Category Archives: Myth-Busting

Grover Furr: The “Official” Version of the Katyn Massacre Disproven? Discoveries at a German Mass Murder Site in Ukraine

katyn-GermanPoster-Affiche-allemagne-Katyn-293x400

Nazi propaganda poster blaming the NKVD for the Katyn Massacre.

Author’s Note: The officially accepted version of the Katyn Massacre can be read on its Wikipedia page – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katyn_massacre. This page is relentlessly anticommunist and anti-Stalinist. It makes no attempt to be objective or neutral, in that it has no serious discussion of the scholarly controversy about this question. It’s useful only as a short and accurate summary of the “official” version. I would like to acknowledge that I was guided to the new sources by an excellent article by Sergei Strygin on the Russian “Pravda o Katyni” (Truth About Katyn) Internet page. [1] I strongly recommend it to all those who read Russian.

In 2011 and 2012 a joint Polish-Ukrainian archeological team partially excavated a mass execution site at the town of Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy, Ukraine. Shell cases found in the burial pit prove that the executions there took place no earlier than 1941. In the burial pit were found the badges of two Polish policemen previously thought to have been murdered hundreds of miles away by the Soviets in April-May 1940. These discoveries cast serious doubt on the canonical, or “official,” version of the events known to history as the Katyn Massacre.

In April 1943 Nazi German authorities claimed that they had discovered thousands of bodies of Polish officers shot by Soviet officials in 1940. These bodies were said to have been discovered near the Katyn forest near Smolensk (in Western Russia), which is why the whole affair — including executions and alleged executions of Polish POWs elsewhere in the USSR – came to be called “the Katyn Massacre.”

The Nazi propaganda machine, headed by Josef Goebbels, organized a huge campaign around this alleged discovery. After the Soviet victory at Stalingrad in February 1943, it was obvious to everyone that, unless something happened to split the Allies, Germany would inevitably lose the war. The Nazis’ obvious aim was to drive a wedge between the western Allies and the USSR.

The Soviet government, headed by Joseph Stalin, vigorously denied the German charge. When the Polish government-in-exile, always ferociously anticommunist and anti-Russian, collaborated with the Nazi propaganda effort, the Soviet government broke diplomatic relations with it, eventually setting up a pro-Soviet Polish authority and Polish army. In September 1943 the Red Army drove the Germans from the area. In 1944 the Soviet Burdenko Commission carried out a study and issued a report that blamed the Germans for the mass shootings.

During the Cold War the Western capitalist countries supported the Nazi version which had become the version promoted by the anticommunist Polish government-in-exile. The Soviet Union and its allies continued to blame the Germans for the murders. In 1990 and 1991 Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and, after 1988, President of the USSR, stated that the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin had indeed shot the Poles. According to this “official” version the Polish prisoners had been confined in three camps: at Kozel’sk, Starobelsk, and Ostashkov and from there transferred to Smolensk, Kharkiv, and Kalinin (now Tver’), where they were shot and buried at Katyn, Piatykhatky, and Mednoe respectively. [2]

In 1990, 1991, and 1992 three aged former NKVD men were identified and interviewed. They discussed what they knew of executions of Poles in April and May of 1940. None of these executions had taken place at the Katyn Forest, site of the German exhumations. In 1992 the Russian government under Boris Yeltsin handed over to the Polish government documents supposedly signed by Stalin and other Politburo members which, if genuine, would put Soviet guilt beyond reasonable doubt. These documents are said to have been found in “Closed Packet No. 1,” where “closed” meant the highest level of classification — secrecy. I call these the “smoking gun documents,” since they are conventionally assumed to be “proof positive” of Soviet guilt. However, no evidence is ever univocal and definitive; all evidence, whether documentary or material, can be interpreted in multiple ways.

By 1992 the Soviet, and then the Russian, governments had officially declared the Stalin-era Soviet leadership guilty of shooting somewhere between 14,800 and 22,000 Polish prisoners to death in April and May 1940. This was agreeable to anticommunists and a bone in the throat for some pro-Soviet people. For a few years it did appear that the matter was basically settled. The evidence seemed clear: the Soviets had shot the Poles.

I too thought the matter was settled. I admit that I continued to harbor some lingering doubts, mainly because accepting Soviet guilt also meant asserting that the Nazi propaganda campaign and official report of 1943 was 100% honest. Goebbels and Hitler were famous for their concept of “the Big Lie” which states, in part, that one should never tell the truth. [3] But this was, at most, in the back of my mind in 1997 when I went to the Slavic Room of the New York Public Library, a place I had visited a great many times over the years, to make photocopies of the “smoking gun documents” as published in the leading Russian historical journal Voprosy Istorii in January 1993 [4] so I could put them on my new web page. I did not post them, because I soon discovered that somebody else had already done it and I could just link to those images, which were of higher quality than my own.

In 1995 Iurii Mukhin, at the time an unknown metallurgical engineer, published a short book titled “The Katyn Murder Mystery” (Katynskii Detektiv). In it he claimed to prove that the “smoking gun documents” were forgeries and the story of the Katyn Massacre a fabrication intended to facilitate the destruction of the Soviet Union. During the following years this position has attracted much support among what we might call Left Russian nationalists, people supportive of the USSR during the Stalin period for its achievements at industrialization and defeating the Nazis. Since that time Mukhin and others have published more books of research in which they continue their campaign to disprove the “official” version that asserts Soviet guilt.

Since the mid-1990s, therefore, the Katyn Massacre has once again been the subject of fierce partisan dispute. In anticommunist circles it is unacceptable to express any doubt as to the guilt of the Soviet Union and of Stalin and his chief assistants in particular. This is the case in Western academia as well, where debate on the subject or any questioning at all of Soviet guilt is simply “beyond the Pale,” not tolerated.

Meanwhile Russian defenders of the USSR and of Stalin continue their assault on the “official” account by marshaling evidence to show that the Nazis, not the Soviets, shot the Polish officers. Some of these researchers have concluded that the Soviets did shoot some Polish prisoners (officers and others), and then the Nazis invaded the USSR, captured the remaining Polish prisoners, and shot them. I myself think that some such scenario is the most likely one and I will briefly explain why at the end of this essay.

During the past several years there have been some dramatic developments in the investigation of the Katyn question. I have attempted to summarize them and the academic dispute generally on a special web page that I call “The Katyn Forest Whodunnit.” [5] I believe it is the only source in English where one can find this dispute outlined in what I intend to be an objective manner. [6]

In October 2010 a credible case was made that the “smoking gun” documents are forgeries. This had been the position of many Russian communists and Left Russian nationalists since the publication of Mukhin’s 1995 book. The materials adduced by Duma member Victor Iliukhin in October 2010 constitute the strongest evidence so far that these documents may well be forgeries. (For more information about these documents see my “Katyn Forest Whodunnit” page.)

Therefore, let’s set aside the “smoking gun documents” from “Closed Packet No. 1.” What other evidence is there that the Soviets shot the 14,800-22,000 Poles as alleged in the “official” version of the Katyn Massacre?

Basically, there are two types of further evidence:

1. Confession-interviews of three aged and long-retired NKVD men: Petr K. Soprunenko, Dmitri S. Tokarev, and Mitrofan V. Syromiatnikov. These confessions are very contradictory in ways that do not always reinforce the “official” version. None of these men was at the Katyn Forest, the place where 4000+ bodies of Polish POWs were unearthed by the Germans in 1943, and none of them has anything to say about this, the most famous of the execution/burial sites subsumed under the rubric “the Katyn Massacre.” Perhaps this is the reason that these confession-interviews are so hard to find. What’s more, though they were all conducted in Russian they are available only in Polish translation. The Russian originals have never been made public. So, we do not have the former NKVD men’s exact words.

All three men were threatened with criminal prosecution if they failed to “tell the truth” and were told that Soviet guilt had already been established. It is therefore possible that out of fear of prosecution they gave answers they felt their interrogators wanted. Many of the interrogators’ questions were “leading” questions. Of course this is common in criminal investigations. But it does appear that the confessions of these three old men were not entirely voluntary.

I have obtained the texts of these confession-interrogations in the published Polish-language versions, scanned them, and made them available on the Internet. [7] It is interesting that no one else has ever bothered to do this. I will not examine these very interesting and problematic confession-interrogations here, however.

The Transit Documents

2. The remaining category of evidence are the many “transit” or “shipment” documents concerning the emptying out of the three POW camps at Kozel’sk, Starobelsk, and Ostashkov in April 1940 and the transfer of the prisoners to the NKVD in other areas. These transit records are the subject of this article.

KatynMap

Figure 1. 1939 map showing places mentioned in the “official” Katyn narrative. Arrows from the POW camps (Ostashkov, Starobelsk, Kozelsk) to cities (Kalinin/Tver’, Kharkiv, Smolensk) show destinations on NKVD transit documents. Burial sites in the nearby countryside (Mednoe, Piatykhatky, Katyn) are also shown, as is VolodymyrVolyns’kiy (Włodzimierz), which is about 800 miles from Kalinin/Tver’ – Mednoe. [map drawn by Victor Wallis based on information supplied by the author]

These shipments of prisoners are routinely stated to be “death transports.” The bookKatyn: A Crime Without Punishment by Anna M. Cienciala, Natalia S. Lebedeva, and Wojciech Materski (Yale University Press 2007) is the definitive academic account in the English language of the “official” version. It refers to the shipments of prisoners this way (I have added the emphasis):

The final death transport left Kozielsk….

The last death transport left Ostashkov for Kalinin (Tver) on 19 May…

…lists of those to be sent out of the camps to be shot (doc. 62)…

…and reporting on the number sent to their death (doc. 65).

Cienciala, who did the writing in this volume, added all the language about execution. Likewise in her discussion of the documents, none of which mentions executions, shootings, killing, death, etc., at all, Cienciala continuously adds language to remind the readers that, in her interpretation, these prisoners were being transported to places where they would be executed. Here are a few examples (again, I have added the emphasis):

They were transferred to NKVD prisons… to be shot there. (154)

… the same as the order in the death transports. (156)

The first lists of victims to be dispatched to their death… (157)

The delivery of lists for dispatching prisoners to their deaths… (159)

Beria’s directive of 4 April 1940 indicates the goal of exterminating not only the officers and police… (160)

This is the first of many reports by the UNKVD head of Kalinin Oblast, Dmitry Tokarev, on the “implementation,” that is, the murder… (162)

Soprunenko’s instruction to Korolev of 6 April 1940 was, in fact, a death list,… (163)

The dispatch of the prisoners of war to their deaths…(175)

This 11 April 1940 report from Kozelsk shows that 1,643 officers were murdered in nine days. (175)

… the moods of the prisoners as they were being dispatched unwittingly to their deaths. (176-177)

Most prisoners sent to Yukhnov camp… were exempted from the death lists for various reasons… (183)

By 3 May, the UPV together with the 1st Special Department NKVD and with the personal help of Merkulov, had processed the cases of 14,908 prisoners and sent out dispatch lists – death sentences – for 13,682. (187)

…it is likely that they simply signed or stamped the “Kobulov Forms” (doc. 51) with the death warrant already filled in. (187)

This report gives the number of lists of names received in the camp and the number of prisoners sent out from Kozelsk camp to their deaths for each date between 3 April and 11 May…(190)

A report to Soprunenko shows the number of people destined for execution according to the lists received… (193)

One of the last executions of POWs from the Ostashkov camp took place on 22 May 1940. (200)

Ostashkov prisoners were still being executed that day… (200)

It is important to note that not a single one of the documents themselves refers in any way to executions. In fact Document 53 cited by Cienciala explicitly states that the prisoners were being sent to labor camps.

6) USSR Deputy People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs, Divisional Commander Com. Chernyshov, shall within ten days’ time remove from their NKVD places of imprisonment in the Ukrainian SSR and send to USSR NKVD correctional labor camps 8,000 convicted prisoners, including 3,000 from the Kiev, Kharkov, and Kherson prisons. (Doc. 53, page 155; emphasis added)

All of the documents referred to or reproduced in Part II of the Cienciala volume concern the transportation of prisoners from one camp to somewhere else. Not a single one of them refers to “executions,” “shooting,” “killing,” etc. All this language is added by Cienciala. In this she has followed the practice of the Polish and Russian scholars who promote the “official” version.

It is true, of course, that the absence of a reference to the killings does not in itself prove anything about the fates of the people who were transported. What is important in terms of the Katyn controversy, however, is the dates of the transports and their destinations.

Cienciala assumes that, except for a few shipments that she specifically mentions, all the prisoners who were moved in April and May 1940 out of the three camps in which the Polish prisoners were being kept were in fact being shipped to their executions. Those executions are assumed to have taken place in April and May 1940. The “official” version of the Katyn Massacre simply assumes that all these documents about clearing the Polish prisoners out of the camps in April 1940 in reality meant sending them away for execution. It is this assumption that has been challenged by a recent discovery.

Jósef Kuligowski

In May 2011 Polish news media reported that a numbered metal badge had been unearthed which had been identified by the Ukrainian archaeological team as that of a Polish policeman, Jósef Kuligowski, heretofore assumed to have been executed by the Soviet NKVD at Kalinin (now Tver’), Russia, and buried with other such victims at Mednoe, outside of the town. [8]

Czy osoby z Listy Katyńskiej mordowano również na Grodzisku we Włodzimierzu Wołyńskim?! Odnaleziona przez ukraińskich archeologów odznaka Policji Państwowej o numerze 1441 / II na to wskazuje. Jak nas poinformował pan Piotr Zawilski, dyrektor Archiwum Państwowego w Łodzi odznaka o tym numerze należała do posterunkowego Józefa Kuligowskiego z IV komisariatu w Łodzi. Informacja o przydziale i numerze służbowym pochodzi z maja 1939 roku. Nazwisko posterunkowego figuruje na jednej z list dyspozycyjnych dla obozu w Ostaszkowie. Dotychczas uważano, że został zamordowany w Kalininie i spoczywa w Miednoje. Jak wytłumaczyć fakt, że odznaka Józefa Kuligowskiego znaleziona we Włodzimierzu Wołyńskim? Czy zginął w Kalininie, czy we Włodzimierzu? [9]

My translation: [10]

Were persons from the Katyn List also murdered at Grodzisk in Włodzimierz Wołyński?! This is indicated by the National Police badge number 1441 / II found by Ukrainian archaeologists. As Mr Piotr Zawilski, director of the National Archive in Łodz has informed us, the badge with this number belonged to constable Jósef Kuligowski of the IV commissariat in Łodz. Information concerning the issuance and service number is from May 1939. The surname of the constable figures on one of the dispositional lists for the camp at Ostashkov. Up to now it was believed that he had been murdered in Kalinin and lies in Mednoe. How to explain the fact that Jósef Kuligowski’s badge has been found at Włodzimierz Wołyński? Was he killed at Kalinin or at Włodzimierz?

This account continues by identifying Kuligowski as one of the men previously believed killed as a part of the Katyn Massacres. The discovery occasioned considerable discussion in the Polish press about the relationship between the Katyn Massacre and this site near the Ukrainian town of Volodymyr-Volyns‘kiy (Polish Włodzimierz Wołyński; Russian: Vladimir-Volynskii). [11] At this time no one doubted that this was a site of Soviet NKVD killings. [12] The Ukrainian media also reported the excavations under the assumption that the Soviet NKVD was responsible for the killings, as in the following account in the Ukraine-wide online newspaper Tyzhden‘.ua of October 4 2011. [13]

Іхочаофіційноїверсіїщодотого, хтоцілюдийчомубулирозстріляні, щенемає, науковцісхиляютьсядодумки, щозамордовані – жертвиНКВС 1941 року. Польськіпіддані, військовійцивільні, заможнийклас. Процесвідчатьзнайденінамісцістратиартефакти.

Ось два жетони офіцерів польської поліції, і оскільки на них є номери, то ми вже знаємо, кому вони належали: Йозефу Куліговському та Людвігу Маловєйському. Обидва з Лодзя. За документами НКВС, одного з них розстріляно в Калініні (Твер), другого – в Осташкові біля Харкова.

And although there is as yet no official version of who these people were and why they were shot, scientists are inclined to think that the murdered people were victims of the NKVD in 1941. Polish citizens, military and civilians, the wealthy class. This is what the artifacts found at the execution site suggest.

Here are two badges of officers of the Polish police, and since there are numbers on them we already know to whom they belonged: to Josef Kuligovs’kiy and Liudvig Maloveis’kiy. Both were from Lodz. According to NKVD documents one of them was shot at Kalinin (Tver’), the other at Ostashkov near Kharkiv.

The official being interviewed, Oleksei Zlatohorskyy, director of the government enterprise ―Volhynian antiquities, goes on to theorize that the Soviets shot all these people, whole families included, when they could not evacuate them in time as the German armies advanced in 1941. He said that many of the artifacts found in the pit are Polish:

Більшість речей мають чітке польське або інше західноєвропейське ідентифікування: фотографія маршала Едварда Ридз-Смігли, жіночі гребінці, пляшечка з-під ліків із написом «Warszawa» на денці, консервна бляшанка з польським текстом, флакон від парфумів, срібні виделки, ложки… А ще відзначаємо дуже якісну стоматологію, яку могли собі дозволити тільки багаті люди. Гадаю, що то була еліта польської держави».

Most of the objects have purely Polish or other Western European identifying marks: a photograph of Marshall Edvard Rydz-Smigly, women‘s combs, a medicine bottle with the inscription ―Warszawa‖ on the bottom, a tin can with a Polish inscription, a perfume bottle, silver forks and spoons … And we note very expensive dental work, that only a few rich people could afford. I think this was the elite of the Polish state.

The Tyzhden.ua story quotes Andrzhei (Jędrzej) Kola, professor of archaeology at Nicolai Copernicus University in Torun (Poland). He expresses uncertainty as to who the killers were.

Для мене тут більше питань, ніж відповідей. Хто вбивці? Якщо це зробили гітлерівці, то чому так невпорядковано? Чому все це видається хаотичним, недбалим? Чому воно не збігається з культурою смерті, яку сповідували / 106 / німці? Чому не було знято золоті коронки й мости, не відібрані коштовності? По-німецьки це мало б зовсім інший вигляд: Ordnung, порядок. Розстрільний взвод, розстріл обличчя в обличчя… Тож усе свідчить про те, що вбивства чинили, найімовірніше, співробітники НКВС. Але остаточну крапку поставимо тільки тоді, коли буде досліджено весь периметр городища.

For me there are more questions here than answers. Who were the killers? If the Hitlerites did this, then why is the site so disorderly? Why does all this look chaotic, careless? Why does it not conform to the culture of death that the Germans professed? Why were the gold crowns and bridges not extracted, the valuables not taken? According to the German manner this would have a completely different appearance: Ordnung, order. A firing squad, shooting face to face… So everything suggests that the murders were most likely done by NKVD officials. But we will be able to draw a final conclusion only when the whole perimeter of the settlement has been investigated. [14]

In November 2012 the Polish members of a joint Polish-Ukrainian archaeological group issued a written report on the excavation of this mass murder site. In mass grave No. 1, 367 sets of human remains were exhumed and examined during 2011, and 232 bodies in 2012. The locations of many more mass graves were also determined. Concerning the finding of Kuligowski‘s badge this report reads as follows:

Była to odznaka Polskiej Policji Państwowej z numerem 1441, która należała do: Post. PP Józef KULIGOWSKI s. Szczepana i Józefy z Sadurskich, ur. 12 III l898 w m. Strych. WWP od 20 VI l919. 10 pap. Uczestnik wojny 1920, sczególnie odznaczył się w bitwie pod Mariampolem 24 V 1920. W policji od l921. Początkowo służbę pelnił w woj. tarnopolskim. Następnie od 1924 przez wiele lat w Łodzi – w 1939 w V Komis. W sierpniu 1939 zmobilizowany do l0 pal. Odzn. VM V kl. nr679.L. 026/l ( 15), 35[.]6.; za: red. Z. Gajowniczek, B. Gronek ,,Księga cmentarna Miednoje,‖ t. l, Warszawa 2005, s. 465. Odznaka została przekazana do miejscowego muzeum. [15]

It was a Polish National Police badge number 1441, which belonged to: Constable of the National Police Jósef Kuligowski son of Stephen and of Josepha née Sadurska, b. 12 March l898 in the village of Strych. In the Polish army on 20 June l919. 10 pap. Participant in the 1920 war, particularly distinguished himself at the Battle of Mariampol 24 May 1920. In the police from l921. Initially served in the Tarnopol region. Then from 1924 for many years in Lodz – in 1939 in the V Komis. In August 1939 mobilized to l0 pal. as Nr679.L class V VM. [NKVD transfer list] 026 / l ([position]15), 35 [.] 6, according to: ed Z. Gajowniczek, B. Gronek,, ―Mednoye Cemetery Book,‖ Vol. l, Warsaw 2005, p. 465. Badge has been transferred to the local museum.

Badges

Here is the entry for Kuligowski from Volume One of the ―Mednoe Cemetery Book‖: [16]

Page

Kuligowski was taken prisoner by the Red Army sometime after September 17, 1939, when Soviet troops entered Eastern Poland to prevent the German Army from establishing itself hundreds of miles further east at the USSR‘s pre-1939 border. He was held in the Ostashkov prisoner-of-war camp in Kalinin oblast‘ (province), now renamed Tver‘ oblast‘. In April 1940 along with other prisoners he was transferred from Ostashkov to the town of Kalinin (now Tver‘). After that there is no further information about him.

Kuligowski is counted as one of the victims of the ―Katyn Massacre. What purports to be a record of his transfer, with the word ―Mord‖ (Murder) added, is on one of the official Polish websites about Katyn. [17]

GraphKatyn

As stated in the Polish media account of May 25 2011, Kuligowski‘s name is on the transfer lists of Ostashkov prisoners reproduced in the official account by Jędrzej Tucholski published in 1991. [18] Kuligowski is also listed in other recent Polish lists of Katyn victims. [19] Naturally the original Russian record of prisoner transfer reprinted in Tucholski‘s Mord w Katyniu does not contain the word ―Mord‖ (=murder).

The Polish archaeologist in charge of the excavations and author of the report, Dr. Dominika Siemińska, has determined that the victims buried in the mass grave in which this badge was found were killed no earlier than 1941: [20]

Z pewno cią stwierdzono, że zbrodnia została dokonana nie wcze niej niż w 1941 roku. (p. 4)

It can be confirmed with certainty that the crime did not take place earlier than 1941.

They were able to determine the time period by dating the shell casings found in the graves. All but a very few were of German manufacture. Almost all of them are datable to 1941.

Some of the bodies were arranged in the ―sardine-packing (Sardinenpackung) formation [21] favored by Obergruppenführer [22] Friedrich Jeckeln, commander of one of the Einsatzgruppen, extermination teams whose task it was to carry out mass executions. A photograph of the bodies in grave no. 1 shows this arrangement of bodies. [23]

crimes

sardine

Also, a large percentage of the bodies in the mass graves are of children. The Soviets did not execute children. So the evidence is strong that this is a site of German, not Soviet, mass executions. This conclusion is confirmed by the recent research of other Ukrainian scholars concerning this very burial site. Relying on evidence from German war crimes trials, eyewitness testimony of Jewish survivors, and research by Polish historians on the large-scale massacres of Poles by Ukrainian Nationalists, Professor Ivan Katchanovski and Volodymyr Musychenko have established that the victims buried at this site were mainly Jews but also Poles and ―Soviet activists.‖ Katchanovski concludes that Ukrainian authorities have tried to push the blame onto the Soviet NKVD in order to conceal the guilt of the Ukrainian Nationalist forces who are celebrated as ―heroes‖ in today‘s Ukraine, including in Volodymyr-Volyns‘kiy itself. [24]

However, regardless of which party is guilty of the mass executions, the fact remains that Kuligowski was indeed transported from Ostashkov POW camp to Kalinin in April 1940 but was not shot until 1941 at the earliest. And this means that the transportation lists, which are assumed to be lists of victims being shipped off to be shot, were not that at all. Kuligowski was transported in April 1940 by the Soviets not in order to be shot but for some other reason. He remained alive, probably to be captured and executed by the Germans, most likely in the second half of 1941 but possibly somewhat later. Moreover, Volodymyr-Volyns‘kiy is 800 miles from Kalinin (Tver‘).

This is the major deduction from this discovery that is relevant to our understanding of the Katyn Massacre case: The fact that a Polish POW’s name is on one of the Soviet transportation lists can no longer be assumed to be evidence that he was on his way to execution, and therefore that he was executed by the Soviets.

Ludwik Małowiejski

There is evidence that more Polish POWs are buried in these same mass graves, and therefore were executed at the same time, by the Germans in 1941 or 1942. The epaulette of a Polish policeman‘s uniform and Polish military buttons were found in grave No. 2. [25]

In September 2011 Polish media reported that police badge number 1099/II belonging to Senior Police Constable (starszy posterunkowy) Ludwik Małowiejski had been found in the Volodymyr-Volyns‘kiy mass graves. [26] It had been assumed that, like Kuligowski, Małowiejski was a ―Katyn Massacre‖ victim whose body was buried in a mass grave at Mednoe near Kalinin, where – it has been assumed – other ―Katyn victims shot by the NKVD in 1940 are buried. Małowiejski‘s name is also on the recent Polish lists of Katyn victims. [27] Like Kuligowski he is memorialized in the ―Mednoe Cemetery Book‖ – in this case, Volume 2, page 541:

profileHis transfer record with the word ―Mord‖ (Murder) added, like Kuligowski‘s, is also on the same official Polish Katyn website: [28]

profile2

Like Kuligowski‘s, Małowiejski‘s name is also on the Russian lists of prisoners shipped out of the Ostashkov camp. [29]

In 2011 it was still assumed that the mass graves at Volodymyr-Volyns‘kiy were those of victims of the Soviet NKVD. Therefore this apparent discrepancy about the place of burial of one victim received little attention. Since then the Polish archaeological team has definitively dated the site as 1941 at the earliest and argues that it is an SS Einsatzgruppe mass murder site, meaning late 1941 or 1942. This in turn means that Kuligowski, Małowiejski, and perhaps others – perhaps many others – were killed by the Germans in 1941, not by the Soviets in 1940.

The article by Sergei Strygin cited in note 1 above contains photographs of the memorial tablets of both Kuligowski and Małowiejski at the special memorial cemetery at Mednoe. These, and the thousands of other memorial tablets at this site, reflect the assumption that the ―transit lists‖ were really ―execution lists‖ – an assumption that the discovery at Volodymyr-Volyns‘kiy proves to be false. It is clear today that neither man‘s body is buried at Mednoe. The question now is: Are any of the Polish POWs whose memorial tablets are there alongside those of Kuligowski and Małowiejski really buried there? At present there is no reason to think so.

Plaques

So where does this leave us? By “us” I mean those researchers who are fascinated by the uncertainty and the political contentiousness, the challenge of all the contradictory evidence and the mysteriousness, of what I have come to call “the Katyn Forest Whodunnit.” What does this mean for people who want to know the truth no matter what it may be, “no matter whose ox is gored”?

Briefly, here’s the status of this question at present, as I understand it:

* There is no evidence that the 14,000+ Polish POWs who were transferred out of Soviet POW camps in April and May 1940 were in reality being sent to be shot. This assumption has been one of the main supports of the “official” version of the Katyn Massacre. It must now be rejected. Since Kuligowski and Małowiejski were on those transportation lists and survived to be killed in 1941 by the Nazis, then others could have as well. There is no basis to think that only a few of the Polish prisoners were not shot by the Soviets in April-May 1940 and that, just by chance, two of this group have been identified. Rather it is likely that most of the Polish POWs were not killed by the Soviets but remained in Soviet captivity to be captured and shot by the Nazis sometime after the middle of 1941.

* The “smoking gun” documents from “Closed Packet No. 1” are linked to the assumption that all the POWs shipped out of the camps were being shipped to execution. The fact that they were not shipped to execution in April-May 1940 is an additional reason to suspect that these documents may indeed be forgeries, as some have long argued.

* The confession-interviews of the three NKVD witnesses, Soprunenko, Tokarev, and Syromiatnikov, strongly suggest that the NKVD did execute some Poles. Their testimony is inconsistent – as is to be expected from 50 year-old remembrances of men in their 80s. What’s more, they testified under threat of criminal prosecution and so may have elaborated their confessions in order to please their interrogators. But even researchers who contend that the Germans shot the Poles whose bodies were disinterred by the Germans at Katyn in April-June 1943 do not claim that the Soviets shot no Poles at all.

* In 2004 the Russian Prosecutor’s office announced that it had closed the criminal investigation on the grounds that there was no evidence that a crime had been committed. This announcement is contained in the following statement on the Prosecutor’s web page dated April 7, 2011:

21 сентября 2004 г. уголовное дело по обвинению должностных лиц НКВД СССР в совершении преступления, предусмотренного п. «б» ст. 193-17 УК РСФСР (1926 г.), т.е. превышения власти, выразившегося в принятии незаконных решений о применении в отношении 14 542 польских граждан расстрела, прекращено на основании п. 4 ч. 1 ст. 24 УПК РФ – за отсутствием события преступления.

http://genproc.gov.ru/ms/ms_news/news-71620

On September 21, 2004 the criminal case against officials of the NKVD in the commission of an offense under subsection “b” of Art. 193-17 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR (1926), ie abuse of power, manifesting itself as the taking of an illegal decision on the application of shooting to 14,542 Polish citizens, was closed on the basis of paragraph 1 of paragraph 4, part 1, Article 24 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation — for lack of a crime.

This appears to say that the investigation found that no crime had been committed. This is different from Cienciala’s interpretation, which is “that no one would be charged with the crime.” (259) The Prosecutor’s text plainly states that there was no crime in the first place. Nevertheless Russian officials, including President Putin and Prime Minister Medvedev, have continued to state that the Soviets are guilty of killing all the Poles.

The Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy discovery proves that the “transit lists” are not “execution lists.” Instead, they are merely what they seem to be — lists of Polish POWs being transferred somewhere else for some purpose. Some of the Polish POWs transferred may have been tried and shot by the Soviets. But others such as Jósef Kuligowski and Ludwik Małowiejski were not transferred to execution. They were transferred for some other purpose – most likely to a correctional labor camp as stated in Document 53, p. 155 in Cienciala et al. (quoted above).

The Burdenko Commission

The fact is: A Polish POW’s name on a “transit list” does not mean that he was executed by the Soviets in April-May 1940 or indeed at any time. This forces us to take a closer look at the Soviet Burdenko Commission Report of January 1944. The Burdenko Commission report contains the following information about materials it allegedly found on a body unearthed from grave No. 8 at Katyn:

4. На трупе № 46: Квитанция (№ неразборчив), выданная 16 дек. 1939 г. Старобельским лагерем о приеме от Арашкевича Владимира Рудольфовича золотых часов. На обороте квитанции имеется отметка от 25 марта 1941 г. о том, что часы проданы Ювелирторгу.

6. На трупе № 46: Квитанция от 6 апреля 1941 г., выданная лагерем № 1-ОН о приеме от Арашкевича денег в сумме 225 рублей.

7. На том же трупе № 46: Квитанция от 5 мая 1941 г., выданная лагерем № 1-ОН о приеме от Арашкевича денег в сумме 102 рубля.

4. On body No. 46: A receipt (number illegible) issued 16 Dec. 1939, by the Starobelsk camp testifying receipt of a gold watch from Vladimir Rudolfovich Araszkewicz. On the back of the receipt is a note dated 25 March 1941, stating that the watch was sold to the Jewelry trading trust.

6. On body No. 46: A receipt dated 6 April 1941, issued by camp No. 1-ON, showing receipt of 225 rubles from Araszkewicz.

7. On the same body. No. 46: A receipt dated 5 May 1941, issued by Camp No. l-ON, showing receipt of 102 rubles from Araszkewicz. [30]

Włodzimierz Araszkiewicz is on the Polish lists of victims of Katyn, and also on the earlier list of Adam Mosziński, Lista Katyńska (GRYF, London 1989). [31] His father’s name, Rudolf, is on his transfer record: [32]

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As often with these Polish lists there are contradictions. Mosziński, Lista Katyńska, has Araszkiewicz in the Starobelsk camp, while the „Indeks” record (above) puts him at the Ostashkov camp, while Tucholski has him at both Kozel’sk and Ostashkov! [33] Here is Araszkiewicz’s memorial from Volume 1 of the “Mednoe Cemetery Book,” page 11:

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According to the Burdenko Commission report Camp No. 1-ON, origin of the receipt found on body No. 46 and bearing Araszkiewicz’s name, was one of three labor camps named No. 1-ON, 2-ON, and 3-ON, where “ON” stands for “osobogo naznacheniia” (special purpose or assignment). These camps were near Smolensk. The “special purpose” was road construction.

The Special Commission established that, before the capture of Smolensk by the Germans, Polish war prisoners, officers and men, worked in the western district of the region, building and repairing roads. These war prisoners were quartered in three special camps named: Camp No. 1 O.N., Camp No. 2 O.N., and Camp No. 3 O.N. These camps were located 25 to 45 kilometers west of Smolensk.

The testimony of witnesses and documentary evidence establish that after the outbreak of hostilities, in view of the situation that arose, the camps could not be evacuated in time and all the Polish war prisoners, as well as some members of the guard and staffs of the camps, fell prisoner to the Germans. (Burdenko Comm. 229)

According to the “official” version this story must be false, part of a putative Soviet coverup. The Nazis had begun their Katyn propaganda campaign on April 15, 1943. [34] By January 1944 the Katyn issue had been public for nine months, plenty of time for the Soviets to manufacture a false version.

However, in their very first response of April 16, 1943 the Soviets had already claimed that Polish officers were involved in construction in the Smolensk area.

Немецко-фашистские сообщения по этому поводу не оставляют никакого сомнения в трагической судьбе бывших польских военнопленных, находившихся в 1941 году в районах западнее Смоленска на строительных работах и попавших вместе со многими советскими людьми, жителями Смоленской области, в руки немецко-фашистских палачей летом 1941 года после отхода советских войск из района Смоленска. [35]

The German-fascist communiqué on this matter leaves no doubt about the tragic fate of the former Polish POWs who in 1941 were engaged in construction works in the area to the west of Smolensk and who, together with many Soviet citizens, residents of Smolensk oblast’, fell into the hands of the German-fascist killers during the summer of 1941 after the withdrawal of Soviet forces from the Smolensk region.

This is essentially the same claim the Burdenko Commission made nine months later. But on April 16, 1943 no one knew exactly what the Germans would do or exactly what they would say. No one knew that Katyn would become a huge German propaganda campaign. The consistency between the Sovinformburo statement of April 16, 1943 and the Burdenko Commission report nine months later is therefore worthy of note, just as an inconsistency would have been. It might well be true.

The Burdenko Commission report also mentions finding similar documents on another body unearthed at Katyn: that of Edward Levandowski.

3. На трупе № 101: Квитанция № 10293 от 19 дек. — 1939 г., выданная Козельским лагерем о приеме от Левандовского Эдуарда Адамовича золотых часов. На обороте квитанции имеется запись от 14 марта 1941 г. о продаже этих часов Ювелирторгу.…

8. На трупе № 101: Квитанция от 18 мая 1941 г., выданная лагерем № 1-ОН о приеме от Левандовского Э. денег в сумме 175 рублей.

3. On body No. 101: A receipt No. 10293 dated 19 Dec. 1939, issued by the Kozelsk camp testifying receipt of a gold watch from Eduard Adamovich Lewandowski. On the back of the receipt is a note dated 14 March 1941, on the sale of this watch to the Jewelry trading trust.…

8. On body No. 101: A receipt dated 18 May 1941, issued by Camp No. 1-ON, showing receipt of 175 rubles from Lewandowski.

Edward Lewandowski, son of Adam, is also on Mosziński, Lista Katyńska [36] and in Tucholski (p. 317 col. 2; p. 891 No. 35). This time there are no contradictions – all these sources have him at Ostashkov, nowhere near the Smolensk area and Katyn. He is also stated to have been “murdered” at Kalinin, the destination of most of the transports from Ostashkov. Here is his memorial in the “Mednoe Cemetery Book” Volume One, p. 498:

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Meanwhile the Burdenko Commission claimed to have found his body at Katyn, along with documents dated December 1939 from Kozel’sk and May 1941 from the same Camp 1-ON, near Smolensk, as Araszkiewicz’s. [37]

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The Burdenko Commission report also mentions the following find:

9. На трупе № 53: Неотправленная почтовая открытка на польском языке в адрес: Варшава, Багателя 15 кв. 47 Ирене Кучинской. Датирована 20 июня 1941 г. Отправитель Станислав Кучинский.

9. On body No. 53: An unmailed postcard in the Polish language addressed Warsaw, Bagatelia 15, apartment 47, to Irene Kuczinska, and dated 20 June 1941. The sender is Stanislaw Kuczinski. (Burdenko Comm. pp. 246-247).

A Stanisław Kucziński is named in the Katyn victims list. The name is a common one. The record below is that of the only person by that name who is said in those lists to have been killed in the Katyn Massacres:

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This Stanisław Kucziński, son of Antoni, is also memorialized in the “Mednoe Cemetery Book” I, p. 459 [38]:

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Once again this victim is stated to have been transferred from the camp at Ostashkov to Kalinin and “murdered” there, though the Burdenko Commission stated that they found his body at Katyn. [39]

How can the Polish Katyn lists assert that Araszkiewicz, Lewandowski, and Kucziński were killed (“Mord”) at Kalinin and buried nearby at Mednoe when their bodies were unearthed by the Burdenko Commission at Katyn? Only by assuming that the Burdenko Commission was lying when it claimed to have found these corpses at Katyn with papers from March, May, and June 1941 on them. But then the Soviets would have had to go to Kalinin, unearth these bodies and bring them to Katyn. Or they could have chosen the names of three victims they knew were buried at Kalinin and claim they had discovered their bodies at Katyn.

But why go to all that trouble when they could have just planted false documents on the bodies of persons they knew to have been shot at Katyn? After all, if the Soviets had shot all these men they knew not only who was buried at Kalinin but also who was buried at Katyn. So why not use the bodies, or at least the identities, of three men who really were buried at Katyn? Why use the names of three men buried hundreds of miles away?

No objective historian would make such an assumption. One only has to assume that the Burdenko Commission was lying if one has already made the prior assumption that the transportation lists are really “death lists.” That is, the second assumption entails the first: it is “an assumption based upon an assumption.” If it were definitely the case that the “transfer lists” really were lists of Poles being shipped to execution, then we could confidently state that these assertions by the Burdenko Commission were fabrications – lies intended to blame on the Germans murders that the Soviets had in fact carried out. But the discoveries at Volodymyr-Volyn’skiy have proven that the “transfer lists” were notlists of persons being shipped to execution. Moreover, there is no evidence that the Soviets did any of this.

It is simpler to assume that the Burdenko Commission really did unearth the bodies of Araszkiewicz, Lewandowski, and Kucziński at Katyn. [40] That means that Araszkiewicz, Lewandowski, and Kucziński could have been shipped to a labor camp, a “camp of special purpose” as, according to the Burdenko Commission, they were called; captured by the Germans during the summer of 1941; shot either at the Katyn Forest site or, if shot at their camps – 25 to 45 Km from Smolensk – their corpses brought to Katyn as part of the Nazi propaganda campaign to split the Allies. A number of witnesses testified to the Burdenko Commission that they saw German trucks loaded with corpses being driven in the direction of Katyn. [41]

This is the only scenario that accounts for the facts as we now know them. Moreover, it is strengthened by a discovery the Germans themselves made. The 1943 German report on Katyn states that the following item was found in one of the mass graves:

eine ovale Blechmarke unter den Asservaten vor, die folgende Angaben enthält

T. K. UNKWD K. O.
9 4 2 4
Stadt Ostaschkow [42]

The text of the original badge would have been, in Russian, like this:

Т. К. УНКВД К. О.

9 4 2 4

г. Осташков

A probable English translation would be:

Prison Kitchen, NKVD Directorate, Kalinin Oblast’

[prisoner, or cell, or badge number] 9 4 2 4

town of Ostashkov [43]

None of the “transport lists” from the camp at Ostashkov were for transport to Katyn or anywhere near Smolensk. All these lists state that the Polish prisoners were sent to Kalinin. Therefore the person buried at Katyn who had this badge in his possession had been shipped to Kalinin. But, obviously, he was not shot there. The badge was unearthed at Katyn. Therefore, the owner of this badge was also shot at Katyn, or nearby.

There seems to be just one way these men, and doubtless many more, could have ended up shot and buried at Katyn. They must have been transferred from Kalinin to a labor camp near Katyn, where the Germans captured and shot them. This hypothesis fits the scenario as outlined by the Sovinformburo statement of April 16, 1943, and by the Burdenko Commission. It also offers independent confirmation of the main conclusion of this article: that the prisoners transferred out of the POW camps in April-May 1940 were not being shipped to execution.

What really did happen?

The discoveries in the mass graves at Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy constitute a lethal blow to the “official” version of the Katyn Massacre. This is something that should interest all of us. Katyn has been the most famous crime alleged against Stalin and the Soviet government. It has been the crime most firmly grounded in documentary evidence. For example, it is unlike the alleged “Holodomor,” the supposedly deliberate starvation by Stalin of millions of Ukrainians in the famine of 1932-1933, for which no evidence has ever been found. [44]

All the post-Soviet states today employ “Soviet atrocities” narratives to justify the pro-fascist, anti-semitic, and pro-Nazi actions of the forces that sided with the Germans against the Soviet Union before, during, and after World War 2. Katyn is the keystone of contemporary right-wing Polish nationalism. Katyn is also a key component of anti-Stalin, anti-Soviet, and anticommunist propaganda generally. Until now, it has been the best known such alleged atrocity and by far the best documented one. Katyn has been the best proven “crime of Stalinism.” That is no longer the case.

So what really did happen? In my view – and here I am following a number of the very competent Russian researchers who have likewise concluded that the “official” version is wrong – the Soviets did execute some Poles.

We know that after occupying Western Belorussia and Western Ukraine, formerly Eastern Poland, in September 1939 the Soviet NKVD searched for Poles who had been involved in the 1920-21 war in which Poland had taken these territories from the Russian Socialist Republic, which had been exhausted by four years of civil war and Allied intervention, typhus epidemic, and famine. [45] Imperialist Poland had deprived the majority populations – Belorussians, Ukrainians, and Jews – of many of their national and civil rights. [46] The Polish government had sent “settlers” (osadnicy), mainly former military officers, to “polonize” (“make more Polish”) the lands, giving them estates and making them government officials and teachers. Poland had violently repressed the communist movement and the Ukrainian, Belorussian, and Jewish minorities in these lands, as well as in Poland proper. Moreover: during the Russo-Polish war of 1920-21 somewhere between 18,000 and 60,000 Red Army POWs had died in Polish captivity. There is good documentation that they were treated brutally, starved, frozen, and many of them murdered outright. [47]

Therefore it is probable that the Soviets would have arrested and prosecuted any Polish POWs and civilians they could find who had been involved in these crimes. Many of these people were deported to places of exile deep within the USSR (where many of them survived World War 2, far away from their former homes where the fighting and Nazi and Ukrainian [48] mass murders were the most ferocious). Others must have been tried, convicted, and either executed or sent to labor camps.

It is likely that a substantial number of the Polish POWs – military officers, policemen, and guards of various kinds — had been involved either in repression of or atrocities against Soviet troops, communists, trade unionists, or workers, peasants, or Belorussian, Ukrainian, and Jewish schools or institutions. The Soviet Union would have prosecuted them. It is also likely that some Polish POWs were sentenced to labor in areas that were captured by the Germans when they invaded the USSR in 1941, and subsequently executed, as Kuligowski and Małowiejski were.

Former NKVD men Soprunenko, Tokarev, and Syromiatnikov testified that they knew of some executions of Polish prisoners. So there’s no reason to doubt that the Soviets did shoot some Poles. But the discoveries at Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy prove that the “transit” or “shipment” documents do not record the shipping of the prisoners to execution. This is the basis of the “official” version of the Katyn Massacre: it has now been proven false. The Polish POWs were not being shipped to execution when the camps they were in were closed in April-May 1940.

I predict that in “mainstream” – i.e., anticommunist – academia the discourse about the Katyn Massacre will change very little. Mainstream anticommunism is motivated far more by “political correctness” – by political motives – than by any desire to discover the truth. When mainstream anticommunist scholarship does mention the Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy discoveries it will be only to try to dismiss them. One way of attempting to do so is demonstrated in the Ukrainian archaeological report cited below – to claim that the NKVD carried out these executions. Other similar subterfuges can be invented. The central importance of these discoveries for an objective understanding of this infamous historical event will be denied at all costs.

Perhaps the Polish archaeologist’s report anticipated this by relegating the finding of Kuligowski’s badge to a footnote. It could be considered a principled and even courageous act by this archaeologist, Dr. Dominika Siemińska, to reveal the discovery of the badge and to give the important details about it in the report, no matter how minimized and downplayed. No one compelled her to insert this information, which directs the attentive reader to the contradiction between the discovery at Volodymyr-Volyns’skiy and the “official” version of Katyn. Questioning of the “official” version is not tolerated in the public sphere in Poland. One hopes that Dr. Siemińska’s career will not suffer because of her adherence to scientific objectivity.

The report of the Ukrainian part of the same team does not mention the discovery of either badge. Moreover, the Ukrainian report goes out of its way to suggest that the Soviets might still somehow be responsible for the mass executions. It protests the finding of the Polish report that the graves used the “Jeckeln system” “since it only began to be used by the Nazis at the end of 1941 and the beginning of 1942.” No evidence is included in support of this claim.

Додатковохочетьсявідмітити, щоданийметодрозстрілівнеможнаназивати «системоюЄкельна», на який посилаються наші польські колеги. Цей нацистській метод не передбачав страти у поховальній ямі. До того ж його почали застосовувати лише наприкінці 1941 – на початку 1942 р. у Ризі, що хронологічно не відповідає володимирській страті.

In addition we wish to note that this method of execution should not be called the “Jeckeln system,” to which our Polish colleagues refer. This Nazi method was not used for executions in a funeral pit. In addition, it began to be used only in late 1941 – early 1942 in Riga, which does not correspond chronologically to the Volodymyr executions.

The Ukrainian report mentions the fact that the German shell casings found were from 1941, but then states “It is known that Soviet organs of the NKVD used German weapons in mass executions of Polish citizens.” [49]

У поховальних ямах виявлено ідентичні гільзи , головним чином калібру 9 мм. Більшість з них мають позначки dnh (виробництво заводу Верк Дурлах в Карлсрує, Німеччина) та kam (виробництво фабрики Hasag у Скаржиці Кам’яній, Польща) 1941 р. Проте виявлені і декілька гільз радянського зразка. Все це потребує додаткових досліджень, оскільки стверджувати про те, що розстріли проводилися гітлерівцями при наявності в поховальних ямах гільз радянського зразка– не є об’єктивним. Відомі факти (зокрема дані розстрілів польських військових у Катині), що радянські органи НКВС використовували при розстрілах німецьку зброю.

In the burial pits were found identical shells, mainly of 9 mm caliber. Most of them have the mark “dnh” (production of the factory Werk Drulach [50] in Karlsruhe, Germany) and “kam” (production of the Hasag factory in Skarżysko-Kamienna, [51] Poland) of 1941. However a few shells of Soviet type were also found. All this requires further research, inasmuch as it is not objective to affirm that the shootings were carried out by the Hitlerites when shells of Soviet type were found in the pits. Facts are known (including the facts of the shooting of Polish military men at Katyn) that the Soviet organs of the NKVD used German weapons in shootings.

Details of the shells, 150 in all, found in grave No. 1 are given in footnote 3, page 8 of the Polish report but are absent from the Ukrainian report:

1. “kam, 67, 19, 41”- 137 szt; 2. “dnh, *, l , 41” – 7 szt; 3. Geco, 9 mm – l szt; 4. łuski bez oznaczeń, 7,62 x 25, wz. 30, produkcja ZSRR – 5 szt.

1. “kam, 67, 19, 41” – 137 units; 2. “dnh, *, 1, 41” – 7 units; 3. Geco, 9 mm. – 1 unit; 4. Shells without markings, 7.62 x 25 caliber, USSR production of 1930s type – 5 units.

These identifying marks on shell casings are known as ―”headstamps.” According to the analysis by Sergei Strygin “kam, 67, 19, 41” signifies the Hasag factory in Skarżysko-Kamienna, “67” the percentage of copper in the bullet, “19” the lot number, and “41” the year of production. “dnh *, 1, 41” signifies the Dürlach factory, “*” means the shell was jacketed in brass; “1” is the lot number, and “41” the year of production. One hundred forty-four, or 96% of the 150 shells found, were of German make and can be dated to 1941. [52]

Katynbullets

The Polish, but not the Ukrainian, report also specifies the shells found in grave No. 2:

l. “kam, 67. 19, 41″- 205 szt; 2. „dnh, .*, l, 41″ – 17 szt; 3. łuski bez oznaczeń. 7.62 x 25. wz. 30, produkcja ZSRR — 2 szt; 4. łuska „B , 1906”

1. “Kam, 67, 19, 41” – 205 units; 2. “dny, *, 1, 41” – 17 units; 3. Shells without markings, 7.62×25 caliber – USSR production of 1930s – 2 units; (one) shell “B , 1906.”

Of 225 shells found in this grave, 205 are the German 1941 “Hasag” type, 17 are the German 1941 “Dürlach” type, 2 are of the unmarked 1930s Soviet type; and one is marked “B 1906.” [53] Hence 98.67% of the shells are of 1941 German manufacture.

By contrast neither of the Ukrainian reports cites the numbers of each type of shell or the fact that German shells made in 1941 constitute the overwhelming majority of those found. The following paragraph appears word-for-word in each:

Упоховальнихямахвиявленоідентичнігільзи , головнимчиномкалібру 9 мм. Більшістьзнихмаютьпозначки dnh (виробництвозаводуВеркДурлахвКарлсрує, Німеччина) таkam (виробництвофабрики Hasag уСкаржиціКам’яній, Польща) 1941 р. Протевиявленіідекількагільзрадянськогозразка. Все це потребує додаткових досліджень, оскільки стверджувати про те, що розстріли проводилися гітлерівцями при наявності в поховальних ямах гільз радянського зразка– не є об’єктивним. Відомі факти (зокрема дані розстрілів польських військових у Катині), що радянські органи НКВС використовували при розстрілах німецьку зброю. [54]

In the burial pits were found identical shells, mainly of caliber 9 mm. Most of them have the mark “dnh” (Werk Dürlach production plant in Karlsruhe, Germany), and “kam” (production factory in Hasag Skarżysko Kamienna, Poland) in 1941. However, several shell casings of Soviet model were also found. All this requires more research inasmuch that it is not objective to assert that the shootings were carried out by the Hitlerites even though shells of Soviet model were found in the burial pits. Examples are known (including data of shootings of Polish soldiers in Katyn) that the Soviet organs of the NKVD used German weapons in executions.

There are some problems with the conclusion in the Ukrainian report. First, it is an example of circular reasoning. It assumes that the mass killings at Katyn, which even the Germans admitted were carried out with German ammunition, was a Soviet crime. But that is the very assumption that the discoveries at Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy call into question.

Second, it assumes that even the overwhelming preponderance of German ordnance is not enough to establish that the killings were done by the Germans, since the Soviets could also use German ammunition. No doubt this is the reason the Ukrainian report does not give the numbers of shells or the percentage of them that are German and of 1941 manufacture. (The Ukrainian reports should have added that Germans could also use Soviet ammunition. The Germans captured immense amounts of Soviet arms and ammunition in 1941.)

Відмічено також, що вбиті часто прикривали обличчя руками, або обіймали іншу жертву (жінки тулили до себе і прикривали дітей). (Doslizhdennia; Zvit 15)

It is also noted that those killed often covered their faces with their hands, or embraced another victim (women hugged to themselves and covered children).

There are no examples anywhere of the Soviet NKVD shooting children.

Ukrainian archaeologist Oleksei Zlatohorskyy (Russian: Aleksei Zlatogorskii) has pointed out the political problems raised by the Polish archaeologist’s identification of the Germans as the murderers:

Неосторожные высказывания польских археологов о принадлежности останков, найденных на территории замка Казимира Великого во Владимире-Волынском, могут поставить под сомнение уже известные преступления НКВД по отношению к польским офицерам, сообщил директор ГП “Волынские древности” Алексей Златогорский в комментарии Gazeta.ua.

Incautious statements by Polish archaeologists about the belongings of the remains found on the land of the castle of Kazimir Velikii in Vladimir-Volynskii could cast doubt upon the already known crimes of the NKVD in relation to Polish officers, said the direction of the state enterprise “Volyn antiquities” Aleksei Zlatogorskii in a commentary to Gazeta.ua. [55]

The only “already known crimes of the NKVD in relation to Polish officers” is the Katyn Massacre – to be more precise, the “official” version of the Katyn Massacre. Prof. Zlatohorskyy does not explain how the Polish report “casts doubt” upon the “official” version of Katyn.

The Ukrainian report cited above appears to be a shorter, perhaps Internet version of a longer report written by Zlatohorskyy and two other Ukrainian archaeologists, S.D. Panishko and M.P. Vasheta. This report (Zvit)omits any mention of Kuligowski, Małowiejski, or their badges. Its appendix does include photographs also found in the Polish report. Among them are a photo of the Polish policeman’s epaulette and of the “sardine-packing” arrangement of bodies in Grave No. 2. (Zvit 91,92,97). The very “orderly” arrangement of bodies contradicts the description by Prof. Kola.

The opening of an exhibition concerning this site at the Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy Historical Museum on March 5 2013 has been announced. The accompanying article states only that in 1997 researchers assumed that the victims buried there were Poles shot by the NKVD in 1939-1940, and suggests that this is still their conclusion.

Виставка розповідає про результати ексгумаційних робіт протягом 2010-2012 рр., розкриває перед відвідувачами основні віхи історії ще одного великого замку на Волині та страхітливого злочину, прихованих від людського ока.

The exhibit tells of the results of the works of exhumation during the years 2010-2012, reveals to visitors the basic milestones of yet another great castle of Volhynia and of a horrifying crime hidden from human eyes. [56]

Even if we set aside all the evidence that the Germans killed the victims at Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy, there remains the fact that most of the ammunition used was manufactured in 1941. The “transit” or “shipment” documents are of April-May 1940. Kuligowski and Małowiejski could not have been killed earlier than 1941. No one has suggested that they were killed in Kalinin and Kharkiv in April-May 1940 and then their badges brought to a mass grave in Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy, hundreds of miles away, and there thrown into the burial pit.

Kuligowski and Małowiejski were indeed shipped out of their POW camps in April 1940, as recorded in the Soviet transit lists published by Tucholski in 1991. But neither of them was being sent to execution. They were killed in 1941 in Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy, Ukrainian SSR. According to the evidence now available they were killed by the Germans. But this is not important for our present purposes. What is important is this: it is invalid to conclude that any of the prisoners shipped out of the Polish POW camps in April-May 1940 were being sent to their deaths. This in itself disproves the “official” version of the Katyn massacre.

Conclusion

The opinions of persons who are motivated by a desire to learn the truth about Katyn as about historical questions generally can be altered by the evidence discovered at Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy. This can happen only if the news of the discovery, and of its implications for the understanding of the Katyn issue, becomes widely known and understood.

This is no easy matter. Aside from a small number of researchers, what most people learn about the Katyn issue reflects the “official” version. Discussion of Katyn is actively discouraged in mainstream academic and political circles under the pretext that the matter has been so firmly established by evidence that only cranks and communists could question it.

However, the very act of discouraging free discussion and doubts about the “official” viewpoint has the potential to stimulate curiosity and questioning.

 

[1]“‘Волынская Катынь’ оказалась делом рук гитлеровцев.” [“The ‘Volhynian Katyn’ turns out to be a deed of the Hitlerites.”] At http://katyn.ru/index.php?go=News&in=view&id=253

[2] According to the “official” account, small numbers of Polish prisoners were confined at or shipped to other camps and were not executed.

[3] Hitler outlined this “Big Lie” in Mein Kampf: Chapter 6, “War Propaganda,” and Chapter 10, “Why the Second Reich Collapsed.”

[4]«Секретныедокументы из особых папок» Вопросы Истории 1993 № 1, сс. 3-22.

[5] At http://www.tinyurl.com/katyn-the-truth

[6] I picked the title “The Katyn Forest Whodunnit” for my page because it expresses my own uncertainty, and thereby my own dedication to objectivity. I don’t know “who did it,” the Nazis or the Soviets, the Soviets or the Nazis, and I would like to know. Moreover, I don’t care “who did it.” If the Germans did it, it is just what they did all over Eastern Europe and on a much larger scale. If the Soviets did it, we should try to discover why they did. It would not be “endemic to communism,” as the anticommunists claim. In fact, though, it appears more and more likely that the Soviets did not “do it.”

[7] I have taken the texts of all but one of the confessions from the official Polish volumeKatyń. Dokumenty zbrodni- Tom 2 Zagłada marzec-czerwiec 1940. (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo „Trio,” 1998). They were originally published separately. I have checked those original versions against this one. In addition, Syromiatnikov gave an interview to Polish journalist Jerzy Morawski in 1992. All these interviews with ex-NKVD officers Soprunenko, Syromiatnikov, and Tokarev are available at http://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/research/katyn_nkvd.html

[8] A photograph of Kuligowski‘s badge may be viewed at http://katyn.ru/images/news/2012-12-29-zheton-1441.jpg and a somewhat lighter, more legible copy at http://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/research/kuligowski_badge_1441.jpg

[9] “Osoby z Listy Katyńskiej mordowano we Włodzimierzu Wołyńskim?!” (Persons from the Katyn List murdered at Włodzimierz Wołyński?!), ITVL May 25, 2011. At http://www.itvl.pl/news/osoby-z-listy-katynskiej-mordowano-we-wlodzimierzu-wolynskim–

[10] All translations in this article are mine.

[11] The surrounding region of Volhynia was part of Austria-Hungary until the end of World War I; then part of Poland; then part of the Soviet Ukraine; then occupied by the Germans; then again part of Soviet Ukraine, and is now part of Ukraine. Until 1939 the language of the urban elite was mainly Polish, that of the peasantry mainly Ukrainian and Yiddish.

[12] See “Tropem zbrodni NKWD pod Włodzimierzem Wołyńskim” (Trail of NKVD crime near Włodzimierz Wołyński) at http://wolyn.btx.pl/index.php/component/content/article/1-historia/168-tropem-zbrodni-nkwd-pod-wodzimierzem-woyskim.html ; Włodzimierz Wołyński – groby polskich ofiar NKWD” (graves of Polish victims of the NKVD) at http://www.nawolyniu.pl/artykuly/ofiarynkwd.htm ; “Czyje mogiły odnaleziono we Włodzimierzu Wołyńskim?” (Whose graves found at Włodzimierz Wołyński?) http://wpolityce.pl/depesze/10407-czyje-mogily-odnaleziono-we-wlodzimierzu-wolynskim This last article speaks of „ofiar pomordowanych przez NKWD w latach 1940-1941 w sowieckiej katowni na zamku we Włodzimierzu Wołyńskim” (victims murdered by the NKVD in 1940-1941 in the Soviet execution chamber in the castle at Włodzimierz Wołyński). Many more similar articles could be cited.

[13] “ВолинськаКатинь. УВолодимирі-ВолинськомузнайденомасовепохованняжертвНКВС 1939–1941 років.” Tyzhden’.ua October 4, 2011. At http://tyzhden.ua/Society/31329

[14] In reality there was plenty of “order” in the burials. We shall see below that both the Polish and Ukrainian reports attest to this fact. There is also a great deal of evidence, including photographs, that German troops executed people from behind rather than in “firing-squad” formation.

[15] Sprawozdanie z Nadzoru Nad Badaniami Archeologiczno-Ekshumacyjnymi na Terenie Rezerwatu Historyczno-Kulturowego Miasta Włodzimierza Wołyńskiego (Ukraina). Opracowanie zespołowe pod kierunkiem dr Dominiki Siemińskiej. Rada Ochrony Pamięci Walk i Męczeństwa. (Report of the Supervision on the Archaeological-Exhumation Investigation in the Area of the Reservation of the Historical-Cultural Town of Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy (Ukraine). A Team Description under the Direction of Dr. Dominika Siemińska. Council for the Commemoration of Struggle and Martzrdom). Toruń, 2012, Note, pp. 1-2. At http://www.kresykedzierzynkozle.home.pl/attachments/File/Rap.pdf

[16] Miednoje. Księga Cmentarna Polskiego Cmentarza Wojennego. Warsaw: Rada Ochrony Pamiêci Walk i Mêczeñstwa 2005. Tom 1, 465.

[17] http://www.indeks.karta.org.pl/pl/szczegoly.jsp?id=11036 According to the Home Page „Indeks Represjonowanych” (http://www.indeks.karta.org.pl/pl/index.html ) this online record is a digital version of the contents of the official volume: Maria Skrzyńska-Pławińska, ed. Rozstrzelani w Twerze : alfabetyczny spis 6314 jeńców polskich z Ostaszkowa rozstrzelanych w kwietniu-maju 1940 i pogrzebanych w Miednoje, według źródeł sowieckich i polskich. Warszawa : Ośrodek KARTA, 1997.

[18] Jędrzej Tucholski. Mord w Katyniu: Kozielsk, Ostaszków, Starobielsk. Lista ofiar. Warszawa: Instztut Wydawniczy Pax, 1991, p. 810. No. 15: NKVD list No. 026/1 of 13 April 1940, position 15. In spite of the presence of Kuligowski’s name on this NKVD list, for some reason the alphabetical section of Tucholski (p. 314 col. 2) lists Kuligowski on its “victims list” (lista ofiar) as “probably Ostashkov” (Prawdop. Ostaszków).

[19] See “INDEKS NAZWISK – Katyń – zamordowani przez NKWD w 1940 r.” http://www.ornatowski.com/index/katyn.htm

[20] See above, note 14.

[21] A description of this method of execution may be found on the English-language Wikipedia page on Jeckeln at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Jeckeln#World_War_II_mass_murderer

[22] Equivalent to full or four-star General, the highest SS rank aside from that of Heinrich Himmler, whose rank was Reichsführer-SS.

[23] Photograph at http://katyn.ru/images/news/2012-12-29-gruppa4.jpg (as of May 6 2013). It is taken from page 8 of the Polish archeological report cited above.A description of this method of execution may be found on the English language Wikipedia page on Jeckeln at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Jeckeln#World_War_II_mass_murderer

[24] Volodymyr Musychenko. ―Ialatpcaojnj Hfrtcanj Bumj ]crf¿?‖ Slovo Pravdy (Volodymyr-Volyns‘kiy) March 29, 2011. At http://spr.net.ua/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=919:2011-09-29-07-41- 57&catid=1:newsukraine ; Ivan Katchanovski, ―Katyn in Reverse in Ukraine: Nazi-led Massacres turned into Soviet Massacres.‖ OpEd News, December 13, 2012, at http://www.opednews.com/articles/Katyn-in-Reverse-in-Ukrainby-Ivan-Katchanovski-121212-435.html ; I. Katchanovski, ―Suyasoa qpm{tjla qan‘>t{ oa Cpmjo{ 7pep PUO(b) ta oaxjsts:ljw naspcjw cbjcstc,‖ Ukraina Moderna No. 19 (April 30 2013). At http://www.uamoderna.com/md/199

[25] Photos available at http://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/research/polskie_guziki_pagon_VV2012.jpg , from the Polish archaeological report.

[26] “Kolejny policjant z Listy Katyńskiej odnaleziony we Włodzimierzu Wołyńskim..” [Another policeman on the Katyn List is found in Volodymyr-Volynsky]. At http://www.itvl.pl/news/kolejny-policjant-z-listy-katynskiej-odnaleziony-we-wlodzimierzu-wolynskim

[27] “INDEKS NAZWISK – Katyń – zamordowani przez NKWD w 1940 r.” At http://www.ornatowski.com/index/katyn.htm

[28] The following text is from http://www.indeks.karta.org.pl/pl/szczegoly.jsp?id=11445

[29] Tucholski p. 887 No. 76. Małowiejski was in a transport of 100 Polish prisoners sent to the Kalinin NKVD on April 27, 1940. Of course his name is also on Tucholski’s alphabetical list (p. 322, col. 2) as is Kuligowski’s, and on other official lists of Katyn victims.

[30] “Report of Special Commission for Ascertaining and Investigating the Circumstances of the Shooting of Polish Officer Prisoners by the German-Fascist Invaders in the Katyn Forest.” (Burdenko Report). In The Katyn Forest Massacre. Hearings Before the Select Committee To Conduct an Investigation of the Facts, Evidence, and Circumstances of the Katyn Forest Massacre. Eighty-Second Congress, Second Session. …Part 3 (Chicago). March 13 and 14, 1952. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1952 (http://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/research/burdenko_comm.pdf), p. 246.

[31] “Część Pierwsza. Obóz w Kozielsku. Groby w Lesie Katyńskim,” p. 3 (pages unnumbered).

[32] The following text is from http://www.indeks.karta.org.pl/pl/szczegoly.jsp?id=8437

[33] Araszkiewica at Kozel’sk: Tucholski p. 68 col. 2 (the alphabetical list). In the Russian-language “transit lists” that take up almost 400 pages of Tucholski’s book, Araszkiewicz’s transfer from Ostashkov to Kalinin is recorded on list No.062/2 of May 19, 1940, the last shipment of prisoners out of Ostashkov: p. 907, No. 7.

[34] The New York Times published a very brief notice of the German claim on April 16, 1943; see “Nazis Accuse Russians,” p. 4.

[35] “Совинформбюро. Гнусныеизмышлениянемецко-фашистскихпалачей” (Sovinformburo: Vile Fabrications of the German-Fascist Executioners), April 16, 1943. At http://tinyurl.com/sovinformburo041643

[36]“Część Druga. Obóz w Ostaszkowie,” p. 13 (pages unnumbered).

[37] The following text is from http://www.indeks.karta.org.pl/pl/szczegoly.jsp?id=11191

[38]  The following text is from http://www.indeks.karta.org.pl/pl/szczegoly.jsp?id=11001

[39] Mosziński, Lista Katyńska, lists the only Stanisław Kucziński in the Katyn victims lists as at the Starobelsk camp; see “Część Trzecia. Obóz w Starobielsku,” page 34 (unnumbered pages). Tucholski (p.314 col. 1; lists p. 851 No. 87) puts a Stanisław Kucziński at Ostashkov, thus agreeing with the “Indeks” list. The “Indeks” list and Tucholski agree that this Kucziński’s father’s name was Adam; Mosziński does not give any father’s name. Mosziński’s Stanisław Kucziński was a “rtm,” a Rotmistrz, or Captain of Cavalry, while Tucholski’s was a constable of police (“Funkcj. PP, posterunek Pruszków”). It appears that Mosziński and the other two sources are indicating different men.

[40] The names of these three men are not on the list of 4143 bodies, some of them nameless, in the German report Amtliches Material.

[41] Testimony of P.F. Sukhachev, October 8, 1942, and of Vladimir Afanasievich Yegorov, undated, to Burdenko Commission, Burdenko Comm (note 26), 241-2.

[42] Amtliches Material zum Massenmord von KATYN. Berlin: Zentralverlag der NSDAP. Franz Eher Nachf. GmbH., 1943, p. 46. The German sentence reads: “… an oval tin badge among the exhibits, which contains the following information.

[43] The abbreviation “T.K.” may mean “prison kitchen” (тюремнаякухня) or “pantry,” or it may mean something else. What matters is that the badge or marker comes from Ostashkov.

[44] For a brief overview of this question see Mark Tauger, “Famine in Russian History,”Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, Volume 10: Supplement. (Gulf Breeze, FL: Academic International Press, 2011), 79-92. Tauger’s own works on the famine are cited at page 92. I consider Tauger to be the world’s authority on this famine, to the study of which he has devoted decades. See also R.W. Davies and Stephen G. Wheatcroft,The Years of Hunger. Soviet Agriculture, 1931-1933 (London: Palgrave Macmillan 2009 [2004]), 440-1. Concerning the “Yezhovshchina” (also called “the Great Terror”) see the Yezhov confession of August 4, 1939 printed in Никита Петров, “Сталинский питомец” — Николай Ежов (Nikita Petrov, “Stalin’s Pet” – Nikolai Yezhov), Moscow 2008, 367–79 (English translation at http://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/research/ezhov080439eng.html ). Stalin told aircraft designer Alexander Yakovlev that Yezhov had been executed because he had killed many innocent people; see А. Яковлев, Цельжизни. Запискиавиаконструктора (М.: 1973), 267 (глава: “Москвавобороне”). For the present author’s views see Grover Furr, “The Moscow Trials and the ‘Great Terror’ of 1937-1938: What the Evidence Shows” (written July 2010). http://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/research/trials_ezhovshchina_update0710.html

[45] See, for example, Piotr Kołakowski, NKWD i GRU na ziemiach polskich 1939-1945(Warsaw: Bellona, 2002), 74, which discusses NKVD searches and arrests: “nazwiska osób walczących o granice II Rzeczypospolitej w latach 1918-1921” (names of persons who fought for the boundaries of the Second Republic in 1918-1921), “nazwiska wszystkich ochotników, którzy wojowali z bolszewikami w 1920 r.” (names of all volunteers who had fought the Bolsheviks in 1920), i.e. in the war which forced Soviet Russia to cede all of Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia to Poland in the Treaty of Riga (March 1921).

