sedov. Trotsky was treated leniently by the Soviet Government, which was as yet unaware of the real scope and significance of his conspiracy. He was permitted to retain some of his personal bodyguards, including the former Red Army officer Ephraim Dreitzer. He was allowed to receive and send personal mail, to have his own library and confidential “archives” and to be visited from time to time by friends and admirers.

But Trotsky’s exile by no means put an end to his conspiratorial activities . . .

On November 27, 1927, the subtlest of all the Trotskyite strategists, the German agent and diplomat, Nicolai Krestinsky, had written a confidential letter to Trotsky which laid down the exact strategy followed by the Trotskyite conspirators during the ensuing years. It was absurd, wrote Krestinsky, for the Trotskyite Opposition to try to continue its open agitation against the Soviet Government. Instead, the Trotskyites must try to get back into the Party, secure key positions in the Soviet Government, and continue the struggle for power from within the governmental apparatus itself. The Trotskyites, said Krestinsky, must seek “slowly, gradually, and by persistent work within the Party, and the Soviet apparatus, to restore, to again earn the confidence of the masses and influence over the masses.”

Krestinsky’s subtle strategy appealed to Trotsky. He soon issued instructions, as Krestinsky later revealed, to his followers who had been arrested and exiled to “get back into the Party by deception,” “continue our activities in secret’,’ and “occupy there more or less independent responsible posts.” Pyatakov, Radek, Zinoviev, Kamenev and other exiled oppositionists began denouncing Trotsky, proclaiming the “tragic error” of their past opposition and pleading for readmission to the Bolshevik Party.

Trotsky’s house in Alma Ata was the center of intense anti-Soviet intrigue. “The ideological life of the opposition seethed like a cauldron at the time,” Trotsky later wrote in the pamphlet Leon Sedov: Son-Friend-Fighter. From Alma Ata, Trotsky directed a clandestine nationwide propaganda and Subversive campaign against the Soviet regime.(12)

Trotsky’s son, Leon Sedov, was placed in charge of the secret communication system by which Trotsky kept in touch with his own followers and other oppositionists throughout the country. In his early twenties, with great nervous energy, and already trained as an expert conspirator, Sedov combined a fierce attachment to the aims of the Opposition with a continuous, embittered resentment against his father’s egoistic and dictatorial behavior. In Leon Sedov: Soya-Friend-Fighter, Trotsky revealed the important role which Sedov played in supervising the secret communication system from Alma Ata. Trotsky wrote: –

In the winter of 1927 . . . Leon had passed his twenty second year. . . . His work in Alma Ara, during that year, was truly peerless. We called him our Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Police and Minister of Communications. And in fulfilling all these functions he had to rely on an illegal apparatus.

Sedov served as liaison with the secret couriers who brought messages to Alma Ata and took back Trotsky’s “directives”: –

Sometimes special couriers also arrived from Moscow. To meet them was no simple matter. . . . Outside connections were handled entirely by Leon. He would leave the house on a rainy night or when the snow fell heavily, or, evading the vigilance of the spies, he would hide himself during the day in the library to meet the courier in a public bath or among the thick weeds in the outskirts of the town, or in the oriental market place where the Kirghiz crowded with their horses, donkeys and wares. Each time he returned happy, with a conquering gleam in his eyes and the precious booty under his clothing.

Almost “100 items a week” of a secret character passed through Sedov’s hands. In addition, great quantities of propaganda and personal mail were sent out by Trotsky from Alma Ata. Many of the letters contained “directives” for his followers, as well as anti-Soviet propaganda. “Between April and October (1928),” Trotsky boasted, “we received approximately 1000 political letters and documents and about 700 telegrams. In the same period, we sent out 500 telegrams and not fewer than 800 political letters. . . .”

In December 1928, a representative of the Soviet Government was sent to visit Trotsky at Alma Ara. He told Trotsky, according to My Life: “The work of your political sympathizers throughout the country has lately assumed a definitely counterrevolutionarv character; the conditions in which you are placed at Alma-Ata give you full opportunity to direct this work. . . .” The Soviet Government wanted a promise from Trotsky to discontinue his seditious activity. Failing this, the Government would be forced to take strong action against him as a traitor. Trotsky refused to heed the warning. His case was taken up in Moscow by the special collegium of the OGPU. An extract from the Minutes of the OGPU, dated January 18, 1929, reads as follows: –

Considered: the case of citizen Trotsky, Lev Davidovich, under article 5810 of the Criminal Code, on a charge of counter-revolutionary activity expressing itself in the organization of an illegal anti-Soviet party, whose activity has lately been directed towards provoking anti-Soviet actions and preparing for an armed struggle against the Soviet power. Resolved: citizen Trotsky, Lev Davidovich, to be deported from the territory of the U.S.S.R.

On the morning of January 22, 1929, Trotsky was formally deported from the Soviet Union.

It was the beginning of the most extraordinary phase of Leon Trotsky’s career.

“Exile usually means eclipse. The reverse has happened in the case of Trotsky,” Isaac F. Marcosson was later to write in Turbulent Years: “A human hornet while he was within Soviet confines, his sting is scarcely less effective thousands of miles away. Exercising remote control he had become Russia’s Public Enemy Number One. Napoleon had one St. Helena which ended his career as a European trouble-maker. Trotsky has had five St. Helenas. Each has been a nest of intrigue. Master of propaganda, he has lived in a fantastic atmosphere of national and international conspiracy like a character in a E. Phillips Oppenheim mystery story.”


(1) Here are some other comments periodically made by Lenin concerning Trotsky and his activities within the Russian revolutionary movement: –

1911. “In 1903, Trotsky was a Menshevik; he left the Mensheviks in 1904; returned to the Mensheviks in 1905, parading around with ultra-revolutionary phrases the while; and again turned his back on the Mensheviks in 1906. . . . Trotsky plagiarizes today from the ideas of one faction, tomorrow those of the other, and thus he regards himself as superior to both factions. . . . I must declare that Trotsky represents his own faction only.”

1911. “Such people as Trotsky with his puffed up phrases . . . are now the disease of the age. . . . Everyone who supports Trotsky’s group supports the policy of lies and deception of the workers . . . it is Trotsky’s special task . . . to throw sand in the eyes of the workers . . . it is not possible to discuss essentials with Trotsky, for he has no views . . . we merely expose him as a diplomatist of the meanest description.”

1912. “This bloc is composed of lack of principle, hypocrisy and empty phrases. . . . Trotsky covers them by the revolutionary phrase, which costs him nothing and binds him to nothing.”

1914. “The old participants in the Marxian movement in Russia know Trotsky’s personality very well, and it is not worth while talking to them about it. But the young generation of workers do not know him and we must speak of him. . . . Such types are characteristic as fragments of the historical formations of yesterday, when the mass Labour Movement of Russia was still dormant. . . .”

1914. “Comrade Trotsky has never yet possessed a definite opinion on any single, earnest Marxian question; he has always crept into the breach made by this or that difference, and has oscillated from one side to another.”

1915. “Trotsky . . . as always, entirely disagrees with the social-chauvinists in principle, but agrees with them to everything in practice.”

(2) Trotsky had arrived in the United States only two months before the downfall of the Czar, after being expelled from France in the late fall of 1916. Bukharin had preceded him to the United States from Austria.

(3) In his memoirs British Agent, Bruce Locknart expresses the belief that the British Government at first made a serious mistake in the way it handled Trotsky. Locknart writes: “We had not handled Trotsky wisely. At the time of the first revolution he was in exile in America. He was then neither a Menshevik nor a Bolshevik. He was what Lenin called a Trotskyist – that is to say, an individualist and an opportunist. A revolutionary with the temperament of an artist and undoubted physical courage, he had never been and never could be a good party man. His conduct prior to the first revolution had incurred the severest condemnation by Lenin. . . . In the spring of 1917 Kerensky requested the British Government to facilitate Trotsky’s return to Russia. . . . As usual in our attitude toward Russia, we adopted disastrous half-measures. Trotsky was treated as a criminal. At Halifax . . . he was interned in a prison camp. . . . Then, having roused his bitter bate, we allowed him to return to Russia.”

(4) For Trotsky’s oppositionist activities as Foreign Commissar during the Brest-Litovsk Peace crisis see page 23.

Following his removal from the post of Foreign Commissar, Trotsky publicly admitted the error of his opposition to Lenin at Brest-Litovsk, and again offered unreserved co-operation with Lenin. Trotsky was given a new post which seemed suited to his organizational and oratorical talents. He was made War Commissar. The military strategy and practical leadership of the Red Army was chiefly in the hands of men like Stalin, Frunze, Voroshilov, Kirov, Shots, and Budyenny. Relying on the advice of a number of former Czarist “specialists” who surrounded him, War Commissar Trotsky repeatedly opposed the military decisions of the Bolshevik Central Committee and flagrantly exceeded his authority. In several cases, only the direct intervention of the Central Committee prevented Trotsky from executing leading Bolshevik military representatives at the front who objected to his autocratic conduct.

In the summer of 1919 Trotsky, stating that Kolchak was no longer a menace in the east, proposed shifting the forces of the Red Army into the campaign against Denikin in the south. This, Stalin pointed out, would have given Kolchak a much-needed breathing spell and the opportunity to reorganize and re-equip his army and launch a fresh offensive. “The Urals with their works,” declared Stalin as military representative of the Central Committee, “with their network of railways, should not be left in Kolchak’s hands, because he could there easily collect the big farmers around him and advance to the Volga.” Trotsky’s plan was rejected by the Central Committee, and he took no further part in the campaign in the east, which led to the final defeat of Kolchak’s forces.

In the fall of 1919 Trotsky drew up a plan for a campaign against Denikin. His plan called for a march through the Don steppes, an almost roadless region filled with bands of counterrevolutionary Cossacks. Stalin, who had been sent to the Southern Front by the Central Committee, rejected Trotsky’s plan and proposed instead that the Red Army advance across the Donets Basin with its dense railroad network, coal supplies and sympathetic working-class population. Stalin’s plan was accepted by the Central Committee. Trotsky was removed from the Southern Front, ordered not to interfere with operations in the south, and “advised” not to cross the line of demarcation of the Southern Front. Denikin was defeated according to Stalin’s plan.

Among War Commissar Trotsky’s closest associates was the former Czarist officer, Colonel Vatzetis, who served as commander-in-chief with Trotsky on the Eastern Front against Kolchak. The Soviet authorities uncovered the fact that Vatzetis was involved in intrigues against the Red Army High Command. Vatzetis was removed from his post. In My Life, Trotsky offered this curious apology for his former associate: “. . . Vatzetis in his moments of inspiration would issue orders as if the Soviet of Commissaries and the Central Executive Committee did not exist . . . he was accused of dubious schemes and connections and had to be dismissed, but there was really nothing serious about the accusations. Perhaps before going to sleep, the chap had been reading Napoleon’s biography, and confided his ambitious dreams to two or three young officers.”

(5) In April 1937, Trotsky had this to say about his association with the assassin, Blumkin: “He was a member of my military secretariat during the War, and personally connected with me. . . . His past – he had a very extraordinary past. He was a member of the Left Social Revolutionary Opposition and had participated in the insurrection against the Bolsheviks. He was the man who killed the German Ambassador Mirbach. . . . I employed him in my military secretariat and throughout, when I needed a courageous man, Blumkin was at my disposal.”

(6) Quotations and dialogue throughout Book III, unless otherwise stated in the text, referring to the secret activities of the Trotskyites in Russia, are drawn from the testimony at the trials which took place before the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R. in Moscow in August 1936, January 1937, and March 1938. Dialogue and incidents directly involving Trotsky and his son, Sedov, unless otherwise so indicated in the text, are taken from the testimony of the defendants at these trials. See Bibliographical Notes.

(7) See page 133.

(8) This statement was made by Rakovsky during his testimony before the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R. in March 1938. At the period to which Rakovsky was referring, in the 1920’s, the American author and journalist Max Eastman was the official translator of Trotsky’s writings and a lead* disseminator of Trotskyite propaganda in the United States. It was Max Eastman who first made public the so-called “Lenin Testament” or “Lenin Will,” which purported to be an authentic document written by Lenin in 1923 and kept, according to Eastman, “locked in a safe” by Stalin. The alleged Will stated that Trotsky was more fitted to be Ceneral Secretary of the Bolshevik Party than Stalin. In 1928, Eastman translated a propaganda work by Trotsky entitled The Real Situation in Russia. In the supplement to the translated edition of this book Eastman included the text of the so-called Testament and wrote concerning his own role in aiding the Trotskyite Opposition: “. . at the height of a militant effort of the Opposition . . . I published the following translation of the full text of the Testament in the N. Y. Times, using the money received in the further propagation of Bolshevik [i.e. Trotskyite] ides. . . .”

Trotsky himself at first admitted that Lenin had left no Testament or Will. In a letter to the New York Daily Worker on August 8, 1925, Trotsky wrote: –

“As for the `will,’ Lenin never left one, and the very nature of his relations with the Party as well as the nature of the Party itself made such a `will’ absolutely impossible.

“In the guise of a `will’ the emigre and foreign bourgeois and Menshevik press have all along been quoting one of Lenin’s letters (completely mutilated) which contains a number of advises on questions of organization.

“All talk about a secreted or infringed `will’ is so much mischievous invention directed against the real will of Lenin, and of the interests of the Party created by him.”

But to this day the Trotskyite propagandists still refer to Lenin’s Will as an authentic document establishing the fact that Lenin had chosen Trotsky as his successor.

(9) In 1926 Rakovsky was transferred from his London post to Paris. He saw Trotsky in Moscow before he left for France. Trotsky told him that the situation in Russia was coming to a crisis and it was necessary to enlist every possible source of foreign aid. “I have come to the conclusion,” Trotsky told Rakovsky, “that we must give instructions to our confederates abroad, ambassadors and trade representatives, to sound out conservative circles in the capitalist countries to which they have been accredited to what extent the Trotskyites can count on their support.”

On reaching France, Rakovsky began to sound out French reactionary circles on behalf of the Trotskyite Opposition. France was then the center of the Torgprom conspiracy, and the French General Staff led by Foch and Petain was already considering plans of attack on the Soviet Union. Rakovsky subsequently stated regarding the “negotiations which Trotsky instructed me to conduct”: “I met the deputy Nicole in Roye. Nicole is a very big flax spinner in the north, a factory owner, and belongs to the Right Republican circles. I asked him then what opportunities or prospects there were for the opposition – whether support could be sought among French capitalist circles aggressively inclined toward the U.S.S.R. He replied: `Of course, and to a larger extent than you perhaps expect.’ But this, he said, would mainly depend on two circumstances. The first circmnstance was that the opposition should become indeed a real force, and the second circumstance was to what extent the opposition would agree to concessions to French capital. The second conversation I had in Paris took place in 1927, in September, and was with the deputy Louis Dreyfus, a big grain merchant. I must say that both the conversation and the conclusion were analogous to those which I had with Nicole.”

(10)Sir Austen Chamberlain, violently anti-Soviet British Foreign Secretary, then in office.

(11)Four thousand votes was the most that the Opposition forces polled at any one time in the entire course of their agitation. Despite the Party ban on ‘ factions” and the official insistence on “revolutionary unity” as the cornerstone of Soviet domestic politics, an astonishing measure of freedom of debate, criticism and assembly was granted to the Trotskyite oppositionists by the Soviet Government. Especially after Lenin’s death, when the country was going through a period of domestic and foreign crisis, Trotsky was able to take advantage of this situation to attempt to build a mass movement in Soviet Russia behind his own faction. The public propaganda of the Opposition exploited every possible kind of political argument against the Soviet regime. The social and economic policies of the Stalin administration were subjected to continuous criticism under such slogans as “incompetence in administration,” “uncontrolled bureaucracy,” “one-man, oneparty dictatorship,” “degeneration of the old leadership” and so on. No attempt was made to suppress Trotsky’s agitation until it had openly exposed itself as, in fact, anti-Soviet and connected with other anti-Soviet forces. From 1924 until 1927, in the words of Sidney and Beatrice Webb, in Soviet communism – A New Civilisation?, “There ensued what must seem surprising to those who believe that the USSR lies groaning under a peremptory dictatorship, namely, three years of incessant public controversy. This took various forms. There were repeated debates in the principal legislative organs, such as the Central Executive Committee (TSIK) of the AllUnion Congress of Soviets and the Central Committee of the Communist Party. There were hot arguments in many of the local soviets, as well as in the local Party organs. There was a vast [Oppositionist] literature of books and pamphlets, not stopped by the censorship, and published, indeed, by the state publishing houses, extending, as it stated by one who has gone through it, to literally thousands of printed pages.” The Webbs add that the issue “was finally and authoritatively settled by the Plenum of the Central Committee of the Party in April 1925; a decision ratified, after more discussion, by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Party Conference of October 1926 and December 1927” and “After these decisions, Trotsky persisted in his agitation, attempting to stir up resistance; and his conduct became plainly factious.”

(12)In Trotsky’s absence, responsibility for directing the remaining forces of the Opposition temporarily fell into the hands of Nicolai Bukharin who, disagreeing with Trotsky’s leadership, had shrewdly refrained from taking any open part in the disastrous attempted Putsch. Bukharin had come to consider himself, and not Trotsky, as the true leader and theoretician of the Opposition. At the special “Marxist school” which he headed in Moscow, Bukharin had surrounded himself with a group of “cadres,” as he called them, recruited from among young students. Bukharin trained a number of these students in the technique of the conspiracy. He was also in close touch with members of the technical intelligentsia who had joined the Industrial Party. Previously, Bukharin had called himself a “Left Communist”; now, after Trotsky’s debacle, he began to formulate the principles of what was soon to be publicly known as the Right Opposition.

Bukharin believed that Trotsky had acted hastily and that his failure was largely due to the fact that he had not acted in unison with all the other anti-Soviet forces at work within the country. Bukharin now set out to remedy this with his Right Opposition. Following the outlawing of the Trotskyites, the first Five-Year Plan was about to go into full-scale operation. The country was facing new hardships, difficulties and extreme tensions. Together with the government official, Alexei Rykov, and the tradeunion official, Al. Tomsky, Bukharin organized the Right Opposition within the Bolshevik Party in secret co-operation with the Toryprom agents and the Alensheviks. The Right Opposition was based on open opposition to the Five-Year Plan. Behind the scenes, Bukharin formulated the real program of the Right Opposition at conspiratorial meetings with Trotsky’s representatives, and with agents of the other underground organizations.

“If my program stand were to be formulated practically,” Bukharin later stated, “it would be, in the economic sphere, State capitalism, the prosperous muzhik individual, the curtailment of the collective farms, foreign concessions, surrender of the monopoly of foreign trade, and, as a result – the restoration of capitalism in the country. . . Inside the country, our actual program [was] the bloc with the Alensheviks, Social Revolutionaries and the like. . . . A lapse . . . in the political sense into ways where there are undoubtedly elements of Cacsarism . . . elements of Fascism.”

Bukharin’s new political line for the Opposition attracted a following among high-ranking careerist officials in Soviet Russia who had no faith in the success of the Five-Year Plan. The leaders of the kulak organizations which were fiercely resisting collectivization in the countryside provided Bukharin’s Right Opposition with elements of the mass base which Trotsky had previously sought in vain. Trotsky at first resented Bukharin’s assumption of leadership of the movement he had initiated; but, after a brief period of rivalry and even feuding, the differences were reconciled. The public and “legal” Phase of the Right Opposition lasted until November 1929 when a plenum of the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party declared that the propaganda of the views of the Rights was incompatible with membership in the Party. Buldiarin, Rykov and Tomsky were removed from their high official positions.

CHAPTER XVI – Genesis of a Fifth Column

1. Trotsky at Elba

ON February 13, 1929, Leon Trotsky arrived at Constantinople. He did not arrive like a discredited political exile. Trotsky came like a visiting potentate. Headlines in the world press reported his arrival. Foreign correspondents waited to greet the private motor launch which brought him to the quay. Brushing them aside, Trotsky strode to a waiting automobile chauffeured by one of his personal bodyguards, and was whisked away to personal quarters in the city which had been prepared in advance for his coming.

A political storm broke in Turkey. Pro-Soviet spokesmen demanded Trotsky’s expulsion; anti-Soviet spokesmen welcomed him as the enemy of the Soviet regime. The Turkish Government seemed undecided. There were rumors of diplomatic pressure to keep Trotsky in Turkey, near to the Soviet borders. Finally, a compromise was reached. Trotsky was to stay in Turkey and yet not in Turkey. The exiled “Red Napoleon” was to be given a haven on the Turkish island of Prinkipo. Trotsky, his wife and son, and a number of his bodyguards moved there a few weeks later. . . .

At Prinkipo, the picturesque Black Sea island where Woodrow Wilson dreamed of holding an Allied-Soviet peace conference, the exiled Trotsky established his new political headquarters with his son, Leon Sedov, as his chief aide and second-in-command. “In Prinkipo a new group of young co-workers from different countries had meanwhile been successfully formed in intimate collaboration with my son,” Trotsky later wrote. A strange, hectic atmosphere of mystery and intrigue surrounded the small house in which Trotsky lived. The house was guarded outside by police dogs and armed bodyguards. Inside, the house swarmed with radical adventurers from Russia, Germany, Spain and other countries, who had joined Trotsky at Prinkipo. He called them his “secretaries.” They formed a new Trotsky guard. There was a constant stream of visitors to the house: anti-Soviet propagandists, politicians, journalists, hero worshipers of the exile, and would-be “world revolutionists.” Bodyguards stood outside the door of Trotsky’s library while he held private conferences with renegades from the international Communist or Socialist movements. From time to time, their visits cloaked with secrecy, agents of Intelligence Services and other mysterious persons came for interviews with Trotsky.

At first, the head of Trotsky’s armed bodyguard at Prinkipo was Blumkin, the Social Revolutionary assassin who had followed Trotsky with doglike devotion since the early nineteen twenties. Late in 1930, Trotsky sent him back to Soviet Russia on a special mission. Blumkin was caught by the Soviet police, put on trial, found guilty of smuggling arms and anti-Soviet propaganda into the U.S.S.R., and shot. Later, Trotsky’s bodyguard was headed by a Frenchman, Raymond Molinier, and by an American, Sheldon Harte.

With elaborate care, Trotsky sought to maintain his reputation as a “great revolutionary” in temporary exile. He was in his fiftieth year. His stocky, slightly humped figure was growing plump and flabby. His famous shock of black hair and little, pointed beard were gray. But his movements were still rapid and impatient. His dark eyes behind the inveterate pince-nez which glittered on his sharp nose gave his somber, mobile features an expression of peculiar malevolence. Many observers were repelled by his “Mephistophelian” physiognomy. Others found in Trotsky’s voice and eyes an almost hypnotic fascination.

In maintaining his reputation outside of Soviet Russia, Trotsky left nothing to chance. He was fond of quoting the words of the French Anarchist, Proudhon: “Destiny – I laugh at it; and as for men, they are too ignorant, too enslaved for me to feel annoyed at them.” But before he granted interviews to important visitors, Trotsky carefully rehearsed his role, and even studied appropriate gestures before a mirror in his bedroom. Journalists who visited Prinkipo had to submit their articles to be edited by Trotsky before publication. In conversation, Trotsky poured out an unending flow of dogmatic assertion and anti-Soviet invective, emphasizing every sentence and gesture with the theatrical intensity of a mass orator.

The liberal German writer, Emil Ludwig, interviewed Trotsky soon after he settled at Prinkipo. Trotsky was in an optimistic mood. Crisis was facing Russia, he told Ludwig; the Five-Year Plan was a failure; there would be unemployment, economic and industrial disaster; the collectivization program in agriculture was doomed; Stalin was leading the country to a catastrophe; the Opposition was growing. . . .

“How large is your following inside Russia?” asked Ludwig. Trotsky was suddenly cautious. He waved a plump, white, manicured hand. “It is difficult to estimate.” His following was “scattered,” he told Ludwig, working illegally, “underground.” “When do you expect to come out into the open again?”

To this, after some consideration, Trotsky replied: “When an opportunity is presented from the outside. Perhaps a war or a new European intervention – when the weakness of the government would act as a stimulus!”

Winston Churchill, still passionately interested in every phase of the world anti-Soviet campaign, made a special study of the exile on Prinkipo. “I never liked Trotsky,” Churchill declared in 1944. But Trotsky’s conspiratorial audacity, his oratorical talents and demonic energy appealed to Churchill’s adventurous temperament. Summing up the whole purpose of Trotsky’s international conspiracy from the moment he left Soviet soil, Churchill wrote in Great Contemporaries:-

Trotsky . . . strives to rally the underworld of Europe to the overthrow of the Russian Army.

Also, about this time, the American foreign correspondent John Gunther visited Trotsky’s Prinkipo headquarters. He spoke with Trotsky and a number of Trotsky’s Russian and European associates. To Gunther’s surprise, Trotsky did not behave like a defeated exile. He behaved more like a ruling monarch or dictator. Gunther thought of Napoleon at Elba – just before the dramatic return and the Hundred Days. Gunther reported: –

A Trotsky movement has grown up throughout most of Europe. In each country there is a nucleus of Trotskyite agitators. They take orders from Prinkipo direct. There is a sort of communication between the various groups, through their publications and manifestos but mostly through private letters. The various central committees are linked to an international headquarters in Berlin.

Gunther tried to get Trotsky to talk about his Fourth International, just what it stood for and what it did. Trotsky was reserved on the subject. In one expansive moment, he showed Gunther a number of “hollow books” in which secret documents were concealed and transported. He praised the activities of Andreas Nin in Spain. (1) He also had followers and influential sympathizers in the United States. He spoke of Trotskyite cells being formed in France, Norway and Czechoslovakia. Their activities, he told Gunther, were “semi-secret.”. . .

Gunther wrote that Trotsky had “lost Russia, or at least for a while. No man knows whether he may not regain it in ten or twenty years.” Trotsky’s chief aim was “to hold out, hope for Stalin’s downfall in Russia, and meantime bend every bit of energy to unceasing perfection of his counter-Communist organization abroad.”

Only “one tiling,” Gunther concluded, could put Trotsky “back at once in Russia.”

That one thing was “Stalin’s death.”

From Prinkipo during 1930-1931, Trotsky launched an extraordinary anti-Soviet propaganda campaign which soon penetrated every country. It was an entirely new kind of anti-Soviet propaganda, infinitely more subtle and confusing than anything that had been devised by the anti-Bolshevik crusaders in the past.

