The class struggle

during the thirties in the

Soviet Union.




The purges of the CPSU and the political trials.




Mário Sousa






The purges of, or expulsions from, the Soviet communist party and the political trials in Moscow during the 1930-ies are two of the favourite issues for the bourgeois propagandists. They are brought up time and time again in bourgeois mass media giving the public a completely untruthful and false picture of the purges, the political trials and the Soviet Union of the period. Their purpose is to defame socialism and the Soviet Union to prevent people of today from listening to the communists and make them accept capitalism as something inevitable. For that reason it is important to clarify this chapter of the history of the Soviet Union. This in order both to fight the bourgeois lies and to understand the difficult which the Bolsheviks met in the revolutionary transition. Recent historical research has been carried out in this area, and that is one of the bases for the article. For the rest, literature and documents from the 1930-ies and the 1940-ies are used, which long ago have fallen into oblivion or totally unknown by most people.


Facts about the 1930-ies.


But let us begin by providing the reader a picture of the Soviet 1930-ies, as a matter of fact a decisive decade in the history of the Soviet Union. Among other things, it was during the 1930-ies that the first and second five-year plan were realised and the collectivisation of the agriculture took place. The national income, which was 29 million Roubles in 1929, grew to 105 millions 1938. An increase by 360 per cent in ten years, a unique phenomenon in the history of industrialisation! The number of workers and employees increased from 14,5 millions 1930 to 28 millions 1938. The average, annual salary of industrial workers grew from 991 Roubles 1930 to 3,447 Roubles 1938. The grants for cultural and social matters in the state budget increased from approx. 2 billion Roubles 1930 to 35 billions 1938. In the beginning of the 1930-ies the whole industrial sector was transverted to a maximum 7 hours working day (less working hours for miners and other similar), a reform which had to be abandoned towards the end of the 1930-ies for the preparations in the face of the war threat from Nazi Germany.


During the 1930-ies production in the Soviet Union grew at a rate never before seen in the history of mankind. In the beginning of 1930 the total value of the industrial production was 21 million Roubles. Eight years later the value of the industrial production was above 100 million Roubles. (Both figures counted in the prices of 1926-27). The industrial production of the country had multiplied almost five times in eight years! In the beginning of 1930 the area sown with all kinds of crops was 118 million hectares. 1938 the area was 136.9 million hectares. Simultaneously, the country had carried through a total collectivisation of the agriculture and passed through and solved gigantic problems connected with the collectivisation and modernisation of the agriculture. In the beginning of 1930 the number of tractors in the Soviet Union was 34,900. In the year 1938 it was 483,500. The tractors were multiplied almost fourteen times in eight years. During the same period the combine-harvesters increased from 1,700 to 153,500 and the harvesters from 4,300 to 130,800.


During the 1930-ies the cultural development of the Soviet Union advanced in leaps too. The number of students in all schools 1929 was approx. 14 millions. In the year 1938 they had increased to approx. 34 millions, and at that time students in all kinds of courses including part time, amounted to more than 47 millions. Almost a third of all citizens took part of the school system. In the beginning of the 1930-ies 33 per cent were still illiterate in the Soviet Union (67 per cent in 1913). 1938 illiteracy was totally eradicated since several years back. During this period the students at higher forms of education almost tripled from 207,000 to 601,000. The number of libraries was 70,000 in the year 1938 compared with 40,000 in 1933. The amount of books in the libraries 1938 reached the colossal figure of 126 millions to compare with 86 millions 1933. During the thirties another measure was carried out, which demonstrates the ideological and material strength of the Soviet Union and its wish to treat all citizens equally: the general, compulsory elementary school education was implemented all over the country in the languages of the different nationalities. This represented a colossal cultural work with a great number of new books, text books and other didactic materials in languages which had hardly even existed before in a written form. For the first time literature in their own languages was published for several nationalities. This is the back-ground against which should be seen the class struggle in the Soviet Union during the 1930-ies. Keep that in mind when reading this article.[1]


The development of the communist party.


During the 1930-ies millions of new members entered the CPSU(b) and took part in the struggle for production and social development. This great influx of people and the huge increase in production which took place were not only beneficial. The party was obliged to evaluate the party- and social work of old and new members and expel or purge those who did not attain a good enough level for communists. This process did not have a given end. The struggle against bureaucracy, corruption, opportunism and abuse of power within the party and state was carried out in many different ways during the thirties, and it was not always successful or devoid of errors. The socialist society presupposes discussion and criticism to correct mistakes and find new ways. But the purges were important for reasons of external policy too.


During the 1930-ies the external threat against the Soviet Union increased with a new type of enemies. Beside the blockade, sabotages and the menace of aggression from the capitalist countries, a new enemy emerged with the aim of crushing the socialist Soviet Union and annihilating the Slavish people. Nazism came to power in Germany in January 1933 having promised, among other things, to crush Communism, get new colonies in the East and to use the people there as slave labour in the German economy. Already in 1925 Hitler wrote in his book Mein Kampf about these plans of conquest: “Therefore we National Socialists have purposely drawn a line through the line of conduct followed by pre-War Germany in foreign policy. We put an end to the perpetual Germanic march towards the South and West of Europe and turn our eyes towards the lands of the East. We finally put a stop to the colonial and trade policy of pre-War times and pass over to the territorial policy of the future. But when we speak of new territory en Europe today we must principally think of Russia and the border States subject to her.”[2]


The rise of the Soviet Union during the 1930-ies was vital. It was the very basis for the victory of the Soviet Union over the Nazi Germany in World War II. The struggle against the anomalies within the communist party and the purges were conditions for the successes in the production and the safety of the country. The bourgeois historian rarely mention this.


According to the bourgeois myths the purges were a bloody persecution of those criticising the regime, whereby a power hungry bureaucracy made use of an extensive administrative and violent apparatus with the most cruel methods to literally kill off a progressive opposition, yes even an opposition harbouring –according to the same historians– the “genuine” socialists and communists. Behind the persecutions there was of course Stalin with his alleged suspicions and morbid behaviour. Stalin who, according to the bourgeoisie, had a long ranging plan for killing all opponents and all old Bolsheviks in order to grip the whole power himself. That is how the purges and political trials of the thirties have been described during decades by bourgeois historians and cultural personalities. But that mere fact, that the same bourgeoisie which in their own countries register, persecute, imprison and execute communists, accuse the socialist Soviet Union for persecuting the “real” communists, shows that not is all as it appears to be. The bourgeois historians lie, and that is what we shall prove. But it is in fact even worse. Since 1945 they have been in possession of material proving that the conditions in the Soviet Union were just the opposite to the myths they had been creating.


The Smolensk archives.


Facts about the purges, the development of the production and the political trials are elements in the history of the Soviet communist party, and like much else they can be found in the archives of the party. Those archives have been closed to foreign researchers up until 1989, when Gorbachov changed it. There is an exception however. An extensive archive material reached the West and the US in 1945 already. The history is simple but quite amazing. When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union during World War II, they reached into the country as far as the neighbourhood of Moscow and Leningrad. Since 1941 the German troops had been occupying the Western oblast – the Western region, which had as its centre the city of Smolensk. The Western region was one of the administrative units of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic. At the time, the region had a population of approx. 6.5 million and a surface of 600 by 240 kilometres – 144,000 square kilometres, approximate  a third of Sweden’s surface (Sweden 450,000 square kilometres, United Kingdom 243,500 square kilometres). In Smolensk, the Germans found the archives of the Western region, which for some reason had not been destroyed by the retreating Soviet troops. Archives were forwarded to Germany 1941. At the end of the war 1945 the Smolensk archives came to land in the American occupation zone of Germany. The Smolensk archives belonged to the US ally the Soviet Union, but for the capitalist thinking of the American generals it was natural to forward the archives on to the USA. The Smolensk archives today are to be found in the United States National Archives.


The Smolensk archives are very large. With a few exceptions all the important doings of the communist party of the Western region are collected there. From membership registers and political directives at all levels to excerpts of discussions and debates at meetings up to the leading institution of the area, the organisation bureau. All aspects of political life can be found, from agricultural policies and industrial strategies to the planning of the annual holidays of workers. Documents about the party purges in the Western region are kept there. The Smolensk archives should be a gold mine for all wishing to get an insight in the functioning of the Soviet society. Especially those who are opposed to the Soviet Union and socialism could find facts there to prove their point. Yet, the Smolensk archives have been very little used. The American historian Merle Fainsod was the first one to study the archives. In 1958 he published a book on the subject, Smolensk Under Soviet Rule, a tendentious work with serious faults, almost entirely directed at giving a very negative description of the soviet power apparatus. With few exceptions, the Smolensk archives have remained practically untouched thereafter.


The archive material never got a first page position in Western mass media. The reason is that the political life in the Western region of Soviet Union as reported in the Smolensk archives had nothing in common with the concoction of monstrous lies and myths which were displayed (and still are) in mass media in the West. The archive material, which is a collection of documents with contributions from hundreds of thousands people with a wide range of opinions about all aspects of life could not be used in the propaganda war against the Soviet Union. Still, Merle Fainsod’s book Smolensk Under Soviet Rule became part of the basis for the myths around the purges in the Soviet communist party and the political trials during the 1930-ies, myths which spread all over the Western world to universities and to mass media.


New facts for own conclusions.


Not until 1985 a book was published which was based on new investigations of the Smolensk archives. The book bears the name Origins of the Great Purges – The Soviet Communist Party Reconsidered, 1933 – 1938 by the American history professor J. Arch Getty. The book provides us with statistics and other documents of great value for studying the history of the Soviet Union. Getty is one of the principal figure behind the publishing in the US in 1993 of the Russian research papers about the Soviet treatment of offenders during Stalin (about which the present author wrote Lies concerning the history of the Soviet Union – From Hitler to Hearst, from Conquest to Solzhenitsyn,1998). The Russian research papers revealed the lies which had been spread in the capitalist mass media for decades. The same author in 1999 (fifteen years later) published a new book about the Soviet thirties with the title The Road to terror – Stalin and the Self-Destruction of the Bocheviks. The book contains documents from the earlier secret Soviet archives, for the first time made available to the broad public. But it is like Getty writes, the documents have been selected from a huge quantity, and it may be asked whether these were the most important ones and whether they have been correctly interpreted – “Like all historical documents they can be read in various ways”[3]. And furthermore one may ask what is the meaning of the book when Getty writes, “our study does not touch on all questions … we are unable to deal comprehensively with foreign policy, agricultural or industrial affairs, or cultural matters”[4]. Was not the politics in these questions that all struggle in the Bolshevik party was about? The documents account for many internal discussions in the party but almost no facts about the development of the Soviet Union during the 1930-ies. This should be kept in mind.


The research of Getty has destroyed some myths and lies about the Soviet Union, but the most important is above all that it gives the individual a possibility of judging for him/herself. And this, to draw one’s own conclusions is in fact important. When it comes to the Soviet Union, there are no heavy weighters in the West who can provide them and understand the whole. Getty himself is a bourgeois author having limited possibilities to understand the conditions of the class struggle the Soviet Union. In The Road to Terror, which is supposed to show that the Bolsheviks exterminated themselves during the 1930-ies in internal fights, there is for instance not a word on the greatest social development by far in the history of mankind which took place in the Soviet Union during the 1930-ies. Not a word about that! With regard to the threaten from Nazi Germany, The Road to Terror, a brick of 635 pages, mentions it with a line in a subordinate clause, a total of six words, “the elite at the time obviously felt a continuing crisis in the wake of collectivization and the rise of German fascism[5]. That is all!


Remember then, that most of the thirties in the Soviet Union was characterised of a struggle against time in the efforts to prepare the defences facing the threat of invasion from Nazi Germany. If one does not accord due importance to this fact, one will of course, inevitably draw wrong conclusions. If the Bolsheviks had exterminated themselves instead of developing the country as much as possible and building up its defence, the Nazis would have won the war and eradicated the Soviet Union and the slavish people. That was not what occurred, but the contrary. As everybody knows, the Soviet Union won the war and eradicated Nazism. This said in order for the reader to understand that academic research suffers from fundamental errors leaving the realities of life outside, for intrigues and stupidities of all kinds leading to conclusions on the level of the contents of a cheap detective story in a book-stall. The specific aspect in Western research about the Soviet Union is the colossal amount of lies and half truths which have been flowing from the Western universities for the past fifty years.


“Origins of the Great Purges”.


Both books by Getty are among the literature forming the basis for this brochure. Origins of the Great Purges is in contrast with the later The Road to Terror a book replete with statistics and other things giving a true picture of the society. Already the introduction makes you astonished. We are not used to hearing professors talking frankly. In any case not Swedish professors. Professor Arch Getty establishes in the introduction that research on the Smolensk archives shows that most Western accounts for the purges in the Soviet Union are based on “untenable assumptions”[6].


First, the results of research show that the political events during the thirties were not “a unified phenomenon (the Great Purges), which can be studied as a process…planned, prepared, and carried out” by Stalin and his most intimate men. Second, the research shows that the allegation that “the Old Bolsheviks of Lenin’s (and Stalin’s) generation were the purges’ target”[7] has no relationship with reality. Further, Getty confirms that it is time to review what has been taught about the Soviet Union of the thirties.


This is clear talk, which does not lend itself to writing by a researcher and professor of history unless there is very strong evidence. Not least as this is in direct contradiction with Fainsod’s book Smolensk under Soviet Rule” from 1958. Fainsod wrote about the purges: “The assassination of Kirov in December 1934 touched off a new round of almost continuous purges which spread out in ever-widening circles and rose to a smashing crescendo in the virtual destruction of the oblast Party leadership in 1937[8]”.


It is not just the case that the book by Getty removes the support from under all cheap falsifiers of history. Getty calls in question Fainsod’s Smolensk itself, which has for a long time been the basic “textbook” on the subject. Meaning Smolensk Getty affirms that “The events of 1933-9 were not all parts of the same planned crescendo of terror and did not constitute a single phenomenon or process. The membership purges of 1933-6 were not simply the predecessors of the police terror of 1937 and were related to it only obliquely”[9].

We shall present Arch Getty’s facts about the purges of the 1930-ies. Moreover, we shall draw our own political conclusions from Getty’s statistics. Let us start by giving the reader a short background about the situation in the Soviet Communist party during the 1920-ies.


Briefly about the history of the purges during the 1920-ies


After the victory of the revolution, when the Communist party had become the ruling party, the party leadership and Lenin had to acknowledge that some unwelcome elements had penetrated into the party and state apparatus. They were people who wanted to make a career via a membership in the party. At the eighth party conference in December of 1919 Lenin brought this problem up. According to Lenin it was “It is natural, on the one hand, that all the worst elements should cling to the ruling party merely because it is the ruling party”[10]. For that reason it was important to evaluate the contribution of the party members. On the proposal of Lenin, the party carried out a re-registration of all party members. Every member had to answer for his actions in front of the member collective – those who were considered unreliable were excluded. That was the first purification of the party apparatus. This method, to strengthen the party by purging the opportunistic elements, was to characterise the Communist party for many years to come.


The general criteria for the purging of party members were corruption, passivity, breaches of party discipline, alcoholism, criminality and anti-Semitism. For bourgeois individuals and kulaks who hid their class origin expulsion was certain. (But not for those who had been accepted into the party and who had admitted their class background.) For the former tsarist officers who hid their past were also inevitably expelled. All those who had been expelled could in their turn appeal to the Central control commission, and then their cases were reviewed at a higher level.


As we shall se later, a relatively high number got their party membership back. The decisions at the general meetings with hundreds of members were, as a rule, more rigid than those at the party centre. The Central Committee of the party, which had initiated the purges and decided their forms, tried first to make the members at the base level to speak out and clamp down on corrupt functionaries and their companions.


This turned out to be a difficult work. Corrupt bureaucrats knew thousands of tricks to escape criticism and tricky situations. Instead, the majority of those expelled were base level members who often could not defend themselves against the accusations by the party secretaries for passivity, political ignorance or bad drinking habits.


The purges during the 1920-ies.


After the re-registration of 1919 Lenin and the party leadership found that there were still considerable shortcomings in the party. The re-registration had not achieved its aim. A great number of new members continued to be drawn into the party without consideration to the directive of electing only workers and reliable elements from other classes. New purges took place 1921, 1928 and 1929.


In the table below we can see the proportion of members, in per cent, who were expelled on these occasions. During the other years the expulsion of party members could vary between three and five per cent.



Great party purges during the 1920-ies[11]

(Getty: Origins of the Great Purges)


per cent expelled


1919      re-registration                                                            10-15

1921      purges                                                                       25

1928      revision in 7 regions                                                   13

1929      purges                                                                       11


In relation to the purges of 1929, there is a detailed description of the causes. It does in fact provide a good information and does away with at least myth  – that the purges would have been a way to get rid of opposing elements within the party. In 1929, 1.53 million party members went through the process of purges. Of these approx. 170,000 or 11 per cent were expelled. When they appealed to the Central control commission 37,000 got their party membership back (22 per cent of those expelled). In Smolensk, as many as 43 per cent of those expelled got their party membership back. When they are further examined, it turns out that the great majority were base members from the working class, who had been expelled by the local party functionaries for passivity. No regard had been taken to the living conditions which made it more difficult for these members to take part in the party activities.



The party purge of 1929[12]

(Getty: Origins of the Great Purges)


Reasons for expulsion                                           per cent


Defects in personal conduct                                  22

Alien elements or connection thereto                     17

Passivity                                                               17

Criminal offences                                                  12

Violations of party discipline                                 10

Other                                                                   22


According to Getty, those expelled for political reasons – “fractional” or oppositional activity – were among the ones expelled for “violation of party discipline”. The former constitute 10 per cent of these 10 per cent. Thus, the expulsions for political reasons were not more than one per cent of all expulsions which took place in the purges of 1929[13]. Compare this to the prevailing myth about the “Stalinists eliminating all those in opposition”. Moreover, the bourgeoisie always alleges, that those expelled met a certain death either in the work camps of the Gulag or just disappeared. Reality is something else. Of those expelled, only those caught with criminal acts – theft, embezzlement, blackmail, sabotage or similar – who were tried at court. For the other expelled, life continued as usual, but now without the obligations which accompanied a membership but also without the support which membership did give.


The purges in the CPSU(b) during the 1930-ies.


Let us now pass to the Soviet Union of the 1930-ies. The purges during the 1930-ies are precisely that what is always brought forth by those who want to defame socialism and reinforce the myth of the Soviet Union as an oppressive state. Among the most famous falsifiers of history we find the former police agent of the British secret service, Robert Conquest, the fascist Alexander Solsjenitsyn and the Russian social democrat Roy Medvedev. Their Swedish echoes are such as the failed poet Per Ahlmark, the simply failed Staffan Skotte, the ‘historian’ and Trotskyite Peter England (recently elected to be a member of the Royal Academy of  Military Science /!/) plus some other shady individuals (like Gerner, Salomon, Karlsson and others). But the capitalists and the political police CIA and MI5 buy academicians in other countries too, not only in the USA and Great Britain. In Sweden too, there are traces leading from the capital and the political police Säpo to university departments in for example Stockholm, Uppsala and Lund.

It is important to expose the falsifiers of history. They use people’s ignorance to make those sympathising with socialism defensive and to make Communists dissociate themselves from their history.


Robert Conquest has had a central role in the defamation of socialism and the Soviet Union during the whole post war period. Conquest is a des-informer trained in one of the oldest and biggest secret services of the world, the British[14]. Conquest became their foremost agent specialised on des-information about the Soviet Union. He is characterised by manipulating information and changing black to white. Towards the end of the 50-ies Conquest suddenly quit the British secret service. Next time we hear of him he is in the USA, where the CIA is publishing his books and writings! It can be concluded, that he gets a better pay by the CIA than by the British and for that reason he moved to the USA. In addition, the CIA provided him with a decent disguise, a research post at a university. Conquest’s stories have been disseminated for decades by the CIA in capitalist mass media all over the world, and unfortunately they have become truth for many people.


Conquest’s best known work “The Great Terror – Stalin’s Purges of the Thirties” was published in 1968 and has been one of the foremost weapons against socialism used by the bourgeoisie. The book is partly based on material from Conquest’s time with the British secret service. His sources originate among very suspicious circles: Nazi collaborators, defectors and terrorists. Bourgeois historians have elevated Conquest’s gross falsifications to historical facts and willingly repeated his stories in periodicals and books. That is, for example, what the senior lecturer Peter Englund has done in Moderna Tider in February 1994, in a cavalcade of eight pages with lies and falsifications about the year 1937 in the Soviet Union. The same text reappears, with some changes, in Englund’s book “Letters from point zero” (Brev från nollpunkten). According to Englund, Conquest’s The Great Terror is “an indispensable work”[15]. Yet, Conquest clearly states in the references of the book that “truth can thus only percolate in the form of hearsay” and further, “On political matters basically the best, though not infallible, source is rumour at a high political or police level”[16]. Hearsay and rumours among fascists and Nazi collaborators are the sources Conquest has used for the alleged ‘terror’ in the Soviet Union of the 30-ies, but they are good enough for the “historian” Englund. Serious historians do not accept “hearsay and rumour” as evidence.


The purges of 1933


During the 1930-ies the party underwent three great purges: 1933, 1935 and 1937-1938.

The first purge 1933 took part in a clime of great enthusiasm in society when the agricultural cooperatives spread all over the Soviet Union with great steps forward, and the industrial production attained results never before seen. The party had opened its doors for all who wanted to fight for socialism and hundreds of thousands new members had been elected during the first three years of the 1930-ies. Because of the great onslaught, the party leadership considered it to be a necessity to evaluate the new party members. They were seeking for opportunists, corrupt bureaucrats, criminals, anti-Semites, alcoholics or members violating party discipline.


The party directives clarified that the purges should take place in a comradely atmosphere not allowing any deep digging into people’s private lives. Moreover, the party leadership encouraged base members to be openly critical against the local bureaucrats and warned the local party leaderships against expelling base members for passivity or political ignorance. The mistakes of 1929 were not to be repeated. Attention should be paid to the general development of members and in those cases it was deemed necessary party members could be degraded to candidates or sympathisers until they had improved their political knowledge or increased their participation in the activities of the party. Expulsion should be avoided as far as possible.


In spite of the directives, the purge of 1933 turned out differently from what the Central Committee had intended. In a country so vast as the Soviet Union the local party secretaries had a great power, which sometimes proved fatal. Facts show that local party secretaries did their best to avoid criticism from striking them or their near ones. Just in order to demonstrate their interest in a successful purge, some local secretaries threw out many base members, workers and farmers; faithful members, precisely the ones who should not have been expelled. The majority of those expelled were people who had entered the party between 1930 and 1933, who had not had time to get knowledge of all the party issues. Many had not been able to study the party programme at depth and Marxism-Leninism, and they were regarded to be all too ignorant by the party secretaries. Others were people who had difficulties in taking full part in party life because of their work situation or family problems. During the purge of 1933 18.5 per cent of party members and candidates were expelled, circa 792,000.



The expulsions of 1933[17]

 (Getty: Origins of the Great Purges)


Reason for expulsion                                            per cent


Moral corruption, careerist, bureaucrat                 17,5

Alien elements / hiding alien past                           16,5

Violation of party discipline                                   20.9

Passivity                                                               23.2

Other                                                                   17.9

Not mentioned in “Origins of the Great Purges”       4.0


The purge of 1933, which was terminated in the middle of 1934, revealed a serious contradiction within the party. The Central Committee wanted to throw out thieves and corrupt bureaucrats, but the biggest group expelled – in fact almost one fourth – were expelled for passivity. Passivity did not figure among the party directives as a criterion for expulsion. With the assistance of bureaucratic methods or authority gained for earlier merits, local party leaders whatever they wanted without paying attention to the directives of the Central Committee. The extension of the antagonisms is implied by the one fourth expelled for passivity. The Central Committee had to do something about the local party leaders contravention of the party directives, but as the future was to show, it was not very easy. This became very timely during the following years when the Soviet Union was forced to increase the pace of development to survive.


Another aspect of the statistics found by Getty concerns the allegation by Conquest and other rightists that the purge of 1933 was organised to throw out old Bolsheviks – old party cadres from the days of Lenin – who had come into opposition with Stalin. According to Getty, the allegation is improbable. The great majority by far of those expelled, two thirds in fact, had entered the party after 1928 and were for that reason to be considered relatively new party members. The distribution of those expelled as 23 per cent agricultural workers/farmers, 14.6 per cent civil servants and approx. 62 per cent workers shows, that the overwhelming majority, 85 per cent, were ordinary working men rather than party cadres from Lenin’s time. In The Great Terror Robert Conquest touches upon the purge of 1933 and hints that over a million members were expelled for political reasons. If one has knowledge of the history of the purges, it becomes evident that Conquest’s allegation is a lie.


“Proverka” – the control of the party cards in 1935


The purge of 1933 revealed a very serious disorder in the party organisation all over the country. The party membership list did not correspond to reality: In may parts of the country the number of members did not tally with the number in the lists. Many members moved, left the party, were expelled or died without it being noted in the membership lists. The local party secretaries were absorbed by the financial work with the five year plan and the collectivisation. For that reason or for pure negligence or lack of interest that did not care to have the membership lists updated. As a consequence of this there was a great disorder in the party financial accounts. When this was discovered and the party central got a total picture of the disastrous situation with the membership cards it became clear that a revision of the party cards of all members was a must.


In October 1934 the Central Committee decided that the whole party would undergo a new registration of the party members. The Central Committee sent representatives to the party regions of the country both to examine the true situation of the party documentation and, if possible, to demand a solution while assisting the work of registration.


Comrade Ostrovskij was sent to the city committee (gorraikom) of Smolensk. He started by demanding some simple decisions by the city committee like the installation of a head for the documentation, who should see to it that the party documents were kept in a locked facility or safe. He also demanded that no new party cards be distributed to people who had lost theirs, unless a careful investigation had been carried out beforehand. Ostrovskij also demanded that a new list of members be initiated from January 1935 and that all party committees under the city committee undergo the same procedure.

