5th Column


What is the fifth column? It commonly consists of a fairly large group of the so-called “best people” who object to their country’s government and are ready to overthrow it even, if necessary, with the aid of foreign powers. Country after country in Europe collapsed at the first touch of the Nazi Army — sometimes before the arrival of the Army — because the upper officialdom had rotted from within.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 121

All governments have the problem of “subversion” by enemy agents or disaffected citizens. Seldom is it handled quite sanely by due process of law. Often–we note our own land–it becomes a source of which-hunts and neighborhood terror. This lack of balance doubtless comes from the fact that the offenders are not ordinary criminals, easy to catalogue, with penalties to match. They are men of different loyalties from those demanded by the state. A stable or confident regime is not greatly worried by them; for they are a small minority. But in times of war, or to any regime under stress, they are more disturbing than ordinary criminals.
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 58

The Quislings and Lavals were not all in the West: the Soviet Union provided many collaborators and traitors of its own. Only 20-odd years had elapsed since the revolution and there were still many people who felt aggrieved by the regime. Many others were motivated by fear of the Nazis or the desire to adapt and survive, while yet others, especially in 1941, believed that the Germans had come for good. Finally there were weak, venal or just plain criminal types who were prepared to commit treason.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 440

…Later, Hitler’s “fifth column” so penetrated many governments of Europe that they collapsed at the first touch of war. Broadly speaking, this fifth column included men like Prime Minister Chamberlain and Premier Daladier, who weakened the defenses of their nations by destroying democracy in Spain and, later, by giving the Czech fortifications to Hitler, in order to tempt his armies eastward. It included American industrialists who sold scrap iron to Japan, and strengthened her against the USA. None of these people considered themselves traitors. Nor, probably, did Quisling and Laval and others who, with various excuses, took part in puppet governments serving the invader.
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 58

…The picture is clearly not a simple one of Stalin, as despot, getting rid of his enemies. It is a complex picture, combining the acts of many groups. Stalin’s responsibility was that, being “distrustful and suspicious”–a not unnatural state in a man whose close friend has been assassinated and who has heard in open court that his own assassination was planned–he appointed Yezhov, gave orders to hurry up the investigations and sentences, and devised the theory that enemies multiplied as socialism nears success. Yezhov, later found to be a madman, gave the affective orders. The Central Committee, convinced by Stalin’s argument and Yezhov’s reports, also approved the acts. The actual initiators, as stated by Khrushchev, were “provocateurs”–i.e., agents of Nazi-fascism–and “conscienceless careerists”–i.e., men who invented plots to advance their own jobs.
This analysis by Khrushchev does not greatly differ from that of my exiled friend, who said that the Nazi fifth-column “penetrated high in the GPU and arrested the wrong people.”… The Soviet investigators who are reviewing the cases will, I think, eventually get to the bottom of them. They will find the key, most probably, in actual, extensive penetration of the GPU by a Nazi fifth-column, in many actual plots, and in the impact of these on a highly suspicious man who saw his own assassination plotted and believed he was saving the Revolution by drastic purge.
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 68

… In Dniepropetrovsk, the NKVD had discovered that such ‘born scoundrels” as Generalov (Shura’s husband), though they took formal oaths of loyalty to the Party, had in fact organized ‘spy nests and Trotskyist underground groupings’. They were working for ‘world capitalism’.
Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 47

Volodya continues, “The country was approaching war, and an opposition party had been formed with an underground regional committee, printing press and so on. It had a relatively large army which was ready to act at any moment. All this forced Stalin to take measures to liquidate what we called the fifth column.
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 141


The Soviet secret police had long guarded against routine foreign espionage. In 10 years they caught no less than 10,000 agents of foreign powers, creeping illegally across their borders. But the investigation of the Kirov murder led into higher and higher ranks of the Communist party, and seemed to indicate connection with the enemy even in these ranks. It was the first time that any nation in Europe began to glimpse the tactics that the world today knows as the Nazi fifth column — the penetration by the enemy into the citadel of power itself.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 128

QUESTION: Why were so many people executed after the Kirov assassination? Were any of them punished because they were political opponents of the present regime?

ANSWER: One hundred and three persons were executed as members of murder gangs who crossed the Soviet border with revolvers and hand grenades to commit murder and other acts of violence against Communists and Soviet officials. Such gangs have existed ever since the revolution drove out the White Guard armies, but Berlin gave them shelter after Hitler came to power. They have for two years been bragging in newspapers published in Berlin and Yugoslavia of their successes in murder and destruction beyond the Soviet frontier. Today the whole world knows about Nazi terrorist tactics across frontiers.
These cases were handled by border guards until the assassination of Kirov aroused a storm of popular resolutions calling for drastic action against terrorists. A court martial composed of well-known members of the Supreme Court thereupon made a rapid clean-up of all these cases in several cities, publishing the fact that the terrorists had been armed when arrested, had run the border from Poland and Rumania and had plotted and carried out murders. The trials were in camera, since open discussion of details was tantamount to accusing several governments of acts that rank as causes of war.
Strong, Anna Louise. “Searching Out the Soviets.” New Republic: August 7, 1935, p. 357

Domestic realities were crucial. The VKP’s membership screenings in 1933-1935 provided “evidence”–real or perceived–that “enemy agents” posing as emigres had infiltrated the USSR and the party. The possibility that a fifth column existed within the VKP prompted a shift in party attitudes toward foreign comrades. From that assumption flowed the concern that “enemy agents” “masked” as students and political emigres had infiltrated party schools, factories, and other Soviet institutions.
Chase, William J., Enemies Within the Gates?, translated by Vadim A. Staklo, New Haven: Yale University Press, c2001, p. 411.


In the Far East, the chief of the G.P.U. fled to Japan, and many of his subordinates were arrested as Japanese spies and wreckers.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 134


For much as these events preoccupied the press of the outside world, the fact remains that all the elements of the counter Revolution–Trotsky supporters, NEP men, and kulak’s–together formed a comparatively small proportion of the vast population of the Soviet Union.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 165

Who was under investigation? We know comparatively few names but Medvedev notes the following groups: “jurists,” “educational administrators,” “scholars,” “biologists,” “technical intelligentsia,” “designers in the garments industry,” “executives, chief engineers, plant managers,” “painters, actors, musicians, architects, film people,” “military commanders.” If to these we add kulaks, largely engaged in agricultural sabotage, it appears that the opposition to the dictatorship of the proletariat came, as we might expect, primarily from the upper professionals and the wealthier peasants. This group of professionals engaged in sabotage–economic, political, or cultural–and other anti-socialist activities, may have been large, but apparently, from the continuing efficient functioning of the nation, they constituted but a small proportion of the population or of the professional class.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 130

The anti-Soviet commentators and Khrushchev give the impression of an all-encompassing “terror” which virtually paralyzed Soviet life. But this was clearly false. Industrial production increased at a rapid rate between 1936 and 1940, the life of the average Soviet citizen went on much as before, for some it even took a special swing upward:
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 132


From the moment Hitler took power in Germany, the international counter-revolution became an integral part of the Nazi plan of world conquest. In every country, Hitler mobilized the counterrevolutionary forces which for the past fifteen years had been organizing throughout the world. These forces were now converted into the Fifth Columns of Nazi Germany, organizations of treason, espionage, and terror. These Fifth Columns were the secret vanguards of the German Wehrmacht.
One of the most powerful and important of these Fifth Columns operated in Soviet Russia. It was headed by a man who was perhaps the most remarkable political renegade in all history.
The name of this man was Leon Trotsky.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 185

When the Third Reich came into being, Leon Trotsky was already the leader of an international anti-Soviet conspiracy with powerful forces inside the Soviet Union. Trotsky in exile was plotting the overthrow of the Soviet government, his own return to Russia, and the assumption of that personal power he had once so nearly held.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 185

In the winter of 1921-1922, the leading Trotskyite, Krestinsky, had become the Soviet ambassador to Germany. In the course of his duties in Berlin, Krestinsky visited general Seeckt, Commander of the Reichswehr. Seeckt knew from his intelligence reports that Krestinsky was a Trotskyite. The German general gave Krestinsky to understand the Reichswehr was sympathetic with the aims of the Russian Opposition led by War Commissar Trotsky.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 197

In Moscow, a few months later, Krestinsky reported to Trotsky what general Seeckt had said. Trotsky was desperately in need of funds to finance his growing underground organization. He told Krestinsky that the Opposition in Russia needed foreign allies and must be prepared to form alliances with friendly powers. Germany, Trotsky added, was not an enemy of Russia, and there was no likelihood of an early clash between them:
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 197

This High Command of the Opposition was named the “Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites.” It was constructed on three different levels or layers. If one of a layers was exposed, the others would carry on.
The first layer, the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center headed by Zinoviev, was responsible for the organization and direction of terrorism.
The second layer, the Trotskyite Parallel Center, headed by Pyatakov, was responsible for the organization and direction of sabotage.
The third and most important layer, the actual Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites, headed by Bucharin and Krestinsky, comprised most of the leaders and highest ranking members of the combined Opposition forces.
The entire apparatus consisted of not more than a few thousand members and some 20 or 30 leaders who held positions of authority in the Army, foreign office, Secret Service, industry, trade unions, party and government offices.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 230-31

The conspiratorial apparatus of the Trotskyites, Rights, and Zinovievites was, in fact, the Axis Fifth Column in Soviet Russia.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 233

Trotsky began by stating flatly that “the seizure of power in Russia could be consummated only by force.” But the conspiratorial apparatus alone was not strong enough to carry out a successful coup and to maintain itself in power without outside aid. It was therefore essential to come to a concrete agreement with foreign states interested in aiding the Trotskyites against the Soviet government for their own ends.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 237

By the autumn of 1934, Trotskyite and Right terrorist groups were functioning throughout the Soviet Union.
A list had been compiled of the Soviet leaders who were to be assassinated. At the head of the list was the name of Joseph Stalin. Among the other names were Voroshilov, Molotov, Kirov, Kaganovich, Zhdanov, Menzhinsky, Gorky, and Kuibyshev.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 245

The official public records of these trials, comprising more than 1,500 pages of detailed testimony, are not only fascinating reading but also represent the most comprehensive public expose ever made of a contemporary secret state conspiracy. In addition, these records contain the first full disclosures of the inner workings of an Axis Fifth Column. They are an invaluable source of material for this period in world history, in which the Axis Fifth Columns played a major role.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 409

In this conjunction of men and motives, the killers who held power in Berlin and Tokyo found their opportunity. In the capitalist democracies they found allies among industrialists, aristocrats, anti-semites, native fascists, reactionary army officers, political adventurers, and prostituted journalists and politicians. In the USSR a corps of potential Quislings could be recruited only from the ranks of the secret dissenters within the Party and from such diplomats and army commanders as favored continued Soviet collaboration with the Reichswehr against the Western Powers rather than a program of collective security designed to checkmate Japan and the Axis. The elements of such a “Fifth Column” were in fact organized and partially mobilized for action with the aid of Trotsky, Tukhachevsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Pyatakov, Bukharin, Rykov, Yagoda, and other dissidents. Thanks to the vigilance of the NKVD and to the inhibitions, confusions, and quarrels among the conspirators, the plot ended in failure, exposure, belated repentance, and punishment.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 267

Had the plot not been exposed and crushed, the Soviet Union in the early 1940s would have suffered the fate of Spain, Czechoslovakia, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Yugoslavia, and Greece. The Nazi technique which prepared 16 other countries for occupation, subjugation, and partial extermination between 1938 and 1941 was precisely the technique set forth in the confessions of the accused in the Moscow trials. Had the conspiracy not been ruthlessly suppressed, Hitler and Hirohito would have won their war not only against Soviet Union but against Britain and America as well.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 268

The truly shocking result that Trotsky, whose services to the Revolution had been magnificent and honored as such by Lenin, became in the last sad end the chief tool of his country’s foes.
Duranty, Walter. The Kremlin and the People. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, Inc., 1941, p. 72

The testimony of Radek, Sokolnikov, and Pyatakov outlined the following version. Trotsky conducted negotiations with Hess, the deputy chairman of the Nazi party. Referring to these negotiations, Trotsky told the “center” that in 1937 Germany was planning to attack the USSR. In this war, Trotsky felt, the Soviet Union would inevitably suffer a defeat in which “all the Trotskyist cadres would also perish in the ruins of the Soviet state.” In order to save these cadres from destruction, Trotsky obtained a promise from the leaders of the Third Reich to allow the Trotskyists to come to power, promising them “compensation” in turn: they would be granted concessions and Germany would be sold important economic objects of the USSR; she would be provided with raw materials and produce at prices below the world market, as well as territorial concessions in the form of satisfying German wishes for expansion in the Ukraine. Analogous concessions would be made to Japan, to whom Trotsky promised to give the Priamur and Primore regions in the Far East; he also pledged to guarantee oil “in case of war with the USA.” In order to expedite the defeat of the USSR, Trotsky ordered the “center” to prepare a series of the most important industrial enterprises to be taken out of commission at the start of the war. Radek and Sokolnikov “confirmed Trotsky’s right to speak in the name of Soviet Trotskyists” in negotiations with the fascist powers, and in conversations with German and Japanese diplomatic representatives they promised the support of “realistic politicians” in the USSR for Trotsky’s position.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 118

Who was united under Trotsky’s Fascist banner? All the counter-revolutionary elements rallied under that banner. What means did the conspiracy use? High treason, the defeat of their own country, sabotage, espionage, and terror.”
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 92


Hitler read Trotsky’s autobiography as soon is it was published. Hitler’s biographer, Conrad Heiden, tells in Der Fuehrer how the Nazi leader surprised a circle of his friends in 1930 by bursting into rapturous praises of Trotsky’s book. “Brilliant!” cried Hitler, waving Trotsky’s My Life at his followers. “I have learnt a great deal from it, and so can you!”
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 216


The chief defendant at all of the three Moscow trials was a man 5000 miles away.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 312

By the summer of 1932, an agreement to suspend past rivalries and differences, and to work together under Trotsky’s supreme command, was under discussion between Pyatakov, as Trotsky’s lieutenant in Russia, and Bucharin, the leader of the Right Opposition. The smaller group headed by the veteran oppositionists, Zinoviev and Kamenev, agreed to subordinate its activities to Trotsky’s authority.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 230


“A pity,” said, Kamenev, when the terrorist Bakayev reported the failure of one of his plots to kill Stalin. “Let’s hope the next time we’ll be more successful.”
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 247


“From now on,” wrote Trotsky, “the diversive acts of the Trotskyites in the war industries” would have to be carried out under the direct “supervision of the German and Japanese high commands.” The Trotskyites must undertake no “practical activity” without first having obtained the consent of their German and Japanese allies.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 276


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 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.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 281

Trotsky had agreed (1) to guarantee a generally favorable attitude towards the German government and the necessary collaboration with it in the most important questions of international character; (2) to agree to territorial concessions–the Ukraine; (3) to permit German industrialists, in the form of concessions, to exploit enterprises in the USSR essential as complements to the German economy (iron ore, manganese, oil, gold, timber, and so forth); (4) to create in the USSR favorable conditions for the activities of German private enterprise; (5) in time of war to develop extensive diversive activities in enterprises of the war industry and at the front. These diversive activities to be carried on under Trotsky’s instructions, agreed upon with the German General Staff.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 281

Pyatakov, as Trotsky’s chief lieutenant in Russia, was concerned that this out and out deal with Nazism might be difficult to explain to the rank and file members of the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 281


The USSR was an arena in which the enemy met defeat in political warfare years before he failed in military warfare. The secrecy of each maneuver and counter move makes it impossible as yet to reconstruct the intricacies of the plots within plots and wheels within wheels whereby the Soviet Citadel was attacked and defended. Every aspect of this hidden war is still wrapped in a haze of speculation and controversy, save only the central fact that the attack was unscrupulous, merciless, and ineffective and that the defense was ruthless, relentless, and successful. What is beyond question, although wholly ignored in most contemporary comments, is that fascist conspirators did all in their power during the 1930’s to disrupt and weaken the Soviet Union, as they were doing simultaneously in other communities earmarked for subjugation. Their arsenal of weapons, here as elsewhere, included assassination, sabotage, bribery, blackmail, treason, and rebellion.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 257

As the present century has amply and bloodily demonstrated, wherever the working class moves toward power, the bourgeoisie will work to destroy it by every means at its disposal, war, terrorism, massacre, counter-revolution, sabotage, subversion, lies. If a working class in power is not able to thwart these attempts it will be defeated and socialism destroyed.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 132


No one can know the precise time at which Trotsky made up his mind that Stalin’s leadership of the party must be destroyed by violence.
Footnote: but in the Bulletin of the Opposition, October 1933, Trotsky wrote: “the Stalin bureaucracy… Can be compelled to hand over power to the proletarian vanguard only by FORCE” He later told the New York American (Hearst), January 26, 1937: “Stalin has put himself above all criticism and the state. It is impossible to displace him except by assassination.”
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 264

Moral revulsion at assassination as a political weapon was a sentiment unknown to Trotsky, for all his initial Marxist objections to individual terrorism.
“We were never concerned,” wrote Trotsky, “with the Kantian-priestly and vegetarian-Quaker prattle about the sacredness of human life. We were revolutionaries in opposition, and have remained revolutionaries in power. To make the individual sacred we must destroy the social order which crucifies him. And this problem can be solved only by blood and iron.”
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 267

…Trotsky made his papers available to an international commission that investigated and disproved the charge that he had supported the policy of assassination, and Sedov also answered the false charge in Livre sur Le Proces de Moscou. His assistant while writing a book, which was published in 1937, was Mark Zborowsky, a penetration agent whose code name on his NKVD file was TULIP.
Zborowsky had so successfully ingratiated himself into Sedov’s circle by 1937 that he was regarded as totally loyal in Trotskyist circles. The TULIP file reveals that it was from Zborowsky that Stalin, in January 1937, obtained material that was claimed to be evidence to renew his charges against Trotsky. But TULIP, who can hardly have been unaware of Sedov’s real views, appears simply to have relayed to Moscow information that he believed “The Boss” wanted to hear. For example he wrote to the Center: “On Jan. 22 Sedov, during our conversation in his apartment on the subject of the second Moscow trial and the role of the different defendants, declared, ‘Now we shouldn’t hesitate. Stalin should be murdered.’ ”
“Stalin’s deep fear of assassination would, therefore, have been inflamed by a more detailed report of the intentions revealed by Sonny–as Sedov was known by the NKVD–which Zborowsky dispatched to Moscow on Feb. 11:
“Not since 1936 had SONNY initiated any conversation with me about terrorism. Only about two or three weeks ago, after a meeting of the group, SONNY began speaking on this subject again. On this occasion he only tried to prove that terrorism is not contrary to Marxism. “Marxism”, according to SONNY’s words, “denies terrorism only to the extent that the conditions of class struggle don’t favor terrorism. But there are certain situations where terrorism is necessary.” The next time SONNY began talking about terrorism was when I came to his apartment to work. While we were reading newspapers, SONNY said that the whole regime in the USSR was propped up by Stalin; it was enough to kill Stalin for everything to fall to pieces.”
Costello, John and Oleg Tsarev. Deadly illusions. New York: Crown, c1993, p. 282

The evidence showed that for a long while there existed in the Soviet Union the two groups of Oppositionists, that led by Trotsky from abroad, and the Zinoviev-Kamenev group. They had hated each other almost as much as they had hated Stalin and the other leaders of the Soviet government. With the success of Socialistic construction, however, both groups began to realize that what little mass support they might have had in the beginning had completely fallen away from them. In desperation emissaries from Zinoviev and Kamenev went abroad to meet Trotsky’s agents and Trotsky himself. They hoped by joining forces to make up some of the ground they had lost.
But Trotsky had no such illusions. He knew that mass support could never be won again in the face of the triumphant success recorded by the Soviet Government. Therefore he suggested, and insisted, that only the murder of the present leaders could pave the way to the return of the Trotsky-Zinoviev group to influence in the Soviet Union.
Shepherd, W. G. The Moscow Trial. London: Communist Party of Great Britain, 1936, p. 7

And then–this was a truly fascist touch–all those tools that they had used in the various Commissariats to help them carry through their plans were to be assassinated too, so that none would be left alive who could tell the world of their crimes.
On one point all the accused men spoke with one voice: Every communication received from Trotsky harped on the theme: Kill Stalin.
One of the defendants described a meeting in Kamenev’s flat, with both Zinoviev and Kamenev present. This defendant, Lurie, had expressed his qualms at working with the “Gestapo.” Zinoviev had brushed the objection aside. “The ends justify the means,” he declared.
Shepherd, W. G. The Moscow Trial. London: Communist Party of Great Britain, 1936, p. 8

Berman Yurin was another of the accused who confessed to having entered the USSR expressly for the purpose of murdering Stalin.
“Stalin must be physically destroyed” was the point emphasized to me over and over again by Trotsky in personal conversation, said Yurin, narrating his conversations in Copenhagen with Trotsky.
Mrachkovsky, one of Trotsky’s closest confidents since 1923, told the court how Trotsky had made terrorism and assassination of basic condition on which he would agree to the merging of the groups.
By the time the hearing had ended there was no doubt of the guilt of the men in the dock, and that they richly deserved the death penalty that awaited them.
Shepherd, W. G. The Moscow Trial. London: Communist Party of Great Britain, 1936, p. 9


Trotsky, in 1934, in his impatience to recover the power he had lost, was less discreet [than Lenin]. He entered into negotiation with the Germans, and tried at the same time to start negotiations with the Japanese. He had to have something to negotiate with, and so he offered territorial concessions to both those probable adversaries of Soviet Russia. Rather a reduced Russia than a Russia ruled by Stalin! Being an autocrat with an exaggerated notion of his own importance, he did not ask any of his supporters in Russia whether they agreed with him. To show the support he had in Russia, he gave away the names of his supporters in the course of his negotiations, and the information was promptly used, particularly by the Japanese, in the interest of their intelligence service. Trotsky’s supporters in Russia found themselves in an appalling situation, for they did not share his view of the future. It is, moreover, extraordinarily difficult to fulfill one’s duties during the day to the best of one’s abilities and then to undo it all secretly at night. Consequently, most of Trotsky’s followers disregarded his orders.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 293


Yet more: in this great purge the fact was established that the German, Japanese, and Polish espionage services had wormed their way far into Russia, gaining access to the highest circles. The Deputy People’s Commissar for Agriculture, a Galacian Ukrainian, proved to have been for many years a Polish spy. The Soviet ambassador in Turkey, Karakhan, was shot as a German spy…. Karakhan fell into the hands of a beautiful German woman, and as a result into the hands of the Hitlerist intelligence service.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 304

Another important personality, though not so famous, was Boris Steiger, the official head of the foreign section of the Fine Arts Department. In reality he was an important representative of the secret police for liaison with the foreign diplomats, and an influential adviser of the Foreign Ministry. The Japanese had found out something compromising in his past, and had blackmailed him. He became a Japanese spy. He, too, was shot.
Thus there had been discovered a whole series of high officials who had been carrying out espionage for foreign Powers. A morbid fear of espionage spread over Russia. Large numbers of foreigners, the remainder of the foreign specialists in the Soviet Union, and Communist refugees from Hitler, were arrested, some on suspicion of espionage, others because they were supposed to be in close touch with members of the Russian opposition.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 305


It has not been realized in the world outside the Soviet Union that in these trials of 1936 to 1938 the most widespread conspiracy in the world’s history came to judgment. In that conspiracy were involved not only ex-leaders of the party and a former head of the government, but also fully a dozen members of the Government who were still in office, and the supreme commander of the army, the Chief of Staff, almost all the army commanders, and in addition a considerable number of senior officers; the Minister of Police and the highest police officials; the Deputy People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, almost all the ambassadors and ministers representing the Soviet Union abroad, almost the whole of the diplomatic staff of the ministry in Moscow; and also highly-placed judges and members of the governments of the federal republics.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 308

… but power was passing altogether from Stalin to a still somewhat nebulous motley of adventurers, militarists, and political police bosses and imperialists. They already were sufficiently strong to hold up a decision of the Government.
When we had all returned to Karlshorst, I was visited in my office by a comrade standing very high indeed. For though powerless still to overthrow the regime, we revolutionary Democrats were by this time strong enough to have our men in many key places.
Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 354

At least in the official rhetoric of the day, not a great deal distinguished “spies” from White Guards, kulaks, Trotskyites, and Zinovievites. From the Stalinist viewpoint, they may have operated from different perspectives, but they were all seen as threats to the USSR.
Considered this way, the 43,072 discovered in these categories up until December 1935 was large, especially considering that many of these people had held responsible posts. Imagine the outcry, and the fear, if in 1948 the FBI had announced that more than 40,000 enemies of the United States had been discovered operating inside the country’s ruling bodies. The allegation that one person, Alger Hiss, had been a Soviet agent was enough to send America into a minor frenzy, even though our enemies were on the other sides of the oceans. Forty thousand real and desperate foes, all presumably busy recruiting others, could inflict tremendous damage on any country.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 31

There is one important earlier case generally recognized as that of a genuine spy– Konar, who became Assistant People’s Commissar of Agriculture until accidentally exposed. He was a Polish agent who had been given the papers of a dead Red Army soldier in 1920, and in ten years had thus risen high in the hierarchy, until exposed by someone who chanced to have seen the real Konar.
Conquest, Robert. he Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 270

[At the Feb. March 1937 Plenum Stalin stated]: Comrades! From the reports and discussions held previously at the plenum, it is obvious that we have here a problem that could be characterized by three basic facts.
First–the harmful and diversionary espionage of foreign country agents, in whose ranks the Trotskyites played a very active part. They managed to involve practically all of our organizations to a greater or lesser degree industrial, administrative, and party organizations.
Secondly–agents of foreign countries, including Trotskyites, have managed to worm themselves not only into the lower party organs, but also they managed to get some top ranking posts in the government and party.
Thirdly–some of our leading comrades, in the Central Committee and in regions of the country, not only were not able to expose these agents, diversionists, spies, and assassins, but they became unwilling tools in this anti-State work and even unknowingly appointed some of these agents to responsible positions. These are undeniable facts, according to the reports and documents that we heard during this plenum.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 227


This is by no means a complete list. How was it that this vast conspiracy was entirely unsuccessful? It failed simply because its membership was too exalted. There were generals, but they had no army. There were persons in high office, but nobody to execute their orders. Around the conspirators, and, still more important, beneath them, were everywhere the members of the new official class. Thus the conspiracy had no solid basis and could not grow into an effective movement.
The conspirators might have sent one of their members to Stalin to shoot him down during an audience. They actually discussed this, but no one had the courage to make the attempt. Thus all they did was to come together in groups at long intervals, and talk and whisper, without any practical result–until, after several years, the first attempt was made, much too late. The first attempt at once betrayed everything.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 308-09


Also leading the Germans into war, was their belief in the internal weakness of Russia and the alleged widespread disaffection against Stalin. Much of this fantastic idea may have resulted from the conversations which Stalin has always insisted took place between Trotsky and the opposition leaders and the Nazi Party heads. Among the principal accusations leveled against Trotsky had been the treacherous liaison with Hitler, to whom the minority groups were said to have promised the Ukraine and certain districts in Western Russia in return for military help against Stalin.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 119


On October 7, 1937, Ambassador Davies wrote in his diary, “Ambassador Troyanovsky [Soviet Ambassdor to the US] came in and spent an hour with me. He gave rather an interesting account of conditions here that justified the executions. He described the naivete of his people even in the government in extending their trust and making party membership a guarantee of reliability. He stated that the country was in fact infested with spies of hostile countries, which spies were for years engaged upon this service as members of the Communist Party and even the government itself. He stated that he himself had had suspicions many times; that England and France were similarly infested; that Stalin might later give the world “his side” of this situation.
Davies, Joseph E. Mission to Moscow. New York, N. Y.: Simon and Schuster, c1941, p. 225

Stalin gives the impression of a strong mind which is composed and wise. His brown eye is exceedingly kindly and gentle. A child would like to sit in his lap and a dog would sidle up to him. It is difficult to associate his personality and this impression of kindness and gentle simplicity with what has occurred here in connection with these purges and shootings of the Red Army generals, and so forth. His friends say, and Ambassador Troyanovsky assures me, that it had to be done to protect themselves against Germany–and that someday the outside world will know “their side.”
Davies, Joseph E. Mission to Moscow. New York, N. Y.: Simon and Schuster, c1941, p. 356

[At the Feb. March 1937 Plenum Stalin stated], Then the question has to be asked as to where and how the present enemies have the influence? Their strength is that they hold the party card in their hands, thus giving them the respectability to do their dirty work… doors open into our most important governmental posts.
They completely worm themselves into favor, becoming more patriotic than the best dedicated communist; they heap slavish praise upon the leadership in every section that they are in. They thus were able to get the top government secrets and thus, give them to foreign enemy powers. Thus, they were easily enmeshed in foreign secret services. Our mistakes are that we did not try earlier to unmask these enemies, thus weakening our fight against these present-day enemies.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 235

…sometime in January the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, after accusing Ukraine of deliberately sabotaging the fulfillment of grain quotas, had sent Postyshev, a sadistically cruel Russian chauvinist, as its viceroy to Ukraine….
As we listened to these harangues, we often thought that perhaps there was hidden sabotage at work to discredit the Communist Party.
Dolot, Miron. Execution by Hunger. New York: W.W. Norton, c1985, p. 210-211


It had so happened that earlier, while working in Moscow, I’d once asked that Lukashov be sent to Poland and Lithuania to purchase onion seeds and vegetables. When he was arrested, he was pressured to testify that his trade mission to Poland had actually been a secret political assignment to establish contacts with anti-Soviet organizations abroad. He refused to confess and was released–a rare thing. I told Stalin about the episode.
“Yes,” he said, “I know what you mean; there are these kinds of perversions. They’re gathering evidence against me, too.”
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 108

I was astounded also to discover that Molotov had my uncle’s personal secretariat so honeycombed with his own spies that he knew everything that went on in Stalin’s entourage, and even more amazed to learn that the GPU kept even Stalin under surveillance.
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 70

“Good day, Budu,” he [Stalin] said. “You see I’ve succeeded in getting your articles. I read them carefully. You’re quite right. There’s nothing anti-Marxist in them at all. I’m going to talk to Molotov about it.”
I told him why I had come to see him and about all the difficulties that had been put in my way. His face turned a pale gray from rage. He was beside himself.
“I won’t stand for anyone intercepting Nadia’s letters or phone calls,” he exploded. “She’s my wife. I guarantee her. The GPU has no business interfering with her!”
He picked up the telephone and called Dzerzhinsky.
“Felix Dzerzhinsky,” he said, when the GPU president answered, “will you come over to my apartment at once?”
He hung up and turned back to me.
“You stay, Budu,” he directed me. “We’re going to have this out.”
Dzerzhinsky arrived 15 minutes later. His face was twisted and lined with deep wrinkles. Dark circles surrounded his eyes. It was not difficult to see that the illness which had long beset him was getting worse.
He greeted me in a friendly fashion.
“Look here, Felix,” Stalin attacked, “your organization is going a little too far. My nephew here, Budu Svanidze, was called in by Artuzov for a strictly personal matter which concerns me alone. In the future, I want the GPU to keep its nose out of my private affairs.”
“What happened?” Dzerzhinsky asked.
“The GPU has been intercepting phone calls and opening letters addressed to us here.”
Dzerzhinsky became very serious.
“There must be some mistake, Comrade Stalin. There is an order of the Politburo covering that point. Letters addressed to members of the Politburo are never opened.”
“Let’s get it quite straight,” Stalin said. “I’m not speaking only of letters addressed to me personally. I do not want any surveillance of Comrade Alliluyeva [Stalin’s wife] and I do not want any discussions at the GPU concerning my conversations with my nephew. Make that clear to Artuzov.”
Dzerzhinsky promised that there would be no repetition of the offense. He stayed for a few moments longer, talking with my uncle, and then left after taking a cup of tea, which my aunt offered him.
When he had gone, Stalin said to me, “You see how it is, Budu, the GPU is becoming all-powerful. They don’t want to let anyone alone.”
I knew that Dzerzhinsky, who was an old member of the Party, affected an attitude of complete independence toward the Politburo. But I hadn’t dreamed up to now that the GPU would dare to spy on the secretary-general of the Party.
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 77

Ordjonikidze himself was being increasingly harassed. Police officers arrived at Ordjonikidze’s flat with a search warrant. Humiliated and frantic with rage, he spent the rest of the night trying to get through to Stalin on the telephone. As morning came he finally got through and heard the answer [from Stalin]. “It is the sort of organ that is even liable to search my place. That is nothing extraordinary….”
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 168

It is unclear whether the “neighbors” had been tapping Koba’s telephone on their own initiative or with the permission of Mekhlis.
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 217

While Ordjonikidze was at the Commissariat, a search was conducted of his apartment. When he found out about this, Ordjonikidze immediately telephoned Stalin and expressed his indignation. Stalin said in reply: “It’s such an organ, that it might carry out a search at my place. Nothing to get upset about….”
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 194

These few examples reveal the GPU’s in method of operation. The system was similar in the control organ of the party. In the Fourth Section of the army it was considerably different because most of the staff was salaried. But there, too, the same system of investigating and spying reached everywhere. Nobody was spared, not even Stalin: there was a dossier on him, too.
Tuominen, Arvo, The Bells of the Kremlin: Hanover: University Press of New England, 1983, p. 184


It is no more than just to observe the Stalin was patient and acted slowly. Against those who wanted to execute Trotsky he urged exile, then banishment from the country. When Zinoviev and Kamenev committed acts which according to both Communist Party rules and Soviet law were treason, they were permitted to make repeated pledges to change their ways and given positions of some responsibility. Their pledges were found to be insincere. Their word of “honor” was continually violated.
Then, on December 1, 1934, Stalin received a wire that Kirov had been murdered. Stalin’s patience was exhausted.
Stalin’s attitude can be determined from statements he had made earlier. In reply to a question from the German writer Emil Ludwig as to why he was governing with such severity, Stalin had said that it was because they had been too lenient at certain times. He cited the fact that when General Krasnov marched on Leningrad and was arrested, his action merited death. But the Bolsheviks gave the General freedom on his pledged word that he would not take up arms again. He promptly went over to the counter-revolution. “It became clear,” Stalin said, “that with this policy we were undermining the very system we were endeavoring to construct.”
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 28

If one leaves rumor and gossip aside, one finds numerous signs that Stalin favored what the Old Bolshevik would have called liberal policies. Indeed, as one scholar has recently shown, Stalin had identified himself with more relaxed social and educational policies as early as 1931. Stalin made conciliatory gestures to the “bourgeois specialists” and relaxed educational restrictions that had excluded sons and daughters of white-collar specialists. In May 1933, Stalin and Molotov ordered the release of half of all labor inmates whose infractions were connected with collectivization. The following summer, the political police (NKVD) were forbidden to pass death sentences without the sanction of the procurator of the USSR. The November 1934 plenum of the Central Committee abolished food rationing and approved new collective farm rules that guaranteed kolkhozniki the right to “private plots” and personal livestock.
Getty, A. Origins of the Great Purges. Cambridge, N. Y.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985, p. 94

As a member of the war council of the 32nd Army on the Western front, he [Zhilenkov] had been encircled and taken prisoner. As a time-server with no principles and suddenly finding himself among senior party officers, he soon became a collaborator. The same was true of another of Vlasov’s aides, Lt. Gen. Malyshkin, chief of staff 19th Army. He had been arrested in 1938 and released at the beginning of the war. When Beria reported on a number of generals who had been condemned and then released, Stalin wanted to know who had petitioned on Malyshkin’s behalf. He begrudged the time wasted on having to hear about all the traitors he had overlooked in the 1930s.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 446

