Evidence of Leon Trotsky’s Collaboration with Germany and Japan ky’s Collaboration with Germany and Japan_ Grover Furr

Evidence of Leon Trotsky’s Collaboration with Germany and Japan
Grover Furr
Gen. Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord Leon Trotsky Gen. Hajime Sugiyama
“If an objective research project on the events of those years were to be done, free of
ideological dogmas, then a great deal could change in our attitude towards those years
and towards the personalities of that epoch. And so it would be a “bomb” that would
cause some problems. . . .”
– Col. Viktor Alksnis, 2000.
“. . . it is essential for historians to defend the foundation of their discipline: the
supremacy of evidence. If their texts are fictions, as in some sense they are, being literary
compositions, the raw material of these fictions is verifiable fact. Whether the Nazi gas
ovens existed or not can be established by evidence. Because it has been so established,
those who deny their existence are not writing history, whatever their narrative
– Eric Hobsbawm, 1994, p. 57.
“. . . we can demolish a myth only insofar as it rests on propositions which can be shown
to be mistaken.”
– ibid., p. 60.

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Copyright © 2009 by Grover Furr and Cultural Logic, ISSN 1097-3087
This essay is an inquiry into the evidence that Leon Trotsky may have
collaborated with German and/or Japanese officials, whether governmental or military,
during the 1930s.
Trotsky was charged with and convicted in absentia of such collaboration at the
three Moscow “Show,” or public, Trials of 1936, 1937 and 1938.1 Trotsky and his son
Leon Sedov2 were absent defendants and central figures in all these trials. Trotsky
himself proclaimed the charges false, but they were widely though not universally
credited until 1956. In February of that year Nikita Khrushchev delivered his famous
“Secret Speech” to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
(CPSU). Aside from much other matter that will not concern us here Khrushchev hinted,
without expressly affirming, that at least some of the defendants in these trials were
punished unjustly.
In succeeding years most of the defendants, along with thousands of others, were
“rehabilitated” and declared to have been innocent. Under Khrushchev’s successors
between 1965 and 1985 the wave of “rehabilitations” almost ceased. Subsequently,
during Mikhail Gorbachev’s tenure between 1985 and the end of the USSR in 1991, an
even larger flood of “rehabilitations” took place. Later in the present essay we will
discuss the essentially political, rather than juridical, nature of “rehabilitation.”
By the late 1980s almost all the defendants at all the Moscow Trials, plus the
defendants in the “Tukhachevsky Affair” of May-June 1937 and a great many others had
been declared to have been innocent of all charges. The chief exceptions were figures like
Genrikh Yagoda and Nikolai Ezhov, two heads of the NKVD3 who were certainly
responsible for massive repressions, and many of their subordinates.
Virtually alone among the non-NKVD oppositionists Trotsky and Sedov have
never been “rehabilitated.” But the dismissal of charges against their codefendants and
1 These trials are often called the “Show Trials.” Often too they are identified by the names of the one or
two most famous defendants. Thus the trial of August 19-24, 1936 is often called the “Zinoviev-Kamenev
Trial”; that of January 23-30, 1937, the Piatakov-Radek Trial”; that of March 2-13, 1938 the “Bukharin-
Rykov” Trial. The formal names for these trials are as follows: August 1936: “The Case of the Trotskyite-
Zinovievite Terrorist Centre”; January 1937: “The Case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Centre”; March 1938:
“The Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites.’”
2 Leon Sedov died on February 16 1938, shortly before the third Moscow Trial. He continued to figure
prominently in the confessions of some of the defendants, as did his father.
3 People’s Commissariat (= Ministry) of Internal Affairs, which included national security and political
police functions.

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the declarations that all the conspiracies were fabrications means that they too have been
declared innocent in fact though not “rehabilitated” legally.
Meanwhile there is a scholarly consensus that the Moscow Trials were
fabrications, the defendants all innocent victims of frame-ups, and all the conspiracies
inventions either of the NKVD or of Stalin himself. This consensus is a constituent part
of the model, or paradigm, of Soviet history that is dominant within Russia itself and
beyond its borders. However, no significant evidence that the trials were fabricated and
the confessions faked has ever been published, while the vast majority of investigative
materials relating to the trials is still top-secret in Russia, unavailable even to trusted
The Soviet Archives “Speak”
During the existence of the USSR and especially since Khrushchev’s accession to
power in 1953 few if any documents concerning the Moscow Trials and repressions of
the late 1930s were published in the USSR or made available in the archives to
researchers. Khrushchev and authorized historians and writers made a great many
assertions about this period of history but never gave anyone access to any evidence
about it.
Here is one example. At an historians’ conference in December 1962, after many
presentations by speakers promoting the official Khrushchev position about questions of
Soviet history the convener, Presidium member Piotr Pospelov, spoke the following
Students are asking whether Bukharin and the rest were spies for foreign
governments, and what you advise us to read. I can declare that it is sufficient to
study carefully the documents of the 22nd Congress of the CPSU to say that
neither Bukharin, nor Rykov, of course, were spies or terrorists. (Vsesoiuznoe
soveshchanie 298).
While Pospelov’s words are literally correct, they create a false impression. In the
1938 Trial Bukharin and Rykov were not convicted of carrying out espionage themselves,
but of being leaders in the “bloc of Rights and Trotskyites” that did engage in espionage

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activities. Likewise both Bukharin and Rykov were convicted of recruiting others to
engage in acts of violence against others – the best Russian translation here of the word
“terror,” which means something quite different in English – but not of engaging in it
themselves. So Pospelov’s words are correct in the sense most readers will understand –
that a “spy” is someone who himself spies, and a terrorist someone who himself commits
acts of violence.
But Pospelov is incorrect insofar as he wishes his audience to understand that
their confessions and the verdict against them were wrong. Furtherrmore, the question
was about “Bukharin and the rest” – presumably, all the other defendants in the 1938
Trial, whereas Pospelov restricted his answer to Bukharin and Rykov only.
In the passage that immediately follows the quotation above Pospelov clearly told
his audience that the only materials historians should read are the official speeches made
at the 22nd Congress:
“Why is it not possible to create normal conditions for working in the Central
Party archive? They do not give out materials concerning the activity of the
CPSU.” I have already given you the answer.
In effect Pospelov was saying: “We are not going to give you access to any primary
That situation continued until the USSR was dissolved. Thanks to documents
published since the end of the USSR we can now see that some of the speeches at the
22nd Party Congress contained blatant lies about the oppositionists of the 1930s – a fact
that fully explains Pospelov’s refusal to let anyone see the evidence.
As one example of the degree of falsification at the 22nd Party Congress and under
Khrushchev generally we cite Aleksandr Shelepin’s4 quotation from a letter to Stalin by
Komandarm 1st rank (= Full General, the rank just below Marshal) Iona E. Iakir, accused
of collaboration with Nazi Germany. In Shelepin’s quotation from Iakir’s letter to Stalin
of June 9, 1937, the text read by Shelepin is in boldface. The text in the original letter
(published in 1994) but omitted by Shelepin is in italics.
4 Head of the KGB (= State Security Committee), the successor to the security and political police
functions of the former NKDV.

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“A series of cynical resolutions by Stalin, Kaganovich, Molotov, Malenkov and
Voroshilov on the letters and declarations made by those imprisoned testifies to
the cruel treatment of people, of leading comrades, who found themselves under
investigation. For example when it was his turn Iakir – the former commander of
a military region – appealed to Stalin in a letter in which he swore his own
complete innocence.
Here is what he wrote:
“Dear, close comrade Stalin. I dare address you in this manner
because I have said everything, given everything up, and it seems
to me that I am a noble warrior, devoted to the Party, the
state and the people, as I was for many years. My whole
conscious life has been passed in selfless, honest work in the
sight of the Party and of its leaders – then the fall into the
nightmare, into the irreparable horror of betrayal. . . . The
investigation is completed. I have been formally accused of
treason to the state, I have admitted my guilt, I have fully
repented. I have unlimited faith in the justice and propriety of the
decision of the court and the state. . . . Now I am honest in my
every word, I will die with words of love for you, the Party,
and the country, with an unlimited faith in the victory of
As Shelepin read it the letter is from an honest, loyal man protesting his innocence. In
reality Iakir fully admitted his guilt.
(There is also the matter of the two ellipses. Some of Iakir’s text has been omitted
even in this published version. Since Iakir confessed to treason to the state it is possible
that he refers to collaboration with Germany, with Trotsky, or perhaps with other
intelligence services. This is suggested in a tantalizing quotation in the case of Uritsky
5 Shelepin’s remarks are from his speech to the 22nd Party Congress of the CPSU, Pravda, October 27,
1961, p. 10, cols. 3-4. XXII S”ezd Kommunisticheskoi Partii Sovetskogo Soiuza. 17-31 oktiabria 1961
goda. Stenograficheskii Otchet (Moscow, 1962). II, 403. The parts Shelepin omitted, here in bold text, are
in the fuller version in the “Spravka” of the Shvernik Report of 1963-4 first published in Voenno-
Istoricheskii Arkhiv 1 (1993), p. 194, now normally cited from the volume Reabilitatsia. Kak Eto Bylo
[“Rehabilitation. How It Happened”] vol. 2 (2003), p. 688.

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which we discuss briefly later in this essay. Iakir was one of the military figures involved
both with collaboration with Germany and with Trotsky.)
The falsification goes far beyond the speeches at the 22nd Congress. Archival
evidence now available permits us to see that Khrushchev, then later Gorbachev, and the
historians who wrote under their direction, lied consistently about the events of the Stalin
years to an extent that is scarcely imaginable.
A large number of documents from formerly secret Soviet archives have been
published since the end of the USSR. This is a very small proportion of what we know
exists. Especially as regards the oppositions of the 1930s, the Moscow Trials, the military
“purges,” and the massive repressions of 1937-38, the vast majority of the documents are
still top-secret, hidden way even from privileged, official researchers. Yet no system of
censorship is without its failures. Many documents have been published. Even this small
number enables us to see that the contours of Soviet history in the 1930s are very
different from the “official” version.
The Question of Trotsky And Collaboration With Germany and Japan
During the past decade a lot of documentary evidence has emerged from the
former Soviet archives to contradict the viewpoint, canonical since at least Khrushchev’s
time, that the defendants in the Moscow Trials and the “Tukhachevsky Affair” military
conspiracy were innocent victims forced to make false confessions. We have written a
number of works either published or in the process of publication pointing out that we
now have strong evidence that the confessions were not false and Moscow Trial
defendants appear to have been truthful in confessing to conspiracies against the Soviet
government. That work has led us to the present study.
Leon Trotsky and his son Leon Sedov were indicted but absent defendants at each
of the three Moscow Trials. If the charges against and the confessions of other defendants
were basically accurate, as our research has suggested so far, that has implications for the
charges voiced at those trials that Trotsky was in league with fascist Germany and
militarist Japan. Such considerations led us to form the hypothesis for the present study:

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that a thorough search of published documents from the former Soviet archives would
turn up more evidence of Trotsky’s collaboration with Germany and Japan other than that
given at the three Moscow Trials.
We came to adopt this hypothesis in much the same way Stephen Jay Gould
describes how his colleague Peter Ward decided to test the “Alvarez hypothesis,” the socalled
Cretaceous-Tertiary catastrophic extinction that contradicted the hitherto widely
accepted theory of the gradual dying out of so many life-forms about 60 million years
ago.6 In the course of reading many documents from the former Soviet archives for other
research projects we had identified several that appeared to provide additional evidence
that Trotsky had indeed collaborated with Germany.
It seemed to us that more such documentary evidence might well be found if we
actually set out to look for it. We also realized that, if no one ever set about looking for it,
it would probably never be found and we would never know.
The fact that we have formed this hypothesis does not at all mean that we have
predetermined the result of our research. Some hypothesis or “theory” is a necessary
precondition to any inquiry. Gould reminds us of Darwin’s perceptive statement made to
Henry Fawcett in 1861:
How odd it is that anyone should not see that all observation must be for or
against some view if it is to be of any service!7
The present study is a “test” in Gould’s sense: “a fine example of theory” – Gould means
“hypothesis” here – confirmed by data that no one ever thought of collecting before the
theory itself demanded such a test.
We have also been mindful of Gould’s caution that a test does not prejudice the
inquiry itself:
6 Stephen Jay Gould. Dinosaurs in the Haystack. Natural History 101 (March 1992): 2-13. Online at
<http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/gould_dinosaurs-haystack.html&gt; and <http://www.sjgarchive.org/
7 Letter 3257 – Darwin, C. R. to Fawcett, Henry, 18 Sept [1861]. At <http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/

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Please note the fundamental difference between demanding a test and
guaranteeing the result. The test might just as well have failed, thus dooming the
theory. Good theories invite a challenge but do not bias the outcome.
It is in principle impossible to prove a negative. If Trotsky did not collaborate
with the Germans and/or Japanese there would be no evidence of his having done so.
Unlike the situation with natural history, however, with human history there arises the
possibility for fabricated or faked evidence. In the present essay we devote a lot of
attention to this problem.
We set out to see whether we could find more evidence that Trotsky had
collaborated with the Germans and Japanese. At a certain point in our research, when we
had gathered a quantity of such evidence, we decided to study it and see what it
amounted to. The present article is the result.
There exists a good deal of evidence concerning clandestine involvement on
Trotsky’s part with oppositional activities within the USSR during the 1930s quite aside
from any collaboration with Germany and Japan. In addition to the testimony by
defendants at the Moscow Trials, we also have archival evidence in the form of
investigative interrogations to confirm such activity. To review all of it is far beyond the
scope of this or any article. The present work concentrates solely on evidence of
Trotsky’s collaboration with German or Japanese governmental or military officials. We
leave the other charges leveled against Trotsky unexamined. The charges of German
and/or Japanese collaboration were the most shocking. They have always been regarded
with far more skepticism.
For the most part we only cite and analyze direct evidence concerning Trotsky
and the Germans or Japanese. This is a very narrow approach that excludes a great deal
of other, corroborating evidence which tends to add credence to the direct evidence of
Trotsky’s guilt in collaborating with the fascists. For example, Nikolai Bukharin heard
details from Karl Radek about Trotsky’s negotiations and agreements with Germany and
Japan. Bukharin never directly communicated with Trotsky or Sedov about this. However,
there is no reason whatever to doubt that Radek did tell him about Trotsky’s collaboration.

