Category Archives: Trotskyism

On Closed Speech of Khrushchev at the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU

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George Gruenthal

Book Review:  Khrushchev Lied, by Grover Furr

Prof. Grover Furr has done a great service to Marxist-Leninists and all revolutionaries and to all those who are interested in historical truth. He has picked out 61 major statements from Khrushchev’s 20th Congress speech, checked them against other material, especially from the Russian archives that have recently been made public, and found that they are all lies. He gives extensive quotes from primary sources, as well as from internet web-sites that give English translations of the source material. Thus, he has made available and translated a wealth of material, especially valuable for those who do not read Russian.

In order to make the book more readable, Furr has divided it into two parts. In the first, with 221 pages, he presents each of 61 statements and the basic material that refutes them. In the second part, an Appendix of 194 pages, Furr presents additional documentation to back up the refutations. Thus, people who want to read the ‘short version’ can read only the first part; those who want the full details may find it easiest to read each chapter together with the corresponding chapter in the Appendix.

I will give several examples of Furr’s revelations to provide an idea of the scope of his book.

1) Khrushchev claimed that ‘Stalin acted not through persuasion, explanation and patient cooperation with people, but by imposing his concepts and demanding absolute submission to his opinion. Whoever opposed this concept or tried to prove his viewpoint and the correctness of his position was doomed to removal from the leading collective and to subsequent moral and physical annihilation.’

There are many facts that contradict this. We will mention only one, by Marshal Zhukov on military matters, which Furr quotes: ‘After Stalin’s death appeared the one about how he used to take military and strategic decisions unilaterally. This was not the case at all. I have already said above that if you reported questions to the Supreme Commander with a knowledge of your business, he took them into account. I know of cases when he turned against his own previous opinion and changed decisions he had taken previously’ (both quotes, Furr, p. 245).

2) Khrushchev implied, without actually stating it, that Kirov was killed by or on the orders of Stalin. Furr points out that very little of the material on Kirov’s murder has been published, or even made available to researchers. He does note that the well-known author on Soviet history, J. Arch Getty, pointed out that several Soviet and post-Soviet commissions had tried and failed to find evidence that Stalin was behind Kirov’s murder. Former Soviet General Sudoplatov, who provided much information (or misinformation) on Soviet activities to the West after the fall of the Soviet Union, stated in 1996: ‘No documents or evidence exist to support the theory of the participation of Stalin or of the apparat of the NKVD in Kirov’s assassination… Kirov was not an alternative to Stalin. He was one of the staunchest Stalinists. Khrushchev’s version was later approved and used by Gorbachev as part of his anti-Stalin campaign’ (p. 274).

3) Khrushchev claimed that Stalin was responsible for mass repressions in the late 1930s. But Furr points out that Khrushchev himself was guilty of mass repressions, both as Party head in Moscow and then as Party head of the Ukraine. Furr quotes from a note that Khrushchev sent to Stalin: ‘Dear Iosif Vissiaronovich! The Ukraine sends [requests for] 17,000 – 18,000 [persons to be] repressed every month. And Moscow confirms no more than 2,000 – 3,000. I request that you take prompt measures. Your devoted N. Khrushchev’ (p. 259). Furr thinks that Khrushchev was responsible for more repressions than anyone else except for Ezhov (Yezhov).

4) Furr points out that Stalin was always in favour of dealing with Trotskyites and other agents as individuals, not through mass repression. He also proposed carrying out political education of leading Party officials. Some of this has been known for a long time to those not blinded by bourgeois-Trotskyite propaganda. Stalin discussed this in ‘Mastering Bolshevism,’ in which he called for each of the leading Party cadre to select temporary replacements for themselves while they attended courses in Party history and ideology (see Furr, p. 280-281). As to the question of mass repression, Stalin stated: ‘how to carry out in practice the task of smashing the German-Japanese agents of Trotskyism. Does this mean that we should strike and uproot not only the real Trotskyites, but also those who wavered at some time toward Trotskyism; not only those who are really Trotskyite agents for wrecking, but also those who happened once upon a time to go along a street where some Trotskyite or other had once passed? At any rate, such voices were heard here at the plenum. Can we consider such an interpretation of the resolution to be correct?

‘No, we cannot consider it to be correct. On this question, as on all other questions, there must be an individual, differentiated approach. You must not measure everyone by the same yardstick. Such a sweeping approach can only harm the cause of struggle against the real Trotskyite wreckers and spies’ (p. 282, Furr’s emphasis).

In this connection it is also worth reading the section of Zhdanov’s speech at the 18th Party Congress in 1939, Amendments to the Rules of the C.P.S.U.(B.), on eliminating mass purges. This is not discussed in Furr’s book, but is available in the archives of Revolutionary Democracy at www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/archive/zhd.htm.

5) After Khrushchev came to power, he and his supporters began a process of ‘mass rehabilitations’ of many high-level officials who had been repressed earlier. Without doing any investigation to see who was actually innocent of any crimes and who was really guilty, people were simply declared innocent. In so doing, crucial statements of people who had admitted their guilt were sometimes totally distorted to make them appear to be claiming innocence.

One example of this is a letter to Stalin written by Gen. Iakir, who had been found guilty of treason along with Marshal Tukhachevskii and was soon to be executed. Marshal Zhukov read from this letter at the CC Plenum in June of 1957 (the Plenum at which the ‘anti-Party bloc’ of Malenkov, Molotov and Kaganovich were expelled from the CC). However, a more complete version of the letter has since been published, in 1994. Zhukov had omitted from the text the words printed below in bold:

‘Dear, close com. Stalin. I dare address you in this way because I have told everything and it seems to me that I am once more that honourable warrior, devoted to Party, state and people, that I was for many years. All my conscious life has been passed in selfless, honourable work in the sight of the Party and its leaders. – then I fell into a nightmare, into the irreparable horror of treason… The investigation is finished. The indictment of treason to the state has been presented to me, I have admitted my guilt, I have repented completely. I have unlimited faith in the justice and appropriateness of the decision of the court and the government. Now each of my words is honest. I die with words of love to you, the Party, the country, with a fervent belief in the victory of communism’ (pp. 214-215).

Zhukov tries to turn an admission of guilt into a proclamation of innocence. It would be hard to imagine a more dishonest example of falsifying a quotation.

6) In 1936, Ezhov took over as head of the NKVD after the removal and later execution of Yagoda for being a member of the Rightist conspiracy. Ezhov had many people, including many who were innocent, arrested and executed from 1937 to 1938. This period was colloquially known as the Yezhovshchina. Ezhov was removed from his post in late 1938 and was arrested and executed the following year. He was replaced by Beria, who put an end to the mass arrests and, after investigations, had many innocent people released from prison. It was this writer’s understanding that Ezhov had been executed simply for taking a heartless, bureaucratic attitude towards these mass arrests.

In the last few years, however, many of the transcripts of the interrogations of Ezhov have been published, and Furr refers readers to the English translations of these on the Internet. They show that Ezhov organised these mass arrests and executions ‘to cover up his own involvement in the Rightist conspiracy and with German military espionage, as well as in a conspiracy to assassinate Stalin or another Politburo member, and to seize power by coup d’état’  (p. 57). Furr includes some 15 pages of documents on Ezhov’s case in his Appendix.

7) We shall shortly move on to areas dealt with in Furr’s book, and particularly some of the fables about Stalin’s behaviour during World War II.

However, we would like to first point out a short but fascinating account of the behaviour of the Trotskyites in the Spanish Civil War. Furr quotes Gen. Sudoplatov:

‘The Trotskyites were also involved in actions. Making use of the support of persons with ties to German military intelligence [the ‘Abwehr’] they organised a revolt against the Republican government in Barcelona in 1937…. Concerning the connections of the leaders of the Trotskyist revolt in Barcelona in 1937 we were informed by Schulze-Boysen…. Afterward, after his arrest, the Gestapo accused him of transmitting this information to us, and this figured in his death sentence by the Hitlerite court in his case’ (p. 269).

Schulze-Boysen was a German citizen who spied for the Soviet Union from within the SS. The Nazi military court which tried and executed him for this espionage confirmed Sudoplatov’s statement.  It declared: ‘At the beginning of 1938, during the Spanish Civil War, the accused learned in his official capacity that a rebellion against the local red government in the territory of Barcelona was being prepared with the co-operation of the German Secret Service. This information, together with that of Pöllnitz,’ [a member of the ‘Red Orchestra,’ the famous Soviet anti-Nazi spy ring] ‘was transmitted by him to the Soviet Russian embassy in Paris’ (p. 270).

8) Let us now take up some of Khrushchev’s lies, since repeated by many others, about Stalin’s actions during the war.

a) The first is that Stalin was not prepared for the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union. There is no question that Stalin knew that Nazi Germany would eventually attack the Soviet Union. The Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact was signed to delay that attack for as long as possible. Furr points out that, in these circumstances, Stalin could not have carried out a mobilisation of Soviet forces, as that would have given Hitler the opportunity to declare war and possibly make a deal with the Western allies. He quotes a statement from a German General-Major Marks in 1940 that ‘The Russians will not do us the favour of attacking us first’ (p. 88). Moreover, the Soviet Union could not rely on British warnings of an impending attack, since Britain clearly wanted to set Hitler against the Soviet Union, and then possibly make a deal with Hitler.

b) Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union in the early hours of June 22, 1941. In his speech, Khrushchev blamed Stalin for allegedly ignoring information about the impending attack. He quoted a statement by a Soviet Captain, Vorontsov, that had contained information from a Soviet citizen, Bozer, that ‘Germany is preparing to invade the USSR on May 14.’ This information is contained in a letter by Admiral Kuznetsov to Stalin of May 6, which has now been published in full. The letter concludes with Kuznetsov’s statement that  ‘I believe that this information is false, specifically directed through this channel with the object of reaching our government in order to find out how the USSR would react to it’ (pp. 344-345).

c) In his speech, Khrushchev also told of a German citizen who crossed the border with the Soviet Union on the eve of the invasion and stated that the Soviet Union would be attacked at 3 AM the following morning, June 22. Khrushchev claims that ‘Stalin was informed of this immediately, but even this warning was ignored..

Furr points out that the warning was not ignored, that the information was transmitted to Moscow as quickly as possible considering the need to find a reliable translator and to verify the information. In fact, after the attack the statement by the German soldier, Alfred Liskow, a self-declared communist, was published by Pravda and made into a leaflet to undermine the morale of the German soldiers by letting them know that there were opponents of the war and Hitlerism, friends of the Soviet Union, in their ranks.

Furr also refutes Khrushchev’s statement, again repeated by many others, that Stalin was demoralised at the beginning of the war and that he had withdrawn from any activities in those first days. Furr points out that the logbooks of visitors to Stalin’s office show that Stalin was extremely active in those days and quotes from Dimitrov, as well as Zhukov and the anti-Stalinists Volkogonov and Sudoplatov, all of whom testified to Stalin’s activity in the first days of the war.

Khrushchev also denigrated Stalin’s abilities as a wartime commander. In response, Furr quotes military figures such as Marshals Zhukov, Vasilevsky and Golovanov, all of whom testified in their memoirs not only to Stalin’s great abilities as wartime commander but also to the great respect felt for him by other commanders at the front.


To conclude, I would like to add a few remarks on Furr’s standpoint, his position and views toward Stalin and Soviet socialism.

Furr is an objective researcher and scholar, although he clearly also is sympathetic to Stalin and the Soviet Union under his leadership. In this way he is different from other researchers such as J. Arch Getty who, although he is not a sympathiser of socialism, was one of the first researchers in the post-Stalin period to dispel some of the myths behind the general anti-communist depictions of Stalin as some sort of ogre.

It is certainly necessary for researchers who adopt a proletarian class stand to start from objective facts; otherwise one becomes an idealist who wants the world to correspond to his ideological views, instead of vice-versa. Throughout the book, Prof. Furr starts from objective facts and follows them to their conclusions, which lead to a clear demonstration that Khrushchev lied throughout his ‘secret speech’ in 1956.

However, Furr does not go much beyond this conclusion. He correctly states that the facts overturn the ‘anti-Stalin paradigm’ that has been basic to much of the anti-communist view of Soviet history, both in the Soviet Union and the rest of the world, since the middle of the last century. But he barely discusses the significance of this. For example, there is little mention of the fact that Khrushchev’s speech was accepted by a large part of the international communist movement, that this led to the split in this movement between Marxist-Leninist forces and revisionists a few years later, and that the struggle between them is still of great significance for the world communist movement today.

Of course, one cannot rebuke Furr for not taking up a task that he had no intention of taking up. Furr does briefly discuss what he sees as the reasons for Khrushchev’s attack on Stalin in Chapter 12: ‘Conclusion: The Enduring Legacy of Khrushchev’s Deception.’ He says: ‘Stalin and his supporters had championed a plan of democratisation of the USSR through contested elections. Their plan seems to have been to move the locus of power in the USSR from Party leaders like Khrushchev to elected government representatives. Doing this would also have laid the groundwork for restoring the Party as an organisation of dedicated persons struggling for communism rather than for careers or personal gain. Khrushchev appears to have had the support of the Party First Secretaries, who were determined to sabotage this project and perpetuate their own positions of privilege’ (p. 200).

He then mentions other so-called ‘reforms’ that were carried out after Stalin’s death. These include: a shift towards ‘market’-oriented reforms; a shift from heavy industry, production of the means of production, towards light, consumer industry; from the Marxist-Leninist view that war is inevitable as long as imperialism exists to the avoidance of war with imperialism at any cost; a de-emphasis on the vanguard role of the working class in the revolution; the view that capitalism could be overcome through ‘peaceful competition’ by parliamentary means; and an abandonment of Stalin’s plan to move towards communism, classless society.

This writer is in agreement with the need to prevent the party from becoming an organisation of careerists. However, it is not at all clear that ‘contested elections’ would prevent bureaucratisation. (Besides, in choosing candidates for the Soviets, there were discussions of different candidates all along this line. For more on this, see the fascinating chapter of Sam Darcy’s memoirs: ‘How Soviet Democracy Worked in the 1930s’, in Revolutionary Democracy Vol. XI. No. 2, Sept. 2005, available at: www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/rdv11n2/darcy.htm.). Rather, this writer thinks it would be more important to reinforce the Party maximum (maximum salary that a Party member was allowed to receive, regardless of what position he held) and limit other material privileges available to Party leaders. Nor is it clear why moving the ‘locus of power’ from Party leaders to government representatives would increase democracy. This writer thinks that it would have been more important to strengthen the struggle against revisionism. For example, the necessary fight against Titoism seems to have been itself carried out in a bureaucratic way, compared to the way the struggles against Trotskyism and Bukharinism were carried out in the 1920s. That may be why the Soviet Union and all the Eastern European countries except for Albania followed the path of Titoism less than a decade later. However, this is all the subject for much further debate.

‘Khrushchev Lied’ is available from Erythrós Press at: www.erythrospress.com/store/furr.html

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The German Situation and the Question of Social-Fascism

Demonstrators in East Berlin carry portraits of both German socialist Karl Liebknecht and political activist Rosa Luxemburg in 1988, during a protest march against their assassination in 1919. (AP/Press Association Images)

Demonstrators in East Berlin carry portraits of both German socialist Karl Liebknecht and political activist Rosa Luxemburg in 1988, during a protest march against their assassination in 1919. (AP/Press Association Images)

The greatest factor in the stabilization of capitalism after the first round of wars and revolutions was Social-Democracy. In such countries as Germany and Austria the Social-Democratic leaders actually undertook to organize and maintain the capitalist State against the revolutionary onslaught of the workers. A German Social-Democrat, Noske, drowned in blood the workers’ revolution in Germany in 1918 and 1919. Social-Democratic ministers suppressed strikes, fired at workers’ demonstrations, declared martial law against the workers. A Socialist government in Great Britain sent armies to subdue the uprising of the colonial peoples. The Social- Democrats of France took the initiative in introducing the imperialist martial laws. In. short, everywhere the leaders of Social-Democracy became part and parcel of the bourgeois State apparatus. They advanced the idea that where there is a coalition government, i.e., a government of’ capitalist and Socialist ministers, there we have a transition from capitalism to socialism. The fact of the matter is that a coalition government remains a capitalist government since it does not shake the foundations of capitalism, private property and exploitation. On the contrary, it only serves to strengthen capitalism by deceiving the workers with the idea of peaceful transition to socialism.

In Germany and Austria Social-Democracy actually aided the growth of fascism. Fascist bands were being organized under the protection of Social-Democratic governments. Fascist demonstrations were unmolested by Social-Democratic police presidents while Communist demonstrations were being dispersed. Fascist bands were allowed to arm while the militant Red Front organization of the German workers was outlawed. Martial law and semi-martial law were repeatedly introduced to curb the movement of the workers who demanded an improvement of their intolerable conditions.

In the very same way as Lenin, after the betrayal of the proletariat by Social-Democracy at the beginning of the War, called the Social-Democratic leaders social-patriots and social-chauvinists, so the Communist International, after the new betrayals of Social-Democracy, called its leaders social-fascists –in the sense of paving the way for fascism.

It was disastrous for the proletariat of Germany and of the whole world that the Social-Democratic leaders made common cause with capitalism. It was disastrous that so many millions of workers were deceived by the socialist phrases of the Social-Democratic leaders and believed them to be true fighters for the interests of the working class. It was unfortunate that the Communist Party of Germany could swing only around six million votes and did not have the majority of the working class behind it. It would have been better for the workers of Germany and for the world revolution had the masses of German workers cherished fewer illusions about their Social-Democratic leaders. It would have been difficult for fascism to sweep into power in Germany had there been organized in Germany a powerful united front.

It cannot be denied that there were certain weaknesses in the work of the Communist Party of Germany, but opposition to the united front was not among them. The Communist Party did not succeed in bringing all its members into the reformist trade unions so as to have there a stronger revolutionary support. It did not work sufficiently in the reformist trade unions – and this was the most neglected sector of its activities, although it did build the red trade-union opposition with a membership – prior to the advent of fascism of over 300,000. It did not root itself sufficiently in the factories and plants. It was not flexible enough in approaching Social-Democratic rank-and-file workers. All these shortcomings were repeatedly pointed out by the Communist International, and the Party made strong efforts to improve its work. As a result its influence grew tremendously.

“During the last period before Hitler came to power, the Communist Party succeeded in penetrating the broad masses and even in obtaining influence among the social-democrats, the members of the reformist trade unions and also the members of the Republican Flag (Reichsbanner) organization, for the very reason that it was able to organize the struggle against this emergency decree. The authority of the Party was greatly enhanced, and members of reformist trade unions began to participate in the strikes led by the Red Trade Union Opposition and the Communists. Thus, besides Communists, members of reformist trade unions and even National Socialists participated in the Berlin transport strike committee.” (O. Piatnitsky, The Present Situation in Germany, p. 20.)

The Communist Party of Germany was ready to fight fascism. As a matter of fact, the Communists did fight the fascist bands in the streets on numerous occasions, meeting their attacks and the attacks of the police which, in Prussia for instance, was under Social-Democratic command and everywhere protected the Brown Shirts.

That the Communists were working for a united front with the Social-Democratic workers, if need be through an agreement with the Social-Democratic leaders, may be seen from the following:

In 1925 the Communist Party proposed to the Social-Democratic Party a united struggle against the monarchist danger. Later in the year, seeing that the Communists and the Social-Democrats had a majority of members in the Berlin municipality, the Communists proposed to the Social-Democrats a common program of action for the interests of the workers. In 1926 the Communists called upon the Social-Democratic leaders to join in a plebiscite against returning the property to the former German royal family. In the Spring of 1928 the C.P. proposed joint May-Day demonstrations. In October, 1928, it proposedjoint anti-militarist action against the building of a battle cruiser. In 1929-1932 it repeatedly proposed joint action against wage-cuts. In April, 1932, it proposed a joint struggle of all working-class organizations against an impending wage-cut.

All these proposals were turned down by Social-Democracy. Broad masses of workers responded to some of the Communist appeals for united action. Social-Democratic leaders preferred cooperation with the capitalist parties.

When Von Papen drove the Social-Democrats out of the Prussian government, the Communist Party proposed a joint general strike for the repeal of the emergency decrees and for the disbanding of the Storm Troops. On January 30, 1933, when Hitler came into power, the Communist Party again proposed a general strike to fight reaction. Again in March, 1933, after the burning of the Reichstag, the Communist Party called upon the Social-Democratic Party and the trade unions to declare a general strike against the attack on the workers. All these proposals were rejected by the Social-Democrats who preferred to believe that they could function and maintain a modicum of power under any capitalist régime.

Who is to be blamed?

Trotsky says: the Communists are to blame. Why? Because they called the Social-Democrats social-fascists. Trotsky cannot deny the fact that the Communists were trying to organize the united front. They organized the Anti-Fascist Action which was to unite workers of various parties. They tried to organize the united front in the factories and unions. The Social-Democratic leaders sowed mistrust toward the Communists and toward the united front, and this hampered the Communist action. Trotsky did his bit.

Now he is dissatisfied.

Here is his chief trump:

“Had the Comintern placed, from 1929, or even from 1930 or 1931, at the foundation of its policies the objective irreconcilability between Social-Democracy and fascism, or more exactly between fascism and Social-Democracy; if upon this it had built a systematic and persistent policy of the united front, Germany, within a few months, would have been covered with a network of mighty committees of proletarian defense, potential workers’ Soviets, that is.” (Leon Trotsky, The Militant, March 10, 1934.)

But, my dear Mr. Trotsky, there was no irreconcilability between Social-Democracy and fascism, or more exactly: between the Social-Democratic leaders and fascism. There was no irreconcilability as far as the Social-Democratic leaders were concerned. They certainly had not anticipated that they would be so ruthlessly driven out. They had formed a substantial part of the State apparatus under all regimes prior to that of Hitler and they were convinced that even under Hitler would they retain a certain share of power. No matter how much the Communists would have painted before them the dire results they were to expect from the ascendancy of fascism – they simply would not have believed it. They would have said they knew better.

Witness the conduct of the Austrian Social-Democratic leaders who were supposed to be much more radical than their German brethren and who had the experience of their German comrades. Listen to the testimony of the “Left” Marxist, Otto Bauer, in his interview with the New York Times correspondent, C, E. R. Gedye (published February 18, 1934) as to how the Social-Democrats of Austria were ready to cooperate with the fascist dictator Dollfuss at the expense of the Austrian constitution:

“Since the date of the Hitler triumph in Germany (March 5)when the Reichstag ‘elections’ gave the German Nazis control, our party has made the very greatest efforts to come to an agreement with the government…. In the first weeks of March our leaders were still in close personal contact with Dollfuss and frequently tried to get him to agree to a constitutional solution. At the end of March he promised our leader, Dr. Dennenberg, personally that at the beginning of April he would open negotiations with us for the reform of the Constitution [for the limiting of bourgeois democracy to suit fascism – M.J.O.]. This promise he never fulfilled, for at the beginning of April he passed over definitely to the fascist camp… and refused to speak to any of the socialists. When he said that he could not see the existing leaders we offered to send him other negotiators. He refused sharply. As we could not see him again, we tried to negotiate through other people. Honestly, we left no stone unturned. We approached President Miklas…. Then we tried the clerical politicians, whom we had known for a long time…. But everything was shattered on the stubborn resistance of Dollfuss who simply refused to hear of the socialists again. A group of religious socialists got together with a group of Catholic democrats and tried to induce the Church to intervene. This also failed.”

Suppose you offered them at that time a united front with the Communists to fight Dollfuss? They did not think of fighting fascism. They had no intention of defending bourgeois democracy. Listen to this precious admission by Bauer in the same interview:

“We offered to make the greatest concessions that a democratic and socialistic party ever made. We let Dollfuss know that if he would only pass a bill through Parliament we would accept a measure authorizing the Government to govern by decree without Parliament for two years [our emphasis – M.J.O.], on two conditions, that a small parliamentary committee, in which the government had a majority, should be able to criticize decrees and that a constitutional court, the only protection against breaches of the Constitution, should be restored.”

They certainly were prepared to go far enough. The “Left” Social-Democrats were ready to agree to the abolition of Parliament provided the abolition is passed by Parliament (a procedure actually practiced in Germany under Hitler). They were ready, they say, to agree to a government without Parliament “for two years”, but it is quite obvious that it would not have been over-difficult to induce them to accept an extension of the time. They were interested in maintaining their positions in the trade unions, in the municipalities, in the police power, in the judicial system – knowing very well that those positions would be curtailed under fascism. They clung to a shadow of power at the time when, according to their own testimony, “the dissatisfaction and agitation of the workers against the conservative policy of our Party committee grew as the government provocations increased…. Excitement rose to a fever pitch during the last weeks.” (Ibid.)

It is for not having induced such leaders to organize a united front that Trotsky blames the Communists.

Be it remembered that he does not blame the Communists for not approaching the workers because he knows very well that they did approach the workers and did make every effort to induce them to join the united front. His chief stock in trade is the accusation that the Communist leaders did not make peace with the Social-Democratic top leaders.

Trotsky s argument in support of the possibility of a united front with the Social-Democratic leaders holds no water.

“Social-Democracy [he says] can neither live nor breathe without leaning upon the political and trade union organizations of the working class. Concurrently it is precisely along this line that the irreconcilable contradiction between Social-Democracy and fascism takes place; precisely along this line does there open up the necessity and unbridgeable stage of the policies of the united front with the Social-Democracy.” (The Militant, March 10, 1934.)

This argument is just as incorrect as the English translation of the sentences is rotten. Events have proven that the bourgeoisie resorts to fascism when it finds that Social-Democracy is no longer able to keep in check the revolutionary movement of the masses. For this reason all the mass organizations of the working class, even if dominated by Social-Democratic leaders, are suppressed. But prior to the advent of Hitler the Social-Democratic leaders did not believe this.

They relied on capitalist democracy, on the Weimar Constitution, on the German respect for law and order and – last but not least – on their record in the service of the bourgeoisie. They invented the policy of supporting the “lesser evil” just to have an excuse for collaborating with the bourgeoisie. Their Berlin Chief of Police Zoergiebel opened machine-gun fire on workers participating in a May-Day parade (1929) without a permit. The number of victims was over 30. Their leaders approved of semi-martial law introduced to quell the workers’ revolts. Their leaders supported wage-cuts and armaments. Social-Democracy supported the governments of Bruening, Von Papen and Schleicher. It was ready to support Hitler. Did it not give its recognition to the Hitler government after the elections of March 5, 1933, declaring that Hitler had been legally appointed by Hindenburg and given a clear mandate by a majority of the people? Was it not ready to cooperate with the Hitler government if offered a chance? Was it not assuming the role of a loyal opposition even after being kicked in the face by the Nazi boots? Did not the Social-Democratic parliamentary group, on May 17, 1933, vote unanimously in the Reichstag in favor of Hitler’s policy? Did not Carl Severing remain a supporter of Hitler in spite of all? Did not the same veteran Social-Democratic leader appeal to the population of the Saar to vote for the Nazis? Did not the Social- Democratic union leaders make overtures to Hitler?

When their collapse came, when they were ignominiously driven out without resistance, then the process of revaluation of values began not only among the Social-Democratic workers but also among some of the leaders. One section (Severing & Co.) are just waiting for an opportunity to be “taken in” by the fascists. The center is vacillating. The Left Wing is for a united front with the Communists. The united front is making headway, notably in France, in Spain and also in the United States – under the initiative and leadership of the Communists. But to expect that the leaders of German Social- Democracy would have agreed to the united front with the Communists before January, 1933, is to be a Trotsky.

At the bottom of all this preachment is Trotsky’s Menshevik attitude to Social-Democracy. The old Menshevik asserts himself in the leader of the “Left opposition”. He does not believe that Social-Democracy is “as bad as that”. He is sincere when he says that the Communists should not have called the Social-Democratic leaders social-fascists. He believes they are not. He believes they are also fighters, at least for bourgeois democracy and for the interests of the workers as far as they can be defended under bourgeois democracy. The Social-Democrats to him are “also” socialists. Now it is perfectly true that if the Communists had abandoned their Communist position and made peace with the German Social-Democratic leaders on the terms of these leaders, then there would have been a united front. The trouble is, it wouldn’t have been a united front against fascism.

The travesty of the whole barrage is evident from the experiences of. France. When the united front was established in France, when huge mass movements against fascism began to develop on a united-front basis, the Trotsky group joined the Socialist Party, fused with it, and is fighting within the Socialist Party against the united front.

Here you have the Trotskyites in action.

But why did not the Communist Party attempt an armed uprising in Germany in the early part of 1933 with its own forces? This question is often asked by Trotskyites.

The answer is given by Lenin who explains “the fundamental law of revolution”.

“It is not sufficient for revolution that the exploited and oppressed masses understand the impossibility of living in the old way and demand changes; for revolution, it is necessary that the exploiters should not be able to live and rule as of old. Only when the ‘lower classes’ do not want the old regime,and when the ‘upper classes’ are unable to govern as of old, then only can revolution succeed. This truth may be expressed in other words: Revolution is impossible without an all-national crisis, affecting both the exploited and the exploiters. [Our emphasis – M.J.O.] It follows that for revolution it is essential, first, that a majority of the workers (or at least a majority of the conscious, thinking, politically active workers) should fully understand the necessity for revolution, and be ready to sacrifice their lives for it; secondly, that the ruling class be in a state of governmental crisis, which attracts even the most backward masses into politics… weakens the government and facilitates its rapid overthrow by the revolutionaries.” (V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Russian Edition, Vol. XXV, p. 222.)

In discussing the German situation of the time when Hitler came to power, O. Piatnitsky, a leader of the Communist International, quotes the above Leninist definition of a revolutionary situation and draws the inevitable conclusion. He says:

“Had all these conditions matured in Germany in January 1933? No. The entire bourgeoisie, in the face of the menace of a proletarian revolution, in spite of the existence of discords among them, stood united against the revolutionary proletariat. The overwhelming majority of the petty bourgeoisie followed the bourgeoisie as represented by Hitler, who promised them the return of the ‘grand’ old Germany in which the petty bourgeoisie had lived in more or less tolerable conditions. The proletariat was split by the Social-Democratic Party which was still followed by the majority of the workers. So the exploiters were still able to live and administer, were still able to exploit the working class as of old, although by new, fascist methods.” (O. Piatnitsky, The Present Situation in Germany, p. 27.)

The Presidium of the Executive Committee of the Comintern, evaluating the German situation, came to the only conclusion which a responsible leadership could draw from the existing relationship of the social forces in Germany.

“Under these circumstances [says the Presidium resolution] the proletariat was in a position in which it could not organize and in fact failed to organize an immediate and decisive blow against the state apparatus, which, for the purpose of fighting against the proletariat, absorbed the fighting organizations of the fascist bourgeoisie: the Storm Troops, the Steel Helmets and the Reichswehr. The bourgeoisie was able without serious resistance to hand over the power of government in the country to the National-Socialists, who act against the working class by means of provocations, bloody terror and political banditry.

“In analyzing the conditions for a victorious uprising of the proletariat, Lenin said that a decisive battle can be considered as fully mature,

“ ‘…if all the class forces which were hostile to us have become sufficiently entangled, have sufficiently come to blows, have sufficiently weakened themselves by the struggle which is beyond their strength. If all the vacillating, hesitating, unstable, intermediate elements, i.e., the petty bourgeoisie, petty-bourgeois democracy as distinguished from the bourgeoisie, have sufficiently exposed themselves to the people, have sufficiently disgraced themselves by their practical bankruptcy. If among the proletariat mass sentiment has begun, and is rising strongly in favor of supporting the most decisive, supremely bold and revolutionary action against the bourgeoisie. Then the revolution has matured, and if we have properly taken into account all of the conditions mentioned above… and have properly selected the moment, our victory is assured.’

“The characteristic feature of the circumstances at the time of the Hitler coup was that these conditions for a victorious rising had not yet managed to mature at that moment. They only existed in an embryonic state.

“As for the vanguard of the proletariat, the Communist Party, not wishing to slip into adventurism, it, of course, could not compensate for this missing factor by its own actions.”

Trotsky’s criticism of the Comintern is the expression of the despair of a petty bourgeois frightened by fascism and disbelieving in the revolutionary forces of the proletariat. Trotsky’s proposed policies, therefore, are policies of a frightened petty-bourgeois reformist.

“Democratic slogans and illusions [he says] cannot be abolished by decree. It is necessary that the masses go through them and outlive them in the experience of battle…. It is necessary to find the dynamic elements in the present defensive position of the working class; we must make the masses draw conclusions from their democratic logic; we must widen and deepen the channels of the struggle.” (Leon Trotsky, “Our Present Tasks,” The Militant, December 9, 1933.)

In these words is contained a whole program. It presupposes a general political situation where black reaction is destined to reign supreme for a very long period and where there can be no thought of a determined proletarian fight for power. It presupposes a stable capitalist system. It assumes that the struggle of the workers for the improvement of their immediate conditions must necessarily proceed in parliamentary channels. It therefore advances the struggle for democratic reforms as the prime task of the workers.

Like all such Social-Democratic creations it is both reactionary and utopian.

It is reactionary because it gives up the proletarian struggle for power at a time when conditions are rapidly maturing for such a struggle. It is utopian because it is not possible for the workers at any time to confine themselves to “democratic slogans” alone if they are to defend their right to live.

The workers are hungry. They are oppressed. They must fight for higher wages, social insurance, against police brutality, against lynch laws. Whenever they undertake a real fight they inevitably reach out beyond the limits of bourgeois democracy. They clash with the police. They defy the courts. They break injunctions. They forcibly annul evictions. They “riot”. When capitalism is shaken and undermined as at present the seizure of power becomes a task for the near future. Every fight is a step nearer to the seizure of power. Every battle gives the working class new experience, teaches it the lessons of unity and concerted advance against the bourgeoisie. Only such an advance can yield immediate improvement of the workers’ lives today, can secure for them elementary rights and better economic conditions.

It is the class struggle against capitalism that the Communists are inscribing on the banner of the working class – the class struggle which in its sharpest form is armed uprising, the final battles for the dictatorship of the proletariat.

It is class collaboration on which Trotsky is building the flimsy structure of his “fourth international” program.

Listen to a Trotskyite “Bolshevik” exhorting the world in the following piece of sonorous declamation:

“We, Bolsheviks, consider that the real salvation from fascism and war lies in the revolutionary conquest of power and the establishment of the proletarian dictatorship. [But our ‘belief’ is just a shadow, bloodless, lifeless. – M.J.O.] You, Socialist workers [Read: Social-Democratic bureaucrats – M.J.O.] do not agree to this road. You hope not only to save what has been gained but also to move forward along the road of democracy. [In collaboration with Roosevelt, Richberg and Perkins. – M.J.O.] Good! As long as we have not convinced you and attracted you to our side we are ready to follow this road with you to the end. [It is easier to follow you than bother with rank-and-file workers who may not agree to submit to ‘democratic’ edicts of chiefs of police – M.J.O.] But we demand that you carry on the struggle for democracy not in words but in deeds [For instance, let Norman Thomas pay a new visit to the ‘First Lady’ of the land. – MJ.O.]…. Make your Party open up a real struggle for a strong democratic movement. [Which is to be even more misleading than the Epic or LaFollette movements which contain economic planks in their programs. – M.J.O.] For this it is necessary first of all to sweep away all the remnants of the feudal state. It is necessary to give the suffrage to all men and women who reached their 18th birthday, also to the soldiers in the army [Forget about the hunger of the boys and girls. Give them the happiness of suffrage that will be a balm to their wound. Incidentally it costs the bosses less than social insurance. – M.J.O.] Full concentration of legislative and executive power in the hands of one chamber! Let your Party open up a serious campaign under these slogans! Let it arouse millions of workers, let it conquer power through the drive of the masses. [Hurrah for a new Ebert-Noske-Scheidemann-Ramsay McDonald government. – M.J.O.] This at any rate would be a serious attempt of struggle against fascism and war. [In the same way as Severing, Otto Bauer and Julius Deutsch fought against fascism and war. – M.J.O.] We, Bolsheviks, would retain the right to explain to the workers the insufficiency of democratic slogans; we could not take upon ourselves the political responsibility for the Social-Democratic government; but we would honestly help you in the struggle for such a. government [We would help you to deceive the masses. – M.J.O.] Together with you we would repel all attacks of bourgeois reaction. [And help shoot down workers and farmers who infringe on ‘democratic’ laws in their fight for bread – M.J.O.] More than that, we would bind ourselves before you not to undertake any revolutionary actions which go beyond the limits of democracy (real democracy) so long as the majority of the workers has not consciously placed itself on the side of revolutionary dictatorship. [It will be our democratic duty to break ‘unlawful’ strikes and to disperse ‘unlawful’ assembly. How dare they go beyond the limits of real bourgeois democracy! – M.J.O.]” (Trotsky, “Our Present Tasks,” The Militant, December 9, 1933.)

It must be made clear at the outset that when Trotsky addresses himself to the “Socialist workers”, he means the Socialist leaders – those who prevent the Socialist workers from engaging in the real class struggle. It must be noted, secondly, that the program which he proposes is purely reformist. He would help Social-Democracy to become the government in a capitalist State (“honestly” help it); he would help Social-Democracy improve the machinery of the capitalist State; he would bind himself to undertake no actions that go beyond bourgeois democracy (when he says “real democracy” he ought to know that such democracy exists only as the dictatorship of the proletariat – and that every bourgeois democracy, no matter how embellished, is a sham democracy designed as a weapon of the exploiters against the exploited); in other words he undertakes to help fasten upon the workers the rule of the capitalists operating through the instrumentality of bourgeois fake democracy. It must be noted, third, that not in vain did Trotsky omit such vital demands as higher wages, a shorter labor day, unemployment insurance, the right of the oppressed nationalities. For, the moment the workers undertake the fight for such demands, bourgeois legality goes smash. The limits of bourgeois democracy are overstepped. Trotsky implicitly promises the Social-Democratic leaders not to undertake such actions, not to countenance them. Moreover, he knows well that when the Social-Democrats are in power they will use the State armed forces against the workers if they undertake such actions. When he appeals to the Social-Democrats to join with him, he is forced to confine himself to such innocuous demands as one chamber and the lowering of the voting age. It is only here that the Social-Democrats can meet him half way. And it is on such a program that he is willing to bind up the fate of the Trotskyites with the fate of the Social-Democratic leaders.

Once more we have before us the petty bourgeois who is panic-stricken. He has seen the advent of fascism. He believes that fascism has come to stay. He believes that the working class is crushed. He calumniates the Communist Party of Germany, saying that it is dead when in reality it lives and fights. He does not wish to see the forces making for a social revolution. He does not wish to understand that once the masses rise – and wherever they rise – they must fight for their lives, against hunger, against annihilation at the hands of finance capital – and that means fight against the capitalist State whether in its fascist or in its democratic form. He does not wish to realize that the workers – the masses of the workers, the majority of the workers – will join the banner of struggle against the capitalists, which is always a struggle undermining the capitalist State. He wants to keep the masses of workers from engaging in the struggle against capitalism under Communist leadership. He appeals to the Social-Democratic leaders for a united front on this program. No wonder he is against the united front as built by the Communist Parties. Such united front is directed against capitalism, it does not build fortresses for capitalism. It comes to destroy them.

Source

Marxist-Leninist Research Bureau: The Kirov Murder

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The Murder

On 2 December 1934, ‘Pravda’ announced that:

“On 1 December at 16.30, in the city of Leningrad in the building of the Leningrad Soviet (former Smolny), at the hands of a murderer, a concealed enemy of the working class, died Secretary of the Central and Leningrad Committees of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) and member of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR, Comrade Sergei Mironovich KIROV*. The gunman has been arrested. His identity is being established”.

(Robert Conquest: ‘Stalin and the Kirov Murder’ (hereafter listed as ‘Robert Conquest (1989)’; London; 1989; p. 7, citing “Pravda” 2 December 1934).

Having entered the building, the assassin went up to the second floor and:

” . . hid in the bathroom. From the bathroom window the main entrance was visible”.

(Anton Antonov-Ovseenko: ‘The Time of Stalin: Portrait of a Tyranny’; New York; 1981; p. 91).

Then, as Kirov walked along the corridor to his office, the assassin emerged from his hiding place:

“To shoot him in the back of the neck”.

(Stepan V. Krasnikov: ‘Sergei Mironovich Kirov’; Moscow; 1964; p. 200).

The murder was premeditated:

“The murder was not done on impulse. The assassin had been preparing his act since the summer”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): op. cit.; p. 9).

The assassin was arrested at the scene of the crime:

“The assassin fainted and fell beside his victim Kirov was carried, bleeding and unconscious into his office. . . . He soon died. The autopsy gives in great detail the path of the bullet and its effects. It was soon established that a Nagan revolver was used, and that this was what was found near the assassin. Meanwhile, NKVD men arrested the unconscious killer”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): ibid.; p. 9).

The Assassin

On 3 December 1934, it was announced that:

“Preliminary investigations had established that the assassin was Leonid Vasilevich NIKOLAYEV*, born 1904, a former worker in the Leningrad Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection (RKI) and that the investigation was continuing”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): ibid.; p. 10, citing; ‘Pravda’, 3 December 1934).

He:

“Was married to a woman named Milda Draule, and had two children. His wife was a Latvian. . . . She had a secretarial job at Party headquarters.”

(Robert Conquest (1989): ibid.; p. 11).

He ultimately got:

“A position in the RKI. He seems to have been found inadequate and was demoted to a lesser post”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): ibid.; p. 10).

He:

“Had joined the Communist Party in 1920, at the age of sixteen.
He . . . in March (1934– Ed.) was expelled from the Party for breach of its discipline, However, two months later he was reinstated, having made ‘a declaration of repentance”‘.

(Robert Conquest (1989): ibid.; p. 10, 11).

He had developed a single-minded hatred of authority:

“Which he blamed for failing to give him his due and ignoring his problems. He began to see himself as an assassin on the historic scale. One report has him saying at an early interrogation in times to come my name will be coupled with those of ZHELIABOV* and BALMASHEV*‘, the great assassins of the Russian past”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): ibid.; p. 11).

Nikolayev later admitted that in the period August-November 1934, he had:

“‘Tried out’ . . . the ‘Nagan revolver he possessed”‘.

(“The Crime of the Zinoviev Opposition” (hereafter listed as ‘Crime’ (1935)’ Moscow; 1935; p. 19).

And it emerged during the investigation that:

“With the object of covering up traces of the crime and concealing his accomplices, and also with the object of masking the true motives for the murder of Comrade Kirov, the accused Nikolayev prepared several documents (a diary, statements addressed to various institutions, etc.) in which he endeavoured to portray his crime as a personal act of desperation and dissatisfaction arising out of his straitened material circumstances and as a protest against ‘the unjust attitude of certain members of the government towards a live person.”

