Evidence of Leon Trotsky’s Germany and Japan ky’s Collaboration with Germany and Japan_ Grover Furr 3/3

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Evidence of Leon Trotsky’s Collaboration with Germany and Japan – Grover Furr 2/2

 

 

I shall not reproduce the whole conversation, and it is not necessary
either; I shall give it to you in substance. He started the conversation by saying:
“We are aware that you are a very close friend and adherent of Mr. Trotsky. I
must ask you to write to him that a certain government is dissatisfied with his
articles on the Chinese question and also with the behaviour of the Chinese
Trotskyites. We have a right to expect a different line of conduct on the part of
Mr. Trotsky. Mr. Trotsky ought to understand what is necessary for the certain
government. There is no need to go into details, but it is clear that an incident
provoked in China would be a desirable pretext for intervening in China.” I wrote
to Trotsky about all this. . . . (293-294)
Summary: Evidence From The Moscow Trials
Of the defendants at the three public Moscow Trials nine men claimed to have
heard directly from either Trotsky or his son Sedov about contacts between Trotsky and
German or Japanese officials.
We noted above that many other defendants – Bukharin, for example – testified
that they had heard about this at second or third hand and believed it. Bukharin said he
had heard about it from Radek, whom he had every reason to believe. But if Radek had
been lying Bukharin would not have known, so Bukharin’s testimony on this point is
evidence at second hand.
However, indirect or “second hand” evidence is still evidence. It can be used to
corroborate – or, as the case may be, to contradict and so disconfirm – other more direct
evidence. Therefore we will consider it briefly at the end of our discussion.
The Moscow Trial defendants provided very strong evidence of Trotsky’s
collaboration with Germany and Japan. This evidence has never been successfully
impugned. But it has been declared false so many times – its falsity taken for granted

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without evidence – that its “falsehood” is constituent of the current mainstream paradigm
of Soviet history. As we discuss later in the present essay, official Soviet “rehabilitations”
are political documents many of which are simply frauds but nonetheless continue to be
accepted as true.
Evidence From The Former Soviet Archives
The rest of this essay could be thought of as an attempt to assess – that is, to
confirm or disconfirm – some of the statements made by the defendants at the three
public Moscow Trials concerning Trotsky’s alleged German-Japanese collaboration in
the light of new documentary evidence from the former Soviet archives.
We have already considered some evidence from former Soviet archives:
• Trotsky’s telegram of June 18, 1937 to the Soviet government;
• published excerpts from still secret pretrial investigative materials on
Sokol’nikov and Radek.
In the rest of the essay we will examine other archival evidence implicating Trotsky that
has been made public since the end of the USSR in 1991 to date.
Pavliukov
In 2007 Russian researcher Aleksei Pavliukov published the fullest account to
date of Nikolai Ezhov’s career.52 This book, and Ezhov’s career and conspiracies, are of
great importance to any accurate understanding of the events of the late 1930s. For our
present more limited purposes it is important because Pavliukov was accorded privileged
access to certain unpublished materials relating to these conspiracies from the
investigative files.
Among those materials were some dealing with the second Moscow Trial. Here is
Pavliukov’s discussion of the part of a confession by Radek dated October 20, 1936 in
which Radek discusses Trotsky’s relations with Germany and their significance.
Radek reported that Trotsky, who had supposedly established firm contacts with
German authorities, let them know that after its coming to power the Trotskyite-
52 Aleksei Pavliukov, Ezhov. Biografia. Moscow: Zakharov, 2007.