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By corroborating Radek’s testimony on this point – Bukharin agrees that Radek did tell
him this, as Radek himself had testified, so Bukharin attests to Radek’s truthfulness here
– Bukharin also tends to indirectly corroborate what Radek said about Trotsky and what
Radek claimed to have gotten at first hand, from Trotsky himself. That is, Bukharin’s
testimony confirms that Radek was telling the truth in one instance, and that increases the
credibility of Radek’s testimony on other matters, including of his contacts with Trotsky
and what Trotsky communicated to him. But here we will examine only Radek’s, not
Bukharin’s testimony. We refer the interested reader to our previous study of Bukharin
(Furr and Bobrov 2007). In a few places we do cite some corroborating evidence, mainly
for the sake of providing context for the direct evidence.
Objectivity And Persuasion
Political prejudice still predominates in the study of Soviet history. Conclusions
that contradict the dominant paradigm are routinely dismissed as the result of bias or
incompetence. Conclusions that cast doubt upon accusations against Stalin or whose
implications tend to make him look either “good” or even less “evil” than the
predominant paradigm holds him to have been, are called “Stalinist.” Any objective study
of the evidence now available is bound to be called “Stalinist” simply because it reaches
conclusions that are politically unacceptable to those who have a strong political bias, be
it anticommunist generally or Trotskyist specifically.
The aim of the present study is to examine the allegations made in the USSR
during the 1930s that Leon Trotsky collaborated with Germany and Japan against the
USSR in the light of the evidence now available. This study is not a “prosecutor’s brief”
against Trotsky. It is not an attempt to prove Trotsky “guilty” of conspiring with the
Germans and Japanese. Nor is it an attempt to “defend” Trotsky against such charges.
We have tried hard to do what an investigator does in the case of a crime in which
he has no parti pris but only wishes to solve the crime. This is what historians who
investigate the more distant past, or the history of countries other than the Soviet Union,
do all the time.
We do wish to persuade the fair-minded, objective reader that we have carried out
a competent, honest investigation. Namely: That we have done the following:

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• collected all the evidence we could find supporting the contention that Trotsky
collaborated with the Germans and Japanese;
• collected all the “negative” evidence – any “alibi” Trotsky or his son and chief
political aide Leon Sedov may have had. We have done this chiefly by paying
serious attention to Trotsky’s testimony at the Dewey Commission hearings in
1937, where he himself laid out his defense;
• studied all this evidence carefully and honestly; and
• drawn our conclusions on the basis of that evidence.
We wish to persuade the objective reader that we have reached our conclusions on the
basis of evidence and its analysis and not on any other basis, such as political bias. We
are NOT out to arraign or “convict” Trotsky. We remain ready to be convinced that
Trotsky did not collaborate with Germany and Japan if, in the future, further evidence is
disclosed indicating that those charges are false.
The Role of Appropriate Skepticism
Throughout this essay we have tried to anticipate the objections of a skeptical
critic. This is no more than any careful, objective researcher should do, and exactly what
both the prosecution and the defense in any criminal investigation do with the evidence
and interpretation.
We have a lengthy discussion of evidence at the beginning of the essay. In the
body of the essay we follow each presentation of evidence with a critical examination. In
the final section subtitled “Conclusion” the reader will find a review and refutation of the
objections a sharp but fair-minded critic might have.
We are aware that there is a subset of readers for whom evidence is irrelevant, for
whom – to put it politely – this is not a matter of evidence but one of belief or loyalty.
We discuss the arguments normally raised from this quarter in the subsection titled
“Objectivity and Denial.” In any historical inquiry as in any criminal case “belief” and
“loyalty” are irrelevant to the truth or falsehood of the hypothesis. By definition, a belief
that is not rationally founded on evidence can’t be dispelled by a sound argument and

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However, those who cannot bring themselves to question their preconceived ideas
may nevertheless be provoked by those same prejudices to look especially critically at the
evidence and to find weaknesses in its interpretation that might escape other readers for
whom there is less at stake. This sometimes makes objections from such quarters worthy
of attention. We have tried hard both to anticipate and to deal with such objections in a
satisfactory manner.
Before proceeding to cite and study the new archival documents we need to
discuss the question of evidence itself. Whereas “documents” are material objects – in
our case, writing on paper – “evidence” is a relational concept. We are concerned with
investigating an allegation: that Trotsky conspired with German and/or Japanese officials.
We aim to gather and study the evidence that suggests Trotsky acted as alleged.
There is no such thing as absolute evidence. All evidence can be faked. Any
statement – a confession of guilt, a denial of guilt, a claim one has been tortured, a claim
one has not been coerced in any way – may be true or false, an attempt to state the truth
as the speaker (or writer) remembers it, or a deliberate lie. Documents can be forged and,
in the case of Soviet history, often have been. False documents have on occasion been
inserted into archives in order to be “discovered.” Or, it may be alleged that a given
document was found in an archive when it was not. Photographs can be faked.
Eyewitnesses can lie, and in any case eyewitnesses are so often in error that such
evidence is among the least reliable kind. In principle there is no such thing as a
“smoking gun” – evidence that is so clearly genuine and powerful that it cannot be denied.
The problems of identifying, gathering, studying, and drawing correct conclusions
from evidence are similar in criminal investigation and in historical research. This is
especially true when, as in our case, the research is to determine whether a kind of crime
took place in the past. But there are important differences, and it’s vital to be clear about
In a criminal trial the accused has certain rights. The trial has to be finite in length,
after which the accused is either convicted or acquitted for good. The defendant ought to
enjoy the presumption of innocence and the benefit of any reasonable doubt. The

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defendant is entitled to a qualified defender whose sole job it is to interpret all evidence
in a way so as to benefit his client. Meanwhile, the judge and even the prosecution are
supposed to be concerned not just about securing a conviction but also about justice.
Once they are reasonably convinced that the defendant is innocent their duty is to dismiss
the charges and discharge the accused even though they might be able to sway the jury to
convict. These practices are intended to prevent an innocent defendant from an unjust
verdict and penalty.
Historians are in quite a different situation. Dead people have no rights (or
anything else) that need to be defended. Therefore the historian does not have to be
concerned with any presumption of innocence, “reasonable doubt,” and so on. Unlike a
legal verdict no conclusion is final. The historical inquiry need never end. It can, and will,
be taken up again and again as new evidence is discovered or new interpretations of old
evidence are reached. This is in fact what we are doing in the present article. We are
investigating the question of whether Trotsky collaborated with German and Japanese
officials in the light of new evidence, while at the same time reconsidering evidence that
has long been available.
Identifying, locating, gathering, and even studying and interpreting evidence are
skills that can be taught to anyone. The most difficult and rarest skill in historical
research is the discipline of objectivity. In order to reach true conclusions – statements
that are more truthful than other possible statements about a given question – a researcher
must first question and subject to doubt any preconceived ideas she may hold about the
subject under investigation. It is one’s own preconceived ideas and prejudices that are
most likely to sway one into a subjective interpretation of the evidence. Therefore, the
researcher must take special steps to make certain this does not happen.
This can be done. The techniques are known, and widely practiced in the physical
and social sciences. They can be adapted to historical research as well. If such techniques
are not practiced the historian will inevitably be seriously swayed from an objective
understanding of the evidence by her own pre-existing preferences and biases. That will
all but guarantee that her conclusions are false even if she is in possession of the best
evidence and all the skills necessary to analyze it.

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Nowhere is a devotion to objectivity more essential or less in evidence than in the
field of Soviet history of the Stalin period. As it is impossible to discover the truth absent
a dedication to objectivity, this article strives to be objective. Its conclusions will
displease, even outrage, a good many persons who are dedicated not to objectivity and
the truth but to protecting the legend of Trotsky as an honorable revolutionary or to
defending the Cold War – anticommunist paradigm of Soviet history.
Of course we don’t claim to have found all the relevant evidence there is. It is
overwhelmingly likely that there is a great deal more such evidence, since the vast
majority of primary source documents dealing with the Oppositions of the 1930s are still
classified in Russia and the post-Russian states today and are inaccessible to any
researchers. But what we have now is a lot. In our judgment there is more than sufficient
evidence that Trotsky did indeed collaborate with Germany and Japan more or less as the
Soviet government accused him in the 1930s. Why Trotsky may have done so is a
question worthy of consideration. We have added some thoughts about this toward the
end of this essay.
Trotsky’s Telegram to the Soviet Leadership
The first document we want to present is one that illustrates both the promise and
the problems of interpreting documentary evidence.
June 1937 was a time of tremendous crisis for the Soviet leadership. In April
Genrikh Yagoda, Commissar (head) of the NKVD until the previous September, and
Avel’ Enukidze, until recently both a Central Committee member and high-ranking
member of the Soviet government, had begun to confess about their important roles in
plans for a coup d’état against the government. The month of May had begun with an
internal revolt against the Spanish Republican government in which anarchists and
Trotskyists participated. The Soviet leadership knew this revolt had involved some kind
of collaboration between pro-Trotsky forces there and both Francoist and German – Nazi
– intelligence. By the beginning of June eight military officers of the highest ranks
including Mikhail Tukachevsky, one of only five Marshals of the Red Army, had been
arrested and were making confessions of conspiracy with Trotsky and Trotskyists, the

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Rights led by Bukharin, Yagoda and Rykov, and – most ominous of all – with Nazi
Germany and Japan.
On June 2 Nikolai Bukharin suddenly reversed himself and confessed to having
been one of the leaders of this same conspiracy (Furr & Bobrov). That same day Lev M.
Karakhan, a leading Soviet diplomat who at one time had been closely linked to Trotsky,
also confessed.8 Marshal Tukhachevsky and the other military leaders evidently
continued to make further confessions right up until June 9. On June 11 came the trial,
where they confessed once again, and then their execution. Several high-ranking
Bolsheviks and Central Committee members were associated with them.
Before and during the Central Committee Plenum which took place from June 23
to 29 twenty-four of its members and fourteen candidate members were expelled for
conspiracy, espionage, and treasonable activities. In February and March Bukharin,
Rykov and Yagoda had been likewise expelled. Never before had there had been such
wholesale expulsions from the Party’s leading body.
Unquestionably, there was a great deal else that has never been made public. But
these events, particularly the military conspiracy, appeared to constitute the gravest threat
to the security – indeed, the continued existence – of the Soviet Union since the darkest
days of the Civil War.
Trotsky and his son Leon Sedov had been convicted in absentia at the first
Moscow Trial in August 1936.9 At the second Moscow Trial of January 1937 Karl Radek
had explicitly identified Leon Trotsky as the leader of an important anti-Soviet
conspiracy. He had specifically mentioned Spain as a place where Trotsky’s adherents
were dangerous and called on them to turn away from Trotsky. When the “May Days”
revolt in Barcelona broke out on May 3 Radek’s warning seemed prescient. For the
communists, but also for many non-communists who supported the Spanish Republic,
this rebellion in the rear of the Republic appeared to be the same kind of thing the Rights,
Trotskyists and military figures were allegedly plotting for the USSR.
8 Lubianka. Stalin i Glavnoe Upravlenie Gosbezopasnosti NKVD. 1937-1938 (M.: “Materik,” 2004), No.
102, p. 225. Online at <http://www.alexanderyakovlev.org/fond/issues-doc/62056/61084&gt;.
9 They were convicted of “having directly prepared and personally directed the organization in the
U.S.S.R. of terroristic acts against the leaders of the C.P.S.U. and the Soviet State.” Report of Court
Proceedings. The Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center. Moscow: People’s Commissariat of
Justice of the U.S.S.R., 1936, p. 180.

