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

At last he told me with special emphasis: “Your main leader L. TROTSKY is
acting in full contact and on the basis of mutual benefit with the new
Germany.” . . . Although they could inform on him to the Soviet authorities at
any moment, SHMUKE said that they did not wish to do that because they were
hoping to establish the same kind of contacts with me as they had with
TROTSKY. . . . Faced with this fact, and realizing that the Germans were fully
informed about me, I decided to agree with SHMUKE’S proposal, all the more
since SHMUKE’S information about TROTSKY’S connections with Germany
completely corresponded with what PIATAKOV had said to me and what
TROTSKY had written. . . . Considering the matter more thoroughly, I decided
that if possible I would sell my collaboration to the Germans more dearly, first of
all to obtain from German intelligence corresponding possibilities for foreign
connections for our organization and, in the first place, with TROTSKY, and also
to increase my importance in the eyes of the German government. (Lubianka B
Assessing Iakovlev’s Confession: Stalin’s Annotations
The following document in this volume is a copy of Stalin’s handwritten
1) Did he know about Vareikis’ service with the Tsarist secret police
2) His opinion about Mikhailov from Voronezh and his participation in
the c.-r. org. [counter-revolutionary organization – GF].
3) His contact with Trotsky (did he see him personally in 1935 or in
4) How did he want to use MOPR? Whom in MOPR did he make use of?
[MOPR = Mezhdunarodne Obshchestvo Pomoshchi Revoiutsioneram,
International Organization for Aid to Revolutionaries, the Soviets’ organization
to give help to revolutionaries in fascist countries where communist parties were
illegal and subject to severe repression. – GF]

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5) “Turn” Iakovlev’s wife: he is a conspirator and she must tell us
everything. Ask her about Stasova, Kirsanova,56 and other friends –
acquaintances of hers. (Lubianka B 396)57
Stalin’s handwritten comments on this confession show that he believed this
confession of Iakovlev’s was true and suggested further lines of investigation following
from it. No reasonable reading of the evidence would suggest that Stalin had Iakovlev
framed and then carried on a charade by annotating the confession and asking for
Iakovlev’s wife, also a Party member, to be brought in for questioning about his activities.
Stalin’s remarks on Iakovlev’s interrogation-confession, quoted above, are dated
“no later than October 20, 1937” (Lubianka B No. 227 p. 396). Iakovlev’s wife Elena
Kirillovna Sokolovskaia was arrested on October 12, 1937. On October 17 she was
interrogated and confessed to knowledge of her husband’s Trotskyist activities (Lubianka
B No. 229 pp. 398-9). But she was to face far more serious charges. By April 1938 at
least one of her coworkers in Mosfilm had named her as the leader of a clandestine
Trotskyist group in that organization (Lubianka B No. 323 p. 529). Sokolovskaia was
convicted and shot on August 30, 1938.
Both Stasova and Kirsanova, both prominent Old Bolsheviks, must have been
investigated. On November 11 1937 Stalin privately told Dimitrov:
We shall probably arrest Stasova, too. Turned out she’s scum. Kirsanova is very
closely involved with Yakovlev. She’s scum.” (Dimitrov 69)
56 The “Stasova” referred to must be Elena Stasova. One of the earliest Bolsheviks, having joined in 1898,
the same year as Stalin, she had long been working in the Comintern. Also an Old Bolshevik and
participant in the Revolution of 1917 K.I. Kirsanova, wife of famous Old Bolshevik Emelian Iaroslavskii,
worked with Stasova and others in the Comintern. She published books on women under socialism.
In the following photograph of 1936 Kirsanova is second from left, Stasova third from left:
<http://tinyurl.com/kirsanova-stasova&gt;. Autobiographical sketches of both are included in Zhenshchiny
russkoi revoliutsii (“Women of the Russian Revolution,” Moscow: Politizdat, 1982) along with materials
about Inessa Armand, Lenin’s wife Krupskaia, Lenin’s sisters, and others. Kirsvanova died in 1947 as a
lecturer in the Central Committee school (<http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/()*+,-.+/#0,_123,&4%_
5#6-0,*.#7>). Stasova continued to hold another high Comintern position until the Comintern’s
dissolution in 1943. She died in 1966 (<http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/”8-+*.-,_1,3%-_ 92#8)#3.%->.
57 Now also at the “Memorial” site at <http://www.alexanderyakovlev.org/fond/issues-doc/61209&gt;.

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On November 16 1937 Dimitrov noted “Resolution on the dismissals of
Kirsanova and Stasova.” In Stasova’s case this meant dismissal from her post as Vice-
Chairman of the Executive Committee of MOPR and Chair of the Central Committee of
the Soviet MOPR.
Yet neither Stasova nor Kirsanova was arrested, much less repressed. This can
only mean that Stalin’s serious suspicions against them were not borne out by
investigation. The investigation into their cases must have been an objective one, rather
than a frameup or one that simply aimed to invent “evidence” to sustain Stalin’s
suspicions. And that not only suggests that the investigations of at least some prominent
Bolsheviks were carried out in a proper manner. It means that whatever his suspicions
Stalin wanted to know the truth.
The lists of those who met with Stalin in his office from the early 1930s until his
death have been published. We now know that Iakovlev met in Stalin’s office with
members of Stalin’s groups of supporters in the Politburo on the evening of October 11,
1937.58 Thereafter he disappears from the political record. According to one source
Iakovlev was arrested the next day, October 12.59 According to the header of the
interrogation transcript, dated October 15-18, 1937 Iakovlev had already made a
statement of confession on October 14.
Iakovlev had been very close to Stalin. Together with Stalin and two others60
Iakovlev was one of the principal authors of the new 1936 Constitution. He had worked
closely with Stalin on this, Stalin’s pet project. This meant that Iakovlev was one of the
very highest members of the Soviet government and Bolshevik Party outside the ranks of
the Politburo itself.
Stalin and his supporters wanted contested elections to the Soviet government.
The Party First Secretaries opposed contested elections. Iurii Zhukov has followed the
58 “Posetiteli kremlevskogo kabineta I.V. Stalin,” Istoricheskii Arkhiv 4 (1995), 66-67. A facsimile of the
archival document itself may be viewed online at <http://chss.montclair.edu/english/furr/research/
59 “Iakovlev (Epshtein) Iakov Arkad’evich. Biograficheskii Ukazatel.’” Hrono.ru. At
<http://www.hrono.ru/biograf/yakovlev_ya.html&gt;. The CC Plenum Decree on the removal of Iakovlev and
others from CC membership (Lubianka B, No. 262) is dated December 4-8 by the editors.
60 A.I. Stetsky and B.M. Tal’.

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struggle over this issue through the archival evidence. This struggle for contested
elections was finally lost during the October 1937 Central Committee Plenum.61
Assessing Iakovlev’s Confession: The 1938 Moscow Trial
In the note to Iakovlev’s confession Stalin suggested that I. M. Vareikis had also
been involved with the Tsarist secret police. Like Iakovlev (born 1896), Vareikis (born
1894) was a young man during the First World War. He had been arrested on October 10,
just two days before Iakovlev. Perhaps it was Vareikis who named Iakovlev. Iakovlev did
name Vareikis in his own confession.
Both Vareikis and Iakovlev were named as active underground Trotskyists by
defendants in the Mardh 1938 Moscow Trial. Defendant Grin’ko testified about
Iakovlev’s active role in the conspiracy. He evidently regarded Iakovlev as one of the
leaders of the “terrorist” activity and suggested Iakovlev was in touch with Trotsky.62
In the event of success the organization intended to set up a bourgeois
Ukrainian state after the type of the fascist state.
About this character of the organization I told a prominent member of the
Right and Trotskyite conspiracy, Yakovlev. In the Right and Trotskyite circles
with whom I had occasion to speak, this tendency to transform our organization
into a fascist type of organization undoubtedly existed. (1938 Trial 71)
By “fascist” – earlier in his testimony he had called it “national-fascist”– Grin’ko
meant that the Ukrainian Nationalist organizations outside the Soviet Union had become
organized in a fascist manner and under either German or Polish nationalist leadership.
The fascist nature of Ukrainian nationalism during the interwar period has long been
61 For a discussion of Stalin’s struggle in favor of contested elections (as stipulated in the 1936
Constitution), Stalin’s final defeat, and many specific references to the research of Iurii Zhukov and others,
see Grover Furr, “Stalin and the Struggle for Democratic Reform,” Parts One and Two, in Cultural Logic
2005, <http://closic.eserver.org/2005/2005.html&gt;.
62 According to a “Memorial Society” source Grin’ko and the Iakovlevs were neighbors in the apartment
building at number 3 Romanov pereulok (=lane) in Moscow. Piatakov too had lived next door to the
Iakovlevs. See <http://mos.memo.ru/shot-52.htm&gt;.
63 See Alexander J. Motyl. The Turn To The Right: The Ideological Origins And Development Of
Ukrainian Nationalism, 1919-1929. Boulder, CO / New York: East European Quarterly / Columbia

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GRINKO: Gradually extending my connections with the Right and Trotskyite
centre, and having ascertained who belonged to it, I at the beginnning of 1934
formed an opinion of what the “Right and Trotskyite centre” was.
From a number of conversations and connections, and the tasks I received from
Rykov, Bukharin, Gamarnik, Rosengoltz, Yakovlev, Antipov, Rudzutak,
Yagoda, Vareikis, and a number of other persons, it became clear to me that at
that time the “Right and Trotskyite center” based itself mainly on the military aid
of aggressors. (76)
. . .
VYSHINSKY: Tell us about the terrorist activities.
GRINKO: At that period terrorist activities were one of the main weapons in the
common arsenal of struggle against the Soviet power.
VYSHINSKY: From whom did you learn this?
GRINKO: From Rykov, Yakovlev, Gamarnik and Pyatakov.
. . .
VYSHINSKY: Where did this terrorist link emanate from?
GRINKO: From Trotsky. I learned this from Gamarnik. (77)
. . .
In carrying out the sabotage measures and sabotage instructions in the financing
of agriculture, no little assistance was rendered by Rudzutak, who was in charge
of financial affairs in the Council of People’s Commissars, and by Yakovlev.
There would seem to be little point in “coordinating” confessions at the public
March 1938 trial with a confession – Iakovlev’s – that was secret and never intended to
be published at all. Iakovlev’s and Grin’ko’s confessions corroborate each other.
Interrogations of Nikolai I. Vavilov
We have further evidence concerning Iakovlev from the investigative materials of
Nikolai I. Vavilov, a prominent Soviet biologist who was arrested, tried and imprisoned
in 1940 for his clandestine participation in an anti-Soviet conspiracy in the early 1930s.
University Press, 1980; John A. Armstrong. Ukrainian Nationalism. New York: Columbia University
Press, 1963.

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Best known for his feud with Trofim Lysenko and as a champion of Mendelian genetics
Vavilov’s reputation as a scientist was high in his own day and has increased since. It
was long assumed that his arrest and conviction was really a screen for repressing his
scientific view. According to archival evidence released since the end of the USSR this
appears not to have been the case.
Like Iakovlev, Vavilov has long since been “rehabilitated.” However, that does
not mean that he was not guilty or that his confessions have been refuted. In them he
implicated Iakovlev.
Question: You have been arrested as an active participant of an antisoviet
organization and as an agent of foreign intelligence services. Do you admit your
guilt to these charges?
Answer: I admit myself guilty in that since 1930 I have been a member of
an antisoviet ogranization of Rightists that existed in the system of the People’s
Commissariat of Agriculture of the USSR. I do not confess myself guilty of
Question: Bear in mind that you will not succeed in keeping your
espionage activity hidden and that the investigation will interrogate you about it,
but for now confess with whom you have been connected in the antisoviet work.
Answer: In antisoviet work I have been connected with the following
persons: Yakovlev, former People’s Commissar for Agriculture, Chernov, former
People’s Commissar for Agriculture, Eikhe, former People’s Commissar for
Agriculture, Muralov, former vice-Commissar for Agriculture, Gaister, former
vice-Commissar for Agriculture. . . . (Transcript of the interrogation of the
arrestee Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov of August 24 1940; Vavilov 269-70)
Vavilov made a differentiated confession. Accused of having spied for foreign
intelligence services, he refused to admit it. But he did admit participating in a Rightist
anti-Soviet organization within the People’s Commissariat of Agriculture throughout the
tenures of five commissars. The fact that Vavilov confessed to one capital charge while
refusing to confess to another makes his confession appear more reliable. The most likely
explanation for such a confession is the desire to tell the truth.

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The commissars he names as Rightist conspirators include Iakovlev and Eikhe.
Eikhe too was executed for massive illegal executions and repressions in collaboration
with Ezhov.
Question: You have admitted your guilt in that from 1930 you have been
a participant in an antisoviet organization of Rightists that has existed in the
system of the People’s Commissariat of Agriculture of the USSR.
Tell us by whom and under what circumstances you were recruited into
the aforesaid organization.
Answer: I was recruited to the antisoviet organization by the former
People’s Commissar for Agriculture of the USSR YAKOVLEV Yakov
Arkad’evich in 1930. The process of recruitment took place through my
receiving, directly from YAKOVLEV, and also from him via GAISTER Aron
Izreailovich – former vice-president of the agricultural academy and WOLF
Moisei Mikhailovich – second vice-president of the agricultural academic –
obvious orders for sabotage, which I carried out in the agricultural academy and
in the Institute of Plant Development.64
Question: It is not clear why YAKOVLEV recruited you to the antisoviet
organization. What was his basis for doing this?
Answer: During the process of my carrying out YAKOVLEV’s
directives he became aware of my antisoviet sentiments which, at the beginning,
were most clearly expressed in the high evaluation that I gave to American and
Western European agricultural methods and my emphasizing their superiority in
comparison with the development of agriculture in the Soviet Union.
(Vavilov 271-2)
Unquestionably it was also the fact that I carried out every assignment
given me by YAKOVLEV that facilitated my being drawn into the antisoviet
Question: And in what form was your conversation with YAKOVLEV
concerning your participation in the antisoviet organization of Rightists?
Answer: There was no direct conversation about this. I understood him
by the obvious assignments of sabotage that I received from YAKOVLEV.
64 Vavilov has long since been “rehabilitated” and this Institute, still in existence in Russia, is named in his

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Question: Why do you conclude that it was precisely YAKOVLEV who
recruited you to the antisoviet organization of Rightists?
Answer: I conclude that because it was precisly from this period – my
carrying out YAKOVLEV’s directives, that my obvious work of sabotage begins
in the organization of science and in that of plant culture in the sense of justifying
plant culture projects.
Question: You have confessed that you were recruited to the antisoviet
organization of Rightists by YAKOVLEV and at the same time declare that you
never had any direct conversation with YAKOVLEV about this organization.
You are either confusing or simply do not wish to say that even before your
introduction into the organization of Rightists – you were one of the ideologues
and leaders of the antisoviet organization about which you are now remaining
silent. (Vavilov 273-4)
In these passages Vavilov claims that he collaborated in Iakovlev’s Rightist
organization without having been specifically recruited to it. This confuses his
interrogator, who does not understand how Iakovlev could have been a member without
having been specifically recruited to it and also how he could state that he had been
recruited (zaverbovan) by Iakovlev and yet never have spoken with Iakovlev about the
The interrogator draws the obvious conclusion from this apparently contradictory
assertion by Vavilov that the accused must be hiding something. Something is missing
that if added would make sense of Vavilov’s contradictory story. Vavilov gives fuller
details in the following passage, stating that he and Iakovlev had a mutual understanding,
and that Iakovlev spoke to him in hints and allusions rather than speaking directly of
conspiracies and organizations.
Question: You confessed earlier that YAKOVLEV recruited you into the
antisoviet organization, that, supposedly, he never had any direct conversations
with you about this. We demand that you make your confession more precise.
Answer: I confirm the fact that I was recruited into the antisoviet
organization of Rightists by YAKOVLEV Yakov Arkad’evich. However,
YAKOVLEV never explicitly said that I should take part in an antisoviet

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organization, and there was no special need for him to do so, since YAKOVLEV
knew my antisoviet views, about which I confessed in previous interrogations,
and could confidently rely on me to carry out antisoviet work. In addition I
enjoyed YAKOVLEV’S particular trust, and he himself told me many times:
“We know you well – we trust you, and for that reason I demand you carry out
my directives without objection.” To my frequent declarations about my desire to
leave my leading administrative work in the Agricultural Academy YAKOVLEV
answered: “We will not let you go, we need you, we understand each other.”
(Vavilov 278-84)
However, in the following passage Vavilov does give specific details about the
sabotage of certain agricultural undertakings he was ordered to accomplish by Iakovlev.
Answer: One of the basic undertakings of sabotage carried out with my
direct participation upon YAKOVLEV’S orders was the creation of a great
superfluity of narrowly specialized scientific-research institutes that were of
absolutely no vital importance, . . .
The next sabotage action of significance that was carried out with my
direct participation upon YAKOVLEV’S order and whose consequences may
still be felt today was the collapse of the provincial [oblast’] network of
experimental pasture-farming stations, the assignment of which under conditions
of socialist reconstruction and the wide variation of climate conditions and soils
in our country is of great importance, . . .
Besides that I directly participated in the development of deliberately
harmful plans of plant culture during the First and Second Five-Year Plans. I
carried out this sabotage work according to the direct order of the former
People’s Commissar for Agriculture YAKOVLEV Y.A. and the former vicepresidents
of the agricultural academy VOL’F M.M., GAISETER A. I. . . .
Despite this I was given a directive by YAKOVLEV, through VOL’F, of
expanding the compulsory plan of area to be sown in 1937 of 150 million
hectares, which, it was clear, did not correspond to the possibilities at that
time. . . . (Vavilov 284-88)