As it soon turned out, the problems were too big for Ostrovskij to handle. The same experience was made by Central Committee representatives in many parts of the country. Towards the end of April 1935 very little had been achieved of the new registration. A report from the city Committee of Smolensk showed that “in the process of investigation of party documents, were revealed a series of massive deficiencies, demanding an especially careful working out and verification”[18].


The Communist party in the beginning of the 1930-ies.


For readers of this brochure this may appear hard to understand. The bourgeois media have brought up most people in the Western world to believe that a totally blind discipline reigned in the Soviet Communist party, whereby everything and everybody were registered and controlled carefully, preferably several times on long name lists – nobody could escape this all pervading control, which allegedly went on continuously in the society and which furthermore would have cost masses of money while investing party bureaucrats with extensive power.


This picture is entirely false. As a matter of fact, one gets much closer to the truth by turning all these allegations upside down. Absorbed, as they were, in the struggle for production and drunk by the incredible production results which had set repeated world records, many local party secretaries ignored other party matters. They considered production results to be the most important thing which would solve all problems and everything else was peanuts. Even such a fundamental question for a party – and especially a party in power – namely that only party members should own a party card, was considered in many places as a question of secondary interest only. The party cards were, as a rule, kept in an ordinary writing desk a or a cupboard easily accessible in the party facility, and they did disappear too in their thousands all over the country. In the same irresponsible manner, party cards were handed out to all who said they had lost theirs. Mostly, no investigation was carried out what had become of the card lost. Even members who had been expelled retained their party cards, nobody demanded them back . When it came to deceased members, the families did not, as a rule, return the card to the party, which oftentimes resulted in the card of the deceased person to be used for misuse and corruption. The production results, which were so overwhelming, made the local party leaders convinced that there would soon be such surpluses as to sweep away all other difficulties.


Two hundred thousand party cards on the spree.


In the beginning of 1935 the Central Committee had to conclude that more than 200,000 party cards were out on the spree! Most had been given to people who had lost their party cards or had had them stolen. More than 1,000 new, unused cards had been stolen in the party facilities and 47,000 party cards had been given people who had not had time to get registered in the party. The party card was an important document. A person with a party card could i.a. enter all party facilities everywhere in the country, where significant documents were kept and important meetings took place. For that reason, the party cards were attractive items for enemies, spies, oppositional elements and foreign agents. All the worse it was then, as it turned out, that these people had little difficulties in acquiring a party card to the Communist party, which they could use to protect there undermining activities. In the year of 1935 the situation was such that it was not at all self-evident that there was a faithful and loyal party member behind a party card. It could in fact just as well be an enemy, a spy or a saboteur.


On 13 May, 1935 the Central Committee decided that a new, national control of the party documents – “proverka” – should take place. The control of the party cards was led centrally by a commission in the secretariat of the Central Committee led by Ezhov and, as his deputy, Malenkov. The control meant that each party member was to interrogated by the party secretary in that community or that working place concerning his life, history, work and other things; facts which were used to up-date the party registers. If there was any irregularity, a closer scrutiny of the person concerned was carried out, and in the meantime the party card was revoked. Those who could not confirm their party membership were expelled and the party card was taken back. All those who had been expelled had, according to the party statutes, the right to appeal to a higher instance, which was supposed to carry out a new investigation and make a new decision within two weeks.


Bolshevik order.


It was time to “to introduce Bolshevik order in our own party house”[19]. The Central Committee addressed itself especially to the local party leaders, the real cause of the disorder: “the Central Committee warns leaders of party organisations from primary to region, that if they do not provide … leadership for this important task … and immediately restore order in this important business, then the Central Committee VKP(b) will take measures of strict party penalty up to and including the question of expelling them from the party”[20].


Contrary to earlier purges, in the control of the party cards 1935 there were no particular political or social reasons, which could result in an expulsion. 1935 the only thing valid was whether the party card was authentic or not. This should be noted. In the bourgeois propaganda there is a lot of talk of the control of 1935 as part of a campaign of purging oppositional elements from the party leadership. The allegation is totally false. We return to this question later in the text.



Which was the result of the control of the party cards?


It turned out that, many of the local party secretaries, does who were responsible for the control, did not take the task very seriously. They did not attribute to the task the priority which the Central Committee had demanded. Reports started to flow in to the Central Committee showing that there was a general tendency to carry out a quick control to have it done with. Often, the commitment of local party secretaries was practically zero. The problems of the Western region were noticeable. The second party secretary of the region A.L. Shil’man and the local head of the control commission, Kiselev, were publicly severely criticised by the Central Committee as an example of how the work with card control should not be done. The party secretary Stepanov, leader of a district in the Western region, was expelled from the party. He had done the party card control in his district by devoting at the most five minutes per member to investigate the authenticiy of the membership. The Central Committee demanded personal commitment in this very important question, but the party secretary only thought of showing high percentages of how many he had managed to control and how many false members he had detected. The Central Committee objected to this bureaucratic way of solving the task. They wanted thorough investigations, so that they could be sure that the members on the list were real members.


A new party card control.


The Central Committee had to conclude that the party card control was risking to fail. On 27 June 1935 the Central Committee decided on a second round of the party card control, which should now be carried out at general membership meetings. All members were now given the opportunity to make pronouncements against those whom they did not consider worthy to be party members. Hereby, the matter changed completely. The Central Committee had been publicly criticising the party secretaries for a job badly done. This encouraged the members to demand criticism and self-criticism at the meetings, whereby these turned into enormous places of debate. Those party secretaries who had something to hide got frightened for a continued control which could reveal faults in the local party leadership. Some tried to check the urge to debate by telling that the campaign was a control of the party cards rather than a purge. It was still not possible to completely stop the criticism of the members. Getty in Origins of the Great Purges gives us an interesting insight into the accusations at the membership meeting of the Smolensk town committee in July 1935. At the meeting 616 accusations were raised.



The accusations during the “Proverka” in Smolensk in July 1935[21]

 (Getty: Origins of the Great Purges)


Kulaks, traders, families                                                               226

Degenerates, drunks, womanizers, violators of discipline               143

Official malfeasance, theft, embezzlement                                      106

Lost or dubious party cards                                                           62

Trotskyists, Mensheviks etc.                                                          28

White Army officers, Tsarist police                                                 41

Anti-Semites                                                                                  10       


Total                                                                                            616


As can be seen, more than a third of the accusations concerns kulaks and men who enriched themselves during NEP (the new economic policy). Another third plus of the accusations pointed at people who had committed severe moral and economic crimes. Only a small part of the accusations, hardly five per cent, had to do with political opposition. Simultaneously, one of six accusations, (circa 17 per cent) related to the criminal activities of leading cadres and political civil servants. On the national level, the party card control resulted in the expulsion of 170,000 members out of the 1.8 million investigated, i.e. 9.1 per cent.


The party meetings during July 1935 became a forum in the campaign against arrogant party functionaries and other bullies. In spite of the circumstance that criticism and self-criticism was the policy of the party, it was not always certain that this was in fact applied at the ground level. But now, at least during a period, these circumstances changed radically in favour of the base members. Stalin pronounced himself on the need for criticism and self-criticism and pointed out the lack of criticism as a fatal mistake, which “destroyed the cadres” by not bringing up their faults to discussion. The control of the party cards 1935 also showed another very serious shortcoming of the party: It was easy to forge party cards, and they were not reliable. The need for new party cards was an issue demanding an immediate solution.


The campaign of lies of the bourgeoisie and the reality.


Let us now for a moment discuss some of the lies being divulged in capitalist mass media about the control of 1935. As we can see in the examples from the membership meetings in Smolensk the open debates dealt a hard blow against the bourgeois elements who had sneaked into the party, people who were hunting for economic and social gains. Anything from kulaks and merchants to thieves, former white army officers and tsarist policemen. Contrary to the version of the history falsifiers the opposition was hardly at all affected. What happened during the party card control was above all that the workers of the party threw out from the party bourgeois elements who had been smuggled in. This is what makes the history falsifiers raging mad. They are used to having special rights in society and to workers, “the mob”, being kept at short leash, they totally lose their temper when forced to realise that the workers are in command in the party of the workers and that the discovery of inimical, bourgeois values led to expulsion. The chances of the bourgeoisie to grip some power after years of undermining work were annihilated.


Another lie is that the party card control would have been an act of revenge by the party leadership – by which is meant Stalin of course – for the assassination of Kirov. Kirov, who was a member of the Central Committee and chairman of the party in Leningrad was assassinated on December 1st 1934 in the party headquarters of the city. (The murderer Nikolajev entered the party headquarters by using an old, invalid party card.) The allegation of a revenge, which was to have been horrible and bloody with a huge number of executions, originates with the police agent Robert Conquest. Anybody reading his book The Great Terror without being familiar with these historical issues will have difficulties in detecting his lies. But for those who care to seek knowledge about the history, the allegation of a revenge is nothing but non-sensical. The party card control 1935 was just a consequence of the Central Committee decision concerning a new registration of the members in October 1934. As a matter of fact, Kirov took part in this decision, which took place two months prior to his assassination! Is it so that Kirov would have decided on an act of revenge for his own assassination, which was to take place two months later?!


Conquest confuses.


Moreover, Conquest mixes up the party card control with the very events connected with the police investigation of the assassination of Kirov. This is a typical Conquest-method of confusing, distorting and falsifying. The investigation of the assassination of Kirov led to the unveiling of the Leningrad group, a terrorist group which had planned the conspiracy in which Kirov was assassinated. The murderer Nikolajev and his companions were condemned to death. But the investigation also led on to the so called Zinoviev-Kamenev trial in January 1935, in which a number of well known personalities and highly placed politicians were condemned to prison or to exile far from the great cities. Those who were prosecuted were found guilty of having had knowledge of the terrorist atmosphere prevailing among the opposition in Leningrad, where the murderer of Kirov, Nikolajev, had his political domicile and of having stimulated this atmosphere. The murderer Nikolajev had carried out his deed in the conviction that he had the support of the accused in the Zinoviev-Kamenev trial. The accused admitted in court that they bore the moral and political responsibility for the assassination of Kirov.


Note that the Zinoviev-Kamenev trial took place between 16th and 23rd January 1935. This was during the new registration of party members which had been decided in October 1934 and which, in January 1935 had almost died out without any result. The party card control, which according to Conquest was a revenge against the opposition, was a result of the earlier control having proved insufficient for the great problems revealed. It started only in June 1935, five months after the termination of the Zinoviev-Kamenev trial and after the prison sentences for the opposition. The party card control could not have influenced the trial, nor could it have been a revenge on the accused. Conquest is aware of the great ignorance about the historical questions of socialism and does not hesitate to use the ignorance of people to divulge his dirty propaganda.


Eliminate Old Bolsheviks?


Another lie originating from the police agent Robert Conquest is that the objective for the control of 1935 was to eliminate the Old Bolsheviks. It is the same old, recurring story about a power crazy Stalin wanting to eliminating all the other Old Bolsheviks leaving him alone in power. The elimination of old Communists is an invented story which has nothing to do with reality. Arch Getty affirms in The Origins of the Great Purges that “Of the 455 expelled from the Smolensk City Committee, 235 had joined the party in 1929-32”[22]. At least half of those expelled could not have been old Bolsheviks.


Getty says further “Although the Great Purges are often associated with the decimation of the “Old Bolsheviks” the opposite seems to have been the case in Smolensk in 1935. On the average, party secretaries who were demoted or removed from office had joined the party in 1928, whereas their replacements had joined on the average two years earlier, in 1926. The replacement secretaries were about 3.7 years older as well. Thus those “not providing leadership” were replaced by older and more experienced party workers. New secretaries in the city party organisations included slightly more workers by social origin (30 of 39 compared to the previous 26 of 39) and slightly fewer persons of peasant and employee social backgrounds”[23]. This statement shows that “the elimination of the Old Bolsheviks” is not confirmed by the research that has been done in the Smolensk archives. Worker’s increased power within the party of the workers is precisely what irritates the reactionary rabble from Conquest to Ahlmark and Skott.


1936 – exchange.


After the control of the party cards in 1935 and as a consequence of it, the Central Committee decided on an exchange of party cards for all party members. There were efforts to have the party cards distributed to genuine members only; devoted Communists who really did honour to their membership, as far as possible. The directives of the Central Committee were very precise and full of details which nobody was entitled to bypass. Firstly, no exchange of party cards could take place until the control of 1935 in the area was terminated. Secondly, none other than the party secretaries were entitled to issue new cards. Then, the exchange of these could only take place in the building itself where the party secretary had his office and only in the presence of the member concerned and the party secretary of the cell to which the member belonged. The member was then requested to fill out a form in two copies and provide the necessary personal data. He was asked to sign the new party card and the two forms, having as a witness the party secretary. The party secretary did likewise and then stamped the new card. All cards had to bear a picture of the member, otherwise it was invalid. The new cards were sent to the regional party secretaries only and that by the NKVD mail, and they could be filled out only with a special ink sent by the Central Committee. The signatures of all party secretaries (i.e. those who had been authorised to issue party cards) were kept in a special archive at the party central. Exchange of the party cards for millions of members was a serious effort by the party central to establish genuine proofs of membership, which would be very difficult to falsify.


The exchange of party was not intended to additionally discover and expel party enemies in a new purge. The Central Committee focused on the opposite in its directive for the change of party cards: “If, in the proverka, party organisations paid special attention to the uncovering of hidden penetrations of the party by enemies, rogues, and swindlers, then, in the exchange, they must turn their principal attention toward freeing themselves of passive members not deserving the high title of member of the party; of the people who accidently find themselves in the VKP(b).”[24].


Merely two per cent expulsions.


The exchange of party cards was supposed to have taken place from February to April 1936 but in some places it was terminated as late as November 1936. There are no national statistics on the members expelled during period, but the figures from Smolensk indicated that relatively few were expelled. In the party organisation of Smolensk 4,348 party cards were issued and 97 persons were expelled, circa 2.1 per cent of the party organisation[25]. Approx. the same percentages are accounted for by other districts in the Western region. Unfortunately, the great majority of those expelled were ordinary base members with a worker background, who had been stamped passive.


The change of party cards in 1936 has also been used by Robert Conquest and the other history falsifiers in the dirty war against socialism. Conquest claims that there were massive purges undertaken during the exchange, and that the purges were higher in number than any before in the party. All this was, according Conquest, provoked by Stalin as a manoeuvre to ignite the moods against the opposition awaiting the trials 19-24 August 1936 against the Trotsky-Zinoviev centre where Zinoviev, Kamenev and Smirnov were the main actors. They were, at the time, accused of having taken part in a conspiracy led from abroad by Trotsky to kill the leading persons of the Soviet government and grab power. Conquest’s allegations about mass expulsions 1936 have for many years stood uncontradicted. The figures in Getty’s research in the Smolensk archives prove that the statements by Conquest are complete lies. In fact, the purges during 1936 were the lowest in the history of the party, between two and three per cent of the members.


The political trials of 1936-1938 in the Soviet Union.


The political trials and the purges in the Communist party were two separate things which did not directly have anything to do with each other. The party members who were expelled and tried at court for having been involved in criminal or counter revolutionary activities were a small minority of all those who were expelled. In order to understand this, it is important to know the history of the political trials during the 1930-ies. Bourgeois history writings exclude such possibilities. They have made the events of the 1930-ies into a totally confused story and a grossly falsified mixture of happenings and myths, lies and half-truths, a falsification which presents the purges and the treason trials as the same one occurrence.


The political trials were started by the trial against the Trotsky-Zinoviev centre in August 1936, the first of four between 1936 and 1938. In bourgeois mass media they are usually called the Moscow trials and are always depicted as macabre histories of “Stalin’s revenge”, whereby millions of people were dragged from their homes in the middle of the night to be killed in the most dire circumstances imaginable. According to the book by Peter Englund Letters from point zero they were killed by shots in the neck in “soundproof” rooms with a “tarpaulin” on the floor or “grooves sunk into the floor like the ones to be seen in slaughterhouses”. According to him, “the corpses were freighted away” by people “dressed in dark protective coats, aprons, rubber gloves and meat hooks” and were thrown up “on a truck where other undressed corpses were lying and waited”. The trucks were running in a shuttle traffic, according to Englund, and they left traces of dripping bloods in the streets of Moscow[26].


Englund’s stories have been taken from Conquest and writers paid by the CIA. Englund himself is an ignorant wretch, who has no ambition to give the Swedish readers knowledge of what really happened in the Soviet Union during the 1930-ies. For a good pay he happily lends his name to any attacks against Socialism and the Soviet Union.


In the so called Moscow trials 55 people got capital punishment and 7 imprisonment. Most of those prosecuted were persons in high positions in the party, the state apparatus and the army accused of treason, espionage, terrorism, sabotage, corruption or collaboration with the enemy, Nazi Germany. The Moscow trials were followed by trials in other parts of the country against companions of the traitors tried in Moscow, and hundreds of saboteurs, spies and all kinds of traitors were condemned to prison or death. The trials were public except trials against military personnel, which were held behind closed doors because of the secrecy in the defence preparations against Nazi Germany. In Moscow the trials were monitored by the international press and the accredited diplomatic corps, for which seats were reserved in the court room. Minutes from the three public Moscow trials were published as books by the Soviet government and translated into many languages, Swedish among others.



The background to the treason trials and party purges of 1936-1938.



The freedom period of 1920.


Bourgeois historians and petty bourgeois political activists of a “Socialist” or “Leftist” origin often describe the Soviet 1920-ies with some nostalgia as opposed to the “hard” 1930-ies. According to them the 1920-ies was the decade when freedom was ruling, there were discussions all around in society, arts and culture flourished and on the whole there were great opportunities for the individual to express him/herself and to influence the course of social development. This is a skewed representation of the historical development.

It is true that there was ample space during the 1920-ies for debate and participation in extensive cultural activities, but this was not specific for that decade. Parallel with the social development and the socialist construction during the thirties ever larger sectors of the Soviet population could take part of the political debate and of a rich cultural life in an extent never before seen. This refers to the tens and tens of million people who during this decade got access to the possibilities for culture, debate and knowledge in the new, modern society. The few thousands of wise geniuses from the “freedom era of the 1920-ies” could be good enough as it were. But this was still only an extremely small privileged minority profiting from the cultural possibilities and from the political debate. No comparison with the tens of millions who got these possibilities during the great leap of the Soviet Union during the 1930-ies.


Counteracted the introduction of Socialism.


What the bourgeoisie praises in the Soviet 1920-ies is not the political debate and the cultural development but the possibility for the political opposition to counteract the fight for Socialism. The bourgeoisie praises not least the constant fractional activities which different opposition groups devoted themselves to during the 1920-ies in the name of freedom of debate. All these groups were constituted during all years by more or less the same persons with people like Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Smirnov, Rykov, Pyatakov, Radek and Sokolnikov heading a programme of counteracting the introduction of Socialism. To the minority in the Central Committee the possibility of introducing Socialism in the retarded Russia was non-existent. That was the position of Trotsky. They wanted instead to use market relations awaiting a favourable international development in order to attain the socialist society in a distant future.


Another example of the character of the antagonisms is Bukharin’s view on the development of country 1925. Bukharin, who was a member of the Central Committee asked then the peasants, in a speech about agricultural policy, to “enrich themselves”. This was hiss message concerning the potential for agriculture to develop in the Soviet Union. Even though Bukharin did self-criticism of his statement and although Stalin accepted this personally[27], the ideas remained and did not disappear with the self-criticism. There is only one way to enrich oneself and that is by the exploitation of other human beings. That is what the big farmers, the kulaks could do. The idea must have been that richer farmers gave new employment opportunities whereby ruined petty peasants got jobs, while at the same time the state got higher income from taxes. In this way the wheels would “start to roll”.


Capitalism or Socialism.


The antagonism between opposition and the majority of the Central Committee concerned the future of the country, either capitalism or Socialism. This question was the principal one at the 14th party congress in December 1925. The Congress declared that the Soviet Union “the country of the proletarian dictatorship, has all needed to construct the perfect socialist society” and further that the main task of the party was “the fight for the victory of the construction of Socialism in the Soviet Union[28]. This resolution taken was defined as the position of the party and binding for all party members. The resolution established in a decisive way the continued political development of the Soviet Union and in the Communist party. But the resolutions were never followed by the opposition. Immediately after the congress the opposition started to counteract the work of the Central Committee for Socialism. As the years passed and the concrete proof for the correctness of the policy of the Central Committee was ever more evident, such as the fantastic production results during the first five year plan, the opposition got increasingly isolated and lost its positions of power within the party and state apparatus. Thereby, the organised, secret opposition work turned into a conspiracy against the government of the country, where anything was allowed from murder and sabotage to espionage and collaboration with the enemy, Nazi Germany.


Lack of education.


Another antagonism, one of a completely different kind, was also to be found within the Communist party during the 1930-ies. As a legacy from the 1920-ies, when literacy was very low bureaucracy had a strong position within the party. During the 1920-ies the party was compelled at times to be lenient to get people who could read for the posts as party functionaries. Some of these had unfortunately come to the party to acquire personal advantages. As time went by, these party functionaries got more and more power and in some cases the party bureaucracy was threat to the workers power in the party. The lack of education among the workers also resulted in their oftentimes not having the courage to attack functionaries who abused their power or were corrupted, but alas how eloquent! After the party had definitely taken the road of Socialism, after the 15th party congress in December 1927, when the opposition was politically annihilated, the struggle between the workers’ power and the bureaucracy within the party apparatus was put on the agenda. Prominent persons in this struggle were Stalin, Sjadanov and other comrades in the Central Committee of the party. Kirov who was assassinated seven years later, on December 1st 1934, was one of these. According to Stalin struggle was about the “thinking of the people”. Stalin explained together with Kirov and Sjadanov that the greatest part of the problems within the party could be resolved by political up bringing of the party members, something constantly present during the following years.


Struggle against the bureaucracy in the party apparatus.


At the 17th congress of the party in January 1934 the issue of struggle against the bureaucracy had a space reserved. The party leadership was fighting for a renewal of the Communist ideals by calling for studies, self-criticism, reorganisation and attacks against bureaucracy at all levels in the party. The congress took part at a time when fantastic results were attained in the industrial production and collective farms and was named the “congress of victory” in history. Stalin summarised the situation in his speech to the congress: “During this period, the U.S.S.R. has become radically transformed and has cast off the aspect of backwardness and mediaevalism. From an agrarian country it has become an industrial country. From a country of small individual agriculture it has become a country of collective, large-scale mechanized agriculture. From an ignorant, illiterate and uncultured country it has become – or rather it is becoming – a literate and cultured country covered by a vast network of higher, secondary and elementary schools functioning in the languages of the nationalities of the U.S.S.R.”[29].


Following the murder of Kirov in December 1934 this orientation was not changed, on the contrary, the campaign for the self evident power of the base members was strengthened against the corrupt administrative staff in the party bureaucracy. The party leadership called for a membership control of leading cadres and self-criticism. Moreover, the party leadership made conditions on a correct application of the party statutes, which would guarantee the inner democracy and counteract abuse of power. There were also demands for an increased contact between the local leaders and party members. The party leadership considered it an important step to get away from the impersonal party-bureaucracies.

In many quarters there were demands from the members, and the new strains were not always welcome by the regional leaderships. The purges started to pull along increasing numbers of local party leaders accused of  abuse of power or just passivity and ignorance. But in many places the Central Committee failed to penetrate the problems. The calls to party members to purge corrupt or uninterested party leaders were only partially successful, sometimes not at all. The local party apparatuses showed a great capacity of defence against criticism from the members.


The successes of the Soviet Union and the threat from Nazi Germany.


That is how the political situation presented itself in the Soviet Communist party in the middle of the thirties. The party had led the Soviet Union to incredible successes in production and the construction of society both among the workers in the towns and in the rural areas with the powerful cooperative movement. The Soviet Union was a power in the world which could stand on its own feet. Life for ordinary working people had started to get many beautiful aspects never before known by them. But in the middle of the 1930-ies fascism too began to have a position of power in Europe threatening the very existence of the Soviet Union. Supported and financed by German big finance since the end of the 1920-ies Hitler had built the Nazi party and won great election victories in a country with an unemployment of up to ten million people. I January 1933 Hitler was nominated Chancellor of the Reich and the Nazis soon got omnipotent in Germany. Of course, the Soviet government took note of the Nazi advances in Germany and had to calculate with it when planning the development of the Soviet Union and its defence. The Nazis had come to power with promises, among others, to eradicate Communism and the Soviet Union.


Results of the elections in Germany 1928-1932, in millions of votes.[30]  

The five biggest parties.

Unemployment under this years.


                                  1924      1928      1930      1931      1932      1932       1932      1934

20 May  14 Sept.                31 July                  6 Nov.

Social-democrats                     9,1         8,6                        8,0                        7,3

Communists                                  3,3         4,6                        5,3                        6,0

Centrists                                  4,7         5,2                        5,8                        5,3

Nationalists                              4,4         2,5                        2,2                        3,0

Nazis                                       0,8         6,4                      13,7                      11,7

Unemployment    2 millions                           4 millions             6 millions             10 millions





Results of the elections in Germany 1928-1932.[31]

Number of members of parliament.



1928                1930                1932                1932                1933

20 May            14 Sept.           31 July             6 Nov.             4 Mars

Social-democrats                153                  143                  133                  121                  120

Communists                             54                    77                    89                    100                  81

Centrists                             62                    68                    75                    71                    73

Nationalists                         73                    41                    37                    51                    52

Nazis                                  12                    10 7                 230                  196                  288

Bavarian Peoples Party       16                    19                    22                    19                    19

Germany Peoples Party       45                    30                    7                      11                    2

Germany States Party          25                    20                    4                      2                      5

Germany Industrial Party          23                    23                    2                      2                      0

Other Parties                       28                    49                    9                      9                      7


Total                                   491                  577                  608                  582                  647



Please note that Hitler came to power on 30th January 1933 and that the elections on 4th March 1933 took place during Nazism. They were the last elections with several parties. The Communists of DKP had been mendaciously accused of the German house of parliament fire in Berlin 27th February 1933. DKP was ruthlessly persecuted during the election weeks by the Nazis. Thousands of DKP’s members were already taken prisoners to the concentration camps during the elections and the Gestapo had already murdered hundreds of leading comrades. Still, the election results of the DKP were very good for these conditions: 4.6 million votes and 81 members of parliament. During the limited freedom, which existed towards the end of the 1920-ies in Germany and until Hitler’s ascension to power, the Communists were winning an ever-greater support among the German working class for their line of class struggle, class against class. Simultaneously, the German Social democracy with its policy of class collaboration retired markedly.