(‘Crime’ (1935): op. cit.; p. 19).

The Investigation

On the evening of 1 December, a high-level delegation, consisting of three members of the Political Bureau – Stalin, Kliment VOROSHILOV*, Vyacheslav MOLOTOV* – and Andrey ZHDANOV* set out from Moscow to head the investigation into Kirov’s murder. Lower-level members of the delegation included Aleksandr KOSAREV*, General Secretary of the Communist Youth League (Komsomol), Genrikh YAGODA* , USSR People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs, and Yakov AGRANOV*, Deputy People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs. The delegates from Moscow reached Leningrad

“Around 7.30-8.30 a.m. on 2 December”;

(Robert Conquest (1989): op. cit.; p. 41).

It was already apparent that there were several odd circumstances about the murder:

“The absence of all guards at the Smolny was, on the face of it, an astonishing lapse, and so was the failure of Kirov’s bodyguard to accompany him.”

(Robert Conquest (1989): op. cit.; p. 8, 39).

While the behaviour of the security police had been even stranger. They:

“Had long since been aware of Nikolayev’s attitude and threats. They had reported this to Zaporozhets (Ivan Zaporozhets, Deputy Head of Leningrad NKVD – Ed.)”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): op. cit.; p. 40).

It was discovered that, when Nikolayev visited the Smolny in December 1934 (a few days before Kirov was murdered), his brief-case had been searched and:

“In the brief-case there were a loaded pistol and a diary. Nikolayev was immediately detained and taken to the commandant’s office”.

(Alexander Orlov: ‘The Secret History of Stalin’s Crimes’; New York; 1953; p. 17).

However, as the defendant Pavel BULANOV* testified at the 1938 treason trial, Zaporozhets had ordered him to be released:

“I recall that . . . several days before the assassination of Kirov, the guard detained Nicolayev . . . and a notebook and revolver were found in his portfolio, but that Zaporozhets released him in time.”

(Pavel Bulanov: Testimony at 1938 Treason Trial (March 1938), in: Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’ (hereafter listed as ‘Trial’ (1938)); Moscow; 1938; p. 558).

Stalin himself interrogated the assassin, Nikolayev. According to Alexander ORLOV* who defected from the Soviet security police in July 1938, when the prisoner was brought from his cell, Stalin asked him:

“‘Why did you kill such a nice man?”‘.

(Alexander Orlov: op. cit.; p. 22).

and:

“All accounts agree that Nikolayev replied boldly, pointing to the NKVD men and saying that Stalin should ask them that question.”

(Robert Conquest (1989): op. cit.; p. 41).

The Murder of Borisov (1934)

A vital witness in the case was clearly the head of Kirov’s personal bodyguard, a man named BORISOV:

“Accounts are agreed that Borisov was devoted to Kirov”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): op. cit.; p. 42).

Late in the morning of 2 December, in response to a request from Leningrad NKVD headquarters, Borisov was driven to the Smolny:

“Zaporozhets, being alarmed by this and fearing that Borisov would betray those who stood behind Nikolayev, decided to kill Borisov. Zaporozhetz so arranged it that an accident occurred to the automobile which took Borisov to the Smolny, Borisov was killed in the accident, and in this way they got rid of a dangerous witness.”

(Pavel Bulanov: Testimony at 1938 Treason Trial, in: ‘Trial’ (1938); op. cit.; p. 558-59).

The Arrest of the Leningrad Security Police Officers (1934)

During the day (2 December):

“Almost the whole leadership of the Leningrad NKVD . . . were removed from their posts and sent for trial for ‘negligence in connection with their duties”‘.

(Robert Conquest (1989): op. cit.; p. 42-43, citing ‘Pravda’, 4 December 1934).

Yakov Agranov:

“Was given temporary charge of the Leningrad NKVD”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): ibid.; p. 43, citing ‘Pravda’, 4 December 1934).

Kirov’s Funeral (1934)

Stalin left Leningrad on 4 December to return to Moscow,

“With Agranov running the actual investigation.”

(Robert Conquest (1989): op. cit.; p. 43.

On 4 December 1934:

“Kirov’s coffin arrived in Moscow at 10.30 a.m., . . . and the State funeral started at 2.30 p.m. on 6 December. Stalin was one of the guards of honour.”

(Robert Conquest (1989) op. cit.; p. 43.)

The Anti-Terrorist Legislation (1934)

On the evening of 1 December 1934, the day of Kirov’s murder:

“The Secretary of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee, YENUKIDZE*. signed the following directive:
1. Investigative agencies are directed to speed up the cases of those accused of the preparation or execution of acts of terror.
2. Judicial organs are directed not to hold up the execution of death sentences pertaining to crimes of this category in order to consider the possibility of pardon, because the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR does not consider as possible the receiving of petitions of this sort.
3. The organs of the Commissariat of Internal Affairs are directed to execute the death sentences against criminals of the above-mentioned category immediately after the passage of sentences.”

(Avel Yenukidze: Anti-Terrorism Directive of USSR Central Executive Committee (1 December 1934), cited in: Nikita S,. Khrushchev: Secret Speech to 20th Congress of CPSU (February 1956), in “‘The Dethronement of Stalin”; Manchester; 1956; p. 11).

However:

” . the ‘Law of 1 December 1934’ . . . was subsequently rarely used.”

(J. Arch Getty: ‘Origins of the Great Purges: The Soviet Communist Party Reconsidered: 1933-1938’; Cambridge; 1985; p. 298).

The Trial of the Whiteguard Terrorists (1934)

On 4 December 1934:

“It was announced that ‘cases of recently arrested Whiteguards charged with preparing terrorist attacks against workers of the Soviet power’ had been sent on 2 December for immediate consideration to the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court. The period from December 5 to 18 December saw the announcement of the trial and execution of 102 of these. . . . . .(17 were remanded for further investigation).. . .
All those indicted were accused of being terrorists sent over the frontiers with arms and instructions to assassinate”.

(Robert Conquest (1989) op. cit.; p. 44).

On 2 January 1935, Ivan MAISKY*, the Soviet Ambassador in London, responding on 2 January 1935 to representations on these cases, declared:

“The persons recently executed in various towns of the USSR under sentences imposed by the courts . . . were found guilty of the planning and execution of acts of terrorism. . . . The majority of them entered the Soviet Union illegally from abroad, and were found to have in their possession bombs, grenades, revolvers and other weapons. In court they openly admitted that they were enemies of the Soviet Union and confessed to the perpetration of the crimes with which they were charged”.

(Ivan Maisky; Statement on Trial and Execution of Terrorists (2 January 1935), in: Jane Degras (Ed.): ‘Soviet Documents on Foreign Policy’, Volume 3; London; 1953; p. 100).

It was not suggested that the terrorists involved in these cases were involved in the murder of Kirov. As J. Arch Getty comments:

“It seemed that the regime, unprepared for the crime and unclear about who should be punished, lashed out in a violent but ad hoc way at traditional enemies of the Soviet power.”

(J. Arch Getty: op. cit.; p. 209).

The ‘Leningrad Terrorist Centre’ (1934)

Yakov Agranov, as temporary head of the Leningrad NKVD:

“Quickly established a connection between Nikolayev and the men who had been the leading figures in the Leningrad Komsomol during ZINOVIEV’s* ascendancy in the city. The most prominent was I. I. KOTOLNYOV*, former member of the Central Committee of the Komsomol. . . . He had, in fact, been a real oppositionist”.

(Robert Conquest: ‘The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties’; London; 1973; p. 86).

In fact:

“Nikolayev had been in the Vyborg district’s branch, whose head was of course a Zinovievite – I. I. Kotolnyov”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): op. cit.; p. 51).

Further investigation established that:

“in 1933 and 1934 . . . an underground counter-revolutionary and terrorist group was formed in Leningrad”.

(‘Crime’ (1935): op. cit.; p. 8)

and that the Kotolnyov group:

“was headed by the underground terrorist ‘Leningrad Centre’

(‘Crime’ (1935): ibid.; p. 9)

On 22 December 1934, Nikolayev, Kotolnyov and 12 other people:

“Were committed for trial before the Military Collegium”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): op. cit.; p. 53, citing ‘Pravda’, 17 December, 1934).

On 22 December 1934, the NKVD announced that:

“The investigation into Nikolaev and his accomplices had been concluded on 20 December. The act (the murder of Kirov — Ed.) had been carried out on the orders of ‘the illegal terrorist “Leningrad Centre” (described as ‘former members of the Zinoviev opposition’)”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): op. cit.; p. 53).

The indictment in the case of the ‘Leningrad Centre’, published on 27 December 1934, named Ivan Kotolnyov as among:

“The principal organisers of the conspiracy against Kirov”.

(‘Crime’ (1935): op. cit.; p. 8).

The Arrests of Members of the Moscow Terrorist Centre (1934)

Ivan BAKAYEV*, Zinoviev’s former Leningrad security police chief, and Grigory YEVDOKIMOV*, Kirov’s predecessor as Leningrad 1st Secretsry, were:

“Arrested around 14 December (1934 — Ed.)”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): op. cit.; p. 53).

Grigory Zinoviev and Lev KAMENEV* and five of their associates were:

“Arrested ‘in Moscow’ on 16 December ‘in connection with the Kirov murder.”

(Robert Conquest (1989): ibid.; p. 54, citing ‘Pravda’, 23 December 1934).

But on 23 December it was announced that:

“In the absence of sufficient evidence to put them on trial”,

(J. Arch Getty: op. cit.; p. 209).

Their cases had:

“Been handed over for examination to the Special Board of the NKVD with a view to the summary exile of these persons. Investigations in connection with the other arrested persons are proceeding”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): op. cit.; p. 55, citing ‘Pravda’, 23 December 1934).

The Trial of the ‘Leningrad Terrorist Centre’ (1935)

On 28-29 December 1934, the trial took place of Nikolayev, Kotolnyov and 10 other defendants accused of conspiracy to murder Kirov:

“All twelve accused, who were stated to have belonged to a ‘Leningrad Centre’, were sentenced to death and immediately shot”.

(Friedrich Adler: ‘The Witchcraft Trial in Moscow’; London; 1936; p. 25).

The First Trial of Kamenev and Zinoviev (1935)

In January 1935 it was announced that further investigation had produced:

“. . new material”.

(‘Crime’ (1935): op. cit.; p. 33).

relating to the activities of Kamenev, Yevdokimov, Zinoviev and others, and on 13 January they were indicted as members of the:

“. . so -called ‘Moscow Centre.”

(‘Crime’ (1935): ibid,; p. 33-34).

It was admitted that the further investigation had:

“Not established facts which might serve as grounds for directly accusing the members of the ‘Moscow Centre’ of having given their consent to . . . the terrorist attack committed against Comrade Kirov”,

(‘Crime’ (1935): ibid.; p. 41).

nevertheless, said the indictment, the facts proved:

“That they were aware of the terrorist sentiments of the members of the group and that they inflamed those sentiments”.

(‘Crime’ (1935): ibid.; p. 41).

and so:

“Must bear not only moral and political responsibility, but also responsibility before Soviet law, for the consequences of their underground counter-revolutionary activities which induced their Leningrad group to resort to terrorist acts”.

(‘Crime’ (1935): ibid; p. 41).

From 15 to 16 January 1935, the first trial of Kamenev, Zinoviev, Yevdokimov, Bakayev and 15 other defendants took place in Leningrad in camera before the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court.

The defendant Yevdokimov admitted in court:

“When we are blamed for a terrorist attitude, I firmly declare: yes, for that we must take responsibility, for the venom by which we poisoned those who surrounded us over the last decade and which made possible a supreme crime, the murder of Kirov”.

(Grigory Yevdokimov: Testimony at 1935 Trial, in: Robert Conquest (1989): op. cit.; p. 65, citing ‘Pravda’, 16 January 1935).

A summary of the trial was published in ‘Pravda’:

“The accused confessed . . . that they had tried . . . to strengthen their supporters’ feelings of bitterness and open hatred for the leaders of the Party and for Soviet power. . .
They were forced by the weight of the evidence to confess that in that poisionous, Zinovievist underground counter-revolutionary cesspool, they developed and strengthened authentic Whiteguard methods of struggle against Soviet power, and an openly terroristic temperament that led to the foul murder of Comrade Kirov”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): ibid.; p. 65, citing ‘Pravda’, 17 January 1935).

In short, at the trial, Kamenev and Zinoviev:

“Denied that they took any part in the murder of Comrade Kirov. . . . . stating at the trial that they bore only moral and political responsibility for the assassination of Comrade Kirov”.

(Report of Court Proceedings: The Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Centre (hereafter listed as ‘Report’ (1936); London; 1973; p. 10).

The accused were found guilty. Zinoviev and three minor figures were sentenced:

“to ten years’ imprisonment as the ‘active leaders’ and ‘most active members’ of the underground group”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): ibid.; p. 66).

Most of the others were sentenced:

“To eight or six years for ‘active participation’ and membership'”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): ibid.; p. 66).

while Kamenev and two other defendants were sentenced to five years as:

” . . less active members.”

(Robert Conquest (1989): ibid.; p. 66).

In addition:

” . . . . the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs sentenced 49 persons involved in the matter of the Zinoviev group to internment in camps for criminals for a period of four to five years, and 29 other persons to be removed to various places in the country for a period of two to five years.”

(Friedrich Adler: op cit.; p. 26).

The Trial of the Leningrad Security Police Officials (1935)

On 23 January 1935,

“The police officials whose arrest had been announced on 4 December were brought to trial”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): op. cit.; p. 69).

The 12 defendants, who included the head of the Leningrad NKVD Filip MEJDVED and his two deputies Ivan Zaporozhets and Fedor FOMIN, were charged with varying degrees of:

“Criminal negligence. All . . . pleaded guilty”,

(Robert Conquest (1989): op. cit.; p. 69, 70).

and were sentenced to terms of imprisonment of between ten and three years (Robert Conquest (1989): op. cit.; p. 70).

The convicted police officials were in fact treated very leniently:

“The chiefs of the Leningrad section of the Commissariat for Internal Affairs and their deputies . . . were . . . given responsible posts in the administratrion of the concentration camps to which they were sent. Actually, therefore, the punishment meant nothing more than a reduction in rank”.

(Boris Nikolayevsky: ‘Power and the Soviet Elite: “The Letter of an Old Bolshevik” and Other Essays’; New York; 1965; p. 53).

The Second Trial of Kamenev (1935)

The Yenukidze Affair (see Report No. 12) in the summer of 1935, involved:

“a woman employee in the Kremlin library. Among the forty-six persons arrested was Kamenev (whose brother was a doctor in the Kremlin)”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): op. cit.,; p. 78).

He was:

“sentenced on July 27 1935 to imprisonment for ten years”.

(‘Report’ (1936): op. cit.; p. 174).

The Trial of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Centre (1936)

In the late spring of 1936:

” Zinoviev, Kamenev, Yevdokimov and Bakayev were brought back from their isolators to face a new interrogation, with the veteran I. N. SMIRNOV“.

(Robert Conquest (1989): op. cit.; p. 79).

The Indictment:

“Was published on 15 August, and on 19 August the trial opened in public, . . . . with representatives of the Western press and diplomatic corps present”.

(Robert Conquest (1889): op. cit.; p. 80).

The seven principal defendants were:

Ivan Bakayev,
Grigory Yevdokimov,
Lev Kamenev,
Sergei MRACHOVSKY*,
Ivan Smirnov,
Vagvarshak TER-VAGANYAN*, and
Grigory Zinoviev,

and there were ten minor defendants, making 16 in all. (‘Report’ (1936): op. cit.; p. 38-39).

Leon TROTSKY and his son Leon SEDOV* were indicted in absentia:

“L. Trotsky and his son L. L. Sedov, both of whom are abroad, having been exposed by the materials in the present case as having directly prepared and personally guided the work of organising in the USSR terroristic acts against the leaders of the CPSU and of the Soviet State, in the event of their being discovered on the territory of the USSR, are subject to immediate arrest and trial”.

(‘Report’ (1936): ibid.; p. 39).

14 of the defendants (including all the major figures except Ivan Smirnov):

“pleaded guilty on all charges”.

(‘Report’ (1936): ibid.; p. 40).

Smirnov and one of the minor defendants denied:

“Only . . . personal participation in the preparation of terroristic acts”.

(‘Report’ (1936): ibid.; p. 40).

The defendant Sergei Mrachovsky testified that at the end of 1932, a unified terrorist bloc was formed between the Trotskyites and the Zinovievites and:

“That in the second half of 1932 the question was raised of the necessity of uniting the Trotskyite terrorist group with the Zinovievites. The question of this unification was raised by I. N. Smirnov. . . . In the autumn of 1932 a letter was received from Trotsky in which he approved the decision to unite with the Zinovievites. . . Union must take place on the basis of terrorism, and Trotsky once again emphasised the necessity of killing Stalin, Voroshiloy and Kirov.. . . The terrrorist bloc of the Trotskyites and the Zinovievites was formed at the end of 1932”.

(‘Report’ (1936): op. cit.; p. 41-42).

The defendants Grigory Zinoviev, Grigory Yevdokimov and Lev Kamenev admitted that Kirov’s murder had been organised by this unified Trotskyite-Zinovievite terrorist centre:

“VYSHINSKY (TO ZINOVIEV): Was the assassination of Sergei Mironovich Kirov organised by your centre . . .?

ZINOVIEV: Yes, by our centre.

VYSHINSKY: In that centre there were you, Kamenev, Smirnov, Mrachovsky and Ter-Vaganyan?

ZINOVIEV: Yes.

VYSHINSKY: So you all organised the assassination of Kirov?

ZINOVIEV: Yes”.

(‘Report’ (1936): ibid.; p. 44-45).

“VYSIIINSKY: Was the murder of Sergei Mironoviuch Kirov prepared by the centre?

YEVDOKIMOV: Yes.

VYSHINSKY: You personally took part in these preparations?

YEVDOKIMOV: Yes.

VYSHINSKY: Did Zinoviev and Kamenev participate with you in the preparations?

YEVDOKIMOV: Yes”.

(‘Report’ (1936): op. cit.; p. 49).

“VYSHINSKY (TO KAMENEV): Did you give instructions to make preparations for the assassination of Kirov?

KAMENEV: Yes, in the autumn. .The terrorist conspiracy was organised by myself, Zinoviev and Trotsky. . .In June 1934 I myself went to Leningrad . . . to prepare an attempt on the life of Kirov parallel with the Nikolayev-Kotolynov group. .

VYSHINSKY: Was Kirov’s assassination directly the work of your hands?

KAMENEV: Yes”.

(‘Report’ (1936): ibid.; p. 46, 65, 67).

Both Grigory Yevdokimov and Grigory Zinoviev admitted that they had lied at their previous trial in January 1935 when they had denied involvement in planning Kirov’s assassination:

“VYSHINSKY (TO YEVDOKIMOV): At the trial in Leningrad, on January l5-16, 1935, when facing the court as you do now, you emphatically asserted that you had nothing to do with that murder. At that time you told untruths?

YEVDOKIMOV: Yes, I deceived the court

(‘Report’ (1936): op. cit.; p. 47).

“VYSHINSKY: Are you telling the whole truth now?

ZINOVIEV: Now I am telling the whole truth to the end.

VYSHINSKY: Remember that on January 15-16 1935, at the session of the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court, you also asserted that you were telling the whole truth.

ZINOVIEV: Yes, On January 15-16 I did not tell the whole truth.

VYSHINSKY: You did not tell the truth, but you maintained that you were telling the truth”.

(‘Report’ (1936): op. cit.; p. 72).

Defendant Ivan Bakayev admitted conspiring with the assassin, Leonid Nikolayev, to murder Kirov:

“VYSHINSKY (TO BAKAYEV): Did you meet Nikolayev in Leningrad?
BAKAYEV: Yes. . . .

VYSHINSKY: Nikolayev told you that he had decided to assassinate S. M. Kirov, didn’t he?

BAKAYEV: He did. .

VYSHINSKY: Did you take part in the assassination of Comrade Kirov?

BAKAYEV: Yes. .

VYSHINSKY: You were the organiser of the assassination of Kirov?

BAKAYEV: Well, yes, but I was not the only one”.

(‘Report’ (1936): op. cit.; p. 49, 61, 62).

The defendants waived their right to speeches in their defence, but made their last pleas to the court, as follows:

“MRACHOVSKY: I am a counter-revolutionary. . . I do not ask for mitigation of my punishment. . I depart as a traitor to my Party, as a traitor who should be shot.

YEVDOKIMOV: I don’t consider it possible to plead for clemency. Our crimes against the proletarian state and against the international revolutionary movement are too great to make it possible for us to expect clemency. . .

BAKAYEV: I am guilty of the assassination of Kirov. I took a direct part in the preparation of other terroristic acts against the leaders of the Party and the government. .

KAMENEV: I, together with Zinoviev and Trotsky, was the organiser and leader of a terrorist plot which planned and prepared a number of terroristic attempts on the lives of the leaders of the government and Party of our country, and which carried out the assassination of Kirov.

ZINOVIEV: I admit that I am fully and completely guilty . . . of having been an organiser of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite bloc second only to Trotsky, the bloc which set itself the aim of assassinating Stalin, Voroshilov and a number of other leaders of the Party and the government. I plead guilty to having been principal organiser of the assassination of Kirov. .

TER-VAGANYAN: I bow my head in guilt before the Court and say:
whatever your decision may be, however stern your verdict, I accept it as deserved.

(‘Report’ (1936): ibid.; p. 165-73).

All 16 accused were found guilty and sentenced: “to be shot”. (‘Report’ (1936): ibid.; p. 180);

On 25 August 1936:

“It was announced . . . that all the accused had been shot.”

(Robert Conquest (1989): op. cit.; p. 86).

The 1937 Treason Trial (1937)

At the second public treason trial in January 1937:

PYATAKOV*, RADEK* and fifteen others were accused of having been a ‘Reserve Centre’, kept secret in case the Zinoviev plotters were discovered. The group shot in August 1936 were now accused of having deceived the court by concealing this second network”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): op. cit.; p. 95).

At this trial,

“Little was said about the Kirov case”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): op. cit.; p. 95).

But Yuri Pyatakov and Karl Radek testified that in July 1935, after the murder of Kirov, this ‘Reserve Centre’ has discussed the question of multiple assassinations of the Party leadership as a whole:

“RADEK: In July 1935, . . . there arose the question that it was senseless killing single individuals. This would produce no political results. .

VYSHINSKY: Do I understand you rightly: it was not enough to have killed Comrade Kirov, others must be killed also?

RADEK: Either abandon terrorism altogether, or start seriously organising mass terrorist acts which would give rise to a situation bringing us nearer to power. . Trotsky’s directive concerning terrorist acts, group acts, arrived in January 1936. .

VYSHINSKY: In the second half of 1935, . . . were preparations being made in your midst for a group terrorist act?

RADEK: Yes, there were. .
When the question arose against whom terrorism should be directed.. . .
I . . did not have the slightest doubt that the acts were to be directed against Stalin and his immediate colleagues, against Kirov, Molotov, Voroshilov and KAGANOVICH*“.

(Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Centre; Moscow; 1937; p. 72, 74, 77, 89).

The 1938 Treason Trial (1938)

In February 1937:

BUKHARIN* and RYKOV*, leaders of the ‘Rightists’, were arrested.
Yagoda was arrested in April 1937″.

(Robert Conquest (1989): op. cit.; p. 96).

and the 1938 treason trial, like those of 1936 and 1937 held in public,

“opened on 2 March 1938”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): ibid.; p. 97).

From the point of view of the Kirov murder:

“The main interest of the trial was that it was now that the NKVD was first publicly blamed not for mere negligence but for active complicity in the crime”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): ibid.; p. 97).

It was now revealed that Cenrikh Yagoda, who had held the post of People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs (in charge of the NKVD) from July 1934 to September 1936, had been a leading member of the conspiracy. Yagoda’s secretary, Pavel Bulanov, testified that:

“In the early part of 1936 . . . Yagoda . . . said that he had known that an attempt on S. M. Kirov was being prepared, that he had a reliable man in Leningrad who was inititiated into everything, Zaporozhets, Assistant Chief of the Leningrad Regional Administration of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs, and that he had so arranged matters as to facilitate the assassination of Kirov by Nikolayev. . . . The whole affair was nearly exposed when, several days before the assassination of Kiroy, the guard detained Nikolayev by mistake, and a notebook and revolver were found in his portfilio, but . . . Zaporozhets released him in time”.

(‘Report’ (1938): op. cit.; p. 558).

Yagoda himself confirmed that, on orders from Avel Yenukidze, the Secretary of the Central Executive Committee and a member of the conspiracy, he had instructed Zaporozhets to facilitate the assassination of Kirov by Nikolayev:

“VYSHINSKY (TO YAGODA): Did you personally take any measures to effect the assassination of Sergei Mironovich Kirov?

YAGODA: I gave instructions

VYSHINSKY: To whom?

YAGODA: To Zaporozhets in Leningrad. . . . Zaporozhets came to Moscow and reported that a man had been detained. . . .

VYSHINSKY: In whose brief-case. . .

YAGODA: There was a revolver and a diary. And he released him. . . .

VYSHINSKY: And then you gave instructions not to place obstacles in the way of the murder of Sergei Mironovich Kirov?.

YAGODA: Yes, I did.. . . .

YAGODA: In 1934, in the summer, Yenukidze informed me that the centre of the ‘bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’ had adopted a decision to organise the assasination of Kirov. . . . Yenukidze insisted that I was not to place any obstacles in the way; the terrorist act, he said, would be carried out by the Trotskyite-Zinovievite group. Owing to this, I was compelled to instruct Zaporozhets, who occupied the post of Assistant Chief of the Regional Administation of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs, not to place any obstacles in the way of the terrorist act against Kirov. Some time later Zaporozhets informed me that the organs the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs had detained Nikolayev, in whose possession a revolver and a chart of the route Kirov usually took had been found. Nikolayev was released, Soon after that Kirov was assassinated by this very Nikolayev”.

(‘Report'(1938): ibid.; p. 376, 572-73).

Bulanov also testified that Yagoda and Zaporozhets had arranged the murder of Kirov’s bodyguard, Borisov:

“Yagoda further told me that . . . when members of the government came to Leningrad and summoned this Borisov to the Smolny to interrogate him as a witness in connection with the assassination of Kirov, Zaporozhets, being alarmed by this and fearing that Borisov would betray those who stood behind Nikolayev, decided to kill Borisoy. On Yagoda’s instructions, Zaporozhets arranged it that an accident occurred to the automobile which took Borisov to the Smolny. Borisov was killed in the accident, and in this way they got rid of a dangerous witness”.

(‘Report’ (1938): ibid.; p. 558-59).

and explained the privileged treatment accorded to the convicted security police officials as having been ordered by Yagoda:

“I then understood the exceptional and unusual solicitude which Yagoda had displayed when Medved, Zaporozhets and the other officials were arrested and brought to trial. I recalled that he had entrusted the care of the families of Zaporozhets and Medved to me personally. I recalled that he had had them sent for detention to the camp in an unusual way, not in the car for prisoners, but in a special through car”.

(‘Report’ (1938): ibid.; p. 559).

The 20th Congress of the CPSU (1956)

In his secret speech to the 20th Congress of the CPSU in February 1956, the revisionist First Secretary of the CPSU Nikita KHRUSHCHEV* recounted a garbled version of the murder of Kirov in such a way as to imply that Stalin had been responsible for organising it:

“It must be asserted that to this day the circumstances surrounding Kirov’s murder hide many things which are inexplicable and mysterious and demand a most careful examination. There are reasons for the suspicion that the killer of Kirov, Nikolayev, was assisted by someone from among the people whose duty it was to protect the person of Kirov. Before the killing, Nikolayev was arrested on the grounds of suspicious behaviour, but he was released and not even searched. It was an unusually suspicious circumstance that when the Chekist assigned to protect Kirov was being brought for an interrogation, on December 2 1934, he was killed in a car ‘accident’ in which no other occupants of the car were harmed. After the murder of Kirov, top functionaries of the NKVD were given very light sentences, but in 1937 they were shot. We can assume they were shot in order to cover the traces of the organisers of Kirov’s killing”.

(Nikita S. Khrushchev: Secret Speech to 20th Congress, CPSU (February 1956), in: ‘The Dethronement of Stalin’; op. cit.; p. 12).

Even Robert Conquest*, who maintains that:

“Stalin’s guilt (of organising the murder of Kirov — Ed.) is indeed scarcely in doubt”.

(Robert Conquest: Preface to: Robert Conquest (1989): op. cit.; p. vii).

feels compelled to admit that:

“Though Khrushchev adds the odd detail, what he reveals does not differ essentially from the evidence of Yagoda and Bulanov at the 1938 trial”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): ibid.; p. 113).

The 22nd Congress of the CPSU (1961)

In October 1961, at the 22nd Congress of the CPSU, Khrushchev again referred (this time publicly) to ‘suspicious’ features of the murder of Kirov:

“Great efforts are still needed to find out who was really to blame for his (Kirov’s – Ed.) death. The deeper we study the materials connected with Kirov’s death, the more questions arise. Noteworthy is the fact that Kirov’s killer had twice before been detained by Chekists (security men) near the Smolny, and that arms had been found on him. But he was released both times on someone’s instructions. And the next thing this man was in the Smolny, armed, in the corridor through which Kirov usually passed. And for some reason or other, at the moment of assassination Kirov’s chief bodyguard was far behind him, although instructions did not authorise him to be at such a distance away from Kirov.

Equally strange is the following fact: When Kirov’s chief bodyguard was being escorted for questioning – and he was to be questioned by Stalin, Molotov and Voroshilov – the vehicle, as the driver said afterwards, was deliberately involved in an accident by those who were taking the man for interrogation. They said that he had died as a result of the accident, although he was in fact killed by those who were escorting him.

In this way, the man who guarded Kirov was killed. Later, those who had killed him were shot. This was no accident, apparently, but a carefully planned crime. Who could have done this? A thorough inquiry is now being made into the circumstances of this complicated case.

As it turned out, the driver of the vehicle in which Kirov’s chief bodyguard was being taken for questioning is still alive. He has said that an NKVD man sat with him in his cabin during the journey. They went in a lorry. (It is, of course, very strange why a lorry should have been used to take the man for questioning, as if no other vehicle could have been found for the purpose).

Evidently, everything had been planned in advance, in detail. Two other NKVD men were in the back of the lorry together with Kirov’s chief bodyguard.
Continuing his story, the driver said that when they were driving along a street, the man sitting next to him suddenly wrested the steering wheel from his hands and directed the vehicle straight at a house. The driver had regained control of the wheel and steered the lorry so that it hit the wall of the building only sideways. He had been later -told that Kirov’s chief bodyguard had lost his life in the accident.

Why did he lose his life while none of the other people in the vehicle suffered? Why were both the officials of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs who escorted Kirov’s chief bodyguard later shot? This means that someone had to have them killed in order to cover up all the traces.

Many, very many circumstances of this and other similar cases are still obscure”.

(Nikita S. Khrushchev: Report on the Programme of the CPSU, delivered to 22nd Congress of the CPSU (October 1961); London; 1961; p. 111-12).

As Robert Conquest comments:

‘Once again, the story was not incompatible with the Yagoda-Bulanov
version. . . .
Khrushchev . effectively repeated the accusations against Yagoda,
Zaporozhets and the NKVD”.

(Robert Conqest (1989): op. cit.; p. 115, 116).

However, although no direct accusation was made, the implication of Khrushchev’s diatribe was that:

“. . . the true culprit or culprits had yet to be named”,

(Robert Conqest (1989): op. cit.; p. 115).

and that these were headed by Stalin.

Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, refers to the

” . . . transparent hints”

(Sevetlana Alliluyeva: ‘Twenty Letters to a Friend’; London; 1968; p.147.

that Stalin had organised the murder of Kirov.

The Commissions of Inquiry (1956-91)

In 1956-57 the Politburo of the Central Committe of the Party set up a Commission of Inquiry into the murder of Kirov:

“It took a large amount of evidence – 200 volumes is the f igure mentioned. Hundreds of witnesses were called, and the commission had access to all the secret archives. . . *
The Commission went to look at the scene of Borisov’s accident, and heard the driver’s evidence”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): ibid.; p. 115).

However, one must presume that it proved impossible to reconcile the draft report with hypothesis desired by the revisionist leaders — that Stalin had master-minded Kirov’s murder — for

“. . . none of this was made public, and it is unoffically reported that the Commission’s report was simply shelved”.

(Robert Conquest (1989): ibid.; p. 115).

“The Commission’s report has never been made public”.

(Alan Bullock: ‘Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives’; London; 1991; p. 520).

In addition to the Commission of the 1950s, there were

” . . . at least two investigations in the 1960s, the PELSHE* Commission and the SHVERNIK* Commission”.

(J. Arch Getty & Roberta T. Manning (Eds.): Perspectives’; Cambridge; 1993; p. 46).

In 1989 a further Commission — the YAKOVLEV* Commission — was organised, charged with filling the ‘gaps’ left by the earlier inquiries:

“A. Yakovlev’s Politburo Commission . . . appointed an intra-agency investigative team consisting of personnel from the USSR Procurator’s Office, the Military Procuracy, the KGB and various archival administrations. For two years, this team conducted interviews, reviewed
thousands of documents, and attempted to check all possible scenarios; their work has added another fifteen volumes to the thirty-year old efforts. . . . The team’s charter was to show Stalin’s complicity . . . It had little political incentive to let him off the hook; quite the contrary. Nevertheless, members of the working team concluded that in this affair, no materials objectively support Stalin’s participation or NKVD participation in the organisation and carrying out of Kirov’s murder’. The team concludes that only ‘one-sided, superficial, unverified facts, rumours and conjectures’ support Stalin complicity”.

(J. Arch Getty & Roberta T. Manning (Eds.): op. cit.; p. 46-47).

True, Olga Shatunovskaia:

“has recently written that the Kirov investigation in the 1960s had uncovered
convincing evidence that Stalin was behind the assassination …. and claimed that materials from the 1960 investigation have since been removed by Party Control Commission (KPK) personnel in order to change that investigation’s conclusion”.

(J. Arch Getty & Roberta T. Manning (Eds.): ibid.; p. 46).

And yet:

” . . . in 1989 investigators checked the earlier commission’s documents against KPK and KGB files and concluded that nothing is missing from the earlier collection. They also found that as a Khrushchev-backed KPK investigator back in 1960, Shatunovskaia . . . at that time agreed with the conclusion that Stalin had not organised the killing”.

(J. Arch Getty & Roberta T. Manning (Eds.): ibid.; p. 46).

The Myth of Stalin’s Involvement (1953-94)

The myth that Stalin masterminded the murder of Kirov first appeared in the West in 1953 as a propaganda weapon in the ‘Cold War’:

“Before the Cold War, no serious authority argued that Stalin was behind the assassination (of Kirov — Ed.). The KGB defector Aleksandr ORLOV* was the first to make such a claim in his dubious 1953 account. Boris Nikolaevsky repeated the story in his influential 1956 essays (his 1936 ‘Letter of an Old Bolshevik’ had not accused Stalin”.

(J. Arch Getty: op. cit.; p. 207).

The usual motive attached to the myth was that Kirov was a ‘moderate’ political opponent of Stalin:

“The standard view of Stalinist pre-purge politics in the thirties, derived from an oral tradition, runs roughly as follows. At the end of the first Five-Year Plan (1932), a majority of the Politburo favoured relaxation and reconciliation with political opponents. Led by the Leningrad party chief, Serge Kirov, this group of Stalinist ‘moderates’ opposed Stalin’s plans to apply the death penalty to . . . adherents of the ‘Ryutin Platform’. . . .
After that, Stalin planned to eliminate the popular Kirov.
This scenario of the Kirov affair comes to us almost entirely from two sources: . . . Boris J. Nikolaevsky and NKVD defector Aleksander Orlov.
. . Virtually all versions of the story inside and outside the USSR can be traced to one of these two original presentations”.

(J. Arch Getty & Roberta T. Manning (Eds.): op. cit.; p. 42-43).

On Orlov, the revisionist historian Roy MEDVEDEV* writes:

“It is obvious, in short, that Orlov’s 1956 article is a clumsy fabrication”

(Roy A. Medvedev: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism’; London; 1972; p. 318).

while BUKHARIN*‘s widow Anna LARINA* writes of Nikolaevsky:

“I consider both the ‘Letter of an Old Bolshevik’ and the interview’ with Nikolaevsky to be spurious documents”.

(Anna Larina: “This I cannot forget; The Memoirs of Nikolai Bukharin’s Wife’; London; 1993; p. 276).

In fact, most historians agree that there is no evidence that Kirov was a ‘moderate’ or had any political differences with Stalin:

“Kirov’s speech to the 1934 Party Congress, . . . actually praised the secret police’s use of forced labour and ridiculed the opposition. . . . Kirov was identified with Stalin, and the parts of his speech producing general ovations were the parts in which he praised Stalin and abused the opposition. . . . Careful scrutiny of Kirov’s speeches and writings reveal little difference between them and Stalin’s utterances, and Soviet scholars familiar with closed party archives scoff at the notion that Kirov was a moderate, an opponent of Stalin or the leader of any bloc. .

The Politburo Commission’s examination of the Ryutin group did not find any evidence that Stalin demanded their execution in 1932, or that Kirov opposed it”.

(J. Arch Getty & Roberta T. Manning (Eds.): op. cit.; p. 45).

“Stalin and Kirov were allies and . . . Kirov’s death was not the occasion for any change in policy . . . .
Virtually no evidence suggests that Kirov favoured or advocated any specific policy line other than Stalin’s General Line. . . .
Stalin chose Kirov for the sensitive Leningraad party leadership position and trusted him with delicate ‘trouble-shooter’ missions”.

(J. Arch Getty: op. cit.; p. 92, 93, 94).

Indeed, documents recently released with the intention of charging Stalin with organising Kirov’s murder have, paradoxically, tended to establish his non-involvement:

“Recent revelations, intended to show Stalin’s personal participation in the repression, have paradoxically produced documents and factual evidence that dispprove or contradict key elements of this story. The traditional understanding of Stalin’s motive, means and opportunity to arrange Kirov’s assassination. . . . can no longer be comfortably reconciled with the sources now available”.

(J. Arch Getty & Roberta T. Manning (Eds.): op. cit.; p. 43-44).

And other anti-Soviet defectors agree. For example, Grigory TOLKAEV*

” . . . believed that the assassination was really the work of misguided young oppositionists”,

(J. Arch Getty: op. cit.; p. 207).

while Genrikh LIUSHKOV*

” . . . an KNVD defector who outranked Orlov protectors ….. . told his Japanese that Stalin was not involved”.

(J. Arch Getty: op. cit.; p. 207).

To sum up.

” . . . neither the sources, circumstances nor consequences of the crime suggest Stalin’s complicity. . . . There is no good reason to believe that Stalin connived at Kirov’s assassination”.

(J. Arch Getty: op. cit.; p. 210).

Conclusion

SERGEI KIROV WAS MURDERED BY A GROUP OF REVISIONIST CONSPIRATORS WHO WERE CORRECTLY FOUND GUILTY AT THEIR TRIALS IN 1936-38.

THERE IS NO EVIDENCE TO SUGGEST THAT STALIN WAS INVOLVED IN THE MURDER OR HAD ANY MOTIVE FOR INVOLVEMENT.

Published by: THE MARXIST-LENINIST RESEARCH BUREAU

Bibliography

ADLER, Friedrich: ‘The Witchcraft Trial in Moscow’; London; 1936.

ALLILUYEVA, Svetlana: ’20 Letters to a Friend’; London; 1967.

ANTONOV-OVSEENKO, Anton: York; 1983. ‘The Time of Stalin:

Portrait of a Tyranny’; New York 1983;

BULLOCK, Alan: ‘Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives’; London; 1991.

CONQUEST, Robert: ‘The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties’; London; 1973.

——-: ‘Stalin and the Kirov Murder’; London; 1989.

DEGRAS, Jane (Ed.): ‘Soviet Documents on Foreign Affairs’, Volume 3; London; 1953.

GETTY, J. Arch: ‘Origins of the Great Purges: The Soviet Communist Party Reconsidered: 1933-1938’; Cambridge; 1985.

GETTY, J. Arch & MANNING, Roberta T. (Eds.): Perspectives’; Cambridge; 1993.

KHRUSHCHEV, Nikita S.: Secret Speech to 20th Congress of CPSU, in: ‘The ‘The Dethronement of Stalin’; Manchester; 1956.

—–: Report on the Programme of the CPSU, delivered to the 22nd Congress of the CPSU; London; 1961.

KRASNIKOV, Stepan V.: ‘Sergei Mironovich Kirov’; Moscow; 1964.

LARINA, Anna: ‘This I cannot forget: The Memoirs of Anna Larina, Nikolai Bukharin’s Wife’; London; 1993.

NIKOLAEVSKY, Boris: ‘Power and the Soviet Elite: “The Letter of an Old Bolshevik’; New York; 1965.

ORLOV, Alexander: ‘The Secret History of Stalin’s Crimes’; London; 1954.

———‘The Crime of the Zinoviev Opposition’; Moscow; 1935.

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

——– Report of the Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Centre; Moscow; 1937.

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

Biographical Notes

AGRANOV, Yakov, Soviet revisionist politician (1893-1939); Deputy People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs (1921-34); Deputy Chairman, GPU (1934); expelled from CPSU (1937); arrested, tried and found guilty of subversion (1937); died in imprisonment (1938).

BAKAYEV, Ivan P. , Soviet revisionist politician (1887-1936); found guilty of subversion and sentenced to imprisonment (1935); re-arrested, retried for treason, found guilty, sentenced to death and executed (1936),

BALMASHEV, Stepan V., Russian terrorist (1881-1902); member, Socialist Revolutionary Party; assassinated Tsarist Minister of the Interior Dmitri S. Sitiagin (1853-1902); hanged (1902).

BUKHARIN, Nikolai I., Soviet revisionist politician (1888-1938); editor, ‘Communist’ and ‘Pravda’ (1918-31); President, Communist International (1925); editor, ‘Izvestia’ (1934-37); expelled from CP and arrested (1937); tried for and found guilty of treason, sentenced to death and executed (1938).

BULANOV, Pavel P., Soviet revisionist politician 1895-1938); secretary to Genrikh Yagoda (1929-37); arrested (1937); tried for and found guilty of treason, sentenced to death and executed (1938).