Times had changed. Following the great Crisis, the whole world was revolutionary-minded in that it did not want a return to the ways of the past which had brought so much misery and suffering. The early counterrevolution of Fascism in Italy had been effectively promoted by its ex-Socialist founder, Benito Mussolini, as the “Italian Revolution.” In Germany, the Nazis were gaining mass backing, not only by enlisting anti-Bolshevik reaction, but also by posing among the German workers and peasants as “National Socialists.” As far back as 1903, Trotsky had mastered the propaganda device of what Lenin called “ultra-revolutionary slogans which cost him nothing.”

Now, on a world-wide scale, Trotsky proceeded to develop the propaganda technique he had originally employed against Lenin and the Bolshevik Party. In innumerable ultra-leftist and violently radical-sounding articles, books, pamphlets and speeches, Trotsky began to attack the Soviet regime and call for its violent overthrow – not because it was revolutionary; but because it was, as he phrased it, “counterrevolutionary” and “reactionary.”

Overnight, many of the older anti-Bolshevik crusaders abandoned their former pro-Czarist and openly counterrevolutionary propaganda line, and adopted the new, streamlined Trotskyite device of attacking the Russian Revolution “from the Left.” In the following years, it became an accepted thing for a Lord Rothermere or a William Randolph Hearst to accuse Josef Stalin of “betraying the Revolution.”. . .

Trotsky’s first major propaganda work to introduce this new anti-Soviet line to the international counterrevolution was his melodramatic, semi-fictitious autobiography, My Life. First published as a series of anti-Soviet articles by Trotsky in European and American newspapers, its aim as a book was to vilify Stalin and the Soviet Union, increase the prestige of the Trotskyite movement and bolster the myth of Trotsky as the “world revolutionary.” Trotsky depicted himself in My Life as the real inspirer and organizer of the Russian Revolution, who had been somehow tricked out of his rightful place as Russian leader by “crafty,” “mediocre” and “Asiatic” opponents.

Anti-Soviet agents and publicists immediately ballyhooed Trotsky’s book into a sensational world-wide best seller which was said to tell the “inside story” of the Russian Revolution. 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 praises of Trotsky’s book. “Brilliant!” cried Hitler, waving Trotsky’s My Life at his followers. “I have learnt a great deal from it, and so can you!”

Trotsky’s book rapidly became a textbook for the anti-Soviet Intelligence Services. It was accepted as a basic guide for propaganda against the Soviet regime. The Japanese secret police made it compulsory reading for imprisoned Japanese and Chinese Communists, in an effort to break down their morale and to convince them that Soviet Russia had betrayed the Chinese Revolution and the cause for which they were fighting. The Gestapo made similar use of the book . . .

My Life was only the opening gun of Trotsky’s prodigious anti-Soviet propaganda campaign. It was followed by The Revolution Betrayed, Soviet Economy in Danger, The Failure of the Five-Year Plan, Stalin and the Chinese Revolution, The Stalin School of Falsification, and countless other anti-Soviet books, pamphlets and articles, many of which first appeared under flaring headlines in reactionary newspapers in Europe and America. Trotsky’s “Bureau” supplied a continual stream of “revelations,” “exposures” and “inside stories” about Russia for the anti-Soviet world press.

For consumption inside the Soviet Union, Trotsky published his official Bulletin o f the Opposition. Printed abroad, first in Turkey, then in Germany, France, Norway and other countries, and smuggled into Russia by secret Trotskyite couriers, the Bulletin was not intended to reach the Soviet masses. It was aimed at the diplomats, state officials, military men, and intellectuals who had once followed Trotsky or who seemed likely to be influenced by him. The Bulletin also contained directives for the propaganda work of the Trotskyites both within Russia and abroad. Ceaselessly, the Bulletin drew. lurid pictures of coming disaster for the Soviet regime, predicting industrial crises, renewed civil war, and the collapse of the Red Army at the first foreign attack. The Bulletin skillfully played on all the doubts and anxieties which the extreme tensions and hardships of the construction period aroused in the minds of unstable, confused and dissatisfied elements. The Bulletin openly called upon these elements to undermine and carry out acts of violence against the Soviet Government.

Here are some typical examples of the anti-Soviet propaganda and calls for the violent overthrow of the Soviet regime which Trotsky spread throughout the world in the years following his expulsion from the U.S.S.R.: –

The policy of the present-day leadership, the tiny group of Stalin, is leading the country at full speed to dangerous crises and collapses. – Letter to Members o f Communist Party of the Soviet Union, March 1930

The impending crisis of Soviet economy will inevitably, and within the very near future, crumble the sugary legend [that socialism can be built in one country] and, we have no reason to doubt, will scatter many dead. . . . The (Soviet) economy functions without material reserves and without calculation . . . the uncontrolled bureaucracy has tied up its prestige with the subsequent accumulation of errors . . . a crisis is impending [in the Soviet Union] with a retinue of consequences such as the enforced shutting down of enterprises and unemployment. – Soviet Economy in Danger, 1932

The hungry workers [in the Soviet Union] are dissatisfied with the policies of the party. The party is dissatisfied with the leadership. The peasantry is dissatisfied with industrialization, with collectivization, with the city. – Article in the Militant (U.S.A.), February 4, 1933

The first social shock, external or internal, may throw the atomized Soviet Society into civil war. – The Soviet Union and the Fourth International, 1933

It would be childish to think that the Stalin bureaucracy can be removed by means of a Party or Soviet Congress. Normal, constitutional means are no longer available for the removal of the ruling clique. . . . They can be compelled to hand over power to the Proletarian vanguard only by FORCE. -Bulletin o f the Opposition, October 193 3

The political crises converge toward the general crisis which is creeping onward. – The Kirov Assassination, 1935

Inside the Party Stalin has put himself above all criticism and the State. It is impossible to displace him except by assassination. Every oppositionist becomes, ipso facto, a terrorist. – Statement from interview with William Randolph Heart’s New York Evening Journal, January 26, 1937.

Can we expect that the Soviet Union will come out of the coming great war without defeat? To this frankly posed question, we will answer as frankly: If the war should remain only a war, the defeat of the Soviet Union would be inevitable. In a technical, economic and military sense, imperialism is incomparably more strong. If it is not paralyzed by revolution in the West, imperialism will sweep away the present regime. -Article in American Mercury, March 1937

The defeat of the Soviet Union is inevitable in case the new war shall not provoke a new revolution. . . . If we theoretically admit war without revolution, then the defeat of the Soviet Union is inevitable. – Testimony at Hearings in Mexico, April 1937

2. Rendezvous in Berlin

From the moment Trotsky left Soviet soil, agents of foreign Intelligence Services had been eager to contact him and to make use of his international anti-Soviet organization. The Polish Defensiva, the Italian Fascist Ovra; the Finnish Military Intelligence, the White Russian émigrés who directed anti-Soviet secret services in Rumania, Yugoslavia and Hungary, and reactionary elements with the British Intelligence Service and the French Deuxiéme Bureau were all prepared to deal with “Russia’s Public Enemy Number One” for their own purposes. Funds, assistants, a network of espionage and courier services were at Trotsky’s disposal for the maintenance and extension of his international anti-Soviet propaganda activities and for the support and reorganization of his conspiratorial apparatus inside Soviet Russia.

Most important of all was Trotsky’s growing intimacy with the German Military Intelligence (Section 111B) which, under the command of Colonel Walther Nicolai, was already collaborating with Heinrich Himmler’s growing Gestapo. . . .

Up to 1930, Trotsky’s agent, Krestinsky, had received approximately 2,000,000 gold marks from the German Reichswehr for financing Trotskyite activities in Soviet Russia, in exchange for espionage data turned over to the German Military Intelligence by the Trotskyites. Krestinsky later revealed: –

Beginning with 1923 until 1930 we received annually 250,000 German marks in gold, approximately 2,000,000 gold marks. Up to the end of 1927 the stipulations of this agreement were carried out mainly in Moscow. After that, from the end of 1927 almost to the end of 1928, in the course of about 10 months there was an interruption in the money because after Trotskyism had been smashed I was isolated, I did not know of Trotsky’s plans, I received no information or instructions from him. . . . This went on until October 1928 when I received a letter from Trotsky, who at that time was in exile in Alma Ata. . . . This letter contained Trotsky’s instructions that I was to receive from the Germans the money, which he proposed to hand over to Maslow or to Trotsky’s French friends, that is Roemer, Madeline Paz and others. I got in touch with General Seeckt. At that time he had resigned and occupied no post whatever. He volunteered to talk it over with Hammerstein and to obtain the money. He obtained the money. Hammerstein was at that time the Chief of Staff of the Reichswehr, and in 1930 he became Commander in Chief of the Reichswehr.

In 1930 Krestinsky was appointed Assistant Commissar of Foreign Affairs and transferred from Berlin to Moscow. His removal from Germany, together with the inner crisis which was then going on within the Reichswehr as a result of the rising power of Nazism, again temporarily halted the flow of German money to Trotsky. But already Trotsky was about to enter into a new, extended agreement with the German Military Intelligence.

In February 1931, Trotsky’s son, Leon Sedov, rented an apartment in Berlin. According to his passport, Sedov was in Germany as a “student”; ostensibly, he had come to Berlin to attend a “German scientific institute.” But there were more urgent reasons for Sedov’s Presence in the German capital that year. . . .

A few months before, Trotsky had written a pamphlet entitled Germany: The Key to the International Situation. One hundred and seven Nazi deputies had been elected to the Reichstag. The Nazi Party had received 6,400,000 votes. As Sedov arrived in Berlin, a mood of feverish expectancy and tension hung over the German capital. Brown-shirted storm troopers, singing the “Horst Wessel,” were parading on the Berlin streets, smashing Jewish stores and raiding the homes and clubs of liberals and workers. The Nazis were confident. “Never in My Life have I been so well disposed and inwardly content as in these days,” wrote Adolf Hitler in the pages of the Volkischer Beobachter.

Officially, Germany was still a democracy. Trade between Germany and Soviet Russia was at its peak. The Soviet Government was buying machinery from German firms. German technicians were getting big jobs in Soviet mining and electrification projects. Soviet engineers were visiting Germany. Soviet trade representatives, buyers and commercial agents were continually traveling back and forth between Moscow and Berlin on assignments connected with the Five-Year Plan. Some of these Soviet citizens were followers or former adherents of Trotsky.

Sedov was in Berlin, as his father’s representative, on conspiratorial assignments.

“Leon was always on the lookout,” Trotsky later wrote in his pamphlet Leon Sedov: Son-Friend-Fighter, “avidly searching for connecting threads with Russia, hunting up returning tourists, Soviet students assigned abroad, or sympathetic functionaries in the foreign representations.” Sedov’s chief assignment in Berlin was to contact old members of the Opposition, communicate Trotsky’s instructions to them, or collect important messages from them for his father. “To avoid compromising his informant” and to “evade the GPU spies,” wrote Trotsky, Sedov “chased for hours through the streets of Berlin.”

A number of important Trotskyites had managed to secure posts on the Soviet Foreign Trade Commission. Among them was Ivan N. Smirnov, the one-time Red Army officer and former leading member of Trotsky’s Guard. After a short period in exile, Smirnov had followed the strategy of other Trotskyites, denounced Trotsky, and pleaded for readmission to the Bolshevik Party. An engineer by profession, Smirnov soon obtained a minor post in the transportation industry. Early in 1931 Smirnov was appointed as a consultant engineer to a trade mission that was going to Berlin.

Soon after his arrival in Berlin, Ivan Smirnov was contacted by Leon Sedov. At clandestine get-togethers in Sedov’s apartment and in out-of-the-way suburban beer halls and cafes, Smirnov learned of Trotsky’s plans for the reorganization of the secret Opposition in collaboration with agents of the German Military Intelligence.

From now on, Sedov told Smirnov, the struggle against the Soviet regime was to assume the character of an all-out offensive. The old rivalries and political differences between the Trotskyites, the Bukharinites, the Zinovievites, the Mensheviks, the Social Revolutionaries and all other anti-Soviet groups and factions must be forgotten. A united Opposition must be formed. Secondly, the struggle from now on must assume a militant character. A nation-wide campaign of terrorism and sabotage was to be initiated against the Soviet regime. It would have to be worked out in every detail. By widespread and carefully synchronized blows the Opposition would be able to throw the Soviet Government into hopeless confusion and demoralization. The Opposition would then seize power.

Smirnov’s immediate task was to convey Trotsky’s instructions for the reorganization of the underground work, and the preparations for terrorism and sabotage, to the most trusted members of the Opposition in Moscow. He was also to make arrangements for the sending of regular “informational data” to Berlin to be delivered by Trotskyite couriers to Sedov, who would then relay the data to his father. The password by which the couriers were to identify themselves was: “I have brought greetings from Galya.”

Sedov asked Smirnov to do one more thing while he was still in Berlin. He was to get in touch with the head of a Soviet Trade Mission which had recently arrived in Berlin and to inform this personage that Sedov was in the city and wished to see him on a matter of the utmost importance.

The head of this Soviet Trade Mission which had just arrived in Berlin was Trotsky’s old follower and most devoted admirer, Yuri Leonodovich Pyatakov.

Lean and tall, well-dressed, with a high sloping forehead, pale complexion and a neat, reddish goatee, Pyatakov looked more like a scholarly professor than the veteran conspirator he was. In 1927, following the attempted Putsch, Pyatakov had been the first leading Trotskyite to break with Trotsky and seek readmission to the Bolshevik Party. A man of outstanding ability in business management and organization, Pyatakov secured several good jobs in the rapidly expanding Soviet industries even while still in exile in Siberia. At the end of 1929, he was readmitted to the Bolshevik Party on probation. He held a succession of board chairmanships on transport and chemical industrial planning projects. In 1931, he got a seat on the Supreme Economic Council, the chief Soviet planning institution; and that same year he was sent to Berlin as head of a special trade mission to purchase German industrial equipment for the Soviet Government.

Following Sedov’s instructions, Ivan Smirnov sought out Pyatakov in his Berlin office. Smirnov told Pyatakov that Leon Sedov was in Berlin and had a special message for him from Trotsky. A few days later, Pyatakov met Sedov. Here is Pyatakov’s own account of the meeting: –

There is a cafe known as the “Am Zoo” not far from the Zoological Gardens on the square. I went there and saw Lev Sedov sitting at a small table. We had known each other very well in the past. He told me that he was not speaking to me in his own name, but in the name of his father – Trotsky, and that Trotsky, learning that I was in Berlin, gave him categorical orders to look me up, to meet me personally and have a talk with me. Sedov said that Trotsky had not for a moment abandoned the idea of resuming the fight against Stalin’s leadership, that there had been a temporary lull owing partly to Trotsky’s repeated movements from one country to another, but that this struggle was now being resumed, of which he, Trotsky, was hereby informing me. . . . After this, Sedov asked me pointblank: “Trotsky asks, do you, Pyatakov, intend to take a hand in this fight?” I gave my consent.

Sedov then proceeded to inform Pyatakov of the lines along which Trotsky was proposing to reorganize the Opposition: –

. . . Sedov went on to outline the nature of the new methods of struggle: there could be no question of developing a mass struggle of any form, of organizing a mass movement; if we adopted any kind of mass work we would come to grief immediately; Trotsky was firmly in favor of the forcible overthrow of the Stalin leadership by methods of terrorism and wrecking. Sedov further said that Trotsky drew attention to the fact that a struggle confined to one country would be absurd and the international question could not possibly be evaded. In this struggle we must also have the necessary solution for the international problem, or rather, inter-state problems.

Whoever tries to brush these questions aside, said Sedov, relating what Trotsky said, signs his own testimonium pauperatis.

A second meeting between Sedov and Pyatakov soon followed. This time Sedov said to him: “You realize, Yuri Leonodovich, that inasmuch as the fight has been resumed, money is needed. You can provide the necessary funds for the fight.” Sedov informed Pyatakov how this could be done. In his official capacity as trade representative of the Soviet Government in Germany, Pyatakov was to place as many orders as possible with the two German firms, Borsig and Demag. Pyatakov was not to be “particularly exacting as to prices” in dealing with these concerns. Trotsky had an arrangement with Borsig and Demag. “You will have to pay higher prices,” said Sedov, “but this money will go for our work.”(2)

There were two other secret oppositionists in Berlin in 1931 whom Sedov put to work in the new Trotskyite apparatus. They were Alexei Shestov, an engineer on Pyatakov’s trade mission, and Sergei Bessonov, a member of the Berlin Trade Representation of the U.S.S.R.

Bessonov, a former Social Revolutionary, was a tubby, mild-appearing, dark-complexioned man in his middle forties. The Berlin Trade Representation of which Bessonov was a member was the most central Soviet trade agency in Europe and conducted trade negotiations with ten different countries; Bessonov himself was permanently stationed in Berlin. He was therefore ideally equipped to serve as a “liaison point” between the Russian Trotskyites and their exiled leader. It was arranged that secret Trotskyite communications from Russia would be sent to Bessonov in Berlin who would then relay them to Sedov or Trotsky.

Alexei Shestov was a different personality, and his job was to be suited to his temperament. He was to become one of the chief organizers of the German-Trotskyite espionage and sabotage cells in Siberia where he was a member of the Board of the Eastern and Siberian Coal Trust. Shestov was in his early thirties. In 1923, while still a student in the Moscow Mining Institute, Shestov had joined the Trotskyite Opposition, and in 1927 he headed one of the secret printing presses in Moscow. A slim, pale-eyed young man with an intense, violent disposition, Shestov followed Trotsky with fanatical devotion. “I met Trotsky several times personally,” he liked to boast. To Shestov, Trotsky was “the leader,” and that was how he almost invariably referred to him.

“It’s no use sitting around and whistling for fair weather,” Sedov told Shestov when they met in Berlin. “We must proceed with all forces and means at our disposal to an active policy of discrediting Stalin’s leadership and Stalin’s policy.” Trotsky held that “the only correct way, a difficult way but a sure one, was forcibly to remove Stalin and the leaders of the Government by means of terrorism.”

“We have really gotten into a blind alley,” Shestov readily agreed. “It is necessary to disarm or to map out a new path of struggle!”

Sedov asked Shestov if he knew a German industrialist by the name of “Herr Dehlmann.” Shestov said he knew him by reputation. Dehlmann was a director of the firm Frölich-Klüpfel-Dehlmann. Many of the firm’s engineers were employed in the west Siberian mines where Shestov himself worked.

Sedov then told Shestov that he was to “get in touch with Dehlmann” before he returned to Soviet Russia. The Dehlmann firm, explained Sedov, could be very helpful to the Trotskyite organization in “undermining Soviet economy” in Siberia. Herr Dehlmann was already helping to smuggle Trotskyite propaganda and agents into the Soviet Union. In return, Shestov could supply Herr Dehlmann with certain information about the new Siberian mines and industries, in which the German director was particularly interested. . . .

“Are you advising me to make a deal with the firm?” asked Shestov.

“What’s so terrible about that?” replied Trotsky’s son. “If they are doing us a favor, why shouldn’t we do them a favor and furnish them with certain information?”

“You’re simply proposing that I become a spy!” exclaimed Shestov.

Sedov shrugged his shoulders. “It’s absurd to use words like that,” he said. “In a fight it is unreasonable to be as squeamish as that. If you accept terrorism, if you accept destructive undermining in industry, I absolutely fail to understand why you cannot agree with this.”

A few days later, Shestov saw Smirnov and told him what Trotsky’s son had said to him.

“Sedov ordered me to establish connections with the firm of Frölich-Klüpfel-Dehlmann,” said Shestov. “He bluntly told me to establish connections with a firm engaged in espionage and sabotage in the Kuzbas. In that case I’ll be a spy and a saboteur.”

“Stop slinging about big words like ‘spy’ and ‘saboteur’!” cried Smirnov. “Time is passing and it is necessary to act. . . . What is there that surprises you in that we consider it possible to overthrow the Stalin leadership by mobilizing all the counter-revolutionary forces in the Kuzbas? What do you find so terrible in enlisting German agents for this work? . . . There is no other way. We have to agree to it.”

Shestov was silent. Smirnov said to him, “Well, how is your mood?”

“I have no personal mood,” said Shestov. “I do as our leader Trotsky taught us – stand at attention and wait for orders!” Before he left Berlin, Shestov met Herr Dehlmann, the director of the German firm which was financing Trotsky. Shestov was recruited, under the code name of “Alyosha,” into the German Military Intelligence Service. Shestov subsequently stated: –

I met the director of this firm, Dehlmann, and his assistant Koch. The essence of the conversation with the heads of the firm Frölich-Klüpfel-Dehmann was as follows: first, on supplying secret information through the representatives of this firm working in the Kuznetsk Basin and on the organization of wrecking and diversive work together with the Trotskyites. It was also said that the firm in its turn would help us and that they could send more people upon the demand of our organization. . . . They would in every way help the Trotskyites to come to power. (3)

On his return to Soviet Russia, Shestov brought back a letter which Sedov had given to him for Pyatakov, who had returned to Moscow. Shestov hid the letter in the sole of one of his shoes. He delivered it to Pyatakov at the Commissariat of Heavy Industry. The letter was from Trotsky himself, written from Prinkipo. It outlined the “immediate tasks” confronting the Opposition in Soviet Russia.

The first task was “to use every possible means to overthrow Stalin and his associates.” This meant terrorism.

The second task was “to unite all anti-Stalin forces.” This meant collaboration with the German Military Intelligence and any other anti-Soviet force that would work with the Opposition.

The third task was “to counteract all measures of the Soviet Government and the Party, particularly in the economic field.” This meant sabotage.

Pyatakov was to be Trotsky’s chief lieutenant in charge of the conspiratorial apparatus inside Soviet Russia.

3. The Three Layers

Throughout 1932, Russia’s future Fifth Column began to take concrete shape in the underworld of the Opposition. At small secret meetings and furtive conferences, the members of the conspiracy were made aware of the new line and instructed in their new tasks. A network of terrorist cells, sabotage cells and courier systems was developed in Soviet Russia. In Moscow and Leningrad, in the Caucasus and in Siberia, in the Donbas and in the Urals, Trotskyite organizers addressed motley secret gatherings of die-hard enemies of the Soviet regime – Social Revolutionaries, Mensheviks, leftists, rightists, nationalists, anarchists and White Russian fascists and monarchists. The message of Trotsky was spread through the seething underworld of oppositionists, spies and secret agents; a new offensive against the Soviet regime was under way.

Trotsky’s emphatic demand for the preparation of acts of terror at first alarmed some of the older Trotskyite intellectuals. The journalist Karl Radek showed signs of panic when Pyatakov acquainted him with the new line. In February 1932, Radek received a personal letter from Trotsky conveyed, as were all Trotskyite communications of a confidential character, by secret courier.

“You must bear in mind,” Trotsky wrote his wavering follower, Radek, “the experience of the preceding period and realize that for you there can be no returning to the past, that the struggle has entered a new phase and that the new feature in this phase is that either we shall be destroyed together with the Soviet Union, or we must raise the question of removing the leadership.”

Trotsky’s letter, together with Pyatakov’s insistence, finally convinced Radek. He agreed to accept the new line – terrorism, sabotage and collaboration with “foreign powers.”

Among the most active organizers of the terrorist cells which were now built throughout the Soviet Union were Ivan Smirnov and his old comrades in the Trotsky Guard: Serge Mrachkovsky and Ephraim Dreitzer.

Under Smirnov’s direction, Mrachkovsky and Dreitzer began forming small groups of professional gunmen and former Trotskyite associates from civil-war days who were ready for violent methods.

“The hopes we’ve placed on the collapse of the Party’s policy,” Mrachkovsky told one of these terrorist groups in Moscow in 1932, “must be considered doomed. The methods of struggle used until now haven’t produced any positive results. There remains only one path of struggle, and that is the removal of the leadership of the Party by violence. Stalin and the other leaders must be removed. That is the principal task!”

Meanwhile, Pyatakov was engaged in seeking out conspirators in key industrial jobs, especially in the war industries and transport, and recruiting them for the all-out sabotage campaign that Trotsky wanted to launch against the Soviet economy.

By the summer of 1932, an agreement to suspend past rivalries and differences, and to work together under Trotsky’s supreme command, was under discussion between Pyatakov, as Trotsky’s lieutenant in Russia, and Bukharin, the leader of the Right Opposition. The smaller group headed by the veteran oppositionists, Zinoviev and Kamenev, agreed to subordinate its activities to Trotsky’s authority. Describing the hectic negotiations which were going on between the conspirators at this time, Bukharin later said: –

I had talks with Pyatakov, Tomsky and Rykov. Rykov had talks with Kamenev, and Zinoviev with Pyatakov. In the summer of 1932 I had a second conversation with Pyatakov in the People’s Commissariat of Heavy Industry. At that time this was a very simple matter for me, since I was working under Pyatakov. At that time he was my boss. I had to go into his private office on business, and I could do so without arousing suspicion. . . .

In this talk, which took place in the summer of 1932, Pyatakov told me of his meeting with Sedov concerning Trotsky’s policy of terrorism . . . we decided that we would find a common language very soon and that our differences in the struggle against Soviet power would be overcome.

The final negotiations were concluded that fall at a secret meeting which was held in a deserted dacha, summer house, on the outskirts of Moscow. Sentries were posted by the conspirators around the house and along all roads leading to it to guard against surprise and to ensure absolute secrecy. At this meeting something like a High Command of the combined Opposition forces was formed to direct the coming campaigns of terror and sabotage throughout the Soviet Union. This High Command of the Opposition was named the “Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites.” It was constructed on three different levels or layers. If one of the layers was exposed, the others would carry on.

The first layer, the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center, headed by Zinoviev, was responsible for the organization and direction of terrorism.

The second layer, the Trotskyite Parallel Center, headed by Pyatakov, was responsible for the organization and direction of sabotage.

The third and most important layer, the actual Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites, headed by Bukharin and Krestinsky, comprised most of the leaders and highest-ranking members of the combined Opposition forces.

The entire apparatus consisted of not more than a few thousand members and some twenty or thirty leaders who held positions of authority in the army, Foreign Office, secret service, industry, trade-unions, Party and Government offices.

From the start, the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites was penetrated and led by paid agents of foreign Intelligence Services, especially of the German Military Intelligence. These are some of the foreign agents who were leading members of the new conspiratorial bloc: –

Nicolai Krestinsky, Trotskyite and Assistant Commissar of Foreign Affairs, was an agent of the German Military Intelligence since 1923, when he first undertook espionage assignments from General Hans von Seeckt.

Arkady Rosengoltz, Trotskyite and People’s Commissar of Foreign Trade, had been carrying out espionage assignments for the German High Command since 1923. “My espionage activities began as far back as 1923,” Rosengoltz himself later related, “when, on Trotsky’s instructions, I handed various secret information to the Commander-in-Chief of the Reichswehr, Seeckt, and to the Chief of the German General Staff, Hasse.” In 1926 Rosengoltz began working for the British Intelligence Service, while maintaining his connections with Germany.