Nazi Germany was a threat against the Soviet Union, which grew in military strength year by year. In the middle of the 1930-ies Hitler had rejected all international treaties limiting Germany’s armaments and was making Nazi Germany the strongest military power of Europe. In the year 1937 France had not more than three hundred military aircraft against Germany two thousand and barely half as many bombers. When it came to armoured cars, there were a few hundred in France, but Germany had already acquired thousands. For its part, the Soviet Union, had started a great re-armament of the army as part of its preparations for defence against Nazi Germany. The budget for 1937 for the armament of the Soviet army was double the amount for England and France taken together. A living Communist party was more needed than ever in the Soviet Union to lead society in the war of defence which, as it was well understood, was to come. That was the reason why the struggle against bureaucracy and corruption in the Soviet Communist Party and the struggle for a party which was truly governed by the base members as one of the most important issues.


The trial against the Trotskyite-Zinovievist centre 19-24 August 1936. 

(The Zinoviev-Kamenev process)


After the trial against the murderer of Kirov, Nikolajev, and the terrorist Leningrad group as well as the trials against Zinoviev, Kamenev and others in January 1935, there was suspicion raised on the possibility of  existing more opposition groups planning terror and attempts and which was part of a conspiracy to oust the Soviet government. The suspicions, which were developed during the investigation of Nikolajev’s Leningrad group and its connections with the Zinoviev-Kamenev group, indicated a common denominator for the terror groups – they were inspired and led from a centre with, as its principal personages those opposition elements condemned to imprisonment and exile in the Zinoviev-Kamenev trial in January 1935. This was something unheard of in the Soviet Union of that period. The gravity of the moment, with the threat from Nazi Germany, should instead have led the thought to a common effort to construct and arm the country against Nazism.


In the middle of 1935 another process of investigation was opened against formerly highly positioned politicians and administrators in the Zinoviev-Kamenev group and its activities during earlier years. The process resulted in the trial against the Trotskyite-Zinovievist centre or “Moscow centre” in August 1936. Sixteen old Trotskyistes and Zinoviev followers, most of them highly positioned functionaries in the Communist party and state (Zinoviev, Kamenev, Evdokimov, I. Smirnov, Bakayev, Ter-Vaganian, Mrachkovsky, Dreitzer, Golzman, Reingold, Pickle, Olberg, Berman-Yurin, Fritz David [Krugljansky], M. Lurye, N. Lurye) were then accused of – in conspiracy with the Trotsky’s organisation in Nazi Germany –  having organised sabotage, espionage, terrorist activities and attempts against important personages in the Soviet government and the Communist party. The former political opposition had changed to organised violence. Having been defeated in the party referendum about the political line of the party, whereby the opposition got less than one per cent of the votes, the accused saw violence and a coup d’etat as the only possibility for grabbing the political power in the Soviet Union. The fantastic production results from the first five year plan and the collective farms had even more squeezed out those accused. The production results did not leave space any more for a political platform against the government.


Organised terror


During the interrogation Kamenev explained this with his own words.

“… However, our banking on the insuperability of the difficulties which the country was experiencing, on the state of crisis of its economy, on the collapse of the economic policy of the Party leadership had obviously failed by the second half of 1932. Overcoming the difficulties, the country, under the leadership of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U, was successfully advancing along the road of economic growth. We could not help seeing this. One would have thought that we should have stopped fighting. But the logic of the counter-revolutionary struggle, the nakedly unprincipled striving to seize power led us in the other direction. The emergence from the difficulties, the victory of the policy of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U., caused us a new wave of animosity and hatred towards the leaders of the Party, and primarily towards Stalin.”.[32]


The common denominator for those accused was that anything was permitted in order to combat Stalin’s government or, as Zinoviev said during one of the secret meetings of the group in 1932, “… although terror is incompatible with Marxism, at the present moment these considerations must be abandoned.”.[33] Among other things, the accused confessed that it was the Trotskyite-Zinovievist centre, which had prepared and carried out the murder of Kirov. Details concerning failed attempts against the lives of Stalin and Voroshilov also got known. Simultaneously, other attempts in the making were revealed against them and against Shadow, Kaganovich and others. A plan concerning a coup d’etat was also revealed in the court.


Trotsky in the centre


During the trial, which was public and witnessed by the diplomatic corps as well as the international press and where all the accused could always speak freely, many unexpected revelations were disclosed. It came out, for instance, that the leading personality of the conspiracy was Trotsky, who from abroad was sending directives and demanding attempts on the lives of members of the Soviet government and acts of sabotage and terror. According to the story delivered by the accused at court, Trotsky came several times from the exile to Berlin and Copenhagen to have direct contacts with some of the members of the group. Otherwise, Trotsky’s terror against the Soviet government was led by his son Leo Sedov, resident in Berlin and constituting the very centre of the conspiracy.


Three of the sixteen accused in the Trotskyite-Zinovievist centre (I. Smirnov, Dreitzer, Goltsman) were repeatedly in Berlin or Copenhagen on duty tours and they took the opportunity to meet Trotsky or Sedov, from whom they received direct instructions concerning the murder attempts and the terrorist activities in the Soviet Union. Five of the sixteen accused (Olberg, Berman-Yurin, Fritz David [Krugljansky], M. Lurye, N. Lurye) were residing in Nazi Germany and were sent by Trotsky to the Soviet Union to carry out the attempted murders. Some of them had got help from the Gestapo to acquire passports, weapons and other equipment. At court they confirmed that they had started to organise a communication network in 1933 between the German Trotskyistes and Gestapo to be established with the approval of Trotsky. On their arrival to the Soviet Union several of them got help by Nazi agents placed by Gestapo in the Soviet Union. The trial against the accused in the Trotskyite-Zinovievist centre terminated with their conviction. The court found the sixteen guilty and convicted them to “… all to the supreme penalty – to be shot, and all property personally belonging to them to be confiscated.”[34].


Connections in the Communist party


During the trial it was revealed that leading personalities of the terror centre, Zinoviev, Kamenev and Reingold had been in touch with highly positioned members of the Soviet Communist party in order to collaborate politically with a conspiratory purpose. This was something sensational. Could it come about that high party functionaries would conspire against the Communist party? A conspiracy with sabotage, terror and murder? Because of this revelation the prosecutor Vyshinsky informed during the very trial, 21st August, “I consider it necessary to inform the Court that yesterday I gave orders to institute an investigation of these statements of the accused in regard to Tomsky, Rykov, Bukharin, Uglanov, Radek and Pyatakov, and that in accordance with the results of this investigation the office of the State Attorney will institute legal proceedings in this matter. In regard to Serebryakov and Sokolnikov, the investigating authorities are already in possession of material convicting these persons of counter-revolutionary crimes, and, in view of this, criminal proceedings are being instituted against Sokolnikov and Serebryakov.”[35]. General Putna too, an old Trotskyite, was pointed out during the trial as having been active in the terrorist activities of the Trotskyistes.


The diplomatic corps present at the trial, a congregation of genuine bourgeois and anti-socialist individuals, never doubted the veracity of the trial, its impartiality and fairness. An internationally well known lawyer of the period, the judge Denis Nowell Pritt, member of the British Parliament, was present during the whole trial and later wrote about it in the London newspaper News Chronicle. Judge Pritt had received his education in jurisprudence at the Universities of Winchester and London and studied justice procedures in Germany, Switzerland, Spain and the Soviet Union. He was well acquainted with the conditions at the Soviet courts. Judge Pritt gave evidence in the News Chronicle of the impartiality and fairness of the trial. According to Pritt the crimes of the accused were proven at court.


Later, in a brochure entitled “The Moscow Trial was Fair” judge Pritt publicly challenged those who doubted the genuineness of the trial. Today, it is of a special historical interest to present the opinion of judge Pritt. The campaigns of lies against the Soviet Union are larger than ever. We take the liberty of introducing a long quotation from judge Pritt. In addition, his analysis of the trial is applicable to the ensuing political trials of 1937 and 1938, since the procedures were always the same, all in accordance with Soviet practice. Let us then read what an English lawyer has to say of the legal procedure in the Soviet Union.


“The Moscow Trial was Fair” by D. N. Pritt. [36]


“I studied the legal procedure in criminal cases in Soviet Russia somewhat carefully in 1932, and concluded (as published at the time in "Twelve Studies in Soviet Russia") that the procedure gave the ordinal accused a very fair trial. Having learnt from my legal friends in Moscow on my return this summer that the principal changes realised or shortly impending were all in the direction of giving greater independence to the Bar and the judges and greater facilities to the accused, I was particularly interested to be able to attend the trial of Zinoviev and Kamenev and others which took place on August 1936. Here was, born the point of view of a lawyer, a politician, or an ordinary citizen, a very good test of the system. The charge was a serious one. A group of men, almost all having earned high merit for their services at various stages of the anxious and crowded history of Soviet Russia, still not two decades old, almost all having been under some measure of suspicion for counter-revolutionary or deviationist activities, and most of them having had such activities condoned in the past on assurances of the loyalty in the future, were now charged with long, cold-blooded, deliberate conspiracy to bring about the assassination of Kirov (who was actually murdered in December, 1934), of Stalin, of Voroshilov and other prominent leaders. Their purpose, it seemed, was merely to seize power for themselves, without any pretence that they had any substantial following in the country and without any real policy or philosophy to replace the existing Soviet Socialism. With all its difficulties and shortcomings, with all the opposition, military or commercial, of the outside world, Soviet Socialism has raised a terribly backward Asiatic State in some 19 years to a State of world importance, of great industrial strength, and above all of a standard of living which, starting somewhere about the level of the more depressed peoples of India, has already overtaken that of many races of Eastern Europe and will soon claim comparison with that of the most favoured of Western industrial people.

And the charge against the men was not merely made. It was admitted, admitted by men the majority of whom were shown by their records to be possessed of physical and moral courage well adapted to protect them from confessing under pressure. And at no stage was any suggestion made by any of them that any sort of improper treatment had been used to persuade them to confess. The first thing that struck me, as an English lawyer, was the almost free-and-easy dameanour of the prisoners. They all looked well; they all got up and spoke, even at length, whenever they wanted to do so (for the matter of that, they strolled out, with a guard, when they wanted to). The one or two witnesses who were called by the prosecution were cross-examined by the prisoners who were affected by their evidence, with the same freedom as would have been the case in England. The prisoners voluntarily renounced counsel; they could have had counsel without fee had they wished, but they preferred to dispense with them. And having regard to their pleas of guilty and to their own ability to speak, amounting in most cases to real eloquence, they probably did not suffer by their decision, able as some of my Moscow colleagues are. The most striking novelty, perhaps, to an English lawyer, was the easy way in which first one and then another prisoner would intervene in the course of the examination of one of their co-defendants, without any objection from the Court or from the prosecutor, so that one got the impression of a quick and vivid debate between four people, the prosecutor and three prisoners, all talking together, if not actually at the same moment -- a method which, whilst impossible with a jury, is certainly conducive to clearing up disputes of fact with some rapidity. Far more important, however, if less striking, were the final speeches. In accordance with Soviet law, the prisoners had the last word -- 15 speeches after the last chance of the prosecution to say anything.The Public prosecutor, Vyshinsky, spoke first. He spoke for four or five hours. He looked like a very intelligent and rather mild-mannered English business man. He spoke with vigour and clarity. He seldom raised his voice. He never ranted, or shouted, or thumped the table. He rarely looked at the public or played for effect. He said strong things; he called the defendants bandits, and mad dogs, and suggested that they ought to be exterminated. Even in as grave a case as this, some English Attorney-Generals might not have spoken so strongly; but in many cases less grave many English prosecuting counsel have used much harsher words. He was not interrupted by the Court or by any of the accused. His speech was clapped by the public, and no attempt was made to prevent the applause. That seems odd to the English mind, but where there is no jury it cannot do much harm, and it was noticeable throughout that the Court’s efforts, by the use of a little bell, to repress the laughter that was caused either by the prisoners’ sallies or by any other incident were not immediately successful. But now came the final test. The 15 guilty men, who had sought to overthrow the whole Soviet State, now had their rights to speak; and they spoke. Some at great length, some shortly, some argumentatively, others with some measures of pleading; most with eloquence, some with emotion; some consciously addressing the public in the crowded hall, some turning to the court. But they all said what they had to say. They met with no interruption from the prosecutor, with no more than a rare short word or two from the court; and the public itself sat quiet, manifesting none of the hatred it must have felt. They spoke without any embarrassment or hindrance. The executive authorities of U.S.S.R. may have taken, by the successful prosecution of this case, a very big step towards eradicating counter-revolutionary activities. But it is equally clear that the judicature and the prosecuting attorney of U.S.S.R. have taken at least as great a step towards establishing their reputation among the legal systems of the modern world.”


The Swedish embassy in Moscow


It may be of interest to know what the Swedish embassy in Moscow reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm about the situation in the Soviet Union during the days of trial in August 1936. Let us render two short commentaries from long reports to the department. Consider that the documents were written by authentic rightists with all the corresponding, preconceived ideas against the Soviet Union and Socialism. The first one relates to the political situation in the country.


“Submitted to the Royal by His Majesty’s diplomatic representation

Moscow, 24th September 1936

Eric Gyllenstierna (Ambassador)


Concerning the inquisition within the Communist party

(11 pages, this being the final part of page 10, my note, M.S.)

Perhaps it should be noted towards the end –although it could be an act of exaggeration– that the cock-and-bull stories, which have been so freely disseminated in the foreign press and could give a naïve general population the impression that the whole Soviet realm were in the process of collapse, that these and similar media excesses are devoid of any support in reality, even if one could, in singular instances, imagine tracing some connection between the battle paintings by the foreign press and certain facts in the Soviet Union.”[37]


The inflammatory propaganda by the Capitalist countries against the Soviet Union during the days of the trial took such proportions in organised campaigns in the press that the Swedish Moscow embassy felt compelled to deny them to the Department of Foreign Affairs, in order to avoid to great  errors of judgement of the Soviet Union. The next quotation concerns the process of trial itself and the guilt of the accused. After having been indignant for the trial against these people who were so nice, the Ambassador Gyllenstierna still had to conclude that the terrorism indeed was part of the picture.


Moscow 25th September 1936

Légation de Suède

The great trial of conspiracy


(8 pages, this being page 3, my note, M. S.)

By that it is not implied, of course, that the accused (Zinoviev and Kamenev, my note M. S.) can be freed from every suspicion of having nurtured more or less well defined plans for the overthrow of the present, hated leaders of government with Stalin on top to grip the power for themselves. That the application of such plans in a certain conspiracy activity to the extent of using terrorism has at least been talked over by the inner circles of those dissatisfied individuals, also appears probable.

Eric Gyllenstierna (Ambassador)”[38]



Court Proceedings against the Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Centre January 23-30 1937

(The Pyatakov-Radek trial)


A living party in the hands of the base members was not a welcome idea in some quarters. A genuine workers’ party was a threat to the political opposition within the party, which had allied itself with the Trotsky group abroad. The conspiracy against the party leadership had continued in secret ever since the political defeat at the party referendum of 1927. But after the assassination of Kirov in December 1934 the society was vigilant and the conspirators met with more and more difficulties to realise their intentions.


At the same time the successes in the economic life of the country including the results of the first five years plan and the collective farms had shattered the unity of the conspiracy group. Some of those who had been striving for years in secret to defeat the Soviet government and the socialist societal development could not help but be impressed by the production results, which proved the correctness of the Central Committee policies. It was now not just a question of theories, but one could in fact se the results in real life. The divisions within the conspiracy group resulted in the political police obtaining an increasing knowledge of the activities of the group. Repenting conspirators gave information with unforeseen consequences.


Confessing their crimes


In January 1937 there was a lot of commotion in Moscow after seventeen highly positioned functionaries of the Soviet state had been brought to trial before the military board of the Soviet superior court accused of treason (Pyatakov, Sokolnikov, Radek, Serebryakov, Livshitz, Muralov, Drobnis, Boguslavsky, Knyazev, Rataichak, Norkin, Shestov, Turok, Hrasche, Pushin, Stroilov and Arnold). The principal characters constituting the very centre of the organisation were Pyatakov, Sokolnikov, Radek and Serebryakov. During the public trial in Moscow the accused confessed the crimes of which they were accused and told about their own activities and those of the others. The seventeen functionaries accused were members of a secret organisation, which had contacts with and were led by the Trotskyist group in Germany. The purpose of the secret organisation was to prepare for the violent ousting of the Soviet government. Among the activities of the group there was theft of public funds, espionage, sabotage and terrorism.


The interrogation during the public trial of Pyatakov, the principal leader of the group, is of particular interest. Pyatakov was remorseful and felt cheated by Trotsky and understood well that his crime was such that nothing could save him from the capital punishment. Pyatakov produced at court detailed information about the terrorist conspiracy which he led together with Radek, Smirnov and Serebryakov. Pyatakov was an old Trotskyist who in 1928 had left the group of Trotsky. In 1931 Pyatakov was a highly positioned functionary of state in the Superior council of public economy and chairman of the main board of the chemical industry. One year later he would become the deputy people’s commissary for the heavy industry. Pyatakov was in a decision making position for many of the big industrial projects during the first and partly during the second five years plan. His possibilities of sabotaging the socialist construction was enormous and he made use of that possibility, as we shall see. All quotations which follow are taken from the public minutes of the trial.


Pyatakov back to Trotskyism


Pyatakov told at court that he was recruited back to the Trotskyite organisation by I. Smirnov whom he knew well from the Trotskyite workings during the 1920-ies. It happened during an official trip to Berlin Spring/Summer 1931, where Pyatakov spent some months. Pyatakov’s brief this time was to buy heavy machines and lifts for the Soviet coal-mining industry. Ivan Smirnov was also a member of the Soviet delegation. During his period as a Red Army officer he had a leading position in the guard of Trotsky. Other Trotskyists like Loginov, Moskalov and Shestov were part of the Soviet delegation. The policy of the Soviet government after the hard fights against the opposition in the end of the 1920-ies giving a new chance to all those opposing the socialist construction was not very successful. All these Trotskyists and others belonging to the political right and the so called left within of the party, which had fought the Soviet government, were allowed to keep or got back their highly positioned posts, which caused considerable damage to the Soviet union during the 1930-ies.


Smirnov profited from his duty travels to Berlin to keep in touch with Trotsky through his son Leo Sedov who was leading the Trotskyist organisation in the Soviet Union from Berlin. Smirnov told of this to Pyatakov in Berlin, of which Pyatakov gave an account at court. Also at court, Pyatakov told how Smirnov had explained to him that Trotsky had instructed him that the fight against the Soviet regime and party leadership should now be reinitiated but with renewed energy, but that the circumstances were such that one had to keep outside the political struggle. According to Pyatakov Smirnov had explained that “mass methods of struggle should be abandoned and that the principal method of struggle that should be adopted was the method of terrorism and the method of counteracting the measures of the Soviet government”[39]. According to Trotsky, the opposition should leave the political struggle and revert to terror, sabotage and attempts against the Soviet regime as well as the principal personalities of the Central Committee. Smirnov also told Pyatakov that Sedov would like to have a meeting with him. Pyatakov assented and the meeting took place some days later. On that occasion Sedov confirmed to Pyatakov Trotsky’s new line for the taking of power through terrorism, sabotage and attempts and the subversive work underway in the Soviet Union. They were well into setting up an organisation covering the whole country including the adherents of Zinoviev and to which the right, with people like Bukharin, Rykov and Tomskyj were invited. According to Sedov the opinion of Trotsky was that “struggle confined to one country would be absurd ” and that “In this struggle we must also have the necessary solution for the international problem, or rather, inter-state problems”[40].


Sedov incites to theft.


Towards the end of this meeting Sedov told clearly that Trotsky had put the question of Pyatakov’s readiness to join their struggle. Pyatakov had answered in the affirmative. The prosecutor at the trial asked Pyatakov:

”Vyshinsky: How is it to be explained that you so quickly consented to resume this fight against the Party and the Soviet government?

Pyatakov: The talk with Sedov was not the cause of this, it only served as a fresh impetus.

Vyshinsky: Consequently, you held your old Trotskyite position even before this?

Pyatakov: Unquestionably, the old Trotskyite views still survive in me, and they subsequently grew more and more”[41].

In that way Pyatakov established contact anew with Trotsky. Before Pyatakov left Berlin Sedov insisted on meeting Pyatakov once more. Referring to this brief meeting Pyatakov told the court that Sedov had been very direct declaring ”money is needed. You can provide the necessary funds for waging the fight”. Pyatakov continued telling of Sedov’s proposal.

”Pyatakov: He was hinting that my business position enable me to set aside certain government funds, or, to put it bluntly, to steal. Sedov said that only one thing was required of me, namely, that I should place as many orders as possible with two German firms, Borsig and Demag, and that he, Sedov, would arrange to receive the necessary sums from them, bearing in mind that I would not be particularly exacting as to prices. If this were deciphered it was clear that the additions to prices that would be made on the Soviet orders would pass wholly or in part into Trotsky’s hands for his counter-revolutionary purposes”[42].

Subsequently Pyatakov tried to implement Sedov’s requests.




Littlepage about Pyatakov


It may be interesting to recall that one of these orders from the Spring of 1931, which was supposed to reinforce Trotsky’s cash, never came off. The story has been told earlier in “Lies concerning the history of the Soviet Union – From Hitler to Hearst, from Conquest to Solzhenitsyn”, Mario Sousa 1998. The American engineer John Littlepage, expert on the mining industry who was let to Soviet told of this in his book “In search of Soviet gold”. Littlepage accompanied Pyatakov’s big trade delegation in Berlin in the Spring of 1931 representing the leaderships of the gold mining industry. Littlepage refused to approve a big order on industrial elevators, which were of an inferior quality – which had been done by Pyatakov – and the deal never came off. Littlepage’s account for sabotages in the copper and lead mines and his suspicions against the top leadership of the copper-lead trust, with Pyatakov as its top chief, were not known in 1937 when the trial against Pyatakov took place. The book by Littlepage was published in London 1939. The book is in many aspects a compilation of proofs against the political opposition in the Soviet Union for industrial espionage.

Littlepage writes: ”It naturally wasn’t my business to warn my Communist employers against their fellow Party members, but some Russians can bear witness that I mentioned my suspicions to them as early as 1932, after I had worked for some months in the Ural copper-mines”[43].


The copper mines were part of the great copper-lead trust having as its topmost chief Pyatakov, deputy people’s commissioner for the heavy industry. The state of the mines was a disaster both in relation to the production and the welfare of the workers. Littlepage’s conclusion was that the sabotages were organised by the highest leadership of the copper-lead trust.


Pyatakov organizes the Trotskyist centre and sabotage.


In the Soviet Union Pyatakov worked on organising a new counter-revolutionary centre to function as a reserve to Zinoviev-Kamenev’s organisation in case this fell into the hands of the police. Later, Pyatakov’s organisation with the approval of Trotsky became a purely Troskyist centre, the so called parallel centre, an alternative to the activities of Zinoviev and the old party left. The activities of the parallel centre spread from Moscow to Urals, West Siberia and Ukraine, to cities like Charkov, Djnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Kiev and others. Pyatakov used the power which he had from his high position to send saboteurs and murderers all over the Soviet Union. (Shestov: head of Schachtstoj in the Kustnesk tank; Livshitz: head of the railway line in Ukraine; Kartsev: chief engineer of the Kemerovo-Combine; Drobnis: deputy head of the construction work at the Kemerovo-combine, Kolegayev: head of Uralsredmed – the copper works of mid Urals; Rataitjak: head of the Glavhimprom –the main board of the chemical industry; Maryasin: head of construction of the railways in Urals, and others.) Pyatakov gave a detailed account of the Trotskyist organisation’s activities at court. Let us give some examples.


Pyatakov about sabotage in Ukraine, Western Siberia and Urals


Pyatakov: ”I have already testified that wrecking activities were developed in the Ukraine, chiefly in connection with the coke and chemical industry. The wrecking activities consisted in the fact that newly-built were put ingo operation in a still unfinished condition, as a result of which they rapidly deteriorated, and, chiefly, the chemical sections of these plants were being delayed or almost not being built at all, thanks to which the vast means invested in the coke and chemical industry were rendered valueless to the extent of one-half, if not two-thirds their worth. The most valuable part of the coal, its chemical content, was not utilised and was allowed to escape into the air. On the other hand, new coking batteries were damaged.

The West-Siberian Trotskyite group carried on active wrecking work in the coal industry. This activity was carried on by Shestov and his group. There was a fairly large group there which chiefly worked along the lines of causing fires in the coking-coal mines. Wrecking work was conducted in the Kemerovo Combined Chemical Works. At first the work consisted in delaying the putting into operation of newly-built units, funds were diffused on secondary units, with the result that vast structures were in a perpetual state of construction and were not brought to a state where they could be put into operation. With regard to electric power stations, work was performed aiming at reducing the effective power resources of the whole Kuznetsk area.”

”In the Urals there were two main objects on which wrecking activities were concentrated. One was the copper industry and the other was the Urals Car Construction Works. In the copper industry efforts were chiefly directed towards preventing the copper plants that were in operation from being utilised to their full capacity. The Krassno-Uralsk Copper Works and the Karabash Copper Works did not fulfil their program of production; there was a tremendous waste of the copper delivered to the works and there were tremendous losses. The Karabash Works were in a perpetually feverish state. At the Kalatinsk Works the concentration plant worked badly all the time; wrecking activities were being carried on there too… In the main this work was carried on by Kolegayev – the manager of the Central Urals Copper Trust”[44].