One of the first decrees of the Council of Commissars abolished the death sentence, in spite of Lenin’s protests. The Cossack General Krasnov who marched on Petersburg to overthrow the Bolsheviks and disperse the Soviets was taken prisoner by the Red Guards and released on his solemn pledge that he would not resume the fight. Later Krasnov headed one of the White armies in southern Russia. It took time before the revolution, amid the gruelling experiences of civil war, wiped away its tears, ceased to trust the pledges of its foes, and learned to act with that fanatical determination which gave it some new and repulsive features, but to which it owed its survival. We shall soon find the ‘man of steel’ among those who weaned the revolution from its sensitive–or was it sentimental?–idealism.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 178

A few days later these Yunkers were released. A second time they were paroled and a second time they broke faith with their liberators–they went South and joined the White Guard Armies mobilizing against the Bolsheviks.
With like acts of treachery thousands of Whites repaid the Bolsheviks for their clemency. Over his own signature general Krasnov solemnly promised not to raise his hand against the Bolsheviks, and was released. Promptly he appeared in the Urals at the head of a Cossack army destroying the Soviets. Burtsev was liberated from Peter-Paul prison by order of the Bolsheviks. Straightway he joined the Counter-Revolutionists in Paris and became editor of a scurrilous anti-Bolshevik sheet. Thousands, who thus went forth to freedom by mercy of the Bolsheviks, were to come back later with invading armies to kill their liberators without ruth or mercy.
Surveying battalions of comrades slaughtered by the very men whom the Bolsheviks had freed, Trotsky said: “The chief crime of which we were guilty and those first days of the Revolution was excessive kindness.”
Williams, Albert. Through the Russian Revolution. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1967, p. 160

[In a talk with the German author Emil Ludwig on December 13, 1931 Stalin stated] When the Bolsheviks came to power they at first treated their enemies mildly. The Mensheviks continued to exist legally and publish their newspaper. The Socialist-Revolutionaries also continued to exist legally and had their newspaper. Even the Cadets continued to publish their newspaper. When General Krasnov organized his counter-revolutionary campaign against Leningrad and fell into our hands, we could at least have kept him prisoner, according to the rules of war. Indeed, we ought to have shot him. But we released him on his “word of honor.” And what happened? It soon became clear that such mildness only helped to undermine the strength of the Soviet Government. We made a mistake in displaying such mildness towards enemies of the working class. To have persisted in that mistake would have been a crime against the working class and a betrayal of its interests. That soon became quite apparent. Very soon it became evident that the milder our attitude towards our enemies, the greater their resistance. Before long the Right Socialist-Revolutionaries–Gotz and others–and the Right Mensheviks were organizing in Leningrad a counter-revolutionary action of the military cadets, as a result of which many of our revolutionary sailors perished. This very Krasnov, whom we had released on his “word of honor,” organized the whiteguard Cossacks. He joined forces with Mamontov and for two years waged an armed struggle against the Soviet Government. Very soon it turned out that behind the whiteguard generals stood the agents of the western capitalist states– France, Britain, American–and also Japan. We became convinced that we had made a mistake in displaying mildness. We learnt from the experience that the only way to deal with such enemies is to apply the most ruthless policy of suppression to them.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 13, p. 110

The period of increasing tolerance in Soviet history ended abruptly on December 1, 1934, when Kirov, the head of the Leningrad Party organization, and probably the second most influential party leader in the country, was assassinated at the Leningrad party headquarters by a discontented young party member.
Szymanski, Albert. Human Rights in the Soviet Union. London: Zed Books, 1984, p. 235


People talk about personally conducted tours under the Bolsheviks, but under Tsarism the secret police trailed me twenty-four hours a day, using three shifts.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 34


Churchill was socialism’s most outspoken opponent. He took such a dislike to communism that he did everything he could to set up barricades around the capitalist world, to organize it, and to position it against communism in hopes of reining in the socialist countries.
He did not just want to prevent the development of socialism; he did all he could to destroy it. Dulles picked up where Churchill left off.
Schecter, Jerrold. Trans & Ed. Khrushchev Remembers: the Glasnost Tapes. Boston: Little, Brown, c1990, p. 68

… in the days when the country was invaded by the armies of “14 states.” You will recall the threat of the notorious Churchill of an invasion by 14 states.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 291

… the inveterate Bolshevik-hater Winston Churchill (Chancellor of the Exchequer), was mounting a war against the USSR.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 280

Churchill had been the world’s loudest advocate of a crusade against Soviet Russia in the Civil War. He had referred to the Bolsheviks as baboons and had called for the October Revolution to be “strangled” in its cradle.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 462


Stalin was aggravated by such talk [Gottwald’s contention that the Czech CP had no internal enemies]. Inside our own circle, behind Gottwald’s back, Stalin called him “a blind man, a pussycat. Gottwald, what does he know? He argues that there are no enemies inside his party. That cannot be!”
Schecter, Jerrold. Trans & Ed. Khrushchev Remembers: the Glasnost Tapes. Boston: Little, Brown, c1990, p. 132

As soon as our advisers arrived in Czechoslovakia, we started to get material on individual leaders….
Then material started to come in on Rudolf Slansky and other leaders of the Czech Communist party. They turned him into an enemy of the people. I do know how long it took, but not long, once Stalin got negative material on him. Stalin was triumphant because he had been proven right. He said he had sensed Slansky’s real nature all along. Gottwald, who had assured Stalin that he had no enemies within the party leadership, really had turned out to be a pussycat, and a blind man who could not see what his enemies were doing right under his nose. Gottwald, as they say, threw in the towel.
Schecter, Jerrold. Trans & Ed. Khrushchev Remembers: the Glasnost Tapes. Boston: Little, Brown, c1990, p. 133

Yes, Gorbachev would spit on Stalin–but carefully.
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York: Random House, c1993, p. 49


…The tendency since the abolition of the Cheka has, however, been toward restricted powers and activity–a tendency broken now and then by the pressure of some foreign threat of attack on the Soviet regime, or some internal crisis….
…The terror in Russia is and has been almost directly in proportion to hostile foreign movements against the Soviet state. Fear of intervention from without or of counter-revolutionary activity within have dictated its severity.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 195

But it is most probable also that terrorism by the Soviet political police would in the absence of foreign pressure have been vastly reduced–certainly to a point at which the word “terror” could not fairly be applied.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 196

To be sure, some signs of political liberalization did appear in the mid-1930s.
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 101

[When] the level of tolerance and repression of those who oppose the Soviet socialist system is carefully compared with the history of repression of those who have opposed the dominant institutions of U.S. society over the 200 years of U.S. history, …[one] concludes that there is no qualitative difference between the two types of societies in this respect. The states of both the USSR and the USA have always done whatever was necessary to preserve their dominant system of property. Periods of increased repression in both countries have corresponded to the degree of the threat to the dominant class, while periods of tolerance have corresponded to periods of latency of opposition movements.
Szymanski, Albert. Human Rights in the Soviet Union. London: Zed Books, 1984, p. 29


[Zhdanov] frankly declared “…There were numerous cases of hostile elements who had wormed their way into the party, taking advantage of the purges to persecute and ruin honest people. There is no necessity for the method of the mass purge.”
Snow, Edgar. The Pattern of Soviet Power, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 179


Shkiriatov said at the Central Committee plenum of Jan. 7-12, 1933,
“Regarding the leader of our party, Comrade Stalin–what means did they employ in their struggle against Comrade Stalin? According to Comrade Nikolsky’s statement, they said that they were prepared to remove Comrade Stalin, whereas in their testimony, Eismont and others tried to replace one word with another: they had spoken not of “removing” but of “dismissing” him. But we know what a discussion about “dismissing” the leader of the party could mean. We hold congresses, we hold plenum sessions, but as you can see, there is no question here of “dismissal” at a congress. Instead, discussions are carried on about “dismissal” in other ways. Anyone who has the slightest understanding in this matter knows by what methods Smirnov and others had planned to attempt this “dismissal.” And indeed Eismont doesn’t deny in his testimony that he had spoken with Smirnov about this. He said that “he must be dismissed.” We, on the other hand, consider, that all of these words–change, dismiss, remove–are one and the same thing, that there is no difference whatsoever between them. In our opinion it all amounts to violent dismissal.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 84

Rudzutak said the following at the Central Committee plenum of Jan. 7-12 1933, “Smirnov…maintains that he never said that it was necessary to remove Stalin while all his friends in the group assert that these discussions did take place.”
“In the materials given to you there is testimony by Poponin, whom Eismont had tried to recruit, seeking to convince him that the present leadership is leading the party and country to ruin, that it was necessary to replace the leadership, to replace General Secretary Stalin. In this exchange of theirs, they discussed and “selected” possible candidates who might be able to replace Comrade Stalin. Moreover, Eismont asked Poponin: “Couldn’t you, as a former military man, be of some use to us?” What does it mean when the question of replacing the leadership is discussed, when the question of electing candidates is discussed? What does it mean when the question “Couldn’t you, as a former military man, be of some use to us?” is posed? Does this not testify to the fact that this is a real organization, openly set against the party and calculating on the use of violent measures, an organization that had been checking up on the sentiments of military officials toward Comrade Stalin? In any case, we can consider it an established fact that the preparation for the implementation of this counter-revolutionary venture had commenced, and that Eismont had begun to seek out military officials appropriate for it….
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 91

At the January 1933 plenum, too, the last of the new cycle of plots was exposed. The distinguished Old Bolshevik A.P. Smirnov, Party member since 1896 and formerly member of the Central Committee’s “Orgburo,” was charged with two other Old Bolsheviks, Eismont and Tolmachev (members since 1907 and 1904, respectively), with forming an anti-Party group.
A. P. Smirnov’s group is said to have had contact with Old Bolshevik workers, mainly in the trade unions, in Moscow, Leningrad, and other cities. Realizing that no legal methods could break Stalin’s grip, they had to a large degree gone underground, with a view to organizing for a struggle. Their programs seems to have covered the revision of the unbalanced industrial schemes, the dissolution of most of the kolkhozes, the subjection of the OGPU to Party control, and the independence of the trade unions. Above all, they had discussed the removal of Stalin. When taxed at the plenum Eismont said, “Yes, there were such conversations among us. A. P. Smirnov started them.” Unlike Ryutin and his friends, none of the three had had any connection with the Trotskyite or Rightist oppositions. The exposure of this plot was described in the Khrushchev era as “the beginning of reprisals against the old Leninist cadres.”
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 26


[The June 6, 1935 speech of Yezhov to the Central Committee plenum]
For the party and country, the murder of Comrade Kirov is the most poignant political event of the past decade.
…These facts show that during the investigation of the circumstances surrounding the murder of Comrade Kirov in Leningrad, the role of Zinoviev, Kamenev, and Trotsky in the preparation of terroristic acts against the leaders of the party and Soviet state has not yet been fully revealed. The latest events show that they were not only the instigators but in fact the active organizers of the murder of Comrade Kirov, as well as of the attempt on the life of Comrade Stalin that was being prepared within the Kremlin.
Soon after the murder of Comrade Kirov, a new network of Zinovievist-Kamenevist and Trotskyist-white guard terrorist cells was uncovered.
What makes this so grave is that several of these terrorist groups were uncovered in the Kremlin itself.
The entire country, all of us, considered the Kremlin to be the most well defended, the most inaccessible and inviolate territory, where the protection of our leaders is properly secured. But in fact the very opposite turned out to be the case. Thanks to the total blunting of political and classic vigilance of many Communists holding responsible positions in the Central Executive Committee of the USSR and, first and foremost, Comrade Yenukidze, the class enemy has succeeded in organizing terrorist cells within immediate range of the headquarters of our revolution. As you will see from the facts that shall be presented to you, this blunting of political and class vigilance nearly cost Comrade Stalin his life and borders on treason against the interests of party and country.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 162

…Comrade Yenukidze was in fact responsible for all order in the Kremlin, including its security.
The investigation conducted by the NKVD revealed five terroristic groups that were connected with one another yet acting independently of one another.
Two groups were organized within the Kremlin and three outside the Kremlin. They all set as their chief task the murder of Comrade Stalin….
Utilizing their time-tested tactics of double dealing, Zinoviev and Kamenev took all measures to evade responsibility for the murder of Comrade Kirov and for preparations of an attempt on the life of Comrade Stalin.
Only under the pressure of absolutely indisputable facts, as expressed in the depositions of dozens of their closest supporters, were they forced to acknowledge their “political and moral” responsibility for this whole affair. Nevertheless, they continue obstinately to deny their direct participation in organizing these terroristic groups….
In his deposition, Kamenev says the following:
“My counter-revolutionary conversations with Zinoviev promoted the creation of an atmosphere of embitterment against Stalin. Consequently, this might have created a situation justifying terror as regards Stalin much as Kerensky created a situation for carrying out violence against Lenin. I confess that I have committed a grave crime against the party and against the Soviet state. My counterrevolutionary actions and those of Zinoviev not only created an atmosphere of malice and hatred toward Stalin. They also served to incite the counter-revolutionaries to acts of terrorism. There is no doubt now in my mind that Rosenfeld perceived our attacks and slander on Stalin as a program of terror. I take responsibility for the fact that, as a result of the situation created by Zinoviev and me and as a result of our counter-revolutionary actions, a counter-revolutionary organization has arisen whose participants were intent on perpetrating the vilest crime of all: the murder of Stalin.”
I believe that it is difficult to expect Kamenev, in his position, to confess to any more than that. But there is no need for any more confessions on his part. The investigators have at their disposal an absolutely sufficient quality of facts that prove direct participation by Kamenev and Zinoviev in the organizing of terroristic groups, facts that follow fully from the policies of their own programs, which they issued to their supporters in their struggle against the party and government.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 163

[Yezhov continues], These facts and ideological positions show that Zinoviev, Kamenev, and Trotsky, embittered by the successes of the Revolution, have, in their hopeless attempt to make their way into the leadership of the party and country, slid down definitively into the mire of the White emigre world and have advanced to the most extreme forms of struggle–namely, terror.
These facts now show that the murder of Comrade Kirov was organized by Zinoviev and Kamenev and that it constitutes only one link in a chain of terroristic plans of the Zinovievist-Kamenevist and Trotskyist groups.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 165

Making reference to a personal assignment from Stalin, Yezhov announced that he would “get rid of all of that scum which the revolution and the Civil War had sent sloshing into the organs of state security. People who have come from the Central Committee Orgburo will sweep out all that grime with an iron broom.”
Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 30

Yezhov received me very courteously in his office. It was adorned with a large Kherossan carpet… stained in places. Yezhov is said to have shot several people in his office…. He shook my hand. He said Stalin had confidence in me… then he added that there were “enemies of the people” in the Narkomindel as well as in other Commissariats…. I tried to find out who were these “enemies of the people”…. He smiled enigmatically and then said, “You know, even Stalin does not expect to be notified of the names of persons to be arrested…. The technique of our work does not permit this…. Complete and unconditional secrecy is essential….
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 256


[From Yezhov’s September 25th, 1935 report to a conference of regional party secretaries]
Please permit me, comrades, at this time, to briefly dwell on certain matters which have become very important today. The first matter concerns the expulsion of Trotskyists.
One thing is clear beyond dispute: it seems to me that Trotskyists undoubtedly have a center somewhere in the USSR. It is impossible for a Trotskyist center from abroad, located relatively far from the USSR and poorly informed about our conditions–it is impossible, I say, for it to direct with such detail those Trotskyist organizations which have unfortunately held out in our country and which, we believed, had been crushed.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 200

[Yezhov continues] Everywhere the same methods are practiced by Trotskyists who have held out in our party. Trotskyists try at all costs to remain in the party. They strive by every device to infiltrate the party. Their first device is to remain at all costs in the party, to give voice everywhere to the general line, to speak out everywhere in its favor while in fact carrying on their subversive work. But nevertheless, it sometimes happens that a Trotskyist slips up and is caught, is expelled from the party, in which case he takes all measures to run off with his party card. He always has in reserve a registration card, approaches another organization and is registered. Such people are expelled three or four or even five times each. They move from one organization to another–we have quite a few people like that. Trotskyists try at all costs to keep their party card….
Their second device is not to carry out their work in the party. They do not, as a rule, carry on party work at all. They focus their attention on working among nonparty people….
Above all, Trotskyists strive to infuse the nonparty people with the spirit of Trotskyism….
Foreign intelligence officers, saboteurs, knew that there is no better cover for their espionage and subversive operations than a party card, and they relied on that fact. For this reason, it is necessary to hide behind a party card at whatever cost. And they utilized every means of deception in order to obtain a party card for a spy or for a saboteur. We can assert firmly that Poles, Finns, Czechs, and Germans have been openly gambling on this….
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 201


[Dec. 29, 1935 NKVD report on Trotskyists]
…Adhering to his Trotskyist convictions, Pukat attempted to leave the Soviet Union with the assistance of the Latvian Embassy in Moscow in order to continue his struggle against the party under the direct leadership of Trotsky.
According to his own testimony, Pukat was recruited in 1930 by the secretary of the Latvian Embassy, who entrusted him on one of his visits to the embassy with gathering material of an espionage character concerning enterprises in the city of Kostroma….
“…I discussed my departure for Latvia with the secretary of the Latvian mission, who, in the course of my conversation, inquired what kind of industry was to be found in Kostroma. After my explanation, he proposed that I prove my devotion to Latvia and earn my entry permit by gathering material of an espionage character. I agreed to this and, upon returning to Kostroma, I recruited my sister Anna Pukat, who joined me in my espionage activities at the Banner of Labor factory, where she was working. I also recruited Emma Mashen, who was working at the Lenta [machine-gun ribbon] factory as an industrial quality inspector, as well as Marov, a metal worker at the Rabochy metallist factory. I gave information to the Latvian mission concerning: the quality of machine gun ribbons produced by the Lenta factory, concerning the [energy] capacity of the boilers at the Znamia Truda factory, and the blueprint of the Rabochy metallist factory, which I stole from Dadze, the head of construction.
The information which I obtained was carried by my mother Anna Yanovna Pukat to the Latvian mission. On the other hand, I myself carried the blueprint of the Rabochy metallist factory [to the Latvian mission] in May of 1935.”
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 202


[Plenum of the Azov-Black Sea Territorial Party Committee, “On the verification of party documents”]
The Central Committee letter concerning the murder of Comrade Kirov was a most important Party document in mobilizing Bolshevik vigilance:
“We must put an end to the opportunistic complacency that issues from a mistaken assumption that, as our strength increases, the enemy grows more tame and harmless.
“Such an assumption is fundamentally wrong. It is a throwback to the rightist deviation, which had tried to assure one and all that our enemies will crawl quietly into socialism, that in the end they will become true socialists….
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 208

Bukharin wanted us to act with greater determination. We were to snatch the initiative from the hands of the Stalin-Molotov-Kirov triumvirate. We should stimulate the younger generation of workers and peasants into a movement of opposition.
Tokaev, Grigori. Betrayal of an Ideal. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1955, p. 2

In a word, things were going fine. The Soviet Union was building a new life on its own surrounded by hostile capitalist states whose intelligence services spared no means or effort to interfere with the Soviet people’s work. Our state and army were gathering strength from year to year; the ways of economic and political progress were clearly defined,…
Zhukov, Georgii. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 142


We should add that the rather large group of Trotskyists in Sverdlovsk was in fact directed by Japanese intelligence through Knyazev, formerly head of Japanese intelligence [in Sverdlovsk]…
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 305


At any rate, people not only discussed the question of terror. They also concretely prepared for it. At any rate, many attempts were made to carry out terrorist acts of assassination. In particular, the Azov-Black Sea counter-revolutionary terrorist group headed by Beloborodov assigned a group under the direction of a certain Dukat from the Trotskyists, who tried to hunt down Comrade Stalin in Sochi. Beloborodov gave instructions to Dukat so that the latter would take advantage of Comrade Stalin’s stay in Sochi on his vacation, so that he could find a propitious moment to carry out his assassination. When Dukat failed in his attempt, Beloborodov vilified him in every way possible for failing to organize this business.
In Western Siberia, there were direct attempts to organize an assassination attempt against Comrade Molotov, in the Urals against Comrade Kaganovich….
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 305


[Sheboldaev’s Jan. 6, 1937 speech to the plenum of the Azov-Black Sea Territorial Committee]
… Comrades, I consider the decision of the Central App to be absolutely correct. I consider the criticism and the party sanctions levied against me personally by the Central Committee to be, in my opinion, very lenient–because of the enormous harm caused by me as a result of the activities of these Trotskyists, who occupied the most critical posts, because of the undermining of trust toward the territorial committee of the party brought on by this entire affair. All of this has caused enormous damage to the party organization.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 343


[Letter from Shcherbakov in Irkutsk to Zhdanov on June 18th 1937]
I consider it necessary to inform you of the following fact:…. The united Trotskyist-“rightist,” counter-revolutionary organization has been in existence here since 1930-31. At first this organization was led by Leonov, then by Razumov, so that, notwithstanding further materials, Snegov ought to be removed from his post because Murmansk is too crucial an area. The situation in East Siberia appears to be the same as in Sverdlovsk or in Rostov or perhaps even worse. The party and soviet leadership was entirely in the hands of enemies.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 456

[Aug. 3d 1937 letter by Stalin on agricultural trials]
The Central Committee of the Communist Party orders the regional committees, the territorial committees, and the central committees of the national Communist parties to organize, in each district of each region, two or three public show trials of enemies of the people–agricultural saboteurs who have wormed their way into district party, soviet, and agricultural organs. These trials should be covered in their entirety by the local press.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 457

[Postyshev’s speech to the January 1938 Central Committee plenum]
POSTYSHEV:…The Soviet and Party leadership were in enemy hands, from the regional leadership at the top to the district leadership at the bottom.
MIKOYAN: All of it? From top to bottom?
POSTYSHEV: The entire district leadership…. According to my count, [the regional leadership] was riddled with enemies for 12 years. The same holds true for the Soviet leadership–it too was in enemy hands. These leaders selected their own cadres. For example, our regional executive committee was infiltrated right down to the level of technicians by the most inveterate enemies, who had confessed their sabotage and who conduct themselves [even now] in a brazen manner. Everyone, from the chairman of the regional executive committee down, including his deputy, his consultants, and his secretaries–all of them are enemies. All of the departments of the executive committee were contaminated by enemies…. Now look at the departments having to do with trade: There were enemies there, too, who promoted their supporters, who appointed them to positions everywhere.
BULGANIN: Weren’t there any honest people there?!
POSTYSHEV: Of course there were.
BULGANIN: It looks like there wasn’t a single honest person there.
POSTYSHEV: I’m speaking of the top leadership. There was hardly a single honest man, as it turned out, among the top leaders, which includes the secretaries of the district committees and the chairmen of the district executive committees. What’s so amazing about it?
MOLOTOV: Aren’t you exaggerating, Comrade Postyshev?
POSTYSHEV: No, I’m not exaggerating. Take, for example, the leadership of the regional executive committee. The evidence is there, these people are under arrest, and they have confessed. They themselves have given testimony of their activities as spies and enemies.
MOLOTOV: This evidence must be checked and verified.
POSTYSHEV: This happened quite simply as follows: Shubrikov and Levin planted many of the enemy cadres from the center. Just look around you and see how many of our people turned out to be enemies. Levin promoted all the heads of the political sections to the positions of secretaries. And the majority of them turned out to be enemies. Take the secretary of the Ulianovsk City Committee, a Red professor, an inveterate enemy. The same for the secretary of the Syzran City Committee, a Red professor, also an inveterate enemy….
KAGANOVICH: You shouldn’t justify yourself by saying that they were all scoundrels.
POSTYSHEV: I never said all of them; I’m not so completely insane as to call everyone an enemy of the people. I never said that, I spoke only of the leadership of many of the district committees….
I repeat, I’m speaking of the leadership. The regional leadership turned out to be all in enemy hands–both the soviet and party leadership….
I ask you to check and verify whether the secretaries of the district committees were rightly or wrongly expelled. It is possible that there are mistakes here, but it seemed to us that they were rightfully expelled. The majority of them turned out to be enemies. This can be verified. They have confessed….
MALENKOV: What right did you have, Comrade Postyshev, to place the entire membership of the district committees of the party under the shadow of suspicion and political doubt?…
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 503-506


[Oct. second 1937 Politburo decision on sabotage of livestock]
On the basis of investigative materials furnished by the NKVD of the USSR, it has been established that the subversive actions of enemies of the people in regions have taken an especially vicious form of sabotage and wrecking as it pertains to the development of animal husbandry. These actions have taken the form:
a) Of carrying on acts of bacteriological subversion by infecting cattle, horses, herds of sheep, and swine with plague, foot-and-mouth disease, anthrax, brucellosis, anemia, and other epidemic diseases.
b) Of undermining the work of supplying districts afflicted by epizootic with medications and disinfectants and by sabotage of biological factories producing serum.
c) Of sabotaging by contracting the sowing acreage of fodder cultures with the aim of narrowing the food base.
A significant number of veterinarians, zoological technicians, laboratory assistants of biological factories have been arrested for sabotage in the field of animal husbandry. As a matter of fact, it was they who organized the dissemination of infectious diseases leading to the death en mass of the livestock.
As a result of sabotage carried out in the sphere of animal husbandry, members of kolkhozy lost several hundred thousand head of cattle and horses this past year, not to mention small livestock.
With the aim of protecting the kolkhozy and sovkhozy from the sabotage of enemies of the people, the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR and the Central Committee of the Communist Party have decided to crush and annihilate the cadres of wreckers in the field of animal husbandry.
The Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR and the Central Committee of the Communist Party place all secretaries of regional committees, the Central Committees of the national Communist parties, all republic chairmen of councils of people’s commissars, and all chairmen of executive committees of regions under the obligation of organizing forthwith show trials for saboteurs in the sphere of animal husbandry, keeping in mind both unmasked veterinarians, zoological technicians, and laboratory assistants of biological factories, as well as officials of local land and sovkhoz departments.
With this aim in mind the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR and the Central Committee of the Communist Party propose that 3 to 6 open show trials be organized in each republic and region, that the broad masses of peasants be involved in them, and that the trials be widely covered in the press.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 459


[Yezhov’s November 23rd, 1938 letter of resignation to Stalin]
Investigative work has also suffered from a host of major deficiencies. The main thing is that investigations of the most important detainees were conducted by conspirators in the NKVD who had not as yet been unmasked and who succeeded thereby in putting a stop to the development of the investigative case, in strangling it at the outset, and, most importantly, in concealing their co-conspirators in the Cheka.
The area in the NKVD that was most neglected turned out to be that dealing with the cadres. Instead of taking into consideration that the conspirators in the NKVD and the foreign intelligence agencies connected with them had succeeded in recruiting during the past decade–at a minimum–not only the upper echelons of the Cheka but also the middle echelons and often also officials on the lower echelons, I was content with the fact that I had crushed the upper echelons and some of the most compromised officials of the middle echelons. Many of those who were recently promoted, as has now become clear, are also secret agents and conspirators.
It is clear that I must bear responsibility for all this.
3. My most serious neglect had to do with the situation, now brought to light, in the department responsible for the security of members of the Central Committee and the Politburo.
First of all, a significant number of as yet unmasked conspirators and vile people who had worked under Pauker are still there.
Second, Kursky, who replaced Pauker and who shot himself to death afterward, and Dagin, who is now under arrest, have also turned out to be conspirators and have planted more than a few of their own people in the security service. I believed in the last two chiefs of the security service. I believed that they were honest people. I was mistaken and I must bear responsibility for this….
Third,…I was often mistaken in [my choice of] many employees. I recommended them to important posts, and now they have been exposed as spies.
Fourth, I am to blame for the fact that I manifested a careless attitude, totally unacceptable for a chekist, in the way I pursued the task of resolutely purging the department responsible for the security of members of the Central Committee and the Politburo. This carelessness is especially unforgivable as it applies to my dragging out the arrest of the conspirators in the Kremlin (Briukhanov and others).
Fifth, I am to blame for the fact that, being suspicious of the political integrity of such people as that traitor Liushkov, former head of the NKVD board for the Far Eastern region, and, recently, the traitor Uspensky, the people’s commissar of the Ukrainian SSR, I did not take sufficient, chekist preventive measures. I thereby made it possible for Liushkov to escape to Japan and for Uspensky to escape who knows where, and the search for him is still going on.
…Yet, despite all these great deficiencies and blunders in my work, I must say that, thanks to the leadership exercised daily by the Central Committee, the NKVD inflicted a crushing blow on its enemies.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 539


In order to explain some of these zigzags it is also sometimes suggested that Stalin liked to play a sadistic cat-and-mouse game with his victims. Aside from the fact that there are no sources supporting this conjecture, the basic notion is nonsense. It arose as a kind of post hoc explanation of contradictory initiatives that did not fit scholars’ assumptions about Stalin’s plans. No one can read the discourse of the Stalinists throughout the 1930s without sensing their nervousness, even frequent panic. This was not a time for play; these were serious matters in which lives were sacrificed to save a regime its leaders felt was hanging by a thread. Stalin evidently distrusted the NKVD until late 1936 and the army until mid-1937. It would have been insufferably stupid of him to play with elite lives in such circumstances, and no one has ever accused him of being stupid.
Alternatively, it is suggested that there was a group within the Stalinist elite who attempted to block Stalin’s plans for terror. This group is variously said to have included Kirov, Kuibyshev, Ordjonikidze, and Postyshev, and it has been claimed that their resistance to Stalin’s plan for terror forced the dictator to zig and zag to appease or fool them. We have already noted the lack of any documentary evidence for such a group. Rather we have seen time and again how the nomenklatura “we” closed ranks against “them” as soon as doubts arose about potential enemies. They voted as a unit without dissent. Kirov was certainly no softy in Leningrad, and we have texts from Kuibyshev that are equally firm against the opposition. Now that we have considerable evidence on Postyshev’s conduct and discourse, he becomes practically the last candidate for “rotten liberalism.” According to the leading expert, the rumored attempts by Ordzhonikidze to save his deputy Pyatakov still lack documentary support. There was no moderate block.

By accepting a priori that Stalin planned everything and that social and political relations played no role in the 1930s, even scholars who work very closely with documents have no choice but to explain zigzags as Stalinist game playing. Such an explanation is based on no documentary evidence and is weakened by the inability to find any traces of an anti-Stalin moderate faction.
…Stalin certainly had a drive constantly to prepare his positions and to increase his personal power and authority. But there is precious little evidence for a plan for terror…. We have seen several instances in which Stalin does not seem to have had the most radical or harsh attitude toward persecuting oppositionists…. On the other hand, Stalin’s “angelic patience” with the opposition (to use Mezhlauk’s words) can be explained in other ways. It could reflect genuine indecision at various points about how far and when to move against his purported opponents and threats.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 580-581

Ordjonikidze, the commissar of heavy industry after 1932, is often regarded as a moderate who was opposed to Stalin. Indeed, most of his public statements after 1932 were moderate in tone–as were Stalin’s…. He was in complete charge of heavy industry–the most important branch of the national economy–and it is inconceivable that Stalin would leave an opponent in such a position.
Getty, A. Origins of the Great Purges. Cambridge, N. Y.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985, p. 128

On the one hand, Stalin and his closest associates may already have been preparing for a major purge and attempting to set in place a series of decisions, personnel, and practices designed to facilitate a subsequent unleashing of terror. According to this explanation, the countervailing soft-line measures were the result of a liberal faction within the leadership that tried to block Stalin’s plans. Said to consist of Kirov, Kuibyshev, or Ordjonikidze, and others, this group would have favored a general relaxation of the dictatorship; now that capitalism and the hostile class forces had been defeated, there was no reason to maintain a high level of repression.
But the documents now available make this view untenable. There is little evidence for such a plan on Stalin’s part nor of the existence of a liberal faction within the Politburo. Above and beyond routine squabbles over turf or the technicalities of implementation, neither the public statements nor the documentary record shows any serious political disagreement within the Stalin group at this time.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 102

Kirov’s speech to the 1934 party congress, often taken as a sign of his liberalism, actually praised the secret police’s use of forced labor and ridiculed the opposition. The thunderous applause Kirov received is sometimes used to show that he was more popular than Stalin. But 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. Applause for him and his accomplishments in Leningrad was rare and only polite. Careful scrutiny of Kirov’s speeches and writings reveals 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.
[Footnote: The memoir of one of Kirov’s Leningrad co-workers can remember nothing from his experience with Kirov that suggests “liberal” opposition to Stalin.]
Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 45


…In 1932, after I had already been appointed chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, I went to Siberia to procure grain.
There, apparently, an attempt on my life was made. In a road accident we rolled over into a ditch.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 242


Past mistakes and losses of life had been great because we proved too trusting of individuals who could no longer be trusted. Their degeneration was already complete, and we got rid of them belatedly…. But why should those individuals have initially proceeded in one direction and then made a U-turn to march in the opposite direction? Personal ambition would be something petty and narrow. The trouble was that they no longer believed; they had lost all faith in the cause and consequently had to seek a way out. But only implacable enemies of Soviet power could point to another way out. Either I defend the October Revolution or I am against it and look for allies among its enemies.
You see, it’s never easy when you must grapple with difficulties. Not everyone has sufficient stamina for it. But the party keeps moving forward. It keeps advancing. The opposition desperately looked for a crack in which to hide. No way. You are known by the public. You are Trotsky, you are Bukharin. You feel you are supposed to say what you have always said. They repeated their past affirmations of faith, but down deep they no longer believed in the cause. Here you have what turned them into such spineless creatures in the end….
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 266-267

In the Politburo itself were people who did not believe in our cause. Rykov, for example. And Zinoviev, too.
…The kulak mentality can still be seen today, and on a grand scale, too. Party members defend the kulaks! “They’re hard workers…” some argue. Many writers say such things. Complete blockheads!
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 269


CHUEV: Why were the repressions extended to wives and children?
MOLOTOV: What do you mean, why? They had to be isolated somehow. Otherwise they would have served as conduits of all kinds of complaints. And a certain amount of demoralization. That’s a fact, definitely. That was evident at the time….
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 277


In his writings published abroad he implied–and in his letters to partisans in the USSR explicitly ordered–that now the struggle against the party should resort to all means up to and including terror and wrecking within the country, and dirty, traitorous political deals with governments of bourgeois states, including Hitlerite Germany. Trotsky and others maintained ties with the intelligence services of bourgeois countries with a view to speeding up an armed attack on the USSR by the aggressive imperialist nations.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 288


Trotsky and his followers were a significant challenge to the Soviet Union, competing with us to be the vanguard of the world Communist revolution. Beria suggested I should be put in charge of all anti-Trotskyite NKVD operations so as to inflict the decisive blow on the headquarters of the movement….
Then Stalin stiffened, as if giving an order, and said, “Trotsky should be eliminated within a year, before war inevitably breaks out. Without the elimination of Trotsky, as the Spanish experience shows, when the imperialists attack the Soviet Union we cannot rely on our allies in the international Communist movement. They will face great difficulties in fulfilling their international duty to de-stabilize the rear of our enemies by sabotage operations and guerrilla warfare if they have to deal with treacherous infiltrations by Trotskyites in their ranks.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 67

Contrary to what was later written by General Volkogonov, who was not in the room that night, Stalin did not rage over the failure of the assassination attempt. If he was angry, he masked it in his determination to proceed with the elimination of Trotsky. Certainly, he was displeased that the attempt had been botched, but he appeared to be patient and prepared to play for higher stakes, putting his whole agent network on the line in a final effort to rid himself of Trotsky.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 77

Stalin and Trotsky opposed each other, resorting to criminal methods to achieve their ends. The main difference was that during his exile abroad Trotsky opposed not only Stalin, but also the Soviet Union. This confrontation was a state of war that had to be resolved through victory or death. There was no way for Stalin to treat Trotsky in exile as merely a writer of philosophical books; Trotsky was an active enemy who had to be destroyed.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 81