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Analysis of Vavilov’s Confessions
These confessions of Vavilov’s, at least insofar as they implicate Iakovlev, appear
completely credible. There is no reason that the NKVD investigators would have wanted
Vavilov to fabricate testimony against Iakovlev, who by that time had long since been
executed. By 1940, when Vavilov was interrogated, Ezhov and his men too had long
since been arrested, tried, and executed for fabricating false cases against a very large
number of people, and Beria was now in charge of the NKVD. During Beria’s tenure the
cases against large numbers of people falsely accused under Ezhov were reviewed, and
many of them released.
Here, as virtually everywhere in history, there is no absolute proof. But the
evidence suggests that Iakovlev was not lying. Furthermore, Iakovlev’s testimony is
broadly consistent with the confessions of many of the Moscow Trials defendants, of the
Tukhachevsky Affair defendants, and the evidence we have cited above.
According to the volume we have been citing Vavilov’s interrogators claimed in a
report that they had carried out 240 interrogations of Vavilov that occupied 1000 hours.
Vavilov himself claimed in his own letter to Beria (NKVD head at the time) dated April
25 1942 that he had been subjected to 400 interrogations that took 1700 hours! Such
time-consuming and therefore expensive investigations bespeak a genuine attempt to find
out the truth. No such titanic efforts are required either to fabricate an entirely false set of
confessions or to compel a middle-aged academic to fabricate them himself. Moreover,
when it was all completed and Vavilov had been convicted NKVD chief Lavrentii Beria
acceded to Vavilov’s request for clemency. The scientist was in the process of being
moved to the East ahead of the German military advance when he died on January 26
Confession of Iakovlev’s Wife
In 2004 a short excerpt from just one of the interrogation-confessions of
Sokolovskaia, Iakovlev’s wife, was published. This corresponds exactly to the time
Iakovlev himself was under interrogation.
In his own confession Iakovlev said that he had collaborated with Ian Gamarnik,
head of the Political Department of the Red Army who had committed suicide on May 30,

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1937 when questioned about the Tukhachevsky conspiracy. Iakovlev named his wife as a
friend of Gamarnik’s family. She worked in the film studio “Mosfilm.” According to a
report to Stalin from Ezhov of April 30 1938 Sokolovskaia headed a Trotskyist
organization at her workplace that obtained weapons for a planned uprising.65
Evidently in an attempt to save her own life she said that she knew that her
husband had been doing underground Trotskyist work within the Party since 1923. She
said specifically:
During the past five years Iakovlev has been undertaking active participation in
the underground anti-Soviet organization that stood on Trotskyist positions. He
was in an especially secret (zakonspirirovannom) situation, dissembling in order
to strengthen himself in Party work at attempting to be promoted to the
leadership of the Party. (Lubianka 2 398-9)
Stalin’s note complains that the interrogator did not ask the right questions of
On the first page is a handwritten annotation: “Com. Ezhov: Which Mikhailov?
They didn’t even ask his name and patronymic . . . what fine investigators!
What’s important is not Iakovlev’s and Sokolovskaia’s past activity but their
sabotage and espionage work during the past year and the recent months of 1937.
We also need to know why both of these scoundrels were going abroad almost
every year. J. Stalin.” (Lubianka B 399 n.)66
Here as in the case of Iakovlev’s interrogation – as in every single case we now
have, in fact – Stalin has annotated the interrogation in such a way as to rule out any
possibility that he had ordered it fabricated or faked. He appears to have been attempting
to learn from the interrogation how deep the conspiracy ran. This is evidence that the
interrogation was genuine. As such, it is also evidence that Iakovlev’s interrogation was
65 Lubianka 2 No. 323 pp. 529-30. Now online <http://www.alexanderyakovlev.org/fond/issuesdoc/
66 Now at <http://www.alexanderyakovlev.org/fond/issues-doc/61211&gt;. Stalin’s remarks alone are in Vol.
18 of the new edition of Stalin’s works; online at <http://grachev62.narod.ru/stalin/t18/t18_065.htm&gt;.

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not faked, and therefore that Iakovlev’s confession about Shmuke and Trotsky’s contacts
with the Nazis is also true.
What concerned Stalin was not the history of Iakovlev’s disloyalty but recent
matters. “The past year and the recent months of 1937” had seen the Tukhachevsky
conspiracy of top military leaders spying for Germany, plus allegations of widespread
conspiratorial activity on the side of Germany and Japan. This too is consistent with
Stalin’s believing that Iakovlev’s conspiracy with Germany was genuine.
Iakovlev’s “Rehabilitation”
Aside from the confession we cite here none of the investigative or court
materials from Iakovlev’s file have ever been made public. We do have the report
(zapiska, or “memorandum,” shorter and/or less formal than a full report) recommending
Iakovlev be posthumously “rehabilitated” dated December 27, 1956 and signed by
Roman Rudenko, General Procuror (Prosecutor) of the USSR.67 It declares Iakovlev
innocent but without giving any evidence whatsoever that he was, in fact, innocent. It is
similar to many other such published “rehabilitation” reports from the Khrushchev and
Gorbachev eras. Elsewhere we have studied a number of these seemingly fraudulent
“reports.” According to the “rehabilitation” memorandum Iakovlev had been named by
“more than 100” other defendants. All their testimony is dismissed on the grounds that
these men have previously been “rehabilitated.” Once they were declared “innocent” their
testimony against others was simply written off as false. This is one sign of their
fraudulent nature.68
The memorandum also declares that NKVD man “Kazakevich”, who had taken
part in the investigation of Iakovlev, had said – evidently in 1956 – that “methods of
physical pressure” were used against Iakovlev. His testimony is not available. Even his
name is not certain. No name and patronymic are given. An NKVD man named
Kozakevich is one of two investigators who signed the confession of Iakovlev that we
have examined.
67 RKEB 2 (2003) No. 30, pp. 215-216; note 41 on p. 808.
68 Furr, Antistalinskaia Podlost’ (Moscow: Algoritm 2007), Chapter 10, 148-175.

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“Methods of physical pressure” can mean almost anything, from real torture –
beatings, for example – to the “third degree,” prolonged sleeplessness, and so on. But
Iakovlev confessed within a couple of days of his arrest, so there was no time for any
prolonged pressure. Moreover, the fact that a suspect was subjected to some kind of
“physical pressure” is not evidence of that suspect’s innocence.
Ezhov could not have known in advance whether Stalin would choose to
interview Iakovlev. Iakovlev had been so close to Stalin, most recently in working on the
new constitution, that it’s probable that Stalin would have interviewed him himself. We
don’t know whether he actually did so because the Russian government has not released
the whole investigative case. If Stalin did insist on seeing Iakovlev, and Iakovlev had
been forced to falsely incriminate himself, the danger that he would inform on Ezhov to
Stalin would have been far too great. For this reason it is very doubtful that Ezhov would
have dared to fabricate a false case against someone as close to Stalin as Iakovlev was.
As we’ve noted above, Stalin’s comments on the interrogations of Iakovlev and his wife
are not consistent with any theory that Stalin was involved in “framing” Iakovlev for
some reason.
We have no evidence that Iakovlev was tortured, beaten, etc. Even if we had
evidence that some kind of real torture had been used against Iakovlev, it would not mean
he was innocent. We’ll discuss this issue below. Nor would it explain why Iakovlev
confessed at trial. We know he did so because Rudenko’s “zapiska” says he did – the full
transcript of his trial has not been declassified.
Tukhachevsky and The Military Leaders
The rest of the evidence we present concerning Trotsky’s collaboration with
Germany and/or Japan comes from the investigative materials connected with the socalled
“Tukhachevsky Affair.” On June 11, 1937 Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky, one of
only five marshals of the Red Army, and seven other very high-ranking military
commanders were tried and convicted of collaboration with Trotsky, other oppositionists,
Germany and/or Japan to bring about the overthrow of the Stalin government, the
assassination of its leading members, the facilitation of war between the USSR and its

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major enemies Germany, Japan, and Poland, seizure of power, reversion to capitalism
and an alliance with the Axis countries.
Budennyi’s Letter to Voroshilov
One of the judges at the special military court was Marshal Semion Budennyi. On
June 26, 1937 Budennyi sent a letter to Commissar for Defense Kliment Voroshilov in
which he outlined his impressions of the trial and what it meant.69
This letter has been dishonestly quoted by several Russian writers – dishonestly,
because entirely out of context, as will be seen. For example, among the lines that have
been quoted is this sentence:
PRIMAKOV70 very stubbornly denied that he led a terrorist group consisting of
SHMIDT, KUZ’MICHEV and others, against com. VOROSHILOV.
What has always been omitted are the following passages which follow
immediately after the sentence above:
He denied this on the basis that, he said, TROTSKY had entrusted him,
PRIMAKOV, with a more serious task – to organize an armed uprising in
Leningrad, for which purpose he, PRIMAKOV, was obliged to remain strictly
secret from all terrorist groups, to break his ties with all Trotskyists and Rights
and at the same time to win for himself authority and the absolute trust of the
Party and the Army command.
PRIMAKOV did not, however, deny that he had indeed earlier led a
terrorist group and for that purpose had recommended SHMIDT to the post of
commander of the mechanized corps.
In connection with this special assigment of TROTSKY’S, PRIMAKOV
worked on the 25th Cavalry Division with the divisional commander ZYBIN.
According to him ZYBIN was assigned to meet TROTSKY at the border once
the rebels had taken over Leningrad.
69 We – Furr and Bobrov – are preparing to publish an edition of this important letter.
70 Vitalii Primakov was one of the eight officers tried and executed in June 1937 in the “Tukhachevsky

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By omitting these paragraphs a passage in which Primakov confessed to a
somewhat different role in the same conspiracy is made to appear to be a claim of
innocence that implies Primakov was “framed.” This is the same technique that we have
seen employed by Shelepin in misquoting Iakir’s letter to the 22nd Party Congress in 1962.
As another passage in Budennyi’s letter reveals Tukhachevsky had testified that
the German Luftwaffe was prepared to come to the aid of the opposition uprising in
Tukhachevsky received an instruction from General RUMSHTET71 that the plan
for sabotaging the Red Army should take into account the most likely directions
of the main blows of the German armies: one against the Ukraine – L’vov, Kiev
– and the others, the seizure of Leningrad by the rebels, something that would be
very beneficial to Germany as it could render help to the rebels with its rather
significant air force, which ought to advertise itself as forces coming over to the
rebels from the side of the Soviet forces.
We know from another archival document, Marshal Voroshilov’s address to the
“Aktiv” (officers directly attached) of the Commissariat of Defense on June 9, 1937, that
this information stems from Putna’s confession.72 It concerns what he was told by
German General Erhard Milch, one of the highest ranking commanders of the German
Luftwaffe.73 Reading from an undated confession by Putna Voroshilov stated the
[German Air Force General] Milch directly states – I ask you to say this to
Karakhan, also a spy since 1927 who carried out the negotiations on behalf of
these swine – Milch directly states: “If you can capture Leningrad, the Leningrad
oblast’, you can count on serious help from our side and, mainly, on help from
our airforce, under the guise of forces that have gone over to you from the legal
71 Obviously General Gerd von Rundstedt, later a Field Marshal. See <http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/
72 Some years ago we obtained a partial transcript of this address of Voroshilov’s from a fellow researcher
in Moscow. It is now published: Voenniy sovet pri Narodnom Komissare Oborony SSSR. 1-4 iiunia 1937 g.
Dokumenty i Materialy. Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2008, pp. 367-423. Voroshilov’s quotation from an as yet
unpublished confession by Putna concerning General Milch is on pp. 384-5 of this published edition.
73 See the article on Milch at <http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erhard_Milch&gt;.

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government. We will give you our air forces in significant quantities with our
own crews.
And, declared Milch, we will be able to render you all this help in the
Leningrad area because this area has a border with Finland with which we, he
said, have excellent relations.
This ties Primakov’s testimony about Trotsky’s role in planning an uprising in
Leningrad together with the projected German role in the same uprising. A number of
other defendants, both military and civilian, confessed to discussions with German
generals including von Runstedt and Milch.
In a segment from an interrogation of May 21, 1937 Primakov said:
. . . The bloc of Trotskyists and Rights and the organization of the common
traitorous anti-Soviet military conspiracy led to the union of all the
counterrevolutionary forces within the (Workers’ and Peasants’) Red Army . . .
This anti-Soviet political bloc and military conspiracy, personally headed by the
base fascist Trotsky, . . . (Kantor, Voina 374)
(It appears that Primakov calls Trotsky a “fascist” here because, according to Primakov,
Trotsky had conspired with fascist Germany against the USSR.)
Budennyi also reported that the military figures were not planning to take
leadership from Trotsky or the Rights indefinitely.
. . . KORK confessed that he was aware that the leaders of the militaryfascist
counterrevolutionary organization regarded their ties to Trotsky and
the Rights as a temporary situation. TUKHACHEVSKY had spoken to
KORK to the effect that the Trotskyists, Rights et al. were only temporary
fellow-travelers, and when the armed coup had been effected he,
TUKHACHEVSKY would play the role of Bonaparte. And on November
29, 1934, according to KORK’s confession, TUKHACHEVSKY, in
Kork’s apartment, had stated this unequivocally to all those present.

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Colonel Viktor Alksnis and The Transcript of the Tukhachevsky Trial
The transcript of the June 11, 1937 trial of Tukhachevsky and the seven other
commanders has never been made public. Its text is still so top-secret in Russia that no
researcher, no matter how trusted, is allowed to read it today. But in 1990, shortly before
the end of the USSR General Viktor Alksnis, military leader, member of the Duma
(Soviet Parliament), and grandson of one of the judges at this 1937 military trial, was
given permission by the KGB (successor to the MVD – NKVD) to read the transcript.
Perhaps the KGB thought Alksnis would be sympathetic to the story that the
military men had been framed. After all his own grandfather, Komandarm 2nd rank (=
Lieutenant General) Iakov I. Alksnis had been arrested in November 1937 and then tried
and executed as a conspirator in July 1938, only months after he had served as one of the
judges in the military panel that judged Tukhachevsky and the rest.
Instead Alksnis, interviewed in a Russian nationalist journal in 2000 and again by
researcher Vladimir L. Bobrov shortly afterwards said he was convinced by the transcript
that some conspiracy had in fact taken place. From the interview in the journal Elementy
in 2000:
My grandfather and Tukhachevsky were friends. And grandfather was on the
judicial panel that judged both Tukhachevsky and Eideman. My interest in this
case became even stronger after the well-known publications of [former]
procuror Viktorov, who wrote that Iakov Alksnis was very active at the trial,
harrassed the accused. . . .
But in the trial transcript everything was just the opposite. Grandfather
only asked two or three questions during the entire trial. But the strangest thing is
the behavior of the accused. Newspaper accounts [of the Gorbachev-era – GF]
claim that all the defendants denied their guilt completely. But according to the
transcript they fully admitted their guilt. I realize that an admission of guilt itself
can be the result of torture. But in the transcript it was something else entirely: a
huge amount of detail, long dialogues, accusations of one another, a mass of
precision. It’s simply impossible to stage-manage something like this. . . . I know
nothing about the nature of the conspiracy. But of the fact that there really did
exist a conspiracy within the Red Army and that Tukhachevsky participated in it
I am completely convinced today.

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. . .
It appears as though back there, in the 1930s, there stands some type of “canon”
that might be fired at us, at our times. And then everything could turn out
completely differently. And in the meantime . . . in the meantime a certain
conception of those events has been created, and everything is done to sustain
that conception. (Alksnis)
From a followup interview of Col. Alksnis by Vladimir L. Bobrov:
Alksnis: . . . I turned the pages of the transcript and had more questions than
answers. I came away with the impression that, obviously, there had really been a
conspiracy. . . . But this is what struck me: in the transcript there are parts which
attest to the sincerity of what the defendants said (no matter who claims that the
trial was an organized show, that they worked on the defendants specially so that
they would give the necessary confessions.)
Imagine this. Let’s say, Tukhachevsky is telling about a meeting with the
German military attaché in a dacha near Moscow . . . and at that moment
Primakov interrupts him and says “Mikhail Nikolaevich, you are mistaken. This
meeting did not take place in your office at the dacha, but was on the veranda.” I
think that it would have been impossible to “direct” things such that
Tukhachevsky said precisely that and that Primakov would then make a
correction like that.
Bobrov: Very well. But was there anything there that made you think that the
trial had been scripted and directed anyway?
Alksnis: No, it would have been impossible to script and direct a trial such as is
in the transcript.
Bobrov: That is, you wish to state that, having read the transcript, you did not
find in it any traces of any kind of staging?
Alksnis: Yes, yes. On top of that all of them confessed, and when they all
admitted guilt in their last words, stating that they had been participants in the
conspiracy and knowing that after that execution awaited them, it is just
impossible to imagine that they forced them all to make such admissions and
. . .