Christian Rakovsky, Trotskyite and former Ambassador to Great Britain and France, agent of the British Intelligence Service since 1924. In Rakovskv’s own words: “I established criminal connections with the British Intelligence Service in 1924.” In 1934, Rakovsky also became an agent of the Japanese Intelligence Service.

Stanislav Rataichak, Trotskyite and Chief of the Central Administration of the Chemical Industry; agent of the German Military Intelligence. He had been sent into Soviet Russia by the Germans immediately after the Revolution. He carried on espionage and sabotage activities in the industries being built by the Soviet Government in the Urals.

Ivan Hrasche, Trotskyite, executive in the Soviet chemical industry, came into Soviet Russia as a spy for the Czechoslovakian Intelligence Service in 1919, disguised as a returning Russian prisoner of war. Hrasche became an agent of the German Intelligence Service.

Alexei Shestov , Trotskyite, and member of the Board of Eastern and Siberian Coal Trust, became an agent of the German Intelligence Service in 1931, working for it through the German firm of Frölich-Klüpfel-Dehlmann and carrying out espionage and sabotage assignments in Siberia.

Gavrill Pushin, Trotskyite, and executive at the Gorlovka Chemical Works, became an agent of the German Military Intelligence in 1935. According to his own subsequent admission to the Soviet authorities, he provided the Germans with: “(1) figures of the output of all Soviet chemical enterprises during 1934; (2) the program of work of all Soviet chemical enterprises for 1935; (3) the plan of construction of nitrogen works which comprised construction work up to 1938.”

Yakov Livshitz, Trotskyite and official on the Soviet Far Eastern Railroad Commission, was an agent of the Japanese Military intelligence and regularly transmitted to Japan secret information concerning the Soviet railroads.

Ivan Knyazev, Trotskyite, and executive on the Urals railroad system; agent of the Japanese Intelligence Service. Under its supervision, he carried on sabotage activities in the Urals, and kept the Japanese High Command supplied with information about the Soviet transport system.

Yosif Turok, Trotskyite, and Assistant Manager of the Traffic Department on the Perm and Urals Railway; agent of the Japanese Intelligence Service. In 1935 Turok received 35.000 rubles from the Japanese in payment for the espionage and sabotage assignments he was carrying out in the Urals.

Mikhail Chernov, a member of the Rights, and People’s Commissar of Agriculture of the U.S.S.R.; agent of the German Military Intelligence since 1928. Under the supervision of the Cermans, Chernov carried out extensive sabotage, as well as espionage assignments, in the Ukraine.

Vasily Sharangovich, a member of the Rights, and Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Byelorussia, had been sent into Soviet Russia as a Polish spy in 1921. During the following years he continued to work under the supervision of the Polish Intelligence Service, supplying it with espionage data as well as carrying on sabotage activities in Byelorussia.

Grigori Grinko, a member of the Rights and an official of the People’s Commissariat of Finance; agent of the German and Polish Intelligence Services since 1932. He was a leader of the fascist Ukrainian nationalist movement, helped smuggle arms and ammunition into the Soviet Union and carried on espionage and sabotage work for the Germans and the Poles.

The conspiratorial apparatus of the Trotskyites, Rights and Zinovievites was, in fact, the Axis Fifth Column in Soviet Russia.


(1) For Nin’s later connections with the Fascist Fifth Column in Spain, see footnote on page 283.

(1)(2) (2) The firms Borsig and Demag were “fronts” for the German Military Intelligence. By dealing with these firms, Pyatakov was able to place considerable sums at the disposal of Trotsky. An independent witness, the American engineer, John D. Littlepage personally observed Pyatakov’s dealings with these German firms. Littlepage was employed by the Soviet Government in the capacity of an expert in the gold and copper mining industries In a series of articles concerning his experiences in Soviet Russia, published in the Saturday Evening Post in January 1938, Littlepage wrote:-

“I went to Berlin in the spring of 1931 with a large purchasing commission headed by Pyatakov; my job was to offer technical advice on purchases of mining machinery. . . .

“Among other things, the commission in Berlin was buying several dozen mine hoists, ranging from 100 to 1,000 horse-power. . . . The commission asked for quotations on the basis of pfennigs per kilogram. After some discussion, the German concerns [Borsig and Demag] . . . reduced their prices between 5 and 6 pfennigs per kilogram. When I studied these proposals, I discovered that the firms had substituted cast-iron bases weighing several tons for the light steel provided in the specifications, which would reduce the cost of production per kilogram, but increase the weight, and therefore the cost to purchaser.

“Naturally, I was pleased to make this discovery, and reported to members of the commission with a sense of triumph. . . . The matter was so arranged that Pyatakov could have gone back to Moscow and showed that he had been very successful in reducing prices, but at the same time would have paid out money for a lot of worthless cast iron and enabled the Germans to give him very substantial rebates. . . . He got away with the same trick on some other mines, although I blocked this one.”

Later, Littlepage observed several instances of industrial sabotage in the Urals, where, because of the work of a Trotskyite engineer named Kabakov, production in certain mines was deliberately kept down. In 1937, states Littlepage, Kabakov was “arrested on charges of industrial sabotage. . . . When I heard of his arrest, I was not surprised.” Again, in 1937, Littlepage found further evidence of sabotage in Soviet industry directed personally by Pyatakov. The American engineer had reorganized certain valuable mines in southern Kazakstan and left detailed written instructions for the Soviet workers to follow so as to ensure maximum production. “Well,” writes Littlepage, “one of my last jobs in Russia, in 1937, was a hurry call to return to these same mines. . . . Thousands of tons of rich ore already had been lost beyond recovery, and in a few more weeks, if nothing had been done meanwhile, the whole deposit might have been lost. I discovered that . . . a commission came in from Pyatakov’s headquarters. . . . My instructions had been thrown in the stove, and a system of mining introduced throughout those mines which was certain to cause the loss of a large part of the ore body in a few months.” Littlepage found “flagrant examples of deliberate sabotage.” Just before he left Russia, and after he had submitted a full written report on his findings to the Soviet authorities, many members of the Trotskyite sabotage ring were rounded up. Littlepage found that the saboteurs had used his instructions “as the basis for deliberately wrecking the plant” by doing exactly the opposite of what he had instructed. The saboteurs admitted, Littlepage stated in the Saturday Evening Post, that “they had been drawn into a conspiracy against the Stalin regime by opposition Communists, who convinced them that they were strong enough to overthrow Stalin and his associates and seize power for themselves.”

(3) The Germans were particularly concerned about the new industrial base which Stalin was building in far-off West Siberia and in the Urals. This base was out of range of bombing planes and, in the event of war, might prove a major factor on the Soviet side. The Germans wanted to penetrate this base with spies and saboteurs. Borsig, Demag and Frölich-Klüpfel-Dehlmann, which had contracts with the Soviet Government whereby they were supplying machinery and technical assistance for the Five-Year Plan, were used as “fronts” by the German Military Intelligence. German spies and saboteurs were sent to Russia posing as “engineers’ and “specialists.”

The German Military Intelligence also recruited agents from among Soviet engineers in Germany who were susceptible to blackmail or bribery. One Soviet engineer, Mikhail Stroilov, who was enlisted as a German spy in Berlin in December 1930, and was subsequently recruited into the Trotskyite organization in Siberia, told a Soviet court after his arrest in 1937:

“The thing started gradually with my meeting with [the German spy] von Berg. . . . He spoke Russian excellently because he had lived in Russia, in St. Petersburg, 15 or 20 years before the revolution. This man visited the Technical Bureau several times and had talks with me on business matters, in particular about hard alloys manufactured by the firm of Walram. . . . Berg advised me to read Trotsky’s My Life. . . . In Novosibirsk, German specialists began to come to me with the agreed password. Until the end of 1934 six men came to see me: Sommeregger, Worm, Baumgarten, Maas, Hauer and Flessa [“engineers” employed by the German firm, Frölich-Klüpfel-Dehlmann].. . . . My first report, made on January 1932 through engineer Flessa, and telling of the vast plan of development in the Kuznetsk Basin, was in effect espionage. . . . I received instructions . . . that I should proceed to decisive wrecking and destructive acts . . . the plan of wrecking and destructive work was drawn up … by the West-Siberian Trotskyite organization.”

CHAPTER XVII – Treason and Terror

1. The Diplomacy of Treason

IN the years 1933-1934, a mysterious malaise seemed to seize the nations of Europe. One country after another was suddenly shaken by coups d’état, military Putsches, sabotage, assassinations and startling revelations of cabals and conspiracies. Scarcely a month passed without some new act of treachery and violence. An epidemic of treason and terror raced across Europe.

Nazi Germany was the center of infection. On January 11, 1934, a United Press dispatch reported from London: “With Nazi Germany as the center of the new Fascist movements, agitation and violence by those who believe the old form of government is doomed have spread over the continent.”

The term “Fifth Column” was as yet unknown. But already the secret vanguards of the German High Command had launched their offensive against the nations of Europe. The French Cagoulards and Croix de Feu; the British Union of Fascists; the Belgian Rexists; the Polish POW; the Czechoslovakian Henlein-ists and Hlinka Guards; the Norwegian Quislingites; the Rumanian Iron Guards; the Bulgarian IMRO; the Finnish Lappo; the Lithuanian Iron Wolf; the Latvian Fiery Cross, and many other newly created Nazi secret societies or reorganized counterrevolutionary leagues were already at work paving the way for the German Wehrmacht’s conquest and enslavement of the Continent and preparing for the attack on the Soviet Union.

Here is a partial list of the most important acts of Nazi-fascist terrorism immediately following Hitler’s rise to power: –

October 1933:

Assassination of Alex Mailov, Secretary of the Soviet Embassy, at Lvov, Poland, by agents of the Nazi-financed OUN, terrorist organization of Ukrainian Nationalists

December 1933:

Assassination of Premier Ion Duca of Rumania by the Iron Guards, Nazi-Rumanian terrorists

February 1934:

Uprising in Paris, France, of Croix de Feu, Nazi-inspired French fascist organization

March 1934:

Attempted coup d’état in Estonia by Nazifinanced fascist Liberty Fighters

May 1934:

Fascist coup d’état in Bulgaria

May 1934:

Attempted Putsch in Latvia by Nazi controlled Baltic Brotherhood

June 1934:

Assassination of General Bronislav Pieracki, Polish Minister of Interior, by agents of the Nazi-financed OUN, terrorist organization of Ukrainian Nationalists

June 1934:

Assassination of Ivan Babiy, head of Organization for Catholic Action in Poland, by OUN agents

June 1934:

Attempted mass uprising in Lithuania by Nazi Iron Wolf organization

July 1934:

Abortive Nazi Putsch in Austria and assassination by Nazi terrorists of Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss

October 1934:

Assassination of King Alexander of Yugoslavia and the French Foreign Minister Barthou by agents of the Ustachi, Nazi controlled Croatian fascist organization

Two men were chiefly responsible for the organization and supervision of these Nazi Fifth Column activities which soon extended far beyond Europe, penetrating the United States, Latin America, Africa, and, linking up with the Japanese Intelligence Service, all the area of the Far East. These two men were Alfred Rosenberg and Rudolph Hess. Rosenberg headed the Aussenpolitisches Amt der NSDAP (Foreign Political Office of the Nazi Party) which had the task of directing thousands of Nazi espionage, sabotage and propaganda agencies throughout the world, with special points of concentration in eastern Europe and Soviet Russia. As Hitler’s deputy, Rudolph Hess was in charge of all secret foreign negotiations for the Nazi Government.

It was Alfred Rosenberg, the one-time Czarist émigré from Reval, who first established secret official Nazi relations with Leon Trotsky. It was Rudolph Hess, Hitler’s deputy, who cemented them. . . .

In September 1933, eight months after Adolf Hitler became dictator of Germany, the Trotskyite diplomat and German agent Nicolai Krestinsky stopped off in Berlin for a few days on his way to take his annual “rest cure” at a sanatorium in Kissingen. Krestinsky then held the post of Assistant Commissar in the Soviet Foreign Office.

In Berlin, Krestinsky saw Sergei Bessonov, the Trotskyite liaison agent at the Soviet Embassy. In great excitement, Kristin-sky informed Bessonov that “Alfred Rosenberg, the leader of the Foreign Affairs Department of the National Socialist Party of Germany,” had been “making soundings in our circles on the question of a possible secret alliance between the National Socialists in Germany and the Russian Trotskyites.”

Krestinsky told Bessonov that he must see Trotsky. A meeting must be arranged at all costs. Krestinsky would be in the Kissingen sanatorium until the end of September, then he would go to Merano in the Italian Tyrol. Trotsky could contact him, with due precautions, in either place.

The meeting was arranged. In the second week of October, 1933, Leon Trotsky, accompanied by his son Sedov, crossed the Franco-Italian border on a false passport and met Krestinsky at the Hotel Bavaria in Merano. (1)

The conference which followed covered almost all the major issues concerning the future development of the conspiracy inside Soviet Russia. Trotsky began by stating flatly that “the seizure of power in Russia could be consummated only by force.” But the conspiratorial apparatus alone was not strong enough to carry out a successful coup and to maintain itself in power without outside aid. It was therefore essential to come to a concrete agreement with foreign states interested in aiding the Trotskyites against the Soviet Government for their own ends.

“The embryo of such an agreement,” Trotsky told Krestinsky, was our agreement with the Reichswehr; but this agreement in no way satisfied either the Trotskyites or the German side for two reasons: first, the other party to this agreement was only the Reichswehr and not the German Government as a whole. . . . Second, what was the substance of our agreement with the Reichswehr? We were receiving a small sum of money and they were receiving espionage information which they would need during an armed attack. But the German Government, Hitler particularly, wants colonies, territory, and not only espionage information. And he is prepared to be satisfied with Soviet territory instead of the colonies for which he would have to fight England, America and France. As for us, we do not need the 250,000 gold marks. We need the German armed forces in order to come to power with their assistance. And it is towards this end that the work should be carried on.”

The first thing, said Trotsky, was to reach an agreement with the German Government. “But the Japanese are also a force with which it is necessary to come to terms,” Trotsky added. It would be necessary for the Russian Trotskyites to initiate “soundings” with the Japanese representatives in Moscow. “In this connection,” Trotsky instructed Krestinsky, “use Sokolnikov, who is working in the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs, in charge of Eastern Affairs. . . .”

Trotsky went on to give Krestinsky instructions about the inner organization of the Russian conspiratorial apparatus. “Even if the Soviet Union is attacked, let us say, by Germany,” said Trotsky, “that does not as yet make it possible to seize the machinery of power unless certain internal forces have been prepared. . . . It is necessary to have strongholds both in the towns and in the countryside among the petty bourgeoisie and the Kulaks, and there it is the Rights who have the connections. Finally, it is necessary to have a stronghold, an organization in the Red Army among the commanders, in order, with our united effort, to seize the most vital places at the necessary moment and to come to power, to replace the present Government, which must be arrested, by a Government of our own which has been prepared beforehand.”

On his return to Russia, Krestinsky was to get in touch with General Tukhachevsky, Assistant Chief of Staff of the Red Army; “a man,” as Trotsky told Krestinsky, “of a Bonapartist type, an adventurer, and ambitious man, who strives not only for a military but also for a military-political role, and who will unquestionably make common cause with us.”

Trotsky’s followers in Russia were to give every assistance to General Tukhachevsky, while at the same time taking care to place their own men in strategic positions, so that, when the coup d’etat came, the ambitious Tukhachevsky would not be able to control the new government without the aid of Trotsky.

Before the conference broke up, Trotsky gave Krestinsky specific orders for Pyatakov on the carrying out of the terrorist and sabotage campaigns in Soviet Russia. In speaking of this, Trotsky declared that the “diversionist acts and acts of terrorism” must be considered from two points of view. First, “of applying them in time of war for the purpose of disorganizing the defensive capacity of the Red Army, for disorganizing the Government at the moment of the coup d’état.” But secondly, said Trotsky, it must be realized that these acts would make his, Trotsky’s, position “stronger” and would give him “more confidence in his negotiations with foreign governments” because he “would be able to refer to the fact that his followers in the Soviet Union were both sufficiently strong and sufficiently active.”

Back in Moscow, Krestinsky delivered a full report on his meeting with Trotsky before a secret meeting of the Russian Trotskyites. A few of the conspirators, particularly Karl Radek who was supposed to be Trotsky’s “Foreign Minister,” were nettled by the fact that Trotsky had entered into such important negotiations without having first consulted them.

After hearing krestinsky’s report, Radek sent off a special message to Trotsky asking for “further clarification on the question of foreign policy.”

Trotsky’s reply, written from France, was handed to Radek a few weeks later by Vladimir Romm, a young foreign correspondent of the Soviet news agency Tass who was serving as a Trotskyite courier. Romm had received the letter from Trotsky in Paris and had smuggled it into Russia concealed in the cover of the popular Soviet novel, Tsusima. (2) Radek later described the contents of this letter as follows: –

Trotsky put the question in this way: the accession of Fascism to power in Germany had fundamentally changed the whole situation. It implied war in the near future, inevitable war, the more so that the situation was simultaneously becoming acute in the Far East. Trotsky had no doubt that this war would result in the defeat of the Soviet Union. This defeat, he wrote, will create favorable conditions for the accession to power of the bloc. . . . Trotsky stated that he had established contacts with a certain Far Eastern state and a certain Central European state, and that he had openly told semi-official circles of these states that the bloc stood for a bargain with them and was prepared to make considerable concessions both of an economic and a territorial character.

In the same letter, Trotsky informed Radek that the Russian Trotskyites working in diplomatic posts would be approached in the near future by certain foreign representatives and that, when this took place, the Trotskyite diplomats were to confirm their loyalty to Trotsky and to assure the foreign representatives that they stood behind Trotsky in every way. . . .

Grigori Sokolnikov, the Trotskyite Assistant Commissar for Eastern Affairs, hurried into Radek’s office at Izvestia a short time later. “Just imagine,” Sokolnikov burst out nervously as soon as the door was closed. “I am conducting negotiations at the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs. The conversation comes to a close. The interpreters have left the room. The Japanese envoy suddenly turns to me and asks: am I informed about the proposals Trotsky has made to his Government?”

Sokolnikov was highly perturbed by the incident. “How does Trotsky visualize this?” he asked Radek. “How can I, as Assistant People’s Commissar, conduct such negotiations? This is an absolutely impossible situation!”

Radek tried to calm his agitated friend. “Don’t get excited,” he said. “Trotsky obviously doesn’t understand the situation here.” Radek went on to assure Sokolnikov that it would not happen again. He had already written to Trotsky telling him that it was impossible for the Russian Trotskyites to carry on negotiations with German and Japanese agents – “under the eyes of the OGPU.” The Russian Trotskyites, said Radek, would have to “put their mandate on Trotsky’s visa” to go ahead with the negotiations on his own, so long as he kept them fully informed of his progress. . . .

Soon after, Radek himself was attending a diplomatic function in Moscow when a German diplomat sat down beside him and quietly said: “Our leaders know that Mr. Trotsky is striving for a rapprochement with Germany. Our leader wants to know, what does this idea of Mr. Trotsky signify? Perhaps it is the idea of an émigré who sleeps badly? What is behind these ideas?”

Describing his reaction to this unexpected Nazi approach, Radek later said: –

Of course, his talk with me lasted only a couple of minutes; the atmosphere of a diplomatic reception is not suited to lengthy perorations. I had to make my decision literally in one second and give him an answer. . . . I told him that realist politicians in the U.S.S.R. understand the significance of a German-Soviet rapprochement and are prepared to make the necessary concessions to achieve this rapprochement..

On the night of June 30, 1934, the Nazi terror struck within its own ranks in Germany when Hitler liquidated dissident elements within his movement. Within twenty-four hours, Captain Ernst Roehm, Chief of Staff of Hitler’s Storm Troops; Edmund Heines, Supreme Group Leader in Eastern Germany; Karl Ernst, Chief Leader of the Berlin Storm Troops; and scores of their friends and associates fell before the bullets of Hitler’s gunmen in Munich and Berlin. Intense anxiety and fear gripped the whole Nazi movement.

From Paris, Trotsky immediately dispatched one of his most trusted “secretaries,” an international spy named Karl Reich, alias Johanson, to contact Sergei Bessonov, the Trotskyite liaison in Berlin. Bessonov was summoned to Paris to make a detailed report to Trotsky on the situation inside Germany.

Bessonov was unable to get to Paris immediately; but at the end of July he managed to leave Berlin. After meeting Trotsky in a Paris hotel and making his report on the German situation, he returned to Berlin that same evening. Trotsky was in a state of great nervous excitement when Bessonov saw him. The events in Germany, the elimination of the “radical Nazis” headed by Roehn, might bring about some hitch in his plans. Bessonov assured Trotsky that Hitler, Himmler, Hess, Rosenberg, Goering and Goebbels still held the state power firmly in their hands.

“They will come to us yet!” cried Trotsky. He went on to tell Bessonov that he would have important assignments for him to carry out in Berlin in the near future. “We must not be squeamish in this matter,” said Trotsky. “In order to obtain real and important help from Hess and Rosenberg, we must not stop short at consenting to big cessions of territory. We shall consent to the cession of the Ukraine. Bear that in mind in your work and in your negotiations with the Germans, and I shall also write about it to Pyatakov and Krestinsky.”

A web of treason was already being spun through the various offices of the Soviet Diplomatic Corps. Ambassadors, secretaries, attaches and minor consular agents were involved in the conspiratorial network, not only in Europe, but also in the Far East….

The Soviet Ambassador to Japan was taking part in the conspiracy. His name was Yurenev. He had been a secret Trotskyite since 1926. On instructions from Trotsky, he established connections with the Japanese Intelligence Service. Assisting Yurenev in his dealings with Japan was Trotsky’s old friend, Christian Rakovsky, the one-time Ambassador to England and France. Rakovsky no longer held any important post in the Soviet Foreign Office. He worked as an official on various public health commissions. But he was still an important personality in the underground conspiracy.

In September 1934, Rakovsky went to Japan with a Soviet delegation to attend the international conference of Red Cross societies which was to take place in Tokyo in October. Before leaving for Japan, Rakovsky received an envelope from the Commissariat of Heavy Industry in Moscow. It was from Pyatakov and it contained a letter which Rakovsky was to deliver to Ambassador Yurenev in Tokyo. Ostensibly, the letter expressed a routine request for official trade information. On the back of the letter, written in invisible ink, there was a message to Yurenev informing him that Rakovsky was to be “utilized” in the negotiations with the Japanese.

The day after Rakovsky arrived in Tokyo he was contacted by a Japanese agent. The encounter took place in a corridor of the Japanese Red Cross building in Tokyo. Rakovsky was told that the aims of the Russian Trotskyite movement “fully coincided” with those of the Japanese Government. The Japanese agent added that he was sure Rakovsky would be able to provide Tokyo with valuable information concerning the “situation” inside Soviet Russia.

That same evening Rakovsky told Yurenev about his conversation with the Japanese agent. “The idea is to enlist me as a spy,” said Rakovsky, “as an informer for the Japanese Government.”

“There is no need to hesitate,” replied the Trotskyite Ambassador. “The die is cast.”

A few days later, Rakovsky dined by appointment with a high officer of the Japanese Intelligence Service. The Japanese officer began the conversation boldly. “We are aware that you are a very close friend and adherent of Mr. Trotsky,” he told Rakovsky. “I must ask you to write to him that our government is dissatisfied with his articles on the Chinese question and also with the behavior of the Chinese Trotskyites. We have a right to expect a different line of conduct on the part of Mr. Trotsky. Mr. Trotsky ought to understand what is necessary. There is no need to go into details, but it is clear that an incident provoked in China would be a desirable pretext for intervening in China.”

The Japanese officer then went on to tell Rakovsky the sort of confidential information the Japanese Government would be interested in receiving from the Russian Trotskyites: data concerning conditions in collective farms, railroads, mines and industries, especially in the Eastern sections of the U.S.S.R. Rakovsky was given various codes and spy names for his use in delivering this information. It was arranged that Dr. Naida, a secretary of the Red Cross delegation, would act as liaison between Rakovsky and the Japanese Intelligence Service. . . .

Before he left Tokyo, Rakovsky had a final chat with Yurenev. The Trotskyite Ambassador was depressed. “We have gotten into such a mess that sometimes one does not know how to behave!” he said gloomily. “One is afraid that by satisfying one of our partners we may offend another. For instance, here at present, antagonism is arising between Great Britain and Japan in connection with the Chinese question, while we have to maintain connections both with the British and the Japanese Intelligence Services. . . . And here I have to find my bearings in all this!”

Rakovsky replied: “We Trotskyites have to play three cards at the present moment: the German, the Japanese, and the British. . . . What we are doing is a policy of putting everything at stake, of everything for everything; but if a risky venture succeeds, the adventurers are called great statesmen!”(3)

2. The Diplomacy of Terror

While the Russian conspirators were cementing their treasonable ties with the representatives of Germany and Japan, another phase of the secret offensive against the Soviet Government was already under way. Treason was being supplemented by terror. . . .

In April 1934, a Soviet engineer named Boyarshinov walked into the office of the construction chief at the vital Kuznetsk coal mines in Siberia to report that something was very wrong in his department. There were far too many accidents, underground fires, mechanical breakdowns. Boyarshinov suspected sabotage.

The construction chief thanked Boyarshinov for the information. “I will inform the right people,” he said. “In the meantime don’t say anything to anybody about this.”

The construction chief was Alexei Shestov, German spy and chief organizer of Trotskyite sabotage in Siberia.

A few days later Boyarshinov was found dead in a ditch. A speeding truck had hit him as he was going home from work along a lonely strip of country road. The driver of the truck was a professional terrorist named Cherepukhin. Shestov had given him the assignment of murdering Bovarshinov and paid him 15,000 rubles for the job.(4)

In September 1934, V. M. Molotov, Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the U.S.S.R., arrived in Siberia on an inspection tour of the mining and industrial areas. Molotov was returning from a visit to one of the mines at the Kuznetsk coal basin when the car in which he was driving suddenly went off the road, careened down a steep embankment and stopped just at the edge of a steep gully. Severely shaken and bruised, but otherwise unhurt, Molotov and his companions scrambled from the overturned car. They had narrowly escaped death. . . .

The driver of the car was Valentine Arnold, the manager of the local garage. Arnold was a member of the Trotskyite terrorist apparatus. Shestov had instructed him to murder Molotov; and Arnold had deliberately driven the car off the road, intending to kill himself along with Molotov. The attempt failed only because at the last minute Arnold lost his nerve and slowed down as he approached the embankment where the “accident” was scheduled to have taken place. . . .