Trotsky’s son, Sedov, who took his mother’s name, was closely watched by our agents. He was the chief organizer of the Trotskyite movement in the 1930s after he left Turkey and moved to Paris in 1933. We used two independent networks. One was headed by Mark Zborowski,… Volkogonov, however, claims in his biography of Trotsky that Zborowski arranged the smuggling and also helped to kill Sedov in a French hospital, where he died in February 1938 under mysterious circumstances after his appendix was removed.
Sedov definitely died in Paris, but I found no evidence in his file or in the file of the Trotskyite international that he was assassinated. If that were the case, somebody would have been decorated or claimed the honor. At the time, there were accusations that heads of intelligence were taking false credit for elimination of Trotskyites, but no details or examples were provided. The conventional wisdom is that Sedov’s death resulted from an NKVD liquidation operation. In fact the record shows that Shpigelglas reported Sedov’s death from natural causes to Yezhov, who commented: “A good operation. We did a good job on him, didn’t we?” Shpigelglas was not about to argue with Yezhov, who tried to take credit for Sedov’s death when reporting it to Stalin. This contributed to the belief that the NKVD did away with Sedov.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 82

When Eitingon and I discussed with Beria the plan to eliminate Trotsky the death of Sedov was never raised. It is easy to assume that Sedov was assassinated, but I do not believe that to be the case, and the reason is very simple. He was so closely watched by us and trusted by Trotsky that his presence in Paris kept us informed about Trotskyite plans to smuggle agents and propaganda materials to the Soviet Union via Europe. His liquidation would have lost us control over information about Trotskyite operations in Europe.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 83

Sedov’s operation was successful and for a few days he seemed to be making a normal recovery. Then he had a sudden relapse which baffled his doctors. Despite repeated blood transfusions, he died in great pain on Feb. 16 at the age of only 32. The contemporary files contain no proof that the NKVD was responsible for his death.
Andrew and Mitrokhin. The Sword and the Shield (Pt 1). New York: Basic Books, c1999, p. 75

On the night of 13 February 1938 he [Lyova, Trotsky’s son] was seen wandering half-naked and delirious through corridors and wards, which for some reason were unattended and unguarded. He was raving in Russian…. Another operation was carried out urgently, but it brought no improvement. The patient suffered terrible agony, and the doctors tried to save him by repeated blood transfusions. It was in vain. On 16 February in 1938 he died at the age of 32.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 396

This was the third time he was mourning a child; and each time there was greater remorse in the mourning. After Nina’s death, in 1928, he reproached himself for not having done enough to comfort her and not even having written to her in her last weeks. Zina was estranged from him [Trotsky] when she killed herself; and now Lyova had met his doom at the post where he had urged him to hold out.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 398

Much later, in 1939, a message of dubious trustworthiness, which reached Trotsky through an American journalist, claimed that Sergei had still been alive late in 1938; but after that nothing more was heard about him.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 402


Vyshinsky, clearly distressed, was relieved by my final remark: “But Comrade Stalin personally ordered the NKVD not to track down Orlov or persecute members of his family.”
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 231


Despite my rehabilitation, my medals have not been returned to me; let no one forget that I, too, have been a victim of political repression. [But not by Stalin]
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 431


The Bolsheviks have always prided themselves upon their dialectic materialism, that is, upon an unbiased logical interpretation of facts…. Their logic told them that Nazi Germany would attack them, and that the preliminary stages of this attack would be an attempt to win the support of every doubtful, disgruntled, subversive, and disloyal element in the country. What more fertile soil could be found than the former Opposition, whose members combined personal hostility toward Stalin with the bitterness of defeat and the longing to regain lost power?
All this may sound complicated and far-fetched, but in reality it is simple and true, and what is more, provides the only reasonable explanation of what happened in Russia. The Bolsheviks were caught by their own logic. Once they assumed, as they did assume–rightly, as history showed–that the Nazis would attack them, it followed that there would be a German finger in every treasonable pie, large or small, cooked in Russia. If this wasn’t immediately obvious, as in the Kirov case, it must be sought for and found. On that principle they proceeded, and found it because it was there. When Stalin and associates believed in 1933-35 that Hitler planned to attack them and would use the former Opposition or any other anti-Kremlin forces to further his ends, they were working to some extent on an hypothesis. As time went on this hypothesis, which as I have said was already a logical conviction to them, was confirmed by fact after fact,…
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 215


If the Bukharinites were to seriously oppose the Party program, if they really felt the program would destroy socialism by its economic policy and bureaucratic administration, they had to organize and act. Appeals to the Party and the workers had gotten them nowhere and the Bukharinites were, in fact, a comparatively small and isolated group. Therefore the only course open to them was one of fomenting rebellion–especially among the richer peasants–sabotage, wrecking, assassination, and terrorism. As they turned from a political group into a conspiracy, Bukharin testified, moral and psychological disintegration began….
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 68

Terrorism is a policy inconsistent with true Marxism; it is the last refuge of leaders without followers. The Opposition leaders had waited with Marxist patience for the outburst of the masses. When this not only did not take place but receded into improbability, the removal of the Party leaders by terrorism, as was admitted by Smirnov and Radek, was a logical policy.
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 215


It was clear in 1936 to anyone who was carefully analyzing the class struggle on the international scale that Trotsky had degenerated to the point where he was a pawn of all sorts of anti-Communist forces. Full of himself, he assigned himself a planetary and historic role, more and more grandiose as the clique around him became insignificant. All his energy focused on one thing: the destruction of the Bolshevik Party, thereby allowing Trotsky and the Trotskyists to seize power.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 138 [p. 120 on the NET]

By the mid-30s the Trotskyites in all countries were serving three principal purposes for world reaction:
(1) They acted as the main instrument by which Western reaction hoped to gain a foothold inside the land of socialism, the USSR, as a fifth column behind the lines of socialism which was to aid, and complement by espionage and sabotage inside the Soviet Union, the open war preparations made outside.
(2) They acted as an arsenal of right-wing reactionary propaganda and slander against the Soviet Union, the Communist parties, the militant socialists and trade unions, and the anti-fascist and peace forces, an arsenal of reactionary right-wing propaganda dressed up in left-wing words.
(3) They acted as an instrument to aid the capitalists by trying to penetrate the working-class, the popular and national liberation movements, above all the Communist parties–spying on them, confusing them, and disrupting them from inside.
Klugmann, James. From Trotsky to Tito. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1951, p. 82


Trotsky claimed that counter-revolution was impossible without a bloodbath that would cost tens of million lives. He pretended that capitalism could not be retored `from inside’, by the internal political degeneration of the Party, by enemy infiltration, by bureaucratization, by the social-democratization of the Party. However, Lenin insisted on this possibility.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 141 [p. 121 on the NET]


Such was the atmosphere of those days; men of gentle character and high ideals, like Generalov, talked calmly of assassination.

Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 10

My next visit, on Generalov’s suggestion, was to a man high up in the Dniepropetrovsk administration. Generalov had hopes of this man, whom we will call Brezhnov, partly because he was an underground Trotskyist. For this reason I however had misgivings about asking his assistance, but ardour overcame my convictions.

Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 14


At this time, the vanguard of the opposition was in the Soviet Air Force. On May 15th, 1935 Bulganin, as Chairman of the Moscow Soviet, gave the French visitors a gala reception. Laval was taken to our principal airdrome, but also the center of our most restive airmen. The visitors were conducted by a party headed by Politburo member and People’s Commissar of Defense Marshall Voroshilov. All smiles, he “presented” outstanding pilots. He invited Laval to join a particular group of senior officers, which included some of the most courageous members of the undercover opposition.

…Stalin, together with Molotov, Chubar, Voroshilov and others of the Kremlin, chose to pay an unexpected visit, on May 2nd, 1935, to the Frunze Central Military Airdrome, one of the centers of his irreconcilable enemies. Pilots were braced and even kissed and all manner of sweet, winning words were said to them.

Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 31-32

The enemies of Stalin, as of Lenin and socialism, were masked so cleverly that it was sometimes impossible to see through the heavy mist of falsification and outright provocations.

Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 77


In August, 1936,… my own conclusion was that the time for delay was past. We must make immediate preparations for a general armed uprising.

I was sure then, as I am today, that if Comrade X had chosen to send out a call to arms, he would have been joined at once by many of the big men of the USSR….

Through my mind flashed a succession of Russian terrorists of the past, women among them. No other country had so persistent a tradition of assassination as ours. Passionlessly, Klava Yeryomenko had come to the conclusion that she should take her place in that tradition. Her plan was one of stark simplicity. Stalin would come down to his palace at nearby Gagry. She would gain entry. When the principal tyrants were gathered together, she would destroy them. She too would perish, but they would be no more. She already knew officers of Stalin’s bodyguard who could be won over. A clever woman, she said, could get what she wanted, especially if she was also good-looking. With the disappearance of Stalin, Molotov, and Yezhov, Comrade X could then seize the Kremlin and the principal government offices; Riz would take command of the Black Sea Fleet; Belinsky and Demokratov together would control Leningrad; Sheboldayev and Gunushvili would take over the Caucasus; Generalov the Ukraine, and so on. In two or three days it would be all over, the country would be in the hands of the new men.

Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 48

Our purpose this time was not only to hold discussions. We had moved a decisive step further: we went to assess the chances of an armed uprising against Stalin in the immediate future.

Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 156


Nevertheless, although in principle we were opposed to terroristic acts, I considered it right, in the changed situation, to put Klava’s proposal before Comrade X. He gave it serious thought, but in the end rejected the suggestion. He pointed out that there had already been no less than 15 attempts to assassinate Stalin, none had gotten near to success, each had cost many brave lives. ‘There is a right place and time for everything,’ he said, ‘but now (in mid-1936), Yeryomenko’s suggestion is out of place.

Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 49


… “In other words,” Smolninsky asked at last in a hushed voice, “you are suggesting that I should organize the assassination of Zhdanov?”

I replied that this is what I meant…. I had already sent both to him [ Zhdanov] and to Malenkov letters declaring my reasons for escaping abroad and informing Zhdanov how and why, just before the war, the idea of organizing his assassination had arisen.

But, though it was I who made the suggestion in Leningrad, the initial proposal to assassinate Zhdanov was not mine. I must also stress that I had no personal motive whatsoever for desiring Zhdanov’s death, nor are acts of personal terror any part of the revolutionary democratic program. The development of events and ideas alone forced us to consider such action. Further, though there have been many successful and unsuccessful acts of terrorism against the Stalin regime, not one of them has been the work of the men grouped around Comrade X.

Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 157

… I remembered Klava Yeryomenko, who was then still at liberty, saying to me only the previous autumn: ‘It will be your duty to kill Stalin if he asks you to make him rockets and bombers.’

Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 319

We Georgians are a very superstitious people–and very fatalistic also–and I doubted that my uncle was entirely an exception to that rule. On the eve of a battle in which he might easily lose his life–for the youth of Moscow were reading the tracts smuggled in secretly from Paris, in which Trotsky’s son Sedov was clamoring for “the immediate death of Djugachvili”–Stalin felt more assured when he had at his side a young man [me], not only of his country, but of his tribe:…

This, of course, is only my personal interpretation of Stalin’s attitude; but I believe it is correct.

Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 122

[The Editors of Secret Documents state], All the facts point to a definite doing-away with Stalin. There cannot be any other conclusion. The whole gamut of lies, falsification of historical truths and documents–noticed even by foreign journalists, writers, analysts, who in 99 percent of the cases were or are anti-Communist, cannot be just pushed aside!

It is also interesting to note that many important and damaging documents in the Archives are either “missing,” or in the hands of Western Intelligence Agencies!

Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 270


All the members of the council [our counter-revolutionary group] spoke in agreement, and a resolution was passed: Hitler was enemy No. 1; until that enemy was accounted for all anti-Stalinist activity was to cease.

Today the question is raised whether we were not mistaken, and fascist emigres have not stinted their attacks upon me since I appeared in the West [in 1948]. And not only fascist. An American Russian language newspaper, Novoye Russkoye Slovo (November 30th, 1951), has even gone so far as to accuse me of committing a crime in not shooting Stalin. This is so ridiculous a charge that it is hardly worth answering. Whose flag, do these gentlemen think, would now waive over the Elysee Palace in Paris if we had then ‘assassinated’ Stalin? And were we to take a step which might have brought Britain, then engaged in a moral struggle with Hitler, under Hitler’s jackboot?

Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 189

Mikhail Boikov claimed that in July 1936 members of a terrorist organization shot at President Kalinin while he was at a resort. Tokaev mentioned several groups that discussed assassinations and professed membership in one of them. We may recall the reports that a plot against the government existed in the armed forces. Medvedev, without specifying his sources, recounts several attempts on the life of Kirov in 1934 that constituted a “real hunt” for him.

Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 89


Another interesting example of the attitude of prominent personalities was given me by Col. Gorchakov. He and his young wife, Raissa, had asked me in for a drink. He said that it was years since he had had a chance to relax, but now that the ‘dam Germans with their air-raids’ sent a man to cover, he could put his feet up. He was already soaked in drink and I could see the expression of disgust on Raissa’s face. She was better educated than her husband, for he had only been through a series of Party courses some 15 years earlier, while she had recently taken a diploma at one of Moscow’s university-level colleges. Finally, as he was pressing vodka on me, she lost her patience with him and burst out: ‘All you think of is that bottle. I can’t imagine what the Government is paying you for. If I were Stalin, I’d send you for a fortnight’s cure to steam your brain clean.’

Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 207


I met many of these “Russian refugees” in the course of my work. They are one of the strangest phenomena I have found in the Western world. They are such thin shadows of the past that one even doubts if they are real at all. One hesitates to speak frankly to them less their brittle corporeality should disintegrate altogether, like thin ice in late spring.

Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 307


Here, since our subject concerns the ethics of the relations between man and man, man and the State, and one nation with another nation, I must relate the sorry sequel to my action. It is not only the men of the Soviet secret service who are devoid of moral standards, not only the USSR which is in danger of founding the protection of the State on sand. While I was away from Berlin on business, I received a letter from the diplomat to whom I had written. It was couched in terms which, to put it mildly, were brusque and unceremonious. I put this down, at the time, to his poor command of the language in which he wrote. This Allied representative wanted me to meet a certain person who would speak to me “in his name”. Disturbed though I was by the fact that the diplomat now knew my whereabouts, I decided to meet his representative. As it turned out, the meeting was an elaborate prelude to the insult he offered me. Speaking in the most condescending way–not that I stand on ceremony, but still I was not quite a nobody, and certainly not used to being addressed in such a manner–this person had the actual impudence to suggest that I should make him a secret report on the extent of Soviet knowledge of German aeronautics, and ended up by offering me 10,000 rubles for the service!

I have never in my life been more astonished. My hand for a moment rested on the butt of my automatic, but I controlled myself; even with a worm like this, I could not sink to Serov’s level. “A wonderful proposal,” I said, striving to measure my words. “Mr. So-and-so is asked by me to take steps to look after Prandtl, and the answer I get is the proposal of a dirty little spy. In Russian, we have an expression for all such scallywags which you may care to take back to your master”–and I pointed. The agent actually tried to argue back, and compelled me to draw my pistol to get rid of him. I do not suppose it had ever occurred to him or his master that the Soviet world, like the Western, is composed of individuals, and that a Soviet man may have more honor than many a lackey of the Western regime.

But this is not all. I had to unburden myself to somebody. One feels when such a thing happens as if the insult had left its trace, like the passage of a snail. I told the whole story to my personal driver, called Boldakov, an unpretentious decent Soviet man. He had a similar story to tell. An agent had offered him 500 marks–if he would get me to the Western Zone unprotected, to be kidnapped! I could have wept with mortification. I did not want to go to the West, but somehow I had considered that world to be above such things, and the thought had been a kind of encouragement. Now I had the sense of being set about by amorality on all sides. It was a blow to be made to realize that the same disease existed everywhere. It was also depressing to discover again how the two worlds intermingled.

Nor, when at last I was driven out of self-preservation to cross the frontier, did the official insults cease. I was approached by a man who, I think, represented a certain military intelligence service and offered a trifling sum of money and free passage and entry to a certain Western country–in return for information on the set-up and activities of certain opposition groups in the USSR. This man clearly knew that I myself was an active oppositionist.

Many people would like to imagine that coming from the Eastern to the Western world was like coming out of darkness into full sunlight. Alas, for me it was no such thing.

Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 342

… Soviet intelligence treated him [Tank] exactly as I was to be treated by the British Intelligence within a year; he found himself in a villa surrounded by armed sentries and with a pair of young intelligence officers constantly in the next room.

Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 351

My situation was unbearable. I wanted to be a loyal son of my country and as such to play an honorable part in trying to influence its policy at home and abroad…. And to my unutterable disgust, the war-time Ally who was loudest in denouncing the tyranny which I opposed, so far from giving our anti-Stalinist struggle its moral support, attempted to buy me, to kidnap me, spied on me mercilessly and used its knowledge to threaten to betray me to the MGB!

We were not communists at all.

Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 358


… Stalin, of all men, had said that the “single-mindedness and caution of Tokaev are evidence of his maturity”, and “Tokaev is not to be hampered in his work; if he makes no promises, that means he will give the country a great deal”; (these are his words as reliably reported to me).

Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 345


In the Trotskyite Bulletin of the Opposition, Nos. 36-37, of October 1933, we find a number of direct references to terrorism as a method of fighting against the Soviet government. Here is an example:

“It would be childish to think that the Stalin bureaucracy can be removed by means of a Party or Soviet Congress. Normal constitutional means are no longer available for the removal of the ruling clique.

They can be compelled to hand over power to the proletarian vanguard only by force.”

Trotsky was beyond the reach of the arm of Soviet law when he wrote the above sentences in which he advocated terrorism. So none of the Trotskyite and other bourgeois critics of the trials will be able to claim that Trotsky was forced to write the above lines by the OGPU. So when the various accused at the trials declared that they had organized terrorist acts on the direct instructions of Trotsky, they were compelled to say what was actually true and, to put it in the words of Comrade Vyshinsky, “no chatter, no slander, known simulations, and no Trotskyite line can obscure this fact!”

Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 226

Once again calling Trotsky’s open letter from 1932 a terrorist directive, Vyshinsky added a reference to one more article written by Trotsky which contained, in his words, “in rather open, uncamouflaged form… directives for terror.” This time, Vyshinsky quoted not two words, but several sentences from Trotsky’s article: “It would be childish to think that the Stalinist bureaucracy can be removed by means of a party or Soviet Congress…. For removing the ruling clique there remain no normal, ‘constitutional’ means. The bureaucracy can be forced to transfer power to the proletarian vanguard only by force.” “What can this be called,” Vyshinsky declared, “if not a direct call… for terror? I can assign no other name to this.”

Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 123

Trotsky argued that after all the experiences of recent years it would be childish to think that it was possible to depose Stalin at a Congress of the Party or of the Soviets. “No normal constitutional ways are left for the removal of the ruling clique. Only force can compel the bureaucracy to hand over power into the hands of the proletarian vanguard.”…

The Soviet Union, Trotsky reasserted, remained a workers’ state.

Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 203


In order to fully realize the utter monstrosity of these crimes, one must not lose sight of the fact that not only were these crimes committed but they were committed by the very people who were entrusted with the protection of the interests of the Soviet state against every kind of encroachment. These people should have been the first to protect Soviet industry and safeguard it from all damage, but they acted like downright traitors. Pyatakov, Assistant People’s Commissar of Heavy Industry, should have been the first to protect this important section of the Soviet economy but as a matter of fact he was its wrecker-in-chief. Rataichak should have been the first to safeguard the chemical industry. Livshitz, The Assistant People’s Commissar of Railways; Chernov, the People’s Commissar of Agriculture; Grinko, the People’s Commissar of Finance; Sokolnikov, assistant People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs–all these people should have been the first to sound the alarm at the slightest sign of any danger to the interests of the Soviet state, but instead they acted as wreckers, in breach of the trust placed upon them, and in violation of their duty to the land of the Soviets. This really is monstrous and shows the utmost limits of moral depravity these people attained.

Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 254


The enemies of the workers’ state had penetrated the Party, the State police, and the judicial system, and, as we might expect, made use of the situation to get rid of pro-socialist people in every field.

Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 130

…Opponents hiding within the party led conspiracies to expel the greatest possible number of loyal Communist cadres. About this question, one opponent testified:

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

J. Arch Getty, Origins of the Great Purges: The Soviet Communist Party Reconsidered, 1933–1938 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985), p. 177.

…Furthermore, enemies of the people and foreign secret service spies penetrated the NKVD, both at the local and central level. They tried by all means to disrupt investigations. Agents consciously deformed Soviet laws, conducted massive and unjustified arrests and, at the same time, protected their acolytes, particularly those who had infiltrated the NKVD.

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

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

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

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

V. Molotov, J. Stalin.”

Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 191 [p. 167 on the NET]

Over the Purge period, the Stalinists themselves, except for a small and peculiar personal following, were destroyed.

Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 446

This idea of Stalin’s was grasped best of all by Evdokimov, who declared, “The counter-revolutionary band of Trotskyists, Zinovievists, Rightists, ‘Leftists,’ and other counter-revolutionary scum has seized the leadership of the overwhelming part of the region’s cities. This band set itself the task of undermining Soviet and Party work, in order to discredit the party and the Soviet regime. It suppressed self-criticism in every way, instilled bureaucratism in the party and Soviet organizations, and persecuted people who dared to speak out against them, which was a direct mockery of the inner -party and Soviet democracy.” As confirmation of this, Evdokimov offered the testimony of arrested party functionaries about how, in order to arouse dissatisfaction with the party apparatus, they “suppressed self-criticism, smothered the living word, and left without any consequences the declarations and complaints of workers. Anyone who tried to criticize these conditions at a meeting was persecuted.”

Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 245

Under the command of Menzhinsky and Yagoda, countless innocent people were arrested and many were shot just because they served Lenin faithfully and were loyal Bolsheviks. Even some of the members of Security force, loyal Bolsheviks, who worked underground against the Tsar, fought for the Revolution, then on trumped-up charges, were arrested, sometimes without Lenin or Stalin knowing about this until it was too late. How was this possible?

We must understand that the enemies were entrenched inside every important position in the NKVD and State Security–well hidden, well masked and cleverly utilizing their power, getting rid of dedicated communists.

Being chairman of the NKVD, Menzhinsky and Yagoda hired only former ruling class kulaks, barons, whiteguards who really terrorized the dedicated communists and workers, those who showed that they were absolutely loyal to the party, to the motherland, to Lenin and Stalin, and other leaders of the state. Among these lackeys of Yagoda was an officer called Ofitserov. In some cases where a member of the security team would get drunk, thus having to be given a reprimand plus five days in jail, Ofitserov, instead of the prescribed reprimand, had that person shot. On Stalin’s demand, [the engineer] Nazvanov was released but not without Ofitserov putting a pistol to his back, stating, “Next time, I shall get you!”

Thus, Nazvanov [an engineer] was saved from the clutches of these hidden enemies of Lenin and Stalin, and of Socialism, hiding under the cloak of performing their duties to save the “socialist state” from “perceived enemies.”

Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 72

The foul murder of Comrade Kirov was the first serious warning showing that the enemies of the people will practice duplicity and, in so doing, will disguise themselves as Bolsheviks, as Party members, so as to worm their way into our confidence and open a path for themselves into our organizations….

The Central Committee of the CPSU in its closed letter of January 18, 1935, regarding the foul murder of Comrade Kirov, gave a resolute warning to the Party organizations against political complacency and parochial gaping.

Stalin, Joseph. Mastering Bolshevism. San Francisco: Proletarian Publishers, 1972, p. 4

However, the best indication that the programs of the “amnesty” and the “police purge” were endorsed, was not personnel changes–always of uncertain significance–but a decree put out by the conclave of the Party. This document recalled that the Central Committee had frequently warned against arbitrary expulsions from the Party, and then went on to condemn the procedure practiced by local and regional leaderships, of mass expulsions without careful examination of the charges. In a way that was very unusual for this kind of Party document, the decree listed a large number of cases from major regions throughout the country to show how widespread these excesses were, and then concluded that “careerists” and in particular “disguised enemies” had instigated most of the unjust punitive actions against members, their families, and friends.

…Many organizations of the Party and their leaders have not been able to identify and unmask the skillfully disguised enemy…. The worst traitor, usually such a disguised enemy is shouting louder than anyone about vigilance, rushing to ‘unmask’ as many [people] as possible and doing all this in order to conceal his own crimes from the Party and to turn the attention of the Party organization away from the uncovering of the real enemies of the people. A vile double-dealer, such a disguised enemy is doing his best to create a climate of unwarranted suspiciousness in Party organizations, a climate where any member of the Party who stands up for a slandered communist is immediately accused of lack of vigilance and collusion with the enemy…. Instead of exposing and unmasking the instigative activities of such a disguised enemy, Party organizations and their leaders often follow their lead, create an atmosphere where honest communists can be slandered with impunity and themselves adopt the line of unfounded mass expulsions…. Moreover, even after the discovery of enemies who have been infiltrating the Party apparatus and slandering honest communists, our Party leaders often do not take measures to liquidate the consequences of sabotage in Party organizations concerning the unfair expulsion of communists from the Party. It is time for all Party organizations and their leaders to completely unmask and exterminate the disguised enemy who has been infiltrating our ranks and trying to conceal his hostility behind a false clamor for vigilance and remain in the Party to pursue in it his vile [and] treacherous work.”

Rittersporn, Gabor. Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications, 1933-1953. New York: Harwood Academic Publishers, c1991, p. 203

The party had been infiltrated by alien and anti-Soviet elements.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 317

For seven years he [Inzhir] lived a double life. He devoted his knowledge and talents to the service of the regime he hated but thereby greatly benefited. He could not in fact do otherwise for the slightest act of sabotage in the kind of work he was doing threatened him with death. At the same time, as a secret informer of the political department of the NKVD, he took his revenge on the Bolsheviks by entangling and compromising Party members with whom he came into contact in the course of his work, and thereby helped to liquidate them.

In these activities Inzhir evidently found an inward satisfaction… As to the Bolsheviks he betrayed, his conscience did not trouble him in the least.

Berger, Joseph. Nothing but the Truth. New York, John Day Co. 1971, p. 102


[Resolution of the Plenum the Central Committee, March 3, 1937, on Yezhov’s report of what was learned from the sabotage, subversion, and espionage committed by Japanese and German Trotskyite agents]

The Plenum of the Central Committee believes that all the facts established during the investigation of the anti-Soviet Trotskyite center and its local accomplices show that the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs was at least four years late in unmasking these most vicious enemies of the people.

The Motherland’s traitors–Trotskyites and other double-dealers, in union with German Japanese counterintelligence–had managed with relative impunity to carry on wrecking, sabotage, espionage, and terrorist activities and to damage socialist progress in many branches of industry and in transportation. They were able to do this not only because of defects in the work of party and economic organizations, but also because of slipshod work by the Department of state security of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs….

Despite numerous warnings by the Central Committee on redirecting all Cheka work toward a more organized and acute struggle against counter-revolution… the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs has not carried out these party and government directives and has turned out to be unable to expose the anti-Soviet Trotskyite gang in time.

Koenker and Bachman, Eds. Revelations from the Russian Archives. Washington: Library of Congress, 1997, p. 114


[Memorandum from Shauro, director of the Department of Culture, to the Central Committee, June 20, 1975, regarding the publication in the West of Solzhenitsyn’s The Oak and the Calf and proposing publication of a book to expose Solzhenitsyn as a slanderer–rejected by the Writers’ Union]

In his new work Solzhenitsyn declares his long-standing hatred of the socialist social order, of Lenin and Leninism, of everything Soviet. Calling himself a “writer-member of the underground,” he confesses that since his youth he nurtured plans to undermine the Soviet government. The book The Oak and the Calf represents the cynical confession of an ideological saboteur.

Koenker and Bachman, Eds. Revelations from the Russian Archives. Washington: Library of Congress, 1997, p. 297


In a very real sense, Soviet world policy today is Our Baby. We have made it what it is. It is opposed to socialistic theory and is inimical to Soviet interests as these were conceived for 15 years after the Revolution. So the world policy is a departure from world socialism and a reluctant adaptation necessitated by a ring of armed imperial enemies.

Nearing, S. The Soviet Union as a World Power. New York: Island Workshop Press, 1945, p. 87

Communist Russia, born in the throes of foreign intervention, has never got free of its obsession that the capitalist States all around her are planning her overthrow.

Pares, Bernard. Russia. Washington, New York: Infantry Journal, Penguin books, 1944, p. 157

But far more striking and far more convincing was the new direction taken in internal policy in Russia. In insisting, day in and the out, that a united attack of the capitalist world on “the one Socialist State” was imminent, Party and Government had perhaps over-reached themselves.

Pares, Bernard. Russia. Washington, New York: Infantry Journal, Penguin books, 1944, p. 194

The intense repression in the Soviet Union in the 1930s and 1940s, far from being an inherent characteristic of socialism, was rather a result of the extraordinary crisis in which Soviet society found itself at that time.

Szymanski, Albert. Human Rights in the Soviet Union. London: Zed Books, 1984, p. 298

They [the Soviet leaders of the 1920s and 1930s] expected further foreign wars because it was in the nature of imperialism, as Lenin had also argued. They anticipated ceaseless struggles against the domestic enemies of revolution, whether peasant-capitalists or foreign spies. The result was a society that was kept in an almost perennial state of mobilization.

Overy, R. J. Russia’s War: Blood Upon the Snow. New York: TV Books, c1997, p. 22

Then there were the distorting effects that unremitting capitalist encirclement had up on the building of socialism. Throughout its entire 73 year history of counterrevolutionary invasion, civil war, forced industrialization, Stalinist purges and deportations, Nazi conquest, cold war, and nuclear arms race, the Soviet Union did not know one day of peaceful development.

Parenti, Michael. Blackshirts and Reds, San Francisco: City Light Books, 1997, p. 84


Indeed, it would be ridiculous and stupid to close our eyes to the capitalist encirclement and to think that our external enemies, the fascists, for example, will not, if the opportunity arises, make an attempt at a military attack upon the USSR. Only blind braggarts or masked enemies who desire to lull the vigilance of our people can think like that. No less ridiculous would it be to deny that in the event of the slightest success of military intervention, the interventionists would try to destroy the Soviet system. Did not Denikin and Kolchak restore the bourgeois system in the districts they occupied? Are the fascists any better than Denikin or Kolchak? Only blockheads or masked enemies, who by their boastfulness want to conceal their hostility and are striving to demobilize the people, can deny the danger of military intervention and of attempts at restoration as long as the capitalist encirclement exists. Can the victory of socialism in one country be regarded as final if this country is encircled by capitalism, and if it is not fully guaranteed against the danger of intervention and restoration? Certainly it cannot.

Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 161


Moreover, many of his [Stalin] speeches gave the impression that he was not well-informed about the repression. For example, at the February-March plenum of the Central Committee in 1937 he demanded that there be no arrests of Trotskyists and Zinovievists who had broken all ties with Trotsky and ended oppositional activity. At that very time thousands of such people were being arrested. Stalin also rebuked those who considered it a trifle to expel tens of thousands of the party. At that very time not tens but hundreds of thousands were being expelled and arrested.

Shortly before the arrest of the civil war hero Serdich, Stalin toasted him at a reception, suggesting that they drink to “Bruderschaft.” Just a few days before Blyukher’s destruction, Stalin spoke of him warmly at a meeting. When an Armenian delegation came to him, Stalin asked about the poet Charents and said that he should not be touched, but a few months later Charents was arrested and killed. The wife of Serebrovsky, a deputy people’s commissar of Ordjonikidze’s, tells of an unexpected phone call from Stalin one evening in 1937. “I hear you are going about on foot,” Stalin said. “That’s no good. People might think what they shouldn’t. I’ll send you a car if yours is being repaired.” And the next morning a car from the Kremlin arrived for Mrs. Serebrovsky’s use. But two days later her husband was arrested, taken right from the hospital.

Alikhanova tells about the case of Broido, one of Stalin’s former aides in the Commissariat of Nationalities. When NKVD men came to his door late at night, rather than let them in he rushed to the internal Kremlin telephone and called Stalin. “Koba, they’ve come for me,” said Broido. “Foolishness,” Stalin replied. “Who could bring charges against you? Go calmly to the NKVD and help them establish the truth.” Still, Broido was lucky. After only two years in prison he was freed in 1940.

The famous historian and publicist Steklov, disturbed by all the arrests, phoned Stalin and asked for an appointment. “Of course, come on over,” Stalin said, and reassured him when they met: “What’s the matter with you? The party knows and trusts you; you have nothing to worry about.” Steklov returned to his friends and family, and that very evening the NKVD came for him. Naturally the first thought of his friends and family was to appeal to Stalin, who seemed unaware of what was going on….

In 1938 Akulov, onetime procurator of the Soviet Union and later secretary of the Central Executive Committee, fell while skating and suffered an almost fatal concussion. On Stalin’s personal orders outstanding surgeons were brought from abroad to save his life. After a difficult recovery lasting many months, Akulov returned to work, whereupon he was arrested, and in 1939 he was shot.

In 1937 Milchakov, who was working in the administration of the gold mining industry, was suddenly removed from his job and expelled from the party. But a few days later the party organizer of the administration searched him out and said anxiously, “Let’s go to the Kremlin; Stalin’s asking for you.” In the Kremlin office were Stalin and Kaganovich. “What have things come to,” said Stalin, “if they’re expelling people like Milchakov?” Then he said to Milchakov: “We’re appointing you deputy chief of Glavzoloto (the Chief Administration for Gold Mining). Go and carry out your duties.” Two or three weeks later Milchakov became the head of Glavzoloto, after the arrest of Serebrovsky. After another two months, however, Milchakov was arrested and did not see Moscow again for 16 years.

Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 526-527

Of course Stalin did not and could not know about every instance of lawlessness.

Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 533


…many of the people I knew who made public speeches in defense of Stalin’s interpretation of the Dictatorship of Proletariat were already engaged in underground anti-Stalin work.
Tokaev, Grigori. Betrayal of an Ideal. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1955, p. 114


This was the conclusion [underground work was forced on us] at which I and a small group of comrades arrived in the autumn of 1932. This was the beginning of my formal adherence to an inner party underground opposition faction. We now ceased to be part of the Stalinist machinery except so far as our formal adherence to the Party could be regarded as such, but this in any case was an essential cover for us.
Tokaev, Grigori. Betrayal of an Ideal. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1955, p. 206


Other necessary qualities [to combat Stalinism besides knowing its philosopy] are those of the partisan fighter in the field of politics. It is not enough to be pugnacious, it is not enough to be able and prepared to carry out orders; it is essential to be capable of initiating and organizing action oneself. This does not mean the ability to stage a full-scale revolution, but it does mean the ability to wage small but all-important battles in everyday life: sow the seeds of thought in others’ minds, inspire the belief that it is possible for men to be men and not homunculi; seize on any of the countless openings given by permitted discussions of the Party line, engage in an argument without ever exposing oneself too far, and come out of it the victor, never discredited. It means never to forget that in this sort of activity what matters is not words or even acts, but the right words, the right act, the timely word, the timely act. The capacity to appraise a situation correctly is of the utmost importance.
Tokaev, Grigori. Betrayal of an Ideal. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1955, p. 209


The very existence of such moderate and reasonable men as Rusanov in such high-up positions shows the absurdity of the myth that the higher Soviet officialdom is a monolithic body of fanatical Stalinists.
There are many thousands of people who are constantly opposing the Stalinist line; there are hundreds who are constantly plotting against the regime; there are even groups who plan terrorist acts against leaders in the Kremlin; and in the last World War the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic, almost to a man, raised the standard of the struggle for its own independence.
Nor is it true, as some “experts” say, that every Soviet citizen has a spy at his elbow. If it were, it would mean that the whole country is made up of spies, and a more foolish and unfounded slander could not be imagined.
Tokaev, Grigori. Betrayal of an Ideal. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1955, p. 226


My hope that the storm had passed me over was shaken before the end of January 1935, when I was again summoned to the NKVD, “by way of a prophylactic measure,” as the examining officer assured me. The Zhukovsky Academy command were not to know anything about it, he said; “tomorrow morning you will be back at your lectures”….
This NKVD inquisitor was of about the same age as myself but at the time I never suspected what I learned later, that he too was an underground oppositionist, one of the boldest inside the NKVD system. He knew all about me, about the underground group to which I belonged and the military underground meeting which I had attended, and why I had gray hair, but in those days he never gave me the slightest hint. It was not till later, when he had been shot, that I came upon his name in a special resolution of our underground group, mentioning his services to our cause, not Stalin’s, and understood at last why he had summoned me, as he had summoned many others: he was busy saving men, not destroying them. A number of outstanding personalities of the underground owed their lives to him, among them some of the anti-Stalinists who are working at this moment in the Soviet Union. His investigations were made under orders from NKVD headquarters, but he knew what questions to ask and how to ask them in such a way as to satisfy his superiors and yet to protect the men he examined.
Keeping in mind the memory of this heroic comrade, I am filled with horror, when, nowadays, I hear that “all the NKVD” ought to be exterminated as Stalinist terrorists.
Tokaev, Grigori. Betrayal of an Ideal. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1955, p. 249

…As I passed the Dynamo Stadium I suddenly heard a voice behind me: “Don’t look around, keep on going, but listen…” It was Belinsky [one of my closest friends]. He told me that my group already knew and approved what I had done and were doing all they could to save me. I must know that a hard struggle had begun. Men, even in the NKVD, who were on our side, would take whatever steps they could to sidetract my case. But it would not be easy. Key positions must not be exposed. Still–there was a chance. I was not alone.
Tokaev, Grigori. Betrayal of an Ideal. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1955, p. 260

On May 13, 1937, Artuzov, a second-rank commissar of state security and the head of the central division of the NKVD USSR, was arrested on the basis of personal instructions from Yezhov. In the records of the interrogation that were made by investigator Alentsov, Artuzov confessed that in 1913 he was recruited into “the Tsarist intelligence service.” In 1914, he became a French intelligence agent, in 1925, a German agent, and 1933, a Polish agent. Moreover, he admitted belonging to an anti-Soviet organization of Rightists that was active within the NKVD and was headed by Yagoda.
Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 30

On occasion the wrong kind of person penetrated the NKVD, which gives an indication of its poor investigative abilities. One NKVD officer was the son of an executed kulak, another the son of a tsarist officer arrested in the Civil War. Another man, an imperial officer who went on to fight on the White side against the Reds, reported that a friend of his with the same background entered the police in the 1920s and saved many former White officers. Eventually rising to become deputy director of the NKVD in the Ukraine, the man was exposed and shot in 1937. Here a real enemy of the Soviet state had wormed his way into a powerful position.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 78

Once more, [at the Bukharin trial] a vast network of assassins was discovered. At least 8 groups were working on the destruction of Stalin, Molotov, Kaganovich, Voroshilov, and Yezhov. And, this time, they were shown not simply to be under the protection of high officials in the Party and the Army, but actually to have been nourished and sponsored by the NKVD itself. Seldom can terrorists have had such advantages as those supposedly enjoyed by the plotters. Apart from half a dozen members of the Government, including the Head of the Secret Police itself, they actually had on their side the NKVD officers Pauker and Volovich, responsible for guarding their prospective victims.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 397

One concern was precisely what Kotelnikov alleged to have taken place-that “enemies” had secured positions that allowed them to issue party cards to other “enemies.”
Chase, William J., Enemies Within the Gates?, translated by Vadim A. Staklo, New Haven: Yale University Press, c2001, p. 240.


The greatest misconception about the GPU is to consider it a secret police. Undoubtedly, it has secret agents, correspondents, and informants. A state threatened for so many years by the secret plotting of counter-revolution, and today riddled with spies, has need of a defensive organization capable of functioning in secret. But in its general function of guarding the Socialist state, the GPU is a public body. Its members wear distinctive GPU uniforms and the GPU is as accessible to the Soviet citizen as is the British police to the Briton. In performing its duties, which include more beneficent functions of police work such as the care of waifs, the GPU man may use all the tricks known to the European police of plain clothes disguise and general dissembling. No one considers this technique of investigation any more reprehensible in the USSR than a similar technique is considered, say, in France. Those who in the USSR fear the GPU are those who in other countries fear the police–namely, criminals and would be criminals.
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 53


Walking back to our cell, my neighbor, Semeonov, said, “Cheer up! It’s not so bad. I’ve been through it before.”
… I’ve had three years in Siberia under the Tsar,” he said, “with a slot in the wall, not a window. I’m an old Bolshevik,” he added proudly.
“What are you here for?” I asked.
He shrugged his shoulders.
“I am being questioned for association with the Trotsky Parallel Center.”
“Is that a crime?”
“Yes. THE TROTSKYISTS TODAY ARE AN ASSOCIATION OF ASSASSINS. They would lead the working class to an abyss of futility and disruption. I am an accused Trotskyist but, my friend, believe me, I reject it with my soul. It’s true I knew Trotsky. I have sat at the same conference table with him and Stalin. I was a revolutionary from my youth. I lost my health in a Tsarist prison. I fought against the Whites and was wounded in Elizabethgrad. I have offered my life to the working-class and today they accuse me of Trotskyism. I knew Trotsky in 1926. I met him and supported him in his opposition. I knew Zinoviev and Kamenev too, and joined them against the majority of the party. But I was a loyal Party member– an honored party member. I later accepted the majority decision and, when events justified it, I abandoned the minority standpoint. What did Trotsky do? He conducted an opposition to the extent of actively resisting majority decisions. He went into exile. From there he tried to keep in touch with me and those others who had been grouped around him. I rejected him and I rejected his policy. In 1926 I was expelled from the party. It didn’t affect me. I worked doubly hard for the cause to which I dedicated my life. I got a job in Narkomles–the Paper Trust. In three years I rose from director of distribution to direction in the Trust itself. Stalin complimented me. He thanked me at our Congress for my contribution to the success of the industry. What did it help me?
“By 1932, Trotsky, who had for six years waited for the collapse of the Soviet Union through peasant resistance to collectivization or external attack, was tired of waiting. He had given in his early days good service to the Soviet Union and was a glorious figure for his past services to the revolution. But now, with a new generation growing up, ignorant of his old service and knowing only of his hate of the successes of the USSR, Trotsky began to organize acts of sabotage.
“Towards the end of 1932, an engineer who had been buying machinery in France handed me a letter. It was from Trotsky. He wrote simply: ‘Are you still a friend of the Revolution?’ I destroyed the letter and ignored what it said. I had rejected Trotsky utterly since his policy of ideological opposition to the Party had changed to one of supporting an Imperialist war against the USSR in order to bring about what he called ‘the true revolution.’…
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 98

“But Trotsky, in his remote isolation, was a realist only in his capacity to destroy. He would not leave me alone. He sent me a second letter through a Lithuanian who pretended to be a tourist. The GPU intercepted the letter. I was dismissed from my job and tried in open court.”
“On what grounds?” I interposed.
“Communication with an enemy of the state.”
“What did it say in the letter?”
“Trotsky referred to a meeting that I had with him in 1925. It’s true I stood with him then on common ground, but that was a long time ago. It’s not the part of a Bolshevik to swear eternal fidelity to a policy…. He was living on his own past merits.
“I defended myself before the court. I rejected the charge that I had criminal contacts with Trotsky. I admitted our past friendship and declared that it had ended years before. I was asked:
“Why did you not denounce the bearer of the letter to the political police?”
“My true reason for not doing so was my fear of compromising myself even through suspicion. That was no answer for the GPU, I was sentenced to three years’ exile, under restraint….
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 100

“I was sent to a fortress in Uzbekistan where once the Tsar used to imprison those whom he wanted to teach. Here they gave me complete liberty within the fortress precincts. I wasn’t locked in my cell. I was given paper and ink and while I was there I finished a treatise on ‘Re-afforestation.'”
“Were you allowed letters?”
“As many as I liked or cared to send. They were all censored. But it didn’t matter. I almost enjoyed the monastic life that I lived. There were only eighteen other prisoners in the fortress. We were allowed to play volley-ball for two hours a day and that is how I have maintained my physique….”
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 101

“Besides,” Semeonov added, “I don’t believe for a moment that either Trotsky or Zinoviev or Kamenev took deliberate action against the USSR until the Stalin policy had been proved right and theirs wrong.
“You’ve got to admit that at a particular period in the Revolution Trotsky and the others did good work. I do not justify their behavior to-day. Should that prevent me from justifying their work of yesterday? I am not ashamed to have been associated with the Trotsky of the Red Train. Trotsky today, working for internal disruption, is another man….”
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 98. 100, 101, 103


There were several in my [Lebedev, a Stalin supporter] cell imprisoned for Trotskyist activity…. There was at least one who avowed himself a supporter of Trotsky, who declared implacable enmity towards Stalin and who professed himself ready to suffer for his true revolutionary fate. He was Akulov, a schoolteacher from the Donbas who had fought against the Whites, been wounded three times, and who had reached a high position in the Communist Party at the time of the expulsion of Trotsky from the party. Unlike those others who had rejected Trotsky, Akulov continued openly to resist the Stalin line. He was expelled from the party and proceeded to organize an energetic opposition center. He succeeded in grouping around him a number of former Red Army men, old Bolsheviks who had been purged from the party, and some engineers. Later, his group was joined by former White partisans who since the revolution had entered various Soviet enterprises. The group passed from vocal criticism of Stalin, the Communist Party, and the Soviet government to organized sabotage in mines, helped largely by the engineers, wrecking which the White partisans willingly undertook, and experimental dislocation of railway traffic in which the former army men were adept. The old Bolsheviks maintained a campaign of rumors such as that the Ukrainian harvest had failed, and by creating constant apprehension among the workers almost succeeded in wrecking the five-year plan. Akulov proudly admitted that he had organized his work. From the rest of the prisoners he received bitter criticism. He defended himself fluently with skillful dialectic, but the prisoners, mostly sincere Stalinists, crowd over his bed whistling, shooting questions at him, or booing his least popular opinions….

(Akulov explains the Trot position)
“What shall we have tonight?” asked the Starost [supervising prisoner].
“Something to put us to sleep,” somebody suggested.
“Let Davidovich lecture on the Turbine Engine.”
“No,” said Krylenko, bounding upon his bed. “Let’s hear what Akulov has to say about his venerated Lord and Master in Mexico–Ex-Comrade Trotsky,”…
“Yes, yes,” somebody else shouted, “Akulov on ‘why Trotsky’s right when he’s wrong.’ or ‘why Trotsky’s left when he’s wrong and wrong when he’s right.'”
“Order,” shouted the Starost, solemnly standing up. He stretched his arm and there was a hush. “I call on Akulov to address us on ‘when left his right!'”
[Akulov then says,] “…We oppose Stalin. Yes, we oppose him with our bodies, our minds, and our souls, as a betrayer of the Revolution, a traitor to the working class of the world….
Is it not obvious that our own political revolution of 1917 should have been the signal for a series of political revolutions throughout the main countries in the world, introducing the economic revolutions which could have provided the basis for a world Socialist economy?”
“What if nobody took any notice of the signal except in Germany and Hungary where the Revolution failed?” Davidovitch asked. “Should we therefore have struggled on with a political revolution without attempting an economic revolution–although our country covers a sixth of the world and is one of the richest economically?”
“No,” Akulov went on, “we should not. We should have strengthened our political revolution by helping the proletarian revolution. Had we done that we need not have suffered the years of privations to build a gigantic heavy industry. We could have done it at leisure, secured by the workers’ states around us. We could have raised our standard of living immediately had Stalin not aimed at his one-street Socialism. We would not have had Socialism, but the standard of living could have been raised by the purchase of consumers’ goods and not inedible machinery.
[Akulov continues] “Why do you imagine that Lenin permitted NEP with all its capitalist abuses? As a step towards the five-year plan which your good Comrade Stalin claims? I think not. As a step towards socialism? Yes. I will tell you how I explain the paradox. Lenin wanted the New Economic Policy so that the relaxation of the economic struggle could lead to an intensification of the political struggle abroad. He knew that you can’t get Socialism in one country unless you have a proletarian revolution in the main industrial countries….
“To what extent has Stalin followed this line of Lenin? He has receded from Lenin’s grand policy of World Revolution to the National Socialism of the Russian fatherland. ‘Please, dear Workers all over the world, unite with your good bourgeois masters under the spurious slogans of Liberty, Democracy, and Peace at any price, and defend the workers’ (Russian) fatherland against the Fascist wolf.’ That is the contemptible advice that one who has the impudence to assume the mantle of Lenin dares to offer the world proletariat waiting for a policy, for guidance and help in overthrowing their capitalist oppressors.
“Whose fault is it that the Fascist wolves are snarling at the door of the country that gave birth to the workers’ revolution of 1917? Could not Stalin with a stroke have helped the German Communists to power in 1932? Instead of that, he let the Nazis in and left the Comintern to rescue Dimitrov. Internationalism! The word has become a term of reproach in the Soviet Union, almost as dangerous as Trotskyism.”
Akulov paused and smiled wryly. “It’s as dangerous to be an internationalist in the Soviet Union as it is to be one in Germany. No! It’s less dangerous. In Germany if you’re an internationalist they call you by the honorable name of Marxist. In the Soviet Union they call you a cancer, a reptile, scum, and filth. Where are the days of ‘Workers of the World, Unite’? Gone for ever? I think not. Gone only so long as the Stalinists’ bureaucracy survives. Historical necessity will give that slogan its original strength. The day of the true revolution will be the hour of International Proletarian Unity….
“Let Stalin keep his cheap aphorism of ‘To each according to his capacity.’ What does that capacity consist of? Capacity to manipulate the machinery of bureaucracy for one’s own ends! Compare the earnings of the humblest toiling workers with the earnings of an engineer. Do you call that Socialism? Is not the humble worker as entitled to the satisfaction of his needs as the opulent specialist? There are as glaring differences of wealth and privilege in the Soviet Union today as there ever were on the czar.
“Stalin’s policy of gigantism has brought us nothing. We now have Magnitogorsk, Kuznetsk, Stalinsk, and all rest of it. The Americans have the Detroit motor works and the Niagara Falls. Has that made them Socialists? I grant that we have made industrial progress. That is the result of an energetic planned economy which I favor and do not dispute, but is that socialism? I think not.
“Again, because we have made great industrial progress in comparative figures, we are not therefore an advanced industrial country. On the contrary we are industrially still among the backward countries of the world. The mighty capitalist industrial countries could crack us like a dry nut unless…
“Unless what?” I asked.
“Unless the revolutionary spirit is so strong among the proletarians of those countries that they prevent it.
“But as things are what reason have they to defend a bureaucracy which in the name of Socialism preserves the inequalities and abuses of capitalism? The workers of the world have been disillusioned by the cynical disregard of principle shown by the Government of the USSR. Consider only these things–the reintroduction of the off-duty salute into the army, the restoration of the old military titles, the reconstitution of the Cossack regiments, the law for the abolition of free abortion, the encouragement of jazz music. Retrogressive steps all of them! Swaggering officers, swaggering engineers, swaggering bureaucrats! That’s your new Soviet fatherland. Each step that it takes towards its comfortable bourgeois goal, it calls a step towards Socialism.
“The Marxists–the true Marxists–have watched the fruits of the Revolution fall into dust in the hands of the Stalinists. I am proud that I have worked against the Stalin bureaucracy, I am proud that I have engaged in sabotage, I am proud that I have conspired to overthrow the usurpers of the Revolution. When Stalin and his functionaries are ashes, our true Socialist work will go forward, our inspiration Marx and Lenin, our leader Trotsky….
Sweating with the strain of his rhetoric, Akulov lay on the bed and poured out for himself a glass of water. The murmur of disagreement which had accompanied the whole of his speech grew into a roar before it was ended….
“Friends,” the Starost said, “I’m neutral…. Does anybody want to answer Akulov?”
There were about 12 volunteers, including myself [Lebedev].
“Allow me to answer,” a man called Lebedev asked quietly. “Comrades,” he said, turning to us all, “I can claim to be a Marxist. For years I studied the works of Marx. I’ve read all that Lenin has written and share his views. I fought in the streets of Leningrad during the Revolution. I come of revolutionary stock–my father died in a Tsarist prison in Eastern Siberia. I can say that my whole life has been given to the Revolution. I am a worker–a metal-worker. My father was also a worker in the Putilov factory.
“Those are my credentials. That is what permits me to speak with equal sincerity and infinitely more truth than that man.”
Pointing an accusing finger at Akulov he went on:…
“Forgive me, comrades, if I speak with heat. I stand here and say that Akulov lies in the motives which he imputes to the Stalinists, that he lies in his statement of Lenin’s intentions, that he lies in his charge that we are indifferent to the international working-class, and that he lies in his statement of the present condition of the USSR. I say further that his boast of wrecking is that of one who objectively is an enemy of the Revolution, even if charitably we grant that subjectively he is not.
“Let us take his charges as he produced them and consider his own proposals. ‘The political revolution,’ he said, ‘should have been international before any attempt at economic revolution.’ He calls that realism.
“Lenin waited and worked for the international revolution. Nobody can deny that the Soviet Union would have been strengthened by having workers’ states surrounding it instead of capitalist states. But that didn’t happen. The workers outside Russia were either unwilling or unable to make the revolution. The years passed. Capitalism by bloody repression held the working-class crushed in steel. Simultaneously it grew bolder in its attempt at a new intervention in the Soviet Union.
“Our own revolution was threatened by counter-revolutionaries. We held them in check. Lenin with his New Economic Policy brought the boils of counter-revolution to the surface in order better to lance them. The NEP was not a respite in order better to lance them. The NEP was not a respite to work for a world political revolution, however desirable that might be. It was a respite to plan the five-year plan and collectivization of the farms, the first steps towards our present Socialist economy….
“Akulov, like all Trotskyists, harps on the backwardness of our country. This is how he reasons: ‘It’s no use trying to build Socialism in one country unless that country, in addition to self-sufficient raw materials, is highly industrialized.’ ‘Very well,’ we reply, ‘we’ll highly industrialize the USSR which has as much raw materials as several other capitalist countries put together.’ ‘Oh, no!’ Akulov answers, ‘You can’t industrialize us. We’re backward!’
“Akulov is backward. He is living mentally at the beginning of the last decade when our country inherited not merely the backward conditions of Czarism, but a ruined industry and a wasted countryside.
“We Socialists have changed all that. With one hand we held the capitalist countries at bay. With the other we wielded the tools which have raised our industry to a foremost position in the world. These are facts. Akulov can’t deny them. And can he deny that he and those like him have done everything to ruin our efforts? Can he deny that we have built an economic condition which offers to every worker a share according to his capacity to produce? By what stretch of the imagination can he call that capitalism? Is that not a progressive step towards the Communist society when each will give according to his capacity and receive according to his needs?…
“Akulov made cheap taunts about functionaries. Our Socialist society must have men to fill the function of managers, directors, and controllers. They are a condition of organization. Perhaps Akulov would prefer a blissful anarchy–without Socialism, certainly, but he’d have his political revolution.
“When he says that there are inequalities of wages and privileges comparable with those under Tsarism he lies. You all know it. No man has a sum of privileges in excess of any other. And wages vary, but the worst-paid worker is not much less well-off than the best paid. Remember, this is a transitional stage. We are on the way to our Communist goal [Right on brother–Klo]. Trotsky offers instead years of fruitless waiting for political revolutions whose opportunity may well not be seizable. He offers the workers of the world an abstraction.
“We, those who follow the Stalin line, offer the workers of the world a Socialist reality–our workers’ fatherland growing as a glorious example before their eyes.
“Akulov lies again when he says that internationalism is spurned today. When we speak of the workers’ fatherland we mean the fatherland of the workers of the world, Russia, home of the first proletarian revolution. Is it not a fact that the workers of the world turn their faces towards us as their revolutionary guides? When the working-class of the USSR forgets its brothers throughout the world, it will be a bitter day for the USSR. Happily, that day will never come….
“Let Akulov prattle of jazz and salutes and abortion laws. Those things neither make nor mar Socialism. A salute to a Tsarist officer by a peasant boy is a world different from a worker-soldier’s salute to his worker-officer. Why should I go on? Do we not know how much personal spite and venom is mingled in the idealistic phrases of Trotsky and his followers? Do we not know that it is they, the dispossessed, who are the place-seekers, the bureaucrats and functionaries who are as embittered as any dispossessed Tsarist capitalist?
“They conspire with the enemies of the Soviet Union. They boast of their treachery to the Soviet Union and brag that they do it in the name of the working-class.”
Again Lebedev pointed at Akulov.
“The working-class will remember you and your like, Akulov. It will not be garrotted by you and your megalomaniac leader. We’re going ahead without you and despite you. We’re marching out under the banner of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin, and woe to the traitors!”
There was a rattle of cheering when he ended. Akulov pretended to be asleep.
“I hope, Lebedev,” Krilenko said as an epilogue, “that when you march out under Stalin’s banner you’ll be able to smuggle me under too!”
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 136-148


The Opposition thrived during the year of the First Five-Year Plan, which, though a period of great triumphs, was also one of great hardships. The plan was magnificent in intention and miraculous in execution. I have worked among peasants who have been translated from wooden plows to modern textile machinery and know the difficulty of overcoming their ingrained hebetude and stupefaction. Is it any wonder that the conversion of peasants into industrial workers, of individualists into collective farmers, was a major operation accompanied by many pains? During the First Five-Year Plan there was tremendous enthusiasm among the politically conscious masses and among the youth. But there was also much discontent among those elements who found adjustment to the new conditions difficult. Trotskyists, ex-NEP men (Speculators) and Kulaks (rich peasants) found themselves bed-fellows in their hostility to the Stalin policy.
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 213


The great emphasis of 1937-38 was on hidden opponents, and the key word was “unmasking.” The central authorities pursued those they perceived as real, concealed enemies.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 79

“Early in 1936 about 40 NKVD men were summoned for a special conference by the chief of the Secret Political Department, Molchanov,” was how Orlov vividly recalled the blood-letting had been initiated. The assembled high-ranking officers were astonished to be told that “a vast conspiracy had been uncovered, headed by Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev and other leaders of the opposition”. The conspiracy, according to Molchanov, had been growing over many years, nefariously establishing “terrorist groups in almost all the big cities and had set itself the aim of assassinating Stalin and the members of the Politburo and of seizing power”. Priority was to be given to mounting a full-scale investigation, with Stalin personally supervising the task, assisted by Yezhov, The Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party.
Costello, John and Oleg Tsarev. Deadly illusions. New York: Crown, c1993, p. 249


Still, numerous reports indicate that even at the peak of the Terror, evidence often made the difference in a case. The NKVD detained people because of some connection with misdeeds, accidents, someone else already arrested, or a denunciation. If in the worst period these connections were often flimsy, they still existed in some fashion. Without that kind of suspicious link, or when clearly protected by documentary evidence, people were either not touched or were exonerated in investigations.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 90


The more Socialist industry and agriculture develop, the more desperate, however, becomes the resistance of the remnants of former exploiting classes. When the Worker’s State was tolerating their existence as rich peasants and traders, they hoped for the gradual undermining of the Socialist elements in economy by means of the development of private trade and agriculture. As these were eliminated, their hatred intensified to an extreme degree. The development of Socialism means that those elements now find employment in some of the branches of Soviet industry and trade. They find employment at a time when whole branches of industry that never previously existed are being established in the country, when millions of backward and individualistic peasants are being absorbed into industry and are bringing many of their old peasant habits with them. Even without the activity of class enemies in Soviet industry, this would be a period of considerable strain and difficulty. If one can remember the muddles which occurred in England in 1914-15 in the shift from peace to war production, despite all the great technical ability at the disposal of the British bourgeoisie, one can understand that a certain amount of honest mistakes and muddle could occur in Soviet industry in the course of the great change through which it is passing. There is the opportunity of the class enemies. They can take advantage of the muddle and disorganization that exist, and work deliberately to intensify it; they can deliberately sabotage and try to represent the result as a product of honest muddle; they can take advantage of the difficulties of the ex-peasant in fitting himself into the new industrial life.
Formerly those elements–as rich peasants and traders–fought Socialist industry from without. Now they seek to undermine it from within, and because they are now part and parcel of the personnel of industry, it is not always easy to detect them. The utmost vigilance is necessary on the part of the factory committees, of the unions, and of all the organs of the Worker’s State, in order to meet and defeat the sabotage.
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 143


But at the end of 1936 it was becoming clear that the groups of Trotskyists and Rights were becoming discovered to such an extent that the whole organization was in danger of being wiped out. And hence there was the development of the conception that a coup d’etat ought to be launched, independently of war. The evidence given by Rosengoltz makes clear what the plotters intended:…
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 224

Rosengoltz invited me to his villa in Gorinka where we had lunch and a long talk.
He was in good spirits although two of his intimate friends were arrested in January 1936…. He suggested a game of tennis on his private court. He has a most wonderful court. I declined because of my age…. He spoke for sometime about Stalin…. His enthusiasm surprised me…. He said he greatly regretted having belonged to the Opposition and that he would have liked the opportunity of a heart to heart talk with Stalin but was not allowed to see him. Since the assassination of Kirov no prominent member of the Opposition has been admitted to Stalin….
We talked for a while about the prospects at home. He said he had had a long talk with Shkiryatov, who had made some threatening hints. Shkiryatov had told him that the Opposition didn’t want to disarm and that extreme measures would have to be taken against its members. War was coming, he said, and a small anti-Party group could not be allowed to organize secret circles with defeatist slogans…. I asked what the slogans were…. Rosengoltz hesitated and then replied that he now had no contact whatever with the circles but that the Smilga people had had a hand in it…. When I pressed him to be more explicit he volunteered the explanation that there was a project to bring about “clemancism” in the Party–that is, in the event of war breaking out and our armies being defeated, and the Secretary-General wanting to bring off a new Brest-Litovsk, to carry out a mutiny of the troops during the war and change the leadership, after “shooting several leaders and Marshals,” as the Greeks had done after their defeat in Asia Minor…. I told him at once that objectively speaking such a plan amounted to the most blatant treachery and comfort to the enemy…. He blushed and agreed with me but said he had been led astray on the authority of Trotsky, who advised such tactics in his bulletins from abroad…. I asked him several questions about his friend Pyatakov and other members of the Opposition. He said he was no longer meeting them, to avoid rumors and denunciations about a resumption of the activity of secret opposition circles….
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 228


Both Trotsky & Bukharin were afraid that in the event of a successful coup, the Generals would rule the roost and the civilian political groups would be left out in the cold.
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 226


Trotsky, with the few thousand other exiles, managed to maintain political contact which kept the older members of the Party in a constant state of simmering excitement. Ordered to refrain from his activities under threat of imprisonment, he refused.
Barmine, Alexandre. Memoirs of a Soviet Diplomat. London: L. Dickson limited,1938, p. 229

On 16 December 1928 a high official of the GPU arrived from Moscow and presented him [Trotsky] with an “ultimatum”: he must cease at once his “counter-revolutionary activity” or else he would be “completely isolated from political life” and “forced to change his place of residence.” On the same day Trotsky replied with a defiant letter [declining all overtures] to the leaders of the party and of the International:…
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 468


And what happened was very bad. At a meeting of those who conducted the purges, it came to light that more than 60 percent of all books holdings have been withdrawn. There are libraries in which the portion of books withdrawn reached 80 or 90 percent. Correspondence from very different corners of the USSR indicates that the classics of philosophy, science, belles-lettres, and even revolutionary Marxism have been removed: Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Tolstoy, Turgenev, Goncharov, Dickens, Hugo, resolutions of party congresses, reports of congresses of soviets,… The names of these “withdrawn” authors alone indicate criminal activity in the way to purge was conducted.
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 78

[Sept. 15, 1932. Yaroslavski to Politburo on library purge]
Removed was all antireligious literature unmasking religion on the basis of scientific data (in spite of Lenin’s directions to use such literature widely), all trade union literature published before the Fifth Plenum of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Union’s Eighth Convocation [December 1928], literature about unemployment round-the-clock shift work and about the transition to the seven-hour work day, almost all popular literature regarding cooperatives, regarding social insurance, labor protection, and the building of kolkhozes and state farm’s published before 1930-31, all idealistic philosophers– except for Kant and Hegel–and the works of Spencer, Simmel, Bukharin, and others on historical materialism and sociology.
Several local boards of education, for example, went so far as to issue instructions to remove books such as Bebel’s, Lassalle’s, Plekhanov’s Our Differences, the works of Marx and Engels, Lenin’s The Development of Capitalism in Russia, and Stalin’s Articles on the National Question.
In some libraries, in Leningrad in particular, works of Marx and Engels edited by Riazanov are being withdrawn and, because in many libraries there are no other additions of Marx, this means that they are withdrawing almost all works by Marx and Engels.
Here is more factual evidence to show the extent of the purging zeal. Removed from the library at Siniavinsk Peatbogs in Leningrad Oblast were Tolstoy, Turgenev, Goncharov,… Kalinin, the “Communist Manifesto,” Chernyshevsky, books by Lenin, and so forth. From the Central Library of the Communications Union in Leningrad books by Rolland were removed, and this at a time when we are publishing Rolland’s letters and his appeal “War on War.” Removed from the library of the Glass Plant Named for October 25th in the Western Oblast were books by Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Krupskaya, Yaroslavski, Krylenko, Bubnov, Bedny, Turgenev,… and others.
As a consequence of all these books being removed and the utterly wild, scandalous “purge” of libraries, the staff of the All Union Central Council of Trade Unions published in the September 4, 1932 issue, No. 206, of the newspaper Trud a resolution suspending this kind of “purge” and instructing the Public Culture Department to appoint a special commission to disclose those who were responsible for erroneously removing books from trade union libraries and for transferring books from trade union book holdings to local boards of public education and selling them.
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 82-83

[Jan. 2, 1936 memorandum from Tal, Deputy Chairman of the Central Committee of the All Union Communist Party and Director of the Central Control Commission of the party to Orgburo “Concerning the Work of Glavlit”]

The political and economic section carries out final censoring for 32 publishing houses, ranging from the State Economics Publishing House to the State Medical Publishing House that publishes the Medical Encyclopedia, publications of the Central Committee of Esperantists, and so forth….
At the “Academy” publishing house, Glavlit’s authorized agent is Rubanovsky, who has received several party reprimands for Trotskyist errors and sympathy with the opposition’s views. (He worked in the publishing house while Kamenev was there and continues to work there even now.) Glavlit’s authorized agent at the Children’s Literature Publishing House Gorodetskaia, has received a severe reprimand and warning for permitting disclosure of a military secret.
Many political editors assigned to the leading newspapers are not sufficiently discerning in a political sense. They have a poor understanding of what they are supposed to do and often have a careless attitude toward their work. Because of this, a lack of uniform standards is quite often observed in the instructions given by political editors of various newspapers (one political editor passes what another prohibits); there is a huge number of anecdotal instances of very innocent things being prohibited, while strictly confidential information continues to find its way into newspapers.
If the state censorship at the center of the country is clearly unsatisfactory, then in the provinces, and especially in the raion’s, it is utterly catastrophic. With the exception of Leningrad, Sverdlovsk, Smolensk, Gorky, and Rostov, Glavlit has no real control over what is published. Almost everywhere in the raions control over the newspapers is entrusted as a tag-on job to the chairman of the raion, the military commissariat, or the raion party committee staff.
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 148-150

One of the key aspects on the “ideological front” was literature. In the first year of the First Five-Year Plan, its situation reflected, with a certain belatedness, the complex twists and turns of the intra-Party struggle. Representatives of leftist views, supporters of Trotsky, were still present on the staffs of literary journals and in literary associations, and adherents of the “right” still held important posts.
Nekrich and Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, c1986, p. 269


[1935 party review of higher educational institutions in Azov-Black Sea Krai]
During December 1934 and January 1935 in higher educational institutions and technical colleges there were a number of antiparty and counter-revolutionary sallies and speeches, most of which were not repulsed properly or in a timely fashion by party and Komsomol organizations. The faculties of higher educational institutions are severely infested with Trotskyists and the student body with class-alien and hostile elements who have easily infiltrated these institutions thanks to poorly organized admittance procedures.
More than a few alien and hostile elements have wormed their way into a number of these institutions’ Komsomol organizations (and the portion of Komsomol members in most of the institutions is significant: 30 to 40 percent). This explains why there have been quite a few instances of counter-revolutionary statements and speeches by Komsomol members….
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 134


The Akimov incident illustrates how weak is the political vigilance of party members at the Novocherkassk Industrial Institute. Akimov (not a party member), a recent graduate of the Institute’s Aviation Department given an appointment in plant No. 22, time and again expressed counter-revolutionary views when he was among party members, especially of late:
“Soviet authority can exist without communists. It’s much better for engineers to work for capitalists than in our industries…. Kirov’s murder wasn’t connected with Trotskyists; that’s all nonsense. Zinoviev is a good man. Each acted on behalf of the masses.”
Akimov was expelled from the Institute in 1934 for rowdiness, but several Communists vouched for him and he was readmitted and allowed to graduate. These Communists (Serdiukov, Gurenko, and Kabanov) have since been severely reprimanded by the party.
In Krasnodar, at the Kuban Pedagogical Technical College, student Diakov, ex-Komsomol member, systematically carried on counter-revolutionary conversations. This was known to a number of Komsomol members and Communists, but they did little to rebuff Diakov. As Diakov left the hall where a memorial service occasioned by Kirov’s murder was in progress, he said to a group of students: “One’s been done in, soon they’ll all be done in. They’ll all be killed off.”
Who is Diakov? It turns out he was expelled twice from a kolkhoz, once for acting under false pretenses, the second time for fouling up work records that caused a work brigade to fall apart. Yet this didn’t prevent him from being admitted as a student.
A student of the workers’ and peasants’ preparatory department [rabfak] at the Kuban Pedagogical Institute named Kriukova, who had been a member of the Komsomol since 1931, gave a note during class to the student next to her which read, “I salute Nikolayev for the murder of Kirov.”
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 136

[March 1935 memorandum from Stetsky on counter-revolutionary attitudes among students in Rybinsk]
As a result of acquainting myself with the situation there, the following became clear: At the Aviation Institute among the students (about 750 in all) it was revealed that two, Nekrasov and Voronov, carry on counter-revolutionary conversations with their classmates…. Nekrasov is a member of the Komsomol. He was reared in kulak surroundings: his mother is from a kulak family, one uncle is a dispossessed kulak. A year or two ago Nekrasov also expressed counter-revolutionary views to Komsomol members he was living with. About the building of the White Sea-Baltic Canal, he said, for example, “They built the Canal on human bones.” This is the language of the enemy. In connection with the murder of Comrade Kirov he began to make vile comments about how “it wasn’t worth risking anyone’s life to kill Kirov. The main leaders, not the accessories, need to be killed.” As a result of statements like this he was exposed by students who were party and Komsomol members as early as December 1934.
The second, Voronov, is the son of a specialist, his year of birth 1912, a member of the Komsomol, originally from the Azov-Black Sea Krai. In Voronov too counter-revolutionary sentiments manifested themselves a long time ago. He was expelled from an institute in Novocherkassk. He refused to take part in a day of voluntary labor (subbotnik) and was a blatant individualist who refused to participate in community work. Voronov after December 1 made comments about the murder of Comrade Kirov that were out-and-out counter-revolutionary. He said: “In my opinion [it] was poorly organized. They bungled the whole business. But this won’t be the end of the matter.” Students who were Komsomol members argued with Voronov, but they did not unmask him completely, and only after December 1 when he revealed himself more clearly did they tell the NKVD about him.
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 138