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Bobrov: What was the main point of accusation of the “conspirators”?
Alksnis: Everything was there: espionage, preparation for a military coup,
sabotage [wrecking]. . . .
Bobrov: And what does “espionage” mean? You were talking about the meeting
at the dacha. . . .
Alksnis: Yes, yes, with the German military attaché. They were talking about
arranging coordination with the German military, contacts were going on with
them. . . .
Bobrov: One last question. In your interview with “Elementy” you talked about
some kind of “cannon” that might shoot at our own times from back in the 30s.
What did you have in mind?
Alksnis: 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. . . . (Bobrov)
Assessing This Evidence
It is not surprising that the transcript of the Tukhachevsky trial is top-secret once
again. As far as we can determine no one has been permitted to read it since Alksnis. But
we do have the Budennyi letter. It is by far the most direct evidence of the testimony
given at the trial that we have. Alksnis’ two accounts confirm the accuracy of Budennyi’s
account of the trial. For example, Alksnis confirms that the defendants confessed to all
the charges and in some detail, something that Budennyi’s letter also states.
It would be hard to overestimate the significance of Budennyi’s testimony. It is
simply not credible that eight battle-hardened military men could have been forced to
falsely confess at trial to such devastating charges, in such detail, and in the manner in
which they did. Nor is there any evidence that they were forced to falsely confess in the
first place, even before the trial.
Like the trial transcript itself the letter remains top-secret. We located it in a littleknown
and disorganized archive and are preparing it for publication. For Budennyi as for
Col. Alksnis there is no question at all of the guilt of the generals, all of whom confessed
it and gave details. This is also the case of the published commentary by General Belov,

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another of the judges. Belov’s letter to Voroshilov was published in 1996, presumably
because he makes very few substantive remarks about the specific charges. But Belov
was also convinced of the generals’ guilt (Belov). We do not examine it here because
Belov says nothing specifically about Trotsky and the Germans or Japanese.
Significance of the Tukhachevsky Trial Evidence
The Budennyi letter to Voroshilov and Col. Alksnis’ account of his reading the
transcript of the “Tukhachevsky Affair” trial together constitute one of the most
important discoveries in the historiography of the Soviet Union. Thanks to them we now
know as certainly as we will ever know that the military defendants in this trial were, in
fact, guilty of what they confessed to.
This in itself completely dismantles the canonical interpretation of Soviet history.
For example, it means that the testimony at the Third Moscow “show” trial, the March
1938 “Bukharin-Rykov” trial, was truthful insofar as it confirms the testimony given by
Tukhachevsky and the other military men. It also confirms testimony about Trotsky’s
German and Japanese collaboration that was given by those defendants at the Second
Moscow Trial of January 1937, the “Piatakov-Rykov” trial, since that is also confirmed
by the Tukhachevsky trial testimony.
If we had no other evidence at all to this effect the testimony of the military
figures would be very strong. And of course we do have much other evidence. All of it is
consistent with what we now know of the Tukhachevsky trial testimony. For our present
purposes this is the strongest possible evidence that Trotsky was indeed conspiring with
the Nazi government and German military.
The NKVD investigators of the 1930s referred to the interlocking conspiracy
cases as the “klubok,” or “tangle.” This metaphor referred to the fact that the various
separate conspiracies were intertwined with each other, at least on the leadership level. It
also serves to illustrate how the NKVD “unravelled” them. Once one minor conspiracy
was discovered it led by persistent investigation to others.

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Efim Dreitser, a defendant at the first Moscow Trial of 1936 and a person who
claimed to be in personal contact with Trotsky, named Putna at the 1936 Trial as a
Trotskyist conspirator who also had direct links to Trotsky (Dreitser had been chief of
Trotsky’s bodyguard during the 1920s). This was evidently just one of a number of bits
of evidence that led to Putna’s arrest, just as Kamenev’s naming Radek, Sokol’nikov,
Bukharin and others provided “threads” that led to second and third trials. Dreitser’s
investigation file confirms his confessions at trial and close ties to Putna and Iakir,
another of the later Tukhachevsky Trial defendants. A close member of Dreitser’s family
and his only surviving relative has confirmed that her great-uncle Efim was indeed close
to high-ranking Red Army men, including Putna, well-known as a Trotskyist, named by
defendants in all three Moscow Trials, tried and executed as one of the eight military
leaders in the Tukhachevsky Affair.74
Dmitry Shmidt, a military commander who was also arrested and questioned in
1936, testified to Putna’s close and conspiratorial connection with Trotsky.
In 1927 when I joined the Trotskyists I learned from DREITSER,
OKHOTNIKOV and PUTNA that PUTNA was one of the members of the
military center of the Trotskyist organization and was carrying out important
organizational work in the Red Army. He was responsible for that work to
Trotsky personally. In 1927 or 1928 PUTNA was assigned by the Revolutionary
Military Council to be military attaché to Japan. At that time I had a meeting with
PUTNA before his departure. He told me Trotsky used to come to his apartment
to give him a whole series of instructions and tasks in connection with his going
So the NKVD had other evidence, perhaps a lot of it, about Putna’s activities.
Concerning Shmidt’s testimony specifically, it’s difficult to imagine what foreign
instructions, other than conspiratorial ones, Trotsky might have been giving Putna in
1927, since Trotsky had long since (January 1925) resigned from his military posts.
74 Personal communication from Svetlana M. Chervonnaya, daughter of Dreitser’s niece. Ms Chervonnaya,
an Americanist and skilled researcher on Cold-War history and Dreitser’s only surviving relative, has been
permitted to study Dreitser’s investigative file.
75 “N.6. Z protokolu dopity D.A. Shmidta vid 31 serpnia 1936 r.,” in Sergiy Kokin, Oleksandr Pshennikov,
“Bez stroku davnosti,” Z Arkhiviv VUChK-GPU-NKVD-KGB No. 1-2 (4/5), 1997 (In Ukrainian).

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Kantor’s Four Articles76
In 2005 Iulia Kantor, a Russian graduate student in history and journalist,
published a series of articles and a book77 on Marshal Tukhachevsky. Kantor does not
investigate whether Tukhachevsky was guilty or not but, like Cherushev, takes it for
granted that Tukhachevsky was the innocent victim of a frameup by Stalin. It’s probably
no coincidence, therefore, that like Cherushev Kantor was granted access to some
documentary materials others have not been permitted to see including, in Kantor’s case,
some of the Tukhachevsky investigative materials. Additionally she claims that she was
given permission by Tukhachevsky’s family to see his investigative file – something that
is strictly limited in Russian to next-of-kin and normally forbidden to all others,
researchers included.
Kantor used these materials in her doctoral dissertation as well as her books and
some articles. Anyone who studies only the texts of the primary sources that Kantor
quotes without regard to her tendentious commentary will realize that these sources
strongly support Tukhachevsky’s guilt. Some of these quotations involve
Tukhachevsky’s allegations concerning Trotsky.
No complete interrogations of Vitovt Putna have been published. Only excerpts
from them have been published; we will briefly examine them below. But according to
what we have of Tukhachevsky’s testimony Putna was in direct contact with Trotsky and
passed on to Tukhachevsky the information that he, Trotsky, had direct contacts with the
German government and General Staff. This is consistent with what we’ve seen of
Radek’s testimony both before and during the January 1937 trial.
Tukhachevsky claimed to have been in direct contact by letter with Sedov through
I inform the investigation that in 1935 Putna brought me a note from Sedov in
which it said that Trotsky considers it very desirable that I establish closer ties
76 Kantor’s four articles were published in Istoriia Gosudarstva i Prava (2006). This legal journal is very
hard to obtain outside of Russia. It is intermittently available at a Russian legal website at <http://lawnews.
ru/up/u11/post_1130954400.html>. The text at this site is not often available, and is completely
unformatted. For the convenience of readers able to use Russian I have reformatted and republished the text
of all four articles <http://chss.montclair.edu/english/furr/research/kantor_4articles_igp06.pdf&gt;.
77 Kantor, Iulia. Voina i mir Mikhaila Tukhachevskogo. Moscow: Izdatel’skii Dom Ogoniok “Vremia,”

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with the Trotskyist commander cadres. Through Putna I orally answered with my
agreement, and burned the note from Sedov. (Kantor 2006, 5; Kantor, Voina 378)
Tukhachevsky also said that in 1932 he received a “directive” from Trotsky to
form a conspiratorial military organization, something he had been preparing to do in any
Long before the creation of the antisoviet military-Trotskyist plot I grouped
around myself, over the course of a number of years, men who were hostile to
Soviet authority, dissatisfied with their positions as commanders, and conspired
with them against the leadership of the Party and government. Therefore, when in
1932 I received a directive from Trotsky about the creation of an antisoviet
organization in the army I already virtually had devoted cadres ready on whom I
could rely in this work. (Kantor 2006, 5; Kantor, Voina 378-9)
According to Tukhachevsky Putna had direct contact with Trotsky concerning the
latter’s ties to the German government and General Staff and passed on news of this
orally to Tukhachevsky.
Putna told me orally that Trotsky had set up direct contact with the German
fascist government and General Staff. (Kantor 2006, 5; Kantor, Voina 378-9)
Tukhachevsky said that Vladimir Romm had told him that Trotsky was relying on
Hitler’s help in his struggle against Soviet power. We know from Romm’s testimony at
the 1937 Trial, which we have reviewed above, that Romm claimed to have been in direct
contact with Trotsky.
Romm told me that Trotsky is expecting Hitler to come to power and that he is
counting on Hitler’s aid in Trotsky’s battle against Soviet authority.
(Kantor 2006, 7; Kantor, Voina 381)
Tukhachevsky reiterated that he had indeed had contact with Trotsky, and also
that he himself had collaborated with German intelligence, though in the following

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passage he does not explicitly say that Trotsky had told him of his own German or
Japanese connections.
The transcript of the interrogation of the accused Tukhachevsky of June 9, 1937:
I fully confirm my confessions given during the preliminary investigation
concerning my leading participation in the military-Trotskyist plot, my ties to the
Germans, my past participation in antisoviet groupings. I admit my guilt in that I
transmitted to German intelligence secret information and facts concerning the
defense of the USR. I also confirm my ties with Trotsky and Dombal’.
(Kantor 2006, 15; Kantor, Voina 406-7)
Assessing the Evidence: Kantor
Kantor received the permission of the Tukhachevsky family and the Russian
government to gain access to some of the investigative materials for her long biography
of Tukhachevsky. Though she does not admit as much it seems that she was not
permitted to read everything. Specifically it appears that she was not allowed to read the
transcript of the trial of Tukhachevsky and the rest. If she had read it and yet completely
omitted its contents from her articles and book Kantor would be guilty not just of being
guided by her own preconceived ideas, but of gross deception. She is guilty of deceiving
her readers in any case, since she never tells us what she was permitted to see and what
was kept from her.
Kantor takes the official position that the Marshal and all the other military
figures were innocent victims of a frameup. Therefore she would surely have been given
any evidence that this was so. But she is unable to cite any. This is very significant, since
it suggests that no such evidence exists.
She also ignores some of the evidence that they were guilty – notably, some
already well-known to researchers because it is in the Shvernik Report, which has been
published (see below). The quotations from the Tukhachevsky investigation file
published in Kantor’s 2005 book are also contained in her four academic articles.
The passages Kantor quotes strongly support all the other evidence we have cited.
We have only quoted the passages from Kantor’s work that directly inculpate Trotsky
with Germany. The reliability of their testimony concerning Trotsky’s collaboration with

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the Germans is predicated upon the truthfulness of the rest of their testimony – that is,
upon their guilt. Kantor is committed to asserting the innocence of all these men rather
than to investigating whether they were guilty or not. But the evidence she quotes, as
opposed to her tendentious commentary on it, gives strong evidence of their guilt. This is
also strong evidence that they told the truth about their collaboration with Trotsky and his
with Germany.
Tukhachevsky’s Confessions
In 1994 the texts of two of Tukhachevsky’s confessions were published in Russia.
In them Tukhachevsky repeats that Romm told him Trotsky was relying on Hitler. As we
saw above Romm confessed to having been a courrier between Trotsky and conspirators
within the USSR.78
. . . Romm also passed on that it was Trotsky’s hope that Hitler would come to
power and would support him, Trotsky, in his struggle against Soviet power.
– Main 159; Molodaia Gvardiia (henceforth MG) 9 (1994), 133. (Evidently the
same passage as above)
Tukhachevsky repeats that he had told Kork (another of the eight defendants) that
he had had contact with Trotsky and the Rights.
I told Kork that I had links both with Trotsky and the Rightists and tasked him to
recruit new members in the Moscow military district. . . . (Main 160; MG 9, 134)
According to Tukhachevsky Putna, another of the eight defendants and as we have
already seen a long-standing supporter of Trotsky’s, admitted to him in 1933 that he was
in touch with Trotsky as well as with Smirnov, a Trotskyist within the USSR. Putna later
78 These confessions of Tukhachevsky’s have been translated and published in Steven J. Main, “The Arrest
and ‘Testimony’ of Marshal of the Soviet Union M.N. Tukhachevsky (May-June 1937),” Journal of Slavic
Military Studies 10, No. 1 (March 1997), 151-195. All the passages dealing with Trotsky were published in
Molodaia Gvardiia issues 9 or 10 of 1994. We have used Main’s English text for the convenience of
readers and made silent corrections in a few places where we disagreed with Main’s translation, which we
have compared with the originals.

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received an appointment as military attaché (in 1934, as attaché to Great Britain) and so
was assigned to be the contact person between Trotsky and the other conspirators.
Upon Putna’s and Gorbachev’s return from the Far East – I believe this was in
1933 – I spoke with each of them separately. Putna quickly admitted that he was
already in contact with Trotsky and with Smirnov. I suggested to him to join the
ranks of the military-Trotskyite conspiracy, telling him that I had direct links
with Trotsky. Putna immediately agreed [to join]. Later, following his
appointment as military attaché, he was tasked to maintain the link between
Trotsky and the center of the anti-Soviet military-Trotskyite conspiracy.
(Main 160; MG 9, 134)
Tukhachevsky said that in 1933 or 1934 Romm had instructions from Trotsky that
the “German fascists” would help the Trotskyists, and so the military conspirators should
help both the German and the Japanese General Staffs in sabotage, diversions, and
assassinations against members of the Soviet government. Tukhachevsky said he passed
“Trotsky’s instructions” to the conspiratorial leadership, implying that he himself
accepted them.
Round about this time, 1933/1934, Romm visited me in Moscow and told me that
he had to pass on Trotsky’s new instructions. Trotsky pointed out that it was no
longer feasible to restrict our activities to simply recruiting and organizing cadres,
that it was necessary to adopt a more active program, that German Fascism
would render the Trotskyists assistance in their struggle with Stalin’s leadership
and that therefore the military conspiracy must supply the German General Staff
with intelligence data, as well as working hand in glove with the Japanese
General Staff, carrying out disruptive activities in the army, prepare diversions
and terrorist acts against members of the government. These instructions of
Trotsky I communicated to the center of our conspiracy. (Main 160-161; MG 9,

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In another part of this published confession Tukhachevsky asserts that he got other
instructions from Trotsky via Piatakov, rather than through Romm, Putna, or directly to
During the winter of 1935/1936, Pyatakov told me that Trotsky had now asked us
to ensure the [future] defeat of the USSR in war, even if this meant giving the
Ukraine to the Germans and the Primor’ye to the Japanese. In order to prepare
the USSR’s defeat, all forces, both within the USSR and outside the USSR would
have to be made ready; in particular, Pyatakov stated that Trotsky would carry
out a decisive struggle to plant his people in the Comintern. Pyatakov stated that
such conditions would mean the restoration of capitalism in the country.
As we received Trotsky’s instructions on unleashing a campaign of
sabotage activity, espionage, diversionary and terrorist activity, the center of the
conspiracy, which included not only me, but also Feld’man, Eideman, Kamenev,
Primakov, Uborevich, Iakir and those closely associated with it, Gamarnik and
Kork, issued various instructions to the members of the conspiracy, based on
Trotsky’s directives. (Main 163; MG 10, 257)
Tukhachevsky claims that he also received direct written instructions via Putna
from Sedov, who of course was passing on Trotsky’s instructions. Putna assured him that
Trotsky had established direct ties to the German government and General Staff.
In the autumn of 1935, Putna came to my office and handed over a note from
Sedov, in Trotsky’s name, insisting that I more energetically attract Trotskyite
cadres to the military conspiracy and more actively use them. I told Putna to say
that this would be done. In addition, Putna told me that Trotsky had established
dirrect links with Hitler’s government and the General Staff, and that the center
of the anti-Soviet military Trotskyite conspiracy should task itself to prepare
defeats on those fronts where the German Army would operate.
During the winter of 1935/1936, as I have already mentioned, I had a talk
with Pyatakov, during which the latter passed on another directive from Trotsky
[to the effect] to ensure the unconditional defeat of the USSR in war with Hitler
and Japan, as well as the break-up of the Ukraine and the Primor’ye from the

