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Leon Trotsky 19380705 Stalin and Accomplices Condemned

Leon Trotsky: Stalin and Accomplices Condemned

July 5, 1938

[Writings of Leon Trotsky 1937-1938, New York ²1976, p. 372-375]

You desire a statement from me concerning the interview Lombardo Toledano gave while he was in Oslo and the dispatch which Aftenposten published on June 10, dealing with the coming trial of the Soviet diplomats.

Your paper's attitude toward me has always been one of unvarnished hostility, expressed in the nastiest fashion. I regard this hostility as well deserved. Therefore, I can only answer your questions on the condition that my answers will be published without omissions, in toto, including this introduction. As far as your paper's commentary is concerned, it is all the same to me.

I will begin with the trial of the diplomats. I do not know whether this trial, in which your paper seems to think Yakubovich will play the leading role, will actually take place. If it does, Yakubovich's role will not be determined by his third-rate importance (in a political sense) but with reference to political geography. He was ambassador in Norway, where I resided for a year and a half. Of those who apparently will go to trial, I was personally well acquainted with the former ambassador to Berlin and Tokyo, Yurenev, the former ambassador to Warsaw and general consul in Barcelona, Antonov-Ovseenko, and the former chief of the Military Department of the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs, General Gekker. But Yakubovich I didn't know at all. Of course, I may have met him in Moscow at some official conference or other, but I don't recall it. In any case, any possible connection or contact between us while I was in Norway would have been just as impossible for me as it was for him. My attorney, the late Mr. Puntervold, told me while I was interned in Hurum that, according to "reliable sources," Yakubovich took a very aggressive stand in the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, where he slammed his fist on the table and demanded first my internment and then my expulsion from Norway. He won his first demand; the second was denied him. This is all that I know, secondhand, about Yakubovich's activities in Norway.

It is very likely that Yakubovich has been implicated solely in order to correct the blunder with Pyatakov's famous plane trip, where he allegedly landed at the Kjeller airport. Pyatakov's thoroughly fantastic and extremely ill-considered testimony was refuted at the time by the Norwegian press. Soviet justice has not yet recovered from this blow. It is possible that it will be Yakubovich's task to present a new version of this journey to the world. Yakubovich could, for example, say that Pyatakov made a geographical error, or that he intentionally concealed the real facts about the airport in order to protect an accomplice, perhaps the very same Yakubovich We will be presented with a new set of circumstances which, naturally, will contain new errors. Moscow justice will in time correct these errors too – after Yakubovich's death. These are, of course, all suppositions. But I regard them as quite likely if the diplomat's trial takes place.

As for the interview Lombardo Toledano gave to Arbeiderbladet (May 25), it can be said that it compromises the paper as much as the object of the interview. In this conversation, Lombardo does not speak a word of the truth, just like in most of his political speeches. He distorts the truth not just for the purpose of political slander, but apparently totally without purpose – because he is incapable of anything else.

According to Toledano, Diego Rivera "invited" me to Mexico so that – I would create publicity for Rivera. Don't these words characterize Toledano's own ethics and moral stature?

Replying to the question about whether I have friends in Mexico, Toledano says: "When he arrived, he had possibly five friends; now he has only two, Diego Rivera and his wife." This does not prevent the same Toledano from declaring at a public meeting in Mexico that I am preparing a general strike against General Cardenas's regime. In which of these two instances is Toledano lying? I am obliged to say – as usual, in both.

Toledano undertakes to ridicule the "trial" which my friends allegedly put on in Coyoacan. He goes into fantastic details about how the lady of the house, Frida Rivera, gave the judges and the witnesses tea (apparently in order to bribe them). There is not a word of truth in this. There was no trial in Coyoacan. A commission of inquiry came there for a week to interrogate me as a witness. The stenographic report of the meetings of the Commission of Inquiry have been published in a 617-page book, The Case of Leon Trotsky. Even a superficial acquaintance with this book will serve to unmask Mr. Toledano's lies from beginning to end.