KAGANOVICH, Lazar M., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1893-1991); secretary, CC, RCP (1924-25, 1928-30); General Secretary, CP Ukraine (1925-28); member, Political Bureau, AUCP/CPSU (1930-57); 1st Secretary, AUCB, Moscow District (1930-35); USSR People’s Commissar of Transport (1935-37, 1938-48); USSR People’s Commissar of Heavy Industry (1937-39); USSR People’s Commissar of Fuel Industry (1939-40); member, USSR State Defence Committee (1942-43); Minister of Construction Materials Industry (1946); lst Secretary, CP Ukraine (1947-55); director, Sverdlovsk Cement Works (1957-60); expelled from CP (1960),

KAMENEV, Lev B., Soviet revisionist politician (1883-1936); USSR People’s Commissar of Foreign Trade (1926-27); expelled CP (1927); readmitted (1928); re-expelled (1932); readmitted (1933); re-expelled (1934); sentenced to imprisonment for subversion (1935); retried for and found guilty of treason, sentenced to death and executed (1936).

KHRUSHCHEV, Nikita S., Soviet revisionist politician (1894-1971); lieutenant-general (1943); 1st, Secretary, CP Ukraine (1947-49); 1st Secretary, CP,. Moscow District and Secretary, CP, AUCP (1949-53); 1st Secretary, CPSU (1953-64); USSR Premier (1958-64).

KIROV, Sergei M., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1888-1934); RSFSR Minister to Georgia (1920); Secretary, CC, CP Azerbaijan (1921-26); 1st Secretary Leningrad District Committee, AUCP (1926-34); member, Political Bureau, CC, CPSU (1930-34); Secretary, CC, CPSU (1934); murdered by revisionist conspirators (1934).

KOSAREV, Aleksandr V., Soviet revisionist youth leader (1903-39); Secretary. Moscow Communist Youth League (1926-27); Secretary, CC, CYL (1927-28); General Secretary, CYL (1929 -36);

KOTOLNYOV, Ivan I., Soviet revisionist student (1905-34); arrested, tried for and found guilty of treason, sentenced to death and executed (1934).

LARINA, Anna M., (1914- ); married Nikolai Bukharin (1934).

LIUSHKOV, Genrikh S., Soviet revisionist security official (1900-45); defected to Japanese (1938); executed by Japanese (1945).,

MAISKY, Ivan M., Soviet revisionist diplomat (1884-1975); USSR Minister to Finland (1929-32); USSR Ambassador to Britain (1932-43); USSR Deputy People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs (1943-46).

MEDVEDEV, Roy A, Soviet revisionist historian (1925- Deputy Editor–inChief, Publishing House of Educational Literature (1957-61); divisional head, Research Institute of Vocational Literature (1962-71); free-lance writer (1971-).

MOLOTOV, Vyacheslav M., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1890-1986); Secretary, CC, AUCP (1921-30); member, Political Bureau, AUCP (1926-52); USSR Deputy Premier (1930-41); USSR People’s Commissar/Minister of Foreign Affairs (1939-49, 1953-56); USSR Deputy Premier (1941-57); member, State Defence Committee (1941-45); USSR Minister of State Control (1956-57); USSR Ambassador to Mongolia (1957-60); Chief USSR Delegate to International Atomic Energy Commission (1960-62); retired (1962); expelled from CP (1964); re-admitted (1984).

MRACHOVSKY, Sergei V., Soviet revisionist politician (1888-1936); expelled from CP (1927); re-admitted (1936); re-expelled (1936); arrested, tried for and found guilty of treason, sentenced to death and executed (1936).

NIKOLAYEV, Leonid V., Soviet revisionist terrorist (1904-35); expelled from and re-admitted to CP (1934); assassinated Sergei Kirov (1934); tried and found guilty of treason, sentenced to death and executed (1935).

ORLOV, Aleksdandr’ (= FELDBIN,Lev L.), Soviet revisionist intelligence officer (1895-1973); defected to USA (1937); died in USA (1973).

PELSHE, Arvid I., Latvian-born Soviet revisionist politician (1899-1983); Secretary, CC, AUCP/CPSU (1941-59); 1st Secretary, CP Latvia (1959-66); Chairman, Party Control Commission (1966-85); member, Political Bureau, CC, CPSU (1966-85).

PYATAKOV, Grigory (Yuri) L., Soviet revisionist politician (1890-1937); USSR Deputy People’s Commissar of Heavy Industry (1933-34); expelled from CP (1927); readmitted (1929); re-expelled (1936); tried for and found guilty of treason, sentenced to death and executed (1937),

RADEK, Karl B., Soviet revisionist politician (1885-1939); Secretary, Communist International (1920-24); expelled from CP (1927); re-admitted (1929); editor, ‘Izvestia’ (1931-36); re-expelled and arrested (1936); tried for and found guilty of subversion and sentenced to imprisonment (1937); died in prison (1939).

RYKOV, Aleksey I., Soviet revisionist politician (1881-1938); Chairman, RSFSR Supreme Council of National Economy (1918-21); member, Political Bureau, CC, AUCP (1922-30); USSR Premier (1924-30); USSR People’s Commissar of Communications (1931-36); expelled from CP (1937); tried for and found guilty of treason, sentenced to death and executed (1938).

SEDOV, Leon, Soviet revisionist politician (1905-38); son of Leon Trotsky; to Germany (1928); editor, ‘Bulletin of the Opposition’ (1928-38); to France (1933); died in France (1938).

SHVERNIK, Nikolai M., Soviet revisionist trade union leader and politician (1888-1970); member, Presidium, Central Control Commission, RCP/AUCP (1923-25); Secretary, Leningrad District Committee, AUCP (1925-26); Secretary, Central Comittee, AUCP (1926-27); Chairman, Metal Workers’ Union (1929-30); 1st Secretary, All-Union Council of Trade Unions (193044); USSR President (1946-53); member, Political Bureau, CC, CPSU (195253, 1957-66); Chairman, AUCTU (1953-56); Chairman, Party Control Committee (1956-66).

SMIRNOV, Ivan N., Soviet revisionist politician (1881-1936); expelled from CP (1927); readmitted (1930); re-expelled, tried for and found guilty of subversion and sentenced to imprisonment (1933); retried for and found guilty of treason, sentenced to death and executed (1936).

TER-VAGANYAN, Vagarshak A, Soviet revisionist politician (1893-1936); arrested, tried for and found guilty of treason, sentenced to death and executed (1936).

VOROSHILOV, Kliment Y., Soviet revisionist miltary officer and politician (1881-1969); Commander, Moscow Military District (1924-35); Chairman, Revolutionary Military Council (1925-34); member, Political Bureau, CC, AUCP (1926-52); USSR People’s Commissar of Defence (1925-40); USSR Deputy Premier (1946-53); USSR President (1953-60); retired (1960).

YAGODA, Genrikh G., Soviet revisionist politician (1891-1938); Chairman, GPU (1934); USSR People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs (1934-36); USSR People’s Commissar of Communications (1936-37); arrested, tried for and found guilty of treason, and executed (1938).

YAKOVLEV, Aleksandr N., Soviet revisionist politician (1923- ); USSR Ambassador to Canada (1973-83); Director, Institute of World Economics and International Relations (1983-86); member, Political Bureau, CPSU (1987-90); retired (1990); resigned from CP (1991).

YEVDOKIMOV, Grigory, Soviet revisionist politician (1894-1936); secretary, Leningrad RCP (1925-27); expelled from CP (1927); readmitted (1928); arrested, tried for and found guilty of subversion and sentenced to imprisonment (1935); retried for and found guilty of treason and sentenced to death (1936).

YENUKIDZE, Avel S., Soviet revisionist civil servant (1877-1937); head, Military Section, All-Russian Central Executive Committee (1917-18); Secretary, All-Russian/USSR Central Executive Committee (1918-35); arrested, tried for and found guilty of treason, sentenced to death and executed (1937).

ZHDANOV, Andrei A., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1890-1948); Secretary, CPSU (1934-48); member, Political Bureau, CC, AUCP (1938-48); murdered by revisionists (1948).

ZHELIABOV, Andrei I., Russian terrorist (1851-81); member, ‘People’s Will’; one of organisers of the assassination of Tsar Aleksandr 11 (1855-81).

ZINOVIEV, Grigory Y., Soviet revisionist politician (1883-1936); President, Executive Committee of Communist International (1919-26); member, Political Bureau, CC, RCP/AUCP (1921-26); expelled from CP (1927); readmitted (1928); re-expelled (1932); re-expelled (1932); re-admitted (1933); re-expelled (1934); arrested (1934); tried for and found guilty of subversion and imprisoned (1935); re-tried for and found guilty of treason, sentenced to death and executed (1936).

Source

Jules Humbert-Droz on Nikolai Bukharin and the Use of Individual Terror Against Stalin

Bukharin1

“Before leaving I went to see Bukharin for one last time not knowing whether I would see him again upon my return. We had a long and frank conversation. He brought me up to date with the contacts made by his group with the Zinoviev-Kamenev fraction in order to coordinate the struggle against the power of Stalin. I did not hide from him that I did not approve of this liaison of the oppositions. ‘The struggle against Stalin is not a political programme. We had combatted with reason the programme of the Trotskyites on the essential questions, the danger of the kulaks in Russia, the struggle against the united front with the social-democrats, the Chinese problems, the very short-sighted revolutionary perspective, etc. On the morrow of a common victory against Stalin, the political problems will divide us. This bloc is a bloc without principles which will crumble away before achieving any results.’

Bukharin also told me that they had decided to utilise individual terror in order to rid themselves of Stalin. On this point as well I expressed my reservation: the introduction of individual terror into the political struggles born from the Russian Revolution would strongly risk turning against those who employed it. It had never been a revolutionary weapon. ‘My opinion is that we ought to continue the ideological and political struggle against Stalin. His line will lead in the near future to a catastrophe which will open the eyes of the communists and result in a changing of orientation. Fascism menaces Germany and our party of phrasemongers will be incapable of resisting it. Before the debacle of the Communist Party of Germany and the extension of fascism to Poland and to France, the International must change politics. That moment will then be our hour. It is necessary then to remain disciplined, to apply the sectarian decisions after having fought and opposed the leftist errors and measures, but to continue to struggle on the strictly political terrain’.

Bukharin doubtlessly had understood that I would not bind myself blindly to his fraction whose sole programme was to make Stalin disappear. This was our last meeting. It was clear that he did not have confidence in the tactic that I proposed. He also certainly knew better than I what crimes Stalin was capable of. In short, those who, after Lenin’s death and on the basis of his testament, could have destroyed Stalin politically, sought instead to eliminate him physically, when he held firmly in his hand the Party and the police apparatus of the state.”

 – Jules Humbert-Droz, Mémoirs de Jules Humbert-Droz. De Lénine à Staline. Dix ans au service de l’internationale communiste 1921-1931. Neufchâtel: A la Baconnière, 1971, pp. 379-80. Translated from the French by Vijay Singh.

Grover Furr: New Light On Old Stories About Marshal Tukhachevskii : Some Documents Reconsidered

tukhachevsky

Grover Furr
Montclair State University

Originally published in RUSSIAN HISTORY/HISTOIRE RUSSE, 13, Nos 2-3 (Summer-Fall 1986), 293-308.

The innocence of Marshal Tukhachevskii and the other military commanders condemned with him in 1937 has become firmly accepted by both Soviet and Western historians. [1] The current scholarly consensus also includes the view that “the nazi secret archives contain no sort of evidence of anything” like a plot between the Soviet military and Germany, that “not a jot of evidence has emerged from the German archives.” [2] The present article re-examines some of the material bearing upon the Tukhachevskii case which has come to light so far from the captured German Foreign Office files, and concludes that it suggests a plot of some kind involving Tukhachevskii and the German High Command may, in fact, have existed.

In 1974 a newly-discovered document from these files was examined by British historian Frederick L. Carsten. [3] It is a report concerning high-level rumors current in Munich in early 1937, which ended up in the Vienna Bureau of the Austrian Chancellor. Among other matters it deals with relations between the German and Soviet military commanders, about which it makes four points: 1) It claims that the top men in the German General Staff, including Generaloberst Freiherr Werner von Fritsch, Chief of Staff of the German Army (Chef der Heeresleitung), were at that time involved in trying to form an alliance with the Soviet military. 2) It claims that Marshal Tukhachevskii had been present at the German army’s autumn maneuvers in the past year (den vorjährigan detuschen Herbstmanoevern). 3) At that time Tukhachevskii is said to have proposed a toast to the German Army “as the champion (Vorkämpferin) against world Jewry.” and to Goring. 4) It claims that the German military was closely following the “power struggle presently taking place in Russia,” in hopes that Stalin would be overthrown in favor of a military dictatorship. [4]

Carsten denies the validity of the first three of these points on several grounds: 1) He claims that the last time any Russian officers attended German maneuvers was the autumn of 1933. 2) Though admitting that Tukhachevskii congratulated General Ernst Köstring, German military attaché in Moscow, upon the German army’s successful occupation of the Rhineland in March 1936, Carsten avers that “this is a far cry from being a declared anti-semite and a sympathizer with the Nazi ideology. Even Karl Radek congratulated General Köstring on the same occasion in Moscow.” [5] 3) For Carsten, the existence of this document is explained by the story that Reinhardt Heydrich’s Sicherheitsdienst (SK, the intelligence division of the SS) was busy fabricating a dossier of forged materials to incriminate Tukhachevskii and decapitate the Soviet military. No doubt, then the SD would have been “spreading this kind of `news’ about Tukhachevskii, his sympathies with Nazism and his allegedly intimate relations with leading German officers.” [6]

The present article uses an analysis of this report from the Austrian Bundeskanzleramt (BKA) as a framework within which other documents, including those from the German Foreign Office files which bear on the Tukhachevskii case, are re-examined. It examines each of the assertions (one through four) in the document, and each of Professor Carsten’s objections (1 through 3).

General Ernst Köstring former German military attaché  in Moscow, stated in memoires published in 1965 that “Autumn 1935 was the last instance of Russian officers participating (Teilnahme) in our maneuvers.” [7] Evidently Carsten has misinterpreted this passage, for Köstring  says nothing to rule out Soviet attendance at, as opposed to participation in, German maneuvers in later years. In letters to Paris at the time General Renondeau, French military attach‚ to Berlin, reported that Soviet officers attended German army maneuvers in both 1936 and 1937. [8] Apparently either Komkor (corps commander) Orlov (according to Renondeau) or Komandarm (army commander) Uborevich (as Walter Görlitz has it) were present at German maneuvers in autumn 1936. [9] Tukhachevskii, Uborevich, and Orlov were closely associated with the Soviet military cooperation with Germany under the Treaty of Rapallo. This association might account for the rumor, reported in the Austrian BKA document, that it was Tukhachevskii who had attended the 1936 German maneuvers (point one) — particularly since the marshal had visited Berlin at least once in 1936. [10] Thus the rumor is perhaps not very wide of the mark.

Carsten would have it (2) that it is hard to believe Tukhachevskii would have made such a pro-Nazi and anti- Semitic toast as the document recounts. In fact, the opposite is true: such a statement would have been entirely consistent with what was widely reputed to be Tukhachevskii’s attitude.

In 1928 a former French officer published a short biography of Tukhachevskii “Pierre Fervacque” — nom de plume of the French journalist Remy Roure — had been Tukhachevskii’s fellow prisoner-of-war in 1917 in the German officers’ camp at Ingolstadt, Bavaria. In his biographical sketch he set down the contents of several conversations he had had with the young Russian lieutenant during their captivity, among them the following:

— You are an anti-semite, then, I said to him. Why? — The Jews brought us Christianity. That’s reason enough to hate them. But then they are a low race. I don’t even speak of the dangers they create in my country. You cannot understand that, you French, for you equality is a dogma. The Jew is a dog, son of a dog, which spreads his fleas in every land. It is he who has done the most to inoculate us with the plague of civilization, and who would like to give us his morality also, the morality of money, of capital. — You are now a socialist, then? — A socialist? Not at all! What a need you have for classifying! Besides the great socialists are Jews and socialist doctrine is a branch of universal Christianity. … No, I detest socialists, Jews and Christians. [11]

Tukhachevskii never protested the contents of this well-known book. On the contrary, until shortly before his execution Tukhachevskii maintained friendly relations with Roure. He spoke with the French journalist at a banquet in Paris in 1936, and then three days later held another, private, conversation with him. Roure recalled in July 1937 that, in his book, he had portrayed the young Tukhachevskii as expressing horror and disgust for Western civilization and a juvenile love of “barbarism” in hair-raising tones (which, we note, could have come from the most radical Nazis). Twenty years later Tukhachevskii had mellowed, had become an admirer of French culture, but remained a “patriotic” pan-Slavic nationalist and imperialist who felt that, by serving Bolshevism, he had served his country. [12]

We have examined and rejected Carsten’s first two objections to the Austrian BKA report, and in so doing have determined that the second and third points made in that report accord well with facts attested elsewhere. We now turn to points four and one of the Austrian document. The fourth point is the claim that the German military was watching the “power struggle” (meaning the Moscow trials) in the USSR in hopes that a military dictatorship might replace Stalin. In December 1936 the Soviet government assigned David Kandelaki, head of the Soviet Trade Delegation to Germany, the task of “feeling out” the German government concerning the possibility of opening secret talks. By early 1937 Hitler had turned the USSR down, [13] as is illustrated in an interesting document, noted by Erickson, from the German Foreign Office files whose significance for the Tukhachevskii Affair has not yet been appreciated. This is a letter to Dr. Hjalmar Schacht (head of the Reichsbank and the person whom Kandelaki had approached concerning the Soviet Government’s desire for formal secret talks) from the German Foreign Minister, Baron Constantine von Neurath. [14] In this letter Neurath summarizes Hitler’s view, with which Neurath also declares his agreement. This is expressed as follows:

As concerning the eventual acceptance of talks with the Russian government, I am, in agreement with the Führer, of the view that they could not lead to any result at this time, would rather be made great use of by the Russians to achieve the goal they seek of a closer military alliance with France and, if possible, to achieve as well a further rapprochement with England. A declaration by the Russian government that it dissociates itself from Comintern agitation, after the experience with these declarations in England and France, would be of no practical use whatever and therefore be unsatisfactory.

Neurath adds an interesting qualification: “It would be another thing if matters in Russia should develop in the direction of an absolute despotism propped up by the military. In this event we should not let the opportunity pass us by to involve ourselves in Russia again.” The Neurath-Schacht letter is dated 11 February, 1937, while the cover letter to the Austrian BKA document, on BKA stationery, is dated four days later, and the report itself deals with the previous month. Thus the letter proves that the rumor set down in the report does, in fact, reflect the real views of the Nazi hierarchy at precisely the time it claims: in other words, the Neurath-Schacht letter strikingly verifies point four of the Austrian BKA report.

In early 1937 there were two leading military figures in the soviet Union: Tukhachevskii and the Commissar for Defense, Marshal Kliment Voroshilov. It was well known that tensions within the top leadership of the Soviet military were profound. [15] Too much should not be made of an argument e silentio. But later in the same letter Neurath may be tacitly letting Schacht know which one of the two Soviet military leaders he means: “In this connection I should also note, for your personal information, that, according to reliable information reaching us concerning the events in Russia, there is nothing to any slit between Stalin and Voroshilov. So far as can be determined, this rumor, which is being spread by our press as well, originated in interested circles in Warsaw.” Perhaps this passage suggests that, with Voroshilov still a staunch Stalinist, German would only be interested in talks with Russia in the event of a military dictatorship under Tukhachevskii.

There remains the first point in the Austrian BKA report, the supposed attempt by the German General Staff to form an alliance with the Soviet Army. To begin with, we note that Neurath was very close to Fritsch and to General Blomberg, worked with them behind Hitler’s back on several occasions, and was replaced as foreign minister by Ribbentrop on 4 February, 1938, the same day that Fritsch and Blomberg resigned and dozens of other generals and officials were dismissed to be replaced by officers more compliant with Hitler’s desire for war. [16] If Fritsch were in secret touch with Tukhachevskii, Neurath might well have been informed. But there is other evidence of a Tukhachevskii-Fritsch connection.

In his famous book I Paid Hitler, Fritz Thyssen, the former German steel magnate, one of the immensely influential “Schlotbarone,” the Ruhr heavy industry magnates, and an early member of the Nazi party explicitly associated Tukhachevskii with Fritsch: “Fritsch always advocated an alliance with Russia, though not with a Communist Russia. Attempts were made to establish relations between Fritsch and the Russian generalissimo, Tukhachevskii. The two had one point in common: each desired to overthrow the dictator in his own country.” [17]

Thyssen was certainly in a position to know of the kind of secret liaisons he alleges here, and may have been in on it too, since by 1936 or 1937 he himself was deeply disillusioned with Hitler. Professor Erickson, who cites this passage but would clearly like to dismiss it, confidently states in the text of his book that “not a single item of evidence has emerged to justify the charge of treasonable contact with the Germans.” However, in a footnote on the same page he refers to the `Thyssen passage quoted above, and adds the following remark: “It is difficult to know where the support for this statement comes from, although there was a contemporary Polish newspaper report that a letter or note from Fritsch had been seized from Tukhachevskii.” [18]

There is yet more evidence from the German Foreign Office files hinting at a link between Tukhachevskii and the German General Staff. This is the set of documents referred to on page 435 of Erickson’s study, The Soviet High Command. These documents record the loan, between February and November, 1937, of military court papers concerning Tukhachevskii when he was a prisoner-of-war in Germany during World War I (the court papers themselves are not extant). A study of the four loan request documents reveals that the Tukhachevskii files were requested from the Potsdam branch of the Heeresarchiv(army archives) by the Wehrmachtamt, Aus. (Ausland) VI, the section which dealt with foreigners. Wehrmachtamt requested it on behalf of the “GZ.” This is the abbreviation for Generalstab-Zentralstellung, the main headquarters of the German General Staff. [19] GZ was of course in Berlin, and was headed by General von Fritsch.

It is noteworthy that someone in Fritsch’s Berlin HQ was apparently showing some considerable interest in Tukhachevskii at precisely the same time that: 1) the report to the Austrian BKA told of Fritsch’s interest in an alliance with the Soviet military — a report backed up by Thyssen’s testimony; and 2) both that report and Neurath speak of an interest in a military coup in the USSR.

Our examination of the Austrian BKA report shows that, as regards German-Soviet military relations, it is highly consistent with other evidence available. Points one, three, and four are fully consistent with this other evidence, while point two may simply be due to a confusion (or may even be correct as well). We have also disposed of the first two of Professor Carsten’s objections to it. However, there remains his third point: that the documents might have been related to the well-known SD plot to forge a dossier incriminating Tukhachevskii as a traitor. The whole matter of this alleged forgery is very complex, and cannot be unraveled in this article. In addition, it is in principle impossible to prove a negative — in this case, that no German forgery attempt was made. One can merely examine the evidence cited to support the existence of such a forgery attempt and see how it holds up. This said, several considerations are relevant to the matter at hand.

First, the crucial sources for the “SD-NKVD forgery” story are untrustworthy. In his introduction to the English edition of Walter Schellenberg’s memoires, Alan Bullock concludes: “nor would it be wise to accept Schellenberg as a trustworthy witness where his evidence cannot be corroborated.” Erickson also points out several important passages of Schellenberg’s which he recognizes cannot be true. [20] The account by Alfried Naujocks, the SS man who claimed to have been personally responsible for organizing the forgery and who is usually taken at his word, is even more patently false. [21]

Second, according to all the accounts of the forgery plot, Hitler and Himmler were both a party to it. But nothing of the kind could be inferred from their later references to the military purges. For example, Himmler is reported to have discussed the Tukhachevskii Affair in a conversation with the renegade Soviet General A. A. Vlasov on 16 September 1944 in a manner which makes it clear he believed Tukhachevskii had been guilty of some plotting: “Himmler asked Vlasov about the Tukhachevskii Affair. Why this had gone awry. Vlasov gave a frank answer: ‘Tukhachevskii made the same mistake that your people made on 20 July [21a]. He did not know the law of masses.'” [22] In an important speech in Posen on 4 October 1943 Himmler stated:

When — I believe it was in 1937 or 1938 — the great show trials took place in Moscow, and the former czarist military cadet, later Bolshevik general, Tukhachevskii, and other generals were executed, all of us in Europe, including us in the [Nazi] Party and in the SS, were of the opinion that here the Bolshevik system and Stalin had committed one of their greatest mistakes. In making this judgment of the situation we greatly deceived ourselves. We can truthfully and confidently state that. I believe that Russia would never have lasted through these two years of war — and she is now in the third year of war — if she had retained the former czarist generals. [23]

This probably reflected Hitler’s assessment as well, for, according to Goebbels (diary entry of 8 May 1943): “The conference of the Reichsleiters and Gauleiters followed…. The Führer  recalled the case of Tukhachevskii and expressed the opinion that we were entirely wrong then in believing that Stalin would ruin the Red Army by the way he handled it. The opposite was true: Stalin got rid of all opposition in the Red Army and thereby brought an end to defeatism.” [24]

Finally, the German forgery — if indeed there was one — does not exclude the existence of a real military plot. In fact, all of the  SD sources for the forgery story leave open the possibility that the marshal was in fact plotting with the German General Staff. [25]

Thus the story of the “SD-NKVD forgery” is very problematic. Based purely on hearsay, it abounds in contradictions and outright lies. If it were nonetheless consistent with the other evidence concerning the Tukhachevskii Affair, it might merit consideration despite it all. but the opposite is true.

The only pre-war account of any plot to frame Tukhachevskii is that of Walter Krivitsky, which concludes that the NKVD possessed its own evidence against Tukhachevskii quite independent of any forged dossier. [26] This coincides with the opinion of Heinz Höhne, the most recent student of the forgery plot from the German and SD side. [27]

Important testimony asserting the existence of a real conspiracy including Tukhachevskii and other military leaders comes from Nikolai N. Likhachyov, better known as Andrei V. Svetlanin. A lecturer in Russian at Cambridge, then journalist and finally editor (1955-65) of the emigre Russian journal Posev, Svetlanin claimed second-hand knowledge of the conspiracy as a member, during the mid-1930s, of the staff of the Far Eastern Army (later the Red Banner Far Eastern Front) commanded by Marshal Bliukher.

In this account, the military and party leaders executed during 1937 as part of the “Tukhachevskii Affair” were in fact part of a wider conspiracy the central figure in which was Yan Gamarnik. [28] Chief of the Political Directorate in the Army, Gamarnik had probably begun the plot, together with Tukhachevskii, as early as 1932. By the time of the Seventeenth Party Congress in 1934, it was well developed. The plotters, motivated by the disastrous consequences of collectivization, were said to have considered two distinct plans. Plan “A,”, originating with Tukhachevskii and the young commanders around him, centered on a coup in the Kremlin, to be supported by party and military leaders in some of the provinces. Plan “B,”, envisaging independent revolts in different border areas of the USSR, originated with Gamarnik and the state and party officials in the plot, and was the version finally approved by the conspiratorial center. The Far Eastern Region was to have been the site of the initial revolt.

Svetlanin never claims to have been a part of the conspiracy himself which, he insists, was limited to men of the highest rank. Apparently no one of his acquaintance in the Far Eastern Army believed the Tukhachevskii Affair to have been a frame-up against innocent men. His story can be partially checked from independent sources, the main one of which is the account by Genrikh S. Liushkov given to the Japanese interrogators after his defection to them in June, 1938 (Liushkov, head of the Far Eastern NKVD, had been sent there to help the 1938 purge). Liushkov disclosed to the Japanese the existence of an plot in the Far East, and his account of the plot confirms Svetlanin’s in several minor respects. [29]

Curiously, none of the post-1956 Soviet accounts have revealed any information other than that which was already available in the West, and draw principally upon the SD accounts of the forged dossier. Even the Western sources used by Nikulin, the “official” Khrushchev-era biographer of Tukhachevskii, are carefully pruned of evidence they contain that suggests some real conspiracy in fact occurred. there is, strictly speaking, so Soviet post-Stalin historical account of the Tukhachevskii Affair at all, since Nikulin’s work, upon which all others rely, is filled out with dramatic dialog and frankly termed fictionalized (povestvovanie). [30]

Taken single, none of these bits of evidence is very significant in itself. But when considered as a whole, they constitute at lest a prima facie case that some real military conspiracy involving Tukhachevskii may have actually existed. Nor is it difficult to understand why Khrushchev might have wanted to rehabilitate real conspirators. Khrushchev used the rehabilitations of the Tukhachevskii group as a stick with which to beat Stalin and, more importantly, remaining “Stalinists” in high places — that is, in order to hold power and support certain policy decisions. The Soviet military elite regards Marshal Tukhachevskii and those associated with him as the fathers of the contemporary Soviet armed forces. [31] To accuse Stalin of having wrongly killed them was at once to make of the military a firm ally and to blacken any policies associated with Stalin’s name.

In conclusion, each of the points concerning Tukhachevskii mentioned in the Austrian BKA document is consistent with other, independent evidence. The “SD forgery plot” story, and the Khrushchev-era versions of the Tukhachevskii Affair, have been accorded a degree of scholarly acceptance that is not justified by the contradictions and inconsistencies which abound in them. Any new study should examine them far more skeptically than has hitherto been the case. The present scholarly consensus notwithstanding, there is little about the Tukhachevskii Affair, including the very basic matter of Tukhachevskii’s guilt or innocence, about which we can be certain.

Montclair State University

APPENDIX

–N.A. Series T-120, Roll No. 1448, page D 567 777.

Now as always there are efforts under way within the Wehrmacht which aim at the possibility of an alliance with the Russian army. The argument is simple: the Russian army cannot be taken care of by force; therefore it should happen in friendship. Fritsch, Admiral Raeder, and even General von Reichenau are rumored to be proponents of this plan. Blomberg is seen as a mere accessory (Figurant). But the proponents of these efforts are found chiefly among the younger school of the General Staff. When he was in Berlin on the occasion of last year’s German autumn maneuvers, Marshal Tukhachevskii offered, in return for Colonel-General Fritsch’s toast to the Russian army in Wüzberg, a toast to the German army as the champion against world Jewry, and to General Goring. The power struggle presently taking place in Russia, which might possibly end with Stalin’s fall and the establishment of a military dictatorship, is being followed by the Wehrmacht with closest attention, and with unconcealed sympathy for a solution of that kind.

***********************************************************

* I would like to thank Professor J. Arch Getty, of the University of California at Riverside, and Professor S.G. Wheatcroft, of the University of Melbourne, who read and commented upon earlier versions of this article. Naturally they are not responsible for any shortcomings it still contains.

REFERENCES

1. Khrushchev’s “secret speech” to the Twentieth congress of the CPSU (February, 1956) attacked Stalin for his “annihilation of many military commanders” after 1937, but did not mention any of the executed officers. Marshal Tukhachevskii was first “rehabilitated” in 1958. See Robert Conquest, “De-Stalinization and the Heritage of Terror,”, in Alexander Dallin and Alan F. Weston, et al., eds. Politics in the Soviet Union: 7 Cases (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1966), pp. 57-58. Virtually all Western scholars today accept Khrushchev’s story; e.g. Robert Conquest, The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties, rev. ed. (New York: Collier Books, 1973), pp. 300-02.

2. Conquest, Great Terror, p. 285; Leonard Shapiro, “The Great Purge,”, chapter 6 of Basil Henry Liddle-Hart, ed., The Red Army (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1956), p. 70. Professor John Erickson, in his authoritative work The Soviet High Command (London: Macmillan; New York: St Martin’s Press, 1962, p. 464 and note), states that “not a single item of evidence has emerged to justify the charge of treasonable contact with the Germans,” and “no post-war evidence has come to light to disprove this.”

3. Frederick Ludwig Carsten, “New `Evidence’ against Marshal Tukhachevskii,” Slavonic and East European Review, 52 (1974), 272-73. The document itself is in N(ational) A(rchives) microfilm series T-1220, Roll no: 1448, pages D 567 772 – D 567 778; page D 567 771 is the cover letter.

4. page D 567 777; see the Appendix for a translation of this part of the document.

5. According to K; see Herman Teske, ed., Profile bedeutender Soldaten. Band I. General Ernst Köstring Der militärischer Mittler zwischen dem Deutschen Reich und der Sowjetunion. 1921-1941. (Frankfurt/M.: Mittler, 1965), pp. 125-26.

6. Carsten, “New ‘Evidence’,” p. 273.

7. Ibid., citing Teske, Profile bedeutender Soldaten, p. 69. These words were written by Köstring for this volume, more than thirty years after the fact.

8. Georges Castellan, “Reichswehr et Armée Rouge, 1920-1939,” in J.-B. Duroselle, ed., Les relations germano-sovietiques de 1933 – 1939  (Paris: Colin, 1954), pp. 218-19 and n. 97, p. 218.

9. Ibid., nn. 97 and 98, citing Gen. Renondeau’s letter to Paris of 5 October and 28 September, 1937. For Uborevich, see Walter Görlitz, History of the German General Staff, 1657-1945 (New York: Praeger 1962), p. 307 (German edition 1953). The whole affair is omitted, however, from Görlitz’s Kleine Geschichte des Deutschen Generalstabes (Berlin: Haude & Spener, 1967). Since the Austrian BKA report was compiled in December 1936-January 1937, it is impossible to be certain whether it refers to maneuvers in autumn 1935 or in autumn 1936.

10. On the question of this visit (or visits) see Castellan, “Reichswehr et Armée Rouge, 1920-1939,” pp. 217-18; 224; also Pierre Dominique, “L’affaire Toukhatchevski et l’opinion française,” L’Europe nouvelle, 19 June 1937, p 590; Ian Colvin, Chief of Intelligence (London: Gollancz, 1951), pp. 39-40; Erickson, Soviet High Command, pp. 411-13, and 729, n. 27. Disagreement exists about what Tukhachevskii did during this visit or visits but it is sufficient for our purposes to note that all agree he did visit Berlin in 1936.

11. Pierre Fervacque, Le Chef de Larm e Rouge: Mikhail Toukatchevski (Paris: Fasquelle, 1928), pp. 24- 45. Remy Roure was one of the most prominent journalists and newspapermen in France in his day, a founder of Le Monde and its political editor from 1945 to 1952, when he left it for the conservative Le Figaro. See the necrology by Louis Marin-Chauffier, “L’Honneur de Notre Profession,” Le Figaro, 9 Nov. 1966, pp. 1, 32; also,  “La Carrière de Remy Roure,” ibid, p. 32.

12. Pierre Fervacque, “Le Julien Sorel de bolchevisme,” Le Temps (Paris), 24 July 1937, p. 3. Julien Sorel, the protagonist of Stendhal’s novel Le rouge et le noir, assumes holy orders out of cold-blooded careerism; Fervacque implies this was also Tukhachevskii’s motive for adhering to Bolshevism.

13. Erickson, Soviet High Command, pp. 432 and 453.

14. N(ational) A(rchives) Series T-120 Roll No. 1057, pp. 429-296-7.

15. For tensions within the Soviet military leadership, see John Erickson, The Road to Stalingrad: Stalin’s War with Germany. Vol. I (New York: Harper & Row, 1975), p. 3; and idem, Soviet High Command, passim.

16. There is no evidence that these dismissals (the famous “Fritsch Affair”) had anything to do with Tukhachevskii. What linked Neurath with Fritsch and Blomberg was opposition to Hitler’s plan to move swiftly against Austria and Czechoslovakia. See Harold C. Deutsch, Hitler and His Generals: The Hidden Crisis, January-June, 1938 (Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1974), pp. 64, 70- 71, 258-66.

17. Fritz Thyssen, I Paid Hitler (New York: Cooperative Pub., 1941), p. 163. According to Henry Ashby Turner, Jr., “Fritz Thyssen und das Buch ‘I Paid Hitler’,”, in Turner, Faschismus und Kapitalismus in Deutschland (Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1973), p. 95, n. 20, the Tukhachevskii-Fritsch passages occurs in one of the few chapters in German in the original manuscript of the book and so probably reflects Thyssen’s personal work (Emery Reeves, Thyssen’s ghost-writer, conducted his interviews with Thyssen in French).

18. Erickson, Soviet High Command, p 464. According to Professor Alvin T. Coox, the Japanese considered Polish intelligence to be “the best anti-Soviet service in the world at the time.” See his “L’Affaire Lyushkov: Anatomy of a Soviet Defector,” Soviet Studies, 20 (Jan. 1968), 406.

19. N.A. Series T-78, Roll No. 10.

20. Alan Bullock, “Introduction,” in The Labyrinth: Memoires of Walter Schellenberg (New York: Harper, 1956), p. xix; Erickson, Soviet High Command, pp. 731, n. 84 and 735, nn. 25 and 27.

21. Naujocks’ story is in Gunter Peis, The Man Who Started the War (London: Oldham Press, n.d. [1960]), pp. 76-103. The names of the printing establishments Naujocks claimed to have visited in trying to find a forger do not occur in the very complete lists in the Berliner Adressbuch of 1932, 1936 or 1938. Erickson rejects Schellenberg’s account of the forgery because “it certainly took longer that four days to prepare the dossier” (Soviet High Command, p. 735, n. 25); what then can be said of the later Naujocks account, which states that the forgery took place in one night? Finally, Naujocks’ account of the Polish border incident (the “Gleiwitz transmitter” affair) set up by Hitler as a cause de guerre., has been proven heavily falsified; Jürgen Runzheimer: Der Überfall auf den Sender Gleiwitz im Jahre 1939,” Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, 10 (1962), 408-26.

21a. This is a reference to the assassination attempt on Hitler of 20 July 1944.

22. Archiv des Instituts für Zeitgeschichte (Munich), Signatur ZS 2, Bd I., page 55. This document contains the notes of conversations between Gunter d’Alquen,  an SS officer present at the Himmler-Vlasov interview, and a co- worker of Jürgen Thorwald, the German author. The ambiguous (perhaps deliberately so) phrase “das Gesetz der Masse” could refer either to the law of inertia or to the behavior of the masses. In either case it means about the same thing. Thorwald cited the phrase in Wen Sie Verderben Wollen (Stuttgart: Steingr ben-Verlag, 1952), p. 394.

23. Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal {Nuremberg, 1949], Vol. 29, p. 111 (Document 1919-PS).

24. Joseph Goebbels, The Goebbels Diaries: 1942-1943, ed. & tr. Louis P. Lochner (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1948), p. 355.

25. Peis, Man Who Started the War, p. 79; Walter Schellenberg: Memoiren (Köln: Politik und Wirtschaft, 1959), pp. 48-49; Walter Hagen [pseudonym of Wilhelm Höttl], Die Geheime Front: Organization Personen und Aktionen des Deutschen Geheimdienstes (Linz und Wien: Nibelungen-Verlag, 1956), p. 63. A close study of these accounts reveals, however, that they are mutually contradictory more often than not and that, in general, they cannot be trusted.

26. Walter G. Krivitsky, I Was Stalin’s Agent (London: Right Book Club, 1940), pp. 257-58. But Krivitsky’s book is harshly condemned as untrustworthy by his friend of many years and wife of his assassinated friend Ignace Reiss; see Elizabeth Poretsky, in Our Own People: A Memoire of ‘Ignace Reiss’ and His Friends (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Univ. of Michigan Press, 1970), pp. 71; 75, n.2; 124; 146; 204, n. 1; 211, n.1; 269-70. See also Castellan, “Reichswehr et Armée Rouge,” pp. 233, 2234 & nn.; 257, n. 194, for criticisms of Krivitsky.

27. Heinz Höhne, The Order of the Death’s Head: The Story of Hitler’s SS, tr. Richard Barry (New York: Coward-McCann, 1970), p. 233; similarly, idemCanaris, tr. J. Maxwell Brownjohn (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1979, p. 248. Höhne  interviewed other German sources and also studied the SD survivors’ accounts; while accepting their story of the forgery plot, he believes it was not the cause of the arrests of Tukhachevskii and the others.

28. A. Svetlanin, Dal’nevostochnyi zagovor (Frankfurt/M.: Possev-Verlag, 1953). Details about Likhachyov/Svetlanin’s life are given in the necrology by N. Tarasova, Grani, No. 61 (1966), pp. 82-97. A very intelligent discussion, from an emigre  viewpoint, of Svetlanin’s account of the conspiracy took place in the pages of the journal Posev in 1949-50; for a complete list of the articles, see ibid, No. 32 (1950), p. 10, n. I am indebted to the late Professor Nikolai Andreyev, of Cambridge, England, for additional information about his colleague and personal friend, Mr Likhachyov, alias Svetlanin.

29. See the article by Coox cited in n. 18 above. The post-war Soviet defector Grigory Tokaev also claimed first-hand knowledge of high-level military opposition to the Stalin government which survived even the military purges; he knows nothing of any Tukhachevskii involvement, however. See his Betrayal of an Ideal (London: Harville Press, 1954), and Comrade X (London: Harville Press, 1956). A Soviet dissident account of the Khar’kov trial, in November, 12969, of the engineer Genrikh Altunian (Khronika tekushchikh sobytii, No. 1, pp. 312-13), states the following: “IRKHA, witness for the prosecution and party organizer of the military academy at which ALTUNIAN taught, stated at the court that it was still not certain whether Komandarm I. Iakir’s rehabilitation was correct (`eshche neizvestno, pravil’no li reabilitirovan komandarm I. IAKIR’).” Robert Conquest also cites this quotation, though without identifying his source, in the introduction to Pyotr Yakir, A Childhood in Prison (New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 12973), p. 17.

Altunian was involved in dissident activities with Pyotr Iakir, son of the general condemned with Tukhachevskii. According to Victor Krasin, Iakir and he were tried in 1973 for collaborating with “the old Russian emigre organization, the National Labor Union (N.T.S.).” (Victor Krasin, “How I Was Broken by the K.G.B., The New York Times Magazine, 19 March 1984, pp. 71, 75). Founded in the 1930s as a fascist-type organization the N.T.S. collaborated closely with the Germans during their invasion of the USSR. George Fischer, ed., Russian emigre Politics (New York: Free Russia Fund, 1951), p. 72. Iakir had thus been working with a fascist group whose “ultimate goal” is “the armed overthrow of the Soviet regime ” (Krasin, p. 71). Almost precisely these activities constituted the most dramatic charges against Iakir’s own father, condemned with Tukhachevskii — charges which Iakir believed were false. In a further irony, it was the N.T.S. publishing house, “Possev-Verlag,” that published Svetlanin/Likhachev’s 1952 book in which the author claimed direct knowledge of a plot against the Soviet government by Iakir, Tukhachevskii, and the others (Svetlanin/Likhachyov went on to edit Posev, the N.T.S’s main journal, from 1955 until his death in 1965).