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USSR. These instructions meant that it was necessary to establish ties with the
Germans in order to define where they intended to depoy their armies and where
necessary to prepare the defeats of the Soviet armies. (Main 166; MG 10, 261)
This passage in Tukhachevsky’s published confession confirms what Budennyi
reported to Voroshilov in his letter of June 26, 1937. Evidently Tukhachevsky restated
this at the trial and inserted a comment that von Runstedt must have known this
information through Trotsky.
At the end of January 1936, I had to travel to London to attend the funeral of the
British King. During the funeral procession, first by foot and then on the train,
General Rundstedt – the head of the German government’s military delegation –
spoke to me. It was obvious that the German General Staff had already been
informed by Trotsky. Rundstedt openly told me that the German General Staff
was aware that I stood at the head of a military conspiracy in the Red Army and
that he, Rundstedt, had been instructed to begin talks about mutually interesting
matters. (Main 166; MG 10, 261)
A few pages later Tukhachevsky puts Trotsky’s and Runstedt’s instructions
Taking into account Trotsky’s directive to prepare for defeat on that front where
the Germans would attack, as well as General Rundstedt’s instruction to prepare
for defeat on the Ukrainian front, I proposed to Iakir to make the German task
easier by diversionary-sabotage tactics leading to the fall of the Letichev fortified
region, the commandant of which was a member of the conspiracy, Sablin. (Main
185; MG 10, 264)
Assessing the Evidence: Tukhachevsky’s Confessions
Only a few of Tukhachevsky’s confessions have been made public. We are
fortunate to have any of them at all. They were published in the early 1990s when the
promise of glasnost’ (“openness”) was still in the air. In 2006 one confession of Nikolai
Ezhov’s was published. Ezhov confirmed the existence of several groups of military

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conspirators including that around Tukhachevsky. Ezhov also named some, at least, of
the German military figures with whom they and he himself were jointly in touch.79 To
that extent Ezhov’s and Tukhachevsky’s confessions mutually confirm each other.
Frinovsky strongly confirmed the guilt of the Rightists, including Bukharin, some of
whom, like Grin’ko, claimed direct conspiratorial contact with Trotsky while others, like
Bukharin, claimed indirect knowledge of Trotsky’s dealings with the Germans through
Other Documents of the “Tukhachevsky Affair”: The “Shvernik Report”
As we have stated above, during the 22nd Party Congress in October 1961 Nikita
Khrushchev and his supporters in the Soviet leadership leveled an even stronger attack
against Stalin than Khrushchev’s 1956 “Secret Speech” had been. After the Congress
Stalin’s body was removed from Lenin’s tomb and a new wave of materials attacking
Stalin and those closely associated with him was published. This anti-Stalin campaign –
for so it may be called – ended shortly after Khrushchev was removed from office at the
Central Committee meeting of October 1964 by Leonid Brezhnev and others.
In early 1962 the Presidium (formerly the Politburo, in effect Khrushchev himself)
authorized a blue-ribbon commission to investigate the trials and executions of the 1930s
and especially the so-called Tukhachevsky Affair.80 This commission seems to have had
total access to all the investigative and other materials concerning the repressions of the
1930s. Its purpose seems to have been to find further information for attacks on Stalin
and his supporters, and justificatory materials for further “rehabilitations.” In fact, it
provided little exculpatory evidence but quite a bit of further evidence that the accused
were guilty!
The report was issued in two parts. The Zapiska (memorandum) devoted mainly
to the Military Purges and Tukhachevsky Affair, was issued in 1963. A further part, the
Spravka (= information, report) is dated 1964. Neither seems to have been used by
Khrushchev or given to Soviet writers to promote Khrushchev’s “line.”
79 Available online at <http://chss.montclair.edu/english/furr/research/ezhovru.html&gt;; also now at
80 There had been an earlier commission, called the “Molotov Commission.”

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The Shvernik Reports were both published after the end of the USSR in a
mysterious journal, Voennyi Arkhivy Rossii, dated 1993, that never had another issue. But
since that time the Reports have been published several more times and it is readily
available. It’s fair to say that these reports constitute the largest single published
collection of excerpts and quotations from investigative materials of the 1930s
We cite here all the passages from the Shvernik Commission reports that bear
directly on the specific topic of this article: Trotsky’s purported collaboration with
Germany and Japan. There are a great many other passages, both in these reports and
elsewhere in the available investigative materials, that bear on Trotsky’s involvement in
the general opposition conspiracies, for example to assassinate Stalin and others. Since
these allegations are not the subject of our present study we will ignore them here.
From the “Zapiska”81
On March 25 1936 Yagoda informed Stalin that Trotsky was giving directives
through agents of the Gestapo to Trotskyists inside the USSR about carrying out
terrorist activity, and that even in prisons Trotskyists were trying to create
militant terrorist groups and that the leader of the Trotskyists in the USSR was
I.N. Smirnov. (Zapiska 557)
. . .
The sentence of the court states that Tukhachevsky and the other defendants,
“being leaders of an antisoviet military-fascist organization, have violated their
military duty (oath), have betrayed their country, have established ties with
military circles in Germany and with enemy of the people L. Trotsky and
according to their directives have prepared the defeat of the Red Army in the
event of an attack on the USSR by foreign aggressors, specifically, of fascist
Germany, and with the goal of destroying the defensive capability of the USSR
have engaged in espionage and sabotage in the units of the Red Army and in
enterprises of military significance, and also have been preparing terrorist acts
against the leaders of the AUCP(b) and the Soviet government.” (605)
81 This long report has not been translated. We take it from RKEB 2 541-670. It is available for download at
<http://perpetrator2004.narod.ru/documents/Great_Terror/Shvernik_Report.rar&gt;. The Spravka alone is also
available online at the Russian language Wikisource resource in nine parts at <http://tinyurl.com/spravka&gt;.

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From the “Spravka”:
Already at the interrogation of May 14, 1937 Primakov named his “coconspirators”
and stated about Iakir:
“The Trotskyist organization considered that Iakir was most suitable for
the post of People’s Commissar [for Defense] instead of Voroshilov. . . .
We considered that Iakir was the strictist example of a conspiratorial
Trotskyist and admitted that he – Iakir – was personally connected with
Trotsky and that it ws possible that he was carrying out completely secret,
independent tasks unknown to ourselves.” . . . (Spravka 676)
Continuing the “processing” of Primakov, the organs of the NKVD on May 21
1937 were able to obtain from him “hand-written confessions” that
Tukhachevsky, who was connected to Trotsky, was at the head of the conspiracy.
In addition in this interrogation Primakov named 40 prominent military workers
as members of the military-Trotskyist conspiracy in the army.
On May 16 1937 Ezhov sent this interrogation transcript to Stalin, Molotov,
Voroshilov, and Kaganovich. In the accompanying letter Ezhov
“I am sending you the transcript of the interrogation of Putna V.K. of
May 15 of this year. Putna confesses that in 1935 he personally gave a
letter from Trotsky to Tukhachevsky with a direct invitation to take part
in the Trotskyist conspiracy. After familiarizing himself with this letter
Tukhachevsky assigned Putna to transmit the message that Trotsky could
rely upon him. Putna names as members of the military antisoviet
Trotskyist organization Primakov, Kuz’michev, Shmidt, Lapin – all of
whom have been arrested; Zenek, the former commander of the
Leningrad military school of tank technique, Klochko, former military
attaché of the USSR to Turkey; Gorodzensky, former commander of
economic supply of the Prmor’ye group, Kornel’, former worker of the
Foreign Department of the OGPU [basically, a predecessor to the NKVD]
and Adamovich, former chairman of the Council of People’s
Commissars of the Belorussian SSR [i.e. head of the government of the
Belorussian republic].” (677)

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In the indictment it is asserted that in April – May 1937 the organs of the
NKVD discovered and liquidated in the city of Moscow a military-Trotskyist
conspiracy, in the “center” of leadership of which were Gamarnik, Tukhachevsky,
Iakir, Uborevich, Kork, Eideman and Fel’dman. The military-Trotskyist
organization, which all those accused in this case were members, was formed in
1932-1933 upon the direct instructions of the German general staff and of
Trotsky. It was connected with the Trotskyist center and the Bukharin-Rykov
group of Rightists, was involved in sabotage, diversions, terror and was preparing
the overthrow of the government and the seizure of power with the aim of
restoring capitalism in the USSR. (688)
Iakir’s address at the court trial in connection with the plots of the
organizers, set the line for the other defendants also to expose the machinations
of Trotsky and of the fascist governments against the USSR, and in addition
emphasized the role of Tukhachevsky in the conspiracy in every way. (690)
Tukhachevsky was also forced to confirm . . . in court: “When in 1932 Romm
brought me Trotsky’s proposal to gather the Trotskyist cadres, I agreed to do this.
Therefore I consider the beginning of the organization of our military conspiracy
to have been 1932.” (695)
Putna testified about Tukhachevsky’s ties with Sedov and Trotsky.
Specifically, he declared during the investigation that, finding himself in London
in September 1935 and learning that he was being summoned to Moscow, he
reported about this to Sedov, Trotsky’s son, in Paris. From Sedov he received by
special delivery a package in which were a note from Sedov to Putna and a
“letter of recommendation, written and signed personally by Trotsky” for
Tukhachevsky. Putna carried out Sedov’s task and during the first days of
October 1935 supposedly handed Tukhachevsky Trotsky’s letter. Tukhachevsky
familiarized himself with the letter and asked Putna to “transmit orally that
Trotsky could count on him.”
During the investigation Tukhachevsky only mentioned Sedov’s letter
that Putna had supposedly transmitted to him, and never said anything about the
letter from Trotsky that Putna testified about. (695)
On May 26, 1937 Tukhachevsky wrote the following statement: “. . . I
state that I admit the existence of an antisoviet military-Trotskyist conspiracy

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and that I was at its head . . . the foundation of the conspiracy relates to the year
On May 29 1937 Ezhov interrogated Tukhachevsky. As a result of this
interrogation there appeared the following confessions by Tukhachevsky:
“Already in 1928 I was brought into the Rightist organization by Enukidze. In
1934 I personally made contact with Bukharin. I established espionage ties with
the Germans in 1925, when I used to travel to Germany for study and
maneuvers. . . . On my trip to London in 1936 Putna arranged for me a meeting
with Sedov. . . . I was connected in this conspiracy with Fel’dman, S.S. Kamenev,
Iakir, Eideman, Enukidze, Bukharin, Karakhan, Pyatakov, I.N. Smirnov, Yagoda,
Osepian and a number of others.” (681-2)
. . . the investigation obtained their [Tukhachevsky’s and Putna’s]
“admissions” of a personal meeting with Sedov, supposedly arranged for
Tukhachevsky by Putna in 1936 in a café in Paris. Meanwhile detailed
information about Tukhachevsky’s stay in Paris from February 10 to 16 1936
came from Ventsov, Soviet military attaché to France, and from the organs of the
NKVD, but this information contained nothing about his meeting with Sedov. In
the course of the present verification Afanas’ev, a former worker of the Foreign
Section of the NKVD, member of the CPSU since 1923, expatiated upon this
“Between 1932 and 1938 I was continuously in illegal work abroad. I
headed the illegal resident buro in Paris which mainly worked on the
activities of Trotsky’s son Sedov and his circle. . . . We were up to date
on the most secret conspiratorial activity of Trotsky and Sedov.
Therefore when you pose me the question of whether meetings between
Sedov and Tukhachevsky, Putna, and other military figures of the Soviet
Union could have taken place, I can assert that that could not be true . . .
the agent reports and documentary materials we obtained in the process
of our work on Trotsky, Sedov, Kleman and in part on the ROVS in Paris
do not confirm either directly or indirectly the accusations that were
brought against the military figures of the Red Army in connection with
the case of Tukhachevsky, Kork, Gamarnik, Putna, and others.” (695-696)

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The language of the Shvernik Report makes it clear that its authors proceeded on
the preconceived assumption that no such conspiracy existed. It was designed to provide
“evidence” – likely-looking materials – for citation in further “rehabilitations.” Soviet
historians and researchers, as we have seen, were not to be permitted access to the
archives themselves.
In the case of Tukhachevsky’s alleged meeting with Sedov in the Paris café in
1936 the Report cites Ventsov, Soviet military attaché to France, who reported nothing
about it. Ventsov-Krants had been very close to Trotsky. According to an archival
document cited by Cherushev he had helped Trotsky write the book How The Revolution
Armed Itself.82 The report also cites an undated “former worker of the Foreign division of
the NKVD” named Afanas’ev – no first name or patronymic are given – who claimed
that Soviet intelligence in France were closely following information about Sedov and
Trotsky and knew nothing about any such meeting or any of the activities mentioned in
the Tukhachevsky case.
It’s worth making several points here. First, the fact that Ventsov and Afanas’ev
were told nothing about such a meeting cannot prove that such a meeting never took
place. It only means that they claim they did not know of it. Afanas’ev’s claim that Soviet
intelligence knew about “the most secret conspiratorial activities of Trotsky and Sedov,”
and so knew that Sedov could not have met with Tukhachevsky, is empty for another
reason. At or shortly after the time of the alleged meeting – late January or early February
1936 – Soviet intelligence man Mark Zborowski became Leon Sedov’s closest confidant.
We have Zborowski’s reports back to Moscow. But Zborowski himself was not privy to
all of Sedov’s secrets, and did not accompany him everywhere. Zborowski’s handwritten
notes and reports are in the archives and have been published, while we do not even
know Afanas’ev’s name. So the claim that Soviet intelligence knew about all Trotsky’s
and Sedov’s “most secret conspiratorial activities” cannot be true.
Rudenko’s Letter to Molotov
On April 13, 1956 the Presidium of the Central Committee of the CPSU passed a
decree establishing a commission to be chaired by V.M. Molotov to study the materials
82 N.S. Cherushev. 1937 god. Elita Krasnoi Armii na golgofe. Moscow: Veche, 2003 p. 208.

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of the “public trials.”83 The commission proved unsatisfactory to all concerned. It was
sharply divided between the three men who had been closest to Stalin and others who
were Khrushchev’s people. On December 10 1956 it issued a compromise report
exonerating Tukhachevsky and the military men but refusing to consider rehabilitating
any of the defendants in the public trials.84 Since we know that Molotov continued to be
firmly convinced of Tukhachevsky’s guilt we can assume this was, indeed, a compromise.
In 1957 Molotov, Malenkov and Kaganovich were dismissed from the Presidium for
attempting to have Khrushchev removed from office.
The Molotov Commission did study a lot of materials, but only some of their
documents have been made public. We will quote below from a report to that
commission from Rudenko, the General Prosecutor of the USSR. Rudenko was a staunch
supporter of Khrushchev; it was his office that would have to issue recommendations to
the Soviet Supreme Court to get convictions reversed, the legal aspect of “rehabilitation.”
Rudenko’s report has not been published. It was obtained by Krasnaia Zvezda (“Red
Star”), the military daily newspaper in Russia today as it was during Soviet times. We
obtained a copy of it in 2002. Once again, we will only reproduce quotations that deal
with the question of Trotsky and Germany/Japan, ignoring other aspects of this important
document. Passages of special interest to us are in italics.
Only on May 15, almost ten months after his arrest, after confessions about the
military conspiracy had been obtained from Medvedev, were confessions also
obtained from Putna about his counterrevolutionary ties with Tukhachevsky. At
this interrogation Putna confessed that in September 1935 he received Trotsky’s
directive concerning the attraction to the Trotskyist organization of high-ranking
military men. Trotsky also declared that he was aware that Tukhachevsky and
S.S. Kamenev were already carrying out counterrevolutionary work in the army,
and that it was essential to contact them. With this Trotsky handed a note for
Tukhachevsky, in which he proposed that he unite with the Trotskyist center for
83 Reabilitatsiia. Kak Eto Bylo. T. 2, No. 4 p. 70. Tukhachevsky was included even though his trial had not
been public.
84 RKEB 2 204-207; available online at <http://perpetrator2004.narod.ru/documents/kirov/Molotov_

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mutual counterrevolutionary activity. In October 1935 he handed this note to
Tukhachevsky, who accepted this proposal of Trotsky’s.
In January 1936 he informed Trotsky of the existence of a Trotskyist
military organization and its center consisting of Primakov, Putna and Dreitser,
about the connections of this organization and about recruitment.
At his interrogation of June 2 1937 Putna had already confessed that in
the spring of 1931 he had established espionage ties with the German G[eneral]
S[taff] and at various times gave the Germans, through their generals
Nedavmeister85 (?), Adam, and Bokkel’berg information about the military staff
of the Red army, its organizational structure and location of its forces, about
armaments and the system of military readiness. It is not apparent from these
interrogations precisely what information Putna transmitted.
Putna declared moreover that in 1936 at the time of his and
Tukhachevsky’s trip together to England Tukhachevsky compared the
relationship of forces and proved to him that the defeat of the USSR in a war
with Germany was inevitable. And that he, Putna, agreed with Tukhachevsky and
said to him that for the swiftest defeat of Soviet forces it was essential to act
together on the side of the Trotskyist organization. However Putna did not
confess how Tukhachevsky reacted to this.
Fel’dman also confessed that from Tukhachevsky’s words he was aware
that he had an agreement with Pyatakov concerning a disruption in the supply of
artillery, and also maintained a connection with Trotsky, from whom he was
receiving directives concerning counterrevolutionary activity. From his own
words Fel’dman learned that Egorov, commander of the VTSIK School was
preparing a “palace coup,” but Tukhachevsky said that Egorov was an indecisive
person and unsuitable for this purpose. In addition this School was being moved
out of the Kremlin and therefore a more realistic plan for the seizure of power –
as Tukhachevsky averred – was defeat of the Red army in the future war, and an
armed uprising.
But at this point Tukhachevsky declared that Putna and Primakov did not
trust him politically very much, that during their trips to Moscow Primakov gave
85 This is probably German General Oskar von Niedermayer, who worked for the Reichswehr (German
military) in an intelligence capacity in Moscow in the early 1930s, having formally resigned from the
military. He was a General again during World War II, was captured after the War by the Soviets, tried and
sentenced to 25 years in prison, and died shortly thereafter in 1948.