By the autumn of 1934, Trotskyite and Right terrorist groups were functioning throughout the Soviet Union. These terrorist groups included among their members former Social Revolutionaries, one-time Mensheviks, professional gunmen and ex-agents of the Czarist Ochrana. In the Ukraine and Byelorussia, in Georgia and Armenia, in Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and the Maritime Region of the Far East, anti-Soviet nationalists and fascists were recruited into the terrorist apparatus. In many places, Nazi and Japanese agents directly supervised the operations of these groups.

A list had been compiled of the Soviet leaders who were to be assassinated. At the head of the list was the name of Josef Stalin. Among the other names were Klementi Voroshilov, V. M. Molotov, Sergei Kirov, Lazar Kaganovich, Andrei Zhdanov, Vyacheslav Menzhinsky, Maxim Gorky and Valerian Kuibyshev.

The terrorists periodically received messages from Leon Trotsky stressing the urgency of eliminating the Soviet leaders. One of these messages reached Ephraim Dreitzer, Trotsky’s former bodyguard, in October 1934. Trotsky had written it in invisible ink on the margins of a German motion picture magazine. It was brought to Dreitzer by his sister, who had been given the magazine by a Trotskyite courier in Warsaw. Trotsky’s message to Dreitzer read: –

Dear friend. Convey that today we have the following main tasks before us:

l) To remove Stalin and Voroshilov.

2) To unfold work for organizing nuclei in the army.

3) In the event of war, to take advantage of every setback and confusion to capture the leadership.

The message was signed Starik (“Old Man”), which was Trotsky’s code signature.

In one case, the conspirators, after prolonged observation, established the route along which Commissar of Defense Voroshilov usually drove in Moscow. Three terrorists, armed with revolvers, were stationed for a number of days on Frunze Street, one of the thoroughfares along which Voroshilov’s car passed. But the car always traveled at a high speed, and the terrorists decided, as one of them reported afterwards, that “It was useless firing at the fast running car.”

Several plots to kill Stalin also miscarried. A Trotskyite terrorist, assigned to shoot Stalin at an important Party conference in Moscow, managed to get into the meeting but was unable to approach close enough to the Soviet leader to use his revolver. Another time, terrorists fired with high-powered rifles at Stalin as he was passing in a motorboat along the shore of the Black Sea, but the shots missed. “A pity,” said Leo Kamenev, when the terrorist Ivan Bakayev reported the failure of one of his blots to kill Stalin. “Let’s hope the next time we’ll be more successful.” (5)

Trotsky became more and more inpatient. The tone of his communications to his followers in Russia underwent a sharp change. He angrily berated them for being “all the time engaged in organizational preparations and conversations” and for not having accomplished “anything concrete.” Trotsky began sending special agents of his own into the Soviet Union to help organize and to expedite terrorist acts. These agents, who were either Russian émigrés or German Trotskyites, traveled on false passports provided for them by the conspirators in the Soviet diplomatic service or by the German Military Intelligence and the Gestapo.

The first of these special agents was a German Trotskyite named Nathan Lurye. He was followed by two more of Trotsky’s men: Konon Berman-Yurin and Fritz David, alias Ilya-David Kruglyansky. In March 1933 Trotsky sent a fourth and fifth agent: Valentine Olberg and Moissei Lurye, alias Alexander Emel (Moissei Lurye was no relative of Nathan Lurye).

Before Nathan Lurye left Berlin, he was instructed that in Moscow he was to operate under the supervision of a German engineer and architect named Franz Weitz, who was then employed in the Soviet Union. Franz Weitz was not one of Leon Trotsky’s followers. Weitz was a member of the National Socialist Party of Germany. He had been sent into the Soviet Union as a secret emissary of Heinrich Himmler, director of the Nazi Gestapo. Himmler had given Weitz the assignment of organizing terrorist and espionage operations in the Soviet Union in collaboration with the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center.

When one of Zinoviev’s followers questioned this direct tie-up with a Nazi agent, Zinoviev replied: “What is there in this disturbing to you? You are an historian. You know the case of Lasalle and Bismarck, when Lasalle wanted to use Bismarck in the interests of the revolution. Why cannot we today utilize Himmler?”

Shortly before they left for Russia, Trotsky’s emissaries, Konon Berman-Yurin and Fritz David, were summoned to special conferences with Trotsky himself. The meetings took place in Copenhagen toward the end of November 1932. Konon Berman-Yurin later stated: –

I had two meetings with him [Trotsky]. First of all he began to sound me on my work in the past. Then Trotsky passed to Soviet affairs. Trotsky said: “The principal question is the question of Stalin. Stalin must be physically destroyed.” He said that other methods of struggle were now ineffective. He said that for this purpose people were needed who would dare anything, who would agree to sacrifice themselves for this, as he expressed it, historic task. . . .

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

During the conversation he nervously paced up and down the room and spoke of Stalin with exceptional hatred. . . . He said that the terrorist act should, if possible, be timed to take place at a plenum or at the congress of the Comintern, so that the shot at Stalin would ring out in a large assembly. This would have a tremendous repercussion far beyond the borders of the Soviet Union. . . . This would be an historical political event of world significance.

To Fritz David, his other emissary, Trotsky said: “Terror against Stalin – that is the revolutionary task. Whoever is a revolutionary – his hand will not tremble.” Trotsky spoke of the “growing discontent” in Soviet Russia. David asked him, “Do you think this discontent will disappear in the event of a war between the Soviet Union and the Japanese?” Trotsky replied, “No, on the contrary, under these conditions the forces hostile to the regime will try to unite and take the lead of these discontented masses, to arm them and lead them against the ruling bureaucrats.”

The Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center was to carry out the first major blow of the conspiracy against the Soviet Government. This first blow was the assassination of Sergei Kirov, Secretary of the Leningrad Party, and one of Stalin’s closest co-workers in the Soviet Government. . . .

Early in November 1934, Zinoviev, who was in Moscow, sent his follower, Bakayev, to check up on the organization of terrorist cells in Leningrad.

The Leningrad terrorists, who had made repeated attempts to get close to Kirov, were not too pleased to receive Zinoviev’s emissary. “So Grigori Eveseyevich [Zinoviev] doesn’t trust us,” one of the gunmen said to Bakayev. “He sends people here to check up on our mood and our work. Well, we’re not a proud lot!”

A conference of the Leningrad terrorist cells, attended by seven terrorists, acquainted Bakayev with the latest developments. Bakayev was informed that a regular watch had been established along the route which Kirov took from his home to his office at the Smolny Institute. Bakayev was introduced to the man who had been selected to carry out the actual assassination: Leonid Nikolayev, a pale, slender, thirty-year-old former bookkeeper who had been dismissed from his post for irregularities in his accounts and expelled from the Komsomol [Communist youth organization] for general unreliability.

Nikolayev told Bakayev that he planned to shoot Kirov either near his home or in the Smolny Institute. He added that he had already tried to get an appointment with Kirov but that so far he had failed.

Bakayev repeated the instructions which Zinoviev had given him in Moscow: –

The principal task is to organize the terroristic work so secretly as to preclude our being compromised in any way. . . .

When under examination, the main thing is to persistently deny any connection with the organization. If accused of terroristic activities, you must emphatically deny it and argue that terror is incompatible with the views of Bolsheviks-Marxists. . . .

Zinoviev was satisfied with developments in Leningrad. Both he and Kamenev were confident that the assassination of Kirov would soon take place. They believed that this act would throw the Soviet Government into confusion and be a signal for similar acts against Soviet leaders throughout the country. “Heads are peculiar,” remarked Kamenev, “in that they do not grow again. . . .

On December 1, 1934, at 4:27 P.M., Sergei Kirov left his office in the Smolny Institute. He walked down the long marble-lined corridor leading to a room where he was to deliver a report on the decision of the Central Committee to abolish the bread rationing system. As Kirov passed an intersecting corridor, a man sprang out, thrust a revolver at the back of Kirov’s head and fired.

At 4:30 P.M. Sergei Kirov was dead.

The assassin was Leonid Nikolayev. He tried to get away and then to turn the gun on himself, but he was seized before he could do either.

On December 28, 1934, Leonid Nikolayev was placed on trial before the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R. “When I shot Kirov,” Nikolayev testified, “I reasoned as follows: Our shot must be a signal for an explosion, a revolt within the country against the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and against the Soviet Government.”

The Military Collegiumn sentenced Nikolayev to be shot.(6)

Nikolayev did not divulge the fact that Zinoviev, Kamenev and the other leaders of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center had been directly involved in the plot to murder Kirov.

But it was clear to the Soviet Government that the careful planning and preparation behind the assassination involved a far more elaborate and dangerous organization than Nikolayev’s terrorist group. The Bolshevik Party appointed a special investigator to probe into the Leningrad affair. His name was N. I. Yezhov, a member of the Central Committee of the Party and head of the Control Commission.

Two weeks after the trial of Nikolayev, Grigori Zinoviev, Leo Kamenev and several of their known associates, including Bakayev, faced a Leningrad court, charged with complicity in the assassination of Kirov. Throughout the trial Zinoviev and Kamenev followed a course of conduct carefully planned in advance. Admitting nothing that the Soviet Government had not established by its own investigation, they feigned deep remorse and “confessed” that the political oppositionist activities in which they had been involved had “created an atmosphere” conducive to “anti-Soviet activities.” They said they were leaders of a “Moscow Center” of political opposition, and they accepted “moral responsibility” for Kirov’s murder, since they had headed the seditious political movement from which the crime had sprung. But they fervently denied they themselves had any foreknowledge of the plot to assassinate Kirov.

“I am accustomed to feel that I am a leader,” Zinoviev declared, “and it goes without saying that I should have known everything. . . This outrageous murder has thrown such an ominous light upon the whole previous anti-Party struggle, that I recognize that the Party is absolutely right in speaking of the political responsibility of the former anti-Party Zinoviev group for the murder committed.”

Kamenev played the same role. ” I must say that I am not a coward by nature, but I never counted on fighting with arms,” he said. “I always expected that a situation would arise in which the Central Committee would be compelled to negotiate with us, that it would move up and make room for us. . . .”

The ruse succeeded. The trial failed to establish that Zinoviev and Kamenev had participated directly in the plot to kill Kirov. Instead, they were found guilty only of carrying on anti-Soviet seditious activities. The verdict of the court stated: –

The trial did not bring to light any facts furnishing grounds for qualifying the acts of the members of the Moscow center in connection with the assassination of Comrade S. M. Kirov on December 1, 1934, as being a direct incitement to this heinous crime; nevertheless, the trial has completely confirmed the fact that the members of the counter-revolutionary Moscow center were aware of the terrorist sentiments of the Leningrad group and inflamed these sentiments. . . .

Zinoviev was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment, and Kamenev to five, for their conspiratorial activity.

The trial had only scratched the surface of the conspiracy. Among the many facts which the Leningrad trial failed to bring to light, perhaps the strangest were these: –

When Zinoviev and Kamenev were arrested, four agents of the Soviet secret police had brought them to NKVD headquarters.(7) The agents were Molchanov, Chief of the Secret Political Department of the NKVD; Pauker, Chief of the Operations Department; Volovich, Assistant Chief of the Operations Department; and Bulanov, Assistant to the Chairman of the NKVD.

In arresting Zinoviev and Kamenev, the four NKVD agents acted in a most extraordinary fashion. They not only failed to search the apartments of the, suspects for incriminating material; they actually permitted Zinoviev and Kamenev to destroy a number of incriminating documents. . . .

Still more remarkable were the records of these four NKVD agents.

Molchanov and Bulanov were themselves secret members of the Trotskyite-Right conspiratorial apparatus.

Pauker and Volovich were German agents.

These men had been specially picked to make the arrests by Henry G. Yagoda, the Chairman of the NKVD.


(1) Trotsky was then living at St. Palais, a small village at the foot of the Pyrenees in the South of France. In July, he had left Prinkipo. (He soon moved with his retinue of body guards and “secretaries” to a guarded villa near Paris.)

At the time Trotsky came to France, the French reactionaries and fascists were desperately striving to prevent the proposed Franco-Soviet collective security alliance.

The French Government, which gave Trotsky permission to enter France and establish his anti-Soviet headquarters in that country, was headed at the time by Edouard Daladier, whose appeasement policies, fulfilled at Munich, were to play so important a part in betraying France and the other anti-fascist nations of Europe into the hands of the Nazis. The French Radical Deputy Henri Guernot personally sponsored Trotsky’s pleas to be admitted to France. The necessary arrangements were made by the Minister of the Interior, Camille Chautemps the dubious French politician who helped quash the investigation of the fascist Cagoulard conspiracy and later became vice-Premier of the first Pétain Cabinet. “You have had the kindness to call my attention to Mr. Leon Trotsky, exile of Russian origin, who has asked, for reasons of health, authorization to live in the Departments of the South . . , ,” Minister of Interior Chautemps wrote Deputy Guernot. “I have the honor to inform you that . . . the interested party will obtain without difficulty, when he makes the request, a passport visa for France.”

Among Trotsky’s numerous other influential friends and sympathizers in France were: Jacques Doriot, the renegade French Communist and Nazi agent; and Marcel Déat, the one-time Socialist professor, Nazi agent, and, after the downfall of France, leading collaborationist.

Trotsky’s presence in France was also approved by anti-Soviet elements in the French Intelligence Service and secret police. In April 1937, at the Hearings in Mexico, Trotsky declared: “. . . Monsieur Thome and Monsieur Cado, the general secretary of the police and the préfecture of the Department of Charente Inféricure – all the summits of the police were very well acquainted with my situation. It was the secret agent of the police who was informed of every step of mine.”

(2) Vladimir Romm had been Tass correspondent in Tokyo, Geneva and Paris. He met Trotsky in Paris in 1933 by special appointment at a café in the Bois de Boulogne. After telling Romm that only “extreme measures” would enable the conspirators to gain their ends, Trotsky quoted a Latin proverb: “What medicine cannot heal, iron will heal, and what iron cannot heal, fire will heal.” In 1934 Romm was appointed Tass correspondent in the United States. Before he left for America, Romm saw Sedov in Paris. Romm subsequently stated: “Sedov told me that in connection with my going to America, Trotsky had asked to be informed in case there was anything interesting in the sphere of Soviet-American relations. When I asked why this was so interesting, Sedov told me: `This follows from Trotsky’s line on the defeat of the U.S.S.R. Inasmuch as the date of the war of Germany and Japan depends to a certain extent on the state of Soviet American relations, this cannot fail to be of interest to Trotsky.”‘

(3) On February 20, 1937, the Tokyo newspaper Miyako carried a report on a secret session of the “Planning and Budget Commission” of the Japanese Government. At this meeting, Deputy Yoshida asked General Sugiyama, Minister of War, whether he or the army had any information concerning the carrying capacity of the Soviet Siberian Railway. The War Minister answered in the affirmative, saying that the carrying capacity of the strategic Soviet railway was known to the Japanese High Command in full detail. General Sugiyama went on to say: “In Russia there are elements in opposition to the present government and it was precisely from them that we learned it.” The publication of this statement in the newspaper Miyako was the occasion of a severe shake-up in Tokyo press circles. The newspaper was fined heavily by the Government for betraying confidential information and its chief news editor, Yaguchi Gilei, was forced to resign at the request of the War Department.

(4) The money paid by Shestov to Boyarshinov’s murderer was part of a secret fund of 164,000 rubles which Trotskyite gunmen, operating under Shestov’s directions, had stolen from the Anzherka State Bank. The fund had been established to help finance sabotage and terrorist activities in Siberia.

(5) The inner atmosphere of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center, despite its “political” facade, was reminiscent of New York’s Murder, Inc., and similar gangs.

Bakayev, a former political assistant of Zinoviev in the Petrograd Soviet, was responsible for keeping the gunmen of the Terrorist Center in line. He had the job, given him by Zinoviev, of silencing any individuals who might betray the organization. In mid-1934, when an attempt to kill Stalin failed because the appointed assassin, Bogdan, lost his nerve at the decisive moment, Bakayev undertook to silence Bogdan. He visited Bogdan at the Tatter’s apartment and spent the night with him. In the morning, after Bakayev left, Bogdan lay, dead on the floor of his living room with a bullet in his head and a gun beside his body. A letter, which Bakayev had forced him to write, was found in the room. It stated that Bogdan had committed suicide because of the “persecution” of the Trotsky-Zinoviev Opposition by the Soviet Government.

A member of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center, Isak Reingold, later testified that “both Zinoviev and Kamenev” had decided that when they took power they would place Bakayev in a key job in the OGPU. “By use of the OGPU machinery,” testified Reingold, “he was to assist in covering the traces, in doing away with, in killing, not only the employees of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs, the OGPU, who might be in possession of any threads of the conspiracy, but also the direct perpetrators of terrorist acts against Stalin and his immediate assistants. By the hand of Bakayev, the Trotskyite-“Zinovievite organization was to destroy its own activities, its own gunmen, who were involved in this matter.”

(6) The assassination of Kirov was enthusiastically hailed by the Russian fascists, as well as by the Rights and Trotskyites. “Count” Anastase Vonsiatsky, ex-Czarist officer and Japanese agent in the United States, declared in the March 1935 issue of his paper, the Fascist, which was published in Thompson, Connecticut, U.S.A.: “Kirov is finished! Next shot must be aimed at Stalin – a signal to insurrection. . . . Not loud was the shot of our brother Nikolayev but it resounded throughout the world. . . Hats off, Russian people, before Nikolayev’s grave. . . . Long live the immortal hero, Nikolayev!” For further details concerning Vonsiatsky and White Russian fascism, see page 345 ff.

(7) At the end of 1934, the NKVD (Department of Public Security) replaced the OGPU as the agency responsible for internal security affairs in the U.S.S.R.

CHAPTER XVIII – Murder in the Kremlin

l. Yagoda

IN May 1934, six months before the assassination of Sergei Kirov, a heart attack caused the death of Vyacheslav R. Menzhinsky, the long-ailing Chairman of the OGPU. His post was filled by the forty-three-year-old OGPU Vice-Chairman, Henry G. Yagoda, a short, quiet, efficient-looking man with a receding chin and a trim little mustache.

Henry Yagoda was a secret member of the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites. He had joined the conspiracy in 1929, as a member of the Right Opposition, not because he believed in Bukharin’s or Trotsky’s program, but because he thought the oppositionists were destined to come to power in Russia. Yagoda wanted to be on the winning side. In his own words: –

I followed the course of the struggle with great attention, having made up my mind beforehand that I would join the side which emerged victorious from this struggle…. When measures of repression began to be taken against the Trotskyites, the question as to who would come out the victor – the Trotskyites or the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union – was as yet not finally settled. In any event, that was what I thought. Therefore I, as Assistant Chairman of the OGPU, in carrying out the punitive policy, did it in such a way that it would not arouse the anger of the Trotskyites against me. When I was sending Trotskyites into exile, I created for them such conditions in their places of exile as enabled them to carry on their activity.

Yagoda’s role in the conspiracy was at first known only to the three top leaders of the Rights: Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky. In 1932, when the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites was formed, Yagoda’s role became known to Pyatakov and Krestinsky.

As Vice-Chairman of the OGPU, Yagoda was able to protect the conspirators from exposure and arrest. “I took all measures, in the course of a number of years,” he later stated, “to guard the organization, particularly its center, against exposure.” Pagoda appointed members of the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites as special agents in the OGPU. In this way, a number of agents of foreign Intelligence Services were ere able to penetrate the Soviet secret police and, under Yagoda’s protection, carry on espionage activities for their respective governments. The German agents, Pauker and Volovich, whom Yagoda sent to effect the arrest of Zinoviev and Kamenev were appointed to their OGPU positions by Pagoda himself. “I considered them,” Pagoda said later, referring to the foreign spies, “as a valuable force. in the realization of the conspiratorial plans, particularly along the lines of maintaining connections with foreign Intelligence Services.”

In 1933, Ivan Smirnov, the leading organizer of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center, was unexpectedly arrested by Soviet Government agents. Yagoda could not prevent the arrest. On pretext of examining the prisoner, Yagoda visited Smirnov in his cell and “coached him” on how to behave under questioning.

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.

But the Murder of Kirov was only one of a number of murders carried out by the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites with the direct aid of Henry Yagoda….

Behind his quiet, efficient exterior, Yagoda concealed an inordinate ambition, ferocity and cunning. With the secret operations of the Bloc of the Rights and Trotskyites depending more and more on his protection, the Vice-Chairman of the OGPU began to conceive of himself as the central figure and dominating personality of the entire conspiracy. Yagoda had dreams of becoming Russia’s Hitler. He read Mein Kampf. “It is a worthwhile book,” he confided to his devoted henchman and secretary, Pavel Bulanov. He was particularly impressed, he told Bulanov, by the fact that Hitler had “risen from a top sergeant to be the man he is.” Yagoda himself had started his career as a top sergeant in the Russian Army.

Yagoda had his own ideas about the kind of government whichwould be set up after Stalin was overthrown. It would be modeled on that of Nazi Germany, he told Bulanov. Yagoda himself would be the Leader; Rykov would replace Stalin as secretary of a reorganized Party; Tomsky would be chief of the trade-unions, which would come under strict military control like the Nazi labor battalions; the “philosopher” Bukharin, as Yagoda put it, would be “Dr. Goebbels.”

As for Trotsky, Yagoda was not sure if he would permit Trotsky to return to Russia. It would depend on circumstances. Meanwhile, however, Yagoda was prepared to make use of Trotsky’s negotiations with Germany and Japan. The coup d’état, said Yagoda, must be timed to coincide with the outbreak of war against the Soviet Union.

“All means will be required for the achievement of this coup-, armed action, provocation and even poisons,” Yagoda told Bulanov. “There are times when one must act slowly and extremely cautiously, and there are times when one must act quickly and suddenly.”

The decision of the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites to adopt terrorism as a political weapon against the Soviet regime had Yagoda’s endorsement. The decision was communicated to him by Y. S. Yenukidze, a former soldier and official of the Kremlin secretariat, who was the chief organizer of terrorism for the Rights. Yagoda had only one objection. The terrorist methods employed by the conspirators seemed to him too primitive and dangerous. Yagoda set out to devise a more subtle means of political murder than the traditional assassin’s bombs, knives or bullets.

At first, Yagoda experimented with poisons. He set up a secret laboratory and put several chemists to work. His aim was to contrive a method of killing which made exposure impossible. “Murder with a guarantee,” was the way Yagoda put it.

But even poisons were too crude. Before long, Yagoda developed his own special technique of murder. He recommended it as a perfect weapon to the leaders of the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites. “It is very simple,” said Yagoda. “A person naturally falls ill, or he has been ill for some time. Those who surround him become accustomed, as is also natural, to the idea that the patient will either die or recuperate. The physician who treats the patient has the will to facilitate the patient’s recovery or his death…. Well? All the rest is a matter of technique.” One had only to find the right physicians.

2. The Murder of Menzhinsky

The first physician Yagoda involved in his unique murder scheme was Dr. Leo Levin, a corpulent, middle-aged, obsequious man, who liked to boast of his disinterest in political affairs. Dr. Levin was Yagoda’s own physician. More important to Yagoda was the fact that Dr. Levin was a prominent member of the Kremlin Medical Staff. Among his regular patients were a number of prominent Soviet leaders, including Yagoda’s superior, Vyacheslav Menzhinsky, the Chairman of the OGPU.

Yagoda began showering special favors on Dr. Levin. He sent him imported wines, flowers for his wife and various other gifts. He placed a country home, free of charge, at the doctor’s disposal. When Dr. Levin traveled abroad, Yagoda permitted him to bring back foreign purchases without paying the regular customs duty. The physician was flattered and a bit puzzled at these unusual attentions from his influential patient.

Soon, under Yagoda’s manipulations, the unsuspecting Dr. Levin had accepted what amounted to a number of bribes and had committed some minor infractions of Soviet laws. Then Yagoda came bluntly to the point. He told Dr. Levin that a secret opposition movement, of which he himself was one of the leaders, was about to come to power in the Soviet Union. The conspirators, said Yagoda, could make good use of Dr. Levin’s services. Certain Soviet leaders, among theta some of Dr. Levin’s patients, had to be put out of the way.

“Have in mind,” Yagoda told the terrified doctor, “that you cannot help obeying me, you cannot get away from me. Once I place confidence in you with regard to this thing, you must appreciate this and you must carry this out. You cannot tell anybody about it. Nobody will believe you. They will believe not you, but me.” Yagoda added: “Let us now drop this conversation; you think it over at home, and I shall call you in a few days.”

Dr. Levin subsequently described his reaction to Yagoda’s words. He stated: –

I do not have to convey the psychological reaction, how terrible it was for me to hear this. I think that this is sufficiently understood. And then the ceaseless mental anguish. … He further said: “You are aware who is talking to you, the head of what institution is talking to you!”… He reiterated that my refusal to carry this out would spell ruin for me and my family. I figured that I had no other way out, that I had to submit to him.

Dr. Levin helped Yagoda to enlist the services of another physician who also frequently treated Menzhinsky. This physician was Dr. Ignaty N. Kazakov, whose distinctly unorthodox therapeutic methods were the cause of some heated controversy in Soviet medical circles during the early 1930’s.

Dr. Kazakov claimed to have discovered an almost infallible cure for a wide range of illnesses by means of a special technique which he called “lysatotherapy.” The OGPU Chairman Menzhinsky who suffered from angina pectoris and bronchial asthma had great faith in Kazakov’s treatments and took them regularly.(1)

On Yagoda’s instructions, Dr. Levin went to see Dr. Kazakov. Dr. Levin said to him: “Menzhinsky is a living corpse. You’re really wasting your time.”

Dr. Kazakov looked at his colleague in astonishment.

“I’ll have to have a special talk with you,” said Dr. Levin. “About what?” asked Dr. Kazakov.

“About Menzhinsky’s health.”.. ,

Later, Dr. Levin came to the point. “I thought you were cleverer. You still haven’t understood me,” he told Kazakov. “I’m surprised you’ve undertaken Menzhinsky’s treatment with so much zeal and you have ever improved his health. You should never have allowed him to get back to work.”

Then, to Dr. Kasakov’s mounting amazement and horror, Dr. Levin went on: –

“You must realize that Menzhinsky is actually a corpse, and, by restoring his health, by allowing him to get back to work, You are antagonizing Yagoda. Menzhinsky is in Yagoda’s way and Yagoda is interested in getting him out of the way as soon as possible. Yagoda is a man who doesn’t stop at anything.”

Dr. Levin added: –

“Not a word of this to Menzhinsky! I am warning you that, if you tell Menzhinsky about it, Yagoda will destroy you. You’ll not escape him no matter where you hide yourself. He would get you even if you were underground.”