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Zinovievite bloc was ready to make significant concessions in relation to
Germany. This would be expressed in profitable conditions for the export of
German goods from the USSR, in a reduction of prices for Soviet goods exported
to Germany, in the permission of German capital to exploit the natural riches of
the country, and also in several territorial concessions. (Pavliukov 236)
This corresponds with what Radek testified during the January 1937 Moscow
Trial. Had the pretrial investigation materials, which were never intended to be made
public, failed to confirm the trial testimony, we would have reason to doubt that
testimony and suspect some “stage-managing” at the trial. But here the opposite is the
case. Therefore, it confirms his trial testimony. The existence of such confessions argues
against any idea that the Trial was “stage-managed.”
In the following passage Pavliukov quotes some words of Radek’s directly.
In the event of war between Germany and the Soviet Union upon which,
according to Radek’s words, Trotsky laid great hopes, “the Trotskyist
commanders could even use certain individual defeats in battle as proof of the
supposedly incorrect policy of the Central Committee of the AUCP(b) and in
general of the senselessness and ruinous nature of the given war. They – Radek
continued to fantasize – using such failures and the exhaustion of the Red Army
soldiers, might even call upon them to abandon the front and turn their weapons
against the government. That might give the German Army the possibility of
occupying the abandoned areas and create a real threat of a crushing defeat of the
whole front.” Under these conditions the conspirators, relying upon those parts of
the Army commanded by the Trotskyist commanders, might obtatin a real chance
to carry out a seizure of power in the country. (Pavliukov 236-7)
This passage is congruent with the testimony of some of the military figures who
asserted that they were in collaboration with both Trotsky and the Germans. We will
examine that testimony below. It is also broadly consistent with what Piatakov testified at
the January 1937 trial (see above).
Pavliukov also summarizes a confession of Radek’s in the archives and dated two
days later, on December 22, 1936 that concerns Trotsky.

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The ultimate completion of the story with Trotsky’s sellout of his former country
occurred in Radek’s confession of December 22, 1936. “As it turned out,” the
supposed meeting between Pyatakov and Trotsky in Norway was caused by the
necessity to discuss a letter that had been received the evening before from
Trotsky, in which the latter set forth his plans on the questions of the activity of
the Trotskyist-Zinovievist bloc on foreign matters.
This letter, according to Radek, pointed out the desirability of the seizure
of power even before the start of the impending war, and for this it would be
essential to activate terrorist activity against the leaders of the Soviet
government. For the normalization of relations with Germany it was considered
expedient to agree to permit Germany to take part in the exploitation of areas of
useful ores on the territory of the USSR and to guarantee the provision of
foodstuffs and fats at less than world prices. As for Japan, the letter supposedly
said that it would be necessary to give it access to Sakhalin oil, and to guarantee
additional access to oil in the event of war with America, and also to permit it
access to the exploitation of Soviet gold-producing areas. Besides that it followed
that they ought not to hinder the German seizure of the Danubian and Balkan
countries and not to interfere with Japan’s seizure of China.
If they did not succeed in taking power before the war this goal might be
attainable, in Trotsky’s opinion (in Radek’s exposition), as a result of a military
defeat of the USSR, for which it was essential to energetically prepare. Active
sabotage activities before and during the war would, besides weakening the
defensive potential of the Soviet Union, demonstrate the real strength of the
Trotskyist-Zinovievist bloc and facilitate postwar negotiations with Germany,
which was not of small importance, since in the event the conspirators came to
power as a result of a crushing defeat of the USSR, it would not be possible to
manage with the concessions of peacetime. In that case they would have to yield
to the Germans obligations for the purchase of German goods for a long period of
time, etc. In order that this scheme, attributed to the professional revolutionary
Trotsky, would not look altogether too clumsy, Radek supplied it with arguments
according to which Trotsky supposedly relied upon in developing all these
defeatist plans. Afterwards, as a result of the strengthening of Germany and
Japan (although at the expense of the USSR), would begin the unavoidable war
between the imperialist powers, as it was supposedly set forth in Trotsky’s letter,

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it could be possible to go once again on the counter-offensive, since the
consequences of this war would facilitate the reappearance in the world of a new
revolutionary situation.
This is the message supposedly received by Radek at the end of 1935
that stimulated Pyatakov to set out as soon as he could to consult with Trotsky in
person. Radek confirmed Pyatakov’s confession about this meeting and filled
them out with new details that Pyatakov had supposedly shared with him after his
return to Moscow. It turned out that Trotsky had promised the Germans that
during war between Germany and the USSR the Trotskyist commanders at the
front would act according to the direct orders of the German General Staff, and
after the war the new government would compensate Germany for part of its
military expenses by paying with goods that were essential for its military
industries.
At the same time Trotsky strove to avoid too great a dependence on
Germany and Japan and was supposedly carrying on negotiations with the
English and French too. As a result of the meetings that had taken place with
representatives of Germany, England and France an agreement had been drafted
that foresaw that, in the event the Trotskyists came to power, England and France
would also not lose by it, to which Germany graciously acceded. The French
were promised a benevolent regard to their attempts to obtain the return of their
prerevolutionary debts to Russia and their pretensions to the metallurgical
industry of the Donbas, and the English – consideration of their interests in the
Caucasus.
After the war, in accordance with the plans attributed to Trotsky, there
would be established in the Soviet Union the same kind of social-economic
system as in the other countries of Europe and, of course, the Comintern would
be disbanded. (Pavliukov 239-240)
Pavliukov and The 1937 Trial Transcript Compared
This summary of Radek’s confession of December 22, 1936 is consistent with
Radek’s testimony at the January 1937 trial. In fact Vyshinsky read a brief quotation
from this very confession in his opening statement at the trial:

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For example, the accused Radek, confirming Pyatakov’s testimony, testified
during examination on December 22, 1936, that one of the points of the
agreement reached between Trotsky and the representatives of the German
National-Socialist Party was the obligation
“. . . during Germany’s war against the U.S.S.R. . . . to adopt a defeatist
position, to intensify diversive activities, particularly in enterprises of
military importance … to act on Trotsky’s instructions agreed upon with
the German General Staff.” (Vol. V, p. 152) (1937 Trial 10-11)
Pavliukov’s summary of Radek’s confession also contains some details that did
not come out at the trial. For instance, according to the published trial transcript Radek
did not accuse Trotsky during the Trial of planning to accommodate the powerful
imperialist countries by dissolving or banishing the Comintern. In this unpublished
confession Radek stresses that “Trotskyist military commanders” would be working
directly with the German general staff to take advantage of defeat in war with Germany.
According to the transcript Radek said nothing about this at the trial.
The Russian language transcript is far shorter than the English version, which was
evidently published later in the year, after the arrest and execution of Tukhachevsky and
the other military conspirators. Putna and Primakov, both well-known Trotskyists, were
under arrest at the time of the trial. Putna, military attaché to Great Britain, had been
recalled and arrested on August 20, 1936. Primakov had been arrested a few days earlier.
Putna is mentioned in the trial transcripts in a general manner, as a military commander
who did have contact with the German general staff. Both the Russian and the English
transcripts record the following passage in Radek’s interrogations:
And, finally, after receiving Trotsky’s directives in 1934, I sent him the reply of
the centre, and added in my own name that I agreed that the ground should be
sounded, but that he should not bind himself, because the situation might change.
I suggested that the negotiations should be conducted by Putna, who had
connections with leading Japanese and German military circles. And Trotsky
replied [to me – Russian only, GF]: “We shall not bind ourselves without your
knowledge, we shall make no decisions.” For a whole year he was silent. And at
the end of that year he confronted us with the accomplished fact of his

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agreement. You will understand that it was not any virtue on my part that I
rebelled against this. But it is a fact for you to understand. (Russian transcript
p. 226; English transcript p. 545)
In the English version the following passage also occurs, which is omitted
altogether in the much shorter Russian version:
Radek: In 1935. But notwithstanding this, we decided to call a conference. And
before this – in January, when I arrived – Vitaly Putna came to see me with some
request from Tukhachevsky. I said: “This is no way for a leader [Trotsky – GF]
to act. There has been no news of this man for six months. Get hold of him, dead
or alive.” Putna promised. But when I received no answer from Putna, . . . (105)
Vyshinsky then reprises this passage a little later, again only in the English transcript:
Vyshinsky: Accused Radek, in your testimony you said: “In 1935 . . . we
resolved to call a conference, but before this, in January, when I arrived, Vitaly
Putna came to me with a request from Tukhachevsky. . . .” I want to know in
what connection you mention Tukhachevsky’s name.
Radek: Tukhachevsky had been commissioned by the government with some
task for which he could not find the necessary material. I alone was in possession
of this material. He rang me up and asked if I had this material. I had it, and he
accordingly sent Putnam, with whom he had to discharge this commission, to get
this material from me. Of course, Tukhachevsky had no idea either of Putna’s
role or of my criminal role. . . .
Vyshinsky: And Putna?
Radek: He was a member of the organization. . . .
Vyshinsky: Do I understand you correctly, that Putna had dealings with the
members of your Trotskyite underground organization, and that your reference to
Tukhachevsky was made in connection with the fact that Putna came on official
business on Tukhachevsky’s orders?
Radek: I confirm that, and I say that I never had and could not have had any
dealings with Tukhachevsky connected with counter-revolutionary activities,