30. Lev Nikulin, Tuchachevskii: Biograficheskii ocherk (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1964), pp. 192-93. uses the account of the forgery plot and President Benes’ involvement taken from Colvin and Churchill, but omits all their evidence for the marshal’s guilt. The Soviet reader would never suspect that Colvin, Benes, Churchill, and the SD agents all believed there really had been a Tukhachevskii conspiracy (Nikulin also leaves out Colvin’s name, making the source harder to identify). Cf. Colvin, Chief of Intelligence, pp. 39-40, and 42; Winston Churchill, The Gathering Storm (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1948), pp. 288-89;Memoires of Dr. Edward Benes: From Munich to New War and New Victory (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1949), pp. 19-20, 47.

31. For examples, see Col M.P. Skirdo, The People, the Army, the Commander (Washington, DC, n.d.; orig. ed. Moscow: Voenizdat, 1970), p. 141; V. Savost’ianov and N. Egorov, Komandarm pervogo ranga (I.N. Uborevich) (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1966), pp. 212-13; Soviet Life (June, 1981).

Source

Molotov on Marshal Tukhachevsky

_tukhachevsky

“CHUEV: Now some think you appointed such untrained people as Pavlov, but if it had been Tukhachevsky….
MOLOTOV: Take someone like Tukhachevsky. If trouble started, which side would he have been on? He was a rather dangerous man. I doubted he would have been fully on our side when things got tough, because he was a right-winger. The right wing danger was the main danger at the time.”

– Feliks Chuev, “Molotov Remembers,” page 26.

“The right wing already had a channel to Hitler even before this. Trotsky was definitely connected to him, that’s beyond any doubt…. Many of the ranking military officers were also involved. That goes without saying.”

– Feliks Chuev, “Molotov Remembers,” page 275.

“Nevertheless, he [Tukhachevsky] organized an anti-Soviet group in the army.”

– Feliks Chuev, “Molotov Remembers,” page 279.

“CHUEV: He [Tukhachevsky] was accused of being a German agent.
MOLOTOV: He hurried with plans for a coup. Both Krestinsky and Rosengoltz testified to that. It makes sense. He feared he was at the point of being arrested, and he could no longer put things off. And there was no one else he could rely on except the Germans. This sequence of events is plausible. I consider Tukhachevsky a most dangerous conspirator in the military who was caught only at the last minute. Had he not been apprehended, the consequences could have been catastrophic. He was most popular in the army.
Did everyone who was charged or executed take part in the conspiracy hatched by Tukhachevsky? Some were certainly involved….But as to whether Tukhachevsky and his group in the military were connected with Trotskyists and rightists and were preparing a coup, there is no doubt.”

– Feliks Chuev, “Molotov Remembers,” page 280.

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

– Feliks Chuev, “Molotov Remembers,” page 285.

The Tukhachevsky Conspiracy

М.Н._Тухачевский

Yuri Yemelianov

On the 70th Anniversary of the Treason Trials

On the 11th of June 1937 Moscow radio announced the arrest of the former chief of the Red Army General Headquarters Marshal M. Tukhachevsky and 7 other Soviet leading military figures. The arrested were put to trial before the military branch of the USSR Supreme Court. The radio report said that they were ‘accused of having violated their duty as soldiers, of having broken their military oath of allegiance and of having committed treason against the Soviet Union in the interests of a foreign country… It was established that the defendants… had organised an anti-State movement and had been in contact with the military circles of a foreign country pursuing an anti-Soviet policy. In favour of that country the defendants conducted military espionage. Their activity was aimed at ensuring the defeat of the Red Army in the event of the country being attacked. The ultimate aim was the restoration of big land ownership and capitalism. All accused made confessions’.

After a brief trial the USSR Supreme Court passed death penalty on all the defendants. Subsequently a substantial number of other military and Party officials were arrested and put to trial.

Now these events which happened over 70 years ago are used in post-Soviet Russia as a pretext for another noisy anti-Soviet propaganda campaign. Mass meetings and marches with Christian crosses are organised to commemorate the 70th anniversary of these events. TV and other mass media use this occasion in order to continue depicting the USSR history as the time of ‘Great Terror’ against innocent people, falsely accused of crimes which they did not commit. It is also claimed that the arrest of Tukhachevsky and other Soviet military leaders seriously handicapped the Red Army which led to severe setbacks in 1941, loss of great Soviet territories and manpower.

For the first time this interpretation of the arrest and trial of Tukhachevsky and others was made public by N. S. Khrushchev over 50 years ago. The then First Secretary of the CPSU asserted that the German Gestapo concocted papers, which compromised Tukhachevsky and others in order to weaken the Red Army on the eve of World War II. These forged papers were passed to the Soviet Government. Khrushchev claimed that Stalin was pathologically suspicious and this was the reason why he took the German fabrication at its face value and ordered the arrest of Tukhachevsky and others. According to Khrushchev further arrests and trials were caused by Stalin’s paranoia and his inborn cruelty.

Though there are some real facts behind Khrushchev’s version (e.g. the existence of papers forged by the Gestapo) his explanation is refuted by a number of comparatively recent publications made by a number of Russian historians, including the author of the present article. In such books as A. Martirosyan’s ‘The Conspiracy of Marshals’ (Moscow, Veche, 2003), S. Minakov’s ‘Stalin and the Conspiracy of Generals’ (Moscow, Yauza, 2005), ‘The Conspiracies and the Struggle for Power. From Lenin to Khrushchev’ (Moscow, Veche, 2003) by R. Balandin and S. Mironov, a reader will find detailed and ample evidence which contradicts the essence of Khrushchev’s version.

But even before the publication of these and other Russian books a number of authors in the West presented some facts which proved beyond doubt that the Tukhachevsky conspiracy was not a result of Stalin’s gullibility or a figment of his imagination but a stark reality. The appropriate facts were narrated in memoirs by a former German Intelligence chief Walter Schellenberg, in a book by a former NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs) officer Alexander Orlov, who escaped from the USSR to the West in 1938, in a book ‘The Conspirators’ by an American historian Geoffrey Bailey. A brief account of how the Tukhachevsky plot was formed and developed was given in the book ‘Hitler Moves East 1941–1943’ by a former personal interpreter of Hitler, Paul Schmidt (his literary name — Paul Carell).

Summarising all these facts narrated and analysed by Russian, German and American authors one comes to a conclusion that the origin of the June 1937 events differs radically from the explanation given by Khrushchev and modern Russian political mass media. First of all, these events were connected with the struggle going on inside the Soviet Communist Party in the 1920s. One should take into account that since 1918 L. D. Trotsky was the chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Soviet Republic and its People’s Commissar for military affairs. Many of the leading figures in the Red Army were appointed by Trotsky during the Civil War. Sharing the political views of their chief they tended to overrate military methods of administration and the role of the Red Army in the world revolutionary process. Many of them continued to occupy commanding posts in the Red Army after Trotsky was ousted from his posts in 1925.

Despite their public recantations, many of them continued to share Trotsky’s views and attitudes with their typical blend of adventurism and disregard for ideological principles, especially when dealing with the enemies of the Soviet Revolution. The adventurist approach to the problems of military strategy and organisation of the Red Army was characteristic for Tukhachevsky and the group of his supporters. The differences on these issues led to latent but growing confrontation of this group with the majority of the Red Army commanders.

Like Trotsky himself many of the Trotskyists in the Red Army were prone to put their personal ambitions above the interests of the working class and the Soviet state. Some of them dreamt of Bonapartist careers.

The tendency to conclude alliances with politically and ideologically alien forces for the sake of personal struggle for power (so typical for Trotsky during his political career) revealed itself in establishing close relations between some Soviet and German officers. At that time the Versailles treaty barred Germany from having military educational establishments. According to a secret Soviet-German agreement concluded at the initiative of Trotskyist Karl Radek who was then influential in the Soviet Government, a large group of German officers set up their military schools in Soviet Russia thus by-passing the clauses of the Versailles treaty. Not only Radek, but other Soviet leaders supported this agreement since at that time the cooperation of Soviet Russia with Germany was seen as a breakthrough of the united Anti-Soviet front of capitalist states. The possible negative consequences of the agreement were not taken into account.

While the Soviet-German agreement existed Tukhachevsky and a number of other Soviet military commanders cultivated friendly relations with their German colleagues. The latter often invited the Soviet officers to Germany. Unfortunately such contacts were not limited to exchanges of opinions in the field of purely professional problems. Some of the military of both countries tended to discuss the benefits of military rule and possibilities of joint interference of the military into civilian lives of both countries. Plans for mutual assistance of the military of the two countries in case of political changes in the two countries began to evolve.

The Nazi takeover in 1933 interrupted the active military cooperation between Germany and the USSR. Though at that time the German military wholly supported Hitler, they were keen to mind their own interests and were ready to take power if the Nazi regime was to totter. (The German military plotters almost performed a coup d’etat in September 1938. Then they were afraid that Germany would lose the war in case Britain and France would take a resolute stand and defend Czechoslovakia. Only the capitulation of France and Britain at Munich made the plotters discard their plans. Another attempt to overthrow the Hitler government was undertaken by them in July 1944 at the time when the Nazi regime was already doomed.)

Their own plans of military takeover in the USSR were nourished by Tukhachevsky and his supporters. At the same time Tukhachevsky and others tried to enlist support of some ambitious Party leaders for realisation of their Bonapartist plans. According to Paul Carell, ‘since 1935 Tukhachevsky had maintained a kind of revolutionary committee in Khabarovsk… Its members included senior administrative officials and Army commanders, but also some young Party functionaries in high posts, such as the Party leader in the Northern Caucasus, Boris Sheboldayev’.

Despite the termination of the Soviet-German military agreement Tukhachevsky maintained close cooperation with the German generals. Carell wrote: ‘In the spring of 1936 Tukhachevsky went to London as the leader of the Soviet delegation attending the funeral of the King George V. Both his outward and homeward journeys led him through Berlin. He used the opportunity for talks with leading German generals. He wanted to make sure that Germany would not use any possible revolutionary unrest in the Soviet Union as a pretext for marching against the East. What mattered to him most was his idea of a German-Russian alliance after overthrow of Stalin… Tukhachevsky became increasingly convinced that the alliance between Germany and the Soviet Union was an inescapable commandment of history’.

In his book ‘The Conspirators’ Geoffrey Bailey quotes an attested remark by Tukhachevsky made at that time to the Rumanian Foreign Minister Titulescu. He said: ‘You are wrong to tie the fate of your country to countries which are old and finished, such as France and Britain. We ought to turn towards new Germany. For some at least Germany will assume the leading position on the continent of Europe’.

Meanwhile the pro-German statements made by Tukhachevsky in Western European countries during his trip to Britain became known in France and Czechoslovakia. The mutual assistance treaties of both countries with the USSR concluded in 1935 united them in a joint anti-Nazi coalition. The information that such an important figure as Tukhachevsky took a pro-German stand caused grave concern in Paris and Prague. The two governments notified the Soviet Government about Tukhachevsky’s statements.

Meanwhile at the end of 1936 and the beginning of 1937 a number of Red Army officers were arrested in the USSR. During their interrogation the NKVD got information about the existence of a wide-spread plot against the Soviet Government. It was a time when arrests of some saboteurs, connected with the Trotskyist opposition revealed the lack of vigilance and political insight on the part of many Party functionaries.

It all happened at the time when the USSR adopted a new Constitution, called Stalinist, as Stalin was its initiator. Its constitution was meant to promote the democratisation of Soviet society. Unfortunately many of the Party officials, especially on a local level were reluctant to put the principles of the new Constitution into practice. Since 1917 during almost two decades they got accustomed to methods of administration used at the time of the Civil War. Many of them grew accustomed to their unchallenged high positions and they drew support from close circles of their personal friends. In fact their political attitudes were close to those of Tukhachevsky and his supporters. At the plenary session of the Central Committee of the USSR Communist Party held in February-March 1937 many of its members demanded increased repressive measures instead of the democratisation urged by the Stalinist Constitution.

In his speech at this plenary session Stalin spoke about the urgent need to raise the ideological and political level of all Party functionaries and offered a plan for their education. At the same time he severely criticised the tendency of Party officials to surround themselves by groups of their personal supporters. He suggested electing new functionaries at every Party level while the old functionaries were being educated at specially set-up schools. Stalin warned that unless the Communist Party kept close contacts with the working class it might perish. He reminded of the fate of Antaeus from Greek mythology, who lost the battle with Hercules as soon as he failed to have a contact with the Earth, who was his mother.

But the words of Stalin were unheeded by many of the Party officials. They were afraid to lose their jobs and they started to devise plans of mass reprisals in order to get rid of potential competitors for their posts.

Meanwhile Tukhachevsky and other conspirators, using unrest among the Party functionaries, accelerated preparations for a coup d’etat. Tukhachevsky intended to ask the USSR People’s Commissar for Defence K.E. Voroshilov to convene a conference on military problems in the Kremlin. Tukhachevsky planned to come to the conference with his supporters and to surround the Kremlin with troops loyal to him. Stalin and some of his Politbureau colleagues were to be arrested and shot immediately.

After the end of the plenary session of the Central Committee the conspirators increased their preparations. Carell wrote: ‘In March 1937 the race between Stalin and Tukhachevsky was becoming increasingly dramatic… Why did the Marshal not act then? Why was he still hesitating? The answer is simple enough. The moves of General Staff officers and Army commanders, whose headquarters were often thousands of miles apart, were difficult to coordinate especially as their strict surveillance by the secret police forced them to act with the utmost caution. The coup against Stalin was fixed for the 1st of May 1937, mainly because the May Day Parades would make it possible to move substantial troop contingents to Moscow without arousing suspicion’.

At that time Trotsky in his ‘Bulletin of the Opposition’ wrote about a probable rebellion of the Soviet military against Stalin. On the 9th of April 1937 the chief of the Red Army Intelligence Board S. Uritsky informed Stalin and Voroshilov that in Berlin there were rumours about the opposition of the Soviet military to the Soviet leadership.

By that time the Gestapo got wind of the negotiations of Tukhachevsky with the German military leaders. In order to get fuller information about relations between the military leaders of the two countries Gestapo agents penetrated the archives of the Wehrmacht and stole some of the documents pertaining to the contacts of the German military with the Soviet. The Gestapo agents tried to conceal the theft of documents by setting fire to the archives. After the stolen documents were analysed the Gestapo deputy chief Heydrich came to the conclusion that there was ample evidence of the secret cooperation between the leaders of the Wehrmacht and the Red Army. The Gestapo informed Hitler about the documents.

Despite the pro-German statements of Tukhachevsky, Hitler and others in the Nazi leadership were not happy over clandestine contacts between the military leaders of Germany and the USSR. The Nazi leaders considered that the establishment of the military dictatorship in Russia might stimulate similar developments in Germany. And the military dictator of Russia Tukhachevsky might help his German colleagues during the future coup. Hitler decided to thwart the joint conspiracy of the military leaders of the two countries. He ordered the sending of the stolen documents to Moscow, but adding to them fabrications to make the materials even more shocking. German Intelligence chief Walter Schellenberg later wrote that the false additions constituted but a minor part of the whole collection, which was secretly sold to the Soviet Union. (Later in 1971 V. M. Molotov claimed that he, Stalin and other Politbureau members knew about the Tukhachevsky conspiracy before they got the German documents.)

There are different versions of the subsequent events. On the one hand there is substantial evidence that the military coup scheduled for the 1st of May was frustrated at the last minute. Some people present at the time at Red Square remembered that immediately after the beginning of the parade the rumours were spread about an imminent terrorist act against Stalin and other Politbureau members who at that time occupied the tribune on the Lenin Mausoleum. Later NKVD officer Pavel Meshik claimed that he personally arrested a terrorist on the upper floor of the building adjacent to Red Square just when he was getting ready to shoot. Meshik said that he was awarded the Order of Lenin for this arrest.

A British correspondent Fitzroy MacClean who was present at the May Day parade stated that he noticed nervousness in the conduct of the Politbureau members. Some of them hardly watched the parade. According to MacClean only Stalin preserved an unperturbed mien.

On the other hand there is evidence that the coup was postponed. Just before the 1st of May in London it was announced that on the 12th of May there would be the coronation of George VI who had become the King after the abdication of Edward VIII. The Soviet delegation was invited for the ceremony and the Soviet Government decided that Tukhachevsky would be a leader of the delegation. According to Carell, Tukhachevsky ‘postponed the coup by three weeks. That was his fatal mistake’.

On the 3rd of May documents of Tukhachevsky were sent to the British Embassy in connection with his visit to London. But on the next day the papers were called back and it was announced that the Soviet admiral V. M. Orlov would be a chief of the delegation.

On the 10th of May it was announced that Tukhachevsky was relieved from the duties of the deputy of the People’ Commissar for Defence and made the commander of the Volga military district. On the 24th of May Stalin sent a circular letter to all the members and alternate members of the Party Central Committee. They were informed about the conspiratorial activities of Tukhachevsky and others. Since Tukhachevsky was an alternate member of the Central Committee, other members and alternate members of this highest body of the Party were asked to vote for or against his expulsion from the Party and transfer of his case to the NKVD. All the members and alternate members of the Central Committee supported the suggested measures against Tukhachevsky.

The leader of the conspiracy was arrested on the 27th of May. Between 19 and 31 his major collaborators were arrested. But one of them, the deputy People’s Commissar for Defence Y. B. Gamarnik committed suicide just before his arrest.

On the 2nd of June the session of the Military Council of the People’s Commissary of Defence was convened. Though the investigation was not over yet and it was probable that some of the participants of the plot were present at the session Stalin attended it and spoke before it.

He began his speech, saying: ‘Comrades, I think that now nobody has doubts about the existence of military-political conspiracy against the Soviet power’. Stalin explained the reason why the conspiracy was not exposed earlier by euphoria of the Party and the Soviet people. He said: ‘The general situation, the growth of our ranks, the achievements of the Army and the country as a whole decreased our political vigilance, diminished sharpness of our sight’.

Stalin spoke about the dependence of Tukhachevsky and other arrested commanders on the German military and suggested that the conspirators did not have any profound ideological platform. Stalin said: ‘What was their weakness? They lacked contact with the people… They relied on the forces of the Germans… They were afraid of the people’.

Stalin suggested that some of the military officers got involved into conspiracy out of sheer opportunism. At the same time Stalin spoke about some of the plotters who were intimidated by Tukhachevsky and others and were forced to join them. Stalin proposed to forgive such people if they came and honestly told about their participation in the plot.

Refuting concern expressed by some of the speakers at the session that the arrests among the military might weaken the Red Army Stalin said: ‘We have in our army unlimited reserves of talents… One should not be afraid to move people upwards’.

Though Stalin expressed hope that the number of conspirators was not great, soon many of the military, including some of those who participated at the 2nd of June session, were arrested. Among those who were arrested many were innocent. First and foremost their arrests were caused by the atmosphere created by many local Party officials (and Khrushchev was among the most active) who, instead of searching for political and social reasons for the military conspiracy started to foment mass hysteria. They used the Tukhachevsky conspiracy as a pretext to prove that the USSR was full of foreign spies and thus to retain administrative methods typical of the Civil War. (Later Khrushchev tried to conceal his participation in this witch hunt by putting all the blame for it upon Stalin.) The toll of arrested increased also due to slanderous accusations made by careerists in the NKVD, ready to get promotion for their successes in exposing ‘enemies of the people’, or by career-minded military officers, eager to take the posts of those who were arrested.

Now the Russian mass-media assert that the arrests and executions of the Red Army commanding officers were fatal for the development of the Great Patriotic War. It is claimed that the officers’ corps of the Red Army was almost decimated. Some point out that 40 thousand of the commanding officers were subjected to various reprisals in 1937 – 1939. In fact out of 37 thousand officers who were dismissed from the Army in this period about 9 thousand were those who died due to natural causes, got severe chronic diseases or were punished for non-political crimes and misbehaviour. Out of 29 thousand officers sacked for political offences 13 thousand were later restored to the Army. Many of them (like Marshal Rokossovsky) fought heroically in the Great Patriotic War. Four thousand were executed and about 12 thousand served their terms in the labour camps. Though these are large numbers, one should be aware that the total number of the Army officers in 1941 was 680 thousand.

In place of Tukhachevsky and his supporters came a new cohort of generals and marshals who proved quite worthy in performing their military duties. The recognition of this fact came from none other than Joseph Goebbels. When Nazi Germany was practically defeated he recognised at last the merits of those whom he for many years treated as representatives of an inferior race. In his personal diary Goebbels wrote on the 16th of March, 1945: ‘The General Staff presented me a book with biographies of Soviet generals and marshals… Most of them are young; almost none of them is over 50 years. They have a rich experience of revolutionary-political activity. They are convinced Bolsheviks, very energetic people. When one looks upon their faces one can see that they are made of healthy folk staff. Most of them are sons of workers, cobblers, small holding peasants, etc. In short, I must make an unpleasant conclusion that the military leaders of the Soviet Union are of better social origin than our own… From this book it is easy to see what mistakes we made in the previous years’.

Belatedly lamenting that Nazi Germany did not get rid of its own Tukhachevskys before it was too late, Goebbels explained the strength of the Red Army in the fact that it had strong ties with the popular masses. Inadvertently the chief of Nazi propaganda recognised the truth of Stalin when the latter spoke about ‘unlimited reserves of talents’ in the ranks of the Red Army and stated that Tukhachevsky and others ‘lacked contact with the people’ and ‘were afraid of the people’.

The victory over Nazi Germany and its allies achieved mostly by the Soviet effort would not be possible if the Soviet leadership failed to get rid of its ‘Fifth Column’, similar to those which existed in many countries of the world and which allowed Hitler to establish his control over half of Europe. Unfortunately by 1991 both the Soviet Army and the Party changed their character and lost most of their staunch ties with the people. These changes facilitated the temporary triumph of capitalist restoration forces over socialism.

Source

Communist Party of Chile (Proletarian Action) – Reformism: the Gateway to Fascism

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Communist Party of Chile (Proletarian Action)
Eduardo Artes
August, 1998

Some factors to explain the defeat of September 11, 1973 and to advance towards victory.

On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the fascist military coup of September 11, every social class, even some class sectors. through their organizations, ranging from the bourgeois Armed Forces to the political parties, including our Communist Party (Proletarian Action) [PC(AP)], as well as churches, express their evaluations, draw their conclusions and point out the paths forward according to their own class interests.

The fascist military coup that took place in Chile in 1973 was not just one more of the countless ones in the history of Latin America and the world. It has special significance, not only for its great brutality but also for the long duration of fascist rule and the characteristic reordering of capitalist oppression and exploitation in Chile, at the demand of yankee imperialism and its local partners. For us, and this is the goal of the present paper, this holds many vivid lessons for the workers and popular movement and the outcome of their struggle, depending on the ideas that guide their practice.

Given the low level of the existing ideological debate, we do not want to be misunderstood or to confuse anyone about the truly proletarian and revolutionary character of our analysis. As has been proven by our tireless practice, we want to first express a well-deserved tribute to all the victims of fascism, to all the fighters who fell in the defense or construction of their trade unions, popular organizations, on the neighborhood barricades, in the armed confrontation, to all those who fought resolutely against the coup itself as well as against the fascist dictatorship. In honoring them, no matter how hard it might be for some to admit the communist truth, we cannot stop putting forth widely our Marxist-Leninist opinion of the main, i.e. the internal factor (of the popular movement), that led the working class and the people to the defeat, to the massacre, to confront the reactionaries unarmed ideologically, politically and materially. We do this to break with the opportunist attitude of revisionism which, in order to avoid its criminal responsibility, focuses only on the external factor, on the reactionary behavior of imperialism and local capitalism, of ITT, on the “wickedness and treachery” of Pinochet, etc. One could not expect them to behave differently, due to their reactionary nature.

The ideological and political confusion about the Popular Unity (UP), Salvador Allende and all of those who considered themselves the “vanguard”, or at least “leftist,” in the period prior to the fascist coup, has not diminished. On the contrary, it is on the rise, and it has reached such a level that those who stand for the “path of Allende and the UP” are treated as “ultra-leftist.” Moreover, some young people who have recently joined the social struggle, seeking a means to expose so much treason and opportunism, try to find a revolutionary alternative in the praiseworthy and courageous attitude of Salvador Allende, who in the last moments of his life picked up a machine gun in order to resist the fascists hordes attacking the Moneda (the government palace, Note of transl.). They uphold the slogan: “He did not surrender, he fought with a rifle!” What is important here is that the youths are expressing their desire for a revolutionary change. The confusion is being cunningly used by opportunism to divert the struggle and again lead the workers and popular movement along the path of defeat. It is mainly revisionism and its social-democratic partner who are in charge of this.

There is not doubt that from the point of view of the masses, in regard to bourgeois democratic liberties and the space gained in which to express the desire for revolutionary change in society, there has not been in the history of Chile and maybe of all of Latin America a more favorable period than the experience of the UP. This is something that was not only experienced by the people, but was also observed and acted upon by reaction and Yankee imperialism.

The fervor of the masses was an important ingredient during the whole period of Allende’s government. The masses mobilized not only against imperialism and reaction, against the sabotage of production and the black market, as the revisionists argue, but also to advance towards the seizure of power, despite the policies and actions of the UP itself. A proof of this was the fact that the Unified Confederation of Workers (CUT), led by the “C”P and the “S”P, was overtaken by the formation of the Industrial Belts. These organizations, even though they still displayed some confusion in their objectives and demands due to the negative influence of some opportunist petty-bourgeois ideas, together with the Community Commandos and other new forms of Popular organization, had the great merit of pointing to the fundamental problem of the whole class struggle, the conquest of political power. This latter, in fact, was precisely what precipitated the fascist coup: imperialism and the bourgeoisie could not allow the workers and the rest of the popular masses, who were seizing lands and industries, maintaining productivity, managing distribution, etc, to make clear in practice that the capitalists were no longer needed.

As we shall see further on, “Popular Unity,” UP, was the result of a long work of reformism and revisionism, which found strong international support in the revisionist policies of the former Soviet Union after the death of comrade Joseph Stalin and the triumph of the Khrushchevite coup in the former Soviet Union. We must stress the role played then and now by the experience of the UP in the ideological and political debate that was developed and is still developing between Marxism-leninism and revisionism, in our country and internationally.

It is necessary to bear in mind that the experience of the UP aroused many illusions at that time in various countries, especially in the so-called “third world,” whose peoples struggled and are still struggling to overcome the yoke of imperialism, to achieve progress and social justice. In whatever manner, the “UP” was presented by international revisionism as the confirmation of the thesis of “peaceful transition” or the “peaceful path” to socialism, adopted by the congress of infamy, the XXth Congress of the CPSU in opposition to the Marxist-Leninist teaching of the revolutionary seizure of political power, as defended in the time of Lenin and Stalin.

The “peaceful path” of opportunism was a slogan and permanent practice directed at the workers movement and the popular masses, a slogan that denied the revolutionary truth of the inevitability of armed confrontation, when the class struggle reaches a higher stage and the question of power comes to the forefront. This was especially true in Brezhnev’s time, when the inter-imperialist confrontation between the USA and the revisionist Soviet leadership had sharpened. However, and here the CONSCIOUS BETRAYAL of revisionism was shown, when it became clear that a material (armed) force was needed to prevent the “reactionary uprising,” the revisionists spoke to us of so-called “patriotic officers,” of “maintaining the constitutional character of the Armed Forces,” of “integrating our Armed Forces into the change.” They popularized demobilizing and defeatist slogans like “friend soldier, the people are with you” and “the Armed Forces are the people in uniform,” or as Luis Corvalan maintained in December of 1970 (International Journal), “one can ASSERT that the people of Chile and the Armed Forces of the country shall resolutely rise in combat in the defense of the sovereignty of their motherland.” In consequence of this view, the whole parliament, with the exception of Senator Raul Silva Ulloa, during the government of Salvador Allende, adopted the “law of arms control” which gave the bourgeois Armed Forces the right to gain access to and break into any place suspected of storing weapons. This was a great help to the fascists in preparation for the 1973 coup; months, days before the coup, the bourgeois Armed Forces, using the law voted for by the whole UP together with the Christian Democrats and fascist mummies, broke into industrial establishments, intimidated workers and confiscated some old shotguns and pistols, thus inhibiting the ability of the workers to respond to the massacre that they were preparing.

The “military” policy of revisionism, apart from handing over the disarmed people to their enemies, obtained some meager results in the person of Army General Carlos Prat, Air Force General Bachelett, some officers of the military police and a handful of members of the Navy, who were arrested and tortured by the armed forces days before the coup itself. Finally, it is important to point out that the “extreme left” has been blamed for the coup for many years. When revisionism adopted its amorphous “policy of popular rebellion,” which never put forward any goal other than the “return to the democracy” which existed before the coup, it organized “the armed struggle” against Pinochet, but once again without the masses, based on highly specialized armed equipment. And they, together with the other sectors of the bourgeois opposition to Pinochet, denied and abandoned this struggle at the most crucial moment.

The UP materialized petty-bourgeois thought, not only of revisionism, with some phrases borrowed from Marxism-Leninism; it also expressed the thought of social-democracy, represented with lower or higher degrees of radicalism by the Socialist Party of Chile, whose member and leader was Salvador Allende, and by the Radical Party; most of their leaders, including Allende, admitted that they were organizationally and philosophically members of the Masons. Another element that contributed to the total ideological and organizational confusion in the leadership of the UP was the “progressive” Christian thought represented by elements who split from the Christian Democrats (DC), by the MAPU and the Christian Left (IC) who, based on their origins and petty-bourgeois thought, vacillated between the “left” and the “right.” In any case, their weight within the UP was never determining, among other reasons because both organizations were a hybrid of political definitions, which prevented them from forming a different line from that of the “C”P-“S”P axis.

For a better understanding we believe it is very important to depict the ideological and political lines of, at least, the main trends in the UP, that is the “S”P and the “C”P.

The Socialist Party of Chile 

Perhaps it would be enough to define them by the popular term, “slick partners” [phony socialists], since in general, apart from scarce and remarkable exceptions, the majority of them have always used their membership as a personal step up the social ladder, to have access to the bureaucratic apparatus of the bourgeois capitalist State, and get their share of the exploitation of the workers and the alienation of the national resources. Always, in one way or another, through ministries, agreements or anything else, the “S”P has participated in an open or disguised manner in almost all of the regimes that have governed Chile. The exception, and moreover, the persecution to which they were subjected during the fascist military dictatorship, must be understood in the general international framework of the inter-imperialist struggle between the two imperialist super-powers of that time, Yankee imperialism and Russian social-imperialism. In that context, the “S”P and its alliance with the “C”P was placed under the umbrella of Soviet revisionism, one of the elements against which Yankee imperialism stirred up reaction and the bourgeois Armed Forces. The other and main objective was, as we all know, to prevent the working class, leading the people, from advancing towards the conquest of political power, which would have led to the expulsion of imperialism from Chile and the beginning of the construction of a new country of popular democracy and socialism.

The leaders of “S”P, who yesterday were government ministers, ambassadors, members of parliament, top union and student leaders in the period of the UP, are today the champions of neo-liberalism and defenders of the institutional order inherited from the dictatorship. Their members of parliament share seats, banquets and privileges with the fascist members of parliament, with the senators appointed for life, with Pinochet himself. Their ministers, like Ricardo Lagos, are received with honors by the representatives of Yankee imperialism, the local capitalist bosses express their public approval, even “if one of them were one day to become President of the Republic.”

The “S”P leaders have been put in charge of the dirty work of the reactionary Chilean State. The “socialist” Marcelo Schilling, a member of the Central Committee, was the founder of the sinister “Office of Investigations” of the government of reconciliation, whose objective has not been the dismantling of the fascist legacy but, on the contrary, to infiltrate, provoke and destroy the revolutionary organizations of the people and even in some cases to assassinate their members. The Gendarmerie of Chile is in charge of keeping behind bars and annihilating psychologically and physically dozens of social fighters in “high security jails,” while hosting in a “five star hotel” a couple of symbolic military fascist criminals, and it has been and is led now by top “socialist” leaders.

The “S”P was born ideologically, politically and organizationally as a clearly social-democratic, opportunist, anti-communist formation, something which it was never able to overcome. The left-wing positions that it has adopted at times were due to their exclusion from the bourgeois government in office or to tactics tending to resolve the problems of hegemony in relation to other bourgeois political formations, such as revisionism, for example.

Another feature of the “S”P of Chile is that of being a shelter for various opportunist positions and figures that call themselves “leftists,” that have attacked or attack Marxism-Leninism. Trotskyites, Titoites and their anti-communist embryo of self-management, the phony arm-chair guerrillas have found shelter or rather a hide-out there; in these years of “reconciliation,” a large number of former MIR, former FPMR and former CP members have joined them. Those who tired of fighting have joined with fascist militarism in the administration of the bourgeois State, profiting from the exploitation of the workers and viciously fighting those who have not leaped with them into the marsh of betrayal.

The social-democrats of the “S”P have always found their brothers in the leadership of the “C”P, the tireless peddlers of unity of both organizations and positions. Before the formation of the “UP” the General Secretary of the “C”P reiterated again and again that “we will keep insisting that that which unites the socialists and communists is much stronger [than that which divides them]” (Luis Corvalan, Fighting in Broad Daylight).

Today, 25 years after the coup, the leadership of the “C”P persists in its efforts of “unity” with the “S”P. In this respect Jorge Insunza, in a lengthy interview in “El Siglo” (Number 890, August 6, 1998) regarding the proposals made to the “S”P for joint tributes to Salvador Allende, complained about the failure of his initiative and confessed with a bitterness worthy of better lovers: “Frankly, we did not achieve the success we had hoped for. This week, after more than two months of dedication, we received the answer from the leadership of the Socialist Party that they will not honor the commitment that they had made to us to form a broad national committee in which they would participate.”

The “Communist” Party of Chile (“C”P) 

For a variety of ideological and political reasons, both national and international, the revisionist “C”P was the main force that defined the thought and practice that gave birth to the experience of the UP. This can not be understood without understanding the long work carried out by the leadership of the revisionist “C”P in this respect. One can have an almost complete global picture of the ideological and political support that made the UP government possible and that led the workers and the people into that arms of the fascist massacre of September 11, 1973, only by following the development of the “C”P, something which is not the same as that of the “S”P with its carnival-like existence.

The main support for the so-called “Chilean road to socialism” was developed contrary to all the historical experience of the working class and its revolutionary outlook, Marxism-Leninism. The ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin on the revolutionary struggle, power, the State, the leading role of the working class, the proletarian character of the party, etc, were never present. Therefore the tragedy and defeat of the “UP.” which was paid for by the working class and the people, just as in the revisionist former USSR and the countries of Eastern Europe, were the tragedy and defeat of social-democracy and revisionism, not of Marxism-Leninism. In any case, when Gladys Marin, General Secretary of the revisionist “C”P and eternal candidate for the presidency of the Republic, speaks of retaking the “path of the UP and Allende,” it is no longer a tragedy but a farce.

For many years the revisionist leadership of the “C”P has idealized the possibilities of parliamentary work, adopting an attitude of “parliamentary cretinism,” against which Lenin often warned the communists. For many years it has disguised the dictatorship of the bourgeois classes under the mask of holy bourgeois “democracy,” and it gambled on the “great tradition of respect for the law and democracy” that the bourgeois Armed Forces and other State institutions supposedly showed. All the arguments of revisionism were and are based on subjective idealism, on opportunism, not on Marxism-Leninism. To start, let us look at some of its historical manifestations.

Under the often used slogan of “all parties and sectors without exception,” the revisionist “C”P in the mid-1940s managed for a short period to join the government of Gabriel Gonzalez Videla. Having been elected with the votes of the “C”P, he later expelled them from the government and banned them. All this, nevertheless, was no problem for the opportunist leadership of the “C”P, who from the beginning did not understand what was happening, and even offered their “constructive support to the government.”

From abroad, the “C”P accepted “willingly” or “unwillingly” the negative influence of Browderism. Browder at that time was the General Secretary of the “C”P of the USA who supported the opportunist trend of class conciliation, reducing the role of the Party to some kind of cultural organization. This influence from abroad united with a strong tendency that negatively influenced the leadership of the “C”P of Chile, which put forward the necessity of constructing the Antifascist United Fronts (necessary to confront fascism on a world scale) in an exclusively legalist and pacifist manner. They actually subordinated the proletariat to other forces, to the so-called “progressive bourgeoisie,” renouncing the necessary and irreplaceable leading role of the proletariat in this front. The “foreign” influence further strengthened the opportunist pacifism that had already been consolidated in the leadership of the “C”P.

The influence of the Soviet Union at the time of comrade J. Stalin, of his proletarian internationalist policies, and the enforcement of the anti-communist law of Videla, known as the law for the defense of democracy, or known by the people as the damned law, led a section of the leadership of the revisionist “C”P to adopt a more radical stand, embodied in the “Program of National Salvation.” But soon this section was defeated and its supporters were expelled. The “C”P adopted a new line of class conciliation, putting out an opportunist document called the “Emergency Plan,” in total opposition to the earlier program.

The revisionist leadership of the “C”P gave strong support to Ibanez by putting forward its proposal of “decisively contributing to the success of the work of Mr. Ibanez’s government for the good of the country.” Later they added, reaffirming their character of extinguishers of the fire of the class struggle, that “our invariable rule is to see to it that labor conflicts should be solved harmoniously by any means. We only support going on strike, which is a right recognized by the Labor Code, when all other means fail.” (Document of the Leadership of the “C”P in the first year of the government of Ibanez).

The opportunist line of the leadership of the revisionist “C”P found support in the revisionist leadership of N. Khrushchev, whom they blindly followed. Despite the foolish attempt of the revisionist leaders, who tried to present themselves as “independent” and “original,” it is good to remember the actions of Volodia T., Mr. T. He exuberantly tried to be more Catholic than the Pope, going around telling whoever would listen, the bourgeois press, that the “C”P was for perestroika before Gorbachev launched his perestroika. This was no “return to Leninism,” as the Trotksyites and revisionists claimed.

The devious attitude (see the interview published in El Siglo N. 890) of the “C”P is today focused on using the “experience of the UP” to attack and slander the proletarian socialism constructed in the times of Lenin and Stalin, in the times of the dictatorship of the proletariat. See how Jorge Insunza attacks socialism: “In many respects, the program of Allende meant completely distancing oneself from that model.” “To retake the experience of the Popular Unity and its government is to show the people that we do not bow to models which were actually opposed to what we wanted to put into effect.” It is a fact that the UP did not have anything to do with the proletarian socialism that makes the opportunists so uncomfortable. But Mr. Insunza, let us remind you that, in the time of Khrushchevite revisionism, the leadership of your party here in Chile sneezed when your “elder brother” in Moscow caught a cold.

The tailism of local revisionism in relation to Soviet revisionism had its highest and most grotesque expression in the hasty convocation of the Xth Congress of the “C”P of Chile, barely two months after the XXth Congress of the CPSU, in which the “peaceful path to power” was “discovered.” Issue #35 of the journal “Principios” (Principles, Note of transl.), referring to the “peaceful path,” argued that “this question has been put forward from the high tribune of the XXth Congress of the CPSU.” After this, the deceptive efforts to claim “originality” and “ones own elaboration” seem ridiculous. Corvalan made his “contribution” to the “creative development” of Marxism in the same way that Khrushchev presented his bourgeois poison, saying that “to tell the truth, it (the peaceful path) had already been put forward by life itself. In many countries revolutionary changes have taken place through new paths that cannot be considered as insurrectional.

“In Chile itself, the possibility of utilizing the parliamentary road to achieve power by the popular forces had already been shown. But this question was not sufficiently clear for us” (Luis Corvalan, “Our revolutionary path”). And, to leave no room for doubt as to the “contributions” that revisionism is so proud of and which have done so much harm to the workers’ and popular struggle, Corvalan reminds us that: “we pointed out the necessity to make in it (the program of the “C”P) a more complete and richer analysis of the peaceful road. We said that it should be clearly established that this path only excludes civil war and armed insurrection.”

The whole period prior to the fascist military coup of 1973, from Ibanez to S. Allende, including the time of Alessandri and Frei Montalba and their “revolution in liberty,” which followed the guidelines and demands of the “Alliance for Progress,” was for local revisionism a period for giving proof of its good behavior to the bourgeoisie and imperialism. At the 24th plenary session of the C.C. held in 1957, the revisionist leadership of the “C”P made very clear their counterrevolutionary political objectives: “We want and demand our freedom. And we solemnly proclaim that, being free to take part again in political life, we will not constitute a threat to any respectable interest. We stand for the democratic resolution of all questions according to the will of the majority of the country within the framework of the free play of all parties and political currents. Today we do not aim to replace the property of the Chilean capitalists with collective property. And if tomorrow it should be necessary to advance along this path, we believe that this should be done according to the will of the majority of the Chileans, through the peaceful road and by guaranteeing the well-being and the rights of the capitalists, that is by compensating them properly.”

Special attention should be paid to the “constructive” attitude of the revisionist leadership of the “C”P towards the “pro-development” or bourgeois reformist government of Eduardo Frei Montalba who, consistent with his class character, had not the least hesitation in suppressing and murdering workers, peasants, the indigenous Mapuches, students and neighborhood residents, who were fighting for their economic and political demands (who does not remember, for example, the massacre of residents of Puerto Montt).

From the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies the “C”P and the “S”P voted for the most diverse projects of Frei’s government. The peasants who seized lands, the students who radicalized the struggle for university reform, the workers and union leaders who opposed and ignored the “agreement” between the C.U.T. and the government that restricted the workers demands, those who from revolutionary positions called for the armed struggle and the road of mass insurrection, all these were denounced as ultra-leftists in the pages of “Siglo,” the organ of the “C”P.

As their Italian brothers in opportunism, the revisionist leadership of the “C”P never, even in the period of the UP stopped trying to form their boasted-of “Historic Compromise” with the Christian Democrats.

In December of 1970, Salvador Allende had already been elected President of the Republic. Luis Corvalan (International Journal, December 1970) rendered an early homage to the thesis of the electoral way or the “peaceful road” of revisionism, of N. Khrushchev and his successors. “The ‘Chilean example’ will show that the ways and methods of the revolutionary process have their own peculiarities in each country, and proves that the thesis of the XXth Congress of the CPSU in not so absurd.” Two and a half years after Corvalan, leading the Volodias, Millas and Marin, etc., rejoiced at the alleged “triumph” of the Khrushchevite thesis, in September of 1973 not only the absurdity of the thesis proclaimed by the XXth Congress of the Russian revisionist party was proven, but its criminal and treacherous character was exposed. The shamelessness of Corvalan has no limits: a few years before the election of Allende, in Indonesia, the absurdity of the “peaceful path” had been proven once again, when more than 500,000 communists and patriots were murdered by the fascist coup carried out by the bourgeois army of general Suharto against the “constitutional” President and father of the motherland SUKARNO.