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On the eve of the June C.C. Plenum Trotsky chose to send a telegram from his
Mexican exile not to Stalin or the Politburo but to the Central Executive Committee, the
highest organ of the Soviet government. In it he directly challenged its members to reject
Stalin’s leadership and turn towards himself.
A postscript to the original publication of this telegram reads as follows:
In June 1937 in Moscow, at the address of the Central Executive Committee
(CEC) which was then formally the highest organ of state power in the USSR a
telegram arrived from L.D. Trotsky in Mexico: [text of telegram]. Of course this
telegram ended up not in the CEC but in the NKVD, whence it was directed to
Stalin as a so-called “special communication.” He wrote on it the following
remark: “Ugly spy.11 Brazen spy of Hitler.” Stalin not only signed his name
under his “sentence,” but gave it to V. Molotov, K. Voroshilov, A. Mikoian, and
A. Zhdanov to sign.12
The late Trotskyist author Vadim Rogovin paraphrased this same article in a footnote:
Trotsky’s telegram ended up not in the CEC but in the NKVD where it was
translated from the English (the only way the Mexican telegraph could accept it
for sending) and sent to Stalin as a so-called “special communication.” Stalin
10 We have used the original English text of the telegram from a facsimile of the telegram itself in the
Volkogonov Archive, Library of Congress, Washington DC. At this time international telegrams were
normally sent in English; Trotsky sent it from Mexico. The comments of Stalin and his associates are not
on the telegram itself but on the Russian translation provided to them along with it. The telegram was
evidently first published in Novoye Vremia ! 50 (1994) “. 37. We have put this facsimile and the Russian
translation with the remarks of Stalin and his associates on the internet at <http://chss.montclair.edu/
11 Shpionskaia rozha, literally “spy-face”. Rogovin translates it as “mug of a spy.”
12 L.B., “Will there be no more ‘Secrets of the Kremlin’?” Novoe Vremia No. 50, 1994, 37.

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read the telegram and wrote on it a remark that bears witness to the fact that he
had clearly lost his self-control: “Mug of a spy. Brazen spy of Hitler!” His
signature beneath these words was completed with the signatures of Molotov,
Voroshilov, Mikoian and Zhdanov, which expressed their agreement with
Stalin’s evaluation.13
The anonymous author of the article in Novoe Vremia (see note 10 above) dismissed
Trotsky’s note as a fantasy on Trotsky’s part.
How should we understand Trotsky’s proposal? Could he have possibly supposed
that they would accept his help? Or that in 1937 a turn towards “Soviet
democracy” was possible? One can’t call this irony; it’s more like an illusion.
(As a number of scholars have shown, a “turn towards Soviet democracy” was indeed a
point of struggle in 1937).14
In his critical 1997 study of Trotsky Evgenii Piskun wrote:
This strange document bears witness to the fact that the leader of the Fourth
International hoped that the USSR was going to undergo immense changes in the
near future and that he would return to power again.
But he was wrong this time too. When the June Plenum of the CC had
ended the Party leadership had not changed.15
Rogovin agreed that Trotsky must have believed he had a good chance of coming
to power:
Trotsky was not a person given to taking senseless or impulsive steps. Despite
the fact that the motives of his appeal remain unclear even today, it is natural to
13 Vadim Rogovin. 1937. Stalin’s Year of Terror. Translated by Frederick S. Choate. Oak Park MI:
Mehring Books, 1998, p. 487. Chapter 50: The July Plenum of the Central Committee.
14 For the major sources and a summary of them in English see Grover Furr, “Stalin and the Struggle for
Democratic Reform”, Parts One and Two, Cultural Logic 2005. At <http://clogic.eserver.org/2005/
15 Evgenii E. Piskun. Termador v SSSR. Idei L.D. Trotskogo i sovetskaia deistvitel’nost’ 1920-1980.
Riazan’: Russkoe slovo, 1997, 73.

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assume that Trotsky possessed information which showed that the true devotion
to Stalin of the majority of Party and Soviet leaders was in inverse proportion to
their official exclamations of this devotion, and that Stalin’s position was
extremely fragile and unstable. This might have been the source of Trotsky’s
hopes that, under conditions of the Great Terror which was tearing one member
after another from the Party ranks, a consolidation of the leading figures in the
country would be possible which would be aimed at overthrowing Stalin and his
clique. (Rogovin 487)
Rogovin accepted unquestioningly the orthodox Trotskyist position that Trotsky was not
involved in conspiracies with the Germans. This presented him a problem: How to
explain Stalin’s handwritten comment on Trotsky’s telegram? Even Rogovin had to
admit that, since the note was addressed only to his closest, most trusted associates, it
appeared to prove that Stalin and the rest of them did genuinely believe Trotsky was
guilty of conspiring with the Germans. All Rogovin could offer was the following
formulation, which takes us to the heart of our matter:
The document, as well as many other documents of the Politburo, and even the
personal correspondence of its members, show that Stalin and his “closest
comrades-in-arms” expressed themselves in a conventional code which was
designed to give the impression that they believed in the amalgams they were
creating. Otherwise Stalin, who hardly believed in the existence of contacts
between Trotsky and Hitler, would not have written such words in a document
intended only for his most immediate circle. (Rogovin, note to p. 487; emphasis
We now possess additional evidence that Stalin did indeed believe that Trotsky
was plotting with the Germans. Rogovin offers no evidence to the contrary. In addition
we now also have evidence that Trotsky, as well as many others, actually were conspiring
with Germany and Japan. The evidence concerning Trotsky is the subject of this article.

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Trotsky’s telegram of June 18, 193716 will serve as an introduction both to the new
evidence that has come to light since the end of the USSR and to the problems of and
barriers to understanding what it means.
To our knowledge no one has bothered to put all this evidence together or to reexamine
in light of this new evidence the question of Leon Trotsky’s ties to Japan and
Germany, ties alleged by defendants at the Moscow Trials and by the Soviet government.
Why is this? We think the two very different comments by Piskun and Rogovin suggest
an answer. Rather than being the subject of careful study with an eye to questioning
previous knowledge, the new evidence is being marshaled in defense of old historical
Piskun’s paradigm – that Trotsky was probably preparing for some kind of coup
against the Soviet leadership – has only rarely been heard for many years. Nevertheless,
Piskun reads Trotsky’s telegram through the “lenses” of that paradigm, for the text of the
telegram itself suggests nothing about any expectation of imminent change and return to
power. The most that could be said is that the text is perhaps compatible with such an
expectation. But we could never deduce such an expectation from the text alone. A sober
reading of Trotsky’s telegram might be that it is evidence that Trotsky was hoping for a
return to power in the USSR but nothing more.
Rogovin’s interpretation is even more strained. According to Rogovin Stalin
could not possibly have believed Trotsky was a German spy even though he wrote this on
the telegram and only his closest associates would see it. Rogovin’s paradigm demands
that Stalin had invented the charge that Trotsky was collaborating with the Germans (and
Japanese). If that paradigm is to be preserved, then Stalin must be faking here too. No
objective reading of the text of Trotsky’s telegram and Stalin’s remarks upon it would
reach Rogovin’s conclusions. Furthermore, Rogovin has no evidence to support his
position that Stalin invented the charges against Trotsky. He simply assumes this to be
16 The original telegram seems to be dated June 18, as that date, “18 JUN 1937,” is printed or stamped at
the top of the last page. That appears to be the date the telegram was sent.. «06.20 #$%& 1937 ‘.» is written
in small print at the top of the first page of the telegram. That may be the date it was received and
translated. Stalin’s note, and the signatures of Molotov, Voroshilov, Mikoian, and Zhdanov appear on the
translation of the telegram, to which the telegram itself is appended in the archive. Though the date on this
translation, at the far upper left-hand corner, is not legible, it is probably June 20.

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Piskun and Rogovin represent antithetical poles in interpreting both this document
itself and the question of Trotsky’s relationship, or lack thereof, with Germany and Japan.
But charges of collaborating with the intelligence services of the major Axis powers were
alleged not just against Trotsky but also against many of the defendants at the second and
third public Moscow trials of January 1937 and March 1937. Elsewhere we have set forth
a small part of the evidence that Oppositionists did, in fact, have some kind of clandestine
political relationship, aimed at the USSR, with Germany and Japan.17
There is a great deal of such evidence concerning other Oppositionists. The
present work concentrates on evidence concerning Trotsky specifically. We must look for
evidence that such a relationship existed not because we are convinced a priori that one
must have existed but because it is in principle impossible to find evidence of a negative
– e.g. that such a relationship did not exist. If we find no evidence that the Oppositionists
had such a relationship, then the only responsible conclusion would be that they did not
have any – again, barring further evidence to the contrary that may turn up in the future.
This is normal historical procedure in any investigation: only positive evidence “counts.”
This does not mean, however, that any and all “positive evidence” points to one
conclusion only, or is sufficient to sustain any single conclusion.
The present study does conclude that the evidence now at our disposal strongly
supports the existence of collaboration between Trotsky and the Germans and Japanese.
This creates a peculiar problem for us as historians since an article based upon the
evidence – the present article – directly challenges the prevailing consensus on the
Moscow Trials and specifically on Trotsky.
What’s At Stake?
This prevailing consensus is a constituent part of the model, or paradigm, of
Soviet history that is dominant within Russia itself and beyond its borders.
Trotsky and his son Sedov were accused of involvement with the German
Gestapo at the 1936 Moscow Trial and of involvement with the Germans and Japanese at
17 Grover Furr and Vladimir L. Bobrov, “Nikolai Bukharin’s First Statement of Confession in the
Lubianka.” Cultural Logic 2007. At <http://clogic.eserver.org/2007/Furr_Bobrov.pdf&gt;. This is the English
translation of an article and text first published in Russian in the St. Petersburg journal Klio No. 36 (March

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both the 1937 and 1938 Moscow Trials. Numerous witnesses at each of these trials
testified that they had direct knowledge of Trotsky’s (Sedov’s) collaboration. These
charges constituted a central feature of the trials. We will examine that testimony in this
The allegation that these charges are false likewise constitutes a central feature of
the dominant paradigm of Soviet history during the Stalin period. Confirmation of the
guilt of Nikolai Bukharin in the crimes to which he confessed guilt has already seriously
undermined what we may briefly term the “anti-Stalin” paradigm of Soviet history.
Confirmation of Trotsky’s involvement with the Germans and Japanese would
corroborate the evidence we already have that the charges were true to which the
Moscow trials defendants confessed themselves guilty.
* * * * *
On the evidence we have Trotsky did in fact collaborate with the Germans and
Japanese. This is consistent with the charges made against Trotsky and his son at the
Moscow trials.
It is not for us to hazard a guess as to what may be the implications of this fact for
Trotskyism itself. Insofar as Trotskyism is a set of political principles that are detachable
from Trotsky the politician it may have few implications. Its implications may be more
far-reaching for those varieties of Trotskyism that base themselves on a cult of respect for
Trotsky the man and are unable to separate him from his ideas.
Trotskyism has already survived the discovery in the early 1980s that Trotsky lied
to the Dewey Commission. As the recent article by Sven-Eric Holmström demonstrates
Trotsky’s lies about the “Hotel Bristol” affair, both to the Dewey Commission and in his
journal Bulletin of the Opposition, are more far-reaching than had previously been proven.
It will be some time before we can discern what if any influence Holmström’s research
will have on Trotsky’s followers. In any case it is for them, not for us, to decide what
those implications may be.

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What Do You Mean “Evidence”?
This statement focuses our attention on a central question: What kind of evidence
would we accept? Unless objective criteria are established and then rigorously adhered
to, the researcher will almost certainly “find” what his historical preconceptions, his
historical paradigm, tells him to look for. In doing so he will either ignore or misconstrue
anything that does not fit his preconceived ideas. What a researcher agrees to accept as
evidence, and to exclude as evidence, is too often a reflection of his historical paradigm.
The problem of “acceptable evidence” is simply magnified in the case of a charge of
secret conspiracy.
There are serious problems with any kind of evidence.
• Confessions in or out of court: They might be fabricated, for any of a number
of motives, including currying favor with the prosecution or state; as evidence
that one has “repented”; to shift the blame onto someone else; as a result of
torture or the threat of torture, threats against one’s family, and so on.
• Incrimination by associates: These are open to the same kinds of tampering as
are confessions of the accused.
• Documentary evidence: Documents can be forged. Any state has the technical
means to fabricate documents that will convince anyone except, possibly, an
independent scientific expert who is allowed to use destructive methods of
analysis to test the chemical composition of the ink, molecular analysis of
paper, etc., in order to determine whether the document is genuine. As this is
virtually never permitted in the case of archival documents deemed important,
skilful forgery is a powerful tool.
Documentary evidence can also be destroyed. Russian researchers have told us that
Khrushchev had a great many papers – perhaps amounting to thousands of pages –
removed from archives during his leadership in the USSR.18 Some documents have also
been removed from the “closed” Trotsky Archive at Harvard University.19 No archive is,
or can be, completely secure from such manipulation.
18 E.g. M.Yunge, R. Binner. Kak terror stal “Bol’shim.” Sekretnyi prikaz No.00447 i tekhnologiia ego
ispolneniia. Moscow: AIRO-XX, 2003, 16.
19 This will be discussed in more detail below.

