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Leon Trotsky 19380300 Notes in the Margin of Pravda's Accounts

Leon Trotsky: Notes in the Margin of Pravda's Accounts

[March 1938]

    [Writings of Leon Trotsky 1937-1938, New York 1970, p. 267-269]

    1. The accused Bessonov asserts that at the end of December 1936 he sent a letter to L.D. Trotsky, by means of Johanssen. A few days later he received a reply from him.

On December 18, 1936, L.D. Trotsky was secretly brought on board the tanker Ruth by the Norwegian police. On December 19 this vessel left Oslo, and reached Tampico (Mexico) only on January 9, 1937. At the end of December 1936, L.D. Trotsky had no possibility of corresponding with anybody. He was also forbidden to use the telegraph.

Dagbladet, Oslo, of March 7, 1938, gives incontrovertible proof that Bessonov's testimony about the letter to Trotsky is just as much a figment as the flight of Pyatakov to Oslo. From the beginning of September 1936, all of Trotsky's mail was checked by the head of the central passport bureau, and a copy of every incoming and outgoing letter was taken (testimony of Konstad, head of the central passport bureau). On December 19, L.D. Trotsky left Norway and had no further possibility of communicating with the outside world (testimony of police officer Jonas Lie, who accompanied him on the tanker).

It is true that to avoid this blunder it would have been sufficient to read Les Crimes de Staline (pp. 80-81 and 128).

    2. Krestinsky confirms Trotsky's refutation. Bessonov asserted that Trotsky met Krestinsky in Merano in October 1933. Trotsky immediately refuted this: in October 1933, he was in France at Bagnères (Pyrenees) along with his wife and a friend. His stay at this resort was known to the French police.

During Bessonov's examination, Vyshinsky asked Krestinsky whether he confirmed Bessonov's testimony. Krestinsky confirmed that he was at that time in Merano. "I was there for treatment and never saw any of the Trotskyists" (March 2 session—our emphasis). But at the March 4 session (Pravda, March 6) during his second examination Krestinsky not only "confesses" that he had met Trotsky in Merano, but even supplies details: "Trotsky arrived in Merano about October 10 along with Sedov." And to avoid all possible refutations by L.D. Trotsky, he states precisely: "Trotsky, as he told me, arrived on a false French passport . . ." (our emphasis).

    3. On Sedov's "meetings" with the accused, (a) In 1929. According to Krestinsky's and Rosengolts's testimony (Pravda, March 6) Sedov met Krestinsky in Kissingen (Germany) in September 1929. From the time of his exile from the Soviet Union—in February 1929—till February 1931, Sedov, as is clear from his passport and from numerous eyewitness accounts, lived in Turkey and never left it. (b) The same applies to the testimony of Krestinsky, who is supposed, before he left Berlin, to have met Sedov so as to put him in touch with General Seeckt. (c) In 1933. The meeting in Velden (Austria) with Rosengolts. In this case Rosengolts is fairly careful and gives no further details. But Sedov was not in Austria in 1933. Till March 1933, he lived in Germany, from which he went straight to France, (d) In 1934. The meeting with Rosengolts in Carlsbad (Czechoslovakia). From the time of his arrival in France (1933) Sedov never left that country once. The falsity of this declaration can be proved from documents.

    4. Bessonov asserts he met Sedov in Berlin in 1931, after an incident involving Sedov's sister. All newspapers are supposed to have written about L.D. Trotsky and his children at that time in connection with this incident. Sedov's sister, Zinaida, came to Berlin at the very end of 1931; nothing happened to her and not a single newspaper wrote about her then. Only in 1933, when she committed suicide, did all the newspapers write about L.D. Trotsky and his children.

    5. As a curiosity we give the total amount of money which, according to the testimony of the accused, was handed to Trotsky and his friends: 2,020,000 gold marks, 930,000 dollars, and 27,000 pounds sterling. This money, according to Krestinsky, went for propaganda abroad, publishing, etc. Comrade Trotsky's interview, which has appeared in the world press, is a sufficient answer to this ridiculous lie.

    6. There is no doubt that the accusations of the murder of Gorky, Menzhinsky, and Kuibyshev were invented only two or three weeks before the trial, and the accusation of preparing the assassination of Lenin, Stalin, and Sverdlov in 1918 only on February 19-20, i.e., three days before the completion of the indictment, (a) Rykov "confessed" the murder of Gorky only on January 10, 1938. (b) The Kremlin doctor Kazakov "confessed" the murder of Menzhinsky only on February 4. (c) The Left SRs Kamkov and Karelin and the former Left Communists Yakovleva, Osinsky, and Mantsev "confessed" only on February 19 and 20 that in 1918 Bukharin intended to kill Lenin, Sverdlov, and Stalin.

    7. In the indictment we are informed that Rakovsky became a Japanese spy in 1934, at the time of his journey to Japan. Let us remember that in his testimony to the Commission of Inquiry in April 1937, L.D. Trotsky predicted the possibility of such an accusation. He clearly speaks of this on pages 338-39 of the stenographic record of his examination [The Case of Leon Trotsky]; this quotation was included in the last number of the Biulleten Oppozitsii—no. 62-63, p. 14.

    8. It is curious to note that reports of the course of the trial appear in different lights in the Soviet and foreign press, especially in those papers represented by their own correspondents. Thus, for example, it is interesting to compare Bukharin's examination according to the Pravda accounts with the description of a hardly objective correspondent such as M. Berlan of Le Temps. On the accusation of spying, Bukharin declared: "I am hearing this for the first time here. Not a word of this was said during the investigation although the prosecutor interrogated me for three months" {Le Temps, March 9, 1938). There is not a word of this in Pravda.

The following words of Yagoda, not given in the Pravda account, should also be noticed: "If I had been a spy, dozens of countries could have let loose their secret agents in the USSR" (Le Temps, March 10, 1938). Space forbids us to give more than these two examples.