The anti-reformist “left” 

From the “left,” that is those sectors who took up the struggle against the “peaceful path” or the “electoral road,” great efforts were made to oppose bourgeois reformism, the “peaceful path” and class conciliation imposed by the so-called “traditional Left.” A large number of comrades who belonged to the “revolutionary left,” the MIR [Movement of the Revolutionary Left], PCR {Revolutionary Communist Party] and other smaller groups, were examples of courage in confronting the fascist dictatorship. Although the revisionists claimed that they were responsible for provoking the coup, in fact, apart from their ideological and political mistakes, it is in these groups that one can find the most consistent search for a revolutionary way out of the crisis of the bourgeois democratic form of capitalist exploitation that existed in Chile before September 11, 1973.

In one way or another the experience of the UP caused different reactions within the “revolutionary left.” For example the Marxist Revolutionary Vanguard, which to a certain extent struggled against Khrushchevite revisionism at that time, was paralyzed and self-destructed. Most of its members opportunistically joined the “S”P and some the “C”P, swelling their most “left” wings and, curiously enough, became the most fervent defenders of the UP government, formed on the basis of the so-called “peaceful path to socialism” that they had formerly fought. In the end it became clear that their break with revisionism never went beyond tactical contradictions, the supposed contradiction of simple paths, that is the armed path versus the “peaceful path.” With the electoral “victory” of the UP, the contradiction that initially motivated their difference with the latter ceased to exist. They never understood that the electoral victory of the UP would prove the non-existence of the “peaceful path.” Those who did not join the UP maintained certain organizational links and mostly died fighting the fascist coup.

With respect to the Revolutionary Communist Party, one should acknowledge that the process of cooptation and destruction caused by the electoral “victory” of the UP and its “peaceful path” also weakened it greatly and caused it great internal divisions, leaving it with little influence among the popular masses and almost isolated from the great fervor and the existing class confrontation. This was just at the time when two highly explosive elements began to combine: the general dissatisfaction of the workers and the people with the vacillation, paralysis and legalism of the leadership of the UP and the open sabotage of the reactionaries and fascists under the shelter and orders of Yankee imperialism.

In order to wage political struggle and preserve themselves, the Revolutionary Communist Party mechanically transplanted the international position of the C.P. of China, which led them to serious mistakes in characterizing the main imperialist enemy of the Chilean revolution. They attacked equally and sometimes more forcefully Russian social-imperialism than Yankee imperialism, ignoring the fact that, although both imperialisms were equally dangerous for the peoples in general, Yankee imperialism was dominant in Chile. In any case, an important merits of the PCR was that it kept alive the anti-imperialist debate, and did not confine it almost exclusively to the level of propaganda. With the inevitability of the confrontation that the social conditions gave rise to, by the end of 1979, and after having promoted and participated in the resistance to the fascist military dictatorship, both factions into which the PCR had split ceased to exist as a party and some of their rank-and-file, of those who stayed in Chile, continued the struggle for the Popular Revolution and Socialism.

An organization that stood out for uniting important sectors in disagreement with the bourgeois reformism of the leadership of the UP, was the Movement of the Revolutionary Left, MIR. This movement was made up mainly of radical students strongly influenced by the Cuban experience and the figure of the guerrilla fighter Ernesto Che Guevara. They raised slogans for the armed struggle based on the theory of the “guerrilla foco,” of “going to the mountains.” The MIR in those years developed various experiences working with the masses in specific fronts, which led them to become the largest of the organizations of the “ultra-left,” as the revisionists of the UP used to call them. Politically, the MIR developed a sort of critical support of the government of Salvador Allende. They took certain actions for the seizure of small agricultural and industrial properties, as well as large and monopolistic ones, which they regarded as being the same or almost the same. This helped to increase the confusion as to who were the main and the secondary enemies of the Chilean revolution.

Outstanding figures of the old MIR were men such as Miguel Henriquez, who took up with exemplary courage the commitment to the revolutionary struggle. On the other hand, others today are a slap in the face of the former; they not only retreated to the extent of turning the MIR into small remnants, but even renounced all revolutionary ideas and transformed themselves into spokespersons of capitalist exploitation, joining the “S”P or the PPD or even the Christian Democrats.

An example of individual anti-reformist struggle, isolated from the masses, reached its clearest expression in the Organized Vanguard of the People, VOP. Faced with police persecution and as a way to “wake up” the masses from the illusion of the UP, its members turned themselves into “Living Bombs” and exploded themselves in front of the general headquarters of the Investigation police, where all their members and some policemen died.

Coming from organized Trotskyism, and only to add humor to this paper, it is good to remember the vicious attacks of one of their leading figures, who today seeks to “save Marxism with Christian ethics.” Luis Vitales, not satisfied with his membership in a large number of small petty-bourgeois groups, pretended to be a historian and attacked Bernardo O’Higgins and other independence fighters of the Spanish colonial period for not having fought for the Socialist Revolution.

Another fact that, were it not for the confusion and desperate search by the masses for a Revolutionary alternative to the UP, would only serve to calm our nerves, was the Trotskyite Revolutionary Workers Party, which was divided into little groups. During the UP, its newspaper called for a National Strike in support of Allende; 15 days later, having failed in realizing a national strike, it called for a Continental Strike, and without expecting any kind of sympathy for their call, 15 days later it called for a “World Strike in support of Allende and against the imperialist attack.”

All the various groups of the left, apart from the Trotskyites who are brothers in treason with revisionism, sought for a revolutionary way out of the crisis of the bourgeois democratic system existing in Chile until September 11, 1973. They made great efforts, among which were examples of heroism. No one can conclude that their defeats were due to a lack of “will” or courage; on the contrary they had plenty of that. The explanation for their defeats must be sought in the ideas that guided their practice, in their eclectic thinking, which was far from the proletarian revolutionary understanding, from the Marxist-Leninist ideology, from the teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin applied to the reality of Chile.

Once more, at the expense of the blood of the workers and people, of the lives of honest and militant fighters, the class struggle reminded us that the working class and the peoples have no future, no perspective for genuine social change, for socialism, if they do not have a genuine Proletarian Party, tempered in the class struggle and formed on the basis of the communist ideology, Marxism-Leninism.

On the 25th Anniversary of the fascist military coup, the working class and the people of Chile do not only have defeats to show, but mainly a treasure of valuable lessons learned through blood and 18 years of ideological, political and organizational efforts for the construction of a genuine Marxist-Leninist Party. These efforts have been crowned with success in the Chilean Communist Party (Proletarian Action) PC(AP). This party has no commitment other than that which emanates from revolutionary consistency, from Marxism-Leninism, from the Revolutionary interests of the working class and the peoples of Chile. It has been able to and can provide, unlike any other organization that calls itself left or revolutionary, the elements that allow us to expose the true causes of the past events, to face with success the present revolutionary struggle and point out its perspectives.

To conclude, let us present the following excerpt from the Programmatic Thesis of the PC(AP) published in June of 1995: “The heroic days of struggle that preceded us should be summed up from an open, scientific point of view, leaving aside the dogmatist, idealist and essentially religious conduct that deprive them of any revolutionary essence, presenting them (the days of struggle. Note of translator) as something already concluded, not subject to an analysis that might expose their successes and shortcomings, the positive and negative lessons that emanate from them. Those who today proceed in that way disguise their ideological and intellectual inability, or even worse, persist in past errors that will lead to new defeats for the people.

“From a sound and correct point of view, both the objective and the subjective conditions that have determined all past struggle should be studied, in order to draw revolutionary scientific rigor correct lessons that will enable us to accomplish the historic demand of Popular Democracy and Socialism that our country requires today.

“Based on the understanding that the objective conditions (national and social oppression and exploitation) for a revolutionary change in a country like ours have always been present, it is above all necessary to analyze more profoundly the politics that were in control of past struggles.

“Without a doubt, the quality of the subjective factor is always of primary importance, and the outcome of the struggle, its victory or defeat, depends fundamentally upon this. The failure of past struggles are not a result of the absence or weakness of the objective factor, of historical fatalism, or betrayal by this one or that, and still less of the lack of commitment of our unselfish people. On the contrary, our people have filled thousands of pages with their heroism that would move anyone to tears.

“The resistance to and rejection of imperialism and reaction in the past, particularly in the republican period, could not rely on programs with a genuine revolutionary class alternative, for the destruction of the existing bourgeois power and the construction of a new one, of socialism. On the contrary, these alternatives had been based on progressive reforms, on ‘broadening democracy,’ on trying to gradually ‘take over’ the Capitalist State dependent on imperialism, seeking the ‘transformation’ of the latter to put it into the ‘service’ of the people and the workers. Based on this erroneous ideological and programmatic foundation of the former leaders of the Popular Movement, forms of struggles were developed that did not have the perspective of placing the seizure of power, that is the social revolution, on the order of the day. A good example of this is the parliamentary road, the ‘peaceful path,’ chosen by the Popular Unity, with the whole tragedy that this meant for the Chilean Workers and Popular Movement. This can also be seen in the anti-fascist resistance itself which, although it engaged in open and mass combat, even armed combat, was always carried out under the banner of the restoration of the bourgeois democracy that existed before September 11, 1973.

“In this trend the National and Social Liberation, the Popular Democratic and Socialist revolution was absent.

“The subjective factor, the political leadership and its ideas is therefore the determining element on which the workers and popular struggles depend. The collapse the former USSR and of the countries of Eastern Europe are the Universal proof of our statement, that what happened there was not the failure of Socialism, still less of communist ideology, but was, on the contrary, a consequence of their desertion and betrayal. Today this is clear even to the ultra-blind idealists, to those who did not want to see the revisionist and anti-communist reality of the leaderships of those Parties and those former States.

“National and international reaction have muddied the waters for a short historical period, some self-proclaimed leftist and revolutionaries have abandoned the trenches of struggle and have openly joined reaction, others still vacillate and in an opportunistic manner try to serve reaction and imperialism, using ‘progressive,’ social-democratic phrases.

“The masses, although temporarily confused, seek a way out of the crisis of capitalist super-exploitation, the workers and popular movements follow one another. In general, it can be stated that in Chile, as in the rest of the world, a new wave of revolutionary struggle of the workers and peoples is taking shape. This should be greeted with a revolutionary class ideology and politics, of a higher caliber than those in the past, which will really allow us to reach the objectives put forward for the present period and will assure the socialist perspective of the process.”

Source

Enver Hoxha on Andrey Vyshinsky and the Moscow Trials

03

The following day Vyshinsky was to come from Moscow. The name and personality of Vyshinsky was great and well known to all of us on account of the important role he had played as state prosecutor in the Moscow trials against Trotskyites, Bukharinites, rightists and other traitors of the Soviet Union. During the war I had got hold of a French translation of the account of the Moscow trials and had had the opportunity to study the evil activity and treachery of these sworn enemies of communism. Their guilt and secret collaboration with the foreign enemies of the Soviet Union was brought out clearly and completely exposed there. Everything was convincing. And the claims of foreign enemies that the admissions had been allegedly extorted from the criminals by torture were slanders. Our struggle against local enemies, the trials which were held in our country after the war against enemies of the people, the struggle which our Party had waged against Trotskyite elements further reinforced our belief in the justness of the merciless fight which the state in the Soviet Union had undertaken against these criminals.

When they held power, the foreign and internal enemies of our peoples employed the most inhuman forms and methods. But naturally the foreign enemies will defend their friends within our countries, while our duty has been and still is to suppress the enemies of the people and to give them no possibility to operate against the constructive work of the people

This the Soviet state did through the Moscow trials. In these trials Andrey Vyshinsky, outstanding jurist and Marxist-Leninist, played an important role. He displayed skill, acumen, wisdom, courage and determination in this important task. Through his acumen and strong logic, on the basis of a profound dialectical Marxist-Leninist analysis, he uncovered all the obscure angles of problems, the intrigues and plans of the enemies who stood in the dock, as well as of the external enemies who pulled the strings of this terrible and dangerous agency. And it was precisely this unerring method of unravelling matters which astonished the external enemies and their espionage agencies about how their secret plans were discovered and compelled them to slander an propagate that everything, every statement, every admission by the accused had been extorted by means of torture, drugs, etc.

We had gathered in one of the rooms of the palace, where we were staying, waiting for Vyshinsky. At last he came. I was excited because I was meeting him for the first time. (When I went to Moscow in July 1947, Vyshinsky was not in the Soviet Union.) He was just as I had heard, a vigorous man, not very tall, with horn-rimmed glasses and bright black eyes that took in everything. He was wearing a blue suit. Vyshinsky shook hands with all of us in turn and when he came to me, apparently as I was the only one he had not met before, he guessed who I was, because he gave me his hand and asked me in Russian:

“How is your health, Comrade Enver Hoxha?”

“Harasho!” I replied.

Meanwhile Chuvakin intervened and said:

“Comrade Enver speaks French well.” Then Vyshinsky started to speak to me in French and I could speak more freely.

We began the meeting which Dej opened with a short speech. He welcomed us to Bucharest and gave the floor to Vyshinsky.

He greeted us warmly and also transmitted the greetings of Stalin and other comrades of the Political Bureau of the CC of the CPSU (b).

“The object of this meeting,” said Vyshinsky in general outline, “is to exchange our experience and reveal our joint knowledge about the betrayal of the Yugoslav Titoites, about their undermining activity against our countries, parties and socialism, and to define the method of combatting and unmasking their deviation which is dangerous for communism in general and for the Yugoslav Communist Party and socialism in Yugoslavia in particular.”

In the course of the analysis he made of the secret and open activity of Tito’s renegade group, Vyshinsky explained to us in detail the theoretical and political content of the letters of the Bolshevik Party to the CPY and the Resolution of the meeting of the Information Bureau on this important question. Our parties were acquainted with these documents which we had studied in detail and on which we had taken decisions, fully endorsing them.

[….]

“The question of Yugoslavia is an internal question of the peoples of Yugoslavia and the Yugoslav communists” continued Vyshinsky, “and we have not meddled and will not meddle in their internal affairs. We have no right to interfere, but it is our duty to ensure the political and ideological exposure of the activity of this clique which is fighting against Marxism-Leninism and serves world capitalism. Already,” continued Vyshinsky, “in the international arena and the internal plane the Titoites present themselves as open enemies of the Soviet Union and their activities in this direction will increase, not only against us, but also against all the countries of people’s democracy and the socialist camp. Their activity is identical with the activities of the Trotskyites, Bukharinites and agents of world capital whom we have unmasked in our trials.”

“The unmasking of the enemy has very great importance,” stressed Vyshinsky. “The Soviet peoples had to be convinced of the treacherous activity of the Trotskyites, the Bukharinites and the rightists, therefore we placed importance on this and managed to achieve that our enemies themselves brought out the smallest details which are frequently important because they explain major questions. The truth which proved their treachery emerged naked before our courts and our peoples. This had decisive importance. This is the important thing to achieve,” said Vyshinsky. “After this the number of years to which the enemy is sentenced has secondary importance. The people must approve this sentence, must be convinced. This is what we must do with Tito’s renegade group, too. This group is in power and will defend itself. It will also commit all sorts of provocations against our socialist states, but we must be prudent, vigilant and must not fall for their provocations!” he concluded.

– Enver Hoxha, “The Titoites”

Trotskyism Revisited

trotsky2

I. Trotsky and the FBI 

Red Youth

An article appeared in The Independent on the 25/11/1993 which gave details of a friend of Leon Trotsky’s living in Mexico, Diego Rivera, who provided information to the FBI on anyone that he suspected of being GPU (Soviet intelligence) agents. His allegations were directed against anyone working in such organisations as the Mexican Communist Party (PCM) to Mexican trade unions. This in itself is interesting because, officially Rivera and Trotsky broke personal relations on May 31, 1940. Trotsky wrote in a letter to the chief of the Federal District in Mexico, ‘I have nothing in common with the political activities of Diego Rivera. We broke our personal relations fifteen months ago.’ (US National State archives; Trotsky Archive.)

But many people were mutual friends of the two, both of them worked in the same organisations such as the American Committee for the Defence of Leon Trotsky (ACDLT). Charles Curtiss was such a friend who sent Trotsky several reports of his meetings with Rivera:‘During my visit in Mexico, from July 4, 1938 to approximately July 15, 1939, I was in close association with Diego Rivera and Leon Trotsky…. I served as an intermediary between them,’ (Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1939-40)

Trotsky of course knew of this, thus helping Rivera in supplying information to the FBI.

To return to the article in The independent, a Professor William Chase of the University of Pittsburgh was quoted at the end stating that he has ‘concrete information’ to prove that Trotsky was an FBI informant. Red Youth has subsequently obtained this information (the source relevant to this particular revelation is US State archives – RG 84 or from Prof. Chase himself. Any other evidence will be referred to after the quotation).

According to the Professor, the information Trotsky provided to the FBI was a means to obtain a US visa. But as the Professor points out, ‘By providing the US Consulate with information about common enemies, be they Mexican or American communists or Soviet agents, Trotsky hoped to prove his value to a government that had no desire to grant him a visa.

Trotsky’s hysterical allegations were directed against anyone who might share sympathies with the USSR under Stalin. In America the ACDLT campaigned for the asylum of Trotsky in the US. At the time of the World Congress Against War and Fascism and the Latin American Labour Congress, Trotsky asked his supporters to ‘mail as soon as possible known names of congress delegates who are GPU agents’. Prof. Chase admits himself the ridiculous nature of these allegations which leads one to think of the number of honest proletarian and democratic persons whose names who were supplied to the FBI, ‘Trotsky’s accusations that liberals and radicals who did not share his views on certain issues were Stalinists or GPU agents further diminished his support in the US.’

But there is more. With this array of high-flown allegations Trotsky accepted an invitation to appear in front of the ‘Dies Committee’. This is otherwise known as the US Congress House Un-American Activities Committee. It was linked to overtly fascist figures, conducted anti-democratic witch-hunts and played a leading role in passing many anti-labour laws. Such was the anti-fascist and proletarian stance of Trotsky (fortunately, Trotsky never appeared on this committee because he never got a visa, but as we shall see he passed on information to the US government by other means). Now we come to the central point of this Red Youth exclusive: Trotsky’s courtship of the FBI:

‘In June [1940], Robert McGregor of the [US] Consulate met with Trotsky in his home… he met again with Trotsky on 13 July… Trotsky told McGregor in detail of the allegations and evidence he had compiled… He gave to McGregor the names of Mexican publications, political and labour leaders, and government officials allegedly associated with the PCM [Mexico and the USSR were the only countries in the world to materially support the fight against Franco’s Fascism in the Spanish Civil War 1936-39]. He charged that one of the Comintern’s [the Communist international’s] leading agents, Carlos Contreras served on the PCM Directing Committee. He also discussed the alleged efforts of Narciso Bassols, former Mexican Ambassador to France, whom Trotsky claimed was a Soviet agent, to get him deported from Mexico.’

‘Upon receipt, the State Department transmitted McGregor’s memo to the FBI.

‘…The Information, while not new, responded to both bodies’ concerns.’

Well, there you have it. The outwardly anti-communist and anti-democratic veneer of the US was shared by Trotsky.

While the whole world was facing the onslaught of fascist forces, when the USSR with the guidance of the communist party and comrade Joseph Stalin were facing this attack single-handedly on the behalf of all progressive humanity, when the colonies of imperialism were striving for national liberation, Trotsky and his vile organisations were aiding reaction every-where and still play their significant part in this today. While Red Youth prints this new evidence, it is of no surprise to us or anyone at all acquainted with the role of Trotskyism, that Trotskyism is truly the agent of the ruling class within the ranks of the working class and is used to full advantage by our enemies to this day as much as in the past. ‘Overnight many of the older anti-Bolshevik crusaders abandoned their former pro-Czarist and openly counter-revolutionary line, and adopted the new, streamlined Trotskyite device of attacking the Russian Revolution ‘from the left’. In the following years it became an accepted thing for a Lord Rothermere or a William Randolph Hearst to accuse Josef Stalin of ‘betraying the revolution’ [one can still see this as we are taught that it was obvious that Trotsky was the natural successor to Lenin in our schools and have to read the books of another state informer and Trotskyist – George Orwell]….

‘Adolf Hitler read Trotsky’s autobiography as soon as it was published. Hitler’s biographer, Konrad Heiden, tells in ‘Der Fuehrer’ how the Nazi leader surprised a circle of his friends in 1930 by bursting into rapturous praise of Trotsky’s book’ (‘The Great Conspiracy Against Russia,’ Kahn and Sayers).

But to be fair, Trotsky should be left to speak for himself. ‘The wretched squabbling systematically provoked by Lenin, that old hand at the game, that professional exploiter of all that is backward in the Russian labour movement, seems like a senseless obsession…. The entire edifice of Leninism Is built on lies and falsification and bears within itself the poisonous elements of its own decay. ‘(Letter to Chkeidze 1913)

‘Brilliant!’ cried Hitler, waving Trotsky’s ‘My Life’ at his followers. I have learned a great deal and so can you!’ (‘Great Conspiracy’).

Lalkar, March-April 1997.

II. On the Use of Trotskyists as Japanese Spies in China

Mao Zedong

Mao Zedong, the Secretary of the Communist Party of China, states about the cooperation of the Japanese with the Trotskyists: ‘only a short while ago in one of the divisions of the Eighth Revolutionary Peoples’ Army, a man by the name of Yu Shih was exposed as a member of the Shanghai Trotskyist organisation. The Japanese had sent him there from Shanghai so that he could do espionage work in the Eighth Army and carry out sabotage work.

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

‘Trotskyist agents are being sent to the Border Regions where they systematically apply all methods in their sabotage work against the cooperation of the Kuomintang and the Communist Party. They try to destroy the morale of the soldiers of the Eighth Army, the students and the people of the Border Regions. They try to incite people against the United Front, against the Central Government, against the war of independence, against Marshal Chiang Kaishek.’

In an interview with the Soviet journalist, R. Carmen who is at present in China, Mao, who is recognized by the Japanese as the best strategist in China, declared that the attempts of the reactionary English and other politicians to convince China to renounce its plans are destined to be shattered. ‘China is not only determined to beat the Japanese but also to strengthen the National and United Front and to extend it. Only very few people want to have an understanding with the Japanese and fight against the Central Anti-Japanese Government and the United Front… If we do not destroy these people then it will be difficult to be victorious against the Japanese. But the Chinese people – and with them the Communists, the progressive elements in the Kuomintang and the other parties – are determined to carry out the struggle to a victorious conclusion.’

Translated from the German by V.P. Sharma.
Rundschau (Basel), No. 41, 3rd August, 1939, p. 1169.

Source

The Assault on the House of Leon Trotsky

David Siqueiros

David Alfaro Siqueiros

by David Alfaro Siqueiros

David Siqueiros is well-known as a master of Mexican revolutionary mural art as well as a combatant in the defence of the Spanish democratic republic from fascism. His role in the assault of the house of Leon Trotsky in May, 1940 has long been clouded in obscurity. Siqueiros’ speech in court which is published here for the first time, from the archives of the siqueiros foundation in Mexico, elucidates the political motives of the artist in this bizarre event. Siqueiros felt impelled to this act after experiencing at first hand the negative role of the Trotskyite POUM during the anti-fascist war in Spain. He wanted to vindicate the honour of Mexican democracy which had been besmirched by the presence of Trotsky in Mexico. With Hitler’s army poised to strike to the east Siqueiros found it necessary to mount an act of protest to stop Trotsky from using Mexico as a springboard for his attacks on the Soviet Union. The protest was designed to gather, without bloodshed, documentary proof about the money which Trotsky was getting from the reactionary Hearst newspaper chain and to precipitate a scandal which would oblige the Cárdenas government to close down Trotsky’s headquarters in Mexico. The armed protest ended in fiasco. Trotsky lay hidden under his bed shielded by his wife, in the confusion of the attack the documents which siqueiros hoped to find were not hunted for; Trotsky remained firmly ensconced in Mexico. The Communist Party of Mexico categorically stated that it had nothing to do the action. Three months later in an attack unrelated to the activities of Siqueiros Trotsky was assassinated. For Siqueiros the protest resulted in months of hiding, jail and years of exile. Details of this may be found in the biography of Siqueiros by Phil Stein recently issued by International Publishers, New York. The Court deposition of Siqueiros at a broader level gives a picture of the problems faced by the communist and democratic movement from Trotskyism in the 1930s in Spain and elsewhere. At that time Siqueiros was not to know that Trotsky was supplying information to the FBI about the international communist movement through the US consulate in Mexico. After the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU in 1956 the critique of Trotskyism was gradually toned down. This was not a matter of surprise for, as has been pointed out by Kaganovich in his memoirs, Khrushchev had been a supporter of Trotsky in 1923-24 so that his ‘secret speech’ represented a return to his political roots.

Political reasons that made it possible and inevitable. The psychological-political process in which it incubated. The reason for my participation.

To public opinion in general.

To the Mexican proletariat in particular.

To the Judge of the Court of the First Instance in Coyoacán.

The Assault on the House of Leon Trotsky

When the Mexican combatants, in the first days of January 1937, arrived in Spain to fight for the Republic in the ranks of the Popular Army, we met with the overbearing reproach that ‘President Cárdenas gave arms to the Spanish people in order to fight for the Revolution, but at the same time he gave arms to Leon Trotsky in order that from revolutionary Mexico he can struggle against the Revolution, and the corollary to this, no less cruel that ‘before this passed the incalculable passivity of the Mexican labour movement.’

In vain we the Mexicans pledged to erase so deep a resentment. To our arguments about the ‘traditional political Mexican hospitality’, we were answered with the logic of ‘yes; traditional political hospitality for the revolutionaries, for Marti, for Julio Antonio Mella, for the mother of Prestes, and no hospitality and protection to the most significant general headquarters of the international counterrevolution.’

Already in the ranks, in the Spanish units as well as the Internationals, we encountered the same vehement condemnation. Combatants from all the countries asked us to explain to them the ‘abstruse Cardenista paradox.’ And everyone, over our poor arguments, concluded with a ratification of the affirmation – that it constituted a grave dishonour of the revolutionary labour movement of Mexico. Our reply that President Cárdenas had proceeded against the opinion of the majority of the labour unions – did nothing more than to increase the reprobative energy against the Government of Mexico, and against the incomplete, the anaemic, action of the organized masses of our country.

For all, that was inexplicable. It was not able to fit within the limits of unconscious politics. In effect it was about a precise form of counter-revolutionary activity, doubly grave arising from a progressive movement.

Leon Trotsky, meanwhile, had taken possession of a functioning tribune, which against all legal practice for political refugees, had been given to him, and this is a contradiction, by the most progressive President of Mexico, President Cárdenas, in the very Capital of the Mexican Republic. From that insuperable tribune, permanently protected by the police, the prevaricator, disguised as a heroic caudillo of the communist extreme left, with spiteful delirium, raises an attack against the Mexican and international revolutionary movement, in the historic moments of a greater reactionary offensive in every country.

The most backward sector of the Mexican bourgeoisie, as well as the bourgeoisie of all countries, continue considering Trotsky of the initial period of the Russian Revolution, Trotsky as a member of the party of Lenin and Stalin, rancorously, but they extend a fraternal hand to Trotsky the anti-Stalinist, ‘to the greatest enemy of your greatest enemy,’ who supports the local counter-revolutionary struggle, and the world counterrevolutionary struggle, helped by an unprecedented use of an ample baggages of sophistry. For this object, his first step was to open fully the doors of publicity.

We did not conceive then that this error would have been able to plant roots. ‘The Mexican Labour Movement (it was affirmed) was powerful. The greatest of Latin America. The influence of the Mexican Communist Party and its sympathizers within the labour unions was considerable. Also important was its prestige – among those that formed the Partido de la Revolución Mexicana, without there yet being a Popular Front, it constituted the base of a true popular Front – for in it would be tied workers, peasants, soldiers, craftsmen, intellectuals and an evidently progressive sector of the new national bourgeoisie.’ President Cárdenas, the most advanced public man of the Mexican Revolution, could not deny, that is, without contradicting the very nature of his Government, that which with such fervour he was asked, which already, the masses of workers and peasants, the revolutionary movement together, have reclaimed, for which they have given you the power in the energetic struggle against the ‘maximatura’ of Calles. [1]

From Mexico, unfortunately, we received pessimistic news. There was opposition to the decision of Cárdenas, but in a form that seemed more like the mournful cry and filial demands of the deer, then the exigency and combative determination of the popular proletarian and revolutionary masses before a functionary who was the formal democratic representation of these masses – in power. That president Cárdenas remained immovable in his resolution as a patriarchal caudillo of these masses.

Then later the tearful letters were received, of whom it was supposed were the bold directors of the Mexican Revolution. They dealt with intimate trembling censures (in this respect, secret) of the ‘Maderismo [2] suicide of President Cárdenas,’ of his ‘strange mixture of romantic and popularist chief.’ ‘He had much of your Azaña in his liberal governmental methods, the best President that the Mexican Revolution has given,’ we were told with a vehement desperation.

But with the illusion of finding some exception in the Mexican political reality that we were already intermingled with, we pressed to inquire more. ‘The Mexican Communist Party in solidarity with the political platform of Cárdenas, with his popular reforms, had made one of the fundamental points of its tactic, the Popular Front.’ ‘The Communist Party considered thus, that anything that could put in danger or break the unity of the group of progressive forces of Cardenismo, is contrary to their present position.’ ‘Very well,’ we replied, ‘but proletarian solidarity, communist solidarity, with the group of labour-progressives of Cárdenas, does not mean subordination of the proletarian class, – of its vanguard’ (silence, which is the same in the dynamics of politics) ‘to each and every one of its determinations.’ ‘No’ (we argued), ‘only the immense individual susceptibility of President Cárdenas can produce a fatal break that would inevitably redound in damage of the revolutionary unity of Mexico.’ That which cannot be dislodged from our mind is the conviction that the censure – loyal, jointly, with whatever energy, not only will not divide, but would oblige more – firmness of unity.

Of the former we have not the slightest doubt, it is called: an initial act of capitulation of the labour movement of Mexico before the new progressive bourgeoisie that governs the country. It was a grave injury to the democratic forms that should have normalized the relations between a Government of popular impulse and the popular masses that gave it the power. It was the start of the aggravation of the then embryonic patriarchal caudillismo of President Cárdenas. The point of departure of the progressive loss of the political independence of the revolutionary proletarian movement of Mexico, and the origin, deadly, ‘following.’ In sum, it was the beginning of a series of victories for reaction in our land over the organized proletarian and popular forces, independent of the ascendent programme of advanced Cardenista reforms. But above all it was the opposite road of the Popular Front, or that is the retrogression of the Revolution of Mexico in its primordial aspect, which is the political potential of its mass organizations.

The conditions in which the civil war in Spain unfolded, in which we were among its actors, was not a compensation for the moral damage which the news from Mexico had produced. Under the circumstances of Civil War, they governed, astonishingly, with the legal procedures of the state of alarm. The Republican governments that had been incapable of smothering the civil war during the time of peace, seemed impotent in transforming themselves into Governments of Civil War. One year after the initiation of the military struggle, no decree of the state of war had been issued. There were no signs that it would be decreed in a more or less short space of time. Under these conditions, the indispensable martial law, both in the rear and at the front, was lacking. The Republican political parties, with the exception of the Spanish Communist Party, to a greater or lesser degree, did not show signs of understanding, in all its magnitude, the immense error that that somnambulist method of governing signified, those liberal procedures in the avalanche of the civil war.

Thus, espionage, sabotage, treason and the provocation of Trotskyism, the most efficacious nucleus for the demagogy of the Fifth Column of Franco in the Loyalist zone, had arisen and developed without any obstacle, in the same entrails of the political, union, agrarian and military organizations with the precise economic knowledge of the Republican State, under the shadow of the governments of the Popular Front. In effect, the Republican authorities, although it seems inconceivable, needed thirteen months (from July 18, 1936 until June 16, 1937) in order to discover that the political party of Trotskyism in Spain was a dependency of espionage, sabotage and provocation, at the direct service of the Headquarters of the so-called Nationalista Army. It was not enough to read in the newspapers and magazines of these agents of enemy espionage, slogans such as ‘Madrid, tomb of fascism! Catalonia, tomb of the Government!’, that is, the tomb of the popular Front, the tomb of the unity of the proletariat and Spanish people against the armed assault of reaction.

Naturally this tree had to give its fruits: The 3rd of May, 1937, that is, two-and-a-half months after having discovered the true political physiognomy of the so-called ‘Marxist-Leninist’ orthodoxies of the P.O.U.M., [3] two-and-a-half months after the most inexplicable liberty for their organs of publicity (sufficiently darkening that which it could!): La Batalla, Alerta, etc. etc. exploded in the city of Barcelona, which is to say the extreme rearguard of the Republican front, an armed uprising directed BY THEM, with the complicity of all those ambushers of the rear, of all the disguised anarchist rabble, of all those whiners demanding capitulation, of the bourgeois that wanted peace at any price, and in their treason using the trick of the ‘transformation of the civil war into proletarian revolution,’ over the conciliators of the Popular Front.’ An uprising that cost the Spanish people 850 lives and 2,600 wounded. The masterpiece, in the end, of our refugee of Coyoacán; of ‘the poor persecuted politician,’ romantically isolated in Mexico by President Cárdenas, by virtue of the torpor of the combative will of the organized masses.

But in Mexico things were not going any better. ‘President Cárdenas (according to the latest information) is brought each time more to the concept of the neutral Government, in the daily struggle against the progressively more violent assaults of the reaction reinforced by demagogic Trotskyism. Thus he seems to fulfill in part that which the counter-revolutionary forces of the country urge. Like Azaña (for the bloody experience of the Spanish Republic), he believes that the army, physically guaranteeing the Mexican Revolution, should be an entity that is politically neutral. Its chiefs, officers, non-commissioned officers and troops, could, according to his definition, serve the very ranks of the counter-revolutionary parties, in the ranks of the political parties contrary to the Mexican Revolution. Like Azaña (for the anguish of the betrayed Spanish Republic), President Cárdenas believes that the creation of a political police, of a service of political information, would constitute a stain on his Government. Like Azaña (also for a bitter experience of the Spanish Republic), President Cárdenas believes that the diplomatic and consular service is outside the border of political considerations and only subject to technical rules. But the most serious is that President Cárdenas proceeds thus while he dictates parallel to his most radical reforms, as that of the liquidation of the latifundias in Yucatán, the official intervention in the previously untouchable latifundias of the Yankees or of prevailing personalities in Mexican politics, etc., so, it seemed logical that the more transcendent the popular reforms there was greater violence against this offensive by reaction and imperialism. This attitude is developing terribly in the wings of our economically powerful enemies, through the whole territory of the Nation. A panorama very similar to that of the Spanish Republic in the years before the blow of the hand of reaction.

The news completed the dramatic picture. In face of such serious facts the revolutionary movement of Mexico hardly attained a little answer. Nothing serious enough to stop the march to the defeat of the Civil War or the not impossible capitulation, with the living document of the liberalism that made possible the ‘takeover’ of Franco. One of their most characteristic passions was called: ‘Campaign against the Minister of the Exterior, Engineer Eduardo Lay, for having proven his connivance with international Fascism.’ A passion, in sum, that President Cárdenas ended in a maternal manner, like in other very serious cases of Mexican politics.

Perhaps in this ‘democratic’ neutrality, and in this infantile anaemia of the Mexican labour movement, the explanation is found of the tolerance by the Government of Cárdenas of the continuing political activities of Leon Trotsky in Mexico. But the objective fact is that the greatest of the dissemblers of the Revolution, the born chief of ‘poumista’ (of the P.O.U.M.) espionage in Republican Spain, managed in a short time to transform the tribune that President Cárdenas gave to him into a general-headquarters of national and international counter-revolutionary politics, protected on the outside, day and night, by the pistols, rifles and bayonets of ten members of the Mexican police, and on the inside, day and night also, by the arms of ten foreign gunmen. A political centre, with secretaries and typewriters, with daily connections from within their place to outside the city, and from within their place to lands abroad by the means of free transit through the United States. All of this, naturally, within the view and with the approval of the Secretary of Gobernación of Mexico, that is, with the illegal consent of the Mexican Government, for legal consent was impossible. That is to say, under the illegal protection of the most legalistic Government that Mexico has had. It is evident that to charge ignorance on the part of the Mexican authorities would be to utter an insult.

The real fact is that to one truth you have to add another : President Cárdenas gave arms to Trotsky, in order that from revolutionary Mexico, he can fight against the Mexican Revolution and the international Revolution, but in addition, his subalterns were anxious because these arms rendered the greatest efficacy possible.

It was clear, even from a distance, that in Mexico the Revolution was being made from above. Its destiny depended fundamentally on the will of a good patriarch, but nothing more. Very advanced popular reforms were realized by the President of the Republic, but these reforms were seriously threatened by the lack of a true social force at the base. For us it was unquestionable that its life could be precarious. This was the palpable reality that emerged from the political and union movement of Mexico. The feeble revolutionary forces of our country did not seem to have made any progress of importance in the (then) three and a half years of the most friendly regime. The political foundations of the masses had not yet been built to the point where its backward motion could be affirmed, for in politics, standing still, static, signifies regression. The Popular Front, the only materialization possible of the Democratic Revolution of Mexico of today, continues being in the long run a possible fact and nothing more. Its chrysalis, the Party of the Mexican Revolution, gravely suffered from all the ills that its predecessor, the old National Revolutionary Party (the party of the new-rich reactionaries of Calles), suffered from and it only attained the discovery of its loquacity in more advanced and better formulated propositions. In substance it continued being a bureaucratic satrap of a circumstancial political arm in the effective hands (nominal ones don’t count) of sub-caudillos of the new-rich class, and not always corresponding to its progressive sector.

The deadly direction that things took in Spain and the alarming news that we received from Mexico, impelled me to make a rapid trip to the Capital of my country. An eloquent and documented presentation, I thought, of the causes that precipitated the fascist turn in Spain, would serve President Cárdenas as a magnified experience in order to alter the suicidal liberal processes that he seemed to be adopting in the face of the development of the reaction. This experience, above all, I considered, should be fully known by the revolutionary labour movement of Mexico in its fullness, since, of our war in Spain they seemed to be only interested in its heroic aspects, but in no way of the tremendous errors. In addition, this conviction, I imagine, will permit support of its prestige to the elimination of the shortcomings and complacency that in Spain is speeding up the arrival of defeat.

For this object, I requested and obtained from the Minister of Defence, Señor Indalecio Prieto, a two-months leave, given the nature of my being Chief of the 46th Mixed Brigade, then based in the Extremadura front. And on the 10th of November, 1937, with the added task of buying complimentary military parts, I departed for the United States and Mexico.

I wanted to speak clearly with President Cárdenas. To demonstrate to him, with the bloody Spanish experience in each and every one of its objective details, the fatal consequences of a political complacency that was falsely democratic with the enemies of Democracy, with the boisterous reaction, ready to take power. I wanted to point out the fatal error of giving refuge to Trotsky in Mexico, by exhibiting the documents of the work that this renegade had brought to the fore in Spain. I wanted to demonstrate in sum, how already in the civil war those errors, many times puerile in their exterior aspect, were amplified by the seriousness of the military circumstances, translated into lack of discipline, into inaction, into routine or creative inventiveness, in delivering slowly to the enemy within, for the later criminal ends of the entire enemy.

With this object, with sympathy, I asked for a special meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Mexico. But the Political Bureau of the CPM, on approving my intervention, disapproved of the ‘style’ in which it was proposed. It did not want to have to injure the known susceptibility of the President. It did not want to wound his hidden but passionate criterion of independence. Dramatic proof of the political feebleness, my painful anticipation of ‘following,’ was for me that useless strategy of reverence! I had already heard it said in Spain that the revolutionaries in Mexico do not want to touch President Cárdenas, ‘not even with the petal of a rose.’ Already I had heard said in Spain about this sui generis proletarian ‘diplomacy.’

I was then in the presence of the patriarchal caudillismo of President Cárdenas and in the same brain of partial capitulation of the Mexican Labour Movement, facing this patriarchal caudillismo. I was before the failure of the independence of the Mexican Labour Movement and in the same centre of the reason of their failure of combativeness. The authentic proof of the lack of a Popular Front of Democracy in the land. The central reason for the impotency of the Mexican revolutionaries in the ‘affair Trotsky,’ that so rudely condemned the native and international fighters in the Spanish Civil War.

I had, in consequence, to enter the business by the skylight, instead of doing it normally through the door. I had to fabricate with a paste of protocol, a Spanish mirror that would transmit to President Cárdenas, indirectly, symbolically, the dangers of Mexican reality. A mirror with the superimposition of the two phenomena, and thus in the long run was my intention, and metaphorically I wrote a report of 40 pages, that I gave to him personally. Thus I also sought in conversation during various hours of intimate talk in which the roundabout course and evasions dried my throat and must have vexed the President. Naturally I mentioned the affair Trotsky with all the necessary ‘subtlety’, for this case seemed to be the uncovered nerve of his sensibility.

After remaining three days in the Capital of my country, I returned to Spain. I went full of hope, for such was my poor faith in the power of eloquence objectively demonstrated. I returned to the command of my Brigade, the 46th Mixed Brigade, then situated in the Sierra Herrera Sector and I waited confident that in time, more or less distant, the news from Mexico would change and the methods of governing would be transformed in our great contest. That which I had done was very little, insignificant, but the development of events could increase, perhaps to the necessary limits for a solution. After a long period of absolutely no news the war opened between Mexico and Spain. Seven months passed. That would be (what had already been?) the effects of my rapid and distant effort? Those long months of military activity that followed my return from Mexico were for me long months of silence in that which was in respect to my country and long months of inevitable despair concerning the fatal development that military events in Spain had taken.

Already twenty months of military strife had passed, but in Republican Spain the state of alarm continued being the legal rudder of the war. Twenty months of war but no sign appeared of martial law, notwithstanding the powerful development of the Fifth Column, made up of Falangist ambushes, of false anarchists and Trotskyites that organized the acceleration of the overthrow of the Republic.