[March 1935 memorandum from Stetsky on the social and economic sciences faculty]
Recently, numerous facts have demonstrated that social and economic sciences faculties are infested with former members of the opposition, double dealers, people who once belonged to other parties, and so forth. This points to a lack of proper leadership and to the slipshod way in which faculty members are appointed….
As a rule issues related to the appointment of faculty have not been of great concern to central administrative bodies until recently. These bodies do not have an accurate picture of who is teaching the social and economic sciences.
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 139

[March 1935 memorandum “Concerning the Moral and Political State of Pedagogical Institutes” from Yezhov and Shkiriatov]
Our inspection revealed that three Moscow higher educational institutions administered by Narkompros (The History and Philosophy Institute, the Moscow Oblast Institute, and the Bubnov Institute) are infested with alien and anti-Soviet elements and that their activity has increased greatly since the murder of Comrade Kirov. Dozens of students in the classes and in the dormitories of these institutes have carried on counter-revolutionary conversations ranging from an open defense of bourgeois theories to direct threats against Comrade STALIN. At the History and Philosophy Institute 50 percent of the students in the literature department did not participate in Comrade Kirov’s funeral. In this department an anti-Soviet group consisting of 12 persons was formed at the end of October 1934 by a first-year student and Trotskyist named Tager and a non-party member named Rudiakova…. In the Bubnov Pedagogical Institute after the murder of Comrade Kirov some 20 students with an anti-Soviet orientation were exposed. The reasons that such a political situation exists at the Institutes are (1) infestation of the institutes due to admissions practices, (2) the presence of antiparty and anti-Soviet elements among members of the institutes’ faculty, and (3) the absence of Bolshevik vigilance on the part of the Institutes’ party organizations and weak mass-party work.
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 144

[III. Alien and anti-Soviet elements on the institutes’ faculty]
The History and Philosophy Institute was headed by former “Bundist” and Trotskyist Prigozhin, who had been an influential participant in an illegal counter-revolutionary Trotskyist organization until 1927. A double-dealer, he repudiated Trotskyism in the books he wrote, yet later, in his lectures, defended his Trotskyist views. When he came to the institute, he concealed from the institute’s party organization his former struggle against the party and thereby succeeded in becoming a member of the raion council. As the Institutes director he continued to pursue his Trotskyist line, transforming the institute into a mecca for Trotskyist faculty (25 in number) and of bourgeois specialists (11). These included Sten, a representative of the right-left bloc; Torbin, a Trotskyist expelled from the party who introduced Trotskyism into his teaching; Burtsev, assistant professor of political economy and formerly a very active Trotskyist; Ryndich, instructor of the history of the peoples of the USSR, and Goldenberg, instructor of Leninism, both ex-Trotskyists; Novikov, professor of dialectic materialism, an ex-Menshevik who sneaked idealist views into his teaching; Grishin, professor of Leninism, an ex-Bundist, who on Jan. 7 of this year at the Higher School of Communist Police passed counter-revolutionary Trotskyist directives with regard to a Zinovievist counter-revolutionary group; Feigelson, expelled from the Party in 1927 for belonging to a Zinovievist group; Gingor, ex-Trotskyist, exiled in 1929; Dakhshleger, a prominent ex-Menshevik recently fired for fascist, anti-Soviet attacks; Professor Kanchalovsky, who in his classes drew an analogy between slavery in ancient Greece and the economy of the Soviet Union; Bakhrushin and Got’e, professors of ancient history from former merchant families at one time exiled from Moscow; Liubomirov ex-SR; Gratsiansky, at one time purged from the All Union Council of the National Economy Staff; Asmus and Dynnik, ex-Menshevik sympathizers and idealists, Rubin, who was connected with the anti-Soviet group in the Literature Department; Gorev, who from 1907 to 1920 had been an active member of the Menshevik Liquidator faction, Yegorov, recently fired for teaching contraband Trotskyist views; Iskrinsky, the son of a priest who graduated from the Moscow Theological Academy; and so forth. All these faculty members worked unmonitored by the office of academic affairs and their departments and could day after day freely exert their corrupting influence on the backward part of the heterogeneous student body, stirring up anti-Soviet sentiments.
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 145

He [Prigozhin] approved programs which, instead of the vulgar sociology of past years, were full of fresh new bourgeois empiricism and positivism. Interpreting an All Union Communist Party resolution about the teaching of the historical sciences to be a repudiation of Marxist-Leninist methodology. Prigozhin legalized the counter-revolutionary bourgeois teaching of history, particularly in the literature department, where the teaching of ancient and medieval history and history of ancient medieval literature and art is the monopoly of old nonparty professors, who in fact pursue bourgeois political directives, skillfully disguising them with “witticisms” and an “objective” exposition of the subject matter.
Prigozhin’s policies thus meant that a department in a Soviet ideological higher educational institution was handed over to a large group of enemies of our party and of Soviet power.
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 146


He [Orlov] had been an early member of the Cheka, and underground Soviet “illegal” in the 1930s in many European capitals and he was the NKVD rezident in Republican Spain when he left his post in Barcelona in the summer of 1938….
Costello, John and Oleg Tsarev. Deadly illusions. New York: Crown, c1993, p. xi

Orlov’s contribution was so far-reaching that a former senior CIA officer describes him as “the single most versatile, powerful, and productive officer in the 73 year history of the Soviet intelligence services.”
Costello, John and Oleg Tsarev. Deadly illusions. New York: Crown, c1993, p. 389

Exploiting the political turmoil of the civil war with a natural talent for deception and disguise, Reilly was soon running extensive underground operations in Russia for Lockhart and MI6. Using forged documentation, he managed to get himself appointed a commissar for the transportation of automobile spare parts during the evacuation of Petrograd, commuting to his apartment in Moscow on the special train reserved for Bolshevik officials. Dispensing several million rubles to the clergy through Patriarch Tikhon, Reilly’s plotting culminated in his bribing of the commander of a Lettish division of riflemen, Berzin, who had been introduced by Reilly to Lockhart as a potential leader of a military putsch to overthrow the Petrograd Revolutionary Government.
Costello, John and Oleg Tsarev. Deadly illusions. New York: Crown, c1993, p. 22-23

(Sinclair’s comments only)
That Germany and Poland, Romania and Japan have been filling the Soviet Union with spies and provocateurs is something which no sensible person will doubt for a moment. If such persons were sent into this country [the United States], and committed wholesale wrecking of machinery and destruction of human life, we should shoot them; and no doubt other nations which were getting ready to make war on us would denounce it as a terrible and barbarous action.
Sinclair and Lyons. Terror in Russia?: Two Views. New York : Rand School Press, 1938, p. 13

(Sinclair’s comments only)
You speak to the “obscene show trials.” I have searched your letter for any hint of the possibility that some men may actually have been guilty of waging war against the present Stalin regime inside Russia. I searched also in vain for any hint as to what Hitler and Araki [Japanese leader], to say nothing of the militarists of Great Britain, Poland, Romania, etc., may have been doing, or trying to do, inside the Soviet Union.
To me it seems the most elementary of political and military inevitabilities that secret war should be going on against the Soviet Union, and that reactionary intriguers provided with unlimited funds should be making whatever use they can of revolutionary extremism inside that country.
Arguments have a way of centering about personalities, and the question has become whether Trotsky accepted help from Hitler. I do not know anything about that, and I am not especially interested in it, because Trotsky does not loom that much in my mind. But I know that when unlimited funds are available, and when subtle and highly trained agents are working inside a political movement to use it, they can find plenty of ways of passing out money while keeping secret the sources from which the money has come.
Sinclair and Lyons. Terror in Russia?: Two Views. New York : Rand School Press, 1938, p. 26

I remember another attempt to penetrate the Comintern in about 1927, when Otto introducted me to a Hungarian communist named Thomsen: he made a good impression, spoke fluent German, and seemed a highly promising addition to Otto’s staff. But, less than a week later, he was arrested, as his photograph and details were found recorded in a list of anti-Communist agents drawn up by the German Party. Naturally he was executed.
Kuusinen, Aino. The Rings of Destiny. New York: Morrow, 1974, p. 75

…there is nothing unusual, strange, fantastic, in the revelations of the Rajk and Kostov trials. The use of agents to penetrate the working-class movement and disrupt it from within is as old as capitalism itself. The methods of espionage and provocation exposed at the trials, far from being “un-British” or “un-American,” were methods that were first developed on a wide scale by British capitalism and have been developed to their fullest extent by the stoolpigeon state of America.
Between the First and Second World Wars, it became the regular habit of the Intelligence Services of the great capitalist powers to infiltrate spies, not only into the working-class and progressive movements of their own countries, but also into those of the smaller capitalist states. The secret services of the weaker capitalist states, including the states of Eastern Europe, were trained by, and often came under the indirect supervision of, the Intelligence of the great powers. Now M.I.5, now the Gestapo, now American intelligence, and now the French Deuxieme Bureau, would issue its orders and receive its reports. Some of the stoolpigeons and even police chiefs of the smaller powers would often take orders (and money) from several great powers at the same time. In any case, whilst all the great powers were busy spying on each other, they all had an equal interest in perfecting the machinery to disrupt and spy on the working-class and progressive movements of all countries.
And if they were ready to play their part in spying on and disrupting the working-class and progressive movement of the world when it was fighting in opposition to capitalism and reaction, how much more did the Intelligence services of the great powers endeavor to penetrate and disrupt the working-class movement in the country where the workers ruled–the USSR! From October 1917 to spy on the Soviet Union became the central task of every capitalist Intelligence service throughout the world–to penetrate into the CPSU its highest aim. Hundreds of White Russians were employed by political and military Intelligence in Britain, France, Germany, America. Anti-Soviet hatred became the motor force of capitalist Intelligence.
It was from this that flowed the immense interest of all the capitalist Intelligence services in the Trotskyist and other factional currents in the world Communist movement in the 1920s and 1930s. Wherever groups could be discovered in Communist Parties that were secretly covering up their existence, that were deviating from Marxism-Leninism, that were nursing personal grudges and grievances and hiding them from the party, imperialist Intelligence became interested.
Klugmann, James. From Trotsky to Tito. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1951, p. 73

Thus the imperialists’ Intelligence services went all out to recruit the Trotskyites and other secret groupings like Bukharinites and Zinovievites into their ranks, swelled these factions with their own specially trained agents, and above all in the ’30s Trotskyism became a type of police Marxism, a platform for agents in the labor movement. In Germany and Poland, as well as in the West, police agents specializing in the labor movement were given special courses in Trotskyism.
The contradictions of capitalism, deepening between the wars, did not allow the dreams of the imperialists, the dreams of a world-wide united capitalist crusade against the Soviet Union, to come to fruition. The Second World War was not the war they had dreamed of. The Intelligence services of Germany, Britain, France, and America found themselves technically at war with each other. But Western Intelligence, trained on anti-Sovietism, could not lightly give up its aims. Though British and American Intelligence personnel were technically at war with the Gestapo, with the Abwehr, for the most part the real enemy remained the Soviet Union and the Communist Parties, the working-class and progressive movements of all countries.
Annabelle Bucar, who worked for a time for the OSS, wrote in The Truth about American Diplomats:
“Working in the OSS, I very soon discovered that the main Intelligence activities of the organization were directed not only against Germany but also against the Soviet Union…. The anti-Soviet direction of the activities of the American Intelligence organizations is confirmed by the fact that during the war which the United States fought in alliance with the Soviet Union against fascist Germany, the Russian subdivision was the largest in the OSS.”
Klugmann, James. From Trotsky to Tito. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1951, p. 75-76

Ever since the October Revolution of 1917, the great imperialist powers have worked more and more ruthlessly to develop a system of spies and provocateurs, not only in their own countries, not only in their own countries, not only in their colonial or dependent territories, not only in other weaker capitalist states, but especially to penetrate the USSR, the country where the working people led by the working-class first assumed power.
The great imperialist states worked between the wars to develop a system of spies and agents as a fifth column against the first socialist state. In the Soviet Union the great conspiracy of the imperialists which began with Kolchak and Denikin continued with Trotsky & Bukharin.
Klugmann, James. From Trotsky to Tito. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1951, p. 78

But here is the Socialist Courier, published in Paris on March 25, 1937: ” There is no question that the Germans have managed to have their agents in the USSR penetrate the most responsible positions.”
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 446


In the Komsomol, for example, there was surprisingly frank resistance to Stalinism as late as 1935. The Secret Archive from Smolensk province reveals the extent of this feeling. In a Komsomol discussion on the Kirov assassination, one member is quoted as saying, “When Kirov was killed they allowed free trade in bread; when Stalin is killed, all the kolkhozes will be divided up.”… Another teacher accused Stalin of having transformed the party into a gendarmerie over the people. A nine-year-old Pioneer was reported to have shouted, “Down with Soviet Power! When I grow up, I’m going to kill Stalin.” An eleven year old schoolboy was overheard saying, “Under Lenin we lived well, but under Stalin we live badly.” And a 16 year old student was said to have declared, “They killed Kirov ; now let them kill Stalin.” There were even occasional expressions of sympathy for the opposition.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 51

As we have seen, openly seditious remarks were noted in their (the youngest generation of Communists) ranks by the NKVD. More threatening still, the Kirov murder inspired various groups to talk of, and even to plan, in an amateurish fashion which was no match for the police of the new regime, the killing of Stalin.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 78


Sylakov and his fellow accused were re-interrogated with the view to getting them to withdraw their confessions. Some of them, fearing a trick, refused, and had…to force them to withdraw false confessions involving them in crimes carrying the death penalty! Sylakov himself was finally sentenced to three years imprisonment for denunciation only.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 254


Both Davidovitch [Trotsky] and Abramovich [Yoffe] gave the impression of men so obsessed with their party feud with Koba that they would swallow anything, even be willing to sacrifice important projects they themselves had advocated simply in order to win the political support of the younger Communists….
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 25


Arrests are being carried out among members of the Commissariat for Foreign Trade. Mikoyan doesn’t stand up for his staff. His logic is simple: any supporter of the Opposition is a “son of a bitch.”
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 144


While working on the portion of Trotsky’s archive which opened in 1980, the American historian J. Arch Getty and the French historian Broue, independently of each other, discovered documents which indicate that Trotsky and Sedov entered into contact with participants in an anti-Stalinist bloc which was being formed. Thus, in a report to the International Secretariat of the Left Opposition written in 1934, Sedov stated that members of Smirnov’s group, who had broken in 1929 with the Left Opposition, three years later had once again rejoined it and conducted negotiations with members of other former opposition groups about creating and anti-Stalinist bloc.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 62


The writer [Feuchtwanger] recalled that he told Stalin “about the poor impression which was made abroad, even on people favorably disposed to the USSR, by the overly simple devices in the Zinoviev trial. Stalin laughed a bit at those who, before agreeing to believe in a conspiracy, demand to see a large number of written documents; experienced conspirators, he noted, rarely are accustomed to keeping their documents in an open place.” Stalin aroused particular trust in Feuchtwanger by the fact that he spoke “with sorrow and consternation” about his friendly attitude toward Radek, who nevertheless had betrayed him.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 129


[Report to the 18th Congress on March 10, 1939]
Certain foreign pressmen have been talking drivel to the effect that the purging of Soviet organizations of spies, assassins and wreckers like Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Yakir, Tukhachevsky, Rosengoltz, Bukharin and other fiends has “shaken” the Soviet system and caused its “demoralisation.” All this cheap drivel deserves is laughter and scorn. How can the purging of Soviet organizations of noxious and hostile elements shake and demoralize the Soviet system? This Trotsky-Bukharin bunch of spies, assassins, and wreckers, who kowtowed to the foreign world, who were possessed by a slavish instinct to growel before every foreign bigwig and were ready to serve him as spies–this handful of people who did not understand that the humblest Soviet citizen, being free from the fetters of capital, stands head and shoulders above any high-placed foreign bigwig whose neck wears the yoke of capitalist slavery–who needs this miserable band of venal slaves, of what value can they be to the people, and whom can they “demoralize”? In 1937 Tukhachevsky, Yakir, Uborevitch and other fiends were sentenced to be shot. After that, the elections to the supreme Soviet of the USSR were held. In these selections, 98.6 percent of the total vote was cast for the Soviet power. At the beginning of 1938 Rosengoltz, Rykov, Bukharin and other fiends were sentenced to be shot. After that, the elections to the Supreme Soviets of the Union Republics were held. In these elections 99.4 percent of the total vote was cast for the Soviet power. Where are the symptoms of “demoralisation,” we would like to know, and why was this “demoralisation” not reflected in the results of the elections?
Franklin, Bruce, Ed. The Essential Stalin; Major Theoretical Writings. Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1972, p. 368


(Sinclair’s comments only)
From my point of view, the Russians have been at war during the past 20 years. It has been not merely a war of blockade, of intrigue and sabotage and spying and wholesale lying, it has also been a preparation against military attack, a mere lull between battles. I have known for 20 years that the Russians were going to be attacked again whenever reaction felt that it had the power. I have told them that on every occasion, and have never blamed them for defending themselves and preparing for further defense. Their political liberties in the meantime have been and could be only such as are possible for a people at war; and if you remember the years 1917 to 1920 in our own country, you know that they are not the ideal civil liberties such as we all hope to enjoy in the co-operative commonwealth of the future.
And now have come Mussolini, and then Hitler, and then the Mikado. I used to be asked, during our EPIC campaign, to define Fascism, and my answer was, “Fascism is capitalism plus murder.” A year or more ago, addressing the Western Writers Congress, I made the statement that “Al Capone is a scholar, a statesman, and a gentleman compared with the men who are running Italy and Germany today.” The events which have come to our unhappy world since that time cause me to add Franco and the Japanese gangsters to that list.
Sinclair and Lyons. Terror in Russia?: Two Views. New York : Rand School Press, 1938, p. 22

[A GPU official, Denisov, said to Ciliga] “Our responsibility is too great for us to afford the luxury of the broad democracy of which you dream. Abroad your criticism of the Soviet regime would not benefit the proletariat but only the bourgeois and fascist counter-revolution. If the Revolution of 1918 had spread to Germany and the rest of Europe then, of course, with the support of the more highly developed West, our regime would be better, more ideal, life would have been easier, criticism more free, democracy less restricted. But we have remained alone in the most difficult circumstances.”
Ciliga, Ante, The Russian Enigma. London: Ink Links, 1979, p. 489

[Denisov, a GPU official, also said] “You are a strange person, Ciliga. Why is it that you don’t want to understand hard reality, the painful truth: one can’t build socialism with kid gloves.”
Ciliga, Ante, The Russian Enigma. London: Ink Links, 1979, p. 495


(Sinclair’s comments only)
I have had much to say in books and magazines and newspaper statements widely published in the Soviet Union. I have told them that no physical and moral enslavement they can suffer under their own collectivist system is to be compared to the physical and moral enslavement they will suffer if the predatory capitalist powers are able to overcome them in war, or to seduce them by propaganda and intrigue. I have told them to preserve their unity, and to consider themselves in a state of siege, and to prepare to resist the onslaughts of the capitalist world–which they are diligently doing, as you know.
Just how capitalist attack will come, and what nations will take part in it, I do not attempt to guess. Hitler has all ready stated his intention to seize the Ukraine with its treasures. Japan has made perfectly plain its intention to cut off Siberia at Lake Baikal. We now see that Hitler is going to have the help of Austria, and will probably make a deal with Poland and divide the Baltic states with that country, so as to have the help of all these. It seems likely that he will swallow and digest Czechoslovakia and Hungary, and maybe Rumania, before he feels “the day” has come.
Sinclair and Lyons. Terror in Russia?: Two Views. New York : Rand School Press, 1938, p. 55

(Sinclair’s comments only)
The capitalist-Fascist war against the Soviet Union seems to me as certain as anything in human affairs can be. And this, which to me is the one “terrific immediacy,” is to you merely a “rationalization.” I can only repeat that in my view the Soviet Union is today a city under siege, and its people enjoy only such liberties as are possible under those circumstances. Whether such limitation of liberty is right or wrong is a subject which ethical theorists may debate, but the universal experience of mankind is that the people in besieged cities are simply not permitted to intrigue, or even to agitate, against the regime which is defending the city. When they confess to having performed actions of conspiracy and sabotage, they are treated as spies and traitors. As you know, we hanged Major Andre, and you can hardly doubt that we should have hanged Benedict Arnold if we had been able to catch him.
Sinclair and Lyons. Terror in Russia?: Two Views. New York : Rand School Press, 1938, p. 57


The military oppositionists included, for example, Pyatakov, the present director of the State Bank. He usually joined every opposition, only to wind up as a government official. Three or four years ago, when Pyatakov belonged to the same group as I did, I prophesied in jest that in the event of a Bonapartist coup d’etat, Pyatakov would go to the office the next day with his brief-case. Now I can add more earnestly that if this fails to come about, it will only be through lack of a Bonapartist coup d’etat and not through any fault of Pyatakov’s. In the Ukraine, he enjoyed considerable influence, not by accident but because he is a fairly well-educated Marxist, especially in the realm of economics, and is undoubtedly a good administrator, with a reserve of will. In the early years, Pyatakov showed revolutionary energy, but it later changed to a bureaucratic conservatism. In fighting his semi-anarchist views, I resorted to giving him an important post from the very outset, so that he would have to change from words to deeds. This method is not new, but often is very efficacious. His administrative sense soon prompted him to apply the very methods against which he had been waging his war of words.
Trotsky, Leon. My Life. Gloucester, Massachusetts: P. Smith, 1970, p. 439


The Russian emigre organizations did, after all, engage in political warfare against the USSR and disseminated all kinds of disinformation.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 86


[From Kurt Tippelskirch. History of World War II. Foreign Literature Publishing House, Moscow, 1956]
“Espionage, which in other countries was conducted under the guise of harmless private business activity, was, in fact, useless in the Soviet Union’s conditions of the centrally planned economic management….”
Zhukov, Georgii. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 302


Thus, at 17 [in 1922] he [Trotsky’s son Sedov] began the life of a fully conscious revolutionist. He quickly grasped the art of conspiratorial work, illegal meetings, and the secret issuing and distribution of Opposition documents. The Komsomol rapidly developed its own cadres of Opposition leaders.
Trotsky, Leon. Leon Sedoff. New York City: Young People’s Socialist League, (Fourth Internationalists), 1938, p. 8

During the first years of emigration he [Sedov] engaged in a vast correspondence with Oppositionists in the USSR. But by 1932 the GPU destroyed virtually all our connections. It became necessary to seek fresh information through devious channels. Leon Sedov was always on the lookout, avidly searching for connecting threads with Russia, hunting up returning tourists, soviet students assigned abroad, or sympathetic functionaries in the foreign representations.
Trotsky, Leon. Leon Sedoff. New York City: Young People’s Socialist League, (Fourth Internationalists), 1938, p. 15


During a large Central Committee meeting, over the heads of the presidium from the ceiling, there flew a piece of cement from the rafters–landing right on the presidium table. The security did not dare cause a commotion, but in the evening, they went to investigate where this could have come from. Sure enough, someone put it there and with the movement in the meeting hall, opening and closing of doors, this piece of cement was meant to land and cause a furor.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 28


The plots and conspiracies of imperialism against countries of socialism or People’s Democracy are not simple and do not follow a single line. The imperialists work through all possible channels– disposessed landlords or big industrialists, former leaders of the Army, police or secret police, through kulaks, nationalists, degenerate elements, drug addicts, former common criminals, through renegade Communists or right-wing labor leaders, through agents and provocateurs inserted into revolutionary organizations. They try to keep all possible contacts, all possible counter-revolutionary elements on their string at the same time….
This was shown clearly enough in the successive imperialist attempts to overthrow the dictatorship of the proletariat in the Soviet Union, and to restore a Russian capitalism subservient to the West. First they tried through the open war of intervention to base themselves on the Tsarist White Guards, on the Russian landlords and capitalists, the old officers and police. When this failed, for a long period they tried to base their counter-revolutionary conspiracies on the kulaks, and when the kulaks were finally eliminated as a class, it was the secret agents of imperialism inside the Communist Party, the Trotskyite and other parallel “opposition” groups hitherto a reserve, who became in the middle thirties their main hope, their main weapon, for the overthrow of socialism and the reversal of history.
Klugmann, James. From Trotsky to Tito. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1951, p. 45-46

[As Stalin stated to a meeting of Activists of the Moscow Committee of the CPSU on April 13, 1928]: It would be stupid to imagine that international capital will leave us in peace. No, comrades, this is not so. Classes exist, international capital exists and it cannot calmly view the development of the country building Socialism. (Stalin Collected Works, VOL. 11, pp. 54-55)
Klugmann, James. From Trotsky to Tito. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1951, p. 55

…if the whole history of the Soviet Union, encircled and isolated in its age-old poverty and backwardness, had not been an almost uninterrupted sequence of calamities, emergencies, and crises threatening the nation’s very existence. Almost every emergency and crisis posed all major issues of national policy on the knife’s edge, set the Bolshevik factions and groupings at loggerheads,….
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 464


In Mussolini’s Italy of the 1930s, when it meant long terms of imprisonment, and perhaps torture or even death, to be in any way connected with the Communist Party, and when not only all the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin, but the works of all Italian and foreign democrats and progressives were strictly banned from Italian libraries and bookshops, the works of Trotsky, on the “new kind of communism” were “freely” and widely translated and distributed. I remember vividly how in 1938, passing through Italy on the way to meet the anti-fascist and Communist students of Belgrade University, and spending a few hours in Mussolini’s Milan, the word “communism” caught my eye on a number of books prominently displayed in a bookshop window. They were newly translated works of Trotsky.
In Hitler’s Germany, when to be a Communist or Socialist or militant trade unionist or liberal or democrat meant arrest, the concentration camp, and often death and torture, when there was instituted one of the most thoroughgoing “purges” of literature and burning of books that the world has ever known, when Schiller’s Don Carlos, the poems of Heine, and the novels of Thomas Mann were banned or burned as “subversive,” the writings of Trotsky were widely translated and distributed.
Trotsky’s writings and those of his followers were freely published in the middle and late 30s by the Hearst Press in America. His works on his “new kind of communism” were published by the Franco Press at Salamanca and Burgos. The secret police of the Polish dictatorship were specially educated in Trotskyism in order to facilitate their work of espionage and disruption inside the Polish working-class movement.
Klugmann, James. From Trotsky to Tito. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1951, p. 81-82


[Report by the Secretary of the Central Committee, Kuznetsov, regarding the Terms of Reference for Elections of the “Honor Courts”–Sept. 29, 1947]

Our Central Committee has uncovered the slavish attitude and cooperation with and detrimental dealings with foreign powers by the former director of the HydroMeteorological Complex–Fedorov. Let me just say the following: that all of our materials which we utilize in the sphere of HydroMeteorological work, in this sphere also top-secret inventions and research documents, found themselves in the hands of the British and Americans; besides this, English and American agents were permitted to work and direct their activities without hindrance, as if they were in their own home. Only the following facts show the extent of the activity of these agents: I’m just giving a sketchy analysis of what transpired between this Director and the American Military Attache and the Naval Attache–the director and these attaches met 88 times, the Director of the hydroelectrical and meteorological enterprises from the USA met with the Director–55 times; employees of the British and American embassies met with the Director 41 times.
This came to such a point that the Director of our Ministry had built a special secure office, where these foreign spies behaved as if this Ministry and enterprise belonged to them and besides this, they found out all of our secrets. On top of this, the American and British spies were given documents which were marked by the military as “TOP SECRET,” only for the “Research Staff.” Systematically, there followed letters, schematic detailed drawings, analyses of projects, plus the secret directives and plans of the Central Committee regarding future self-defense projects. By the decision of the Central Committee and Soviet of Ministers, Fedorov was dismissed from his post and his rank as General was taken away from him and he will be tried by the ” Honor Court.”
In the Ministry of Agriculture, the Director of the All Union Institute of plant-growing research, Shlykov sent to a foreign agricultural expert–at that time in Moscow–a couple of years old research samples of alfalfa. In his letter to this American, he promised to send…him the researched seeds of great value to the Soviet State. In this, he was not successful; he was caught beforehand.
In the Ministry of Transport (railways), Professor Popov, trying to make an impression in foreign countries, published in an American journal an article on the “Theory of Orthopedic Focus.” The article has a very important analysis for our country in doing designs for transportation railway cars on our railways system. In this article, all the research that our state paid for was given free of charge to the Americans.
I will not go into details about what we found in the Ministry of Oil and Gas, in the Forest Ministry, in the Academy of Sciences, in many Ministries and establishments of the research and technical spheres.
I will also not dwell on the details of this “slavish bending of the knee” in front of foreign powers by some sections of our intelligentsia. They were outlined in detail in the Secret Letter that you received from the Central Committee of the party.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 80-82

Let us take another example. Not too long ago, the Ministry of State Control uncovered actions by the Northern Research Institute which is responsible for studying the northern regions around the North Pole. Secret research materials were sold to the Americans. Americans received over 2000 books, brochures, data and research materials with concrete results of our research in the last 25 years of our labor and expense. And you know now how the Americans are studying and showing keen interest in the northern regions of our country, just across the North Pole. All that we accumulated by our scientists about the North in the last 25 years–all this research material was given to Americans.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 86

We do have such people in our Central Committee, we must keep in mind the fact that foreign secret services are always trying to get to the heart of our party–to get their agents both internal and external–into the Central Committee. If the foreign secret services cannot get into their net a worker of the Central Committee, then they try through their family or friends.
Here are some examples. In these examples, I will name families. I will not judge them here now, but they were in the employ of our Central Committee and are now expelled.
At the beginning of this year, a [young female] student studying foreign languages, Kharlamova, who was tied in with foreign secret agents,….got acquainted with an American spy, Tokarev, [who was] working in the Central Committee of the party. Later it became known that Tokarev drank with this spy and talked. He did not report this to the Central Committee. Why did the [female] foreign secret service [agent] get interested? Because he was a nice looking man, it would be a pleasure to get to know him? No. It was necessary through this worker to find out what was happening in the Central Committee.
Another example. In the Central Committee apparatus, there worked a certain Kalinin, who, through his sister, was acquainted with a woman who was in the employ of the American secret service. This Kalinin met with this spy regularly, even sharing the same living quarters. Can we allow an employee, a Communist in the service of the Central Committee to work in the Central Committee any longer? He was removed,…
In our Central Committee, there worked a certain Chervintsev. He had contact, not with a low ranking British spy, but with the top Secretary of the British Embassy, while hiding this fact from the Central Committee.
Not too long ago, arrested after being uncovered as an agent of American secret services, director of foreign language publishing house, before that he had held the rank of Director of Ministry of Propaganda–Suchkov. His anti-Soviet feelings were somehow overlooked and he then boldly got in touch with an American spy agency and was taken on as a spy. Traveling to America and back while working in the USSR Embassy in Washington, he was giving secrets to the Americans over many years.
I would like to have an answer from Comrade Alexandrov and Comrade Shcherbakov. How was a person of this caliber raised and promoted into the Central Committee in a very responsible position?
Because he knew some foreign languages, is that the only criteria to have him employed in the Central Committee? He was hired as a specialist. Comrade Alexandrov often uses this word “specialist” when we ask him at the Politburo of the Central Committee. He defends his work by arguing that in “My department, there are 250 specialists.”
I ask, since when do we hire communists for the Central Committee apparatus who call themselves “specialists” and not Communists-Bolsheviks?
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 91-93

Voroshilov admitted also that: “I, as a People’s Commissar…must admit that I not only did not see or realize what these elements were preparing for our country, but even when our state security organs showed me irrefutable proof of people such as Gorbachev, Feldman, and others… [Gorbachev was a family relative of the late 1980s leader of the Soviet Union] I did not want to believe that these people, working with us could be capable of performing such terrible criminality. I am to blame in this very much…. I repeat again, that no one signaled to me or to the Central Committee about what these elements were preparing, that inside our Command, we have this counter-revolutionary conspiracy!”
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 102


