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Leon Trotsky 19300400 They Didn't Know

Leon Trotsky: They Didn't Know

Stalin, Krestinsky, Yakubovich, and Others Have by Pure Chance Formed an Alliance with Schumann and Kerensky

April 1930

[Writing of Leon Trotsky, Vol. 2, 1930, New York 1975, p. 159-163]

In the last number we told the story of L. D. Trotsky's lawsuit against the Dresden publisher Schumann (Reissner firm). We shall briefly recall the essence of the matter.

Appearing in Constantinople, and depicting himself as a fervent supporter of Karl Liebknecht, Schumann concluded an agreement with Comrade Trotsky to publish several of his books. Soon after the contract was signed, however, the author found out that some months previously Schumann had published Kerensky's scurrilous book against Lenin, Trotsky, and the Bolsheviks in general. The author appealed to the court for a dissolution of the agreement. The Berlin court granted the request, since it recognized that the publisher had concealed from the author a type of circumstance that could not help having a decisive influence on him.

This whole lawsuit would, of course, have been of secondary interest if Stalin and his agents had not intervened in the affair. Not long before the court examination (it was put off several times) Schumann unexpectedly declared to the court that he had become a publisher for the Soviet government, which had entrusted him with bringing out five volumes of state documents. On the basis that the "moral and political successors of Lenin," who in Schumann's competent estimation are Stalin, Molotov, etc., have sufficient trust in him, the publisher of Kerensky's scurrilous book, to entrust him with the publication of state documents, Schumann denied L.D. Trotsky the right to break the agreement and demanded that the court compel the author to hand over to him the manuscript of the book Lenin and the Epigones. At the time of the discussions with Comrade Trotsky, Schumann did not have, and from all the circumstances could not have had, any relations with the Soviet government. These relations still did not exist at the moment Trotsky appealed to the court. It was precisely as a result of this appeal that the relations arose And it was only on this basis that they could arise.

Stalin's interest in foreign editions of the works of Comrade Trotsky requires no proof. It is sufficient to mention the fate of Blumkin and to note in passing that old books of L. D. Trotsky, including official documents of the party, the Communist International, the Soviet government, the military department, etc., written by him, have been removed from storehouses, shops, and libraries and destroyed. In the list of proposed publications by Schumann the book Lenin and the Epigones stood in first place, as was mentioned. It is again unnecessary to explain the special interest of Stalin in this topic. Schumann's link with the Soviet institutions in Berlin was established via the head of the press bureau of the embassy. At least Schumann named this person in the first place as a witness he wanted at the trial. It is very probable that it was precisely the head of the press bureau, as part of his duties, who informed Moscow of the forthcoming publication by the Reissner press of Trotsky's book Lenin and the Epigones. The connection was made. It turned into a friendship. The pledge of the friendship was an order for five volumes of state documents. The nature of this type of publication is fairly well known: it is not the publisher who pays the "author" but the latter who subsidizes the publisher. The size of the subsidy depends on the extent of the political problems the orderer is pursuing. All circumstances compel the assumption that Schumann had done good business. Evidently Stalin also thought the game worth the candle.

What is Stalin's immediate practical aim? It is clear: to secure unlimited disposal of Trotsky's book Lenin and the Epigones and of the series of subsequent books. Schumann himself, of course, does not need the book now; he has already received an advance from Stalin, and on a scale he had not previously conceived. But the unfortunate thing is that Schumann himself is of no use to Stalin without the book. That is why Schumann is now fighting the suit. Having lost it in Berlin, he has transferred it to Dresden. Legal costs evidently do not stop him. The five volumes of state documents are enough to feed his legal idealism. The more so since there is no reason why the five volumes should not turn into eight or ten. Jurists consider that Schumann's only trump card in this dirty game is the order from the Soviet government. The "moral and political successors of Lenin” are, so to speak, going bail before the court for Schumann's right to publish a book which proves the epigones — are epigones, and consequently in no way the political or moral successors of Lenin.

We already indicated last time that in his latest declaration to the Berlin court Schumann-proposed to call two witnesses: the communist Yakubovich, secretary of the Berlin embassy, and the slanderer Kerensky. Yakubovich, to prove that Stalin actually did give, and in time too, the order to Schumann, and consequently trusts him. Kerensky, to prove that Lenin and Trotsky really were agents of the Hohenzollerns. If Yakubovich's authority had proved insufficient it must be supposed that even Kerensky himself would not have refused Schumann and Stalin the necessary service.