Before the Spanish Civil War, as it has been seen, Trotskyism for me was an obvious form of political apostasy and a dangling of provocation in the camp of revolution. But it was in the course of this war when it scarcely remained to be proven, that it had the means to qualify as the most appalling demagogic arm of the counterrevolution in every country. I saw, I felt in the very same ranks of the military units I commanded (the 82nd and 46th Brigades of a defined character, and the 87th, 88th, 109th and the 62nd, in addition the 29th Division, of makeshift character), its daily hypocritical alliance with the spies, the saboteurs, provocateurs, defeatists, deserters and surrenderers of the Fifth Column of Franco within the ranks of the Republicans. Their incommensurable treason of May in Barcelona was near enough to me that I didn’t have to see their faces well to be convinced that they were the true authors!

I was not able, in consequence, to agree with what in Mexico, my country, under the most progressive of its regimes, under the government of President Cárdenas, that had given so many moral and material proofs of solidarity to the cause of the Spanish people; that such advanced reforms have been put forward and continue to be put forward, could shelter in its territory, nothing less then the general headquarters that conceives, organizes and executes these iniquities, covering it with a Tartuffian cloak of a supposed Marxist orthodoxy. I ought to know, I categorically made clear, that the principal target of the attack of such traitors was the Spanish Communist Party, the only force that really, that with integrity, made war, the only force that positively worked for victory, the only force that was determined to weld, under a government transformed into a true Government of War, all the proletarian, popular and progressive units of Spain against the common enemy; the Republican Sector that was most villainously attacked by France, his fascist allies and international reaction.

In these conditions the painful order arrived for all the foreigners who had fought in the ranks of the popular Army, to leave Spain. Thus, the Second Republic innocently thought, that it would be able to expel the invading armies of the Italians and the Germans. A little later the operations of the Italo-German factions were precipitated over the northwest of Spain, and with this the loss of Barcelona and catastrophe for the heroic people. The natural epilogue is of the betrayal by the ‘great Democracies’, but also of the natural result of the already cited chain of uninterrupted errors and absurd indifferences with the ambushes of all the political formality and between these the so-called Marxists-Leninists of the international band of provocateurs directed by Leon Trotsky from his General-Headquarters of Coyoacán, Mexico.

We went from Spain with the conviction that our defeat was not only the result of the cowardice of the great ‘democracies’, as is said by some. Neither was it the exclusive result of the failure of international revolutionary solidarity, as many say. Nor the unique consequence of the impotency of the political parties of the left to construct a unity of the entire people of the Nation. Nor was it the primordial consequence of the ‘anarchy of the masses’ as Prieto and his disciples supposed. For us the initial cause of the defeat, the starting-point, has to be found in the incommensurable weakness of the Republican Governments, in legal suicide, that did not know how to make the war (civil and militarily speaking) with methods of war, and much less a civil war with the method of civil war.

In Mexico, we say it formally, the same thing began to happen, for the same and perhaps more puerile reasons. But would it be possible with simple polemic eloquence and tenacious energy to halt there the mortal course to the same abyss? We intended to do it. But if our power was fruitless the obstacles would have to be knocked down by means, that there would be room. In such a manner the bitter experience of Spain had been eloquent for us! In February 1939 we arrived in Mexico. We found a political panorama that was very dispiriting. The pessimistic news we received from Europe was very brief. Perhaps because of the situation that prevailed in Republican Spain in the last years before the takeover by Franco.

The Mexican leftists in power for some four years (what sarcasm!), were on the defensive, ‘agorzomadas’ [4] by their bold competitors of the right. The Government for its caudillismo and neutral liberalism, deaf and dumb; however a paradox difficult to explain, for President Cárdenas, uninterruptedly, continued with his popular, and anti-imperialist reforms! the Communist Party of Mexico, because of the opportunism of its then National Committee, suffered a grave lethargy; the worker and peasant movement, because of its Moronista [5] remnants and for reasons of its compadrazgo [6] politics, followers without revolutionary fire, almost inert; the Party of the Mexican Revolution, as it has been seen before, sunk in the most dark and impersonal bureaucracy and in the hands of the sub-caudillo satraps of the new-rich governing class.

In return, the counter-revolution, Porfirioism, Huertaism, Callism, Almantism, in process of developing, and their imperialist and fascist friends, petulantly strut about inside the entire official apparatus and all over. The Spanish Falange, in the land of a Government that is in solidarity with the Republic, functions with absolute liberty, ostentatiously and with impunity exhibiting their fascist uniforms and emblems in the cafés; the ‘Golden Shirts’, defeated in 1935 by the anti-fascist people, have been resurrected; new factious organizations have appeared in political life; the ‘Sinarquista Party,’ the ‘Anti-Communist Revolutionary Party’ and many others of national scale or of simply the state, that visibly develops the means of the daily aggression against the Mexican Communist Party, the Unions, the Agrarian Communities — with an abusive demagoguery of a Hitlerian type; Callism, that is, the luckiest of the new-rich ‘revolutionaries’ that arose from the speculation which their economic power had conserved intact notwithstanding the collapse of their ‘MAXIMATURA’, of theircaudillo challengingly took out the leader in the field of militant politics, and from the very same ranks of the Mexican Revolutionary Party. It was without doubt that there was a manifest current in favour of the liquidation of the Revolution in Mexico, it rose impetuously in all the managing and backward sectors of the population with the evident support of fascism and the ultra-reactionary groups of the North American bourgeoisie. In their design they all used the hypocritical sophistry of exclusive anti-communism, anti-Stalinism, but their true objective was to kill at the same time Cárdenism and the Revolution in general.

And, naturally, Leon Trotsky, the leader and maestro of the denominated, Fourth International, occupied his spot, performing his special task, his exceptional task!, in the battle of this great reactionary and imperialist concentration. ‘The orthodox Marxist-Leninist’, simultaneously supported his anti-Stalinist offensive with the common anti-Stalinist front of reaction and interpreted it with brilliant demagoguery in his mendacious calumnies to the only Parties, Union organizations and Leaders that took into account Cárdenism and the Revolution in Mexico.

But without ceasing Trotsky affirmed that he was not attacking Cárdenas (what nonsense!). Trotsky only attacked the Cárdenists, the Parties, the Leaders, the persons of the union and agrarian political movement that supported Cárdenas. Trotsky attacked only what Cárdenas had done for the defence and development of his policies. His pick-blows were not against the arch, yes, not against the columns. Trotsky was not against Cárdenas, against the person of President Cárdenas, against the First Magistrate of the Republic as an absolute individual, but yes, against the political privileges of the proletarian — popular and bourgeois — progressive concentration that formed Cárdenism, that formed the political structure of Cárdenism, all the time articulating in high and low theory (!) — against the tactic of the Popular Front and the political coalition that supports the political platform of Cárdenas, which is no more than a Popular Front — the Popular Front that in the process of construction, Trotsky and all the bourgeoisie fight with all their strength. Trotsky, therefore, is not against the person of President Cárdenas, but yes, against the support of the proletarian class, against the proletarian revolution, against the progressive politics of President Cárdenas, as he was, to the point of ignominy, in the case of the Second Spanish Republic.

In practice, in the dynamic of revolutionary national politics of Mexico, Trotsky was in this sense against Cárdenism as a political platform, as the political practice of the national Revolution in Mexico, as the tactic of the Revolution in the present historical stage of Mexico. And this, in the Mexican political life of the present, I wish to mathematically state, to be with reaction is to be against the Revolution; therefore, Trotskyite theory, the Trotskyite simplistic theory, the perfidious Trotskyite theory, of proletarian revolution at all costs, is in present-day Mexico, as in Republican Spain — more than a stupidity, it is a precise reactionary demagogic manifestation. Stupid of Trotsky? Doubtless a cretin, Trotsky? No the intelligent, very intelligent work of a counter-revolutionary provocateur.

Trotsky asserted that he would not intervene in the internal politics of the country, respecting his legal position as a refugee. He maintained that the targets of his attacks were only agents of the G.P.U., and for that reason, actors of a specifically international politic. But Trotsky took very good care to say that these ‘agents of the G.P.U.’ were the only precise political supports, as it has been before noted, of the governmental conduct of President Cárdenas, of the democratic-bourgeois Revolution in Mexico, in consequence, and for that reason, theonly victims of the blows of each-and-every-one of the diverse sectors that make up the political unity of the anti-Revolution of today.

For Trotsky, for the renegade Trotsky, his blows originated in a specie of high politics that was situated in the stratosphere of the Revolution and not on the ordinary political surface of the others. In this virtue, the invariable synchronizing of the anti-Stalinist diffusing of the national and international counterrevolution, responded only to its own knife thrusts, to the stabs of Trotsky, besides, for their Trotskyite dialectics to be of any importance, they in fact fired at the same flesh that merited the common and unanimous reactionary aggression. For Trotsky the politician, the simultaneity of the attack meant nothing, nothing, the political personality of the victim, nothing, the nature of the politics of the band of aggressors nor of the motive of the attack. His knife was red and this was enough… so, what more can I give you of all the others that were dagger targets?

When the activities of the Dies Committee against Mexico became visible and with it was accentuated the volume of reactionary fire against Stalinism, against Cárdenism (‘el Cardenismo stalinizante,’ as the imperialists labeled it), against the parceling of land, against the right to strike, against the expropriation of the Petroleum Enterprise, Trotsky, the Trotsky that would not intervene in Mexican national politics, the Trotsky of the olympian revolution, he advanced as much as he could, in order to demonstrate that by treating of anti-Stalinism, he was the invincible champion face-to-face with the most vigorous bourgeois anti-Stalinist gladiators of any country. And who can deny that Stalin is the cause of the greatest hatred for the bourgeoisie everywhere? Now then, the intelligent Trotsky could not hide the fact that the anti-Stalinism of Dies was no more then an immediate method of attacking Cárdenism, that is, the Mexican Revolution, and by this road the revolution in general. It was then only concerned, as is known, with unmasking his Iscariotism. The remains of modesty? Sophistry of a traitor! For the object he used the generous voice of Diego Rivera – the political answer on the Mexican scale – purposefully to inform of imagined Stalinist ambushes in the Mexican government apparatus, that Ultimas Noticias published sensationally. Thus he tried to fulfil two tasks: to hit Stalinism one more time and tell Dies that Cárdenism was the incubator and the nourisher of Stalinists… this he told for the subsequent end of a greater imperialist pressure against Mexico and in favour of reaction. However the Pharisee assured that he had absolutely nothing to do with the activities of the lynching Texas Representative; and the great ‘eagle’ demanded documentary proof about his relations with that great enemy of our Nation and its people.(?) In this case, lower than his traitorous objective, must have been his mental self-justification; only attack the Stalinist bureaucrats and their Stalinized allies. It is of little importance that his firing coincides with that of Dies, the most perfect symbol of the ultra-reactionary circles of the United States. ‘His platform, the platform of Trotsky was different.’ Worse for his sole enemies, that wanted to do so bad with the entire world; the same for the global counter-revolution as well as the most purified and rectilinear of the Marxist-Leninist revolutions!

Trotsky repeated in Mexico the sequences of his crime that the P.O.U.M. had consummated in Spain. Only his tactic here was more hypocritical by reason of his status of political refugee; there he was able to do it sufficiently barefaced. In Spain, in the name of the Proletarian Revolution at all costs — a stupid and pharisaical doctrine — the opposition politics to the Popular Front — tied the arms of the Republican coalition in order that Francoism and international Fascism could shoot them in the back. In Mexico, fighting indirectly the united forces of the left that were grouped around the Cárdenist program of the Mexican Revolution, he repeated his feat.

That Trotsky is dead and now cannot defend himself? Elizondo, Picaluga, Santa Anna, Victoriano Huerta, Guajardo, are also dead, but this is not significant in what is referred to as the necessary execration of their treasons. Trotsky is surely dead, but the putrification of his politics of his perverted madness lives just for spite. They live on, his proselytes, his disciples, the heirs of the miraculous capacity of the maestro who knew how to make the bourgeoisie of Mexico and of the entire world furiously applaud, when he spoke precisely of the ‘true revolution and of the true Marxism-Leninism,’ that is, of what most offends the counter-revolution. Leon Trotsky, then, the Marxist-Leninist mathematically synchronized with the counter-revolutionary diffusers of the interior and the exterior of the ‘red’ echo of all the calumnies against the International Communist Movement the fecund creator of constant and new calumnies in the international reactionary market, the ‘revolutionary’ of invariable simultaneity of the anti-Stalinist with international counter-revolutionary anti-Stalinism, the hypocrite who paid gratitude to Cárdenas filled with mocking precisely for the only political supporters of Cárdenas, in harmonious parallel with Mexican reaction and foreign anti-Cárdenism, the orator of the proletarian revolution in the midst of the invariable applause of the pro-Porfiristas, of the pro-Huertistas, of the Almazanistas, of the Fascists of Mexico… he finds himself more and more comfortably entrenched in his fortress in Coyoacán, gratuitously protected by the public force of the progressive Mexican State.

Thus, only a debilitated revolutionary could self-sabotage the inevitable duty to struggle against this inconceivable reality. But how to do it? How to accomplish that which the labour organizations of Mexico had not been able to do in a period of three years?

The Mexican labour movement considered as an accomplished fact the sojourn and political activities of Trotsky in his headquarters in Mexico. The C.T.M. (Confederación de Trabajadores Mexicanos) had completely confined its struggle by virtue of the following declaration (Leaflet of the C.T.M. titled: ‘The C.T.M. and Trotsky,’ February 1938, page 17): ‘In the concrete case of Trotsky, the C.T.M. leaves the responsibility of his sojourn in Mexico to the Government of Mexico, who had conceded the permission and who corresponds to the exercise and the application of the political rights that are the exclusive business of the State.’ Has any disapproval more approving been seen? Has any ineffable diplomatic form of washing the hands ever been seen? In any events, it deals with a ‘tactic’ that has nothing to do with the combativeness of the labour movement. The Mexican Communist Party, the only possible vanguard of the proletarian revolutionary movement of Mexico, the only possible vanguard of the Mexican Revolution, however, owing to the opportunism of its leadership at that time, was only a little bit more energetic, but in no way sufficient to consider that it had, at least badly, fulfilled its duty.

Was it possible to end the political paralysis that such reality implies? Was it possible to extirpate from the C.T.M. the political torpor? Was it possible to tear out of the Communist Party the semi-inertia it was coming to suffer from? Our duty was to try it, though deluded the purpose would seem. Our duty was to exhaust all possible recourse within moral discipline. Thus we would be able to struggle parallely against the marasmus that immobilized the Mexican labour movement, against its officialism (so eloquently made manifest in the declaration before cited), against its political dependence, Against its ‘strategic’ friendships, against all those scars inherited from Moronism, that still destroys the political workers and union movement of Mexico, in spite of the progress made in the area of puny corporate organization and in the field of oratorical terminology.

It was then when I lived the dramatic struggle of which I spoke in my investigatory declaration before the First Court of Justice of Coyoacán. Ten, twenty, thirty of participations of mine in meetings of the Mexican Communist Party, in search of an agreement to organize the mobilization of masses of workers, peasants and the people against the caustic habitation of the counter-revolutionary headquarters of Trotsky in Mexico. Ten, twenty, thirty failures were suffered in my intention. How could not the Mexican Communist Party at least understand the public disapproval of one of the most persistent resolves of President Cárdenas when the National Leadership of the Mexican Communist Party damaged its own independence and revolutionary combativeness by supporting a narrow official political solidarity of them? Of Lombardo Toledano and his group, one does not have to speak. The weaknesses and errors of President Cárdenas deserve only very intimate and secret rebuffs, or at most, humble consultations or demands. Trotsky’s activities were bad and detestable for them but the tyranny of relations with the President of the Republic was worse. Inclusive of the great amount of anti-Trotskyite polemics, more then anything it seemed inconvenient for them for reasons of ‘strategy’. The old Moronista concept, fatal for the education of the proletarian masses. And the National Campesino Federation? And the rest of the central unions of Mexico? And the other professional and industrial unions of the country? And in sum, all the rest of the worker, farmer and popular organizations that exist in the land? Impossible!

An insulated action, absolutely independent of every political or union organization, completely autonomous, was the only solution. An action was only possible insulated from the Franco-snipers. A serious decision, but an indispensable and inevitable decision.

So it went, but the headquarters of Trotsky had to be exposed. It would demand the fundamental interests of the Mexican people and the fundamental interests of the Mexican Nation.

In consequence it did not confound me of having to have participated in this task. On the contrary, I considered that as a Mexican revolutionary nothing would be of greater honour than to have contributed to an act that tended to expose the treason of a political centre of espionage and provocation, seriously contrary to the National Independence of Mexico, the Mexican Revolution — that counted me among its soldiers and militants from the year of 1911 – and of the international struggle for the cause of Socialism.

My truth, then, the truth that will appear in my conclusions before this court, simultaneously with the publication of this preamble of the same, will be displayed in a full and final manner.

Footnotes

1. Maximatura refers to President General Plutarco Elias Calles who was called the Maximum Leader, the Supreme Leader. He ran the country from behind the scene when he was out of office.

2. Maderismo was the term used by Siqueiros to criticise Cárdenas. Francisco I. Madero was the acclaimed leader of the Mexican Revolution who had relentlessly attacked U.S. imperialism and was murdered by the General Victoriano Huerta with the connivance of the U.S. ambassador Henry Lane Wilson. In later years Siqueiros used the word Maderismo to signify the ‘romantic populist’ that he considered Madero to be, and Cárdenas to be the same.

3. The Trotskyites’ Partido de Obrero de Unificación Marxista (POUM) had been notoriously unreliable in the Spanish Civil War both in bearing their share of fighting against the fascists and in supporting the Popular Front.

4. Agorzomados, Siqueiros uses the word ‘agorar’ or ‘agorgojarse’ ‘The Mexican leftists in power …. were on the defensive’ from the ominous predictions (agorzomados), of the right, Or the left being eaten by weevils (agorzomados) of the right.

5. Moronista. From Luis N. Morones, corrupt labour leader of the CROM, Confederación Regiónal Obrera Mexicana. Also a secretary of Labour.

6. Compadrazgo. From compadre, godfather, here used sarcastically, it also means conspiracy.

Translated from the Spanish by Philip Stein

Source

Grover Furr on the Objective Study of Soviet History and Challenging the Bourgeois-Trotskyist Paradigm

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“Political prejudice still predominates in the study of Soviet history. Conclusions that contradict the dominant paradigm are routinely dismissed as the result of bias or incompetence. Conclusions that cast doubt upon accusations against Stalin or whose implications tend to make him look either “good” or even less “evil” than the predominant paradigm holds him to have been, are called “Stalinist.” Any objective study of the evidence now available is bound to be called “Stalinist” simply because it reaches conclusions that are politically unacceptable to those who have a strong political bias, be it anticommunist generally or Trotskyist specifically.

[….]

No researcher today, no matter how anti-Soviet, dismisses Soviet evidence just because it is Soviet. Evidence from Soviet archives is routinely regarded as valid.

[….]

The testimony of the defendants at the three Moscow “Show” Trials is routinely dismissed as false. The defendants are said to have been threatened, or tortured, or in some other way induced to confess to absurd crimes which they could not have committed. This is all wrong.

There is no evidence worthy of the name that the defendants were threatened, or tortured, or induced to give false confessions by promises of some kind. Under Khrushchev, again under Gorbachev and, in fact, right up to this day the official stance of both Soviet and Russian regimes has been that the defendants’ confessions are false. The investigative materials, all but a small fraction of which are still classified in Russia today, have been scoured for any evidence that would discredit the Trials and prove the defendants’ confessions were false. But no such evidence has been discovered. For this reason we can be reasonably confident that no such evidence exists. 

[…]

In the case of a few of the more prominent defendants, Zinoviev and Bukharin, there is good evidence that they were not threatened or badly treated.

Most people who disregard the confessions of the defendants at the Moscow Trials have never studied the transcripts of these trials. They dismiss them because they have been told that the defendants’ confessions were fabricated. In reality, there is no evidence that this is so. As we shall see, the evidence given in those confessions is in fact corroborated by the archival material which is the main subject of this study. And in any event the confessions of the Moscow Trials defendants must be accorded the same respect as the rest of the evidence, or as any evidence. It must be identified, collected, and studied.

[….]

Given the absence of any evidence that these confessions were false, and given the logical progression from more detail in the secret documents to the least detail in public ones, any objective student would conclude that we should consider these confessions genuine unless and until evidence to the contrary should be discovered. But the practice among most scholars of this period of Soviet history is to do precisely the opposite. Any evidence that tends to support the theory that Trotsky or any of those accused of espionage, sabotage, conspiracy to overthrow the government or treasonable contacts with foreign governments did in fact so conspire, is routinely dismissed. The evidence itself is not evaluated.

There is never any reason to “dismiss” – to refuse to consider – any evidence. All evidence needs to be evaluated on its own merits and in conjunction with the rest of the evidence available, as we have done here.

[….]

We predict that regardless of the evidence neither staunch anticommunists nor Trotskyists will ever accept that Trotsky did in fact collaborate with Germany and Japan. The “Cold War” paradigm of Soviet history during Stalin’s time depends upon theconstruction of Stalin as an evil man who was killing innocent people and destroying the communist movement. If Trotsky and, by implication, the oppositionists who worked with him were guilty of what they were charged with and to which most, though of course not Trotsky, confessed, then this “Cold War” paradigm of Soviet history is dismantled.”

  – Grover Furr, “Evidence of Leon Trotsky’s Collaboration with Germany and Japan” quotations taken from pages 9 – 149.

Diego Rivera’s Dirty Little Secret

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Diego Rivera’s dirty little secret: His murals are magnificent celebrations of socialism; his friendship with Trotsky and his marriage to Frida Kahlo are leftist legend, but new evidence shows that he betrayed his comrades to his enemies. Phil Davison reports

by Phil Davison

Thursday 25 November 1993

In 1932, Diego Rivera was commissioned to paint a mural for the RCA building in New Yorks Rockefeller complex. The sight of the Mexican artist at work pleased John D Rockefeller no end: this was to be a great public painting for New York and a great enhancement to the glory of Rockefeller. He was the happiest of millionaires until he noticed that among the many characters of this enormous and heroic vision was one Vladimir Ilich Lenin.

Rivera was asked to paint him out, but refused. The work was covered up and eventually destroyed. Rivera repainted it almost exactly in the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City, and called it Man at the Crossroads with Hope and High Vision to the Choosing of a New and Better Future.

Today, 36 years after his death, it is Diego Rivera who is a man at the crossroads. Two American academics researching for a book on Riveras friend Leon Trotsky have discovered that this artist-hero of the Mexican left worked for the United States as an informer.

He was thrown out of the Mexican Communist Party (not for the first time) when he objected violently to the 1939 Hitler-Stalin pact, and soon afterwards he started feeding information to the Americans: he supplied lists of Communist infiltrators high within the Mexican system and reported 60 political assassinations by officially-ordered death squads. He warned that Communist refugees from the Spanish Civil War had been trained by Moscow to set up cells on the Mexico-US border and infiltrate north. He told Washington that the Nazis and Soviets were jointly increasing their influence in Mexico and that the Mexican Communist Party was being financed largely by sympathisers north of the border. Only the fact that the Americans took much of Riveras information with a pinch of salt dissuades one from using the terms secret agent or spy.

The socialist content of Rivera’s work, as well as his friendship with Trotsky, mark him out if not as a revolutionary hero, then at least as a symbol of the left. His paintings, and notably the powerful murals he left in public buildings throughout the capital and the nation, ensured his reputation not only as a man of the people, but as Mexicos best-known artist. His name and works are presented by Institutional Revolutionary Party still in power after 64 years as an example of patriotic Mexican greatness.

The new and startlingly different picture of Diego Rivera is revealed in US State Department and FBI documents uncovered by Professor William Chase, of Pittsburgh University, Pennsylvania, and his assistant, Dana Reed, during their researches on Trotsky. The Mexican political and cultural establishment has been stunned by this weeks publication of the references by a journalist, Rossana Fuentes-Berain, in Mexico’s business daily El Financiero.

Diego Rivera’s was a political as well as an artists life. He was born at Guanajuato in central Mexico in 1886. During his twenties, while his country was engulfed in revolution, he was in Europe, mixing with Picasso and Chagall in Paris and studying Tintoretto and Michelangelo frescoes in Italy. He went home in 1921 and soon joined the Mexican Communist Party, but was expelled in 1928 after expressing sympathy for the views of Trotsky dumped by Stalin and shortly to flee Russia. In the same year Rivera married Frida Kahlo, who is now recognised as one of the finest women artists of the century.

When the exiled Trotsky was roaming Europe, unable to persuade many countries to let him in, Rivera used his contacts to get him into Mexico in 1937. It was Kahlo who went to meet the gaunt, goat-bearded figure as he disembarked from an oil tanker at Tampico. According to some accounts, they were later to have a brief but temptestuous affair.

Trotsky settled down with the Riveras in Kahlo’s home in the colonial village of Coyoacan, now a suburb of Mexico City the so-called Casa Azul (Blue House), now a museum. But after disagreements with the muralist, he moved to another house nearby in May 1939 a break that may have sparked Riveras decision to act as an American informant.

Trotsky escaped a first assassination attempt in his new home in May 1940, when a group of Mexican communists, including Rivera’s fellow painter and muralist David Siqueiros, staged a Chicago-style machine-gun attack on the house. Rivera himself was among the suspects, not least because he disappeared to California, with, as the Chase-Reed documents show, the secret assistance of the US State Department.

Three months later, on 20 August 1940, Rivera had a more solid alibi. He was in San Francisco when Frida, by then his ex-wife, called to say: They killed old Trotsky this morning. A Soviet agent had unceremoniously buried an ice pick in Trotsky’s skull while the exile read his mail.

After the first assassination attempt on Trotsky, Rivera had gone into hiding, saying later that he had feared for his own life. The documents obtained by Chase and Reed show that the US embassy in Mexico City secretly helped the painter, who by that time had the Hollywood actress Paulette Goddard in tow, to cross the border into Texas. There are reports from US diplomats in Mexico City to the State Department on secret conversations with Rivera, and FBI reports showing how FBI agents tailed the painter across the United States and tapped his phone.

Rivera’s FBI file number was 100-155423. One report, dated as far back as 18 October 1927, when Rivera was travelling in the US, shows that he had long been of interest: Agent then went through the train and found the man occupying Car number 8, Lower 7, was the only one that resembled a Latin. Agent obtained a seat in this car and later, when this man and other passengers left for the dining car, looked over his baggage, and found Subject’s name on one of the tags. It goes on to describe the subject as having a broad, Indian-type face,wearing a wide-brimmed stetson hat, dark grey suit, tan shoes and carrying a dark gray overcoat and yellow slicker. On arrival at Pennsylvania Station, New York, about 2pm, agent was met by special agent (blacked out) who took up the surveillance

All this material leaves no doubt that Rivera was passing information to the Americans. Whether or not that information was accurate and several diplomats pointed out the painter’s tendency towards exaggeration is another question. True or not, it was all music to the ears of the FBI chief, J Edgar Hoover. Perhaps because Rivera’s warnings of Nazi-Soviet collaboration in Mexico tallied with Hoover’s fears, the FBI tapped the artist’s phone in 1940 while he was in San Francisco to paint a mural. So far there has been no official reaction from the US or Mexican governments, nor from the painter’s grandson, the film maker Diego Lopez Rivera. Communist old-timers, however, were unsurprised. Some recall Rivera as paranoid and egotistical, pointing out that although he was ostensibly opposed to the Mexican government of the time, he eagerly accepted contracts to paint murals in public buildings, such as his magnificent historic masterpiece in the main gate of Mexico Citys Palacio Nacional.

The revelations about Rivera are surprising enough, but Chase and Reed are promising to shatter some much bigger illusions. Reed told the Independent the two academics had also uncovered some very damaging stuff about Trotsky. We’re still trying to get hold of some FBI stuff on him . . . in fact, I can tell you we have concrete information that Leon Trotsky, too, was an informant of the US government.

Source

Bruce Franklin’s Introduction to “The Essential Stalin”

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Please note the posting of this introduction to the book “The Essential Stalin” does not necessarily imply support of Franklin’s political line.

 — E.S.

I used to think of Joseph Stalin as a tyrant and butcher who jailed and killed millions, betrayed the Russian revolution, sold out liberation struggles around the world, and ended up a solitary madman, hated and feared by the people of the Soviet Union and the world. Even today I have trouble saying the name “Stalin” without feeling a bit sinister.

But, to about a billion people today, Stalin is the opposite of what we in the capitalist world have been programmed to believe. The people of China, Vietnam, Korea, and Albania consider Stalin one of the great heroes of modern history, a man who personally helped win their liberation.

This belief could be dismissed as the product of an equally effective brainwashing from the other side, except that the workers and peasants of the Soviet Union, who knew Stalin best, share this view. For almost two decades the Soviet rulers have systematically attempted to make the Soviet people accept the capitalist world’s view of Stalin, or at least to forget him. They expunged him from the history books, wiped out his memorials, and even removed his body from his tomb.

Yet, according to all accounts, the great majority of the Soviet people still revere the memory of Stalin, and bit by bit they have forced concessions. First it was granted that Stalin had been a great military leader and the main antifascist strategist of World War II. Then it was conceded that he had made important contributions to the material progress of the Soviet people. Now a recent Soviet film shows Stalin, several years before his death, as a calm, rational, wise leader.

But the rulers of the Soviet Union still try to keep the people actually from reading Stalin. When they took over, one of their first acts was to ban his writings. They stopped the publication of his collected works, of which thirteen volumes had already appeared, covering the period only through 1934. This has made it difficult throughout the world to obtain Stalin’s writings in the last two decades of his life. Recently the Hoover Institute of Stanford University, whose purpose, as stated by its founder, Herbert Hoover, is to demonstrate the evils of the doctrines of Karl Marx” completed the final volumes in Russian so that they would be available to Stanford’s team of émigré anti-Communists (In. preparing. this volume, I was able to use the Hoover collection of writings by and about Stalin only by risking jail, directly violating my banishment by court injunction from this Citadel of the Free World.)

The situation in the U.S. is not much different from that in the U.S.S.R. In fact the present volume represents the first time since 1955 that a major publishing house in either country has authorized the publication of Stalin’s works. U.S. capitalist publishers have printed only Stalin’s wartime diplomatic correspondence and occasional essays, usually much abridged, in anthologies. Meanwhile his enemies and critics are widely published. Since the early 1920s there have been basically two opposing lines claiming to represent Marxism-Leninism, one being Stalin’s and the other Trotsky’s. The works of Trotsky are readily available in many inexpensive editions. And hostile memoirs, such as those of Khrushchev and Svetlana Stalin, are actually serialized in popular magazines.

The suppression of Stalin’s writings spreads the notion that he did not write anything worth reading. Yet Stalin is clearly one of the three most important historical figures of our century, his thought and deeds still affecting our daily lives, considered by hundreds of millions today as one of the leading political theorists of any time, his very name a strongly emotional household word throughout the world. Anyone familiar with the development of Marxist-Leninist theory in the past half century knows that Stalin was not merely a man of action. Mao names him “the greatest genius of our time,” calls himself Stalin’s disciple, and argues that Stalin’ s theoretical works are still the core of world Communist revolutionary strategy.

Gaining access to Stalin’s works is not the hardest part of coming to terms with him. First we must recognize that there can be no “objective” or “neutral” appraisal of Stalin, any more than there can be of any major historical figure during the epochs of class struggle. From the point of view of some classes, George Washington was an arrogant scoundrel and traitor to his country, king, and God, a renegade who brought slaughter and chaos to a continent; Abraham Lincoln was responsible for the deaths of millions and the destruction of a civilized, cultured, harmonious society based on the biblically sanctioned relationship with the black descendants of Ham; Sitting Bull was a murderous savage who stood in the way of the progress of a superior civilization; Eldridge Cleaver, George and Jonathan Jackson, Ruchell Magee and Angela Davis are vicious murderers, while Harry Truman, Nelson Rockefeller, Mayor Daley, John F. Kennedy, and Richard Nixon are rational and patriotic men who use force only when necessary to protect the treasured values of the Free World.

Any historical figure must be evaluated from the interests of one class or another. Take J. Edgar Hoover, for example. Anti-Communists may disagree about his performance, but they start from the assumption that the better he did his job of preserving “law and order” as defined by our present rulers the better he was. We Communists, on the other hand, certainly would not think Hoover “better” if he had been more efficient in running the secret police and protecting capitalism. And so the opposite with Stalin, whose job was not to preserve capitalism but to destroy it, not to suppress communism but to advance it. The better he did his job, the worse he is likely to seem to all those who profit from this economic system and the more he will be appreciated by the victims of that system. The Stalin question is quite different for those who share his goals and for those, who oppose them. For the revolutionary people of the world it is literally a life and-death matter to have a scientific estimate of Stalin, because he was, after all, the principal leader of the world revolution for thirty crucial years.

I myself have seen Stalin from both sides. Deeply embedded in my consciousness and feelings was that Vision of Stalin as tyrant and butcher. This was part of my over-all view of communism as a slave system, an idea that I was taught in capitalist society. Communist society was not red but a dull-gray world. It was ruled by a secret clique of powerful men. Everybody else worked for these few and kept their mouths shut. Propaganda poured from all the media. The secret police were everywhere, tapping phones, following people on the street, making midnight raids. Anyone who spoke out would lose his job, get thrown in jail, or even get shot by the police. One of the main aims of the government was international aggression, starting wars to conquer other counties. When I began to discover that this entire vision point by point described my own society a number of questions arose in my mind.

For me, as for millions of others in the United States it was the Vietnamese who forced a change in perception. How could we fail to admire the Vietnamese people and to see Ho Chi Minh as one of the great heroes of our times? What stood out not about Ho was his vast love for the people and his dedication to serving them. (In 1965, before I became a Communist, I spoke at a rally soliciting blood for the Vietnamese victims of U.S. bombing. When I naively said that Ho was a nationalist above being a Communist and a human being above being a nationalist, I was pelted with garbage and, much to my surprise, called a “dirty Commie. But we were supposed to believe that Ho was a “tyrant and butcher.” Later, it dawned on me that Fidel Castro was also supposed to be a “tyrant and butcher” although earlier we had been portrayed as a freedom fighter against the Batista dictatorship. Still later, I began to study the Chinese revolution, and found in Mao’s theory and preaches the guide for my own thinking and action. But, again, we were Supposed to see Mao as a “tyrant and butcher” and also a “madman” the more I looked into it, the more I found that these “tyrants and butchers” – Ho, Fidel, and Mao – were all depicted servants of the people, inspired by a deep and self-sacrificing love for them. At some point, I began to wonder if perhaps even Stalin was not a “tyrant and butcher.”

With this thought came intense feelings that must resemble – what someone in a tribe experiences when violating a taboo. But if we want to understand the world we live in, we must face Stalin.

Joseph Stalin personifies a major aspect of three decades of twentieth-century history. If we seek answers to any of the crucial questions about the course of our century, at some point we find Stalin standing directly in our path. Is it possible for poor and working people to make a revolution and then wield political power? Can an undeveloped, backward nation whose people are illiterate, impoverished, diseased, starving, and lacking in all the skills and tools needed to develop their productive forces possibly achieve both material and cultural well-being? Can this be done under a condition of encirclement by hostile powers, greedy for conquest, far more advanced industrially and, militantly: and fanatical in their opposition to any people s revolutionary government? What price must be paid for the success of revolutionary development? Can national unity be achieved in a vast land inhabited by many peoples of diverse races, religions, culture, language, and levels of economic development?

Is it possible to attain international unity among the exploited and oppressed peoples of many different nations whose governments depend upon intense nationalism and the constant threat of war? Then, later, can the people of any modern highly industrialized society also have a high degree of freedom, or must the state be their enemy? Can any society flourish without some form of ruling elite?

These questions are all peculiarly modern, arising in the epoch of capitalism as it reaches its highest form, modern imperialism, and becoming critical in our own time, the era of global revolution. Each of these questions leads us inevitably to Stalin. In my opinion, it is not going too far to say that Stalin is the key figure of our era.

All the achievements and all the failures, all the strengths and all the weaknesses, of the Soviet revolution and indeed of the world revolution in the period 1922-53 are summed up in Stalin. This is not to say that he is personally responsible for all that was and was not accomplished, or that nobody else could have done what he did. We are not dealing with a “great man” theory of history. In fact, quite the opposite. If we are to understand Stalin at all, and evaluate him from the point of view of either of two major opposing classes, we must see him, like all historical figures, as a being created by his times and containing the contradictions of those times. .

Every idea of Stalin’s, as he would be the first to admit, came to him from his historical existence, which also fixed limits to the ideas available to him. He could study history in order to learn from the experience of the Paris Commune but he could not look into a crystal ball to benefit from the lessons of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. And the decisions he made also had fixed and determined limits on either side, as we shall see.

To appraise Stalin, the best way to begin is to compare the condition of the Soviet Union and the rest of the world at two times: when he came into leadership and when he died. Without such a comparison, it is impossible to measure what he may have contributed or taken away from human progress. If the condition of the Soviet people was much better when he died than when he took power, he cannot have made their lives worse. The worst that can be said is that they would have progressed more without him. The same is true for the world revolution. Was it set back during the decades of his leadership, or did it advance? Once we put the questions this way, the burden of proof falls on those who deny Stalin’s positive role as a revolutionary leader.

As World War I began, the Russian Empire consisted primarily of vast undeveloped lands inhabited by many different peoples speaking a variety of languages with a very low level of literacy, productivity, technology, and health. Feudal Social relations still prevailed throughout many of these lands. Czarist secret police, officially organized bands of military terrorists, and a vast bureaucracy were deployed to keep the hungry masses of workers and peasants in line.

The war brought these problems to a crisis. Millions went to their deaths wearing rags, with empty stomachs, often waiting for those in front of them to fall so they could have a rifle and a few rounds of ammunition. When the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917, the entire vast empire, including the great cities of Russia itself, was in chaos.

Before the new government could begin to govern, it was Immediately set upon by the landlords, capitalists, and generals of the old regime, with all the forces they could buy and muster, together with combined military forces of Britain, France, Japan, and Poland, and additional military contingents from the U.S. and other capitalist countries. A vicious civil war raged for three years, from Siberia through European Russia, from the White Sea to the Ukraine. At the end of the Civil War, in 1920, agricultural output was less than half that of the prewar poverty-stricken countryside. Even worse was the situation in industry.

Many mines and factories had been destroyed. Transport had been torn up. Stocks of raw materials and semi finished products had been exhausted. The output of large-scale industry was about one seventh of what it had been before the war. And the fighting against foreign military intervention had to go on for two more years. Japanese and U.S. troops still held a portion of Siberia, including the key port city of Vladivostok, which was not recaptured until 1922.

Lenin suffered his first stroke in 1922. From this point on, Stalin, who was the General Secretary of the Central Committee, began to emerge as the principal leader of the Party. Stalin’s policies were being implemented at least as early as 1924, the year of Lenin’s death, and by 1927 the various opposing factions had been defeated and expelled from the Party. It is the period of the early and mid-1920s that we must compare to 1953.

The Soviet Union of the early 1920s was a land of deprivation. Hunger was everywhere, and actual mass famines swept across much of the countryside. Industrial production was extremely low, and the technological Level of industry was so backward that there seemed little possibility of mechanizing agriculture. Serious rebellions in the armed forces were breaking out, most notably at the Kronstadt garrison in 1921.

By 1924 large-scale peasant revolts were erupting, particularly in Georgia. There was virtually no electricity outside the large cities. Agriculture was based on the peasant holdings and medium-sized farms seized by rural capitalists (the kulaks) who forced the peasants back into wage Labor and tenant fanning. Health care was almost non-existent in much of the country. The technical knowledge and skills needed to develop modern industry, agriculture, health, and education were concentrated in the hands of a few, mostly opposed to socialism while the vast majority of the population were illiterate and could hardly think about education while barely managing to subsist. The Soviet Union was isolated in a world controlled by powerful capitalist countries physically surrounding it, setting up economic blockades, and officially refusing to recognize its existence while outdoing each other in their pledges to wipe out this Red menace.

The counterrevolution was riding high throughout Europe Great Britain, and even in the U.S.A., where the Red threat was used as an excuse to smash labor unions. Fascism was emerging in several parts of the capitalist world, particularly in Japan and in Italy, where Mussolini took dictatorial power in 1924. Most of the world consisted of colonies and neo-colonies of the European powers.

When Stalin died in 1953, the Soviet Union was the second greatest industrial, scientific, and military power in the world and showed clear signs of moving to overtake the U.S. in all these areas. This was despite the devastating losses it suffered while defeating the fascist powers of Germany, Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria. The various peoples of the U.S.S.R. were unified. Starvation and illiteracy were unknown throughout the country. Agriculture was completely collectivized and extremely productive. Preventive health care was the finest in the world, and medical treatment of exceptionally high quality was available free to all citizens. Education at all levels was free. More books were published in the U.S.S.R. than in any other country. There was no unemployment.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, not only had the main fascist powers of 1922-45 been defeated, but the forces of revolution were on the rise everywhere. The Chinese Communist Party had just led one-fourth of the world’s population to victory over foreign imperialism and domestic feudalism and capitalism. Half of Korea was socialist, and the U.S.-British imperialist army, having rushed to intervene in the civil war under the banner of the United Nations  was on the defensive and hopelessly demoralized. In Vietnam, strong socialist power, which had already defeated Japanese Imperialism, was administering the final blows to the beaten army of the French empire. The monarchies and fascist military dictatorships of Eastern Europe had been destroyed by a combination of partisan forces, led by local Communists, and the Soviet Army; everywhere except for Greece there were now governments that supported the world revolution and at least claimed to be governments of the workers and peasants. The largest political party in both France and Italy was the Communist Party. The national liberation movement among the European colonies and neo-colonies was surging forward. Between 1946 and 1949 alone, at least nominal national independence was achieved by Burma, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Laos, Libya, Ceylon, Jordan, and the Philippines, countries comprising about one-third of the world’s population. The entire continent of Africa was stirring.

Everybody but the Trotskyites, and even some of them would have to admit that the situation for the Communist world revolution was incomparably advanced in 1953 over what it had been in the early or mid 1920s. Of course, that does not settle the Stalin question. We still have to ask whether Stalin contributed to this tremendous advance, or slowed it down or had negligible influence on it. And we must not duck the question as to whether Stalin’s theory and practice built such serious faults into revolutionary communism that its later failures, particularly in the Soviet Union, can be pinned on him.

So let us look through Stalin’s career focusing particularly on its most controversial aspects.

“Stalin” which means “steel-man,” was the code name for a Young Georgian revolutionary born as Joseph Visvarionovich Djugashvili in 1879 in the town of Gori. His class origins combine the main forces of the Russian revolution.