Discouragement and confusion spreads among the Trotskyists


During the trial Pyatakov continues his description of the sabotages and demonstrates that most often the heads he had installed at the factories were the ones leading the destructive activities. With regard to the industry of defence Pyatakov entrusted Norkin ”that preparations must be made so that the enterprises in the defence industry could be put out of action by means of incendiarism and explosions”[45]. Little by little, however, Pyatakov and Radek turned hesitant. The reason was that Trotsky in his instructions to Pyatakov and Radek expressed the opinion that the Trotskyite parallel centre ”were just talking” and demanded that ”definite acts should be committed both in the way of terrorism and wrecking”. According to Trotsky’s letter this was ”not something fortuitous not simply one of the sharp methods of struggle he proposed, but an essential part”[46] of his policies.


And Pyatakov goes on. ”In the same directive he raised the question – this was in the middle or 1934 – that now that Hitler had come to power it was quite clear that his, Trotsky’s line on the impossibility of building up socialism in one country alone had been completely justified, that war was inevitable, and that if we Trotskyites wished to preserve ourselves as a political force of some sort, we must in advance, having adopted a defeatist position, not merely passively observe and contemplate, but actively prepare the way for this defeat. But in order to do so, cadres must be formed, and cadres could not be formed by talk alone. Therefore the necessary wrecking activities must be carried on now. I recall that Trotsky said in this directive that without the necessary support from foreign states, a government of the bloc could neither come to power nor hold power. (by bloc is meant the opposition in a body lead by the Trotskyists, my comment M.S.) It was therefore a question of arriving at the necessary preliminary agreement with the most aggressive foreign states, like Germany and Japan, and the he, Trotsky, on his part had already taken the necessary steps in establishing contacts bothe with the Japanese and the German governments”[47].


Trotsky’s directive to work for a defeat in the war


With Trotsky’s directive a new possibility emerged as an alternative for the Trotskyite organisation to take over power. It was no longer the case that they would cause a political instability in the country merely by killing important personalities in the Central Committee and government and by committing acts of sabotage. Now that was something new! Now, the Trotskyite organisation would work for the defeat of the Soviet Union in the coming war and take over the state power with the help of Nazi Germany and the Fascist Japan. According to Trotsky it was necessary “to retreat to capitalism” and “that meant obtaining the necessary support to maintain ourselves in power by making a number of concessions to these countries on terms to be agreed upon beforehand”[48].


When asked by the prosecutor Vyshinsky, Pyatakov’s foremost confidant Radek, answered that Trotsky’s directives concerning the Trotskyite bloc’s take over at the defeat of the Soviet Union in the coming war against Nazi Germany was “ the return to capitalism, the restoration of capitalism. This was veiled. The first variant would strengthen the capitalist elements; it meant handing over considerable economic interests to the Germans and Japanese in the form of concessions and assuming obligations regarding deliveries of raw materials, foodstuffs and fats to Germany at less than world prices”. The interior consequences of this were evident. ”The interests of private capital in Russia would concentrate around the German and Japanese concessionaires”. According to Radek Trotsky thought it necessary ”handling over to the Germans, if they demanded it, those factories which would be particularly valuable to their economy”[49].


Further on Radek told that Trotsky in his letters had explained that ”territorial concessions would probably be necessary … it was a question of satisfying German expansion in the Ukraine. As regards Japan, Trotsky spoke of ceding the Amur region and the Maritime Province[50].


Trotsky confirms collaboration with the Nazis


Pyatakov and Radek were astonished and frightened at Trotsky’s directives and decided to ask for a personal encounter with him. The opportunity presented itself in December 1935 when Pyatakov went to Berlin on a duty tour. In very conspirative ways, organised by the German Trotskyites and with a German passport, which Pyatakov got by Sedov, he flew on to Oslo, where Trotsky was residing at the time. They held a two-hour parley and Trotsky confirmed the contents of the letter. Moreover, he was dissatisfied with the activities of the Trotskyite parallel centre, which he thought was very bad. In short Trotsky demanded much more extensive sabotage and destruction of installations and factories and that a series of attempts should be carried out to kill the leaders of the Soviet Union, Stalin first and foremost. Referring to the concessions to the Germans, Trotsky told Pyatakov that ”he had conducted rather lengthy negotiations with the Vice-Chairman of the German National-Socialist Party – Hess”[51] and that an agreement had been reached.


But Trotsky went even further. He demanded from Pyatakov that the parallel centre should ”train cadres for the event of war, that is to say, to train diversionists and those who would engage in destruction, helpers for the fascist attack on the Soviet Union[52].


Pyatakov told the court that a new factor had entered with this conversation with Trotsky. ”Pyatakov: What was new, if you like, was formulated distinctly enough: in essence, the Trotskyite organisation was being transformed into an appendage of fascism. To me it became clear only then”[53]. Pyatakov goes on telling the court that the conversation with Trotsky, ”caused an unpleasant reaction both in Radek and in me, and we thought of doing something: but we did not reject it, and continued to carry on with what we were doing”, and Pyatakov realised ”that we had got into a blind alley”[54].


The Trotskyite parallel centre continued to carry out Trotsky’s requests, now they had got to carry out attempts to kill leading members of the Central Committee – Stalin, Molotov, Kaganovitj, Vorosjilov, Ordzjonikidze and others. Pyatakov related all this at the public trial in front of the international press and the diplomatic corps. The activities of the parallel centre continued until the beginning of 1936 when it was discovered and its members arrested.


Trotskyist activities in Nazi Germany and the USA


The reports about Trotsky’s collaboration with the Nazi party and Gestapo are received with great scepticism by to-day’s Trotskyites as well as their liberal and anti-Communist admirers. They do not want to accept facts delivered at several public trials. But one does not need to keep only to the public statements at the trials to reach the conclusion that Trotsky and Gestapo collaborated. Since 1934 Nazi Germany had become complete police state where several thousand German Communists had already been killed just a year after the Nazi take over and where another tens of thousands of Communists were locked up in the German concentration camps. Nothing happened in Nazi Germany without Gestapo’s permission. Absolutely no political activities and least of all such in which Russian revolutionaries were involved. The vast organisational work, which Leo Sedov devoted himself to could only take place with the permission by and in collaboration with Gestapo and with their money and material aid. In the USA a Trotskyite group was organised to support Trotsky’s struggle against the government. The main objective of the group was by propaganda to get a broad support from the public against the Soviet Union. The group organised a row of well-known intellectuals and got the possibility to have a big space in the press. But it was not just any newspapers, which could publish Trotsky’s manuscripts. Trotsky delivered his articles directly to the pro-Nazi Hearst-press. William Hearst was the American newspaper tycoon who openly vented his sympathies for Hitler and Nazism. After 1934, the year when Hearst met Hitler, the Hearst press became the great propaganda medium in the USA for Nazism. That was where Trotsky sent his articles to be published. Side by side with Trotsky’s writings Mussolini’s chronicles could be found —he had his own column in the Hearst press— and the overt Nazi propaganda of Göring. Trotsky’s articles had a given position among the Nazi propaganda against the Soviet Union.


The verdict against the members of the Trotskyite centre was pronounced on 30th January 1937 at three a.m. Thirteen of the accused —Pyatakov, Serebryakov, Muralov, Drobnis, Livshitz, Boguslavsky, Knyazev, Rataichak, Norkin, Shestov, Turok, Pushin, and Harsche — were convicted to the highest penalty, execution by a firing squad. Three of the accused —Radek, Sokolnikov and Arnold— were convicted to ten years imprisonment. Stroilov was convicted to eight years imprisonment. Those convicted to imprisonment were deprived of their political rights for five years after the term. All those convicted got their private property confiscated[55].



US ambassador Joseph Davies about the Pyatakov-Radek process


A witness to the trial who has left a very extensive material about this and other subjects concerning the situation in the Soviet Union 1936 to 1938 is Joseph E. Davies, the US ambassador to Moscow during this period. Davies has written a book, which we strongly recommend. It was published in New York 1941 with the title “Mission to Moscow”. The book is “A record of confidential dispatches to the State Department, official and personal correspondence, current diary and journal entries, including notes and comment up to October 1941” written by Davies in his correspondence with President Roosevelt, the Foreign office and his family back in the USA. Ambassador Davies also wrote a small brochure prior to the first anniversary of the Second World War 1942 with the title Our Debt to Our Soviet Ally. The brochure treats the Soviet union and the Second World War and urges the USA to open a second war front in Europe against Nazi Germany.


Joseph Davies was not a professional diplomat but a lawyer, capitalist and businessman. He was a man from the capitalist establishment of the USA and a personal friend of President Franklin Roosevelt. Davies was a great admirer of the American democracy and an outright anti-Socialist. In his farewell speech to the Embassy staff when his mission to Moscow ended he said, inter alia ”the dignity of manhood and womanhood, the sanctity of human life and liberty, the self-respect of the human spirit, are the best product which civilisation has brought into this world. These are found in the United States of America to a degree that is found no place else in the world. I don’t care how much totalitarian states or dictatorships may provide in material benefits or social benefits to childhood or old age. If liberty and freedom have to be sacrificed, then the price is too high to pay”[56]. What makes Davies interesting is that he during his stay in the Soviet Union made a genuine effort to get to learn about the country and the Socialist government. He asked from the government of the Soviet Union to be allowed to travel around the country, which was granted with all possible support. Ambassador Davies travelled criss cross over the whole country examining a uncountable cities, factories, cooperative farms, schools, hospitals etc. He described what he saw in an objective vocabulary to the Foreign office and in letters to his family in the USA.


Davies letter to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs


Concerning the trial against the Pyatakov-Radek group Davies wrote on 17th February 1937 a “Strictly Confidential” letter to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

“With an interpreter at my side, I followed the testimony carefully. Naturally I must confess that I was predisposed against the credibility of the testimony of these defendants. The unanimity of their confessions, the fact of their long imprisonment (incommunicado) with the possibility of duress and coercion extending to themselves or their families, all gave me grave doubts as to the reliability that could attach to their statements. Viewed objectively, however, and based upon my experience in the trial of cases and the application of the tests of credibility which past experience had afforded me, I arrived at the reluctant conclusion that the state had established its case, at least to the extent of proving the existence of a widespread conspiracy and plot among the political leaders against the Soviet government, and which under their statutes established the crimes set forth in the indictment”[57].


Conquest and the treason trial


It may be of interest to know what the bourgeoisie has got to say about the treason trial in February 1937. As usual, the main book of the bourgeoisie is The great terror by the police agent Robert Conquest. Other so called authors in Sweden and other countries who tackle this subject are just apprentices of Conquest. It is impossible here to mention all lies in Conquest’s description of the trial. We have to content ourselves with his description of the case against Pyatakov.


Conquest writes: ”The sacrifice of Pyatakov is perhaps the clearest sign of Stalin’s motives. He had been, it was true, an oppositionist, and an important one. But he had abandoned opposition in 1928 and had worked with complete loyalty ever since…What was there to be said against him? … He had been a major critic of Stalin’s in the 1920s. He had made it clear that he regarded his rise to power as unfortunate. Above all, he was even now, whatever his own desires, leadership timber.”[58]. We have already read about Pyatakov’s “complete loyalty” in the minutes of the trial. But even Conquests allegation that Pyatakov “still” would be “leadership timber” has nothing to do with reality. At this time the opposition had been politically vanquished long ago and had no political influence in the Soviet Union. That, for example, is the opinion of the Swedish Ambassador to Moscow, Eric Gyllenstierna in a letter to the Swedish Department of Foreign Affairs dated 28 January 1937 commenting the Pyatakov-Radek trial. Gyllenstierna confirms, that “there cannot be question of any political opposition which represents a real danger for those in power”.[59]


According to conquest, the treason trial was just a way for Stalin to get rid of yet some potential rivals, naturally, in order to remain in power himself! For those who have knowledge of Pyatakov’s testimony at the public trial, Conquest’s writings appear ridiculous. Littlepage’s book from 1939 also crushes Conquest’s lies, revealing Pyatakov as a thief and saboteur. Still, the myths of Conquest are the ones given publicity in mass media influencing people who are unprepared. Such are the myths served by the upper class to the people. Within the circles of the same upper class the language was and is different. Let us consider a confidential document by the Swedish ambassador to Moscow, Eric Gyllenstierna, to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm.


Ambassador Gyllenstierna about the Pyatakov trial


“Légation de Suède

Some comments on the confessions in the latest Trotsky trial. (6 pages)

Moscow, February 3rd 1937


(page 3:)

“It was striking, that the accused, with few exceptions, in spite of the long period of detention and the exacting mental –and probably in most cases also physical– torture they had undergone, did not appear particularly depressed or dejected. Rather, they seemed to be lively and alert; one or two among them even had a faint smile on his lips.”

(page 4:)

“It is difficult to find a psychologically satisfying explanation to the behaviour of the accused and their efforts to produce the best possible collaboration with the prosecutor. Like during earlier trials of the same kind, one has been lost in different guesses about this. As you may know, even the hypothesis has been put forth that the accused have been subjected to some narcotic or hypnotic influence –a hypothesis which, lacking any evidence, will be left without consideration for the time being.

The most commonly accepted explanation is that the hope of saving one’s own life, or at least that of some close family member, has been decisive for the strangely passive behaviour of the accused vis-à-vis  the prosecutor, and the grotesque enthusiasm for confessions would derive from a pure instinct of survival. As for myself, I have doubts about this explanation. The experience from the Zinoviev and other similar trials should have provided the insight, that not event the most frenetical self accusations and blaming of the co-accused sufficed to move the court to mildness in the punishment.

Moreover, it did not appear as if the majority of the accused, when stating their confessions, were motivated by a fawning eagerness to please the court and those in power. Their entire conduct, as I have endeavoured to hint, contradicts this assumption. --- Suffice, it is not worth the while to try and penetrate to the bottom of this mystery of confessions. It is and will probably remain an unsolvable, psychological riddle.

Eric Gyllenstierna.”[60]


Gyllenstierna 1937 and Arch Getty 1999


According to Ambassador Gyllenstierna the accused in the Pyatakov trial were “lively and alert; one or two among them even had a faint smile on his lips” when they were interrogated and confessed their crimes. The accused could, moreover, talked freely and confessed their crimes which for the Ambassador was “an unsolvable, psychological riddle.” It never fell Gyllenstierna in that the accused were in fact guilty and that they choose to confess their crimes confronted by the strong evidence of the prosecutor. But Gyllenstierna is not the only one. With few exceptions the whole of the united bourgeois class and its scribes were, just as they are now, completely perplex at the confession by the accused. When the subject has been brought up during the years as when new research has been presented or a new book published, new theories have been formulated just to explain away the fact that the accused were in fact guilty of they crimes they had been accused of.


The last in the series of sometimes totally unprecedented theories without any foundation except the imagination of the author can be read in Arch Getty’s latest book The Road to Terror, Stalin and the Self-Destruction of the Bolsheviks, 1932-1939.  Professor Getty who has been one of the few serious bourgeois researchers of the topic of Soviet Union’s history, has in this instance concerning the confessions of the accused in the political trials hit his head against the wall.


Professor Getty cannot accept the simple fact that the accused were guilty. Such things are not “as they should be” in the academic circles where Getty belongs, where an inimical and prejudiced attitude towards the Soviet Union and a sanctification of Trotsky are completely dominating. Getty has consequently built his own theory to explain the confession of the accused. It is what he calls “a confession ritual”[61]. For Getty the confessions were just part of a ritual constituting the basis of all phenomena occurring in the Bolshevik party since Lenin’s time. The aim of the ritual was to subject all party members to the superiority of the party or the nomenclature and to confess crimes when it was demanded of them, even when they were innocent. According to Getty the innocent lied about themselves and allowed themselves to be dishonoured in front off all comrades, all the working people of the Soviet Union and the whole world and for all eternity and allowed themselves to be condemned to death and be shot just to show respect to the nomenclature and for the unity of the party! And those who did not accept Getty’s confession ritual and refused to accept guilt for crimes which they had not committed were condemned to death anyhow! It is far fetched to say the least, not to say ridiculous. It can be conceived, of course, that a deranged person would have been thinking along such lines, but that all the accused would declare themselves guilty in spite of their innocence, only a confused researcher can accept. Such a one cannot be searching for truth but rather the verification of one’s own theory.


Getty’s intrigues and follies


Furthermore, one has to point out that most of the accused in the Moscow trials were former functionaries in high positions in the Communist party, people in the so called party establishment, the nomenclature. Why then would one part of that nomenclature strike against another part if there were no crimes nor any ones guilty? In spite of hundreds of tiresome pages of documents and intricate theories turning history into a mace of intrigues and follies of many kinds, Getty fails to give a reply to this question in The Road to Terror. What finally creeps out is –like always– that all was of Stalin’s making anyhow, he was behind everything with his craving for power and he struck in fear of losing control over the political system. And Getty goes to the extreme of ending his book by telling that, “there was no worker’s revolution” in the Soviet Union and that “the nomenklatura survived socialism and did in fact inherit the country” and ”become not only the ”new” governing elit of the 1990s but the legal owners of the country’s assets and property”[62].


Is this history? To make us believe that all is so simple, that the nomenclature present 60 years ago is the same which in 1990 sold the country to the capital? To make a 60 years long leap and close the eyes for everything that happened in the meantime just to make one’s “theory” land? To close one’s eyes for all class struggle in the fight for Socialism and a society without classes. And not the least to close the eyes to the greatest tragedy of mankind, World War II against Nazism and Fascism. A war which to a great extent was fought and won by the Soviet Union and where many of the best Communists and young people gave their lives for freedom not just for their own country but for the whole mankind. A war which had demanded a decade of work fighting against time and which had left vast areas of the Soviet Union in ashes and with enormous social and economical problems. Can one disregard all this? Could it be that the greatest tragedy of mankind had no influence on the social development of the country where it had taken place? With The Road to Terror Getty has created an acceptable product for the ruling capitalist class. He questions some old lies about the Soviet Union which are impossible to defend after the archives have been opened. But he knows to tell new mendacious theories slandering the Soviet Union and casting suspicion on it.


The purge of the party 1937 and the fight against bureaucracy


In the middle of 1937 it was clear that to great problems had to be taken very seriously and that a solution of them was a must if Socialism was to continue being built in the Soviet Union. One of the problems had been brought to light by the Zinoviev-Kamenev and Pyatakov-Radek treason trials. By now it had been proven that the old opposition had not laid down arms. Earlier auto-criticism had been a play for the galleries only, a way to get at commanding positions in society again. Their underground activities had been continuing without interruption ever since the beginning of the 1930-ies; the number of those involved was unknown. The other problem was the fight against bureaucracy, corruption and opportunism within the party. It related especially to the local and regional potentates whom the base members could not or did not dare to denounce and who were therefore in stable a sure positions in the local and regional leaderships.


The Central Committee convened in a meeting in February 1937 in order to treat these two principal questions. This meeting turned out to be the starting point in the party struggle which was raging during 1937-1938. At the beginning of the meeting Bukharin and Rykov, members of the Central Committee, were present. They were accused of having collaborated with the enemies of the party and also to have been part of a counter revolutionary league with Trotsky and to fell the government of the Soviet Union. The accusations were founded in material from the investigations of the recently concluded Pyatakov-Radek trial. The allegations against Bukharin and Rykov were presented by Pyatakov and Radek during the trial itself. Bukharin and Rykov tried to defend themselves but they were convicted traitors by the Central Committee and evicted from the party. Their case was handed on to the attorney for investigation and prosecution. We shall return further down to the trial against Bukharin, Rykov and the others in their organisation.


Stalin’s speech


During the meeting of the Central Committee Stalin gave a very important speech entitled ”Defects in party work and measures for liquidating Trotskyites and other double-dealers”[63]. This speech and Stalin’s “Speech in Reply to Debate” at the meeting are fundamental documents for all that seriously want to get into the question of the occurrences in the Soviet Union during the 1930-ies. Other comrades like Molotov, Zhdanov and Ezhov also brought up important questions during the meeting.

During his speech, Stalin turned to the others comrades of the Central Committee with the question how it was possible for foreign agents, Trotskyistes and their political allies, to penetrate the economical and administrative organisations of the Soviet state as well as the party organisations and carry out sabotage, espionage and damage. Moreover, Stalin asked how it had come about that these alien elements had managed to get responsible positions and even some help from some leading comrades to snatch the responsible positions.


Stalin went on to present a list of sabotage and espionage during the preceding years and the warning letter of the Central Committee to the party organisations and continued:

”The facts shows that our comrades reacted to these signals and warnings very slowly. This is eloquently show by all the known facts that have emerged from the campaign of verifying and exchanging Party documents. How are we to explain the fact that these warnings and signals did not have the required effect? … Perhaps our Party comrades have deteriorated, have become less class-conscious and less disciplined? No, of course not! Perhaps they have begun to degenerate? Again, of course not! There are no grounds whatever for such an assumption. What is the matter then? Whence this heedlessness, carelessness, complacency, blindness? The matter is that our comrades carried away by economic campaigns and by colossal successes on the front of economic construction, simply forgot about certain very important facts which Bolsheviks have no right to forget. They forgot about the main fact in the international position of the U.S.S.R. … They forgot that the Soviet power is victorious only on one-sixth of the globe … there are, besides, many other countries, bourgeois countries, which continue to lead the capitalist mode of life and which surround the Soviet Union, waiting for an opportunity to attack her, to crush her, or, at all events, to undermine her might and weaken her”[64].


Spies from the capitalist countries


Stalin then went on to point out the relationships between the capitalist countries.

”It has been proved as definitely as twice two are four that the bourgeois states send to each other spies, wreckers, diversionists, and sometimes also assassins, instruct them to penetrate into the institutions and enterprises of these states, set up their agencies and ”in case of necessity” disrupt their rear, in order to weaken them and to undermine their strength. … Today France and England are swarming with German spies and diversionists, and, on the other hand, Anglo-French spies and diversionists are busy in Germany; America is swarming with Japanese spies and diversionists, and Japan is swarming with American spies and diversionists. Such is the law of the relations between bourgeois states. The question arises, why should the bourgeois states treat the Soviet socialist state more gently and in a more neighbourly manner than treat bourgeois states of their own type? Why should they send to the Soviet Union fewer spies, wreckers, diversionists and assassins than they send to their kindred bourgeois states? Why should you think so? Would it not be more correct from the point of view of Marxism to assume that the bourgeois states would send twice and three times as many wreckers, spies, diversionists and assassins to the Soviet Union as they send to any bourgeois state? Is it not clear that as long as the capitalist encirclement exists we shall have wreckers, spies, diversionists and assassins sent to us by agents of foreign states?”[65].


These were, according to Stalin important circumstances which the leading comrades had forgotten, and that was the reason why the sabotages and espionage being unexpected for many of them. The economical achievements explained the laxity and carelessness. The really great steps forward in the socialist construction resulted in a tendency to boasting, a tendency to overestimate the power on one’s own side and to underestimate that of the enemy. The great successes gives rise to an ”atmosphere of success-success after success, achievement after achievement, overfulfilment of plan after overfulfilment of plans – gives rise to carelessness and self-satisfaction, creates an atmosphere of showy triumphs and mutual congratulations, which kills th sense of proportion and dulls political intuition, takes the spring out of people and causes them to rest on their laurels”[66].


The capitalist encircling?


And Stalin continues ironically to present the thoughts on the subject of a local, party functionary. ”Capitalist encirclement? Oh, that’s nothing! What does capitalist encirclement matter if we are fulfilling an overfulfilling our economic plans? The new forms of wrecking, the struggle against Trotskyism? Mere trifles! What do these trifles matter if we are fulfilling and overfulfilling our economic plans? The Party Rules, electing Party bodies, Party leaders reporting to the Party members? Is there really any need for all this? Is it worth while bothering about all these trifles if our economy is growing and the material conditions of the workers and peasants are becoming better and better? Mere trifles! The plans are being overfulfilling, our Party is not a bad one, the Central Committee of the Party is also not a bad one – what else do we need? They are some funny people sitting there in Moscow, in the Central Committee of the Party, inventing all sorts of problems, talk about wrecking, don’t sleep themselves and don’t let other people sleep…”[67]


Party courses and Lenin courses


Stalin then elaborates upon a number of errors in the party work and the measures he regards as being necessary to correct the errors that have arisen. He concludes by presenting a proposal for organised studies for leading party cadres, from cell leaders to leaders for the regions and the party organisations of the Soviet republics. ”For the Party instruction and the re-training of secretaries of Party organisations (cells), four months’ ”Party courses” should be established in every Regional centre”. ”For the political re-training of first secretaries of District organisations, eight months’ ”Lenin courses” should be established in, say, ten of the most important centres in the U.R.S.S.”. ”For the ideological re-training and political improvement of secretaries of city organisations, six months’ “Courses for the study of Party history and policy” under the C.C. of the C.P.S.U.(b) should be established”. “Finally, a six months’ “Conference on questions of internal and international policy” under de C.C. of the C.P.S.U.(b) should be established. The first secretaries of Regional and Territorial organisations and of Central Committees of national Communist Parties should be sent here.”[68] Studies is the right way to solve the problems and the contradictions in the party; a line which Stalin, Zhdanov and Kirov decided since January 1934.