On the afternoon of November 6, 1933, Dr. Kazakov received an urgent call from Menzhinsky’s home. When Dr. Kazakov arrived at the home of the OGPU Chairman, he was met by a heavy, stifling odor of turpentine and paint. Within a few minutes he found himself gasping for breath. One of Menzhinsky’s secretaries informed him that the house had been freshly painted and that “a special substance” had been added to the paint to “make the paint dry more quickly.” It was this “special substance” which caused the pungent, overwhelming odor.

Dr. Kazakov went upstairs. He found Nlenzhinsky in great agony. His bronchial condition had been terribly aggravated by the fumes. He was sitting in a cramped, awkward position, his face and body swollen, barely able to whisper. Dr. Kazakov listened to his breathing. It was labored and rasping, with greatly prolonged exhalation, characteristic of a serious attack of bronchial asthma. Dr. Kazakov immediately gave Menzhinsky an injection to relieve his condition. He then flung open all the windows in the room and ordered Menzhinskv’s secretary to open all doors and windows throughout the house. Gradually the odor died away. Dr. Kazakov stayed with Menzhinsky until his patient was feeling better. When the attack had passed, Dr. Kazakov went home.

He had scarcely entered his house when the telephone rang. It was a call from OGPU headquarters. Dr. Kazakov was informed that Henry Yagoda wished to see him at once. A car was already on its way to pick up Dr. Kazakov and bring him to Yagoda’s office….

“Well, how do you find Menzhinskv’s health?” was the first thing Yagoda said when he and Dr. Kazakov were alone in his office. The short, neat, dark Vice-Chairman of the OGPU was sitting behind his desk, coldly watching Dr. Kazakov’s expression.

Dr. Kazakov replied that with the sudden renewal of the asthmatic attacks, Menzhinskv’s condition was serious.

Yagoda was silent for a moment.

“Have you spoken to Levin?”

“Yes, I have,” replied Dr. Kazakov.

Yagoda abruptly rose from his seat and began pacing back and forth in front of his desk. Suddenly, he whirled on Dr. Kazakov, furiously exclaiming, “In that case, why are you fiddling about? Why don’t you act? Who asked you to butt into somebody else’s affairs?”

“What do you want of me?” asked Dr. Kazakov.

“Who asked you to give medical aid to Menzhinsky?” said Yagoda. “You’re fussing with him to no purpose. His life is of no use to anybody. He’s in everybody’s way. I order you to work out with Levin a method of treatment whereby it will be possible to bring about a quick end to Menzhinsky’s life!” After a pause, Yagoda added: “I warn you, Kazakov, if you make any attempt to disobey me I’ll find means of getting rid of you! You’ll never escape me….”

For Dr. Kazakov, the days that followed were full of terror, fear and nightmarish events. He went about his work in a daze. Should he or should he not report what he knew to the Soviet authorities? To whom could he speak? How could he be sure that he was not talking to one of Yagoda’s spies?

Dr. Levin, who saw him frequently during this period, told Kazakov of the existence of a vast undercover conspiracy against the Soviet Government. Famous, powerful state officials like Yagoda, Rykov and Pyatakov were in the conspiracy; brilliant writers and philosophers like Karl Radek and Bukharin had joined it; men in the army were secretly behind it. If he, Dr. Kazakov, performed some, valuable service for Yagoda now, Yagoda would remember it when he came to power. There was a secret war going on within the Soviet Union, and doctors, like other people, had to choose sides….

Dr. Kazakov succumbed. He told Levin that he would carry out Yagoda’s orders.

Here, in Dr. Kazakov’s own words, is the technique he and Dr. Levin used for the assassination of the Chairman of the OGPU, Vyacheslav Menzhinsky –

I met Levin and together with him worked out a method which consisted of the following. We took advantage of two main properties of albumen and albumenous products. First: the products of the hydrolytic decomposition of albumen possess the property of stimulating the effect of medicines. Second: lysatcs increase the sensitivity of the organism. These two properties were taken advantage of. Thirdly, advantage was taken of the peculiarities of Menzhinsky’s organism, of the combination of bronchial asthma and angina pectoris. It is a well-known fact that in a case of bronchial asthma the so-called parasympathetic section of the vegetative nervous system is excited. Therefore, in cases of bronchial asthma, substances are prescribed which excite the corresponding section, that is to say, the sympathetic the thyroid gland. Such a preparation is the extract of the suprarenal gland, a preparation of the medulla stratum. In case of angina pectoris it is just the sympathetic section which starts from the sub-jugular plexus of the sympathetic ganglion that is excited. That was the fine point which was taken advantage of….

Gradually, one set of preparations was introduced, while another was put aside…. It was necessary to introduce a number of heart stimulants – digitalis, adonis, atrophanthus – which stimulated the activity of the heart. These medicines were administered in the following order. First, lysates were administered; then there was an interval in the treatment with lystes: then heart stimulants were administered. As a result of this sort of treatment, a thorough weakening was brought about….

On the night of May 10, 1934, Menzhinsky died.

The man who took his place as chief of the OGPU was Henry Yagoda.

“I deny that in causing the death of Menzhinsky I was guided by motives of a personal nature,” Yagoda later stated. “I aspired to the post of head of the OGPU, not out elf personal consideration, but in the interests of our conspiratorial organization.”

3. Murder with a Guarantee

The murder list of the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites included the following top Soviet leaders: Stalin, Voroshilov, Kirov, Menzhinsky, Molotov, Kuibyshev, Kaganovich, Gorky and Zhdanov. These men were well guarded. The Soviet Government had long, bitter experience in dealing with terrorists, and few chances were taken. Yagoda knew this very well. When the Right terrorist organizer, Yenukidze, communicated to him the decision of the Trotskyite-Zinovicvitc Terrorist Center to commit a public assassination of Sergei Kirov, Pagoda at first objected. As l Yagoda put it: –

I expressed my apprehension that a direct terrorist act might expose not only myself, but the whole organization as well. I pointed out to Yenukidze that there was a less dangerous method and I reminded him Yenukidze, how Menzhinsky’s death was brought about with the help of physicians. Yenukidze replied that the assassination of Kirov must be carried out the way it was planned, that the Trotskyites and Zinovievites took it upon themselves to commit this murder, and that it was our business not to place any obstacles. As for the safe method of causing death with the help of physicians, Yenukidze said that in the near future the center would discuss the question as to who exactly of the leaders of the Party and Government should be the first to be done to death by this method.

One day, towards the end of August 1934, a young secret member of the Right Opposition was summoned to Yenukidze’s Kremlin office. His name was Venyamin A. Maximov. In 1928, as a student, Maximov had attended the special “Marxist School” which Bukharin then headed in Moscow. Bukharin had recruited him into the conspiracy. A clever, unscrupulous youth, Maximov had been carefully trained by the Right leaders and, after his graduation, placed in various secretarial posts. At the time he was summoned to Yenukidze’s office, Maximov was the personal secretary of Valerian V. Kuibyshev, Chairman of the Supreme Council of National Economy, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party, and an intimate friend and co-worker of Stalin.

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. This was to be done by “ruining the health of the leaders.” This method, said Yenukidze, was “the most convenient because of the fact that on the surface it would appear in the nature of an unfortunate issue to an illness and thereby make it possible for this terrorist activity of the Rights to be camouflaged.”

“Preparations for it have already begun,” Yenukidze added. He told Maxiniov that Yagoda was behind all this, and the conspirators had his protection. Maximov, as Kuibyshev’s secretary, was to be used in connection with the assassination of the Chairman of the National Supreme Economic Council. Kuibyshev suffered from a serious heart condition, and the conspirators planned to take advantage of it.

Maximov, startled at this assignment, showed some signs of hesitation.

A few days later, Maximov was again called to Yenukidze’s office. This time, while the assassination of Kuibyshev was discussed in more detail, a third man sat in a corner of the room. He did not utter a word during the entire conversation; but the implication of his presence was not lost on Maximov. The man was Henry Yagoda….

“what is demanded of you,” Yenukidze told Maximov, “is, first, to give them [Yagoda’s physicians] the opportunity of being unhindered so that they can be in frequent attendance on the patient, so that there should be no hitch in their so-called visits to the patient; and, secondly, in the event of acute illness, attacks of any kind, not to hurry in calling in the doctor, and if it is necessary, to call in only those doctors who are treating him.”

Toward the fall of 1934 Kuibyshev’s health suddenly took a sharp turn for the worse. He suffered intensely, and could do little work.

Dr. Levin later described the technique which, on Yagoda’s instructions, he employed to bring about Kuibyshev’s illness: –

The vulnerable spot in his organism was his heart, and it was this at which we struck. We knew that his heart had been in a poor condition over a considerable period of time. He suffered from an affection of the cardiac vessels, myocarditis, and he had slight attacks of angina pectoris. In such cases, it is necessary to spare the heart, to avoid potent heart stimulants, which would excessively stimulate the activity of the Heart and gradually lead to its further weakening…. In the case of Kuibyshev we administered stimulants for the heart without intervals, over a protracted period, up to the time he made his trip to Central Asia. Beginning with August, until September or October 1934, he was given injections without a break, of special endocrine gland extracts and other heart stimulants. This intensified and brought on more frequent attacks of angina pectoris.

At two o’clock on the afternoon of January 25, 1935, Kuibyshev suffered a severe heart attack in his office at the Council of People’s Commissars in Moscow. Maximov, who was with Kuibyshev at the time, had previously been told by Dr. Levin that in the event of such an attack the correct thing for Kuibyshev to do was to lie down and remain absolutely quiet. Maximov was told that his job was to see that Kuibyshev did exactly the opposite. He persuaded the desperately ill man to walk home.

Ghastly pale and moving with extreme difficulty, Kuibyshev left his office. Maximov promptly called Yenukidze and told him what had happened. The Right leader instructed Maximov to keep calm and not to call any doctors.

Kuibyshev painfully made his way home from the building of the Council of People’s Commissars to the house where lie lived. Slowly and with increasing agony, he climbed the stairs to his apartment on the third floor. His maid met him at the door, took one look at him and immediately telephoned his office that he was in urgent need of medical attention.

By the time the doctors arrived at the house, Valerian Kuibyshev was dead.

4. “Historical Necessity”

The most brutal of all the murders carried out under Yagoda’s supervision were those of Maxim Gorky and his son, Peshkov. Gorky was sixty-eight years old at the time of his murder. He was known and revered throughout the world not only as Russia’s greatest living writer but also as one of the world’s outstanding humanists. He suffered from tuberculosis and a bad heart condition. His son Peshkov had inherited an extreme susceptibility to respiratory infections. Both Gorky and his son were patients of Dr. Levin.

The murders of Gorky and his son, Peshkov, were carried out by Yagoda following a unanimous decision of the upper leaders of the Bloc of the Rights and Trotskyites. In 1934 Yagoda communicated this decision to Dr. Levin and ordered him to carry it out.

“Gorky is a man who is very close to the highest leadership,” Yagoda told Dr. Levin, “a man very much devoted to the policy which is being carried out in the country, very devoted personally to Stalin, a man who will never tread our road. Then again, you know what authority Gorky’s words have both in our country and far beyond its borders. You are aware of the influence he enjoys and how much harm he can cause our movement by his words. You must agree to undertake this and you will reap the fruits of it when the new government comes to power.”

When Dr. Levin showed some perturbation at these instructions, Yagoda went on: “There is no need for you to be so upset, you should understand that this is inevitable, that this is a historical moment, that it is a historical necessity, a stage of the revolution through which we must pass, and you will pass through it with us, you will be a witness of it, and you must help us with the means you have at your disposal.”(2)

Peshkov was murdered before his father.

Dr. Levin later said: – There were three systems in his organism which could very easily be taken advantage of: they were the exceptionally excitable cardiac-vascular system, his respiratory organs, inherited from his father, not in the sense of suffering from tuberculosis, but in the sense of weakness, and finally the vegetative nervous system. Even a small quantity of wine affected his organism, whereas, despite this, he drank wine in large quantities….

Dr. Levin worked methodically on the weaknesses in Peshkov’s “organism.”

In the middle of April 1934, Peshkov caught a serious chill. Croupous pneumonia set in.

When it seemed that Peshkov might recover, Yagoda was furious. “Damn it all,” he exclaimed, “they are able to kill healthy people by their treatment, and here they cannot do the trick on a sick man!”

But finally Dr. Levin’s efforts achieved the desired results. As he himself later reported: –

The patient was very much enfeebled; his heart was in an abominable condition; the nervous system, as we know, plays a tremendous role during infectious diseases. He was altogether overwrought, altogether weakened and the ailment took an exceptionally grave turn.

… The progress of the sickness was aggravated by the fact that the medicines capable of bringing great benefit to the heart were eliminated, while, on the contrary, those that weakened the heart were applied. And finally… on May 11 he died of pneumonia.

Maxim Gorky was murdered by similar methods. During 1935, Gorky’s frequent trips away from Moscow, which took him out of Dr. Levin’s hands, temporarily saved his life. Then, early in 1936, came the opportunity for which Dr. Levin was waiting. Gorky contracted a serious case of grippe in Moscow. Dr. Levin deliberately aggravated Gorky’s condition, and, as in Peshkov’s case, croupous pneumonia set in. Once again, Dr. Levin murdered his patient: –

As regards Alexei Maximovich Gorky, the line was as follows: to use such medicines, which were in general indicated, against which no doubt or suspicion could arise and which could be used to stimulate the activity of the heart. Among such medicines were camphor, caffeine, cardiosol, digalen. We have the right to apply these medicines for a group of cardiac diseases. But in his case they were administered in tremendous doses. Thus, for example, he received as many as forty injections of camphor… in twenty-four hours. This dose was too heavy for him…. Plus two injections of digalen…. Plus four injections of caffeine…. Plus two injections of strychnine.

On June 18, 1936, the great Soviet writer died.

1. On December 23, 1943, Dr. Henry E. Sigerist, Professor of the History of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University and outstanding American authority on medical history, wrote the authors of this book regarding Dr. Ignaty N. Kazakov: –

“I spent a whole day with Professor Ignaty N. Kazakov at his clinic in 1935. He was a big man with a wild mane who looked more like an artist than a scientist and who reminded you of an opera singer. Talking to him, he gave you the impression that he was either a genius or a crook. He claimed to have discovered a new method of treatment which he called lystotherapy satotherapy but refused to disclose how he was preparing the lystes with which he treated a great variety of patients. He motivated his refusal with the argument that the method might be discredited if it were used carelessly or uncritically by others before it had been fully tested. The Soviet health authorities took a most liberal attitude and gave him all possible clinical and laboratory facilities to test and develop his method.

“Professor Kazakov expected my visit and the day I came he had invited a large number of his former patients in order to demonstrate them to me…. It was a regular circus and made a very bad impression. I had seen miracle cures performed by quacks in other countries… A few years later it was evident that his method was no good and that hewas not only a crook but a criminal.”

2. Despite his age, Gorky was hated and feared by the Trotskyites. Sergei Bessonov, the Trotskyite courier, related that as early as July 1934, Leon Trotsky told him: “Gorky is very intimate with Stalin. He plays an exceptional role in winning sympathy for the USSR among the democratic opinion of the world and especially of Western Europe…. Our former supporters among the intelligentsia are leaving us very largely under the influence of Gorky. From this I draw the conclusion that Gorky must be put out of the way. Convey this instruction to Pyatakov in the most categorical form; corky must be physically exterminated at all costs.”

The fascist Russian emigre’s and terrorists, who were working with the Nazis, had also placed Gorky on the list of those Soviet leaders they planned to assassinate. The November 1, 1934, issue of Za Rossiyu, the organ of the fascist Russian National League of New Regeneration, published in Belgrade, Yugoslovia, declared: “Kirov in Leningrad must be removed. We must also do away with Kossior and Postyshev in the South of Russia. Brothers, fascists, if you can’t get to Stalin, kill Gorky, kill the poet Demiyan Bieni, kill Kaganovich..

Yagoda’s motive in murdering Gorky’s son, Peshkov, was not only political. Previous to the murder, Yagoda told one of the conspirators that Peshkov’s death would be a “heavy blow” to Gorkv and would turn him into a “harmless old man.” But at his trial in 1938, Yagoda asked permission of the court to refrain from publicly revealing his reasons for having Peshkov killed. Yagoda asked that he be allowed to give this testimony at one of the in camera sessions. The court granted his wish. Ambassador Davies, in his book Mission to Moscow, gives this possible explanation for Peshkov’s murder: “Beneath it runs the tale that Yagoda… was infatuated with young Gorky’s beautiful wife.. ,.”

CHAPTER XIX – Days of Decision

1. The War Comes West

BY 1935, plans for the joint German-Japanese attack on the Soviet Union were well advanced: The Japanese armies in Manchuria were staging repeated “probing” raids and sorties across the Soviet eastern border. The German High Command was carrying on secret negotiations with fascist Polish military circles for an anti-Soviet military alliance. The Nazi Fifth Columns were being readied in the Baltic and Balkan countries, in Austria and Czechoslovakia. Reactionary British and French diplomats were eagerly promoting Hitler’s promised Drang nach Osten. . . .

On February 3, following discussions between the French Premier Pierre Laval and the British Foreign Secretary Sir John Simon, the French and British Governments announced their joint agreement to release Nazi Germany from certain of the disarmament provisions of the Treaty of Versailles.

On February 17 the London Observer commented: –

Why is Tokio diplomacy so busy at this moment in Warsaw and in Berlin?… Moscow supplies the answer… The relations between Germany, Poland and Japan become closer every day. In an emergency they would amount to an anti-Soviet alliance.

In the expectation that the arms were to be used against Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany’s rearmament program was aided in every possible way by anti-Soviet statesmen in Great Britain and France…

On March 1, after a plebiscite preceded by an intensive Nazi terror and propaganda campaign among the residents of the district, the Saar with its vital coal mines was handed over from France to Nazi Germany.

On March 16 the Government of the Third Reich formally repudiated the Treaty of Versailles and communicated to the French, British, Polish and Italian Ambassadors in Berlin a Nazi decree proclaiming “universal military service” in Germany.

On April 13 Berlin announced its intention of creating an air fleet of heavy bombers.

On June 18, eleven days after Tory Stanley Baldwin became British Prime Minister, an Anglo-German naval accord was announced. Nazi Germany was given the right to construct a new navy and “to possess a submarine tonnage equal to the total submarine tonnage possessed by the Members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.” The agreement was reached following an exchange of letters between Nazi Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and the new British Foreign Secretary, Sir Samuel Hoare.

On November 3 L’Echo de Paris reported a conference which had taken place between the Nazi banker, Dr. Hjalmar Schacht, the Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Montagu Norman, and the Governor of the Banque de France, M. Tannery. According to the French journal, Dr. Schacht declared at the conference: –

We have no intention to change our Western frontiers. Sooner or later Germany and Poland will share the Ukraine, but for the moment we shall be satisfied with making our strength felt over the Baltic provinces.

On November 11, the New York Herald Tribune observed: –

Premier Laval, who is also Foreign Minister, is a strong partisan of an agreement between the French Third Republic and the Nazi Third Reich, and is reported to be willing to scrap the Franco-Soviet pact, which has been signed but not ratified by the French Parliament for an agreement whereby the Hitler regime would guarantee France’s eastern frontier in exchange for complete freedom of action in the Memel region and in the Ukraine.

In face of the growing war threat, the Soviet Government repeatedly called for united action by all countries menaced by fascist aggression. Again and again, before the League of Nations and in the capitals of Europe, Soviet Foreign Commissar Maxim Litvinov urged collective security and alliances between the non-aggressor nations. On May 2, 1935, the Soviet Government signed a Treaty of Mutual Assistance with the Government of France, and on May 16 a similar treaty with the Government of Czechoslovakia.

“War must appear to all as the threatening danger of tomorrow,” Litvinov told the League of Nations. “The organization of peace, for which thus far very little has been done, must be set against the extremely active organization of war.”

In October 1935, with the diplomatic blessing of Pierre Laval and Sir Samuel Hoare, the Italian Fascist armies of Mussolini invaded Ethiopia…

The Second World War, which had started when Japan attacked Manchuria in 1931, was coming West.(1)

On Soviet soil the secret fascist vanguard had already launched a major offensive against the war potential of the Red Army. In alliance with German and Japanese agents, the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites had begun their carefully planned, systematic campaign against Soviet industry, transport and agriculture. The objective was the undermining of the Soviet defense system in preparation for the coming war.

The campaign of total sabotage was being carried on under the expert supervision of Pyatakov, the Trotskyite Vice-Commissar of Heavy Industry.

“Terror is a drastic method,” Pyatakov told a secret meeting of Rights and Trotskyites in Moscow, “but it is far from enough. It is necessary to undermine the achievements gained by the Soviet power, to undermine the prestige of Stalin’s leadership, and to disorganize economic life… Activities must be developed in the most energetic fashion. We must act with the utmost determination. We must act energetically and persistently, and stop at nothing. All means are useful and fair-such is Trotsky’s directive, which the Trotskyite Center subscribes to!”

By the fall of 1935, the operation of the sabotage units in strategic localities throughout the Soviet Union had been galvanized into an all-out effort. In the new heavy industries in the Urals, in the coal mines of the Donbas and Kuzbas, on the railroads, in the power plants and on construction jobs, the Trotskyite saboteurs under Pyatakov’s direction were striking simultaneous and powerful blows at the most vital branches of Soviet production. Similar wrecking activities, supervised by Bukharin and other leaders of the Rights, were under way on the collective farms, in the co-operatives, and in government trade, finance and commerce agencies. German and Japanese Intelligence agents were directing many phases of the sabotage campaign.

These were some of the sabotage operations carried out by the German and Japanese agents, Rights and Trotskyites, as later described by the saboteurs themselves: –

Ivan Knyazev, Trotskyite and Japanese agent, executive on the Urals railroad system:

With regard to developing diversive and wrecking activities on the railways and the organization of the wrecking of trains I carried out instructions in full, since in this matter the instructions of the Japanese military intelligence service fully coincided with the instructions I had received somewhat earlier from the Trotskyite organization… ,

On October 27… a train wreck took place at Shumikha… a troop train… this was the work of our organization… The train, travelling at high speed, about 40 or 50 kilometers an hour, sped off down the eighth track, on which a freight train of ore was standing. Twenty-nine Red Army men [were killed), and twenty-nine were also injured… From thirteen to fifteen wrecks were organized directly by us…

The Japanese intelligence service strongly stressed the necessity of using bacteriological means in time of war with the object of contaminating troop trains, canteens and army sanitary centres with highly virulent bacilli…

Leonid Serebryakov, Trotskyite, Assistant Chief of the Railroads Administration: –

We set ourselves a very concrete and definite task: to disrupt freight traffic, to reduce daily loadings by increasing the runs of empty cars, by refraining from increasing the very low running norms for cars and engines, and by refraining from making full use of the traction power and capacity of engines, and so forth.

… on Pyatakov’s proposal Livshitz [a Trotskyite and Japanese agent] came to see me at the Central Road Motor Transport Administration. He was the Chief of the Southern Railway… He informed me that on the Southern Railway he had an assistant, Zorin, who could develop this activity… Livshitz and I discussed the matter and came to the conclusion that in addition to the actions of the organizations in the center and in the provinces, the effect of which would be to cause confusion and chaos on the railways, it was also necessary to insure the possibility of blocking the most important railway junctions in the first days of mobilization by creating on them such jams as would lead to the dislocation of the transport system and reduce the capacity of the railway junctions.

Alexei Shestov, Trotskyite and Nazi agent, member of the Board of Eastern and Siberian Coal Trust: –

In the Prokopyevek Mines the chamber-and-pillar system was employed without filling in the worked-out cavity. As a result of this system we had over 50 per cent loss of coal instead of the usual 15-20 per cent. Secondly, as a result of this, we had about sixty underground fires in the Prokopyevek Mines up to the end of 1935.

…deepening of the shafts was begun at the wrong time, in particular in the Molotov Pit; the hundred-metre level of the “Koksovaya” Pit was deliberately left unworked from 1933 onwards, and the deepening of the “Meneikha” Pit was not begun at the right time… in the installation of the equipment and in the installation of the underground power station and of other machinery, disruptive work was performed on a large scale…

Stanislav Rataichak, Trotskyite and Nazi agent, chief of the Central Administration o f the Chemical Industry: –

In accordance with my instructions… three breakdowns were arranged, one diversive act at the Gorlovka Works and two other breakdowns – one at the Nevsky Works and the other at the Voskressensk Combined Chemical Works…

Yakov Drobnis, Trotskyite, Assistant Chief at the Kemerovo Works: –

Since the end of July 1934, I was put in charge of all the wrecking and diversive activities in the whole of the Kuzbas… I lived in Central Asia throughout 1933 and left in May 1934 because the Trotskyite center decided to transfer me to Western Siberia. Since Pyatakov was in a position to transfer me from one job in industry to another, this problem could be solved very easily…

One of the wrecking tasks in the plan was to diffuse funds on measures of secondary importance. Another was to delay construction work in such a way as to prevent the launching of important departments on the dates fixed by the government…

The district power plant was put into such a state that, if it were deemed necessary for wrecking purposes, and when the order was given, the mine could be flooded. In addition, coal was supplied that was technically unsuitable for fuel, and this led to explosions. This was done quite deliberately… a number of workers were seriously injured.

Mikhail Chernov, member of the Rights, agent of German Military Intelligence, Commissar of Agriculture of the U.S.S.R.: – 

The German intelligence service made a special point of the organization of wrecking activities in the sphere of horsebreeding in order… , not to provide horses for the Red Army. As regards seed, we included in our program muddling-up seed affairs, mixing up assorted seed and thus lowering the harvest yield in the country…

As regards stock breeding, the aim was to kill off pedigree breed-stock and to strive for high cattle mortality to prevent the development of fodder resources and especially to infect cattle artificially with various kinds of bacteria…

In order to cause heavy cattle mortality, in Eastern. Siberia, I instructed Ginsburg, Chief of the Veterinary Department, who belonged to the organization of the Rights… not to supply anti-anthrax serum to Eastern Siberia… when there was an outbreak there of anthrax in 1936 it turned out that no serum was available, with the result that I cannot say how many exactly, but at any rate over 25,000 horses perished.

Vasily Sharangovich, member of the Rights, Polish secret agent, Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Byelorussia: –

I engaged in wrecking activities chiefly in the sphere of agriculture. In 1932 we, and I personally, developed extensive wrecking work in this sphere. Firstly, by slowing down the pace of collectivization…

Furthermore we arranged for the undermining of the grain collection plans… , we took measures to spread plague among pigs, which resulted in a high pig mortality; this was done by inoculating pigs against plague in a wrecking fashion.