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because I knew Tukhachevsky’s attitude to the Party and the government to be
that of an absolutely devoted man. (146)
Assessing This Evidence
The Russian version does not mention Putna as a member of the Trotskyite
organization, while the English transcript makes it clear that he was. Tukhachevsky is not
even mentioned in the Russian, while in the English version Radek appears to go out of
his way to declare Tukhachevsky innocent entirely. One possible explanation is that the
English translation was only prepared later in 1937 after the arrests of the leading
Tukhachevsky Affair defendants. The discovery of the military conspiracy was far more
grave in its potential consequences than the uncovering of the continuing activities of the
high-ranking Bolsheviks who testified at the January 1937 trial, serious as this was.
According to this logic the shorter Russian transcript may have been prepared soon after
the trial. Subsequently it was severely edited in order to give the gist of the trial
testimony while not disclosing allegations against others still under investigation,
including the military men. The much longer English transcript might then have been
prepared later in the year, with much more detail to show the conspiratorial links to the
Tukhachevsky defendants and with a view to influencing foreign opinion. The more
information, the more credible the charges – so the logic of the Soviet government may
have run. Such a consideration may also account for the fact that both the Russian and
English transcripts of the March 1938 “Bukharin-Rykov” trial were huge, more than
three times the length of the Russian version of the 1937 trial, and that the Russian
transcript contained more detail than the English rather than less, as in the case of the
1937 trial transcript.
Whatever the reasons, the differences we can now discern between Radek’s
unpublished confessions and his testimony at the trial argue in favor of the genuineness
of those confessions. Why go to all the trouble to fabricate confessions that implicate the
military, and charge Trotsky with agreeing to destroy the Comintern, and then omit them
at the public trial?
Of course we have no evidence that any of the trial testimony was “fabricated” in
advance anyway. Pavliukov states and restates his skepticism concerning the materials he

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quotes. But why bother to quote them all without comment or analysis if they are all lies?
Pavliukov can’t bring himself to take either position consistently.
Ezhov’s Confessions
Pavliukov never quite brings himself to state that Ezhov was guilty. Neither does
he make any overt claim that his confessions were fraudulent – the result of torture or
other compulsion. But if Ezhov were in fact guilty then his confessions were, in the main
at least, accurate.
Later in his book, when he discusses how Ezhov retracted all of his many detailed
confessions at his trial, Pavliukov suggests that he may have done this in order to delay
his execution a day or two by complicating matters. It seems that Pavliukov also could
not bring himself to accept the “canonical” viewpoint that all of Ezhov’s confessions
were false and that he was innocent of all the crimes to which he confessed, including
collaboration with the Germans. And Ezhov’s execution was in fact delayed by two days,
so Pavliukov’s hypothesis makes sense.
We need to pause to consider the implications of Pavliukov’s position.
Throughout his book Pavliukov expresses skepticism about the truth of Ezhov’s
confessions. He does report that Ezhov confirmed all of them when he was given the
indictment and all the volumes of his investigation file:
The last interrogation took place January 31 [1940] and on the very next day
A.A. Esaulov, assistant chief of the Investigative section of the NKVD of the
USSR reported the conclusion of the investigation. Ezhov was presented with the
12 volumes of his criminal case file for his study. He read it through and then
declared that he confirmed all the confessions that he had given during the
preliminary investigation and had no additions to make. (529)
Two days later Ezhov allegedly told his successor as head of the NKVD Lavrenty
Beria that all of his confessions were “imagined 100%” and denied all the charges against
him. Thereupon Ezhov’s former “zam” (vice-commissar) at the NKVD Mikhail
Frinovsky was called to testify against Ezhov. Frinovsky confirmed everything he knew
about his and Ezhov’s conspiracies.