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Moreover, how likely is it that agreements of espionage and conspiracy would
have been written down in the first place? Anything written down at some point would
surely have been hidden securely or, more likely, destroyed as soon as read. As long as
such written evidence remained it would pose a terrible threat to any conspirator. We can
be certain of the existence of one such conspiracy in Soviet history – that among
members of the Presidium to get rid of Lavrentii Beria – because it succeeded on June 26,
1953. Yet no prior written record of that conspiracy has ever come to light, and no single,
reliable account of it exists even now.
These are just examples. In general, there is no kind of evidence that cannot be
forged or faked. Neither is there any kind of evidence that can, by itself, provide
conclusive proof of any act.
In this essay I assume that the larger the number of individual items of evidence
that are all consistent with a single interpretation the less is the chance that they, and that
interpretation, are the result of some kind of “orchestration” or fabrication according to a
preconceived plan. This should be especially so in the case of documents which were
never intended to be public at all. When combined with evidence from documents that
were never directly related to any prosecution, the likelihood of fabrication becomes very
small indeed. This is similar to what is called “circumstantial evidence” in the legal
system. When there is enough of it, circumstantial evidence is the most powerful
evidence there is.20
Such is the case, I would argue, with Trotsky’s telegram of June 18 1937. As
Rogovin recognized, the most significant thing about this telegram is what Stalin wrote
upon it. But Rogovin’s own conclusion lacks any convincing rationale. No one who was
not already convinced that Trotsky was innocent of collaboration with Germany would
ever suspect that Stalin did not believe the truth of what he wrote to an audience of his
closest associates, remarks never intended to go any further. “Anything is possible”
perhaps – but what is likely? Rogovin would have us believe that Stalin, Molotov,
Mikoian and Zhdanov were “pretending” among themselves that Trotsky was working
20 “Circumstantial evidence can be, and often is much more powerful than direct evidence.” – Robert
Precht, a defense attorney in the World Trade Center bombing and director of the Office of Public Service
at the University of Michigan Law School, quoted at <http://www.pub.umich.edu/daily/1997/jun/06-04-

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with the Germans even while knowing perfectly well that it was they themselves who had
made this story up. No evidence supports such a conclusion.
If the words on this telegram were the only evidence we had that led us to suspect
the accusations against Trotsky were not fabricated – not by Stalin or to his knowledge, at
least – they would be highly significant. Stalin saw all investigative materials, including
huge quantities of evidence that is either still classified in Russia today or has been
destroyed. However, there is much more evidence that points in this same direction.
“Fabrication” Of Confessions
In discussions such as these, where any questioning of the dominant paradigm is
viewed with distrust and even horror, it is difficult to distinguish the presentation of the
evidence from the act of responding to the anticipated objections to this evidence coming
from that same paradigm. So below we will offer a summary rebuttal to paradigmatic
objections to some of the evidence we present. The details will come later.
The “canonical view” or “dominant paradigm” of Soviet history is that all
defendants in the Moscow Trials were innocent of the charges to which they confessed.
But there is no “canonical view” about how the faking of those confessions might have
been accomplished.
The transcripts of the three Moscow Trials have been available since the 1930s.
According to the dominant paradigm of Soviet history these transcripts are dishonest and
the confessions of the defendants recorded in them are fabrications.
But the term “fabrication” does not have any fixed meaning. No one has cited any
evidence whatsoever that the confessions were not truthful, so no one is in a position to
say anything definite. The charges against the defendants are simply declared to be
“absurd” and the conclusion is drawn that the defendants must have been induced to lie
by some means. “Fabrication” is a word that is broad enough in its meaning to cover any
kind of falsification.
The allegation that the confessions were false, like any other assertion of fact, can
and must be tested in the light of all the other available evidence. Of course this is done
as a matter of course in criminal cases.

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Historians are under a similar obligation to verify the veracity of confessions as
well as of other evidence. We undertake to discharge this responsibility in the present
essay. At the outset we were prepared to find evidence that the confessions of the
defendants and/or the other evidence against them is false. In fact, the opposite appears to
be the case. The evidence now available strongly tends not to disprove but to confirm the
truth of the confessions and other evidence we cite here.
The Issue of Torture
In this essay we devote serious attention to the hypothesis that the defendants in
the Moscow Trials and others who directly or indirectly implicate Trotsky in
collaboration with Germany or Japan may have been induced to make false accusations
by one means or another. Most troubling is the allegation of real or threatened torture.
Specifically, we discuss the “torture” hypothesis in connection with Zinoviev, Ezhov,
Uritsky, and Iakovlev (see below). We examine Col. Alksnis’ belief that the
Tukhachevsky trial defendants were not tortured. At the end of the essay we devote yet
another section of the essay to the subject of torture. We have a great deal of evidence
that the defendants in the Moscow Trials were not tortured or otherwise threatened into
making false confessions.
All interpretations of the Trial testimony, like all interpretations of any evidence,
are hypotheses. “Torture” is one hypothesis. Like any hypothesis, evidence is required
before it becomes a reasonable theory of explanation. In this case there is no such
We have adduced the appeals to the Soviet Supreme Court by ten Moscow Trials
defendants. All of them insist that they are guilty. These documents were never intended
to be made public.
Radek stated up front in the 2nd Moscow Trial (January 1937) that it was not the
investigators that tormented him, but he who tormented his investigators. Bukharin said
that “incriminating evidence” (uliki) was what induced him to begin confessing after
three months of silence. Elsewhere we have cited Steven Cohen’s conclusion that
Bukharin was not tortured. We see no reason to repeat Cohen’s reasoning here. Cohen is

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the world’s expert on Bukharin and continues to insist that he was entirely innocent while
admitting that there is no evidence to support that conclusion.
In early 2006 a confession by Mikhail Frinovsky, second-in-command to Nikolai
Ezhov at the NKVD, was published.21 In it Frinovsky admitted that Ezhov and his coconspirators,
himself included, had tortured and fabricated false charges against a great
many people. But Frinovsky explicitly said that this was not done in the case of the
March 1938 Trial of the “Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites,” the “Bukharin” trial.
In this same confession Frinovsky also explicitly states that Bukharin et al. were
guilty, and that moreover he and Ezhov were part of this Rightist conspiracy too.
Furthermore he states that Bukharin knew Ezhov was involved in this conspiracy and
kept quiet about it at the trial, taking this secret to his death.
Frinovsky said:
The preparation of the trial of Rykov, Bukharin, Krestinsky, Yagoda and others.
An active participant in investigations generally, Ezhov kept himself aloof from
the preparation of this trial. Before the trial took place the face-to-face
confrontations of the suspects, interrogations, and refining, in which Ezhov did
not participate. He spoke for a long time with Yagoda, and that talk concerned, in
the main, of assuring Yagoda that he would not be shot.
Ezhov had conversations several times with Bukharin and Rykov and
also in order to calm them assured them that under no circumstances would they
be shot. Ezhov had one conversation with Bulanov, and began this conversation
in the presence of the investigator and myself, and finished the conversation one
on one, having asked us to leave.
At that moment Bulanov had begun talking about the poisoning of Ezhov.
What the conversation was about Ezhov did not say. When he asked us to enter
again he said: “Behave yourself well at the trial – I will ask that you not be shot.”
After the trial Ezhov always expressed regret about Bulanov. At the time of the
executions Ezhov suggested shooting Bulanov first and he himself did not enter
21 “Spetssoobshchenie L.P. Berii I.V. Stalinu s Prilozheniem Zaiavleniia M.P. Frinovskogo. 13 aprelia 1939
g. In Lubianka. Stalin i NKVD-NKGB-GUKR “Smersh” 1939 – mart 1946. Eds. V.N. Khaustov, V.P.
Naumov, N.S. Plotnika. Moscow: “Materik,” 2006. No. 33, pp. 33-50. I have put the original text online at
<http://chss.montclair.edu/english/furr/research/frinovskyru.html&gt; and an English translation (mine) at

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the building where the shootings took place. Here Ezhov unquestionably was
ruled by the necessity of covering up his own ties with the arrested leaders of the
Right who were going into the public trial. [Emphasis added – GF]
In no way did Frinovsky deny torturing and fabricating false confessions against
innocent people. Rather, he contrasted the way Ezhov handled the “Bukharin” trial
defendants with the way he dealt with a great many innocent victims, whom he had
tortured by his “bone-breakers” so that they would sign confessions drafted by Ezhov’s
NKVD men. Ezhov did not use torture against them.
To sum up: Frinovsky confessed to widespread torture, but (a) specifically
exempted the defendants in the 1938 Trial; and (b) specifically stated that Bukharin was,
in fact, guilty. Frinovsky’s confirmation of the guilt of Bukharin and others corroborates
all the other evidence we have concerning Bukharin.
Before its publication in 2006 Frinovsky’s confession had been fraudulently
quoted by historians and by the Soviet Supreme Court itself, suitably expurgated so that it
seemed to prove the innocence, not the guilt, of the 1938 Trial defendants. This was done
in the same manner as Shelepin’s dishonest quotation of Iakir’s letter, which we briefly
examined above. (An article of ours on this subject is pending in Russia.)
No hypothesis is worth anything unless it is supported by evidence. There is no
evidence to support the “torture” hypothesis, and a great deal of evidence against it.
Therefore the “torture” hypothesis must fall.
Other Possible Hypotheses to Account for Bukharin’s Confession
Bukharin’s confessions are important for us both because they illustrate the issues
involved in allegations of torture and because Bukharin explicitly implicates Trotsky.
We’ll discuss his testimony about Trotsky later in the present essay. Here we are
concerned with the “torture” question.
In any trial there are a number of hypotheses aside from the “torture” hypothesis
that may account for a false confession of guilt by a defendant:
• The defendant’s family is threatened.
• The defendant wishes to “punish himself” to atone for past misdeeds.

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• The “Rubashov” explanation made famous in Arthur Koestler’s book
Darkness At Noon – that “the Party demands it,” the Party is history’s
instrument and so history demands it, and so on.
• The defendant has been promised favored treatment by the Prosecution in
return for falsely accusing others.
In Bukharin’s case there is no evidence to support any of these hypotheses.
The main reason defendants confess to crimes of which they are guilty is their
belief that the prosecution has sufficient evidence to convict them of the crime(s) in
question, rendering further denial useless, indeed counterproductive. A defendant decides
to cooperate with the prosecution in hopes of more lenient treatment by the court – of
“getting the best deal he can.” It now seems beyond doubt that this was the reason for
Bukharin’s confession of guilt. At the second Moscow Trial of January 1937 four
defendants – Radek, Sokol’nikov, Arnol’d and Stroilov – who appeared to have
cooperated fully with the prosecution were sentenced to prison instead of execution. Two
of these, Grigory Sokol’nikov and Karl Radek, were the principal defendants. This was a
strong incentive for any defendant for whom further denial seemed hopeless to cooperate.
Frinovsky’s statement now corroborates Bukharin’s own testimony at trial. Bukharin
himself said that “the evidence” was the primary factor motivating his confessions, which
began with his first one on June 2, 1937. Frinovsky testified that Ezhov promised
Bukharin and others that they would not be shot as long as they did not disclose Ezhov’s
own involvement with the conspiracy. Frinovsky does not claim that he actually heard
Ezhov say this. But he does state that Ezhov did not organize any false confessions in this
trial. Frinovsky himself stated that he knew that Bukharin was guilty. And indeed
Bukharin did not mention at his trial that Ezhov was a co-conspirator.
Frinovsky also confirms Bukharin’s guilt as a conspirator known to Ezhov. This
corroborates a great deal of other evidence we now possess, including some confessions
of Yagoda published for the first time in 1997.
Towards the end of this essay we return to the matter of torture in a different way:
to consider the allegations of torture and how they have functioned in the historiography
and mythology of Trotsky’s role, the Moscow Trials, and the history of the Stalin period