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the military center information but avoided conversations with Tukhachevsky on
this topic. That Primakov and Putna had private ties through their Trotskyist
centers and were maintaining contact with Trotsky. Tukhachevsky declared that
he personally did not share Trotskyist views and further admitted that in 1936 he
had received a note from Sedov in which the latter in Trotsky’s name proposed to
proceed to join with the Trotskyist cadres in the Red army in order to prepare the
seizure of power.
At the beginning of the interrogation Tukhachevsky confessed that he
had not met in person with either Trotsky or Sedov after their exile from the
Soviet Union. But at the end of the interrogation he declared that in 1932, when
he was at the maneuvers in the German army, he had established a personal
connection with Trotsky and had reached an agreement about carrying on
Trotskyist work in the Red army.
On that same day, May 27 1937, Tukhachevsky signed the transcript of
an interrogation in which he admitted to his leading role in the military
conspiracy, but these confessions differ significantly from those he had given
earlier. In these confessions Tukhachevsky said nothing about personal ties with
Trotsky and affirmed that he maintained ties with Trotsky through Romm and
Primakov. That it was through them that he received Trotsky’s directive that it
was essential to go over to terrorist methods of work, about which Tukhachevsky
had not confessed earlier.
In 1933 Tukhachevsky, who knew about my waverings on questions of the
Party’s policy in the village, and about my ties to former Trotskyists, after first
feeling me out, informed me that he was connected with Trotsky, according to
whose directive he was organizing a military conspiracy and proposed that I take
part in it. I gave Tukhachevsky my agreement, after which he said to me that he
was at the head of the conspiracy, that there was a military center whose staff he
proposed that I join. I agreed to become part of the staff of the center. In this
conversation Tukhachevsky informed me that Uborevich, with whom he had
recently had a conversation on this subject, was also in the center of the military
conspiracy. Tukhachevsky spoke about a directive of Trotsky’s that he had

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recently received and in which the following tasks were placed before the center
of the military conspiracy:
1. The organization of a coup in Moscow, in the Ukraine, and in a number of
other places in the Soviet Union with the aim of seizing power.
2. In the event that the coup d’etat was unsuccessful, to organize the defeat of the
Red army in a war with the Polish-German bloc and to organize the theater of
military operations and the armies accordingly.
3. To organize sabotage in the RKKA in both material-technical and military
4. Independently of Trotsky’s direct ties with the German General Staff and the
fascist government, it was important for the military center to organize these ties
Analysis of Rudenko’s Letter
Rudenko summarized details from some interrogations of Putna, Tukhachevsky
and Iakir that have not been made public. These passages tie Trotsky to collaboration
with Germany in several ways:
• Putna, the leading Trotskyist among the military men, claimed he had been in
touch with Trotsky; involved in a Trotskyist military organization, and
conspiring with the German General Staff.
• Tukhachevsky confirmed that Primakov and Putna were in touch with Trotsky,
as he himself was, and that he and the Trotskyist cadres were working
• According to Iakir, Tukhachevsky had said that the military conspiracy was
being organized in coordination with Trotsky and “according to his directive.”
• Iakir confirmed that the military conspirators were to work for the defeat of
the Red Army in a war with Germany and Poland.
• Iakir said that Trotsky had direct ties with the German General Staff.
This material suggests that there is yet more evidence in the investigation
materials of the Tukhachevsky group of Trotsky’s contacts with Germany.

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Voroshilov’s Talk at the Commissariat of Defense
From the same source we have obtained a copy of the transcript (stenogramma) of
a talk by Commissar of Defense Voroshilov to the military personnel in the Commissariat
(= Ministry) of Defense on June 9, 1937.86 Voroshilov read out quotations from
interrogations and court documents of the Tukhachevsky Affair.
Some of those quotations are not given in the transcript, or are given only
partially. We will use what we have, and will only cite those quotations that deal directly
with Trotsky and his alleged ties to either Germany or Japan or that confirm the
information in Rudenko’s report.
June 9 1937
BOTH PUTNA and all the rest of them tell about how they linked their work
with the principal scoundrel and main gunman of counterrevolution in our
country who was driven out of this country – Trotsky.
Here is what PUTNA says:
“ – When I found out (he was saying this to the investigator) that I was being
recalled to Moscow in the last days of September 1935 I reported about this to
Sedov. (Reads PUTNA’s confessions)
They [the investigators – GF] asked him this question: “Was Trotsky’s letter
handed to Tukhachevsky, when and under what circumstances.”
Answer: “Trotsky’s letter was handed to Tukhachevsky. (reads).
What Tukhachevsky says about this. They asked him this question: “when did
you establish contact with Trotsky and what directives did you receive from
Answer: “I established contact with Trotsky through Romm in 1932. The latter
brought him a note in 1935 too. Obviously this was not the first note.
“In 1932 . . . (reads). Further he relates what Romm said to him. “Everything that
he reported I approved, then I met with him in 1933 and 1934. When in fact the
antisoviet work in the army had already been developed by me there took place
my second meeting with Romm in Moscow . . .” (reads).
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That’s what Tukhachevsky says about his contacts with Trotsky and about those
tasks which the latter set before him.
Here are you see it’s not just a question of Trotsky’s assigning tasks on his own
account, but Trotsky at the same time has instructions also from the German
General Staff. I have information that it is not only the German General Staff
that has influence on Trotsky, but that the latter was connected to the Japanese
General Staff as well, or in any case with its intelligence organs.
Primakov answers the question what tasks were set before him and what he did:
“Trotsky’s basic directives . . . were known to me too from the words of Dreitser
and Putna, they came down to this, that Trotsky was demanding to reestablish a
military organization, to strengthen it in the army as well, making use of the
sharpening of the class struggle . . . up to 1933.”
. . .
Putna about his spying: “A few days later” (reads) . . . Then while conversations
went on: “about the desirability of changing the system, the leadership in the
USSR . . .” (reads).
That means that preparatory conversations were going on, and then further:
“Shleikher expressed his unequivocal readiness . . .” (reads). He brought this to
Trotsky’s attention through this gentleman Sedov and Sedov reports that Trotsky
proposes: (reads). (Emphasis added) (Voenniy Sovet 372-373; 384)
The testimony here generally accords with what we have seen previously, no
doubt because Voroshilov drew his information from the same interrogations. The
“Shleikher” named here is no doubt General Kurt von Schleicher, Chancellor of Germany
from June 1932 to January 1933 and previously Minister of Defense.
Colonel L.A. Shnitman
Further evidence about contacts between the military conspirators and Trotsky
keeps coming to light. In a 2009 book we read the following:
In September 1937 Ezhov sent Stalin a special communication containing an
assessment of the activities of Colonel L.A. Shnitman, military attaché to
Czechoslovakia. There was compromising material stating that he was aide to

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Komandarm 2nd rank A.I. Kork, military attaché to Germany. In January 1937 a
group of Soviet pilots who had served in Spain had been detained in France, and
Shnitman was also blamed for this. During his interrogation he had also told the
investigators about his “meetings” upon Tukhachevsky’s instructions in Paris
with Sedov, Trotsky’s son, concerning the transmission of secret information to
foreign intelligence services. (Khaustov-Samuel’son 226)
Evaluating This Evidence
As with a great many other statements in this book the authors give no citation,
not even an archival source, for this information. What are we to make of this?
Both authors are extremely anticommunist and very hostile to Stalin. They reject
out of hand any possibility that any of the Opposition conspiracies actually existed. Their
book contains many falsifications, significant omissions, and outright lies, all in an
anticommunist direction. There’s no reason to think they would ever fabricate a story of a
connection between Shnitman and Sedov, or between Sedov and Tukhachevsky.
Moreover, Khaustov is associated with the “Memorial” organization. He is one of a few
privileged researchers who has access to many archival documents.
We may conclude, therefore, that an interrogation of Shnitman’s does exist in
which he confesses to contacting Sedov on Tukhachevsky’s behalf and discussing with
him passing Soviet secrets to foreign countries. Another “Memorial” society source
reports that Shnitman was convicted of “espionage [and] participation in a military
conspiracy in the Red Army.”87 This is what we would expect if Shnitman did confess as
Khaustov and Samuel’son affirm. Yet another source confirms that Shnitman was aide to
the military attaché to Germany in 1926-1929 and again in 1934-35, was military attaché
to Finland in 1929-30 and military attaché to Czechoslovakia 1936-1938.88
The date of Ezhov’s memorandum to Stalin as given by Khaustov and
Samuel’son, September 1937, is curious. There’s good evidence from other sources that
Shnitman was arrested on January 14, 1938 and that his trial and execution took place on
87 “Kommunarka. 1938. Avgust.” At <http://www.memo.ru/memory/communarka/Chapt10.htm&gt;; “Spiski
zhertv” <http://lists.memo.ru/d37/f245.htm#n43&gt;. These are both “Memorial Society” sources.
88 <http://baza.vgd.ru/1/38052/&gt;.

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August 28, 1938.89 One would expect that an interrogation in which Shnitman made such
self-incriminating disclosures must have taken place between these two dates rather than
prior to Ezhov’s September 1937 communication to Stalin. Surely no one who had
confessed to such crimes would have been left at large for another four months. That
deduction in turn implies that Khaustov and Samuel’son saw not just Ezhov’s note to
Stalin but at least part of Shnitman’s investigative file.
The “foreign intelligence service” Sedov and, through Shnitman, Tukhachevsky
were spying for is not named. But it must have been Germany. Tukhachevsky had ties
with the German General Staff about which he confessed at length, as we have seen,
while Shnitman had had some connection to Germany but not to any other of the great
European powers.
In a book of more than 400 pages the authors devote only this single paragraph to
Shnitman’s case. Indeed, there is no particular reason they should have inserted this
paragraph at all. The implication is that there may be more – perhaps much more –
evidence of contact between Trotsky or Sedov and Germany or Japan, to say nothing of
Trotsky’s contacts with Soviet oppositionists.
Other Evidence From The Soviet Archives of Trotsky’s Collaboration
To this point we’ve confined our attention to documents from the former Soviet
archives containing evidence of “first-hand” contact between Trotsky and Germany or
Japan. The persons whose accounts we have examined claim that they knew of Trotsky’s
contact with Germany or Japan either from Trotsky himself or from German or Japanese
Although the dividing line between first- and second-hand evidence is a clear one,
the evidentiary value of second-hand evidence is not necessarily less. For example we
now have Nikolai Bukharin’s first confession of June 2, 1937, a document still top-secret
in Russia today but that turned up in an archive that was sent West sometime in the mid-
1990s. We have examined this confession in detail in another study to which we refer the
interested reader.
89 O.F. Suvenirov. Tragediia RKKA 1937-1938. Institut Voennoi Istorii Ministerstva Oborony Rossiiskoi
Federatsii. Moscow: “Terra,” 1998, p. 441, No. 262.

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It is significant because Bukharin confirms what we have already learned from
Radek’s testimony, since Bukharin’s knowledge of Trotsky’s collaboration with
Germany came only through Radek. Radek had implicated Bukharin in pretrial
statements and then again at the public January 1937 Moscow trial. Bukharin had denied
what Radek said over and over again, but on June 2 1937 he reversed himself and
Why did Bukharin decide to confess? It appears that one reason may have been
that Bukharin had learned of Tukhachevsky’s arrest, and figured “the jig was up.”90 In his
final statement at the March 1938 Moscow Trial Bukharin said that “of course, the
evidence” played a determining role. That must mean evidence recently obtained and
shown to him, which would no doubt include the evidence of the military conspirators.
If Bukharin’s testimony contradicted Radek’s we would be forced to conclude that on the
evidence one or both were wrong. Since Bukharin’s statement confirms Radek’s, their
statements mutually corroborate, or strengthen each other.
Yagoda’s Confessions 1937
There exists a good deal more such “second-hand evidence” of Trotsky’s
collaboration with the Germans and Japanese in recently published Soviet archival
Genrikh S. Yagoda was Commissar of the NKVD (= Minister of Internal Affairs),
which included the political police, from 1934 till he was dismissed in September 1936.
He was arrested in early March, 1937. Subsequently he was one of the leading defendants
in the third Moscow trial of March 1938.
In 1997 a number of materials from Genrikh Yagoda’s investigative file were
published in a very small edition of 200 copies in the provincial city of Kazan’ by some
researchers employed by the FSB, successor to the KGB. Since that time some of the
documents published in this collection have been published elsewhere, evidently from
copies held in different archives. In these interrogation transcripts Yagoda makes startling
90 See Grover Furr and Vladimir Bobrov, “Nikolai Bukharin’s ’s First Statement of Confession in the
Lubianka.” Cultural Logic 2007, 17 and nn. 32 and 33. Bibliographic information of the Russian original of
this article is given there.

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confessions. These confessions include details of his collaboration with German
Avel’ Enukidze was a high-ranking Party official and member of the Soviet
government who had been arrested earlier. Only two interrogations of Enukidze’s have
been published: one in a collection of Yagoda materials in 1997, another in the second of
the “Lubianka-Stalin” volumes in 2004. In neither does Enukidze speak much about
Trotsky. In the volume of materials devoted to Yagoda, however, we find the following
remark about Enukidze, Trotsky and the Germans. We have italicized passages of special
interest to our investigation.
In the first place, in 1935 the prospects of a war by a strengthened Germany
against the Soviet Union were growing with each day. In that connection it was
necessary to move ahead swiftly and make an agreement with them.
Enukidze told me that Trotsky abroad had established full contact with German
governmental circles, and that Enukidze himself also had a line of contact with
the Germans. (Genrikh Yagoda 193)
According to Yagoda, Enukidze both knew of Trotsky’s “full-scale contact” with
“German governmental circles,” and told him that he, Enukidze, had his own such
Yagoda also testified about Lev Karakhan’s ties to Trotsky and the Germans.
But I am aware that in the orientation to and conspiracies with German
governmental circles both the Trotskyists and Zinovievists, on the one side, and
the Rights, on the other side, had their own separate lines [of contact].
Question: How did they differ and where do you know this from?
Answer: Karakhan spoke to me about this in one of our talks with him in 1935.
The essence of these two lines in orientation to and contact with the Germans
consists in the following: the Trotskyist-Zinovievist part of our center was
carrying out negotiations with German governmental circles through Trotsky,
who was in emigration, isolated from the Soviet Union, ignorant of the internal
processes of the country and ready to give away everything just in order to
overthrow Soviet power and return to Russia as soon as possible.