In the “Speech in reply to debate” Stalin brought up some important controversies, which had emerged during the debate. Among other things Stalin pointed out that those who had once been Trotskyistes or Trotsky sympathisers but who had changed since then and worked well being loyal to the party were not targets in the fight against the Trotskyite wrong-doers and spies. “In this matter, as in all others, an individual, discriminate approach is required. You cannot measure everybody with the same yardstick”.[69]


Control the party functionaries


The other questions in the epilogue were all focused at a sharp criticism of the relationships of party functionaries with the base members. Stalin did not mince his words. He started by criticising the selection of party functionaries. “Most often, (party)workers are chosen not for objective reasons, but for casual, subjective, philistine, petty bourgeois reasons. Most often, so-called acquaintances, friends, fellow-townsmen, personally devoted people, masters in the art of praising their chiefs are chosen without regard for their political and business fitness. Naturally, instead of a leading group of responsible workers we get a little family of intimate people, an artel, the members of which try to live in peace, try not to offend each other, not to wash dirty linen in public, to praise each other, and from time to time send vapid and sickening reports to the centre about successes. It is not difficult to understand that in such a family atmosphere there can be no place for criticism of defects in the work, or for self-criticism by leaders of the work. Of course, such a family atmosphere creates a favourable medium for the cultivation of toadies, of people who lack a sense of self-respect, and therefore, have nothing in common with Bolshevism.”[70]


Further on Stalin commented on the necessity of controlling the party functionaries not just by their superiors but, even more importantly, by the base members. “Some comrades think that people can be tested only from above, when leaders test those who are led by the results of their work. That is not true. Of course, testing from above is needed as one of the effective measures for testing people and verifying the fulfilment of tasks. But testing from above far from exhausts the whole business of testing. There is another kind of test, the test from below, when the masses, when those who are led, test the leaders, draw attention to their mistakes and indicate the way in which these mistakes may be rectified. This sort or testing is one of the most effective methods of testing people.”[71]


Applying Leninism


Stalin also criticised strongly those who were unwilling to auto criticism with the argument that this would be taken as a weakness by the enemy and taken advantage of, and which could also lead to disorganisation and enfeablement. “That is nonsense, comrades, sheer nonsense. On the contrary, the open admission of our mistakes and their honest rectification can only strengthen our Party, raise the prestige of our Party … To spare and take care of cadres by glossing over their mistakes means killing these very cadres for certain.”[72] In the end Stalin urged the leaders of the party organisations to listen to the voice of the masses, a certain way of practising a correct leadership. He criticised firmly “the formal and heartlessly bureaucratic attitude of some of our Party comrades towards the fate of individual members of the Party, to the question of expelling members from the Party, or the question of reinstating expelled members of the Party.”[73]


According to Stalin the leaders had to get to know the members, their development and way of life to be able to make a fair and individual judgement of each one. Lacking such knowledge “they usually act in a haphazard way: either they praise them wholesale, without measure, or roundly abuse them, also wholesale and without measure, and expel thousands and tens of thousands of members from the Party”.[74] Stalin opposed all expulsions for alleged passivity or for the members not having appropriated the party programme. Only tested and theoretically instructed Marxists could appropriate the party programme.


Stalin appealed to the leaders of the party to apply the Leninist formula for membership in the party according to which “a member of the Party is one who accepts the program of the Party, pays membership dues and works in one of its organisations.”[75] No party member should be expelled for lacking a deep knowledge of the party programme or party policies. Stalin called it a heart-less policy and an enormous bureaucratism to exclude workers for small errors like being late to party meetings or unpaid party fees. Before the question of an expulsion was treated, a criticism, warning or a certain time be given to the person in question to allow him or her to improve. Party leaders were required to have a genuine concern for the members “this is exactly what some of our comrades lack”[76], Stalin concluded.


Party members start criticising


When Stalin’s speeches were published, they became the starting point for a debate in the society, just like other speeches by Molotov, Zhdanov and Ezhov. The leading themes were Stalin’s “Speech in reply to debate” and Zhdanov proposal for secret votes in party elections, which had been accepted at the Central Committee meeting. Thus, the questions which aroused the greatest interest concerned the power of the party leaders and their actions as well as party democracy. The Bukharin-Rykov trial and the necessity to be vigilant against spies and saboteurs was also discuss and moreover criticism against the breach of party discipline by individual members. But the main question remained the omnipotence and corruption among local party leaders.


During the entire 1930-ies the Central Committee had urged party members to initiate criticism against the leadership and to denounce corrupt and uninterested party secretaries. Now, at last, the discussion got underway! Party meetings were organised everywhere in the society because of the February meeting of the Central Committee. Meetings, which had been recently done away with in a routine and bureaucratic fashion suspected of friendship corruption, had to be repeated suddenly following massive demands by the members. The Smolensk archives provide plenty of instances of meetings where local leaders were literally put against the wall and were forced to auto-criticism in front of the members. The masses of members were not indulgent. At many meetings in District Committees and in Work place or Residence cells, the party leaders were so thoroughly unmasked that they were bereft of their positions on the spot, new leaders having the confidence of the members being elected directly. These elections were not part of the Central Committee plan for new party elections with secret election of the party leaders. By that time the plan was only being prepared. But nothing could prevent the members from take over power from the corrupt bureaucrats.


Example in the district of Belyi


A typical example of the atmosphere in the working class after the Central Committee meeting February 1937 must be told here. In the Belyi district (Belyi Raion) a meeting took place to analyse the activities of the party, a meeting which took four days. Minutes of the meeting are available in the Smolensk archives[77]. Base members who had seldom spoken at meetings or who had been stamped passive, took the word on this occasion and did not mince their words “regardless of person”[78]. 220 of the 240 members were present at the meeting of the Belyi district committee (Belyi Rakom). Seventy-seven spoke at the meeting and presented harsh criticism against the district secretary Kovalev. He was accused of having become a bureaucrat without consideration for the members. He had falsified reports about political education and closed study halls with the excuse that they were not needed. His methods were dictatorial, partial and brutal. Members who were for some reason called to the district office felt uneasy knowing that they would have to wait long hours or return without completing the business at hand.


The NKVD head in Belyi, Vinogradov, came to Kovalev’s help. He asked the party members not to discuss party work. According to him, the directives from the February meeting of the Central Committee meant that the members were to discuss the Spring’s sowing. Kovalev, on his part, tried to remit the criticism down to lower levels, the party cells. According to him, that was where the errors were to be sought, not in the district. Even Golovashenko, the representative of the obkom (the regional Committee) came to Kovalev’s aid. He tried to calm the debate and counter attacked the members who had been severely criticising Kovalev. But there was nothing that could help Kovalev. The criticism from the members continued without interruption during the entire meeting and the list of accusation grew long. The meeting ended by the members then and there giving Kovalev the foot electing Karpovsskij first secretary in the party district.


Stalin’s “Speech in reply to debate” a tool in the struggle


The history does not end here. The local NKVD head had tried to help Kovalev and so had the regional representative. A decision by the regional secretariat stopped the newly elected district Karpovsskij and proposed another member, Boradulin. A new, large membership meeting took place during which Boradulin was declared even more incompetent than Kovalev and where the members once more elected Karpovsskij district secretary. This occurred in spite of Karpovsskij urged the members to accept the proposal of the regional secretariat.

That was the atmosphere following the February meeting of the Central Committee. With Stalin’s “Speech in reply to debate” in their hands the base members started immediately to throw out careerists and corrupt bureaucrats electing their own leaders irrespective of superior instances. It was a spontaneous struggle as is clearly shown by the reports in the Smolensk archives having far reaching consequences within the near future. At the same time corrupt bureaucrats in positions of power continued protecting each other. To mention Kovalev who got a good job at the personnel department of the region. But on the other hand the struggle had only just begun.


The 1937 party elections


One of the important resolutions passed at the February meeting of the Central Committee was a to hold general party elections following a precise and rigorous democratic regulation with secret ballot for election of persons. Two weeks after the Central Committee meeting, 20th March 1937, a decree was issued by the Central Committee concerning Elections to the party organisation and started a debate in the press about the necessity for auto criticism, democracy in the party and control of leading party functionaries. The central leadership did its best to prevent corrupt party leaders from manipulating the election meetings.


The elections took place during April 1937. The local leaderships were widely criticised during the election meetings. Earlier, the party meetings for discussion and criticism had been a forum to criticise the base members for lack of party discipline or bad conduct. Now, the situation was reversed. This time, the local leaderships were at the centre of criticism. As a rule, many members were nominated to the party boards at the meetings. The discussions were long and careful minutes were taken. The secret elections came last. There are many documents in the Smolensk archives concerning the party elections including ballot papers.


Old leaderships exchanged


The national results of the party elections were reported in the press later. Among 54.000 party organisations, the election results of which were known in May 1937, the old leadership had been exchanged in 55 per cent. This was an incredible result. First of all it showed that the lack of confidence in the old leaderships was very great and secondly that the base members in practice had the collective strength needed to throw out politicians who were incompetent or abusing their power. Evidently, the Central Committee meeting had formulated a dissatisfaction which was already present.


The party elections, however, had another aspect too. Among the party leaders who were expelled most were active on local level, in the districts and cells, the level where ordinary members could easily decide what was right and wrong and discover corruption, abuse of power or sabotage. Higher up in the municipal and regional Committees the party elections did not give similar results. The regional party leaderships showed a great competence in surviving criticism. Cases of corrupt politicians at regional level, which were known, acting like little kings, managed to get the vote to their advantage. The base members did not have the same possibilities to evaluate the events around these leaders as around the local ones. There was yet another factor speaking against the base members. Corrupt and incompetent regional and municipal secretaries always surrounded themselves with a group who supported them in all weathers. It was not easy for the base members to penetrate all this seeking the truth.


Regional leaderships exchanged


But the struggle against the bureaucracy and corruption within the Communist Party continued on higher levels too. In the beginning of June the annual regional party conferences started as usual. These conferences were not accorded any particular importance, they were usually discussing reports concerning the work of the regional leaderships. This time, however, something new occurred. Even at the regional conferences the party leaders were criticised. The party central knew that it would be much more difficult for the base members to make their voices heard at the regional level. This time the party central decided to send representatives from the Central Committee to the regional conferences. These representatives came, sometime totally unannounced, took a seat and participated in the discussions. This had the effect of tipping scales at several regional conferences to the disadvantage of the regional party leaders. Among the twenty-five regional conferences reported in the press, four ended by the party leadership having to leave. The problem had been remedied but in many quarters the regional satraps continued ruling and doing as they wished without caring for the party directives.



The military trial against the generals


It was at the moment for the regional party conferences when something decisive for the future of the country took place in the Soviet political life. On June 11, 1937, Pravda announced that Marshal Tukhachevskii and the generals Putna, Iakir, Uborevich, Feldman, Kork, Primakov and Eideman were arrested and charged with treason. These generals had been arrested in Mai 26th, 1937, charged of during a long time for “habitual and base betrayal of military secrets to a certain hostile Fascist power, and working as spies to encompass the downfall of the Soviet state and to restore capitalism.”[79]


The conspiracy of the generals was the military part of the struggle of the opposition against the Soviet government. The treason trial of Pyatakov-Radek had dealt a severe blow to the opposition, but the generals had not cancelled their plans for a coup d’etat. On the contrary they realised that any delay would be to their disadvantage. The plans were finalised already before; it was time to act. Following the trial of Pyatakov and the denouncement of the Bukharin-Rykov group, who were now under arrest, the military conspirators increased their efforts. Towards the end of March 1937 they decided on the time for the coup. It was to take place within six weeks or March 15th the latest.


The return of the political commissars


Having knowledge of the plans for a coup the Soviet government acted swiftly. On May 8th an important resolution was taken: the political commissars were reinstated in the army at all levels. The system of political commissars supervising the officers and the military decisions had been abandoned ten years earlier, May 13th 1927, on Frunze’s proposal. He was an old Bolshevik and highly positioned party cadre who had become one of the leading officers of the army. He abolished the political commissars and reinstated the power of the officers. Moreover, on May 11th 1937 marshal Tukhachevskii was demoted from his post as deputy war commissar and sent to lower mission in the Volga area. General Gamarnik, one of the conspirators who committed suicide, was demoted on the same day as deputy war commissar. The generals Iakir and Uborevich were, they also, moved to lower posts while the generals Kork and Eideman were arrested, accused of spying for the Nazi Germany. The conspirators no longer had any practical means of directing a military coup.


The Socialist society defends itself


The Soviet government’s quick intervention this time averted the attempted coup d’etat against the Socialist Soviet Union, but the size of the conspiracy in the civilian society and among the military was not known in all its parts. The generals had a contact net with many important party functionaries and officers. There was a feeling of uncertainty and insecurity during the political life, which ensued. The total width of the conspiracy was not revealed until the Bukharin trial in 1938. For instance, the conspirators had already made up lists of thousands of party functionaries who were to be arrested and eliminated. The Socialist society however, could defend itself by following the traces left by the generals and the Pyatakov-group.


Before the military trials started, the evidence for the guilt of the generals was submitted a vast number of officers, representatives of all the military districts of the Soviet Union, at a big military conference in Moscow. The court proceedings were held behind closed doors because of the military secrets treated during the trials. Only high-ranking officers were admitted to the trial. The court consisted of the judge Ulrich and eight senior army officers. The court found all the accused guilty and condemned them to death. Two of the court members marshal Blücher and the old Bolshevik hero marshal Budjonnyj, pronounced the death verdict. On May 12th Pravda published the execution by a firing squad of the eight condemned.


The conspirators and the foreign links


The military trial against the general has been the subject of interminable speculations during the years, which have resulted in many crazy conclusions. All the speculations do have in common that there was in fact a conspiracy within the Soviet army to oust the government by force in a coup d’etat. Even the most reactionary interpreters of history admit that there was such a conspiracy. The difference between the authors is revealed only when one looks at who were allegedly the allies of the generals in this conspiracy. The historical research of later years has, however, confirmed the accusation of the Soviet government, namely that Tukhachevskii and his group had sought support from Nazi Germany for its coup d’etat and that the groups of Pyatakov and Bukharin were part of the conspiracy.


In 1937 an attempted coup in Soviet Union would have had very serious consequences, which are difficult to gauge entirely. On the one hand the Soviet government had a very strong support among the population and among the rank and file of the Soviet army. On the other hand, the conspirators had been working in secret for many years preparing their effective. To a large extent they were people who, like Tukhachevskii had come from the old corps of officers from the Tsar’s army. Many of them had been trusted to continue in the Red Army and in 1937 had high posts of command. At the time of the trials, the Soviet army had grown to a great, modern and strong army with several million in arms. To have a confrontation in such an army between troops loyal to the government and conspirators, even if these latter were much fewer, would have had widespread consequences and led to great losses.


From similar situations in history we know that this type of events leads to confusion, whereby the rank and file follow their commanders without having much opportunity to consider the correctness of their action. If the coup d’etat of the generals had come off, one could have expected a minor war with devastating consequences. This was also what the conspirators were hoping for. In order for them to reach a final victory exterior assistance was indispensable. That assistance could come from the strong military states, which had for a long time been threatening the Soviet Union: Nazi Germany, Japan and Italy. That was how the plan was conceived. The Nazis would initiate an invasion to “liberate” the Ukraine and Japan would occupy the Soviet Pacific coast.


The regional party meetings and the struggle against counter-revolution


In June 1937 the situation in Soviet Union was extremely tense. Nobody knew exactly the size of the military conspiracy but there were many indications that it was larger than the group discovered. The Central Committee decided to start a comprehensive investigation. The military conspiracy came from the top and its roots in the civilian society were to be sought among people with leading posts. A number of extra ordinary membership meetings were arranged in the regions to evaluate the work of the regional party leaderships and to find out the size of the conspiracy. In the Western region the meeting to place during three days between June 19th and 21st 1937. Kaganovich took part at the meeting as the representative of the Central Committee. The central question was the evaluation of the regional party secretary Rumiantsev and his close associates.


Rumiantsev subject to criticism


Ivan Petrovich Rumiantsev was an “old Bolshevik” who had joined the party as early as 1905. In 1929 he was named by the Central Committee first secretary of Smolensk, and Rumiantsev took a number of old comrades to be installed in several of the leading posts of the region. This nepotistic procedure was stamped anti-Marxist by Stalin at the February meeting of the Central Committee, but it did not impress Rumiantsev. In June 1937 Rumiantsev was 61 and member of the Central Committee with a strong standing in the Western region, where several companies and factories had been named after him. In practice, Rumiantsev was immune to criticism. The “old Bolshevik” Rumiantsev had in the course of years been replaced by a pompous bureaucrat mostly interested in his own welfare. The dissatisfaction with Rumiantsev in the Western region was evident, but the possibilities of felling him were slight.


The conditions had changed radically prior to the meeting of June 19-21, 1937. It was not only due to the presence of Kaganovich and his support of the critical voices. Another matter was of an even greater importance to the members being so outspoken. It turned out that one of the conspiring and condemned generals, Uborevich, was a member of the regional Committee collaborating optimally with Rumiantsev. There were suspicions that Rumiantsev was one of the high party functionaries who were involved in the military conspiracy. Old injustices committed by Rumiantsev and his group against individual members were brought to light without pardon.


The situation for the leadership of the Western region became increasingly glum. Among other questions the dismissal of the party secretary Kovalev was brought out. Kovalev had been kicked out by the party members at the membership meeting in the district of Belyi but he got a comfortable job for his retirement by … Rumiantsev. Now the members brought up what had happened and they were of the opinion that it was Rumiantsev who had shaped Kovalev’s behaviour against the will of the party members. He was the one causing the transgressions and abuse of power in the district of Belyi. By using such familyness and patronage, Rumiantsev had “suppressed criticism and self-criticism, creating a circle of ‘his people’ ”[80]. The list of accusations of corruption and omnipotence against the leadership of the Western region grew ever longer. As a consequence, the whole leadership was dismissed at the meeting. At a subsequent investigation, Rumiantsev and his group were arrested, accused of corruption and abuse of power.


The Central Committee launches a vast counter attack


In July 1937 the Central Committee had collected sufficient evidence of the military conspiracy having been part of a scheme involving many high party functionaries. The situation was extremely serious. Even in the Central Committee itself there were corrupt members involved in the conspiracy. The construction of Socialism bore with it consequences which some old Bolsheviks and newer high party functionaries could not accept. The distant and somewhat romantic picture of worker’s power during the days of the revolution 1917 had now become reality in the Soviet Union ruled by workers. This was a scary development for some who had been living well and acquired privileges. They choose the road of counter- revolution. They found their indispensable allies outside the Soviet Union to stop the Socialist development. The Central Committee decided to fight the white terror and treachery firmly.


The task to follow up the traces of the attempted coup by the traitors was handled by the security police NKVD under the leadership of Ezhov. All over the country people who were known to have had connections with the conspirators in the group of Pyatakov or the generals were investigated. Many were arrested. The political situation was insecure and the foreign links of the conspirators still unclear in their entity. The generals had divulged secrets about the defence of the Soviet Union and it was unclear to what extent this had weakened the country.


Nazism wins in Europe


In Europe the fascist armies had began to act without restraint. The war in Spain was in full swing supported by Italy, which had sent 50,000 men to the aid of Franco. Nazi Germany contributed economically, and with fighter and bomb planes, guns, tanks and other war machines to equip the Italians and the fascists of Franco. One of the first terror attacks by plane took place with the bombings of Madrid and Barcelona. In Africa Italy occupied the kingdom of Ethiopia-Abessinia following a ruthless war against a people without defence against a modern army. In March 1938 the Nazis occupied Austria and in March 1939 Checkoslovakia. In the same month Madrid fell to fascism and in September 1939 Nazi Germany vanquished and occupied Poland. In April 1940 Denmark succumbed to the Nazi invasion and in June 1940 Norway had to surrender after a brave resistance. The same month Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and the great military power France fell after five weeks of German attacks. There was a British army to assist France, but it found itself beaten and had to retire with great losses.


The Soviet Union was living a dangerous life. The Fascist aggression was approaching with great strides. The damage done by the treason of the general was a threat against the country, which would take a long time to repair. The government knew that the country had a long way to go before it could resist the forces of Nazi Germany, the greatest and best equipped army in the world. When the day of invasion came in June 1941 Nazi Germany had an army of eight million men. Never in the history of mankind had there been such a big army. The Soviet Union had constructed a modern industry and enlarged the army to five million men, with great speed.


The purges hit the highest ranks


The purges in the party got momentum after the Central Committee had questioned the loyalty of the regional party leaders to Socialism. The party meetings were strongly influenced by the tense situation in the community, and the base members turned more and more vociferous against corrupted and inefficient functionaries. People who considered themselves totally protected all of a sudden where thrown out from a directing role to the party masses some were directly delivered to justice for their crimes. Bourgeois history in the West talks of terror against leading functionaries and company administrators, people who had much better economic conditions than most. “Nobody could sleep in their beds”, say the Bourgeois historians.


But why should one not question individuals who had traded the property of the people “under the table”, who had used the money of the state for business of their own and who had liberally handed out presents and bribes to friends and acquaintances? Why should one be particularly considerate to party leaders who used power to oppress base members and mistreat them? Why should one not persecute generals and other high officers who had betrayed the secrets of the country and collaborated with the enemy? Why should they go free or be treated better than other criminals? In the Soviet Union, in contrast to the bourgeois democracies in the West, all were equal before the law. Moreover, a high position in society was an honorary assignment implying that one should be a good example and abide by the laws very carefully. One could say, that this is remarkable for the capitalist bourgeoisie only, those who have always made a living from crimes, crooked dealings and speculation.


The expulsions and “the old Bolsheviks”


Bourgeois historians have had much to say about the persecutions of “the old Bolsheviks”, allegedly those most affected by the purges. Research into the Smolensk archives does not support such a theory. If  “old Bolsheviks” were purged or arrested it was simply because they were leading cadres and had been pointed out by the base members as corrupted, arrogant or uninterested in their task. Investigations made about the 127 leading “old Bolsheviks” from Stalin’s generation, which had taken part in the October revolution 1917 in Moscow show that they were not a special target for the purges. If they fell, the reason was their leading position and the criticism made by the members. Of these 127 “old Bolsheviks” 109 could be followed the whole life. Among these 38 were expelled or put to trial during 1937.[81]


A comparison between the years 1934 and 1937 also yields an interesting result.[82] The number of “old Bolsheviks” was 182,600 at the 17th Party congress in 1934. At the 18th party congress 1939 they had diminished to 125,700. The reduction of “old Bolsheviks” during these five years, all causes included, even natural death and diseases, was 56,900 or approximately 31 per cent. A part of these 56,900, and probably a big part, were expelled during the purge 1937. But still in 1939 125,700 “old Bolsheviks” were active, and the majority in leading positions in the party, all over the country. The myth that “Stalin had exterminated the “old Bolsheviks” is nothing but a myth, yet another lie by Conquest-CIA once initiated by Trotsky.


Research also shows that most of those expelled during this time were people from the leading circles of the party. Let us give a concrete example from the party district of Belyi.[83] Out of 244 members and candidates in the party organisation of Belyi 36 were expelled during 1937. 29 of those expelled were in leading positions. Two first party secretaries of district committees, one chairman and two deputy chairmen of the district soviet executive committee, one Komsomol district secretary, the district prosecutor, the chief of the district NKVD and one of his fellow officers, the directors of the three largest schools in the district, the head of the district land office, the director of the Belyi Machine Tractor Station, four heads of industrial undertaking, two heads of trade organisations, five collective-farms chairmen and five chairmen of the rural soviets.


The myth of the expulsions of 1937


The myth about the terrible year 1937 which the bourgeoisie has made one of its top items, not surprisingly through the police agent Robert Conquest and CIA / MI5, the true fathers of the myth are unmasked by the statistics about the purges during the whole of the 1930-ies.


Party expulsions by year[84]


Operation        Number expelled            Percent of party

1929                         170.000                         11

1933                         792.000                         18.5

1935                    170.000                           9

1936                              --                           --

1937                    100.000                           5

1938                      70.000                           2


Note! There are no national statistics for 1936. In Smolensk two/three per cent of the members were expelled.


Analysing the statistics one can perceive the dimension of the bourgeois lie. In fact, 1937 was one of the years of the lowest number of people expelled, not more than five per cent! How comes, that the bourgeoisie and its lackeys have transformed 1937 into the “Stalin’s incredible year of 1937 with “millions false accusations, millions deported, millions murdered”[85] as Peter Englund likes to formulate it. Which are the interests behind this? We understand that in such a mass movement of criticism and self-criticism with millions of people involved, wrong decisions have been made and innocent people affected. But such things occurred at earlier purges too. Tens of thousands party members had expelled on the wrong grounds and got their membership back after simply having appealed to the party central. These injustices which affected ordinary workers, more than others, are of no interest to the West. How to explain such an interest for 1937? Why precisely 1937 taken as the worst that befallen the Soviet Union?


The class question gives the answer


The explanation is related to class. The great difference between the purges of 1937 and other purges in the party is that during the other purges mainly base members, ordinary workers were expelled – they constituted up to 80 per cent of all those expelled. The relationship was just the opposite 1937. Of all those expelled around 80 per cent were corrupted party bigwigs and high level individuals of the army.[86] These were people who had acquired privileges and financial advantages and who were prepared even to collaborate with Nazi Germany to keep them. These were people who did not mind stepping on the base members and who readily threw out those who did not accept the transgressions. In 1937 party functionaries and officers with inclinations to the West and a bourgeois thinking were kicked out. They lost their position of power, were thrown out from the party and brought to trial. We can understand the hatred of the bourgeoisie against the Soviet year of 1937.



The policy of the party and difficulties of the mass struggle


The aim of the purges was to throw out corrupted bureaucrats and traitors in the party and army. Such a far reaching struggle with millions of party members involved could not be carried out without mistakes. Old personal contradictions could lead to unfair decisions. On the other hand a strong mistrust against all party cadres in a party organisation could easily spread when a highly positioned party functionary was proven to be corrupt bureaucrat. The Central Committee was aware of the difficulties and warned from the outset against exaggerations.


The struggle was aimed at bureaucracy and treason and not against party cadres in leading position in general. In some quarters this principle was difficult to apply. Party members who, for instance, were working with white collar jobs and had not shown a genuine interest for party life could easily be expelled in spite of the loyalty to Socialism they had demonstrated in their work. The Central Committee opposed this and corrected the injustices when they got the appeal of those expelled. In October 1937 during a reception for technical cadres from Donbas Stalin gave a statement in person against those who questioned all leading cadres. According to Stalin the new technicians and economists of the Soviet Union came from the proletariat and deserved the respect of the people.


NKVD and the power struggle


The security police NKVD and its head Ezhov, who had had an important role in the unveiling of the conspiracy in the army, were warned too by the Central Committee. The police could not put itself above the Socialist society but it was its servant only and had to respect socialist legislation. The work of the security police was important, it saved the country from civil war, but its power was submitted to the party of the workers and peasants. Within NKVD there were some forces headed by the member of the Central Committee Ezhov decide for themselves who was a counterrevolutionary and what characterised an enemy. These forces wanted far reaching purges, without consideration for the least error. They wanted to purge the party radically from everybody who showed the least insecurity or who was not totally dedicated. They would throw out everybody who in their neighbourhood or in their work had had dealings with corrupt bureaucrats or traitors. Evidently, this was a political issue to be decided upon by the Central Committee not by the security police. Ezhov was criticised strongly for sometimes having led NKVD into exaggerations in the hunt for traitors, exaggerations that meant that innocent people were imprisoned and submitted to severe hardships.