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Why Did None of Trotsky’s Supporters At The Moscow Trials Defend Trotsky?
None of Trotsky’s longtime and devoted supporters among the Moscow Trial
defendants defended Trotsky or their actions in supporting him. They not only pled guilty
to various crimes, including working with Trotsky; they recanted their former longtime
allegiance to him and condemned him in harsh terms. It may be asked: how is this to be
explained other than by the fabrication of false testimony through torture or some other
In a criminal case we should not think it strange if co-conspirators “fall out” and
denounce one another, as the longtime Troskyists did during their testimony at the public
Moscow trials. Moreover, we should also consider the trial from the viewpoint of the
prosecution, the Stalin government. What was the purpose of having these public, or
“Show,” trials in the first place?
Like any criminal prosecution, of course, the trial was to deter further criminal (in
this case, treasonous) activity and encourage those who suspected such activity to report
it to authorities. But larger motives were doubtless at play as well.
The Soviets were terribly afraid that, if the USSR were seen to have been
weakened by serious conspiracies at the top, some combination of enemy states would
attack them. They also feared that the Western powers, led by France and the U.K.,
would not agree to “collective security,” mutual defense treaties with the USSR against
Nazi Germany. Given the political conjuncture of the mid-1930s it seems safe to assume
that the trials were also aimed to demonstrate to the world that these high-level
conspiracies had been nipped in the bud, that the Soviet government was still in charge,
and that, therefore, Soviet security was not adversely affected.
That these fears were well founded is suggested by the facts that (a) Japan did
indeed attack the USSR – twice, in 1938 and a larger assault in 1939; and (b) the Allies
did refuse to make any mutual defense treaties with the USSR. Rather, they continued to
push Hitler to attack the USSR. The late Alvin D. Coox, the leading expert on Soviet-
Japanese relations during this time, concluded that the Japanese attack on the USSR at
Lake Khasan in 1938 was directly motivated by the testimony of General Genrikh

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Liushkov, who defected to Japan in July 1938 and reported that the Red Army was
seriously weakened.22
If we assume that this was the purpose of the “Show Trials” it stands to reason
that the only defendants who would appear in them would be those who would attack
Trotsky and say they were wrong, the USSR was right, and so on.
Why Is There No German or Japanese Evidence Of Trotsky’s Collaboration?
“Most conspiracy theorists don’t understand this. But if there really were a C.I.A.
plot, no documents would exist.” (Shane 2009)23
Instructions on concrete organization questions regarding preparation for
underground conditions must be given only verbally. . . . At the very least it
should have been specified that these names and addreses be given strictly
orally. . . .24
In the course of this essay we will show that there is a large amount of mutuallycorroborative
evidence of Trotsky’s German-Japanese collaboration from the Soviet side.
In addition we have important evidence from German and Japanese sources of
collaboration by members of the Soviet opposition including some who themselves
claimed to have been working with Trotsky.
But no evidence of German or Japanese collaboration with Trotsky has been
discovered outside the former USSR. There are a number of possible explanations:
• Trotsky never collaborated with the Germans or Japanese. All the Soviet
evidence is fabricated.
If Trotsky did collaborate the following possibilities exist:
• Many of these archives were destroyed during the war.
22 Coox 1, 92; Coox 2, 145.
23 Gerald Posner, “author of an anti-conspiracy account of the Kennedy assassination, on efforts to obtain
C.I.A. documents relating to the assassin.”
24 O. Weber. “How Not to Prepare For Underground Conditions of Revolutionary Work.” The Communist
International. July 1, 1932, 417.

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• Nobody has looked – at least, we are not aware anybody has done so and
particularly in the unpublished papers of the German generals allegedly
• These archives too might have been “purged.”
• There never was an archival evidence of this collaboration. In fact,
conspiratorial information of this kind is typically not written down at all.
We know that the Soviet archives have been purged by Khrushchev, and perhaps by
others. Even though we have had very limited experience working with other archives,
we know of two cases in which archival materials have “disappeared.” In addition the
vast majority of Soviet archives is not open to researchers. Given the evidence that we
have discovered in the relatively few archival documents that have been published to date
it seems likely that further evidence implicating Trotsky may be contained in archives
that are still classified. Later in this essay we briefly discuss the “purging” of the Trotsky
archive at Harvard of incriminating materials.
In countries still extant it is normal to keep intelligence archives secret
indefinitely. This is certainly the case in the USA. We suggest it is logical to suspect the
same thing in the case of Germany and Japan.
There is a great deal of evidence that the military commanders led by Marshal
Mikhail Tukhachevsky did indeed collaborate with the German General Staff. But we
have only indirect confirmation of this from German Archives, and a somewhat more
direct confirmation in one document from the Czech Archives.
In discussing their espionage for Germany several Soviet defendants said they had
dealt directly with German General Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord. Rumor, at least, of
this collaboration evidently survived in Hammerstein’s family. Although to our
knowledge no written record of that collaboration exists, it appears that no one has
actually looked for such records.25 Nor has anyone ever undertaken to survey the
surviving papers of the German generals allegedly involved.
But absence of evidence is only “evidence of absence” when evidence should
indeed be present. We believe that the single most likely reason is simply that no one
25 Hans Magnus Enzensberger. Hammerstein oder der Eigensinn. Eine deutsche Geschichte. Berlin:
Suhrkamp, 2008, pp. 234; 213-215.

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should expect a conspiracy like this to be documented anywhere, ever, much less “in
archives.” The demands of secrecy and security require that such information be
exchanged only by word of mouth.
The lack of archival or in fact of any documentary evidence of the successful
conspiracy against Lavrentii Beria has already been cited. This conspiracy must have
involved at least half a dozen men. Accounts of it by its participants do not agree in
details except in this: it was all planned and carried out through oral communication.
There is no mention of any written communication. What does exist in the archives is the
outline of a speech to be delivered by Malenkov at the Presidium meeting of June 26
1953. It was at this meeting, we know, that Beria was either arrested or possibly even
killed. Malenkov was certainly a party to whatever occurred. Yet Malenkov’s archive
contains only an outline of his speech, according to which Beria was to be removed as
head of the MVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs, including the internal police force) and
made Minister of the Petroleum Industry.26
Alleged Lack Of Non-Soviet Evidence
As Sven-Eric Holmström discusses and as we too shall discuss more fully below,
the Trotsky archives at Harvard have been purged of evidence that Trotsky supporters
with privileged access to this otherwise-closed archive found embarrassing to Trotsky’s
reputation. The materials purged included, at the very least, further evidence about the
existence of the “Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites” and Trotsky’s correspondence with
supporters within the USSR.
The late Pierre Broué, one of the world’s premier Trotskyist scholars and a person
who enjoyed widespread respect from anticommunist scholars, concluded that this
evidence meant little since it only demonstrated the existence of a bloc in 1932. Broué
assumed that because the only evidence that was not successfully purged from the
archive happened to be from 1932 that must have been the only time the “bloc” existed.
That is, Broué erroneously assumed in his article that there was no bloc after 1932
because there is no evidence in Trotsky’s archive for the bloc after 1932.
26 The outline of Malenkov’s speech is in Lavrentii Beriia. 1953. Stenogramma iiul’skogo plenuma TsK
KPSS i drugie dokumenty. Ed. V. Naumov, IU. Sigachev. Moscow: MDF, 1999, pp. 69-70.

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This ignores the fact that the archive has been purged. It is invalid to assume, as
Broué did, that the “bloc” existed only in 1932 because the only evidence we have for its
existence is from 1932. Had those who “purged” Trotsky’s archive done an even more
thorough job we would not even have this evidence. Yet that would in no way imply that
no evidence of the “bloc” ever existed. Much less would it imply that no “bloc” ever
existed after 1932. “Lack of evidence” – in this case, of the existence of the bloc after
1932 – “is not evidence of lack” – that such evidence never existed and/or never did exist.
If those who “purged” the Harvard Trotsky archive of incriminating documents
had been more thorough they would have also taken the certified mail receipts of
Trotsky’s letters to oppositionists in the USSR and Trotsky’s and van Heijenoort’s notes
about the “bloc of Rights and Trots.” Then what would we now have? We’d have the
Gorbachev-era “rehabilitation” document denying that there ever was such a “bloc,” and
Trotsky’s staunch denial that there ever was such a “bloc.” Plus we’d have the insistence
of the Soviet Prosecutor, Vyshinsky, and the confessions of a number of Moscow Trial
defendants, that there was indeed such a “bloc.”
Therefore Getty’s discovery in the Trotsky archive corroborates the testimony of
the Moscow Trial defendants. It is evidence that they did not lie, since in the few
instances where we can get independent evidence – as here – that evidence supports the
trial defendants’ confessions. Likewise it corroborates the statements of the Prosecutor –
that is, of “Stalin,” in the reductive language of anticommunist writers. Thus the
testimony of the trial defendants and the Soviet prosecutor about the “bloc” and about
Trotsky’s correspondence turns out to have been truthful, while Trotsky’s testimony and
that of the Gorbachev-era Soviet government was false.
This is not direct evidence of any Trotsky collaboration with Germany or Japan.
But it is consistent with such allegations, since it corroborates the testimony of the same
witnesses on a related matter. Trotsky denied collaborating with Axis representatives just
as he denied existence of the “bloc” and contact with his Soviet supporters. Therefore the
lack of evidence in Trotsky’s archive of any contact with the Axis is not evidence that
such evidence was never there.
We do have a little non-Soviet evidence of such collaboration. In February 1937
the Japanese Minister of War, General Hajime Sugiyama, revealed in a meeting that

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Japan was in touch with oppositionists within the USSR who were providing the
Japanese with military intelligence.27
Other examples of non-Soviet evidence attest to the real existence of the
conspiracies alleged by the Stalin government. There is the “Arao telegram,” extant at
least in 1962-63 though never heard from since. We have direct testimony from the
German ambassador to Czechoslovakia that Hitler knew that high-ranking military
figures in the USSR were preparing a coup d’état. This document, in the Czech national
archives, was only discovered in 1987. This document is corroborated by correspondence
found in captured German archives disclosed in 1974 but not recognized until 1988.28
General of the NKVD Genrikh S. Liushkov defected to the Japanese on June 13,
1938. At a press conference prepared by the Japanese he claimed that the alleged
conspiracies in the USSR were faked. But privately Liushkov told the Japanese that
Stalin was convinced there were real conspiracies, including the military conspiracy. He
also confirmed that the conspirators existed and that they were linked with the
Tukhachevsky group through Gamarnik. Liushkov confirmed that the conspirators
wanted to join forces with the Japanese to inflict defeat upon the Soviet military, and that
some of them had been conspiring directly with the Japanese military (Coox).
Therefore, despite frequent allegations to the contrary, we do possess evidence of
the anti-Soviet conspiracies that could not have been fabricated by the Soviets. However,
even if we had no non-Soviet evidence of collaboration between Soviet oppositionists
and Axis representatives that would not mean that no such evidence ever existed. Much
less would it mean that no such collaboration took place, for such collaboration might
well not leave any evidence.
Soviet Evidence
No researcher today, no matter how anti-Soviet, dismisses Soviet evidence just
because it is Soviet. Evidence from Soviet archives is routinely regarded as valid. For
example, later in this essay we examine pretrial testimony of Genrikh Yagoda, Ezhov’s
immediate predecessor as head of the NKVD and defendant at the 1938 Moscow Trial,
27 “Soviet Links Tokyo With ‘Trotskyism.’” New York Times March 2, 1937, p. 5.
28 Our articles on these subjects are awaiting publication in Russia, but the existence of these documents
has long been acknowledged by Western and Russian scholars.

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and will show that it is cited unproblematically as genuine by extremely anticommunist
scholars. We’ll examine Yagoda’s testimony below. It includes testimony about Trotsky.
The present authors have published and analyzed Bukharin’s first confession of June 2,
1937. This document is still top-secret in Russia. In it Bukharin directly implicates
Lengthy Quotations
Much of the text of this article consists of direct quotations from primary sources.
We understand that this greatly increases the size of the article and does nothing for its
In an article such as this one, however, we cannot possibly do without these
quotations. The primary sources constitute the evidentiary basis for the analysis and
conclusions. Some quotations are from sources that are very hard to obtain, such as the
English versions of the Moscow Trial transcripts. Even more of them are from documents
unobtainable in English. Marshal Budennyi’s letter to Marshal Voroshilov is an archival
document that has never been published in any language and its contents are entirely new
to the scholarly world.
In the age of the Internet there is no reason why any scholar should ever cite
archival or hard-to-obtain materials without making them available to the reader. We
could have put the primary source quotations onto a separate file and inserted hyperlinks
when appropriate, and considered doing so. Doing so, however, would force the reader
either to ignore the evidence or to click back and forth between the document and its
analysis. We feared such a procedure would be distracting to a careful reader and so
decided against it, a decision with which the editors of Cultural Logic agreed.
We urge the reader to study carefully the quotations from the primary sources.
Like any work of scholarship this article stands or falls on the evidence and its analysis.
A Brief Overview of The Evidence
Our aim in this article is to cite and analyze all of the evidence that directly ties
Trotsky to collaboration with Germany or Japan. We follow each citation of evidence
with an analysis of that evidence. No evidence is left to “speak for itself” since all

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evidence may be interpreted in various ways. We have also striven to cite and study
contextual and corroborative evidence, as all analysis of evidence requires.
That there is no “smoking gun,” no absolute evidence, ought to go without saying.
With the exception of the eye-witness evidence all the evidence we cite is circumstantial.
What gives the complex of existing evidence its power is its mutually corroborative, or
reinforcing, character, the sheer quantity of it, and the fact that it comes from different
Strictly speaking eye-witness evidence is not circumstantial in the same manner
as other evidence. We pay special attention to the testimony of those who claim they
were told by Trotsky himself of his ties with Germany and Japan. This testimony is
mutually corroborative too. Here we examine the extent to which the credibility of the
eye-witnesses can be verified by cross-checking some of the statements they make with
other evidence at our disposal.
By definition one cannot prove a negative. Aside from verbal denials there can be
no evidence that Trotsky did not collaborate with the Germans or Japanese. Therefore
any investigation must search for evidence that he did collaborate. We have tried hard to
find circumstantial, corroborative, or material evidence that supports the contrary
hypothesis: that the confessions of all these people, whether at the Moscow Trials or
otherwise, were “fabricated” and false. This would impugn the evidence that Trotsky did
collaborate, and so represent “negative” evidence. But we have been unsuccessful. We
feel confident in saying that, at this point at least, no such evidence has been discovered.
Given the evidentiary situation the objective conclusion must be that Trotsky
collaborated with the Germans and Japanese. If evidence to the contrary should surface in
the future we must be ready to review and, if necessary, change this conclusion.
Trotsky Lied
The introduction to the Report of the Dewey Commission, which was convened in
1937 to examine the charges against Trotsky, itself states:
If Leon Trotsky is guilty of the acts with which he is charged, no condemnation
can be too severe.