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We, the Rights, had a different attitude. We were not supporters of a new
partition of Russia, as Trotsky was doing. . . .
Karakhan’s connection with the Germans had existed for a long time. And the
center of the Rights used this line of contact, already established, as a real line,
and offered to Karakhan to enter into official negotiations with the German
governmental circles. I have already confessed that Karakhan was in Berlin after
this and met there with Nadolny and Hess (or Goebbels) and, as he said to me,
had already in 1936 achieved significant concessions from the Germans.
Question: What concessions?
Answer: Concessions of the servile conditions on the basis of which the
agreement with Trotsky had been achieved. (Genrikh Yagoda 194-195)
Karakhan apparently claimed to have had his own ties to the Germans through Nadolny
(presumably Rudolf Nadolny, German diplomat) and either Hess or Goebbels. Others of
the Rights testified at the March 1938 Trial that Karakhan and Yagoda were very critical
of Trotsky’s dealings with the Germans, believing that Trotsky was cut off from the
realities of life in the USSR and was yielding far too much to the Germans just in hopes
of returning to power.
Assessing the Evidence: Yagoda’s Confessions
Scholars with “impeccable” anticommunist credentials have cited these
documents unproblematically. For example, Marc Jansen and Nikita Petrov cite this work
as a primary source, without claiming that the interrogations in it were, or even might
have been, faked, obtained by compulsion, etc.91 One of the documents has also been
published in a semiofficial collection of documents from the Soviet archives, a fact that
further attests to their genuine nature.92 We may therefore conclude that the documents
really do come from the Yagoda investigative file and are generally conceded to be
91 E.g. Jansen & Petrov 220 n.23, 224 n. 110, 226 n. 9, 228 n.40. Petrov is a senior researcher with the
highly anticommunist organization “Memorial”; Jansen is a major anticommunist researcher of the Soviet
92 The documents published as Nos. 40 and 41 in Genrikh Yagoda 108-136 were also published as
document No. 59, pp. 135-145 in the official collection Lubianka. Stalin i glavnoe upravlenie
gosbezopasnosti NKVD 1937-1938 (Moscow: “Materik,” 2004).

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These documents merit a detailed analysis in and of themselves. Their contents
intersect with many other materials now available such as confession statements by other
individuals arrested in connection with the investigations concerning espionage and
conspiracy, and the transcript of the Third Moscow trial.
At the end of each of Yagoda’s confessions printed in this 1997 volume is a
disclaimer, variously worded. At the end of interrogation two, Yagoda’s first confession,
which took place on April 26, 1937 (pp. 109-137) we read:
Information about the conspirator-employees of the NKVD is falsified. Other
aforementioned statement by Yagoda are not credible.
For more information about the repression of Chekists in the middle
1930s see Palchinsky A.A. “Represii v organakh NKVD v seredine 30-kh
godov,” in Political persecution in Russia: Historical and contemporary.
St.Petersburg: 1997, pp. 284-294.
At the end of the second confession, of May 4, 1937 (pp. 137-143):
Information about the conspirator-employees of the NKVD is falsified.
At the end of the third (May 13, 1937, pp. 144-167):
All information in the transcript concerning acts of terror and conspiracies are
V.M. Primakov and the other military men were fully rehabilitated in
1937. Izvestiia TsK KPSS No. 4 (1989), 42-73. A.I. Rykov, N.I. Bukharin and
others were rehabilitated in 1988. Izvestiia TsK KPSS No. 5 (1989), 69-92.
B.I. Nikolaevsky (1887-1966), in 1903-1906 a Bolshevik, then a
Menshevik, political émigré. Nikolaevsky refuted the reports that he received any
packets from Rykov. Sotsialisticheskii Vestnik No. 5 (1938), 12. For more detail
on P.P. Ol’berg and Shemelev see V.Z. Rogovin, 1937. Moscow, 1966.
At the end of the fourth (May 19, 1937, pp. 167-184):

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All information about conspiracies and acts of terror is falsified. The case of the
murder of S.M. Kirov remains open to this day. A.E. Enukidze and the other
persons named in the transcript were rehabilitated in the 1960s-1980s.
The fifth (May 26, 1937, pp. 185-199):
All information in the transcript concerning conspiracy and accusations of
“espionage” is falsified. L.M. Karakhan and the other persons named in the
transcript have been rehabilitated.
At the end of a two-page statement by Yagoda to Ezhov concerning NKVD worker
Mironov (June 4, 1937, pp. 200-202):
The information in the document is not credible.
At the end of the interrogation of December 28, 1937 (pp. 202-218):
The information is not credible. Professor L.G. Levin and other doctors were
later rehabilitated because there is no evidence of any crime in their activities.
The end of the “face-to-face confrontation” (ochnaia stavka) between Yagoda and Dr.
Levin of January 4, 1938, pp. 218-223:
The information cited in the transcript is not credible.
The end of the confrontation between Yagoda and Dr. Kriuchkov of January 5, 1938, pp.
The answers are not credible. P.P. Kriuchkov was later rehabilitated because
there is no evidence of any crime in his activities.
The end of the confrontation between Yagoda and Professor D.D. Pletnev of January 5,
1938, pp. 227-230:

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The answers are not credible. Professor D.D. Pletnev was was later rehabilitated
because there is no evidence of any crime in his activities.
The end of the confrontation between Dr. Levin, also of January 5, 1938, pp. 231-233:
The “confessions” of L.G. Levin and P.P. Kriuchkov were later refuted as not
At the end of the interrogation of Yagoda held on January 10, 1938, pp. 235-239:
Yagoda’s answers are not credible.
There are similar remarks at the end of the interrogation – confession of Artuzov, of June
15, 1937 (pp. 487-499). We will consider Artuzov’s confession below.
The information given by Artuzov is not credible. Later it was all refuted in his
The same kind of comments are made at the end of other interrogation –
confessions which we do not consider here, such as those of Avel’ Enukidze and of
NKVD men Bulanov, Prokof’ev, Radzivilovskii, and Trilisser.
Assessing These Documents: “Rehabilitations”
The comments cited above are of course not a critical analysis, or any kind of
analysis, of the confessions of Yagoda’s that the volume reproduces. In fact, the book has
no analysis of the assertions made in the interrogation – confessions at all.
Some of the comments allude to “rehabilitations.” Most such “rehabilitations”
have not been made public, so we can’t evaluate them. However, we know a good deal
about a number of “rehabilitations” of well-known figures – enough to know that they are
political, not historically accurate, documents.
Specifically, we have a good deal of the material on Bukharin’s “rehabilitation.”
We know that it does not prove him innocent in the slightest. On the contrary, in their
decree “rehabilitating” Bukharin the Plenum of the Soviet Supreme Court falsified a key

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document – Frinovsky’s confession of April 11, 1939, which was not public in February,
1988 when Bukharin’s case came before it, but has been published since. Far from
proving Bukharin innocent, Frinovsky’s confession in fact shows him to have been
guilty. Our essay on this subject is in press at a Russian publisher.
We also have a good deal of information about the “rehabilitation” of Professor
D.D. Pletnev. Pletnev features in Yagoda’s file and in some of the documents printed
here. Unlike the case of Bukharin, most of Pletnev’s file still remains secret. But we have
enough to know that it did not prove him “innocent” at all.93 Earlier in the present essay
we pointed out that the “rehabilitation” document of Zinoviev and his codefendants
contains evidence of Zinoviev’s guilt rather than his innocence.
So “rehabilitations” are not proof that the individuals “rehabilitated” were
innocent, even though they are presented as though they were. Rather, they are official
claims that the individuals “rehabilitated” will be considered to be innocent, and in future
will be declared to have been “victims” of “Stalin’s crimes.” “Rehabilitations” are
political acts, not exercises in the reconsideration of evidence. Marc Junge, a German
researcher on the repressions of the 1930s and a determined proponent of the “anti-
Stalin” paradigm put it this way:
In agreement with von Goudoever it may be definitively established that
rehabilitation in the Soviet Union remained an act of political-administrative
caprice that was determined above all by political usefulness, not by juridical
It appears that the “disclaimers” quoted above and attached to the end of every
confession-statement in this volume are the same kind of thing. They indirectly inform
the reader something like this: “We, the editors of this volume, do not claim that the
93 For a detailed study of Bukharin’s and Pletnev’s “rehabilitations” proving them to be falsified and, in
fact, proving both Bukharin and Pletnev guilty see Grover Furr and Vladimir Bobrov, Bukharin na plakhe
(“Bukharin on the block”), forthcoming.
94 “In Übereinstimmung zu von Goudoever kann abschließend festgestellt wurden, daß Rehabilitierung in
der Sowjetunion ein politisch-administrativer Willkürakt blieb, der vor allem von der politischen
Zweckmäßigkeit der Maßnahmen bestimmt wurde, nicht aber von der strafrechtlichen Korrektheit.”
Bucharins Rehabilitierung. Historisches Gedächtnis in der Sowjetunion 1953-1991. Berlin: BasisDruck
Vlg, 1999, 266. This is discussed in more detail in Furr and Bobrov 5 ff.

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contents of these confession-statements are true. We assert that they are ‘not trustworthy’
or ‘falsified’ but we cannot prove it and, in fact, have no evidence to that effect. If you
want evidence, refer to the ‘rehabilitations’ of the individuals in question – which, in fact,
you cannot gain access to.”
The editors of the Yagoda volume are employees of the FSB, the successor to the
KGB – that is, the Russian intelligence and security service. Not to state that these
confessions are “false” or at least “not trustworthy” would be for them to take a position
contradictory to what some important Russian (and Soviet) state institutions have taken in
the past. It’s not the job of the state security service to call some other state institution a
liar. Whatever else it may mean this formula allows them to avoid doing so.
We can deduce something more from these brief phrases. We may assume that if
there were any other kind of evidence that the statements made in the confessions and
interrogations were false, that evidence would be cited. Since no such evidence is cited,
in effect these notes constitute a kind of admission that the contents of the confessions
cannot be shown to be false.
One could object that here too “lack of evidence is not evidence of the lack” of
contradictory evidence. In reality, however, we know from the published volumes of
Rehabilitation documents that during Gorbachev’s time very thorough searches of the
archives were carried out with a view to finding evidence that the condemned Opposition
defendants of the 1930s were falsely convicted. In the case of Yagoda, the Moscow Trials
defendants, and the “Tukhachevsky Affair” no such evidence was found.
As we have noted, even some Cold-War scholars who reject the validity of the
Moscow Trials on principle accept these Yagoda documents at face value and have cited
them as genuine without negative comment on the veracity of their contents. Arch Getty
has criticized them for using such sources, claiming that, for instance, “everybody
knows” that Ezhov’s confessions were coerced and falsified by his interrogators
(Kritika). That is simply not true. Neither Getty nor anybody else “knows” this. Evidence
is not to be “believed” or “disbelieved” – much less rejected or disregarded – but
considered in the context of all the other evidence. To say that Yagoda’s confession may
be false is also to say that they may not be false. That is, absent any information that they

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were false, there is no more basis for “disbelieving” than for “believing” them. In fact,
not even the anticommunist scholars have rejected them as invalid.
If Yagoda’s confessions were the only evidence we had of oppositionists
conspiring with Germany or Japan, we would still have no grounds to discard them. On
the contrary: testimony that such an illegal contact existed is, while certainly not
conclusive, far more compelling than any claims to the contrary. This is a principle of
investigation so self-evident it is seldom discussed. In the case of a person accused of a
crime, one may expect denial in any case: by an innocent person, because he is innocent;
while by a guilty person because he wishes to escape the consequences of his crime.
Therefore confessions of guilt are of greater interest than professions of innocence.
But Yagoda’s confessions are far from the only evidence we have that the
opposition was conspiring with Germany and/or Japan. In fact they constitute just one
group of a large body of evidence that suggests such conspiracy. As with any confession
of guilt, the existence of this testimony is prima facie evidence that the confessions are
true. They are confirmed by Yagoda’s appeal for clemency published in 1992, which
reads as follows:
My guilt before my country is great. It is impossible to redeem it to any extent. It
is hard to die. Before the whole people and Party I stand on my knees and beg
you to have mercy on me and let me live.95
Every one of the ten persons whose confessions were reproduced along with
Yagoda’s insisted upon his guilt in his appeal. Bukharin wrote that his guilt was so great
he “should be shot ten times over.” As we have already noted Dr. Natan Lur’e repeated
his guilt:
I really did prepare the assassination of Voroshilov upon instruction from Franz
Weitz, a Gestapo representative. I wished to accomplish these disgusting murders
because I had been poisoned by the poison of Trotskyism during my long stay in
95 “Rasskaz o desiati rasstreliannykh”.

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No single piece of evidence is univocal, pointing towards a single conclusion
only. One might perhaps imagine an example of an innocent person who nevertheless
was persuaded to confess again and again in pretrial interrogations; to do so again at trial;
to protest his innocence of certain capital crimes in vehement terms while at the same
time confirming his guilt of other capital crimes; and then confessing his guilt again in
his appeal. But we have to draw our historical conclusions not on imagination but
evidence. There is no evidence to refute Yagoda’s confessions, while they confirm and
are consistent with a great deal of evidence we do have.
Based on the nature and amount of the evidence we have we must conclude that
Leon Trotsky did indeed collaborate with the Germans and Japanese.
The evidence we have cited cannot be accounted for by any processes of
• There is far too much of it.
• Much of it was never intended to be made public.
• It comes from different sources.
• It is all mutually corroborative. Evidence about Trotsky’s German/Japanese
collaboration is part of a complex of evidence about other conspiracies by
other persons. Those conspiracies are well supported by evidence too. This
corroborates the part of that evidence that inculpates Trotsky.
• Some of the evidence — that of the Tukhachevsky Affair interrogation
testimony and trial confessions, and Iakovlev’s confession.– is so strong that
it would be sufficient to establish the fact of Trotsky’s collaboration in and of
itself, even if we did not have any additional archival or trial evidence.
• There is no evidence counteracting it.
During Khrushchev’s time; during Gorbachev’s tenure as head of the CPSU and
then of the USSR; during Eltsin’s time; and in fact until today, an enormous amount of
effort has been devoted by the Soviet government and Party leaders and subsequently by
the Russian government to find evidence in the archives that proves the Moscow Trials
and Tukhachevsky Affair defendants were framed. All such searches have been fruitless.

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In principle all claims to historical truth always remain subject to revision in the light of
future evidence. But in this case it seems there is nowhere for future contradictory
evidence to come from. Even though they are still top-secret and only a tiny number of
researchers can see them, still we know that the Soviet archives have been thoroughly
searched. It seems safe to surmise that no such evidence will be discovered in future. In
fact just the opposite is the case: we can be confident that much in the archives is still
classified because it would confirm the guilt of the defendants of the 1930s and
disconfirm the “anti-Stalin” paradigm. This would be the “cannon shot,” in Col.
Alksnis’s words, that would destroy the anticommunist – and, of course, the Trotskyist —
historiography of the Stalin era.
Objectivity and Denial
There is only one conclusion consistent with an objective assessment of the
evidence we now have. We have drawn this conclusion here out of no animosity towards
Trotsky or partisanship for Stalin. Like other people, scholars have preconceived ideas
and prejudices. In the search for historical truth as in science, scholars are obliged to form
an hypothesis and put it to the test – which means being ready to find evidence
contradictory to their hypothesis. In this case the evidence confirms our hypothesis that
Trotsky did collaborate with Germany and Japan.
We are confident that some people will reject this conclusion. Few subjects
during the past century have so engaged the passions of so many men and women as has
the communist movement. Within that movement surely one of the most contentious
issues has and continues to be the “Stalin vs Trotsky” debate. There are few “Stalinists”
around today – though that situation may be changing somewhat, especially within
Russia. There are many more supporters of Trotsky. Trotskyists are passionately devoted
to a heroic version of Trotsky’s life and legacy. Anticommunists and Trotskyists are both
loyal to a paradigm of Soviet history and especially of the 1930s that is utterly
incompatible with the conclusions we have drawn in this essay.
We predict that regardless of the evidence neither staunch anticommunists nor
Trotskyists will ever accept that Trotsky did in fact collaborate with Germany and Japan.
The “Cold War” paradigm of Soviet history during Stalin’s time depends upon the

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construction of Stalin as an evil man who was killing innocent people and destroying the
communist movement. If Trotsky and, by implication, the oppositionists who worked
with him were guilty of what they were charged with and to which most, though of
course not Trotsky, confessed, then this “Cold War” paradigm of Soviet history is
Trotsky’s and Sedov’s denials cannot be taken seriously. Someone who had
access to the closed Trotsky archives at Harvard purged them. No one could expect
Trotsky or Sedov, or anyone who had that archival access, to be objective about Trotsky,
so we can be certain that they were not.
But no one lies if the truth is on their side. It is true generally that denials of guilt
are of little interest to any investigator. The guilty as well as the innocent can be expected
to proclaim their innocence. And if confessions of guilt should not be automatically
assumed to be truthful, the same is true of professions of innocence.
It is certain that some readers of this essay will “deny” the results of this analysis
by raising one or more of the objections we will now consider.
The issue of torture is cited very often as, supposedly, an “explanation” for the
confessions by all the persons whose testimony we have cited here. In fact this is a very
weak explanation.
Is it possible that all the accounts by all the witnesses we have cited could have
been obtained by torturing, or otherwise forcing, the witnesses to make these statements,
and then carefully co-ordinating or “scripting” them? Is it possible that all the defendants
memorized “scripted” confessions to make during the investigation, when the materials
were all secret; then again at the public trial; and then again in the texts of their secret
appeals for clemency to the Soviet Supreme Court – and all out of fear of “torture”?
The question of torture is an important one as it goes to the heart of our study and
of historical methodology generally – namely, the question of evidence. First: it is not
easy to determine whether or not a given individual was, in fact, tortured.
• It should be obvious that the mere fact that a defendant claims he was tortured
does not mean that he was in fact tortured. Of course the general principle is