[46] See the hair-raising anti-Ukrainian terror of November 1938 described by Jeffrey Burds, “Comment on Timothy Snyder’s article…” At http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~hpcws/comment13.htm

[47] For an introduction to this heated question see the section “Polish Massacres of Russian POWs 1919-1920” on my “Katyn Forest Whodunnit” page (note 5).

[48] Ukrainian nationalist forces allied with the Germans massacred roughly 100,000 Polish civilians in German-occupied Western Ukraine in 1943 and 1944. This is known in Poland as “Rzeź wołyńska,” the “Volhynian massacres,” in Ukraine as “Волинська трагедія,” the “Volhynian tragedy.”

[49] “Дослідження виявлених решток людей , розстріляних в 1941 році на городищі “ вали” у володимирі- волинському .ексгумаційні дослідження 2012 року”. (Investigation of discovered remains of persons shot in 1941 at the ‘Shafts’ site at Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy. Investigation of exhumations of 2012.) (Doslizhdennia) At http://volodymyrmuseum.com/publications/32-publications/naukovi-statti/170-doslidzhennya-vyyavlenykh-reshtok-lyudey-rozstrilyanykh-v-1941-rotsi-na-horodyshchi-valy-u-volodymyri-volynskomu-ekshumatsiyni-doslidzhennya-2012-roku

[50] The correct name for this German munitions factory was Rheinisch-Westfalische Sprengstoff AG Dürlach Werk. A specialized Internet database on German ordnance states that the Dürlach factory was actually in Baden: see German WWII Alphabetic Ordnance Codes: c-e, at http://www.radix.net/~bbrown/codes_full_alpha_c-e.html

[51] A town south of Warsaw about halfway between Radom and Kielce. The German munitions factory was HASAG Eisen und Metallwerke G.m.b.H. According to the database cited in the previous note this was the Hugo Schneider AG, Werk Skarżysko Kamienna, Poland.

[52] “B 1906” appears to be Austrian rifle ordnance made for the Tsarist Army during the Russo-Japanese War. See the drawing at http://7.62x54r.net/MosinID/MosinAmmoID02.htm#Austria and the photograph obtained by Sergei Strygin at http://katyn.ru/images/news/2012-12-29-gilza_B_1906.jpg

[53] Doslizhdennia (online); Звіт про результати археологічно-ексгумаційних рятівних досліджень на городищі “вали” у м. володимирі-волинському 2012 р. (Report on the results of the archaeological exhumation recovery investigations at the “Vali” [“shafts”] site in the town of Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy in 2012.). Luts’k, 2012. ( Zvit) Available at http://www.formuseum.info/uploads/files/Звіт 2012_Володимир-Волинський.pdf These are two versions of the same report. The much fuller PDF version contains many pages of photographs, graphs, tables, and drawings, but no clear accounting of the cartridge shells as the Polish report has.

[54] Скороход, Ольга. “Польские археологи нагнетают ситуацию вокруг жертв, расстрелянных в 1941-м.” (Ol’ga Skorokhkod. Polish archeologists stir up the situation around the victims shot in 1941). Gazeta.ru February 20, 2013, http://gazeta.ua/ru/articles/history/_polskie-arheologi-nagnetayut-situaciyu-vokrug-zhertv-rasstrelyannyh-v-1941-m/483525 Gazeta.ru is a Russian-language Ukrainian newspaper. Roughly half the population of today’s Ukraine use Russian as their first language.

[55] Виставка: “Прихована історія: археологічні дослідження на городищі Володимира-Волинського 2010-2012 років” (Exhibition: “Hidden history: archaeological investigations at a site in Volodymyr-Volyns’kiy in the years 2010-2012”), http://www.formuseum.info/2013/02/27/vistavka.html

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Marxist-Leninist Research Bureau: The Aleksandr Smirnov Case (1928-38)

Lenin’s Tomb, 1927. (Left to Right) Rykov, Bukharin, Kalinin, Uglanov, Stalin, Tomsky. (Back Row) Murphy and son, Gordon.

Lenin’s Tomb, 1927. (Left to Right) Rykov, Bukharin, Kalinin, Uglanov, Stalin, Tomsky.
(Back Row) Murphy and son, Gordon.

The Formation of the Smirnov Group (1928-29)

In February 1928, Aleksandr Smirnov*, who had been People’s Commissar of agriculture in the Russian Republic, was promoted to the position of Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU:

“In February (1928 – Ed.), the Rightist Commissar of Agriculture of the Russian Republic, Aleksandr Smirnoy, was . . . appointed to the Party Secretariat.”

(Stephen F. Cohen: ‘Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political Biography: 1888-1938’; London; 1974; p. 279).

and shortly afterwards Smirnoy took the initiative in forming an opposition group. At his public trial in March 1938, the defendant Izaak Zelensky*, a former agent of the tsarist secret service, admitted:

“I joined the Right organisation at the end of 1928 or at the beginning of 1929, . . . I was recruited by A. P. Smirnov.”

(Izaak A. Zelensky: Testimony at 1938 Treason Trial, in: Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’ (hereafter listed as ‘Report (1938)’) ; Moscow; 1938; p. 325).

The A. P. Smirnov group:

“was Bukharinist in economic outlook.”

(Stephen F. Cohen: op. cit.; p. 348)

but separate from the Bukharinist leadership:

“The top Rightists . . . refused to have anything to do with Smirnov’s plans.”

(Robert Conquest: ‘The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties’; London; 1968; p. 31).

Their programme included the dissolution of most collective farms, the idependence of the trade unions from Party leadership and the removal of Stalin from the post of General Secretary of the CPSU:

“Their (the A. P. Smnirnov group’s – Ed.) programme seems to have covered . . . the dissolution of most of the kolkhozes, . . . the independence of the trade unions. Above all, they had discussed the removal of Stalin.”

(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 30).

The defendant Izaak Zelensky admitted at the 1938 treason trial that the programme of the A. P. Smirnov group also included wrecking and terrorism:

“At the end of 1931 or the beginning of 1932, Smirnov . . . told me of the new tactics which had been outlined by the centre of the Rights, and which consisted in the following: the use of double-dealing, a conspirative form of organisation, the adoption of tactics of wrecking, diversion, destruction, training insurrectionary cadres, the adoption of terrorism.”

(Ivararokion;, Zelensky: Testimony at 1938 Treason Trial, in: Report (1938); op. cit.; p. 327).

From the outset, the A. P. Smirnov group was underground and illegal:

“Smirnov’s group . . . decided to go underground and formed an independent group known as ‘Bolshevik Workers . .. His first efforts were devoted to the creation of illegal cells in the more important working-class centres and the drawing together of all oppositional elements within the Party.”

(Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov: ‘Stalin and the Soviet Communist Party: A Study in the Technology of Power’; Munich; 1959; p. 193).

“A. P. Smirnov’s group . . . had to a large extent gone underground, with a view to organising for a struggle.”

(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 30).

Among prominent members of the A. P. Smirnov group were Nikolay Uglanov* (discussed in the paper on the Ryutin Affair) and Lev Karakhan* – later exposed as a German agent, as was admitted by defendants in the 1938 treason trial:

“RYKOV: Karakhan reported that the German fascists were, of course, very well disposed towards the prospect of the Right coming into power and would welcome it very much.”

(Report (1938): op. cit.; p. 179).

“VYSHINSKY: Accused Bukharin, were you aware that Karakhan was a participant in the conspiratorial group of Rights and Trotskyites?

BUKHARIN: I was.

VYSHINSKY: Were you aware that Karakhan was a German spy?

BUHARIN: No, I was not aware of that.

VYSHINSKY (TO RYKOV): Were you aware, accused Rykov, that Karakhan was a German spy?

RYKOV: No, I was not.

VYSHINSKY: Were you not aware that Karakhan was engaged in negotiations with certain German circles? .

RYKOV: Yes, yes.

VYSHINSKY: Treasonable negotiations?

RYKOV: Treasonable. .

VYSHINSKY (TO BUKHARIN): Were you aware that Karakhan was engaged in negotiations with the German fascists?

BUKHARIN: I was. .

VYSHINSKY: Did you endorse these negotiations?

BUKHARIN: . . . I did not disavow them; consequently I endorsed them.. . . .

VYSHINSKY: And so, accused Bukharin, you bear responsibility for these negotiations with the Germans?

BUKHARIN: Undoubtedly.”

(Report (1938): op. cit.; p, 401-02, 407, 408).

The importance of the A. P. Smirnoy affair lay, firstly, in the fact that it embraced senior officials who had never before been associated with any opposition:

“The views of A. P. Smirnov and his followers mark an important crux. For we find veteran senior officials who had never been associated with any opposition.”

(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 31).

and, secondly, in the fact that it:

“was supported by important trade union officials.”

(Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov: op. cit.; p. 192.

The CCICCC Resolution on the A. P. Smirnov Affair (1933)

In January 1933, the A.P. Smirnov group was condemned at a joint plenary meeting of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission of the Party. Bukharin dissociated himself from the group:

“At the plenum, Bukharin . . . made a speech typical of the extravagant and insincere tone which was now conventional in ex-oppositionist statements, demanding ‘the severe punishment of A. P. Smirnov’s grouping.”

(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 31).

A resolution of the Plenum charged the group with forming an underground opposition group:

“Smirnov and others in fact carried on anti-Party activity and opposed the Party policy. They established a factional underground group.”

(Resolution of Joint Plenary Session of Central Committee and Central Control Commission, CPSU (January 1933), in: Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov: op. cit.; p. 194).

“At the January 1933 plenum , . . . the last of the new cycle of plots was exposed. . . . A. P. Smirnov . . . was charged . . . with forming an anti-Party group.”

(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 31).

“The group of . . . A. P. Smirnov . . . was discussed at the meeting of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission in January 1933. A resolution was adopted condemning the creation of an underground factional group, allegedly dedicated to the disruption of industrialisation and collectivisation and the restoration of capitalism.”

(Roy A. Medvedev: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism’; New York; 1971; p.155).

“In January 1933, still another underground opposition cell was unearthed, this one organised by the former Commissar of Agriculture, A. P. Smirnov, . . . They were accused of organising ‘bourgeois degenerates’ to attempt, like the Ryutin group, ‘the restoration of capitalism and in particular of the kulaks.”‘

(Robert V. Daniels: ‘The Conscience of the Revolution’; Cambridge (USA); 1960; p. 380).

Nevertheless, the members of the group:

“were treated leniently.”

(Ian Grey: ‘Stalin: Man of History’; London; 1979; p. 256).

The Plenum removed Smirnov from the Central Committee:

“The joint plenary session of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission therefore resolves to expel Smirnov from the Party Central Committee with a warning that if he fails to gain the confidence of the Party in his work, he will be expelled from the Party.”

(Resolution of Joint Plenary Session of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission (January 1933). in: Aburakhman Avtorkanov: op. cit.; p. 195).

“Smirnov was removed from the Central Committee, with a warning that expulsion from the Party would follow if his future work did not merit trust.”

(Roy A. Medvedev: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism’; New York; 1971; p.155).

“A. P. Smirnov and others. . . . were merely reprimanded by the Central Committee, not expelled from the Party. Smirnov, the only one who had been on the Central Committee, was removed from it and threatened with expulsion from the Party if he did not mend his ways.”

(Robert H. McNeal: ‘Stalin: Man and Ruler’; Basingstoke; 1988; p. 146).

“A. P. Smirnov (was expelled — Ed.) from the Central Committee.'”

(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 31).

The Expulsion and Trial of A. P. Smirnov (1934-35) In December 1934

Nonetheless Smirnov was expelled from the Party in 1934:

“Smirnov was expelled from the Party in December 1934 . . . for double-dealing and continuing his struggle against the Party.”

Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 31).

Early in 1935 Smirnov was arrested, tried for and found guilty of anti-Soviet activity and sentenced to imprisonment. He died in imprisonment in 1938.

The Trials of Uglanov and Karakhan (1936-37)

In 1936,

“. . Uglanov and others were given jail sentences.”

(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 31).

while Karakhan was tried in 1937 for treason, found guilty and executed:

“On 16 December (1937– Ed.) . . . Karakhan . . . and others had been tried before the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court as spies, bourgeois nationalists and terrorists, had confessed and had been executed.”

(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 272).

Published by: THE MARXIST-LENINIST RESEARCH BUREAU, Ilford, Essex,

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

KARAKHAN, Lev N., Soviet revisionist lawyer and diplomat (1889-1937); RSFSR People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs (1918-20, 1922); USSR Ambassador to china (1923-26); USSR Deputy People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs (l93~ 34); USSR Ambassador to Italy (1934-37); arrested, tried for and found guilty of espionage and treason, sentenced to death and executed (1937).

SMIRNOV, Aleksandr P., Soviet revisionist politician (1877-1938); RSFSR People’s Comissar of Agriculture1 and simultaneously Secretary-General, Peasants’ International (1923-28); RSFSR, Deputy Premier (1928-30); Secretary, Central Committee, CPSU (1928-30); expelled from Party (1934); arrested, tried for and found guilty of anti-Soviet activity and sentenced to imprisonment (1935); died in imprisonment (1938).

UGLANOV, Nikolay A., Soviet revisionist politician (1886-1940); secretary, Petrograd Party Committee (1921-22); secretary, Nizhny Novgorod Party Committee (1922-24); secretary, Moscow Party Committee (1924-28); USSR People’s Commmissar of Labour (1928-30); expelled from Party (1932); reinstated in Party (1934); re-expelled from Party, arrested, tried for and found guilty of anti-Soviet activity, and sentenced to imprisonment (1936); died in imprisonment (1938).

ZELENSKY, Izaak A., Soviet revisionist politician (1890-1938); Secretary, Moscow Party Committee (1920-21, 1924-31); Secretary, Central Asian Party Bureau (1924-31); Chairman, Central Union of Consumer Co-operatives (1931-37); arrested (1937); tried for and found guilty of treason, sentenced to death and executed (1938).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

AVTORKHANOV, Abdurakhman: ‘Stalin and the Soviet Communist Party: A Study in the Technology of Power’; Munich; 1959.
COHEN, Stephen F.: ‘Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political
Biography: 1888-1938′; London; 1974.
CONQUEST, Robert: ‘The Great Terror; Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties’; London;
1968.
DANIELS, Robert V.: ‘The Conscience of the Revolution’; Cambridge (USA); 1960.
GREY, Ian: ‘Stalin: Man of History’; London; 1979.
McNEAL, Robert H.: ‘Stalin: Man and Ruler’; Basingstoke; 1988.
MEDVEDEV, Roy A.: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism’; London; 1972.
ISCHULZ, Heinrich E., URBAN, Paul K. & LEBED, Andrew I. (Eds.): ‘Who was Who in the USSR: ‘Biographic Dictionary’; Methuen (USA); 1972.
Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’; Moscow; 1938.

Source

Marxist-Leninist Research Bureau: The Yenukidze Case (1935-37)

Avel Yenukidze

Avel Yenukidze

Introduction

Avel Yenukidze* was Secretary of the Presidium of the Soviet Central Executive, Committee i.e., head of the Soviet civil service, from 1918 to 1935. This post put him

“…in charge of the administration and personnel of the Kremlin.”

(Adam B. Ulam: ‘Stalin: ‘The Man and his Era’; London; 1989; p. 396).

The Revision of Yenukidze’s Biography (1935)

Yenukidze had published in 1930 a historical study entitled “Our Illegal Printing Shops in the Caucasus.”

On 16 January 1935, in an article in ‘Pravda’,

“. . . Yenukidze himself revised his biography in the ‘Great Soviet Encyclopedia’ to the effect that it was not he, Yenukidze, who played a role in the foundation of the (Baku Party — Ed.) organisation but a group of other Georgian revolutionaries, including Stalin.”

(Lazar Pistrak: ‘The Grand Tactician: Khrushchev’s Rise to Power’; London; 1961; p. 140-41).

Yenukidze’s article:

” . . amounted to a confession of grave errors in his own treatment of th; history of the revolutionary movement in Transcaucasia. . . . He had written a short work in 1930 on illegal Bolshevik printing presses in Transcaucasia and had provided himself with highly favourable entries in some reference books.”

(Robert H. McNeal: ‘Stalin: Man and Ruler’; Basingstoke; 1988; p. 111).

In July 1935 Lavrenti Beria* delivered in Tiflis a series of lectures entitled “On the History of the Bolshevik Organisation in Transcaucasia” which were published in book form. Beria claimed that Yenukidze had:

” . . deliberately and with hostile intent falsified the history of the Bolshevik organisations of Transcaucasia in his authorised biography and in his pamphlet ‘Our Illegal Printing Shops in the Caucasus’, cynically and brazenly distorted well-known historical facts, crediting himself with alleged services in the establishment of the first illegal printing shop in Baku. . . .
As we know, in view of the imminent danger that these falsifications and distortions of his would be exposed, A. Yenukidze was obliged to admit these ‘mistakes’ in the columns of ‘Pravda’ on January 16 1935.”

(Lavrenti P. Beria: ‘On the History of the Bolshevik Organisations in Transcaucasia’; London; 1935; p. 35, 36).

Beria’s book:

” . . . contained an open political denunciation of two prominent Bolsheviks, Yenukidze and Orakhelashvili*. . . . Orakhelashvili tried to protest by writing to Stalin and enclosing the draft of a rebuttal for publication in ‘Pravda.'”

(Dmitri Volkogonov: ‘Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy’; London; 1991; p. 213).

Stalin replied advising Yenukidze to accept that his book contained errors, and merely complain that Beria’s criticism was ‘too harsh’:

“A letter to ‘Pravda’ ought to be printed, but I don’t think the text of your letter is satisfactory. In your place I would take out all its ‘polemical beauty’, all the ‘excursions’ into history, plus the ‘decisive protest’, and I would say simply and briefly that such and such mistakes were made, but that Comrade Beria’s criticism of these mistakes is, let’s say, too harsh and is not justified by the nature of the mistakes. Or something in this vein.”

(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Mamia Orakhelashvili (July 1935), in: Dmitri Volkogonov: ibid.; p. 213, citing: Central Party Archives at the Institute of Marxism-Leninism, f. 558, op. 1, d. 3179).

The Alleged Conspiracy in the Kremlin (1935)

However:

” . . . the charges against Yenukidze by Beria and others for his alleged historical mistake played a minor part, if any at all, in Yenukidze’s downfall.”

(Boris Nikolaevsky: ‘Power and the Soviet Elite: “The Letter of an Old Bolshevik” and Other Essays’; New York; 1965; p. 220).

Early in 1935 it was announced that there had been discovered in the Kremlin

” . . . an alleged conspiracy against Stalin, a conspiracy involving a number of Kremlin guards.”

(Adam B. Ulam: p. 396).

The Dismissal and Expulsion of Yenukidze (1935)

On 3 March 1935:

“Yenukidze was relieved from his post in Moscow.”

(Lazar Pistrak: op. cit.; p. 141).

At this time he was:

“blamed, evidently, only for negligence rather than complicity”,

(Adam B. Ulam: op. cit.; p. 396-97).

since his change of position was stated to be due to:

“. . . his promotion to the post of Chairman of the Transcaucasian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.”

(Lazar Pistrak: op. cit.; p. 141).

The charge against Yenukidze:

” . . . was that he had, in his general supervisory capacity as Secretary of the Central Executive Committee, allowed former aristocrats to take jobs in the Kremlin.”

(Robert Conquest: ‘Stalin: Breaker of Nations’ (hereafter listed as ‘Robert Conquest (1993)’; London; 1993; p. 195).

But Yenukidze’s:

“. . . promotion’ never materialised.”

(Lazar Pistrak: op. cit.; p. 141)

and on 7 June 1935,

“. . . at the plenary session of the Party Central Committee Yenukidze . . . was expelled from the Party.”

(Lazar Pistrak: ibid.; p. 141)

after being denounced for:

“. . . political and personal dissoluteness’. Over the following weeks, the papers printed violent attacks on him. . . . He was accused of taking ‘enemies’ under his wing — ‘former princes, ministers, courtiers, Trotskyites, etc.; . . . a counter-revolutionary nest’, and in general of rotten liberalism.'”

(Robert Conquest: ‘The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties’; London; 1969; p. 88-89), citing ‘Pravda’, 16, 19 June 1935).

On 13 June 1935, ‘Pravda’ reported Khrushchev as telling the Moscow Party aktiv:

“The shot which struck Comrade Kirov showed that our enemies stop at nothing. . . . All the necessary deductions should have been drawn from this signal. Yenukidze, however, having lost all the qualities of a Bolshevik, preferred to be a ‘kind uncle’ to the enemies of our Party. . The Party showed great trust in Yenukidze, giving him responsible work to do, . . . but he did not justify that trust. He betrayed the cause of the revolution. He degenerated politically and morally.”

(Nikta S. Khrushchev: Speech to Moscow Party Aktiv (June 1935), in: ‘The Dethronement of Stalin’; Manchester; 1956; p. 11).

On 24 June 1935, Beria publicly denounced Yenukidze:

“Yenukidze turned out to be a traitor to our country and is enduring a well-deserved punishment.”

(Lavrenti Beria: Speech reported in ‘Zaria vostoka'(Eastern Dawn), 24 June 1935, in: Amy Knight: ‘Beria: Stalin’s First Lieutenant’; Princeton (USA): 1993; p. 57).

The Arrest of Yenukidze (1936)

Yenukidze was arrested in:

“late 1936.”

(Amy Knight: op. cit.; p. 68).

The Trial and Execution of Yenukidze (1937)

On 29 December 1937, ‘Pravda’ reported that eight people, including Orakhelashvili and Yenukidze:

” . . . were all sentenced to death in camera for high treason, espionage, subversion and terrorist conspiracy.”

(Gabor T. Rittersporn: ‘Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications: Social Tensions and Political Conflicts in the USSR: 1933-1953’; Reading; 1991; p. 197).

And

” . . shot.”

(Roy A. Medvedev: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism’; London; 1972; p. 197).

It was charged that Orakhelashvili:

” . . . wishing to restore capitalism in Georgia, had committed diversionary acts ‘linked to an imperialist state.'”

(‘Pravda’, 20 December 1936, cited in: Robert Conquest: ‘Inside Stalin’s Secret Police: NKVD Politics: 1936-39; Basingstoke; 1985; p. 52).

The 1938 Treason Trial (1938)

In March 1938, the Yenukidze case was referred to several times in the testimony given at the 1938 treason trial.

For example, defendant Aleksey Rykov testified:

“RYKOV: The next period (after the liquidation of the kulaks – Ed.) is characterised by the creation of an exclusively conspiratorial type of organisation and the employment of the sharpest methods of struggle against the Party and the government. This particularly includes one of the attempts that was made to prepare for a ‘palace coup.’

VYSHINSKY: To when does this refer?

RYKOV: This plan aimed to arrest the members of the government in connnection with a violent coup carried out by the conspiratorial organisation. . . . As far as I remember, this idea arose among the Rights in 1933-34. . . . The mainstay of this counter-revolutionary plan was Yenukidze, who had become an active member of the Right organisation in 1933….
For the purpose of carrying out the ‘palace coup’ a centre was formed including the Trotskyites and Zinovievites: Kamenev, Pyatakov, Yenukidze, and also myself, Bukharin and Tomsky.”

(Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’ (March 1938) (hereafter listed as ‘Trial (1938)’; Moscow; 1938; p. 176-77, 178).

Defendant Nikolay Bukharin* testified:

“BUKHARIN: The inception of the idea of the coup d’etat among us Right conspirators relates approximately to the years 1929-30. . . . It was an idea of a circumscribed coup d’etat, or a ‘palace coup’. . . . Yenukidze, who was personally connected with Tomsky and was frequently in his company, had charge of the Kremlin guard. . . .
Why do I say ‘palace coup’? This means by forces organisationally concentrated in the Kremlin. . .
The forces of the conspiracy were: the forces of Yenukidze plus Yagoda, the organisations in the Kremlin and in the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs; Yenukidze also succeeded around that time in enlisting, as far as I can remember, the former commandant of the Kremlin, Peterson, who, apropos, was in his time the commandant of Trotsky’s train. . . .
An organisation of a criminal counter-revolutionary conspiracy was created, which included the forces of Yenukidze, of Yagoda, the organisation in the Kremlin, in the People’s Comissariat of Internal Affairs, the military organisation and the forces of the Moscow garrison under the leadership of the conspirators of the military group.”

(Trial (1938): ibid.; p. 394-95, 419, 424-25).

The defendant Pavel Bulanov testified:

“One of the principal roles in the coup, according to him, (Yagoda -Ed.) was to have been played by Yenukidze, and the second . . . fell on his, Yagoda’s shoulders. They had spheres of influence: Yenukidze’s was the Kremlin, and Yagoda’s was the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs. . . .
Yagoda was very much infatuated with Hitler.
They considered that the armed coup must absolutely be timed to coincide with war. . . . . Yagoda had the closest connections with the leaders of the Rights. He was also connected with the Trotskyites. . . . More than once . . . he gave . . . direct or indirect orders not to proceed with cases against Trotskyites but, on the contrary, to terminate a number of cases against Trotskyites, as well as Rights and Zinovievites.

VYSHINSKY: That is, he shielded them.

BULANOV: I would say that he not only shielded them, but directly assisted their activities.”

(Trial (1938): ibid.; p. 553, 554, 555).

‘Rehabilitation’ by the Revisionists

In May 1962, Yenukidze was ‘rehabilitated’ by the revisionist authorities.
The alleged ‘miscarriage of justice’ in the Yenukidze case was attributed to Lavrenti Beria, on which even Boris Nikolaevsky felt compelled to comment:

“Why does ‘Pravda’ publish absurdities about . . . Beria as the chief culprit in Yenukidze’s liquidation? Why this myth about the supposed omnipotence of Beria who, in 1935, was far away in his Party post in Tiflis?”

(Boris Nikolaevsky: op. cit.; p. 224).

Published by: THE MARXIST-LENINIST RESEARCH BUREAU, Ilford, Essex.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

BERIA, Lavrenti P., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1899-1953); director, GPU/OGPU, Transcaucasia (1921-31); lst Secretary,. CP Georgia (1931-38); USSR People’s Commissar/Minister of Internal Affairs (1938-46); member, State Defence Committee (1941-45); Marshal (1945); member, Politburo, CPSU (1946-53); USSR Deputy Premier and Minister of Internal Affairs (1953); relieved of all posts and expelled from Party by revisionists (1953); tried by revisionists on false charges of treason and executed (1953).

ORAKHELASHVILI, Ivan (‘Mamia’), Soviet revisionist politician (1881-1937); First Secretary, Transcaucasian Regional Party Committee (1926-29); Premier, Transcaucasia, and 1st Secretary, Transcaucasian Regional Party Committee (1931-32); Deputy Director, Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute (193237); expelled from Party, arrested and transferred to Tiflis (1937); tried for and found guilty of treason and sabotage, sentenced to death and executed (1937).

YENUKIDZE, Avel S., Soviet revisionist engineer and civil servant (1877-1937); head, military department, All-Russian Central Executive Committee (191718); Secretary, All-Russian/USSR Central Executive Committee (1918-35); expelled from Party (1935); arrested (1936); tried for and found guilty of treason and espionage, sentenced to death and executed (1937).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Beria, ‘Lavrenti P.: ‘On the History of Bolshevik Organisations in Transcaucasia’; London; 1951.
Conquest, Robert: ‘Inside Stalin’s Secret Police: NKVD Politics: 1936-39; Basingstoke; 1985.
Conquest, Robert: ‘Stalin: ‘Breaker of Nations’; London; 1995.
Conquest, Robert: ‘The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties’; London; 1969.
Knight, Amy: ‘Beria: Stalin’s First Lieutenant’; Princeton (USA); 1993.
Medvedev, Roy A.: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism: London; 1972.
McNeal, Robert H.: ‘Stalin: Man and Ruler’; Basingstoke; 1988.
Nikolaevsky, Boris: ‘Power and the Soviet Elite: “The Letter of an Old Bolshevik” and Other Essays’; New York; 1965.
Pistrak, Lazar: ‘The Grand Tactician: Khrushchev’s Rise to Power’; London; 1961.
Rittersporn, Gdbor T.: ‘Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications: Social Tensions and Political Conflicts in the USSR: 1933-1953’; Reading; 1991.
Ulam, Adam B.: ‘Stalin: The Man and his Era’; London; 1989.
Volkogonov, Dmitri: ‘Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy’; London; 1991.
______ ‘The Dethronement of Stalin’; Manchester; 1956.
______ Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’; Moscow; 1938.

Source

Marxist-Leninist Research Bureau: The Industrial Party Affair

The Industrial Party Trial.

The Industrial Party Trial.

The Formation of the ‘Industrial Party’ (1925-28)

At his trial in November 1930, Professor Leonid Ramzin* admitted that he had been the:

“. . ideological leader”;

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ‘Wreckers on Trial’; London; 1931; p. 39).

of a counter-revolutionary organisation called the “Industrial Party” (Prompartiya). He testified that the old engineering circles, from which the party had been formed, constituted:

“. . an aloof caste.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 6).

which was hostile to socialism:

“In their political views the old engineering circles . . . (were) completely alien to the ideology of the Communist Party. The old engineers were completely and firmly convinced of the necessity for a capitalist structure as the only base on which the productive forces of the country could develop successfully and steadily.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 7).

These anti-socialist engineers formed in 1925 an organisation called the “Engineering Centre,” the forerunner of the “Industrial Party,” as an instrument for organising sabotage and counter-revolution:

“During the first half of 1928, . . . the name ‘Industrial Party’ was adopted.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: ‘Le Proces des Industriels de Moscow’ (The Trial of the Moscow Industrialists); Paris; 1931; p. 65).

The Growth and Financing of,the Industrial Party (1928-30)

By mid-1929 the Industrial Party had some 2,000 members.
(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): op. cit.; p. 6).

The main source of finance for the Industrial Party was the “Russian Trade and Industrial Committee” (Torgprom), established in Paris in 1920-21. Torgrom was:

“An organisation abroad of former Russian industrialists. Its aim is, first, to defend the interests of the former Russian industrialists abroad; and, secondly, to secure the return of their former enterprises in the USSR, or at least to recover compensation for them.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 15).

“The regular financing of the Industrial Party from abroad began at the end of 1928. . . . From November 1928 to March 1930 about 1,600,000 roubles were received from abroad.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 17).

The Industrial Party:

“. . had its own men at key points”,

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 34).

in order to weaken the economy and arouse the dissatisfaction of the working people, the members of the Industrial Party:

“. . adopted the method of planned sabotage.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 13).

The Plans for Foreign Intervention (1928-30)

However, the Industrial Party realised that sabotage alone would not be sufficient to bring about successful counter-revolution, and so it relied primarily on foreign intervention:

“The ideal of intervention became defined clearly and sharply as the one means for the real achievement of a counter-revolutionary upheaval and the overthrow of the Soviet Government.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 13).

Thus, the Industrial Party secretly allied itself with:

“Official circles in France and, during the first period, England.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 18).

and also engaged in:

‘reconnaissance’,

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 37).

that is, in espionage.

The financing of the intervention was to be carried out mainly from French War Ministry funds, by the oil companies and, to a small extent by Torgprom:

“In regard to the financing of intervention, . . . most of the money was to come through the estimates of the French War Ministry, and then from oil circles. A small portion of these funds was to come from the Torgprom.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 27).

It was planned that the intervention force would be:

“. . a small but strong army of 600,000 to 800,000.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Trial, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 24).

composed of forces from Poland, Romania and the Baltic States. together with White Russian troops under Generals Pyotr Wrangel* and Pyotr Krasnov*:

“In the forefront were the military forces of Poland and Romania, and then came those of the Baltic States, the Wrangel Army and a small corps of Krasnov’s Cossacks.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Tribunal, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 27).

France:

“. . expected to furnish training and general leadership of the military side of intervention.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Tribunal, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 27).

while Britain:

“Was supposed to lend assistance through its fleet in the Black Sea and in the Gulf of Finland.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Tribunal, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 28).

The plan of the campaign was to bring about a simultaneous attack on Moscow and Leningrad:

”The military plan provided for a simultaneous attack on Moscow and Leningrad. While the southern army was to move through the Western districts of the Ukraine, with its flank on the right bank Dnieper, and so on towards Moscow, the northern army, with the support of the naval and air fleet, was to move against Leningrad.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Tribunal, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 29).

It was planned that the intervention forces would be under the overall command of the White Russian General Aleksandr Lukomsky*:

“The leader of the military intervention was to be General Lukomsky.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Tribunal, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 21).

and that they would have to establish a military dictatorship:

“Everyone was agreed that a military dictatorship would be necessary at first.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Tribunal, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 11).

As the price of their support of intervention, the participating states had put in demands for territorial concessions:

“Poland and Romania for the western territory of the Ukraine, the Deterding* group, and subsequently France for sweeping concessions in the Caucasus and . . . for the separation of the Ukraine and Georgia.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Tribunal, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 30).

In his testimony, Ramzin described a meeting with representatives of Torgprom during a visit to Paris in October 1928. There he was told of meetings between leaders of Torgprom and French Prime Minister Raymond Poincare* and Foreign Minister Aristide Briand*. He was informed that Poincare :

“Expressed complete sympathy with the idea of organising intervention against the USSR, and stated that this question had already been turned over to the French General Staff to be worked out.”

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Tribunal, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 21).

Continuing his evidence, Ramzin gave an account of meetings he had had in London with representatives of the British engineering firm of ‘Vickers’ and with the British intelligence agent Thomas Lawrence* (‘Lawrence of Arabia’).

(Leonid Ramzin: Evidence at Industrial Party Tribunal, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 20, 26, 36).

The Trial (1930)

On 25 November 1930, the trial began in Moscow of the leaders of the Industrial Party, eight scientists, headed by Leonid Rainzin, former Director of the Thermo-Technical Institute and Professor at the Moscow Technical High School, They were charged with espionage and treason.

The trial was held in public, except for one brief session. The Presiding Judge was Andrey Vyshinsky* and the prosecution was headed by the Public Prosecutor of the RSFSR, Nikolay Kryenko*.

All the defendants pleaded guilty to the charges.

Ramzin testified:

“I unreservedly admit my guilt. . . . I can only succeed in mitigating my guilt by frank and truthful testimony and by sincerely admitting my crimes and mistakes.”

(Leonid Ramzin, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 5-6).

The trial ended on 7 December 1930, when all defendants were found guilty. Five of the defendants, including Ramzin, were sentenced to death, the other three to ten years’ imprisonment. (Andrew Rothstein (Ed.) ibid.; p. 209-10).

On 8 December the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Union commuted the death sentences to ten years’ imprisonment, and reduced the terms of imprisonment imposed on the other defendants to eight years.
(Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): ibid.; p. 212).

In prison, Ramzin was provided with facilities to proceed with his scientific work on boiler design:

“After the trial, he (Ramzin — Ed.) was set to work in prison on boiler construction. Ramzin’s re-employment in penal servitude was not an isolated case.”

(Robert C. Tucker: ‘Stalin in Power: The Revolution from above: 1928-1941’; New York; 1990; p. 100).

International Reactions (1930)

On 24 November 1930, Torgprom issued a statement denying any connection with the accused persons. However, its declaration of innocence was

“somewhat weakened”;

(‘New York Times’, 7 December 1930: Section III, p. 3).

by the assertion in the statement that it would:

“. . continue untiringly its struggle against the Soviet Government. . . . and will continue to prepare for the future emancipation of the Fatherland.”

(Torgprom: Statement of 24 November 1930, in: Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): op. cit.; p. 112).

On 27 November:

“Both former Premier Poincare and Foreign Minister Briand…issued official contradictions of statements made by the Russian Professor Ramzin during his trial in Moscow.”

(‘New York Times’, 27 November 1930; p. 22).

On 28 November the ‘Times’ reported that one of the persons with whom Ramzin had claimed to have had discussions in Paris in 1928, Ryabushinsky, had in fact died some years earlier in France, where he had been:

“. . buried on June 19, 1924.”

(‘Times’, 28 November 1930; p. 16).

However, on 30 November it was revealed in court in Moscow that the Riabushinsky who had died in 1924 was Pavel Riabushinsky, while the Riabushinsky referred to in Ramzin’s testimony was his brother Vladimir, an anti-Soviet newspaper article by whom (dated July 1930) was submitted to the Court in evidence. (Andrew Rothstein (Ed.): op. cit.; p. 107-09).

In general, the British and French press dismissed both the charges and the trial as:

“farcical”;

(‘Times’, 14 November 1930; p. 14).

“BRITISH CALL TRIAL BY REDS A FRAME-UP.”
(‘New York Times’, 29 November 1930; p. 9).

although some left-wing journalists were more honest:

“There was no honest observer, even an enemy of the Soviet Union, who would not reject the suggestion of a ‘staged’ trial as a foolish piece of malice. . . . They (the defendants — Ed.) were guilty and they knew it.”

(Walter H. Holmes: ‘The Wreckers exposed in the Trial ‘of the Counter-Revolutionary Industrial Party’; London; 1931; P. 31 7).

and the more reputable American newspapers – no Americans were involved in the case! – paid tribute to the skill of the prosecutor:

“Mr. Krylenko led them subtly from one admission to another.”

(‘New York Times’, 29 November 1930; p. 9).

and accepted the case against the defendants as proved:

“With the abandonment of NEP (New Economic Policy — Ed.) they took to treason to save their ideals and themselves.”

(‘New York Times’, 29 November 1930; p. 9).

“The testimony is impressive by the sheer weight and mass of detail, and there seems little doubt that the conspiracy, as far as its intent and activities and its connections with the powerful emigre Industrial Union in Paris is concerned, was high-placed, widespread and dangerous.

It is more than probable . . that the conspirators gave valuable information to foreign military espionage services about the Red Army, chemical and munitions factories, and the Soviet air force.”

(‘New York Times’, 30 November 1930; Section III; p. 3).

“To this correspondent, it sounded real.”

(‘New York Times’, 3 December 1930; p. 17).

“That documents once existed might be gathered from the haste of the emigree press, when the indictment was published, to suggest that the charges would be supported by a mass of ‘forged documents’. That none were produced – because, as N. V. Krylenko, the prosecutor, said: ‘The accused were very cautious and destroyed them in time’ – seems to contradict the emigre assertion that the confessions were extracted by torture, since it would be far easier to force a man to accept a faked paper than to make him continue for ten days to swear his own life away by detailed admissions. .

Professor L. K. Ramzin’s speech . . . was full proof of the baselessness of the assertion that he spoke under pressure. . . .

No man could speak words like these under pressure of the ‘third degree’ alone, and they rang so true that eyes were wet among the spectators.”

(‘New York Times’, 7 December 1930; p. 20).

The view that the prosecution had proved its case:

“…is not confined to Communists alone, but is believed almost integrally by the vast majority of the Russian people. .The foreign colony here (in Moscow – Ed..) is generally inclined to think that the prosecution succeeded in building up a pretty convincing foundation. . .

(‘New York Times’, 7 December 1930: Section III; p. 3).

Aftermath

Two years later, in 1932, Ramzin was amnestied:

“. . restored to office and to favour, and even awarded an Order.”

(Robert Conquest: ‘The Great Terror’; Harmondsworth; 1971; p. 225).

“A governmental decree amnestied Ramzin and eight other fellow convicts in the Industrial Party trial for their successful work on boiler design while in prison. Along with the decree was printed a letter of thanks for clemency, in which Ramzin and three others took note of the ‘solicitude for man that the NKVD had shown during their .. . . . imprisonment by providing all the conditions for continued scientific work.”

(Robert C. Tucker: op. cit.; p. 322).

“Subsequently, Professor Ramzin completed a number of valuable technical projects. . Ramzin received the State Prize of the USSR in 1943. He was also awarded the Order of Lenin and the Order of the Red Banner of Labour.”

(‘Great Soviet Encyclopedia’, Volume 21; New York; 1978; p. 134, 486).

Published by: THE MARXIST-LENINIST RESEARCH BUREAU, Ilford, Essex,

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

BRIAND, Aristide, French lawyer and politician (1862-1932); expelled from Socialist Party (1906); Minister of Education (1906-09); Premier 11 times between 1909 and 1931, most notably 1909-11, 1913, 1915-17 and 1921-22); Minister of Foreign Affairs in 14 successive governments between 1915 and 1931, most notably 1915-17, 1921-22 and 1925-31.

DETERDING, Henri W. A., Dutch oil magnate (1866-1939); Managing Director, Dutch Petroleum Co. (1902-07); Managing Director Royal Dutch Shell group (1907-36); retired (1937); died in Switzerland (1938).

KRASNOV, Pyotr N., Russian military officer (1869-1947); appointed by Kerensky to command troops in Petrograd sent to fight Bolsheviks (1917); to Germany (1919); organised Russian prisoners-of-war into army to fight Soviet forces (1941-45); tried for and found guilty of treason, sentenced to death and executed (1947).

KRYLENKO, Nikolay V., Soviet revisionist lawyer (1885-1938); RSFSR State Prosecutor (1918-31); RSFSR People’s Commissar of Justice (1931-36); USSR People’s Commissar of Justice (1936-38); arrested, tried for and found guilty of treason (1936); died in imprisonment (1938).

LAWRENCE, Thomas E., British soldier and intelligence officer (1883-1935); intelligence officer in North Africa (1914-16); adviser on Arab affairs to Colonial Office (1921-22); in Royal Air Force (1922-35); killed in motor-cycle accident (1935).

LUKOMSKY, Aleksandr S., Russian military officer (1868-1939); arrested by Provisional Government (1917); escaped from prison and fled with Kornilov (1917); Chief of Staff, White Volunteer Army (1918-19); to Constantinople as representative of Wrangel on Allied Council (1920); died in Paris (1939).

POINCARE, Raymond N. L., French politician (1860-1934); Minister of Education (1893, 1895); Minister of Finance (1894, 1906); Senator (1903); Premier (1911-13, 1922-24, 1926-29); President (1913-20).

RAMZIN, Leonid K., Soviet revisionist engineer (1887-1948); Professor, Moscow Higher Technical School (1920-21); Director, All-Union Heat Engineering Institute (1921-30); arrested, tried for and found guilty of espionage and treason (1930); imprisoned (1930-32); amnestied (1932); Professor, Moscow Power Engineering Institute (1944-48).

VYSHINSKY, Andrei I., Soviet Marxist-Leninist lawyer, diplomat and politician (1993-1954); Professor of Criminal Law, Moscow State Ijniversity (1923-25); Rector, Moscow State University (1925-28); RSFSR Public Prosecutor and People’s Commissaar of Justice (1939-33); USSR Public Prosecutor (1935-39); USSR Deputy Foreign Minister (1940-49, 1953); USSR Permanent Representative at UN (1945-49, 1953-54); Deputy Premier (1953); died in New York (1954).

WRANGEL, Pyotr N., Baron, Russian military officer (1878-1928); appointed commander, ~.Thite Russian armed forces (1917); commander-in-chief (1920); evacuated to Constantinople (1929); in exile in Western Europe (1920-28); died in Brussels (1928).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Chamberlin, William H.: ‘Russia’s Iron Age’; London; 1935.
Conquest, Robert: ‘The Great Terror; Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties’; Harmondsworth; 1871.
Fischer, Louis: ‘Machines and Men in Russia’; New York; 1932.
Holmes, Walter H.: ‘The Wreckers exposed in the Trial of the Counter-Revolutionary Industrial Party’; London; 1930.
Krylenko, Nikolay: ‘The Results of the “Industrial Party” Trial’; Moscow; 1931.
Rothstein, Andrew (Ed.): ‘Wreckers on Trial’; London; 1931.
Scheffer, Paul: ‘Seven Years in Soviet Russia’; London; 1931.
Tucker, Robert C.: ‘Stalin in Power: The Revolution from above: 1928-1941’; New York; 1990.
— : ‘Le proces des industriels de Moscou’ (The Trial of the Moscow Industrialists); Paris; 1931.
‘Great Soviet Encyclopedia’, Volume 21; New York; 1978.

‘New York Times
‘Times’.

Source

Marxist-Leninist Research Bureau: the Syrtsov/Lominadze Affair

Sergey Syrtsov

Sergey Syrtsov

Vissarion Lominadze

Vissarion Lominadze

The Formation of the Faction (1930)

In 1930 a new opposition faction emerged in the Party, led by Sergey Syrtsov*, then Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars (i.e., Prime Minister) of the Russian Federation, Vissarion (‘Beso’) Lominadze*, then 1st. Secretary of the Regional Party Committee in Transcaucasia. Another member of the faction was Ian Sten*. Syrtsov:

“headed the opposition bloc.”

(Heinrich E. Schwarz, Paul K. Urban & Andrew I. Lebed (Eds.): ‘Who was Who in the USSR’; Metuchen (USA); 1972; p. 531).

The faction took organised form after the 16th Party Congress, which was held in June/July 1930.:

“Three small groups are known to have conspired after the 16th Congress to bring about changes in policy. The first group comprised a number of fairly young members. . . . S. I. Syrtsov, the leader of the group, was Prime Minister of the RSFSP.”

(Ian Grey: ‘Stalin: Man of History’; London; 1979; p. 255).

“The bloc relied on the support of many secretaries and other local Comrades. A considerable portion of the younger members of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission . . . showed open sympathy for the demands made by the bloc. . . The former oppositionists were represented in the bloc by Sten, a former member of the Central Control Commission.”

(Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov: ‘Stalin and the Soviet Communist Party: A Study in the Technology of Power’; London; 1959;p. 19).

The Political Line of the Faction (1930)

The political line of the Syrtsov-Lominadze faction was one of right opposition to the policy of the Party:

“Syrtsov and Lominadze . . . found common ground in opposition to Stalin’s policies.”

(Robert H. Davies: ‘The Syrtsov-Lominadze Affair’, in: ‘Soviet Studies Volume 33, No. 1 (January 1981); p. 29).

It was essentially a rightist line, demanding that the Party adopt a ‘more moderate’ policy:

“Lominadze . . . . began circulating memoranda and lobbying for a more moderate policy.”

(Ronald C. Suny: ‘The Making of the Georgian Nation’; London; 1989; p. 251).

“In the late summer or fall of 1930, Lominadze had the Transcaucasian Regional Committee issue a declaration excoriating ‘the lordly feudal attitude towards the interests of the workers and peasants.”

(Ronald G. Suny: ibid.; p. 243).

Firstly, the faction denounced the Party’s economic policy as “adventurist,” demanding a slowdown in industrialization and a halt to collectivisation. For example, in the autumn of 1930:

“Syrtsov and Lominadze . . . circulated a memoir criticising the regime for economic adventurism.”

(Robert Conquest: ‘The Great Terror’; London; 1973 p. 51).

They declared that since:

“the pace of industrialisation was not supportable by existing physical resources, the number of capital projects must be reduced.”

“Syrtsov wanted a halt to collectivisation.”

(Robert W. Davies: op. cit.; p. 45).

It was at this time that Syrtsov:

“Made a speech calling for reduced rates of industrial investment.”

(Robert H. McNeal: ‘Stalin: Man and Ruler’; Basingstoke; 1988; p. 145).

Secondly, the faction denounced “excessive” centralised economic planning as ‘undemocratic’, and demanded that it be replaced, at least partially, by reliance on market forces. For example:

“In the late summer or fall of 1930, Lominadze had the Transcaucasian Regional Committee issue a declaration excoriating: ‘the lordly feudal attitude towards the needs and interests of the workers and peasants’.”

(Ronald C. Suny: op. cit.; p. 251).

This resolution:

“Closely accorded with the tenor of Syrtsov’s speech.'”

(Robert W. Davies: op. cit.; p. 41).

at the 16th Party Congress, and reflected:

“The common outlook of Syrtsov and Lominadze.”

(Robert W. Davies: ibid.; p. 42).

In place of centralised direction of production, the Syrtsov-Lominadze faction demanded that:

“The excessive centralisation and lack of initiative of the system must be curbed. .
Market incentives must be partly resuscitated.”

(Robert W. Davies: op. cit.; p. 45. 46).

Thirdly, the faction denounced as untrue the Party’s line that the USSR had entered the period of the construction of socialism.

In the Political Report to the 16th Congress in June 1930, Stalin said:

“We have achieved decisive successes in the struggle for the victory of socialist construction.”

(Josef V. Stalin: Political Report of the Central Committee to the 16th Congress of the CPSTU (b) (June 1930), in: ‘Works’, Volume 12; Moscow; 1955; p. 385).

However, later the same year Lominadze was insisting that:

“it is hardly possible to say that we have entered the period of socialism.”

(Vissarion V. Lominadze: in: ‘Problemy ekonomiki’ (Problems of Economics), Nos. 11-12, 1930, p. 4-5. cited in: Robert W. Davies: op. cit.; p. 35).

and Lominadze’s resolution referred to in the last paragraph:

“. . . took on Stalin directly when it challenged his declaration that the USSR had entered the period of socialist reconstruction”,

(Ronald C. Suny: op. cit.; p. 251-52).

Fourthly, from 1932 the faction called for the removal of Stalin as Party leader:

“In 1932 . . . memoranda on the need to depose him (Stalin — Ed.) from the post of General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party began to circulate in the highest quarters. Instrumental in the campaign to Oust Stalin were the leading Georgian . . . . Beso Lominadze . . . and Syrtsov, Premier of the Russian Federative SSR.”

(David M. Lang: ‘A Modern History of Georgia’; London; 1962; p. 252).

“Memoranda about the need to depose him (Stalin — Ed.) circulated in his immediate entourage. They were signed by Syrtsov and Lominadze.”

(Isaac Deutscher: ‘Stalin: A Political Biography’; London; 1967; p. 333).

The aim of the Syrtsov-Lominadze group was to bring about unity between the left and right oppositions:

“His (Syrtsov’s — Ed.) idea was to bridge the gulf between the left and right opopositions with a group to be known by the incongruous title of ‘Right-“Leftist”‘ bloc’.”

(Ian Grey: op. cit.; p. 255).

However, despite their similar policies, the most influential leaders of the right-wing opposition refused to associate themselves with the Syrtsov-Lominadze faction:

“Syrtsov , , tried to organise resistance (to the Party’s policy –Ed.), while the Right leaders were counselling patience.”

(Robert Conquest: op. cit. p. 206).

“The right-wing leaders did not associate themselves with Syrtsov and Lominadze; and Bukharin, in his declaration to the Central Committee dated 14 November, explicitly condemned the ‘Syrtsov-Lominadze group.”

(Robert W. Davies: op. cit.; p. 45).

Nevertheless:

“Zinoviev and his colleagues . . . and the Trotskyites . . formed a united bloc at the end of 1932. They had been joined also by the Lominadze group.”

(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 155).

The Demotions (1930)

“In 1930 Lominadze visited Syrtsov in Moscow, and for several hours they had a conversation about Party and state affairs. Stalin learned about the conversation.”

(Roy A. Medvedev: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism’; London; 1971; p. 142).

According to Trotsky’s “Bulletin of the Opposition”:

“When a search was carried out of Syrtsov’s quarters, minutes of meetings were found which made it possible to uncover the bloc.”

(‘Byelletin Oppozitsy’; (Bulletin of the Opposition), Nos. 17-18 (November/December 1930); p. 39).

“Stalin moved against these opponents (the Syrtsov/Lominadze group –Ed.) in October-December 1930.”

(Robert H. McNeal: op. cit.; p. 145).

On 3 November 1930, Syrtsov was dismissed as Russian Premier, and:

“Demoted to director of a factory producing gramophone records.”

(Roy A. Medvedev: op. cit.; p. 142).

while:

“Lominadze was transferred from the Transcaucasian Regional Committee to work in the Commissariat of Trade, and then was sent to Magnitogorsk as secretary of the city’s Party committee.”

(Roy A. Medvedev: ibid.; p. 142).

On 1 December 1930 a joint resolution of the Political Bureau and Central Control Commission of the Party removed both Syrtsov and Lominadze from the Central Committee of the Party:

“In November-December 1930, the members of this group — Syrtsov, Lominadze, Shatskin, . . . — were publicly branded as ‘rightists and followers of Rykov* and Tomsky*’ and excluded from the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party.”

(Babette L. Gross: ‘The German Communists’ United-Front and Popular-Front Ventures’, in: Milorad M. Drachkovich & Branko Lazitch (Eds.): ‘The Comintern: Historical Highlights: Essays, Recollections, Documents’; Stanford (USA); 1966; p. 390-91).

“Syrtsov and . . . Lominadze were stripped of their official posts and thrown off the Central Committee”

(Adam B. Ulam: ‘Stalin: The Man and His Era’; London; 1989; p. 341-42).

The resolution charged Syrtsov with having:

“organised an underground anti-Party group”;

(‘Pravda’, 2 December 1930, in: Robert W. Davies: op. cit.; p. 43).

and Lominadze with having:

“headed for a considerable period a factional anti-Party group.”

(‘Pravda’, 2 December 1930, in: Robert W. Davies: ibid.; p. 43).

According to a “Letter from Moscow” in Trotsky’s ‘Bulletin of the Opposition’:

“Syrtsov, when accused of forming a bloc, bluntly told the Central Committee that Stalin was ‘a thick-headed man who is leading the country to ruin’.”

(‘Byulletin Oppozitsy’ (Bulletin of the Opposition), No. 19, March 1931; p. 18).

Lominadze’s Self-Criticism (1934)

At the 17th Party Congress in January/February 1934, Lominadze was one of many former Opposition leaders who made insincere self-critical statements:

“The line they took was one of complete Stalinist orthodoxy, replete with compliments to the General Secretary and abuse of his enemies.”

(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 63-64).

in which he:

“admitted that he had been wrong to dispute Stalin’s claim that the USSR had entered the period of socialism. The bloc . . . had overestimated difficulties.”

(Vissarion Lominadze: Speech at 17th Congress of CPSU, in: Robert W. Davies: ibid.; p. 44).

and admitted engaging in factional activity directed against the Party leadership:

“We concealed our views from the Party, struggled by stealth and entered the path of deception of the Party. . Like every opposition, the Right-‘Leftist’ bloc came out against the leadership of our Party, against the leader of the Party, Comrade Stalin.”

(Vissarion Lominadze: Speech at 17th Congress of CPSU, in: Robert W. Davies: ibid.; p. 44).

The Arrest of Syrtsov (1935)

In 1935, Syrtsov was arrested, charged with and found guilty of treason, and sentenced to a long term of imprisonment.

The Suicide of Lominadze (1935)

By this time, the authorities had come to realise that Lominadze’s self-criticism had not been sincere, and he was summoned to the district capital, Cheliabinsk. Realising that his treasonable activity had been discovered, he committed suicide:

“Beso Lominadze, who had been allowed to redeem himself and had been appointed secretary of the important Magnitogorsk Party committee, suddenly fell from grace. When he was abruptly summoned to Chelyabinsk by the authorities, he shot himself.”

(Ronald C. Suny: op. cit.; p. 271).

Medvedev confirms this:

“Lominadze was summoned to Cheliabinsk. He shot himself in an automobile on the way.”

(Roy A. Medvedev: op. cit.; p. 167).

The Kamenev/Zinoviev Trial (1936)

At his trial, along with Lev Kamenev* and Grigory Zinoviev*, in August 1936, the terrorist Vagarshak Ter-Vaganyan* testified:

“In the autumn of 1931, my very close connection and friendship with Lominadze began. I met Lominadze frequently, and on these occasions we talked about a bloc.
At that period, the Trotskyites began negotiations for union with the Zinovievites and the ‘Leftists’ (i.e., the Syrtsov/Lominadze group -Ed.). . . . The terroristic stand was perfectly clear.”

(‘Report of Court Proceedings: The Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Centre;’ Moscow; 1936; p. 110).

And the defendant Sergey Mrachovsky* named Lominadze as one of the members:

“of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite terrorist centre.”

(‘Report of Court Proceedings: The Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Centre;’ Moscow; 1936; p. 440).

Published by: THE MARXIST-LENINIST RESEARCH BUREAU,
Ilford, Essex.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

KAMENEV, Lev B., Soviet revisionist politician (1883-1936); Chairman, Moscow Soviet (1919-25); RSFSR Premier (1919); member, Political Bureau (1919-25); RSFSR Deputy Premier (1923); Ambassador to Italy (1926-27); joined ‘United Opposition’ (1926); expelled from Party (1927), readmitted (1928), re-expelled (1932), readmitted (1933), re-expelled (1934); tried for and found guilty of moral complicity in murder of Sergey Kirov and imprisoned (1934); tried for and found guilty of treason and executed (1936).

LOMINADZE, Vissarion (‘Beso’) V., Soviet revisionist politician (1891-1935); secretary, CP of Georgia (1922-24); secretary, Communist Youth International (1925-26); 1st Secretary, Transcaucasian Regional Party Committee (1930); head, Scientific Research Section, USSR People’s Commissariat of Supplies (1931-32); secretary, Magnitogorsk City Party

MRACHOVSKY, Sergey V., Soviet revisionist politician (1888-1930); expelled from Party for factionalism (1927); reinstated in Party and again expelled (1936); arrested, tried, found guilty of treason and executed (1936).

RYKOV, Aleksey I., Soviet revisionist politician (1881-1938); RSFSR People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs (1917); Chairman, Supreme Council of the National Economy (1918-21); RSFSR Deputy Premier (1918-21); member, Political Bureau, CPSU (1922-1930); USSR Premier (1924-30); USSR People’s Commissar of Posts and Telegraphs (1931-36); expelled from Party (1937);
arrested, tried for and found guilty of treason and executed (1938).

SHATSKIN, Lazar A., Soviet revisioist politician (1902-37); 1st Secretary, All-Russian Young Communist League (1918-22); removed from Central Control Commission, CPSU for siding with the Leftist-Rightist bloc (1931); expelled from Party (1935); arrested, tried, found guilty of
treason and imprisoned (1936); died in imprisonment (1937).

STEN, Ian, Soviet revisionist politician (1899-1937); Director, Marx-Engels Institute (1929-32); expelled from Party (1932); arrested (1936); tried for and found guilty of treason and executed (1937).

SYRTSOV, Sergey I., Soviet revisionist politician (1893-1937); editor, ‘Kommunisticheskaia revoliutsya’ (Communist Revolution); Secretary, Siberian Regional Party Committee (1926-29); Premier, RSFSR (1929-30); removed from Central Committee for factionalism (1930); director, Nogin Chemical Plant (1931-36); arrested, tried, found guilty of treason and imprisoned (1936); died in prison (1937).

TER-VAGANYAN Vagarshak A., Soviet revisionist politician (1893-1936); arrested, tried, found guilty of terrorism and executed (1936).

TOMSKY, Mikhail P., Soviet revisionist trade union leader and politician (1880-1936); member, Political Bureau, RCP/CPSU (1922-29); Chairman, All-Russian Central Council of Trade Unions (1921-28); Director, Joint State Publishing House (1928-36); committed suicide to avoid trial for
treason (1936).

ZINOVIEV, Grigory E., Soviet revisionist politician (1883-1936); Chairman,
Petrograd Soviet (1917); member, Political Bureau, RCP/CPSU (1921-26); Chairman, Comintern (1919-26); removed from all posts (1926); expelled from Party; arrested, tried for and found guilty of moral complicity in murder of Sergey Kirov and imprisoned (1935); tried for and found guilty of treason, and executed (1936).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Avtorkhanov, Abdurakhman: ‘Stalin and the Soviet Communist Party: A Study in the Technology of Power’; London; 1959.

Conquest, Robert: ‘The Great Terror’; London; 1973.

Davies, Robert W.: “The Syrtsov-Lominadze Affair’, in: ‘Soviet Studies’, Volume 33, No. 1 (January 1981).

Deutscher, Isaac: ‘Stalin: A Political Biography’; London; 1967. Drachkovich, Milorad M. & Lazitch, Branko (Eds.): ‘The Comintern: Historical

Highlights: Essays, Recollections, Documents’; Stanford (USA); 1966. Grey, Ian: ‘Stalin: Man of History’; London; 1979.

Kuromiya, Hiroaki: ‘Stalin’s Industrial Revolution: Politics and Workers’; Cambridge; 1990.

Lang, David N.: ‘A Modern History of Georgia’; London; 1962.

McNeal, Robert H.: ‘Stalin: Man and Ruler’; Basingstoke; 1988,

Medvedey, Roy A.: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalin;’; London; 1971.

Schwarz, Heinrich E., Urban, Paul K. & Lebed, Andrew I. (Eds.): ‘Who was Who in the USSR’; Metuchen (USA); 1972.

Stalin, Josef V.: Political Report of the Central Committee to the 16th Congress of the CPSU(b), in: ‘Works’, Volume 12; Moscow; 1955.

Suny, Ronald C.: ‘The Making of the Georgian Nation’; London; 1989.

Ulam, Adam B.: ‘Stalin: The Man and His Era’; London; 1989.

‘Buylletin Oppositzy’ (Bulletin of the Opposition), Nos. 17-18 (November/December 1930).
No. 19, March 1931.

‘Report of Court Proceedings: The Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Centre’; Moscow; 1936.

Source

Marxist-Leninist Research Bureau: the Ryutin Case (1930-37)

Martemyan Ryutin

Martemyan Ryutin

The Ryutin Platform (1930)

In August 1930 Opposition circles circulated a:

“200 page treatise that reflected the Right’s anti-Stalin position and became known in Party circles as the ‘Ryutin Platform'”

(Robert C. Tucker: ‘Stalin in Power: The Revolution from above: 1928- 1941’; London; 1990; p. 211).

The document bore the name of Martemyan Ryutin*, who was at the time:

“Secretary of the Krasnaya Presnya district Party committee in Moscow, a member of the editorial board of ‘Krasnaya Zvezda’ (Red Star) and a candidate member of the Central Committee”,

(Dmitry Volkogonov: ‘Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy’; London; 1991; p. 205).

However, both Bukharin and Rykov, when testifying as defendants in the 1938 Moscow treason trial later admitted, that this was a device to conceal its real authorship by the leadership of the Opposition:

“RYKOV: The platform was called after Ryutin, because it was published by supporters of the Rights, the Ryutin group, from Uglanov’s* Moscow organisation. During the investigation instituted in connection with this platform, this group took the whole responsibility upon itself. This had been decided beforehand, so that we should not be called to account for the platform. We managed to do this thanks to the fact that Yagoda* was at the head of the OGPU”.

(Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’; Moscow; 1938; (hereafter listed as ‘Report: 1938’); p. 163).

“BUKHARIN: It was called the ‘Ryutin Platform’ for reasons of secrecy. …….in order to conceal the Right centre and its top leadership…… ……The Ryutin platform, . . . the platform of the Right counterrevolutionary organisation, was perhaps already a common platform of the other groups, including the Kamenev*, Zinoviev* and Trotskyite groupings.”

(Report (1938): op. cit.; p. 388, 389).

The Ryutin Platform declared:

“The Right wing has proved correct in the economic field and Trotsky in his criticism of the system in the Party.”

(Martemyan Ryutin: The Ryutin Platform, in: Anton Ciliga: ‘The Russian Enigma’; London; 1940; p. 279).

It:

“Urged the immediate readmission (to the Party — Ed.) of all those expelled, including Trotsky”.

(Martemyan Ryutin: The Ryutin Platform, in: Robert Conquest: ‘The Great Terror: A Re-assessment’; London; 1990 (hereafter listed as ‘Robert Conquest (1990)’; p. 24).

and it described Stalin as:

“The evil genius of the Revolution who, motivated by a personal desire for power and revenge, brought the Revolution to the verge of ruin.”

(Martemyan Ryutin: The Ryutin Platform. in: Boris I. Nikolaevsky: ‘Power and the Soviet Elite: “The Letter of an Old Bolshevik” and Other Essays’; New York; 1965; p. 11).

In December 1930:

“The Presidium of the Central Control Commission of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) . . expelled Ryutin from the Party for ‘double-dealing’ and ‘discrediting the Party leadership”‘.

(Arkady Vaksberg: ‘The Prosecutor and the Prey: Vyshinsky and the 1930s Moscow Show Trials’;’ London; 1990; p. 56).

The First Arrest of Ryutin (1930-31)

In January 1931:

“Ryutin . . . was arrested”,

(Robert Conquest (1990): op. cit.; p. 24).

and charged with:

“Organising a counter-revolutionary group and anti-Soviet agitation.”

(Arkady Vaksberg: op. cit.; p. 57).

but:

“By a resolution of the OGPU board of 17 January 1931, Ryutin was acquitted ‘on account of insufficient proof of the charge brought against him.”

(Arkady Vaksberg: op. cit.; p. 56-57).

and was:

“even readmitted to the Party with a warning”.

(Robert Conquest: ‘Stalin: Breaker of Nations’; London; 1991 (hereafter listed as ‘Robert Conquest (1991)’; p. 161).

The Ryutin Manifesto (1932)

In June 1932:

“Ryutin and a group of minor officials wrote an ‘Appeal to All Members of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks)’ in the name of an All-Union Conference of the Union of Marxist-Leninists’.”

(Robert Conquest: (1990): op. cit.; p. 24).

This 14-page document, was known as:

“Ryutin’s Manifesto.”

(Arkady Vaksberg: op. cit.; p. 332).

In it, Ryutin alleged that:

“lawlessness, arbitrary rule and violence, constant threats are hanging over the head of every worker and peasant. . . . Science literature, art, have been reduced to the status of lowly maidservants and props of Stalin’s leadership. The struggle against opportunism has been debased, caricatured and used as a weapon of slander and terror against independent-minded Party members. The rights of the Party laid down by the Statutes have been usurped by a tiny bunch of unprincipled intriguers.”

(Martemyan Ryutin, in: Arkady Vaksberg: p. 56).

It declared that:

“It is disgraceful and ignominious for proletarian revolutionaries to tolerate Stalin’s yoke, arbitrary rule and the mockery of the Party and the working masses any longer. .
Stalin and his clique are destroying the cause of Communism, and an end must be put to Stalin’s leadership as soon as possible.”

(Martemyan Ryutin, in: Arkady Vaksberg: p. 58).

Thus, the Ryutin Manifesto was:

“Essentially a proclamation calling for the overthrow of Stalin and his clique.”

(Arkady Vaksberg: op. cit.; p. 332).

It declared that:

“Stalin and his clique will not and cannot voluntarily give up their positions, so they must be removed by force . . . as soon as possible.”

(Martemyan Ryutin: The Ryutin Manifesto, in: Robert Conquest (1990): op. cit.; p. 24).

Not unnaturally:

“Stalin interpreted the Appeal as a call for his assassination”;

(Robert Conquest (1990): op. cit.; p. 24).

and defendants in the 1938 Moscow treason trial admitted that the Ryutin Manifesto marked the transition on the part of the Opposition to the tactics of violent counter-revolution and terrorism. According to Aleksey Rykov*, the Ryutin Manifesto

“recognised . . . methods of violence in changing the leadership of the Party and of the country – terrorism and uprisings”,

(Aleksey Rykov: Testimony at 1938 Moscow Treason Trial, in: ‘Report’ (1938); op. cit.; p. 163).

while Nikolay Bukharin* testified that the Ryutin Manifesto:

“registered the transition to the tactics of overthrowing the Soviet power by force.”

(Nikolay Bukharin: ibid.; p. 390).

and that its the essential points:

“were a palace coup’, terrorism”;

(Nikolay Bukharin: ibid.; p. 390).

The Second Arrest of Ryutin (1932)

At a joint meeting of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission of the CPSU in September/October 1932. the Ryutin group (including Uglanov):

“was expelled from the Party”;

(Robert C. Tucker: op. cit.; p. 211).

“As degenerates who have become enemies of Communism and the Soviet regime, as traitors to the Party and the working class who, under the flag of a spurious Marxism-Leninism’, have attempted to create a bourgeois-kulak organisation for the restoration of capitalism, and particularly kulakism, in the USSR’.”

(Resolution of Joint Meeting of CC and CCC of CPSU, (September/October 1932), in: Robert Conquest (1990): op. cit.; p. 26).

The members of the Ryutin group were then arrested and charged with:

“trying to form a ‘counter-revolutionary bourgeois-kulak organisation’, whose purpose was to restore capitalism in the USSR.”

(Mikhail Heller & Aleksandr Nekrich: ‘Utopia in Power: The History of the Soviet Union from 1917 to the Present’; London; 1986; p. 246).

All the defendants in the Ryutin case were found guilty and:

” . . were . . . given prison terms.”

(Adam B, Ulam: ‘Stalin: The Man and His Era’; London; 1989; p. 349).

Ryutin himself:

“. . got off with a ten-year term.”

(Robert C. Tucker: op. cit.; p. 212).

“Ryutin got ten years.”

(Dmitri Volkogonov: op. cit.;p. 206).

Ryutin’s Third Trial (1937)

In January 1937, in the light of new evidence, Ryutin — still serving his sentence — was retried before the Military Tribunal of the USSR Supreme Soviet, this time on the more serious charge of treason. (Arkady Vaksberg: op. cit.; p. 333).

Ryutin refused to plead or to speak in his defence:

“According to the records of the proceedings:

‘The accused declared that he did not wish to reply to the question of whether he pleaded guilty and in general refused to give any evidence on the charges brought against him. The accused was given the final word in which he said nothing”.

(Arkady Vaksberg: ibid.; p. 333).

He was found guilty, and this time sentenced to death and executed. (Robert C. Tucker: op. cit.; p. 212).

Published by: THE MARXIST-LENINIST RESEARCH BUREAU, Ilford, Essex.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Ciliga. Anton: ‘The Russian Enigma’; London; 1940.

Conquest, Robert: ‘Stalin: Breaker of Nations’; London; 1991.

Conquest, Robert: ‘The Great Terror: A Re-assessment’; London; 1990.