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Trotsky denied working with Germany or Japan, as charged in the 1937 and 1938
Moscow Trial by several of the defendants. But we now know he lied to the very friendly
Dewey Commission in 1937 about other matters far less serious.
On the basis of his research in the Trotsky papers at Houghton Library, Harvard
University, J. Arch Getty pointed out in 1986 that Trotsky had been in written contact
with his followers in the USSR at least in 1932.
At the time of the Moscow show trials, Trotsky denied that he had any
communications with the defendants since his exile in 1929. Yet it is now clear
that in 1932 he sent secret personal letters to former leading oppositionists Karl
Radek, G. Sokol’nikov, E. Preobrazhensky, and others. While the contents of
these letters are unknown, it seems reasonable to believe that they involved an
attempt to persuade the addressees to return to opposition.29
Getty went on to detail another contact Trotsky had, a clandestine communication with
E.S. Gol’tsman, “a former Trotskyist and current Soviet official,” documented in the
same papers.
Either Trotsky himself or one of his secretaries took some pains to conceal these
connections. Concerning the personal letters Getty wrote:
Unlike virtually all Trotsky’s other letters (including even the most sensitive) no
copies of these remain in the Trotsky Papers. It seems likely that they have been
removed from the Papers at some time. Only the certified mail receipts remain.
At his 1937 trial, Karl Radek testified that he had received a letter from Trotsky
containing ‘terrorist instructions’, but we do not know whether this was the letter
in question.30
The noted French Trotskyist scholar Pierre Broué, who also studied these papers and
acknowledged Trotsky’s lies, explains them as an attempt to deny any plausibility to the
“Stalinist” accusations against him at the Moscow Trials, as well as to protect any further
29 J. Arch Getty, “Trotsky in Exile: The Founding of the Fourth International.” Soviet Studies 38, 1
(January, 1986), pp. 27-28.
30 Getty 34, n. 18.

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Trotskyist supporters not yet uncovered in the USSR.31 From Trotsky’s point of view this
made perfect sense. Why give Stalin additional ammunition in their war with him?
But for the historian it means that Trotsky’s denials, not only of the existence of
the bloc, but of any charge, cannot simply be taken at face value. As Getty has pointed
out elsewhere:
The point here is that Trotsky lied. . . . [H]e had good reasons to lie. But what he
said was not the truth. It was not “objective.” Like the Stalinists, Trotsky was
from the pragmatic, utilitarian Bolshevik school that put the needs of the
movement above objective truth.32
We cite this not to “blame” Trotsky for lying. Telling falsehoods is an essential tactic of
clandestine activity. To demand that political actors in life-and-death situations must “tell
the truth” out of some abstract loyalty to an idealist code of conduct would be mere cant.
Rather, the fact that Trotsky lied – proveably in this case, and probably in other cases
where we cannot prove it – ought simply to remind us that we must set aside any denials
on the part of Trotsky, or any Oppositionist.
It is to be expected that persons will lie when necessary to deflect punishment or
blame from themselves. No one pays much attention to denials of guilt on the part of
persons suspected of a crime. In many countries an accused person has the right to lie in
his own defense, though of course at his own peril too. To any investigator and to any
historian as well an accused’s confession of guilt is much more significant than a claim of
innocence. So Trotsky’s claim of innocence means little in itself. However, Trotsky never
confessed. He lied, and “got away with it,” at least insofar as the Dewey Commission
members and its audience were concerned.
We believe that, on the evidence, we can validly conclude that Trotsky lied about
a great deal more. Specifically, we believe the evidence shows that Trotsky was guilty as
charged in the Moscow Trials – that he actually did conspire with Germany and Japan. If
he did so – and we believe the evidence points overwhelmingly in that direction – it is no
wonder that he lied in denying it. Keeping such a thing secret would have been an
31 Pierre Broué, “Trotsky et le bloc des oppositions de 1932.” Cahiers Léon Trotsky 5 (Jan-Mar 1980), 29.
32 Getty, post to H-RUSSIA list Nov. 24 1998. See <http://tinyurl.com/getty-trotsky-lied&gt;.

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elementary sine qua non of such a conspiracy. The Germany and Japanese participants, if
asked about this, would also have denied it. In lying, they would have felt certain that
they were being loyal to their countries and to their military oaths.
Trotsky’s Archive Falsified
We also know that there has been a practice of falsifying what Trotsky did that
extended to the Trotsky papers themselves. Getty has pointed out that the correspondence
between Trotsky and Oppositionists in the USSR has apparently been taken out of the
Trotsky Papers at Harvard at some time before they were opened to researchers in
January 1980.33 Broué and Getty both note that Trotsky secretary Jan van Heijenoort
reminded Trotsky and his son Leon Sedov of his correspondence about the bloc at the
time of the Dewey Commission hearings. As we noted above, Trotsky chose to lie about
this. Van Heijenoort, who did not die until 1986, worked with the Trotsky Papers and was
interviewed by the New York Times about them (NYT Jan. 8, 1980 p. A14). But neither
there nor in his memoirs34 did van Heijenoort ever reveal he had personal knowledge that
Trotsky (and Sedov) had deliberately lied to the Dewey Commission.
Isaac Deutscher was also given special access to the Trotsky Papers by Trotsky’s
widow so he could write his famous three-volume biography of Trotsky. Deutscher did
not reveal the existence of the bloc of Rights and Trotskyites nor of van Heijenoort’s
letter. Yet he had earlier access to the same “closed” archive that Getty studied only
much later. It is logical to conclude that Deutscher saw the same evidence Getty saw and
also knew that Trotsky had lied to the Dewey Commission but chose not to reveal it.
The two most likely persons to have “purged” the Trotsky archives of the
correspondence with his supporters within the USSR are Deutscher and van Heijenoort.
Trotsky’s wife also had access. But at least one very personal letter of Trotsky’s to his
wife remains in the archives – something that his wife might be expected to have
removed.35 In any case, it is clear that van Heijenoort concealed Trotsky’s contacts with
his followers in the USSR. Either van Heijenoort, or Deutscher, or conceivably some
33 Getty 34 n.18.
34 Jan van Heijenoort, With Trotsky in exile : from Prinkipo to Coyoactan. Cambridge: Harvard University
Press, 1978.
35 See the dispute recorded by Felshtinsky at <http://lib.ru/HISTORY/FELSHTINSKY/f7.txt&gt;. The letter
itself is at <http://lib.ru/TROCKIJ/letter.txt&gt;.

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other defender of Trotsky’s legacy with rare privileged access has deliberately falsified
his archive.
This makes one doubly curious as to exactly what was in those letters from
Trotsky to the Oppositionists that have been removed and for which Getty found only the
certified mail receipts. The question remains: What information in those letters to his
followers in the USSR would have been so sensitive that persons loyal to Trotsky felt it
necessary to remove them even while leaving sensitive personal materials alone? The
logical answer is: sensitive political material. But this could not have been mere evidence
that Trotsky was in contact with his followers in the USSR. That evidence still remains in
the Archive.
As Getty says:
Sedov’s address book contained the exile addresses of Trotskyists in the USSR.
Trotsky Papers 15741. The Exile Correspondence section of the Trotsky Papers
contains copies of such letters. (Getty-Trotsky 34 n. 16)
So those of Trotsky’s followers who had access to the Trotsky Papers did not feel that
this material was politically sensitive enough to remove. So what would have been? At
the top of any such list would be: material that confirmed the accusations made against
Trotsky at the Moscow Trials. Such evidence would have irreparably ruined Trotsky’s
reputation, while justifying, in the eyes of many, the repressions of the late 1930s and,
therefore, Stalin. Such evidence would have threatened to cut the foundation out of
The “Hotel Bristol”
Dewey Commission witnesses also testified that at least two further statements
made by Moscow Trial defendants were proveably false: that of the “Hotel Bristol” and
that of Piatakov’s secret flight to Oslo. At the August 1936 Trial defendant E.S.
Gol’tsman (“Holtzman” in the English translation) claimed that in November 1932 he
had met Sedov at the Bristol Hotel in Copenhagen. Albert Goldman, Trotsky’s advocate
at the Dewey Commission hearings, said that the Bristol Hotel had burned down in 1917.

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Now, immediately after the trial and during the trial, when the statement, which
the Commissioners can check up on, was made by him, a report came from the
Social-Democratic press in Denmark that there was no such hotel as the Hotel
Bristol in Copenhagen; that there was at one time a hotel by the name of Hotel
Bristol, but that was burned down in 1917. The guide “Baedeker” of 1917,
includes the name of Hotel Bristol. That was the report of the Social-Democratic
press of Denmark which went the rounds throughout the world press.
– Fifth Session
In fact this Hotel Bristol did not “burn down” in 1917 or at any other time but went out of
business in 1917. The building that housed it was sold to an insurance company which
converted it into offices. It is not clear why Goldman got this detail wrong, since the facts
were at least as available to him in 1937 as they are to us today.
The fact that Gol’tsman identified a hotel that was no longer in existence has been
widely accepted as evidence that his testimony was fabricated by the NKVD and was
false in all other respects too. But a recent study by Swedish researcher Sven-Eric
Holmström36 has proven that in 1932 a large sign saying “Bristol” stood immediately
beside the entrance to the hotel in question. The hotel’s own sign, high up on a different
side of the building around the corner from the entrance, was far less visible. It would
have been natural to get the impression that the hotel really was named “Bristol” after the
prominent sign displayed right beside its entrance. As Holmström has demonstrated, it
would have been difficult to get any other impression.
Holmström’s research also provides us with the best evidence that Gol’tsman was
telling the truth. The presumption in the Moscow Trial was that Gol’tsman went to the
Bristol Hotel, as he testified. If the Bristol Hotel in Copenhagen had been destroyed (or
simply gone out of business) in 1917 and never rebuilt then Gol’tsman could not have
gone to it in 1932. This led many to the presumption has been that Gol’tsman had been
instructed – more likely, forced – to say he had gone to this hotel.
36 “New Evidence Concerning the ‘Hotel Bristol’ Question in the First Moscow Trial of 1936,” Cultural
Logic 2008. We are grateful to Mr. Holmström for allowing us to study a pre-publication version of this
very important essay. In this section of our essay we are largely summarizing Holmström’s results.