Further, there was a tendency in society and the mass media, not withstanding the criticism from the Central Committee to glorify NKVD and Ezhov’s actions. Stalin himself opposed this glorification. At the anniversary of NKVD 20th December 1937, which was celebrated with pomp at a public meeting in honour of the police force at the Bolshoi theatre, the chair of honour was empty. Stalin absented himself from the meeting and Mikoian had to act an improvised chairman of the meeting. The criticism against Ezhov and NKVD should be taken seriously. Stalin boycotted the NKVD meeting but demonstratively attended a musical concert at the Bolshoi later in the evening. The absence of Stalin must be considered in relation to the fact that he was often seen at meetings, everything from hero pilots, polar researchers and kolchos women to meetings with factory leaders or voters in his electorate.


Bukharin-Rykov’s treason trial 2-13th March 1938


27th February 1938 it was announced officially in the press that 21 important people were to be tried at court for high treason. Among these there were nine former members of the Central Committee and other highly positioned functionaries (Bukharin, Rykov, Yagoda, Krestinsky, Rakovsky, Rosengoltz, Ivanov, Chernov, Grin, Zelensky, Bessonov, Ikramov, Khodjayev, Sharangovich, Zubarev, Bulanov, Levin, Pletnev, Kazakov, Maximov-Dikovsky, Kryuchkov)[87]. They were accused of having constituted a group denominated the “Bloc of the Rights and Trotskyites” to topple the government of the Soviet Union and return the country to capitalism.


Sabotage, terror, collaboration with Nazi Germany, Japan and England, attempts at the lives of outstanding members of the Central Committee of the Communist party and government, participation in the murder of Kirov, and murder of the author Maxim Gorky, his son Maxim Peshkov, the chairman of the security police Menzhinsky and the member of the polite bureau Kuibyshev were part of the activities of the group.


Pleading guilty


The accused had, moreover, during many years had knowledge of the conspiracies revealed in the trials of Zinoviev-Kamenev and Pyatakov-Radek, and they had had close collaboration with theses groups. Moreover the accused had been part of the conspiracy of the military and the attempted coup d’etat in May 1937. The most important among the accused were Bukharin and Rykov, earlier members of the Central Committee and Yagoda the former head of the Security police; people with a political clout and power in society. But several of the other accused were functionaries who had power over the socialist construction of the Soviet Union. Heaps of books and articles have been written about this trial, and almost all of them deny the guilt of Bukharin and his companions. Yet, all the accused have pleaded guilty to the crimes they were accused of. The general opinion among the diplomats present at the trial was also that the accused were indeed guilty. A testimony about the authenticity and impartiality of the trial was delivered among others by the then US Ambassador Joseph Davies who was present at all the days of the trial. We shall return to this later.


On guard against fascism


The Bukharin-Rykov trial was public and was eagerly monitored by the diplomatic corps and the world press. As usual at Soviet trials all the accused were present during the whole trial seated side by side. During the whole trial they were fully free to talk at any time and to comment on the accounts of the others and even to pose questions to the other accused when they deemed it necessary. More than ever it is important today to have knowledge of this trial, the accusations of the attorney and the responses of the accused as well the possibilities to defence and freedom to speak. Knowing the facts is the best way to fight the smear campaign of the right against the Soviet Union and Socialism.


In the continuation we shall produce material from the minutes of the public trial which was published in French, English and German in the Soviet Union 1938 and in Swedish by Arbetarkulturs Förlag (På vakt mot fascismen). For lack of space this survey will be limited although it will be a very long account with many long quotations. To those who have the possibility to get hold of the official minutes we strongly recommend it for reading. We start by treating parts of the interrogations of three of the accused, Chernov, Zelensky and Ivanov, to illustrate the general activities of the rightist group for later to move on to the leader of the rightist group Bukharin, Rykov and Yagoda.


Research equal to zero


Such a work, with facts on hand to present the Bukharin-Rykov trial (and Pyatakov-Radek) has rarely been carried out. The opinions about these trials are time and time again published in newly written books and articles in capitalist mass media. But most of the time they are but simple copies of the books and articles of police agents (like Conquest), Fascists or Trotskyites. The research into these trials is practically zero. The author of this study could experience this state of affairs, when he wanted to borrow the English edition of the minutes of the trial concerning Pyatakov-Radek and Bukharin-Rykov at the University library of Uppsala in November 1999. It was discovered that the minutes were on loan and had been so to the same person since May 1967! The books of the University library can remain with the borrower until the day that somebody requests it. I was the first person in 32 years who asked to borrow the minutes. The writer Peter Englund living in Uppsala, who is a member of the Swedish Academy and of the Swedish Royal Academy of Science of War, has never borrowed the minutes of the trials but he has wrote books and articles about the trials. We must tell also that the minutes of the trials in English, French and German do not exist anymore at the Uppsala University Library. I discovered that when I was preparing the English and French translations of this work in 2002. I put the question in the newspaper of the town. I got the answered that they were send to the fire! The University Library said they have short of money to pay for the house rent and they decided to send a lot of old books and journals to the fire. Almost all the important books for the story of socialism were send to the fire. That is a good example of the bourgeois respect for culture.


The interrogation Chernov, people’s commissary for agriculture


During the trial the accused admitted horrible crimes whereby sabotages against the production apparatus was a wide spread practice. Chernov, People’s Commissar of Agriculture of the U.S.S.R[88]., earlier People’s Commissar of Trade of Ukraine[89], told during the interrogation at court that he had got the task by Rykov to carry out his work in Ukraine in such a way “as to incense the middle peasants”. The tactics of the right was to sabotage and make impossible the fight for collective farms. Among Rykov’s directives to Chernov it was to “accentuate the distortions of policy, to take special account of the national feelings of the Ukrainian population and to explain everywhere that these distortions were a result of the policy of Moscow[90]! Moreover, Chernov told at court that he had also been assigned “to form a Right organisation among my acquaintances, if there should happen to be such on the staff of the Trade Representation and the Embassy”[91] in Berlin.


Chernov did so after his arrival in Germany. In this case Rykov’s directive was for Chernov “through the parties of the Second International to rouse the public opinion of capitalist countries against the Soviet government” in order “to get the bourgeois government to intensify the hostile attitude towards the Soviet Union”. The rightist bloc was prepared to “after the Right came to power … would consent to an arrangement with the bourgeois governments both on economic questions and, if necessary, on territorial questions”[92]. Rykov had informed Chernov that “since we needed the defeat of the Soviet Union for the conquest of power in the country, we should expedite this defeat, and should likewise expedite the outbreak of the war itself by diminishing the economic and defensive power of the Soviet Union[93]. At the public trial and in front of the international press Rykov admitted that he had given Chernov all these instructions. The right was prepared to work for a defeat in the war and to give away Ukraine and parts of Byelorussian to Germany and the Pacific coast to Japan for aid to overthrow the Soviet government and take over the state power.


Agent for Nazi Germany


But the activities of Chernov in Germany suddenly took another turn. A member of the right bloc working for the German police too, told the German police about Chernov’s conspiratory activities. Chernov was given an ultimatum to either work for Germany or be denounced to the Soviet authorities. He told at court that he took the assignment for the Germans. He started to provide the German police regularly with secret information about the results of agriculture and industry as well as carrying out sabotage demanded by the German police.


Chernov told at court “The chief task assigned to me by the German intelligence service at that time was to arrange to spoil grain within the country. This involved delaying the construction of storehouses and elevators, so as to create a discrepancy between the growing size of the grain collections and the available storage space. In this way, two things would be achieved: firstly, the grain itself would be spoilt; and, secondly, the indignation of the peasants would be aroused, which was inevitable when they saw that grain was perishing. I was also asked to arrange for the wholesale contamination of storehouses by pests, and especially by corn beetle”[94]. All this horrible work of sabotage Chernov carried out for the Germans causing great losses to the Soviet Union. Consider that Chernov was one of the highest ranking party functionaries in the area of agriculture during several years.


Sabotage in agriculture


Chernov also told at court of other parts of his counter revolutionary activities. Among other things to “muddling up seed affairs” by “mixing up sorted seed and thus lowering the harvest yield in the country” and when it came to cultivation “the idea was to plan the crop area incorrectly and thus place the collective farm peasants in such a position that they would be virtually unable to practise proper crop rotation”. This, according to Chernov had to “this would reduce the size of harvests in the country and at the same time rouse the indignation of the peasants”[95].


As regards the machine and tractor stations, “the aim was to put tractors, harvester combines and agricultural machines out of commission, to muddle the financial affairs of the machine and tractor stations”[96]. In relation to animal husbandry Rykov’s directives were among other things to “to kill off pedigree breed-stock and to strive for a high cattle mortality, to prevent the development of fodder resources and especially to infect cattle artificially with various kinds of bacteria in order to increase their mortality”[97]. To his aid in the sabotage work Chernov had the members of the right organisation of the whole country. Among other things they saw to it that no remedies against cattle epidemics were imported to Eastern Siberia resulting in a cattle pest which in Spring 1936 carried away twenty five thousand horses. The members of the right also spread infections and created a swine pest in the district of Leningrad and in Voronezj and Asov-Black sea area. The material carrying the infection was produced in factories in Kasjinzev, Orlovsk and Stavropol controlled by the right bloc. One can estimate that ten thousand swine perished this time. This was the type of activity Chernov devoted his time together with a great number of helpers, he who had been entrusted the organisation of the Soviet agriculture for the people’s benefit.


Zelensky, Secretary of the Moscow Committee of the Party, chairman of Centrosoyuz[98]


Allow us to give another example of the activities of a traitor. Zelensky himself told at court how he had been working for the secret police during the Tsar’s epoch denouncing his Communist party comrades for money. He was among those who managed to hide their past and continue to be active and make a career within the Communist party. He was recruited in 1929 to the organisation of Bukharin and Rykov by Smirnov. His first task was to sabotage the collectivisation of Middle Asia. He got the directive by Smirnov to “to preserve the big farms, meaning kulak farms” and “check and disrupt the organisation of collective farms”[99].


In Moscow it was the assignment of Zelensky to cause damage to the co-operative associations of Moscow and in the Centrosoyuz where Zelensky was the chairman. (Centrosoyuz: The central organisation of the Soviet Union for planning, transporting and distributing the agricultural products as well as the acquisition and distribution of Soviet and foreign products to the agricultural producers. The Centrosoyuz had subdivisions in all republics of the Soviet Union, which in turn had subdivisions all the way down to village level.) The aim was to disorganise ““the disorganisation of those branches of economy which most immediately affected the population: housing, co-operatives, trade, commodity circulation” in order “to arouse discontent among the population with regard to the supply service”[100]. Zelensky told how in 1936 they had “engineered interruptions in the sugar supply in the Kursk Region” where “many shops were out of sugar for two or three weeks”[101]. Zelensky told of a similar sabotage of tobacco products in Leningrad, bread in Byelorussian and salt all over the country.

The butter which tore apart the throat and stomach


When the prosecutor Vyshinsky made a direct question about the sabotage of the butter organised by the Right and Trotskyite bloc, Zelensky first tried to deny that he knew it. But Vyshinsky continued to pose questions and at last, Zelensky had to present the whole story. The right organisation saw to it that periodically only high quality butter at a very high price was produced. This caused a great dissatisfaction among the people. But it got worse. To be sure that they had cased dissatisfaction, the members of the right organisation mixed nails and glass in the butter “which hacked the throats and stomachs of our people”. Zelensky was responsible for these acts of sabotage and even for the sabotage against eggs. According to Zelensky “in 1936 fifty carloads of eggs were allowed to spoil” and leaving Moscow without eggs. The motto was “to wreck wherever possible”[102].


The English Labour positive to a coup d’etat


Consider that Zelensky was the chairman of Centrosoyuz and that his work was to provide the population with alimentation and other necessities. Zelensky also told at court of his organising “freezing of trade by despatching goods to the wrong districts or at the wrong times. For example, there were cases when summer goods were sent in winter, and, vice versa, when winter goods arrived in the shops in summer”[103], such as felt boots in Summer and Summer shoes in Winter. Apart from this Zelensky’s counter revolutionary activities extended to the embezzlement of money from the great organisation Centrosoyuz and the use of the departments of Centrosoyuz all over the country as a centre to organise counter revolutionaries in secret. Zelensky also made use of his post as the chairman of Centrosoyuz to enter in contact with the English Labour party and ask about help in case of a rightist coup in the Soviet Union. Labour welcomed a counter revolutionary state coup and offered credits from the English cooperative movement.


Ivanov, Second Secretary of the Party in North Caucasus[104]


The accounts of Chernov and Zelensky at court are horrible crimes against the working people. Yet, they are only a few of all the crimes committed by the organisation led by Bukharin and Rykov. Another of the accused, Ivanov, the second secretary of the party in North Caucasus, told at court of the assignments he had got by Bukharin “of proceeding to prepare the way through the forces of the Right organisations for the defeat of the Soviet power in case of intervention, in a war with the capitalist fascist states” and in this context to “give every assistance to the residential agent who will be sent there, so as to fulfil the requirements of the British Intelligence Service”. Ivanov did as he had been told by Bukharin and discovered that “the directions received from the British Intelligence Service fully coincided with the directions I received from the Right centre”[105].


According to Ivanov Bukharin had said about the interests of England in North


Caucasus that “He said that the Right centre had an agreement with that country about helping the Rights to overthrow the Soviet power and abort helping the Rights to maintain the power seized”. In this agreement they had “provided for securing the interests of British timber firms with timber of the Northern Territory”. According to Ivanov Bukharin had said “the sawmills should be handed over as a concession to the British, while the new sawmills that had been built under the Soviet power would have to be surrendered in payment of the tsarist debts”. And further that Bukharin ever since 1934 “suggested that we must already begin to make real payments in real values. He said that we must give advances to the British bourgeoisie so as, on the one hand, not to lose support, and, on the other, not to forfeit confidence”. In accordance with these instructions by Bukharin “the following measures were carried out through Rosengoltz and Lobov. The most valuable timber was sold at reduced prices. This involved a loss to Soviet state of several million rubles in foreign currency”[106].


Terror in North Caucasus


Ivanov also told at court that he had got the task by Bukharin to set up a terrorist group in North Caucasus. Following the assassination of Kirov Bukharin had told Ivanov “that isolated terrorist acts could yield no results, that mass terrorist acts must be organised, and only then would we have results. His line was to do away with the leadership of the Party”. If it were not to succeed prior to the impending war with Nazi Germany “we were to do so during a war; and this would cause great dismay, undermine the fighting efficiency of the country and help radically to bring about the defeat of the Soviet power in a war with the imperialists”. Ivanov’s terrorist group was acting from Archangels “so as, to the moment of intervention, to cut off communication between Archangel and the central arteries of our country, and thus make it easier for the British to seize this timber region and most valuable port”[107].


Ivanov’s terrorist group also organised sabotage against the forestry in North Caucasus “aimed at preventing the technical re-equipment of the timber industry, filling it with unreliable elements, wrecking the machinery centres and hampering timber-floating” so that the shortage of wood increased. What is more the group worked “to hindering the technical re-equipment of lumbering, preventing the fulfilment of the plants of capital construction, especially in the cellulose and paper industry, in this way placing the country on a short paper ration and aiming a blow at the cultural revolution, interrupting the supply of exercise books and thus rousing discontent among the masses”[108].


But gradually Ivanov started to doubt the possibilities of winning this struggle, which he related to Bukharin. “I put it to Bukharin that the organisation was falling to pieces … and that here and there the masses themselves were exposing our followers. And I put it to him whether it did not follow from the situation that had developed in the country that we had suffered complete bankruptcy. … The whole organisation was in a state of fear; I would say that the activities of the Right were virtually on the eve of thorough exposure”[109].


Bukharin concerning the interrogation of Ivanov


Ivanov’s confession of his crimes was at the same time a very grave accusation against Bukharin sitting just a few steps from his chair in the hall of the court. The prosecutor Vyshinsky turned to Bukharin during the interrogation of Ivanov and took the opportunity to pose questions to Bukharin to confirm or deny the data provided by Ivanov.


“Vyshinsky: The accused Ivanov testified that you proposed that he should form an organisation of Rights in the North Caucasus with certain definite aims. Do you confirm that too?

Bukharin: He has got the dates mixed up.

Vyshinsky: First of all, do you confirm the fact itself?

Bukharin: I confirm the fact itself that I instructed him to form an organisation.

Vyshinsky: A secret one?

Bukharin: A secret, illegal, counter-revolutionary one. But at that period the acute struggle against the Party and the Soviet government had not taken the forms…

Vyshinsky: I am just now interested in the testimony of the accused Ivanov, which the Court has heard. He says that Bukharin gave me, i.e., Ivanov, instructions to proceed to form a secret organisation of Rights in the North Caucasus. Do you confirm this?

Bukharin: That part I do confirm.

Vyshinsky: Consequently, in 1928 you had adopted the method of illegal, underground activities?

Bukharin: That was a moment of such transition…

Vyshinsky: I am not asking you when it was. Is this a fact, or not a fact?

Bukharin: That I confirm.

Vyshinsky: Did you also tell Ivanov at the time that a centre of the Right organisation was already functioning?

Bukharin: I did.

Vyshinsky: Consisting of whom?

Bukharin: Consisting of three persons: Tomsky, Rykov, and myself, Bukharin.

Vyshinsky: Did you tell him that this centre was preparing for the overthrow of the Soviet power?

Bukharin: I did, but this refers to a later period.

Vyshinsky: To which exactly?

Bukharin: I think it refers roughly to 1932-33.

Vyshinsky: That is, somewhat later. But the fact that you had such a conversation with Ivanov you do confirm?

Bukharin: I do. I do not remember the date, nor the month, but that was the general orientation of the Right centre.

Vyshinsky: And when did you raise the question of insurrectionary bands?

Bukharin: The adoption of violence roughly relates to 1932.

Vyshinsky: Ivanov states that he learnt from you of the existence of a bloc between the Trotskyistes, the Right groups and the nationalist groups. Do you corroborate this?

Bukharin: I do.

Vyshinsky: And did you know about the negotiations which Ivanov and others carried on with capitalist countries?

Bukharin: Yes, this was at a much later period.

Vyshinsky: Hence, Ivanov’s statements about connections with the British Intelligence Service…

Bukharin: I was totally uninformed about the Intelligence Service and about plans.

Vyshinsky: What were you informed about?

Bukharin: I informed Ivanov of the foreign-political orientation of the Right centre, I told him that in the fight against the Soviet power it was permissible to take advantage of a war situation, and a number of other things. In short, as one of the leaders of the Right centre, it was my duty to communicate our line to one of the leaders of the periphery centre. What was this line? Briefly, this line was that in the fight against the Soviet power it is permissible to utilise a war situation and to make certain concessions to capitalist states for the purpose of neutralising them, and sometimes for the purpose of obtaining their assistance.

Vyshinsky: In other words, orientation towards assistance from certain foreign states.

Bukharin: Yes, it can be put that way.

Vyshinsky: In other words, orientation towards the defeat of the U.S.S.R.

Bukharin: In general, summarised, I repeat, yes.”[110]


The interrogation of Bukharin


 Let us now proceed to the interrogation of the three main accused: Bukharin, Rykov and Yagoda. We start by Bukharin, the real ideological leader of the rightist centre which, together with Rykov, decided over the organising in practice. Suspicious history falsifiers have sometimes alleged that the prosecutor Vyshinsky lost in the discussion with Bukharin, that Bukharin had used the court to make a brilliant piece of propaganda for his political standpoints. It is easy to make the audience fall into this trap since extremely few people are familiar with the court proceedings. With the papers in your hands, judge for yourselves. Let us continue quoting the court protocols.


“Vyshinsky: Formulate briefly what exactly it is you plead guilty to.

Bukharin: Firstly, to belonging to the counter-revolutionary “bloc of Rights and Trotskyites.”

Vyshinsky: What aims were pursued by this counter-revolutionary organisation?

Bukharin: The principal aim it pursued although, so to speak, it did not fully realise it, and did not dot all the “i’s” – was essentially the aim of restoring capitalist relations in the U.R.S.S.

Vyshinsky: The overthrow of the Soviet power?

Bukharin: The overthrow of the Soviet power was a means to this end.

Vyshinsky: By means of?

Bukharin – As is known…

Vyshinsky: By means of forcible overthrow?

Bukharin: Yes, by means of the forcible overthrow of this power.

Vyshinsky: With the help of?

Bukharin: With the help of all the difficulties encountered by the Soviet power; in particular, with the help of a war which prognostically was in prospect.

Vyshinsky: Which was prognostically in prospect, with whose help?

Bukharin: With the help of foreign states.

Vyshinsky: On condition?

Bukharin: On condition, to put it concretely, of a number of concessions.

Vyshinsky: To the extent of…

Bukharin: To the extent of the cession of territory.

Vyshinsky: That is?

Bukharin – If all the “i’s” are dotted – on condition of the dismemberment of the U.S.S.R.

Vyshinsky: The severance of whole regions and republics from the U.S.S.R.?

Bukharin: Yes.

Vyshinsky: For example?

Bukharin: The Ukraine, the Maritime Region, Byelorussian.

Vyshinsky: In whose favour?

Bukharin: In favour of the corresponding states, whose geographical and political…

Vyshinsky: Which exactly?

Bukharin: In favour of Germany, in favour of Japan, and partly in favour of England.”[111]


Bukharin told also under the interrogation that in summer 1934 he got to know through Radek “that directions had been received from Trotsky, that Trotsky was conducting negotiations with the Germans, that Trotsky had already promised the Germans a number of territorial concession, including the Ukraine.”[112]


The assassination of Kirov


Further on in the public interrogation the prosecutor Vyshinsky proceeds to the question of attempts against leading members of the party.


“Vyshinsky: Did the bloc stand for the organisation of terrorist acts, the assassination of leaders of the Party and the Soviet government?

Bukharin: It did, and I think that the organisation of this must be dated back roughly to 1932, the autumn.

Vyshinsky: And what was your relation to the assassination of Sergei Mironovich Kirov? Was the assassination also committed with the knowledge and on the instructions of the “bloc of Rights and Trotskyites”?

Bukharin: That I did not know.

Vyshinsky: I ask you, was this assassination committed with the knowledge and on the instructions of the “bloc of Rights and Trotskyites”?

Bukharin: And I repeat that I do not know, Citizen Procurator.

Vyshinsky: You did not know about this specifically in relation to the assassination of S. M. Kirov?

Bukharin: Not specifically, but…

Vyshinsky: Permit me to question the accused Rykov.

The President: You may.

Vyshinsky: Accused Rykov, what do you know about the assassination of Sergei Mironovich Kirov?

Rykov: I know nothing about the participation of the Rights or the Right part of the bloc in the assassination of Kirov.

Vyshinsky: Were you connected with Yenukidze?

Rykov: With Yenukidze? Very little.

Vyshinsky: Was he a member of the “bloc of Rights and Trotskyites”?

Rykov: He was, since 1933.

Vyshinsky: Which part did he represent in this bloc, the Trotskyites or the Rights? To which did he gravitate?

Rykov: He must have represented the Right part.

Vyshinsky: Very well; please be seated. Permit me to question the accused Yagoda. Accused Yagoda, do you that Yenukidze, of whom the accused Rykov just spoke, represented the Right part of the bloc and that he had direct relation to the organisation of the assassination of Sergei Mironovich Kirov?

Yagoda: Both Rykov and Bukharin are telling lies. Rykov and Yenukidze were present at the meeting of the centre where the question of assassinating S. M. Kirov was discussed.

Vyshinsky: Did the Rights have any relation to this?

Yagoda: Direct relation, because it was a bloc of Rights and Trotskyites.

Vyshinsky: Did the accused Rykov and Bukharin in particular have any relation to the assassination?

Yagoda: Direct relation.

Vyshinsky: Did you, as a member of the “bloc of Rights and Trotskyites,” have any relation to this assassination?

Yagoda: I did.

Vyshinsky: Are Bukharin and Rykov telling the truth when they say that they knew nothing about it?

Yagoda: That cannot be so, because when Yenukidze told me that they, that is, the “bloc of Rights and Trotskyites,” had decided at a joint meeting to commit a terrorist act against Kirov, I categorically objected.”[113]


Embittered counter revolutionaries


The revelation by Yagoda of Bukharin and Rykov as partners in the murder of Kirov in December 1934 was met by complete silence from Bukharin and Rykov. They knew that the former head of the Security police, Yagoda, had knowledge of all details around the assassination of Kirov and did not want to continue a discussion, which would demonstrate how deeply involved they were. Vyshinsky then passes on to the question why the bloc of the Rights and Trotskyites were carrying out this criminal battle against the Soviet power.


“Bukharin: … I am an accuse person who must bear responsibility as a criminal, facing the Court of the proletarian country. … The Court and the public opinion of our country, like the public opinion of other countries, as far as progressive mankind is concerned, can judge how people sank to such depths, how we all became rabid counter-revolutionaries, traitors to the Socialist fatherland, and how we turn into spies, terrorists and restorers of capitalism, and what, in the end, were the ideas and political standpoint of the “bloc of Rights and Trotskyites.” We embarked on treachery, crime and treason. But for the sake of what did we embark on this? We turned into an insurrectionary band, we organised terrorist groups, engaged in wrecking activities, wanted to overthrow the valiant leadership of Stalin, the Soviet government of the proletariat.

Vyshinsky: Tell me, accused Bukharin, how all this took shape in practice in your anti-Soviet activities.

Bukharin: If my program stand were to be formulated practically, it would be, in the economic sphere, state capitalism, the prosperous muzhik individual, the curtailment of the collective farms, foreign concessions, surrender of the monopoly of foreign trade, and, as a result – the restoration of capitalism in the country.

Vyshinsky: What did your aims amount to? What general prognosis did you make?