Heller, Mikhail & Nekrich, Aleksandr: ‘Utopia in Power: The History of the Soviet Union from 1917 to the Present; London; 1986.

Nikolaevsky, Boris I.: ‘Power and the Soviet Elite: “The Letter of an Old Bolshevik” and Other Essays’; New York; 1965.

Tucker, Robert C.: ‘Stalin in Power: The Revolution from above: 1928-1941’; New York; 1990.

Ulam, Adam B.: ‘Stalin: The Man and His Era’; London; 1989.

Vaksberg, Arkady: ‘The Prosecutor and the Prey: Vyshinsky and the 1930s Moscow Show Trials’; London; 1990.

Volkogonov, Dinitri: ‘Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy’; London; 1991.

“Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Centre; Moscow; 1937,

Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites; Moscow; 1938.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

BUKHARIN, Nikolay I., Soviet revisionist journalist and politician (188~ 1938); editor, ‘Pravda’ (191~29); editor, ‘Bolshevik’ (1924-29); member, Political Bureau1 CPSU (1924-29); President, Communist International (1926-29); expelled from Party (1929); readmitted to Party (1934); editor, ‘Izvestia’ (1934-37); arrested (1937); tried for, and found guilty of, treason, and executed (1938).

KAMENEV, Lev B., Soviet revisionist politician (1883-1936); Chairman, Moscow Soviet, and simultaneously member. Political Bureau, RCP/CPSU (1919-25); USSR Ambassador to Italy (192~27); expelled from Party (1927); readmitted to Party (1928); re-expelled from Party (1932); arrested (1935); tried for and found guilty of ‘moral complicity’ in murder of Sergey Kirov and sentenced to imprisonment (1935); tried for and found guilty of actual complicity in murder of Sergey Kirov, and treason, sentenced to death and executed (1936).

RYKOV, Aleksey I, Soviet revisionist politician (1881-1938); Chairman, Supreme Council of National Economy (1918-27); member, Political Bureau, CPSU (1922-30); USSR Premier (1924-29); USSR People’s Commissar of Posts and Telegraphs (1931-36); expelled from Party and arrested (1937); tried for and found guilty of treason, sentenced to death and executed (1938).

RYUTIN, Martemyan, Soviet revisionist economist (1898-1937); District Party Secretary, Irkutsk (1920-26); District Party Secretary, Krasnaya Presnya, Moscow and editor, ‘Krasnaya Zvezda’ (192~30); expelled from Party (1930); acquitted of counter-revolutionary activity and re-admitted to Party (1931); and imprisoned (1931); published ‘Ryutin Manifesto’ for Opposition (1932); re-expelled from Party (1932); arrested, tried for and found guilty of counter-revolutionary activity, sentenced to imprisonment (1932); re-tried for, and found guilty of, treason, sentenced to death and executed (1937).

UGLANOV, Nikolay A., Soviet revisionist politician (1886-1940); secretary, Nizhny Noygorod Party Committee (1922-24); secretary, Moscow Party Committee (1924-28); USSR People’s Commissar of Labour (1928-30); expelled from Party for involvement in Ryutin Case (1932); re-admitted to Party (1934); re-expelled from Party, tried for and found guilty of counter-revolutionary activity, and sentenced to imprisonment (1936); died in imprisonment (1940).

YACODA, Genrikh C., Soviet revisionist politician (1891-1936); USSR People’s Comissar of Internal Affairs (1934-36); arrested (1937); tried for and found guilty of treason, sentenced to death and executed (1938).

ZINOVIEV, Grigory E., Soviet revisionist politician (1883-1936); President, Comunist International (1919-26); member, Political Bureau, RCP/CPSU (1921-26); expelled from Party (1927); re-admitted to Party (1928); re-expelled (1932); re-admitted (1933); re-expelled (1934); arrested (1935); tried for and found guilty of ‘moral complicity’ in murder of Sergey Kirov, and imprisoned (1935); tried for and found guilty of actual complicity in murder of Kirov, and treason, sentenced to death and executed (1938).

Source

Stalin Society: The Katyn Massacre

Nazi propaganda poster depicting executions of Polish military officers by the Soviets, with caption in Slovak: "Forest of the dead at Katyn"

Nazi propaganda poster depicting executions of Polish military officers by the Soviets, with caption in Slovak: “Forest of the dead at Katyn”

by Ella Rule
July 2002

At the end of the First World War, the boundary between Russia and Poland was settled as being along a line which became known as the Curzon line – Lord Curzon being the British statesman who had proposed it.

This demarcation line was not to the liking of the Poles, who soon went to war against the Soviet Union in order to push their borders further eastward. The Soviet Union counter-attacked and were prepared not only to defend themselves but, against Stalin’s advice, to liberate the whole of Poland. Stalin considered such an aim to be doomed to failure because, he said, Polish nationalism had not yet run its course. The Poles were determined NOT to be liberated so there was no point in trying. Hence the Poles put up fierce resistance to Soviet advances. Ultimately the Soviet Union was forced to retreat and even cede territory to the east of the Curzon line to Poland. The areas in question were Western Byelorussia and the western Ukraine – areas populated overwhelmingly by Byelorussians and Ukrainians respectively rather than by Poles. The whole incident could not but exacerbate the mutual dislike of the Poles and the Russians.

On 1 September 1939, Nazi German invaded Poland. On 17 September, the Soviet Union moved to reoccupy those parts of Poland that lay east of the Curzon line. Having taken over those areas, the Soviet Union set about distributing land to the peasants and bringing about the kind of democratic reforms so popular with the people and so unpopular with the exploiters. During the battle to retake the areas east of the Curzon line, the Soviet Union captured some 10,000 Polish officers, who became prisoners of war. These prisoners were then held in camps in the disputed area and put to work road building, etc.

Two years later, on 22 June 1941, Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union by surprise. The Red Army was forced hurriedly to retreat and the Ukraine was taken over by the Germans. During this hurried retreat it was not possible to evacuate to the Soviet interior the Polish prisoners of war. The chief of camp no. 1, Major Vetoshnikov gave evidence that he had applied to the chief of traffic of the Smolensk section of the Western Railway to be provided with railway cars for the evacuation of the Polish prisoners but was told it was unlikely to be possible. Engineer Ivanov, who had been the Chief of Traffic in the region at the time, confirmed there had been no railway cars to spare. “Besides, ” he said, “we could not send cars to the Gussino line, where the majority of the Polish prisoners were, since that line was already under fire”. The result was that, following the Soviet retreat from the area, the Polish prisoners became prisoners of the Germans.

In April 1943, the Hitlerites announced that the Germans had found several mass graves in the Katyn Forest near Smolensk, containing the bodies of thousands of Polish officers allegedly murdered by the Russians.

This announcement was designed to further undermine the co-operation efforts of Poles and Soviets to defeat the Germans. The Russo-Polish alliance was always difficult because the Polish government in exile, based in London, was obviously a government of the exploiting classes. They had to oppose the Germans because of the latter’s cynical takeover of their country for lebensraum. The Soviet Union’s position was that so long as the Soviet Union could retain the land east of the Curzon line, they had no problem with the re-establishment of a bourgeois government in Poland. But the alliance was already in difficulties because the Polish government in exile, headed by General Sikorski, based in London, would not agree to the return of that land. This is in spite of the fact that in 1941 after Hitler invaded Poland, the Soviet Union and the Polish government in exile had not only established diplomatic relations but had also agreed that the Soviet Union would finance “under the orders of a chief appointed by the Polish government-in-exile but approved by the Soviet government ” the formation of a Polish army – this chief being, in the event, the thoroughly anti-Soviet General Anders (a prisoner of the Soviets from 1939). By 25 October 1941 this Army had 41,000 men including 2,630 officers. General Anders, however, eventually refused to fight on the Soviet-German front because of the border dispute between the Soviet Union and Poland, and the Polish army had to be sent elsewhere to fight – i.e., Iran.

Nevertheless, despite the hostility of the Polish government in exile, there was a significant section of Poles resident in the Soviet Union who were not anti-Soviet and did accept the Soviet claim to the territories east of the Curzon line. Many of them were Jewish. These people formed the Union of Polish Patriots which put together the backbone of an alternative Polish government in exile.

The Nazi propaganda relating to the Katyn massacres was designed to make it impossible for the Soviets to have any dealings with the Poles at all. General Sikorski took up the Nazi propaganda with a vengeance, claiming to Churchill that he had a “wealth of evidence”. How he had obtained this “evidence” simultaneously with the German announcement of this supposed Soviet atrocity is not clear, although it speaks loudly of secret collaboration between Sikorski and the Nazis. The Germans had made public their allegations on 13 April. On 16 April the Soviet government issued an official communiqué denying “the slanderous fabrications about the alleged mass shootings by Soviet organs in the Smolensk area in the spring of 1940”. It added:

“The German statement leaves no doubt about the tragic fate of the former Polish prisoners of war who, in 1941, were engaged in building jobs in areas west of Smolensk and who, together with many Soviet people, fell into the hands of the German hangmen after the withdrawal of Soviet troops.”

The Germans had in fabricating their story decided to embellish it with an anti-Semitic twist by claiming to be able to name Soviet officials in charge of the massacre, all of whom had Jewish names. On 19 April Pravda responded:

“Feeling the indignation of the whole of progressive humanity over their massacre of peaceful citizens and particularly of Jews, the Germans are now trying to arouse the anger of gullible people against the Jews. For this reason they have invented a whole collection of ‘Jewish commissars’ who, they say, took part in the murder of the 10,000 Polish officers. For such experienced fakers it was not difficult to invent a few names of people who never existed – Lev Rybak, Avraam Brodninsky, Chaim Fineberg. No such persons ever existed either in the ‘Smolensk section of the OGPU’ or in any other department of the NLVD…”

The insistence of Sikorski in endorsing the German propaganda led to the complete breakdown in relations between the London Polish government in exile and the Soviet government – as to which Goebbels commented in his diary:

“This break represents a one-hundred-per-cent victory for German propaganda and especially for me personally … we have been able to convert the Katyn incident into a highly political question.”

At the time the British press condemned Sikorski for his intransigence:

The Times of 28 April 1943 wrote:

“Surprise as well as regret will be felt by those who have had so much cause to understand the perfidy and ingenuity of the Goebbels propaganda machine should themselves have fallen into the trap laid by it. Poles will hardly have forgotten a volume widely circulated in the first winter of the war which described with every detail of circumstantial evidence, including that of photography, alleged Polish atrocities against the peaceful German inhabitants of Poland.”

What lay at the basis of Sikorski’s insistence that the massacre had been carried out by the Soviets rather than the Germans was the dispute over the territory east of the Curzon line. Sikorski was trying to use the German propaganda to mobilise western imperialism behind Poland’s claim to that territory, to try to force them out of the position, as he saw it, of taking the Soviet Union’s side on the issue of this border dispute.

If one reads bourgeois sources today, they all assert that the Soviet Union was responsible for the Katyn massacre, and they do so with such assurance and consistency that in trying to argue the contrary one feels like a Nazi revisionist trying to deny Hitler’s slaughter of Jews. After the Soviet Union collapsed, Gorbachov was even enrolled on this disinformation campaign and produced material allegedly from the Soviet archives which ‘proved’ that the Soviets committed the atrocity and, of course, that they did so on Stalin’s orders. Well, we know the interest that the Gorbachovs of this world have in demonising Stalin. Their target is not so much Stalin as socialism. Their purpose in denigrating socialism is to restore capitalism and bring lives of luxurious parasitism to themselves and their hangers-on at the cost of mass suffering among the Soviet peoples. Their cynicism matches that of the German Nazis and it is hardly surprising to find them singing from the same hymn sheet.

Bourgeois sources blithely claim that Soviet evidence in support of blaming the Germans for the atrocity was either totally absent or based purely on hearsay evidence of terrorised inhabitants of the region. They don’t mention one piece of evidence which even Goebbels had to admit was a bit of a bummer from his point of view. He wrote in his diary on 8 May 1943,

“Unfortunately, German ammunition has been found in the graves at Katyn … It is essential that this incident remains a top secret. If it were to come to the knowledge of the enemy the whole Katyn affair would have to be dropped. “

In 1971 there was correspondence in The Times suggesting the Katyn massacres could not have been done by the Germans since they went in for machine gunning and gas chambers rather than despatching prisoners in the way the Katyn victims had been killed, i.e., by a shot in the back of the head. A former German solider then living in Godalming, Surrey, intervened in this correspondence:

“As a German soldier, at that time convinced of the righteousness of our cause, I have taken part in many battles and actions during the Russian campaign. I have not been to Katyn nor to the forest nearby. But I well remember the hullabaloo when the news broke in 1943 about the discovery of the ghastly mass grave near Katyn, which area was then threatened by the Red Army.

“Josef Goebbels, as the historic records show, has fooled many people. After all, that was his job and few would dispute his almost complete mastery of it. What is surprising indeed, however, is that it still shows evidence in the pages of The Times thirty odd years later. Writing from experience I do not think that at that late time of the war Goebbels managed to fool many German soldiers in Russia on the Katyn issue … German soldiers knew about the shot in the back of the head all right … we German soldiers knew that the Polish officers were despatched by none other than our own. “

Moreover, very many witnesses came forward to attest to the presence of Polish prisoners in the region after the Germans had taken it over.

Maria Alexandrovna Sashneva, a local primary school teacher, gave evidence to a Special commission set up by the Soviet Union in September 1943, immediately after the area was liberated from the Germans, to the effect that in August 1941, two months after Soviet withdrawal, she had hidden a Polish war prisoner in her house. His name had been Juzeph Lock, and he had spoken to her of ill-treatment suffered by Polish prisoners under the Germans:

“When the Germans arrived they seized the Polish camp and instituted a strict regime in it. The Germans did not regard the Poles as human beings. They oppressed and outraged them in every way. On some occasions Poles were shot without any reason at all. He decided to escape…”

Several other witnesses gave evidence that they had seen the Poles during August and September 1941 working on the roads.

Moreover, witnesses also testified to round-ups by the Germans of escaped Polish prisoners in the autumn of 1941. Danilenko, a local peasant, was among several witnesses who testified to this.

“Special round ups were held in our place to catch Polish war prisoners who had escaped. Some searches took place in my house 2 or 3 times. After one such search I asked the headman .. whom they were looking for in our village. [He] said that an order had been received from the German Kommandatur according to which searches were to be made in all houses without exception, since Polish war prisoners who had escaped from the camp were hiding in our village. “

Obviously the Germans did not shoot the Poles in full sight of local witnesses, but there is nonetheless significant evidence from local people as to what was happening. One witness was Alexeyeva who had been detailed by the headman of her village to serve the German personnel at a country house in the section of the Katyn Forest known as Kozy Gory, which had been the rest home of the Smolensk administration of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs. This house was situated some 700 metres from where the mass graves were found. Alexeyeva said:

“At the close of August and during most of September 1941 several trucks used to come practically every day to the Kozy Gory country house. At first I paid no attention to that, but later I noticed that each time these trucks arrived at the grounds of the country house they stopped for half an hour, and sometimes for a whole hour, somewhere on the country road connecting the country house with the highway. I drew this conclusion because some time after these trucks reached the grounds of the country house the noise they made would cease.

“Simultaneously with the noise stopping single shots would be heard. The shots followed each other at short but approximately even intervals. Then the shooting would die down and the trucks would drive right up to the country house. German soldiers and NCOs came out of the trucks. Talking noisily they went to wash in the bathhouse, after which they engaged in drunken orgies.

“On days when the trucks arrived more soldiers from some German military units used to arrive at the country house. Special beds were put up for them… Shortly before the trucks reached the country house armed soldiers went to the forest evidently to the spot where the trucks stopped because in half an hour they returned in these trucks, together with the soldiers who lived permanently in the country house.

“…On several occasions I noticed stains of fresh blood on the clothes of two Lance Corporals. From all this I inferred that the Germans brought people in the truck to the country house and shot them.”

Alexeyeva also discovered that the people being shot were Polish prisoners.

“Once I stayed at the country house somewhat later than usual… Before I finished the work which had kept me there, a soldier suddenly entered and told me I could go … He … accompanied me to the highway.

“Standing on the highway 150 or 200 metres from where the road branches off to the country house I saw a group of about 30 Polish war prisoners marching along the highway under heavy German escort… I halted near the roadside to see where they were being led, and I saw that they turned towards our country house at Kozy Gory.

“Since by that time I had begun to watch closely everything going on at the country house, I became interested. I went back some distance along the highway, hid in bushes near the roadside, and waited. In some 20 or 30 minutes I heard the familiar single shots. “

The other two requisitioned maids at the country house, Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya, gave supporting evidence. Other residents of the area gave similar evidence.

Basilevsky, director of the Smolensk observatory, was appointed deputy burgomeister to Menshagin, a Nazi collaborator. Basilevsky was trying to secure the release from German custody of a teacher, Zhiglinsky, and persuaded Menshagin to speak to the German commander of the region, Von Schwetz, about this matter. Menshagin did so but reported back it was impossible to secure this release because “instructions had been received from Berlin prescribing the strictest regime be maintained. “

Basilevsky then recounted his conversation with Menshagin:

“I involuntarily retorted ‘Can anything else be stricter than the regime existing at the camp?’ Menshagin looked at me in a strange way and bending to my ear, answered in a low voice: yes, there can be! The Russians can at least be left to die off, but as to the Polish war prisoners, the orders say they are to be simply exterminated. “

After liberation Menshagin’s notebook was found written in his own handwriting, as confirmed by expert graphologists. Page 10, dated 15 August 1941, notes:

“All fugitive war prisoners are to be detained and delivered to the commandant’s office. “

This in itself proves the Polish prisoners were still alive at that time. On page 15, which is undated, the entry appears: “Are there any rumours among the population concerning the shooting of Polish war prisoners in Kozy Gory (for Umnov) ” (Umnov was the Chief of the Russian police).

A number of witnesses gave evidence that they had been pressured in 1942-43 by the Germans to give false testimony as to the shooting of the Poles by the Russians.

Parfem Gavrilovich Kisselev, a resident of the village closest to Kozy Gory, testified that he had been summonsed in autumn of 1942 to the Gestapo where he was interviewed by a German officer:

“The officer stated that, according to information at the disposal of the Gestapo, in 1940, in the area of Kozy Gory in the Katyn Forest, staff members of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs shot Polish officers, and he asked me what testimony I could give on this score. I answered that I had never heard of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs shooting people at Kozy Gory, and that anyhow it was impossible, I explained to the officer, since Kozy Gory is an absolutely open and much frequented place, and if shootings had gone on there the entire population of the neighbouring villages would have known …

“…The interpreter, however, would not listen to me, but took a handwritten document from the desk and read it to me. It said that I, Kisselev, resident of a hamlet in the Kozy Gory area, personally witnessed the shooting of Polish officers by staff members of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs in 1940.

“Having read the document, the interpreter told me to sign it. I refused to do so… Finally he shouted ‘Either you sign it at once or we shall destroy you. Make your choice.’

“Frightened by these threats, I signed the document and thought that would be the end of the matter. “

But it wasn’t the end of the matter, because the Germans expected Kisselev to give parol evidence of what he had ‘witnessed’ to groups of ‘delegates’ invited by the Germans to come to the area to witness the evidence of supposed Soviet atrocities.

Soon after the German authorities had announced the existence of the mass graves to the world in April 1943,

“the Gestapo interpreter came to my house and took me to the forest in the Kozy Gory area.

“When we had left the house and were alone together, the interpreter warned me that I must tell the people present in the forest everything exactly as I had written it down in the document I had signed at the Gestapo.

“When I came to the forest I saw the open graves and a group of strangers. The interpreter told me that these were Polish delegates who had arrived to inspect the graves. When we approached the graves the delegates started asking me various questions in Russian in connection with the shooting of the Poles, but as more than a month had passed since I had been summoned to the Gestapo I forgot everything that was in the document I had signed, got mixed up, and finally said I didn’t know anything about the shooting of Polish officers.

“The German officer got very angry. The interpreter roughly dragged me away from the ‘delegation’ and chased me off. Next morning a car with a Gestapo officer drove up to my house. He found me in the yard, told me that I was under arrest, put me into the car and took me to Smolensk Prison …

“After my arrest I was interrogated many times, but they beat me more than they questioned me. The first time they summoned me they beat me up heavily and abused me, complaining that I had let them down, and then sent me back to the cell. During the next summons they told me I must state publicly that I had witnessed the shooting of Polish officers by the Bolsheviks, and that until the Gestapo was satisfied I would do this in good faith, I would not be released from prison. I told the officer that I would rather sit in prison than tell people lies to their faces. After that I was badly beaten up.

“There were several such interrogations accompanied by beatings, and as a result I lost all my strength, my hearing became poor and I could not move my right arm. About one month after my arrest a German officer summoned me and said: ‘You see the consequences of your obstinacy, Kisselev. We have decided to execute you. In the morning we shall take you to Katyn Forest and hang you.’ I asked the officer not to do this, and started pleading with them that I was not fit for the part of ‘eye-witness’ of the shooting as I did not know how to tell lies and therefore I would mix everything up again.

“The officer continued to insist. Several minutes later soldiers came into the room and started beating me with rubber clubs. Being unable to stand the beatings and torture, I agreed to appear publicly with a fallacious tale about shooting of Poles by Bolsheviks. After that I was released from prison, on conditions that on the first demand of the Germans I would speak before ‘delegations’ in Katyn Forest…

“On every occasion, before leading me to the graves in the forest, the interpreter used to come to my house, call me out into the yard, take me aside to make sure that no one would hear, and for half an hour make me memorise by heart everything I would have to say about the alleged shooting of Polish officers by the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs in 1940.

“I recall that the interpreter told me something like this: ‘I live in a cottage in ‘Kozy Gory’ area not far from the country house of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs. In spring 1940 I saw Poles taken on various nights to the forest and shot there’. And then it was imperative that I must state literally that ‘this was the doing of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs.’ After I had memorised what the interpreter told me he would take me to the open graves in the forest and compel me to repeat all this in the presence of ‘delegations’ which came there.

“My statements were strictly supervised and directed by the Gestapo interpreter. Once when I spoke before some ‘delegation’, I was asked the question: ‘Did you see these Poles personally before they were shot by the Bolsheviks?’ I was not prepared for such a question and answered the way it was in fact, i.e., that I saw Polish war prisoners before the war, as they walked on the roads. Then the interpreter roughly dragged me aside and drove me home.

“Please believe me when I say that all the time I felt pangs of conscience, as I knew that in reality the Polish officers had been shot by the Germans in 1941. I had no other choice, as I was constantly threatened with the repetition of my arrest and torture. “

Numerous people corroborated Kisselev’s testimony, and a medical examination corroborated his story of having been tortured by the Germans.

Pressure was also brought on Ivanov, employed at the local railway station (Gnezdovo) to bear false witness:

“The officer inquired whether I knew that in spring 1940 large parties of captured Polish officers had arrived at Gnezdovo station in several trains. I said that I knew about this. The officer then asked me whether I knew that in the same spring 1940, soon after the arrival of the Polish officers, the Bolsheviks had shot them all in the Katyn Forest. I answered that I did not know anything about that, and that it could not be so, as in the course of 1940-41 up to the occupation of Smolensk by the Germans, I had met captured Polish officers who had arrived in spring 1940 at Gnezdovo station, and who were engaged in road construction work.

“The officer told me that if a German officer said the Poles had been shot by the Bolsheviks it meant that this was a fact. ‘Therefore’, the officer continued, ‘you need not fear anything, and you can sign with a clear conscience a protocol saying that the captured Polish officers were shot by the Bolsheviks and that you witnessed it’.

“I replied that I was already an old man, that I was 61 years old, and did not want to commit a sin in my old age. I could only testify that the captured Poles really arrived at Gnezdovo station in spring 1940. The German officer began to persuade me to give the required testimony promising that if I agreed he would promote me from the position of watchman on a railway crossing to that of stationmaster of Gnezdovo station, which I had held under the Soviet Government, and also to provide for my material needs.

“The interpreter emphasised that my testimony as a former railway official at Gnezdovo station, the nearest station to Katyn Forest, was extremely important for the German Command, and that I would not regret it if I gave such testimony. I understood that I had landed in an extremely difficult situation, and that a sad fate awaited me. However, I again refused to give false testimony to the German officer. He started shouting at me, threatened me with a beating and shooting, and said I did not understand what was good for me. However, I stood my ground. The interpreter then drew up a short protocol in German on one page, and gave me a free translation of its contents. This protocol recorded, as the interpreter told me, only the fact of the arrival of the Polish war prisoners at Gnezdovo station. When I asked that my testimony be recorded not only in German but also in Russian, the officer finally went beside himself with fury, beat me up with a rubber club and drove me off the premises…”.

Savvateyev was another person pressurised by the Germans to give false testimony. He told the Soviet Commission of Inquiry:

“In the Gestapo I testified that in spring 1940 Polish war prisoners arrived at the station of Gnezdovo in several trains and proceeded further in trucks, and I did not know where they went. I also added that I repeatedly met those Poles later on the Moscow-Minsk highway, where they were working on repairs in small groups. The officer told me I was mixing things up, that I could not have met the Poles on the highway, as they had been shot by the Bolsheviks, and demanded that I testify to this.

“I refused. After threatening and cajoling me for a long time, the officer consulted with the interpreter about something in German, and then the interpreter wrote a short protocol and gave it to me to sign. He explained that it was a record of my testimony. I asked the interpreter to let me read the protocol myself, but he interrupted me with abuse, ordering me to sign it immediately and get out. I hesitated a minute. The interpreter seized a rubber club hanging on the wall and made to strike me. After that I signed the protocol shoved at me. The interpreter told me to get out and go home, and not to talk to anyone or I would be shot…”

Others gave similar testimony.

Evidence was also given as to how the Germans ‘doctored’ the graves of the victims to try to eliminate evidence that the massacre took place not in the autumn of 1941 but in the spring of 1940 shortly after the Poles first arrived in the area. Alexandra Mikhailovna had worked during the German occupation in the kitchen of a German military unit. In March 1943 she found a Russian war prisoner hiding in her shed:

“From conversation with him I learned that his name was Nikolai Yegorov, a native of Leningrad. Since the end of 1941 he had been in the German camp No. 126 for war prisoners in the town of Smolensk. At the beginning of March 1943, he was sent with a column of several hundred war prisoners from the camp to Katyn Forest. There they, including Yegorov, were compelled to dig up graves containing bodies in the uniforms of Polish officers, drag these bodies out of the graves and take out of their pockets documents, letters, photographs and all other articles.

“The Germans gave the strictest orders that nothing be left in the pockets on the bodies. Two war prisoners were shot because after they had searched some of the bodies, a German officer discovered some papers on these bodies. Articles, documents and letters extracted from the clothing on the bodies were examined by the German officers, who then compelled the prisoners to put part of the papers back into the pockets on the bodies, while the rest was flung on a heap of articles and documents they had extracted, and later burned.

“Besides this, the Germans made the prisoners put in the pockets of the Polish officers some papers which they took from the cases or suitcases (I don’t remember exactly) which they had brought along. All the war prisoners lived in Katyn Forest in dreadful conditions under the open sky, and were extremely strongly guarded… At the beginning of April 1943, all the work planned by the Germans was apparently completed, as for three days not one of the war prisoners had to do any work…

“Suddenly at night all of them without exception were awakened and led somewhere. The guard was strengthened. Yegorov sensed something was wrong and began to watch very closely everything that was happening. They marched for three or four hours in an unknown direction. They stopped in the forest at a pit in a clearing. He saw how a group of war prisoners were separated from the rest and driven towards the pit and then shot. The war prisoners grew agitated, restless and noisy. Not far from Yegorov several war prisoners attacked the guards. Other guards ran towards the place. Yegorov took advantage of the confusion and ran away into the dark forest, hearing shouts and firing.

“After hearing this terrible story, which is engraved on my memory for the rest of my life, I became very sorry for Yegorov, and told him to come to my room, get warm and hide at my place until he had regained his strength. But Yegorov refused… He said no matter what happened he was going away that very night, and intended to try to get through the front line to the Red Army. In the morning, when I went to make sure whether Yegorov had gone, he was still in the shed. It appeared that in the night he had attempted to set out, but had only taken about 50 steps when he felt so weak that he was forced to return. This exhaustion was caused by the long imprisonment at the camp and the starvation of the last days. We decided he should remain at my place several days longer to regain his strength. After feeding Yegorov I went to work. When I returned home in the evening my neighbours Branova, Mariya Ivanovna, Kabanovskaya, Yekaterina Viktorovna told me that in the afternoon, during a search by the German police, the Red Army war prisoner had been found, and taken away. “

Further corroboration was given by an engineer mechanic called Sukhachev who had worked under the Germans as a mechanic in the Smolensk city mill:

“I was working at the mill in the second half of March, 1943. There I spoke to a German chauffeur who spoke a little Russian, and since he was carrying flour to Savenki village for the troops, and was returning on the next day to Smolensk, I asked him to take me along so that I could buy some fats in the village. My idea was that making the trip in a German truck would get over the risk of being held up at the control stations. The German agreed to take me, at a price.

“On the same day at 10 p.m. we drove on to the Somolensk-Vitebsk highway, just myself and the German driver in the machine. The night was light, and only a low mist over the road reduced the visibility. Approximately 22 or 23 kilometres from Smolensk at a demolished bridge on the highway there is a rather deep descent at the by-pass. We began to go down from the highway, when suddenly a truck appeared out of the fog coming towards us. Either because our brakes were out of order, or because the driver was inexperienced, we were unable to bring our truck to a halt, and since the passage was quite narrow we collided with the truck coming towards us. The impact was not very violent, as the driver of the other truck swerved to the side, as a result of which the trucks bumped and slid alongside each other.

“The right wheel of the other truck, however, landed in the ditch, and the truck fell over on the slope. Our truck remained upright. The driver and I immediately jumped out of the cabin and ran up to the truck which had fallen down. We were met by a heavy stench of putrefying flesh coming evidently from the truck.

“On coming nearer, I saw that the truck was carrying a load covered with a tarpaulin and tied up with ropes. The ropes had snapped with the impact, and part of the load had fallen out on the slope. This was a horrible load – human bodies dressed in military uniforms. As far as I can remember there were some six or seven men near the truck: one German driver, two Germans armed with tommy-guns – the rest were Russian war prisoners, as they spoke Russian and were dressed accordingly.

“The Germans began to abuse my driver and then made some attempts to right the truck. In about two minutes time two more trucks drove up to the place of the accident and pulled up. A group of Germans and Russian war prisoners, about ten men in all, came up to us from these trucks. … By joint efforts we began to raise the truck. Taking advantage of an opportune moment I asked one of the Russian war prisoners in a low voice: ‘What is it?’ He answered very quietly: ‘For many nights already we have been carrying bodies to Katyn Forest’.

“Before the overturned truck had been raised a German NCO came up to me and my driver and ordered us to proceed immediately. As no serious damage had been done to our truck the driver steered it a little to one side and got on to the highway, and we went on. When we were passing the two covered trucks which had come up later I again smelled the horrible stench of dead bodies”.

Various other people also gave testimony of having seen the trucks loaded with dead bodies.

One Zhukhov, a pathologist who actually visited graves in April 1943 at the invitation of the Germans, also gave evidence:

“The clothing of the bodies, particularly the greatcoats, boots and belts, were in a good state of preservation. The metal parts of the clothing – belt buckles, button hooks and spikes on shoe soles, etc. – were not heavily rusted, and in some cases the metal still retained its polish. Sections of the skin of the bodies which could be seen – faces, necks, arms – were chiefly a dirty green colour, and in some cases dirty brown, but there was no complete disintegration of the tissues, no putrefaction. In some cases bared tendons of whitish colour and parts of muscles could be seen.

“While I was at the excavations people were at work sorting and extracting bodies at the bottom of a big pit. For this purpose they used spades and other tools, and also took hold of bodies with their hands and dragged them from place to place by the arms, the legs or the clothing. I did not see a single case of bodies falling apart or any member being torn off.

“Considering all the above, I arrived at the conclusion that the bodies had remained in the earth not three years, as the Germans affirmed, but much less. Knowing that in mass graves, and especially without coffins, putrefaction of bodies progresses more quickly than in single graves, I concluded that the mass shooting of the Poles had taken place about a year and a half ago, and could have occurred in autumn 1941 or in spring 1942. As a result of my visit to the excavation site I became firmly convinced that a monstrous crime had been committed by the Germans. “

Several other people who visited the graves at the time gave like testimony.

Moreover, pathologists who examined the bodies in 1943 concluded that they could not have been dead longer than two years. Furthermore, documents were found on some of the bodies which had obviously been missed by the Germans when they doctored the evidence. These included a letter dated September 1940, a postcard dated 12 November 1940, a pawn ticket receipted 14 March 1941 and another receipted 25 March 1941. Receipts dated 6 April 1941, 5 May 1941, 15 May 1941 and an unmailed postcard in Polish dated 20 June 1941. Although all these dates pre-date Soviet withdrawal, they all postdate the time of the alleged murder of the prisoners by the Soviet authorities in the spring of 1940, the time given as the date of the supposed massacre by all those whom the Germans were able to bully into giving false testimony. If, as is claimed by bourgeois propagandists, these documents are forgeries, it would have been the easiest thing to forge documents which postdated the Soviet departure, but his was not done – and it was not done because the documents found were undoubtedly genuine.

Source

The Truth about Katyn

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Nazi propaganda poster. Reads in French: “If the Soviets win the war, Katyn will be everywhere.”

The Truth About Katyn

Report of Special Commission

for Ascertaining and Investigating the Circumstances of the Shooting of Polish Officer Prisoners by the German-Fascist Invaders in the Katyn Forest

The Special Commission for Ascertaining and Investigating the Circumstances of the Shooting of Polish Officer Prisoners by the German-Fascist Invaders in the Katyn Forest (near Smolensk) was set up on the decision of the Extraordinary State Commission for Ascertaining and Investigating Crimes Committed by the German-Fascist Invaders and Their Associates.

The Commission consists of: Member of the Extraordinary State Commission Academician Burdenko (Chairman of the Commission); member of the Extraordinary State Commission Academician Alexei Tolstoy; member of the Extraordinary State Commission the Metropolitan Nikolai; President of the All-Slav Committee, Lt.-Gen. Dundorov; the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Union of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Kolesnikov; People’s Commissar of Education of the Russian S.F.S.R.. Academician Potemkin; the Chief of the Central Medical Administration of the Red Army, Col.-Gen. Smirnov; the Chairman of the Smolensk Regional Executive Committee, Melnikov. To accomplish the task assigned to it the Commission invited the following medico-legal experts to take part in its work: Chief Medico-Legal Expert of the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection of the U.S.S.R., Director of Scientific Research in the Institute of Forensic Medicine Prozorovsky; the Head of the Faculty of Forensic Medicine at the Second Moscow Medical Institute, Doctor of Medicine Smolyaninov; Senior Staff Scientists of the State Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Medicine under the People’s Commissariat of Health of the U.S.S.R. Semenovsky and assistant Professor Shvaikova; Chief Pathologist of the Front, Mayor of Medical Service, Professor Voropayev.

The Special Commission had at its disposal extensive material presented by the member of the Extraordinary State Commission Academician Burdenko, his collaborators, and the medico-legal experts who arrived in Smolensk on September 26, 1943, immediately upon its liberation, and carried out preliminary study and investigation of the circumstances of all the crimes perpetrated by the Germans.

The Special Commission verified and ascertained on the spot that 15 kilometres from Smolensk, along the Vitebsk highway, in the section of the Katyn Forest named “Kozy Gory,” 200 metres to the S.W. of the highway in the direction of the Dnieper, there are graves in which Polish war prisoners shot by the German occupationists were buried.

On the order of the Special Commission, and in the presence of all its members and of the medico-legal experts, the graves were excavated. A large number of bodies clad in Polish military uniform were found in the graves. The total number of bodies, as calculated by the medico-legal experts, is 11,000. The medico-legal experts made detailed examinations of the exhumed bodies and of documents and material evidence discovered on the bodies and in the graves.

Simultaneously with the excavation of the graves and examination of the bodies, the Special Commission examined numerous witnesses among local residents, whose testimony establishes with precision the time and circumstances of the crimes committed by the German occupationists. The testimony of witnesses reveals the following.

The Katyn Forest

The Katyn Forest had for long been the favourite resort of Smolensk people, where they used to rest on holidays. The population of the neighbourhood grazed cattle and gathered fuel in the Katyn Forest. Access to the Katyn Forest was not banned or restricted in any way. This situation prevailed in the Katyn Forest up to the outbreak of war. Even in the summer of 1941 there was a Young Pioneers’ Camp of the Industrial Insurance Board in this forest, and it was not liquidated until July, 1941.

An entirely different regime was instituted in the Katyn Forest after the capture of Smolensk by the Germans. The forest was heavily patrolled. Notices appeared in many places warning that persons entering without special passes would be shot on the spot.

The part of the Katyn Forest named “Kozy Gory” was guarded particularly strictly, as was the area on the bank of the Dnieper, where 700 metres from the graves of the Polish war prisoners, there was a country house – the rest home of the Smolensk Administration of the Peoples’ Commissariat of Internal Affairs. When the Germans arrived this country house was taken over by a German institution named “Headquarters of the 537th Engineering Battalion.”

Polish War Prisoners in Smolensk Area

The Special Commission established that, before the capture of Smolensk by the Germans, Polish war prisoners, officers and men, worked in the western district of the Region; building and repairing roads. These war prisoners were quartered in three special camps named Camp No. 1 O.N., Camp No. 2 O.N., and Camp No. 3 O.N. These camps were located 25-45 kilometres west of Smolensk.

The testimony of witnesses and documentary evidence establish that after the outbreak of hostilities, in view of the situation that arose, the camps could not be evacuated in time and all the Polish war prisoners, as well as some members of the guard and staffs of the camps, fell prisoner to the Germans.

The former Chief of Camp No. 1 O.N., Major of State Security Vetoshnikov, interrupted by the Special Commission, testified: “I was waiting for the order on the removal of the camp, but communication with Smolensk was cut. Then I myself with several staff members went to Smolensk to clarify the situation. In Smolensk I found a tense situation. I applied to the chief of traffic of the Smolensk section of the Western Railway, Ivanov, asking him to provide the camp with railway cars for evacuation of the Polish war prisoners. But Ivanov answered that I could not count on receiving cars. I also tried to get in touch with Moscow to obtain permission to set out on foot, but I failed. By this time Smolensk was already cut off from the camp by the Germans, and did not know what happened to the Polish war prisoners and guards who remained in the camp.”

Engineer Ivanov, who in July 1941 was acting Chief of Traffic of the Smolensk Section of the Western Railway, testified before the Special Commission: “The Administration of Polish War Prisoners’ Camps applied to my office for cars for evacuation of the Poles, but we had none to spare. Besides, we could not send cars to the Gussino line, where the majority of the Polish war prisoners were, since that line was already under fire. Therefore, we could not comply with the request of the Camps Administration. Thus the Polish war prisoners remained in the Smolensk Region.”

The presence of the Polish war prisoners in the camps in the Smolensk Region is confirmed by the testimony of numerous witnesses who saw these Poles near Smolensk in the early months of the occupation up to September 1941 inclusive.

Witness Maria Alexandrovna Sashneva, elementary schoolteacher in the village of Zenkovo, told the Special Commission that in August 1941 she gave shelter in her house in Zenkovo to a Polish war prisoner who had escaped from camp.

“The Pole wore Polish military uniform, which I recognised at once, as during 1940 and 1941 I used to see groups of Polish war prisoners working on the road under guard… I took an interest in the Pole because it turned out that, before being called up, he had been an elementary schoolteacher in Poland. He told me that he had completed normal school in Poland and then studied at some military school and was a Junior Lieutenant of the Reserve. At the outbreak of war between Poland and Germany he was called up and served in Brest-Litovsk, where he was taken prisoner by Red Army units…. He spent over a year in the camp near Smolensk.

“When the Germans arrived they seized the Polish camp and instituted a strict regime in it. The Germans did not regard the Poles as human beings. They oppressed and outraged them in every way. On some occasions Poles were shot without any reason at all. He decided to escape. Speaking of himself, he said that his wife too, was a teacher and that he had two brothers and two sisters….”

On leaving next day the Pole gave his name, which Sashneva put down in a book. In this book, “Practical Studies in Natural History,” by Yagodovsky, which Sashneva handed to the Special Commission, there is a note on the last page: “Juzeph and Sofia Loek. House 25, Ogorodnaya St., town Zamostye.” In the list published by the Germans, under No. 3796 Lt. Juzeph Loek is put down as having been shot at “Kozy Gory” in the Katyn Forest in the spring of 1940. Thus, from the German report, it would appear that Juzeph Loek had been shot one year before the witness Sashneva saw him.

The witness Danilenkov, a peasant of the “Krasnaya Zarya” collective farm of the Katyn Rural Soviet, stated: “In August and September, 1941, when the Germans arrived, I used to meet Poles working on the roads in groups of 15 to 20.”

Similar statements were made by the following witnesses: Soldatenkov, former headman of the village of Borok; Kolachev, a Smolensk doctor; Ogloblin, a priest; Sergeyev, track foreman; Smiryagin, engineer; Moskovskaya, resident of Smolensk; Alexeyev, chairman of a collective farm in the village of Borok; Kutseev, waterworks technician; Gorodetsky, a priest; Brazekina, a bookkeeper; Vetrova, a teacher; Savvateyev, stationmaster at the Gnezdovo station, and others.

Round-Ups of Polish War Prisoners

The presence of Polish war prisoners in the autumn of 1941 in Smolensk districts is also confirmed by the fact that the Germans made numerous round-ups of those war prisoners who had escaped from the camps.

Witness Kartoshkin, a carpenter, testified: “In the autumn of 1941 the Germans not only scoured the forests for Polish war prisoners, but also used police to make night searches in the villages.”

Zakharov, former headman of the village of Novye Bateki, testified that in the autumn of 1941, the Germans intensively “combed” the villages and forests in search of Polish war prisoners. Witness Danilenkov a peasant of the Krasnaya Zarya collective farm, testified: “Special round-ups were held in our place to catch Polish war prisoners who had escaped. Some searches took place in my house two or three times. After one such search I asked the headman, Konstantin Sergeyev, whom they were looking for in our village. Sergeyev said that an order had been received from the German Kommandantur according to which searches were to be made in all houses without exception, since Polish war prisoners who had escaped from the camp were hiding in our village. After some time the searches were discontinued.”

The witness collective farmer Fatkov testified: “Round-ups and searches for Polish war prisoners took place several times. That was in August and September, 1941. After September, 1941, the round-ups were discontinued and no one saw Polish war prisoners anymore.”

Shootings of Polish War Prisoners

The above-mentioned “Headquarters of the 537th Engineering Battalion” quartered in the country house at “Kozy Gory” did not engage in any engineering work. Its activities were a closely guarded secret. What this “headquarters” engaged in, in reality, was revealed by numerous witnesses, including Alexeyeva, Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya, residents of the village of Borok of the Katyn Rural Soviet.

On the order of the German Commandant of the Settlement of Katyn, they were detailed by the headman of the village of Borok, Soldatenkov, to serve the personnel of “headquarters” at the above-mentioned country house. On arrival in “Kozy Gory” they were told through an interpreter about a number of restrictions;­

They were absolutely forbidden to go far from the country house or to go to the forest to enter rooms without being called and without being, escorted by German soldiers, to remain in the grounds of the country house at night. They were allowed to come to work and leave after work only by a definite route and only escorted by soldiers. This warning was given to Alexeyeva, Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya, through an interpreter, personally by the Chief of the German Institution, Ober-leutnant Arnes, who for this purpose summoned them one at a time.

As to the personnel of the “headquarters,” Alexeyeva testified: “In the ‘Kozy Gory’ country house there were always about thirty Germans. Their chief was Ober-leutnant Arnes, and his aide was Ober-leutnant Rekst. Here were also a Lieutenant Hott, Sergeant-Major Lumert, N.C.O. in charge of supplies; Rose, his assistant Isikes, Sergeant-Major Grenewski, who was in charge of the power station; the photographer, a corporal whose name I do not remember; the interpreter, a Volga German whose name seems to have been Johann, but I called him Ivan; the cook, a German named Gustav; and a number of others whose names and surnames I do not know.”

Soon after beginning their work, Alexeyeva, Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya began to notice that “something shady” was going on at the country house.

Alexeyeva testified: “The interpreter warned us several times on behalf of Arnes that we wore to hold our tongues and not chatter about what we saw and heard at the country house. Besides, I guessed from a number of signs that the Germans were engaged in some shady doings at this country house…. At the close of August and during most of September 1941 several trucks used to come practically every day to the ‘Kozy Gory’ country house. At first I paid no attention to that, but later I noticed that each time these trucks arrived at the grounds of the country house they stopped for half-an-hour, and sometimes for a whole hour, somewhere on the country road connecting the country house with the highway. I drew this conclusion because some time after these trucks reached the grounds of the country house the noise they made would cease.

“Simultaneously with the noise stopping, single shots would be heard. The shots followed one another at short but approximately even intervals. Then the shooting would die down and the trucks would drive up right to the country house. German soldiers and N.C.O.s came out of the trucks. Talking noisily they went to wash in the bathhouse, after which they engaged in drunken orgies. On those days a fire was always kept burning in the bathhouse stove.

“On days when the trucks arrived more soldiers from some German military units used to arrive at the country house. Special beds were put up for them in the soldiers’ Casino set up in one of the halls of the country house. On those days many meals were cooked in the kitchen and a double ration of drinks was served with the meals. Shortly before the trucks reached the country house armed soldiers went to the forest evidently to the spot where the trucks stopped, because in half an hour or an hour they returned in these trucks, together with the soldiers who lived permanently in the country house.

“Probably I would not have watched or noticed how the noise of the trucks coming to the country house used to die down and then rise again were it not for the fact that whenever the trucks arrived We (Konakhovskaya, Mikhailova and myself) were driven to the kitchen if we happened to be in the courtyard near the house; and they would not let us out of the kitchen if we happened to be in it. There was also the fact that on several occasions I noticed stains of fresh blood on the clothes of two Lance Corporals. All this made me pay close attention to what was going on at the country house.

“Then I noticed strange intervals in the movement of the trucks and their pauses in the forest. I also noticed that bloodstains appeared on the clothes of the same two men – the Lance Corporals. One of them was tall and red-headed, the other of medium height and fair. From all this I inferred that the Germans brought people in the truck to the country house and shot them. I even guessed approximately where this took place as, when coming to and leaving the country house, I noticed freshly thrown-up earth in several places near the road. The area of this freshly thrown-up earth increased every day. In the course of time the earth in these spots began to look normal.”

In answer to a question put by the Special Commission – what kind of people were shot in the forest near the country house – Alexeyeva replied that they were Polish war prisoners, and in confirmation of her words stated:

“There were days when no trucks arrived at the country house, but even so soldiers left the house for the forest, whence came frequent single shots. On returning the soldiers always took a bath and then drank.

“Another thing happened. Once I stayed at the country house somewhat later than usual. Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya had already left. Before I finished the work which had kept me there, a soldier suddenly entered and told me I could go. He referred to Rose’s order. He also accompanied me to the highway.

“Standing on the highway 150 or 200 metres from where the road branches off to the country house I saw a group of about 30 Polish war prisoners marching along the highway under heavy German escort. I knew them to be Poles because even before the war, and for same time after the Germans came, I used to meet on the highway Polish war prisoners wearing the same uniform with their characteristic four-cornered hats. I halted near the roadside to see where they were being led, and I saw that they turned towards our country house at ‘Kozy Gory.’

“Since by that time I had begun to watch closely everything going on at the country house, I became interested. I went back some distance along the highway, hid in bushes near the roadside, and waited. In some 20 or 30 minutes I heard the familiar single shots. Then everything became clear to me and I hurried home.

“I also concluded that evidently the Germans were shooting Poles not only in the daytime when we worked at the country house, but also at night in our absence. I understood this also from recalling the occasions when all the officers and men who lived in the country house, with the exception of the sentries, woke up late, about noon. On several occasions we guessed about the arrival of the Poles in ‘Kozy Gory’ from the tense atmosphere that descended on the country house…. All the officers left the country house and only a few sentries remained in it, while the Sergeant-Major kept checking up on the sentries over the telephone…”

Mikhailova testified: “In September, 1941, shooting was heard very often in the ‘Kozy Gory’ Forest. At first I took no notice of the trucks, which were closed at the sides and on top and painted green. They used to drive up to our country house always accompanied by N.C.O.’s. Then I noticed that these trucks never entered our garage, and also that they were never unloaded. They used to come very often, especially in September, 1941.

“Among the N.C.O.’s who always sat with the drivers I began to notice one tall one with a pale face and red hair. When these trucks drove up to the country house, all the Germans, as if at a command, went to the bathhouse and bathed for a long time, after which they drank heavily in the country house. Once this tall red-headed German got down from the truck, went to the kitchen and asked for water. When he was drinking the water out of a glass I noticed blood on the cuff of the right sleeve of his uniform.”

Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya witnessed the shooting of two Polish war prisoners who had evidently escaped from the Germans and been caught. Mikhailova testified: “Once Konakhovskaya and I were at our usual work in the kitchen when we heard a noise near the country house. On coming out we saw two Polish-war prisoners surrounded by German soldiers who were explaining something to N.C.O. Rose. Then Ober-Leutnant Arnes came over to them and told Rose something. We hid some distance away, as we were afraid that Rose would beat us up for being inquisitive.

“‘We were discovered, however, and at a signal from Rose the mechanic Grenewski drove us into the kitchen and the Poles away from the country house. A few minutes later we heard shots. The German soldiers and N.C.O. Rose, who soon returned, were engaged in animated conversation. Wanting to find out what the Germans had done to the detained Poles, Konakhovskaya and I came out again. Arnes’ aide, who came out simultaneously with us from the main entrance of the country house, asked Rose something in German, to which the latter answered, also in German: ‘Everything is in order.’ We understood these words because the Germans often used them in their conversation. From all that took place I concluded that these two Poles had been shot.”

Similar testimony was given by Konakhovskaya. Frightened by the happenings at the country house, Alexeyeva, Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya decided to quit work on some convenient pretext. Taking advantage of the reduction of their “wages” from nine to three marks a month at the beginning of January, 1942, on Mikhailova’s suggestion they did not report for work. In the evening of the same day a car came to fetch them, they were brought to the country house and locked up by way of punishment – Mikhailova for eight days and Alexeyeva and Konakhovskaya for three days each. After they had served their terms all of them were sacked.

While working at the country house Alexeyeva, Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya had been afraid to speak to each other about what they had observed of the happenings there. But during their arrest, sitting in the cell at night, they shared their knowledge.

At the interrogation on December 24, 1943, Mikhailova testified: “Here for the first time we talked frankly about the happenings at the country house. I told all I knew. It turned out that Konakhovskaya and Alexeyeva also knew these facts but, like myself, had been afraid to discuss them. I learned from them that it was Polish war prisoners the Germans used to shoot at ‘Kozy Gory.’ Alexeyeva said that once in the autumn of 1941, when she was going home from work, she saw the Germans driving a large group of Polish war prisoners into ‘Kozy Gory’ Forest and then she heard shooting.”

Similar testimony was given by Alexeyeva and Konakhovskaya. On comparing notes Alexeyeva, Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya arrived at the firm conviction that in August and September, 1941, the Germans had engaged on mass shootings of Polish war prisoners at the country house in “Kozy Gory.”

The testimony of Alexeyeva is confirmed by the testimony of her father, Mikhail Alexeyev, whom she told as far back as in the autumn of 1941, during her work at the country house, about her observations of the Germans’ activities at the country house. “For a long time she would not tell me anything,” Mikhail Alexeyev testified, “only on coming home she complained that she was afraid to work at the country house and did not know how to get away. When I asked her why she was afraid she said that very often shooting was heard in the forest. Once she told me in secret that in ‘Kozy Gory’ Forest the Germans were shooting Poles. I listened to my daughter and warned her very strictly that she should not tell anyone else about it, as otherwise the Germans would learn and then our whole family would suffer.”

That Polish war prisoners use to be brought to “Kozy Gory” in small groups of 20 to 30 men escorted by five to seven German soldiers, was also testified by other witnesses interrogated by the Special Commission: Kisselev, peasant of “Kozy Gory” hamlet; Krivozertsev, carpenter of Krasnyi Bor station in the Katyn Forest; Ivanov, former station master at Gnezdovo in the Katyn Forest area; Savvateyev, station master on duty at. the same station; Alexeyev, chairman of a collective farm in the village of Borok; Ogloblin, priest of Kuprino Church, and others. These witnesses also heard shots in the forest at “Kozy Gory.”

Of especially great importance in ascertaining what took place at “Kozy Gory” country house in the autumn of 1941 is the testimony of Professor of Astronomy Bazilevsky, director of the Smolensk Observatory. In the early days of the occupation of Smolensk by the Germans, Professor Bazilevsky was forcibly appointed by the assistant Burgomaster while to the post of Burgomaster they appointed the lawyer Menshagin, who subsequently left together with them, a traitor who enjoyed the special confidence of the German Command and in particular of the Smolensk Kommandant Von Schwetz.

Early in September, 1941, Bazilevsky addressed to Menshagin a request to solicit the Kommandant Von Schwetz for the liberation of the teacher Zhiglinsky from War Prisoners Camp No. 126. In compliance with this request Menshagin approached Von Schwetz and then informed Bazilevsky that his request could not be granted since, according to Von Schwetz, “instructions had been received from Berlin prescribing that the strictest regime be maintained undeviatingly in regard to war prisoners without any slackening.”

“I involuntarily retorted,” witness Bazilevsky testified, ” ‘Can anything be stricter than the regime existing in the camp?’ Menshagin looked at me in a strange way and bending to my ear, answered in a low voice: ‘Yes, there can be! The Russians can at least be left to die off, but as to the Polish war prisoners, the orders say that they are to be simply exterminated.’ ‘How is that? How should it be understood?’ I exclaimed: ‘This should be understood literally. There is such a directive from Berlin,’ answered Menshagin, and asked me ‘for the sake of all that is Holy’ not to tell anyone about this…

“About a fortnight after this conversation with Menshagin, when I was again received by him, I could not keep from asking: ‘What news about the Poles?’ Menshagin hesitated for a little, but then answered: ‘Everything is over with them. Von Schwetz told me that they had been shot somewhere near Smolensk.’ Seeing my bewilderment Menshagin warned me again about the necessity of keeping this affair in the strictest secrecy and then started ‘explaining’ to me the Germans’ policy in this matter. He told me that the shooting of Poles was one link in the general chain of anti-Polish policy pursued by Germany, which became especially marked in connection with the conclusion of the Russo-Polish Treaty.”

Bazilevsky also told the Special Commission about his conversation with the Sonderfuehrer of the 7th Department of the German Kommandant’s Office, Hirschfeld, a Baltic German who spoke good Russian:

“With cynical frankness Hirschfeld told me that the harmfulness and inferiority of the Poles had been proved by history and therefore reduction of Poland’s population would fertilise the soil and make possible an extension of Germany’s living space. In this connection Hirschfeld boasted that absolutely no intellectuals had been left in Poland, as they had all been hanged, shot or confined in camps.”

Bazilevsky’s testimony is confirmed by the witness Yefimov, Professor of Physics, who has been interrogated by the Special Commission and whom Bazilevsky at that time, in the autumn of 1941, told about his conversation with Menshagin.

Documentary corroboration of Bazilevsky’s and Yefimov’s testimony is supplied by notes made by Menshagin in his own hand in his notebook. This notebook, containing 17 incomplete pages, was found in the files of the Smolensk Municipal Board after the liberation of Smolensk by the Red Army. Menshagin’s ownership of the notebook and his handwriting have been confirmed both by Bazilevsky, who knew Menshagin’s hand well, and by expert graphologists.

Judging by the dates in the notebook, its contents relate to the period from early August, 1941, to November of the same year. Among the various notes on economic matters (on firewood, electric power, trade, etc.) there is a number of notes made by Menshagin evidently as a reminder of instructions issued by the German commandant’s office in Smolensk. These notes reveal with sufficient clarity the range of problems with which the Municipal Board dealt as the organ fulfilling all the instructions of the German Command.

The first three pages of the notebook lay down in detail the procedure in organising the Jewish “Ghetto” and the system of reprisals to be applied against the Jews.

Page 10, dated August 15, 1941, contains the following note: “All fugitive Polish war prisoners are to be detained and delivered to the commandant’s office.” Page 15 (undated) contains the entry: “Are there any rumours among the population concerning the shooting of Polish war prisoners in ‘Kozy Gory’ (for Umnov).”

It transpires from the first entry, firstly, that on August 15, 1941, Polish war prisoners were still in the Smolensk area and, secondly, that they were being arrested by the German authorities. The second entry indicates that the German Command, worried by the possibility of rumours about the crime it had committed circulating among the civilian population, issued special instructions for the purpose of checking this surmise. Umnov, mentioned in this entry, was the Chief of the Russian Police in Smolensk during the early months of its occupation.

Beginning of German Provocation

In the winter of 1942-43 the general military situation changed sharply to the disadvantage of the Germans. The military power of the Soviet Union was continually growing stronger. The unity between the U.S.S.R. and her Allies was growing stronger. The Germans resolved to launch a provocation, using for this purpose the crimes they had committed in the Katyn Forest, and ascribing them to the organs of the Soviet authorities. In this way they intended to set the Russians and Poles at loggerheads and to cover up the traces of their own crimes. A priest, Ogloblin, of the village of Kuprino in the Smolensk district, stated:

“After the events at Stalingrad, when the Germans began to feel uncertain, they launched this business. The people started to say that ‘the Germans are trying to mend their affairs.’ Having embarked on the preparation of the Katyn provocation, the Germans first set about looking for witnesses who would, under the influence of persuasion, bribes or threats, give the testimony which the Germans needed. The attention of the Germans was attracted to the peasant Parfen Gavrilovich Kisselev, born in 1870, who lived in the hamlet nearest to the house in ‘Kozy Gory.’ “

Kisselev was summoned to the Gestapo at the close of 1942. Under the threat of reprisals, they demanded of him fictitious testimony alleging that he knew that in the spring of 1940 the Bolsheviks shot Polish war prisoners at the country house of the administration of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs in “Kozy Gory.”

Kisselev informed the Commission: “In the autumn of 1942 two policemen came to my house and ordered me to report to the Gestapo at Gnezdovo station. On that same day I went to the Gestapo, which had its premises in a two-storeyed house next to the railway station. In a room there were a German officer and interpreter. The German officer started asking me through the interpreter how long I had lived in that district, what my occupation and my material circumstances were. I told him that I had lived in the hamlet in the area of’ ‘Kozy Gory’ since 1907 and worked on my farm. As to my material circumstances, I said that I had experienced some difficulties since I was old and my sons were at the war.

“After a brief conversation on this subject, the officer stated that, according to information at the disposal of the Gestapo, in 1940, in the area of’ ‘Kozy Gory’ in the Katyn Forest, staff members of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs shot Polish officers, and he asked me what testimony I could give on this score. I answered that I had never heard of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs shooting people at ‘Kozy Gory,’ and that anyhow it was impossible, I explained to the officer, since ‘Kozy Gory’ is an absolutely open and much frequented place, and if shootings had gone on there the entire population of the neighbouring villages would have known.

“The officer told me I must nevertheless give such evidence because he alleged the shootings did take place. I was promised a big reward for this testimony. I told the officer again that I did not know anything about shootings, and that nothing of the sort could have taken place in our locality before the war. In spite of this the officer obstinately insisted on my giving false evidence.

“After the first conversation about which I have already spoken, I was summoned again to the Gestapo in February, 1943. By that time I knew that other residents of neighbouring villages had also been summoned to the Gestapo and that the same testimony they demanded of me had also been demanded of them.

“At the Gestapo the same officer and interpreter who had interrogated me the first time again demanded of me evidence that I had witnessed the shooting of Polish officers, allegedly effected by the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs in 1940. I again told the Gestapo officer that this was a lie, as before the war I had not heard anything about any shootings, and that I would not give false evidence. The interpreter, however, would not listen to me, but took a handwritten document from the desk and read it to me. It said that I, Kisselev, resident of a hamlet in the ‘Kozy Gory’ area, personally witnessed the shooting of Polish officers by staff members of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs in 1940.

“Having read this document, the interpreter told me to sign it. I refused to do so. The interpreter began to force me to do it by abuse and threats. Finally he shouted: ‘Either you sign it at once or we shall destroy you. Make your choice!’

“Frightened by these threats, I signed the document and thought that would be the end of the matter.”

Later, after the Germans had arranged visits to the Katyn graves by various “delegations,” Kisselev was made to speak before a “Polish delegation” which arrived there. Kisselev forgot the contents of the protocol he had signed at the Gestapo, got mixed up, and finally refused to speak. The Gestapo then arrested Kisselev, and, by ruthless beatings, in the course of six weeks again obtained his consent to “public speeches.”

In this connection Kisselev stated: “In reality things went quite a different way. In spring, 1943, the Germans announced that in the “Kozy Gory” area in Katyn Forest they had discovered the graves of Polish officers allegedly shot in 1940by organs of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs. Soon after that the Gestapo interpreter cattle to my house and took me to the forest in the “Kozy Gory” area.

“When we had left the house and were alone together, the interpreter warned me that I must tell the people present in the forest everything exactly as it was written down in the document I had signed at the Gestapo.

“When I came into the forest I saw open graves and a group of strangers. The interpreter told me that these were ‘Polish delegates’ who had arrived to inspect the graves. When we approached the graves the ‘delegates’ started asking me various questions in Russian in connection with the shooting of Poles, but as more than a month had passed since I had been summoned to the Gestapo I forgot everything that was in the document I had signed, got mixed up, and finally said I did not know anything about the shooting of Polish officers.

“The German officer got very angry. The interpreter roughly dragged me away from the ‘delegation’ and chased me off. Next morning a car with a Gestapo officer drove up to my house. He found me in the yard, told me that I was under arrest, put me into the car and took me to Smolensk Prison…

“After my arrest I was interrogated many times, but they beat me more than they questioned me. The first time they summoned me they beat me up heavily and abused me, complaining that I had let them down, and then sent me back to the cell. During the next summons they told me I must state publicly that I had witnessed the shooting of Polish officers by the Bolsheviks, and that until the Gestapo was satisfied I would do this in good faith I would not be released from prison. I told the officer that I would rather sit in prison than tell people lies to their faces. After that I was badly beaten up.

“There were several such interrogations accompanied by beatings, and as a result I lost all my strength, my hearing became poor and I could not move my right arm. About one month after my arrest a German officer summoned me and said: ‘You see the consequences of your obstinacy, Kisselev. We have decided to execute you. In the morning we shall take you to Katyn Forest and hang you.’ I asked the officer not to do this, and started pleading with him that I was not fit for the part of ‘eye-witness’ of the shooting as I did not know how to tell lies and therefore I would mix everything up again.

“The officer continued to insist. Several minutes later soldiers came into the room and started beating me with rubber clubs. Being unable to stand the beatings and torture, I agreed to appear publicly with a fallacious tale about shooting of Poles by Bolsheviks. After that I was released from prison on condition that on the first demand of the Germans I would speak before ‘delegations’ in Katyn Forest…

On every occasion, before leading me to the graves in the forest, the interpreter; used to come to my house, call me out into the yard, take me aside to make sure that no one would hear, and for half an hour make me memorise by heart everything I would have to say about the alleged shooting of Polish officers by the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs in 1940.

“I recall that the interpreter told me something like this: ‘I live in a cottage in ‘Kozy Gory’ area not far from the country house of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs. In spring 1940 I saw Poles taken on various nights to the forest and shot there.’ Andthen it was imperative that I must state literally that “this was the doing of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs.” After I had memorised what the interpreter told me, he would take me to the open graves in the forest and compel me to repeat all this in the presence of ‘delegations’ which came there.

“My statements were strictly supervised and directed by the Gestapo interpreter. Once when I spoke before some ‘delegation’ I was asked the question: ‘Did you see these Poles personally before they were shot by the Bolsheviks?’ I was not prepared for such a question and answered the way it was in fact, i.e., that I saw Polish war prisoners before the war, as they worked on the roads. Then the interpreter roughly dragged me aside and drove me home.

“Please believe me when I say that all the time I felt pangs of conscience, as I knew that in reality the Polish officers had been shot by the Germans in 1941. I had no other choice, as I was constantly threatened with the repetition of my arrest and torture.”

Kisselev’s testimony regarding his summons to the Gestapo, subsequent arrest and beatings are confirmed by his wife Aksinya Kisseleva, born 1870, his son Vassily Kisselev, born 1911, and his daughter-in-law Mariya Kisseleva, born 1918, who live with him, as well as by track foreman Timofey Sergeyev, born 1901, who rents a room in Kisselev’s hamlet. The injuries caused to Kisselev at the Gestapo (injury of shoulder, considerable impairment of hearing) are confirmed by a protocol of medical examination.

In their search for “witnesses” the Germans subsequently became interested in railway workers at the Gnezdovo station, two and half kilometres from “Kozy Gory,” the station at which the Polish prisoners arrived in spring 1940. The Germans evidently wanted to obtain corresponding testimony from the railwaymen. For this purpose, in spring 1943, the Germans summoned to the Gestapo the ex-stationmaster of Gnezdovo station, Ivanov, the stationmaster on duty, Savvateyev, and others.

Ivanov, born in 1882, gave the following account of the circumstances in which he was summoned to the Gestapo: “It was in March 1943. I was interrogated by a German officer in the presence of an interpreter. Having asked me through the interpreter who I was and what post I held at Gnezdovo station before the occupation of the district by the Germans, the officer inquired whether I knew that in spring 1940 large parties of captured Polish officers had arrived at Gnezdovo station in several trains. I said that I knew about this, The officer then asked me whether I knew that in the same spring 1940, soon after the arrival of the Polish officers, the Bolsheviks had shot them all in the Katyn Forest. I answered that I did not know anything about that, and that it could not be so, as in the course of 1940-41, up to the occupation of Smolensk by the Germans, I had met captured Polish officers who had arrived in spring 1940 at Gnezdovo station, and who were engaged in road construction work.

“The officer told me that if a German officer said the Poles had been shot by the Bolsheviks it meant that this was the fact. ‘Therefore,’ the officer continued, ‘you need not fear anything, and you can sign with a clear conscience a protocol saying that the captured Polish officers were shot by the Bolsheviks and that you witnessed it.’’

“I replied that I was already an old man, that I was 61 years old, and did not want to commita sin in my old age. I could only testify that the captured Poles really arrived at Gnezdovo station in spring 1940. The German officer began to persuade me to give the required testimony promising that if I agreed he would promote me from the position of watchman on a railway crossing to that of stationmaster of Gnezdovo station, which I had held under the Soviet Government, and also to provide for my material needs.

“The interpreter emphasised that my testimony as a former railway official at Gnezdovo station, the nearest station to Katyn Forest, was extremely important for the German Command, and that I would not regret it if I gave such testimony. I understood that I had landed in an extremely difficult situation, and that a sad fate awaited me. However, I again refused to give false testimony to the German officer. He started shouting at me, threatened me with beating and shooting, and said I did not understand what was good for me. However, I stood my ground. The interpreter then drew up a short protocol in German on one page, and gave me a free translation of its contents. This protocol recorded, as the interpreter told me, only the fact of the arrival of the Polish war prisoners at Gnezdovo station. When I asked that my testimony be recorded not only in German but also in Russian, the officer finally went beside himself with fury, beat me up with a rubber club and drove me off the premises….”

Savvateyev, born in 1880, stated: “In the Gestapo I testified that in spring 1940 Polish war prisoners arrived at the station of Gnezdovo in several trains and proceeded further in trucks, and 1 did not know where they went. I also added that I repeatedly met these Poles later on the Moscow-Minsk highway, where they were working on repairs in small groups. The officer told me. I was mixing things up, that I could not have the Poles on the highway, as they had been shot by the Bolsheviks, and demanded that I testify to this.

“I refused. After threatening and cajoling me for a long time, the officer consulted with the interpreter about something in German, and then the interpreter wrote a short protocol and gave it to me to sign. He explained that it was a record of my testimony. I asked the interpreter to let me read the protocol myself, but he interrupted me with abuse, ordering me to sign it immediately and get out. I hesitated a minute. The interpreter seized a rubber club hanging on the wall and made to strike me. After that I signed the protocol shoved at me: The interpreter told me to get out and go home, and not to talk to anyone or I would be shot.

The search for “witnesses” was not limited to the above-mentioned persons. The Germans strove persistently to locate former employees of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs and extort from them the false testimony which the Germans needed.

Having chanced to arrest Ignatyuk, formerly a labourer in the garage of the Smolensk Regional Administration of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs, the Germans stubbornly, by threats and beatings, tried to extort from him testimony that he had been a car driver and not merely a labourer in the garage, and had himself driven Polish war prisoners to the shooting site.

Ignatyuk, born in 1903, testified in this connection: “When I was examined for the first time by Chief of Police Alferchik, he accused me of agitating against the German authorities, and asked what work I had done for the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs. I replied that I had worked in the garage of the Smolensk Regional Administration of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs as a labourer. At this examination Alferchik tried to get me to testify that I had worked as a car driver and not as a labourer. Alferchik was greatly irritated by his failure to obtain the required testimony from me, and he and his aide, whom he called George, tied up my head and mouth with some rag, removed my trousers, laid me on a table and began to beat me with rubber clubs.

