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Leon Trotsky 19380307 Strange New Developments

Leon Trotsky: Strange New Developments

March 7, 1938

    [Writings of Leon Trotsky 1937-1938, New York 1970, p. 231-233]

On February 28, I put forward the supposition that after the experience of the preceding trials, the present trial would be better prepared and stage-managed. This supposition proved to be unfounded. Already brief dispatches testify to the fact that the present trial is no less abundant in contradictions and absurdities than the previous ones. To a great degree this is explained by the fact that the organizers of the frame-up could not begin their creative work upon a clean page; they were compelled to patch up gaps in the previous trials, sew up tears in the fabric, reconcile contradictions, and at the same time busy themselves with inventing ever-greater sensations by increasing the number of victims and the spatial dimensions of the crime.

1. Krestinsky states that he received a letter from me dated December 19, 1936 – that is, ten years after I had broken off all relations with him – and in this letter I had recommended the creation of a "broad military organization." This alleged letter, obligingly underlining the "broad" scale of the plot, evidently aimed at justifying the extermination of the Red Army's best officers, which began last year but is still a long way from completion even today. Krestinsky, of course, "burned" my letter, following the example of Radek, and presented nothing to the court beyond his confused reminiscences.

Meanwhile, in December 1936 my wife and I were interned by the Norwegian government at the demand of Moscow and all my correspondence passed through the hands of the Norwegian police. If we allow for the possibility that I wrote my "instructions" with invisible ink there still remains the question of the envelope and the address to which it was sent. All incoming and outgoing mail was registered at the so-called "passport office" in Oslo: judicial verification therefore would not present any difficulties.

I wish to add that I wrote a formal letter at that time to my Norwegian lawyer, Puntervold, and asked him to observe the greatest caution with unknown visitors who might in the future figure in new trials as intermediaries between myself, my lawyer, and the Moscow "terrorists." All necessary documents on this matter are in the hands of Miss Suzanne La Follette, secretary of the Commission of Inquiry in New York.

    2. This same Krestinsky stated that I had allegedly written him another letter, already from Mexico, in which I expressed "indignation" over the revealing testimony of Pyatakov from the witness stand. The aim of this alleged letter is clear: to buttress by my "indignation" the testimony of Pyatakov, which is hopelessly discredited by his notorious flight from Berlin to Oslo in December 1935, when according to the testimony of the official authorities at Oslo not a single plane landed in that city that month.

Such a letter might be helpful to Vyshinsky but why would it be helpful to me? The trial of Pyatakov had already ended and Pyatakov had already been executed. To express merely platonic indignation in a conspiratorial letter which had to pass several borders would have been the height of folly, especially if we take into consideration the personality of the individual addressed. The conduct of Krestinsky on trial stamps him as an accomplished hysteric. If my alleged friend, Pyatakov, "betrayed" me, one could presume with greater probability that Krestinsky would also betray me. What sense was there, then, in sending a letter to Krestinsky, profitless to me, which, if it fell into the hands of the GPU, would prove a more powerful weapon against me than all the confessions of the defendants taken together? But the letter did not fall into anyone's hands. It was, of course, "burned"; as much, that is, as an unwritten letter can be burned.

    3. The accusation ascribes to Bukharin the plan of assassinating Lenin, Stalin, and Sverdlov in 1918, when Bukharin and his group fought against signing the Brest-Litovsk treaty. Whoever knows these people and their relations will understand without difficulty the whole absurdity of this accusation. Bukharin was as attached to Lenin as a child to its mother. As far as Stalin is concerned, in 1918 he was such a second-rate figure that it would not have entered the mind of the most terrible "terrorist" to select him as a victim. It was the task of this part of the trial to extend the present bureaucratic "greatness" of Stalin to the past.

4. In connection with this accusation against Bukharin, several participants of his group in 1918, Osinsky, Yakovleva, Mantsev, figured in the proceedings as witnesses, i.e., defendants of tomorrow. But the names of two persons who played an important role in the group of opponents to the Brest-Litovsk treaty are missing, namely, Kuibyshev and Yaroslavsky. It is true that Kuibyshev, former head of the Gosplan [State Planning Commission], is now declared to have been poisoned by the Kremlin doctors. But this does not change the matter. In 1918 this very Kuibyshev evidently intended as Bukharin's friend to poison Lenin, Stalin, and Sverdlov. As for Yaroslavsky, he is not only alive and healthy but is actively participating in all the purges against the Opposition. Evidently it is exactly because of this that Yaroslavsky, this Bukharinist of 1918, has received amnesty. Will this continue for long? If Yagoda himself, yesterday's chief of the GPU, sits on the bench of the defendants then no one can vouch for the fate of Yaroslavsky. How much low buffoonery in this terrible tragedy!