[In a June 1937 speech Stalin said], We can ask ourselves the question: How is it possible that these people yesterday were communists, and now have become deadly weapons against us? Why? Because they were compromised. Today, the Germans demand from them–give more information. If you will not give, we already have your passport and your papers, that you are now our employee, we shall publish them. Under the terror of being exposed, they give and gather information. Tomorrow, the German master’s demand: No, this is not enough, obtain more information and you will receive money, give us your papers and passport. After that, they demand–start spreading lies, start disrupting the work of the Central Committee. At the beginning, start arguments, diversions. If you will show that you are on our side, things will improve. If you do not comply, we shall expose you, tomorrow we shall give all this information to Soviet agents and your heads will roll. These people start diversions. After that, the Germans say– No, somehow you must start something in the Kremlin itself or in the Moscow Army Garrison and try to get [all] the top army-command posts you can. These newly recruited spies start to do whatever they can to fulfill the German commands so that they would not be exposed. Further, this also becomes too small and too little for the Germans. They demand something more concrete, more noteworthy. They comply by assassinating Kirov. Well, you will get paid, you did an excellent job. They are urged to go further, can’t you make certain that the whole government will be overthrown?
The spies then start organizing through Enukidze, through Gorbachev, Egorov, who was then the Commander of the Army School for Officers, which was situated in the Kremlin. They are told to organize a group who will then proceed to arrest the Government. News flashes back to the German High Command that there is such a group, we shall do everything, we shall arrest and go further. But according to the German Masters, this is not enough, to arrest and to kill a few dozens of responsible leaders–what about the people, the Army? Well, these spies reply that they have such a post, such a command in their hands and we ourselves, they state, are in command now, here we have Tukhachevsky, here we have Uborevitch, and here is Yakir.
…This is a military-political espionage, make no mistake [about it]. I feel that these people are marionettes and dolls in the hands of Reich intelligence. The German fascists wanted there to be a plot and these people started this conspiracy. The Reich wants these people to give them systematically military secrets and these elements started to gather the secrets and passed them on to their masters. The Reich wanted to change the government of the USSR, these traitors undertook this job as well, but they did not succeed. The Reich intelligence wanted that in case of war, everything would be ready for their success, that the Red Army would automatically go over to the German side, that our army would not be ready to defend our Motherland. This was wanted by the Reich and this is what these elements tried to accomplish. This “Agentura” was composed of 10 spies and three experienced leaders–13 spies that are traitors to our country. This conspiracy was not only an internal matter for our country–it became also an external policy of Germany and the political aims of the Reichstag intelligence agency. These people tried to make out of the USSR another Spain, by finding among us traitors, then they compromised them to do their bidding. This is the situation that we are facing now.
Tukhachevsky in particular, who played the role of a noble man, was not involved in small details. We considered him as a capable military figure. I asked him personally: “How could you, in the course of three months, allow the decimation of a division of soldiers to only 7000? What is this? This is an ignoramous, not a military leader. What kind of division is this [composed] of only 7000 soldiers? This is only a division without artillery, or a division with artillery but without escorts. In reality, this is not a division–this is shameful. How can you have allowed this to happen?” I asked Tukhachevsky: “How can you, a person who calls himself an expert in army matters, how can you demand that we comply with your wishes and make all of our divisions to be composed of only 7000 soldiers? Not only that, that our divisions have only 40-60 howitzers and 20 cannons. There could be only one of two things: either you eliminate all the equipment to the devil and only have cannons or eliminate the cannons and have just the other equipment! What is it going to be?” He tells me: “Comrade Stalin, you are exaggerating.” This is not exaggeration at all–this is sabotage being carried out by the German High Command.
There, you have this core and what it represents? Did these elements ever vote with Trotsky? Rudzutak never voted for Trotsky, but became a sleuth. Enukidze also never voted with Trotsky, but also became a spy. Well, here is your argument: who voted for whom?
What about the question of whether these enemies came from a landowner family? I do not know who is left of these people on trial, aside from Tukhachevsky. Class composition from where these elements come from has no significance. In every case, we must judge by the deeds, not family. For many years, these people had contact with German intelligence agencies and were performing espionage. Of course, most of them were vacillating and did not perform their work of espionage well. I believe that very few of them performed their spying from beginning to the logical end…. The German Reichswehr, as an enormous power, ensnared for itself dissatisfied elements, weak people, and weak people must do the bidding of their masters. A slave is always a slave if he so wishes. This is what is meant by falling into the trap of espionage. If you fall on this wheel, whether you want to or not, it will keep on turning on the road to the end. This is the basis. Not because of their politics, no one asked them about their politics. These are just people who do favors and get ensnared.
…They were in the service of German intelligence. The Germans commanded, gave orders, and these villains carried out the orders. These idiots thought that we are so blind, that we do not see anything. These villains wanted to arrest the Soviet government in the Kremlin. But it shows that we saw what was happening. They wanted to have in the Moscow Army Garrison their own people and to start an uprising in the army. They thought that no one will be able to detect their plans, that our country is helpless, that it is the Sahara, there are no people, but there is a working-class, farmers, an intelligentsia… a government and a party. It showed that we knew more than they thought possible….
Second question– Why was it possible for their masters to ensnare these people? We arrested around 300-400 people in the military. Among them are good people. How could they have been ensnared by Germany?
I cannot say that these people are capable, talented. How many times did these same people fight openly against Lenin, against the party of Lenin and after Lenin, and always, they were defeated. Now, they opened up a bigger campaign and they lost this battle also. You therefore cannot say that they were talented, starting in 1921 and ending up in 1937. Not very talented and not very genial people at all.
But, how was it possible for Germany to agitate and ensnare these people? This is a very serious question. I think that these German fascists were successful by this method! A person who is not satisfied, with whatever, not happy that he, a former highly placed Trotskyite or Zinovievite, and he is not being promoted as quickly as others, or not satisfied that he is not as capable as some of his peers, or he is not capable of performing the task that the party gave him, and consequently, he is being demoted according to his abilities, but he feels himself capable. It is sometimes very hard for a person to understand and accept his capabilities and his or her weaknesses. Some of these people felt that they are geniuses and when this genius is not recognized, he is dissatisfied and ready for any means to prove himself.
These people started from small, from an ideological grouping, then they proceeded further. They talked and argued like this: See my friends…the GPU [State Security] is now under our control, Yagoda is ours… the Kremlin is in our hands, so is Peterson with us, the Moscow military district is ours, Kork, Gorbachev are ours also. Everything is in our hands. Either we rise up now, or tomorrow, when we come to power, it might be too late. And many, who were weak, not rational people, [said], to hell with everything, this will be our chance. The plan is good, during that time we shall arrest the present government, we shall take over the Moscow Army Garrison and everything else will fall into place, and if I remain on the sidelines, I might be in the dust bin.
This attempt was not realistic. But these weak people thought along these lines: to hell with it, I cannot remain behind. Let me, as quickly as possible, involve myself in this adventure–otherwise, I might be left behind.
Of course, in this way, you can only agitate a small number of people. Of course, each character is different. Still, how was it possible to get these traitors involved in espionage? The enemy hypnotized them with glowing promises: tomorrow, everything will be in your hands, we are with you. The Kremlin is yours, you will work internally and we externally. This is the method of promises and rewards for the future.
Third question– why did we overlook such dangers for so long? There were sufficient signals. In February, there was the Plenum of the Central Committee. This question was on the agenda, but somehow we muddled and went through the session without taking any action… we did not raise the question of these elements working in the Red Army. Why was this not done? Maybe we are not very well organized people, or were we altogether blind? There is a different encompassing reason. Of course, the Army is not divorced from the people, from the party. As you well know in the party, we saw successes in all spheres of our country–this somehow made our heads spin from the economic, political and other successes that our country was achieving, day in, day out… life was becoming easier, political life was not bad, international prestige is growing for our country in the world, the army from top to bottom is in technological and military sciences growing, everything is going ahead at a fast pace, our strength is colossal, weaknesses are being overcome–this caused our vigilance to be lax, people then began to think, what else do we need? What is still lacking? Can there be any possibility of a counter-revolution brewing amongst us? There were such thoughts in our minds. We did not know at the beginning that this “seed” was already planted by the German Reichswehr. These agents knew that they must fulfill the German plans or they would be exposed and lose their heads.
As I mentioned, these successes made us complacent. This was exactly the moment that these agents thought that they would succeed.
…In all sections, we smashed the bourgeoisie, only in the sphere of intelligence service did we proceed like little boys, like children, trusting that everyone in this important service for the country was a dedicated party person and patriot. This was our weakness. Our intelligence in the military sphere is weak, it is full of spies and elements that do harm to our country. Our internal intelligence service was headed by a spy, Gai, while in the internal security, we discovered a nest of these spies working for Germany and Japan, for Poland, but not for us. Intelligence–this is the only sphere of our work that in the first 20 years we suffered a great defeat.
Now, the question remains before us to put this matter back on its feet. This agency is our eyes and ears. We must understand that the USSR has become an attraction for spies. A great country, great railway system, navy is growing, agriculture is on an incline of production, collective and state farms are being more and more mechanized and effective, industrial potential is great. This is such an inviting bit of sweetcake for the imperialists, that they’ll do everything to get their hands on this delicacy. History always proved that enemies will always covet a country such as ours… in this respect, we became a bit too complacent. Germany is trying to grab our riches. Japan has always sending their spies into our country–it has its constant nest within our midst. They want to grab our Pacific region, the others want to grab Leningrad. We overlooked this, we did not want to understand. As we proceeded to enrich our country, our life, we became a sweet piece of fruit that our enemies dearly wanted.
In their quest, the enemies were able to get our traitors involved in their plans, because they will not be satisfied as long as our country is intact. We overlooked this question. That is why our security system is not adequate and is ill-prepared for this onslaught. We were beaten in this sphere as children by a bully.
But this is not all, that our internal security system is bad. Fine! We now know this. But this is not all. We talked today that there were signals about this question. Yes, there were, but very haphazard. But the signals were weak, not enough of them…. WE DEPEND ON THE PARTY COMRADES TO BE THE EYES AND EARS OF OUR COUNTRY. WE, AT THE CENTER, ARE NOT ALWAYS AWARE OF THESE PROBLEMS. PEOPLE HAVE A TENDENCY TO THINK THAT THE CENTER KNOWS EVERYTHING, SEES EVERYTHING. NO, THE CENTER IS NOT ALWAYS ABLE TO SEE AND HEAR AND KNOW EVERYTHING. THE CENTER SEES AND KNOWS ONLY A PART, THE REST SHOULD BE SEEN BY THE PEOPLE THAT ARE IN EVERY CORNER OF OUR COUNTRY.
An example of what Comrade Gorbachev told us about one aspect of this sabotage [concerns] what was proposed innocently regarding the quality of our army rifles which in all respects are still manufactured according to designs approved by these elements in a position to make decisions–our army rifles are practically a sports rifle….
… the groove and bore of the rifle were changed; thus making the mainspring weak and not as effective as it should be. This is not a small matter, comrades. Our soldiers’ lives depend on their rifles! I received a letter from a rank-and-file Red Army soldier complaining that this should be looked into. Some defend Vasilenko who is responsible for this section, others condemn him. In the long run, it was proved that it was he who is to blame for this. We did not know that this was done purposely on instruction from his German bosses. After investigation, who was this Vasilenko? We found out that he was actually a spy. He himself admitted this. From what year, Comrade Yezhov?
YEZHOV: From 1926.
STALIN: Of course, he calls himself a Trotskyite, where else could Trotskyites go other than to spying.
You comrades are not vigilant enough, you do not give us signals about some of the problems. You have people who are not altogether 100% reliable. At the Center, we haven’t enough such people to fill all the needs of the whole country. Your task is to see who these people are, how they work on the job that they were assigned. Every member of the party, every non-party citizen of the USSR not only has the right, but an obligation to let us know about the problems. [Even] if only 5% of the people reported the problems, the sabotage, or anti-Soviet performance by the people we send out to their respective posts, this would be a step forward. The people should send these complaints to their local authorities and a copy to the Central Committee CPSU. Whoever said that these letters should only be written to the local authorities? That is not correct.
…They should write to everyone with complaints–if no results are obtained, they should write to the Central Committee as often as need be!
If this correct road would be followed, and this is Lenin’s truth–you will not find any person in the Central Committee CPSU that would have a bad word to save regarding this method–if you would follow this road, we at the Center would have been able to solve many of the problems that are confronting us now.
This is in regard to receiving signals from below.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 115-127

[In a June 1937 speech Stalin said], We depend from time to time on having input from below–we do not always see the whole picture. We cannot know what is going on all over the country. This is impossible. We depend on people there, on the spot.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 176


[In a June 1937 speech STALIN said]: If I were in your [Blukher] place, the commander of OKDVA, I would approach this matter in this way: I would gather the top commanders and explain in detail about our discussions. Then I would gather the lower rank commanders and with you present, I would explain to them in less detail–but it should be done very correctly, that the Army personnel should know that we have among us certain elements that have begun to sell their country to the enemy, that these arrested commanders and highly placed personnel are just as much our enemies as are the German and Japanese fascists. We’re going to cleanse our Army from these elements, do not panic, they will all be found out, sentenced. This is the way I would go about this difficult task.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 135


[In a June 1937 speech Stalin said], Since army regulations do not allow criticism in the ranks, let us come up here with our plan of action, pick five comrades from the Military who will launch this criticism….
We must be certain that those we pick are reliable and not hidden agents of the arrested ones.
…This is not an idle question. I think that among our people, among commanders, among political cadres, there are also such comrades who are without knowing it involved in this conspiracy. He might have been told something, they wanted to agitate him to join, threatened him, compromised him. We must save these people, after they tell us the truth. Are there such people in the command?
VOICES: Of course. Absolutely!
STALIN: These traitors worked five years, they must have had some success. If among them someone realizes that this whole plot has become known, they would recant, tell all. These people should be saved.
… We should absolve the beguiled ones. We should forgive, we must give them our solemn promise!
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 137-138


[At the Feb. March 1937 Plenum Stalin stated]…Facts from the reports at this Plenum prove beyond doubt that the lack of vigilance exists and we are paying a price for this by seeing more and more sabotage being done by these enemies. How can we explain this lack of attention? How do we explain the fact that our comrades, schooled as they are in fighting our political enemies, have obviously ignored our pleas and suggestions?
Maybe our party comrades became worse than they were before, became less attentive and disciplined? No, this is not the case! Maybe our comrades were starting to be re-born into unbelievers in socialism? Again, this is not so! Then what is the problem? Where did this blindness and non-vigilance come from?
The answer is closer to these facts: party comrades, overburdened with the economic and agricultural work, dealing with colossal victories, unfortunately forgot a about some very relevant facts that all Bolsheviks have no right to forget. They forgot that the Soviet Union finds itself surrounded by capitalist states. We like to talk about capitalism and its surrounding us around our country, but these comrades do not seriously understand what this encirclement means to us. We are only one country building socialism, but all the other countries are capitalist, just waiting for our weak points to appear and pounce on us, if not liquidating us as a whole, they try to weaken us, dismember us, plus find weak people who would do this job for them.
Our comrades forgot these facts in their excitement over our victories. Naive people could only think that there should be or are good relations between us and them. The truth is that even among the capitalist states there is disunity. These capitalist states also send spies into each other’s territory.
It is far from the truth that capitalist states have “good relations” between themselves. This is a fact–markets, conquest, and competition for markets that brings these countries sometimes to war with each other. It was like this before, and it is like this now. Spies are in each other’s country–in England, U.S.A., France, Germany, Japan, and other developed countries.
Why should the capitalist countries treat us less cruelly than they treat each other, some may ask? It is exactly the opposite. Why should they send into our country fewer spies than they do into each other’s? Where is this fallacy among some of our comrades coming from? It is a fact, as Marxists, we should know that as long as there is capitalism, they will keep sending into our midst spies, assassins, saboteurs, and provocateurs.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 230-231

[At the Feb. March 1937 Plenum Stalin stated], We must never forget the fact of the encirclement of the Soviet Union by capitalist states. This is a fact of life, that we cannot afford to forget or let our guard down. We must also impress on the people the fact, that as long as there are capitalist states surrounding us, there will be spies, sabotage, diversionists, terrorists, all sent into the Soviet Union by our class enemies. We must struggle with those comrades who still do not believe the dangers that are facing the USSR. Explain to them that no matter what colossal achievements we might make, this will not stop these enemies from trying to subvert our people, our policies, and our defenses.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 238

[At the Feb. March 1937 Plenum Stalin stated], …There is no longer the need for discussions and debates, trying to win them over to our side–we must use the methods of unmasking and of liquidating these enemies.
We must explain that our previous enemies were technically superior to us, and thus we were forced to rely on their services. The modern enemies have a party card in their hands, and wave it for all to see how “patriotic” they are, it’s easy for these enemies to fool our people, to fool them on political grounds, since people trust the communists –in this then, lies the danger.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 239

They could have no idea, he [British Cabinet Minister Anderson] told Radek, of how bitterly all other countries hated the Soviet Union, how determined they were to crush her at the first opportunity. Radek was so impressed that he not only reported to Stalin at once, but insisted on a special directive to all foreign communist parties. If Henderson, the ‘arch-opportunist’, thought it necessary to give this private warning, how acute the danger must be!
Berger, Joseph. Nothing but the Truth. New York, John Day Co. 1971, p. 86


[At the Feb. March 1937 Plenum Stalin stated], This is the tactic of modern Trotskyites–hide everything even from the leadership–except 3-5 people at the top.
Contemporary Trotskyism is not a political idea–they are without principles, diversionists, spies, agents, killers, a band of die-hard enemies of socialism and of the working class, working for the secret services of foreign countries. This is the kind of evolution in the last 7-8 years of Trotskyism.
If you remember, [the defendants in the Shakhty trial] were foreign to us–they were former businessmen, landowners, former company directors, former stock exchange directors, former bourgeois specialists, who were openly our political enemies. None of our people could be taken in by these enemies. They openly showed their hatred of us. But this, we cannot say, applies to modern Trotskyites. The modern enemies, such as Trotskyites, were all former communist party members. These people were not looked upon as foreigners. If the older enemies were going against the masses openly, the modern traitors use flattery, bow before the other communists, go to all ends to praise socialism and our leaders, in order that we will accept them as our own. There is a difference, you see!
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 234


[At the Feb. March 1937 Plenum Stalin stated], Victories are great, our growth of socialism is the admiration of the working-class of the world. But… successes have their negative side also. Successes in most people produced dullness in vigilance, self-satisfaction in outlook, just pure consumerism happiness, oblivious to other factors that are working at the same time. Here, I must remind our comrades of the danger of successes.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 236

[At the Feb. March 1937 Plenum Stalin stated], We must discard the theory that is being perpetuated by enemies, that with every successful step we take, with every new step forward towards socialism, our class enemy becomes weaker and slowly but surely will evolve into a communist and support socialism. This is not only a wrong theory, but it is extremely dangerous because it makes our people unaware of the danger and takes them away from being vigilant towards the class enemy.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 240

[At the Feb. March 1937 Plenum Stalin stated], The situation is the other way around, as more and more successes pile up in our building of socialism. The enemies will more and more become bold, ruthless, more sharper struggles will occur, the more sabotage these elements will perpetrate on the Soviet Union–they will go over towards more and more terroristic attacks against the state and its leaders.
It is imperative to defeat and discard another theory that is being promoted, stating that, an enemy cannot be an enemy unless he is constantly deriding socialism, or, how can he be an enemy if he is fulfilling his given task and also over-fulfilling it? This strange theory reveals the naivete of its authors. Not every enemy will always criticize and do harm to socialism; otherwise, he would be unmasked in no time. The opposite is true–the hidden enemy works even harder than maybe a dedicated Bolshevik–but at any given opportunity, he will sabotage, if he can. I think that this question is very clear and we do not have to dwell on it.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 241


[At the Feb. March 1937 Plenum Stalin stated], What about the well-known horde of journalists-writers in America headed by a well-known crook, Eastman, all these crooks of the pen, who live there and heap lies upon us and the working-class of the USSR–are they not a reserve for Trotskyism?
To build a steel, iron bridge, it needs thousands of people, from raw materials to builders to operators, but to destroy the bridge, you need only a couple of saboteurs.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 244


…Throughout the 1920s there were regular war scares, often based on the most trivial pretext–in 1923 when the Frenchman Marshal Foch visited Warsaw, in 1925 after the signing of the Treaty of Locarno (“preparation for war against the USSR,” as the Soviet newspaper Pravda put it), in 1927 following the British decision to break off diplomatic relations. It is customary to see these fears as a product of domestic politics, a device to focus popular attention on the external enemy and to unify the Party, but Russia’s recent history, which included invasion by Germany and the Hapsburg empire in 1914, intervention by 14 states in the Civil War and invasion by Poland in 1920, was enough in itself to encourage a constant vigilance and helps to explain the almost paranoid fear of attack or subversion that distinguished the [Soviet leadership]….
Overy, R. J. Russia’s War: Blood Upon the Snow. New York: TV Books, c1997, p. 23

The antagonism between the workers’ first state and world capitalism was unabated, even though it did not show itself in any clash of arms.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 377


From the middle 1920s I was active in the Polish Communist party which stood closer to Bolshevism than did any other party; soon thereafter I was leading spokesman of an inner -party opposition strongly influenced by Trotsky’s ideas; in 1932 I had the somewhat curious distinction of being the first member ever to be expelled from the Polish party for his anti-Stalinism.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. xi


… Trotsky came to the fore as the chief expounder of the International’s strategy and tactics. He advocated once again the united front. He went a step farther and urged the Communist parties to support, on conditions, Social Democratic governments and even, under special circumstances, in pre-revolutionary situations, when such coalitions could pave the way for proletarian dictatorship, to participate in them.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 65


In the middle of all this political excitement tragedy visited Trotsky’s family. Both his daughters, Zina and Nina, had been ill with consumption. The health of Nina, the younger of the two–she was 26– broke down after the imprisonmen and deportation of Nevelson, her husband.
Finally, he [Trotsky] learned that Nina had died on 9 June….
Messages of condolence from many deportees were still arriving at Alma Ata when another blow caused Trotsky much sorrow and grief. After Nina’s death Zina had intended to go to Alma Ata. Her husband too had been deported and she had strained her health in nursing her sister. From week to week she delayed the journey until news reached Alma Ata that she was dangerously ill and unable to travel. Her malady was aggravated by a severe and protracted nervous disorder; and she was not to rejoin her father before his banishment from Russia.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 428-429


He [Blumkin] put before Trotsky his own cas de conscience and spoke of his wish to resign from the GPU. Trotsky firmly dissuaded him. Difficult as his situation was, Trotsky said, he must go on working loyally for the GPU. The Opposition was committed to defend the workers’ state; and no Oppositionist should withdraw from any official post in which he acted in the broad interest of the state and not in that of the Stalinist faction.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 86


“To Papa,” she [Zina] often repeated, “I am a good-for-nothing.” More resentment, more reproach and self-reproach, more gloom, and more and graver mental disturbance made everyone feel worse. In the summer she left home, and in a nearby sanatorium underwent the operations on her lungs. She returned, her physical health somewhat restored, but her misery unrelieved.
Distressed and shaken with pity, Trotsky was a prey to guilt and helplessness. How much easier it was to see in what way the great ills of society should be fought against than to relieve the sufferings of an incurable daughter! How much easier to diagnose the turmoil in the collective mind of the German petty bourgeoisie than to penetrate into the pain-laden recesses of Zina’s personality!
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 150

She [Zina’s mother, Alexandra] quoted what Zina had written her only a few weeks earlier: “It is sad that I can no longer return to Papa. You know how I have adored and worshipped him from my earliest days. And now we are in utter discord. This has been at the bottom of my illness.” Zina had complained about his coolness towards her…. She had yearned for political activity and she needed scope, for she had taken after her father; and–“you, her father, you could have saved her.”
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 197


History, it might be said, did not leave the Soviet Union alone long enough to allow a laboratory experiment with socialism in a single country to be carried into any advanced stage, let alone to be completed.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 516


This analysis sheds light on the question of why so many Stalinists fell victim in 1936-38. Whereas those arrested between Kirov’s murder and mid-1936 usually had some large or small oppositional blot on their records, very many among the huge numbers repressed in the rampant phase of the Terror were not only free of past oppositional leanings but had been stout supporters of Stalin’s General Line and enthusiasts of the piatiletka; some were prominent in the party’s Stalin faction. Why did they come to grief?…
On the other hand, the mass denunciations of persons in low to middle ranks of administrative authority inevitably victimized quite a few of the promotees in the early 1930s, who were true believers in Stalin as a genius-leader and who, on turning up in the camps as prisoners, went on professing their loyalty and believing that, while other prisoners were being properly punished as traitors, mistakes had been made in their own cases.
Tucker, Robert. Stalin in Power: 1929-1941. New York: Norton, 1990, p. 538


[In a letter to Voroshilov, Kaganovich, and Molotov on 7 August 1932 Stalin stated] I would not advise you to simply and “politely” send Barlow packing from the USSR. All foreign bourgeois specialists are or may be intelligence agents. But that does not necessarily mean that they should be “politely” sent packing. No, it doesn’t! I advise you not to cut off ties with Barlow, to be considerate of him, toss him some money, take his drawings, but don’t show him our achievements (you can say that we are backward people and are ready to learn from Barlow, on a paid basis, of course–of course!).
Shabad, Steven, trans. The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence, 1931-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 178


[in a letter to Kaganovich on 11 August 1932 Stalin stated] Unless we begin to straighten out the situation in the Ukraine, we may lose the Ukraine. Keep in mind that Pilsudski is not daydreaming, and his agents in the Ukraine are many times stronger than Redens or Kosior thinks. Keep in mind, too, that the Ukraine Communist Party (500,000 members, ha-ha) has quite a lot (yes, quite a lot!) of rotten elements, conscious and unconscious Petliura adherents, and, finally, direct agents of Pilsudski. As soon as things get worse, these elements will waste no time opening a front inside (and outside) the party, against the party. The worst aspect is that the Ukraine leadership does not see these dangers.
Things cannot go on this way.
Shabad, Steven, trans. The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence, 1931-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 180


[In a letter to Stalin on 27 August 1936 Kaganovich stated] I am transmitting to you the draft of a message to the Norwegian government. Please give me your instructions.
On the instructions of my government, I have the honor of stating the following: on 1 December 1934 Kirov, secretary of the regional committee of the Communist Party and a member of the presidium of the Central Executive Committee of Soviets was assassinated in Leningrad. A court investigation determined that the assassination was committed by a member of a terrorist organization that had set the objective of perpetrating acts of terrorism against members of the Soviet government and other leaders. This was admitted in court by Kirov’s assassin himself, as well as his accomplices. An additional investigation, as well as a court inquiry on 19-23 August of this year, further determined that the aforesaid terrorist organization was established at the initiative of Trotsky, currently a resident of Norway, who issued detailed instructions to his accomplices in the USSR for the assassination of Stalin, Voroshilov, Kaganovich, Ordzhonikidze, and other members of the government and local organizations. To this end Trotsky sent special agents from abroad. All of the above facts were confirmed at an open court inquiry by all of Trotsky’s accomplices and agents, who were on trial.
…Therefore it may be regarded as proven that Trotsky, a resident of Norway, is the organizer and leader, and inspirer, of acts of terrorism aimed at assassinating members of the Soviet government and the leaders of the Soviet people.
In bringing the foregoing to the notice of the Norwegian government, the Soviet government believes that continuing to afford asylum to Trotsky, an organizer of acts of terrorism, may cause damage to the friendly relations between the USSR and Norway and would run counter to modern concepts of the norms of international relations. It may be recalled on this occasion that, in regard to the assassination of the Yugoslav king Alexander and the French foreign minister Barthou, the attitude of governments toward the preparation within their territory of acts of terrorism against other governments was a subject of discussion in the Council of the League of Nations on 10 December 1934, when the obligation of members of the League to assist one another in the fight against terrorism was established and it was even deemed desirable that an international convention for this purpose be concluded.
The Soviet government firmly expects that the Norwegian government will not fail to take appropriate measures to deprive Trotsky of a continued right of asylum in Norwegian territory.
Shabad, Steven, trans. The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence, 1931-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 340


[In a letter to Kaganovich on 27 August 1936 Stalin stated] I think we can agree with Litvinov on delivering our note to the Norwegian government orally rather than in writing, but with the idea that a report on this will be issued in the press. I think the same note should be sent orally to the German government about Sedov, Trotsky’s son.
Simultaneously with the delivery of the note to the Norwegian government we must go on the attack against the leadership of the Norwegian Labor Party. This leadership is apparently privy to all of Trotsky’s secrets, and as a result it vigorously defends Trotsky in its newspaper. We should openly fling in the face of these Norwegian vermin the accusation that they are backing Trotsky’s criminal, terrorist schemes.
Shabad, Steven, trans. The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence, 1931-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 342


To be sure, they [higher commanders of the Red Army] appeared loyal. But he [Stalin] himself had developed the brilliant insight that the most dangerous traitor is the one who seems in fact most of the time to be perfectly loyal, awaiting the opportunity to reveal his “two-faced” character.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 450


Despite arrests, deportations, and executions, the secret committees of the opposition continued their activities. The program of the younger malcontents was becoming ardently revolutionary. They no longer demanded “a coup d’etat inside the Party”; they issued appeals to the peasants and workers and officials, calling upon them to overthrow “the ignoble regime of oppression installed by Stalin.” Trotsky, from his exile in Barbizon, sent more and more definite instructions. His son, Lev Sedov, wrote openly: “One need not be scrupulous as to the tactics and methods to be employed in the struggle against Stalin. A tyrant deserves to be fought as a tyrant.”
…This was the appeal to the knife.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 173


The easiest way to capture a fortress is from within. To attain victory, the Party of the working class, its directing staff, its advanced fortress, must first be purged of capitulators, deserters, scabs, and traitors.
Commission of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. (B.), Ed. History of the CPSU (Bolsheviks): Short Course. Moscow: FLPH, 1939, p. 360


To: Mr. Felix Morrow, Acting Secretary,
American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky
Room 511, 22 E. 17th St.,
New York, New York

From: Mauritz Hallgren
Glenwood, Maryland, January 27, 1937.

Dear Sir:
It has become necessary for me to clarify my position with respect to the Moscow trials and particularly with respect to Trotsky’s relation thereto.
Since joining your committee I have given deep and earnest thought to the whole problem here involved. I have examined, so far as they have been made available in this country, all of the documents bearing upon the case. I have followed closely all of the news reports. I have consulted some of the reports made by non-Communists who attended the first trial. I have carefully studied the published arguments of the partisans on both sides. And I have just as carefully restudied the writings of Trotsky concerning his case against Stalinism and his theory of the permanent revolution, that is, such of his writings on these
questions as have been published to date.
I believed when I joined your committee, and I still believe, in the right of asylum for persons exiled because of their political or other beliefs. Trotsky has been granted asylum in Mexico and this part of the committee’s task would seem, therefore, to have been brought to a close…
Second, there was in my mind at that time sufficient doubt concerning certain aspects of the Zinoviev-Kamenev trial to lead me to suppose that the trial was not entirely genuine. This doubt hinged upon the possibility that, while Zinoviev and his associates had been taken in conspiracy (for I have never seen any good reason to doubt their own guilt), they had been promised mitigation of their sentences in return for a public confession that would implicate Trotsky as well in their crimes. In view of this doubt I was glad to join with the committee in endeavoring to provide Trotsky with an opportunity to answer the charges brought against him. This was not because of any desire to be “just” or “liberal” in the meaningless sense that those terms are usually employed by American liberals, but simply because I would have regarded it as hardly less reprehensible and dangerous to the future of socialism for Stalin and his colleagues to be perverting Soviet justice to their own personal ends as for Trotsky to be plotting to overthrow the government of the only socialist republic in the world.
Very soon after the first trial, Zinoviev and his associates were executed. It has been asserted that they had been promised lenient treatment if they would for their part publicly accuse Trotsky of having conspired with them to overthrow Stalin and the Soviet government. In truth, it was largely upon this supposition that rested the contention that the first trial was a “frame up.” But now that the men were put to death Trotsky and his adherents declared that they, the defendants, had been “double-crossed.” To the Trotskyites this was further proof of their contention that the first trial had been “framed.” To the disinterested student, however, it might just as easily have proven the contrary. After all, it is one of the simplest rules of logic that one cannot use a premise to prove a thesis and then use the denial of that premise to prove the same thesis. Logically, therefore, one should have looked elsewhere for an explanation of the executions, and the only other possible explanation was that the men were actually put to death in the regular course of justice and for the single reason that they were guilty of the crimes charged against them. Still it was possible, despite the rise of this counter-doubt, that they had been “double-crossed.”
Now we have come to the second trial [the Jan 1937 Pyatakov trial]. What is the situation? The men now on trial cannot possibly be under any delusion as to their fate. They must know and they do know that they will be put to death. Despite this they do not hesitate to confess their crimes. Why? The only conceivable answer is that they are guilty. Surely it cannot and will not be argued this time as well that there has been a “deal,” for men like Radek are obviously not so stupid as to believe that they are going to save their lives in that manner after what happened to Kamenev and Zinoviev. It has been said that they have been tortured into confessing. But what greater and more effective torture can there be than knowledge of certain death? In any case, the men in the courtroom have shown not the slightest evidence of having been tortured or of being under duress. It is said by some that they have been hypnotized into confessing, or that the prosecution, working upon its knowledge of Slav psychology, has somehow trapped these men into confessing deeds of which they are not guilty. For example, the unanimity with which the men have been confessing is taken as proof that the confessions are false and have been obtained by some mysterious means. Yet these assertions rest upon no tangible or logical proof whatever. The idea that some inexplicable form of oriental mesmerism has been used is one that sound reason must reject as utterly fantastic. The very unanimity of the defendants, far from proving that this trial is also a “frame-up,” appears to me to prove directly the contrary. For if these men are innocent, then certainly at least one of the three dozen, knowing that he faced death in any case, would have blurted out the truth. It is inconceivable that out of this great number of defendants, all should lie when lies would not do one of them any good. But why look beyond the obvious for the truth, why seek in mysticism or in dark magic for facts that are before one’s very nose? Why not accept the plain fact that the men are guilty? And this fact, if accepted with regard to the men now on trial, must also be accepted with regard to the men who were executed after the first trial.
I now see no valid reason for believing that the defendants in the first trial were unfairly dealt with. Certainly it cannot now be maintained that they were “double-crossed,” for that contention falls of its own weight when we stop for a moment to consider the fact that the Soviet government has brought a second group of men to trial on the same charges. Since the government could not hope to induce the second group to confess under the pressure of false promises, it is reasonable to suppose that it did not rely upon false promises in the first case. Moreover, I am now completely convinced that the defendants in the first trial were given every opportunity to clear themselves, that they were denied none of the rights of impartial justice. It is significant that those who contend that this was not the case have offered no evidence at all, apart from their own unsupported allegations and suspicions, in substantiation of their contention. On the other side we have not only the court record, but also the unsolicited reports of non-Communist observers who were present at the trial.
One such statement has been presented by D. N, Pritt, English lawyer and a Labor Party representative in the House of Commons. Mr. Pritt can by no means be accused of sympathy with the Communists or with Stalin. He has, indeed, stood with the Right wing of the Labor Party. But he has also been trained in law, while, moreover, unlike Walter Citrine and others who have charged that there was a gross miscarriage of justice, he was present in person at the trial in Moscow. He reported later that he was “completely satisfied” that the trial was “properly conducted” and that the accused were “fairly and judicially treated.” He added that their appearance and demeanor were such as to indicate the “absence of any ill-treatment or fear.” He declared that there was “no ground for insinuating any unfairness in form or substance.” His view has been confirmed by all other non-Communist observers at the trial whose reports I have consulted. To be sure, Trotsky has now taken to denouncing Pritt for having rendered this “service” to “Stalinism.” But Trotsky has produced no evidence at all to show that Pritt was in any way prejudiced in favor of the Stalin government. Indeed, if I may repeat, while the evidence that the men were fairly tried appears both substantial and convincing, the counter-charge that they were not fairly tried is backed up by no evidence of any kind, convincing or otherwise. The same can be said for the conduct of the second trial so far as that has been reported to date.
It is a curious fact, which seems to have escaped liberals both in this country and in England, that the Soviet government is hurting itself far more than it could possibly help itself by holding these trials, especially at this time. The very fact that the liberals and Socialists have been aroused by this event, the very fact that this defense committee has been formed, reveal the great extent to which the Soviet Union is being harmed. What has Stalin to gain by taking action that is tending to alienate these elements? Is obvious that he has nothing whatever to gain. On the contrary, he stands to lose a good deal. At the moment there is grave danger of intervention. The Soviet government needs all the support it can get from workers and liberals and democrats in other countries. Without such support the rising tide of fascism might soon engulf Soviet Russia–whereupon, of course, Stalin and his government would inevitably disappear.
Shall we suppose, then, that Stalin has stupidly thrown all caution to the wind merely to wreck vengeance upon his personal enemies? Shall we suppose that he is anxious to have popular fronts erected to guard the Soviet Union against an external danger and at the same time is so blind as to take action that might destroy these popular fronts in order to satisfy some purely personal whim or ambition? Shall we suppose that he is so thick-headed as not to appreciate the gravity of this external danger not only to the Soviet Union but to himself as well? Now, no one will say that Stalin is stupid. Even the Trotskyites complain that the menace of “Stalinism” lies not in stupidity but in diabolical cleverness. It must follow, since the Stalin government is apparently risking a good deal by holding these trials that it has detected an internal danger hardly less grave than the external danger. In short, it must follow that the government has uncovered a conspiracy against itself, the evidence of which is so abundant and the peril from which is so apparent that it dare not withhold its hand, even though in destroying the conspiracy it may alienate its democratic support abroad and so increase the external danger.
Until now we have considered only the conspirators in Moscow. Little has been said of Leon Trotsky. Is he guilty, too? The conspirators say that he is. He denies it most emphatically (and brings other charges of equal gravity against Stalin). We have the Moscow evidence. Where is Trotsky’s evidence? One may grant that he has not had his day in court. And one may grant that toward the end of his stay in Norway he was literally held incommunicado. Yet he has been out of Norway now for several weeks, and still no tangible proof of his contentions has come from him, no documents, not even anything in the way of circumstantial statements. He has issued nothing but negative denials. Even some of those denials are of a questionable sort. His gratuitous attack upon D. N. Pritt, offered without any supporting facts, certainly did not help him. His statement that he had never heard of Vladimir Romm, a leading Soviet journalist and for years a stellar correspondent for Tass and later for Izvestia, is simply incredible and goes far, indeed, toward discrediting Trotsky. But this is the sort of “proof” he has been cabling to The New York Times, the Baltimore Sun and the Manchester Guardian.
If Trotsky is innocent and has the documentary proof of his innocence that he says he has, why does he not produce it? The Hearst press would be only to glad to publish it and pay Trotsky fabulously well for his documents. The New York Times, the London Times, and other bourgeois journals would likewise be only too happy to give space to his documents. The Manchester Guardian has stood by him through thick and thin in the last several months; it would not desert him now. It has been said that he intends to put his proof into the new book he is writing on Stalinism. And it might also be argued that it would be better for him to put his proof before the projected international commission that is to give him a hearing. But consider the absurdity, the astounding cynicism, of such an attitude. Here are men awaiting death on charges that Trotsky says are utterly false and here is Trotsky who contends that he can prove that they are false–and yet he withholds this indispensable proof for the sake of a book, or for the sake of an international inquiry not yet arranged! And here are countless liberals and Socialists who earnestly believe that justice is being destroyed at the command of Stalin, but who have not a shred of evidence to support this belief apart from their own fears and suspicions, and here is Trotsky who has the essential evidence–and yet he fails to produce it when it is most needed.
Consider one thing further. Trotsky has in recent years written many books and pamphlets expounding his doctrine of the permanent revolution and purporting to expose Stalin and Stalinism. He contends, not once but again and again, that Stalin must be overthrown if the revolution is to be saved. Now either Trotsky’s arguments and exhortations are wholly passive and academic, in which case they might well be forgotten, or else he means that they should be acted upon. It is obvious, however, that Trotsky is playing no passive role, that he is consciously the agitator, and that he regards himself as the acting leader of the movement against Stalin. That stands out from every line he has written on the problem and it is apparent from all his activities. But how is Stalin to be overthrown? It is clear, even to Trotsky’s followers, that there can be no hope of provoking a popular uprising within the Soviet Union. It can only be done by foreign intervention, or by a conspiracy within the Soviet government, or by a combination of the two. Through whom might such a conspiracy be undertaken? Obviously, through persons within the government who have had experience in such work in the past. Even more obviously, by old conspirators who believe, or once believed, in Trotsky’s doctrine. And what have the Moscow trials revealed? They have revealed precisely this kind of conspiracy. They have revealed the very sort of plot against the Soviet government that Trotsky’s teachings call for!
To be sure, this in itself does not prove that Trotsky has conspired with the Moscow defendants. Yet the reasonable man is compelled to agree that, given Trotsky’s known disposition to action and his forceful presentation of his own case against Stalin, the circumstantial evidence against him is very strong indeed. It might well be said, and it cannot be denied, that the Soviet government’s case against Trotsky is not perfect. It has made mistakes. It has made assertions that are apparently contrary to fact. But then, there has never been a controversy in which the facts on one side have been all black and those on the other side pure white. One must judge these matters, not by any rigid or absolute standards, but by weighing the evidence. And in the present instance the preponderance of evidence is on the side of the Soviet government and clearly against Trotsky.
I readily agree that Stalin has his faults. I am far from agreeing with everything that the Soviet government and Comintern have done or are doing. Yet every fair-minded person must concede that under its present leadership the Soviet Union has made remarkable progress toward establishing socialism. It is only among the Nazis and fascists and reactionaries in other countries, among the few groups within the Second International, and among the Trotskyites that it is contended that the Soviet Union under Stalin and his associates is moving, not toward socialism, but toward capitalism or Bonapartism or something called “Red fascism.” Persons acquainted with the facts must and do consider these allegations preposterous. One who has an understanding of economics can readily see that it is socialism and nothing else that is being developed in Soviet Russia. To make any statement to the contrary is, in view of the established facts, mere wish-thinking–or deliberate distortion. This being so, any attack upon the Communist leadership in the Soviet Union, imperfect though that leadership might be, that has for its purpose the overthrow of the Soviet government must be regarded as a deliberate and malicious attack upon socialism itself. This does not mean that I regard the Soviet government as being above criticism. Far from it. But it does mean that I regard dishonest criticism or any effort to go beyond criticism (for example, an effort to destroy rather than to aid in the development of socialism in the Soviet Union) as a betrayal of socialism. And that, quite apart from the outcry against the Moscow trials, is the objective purpose of Trotsky’s writings and agitational activities. If one is inclined to doubt this, one has only to compare Trotsky’s writings on “Stalinism” with the Webb’s study of socialism in the Soviet Union.
Let us now sum up the situation. On the one hand we have the confessions of the Moscow defendants, the court record, the statements of disinterested observers at the first trial, and reports on the second trial of such reputable journalists as Walter Duranty. These provide us with an abundance of evidence tending to prove that the defendants were fairly tried and that their guilt in conspiring to overthrow the Soviet government has been established. They also tend to prove that Trotsky participated in the conspiracy, or that he at least had guilty knowledge of it, though the direct proof of his part in the crime is not so substantial as that involving the men on trial. However, we also had his writings and they tend greatly to strengthen the presumption, if not of actual guilt, at least of moral responsibility. On the other hand, we have nothing concrete with which to offset the charge of conspiracy. We have only the unsupported allegations of Trotsky and the unverified fears and suspicions of numerous liberals and Socialists.
Possibly Trotsky can support his allegations. He should certainly not be denied the opportunity to produce the proof he says he has. But his reluctance or inability to produce his proof when it is most needed must count against him. Moreover, and this is a point of extreme importance, it has to be borne in mind that Trotsky is not a disinterested party. He does not come into court with clean hands. He is a sworn adversary of the Stalin government. It must be presumed, therefore, that he is at least equally as much interested, and in all probability for more interested, in carrying on his campaign to destroy the Stalin government as he is in obtaining abstract justice for himself. Let him state that it is justice alone that he desires, and then let him publicly promise that, in the event he fails to substantiate his allegations against the Soviet government, he will promptly cease his efforts to destroy that government. If he refuses to bind himself in this particular, the reasonable man must conclude that he is using his demand for justice solely as a means of enlisting additional support for his campaign against socialism in the Soviet Union. Chronologically, indeed, the evidence on this point is already against him. The outcry against the Moscow trials first came from the Trotskyites. It was they who first raised the charge that Soviet justice was being hamstrung by Stalin. It was not until later that certain disinterested liberals took up the cry. There can be no question that the Trotskyites knew, when they shouted “persecution,” that they would win the sympathy and perhaps the active aid of these liberals. And there can be little question that this, rather than justice, was their true objective. Surely if they really believed, as they asserted, that the Stalin government knew no law and no justice, then they could not have expected the liberals to help obtain justice from the Stalin government for them. And as they still maintain this position, it is only logical to suppose that their real purpose in appealing to the liberals was not to win justice for themselves, but to win liberal support for Trotskyism, that is, for Trotsky’s campaign against socialism in the Soviet Union, and to do so in the name of that holy but meaningless liberal principle known as abstract justice.
In any case, at least until Trotsky comes into court with his own hands clean, I shall remain convinced that the present liberal movement to win justice for him is nothing more than a Trotskyite maneuver against the Soviet Union and against socialism. I am equally convinced, as I must be under the circumstances, that the American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky has, perhaps unwittingly, become an instrument of the Trotskyites for political intervention against the Soviet Union. Indeed, apart from the considerations cited above, it is abundantly plain that the whole approach and phraseology of the committee has been radically altered since the committee was formed. For example, those who were invited to join were asked to do so in order to provide Trotsky with “the fullest opportunity to state his case.” But now the committee’s literature talks of “working for a complete and impartial investigation of the Moscow trials.” The implications of this change in attitude are too obvious to need emphasizing here. It is the liberal who would give Trotsky an opportunity to be heard, but it is only the Trotskyite (or someone else with an ax to grind where the Communist Party is concerned) who would demand the sort of political intervention that would be required to undertake “a complete and impartial investigation of the Moscow trials.” This is nothing but propaganda. It shows all too plainly that the Trotskyites have captured the committee.
Perhaps the liberal members are not aware of the real nature of the committee. But that cannot be true of the political members, of the Trotskyites and others, who have but one purpose and that is to use the committee as a springboard for new attacks upon the Soviet Union. I do not intend under any circumstances to allow myself to become a party to any arrangement that has for its objective purpose (whatever might be its subjective justification) the impairment or destruction of the socialist system now being built in Soviet Russia. You will, therefore, withdraw my name as a member of the committee.
It may be unnecessary to point out that I speak for no party and no faction. I do not now belong and have never belonged to any political party or political organization. I speak for myself alone.
It is, however, necessary to add that I am putting copies of this letter at the disposal of certain individuals and groups who no doubt will be interested in its contents.
Respectfully, Mauritz Hallgren
Hallgren, Mauritz. Why I Resigned from the Trotsky Defense Committee. New York: International Publishers, 1937, p. 3-14