“After that I was summoned again for examination, and Alferchik demanded that I give him false testimony to the effect that the Polish officers had been shot in Katyn Forest by organs of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs in 1940, of which I allegedly was aware, as a chauffeur who had taken part in driving the Polish officers to Katyn Forest, and who had been present at their shooting. Alferchik promised to liberate me from prison if I would agree to give such testimony, and get me a job with the police where I would be given good living conditions – otherwise they would shoot me…

“The last time I was interrogated in the police station by examiner Alexandrov, who demanded from me the same false testimony about the shooting of the Polish officers as Alferchik, but at this examination, too, I refused to give false evidence. After this examination I was again beaten up and sent to the Gestapo… In the Gestapo; just as at the police station, they demanded from me false evidence about the shooting of the Polish officers in Katyn Forest in 1940 by Soviet authorities, of which I as car driver was allegedly aware.”

A book published by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and containing material about the “Katyn Affair” fabricated by the Germans, refers to other “witnesses” besides the above-mentioned Kisselev: Godesov (alias Godunov) born in 1877, Grigori Silversov, born in 1891, Ivan Andreyev, born in 1917, Mikhail Zhigulev, born in 1915, Ivan Krivozertsev, born in 1915, and Matvey Zakharov, born in 1893.

A check-up revealed that the first two of the above persons (Godesov and Silversov) died in 1943 before the liberation of the Smolensk Region by the Red Army; the next three (Andreyev, Zhigulev and Krivozertsev) left with the Germans, or perhaps were forcibly abducted by them, while the last – Matvey Zakharov – formerly a coupler at Smolensk Station, who worked under the Germans as headman in the village Novye Bateki, was located and examined by the Special Commission.

Zakharov related how the Germans got from him the false testimony they needed about the “Katyn affair”: “Early in March, 1943, an employee of the Gnezdovo Gestapo whose name I do not know came to my house and told me that an officer wanted to see me. When I arrived at the Gestapo a German officer told me through an interpreter: ‘We know you worked as coupler at Smolensk Central Station and you must testify that in 1940 cars with Polish war prisoners passed through Smolensk on the way to Gnezdovo, after which the Poles were shot in the forest at ‘Kozy Gory.’ ’ In reply I stated that in 1940 cars with Poles did pass Smolensk westwards, but I did not know what their destination was.

“The officer told me that if I did not want to testify of my own accord he would force me to do so. After saying this he took a rubber club and began to beat me up. Then I was laid on a bench and the officer, together with the interpreter, beat me. I do not remember how many strokes I had, because I soon fainted.

“When I came to, the officer demanded that I sign a protocol of the examination. I had lost courage as a result of the beating and threats of shooting, so I gave false evidence and signed the protocol. After I had signed the protocol I was released from the Gestapo.

“Several days after I had been summoned to the Gestapo, approximately in mid-March, 1943, the interpreter came to my house and said I must go to the German general and confirm my testimony in his presence. The general asked me whether I confirmed my testimony. I said I did confirm it, as on the way I had been warned by the interpreter that if I refused to confirm the testimony I would have a much worse experience than I had on my first visit to the Gestapo.

“Fearing a repetition of the torture, I replied that I confirmed my testimony. Then the interpreter ordered me to raise my right hand, and told me I had taken an oath and could go home.”

It has been established that in other cases also the Germans used persuasion, threats and torture in trying to obtain the testimony they needed, for example, from Kaverznev, former deputy chief of the Smolensk Prison, and Kovalev, former staff member of the same prison. Since the search for the required number of witnesses failed to yield any success, the Germans posted up in Smolensk city and neighbouring villages the following handbill, an original of which is on the files of the Special Commission:

“Notice to the population. Who can give information concerning the mass murder of prisoners, Polish officers and priests by the Bolsheviks in the forest of’ ‘Kozy Gory’ near the Gnezdovo-Katyn highway in 1940? Who saw columns of trucks on their way from Gnezdovo to ‘Kozy Gory,’ or who saw or heard the shootings? Who knows residents who can tell about this! Rewards will be given for any information. Information to be sent to Smolensk, German Police Station, No. 6, Muzeinaya Street, and in Gnezdovo to the German Police Station, house No. 105 near the railway station. Foss, Lieutenant of Field Force, May 3, 1943.”

A similar notice was printed in the newspaper “Novy Put,” published by the Germans in Smolensk – No. 35 (157) for May 6, 1943.

The fact that the Germans promised rewards for the evidence they needed on the”Katyn affair” was confirmed by witnesses called by the Special Commission: Sokolova, Pushchina, Bychkov, Tondarev, Ustinov and many other residents of Smolensk.

Preparing Katyn Graves

Along with the search for “witnesses” the Germans proceeded with the preparation of the graves in Katyn Forest: they removed from the clothing of the Polish prisoners whom they had killed all documents dated later than April, 1940 – that is, the time when, according to the German provocational version, the Poles were shot by the Bolsheviks – and removed all material evidence which could disprove this provocational version. In its investigation the Special Commission revealed that for this purpose the Germans used up to 500 Russian war prisoners specially selected from war prisoners’ camp No. 126.

The Special Commission has at its disposal numerous statements of witnesses on this matter. The evidence of the medical personnel of the above-mentioned camp merits special attention. Dr. Chizhov, who worked in camp No. 126 during the German occupation of Smolensk, testified:

“Just about the beginning of March 1943 several groups of the physically stronger war prisoners, totalling about 500, were sent from the Smolensk Camp No. 126 ostensibly for trench work. None of these prisoners ever returned to the camp.”

Dr. Khmurov, who worked in the same camp under the Germans, testified:

“I know that somewhere about the second half of February or the beginning of March, 1943, about 500 Red Army men prisoners were sent from our camp to a destination unknown to me. The prisoners were apparently to be use for trench digging, for the more physically fit men were selected…”

Identical evidence was given by medical nurse Lenkovskaya, medical nurse Timofeyeva, and witnesses Orlova, Dobroserdova and Kochetkov.

The testimony of Moskovskaya made it clear where the 500 war prisoners from Camp 126 were actually sent. On October 5, 1943, the citizen Moskovskaya, Alexandra Mikhailovna, who lived on the outskirts of Smolensk and had worked during the occupation in the kitchen of a German military unit, filed an application to the Extraordinary Committee for the Investigation of Atrocities Perpetuated by the German Invaders, requesting them to summon her to give important evidence. She told the Special Commission that before leaving for work in March, 1943, when she went to fetch firewood from her shed in the yard on the banks of the Dnieper, she discovered there an unknown person who proved to be a Russian war prisoner.

Moskovskaya, who was born in 1922, testified:

“From conversation with him I learned that his name was Nikolai Yegorov, a native of Leningrad. Since the end of 1941 he had been in the German camp No. 126 for war prisoners in the town of Smolensk. At the beginning of March 1943, he was sent with a column of several hundred war prisoners from the camp to Katyn Forest. There they, including Yegorov, were compelled to dig up graves containing bodies in the uniforms of Polish officers, drag these bodies out of the graves and take out of their pockets documents, letters, photographs and all other articles.

“The Germans gave the strictest orders that nothing be left in the pockets on the bodies. Two war prisoners were shot because after they had searched some of the bodies, a German officer discovered some papers on these bodies. Articles, documents and letters extracted from the clothing on the bodies were examined by the German officers, who then compelled the prisoners to put part of the papers back into the pockets on the bodies, while the rest was flung on a heap of articles and documents they had extracted, and later burned.

“Besides this, the Germans made the prisoners put into the pockets of the Polish officers some papers which they took from the cases or suitcases (I don’t remember exactly) which they had brought along. All the war prisoners lived in Katyn Forest in dreadful conditions under the open sky, and were extremely strongly guarded…. At the beginning of April 1943, all the work planned by the Germans was apparently completed, as for three days not one of the war prisoners had to do any work….

“Suddenly at night all of them without exception were awakened and led somewhere. The guard was strengthened. Yegorov sensed something was wrong and began to watch very closely everything that was happening. They marched for three or four hours in an unknown direction. They stopped in the forest at a pit in a clearing. He saw how a group of war prisoners were separated from the rest and driven towards the pit and then shot. The war prisoners grew agitated, restless and noisy. Not far from Yegorov several war prisoners attacked the guards. Other guards ran towards the place. Yegorov took advantage of the confusion and ran away into the dark forest, hearing shouts and firing.

“After hearing this terrible story, which is engraved on my memory for the rest of my life, I became very sorry for Yegorov, and told him to come to my room, get warm and hide at my place until he had regained his strength. But Yegorov refused…. He said no matter what happened he was going away that very night, and intended to try to get through the front line to the Red Army. In the morning, when I went to make sure whether Yegorov had gone, he was still in the shed. It appeared that in the night he had attempted to set out, but had only taken about 50 steps when he felt so weak that he was forced to return. This exhaustion was caused by the long imprisonment at the camp and the starvation of the last days. We decided he should remain at my place several days longer to regain his strength. After feeding Yegorov I went to work. When I returned home in the evening my neighbours Baranova, Mariya Ivanovna, Kabanovskaya, Yekaterina Viktorovna told me that in the afternoon, during a search by the German police, the Red Army war prisoner had been found, and taken away.”

As a result of the discovery of the war prisoner Yegorov in the shed, Moskovskaya was called to the Gestapo, where she was accused of hiding a war prisoner. At the Gestapo interrogation Moskovskaya stoutly denied that she had any connection with this war prisoner, maintaining she knew nothing about his presence in her shed. Since they got no admission from Moskovskaya, and also because the war prisoner Yegorov evidently had not incriminated Moskovskaya, she was let out of the Gestapo.

This same Yegorov told Moskovskaya that as well as excavating bodies in Katyn Forest, the war prisoners were used to bring bodies to the Katyn Forest from other places.

The bodies so brought were thrown into pits along with the bodies that had been dug up earlier. The fact that a great number of bodies of people shot by the Germans in other places were brought to the Katyn graves is confirmed also by the testimony of engineer mechanic K. S. Sukhachev, born in 1912, an engineer mechanic of the “Rosglavkhleb” combine, who worked under the Germans as a mechanic in the Smolensk city mill. On October 8, 1943, he filed a request that he be called to testify. Called before the Special Commission, he stated:

“I was working at the mill in the second half of March, 1943. There I spoke to a German chauffeur who spoke a little Russian, and since he was carrying flour to Savenki village for the troops, and was returning on the next day to Smolensk, I asked him to take me along so that I could buy some fats in the village. My idea was that making the trip in a German truck would get over the risk of being held up at the control stations. The German agreed to take me, at a price.

“On the same day at 10 p.m. we drove on to the Smolensk-Vitebsk highway, just myself and the German driver in the machine. The night was light, and only a low mist over the road reduced the visibility. Approximately 22 or 23 kilometres from Smolensk at a demolished bridge on the highway there is a rather deep descent at the by-pass. We began to go down from the highway, when suddenly a truck appeared out of the fog coming towards us. Either because our brakes were out of order, or because the driver was inexperienced, we were unable to bring our truck to a halt, and since the passage was quite narrow we collided with the truck coming towards us. The impact was not very violent, as the driver of the other truck swerved to the side, as a result of which the trucks bumped and slid alongside each other.

“The right wheel of the other truck, however, landed in the ditch, and the truck fell over on the slope. Our truck remained upright. The driver and I immediately jumped out of the cabin and ran up to the truck which had fallen down. We were met by a heavy stench of putrefying flesh coming evidently from the truck.”

“On coming nearer, I saw that the truck was carrying a load covered with a tarpaulin and tied up with ropes. The ropes had snapped with the impact, and part of the load had fallen out on the slope. This was a horrible load – human bodies dressed in military uniforms. As far as I can remember there were some six or seven men near the truck: one German driver, two Germans armed with tommy-guns – the rest were Russian war prisoners, as they spoke Russian and were dressed accordingly.

“The Germans began to abuse my driver and then made some attempts to right the truck. In about two minutes time two more trucks drove up to the place of the accident and pulled up. A group of Germans and Russian war prisoners, about ten men in all, came up to us from these trucks…. By joint efforts we began to raise the truck. Taking advantage of an opportune moment I asked one of the Russian war prisoners in a low voice: ‘What is it?’ He answered very quietly: ‘For many nights already we have been carrying bodies to Katyn Forest.’

“Before the overturned truck had been raised a German N.C.O. came up to me and my driver and ordered us to proceed immediately. As no serious damage had been done to our truck the driver steered it a little to one side and got on to the highway, and we went on. When we were passing the two covered trucks which had come up later I again smelled the horrible stench of dead bodies.”

Sukhachev’s testimony is confirmed by that of Vladimir Afanasievich Yegorov, who served as policeman in the Police Station during the occupation. Yegorov testified that when owing to the nature of his duties he was guarding a bridge at a crossing of the Moscow-Minsk and Smolensk-Vitebsk highways at the end of March and early in April, 1943, he saw going towards Smolensk on several nights big trucks covered with tarpaulins and spreading a heavy stench of dead flesh. Several men, some of whom were armed and were undoubtedly Germans, sat in the driver’s cabin of each truck, and behind.

Yegorov reported his observations to Kuzma Demyanovich Golovney, Chief of the Police Station in the village of Arkhipovka, who advised him to “hold his tongue” and added: “This does not concern us. We have no business to be mixing in German affairs.”

That the Germans were carrying bodies on trucks to the Katyn Forest is testified by Frol Maximovich Yalovlev-Sokolov (born in 1896), a former agent for restaurant supplies in the Smolensk Restaurant Trust and, under the Germans, Chief of Police of Katyn. He stated that once, early in April, 1943, he himself saw four tarpaulin-covered trucks passing along the highway to Katyn Forest. Several men armed with tommy-guns and rifles rode in them. An acrid stench of flesh came from these trucks.

From the above testimony it can be concluded with all clarity that the Germans shot Poles in other places too. In bringing their bodies to the Katyn Forest they pursued a triple object: firstly to destroy the traces of their own crimes, secondly to ascribe their own crimes to the Soviet Government, thirdly to increase the number of “victims of Bolshevism” in the Katyn Forest graves.

Excursions to the Katyn Graves

In April, 1943, having finished all the preparatory work at the graves in Katyn Forest, the German occupationists began a wide campaign in the Press and over the radio in an attempt to ascribe to the Soviet Power atrocities they themselves had committed against Polish war prisoners. As one method of provocational agitation, the Germans arranged visits to the Katyn graves by residents of Smolensk and its suburbs as well as “delegations” from countries occupied by the German invaders or their vassals. The Special Commission questioned a number of delegates who took part in the “excursions” to the Katyn graves.

Zhukov, a doctor specialising in pathological anatomy who worked as Medico-Legal Expert in Smolensk, testified before the Special Commission: “The clothing of the bodies, particularly the greatcoats, boots and belts, were in a good state of preservation. The metal parts of the clothing – belt buckles, button hooks and spikes on shoe soles, etc. – were not heavily rusted, and in some cases the metal still retained its polish. Sections of the skin of the bodies which could be seen – faces, necks, arms – were chiefly a dirty green colour, and in some cases dirty brown, but there was no complete disintegration of the tissues, no putrefaction. In some cases bared tendons of whitish colour and parts of muscles could be seen.

“While I was at the excavations people were at work sorting and extracting bodies at the bottom of a big pit. For this purpose they used spades and other tools, and also took hold of bodies with their hands and dragged them from place to place by the arms, the legs or the clothing. I did not see a single case of bodies falling apart or of any member being torn off.

“Considering all the above, I arrived at the conclusion that the bodies had remained in the earth not three years, as the Germans affirmed, but much less. Knowing that in mass graves, and especially without coffins, putrefaction of bodies progresses more quickly than in single graves, I concluded that the mass shooting of the Poles had taken place about a year and a-half ago, and could have occurred in autumn 1941 or in spring, 1942. As a result of my visit to the excavation site I became firmly convinced that a monstrous crime had been committed by the Germans.”

Testimony to the effect that the clothing of the bodies, its metal parts, shoes and even the bodies themselves were well preserved was given by numerous witnesses who took part in “excursions” to the Katyn graves and who were questioned by the Special Commission. These witnesses include the manager of the Smolensk Water Supply System, Kitzev; a Katyn school teacher, Vetrova; a telephone operator of Smolensk Communications Bureau, Shchedrova; a resident of the village of Borok, Alexeyev; a resident of the village of Novye Bateki, Krivozertsev; the stationmaster on duty at Gnezdovo station, Savvateyev; a citizen of Smolensk, Pushchina; a doctor at the Second Smolensk Hospital, Sidoruk; Kesserev, a doctor at the same hospital.

Germans Attempt To Cover Up Traces of Their Crimes

The “excursions” organised by the Germans failed to achieve their aim. All who visited the graves saw for themselves that they were confronted with the crudest and most obvious German-Fascist frame-up. The German authorities accordingly took steps to make the doubters keep quiet. The Special Commission heard the testimony of a great number of witnesses who related how the German authorities persecuted those who doubted or disbelieved the provocation. These doubters were discharged from work, arrested, threatened with shooting.

The Commission established that in two cases people were shot for failure to “hold their tongues.” Such reprisals were taken against the former German policeman Zagainev, and against Yegorov, who worked on the excavation of graves in Katyn Forest. Testimony about the persecution of people who expressed doubt after visiting the graves in Katyn Forest was given by Zubareva, a woman cleaner employed by Drug Store No. 1 in Smolensk; Kozlova, assistant sanitation doctor of Stalin District Health Department in Smolensk, and others.

Yakovlev-Sokolov, former Chief of Police of Katyn area, testified: “A situation arose which caused serious alarm in the German Commandant’s Office, and police organs in the periphery were given urgent instructions to nip in the bud all harmful talk at any price, and arrest all persons who expressed disbelief in the ‘Katyn affair.’ I myself, as chief of the area police, was given instructions to this effect at the end of May 1943 by the German commandant of the village of Katyn, Oberleutnant Braung, and at the beginning of June by the chief of Smolensk District Police, Kamensky.

“I called an instructional conference of the police in my area, at which I ordered the police to detain and bring to the police station anyone who expressed disbelief or doubted the truth of German reports about the shooting of Polish war prisoners by the Bolsheviks. In fulfilling these instructions of the German authorities I clearly acted against my conscience, as I myself was certain that the ‘Katyn affair’ was a German frame-up. I became finally convinced of that when I myself made an ‘excursion’ to Katyn Forest.”

Seeing that the summer 1943 “excursions” of the local population to the Katyn graves did not achieve their purpose, the German occupation authorities ordered the graves to be filled in. Before their retreat from Smolensk they began hastily to cover up the traces of their crimes. The country house occupied by the “H.Q. of the 537th Building Battalion” was burned to the ground.

The Germans searched for the three girls Alexeyeva, Mikhailova and Konakhovskaya – In the village of Borok in order to take them away and perhaps to kill them. They also searched for their main “witness,” Kisselev, who together with his family had succeeded in hiding. The Germans burned down his house. They endeavoured to seize other “witnesses” too – the former stationmaster of Gnezdovo, Ivanov, and the former acting stationmaster of the same station, Savvateyev, as well as the former coupler at the Smolensk station, Zakharov.

During the very last days before their retreat from Smolensk, the German-Fascist occupationists looked for Professors Bazilevsky and Yefimov. Both succeeded in evading deportation or death only because they had escaped in good time. Nevertheless, the German-Fascist invaders did not succeed in covering up the traces of or concealing their crime.

Examination by medico-legal experts of the exhumed bodies proved irrefutably that the Polish war prisoners were shot by the Germans themselves. The protocol of the Medico-Legal Experts’ Investigation follows.

Protocol of the Medico-Legal Experts’ Investigation

In accordance with the instructions of the Special Commission for ascertaining and investigating the circumstances of the shooting of Polish officers prisoners by the German-Fascist invaders in Katyn Forest (near Smolensk), a Commission of Medico-Legal Experts was set up consisting of Prozorovsky, Chief Medico-Legal Expert of the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection of the U.S.S.R. and Director of the State Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Medicine; Doctor of Medicine Smolyaninov, Professor of Forensic Medicine at the Second Moscow State Medical Institute; Doctor of Medicine Voropayev, Professor of Pathological Anatomy; Doctor Semenovsky, senior staff scientist of the Thanatology Department of the State Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Medicine under the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection of the U.S.S.R.; Assistant Professor Shvaikova senior staff scientist of the Chemico-Legal Department of the State Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Medicine under the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection of the U.S.S.R.; with the participation of Major of Medical Service Nikolsky, Chief Medico-Legal Expert of the Western Front; Captain of Medical Service Bussoyedov, Medico-Legal Expert of the X. Army; Major of Medical Service, Subbotin, Chief of Pathological Anatomy Laboratory No. 92; Major of Medical Service Ogloblin; Senior Lieutenant of Medical Service Sadykov, medical specialist; Senior Lieutenant of Medical Service Pushkareva.

During the period between January 16 and January 23, 1944, these medico-legal experts conducted exhumation and medico-legal examination of the bodies of Polish war prisoners buried in graves on the territory of “Kozy Gory” in Katyn Forest 15 kms. from Smolensk. The bodies of Polish war prisoners were buried in a common grave about 60 by 60 by three metres in dimension, and also in another grave about seven by six by three and a half metres. Nine hundred and twenty-five bodies were exhumed from the graves and examined. The exhumation and medico-legal examination of the bodies were effected in order to establish: (a) identity of the dead; (b) causes of death; (c) time of burial.

Circumstances of the case: See materials of the Special Commission. Objective evidence: See the protocols of the medico-legal examination of the bodies.

Conclusion of Medico-Legal Experts

On the basis of the results of the medico-legal examination of the bodies, the commission of medico-legal experts arrived at the following conclusion:

Upon the opening of the graves and exhumations of bodies from them, it was established that:

(a) Among the mass of bodies of Polish war prisoners there were bodies in civilian clothes, the number of which, in relation to the total number of bodies examined, is insignificant (in all two out of 925 exhumed bodies); shoes of army pattern were on these bodies.

(b) The clothing on the bodies of the war prisoners showed that they were officers, and included some privates of the Polish Anny.

(c) Slits in the pockets, pockets turned inside out, and tears in them discovered during examination of the clothing show that as a rule all the clothes on each body (greatcoats, trousers, etc.) bear traces of searches effected of the dead bodies.

(d) In some cases whole pockets were found during examination of the clothing, scraps of newspapers, prayer books, pocket books, postage stamps, postcards and letters, receipts, notes and other documents, as well as articles of value (a gold nugget, dollars). Pipes, pocket knives, cigarette papers, handkerchiefs and other articles were found in these pockets, as well as in the turned-out and torn pockets, under the linings, in the belts of the coats, in footwear and socks.

(e) Some of the documents found contain data referring to the period between November 12, 1940, and June 20, 1941.

(f) The fabric of clothes, especially of greatcoats, uniforms, trousers and tunics, is in a good state of preservation and can be torn with the hands only with great difficulty.

(g) A very small proportion of the bodies (20 out of 925) had the hands tied behind the back with woven cords. The condition of the clothes on the bodies – namely the fact that uniform jackets, shirts, belts, trousers and underwear are buttoned up, boots or shoes are on the feet, scarves and ties tied around the necks, suspenders attached, shirts tucked in – testifies that no external examination of the bodies and extremities of the bodies had been effected previously. The intact state of the skin on the heads, and the absence on them, as on the skin of the chests and abdomens (save in three cases out of 925) of any incisions, cuts or other signs, show convincingly that, judging by the bodies exhumed by the experts’ commission, there had been no medico-legal examination of the bodies.

External and internal examination of 925 bodies proves the existence of bullet wounds on the head and neck, combined in four cases with injury of the bones of the cranium caused by a blunt, hard heavy object. Also, in a small number of cases were discovered injuries of the abdomen caused simultaneously with the wound in the head.

Entry orifices of the bullet wounds, as a rule singular, more rarely double, are situated in the occipital part of the head near the occipital protuberance, at the big occipital orifice or at its edge. In a few cases entry orifices of bullets have been found on the back surface of the neck, corresponding to the first or second or third vertebrae of the neck. The points of exit of the bullets have been found more frequently in the frontal area, more rarely in the parietal and templar areas as well as in the face and neck.

In 27 cases the bullet wounds proved to be blind (without exit orifices), and at the end of the bullet channels under the soft membrane of the cranium, in its bones, in the membranes and in the brain matter, were found deformed, barely deformed, or altogether undeformed cased bullets of the type used with automatic pistols, mostly of the 7.65mm. calibre.

The dimensions of the entry orifices in the occipital bone make it possible to draw the conclusion that fire arms of two calibres were employed in the shooting: in the majority of cases, those of less than 8mm., i.e., 7.65mm. or less, and in a lesser number of cases, those of more than 8mm., i.e., 9mm.

The nature of the fissures of the cranial bones, and the fact that in some cases traces of powder were found at the entry orifice, proves that the shots were fired pointblank or nearly pointblank. Correlation of the points of entry and exit of the bullets shows that the shots were fired from behind with the head bent forward. The bullet channel pierced the vital parts of the brain, or near them, and death was caused by destruction of the brain tissues. The injuries inflicted by a blunt, hard, heavy object found on the parietal bones of the cranium were concurrent with the bullet wounds of the head, and were not in themselves the cause of death.

The medico-legal examination of the bodies carried out between January 16 and January 23, 1944, testifies that there are absolutely no bodies in a condition of decay or disintegration, and that all the 925 bodies are in a state of preservation – in the initial phase of desiccation of the body – which most frequently and clearly was expressed in the region of the thorax and abdomen, sometimes also in the extremities; and in the initial stage of formation of adipocere (in an advanced phase of formation of adipocere in the bodies extracted from the bottom of the graves); in a combination of desiccation of the tissues of the body with the formation of adipocere.

Especially noteworthy is the fact that the muscles of the trunk and extremities absolutely preserved their macroscopic structure and almost normal colour; the internal organs of the thorax and peritoneal cavity preserved their configuration. In many cases sections of heart muscle have a clearly discernible structure and specific colouration, while the brain presented its characteristic structural peculiarities with a distinctly discernible border between the grey and white matter.

Besides the macroscopic examination of the tissues and organs of the bodies, the medico-legal experts removed the necessary material for subsequent microscopic and chemical studies in laboratory conditions.

Properties of the soil in the place of discovery were of a certain significance in the preservation of the tissues and organs of the bodies. After the opening of the graves and exhumation of the bodies and their exposure to the air, the corpses were subject to the action of warmth and moisture in the late summer season of 1943. This could have resulted in a vigorous progress of decay. However, the degree of desiccation of the bodies and formation of adipocere in them, especially the good state of preservation of the muscles and internal organs, as well as of the clothes, give grounds to affirm that the bodies had not remained in the earth for long.

Comparing the condition of bodies in the grave on the territory of “Kozy Gory” with the condition of the bodies in other burial places in Smolensk and its nearest environs – Gedeonovka, Maglenshchina, Readovka, Camp No. 126, Krasny Bor, etc. (see protocol of the Commission of Medico-Legal Experts dated October 22, 1943) – it should be admitted that the bodies of the Polish war prisoners were buried on the territory of “Kozy Gory” about two years ago. This finds its complete corroboration in the documents found in the clothes on the bodies, which preclude the possibility of earlier burial (see point” d ” of paragraph 36 and list of documents).

The commission of medico-legal experts, on the basis of the data and results of the investigation, consider as proved the fact of the killing by shooting of the Polish Army officer and private war prisoners; asserts that this shooting dates back to about two years ago, i.e. between September and December of 1941; regards the fact of the discovery by the commission of medico-legal experts, in the clothes on the bodies, of valuables and documents dated 1941, as proof that the German-Fascist authorities who undertook a search of the bodies in the spring-summer season of 1943 did not do it thoroughly, while the documents discovered testify that the shooting was done after June 1941; notes that in 1943 the Germans had made an extremely small number of post-mortem examinations of the bodies of the shot Polish war prisoners; notes the complete identity of method of the shooting of the Polish war prisoners with that of the shooting of Soviet civilians and war prisoners widely practised by the German-Fascist authorities in the temporarily occupied territory of the U.S.S.R., including the towns of Smolensk, Orel, Kharkov, Krasnodar and Voronezh.

Signed by the Chief Medico-Legal Expert of the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection of the U.S.S.R., Director of the State Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Medicine under the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection of the U.S.S.R., PROZOROVSKY; Professor of Forensic Medicine at the Second Moscow State Medical Institute, Doctor of Medicine SMOLYANINOV; Professor of Pathological Anatomy, Doctor of Medicine VOROPAYEV; Senior Staff Scientist of Thanatological Dept. of the State Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Medicine under the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection of the U.S.S.R., Doctor SEMENOVSKY; Senior Staff Scientist of the Forensic Chemistry Dept. of the State Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Medicine under the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection of the U.S.S.R., Assistant ProfessorSHYAIKOVA.

Smolensk, January 24, 1944.

Documents Found On the Bodies

Besides the data recorded in the protocol of the commission of medico-legal experts, the time of the shooting of the Polish officer prisoners by the Germans (autumn 1941, and not spring 1940 as the Germans assert) is also ascertained by documents found when the graves were opened, dating not only the latter half of 1940 but also the spring and summer (March-June) of 1941. Of the documents discovered by the medico-legal experts, the following deserve special attention:

1. On body No. 92: A letter from Warsaw addressed to the Central War Prisoners’ Bureau of the Red Cross, Moscow, Kuibyshev Street, House No. 12. The letter is written in Russian. In this letter Sofia Zigon inquires the whereabouts of her husband Tomasz Zigon. The letter is dated September 12, 1940. The envelope bears the impress of it German rubber stamp “Warsaw Sept. 1940” and a rubber stamp “Moscow, Central Post Office, ninth delivery, Sept. 28, 1940,” and an inscription in the Russian language: “Ascertain and forward for delivery, November 15, 1940” (signature illegible).

2. On body No. 4: A postcard registered under the number 0112 from Tarnopol stamped “Tarnopol Nov. 12, 1940.” The written text and address are discoloured.

3. On body No. 101: A receipt No. 10293 dated Dec. 19, 1939 issued by the Kozelsk Camp testifying receipt of a gold watch from Eduard Adamovich Lewandowski. On the back of the receipt is a note dated March 14, 1941 on the sale of this watch to the Jewellery Trading Trust.

4. On body No. 46: A receipt (number illegible) issued December 16, 1939 by the Starobelsk Camp testifying receipt of a gold watch from Vladimir Rudolfovich Araszkevicz. On the back of the receipt is a note dated March 25, 1941 stating that the watch was sold to the Jewellery Trading Trust.

5. On body No. 71: A small paper ikon with the image of Christ, found between pages 114 and 145 of a Catholic prayer book. The inscription, with legible signature, on the back of the ikon reads: “Jadwiga” and bears the date April 4, 1941.”

6. On body No. 46: A receipt dated April 6, 1941 issued by the Camp No. 1-ON, showing receipt of a sum in roubles from Araszkevicz.

7. On the same body No. 46: A receipt dated May 5, 1941 issued by Camp No. 1-ON, showing receipt of 102 roubles from Araszkevicz.

8. On body No. 101: A receipt dated May 15, 1941 issued by Camp No. 1 showing receipt of 175 roubles from Lewandowski.

9. On body No. 53: An unmailed postcard in the Polish language addressed Warsaw Bagatelia, 15, Flat 47, to Irene Kuczinska, and dated June 20, 1941. The sender is Stanislaw Kuczinski.

Conclusions of the Special Commission

From all the material at the disposal of the Special Commission, namely evidence given by over 100 witnesses questioned, data supplied by the medico-legal experts, documents and material evidence found in the graves in the Katyn Forest, the following conclusions emerge with irrefutable clarity:

1. The Polish prisoners of war who were in the three camps west of Smolensk, and employed on road building before the outbreak of war, remained there after the German invaders reached Smolensk, until September, 1941, inclusive.

2. In the Katyn Forest, in the autumn of 1941, the German occupation authorities carried out mass shootings of Polish prisoners of war from the above-named camps.

3. The mass shootings of Polish prisoners of war in the Katyn Forest was carried out by a German military organisation hiding behind the conventional name “H.Q. of the 537th Engineering Battalion,” which consisted of Ober-leutnant Arnes, his assistant, Ober-leutnant Rekst, and Lieutenant Hott.

4. In connection with the deterioration of the general military and political situation for Germany at the beginning of the year 1943, the German occupation authorities, with provocational aims, took a number of steps in order to ascribe their own crimes to the organs of the Soviet Power, calculating on setting Russians and Poles at loggerheads.

5. With this aim, (a) the German-Fascist invaders, using persuasion, attempts at bribery, threats and barbarous torture, tried to find witnesses among Soviet citizens, from whom they tried to extort false evidence alleging that the Polish prisoners of war had been shot by the organs of Soviet Power in the spring of 1940; (b) the German occupation authorities in the spring of 1943 brought in from other districts bodies of Polish war prisoners whom they had shot and put them into the open graves in the Katyn Forest, calculating on covering up the traces of their own crimes, and on increasing the number of “victims of Bolshevik atrocities” in the Katyn Forest; (c) preparing for their provocation, the German occupation authorities started opening the graves in the Katyn Forest in order to take out documents and material evidence which exposed them, using for this work about 500 Russian prisoners of war who were shot by the Germans after the work was completed.

6. It has been established beyond doubt from the evidence of the medico-legal experts, that (a) the time of the shooting was the autumn of 1941; (b) in shooting the Polish war prisoners the German hangmen applied the same method of pistol shots in the back of the head as they applied in the mass execution of Soviet citizens in other towns, e.g., Orel, Voronezh, Krasnodar and Smolensk itself.

7. The conclusions drawn from the evidence given by witnesses, and from the shooting of Polish war prisoners by the Germans in the autumn of 1941, are completely confirmed by the material evidence and documents excavated from the Katyn graves.

8. In shooting the Polish war prisoners in the Katyn Forest, the German-Fascist invaders consistently carried out their policy of physical extermination of the Slav peoples.

Signed:

Chairman of the Special Commission, Member of the Extraordinary State Commission, Academician Burdenko.

Members:

Member of the Extraordinary State Commission, Academician Alexei Tolstoy.
Member of the Extraordinary State Commission, the Metropolitan Nikolai.
Chairman of the All-Slav Committee, Lieutenant-General Gundorov.
Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Union of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Kolesnikov.
People’s Commissar for Education of the Russian S.F.S.R., Academician Potemkin.
Chief of the Central Medical Administration of the Red Army, Colonel-General Smirnov.
Chairman of the Smolensk Regional Executive Committee, Melnikov.

Smolensk, January 24, 1944.

Source

Bill Bland: The “Cult of the Individual” (1934-52)

greathelmsman

A paper read by Bill Bland to the Stalin Society in May 1991.

Introduction

Bland was the founder of the Stalin Society (UK), but was expelled some years later for daring to challenge assumptions (“truths”) about Mao and the Comintern, and only finally re-instated as a member just before his death.

He detested all attempts at refusal to deal honestly with facts.

He put this to good example here, in this speech on the Cult of Personality surrounding Stalin.

Members of the Stalin Society objected to its novel interpretations of how and who had erected this cult.

This talk took many iterations in Bill’s life, but started as a talk to the Youth of the Communist League in 1976. It remains relevant today.

The “Cult of the Individual” (1934-52)

On 14 February 1956 Nikita Khrushchev, (Nikita Khrushchev, Soviet revisionist politician (1894-1971); First Secretary of Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1953-64); Premier (1958-64) then First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, publicly, but obliquely, attacked Stalin at the 20th Congress of the Party:

“It is of paramount importance to re-establish and to strengthen in every way the Leninist principle of collective leadership. . . .The Central Committee . . . vigorously condemns the cult of the individual as being alien to the spirit of Marxism-Leninism.”

(N. S. Khrushchev: Report to the Central Committee, 20th Congress of the CPSU, February 1056; London; 1956; p. 80-81).

In his “secret speech” to the same Congress on 25 February (leaked to the US State Department but not published within the Soviet Union) attacked Stalin more directly, asserting that

“… the cult of the individual acquired such monstrous size chiefly because Stalin himself, using all conceivable methods, supported the glorification of his own person.”

(Russian Institute, Columbia University (Ed.): ‘The Anti-Stalin Campaign and International Communism’; New York; 1956; p. 69).

Yet many witnesses testify to Stalin’s simplicity and modesty.

The French writer Henri Barbusse (1873-1935) describes the simplicity of Stalin’s life-style:

“One goes up to the first floor, where white curtains hang over three of the windows. These three windows are Stalin’s home. In the tiny hall a long military cloak hangs on a peg beneath a cap. In addition to this hall there are three bedrooms and a dining-room. The bedrooms are as simply furnished as those of a respectable, second-class hotel. . . The eldest son, Jasheka, sleeps at night in the dining room, on a divan which is converted into a bed; the younger sleeps in a tiny recess, a sort of alcove opening out of it. Each month he earns the five hundred roubles which constitute the meagre maximum salary of the officials of the Communist Party (amounting to between £20 and £25 in English money). . . . This frank and brilliant man is a simple man. He does not employ thirty-two secretaries, like Mr. Lloyd George; he has only one. . .

Stalin systematically gives credit for all progress made to Lenin, whereas the credit has been in very large measure his own.”

(H. Barbusse: ‘Stalin: A New World seen through One Man’; London; 1935; p. vii, viii, 291, 294).

True, Stalin had the use of a dacha, or country cottage, but here too his life was equally simple, as his daughter Svetlana relates:

“It was the same with the dacha at Kuntsevo. . . .

My father lived on the ground floor. He lived in one room and made it do for everything. He slept on the sofa, made up at night as a bed.”

(S. Alliluyeva: ‘Letters to a Friend’; London; 1967; p. 28).

The Albanian leader Enver Hoxha (Albanian Marxist-Leninist politician (1908-85); leader of the Communist Party of Albania (later the Party of Labour of Albania)(1941- 85); Prime Minister (1944-54); Minister of Foreign Affairs (1946-54) describes Stalin as “modest” and “considerate”:

“Stalin was no tyrant, no despot. He was a man of principle; he was just, modest and very kindly and considerate towards people, the cadres and his colleagues.”

(E. Hoxha: ‘With Stalin: Memoirs’; Tirana; 1979; p. 14-15).

The British Fabians Sidney and Beatrice Webb (Sidney Webb, British economist (1859-1947); Beatrice Webb, British economist and sociologist (1858-1943), in their monumental work “Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation,” emphatically reject the notion that Stalin exercised dictatorial power:

“Sometimes it is asserted that the whole state is governed by the will of a single person, Josef Stalin . . First let it be noted that, unlike Mussolini, Hitler and other modern dictators, Stalin is not invested by law with any authority over his fellow-citizens. He has not even the extensive power . . . . .which the American Constitution entrusts for four years to every successive president. . . . .Stalin is not, and never has been, . . . . the President of the USSR. . . . .He is not even a People’s Commissar, or member of the Cabinet.

He is . . . the General Secretary of the Party.

We do not think that the Party is governed by the will of a single person, or that Stalin is the sort of person to claim or desire such a position. He has himself very explicitly denied any such personal dictatorship in terms which certainly accord with our own impression of the facts.

The Communist Party in the USSR has adopted for its own organisation the pattern which we have described. . . . . . In this pattern individual dictatorship has no place. Personal decisions are distrusted, and elaborately guarded against. In order to avoid the mistakes due to bias, anger, jealousy, vanity and other distempers . . . . it is desirable that the individual will should always be controlled by the necessity of gaining the assent of colleagues of equal grade, who have candidly discussed the matter and who have to make themselves jointly responsible for the decision. . . . .Stalin . . . . has . . . . frequently pointed out that he does no more than carry out the decisions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. . . The plain truth is that, surveying the administration of the USSR during the past decade under the alleged dictatorship of Stalin, principal decisions have manifested neither the promptitude nor the timeliness, nor yet the fearless obstinacy that have often been claimed as the merits of a dictatorship. On the contrary, the action of the Party has frequently been taken after consideration-so prolonged, and as the outcome of discussion sometimes so heated and embittered, as to bear upon their formulation the marks of hesitancy and lack of assurance. . . .These policies have borne . . . . the stigmata of committee control.”

(S. & B. Webb: ‘Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation’; London; p.. 4231, 432, 433, 435).

Perhaps Barbusse, Hoxha and the Webbs may be considered biased witnesses. Yet observers who are highly critical of Stalin agree with the testimony of the former.

The American diplomat Joseph Davies (Joseph Davies, American lawyer and diplomat (1876-1958); Chairman (1915-16) and Vice-Chairman (1916-18) of Federal Trade Commission; Ambassador to Moscow (1936-38), to Belgium (1938-39) remarks on Stalin’s simple, kindly manner:

“I was startled to see the door . . . open and Mr. Stalin come into the room alone.. . . . His demeanour is kindly, his manner almost depreciatingly simple. . . .He greeted me cordially with a smile and with great simplicity, but also with a real dignity. . . .His brown eye is exceedingly kindly and gentle. A child would like to sit in his lap and a dog would sidle up to him.”

(J. E. Davies: ‘Mission to Moscow’; London; 1940; p. 222, 230).

Isaac Don Levine (Isaac Don Levine, Russian-born American newspaper correspondent (1892-1981) writes in his hostile biography of Stalin:

“Stalin does not seek honours. He loathes pomp. He is averse to public displays. He could have all the nominal regalia in the chest of a great state. But he prefers the background”

(I. D. Levine: ‘Stalin: A Biography’; London; 1931; p. 248-49).

Another hostile critic, Louis Fischer (Louis Fischer, American writer (1896-1970), testifies to Stalin’s “capacity to listen”:

“Stalin . . . inspires the Party with his will-power and calm. Individuals in contact with him admire his capacity to listen and his skill in improving on the suggestions and drafts of highly intelligent subordinates.”

(L. Fischer: Article in: ‘The Nation’, Volume 137 (9 August 1933); p. 154).

Eugene Lyons (Eugene Lyons, Russian-born American writer (1898-1985), in his biography entitled “Stalin: Czar of All the Russias,” describes Stalin’s simple way of life:

“Stalin lives in a modest apartment of three rooms. . . . In his everyday life his tastes remained simple almost to the point of crudeness. .. Even those who hated him with a desperate hate and blamed him for sadistic cruelties never accused him of excesses in his private life.

Those who measure ‘success’ by millions of dollars, yachts and mistresses find it hard to understand power relished in austerity. . .

There was nothing remotely ogre-like in his looks or conduct, nothing theatrical in his manner. A pleasant, earnest, ageing man — evidently willing to be friendly to the first foreigner whom, he had admitted to his presence in years. ‘He’s a thoroughly likeable person’, I remember thinking as we sat there, and thinking it in astonishment.”

(E. Lyons: ‘Stalin: Czar of All the Russias’; Philadelphia; 1940; p. 196, 200).

Lyons asked Stalin. “Are you a dictator?”:

“Stalin smiled, implying that the question was on the preposterous side.

‘No’, he said slowly, ‘I am no dictator. Those who use the word do not understand the Soviet system of government and the methods of the Soviet system of government and the methods of the Communist Party. No one man or group of men can dictate. Decisions are made by the Party and acted upon by its organs, the Central Committee and the Politburo.”‘

(E. Lyons: ibid.; p. 203).

The Finnish revisionist Arvo Tuominen (Arvo Tuominen, Finnish revisionist politician (1894-1981) — strongly hostile to Stalin — comments in his book “The Bells of the Kremlin” on Stalin’s personal self -effacement:

“In his speeches and writings Stalin always withdrew into the background, speaking only of communism, the Soviet power and the Party, and stressing that he was really a representative of the idea and the organisation, nothing more.. . . . I never noticed any signs of vainglory in Stalin.”

(A. Tuominen: ‘The Bells of the Kremlin’; Hanover (New Hampshire, USA); 1983; p. 155, 163).

and expresses surprise at the contrast between the real Stalin and the propaganda picture spread of him:

“During my many years in Moscow I never stopped marvelling at the contrast between the man and the colossal likenesses that had been made of him. That medium-sized, slightly pock-marked Causasian with a moustache was as far removed as could be from that stereotype of a dictator. But at the same time the propaganda was proclaiming his superhuman abilities.”

(A. Tuominen: ibid.,; p. 155).

The Soviet marshal Georgy Zhukov (Georgy Zhukov, Soviet military officer (1896-1974); Chief of Staff (1941); Marshal (1943); Minister of Defence (1955-57) speaks of Stalin’s “lack of affectation”:

“Free of affectation and mannerisms, he (Stalin — Ed.) won the heart of everyone he talked with.”

(G. K. Zhukov: ‘The Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov’; London; 1971; p. 283).

Stalin’s daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva (Svetlana Alliluyeva, Stalin’s daughter (1926- ) is gullible enough to accept almost every slander circulated about her father, but even she dismisses the charge that he himself engineered the ‘cult’ of his personality. She describes a train trip with Stalin from the Crimea to Moscow in 1948:

“As we pulled in at the various stations we’d go for a stroll along the platform. My father walked as far as the engine, giving greetings to the railway workers as he went. You couldn’t see a single passenger. It was a special train and no one was allowed on the platform. Who ever thought such a thing up? . . . . Who had contrived all these stratagems? Not he. It was the system of which he himself was a prisoner and in which he suffered from loneliness, emptiness and lack of human companionship. . . Nowadays when I read or hear somewhere that my father used to consider himself practically a god, it amazes me that people who knew him well can even say such a thing.. . . He never thought of himself as a god.”

(S. Alleluyeva: ‘Letters to a Friend’; London; 1968; p. 202-03, 213).

She describes the grief of the servants at the dacha when Stalin died:

“These men and women who were servants of my father loved him. In little things he wasn’t hard to please. On the contrary, he was courteous, unassuming and direct with those who waited on him. . .Men, women, everyone, started crying all over again. . . .

No one was making a show of loyalty or grief. All of them had known one another for years. . . . . .

No one in this room looked on him as a god or a superman, a genius or a demon. They loved and respected him for the most ordinary human qualities, those qualities of which servants are the best judges of all.”

(S. Alliluyeva: ibid,; p. 20, 22).

Furthermore, the facts show that on numerous occasions denounced and ridiculed the “cult of the individual” as contrary to Marxism-Leninism. For example,

June 1926
“I must say in all conscience, comrades, that I do not deserve a good half of the flattering things that have been said here about me. I am, it appears, a hero of the October Revolution, the leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet, the leader of the Communist International, a legendary warrior-knight and all the rest of it. This is absurd, comrades, and quite unnecessary exaggeration. It is the sort of thing that is usually said at the graveside of a departed revolutionary. But I have no intention of dying yet. . . . .
I really was, and still am, one of the pupils of the advanced workers of the Tiflis railway workshops.”
(J. V. Stalin: `Works’, Volume 8; Moscow; 1954; p. 182)

October 1927
“And what is Stalin? Stalin is only a minor figure.”
(J. V. Stalin: `Works’. Volume 10; Moscow; Moscow; 1954; p. 177).

December 1929
“Your congratulations and greetings I place to the credit of the great Party of the working class which bore me and reared me in its own image and likeness. And just because I place them to the credit of our glorious Leninist Party, I make bold to tender you my Bolshevik thanks.”
(J. V. Stalin: ‘Works’, Volume 12; Moscow; 1955; p. 146).

April 1930
“There are some who think that the article ‘Dizzy with Success’ was the result of Stalin’s personal initiative. That, of course, is nonsense. It is not in order that personal initiative is a matter like this be taken by anyone, whoever he might be, that we have a Central Committee.”
(J. V. Stalin: ‘Works’, ibid.; p. 218).

August 1930
“You speak of your devotion’ to me.. . . . I would advise you to discard the ‘principle’ of devotion to persons. It is not the Bolshevik way. Be devoted to the working class, its Party, its state. That is a fine and useful thing. But do not confuse it with devotion to persons, this vain and useless bauble of weak-minded intellectuals.”
(J. V. Stalin: ‘Works’, Volume 13; Moscow; 1955; p. 20).

December 1931
“As for myself, I am just a pupil of Lenin’s, and the aim of my life is to be a worthy pupil of his. . . .

Marxism does not deny at all the role played by outstanding individuals or that history is made by people. But great people are worth anything at all only to the extent that they are able correctly to understand these conditions, to understand how to change them. If they fail to understand these conditions and want to alter them according to the promptings of their imagination, they will find themselves in the situation of Don Quixote. . . . .

Individual persons cannot decide. Decisions of individuals are ,always, or nearly always, one-sided decisions. . . . . In every collective body, there are people whose opinion must be reckoned with. . . . . From the experience of three revolutions we know that out of every 100 decisions taken by individual persons without being tested and corrected collectively, approximately 90 are one-sided. . . . . Never under any circumstances would our workers now tolerate power in the hands of one person. With us personages of the greatest authority are reduced to nonentities, become mere ciphers, as soon as the masses of the workers lose confidence in them.”
(J. V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 107-08, 109, 113).

February 1933
“I have received your letter ceding me your second Order as a reward for my work. I thank you very much for your warm words and comradely present. I know what you are depriving yourself of in my favour and appreciate your sentiments.

Nevertheless, I cannot accept your second Order. I cannot and must not accept it, not only because it can only belong to you, as you alone have earned it, but also because I have been amply rewarded as it is by the attention and respect of comrades and, consequently, have no right to rob you. Orders were instituted not for those who are well known as it is, but mainly for heroic people who are little known and who need to be made known to all. Besides, I must tell you that I already have two Orders. That is more than one needs, I assure you.”
(J. V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 241).

May 1933
Robins: I consider it a great honour to have an opportunity of paying you a visit.
Stalin: There is nothing particular in that. You are exaggerating.
Robins: What is most interesting to me is that throughout Russia I have found the names Lenin-Stalin, Lenin-Stalin, Lenin-Stalin, linked together.
Stalin: That, too, is an exaggeration. How can I be compared to Lenin?”
(J. V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 267)

February 1938
“I am absolutely against the publication of ‘Stories of the Childhood of Stalin’.

The book abounds with a mass of inexactitudes of fact, of alterations, of exaggerations and off unmerited praise. . But . . . . the important thing resides it the fact that the book has a tendency to engrave on the minds of Soviet children (and people in general) the personality cult of leaders, of infallible heroes. This is dangerous and detrimental. The theory of ‘heroes’ and the ‘crowd’ is not a Bolshevik, but a Social-Revolutionary (Anarchist) theory. I suggest we burn this book.”
(J. V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 327).

Thus, the “cult of the individual” as built up around Stalin was contrary to Marxism-Leninism and its practice was contrary to the expressed wishes of Stalin”.

This raises an important question.

When I expressed at a previous meeting of the Stalin Society the view that the Marxist-Leninists were in a minority in the Soviet leadership from the late 1920s, there were loud murmurs of dissent from some members.

But we have seen that, although Stalin expressed strong opposition to the “cult of personality,” the “cult of personality” continued.

It therefore follows irrefutably that

1) either Stalin was unable to stop it,
2) or he did not want to stop it and so was a petty-minded, lying, non-Marxist-Leninist, hypocrite.

The Initiators of the “Cult”

But if the “cult of personality” around Stalin was not built up by Stalin, but against his wishes, by whom was it built up?

The facts show that the most fervent exponents of the ‘cult of personality’ around Stalin were revisionists and concealed revisionists like Karl Radek (Soviet revisionist politician (1885-1939); pleaded guilty at his public trial to terrorism and treason (1937); murdered in prison by fellow-prisoner (1939), Nikita Khrushchev and Anastas Mikoyan (Soviet revisionist politician (1895-1978); Politburo member (1935-78); People’s Commissar for Trade (1926-31), for Supply (1931-34), for Food Industry (1934-38), for Foreign Trade (1938-49) Deputy Premier (1946-64); President (1964-65).

Roy Medvedev (Soviet revisionist historian (1925- ) points out that:

“The first issue of ‘Pravda;’ for 1934 carried a huge two-page article by Radek, heaping orgiastic praise on Stalin. The former Trotskyite, who had led the opposition to Stalin for many years, now called him ‘Lenin’s best pupil, the model of the Leninist Party, bone of its bone, blood of its blood’. . . . He ‘is as far-sighted as Lenin’, and so on and on. This seems to have been the first large article in the press specifically devoted to the adulation of Stalin, and it was quickly reissued as a pamphlet in 225,000 copies, an enormous figure for the time.”

(R. A. Medvedev: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism’; London; 1972; p. 148).

At his public trial in January 1937 Radek admitted to terrorism and treason:

“Vyshinsky: What did Mrachovsky (Soviet Trotskyist politician (1883-1936); pleaded guilty to terrorism and treason at his public trial in August 1936 and was sentenced to death) reply?

Radek: He replied quite definitely that the struggle had entered the terrorist phase. . . In April 1933 Mrachovsky asked me whether I would mention any Trotskyite in Leningrad who would undertake the organisation of a terrorist group there.

Vyshinsky: Against whom?

Radek: Against Kirov (Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1886-1934); Secretary of CPSU in Azerbaijan (1921-36), in Leningrad (1926-34); Member of Politburo (1930-34); assassinated by terrorist (1934) of course.

Vyshinsky: In 1934-35 your position was that of organised, systematic perpetration of terrorist acts?

Radek: Yes. We would inevitably have to bring the social structure of the USSR into line with the victorious fascist countries . . . a pseudonym for the restoration of capitalism. It was clear to us that this meant fascism. . . serving foreign finance capital. It was planned to surrender the Ukraine to Germany and . . the Maritime province and the Amur region to Japan.”

(Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Centre; Moscow; 1937; p. 88, 90, 103, 115).

It was Khrushchev who introduced the term “vozhd” (“leader,” corresponding to the German word “Fuhrer”). At the Moscow Party Conference in January 1932, Khrushchev finished his speech by saying:

“The Moscow Bolsheviks, rallied around the Leninist Central Committee as never before, and around the ‘vozhd’ of our Party, Comrade Stalin, are cheerfully and confidently marching toward new victories in the battles for socialism, for world proletarian revolution.”

(‘Rabochaya Moskva’, 26 January 1932, cited in: L. Pistrak: ‘The Grand Tactician: Khrushchev’s Rise to Power’; London; 1961; p. 159).

At the 17th Party Conference in January 1934 it was Khrushchev, and Khrushchev alone, who called Stalin “vozhd of genius.” (XVII s’ezd Vsesoiuznoi Kommunisticheskoi Partii (B.); p, 145, cited in: L. Pistrak: ibid.; p. 160).

In August 1936, during the treason trial of Lev Kamenev (Soviet ; sentenced to death and executed (1936) and Grigory Zinoviev (Soviet Trotskyist politician (1883-1936); President of Communist International (1919-26); admitted to treason at his public trial (1936); sentenced to death and executed (1936), Khrushchev, in his capacity as Moscow Party Secretary, said:

“Miserable pygmies! They lifted their hands against the greatest of all men. . . . our wise ‘vozhd’, Comrade Stalin! Thou, Comrade Stalin, hast raised the great banner of Marxism-Leninism high over the entire world and carried it forward. We assure thee, Comrade Stalin, that the Moscow Bolshevik organisation — the faithful supporter of the Stalinist Central Committee — will increase Stalinist vigilance still more, will extirpate the Trotskyite-Zinovievite remnants, and close the ranks of the Party and non-Party Bolsheviks even more around the Stalinist Central Committee and the great Stalin.”

(‘Pravda’, 23 August 1936, cited in: L. Pistrak: ibid,; p. 162).

At the Eighth All-Union Congress of Soviets in November 1936 it was again Khrushchev who proposed that the new Soviet Constitution, which was before the Congress for approval, should be called the “Stalinist Constitution” because “it was written from beginning to end by Comrade Stalin himself.” (‘Pravda’, 30 November 1936, cited in: L. Pistrak: ibid.; p. 161).

It has to be noted that Vyacheslav Molotov (Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1890-1986); Member of Politburo (1926-53); Prime Minister (1930-41); Deputy Prime Minister (1941-57); Minister of Foreign Affairs (1939-49, 1953-56); Ambassador to Mongolia (1957-60), then Prime Minister, and Andrey Zhdanov (Andrey Zhdanov. Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1896-1948); Member of Politburo (1935-48), then Party Secretary in Leningrad) did not mention any special role by Stalin in the drafting of the Constitution.

In the same speech Khrushchev coined the term “Stalinism”:

“Our Constitution is the Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism that has conquered one sixth of the globe.” (Ibid.).

Khrushchev’s speech in Moscow to an audience of 200,000 at the time of the treason trial of Grigori Pyatakov (Grigory Pyatakov, Soviet Trotskyist politician (1890-1937); Assistant People’s Commissar for Heavy Industry (1931-37); admitted to treason at his public trial (1937); sentenced to death and executed (1937) and Karl Radek in January 1937 was in a similar vein:

“By lifting their hands against Comrade Stalin they lifted them against all the best that humanity possesses. For Stalin is hope; he is expectation; he is the beacon that guides all progressive mankind. Stalin is our banner! Stalin is our will! Stalin is our victory!”

(‘Pravda’, 31 January 1937), cited in: L. Pistrak: ibid,; p., 162).

Stalin was described by Khrushchev in March 1939 as:

“. . . . our great genius, our beloved Stalin”,

(‘Visti VTsVK’, 3 March 1939, cited in: L. Pistrak: ibid,; p. 164)

at the 18th Congress of the Party in March 1939 as:

“…the greatest genius of humanity, teacher and ‘vozhd’, who leads us towards Communism, our very own Stalin.”

(XVIII s’ezd Vsesoiueznoi Kommunisticheskoi Partii (B). in: p. 174; cited in L. Pistrak: ibid,; p. 164).

and in May 1945 as

“. . . . great Marshal of the Victory.”

(‘Pravda Ukrainy’, 13 May 1945, cited in: L. Pistrak: ibid.; p. 164).

On the occasion of the celebration of Stalin’s fiftieth birthday in December 1929, Anastas Mikoyan accompanied his congratulations with the demand

“that we, meeting the rightful demand of the masses, begin finally to work on his biography and make it available to the Party and to all working people in our country.”

(‘Izvestia’, 21 December 1929, cited in: L. Pistrak: ibid,;164).

Ten years later, on the occasion of Stalin’s sixtieth birthday in December 1939, Mikoyan was still urging the creation of a “. . . scientific biography” (‘Pravda’, 21 December 1939, cited in: L. Pistrak: ibid,.; p. 158) of Stalin.

The biography was eventually published in 1947, compiled by “G. F. Alexandrov, M. R. Galaktionov, V. S. Kruzhkov, M. B. Mitin, V. D. Mochalov and P. N. Pospelov” (‘Joseph Stalin: A Short Biography’; Moscow; 1947).

However, in his “secret speech” to the 20th Congress of the CPSU in 1956, basing himself on the “cult of the individual” which he and his colleagues had built up around Stalin, Khrushchev attributed the authorship of the book to Stalin himself:

“One of the most characteristic examples of Stalin’s self -glorification and of his lack of even elementary modesty is the edition of his ‘Short Biography’. This book is an example of the most dissolute flattery.”

(Russian Institute, Columbia University (Ed.): op. cit.; p. 69).

Motives for Building up the “Cult of the Individual”

Of course, many Soviet citizens admired Stalin and expressed this admiration. But clearly, the “cult of the individual” around Stalin was built up mainly by the concealed revisionists, against Stalin’s wishes, in order:

Firstly, to disguise the fact that the Party and the Communist International were dominated by concealed revisionists and to present the fiction that these were dominated personally by Stalin; thus blame for breaches of socialist legality and for deviations from Marxist-Leninist principles on their part could later be laid on Stalin;

Secondly, to provide a pretext for attacking Stalin at a later date (under the guise of carrying out a programme of “democratisation,” which was in fact a programme of dismantling socialism.

That Stalin himself was not unaware of the fact that concealed revisionists were the main force behind the “cult of persona lily” was reported by the Finnish revisionist Tuominen in 1935, who describes how, when he was informed that busts of him had been given prominent places in the Moscow’s leading art gallery, the Tretyakov, Stalin exclaimed:

“That’s downright sabotage!” (A. Touminen: op. cit.; p. 164).

The German writer Lion Feuchtwanger (Lion Feuchtwanger, German writer (1884-1958) in 1936 confirms that Stalin suspected that the “cult of personality” was being fostered by “wreckers” with the aim of discrediting him:

“It is manifestly irksome to Stalin to be worshipped as he is, and from time to time he makes fun of it. … Of all the men I know who have power, Stalin is the most unpretentious. I spoke frankly to him about the vulgar and excessive cult made of him, and he replied with equal candour. . . He thinks it is possible even that ‘wreckers’ may be behind it in an attempt to discredit him.”

(L. Feuchtwanger: ‘Moscow 1937’; London; 1937; p., 93, 94-95).

To conclude, the attack made by the revisionists on the ‘cult of personality’ in the Soviet Union was an attack not only upon Stalin personally as a leading Marxist-Leninist, a leading, defender of socialism, but as the first stage in an attack upon Marxism-Leninism and the socialist system in the Soviet Union.

Perhaps the best comment on it is the sarcastic toast which the Finnish revisionist Tuominen records as having been proposed by Stalin at a New Year Party in 1935:

“Comrades! I want to propose a toast to our patriarch, life and sun, liberator of nations, architect of socialism (he rattled off all the appelations applied to him in those days), Josef Vissarionovich Stalin, and I hope this is the first and last speech made to that genius this evening.”

(A. Tuominen: op. cit.; p. 162).

Source

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia on the Spanish Civil War

1936 March of Leningrad for Spain

Spanish Revolution of 1931–39

a revolution during which there evolved in Spain a democratic republic which for about three years from the middle of 1936 struggled for its existence, waging a national revolutionary war against fascist insurgents and Italo-German invaders. The specific features of the Spanish Revolution were in large measure attributable to certain distinctive characteristics of Spain’s historical development, above all the exceptional vitality of feudal vestiges (the landlords, who are the chief heirs of the feudal traditions, have formed a close alliance with the financial-industrial oligarchy in the years of the fascist regime). The axis of the political struggle that unfolded on the eve of the revolutionary eruption was the antagonism between the bloc of landowning aristocracy and the financial oligarchy (its dominance personified by the monarchy) and the Spanish people as a whole. The contradictions of the social and political system that prevailed were exacerbated by the economic crisis that enveloped Spain in the middle of 1930.

Striving to avert the collapse of the monarchy, which then ruled Spain, the government of Berenguer, which had replaced the dictatorship of General Primo de Rivera in January 1930, issued a decree scheduling elections to the Cortes for March 19. This maneuver failed, because with the revolutionary upsurge in the country the opposition forces refused to take part in the elections and forced Berenguer to resign (Feb. 14, 1931). King Alfonso XIII (ruled 1902–31) named Admiral Aznar as head of the government in place of General Berenguer. The new government immediately announced municipal-council elections for April 12. The elections developed into a decisive antimonarch-ical plebiscite. The republicans won the elections in every city in Spain. The overwhelming majority of Spain’s population came out for a republic. The day after the elections, the leader of the Catalonian national movement, Maciá, proclaimed the creation of a Catalonian republic. On Apr. 14, 1931, the Revolutionary Committee (created by leaders of the bourgeois republican movement on the basis of the Pact of San Sebastián of 1930) gathered in the Ministry of Internal Affairs building and formed a provisional government, headed by Alcalá-Zamora (leader of the Democratic Liberal Party). That day the king abdicated. On June 27, 1931, the Constituent Cortes assembled and on Dec. 9, 1931, adopted a republican constitution.

This peaceful revolution took power away from the landowning aristocracy and big bourgeoisie; the bloc that took over represented the entire bourgeoisie except certain groups of monopoly capitalists. Striving to build themselves a base among the masses, the bourgeoisie recruited the Socialist Party to participate in the government. In December 1931 the pressure of the masses led to the removal from power of the two most right-wing political parties in the government bloc: the Conservatives (led by M. Maura) and the Radicals (led by A. Lerroux). Leadership of the government proved to be in the hands of petit bourgeois republicans, who did not take the path of radical socioeconomic reforms. The new bourgeois-democratic system preserved the latifundia system, rent in kind, and métayage (sharecropping) and failed to carry out an agrarian reform—a reform that was so essential for Spain, “a country of land without people and people without land,” and one demanded by millions of downtrodden peasants and farm workers. Republican and Socialist ministers alienated the masses from the republic, pursuing a policy of flirtation with reactionaries and of violence against the working class and the peasantry, thereby clearing the path for counterrevolutionary forces that started to prepare to restore the old order. That is why the military revolt of Aug. 10, 1932, led by General Sanjurjo, became possible, but it was quickly suppressed because of retaliatory action by the masses (Sanjurjo, who was first sentenced to death and then to 30 years in prison, was released in 1934 by the Lerroux government). In September 1933, as a result of a drive by the reactionaries, the Socialists were ousted from the government. The split in the Republican-Socialist bloc, which resulted from the government’s contradictory and inconsistent domestic policy, produced a political crisis. The republican parties, under the pressure of rightist forces, split into small groups. The parliament was dissolved. New elections (Nov. 19, 1933) brought victory to the Radical Party and the right-wing profascist forces. The Socialist Party lost almost half of its seats.

Having scored a victory in the 1933 elections, the reactionaries were in a position to seize power legally and to undermine the republic from within. With this objective, the reactionary forces merged into the Confederation of Autonomous Rights (CEDA), headed by Gil Robles. In early October 1934 the CEDA, after a series of preparatory maneuvers, joined the government.

During this period the Communist Party of Spain (CPS; created in 1920) was becoming the leader and organizer of the masses, which were uniting against the forces of counterrevolution. The Communist Party advanced agrarian reform as the most important measure aimed at democratizing the country. It demanded that the domination of the country’s economic and social life by large national and foreign banks and monopolies be restricted. The party strongly supported the right to self-determination of Catalonia, the Basque Provinces, and Galicia, the granting of full independence to Morocco, and the withdrawal of Spanish troops from North Africa. In the opinion of the Communists, the republic had to carry out a democratic rejuvenation of the state apparatus and above all of the command of the Spanish Army. The Communist Party contended that it was essential for the consistent democratization of the country that the working class act as the leader of the popular masses, with the unification of all the forces of the working class being the most important precondition of this democratization. Therefore, the party made the struggle for the unity of the working class the mainspring of its policy. The policy of unity was making headway in the masses; it also found a sympathetic response in the ranks of the Socialist Party, which was going through an acute crisis since the party had been ousted from the government. While the defeat and failure of their policy prodded some Socialist leaders into an overt move to the right, toward liberalism, and into an abandonment of class positions, a segment of the leadership closer to the proletariat, led by F. Largo Caballero, actively joined the antifascist struggle. This made it possible during 1934 to achieve the first successes in establishing unity of action between the Communist and Socialist parties.

When the CEDA joined the government on Oct. 4, 1934, the masses, led by the Socialist and Communist parties, immediately expressed their opposition. A general strike was declared in Spain, which in Asturias, the Basque Provinces, Catalonia, and Madrid grew into an armed revolt. The struggle was sharpest and broadest in Asturias. The government flung against the working people units of the Foreign Legion and Moroccan units, which dealt with the Asturian miners with particular brutality. The repressions against the rebel movement in October 1934 were led by General F. Franco, who was already preparing a plot against the republic. Although the October Uprising of 1934 was defeated because of inadequate preparation and lack of coordination of action, it was able to delay the realization of the reactionaries’ plans and generate throughout the country a mass movement of solidarity with the insurgents and hatred for the reactionaries, thus preparing conditions for the formation of the Popular Front.

Two months after the struggle in Asturias ended, an underground liaison committee of the leaders of the Socialist and Communist parties was created at the initiative of the Communist Party. In May 1935 the CPS, enjoying the support of the antifascist bloc that had been in operation for several months, proposed to the Socialist Party that a popular front be formed. But the Socialist Party, under the pretext that it was unwilling to cooperate with the bourgeois republican parties that had expelled it from the government, refused. Although the Communist proposal was not accepted on a nationwide scale, numerous local Popular Front committees and committees of liaison between the Socialists and Communists sprang up, and they carried out the policy of unity in practice. Based on the decisions of the seventh congress on the Comintern (July 25-Aug. 20, 1935, in Moscow), the Communist Party began exploiting the successes achieved in creating the Popular Front. In December 1935 the General Confederation of United Workers, which was under Communist influence, joined the General Union of Workers (UGT), which was led by the Socialists. This was an important step toward trade union solidarity.

In December 1935, under the pressure of the masses, the reactionary government was forced to resign. The new government was headed by the bourgeois democrat Portela Valladares, who dissolved parliament and scheduled new elections. This was a victory for the democratic forces that hastened the creation of the Popular Front. On Jan. 15, 1936, a pact was signed forming the Popular Front, which incorporated the Socialist Party, the Communist Party, the Left Republican Party, the Republican Alliance, the UGT, and a number of minor political groups. The anarchist National Confederation of Labor (CNT) remained outside the Popular Front, although rank-and-file CNT members collaborated with workers of other political orientations despite the sectarian tactics of their leaders. In the elections held February 16, the democratic forces scored a convincing victory. The Popular Front parties won 268 of 480 seats in parliament.

The triumph of the Popular Front inspired Spain’s progressive forces to struggle for the implementation of a profound democratic transformation. Large street demonstrations held in Madrid and other cities attested to the determination of the masses to solidify and develop their victory. The people demanded the release of political prisoners, and this demand was met without delay. The influence of the Communist Party was on the increase: its membership totaled 30,000 in Feburary 1936, 50,000 in March, 60,000 in April, 84,000 in June, and 100,000 in July. The Popular Front, whose leading force was the working class, grew stronger. The merger of the Socialist and Communist youth organizations into the United Socialist Youth (April 1936) laid the foundations for the unity of the entire youth movement. In Catalonia, the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia was created as a result of the merger of four workers’ parties (July 1936). The Popular Front revived the prospect of a peaceful and parliamentary development of the democratic revolution. The result of the Popular Front’s victory was a republican government supported by the Socialists and Communists, who did not belong to it. The Communist Party favored creation of a Popular Front government, but the Socialist Party objected to this.