His father formerly a village cobbler of peasant background, became a’ worker in a shoe factory. His mother was the daughter of peasant serfs. So Stalin was no stranger to either workers or peasants, and being from Georgia, he had firsthand knowledge of how Czarist Russia oppressed the non-Russian peoples of its empire. .

While studying at the seminary for a career as a priest, he made his first contact with the Marxist underground at the age of fifteen, and at eighteen he formally joined the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party, which was to evolve into the Communist Party. Shortly after joining the party in 1898, he became convinced that Lenin was the main theoretical leader of the revolution, particularly when Lenin’s newspaper Iskra began to appear in 1900. After being thrown out of his seminary, Stalin concentrated on organizing workers in the area of Tiflis, capital of Georgia, and the Georgian industrial City of Batumi. After one of his many arrests by the Czarist secret police, he began to correspond with Lenin from exile.

Escaping from Siberian exile in 1904, Stalin returned to organizing workers in the cities of Georgia, where mass strikes were beginning to assume a decidedly political and revolutionary character. Here he began to become one of the main spokesmen for Lenin’s theory, as we see in the first two selections in this volume. In December 1904 he led a huge strike of the Baku workers, which helped precipitate the abortive Russian revolution of 1905. During the revolution and after it was suppressed, Stalin was one of the main Bolshevik underground and military organizers, and was frequently arrested by the secret police. At the Prague Conference of 1912, in which the Bolsheviks completed the split with the Mensheviks and established themselves as a separate party, Stalin was elected in absentia to the Central Committee, a position he was to maintain for over four decades. Then, on the eve of World War I, he published what may properly be considered his first major contribution to Marxist-Leninist theory, Marxism and the National Question.

Prior to World War I, the various social-democratic parties of Europe were loosely united in the Second International.

All pledged themselves to international proletarian solidarity. But when the war broke out, the theory Stalin had developed in Marxism and the National Question proved to be crucial and correct. As Stalin had foreseen, every party that had compromised with bourgeois nationalism ended up leading the workers of its nation to support their “own” bourgeois rulers by going out to kill and be killed by the workers of the other nations. Lenin, Stalin, and the other Bolsheviks took a quite different position. They put forward the slogan “Turn the imperialist war into a civil war.” Alone of all the parties of the Second International, they came out for actual armed revolution.

In February 1917 the workers, peasants and soldiers of Russia, in alliance with the liberal bourgeoisie, overthrew the czarist autocracy, which had bled the country dry and brought it to ruin in a war fought to extend the empire. The liberal bourgeoisie established a new government. The next few months led to a key moment in history. Most of the parties that claimed to be revolutionary now took the position that the Russian proletariat was too weak and backward to assume political power. They advocated that the proletariat should support the new bourgeois government and enter a long period of capitalist development until someday in the future when they could begin to think about socialism. This view even penetrated the Bolsheviks. So when Stalin was released from his prison exile in March and the Central Committee brought him back to help lead the work in St. Petersburg, he found a heavy internal struggle. He took Lenin’s position, and, being placed in charge of the Bolshevik newspaper Pravda, was able to put it forward vigorously to the masses. When the Central Committee finally decided, in October, to lead the workers and soldiers of St. Petersburg to seize the Winter Palace and establish a proletarian government, it was over the violent objections of many of the aristocratic intellectuals who, much to their own surprise and discomfort had found themselves in an actual revolutionary situation. Two of them, Zinoviev and Kamenev, even went so far as to inform the bourgeois newspapers that the Bolsheviks had a secret plan to seize power. After the virtually bloodless seizure by the workers and soldiers took place, a third member of the Central Committee, Rykov, joined Zinoviev and Kamenev in a secret deal made with the bourgeois parties whereby the Bolsheviks would resign from power, the press would be returned to the bourgeoisie, and Lenin would be permanently barred from holding public office. (All this is described in John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook the World, which was first published in 1919. I mention this because Zinoviev, Kamenev, and Rykov were three of the central figures of the purge trials of the 1930s, and it is they who have been portrayed as stanch Bolsheviks in such works as Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon.)

During the Civil War, which followed the seizure of power, Stalin began to emerge as an important military leader.

Trotsky was nominally the head of the Red Army. Behaving, as he always did, in the primacy of technique, Trotsky took as one of his main tasks winning over the high officers of the former czarist army and turning them into the general command of the revolutionary army. The result was defeat after defeat for the Red forces, either through outright betrayal by their aristocratic officers or because these officers tried to apply military theories appropriate to a conscript or mercenary army to the leadership of a people’s army made up of workers and peasants. Stalin, on the other hand, understood the military situation from the point of view of the workers and peasants, and with a knowledge of their capabilities and limitations.

In 1919 Stalin was sent as a special plenipotentiary to the key Volga city of Tsaritsyn. His mission was simply to assure the delivery of food supplies from this entire region. What he found was a disastrous military situation, with the city not only surrounded by the White Army but heavily infiltrated by counterrevolutionary forces. He saw that the food supply could not be safeguarded unless the military and political situations were dealt with. He instituted an uncompromising purge of counterrevolutionary elements within both the officer corps and the political infrastructure, took personal command of the military forces over the heads of both the local authorities and Trotsky, and then proceeded to save the city, the region, and the food supply. Trotsky, furious, demanded his recall. As for the citizens of Tsaritsyn, their opinion became known six years later, when they renamed their city Stalingrad.

After this episode, rather than being recalled, Stalin was dispatched far and wide to every major front in the Civil War. In each and every place, he was able to win the immediate respect of the revolutionary people and to lead the way to military victory, even in the most desperate circumstances.

Certain qualities emerged more and more clearly, acknowledged by both friends and enemies. These were his enormous practicality and efficiency, his worker peasant outlook, and the unswerving way he proceeded to the heart of every problem. By the end of the war, Stalin was widely recognized as a man who knew how to run things, a quality sorely lacking among most of the aristocratic intellectuals who then saw themselves as great proletarian leaders. In April 1922 he was made General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. It was in this position that Stalin was quickly to become the de facto leader of the Party and the nation.

Stalin’s career up to this point is relatively uncontroversial in comparison with everything that follows. But nothing at all about Stalin is beyond controversy. Most of his biographers in the capitalist world minimize his revolutionary activities prior to 1922. At least two influential biographies, Boris Souvarine’s Stalin (1939) and Edward Ellis Smith’s The Young Stalin (1967), even argue that during most of this period Stalin was actually an agent for the czarist secret police. Trotsky’s mammoth biography Stalin (1940) not only belittles Stalin’s revolutionary activities but actually sees his life and “moral stature” predetermined by his racially defined genetic composition; after discussing whether or not Stalin had “an admixture of Mongolian blood,” Trotsky decides that in any case he was one perfect type of the national character of southern countries such as Georgia, where, “in addition to the so-called Southern type, which is characterized by a combination of lazy shiftlessness and explosive irascibility, one meets cold natures, in whom phlegm is combined with stubbornness and slyness.” The most influential biographer of all, Trotsky’s disciple Isaac Deutscher, is a bit more subtle, blaming Stalin’s crude and vicious character not on his race but on his low social class:

The revolutionaries from the upper classes (such as Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Rakovsky, Radek, Lunacharsky, and Chicherin) came into the Socialist movement with inherited cultural traditions. They brought into the milieu of the revolution some of the values and qualities of their own milieu-not only knowledge, but also refinement of thought, speech, and manners. Indeed, their Socialist rebellion was itself the product of moral sensitiveness and intellectual refinement. These were precisely the qualities that life had not been kind enough to cultivate in Djugashvili [Stalin]. On the contrary, it had heaped enough physical and moral squalor in his path to blunt his sensitiveness and his taste. (Stalin, Political Biography, p. 26)

Although there are vastly different views of Stalin’s career up to this point, his activities are relatively less controversial, because they are relatively less important. Whatever Stalin’s contribution, there is still a good chance that even without him Lenin could have led the revolution and the Red forces would have won the Civil War. But, from this point on, there are at least two widely divergent, in fact wildly contradictory, versions of Stalin’s activities and their significance. Most readers of this book have heard only one side of this debate, the side of Trotsky and the capitalist world. I shall not pretend to make a “balanced presentation,” but instead give a summary of the unfamiliar other side of the argument.

Everyone, friend and foe alike, would agree that at the heart of the question of Stalin lies the theory and practice of “socialism in one country.” All of Stalin’s major ideological opponents in one way or another took issue with this theory.

Actually, the theory did not originate with Stalin but with Lenin. In 1915, in his article “On the Slogan for a United States of Europe,” Lenin argued that “the victory of socialism is possible first in several or even in one capitalist country alone.” He foresaw “a more or less prolonged and stubborn struggle” internationally that could begin like this in one country: “After expropriating the capitalists and organizing their own socialist production, the victorious proletariat of that country will arise against the rest of the world-the capitalist world-attracting to its cause the oppressed classes of other countries, stirring uprisings in those countries against the capitalists, and in case of need using even armed force against the exploiting classes and their states.”

Of course, at the end of World War I most Bolsheviks (and many capitalists) expected revolution to break out in many of the European capitalist countries. In fact, many of the returning soldiers did turn their guns around. A revolutionary government was established in Hungary and Slovakia.

Germany and Bulgaria for a while were covered by soviets of workers, peasants, and soldiers. But counterrevolution swept all these away.

Trotsky and his supporters continued to believe that the proletariat of Europe was ready to make socialist revolution.

They also believed that unless this happened, the proletariat would be unable to maintain power in the Soviet Union.

They belittled the role of the peasantry as an ally of the Russian proletariat and saw very little potential in the national liberation movements of the predominantly peasant countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Their so-called “Left opposition” put forward the theory, of “permanent revolution,” which pinned its hopes on an imminent uprising of the industrial proletariat of Europe. They saw the world revolution then spreading outward from these “civilized” countries to the “backward” regions of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Meanwhile there also developed what was later to be called the “Right opposition,” spearheaded by Bukharin, Zinoviev, and Kamenev. They were realistic enough to recognize that the revolutionary tide was definitely ebbing in Europe, but they concluded from this that the Soviet Union would have to be content to remain for a long time a basically agricultural country without pretending to be a proletarian socialist state.

Stalin was not about to give up on socialism in the Soviet Union simply because history was not turning out exactly the way theorists had wanted, with revolution winning out quickly in the most advanced capitalist countries. He saw that the Soviet revolution had indeed been able to maintain itself against very powerful enemies at home and abroad. Besides, the Soviet Union was a vast country whose rich natural resources gave it an enormous potential for industrial and social development. He stood for building socialism in this one country and turning it into an inspiration and base area for the oppressed classes and nations throughout the world. He believed that, helped by both the example and material support of a socialist Soviet Union, the tide of revolution would eventually begin rising again, and that, in turn, proletarian revolution in Europe and national liberation struggles in the rest of the world would eventually break the Soviet isolation.

There are two parts to the concept of socialism in one country. Emphasis is usually placed only on the part that says “one country.” Equally important is the idea that only socialism, and not communism, can be achieved prior to the time when the victory of the world revolution has been won. A communist society would have no classes, no money, no scarcity, and no state that is, no army, police force, prisons, and courts. There is no such society in the world, and no society claims to be Communist. A socialist society, according to Marxism-Leninism, is the transitional form on the road to communism. Classes and class struggle still exist, all the material needs of the people have not as yet been met, and there is indeed a state, a government of the working class known as the dictatorship of the proletariat (as opposed to the government of capitalist nations, the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie).

Neither Lenin nor Stalin ever had any illusion that any single country, even one as vast and potentially rich as the Soviet Union, would ever be able to establish a stateless, classless society while capitalism still had power in the rest of the world. But Stalin, like Lenin, did believe that the Soviet Union could eliminate capitalism, industrialize, extend the power of the working class, and wipe out real material privation all during the period of capitalist encirclement.

To do this, Stalin held, the proletariat would have to rely on the peasantry. He rejected Trotsky’s scorn for the Russian peasants and saw them, rather than the European proletariat, as the only ally that could come to the immediate aid of the Russian workers.

When the Civil War ended, in 1921, with most of the Soviet Union in chaotic ruin, Lenin won a struggle against Trotsky within the Party to institute what was called the New Economic Policy (NEP), under which a limited amount of private enterprise based on trade was allowed to develop in both the cities and the countryside. NEP was successful in averting an immediate total catastrophe, but by 1925 it was becoming clear that this policy was also creating problems for the development of socialism. This brings us to the first great crux of the Stalin question.

We have been led to believe that in order to industrialize at any price; Stalin pursued a ruthless policy of forced collectivization, deliberately murdering several million peasants known as kulaks during the process. The truth is quite different.

When the Bolsheviks seized power, one of their first acts was to allow the poor peasants to seize the huge landed estates. The slogan was “Land to the tiller.” This, however, left most land in the form of tiny holdings, unsuited for large-scale agriculture, particularly the production of the vital grain crops. Under NEP, capitalism and a new form of landlordism began to flourish in the countryside. The class known as kulaks (literally “tight-fists”), consisting of usurers and other small capitalists including village merchants and rich peasants, were cornering the market in the available grain, grabbing more and more small holdings of land, and, through their debt holdings, forcing peasants back into tenant farming and wage labor. Somehow, the small peasant holdings had to be consolidated so that modern agriculture could begin. There were basically two ways this could take place: either through capitalist accumulation, as the kulaks were then doing, or through the development of large-scale socialist farms. If the latter, there was then a further choice: a rapid forced collectivization, or a more gradual process in which co-operative farms would emerge first, followed by collectives, and both would be on a voluntary basis, winning out by example and persuasion. What did Stalin choose?

Here, in his own words, is the policy he advocated and that was adopted at the Fifteenth Party Congress, in 1927:

What is the way out? The way out is to turn the small and scattered peasant farms into large united farms based on cultivation of the land in common, to go over to collective cultivation of the land on the basis of a new and higher technique.

The way out is to unite the small and dwarf peasant farms gradually but surely, not by pressure, but by example and persuasion, into large farms based on common, cooperative, collective cultivation of the land with the use of agricultural machines and tractors and scientific methods of intensive agriculture.

There is no other way out.

To implement this policy, the capitalist privileges allowed under NEP were revoked. This was known as the restriction of the kulaks. The kulaks, whose very existence as a class was thus menaced, struck back. They organized terrorist bands who attacked the co-operatives and collectives, burning down barns when they were filled with grain, devastating the fields, and even murdering Communist peasant leaders.

Even more serious than these raids, the kulaks held back their own large supplies of grain from the market in an effort to create hunger and chaos in the cities. The poor and middle peasants struck back. Virtual open civil war began to rage throughout the countryside. As the collective farm movement spread rapidly, pressure mounted among the poor and middle peasants to put an end to landlordism and usury in the countryside for good. In 1929 Stalin agreed that the time had come to eliminate the kulaks as a class. He led the fight to repeal the laws that allowed the renting of land and the hiring of labor, thus depriving the kulaks both of land and of hired workers. The ban on expropriation of the large private holdings was lifted, and the peasants promptly expropriated the kulak class. The expropriation of the rural capitalists in the late 1920s was just as decisive as the expropriation of the urban capitalists a decade earlier. Landlords and village usurers were eliminated as completely as private factory owners. It is undoubtedly true that in many areas there was needless violence and suffering. But this did not originate with Stalin. It was the hour of Russia’s peasant masses, who had been degraded and brutalized for centuries and who had countless blood debts to settle with their oppressors. Stalin may have unleashed their fury, but he was not the one who had caused it to build up for centuries. In fact it was Stalin who checked the excesses generated by the enthusiasm of the collective movement. In early 1930 he published in Pravda “Dizzy with Success,” reiterating that “the voluntary principle” of the collective farm movement must under no circumstances be violated and that anybody who engages in forced collectivization objectively aids the enemies of socialism. Furthermore, he argues, the correct form for the present time is the co-operative (known as the artel) , in which “the household plots (small vegetable gardens, small orchards), the dwelling houses, a part of the dairy cattle, small livestock, poultry, etc., are not socialized.”

Again, overzealous attempts to push beyond this objectively aid the enemy. The movement must be based on the needs and desires of the masses of peasants.

Stalin’s decision about the kulaks perfectly exemplifies the limits under which he operated. He could decide, as he did, to end the kulaks as a class by allowing the poor and middle peasants’ to expropriate their land. Or he could decide to let the kulaks continue withholding their grain from the starving peasants and workers, with whatever result. He might have continued bribing the kulaks. But it is highly doubtful, to say the least, that he had the option of persuading the kulaks into becoming good socialists.

There can be no question that, whatever may be said about its cost, Stalin’s policy in the countryside resulted in a vast, modern agricultural system, capable, for the first time in history, of feeding all the peoples of the Soviet lands. Gone were the famines that seemed as inevitable and were as vicious as those of China before the revolution or of India today.

Meanwhile, Stalin’s policy of massive industrialization was going full speed ahead. His great plan for a modern, highly industrialized Soviet Union has been so overwhelmingly successful that we forget that it was adopted only over the bitter opposition of most of the Party leaders, who thought it a utopian and therefore suicidal dream. Having overcome this opposition on both the right and “left,” Stalin in 1929 instituted the first five-year plan in the history of the world.

It was quickly over fulfilled. By the early 1930s the Soviet Union had clearly become both the inspiration and the main material base area for the world revolution. And it was soon will prove much more than a match for the next military onslaught from the capitalist powers, which Stalin had predicted and armed against.

This brings us to the second great crux of the Stalin question, the “left” criticism, originating with Trotsky and then widely disseminated by the theorists of what used to be called “the New Left.” This criticism holds that Stalin was just a nationalist who sold out revolution throughout the rest of the world. The debate ranges over all the key events of twentieth-century history and can be only touched on in an essay.

Stalin’s difference with Trotsky on the peasantry was not confined to the role of the peasantry within the Soviet Union.

Trotsky saw very little potential in the national liberation movements in those parts of the world that were still basically peasant societies. He argued that revolution would come first to the advanced capitalist countries of Europe and North America and would then spread to the “uncivilized” areas of the world. Stalin, on the other hand saw that the national liberation movements of Asia, Africa, and Latin America were key to the development of the world revolution because objectively they were leading the fight against imperialism.

We see this argument developed clearly as early as 1924, In “The Foundations of Leninism,” where he argues that “the struggle that the Egyptian merchants and bourgeois intellectuals are waging for the independence of Egypt is objectively a revolutionary struggle, despite the bourgeois origin and bourgeois title of the leaders of the Egyptian national movement, despite the fact that they are opposed to socialism; whereas the struggle that the British ‘Labor’ movement is waging to preserve Egypt’s dependent position is for the same reasons a reactionary struggle, despite the proletarian origins and the proletarian title of the members of hat government, despite the fact that they are ‘for’ socialism. To most European Marxists, this was some kind of barbarian heresy. But Ho Chi Minh expressed the view of many Communists from the colonies in that same year, 1924, when he recognized that Stalin was the leader of the only Party that stood with the national liberation struggles and when he agreed with Stalin that the viewpoint of most other so-called Marxists on the national question was nothing short of “counterrevolutionary” (Ho Chi Minh Report on the National and Colonial Questions at the Fifth Congress of the Communist International).

The difference between Stalin’s line and Trotsky’s line and the falsification of what Stalin’s line was, can be seen most clearly on the question of the Chinese revolution. The typical “left” view prevalent today is represented in David Horowitz’s The Free World Colossus (1965), which asserts “Stalin’s continued blindness to the character and potential of the Chinese Revolution.” Using as his main source a Yugoslav biography of Tito, Horowitz blandly declares: “Even after the war, when it was clear to most observers that Chiang was finished, Stalin did not think much of the prospects of Chinese Communism” (p. Ill).

Mao’s opinion of Stalin is a little different:

Rallied around him, we constantly received advice from him, constantly drew ideological strength from his works…. It is common knowledge that Comrade Stalin ardently loved the Chinese people and considered that the forces of the Chinese revolution were immeasurable.

He displayed the greatest wisdom in matters pertaining to the Chinese revolution. . . . Sacredly preserving the memory of our great teacher Stalin, the Communist Party of China and the Chinese people . . . will even more perseveringly study Stalin’s teaching …. (“A Great Friendship,” 1953)

It is possible that this statement can be viewed as a formal tribute made shortly after Stalin’s death and before it was safe to criticize Stalin within the international Communist movement. But years later, after the Russian attack on Stalin and after it was unsafe not to spit on Stalin’s memory, the Chinese still consistently maintained their position. In 1961, after listening to Khrushchev’s rabid denunciations of Stalin at the Twenty-second Party Congress, Chou En-lai ostentatiously laid a wreath on Stalin’s tomb. Khrushchev and his supporters then disinterred Stalin’s body, but the Chinese responded to this in 1963 by saying that Khrushchev “can never succeed in removing the great image of Stalin from the minds of the Soviet people and of the people throughout the world.” (“On the Question of Stalin”)

In fact, as his 1927 essay on China included in this collection shows, Stalin very early outlined the basic theory of the Chinese revolution. Trotsky attacks this theory, which he sneers at as “guerrilla adventure,” because it is not based on the cities as the revolutionary centers, because it relies on class allies of the proletariat, particularly the peasantry, and because it is primarily anti-feudal and anti-imperialist rather than focused primarily against Chinese capitalism.

After 1927, when the first liberated base areas were established in the countryside, Trotsky claimed that this revolution could no longer be seen as proletarian but as a mere peasant rebellion, and soon he began to refer to its guiding theory as the Stalin-Mao line. To this day, Trotskyites around the world deride the Chinese revolution as a mere “Stalinist bureaucracy.” The Chinese themselves do acknowledge that at certain points Stalin gave some incorrect tactical advice, but they are quick to add that he always recognized and corrected these errors and was self-critical about them. They are very firm in their belief that they could not have made their revolution without his general theory, his over-all leadership of the world revolutionary movement, and the firm rear area and base of material support he provided. Thus the only really valid major criticism comes from anti-Communists, because without Stalin, at least according to the Chinese, the Communists would not have won.

Stalin’s role in the Spanish Civil War likewise comes under fire from the “left.” Again taking their cue from Trotsky and such professional anti-Communist ideologues as George Orwell, many “socialists” claim that Stalin sold out the Loyalists. A similar criticism is made about Stalin’s policies in relation to the Greek partisans in the late 1940s, which we will discuss later. According to these “left” criticisms, Stalin didn’t “care” about either of these struggles, because of his preoccupation with internal development and “Great Russian power.” The simple fact of the matter is that in both cases Stalin was the only national leader anyplace in the world to support the popular forces, and he did this in the face of stubborn opposition within his own camp and the dangers of military attack from the leading aggressive powers in the world (Germany and Italy in the late 1930s, the U.S. ten years later).

Because the U.S.S.R., following Stalin’s policies, had become a modem industrial nation by the mid-1930s, it was able to ship to the Spanish Loyalists Soviet tanks and planes that were every bit as advanced as the Nazi models. Because the U.S.S.R. was the leader of the world revolutionary forces, Communists from many nations were able to organize the International Brigades, which went to resist Mussolini’s fascist divisions and the crack Nazi forces, such as the Condor Legion, that were invading the Spanish Republic. The capitalist powers, alarmed by this international support for the Loyalists, planned joint action to stop it. In March 1937, warships of Germany, Italy, France, and Great Britain began jointly policing the Spanish coast. Acting on a British initiative, these same countries formed a bloc in late 1937 to isolate the Soviet Union by implementing a policy they called “non-intervention,” which Lloyd George, as leader of the British Opposition, labeled a clear policy of support for the fascists. Mussolini supported the British plan and called for a’ campaign “to drive Bolshevism from Europe.” Stalin’s own foreign ministry, which was still dominated by aristocrats masquerading as proletarian revolutionaries, sided with the capitalist powers. The New York Times of October 29, 1937, describes how the “unyielding” Stalin, representing “Russian stubbornness,” refused to go along: “A struggle has been going on all this week between Joseph Stalin and Foreign Commissar Maxim Litvinoff,” who wished to accept the British plan. Stalin stuck to his guns, and the Soviet Union refused to grant Franco international status as a combatant, insisting that it had every right in the world to continue aiding the duly elected government of Spain, which it did until the bitter end.

The Spanish Civil War was just one part of the world-wide imperialist aims of the Axis powers. Japan was pushing ahead in its conquest of Asia. Japanese forces overran Manchuria in 1931; only nine years after the Red Army had driven them out of Siberia, and then invaded China on a full-scale.

Ethiopia fell to Italy in 1936. A few months later, Germany and Japan signed an anti-Comintern pact, which was joined by Italy in 1937. In 1938, Germany invaded Austria. Hitler, who had come to power on a promise to rid Germany and the world of the Red menace, was now almost prepared to launch his decisive strike against the Soviet Union.

The other major capitalist powers surveyed the scene with mixed feelings. On one hand, they would have liked nothing better than to see the Communist threat ended once and for all, particularly with the dirty work being done by the fascist nations. On the other hand, they had to recognize that fascism was then the ideology of the have-not imperialists, upstarts whose global aims included a challenge to the hegemony of France, Britain, and the United States. Should they move now to check these expansionists’ aims or should they let them develop unchecked, hoping that they would move against the Soviet Union rather than Western Europe and the European colonies in Asia and Africa?

In 1938 they found the answer, a better course than either of these two alternatives. They would appease Hitler by giving him the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia. This would not only dissuade the Nazis from attacking their fellow capitalists to the west, but it would also remove the last physical barriers to the east, the mountains of the Czech Sudetenland. All logic indicated to them that they had thus gently but firmly turned the Nazis eastward, and even given them a little shove in that direction. Now all they had to do was to wait, and, after the fascist powers and the Soviet Union had devastated each other, they might even be able to pick up the pieces. So they hailed the Munich agreement of September 30, 1938, as the guarantee of “Peace in our time”-for them.

Stalin had offered to defend Czechoslovakia militarily against the Nazis if anyone of the European capitalist countries would unite with the Soviet Union in this effort. The British and the French had evaded what they considered this trap, refusing to allow the Soviet Union even to participate at Munich. They now stepped back and waited, self-satisfied, to watch the Reds destroyed. It seemed they didn’t have long to wait. Within a few months, Germany seized all of Czechoslovakia, giving some pieces of the fallen republic to its allies Poland and Hungary.

By mid-March 1939 the Nazis had occupied Bohemia and Moravia, the Hungarians had seized Carpatho-Ukraine, and Germany had formally annexed Memel. At the end of that month, Madrid fell and all of Spain surrendered to the fascists. On May 7, Germany and Italy announced a formal military and political alliance. The stage was set for the destruction of the Soviet Union.

Four days later, on May 11, 1939, the first attack came.

The crack Japanese army that had invaded Manchuria struck Into the Soviet Union. The Soviet-Japanese war of 1939 is conveniently omitted from our history books, but this war, together with the Anglo-French collaboration with the Nazis and fascists in the west, form the context for another of Stalin’s great “crimes,” the Soviet-German non-aggression pact of August 1939. Stalin recognized that the main aim of the Axis was to destroy the Soviet Union, and that the other capitalist nations were conniving with this scheme. He also knew that sooner or later the main Axis attack would come on the U.S.S.R.’s western front. Meanwhile, Soviet forces were being diverted to the east, to fend off the Japanese invaders. The non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany, which horrified and disillusioned Communist sympathizers, particularly intellectuals, in the capitalist nations, was actually one of the most brilliant strategic moves of Stalin’s life, and perhaps of diplomatic  history. From the Soviet point of view it accomplished five things:

(1) it brought needed time to prepare for the Nazi attack, which was thus delayed two years;


(2) it allowed the Red Army to concentrate on smashing the Japanese invasion, without having to fight on two fronts; they decisively defeated the Japanese within three months;


(3) it allowed the Soviet Union to retake the sections of White Russia and the Ukraine that had been invaded by Poland during the Russian Civil War and were presently occupied by the Polish military dictatorship; this meant that the forthcoming Nazi invasion would have to pass through a much larger area defended by the Red Army;


(4) it also allowed Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which also had been part of Russia before the Civil War, to become part of the U.S.S.R. as Soviet Republics; this meant that the forthcoming Nazi attack could not immediately outflank Leningrad;


(5) most important of all, it destroyed the Anglo-French strategy of encouraging a war between the Axis powers and the Soviet Union while they enjoyed neutrality; World War II was to begin as a war between the Axis powers and the other capitalist nations, and the Soviet Union, if forced into it, was not going to have to fight alone against the combined fascist powers. The worldwide defeat of the fascist Axis was in part a product of Stalin’s diplomatic strategy, as well as his later military strategy.

But before we get to that, we have to go back in time to the events for which Stalin has been most damned-the purge, trials. Most readers of this book have been taught that the major defendants in these trials were innocent, and that here we see most clearly Stalin’s vicious cruelty and paranoia.

This is certainly not the place to sift through all the evidence and retry the major defendants, but we must recognize that there is a directly contradictory view of the trials and that there is plenty of evidence to support that view.

It is almost undeniable that many of the best-known defendants had indeed organized clandestine groups whose aim was to overthrow the existing government. It is also a fact that Kirov, one of the leaders of that government, was murdered by a secret group on December 1, 1934. And it is almost beyond dispute that there were systematic, very widespread, and partly successful attempts, involving party officials, to sabotage the development of Soviet industry. Anyone who doubts this should read an article entitled “Red Wreckers in Russia” in the Saturday Evening Post, January 1, 1938, in which John Littlepage, an anti-Communist American engineer, describes in detail what he saw of this sabotage while he was working in the Soviet Union. In fact, Littlepage gives this judgment:

For ten years I have worked alongside some of the many recently shot, imprisoned or exiled in Russia as wreckers. Some of my friends have asked me whether or not I believe these men and women are guilty as charged. I have not hesitated a moment in replying that I believe most of them are guilty.

To those who hold the orthodox U.S. view of the purge trials, perhaps the most startling account is the book Mission to Moscow, by Joseph E. Davies, U. S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1936 to 1938. Davies is a vigorous defender of capitalism and a former head of the U. S. Chamber of Commerce. An experienced trial lawyer, he points out that, “I had myself prosecuted and defended men charged with crime in many cases.” He personally attended the purge trials on a regular basis. Most of his accounts and judgments are contained in official secret correspondence to the State Department; the sole purpose of these dispatches was to provide realistic an assessment as possible of what was actually going on. His summary judgment in his confidential report to the Secretary of State on March 17, 1938, is:

….. it is my opinion so far as the political defendants are concerned sufficient crimes under Soviet law, among those charged in the indictment, were established by the proof and beyond a reasonable doubt to justify the verdict of guilty of treason and the adjudication of the punishment provided by Soviet criminal statutes. The opinion of those diplomats who attended the trial most regularly was general that the case had established the fact that there was a formidable political opposition and an exceedingly serious plot, which explained to the diplomats man! of the hitherto unexplained developments of the last six months in the Soviet Union. The only difference of opinion that seemed to exist was the degree to which the plot had been implemented by different defendants and the degree to which the conspiracy had become centralized. (po 272 )

Davies himself admits to being puzzled and confused at the time because of the vast scope of the conspiracy and its concentration high into the Soviet government. It is only later, after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, in the summer of 1941, that Davies feels he understands what he actually occurred.

Thinking over these things, there came a flash in my mind of a possible new significance to some of the things that happened in Russia when I was there.

None of us in Russia in 1937 and 1938 were thinking in terms of “Fifth Column” activities. The phrase was not current. It is comparatively recent that we have found in our language phrases descriptive of Nazi technique such as “Fifth Column” and “internal aggression.”…

As I ruminated over this situation, I suddenly saw the picture as I should have seen it at the time. The story had been told in the so-called treason or purge trials of 1937 and 1938 which I had attended and listened to. In reexamining the record of these cases and also what I had written at the time from this new angle, I found that practically every device of German Fifth Columnist activity, as we now know it, was disclosed and laid bare by the confessions and testimony elicited at these trials of self-confessed “Quislings” in Russia.

It was clear that the Soviet government believed that these activities existed, was thoroughly alarmed, and had proceeded to crush them vigorously. By 1941, when the German invasion came, they had wiped out any Fifth Column which had been organized.

All of these trials, purges, and liquidations, which seemed so violent at the time and shocked the world, are now quite clearly a part of a vigorous and determined effort of the Stalin government to protect itself from not only revolution from within but from attack from without. They went to work thoroughly to clean up and clean out all treasonable elements within the country. All doubts were resolved in favor of the government. (p. 280)

In 1956, at the Twentieth Party Congress, when Khrushchev launched his famous attack on Stalin, he dredged up all the denunciations of the purge trials circulated for two decades by the Trotskyite and capitalist press. He called Stalin a “murderer,” a “criminal,” a “bandit,” a “despot,” etc.

He asserted the innocence of many who had been imprisoned, exiled, or shot during the purge trials. But in doing so, he conveniently forgot two things: what he had said at the time about those trials, and what Stalin had said. On June 6, 1937, to the Fifth Party Conference of Moscow Province, Khrushchev had declared:

Our Party will mercilessly crush the band of traitors and betrayers, and wipe out all the Trotskyist-Right dregs. . . .We shall totally annihilate the enemies-to the last man and scatter their ashes to the winds.

On June 8, 1938, at the Fourth Party Conference of Kiev province, Khrushchev avowed:

We have annihilated a considerable number of enemies, but still not all. Therefore, it is necessary to keep our eyes open. We should bear firmly in mind the words of Comrade Stalin, that as long as capitalist encirclement exists, spies and saboteurs will be smuggled into our country.

Earlier, at a mass rally in Moscow, in January 1937, Khrushchev had condemned all those who had attacked Stalin in these words: “In lifting their hand against Comrade Stalin, They lifted it against all of us, against the working class and the working people”

As for Stalin himself, on the other hand, he had publicly admitted, not in 1956, but at least as early as 1939, that innocent people had been convicted and punished in the purge:

It cannot be said that the purge was not accompanied by grave mistakes. There were unfortunately more mistakes than might have been expected.” (Report to the Eighteenth Congress.)

That is one reason why many of those tried and convicted in the last trials were high officials from the secret police, the very people guilty of forcing false confessions.

There are certainly good grounds for criticizing both the conduct and the extent of the purge. But that criticism must begin by facing the facts that an anti-Soviet conspiracy did exist within the Party, that it had some ties with the Nazis, who were indeed preparing to invade the country, and that one result of the purge was that the ‘Soviet Union was the only country in all of Europe that, when invaded by the Nazis, did not have an active Fifth Column. It must also recognize that capitalism has since been restored in the Soviet Union, on the initiative of leading members of the Party bureaucracy, and so it is hardly fantastical or merely paranoid to think that such a thing was possible. The key question about the purges is whether there was a better way to prevent either a Nazi victory or the restoration of capitalism. And the answer to that question probably lies in the Chinese Cultural Revolution of 1966-67. Instead of relying on courts and police exiles and executions, the Chinese mobilized hundreds of ‘millions of people to exposé and defeat the emerging Party bureaucracy that was quietly restoring capitalism and actively collaborating with the great imperialist power to the north. But while doing this, they carefully studied Stalin, both for his achievements and for what he was unable to do. For Stalin himself had seen as early as 1928 the need to mobilize mass criticism from below to overcome the rapidly developing Soviet bureaucracy. It is also possible that the two goals the purges tuned to meet were mutually exclusive. That is, the emergency measures necessary to secure the country against foreign invasion may actually have helped the bureaucracy to consolidate its power.

In any event, when the Nazis and their allies did invade they met the most united and fierce resistance encountered by the fascist forces anyplace in the world. Everywhere the people were dedicated to socialism. Even in the Ukraine where the Nazis tried to foment old grievances and anti-Russian nationalism, they never dared meddle with the collective farms. In fact, Stalin’s military strategy in World War II like his strategy during the Russian Civil War was based firmly on the loyalty of the masses of workers, peasants, and soldiers.

Everybody, except for Khrushchev and his friends, who in 1956 tried to paint Stalin as a military incompetent and meddler, recognizes him as a great strategist. ‘

Nazi military strategy was based on the blitzkrieg (lightning war). Spearheaded by highly mobile armor, their way paved by massive air assaults, the Nazi army would break through any static line at a single point, and then spread out rapidly behind that line, cutting off its supplies and then encircling the troops at the front. On April 9, 1940, the Nazis, vastly outnumbered, opened their assault on the combined forces of Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and Great Britain. By June 4, virtually the last of these fighting forces had been evacuated in panic from Dunkirk and each of the continental countries lay under a fascist power, the victim of blitzkrieg combined with internal betrayal. Having secured his entire western front, and then with air power alone having put the great maritime power Britain into a purely defensive position, Hitler could now move his crack armies and his entire air force into position to annihilate the Soviet Union.

The first step was to consolidate Axis control in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania were already fascist allies. Italy had overrun Albania. By early April 1941 Greece and Yugoslavia were occupied. Crete was seized in May. On June 22, the greatest invasion of all time was hurled at the Soviet heartland.

One hundred seventy-nine German divisions, twenty-two Romanian divisions, fourteen Finnish divisions, thirteen Hungarian divisions, ten Italian divisions, one Slovak division, and one Spanish division, a total of well over three million troops, the best armed and most experienced in the world, attacked along a 2,000-mile front, aiming their spearheads directly at Leningrad, Moscow, and Stalingrad. Instead of holding a line, the Red Army beat an orderly retreat, giving up space for time. Behind them they left nothing but scorched earth and bands of guerrilla fighters, constantly harassing the lengthening fascist supply lines. Before the invaders reached industrial centers such as Kharkov and Smolensk, the workers of these cities disassembled their machines and carried them beyond the Ural Mountains, where production of advanced Soviet tanks, planes, and artillery was to continue throughout the war.

The main blow was aimed directly at the capital, Moscow, whose outskirts were reached by late fall. Almost all the government offices had been evacuated to the east. But Stalin remained in the capital, where he assumed personal command of the war. On December 2, 1941, the Nazis were stopped in the suburbs of Moscow. On December 6, Stalin ordered the first major counterattack to occur in World War II. The following day, Japan, which had wisely decided against renewing their invasion of the Soviet Union, attacked Pearl Harbor.

From December until May the Red Army moved forward, using a strategy devised by Stalin. Instead of confronting the elite Nazi corps head on, the Red forces would divide into smaller units and then move to cut off the fascist supply lines, thus encircling and capturing the spearheads of the blitzkrieg.

This was the ideal counterstrategy, but it depended on a high level of political loyalty, consciousness, and independence on the part of these small units. No capitalist army could implement this strategy. By the end of May 1942 Moscow was safe and the fascist forces had given ground in the Ukraine.

In the early summer, the Nazi forces, heavily reinforced, moved to seize Stalingrad and the Caucasus, thus cutting the Soviet Union in two. The greatest and perhaps the most decisive battle in history was now to take place. The siege of Stalingrad lasted from August 1942 until February 1943. As early as September, the Nazi forces, which were almost as large as the entire U.S. force at its peak in Vietnam, penetrated the city and were stopped only by house-to-house fighting.

But unknown to the Germans, because Soviet security was perfect, they were actually in a vast trap, personally designed by Stalin: A gigantic pincers movement had begun as soon as the fascist forces reached the city. In late November the two Soviet forces met and the trap snapped shut. From this trap 330,000 elite Nazi troops were never to emerge. In February 1943 the remnants, about 100,000 troops, surrendered.

The back of Nazi military power had been broken. The Red Army now moved onto a vast offensive which was not to stop before it had liberated all of Eastern and Central Europe and seized Berlin, the capital of the Nazi empire, in the spring of 1945.

It was the Soviet Union that had beaten the fascist army. The second front, which Great Britain and the U.S. had promised as early as 1942, was not to materialize until June 14, after it was clear that the Nazis had already been decisively defeated. In fact, the Anglo-American invasion was aimed more at stopping communism than defeating fascism. (This invasion took place during the same period that the British Army “liberated” Greece, which had already been liberated by the Communist-led Resistance.) For under Communist leadership, underground resistance movements, based primarily on the working class, had developed throughout Europe. Because the Communists, both from the Soviet Union and within the other European nations, were the leaders of the entire anti-fascist struggle, by the end of the war they had by far the largest parties in all the nations of Eastern and Central Europe, as well as Italy and France, where the fascists’ power had been broken more by internal resistance than by the much-heralded Allied invasion. In fact, it is likely that if the Anglo-American forces had not invaded and occupied Italy and France, within a relatively short time the Communists would have been in power in both countries.

As soon as victory in Germany was assured, in May 1945, much of the Soviet Army began to make the 5,000-mile journey to face the Japanese Army. At Potsdam, July 17 to August 2, Stalin formally agreed to begin combat operations against Japan by August 8. On August 6, the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan, in what is now widely considered the opening shot of the so-called “Cold War” against the U.S.S.R. On August 8, the Red Army engaged the main Japanese force, which was occupying Manchuria. The Soviet Army swept forward, capturing Manchuria, the southern half of Sakhalin Island, and the Kuriles, and liberating, by agreement, the northern half of Korea. Except for the Chinese Communist battles with the Japanese, these Soviet victories were probably the largest land engagements in the entire war against Japan.

The Soviet Union had also suffered tremendously while taking the brunt of the fascist onslaught. Between twenty and twenty-five million Soviet citizens gave their lives in defense of their country and socialism. The industrial heartland lay in ruins. The richest agricultural regions had been devastated.

In addition to the seizure of many cities and the destruction of much of Moscow and Stalingrad, there was the desperate condition of Leningrad, which had withstood a massive, two-year Nazi siege.

Once again, the Soviet Union was to perform economic miracles. Between 1945 and 1950 they were to rebuild not only everything destroyed in the war, but vast new industries and agricultural resources. And all this was conducted under the threat of a new attack by the capitalist powers, led by the nuclear blackmail of the U.S., which opened up a worldwide “Cold War” against communism.

Spearheaded by British and rearmed Japanese troops, the French restored their empire in Indochina. U.S. troops occupied the southern half of Korea and established military bases throughout the Pacific. Europe itself became a vast base area for the rapidly expanding U.S. empire, which, despite its very minimal role in the war (or perhaps because of it), was to gain the greatest profit from it. One European showdown against the popular forces occurred in Greece.