It is not without significance that it was in the dark days of 1931-1933, when the fate of the collective farms seemed to many to be trembling in the balance, that the conspiracies unveiled in the trials of 1937 are stated, by Radek and others, to have taken shape. It was only to be expected that those who thought the government policy wrong and disastrous to the country should take to underground conspiracy to resist it and to upset the government which had adopted it. If some of these conspirators took in their stride both wrecking and assassination, this was exactly what Stalin and others of them had been doing, with a good conscience, most of their lives prior to 1917. If it is true that they called in aid of their conspiracy hostile governments, this is just what the patriotic and high-minded English and Scottish nobility, statesmen and ministers of religion did three centuries ago in calling in alternately the Dutch and the French.
Webb, S. Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation. London, NY: Longmans, Green, 1947, p. 930


France and England at the present day are swarming with German spies and diversionists and, on the other hand, Anglo-French spies and diversionists in turn are at work in Germany. America is swarming with Japanese spies and diversionists, and Japan with American.
Such is the law of relations between bourgeois states.
The question must be put: why should the bourgeois countries be gentler and more neighborly to the soviet socialist government than they are to bourgeois states of their own type? Why should they send fewer spies, wrecker’s, diversionists, and murderers behind the frontiers of the Soviet Union than they send behind the frontiers of bourgeois countries which are akin to them?… Will it not be truer, from the point of view of Marxism, to suppose that the bourgeois states must be sending twice or three times as many wreckers, spies, diversionists and murderers behind the lines of the Soviet Union than behind those of any bourgeois state?
Stalin, Joseph. Mastering Bolshevism. San Francisco: Proletarian Publishers, 1972, p. 8


…we leaders must not become conceited; and we must understand that if we are members of the Central Committee or are People’s Commissars, this does not mean that we possess all the knowledge necessary for giving correct leadership.
Stalin, Joseph. Mastering Bolshevism. San Francisco: Proletarian Publishers, 1972, p. 41


After weighing all the available evidence, I have come to the conclusion that there had indeed been a conspiracy, but that the conspirators were justified in attempting to replace Stalin by a saner leadership…. When they failed to replace him, they realized that the Soviet Union would have to face the impending storm under Stalin’s leadership and that they would weaken their country by discrediting him. In this respect they may well have been right: without the almost religious faith in Stalin, morale might well have collapsed in the Soviet Union under the terrible blows of the Nazi invasion, as it did in France.
Blumenfeld, Hans. Life Begins at 65. Montreal, Canada: Harvest House, c1987, p. 175


Even successes in production should be treated with caution since, according to the report, they were not necessarily proof of the political integrity of their creators; after all, “saboteurs” had to shelter behind excellent results and economic plans regularly set targets that were all too easy to attain.
Rittersporn, Gabor. Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications, 1933-1953. New York: Harwood Academic Publishers, c1991, p. 122


…It became increasingly clear that confusion did not spare even the top of the apparatus. One of the first obvious indications of this came from the growing inconsistency in penal legislation. It seems that the courts had been hesitating to apply the extraordinary legislation that allowed an accelerated procedure for executing “terrorists” and “conspirators,” since on 14 September 1937 a decree of the Central Executive Committee extended its field of applicability. As amended, the law became applicable to all cases of “wrecking and counter-revolutionary subversion.” It provided for the filing of charges on the day before the trial, abolished the right of appeal against conviction, and ordered that “the execution of capital punishment is to be carried out immediately after the refusal of the appeals for clemency.”
Not three weeks had gone by when another decree on the same topic was issued by the same supreme authority, this time in some slight contradiction to the stringent measures of the “law of September 14.” Its promoters seem to have thought it was very important, since it was even published in the daily papers, appearing on the same day that the Party cell at the Western Regional Court “unmasked” a “spy” in its ranks. The new decree was dated October 2, and it amended current legislation by allowing those guilty of spying, sabotage, or subversion to be condemned either to a maximum of 10 years imprisonment, or to death. Under the new provision, sentences of up to 25 years could be imposed in the “further struggle against crimes of this nature, and also to grant the court the possibility not only to choose capital punishment, but also imprisonment for more prolonged terms in such cases….” Since a decree of 1936 already permitted imprisonment “of those convicted of the most dangerous crimes,” the passing of this new “law of October 2” was probably hurried through, at least in part, because some courts were being over-zealous in applying the order of September 14th so as to avoid any possible accusation of “petty-bourgeois sentimentality” or “lack of intransigence.”
Rittersporn, Gabor. Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications, 1933-1953. New York: Harwood Academic Publishers, c1991, p. 165-166


There were no doubt spies in the USSR in the 1930s. What modern state has ever been free of them? The USSR had enormous and somewhat porous borders. It was a haven for political emigres fleeing oppression and the object of antipathy of many governments. Soviet security officials were convinced that German, Polish, Japanese, and other intelligence agencies engaged in disinformation and other activities designed to destabilize the USSR. To believe that there were no spies is naïve.
Chase, William J., Enemies Within the Gates?, translated by Vadim A. Staklo, New Haven: Yale University Press, c2001, p. 8.

In seeking to understand the origins of the Soviet leadership’s distrust of foreigners, it would be prudent not to dismiss out of hand the possibility that foreign intelligence agencies had sent spies into the USSR and that Soviet intelligence agencies had learned of their existence. The Soviet government and the Comintern support a wide espionage network abroad and believed that other countries did the same within the USSR. To believe that there were no spies in the USSR would be as naive as it is mad to believe that all foreigners were potential spies.
Chase, William J., Enemies Within the Gates?, translated by Vadim A. Staklo, New Haven: Yale University Press, c2001, p. 412.


[At the closed joint meeting of the ECCI party organization and the ECCI Komsomol organization on 28 December 1934]
KNORIN: One of the accused admits: “We watched for some sort of contradictions in the party leadership. We relied on any opening to help us come to the leadership, to come to power. That is why we preserved our cadres, why we established connections with everyone who was against the party leadership, who had an oppositional sentiment. Until the very last moment, we cherished hopes that in this way, through some disagreements, through some difficulties, we would be able to rise to [positions of] leadership and turn the country onto another road, onto our road.”
Chase, William J., Enemies Within the Gates?, translated by Vadim A. Staklo, New Haven: Yale University Press, c2001, p. 79.


[23 January 1936 telegram from the ECCI Secretariat of Dimitrov, Manuilsky, and Moskvin to communist parties regarding Trotsky’s bloc with Hearst]
Trotsky is carrying on a libelous campaign against the Soviet Union and Stalin in the Hearst press. On 19 January, Trotsky began to publish in the “New York American” a series of articles in which he accuses the Soviet government of imprisoning and torturing “innocent” Trotskyists and asserts that Stalin and the Comintern aided Hitler’s rise to power. You should use this fact of a bloc between Trotsky and Hearst, the vilest anti-Soviet instigator, the supporter of Hitler, and the local coordinator of American fascism, to further expose the counterrevolutionary role of Trotsky, who is the accomplice of fascism in the struggle against the proletarian revolution and the Soviet Union. At the same time you should hasten the separation of all honest elements from Trotskyist groups. During this [campaign] condemning Trotsky’s bloc with Hearst, determine who still exhibits sympathies with Trotsky.
Chase, William J., Enemies Within the Gates?, translated by Vadim A. Staklo, New Haven: Yale University Press, c2001, p. 127.


Nine years younger than Stalin, Bukharin had made his reputation mainly as a theoretician and publicist. Although he had had serious differences with Lenin, especially in opposing the peace treaty with Germany in 1918, his talents were appreciated by the founder. They also were appreciated by Stalin, who must have supported Bukharin’s promotion to full member of the Politburo shortly after Lenin’s death and rewarded him for loyalty in the factional struggle of the mid-1920s by making him Zinoviev’s successor as head of the Executive Committee of the Comintern in 1926. Bukharin was one of the men Stalin cultivated, and for a time they were on very friendly terms.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 117


It seems to have been just a little later that Stalin obtained some evidence that was considerably more authentic and potent. The timing suggests that it came from an agent named Mark Zborowski, who around 1935 succeeded better than any predecessor in becoming the confidant of Trotsky’s son, Lev Sedov, who operated the small secretariat of the Trotskyist movement, first in Berlin, then in Paris. What Zborowski, if it was he, learned was that in 1932 Trotsky, communicating through Sedov, had formed what they called a ‘bloc’ with dissident elements in the Soviet Union. There a Trotskyist named I Smirnov had proposed to form a coalition of underground opposition to Stalin. Only after a previously closed section of the Trotsky archive at Harvard University was opened in 1980 was it demonstrated that this bloc, although feeble, actually had existed. The evidence is incomplete because somebody, quite possibly Trotsky himself, had removed from the file the letters that he had attempted to send to Sokolnikov, Preobrazhensky, Radek, Kollontai and Litvinov. Nor is there a direct evidence in the archive that Stalin came into possession of this material, but the resemblance between the account of the formation of this bloc, as it appears in the Trotsky papers and as it emerged in the show trial of August 1936, makes it reasonably clear that the trial was based on this evidence. This implies significant revision of the previous interpretation of the trial of 1936 by non-Stalinists, for it shows that the confessions were not totally fabricated by the police. It also demonstrates, by the way, that Trotsky did not tell the precise truth to the ‘Dewey Commission’, a counter-trial that he arranged in 1937 to exculpate him of Stalin’s charges, before which he testified that he had not been organizing an underground.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 184


In conspiratorial life, compromising letters were destroyed; personal contacts with people abroad were rare,…
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 133


Radek’s appearance in the dock created a sensation…. With which Trotskyists did he maintain contact? asked Vyshinsky–and out came the list they wanted: Mrachkovsky, Smirnov, Dreitzer, Gayevsky, Pyatakov, Preobrazhensky, Smilga, Serebryakov…but of course, never a mention of such real Trotskyists as, for instance, Andreyev-or Malenkov.

Not that Malenkov has ever been a very precise ideologist…. However, in 1924 he became secretary of the Party branch of the Moscow Technical Institute, then one of Trotsky’s bastions. In those days Malenkov signed many an anti-Stalin, Trotskyist resolution: not by deep conviction, but rather by sheer inertia. Of all the living members of the Soviet Olympus, Andreyev and he had been the most outstanding supporters of Trotsky. This Radek knew quite well, yet never a hint did he give at the trial.

Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 67


February 1, 1929–authorities recently discovered that an active Trotskyist organization in Moscow was carrying on a vigorous propaganda in Moscow and other urban centers by means of hand bills and other methods, particularly among Communist youth and the Army. The organization had arranged for an “underground railroad” for the transmission of letters to and from the exiled leaders and to sympathetic newspapers in Berlin, Riga, and elsewhere abroad.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 163

Despite the clearly counter revolutionary character of their aims and methods, the offenders were treated with comparative leniency and deported to Siberia instead of being brought to trial on a capital charge.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 163


…I was at a dinner with Stalin and some of the other comrades and just happened to bring up the subject of Sergo Ordzhonikidze:
“Sergo! Now there was a real man. What a pity he died before his time. What a loss!”
There was an embarrassed silence. I sensed that I had said something wrong. I asked Malenkov as we were leaving after dinner, “What did I say that I shouldn’t have said?”
“Don’t you know?”
“You mean you thought Sergo died a natural death? You didn’t know he shot himself? Stalin won’t forgive him for that….”
After Stalin’s death Mikoyan, who had been very close to Sergo, told me he had had a talk with him on the very eve of his suicide. On a Saturday evening they had gone for a walk together around the Kremlin. Sergo told Mikoyan that he couldn’t go on living.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 85


[June 6, 1935 speech of Yenukidze to the Central Committee plenum]
…In my attitude to the apparat and in my trust in it, I failed to guarantee the security of the Kremlin and therefore it was necessary to remove me….
What was the most criminal thing I did? Confident of the reliability of the apparat, I did not, for instance, immediately draw the appropriate conclusion from the report given to me by the commandant of the Kremlin to the effect that a certain cleaning woman was engaged in counter-revolutionary conversations and, in particular, conversations directed against Comrade Stalin. Instead of immediately arresting the cleaning woman and handing her over to the NKVD, I said to Peterson [the commandant]: “Look into it once again.”
Of course, such a situation ought not to have been tolerated. Surely, immediate action ought to have been taken. These instructions of mind to the commandant of the Kremlin fell into the hands of the NKVD and then into the hands of Comrade Stalin. Comrade Stalin was the first to call attention to this, saying that this was no mere idle chatter, that it concealed very grave counter-revolutionary activity. And in fact, that is the way it turned out….
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 169

Yenukidze: It’s all true. Now I am even more indignant about it than you. It’s all true, comrades. I handed out a lot of money. Perhaps there were swindlers, cheats among them.
…Measures ought to be taken in my case that will serve as a lesson in the future for every Communist occupying this or that post in order to really strengthen our vigilance….
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 171

In 1937, together with Colonel General Gay, Yenukidze fled from Moscow to Transcaucasia, where he proposed to establish an independent Soviet Republic. However, he was captured near Baku by security officers and shot.
Tokaev, Grigori. Betrayal of an Ideal. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1955, p. 248


Speaker after speaker denounced Yenukidze’s sins in a ritual display of nomenklatura unity and anger.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 176

[In a letter to Kaganovich on 8 September 1935 Stalin stated] I am sending you Agranov’s memorandum on Yenukidze’s group of “old Bolsheviks” (“old farts” in Lenin’s phrase). Yenukidze is a person who is alien to us.
Shabad, Steven, trans. The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence, 1931-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 307


There is some reason to suspect that in the end Yenukidze was punished rather more harshly than Stalin had originally intended. At the first plausible opportunity, two plenums later in June 1936, Stalin personally proposed that Yenukidze be permitted to rejoin the party. At that time, Stalin explained that this was the earliest moment Yenukidze’s readmission could take place: “It would have turned out then that he had been expelled at one plenum and reinstated at the next.”
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 178

…Yenukidze’s rehabilitation by Stalin in June 1936.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 179

…Stalin and his team seem rather to have been unprepared for this escalation of the attack on Yenukidze. For his part, Stalin’s comments on the speeches were limited to criticizing Yenukidze’s use of state funds to aid exiles, noting that Yenukidze could have innocently used his own money for this without censure. His interjections never touched on the political side of the accusations, never supported Yezhov’s terrorist characterization (or Yagoda’s strong remedies), and were, in general, not particularly hostile. Kaganovich then recounted to the plenum the Politburo’s deliberations on proper punishment for Yenukidze. He noted that at first Stalin had suggested only removing him from the national Central Executive Committee and sending him to run the Central Executive Committee of the Transcaucasus. Then, when the matter seemed more serious (possibly after another Yezhov report to the Politburo), Stalin had agreed to remove Yenukidze from the Central Executive Committee system altogether and to send him to run a resort in Kislovodsk, concluding that expulsion from the Central Committee was in fact warranted “to make an example.”
Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 52

But, oddly enough, Yenukidze’s surprise expulsion from the party was not the end of the story. Exactly one year later, at the June 1936 Plenum of the Central Committee, the Yenukidze affair resurfaced. Molotov, who was chairing the meeting, said that at the beginning of 1936, Yenukidze had applied for readmission to the party. That had been too soon for consideration (Stalin interjected: “That would have been to expel him at one plenum and except him at the next.”). After Molotov observed that readmitting him would make Yenukidze very happy, and after Stalin spoke in favor, the plenum voted to approve his readmission.
Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 53

But there was no campaign by Stalin against Enukidze before his troubles began, and he was at liberty long after his expulsion. Enukidze’s story is too full of twists, turns, and contradictions to suggest a plan to destroy him.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 43


[Jan. 13, 1937 telegram by Stalin removing Postyshev from Kiev]
On the unsatisfactory party leadership of the Kiev Regional Committee of the Communist Party of the Ukraine and on deficiencies in the work of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Ukraine.
Occupying the majority of leading posts in the apparat of the regional committee, these Trotskyists selected for the apparat either their own people, traitors just like themselves, or else people who, keeping silent, wouldn’t dare to say anything bad about their bosses. Whenever an official from the lower ranks of the party organization complained about Radkov or any of the other members of the Trotskyist group, he was transferred to another job.
…Comrades Postyshev and Ilin, leaders of the regional committee, trusted Radkov with such blindness that they turned over to him the verification of declarations entered into the record against Trotskyists, while he in turn investigated them in such a manner that it was those who submitted the declarations who turned out to be guilty.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 353

[Stalin continues]
First, Comrade Kosior, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Ukraine, is to be admonished for lack of vigilance, for slackened attention paid to party work, and for failure to take measures against contamination of the apparat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Ukraine….
Second, Comrade Postyshev, first secretary of the Kiev Regional Committee, is to be reprimanded and furthermore is to be warned that in case such slackening of party vigilance and failure to pay attention to party work or repeated, harsher penalties will be taken against him.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 355

[Feb. 17-20, 1938 Central That decision “On Comrade Postyshev”]
During his tenure in Kuibyshev, Postyshev in essence not only did not unmask any enemies of the people but, on the contrary, made it difficult, by his antiparty actions, for party organizations and the NKVD to unmask such enemies. Declaring that “he was surrounded everywhere by enemies,” he struck a blow against honest Communists loyal to the Party.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 514


The Politburo was at pains to show that Sheboldaev and Postyshev were not to be considered enemies themselves; they had simply been negligent, even though Sheboldaev’s personal secretary and most of Postyshev’s lieutenants in Kiev had been arrested as Trotskyists…. Significantly, both secretaries were transferred to lesser but important posts: Postyshev became first secretary of Kuibyshev oblast, and Sheboldaev was sent to head the Kursk party organization. Andreev, who had led the sacking of Sheboldaev, had prepared a resolution for the February-March plenum linking Sheboldaev and Postyshev and denouncing them in rather strong language. Apparently, though, Stalin decided not to allow such a strong statement, and a resolution was never introduced.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 360

Although Postyshev was to be sacked from his Kuibyshev position, he was not expelled from the party, nor was he denounced as an enemy.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 502


[Politburo resolution “On the leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Byelorussia”]
More than two months ago, the Central Committee of the Communist Party instructed the new leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Byelorussia (Sharangovich) to liquidate the effects of sabotage committed by Polish spies–namely, Cherviakov, Goloded, Benek, and their fascist-espionage gang.
In particular, the Central Committee of the Communist Party instructed the new leadership to liquidate the sovkhozy created by the wreckers on peasant lands at the order of Polish intelligence and to grant to the kolkhoz members the personal plots due to them by law.
Sharangovich, first Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Byelorussia; Deniskevich, second secretary; and Nizovtsev, people’s commissar for agriculture of Byelorussia, not only failed to carry out this assignment of the Central Committee of the Communist Party but did not even set out to do so. Furthermore, by their acts of sabotage, Sharangovich and Deniskevich artificially created breadlines throughout Byelorussia. Instead of turning to the Central Committee of the Communist Party for help, they concealed this fact from the Central Committee of the Communist Party, even though the Central Committee of the Communist Party had never refused such help to Belorussia in the past.
The Central Committee of the Communist Party considers the actions of Sharangovich, Deniskevich, and Nizovtsev as sabotage, as hostile acts toward Soviet power and the people of Byelorussia. The Central committee hereby decrees:
1. That Sharangovich, first Secretary of the Central Committee of the Congress Party of Byelorussia, be dismissed from his post as an enemy of the people and that his case, like that of Deniskevich and Nizovtsev, [also] enemies of the people, be referred to the NKVD.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 453


The documents show that Postyshev had enemies and critics in the party for years…. But it is hard to avoid the impression that Stalin was not among Postyshev’s longtime enemies.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 513


In another case, Ordjonikidze had tried to shield another client, the former dissident Lominadze, from arrest, by promising Stalin to bring Lominadze around to a loyal position. But when Ordjonikidze became convinced that Lominadze was a lost cause, he proposed having him shot, a solution that was at the time too radical even for Stalin.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 284


You can find a range of opinions about Ordjonikidze. But I think the intellectuals praised him too highly. By his last act he proved that ultimately he was unstable. He had opposed Stalin, of course, and the party line. Yes, the party line.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 114

Ordjonikidze was a good Bolshevik but spineless, especially in matters of principle.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 115


CHUEV: Ordjonikidze’s family considers Stalin responsible for his death.
MOLOTOV: They will always say that. If the final push toward his suicide was the repression of his brother, they can say this. They can heap blame on Stalin. But if my brother was to conduct anti-Soviet agitation, what could I say if he was arrested? I can say nothing.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 114


Walter Krivitsky, an intelligence officer who defected in 1937 and emerged in America in 1939, wrote a book, In Stalin’s Secret Service, and in February 1941 was found dead in a hotel room in Washington, D.C.. It was assumed that he was assassinated by the NKVD, although the police verdict was that his death was a suicide. There was an NKVD order issued to look for Krivitsky, but this was routine for all defectors. We were not sorry to see him go, but it was not through our efforts that he died. We believed he shot himself in despair as a result of a nervous breakdown.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 49


… a few words must be said about the program of Yenukidze and his group. I myself was never a supporter of Yenukidze’s program, nor was I in his conspiracy. Yet his proposals are of considerable interest, as representing the conception of a reformed USSR…. The plan was outlined to me by one of Yenukidze’s closest associates, Sheboldayev, who said that they aimed at destroying Stalinism ‘root and branch’….

Yenukidze was not at once imprisoned, but was put under house arrest in a small building, standing by itself on the outskirts of Moscow, and surrounded by N. K. V. D. guards. Though every precaution was taken against his escape, one day the heavily guarded house was found to be empty. The prisoner had vanished.

Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 20-21


His [Ordjonikidze] wife [Gavrilovna] was extremely worried and phoned her sister, asking her to come over. February days are short, and as it began to grow dark, just after five, Gavrilovna decided to go into her husband’s room, but while she was on her way, turning on the light in the living room, a shot exploded in his bedroom. Running in, she saw her husband lying on the bed, dead, the bedclothes stained with blood.

According to Gavrilovna, the apartment had a side entrance, which everyone used, and a main entrance that was always closed, with bookshelves against it. Moreover, the main entrance led into the living room, where Gavrilovna was at the moment the shot was fired; so it could not have been used by an assassin.

Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 401

The arrest of various subordinates of Ordjonikidze’s before and after his death does not prove that Stalin was conducting a campaign against him, for the same thing occurred around men like Kaganovich and Shvernik, the national trade union leader, whom Stalin continued to trust and employ. Just before Ordjonikidze killed himself, he had several long conversations with Stalin. Why the Vozhd would have devoted so much time to someone he planned to destroy is curious; perhaps Stalin recognized his old friend’s disturbed state of mind and tried to calm him down. In any event, the suicide had to be hushed up. But the available evidence is not convincing that Stalin planned to liquidate someone who had served him loyally, had not been in the opposition, and still held key assignments.

Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 42


Mercader left a letter in which he claimed that he had been originally a devoted follower of Trotsky’s, “ready to shed his last drop of blood for him.” But once in Mexico, he had realized that the beloved leader was merely a criminal counter-revolutionary in the service of (unnamed) capitalist governments. Then, and only then, did he decide to liberate the world from this monster.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 56


The Russian revolution, however, had produced like all revolutions numbers of bitter, discontented, people who hated the government in power. The first two years of the five-year plan, for instance, were marked by an epidemic of sabotage in the higher engineering staff, many of whom had formerly worked for the foreign capitalist owners of large properties now nationalized by the Revolution. Any American who worked in Soviet industry in the years of the first five-year plan can give you dozens of examples of sabotage by engineers.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 122

Russia in 1920 was only half socialist. Most of industry was socially owned but farming was in the hands of peasant proprietors, the stronger of whom were petty capitalists, struggling not only to survive but to grow. Class strife went on between these emerging rural capitalists and impoverished farmhands….
It was a bitter fight, carried through against the upper sections of the peasantry and part of the middle class. An epidemic of sabotage broke out in the industries among the higher engineering staff, who had consciously or half-consciously expected to advance towards privilege and wealth.
Strong, Anna Louise. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 52

With this as background we consider Russia…. The first two years of the Five-Year Plan saw an “epidemic of sabotage” by the higher engineering staff, many of whom had contacts with former foreign owners of industries now nationalized. Let us glance at this sabotage; any American who in those years worked in Soviet industry can give you examples.
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 58

Many Americans told me of sabotage they found in industry.
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 60

As more Russians learned the technical side of industry, sabotage lessened for it was more easily detected…. The “epidemic of sabotage” thus passed but the deeper sabotage inspired by foreign agents remained. This, when it reached the courts, was treated with increasing leniency in 1931-34. The economy was advancing; the few saboteurs were not greatly feared. Earlier “wreckers,” most of whom had been sentenced to work in their own profession on some construction under the GPU, reappeared in normal occupations, sometimes with the Order of Lenin, which they had won while working under duress.
The GPU still justified itself by turning up plots, but sentences lessened. The 52 engineers and technicians in the Shakhty case, convicted in 1928 of wrecking coal mines, were given death sentences, and five were actually executed. A similar conviction two years later, in the Industrial Party case, brought automatic death sentences but these were commuted “in view of repentance.” Those convicted soon had good jobs again. The Mensheviks convicted in 1931 of “inspiring peasant uprisings in connivance with foreign powers; were only given prison terms; it was stated that they were no longer dangerous enough to be executed.
This growing leniency was due to the country’s growing confidence…. As the first Five-Year Plan passed into the second, the good feeling we noted in the previous chapter grew. Especially after the 1933 harvest, the Soviet people felt confident in their growing strength.
The assassination of Kirov, on December first, 1934, smashed this dream of security.
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 61

Some specialists, however, actually became involved in anti-Soviet activity, including conspiratorial work. In the early 30s several counter-revolutionary organizations and groups sprang up inside the Soviet Union as well as abroad…. The overwhelming majority continued to work honestly trying to help the party leaders in charge of the various economic organizations. Many of the specialists were genuinely inspired by the tremendous scope of the first five-year plans.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 257

…Worst of all, thousands of tons of high-grade ore had been irretrievably lost by the introduction into two mines of methods which I had specifically warned against during my previous visit.
We American engineers had evolved for some of the mines at Kalata a more productive system of working the stopes, and had managed to introduce it….
But I now learned that almost immediately after the American engineers were sent home, the same Russian engineers whom I had warned about the danger, had applied this [destructive] method in the remaining mines, with the result that the mines caved in and much ore was lost beyond recovery.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 97

Men high in the canning industry put broken glass, animal hair and fish tails into food destined for industrial workers. A township veterinarian who hated collectivization inoculated 6000 horses with the plague. An irrigation engineer tried to discourage the policy of settling nomad races on the land by using 30-year-old surveys that he knew were incorrect and that would not deliver the water. All of these and thousands more confessed.
What were the causes? Resentment of the highly aristocratic Russian engineer against workers’ rule; resentment of new technique that made their knowledge out of date; actual bribes by foreign firms; anger at the final drive against capitalism embodied in the Five-Year Plan. This led in 1928-30 to what Stalin called “an epidemic of sabotage” among the higher engineering staff.
Scapegoats for failure were not needed, for the Five-Year Plan did not fail. The energy and sacrifice of loyal workers and technicians carried it through. Its success won over many earlier saboteurs, so that by 1931 Stalin was able to report that “these intellectuals are turning towards the Soviet government,” and should be met “by a policy of conciliation.” Thereafter sabotage cases rapidly diminished both in number and seriousness.
Strong, Anna Louise. “Searching Out the Soviets.” New Republic: August 7, 1935, p. 358


A township veterinarian who hated collectivization innoculated 6000 horses with plague.
All these cases, and thousands more like them, can be found in confessions of men who later repented, or in the tales of American engineers experienced in Soviet industry.
If a man made the same “mistake” more than once, and had enough engineering knowledge to “know better,” they called him a wrecker and put him where he could do no harm. This does not mean that they shot him; they usually sent him to work on a construction job in his own profession, but under the direct control of the GPU. As more Russians learned the technical side of industry, sabotage became more difficult, for it was more easily detected.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 125

Even such sabotage, when a came to light in Soviet courts, was treated with increasing leniency in the years from 1931 to 1934. The condition of the country was improving, and the occasional saboteurs were not considered especially dangerous.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 126