This exceptionally scandalous affair evokes some disquiet and confusion in the circles "friendly" to the embassy, which are admittedly not large, since the behind-the-scenes mechanism of the affair has not received the illumination it deserves. Krestinsky, Yakubovich, and the rest calm the excited and confused "friends" with the categorical assertion that they absolutely did not know — imagine, they had no idea! — about Schumann's having published Kerensky's book. And the "friends" hasten to believe. There are such special "friends of the USSR" who bear this appellation just as of old one bore the rank of collegiate assessor or aulic counselor.* These "friends" were earlier prepared to believe the explanations of any Bessedovsky (before he jumped over the fence) — just as they will not for anything believe the fact of the shooting of Blumkin. But the trouble is that apart from these gentlemen, whose friendship for the October Revolution is expressed mainly in festival trips at the expense of the state, there exist real, not titular, friends of the October Revolution, who look differently at the alliance of Stalin with Schumann and Kerensky — through the mediation of Krestinsky and Yakubovich — against Lenin and Trotsky. And we, for our part, will try to make sure they find out.

Or perhaps this alliance does not exist? For Yakubovich asserts that they found Schumann by chance. They knew neither that Schumann wanted to publish Trotsky's book, nor that Trotsky had decided to refuse him the book. These are statesmen — are they to bother with such matters? They didn't even know of Trotsky's lawsuit against Schumann. When they gave Schumann the state order, they did not bother to gather information about him. They did not even look at his brochures. They were in a very great hurry; documents brook no delay. But perhaps Yakubovich simply fell in love with Schumann's blue eyes; Stalin could not resist Yakubovich and gave Schumann the large order. Everything in this affair happened by chance. Only Bryukhanov breathed regularly. And all the Stalin-Krestinsky chances happened to coincide with Trotsky's lawsuit against Schumann. You can't do anything with someone who does not want to believe. That's what skeptics and doubters are for, not to believe. Not long ago, Stalin again explained that communists must be "as pure and transparent as crystal" in their actions. And who should know that better than Stalin?

Well, then, all right, let's believe it. There is no alliance; Stalin just happened to bump into Schumann through the mediation of Krestinsky who didn't look enough, with the aid of Yakubovich who didn't listen enough. Anything is possible. But Schumann all the same did publish Kerensky's book, and this book, with all its stupidity and lack of talent, qualities which could be brought out in court in mitigation of guilt, still remains one of the rottenest books written against the Bolsheviks. What steps are Stalin and all the Krestinskys and Yakuboviches intending to take to get away from Kerensky? That is the only question of political importance now.

L.D. Trotsky was deceived by Schumann. But this did not prevent the author, stuck in Constantinople, bound hand and foot, from moving against Schumann and with the help of a lawsuit securing a favorable judgment from the court. What prevents Stalin from taking this path? After all, a German court has decided that a co-fighter of Lenin has the right to dissolve an agreement with Schumann, if at the time the contract was concluded a book of Kerensky's was concealed from the author. Stalin's and Krestinsky's way has been prepared. They have only to turn to the court and they will obtain a dissolution of the "chance" contract much easier than Trotsky did. If they really knew nothing of all this, if they have no alliance with Schumann and they are not seeking such an alliance, their way is clear: to turn to the court.

But they will not do this. Why? Because courts are not so credulous as titular "friends." And Schumann is not that simple. By contrast with the "friends," Schumann very well knows how and why he got to know first the head of the press bureau, then Yakubovich, then the State Publishing House and — most important — the currency section of the People's Commissariat of Finance. Schumann — and not Schumann alone — bears these tender memories engraved not only on the tables of his heart, but in one of the drawers of his writing desk. He can in case of need present the court with a historical sketch of his acquaintance with Stalin's agents who so briefly and convincingly explained to him precisely where to find the "moral and political successors of Lenin." True, Schumann will thereby cause some damage to his own reputation. But firstly, he has not all that much to lose, especially if he is driven to extremities. Stalin cannot appeal to the courts. Krestinsky and Yakubovich do not dare appeal to the courts. Otherwise it cannot help coming out that Stalin is not all so pure and transparent as he ought to be according to the laws of crystallography.

That is why Schumann, despite the initial failure, regards the future with hope. From Stalin's side, Krestinsky will not threaten him with anything. They are allies and behind-the-scene inspirers. That is not the place from which the fight against the defilers who put out dirty papers against Bolshevism will come.

* Grades in the czarist hierarchy of ranks. — Translator