The governments of Azańa (Feb. 19-May 12, 1936) and Casares Quiroga (May 12-July 18, 1936), formed after the victory of the Popular Front, did not take account of the stern lessons of the first years of the republic and failed to implement the necessary measures to defend the democratic system. The majority of reactionary generals and leaders were in their old places in the army (including Franco, Mola, Goded, Queipo de Llano, Aranda, Cabanellas, and Yagüe), where they were preparing a plot against the republic. In close contact with such reactionary political groups as the Spanish Falange (the fascist party), founded in 1933, and the Rejuvenation of Spain organization, headed by Calvo Sotelo, a former minister under dictator Primo de Rivera (whose rule lasted from Sept. 13, 1923, to Jan. 28, 1930), these generals completed preparations for the revolt. They were backed by a landowning and financial oligarchy, which was striving to establish a fascist dictatorship and thereby solidify its position in the country.

In preparing the revolt against the republic, the reactionaries leaned on the support of Hitler and Mussolini. As early as 1934, representatives of Spanish reaction concluded an agreement in Rome with Mussolini, who promised to provide arms and money to extreme right-wing Spanish forces. In March 1936, after the victory of the Popular Front, General Sanjurjo (who was to have led the revolt; his death in a plane crash on July 20, 1936, opened the way for General Franco to become the principal leader) and the leader of the Falange, José Antonio Primo de Rivera, set off for Berlin to settle the details of fascist Germany’s participation in the struggle against the Spanish people. On July 16, General Mola notified all the generals taking part in the conspiracy that the revolt would begin on July 18 and develop over the next two days. Military men serving in Morocco acted ahead of schedule (on the morning of July 17). The first units used by the insurgents were mostly soldiers of the Foreign Legion (11,000) and Moroccan soldiers (14,000). The military, after brutally crushing isolated attempts at resistance, took over the cities of Melilla, Ceuta, and T–touan. On July 18 the conspirators who rose up on the Iberian Peninsula captured Cédiz and Sevilla.

The fascist military revolt left the republic without an army. In a situation that demanded energetic and immediate action, the most prominent republican leaders showed weakness and indecision. The head of the government, Casares Quiroga (Left Republican Party), and Azańa, the president of the republic (since May 1936), opposed until the last moment arming the people and attempted to reach an agreement with the insurgents. But the working class and the popular masses would not agree to the surrender that the government was proposing to them. As soon as word of the revolt in Morocco reached Madrid, all enterprises ceased operation and the people came out into the streets, demanding arms from the government to defend the republic. A Communist Party delegation went to the head of the government and endorsed the demands of the masses. On July 18 a commission of representatives of the Popular Front again visited Casares Quiroga and demanded that the people be armed.

A formidable popular wave rose up to repel the reactionary revolt. Casares Quiroga, who had lost control of the situation, resigned. President Azańa charged D. Martines Barrio (leader of the Republican Alliance) with forming a government that was to reach an agreement with the insurgents, which in effect would mean surrender. A vigorous protest by the people foiled this attempt. On July 19 a new government, headed by one of the leaders of the Left Republican Party, José Giral, took office. However, three days were lost in disputes about whether to arm the people, and the conspirators used these days of vacillation to capture 23 cities. The people paid with their blood for the vacillation of the republican leaders.

Nonetheless, the insurgents soon became convinced of the determination of the popular masses to block fascism. In Barcelona and Madrid the revolt was quickly suppressed. Workers, peasants, artisans, and intelligentsia throughout Spain rose up to defend the republic.

In early August 1936 the advantage was still with the republic. The republicans still had Madrid, Valencia, Catalonia, Asturias, the Basque Provinces, New Castile, Murcia, and a large part of Estremadura. The republic controlled the chief industrial and mining centers, the ports (including Barcelona, Bilbao, Santander, Málaga, Almería, and Cartagena) and the richest agricultural areas. The revolt, for the most part, was suppressed. The republic was saved from the first fascist onslaught.

The Spanish working masses succeeded in defeating the fascist revolt because of the Communists persistent attempts to achieve unity of action among the workers and all antifascists and to obtain mutual understanding and concord between the Communist and Socialist parties.

After the first blows dealt to the insurgents, the war could have ended if it had been waged within a national framework, but Hitler and Mussolini came to the reactionaries’ aid, sending German and Italian troops equipped with modern weapons. This altered the character of the war that had unfolded in Spain. It was no longer a civil war. As a result of the foreign intervention, the war for the Spanish people turned into a national-revolutionary war: national because Spain’s integrity and national independence were being defended and revolutionary because it was a war for freedom and democracy against fascism.

To some degree the war in Spain affected every country, every people, and every government. To carry out his aggressive plans aimed against Europe and the whole world, Hitler needed the Iberian Peninsula as a strategic base to move into France’s rear, to obtain control of routes to Africa and the Orient, and to get closer to the American continent. The British, French, and American governments not only allowed Hitler to carry out open intervention in Spain but aided his aggressive plans by declaring with regard to the republic and the Spanish people the criminal policy of “nonintervention,” which was crucial to the outcome of the war in Spain and hastened the unleashing of World War II.

The Italo-German intervention played a decisive role in the first stage of the war in Spain and, as the republicans’ resistance grew, took on greater and greater scope. Mussolini dispatched 150,000 soldiers, including several divisions that had had combat experience in Ethiopia. The Italian Navy, which included submarines, was operating in the Mediterranean Sea. Italian aircraft deployed in Spain carried out 86, 420 sorties (during the war in Ethiopia they carried out 3,949 sorties) and 5,319 bombings, during which 11,585 tons of explosives were dropped on Spanish communities.

Hitler’s contribution to Franco was a sizable quantity of planes, tanks, artillery, and communications facilities and thousands of officers, who were supposed to train and organize the Franco army; he also sent the Condor Legion, under General Sperrle and later under Richthofen and Volkmann. The fact that 26,113 German servicemen were decorated by Hitler for services in the war in Spain shows the scale of German intervention.

Large US monopolies did their bit to support the insurgents: in 1936 Franco received from Standard Oil and other US companies 344,000 tons of fuel; this rose to 420,000 tons in 1937, 478,000 tons in 1938, and 624,000 tons in 1939 (according to the data of H. Feis, an economic officer of the US embassy in Madrid). Deliveries of American trucks (12,000 from Ford, Stude-baker, and General Motors) were of no less importance for the insurgents. At the same time the USA prohibited the sale of arms, planes, and fuel to the Spanish Republic. The USSR, which resolutely rose to the defense of Spanish democracy, supplied the republicans with arms despite all kinds of difficulties. Soviet volunteers, mostly tanktroops and pilots, fought for the republic. A broad movement of solidarity unfolded in support of the republic’s struggle, exemplified by the International Brigades, which were organized chiefly by Communist parties.

The heroic struggle of the Spanish people and their first victories were the best proof that fascism could be fought and defeated. Yet the Labor and Socialist International, by turning down repeated proposals by the Comintern to unite the efforts of the international workers’ movement in defense of the Spanish people, in effect supported the policy of nonintervention..

For 32½ months, from July 17, 1936, to Apr. 1, 1939, the Spanish people resisted fascist aggression in extraordinarily difficult conditions. In the first stage, until the spring of 1937, the main tasks were the struggle for the creation of a people’s army and the defense of the capital, which was threatened by the insurgents and interventionists. On Aug. 8, 1936, the fascists captured Badajoz, and on September 3 they took Talavera de la Reina, about 100 km from Madrid.

To combat the increased threat, a new republican government, headed by F. Largo Caballero, the leader of the Socialists, was formed on September 4; it included all the parties of the Popular Front, including the Communist Party. Some time later the Basque National Party joined the government. On Oct. 1, 1936, the Republican Cortes approved the Statute of the Basque Provinces, and on October 7 an autonomous government headed by Aguirre, a Catholic, was created in Bilbao. On Nov. 4, 1936, representatives of the CNT were incorporated into the Largo Caballero government.

By November 6, Franco’s troops had approached the outskirts of Madrid. During this period the historic slogan of Madrid’s defenders was heard round the world: “They shall not pass!” The fascist troops crashed into the steely heroism of the republican fighters, the fighters of the International Brigades, and the entire population of Madrid, who rose to defend every street and every house. In February 1937 the fascists’ attempts to encircle Madrid collapsed as a result of the Jarama operation conducted by the republican army. On March 8–20, 1937, the people’s army won a victory near Guadalajara, where several regular divisions of Mussolini’s army were smashed. Franco had to abandon his plan to take Madrid. The center of gravity of the hostilities shifted to northern Spain, to the region of the Basque iron mines.

The heroic defense of Madrid demonstrated the correctness of the policy of the Communist Party of Spain, which aimed at creating a people’s army capable of repulsing the enemy and which was being carried out despite the resistance of Largo Caballero. He was increasingly falling under the influence of the anarchists and of professional military men who did not believe in the victory of the people. His complicity with the anarchist adventurists caused the takeover of Mélaga by the fascists on Feb. 14, 1937. Largo Caballero’s connivance enabled anarchic Trotskyist groups, in which enemy agents were operating, to whip up a putsch in Barcelona on May 3, 1937, against the republican government. The putsch was suppressed by the Catalonian working people under the leadership of the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia. The seriousness of the situation dictated the persistent necessity of radically changing the policy of the republican government. On May 17, 1937, a new Popular Front government was created, headed by Socialist J. Negrín.

In the second stage of the war (from the spring of 1937 until the spring of 1938), many of the members of the UGT, which was led by Largo Caballero, and the CNT refused to support the new government; nevertheless, successes were achieved in the creation of an army, which was able to launch offensive operations near Brunete (in July 1937) and Belchite (in August-September 1937). But Largo Caballero left a grim legacy behind him. The situation in northern Spain was extremely difficult, and there was no possibility of holding back the fascist offensive, which was not effectively opposed by the bourgeois-nationalist policy of the government of the Basque Provinces. This government preferred to yield the enterprises of Bilbao intact to the fascists and did not organize consistent resistance. On June 20 the fascists entered Bilbao, and on August 26 Santander fell. Asturias resisted until the end of October 1937.

In order to thwart Franco’s new drive on Madrid, the republican army launched an offensive of its own on December 15 and captured the city of Teruel. However, as at Guadalajara, this success was not exploited by the government. A negative feature of this stage of the war was the activity of the minister of defense, the Socialist I. Prieto. Fanatically anticommunist and lacking any faith in the people, he impeded the strengthening of the popular army, seeking to replace it with a professional army. Events quickly proved that this policy was leading to defeat.

Having solidified his forces thanks to new aid from the Germans and Italians, the enemy broke through the Aragon front on Mar. 9, 1938. On April 15 the fascist troops reached the Mediterranean Sea, having cut the republic’s territory in two. The grave military situation was further complicated by the policy of direct complicity with the fascist aggressors that was being pursued by the Western countries. Without encountering any resistance from Great Britain, the USA, or France, Hitler seized Austria in March 1938. On Apr. 16, 1938, Chamberlain signed an agreement with Mussolini that signified Britain’s tacit consent to the Italian troops’ participation in the struggle on Franco’s side. In these conditions a capitulationist outlook began to crystallize in the ruling circles of the Spanish Republic, an outlook fostered by Socialist leaders such as J. Besteiro and Prieto, some republican leaders, and the heads of the Federation of Iberian Anarchists (FAI).

The Communist Party warned the nation of the mortal danger. A mighty patriotic surge engulfed the Spanish people, who at enormous demonstrations, such as the one on Mar. 16, 1938, in Barcelona, demanded that capitulationist ministers be ousted from the government. With the formation on April 8 of the second Negrín government, in which the previous parties were joined by both trade union centers (the UGT and the CNT), the war entered a new period. The Communist Party of Spain began to fight for a broad national alliance aimed at achieving mutual understanding among all the patriotic forces and resolving the military conflict on the basis of guarantees of national independence, sovereignty, and respect for the democratic rights of the Spanish people. The expression of this policy was the so-called Thirteen Points, published on May 1, 1938. The points provided for the postwar declaration of a general amnesty and the holding of a plebiscite in which the Spanish people would choose their form of government without foreign interference.

In order for the policy of national alliance to make headway, it was necessary to intensify resistance and strike hard at the fascists. By May 1938 the situation on the front had stabilized. On July 25, 1938, the republican army, which was defending a line on the Ebro River and was led mostly by Communist military commanders, suddenly attacked and broke through the enemy’s fortifications, demonstrating its readiness and high combat capacity. The Spanish people again displayed miracles of heroism. But the capitulationists, who had entrenched themselves at headquarters and other command posts, paralyzed the operations of other fronts while the army units on the Ebro were exhausting their resources in repelling the attacks of Franco’s main forces. The governments of Paris and London continued to tighten the noose of nonintervention.

On Dec. 23, 1938, with Italian troops in the vanguard and enjoying a huge superiority in equipment, Franco began an offensive in Catalonia. On Jan. 26, 1939, he took Barcelona, and by mid-February all of Catalonia had been occupied by the fascists. On February 9 a British squadron sailed up to Minorca and forced that island to surrender to Franco.

Despite the loss of Catalonia, the republic still had the possibility of continuing resistance in the central and southern zone. While the Communist Party exerted all its efforts in the struggle against fascism, the capitulationists, incited by the imperialist circles of Great Britain and encouraged by Negrín’s vacillations in the last phase of the war, rebelled against the legal government on Mar. 5, 1939. In Madrid they created a junta headed by Colonel Casado that included Socialist and Anarchist leaders. Under the pretext of negotiations for an “honorable peace,” the junta stabbed the people in the back by opening the gates of Madrid (Mar. 28, 1939) to the hordes of fascist murderers.

Two Spains collided in the National Revolutionary War of 1936–39—the Spain of reaction and the Spain of progress and democracy. The revolutionary character, political maturity, and social and political conceptions of workers’ organizations and of leftist political parties were tested. In those days of difficult struggle, the political role of party leaders was determined above all by their attitude toward unity. Those leaders of the Socialists, Anarchists, and republicans who really tried to strengthen the alliance of democratic forces made an invaluable contribution to the cause of combating fascism. The Communist Party of Spain was the soul of the Popular Front, the driving force of the resistance to aggression. Honor is due to the Communist Party for creating the 5th Regiment—the foundation of the popular army. To counter the reckless Anarchist policy of coercive collectivization, the Communists put forth a program of turning land over to the peasants and, after joining the government, implemented this program, carrying out a radical agrarian reform in Spain for the first time. The nationalities policy of the Communist Party contributed to the adoption of the Statute of the Basque Provinces. At the initiative of the Communists, institutes and universities were opened to workers and peasants, who were guaranteed their previous earnings. Women began to receive wages on a par with men.

Not only were big landowners stripped of their property, but large banks and enterprises came under the control of the democratic state. During the war the republic radically changed its class essence. Workers and peasants played the leading role in it. A sizable segment of the new army was commanded by revolutionary workers. During the war a new type of democratic republic evolved in Spain, created by the efforts and blood of the popular masses.

The Spanish popular-democratic republic lives in the memory of the Spanish people, who continue the struggle for liberation from the yoke of fascism.

REFERENCES

Diaz, J. Pod znamenem Narodnogo fronta: Rechi i stat’i, 1935–1937. Moscow, 1937. (Translated from Spanish.)
Díaz, J. “Ob urokakh voiny ispanskogo naroda (1936–1939).” Bol’ shevik, 1940, no. 4. (Translated from Spanish.)
Díaz, J. Tres años de lucha. Barcelona, 1939.
Ibárruri, D. V bor’be: Izbr. stat’i i vystupleniia 1936–1939. Moscow, 1968. (Translated from Spanish.)
Ibárruri, D. Oktiabr’skaia sotsialisticheskaia revoliutsiia i ispanskii rabo-chii klass. Moscow, 1960. (Translated from Spanish.)
Ibárruri, D. Edinstvennyi put’. Moscow, 1962. (Translated from Spanish.)
Ibárruri, D. “Natsional’no-revoliutsionnaia voina ispanskogo naroda protiv italo-germanskikh interventov i fashistskikh miatezhnikov (1936–1939),” Voprosy istorii, 1953, no. 11.
Istoriia Kommunisticheskoi partii Ispanii: Kratkii kurs. Moscow, 1961. (Translated from Spanish.)
Voina i revoliutsiia v Ispanii, 1936–1939, vol. 1. Moscow, 1968. (Translated from Spanish.)
El Partido comunista por la libertad y la independencia de España. Valencia, 1937.
Lister, E. La defensa de Madrid, batalla de unidad. Paris, 1947.
García, J. Ispaniia Narodnogo fronta. Moscow, 1957.
García, J. Ispaniia XX veka. Moscow, 1967.
Minlos, B. R. Agrarnyi vopros v Ispanii. Moscow, 1934.
Maidanik, K. L. Ispanskii proletariat v natsional’no-revoliutsionnoi voine 1936–1937 gg. Moscow, 1960.
Ovinnikov, R. S. Za kulisami politiki “nevmeshatel’stva.” Moscow, 1959.
Maiskii, I. M. Ispanskie tetradi. Moscow, 1962.
Ponomareva, L. V. Rabochee dvizhenie v Ispanii vgody revoliutsii, 19311934. Moscow, 1965.
Dokumenty ministerstva inostrannykh del Germanii. Vol. 3: German-skaia politika i Ispaniia (1936–1943 gg.). Moscow, 1946.
Epopée d’Espagne: Brigades internationales, 1936–1939. Paris, 1957.
Alvarez del Vayo, J. Freedom’s Battle. New York, 1940.
Cattell, D. Communism and the Spanish Civil War. Berkeley, 1955.
Norden, A. Die Spanische Tragödie. Berlin, 1956.
Taylor, F. The United States and the Spanish Civil War. New York, 1956.

D. IBARRURI

Source

Bill Bland: The “Doctor’s Case” and the Death of Stalin

CPSU(B) PoLitburo at Funeral

CPSU(B) Politburo at Funeral

Mourners in Red Square

Mourners in Red Square

Beria, Stalin and Svetlana on a Black Sea Holiday

Beria, Stalin and Svetlana on a Black Sea Holiday

An extended annotated version of a report presented to the Stalin Society in London in October 1991, by Bill Bland, for the Communist League (UK)

INTRODUCTION By Alliance Marxist-Leninist

There have been many requests recently to Alliance for a web-edition of this document.

Comrade Bland often neglected his own writings, even forgetting that he may have researched any topic. Although this article was not printed as an official document of the Communist League (CL), it was a critical part of the corpus of work that Bland performed as the leader of the CL. Against many others, Bland defended the role of Lavrenty Beria, as a Marxist-Leninist. This was and remains, an unpopular stand even amongst those who call themselves Marxist-Leninists.

Bland’s especial expertise was to be able to see behind copious cloaks of words, as spun by revisionists and capitalist agents. This talent of his, is shown with mastery in this analysis. Data coming out from the Archives of the USSR, appears at last to be corroborating Comrade’s Bland’s views. We propose to shortly publish materials that show this.

THE “DOCTORS’ CASE” AND THE DEATH OF STALIN

by Bill Bland 1991.

Table of Contents

Part 1: The ‘Doctor’s Case’

The Initial Preparations for the Revisionist Coup (1943-46);
The First Stage of the ‘Doctors’ Case’ (1948-51)
The Dismissal and Arrest of Abakumov (1951)
The Georgian Feint (1951-52)
The Marxist-Leninists’ Counter-blow in Georgia
The Indictment in the ‘Doctors’ Case’ (1953)
The Destruction of the Defence System around Stalin

Part 2: The Death of Stalin (1953)

The Aborted Coup (1953)
The Exculpation of the Doctors (1953)
The Reversal of the Georgian Feint (1953)
The Dismissal of Leonid Melnikov (1953)
The Military Coup in Moscow (1953)
The Military Coup in Georgia (1953-54)
The ‘Mingrelian Affair’ (1953)
The ‘Trial’ of Beria (1953)
The Re-emergence of Melnikov (1953-57)
The Trial of Abakumov (1954)
The ‘Trial’ of Ryumin (1954)
The ‘Rehabilitation’ of Anna Louise Strong (1955)
The ‘Rehabilitation’ of Tito (1955)
The Rapava-Rukhadze Trial (1955)
The Trial of Bagirov (1956)

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Part 1: The “Doctor’s Case”

“Stalin . . . issued orders to arrest a group of eminent medical specialists. . . .
When we examined this ‘case’ after Stalin’s death, we found it to be fabricated from beginning to end.”

(N. S. Khrushchev: Secret Speech to 20th Congress, CPSU, in: Russian Institute, Columbia University (Ed.): ‘The Anti-Stalin Campaign and International Communism: A Selection of Documents’; New York; 1956; p. 64).

The Initial Preparations for the Revisionist Coup (1943-46)

The seizure of power by the Soviet revisionists required certain preliminary measures — the first of these being the weakening of the securitv organs of the socialist state and their later transfer into the hands of the revisionist conspirators.

In April 1943 the organ which had been responsible for state security, the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD), which had been headed by the Marxist-Leninist Lavrenti Beria*, was weakened by being split into three parts:

1) the People’s Commisariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD), still headed by Beria, but no longer concerned with state security:

“The NKVD, under the leadership of Beria, was thereby relieved of the heavy problems of State security and became more and more an ‘economic’ organisation.”

(B. Levytsky: ‘The Uses of Terror: The Soviet Secret Service: 1917-1970’; London; 1971; p. 160).

2) the People’s Commissariat of State Security (NKGB), headed by the Marxist-Leninist Vsevolod Merkulov*;

3) the Counter-Espionage Department of the People’s Commissariat for Defence (SMERSH), headed by the Marxist-Leninist Viktor Abakumov*.

In 1946, after the conclusion of the Second World War,

1) SMERSH was abolished;

2) the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD) was renamed the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) and its Marxist-Leninist head Merkulov, who:

” . . . was one of Beria’s closest and most trusted collaborators”

(B. Levytsky: op. cit.; p. 141).

was replaced by the concealed revisionist Sergey Kruglov*; and

3) the People’s Commissariat of State Security (NKGB) was renamed the Ministry of State Security (MGB); for the next six years, however, it continued to be headed by the Marxist-Leninist Abakumov.

The First Stage of the “Doctors’ Case” (1948-51)

In 1948 the plans of the conspirators were interrupted by ‘the case of the Kremlin doctors’. In this year,

” . . . Lvdia Timashuk a rank-and-file doctor at the Kremlin Hospital . . . . discovered intentional distortions in medical conclusions made by major medical experts who served as consultants in the hospital. She exposed their criminal designs and thus opened the eyes of security bodies to the existence of the infamous conspiracy.”

(Y. Rapoport: ‘The Doctors’ Plot: Stalin’s Last Crime’: London; 1991; p. 77).

Dr. Timashuk wrote to

” . . . Stalin a letter in which she declared that doctors were applying supposedly improper methods of medical treatment.”

(N. S. Khrushchev: Secret Speech; op. cit.; p. 63).

As to the date,

“. . . Timashuk’s first report was made while Zhdanov was still alive.”

(P. Deriabin: ‘Watchdogs of Terror: Russian Bodyguards from the Tsars to the Commissars’; n.p. (USA); 1984; p. 311).

and Zhdanov * died in August 1948.

Although Khrushchev later alleged, in his secret speech to the 20th Congress of the CPSU in February 1956, that:

“. . . this ignominious case was set up by Stalin”,

(N. S. Khrushchev: Secret Speech; op. cit.; p. 65).

Ian Grey assures us that, at the outset,

“Stalin had strong doubts about Timashuk’s allegations.”

(I.Grey: ‘Stalin: Man of History’; London; 1979; p. 461).

and Stalin’s daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva* confirms:

“My father’s housekeeper told me not long ago that my father was extremely distressed at the turn events took. . . . She was waiting on table, as usual, when my father remarked that he did not believe the doctors were ‘dishonest’ and that the only evidence against them, after all, were the ‘reports’ of Dr. Timashuk.”

(S. Allilyeva: Twenty Letters to a Friend”; London; 1967; p. 215).

Nevertheless, Stalin passed these allegations to the state security organs, forces, then in the charge of the Marxist-Leninist Minister of State Security Abakumov. As a result,

“. . . Abakumov started an investigation that he directed personally.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 311).

and the investigation of Timashuk’s allegations soon convinced Stalin of their correctness:

“One day Stalin called us to the Kremlin and read us a letter from a woman doctor named Timashuk. She claimed that Zhdanov died because the doctors on the case purportedly administered improper treatment to him, treatment intended to lead to his death.”

(N. S. Khrushchev: ‘Khrushchev Remembers’; London; 1971; p. 283).

The first arrests resulting from this investigation began as early as December 1950, with the arrest of the diagnostician Yakov Etinger, who had headed a clinic at the First Gradskaya Hospital in Moscow. Etinger’s name later (1953) appeared among the accused in the ‘doctors’ case’:

“Yakov Etinger had been arrested in 1950.”

(Y. Rapoport: op. cit.; p. 24).

“The terrorist group includes . . . Professor Y. G. Etinger, a therapeutist.”

(‘Pravda’, 13 January 1953, p. 4, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 4, No. 51 (31 January 1953); p. 3).

The Dismissal and Arrest of Abakumov (1951)

By 1951, therefore, the revisionist conspirators had good reason to feel extremely uneasy about their future. Rumours circulated:

“. . that several members of Stalin’s entourage were threatened by the coming purge.”

(G. Bortoli: ‘The Death of Stalin’; London; 1973; p. 151).

Clearly, urgent action was essential to safeguard both the conspiracy and the conspirators.

In late 1951, therefore, the revisionist conspirators brought about the dismissal of the Marxist-Leninist Abakumov as Minister of State Security and his replacement by the concealed revisionist Semyon Ignatiev*:

“Beria’s adversaries in the Party (the opponents of Marxism-Leninism — Ed.) . . . achieved a notable victory in late 1951 with the replacement of V. S. Abakumov, an associate of Beria, by S. P. Ignatiev, a Party official, as head of the MVD.”

(S. Wolin & R. Slusser: ‘The Soviet Secret Police’; London; 1957; p. 20).

Boris Levytsky records that:

“Abakumov, Beria’s intimate friend (= a Marxist-Leninist — Ed.) was removed from his post and replaced by S. D. Ignatiev.”

(B. Levytsky: op. cit.; p. 204).

and sees this move as the:

“. . . first step towards a complete re-staffing of the secret police, towards the removal of Beria and his friends (of the Marxist-Leninists — Ed.). . . . For the assumption that Ignatiev was a man of straw there is. . . plenty of evidence. . . . Ignatiev’s appointment was favoured by the circumstance that he had never had anything to do with Beria and had no experience of the secret police.”

(B. Levytsky: op. cit.; p. 204, 295).

Shortly afterwards, Abakumov and several dozen of his assistants were arrested on charges of ‘lack of vigilance in connection with the ‘Leningrad Affair’ of 1949-50 (already analysed):

“In . . . 1951 . . . Abakumov was arrested. . . . He was taken to the Lubyanka and put in solitary confinement. Seven of his deputies and several dozen state security officers were arrested along with him. . .The charges brought against Abakumov at that time were that he had not recognised the enemy of the people during his handling of the ‘Leningrad Affair’. . . .In September 1951 none other than Khrushchev . . . echoed Stalin’s charge that Abakumov and his officers had failed to recognise the enemy of the people in the northern city’s Party apparatus.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 316-17).

The trumped-up character of the charges against Abakumov and his assistants is obvious from the fact that in December 1954 Abakumov was executed by the same revisionist conspirators on charges which included those of having ‘fabricated the “Leningrad Affair”‘:

“Abakumov falsified the so-called ‘Leningrad Case’, in which a number of Party and Soviet officials were arrested without grounds, having been falsely accused of most serious state crimes.”

(‘Pravda’, 24 December 1954, in: R. Conquest: ‘Power and Policy in the USSR’; London; 1961; (hereafter listed as ‘R. Conquest (1961’); p. 449).

The Georgian Feint (1951-52)

But, as we shall see, the removal and arrest of Abakumov did not put a stop to the danger to the conspirators resulting from investigation into the ‘doctors’ case . They therefore sought to save themselves by making a feint attack on certain Marxist-Leninists.

In military terminology, a ‘feint’ is

“. . a movement made with the object of deceiving the enemy as to a general’s real plans.” (‘Shorter Oxford English Dictionary’; Oxford; 1972; p. 737).

The revisionist conspirators selected Transcaucasia for their feint attack not only because it was a long way from the real objective of their attack, Moscow, but also because it was the birthplace of both Stalin and Beria and was regarded as a Marxist-Leninist stronghold. Charles Fairbanks, junior* speaks of Beria’s:

“. . . territorial fiefdom in the Transcaucasus.”

(C. H. Fairbanks, jr.: ‘National Cadres as a Force in the Soviet System: The Evidence of Beria’s Career: 1949-53’, in: J. R. Azrael (Ed.): ‘Soviet Nationality Policies and Practices’; New York; 1978; p. 155).

and Levytsky notes that at

“. . . the 14th Congress of the Georgian Communist Party in January 1949 . . . two separate greeting messages were sent: one to Stalin and one to Beria.”

(B. Levytsky: op. cit.; p. 208).

The attack on the Georgian Marxist-Leninists could only be seen by Marxist-Leninists elsewhere as a groundless provocative attack on them by concealed enemies. The aim of the feint was, when the time was ripe — that is, when Stalin and his personal secretariat had been rendered powerless to intervene –

1) to admit that the Ministry of State Security had been in the hands of concealed enemies and had committed grave miscarriages of justice (e.g., in Georgia) of which they demanded the correction;

2) to exculpate and release the guilty doctor-conspirators together with the innocent Marxist-Leninists under the general cloak of ‘correcting miscarriages of justice’.

The feint began in January 1951 when, as Robert Conquest* points out, Vilian Zodelava was removed as leader of the Georgian Young Communist League. (R. Conquest (1961); p. 140).

On 24 May 1951:

” . . the ‘Voice of America’ announced it would start broadcasting Saturday in the Georgian language.”

(‘New York Times’, 25 May 1951; p. 21).

In November 1951 the wholesale removal of leading Marxist-Leninists in Georgia began, the offenders being charged with ’embezzlement, car thefts and similar crimes’. The news was leaked to Western diplomats in February 1952:

“A major wave of embezzlements, automobile thefts and similar crimes in Soviet Georgia has resulted in a wholesale purge of top Communist Party and government officials in that area, diplomatic sources report. . . .The removals began last November. The two most important officials purged were Mikhail Baramiya and Rostom Shaduri, secretaries of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party.”

(‘New York Times’, 6 February 1952; p. 12).

David Lang* confirms this:

“Prominent Georgian Communists were accused of embezzling state funds, stealing automobiles and plundering state property.”

(D. M. Lang: ‘A Modern History of Georgia’; London; 1962; p. 261).

as does John Ducoli*:

“The purported reasons for the initial purge were embezzlements of state funds, automobile thefts, the plundering of state property, etc.”

(J. Ducoli: ‘The Georgian Purges (1951-53)’, in: ‘Caucasian Review’, Volume 6 (1958); p. 55).

Within a few days, in November 1951, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Georgia was announcing that the accusations against some former Georgian leaders had been widened to include ‘the protection of criminal officials’:

“‘Recently it has become known that the Second Secretary of the CC of the CP (b) of Georgia, M. I. Baramiya, the Minister of Justice, A. N. Rapava, and the Prosecutor of the Republic, B. Ya. Shoniya, have been extending protection to certain officials who have committed crimes and have been shielding them in every possible way’. . . .All those named were dismissed from their posts.”

(R. Conquest (1961): op. cit.; p. 139).

Later, after the ousting of Beria from the leadership in July 1953, the dismissed officials were described as ‘supporters of Beria’. As the then First Secretary of the Georgian Central Committee, Akaki Mgeladze, reported to the Georgian Party Congress in September 1952:

“‘In 1951 several hundred of Beria’s supporters in Georgia were purged.”‘

(C. H. Fairbanks, junior: op. cit.; p. 161).

All leading Marxist-Leninists in Georgia were removed and replaced by conscious revisionists.

Then, in April 1952, a Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Georgia dismissed Kandida Charkviani as First Secretary, Rostom Shaduri and Mikhail Baramiya as Second Secretaries, Valerian Bakradze as Deputy Premier, Avksenty Rapava as Minister of Justice, and a number of other prominent Georgian leaders.

The Plenum elected a new First Secretary — the concealed revisionist Akak Mgeladze:

“Kandida Charkviani . . . has been relieved, and a new leader, Akaki Mgeladze, former secretary of the important Abkhaz regional party committee, has been installed in his place.”

(‘Pravda’, 6 June 1952, in: ‘New York Times’, 8 June 1952; p. 27).

Mgeladze carried forward on a large scale the process of removing Marxist-Leninists from responsible positions in the Georgian Party:

“Mgeladze set to work to purge the Party and the governmental apparatus from top to bottom. In six months he replaced half the members of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party who had been returned in the election of 1949, and brought about a complete upheaval in the administrative hierarchy of the Republic. . . . Several high officials removed by Mgeladze, notably Valerian Bakradze, Deputy Chairman of the Georgian Council of Ministers (Deputy Premier — Ed.) were personal nominees of Beria.”

(D. M. Lang: op. cit.; p. 261).

“After a mere six months of leadership, Mgeladze purged approximately 55% of the 111 members and candidate members of the Central Committee which had been elected in 1949.”

(J. Ducoli: op. cit.; p. 55).

Beria came from Moscow to attend April 1952 Plenum:

“Beria was present at the plenum in April that formally confirmed the succession. Charkviani’s followers were replaced by men from Abkhazeti, where Mgeladze had been Party chief.”

(R. G. Suny: ‘The Making of the Georgian Nation’; London; 1989; p. 288).

“In April 1952, Beria, now Vice-President of the Soviet Council of Ministers (USSR Deputy Premier — Ed.) came from Moscow to attend a meeting of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party.”

(D. M. Lang: op. cit.; p. 261).

The presence of Beria enabled the concealed revisionists to ‘let it become known’, that is, to spread the completely false story, that the changes in leading personnel which they had brought about in Georgia had been brought about ‘on Stalin’s instructions’:

“At that time (spring 1952 — Ed.) it became known that Mr. Beria himself had gone to Georgia to clean up a situation compounded of widespread graft and other types of corruption. Later it became known that Premier Stalin himself had had to intervene to order the purge in the Georgian Communist Party.”

(‘New York Times’, 3 January 1953; p. 3).

In fact, the Georgian leaders who were removed were Marxist-Leninists who were supported by Beria and Stalin, and had been elected on their recommendation:

“Several high officials removed by Mgeladze, notably Valerian Bakradze, Deputy Chairman of the Georgian Council of Ministers (Deputy Premier — Ed.) were personal nominees of Beria.”

(D. M. Lang: op. cit.; p. 261).

“Mr. Beria had to preside at the removal of the men he had installed at the head of the Georgian Party and to permit these charges of corruption to be announced as true.”

(‘New York Times’, 17 April 1953; p. 10).

However, the story that the leadership changes had been brought about at the wishes of Beria and Stalin was useful in quashing opposition to the changes. Mgeladze told the Georgian Party Congress in September 1952:

“These plenary sessions (of November 1951 and April 1952 — Ed.) adopted resolutions based on the decision of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party and upon Comrade Stalin’s personal instructions.”

(A. Mgeladze: Report to Congress of Georgian Communist Party, September 1952, in: R. Conquest (1961): op. cit.; p. 143).

The reasons given as to why Beria and Stalin should have wanted these changes were naturally somewhat nebulous. Mgeladze told the Georgian Young Communist League in May 1952:

“‘Comrade Stalin found deficiencies in the leadership of the Communist Party and Young Communist League of Georgia, which threatened to have serious consequences, and showed ways to correct mistakes.”‘

(A. Mgeladze: Report to Georgian Young Communist League, May 1952, in: R. Conquest (1961): op. cit.; p. 141-42).

This vague allegation was later made more concrete. Later in 1952, someone discovered some critical remarks of Stalin about the danger of nationalism in Georgia.

The dismissed Marxist-Leninists were now accused of criminal nationalism and were said to have been arrested, linked with those critical remarks made by Stalin about the dangers of nationalism:

“In the Georgian purges of 1951-52, his (Beria’s — Ed.) appointees were charged with lenience towards Georgian nationalism.”

(C. H. Fairbanks, Junior: op. cit., p. 154).

Mgeladze told the Georgian Party Congress on September 1952:

“‘The former leadership forgot about the fact that international reactionaries are trying to find in our Republic nationalist elements with hostile attitude in order with their help to carry on diversionist espionage work.”‘

(‘New York Times’, 23 September 1952; p. 3).

A number of the dismissed Marxist-Leninist leaders were charged with criminal manifestations of Georgian nationalism

“Mgeladze and his Minister of State Security, Rukhadze, charged some proteges of Beria with nationalism. They were M. I. Baramiya . . . .Rapava Shoniya. They were arrested and imprisoned.”

(J. Ducoli: op. cit.; p. 56).

“All those named (Baramiya, Rapava and Shoniya — Ed.) were arrested later.”

(R. Conquest (1961): op. cit.; p. 139).

“Charkviani, secretary of the Georgian Central Committee from 1939 to 1952, Rapava, then Minister of Internal Affairs for the Georgian Republic, and others were removed from their posts and arrested, after being accused of nationalism at the Georgian Party conference of April 1952. The blow was struck by Rukhadze, then Minister of State Security in Georgia.”

(Boris Nicolaevsky: ‘Power and the Soviet Elite’; New York; 1965; p. 182).

The Marxist-Leninists’ Counter-blow in Georgia

Meanwhile, the Marxist-Leninists, realising that the security of the socialist state had suffered a severe setback in Georgia, had the affair investigated through Stalin’s ‘special secretariat’, which as we have seen, functioned as a special security force under the control of the Marxist-Leninists. The special secretrariat uncovered sufficient evidence to establish that the Georgian Minister of State Security, Nikolay Rukhadze, had behaved improperly in the case of the Georgian Marxist-Leninists. As a result, in July 1952 the revisionists were compelled to dismiss Rukhadze, although they were able to resist his arrest and any reversal of his actions in ‘the Georgian feint’ until the following April:

“In July 1952, Rukhadze who, as Minister of State Security, was responsible for the Baramiya purge, was removed. . . . Rukhadze’s removal may have been a partial victory for Beria.”

(R. Conquest (1961): op. cit.; p. 142).

The Indictment in the “Doctors’ Case” (1953)

Despite the removal and arrest of Abakumov, the intervention of Stalin’s personal secretariat ensured that investigation into the ‘doctors’ case’ continued. Isaac Deutscher’ confirms that:

“. . . Ignatiev, the Minister of State Security, was a reluctant executant of orders.”

(I.Deutscher: ‘Stalin: A Political Biography’; Harmondsworth; 1968.; p. 605).

Ignatiev, therefore, remained aloof from the investigation into the ‘doctors’ case’, leaving the conduct of this to his Deputy, the Marxist-Leninist Ryumin:

“Ryumin personally supervised the investigation (into the ‘Doctors’ Case’ ‘Ed.).”‘

(Y. Rapoport: op. cit.; p. 10-0).

Ryumin had formerly headed the State Security Section of Stalin’s personal secretariat:

“Ryumin, before being appointed to the post of Deputy Miinister of State Security . . . headed the state security section in Stalin’s personal secretariat.”

(B.Nicolaevsky: op. cit.; p. 155).

As a result of the findings in this investigation,

“. . . in the summer of 1952 many . . . doctors who had, worked in the Kremlin Hospital for many years and treated many statesmen were summarily fired. Among them; were Miron Vovsi and Vladirmir Vinogradov. The former head of the Kremlin Hospital, Aleksey Busalov, Mikhail Yegorov . . . and Sophia Karpai were arrested.”

(Y. Rapoport: op. cit.; p. 72).

On 13 January 1953 ‘Pravda’ carried the report of the arrest of

” . . a terrorist group of doctors who had made it their aim to cut short the lives of active public figures of the Soviet Union through sabotage medical treatment. . . .
The participants in this terrorist group, taking advantage of their position as doctors and abusing the trust of patients, by deliberate evil intent . . . made incorrect diagnoses . . . and then doomed them by wrong treatment.”

(‘Pravda’, 13 January 1953; p. 4, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 4, No. 31 (31 January 1953); p. 3).

Nine doctors were named as ‘among the participants in this terrorist group, namely:

“Professor M. S. Vovsi, therapeutist;
Professor V.I. Vinogradov, therapeutist;
Professor M.B. Kogan, therapeutist;
Professor B.B. Kogan, therapeutist;
Professor P. I. Yegorov, therapeutist;
Professor A.I.Feldman, otolaryngologist;
Professor Ya.G.Etinger, therapeutist;
Professor Grinshtein, neuropathologist;
G.I. Maiorov, therapeutist.”

(‘Pravda’, 13 January 1953, in: ibid.; p. 3).

Of the accused persons, Vladimir Vinogradov* was

“. . . Stalin’s personal physician”,

(Y. Rapoport: op. cit.; p. 216).

Mikhail and Boris Kogan were brothers, while Miron Vovsi was a relative of the Jewish actor ‘Solomon Mikhoels’, whose real surname was Vovsi.

The doctors were charged with having murdered in this way Andrey Zhadnov and Alelsandr Scherbakov*, and with attempting to murder Marshals Aleksandr Vasilevsky*, Leonid Covorov*, and Ivan Konev, together with General Sergey Shtemenko* and Admiral Cordey Iavchenko*.

It was alleged that

“. . most of the participants in the terrorist group (M. S. Vovsi, B. B. Kogan, A. I. Feldman, A. M. Grinshtein, Ya. H. Yetinger and others) were connected with -the international Jewish bourgeois nationalist organisation ‘JOINT’, established by American intelligence for the purpose of providing material aid to Jews in other countries. In acxtual fact this organisation, under direction of American intelligebce, conducts extensive espionage, terrorist and other subversive work in many countries, including the Soviet Union. . . . The arrested Vovsi told investigators that he had received orders ‘to wipe out the leading cadres of the USSR’ — received them from the USA through the ‘JOINT’ organisation, via a Moscow doctor, Shimeliovich, and the well known Jewish bourgeois nationalist Mikhoels.

Other participants in the terrorist group (V. N. Vinogradov, M. B, Kogan, P. I. Yegorov) proved to be old agents of British intelligece.”

(‘Pravda’, 13 January 1953, p. 4, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 4, No. 51 (3 January 1953); p. 3).

The full name of ‘JOINT’ was the ‘American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’, founded in the United States in November 1914 by the fusion of three committees, ostensibly as an international charity for the assistance of Jews throughout the world.

The announcement concluded:

“The investigation will soon be concluded.”

(‘Pravda’, 13 January 1953, in: ibid.; p. 3).

An editorial in ”Pravda’ on the same day reminded people that in the 1930s a group of doctors involved in a concealed revisionist conspiracy had admitted at their public trial to murdering a number of leading Soviet Marxist-Leninists by administering deliberately incorrect medical treatment to them:

“The agencies of state security did not discover the doctors’ wrecking, terrorist organisation in time. Yet these agencies should have been particularly vigilant, since history already records instances of foul murderers and traitors to the Motherland conducting their machinations in the guise of doctors, such as the ‘doctors’ Levin and Pletnev, who killed t he great Russian writer A. M. Gorky and the outstanding Soviet statesmen V. V. Kuibyshev and V. R. Menzhinsky by deliberate wrong treatment on orders from enemies of the Soviet Union.”

(‘Pravda’, 13 January 1953; p. 1, in: ibid.; p. 4).

The original statement had stated that:

“the criminal doctors confessed.”

(‘Pravda’, 13 January 1953, in: ibid.; p. 3).

and, in his secret speech to the 20th Congress of the CPSU in February 1956, Khrushchev declared:

“Shortly after the doctors were arrested we members of the Political Bureau received protocols with the doctors’ confessions of guilt.”

(N. S. Khrushchev:1956; “Secret Speech to 20th Congress”; of the CPSU; p. 64).

And after their release by the revisionist conspirators following Stalin’s death in March 1953, the doctors admitted that their confessions had been genuine:

“When we were all released, Vovsi and Vinogradov themselves told me that they had admitted all the crimes imparted to them. . . .

The most tragic aspect of these confessions was that the person admitted not only crimes he himself had supposedly committed, but also the existence of a criminal organisation and collective criminal actions. . . . The accused was led to cooperate with the investigation in exposing the crimes of others. This happened to Vovsi and Vinogradov, and perhaps to other people as well.

Sophia Karpai, formerly a doctor at the Kremlin Hospital, told me in the summer of 1953 about her confrontation with Vovsi, Vinogradov and Vasilenko in prison. To her face they asserted that she had executed their criminal orders to administer harmful treatments to her patients. . . .So the people who had broken down became witnesses for the prosecution.”

(Y. Rapoport: op. cit.; p. 137).

Furthermore, the released doctors testified that their confessions had not been brought about as a result of the application of:

“. . torture, of which rumours were rife in the memorable purge years of 1937-1939 . . . Vinogradov told me that he had resolved from the beginning not to wait till they started torturing him, but to admit all the charges, which included one of espionage for France and Great Britain.”

(Y. Rapoport: op. cit.; p. 138).

The determination of the Soviet Marxist-Leninists to proceed with the ‘doctors’ case’ made it an urgent matter of life and death for the revisionist conspirators to halt the proceedings in the case by destroying Stalin’s personal secretariat as a necessary preliminary to destroying Stalin himself.

The Destruction of the Defence System around Stalin

We have noted the role of Stalin’s personal secretariat — also known as the ‘Special Sector’ of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Party — in bringing about the treason trials of the 1930s. But this body also played an important role in defending from terrorist attack the Marxist-Leninist nucleus, headed by Stalin, at the heart of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

The special sector had been headed since 1928 by the Marxist-Leninist Aleksandr Poskrebyshev*:

“As head of the ‘Special Sector’ of the Central Committee for many years, he (Poskrebyshev — Ed.) was Stalin’s closest confidant up till 1952.”

(R. Conquest: ‘The Great Terror’; Harmondsworth; 1971; (hereafter listed as ‘R. Conquest (1971)’); p. 37).

while Lieutenant-General Nikolay Vlasik*

“. . . for more than twenty-five years had been Stalin’s chief of personal security; he knew much and was trusted by the boss.”

(D. Volkogonov: ‘Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy’; London; 1991; p. 333).

Dmitri Volkogonov* asserts that Pokrebyshev

“. . . . . to the end of his days remained his master’s devoted servant. . . He was a man with the memory of a computer. You could get an exact reply to any question. He was a walking encyclopaedia. . . .Stalin . . . trusted . . . Vlasik and Poskrebyshev.”

(D. Volkogonov: op. cit.; p. 203-04, 318).

and Levtysky confirms that:

“. . . those who knew the conditions at the summit of the Party after 1945 describe Poskrebyshev as an organising genius with a phenomenal memory.”

(B. Levytsky: op. cit.; p. 177).

Conquest asserts that Poskrebyshev was:

” . . . the man most closely and directly associated with Stalin (later described in Khrushchev’s secret speech as Stalin’s ‘shieldbearer’).”

(R. Conquest (1961): p. 156).

Volkogonov says of Vlasik:

“For more than twenty-five years, Vlasik had been Stalin’s chief of personal security; he knew much was trusted by the boss.”

(D. Volkogonov: op. cit.; p. 318, 333).

and Robert McNeal* says that

“. . . Vlasik and Poskrebyshev effectively guarded the approaches to Stalin’s office, one as controller of security, the other of appointments.”

(R. H. McNeal: ‘Stalin: Man and Ruler’; Basingstoke; 1988; p. 301).

It was clear, therefore, that a successful terrorist attack on Stalin required the prior elimination of the faithful Poskrebyshev and Vlasik.

Walter Laqueur* states:

“During the last year of Stalin’s life, Poskrebyshev fell from grace.”

(W. Laqueur: ‘Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations’; London; 1990; p. 176).

and Nikita Khrushchev tells how this ‘fall from grace’ was brought about. He describes how, during the winter of 1952-53, he came under suspicion of leaking secret documents, and how he succeeded in deflecting the blame from himself in such a way that it fell upon Poskrebyshev:

“Stalin . . . complained that secret documents were leaking out through our secretariats. . . . Stalin was coming straight for me: ‘It’s you. Khrushchev! The leak is through your secretrariat!’ . . .
I . . . succeeded in deflecting the blow from myself, but Stalin didn’t let the matter rest. . . . After I’d convinced Stalin that the leak wasn’t through my secretariat, he came to the conclusion that the leak must have been through Poskrebyshev. . . . Poskrebyshev had worked for Stalin for many years. . . .
Stalin removed Poskrebyshev from his post and promoted someone else.”

(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 272, 273, 274, 275).

Niels Rosenfeldt confirms that

” . . . Poskrebyshev was removed from his old post at the latest during the winter of 1952-53. . .Stalin ‘s bodyguard, Vlasik, disappeared around that time (the winter of 1952-53 — Ed.).”

(F. E. Rosenfeldt: ‘Knowledge and Power: The Role of Stalin’s Chancellery in the Soviet System of Government’; Copenhagen; 1978; p. 196).

as does Adam Ulam*:

“Poskrebyshev and Vlasik . . . found themselves in disgrace.”

(B. Ulam: ‘Stalin: The Man and His Era’; London; 1989; p. 617).

Volkogonov states that

“. . Poskrebyshev and Vlasik were compromised . . . . shortly before Stalin’s death and were therefore distanced from him.”

(D. Volkogonov: op. cit.; p. 513).

and McNeal confirms that

“. . . both these men (Poskrebyshev and Vlasik — Ed.) were thrown out in 1952.”

(R. H. McNeal: ov. cit.: v. 301).

Deriabin agrees that the charges of disloyalty levelled at Poskrebyshev and Vlasik were completely false:

“The claim about that pair of long time faithful servants was a bald and most complete lie. But . . . Stalin fired them both.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 320).

The revisionist conspirators placed Poskrebyshev under house arrest:

“Poskrebyshev was placed under house arrest in his dacha outside Moscow, with . . . guards posted about it.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 321).

“Poskrebyshev . . . disappeared. He was simply not mentioned again, apart from a brief sneer in Khrushchev’s secret speech.”

(R. Conquest (1961): p. 208).

while Vlasik was expelled from the Party and sent to Sverdlovsk ts deputy commandant of a labour camp:

“Vlasik . . . was not only fired, he was also expelled from the Party and sent to Sverdlovsk. . . . . as deputy commandant of a . . . labour camp.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 321).

Vlasik came to Moscow and:

” . . . went to the Kremlin in an attempt to see Stalin. . . He was picked up near the Kremlin gates and put into the Lubyanka. Two weeks later he died there of an ‘illness.”‘

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 321).

Volkogonov confirms that Vlasik

” . . . was arrested on 16 December 1952″,

(D. Volkogonov”: op. cit.; p. 570).

and records that, during Vlasik’s interrogation, pressure was exerted on him:

“. . . to make him incriminate Poskrebyshev. He refused.”

(D. Volkogonov: op. cit.; p. 570).

Ulam confirms that

“. . . Vlasik, chief of his (Stalin’s — Ed.) personal security since the Civil War, had been imprisoned. His confidential secretary, Poskrebyshev, was chased away.”

(B. Ulam: op. cit.; p. 737).

and Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva*, tells the same story:

“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’; London; 1967; p. 216).

However, the attack on the defence system around Stalin was not confined to the elimination of Poskrebyshev and Vlasik. During 1952 the concealed revisionists set up:

“. . . . a commission to investigate. . . the entire state security apparatus.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 317).

This commission:

” . . . proceeded . . . to cut Stalin’s bodyguards to the bone. . . .
About seven thousand men were dropped from the original Okhrana force of some seventeen thousand. . , .When the slashing was finished, Stalin’s personal bodyguards, Okhrana No. 1, had been cut to half strength.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 317, 318, 319).

This left Stalin

” . . . guarded by . . . only a small group of officers. . . . a group that had little security experience, especially as bodyguards, and one that was headed by a mere major.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 319).

Rosenfeldt adds that about this time the special guard service, whose task was to ensure Stalin’s personal safety, after ‘a thorough purging and a big reduction in personnel’, together with the Kremlin Command and the Kremlin Medical Administration, were all made subordinate to the revisionist controlled Ministry of State Security:

“The special guard service, whose job it was to ensure Stalin’s personal safety, was made subordinate to the Ministry of State Security (MGB) in 1952 after a thorough purging and a big reduction in personnel. At the same time and in the same way the Kremlin Command and the Kremlin Medical Administration were put under MGB control.”

(N. E. Rosenfeldt: op. cit .; p. 196).

Then, on 17 February 1953, two weeks before Stalin himself died, the sudden death was reported of the Major-General Petr Kosynkin, Deputy Commandant of the Kremlin Guards, in charge of the operational arrangements for guarding Stalin:

“On 15 February 1953, shortly before Stalin’s death, the commander of the Kremlin guard, Major-General Pyotr Kosynkin, who was responsible for Stalin’s personal safety, died.”

(B. Levytsky: op. cit.; p. 212).

“The Deputy Commandant of the Kremlin, Major-General Kosynkin, in charge of the operational arrangements for guarding Stalin, died of a heart attack two weeks before Stalin. Or so the announcement said.”

(P. Deriabin & F. Gibney: ‘The Secret World’; New York; 1959; p. 169).

“The Vice-Chief of the Kremlin Command, Major-General Petr Kosynkin, passed away prematurely’ on 15th February 1953.”

(N. E. Rosenfeldt: op. cit.; p. 196).

“On February 17 1953 . . . Major General Petr Kosynkin, the deputy Commander of the Kremlin Guard, suddenly died of a heart attack. That sudden seizure was rather unusual, to say the least. A fanatical admirer of Stalin, Kosynkin had been in the prime of life and health. . . . The extremely careful physical examinations regularly undergone by all such appointees as Kosynkin automatically presuppose that the guard leader was in top condition and certainly not suffering from any heart trouble. . .
On February 17, 1953 there came a report, generally unnoticed at the time, that the Deputy Kremlin Commandant, General Kosynkin, the only remaining guard that Stalin could trust, had suddenly died of a ‘heart attack.”‘

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 239, 325).

Finally, on 21 February 1953

“. . . . a most significant change was made in the Army High Command. General Sergey Shtemenko was replaced by Marshal Vasily Sokolovsky as Chief of Staff of the Soviet armed forces. . . . And concurrently with Shtemenko’s replacement, the Okhrana bodyguards were removed from the general staff.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit,.; p. 325).

“The Chief of the Armed Forces General Staff, Sergey Shtemenko, was removed from his post about the same time (mid-February 1953 — Ed).”

(N. E. Rosenfeldt: op. cit.; p. 196).

Deriabin sums up this ‘process of stripping Stalin of all his personal security’ as ‘a studied and very ably handled business’:

“That completed the process of stripping Stalin of all personal security, except for the comparative window-dressing of the minor Okhrana officers in his office and household. 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 (revisionist-controlled — Ed.) 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.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 325-26).

and one which placed the conspirators finally in the drivers’s seat:

“With state security and the armed forces under their command, the connivers were finally in the driver’s seat.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 326).

Part 2: The Death of Stalin (1953)

On 3 March 1953 a joint statement of the Central Committee of the CPSU and of the USSR Council of Ministers announced

“…a great misfortune which has befallen our Party and our people.”

(Communique, 3 March 1953, in: ‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, 4 March 1953; p. 1, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 5, No. 6 (21 March 1953); p. 4).

It reported that:

“. . . during the night of March 1-2 Comrade Stalin, while in his Moscow apartment, had a haemorrhage of the brain, which affected vital parts of his brain. Comrade Stalin lost consciousness.

Paralysis of the right arm and leg developed. Loss of speech occurred. Serious disturbances developed in the functioning of the heart and breathing.

The best medical personnel have been called in to treat Comrade Stalin. . . .

‘Treatment of Comrade Stalin is under the constant supervision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Soviet government.”

(Government Statement, 3 March 1953, in: ‘Pravda ‘ and ‘Izvestia’, 4 March 1953; p. 1, in: ibid.; p. 4).

In the early hours of the following morning, 4 March, a medical bulletin was issued which stated:

“At 2 a.m. 4 March, J. V. Stalin’s conditions remains serious. Considerable disturbances of breathing is observed; frequency of breathing is 36 per minute and the rhythm of breathing is irregular, with periodic prolonged pauses.

It is observed that pulse beats are up to 120 a minute and there is complete arrhythmia. Maximum blood pressure is 220, minimum 120.

Temperature is 38.2 (Centigrade — Ed.). In connection with the disturbed breathing and blood circulation, inadequacy of organs is observed. The degree of disturbance of the function of the brain has increased somewhat.

At the present time a series of therapeutic measures are being applied to restore the vitally important functions of the organism.”

(Medical Bulletin, 4 March 1953, in: ibid.; p. 4).

A second bulletin was issued on the morning of 5 March:

“During the past twenty-four hours the state of health of Josef Vissarionovich Stalin remained grave. Arteriosclerosis, which developed during the night of March 1-2 on the basis of hypotonia and cerebral haemorrhage in his left brain hemisphere, has resulted, apart from the right-side paralysis of limbs and loss of consciousness, in impaired stem section of the brain, accompanied by disturbances of the vital functions of breathing and blood circulation.
During the night of March 3-4, disturbed breathing and blood circulation continued. The greatest changes were observed An the breathing functions.
Instances of periods of so-called Cheyne-Stokes breathing became more frequent. In connection with this, the condition of the blood circulation deteriorated and the degree of lack of oxygen increased.

Systematic introduction of oxygen and of medicines which regulate breathing and the action of the heart vessels gradually somewhat improved the condition and on the morning of March 4 the degree of lack of breathing was somewhat reduced.

Further, during the day of March 4, grave breathing disturbances recommenced. The rate of breathing was 36 per minute. Blood pressure continued to remain high (210 maximum, 110 minimum), with pulse 108-116 per minute, irregular, fluttering and arrhythmic.

The heart is not unduly enlarged. During the past twenty-four hours, fundamental changes in the condition of the lungs and organs of the peritoneal cavity were established. Albumen and red blood corpuscles were found in the normal ratio.

When blood was tested, increase in the number of white corpuscles to the extent of up to 17,000 was observed. Temperature during the morning and afternoon rose to 38.6.

Medical measures taken during March 4 consisted of introducing oxygen, camphor compounds, caffeine and glucose. For the second time, leeches were used to draw blood.

In connection with the raised temperature and high leucocytosis, penicillin therapy, which has been carried out for prophylactic purposes since the beginning of the illness, was intensified.

Towards the end of March 4 the state of health of Josef V. Stalin continues grave.

The patient is in a state of deep unconsciousnness.
Nervous regulation of breathing, as well as cardiac action, continues to be greatly impaired.”

(Medical Bulletin, 2 a.m., 5 March 1953. in: ‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, 5 March 1953; p. 1, in: ibid.; p. 4).

A third medical bulletin was issued in the morning of 5 March 1953 and published in the press on 6 March. It reported the worsening of Stalin’s condition:

“During the night and the first half of March 5, J. V. Stalin’s condition became worse. Acute disturbances in the cardio-vascular system have been added to the impairment of vital functions of the brain. For three hours this morning there was serious respiratory deficiency, which yielded with difficulty to the proper therapeutics.

At eight this morning there developed signs of an acute cardiovascular deficiency, a collapse. The blood pressure dropped, the pulse quickened. There was an increase in pallor. Emergency treatment eliminated these developments.

An electrocardiogram taken at 11 a.m. revealed acute disturbances in the blood circulation in the coronary arteries of the heart with lesions in the back wall of the heart. (The electrocardiogram taken March 2 had not established such changes). At 11.30 a.m. there was a second serious collapse, which was eliminated with difficulty by the proper medical treatment. Later in the day, the cardiovascular disturbances subsided to some extent. but the patient’s general condition remained extremely grave.

At 4 p.m. the blood pressure ranged from a maximum of 160 to a minimum of 100. The pulse was 120 per minute and arrhythmic. The rate of respiration: 36 per minute. Temperature: 37.6. The leucocyte count: 21,000. Treatment at present is aimed primarily at combatting the disturbances in respiration and blood circulation, specifically coronary circulation.”

(Medical Bulletin, 4 p.m., 5 March 1953. in: ‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, 6 March; p. 1; in: ibid.; p. 5).

Finally, on 6 March came the medical report carrying the announcement of Stalin’s death:

“On the afternoon of March 5 the condition of the patent deteriorated especially rapidly; respiration became shallow and much faster, the pulse reached 140-150 beats per minute and pulse pressure dropped.

At 2150 hours , with cardiac failure and growing insufficiency of breathing, J. V. Stalin died.”

(Medical Bulletin, 6 March 1953, in ‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, 6 March 1953. p. 1, in: ibid.; p. 5).

The medical report was published together with a joint tribute from the Central Committee, the government and the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet:

“The heart of Lenin’s comrade-in-arms and the inspired continuer of Lenin’s cause, the wise leader and teacher of the Communist Party and the Soviet people — Josef Vissarionovich STALIN — has stopped beating.

STALIN’s name is boundlessly dear to our Party, to the Soviet people, to the working people of the world. . . . Continuing Lenin’s immortal cause, Comrade STALIN led the Soviet people to the world-historic triumph of socialism in our land. Comrade STALIN led our country to victory over fascism in the second world war, which wrought a radical change in the entire international situation. Comrade STALIN armed the Party and the entire people with a great and clear programme of building communism in the USSR.

The death of Comrade STALIN, who devoted all his life to the great cause of communism, constitutes a great loss to the Party and to the working people of the Soviet land and of the whole world.”

(Joint Statement of CC of CPSU, USSR Council of Ministers and the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, in: ‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, 6 March 1953; p. 1, in: ibid.; p. 5).

On 7 March 1953 the report of the autopsy on Stalin’s body was published. It was stated that it

” . . . entirely confirmed the diagnosis established by the professors of medicine who treated J. V. Stalin.”

(Pathological and Anatomical Examination of the Body of Josef Stalin, in: ‘Pravda’, 7 March 1953. in: G. Bortoli: ‘The Death of Stalin’; London; 1975; p. 209).

and

“. . . established the irreversible character of J. V. Stalin’s illness since the appearance of the cerebral haemorrhage.”

(Pathological and Anatomical Examination of the Body of Josef Stalin, in: ibid.; p. 209).

The full report stated:

“As the result of a pathological and anatomical examination, an important centre of haemorrhage was discovered in the region of the subcortical centres of the left hemisphere of the brain. This haemorrhage destroyed important areas of the brain and provoked irreversible disturbances of the respiration and circulation. Besides the cerebral haemorrhage, observation was made of a considerable hypertonic disturbance of the left ventricle of the heart, important haemorrhages of the cardiac muscle, and in the mucous of the stomach and intestine, and arteriosclerotic modifications of particularly important vessels in the brain’s arteries. This process was the result of high blood pressure. The results of the pathological and anatomical examination have entirely confirmed the diagnosis establised by the professors of medicine who treated J. V. Stalin.

The facts of the pathologico-anatomical examination have established the irreversible character of J. V. Stalin’s illness since the appearance of the cerebral haemorrhage. That is why the energetic measures of the treatment could not produce positive results, nor prevent the fatal outcome.”

(Ibid.; p. 209).

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:

“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: op. cit ; 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. Abdurakhman Avtorhanov sees the cause in Stalin’s visible preparation of a purge to rival those of the thirties.”

(J. Lewis & P. Whitehead: ‘Stalin: A Time for Judgement’; London; 1990; p. 179).

“Only on the next morning . . . did the first physicians arrive.”

(W. Laqueuer: op. cit.; p. 151).

“Physicians were finally brought in to the comatose leader after a twelve- or fourteen hour interval.”

(D. Volkogonov: op. cit.; 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, 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: op. cit.; p. 4, 700, 739).

Fourthly, as we have seen, 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: op. cit,; p. 262).

“What a strange quirk of fate, I thought, that Stalin should lie dying just a few weeks after the Kremlin’s own doctors had been accused of plotting precisely such a death. A very strange and curious quirk of fate.

But was it just a quirk? . . . Was it possible that these powerful and able Soviet leaders, together with their colleagues in the Army, had stood idly by and taken no steps to halt the creeping terror that was certain to destroy almost all of them. . . .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: op. cit.; p. 160-61).

Fifthly, it is necessary to take into account the circumstantial evidence of the series of measures undertaken by the conspirators in the months prior to Stalin’s death to destroy the system of defences that had surrounded him.

It is not surprising, therefore, within weeks of Stalin’s death, rumours should circulate that he had been murdered:

“There were rumours, above all in Georgia, that Stalin had been poisoned.”

(W. Laqueur: op. cit.; p, 151).

Robert Conquest speaks of the:

” . . . possibilities that he was killed.”

(R. Conquest (1961): p. 172).

As Stalin’s former bodyguard Vlasik was leaving Moscow after his dismissal, Stalin’s son Vasily* is reported to have cried out:

“‘They are going to kill him! They are going to kill him!’. By ‘they’ he meant . . . other members of the Political Bureau, and by ‘him’ he meant his father.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 321).

“Stalin’s son Vasily kept coming in and shouting ‘They’ve killed my father, the bastards!”‘

(D. Volkogonov: op. cit.; p. 774).

Although Vasily was an alcoholic, when he continued to make these accusations publicly, he was arrested in April 1953 in order, as his sister Svetlana puts it, “to isolate him”:

“After my father’s death, he (Vasily — Ed.) . . . 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’; London: 1969 (hereafter listed as ‘S. Alliluyeva (1969); p. 202).

“He (Vasily Ed.) 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 (1967): 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: op. cit.; p. 151).

Robert Conquest and other commentators have drawn attention also to the sudden illness and death of the Czechoslovak leader, the Marxist-Leninist Klement Gottwald*, shortly after visiting Moscow to attend Stalin’s funeral, and have suggested that this death too had been induced. Gottwald was succeeded as President of Czechoslovakia by the concealed revisionist Antonin Zapotocky*:

“Many commentators have noted that immediately after Stalin’s death, Gottwald . . . also fell ill while attending Stalin’s funeral in Moscow, and died a few days later; and they have cast doubt on the naturalness of Gottwald’s illness.”

(R. Conquest (1961): p. 174).

The Albanian leader, the Marxist-Leninist Enver Hoxha* makes the same point:

“Immediately after the death of Stalin, Gottwald died. This was a sudden, surprising death! It had never crossed the mind of those who knew Gottwald that this strong, agile, healthy man would die of a flu or a chill allegedly caught on the day of Stalin’s funeral.”

(E. Hoxha: ‘The Khrushchevites’; Tirana; 1984 (hereafter listed as ‘E. Hoxha (1984)’); p. 153-54).

Hoxha also draws attention to the suspicious death of the Polish leader, the Marxist-Leninist Boleslaw Beirut* on 12 March 1957

” . . . in Moscow where he was attending the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party.”

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 10; p. 14,767).

and was succeeded by the concealed revisionist Edward Ochab:

“Later came the equally unexpected death of Comrade Beirut. Edward Ochab replaced Beirut in the point of First Secretary of the Party. Thus Khrushchev’s old desire was realised.”

(E. Hoxha (1984): p. 153-65).

It was Ochab who arranged for the release of the imprisoned revisionist Wladyslaw Gomulka in April and his promotion to the post of First Secretary in October.

Hoxha, in fact, explicitly accuses the revisionist conspirators of the murder of Stalin:

“This cosmopolitan huckster (Anastas Mikoyan — Ed.) . . . as history showed, plotted with Nikita Khrushchev against Stalin, whom they had decided to murder. He admitted this with his own mouth in February 1960.”

(E. Hoxha (1984): p. 63-64).

“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’; Tirana; 1979; p. 31).

The Aborted Coup (1953)

As we have noted, in the years immediately prior to Stalin’s death, the security forces were under the control of concealed revisionists, not of Marxist-Leninists:

“Prior to Stalin’s death the Ministries of State Security and of Interior were not under Beria’s control.”

(R. Conquest, (1961): p. 200).

Clearly, it was a matter of great concern to the revisionist conspirators that, in any readjustment of responsibilities following Stalin’s death, control of the security forces should not pass again under Marxist-Leninist control.

Khrushchev records a discussion with fellow-revisionist Nikolay Bulganin* by Stalin’s death-bed on the danger to their plans if the Marxist-Leninist Lavrenty Beria were to become again Minister in control of the. security services:

“‘Stalin’s not going to pull through. . . . You know what posts Beria will take for himself?’
‘Which one?’
‘He will try and make himself Minister of State Security. No matter what happens, we can’t let him do this. If he becomes Minister of State Security it will be the beginning of the end for us’.
Bulganin said he agreed with me”,

(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 319).

As we have seen, 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: op. cit.; p. 163-64, 166, 171, 173).

Robert Conquest paints a very similar picture:

“The streets of Moscow were solid with MVD troops when Stalin’s death was announced.” (R. Conquest (1961): p. 200).

as does Peter Deriabin:

“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.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 328).

But 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:

“Beria immediately proposed Malenkov for Chairman of the Council of Ministers (Premier — Ed.). 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.”

(N. S. Khrushchev (1961): p. 324).

The Exculpation of the Doctors (1953)

After the death of Stalin, the most urgent and immediate task which faced the revisionist conspirators was to exculpate the doctors — not, of course, because they were innocent but, on the contrary, because they were guilty and because further investigation into the case could well lead to the exposure of the highly-placed ring-leaders of the conspiracy.