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that no one should simply be assumed to be telling the truth, or assumed to be
lying, without substantiating evidence. Falsely claiming one was tortured
could be a way of explaining shameful behavior – naming others in one’s
confession, for example – while preserving some self-respect or dignity.
During and after the Khrushchev period it became well known that defendants
could often get their convictions vacated and rights restored by claiming they
had been tortured.
• We can’t conclude that an arrestee was tortured simply because an NKVD
investigator later said that he was. This is true a fortiori if the NKVD man (or
someone else) claims to know it at second hand, from someone else, rather
than confessing to torturing the prisoner himself.
• We have to be skeptical of what NKVD men or other investigators wrote or
testified during the Khrushchev years. During this time NKVD men were not
simply threatened with serious penalties, including death, but some were
actually executed on the grounds that they had beaten prisoners during the
1930s up to 1940-41, despite the fact that Khrushchev himself admitted this
had been permitted by a Central Commitee decision.
• Even less can we accept the “fruit of the poisoned tree” argument: “A was,
apparently, tortured, and he named B and C, so ALL were, in fact, innocent.”
The “fruit of the poisoned tree” logic is a judicial – legal – principle. It means
that evidence obtained in an unlawful manner should not be used in court even
when that evidence discloses a crime. It does not speak to the question of guilt
or innocence, and guilt (or innocence) is what we are interested in.
• We can’t conclude that an arrestee was innocent of the crimes he was charged
with, or to which he confessed, on the sole grounds that he, or someone else,
claims he was tortured. First, those claims may be false. Second, the fact that
someone has been tortured does not mean that they were innocent. Guilty
persons can also be tortured.
• Repeated written complaints of torture, coupled with a retraction of
confessions during the investigation, at trial, or both, make it likely that the
prisoner’s claims are true. If and when they are also accompanied by

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confessions by the torturer(s) and/or their superiors, the claims become even
more credible. But we have none of these things concerning the defendants at
the Moscow Trials or the Tukhachevsky Affair.
Furthermore, even if we could be reasonably assured that a defendant was
tortured, that does not mean that the defendant was innocent of all crimes he was charged
with. A number of defendants who claimed they were tortured made differentiated
confessions, withdrawing part of their confessions on the grounds that they were false,
made under duress, but not withdrawing other parts. This is strong evidence that the part
of the confession not withdrawn is truthful – for otherwise, why not withdraw or deny it
The fact that a confession could not be used in evidence against a defendant
unless it had been confirmed at trial, and that many defendants did in fact retract their
confessions at trial, means that we should be hesitant to discount confessions by persons
who did not retract their confessions at trial when they could have done so.
We can be confident – at least, until good evidence to the contrary should be
discovered – that the torture of many defendants, though not of those whose statements
we examine in this article, did take place because the evidence for it comes from a
number of different sources. The chances that all that evidence could have been
“orchestrated” – fabricated into a coherent pattern – become negligable.
For the same reason we can be confident that Trotsky did conspire with the
Germans and Japanese. There is so much evidence of it, from so many different sources,
and it is so consistent with other information we have, that the chances it has all been
fabricated is vanishingly small.
The Charge of “Torture” As A Smokescreen
Could torture have been going on “behind the scenes” so that we have no
knowledge of it? Or, should we simply assume that a defendant was tortured if he
confessed to serious crimes, even if we have no evidence that he was?
To this objection the response has to be: No. We must always demand evidence.
Without evidence that some event occurred it is illegitimate to conclude that it did. It is
not scientific to assume that something is going on unseen and leaving no trace. If in fact

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there is no material evidence that a given witness was lying, while evidence that
corroborates some of his statements does exist, we must conclude that he was not lying.
Likewise, absent evidence that a person was tortured it is illegitimate to assume that he
We have no evidence that any of the defendants in the three Moscow Trials were
tortured. In the best-documented case we know as certainly as we ever can that Bukharin
was NOT tortured.96 Steven Cohen, author of the most famous and influential book about
Bukharin, has concluded that Bukharin could not have been tortured.97 Cohen is still
convinced Bukharin was innocent, but has no way of explaining why he confessed.
It should be obvious that guilty persons can be tortured too. “Means of physical
pressure,” the usual general term (and euphemism) in the USSR at this time, could be
applied to defendants to induce them to confess to what they actually had done, as well as
to make false confessions of crimes they had never committed. Therefore, even if it can
be proven somehow that a person actually has been tortured that does not mean he did not
commit the acts he is charged with. It only means that his confession should not be used
against him at trial. Therefore the issue of torture is separate from the issue of guilt or
In a court procedure evidence that a defendant has made statements because of
mistreatment or threats is sufficient to have the statements thrown out. This practice is
necesary to protect the rights of the defendant. It’s also necessary to guarantee that the
investigators actually try to solve crimes instead of simply mistreating suspects until one
of them confesses. Historians are faced with a different situation. The question of guilt or
innocence is not at all the same as that of whether a defendant received a fair trial.98
A guilty person may confess guilt whether tortured or not. A guilty person may
claim innocence even if tortured, or if not tortured. Likewise, an innocent person may
confess guilt if tortured, but innocent persons have been known to falsely confess guilt
96 Furr and Bobrov, CL p. 10 and note.
97 Cohen (Koen), “Bukharin na Lubianke.” Svobodnaia Mysl’ 21 (3) 2003, p. 61.
98 Everyone agrees that the Haymarket defendants in Chicago in 1886 did not receive a fair trial, but there
is debate about whether one of them, August Spies, may have fabricated the bomb or another, Louis Lingg,
may have thrown it. Likewise everyone agrees that Sacco and Vanzetti did not receive a fair trial in
Massachusetts in 1921, but there is some disagreement as to whether Sacco may in fact have committed the
murder for which they were executed.

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without any compulsion at all. And an innocent person may persist in proclaiming her
innocence under torture or absent any mistreatment.
Among the military figures Putna and Fel’dman may have been beaten. We do not
even know that for certain. It is stated in the Shvernik Report and in the “rehabilitation”
document of 1989 that draws upon it. But many of these “rehabilitation” documents are
falsified. As always, there is no certain evidence.
But even if they were beaten, that has no bearing at all upon whether they were
guilty or innocent. The Shvernik Report contains much evidence of their guilt. So,
whether they were tortured or not, we have a lot of evidence that they were guilty. And it
is guilt or innocence – what happened – rather than whether proper judicial procedure
was used, that concerns us here.
The idea that not only the military men in the Tukhachevsky Affair but all the
defendants in all the Moscow Trials could have been made to confess to false charges by
torture or the threat of it, despite the lack of evidence of either torture or threat, is as
absurd as any statement we are likely to face. But that fact is never going to stop those
who need to believe these men were innocent from believing it.
We have no evidence that any of the other defendants in the Tukhachevsky Affair
were beaten or otherwise tortured. As we have seen above in our examination of the
Budienny letter we have excellent evidence that these men confessed at their private trial.
We know that Khrushchev-era and Gorbachev-era “rehabilitation” commissions lied and
dissembled in a vain attempt to prove the innocence of these and many other defendants,
and have discussed a number of examples of this in detail in an examination of
Khrushchev’s “Secret Speech” of 1956.
The charge of “torture” serves the purpose of deflecting attention away from the
evidence that we do have. As invoked in the historiography of the Moscow Trials and
Tukhachevsky Affair it is a smokescreen, a rhetorical, propaganda device to stop us from
looking squarely at the large body of evidence we have. It is an attempt to make us
disregard that evidence.

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Lack of German Or Japanese Evidence
The objection will be heard: “If there had really been such a conspiracy then some
documentation of it would have been found in captured German or Japanese archives.”
The principle “lack of evidence is not evidence of a lack” applies here. The lack of
evidence in German or Japanese archives does not destroy the other evidence we do have,
and which we have analyzed above. It does not mean that no conspiracy existed.
And it is not quite true either. We do have evidence from both Czech and German
archives that during the period roughly from the end of 1936 through the first quarter of
1937 Hitler and the German government were awaiting a military coup against the Stalin
regime. Thanks to a slip of the tongue by a Japanese military commander in a talk with
Japanese journalists in early 1937 we know that Opposition figures within the USSR
were sending the Japanese military information – that, is, committing espionage.99
Genrikh Liushkov privately told the Japanese that real conspiracies existed among Soviet
military leaders, even naming some of those against whom other evidence exists. We also
have a great deal of other evidence concerning the defendants in the Moscow Trials and
the Tukhachevsky Affair that points to the guilt of the defendants. This too is consistent
with the results of our present investigation.
Lack of Documentary Proof
As we discussed earlier, Getty discovered that the Trotsky Archive at Harvard has
been imperfectly purged of evidence that Trotsky was in contact with his followers in the
USSR. Meanwhile Trotsky and Sedov lied in denying such contact. Suppose the purging
had been more competent and that all trace of this contact had been successfully
removed. Would that mean that no such contact had taken place? Of course it would not.
By the same principle “lack of evidence” – in this case, of Trotsky’s clandestine contacts
with his Soviet followers – would not be “evidence of a lack” of such contact. And, as
this essay has demonstrated, there is no lack of such evidence.
Thanks to Getty we know that there used to be some kind of incriminating
documentation of Trotsky’s activities in his own archive. Was there other such
99 This documentation has long since been published. To examine it is far beyond the scope of the present
essay. The present author discusses these documents in a forthcoming book on the Soviet Opposition and
their collaboration with Germany and Japan.

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documentation aside from that we know to have existed – letters to his major supporters
inside the USSR? We don’t know. We can’t legitimately conclude that there wasn’t.
It is an error in logic and method to fetishize documentary evidence. Any kind of
evidence – including documentary evidence – can be faked. In fact it would arguably
have been easier to forge documents inculpating Trotsky in the alleged collaboration with
Germany and Japan than to coordinate a large number of confessions, particularly public
ones, and then coordinate a number of secret, written appeals for clemency, all testifying
to events that never in fact happened.
In order to conclude that, despite the evidence cited in this article, Trotsky did not
collaborate with Germany and Japan one would be forced to assume that the Soviet
authorities orchestrated a vast network of false confessions by many individuals over
many months, all of which inculpate Trotsky of German and/or Japanese collaboration,
and in a more or less consistent manner. There is no evidence that this kind of
orchestration actually took place.
It is tacitly supposed that it all happened “behind the scenes,” out of sight of the
public trials. Yet now that thanks to some archival documents we have a glimpse “behind
the scenes” we can discern no such fabrication. On the contrary: the investigative
materials we now have confirm the trial testimony.
The vast majority of the investigative materials remain top-secret in Russia today.
We simply do not know what kind of evidence they may hold. Some of it is certainly
documentary. We don’t know whether any of it is documentary evidence of Trotsky’s
collaboration with Germany and Japan. Once again: “Lack of evidence is not evidence of
lack.” The fact that we do not know about any evidence in the secret Soviet archives
inculpating Trotsky does not mean such evidence does not exist. It only means we do not
know about any.
We know that there is other documentary evidence of some of the conspiracies.
The Shvernik Report discusses a telegram from a Japanese military attaché to his superior
in Japan testifying to secret contact with a representative of Marshal Tukhachevsky. The
Report gives the text of this telegram. Therefore it must have still existed in 1962-64
when the report was being compiled.

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Yet Kantor does not even mention it in her two supposedly authoritative books on
Tukhachevsky, though of course she knew of it. Kantor wanted to support the theory that
Tukhachevsky and the rest were innocent, and this telegram would not have been helpful.
We don’t know whether the physical document still exists or not. We can be thankful that
the Shvernik Report compilers transcribed and discussed it, though we don’t know why
they did so – it’s not what Khrushchev wanted to be told.
What kind of written documentation of a clandestine conspiracy should we expect
to have ever existed? Both Radek and Tukhachevsky claim that they had notes from
Trotsky which they burned. It would have been foolish in the extreme for them not to
have destroyed such incriminating evidence. The Bolsheviks were experienced in
working conspiratorially. They had years of practice doing so under the Tsar. They knew
better than to keep written lists of fellow conspirators, written plans, and in general
anything in writing that would, if discovered by the NKVD, cause disaster to the
conspiracy. “Lack of evidence is not evidence of lack” of a conspiracy.
Corroborative Evidence
There are two kinds of evidence that corroborate the direct evidence of Trotsky’s
collaboration with Germany and Japan. The first is the testimony of those who like
Nikolai Bukharin and Genrikh Yagoda admitted to participation in a bloc or alliance with
others who had first-hand knowledge of Trotsky’s collaboration with Germany and/or
Japan but who claimed no ties with Germany or Japan themselves.
Yagoda testified that he learned of Trotsky’s direct contact with the Germans
from Avel’ Enukidze and Lev Karakhan. We have examined Karakhan’s testimony above.
Most of Enukidze’s investigative file is still secret. Neither of the two interrogations of
Enukidze published to date mentions his contacts with Trotsky.
Concerning Nikolai Bukharin we have much more information than about any of
the other defendants in the various Soviet trials. We have discovered, edited, and
published his first confession of June 2, 1937 (Furr & Bobrov). This is also the only pretrial
confession of Bukharin that we have; the Russian government continues to keep all

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the others secret.100 We have also discovered and have prepared for publication the
falsified decree of the Gorbachev-era Soviet Supreme Court “rehabilitating” Bukharin on
February 4, 1988. Neither of these documents was ever made accessible to researchers,
much less published, before or during Gorbachev’s day; both are still top-secret in Russia
today. The “rehabilitation” decree cites a quotation from a document that was secret in
1988 but that we have now discovered. That document is cited as evidence that Bukharin
was innocent. In fact it contains evidence that Bukharin was guilty.
Bukharin’s first confession implicates Trotsky, as does his Trial testimony. Our
published analysis shows that Bukharin was not tortured. Stephen Cohen, the world’s
expert on Bukharin, reached the same conclusion over a decade ago. We have also
examined Bukharin’s appeal of his death sentence to the Soviet Supreme Court, in which
he reiterates his guilt and claims that for his crimes he should be “shot ten times over.”
There is no reason whatever to doubt that Bukharin was telling the truth in his pre-trial
and trial confessions and in his post-trial appeal. But Bukharin was very clear and explicit
that Radek had told him more than once about Trotsky’s involvement with the Germans
and Japanese.
This is corroborative evidence. Bukharin’s first confession corroborates Radek’s
confession at the January 1937 Trial – Bukharin confirms what Radek said, meanwhile
adding a bit more evidence. Bukharin’s first confession also corroborates the truthfulness
of his own statements at his trial in March 1938. Of course the most striking
corroboration is Bukharin’s two appeals after his trial, where he confirms his guilt in the
strongest possible terms.
A second kind of corroborative evidence consists of evidence from persons who
claimed first-hand or second-hand knowledge of Trotsky’s collaboration and who
themselves were working with either Germany or Japan. According to the evidence now
available three of the eight figures in the Tukhachevsky Affair – Primakov, Putna, and
Tukhachevsky himself – had direct contact with both Trotsky and the Germans. The other
six defendants, all officers of the highest ranks, would almost certainly have known about
Trotsky’s involvement.
100 We have discovered one additional confession of Bukharin’s of February 20, 1938. This confession is
still secret in Russia. It does not deal with Trotsky.