… In 1936 we caused a wide outbreak of anemia among horses in Byelorussia. This was done intentionally, because in Byelorussia horses are extremely important for defense purposes. We endeavored to undermine this powerful base in case it should be needed in connection with war.

As far as I can remember, 30,000 horses perished owing to this measure…

2. A Letter from Trotsky

At the end of 1935, with war looming ever closer, a long awaited letter from Trotsky was delivered by special courier to Karl Radek in Moscow. It came from Norway.(2) With great anticipation Radek unfolded and began to read the letter. On eight pages of fine English paper, Trotsky outlined the details of the secret agreement he was at last about to conclude with the Governments of Germany and Japan.

After a preamble stressing the “victory of German fascism” and the imminence of “international war,” the letter reached its main topic: –

There are two possible variants of our coming into power. The first variant is the possibility of our coming into power before a war, and the second variant, during a war…

It must be admitted that the question of power will become a practical issue for the Bloc only as a result of the defeat of the U.S.S.R. in war. For this the Bloc must make energetic preparations…

From now on, wrote Trotsky, “the diversive acts of the Trotskyites in the war industries” would have to be carried out under the direct “supervision of the German and Japanese High Commands.” The Trotskyites must undertake no “practical activity” without first having obtained the consent of their German and Japanese allies.

To secure the full backing of Germany and Japan, without which “it would be absurd to think we can come to power,” the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites must be prepared to make considerable concessions. Trotsky named them: –

Germany needs raw materials, foodstuffs and markets. We shall have to permit her to take part in the exploitation of ore, manganese, gold, oil, apatites, and to undertake to supply her for a definite period with foodstuffs and fats at less than world prices.

We shall have to yield the oil of Sakhalin to Japan and to guarantee to supply her with oil in case of a war with America. We shall also have to permit her to exploit gold-fields.

We shall have to agree to Germany’s demand not to oppose her seizure of the Danube countries and the Balkans, and riot to hinder Japan in her seizure of China… We shall inevitably have to make territorial concessions. We shall have to yield the Maritime Province and Amur region to Japan, and the Ukraine to Germany.

Trotsky’s letter then outlined the kind of Russian regime which would be established after the overthrow of the Soviet Government: –

It must be understood that without to a certain extent bringing the social structure of the U.S.S.R. in line with that of the capitalist states, the government of the bloc will be unable to maintain itself in power…

The admission of German and Japanese capital for the exploitation of the U.S.S.R. will create important capitalist interests on Soviet territory. Those strata in the villages which have not outlived the capitalist psychology and are dissatisfied with the collective farms will gravitate towards them. The Germans and the Japanese will demand that we relieve the atmosphere in the rural districts; we shall therefore have to make concessions and allow the dissolution of the collective farms or withdraw from the collective farms.

Politically, as well as territorially and economically, there would have to be drastic changes in the new Russia: –

There can be no talk of any kind of democracy. The working class has lived through eighteen years of revolution, and it has vast appetites; and this working class will have to be sent back partly to privately owned factories and to state owned factories which will have to compete with foreign capital under most difficult conditions. That means that the living standards of the working class will be drastically lowered. In the countryside the struggle of the poor and middleclass peasants against the kulaks will be renewed. And then, in order to hold power, we shall need a strong government, irrespective of what forms are employed to veil it.

Trotsky’s letter concluded: –

We have to accept everything, but if we remain alive and in power, then owing to the victory of these two countries (Germany and Japan) and as a result of their plunder and profit a conflict will arise between them and others, and this will lead to our new development, our “Revanche.”

Radek read Trotsky’s letter with mixed feelings. “After I read these directives,” he later said, “I thought them over at night… it was clear to me that although the directives contained all the elements which had formerly been present, yet these elements had now so matured that… what Trotsky proposed was without any limits… We ceased to be in any degree master of our own actions.”

The following morning Radek showed Trotsky’s letter to Pyatakov. “It is necessary to meet with Trotsky by one way or another,” said Pyatakov. He himself was about to leave the Soviet Union on official business, and would be in Berlin for a few days. Radek should send off an urgent message informing Trotsky of Pyatakov’s trip and asking Trotsky to contact him in Berlin as soon as possible.

3. A Flight to Oslo

Pyatakov reached Berlin on December 10, 1935. Radek’s message to Trotslcy had preceded him, and a courier was waiting to contact Pyatakov as soon as he arrived in the Nazi capital. The courier was Dmitri Bukhartsev, a Trotskyite who was the Izvestia correspondent in Berlin. Bukhartsev told Pyatakov that a man named Stirner was bringing word from Trotsky. Stirner, the courier explained, was “Trotsky’s man” in Berlin.(3)

Pyatakov went with Bukharstev to one of the lanes in the Tiergarten. A man was waiting for them. It was “Stirner.” He handed Pvatakov a note from Trotsky. It read: “Y. L. [Pyatakov’s initials], the bearer of this note can be fully trusted.”

In a manner as terse as the note he delivered, Stirner stated that Trotsky was very anxious to see Pyatakov and had instructed him to make the necessary arrangements. Was Pyatakov prepared to travel by airplane to Oslo, Norway?

Pyatakov fully understood the risk of exposure involved in such a trip. However, he had made up his mind to see Trotsky at all costs. He said he was willing to make the flight. Stirner told Pyatakov to be at the Tempelhof Airport the following morning.

When Pyatakov asked about a passport, Stirner replied, “Don’t worry. I will arrange the matter. I have connections in Berlin.”

At the appointed hour, next morning, Pyatakov went to the Tempelhof Airport. Stirner was waiting at the entrance. He indicated that Pyatakov was to follow him. As they walked towards the airfield, Stirner showed Pyatakov the passport which had been prepared for him. It was issued by the Government of Nazi Germany.

At the airfield, a plane was waiting, ready to take off…

That afternoon the plane settled down over a landing field near the city of Oslo in Norway. An automobile was waiting for Pyatakov and Stirner. They were driven in the car for half an hour, until they reached a country suburb in the environs of Oslo. The car stopped in front of a small house.

Inside the house, Trotsky was waiting to receive his old friend.

The years of embittered exile had changed the man whom Pyatakov regarded as his leader. Trotsky looked older than his fifty-odd years. His hair and beard were gray. He stooped. Behind his pince-nez his eyes glittered with an almost maniacal intensity.

Few words were wasted on greetings. At Trotsky’s orders, he and Pyatakov were left alone in the house. The conversation which followed lasted two hours.

Pyatakov began by making a report on the state of affairs inside Russia. Trotsky continually interrupted him with sharp, sarcastic comments.

“You can’t break away from Stalin’s navel cord!” he exclaimed. “You take Stalin’s construction for socialist construction!”

Trotsky berated Pyatakov and his other Russian followers for talking too much and accomplishing too little. “Of course,” said Trotsky angrily, “you over there are spending too much time discussing international problems; you would do better to devote yourselves to those affairs of yours which are going so badly! As for international affairs, I know more about these things than you do!”

Trotsky repeated his conviction that the collapse of Stalin’s state was inevitable. Fascism would not tolerate much longer the development of Soviet power.

The Trotskyites in Russia were faced with this choice: either they would “perish in the ruins of the Stalin state,” or they must immediately galvanize all their energies in an all-out effort to overthrow the Stalin regime. There must be no hesitation about accepting the guidance and assistance of the German and Japanese High Commands in this crucial struggle.

A military clash between the Soviet Union and the Fascist Powers was inevitable, Trotsky added, not at some remote time in the future, but soon – very soon. “The date of the outbreak of the war has already been fixed,” said Trotsky. “It will be in 1937.”

It was clear to Pyatakov that Trotsky had not invented this information. Trotsky now revealed to Pyatakov that for some time past he had been “conducting rather lengthy negotiations with the Vice-Chairman of the German National Socialist Party , Hess.”

As a result of these negotiations with Adolf Hitler’s deputy, Trotsky had entered into an agreement, “an absolutely definite agreement,” with the Government of the Third Reich. The Nazis were ready to help the Trotskyites to come to power in the Soviet Union.

“It goes without saying,” Trotsky sky told Pyatakov, “that such a favorable attitude is not due to any, particular love for the Trotskyites. It simply proceeds from the real interests of the fascists and from what we have promised to do for them if we come to power.”

Concretely, the agreement which Trotsky had entered into with the Nazis consisted of five points. In return for Germany’s assistance in bringing the Trotskyites to power in Russia, Trotsky had agreed: –

(1) to guarantee a generally favourable attitude towards the German government and the necessary collaboration with it in the most important questions of international character;

(2) to agree to territorial concessions [the Ukraine];

(3) to permit German industrialists, in the form of concessions (or some other forms), to exploit enterprises in the U.S.S.R. essential as complements to German economy (iron ore, manganese, oil, gold, timber, etc.);

(4) to create in the U.S.S.R. favourable conditions for the activities of German private enterprise;

(5) in time of war to develop extensive diversive activities in enterprises of the war industry and at the front. These diversive activities to be carried on under Trotsky’s instructions, agreed upon with the German General Staff.

Pyatakov, as Trotsky’s chief lieutenant in Russia, was concerned that this out-and-out deal with Nazism might be difficult to explain to the rank-and-file members of the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites.

“Program questions must not be put before the rank-and-file members of the Bloc in all their scope,” Trotsky impatiently declared. “It would only scare them.”

The organization as a whole was to know nothing about the detailed agreement which had been reached with the Fascist Powers. “It is neither possible nor expedient to make it public,” said Trotsky, “or even to communicate it to any considerable number of Trotskyites. Only a very small, restricted group of people can be informed about it at this time.”

Trotsky kept stressing the urgency of the time factor.

“It is a matter of a comparatively short period,” he insisted. “If we miss this opportunity, the danger will arise, on the one hand, of the complete liquidation of Trotskyism in the country, and, on the other hand, of the existence of that monstrosity, the Stalin state, for decades, supported by certain economic achievements, and particularly by the new, young cadres who have grown up and have been brought up to take this state for granted, to regard it as a socialist, Soviet state – they don’t think of any other state and they cannot conceive of any! Our task is to oppose ourselves to that state.”

“Look,” concluded Trotsky as the time for Pyatakov’s departure drew near, “there was a time when we Socialist Democrats all regarded the development of capitalism as a progressive, as a positive phenomenon… But we had different tasks, namely, to organize the struggle against capitalism, to rear its grave-diggers. And so now we should go into the service of the Stalin state, not however to help build that state, but to become its grave-diggers, therein lies our task!”

At the end of two hours, Pyatakov left Trotsky in the small house on the outskirts of Oslo and returned to Berlin as he had come, by privately chartered plane, and carrying a Nazi passport.

4. Zero Hour

The Second World War, which Trotsky predicted would strike Soviet Russia in 1937, had already reached Europe. Following Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia, events had moved swiftly. In June 1936, Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland. In July, the Fascists struck in Spain with a Putsch of Spanish officers against the Republican Government. Under the pretext of “combating Bolshevism” and suppressing a “Communist revolution,” German and Italian troops landed in Spain to aid the officers’ revolt. The Spanish Fascist leader, Generalissimo Francisco Franco, marched on Madrid. “Four columns are marching on Madrid,” boasted the drunken Fascist General Quiepo de Llano. “A Fifth Column is waiting to greet us inside the city!” It was the first time the world heard the fateful phrase – “Fifth Column.”(4)

Adolf Hitler, addressing thousands of troops at the Nuremberg Nazi Party Congress on September 12, publicly proclaimed his intention of invading the Soviet Union.

“We are ready at any hour!” cried Hitler. “I cannot permit ruined states on my doorstep!… If I had the Ural Mountains with their incalculable store of treasures in raw materials, Siberia with its vast forests, and the Ukraine with its tremendous wheat fields, Germany and the National Socialist leadership would swim in plenty!”

On November 25, 1936, the Nazi Foreign Minister Ribbentrop and the Japanese Ambassador to Germany, M. Mushakoji, signed the Anti-Comintern Agreement in Berlin, pledging their combined forces to a joint attack against “World Bolshevism.”

Aware of the imminent war danger, the Soviet Government initiated a sudden counteroffensive against the enemy within its own borders. During the spring and summer of 1936, in a series of startling raids throughout the country, the Soviet authorities swooped down on Nazi spies, secret Trotskyite and Right organizers, terrorists and saboteurs. In Siberia a Nazi agent named Emil Stickling was arrested, and found to have been directing sabotage activities in the Kemerovo mines in collaboration with Alexei Shestov and other Trotskyites. In Leningrad, another Nazi agent, Valentine Olberg, was seized. Olberg was not only a Nazi agent, he was one of Trotsky’s special emissaries. He had contact with Fritz David, Nathan Lurye, Konon Berman-Yurin and other terrorists. One after another, the leaders of the first “layer” of the conspiracy were being tracked down.

A coded message which Ivan Smirnov had smuggled out of prison to his co-conspirators was intercepted by the Soviet authorities. The Trotskyite terrorists Ephraim Dreitzer and Sergei Mrachkovsky were arrested.

A mood of feverish anxiety gripped the Russian conspirators. Now everything depended on the attack from without. Yagoda’s efforts to hamstring the official investigation were becoming increasingly reckless. “It looks as if Yezhov is getting at the bottom of the Leningrad affair!” Yagoda furiously told his secretary, Bulanov.

One of Yagoda’s own men a NKVD agent named Borisov, was abruptly summoned to the special investigation headquarters at the Smolny Institute in Leningrad for questioning. Borisov had played a leading part in the prearrangements for the murder of Kirov. Yagoda acted in desperation. While driving to the Smolny Institute, Borisov was killed in an “automobile accident.”…

But the elimination of a single witness was not enough. The official investigation went on. Daily, new arrests were reported. Piece by piece the Soviet authorities were fitting together the intricate jigsaw of conspiracy, treason and murder. By August, almost all the leading members of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center were under arrest. The Soviet Government announced that sensational new evidence had been brought to light as the result of the special investigation into Kirov’s murder. Kamenev and Zinoviev were to stand trial again.

The trial began on August 19, 1936, in the October Hall of the House of Trade-Unions in Moscow, before the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R. Zinoviev and Kamenev, brought from prison where they were still serving their terms on previous convictions, faced the court along with fourteen of their former associates on charges of treason. The other accused included the one-time leaders of Trotsky’s Guard, Ivan Smirnov, Sergei Mrachkovsky and Ephraim Dreitzer; Zinoviev’s secretary, Grigori Evdokimov, and his aide, Ivan Bakayev; and five of Trotsky’s special terrorist emissaries, Fritz David, Nathan Lurye, Moissei Lurye, Konon Berman-Yurin and Valentine Olberg.

The trial – the first of the so-called “Moscow Trials” – exposed and smashed the Terrorist Center, the first layer of the conspiratorial apparatus. At the same time it established that the plot against the Soviet regime went much further and involved far more important forces than the Trotskyite-Zinovievite terrorists on trial.

As the trial proceeded, the public got its first glimpse of the intimate relationship that had developed between Leon Trotsky and the leaders of Nazi Germany. The examination by Soviet Prosecutor A. Y. Vyshinsky of Valentine Olberg, the German Trotskyite who had been sent into the Soviet Union by Trotsky himself, brought some startling facts to light: –

VYSHINSKY: What do you know about Friedmann?

OLBERG: Friedmann was a member of the Berlin Trotskyite organization who was also sent to the Soviet Union.

VYSHINSKY: Are you aware of the fact that Friedmann was connected with the German secret police?

OLBERG: I had heard about that.

VYSHINSKY: Connections between the German Trotskyites and the German police – was that systematic?

OLBERG: Yes, it was systematic and it was done with Trotsky’s consent.

VYSHINSKY: How do you know that it was done with Trotsky’s knowledge and consent?

OLBERG: One of the lines of connection was maintained by myself. My connection was established with the sanction of Trotsky.

VYSHINSKY: Your personal connection with whom? OLBERG. With the fascist secret police.

VYSHINSKY: So it can be said that you yourself admit connections with the Gestapo?

OLBERG: I do not deny this. In 1933 there began organized systematic connection between the German Trotskyites and the German fascist police.

Olberg described to the court how he had obtained the forged South American passport with which he had entered the Soviet Union. He had, he said, obtained it through “Tukalevskky,(5) an agent of the German secret police in Prague.” Olberg added that in getting this passport he had received some assistance from his brother, Paul Olberg.

“Did your brother have any connection with the Gestapo?” asked Vyshinsky.

“He was Tukalevsky’s agent.”

“An agent of the fascist police?”

“Yes,” said Olberg.

Trotsky’s emissary, Nathan Lurye, told the court how he had received instructions before leaving Germany that upon his arrival in the Soviet Union he should work with the German engineer-architect, Franz Weizz.

“Who is Franz Weitz?” asked Vyshinsky.

“Franz Weitz was a member of the National Socialist Party of Germany,” said Lurye. “He arrived in the U.S.S.R. on the instructions of Himmler who at that time was chief of the S.S. and subsequently became chief of the Gestapo.”

“Franz Weitz was his representative?”

“Franz Weitz arrived in the U.S.S.R. on the instructions of Himmler for the purpose of committing terroristic acts.”

But it was not until Kamenev testified, that the leaders of the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites realized their situation was desperate. Kamenev betrayed the existence of the other “layers” of the conspiratorial apparatus.

“Knowing that we might be discovered,” Kamenev told the court, “we designated a small group to continue our terroristic activities. For this purpose we designated Sokolnikov. It seemed to us that on the side of the Trotskyites this role could be successfully performed by Serebryakov and Radek… In 1932, 1933 and 1934 I personally maintained relations with Tomsky and Bukharin and sounded their political sentiments. They sympathized with us. When I asked Tomsky about Rykov’s frame of mind, he replied: `Rykov thinks the same as you do.’ In reply to my question as to what Bukharin thought, he said: `Bukharin thinks the same as I do but is pursuing somewhat different tactics: he does not agree with the line of the Party, but is pursuing tactics of persistently enrooting himself in the Party and winning the personal confidence of the leadership.’ ‘

Some of the accused pleaded for mercy. Others seemed resigned to their fate. “The political importance and the past of each of us were not the same,” said Ephraim Dreitzer, a former leader of Trotsky’s bodyguard. “But having become assassins, we have all become equals here. I, at any rate, am one of those who have no right to expect or to ask for mercy.”

In his last words, the terrorist Fritz David cried out: “I curse Trotsky! I curse that man who ruined my life and pushed me into heinous crime!”

On the evening of August 23 the Military Collegium of the Soviet Supreme Court handed down its verdict. Zinoviev, Kamenev, Smirnov, and the thirteen other members of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite-Terrorist Bloc were sentenced to be shot for their terrorist and treasonous activities.

A week later, Pyatakov, Radek, Sokolnikov and Serebryakov were arrested. On September 27, Henry Yagoda was removed from his post as Chairman of the NKVD. His place was taken by N. I. Yezhov, the head of the special investigatory committee of the Central Control Commission of the Bolshevik Party. The day before he was moved out of the NKVD offices, Yagoda made a last wild attempt to poison his successor, Yezhov. The attempt failed.

It was zero hour for the Russian conspirators. The Right leaders, Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky, were expecting their own arrests daily. They demanded immediate action without waiting for war. The panic-stricken Right trade-union chief, Tomsky, proposed an immediate armed attack on the Kremlin. It was dismissed as too risky. The forces were not ready for such an open venture.

At a final meeting of the chief leaders of the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites, just before Pyatakov and Radek went to prison, it was decided to prepare for an armed coup d’état. The organization of this coup, and direction of the entire conspiratorial apparatus, were placed in the hands of Nicolai Krestinsky, the Assistant Commissar of Foreign Affairs. Krestinsky had not exposed himself as the others had, was unlikely to be suspected, and had maintained close connections with Trotsky and the Germans. He would be able to carry on even if Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky were arrested.

As his deputy and second-in-command, Krestinsky selected Arkady Rosengoltz, who recently had returned to Moscow from Berlin where for many years he had headed the Soviet Foreign Trade Commission. A tall, fair, athletic-looking man, who had held important posts in the Soviet administration, Rosengoltz had kept his Trotskyite affiliations a careful secret. Only Trotsky and Krestinsky knew Rosengoltz’s role as a Trotskyite and as a paid agent of the German Military Intelligence since 1923…(6)

From this time on, direct control of the Bloc of the Rights and Trotskyites was in the hands of two Trotskyites who were both German agents: Krestinsky and Rosengoltz. After a lengthy discussion, they both decided that the time had come for the Russian Fifth Column to play its last card.

The last card was the military Putsch. The man who had been chosen to lead the armed rising was Marshal Tukhachevsky, Assistant Defense Commissar of the U.S.S.R.


(1) Trotsky instructed his followers inside Russia to make every effort to undermine the attempts of the Soviet Government to achieve collective security. Early in 1935 Christian Rakovsky, the Trotskyite and Japanese agent who had formerly been the Soviet Ambassador to London and Paris, received in Moscow a letter from Trotsky emphasizing the necessity “of internationally isolating the Soviet Union.” In dealing with foreign countries, wrote Trotsky, the Russian conspirators must take into account the various political elements. In the case of the “Left elements abroad,” it was necessary “to play on their pacifist sentiments.” With the “Right elements abroad,” the problem was simpler: “Their sentiments against the Soviet Union are quite clear and definite,” declared Trotsky. “With them we can speak frankly.”

In May 1935, a French delegation visited Moscow to discuss the FrancoSoviet Pact. Accompanying the mission was Emil Bure, the editor of the influential right-wing Paris newspaper L’Ordre, with whom Rakovsky had been friendly when he was Ambassador to France. Rakovsky went to see Bure at the Hotel Metropole in Moscow. He told Bure that the FrancoSoviet Pact was fraught with danger and might easily lead to a “preventive war on the part of Germany.” He added that this was not only his opinion but that of a large number of high-placed diplomats and other officials in the Soviet Union.

To Rakovsky’s chagrin, Bure told him that he was unshakably opposed to any attempt to appease Nazi Germany. “France,” Bure told Rakovsky, “cannot remain isolated in the face of the growing militarization of Germany. The aggressor must be put in a strait-jacket; that is the only means to crush war.”

But the Bures, unfortunately, were not entirely in control of French foreign policy. The head of the French mission in Moscow was Pierre Laval…

2. In June 1935 the Popular Front Government of France expelled Leon Trotsky from French soil. Trotsky went to Norway, where he set up his third headquarters-in-exile in a remote, guarded mansion on the outskirts of Oslo. The Workers’ Party of Norway, a secessionist group from the Comintern, was a powerful political factor in Norway at the time and facilitated Trotsky’s entry. Trotsky’s own followers in Norway were conducting an intensive anti-Soviet propaganda campaign. On the extreme right in Norwegian politics at this time, the anti-Communist Nasjonal Samling (National Unity Party), headed by the ex-War Minister, Major Vidkun Quisling, was carrying on similar, violent anti-Soviet agitation.

Major Vidkun Quisling had once served as the Norwegian Military Attache in Leningrad. In 1922-1923, he was sent on “diplomatic” assignments in the Ukraine and the Crimea. He married a White Russian woman. In 1927, when the British Government broke off relations with Soviet Russia, Major Quisling, then secretary of the Norwegian Legation in Moscow, was placed in charge of British interests in Russia. For his services at that time, Quisling was subsequently made an Honorary Commander of the British Empire.

In 1930 the Soviet Government refused to permit Quisling to re-enter Soviet Russia on the grounds that he had been carrying on subversive activities on Soviet soil.

After an end had been put to his “diplomatic” activities in the Soviet Union, Quisling began organizing a pseudo-radical group in Norway, which soon became openly fascist. Before long, Quisling himself was a secret agent of the German Military Intelligence, and the leader of Norway’s Fifth Column, which included as one of its important elements the Trotskyites.

It, Norway, as in every other country where Trotskyite cells were organized, many of the rank-and-file Trotskyites had no knowledge of the secret links between the Trotskyite leadership and the Axis Intelligence Services. To the end, Trotsky managed to attract numbers of “world-revolutionists” who believed in his integrity. These individuals were very useful to Trotsky both as anti-Soviet propagandists and organizers and as apologists for the Trotskyite cause.

3. “Stirner” was merely another pseudonym for Trotsky’s “secretary,” the international spy Karl Reich, alias Johanson.

4. At the time of the Axis-supported Franco uprising in Spain, 1936-1938, Andreas Nin headed an ultra-leftist, pro-Trotsky Spanish organization called the Partido Obrero de Unifacion Marxista, or P.O.U.M. Officially, the P.O.U.M. was not affiliated with Trotsky’s Fourth International. Its ranks, however, were permeated with Trotskyites; and on major issues, such as its attitude toward the Soviet Union and the Popular Front, the P.O.U.M. strictly adhered to the policies of Leon Trotsky.

At the time of the Franco revolt, Trotsky’s friend Nin was Minister of Justice in Catalonia. While giving lip-service to the anti-fascist cause, Nin’s P.O.U.M. carried on endless propaganda and agitation against the Spanish Republican Government during the hostilities in Spain. At first it was believed that Nin’s oppositionist activities were of a purely “political” character, since P.O.U.M. members advanced “revolutionary” explanations for their opposition to the Spanish Government. But when the P.O.U.M. staged an abortive revolt in Barcelona behind the Loyalist lines in the crucial sunimer of 1937 and called for “resolute action to overthrow the Government,” it was discovered that Nin and the other P.O.U.M. leaders were actually fascist agents working with Franco and that they had been carrying on a systematic campaign of sabotage, espionage and terrorism against the Spanish Government.

On October 23, 1937, the Chief of the Barcelona Police, Lieutenant Colonel Burillo, made public the details of the P.O.U.M. conspiracy which had been uncovered in Catalonia. Secret documents seized by the Barcelona police established that P.O.U.M. members had been carrying on extensive espionage for the fascists; that they had interfered with the transport of supplies to the Spanish Republican Army; and that they had sabotaged military operations at the front. “The attempts against the lives of outstanding figures in the People’s Army were still under consideration,” Lieutenant Colonel Burillo went on to say in his report. “In addition, the organization was being continued for a planned attempt against the life of a Minister of the Republic…”

5. Not to be confused with General Tukhachevsky.

6. Rosengoltz had served as a Red Army commander during the war of intervention. After the war, he had been sent to Berlin as commercial agent at the Soviet Embassy. In 1923, Trotsky put him in touch with the German Military Intelligence. In return for money, which went to finance the illegal Trotskyite work, Rosengoltz supplied the Germans with secret data concerning the Soviet air force to which Trotsky, as War Commissar, then had access. Rosengoltz took no open part in the Trotskyite Opposition. In 1934, Bessonov brought him a message from Trotsky advising him that the time had come to act less cautiously and to begin “active wrecking work in the sphere of foreign trade.” Rosengoltz was Commissar of Foreign Trade at the Soviet Trade Commission in Berlin. For a short period, he was able to steer Soviet trade into channels beneficial to Nazi Germany and, later, to Japan. Early in 1936, Rosengoltz had been recalled to Moscow.