As we have said, in order to confuse the Marxist-Leninists and the Soviet public as to the real motives behind a move to exculpate the doctors, this move was taken as part of a blanket action to “correct miscarriages of justice.” In other words, the “doctors’ case” was linked to the 1951-52 Georgian feint, which they themselves had engineered, and this latter genuine miscarriage of justice was now temporarily corrected at the same time as the doctors were exculpated. As further camouflage, the revisionist conspirators temporarily supported moves demanded by, and strengthening the position of, the Marxist-Leninists — notably, the dismissal of the Russian chauvinist Leonid Melnikov* as First Secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party.

The decision to exculpate the doctors was taken in March 1953, only days after Stalin’s death, since the name of one of the accused doctors (Boris Preobrazhensky) reappeared in the issue of the journal ‘Vestnik Oto-Rino-Laringology’ which was published on 31 March. (R. Conquest (1961): p. 206).

On 3 April 1953, the Soviet press carried a sensational communique issued in the name of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs which announced the exculpation and release from custody of the arrested doctors:

“The USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs has carried out a thorough investigation of all preliminary investigation data and other material in the case of the group of doctors accused of sabotage, espionage and terrorist acts against active leaders of the Soviet state.
The verification has established that the accused in this case . . .
were arrested by the former Ministry of State Security incorrectly and
without any lawful basis. . . .
The . . . accused in this case have been completely exonerated of the accusations against them….. . and have been freed from imprisonment.”

(Communique of USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs, in: ‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, 3 April 1953; p. 4, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 5 , No. 10 (18 April 1953); p. 3).

The communique went on to explain away the confessions of the accused doctors by implying that they had been procured by means of torture:

“The testimony of the arrested, allegedly confirming the accusations against them, was obtained by the officials of the investigatory department of the former Ministry of State Security through the use of impermissible means of investigation which are strictly forbidden under Soviet law. . . .
The persons accused of incorrect conduct of the investigation have been arrested and held criminally responsible.”

(Communique of USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs, in: ibid.; p. 3).

On the same day, the press reported that

” . . . the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet has resolved to annul the decree of January 20, 1953, awarding Dr. Lydia Timashuk the Order of Lenin. The award has been declared invalid in connection with fresh evidence that has since come to light.”

(Decision of Presidium of USSR Supreme Soviet, in: Y. Rapoport: op. cit.; p. 188).

Dr. Timashuk was not, however, prosecuted for attempting to pervert the course of justice, and

” . . . shortly after the April events, she resumed work at the Kremlin Hospital. . . . She reappeared in her office, apparently unperturbed.”

(Y. Rapoport: op. cit.; p. 191-92).

The Reversal of the Georgian Feint (1953)

As we have seen, in the government reorganisation of 7 March which followed the death of Stalin, the Marxist-Leninists temporarily regained control of the state security forces:

“On the morrow of the death (of Stalin — Ed.) . . ., Beria reclaimed control of the organs of state security, which had gradually been wrested from his hand during Stalin’s last years.”

(A. B. Ulam: op. cit.; p. 540).

As part of the strategy of attempting to deceive the Marxist-Leninists and the Soviet public as to the real aims of the revisionist conspirators, the Marxist-Leninists were permitted to bring about the removal of the revisionists from the leading positions they had acquired in Georgia in the feint of 1951-52, that is, temporarily to reverse the feint.

“In April 1953, Beria carried out a counter-purge in Georgia.”

(H. Fairbanks, junior: op. cit.; p. 163).

On 14 April 1953 the Georgian Central Committee dismissed Akaki Mgeladze as First Secretary, and Mgeladze admitted that the charges of ‘nationalist deviation’ which he had levelled against the former Marxist-Leninist leaders had been fabricated:

“Beria now moved with speed. . . . A plenary session of the Georgian Communist Party was held on 14 April 1953, which dismissed the Party Secretariat headed by A. L. Mgeladze and established a new one under an official named Mirtskhulava. Beria’s old protege Valerian Bakradze, whom Mgeladze had dismissed from government office, now became Prime Minister of the Georgian Republic. Several prominent supporters of Beria whom Mgeladze and his faction had imprisoned, were released and given portfolios in the Bakradze administration. The ousted First Secretary, Mgeladze, made an abject confession, declaring that charges of nationalist deviation which he had levelled against high-ranking Georgian Bolsheviks were based on false evidence. . . . N. Rukhadze, Georgian Minister of State Security, who had aided and abetted Mgeladze, was imprisoned.”

(D. M. Lang: op. cit.; p. 263).

On 15 April:

” . . . the Chief Minister of the Georgian Soviet Republic (M. Valerian Bakradze) announced . . . that the Georgian Minister of State Security (M. Rukhadze) and two former secretaries-general of the Georgian Communist Party (MM. Mgeladze and Charkviani) had been dismissed from their posts, arrested and would be ‘severely punished’ for fabricating ‘trumped up’ charges against former leading members of the Georgian Government and Communist Party. . . . At the same time he announced that three former Ministers who had been dismissed at Rukhadze’s instigation would be immediately restored to their former posts; that the Ministries of Internal Security and State Security would be welded into a single Ministry; and that this Ministry would be headed by M. Vladimir Dekanozov. . . .
M. Bakradze, who was addressing a meeting of the Georgian Supreme Soviet, said that . . . a number of innocent persons had fallen victim to baseless charges of ‘bourgeois nationalism.”‘

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 9; p. 13,029).

On 16 April “Zarya Vostoka” reported a speech by Bakradze in which he said:

“‘It has now been fully established by the organs concerned that . . . the enemy of the people and Party, former Minister of State Security N. M. Rukhadze, had cooked up an entirely false and provocative affair concerning a non-existent nationalism whose victims were eminent workers of our republic. . . . Rukhadze and his accomplices have been arrested and will be severely punished.”‘

(‘Zarya Vostoka’, 16 April 1953, in: R. Conquest (1961): p. 145).

On 21 April Vilian Zodelava, released from prison, was made First Deputy Prime Minister and elected to the Bureau of the Central Committee of the Georgian Party:

“Mr. Zodelava was one of three leading Georgian Party members who had been jailed on false charges declared to have been concocted by Mr. Rukhadze. . . 
Released from jail, he has been made First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers (First Deputy Premier –Ed.) and has been elected to the Bureau of the Georgian Communist Party’s Central Committee.”

(‘New York Times’, 22 April 1953; p. 14).

On this date, “Zarya Vostoka” reported that:

“…a plenary session of the Central Committee in Georgia was announced . . . as having established that ‘the former secretary of the Central Committee, Mgeladze, took an active part in the arrest of completely innocent workers in the creation of a provocational case concerning non-existent nationalism fabricated by the enemy of the Party and the people, Rukhadze. . . . Mgeladze admitted that he was one of the instigators of ‘a stupid and provocational story’ about the existence in Georgia of a nationalist group.”

(‘Zarya Vostoka’, 21 April 1953, cited in: R. Conquest (1961); p. 145).

By 13 May the plot of revisionist conspirators to link the coup carried out by Nikolay Rukhadze in Georgia in 1951-52 with the false charges against Mikhail Ryumin in connection with the ‘doctors’ case’ had been consolidated, On that day, the newspaper “Zarya Vostoka”

” . . . declared that the Georgian case had been fabricated by Rukhadze and Ryumin. The latter, a former chief of the Investigatory Division of the former Ministry of State Security, was charged in an announcement of the new Ministry of Internal Affairs. . . .

The Georgian case . . . was in the statement of ‘Zarya Vostoka’ an Vanalogous case’ (to that of the doctors – Ed.) and was falsely fabricated by Ruhhadze.”

(‘New York Times’, 14 May 1953; p. 14).

The Dismissal of Leonid Melnikov (1953)

As the third facet of their plot to deceive the Marxist-Leninists and the Soviet public as to their real aims, the concealed revisionists supported the dismissal (announced on 13 June 1953) of the revisionist First Secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party, Leonid Melnikov, who had been the target of severe criticism by the Marxist-Leninists and the Ukrainian people for his notorious Russification policies in the Ukraine:

“In June 1953, after Stalin’s death, the Russification policy in the Western Ukrainian provinces underwent a reversal. On June 13, the Kremlin disclosed that Leonid G. Melnikov, at the time First Secretary of the Ukrainian Party, had been ousted from that position for ‘having permitted distortions in the Leninist-Stalinist national policy’. The charges against Melnikov were . . . an indictment of Khrushchev who, in the course of his twelve-year rule in the Ukraine, had vigorously put this policy into practice. Melnikov had worked under Khrushchev in 1939-40 and from 1944 to 1949 and carried out the . . . Russification policy as efficiently as his boss.”

(L. Pistrak: ‘The Grand Tactician: Khrushchev’s Rise to Power’; London; 1961; p. 185).

“L. G. Melnikov was relieved of his post as First Secretary of the (Ukrainian — Ed.) Central Committee as responsible for the Russification policy in the Ukraine.”

(B. Levytsky: op. cit.; p. 216-17).

The Military Coup in Moscow (1953)

But by the end of June 1953, it had become clear that the efforts to convince the Marxist-Leninists that the exculpation of the doctors had been justified had only been temporarily successful. Headed by Beria, the security forces, under Marxist-Leninist control since the readjustment of portfolios after Stalin’s death, were continuing to inestigate the “doctors’ case.”

Clearly, if the revisionist conspirators were to feel safe, Beria and his Marxist-Leninist colleagues in the security forces had to be eliminated as a matter of urgency.

On 10 July 1953, a few days after Beria had been arrested, a leading article in ‘Pravda’ revealed the real reason for that arrest — a reason not disclosed in the report of his “trial” — namely, that he had “deliberately impeded” and “tried to distort” instructions of the Central Committee and the Soviet government designed to clear up “certain illegal and abritary actions” — an obvious reference to the “doctors’ case”:

“Having been charged with carrying out ‘the Instructions of the Party Central Committee and the Soviet Government with a view . . . to clearing up certain illegal and arbitrary actions, Beria deliberately impeded the implementation of these instructions and, in a number of cases, tried to distort them.”

(‘Pravda’, 10 July 1953, in: B. Nicolaevsky: op. cit.; p. 147).

Over several days at the end of June 1953, the revisionist conspirators approached other leading members of the Politburo with the baseless story that Beria was an agent of foreign imperialist powers and was plotting a coup against the Party leadership. Khrushchev has described how he based his allegation on unsubstantiated charges made at a Plenum of the Central Committee in February 1937 by the revisionist Grigory Kaminsky* that Beria had been an agent of the counter-revolutionary Mussavat Party —

“a nationalist party of the bourgeoisie and landlords in Azerbaijan, formed in 1912. . . . supported by the Turkish and later by the British interventionists.”

(Note to: J. V. Stalin: ‘Works’, Volume 5; Moscow; 1953; p.417).

“In 1937, at a Central Committee Plenum, former People’s Commissar of Health Protection, Kaminsky, said that Beria worked for the Mussavat intelligence service.”

(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 65).

Khruschev admits:

“I could easily believe that he (Beria – Ed.) 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.”

(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 333).

But he alleges that he enrolled Georgy Malenkov* and Vyacheslav Molotov* into a plot to “detain Beria for investigation”:

“I took Malenkov aside and said: . . . ‘Surely you must see that Beria’s position has an anti-Party character. We must not accept what he is doing. . . ‘Malenkov finally agreed. I was surprised and delighted. . . .Comrade Malenkov and I then agreed that I should talk to Comrade Molotov. . . . I told Molotov what sort of person Beria was and what kind of danger threatened the Party if we didn’t thwart his scheming against the Party leadership. I had earlier told him how Beria had already set his plan in motion for aggravating nationalist tensions in the Republics. . . .I said: . . . ‘You think, maybe, that we should detain him for investigation? I said ‘detain’ rather than ‘arrest’ because there were still no criminal charges against Beria. . . . Molotov and I agreed and parted.”

(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 330, 331, 332, 333).

He later describes how he succeeded in winning over Lazar Kaganovich*:

“I said that Malenkov, Bulganin, Saburov and I were of one mind and that without him we had a majority. Kaganovich declared right away: I’m with you too.”‘

(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 334).

But because the security forces were under the control of the Marxist-Leninists, these could not be relied upon to carry out the task of eliminating Beria and his colleagues. The conspirators therefore decided that the coup had to be carried out by the army:

“The Presidium bodyguard was obedient to him (Beria –Ed.). Therefore we decided to enlist the help of the military.”

(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 335-36).

“The army took part in Beria’s arrest.”

(J. Ducoli: op. cit.; p. 58).

Khrushchev describes how the conspirators entrusted the execution of the military coup to a group of revisionist officers which included Kirill Moskalenko* and Georgy Zhukov*:

“First, we entrusted the detention of Beria to Comrade Moskalenko, the air defence commander, and five generals. This was my idea. Then, on the eve of the session, Malenkov widened our circle to include Marshal Zhukov and some others. That meant eleven marshals and generals in all. In those days all military personnel were required to check their weapons when coming into the Kremlin, so Comrade Bulganin was instructed to see that the generals were allowed to bring their guns with them. We arranged for Moskalenko’s group to wait for a summons in a separate room while the session was taking place. When Malenkov gave a signal, they were to come into the room where we were meeting and take Beria into custody.”

(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 335-36).

The coup was fixed to take place during a joint meeting of the Presidium of the Party Central Committee and of the Presidium of the Council of Ministers on 24 June 1953. At this meeting Khrushchev reminded those present — including the gullible Marxist-Leninists – of the charges made by Kaminsky in 1937:

“I recalled the Central Committee Plenum of February 1937 at which Comrade Grisha Kaminsky had accused Beria of having worked for the Mussavatist counter-intelligence service, and therefore for the English intelligence service, when he was Secretary of the Baku Party organisation.”

(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 339).

Finally, Khrushchev himself moved that Beria should be dismissed from all his posts:

“After the final speech, the session was left hanging. There was a long pause. I saw we were in trouble, so I asked Comrade Malenkov for the floor in order to propose a motion. As we had arranged in advance, I proposed that the Central Committee Presidium should release Beria from his duties. . . . Malenkov was still in a state of panic. As I recall, he didn’t even put my motion to a vote. He pressed a secret button which gave the signal to the generals who were waiting in the next room. Zhukov was the first to appear. Then Moskalenko and the others came in. Malenkov said in a faint voice to Comrade Zhukov: ‘As Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, I request that you take Beria into custody pending investigation of charges made against him’.
‘Hands up!’, Zhukov commanded Beria.
Moskalenko and the others unbuckled their holsters in case Beria tried anything. . . . We checked later and found that he had no gun. . . .
Beria was immediately put under armed guard in the Council of Ministers building next to Malenkov’s office confinement.”

(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p. 337-38).

Strobe Talbott*, the editor of Khrushchev’s memoirs, points out that:

“Khrushchev’s implicit claim to have been the leading spirit in the plot against Beria is no doubt broadly true.”

(S. Talbott: Note to: N. S. Khrushchev (1071): p. 321).

The dismissal of Beria from his state posts was confirmed by the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet on 26 June. Beria was replaced as Minister of Internal Affairs, by the concealed revisionist Sergey Kruglov, who had held the post prior to the government reorganisation following Stalin’s death. (‘Pravda’, 17 December 1953, in: R. Conquest (1961): p. 440).

Before the dismissal was made public, the revisionist conspirators took every precaution to prevent any opposition from those astute enough to see what it portended:

“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.”

(P. Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 332).

On 10 July 1953, it was officially announced

“…that Mr. Lavrenty Beria, First Vice-Chairman and Minister of Internal Affairs, had been expelled from the Communist Party and removed from his Ministerial posts as an ‘enemy of the people.”‘

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 9; p. 13,029).

Three years later, in his secret speech of February 1956, Khrushchev was to tell the 20th Congress of the CPSU that:

” . . . Stalin originated the concept ‘enemy of the people’. . . . This term made possible the usage of the most cruel repression, violating all norms of revolutionary legality.”

(N. S. Khruschchev (1956): p. 12).

In the first few weeks of July several other prominent Marxist-Leninists connected with the state security service, were arrested, or as Lang expresses it:

“Beria fell, dragging down with him many high officials . . . whose familiarity with secrets of state made their survival dangerous to the victors.”

(A.M. Lang: op. cit.; p. 264).

Those arrested with Beria included Vladimir Dekanozov*, Vsevolod Merkulov, Bogdan Kobulov, Sergey Goglidze, Pavel Meshik and Lev Vlodzirmirsky all of whom were Marxist-Leninists having close connection with the state security forces.

To sum up, the revisionist conspirators were able to

“. . . to unite the leaders in a conspiracy in which, with the help of the army, . . . they succeeded in getting rid of him (Beria — Ed.) once and for all.”

(R. Carre’re d’Encausse: ‘Stalin: Order through Terror’; Harlow; 1981; p. 193).

The Military Coup in Georgia (1953-54)

On 14 July 1953, shortly after Beria’s “arrest” on 26 June, the revisionist conspirators moved to carry out a military coup in Georgia in order to reverse the changes made in April 1953 and restore the situation which existed there prior to this date – the situation of revisionist domination brought about by the feint of 1951-52. The leaders of the coup, which was carried out at a joint meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Georgia and of the Tiflis City Committee, were two military officers — General Aleksei Antonov* and Major-General Pavel Efimov:

“A. I. Antonov, General of the Army, Commander of the Transcaucasus Military District and, reputedly, a friend of Zhukov’s . . . . acted soon after the news of Beria’s arrest was announced from Moscow. He attended a joint plenary session of the Georgian Central and Tiflis Party Committees with a fellow-officer, Major-General P. I. Efimov. The latter . . . was then elected to the Central Committee Bureau. Other army officers then took over important posts in the government and Party apparatus.”

(J. Ducoli: op. cit.; p. 58).

In the new political situation, Valerian Bakradze and some other Georgian leaders attempted to save their position by jumping on the revisionist bandwagon. “Zarya Vostoka” of 15 July 1953 reports a speech by Bakradze at the meeting already referred to, in which

“. . . he now, of course, condemns Beria.”

(R. Conquest (1961): p. 146).

As the “New York Times” commented:

“When Mr. Beria was purged last July, it appeared that Messrs. Bakradze and Mirtakhulava had attempted to jump from the Beria . . . . wagon.
Both of them assailed Mr. Beria at meetings held in the Georgian capital and also at the meeting of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union in Moscow last August.”

(‘New York Times’, 23 September 1953; p. 16).

On 15 July, Tiflis Radio referred to Mgeladze, Rapava, Rukhadze and Shoniya as

” . . . accomplices of Beria.”

(R. Conquest (1961): p. 146).

“M. Bakradze . . . coupled Beria’s name with those of Rukhadze, Mgeladze and Charkviani as ‘traitors to the Party.”‘

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 9; p. 13,030).

At the Georgian Central Committee meeting on 14 July, the Marxist-Leninist Vladimir Dekanozov was dismissed as Georgian Minister of Internal Affairs and expelled from the Party:

“First the police, or former police, adherents of Beria were removed at high speed.”

(R. Conquest (1961): p. 146).

“On July 15 . . ., after the announcement of Beria’s arrest, a broadcast from Tiflis announced that M. Dekanozov had been dismissed from the Georgian Government and the Communist Party for collaboration with ‘the traitor Beria.”

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 9; p. 13,029-30).

“The main action taken (at the CC meeting — Ed.) was the expulsion of Dekanozov . . . from the Party.”

(R. Conquest (1961): p.146)

Dekanozov was:

“arrested immediately after.”

(R.Conquest 1961;. p. 151)

Reporting these events, the “New York Times” forecast that:

“. . . thousands of Georgian Communists face the prospect of being purged as Beria followers.”

(‘New York Times’, 16 July 1953; p. 8).

Aleksei Inauri, another revisionist army officer, was appointed Georgian Minister of Internal Affairs in succession to Dekanozov:

“A. I. Inauri has been named Minister of Internal Affairs for Georgia to succeed Vladimir Dekanozov. . . .Mr. Inauri is a newcomer to high office in Georgia.”

(‘New York Times’, 3 August 1953; p. 6).

The attempt of Bakradze and others to save their positions by transferring their allegiance to the revisionists failed. On 20 September 1953 a Plenum of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party, presided over by Secretary of the USSR Central Committee Nikolay Shatalin from Moscow, removed Bakradze as Georgian Premier and Mirtskhulava as First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party:

“Premier Valerian M. Bakradze, who had headed the government since last April, was dismissed in disgrace and G. D. Dzhavakhishvili . . . was named in his place.”

(‘New York Times’, 23 September 1953; p. 1).

and a new First Secretary was elected in the shape of another army officer -Vasily Mzhavanadze*:

“The post of First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party was filled in September 1953 by the election of a new man — Mr. Vasily P. Mzhavanadze, a former Lieutenant-General in the Red Army.”

(D. M. Lang: op. cit.; p. 264).

Ducoli points out the importance of the military in the new Georgian leadership:

“Three representatives of the army were found in the Bureau (of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party — Ed.): First Secretary Mzhavanadze, MVD head Inauri, and Commander of the Transcaucausian Military District Antonov.”

(J. Ducoli: op. cit,; p. 59).

On 25 September 1953 (five days after the dismissal of Bakradze):

“. . . it was announced that three more Georgian Ministers had been dismissed – M. Baramiya (Minister of Agriculture and Procurement), M. Chaureli (Minister of Culture), and M. Tsukulidze (Minister of Education). . . . (M. Baramiya had been dismissed in April 1952 from the post of Second Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party, having been accused of ‘bourgeois nationalism’ and ‘ideological deviation’, but had been reinstated in the Government a year later with Beria’s support).”

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 9: p. 13,468).

In the following month (October 1953) a new Georgian Prime Minister was elected — the revisionist engineer and geologist Givi Djavakhishvili*:

“On 29 October 1953, a forty-one-year-old engineer and geologist, Mr. Givi D. Djavakhishvili, was elected Prime Minister of the Georgian Republic.”

(D. M. Lang: op. cit.; p. 264).

and on 17 January 1954 a broadcast from Tiflis

“. . announced that M. Vilian Zodelava had been dismissed from the post of First Deputy Premier of the Georgian Soviet Republic.”

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 9; p. 13,468).

Conquest notes that:

” . . . none of the Beria nominees (of the Marxist-Leninists — Ed.) has reappeared in office.”

(R. Conquest (1961): p. 147).

The ‘Mingrelian Affair’ (1953)

In Soviet revisionist mythology, the Georgian events of April 1953 have become known as the “Mingrelian Affair.” Mingrelia is that part of Georgia which borders upon the Black Sea, and the name has been apparently coined because the leading individuals involved in it came from Mingrelia:

“It seems plain that the ‘Mingrelian’ conspiracy refers not to this rather small area, but to a group of Mingrelians powerful in Georgia as a whole. . . . Baramiya, Rapava, Shoniya and Zodelava . . . were all Mingrelians, as was Beria himself.”

(R. Conquest (1961): p. 140).

In describing the “Mingrelian Affair” of April 1953 to the 20th Congress of the CPSU in February 1956 as an instance of miscarriage of justice, Nikita Khrushchev confuses it, no doubt deliberately, with the feint attack of 1953, which was engineered by Khrushchev and his fellow revisionist conspirators and was exposed and corrected by the Marxist-Leninists in April 1953. He states that the (1951-52) affair related to false charges of ‘nationalism’ levelled against Georgian Party leaders, but repeats the false allegation made at the time that these charges were initiated by Stalin:

“Instructive . . . is the case of the Mingrelian nationalist organisations which supposedly existed in Georgia. As is known, resolutions by the Central Committee Communist Party of the Soviet Union were made concerning this case in November 1951 and in March 1952.
Stalin had personally dictated them. They made serious accusations against many loyal Communists. On the basis of falsified documents it was proven that there existed in Georgia a supposedly nationalistic organisation, whose objective was the liquidation of the Soviet power in that Republic with the help of imperialist powers.
In this connection a number of responsible Party and Soviet workers were arrested in Georgia. As was later proven, this was a slander directed against the Georgian Party Organisation.
We know that there have been at times manifestations of local bourgeois nationalism in Georgia, as in several other republics. . . .
As it developed, there was no nationalistic organisation in Georgia.
Thousands of innocent people fell victim of wilfulness and lawlessness.
All of this happened under the ‘genial’ leadership of Stalin, ‘the great son of the Georgian nation’, as Georgians liked to refer to Stalin.”

(N. S. Khrushchev (1961): p. 60, 61-62).

The “Trial” of Beria (1953)

The “trial” of Lavrenti Beria and six of his fellow-Marxist-Leninists who had been associated with the security forces took place in the USSR Supreme Court on 18-23 December 1953. Those tried with Beria were:

Vladimir Dekanozov, recently Georgian Minister of Internal Affairs;
Sergey Goglidze, former Georgian People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs, and recently an official of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs;
Bogdan Kobulov, former Georgian Deputy Commissar of Internal Affairs;
Vsevolod Merkulov, former USSR Minister of State Security, recently USSR Minister of State Control;
Pavel Meshik, formerly an official of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs, recently Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs; and
Lev Vlodzimirsky, former Head of the Section of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs for Investigating Specially Important Cases.

The Presiding Judge at the “trial” was Marshal Ivan Konev, on whose appointment the “New York Times” commented:

“Marshal Ivan Konev’s role as chairman of the tribunal . . . appears to be the clearest indication to date of the greatly enhanced political power now apparently wielded by the highest Soviet military leaders.”

(‘New York Times’, 24 December 1953; p. 1).

and noted a year later:

“Three of the four top judges who tried and sentenced Beria were army men.”

(‘New York Times’, 25 December 1954; p. 3).

Furthermore, a new State Prosecutor was specially appointed by the revisionist conspirators — the Ukrainian revisionist jurist Roman Rudenko*:

“We had no confidence in . . . the State Prosecutor . . .so we sacked him and replaced him with Comrade Rudenko.”

(N. S. Khrushchev (1971): p 339).

It was alleged that Beria:

“. . . in 1919 . . . committed treason by accepting the position of Secret Agent in the Intelligence Service of the counter-revolutionary Mussavat Government in Azerbaijan, which operated under the control of British Intelligence organs.”

(Report of Trial of L. P. Beria, in: ‘Pravda’, 24 December 1953, in: R. Conquest (1961): p. 445).

All the defendants were charged that they

” . . . using their official positions in the organs of the NKVD/MGB/MVD, committed a number of the most serious crimes for the purpose of exterminating honourable cadres.”

(Report of Trial of L. P. Beria, in: ibid,; p. 446).

And with

“. . betraying the Motherland and operating in the interests of foreign capital . . . in order to seize power . . . . restore capitalism and the domination of the bourgeoisie”,

(Report of Trial of L. P. Beria, in: ibid.; p. 444-45).

and with waging

“a criminal struggle of intrigue against . . . Sergo Ordzhonikidze.”

(Report of Trial of L. P. Beria, in: ibid.; p. 442).

The Ordzhonikidze case was discussed in an earlier section.

All the defendants were found guilty and sentenced to death by shooting, the sentence being carried out on 23 December 1953.

It was stated that all the accused had

“. . . pleaded guilty”,

(Report of Trial of Beria, in: ibid.; p. 446).

but we have only the conspirators word for this, since

“the trial was closed to the public.”

(‘New York Times’, 24 December 1953; p. 1).

Nicolaevsky, indeed, insists that

“. . . Beria was tried behind closed doors without any confessions.”‘

(Nicolaevsky: op. cit.; p. 120).

and the Albanian leader, the Marxist-Leninist Enver Hoxha, affirms that a Soviet military adviser to Albania informed the Albanians that he had been a witness at Beria’s “trial” and that Beria, far from “confessing” had defended himself very strongly in court and refuted all the charges:

“When a general, who I believe was called Sergatskov, came to Tirana as Soviet military adviser, he also told us something about the trial of Beria. He told us that he had been called as a witness to declare in court that Beria had allegedly behaved arrogantly towards him. On this occasion Sergatskov told our comrades in confidence: ‘Beria defended himself very strongly in court, accepted none of the asccusations and refuted them all.”

(E.Hoxha (1984): p, 31).

Many Western commentators accept that the charges against Beria and his co-defendants were a mere pretext for their judicial murder. Even Stalin’s daughter Svetlana, who disliked Beria and was inclined to believe any story detrimental to him, testifies that:

“Beria’s ‘trial’ was staged . . . without any evidence.”

(S. Alliluyeva (1969): p. 375).

On the allegations that Beria was a “foreign agent,” Nicolaevsky points out that:

” – – not the slightest shred of evidence has even been offered.”

(B. Nicolaevsky: op. cit.; P. 145).

While Lang ridicules the charges that Beria and his Leninists were guilty of “attempting to restore capitalism”:

“These persons and others put to to death with them were accused of conspiring with Beria to liquidate the Soviet workers’ and peasants regime with the aim of restoring capitalism and the power of the bourgeoisie. These charges can hardly be taken seriously.”

(D.M.Lang: op.cit.,; p.264).

The Re-emergence of Melnikov (1953-57)

After the “arrest” of Beria in July 1953, the concealed revisionists felt it safe to “rehabilitate” their colleague Leonid Melnikov:

“Melnikov subsequently re-emerged and rose again. A few weeks after Beria’s fall, Melnikov was appointed Soviet Ambassador to Romania; in April 1955 . . . he was recalled to Moscow and appointed Minister of Construction of Coal Industry Enterprises, and in June 1957 was identified as Chairman of the State Planning Commission and First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers (First Deputy Premier — Ed.) of the Kazakh SSR. Thus Khrushchev moved a notorious Russifier of the Ukraine to a Muslim Republic to replace a prominent local leader.”

(L. Pistrak: op. cit.; p. 185).

The Trial of Abakumov (1954)

On 14-17 December 1954, the Marxist-Leninist former Minister of State Security, Viktor Abakumov, was tried in Leningrad before the Military Collegium of the USSR Supreme Court, presided over by Lieutenant-Colonel E. L. Zeidin. Along with Abakumov, as co-defendants, appeared:

A.G. Leonov, former director of the MGB Investigating Division for Especially Important Cases;
V. I. Komarov and M. T. Likhachev, former Deputy Chairmen of the Investigating Division for Especially Important Cases;
I. A. Chernov and I. M. Broverman, former members of the USSR Ministry of State Security.

The defendants were charged with:

” . . . committing the same crimes as Beria.”

(‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, 24 December 1954, p. 2, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 6, No. 49 (19 January 1955); p. 12).

while Abakumov was in particular charged with having:

“. . . fabricated the so-called ‘Leningrad case’, in which many Party and Soviet officials were arrested without grounds and falsely accused of very grave state crimes.”

(‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, in: ibid.; p. 12).

All the accused were found guilty. Chernov was sentenced to 15 years in a labour camp, Broverman to 25 years in a labour camp, while Abakumov, Leonov, Komarov and Likachev were sentenced to death by shooting.

The “Trial” of Ryumin (1954)

As has been said, the Minister of State Security officially responsible for the investigation of the ‘Doctors’ Case’ was Semyon Ignatiev, while Mikhail Ryumin was merely his deputy.

But Ignatiev was a member of the revisionist conspiracy, and so took part in the investigation only reluctantly, while Ryumin was a Marxist-Leninist. In consequence, their fate at the hands of the conspirators was very different.

Ryumin was arrested on 5 April 1953, two days after the doctors had been exculpated. (‘Pravda’, 6 April 1953; p. 1).

As Georges Bortoli comments:

“It was convenient to make him rather than the former Minister Ignatiev shoulder the heaviest responsibility for the affair. Ignatiev was loyal to Khrushchev and Khrushchev defended him tooth and nail.”

(G. Bortoli: op. cit.; p. 186-87).

Nevertheless, it was not until July 1954 — fifteen months after his arrest — that Ryumin came to trial:

“The fact that Ryumin was not tried until fifteen months after his arrest shows that he must have had his defenders. They must have been very influential defenders at that. . . .
A real struggle over the Ryumin case was fought at the June (1954 Ed.) Plenum , and it was there that his execution was decided upon.”

(B. Nicolaevsky: op. cit.; p. 154-55, 156).

Ryumin’s trial lasted six days – from 2 to 7 July 1953:

“On July 2-7 1954, the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR examined at a court session the case of M. D. Ryumin.”

(‘Pravda’, 23 July 1954, in: R. Conquest (1961): op. cit.; p. 447).

and the report of the proceedings made it clear that he was charged with “fabricating” the “Doctors’ Case”:

“Ryumin, during the period of his work in the post of Senior Investigator and than as Head of the Section for Investigating Specially Important Cases of the former Ministry of State Security, . . . engaged . . . on the path of forging investigative materials, on the basis of which Provocative cases were engineered and unjustified arrests were carried out of a number of Soviet citizens, including prominent medical workers.”

(‘Pravda’, 23 July 1954. in: ibid.; p. 447).

Somewhat oddly, however, this was defined as

“. . . a crime envisaged by Article 58-7 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR.”

(‘Pravda’, 23 July 1954, in: ibid.; p. 447).

But Article 58, Para. 7, of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR relates to economic sabotage!

“Article 58, Para. 7, is . . . irrelevant to Ryumin’s activity in connection with the arrest of the doctors. . . . It cannot possibly be applied to Ryumin’s role in the doctors’ plot.”

(B. Nicolaevsky: op. cit.; p. 149).

Nicolaevsky points out in explanation that falsification of evidence is punishable under the Criminal Code by only up to five years deprivation of liberty, while “economic sabotage” carries the death penalty. (B. Nicolaevsky: op. cit.; p. 149).

The court:

” . . . sentenced Ryumin to the supreme penalty — death by shooting. The sentence has been carried out.”

(‘Pravda’, 23 July 1954, in: R. Conquest (1961): p. 448).

Adam Ulam sums up this course of events as follows:

“After a secret trial in July 1954, Ryumin was shot.”

(A. B. Ulam: op. cit.; p. 736).

The fate of Ignatiev, the Minister, was very different. He was merely criticised for

” . . . political blindness and negligence.”

(‘Pravda’, 6 April 1953, in: Y. Rapoport: op. cit. .; p. 189-90).

and, as Conquest expresses it,

“. . . was only demoted”,

(R. Conquest (1961): p. 208).

On 7 April (two days after Ryumin’s arrest) it was announced that Ignatiev had been

“. . . . . released from the duties of a Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU.”

(‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestia’, 7 April 1953; p. 12, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 5, No. 11 (25 April 1953); p. 4).

This treatment was because, as a participant in the revisionist conspiracy,

“Ignatiev . . . came under Khushchev’s protection.”

(R. Conquest (1961): p. 181).

Thus, Ignatiev’s ‘disgrace’ was very temporary. A few months later, in February 1954, Ignatiev

” . . . was appointed First Party Secretary in the Bashkir ASSR.”

(S. Wolin & R. M. Slusser: op. cit.; p. 56).

“Khrushchev . . . took Ignatiev under his wing and gave him an important post in the Party apparatus, albeit in the provinces.”

(B. Nicolaevsky: op. cit.; p. 128).

“Ignatiev was appointed First Secretary of the Bashkir Autonomous Republic. Thus, under the Khrushchev regime, another Muslim republic came under the rule of a Great-Russian whose career had not exactly mirrored sympathy for other nationalities and races.”

(L. Pistrak: op. cit.; p. 187).

The “Rehabilitation” of Anna Louise Strong (1955)

On 14 February 1949

” . . . ‘the notorious intelligence agent, the American journalist Anna Louisa Strong . . . was arrested. . . .Mrs. Strong is accused of espionage and subversive activity directed against the Soviet Union. It is reported that she would be deported in a few days.”

(‘New York Times’, 15 February 1949; p. 1).

When, in 1955, the Soviet revisionists decided to seek a rapprochement with the United States, Beria and Abakumov were used as scapegoats for Strong’s 1949 deportation, the evidence for which they were said to have “fabricated”:

On 4 March 1955

“. . . Anna Louise Strong . . . was formally absolved of the charges that she had spied on the Soviet Union. . .Lavrenti P. Beria . . . and Viktor S. Abakumov . . . were blamed for the false arrest of Miss Strong.”

(‘New York Times’, 5 March 1955; p. 1).

The ‘Rehabilitation’ of Tito (1955)

Similarly, when the Soviet revisionists decided to annul the denunciation of Yugoslav revisionism made in 1948-49 by the Marxist-Leninist Communist Information Bureau, Khrushchev visited Belgrade for this purpose in May 1955:

“He not only apologised for past ‘aggravations’, he attributed them to the ‘fabrication’ of Lavrenty Beria and Viktor Abakumov.”

(‘New York Times’, 27 May 1955; p. 1).

The Rapava-Rukhadze Trial (1955)

In September 1955 the Military Collegium of the USSR Supreme Court, sitting in Tiflis and presided over by Lieutenant-General Chertkev, tried Avksenty Rapava (formerly Georgian People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs), Nikolay Rukhadze (formerly Minister of State Security), and six other defendants formerly connected with the Georgian security forces. They were charged with

” . . . high treason, terroristic acts and participation in counter-revolutionary organisations.”

(Radio Tiflis, 22 November 1955, in: R. Conquest (1961): p. 450).

Rukhadze, of course, had become a victim of the manoeuvres to reverse the Georgian feint of 1951-52 associated with the exculpation of the terrorist doctors, and was sacrificed to those manoevres.

Accused of being “accomplices of Beria,” among the crimes with which the defendants were charged was that of taking an active part

“. . . in the struggle of intrigue which Beria had over a number of years been carrying on against Sergo Ordzhonikidze, the prominent statesman.”

(Radio Tiflis, 22 November 1955, in: R. Conquest (1961): p. 450).

and of committing

“. . . terroristic acts of violence against Mamia Orakhelashvili, former Secretary of the Transcaucasian Party Regional Committee, and his wife, Mariam Orakhelashvili, former People’s Commissar of Education of the Georgian SSR.”

(Radio Tiflis, 22 November 1955, in: R. Conquest (1961): p. 450).

Conquest notes:

“The Rapava-Rukhadze trial in September 1955 again mentioned Ordzhonikidze, and also rehabilitated a number of Georgians headed by Orakhelashvili, who had been shot in the Yenukidze-Karakhan case of December 16, 1937.”

(R. Conquest (1961): p. 274).

The cases of Ordzhonikidze, the Orakhelashvilis, Yenukidze and Karakhan have been discussed in an earlier section.

One of the accused was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment, one to twenty-five years’ imprisonment, and the rest — including Rapava and Rukhadze — to death by shooting.

The Trial of Bagirov (1956)

In July 1953, after the ‘arrest’ of Beria, Mir Bagirov*, the Marxist-Leninist Secretary of the Central Committee of the Commnunist Party of Azerbaijan, was removed from his post and, shortly afterwards, arrested.

On 12-26 April 1956 Bagirov and five alleged “accomplices” were tried by the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court, sitting in Baku and presided over by Lieutenant-General A. A. Cheptsov for:

“high treason, the commission of acts of terrorism, and participation in a counter-revolutionary organisation.”

(‘Bakinsky Rabochy’, 27 May 1956, p. 2, in: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’, Volume 8, No. 21 (4 July 1956), p. 12).

Among other charges, it was alleged that

“. . . Bagirov and the other defendants were active in the intrigues that Beria and his accomplices conducted against Sergo Ordzhonikidze.”

(‘Bakinsky Rabochy’, 27 May 1956; p. 2, in: ibid.; p. 12).

The Ordzhonikidze case has been discussed in an earlier section.

The accused were all found guilty. Two of the defendants were sentenced to twenty-five years imprisonment, while three (including Bagirov) were sentenced to death by shooting.

The Bagirov “trial” was the last in the series of judicial murders of Marxist-Leninist leaders of the security forces.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

*ABAKUMOV, Viktor S., Soviet Marxist-Leninist security official and politician (1894-1954); head of counter-espionage organisation SMERSH (1942-45); Minister of State Security (1946-52); executed by revisionists (1954).

*ALLILUYEVA, Svetlana S., Stalin’s daughter. (1926- )

*ANTONOV, Aleksey I., Soviet revisionist military officer (1895-l962); Commander, Transcaucasia Military District (1949-54); 1st. Deputy Chief of Staff, and Chief of Staff, Warsaw Pact (1955-62).

*BAGIROV, Mir D, A., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1896-1956); 1st Secretary, Azerbaijan (1933-53); executed by revisionists (1956).

*BERIA, Lavrenty P., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1899-1953); USSR Commissar of Internal Affairs (1938-45); USSR Premier (1941-45); Deputy Chairman, USSR Defence Committee (1941-44); marshal (1945); USSR Minister of Internal Affairs and lst Deputy Premier (April-July 1953); executed by revisionists (1953).

*BIERUT, Boleslaw, Polish Marxist-Leninist politician (1892-1956); President (1947-52); General Secretary, Polish Workers’ Party (1948-54); Premier (1952-54); 1st Secretary, Polish United Workers’ Party (1954-56).

*BORTOLI, Georges, Moroccan-born French journalist and TV producer (1923-).

*BULGANIN, Nikolay A., Soviet revisionist politician (1895-1975); USSR Deputy Premier (1938-41); Minister of Armed Forces (1947); USSR Deputy Premier and Minister of Defence (1953-55); USSR Premier (1955-58).

*CONQUEST, Robert, British-born poet and political analyst specialising in the USSR (1917- ); senior research fellow, Hoover Institute (1977- ).

*DEKANOZOV, Vladimir G., Soviet Marxist-Leninist diplomat and politician (1898-1953); USSR Deputy Commissar of Internal Affairs (1939-41); Ambassador to Germany (1940-41); Georgian Minister of Internal Affairs (1953); executed by revisionists (l953).

*DERIABIN, Peter S., Russian-born American writer (1921- ); former officer in Soviet security forces; defected (1954).

*DEUTSCHER, Isaac, Polish-born British journalist and political analyst (190767).

*DZHAVAKHISHVILI, Givi D., Soviet revisionist geologist and politician (1912); Deputy Premier, Georgia (1953); Premier, Georgia (1953).

*DUCOLI, John, American teacher specialising in Transcaucasia (1922-

*FAIRBANKS, Charles H., junior, American political analyst (1944- ); associate professor of political science, Yale University (1979-81); member, Policy Planning Committee, US Dept. of State (1981- 82); research professor, Johns Hopkins University (1982-85); foreign policy adviser, Reagan Committee for Presidency (1980), Bush Committee for Presidency (1988).

*GOMULKA, Wladyslaw, Polish revisionist politician (1905-82); General Secretary, Polish Workers’ Party (1943-48); imprisoned for nationalism (1943-56); 1st Secretary, Polish United Workers’ Party (1966-70).

*GOTTWALD. Klement, Czechoslovak Marxist-Leninist politician (1896-1953); Premier (1946-48); President (1948-53).

*GOVOROV, Leonid A., Soviet revisionist military officer (1897-1955); Marshal (1944); Commander of National Air Defence Forces and USSR Deputy Minister of Armed Forces (1948-54); Commander-in-Chief of Air Defence Forces and USSR Deputy Minister of Defence (1954-55).

*GREY, Ian, New Zealand-born lawyer and historian (1918

*HOXHA, Enver, Albanian Marxist-Leninist leader (1908-85); General/First Secretary, CC, Communist Party of Albania/Party of Labour of Albania (1941-85);Premier and Foreign Minister (1944-54).

*IGNATIEV, Semyon D., Soviet revisionist politician (1908- ); USSR Minister of State Security (1951-53); Secretary, CC (March-April 1953); First Secretary, Bashkiria (1954- ).

*KAGANOVICH, Lazar M., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1893-1991); member, State Defence Committee (1941-45); USSR Minister of Building Materials Industry (l946-47); Ist Secretary, Ukraine (1947-53); USSR Deputy Premier (1953-55); USSR Minister of Building Materials Industry (1956-57).

*KAMINSKY, Grigory N., Soviet revisionist politician (1805-1938).

*KONEV, Ivan S, Soviet revisionist military officer -(1897-1973); marshal (1944); C-in-C, Ground Forces, and USSR Deputy Minister of Armed Forces (1946-50); Chief Inspector of Army (1950-51); Commander, Carpathian Military District and Commander-in-Chief, Ground Forces (1951-55); C-in-C, Warsaw Pact Forces and USSR Ist Deputy Minister of Defence (1956-60); Inspector-General at USSR Ministry of Defence (1960-73).

*KRUGLOV, Sergey, Soviet revisionist security official and politician (190777); USSR Minister of Internal Affairs (1946-March 1953, July 1953-56).

*LANG, David M., British historian (1924- ); Professor of Caucasian Studies, University of London (1964-84).

*LAQUEUR, Walter, German-born American journalist, historian and political analyst (1930- ); Director, Institute of Contemporary History (1964- )

Professor of Government, Georgetown University (1977- ); Chairman, International Research Council, Centre for Strategic and International Studies (1973- ).

*LEVCHENKO, Gordey, Soviet revisionist naval officer (1897-1981); admiral (1944); deputy Commissar of Navy and Commander of Baltic Fleet (1944-60); retired (1960).

*LEVTYSKY, Boris, Austrian-born political analyst (1915- ).

*MALENKOV, Georgi M., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1902-88); Member, State Defence Committee (1941-45); USSR Premier (1953-55); 1st Secretary, CPSU (1953); USSR Minister of Power Stations (1955-57).

*McNEAL, Robert H., American historian (1930- ); Associate Professor of History, University of Toronto (1964-69); Professor of History, University of Massachusetts (1969-).

*MELNIKOV, Leonid G., Soviet revisionist politician (1906- ); 1st Secretary, Ukraine (1949-53);

*MIKHOELS, Solomon (real name: VOVSI), Soviet revisionist actor and director (1890-1948); director of Moscow State Jewish Theatre (1929-48); Chairman, Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (1942-48); accused posthumously of espionage and terrorism (1953).

*MOLOTOV, Vyacheslav M., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1890-1986); USSR Premier (1930-41); USSR Commissar of Foreign Affairs (1939-46); USSR Minister of Foreign Affairs (1946-49, 1953-56); Member, State Defence Committee (1941-45); USSR Minister of State Control (1956-57); Ambassador to Mongolia (1957-60).

*MOSKALENKO, Kirill A., Soviet revisionist military officer (1900-85); commander, Moscow Anti-Aircraft Defence (1945-53); commander, Moscow Military District (1953-60); Marshal (1955); commander-in-chief, USSR Strategic Missile Forces and Deputy Minister’of Defence (1960-62); chief inspector, USSR Ministry of Defence (1962-66); USSR Deputy Minister of Defence (1966-83).

*MZHAVANADZE, Vasily P., Soviet revisionist military officer and politician (1902- ); Lieutenant-General (1944); Ist Secretary, Georgia (1953-72).

*NICOLAEVSKY, Boris I., Russian , born American political analyst (1887-1966).

*ORAKHELASHVILI, Ivan (Mamiya), Soviet revisionist politician (1881-1937).

*ORAKHELASHVILI, Maria P., Soviet revisionist politician (1887-1937).

*POSKREBYSHEV. Aleksandr N.. Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1891-1965):

Head, Special Secretariat. Central Committee. CPSU (1928-52).

*RUDENKO. Roman A.. Soviet revisionist jurist (1907-81): Chief Soviet

Prosecutor*. Nurember2 (1945-46): USSR Procurator-General (1953-81).

*SALISBURY. Harrison E., American Journalist (1908- ‘New York Times’

Moscow correspondent (1949-54).

*SCHERBAKOV. Aleksandr S.. Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician and military.

officer (1901-45): Secretary. CC (1938-44): Chief of Main Political Directorate. head of Soviet Information Bureau. Deputv Commissar of Defence (1942-45).

*SHTEMENKO. Sereev M.. Soviet revisionist military officer (1907- ): Chief of

General Staff and Deputy Minister of Armed Forces (1948-52): Chief of Staff and 1st Deputv C-in-C of Ground Forces (1962-64): USSR Deputy Chief of Staff (1964-68): general (1968): Chief of Staff. Warsaw Pact Forces (1968-90).

*STALIN. Vasilv J.. Stalin’s son (1921-62).

*STRONG. Anna L.. American journalist (1885-1970).

*TALBOTT. Strobe, American journalist (1946- ).

*ULAM. Adam B.. Polish-born American political analyst (1922- ): Professor

Government,. Harvard University (1959-79): Professor of History and Political Science. Harvard University (1979Director. Russian Research Centre. Harvard (1973-76. 1980- ).

*VASILEVSKY. Aleksandr M.. Soviet revisionist military officer (1895-1977):

Chief of General Staff. lst Deputy Minister of Defence (1946-49): USSR Minister of Armed Forces (1949-53): USSR Deputy Minister of Defence (1953-57).

*VINOGRADOV. Vladimir N.. Soviet revisionist medical specialist (1882-1964).

*VOLKOGONOV. Dmitry. Soviet revisionist historian’ (1928- ): on staff of Main

Political Directorate. Red Armv (1970-85): Director. Institute of Militarv Historv (1985- ).

*ZAPOTOCKY. Antonin, Polish revisionist politician (1884-1957): Deputy Premier

(1945-48): Premier (1948-53): President (1953-57).

*ZHDANOV. Andrev A.. Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1896-1948): CPSU

Secretarv (1934-48): CPSU Secretary. Leningrad (1934-48): murdered by revisionists (1948).

*ZHUKOV. Georei K.. Soviet revisionist military officer (1896-1974): Marshal

(1943): commander-in-chief. Soviet occupation forces in Germany (194546): USSR Minister of Defence (1955-57): Member. Presidium of CC. CPSU (1957).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alliluyeva, S. (1967): ‘Twenty Letters to a Friend’; London; lq67.

Alliluyeva, S. (1969): ‘Only One Year’; London; 1969.

Bortoli, G.: ‘The Death of Stalin’; London; 1973.

Carre’re d’Encausse, H.: ‘Stalin: Order through Terror;’; London; 1981.

Conquest, R. (1961): ‘Power and Policy in the USSR: The Study of Soviet Dvnastics’; London; 1961.

Conquest, R. (1971): ‘The Great Terror’; Harmondworth; 1971.

Deriabin, P.: ‘Watchdogs of Terror: Russian Bodyguards from the Tsars to the Commissars’; n.p. (USA); 1984.

Deriabin, P. & Gibney, F.: ‘The Secret World’; New York; 1959.

Deutscher, I.: ‘Stalin: A Political Biography’; Harmondsworth; 1968.

Ducoli, J.: ‘The Georgian Purges (1951-53)’, in: ‘Caucasian Review’, Volume 6 (1958).

Fairbanks, C. H., junior: ‘National Cadres as a Force in the Soviet System: The Evidence of Beria’s Career: 1949-53’, in: Azrael, J. R. (Ed.): ‘Soviet Nationality Policies and Practices’; New York; 1978.

Grey, I.: ‘Stalin: Man of History’; London; 1979.

Hoxha, E. (1984): ‘The Khrushchevites’; Tirana; 1984.

Hoxha, E. (1979): ‘With Stalin: Memoirs’; Tirana; 1979.

Khrushchev, N. S. (1956): Secret Speech to the 20th Congress of the CPSU, in: Russian Institute, Columbia University (Ed.): ‘The Anti-Stalin Campaign and International Communism: A Selection of Documents’; New York; 1956.

Khrushchev, N. S. (1971): ‘Khrushchev Remembers’, Volume 1; London; 1971.

Lang, D. M.: ‘A Modern History of Georgia’; London; 1962.

Laqueur, W.: ‘Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations’; London; 19qO.

Levytsky, B.: ‘The Uses of Terror: The Soviet Secret Service: 1917-1970’; London; 1971.

Lewis, J. & Whitehead, P.: ‘Stalin: A Time for Judgement’; London; 1990.

McNeal, R. H.: ‘Stalin: Man and Ruler’; Basingstoke; 1988.

Nicolaevsky, B.: ‘Power and the Soviet Elite’; New York; 1965.

Pistrak, L.: ‘The Grand Tactician: Khrushchev’s Rise to Power’;London; 1961.

Rapoport, Y.: ‘The Doctors’ Plot: Stalin’s Last Crime’; London; 1901.

Rosenfeldt, N. E.: ‘Knowledge and Power: The Role of Stalin’s Chancellery in the Soviet System of Government’; Copenhagen; 1978.

Salisbury, H. E.: ‘Stalin’s Russia and After’; London; 1955.

Suny, R. G.: ‘The Making of the Georgian Nation’, London; 1989.

Ulam. A.B.: ‘Stalin : The Man and His Era’; London; 1989.

Volkogonov, D.: ‘Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy’; London; 1091. Wolin, S. & Slusser, R.: ‘The Soviet Secret Police’; London; 1957.

: ‘Bakinsky Rabochy’.

: ‘Current Digest of the Soviet Press’.

: ‘Izvestia’ (News).

: ‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’.

: ‘New York Times’, New York.

: ‘Pravda’ (Truth).

: ‘Shorter Oxford English Dictionary’; Oxford; 1977.

: ‘Zarya Vostoka’.

Source

Was Stalin’s View on Art Different from that of Marx and Engels?

This article was published by Alliance (Marxist-Leninist) as part of the publication Alliance, issue #53, “Aesthetics and Revolution – Essays and Talks.”

A talk given to commemorate Bill Bland at Conway Hall, London, September 2001

Preamble

This is not the occasion to dwell on Bill’s enormous contributions to the Marxist-Leninist movement in both theory and practice. That will be history to do. This evening, is to celebrate Bill as a man.

It is well known that he was passionate about the arts, and that he took very seriously, Stalin’s dictum that “art was the engineer of the human soul”. I thought it fitting therefore, to emulate Bill’s approach when answering difficult questions surrounding Stalin. It is even more fitting to attempt this upon a subject he was passionate about.

I regret that this was not done by Bill himself, for several reasons. But one of these is that to answer the question posed, will be impossible for me to do as well as Bill would have done.

Introduction

Critics and pundits continue to teach incessantly how ‘bad’ art was in Stalin’s lifetime in the Soviet Union. It is commonly asserted that Stalin’s view of art was only for self-glorification or for propaganda.

For example, the popular art historian, Robert Hughes writes this in “Time” in 1994: [Italics-Editor’s emphasis]:

“Throughout his rule, Stalin had sponsored a form of state art officially known as Socialist Realism. Geared to a naive, not to say brutish, mass public barely literate in artistic matters, Soviet Socialist Realism was the most coarsely idealistic kind of art ever foisted on a modern audience – though Capitalist Realism, the never-never land of desire created by American advertising, runs it a close second…As a young man Stalin had been snubbed by the Russian intellectual elite. His revenge was to grind their faces in the ice of miracle, mystery and authority, to make culture into a form of ventriloquism from on high. Socialist Realism was a religious art celebrating the transcendent power of communist ideology, the impending heaven of world socialism and the godlike benignity of its father, Lenin’s successor, Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, the man of steel. And like the traditional icons of Christ and the saints it replaced, the stuff was omnipresent. No square or schoolroom in Russia lacked its image of Stalin pointing to the future…

What strikes a modern non-Russian viewer most is Socialist Realism’s unabashed fantasy. Realism in Stalinist terms did not mean painting things as they were or even as they might be: the inevitability of Socialist progress erased that conditional “might,” along with the gap between present and future.

That which will be already is, under the world-sustaining gaze of Comrade Stalin. Ideology ascribed to Stalin the actual role of God, the creation of reality itself…

One sees how Socialist Realism transcends history, with Stalin (who in 1917 was the editor of Pravda but had no role in planning the October Revolution) being painted into the very heart of the first Bolshevik conclaves cheek by jowl with Lenin. One sees Stalin protecting the motherland from the Kremlin ramparts, towering over generals or members of the Politburo who in biological life were considerably taller than he. There he is conducting the defense of Stalingrad (though in fact he prudently avoided going anywhere near a battle), encouraging collective farmers and listening to Maxim Gorky read.

But most of all he is busy being himself: God. Fyodor Shurpin’s Morning of Our Motherland, 1946-48, is a portrait of Stalin in the literal form of the Pantocrator, contemplating a new world he has brought into being. He wears a white coat of radiant purity and is bathed in the light of an early spring morning. Behind him stretch the green pastures of a transfigured Russia, Poussin (as it were) with tractors and electricity pylons, and shy plumes of smoke rising to greet the socialist dawn from far-off factories.”

“Icons Of Stalinism Soviet Socialist Realism Portrayed A Godlike Maximum Leader Reigning Over A Communist Heaven” By Robert Hughes. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/archive/1994/940124/940124.art.html

But Stalin saw Art as being: “the engineer of the human soul.” But then could Stalin not distinguish between propaganda and art? Was Stalin only interested in Art for the purpose of his own glorification?

This would be quite inconsistent with what we know of Stalin’s own views, which were first highlighted by Bill Bland. Stalin detested the Cult of Personality and recognised that it was being used by enemies to attack him (See for example, “Stalin Myths & Realities”; at http://ml-review.ca/aml/STALIN-TXT/WBBSTALINMYTHSPARIS1999.html).

Nonetheless, the prevalent view is that Stalin was a vain-glorious dictator – in the arts as well as all other spheres of life. It is no wonder that any hint of alternative viewpoint is suppressed. So for example the influential New York Review of Books (NYRB), published Isiah Berlin’s article, that was originally written in the 1930’s for the British secret service on the state of arts under Stalin.

Berlin’s article is very convenient for conventional wisdom in that it is generally vituperative of the USSR. But the article applauded in general, the results of the state policies on art. This was most inconvenient for the NYRB. To retain even a tiny fragment that did support the USSR arts policy was anathema. Which fragment was correspondingly cut. This read:

“On the other side it must be said that the childlike eagerness and enthusiasm of Soviet readers and Soviet theatrical audiences is probably without parallel in the world. The existence of State-subsidised theatres and opera, as well as of regional publishing houses, throughout the Soviet Union is not merely a part of a bureaucratic plan, but responds to a very genuine and insufficiently satisfied popular demand. “

Isiah Berlin: ‘The Arts in Russia under Stalin’ ; [Passage Omitted From the New York Review of Books, 19 October 2000, p. 60] at: http://www.wolfson.ox.ac.uk/berlin/vl/published_works/artscut.htm

Despite the epithet “childlike” – this perspective of a Soviet arts policy that stemmed from and spoke to the masses – was too uncomfortable for the NYRB.

Thus the general view is propagated, that in contrast to Marx and Engels, Stalin was a ‘boor’ – too uncivilized and uninterested to see beyond a propagandist art that glorified him. It is generally argued even by bourgeois critics, that Marx and Engels were men of taste who would not have inflicted “Socialist Realism” on the world. Of course it is well known how erudite Marx and Engels were, and this has been extensively catalogued (See SS Prawer: “Karl marx and World Literature”; Oxford 1978).

Even the bourgeoisie now acknowledge this.

But Marx and Engels did not live in an era when it was possible to build a Socialist state. For that reason, and for the reason that they are now long dead, they are ‘spared’ too much abuse, while more recent enemies of the bourgeoisie like Stalin who could build socialism, are vituperated.

We will ask tonight:

“How far apart were Marx and Engels from Stalin, concerning their views on the arts?”

In general the views of Stalin on the arts have been represented well by Zhdanov in his lectures and writings on art. [See Bland’s own article on “Stalin and the Arts” in this issue of Alliance 53 [At http://ml-review.ca/aml/AllianceIssues/A2004/STALINART.html].

This is not here, an examination of the Ultra-leftist deviations in the arts such as Proletkult [See Bland cited before & Alliance 7 at http://ml-review.ca/aml/AllianceIssues/ALLIANCE7COMMUNISTACADEMY.html] and AKhRR (The Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia)

Instead, I propose here to examine primarily, whether Stalin’s views substantially varied from those of Marx and Engels.

We will examine FIVE specific questions:

1) How did Marx and Engels view the inter-relationship of the mode of production & society to art ?

2) What did Marx and Engels view as making for ‘good art’?

3) How did Marx and Engels view art that frankly proclaimed the workers cause?

4) What were the favourite pictures of Marx, Engels and Stalin?

5) Was there good art produced in the USSR up to 1953?

State Art, Propaganda and Caricature

But first we should define certain recurrent artistic terms. 

When one sees pictures like this one by Freidin and entitled “Glory To Stalin”; it does appear to be celebrating a state event in the USSR. This could be thought of as being propaganda because it depicts Stalin favourably.

glory2stalin50GFreidin

Or at the very least, it may be doubted whether this is “great art.”

But it is in fact a form of art well recognised in every society. It is what we will here call, an “Art of State”; one that helps to form the “myths” and “self-images” of a state.

Such imagery and icons are necessary to each and every state, and indeed ubiquitous in every state.

It would be quite wrong to even suggest that the USSR was unique in having such art.

For instance, this painting, by  Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, American, (1816-1868) is entitled “George Washington Crossing the Delaware”, 1851 (378.5 x 647.7 cm ,  is in the  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Emanuel_Leutze_(American,_Schwäbisch_Gmünd_1816–1868_Washington,_D.C.)_-_Washington_Crossing_the_Delaware_-_Google_Art_Project

It is a central iconic image that depicts George Washington’s heroic victories over the English colonists in the American War of Independence.

Whether Washington in these battles actually struck such poses or was quite as well dressed and clean is immaterial to the purpose of the artist.

It is meant to focus a nation’s gaze on one of its formers and heroes.

Copley

Similarly, the painting in the Tate Gallery Of  “The Death of Major Peirson, 6 January 1781” by John Singleton Copley (1783) was iconic for its time, in England.

It showed a battle between English and French troop in Jersy (the Channel Islands) in a conflict sparked by the American Revolutionary Wars. Peirson’s death for the British flag was revenged by his personal manservant – whose name is not honoured in the title fo the painting.

Or even more well known, is the statue of Boadicea on the banks of the Thames just below the Houses of Parliament.

Boadicea

Propaganda art is at a different level from “State Art” in our view, and is more clearly designed for a day to day persuasion. Propaganda art, in general, carries a negative overtone. However, such art may be both very well done and may serve an extremely useful function. Such is the case for the posters seen here, from the USSR.

Much of the poster art from the USSR, is nowadays recognised as being both technically, but artistically as well, very fine, and is collected for huge amounts of money.

SaveBooks1919Kupreyanov

The caption is “Save Books”; by Kupreyanov

MayakovskyNoBureacracy1921

The caption is “Anti-bureaucracy” by Mayakovsky

DimitriMoorHelp1921

The caption is “Help!” (During the imperislist blockade); by Dimitri Moor.

Caricature should be distinguished from propaganda, and perhaps its’ hallmark is that of an extreme exaggeration of features.

A master of this was Honore Daumier, who here, lampooned the King of France as never-endingly receiving into his vast mouth the people’s wealth:

GargantuaDaumier1808

It is quite true that some posters may be less useful, and sub-serve a true ‘propagandist’ purpose. Such for example are the numerous images of J.V.Stalin, and of V.I.Lenin in these:

Bizukhov’s “Stalin and the Railway”

BizukovStalinRail1932

“Lenin and Stalin”; Anonymous, 1948

LeninStalinAnon1948

But, it should be again reiterated that Stalin is clearly on record as abhorring and trying to prevent the Cult of Personality.

I strongly doubt postes such as these were produced at the behest of Stalin, and his stated preferences in art (See below) are a strong indication of this.

But stronger evidence, comes from the history of the USSR where Stalin at many points attempted to obstruct a Cult of the Personality arising. 

Summary:
I have argued that all States have an ‘official’ art that serves as a vehicle to reinforce national images.

This was not unique to the USSR.

I have also argued that propaganda and caricature can both be valuable media for different progressive purposes.

(1) The Views of Marx and Engels on Art in Relation to Society

The Inter-relation of Art and the Society in which it is produced

As all who are interested in art will know, the origins of art lie very early on in man’s history:

“Anatomically modern humans had existed for at least the previous 50,000 years, but 50,000 years ago there appear the first signs of art, of versified tools for specific functions, and other clues to enhanced culture.”;

Johnson D & Edgar B: “From Lucy to Language”; New York; 1996; p. 52; .

“If art is an attempt to imitate nature, our Upper Paleolithic ancestors were master artists. It is impossible to visit a cave like Lascaux in south western France or Altamira in Northern Spain and not be moved by the images of horses, bison, deer, and other prehistoric animals. Art painted on the ancient cave walls. Reaching across eons of time, these lifelike yet hauntingly impressionistic paintings immediately connect us with the artists who rendered their world on cave walls nearly 20,000 years ago. When the painted cave of Altamira first came to the attention of researchers, in 1880, the immediate reaction was that such sophisticated and well-executed paintings could not have been made by prehistoric people.”

Johnson D & Edgar B: “From Lucy to Language”; New York; 1996; p. 53.

What more can connect ancient cave art than the common themes of food animals and hunting?

Lascaux

Early discoveries of such cave paintings were initially controversial. Pundits instantly dismissed them as “too sophisticated” to have been drawn by primitive men and women. But it is interesting that Engels did not share the general skepticism of his age, and he also accurately located the first pieces of art as being a very early part of  mankind’s history.

“By the combined functioning of hand, speech organs and brain, not only in each individual but also in society, men became capable of executing more and more complicated operations, and were able to set themselves, and achieve, higher and higher aims. The work of each generation itself became different, more perfect and more diversified. Agriculture was added to hunting and cattle raising; then came spinning, weaving, metalworking, pottery and navigation. Along with trade and industry, art and science finally appeared. Tribes developed into nations and states. Law and politics arose, and with them that fantastic reflection of human things in the human mind — religion.”

‘The Part Played By Labour In The Transition From Ape To Man’ By Frederick Engels;
http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1876hand/index.htm

Elsewhere Engels relates that the essential development needed to enable the advent of Art, was that the hand became free of a need for locomotion:

“At first, therefore, the operations for which our ancestors gradually learned to adapt their hands during the many thousands of years of transition from ape to man can only have been very simple ones. The lowest savages, even those in whom presumably a regression to a more animal-like condition with a simultaneous physical degeneration occurred, are nevertheless far superior to these transitional beings. Before the first flint was fashioned into a knife by the human hand, a period of time must have elapsed in comparison with which the historical period known to us appears insignificant. But the decisive step was taken: the hand had become free and could henceforth attain ever newer skills, and the greater flexibility thus acquired was transmitted and increased from generation to generation.

Thus the hand is not only the organ of labour, it is also the product of labour. Only through labour, through constant adaptation to new operations, through inheritance of the special development thus acquired of muscles, ligaments and, over longer periods of time, bones as well, and by the ever renewed use of this inherited refinement in new, increasingly complicated operations, has the human hand attained that high degree of perfection that has enabled it to conjure into being the paintings of a Raphael, the statues of a Thorwaldsen, the music of a Paganini. “

Frederick Engels: “The Part Played By Labour In The Transition From Ape To Man”;
in “Dialectics of Nature”: ; http://www.marx2mao.org//M&E/PPL76.html

Yet, if the physical anatomy of hands that produce art have not substantially changed over historical time, art certainly has.  

What explains the emergence of paintings of a Raphael from the anatomically similar hands that created the art of the Lascaux Paleolithic hand?

What makes the art of one historical period different from that of another period? Marx and Engels recognised that it was the “relations of production.

These will form the “economic structure of society”; which in turn explains all social life – “the social, political and intellectual life-process in general.” When the underlying economic conditions changes, the whole of society undergoes changes. But Marx nonetheless points out that in “the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophic, in short, ideological, forms” – the relation is not as exact as in the “material transformation of the economic conditions of production.” This early and central passage from Marx’s writings is as follows:

“In the social production of their existence, men enter into definite, necessary relations, which are independent of their will, namely, relations of production corresponding to a determinate stage of development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation on which there arises a legal and political superstructure and to which there correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political and intellectual life-process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but on the contrary it is their social being that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or — what is merely a legal expression for the same thing — with the property relations within the framework of which they have hitherto operated. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. At that point an era of social revolution begins. With the change in the economic foundation the whole immense superstructure is more slowly or more rapidly transformed. In considering such transformations it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophic, in short, ideological, forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out. Just as one does not judge an individual by what he thinks about himself, so one cannot judge such an epoch of transformation by its consciousness, but, on the contrary, this consciousness must be explained from the contradictions of material life, from the existing conflict between the social forces of production and the relations of production.”

Karl Marx: “Preface And Introduction To A Contribution To The Critique Of Political Economy”; 1844;  
http://www.marx2mao.org//M&E/PI.html
(p3-4)

In so far as the artistic object itself goes (object d’art)  Marx identifies this product as resulting from a specific form of production, centred on “beauty” and its’ appreciation. But this form of production cannot be analysed separately from analyses of a more general production. In early [‘original’] production, the overall state of the finished product is ‘primitively crude’. However, artistic production is part of the overall production in a society.

And its production itself creates a “public with artistic taste” :

“So production creates the consumer.  

3) Production not only provides the material for a need, but it also provides a need for the material. When consumption emerges from its initial natural crudity and immediacy — and its remaining in that state would itself be the result of production being stuck in a state of natural crudity — it itself is mediated as an urge by the object. The need it feels for the object is created by perception of the latter. Like every other product an objet d’art creates a public with artistic taste and a capacity to enjoy beauty. Production accordingly produces not only an object for the subject, but also a subject for the object.”

Karl Marx: “A Contribution To The Critique Of Political Economy”; Appendix I ; I. Production, Consumption, Distribution, Exchange (Circulation). http://www.marx2mao.org//M&E/PI.html (pages 20, 21).

Moreover, Marx points out that in the era of capital, even art takes place within a production work place in cooperation between a small group of workers who have divided up their labour:

“Sancho … thinks that “no one can compose your music for you, complete the sketches for your paintings. No one can do Raphael’s works for him.” Sancho could surely have known, however, that it was not Mozart himself, but someone else who composed the greater part of Mozart’s Requiem and finished it,”‘ and that Raphael himself completed “only an insignificant part of his own frescoes.