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Pavliukov shows no skepticism towards Frinovsky’s testimony. As we have seen,
one detailed confession of Frinovsky’s has now been published, and it implicates Ezhov.
Pavliukov opines that Ezhov retracted all his pretrial confessions simply to postpone the
inevitable trial and execution, if possible (530). His only evidence for this surmise is that
Ezhov was inexplicably not executed on the day of his trial, February 4, 1940, but two
days later on February 6. However that may be, for our purposes the point is as follows:
Pavliukov never suggests that Ezhov’s retraction and statement at trial, during which he
claimed he was innocent of wrongdoing, was true. Nor, interestingly, did Ezhov claim he
had been tortured into making false statements.
The implications of the confessions of Ezhov, Frinovsky, and other NKVD men
are enormous. They are utterly incompatible with the present “Cold War” or “anti-Stalin”
paradigm of Soviet history. To take just one example: in his “Secret Speech” at the 20th
Party Congress Khrushchev blamed Ezhov for repressions – but only as Stalin’s tool. Yet
three weeks before, on February 1 1956, Khrushchev had said at a meeting to plan his
speech “Ezhov, no doubt, was an honest man, not to blame” (RKEB 1 308). Khrushchev
seems to have realized that to accept the story of Ezhov’s conspiracy was to exculpate
Stalin from direct responsibility for the massive repressions. Pavliukov’s acceptance of
Ezhov’s confessions has the same effect.
Ezhov’s confessions were made in secret, never intended for publication. It
appears that they were genuine. Pavliukov treats them as such. He also treats Radek’s
secret confessions as though they too were genuine. In Ezhov’s case the accused (Ezhov)
confirmed his confessions right up to the moment of trial, and then retracted them all, yet
he was still convicted, evidently on two bases: (a) Frinovsky’s accusations against him
(there may have been other testimony against him as well); and (b) the testimony of all of
his previous interrogations and confessions, plus all the other testimony given against
him by others during the proceedings.
Ezhov gave many detailed confessions and confirmed them all before trial, while
at the trial itself he retracted everything. Pavliukov carefully reports and summarizes
Ezhov’s pretrial confessions. Pavliukov also reports Ezhov’s recantation at trial but does
not accept it as truthful. Radek, in contrast, confessed both before trial and at trial, so

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there is even less reason to question the truthfulness of Radek’s confessions than there is
to question Ezhov’s.
Dimitrov’s Diary
In 2003 the diary of Georgi Dimitrov, head of the Comintern after 1935 and close
associate of Stalin’s, was published. Dimitrov met frequently with Stalin and other
Bolshevik leaders, and his diary contains many important passages and statements by
Stalin and others. On December 16 1936 Dimitrov met in the Kremlin with Stalin and
four of his closest associates, Molotov, Kaganovich, Voroshilov and Ordzhonikidze.
During this meeting they received a report about an interrogation of Sokol’nikov of
December 12, a few days before. Here is what Dimitrov wrote, with the phrases of
special interest to our present investigation in boldface:
16 December 1936
– With “the Five” in the Kremlin
(Stal[in], Molot[ov], Kag[anovich], Vor[oshilov], Ordzhonikidze).
Exchange of opinions of Ch[inese] events. . . .
– On the French question: . . .
– From the investigation of Piatakov, Sokolnikov, Radek, and others:
Interrogation of Sokolnikov, 12 December 1936:
Question: Thus, the investigation concludes that Trotsky abroad and the
center of the bloc within the USSR entered into negotiations with the
Hitlerite and Japanese governments with the following aims:
First, to provoke a war by Germany and Japan against the USSR;
Second, to promote the defeat of the USSR in that war and to take
advantage of that defeat to achieve the transfer of power in the USSR to
[their] government bloc;
Third, on behalf of the future bloc government to guarantee territorial and
economic concessions to the Hitlerite and Japanese governments.
Do you confirm this?
Reply: Yes, I confirm it.
Question: Do you admit that this activity by the bloc is tantamount to outright
treason against the motherland?