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Holmström convincingly demolishes this conclusion. The NKVD would never
have made up the name of a hotel which had been destroyed in 1917 but by coincidence
was also the name of a café – the café Bristol – that had a large sign adjoining the
entrance to a hotel right across the street from the train station. But, as Holmström shows,
it is just the kind of error Gol’tsman – indeed, anyone – could easily make.
The door of the Grand Hotel Copenhagen was right beside the sign to the Bristol
“Konditori” (pastry shop), which a large sign reading “Bristol.” Holmström has obtained
photographs of this corner made in 1929 and 1931 which demonstrate this fact beyond
any doubt. The only obvious sign near the hotel door was this large sign. The pastry shop
and hotel also had an interior connecting door, and the pastry shop was owned by the
wife of the hotel’s proprietor.
By 1937, when the pastry shop had moved a few doors away, the hotel had put a
prominent neon sign next to the entrance that had previously been right beside the large
“Bristol” sign. As Holmström’s research has shown, the hotel already had a sign – but on
the opposite side of the building. Until 1936, when the pastry shop moved, the large
“Bristol” sign was the only sign anywhere near the hotel entrance, and it was right beside
that entrance.
It would have been natural, perhaps even inevitable, that anyone passing by would
assume that the hotel was named “Bristol.” This may have been acceptable as long as the
pastry shop was adjacent to the hotel entrance. For one thing, both hotel and pastry shop
were owned by the same man. For another, the pastry shop and hotel were connected by
an internal passage. In fact it may well have been that Gol’tsman actually entered the
pastry shop and met Trotsky there, rather than in the hotel lobby.
At or about the same time that the pastry shop moved to a larger space a few
doors down from the hotel, the hotel put a neon sign right by its entrance. Why? The
answer now seems obvious, thanks to Holmström’s work. There was no longer any sign
at or near the hotel entrance, and so no way of knowing where that entrance was.
Until 1931 the Grand Hotel Copenhagen was a pension for long-term residents.
No sign was needed – the residents knew where the entrance was and the pension did not
need to solicit customers on the street. From about 1931 to about 1936 the hotel entrance
was unmarked, but immediately beside it was the large “Bristol” sign for the pastry shop,

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with the pastry shop entrance a few feet away. It would matter little if a hotel client
entered the pastry shop, for he could walk through the interior doorway to the hotel
lobby. He might even buy a pastry and coffee! Only when the pastry shop had moved to
larger quarters did the hotel require some way to indicate its entrance, and that was when
the neon sign went up.
Holmström has also shown that the key Dewey Commission witnesses on the
“Bristol” question, the Field couple, deliberately lied in saying that they had been to the
pastry shop in 1932 and that at that time it was not adjacent to the hotel. In fact it was
adjacent to the hotel in 1932, but had moved by 1937 – the time of the Dewey
Commission hearings.
So Gol’tsman was telling the truth about the “Hotel Bristol.” The error he made –
mistaking the name of the hotel for that of the pastry shop whose sign was right beside
the hotel entrance and that shared an internal passageway with the hotel lobby – must
have been made by a great many people during that time. Furthermore according to
Gol’tsman’s testimony he did not stay the night at the hotel. He only met Sedov there. If
he had stayed there he would have received a bill. That would have had the hotel’s name
on it, and that might have served to impress upon Gol’tsman’s mind that the hotel was
named “Grand Hotel,” not “Bristol.” But by Gol’tsman’s own admission at the trial he
did not stay and so he never received a bill.
Like all hotel patrons during those years Gold’tsman could have used either door.
He could have used the entrance to the hotel, with the large “Bristol” sign right beside it.
Or he could have walked through the internal passageway between the hotel and the
pastry shop and used the pastry shop door. The point is: the NKVD would never have
“fabricated” such a story.
We can’t verify whether Gol’tsman met Trotsky, as he testified. But Holmström
has verified that Gol’tsman told the truth about the hotel. Furthermore we know that
Trotsky was in fact in touch with Gol’tsman and vice versa, as Gol’tsman claimed, since
Getty turned up this information in the Trotsky Papers at Harvard. (Getty 28). The fact
that Gol’tsman was telling the truth about this epistolary contact with Trotsky which can
now be verified, together with Holmström’s research on the “Hotel Bristol” affair, makes
it more likely that Gol’tsman really did meet with Trotsky. That is, if two statements by a

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Copyright © 2009 by Grover Furr and Cultural Logic, ISSN 1097-3087
defendant (Gol’tsman) can be independently verified, it makes his other statements that
cannot be independently verified more credible. By the same token it further erodes
Trotsky’s credibility.
Holmström has also uncovered evidence that suggests that the matter of
Piatakov’s alleged flight to Oslo to meet with Trotsky should be reopened. However that
may be, we now know that Esther Field, Trotsky’s witness before the Dewey
Commission, deliberately lied about the 1932 location of the Bristol Konditorei and the
Grand Hotel Copenhagen. She would surely not have done so without Trotsky’s
permission. Most likely she did it at his request; otherwise how would she know exactly
which lies to tell? Both the Fields were close adherents of Trotsky’s.
Together with the evidence uncovered by Getty and Broué that Trotsky
deliberately lied at the Dewey Commission hearings about the “block of Rights and
Trotskyites,” we now have an established fact. It is not the testimony at the August 1936
Moscow Trial but the testimony by Trotsky and his witnesses at the 1937 Dewey
Commission hearings that has been proven to be false. Furthermore, Trotsky’s denial that
he was involved in conspiring with the Germans and Japanese cannot be accepted as
evidence. This has always been obvious to any objective student. It’s to be expected that,
when accused of a crime, both the innocent and the guilty will claim innocence.
The path is now cleared for us to study the evidence that does exist.
Evidence From The Three Moscow Trials
The testimony of the defendants at the three Moscow “Show” Trials is routinely
dismissed as false. The defendants are said to have been threatened, or tortured, or in
some other way induced to confess to absurd crimes which they could not have
committed. This is all wrong.
There is no evidence worthy of the name that the defendants were threatened, or
tortured, or induced to give false confessions by promises of some kind. Under
Khrushchev, again under Gorbachev and, in fact, right up to this day the official stance of
both Soviet and Russian regimes has been that the defendants’ confessions are false. The
investigative materials, all but a small fraction of which are still classified in Russia
today, have been scoured for any evidence that would discredit the Trials and prove the

Grover Furr
Copyright © 2009 by Grover Furr and Cultural Logic, ISSN 1097-3087
defendants’ confessions were false. But no such evidence has been discovered. For this
reason we can be reasonably confident that no such evidence exists.
In 1992 during the short-lived “glasnost’” period under Eltsin the appeals to the
Soviet Supreme Court of ten of Moscow Trials defendants were published in the
newspaper Izvestiia. All the defendants in question had been sentenced to death on the
basis of their own confessions and the accusations of other defendants. If they were ever
going to retract their confessions and proclaim innocence this was their last chance to do
so. Not one of them did. Every one of them reconfirmed his own guilt.37
Dr. D.D. Pletnev, a minor defendant in the March 1938 Moscow Trial, has been
the subject of numerous articles declaring him the innocent victim of a frameup and
claiming that he proclaimed his innocence while in prison after the trial. But a study of all
these articles and of the fragments of Pletnev’s correspondence that they published shows
this to be false. Pletnev never claimed innocence of the crime he was convicted of at trial.
The articles are full of contradictions and dishonest statements. There is no basis to claim
that Pletnev was framed.38 In the case of a few of the more prominent defendants,
Zinoviev and Bukharin, there is good evidence that they were not threatened or badly
Most people who disregard the confessions of the defendants at the Moscow
Trials have never studied the transcripts of these trials. They dismiss them because they
have been told that the defendants’ confessions were fabricated. In reality, there is no
evidence that this is so. As we shall see, the evidence given in those confessions is in fact
corroborated by the archival material which is the main subject of this study. And in any
event the confessions of the Moscow Trials defendants must be accorded the same
respect as the rest of the evidence, or as any evidence. It must be identified, collected, and
studied. We have done this below.
A number of the defendants at the Moscow Trials testified that Trotsky was
collaborating with Germany or Japan. Most of these witnesses said that they had been
told of Trotsky’s collaboration by others. But some of the defendants testified that they
37 “Rasskaz o desiati rasstrel’iannykh” (“Story of ten who were shot”), Izvestiia September 2, 1992, p. 3.
38 Furr and Bobrov, Bukharin na plakhe (“Bukharin on the block”), forthcoming.

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had been told of Trotsky’s collaboration personally by Trotsky, personally by Trotsky’s
son Leon Sedov, or in notes or letters from Trotsky or Sedov.
The status of this testimony is, therefore, more direct. In this article we will
concentrate on this first-hand testimony of Trotsky’s collaboration. We will not review
all the indirect or second-hand evidence in detail. We will, however, say something about
this evidence at the end of the article to note how it corroborates the first-hand evidence.
The August 1936 Trial: Ol’berg
In the August 1936 trial of Zinoviev, Kamenev and others the only first-hand
testimony to collaboration between Trotsky and the German government concerns
collaboration with German intelligence. Defendant Valentin Ol’berg claimed that he
obtained from the Gestapo a Honduran passport to get into the USSR with the help of his
brother Paul, a German agent. He further testified that he was given the money to buy it
from the German Trotskyite organization because Sedov had told them to provide it.
Getty discovered evidence in the Trotsky Archive that Trotsky had “safe contacts in
Berlin, Prague, and Istanbul” (Getty 28). Insofar as German Trotskyists did exist,
therefore, the contact Ol’berg alleged could have happened. We can’t say more. The
alleged contacts between Trotskyists and the Gestapo were for the joint purpose of
organizing assassination attempts on Stalin and Voroshilov. There is no testimony at this
trial about any Trotsky contacts with Germans or Japanese for military purposes.
Ol’berg claimed there was systematic collaboration between the Gestapo and
German Trotskyists with Trotsky’s consent. From Prosecutor Vyshinsky’s Opening
As the investigation has established, V. Olberg arrived in the U.S.S.R. with the
passport of a citizen of the Republic of Honduras obtained with the aid of the
German Secret Police (Gestapo).
On this point V. Olberg, during examination in the office of the State
Attorney of the U.S.S.R., testified
“. . . Sedov promised to help me to obtain a passport to return to the
U.S.S.R. once more. But I succeeded in obtaining a passport with the
help of my younger brother, Paul Olberg. Thanks to my connections with

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Copyright © 2009 by Grover Furr and Cultural Logic, ISSN 1097-3087
the German police and their agent in Prague, V. P. Tukalevsky, I, by
means of a bribe, obtained the passport of a citizen of the Republic of
Honduras. The mony for the passport – 13,000 Czechoslovakian kronen
– I obtained from Sedov, or rather, from the Trotskyite organization on
Sedov’s instructions.” (Vol. XXI, p. 262)
Re-examined on the question of his connection with the Gestapo, V. Olberg on
July 31 of this year testified:
“Confirming also my testimony of May 9 of this year, I emphasize that
my connection with the Gestapo was not at all an exception, of which
one could speak as of the fall of an individual Trotskyite. It was the line
of the Trotskyites in conformity with the instructions of L. Trotsky given
through Sedov. The connection with the Gestapo followed the line of
organizing terrorism in the U.S.S.R. against the leaders of the C.P.S.U.
and the Soviet Government.”
From the trial transcript:
Then, continues Olberg, I wrote a letter to Sedov in Paris telling him about the
proposal made by the agent of the Gestapo, and asked him to inform me whether
L. D. Trotsky would approve of an arrangement with such an agent. After some
time I received a reply sanctioning my actions, that is to say, my understanding
with Tukalevsky. Sedov wrote saying that the strictest secrecy was necessary,
and that none of the other members of the Trotskyite organization was to be
informed about this understanding. (Pravda August 21 1936, p. 2)
Defendant Natan Lur’e confessed that he had plotted assassinations under the
leadership of Franz Weitz, a Gestapo agent. Lur’e claimed that Weitz had argued that
Trotskyists and the Gestapo should work together for common ends. Lur’e never claimed
that Trotsky or Sedov had themselves asked him to do this. He never claimed to have met
either one of them in person at all.

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Archival Evidence and The 1936 Trial: The July 29, 1936 “Closed Letter”
On July 29 1936, a few weeks before the August trial, the Politburo sent a long,
secret letter to Party organizations all over the USSR. This document was published only
in August 1989, during Mikhail Gorbachev’s short-lived and very partial period of
“openness” (glasnost’) that was supposed to accompany economic “reconstruction”
(perestroika) along capitalist lines. Urging Party organizations to redouble their vigilance
the “letter” contained many quotations from suspects under interrogation. Some of them
ended up as defendants in the trial that took place a few weeks later, but others did not
and were evidently tried separately.
From the interrogation quotations given in this letter we learn a bit more. Dreitser,
later a trial defendant, said he had received a letter from Trotsky in 1934 about the need
to assassinate Stalin and Voroshilov. This letter evidently said nothing about Germans or
Japanese. V. Ol’berg, Frits-David, and K.B. Berman-Yurin testified to direct contact with
Trotsky. Ol’berg claimed direct contact with Sedov as well. This contact too was about
planning assassinations. E. Konstant, a Trotskyist, is quoted as saying that he had
contacted Gestapo agent Weitz, but does not claim that Trotsky had urged him to do
this.39 Therefore there is no evidence in the “Closed Letter” about Trotsky’s working with
the Germans.
Natan Lur’e
In 1992 Lur’e’s post-trial appeal to Mikhail Kalinin for clemency dated August 24,
1936 was published for the first time from a copy in the former Soviet archives. The
appeal was a secret document and thus had no propaganda value. In it N. Lur’e
emphasized the truth of his trial confession. Since this short document has not been
republished since 1992 and has never been translated, we reprint the whole text here:40
39 The letter is available in English translation, with some omissions, in J. Arch Getty and Oleg V. Naumov,
The Road to Terror. Stalin and the Self-Destruction of the Bolsheviks, 1932-1939. New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1999, 250-256. Dreitser’s and Konstant’s remarks are translated; Berman-Yurin’s and
Ol’berg’s are omitted.
40 “Rasskaz o desiati rasstreliannykh” (“Story of ten who were shot”), Izvestiia September 2 1992, p. 3. The
ten Moscow Trial defendants whose appeals for clemency are reprinted in this article are Kamenev,
Smirnov, Zinoviev, N. Lur’e, Pyatakov, Muralov, Bukharin, Rykov, Krestinsky, and Yagoda.