Under the title Not Guilty (Harper and Brothers, New York, 1938) there has been published the text of the verdict of the International Commission of Inquiry, nominally into the case of Leon Trotsky and Leon Sedov, but in reality into the case of Stalin and his accomplices. We recall first of all the composition of the judges:

John Dewey, president of the commission, well-known American philosopher, professor emeritus of Columbia University, international authority on pedagogical questions;

John Chamberlain, American writer, long-time literary critic of the New York Times, lecturer at Columbia University on journalism;

Edward Ross, dean of American sociologists, professor emeritus of Wisconsin University;

Benjamin Stolberg, well-known American publicist on questions of the workers' movement;

Carlo Tresca, leader of American anarcho-syndicalism, publisher of the magazine II Martello, leader of a number of strikes;

Suzanne La Follette, secretary of the commission, well-known writer, editor of radical journals;

Alfred Rosmer, well-known figure in the French workers' movement, member of the Executive Committee of the Comintern (1920-21), chief editor of I'Humanité (1923-24);

Otto Rühle, old member of the left wing of the German Social Democracy, associate of Karl Liebknecht, author of a biography of Karl Marx;

Wendelin Thomas, leader of the revolt of the German sailors on November 7, 1918, subsequently Communist deputy in the Reichstag (1920-24);

Francisco Zamora, former member of the executive committee of the Mexican Confederation of Workers, professor of political economy, eminent Marxist publicist.

As legal adviser to the commission figured John Finerty, well-known liberal attorney in the United States.

All the participants in the commission have a long and distinguished past in various fields of social life, science, and political activity. They all defended the October Revolution in its time from the sharp tongues of reaction. Many of them took part in campaigns around the sensational trials of Sacco-Vanzetti, Tom Mooney, etc.357 Apart from A. Rosmer, who at certain times was politically linked with L. Trotsky, all the other participants in the commission, both its liberal majority and its Marxist minority, were and remain opponents of the so-called Trotskyists.

The commission worked under very high pressure for more than eight months, questioned directly and through a special sub-commission in Paris numerous witnesses, studied many hundreds of documents, and formulated its final conclusion in the verdict, which takes up 422 pages of closely printed text.

Each point of the accusation against Trotsky and Sedov, each "admission" by the accused, all the testimonies of the witnesses, are arranged in exhaustive fullness in separate paragraphs. The text of the verdict takes up 247 such paragraphs.

There is, of course, no possibility of exhausting in this note the contents of the book, which will always remain a monument of ideal honesty, legal and political acumen, and painstaking thoroughness. All the facts, dates, testimonies, and arguments scattered over the pages of the official account of the Moscow trials, and in critical and polemical productions of the friends of the GPU and its opponents, are here subjected to careful analysis. Everything doubtful is sifted out and only unshakable facts remain, from which unshakable conclusions are drawn. They are already known.

Paragraph 246 says: "On the basis of all the evidence herein examined and all the conclusions stated, we find that the trials of August 1936 and January 1937 were frame-ups."

Paragraph 247, the last one, says: "On the basis of all the evidence herein examined and all the conclusions stated, we find Leon Trotsky and Leon Sedov not guilty."

No force will be able to erase this book from the currents of world public opinion. Friends and apologists of the GPU will break their teeth on its unconquerable arguments. The verdict has been given and there is no appeal from it. A brand has been' burned on the forehead of Stalin, organizer of the greatest legal forgery in world history!

L. Sedov, who applied all his strength to the revelation of the truth about the Moscow trials, did not live to see the appearance of this historic book. He had at least the satisfaction of acquainting himself with a short text of the verdict, published on September 20 of last year. Now the truth about the accusers of Sedov is finally revealed. It remains to reveal the truth about his murderers. We will not rest until that work is finished!

Neither Lombardo Toledano nor any other of Stalin's agents will be able to keep world public opinion from being affected by this book.