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Reply: Yes, I admit it.
(Dimitrov 42-43; emphasis added)
Analysis
This meeting can be confirmed in the schedule of visitors to Stalin’s office for
December 16, 1936.53 The four Politburo members named by Dimitrov are recorded as
entering Stalin’s office at 1905 hrs, fifteen minutes before Dimitrov entered along with
Manuilsky, who was a Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Comintern and head
of the Soviet delegation to it, while Dimitrov himself was General Secretary of the
Executive Committee of the Comintern. Dimitrov and Manuilsky stayed for fifty
minutes. The two Comintern leaders were obviously there to discuss Comintern –
international – matters. Sokolnikov’s testimony was relevant to their concerns.
Dimitrov heard this at a meeting of political leaders of the highest level, including Stalin
himself. There is no indication that Stalin – he would be the only person who might be
able to get away with such a thing – “staged” this meeting for Dimitrov’s benefit.
Dimitrov, a staunch supporter of Stalin and the Soviet Union, did not need reassurance or
“shoring up.” And Dimitrov wrote this in his private diary, only recently published
because of the demise of the Soviet bloc.
Therefore this entry is similar to the signatures of Stalin et al. on the Trotsky
telegram six months later. It is an excellent gauge of what Stalin and top Soviet leaders
believed at the time. This is significant because they had access to all the evidence,
including a huge amount that is still secret.
Was Stalin “Lying”?
It is often asserted by Cold War historians that Stalin was a “liar” so that nothing
he wrote should be “believed.” Therefore – this logic might go – we should not “believe”
him, in this case, in the case of the Trotsky telegram, the comments he wrote on
statements and confessions – ever.
But this reasoning is all wrong. There is no reason to view Stalin as a “liar” any
more than any other political figure. In the course of our research over the past decade we
53 “Posetiteli kremlevskogo kabineta I.V. Stalina.” Istoricheskii Arkhiv 4 (1995), 35.

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have found no examples of Stalin’s “lying,” aside from the Katyn issue – and there is a
huge political dispute about that question which we will not broach here and now. For
what it is worth, Katyn was a very different situation, allegedly involving lying to foreign
powers, a common practice among all governments at all times.
In any case lying is a universal human trait. Everybody lies – but nobody lies all
the time. Therefore, the fact that someone lied in one case or other is not evidence that
they lied at another time. There’s no reason to think that Stalin was lying here to
Dimitrov and Manuilsky, in his words on Trotsky’s telegram, or at any other time unless
there is specific evidence that he was. This is, of course, true for anyone, not just for
Stalin. There is no such thing as an historical figure “who can be trusted,” or one “who
can never be trusted.”
Finally, no evidence is to be “believed” or “disbelieved” in any case. All evidence
must be be analyzed carefully, including in context with other evidence.
S.M. Uritsky  Only a tiny proportion of all the investigative materials from the 1930s have been
made available to researchers and only a small part of that has been published.
Occasionally a privileged researcher is permitted to read and quote from some
investigative files to which no one else has been given access. Normally these are
researchers who promote the “official” Russian government position, which corresponds
to the Khrushchev, Cold War, Gorbachev, and Trotskyist positions that all those
convicted in the Moscow Trials, the Military Purges, plus many others, were completely
innocent.
Such a researcher is Col. Nikolai S. Cherushev, author of a number of books
arguing that no military conspiracies ever existed and, by extension, no other conspiracies
could have existed either. Cherushev has been permitted to see and to quote liberally
from investigative files of many military men that no one else has seen – or, at least, that
no one else has published about.
One of these files is that of Komkor54 S.M. Uritsky. In Uritsky’s indictment we
read the following:
In the extremely exhaustive text of the sentence by the Military Collegium in the
case of S.P. Uritsky of August 1, 1938 we read:
– on the order of Gamarnik, Pyatakov, Iakir and Tukhachevsky Uritsky
transmitted their letters to Sedov to be passed to Trotsky;
– was connected to the Trotskyist group of Souvarine in Paris, through
which he passed espionage materials from Tukhachevsky for French
intelligence. (Cherushev 1937, 179)
Analysis
We know from other evidence that these men were involved directly with Trotsky.
As Gamarnik, Iakir and Tukhachevsky were also involved in military collaboration with
Germany it is safe to assume that Uritsky’s contact with Trotsky had something to do
with at least Germany as well. However, given Cherushev’s wording here we can’t be
sure that Uritsky did confess to direct contact with Trotsky. We can only be certain that
the court found him guilty of doing so.
In a short fragment from one of Uritsky’s statements to the NKVD he said that he
would make a clean breast of everything. So it appears that this high-ranking military
officer confessed to sending messages from Gamarnik, Piatakov, Iakir and Tukhachevsky
to Trotsky via Sedov.
All Cherushev’s works are devoted to the predetermined conclusion that no
military conspiracy existed at all. That might explain why he has the access he does to
investigative files to which no one else has been admitted: he can be trusted not to
question the “canonical” viewpoint. Nevertheless Cherushev cites the following direct
quotation from Uritsky’s pen. On April 14, 1938 after referring to their “long-standing
friendship” – a phrase not further explained – Uritsky wrote to NKVD officer Veniamin
S. Agas: 54 Corps Commander, equivalent to a two-star general in the US military. See Iurii Beremeev,Anatomiia
Armii. Cited at <http://army.armor.kiev.ua/index.html&gt;.