Grover Furr
Copyright © 2009 by Grover Furr and Cultural Logic, ISSN 1097-3087
To the Chairman of the CEC of the USSR Kalinin M.I.
By sentence of the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court I, Natan
Lazarevich Lur’e, have been sentenced to be shot.
I have committed a most serious crime against the Soviet people. I
wished, according to an assignment of Trotsky, leader of the terrorist center, to
deprive the Soviet people and the whole world proletariat of the leader Stalin and
other leaders of the great communist party. More than once I prepared terrorist
acts against Voroshilov, Stalin, Ordzhonikidze, Kaganovich, and Zhdanov,
having armed myself in order to carry out this plan.
I really did prepare to murder Voroshilov as ordered by Franz Weitz, a
representative of the Gestapo. I wished to carry out these despicable murders
because I had been infected by the poison of Trotskyism during the course of my
long stay in Germany. I only arrived in the USSR for the first time in 1932 and
therefore, ignorant of the immense successes that the party of Lenin and Stalin
had carried out under the leadership of the C. C. of the AUCP(b) I, instructed by
Trotskyist literature, nursed hatred towards the leaders of the party. At my trial I
confessed my guilt in full and kept nothing back from Soviet power. I am a
young surgeon. I am 34 years of age. I am prepared to redeem my very serious
crimes with diligent work, for all the poison of Trotskyism has been completely
rooted out of me.
I ask the CEC of the USSR to spare my life and grant me clemency.
Natan Lazarevich LUR’E
August 24 1936
We will return to this confession below, but note for now a few points about it. N.
Lur’e repeats that he was guilty of planning assassinations of Soviet leaders. He
particularly insists that he took orders from Gestapo man Weitz. His use of the word
“really” (deistvitel’no) suggests that Lur’e wanted to emphasize that his confession to
“collaboration with” or “taking leadership from” the Gestapo was not a metaphor – as
though, say, they were working along similar paths; that he had taken the idea for
assassinations from something Weitz had reportedly said, etc. Lur’e tried to make it as
clear as possible. He actually took orders from the Gestapo.

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Natan Lur’e does not claim at any time that he had been directly in touch with
Trotsky or Sedov. He did not receive the assignment or sanction to engage in “terror” or
to collaborate with the Nazis from them. Ol’berg had claimed to be Trotsky’s “emissary”
in Germany, the leader of Trotskyists in Germany and their illegal contacts with the
USSR. He had met frequently with Leon Sedov. He testified that Trotsky had sent a letter
to Sedov, apparently in 1932, in which Trotsky approved of Sedov’s entrusting the
mission of assassination to Ol’berg.
Assessing The Evidence
Certainty in historical study is basically unattainable. We never have as much
evidence as we would like to have. This is true in jurisprudence and in scientific inquiry
The only rational, responsible procedure is to study all the evidence we have, and
arrive at a conclusion based on that evidence, or the preponderance of it. If and when
there is evidence “on both sides” of a given question so that it isn’t possible to objectively
state where the preponderance of the evidence lies, we should state as much.
In all cases, conclusions are tentative. If and when more evidence comes to light,
we must be prepared to reconsider all previous evidence and include the new evidence. If
that study warrants we should be prepared to revise or even reverse our previous
conclusions. This is the procedure we must follow here, as in every inquiry.
Either Natan Lur’e prepared to assassinate Voroshilov or he did not. If he did
prepare to assassinate Voroshilov, either he did it on instructions from the Gestapo agent,
or he did it for some other reason or under some other leadership. Once again, either he
did, or he didn’t.
Lur’e’s appeal is consistent with the testimony given at the trial as reported in the
trial transcript, which we have reviewed above. The only additional evidence or
testimony we have in Lur’e’s case is contained in “rehabilitation” materials. The first of
these documents, chronologically speaking, is the “Zapiska” of the Shvernik Commission
prepared for Khrushchev between 1962 and 1963 and, according to its Russian edition,
completed “not later than February 18, 1963.” Aside from repeating information

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Copyright © 2009 by Grover Furr and Cultural Logic, ISSN 1097-3087
contained in the trial transcript it says little about Natan Lur’e. What it does say is not
For example we read the following:
The former members of the Communist Party of Germany M. Lur’e and N. Lur’e,
who were condemned in the aforesaid case, had in the past shared the views of
the Trotskyite opposition, and in 1930-1931 Ol’berg, who was living in Germany,
did maintain written contact with Trotsky. Then he did arrive in the USSR under
suspicious circumstances. (“Zapiska” 562; emphasis added)
Even though the Shvernik Commission was clearly instructed to find “evidence”
to justify declaring the defendants innocent, in a number of cases it found evidence that
contradicted this conclusion. The statement quoted above suggests that, as in other
passages, those who compiled the Shvernik Report were not willing to completely
suppress all evidence of suspicious activity on the part of the defendants.
The “Zapiska” reports that Stalin played a major role in outlining his theory of the
role of the Trotskyist-Zinovievist bloc in planning the successful assassination of Kirov
and the planned assassinations of himself, Voroshilov, and others (560). It concludes that
no such bloc actually existed, but was a fabrication of the NKVD and/or Stalin. The
Gorbachev-era “rehabilitation” commissions later agreed. The actual “rehabilitation”
decree by the Plenum of the Soviet Supreme Court was evidently issued in June 1988.
We don’t have the text of this decree, but we do have the document from the
rehabilitation commission of the Politburo published in August 1989.41
This statement contains a number of interesting features, a few of which we’ll
consider here. For one thing, parts of it are copied verbatim, or almost so, from the
Shvernik Commission’s “Zapiska” of 1963, twenty-five years earlier. No one could know
this in 1988, since the text of the Shvernik Report was not published until 1993-4. But the
fact of the copying suggests that probably no new study was carried out in 1987-88.
We note two other features of the 1989 document that are significant for our present
41 “O Tak Nazyvaemom ‘Antisovetskom Ob” edinennom Trotskistsko-Zinov’evskom Tsentre.” Izvestiia
TsK KPSS 8 (1989), pp. 78-94.

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1. The 1989 document concludes that no bloc or grouping of Zinovievists and
Trotskyists existed.
It has been established therefore that after 1927 the former Trotskyists and
Zinovievists did not carry out any organized struggle against the party, did not
unite with each other either on a terrorist or any other basis, and that the case of
the “United Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center” was fabricated by the
organs of the NKVD upon the direct order and with the direct participation of J.V.
Stalin. (94)
We know that this is not true. Such a bloc did in fact exist, and its existence has been
proven from documents in Trotsky’s own archive at Harvard University. Arch Getty put
it this way in his pathbreaking book published in 1985:
Although Trotsky later denied that he had any communications with former
followers in the USSR since his exile in 1929, it is clear that he did. In the first
three months of 1932 he sent secret letters to former oppositionists Radek,
Sokolnikov, Preobrazhenskii, and others. Although the contents of these letters
are unknown, it seems reasonable to believe that they involved an attempt to
persuade the addresees to return to opposition.
Sometime in October of 1932, E.S. Gol’tsman (a Soviet official and
former Trotskyist) met Sedov in Berlin and gave him an internal memorandum
on Soviet economic output. This memorandum was published in the Biulleten’
the following month under the title “The Economic Situation of the Soviet
Union.” It seems, though, that Gol’tsman brought Sedov something else: a
proposal from Left Oppositionists in the USSR for the formation of a united
opposition bloc. The proposed bloc was to include Trotskyists, Zinovievists,
members of the Lominadze group, and others. The proposal came from
“Kolokolnikov” – the code name of Ivan Smirnov. (Getty, Origins 119)
After further discussion of what Trotsky may have thought about the bloc as
revealed in his Harvard papers Getty continues:

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Copyright © 2009 by Grover Furr and Cultural Logic, ISSN 1097-3087
It is clear, then, that Trotsky did have a clandestine organization inside the USSR
in this period and that he maintained communication with it. It is equally clear
that a united oppositional bloc was formed in 1932. . . . From the available
evidence, it seems that Trotsky envisioned no “terrorist” role for the bloc,
although his call for a “new political revolution” to remove “the cadres, the
bureaucracy” might well have been so interpreted in Moscow. There is also
reason to believe that after the decapitation of the bloc through the removal of
Zinoviev, Kamenev, Smirnov, and others the organization comprised mainly
lower-level less prominent oppositionists: followers of Zinoviev, with whom
Trotsky attempted to maintain direct contact.
It is equally probable that the NKVD knew about the bloc. Trotsky’s and
Sedov’s staffs were thoroughly infiltrated, and Sedov’s closest collaborator in
1936, Mark Zborowski, is said to have been an NKVD agent. In 1936, the 1932
bloc would be interpreted by the NKVD as a terrorist plot and would form the
original pretext for Ezhov’s campaign to destroy the former opposition. Smirnov,
Gol’tsman, Zinoviev, Kamenev, and Trotsky (in absentia) would be the
defendants at the 1936 show trial, and the 1932 events would form the evidential
basis for their prosecution. (Getty, Origins 121)
If the existence of the bloc between Zinovievists and Trotskyists from 1932 on
can be demonstrated by Trotsky’s own documents and, moreover, was known as early as
1985, then we can be certain that it could have been demonstrated in 1988 with the
investigative materials from the 1936 trial that were available to the Party and
“rehabilitation” investigators in 1987-88. Even if, somehow, such materials were not
available in Russia, the Gorbachev-era commissions could have simply concluded that
the existence of such a bloc remained unproven.
And, of course, they could have referred to the research by Getty and also by
famous Trotskyist scholar Pierre Broué, who had also studied the Trotsky archive at
Harvard and recognized in print that the bloc really did exist, and that Trotsky, in denying
this, had lied. We have shown elsewhere that both the Prosecutor’s “Protest” (= appeal)
and the Decree of the Plenum of the Soviet Supreme Court in the case of Bukharin, the
latter document dated June 4, 1988 and still secret, deliberately falsify one of the key

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Copyright © 2009 by Grover Furr and Cultural Logic, ISSN 1097-3087
pieces of evidence they cite, and in the most serious manner.42 The fact that in the present
case too the Gorbachev-era commission denied that such a bloc had existed is further
proof that we cannot assume that the conclusions of these commissions are either honest
or truthful.
2. In addition we have known since 1971 that Bukharin and his group were
planning to assassinate Stalin in 1928 and 1929. Bukharin’s close friend Jules Humbert-
Droz, a Swiss communist active in the Comintern, broke with Bukharin over this and
wrote about it in his memoir published in 1971. Writing in Switzerland and forty years
after the event Humbert-Droz had no reason to lie about this. This memoir has been
ignored by all Cold-War writers on Bukharin, beginning with Stephen Cohen’s prizewinning
biography published in 1973.43
We are left with strong evidence that Nathan Lur’e’s confession and appeal were
genuine despite the Gorbachev-era “rehabilitation” report that declared all the defendants
to have been falsely accused.  Zinoviev’s Letters and Appeal
The 1989 document makes the claim that “illegal methods of pressure”
(nezakonnye mery vozdeistviia) were used against the defendants to obtain confessions.
But nowhere does it support this serious accusation with any evidence. The document
also refers to “moral pressure.” In 1956 Safonova, a witness for the prosecution at the
1936 trial and wife of leading Trotsky supporter I.N. Smirnov, testified that she had
agreed to give false testimony for three reasons: “Moral pressure”; threats against her
family; and a desire to confess “in the interests of the Party.”
She (Safonova) states that during the interrogations the NKVD workers
employed methods of moral pressure, demanding confessions to criminal
activities (that were) supposedly essential in the interests of the party.
(Rehabilitation I, 86)
42 Furr and Bobrov, Bukharin na plakhe, forthcoming.
43 Jules Humbert-Droz, De Lénin à Staline, Dix Ans Au Service de L’ Internationale Communiste 1921-31
(Neuchâtel: A la Baconnière, 1971) 379-80. For further discussion see Furr and Bobrov, “Nikolai
Bukharin’s First Statement of Confession in the Lubianka.”

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...."L’ineguaglianza dello sviluppo economico e politico è una legge assoluta del capitalismo. Ne risulta che è possibile il trionfo del socialismo all’inizio in alcuni paesi o anche in un solo paese capitalistico, preso separatamente...." Lenin -Sulla parola d’ordine degli Stati Uniti d’Europa-Pubblicato sul Sozial-Demokrat, n. 44, 23 agosto 1915.
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