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Leon Trotsky 19380301 Letter to Henri Molinier

Leon Trotsky: Letter to Henri Molinier

March 1, 1938

[Writing of Leon Trotsky, Vol. 14, New York 1979, p 760 f., title: “Questions About Sedov's Death”]

Henri Molinier


Dear Friend:

We have received your letter that brought us the first precise information about what happened. One thing stands out most of all in the report signed by Jeanne. The patient's situation is favorable for four hours after the operation; then an abrupt change. He staggers deliriously down the halls of the hospital! The surgeon [Talheimer], seeing this sudden change, went so far as to wonder whether the patient had intended to commit suicide. This fact seems fundamental to me. Suicide in this case could only involve poison, in any case not a revolver. Why couldn't this poison have come from someone else? But immediately afterwards, the doctors rejected the hypothesis of a murder by poisoning. How can this contradiction be explained? I admit I don't grasp it. Until such time as Talheimer's question about an attempted suicide is clearly explained, the enigma will remain.

The figure of the Russian nurse remains fairly sinister in this context. The report signed by Jeanne says that this nurse not only interested herself in what the delirious patient was saying in Russian, but that she tried to obtain some confidential information by questioning him. Did she make a report or any communication about the content of the delirium to Jeanne or any other friends of Leon? If not, she must have made her report elsewhere. This question also remains unclarified. Perhaps at a distance things seem out of place. But I can only base myself on the text of the report.

Now the question of the [Sedov] archives. The importance of this question is clear to you, but now it takes on exceptional sharpness because of the new trial. We must at least put those documents and letters that can help refute the new calumnies to use as soon as possible. Here is what I propose, in agreement with Natalia. We give, for our part, a mandate to a commission comprised of Alfred Rosmer, Paulsen, and Gerard Rosenthal or Alexis Bardin (they should decide among themselves). This commission of three, or even of all four if they think it more convenient, should establish relations with Jeanne, with you as a go-between, because you seem to us, dear friend, to be the man most suited to resolve the question in the most satisfying manner. The task of this commission is two-fold: (a) assembling the documents immediately utilizable, making photostats; (b) arranging, in agreement with you, the shipment of these documents under conditions of absolute security to the United States.

Natalia and I would like, as well, to have as soon as possible all our letters written to Lyova [Leon Sedov] as well as his old letters to us stored in the Paris archives.

As for Sieva, we would be embarrassed to make proposals from here. We leave all possibilities open for the moment. Natalia is waiting for proposals from Jeanne. For my part, I believe that the boy himself must at least have a consultative voice in this question.

The "practical" character of this letter explains its tone. Our gratitude to you is very deep. You will know how, as a solid friend, to do what there is to do.

Our warmest greetings,


I am sending you a copy of a letter that Van personally delivered to the French ambassador here.