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I have been feeling poorly in recent days, no bladder control, bloody vomiting,
unable to think, if possible let me have a day’s respite, [then] summon me, I will
report to you, and then I will write everything completely. I wish to turn myself
into the kind of arrestee who helps the authorities, I wish to earn the mercy of
Soviet authority. As Cherushev notes, this confirms that Uritsky was ill. But it contains no accusation of
torture or mistreatment. Far from being a profession of innocence it is, on the contrary, an
admission of guilt. Personal contact with Trotsky or, as here, to claim that one had such personal
contact, was highly unusual. The NKVD had no need to fabricate such a detail simply in
order to frame an innocent man. On the contrary: it would have made Uritsky’s
confession stand out from most others, perhaps leading to an interview with a Politburo
member or Stalin himself. That would put things out of Ezhov’s control, because the
arrestee might say that his testimony had been coerced. We know that Politburo members
did interview some arrestees. So we can’t just assume that Uritsky’s confession was
coerced. It may well have been genuine, and at this time we have no reason to doubt that
it was.
Ezhov’s second in command Mikhail Frinovsky identified Agas as one of
Ezhov’s “bone-breakers,” skilled in beating defendants and in fabricating convincing
confessions. But this does not mean that all defendants were beaten into false confessions
either. It ought to remind us that no individual piece of evidence can by itself be decisive,
because every piece of evidence is subject to multiple possible explanations or
interpretations. It is only when the whole complex of circumstantial evidence is
consistent with one conclusion that that conclusion becomes highly probable.
Ia. A. Iakovlev’s Confession of October 1937
Among the documents from former Soviet archives that have been recently
published one of the most significant for our purposes is the lengthy interrogation of Ia. A.
Iakovlev. Iakovlev had been People’s Commissar for Agriculture during the
collectivization period of the early 1930s. In 1937 he was a prominent member of the
Central Committee. Iakovlev also held a number of other very responsible posts: head of

Grover Furr
Copyright © 2009 by Grover Furr and Cultural Logic, ISSN 1097-3087
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the agricultural section of the C.C., and first assistant to the chairman of the Party Control
Commission but in reality its head since Ezhov, its formal head, was spending full time
as Commissar of the NKVD. Since August 11, 1936 Iakovlev had been a member of the
secretariat for the first draft of the program of the VKP(b), the Bolshevik Party.
Iakovlev was arrested on October 12, 1937. On October 15-18 he confessed that
in 1923 Trotsky had asked him to be a Trotskyist “sleeper” in the Party – to go
underground, cease all contact with any Trotskyists, and climb into responsible Party
positions.
Trotsky had already at that time posed the question in this context, that he should
have his own agents in the Party leadership at the necessary time who could pass
information to him and collaborate in his seizure of power. (Lubianka B 388)
A few pages further in his interrogation-confession Iakovlev outlines how he was
recruited by German intelligence in 1935 in Berlin. According to Iakovlev a German
agent named Shmuke55 recruited him into cooperation on two bases. First Shmuke told
Iakovlev that he knew from Russian émigrés in Germany that Iakovlev had collaborated
with the Russian Tsarist Okhrana, or secret police, towards the end of 1916 in Petrograd.
Shmuke used this information to blackmail Iakovlev by threatening to expose his
collaboration.
Once in the Bolshevik Party and after the Revolution a confession of
collaboration, even at a vulnerable early age, would destroy one’s Party career. Hiding
such a connection could be much worse because it suggested that such a person was
completely untrustworthy and might still be some kind of clandestine agent or other. A
Party member was not supposed to have any secrets – certainly not of any kind of
political relevance – from the Party. Moreover, it made one vulnerable to blackmail and
so an additional security risk. Shmuke also claimed to know about Iakovlev’s participation in the Trotskyist
underground from Trotsky himself. When Iakovlev pretended not to understand the
German agent’s hints, Shmuke persisted:  55 Presumably “Schmucke” in German.

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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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