CHAPTER XX – The End of the Trail

1. Tukhachevsky

AGAIN, the phantom of the Corsican was haunting Russia. The new candidate for the role was the portly, moody Red Army Marshal, Mikhail Nicolayevich Tukhachevsky, the former Czarist officer and son of titled landowners, who had become one of the leaders of the Red Army.

As a young man, graduating from the exclusive Alexandrovsky Military Academy, Tukhachevsky predicted: “I’ll either be a general at thirty or commit suicide!” He fought as an officer in the Czar’s Army in the First World War. In 1915 he was taken prisoner by the Germans. A French officer, Lieutenant. Fervaque, who was a fellow prisoner with Tukhachevsky, later described the Russian officer as reckless and ambitious. His head was stuffed with Nietzschean philosophy. “I hate Vladimir the Saint who introduced Christianity in Russia, thus handing over Russia to Western civilization!” Tukhachevsky exclaimed. “We should have kept our crude paganism, our barbarism. But they will both come back; I am sure of it!” Speaking about revolution in Russia, Tukhachevsky said: “Many desire it. We are a slack people but deeply destructive. Should there be a revolution, only God knows where it will end. I think that a constitutional regime would mean the end of Russia. We need a despot!”

On the eve of the Bolshevik Revolution, Tukhachevsky escaped from German captivity and returned to Russia. He joined his fellow officers from the Czar’s Army who were organizing the White armies against the Bolsheviks. Then, abruptly, he changed sides. To one of his friends, the White Captain Dmitri Golum-Bek, Tukhachevsky confided his decision to desert the White cause. “I asked him what he was going to do,” Golum-Bek later recorded. “He said: `Frankly, I am going with the Bolsheviks. The White Army can’t do anything. We haven’t a leader.’ He paced around a few minutes and then he cried: `Don’t follow me if you don’t want to, but I think I am doing right. Russia is going to be different!”‘

In 1918, Tukhachevsky joined the Bolshevik Party. He soon found his place among the military adventurers who surrounded War Commissar Trotsky; but he was careful not to become too involved in Trotsky’s political intrigues. A trained and experienced army man, Tukhachevsky rose rapidly in the inexperienced Red Army ranks. He commanded the First and Fifth Armies on the Wrangel Front, participated in the successful offensive against Deniken and, together with Trotsky, led the unsuccessful counteroffensive against the invading Poles. In 1922, he became head of the Red Army Military Academy. He was one of the leading Russian officers to take part in the military negotiations with the German Weimar Republic which followed the Rapallo Treaty of that year.

In the years that followed, Tukhachevsky headed a small group of professional militarists and ex-Czarist officers in the Red Army General Staff who resented the leadership of the former Bolshevik guerillas, Marshal Budyenny and Marshal Voroshilov. Tukhachevsky’s group included the Red Army generals, Yakir, Kork, Uborevitch and Feldman, who had an almost slavish admiration for German militarism. Tukhachevsky’s closest associates were the Trotskyite officer, V. I. Putna, who was military attaché in Berlin, London and Tokyo, and General Jan B. Gamarnik, a personal friend of the Reichswehr Generals Seeckt and Hammerstein.

Together with Putna and Gamarnik, Tukhachevsky soon formed a small, influential pro-German clique within the Red Army General Staff. Tukhachevsky and his associates knew of Trotsky’s deal with the Reichswehr, but they considered it a “political” arrangement. It was to be balanced by a military alliance between Tukhachevsky’s Military Group and the German High Command. The coming to power of Hitler in no way altered the secret understanding between Tukhachevsky and the German military leaders. Hitler, like Trotsky, was a “politician.” The military men had their own ideas…

Ever since the organization of the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites, Trotsky had regarded Tukhachevsky as the trump card of the whole conspiracy, to be played only at the ultimate, strategic moment. Trotsky maintained his relations with Tukhachevsky chiefly through Krestinsky and the Trotskyite military attaché, Puma. Later, Bukharin appointed Tomsky as his personal liaison with the Military Group. Both Trotsky and Bukharin were fully aware of Tukhachevsky’s contempt for “politicians” and “ideologists,” and they feared his military ambitions. Discussing with Tomsky the possibility of calling the Military Group into action, Bukharin said: –

“This is to be a military coup. By the very logic of things, the Military Group of the conspirators will have extraordinary influence… hence a peculiar Bonapartist danger may arise. And Bonapartists – I am thinking particularly of Tukhachevsky -will start out by making short shrift of their allies and so- called inspirers in the Napoleonic style. Tukhachevsky is a potential little Napoleon-and you know how Napoleon dealt with the so-called ideologists!”

Bukharin asked Tomsky: –

“How does Tukhachevsky visualize the mechanism of the coup?”

“That’s the business of the military organization,” Tomsky replied. He added that the moment the Nazis attacked Soviet Russia, the Military Group planned to “open the front to the Germans” – that is, to surrender to the German High Command. This plan had been worked out in detail and agreed upon by Tukhachevsky, Putna, Gamarnik and the Germans.

“In that case,” said Bukharin thoughtfully, “we might be able to get rid of the Bonapartist danger that alarms me.”

Tomsky did not understand. Bukharin went on to explain: Tukhachevsky would try to set up a military dictatorship; he might even try to get popular support by making scapegoats of the political leaders of the conspiracy. But, once in power, the politicians could turn the tables on the Military Group. Bukharin told Tomsky: “It might be necessary to try those guilty of the `defeat’ at the front. This will enable us to win over the masses by playing on patriotic slogans…”

Early in 1936, Tukhachevsky went to London as Soviet military representative at the state funeral of King George V of England. Before he left, he received the coveted title of Marshal of the Soviet Union. He was already convinced that the hour was at hand when the Soviet regime would be overthrown, and a new Russia in military alliance with Germany and Japan would strike for the domination of the world.

En route to London, Tukhachevsky stopped over briefly in Warsaw and Berlin, where he held conversations with Polish “colonels” and German generals. His mood was so confident that he scarcely made any attempt in public to conceal his admiration of the German militarists.

In Paris, at a formal dinner at the Soviet Embassy after his return from London, Tukhachevsky astounded European diplomats by openly, attacking the Soviet Government’s attempts to arrive at collective security with the Western democracies. Tukhachevsky, who was sitting at a table with Nicholas Titutlescu, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Rumania, told the Rumanian diplomat: –

“Monsieur le Ministre, you are wrong in linking your career and the fate of your country to countries that are old and `finished’ such as Great Britain and France. It is to the new Germany that we should turn. For a certain time, at least, Germany will be the country that will take the lead of the European continent. I am sure that Hitler will help to save us all.”

Tukhachevsky’s remarks were recorded by the Rumanian diplomat and Chief of the Press Service at the Rumanian Embassy in Paris, E. Schachanan Esseze, who also attended the banquet at the Soviet Embassy. Another of the guests, the famous French political journalist, Genevieve Tabouis, subsequently related in her book, They Call Me Cassandra: –

I was to meet Tukhachevsky for the last time on the day after the funeral of King George V. At a dinner at the Soviet Embassy, the Russian general had been very conversational with Politis, Titilescu, Herriot, Boncour… He had just returned from a trip to Germany, and was heaping glowing praise upon the Nazis. Seated at my right, he said over and over again, as he discussed an air pact between the great powers and Hitler’s country: “They are already invincible, Madame Tabouis!”

Why did he speak so trustfully? Was it because his head had been turned by the hearty reception he had found among German diplomats, who found it easy to talk to this man of the old Russian school? At any rate I was not the only one that evening who was alarmed at his display of enthusiasm. One of the guests, an important diplomat grumbled into my ear as we walked away from the Embassy: “Well, I hope all the Russians don’t feel that way.”

The sensational disclosures at the trial of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Bloc in August 1936, and the subsequent arrests of Pyatakov and Radek, gravely alarmed Tukhachevsky. He got in touch with Krestinsky and told him the plans of the conspirators would have to be drastically changed. Originally, the Military Group was not to go into action until the Soviet Union was attacked from outside. But international developments – the Franco-Soviet Pact, the unexpected defense of Madrid – were continually cropping up to postpone outside action. The conspirators inside Russia, said Tukhachevsky, must expedite matters by staging the coup d’état ahead of schedule. The Germans would immediately come to the aid of their Russian allies.

Krestinsky said he would get off a message to Trotsky immediately, informing him of the necessity of speeding up action.

Krestinsky’s message to Trotsky, which he sent off in October, read: –

“We think that, quite a large number of Trotskyites have been arrested, but nevertheless the main forces of the Bloc are not as yet affected. Action can be taken; but for this purpose it is essential for the center that foreign action should be hastened.”

By “foreign action,” Krestinsky meant the Nazi attack on Soviet Russia…

Shortly after the message was sent, Tukhachevsky took Krestinsky aside at the Extraordinary Fight Congress of Soviets in November 1936. The arrests were continuing, “Tukhachevsky said excitedly, and there seemed no reason to believe that they would stop on the lower levels of the conspiratorial apparatus. The Trotskyite military liaison, Putna, had already been arrested. Stalin clearly suspected the existence of an extensive plot and was prepared to take drastic measures. He already had enough evidence to convict Pyatakov and the others. The arrest of Putna and the removal of Yagoda from the Chairmanship of the NKVD meant that the Soviet authorities were getting at the roots of the plot. There was no telling where the trail might lead. The entire undertaking hung in the balance.

Tukhachevsky was for immediate action. The Bloc must reach a decision in this matter without further delay, and prepare all forces to back up the military coup…

Krestinsky discussed the matter with Rosengoltz. The two Trotskyite German agents agreed that Tukhachevsky was right. Another message was dispatched to Trotsky. In it, besides telling Trotsky of Tukhachevsky’s determination to go ahead without waiting for war, Krestinsky raised some important questions of political strategy. He wrote: –

We will have to conceal the true purposes of the coup. We will have to make a statement to the population, to the army, and to foreign states… firstly, it would be the proper thing in our statements to the population not to mention that our coup was designed for the overthrow of the existing Socialist order… we [should] pose in the guise of Soviet rebels; we would overthrow a bad Soviet government and reestablish a good Soviet government… In any case, we should not be too outspoken on this question.

Trotsky’s reply reached Krestinsky toward the end of December. The exiled leader agreed completely with Krestinsky. As a matter of fact, following Pyatakov’s arrest, Trotsky had independently reached the conclusion that the Military Group should be called into action without further delay. While Krestinsky’s letter to him was still en route, he had written Rosengoltz advocating immediate military action…

“After this reply was received,” Krestinsky later stated, “we began to make more direct preparations for the coup. Tukhachevsky was given a free hand, he was given carte blanche to get on with the job directly.”

2. The Trial of the Trotskyite Parallel Center

The Soviet Government was also moving into action. The revelations at the Zinoviev-Kamenev Trial had established beyond doubt that the conspiracy in the country went far beyond mere secret “left” opposition. The real centers of the conspiracy were not in Russia at all; they were in Berlin and Tokyo. As the investigation continued, the true shape and character of the Axis Fifth Column was becoming clearer to the Soviet Government.

On January 23, 1937, Pyatakov, Radek, Sokolnikov, Shestov, Muralov and twelve of their fellow conspirators, including key agents of the German and Japanese Intelligence Services, went on trial for treason in Moscow before the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R.

For months the leading members of the Trotskyite Center had denied the charges brought against them. But the evidence against them was complete and overwhelming. One by one they admitted they had directed sabotage and terrorist activities, and maintained connections, on Trotsky’s instructions, with the German and Japanese Governments. But, at the preliminary interrogation as at the trial, they still did not divulge the whole picture. They said nothing about the existence of the Military Group; they did not mention Krestinsky or Rosengoltz; they remained silent about the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites, the final and most powerful “layer” of the conspiracy, which, even as they were being cross-examined, was feverishly preparing to seize power.

In prison, Sokolnikov, the former Assistant Commissar in charge of Eastern Affairs, had revealed the political aspects of the conspiracy; the deal with Hess, the dismemberment of the U.S.S.R., the plan to set up a fascist dictatorship after the overthrow of the Soviet regime. In court, Sokolnikov testified: –

We considered that fascism was the most organized form of capitalism, that it would triumph and seize Europe and stifle us. It was therefore better to come to terms with it..All this was explained by the following argument: better make certain sacrifices, even very severe ones, than lose everything… we reasoned as politicians… we figured we had to take certain chances.

Pyatakov admitted that he was the leader of the Trotskyite Center. Speaking in a quiet, deliberate voice, choosing his words carefully, the former member of the Supreme National Economic Council testified to the established facts of the sabotage and terrorist activities which he had been directing up to the moment of his arrest. Standing in the dock, his long, thin, pallid face absolutely impassive, he looked, according to the American Ambassador Joseph E. Davies, “like a professor delivering a lecture.”

Vyshinsky: tried to get Pyatakov to reveal how the Trotskyites and the German and Japanese agents made themselves known to each other. Pyatakov parried the questions: –

VYSHINSKY: What gave the German agent Rataichak reasons for disclosing himself to you?

PYATAKOV: Two persons had spoken to me

VYSHINSKY: Did he disclose himself to you, or did you disclose yourself to him?

PYATAKOV: Disclosures may he mutual. VYSHINSKY. Did you disclose yourself first?

PYATAKOV: Who first, he or I – the hen or the egg – I don’t know.

As John Gunther later reported in Inside Europe: –

The impression held widely abroad that the defendants all told the same story, that they were abject and grovelling, that they behaved like sheep in the executioner’s pen, isn’t quite correct. They argued stubbornly with the prosecutor; in the main they told only what they were forced to tell…

As the trial proceeded, and the testimony of one defendant after another remorselessly exposed Pyatakov as a cold-blooded and calculating political assassin and traitor, a note of doubt and depression began to creep into his hitherto calm and balanced voice. Some of the facts in the possession of the authorities came as an obvious shock to him. Pyatakov’s attitude changed. He pleaded that, even before his arrest, he had begun to question Trotsky’s leadership. He said he did not approve of the deal with Hess. “We had got into a blind alley,” Pyatakov told the court. “I was seeking a way out…” In his last plea to the court, Pyatakov exclaimed: –

Yes, I was a Trotskyite for many years! I worked hand in hand with the Trotskyites… Do not think, Citizen Judges… that during these years spent in the suffocating underworld of Trotskyism, I did not see what was happening in the country! Do not think that I did not understand what was being done in industry. I tell you frankly: at times, when emerging from the Trotskyite underworld and engaging in my other practical work, I sometimes felt a kind of relief, and of course, humanly speaking, this duality was not only a matter of outward behavior, but there was also a duality within me… In a few hours you will pass your sentence… Do not deprive me of one thing, Citizen Judges. Do not deprive me of the right to feel that in your eyes, too, I have found strength in myself, albeit too late, to break with my criminal past!

But, to the last, not a word of the existence of the remaining “layer” of the conspiracy passed Pyatakov’s lips…

Nicolai Muralov, the one-time Commander of the Moscow Military Garrison and leading member of the old Trotsky Guard, who since 1932 had directed the Trotskyite cells in the Urals along with Shestov and German “technicians,” pleaded for mercy from the court, asking that his “frank testimony” be taken into consideration. A towering man, bearded and gray-haired, Muralov stood as if at attention while testifying. He declared that, after his arrest, and following, a protracted inner struggle, he had decided to “lay everything on the table.” His words, according to Walter Duranty and other observers, had a ring of real honesty as he stated from the dock: –

I refused counsel and I refused to speak in my defense because I am used to defending myself with good weapons and attacking with good weapons. I have no good weapons with which to defend myself… It would be unworthy of me to accuse anyone of having drawn me into the Trotskyite organization… I do not dare blame anyone for this. I myself am to blame. This is my guilt. This is my misfortune… For over a decade I was a faithful soldier of Trotsky…

Karl Radek, peering through his thick glasses at the crowded courtroom, was in turn humble, ingratiating, impertinent and arrogant under the cross-examination of the Prosecutor Vyshinsky. Like Pyatakov, but more fully, he admitted his treasonable activities. Radek also claimed that, before his arrest, and as soon as he received Trotsky’s letter outlining the deal with the Nazi and Japanese Governments, he had made up his mind to repudiate Trotsky and to expose the conspiracy. For weeks, he debated what to do.

VYSHINSKY: What did you decide?

RADEK: The first step to take would be to go to the Central Committee of the Party, to make a statement, to name all the persons. This I did not do. It was not I that went to the G.P.U., but the G.P.U. that came for me.

VYSHINSKY: An eloquent reply!

RADEK: A sad reply.

In his final plea, Radek presented himself as a man torn with doubts, perpetually vacillating between loyalty to the Soviet regime and to the Left Opposition, of which he had been a member since the earliest revolutionary days. He was convinced, he said, that the Soviet regime could never withstand the hostile pressure from without. “I dissented on the main question,” he told the court, “on the question of continuing the fight for the Five Year Plan.” Trotsky “seized on my profound perturbations.” Step by step, according to his own account, Radek was drawn into the inner circles of the conspiracy. Then came the connections with the foreign Intelligence Services and, finally, Trotsky’s negotiations with Alfred Rosenberg and Rudolph Hess. Trotsky, said Radek, “confronted us with the accomplished fact of his agreement…”

Explaining how he had finally come to plead guilty and to admit all the facts he knew about the conspiracy, Radek said: –

When I found myself in the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs, the chief examining official… said to me: “You are not a baby. Here you have fifteen people testifying against you. You cannot get out of it, and as a sensible man you cannot think of doing so…”

For two and a half months I tormented the examining official. The question has been raised here whether we were tormented while under investigation. I must say that it was not I who was tormented, but I who tormented the examining officials and compelled them to perform a lot of useless work. For two and a half months I compelled the examining official, by interrogating me and by confronting me with the testimony of the other accused, to open up all the cards to me, so that I could see who had confessed, who had not confessed, and what each had confessed…

And one day the chief examining official came to me and said: “You are now the last. Why are you wasting time and temporizing? Why don’t you say what you have to say?” And I answered: “Yes, tomorrow I shall begin my testimony. “

The verdict was handed down on January 30, 1937. The accused were found guilty of treason – of being “an agency of the German and Japanese fascist forces for espionage, diversive and wrecking activities” and of plotting to assist “foreign aggressors to seize the territory of the U.S.S.R.”

The Military Collegium of the Soviet Supreme Court sentenced Pyatakov, Muralov, Shestov, and ten others to be shot. Radek, Sokolnikov and two minor agents were sentenced to long prison terms.

In his summing-up speech on January 28, 1937, the State Prosecutor Vyshinsky declared: –

By their espionage work, the people who under the direction of Trotsky and Pyatakov established connections with the German and Japanese Intelligence services, strove to achieve results which would have very gravely affected the interests, not only of our state, but also the interests of a number of states which, with us, desire peace, and which, with us, are fighting for peace… We are keenly interested that the government of every country which desires peace, and is fighting for peace, should take the most determined measures, to put a stop to every attempt at criminal, espionage, diversive, terrorist activities organized by the enemies of peace, by the enemies of democracy, by the dark fascist forces which are preparing for war, which are preparing to wreck the cause of peace, and consequently, the cause of the whole of advanced, the whole of progressive humanity.

Vyshinsky’s words received little publicity outside of Soviet Russia; but they were heard and remembered by certain diplomats and journalists.

The American Ambassador in Moscow, Joseph E. Davies, was profoundly impressed by the trial. He attended it daily and, assisted by an interpreter, carefully followed the proceedings. A former corporation lawyer, Ambassador Davies stated that the Soviet Prosecutor Vyshinsky, who was being currently described by anti-Soviet propagandists as a “brutal Inquisitor,” impressed him as being “much like Homer Cummings, calm, dispassionate, intellectual and able and wise. He conducted the treason trial in a manner that won my respect and admiration as a lawyer.”

On February 17, 1937, Ambassador Davies reported in a confidential dispatch to Secretary of State Cordell Hull that almost all the foreign diplomats in Moscow shared his opinion of the justice of the verdict. Ambassador Davies Wrote: –

I talked to many, if not all, of the members of the Diplomatic Corps here and, with possibly one exception, they are all of the opinion that the proceedings established clearly the existence of a political plot and conspiracy to overthrow the government.

But these facts were not made public. Powerful forces conspired to hide the truth about the Fifth Column in Soviet Russia. On March 11, 1937, Ambassador Davies recorded in his Moscow diary: –

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 upon 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 he knew it was not, it was probably just as well that the outside world should think so.(1)

3. Action in May

The conspiracy was still far from being smashed. Like Pyatakov, Radek also withheld important information from the Soviet authorities despite the seeming fullness of his testimony. But on the second day of the trial, Radek had made a dangerous slip. His glib tongue betrayed him. Parrying one of Vyshinsky’s searching questions, he mentioned the name of Tukhachevsky. “Vitaly Putna,” said Radek, “came to see me with some request from Tukhachevsky.” He went on rapidly and did not repeat Tukhachevsky’s name.

Next day, Vyshinsky read aloud Radek’s testimony of the previous session: “I want to know in what connection you mention Tukhachevsky’s name?” he asked Radek.

There was a brief pause. Then Radek’s answer came smoothly, without hesitation. Tukhachevsky, he explained, required “some material on government business” which Radek had at the Izvestia offices. The military commander had sent Putna to get it. That was all. “Of course,” Radek added, “Tukhachevsky had no idea of my role… I know Tukhachevsky’s attitude to the Party and the Government to be that of an absolutely devoted man!”

No more was said about Tukhachevsky at the trial. But the remaining conspirators were convinced that any further delay of the final coup would be suicidal.

Krestinsky, Rosengoltz, Tukhachevsky and Gamarnik held a series of hurried secret conferences. Tukhachevsky began assigning officers in the Military Group to special “commands,” each of which would have specific tasks to carry out at the moment of the attack.

By the end of March 1937, the preparations for the military coup were in their final stages. At a meeting with Krestinsky and Rosengoltz, in the latter’s Moscow apartment, Tukhachevsky announced that the Military Group would be ready for action within six weeks. The date for action could be set for the early part of May, at any rate before May 15. There were “a number of variants” for the actual means of seizing power under discussion among the Military Group, he said.

One of these plans, the one on which Tukhachevsky “counted most,” Rosengoltz later stated, was “for a group of military men, his adherents, gathering in his apartment on some pretext or other, making their way into the Kremlin, seizing the Kremlin telephone exchange, and killing the leaders of the Party and the Government.” Simultaneously, according to this plan, Gamarnik and his units would “seize the building of the People’s Commissariat of internal Affairs.”

Other “variants” were discussed; but this plan, Krestinsky and Rosengoltz agreed, seemed the boldest and therefore the most likely to succeed…

The meeting at Rosengoltz’s apartment concluded on an optimistic note. The plan of the coup, as outlined by Tukhachevsky, held high promise of success..In spite of the loss of Pyatakov and others, it seemed that the day for which the conspirators had long waited and prepared was at hand.

April passed swiftly with the hectic last-minute preparations for the coup.

Krestinsky began drawing up lengthy lists “of people in Moscow to be arrested and removed from their posts at the out-break of the coup, and lists of people who could be appointed to these vacancies.” Gunmen under Gamarnik’s command were assigned to kill Molotov and Voroshilov. Rosengoltz, in his capacity of Foreign Trade Commissar, talked of getting an appointment with Stalin on the eve of the coup and murdering the Soviet leader in his Kremlin headquarters…

It was the second week in May 1937.

Then, swiftly and devastatingly, the Soviet Government struck. On the eleventh of May, Marshal Tukhachevsky was demoted from his post as Assistant Commissar of War and assigned to a minor command in the Volga district. General Gamarnik was removed from his post as Assistant War Commissar. Generals Yakir and Uborevitch, associated in the plot with Tukhachevsky and Gamarnik, were also demoted. Two other Generals, Kork and Eideman, were arrested and charged with having secret relations with Nazi Germany.

“I began to get ready for my arrest,” Krestinsky later stated. “I talked matters over with Rosengoltz. Rosengoltz did not expect to come to grief, and undertook to maintain connections with Trotsky… A few days later I was arrested.”

An official communiqué disclosed that Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky, who had been under close surveillance and investigation, were now charged with treason. Bukharin and Rykov had been taken into custody. Tomsky, evading arrest, committed suicide. On May 31, General Gamarnik followed Tomsky’s example and shot himself. It was reported that Tukhachevsky and a number of other high-ranking army officers had been arrested by the NKVD. A short time later, Rosengoltz was arrested. The nationwide roundup of suspected fifth columnists was continuing.

At eleven o’clock on the morning of June 11, 1937, Marshal (?) Tukhachevsky and seven other Red Army generals faced a special Military Tribunal of the Soviet Supreme Court. Because of the confidential military character of the testimony to be heard, the trial was held behind closed doors. It was a military court-martial. The accused were charged with conspiring with enemy powers against the Soviet Union. Standing in the courtroom with Tukhachevsky -facing Marshals Voroshilov, Budyenny, Shoposhnikov and other leaders of the Red Army-were these seven generals: –

General V. I. Putna, former military attaché at London, Tokyo and Berlin
General I. E. Yakir, former Commander of the Leningrad Military Garrison
General I. P. Uborevitch, former Commander of the Red Army in Byelorussia
General R. P. Eideman, former head of the Osoaviakhim (voluntary military defense organization)
General A. I., Kork, former head of the Frunze Military Academy

General B. M. Feldman, former Chief of the Personnel Section of the General Staff
General V. M. Primakov, former Commander of the Kharkov Military Garrison

An official communiqué stated: –

Investigation established the participation of the defendants as well as General Jan Gamarnik, in anti-State connections with leading military circles of one of the foreign countries which is carrying on an unfriendly policy toward the U.S.S.R.

The accused were in the service of the Military Intelligence of this country.

The defendants systematically supplied secret information about the position of the Red Army to military circles of this country.

They carried on wrecking activities for weakening the Red Army to prepare for the defeat of the Red Army in case of attack on the Soviet Union…

On June 12, the Military Tribunal announced its verdict. The accused were found guilty as charged and sentenced to be shot as traitors by a Red Army firing squad. Within twenty-four hours, the sentence was carried out.

Once again, wild anti-Soviet rumors and propaganda swept through the rest of the world. The entire Red Army was said to be seething with revolt against the Soviet Government; Voroshilov was “marching on Moscow” at the head of an anti-Stalin army; “mass shootings” were going on throughout Soviet Russia; from now on, the Red Army, having lost its “best generals,” was “no longer a serious factor in the international situation.”