[Sancho].. imagines that the so-called “organisers of labour” wanted to organise the entire activity of each individual, and yet it is precisely they who distinguish between directly productive labour, which has to be organised, and labour which is not directly productive. In regard to the latter, however, it was not their view, as Sancho imagines, that each should do the work of Raphael, but that anyone in whom there is a potential Raphael should be able to develop without hindrance. Sancho imagines that Raphael produced his pictures independently of the division of labour that existed in Rome at the time. If he were to compare Raphael with Leonardo da Vinci and Titian, he would see how greatly Raphael’s works of art depended on the flourishing of Rome at that time, which occurred under Florentine influence, while the works of Leonardo depended on the state of things in Florence, and the works of Titian, at a later period, depended on the totally different development of Venice. Raphael as much as any other artist was determined by the technical advances in art made before him, by the organisation of society and the division of labour in his locality, and, finally, by the division of labour in all the countries with which his locality had intercourse. Whether an individual like Raphael succeeds in developing his talent depends wholly on demand, which in turn depends on the division of labour and the conditions of human culture resulting from it.”

The German Ideology. The Leipzig Council. III. Saint Max 393

Two related matters are often raised as a general criticism of these notions as they are applied to art:  

Firstly is the relationship between the economic times and the art produced an absolute relationship?

Engels made clear that anyone who insisted that “the economic factor is the only determining” factor for any particular aspect of life, was not a Marxist. The subtleties of many other factors would often intervene in an “endless host of accidents,” to make a mechanical and simple equation linking economics to each manifestation of real life – silly. Nonetheless, Engels reiterates that economics is the “ultimately determining factor”:

“According to the materialist conception of history, the ultimately determining factor in history is the production and reproduction of real life. Neither Marx nor I have ever asserted more than this. Hence if somebody twists this into saying that the economic factor is the only determining one, he transforms that expression into a meaningless, abstract, absurd phrase. The economic situation is the basis, but the various elements of the superstructure-political forms of the class struggle and its results, such as constitutions established by the victorious class after a successful battle, etc, juridical forms, and especially the reflections of all these real struggles in the brains of the participants, political legal, philosophical theories, religious views and their further development into systems of dogmas-also exercise their influence upon the course of the historical struggles and in many cases determine their form in particular. There is an interaction of all these elements in which, amid all the endless host of accidents (that is of things and events whose inner interconnection is so remote or so impossible of proof that we can regard it as non-existent and neglect it) the economic movement is finally bound to assert itself. Otherwise the application of the theory to any period of history would be easier that the solution of a simple equation of the first degree.”

Engels to Joseph Bloch; September 21-22, 1980. Marx and Engels; in Collected Works; 

In addition to this, Marx points out that there is an “unequal development” in both material production and in art. Marx however points out that even in spite of this “unevenness,” there are material and rational explanations  – provided the subject is explored in enough detail. He takes as an example the case of ancient Greek art – that could only arise upon the basis of a Greek mythology. Yet the level of production in Greece a that time was not as high as the “peak” of Greek art might otherwise suggest: 

6. The unequal development of material production and, eg that of art. The concept of progress is on the whole not to be understood in an abstract form. Modern art etc. This disproportion is not as important and difficult to grasp as within concrete social relations e.g. in education. Relations of the United Sates to Europe. However , the really difficult point to be discussed here is how the relations of production as legal relations take part in this uneven development. For example the relation of Roman civil law (this applies in smaller measure to criminal and constitutional law) to modern production. …..

As regards art it is well known that some of its peaks by no means correspond to the general development of society; nor do they therefore to the material substructure, the skeleton as it were of the its organisation. For example, the Greeks compared with modern [nations], or else Shakespeare. It is even acknowledged that certain branches of art, e.g. the epos, can no longer be produced in other epoch making classic form after artistic production as such has begun; in other words that certain important creations within the compass of art are only possible at an early stage in the development of art. If this is the case with regard to certain branches of art within the sphere of art itself, it is not so remarkable that this should also be the case with regard to the entire sphere of art and its relation to the general development of society. The difficulty lies only in the general formulation of these contradiction. As soon as they are reduced to specific questions, they are already explained.

Let us take for example the relation of Greek art, and that of Shakespeare, to the present time. We know that Greek mythology is not only the arsenal of Greek art but also its basis. Is the conception of nature and of socials relations, which underlies Greek imagination and therefore Greek [art] possible when there are self-acting mules, railways, locomotives and electric telegraphs? What is a Vulcan compared with Roberts & Co; Jupiter compared with the lightning conductor, and Hermes compared with the Credit Mobilier? All mythology subdues, controls and fashions the forces of nature in the imagination and through imagination; it disappears therefore when real control over those forces is established… Greek art presupposes Greek mythology, in other words that natural and socials phenomenon are already assimilated in an unintentionally artistic manner by the imagination of the people… Egyptian mythology could never become the basis of or give rise to Greek art… Is Achilles possible when powder and shot have been invented? And is the Iliad possible at all when the printing press and even printing machines exist?”

Marx “Introduction” to Economic Manuscripts of 1857-58; in “A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy” [“The Grundrisse”]; in Collected Works; Volume 28; Moscow; 1986 p.46-47

Secondly, why does art of an earlier era resonate with us?

After all, if art is “of its’ time” – of what consequence should it be to humans many generations later? Marx also addresses this problem, in the same Introduction to Political Economy cited above, where he so memorably compares Hermes with the Credit Mobilier:

“But the difficulty we are confronted with is not, however, that of understanding how Greek art and epic poetry are associated with certain forms of social development. The difficulty is that still five us aesthetic pleasure and are in certain respects regarded as a standard and unattainable ideal. An adult cannot become a child again, or he becomes childish. But does the naiveté of the child not give him pleasure, and does he not himself endeavour to reproduce the child’s veracity on a higher level? Does not the child in every epoch represent the character of the period in its natural veracity? Why should not the historical childhood of humanity, where it attained its most beautiful form, exert an eternal charm because it is stage that will never recur? There are rude children and precious children. Many of the ancient peoples belong to this category. The Greeks were normal children. The charm their art has for us does not conflict with the immature stage of the society in which it originated. On the contrary it charm is a consequence of this and is inseparably linked with the fact that the immature socials conditions which gave rise, and which alone could give rise, to this art cannot recur.”

Marx “Introduction” to Economic Manuscripts of 1857-58; in “A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy”; [“The Grundrisse”] in Collected Works. volume 28; Ibid; p. 47-48.

Neither Stalin nor Lenin devoted too much time to a fully integrated view of art and art history. They had to build socialism. Lenin confessed to Anatol Lunarchasky that art was fascinating but that it would take a lifetime to sort out the innumerable problems posed in its history, but that he would have liked to do so.

Even so, it is very easy to demonstrate that Stalin agrees with these fundamental elements of the Marxist world view.

These views expressed summarise the general analysis known as Historical Materialism. Stalin wrote “Dialectical and Historical Materialism,” that forms a chapter in the famous “History of the CPSU(B).” This piece continues to be excoriated by many who see it as “reductionism” and an “over-simplification” of Marx and Engels. Marxist-Leninists however accept that it is a very cogent and clear explanation of Marx’s views:

“Hence, the source of formation of the spiritual life of society, the origin of social ideas, social theories, political views and political institutions, should not be sought for in the ideas, theories, views and political institutions themselves, but in the conditions of the material life of society, in social being, of which these ideas, theories, views, etc., are the reflection. Hence, if in different periods of the history of society different social ideas, theories, views and political institutions are to be observed; if under the slave system we encounter certain social ideas, theories, views and political institutions, under feudalism others, and under capitalism others still, this is not to be explained by the “nature,” the “properties” of the ideas, theories, views and political institutions themselves but by the different conditions of the material life of society at different periods of social development.

Whatever is the being of a society, whatever are the conditions of material life of a society, such are the ideas, theories, political views and political institutions of that society. In this connection, Marx says: 

“It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.” (Marx, Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 269.)”

J. V. Stalin: “Dialectical And Historical Materialism”: September 1938; In “History of the CPSU(B)”; Moscow 1939; p.115; Or in “Problems of Leninism”; Moscow; 1954; p.725. OR at: http://www.marx2mao.org//Stalin/DHM38.html

If this general postulate of a link between modes of societal production and thought is true, are there at least some examples in art, that they specified? Fortunately as already pointed out in the fragments of Marx and Engels, there are, and we will point out some further examples.

SUMMARY: Marx, Engels and Stalin believed that the mode of production determined human consciousness. This final determinant was qualified by a complex interaction with society, but nonetheless was the starting point for an evaluation of changes in society. This determinant even determined human appreciation of “beauty.”

(2) Did Marx and Engels give us Clues as to what makes for “Good Art?”

Fortunately for us, despite the lack of any single unifying statement, both Marx and Engels were so interested in art that they left many useful analyses on art. At least some of their views are able to be condensed into the statements below. 

(i) Art must be “true” to life: The depiction artistically, of truth must be a complete one – Tomorrow’s world as well as today’s.

Art should express not only what is an apparent and obvious truth now, but also what is a latent and developing truth. This may then take a stance that projects from the world of today into the world of tomorrow.

Not only should the truth be given in all its’ aspects, but in addition true events should be presented so that it can be clear why they have become a reality. These aspects can be seen in the letter (extant only in a draft form now) that Engels sent to Margaret Harkness whose novel “City Girl”  had been sent to me:

“[Draft] [London, beginning of April 1888]  
Dear Miss Harkness, 

I thank you very much for sending me your City Girl. through Messrs. Vizetelly. I have read it with the greatest pleasure and avidity. It is indeed, as my friend Eichhoff your translator calls it, ein k1eines Kunstwerk [Original Footnote A small work of art]; to which he adds, what will be satisfactory to you, that consequently his translation must be all but literal, as any omission or attempted manipulation could only destroy part of the original’s value.  

What strikes me most in your tale besides its realistic truth is that it exhibits the courage of the true artist. Not only in the way you treat the Salvation Army, in the teeth of supercilious respectability, which respectability will perhaps learn from your tale, for the first time, why the Salvation Army has such a hold on the popular masses. But chiefly in the plain unvarnished manner in which you make the old, old story, the proletarian girl seduced by a middle-class man, the pivot of the whole book. Mediocrity would have felt bound to hide the, to it, commonplace character of the plot under heaps of artificial complications and adornments, and yet would not have got rid of the fate of being found out. You felt you could afford to tell an old story, because you could make it a new one by simply telling it truly.

Your Mr. Arthur Grant is a masterpiece. 
If I have anything to criticise, it would be that perhaps, after all, the tale is not quite realistic enough. Realism, to my mind, implies, besides truth of detail, the truth in reproduction of typical characters under typical circumstances. Now your characters are typical enough, as far as they go; but the circumstances which surround them and make them act, are not perhaps equally so. In the City Girl the working class figures as a passive mass, unable to help itself and not even showing (making) any attempt at striving to help itself. 

All attempts to drag it out of its torpid misery come from without, from above. Now if this was a correct description about 1800 or 1810, in the days of Saint-Simon and Robert Owen, it cannot appear so in 1887 to a man who for nearly fifty years has had the honour of sharing in most of the fights of the militant proletariat. The rebellious reaction of the working class against the oppressive medium which surrounds them, their attempts – convulsive, half conscious or conscious-at recovering their status as human beings, belong to history and must therefore lay claim to a place in the domain of realism.” 

Letter to Margaret Harkness; Engels April 1888; Marx and Engels Selected Correspondence, Moscow; 1975; p.379-81. 
at: http://ml-review.ca/aml/SocialistArt/Final-ME_LASSALLE.htm

(ii) Characterisation must be accurate and represent both an individual and the background of that person – becoming a “type.”

Engels thought that it was important to depict not only a generic “type” in a character, but that the “type” should at the same time be sufficently realistic as to be recognisable as a true single “personality.”

“I have now also read Die Alten und die Neuen [The Old Ones and the New], [Original Footnote: A novel by Minna Kautsky] for which I sincerely thank you. The life of the salt-mine workers is described with as masterly a pen as were the portraits of the peasants in Stefan. [Original Footnote: Stefan von Grillenhof was the first novel written by Minna Kautsky……. the characters exhibit the sharp individualisation. so customary in your work. Each of them is a type but at the same time also a definite individual, a “Dieser,” [Original Footnote “This one”] as old Hegel would say, and that is how it should be.”

Engels To Minna Kautsky, November 2th 1885; From “Marx & Engels: On Literature & Art”; Moscow; 1976; p.87-89; London, November 26, 1885;
at: http://ml-review.ca/aml/SocialistArt/Final-ME_LASSALLE.htm

It should also reflect the future reality. See earlier quote from Engels.

But to do this in art, is very different from having a simple “cut-out” propagandist “formula.”

(iii) The stylistic presentation of the art must be at the highest level in order to allow the content to come out the clearest.

Numerous citations can be given of Marx and Engels insistence on achieving the highest level of professional stylistic presentation of art. It should not be forgotten that both Marx and Engels had at an early stage considered literature and poetry as a career and had both rejected this path – at least in part because they recognised their own limitations. 

A good illustration of Marx’s view that it is necessary to strike the right balance between form and content is in a letter to Ferdinand Lassalle, where Marx  critiques Lassalle’s play “Franz von Sickingen”: 

“London, April 19, 1859.
Marx To Ferdinand Lassalle, on his drama Franz von Sickingen

I am now coming to Franz von Sickingen. [Original Footnote: A Drama by Lassalle-Ed]

First of all, I must praise the composition and action, and that is more than can be said of any other modern German drama. In the second instance, leaving aside the purely critical attitude to this work, it greatly excited me on first reading and it will therefore produce this effect in a still higher degree on readers who are governed more by their feelings. And this is a second and very important aspect.

Now the other side of the medal: First -this is a purely formal matter – since you have written it in verse, you might have polished up your iambs with a bit more artistry.

But however much professional poets may be shocked by such carelessness, I consider it on the whole as an advantage, since our brood of epigonous poets have nothing left but formal polish.”

Marx To Ferdinand Lassalle; Problems Of Revolutionary Tragedy: Marx To Ferdinand Lassalle On His Drama Franz Von Sickingen Transcribed By Alliance From: “Marx And Engels On Literature And Art”; Moscow; 1976.
at http://ml-review.ca/aml/SocialistArt/Final-ME_LASSALLE.htm

Summary

Those creative geniuses Marx and Engels therefore recognised a core of aesthetic principles. As can be readily appreciated by a comparison against either Zhdanov’s writings, or of the “Theses of Art,” from the Marxist Leninist Organisation Britain, drafted by Bland, the views of Marx and Engels are very similar to those enunciated by the proponents of what came to be called Socialist Realism.

(3) Should Art be “Committed?”

Whether art should be committed or not – is at the centre of the debate between pure aesthetes (“Art for Art’s Sake”) and those who argue that art has a purpose. But committed art might not art that “wears its’ heart on its sleeve.” Committed art, might be better if it does not fire the viewer’s eye with a blunderbuss. This might be another distinction between high art and propaganda art. In general, we will argue that Marx and Engels both took this line of thought. 

Thus Engels argues to Mina Kautsky, that while art “with a purpose” can well be great art (Such as that of Aeschylus, Schiller, Dante, Cervantes etc), it is not necessary to “serve the reader on a platter the future historical resolution.”

“The novel itself reveals the origins of this shortcoming. You obviously felt a desire to take a public stand in your book, to testify to your convictions before the entire world. This has now been done; it is a stage you have passed through and need not repeat in this form. I am by no means opposed to partisan poetry as such. Both Aeschylus, the father of tragedy, and Aristophanes, the father of comedy, were highly partisan poets, Dante and Cervantes were so no less, and the best thing that can be said about Schiller’s Kabale und Liebe is that it represents the first German political problem drama. The modern Russians and Norwegians, who produce excellent novels, all write with a purpose. I think however that the purpose must become manifest from the situation and the action themselves, without being expressly pointed out and that the author does not have to serve the reader on a platter the future historical resolution of the social conflicts which he describes. To this must be added that under our conditions novels are mostly addressed to readers from bourgeois circles, i.e., circles which are not directly ours. Thus the socialist problem novel in my opinion fully carries out its mission if by a faithful portrayal of the real conditions, it dispels the dominant conventional illusions concerning them, shakes .the optimism of the bourgeois world, and inevitably instils doubt as to the eternal validity of that which exists, without itself offering a direct solution of the problem involved, even without at times ostensibly taking sides. Here your exact knowledge and admirably fresh and lifelike presentation of both the Austrian peasants and Vienna “society” find ample material, and in Stefan you have demonstrated that you are capable of treating your characters with the fine irony which attests to the author’s dominion over the beings he has created.”

Engels To Engels To Minna Kautsky, November 2th 1885; From “Marx & Engels: On Literature & Art”; Moscow; 1976; pp.87-89.
At http://ml-review.ca/aml/SocialistArt/Final-ME_LASSALLE.htm 

He also points out to Margaret Harkness, that it is often better for the authors true opinions to remain hidden:

“I am far from finding fault with your note having written a point-blank socialist novel, a “tendezroman”, as we Germans call it, to glorify the social and political vies of the authors. That is not at all what I mean. The more the opinions of the author remain hidden, the better for the world of art. The realism I allude to may crop out even in spite of the author’s opinions. Balzac whom I consider a far greater master of realism than all the Zolas, passes, presents et a venire [past present and to come], in La Comedie Humaine gives us a most wonderfully realistic history of French “society”, especially of “le monde parisien”, describing.. almost year by year from 1816-1848 the progressive inroads of the rising bourgeois upon the society of nobles that reconstituted itself after 1815 and that set up again, as far as it could the standard of la veille politesse francaise [Old French Refinement]…. Even in economic details.. I have learned more from [Balzac] than from all the professed historians, economists and statisticians of the period together. Well, Balzac was politically a Legitimist [adherents of the Bourbons overthrown in France in 1792, who represented the interests of the landed aristocracy]; his great work is a constant elegy on the irretrievable decay of good society, his sympathies are all with the class doomed to extinction. … That Balzac was compelled to go against his own class sympathies and political prejudices, that he saw the necessity of the downfall of his favourite nobles, and described them as people deserving no better fate; and that he saw the real men of the future where, for the time being they alone were to be found – that I consider one of the greatest triumphs of Realism, and one of the grandest features in old Balzac.”

Letter to Margaret Harkness; Engels April 1888; Marx and Engels Selected Correspondence, Moscow; 1975; p.379-81;
At http://ml-review.ca/aml/SocialistArt/Final-ME_LASSALLE.htm 

Similarly, Marx points out to Lassalle that while the content of an art work needs to be historically accurate, it is not necessary – indeed it is often counter-productive – (“Your gravest shortcoming”) – to allow characters to be “transform(ed) [from] individuals into mere mouthpieces of the spirit of the time.”

Art therefore is not a series of speeches, it is a different article from propaganda:

“London, November 26, 1885; Marx To Ferdinand Lassalle, on his drama Franz von Sickingen ;

Hence, if you did not want to reduce the collision to that presented in Gotz von Berlichingen – and that was not your plan – then Sickingen and Hutten had to succumb because they imagined they were revolutionaries (the latter cannot be said of Gotz) and, just like the educated Polish nobility of 1830, on the one hand, made themselves exponents of modern ideas, while, on the other, they actually represented the interests of a reactionary class. The aristocratic representatives of the revolution –behind whose watchwords of unity and liberty there still lurked the dream of the old empire and of club-law — should, in that case, not have absorbed all interest, as they do in your play, but the representatives of the peasants (particularly these) and of the revolutionary elements in the cities ought to have formed a quite significant active background. In that case you could to a much greater extent have allowed them to voice the most modern ideas in their most naive form, whereas now, besides religious freedom, civil unityactually remains the main idea. You would then have been automatically compelled to write more in Shakespeare’s manner whereas I regard as your gravest shortcoming the fact that a la Schiller you transform individuals into mere mouthpieces of the spirit of the time. Did you not yourself to a certain extent fall into the diplomatic error, like your Franz von Sickingen, of placing the, Lutheran-knightly opposition above the plebeian Munzer opposition?  Further, the characters are lacking in character. I exclude Charles V, Balthasar and Richard of Trier. Was there ever a time of more impressive characters than the 16th century? Hutten, I think, is too much just a representative of “inspiration” and this is boring. Was he not at the same time an ingenious person of devilish wit, and have you not therefore done him a great injustice?”

“Marx To Ferdinand Lassalle; Problems Of Revolutionary Tragedy: Marx And Engels To Ferdinand Lassalle On His Drama Franz Von Sickingen Transcribed By Alliance From: “Marx And Engels On Literature And Art”; Moscow; 1976
At http://ml-review.ca/aml/SocialistArt/Final-ME_LASSALLE.htm.

Summary:
Both Marx and Engels thought that the best art was distinct from propaganda. The latter depicts people acting as “mouthpieces.” But the best art while being very realistic and true to life, did not need to “itself offer a direct solution of the problem involved” or “even without at times ostensibly taking sides.”

(4) What Paintings  did Engels, Lenin and Stalin Admire?

Some indication has been given of this from the references of Marx and Engels in literature already cited, but there is far less regarding the visual arts.

I have not dealt with Stalin’s literary preferences as Bill has already dealt with this in his article Stalin and the Arts [http://ml-review.ca/aml/AllianceIssues/A2004/STALINART.html]. 

But since this talk is more about the visual arts, and a picture is worth a thousand words, I would like to show the favourite paintings as far as we know, of Engels and Stalin. We have some indication of their preferences in this regard, but none of either Lenin or Marx.

(i) Frederick Engels: Karl Hubner: “The Silesian Weavers”

hubner

The example that we know of for Engels, is vividly described by him in an article.

Engels clearly has absolutely no compunction about highlighting a picture that is both partisan and highly emotional.

These are two of the very elements that bourgeois ideologues find most repugnant about socialist realism:

“Let me on this occasion mention a painting by one of the best German painters, Karl Hubner, which has made a more effectual Socialist agitation than a hundred pamphlets might have done. It represents some Silesian weavers bringing linen cloth to the manufacturer, and contrasts very strikingly cold-hearted wealth on one side, and despairing poverty on the other. The well-fed manufacturer is represented with a face as red and unfeeling as brass, rejecting a piece of cloth which belongs to a woman; the woman, seeing no chance of selling the cloth, is sinking down and fainting, surrounded by her two little children, and hardly kept up by an old Man; a clerk is looking over a piece, the owners of which are with painful anxiety waiting for the result; a young man shows to his desponding mother the scanty wages he has received for his labour; an old man, a girl, and a boy, are sifting on a stone bench, and waiting for their turn; and two men, each with a piece of rejected cloth on his back, are just leaving the room, one of whom is clenching his fist in rage, whilst the other, putting his hand on his neighbour’s arm, points up towards heaven, as if saying: be quiet, there is a judge to punish him. This whole scene is going on in a cold and un-homely-looking lobby, with a stone floor: only the manufacturer stands upon a piece of carpeting; whilst on the other side of the painting, behind a bar, a view is opened into a luxuriously furnished counting-house, with splendid curtains and looking-glasses, where some clerks are writing, undisturbed by what is passing behind them,. and where the manufacturer’s son, a young, dandy-like gentleman, is leaning over the bar, with a horsewhip in his hand, smoking a cigar, and coolly looking at the distressed weavers. The painting has been exhibited in several towns of Germany, and, of course, prepared a good many minds for Social ideas. At the same time, we have had the triumph of seeing the first historical painter of this country, Charles Lessing, become a convert to Socialism.”

Frederick Engels: “Rapid Progress of Communism in Germany”; First Printed In: The New Moral World No. 25, December 13, 1844; In Collected Works; Volume 4; Moscow; 1975; pp. 229-233

(ii) V.I. Lenin

It is not known what Lenin’s favourite painting was. But it is known that he detested “Futurism,” and “incomprehensible art.”

Here is Vladmir Tatlin’s “Model of the Monument to the Third International 1920”:

tatlin

Everything we do know about Lenin’s views on art, are quite consistent with those of Stalin:

“All Lenin’s recorded utterances on art at this time suggest he approved the traditional and deplored the formally innovative. In February 1921, on a midnight visit to Varya Armand (the daughter of the revolutionary Inessa Armand), who was studying art in Moscow, Lenin became involved in a discussion with a group of art students in their hostel.These students recognised ‘nothing to the right of constructivism’ in art; but among their number was one student (a Siberian whose name, for one reason or another, has not come down to us) who made realistic works:’

“This,” says Lenin, “I understand. This is comprehensible to me, and comprehensible to you, and comprehensible to a worker and to everyone else.”‘

Similarly, in his most extended reported discourse on art, a conversation with Klara Tsetkin, he reportedly called for an art that was ‘comprehensible to the masses’.

This comprehensibility appears to have signified, in Lenin’s mind, a kind of party-oriented reportage; discussing the Soviet cinema, which he regarded as the most important art form (this was, in fact, a prescient and not at all conventional view circa 1920), Lenin emphasised the importance of documentary films, stating that ‘the production of new films, imbued with Communist ideas, reflecting Soviet actuality, should begin with the newsreel’.”

Matthew Cullerne Bown; “Socialist Realist Painting”; New Haven 1998; p. 62.

It was very soon after this time, that Lenin began a counter-attack on the ultra-leftism of the Proletkult (See http://ml-review.ca/aml/AllianceIssues/ALLIANCE7COMMUNISTACADEMY.html).

(iii) J.V.Stalin: Ilya Repin: “Zaporozhe Cossacks Write a letter to Tartar King”

repin75As described by Brown, Stalin was impressed by Repin, but espeically this picture:

“Picture depicts Cossacks writing a rude and rebellious letter to the Turkish Sultan in reply to his demands for their capitulation. The Cossacks are collectively splitting their sides in anticipation of the Sultan’s reaction…. Stalin wrote modestly leaving the exhibition in the visitor’s book: ”Was at the exhibition. Generally in my opinion good”

Matthew Culhearne Brown; “Art Under Stalin”; New York; 1991; p. 56.

(iv) W.B. Bland: Diego Rodriguez De Silva y Velazquez: “Pope Innocennzo X.”

While not in any way attempting to elevate Bland to the levels of the Marxist-Leninists discussed in this article, it is nonetheless appropriate in a memorial on Bill, to ask what were some of his favourite paintings? Bland’s relation to his leaders, Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Hoxha, is a matter for history and deeper analysis.

However – In Bill’s house in Ilford, the walls were hung with a variety of impressionist painting, including Van Gogh’s “Chair and boots”; “Sunflowers.” There was also a small reproduction of Degas’s statuette of the Dancer. He lived by himself, and these articles certainly reflected his own taste.

Diego Rodriguez De Silva y Velazquez: “Pope Innocennzo X.”

Diego Velazquez-538583

On the back of a postcard sent to me, of this painting Bland wrote: “I think this portrait (on loan here at present) is one of the finest I have ever seen”;

(5) Was Good Art Made in the USSR?

In this format, it is impossible to give a full and comprehensive history of USSR painting.

However we cna give some some indication, that all range of contents dealing with human life was depicted with vivid realism and accuracy. A range of paintings will be presented as examples.

Even Anatol Lunacharskii, who at times wavered in his views, as the Commissar for enlightenment, declared himself in favour of realism; despite his pull towards the futurist leftist tendency.

In 1919 Lunarchaskii appealed in “The Artistic Task of Soviet Power’  that:

‘The central content … is the struggle for socialism and the socialist ideal itself”;
Cited Matthew Cullerne Bown; “Socialist Realist Painting”; New Haven 1998;   p. 54.

How well did the artists respond?  Flipping through the excellent publiction by Matthew Cullerne Bown, “Socialist Realist Painting” published by Yale in 1998, we can readily see some extremely wonderful works. The illustrations below are all drawn from that work.

In terms of the ‘Iconic State Art’ that was discussed earlier, perhaps the first memorable piece was that of Isaak Brodski – who was introduced to Lenin by Lunacharskii as follows:

“From an ethical and political point of view the artist Brodskii merits complete trust’;

Cited Bown M.C. Ibid; p. 57.

Thereafter an immense painting “The Ceremonial Opening of the Second Congress of the Third International” [350×550 cm] was shown in 1924. Of the 218 delegates from 67 parties, Brodski made 125 portraits, combining these into the picutre.  Each individual delegate – including Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev and Bukharin – are recognisable.

Brodski

In the meantime, while he was working away on this massive scale, he painted Lenin and Trotsky. 

It is not recorded as far as I can find, that Trotsky modestly declined to have his picture painted. Indeed Trotsky urged that Lenin be depicted, as did Krasin (Bown Ibid p. 56).

In a later march of the Ultra-leftists of the AKhR, Brodski was driven out:

“AKhR began a purge of its own ranks in 1928. The bete-noir of the young activists was the arch-traditionalist Brodksi. In a declaration issued at the time of the May 1928 Congress, they called for a struggle with ‘photo-naturalism – Broskiism’. Brodskii was driven out fo the AKhR; soon afterwards he was followed buy the painter of Russian hisotricla scences Gavriil Gorelov – hounded out becassue in 1927 he had aprticiated in the decoration of a church – and by Leningrad apinter Mikhail Avilov.”

Cullerne Bown Ibid; p. 115.

An early example of an artistically exaggerated perspective, one that enhanced an overall realism is that of Kustodiev B.M. “A Bolshevik’; 1920 [101×141 cm].
In my view, tihs illustrates nicely the distinction between “Realism” and “Naturalism.”

Kustodiev

Kustodiev was previous to this picture, better known for nudes and portraits. He became a respected member of the arts community, and exhibited both with ultra-leftists from the Protekult and other groups. He remained unaligned.

The difficulties of daily life were portrayed with unflinching realisms as in Savitski’s G,K. “The year 1919’; 63×43 cm].

Savitski

An example of a “realism” that was quite novel – and “anti-naturalism” – in its depiction of stark cold plain background was Alexander A Deineka’s “The Defence of Petrograd”; 1927 (218×354 cm);

Deineka

Although not a member of the AKhRR, Deineka was invited to show at the 10th exhibiton of AKh RR, and this painting was “considered the star of the
exhibition” Cullerne Bown Ibid; p. 77.

He studied workers’ movements in the factory for hours at times before a picture, and he was fascinated by “rhythm.” This can be seen above.

As well can seen sharp contrasts – “the struggle of white and black elements in graphics” – as expounded by Vladimir Favorski.

Deineka was a bridge between the graphics of the socialist poster and the canvas art of Socialist Realism.

Later commentators would remark on the multi-spatial dimension (Two lines of soldiers – before and after the revolution) – as a “paradigm of the “dialectical-materialist” approach to painting.”; Cited Culleren Bown Ibid; p. 95.

The new life under sociailism was depicted as being a wide open avenue along which a young lady could drive a car towards the city, by Yuri I Pimenov “New Moscow”; in 1937 [140×170 cm].

Pimenov

The image of “A Partisan” by Sergei V Malyutin 1936 [100×150 cm] is deceptively simple. With intense focus on the man, the rutted snow behind shows how this man will travel on guard for danger.

Malyutin

While George C Nisski’s “Sebastopol – The Meeting”;(1935 77×101 cm) shows with luminescent colouring, an age-old scene of boy meets girl. With the kicker of a bunch of mates in the background no doubt good humouredly – but perhaps slightly jealously? – watching their comrade’s good fortune.

Nisski

The natural beauty of the world, was not lost on artists in the USSR of socialist realism, as a famous impressionist artist, Aleksandr M Gerasimov shows in “An Orchard in Blossom”; (1935; 124×133 cm).

Gerasimov

With the War years of course, the emphasis changed, and the war reality and bravery of the USSR people was shown clearly. Despite the privations of the war, painting went on. Exhibitions were once more held from 1942, and one, “Leningrad in the Days of the Patriotic War,” held ins the still besieged city, drew:

“weak, scarcely moving people .. to our cold exhibition hall .. carrying their most recent works”;
Bown M.C. Cited Ibid; p.216.

To be singled out are perhaps Sergei V. Gerasimov’s “The Mother of  a Partisan” (1943 184×232 cm); 

GerasimovS.V

And once more the work of Alexsandr A Deineka, whose rapid movement in “The Defence of Sebastopol” (1942 200×400 cm) makes the canvas appear cinematic. This is helped by the unusual horizontal canvas shape, a “wide angle” frame. The naked figure on the far left hurling a grenade swirls into the dressed sailor brandishing a piece of fencing as defence, who in turn is thrown into the distant sailor wielding a rifle in hand-to-hand combat.

Deineka2

Naturally again the emphasis would shift after the war, to once more depict the life of the people. “Galya of the Birds” by Pavel F Globa [1950 137×201 cm] is very far from the image that is presented by the bourgeoisie of socialist Realism. As for A.M.Gerasimov, it would not be very far-fetched to think of this in an exhibition of the Impressionists.

Globa

Conclusions

Contrary to received wisdom, Stalin’s views, and personal preferences in art were not at all dissimilar to those of Marx and Engels and Lenin.

He was not the moving force behind the plethora of bad propagandist art that was seen in the late period of the USSR. Undoubted distortions occurred, and need further exploration. However, Ultra-leftist trends were supported by a combination of misguided honest elements, and hidden revisionists. 

Nonetheless, the era of Socialist art covered a number of trends over the period 1917-1953, and undoubtedly has left future progressive artists and peoples a lasting legacy of extraordinary art. 

Whether it is to everyone’s taste is another matter. But then – not everyone is a supporter of socialism. I submit, that the art of that era is more consistent with people’s views than the modern art collected by the Saatchi’s of this world.

Source

Utsa Patnaik: On Measuring “Famine” Deaths: Different Criteria for Socialism and Capitalism?

1876_1877_1878_1879_Famine_Genocide_in_India_Madras_under_British_colonial_rule_2

By Utsa Patnaik

Many developing countries which have a high proportion of poor in their population, are typically characterised by a high death rate as well as a high birth rate, with the birth rate exceeding the death rate. The rate of natural increase is given by the difference between the birth rate and the death rate. The actual increase of population is obtained by subtracting from this the net out-migration from the country, if any. In the course of development as health services reach a larger segment of the population, education levels improve and per head real incomes rise, it is expected that not only will the death rate come down but so will the birth rate. The aim is to obtain an even faster decline in the birth rate than in the death rate, if the rate of natural increase is to come down from initial high levels. China however although starting from a worse situation had lowered both the death rate and the birth rate much faster. 

In a class-divided society, average figures do not give a true picture of how bad the situation is for the most deprived, who owing to endemic lack of adequate nourishment are also more vulnerable to sickness or morbidity. We know that endemic poverty, under-nutrition and lack of access to affordable medical services get reflected in a much higher death rate than the average, for the poor segment of the population. By the same logic, a given decline in the average death rate over time in the overall population, while in itself desirable, may well be very unequally distributed, with a very large decline in the already lower- than- average death rate among the top income groups in urban areas as their access to health services improves further, and a very small or non-existent decline in death rate say among the poorest in rural areas with initial high levels of deaths. A decline in the average death rate may be quite compatible even with a rise in the death rate for some segments of the population. 

The difference between endemic high death rate among the (mainly rural ) poor , and what is identified by most academics as ” famine deaths”, seems to be the fact that the first involves the poor dying at a rate higher than the average for the population, but slowly, unobtrusively and over a longer period of time owing to being chronically under-nourished and therefore being subject to higher morbidity; this higher than average death rate being considered nothing ‘out of the way’ given the existing distribution of incomes. 

The second, which is considered not normal or usual and is termed “famine deaths”, involves a sudden rise in nutrition-deprivation and hence sudden rise in morbidity and death rate, usually among segments of the very same group which is poor as a ‘normal’ state of affairs. In short, a sudden upward deviation from the prevalent death rate is thought of as “famine death”. The cause of a sudden and unpredicted rise may be various – a sudden decline in output, or a sudden rise in the price of the basic food staple. The second cause is not necessarily predicated on the first; a sudden rise in food price may take place , not because output is less than usual, but because government follows policies of suddenly increased expenditures, which rapidly expand incomes in the hands of one segment of the population and hence their demand for food, while leaving untouched the purchasing power of another segment of the population, as happened during the 1943 Bengal famine when deficit-financed defence -related expenditures were suddenly raised. 

While China has performed much better than India, it is widely believed that China had a more severe famine than India ever had, during the “Great Leap” period in which millions died; the figure of 27 to 30 million famine deaths is frequently quoted. The main source of this figure in India is Amartya Sen’s writings and speeches which are more widely known and reported than are the basic sources, the work of Western scholars, which he uses. The argument made by him is that the absence of press freedom in China explains the fact that the world did not have any inkling that such a massive famine had taken place at the time. Similarly, Peter Nolan and others have argued that a massive famine took place during the collectivisation drive in the Soviet Union in the thirties. 

In general, the thrust of the argument is that collectivisation produces famine and the absence of a ‘free’ press as in capitalist countries, prevents anyone outside these countries knowing about it until much later- when Western liberal scholars painstakingly uncover the facts through their research. Since collective ownership and production is the very essence of socialist production relations, this appears to constitute a damning indictment of socialism. The picture is complicated by the fact that in China itself, some of those, earlier termed the ‘capitalist roaders , who were always opposed to egalitarian principles of distribution and wanted to dismantle the rural communes (which were indeed dismantled from 1980 onwards), seized upon the alleged massive “famine ” as one argument for an ex post justification for doing so, regardless of the fact that they themselves despite their active involvement in political life were apparently quite ignorant at that time that such a massive famine with 27 to 30 million deaths, had taken place in their own country. 

It would be instructive to look at how exactly this estimate of massive “famine deaths ” has been arrived at by the ever busy Western liberal scholars, which estimates have then been assiduously spread by them and by others to discredit socialism and praise the bourgeois press (thereby, incidentally, ensuring a very good press for themselves). 

In China in 1959-61 there was indeed a large shortfall in agricultural output, as much as 15 percent from normal in 1959 and 25 percent from normal in the next two years and this decline did in fact coincide with the “Great Leap” when the transition from advanced co-operatives to the peoples’ communes took place. At that time a number of reasons including drought in parts of the country, floods in others and attacks of pests were put forward for the output fall. No-one, including the foreign diplomatic corps stationed there, or the ideological critics of collectivisation within the Party, at that time suggested there was massive famine. In India too the sixties were difficult years and output shortfall owing to drought in 1964-5 was severe, although less so than in China and was combined with rapid inflation which eroded real wages and raised poverty levels to nearly 60 percent according to the available World Bank estimates. 

To associate China’s economic difficulties with communes formation would be rather like associating Indonesia’s 1997-8 economic crisis and collapse with the widespread forest fires which took place at that time. In short empirical coincidence is not a causal explanation. The same commune system ensured a massive rise in employment, in food security and health security for the rural population in the next two decades. It was not communes which created economic difficulties; rather, it can be argued that without the newly-formed commune’s egalitarian distribution, the exogenous output decline might have had a far more severe impact in and made recovery much slower than it was in fact. 

When we look at the estimates of death rate and birth rate for China made by US scholars during the years 1959 to 1961, we find that the death rate rose sharply in a single year, 1960, by as much as 10.8 per thousand compared to 1959. But because China in the single preceding decade of building socialism, had reduced its death rate at a much faster rate (from 29 to 12 comparing 1949 and 1958) than India had, this sharp rise to 25. 4 in 1960 in China still meant that this “famine” death rate was virtually the same as the prevalent death rate in India which was 24.6 per thousand in 1960, only 0.8 lower. This latter rate being considered quite “normal” for India, has not attracted the slightest criticism. Further, in both the preceding and the suceeding year India’s crude death rate was 8 to 10 per thousand higher than in China. Of course, each economy has to be judged in relation to its own internal performance; and no doubt the rise in the death rate during the worst years of output shortfall is a bad blot for China on its otherwise very impressive record of rapid decline and good food security. But is it correct to say that “famine deaths” totalled as much as 30 million; and is it correct to imply that absence of press freedom meant that China’s then leaders, despite knowing about such massive deaths, were so cynical and depraved that they could mislead the world successfully? 

In a recent article, published in a Bengali-language journal, Badruddin Umar has provided a powerful explicit critique of the widely accepted argument put forward by Sen on large famine deaths (and hence also a critique of others like Nolan). Umar argues that it is inconceivable that such a large number of “famine deaths” should have been wilfully suppressed by a state in China which had demonstrated its commitment to peoples’ welfare by undertaking measures to reach basic food security and health services to the poor, and which had achieved a much faster reduction in infant mortality and the death rate in the very first decade of independence than had India. We propose here to try to provide an explanation which includes a more realistic estimate of mortality, and also of why no-one including the Westerners in China, even noticed that mortality was higher during these years. 

Most people will accept that in order to qualify to “die” in a famine, and become a famine-death victim, it is necessary to be born in the first place. But about 18million of the estimated 30 million “dead’ in China’s famine, were not born at all ! Most of those non-experts, journalists and others who accept and propagate the ‘massive famine deaths’ in China argument put forward by the academic sophists, do not themselves realise that people who were never born at all, and indeed never conceived at all, are being included to arrive at the 27 to 30 million estimate of “famine deaths” in China. The measurement techniques are designed to mislead, to talk about the “death” of people who were never born. How is this absurd procedure possible? It has come about because not only the rise in the death rate, but also the accompanying sharp fall in the birth rate is being taken into account when estimating “famine deaths”. The birth rate in China declined and fell to a low of 18 per thousand in 1961 compared to 29.2 in 1958. (After 1961 it rose faster than it had fallen, to reach a peak of 46 by 1964). 

The rise in the death rate during 1959-61 compared to the bench-mark year 1958 implies that there was indeed a total excess mortality of 10.5 million persons over the three-year period 1959-61 in China, excess in the sense that if the death rate had remained the same, then the population would have been larger by that many more people. This is the correct estimate of excess deaths, but this order of “famine deaths” is not quite spectacular enough for the liberal scholars. Therefore, the decline in the birth rate which was very steep during these three years, is taken into account and the children who would have been born if the decline in birth rate had not taken place, are added on by them to the estimate, to arrive at a three times higher estimate which is then called the “missing millions” and identified with “famine deaths”. The fact that at least 18 million of the alleged famine victims were never conceived or born, is a minor point for those who want to talk tendentiously about massive “famine deaths” totalling 30 million in China and thereby discredit collectivisation. 

That periods of food shortage do lead to decline in fertility is a fairly well established proposition. Periods of mass mobilisation of males, for military service for example, also get reflected in a decline in the birth rate. There was no military conscription at this date in peacetime China, but there was massive mobilisation of both male and female workers for a stupendous construction effort during this period of early commune formation. The established peasant family living and work patterns were radically re-organised with the formation of the communes: 

* large bands of and men and women set out in teams and brigades for constructing water management systems, cleaning up the environment and eradicating disease-carrying organisms, afforesting hills, terracing and bunding and so on. 

* They spent weeks on the work-sites, and there were communal kitchens and creches to look after children in these years. It is not surprising if this disruption of normal family life in the interests of construction, also contributed greatly to the observed decline in the birth rate as birth decisions were postponed. 

* With stabilisation of the new system, dismantling of communal kitchens and reversion to family life the birth rate again surged to unprecedented heights, peaking at 37.9 in 1964. 

As regards the genuine excess mortality during China’s difficult years, while shortage and difficulties were very real and visible, famine was near invisible to all including the Westerners at that time in China, because China by then was an egalitarian society, not a class society. The undoubtedly severe food shortage was not concentrated in a sharp drop in consumption by the members of a particular deprived class like poor peasants who then died in the sight of all , while others had more than enough to eat, as typically happens with famine in class societies. Food shortage while it was severe, was spread out over the rural consuming population much more evenly and therefore must have led mostly to higher rates, but not immediately or obviously visible higher rates of mortality in the particularly vulnerable segments in an otherwise equal society – parturient mothers, infants and the very old. It is a mistake to think that all real trends are visible to the individuals at the time. 

Thus even though we ourselves in this country have lived through the period when the infant mortality has fallen greatly, it is a matter we are convinced of not from our direct experience of it, but after the numbers have been counted and presented to us. China’s leaders were not guilty of wilful suppression of knowledge of the higher mortality; the knowledge itself was built up much later than the events, and the correct estimate as we have seen is just over one-third of the wrong and sensationalised estimates which are still being circulated. 

On a visit to China in the eighties, at the time the inflated “famine deaths” were being talked about in the West, this author mentioned these estimates and asked some very senior Chinese economists about their own experience of this period. They were extremely surprised and said that while there were cases of more deficiency diseases than usual they were not aware of widespread famine deaths. 

It should be noted that those sophists who designed the above mentioned unique measure of “famine deaths” are very reluctant to apply it to non-socialist countries and have never done so. Their method if impartially and honestly applied would produce more than one episode of large “famine deaths” – on their own definition – in the West European countries, which saw not only a rise in civilian mortality but also a decline in the birth rate during the time of wartime shortages. Even the accurate definition in terms of rise in the death rate, is never applied by them to talk about famine in countries which are not socialist. 

Thus in Russia comparing 1994 with 1990 from the data given by an US academic, we find that the death rate rose from 48.8 to 84.1 per thousand able-bodied persons, as that country plunged into “shock therapy” to usher in a capitalist paradise, and succeeded in halving its national income. No one can say that the press is under censorship in Russia today or that the estimates are not known. But not one of those eminent economists who have deafened us with their estimates of “famine deaths ” during Soviet or Chinese collectivisation, have bothered to apply the same method to current Russian or East European data, nor will they ever do so; for their interest lies not in objectivity, but in a sophisticated vilification of socialism. 

(Courtesy: People’s Democracy, September 26, 1999)

Source

Guevaraism: the Theory of the Guerrilla Elite

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An analysis of the theories of Regis Debray as propounded in “Revolution in the Revolution?”, and their relevance to the revolutionary struggle in Latin America.

By Cmde MS on behalf of MLOB.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN Red Vanguard Volume 1, 1968

THE THEORY OF THE GUERRILLA ELITE
Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION
BOURGEOIS OUTLOOK AND SPONTANEITY
CLASS ANALYSIS IN SOUTH AMERICA: THE “THIRD” WAY
THE ROLE OF THE INDIVIDUAL – THE MAXIMUM LEADER -FIDELISM
THE “FOCO” AS SUBSTITUTE FOR THE PROLETARIAN PARTY
PEOPLE’S WAR WITHOUT THE PEOPLE
“LEFT” AND RIGHT IN LATIN AMERICA
ASSESSMENT OF THE CUBAN REVOLUTION

Introduction

Regis Debray, a “private student of revolutionary theory and practice,” has written a book which purports to offer a “third way” to revolution. It is a “third way” which all Marxist-Leninists have hitherto failed to perceive, a “scientific truth” awaiting its release at the hands of this roving French philosophy student fresh from the cloisters of the “Ecole Normale Superieure.”

In their introduction to this book, Leo Huberman and Paul Sweezy, the American sponsors of Debray, claim that the revolution in Latin America:

“will not and cannot follow one or another of the patterns, traced out by the two great revolutionary upheavals of the first half of the twentieth century. The Latin American revolution is taking a third way, the first stages of which already been revealed in the Cuban experience.”

(“Revolution in the Revolution?” Penguin Books, 1968)

On the basis of this claim for a “third way,” these American liberals with a touch of rouge on their cheeks rush to proclaim the ultimate outcome of this breach in the wall of proletarian hegemony, the anti-Marxist-Leninist content of the loquacious petty-bourgeoisie of our time: that “still other revolutionary patterns may be possible” – ranging from the Yugoslav to the Chinese variants of the new syndicalism.

Debray’s book seeks to lay the basis for such radical revisions by spurning Marxist-Leninist theory in every one of its essential tenets: replacing proletarian hegemony and discipline by petty-bourgeois hegemony and anarchical relations, replacing class by individuals, proletarian parties by “focos” of undisciplined petty bourgeois insurectionists, historical materialism by naïve mechanical materialism, scientific analysis by sweeping presumptiousness.

Like countless other renegade products which attack Marxism-Leninism, this book has been received favourably by the bourgeoisie. In that it offers a way to “make revolution” from scratch, learning by the simple empirical process of trial and error and rejecting the Marxist-Leninist scientific method of the universality of contradiction and the unity of theory and practice, it serves them well. For if the “third way” of Debray were to remain unchallenged and be applied in practice, it would result in the most tragic setbacks and useless losses to the revolutionary cause in Latin America.

Indeed, the Bolivian adventure which cost Debray his liberty and Guevara his life was merely the latest in a long series of defeats and annihilations for which the addicts of spontaneity who exist in the national liberation fronts of many Latin American countries are responsible. It is for this reason that it is essential to deal with Debray’s claims in some detail. On the first page we read:

“One began by identifying the guerrilla struggle (in Cuba – Ed.) with insurrection because the archetype – 1917 – had taken this form, and because Lenin and later Stalin had developed several theoretical formulas (sic) based on it – formulas which have nothing to do with the present situation and which are periodically debated in vain, such as those which refer to conditions for the outbreak of an insurrection, meaning an immediate assault on the central power.”

(Ibid.-p.19)

NOTE: Because Debray’s “theories” have been endorsed by the Cuban leadership and because he uses the term “we” throughout his text, references to Debary and the Cuban leadership are interchangeable, except where otherwise specified.

No doubt we are supposed to be eternally grateful for Mr. Debray’s clarification of Lenin on the “formulas” for an insurrection, i.e, “an immediate assault on the central power.” This statement is to set the tone for disclaiming Leninism by alluding to Lenin as someone who, from 1900 to 1917, contributed nothing to the struggle in Russia but the cry “insurrection” without any of the detailed handiwork which Debray claims as his own discovery.

Unfortunately, of course, Mr Debray has not understood Lenin, or Marxism, on this elementary point. The involved and rich experience, of the tactics and strategy of “making revolution” the Marxist-Leninist way are a closed book to Debray (as a student of bourgeois philosophy still in his early twenties, this is not surprising) who assumes throughout that such wild and unqualified statements, can serve as the starting point for his even wilder flights of innovation around them.

Lenin and Stalin remain (despite the distortions of petty-bourgeois innovators such as Debray who wish not to see that which deflates the balloon of their pretentiousness) the most notable of those few proletarian leaders who have successfully led the working people through to the seizure of state power and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is distinct from that seizure of power by the national bourgeoisie in alliance with the peasantry, usurping the leading role of the proletariat, which masquerades as “the dictatorship of the proletariat” in some corners of the globe – and to the building of socialism. Given this historically unique position, we can assume that the definitions and experiences of Lenin and Stalin, hold important lessons for us in establishing further theoretical and practical bases of proletarian dictatorship without which there can be no socialism – in our respective countries.

In every fundamental essential, Debray betrays not only his divergence from these principles, but his total ignorance of them.

BOURGEOIS OUTLOOK AND SPONTANEITY

When he deals in detail with the specific conditions in the countries of the Latin American continent, he refers to the divisions existing between the revisionists and trotskyites in the liberation fronts of these countries. These divisions, which have been responsible for many defeats – notably the failure of the Cuban general strike in 1958 – Debray seeks to solve, by going over to the purely military front and brushing ideological and political questions aside. He ignores the fact that leadership involves the clarification of a line in theory and the consolidation of the forces around that theory in action. Lenin subjected anti-Marxist-Leninist theory and practice to a ruthless critique on every front, this struggle bearing fruit in the undisputed leading role of the Bolsheviks at the crucial turning points in the Russian revolution. Debray seeks to cancel out the role of theory and to advocate some kind of idealised and subjectivised “action” as the unfailing panacea guaranteeing victory. He quotes petty detail after petty detail, generalises them to the level of the universal in order to justify his “revolutionary” theories revising a whole arsenal of genuine revolutionary theory painstakingly accumulated throughout a century or so of arduous struggle by valiant proletarian fighters the world over.

Not once does he justify his claims against Marxist-Leninist theory – we are presented merely with surface details and Debray’s own brand of arrogant ignorance of the harsh facts of the struggle against imperialism. Thus, in justification of the “spontaneous inevitable progress of history”:

“The reverses suffered by the Latin American revolutionary movement are truly minor if one measures them in terms of the short period of time which is the prologue to the great struggles of tomorrow, if we take into account the fact that the few years which have passed correspond to that period of ‘takeoff’ and re-adjustment through which all revolutions must go in their early stages. Indeed, what seems surprising is that guerrilla movements have been able to survive so many false starts and so many errors, some inevitable and others not. According to Fidel, that is the astonishing thing, and it proves the extent to which the movement is impelled by history. In fact, we must speak not, so much of defeat as of a certain explicable stagnation and lack of rapid development, the consequences of, among other things the inevitable blunders and errors at this stage of exploration, of revolutionary conceptions and methods which are new, (our emphasis – Ed.) in spite of their deceptive kinship with other international experiences. . . .Of all these false starts, the Latin American is the most, “innocuous.”

(p.23)

This “innocuous” record has involved the annihilation of “half a hundred revolutionary organisations” on the Latin American continent, since the Fidelista upsurge!

On an even more alarming scale, on page 2 the cry of the petty bourgeois intellectual reveals itself in full swing in its justification of spontaneity, taken to the lengths of advocating the pleasures and benefits of a blissful ignorance of theory. In this assertion, Debray is typical of the worst philistine intellectual who steeps himself in book learning but condescends to the “masses” in their ignorance – in such a way he seeks to preserve the prestige of learning which can only stand up when contrasted with the “low level” of the masses. Anathema to Debray are the forces of the organised proletariat with their developed theory:

“One may well consider it a stroke of good luck that Fidel had not read the military writings of Mao Tse-tung before disembarking on the coast of Oriente; he could thus invent, on the spot and out of his own experience, principles of a military doctrine in conformity with the terrain. … all the theoretical works on people’s war do as much harm as good. (This includes General Giap, Lenin! –Ed). They have been called the grammar books of the war. But a foreign language is learned faster in a country where it must be spoken than at home studying a language manual.”

(p.20-21).

And, when dealing with the dangers of “imitation from past experiences”:

“All the more reason to remain aware of the inversion of which we are victims when we read theoretical works.”

(p.59).

So, we have here the claim that theoretical knowledge is a hindrance and that spontaneous “trial and error” is the only guide to revolutionary action. Likewise, political struggles through programmes, fronts, alliances – the essential and inevitable shifts and deployments of forces in the complex struggle to win the working people for revolution are not necessary. Those who claim they are,

“… believe that revolutionary awareness and organisation must and can in every case precede revolutionary action.”

(p.82)

This is carried to the lengths of noting (we presume with favour – otherwise why point it out?):

“A significant detail: during two years of warfare, Fidel did not hold a single political rally in his zone of operations.”

(p.53).

Thus we are dealing with a defence of spontaneity, (a spontaneity which yet Debray makes a show of criticising in others) where spontaneity takes as its fundamental precept:

“.. the armed struggle of the masses against imperialism is capable of creating by itself, in the long run, a vanguard capable of leading the peoples to socialism.”

(p.126).

CLASS ANALYSIS IN SOUTH AMERICA: THE “THIRD” WAY

In order to justify his anti-Marxist-Leninist theories, Debray has to claim a “unique” class situation in Latin America:

“… the irony of history has willed, by virtue of the social situation of many Latin American countries, the assignment of precisely this vanguard role to students and revolutionary intellectuals, who have had to unleash, or rather to initiate, the highest forms of class struggle.”

(p.21)

No doubt his studies at the Ecole did not include a syllabus on Marxism-Leninism. Debray, is about to proceed upon the unfolding of his “new” theories of revolution, applicable only to Latin America:

Firstly, that the leading instigating role of the intellectuals and students is unique. From this assumption he intends to demonstrate, that a new concept of the vanguard, a “foco” (a small band of guerrillas with allegiance to one “leader”) follows logically, and from this that the normal political channels should be ignored and give place to armed struggle as an end in itself.

However, his claim for uniqueness of situation in Latin America is a red herring raised in order to conceal his anti-proletarian, thoroughly bourgeois thinking. For in Russia the revolutionary students and intellectuals also initiated the struggle against imperialism and capitalism: it was they who formulated the theory of the vanguard party and the strategy of the world’s first proletarian revolution. And it is here that we come to the crux of the difference between those petty-bourgeois forces which, when declassed and pushed into the ranks of the working class, overcome their bourgeois thinking and thoroughly embrace the proletarian world view and its revolutionary struggle; and those who fail to identify themselves with the aims and aspirations of the majority class. These latter merely use their new class position to air their own minority grievances against capitalism, objectively striving to climb back to their former class position, sowing confusion and propagating theories in the process which act against the tide of revolutionary struggle.

There are of course, vast differences between the aims of those intellectuals who led the way in Russia and the aims of those in Latin America who advance Debray to be their spokesman. The intellectuals in Russia worked for the hegemony of the proletariat in the socialist revolution and, as its necessary preliminary, in the bourgeois democratic revolution.

Debray and those he represents, are that section of the petty bourgeoisie which stand for the hegemony of bourgeois ideology and the petty bourgeois forces, not for a socialist revolution and not even for the final victory and, consolidation of the national democratic revolution. For in the epoch of imperialism, this can only be led by the proletariat in alliance with the poor and middle peasantry if it is to be consolidated and is to prepare the around for the transition to the socialist revolution. The petty bourgeois and bourgeois view is for the holding of the revolutionary process at the stage of the national democratic revolution, in order that the groundwork for capitalism may be sown and the path towards the re-incorporation of the nation into the imperialist sphere once again be laid. They seek to prevent that national democratic revolution from being turned into the stream which feeds the proletarian revolution by crying “against dictatorship,” “against bureaucracy,” thus serving the interests of the national bourgeoisie.

And so, Debray’s claims that his “third way” is the new form of worker-peasant revolutionary alliance:

“What gives the guerrilla movement the right to claim this political responsibility as its own and for itself alone? The answer is: that class alliance which it alone can achieve, the alliance that will take and administer power, the alliance whose interests are those of socialism – the alliance between workers and peasants. The guerrilla army is a confirmation in action of this alliance; it is the personification of it alone can guarantee that the people’s power will not be perverted after victory.”

And

“… This progressive petty bourgeoisie must… commit suicide as a class in order to be restored to life as revolutionary workers, totally identified with the deepest aspirations of their people.”

(p.111).

Yet despite these claims, we find that the real picture is very different.

In order to make his thesis workable Debray has to provide the vanguard leadership without which this class alliance cannot be consolidated. He performs this conjuring trick by taking the current “left” revisionist emphasis on the countryside in opposition to the cities, to its most illogical conclusion to date: all who live in cities are bourgeois, all who live in the mountains are proletarian, and hegemony in the struggle belongs to the petty bourgeois rural guerrillas who become the vanguard “proletariat” of Debray’s imagination.

This is one of his more remarkable “additions” to Marxist-Leninist theory:

“….As we know, the mountain proletarianises the bourgeois and peasant elements, and the city can bourgeoisify the proletarians, The tactical conflicts that are bound to arise, the differences in the evaluation and line, conceal a class conflict, in which the interests of the proletariat are not, paradoxically enough, on the side which one would expect. It was possible to resolve these conflicts rapidly in Cuba, and the advance towards socialism was undertaken as quickly as it was after taking power because Fidel, from the first day, demanded, won, and defended hegemony for the rural guerrillas” (our emphasis – Ed; p.75).

He quotes approvingly Guevara’s muddled thesis in the same vein:

“These differences (ie, between the plain (the town) and the sierra (the countryside) – Ed.) go deeper than tactical divergences. The Rebel Army is already ideologically proletarian and, thinks like a dispossessed class; the city remains petty bourgeois, contains future traitors among its leaders, and is very influenced by the milieu in which it develops.”

(Guevara , quoted by Debray on p.77).

In this strange system of Marxism, the city, wherein labour and toil, the wage slaves of capitalism, has thus been conveniently disposed of to make way for leadership by that more revolutionary the petty bourgeoisie!

In further imaginative vein, the “back to nature” aspirations of the dilettante petty-bourgeois fleeing from the terrors of the era of machinofacture and proletarian organisation are eulogised:

“Such are the mental reactions of a bourgeois, and any man, even a comrade, who spends his life in a city is unwittingly bourgeois in comparison with a guerrillero…. Not to have any means of subsistence except what you yourself can produce, with your own hands (? – We read elsewhere in his treatise that equipment and supplies were pilfered in raids on villages – MS-Ed) starting from nature in the raw. … The city dweller lives as a consumer. As, long as he has some cash in his pocket, it suffices for his daily needs.”

(p.68)

“Nothing like getting out to realise to what extent these lukewarm incubators (the cities – Ed.) make one infantile and bourgeois. In the first stages of life in the mountains, in the seclusion of the so-called virgin forest life is simply a daily battle in its smallest detail: especially is it a battle within the guerrillero himself to overcome his old habits, to erase the marks left on his body by the incubator – his weakness.”

(p.69)

Really, Mr Debray – speak for yourself! No doubt it is a delightful element of “free choice” for the coddled petty bourgeois to remove himself temporarily to the more ascetic hardship of the mountains! But even capitalist economists have had to acknowledge that the daily lot of the proletarian is one which requires him to sell his birthright, his freedom, his expectancy of life precisely in order to obtain that little “cash in his pocket” without which he would be too dead to have any “daily needs!”

Also, in magical vein, we are told that:

“Under these conditions (guerrilla experience Ed) class egoism does not long endure.. Petty bourgeois psychology melts like under a summer sun ..”

(p.110).

Would that this were so!

From a reference he makes to Castro on the subject of the inherent qualities of “the people” we can draw only the conclusion that the term refers to the peasantry alone (p.112). And of course this is as it must be, for despite the loud claims, these theories bear absolutely no relation to the proletariat whatsoever.

The fig-leaf cover required to normalise this petty bourgeois leadership and masquerade it under the false cloak of a “worker-peasant alliance” leading to socialism was the verbal trick of claiming that a handful of petty bourgeois guerrillas, through their relationship to their “means of production” in the rural environment – the “dispossessed class” – were the proletariat leading the peasantry.

This makes the formula complete. But no amount of verbal juggling can make these theories any other than what they really are –

Namely, the laying of the foundations of the dictatorship of the national bourgeoisie in Latin America with all the jargon that goes with it:

  • the abstract and classless theory of “armed revolution”;
  • the purely military “foco”;
  • the primacy of spontaneity and,
  • the overall aim of “the happiness of the people” divorced from any concrete class analysis.

A typical petty bourgeois phenomenon is the spurning of class analysis and political theory. The bourgeoisie has its class theory, just as the proletariat has. But the petty bourgeoisie has no independent ideology because it is a transitional class, a virtual hybrid ideologically – part bourgeois and part proletarian in its advocacy of ideology according to the fortunes of which major class appears likely to benefit it most. That is the reason for the sweeping idealist phrases which are utterly classless. It therefore vacillates opportunistically, avoiding the statement of a political position because it does not know at any one stage in the movement of class struggle which side it will need to be on.

Thus the claims of the Debrayists are not new. Always and everywhere they have been part of the arsenal of the petty bourgeoisie in attempting to further their social and class aims – and they are theories which are inimical to the hopes and aspirations of the only truly revolutionary class, the proletariat; theories which at root and beneath the libertarian cover are nothing but a vicious attack on the proletariat and its class mission.

THE ROLE OF THE INDIVIDUAL – THE MAXIMUM LEADER – FIDELISM

If the character of the theories we have outlined are correct, it will follow that, in place of proletarian discipline and democratic centralism, petty bourgeois individuality will be enthroned. And this is so. We read:

“The city, Fidel says, ‘is a cemetery of revolutionaries and resources’… A leader cannot go down to the city to attend a political meeting: he has the politicos come up to discuss and make decisions in a safe place up above: otherwise he sends an emissary. Which presupposes, in the first place, recognition of his role as responsible leader, the willingness to give him the resources with which to exercise his leadership – if not, he takes them himself. It implies, above all, the adoption of an open and explicit strategy.”

(p.67).

“This reconstitution (of the “party” Ed.) requires the temporary suspension of ‘internal’ party democracy and the temporary abolition of the principles of democratic centralism which guarantee it.”

(p.101).

Furthermore, the conventional party only brings with it “the plethora of commissions, secretariats, congresses, plenary sessions, meetings etc”. These are the cause of “the vice of excessive deliberation” which “hampers executive, centralised and vertical methods, combined with the large measure of tactical independence of subordinate groups which is demanded in the conduct of military operations (p.101).

In other words, discipline and organisation, which are the main manifestations of proletarian organisation, ‘hamper’ the freedoms of the petty bourgeois leaders, who wish to answer to no strata or section of the population – and indeed, by their very hybrid class position, do not directly represent any. To these military adventurists, the primacy of political struggle which is supplemented by military struggle, is the source of all evils. It brings with it the necessity for disciplined leadership, political discussion of strategy, the difficult work of actually involving the working people in struggle. All these tasks are anathema to the Debrayists and their foolhardy bands of “trial and error” revolutionaries.

But we have only proceeded a little way in our analysis.

We have now to deal with the real reason why Debray has thought it necessary to throw all previous historical experience overboard, to decry and reject any lessons from the revolutions of Russia, China and Vietnam, the theories of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin; to throw the leading role of the proletarian party overboard. It is because:

“In Cuba, military (operational) and political leadership have been combined in one man: Fidel Castro.”

(p.96)

It is because of:

“the line of action of which Fidel Castro, the leader of the Cuban Revolution, is the incarnation.”

(p.119)

Throughout the text is peppered with glowing references to “Fidel says,” rather like the childrens’ nursery rhyme. Thus, speaking again of “the leader” and his qualities:

“In brief, no detail is too small for a politico-military chief: everything rests on details – on a single detail – and he himself must supervise them all.”

(p.89)

What a staggering piece of nonsense! In contradistinction to even the Blanquists, who claimed that a small elite could liberate the people, we have the ridiculous adolescent hero-worship that one man – one “maximum-leader,” the “incarnation,” is our hope for socialism. Mr. Debray claims with pride that this leader, combining all qualities,” is the startling innovation that has been introduced” into the theory of Marxism-Leninism. We must indeed confess ourselves startled at such a turn of events – when the personal feelings of a twenty-year old whose transference to maturity had been stunted inside the portals of a bourgeois temple of philosophy – are put forward as the basis for a world-view involving the fate of millions!

But it would appear that in the sierras under the sway of “Fidelism,” in place of the proletarian party and its healthy collective discipline, that body representing the best qualities of a class, such inverted and ingrown petty bourgeois acts of hero worship are commonplace. For Guevara himself, on the basis of his experiences with Fidel, stated that “the aim is for all qualities to be united if possible, in one person.” This maximum leader,” as the world knows, has not been slow to bask in the limelight of glory and rise to the heights of demagogy which this mystical cult has presented to him.

Thus we are dealing with an idealisation of the petty bourgeoisie, an idealisation which can only finish up in extremely deep water.

And it does, for such baseless hero-worship and unquestioned allegiance to one “leader” is the very essence of bourgeois class thinking, when confronted with the problem of misleading and subjugating vast social forces for its own ends. It represents a crisis in the leadership of a historically obsolescent class when the normal, logical, although unequal, system of maintaining its power is threatened from below. This initial demagogy of the “maximum leader” often appears too ridiculous to take seriously. But beneath it, lies the sabre of a force which is responsible to no constitution, to no labour laws, no checks by the working people, no power other than to itself. All too often it has finally resulted in bloodbaths not only involving the working class but any other strata which have got in the way of a totally destructive and anarchic force.

The seeds of such theories of an independent armed force, are present in the thinking of the Debrayist petty bourgeoisie:

“It has been proved that for the training of revolutionary cadres the people’s war is more decisive than political activity without guerrilla experience. Leaders of vision in Latin America today are young, lacking in long political experience prior to joining up with the guerrillas. It is ridiculous to continue to oppose ‘political cadres’ to ‘military cadres’, ‘political leadership’ to ‘military leadership’. Pure ‘politicians’ who want to remain pure – cannot lead the armed struggle of the people; pure ‘military men’ can do so, and by the experience acquired in leading a guerrilla group, they become ‘politicians’ as well. The experience of Cuba and, more recently, of Venezuela, Guatemala, and other countries demonstrate that people – even petty bourgeois or peasants – are more quickly and more completely moulded by experience of guerrilla warfare than by an equal amount of time spent in a training school for cadres – a consequence, as far as men are concerned, of the essentially and totally political character of guerrilla warfare.”

(p. 88-89).

This dominant military force will be naturally, young – since the old are, well – they are “alas… old” and worn out:

“In Latin America, wherever armed struggle is the order of the day, there is a close tie between biology and ideology. However absurd or shocking this relationship may seem, it is none the less a decisive one. An elderly man, accustomed to city living, (do workers retire at the age of 40? – MS-Ed) moulded by other circumstances and goals, will not easily adjust himself to the mountain nor – though this is less so – to underground activities. In addition to the moral factor – conviction – physical fitness is the most basic of all skills needed for waging guerrilla war; the two factors go hand in hand. A perfect Marxist education is not, at the outset, an imperative condition. That an elderly man should be proven militant – and possess a revolutionary training – is not, alas, sufficient for coping with guerrilla existence, especially in the early stages. Physical aptitude is the prerequisite for all other aptitudes (?? – MS-Ed); a minor point of limited theoretical appeal, but the armed struggle appears to have a rationale of which theory knows nothing”.

(p. 101)

Thus it is brawn, not the creative brain; political ignorance, not understanding; youth and fitness, not experience which constitutes Debray’s “master race” of revolution.