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Very little of the investigative and judicial (trial) materials in the three Moscow
Trials, the Tukhachevsky Affair, and the broader military conspiracy, has been made
public. The rest remains top-secret in Russia today, probably for the reasons Col. Alksnis
suggests. Still, enough has leaked out that we have a great deal of evidence, some of it
documentary, of German and Japanese collaboration by oppositionists, including military
figures. We have prepared a book-length study of this evidence.
We also have a number of transcripts of interrogation-confessions of Nikolai
Ezhov, head of the NKVD between September 1936 and November 1938. In the earliest
one that we have, an interrogation dated April 26 1939, Ezhov testifies to his own direct
collaboration with German military and intelligence figures. Ezhov stated he too was in
contact with General Hammerstein.101 Hammerstein asked Ezhov specifically how much
influence the Trotskyists had in the Bolshevik Party. The German general’s interest in
this subject is consistent with the considerable evidence we have seen of Trotsky’s
collaboration with Germany.
What kinds of corroborative evidence might be admissible in a criminal trial is a
legal question. It would be decided differently according to the time of the trial and the
jurisdiction or country in which the trial took place. In some jurisdictions rules of
evidence in cases of conspiracy might differ from rules in other criminal cases.
In an historical study we are interested in something else: consistency. The
corroborative evidence is consistent with the direct evidence. The existence of such
corroborative evidence reduces even further the possibility that all the direct evidence
was fabricated – a negligeable possibility by itself.
Trotsky’s Possible Motives
Our conclusions here are based not on any prejudice or animus for or against
Trotsky but on the evidence. The late Pierre Broué, for decades a leading Trotskyist
scholar, admitted on the basis of the evidence that Trotsky deliberately lied to the Dewey
Commission, yet Broué did not believe that to admit this constituted criticism of Trotsky.
101 Lubianka. Stalin i NKVD – NKGB – GUKR «SMERSH». 1939 – mart 1946. Moscow: “Materik”, 2006.
No. 37, 52-72. Russian original at <http://chss.montclair.edu/english/furr/research/ezhovru.html&gt; and at
<http://www.alexanderyakovlev.org/fond/issues-doc/58654&gt;. English translation by Grover Furr at

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The present essay concludes on the basis of massive evidence that Trotsky did conspire
with the Germans and Japanese. This conclusion is in itself not a criticism of Trotsky.
Whether one evaluates Trotsky’s collaboration in a negative light or not depends upon
one’s political values.
Lenin conspired with the Imperial German government and military to go through
the German lines to reach Petrograd in April 1917 on the famous “sealed train.” That led
to the Provisional Government’s accusing Lenin and the Bolsheviks of being a “German
spy,” an accusation which is still occasionally voiced by anticommunists.
In 1918 Lenin insisted upon signing the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, an agreement
which gave the Germans a lot of Russian territory and ended Germany’s two-front war.
Lenin was called a “German agent” by some for doing this too. It is the reason that the
Socialist-Revolutionary Fannie Kaplan tried to kill Lenin and other Socialist-
Revolutionaries did kill Soviet diplomat Moisei Uritskii and German diplomat Wilhelm
Mirbach: they wished to sabotage this “pro-German” peace in order to promote a
continuation of the war. It is the reason Bukharin and other Left Communists considered
arresting Lenin, Stalin, and Sverdlov at that time.102
Trotsky had a complicated view of the USSR in the mid-30s. At times he seemed
to think that it was only Stalin and a few around him who “had to go” – ubrat’ was the
vague term he famously used – in order for the Revolution to be saved. As we shall see
below, his son Leon Sedov was much more specific about the need for Stalin’s
Trotsky thought that the leading stratum of the Bolshevik Party, or Stalin at the
very least, had to be removed from power in order for the revolution to be saved both in
the USSR and in the rest of the world. Given this outlook he may have reasoned that what
he was doing was similar to what Lenin had done: compromise with the capitalist powers
in order to save the Revolution.
By the same token, the requirements of conspiracy would have prevented Trotsky
from openly acknowledging such collaboration. The Germans and Japanese would not
102 Bukharin admitted this during the 1920s. At his trial in March 1938 Bukharin vehemently denied that
this plot also encompassed the possibility of murdering Lenin, Stalin, and Sverdlov, as several former S-Rs
asserted in testimony against him. Whatever his subjective intent may have been, many S-Rs were
ferociously anti-Bolshevik and embraced assassination – “terror” in Russian – as a political tactic, so
putting Lenin, et al. at the S-Rs’ mercy would certainly leave them subject to possible murder.

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have dealt with him openly. And to do so would have put anybody associated with him at
great risk. Most Trotskyists and sympathizers supported the Russian Revolution and had
not necessarily decided that the only road to saving world communism was to change the
leadership of the USSR at any cost. Knowledge of his collaboration with Germany and
Japan would surely have cost Trotsky a large proportion of his relatively few adherents.
The evidence available to us today overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that
Leon Trotsky collaborated with Germany and Japan in a conspiracy to overthrow the
Soviet government and the Bolshevik Party leadership around Stalin, and to meet the
demands of the fascists for partitioning the USSR, exiling the Comintern, opening the
front to German and Japanese invaders, and making other economic and political
concessions. Historians may alter these conclusions in future if more evidence comes to
light. But these are facts that cannot be wished away.
Did Trotsky Lie Again?
We have already noted that only a small number of men – nine of the defendants
at the three Moscow Trials plus at least three and perhaps as many as six of the military
figures – claimed that they were told of Trotsky’s collaboration with Germany or Japan at
first hand, either from Trotsky himself or from his son Leon Sedov. We believe that there
are no grounds for dismissing this testimony.
But none of these men claimed to have personally witnessed any meetings
between Trotsky (or Sedov) and German or Japanese representatives. Perhaps Trotsky
was lying to them? Is it possible that Trotsky did not in fact have such contacts with the
Germans and Japanese but was only claiming to have them – to raise the hopes of his
followers and his own prestige among them, perhaps?
The evidence suggests this was not the case. Radek, Sokol’nikov, and Iakovlev
testified that they were approached by German and Japanese officials who told them
about Trotsky’s collaboration with their countries. This would seem to rule out any
possibility that Trotsky was simply “bragging” to enhance his reputation among his
followers and within the conspiracy generally. Nor is it just their word. From his very
first confession Bukharin confirmed Radek’s conact with German intelligence.

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Leon Sedov
Trotsky would not have conspired with either German or Japanese officials in
writing. As we have discussed above, it was Bolshevik practice that such deeply secret
matters should be communicated only orally. We cannot rule out the possibility that
Trotsky himself could have met with German or Japanese representatives. But it seems
most likely that he would have done so either chiefly or entirely through his son Leon
Sedov. Sedov had the motive, means, and opportunity to be his father’s main contact with
German and Japanese representatives after 1929 when Trotsky left the USSR.
There is a good deal of suggestive evidence to support this hypothesis. Many of
the men whose testimony about direct collaboration with Trotsky we have cited said they
did so through Sedov. It was Sedov’s address book containing the addresses of
Trotskyists within the USSR that Getty found in the Harvard Trotsky archives (Getty-
Trotsky 34 n.16). Twelve people – Gol’tsman, Ol’berg, Berman-Yurin, Piatakov,
Shestov, Romm, Krestinsky, Rozengol’ts, Uritsky, Putna, Shnitman and Tukhachevsky –
claimed that they were in contact with Trotsky entirely or mainly through Sedov.103
Something about Sedov’s activity can be gleaned from the reports to the NKVD
made by Mark Zborowski, a Soviet agent who managed to insinuate himself into Sedov’s
circle and eventually became Sedov’s close collaborator. Some of the NKVD Zborowski
file became public after the end of the Soviet Union.104
Zborowski was working for Sedov by February 1935. In June 1936 Sedov tried to
recruit Zborowski to go to the USSR as a secret Trotskyist agent, where he would meet
with other secret Trotskyists (Zborowski would not have agreed but evidently Sedov
dropped the subject.)
On November 26 1936 Zborowski reported that Sedov had told he had seen
Piatakov only once since leaving the USSR, in Berlin on May Day 1931 in the company
of Shestov, and that Piatakov had turned away from him without speaking to him, and
repeated the same thing on December 3. But in February 1937 Sedov told the
103 Romm, Krestinsky, and Bessonov claim to have also met Trotsky personally. Some of these men also
claimed contact with Trotsky by letter.
104 Zborowski archive, F.31660 d. 9067 Papka No. 28. In Volkogonov Archive, Library of Congress. Some
of these same documents are confirmed by John Costello and Oleg Tsarev, Deadly Illusions (New York:
Crown, 1993). Tsarev, a former KGB man, had privileged access to KGB files for a time in the early

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correspondent of the Dutch socialist newspaper Het Volk that he and Trotsky had not had
contact “as often” with Piatakov and Radek as they had with Zinoviev and Kamenev. He
then corrected himself, saying “To be more precise, we had no contact with them.”105
Thanks to Getty we know that this was a true “slip of the tongue,” an inadvertent
admission of the truth. As we have seen, Getty discovered that Trotsky had indeed been
in touch with Radek and other sympathizers within the USSR during the 1930s. Sedov’s
slip of the tongue suggests that Piatakov had also been in touch with Trotsky, as indeed
would have been logical. This slip of the tongue appears to confirm that Trotsky and/or
Sedov had in fact been in touch with both Piatakov and Radek, as these two men had
testified at the trial just concluded in Moscow. This corroborates their trial testimony.
From this information we can conclude that Sedov trusted and relied on
Zborowski yet still kept much secret from him. Sedov sometimes – we do not know how
often – went out of town, during which time Zborowski did not know what Sedov was
doing. As far as we know Sedov was not shadowed or followed on these trips, while
Trotsky himself seems to have been under closer observation.
Sedov’s denials of having met with Piatakov after leaving the USSR are hardly
conclusive since he would have denied meeting him in any case. They are even less
credible given his unguarded remark to the correspondent of Het Volk. In his Red Book
on the First Moscow Trial Sedov admitted he had met with Gol’tsman and Smirnov.
Trotsky evidently forgot about this because he told the Dewey Commission a few months
later that he had never had any contact with Gol’tsman after leaving the USSR.106 This
just confirms what we already knew – that Trotsky’s and Sedov’s denials mean nothing.
We repeat: this is not a “criticism” of Trotsky and Sedov. Clandestine work requires
deception. It simply means that Trotsky’s and Sedov’s denials cannot be taken at face
On January 22 1937, the eve of the Piatakov-Radek trial, Sedov suddenly said to
Zborowski: “Stalin must be killed!” and then immediately changed the subject. When
Sedov said the same thing the next day Lilia Estrine, who was also present, told him:
105 Arbejderbladet (Copenhagen) February 12, 1937, p. 5. My thanks to Sven-Eric Holmström for this
106 Sedov, Red Book Chapter 14. Sven-Eric Holmström discusses all this in detail in his pathbreaking article
“New Evidence Concerning the ‘Hotel Bristol’ Question in the First Moscow Trial of 1936,” Cultural
Logic 2008.

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“Keep your mouth shut!” (Derzhi iazyk za zubami). A few weeks later Zborowski
reported at greater length about Sedov’s approval of “terror” – in Russian, assassination –
in the case of Stalin. Sedov continued in this vein for a time, suddenly breaking off only
when Estrine approached.
At the same time Zborowski reported that Sedov expounded at greater length the
need to kill Stalin, as “the whole regime in the USSR is held up by Stalin, and it would be
enough to kill Stalin for it all to fall apart.” He went on to try to theoretically justify
assassination (terror) as a tactic not only compatible with Marxism but at times essential
to it. Sedov mused about the character necessary for an assassin – one “always ready to
die,” “for whom death must be a daily reality.”107
We do not know whether Sedov was reflecting his father’s view here, but it seems
likely. Sedov had no political organization or goals independent of his father’s, whose
primary and, we must assume, on very sensitive issues, sole political confidant he was.
(Lilia Estrine, later Mrs. David Dallin, was clearly a central figure in Sedov’s
activities and therefore in Trotsky’s as well. The sharp rebuke to Sedov quoted here may
suggest that she knew more about his activities than Zborowski did. Immediately after
Sedov’s death on February 16 1938 Zborowski reported that Lilia Estrine knew of
various archives, one of which she had hidden and about which Zborowski had never
been told anything. Estrine-Dallin remained on good terms with Zborowski until 1955. At
that time he told her of his activities as an NKVD agent, whereupon she broke with him
entirely.108 Estrine remained loyal to Trotsky all her life. Getty has proven that Trotsky’s
secretary Jan van Heijenoort knew about Trotsky’s clandestine contacts but never
revealed anything of what he knew. Lilia Estrine-Dallin did the same.)
By July 1937, a few months later, Sedov had become completely demoralized.
According to Zborowski Sedov was now a drunkard, sometimes drinking all day,
dragging Zborowski with him to bars at night. On his son’s birthday Sedov dragged
Zborowski around to bars in Montparnasse from 6 to 11 p.m. rather than return home
107 As Costello & Tsarev note on p. 283 and n. 45, p. 469, this report bears the handwritten date
“11.II.1938.” But this does not appear to be in Zborowski’s handwriting. The remarks about “three weeks
later” suggest that the date should be February 11, 1937, three weeks after Sedov’s similar remarks on
January 22 and 23, 1937.
108 See “Testimony of Mrs. Lilia Dallin, New York N.Y.” Scope of Soviet Activity in the United States . . .
March 2, 1956. Part 5. (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1956), 136-150.

Grover Furr
Copyright © 2009 by Grover Furr and Cultural Logic, ISSN 1097-3087
where Estrine was waiting for him. Zborowski reported that when he and Sedov parted
for the evening the latter visited a brothel before returning home. Sedov said that he had
abandoned all faith in the Revolution in 1927 (Trotsky had been arrested in November
1927 and quickly expelled from the Bolshevik Party) and now “he did not believe in
anything any longer.” He told Zborowski that women and gambling were his only
pleasures. On one occasion he showed Zborowski “a solid roll of thousand-frank notes.”
At roughly 25 francs to the U.S. dollar and in the middle of the Great Depression, this
represented a large amount of money to be carrying around on one’s person. Zborowski
reported that Sedov had enjoyed the casinos at Monte Carlo and that his “dream” was to
The chronological sequence of the alterations Zborowski noted in Sedov’s habits
and attitude towards political work may be significant. When Zborowski met him Sedov
was energetic and determined. His reaction to the First Moscow Trial of August 1936
was to immediately write the combative Red Book with which Zborowski helped him.
Sedov’s outburst and then longer discussion of assassination coincide with the
Piatakov-Radek Trial of January 1937. This was allegedly the “parallel center,” the
secondary leadership for Trotsky’s conspirators within the USSR. Khristian Rakovsky,
whom Trotsky considered perhaps his oldest and most loyal follower, was also named at
this trial (Rakovsky was a defendant in the Third Moscow Trial of March 1938).109 If, as
the evidence tends to support, these charges were more or less accurate the January 1937
trial would have been a huge blow, the destruction of the main leadership of Trotsky’s
movement in the USSR. The stress occasioned by such a setback might explain Sedov’s
outburst about the need to assassinate Stalin and his slip of the tongue to Het Volk.
There is much evidence to suggest that in early 1937 Hitler was expecting a pro-German
military coup in the USSR.110 Powerful military figures would have represented the best
chance of overthrowing the Soviet regime and bringing Trotsky back.
109 Rakovsky was named at the trial by defendant Drobnis on January 25, 1937. See 1937 Trial p. 207. One
authoritative source states that he was arrested on January 27, 1937. See the online biographical source at
<http://www.hrono.ru/biograf/rakovski.html&gt;. From K.A. Zalesski, Imperiia Stalina. Biograficheskii
entsiklopedicheskii slovar’ (Moscow: Veche, 2000). Evidently Drobnis had not named him during pretrial
110 See Grover Furr, “New Light On Old Stories About Marshal Tukhachevskii: Some Documents
Reconsidered.” Russian History / Histoire Russe 13, 2-3 (Summer-Fall 1986) 293-308; at

Grover Furr
Copyright © 2009 by Grover Furr and Cultural Logic, ISSN 1097-3087
The “Tukhachevsky Affair” military men were tried and executed in June 1937.
We have studied their confessions of collaboration with Trotsky above. It may have been
the destruction of this last and best opportunity to return to the USSR that impelled
Trotsky to send the telegram we studied at the beginning of this article. Shortly after this,
in July 1937 Zborowski noted Sedov’s descent into drunkenness, gambling, and
womanizing, and his declaration to Zborowski that all was lost. Such behavior is
consistent with the hypothesis that Sedov’s behavior reflected the final collapse of his
and his father’s hopes. Zborowski, who worked very closely with Sedov, had not reported
any such behavior at any earlier date.111
Deciding On The Basis of the Evidence
Given the evidence available today there is only one objective conclusion: our
hypothesis has been confirmed. On the evidence we are forced to conclude that Leon
Trotsky did collaborate with Germans and Japanese officials to help him return to power
in the Soviet Union. As we have seen, there is no basis to disregard this or to regard the
evidence we have reviewed in this paper as faked, obtained by torture, or is fraudulent in
any other respect.
Deciding according to the evidence demands that we accept the permanently
contingent nature of our conclusion. Any objective assessment of the evidence for this, or
any other historical conclusion, must always be provisional. If and when new evidence is
produced we must be prepared to adjust or even to abandon this conclusion if warranted
by that new evidence. Historical study knows no such thing as “certainty.”
By the same token the evidence compels us to conclude that Trotsky did conspire
with the Hitler and Japanese militarist regimes to help him overthrow the Soviet
government and Communist Party leaders in order to regain power in the Soviet Union.
<http://chss.montclair.edu/english/furr/tukh.html&gt;. Since this was published more compelling evidence has
been discovered. We are preparing an article on this subject.
111 Trotsky’s followers long believed that the NKVD caused Sedov’s death on February 16, 1938 in a Paris
clinic where he had undergone an appendectomy. But Zborowski’s reports, confirmed by Costello and
Tsarev and seconded by the memoirs of Pavel Sudoplatov who later oversaw the planning of Trotsky’s
assassination, all suggest that the NKVD had nothing to do with Sedov’s death (Costello 283-4; Sudoplatov

Grover Furr
Copyright © 2009 by Grover Furr and Cultural Logic, ISSN 1097-3087
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