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Leon Trotsky 19380117 Letter to Wendelin Thomas

Leon Trotsky: Letter to Wendelin Thomas

January 17, 1938

[Writing of Leon Trotsky, Vol. 14, New York 1979, p 751 f., under the title “Kronstadt and the Commission's Findings”]

Dear Mr. Wendelin Thomas:

    1. I fail to see the advantage of a private correspondence upon Kronstadt. It is a matter of facts and of points of view. Only public opinion can judge the differences. In the second issue of The New International an article by J. G. Wright has been scheduled to appear concerning the factual aspect of the reactionary mutiny at Kronstadt. In the next few days I shall publish an article on the same question from a more general point of view. I cannot admit any other way of elucidating a historical and theoretical problem than through a literary discussion.

    2. The Inquiry Commission had a totally concrete task: to verify the Moscow verdict. The task of the commission was defined by its chairman at the beginning of the sessions. As a witness I participated in the investigation of this concrete question. The commission never pretended as a commission to express its point of view upon historical, theoretical, or political questions. Such a pretension would be in contradiction not only to the aim of the commission but to elementary common sense. Every member of the commission can upon his personal responsibility draw from the investigation all the philosophical, historical, and political conclusions he wishes. But the commission as a whole is not more competent to reach a verdict upon political questions than the Supreme Court of the States upon astronomy or esthetics. If a crime results from a fight between two literary schools, the court must know all the pertinent facts including the characteristics of the two fighting tendencies, but its verdict can concern only the crime and not the value of literary or esthetical schools.

    3. I leave without answer those assertions and expressions which I am not inclined to tolerate in a private correspondence.

You have the full right to characterize Lenin and me as you please in your public articles. I shall not assail you about this in private letters.

Yours sincerely, Leon Trotsky