In the famous Shakhty case in 1928, for instance, 52 engineers and technicians were convicted of wrecking coal mines in the interest of foreign powers, chiefly Germany; 11 were sentenced to death, and five were actually executed. Two years later in the “Industrial Party” case, a group of engineers admitted conspiracy to wreck state industry in order to put a sort of technocratic party of engineers in control. They were sentenced to death as the law required, but were then immediately given a computation of sentence “in view of their repentance”; shortly after this they were holding good jobs again.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 126

Similarly, a group of Mensheviks convicted in 1931 of inspiring peasant uprisings in connivance with foreign powers were given prison sentences for the announced reason that they were no longer dangerous enough to be executed. In the Metro-Vickers case in 1933, a group of Russian engineers and one Englishman admitted several minor acts of sabotage in power plants which were intended to get their hand in for a widespread wrecking of power plants in case of war. I sat less than 10 feet away from the defendants and watched their faces; it was clear that most of the Russians expected the death sentence. Most of them got only nominal sentences, while the three principal offenders were given ten years.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 127

The increasing leniency in all these cases was due to the lessened tension in the country. As the first five-year plan passed into the second, as Soviet workers became more skilled, an era of good feeling seemed to dawn.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 127


The Bolsheviks contend, apparently with justice, that where the new system has received proper trial without sabotage it has already amply proved its superiority and has greatly increased both food production and the actual happiness of the peasant producers.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 308


While the activities of Glazer, Shevchenko, and others above described probably do not coincide with most Westerners’ ideas of wrecking, there unquestionably was wrecking going on in Magnitogorsk.
Scott, John. Behind the Urals, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1942, p. 182

Unquestionably some genuine sabotage went on in Magnitogorsk. Here are two examples which I knew of personally:
A certain foreman in the blowing house of the blast-furnace department was rather outspoken in his criticism of the Soviet power. He was a heavy drinker, and under the influence of vodka his tongue would sometimes run away with him. Once he boasted openly in the presence of several foreigners that he would ‘wreck the works.’ One day not long afterward a heavy stilson wrench was found in the mashed blades of one of the imported German gas turbines. The frame of the machine was cracked and the whole thing ruined, involving a loss of several tens of thousands of rubles and a good deal of labor. Several days later the foreman was arrested and confessed that he had done the job. He got eight years.
Another case I ran into personally which would be termed sabotage in any country, was the following:
The second part of the power house in Magnitogorsk was under construction, and two large (24,000 kW) turbines were being installed. The reinforced concrete work–foundations, walls, and grouted roofs–was done by ex-kulak labor. As on many Soviet construction jobs, the erection of the equipment started before the building was completely finished. Consequently, when the big turbine was already in place and the mechanics working on it, the ex-kulaks were still around pouring concrete.
One morning the mechanics found the main bearings and some of the minor grease cups of the big turbine filled with ground glass. This substance will ruin a bearing very rapidly. Investigations were made immediately, and several pails of the glass were found near the shack where the ex-kulaks reported when they came to work in the morning. It was there for the electric welders, who used it, mixed with chalk and water, to coat their electrodes.
Obviously one of the embittered, illiterate, dekulakized laborers had taken a pocketful of the glass and put it into the bearings. Unnoticed, this act would have caused great loss. The action was clearly deliberate and malicious wrecking, and the motivations of the wrecker were easily understood.
During the late twenties and early thirties the rich peasants, or kulaks, were liquidated. Their property was confiscated and given to the collective farms. They were shipped out to some construction jobs for five years or so, to be re-educated. Some of the young ones, like my friend Shabkov, lent themselves to this re-education; but most of the old ones were bitter and hopeless. They were ready to do anything, in their blind hatred, to strike back at the Soviet power.
But the Soviet power was not around to strike. There were only workers and engineers and other ex-kulaks building a steel mill. But the machines were symbolic of the new power, of the force which had confiscated their property and sent them out onto the steppe to pour concrete. And they struck at the machines.
Scott, John. Behind the Urals, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1942, p. 186-187


What remained of the Trotsky-Zinoviev movement had consistently fought against the reforms and policies proposed by Stalin and approved by the Party. The Rykov group violently opposed collectivization of agriculture. Sabotage in industry and in mining began to break out. Henri Barbusse, the well-known French writer, who visited Russia at this time, made the following observations, “What subterranean maneuvers; what scheming and plotting! I am still bewildered by all the photographs of documents which I have seen personally. For years one could search in any corner of the Union and one would infallibly discover the English, French, Polish, or Romanian microbe of spying and foul play mixed with the virus of the ‘white’ plague. A certain amount of it still remains. The same people who blew up the bridges and whatever public works still remained in liberated Russia, gasping for breath, who threw emery into the machines and put the few remaining railway engines out of action–these same people put powdered glass into cooperative food supplies in 1933.”
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 28

The sabotage of budding industry, which the USSR made super human efforts to revive, has been raised to the level of an international institution, in which important personages, military officers, technical experts, political agents and the diplomacy and police of the Great Powers have all taken part. What subterranean maneuvers, what scheming and plotting! I am still bewildered by all the photographs of documents which I have seen personally. For years one could search in any corner of the Union and one would infallibly discover the English, French, Polish, or Rumanian microbe of spying and foul play, mixed with the virus of the White plague. A certain amount of it still remains. The same people who blew up the bridges and whatever public works still remained in liberated Russia, gasping for breath, who threw emery into the machines and put the few remaining railway engines out of action–these same people put powdered glass into cooperative food supplies in 1933, and in December 1934 appointed one of their number to blow out Kirov’s brains from behind, in the middle of the Smolny Institute in Leningrad. They unearthed nests of vipers and found that assassins and terrorists have been streaming into the country from Finland, Poland, and Lithuania where they swarm,…
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 114


On September 23, 1936 a wave of explosions hit the Siberian mines, the second in nine months. There were 12 dead. Three days later, Yagoda became Commissar of Communications and Yezhov chief of the NKVD. At least until that time, Stalin had sustained the more or less liberal policies of Yagoda.
Investigations in Siberia led to the arrest of Pyatakov, an old Trotskyist, assistant to Ordzhonikidze, Commissar of Heavy Industry since 1932. Close to Stalin, Ordzhonikidze had followed a policy of using and re-educating bourgeois specialists. Hence, in February 1936, he had amnestied nine `bourgeois engineers’, condemned in 1930 during a major trial on sabotage.
On the question of industry, there had been for several years debates and divisions within the Party. Radicals, led by Molotov, opposed most of the bourgeois specialists, in whom they had little political trust. They had long called for a purge. Ordzhonikidze, on the other hand, said that they were needed and that their specialties had to be used.
This recurring debate about old specialists with a suspect past resurfaced with the sabotage in the Siberian mines. Inquiries revealed that Pyatakov, Ordzhonikidze’s assistant, had widely used bourgeois specialists to sabotage the mines.
In January 1937, the trial of Pyatakov, Radek and other old Trotskyists was held; they admitted their clandestine activities. For Ordzhonikidze, the blow was so hard that he committed suicide.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 141 [p. 125 on the NET]


Of course, several bourgeois authors have claimed that the accusations of systematic sabotage were completely invented, that these were frameups whose sole r™le was to eliminate political opponents. But there was a U.S. engineer who worked between 1928 and 1937 as a leading cadre in the mines of Ural and Siberia, many of which had been sabotaged. The testimony of this apolitical technician John Littlepage is interesting on many counts.
Littlepage described how, as soon as he arrived in the Soviet mines in 1928, he became aware of the scope of industrial sabotage, the method of struggle preferred by enemies of the Soviet regime. There was therefore a large base fighting against the Bolshevik leadership, and if some well-placed Party cadres were encouraging or simply protecting the saboteurs, they could seriously weaken the regime. Here is Littlepage’s description.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 141 [p. 125 on the NET]

[a correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor stated the following]
… the Soviet Government started a series of conspiracy trials in August, 1936, with prominent Communists as defendants,…
Littlepage did not come to Moscow during this trial, and emerged from a long stay in the Soviet Far East only after the second trial, in January, 1937, when important Communists confessed that they had “wrecked” several Soviet industrial enterprises in order to discredit Stalin.
I asked Littlepage: “What do you think? Was the trial a frame-up or not?”
He replied: “I don’t know anything about politics. But I know quite a lot about Soviet industry. And I know that a large part of Soviet industry has been deliberately wrecked, and that would hardly be possible without the help of highly placed Communists. Someone wrecked those industries, and the Communists hold all the high positions in industry. Therefore, I figure Communists helped to wreck those industries.”
No theories for Littlepage. But he believed what he saw…. He was unique among foreigners, so far as I knew, in the fact that he had worked intimately on close terms with Soviet organizations and at the same time had never departed, by a hair’s breath, from his original American outlook…. Littlepage had been inside the system for many years, and still remained as dispassionate as when he started.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. xi

He watched what went on, and was not much surprised by anything he saw. These people had their own peculiar ways of doing things, he said, and it wasn’t his business to judge them. They had hired him to do a job of work, producing as much gold as possible for them, and he was doing it as well as he could. He got along with them very well, because he didn’t mix up in their intrigues, and didn’t try to stick his nose into matters which weren’t connected with mining and smelting gold.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. xii

Of course, there is plenty of need for close police supervision in Soviet industry. In the gold industry the police guard shipments of gold, which don’t take up much space, and might easily be diverted. But they are kept even busier looking out for sabotage.
…I knew there were people who sometimes tried to wreck plant or machinery in the United States, but I didn’t know just how or why they operated. However, I hadn’t worked many weeks in Russia before I encountered questionable instances of deliberate and malicious wrecking.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 198

One day in 1928, I went into a power station at the Kochkar gold mines. I just happened to drop my hand on one of the main bearings of a large Diesel engine as I walked by, and felt something gritty in the oil. I had the engine stopped immediately, and we removed from the oil reservoir about a quart of quartz sand, which could have been placed there only by design. On several other occasions, in the new milling plants at Kochkar, we found sand inside such equipment as speed reducers, which are entirely enclosed, and can be reached only by removing the hand-hold covers.
Such petty industrial sabotage was, and still is, so common in all branches of Soviet industry that Russian engineers can do little about it and were surprised at my own concern when I first encountered it. There was, and still is, so much of this sort of thing that the police have had to create a whole army of professional and amateur spies to cut the amount down. In fact, so many people in Soviet institutions are busy watching producers to see that they behave properly that I suspect there are more watchers than producers.
Why, I have been asked, is sabotage of this description so common in Soviet Russia, and so rare in most other countries? Do Russians have a peculiar bent for industrial wrecking?
PEOPLE WHO ASK SUCH QUESTIONS APPARENTLY HAVEN’T REALIZED THAT THE AUTHORITIES IN RUSSIA HAVE BEEN, AND STILL ARE, FIGHTING A WHOLE SERIES OF OPEN OR DISGUISED CIVIL WARS. In the beginning, they fought and dispossessed the old aristocracy, the bankers and landowners and merchants of the Tsarist regime. I have described how they later fought and dispossessed the little independent farmers and the little retail merchants and the nomad herders in Asia.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 199

Of course, it’s all for their own good, say the Communists. But many of these people can’t see things that way, and remain bitter enemies of the Communists and their ideas, even after they have been put back to work in state industries. From these groups have come a considerable number of disgruntled workers who dislike Communists so much that they would gladly damage any of their enterprises if they could.
For this reason, the police have records of every industrial worker, and have traced back their careers to the time of the Revolution, so far as possible. Those who belong to any group which has been dispossessed are given a black mark, and kept under constant watch. When anything serious happens, such as a fire or a cave-in a mine, the police round up such people before they do anything else. And in the case of any big political crime, such as the Kirov assassination, the round up becomes nationwide.
However, the police assigned to Soviet industrial enterprises do not confine themselves to watching potential wreckers. I know from my own observation that they also organize a network of labor spies. It is a fact that any trouble-maker among the workmen, who grumbles excessively or shows any tendency to criticize the Government, is likely to disappear quietly. The police handle such cases with great skill, and seldom raise a rumpus. I don’t mean to suggest that such workers are treated violently; they’re probably shipped off to out-of-the-way enterprises, perhaps to some of those operated by the police themselves.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 200

The federal police were a great deal less in evidence when I arrived in Russia in 1928 than when I left that country in 1937. It seems to me that their functions have accumulated something like a snowball. So far as their number was concerned, it seemed to expand and contract in sympathy with the political atmosphere. After the enormous police activity at the time of the Kirov assassination, there was a period of comparative quiet through 1935 and the early part of 1936. Then, with the discovery of the “wrecking” conspiracy among higher Communists in 1936, and the removal of the police chief, Yagoda, the activity of the federal police became more frenzied than at any other time in my experience, and was at its height when I left.
…Both Soviet workers and officials often are so green, industrially speaking, that it takes a very wise man indeed to determine between so-called wrecking and plain ignorance. There has been plenty of real wrecking in Soviet industry, as my experience has shown me.
…I can understand why a certain amount of police supervision is necessary in Russian industry, whereas it would not be in Alaska, for example. There are still a lot of people in Russia who do not like the regime, and would be glad to damage it by sabotaging industry which it operates.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 203-204

The Ridder lead and zinc mines in southern Kazakhstan, I was informed, were in a critical state, and I was instructed to hurry down and see what I could do about it. I have already told how I reorganized these mines in 1932, and what I discovered there when I returned on this occasion, in 1937. Undoubted sabotage had occurred in high quarters, and this mine, which is one of the most valuable in the world, was very nearly lost. The business of rescuing it occupied me for several months, and was the final task of my Russian experience.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 265

In some ways it was unfortunate that my last months in Russia should be spent working for the Copper-Lead Trust, some of whose managers I had never trusted, and who, in my opinion, were deliberate wreckers.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 266


But from this it follows that we must change our policy towards the old technical intelligentsia. If, during the height of the wrecking movement, we adopted smashing tactics toward the old technical intelligentsia, now, when these intellectuals are turning toward the Soviet government, our policy toward them must be one of conciliation and solicitude. It would be wrong and dialectically incorrect to continue our former policy when conditions have changed. It would be foolish and unwise to regard almost every expert and engineer of the old school as an undetected criminal and wrecker. “Expert-baiting” always was, and still is regarded by us as a noxious and disgraceful phenomenon.

Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 139


But gradually a real “wrecker” psychosis has grown up amongst the people. They have come to interpret everything that goes wrong as sabotage, whilst most certainly a great part of the defects are traceable to incompetence pure and simple.

Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937. New York: The Viking Press, 1937, p. 38


The writers of a majority of books about Russia are either tourists, who almost never write anything worth more than entertainment, or they are what the Russians would call specialists. These latter people are very fond of studying documents and figures given to them by the Soviet authorities. It is not surprising to me that such observers, sitting in Moscow, reading the excited articles in the Moscow newspapers, and seeing that the country actually was experiencing a food shortage, should get the idea that industrial workers were on the verge of revolting against the authorities.
But I spent this period down among the rank-and-file of the industrial army, sweating and straining like the workers around me to meet increasing demands for production. And I never got any feeling that the workers were on the verge of revolt.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 83


I must say that while I took no sides in the Communist internal political disputes, I never had any sympathy for people who talk about “betrayals” in Russia. My experience there was almost entirely in industry, and in one branch of industry, mining. But, as a completely disinterested engineer, my indignation was aroused chiefly against those who deliberately wrecked mines and destroyed valuable machinery and ore bodies. Whatever their motive may have been, their actions were inexcusable.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 161


We have already mentioned a few of the new-style criminals in Russia, the kulaks, and others who resisted collectivization and were given several years of forced labor under police supervision. Another vast new class of criminals are those known as “speculators.” A workman’s wife, for example, stands in line at a state-owned drygoods store, and buys a dozen yards of cloth, which is all the store will sell at one time. She stands in line several times, waiting several hours each time, and finally gets together 50 or 100 yards of cloth. If she sells this cloth, and takes any profit at all for her pains, she becomes a speculator. The Soviet newspapers often report prison sentences, sometimes even the maximum of ten years, for women who have bought articles in Government stores, and sold them for what we would consider a very modest profit, in view of the trouble they had taken.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 201


But when the great anti-Stalin conspiracy was discovered in 1936, a greater reign of terror started than any which preceded it, and industry was particularly affected, because the conspirators confessed that they had concentrated on wrecking several industries.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 214


To keep things in their own hands, the Communist General staff appoint members of their own party to all key positions. Technical experts were always subject to orders from Communists. Having attained an iron hold on everything in the country, the Communists have arranged to keep it forever by forbidding the organization of any other political party, or even the expression of any other political views. A large police force has been built up to suppress actual or potential political opponents.
This is about the slickest device ever conceived to keep one group permanently in power. However, there proved to be one catch: the Communist leaders could not agree among themselves. These hard-boiled revolutionaries had risked their lives more than once in pre-Revolutionary Russia for the sake of their ideas. The same men now held key positions in the Communist Government. But they couldn’t think exactly alike, and when they had disagreements, these strong-willed men couldn’t surrender their own ideas simply because they had been voted down by a majority of the Party.
The disputes inside the party became so serious that they threatened to break up the whole system. Unless the system was to be modified, something must be done to restore discipline inside the Communist Party. So Joseph Stalin, an Asiatic with Asiatic conceptions of enforcing discipline, and at the same time one of the shrewdest political manipulators imaginable, got hold of of the Party machine and began to enforce discipline by suppressing, exiling, imprisoning leaders of opposition Communist groups.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 293

From 1927, or thereabouts, a new policy was instituted. Before that time, political opposition had been forbidden outside of the Communist Party. From this time onward political opposition was also forbidden inside the Party. The Party took a vote on any dispute; and if 51 percent of the members voted for one side, the other 49 percent could no longer argue for their opinions or expressed any critical views.
Some of the strong-minded revolutionaries inside the Party could not adapt themselves to any such system. They were especially disgruntled because Stalin proved to be a much more clever political manipulator than they were, and could always get a party majority for any project he favored.
From 1929 onward, Stalin began to introduce the whole flock of new policies and projects. This was the period of the Five Year Plans, of the Second Communist Revolution, of all sorts of changes and shifts in the Soviet system and in Communist theory and practice. Through the political machinery he had worked out and established, Stalin directed all these changes entirely to suit his own ideas, and the other old revolutionaries, unless they agreed with Stalin, were left out in the cold.
With human nature being what it is, this situation naturally created many powerful enemies for Stalin, especially among the veteran revolutionaries who had been willing to die for their ideas in the past, and still were. They tried to start underground political agitation as they had done under the Tsars. But the political system which they had helped to create was something much more powerful and subtle than the system they had helped to overthrow. Stalin and the directors of his political police knew all the tricks of underground agitation.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 294

If I have figured it out correctly, the great conspiracy which has almost wrecked the Soviet system in recent years, and hasn’t yet been cleared up, is the natural consequence of the unnatural political scheme which forbids strong men to express their opinions openly and freely. Such a system is bound to produce underground conspirators.
Stalin and his associates apparently didn’t foresee this. After defeating political rivals inside the Communist Party in the period 1927-30, they exiled them for a few months or years, and then brought them back and gave them responsible positions in politics and industry. They seemed to think these veteran revolutionaries would now buckle down and faithfully follow the course laid out for them by Stalin and the lesser men he had promoted to the highest positions because they had always agreed with him.
My own experience in the Copper and Lead Trust provides a good example of Stalin’s treatment of defeated rivals among the veteran revolutionaries, and of the consequences. When I started to work for this Trust in 1931, the men chiefly responsible for its work and that of other allied industrial enterprises, was Pyatakov, a veteran Revolutionary who had disputed with Stalin about several Communist projects, and had been sent into exile for a time, and then brought back, had publicly apologized for his past actions, been “forgiven,” and assigned to this responsible position.
There were dozens of men all through Soviet industry, in key positions, who had gone through a similar experience. Yet they were expected to entertain no hard feelings, to agree with Stalin about everything in the future, and to work with all their energy and enthusiasm to increase his prestige at home and abroad. Among their other duties, they were expected to get up almost every day and make speeches praising Stalin to the skies.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 295

Well, to my mind it is incredible how any man as smart as Stalin could think subordinates of this sort would work loyally in support of himself and his ideas, especially when he knew from past experience how stubbornly they had stuck to their own ideas, and what sacrifices they were willing to make for them. But these former enemies were certainly given a lot of responsibility, and were in a position to cause tremendous damage to Soviet industry if they were so minded.
The testimony in the 1938 trial has done much to explain why Stalin was thrown off his guard. He placed a great deal of reliance, as any man in his position would have to do, upon the chief of the political police. This man, Yagoda, stood high in Stalin’s favor, and was the most feared and hated man in the country. He had the power to arrest and imprison any Soviet citizen indefinitely without trial, or to send him to a concentration camp or into exile without even announcing that he had been arrested.
Yet this man, who was arrested in 1937, testified at his trial in 1938 that he had been conspiring against Stalin for years, and that he and his associates were slowly preparing a coup d’etat which would replace Stalin with the group of those same former rivals whom Stalin had brought back and given responsible positions, even though they had much less prestige and power than before they broke with Stalin.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 296

If this man’s story is true, and I don’t see why it couldn’t be true, the chief of the police force, which is the central instrument of power for a dictator like Stalin, was on the side of Stalin’s enemies, and was only awaiting a favorable opportunity to seize the Government. So many important Communists were on the other side that it was easy to cover up industrial sabotage or anything else.
I never followed the subtleties of political ideas and maneuvers in Russia, except when I couldn’t get away from them; but I had to study what went on in Soviet industry in order to get through my work satisfactorily. AND I AM FIRMLY CONVINCED THAT STALIN AND HIS ASSOCIATES WERE A LONG TIME GETTING AROUND TO THE DISCOVERY THAT DISGRUNTLED COMMUNIST REVOLUTIONARIES WERE THE MOST DANGEROUS ENEMIES THEY HAD. It naturally wasn’t my business to warn my Communist employers against their fellow Party members, but some Russians can bear witness that I mentioned my suspicions to them as early as 1932, after I had worked for some months in the Ural copper mines.
During the past two or three years, the Soviet government has shot more people for industrial sabotage than any other government has ever done, so far as I can discover. A large proportion of those shot were Communists who had previously disagreed with Stalin and then been brought back and given less important but responsible jobs in industry. Some Americans seem to find it hard to believe that Communists would try to wreck industries in a country where other Communists are in control. But anyone who knows Communists can understand that they will fight each other more fiercely than they fight so-called capitalists, when they disagree over some of their hair-splitting ideas.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 297

Sabotage is a familiar Communist weapon in every country…. It is hardly surprising that some Communists should use this same weapon in Russia, once they have decided that the existing regime does not satisfy their own peculiar notions.
It hardly seems necessary to study Dostoevsky’s novels or to dig deep into Russian history to find a complicated explanation for what has happened in Soviet Russia since 1936, as some more subtle minds than mine have preferred to do. MY EXPERIENCE CONFIRMS THE OFFICIAL EXPLANATION WHICH, WHEN IT IS STRIPPED OF A LOT OF HIGH-FLOWN AND OUTLANDISH VERBIAGE, COMES DOWN TO THE SIMPLE ASSERTION THAT “OUTS” AMONG THE COMMUNISTS CONSPIRED TO OVERTHROW THE “INS,” AND RESORTED TO UNDERGROUND CONSPIRACY AND INDUSTRIAL SABOTAGE because the Soviet system has stifled all legitimate means for waging a political struggle.
This Communist feud developed into such a big affair that many non-Communists were dragged into it, and had to pick one side or the other. Those who could avoid making a decision stood to one side; they didn’t want to get caught, whichever way the battle went. Disgruntled persons of all kinds were in a mood to support any kind of underground opposition movement, simply because they were discontented with things as they stood. I saw what this conspiracy did to some of the mines, and I can well believe that it was equally destructive to other branches of Soviet industry, as the official reports say it was.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 298


Industry and agriculture in the Soviet Union are Socialist, but this does not exclude the existence within this Socialist structure of virulent enemies of the new Socialist order. Leaving aside the recent Trotskyist activities for subsequent examination, we can illustrate this proposition by a reference to the wholesale sabotage carried out in the collective farms in the years 1931-33. In the North Caucasus, for example, it was found that amongst the leaders of collective farms were ex-officers who had served with Kolchak and Denikin, and a number of sons of rich peasants. These elements had not only penetrated the collective farms but also occupied important posts in the Communist Party in that area. A similar state of affairs was discovered in the Ukraine. Now obviously these people were utterly incapable of developing a successful movement for the overthrow of the Soviet Government, but they were capable of disorganizing the work of the collectives and, on this foundation, rousing intense opposition amongst the peasantry to the whole policy of co-operation.
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 144

[Letter from Bochkaryov, Middle Volga Krai, on Specialists in 1930]
We poor peasants haven’t retreated from our post but have fought to the last drop. We finally took power into our own hands, as expected of us we switched to normal work, but then, however, the Tsarist hangers-on saw at once what the deal was. They saw that our government paid for our toil as much as was needed to make a living. Then they began to enter our ranks to help us as specialists, and then snuck into our party as well. Now this is really the way all Tsarist hangers-on infiltrated the Soviet Union. The last year I was in the service, I kept a strict eye on this. They were infiltrating our lives by joining some of our trade unions, for example, our communication services union. In this union there was some specialist-bureaucrat who works in this business, at first as a specialist, and then he sneaks his way into the party, and then he’s in charge of us. He immediately sees those who stand on the side of soviet power and immediately has those dismissed from the union. This is away all specialists of this sort work their way into the party…. When we went to repair the lines, I saw these types of specialists when we began to screw the hooks into the telephone poles, and what happens? I screw in three hooks, and he screws in one. I hold two poles, and he one, and all his work is that way, but just the same they’ve made him into my boss because he’s the old specialist. Finally he dismissed all of us poor peasants from the union and put in his own types, those he wanted. Here’s an example for you of how they climbed into our party. Now our party as begun to worry about purging its ranks.
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 72

[1939 essay on life in Voronezh Oblast village sent by rural correspondent Grebennikov to Krest’ianskaia Gazeta]
But some people began to find the kolkhoz farmers’ labor offensive and harmful. People who wormed their way into the leading raion organizations, now exposed as enemies of the people, the Polish spy Sandlir, the enemy of the people Shapkin, Riabinina, and Zhuzhalov, who did their foul deeds and stooped to the worst acts of nastiness they could think of. Making sure it was in the middle of the coldest frost, they summoned 200 carts to the raion under court order, supposedly for essential matters of national importance. Without preparing any shelter, they left people and horses out in the open air around the clock, and for two years these tricks deprived the Kalinin kolkhoz of draft animals.
But in May 1938 the glorious Soviet intelligence agents exposed the people who were perpetrating these outrages and they must bear their proper punishment. And only in 1938 did the people of Kazinka, after heaving a sigh of relief, freely set about their work, proving that labor is valor in heroism.
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 299

[September 19, 1937 Letter of rural correspondent Alekseev to Krest’ianskaia Gazeta on violations of law in Northern Oblast kolkhozes]
The kolkhozes of Lesha Raion in Northern Oblast this year are getting a very abundant harvest, that even our grandfathers do not remember such an abundance of produce, but the enemies of the people, seeing that the kolkhozes are growing stronger, the kolkhoz farmers are becoming well-off and are becoming even more devoted to the party and its leader Comrade Stalin, at the same time are trying to muck things up, prevent the harvest from being gathered and stir up the masses on the kolkhoz. Take [for example] at our machine-tractor stations the enemies of the people Trotskyists Bukharinists have put machines out of commission, machines as decisive in the harvest as the 17 VNIL-5 flax pullers. Flax has been harvested from only 35 hectares for the season. Combines are not being used, they are standing in the fields and the manager is doing nothing. MTS contracts with kolkhozes are not being honored and MTS leaders have yet to give a single accounting to kolkhoz farmers, fearful that their wrecking work will be exposed to the masses.
…But in spite of all this the masses of kolkhoz farmers themselves are struggling with all their might to preserve the abundant crop and the harvest is going through to completion. Then the enemies of the people took another method of struggle to irritate the masses. They are setting fire to villages, the biggest and most packed [densely settled], so that they burn more, like the village of Otemetenikovo recently burned down, a fire was set in a nonresidential structure, today Sept. 19, 1937 the village of Ramenovo burned down, the fire was set in a nonresidential structure, it burned down in the village of Antipino, the same thing on the same night a threshing barn with grain on a kolkhoz was set afire. And what is no secret is that there used to be SR [Socialist-Revolutionary] groups in these villages, and apparently their offspring are the ones that are operating.
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 305

[May 1938 appeal from Chairman of the Kolkhoz Board in Ivanovo Oblast, Khalistov, sent to Krest’ianskaia Gazet]
In 1937 the worst sort of wrecking flourish at our Gorskaia MTS and the Il’insky Raion Executive Committee. Based on an alarm sent to the newspaper Pravda the wreckers were unmasked and incurred the punishment they deserved from two to five years in prison and were ousted from their jobs. The population was able to breathe freely, the wreckers were gone, but the spring of 1938 brought them back. They have felled trees, heaps of suckers have come out of the roots, there are more wreckers and they are worse than in 1937. The stock of tractors was left in the fields in the local villages, and they just stood there all winter, and some of the machines got all rusted. The same wreckers filched and pilfered them….
On the basis of the foregoing we request that you urgently untangle this mess with the wreckers at the Gorskaia MTS and Il’insky Raion, which are covering up and hushing up all the acts of wrecking and laying waste to the kolkhoz stock of horses. They are wearing out the horses which are already weak as it is with overwork, dragging out the sowing indefinitely. They have ruined all the plans for spring work. Is this abomination going to continue much longer, the kolkhoz boards and kolkhoz farmers are outraged and demand an investigation.
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 307

[November 3, 1938 Letter from ex-kolkhoznik Rogudilin to Krest’ianskaia Gazeta on abuses on Karl Marx kolkhoz, Orel Oblast]
In 1936 I was forced to leave, or otherwise the enemies wanted to lock me up for the fact that I was unmasking enemies. But even so I feel sorry for my beloved kolkhoz where the enemies are ruining it and want to ruin it like in the spring of 1937. Didn’t I write you that the people at Karl Marx Kolkhoz of the Kalabinsky Village Soviet in Zadonsk Raion, Orel oblast, with criminal intent sowed ordinary wheat instead of high-quality. Also I receive more than one letter from home where they write me that the kolkhoz chairman on our kolkhoz swapped all the chaff for drink.
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 310

t was then “revealed” that “saboteurs…were groundlessly putting on trial and sentencing a significant number of grassroots activists in the soviets and collective farms. This was done with a definite aim: to stir up animosity among working people.”
Rittersporn, Gabor. Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications, 1933-1953. New York: Harwood Academic Publishers, c1991, p. 254


During the first and second Five Year Plans thousands of technicians and tens of thousands of skilled workers were brought into the country by the Soviet government, in order to assist in the construction of new industries. What could be easier than for the enemies of the Soviet Union to send in groups of spies and wreckers in the guise of technicians?
Thousands of Germans entered the country in flight from the Fascist terror in Germany. While the overwhelming majority of them were devoted revolutionaries, it was possible for the Fascists to incorporate in their ranks groups of agents and spies who, on arrival in the country, cooperated with the organizations of Rights and Trotskyists. And just as the Fascist agents in Britain are under the protection of certain aristocratic groups, so the agents of Fascism in the Soviet Union were under the protection of the Right Wing Chief of the political police, Yagoda.
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 232


[1932 Party Verification of Railroad Employees]
Renewed activity by the Class Enemy and the Fight against It
We possess a substantial number of facts pointing to renewed activity by class-alien, counter-revolutionary, kulak, SR, and Trotskyist factions that is manifested in deteriorating work discipline, declining work quality, and various incidents of sabotage and wholesale theft (on the Moscow-Kazan RR, SR factions in Ruzaevka, Penza, and Yudin; on the Moscow-Kursk RR, in Plekhanovo and Tula SR and Trotskyist terrorist groups with two “Communist” collaborators; on the North Caucasus RR, at Krasnodar Station a counter-revolutionary organization of men from former “haves”: a priest, a Tsarist military officer, a kulak, and a military bureaucrat, and others; on the Western RR, a counter-revolutionary bandit organization headed by bureaucrats from Tsarist times with connections abroad, and a “shock worker” and his band of 25).
Proof of sabotage: at the Maloiaroslavets repair shops repeated arson in the cabs of competing locomotives. In the October RR’s Moscow shops competing engineers have been systematically harassed, sand poured into the axle boxes of their locomotives, and tools looted. Timetables on the Yekaterinsk RR were designed to sabotage, and the Siberian, Far East, and other lines have sabotage organizations.
In December on the Moscow-Kazan railroad communication lines were damaged 14 times, rendering the lines useless for a total of more than 10 hours.
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 122

Recently, Party organizers and cell members have significantly intensified their fight against the class enemy. For example, class enemies holding Party cards have been exposed and expelled: six “Communists” from the cell at the Golutvino Shops of the Moscow-Kazan RR, a secret tie between the secretary of the party collective at Kurgan station and kulaks. In Zlatoust the secretary of the Komsomol cell and head of the technical propaganda office were exposed as kulak agents. The secretary of the party cell of workers also had a secret tie [with class enemies]. Secret enemies were exposed who had shielded themselves with party membership along the North Caucasian and Trans-Siberian Railroads, at the Krasnodar, Novocherkassk, Tikhoretsk, Baku, Nantlug, and other stations.
However, to put it bluntly, the fight against the class enemy is still far from being sufficiently intense in day-to-day work….
In view of the facts cited here, we think the purge of the party on the railroads should have the highest priority, that new, broad, and thorough verifications should be carried out in conjunction with the GPU, and that class-alien and kulak elements should be chased out of the transportation industry.
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 123

In 1934 there were 62,000 “mishaps,” some of them serious wrecks, on the Soviet railway system.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 539


Molotov gave a major report on wrecking in industry. He said that Piatakov was the chief organizer of wrecking in heavy industry. Because he held so high a post, wreckers and spies had every opportunity to place their people in the chief administrations, trusts, and enterprises. Then Molotov made it clear that the purge in heavy industry was already far along: ” Not just a single hundred industrial leaders with party cards, but also ‘nonparty” engineers and technicians who had key posts in institutions of the Heavy Industry Commissariat and for years carried on criminal wrecking work there have now been exposed.” Drawing heavily on materials of the January trial, he drew a picture of an economy infested with wrecking by “Japanese-German-Trotskyist agents” plus–now that this was settled–Bukharinist and Rykovist wreckers of the Right.
Tucker, Robert. Stalin in Power: 1929-1941. New York: Norton, 1990, p. 423


In industry too, there is no doubt that the circle of “secret agents” to be traced and punished was a fairly large one, which would have had to include, among others, such “subversive elements” as authors of false reports on the completion of unfinished projects, skeptics on reorganization and reforms, producers of regularly substandard goods, those who wasted raw materials, and all kinds of incompetent and corrupt officials. Within the Party apparatus too there were cadres to be found everywhere who might be suspected of “hostile activities.” There, “enemies of the people” constituted formidable cliques. They protected other “saboteurs,” took vengeance on those who tried to denounce them, outwitted the vigilance of control agencies, neglected important duties, and systematically communicated false information up to the central authorities, where in any case a good many of them manifestly benefited from the connivance of highly-placed protectors.
Rittersporn, Gabor. Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications, 1933-1953. New York: Harwood Academic Publishers, c1991, p. 252


During walks I had the opportunity to meet a group of workers from the Navy dockyards, who were lodged in another ward. They were accused of having sabotaged the loan for the Five-Year Plan in certain workshops of the Dockyard. They were accused of Trotskyism; some, indeed, were tainted with it, but most of them were plain non-Party workers. They assured me that the Dockyard workers had sabotaged the loan without anybody’s prompting in order to protest against the continual worsening of their material conditions.
Ciliga, Ante, The Russian Enigma. London: Ink Links, 1979, p. 168

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