Such is the demagogy which wears the mask of “Marxism.” It is this monstrous deformation which results from the failure to build a vanguard party based firmly on the alliance between the working class and peasantry in the conditions of a national democratic struggle. For with this party denigrated, with the proletarian role usurped and the peasantry dragged in as fodder to back up and strengthen the inherently vacillating national bourgeoisie, the net result can only be, once foreign imperialist domination is overthrown, the imposition of the dictatorship of this national bourgeoisie fully confirmed in its class role – a national bourgeoisie forced to adopt the fascist-type “maximum leader” principle in order to maintain its hold over the vast masses of the people and obtain its surplus value from an underdeveloped economic system by screwing up the rate of exploitation – free from the bugbear of any organised opposition and defence by the working people of their own interests.

This is precisely the same demagogy which we see today stretching from China to Indonesia and Cuba: with the party of the proletariat destroyed, the national bourgeoisie walks into its repressive role, and the proletariat is denigrated viciously as “a bourgeois force” in order to cover up the real bourgeois nature of these leaders. There is an exact parallel with the Chinese national bourgeoisie and its assumed “leftism”: the “‘cultural revolution,” which aims to destroy the proletarian vanguard party.

THE “FOCO” AS SUBSTITUTE FOR THE PROLETARIAN PARTY

We have already had a pretty rounded introduction to the theories of Debray.

It comes as no surprise therefore, that for Debray the Marxist-Leninist theory of the vanguard party of the proletariat, must give place to yet another unique contribution to “Marxism-Leninism”; that is, the theory of the immaculate conception, or the spontaneous begetting, of the vanguard nucleus.

Thus:

“The vanguard party can exist in the form of the guerrilla foco itself. The guerrilla force is this party in embryo. This is the staggering novelty introduced by the Cuban Revolution.”

(p.105)

“The people’s army will be the nucleus of the party, not vice-versa. The guerrilla force is the political vanguard in nuce, and from its development a real party can arise …. That is why at the present juncture, the principal stress must be laid on the development of guerrilla warfare and not on the strengthening of existing parties or the creation of new parties.”

(p.115).

“Eventually the future People’s Army will beget the party of which it is to be, theoretically the instrument: essentially the party is the army.”

(p.105).

Just as a vanguard party is not necessary in the struggle, one can also dispense with political education of the mass of the-working people:

“(the system of political commissars)… does not appear to correspond to Latin American reality. … The people’s army is its own political authority. The guerrilleros play both roles indivisibly. Its commanders are political instructors for the fighters, its political instructors are its’ commanders.”

(p.114).

For in place of the scientific truths of Marxism-Leninism, we are offered a set of maxims mouthed parrot-like by “revolutionaries” whose proudest claim is their rejection of the historical experience of the revolutionary peoples in struggle and their philistine ability to “invent,” on the spot, ‘the great truths, which are hereinafter valid for all time:

“In many countries of America the guerrilla force has frequently been called the ‘armed fist’ of a liberation front, in order to indicate its dependence on a patriotic front or on a party. This expression, copied from models elaborated elsewhere – principally in Asia – is at bottom, contrary to the maxim of Camilo Cienfuegos: ‘The rebel army is the people in uniform’.”

(p.65)

What duplicity. A handful of petty bourgeois adventurers, who are a law unto themselves, constituting a “foco” which preserves its independence from the people because the mass of the people “contain many potential betrayers of the revolution,” are put up as the true representatives of the workers’ and peasants’ best interests, as the substitute for a party of the working masses. Such are the lengths to which these arrogant petty bourgeois will go in their task of attacking the fundamental and only guide to action of the masses, in whatsoever corner of the globe: the scientific principles of Marxism-Leninism.

And, of course, Debray, in addition to his ignorance of Marxism or Leninism, is completely at sea on the facts of the Cuban revolution and its outcome, as we shall see in more detail later. Suffice it here to say that he is under the totally erroneous impression that the “theories” he claims to have unearthed, were actually borne out in practice:

“Around this nucleus, and only because it already had its own politico-military leadership, other political forces have been able to assemble and unite, forming what is today the Communist party of Cuba, of which both the base and the head continue to be made up of comrades from the guerrilla army. The Latin American revolution and its vanguard, the Cuban Revolution, have thus made a decisive contribution to international revolutionary experience and to Marxism-Leninism.”

(p.105)

Obviously no one has told him that so weak, so undisciplined and so politically inept was this guerrilla force when faced with the directly political tasks of managing a “state of the working people” that its first action was to call in the aid of the revisionist Popular Socialist Party, a party which had played a completely traitorous role in the struggle against Batista, to help them man the heights of political power.

Debray devotes a good percentage of his book to attacks on those revisionists (such as of the Popular Socialist Party) – attacks which are justified to a certain extent – but what cannot be justified is his attempt to make of the sell-out which the Cuban revolution was to become a model of “Marxism-Leninism”, every unprincipled turn of which must be copied throughout the Latin American continent.

When the Cuban leadership granted Mr. Debray full facilities to study the Cuban revolution and its history that is, employed him to embroider a myth and bury the facts they chose wisely. They chose a representative of that privileged section of the petty bourgeoisie which devotes all its time and energies to the renegade task of attempting to destroy the only theory and practice which can liberate all the oppressed social classes by a revolution which will end for ever the unequal privilege whereby those who create wealth and culture are robbed by those who make of it a reactionary metaphysical mystique.

PEOPLE’S WAR WITHOUT THE PEOPLE

We begin, as usual, with a claim of uniqueness for the Latin American situation.

The discovery of this “new” path has led to many errors, but these are inevitable “at this stage of exploration, of revolutionary conceptions and methods which are new in spite of their deceptive kinship with other international experiences” (p.23). The aim of the armed foco is to build up “through guerrilla warfare carried out in suitably chosen rural zones a more mobile strategic force, nucleus of a people’s army and future socialist state” (p.25).

Of course this armed spontaneity diverges radically from all other successful experiences to date – and, naturally, has met with innumerable failures. Therefore, we have to have a scapegoat. Upon this scapegoat are blamed residual “imported” errors, that explain the “inevitable” errors on the “new” path. He makes this scapegoat, the dangerous “imported political conceptions” of Vietnam and elsewhere, with such out-of-context claims as the “subjection of the guerrilla force to the party” (p.25) contentions, which are not applicable to the “historical and social conditions peculiar to Latin America.” (p.56)

He notes that:

“… in Vietnam, the Communist Party was the organisational nucleus from which and around which the people’s army developed.”

(p.47).

But:

“Differences between Vietnam and Latin America lead to the following contrast: whereas in Vietnam the military pyramid of the liberation forces is built from the base up, in Latin America on the other hand, it tends to be built from the apex down; the permanent forces first (the foco), then the semi-regular forces in the vicinity of the foco, and lastly or after victory (Cuba) the militia.”

(p.50)

Of course, such a radical turning on its head is not clarified in any way. It is simply taken for granted.

Another “irrelevant” theory to Debray, employed as it has been in all the successful national liberation struggles of our time, is that the guerrilla forces should aim to be so integrally a part of the people that they remain unnoticed “like a fish in water”;

“The occupation and control of rural areas by reaction or directly by imperialism, their vigilance today greatly increase should rid a given group of armed propagandists of all hope remaining unnoticed like a fish in water’.”

(p.51)

And another “unique” point:

“Let us not forget, that the class enemy carries out selective assassination on a large scale in Latin America – kill the leaders and leave the rest alive.”

(p.66)

Really, Mr Debray, one would think from such a statement that imperialist oppression itself is completely unique to Latin America. Yes this elitist militarist theory is nonsense.

It has been put forward in order to cover up the essential heresy which lies beneath the claims to a “people’s army”; by inventing a uniqueness which prevents the application of the theory of people war, as it is understood by all genuine representatives of the working people, it is hoped to cover up the fact that this was the work of a handful of insurgents who bear no relationship whatsoever to the real aspirations and political requirements of the forces in struggle against imperialism.

In a vulgarisation of the role of the guerrilla we read:

“It must have the support of the masses or disappear; before enlisting them directly, it must convince them that there are valid reasons for its existence so that the ‘rebellion’ will truly be – by the manner of its recruitment and the origins, its fighters a ‘war of the people.”‘

(p.46)

and:

“….. the only conceivable line for a guerrilla group to adopt is the mass line; it can live only with their support, in daily contact with them.”

(p.110)

But behind this thin “mass line” lies the real reason why Debray has found it necessary to reject the experience of people’s war in Vietnam, Laos, etc. It is a reason which completely removes the class basis and pins his theory down as a justification of the individualism, instability and shallowness of the petty bourgeoisie. For Debray rejects the concept of a fixed base of support, i.e. a mass-base amongst the people, for individualistic nomadism, without any social base.

“the guerrilla base is, according to an expression of Fidel, the territory within which the guerrilla happens to be moving; it goes where he goes. In the initial stage the base of support is in the guerrilla fighter’s knapsack.”

(p.64)

“During the first stage (of the guerrilla war Ed.), clearly the hardest to surmount and the most exposed to all sorts of accidents, the initial group experiences at the outset a period of absolute nomadism.”

(p.31)

A fine “people’s war,” one of the main aims of its elitist liberating mission being to achieve independence from the people (as opposed to the Marxist-Leninist thesis of the necessity to build the revolutionary independence of the working people from their exploiters):

“The revolutionary guerrilla force is clandestine. It is born and develops secretly. The fighters themselves use pseudonyms. At the beginning they keep out of sight, and when they allow themselves to be seen it is at a time and place chosen by their chief (sic). The guerrilla force is independent of the civilian population in action as well as in military organisation; consequently it need not assume the direct defence of the peasant population.”

(p.41).

With a further display of arrogant elitism and incredible lack of faith in the forces they claim to represent, we read:

“Constant vigiliance, constant mistrust, constant mobility – the three golden rules. All three are concerned with security. Various considerations of common sense necessitate wariness towards the civilian population and the maintenance of a certain aloofness. By their very situation (? MS-Ed) civilians are exposed to repression and the constant presence and pressure of the enemy, who will attempt to buy them, corrupt them, or to extort from them by violence what cannot be bought… . ‘We hid our intentions from the peasants’, Che relates, and if once of them passed near the scene of an ambush, we held him until the operation was completed. This vigilance does not necessarily imply mistrust: a peasant may easily commit an indiscretion and even more easily, be subjected to torture.”

(p.43)

Thus the claim that these theories are a more highly developed form of “people’s war” begins to look slightly ludicrouswhen the guerilla foco is fighting not only the imperialist enemy but completely isolated from and antagonistic to the mass of the working people, and peasants, the only possible base in a people’s war against imperialism.

In this scheme of things the working people and peasantry serve merely as fodder for the adventurist, personally gratifying, military gambles of the unstable, dissatisfied petty bourgeoisie. We begin to see why the solidarity of the Vietnamese people in their genuine people’s war is anathema to the Debrayists, and why they constantly warn of the dangers of “imitating the Vietnamese experience.”

So Debray has disposed of the class base of a genuine revolutionary movement, of its wholehearted dedication to and identification with the exploited and oppressed classes;

Debray has disposed completely of the alliance of the two major oppressed classes, proletariat and peasantry, which when welded together into an invincible alliance, constitute the only force which can resolutely oppose and defeat imperialism by classing the proletarian forces of the cities as “bourgeoisie”;

Debray has cancelled out the role of political struggle by scorning the tasks of building a revolutionary movement around a programme, forging alliances, educating the people for struggle, organising, agitating propagating in the course of building this powerful force of the working masses, and revealed his thoroughly bourgeois content by ignoring the vital and indispensable role of the general staff of a revolution, its vanguard party;

And at the tail end of this rejection of all that constitutes a genuine revolutionary force, his guerrilla focos resemble nothing more than bandit groups, cut off from the oppressed people to such an extent, that at a certain stage of their reckless ill-conceived adventures they are forced to break the cardinal principle of genuine people’s war – never to steal the property of the workers and peasants by advocating raids – on villages for supplies:

“It is less risky and safer for a guerrilla group to make raids on neighbouring villages from its own base in order to obtain foodstuffs and field equipment.”

(p.70).

It is now quite clear why so many Fidelista focos have floundered and been wiped out. For by elevating guerrilla struggle (or their completely militarist inversion of it) to an end in itself, as opposed to a stage in the struggle which it really is, and by advocating that a handful of “dedicated determined men,” maintaining their aloofness from the vast mass of the working people, ignoring political questions” with the same blindness as mediaeval mystics, can overthrow the considerable might of imperialism, they cut the very ground from under their feet and lead those who follow them to almost certain defeat and massacre.

Debray claims that the great misconceptions which exist concerning the Cuban revolution are the reasons for so many failures in recent years on the Latin American continent. He claims his book is the vehicle which distils the true essence of that revolution and lays down its theory for the edification of all like-minded insurgents. It has been pointed out that the essence he has distilled, besides its dangerous implications, bears very little resemblance to the actual course of the Cuban revolution add the lessons which are to be learned from it.

We must therefore now look at that Cuban experience and distil from it our own essence – one which has been processed according to the scientific principles of Marxism-Leninism.

“LEFT” AND RIGHT IN LATIN AMERICA

What is the fundamental malaise which is responsible for such anti-Marxist-Leninist rubbish as the Debray theories being purveyed with some seriousness in Latin America? It lies, surely, in the classic division between right and “left” which has – we now borrow Mr. Debray’s phrase – revealed itself in a very obvious form due to certain more heightened conditions in Latin America.

Debray takes as his point of departure the right revisionist betrayal over many decades in Latin America, and seeks to counter-pose his leftist theories as the way forward.

But whereas the right deviation seeks to tie the class forces of the proletariat and its allies to bourgeois ideology and practice in such a way as to transform the party into an instrument of foreign imperialism, the comprador bourgeoisie and the feudal reactionary classes;

Its leftist counterpart, the “left” revisionist deviation, also reflects, the influence of bourgeois ideology and practice within the class forces of the proletariat, but in this case adapted to the class needs of the national bourgeoisie.

The national bourgeoisie has an objective interest, at least for a time, in the victory of the national democratic revolution, but wishes to achieve that victory under its class leadership and not under that of the proletariat and its allies.

It therefore needs to make use of revolutionary phraseology, the best form of which is provided by the petty bourgeois left distortions of Marxism of which Debray’s teachings are typical.

These deviations are able to take an extreme and clear form within the contradictory framework of political institutions in Latin America. The apparently organic and established character of the state frameworks in most Latin American countries has resulted from the early formal independence won against Spanish colonial rule which resulted in an earlier development of semi-colonial forms of domination by USA imperialism. This has seduced the majority of the revisionist parties in those countries into believing that the doctrine of “peaceful transition” could be applied there without the disguise of leftist phraseology and lip service to guerrilla and other violent forms of struggle. As a consequence, right revisionist policies in Latin America have met with the most abject failure of any in the world, driving those parties, in a number of instances – the best known being that of Batista’s Cuba – to degenerate into direct, tools of foreign imperialism and indigenous comprador reaction.

This history of open right-revisionist betrayal and errors is the main factor determining the current swing to the “left” in a diametrically opposed direction. This history counterposes “peaceful legal advance without violence” and the militarist spontaneity of “military struggle without politics.”

It represents a classic manifestation of the spontaneous division between “left” and right. We say spontaneous, because these extremes occur in the vacuum-left, when genuine scientific analysis and the revolutionary leadership which results from it are lacking. A right deviation delivers the working people and peasantry helpless to the massacre of imperialist guns and without any means of defence. Whilst leftism provokes isolated violence and brings down the full force of imperialist violence on an inadequately steeled and prepared nucleus, divorced from the mass of the people but involving these forces in the bloodshed which accompanies their defeat.

These complementary deviations have wreaked havoc within the national liberation fronts of the Latin American continent and make more essential the return to a class analysis as the basis for a scientific theory of revolution.

Certain countries of the Latin American continent have been viewed by right revisionism as possessing sufficient formal trappings of democracy to justify a full programme based on electoral advance to socialism by peaceful means, such as Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica and Brazil.The remaining long-standing open dictatorships have necessitated right revisionist programmes of a more militant type, albeit singularly lacking in any guide to action to overthrow the repressive regimes, but relying on the hope that “democratic rights” would be established under restrained “mass pressure.” It is therefore to the statements of the Communist Parties of the former category that we should turn for the clearest expression of “parliamentarism” on the Latin American continent.

A reference to the Costa Rican Communist Party’s “competition” some years ago makes the right revisionist position very clear.

Here instead of the vanguard party thriving in a situation of heightened class struggle, we are presented with the novelty of a “vanguard party” which finds itself losing ground; when objective class struggle is seen as a nuisance factor which has interfered with the prime task of the ingrown little organism’s race to achieve a per capita paper representation in some imaginary “democratic institution” – whilst all comprehension of the realities of class remains blissfully outside its scope.

It does not require a very detailed knowledge of the situation Costa Rica to understand that the way to salvation of the Costa Rican working People does not lie through such “struggle” as advocated by the “Costa Rican People’s Vanguard”:

“A competition in the sphere of organisation, education, propaganda and finances has been conducted by the Party in five of the seven Provinces of Costa Rica. … Judging by the results it looked as if the target advanced by the Ninth Congress (doubling the membership) would be realised without much difficulty. However, unforeseen circumstances arose which hampered the work of building Party.

The first was the Caribbean Crisis last October and the wave of repressions that came in its wake. Our newspaper was banned and the activity of the Party was restricted in one way or another . . . .

Owing to the repressions in the Pacifico Sur party membership has shown no increase. However, despite these negative factors and the intensified repressions in connection with the talks between the presidents of the Central American countries and President Kennedy in March 1963, the competition conducted by the five provinces was, on the whole, satisfactory.. . . . .

It is clear to us that when international tension increases and the war danger grows, repressions are intensified and democratic liberties curtailed, and the growth of the Party slows down….Hence we are waging a constant struggle for peace, against the restriction of democratic freedoms.

This, of course, does not lead us to the opportunistic conclusion that we can fight and win only in conditions of legality and extensive utilisation of democratic rights. However, the fact remains that in the present conditions the most favourable climate for Party growth is international detente, since this makes it easier to defend the democratic gains of the working people.”

(Oscar Vargas: World Marxist Review: Oct 196,3; p.61-2).

The trite rejection of opportunism offered by Vargas does not invalidate the charge which any honest militant must make against such a grossly renegade strategy as is offered by the Costa Rican “vanguard.” For of course, such a logic is clear. Imperialism, class struggle, brings the threat of repression which hampers the work of building an electoral party in conditions of class peace. Therefore a status quo of peace between labour and capital is vital if this work of conservation, the buffer preventing class confrontation can go on.

The theme was repeated in Chile, the same reformist dreams of “The British Road to Socialism” being applied to a situation where striking workers were murdered, where any substantiation to the claim to a “democratic facade” had been ripped away a decade ago by the brutal dictatorship of Gonzalez Videla which outlawed the Communist Party and subjected it to persecutions all too familiar under the heel of open reaction, and where any democratic facade exists merely as a perfected weapon for ensuring the continuation of bourgeois dictatorship by drawing to its assistance in this conspiracy the renegade “leaders” of the working people.

Thus the Chilean Communist Party leadership hotly denied any revolutionary intentions ascribed to it:

“What is needed … is to secure a turn to the left in national policy. . . .

Through the medium of parliament, municipal councils and public meetings, the Party constantly advances and supports all projects and measures designed to benefit the people. Reactionaries in the ranks of the Christian Democrats accuse the Communists of seeking bring down the government in order to take its place. But the resolute stand taken by the Communists has demonstrated the baselessness of this and has shown that the Communists are prompted by neither opportunist nor narrow tactical considerations.”

(World Marxist Review: November 1965; p.47)

The whimpering denial of opportunism appears like a Judas mark in the programmes of these guilty men who commit every anti-proletarian crime it is possible to imagine given that they propose and preach class peace in a continent whose peoples subsist in indescribable conditions of brutalising poverty and misery. Yet with every increase in reactionary terror, the subservience of these handmaidens of the bourgeoisie increases in proportion. Each decisive parliamentary defeat, such as occurred in Chile in 1964, is followed by an ever more eager act of grovelling to an ever more contemptuous, corrupt, and confident bourgeoisie.

The Brazilian Communist Party, the leading mouthpiece of right revisionism in Latin America had a carefully mapped out plan for “utilising democratic rights and liberties.” In 1964 it was striving by means of a system of “structural reforms” to win power by:

“. . . establishing a national and democratic government and laying the groundwork for far-reaching changes that would ensure complete political and economic liberation and pave the way for socialism,”

believing that:

“the basic task of the vanguard forces in the struggle for structural reforms now is to build up the national and democratic movements. It is along these lines that we envisage the possibility of a peaceful revolution.”

(World Marxist Review: Jan 1964; p.22)

However, these hopes were not to be realised. The coup which overthrew Goulart in 1964 and installed the rule of the generals smashed the “democratic” illusions of these men of peace, and the naive veneer given to the theoretical estimation of the Party’s errors, attempts to draw attention from the fact that the leaders of the Brazilian Party, especially Prestes, are well versed enough in political manoeuvring not to suffer the lack of experience they claim. Thus, analysing the errors of the Communist Party:

“We ourselves had not been prepared politically and ideologically and had not prepared the masses to repulse the violence of reaction. As a result of a not altogether correct formulation of the Fifth Congress which took as its guidelines the thesis of the 20th Congress of the CPSU, we inaccurately assessed the possibilities of the ‘peaceful path’, seeing revolution as an idyllic process, free of clashes and conflicts.

Due to this incorrect assessment the leadership failed to see the danger signals. Instead of calling on the masses to fight the danger of a rightist coup, it continued to demand the holding of plebiscite.”

(C Prestes: World Marxist Review; June 1968; p-17).

“Although we sensed a certain tension (! Ed) we failed to act accordingly”.

(World Marxist Review, February 1965; p.28)

Despite the “self-criticism” of the above – conducted purely in the realm of the senses though it is – the conclusion of the right revisionists is a remarkable piece of un-dialectical nonsense. For the failure to prepare for violent struggle, to see through the bluff, of parliamentary ‘legality’, were mistakes of a “leftist” character!

“The Sixth Congress rejected the view that the main mistakes made by the Party were the consequence of a right deviation and noted that they were, on the contrary, mistakes of a leftist, putschist and petty bourgeois character.”

(C Prestes: World Marxist Review; June 1968; p.17)

This massacre of the truth is necessary because, despite their “self-criticism,” despite the objective failure of their line, despite the setbacks to which their opportunism has led, they still intend to pursue their “peaceful” cause. The coup which installed a “semi-fascist political regime” will be destroyed through:

“Active opposition and vigorous mass actions (which) will reduce the regime’s socio-political basis and could lead to its defeat by non-violent means. Democratic action can compel the reactionary and defeatist minority to retreat and restore democratic rights.”

(Ibid.; p.18)

Of course, “it may turn out too, that the Party and the people will be compelled to resort to other, more elementary and particular forms of armed struggle.” But we can rest assured that the right revisionist leadership of the Brazilian Communist Party will do everything in its power to be true to the spirit and the letter of the passive “may” and place it far behind in its list of priorities.

Such is the face of right revisionism in Latin America.

It has been against this background of betrayal that the working people and peasant masses have been compelled to resort to spontaneous armed struggle – struggle which was, and largely remains, outside the framework of control of the revisionist parties of the right. In those countries where such armed struggle has already taken root and the masses of the working people are beginning to be drawn into the struggle against semi-colonial dictatorship and foreign imperialist oppression, the further result of this has been that those, communist parties subservient to Soviet right revisionism have been forced to pay lip service to armed struggle and modify their more blatant parliamentary transition formulas in a bid to regain the influence within the armed liberation fronts which previously they were threatened with losing completely.

In its wider context, this pragmatic and opportunist response to the spontaneous growth of armed struggle reflects the shift in policy on the part of the Soviet revisionist leadership which has taken place since Khrushchev’s overthrow – a shift away from “all-round cooperation with US imperialism” to one of striving for the establishment of independent spheres of influence in areas hitherto comprising sectors of the US sphere. Within the overall task of developing this policy, a certain independent sphere of operations in relation to the national liberation movements of the underdeveloped colonial and semi-colonial sectors of the world has been allotted to the so-called “centrist” bloc of revisionist communist parties and “socialist” states, of which Cuba is one, and has given rise to the need for lip-service to armed national liberation struggle to be admitted to the platforms of some, though by no means all, of the Latin American communist parties under the influence of Soviet revisionism.

An example of this is offered by the criticism of the 20th Congress formulations on peaceful transition and peaceful coexistence made by the Brazilian right revisionist leader, Prestes. The alternative to the long discredited right revisionist formulations put forward is the flexibly leftist slogan of “armed struggle as a tactic, democratic constitutional advance as a strategy”. With its perceptible overtones of Kautsky and Bernstein, this formulation neatly solves the dilemma of how to maintain the long-cherished peaceful transitional shibboleths of right revisionism, now becoming so tarnished, simply by reversing Marxist-Leninist theoretical principles and relegating to armed struggle a subordinate tactical role serving the main strategy of seeking to secure minor palliatives to the increasingly oppressive life of the working people through reforms and the ballot box.

The outcome of these opportunist policy manoeuvres has been that, utilising the dominant hold which they exercise over the apostle of “violent struggle” in Latin America, Fidel Castro and the Soviet revisionist leadership has been able to control the transition to support for “centrist” revisionist policies on the part of certain Latin American Communist Parties without loosening in any way their traditional control over the leaderships of those parties – and even in some cases to increase it through the prestige added by the accession of Castroite “centrist” revisionism to the overall force available to Soviet policy needs.

As for “left” revisionism and Trotskyism, these take many forms in Latin America. The case of Guevara and Debray, who take an “ultra-leftist” position themselves, while condemning the trotskyites as revisionists, has already been analysed. The lessons of their position, i.e. of an armed struggle divorced from any political and class organisation of the working people, have been borne home most clearly following the collapse of Guevara’s mission in Bolivia. So much so, that Arguedas, a firm sympathiser of the guerrillas, wrote as his epitaph to Guevara:

“… he failed because he did not have the support of the peasants and because the Bolivian people did not know the action programme of the guerillas.”

A lesson so elementary that it should hardly have required the sacrifice of so many aspiring national liberation fighters to make it known. And indeed, the lessons of this, collapse of “ultra-leftist” method and morale accompanying Guevara’s experiment were not lost on those forces which represent the national bourgeoisie with more perception than Guevara. They can have acted as yet one more forceful argument for Castro strengthening his “centrist”‘ position.

Trotskyism in Latin America – as represented particularly in Guatemala and Peru is “left” opportunism which claims a “theory” of socialist revolution. This “theory” completely denies the national democratic stage of the revolution in a colonial-type country and insists that “socialist revolution”‘ is at any given moment on the order of the day.

Its effect is to isolate the genuine revolutionary forces from class allies who stand objectively for the national democratic revolution, and without whose added weight imperialism cannot be defeated and the national democratic tasks achieved. In practice, however, they resort to all manner of semi-anarchist, syndicalist and outright irridentist ideologies in order to win bases amongst the peasantry and urban poor, purveying such illusions as the direct growth of the village peasant-commune into socialism, the romanticism of the primitive subsistence economy and so on.

In strategy and tactics, their aim is to sow the usual kind of confusion associated with their name, advocating peaceful legal advance in the manner of the right revisionists whenever and wherever an actual revolutionary situation is close at hand, and pressing for ultra-revolutionary forms of struggle whenever and wherever the revolutionary tide is temporarily on the ebb turn. Thus they contribute directly to rendering the more militant vanguard forces an easy and isolated target for imperialist guns. Within these overall perspectives of betrayal, however, the “socialist revolution” for which they aim is, as with the right revisionist communist parties, in essence a peaceful one.

Thus all of these trends, “left” or right, spell defeat and betrayal for the revolutionary aspirations of the working people of Latin America and the decimation of their actual or potential organisations, of struggle.

At the helm of all this confusion and betrayal, seeking to unite the political manifestations of bourgeois and petty bourgeois thinking within the forces of the developing national democratic and socialist revolutions of Latin America under the one “super revolutionary” centre, has stood the Cuban revisionist leadership. They have encouraged every kind of anti-proletarian and anti-Marxist-Leninist theory and practice, inspiring the most infantile forms of petty bourgeois leftism, and nationalist euphoria; and finally, they have resolved the failure of both “left” and right revisionism into the doctrine of a “centrist” revisionism, a position which has emerged as a specific heritage of the Cuban-revolution.

It is to an analysis of the Cuban development itself, therefore, that we must now turn.

ASSESSMENT OF THE CUBAN REVOLUTION

The Cuban Revolution represented a phenomenon with two contradictory sides.

One was the fundamentally positive fact that US imperialist domination over Latin America had been breached for the first time, and a nation free of US imperialist oppression and ranged in struggle against it now stood as a symbol of anti-imperialist liberation struggle for the peoples of the continent.

The second and negative side was that, from its inception, the Cuban Revolution was carried through not under the leadership of the working class in alliance with the poor peasantry and urban petty bourgeoisie but under that of forces representing the national bourgeoisie. This epoch is characterised by the onset of a world pre-revolutionary situation and the beginning of the disintegration of the imperialist world system. Therefore, this class basis can only serve its fundamental class interest and achieve, the construction of a form of capitalist society in the newly emerged nations, in as much as it succeeds in manoeuvring with the offer of its neo-colonial and comprador services between the various competing imperialist groups. This is a strategy which leads sooner or later to the incorporation of the newly-independent nation, willy-nilly, into the sphere of influence of another imperialist group, most likely one which is hostile to the imperialist power from which independence had originally been won.

The economic in-viability of Cuba – a fundamental feature inherited from the one-sided development imposed by US imperialist domination in the past – together with its geographically isolated position and economically unbalanced character, placed Cuba in a precarious position which rendered its newly-won independence highly vulnerable.

Debray seeks in his book to paint a glowing and utopian picture of the Castro leadership which completely ignores the historical facts and sets out to enshrine every trite phrase and thought of this leadership as valid “scientific truths.” It remains a quite obvious fact however, that Castro and those who fought with him to overthrow Batista were not Marxist-Leninists. Castro claims that the “Marxism-Leninism” of the Cuban leadership was learned during the course of the struggle. The absence of scientific revolutionary principle guiding a clear strategic perspective – fundamental necessities in any revolutionary process, whether national democratic or socialist in character, in which the working class fulfils the leading role and which is guided by a genuine Marxist-Leninist vanguard party – and the opportunist manoeuvring to which that absence inevitably leads.

These are all explained away by Debray, with the claim that the revolutionary process was undergoing a justifiable period of “trial and error” – not, be it understood, trial and error in the application of Marxist-Leninist science to the revolution but quite abstractly in the search for a “Cuban form of Marxism.”

Castro and the inceptive forces of the guerrilla movement which he led were urban petty bourgeois revolutionists acting objectively as the leading representatives of the Cuban national bourgeoisie. The rebellion based on the Sierra Maestra drew to the ranks of the rebel army recruits from the peasantry, the mass base of the petty bourgeoisie and, in the absence of a leading role fulfilled by the working class, formed the social arsenal of the national bourgeoisie.

The movement claimed to be a liberal alternative to the tyranny of Batista, the stench of whose corruption was believed by Castro to be a constant source of embarrassment to the United States – the diaries of Guevara in his Bolivian campaign imply that, in begging aid from US monopoly interests under the threat that US holdings would be confiscated in the event of victory in Bolivia if support for the insurgents were not forthcoming. In this he was merely repeating methods prominent in the early stage of the Cuban revolution itself. The “left” revisionists of the Castro/Guevara stamp, attempt to explain these away as “tactical” covers for their real “Marxist” aims.

Throughout the course of the struggle Castro increasingly won the support of the urban petty bourgeoisie and middle classes – the involvement of the working class taking place considerably later. The tone of the Castro leadership on the role of the working class, was that the working class should be thankful for its liberation at the hands of the petty bourgeois intelligentsia and peasantry. However, support for the rebels against the tyranny of Batista was sufficiently overwhelming in its scope to cause the United States, refrain from any serious attempt to maintain Batista in power by overt force, and to give only that amount of aid to Batista which would preserve US face with lesser tyrants of the Batista stamp throughout Latin America. Although a covert attempt using Cuban exiles to restore a US colonial-type puppet regime was launched later, with the abortive Bay of Pigs landing. These were the factors which assisted the seizure of power by the Castro leadership in 1959.

The victory of 1959 brought Castro his first lessons in the attempt to carry through reforms of a national and democratic character in the epoch of imperialism.

Whilst at the comparatively early stage of establishing his bases in the Sierras, Castro had approached the lawyer, Urrutia, with an offer that he should form a government when victory was won – an offer which was accepted and implemented in 1959. Urrutia was a representative of the nascent Cuban national bourgeoisie, but nevertheless one of the first acts of his government was to approach US imperialism with assurances that his government intended to continue the semi-colonial status of Cuba, and to maintain the traditional agrarian structure of the economy and economic dependence on the US. It was only the rejection of these assurances by the US and the latter’s refusal to recognise the Castro regime which compelled the subsequent alignment with the Soviet Union.

As for Castro himself, it was a typical and in view of the later developments, an ironic expression of the spirit of the expediently opportunist freebooter that he was ready and willing to place his services at the disposal of the highest bidder, that he did not conceive of taking any initiative in the political and state affairs, of the new government.

All the evidence shows that Castro did not wish to govern on behalf of any defined class. He saw his role as that of a latter-day Garibaldi effecting a purely military liberation on behalf of abstract “liberty, equality and fraternity” and then handing over power to a vague and undefined “liberal intelligentsia”, i.e., to elements of the national bourgeoisie which, at that stage, had no conception of the revolution winning for them full national independence from US imperialism, and who merely wished to extend somewhat the scope of their economic holdings and the degree of their participation in and control over the state and administration.

According to the terms of the Urrutia government’s approach to the US, agrarian landlordism, the security of US holdings in both agriculture and such service industries as existed and the corresponding structure of feudal and comprador relations, were to remain essentially untouched and only subjected to a degree of mild reform. Only the short-sighted rejection by the US of these proposals for the reform of the semi-colonial structure of Cuba as it had existed under the corrupt and brutal reign of Batista finally compelled Castro and his followers both to take up themselves the reigns of state and to implement measures designed to secure independence from the USan independence the only available economic foundation for which was, ultimately alignment with the Soviet neo-imperialist bloc.

Amongst the first measures enacted was the land reform – a step which was essential if the base of peasant support was to be maintained. The confiscation of large holdings, particularly those owned by foreign capital, brought down the wrath of US imperialism.

For Castro the second dilemma and the second lesson had begun.

Despite numerous manoeuvres to outwit the Imperialists and to prevent their hostility and inevitable embargos on trade, the US in traditionally short-sighted fashion, declared its hostility and began to threaten Cuba with economic reprisals. Castro, countering this blackmail as best he could, entered into trade agreements with the Soviet Union, intending to walk the tightrope of a balance between the two blocs which would ensure Cuba’s economic future without drastic political shifts.

However, the breach was forced by US imperialism with the cutting of the quota for the import of Cuban sugar, forcing Castro to look elsewhere for cheaper supplies consequent upon the loss of US dollars. There followed a train of reprisals and counter-reprisals culminating in the Soviet offer to buy Cuban sugar (at an unspecified price) and to meet the Cuban demand for oil. The refusal of the US to refine Soviet oil, was met by Castro’s nationalisation of the key US interests in Cuba as a final and irrevocable reprisal. The course of Castro’s future was now set – a future which had originally never been intended or planned; but which had developed piecemeal out of the course of events. By 1963, according to Castro, the trade balance with the Soviet Union had risen to over one hundred million dollars.

This nationalisation, as we are now informed by the Cuban “Marxist- Leninists”, represented the “socialist revolution.”

However, in reality it represented an inevitable move which Castro, representing the national bourgeoisie, was forced to make given that he was fighting for his economic life and needed to trade with whomsoever would offer these services. But dependence on trade with the Union and being totally at the mercy of the defence protection, of the “nuclear umbrella” brought with it the expected penalty. Castro, the man who had hitherto publicly denounced Marxism-Leninism and denied any affinity with “communists” now began to air his brains in public and to take the first carefully rehearsed steps towards embracing Marxism-Leninism as avidly as he was later to embrace Khruchshev.

The previous emphasis on the role of the intellectuals as the leading force in the revolution, and as the “liberators of the working class” was now dressed up in a more conventional “Marxist-Leninist” disguise to accord with the announcement of the “socialist revolution” albeit a multifarious class definition typical of national bourgeois “socialism”:

“the labouring masses, the farmers, the student masses, the masses of the poor, the underprivileged mass of our nation, significant portions of the middle class, sections of the petty bourgeoisie, intellectual workers, made Marxism-Leninism their own, made the struggle for the Socialist Revolution their own.”

(F Castro: “Castro Denounces Sectarianism”, March 1962, p.13)

One of the penalties for the alignment with the Soviet Union was the loss of middle class support – a section which had supported Castro whole-heartedly during the struggle for power. These now filed in large numbers to Miami, plotting counterrevolution, and thereby weakening considerably the already overstrained technical and administrative cadre force and heightening social tensions. It was, at this point that the other long arm of revisionism, that from within Cuba itself, came into its own.

The history of the Cuban Communist Party offers an appalling record: of opportunism and class betrayal.

Based mainly on the urban working-class and aimed at building a mass social-democratic party, engaged in negotiations for economic improvements to the exclusion of almost all other forms of struggle and bound up with unprincipled agreements and alliances with whatsoever dictator happened to be in power, it was only to be expected that it could play no role in the struggle to overthrow Batista. Denouncing Castro as a mere adventurer, in the early days of the guerrilla struggle, and effectively assisting the sabotage of all attempts by the guerrillas to mobilise urban strikes,it only changed its tactics in the later stages, when the victory of Castro was already clearly inevitable. At this stage, certain leading revisionists were sent to join the guerrillas, with the aim of establishing the first bridgehead within the revolutionary forces in preparation for the later penetration of the right-revisionist party into the anti-imperialist front and the newly-founded national democratic state.

In the period immediately following the seizure of power, the clear anti-communist content of the half-hearted national democratic revolution which was “spontaneously developing,” effectively blocked the entrance of careerist-minded revisionist party members into positions of influence in the state. But this situation changed radically when apathy began to strike the middle class and comprador-orientated bourgeoisie after the confiscation of their property and the establishment of the open alliance with the Soviet Union, and especially after significant numbers of these strata had begun to desert to the Florida mainland. In the chaos of Castro’s “spontaneously developing” revolution the tried and tested organisation men of the revisionist party were drafted in large numbers in an effort to stem the growing confusion and pull together the basis of a workable economic and political system – matters which Castro had formerly considered could be left to merge spontaneously with the passage of time.

Thus arose the third of Castro’s dilemmas.

He had given up the political initiative almost completely. The revisionists, “always intent on mere political questions,” as Debray spurningly pointed, out, had after all played one better than the child of spontaneity, Castro. The price Castro had to pay for a viable political and, administrative apparatus was the achievement by the right-revisionists of an increasingly dominant role in party and state, despite their history of betrayal during the struggles leading to the overthrow of Batista.

Through a combination of external pressure from the Soviet Union, including economic blackmail, and internal penetration by the agents of Soviet revisionism, the indigenous revisionist leaders, Castro and his old guard of insurrectionists were gradually out-manoeuvred and sewn up in a web of inexorable dependence and commitment. No doubt, this was to the horror of the existentialist coterie of sun-seekers of the Sartre ilk who had seen in the Cuban development, the embodiment of their ideas about a liberal spontaneous revolution giving birth to an anarchistic utopia around which they could spin the subject matter for countless bestsellers.

The merciless straitjacket of unequal colonial-type economic relations, together with the necessity for a heavy defence programme in the face of the increasingly aggressive posture of US imperialism in the period prior to the 1962 crisis, represented further pressures inexorably pushing Cuba into dependence on the Soviet Union. The ominous features of the limited crop economy, had once again begun to dominate economic development.

The political counterpart of this situation of dependence, expressed the reciprocal need of the Soviet revisionist world centre to “explain” the obvious contradiction of a successful armed revolution taking place in an epoch the main feature of which was allegedly “the peaceful co-existence of states with differing social systems.” This was reflected in the corresponding determination of the Cuban right-revisionist party leadership to build and maintain the myth of Cuba as an example of “peaceful transition” in line with the precepts of the Khrushchevite international programme as laid down by the infamous 20th Congress Report:

“It was precisely in conditions of peaceful coexistence between states with different social systems that the socialist revolution triumphed in Cuba.”

(Letter of CC of CPSU to CC of CCP, March 30th, 1963. Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1965. p. 507).

From the crisis of 1962, the starting duplicity of Castro in adopting his new subservient position was revealed.

Castro, who was later to announce demagogically:

“We will never make ideological concessions, and we will maintain an unyielding Marxist-Leninist position.”

(F. Castro: “This is our Line Havana 1963; p.79)

Then begins Castro’s remarkable history –

of bear hugs with the chief spokesmen of modern revisionism followed by denunciations of those same spokesmen;

of his statements supporting “peaceful struggle” followed by statements supporting armed struggle;

and his steadily increasing subservient role assisting the propaganda line of the Soviet revisionists in the Great Debate, with the deceptively “principled”, contention that “Division in the face of the enemy was never a revolutionary or intelligent strategy”;

all culminating in the carefully timed attacks on the Chinese government over alleged “cut-backs” in the promised rice quota.

This latter ‘news’ on the rice quotas, was leaked on the eve of the Three Continents Conference in Havana in order to cause the maximum damage to the prestige of the Chinese party and state throughout the national liberation movements. It was intended to act as an ameliorative gesture,  to off-set the criticisms of those aspects of Soviet policy which reflected the residual influence of Khrushchevite doctrine, now inimical to Castro’s new role. It was intended to demonstrate to the Soviet neo-capitalist class in unequivocal terms just where the support and sympathy of the Cuban national bourgeoisie and its “centrist” revisionist representatives lay in regard to the growing struggle between the Soviet and Chinese leadership.

Castro, however, in his attempts to reconcile service to the interests of his indigenous class, the Cuban national bourgeoisie, with the fulfillment of a comprador role on behalf of Soviet neo-imperialism, has often proved a difficult and demanding pawn.

Castro has sought to retain as an essential ingredient of his “centrist” revisionist position, the right to criticism of Soviet policies wherever these tended to conflict with the long-term aims of the Cuban national bourgeoisie.

The Guevara adventure in Bolivia thus represented an attempt to raise the bargaining counter of the Cuban national bourgeoisie with Soviet right revisionism, and its failure merely confirming the inadequacy of “leftist” methods of struggle and the superiority of the “centrist” revisionist disguise. In almost all cases, the crux of these Castroite and Gueverist criticisms has been those aspects of Soviet policy reflecting the continuation of a Khrushchevite stance towards US imperialism or its comprador puppets in Latin America. However the necessity which the Castro leadership feels for the military and economic protection which the Soviet Union alone can provide against US threats of aggression compels them to lend their support to every fundamental policy statement and action of the Soviet leadership, and to place Cuba at its disposal as the base of operations for right revisionism on the Latin American continent.

It was under Castro’s auspices that the OLAS and Tricontinental Conferences were able to serve the policy aims of Soviet neo-imperialism, which envisage not only the building of “anti-imperialist” and, where necessary, armed national liberation movements under “centrist” revisionist leadership, but also the incorporation of existing national bourgeois or even comprador-bourgeois states and governments into its sphere of influence. This has already been effected, for example, with a certain measure of success in Peru. Thereby effecting the reciprocal utilisation of both rightist and “centrist” revisionist policy methods. In this way, the former implements the classical techniques of international diplomacy and “power politics” through the direct agency of the Soviet Union on behalf of its neo-imperialist aims;whilst the latter seeks to mobilise the working people and their movements of struggle in the same neo-imperialist cause by presenting the necessary “left” demagogic appeal.

Thus it is that, under the overall condition of a former semi-colony newly emerged from imperialist domination, with an urban and rural proletariat, labouring peasantry and urban petty bourgeoisie amongst which revolutionary feeling is at a high level, any national capitalist class attempting to build a viable system of state capitalism can only hold out for itself any prospect of success provided that it can utilise to some degree the ideological strength and power for conviction and mobilisation of proletarian ideology and organisation of Marxism-Leninism.

This type of social development may be characterised in general terms as the demagogic abuse of the international working class and communist movement, of its world view, Marxism-Leninism, and of its organised strength and influence in order to bend them to the service of the enemies of the working class and socialism, amongst which the national capitalist classes of colonial-type countries emerging from imperialist domination must ultimately be placed, whatever class alliances may appertain in the period of the national democratic revolution.

In this light, the case of Cuba illustrates with convincing clarity an example of the harnessing of the potential or actual forces of the socialist revolution, the exploited and oppressed proletariat, poor peasantry and urban petty bourgeoisie, to the task of establishing not the socialist system under the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat, but a system of centralised state capitalism of a bureaucratic and comprador type under the dictatorship, albeit concealed by demagogic “left” phraseology, of the national bourgeoisie, and under the conditions of intensified class struggle and heightened inter-imperialist competition typical of the contemporary advanced stage the disintegration of the imperialist world system.

CONCLUSION

The collaboration between “centrist” and right revisionism which forms the predominant basis of policy amongst a majority of Communist Parties of Latin America, with the “Communist Party” of Cuba acting as a comprador-type overseer on behalf of the Soviet Union, reflects the unsuitability of  a purer “left” revisionism as an ideological mask enabling the national bourgeoisie to gain control of the national democratic revolutions and to determine their development and the class composition of their forces in their own class interest, in at least the majority of states concerned and under the objective conditions as they have shaped themselves up till the present time.

Left revisionism tends to find the appropriate objective conditions for its application and a fertile subjective ground for its dissemination and growth primarily in national and political terrains in which not only the objective conditions for the onset of the national democratic revolution are present – this in itself is also a feature of the situation in many American states – but also where a militant and politically conscious working class and a more or less powerful Marxist-Leninist vanguard are, or at the least have been in the past, to some degree in control of the revolutionary process of at least participants in it.

In view of the progressive undermining and final liquidation of the world communist movement through modern revisionism since approximately 1943-45, the presence of such features in a national democratic revolutionary movement in a colonial or semi-colonial country since World War Two, in spite of a majority of the leadership having long since fallen into the hands of “left” revisionists, must be attributed to the persisting influence of the Communist International and the continuing presence in the leadership of the leading cadres trained by it during the period prior to World War Two.

These features are, of course, typical of the development of the Chinese revolution and of the Communist Party of China. They are almost totally absent from the histories of the national liberation and working class movements of the Latin American states and their communist parties.

Where, however, such a Marxist-Leninist leadership, or at least a Marxist-Leninist contingent within a “left” revisionist led party and movement, is present, its defeat and dismemberment is clearly an absolutely prime necessity if the national bourgeoisie is to succeed in its aim of wresting the leadership out of the hands of the Marxist-Leninists and of consolidating it in the sole hands of their revisionist representatives.

The fact that, in Cuba itself, no Marxist-Leninist party, or even a Marxist-Leninist contingent within the leadership of the party, was present requiring ideological penetration, dismemberment and capture, in order to transform that party as a whole into a tool of national bourgeois aims and aspirations, rendered it easier for the petty bourgeois representatives of the national bourgeoisie to control the direction.

It rendered it possible for the petty bourgeois representatives of the national bourgeoisie to win victory in the national democratic revolution by purely military means, without’ the fusion of political and military forms of struggle and without a political party and an organisational centre for the mobilization of the masses, through the sole agency of a small elitist guerrilla force of predominantly petty bourgeois composition, is also symptomatic of the objective conditions and subjective characteristics of the movements of the oppressed in at least the smaller and weaker states of the Latin American continental mainland.

In spite of the many features specific and peculiar to it, the Cuban revolution, however, was not an isolated, once for all time phenomenon. Still less does it represent an example of “specific national roads to socialism” beloved of Khrushchevian revisionist “theory.” It took place and won victory, on the contrary, precisely within the general context of:

“a world pre-revolutionary situation. As in all pre-revolutionary situations, the primary aim of the class struggles, including national liberation struggles, now beginning to unfold on a world-wide front between the world proletarian forces and the imperialist bourgeoisie is a struggle to determine which of these two fundamentally opposed world class forces shall win the allegiance of the intermediate exploited and oppressed classes and strata, of which the most significant are the peasant masses of the colonial periphery of imperialism and the petty bourgeois and professional middle strata in the developed imperialist countries which are undergoing a process of intensified proletarianisation, and so to achieve on behalf of its class interest the decisive strategic advantage in the coming final stages of the world proletarian socialist revolution.”

(Programmatic Manifesto of the Marxist-Leninist Organisation of Britain; p.22)

The upsurge of national liberation struggles and national democratic revolutions in the colonial and semi-colonial lands, including those of Latin America, forms one of the most prominent features in the process of disintegration of the world imperialist system at the present stage in the development of the general crisis of capitalism.

It is they which are contributing directly to the process of disintegration of the established imperialist power groups and to the break-up of the existing inter-imperialist balance of power, and which are effectively assisting in the formation of new imperialist-type power groups and a new inter-imperialist balance of power centred around the entry of the new neo-imperialist or state capitalist nations – primarily the Soviet Union, but including, at a lower stage of capitalist development, China and India, the total population resources of which alone amount to some 1,400 millions – into the already saturated capitalist world market.

As far as the future development of the world proletarian socialist revolution is concerned, the crucial issue confronting the national liberation movements at the present time is, however, the issue of which class shall lead the revolution, the national bourgeoisie or the working class.

On the outcome of this issue depends the solution to the question, of absolutely fundamental significance, as to:

“Whether or not the working people of the developing nations at present fighting for their liberation from imperialist colonial enslavement, for national independence and democratic rights and liberties, will succeed in bypassing the perspective of a more or less protracted period of capitalist development and will succeed in establishing new socialist states under the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat?”

Such a victory for the world proletarian socialist revolution  would so weaken the already intolerably unstable and crisis-ridden world capitalist system as to render its continued operation virtually impossible.

Alternatively, on the other hand, the victory of the national democratic revolution in the colonial-type lands would merely  lead to the establishment of new independent capitalist states which will thus provide a sorely needed extension to the total area and resources of the world capitalist system and so give it a new lease of life. This latter has already taken place in a whole number of formerly colonial or semi-colonial lands since the end of world war two, including People’s China, India, Egypt and, of course, Cuba.

The entire evidence provided by the experience of the new features in the development of the world proletarian socialist revolution since World War Two indicates strongly that

Only when the working class movements in the developed countries join with the working peoples of the colonial-type lands to form a common world-wide anti-imperialist front,

Only when powerful and influential Marxist-Leninist parties, capable of securing leadership over the entire revolutionary process in both types of countries have been built and are able to wield that decisive ideological and political initiative and influence which can ensure the leading role being fulfilled by the working class in both strategic world sectors, and so laying the basis for the uninterrupted transition of the national democratic to the socialist revolution in the colonial-type lands and for the victory of the latter in both; and, finally,

Only when the world Marxist-Leninist leadership of the world proletarian socialist revolution has developed to a point where a mighty Marxist-Leninist international is forged capable of uniting, integrating and directing the revolutionary struggles in both world sectors against the common imperialist class enemy, of elaborating a world strategic and tactical programme of general offensive on all fronts and in all sectors based on advanced scientific theory –

Then, and only then, will it be possible for the working people of any one sector, in the developed or the under-developed lands, to advance to the victory of the socialist revolution and so to bring the epoch of capitalism to its close and to commence anew, and on an infinitely higher level than previously, the epoch of world-wide socialist construction.

For the present; therefore, and until such time as the revolutionary proletariat in both the developed and the colonial-type lands, realise the primary and indispensable tasks of revolutionary leadership and organisation, particularly as regards the building of the Marxist-Leninist vanguard, the predominant influence in the national democratic movements in the underdeveloped colonial world sector is likely to remain in the hands of the national bourgeoisie and its petty bourgeois revisionist representatives.

But each and every such instance of a national arena of capitalist development being opened up, under the conditions of a congested and saturated capitalist world market, merely serves, in the longer or perhaps the shorter run, to add new components of mounting contradiction to the already unstable situation in the world capitalist system. The monopoly capitalists of the developed imperialist countries, faced with the shrinking of the relative size and resources of the colonial sector relative to the developed sector, are attempting to obtain a significant intensification of the rate of exploitation in both the colonial areas that remain and, in an effort to offset the inevitable decline in super-profits, in the developed countries themselves.

Only provided that Marxist-Leninist vanguard parties are built in both the developed and the colonially subjugated sectors of the world will this intensification of exploitation and oppression result in a qualitative raising of the level of class militancy and capacity for struggle of the working masses, to their revolutionisation.

In other circumstances, including those at present appertaining in which the leading influence is fulfilled by social democratic and right revisionist representatives of monopoly capital in the developed countries and by a combination of right, “centrist” and “left” revisionist representatives of the national or the comprador bourgeoisie in the colonial-type countries, the outcome of the world reactionary offensive now in preparation could equally well be a series of bloody defeats for the working people and their organisations of struggle and the descent of the blackest night of fascist repression that the world has yet seen.

The law of uneven development will undergo and is undergoing an equally profound and far reaching intensification of its mode of operation, thus accelerating the process of break-up of the existing imperialist and capitalist power groups and the formation of new ones anxious to secure a re-division of the total area and resources of maximum exploitation available to the capitalist world system, which are continually shrinking relative to the rapidly increasing rate at which capital tends to be amassed, and which are indispensable for securing that maximum rate of profit so essential if the inherent tendency under state monopoly capitalism for the rate of profit to fall is to be offset. These fundamental contradictions in their turn prepare the conditions for the outbreak of yet another imperialist world war more devastating both in its scope and its revolutionary effect than any previously known, and so also preparing for the transformation of that war, in area after area, country after country, into, socialist revolutions.

These are the profound and climactic contradictions which are even now accumulating under the surface of the world capitalist system, and it is against this background that the teachings of Guevara and Debray relative to the struggle in Latin America must be critically evaluated.

Marxism-Leninism teaches, and all experience of the world’s working class, and oppressed peoples in struggle confirms that only through the unity of the working class of all lands, forged through the exercise of leadership and an overall guiding function on the part of powerful Marxist-Leninist parties, and through the unity of all non-proletarian classes and, strata behind that Marxist-Leninist proletarian vanguard in a mighty world anti-imperialist united front, can victory in the national-democratic revolution in the colonial-type lands be secured in such a way as to ensure that that victory leads:

Not to the development and consolidation, on however temporary or unstable a basis, of new, independent neo-capitalist states (which will merely substitute exploitation by the established imperialist oppressor nations for exploitation by the indigenous national bourgeoisie and so assist in increasing, again on however temporary or unstable a basis, the total arena and resources of the world capitalist system and to lengthen by a span of a few years or decades its bloodthirsty, profit hungry life);

But that that victory will lead instead to the weakening and restricting of its arena, resources and span of life, to the choking of the arteries feeding it with the super profits which are its very life blood, to the formation of a mighty and growing chain of national democratic and socialist revolutions encircling it with a steel ring of proletarian power which steadily suffocates and finally annihilates it.

In the developed countries, it is bureaucratic social democracy, reformism, revisionism of the right and trotskyism which constitute the chief weapons of the monopoly capitalist class in frustrating and diverting the potential or actual revolutionary energies of the working class and working people.

In the colonial-type lands, it is “left” and, where appropriate, “centrist” revisionism, likewise assisted by trotskyite disruption, which fulfill this function. Within this international apparatus of counter-revolutionary disruption, a certain clearly definable division of labour can be discerned.

It is the function of social democracy and reformism in the developed countries, and of liberal-anarchist ideas of spontaneous revolution in the colonial type areas of maximum exploitation, to act respectively as the instruments for undermining the unity of the class forces themselves, of the mass base, potential or actual, of the developing class struggle and/or revolutionary movements.

On the other hand, it is the function of revisionist teaching – in developed countries mainly of the right, and in colonial-type lands mainly of either “left” or “centrist” varieties – to weaken the struggle waged by the most advanced and class conscious proletarian elements to forge powerful, steeled and united Marxist-Leninist vanguard parties without which the socialist revolution and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat remain mere empty dreams, vistas of mechanical scheming or the subjective projection of idle wishes.

In the relationship between mass base and vanguard, it is the vanguard which must first be establish even if only in embryo, if the whole revolutionary process in a given country is to develop into the structure of proletarian power capable of incepting and carrying through the socialist revolution directly in the case of the developed countries, through the intermediate stage of the national democratic revolution in the case of the colonial-type lands.

In both these types of revolution, a clear kinship exists between the older variants of bourgeois ideology typical of a capitalist class in the period of its youth, represented by liberal spontaneity and anarchistic insurrectionism of the Garibaldist or Blanquist type, and the more sophisticated right, “left” and “centrist”‘ variants of revisionism which form typical anti-proletarian ideological weapons of an aspiring capitalist class in an underdeveloped country which is struggling for ascendancy and independence within a world environment and under the conditions of an epoch in which capitalism is lying mortally sick upon its deathbed.

Both deny the revolutionary historical mission of the proletariat;

Both deny the need for the violent, forcible overthrow of the rule of the capitalist class – “left” revisionism advocating the use of armed force solely against the comprador, imperialist-orientated section of the capitalist class in a colonial-type country;

Both deny the need for the independent revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat armed with scientific Marxist-Leninist theory.

The petty bourgeois insurrectionist theories of Guevara and Debray form the logical inheritance and continuation of the classical ideas of spontaneous revolt first developed by the European bourgeoisie in the 19th century. The characterisation of the bourgeois ideological basis and antecedents of “left” revisionism contained in the Report of the CC of the MLOB, “Proletarian Internationalism: The Key to Victory in Anti-Imperialist Struggle and Socialist Revolution”, is as applicable to the unsuccessful, misapplied and naive variant of “left” revisionism concocted Guevara and Debray out of the historically superceded lees of liberal anarchist theories of spontaneous “uprisings of the freedom loving people” as ever it was to the more astute variant of “left” revisionism devised by Mao Tse-tung:

“When we consider the development of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in Europe, we find that the petty bourgeoisie , played a generally analogous role to the one it later came to play in the colonial national democratic revolutions of the epoch of imperialism. . .the prime need (of the capitalist class – Ed.) was to hold in check the independent revolutionary class aspirations of the proletariat, and to harness its energies to the task of the bourgeois democratic revolution whilst simultaneously preventing them from leading to the fulfillment of the revolutionary aim of socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat. In all the developing capitalist nations of Europe to which the bourgeois democratic revolution spread in 1848-9, therefore, the leading role was played by bourgeois or petty bourgeois leaders..

‘Leftist’ phraseology and the rabble-rousing slogans of anarchism are always and everywhere the essential disguise of rightism, of policies designed to assist and strengthen the class position and forces of the capitalist class in the face of the growing or potential offensive of the proletariat. . . . Just as the counterpart in practice of the utopian theories of Proudhon were the state sweatshops for the unemployed workers of Paris established by Louis Blanc, similarly Mao Tse-tung’s leftist battle-cries directed at the emerging and developing, but as yet immature, proletarian classes and their potential petty bourgeois allies in the colonial lands have their essential counterpart in the so-called- “Three-way Revolutionary Committees”, in which the long-discredited.utopia of the “union of capital and labour”, is dragged from the oblivion to which Marx condemned it…”

(Proletarian Internationalism: Report of the CC of the MLOB in “Red Front”, March/April 1968; p.vii)

With the defeat of this peculiarly Latin American revisionist hybrid, the same demagogic mantle of revisionist deception has fallen upon the shoulders of the “centrist” revisionists headed by the Castro clique, acting as a semi-independent “left”-wing of the Soviet neo-imperialism. If this new and perhaps even more, insidious ideological and political weapon of the national bourgeoisies of the Latin American states is to be exposed and defeated and the hegemony of the working class and of scientific Marxist-Leninist theory in the Latin American revolutionary movement secured, a persistent-and wide-ranging struggle must be waged by the Marxist-Leninists of all lands against it.

There are no short cuts to the socialist revolution. The struggle to develop and change man’s social practice, and the thought processes which consciously guide that practice, is a protracted and arduous one. In the course of this struggle, the development of conscious revolutionary thought and practice on the part of the most advanced and consistently revolutionary class produced by history, the proletariat, is characterised at all stages by the close interaction of theory and practice, culminating in the scientific principles of Marxism-Leninism and of its fundamental theoretical guide to action, dialectical-materialism, and their embodiment in the vanguard class party of the new type.

This final embodiment of the science of socialist revolution and of socialist revolution as a science, when theory and practice become so united as to be indivisibly fused together, is precisely what the “social scientists” of the bourgeoisie are most concerned to frustrate and disrupt by whatever means they find to hand inherited from the theories and practice of pre-scientific utopian or reformist schools – and amongst these modern “mystical schoolmen” of piecemeal reform or spontaneous revolt must be included not only such representatives of the right as Khruschev, Togliatti or Gollan, but also such leftist figures as Debray, Guevara and Castro.

The struggle to build the vanguard Leninist party of the proletariat involves such tasks as the inner-movement struggle within the revisionist and reformist parties and organisations, work amongst all sectors of the working population to win them for a common front of struggle, actions at the most basic level to build militant, class-orientated organisations where previously none existed, the achievement of a correct balance between legal and illegal, armed and political, forms of struggle, and so on. At every level, the process is an extremely complex and many-sided one. It is a test which only those who genuinely uphold, the cause of the working class and working people are prepared to stand.

That is why Guevara, Debray and others present such a disillusioned picture to the world once they enter from the realm of their subjective fantasies into the world of class reality. In their “theory” the peasantry existed as an idealised force which could do no wrong; the grim reality of the Bolivian adventure revealed besides Debray’s dilettantism, the fundamental scorn for the peasantry into which Guevara’s earlier idealism was transformed as a consequence of his inability to change that reality. The diaries, with their self-pitying descriptions of ignorant and suspicious peasants threatening to betray the self-styled advance guard of the revolution constitute an elitist petty bourgeois testament which marks a disgaceful end for those who had claimed to aspire so high. And it is perhaps from this last fact that the final lesson of the Guevara-Debray affair can be most clearly drawn: that the subjective desires of any aspiring revolutionary are less than nothing in value to the revolutionary cause and will be cast aside as such if they are not based on Marxist-Leninist scientific theory.

By Cmde M.S. For the MLOB;

Dated 1968

Source

The Doctor’s Plot

Vrachi-timashuk

This article was published by Alliance (Marxist-Leninist) as part of the publication Alliance, issue #30, “Marx, Lenin and Stalin on Zionism.”

Over this entire period another phenomena was taking place, the distortion of a legitimate anti-cosmopolitanism campaign into an illegitimate anti-Semitic campaign. An increasing number of articles in the press accused persons of “Cosmopolitanism,” but:

“More and more the attacks take an anti-Jewish character, as most of the attacked bear distinctly Jewish names, often given in brackets next to their Russified names. From November 1948 onward, the Soviet authorities start a deliberate campaign to liquidate what is left of Jewish culture. The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee is dissolved, its members arrested. Jewish literature is removed from bookshops and libraries, and the last two Jewish schools are closed. Jewish theatres, choirs and drama groups, amateur as well as professional, are dissolved. Hundreds of Jewish authors, artists, actors and journalists are arrested. During the same period, Jews are systematically dismissed from leading positions in many sectors of society, from the administration, the army, the press, the universities and the legal system. Twenty-five of the leading Jewish writers arrested in 1948 are secretly executed in Lubianka prison in August 1952. The anti-Jewish campaign culminates in the arrest, announced on January 13, 1953, of a group of ‘Saboteurs-Doctors’ accused of being paid agents of Jewish-Zionists organizations and of planning to poison Soviet leaders. Fears spread in the Jewish community that these arrests and the show trial that is bound to follow serve as a pretext for the deportation of Jews to Siberia. But on March 5, 1953, Stalin unexpectedly dies. The ‘Doctor”s Plot’ was exposed as a fraud, the accused are released, and deportation plans, already discussed in the Politburo, are dropped.”

Web site Beyond The Pale; Op Cit:
http://www.friends-partners.org/partners/beyond-the-pale/english/62.html

The class struggle in the USSR was culminating in a frenzied atmosphere, where one strand that was being used by the revisionists was a mounting awareness of an anti-Semitic campaign. This melded the closing of the JAFC into the new plot – the so called “Doctor’s Plot”:

“On 12 August 1952, a group of former JAFC members, convicted by the Military Collegium of the USSR Supreme Court, were put before a firing squad. Many other people of Jewish nationality – 110 in all -were arrested in connection with the JAG case on charges of ‘espionage’ and “anti-Soviet Jewish nationalist activity.” At the time of the trial of the JAG members, preparation of the Doctors’ Plot reached its final stage.”

Iakov Etinger; “The Doctors’ Plot,” Ibid; p. 104.

The Doctor’s Plot was according to the Khruschevite revisionists, entirely the fabrication of Stalin, and they claim credit as the ones who exonerated the Doctors named:

“Stalin… issued orders to arrest a group of eminent Soviet medical specialists.. When we examined this “case” after Stalin’s death, we found it to be fabricated from beginning to end.”

N.S.Khruschev: Secret Speech to 20th party Congress; CPSU, In: “The anti-Stalin Campaign and International Communism: A Selection of Documents”; New York; 1956; p.64.

However it is known that Stalin was dubious about the whole notion of the “Doctors’ Plot.”

When he was first informed his reaction was characteristically blunt.
When Stalin first heard about the alleged “Doctors’s Plot” he dismissed it.
It should also be noted that Stalin’s death was certainly not caused by inappropriate medical attention – but in sharp contrast – by the very deliberate lack or withholding of medical attention. (See Bland’s chronology of events in “Death Of Stalin”; Ibid.)

In 1948, an allegation was made by a Dr Lydia Timashuk, described as a “rank-and-file” doctor, against medical experts. She alleged there had been:

“intentional distortions in medical conclusions made by major medical experts who served as consultants in the hospital. She exposed their criminal designs and thus opened the eyes of security bodies to the existence of the infamous conspiracy.”

Rapoport Y: “Doctors’s Plot: Stalin’s Last Crime”: London; 1991; p.77.

Although Khrushchev alleged that Stalin was behind “this ignominious case,” (Khrushchev secret speech op cit; p. 65) other commentators tell us that:

“Stalin had strong doubts about Timashuk’s allegations.”

Grey I: “Stalin: Man of History”; London; 1979; p.461.

And Stalin’s daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva wrote:

“My father’s housekeeper told me not long ago that my father was extremely distressed at the turn events took… She was waiting on table as usual, when my father remarked that he did not believe the doctors were ‘dishonest’ and that the only evidence against them, after all were the ‘reports’ of Dr. Timashuk.”

Alliyeuva S; ibid; p.215.

Again it is only Khrushchev or Sudoplatov, who can confirm that Stalin supposedly “changed his mind” after a full investigation. (Khrushchev N: “Khrushchev Remembers”; London; 1971; p.283).

Victor Abakumov, was placed in charge of the investigation of Dr Timashuk’s allegations. It was in 1950 that the first arrest took place, with that of Dr Yakov Ettinger at the First Ggradeskaya Hospital of Moscow. (Rappoport Op Cit; p. 24).

However in 1951, Victor Abakumov was then himself arrested, on the charge of “lack of vigilance in connection with the “Leningrad Affair”:

“In.. 1951.. Abakumov was arrested.. He was taken to the Lyubanka and put in solitary confinement. Several of his deputies and several dozen state security officers were arrested along with him… The charges brought against Abakumov at that time were that he had not recognised the enemy of the people during his handling of the ‘Leningrad Affair’.. In September 1951 none other than Khrushchev .. Echoed Stalin’s charge that Abakumov and his officers had failed to recognise the enemy of the people in the northern city’s Party apparatus.”

P.Deriabin: “Watchdogs of Terror:Russian bodyguards from Tsars to Commissars”; USA; 1984; p.316-317.

How did the whole matter get started, and who were the players behind it?

As stated above, the accusations were a matter of four years old. They had been put aside as an un-proven allegation. It is speculative, but they might be seen as having been sent by a potentially disgruntled employee.

The allegations were put aside until, the accusation became expedient to serve as a further means of sabotage. In other words to disrupt the faithful Marxist-Leninist ring around Stalin; and to inflame the population with a divisive anti-Semitism.

Dr Lydia Timashuk had been the original complainer, and she received the Order of Lenin for her work, in 1953:

“On 21 January 1953, the newspapers published the Decree of the USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium awarding Doctor L. F Timashuk the Order of Lenin ‘for assistance rendered to the government in exposing the murderous doctors.'”

Iakov Etinger: “The Doctors’ Plot”; Ibid; p. 115-7

But the letter “warning of the “Doctor’s Plot” itself had been submitted in 1948.
Timashuk had written to Vlasik, of the MGB Security and a key pro-Stalin figure.
Neither Vlasik, Stalin nor those of the MGB responsible for Zhdanov took action.

The letter warned that during the conduct of medical tests on Zhdanov, there had been a deliberate mis-diagnosis. Dr Timashuk was the head of the Electrocardiography laboratory at the Kremlin Hospital. Not only did she allege that Professors Egorov and Vasilenko (of the Kremlin’s Special Medical Department) insist that Dr Timashuk alter a diagnosis of “coronary thrombosis” to “sclerosis and hypertension,” but that they also falsified a diagnosis on a form previously reported by a “physician in charge” – Dr Maiorov:

“It is now known from recently discovered classified KGB and CPSU Central Committee documents that on 29 August 1948, Timashuk, head of the electrocardiography laboratory at the Kremlin Hospital, sent a confidential letter to General N. S. VIasik, chief of MGB security. It was a poli