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Leon Trotsky 19380308 Anachronisms

Leon Trotsky: Anachronisms

March 8, 1938

    [Writings of Leon Trotsky 1937-1938, New York 1970, p. 234 f.]

The Moscow judicial frame-ups are full of anachronisms. In the Zinoviev-Kamenev trial (August 1936) the Trotskyists were alleged to have entered into an alliance with the Gestapo during 1932, when the Gestapo had not yet been formed. Leon Sedov in 1932 met the defendant Goltsman in the Hotel Bristol, which had been demolished during 1917. There are many such examples. But even more striking anachronisms constitute the distinguishing feature of the present trial.

The witness Mantsev, dragged from prison, alleged that in 1920 at the Kharkov station within several days after I had been there an attempt was made on the coach of the train in which Stalin was traveling; and that I later urged Mantsev not to busy himself about this inasmuch as "our comrades" could suffer because of this. In order to disentangle at least a part of the absurdities included in this testimony it is necessary to enumerate them:

    1. "Our comrades" evidently is supposed to signify the Trotskyists. But in 1920 there were no Trotskyists. The Left Opposition arose only in 1923. The word "Trotskyists" did not appear until a year later.

    2. Mantsev, a close collaborator of Dzerzhinsky, the former head of the Cheka, never in general belonged to the Trotskyists, and least of all during a period when Trotskyism didn't exist.

    3. The military policy which I carried out met with full support from Lenin and the majority of the Political Bureau. Behind the scenes Stalin led a campaign of intrigue against this policy, supporting Voroshilov, the present people's commissar of defense; Chadenko, the deputy people's commissar of defense; and others who opposed the creation of a centralized army, advocating purely guerrilla detachments. On the Volga, Voroshilov commanded one of the twenty-four armies. Stalin was a member of the military soviet of this army. I dismissed Voroshilov and recalled Stalin. Later Stalin was stationed on the southern front and again replaced. There was not the least reason for my resorting to terror. A simple order was sufficient to resolve every question.

    4. Anyone with the least imagination can readily understand that if in 1920, with actually limitless power concentrated in my hands, I had wished to get rid of Stalin at the front, the matter would scarcely have limited itself to futile attempts about which the world learns now for the first time, eighteen years later.

    5. More than once during the years of the civil war I had to resort to severe measures. I did this openly and under my own signature. Stalin intrigued behind the scenes. In July 1919 Lenin upon his own initiative gave me a sheet at the bottom of which appeared the following lines: "Knowing the harsh character of Comrade Trotsky's orders, I am so convinced, so absolutely convinced, of the correctness, expedience, and necessity for the good of our cause, of orders issued by Comrade Trotsky that I give them my full support. V. Ulyanov (Lenin)." Lenin in advance signed his name to each of my orders or actions at the front. I never made use of this carte blanche but it remains in my archives as evidence of the firm moral confidence of Lenin, who, generally speaking, could not be counted among gullible people.

    In face of such mutual relations among the individuals concerned, it might be possible to imagine Stalin in 1920 making an attempt upon my life but in no case my making one upon Stalin's. However, we must not forget that one of the tasks of the present trial is to revise the history of the last twenty years and to assign Stalin a position in the past which he never occupied.