Many honest observers were profoundly disturbed by the events in Soviet Russia, The character and techniques of the Fifth Column were still generally unknown. On July 4, 1937, Joseph E. Davies, the American Ambassador in Moscow, had an interview with the Soviet Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov. He told Litvinov frankly that the reaction in the United States and Europe to the execution of the generals and the Trotskyite trials was bad.

“In my opinion,” the American Ambassador informed the Soviet Foreign Minister, “it has shaken the confidence of France and England in the strength of the U.S.S.R. vis-a-vis Hitler.”

Litvinov was equally frank. He told Ambassador Davies that the Soviet Government had to “make sure” through these trials and executions that there was no treason left which would cooperate with Berlin or Tokyo at the outbreak of the inevitable war.

“Some day,” said Litvinov, “the world will understand what we have done to protect our government from menacing treason… We are doing the whole world a service in protecting ourselves against the menace of Hitler and Nazi world domination, and thereby preserving the Soviet Union strong as a bulwark against the Nazi threat.”

On July 28, 1937, having conducted personal investigations into the actual situation inside Soviet Russia, Ambassador Davies sent “Dispatch Number 457, Strictly Confidential,” to Secretary of State Cordell Hull. The Ambassador reviewed the recent events and dismissed the wild rumors of mass discontent and imminent collapse of the Soviet Government. “There were no indications (as per newspaper stories) of Cossacks camped near the Kremlin or moving about in the Red Square,” he wrote. Ambassador Davies summed up his analysis of the Tukhachevsky case as follows: –

Barring assassination, or a foreign war, the position of this government and the present regime looks impregnable for the present, and probably for some time to come. The danger of the Corsican for the present has been wiped.out.

4. Finale

The last of the three famous Moscow Trials opened on March 2, 1938, in the House of Trade Unions, before the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R. The proceedings, including morning, afternoon and evening sessions, and in camera sessions at which testimony involving military secrets was heard, lasted seven days.

The accused numbered twenty-one. They included the former OGPU chief, Henry Pagoda, and his secretary, Pavel Bulanov; the Right leaders, Nicolai Bukharin and Alexei Rykov; the Trotskyite leaders and German agents, Nicolai Krestinsky and Arkady Rosengoltz; the Trotskyite and Japanese agent, Christian Rakovsky; the Right leaders and German agents, Mikhail Chernov and Grigori Grinko; the Polish agent, Vasily Sharangovich; and eleven other conspirators, members of the Bloc, saboteurs, terrorists and foreign agents, including the Trotskyite liaison man, Sergei Bessonov, and the physician murderers, Doctors Levin, Pletnev and Kazakov.

The American correspondent, Walter Duranty, who attended the trial, wrote in his book The Kremlin and the People:-

It was indeed the “Trial to end all Trials” because at this time the issues were clear, the Prosecution had marshaled its facts and learned to recognize enemies, at home and abroad. Earlier doubts and hesitations were now dispelled, because one case after another, especially, I believe, the case of the “Generals,” had gradually filled in the picture which was so hazy and incomplete at the time of Kirov’s murder…

The Soviet Government had painstakingly prepared its case. Months of preliminary investigation, collation of evidence and testimony from previous trials, confrontation of witnesses and accused, and thorough cross-examination of the arrested conspirators, had gone into the framing of the Indictment. The Soviet Government charged: –

(1) that in 1932-33, on the instructions of intelligence services of foreign states hostile to the U.S.S.R., a conspiratorial group named the “bloc of Rights and Trotskyites” was formed by the accused in the present case with the object of espionage on behalf of foreign states, wrecking, diversionist and terrorist activities, undermining the military power of the U.S.S.R., provoking a military attack by these states on the U.S.S.R., working for the defeat of the U.S.S.R., dismembering the U.S.S.R…

(2) that the “bloc of Rights and Trotskyites” entered into relations with certain foreign states with the purpose of receiving armed assistance from them for the accomplishment of their criminal designs;

(3) that the “block of Rights and Trotskyites” systematically engaged in espionage activities on behalf of these states, supplying foreign intelligence services with highly important state secret information;

(4) that the “bloc of Rights and Trotskyites” systematically performed wrecking and diversionist acts in various branches of Socialist construction (industry, agriculture, railways, in the sphere of finance, municipal development, etc..);

(5) that the “bloc of Rights and Trotskyites organized a number of terrorist acts against leaders of the C.P.S.U. [Communist Party of the Soviet Union] and the Soviet Government and perpetrated terrorist acts against S. M. Kirov, V. R. Menzhinsky, V. V. Kuibyshev and A. M.Gorky.

The trial of the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites made public for the first time in history the detailed workings of an Axis Fifth Column. All the techniques of the Axis method of secret conquest – the propaganda, the espionage, the terror, the treason in high places, the machinations of Quislings, the tactics of a secret army striking from within -the whole story of the Fifth Column strategy by which the Nazis were already undermining Spain, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Norway, Belgium, France and other nations of Europe and America, were fully exposed. “The Bukharins and Rykovs, Yagodas and Bulanovs, Krestinskys and Rosengoltzes.. , declared the Soviet Prosecutor, Vyshinsky, in his summing-up address on March 11, 1938, “are the very same as the Fifth Column.”

Ambassador Joseph E. Davies, who attended the proceedings, found the trial “terrific” in legal, human and political drama. He wrote to his daughter on March 8: –

All the fundamental weaknesses and vices of human nature – personal ambitions at their worst – are shown up in the proceedings. They disclose the outlines of a plot which came very near to being successful in bringing about the overthrow of this government.

Some of the accused, pleading for their lives, tried to wriggle out of the full responsibility for their crimes, to shift the blame on others, to pose as sincere, misguided politicians. Others, without apparent emotion or expectation of escaping the death sentence, related the grim details of the “political” murders they had committed, and the espionage and sabotage operations they had carried on under the direction of the German and Japanese Military Intelligence Services.

In his final plea to the court, Bukharin, who had described himself in court as the “ideologist” of the conspiracy, gave a vivid psychological picture of the inner tensions and doubts which, after their arrest, had begun to afflict many of the one-time radicals who had turned traitors and, together with Trotsky, conspired with Nazi Germany and Japan against the Soviet Union. Bukharin said: —

I already said when giving my main testimony during the trial, that it was not the naked logic of the struggle that drove us, the counter-revolutionary conspirators, into this stinking underground life, which has been exposed at this trial in all its starkness. This naked logic of the struggle was accompanied by a degeneration of ideas, a degeneration of psychology, a degeneration of ourselves, a degeneration of people. There are well-known historical examples of such degeneration. One need only mention Briand, Mussolini and others. And we too degenerated…

I shall now speak of myself, of the reasons for my repentance. Of course it must be admitted that incriminating evidence plays a very important part. For three months I refused to say anything. Then I began to testify. Why? Because while in prison I made a revaluation of my entire past. For when you ask yourself: “If you must die, what are you dying for? – an absolutely black vacuity suddenly rises before you with startling vividness. There was nothing to die for, if one wanted to die unrepented… And when you ask yourself: “Very well, suppose you do not die; suppose by some miracle you remain alive, again what for? Isolated from everybody, an enemy of the people, in an inhuman position, completely isolated from everything that constitutes the essence of life…” And at once the same reply arises. And at such moments, Citizen Judges, everything personal, all the personal incrustation, all the rancour, pride, and a number of other things, fall away, disappear…

I am perhaps speaking for the last time in my life…I may infer a priori that Trotsky and my other allies in crime, as well as the Second International… will endeavor to defend us, and particularly myself. I reject this defence… I await the verdict.

The verdict was announced on the morning of March 13, 1938. All of the accused were found guilty. Three of them, Pletnev, Bessonov and Rakovsky, were sentenced to terms of imprisonment. The others were sentenced to be shot.

Three years later, in the summer of 1941, following the Nazi invasion of the U.S.S.R., Joseph E. Davies, former American Ambassador to the Soviet Union, wrote: –

There was no so-called “internal aggression” in Russia co operating with the German High Command. 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 casks 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.

The Axis Fifth Column in Soviet Russia had been smashed.


(1) Trotsky’s followers and admirers in Europe and America poured out an endless stream of statements, pamphlets, leaflets and articles describing the Moscow trials as “Stalin’s vengeance on Trotsky” and the product of “Stalin’s Oriental vindictiveness.” The Trotskyites and their allies had access to many prominent publications. In the United States, their statements and articles appeared in Foreign Affairs Quarterly, Reader’s Digest, Saturday Evening Post, American Mercury, New York Times and other well-known and widely read newspapers and periodicals. Among those friends, followers or admirers of Leon Trotsky whose interpretations of the trials were prominently featured in the American press and radio were: Max Eastman, Trotsky’s former American representative and official translator; Alexander Barmine, a Soviet renegade who at one time had been in the Soviet Foreign Office; Albert Goldman, Trotsky’s lawyer who was convicted by a Federal court in 1941 of taking part in a seditious conspiracy against the U.S. armed forces; “General” Krivitsky, a Russian adventurer and Dies witness who posed as a former key figure in the OGPU and subsequently committed suicide leaving a note explaining his act as atonement for his “great sins”; Isaac Don Levine, a veteran anti-Soviet propagandist and feature writer for the Hearst press; and William Henry Chamberlin, also a Hearst feature writer, whose views about the trials appeared under the title “The Russian Purge of Blood” in the Tokyo propaganda organ Contemporary Japan.

The prominent American Trotskyite James Burnham, subsequently author of the widely promoted The Managerial Revolution, represented the Moscow Trials as an insidious attempt on Stalin’s part to enlist the aid of France, Great Britain and the United States in a “holy war” against the Axis, and to bring about the international persecution of “all those who. stand for the policies of revolutionary defeatism [i.e., the Trotskyites].” On April 15, 1937, in an introduction to a Trotskyite pamphlet on the Pyarakov-Radek trial, Burnham wrote. “Yes: the Trials are an integral and an outstanding part of the preparations of Stalinism for the coming war. Stalinism aims to enlist the masses of France, Great Britain and the United States in the armies of their own imperialist governments, in a holy war against the attack which Stalin expects to be launched against the Soviet Union by Germany and Japan. Through the Trials, operating on a world-wide scale, Stalinism thus attempts to eliminate every possible center of resistance to this social-patriotic betrayal”

CHAPTER XXI – Murder in Mexico

THE chief defendant at all of the three Moscow Trials was a man five thousand miles away.

In December 1936, following the Zinoviev-Kamenev Trial and the arrests of Pyatakov, Radek and other leading members of the Trotskyite Center, Trotsky was forced to leave Norway. He crossed the Atlantic, and reached Mexico on January 13, 1937. Here, after a brief stay at the home of the wealthy Mexican artist, Diego Rivera, Trotsky set up a new headquarters in a villa in Coyoacan, a suburb of Mexico City. From Coyoacan, during the following months, Trotsky looked on helplessly while piece by piece the intricate and powerful Fifth Column in Russia fell apart under the hammer blows of the Soviet Government… .

On January 26, 1937, Trotsky gave a signed statement to the Hearst press in the United States on the trial of Pyatakov and Radek. “Inside the Party, Stalin has put himself above all criticism, and above the state,” said Trotsky, commenting on the testimony at the trial. “It is impossible to displace him except by assassination.”

An American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky, engineered by Trotsky’s followers in the United States, but nominally headed by anti-Soviet Socialists, journalists and educators, was established in New York City. The Committee originally included a number of prominent liberals. One of them, Mauritz Hallgren, author and associate editor of the Baltimore Sun, withdrew from the Committee as soon as its real purpose as an anti-Soviet propaganda agency became clear to him. On January 27, 1937, Hallgren made public a statement to the Committee which read in part: –

I am . . . convinced, as I must be under the circumstances, that the American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky has, perhaps unwittingly, become an instrument of the Trotskyites for political intervention against the Soviet Union. . . . You will, therefore, withdraw my name as a member of the committee.

The Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky undertook an intensive propaganda campaign picturing Trotsky as the martyred “hero of the Russian Revolution” and the Moscow Trials as “frame-ups by Stalin.” One of the Committee’s first acts was to set up a “Preliminary Commission of Inquiry” to “inquire into the charges made against Leon Trotsky in the Moscow trials of August, 1936, and January, 1937. The members of the Commission were the aging philosopher and educator, John Dewey; the author, Carleton Beals; the former Socialist member of the German Reichstag, Otto Ruehle; the former American radical and anti-Soviet journalist, Benjamin Stolberg; and the fervently pro-Trotsky journalist, Suzanne La Follette.

With much fanfare and publicity the Commission of Inquiry began holding hearings in Coyoacan, Mexico, on April 10. The only witnesses were Leon Trotsky and one of ‘ his secretaries, Jan Frankel, who had first become a member of Trotsky’s personal bodyguard in Prinkipo in 1930. Acting as legal counsel for Trotsky was his American attorney, Albert Goldman.(1)

The hearings lasted for seven days. Trotsky’s “testimony,” which was widely publicized in the American and European press, consisted chiefly of violent denunciations of Stalin and the Soviet Government, and of extravagant self-praise of his own role in the Russian Revolution. The detailed evidence presented against Trotsky at the Moscow Trials was, for the most part, completely ignored by the Commission of Inquiry. On April 17 Carleton Beals resigned from the Commission. Beals issued a public statement which read in part: –

… 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. I was taken to task for quizzing Trotsky about his archives…. 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.

Under the auspices of the American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky, a campaign was started to bring Trotsky into the United States. Books, articles and statements by Trotsky were widely circulated throughout the United States, while the truth about the Moscow Trials remained locked in the State Department files or in the minds of correspondents in Moscow who believed, as Walter Duranty later wrote, in the “extreme reluctance of American readers to hear anything but ill of Russia.”(2)

In Mexico, as in Turkey, France, Norway and everywhere else he had lived, Trotsky rapidly gathered around himself a coterie of disciples, adventurers and armed guards. Again, he lived in a fantastic atmosphere of intrigue.

The villa at Coyoacan where Trotsky made his Mexican head-quarters was a virtual fortress. A wall twenty feet high surrounded it. In towers at the four corners sentinels armed with tommy guns stood watch day and night. In addition to the Mexican police unit specially detailed to duty outside the villa, Trotsky’s armed bodyguards kept his headquarters under unceasing patrol. All visitors had to identify themselves, going through examinations as formidable as those at frontier posts. Their passes had to be signed and countersigned. After gaining admittance through the gates in the high wall, they were frisked for concealed weapons on entering the villa itself.

Inside, the atmosphere was one of tense activity. A considerable staff was at work taking instructions and carrying out assignments from the leader. Special secretaries were preparing anti-Soviet propaganda, Trotsky’s proclamations, articles, books and secret communications in Russian, German, French, Spanish and English. As at Prinkipo, Paris and Oslo, many of Trotsky’s “secretaries” had guns on their hips, and the same fantastic mood of intrigue and mystery surrounded the anti-Soviet conspirator.

Mail was heavy, pouring into the Mexican headquarters from all parts of the world. Not infrequently the mail required chemical treatment, the actual messages being written in invisible ink between innocuous visible lines. There was continuous telegraphic and cable correspondence with Europe, Asia and the United States. An endless stream of journalists, celebrities, politicians, mysterious incognito visitors, came to interview or confer with the “revolutionary” leader of the anti-Soviet movement. There were frequent delegations of foreign Trotskyites – French Trotskyites, American Trotskyites, Indian Trotskyites, Chinese Trotskyites, agents of the Spanish P.O.U.M.

Trotsky received his visitors with the air of a ruling despot. The American journalist Betty Kirk, who interviewed Trotsky in Mexico and had him photographed for Life magazine, described his histrionic and dictatorial manner: –

Trotsky looked at his watch and autocratically said he would give us exactly eight minutes. As he commanded his Russian secretary to sit for the picture of him dictating, he shrilled at her slowness. He commanded Bernard Wolfe, his North American secretary, to sit also, and while Wolfe was crossing the room, Trotsky stood beating on the edge of the table with his pencil, exclaiming, “Quick, don’t waste time!”

From the fortified Coyoacan villa, Trotsky directed his world-wide anti-Soviet organization, the Fourth International.

Throughout Europe, Asia, and North and South America, intimate ties existed between the Fourth International and the Axis Fifth Column network: –

In Czechoslovakia: Trotskyites were working in collaboration with the Nazi agent Konrad Henlein and his Sudeten Deutsche Partei (German Sudeten Party). Sergei Bessonov, the Trotskyite courier who had been a counselor at the Soviet Embassy in Berlin, testified when he was on trial in 1938 that in the summer of 1935 he had established connections in Prague with Konrad Henlein. Bessonov stated that he personally had acted as an intermediary between Henlein’s group and Leon Trotsky.

In France: Jacques Doriot, Nazi agent and founder of the fascist Popular Party, was a renegade Communist and Trotskyite. Doriot worked closely, as did other Nazi agents and French fascists, with the French section of the Trotskyite Fourth International.

In Spain: Trotskyites permeated the ranks of the P.O.U.M., the Fifth Column organization which was aiding Franco’s Fascist uprising. The head of the P.O.U.M. was Andreas Nin, Trotsky’s old friend and ally.

In China: Trotskyites were operating under the direct supervision of the Japanese Military Intelligence. Their work was highly regarded by leading Japanese Intelligence officers. The chief of the Japanese espionage service in Peiping stated in 1937: “We should support the group of Trotskyites and promote their success, so that their activities in various parts of China may benefit and advantage the empire, for these Chinese are destructive to the unity of the country. They work with remarkable finesse and skill.”

In Japan: Trotskyites were called the “brain trust of the secret service.” They instructed Japanese secret agents at special schools on the techniques of penetrating the Communist Party in Soviet Russia and of combating anti-fascist activities in China and Japan.

In Sweden: Nils Hyg, one of the leading Trotskyites, had received a financial subsidy from the pro-Nazi financier and swindler, Ivar Kreuger. The fact. of Kreuger’s subsidization of the Trotskyite movement were made public after Kreuger’s suicide, when the auditors found among his papers receipts from all sorts of political adventurers, including Adolf Hitler.

Throughout the world, the Trotskyites had become the instruments by which the Axis intelligence services sought to penetrate the liberal, radical and labor movements for their own ends.(3)

The final debacle of the Russian Fifth Column at the Moscow trail of the Bloc of the Rights and Trotskyites was a stunning blow to Trotsky. A note of desperation and hysteria began to dominate his writings. His propaganda against the Soviet Union grew increasingly reckless, contradictory and extravagant. He talked incessantly about his own “historical rightness.” His attacks against Josef Stalin lost all semblance of reason. He wrote articles asserting that the Soviet leader derived sadistic pleasure from “blowing smoke” in the faces of infants. More and more, his consuming personal hatred of Stalin became the dominating force in Trotsky’s life. He set his secretaries to work on a massive, vituperative 1000-page Life o f Stalin.(4)

In 1939, Trotsky was in contact with the Congressional Committee headed by Representative Martin Dies of Texas. The Committee, set up to investigate un-American activities, had become a forum for anti-Soviet propaganda. Trotsky was approached by agents of the Dies Committee and invited to testify as an “expert witness” on the menace of Moscow. Trotsky was quoted in the New York Times of December 8, 1939, as stating he considered it his political duty to testify for the Dies Committee. Plans were discussed for Trotsky’s coming to the United States. The project, however, fell through… .

In September 1939, a European Trotskyite agent, traveling under the name of Frank Jacson, arrived in the United States on the French liner Ile de France(5). Jacson had been recruited into the Trotskyite movement by an American Trotskyite, Sylvia Ageloff, while he was a student at the Sorborne in Paris. In 1939 he was contacted in Paris by a representative of the secret “Bureau of the Fourth International” and told he was to go to Mexico to serve as one of Trotsky’s “secretaries.” He was given a passport which had originally belonged to a Canadian citizen, Tony Babich, a member of the Spanish Republican Army, who had been killed by the Fascists in Spain. The Trotskyites had obtained Babich’s passport, removed his photograph and inserted Jacson’s in its place.

Jacson was met on his arrival in New York City by Sylvia Ageloff and other Trotskyites, and taken to Coyoacan, where he went to work for Trotsky. Subsequently Jacson informed the Mexican police: –

Trotsky was going to send me to Russia with the object of organizing a new state of things in the U.S.S.R. He told me I must go to Shanghai, on the China clipper, where I would meet other agents in some ships, and together we would cross Manchukuo and arrive in Russia. Our mission was to bring demoralization to the Red Army, commit different acts of sabotage in armament plants and other factories.

Jacson never went on his terroristic mission to the Soviet Union. Late in the afternoon of August 20, 1940, in the heavily fortified villa at Coyoacan, Jacson murdered his leader, Leon Trotsky, by smashing his head in with an Alpine pickax.

Arrested by the Mexican police, Jacson said he had wanted to marry Sylvia Ageloff, and that Trotsky had forbidden the marriage. A violent quarrel, involving the girl, broke out between the two men. “For her sake,” said Jacson, “I decided to sacrifice myself entirely.”

In further statements, Jacson declared: –

.. in place of finding myself face to face with a political chief who was directing the struggle for the liberation of the working class, I found myself before a man who desired nothing more than to satisfy his needs and desires of vengeance and of hate and who did not utilize the workers’ struggle for anything more than a means of hiding his own paltriness and despicable calculations.

… in connection with this house, which he said very well had been converted into a fortress, I asked myself very often, from where had come the money for such work. . . . Perhaps the consul of a great foreign nation who often visited him could answer this question for us… .

It was Trotsky who destroyed my nature, my future and all my affections. He converted me into a man without a name, without country, into an instrument of Trotsky. I was in a blind alley. . . . Trotsky crushed me in his hands as if I had been paper.

The death of Leon Trotsky left only one living candidate for the Napoleonic role in Russia: Adolf Hitler.


1. On December 1, 1941, Albert Goldman was convicted in a Federal Court in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on charges of having conspired to under mine the morale of the United States Army and Navy. (See footnote, page 317.)

2 Trotsky offered various “explanations” for the admissions made at the trials by his former intimate friends, chief lieutenants and allies. At first, he had explained the trial of Zinoviev and Kamenev by declaring that the accused had been promised their lives by the Soviet Government on condition they made false accusations against him. “That is the minimum that the G.P.U. could not renounce,” Trotsky had written, “it will give its victims a chance for their lives on condition it obtains this minimum.” After Zinoviev and Kamenev and their accomplices in the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center were shot, Trotsky declared they had been double-crossed. But this explanation became hopelessly inadequate when Pyatakov, Radek and the other accused at the second Moscow Trial also pleaded guilty and made even more damaging admissions. Now Trotsky asserted the testimony of the accused was the product of fiendish torture and mysterious, potent “drugs.” He wrote: “The G.P.U. trials have a thoroughly inquisitorial character: that is the simple secret of the confessions! … Perhaps in this world there are many heroes who are capable of bearing all kinds of tortures, physical or moral, which are inflicted on themselves, their wives, their children. I do not know….”

In one article Trotsky would describe the defendants at the trials as men of “noble character,” ardent and sincere “Old Bolsheviks” who had taken the path of opposition because of Stalin’s “betrayal of the revolution,” and who accordingly had been liquidated by Stalin. In another article, Trotsky would violently denounce Pyatakov, Radek, Bukharin and the others as “despicable characters,” men of “weak will,” and “puppets of Stalin.”

Finally, in answer to the question as to why, if they were not guilty, veteran revolutionaries should make such admissions and why not one of the accused had taken advantage of the open court to proclaim his innocence, Trotsky declared at the Hearings in Mexico in 1937: “In the nature of the case, I am not obliged to answer these questions!”

3. Even after Trotsky’s death, the Fourth International continued to carry on its Fifth Column activities.

In Great Britain, in April 1944, Scotland Yard and police officials raided the Trotskyite headquarters in London, Glasgow, Wallsend and Nottingham, after discovering that Trotskyites were fomenting strikes throughout the country in an attempt to disrupt the British war effort.

In the United States, on December 1, 1941, eighteen leading American Trotskyites were found guilty in a Federal District Court in Minneapolis of conspiring to undermine the loyalty and discipline of American soldiers and sailors.

Convicted along with Trotsky’s lawyer, Albert Goldman, were James P. Cannon, national secretary of the Socialist Workers’ Party (the name under which the Trotsky movement operated in the United States); Felix Morrow, editor of the Trotskyite newspaper, the Militant; Jake Cooper, one of Trotsky’s former bodyguards in Mexico; and fourteen other leading members of the American Trotskyite movement. They received prison sentences ranging from a year and a day to sixteen months.

Grant Dunne, one of the chief Trotskyites in the American labor movement, who had been named in the Federal indictment, committed suicide three weeks before the trial began.

In March 1943, the Trotskyite organ, the Militant, was barred from the U.S. mails on the grounds that the publication was seeking “to embarrass and defeat the government in its effort to prosecute the war to a successful termination.” After an investigation of the Militant, the Department of Justice issued a statement which read in ‘part: “Since December 7, 1941, this publication has openly discouraged participation in the war by the masses of the people. . . . The lines of this publication also include derision of democracy . . and other material . . . appearing to be calculated to engender opposition to the war effort, as well as to interfere with the morale of the armed forces.”

The American foreign correspondent, Paul Ghali of the Chicago Daily News, reported from Switzerland on September 28, 1944, that Heinrich Himmler, chief of the Gestapo, was making use of the European Trotskyites as part of the planned Nazi underground for postwar sabotage and intrigue. Ghali reported that fascist youth organizations were being trained in Trotskyite “Marxism,” supplied with false papers and arms and left behind Allied lines with orders to infiltrate the Communist Parties in the liberated areas. In France, Ghali revealed, members of Joseph Darnand’s fascist Militia were being armed by the Nazis for terrorism and postwar Fifth Column activities. “This scum of the French population,” Ghali’s report added, “is being now trained for Bolshevik activity in the tradition of Trotsky’s International under the personal orders of Heinrich Himmler. Their work is to sabotage allied communication lines and assassinate De Gaullist French politicians. They are being instructed to tell their fellow-countrymen that the presentday Soviet represents only a bourgeois deformation of Lenin’s original principles and that it is high time to return to sound Bolshevik ideology. This formation of groups of red terrorists is Himmler’s most recent policy, aimed at creating a fourth international, amply contaminated by Nazi germs. It is aimed against both British and Americans and Russians, particularly the Russians.”

4. Trotsky’s friends in the United States made arrangements to have this book published by a New York publishing house with a reputation for conservatism and integrity. Although the book was set up in print, the New York publishers decided at the last minute not to distribute the book; and the few copies that had been sent out were withdrawn from circulation. Sections of the book had previously been published in article form by Trotsky. The last article to be published before his death appeared on August 1940, in Liberty magazine; the article was entitled, “Did Stalin Poison Lenin?”

5. Frank Jacson’s real name was Jacques Mornard van den Dresche. Among his other aliases were Leon Jacome and Leon Haikys.