Bukharin: The prognosis that there would be a heavy list toward capitalism.

Vyshinsky: And what transpired?

Bukharin: What transpired was quite different.

Vyshinsky: What transpired was the complete victory of Socialism.

Bukharin: The complete victory of Socialism.

Vyshinsky: And the complete collapse of your prognosis.

Bukharin: And the complete collapse of our prognosis.”[114]


The conspiracy against Lenin, Stalin and Sverdlov 1918


During the interrogation of Bukharin new accusations against him came up, which, as the prosecutor Vyshinsky said, asked for the guilty, not before the court that must considered the prescription time, but the court of history that have no prescription time and no pardon. This case concerned the events of 1918 around the peace treaty with Germany in Brest, at the end of the First World War. The prosecutor Vyshinsky brought up these events during the interrogation and asked Bukharin whether he was in favour of having Lenin arrested. After some hesitation Bukharin answered that “The first time it was proposed to keep him under restraint for twenty-four hours.” Vyshinsky went on with the interrogation:


“ Vyshinsky: And I ask you, did you have a plan for the arrest of Comrade Stalin in 1918?

Bukharin: Not of Stalin, but there was a plan for the arrest of Lenin, Stalin and Sverdlov.

Vyshinsky: And what about the assassination of Comrades Stalin, Lenin and Sverdlov?

Bukharin: Under no circumstances.”[115]


Then the prosecutor Vyshinsky asked the court to call the witnesses Yakovleva, Ossinsky and Mantsev, three former active members of Bukharin’s fraction from that time (1918) the so called leftist Communists as well as Karelin and Kamkov, two former members of the Central Committee of the “leftist”-Social revolutionaries. According to the prosecutor Vyshinsky the 1918 conspiracy had been staged by Bukharin’s “leftist Communists”, the “leftist”-Social revolutionaries and Trotsky’s group to hinder the peace agreement of Brest. Trotsky who was in charge of the negotiations with the Germans refused to sign the peace agreement and proclaimed the theory of  “neither war nor peace, a holy war against the bourgeoisie of the whole world”. This in an epoch after a lengthy and horrible First World War, when a continuation of the war did not have a chance of success, not the least since the Tsarist army was crushed and there was no Red army.


Prepared a coup d’etat


The refusal of Trotsky to sign the peace treaty resulted in the German’s continued advance into Russia almost unhindered. Lenin managed after a debate in the Central Committee to isolate Trotsky and Bukharin and convinced the Central Committee to approve the peace treaty. But the opposition did not want to accept this decision or Lenin’s policy but prepared a coup d’etat instead. The Central Committee knew that something was in the making to contravene Lenin’s proposal but did not at the time find a space to follow up on the intrigues of the opposition.


All the witnesses told at court that a conspiracy by Bukharin’s and Trotsky’s groups together with the leftist Social revolutionaries had prepared the arrest of Lenin, Stalin and Sverdlov as well as a transformation of the government. Moreover these groups had agreed to “And if the struggle were to become more acute, we must not shrink even from their physical extermination.”[116], as formulated by the witness Yakovleva. Heading the conspiracy and being one of its main organisers and instigators was Bukharin. Bukharin admitted this at court but declared that there had been no decision taken on what was to be done with those arrested. We render the exchange of words between Vyshinsky and Bukharin after Vyshinsky had put the question of whom the conspirators were going to arrest in 1918.


Who was to be arrested?


“Bukharin: Lenin, Stalin and Sverdlov.

Vyshinsky: Also for 24 hours?

Bukharin: This formula was not employed then.

Vyshinsky: And how were they to be arrested? And what for?

Bukharin: In order to form a new government.

Vyshinsky: And what was to be done with the arrested?

Bukharin: There was no talk of physical extermination.

Vyshinsky: But it was not precluded?

Bukharin: On the contrary, we all thought that the safety of these persons must be guarded at all costs.

Vyshinsky: When a government is overthrown and arrested, are not forcible methods resorted to?

Bukharin: Yes.

Vyshinsky: Did you envisage adoption forcible methods when making the arrest? Is this true or not?

Bukharin: It is.

Vyshinsky: But what do forcible methods involve? Did you determine that precisely?

Bukharin: No, we did not.

Vyshinsky: And so you decided to act as circumstances permitted and dictated?

Bukharin: Just so.

Vyshinsky: But circumstances might dictate very decisive action?

Bukharin: Yes, but the fact is that neither did the “Left Communists” hold a fatalistic standpoint, but reckoned with the circumstances. This did not mean that circumstances dictated anything and everything.

Vyshinsky: Let us for the present establish what is undisputed. Before the Brest-Litovsk Peace there was talk about the arrest of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin; after the Brest-Litovsk Peace there were negotiations about the arrest of Lenin, Stalin and Sverdlov and the forcible overthrow of the government. Is that correct?

Bukharin: It is correct on the whole.

Vyshinsky: Moreover, when the forcible overthrow of the Soviet power and the arrest of Comrades Lenin, Stalin and Sverdlov were spoken of, forcible methods were actually spoken of, but which exactly were not mentioned?

Bukharin: That is so. All that was said was that their safety must be guaranteed at all costs.

Vyshinsky: Witness Yakovleva, what do you say to this? Is Bukharin speaking the truth?

Yakovleva: I was present during his negotiations with the “Left” Socialist-Revolutionaries.

Vyshinsky: What did he tell you?

Yakovleva: He told me that such a possibility was not precluded.

Vyshinsky: What possibility?

Yakovleva: That the possibility of physical extermination, that is, assassination, was not precluded.”[117]


The witness Jakovleva, one of Bukharin’s closes comrades 1918 was quite positive as to the course of events and what the discussion was about.


The interrogation of Rykov


In the very centre of the rightist organisation consisting of Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky, Rykov was the foremost organiser of the practical activities. Rykov set of his underground conspiracy against the Soviet government 1928. He recruited highly positioned party functionaries like Yagoda, Antipov, Rasumov and Rumiantsev to the counter revolutionary organisation, but they did not overtly declare themselves as adherents to the party right. Rykov disclosed at court how he and his best friend Bukharin (sitting next to him) were active in organising the Kulak uprisings in Caucasus and Siberia, where they sent the saboteurs of the rightist organisation. Bukharin was compelled to admit all these events at court. Both Rykov and Bukharin confessed that from 1932 their counter revolutionary work had changed into high treason. According to Rykov “ Terrorist moods began to develop as far back as 1930, as far as I know” and “Approximately in 1932 our positive attitude toward the application of terrorism took shape as a method of struggle for power and found practical expression.”[118] And Rykov continues:


In alliance with the socialist revolutionaries


“Rykov: As soon as the line was adopted, corresponding organisational an practical conclusions were drawn from it at once; that is to say, a number of terrorist groups were formed. I myself gave a number or terrorist  instructions to a number of persons, apart from those who stood close to me, like Nesterov and Radin. I conveyed these instructions also to the nationalist organisation; I discussed the question of terrorism with the members of the Pan-Tyurkic and Byelorussian nationalist organisations, and soon the terrorist line and the corresponding conclusions drawn from it were widely adopted. In addition to these discussions on this question I had others. Nesterov later reported that on my instructions an organisation had been formed in Sverdlovsk, in the Urals.

Later on, in 1935, I had a talk about terrorism with Kotov, I had a talk about terrorist with Kotov, a leading member of the Moscow Right organisation. Approximately in 1934, I instructed my former secretary Artemenko to watch for passing government automobiles.

Other members of our counter-revolutionary organisation adopted similar measures. But we never passed any definite decision that such-and-such a member of the government is to be killed. The centre of the Right organisation never adopted such a decision; but its work consisted of preparing such an attitude towards terrorism and such a state of terrorist cadres as would enable such a decision to be carried out whenever the centre adopted one.

In this period also terrorist connections were established with the Socialist-Revolutionary Semyonov through Bukharin. I did not know Semyonov personally. Bukharin told me that through Semyonov he was preparing for an attempt on the life of Stalin.”[119]


The prosecutor Vysijinskij wants this last allegation confirmed by Bukharin.

“Vyshinsky: And so, in 1932 you and Semyonov talked about this, that an attempt should be organised on the lives of Comrade Stalin and Comrade Kaganovich.

Bukharin: I did not say that it should; I am saying what happened.

Vyshinsky: I say that in 1932 you had a talk on this, that an attempt was being prepared on the lives of Comrades Stalin and Kaganovich.

Bukharin: If you formulate it like that, it gives it an absolutely concrete character.

Vyshinsky: Very concrete.

Bukharin: At that time we talked about terrorist acts against the leading men of the Party.

Vyshinsky: Was it a theoretical talk?

Bukharin: No. Organising groups is not a theoretical talk.

Vyshinsky: What did you talk about?

Bukharin: We talked about terrorist plans on the organisation of preparation to carry out this plan against members of the Political Bureau.

Vyshinsky: Including whom?

Bukharin: Including Stalin and Kaganovich.

Vyshinsky: That, then, is concrete.

Bukharin: Quite concrete. I wanted to decipher and say exactly what actually happened.

Vyshinsky: I ask the Court to permit me to read the testimony given by the accused Bukharin during the preliminary investigation.

The President: You may.

Vyshinsky: Pages 105-6; when the Procurator of the Union interrogates you on December 1, you, accused Bukharin, testified as follows: “I want to state the truth and I declare that I reported this proposal” (this is preceded by the reference to Semyonov’s proposal) “to a conference of the centre and we decided to instruct Semyonov to organise terrorist groups.”

Bukharin: Yes.

Vyshinsky: This is right?

Bukharin: Right.

Vyshinsky: This precisely refers to 1932.

Bukharin: Quite true.

Vyshinsky: Thus, in 1932, you on the decision of the centre of the Right organisation instructed Semyonov to organise a terrorist group. Is that so, or not?

Bukharin: It is so.

Vyshinsky: Why did you instruct him to organise a terrorist group?

Bukharin: In order to commit terrorist acts.

Vyshinsky: Against whom?

Bukharin: Against members of the Political Bureau.

Vyshinsky: Including whom?

Bukharin: Including Stalin.”[120]


During the interrogation Rykov also entered the question about collaboration with the Nazis.

“Rykov: Those who persist in their counter-revolutionary struggle resort to the measures, methods and allies that we resorted to in the period after1933. This refers to the “center’s” connections with the German fascists. Naturally, we, and I personally, tried to tone down our testimony on this question because this is a very bad thing. We depicted the situation so as to make it appear that we had not discussed these connections in the centre beforehand. Actually the situation was that Tomsky had taken the initiative. Bukharin and I heard about it afterwards. But all these are formal points, because all of us, I and Bukharin, never hesitated for a moment in deciding that Tomsky was right, and had he asked us, we would have said it was the proper thing to do.”[121]


The contact centre


Another very important question raised by the prosecutor Vyshinsky with Rykov was, who they were who made up the bloc of the joint conspiracy, the so called contact centre.

“ Vyshinsky: This bloc, you said, included the Rights. Who else was included in this bloc?

Rykov: The Rights, the Trotskyites and the Zinovievites.”


“ Vyshinsky: Accused Krestinsky, do you know that the Trotskyites belonged to the “bloc of Rights and Trotskyites” of which we are speaking here?

Krestinsky: I learnt from Pyatakov, when he spoke to me about this in February 1935, that an organisation had been formed, which united the Rights, Trotskyites and military men, and which set itself the aim of preparing for a military coup. I also knew that the leading centre included Rykov, Bukharin, Rudzutak and Yagoda from the Rights, Tukhachevsky and Gamarnik from the military, and Pyatakov from the Trotskyites.

Vyshinsky: Were you personally a member of this centre?

Krestinsky: In 1937, after a number of arrests, this centre comprised Rosengoltz and myself from the Trotskyites, Rudzutak and Yagoda from the Rights, and Tukhachevsky and Gamarnik from the military group.”[122]


In alliance with Tukhachevskii


During the ensuing interrogation Rykov confirmed the alliance with the military and also told of  Tukhachevskii’s military group which “which aimed at taking advantage of a war to overthrow the government”. It was “the idea of opening the front” for Germany and to make use of the defeat to take over state power. Rykov also told of plans which were discussed in the centre to permit the severing of Byelorussian, which was to be subjected a Polish protectorate.


The prosecutor Vyshinsky turned to Bukharin and put the question of which military were supposed to open the front. Bukharin replied that they were “Tukhachevsky, and Kork, if I am not mistaken; then the Trotskyites”. On a question by Vyshinsky Krestinsky explained that he had learned from Tukhachevskii that he was leaning on “among others, Yakir, Uborevich, Kork and Eidemann”[123]. During the interrogation with Rykov the chairman of the court Ulrich intervened to put the question about the existence of provocateurs in the Communist organisations. Rykov confirmed that it was true the rightist organisation in Byelorussian in collaboration with the Polish Generalstaff had smuggled in provocateurs in foreign Communist organisations.


With every interrogation during the trial one gets an ever more distinct picture of the treason being organised by the right. Consider that all these traitors had in their time been leading personalities of the Soviet society. They did not accept a political defeat but rather converted to fight Socialism on the side of the counter-revolution. Rykov himself had once been the Chairman of the Council of the People’s Commissaries, i.e. the prime-minister of the Soviet Union.


Yagoda and the murder of Maxim Gorky


The interrogation of Yagoda, former head of the security police OGPU, revealed horrible crimes. Yagoda entered Bukharin’s and Rykov’s secret right organisations 1928 via Rykov, with whom Yagoda had friendly relations. At that time Yagoda was deputy head of the secret police OGPU (later NKVD) and for that reason had exceptional possibilities to protect the right organisation from being detected or arrested and even possibilities to install people from the right organisation at leading posts. Yagoda made extensive use of these possibilities. Through his own post, as he was the head of the guard of Kremlin as well as troop detachments under his command, Yagoda became the key person of the coup d’etat being planned.


Like the others of the right organisation Yagoda confessed that he had planned and carried out sabotage, espionage and attempts to topple the Soviet power and reinstate Capitalism. Yagoda also confessed that he had stolen big amounts of money, which he had put at the disposal of Trotsky and that he was a co-culprit in the preparations for the murder of Kirov. What makes the case of Yagoda different from that of all the others is the type of attempts and murders carried out under his command. Yagoda made use of his power in order to compel a number of doctors and other people to carry out criminal acts and to murder Maxim Gorky, his son Maxim Peshkov, the politburo member Kuibyshev and his own chief, the OGPU chairman Menzhinsky. The doctors who carried out the assassination were Levin, Gorky’s personal physician; Pletnev, the medical adviser to Levin; Kazakov, personal physician of Menzhinsky; and Vinogradov another assistant to Levin, who had died for natural causes at the beginning of the process. The others who were involved in these assassinations were Yagoda’s secretary Bulanov, Gorky’s secretary Kryuchkov, and Kuibyshev’s secretary Maximov.


Trotsky versus Gorky


Originally the threat against Gorky came from Trotsky. Gorky dissociated himself strongly from Trotsky, whom he classified a political adventurer. Trotsky had no possibility to win Gorky’s sympathy for the struggle against the Soviet government. Gorky strongly supported the socialist construction and had friendly relationships with Stalin. Nobody had been able to change this situation even if several traitors had been in contact with Gorky and tried to win his sympathies. Zinoviev had done so as well as Kamenev and Tomsky too. Gorky was a threat to the counter-revolution. He had very good contacts among the intellectuals in many countries of Europe and in the event of a coup d’etat he would have used his authority and condemned the counter revolutionaries. For that reason, the right and the Trotskyites centre decided to kill Gorky. It was a demand of Trotsky.


Kryuchkov, Gorky’s secretary told at court that he had got the assignment by Yagoda to kill Gorky’s son Maxim Peshkov to break Gorky down and to turn him into a harmless old man. Yagoda tempted with the opportunity for Kryuchkov to become Gorky’s heir. That was the first step. Kryuchkov enticed Peshkov to a constant drinking of wines, which he got from Yagoda. A weakened organism gradually gave way to disease. This made it possible for the doctors Levin and Vinogradov to examine Peshkov and prescribe medicines, which aggravated his disease, finally causing his death in May 1934. Gorky was shattered but continued actively to defend the revolution and Socialism. Kryuchkov’s next task was to see to undermine Gorky’s health so that the doctors had reason to prescribe medicines for Gorky.


Maxim Gorky had chronic tuberculosis since his youth. The next instruction from Yagoda to Kryuchkov was to see to it that Gorky got a cold. After having failed several times, a possibility presented itself to make Gorky ill. As instructed by Yagoda, Kryuchkov got Gorky to return to his home in a rainy and cold Moscow from his vacation on Crimea in Tesseli to Peshkov’s widow and Gorky’s grandson. This grandson had a bad cold and Gorky, who liked him very much was soon infected. Gorky got ill 31st May 1936. At last the doctors Levin and Pletnev got a chance to act. An erroneous treatment of Gorky turned his disease into pneumonia. The doctors gave remorseful testimonies at court on the treatment to which they had submitted Gorky. It was successful a few weeks after his falling ill. Gorky died 18th June 1936.


More assassinations


Maxim Gorky and his son Maxim Peshkov were not the only victims of Yagoda’s, Bukharin’s and Rykov’s conspiracies with the help of the doctors. The politburo member Kuibyshev and the OGPU chairman Menzhinsky fell in this conspiracy. Through Yagoda, the right centre wanted to kill as many leading personalities of the Central Committee as possible to create disorder and a lack of cadres. In the case of Menzhinsky it was of importance that his death would lead to the promotion of Yagoda to head the OGPU. Menzhinsky who had a cardiac condition died from the medicine, which had a detrimental effect on the cardiac activity. He died the day preceding the death of Gorky’s son Peshkov 10th May 1934. This therapy was organised by the doctors Levin and Kazakov.


The assassination of the polite bureau member Kuibyshev was organised by the doctors Levin and Pletnev and the secretary of Kuibyshev, Maximov. Kuibyshev’s heart disease was ignored on purpose. The doctors gave him the wrong medicines. Maximov was given the task to “in the event of acute illness, attacks of any kind, not to hurry in calling in the doctor, and if it is necessary, to call in only those doctors who are treating him”[124] the doctors Levin and Pletnev. An ordinary working day when Kuibyshev was at his office he felt ill and was very pale. Maximov understood that the opportunity had come. He refrained from calling a doctor and Kuibyshev had to walk all the way home and mount three flights of stairs. As a consequence he died of a heart attack shortly after his arrival at home. The polite bureau member Kuibyshev was among the most important people behind the first and second five- year plans. Together with Molotov he was one of the speakers at the 17th party congress of the CPSU(b) in 1932 which summed up the first five year plan and made a proposal for the second.

Bukharin-Rykov’s treason trial, a summary


All the accused in the treason trial of Bukharin-Rykov confessed their criminal acts in front of the court and told how everything had been agreed upon and carried out. There are thousands and thousands of facts revealed at the trial where the 21 accused were at total liberty to plead their cases and even deny their guilt. It happened that new data were presented about the course of events and that one or other of the accused felt he had been misled by the main personalities of the conspiracy and rose to declare this. During the speech for the defence by Bukharin towards the end of the trial one or other by the accused felt he had been misled by the leaders of the conspiracy and rose to declare this. During the Bukharin’s speech of defence, towards the end of  the trial, when Bukharin denied that he “was one of the major organisers of espionage, on a par with Rykov”. Bukharin was interrupted and accused by Sharangovich with the words, “Stop lying, for once in your life at least. You are lying even now in Court.”[125]


An exemplary prosecutor


The prosecutor Vyshinsky, the top state prosecutor of the Soviet Union, has been subjected a defamation campaign by the bourgeois press, which knows of no restraint when it comes to mendacious allegations. All the falsifiers of history from the police agent Conquest to their Swedish similarities, have told lots of fantasies about Vyshinsky’s role and behaviour during the trial. But reality was something completely different. It is easy find this out when reading the minutes of the court. The prosecutor Vyshinsky presented strong evidence, which hardly left any other possibility for the accused than to tell the truth. This is what makes the falsifiers of history completely mad. He had a thorough knowledge of the case and did not leave anything out. He made it impossible for the accused to refrain from tell what they had been involved in and to reveal all the details. During the whole trial the prosecutor Vyshinsky kept a correct attitude towards the accused. Vyshinsky carried out his task as a prosecutor in an exemplary way and drew the right conclusions from the accounts of the accused. He concluded his plea with the famous statement, which has been falsified so often by the bourgeois press: “Our whole country, from young to old, is awaiting and demanding one thing: the traitors and spies who were selling our country to the enemy must be shot like dirty dogs!”[126]


The court condemned 18 of the accused to the hardest punishment of the law – execution and confiscation of all personal belongings (Bukharin, Rykov, Yagoda, Krestinsky, Rosengoltz, Ivanov, Chernov, Grinko, Zelensky, Ikramov, Khodjayev, Maximov-Dikovsky and Kryuchkov). The three remaining were sentenced to prison and the loss of their rights as citizens during five years after the expiry of the imprisonment as well as the confiscation of all their personal properties. (Pletnev 25 years, Rakovsky 20 years and Bessonov 15 years).


Russian quislings are the heroes of the capitalists


After having read the minutes of the trial it is easy to understand that this was the only correct end of this trial against traitors, spies and murderers. Some authors oppose the death penalty, against the fact that 18 were condemned to death. Today the death penalty is obsolete in human society. But over 60 years ago, the death penalty was the usual punishment applied to high treason in the whole world. But the death penalty in this context is not the true question raised by the history falsifiers but only an excuse to get present day people to condemn the trials of the 1930-ies. The question raised in reality by the critics against the Soviet Union is that the trial was a farce, that the aim of the trial was to kill off the opposition against the government, an opposition which, according to the critics, was a group of thinkers, philosophers, poets, world reformers etc.


That is how the Swedish writers Ahlmark, Skotte and Englund write in their books and magazines. But the heroes of these history falsifiers are a group of criminals of the worst kind who entered an alliance with Nazi Germany and the Fascist Japan to get at state power in Soviet Union. They are Nazi and Fascist allies whom Ahlmark, Skotte and Englund have made their heroes and want to put as examples to the children at the Swedish schools. They are murderers who killed Maxim Gorky and Kirov, people of the same calibre as those who killed Olof Palme. They are people who sabotaged the provision of paper to the country to stop the cultural-revolution and make it impossible to provide writing books to the school children of the countries. They are saboteurs who blew up factories, mines and trains and without hesitation murdered thousands of workers, such as put nails and glass in the butter which lacerated the throat and stomach of people, such as spread cattle pest killing horses and cattle in their tens of thousands. They are the Russian Quislings and Nazi collaborators who are the idols of the Capitalist mass media and the heroes of the Swedish right.


The Swedish Moscow embassy about the Bukharin-Rykov process


The benevolent and admiring attitude of today’s bourgeois towards the condemned in Moscow in March 1938 has nothing in common with the reports by the Swedish Moscow embassy to the Swedish Department of foreign affairs at that time. And then we should not forget that the Swedish Department of foreign affairs and the embassies have always been populated by rightists, people from the upper crust of the Swedish bourgeoisie. People from the embassy informed the Swedish Department of foreign affairs by mail that those found guilty were indeed involved in a conspiracy to topple the Soviet government and take over state power.


“Légation de Suede

What has been shown by the latest Trotsky process.

Moscow 30th March 1938


To His Excellency the Minister for foreign affairs

To which extent the accused in the recently finished process against the “right and Trotsky bloc” have been guilty to that of what they have been accused has never been fully investigated. If truth has difficulties in being heard in the world then that applies especially to Russia, where objectivity has always been a rare bird and in case it appeared at all, it has been trampled under the feet. During the factual discussion still going on in the foreign circles present here, it seems an opinion has crystallised in a certain direction. After having taken part of the accusations against the twenty one revolutionary veterans many have had to admit that the accusations, in spite of improbabilities and material inconsistencies in a number of aspects, still contain a significant kernel of truth to the extent that those now condemned are determined to eliminate the click in charge and that those now condemned are spirited by a strong will to eliminate the click in power at the first occasion, and that they have taken preliminary steps to realise their aims.”[127]


Also, of the general atmosphere in the Soviet society after the Moscow trials, which was described and is described as chaos with millions people purged and sentenced to dead, the Embassy has given a different picture.


“Legation de Suède

About the terrorist purge.

Moscow 14 July 1938


His Excellency

Mr Sandler, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  

There may be a relationship with the high Summer temperature that sensational stories from the Soviet Union addressing terrorism, of course, at this time starting to spread in the foreign press. Doubtless there is now, as there has always been during the last twenty years, more than enough for exceptional stories from this country, but it is certain that these stories would get another appearance if they were rendered realistically rather than ornamented by an alien, tendentious imagination. As for the reports by the foreign press from here, one must say that to a little, genuine kernel, a strong dose of journalist sensation is given, and the main ingredients are probably in most cases misunderstandings and an active imagination, coupled with a strong political tendency from those who are biased against the Soviet land.”[128]


Having gone through some “clarifying examples” and told of “unsuitable” persons and persons with “a mediocre capacity” or such who “are not up to the mark” or the corrupt people’s commissary who ”has been transferred from the commissariat to jail” the ambassador continues to the cause of the purges. According to the raporteur the opponents of the regime are given leave (“in reality relatively few in number”), but to a greater extent they are thrown out those who have distinguished themselves for abuse of power, disorder and incompetence and shown themselves to be substandard and damaging. The Soviet government aspired to a rejuvenation of the administration with people from the working classes which was in fact done and the Swedish embassy report confirms that “what is happening here in reality cannot and should not be regarded as signs of dissolution and degeneration but on the contrary signs of a Socialist consolidation”. We may add, that this was very important. The war was already coming with the invasion of Austria and soon the Nazis were to invade the Soviet Union. In this situation the government had to be able to rely on the civilian, military and economic administrations. The ambassador’s report continues,


“But the important aspect of the, if one may say so, epidemic terror in the Soviet country, lies, as we have had reason to remind repeatedly, not in these single falls from high positions, which for an exterior observer naturally may offer a more shattering spectacle but in reality relatively few in number and representative mainly for the smallest group in society which is concerned by the terror. The importance lies in the ever since 1935 with varying force on-going mass purges through all branches of the administration, civilian, military, economic etc. and all strata of society. This procedure of purge which has not precedent is meant to eliminate the opponents of the present government, to which group belong the people in the highest positions and for that reason have had the deepest fall, and to purge as far as possible who either through corruption and abuse of power or incompetence have shown themselves to be substandard and damaging. This violent procedure is driven by a conscious effort to on the one hand social renovation and on the other a rejuvenation of the whole administration, an effort to introduce personnel taken from those social groups which have essentially carried the revolution and nowadays have reasonable demands on enjoying the fruits of the new order. This means first and foremost the endeavour to select the ones, so to say, who have been brought up and educated in unmixed Soviet circumstances, the young age groups from the ranks of workers and peasants, who nowadays through the numerous high schools of different kinds, howsoever they may be otherwise, are thrown out into life and demand a place in the sun and the right to act … This should, in my opinion, be of importance even for practical reasons to note and even to remember, since this shows that what is happening here at present in reality cannot and should not be considered signs of dissolution and degeneration but on the contrary should be considered a socio-political consolidation, albeit from our points of view highly strange. And they are strange for the natural reason that the conditions prevailing in this country –historical, ethnographic, geographic etc.— are certainly strange.”[129]

Ambassador Joseph Davies about the Bukharin-Rykov process


A person who was present in the court-room all days during the trial was the US ambassador at the time Joseph Davies. On behalf of his government he had to acquire a thorough knowledge of the whole process and report on about the circumstances around the accused and the credibility of the trial. We cite Joseph Davies from his book Mission to Moscow. The first quotation is from Davie’s letter of 8th March 1938 to his daughter Emlen who was then in the USA but who had earlier lived with her family in Moscow.