Here we meet another “left” criticism of Stalin, similar to that made about his role in Spain but even further removed from the facts of the matter. As in the rest of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, the Communists had led and armed the heroic Greek underground and partisan fighters. In 1944 the British sent an expeditionary force commanded by General Scobie to land in Greece, ostensibly to aid in the disarming of the defeated Nazi and Italian troops. As unsuspecting as the comrades in Vietnam and Korea who were to be likewise ‘assisted’, the Greek partisans were slaughtered by their British allies who used tanks and planes in an all-out offensive, which ended in February 1945 with the establishment of a right-wing dictatorship under a restored monarchy. The British even rearmed and used the defeated Nazi “Security Battalions.” After partially recovering from this treachery, the partisan forces rebuilt then guerrilla apparatus and prepared to resist the combined forces of Greek fascism and Anglo-American imperialism. By late 1948 full-scale civil war raged, with the right-wing forces backed up by the intervention of U.S. planes, artillery, and troops. The Greek resistance had its back broken by another betrayal not at all by Stalin but by Tito, who closed the Yugoslav borders to the Soviet military supplies that were already hard put to reach the landlocked popular forces. This was one of the two main reasons why Stalin, together with the Chinese, led the successful fight to have the Yugoslav “Communist” Party officially thrown out of the international Communist movement.

Stalin understood very early the danger to the world revolution posed by Tito’s ideology, which served as a Trojan horse for U.S. Imperialism. He also saw that Tito’s revisionist ideas, including the development of a new bureaucratic ruling elite, were making serious headway inside the Soviet Union. In 1950, the miraculous postwar reconstruction was virtually complete, and the victorious Chinese revolution had decisively broken through the global anti-Communist encirclement and suppression campaign. At this point Stalin began to turn his attention to the most serious threat to the world revolution, the bureaucratic-technocratic class that had not only emerged inside the Soviet Union but had begun to pose a serious challenge to the leadership of the working class. In the last few years of his life, Joseph Stalin, whom the present rulers of the U.S.S.R. would like to paint as a mad recluse, began to open up a vigorous cultural offensive against the power of this new elite. “Marxism and Linguistics” and “Economic Problems of Socialism in the U.S.S.R.” are milestones in this offensive, major theoretical works aimed at the new bourgeois authorities beginning to dominate various areas of Soviet thought.

In “Economic Problems of Socialism in the U.S.S.R.,” published a few months before his death and intended to serve as a basis for discussion in the Nineteenth Party Congress of 1952, Stalin seeks to measure scientifically how far the Soviet Union had come in the development of socialism and how far it had to go to achieve communism. He criticizes two extreme tendencies in Soviet political economy: mechanical determinism and voluntarism. He sets this criticism within an international context where, he explains, the sharpening of contradictions among the capitalist nations is inevitable.

Stalin points out that those who think that objective laws, whether of socialist or capitalist political economy, can be abolished by will are dreamers. But he reserves his real scorn for those who make the opposite error, the technocrats who assert that socialism is merely a mechanical achievement of a certain level of technology and productivity, forgetting both the needs and the power of the people. He shows that when these technocrats cause “the disappearance of man as the aim of socialist production,” they arrive at the triumph of bourgeois ideology. These proved to be prophetic words.

In his final public speech, made to that Nineteenth Party Congress in 1952, Stalin explains a correct revolutionary line for the parties that have not yet led their revolutions. The victories of the world revolution have constricted the capitalist world, causing the decay of the imperialist powers. Therefore the bourgeoisie of the Western democracies inherit the banners of the defeated fascist powers, with whom they establish a world-wide alliance while turning to fascism at home and the would-be bourgeoisie of the neocolonial nations become merely their puppets. Communists then become the main defenders of the freedoms and progressive principles established by the bourgeoisie when they were a revolutionary class and defended by them until the era of their decay. Communists will lead the majority of people in their respective nations only when they raise and defend the very banners thrown overboard by the bourgeoisie-national independence and democratic freedoms. It is no Surprise that these final words of Stalin have been known only to the Cold War “experts” and have been expunged throughout the Soviet Union and the nations of Eastern Europe.

A few months after this speech, Stalin died. Very abruptly, the tide of revolution was temporarily reversed. Stalin’s death came in early March 1953. By that July, the new leaders of the Soviet Union forced the Korean people to accept a division of their nation and a permanent occupation of the southern half by US forces. A year later, they forced the victorious Viet Minh liberation army, which had thoroughly defeated the French despite massive U.S. aid, to withdraw from the entire southern half of that country, while the U.S. proclaimed that its faithful puppet, Ngo Dinh Diem, was now president of the fictitious nation of South Vietnam. When the Chinese resisted their global sellouts of the revolution, these new Soviet leaders first tried to destroy the Chinese economy, then tried to overthrow the government from within and when that failed, actually began aimed incursions by Russian troops under a policy of nuclear blackmail copied from the U.S. In Indonesia, the Soviet Union poured ammunition and spare parts into the right-wing military forces while they were massacring half a million Communists, workers, and peasants.

And so on, around the world. Meanwhile, internally, they restored capitalism as rapidly as they could. By the mid-1960s, unemployment had appeared in the Soviet Union for the first time since the first Five Year Plan. By the end of the 1960s, deals had been made with German, Italian, and Japanese capitalism for the exploitation of Soviet labor and vast Soviet resources.

From an anti-Communist point of view, Stalin was certainly one of the great villains of history. While he lived, the Red forces consolidated their power in one country and then led what seemed to be an irresistible world-wide revolutionary upsurge. By the time he died, near hysteria reigned in the citadels of capitalism. In Washington, frenzied witch hunts tried to ferret out the Red menace that was supposedly about to seize control of the last great bastion of capitalism. All this changed, for the time being, after Stalin’s death, when the counterrevolutionary forces were able to seize control even within the Soviet Union.

From a Communist point of view, Stalin was certainly one of the greatest of revolutionary leaders. But still we must ask why it was that the Soviet Union could fall so quickly to a new capitalist class. For Communists, it is as vital to understand Stalin’s weaknesses and errors as it is to understand his historic achievements.

Stalin’s main theoretical and practical error lay in underestimating the bourgeois forces within the superstructure of Soviet society. It is ridiculous to pose the problem the way we customarily hear it posed: that the seeds of capitalist restoration were sown under Stalin. This assumes that the Soviet garden was a Communist paradise, totally free of weeds, which then somehow dropped in from the skies. Socialism, as Stalin saw more keenly than anybody before, is merely a transitional stage on the way to communism. It begins with the conquest of political power by the working class, but that is only a bare beginning. Next comes the much more difficult task of establishing socialist economic forms, including a high level of productivity based on collective labor. Most difficult of all is the cultural revolution, in which socialist ideas and attitudes, based on collective labor and the political power of the working people, overthrow the bourgeois world view, based on competition, ambition, and the quest for personal profit and power and portraying “human nature” as corrupt, vicious, and selfish, that is, as the mirror image of bourgeois man.

Stalin succeeded brilliantly in carrying through the political and economic revolutions. That he failed in consolidating the Cultural Revolution under the existing internal and external conditions can hardly be blamed entirely on him. He certainly saw the need for it, particularly when the time seemed most ripe to make it a primary goal, in the 1950s. But it must be admitted that he underestimated the threat posed by the new intelligentsia, as we see most strikingly in the “Report to the Eighteenth Party Congress,” where he unstintingly praises them and denies that they could constitute a new social class.

This error in theory led to an error in practice in which, despite his earlier calls for organizing mass criticism from below, he tended to rely on one section of the bureaucracy to check or defeat another. He was unwilling to unleash a real mass movement like the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and, as a result, the masses were made increasingly less capable of carrying out such a gigantic task. All this is easy to say in hindsight, now that we have the advantage of having witnessed the Chinese success, which may prove to be the most important single event in human history. But who would have had the audacity to recommend such a course in the face of the Nazi threat of the late 1930s or the U.S. threat after World War II, when the Soviet Union lay in ruins? In 1967, when the Chinese Cultural Revolution was at its height and the country was apparently in chaos, many revolutionaries around the world were dismayed. Certainly, they acknowledged, China had to have a cultural revolution. But not at that moment, when the Vietnamese absolutely needed that firm rear base area and when U.S. imperialism was apparently looking for any opening to smash China. And so it must have looked to Stalin, who postponed the Soviet Cultural Revolution until it was too late.

It is true that socialism in the Soviet Union has been reversed. But Stalin must be held primarily responsible not for its failure to achieve communism but rather for its getting as far along the road as it did. It went much further than the “left” and the right Opposition, the capitalists, and almost everybody in the world thought possible. It went far enough to pass the baton to a fresher runner, the workers and peasants of China, who, studying and emulating Stalin, have already gone even further, as we are beginning to see.

Anasintaxi KKE (1918-55) – Socialism – class struggle in the Soviet Union (1936-1953). The revolutionary trials of the 1930’s as the continuation and escalation of the class struggle

Stalin_as_an_Organizer_of_the_October_Revolution

The revolutionary changes that took place in the economy of the Soviet Union during the first two decades led, in the mid ‘30s, to the building of the economic foundation of socialism and the elimination of all exploiting classes; these changes were expressed in the new country’s Constitution (1936).

Analyzing the economic, social, class situation in that stage of Soviet Union’s development, Stalin points out the following in relation to the class structure: “The landlord class, as you know, had already been eliminated as a result of the victorious conclusion of the Civil War. As for the other exploiting classes, they have shared the fate of the landlord class. The capitalist class in the sphere of industry has ceased to exist. The kulak class in the sphere of agriculture has ceased to exist. And the merchants and profiteers in the sphere of trade have ceased to exist. Thus all the exploiting classes have now been eliminated.

There remains the working class.

There remains the peasant class.

There remains the intelligentsia.” (I. V. Stalin, “On the Draft Constitution of USSR” contained in “Problems of Leninism”, 1936)

However, besides the remnants of the exploiting classes that still exist, new bourgeois elements emerge inevitably due to the transitional nature of socialism – which is not yet a full grown classless society – and the degeneration of former revolutionaries in the course of the construction of socialism-communism.

The experience drawn from the construction of socialism showed that during the whole course of revolutionary transformations in the economic field – facilitated by the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, constantly strengthened under the leadership of the Bolshevik party – from 1917 up to the mid 1930’s the economy of the Soviet Union progressed towards socialism-communism in the midst of tremendous and unseen difficulties and theintensification of the class struggle. The reason why the class struggle became more intense lies in the desperate resistance put up by the exploiting classes still present from the first until the beginning of the second decade and, afterwards, by their remains together with the degenerated bourgeois elements that gained political representation in the ranks of the Bolshevik party: Bukharin, Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev et al). Unless the building of socialism stopped, these elements had to be politically and ideologically crushed. Moreover, they had to be totally eliminated when they proceeded to form terrorist organizations with a view to assassinate party and state leaders, when they became agents and spies of imperialism and, first of all, the Nazi Germany. The assassinations of S. M. Kirov, B. P. Mrezhinsky, V. Kuibyshev, A. M. Gorky are well known. (Report of Court proceedings in the case of the Anti-Soviet “Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites””). “TheTrotskyite-Zinovievite terrorist centre, after it had killed Comrade Kirov, did not confine itself to organizing the assassination of Comrade Stalin alone. The terrorist Trotskyite-Zinovievite centre simultaneously carried on work to organize assassinations of other leaders of the Party, namely, Comrades Voroshilov, Zhdanov, Kaganovich, Kossior, Orjonikidze and Postyshev” (“Prozessbericht ueber die Strafsache des Trotzkistisch-Sinowjewistischen Terroristischen Zentrums, p. 181, Moskau 1936).

In a decade so critical for the Soviet Union as the 1930’s, the severe crisis in the capitalist world not only deepened the contradictions between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat compelling the former to resort to fascism in order to check the revolutionary struggle of the latter; it also deepened the competition among the imperialist powers for new markets and spheres of influence a fact that would inevitably lead to a new imperialist war. But “every time the capitalist contradictions start deepening, bourgeoisie turns her attention to the USSR. Perhaps this or that contradiction of capitalism can be resolved or all of them together at the expense of USSR, the land of the Soviets, the acropolis of revolution whose mere existence revolutionize the working class and the colonies and is an obstacle to re-division of the world” (Stalin)

In imperialist Germany the monopolies help Hitler’s Nazi gang to rise to power and subsequently, the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo axis is formed on the basis of a tripartite military agreement.

Knowing that the ensuing war was going to be against her, Soviet Union had not only to take advantage of the intra-imperialist competition but, also, to reinforce her defense. This task included the purging the country’s rear of all the terrorist counter-revolutionary groups that had gone too far with their counter-revolutionary action and degenerated into agents and spies of the imperialist and fascist states with the sole aim to undermine Soviet Union’s defense, organizing sabotage, plots, espionage and assassinations. This situation posed a serious danger for the country, especially on the eve of the Second World War, and intensified the internal class struggle. It was in these circumstances, that the revolutionary Moscow Trials against the Bukharinists, Trotskyites and other traitors, agents took place. On the pretext of the revolutionary trials, the world reaction, the Trotskyites, the social-democrats and the various opportunists launched a gigantic campaign of slander against the Soviet Union.

Now, some comments on the trials.

As it is known, the court proceedings of the Moscow Trials – that were trials in open court and not held “in camera” – have been published in three volumes by the People’s Commissariat of Justice of USSR: the first trial (19-24 August 1936): “Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Centre”, Moscow 1936, the second trial (23-30 January 1937): ”Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Centre”, Moscow 1937 and the third trial (2-13 March 1938) “Report of Court proceedings in the case of the Anti-Soviet “Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites””

1. Trials of views or of criminal actions? The claim made by various well informed reactionaries that the Moscow Trials were“trials of views” of the defendants, i.e. trials that aim to suppress their political views, is utterly groundless and false; it has an obvious albeit undisclosed objective: to defame and slander the socialism of that period presenting it as “anti-democratic”, and “oppressive”.

The above claim not only is absolutely groundless but it bears no relation whatsoever with the historical truth and this can be easily seen in the verbatim report of the court proceedings which clearly refer to the defendants’ actions and to their ideas. Moreover, and most importantly, it is refuted altogether by the actual conditions prevailing in the Soviet Union at that time: all the books written by the accused former cadres, notwithstanding the false and anti-Marxist views they contained, had been published in the Soviet Union and, many of them, even abroad in various languages by publishers well disposed towards the communist movement. In this respect, the books of the prolific Nikolai Bukharin had a special place. At this point we mention only one which is probably known to many people since its anti-Marxist views were subjected to criticism by Stalin (I. V. Stalin, “The Right Deviation in the CPSU(B)”, 1929, v. 12). We are taking about N. Bukharin’s book “The path to socialism” that was published almost simultaneously in Soviet Union and in Austria (N. Bucharin: “Der Weg zum Sozialismus”, Verlag fur Literatur und Politik, Wien 1925). Bucharin himself in the preface of the German edition confirms the publication of this brochure in other languages: “these reflections justify, I think, the publication of this brochure in other languages” (N. Bukharin: “Der Weg zum Sozialismus”, p.6) All this is familiar to everyone who has even the most elementary knowledge of the foreign literature and the history of the international communist movement

All this is more than enough to rebut the crudest of lies circulated by the reactionaries and the various counter-revolutionaries (the Trotskyites, the old social-democrats and Khrushchevian revisionists) as well as the slanderous fabrications of Trotsky himself.

2. “In camera” or open court trials? When the spokesmen of the reaction, the social-democrats, and all sorts of counter-revolutionaries refer to the revolutionary Moscow trials, they imply that these were held “in camera”, i.e. they were close court trials aiming obviously to slander socialism and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat presenting it before the working class and peoples as “undemocratic” and” oppressive”. They conceal the fact that all the trials, except one, were public, open court trials.

They were attended by diplomats from various countries, lawyers, and soviet workers and even Dmitri Volkogonov, this fascist and pathetic mudslinger of Stalin, dares not doubt this (not to pass for totally unreliable): “Foreign journalists and even diplomats were invited to attend” (Dmitri Volkogonov, “Stalin, triumph and tragedy”, p. 299, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London, 1991). In relation to this question, we read in “Rundschau”: “the court room is packed. Foreign and soviet correspondents, members of the diplomatic corps and numerous workers were present at the trial” (“Rundschau” ueber Politik, Wirtschaft und Arbeitbewegung, No 10,3/3/1938, p.17, Basel). Also, the American ambassador in Moscow Joseph E. Davies, himself a layer, attended all the sessions and narrates: “At 12 o’clock noon accompanied by Counselor Henderson I went to this trial. Special arrangements were made for tickets for the Diplomatic Corps to have seats” and “on both sides of the central aisle were rows of seats occupied entirely by different groups of “workers” at each session, with the exception of a few rows in the centre of the hall reserved for correspondents, local and foreign, and for the Diplomatic Corps. The different groups of “workers”, I am advised, were charged with the duty of taking back reports of the trials to their various organizations.” (Joseph E. Davies: “Mission to Moscow”, London 1945, p. 26 and 34)

Davies lists the names of the American correspondents, among the many others, present in the trial: “it was Walter Duranty and Harold Denny from New York Times, Joe Barnew and Joe Phillips from New York Herald Tribune, Charlie Nutter or Nick Massock from Associated Press, Norman Deuel and Henry Schapiro from United Press, Jim Brown from International News and Spencer Williams as a correspondent from Manchester Guardian” from whom “Schapiro was an attorney holding an academic title from the Law School of the Moscow University” (Joseph E. Davies: Mission to Moscow).

Concerning the most slandered Andrei Vyshinsky, the revolutionary prosecutor, the American ambassador notes: “the prosecutor who conducted the case calmly and generally with admirable moderation” while in connection to the defendants’ condition, writes: “there was nothing unusual in the appearance of the accused. They all appeared well nourished and normal physically” (Joseph E. Davies: “Mission to Moscow”, London 1945, p.35).

Concerning the legal side of the trials, we are informed by the leader of the treacherous Austrian social-democracy the following:“the eminent English lawyer D. N. Pritt concluded that, the court proceedings were flawless and the accused were able to freely enter their pleas before the court” (Otto Bauer, Grundsaetzliches zu den Hinrichtungen in Mokau, in “Der Kampf”, 10/1936, p.396).

But despite this and the assurances given by eminent layers such as D. N. Pritt, Pierre Villar, Joseph Davies and others for the contrary, the reactionary D. Volkogonov does not hesitate to claim that “most of the accused could only find words to agree with Vyshinsky” and that “all the accused agreed with the procurator, accepted the monstrous charges in a friendly spirit”. He also talks about “violation of the basic rules of socialist legality” (Dmitri Volkogonov, Stalin, triumph and tragedy, p. 294)

Whoever is interested in the historical truth, he has only to study the full verbatim record of the court proceedings mentioned above and, also, the communist and bourgeois press of that time.

The only trial that was not held in open court – because it was related to Soviet Union’s defense– was the trial of Tukhatchevsky who, thrilled by the military might of Nazi Germany, aimed to stage a military coup in order to overthrow the Dictatorship of the Proletariat in the Soviet Union.

In the beginning of 1936, on his way to London to attend the funeral of king George V, stopped at Warsaw and Berlin where he met with Polish and German generals. Returning from London and during a banquet held by the Soviet embassy in Paris, he praised Nazi Germany in public and advised the Romanian minister for foreign affairs Nicola Titulescu to attach his country to “New Germany”:

“Tukhatchevsky who was sitting on the same table with Romanian Minister for Foreign Affairs Nicola Titulescu, explained to him: Monsieur le Ministre, it is not fair to connect your career and the fate of your nation with old and “doomed” countries like Great Britain and France. We have to turn our attention to the new Germany. For, at least, certain period of time Germany will take the leadership of the European continent. I am convinced that Hitler will contribute to the salvation of all of us” (Michael Sayers and Albert Kahn: “The Great Conspiracy against Russia”)

These comments by Tukhatchevsky were recorded by another invited Romanian diplomat, Schachanan Esseze, the head of the Press Bureau of the Romanian embassy in Paris. The well known political writer, Genevieve Tabouis recounts later in her book: “My name is Cassandra”:

“I saw Tukhatchevsky for the last time on the day of the funeral of George V. In Soviet embassy banquet, the Russian general appeared very open in his conversations with Politis, Titulescu, Herriot and Boncour…He had just come back from a trip to Germany and he couldn’t stop praising the Nazis. He was sitting on my right, and whenever he referred to an imaginary agreement between Hitler and the other great powers, he repeated: “Madame Tabouis, the Germans now are already invincible”

What urged him to make such enthusiastic statements? Had the German diplomat brainwashed him with an especially cordial reception? That evening I wasn’t the only one who felt worried with his enthusiastic remarks. One of the guests, an important diplomat, after leaving the embassy, whispered in my ear: Well, I can only hope that not all Russians think in this way.” (Michael Sayers – Albert E. Kahn«Die grosse Verschwoerung», p. 310-311, Verlag Volk und Welt, Berlin (DDR) 1949, US title: “The Great Conspiracy against Russia”).

3. “Extraction” of confessions through “torture” and “pressure” or voluntary admission of the crimes by the accused?

The crux of the slandering campaign launched by the world reaction, the Trotskyites and the social-democrat traitors against the Soviet Union, on the eve of the war, was the lie that the defendant’s confessions resulted from torture and pressure. This was later spread by the Krushchevians’ Goebbelist propaganda against Stalin: “the confessions were acquired through the exercise of physical violence, torture” (N. Khrushchev: “The Secret Report” at the 20th Congress of CPSU). This totally groundless claim is still widely spread nowadays as it is shown by the references made by reactionary “historians” and journalists:“the confessions, the course of the trials, was a result of torture” (Christine Reymann, Berlin).

We have to note, at first, that this argument of the anti-stalinist reaction of all kinds (from fascists to Trotskyites and from old to new Khrushchevian social-democrats) is nothing more a charming fairy tale for children when we are discussing about experienced cadres. In our country, the revolutionary communist Nikos Belogiannis didn’t confess under “the exercise of physical violence, torture” nor in the offer of the local reaction to become a minister and he was executed, choosing to die instead of being humiliated. The same did lots of hundreds of communists.

Isaac Deutscher, with the semblance of seriousness shown by a professional Trotskyite slanderer writes: “the accused hoped that their confessions would save them and their families, offered them a ray of hope if being saved” (Isaac Deutscher, Stalin, a political biography). But being careless, he forgot a “small” detail: every admission of such criminal acts was punishable by death in the Soviet Union at that time, a fact known to everybody and, most and foremost, the accused themselves. How is it, then, possible that there was even a “a ray of hope of being saved”?

The same ridiculous slanders are repeated by Dimitri Volkogonov: “Stalin had defeated Zinoviev and Kamenev by exhaustion and deception. He took Pyatakov and his “partners” by torture” (Dmitri Volkogonov, Stalin, triumph and tragedy, p. 292, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London, 1991). “The investigators had a wide range of means to obtain the desired confession” (ibid, p.294) and for Bukharin he says that “threats were made against his young wife and infant son” (ibid, p.300). This is how low the Khrushchevian social-democrats have descended.

However, Volkogonov and Co. are unfortunate to be refuted, 52 years in advance, by an eye-witness, lawyer and representative of the American imperialism, the then USA ambassador in Moscow, Joseph E. Davies who was attending the court sessions on a daily basis: “there was nothing unusual in the appearance of the accused. They all appeared well nourished and normal physically” (Joseph E. Davies: “Mission to Moscow”, London 1945, p.35).

Concerning the issue of forced confessions, we make some brief but important remarks:

First, none of the accused stated that he was tortured.

Second, the flawless way the Trials were conducted made sure that the accused had the opportunity for a free statement according to the conclusion of the eminent English lawyer D. Pritt but also of others including Joseph E. Davies.

Third, the representative of the American imperialism in Moscow, Davies, did not notice that any of the accused were tortured but on the contrary, as mentioned above, “there was nothing unusual in the appearance of the accused. They all appeared well nourished and normal physically”. Neither did he mention that there was an atmosphere of fear restriction since Vyshinsky“conducted the case calmly and generally with admirable moderation”

Fourth, if the accused had confessed false crimes, i.e. crimes they had not committed, under the “pressure” or “torture” – as the international reaction claims – then, they would have been shot unjustly but surely since these criminal activities were punishable by death in the Soviet Union at that time.

However, for the case of Bukharin, there is fortunately an additional and of the gravest importance, testimony which is almost entirely unknown: whatever Bukharin publically admitted in his trial, were confirmed by the testimony of his close friend and renegade Jules Herbert-Droz; consequently, the conspirator Bukharin deliberately admitted his crimes without any alleged “pressure” or “torture” .

A very close political and personal friend of Bukharin, the Swiss Jules Herbert-Droz, former secretary of Comintern (1921-1928) refers to his last meeting with Bukharin in an interview (30/10/1965) an in a letter to A.G. Loewy (22/11/1965): “I saw Bukharin for the last time at the end of May 1929. He informed me about two things: 1. his companions Rykov, Tomsky and others were planning to form a bloc with the Trotskyites. Tomski had already contacted Kamenev. 2. The opposition was planning to organize individual terrorism against Stalin” (A.G. Loewy: Die Weltgeschichte ist das Weltgericht, p. 373, Europa Werlag Vien, 1969) Moreover, Humbert-Droz himself, writes in the second volume of his memoirs:“before my departure (to Latin America) I visited Bukharin for a last time because I didn’t know whether I was going to see him after my return. We had a long and open conversation. He briefed me on his group’s contacts with the group of Zinoviev and Kamenev and coordination of the struggle against Stalin’s authority. Bukharin also told me that they had decided to resort to individual terrorism in order to get rid of Stalin! This was our last conversation. These who, after Lenin’s death, could eliminate Stalin politically, based on Lenin’s testament, tried to eliminate him physically when he firmly held the police-security apparatus of the state”(Karl Hofmeier: “Memoiren eines Schweizer Kommunisten / 1917-1947”, p. 142, rotpunkt verlag Zurich 1978 and “Memoires de Jules Herbert-Droz”, v.2, p. 379-380).

And the communist Karl Hofmeier comments the attitude of the renegade Droz: “until his death, Humbert-Droz remained silent about his Trotskyite-Bukharinist past! That is the disgraceful end of the long-term secretary of the Communist International” (ibid, p.380). Afterwards, Droz became the secretary of the Social-Democratic party of Switzerland, 1946-1959).

More than 35 years after this very important testimony from a very close and personal friend of Bukharin, Herbert-Droz, according to which Bukharin was planning to physically eliminate Stalin, the credibility of the Khrushchevian revisionist slanderers of Stalin and the Goebelist Volkogonov amounts to continue the mud-slinging:“Bukharin was threatened and blackmailed”,

It is obvious from all the above that the accused were compelled to admit their criminal acts not because of “torture and pressure” but because of the legal and political formulation of the indictment by the Procurator and the overwhelming evidence amassed against them.

Moreover, the opinion of foreign diplomats for the Trials and the existence or absence of the Trotskyite-Bukharinite centre and its terrorist activity are of particular importance.

The American ambassador Davies notes: “I have spoken with many, if not all, of the members of the Diplomatic Corps here and, with possibly with one exception, they are all of the opinion that the proceedings established a clearly the existence of a political plot and conspiracy to overthrow the government” (Joseph E. Davies: “Als USA-Botschafter in Moskau”, p. 35, Steinberg Verlag Zuerich 1943, English version: “Mission to Moscow”, London 1945, p. 39).

Somewhere else: “Another diplomat, made a most illuminating statement to me yesterday. In discussing the trial he said that the defendants were undoubtedly guilty; that all of us who attended the trial had practically agreed on that; that the outside world from the press reports, however, seemed to think that trial was a put-up a job (façade, as he called it); that while we knew it was not, it was probably just as well that the outside world should think so” (Joseph E. Davies: “Mission to Moscow”, London 1945, p. 83)

In a letter to Sumner Welles, concerning the Tukhatchevsky trial, he writes: “Conditions here are, as usual, perplexing. The judgment of those who have been here longest is that conditions are very, very serious; the best judgment seems to believe that in all probability there was a definite conspiracy in the making looking to a coup d’ etat by the army – not necessarily anti-Stalin, but anti-political and anti-party, and that Stalin struck with characteristic speed, boldness and strength. A violent “purge” all over the party has been going on. The opinion of the steadiest minds of the Diplomatic Corps is that the government is not in imminent danger and is still strong.” (Joseph E. Davies: “Mission to Moscow”, London 1945, p. 111)

In a letter to his daughter (on the 9th of March 1938) he writes:“The extraordinary testimony of Krestinsky, Bukharin and the rest would indicate that the Kremlin’s fears were well justified. For it now seems that a plot existed in the beginning of November 1936, to project a coup d’etat, with Tukhatchevsky as its head for May of the following year. Apparently it was touch and go at that time whether it actually would be staged.”

In his overall evaluation of the Bukharin trial, he writes to the State Department: “… after daily observation of the witnesses, their manner of testifying, the unconscious corroboration which developed, and other facts in the course of the trial, together with others of which a judicial notice could be taken, it is my opinion so far that as the political defendants are concerned sufficient crimes under Soviet law. Among those charged in the indictment, were established by proof and beyond a reasonable doubt to justify the verdict of guilty of treason and the adjudication of the punishment provided by Soviet criminal statutes. The opinion of those diplomats who attended the trial most regularly was general that the case had established the fact that there was formidable political opposition and an exceedingly serious plot, which explained to the diplomats many of the hitherto unexplained developments of the last six months of the Soviet Union.” Joseph E. Davies: “Mission to Moscow”, London 1945, p. 178-179)

4. The slanderous campaign launched by the world reaction, the Trotskyites and the social-democrats.

The world reaction, the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo axis in the first place, together with the counter-revolutionary Trotskyites and the support of social-democrats outdid everyone else in vilifying the Soviet Union and Stalin. The leaders of the treacherous social-democracy, in particular, were among the campaign’s main props, widely publicized in the daily press.

Under these circumstances, the international communist and proletarian movement was obliged to respond and one of its leaders, Georgi Dimitrov, addressed the social-democrats with an article: “Support to the terrorists is the same as help to fascism!”, whereby he accurately determine the content of the dispute making clear from the start, that: “it is impossible to read the telegram that the official representatives of the socialist international and the international trade-union federation, De Brouckere, Adler, Citrine and Scheveneis sent so hastily to the soviet government on the occasion of the trial of the terrorist Trotskyite-Zinovievite center without feeling the deepest indignation”; and rightly pointing out that “the trial of the terrorists, the agents of fascism, is an integral part of the international working class anti-fascist struggle” (Georgi Dimitrov: “Gemeine Terroristen in Schutz nehmen, bedeutet dem Fascismus helfen” in ‘RUNDSCHAU” ueber Politik Wirtschaft und Arbeiterbewegung, 5, Jahrgang, No 28, 27/8/1936, p. 1541 Basel).

The counter-revolutionary Trotsky who, from a Menshevic social-democrat, had degenerated to an agent of fascism and a traitor of his country, the Soviet Union, organized a “counter-trial”; he set up the so-called “Dewey Commission” (1937-1938) presided by the most famous ideological spokesman of American imperialism, the ultra-reactionary pragmatist philosopher John Dewey. Unfortunately for him, the outcome was disappointing since none of the evidence presented in the Moscow Trials could be refuted. However, the arrogant collaborator of the Hitlerites assures us that: “I had the opportunity to give an oral and written account before the Investigation Commission on the “Moscow Trials” presided by John Dewey, and not one of these reports was doubted”. So Trotsky gave an account to the Commission set up by himself!

The significance of the “American Commission for the defense of Trotsky” is indicated by the fact that it published a statement signed by 17 personages seven of whom reported that their names were used without their consent, that they didn’t know the content of the statement and nobody asked them. Among those who complained, was Professor Franz Boas, the Professor Goldenweiser from the University of Wisconsin, Professor Lundberg, the writer of the book “The sixty families of America”, Professor Kilpatrick from Columbia University, Professor Leonard von Roscoe from the University of Wisconsin the writer Burton Roscoe and Wood Krutsch” (RUNDSCHAU” ueber Politik Wirtschaft und Arbeiterbewegung, 5, Jahrgang, No 16, 17/3/1938, p. 1541 Basel).

What is of particular and special interest is the content of the agreement between Trotsky and the Nazis. In his meeting with Trotsky on the outskirts of Oslo, in the beginning of December 1935, Pyatakov received first hand information about this agreement and fixed date of the outbreak of the war:

“It was clear to Pyatakov that Trotsky had not invented this informa­tion. Trotsky now revealed to Pyatakov that for some time past he had been “conducting rather lengthy negotiations with the Vice-Chairman of the German National Socialist Party—Hess.” As a result of these negotiations with Adolf Hitler’s deputy, Trotsky had entered into an agreement, “an absolutely definite agreement,” with the Government of the Third Reich. The Nazis were ready to help the Trotskyites to come to power in the Soviet Union.

“It goes without saying,” Trotsky told Pyatakov, “that such a favourable attitude is not due to any particular love for the Trotskyites. It simply proceeds from the real interests of the fascists and from what we have promised to do for them if we come to power.”

Concretely, the agreement which Trotsky had entered into with the Nazis consisted of five points. In return for Germany’s assistance in bringing the Trotskyites to power in Russia, Trotsky had agreed:—

(1) to guarantee a generally favourable attitude towards German government and the necessary collaboration with it in the most important questions of international character;

(2) to agree to territorial concessions [the Ukraine];

(3) to permit German industrialists, in the form of concessions (or some other forms), to exploit enterprises in the U.S.S.R. essential as complements to German economy (iron ore, manganese, oil, gold, timber, etc.) ;

(4) to create in the U.S.S.R. favourable conditions for the activi­ties of German private enterprise;

(5) in time of war to develop extensive diversive activities in enterprises of the war industry and at the front. These diversive activities to fee carried on under Trotsky’s instruc­tions, agreed upon with the German General Staff.

At the end of two hours, Pyatakov left Trotsky in the small house on the outskirts of Oslo and returned to Berlin as he had come—by privately chartered plane, and carrying a Nazi passport” (Michael Sayers and Albert Kahn: “The Great Conspiracy against Russia, p. 104-105)

The existence of the Trotsky-Nazi agreement was also admitted by Bukharin in his confession: “In the summer of 1934 Radek told me that directions had been received from Trotsky, that Trotsky was concluding negotiations with the Germans, that Trotsky had already promised the Germans a number of territorial concessions, including Ukraine. If my memory doesn’t fail me, territorial concessions to Japan were also mentioned. In general, these negotiations Trotsky already behaved not only as a conspirator who hopes to get power by means of an armed coup at some future data but already felt himself the master of Soviet land, which he wants to convert from Soviet to non-Soviet….As I remember Tomsky told me that Karakhan had arrived at an agreement with Germany in more advantageous terms than Trotsky” (Report of Court proceedings in the case of the Anti-Soviet “Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites”, p. 430,432, Moscow 1938).

Fortunately, the Dictatorship of the Proletariat managed to defend itself and foiled the plans of the Trotskyite-Bucharinite bloc and the counter-revolutionary Trotsky that included: 1. The undermining of the country’s defense through the action of the terrorist “5th column” 2. The secret agreement with General Staffs of fascist Germany and Japan. 3. The agreement that offered Ukraine and other soviet territory, to the Germans.

Fifteen years after the treacherous agreements of Trotsky with the Nazis, the various Trotskyite factions show their real facee; we only mention the case of Tony Cliff who outrageously defended the Russian fascist traitors Vlasov-Molyskin who joined the Nazis in the war against their country. (Tony Cliff: “State Capitalism in Russia”)

It should be reminded that besides the soviet state, the Republican government of Spain during the civil war also put the Trotskyites conspirators to trial and in particular the cadres of POUM (Partido Obrero Unificacion Marxista) who were Franco’s “fifth column”. The leader of POUM at that time was Andreas Nin, an old friend and associate of Trotsky (RUNDSCHAU” ueber Politik Wirtschaft und Arbeiterbewegung, 5, Jahrgang, No 52, 20/10/1938, p. 1765-1766, No 53, 27/10/1938, p. 1807-1809, No 54, 3/11/1938, Basel). Nevertheless, the Trotskyites “recount” that these trials were also organized by Joseph Stalin.

5. Defense of the Trials from the international communist movement and by hundreds of anti-fascists and communist intellectuals.

The international communist movement in one voice, the Comintern, the communist and workers’ parties individually, including the revolutionary KKE, the anti-fascist and progressive organizations, the revolutionary syndicates and many hundreds of anti-fascist and communist intellectuals from all over the world, defended the revolutionary Moscow Trials of the conspirators, murderers-terrorists, agents and spies of the fascist powers standing by the side of the Stalin’s socialist Soviet Union that was the homeland of all proletarians and the hope for the crushing of fascism.

At this point, let us mention the universally known names of the communist poet Bertolt Brecht and the anti-fascist philosopher Ernst Bloch. Both of them have been chastised by the reaction and all kinds of pseudo-leftists and pseudo-antifascists not only because they defended firmly the revolutionary Moscow Trials but mainly because they never changed their correct antifascist attitude regarding it as the right one also in the post-war years. The attitude of the two German intellectuals represented the attitude of the overwhelming majority of many hundred anti-fascist intellectuals of that critical period, an attitude vindicated by the great historic event of the 20th century: the great peoples’ Anti-fascist Victory on May 1945.

Among the various reactionaries and anti-Stalinists that criticize the two German intellectuals are the revisionists Michael Lowey and Robert Sayre who express their grief because Ernst Bloch“from all of his compromises with the Stalinist version of communism, the worst was, undoubtedly, his attitude towards the Moscow trials”, and that he declared “his faith in the USSR and in its “revolutionary tribunals”. They claim that his article “Jubiläum der Renegaten” would be a dark spot in his political activity” (Michael Lowey and Robert Sayre: “Révolte et mélancolie”). Apparently, in order to remove this alleged “dark spot”, Bloch had to collaborate with Hitler like the counter-revolutionary and traitor of his country, Leon Trotsky. The provocative embellishment of the feudal views of the ultra-reactionary German Romanticism is indicative of the anti-Marxist views of this book.

The great communist poet Bertolt Brecht in an interesting article with the title “For the trials” (1936-1937), expresses himself, from the beginning in the most clear cut way: “concerning the trials: it would be totally erroneous to take a position against the soviet government that conducts them. Because, such a position, by itself, would be very soon transformed to opposition against the Russian proletariat threatened with war by the world’s fascism, opposition against socialism that this proletariat builds. According to the opinion of the most fanatical enemies of the USSR and the soviet government these trials clearly showed the existence of active conspiracies against the regime, demonstrated that the conspirators’ nests had proceeded not only to wrecking activities inside the country but also to negotiations with fascist diplomats regarding their governments’ attitude to a potential governmental change in USSR”. And elsewhere: “The trials is an act of preparation for the war …Initially, Trotsky saw the crushing of the workers state by means of war as a danger – but later it was precisely this possibility that became the prerequisite of his practical activity. Let’s see how: the war breaks out, the superstructure in defense is crushed, the apparatus is alienated from the masses, USSR is forced to concede Ukraine, Eastern Siberia etc, in the interior is forced again to concessions, the return of the capitalist forms, the strengthening of the kulaks (or to tolerate such a strengthening) – yet all these are, at the same time, the conditions of the new era, the return of Trotsky” (Bertolt Brecht: “For philosophy and Marxism”, p. 71 and p. 75, Athens 1977).

The philosopher Ernst Bloch, besides his main activity in philosophy, he used to comment often the political current affairs of that gloomy period; he wrote four articles on the question of Trials: “Kritik einer Prozesskritik” (March 1937), “Jubiläum der Renegaten” (1937), “Feuchtwangers “Moskau 1937” (July 1937), “Bucharin Slusswort” (May 1938).

Talking about the Trials, he correctly lays emphasis on the distinction between a revolutionary and a west-European class court because they have completely different class content; he sees “the hate of the Trotskyites against Stalin”, which becomes an ally of fascism only after Hitler’s rise to power and the united “action of Nazi monster, the Japanese grabbing state and the Trotskyite hate” comprising a unified force that should not be underestimated at all; he underlines that the “final result of the Trotskyite action would not be, of course, the world revolution…but the introduction of capitalism in Russia” and“it can be plainly said: the result will be the entry of German fascism to Moscow. Russia would then become what Rathenau had dreamed: a vast eastern colony, a German India”. Somewhere else he writes that it would be “an unprecedented naiveté to doubt about Trotsky’s plans” and wonders “that it would be indeed incomprehensible if Gestapo and Trotskyism did not meet on the ground of the common hate” against the Soviet Union and Stalin (Ernst Bloch, “Kritik einer Prozesskritik“ in Vomm Hasard zum Katastrophe, Politische Aufsötze aus den Jahren 1934-1939, p. 177-179, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1972).

In his article, Jubiläum der Renegaten, Bloch formulates in the most plain terms the nature of the confrontation and the historical dilemma of that time: FASCISM or SOVIET UNION, HITLER or STALIN pointing, at the same time, to the alternative course of action in the most critical moment of that period: “Monopoly capitalism does not give rise to vacillations, the choice between this and the socialist cause of the people is easy. One could say, today, that the notion according to which the anti-Bolshevik slogans serve the devil is the most evident. An unreasonably inflated criticism of the motherland of the revolution, as even Klopstock and Schiller would be able to believe, does not promote at all the ideal of revolution which is only served by Popular Front. And this does not necessarily demand an absolute devotion to Russia but only the simplest and, one would say, easily accepted: without Russia, there can be no Antifascist Struggle and no Victory”(E. Bloch “Jubiläum der Renegaten” in Politische Messungen, Pestzeit, Vormörtz, p. 233, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1970).

What Hitler and his collaborators, the spies of the treacherous Trotskyite-Bukharinite Bloc, did not accomplish – the destruction of the Stalin’s socialist Soviet Union – was unfortunately accomplished by the international reaction in the beginning of the 1950’s, after the death-murder of Stalin through the treacherous clique of Khrushchev-Brezhnev that played the leading role in the overthrow of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat in the Soviet Union, the elimination of socialism, the restoration of capitalism and its break up in the time of Gorbachev.

In conclusion, let’s give as an answer, to all those who distort the historical truth, regarding the revolutionary trials, to all kinds of anti-Stalinist slanderers, what the Foreign Affairs Commissar of the USSR Maxim Litvinov told the American ambassador Joseph E. Davies when the latter pointed out that the “purges were bad to the outside reputation of USSR” and “had shaken the confidence of France of England in the strength of USSR vis-à-vis Hitler”; an answer fully confirmed by the course of historic events: “they had to make sure through these purges that there was no treason left which could co-operate with Berlin or Tokyo; that someday the world would understand that what they had done was to protect their government from a menacing treason. In fact, he said that they were doing a while world a service in protecting themselves against the menace of Hitler and Nazi domination, and thereby preserving the Soviet Union strong as bulwark against the Nazi threat. That the world someday would appreciate what a very great man Stalin was” (Joseph E. Davies: “Mission to Moscow”, London 1945, p. 115).

January 2009

The Political Committee of the “Movement for the Reorganisation of the Communist Party of Greece 1918-55”