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Leon Trotsky 19390109 Letter to Walter Held

Leon Trotsky: Letter to Walter Held

January 9, 1939

[Writing of Leon Trotsky, Vol. 14, New York 1979, p 821 f., “What the Youth Do to Our Principles”]

Dear Comrade Held:

I now reply briefly to your letter of December 19. Simultaneously I am writing to the comrades in the States about your case. I hope that they will do everything they can.

Here the situation in connection with the visas becomes more and more difficult. I was able to obtain visas for Otto [Schuessler] and Julik only as my personal collaborators who will live in my house and for whom I am responsible in every respect. Our attempts to procure visas for the Czechoslovakian comrades, beginning with Solze, are not very hopeful.

The door is too small and the pressure from all parts of Europe is too great.

I cannot agree with you on the youth question. To dissolve the youth into the adult organization signifies the repulse and loss of the youth. That the youth “dilutes” our principles (or more often transforms them into sharp quintessence) is the most important reason for the necessity for a youth organization and not against it. It is the only non-bureaucratic conception of the question.

Also, I can’t follow you on the question of the March 1921 crisis in Germany. Our position on this question was absolutely clear and uncompromising; but we did not forget that we had not only to do with principles and ideas, but with a living, mass organization which needs time for a transition from one attitude to another. Paul Levi was a qualified “Literat” and no more. That in his writings you can find some happy formulations which you can interpret now as prophetic, cannot change my appreciation of his personality and his role one iota. I am a bit afraid that you are considering the question too much‘ from a literary point of view and not enough from a political one.

I hope by the time this letter reaches you that you will have become a father and so have left the “youth” officially. Natalia and I warmly embrace Synnove and yourself.

With best comradely greetings.


Leon Trotsky