“Bukharin treason trial

Mach 8, 1938


Dear “Bijou”:

For the last week, I have been attending daily sessions of the Bukharin treason trial. No doubt you have been following it in the press. It is terrific. I found it of much intellectual interest, because it brings back into play all the old faculties involved in assessing the credibility of witnesses and sifting the wheat from the chaff-the truth from the false-which I was called upon to use for so many years in the trial of cases, myself.

All the fundamental weaknesses and vices of human nature-personal ambitions at their worst-are shown up in the proceedings. They disclose the outlines of a plot which come very near to being successful in bringing about the overthrow of this government.

This testimony now makes clear what we could not understand and what happened last spring and summer. You will recall that the folks at the chancery were telling us of extraordinary activity around the Kremlin, when the gates were closed to public; that there were indications of much agitation and a changing of the character of the soldiers on guard. The new guards, you will remember we were told, consisted almost entirely of soldiers recruited from Georgia, Stalin’s native land.

The extraordinary testimony of Krestinsky, Bukharin, and the rest would appear to indicate that the Kremlin’s fears were well justified. For it now seems that a plot existed in the beginning of November, 1936, to project a coup d’état, with Tukhachevsky at its head, for May of the following year. Apparently it was touch and go at that time whether it actually would be staged.

But the government acted with great vigor and speed. The Red Army generals were shot and the whole party organisation was purged and thoroughly cleansed. Then it came out that quite a few of those at the top were seriously infected with the virus of the conspiracy to overthrow the government, and actually working with the Secret Service organisations of Germany and Japan.

The situation explains the present official attitude of hostility toward foreigners, the closing of various foreign consulates in the country, and the like. Quite frankly, we can’t blame the powers-that-be much for reacting in this way if they believed what is now being divulged at the trial.

Again, it should be remembered that it cannot be conclusively assumed because these facts were adduced through statements of confessed criminals that they were therefore untrue.

I must stop now as the trial reconvenes at 11 A.M. and I’ll have to run.”[130]


Letter to the US secretary of state for foreign affairs


This is how a senior lawyer from the West writes about the Bukharin trial. Let us now quote ambassador Davies’ confidential dispatch no. 1039 of 17th March 1938 to his superior the US secretary or state for foreign affairs.


“So-called Bukharin mass treason trial

No. 1039

Moscow, March 17, 1938

To the honorable the secretary of state



“Notwithstanding a prejudice arising from the confession evidence and a prejudice against a judicial system which affords practically no protection for the accused, after daily observation of the witnesses, their manner of testifying, the unconscious corroborations which developed, and other facts in the course of trial, together with others of which a judicial notice could be taken, it is my opinion so far as the political defendants are concerned sufficient crimes under Soviet law, among those charged in the indictment, were established by the proof and beyond a reasonable doubt to justify the verdict of guilty of treason and the adjudication of the punishment provided by Soviet criminal statutes. The opinion of those diplomats who attended the trial most regularly was general that the case had established the fact that there was a formidable political opposition and an exceedingly serious plot, which explained to the diplomats many of the hitherto unexplained developments of the last six months in the Soviet Union. The only difference of opinion that seemed to exist was the degree to which the plot had been implemented by different defendants and the degree to which the conspiracy had become centralised.”[131]


The Nazis occupy Europe


Ambassador Joseph Davies understood the size of the crimes of the accused, the consequences of which could have been awfully dramatic. The Nazis were in fact marching in Europe and in the midst of the judicial proceedings 11th March 1938 Nazi Germany occupied Austria. Soon Czechoslovakia would follow, then Poland and then the whole of Europe. And in the Soviet Union which Nazi Germany had promised to the capitalist world to crush, the very principal aim of the Nazis, there was a group of highly positioned politicians who collaborated with the Nazis in order to kill the government in power and to partition the country and divide it between themselves and Nazi Germany!


The government of the Soviet Union and Stalin’s correct actions stopped a looming catastrophe for the Socialist Soviet Union and for the Slavish people. Hitler’s threat to annihilate the Slavish people was no mere boasting. Consider that during more than three years war and the occupation of Ukraine, Byelorussian and other areas of Western Soviet Union the Nazi armies killed more than 25 million people. The purging of the traitors was a question of life and death for the Soviet Union and decisive for the victory of the country in World war II.


The projection of it was decisive for the extermination of Nazism and the possibility of the world to enjoy the liberty and democracy we have today. Had the Nazis conquered The Soviet Union, they could have taken the whole world. But not only we Communists realise this and declare it openly. Honest bourgeois too, in this case, put themselves on the same side of the barricades as we ourselves.


The treason trials crushed Hitler’s fifth columnists in Russia


Let us once more render a quotation from ambassador Joseph Davie’s book Mission to Moscow. He treats the activities of the fifth columnists in Soviet Union. The fifth columnists is the name given to traitors serving an exterior enemy. The term emanates from the attacks of the Fascists against Madrid during the Spanish civil war. The Fascists advanced in four columns and proclaimed that they had a fifth one, which would attack the defenders in their back. Let us hear what ambassador Davies had to say about the “fifth columnists” in the Soviet Union. Note that this chapter of Mission to Moscow was written during the Summer of 1941 but is inserted in the book right after the confidential despatch to the US state secretary for defence 17th March 1938.



Ambassador Joseph Davies:

“Fifth Columnists in Russia.

A study in hindsight – 1941


Note: Although this was written after the German invasion of Russia in the summer 1941 it is inserted here because this seems the logical place to illustrate how the treason trials destroyed Hitler’s Fifth Column in Russia.-J.E.D.


Passing through Chicago, on my way home from the June commencement of my old University, I was asked to talk to the University Club and combined Wisconsin societies. It was just three days after Hitler had invaded Russia. Someone in the audience asked: “What about Fifth Columnists in Russia?” Off the anvil, I said: “There aren’t any-they shot them.”

On the train that day, that thought lingered in my mind. It was rather extraordinary, when one stopped to think of it, that in this last Nazi invasion, not a word had appeared of “inside work” back of the Russian lines. There was no so-called “internal aggression” in Russia co-operating with the German High Command. Hitler’s march into Prague in 1939 was accompanied by the active military support of Henlein’s organisations in Czechoslovakia. The same was true of his invasion of Norway. There were no Sudeten Henleins, no Slovakian Tisos, no Belgian De Grelles, no Norwegian Quislings in the Soviet picture.

Thinking over the things, there came a flash in my mind of a possible new significance to some of the things that happened in Russian when I was there. Upon my arrival in Washington, I hastened to reread my old diary entries and, with the permission of the State Department, went through some of my official reports.

None of us in Russia in 1937 and 1938 were thinking in terms of “Fifth Column” activities. The phrase was not current. It is comparatively recent that we have found in our language phrases descriptive of Nazi technique such as “Fifth Column” and “internal aggression”.

Generally speaking, the well informed suspected such methods might be employed by Hitler; but it was one of those things which many thought just couldn’t really happen. It is only within the last two years, through the Dies Committee and the F.B.I., that there have been uncovered the activities of German organisations in this country and in South America, and that we have seen the actual work of German agents operating with traitors in Norway, Czechoslovakia, and Austria, who betrayed their country from within in co-operation with a planned Hitler attack.

These activities and methods, apparently, existed in Russia, as a part of the German plan against the Soviets, as long ago as 1935.

It was in 1936 that Hitler made his now famous Nuremberg speech, in which he clearly indicated his designs upon the Ukraine.

The Soviet government, it now appears, was even then acutely aware of the plans of the German high military and political commands and of the “inside work” being done in Russia, preparatory to German attack upon Russia.

As I ruminated over this situation, I suddenly saw the picture as I should have seen it at the time. The story had been told in the so-called treason or purge trials of 1937 and 1938 which I had attended and listened to. In re-examining the record of these cases and also what I had written at the time from this new angle, I found that practically every device of German Fifth Columnist activity, as we now know it, was disclosed and laid bare by the confessions and testimony elicited at these trials of self-confessed “Quislings” in Russia.

It was clear that the Soviet government believed that these activities existed, was thoroughly alarmed, and had proceeded to crush them vigorously. By 1941, when the German invasion came, they had wiped out any Fifth Column which had been organised.

Another fact which was difficult to understand at the time, but which takes on a new significance in view of developments, was the manner in which the Soviet government was “bearing down” on consular agencies of Germany and Italy in 1937 and 1938. It was done in a very highhanded manner. There was a callous and almost brutal disregard of the sensibilities of the countries involved. The reason assigned by the Soviet government was that these consulates were engaged upon internal, political, and subversive activities; and that because of these facts they had to be closed up. The announcements of the trials and executions (purges), all over Russia that year, invariably charged the defendants with being guilty of treasonable and subversive activity in aiding “a foreign power” to overthrow the Soviet state.”


Ambassador Joseph Davies then goes on with his account by going through some court cases in the treason trials and finishes the chapter with the words:


“The testimony in these cases involve and incriminated General Tukhachevsky and many high leaders in the army and in the navy. Shortly after the Radek trial these men were arrested. Under the leadership of Tukhachevsky these men were charged with having entered into an agreement to co-operate with the German High Command in an attack upon the Soviet state. Numerous subversive activities conducted in the army were disclosed by the testimony. Many of the highest officers in the army, according to the testimony, had either been corrupted or otherwise induced to enter into this conspiracy. According to the testimony, complete co-operation had been established in each branch of the service, the political revolutionary group, the military group, and the High Commands of Germany and Japan.

Such was the story, as it was brought out in these trials, as to what had actually occurred. There can be no doubt but what the Kremlin authorities were greatly alarmed by these disclosures and the confessions of these defendants. The speed with which the government acted and the thoroughness with which they proceeded indicated that they believed them to be true. They proceeded to clean house and acted with the greatest of energy and precision. Voroshilov, Commander in Chief of the Red Army, said:

It is easier for a burglar to break into the house if he has an accomplice to let him in. We have taken care of the accomplices.

General Tukhachevsky did not go to the coronation in London as he had planned. He was reported to have been sent down to command the army of the Volga district; but it was understood at the time that he had been removed from the train and arrested before he arrived at his command. Within a few weeks thereafter, on June 11, he, along with eleven other officers of the High Command, were shot pursuant to judgement, after a trial by military court-martial, the proceedings of which were not made public. All of these trials, purges and liquidations, which seemed so violent at the time and shocked the world, are now quite clearly a part of a vigorous and determined effort of the Stalin government to protect itself from not only revolution from within but from attack from without. They went to work thoroughly to clean up and clean out all treasonable elements within the country. All doubts were resolved in favour of the government.

There were no Fifth Columnists in Russia in 1941 – they had shot them. The purge had cleansed the country and rid it of treason.”[132]


Ambassador Davie’s account is more important today than ever. It poses the question about the purges in the correct light. But it raises other questions too, which are never treated by bourgeois historical writers. An important question in this context is how it was at all possible for the Nazis to vanquish the great military power France, which had additionally got an English army to help it! The treachery of the French upper class against its country and other issues from the period between the two World Wars are questions which beg an explanation.


The traitors and the threat against the Soviet Union


Those who browse through ordinary daily newspapers from the 1930-ies can easily see how the threat against the Soviet Union grew from one day to the other. The threat came from Nazi Germany but from the other capitalist countries in the West too, among others from France and Great Britain. It went on like that during the entire 1930-ies. When the Nazis invaded Poland in September 1939 France and Great Britain declared war against Germany but did not undertake any acts of war nor tried to save Poland. It was the so called “fanny war”. The real war between France/Great Britain and Nazi Germany did not start until nine months later with the invasion by the Nazis of France in June 1940. But during the period September 1939 – June 1940, France and Great Britain were not passive.


The anti-Soviet policies dominated in these countries. In France an Ukrainian legion was created with defectors from the Soviet Union and national combat units of Caucasians in the army of the French general Weygand. When Finland started the war against the Soviet Union in December 1939 France and Great Britain took position on Finland’s side. Great Britain sent 144 war planes, 114 heavy guns and hundreds of thousands of grenades and air bombs. France sent 179 war planes, 472 guns, 5,100 machine guns and  approx. one million grenades of different kind. Simultaneously these countries made up plans to send in an army of 150,000 men to fight on the Finnish side against the Soviet Union. The governments of France and Great Britain wanted to show Nazi Germany where they belonged. The massive threat against the Soviet Union was evident during all of the 1930-ies. Everywhere in capitalist Europe the governments prepared the public opinion for a war against the Soviet Union. There, this threat was perceived as real.


The soviet leadership had to realise that the country would perish unless they managed in uniting everybody in the work for a quick development of the society and the enormous necessary defence preparations which absorbed a large part of the social production. In this strained social clime the soviet government discovered that the countries threatening the Soviet Union had their own mercenaries inside the countries, connections reaching high up in the state and the party. In this very strained situation where everybody had to work very hard for the survival of the Soviet Union, there were others who helped the enemy with information and sabotaged the production and the defence.


The Soviet government was hard on the traitors and the circles all over the Soviet Union where these traitors moved or had connections. Many were condemned to prison or to death. “All doubts were resolved in favour of the government” Davies says. It is unfortunate if innocent people were affected. But in the prevailing situation there was nothing better to do. The Nazi invasion and the war of extermination against the Soviet Union was fast approaching. For the administration and state apparatus it would be suicide to retain people who were prepared to collaborate with the Nazi invaders and who were inimical against the Socialist State. With their powerful actions the Soviet government succeeded in saving the country –and the world— from the Nazi barbary and to eradicate Nazism. How would history have judged the Soviet government if the Soviet Union had perished and the Nazis taken over the whole world?


Some conclusions


Let us return to the beginning of this brochure to Merle Fainsod’s book Smolensk under Soviet rule from 1958. With facts in our hand we can establish that Fainsod’s book is gravely misleading, as a matter of fact a falsification of the historical events. It is even worse that this book has shaped generations of intellectuals and opened up for a cheap police agent like Robert Conquest to appear as an authority on the subject of the Soviet Union. Arch Getty’s Origins of the Great Purges clearly shows that the wave of purges allegedly planned according to Fainsod to grow ever bigger just did not exist. Fainsod’s allegation that the Central Committee had started a wave of terror when the party cards were changed in 1936 have not the least basis in reality either. The trials at court which according to Fainsod were a farce to exterminate all opposition against Stalin turn out to be judicial processes against traitors who had entered a collaboration with Nazi Germany.


In fact the political movement in the Soviet Union during the 1930-ies was a radical questioning of the bureaucracy power in the party and society. Not everything was good or impeccable, but the struggle was necessary for the Soviet Union to develop the Socialist production and survive the Nazi invasion. Let us quote the concluding words in professor Arch Getty’s Origins of the Great Purges.


“The evidence suggests that the Ezhovshchina (the time under Ezhov, MS) – which is what most people really mean by the “Great Purges” – should be redefined. It was not the result of a petrified bureaucracy’s stamping out dissent and annihilating old radical revolutionaries. In fact, it may have been just the opposite. It is not inconsistent with the evidence to argue that the Ezhovshchina was rather a radical, even hysterical, reaction to bureaucracy. The entrenched officeholders were destroyed from above and below in a chaotic wave of voluntarism and revolutionary puritanism.”[133]




Ambassador Joseph Davies has few similar in the neo liberal society of today. A magnifying glass the size of a telescope is needed for to find an honest bourgeois intellectual today. Bourgeois mass media are dominated by clowns like Conquest, Skotte, Ahlmark, Englund and other greedy and unscrupulous “authors” filling the universities, the political editorial offices of the newspapers and not least the so called trusts meant to investigate the crimes of Communism. The bourgeois intellectuals of today remind us more than anything of spiritual dwarfs who, wielding their plastic cards, willingly listen to their master’s voice. The honest intellectuals who exist, in spite of all, seldom dare to lift their heads, they are almost always on the defensive and have difficulties in pointing out the impostors and call them history falsifiers as they are. Some more audacity and civil courage could give the public another understanding of the debate and lift it to a decent level. Moreover the passive submission of the intellectuals to the “market powers” constitutes yet another yoke on the workers. In order to liberate the workers from exploitation and the blunting of their intellect the conceited fools of the bourgeoisie must be fought. Knowledge of history is important to understand our present and to break the lies of the bourgeoisie! In the society of today only we Communists, with few exceptions, want to give back the knowledge of history to the working people. We shall not fail this duty.


Mário Sousa, 2001





Conquest, Robert: The Great Terror – Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties, New York 1968.

Correspondence from the Swedish Embassy in Moscow to the Swedish Department of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm, Riksarkivet, Stockholm.

Davies, Joseph E.: Mission to Moscow, New York 1941.

Englund, Peter: ”Den otroliga bilden av Stalins 1937”, Moderna Tider 1994:40.

Englund, Peter: Brev från nollpunkten, Stockholm 1996.

Fainsod, Merle: Smolensk under Soviet Rule, London 1959.

Getty, J. Arch: Origins of the Great Purges – The Soviet Communist Party Reconsidered, 1933-1938, New York 1985.

Getty, J. Arch & Naumov, Oleg V.: The Road to Terror – Stalin and the Self-destruction of the Bolsheviks, 1932-1939, New Haven 1999.

History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), Swedish edition, Stockholm 1972.

Hitler, Adolf: Mein Kampf, London 1939.

Lenin, Vladimir I.: Collected Works. 30, September 1919 – April 1920, Moscow 1965.

Littlepage, John D.: In Search of Soviet Gold, London 1939.

Nordisk Familjebok, band 19, Malmö 1933.

Pritt, D. N.: The Moscow Trial Was Fair, >, 2005-07-21.

Report of Court Proceedings – The Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Centre, Moscow 1936.

Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Centre, Moscow 1937.

Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet “Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites”, Moscow 1938.

Sousa, Mario: Lies Concerning the History of the Soviet Union – From Hitler to Hearst, from Conquest to Solzhenitsyn, >, 2005-07-17.

Sovjetunionens kommunistiska partis (bolsjevikerna) historia, Stockholm 1972.

Stalin, Josef V.: Works, vol. 7, 1925, Moscow 1954.

Stalin, Josef V.: Works, vol. 12, April 1929 - June 1930, Moscow 1955.

Stalin, Josef V.: Works, vol. 13, July 1930 - January 1934, Moscow 1955.

Stalin, Josef V.: Problems of Leninism, Peking 1976.

Stalin, Josef V.: Selected Works, Tirana 1979.

Tysklands kommunistiska parti och kampen mot fascismen perioden 1928-35, Stockholm 1974.



[1] J.V. Stalin, Works, vol. 12, Moscow 1955, p 242;

J.V. Stalin, Works, vol. 13, Moscow 1955, p 288;

J.V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, Peking 1976, p 874.

[2] Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, London 1939, p 360.

[3] J. Arch Getty & Oleg V. Naumov, The Road to Terror –  Stalin and the Self-Destruction of the Bolsheviks, 1932-1939, New Haven 1999, p 25.

[4] Ibid, p 27.

[5] Ibid, p 327.

[6] J. Arch Getty, Origins of the Great Purges – The Soviet Communist Party Reconsidered, 1933-1938. New York 1985, p 3.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Merle Fainsod, Smolensk under Soviet rule. London 1959, p 222.

[9] Getty 1985, p. 6

[10] Vladimir I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol 30, Moscow 1965, p 186.

[11] Getty 1985, p 46

[12] Ibid, p 47

[13] Ibid, p 46

[14] Mario Sousa: Lies concerning the History of the Soviet Union – From Hitler to Hearst, from Conquest to Solzhenitsyn,, 2005-07-17

[15] Peter Englund, ”Den otroliga bilden av Stalin 1937”, Moderna Tider 1994:40, p 26;

Peter Englund, Brev från nollpunkten, Stockholm 1996, p 72.

[16] Robert Conquest, The Great Terror – Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties, New York 1968, p 569.

[17] Getty 1985, p 54.

[18] Ibid, p 59.

[19] Ibid, p 61.

[20] Ibid, p 63.

[21] Ibid, p 69.

[22] Ibid, p 83.

[23] Ibid, p 85.

[24] Ibid, p 89.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Englund 1996, p 66-67.

[27] J.V. Stalin, Works, vol. 7, 1925, Moscow 1954, p 393.

[28] Sovjetunionens kommunistiska partis (bolsjevikerna) historia, Stockholm 1972, page 349.

[29] J.V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, Peking 1976, p 694.

[30] Tysklands kommunistiska parti och kampen mot fascismens perioden 1928-1935, Stockholm 1974, p 21.


[31] Nordisk Familjebok, band 19, Malmö 1933, p 944.

[32] Report of Court Proceedings – The Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievit Terrorist Centre, Moscow 1936, p 14.

[33] Ibid, p 55.

[34] Ibid, p 180.

[35] Ibid, p 115-116.

[36] D. N. Pritt, The Moscow Trial was Fair, London 1936, >, 2005-07-21.

[37] Correspondence from the Swedish Embassy in Moscow to the Swedish Department of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm. Riksarkivet, Stockholm.


[39] Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Centre, Moscow 1937, p 21.

[40] Ibid, p 23.

[41] Ibid, p 25.

[42] Ibid, p 26.

[43] John D. Littlepage, In Search of Soviet Gold, London 1939, p 274.


[44] Report of Court Proceedings 1937,pp 46-47.

[45] Ibid, p 50.

[46] Ibid, p 52.

[47] Ibid, pp 52-53.

[48] Ibid, p 55.

[49] Ibid, p 56.

[50] Ibid, p 58.

[51] Ibid, p 64.

[52] Ibid, p 62.

[53] Ibid, p 66.

[54] Ibid, pp 68-69.

[55] Ibid, p 579.

[56] Joseph E. Davies, Mission to Moscow, New York 1941, p 645.

[57] Ibid, p 43.

[58] Robert Conquest, The Great Terror – Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties. New York 1968, pp 156-157.

[59] Correspondence from the Swedish embassy in Moscow to the Swedish Department of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm. Riksarkivet, Stockholm.

[60] Ibid.

[61] Getty & Naumov 1999, pp 323-324.

[62] Ibid, p 586.


[63]  J.V. Stalin, Selected Works, Tirana 1979, pp 421-455.

[64] Ibid, pp 423-424.

[65] Ibid, p 424.

[66] Ibid, p 431.

[67] Ibid.

[68] Ibid, p 440.

[69] Ibid, p 443.

[70] Ibid, p 444.

[71] Ibid, p 446.

[72] Ibid, p 448.

[73] Ibid, p 452.

[74] Ibid.

[75] Ibid, p 454.

[76] Ibid, p 455.

[77] Getty 1985, p 151.

[78] Ibid.

[79] Davies 1941, p 152.

[80] Getty 1985, p 169.

[81] Ibid, p 176.

[82] Ibid.

[83] Ibid, p 175.


[84] Ibid, p 177.

[85] Englund 1994, p 22; Englund, 1996, p 73.

[86] Getty 1985, p 175.

[87] Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet “Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites”, Moscow 1938, p 1.

[88] Ibid, p 106.

[89] Ibid, p 88.

[90] Ibid, p 91.

[91] Ibid, p 98.

[92] Ibid, p 93.

[93] Ibid, p 106.

[94] Ibid, p 102.

[95] Ibid, p 103.

[96] Ibid.

[97] Ibid.

[98] Ibid, p 322.

[99] Ibid, p 326

[100] Ibid, pp 327-328.

[101] Ibid, p 328.

[102] Ibid, pp 331-332.

[103] Ibid, p 333.

[104] Ibid, p 118.

[105] Ibid, pp 121-122.

[106] Ibid, pp 122-123.

[107] Ibid, p 123.

[108] Ibid, p 124.

[109] Ibid, p 126.

[110] Ibid, pp 128-137

[111] Ibid, p 370.

[112] Ibid, p 430.

[113] Ibid, pp 373-375.

[114] Ibid, p 379.

[115] Ibid, pp 377-378.

[116] Ibid, p 440.

[117] Ibid, pp 448-449

[118] Ibid, pp 169-170

[119] Ibid, p 170

[120] Ibid, pp 173-174.

[121] Ibid, p 178.

[122] Ibid, p 181.

[123] Ibid, pp 186-188

[124] Ibid, p 612.

[125] Ibid, p 770.

[126] Ibid, p 697.

[127] Correspondence from the Swedish Embassy in Moscow to the Swedish Department of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm, Riksarkivet, Stockholm.


[128] Ibid.

[129] Ibid.

[130] Davies 1941, p 269.

[131] Ibid, p 271.

[132] Ibid, pp 272-280

[133] Getty 1985, p 206.

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