None of the incidents or dialogue in The Great Conspiracy has been invented by the authors. The material has been drawn from various documentary sources which are indicated in the text or listed in the Bibliographical Notes.
1. The Diplomacy of Treason
IN the years 1933-1934, a mysterious malaise seemed to seize the nations of Europe. One country after another was suddenly shaken by coups d'état, military Putsches, sabotage, assassinations and startling revelations of cabals and conspiracies. Scarcely a month passed without some new act of treachery and violence. An epidemic of treason and terror raced across Europe.
Nazi Germany was the center of infection. On January 11, 1934, a United Press dispatch reported from London: "With Nazi Germany as the center of the new Fascist movements, agitation and violence by those who believe the old form of government is doomed have spread over the continent."
The term "Fifth Column" was as yet unknown. But already the secret vanguards of the German High Command had launched their offensive against the nations of Europe. The French Cagoulards and Croix de Feu; the British Union of Fascists; the Belgian Rexists; the Polish POW; the Czechoslovakian Henlein-ists and Hlinka Guards; the Norwegian Quislingites; the Rumanian Iron Guards; the Bulgarian IMRO; the Finnish Lappo; the Lithuanian Iron Wolf; the Latvian Fiery Cross, and many other newly created Nazi secret societies or reorganized counterrevolutionary leagues were already at work paving the way for the German Wehrmacht's conquest and enslavement of the Continent and preparing for the attack on the Soviet Union.
Here is a partial list of the most important acts of Nazi-fascist terrorism immediately following Hitler's rise to power: -
| October 1933:||Assassination of Alex Mailov, Secretary of the Soviet Embassy, at Lvov, Poland, by agents of the Nazi-financed OUN, terrorist organization of Ukrainian Nationalists|
|December 1933:||Assassination of Premier Ion Duca of Rumania by the Iron Guards, Nazi-Rumanian terrorists|
|February 1934:|| Uprising in Paris, France, of Croix de Feu, Nazi-inspired French fascist organization|
|March 1934:||Attempted coup d'état in Estonia by Nazifinanced fascist Liberty Fighters|
|May 1934: ||Fascist coup d'état in Bulgaria|
|May 1934:||Attempted Putsch in Latvia by Nazi controlled Baltic Brotherhood|
|June 1934: ||Assassination of General Bronislav Pieracki, Polish Minister of Interior, by agents of the Nazi-financed OUN, terrorist organization of Ukrainian Nationalists|
|June 1934: ||Assassination of Ivan Babiy, head of Organization for Catholic Action in Poland, by OUN agents|
|June 1934:|| Attempted mass uprising in Lithuania by Nazi Iron Wolf organization|
|July 1934: ||Abortive Nazi Putsch in Austria and assassination by Nazi terrorists of Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss|
|October 1934:|| Assassination of King Alexander of Yugoslavia and the French Foreign Minister Barthou by agents of the Ustachi, Nazi controlled Croatian fascist organization|
Two men were chiefly responsible for the organization and supervision of these Nazi Fifth Column activities which soon extended far beyond Europe, penetrating the United States, Latin America, Africa, and, linking up with the Japanese Intelligence Service, all the area of the Far East. These two men were Alfred Rosenberg and Rudolph Hess. Rosenberg headed the Aussenpolitisches Amt der NSDAP (Foreign Political Office of the Nazi Party) which had the task of directing thousands of Nazi espionage, sabotage and propaganda agencies throughout the world, with special points of concentration in eastern Europe and Soviet Russia. As Hitler's deputy, Rudolph Hess was in charge of all secret foreign negotiations for the Nazi Government.
It was Alfred Rosenberg, the one-time Czarist émigré from Reval, who first established secret official Nazi relations with Leon Trotsky. It was Rudolph Hess, Hitler's deputy, who cemented them. . . .
In September 1933, eight months after Adolf Hitler became dictator of Germany, the Trotskyite diplomat and German agent Nicolai Krestinsky stopped off in Berlin for a few days on his way to take his annual "rest cure" at a sanatorium in Kissingen. Krestinsky then held the post of Assistant Commissar in the Soviet Foreign Office.
In Berlin, Krestinsky saw Sergei Bessonov, the Trotskyite liaison agent at the Soviet Embassy. In great excitement, Kristin-sky informed Bessonov that "Alfred Rosenberg, the leader of the Foreign Affairs Department of the National Socialist Party of Germany," had been "making soundings in our circles on the question of a possible secret alliance between the National Socialists in Germany and the Russian Trotskyites."
Krestinsky told Bessonov that he must see Trotsky. A meeting must be arranged at all costs. Krestinsky would be in the Kissingen sanatorium until the end of September, then he would go to Merano in the Italian Tyrol. Trotsky could contact him, with due precautions, in either place.
The meeting was arranged. In the second week of October, 1933, Leon Trotsky, accompanied by his son Sedov, crossed the Franco-Italian border on a false passport and met Krestinsky at the Hotel Bavaria in Merano. (1)
The conference which followed covered almost all the major issues concerning the future development of the conspiracy inside Soviet Russia. Trotsky began by stating flatly that "the seizure of power in Russia could be consummated only by force." But the conspiratorial apparatus alone was not strong enough to carry out a successful coup and to maintain itself in power without outside aid. It was therefore essential to come to a concrete agreement with foreign states interested in aiding the Trotskyites against the Soviet Government for their own ends.
"The embryo of such an agreement," Trotsky told Krestinsky, was our agreement with the Reichswehr; but this agreement in no way satisfied either the Trotskyites or the German side for two reasons: first, the other party to this agreement was only the Reichswehr and not the German Government as a whole. . . . Second, what was the substance of our agreement with the Reichswehr? We were receiving a small sum of money and they were receiving espionage information which they would need during an armed attack. But the German Government, Hitler particularly, wants colonies, territory, and not only espionage information. And he is prepared to be satisfied with Soviet territory instead of the colonies for which he would have to fight England, America and France. As for us, we do not need the 250,000 gold marks. We need the German armed forces in order to come to power with their assistance. And it is towards this end that the work should be carried on."
The first thing, said Trotsky, was to reach an agreement with the German Government. "But the Japanese are also a force with which it is necessary to come to terms," Trotsky added. It would be necessary for the Russian Trotskyites to initiate "soundings" with the Japanese representatives in Moscow. "In this connection," Trotsky instructed Krestinsky, "use Sokolnikov, who is working in the People's Commissariat of Foreign Affairs, in charge of Eastern Affairs. . . ."
Trotsky went on to give Krestinsky instructions about the inner organization of the Russian conspiratorial apparatus. "Even if the Soviet Union is attacked, let us say, by Germany," said Trotsky, "that does not as yet make it possible to seize the machinery of power unless certain internal forces have been prepared. . . . It is necessary to have strongholds both in the towns and in the countryside among the petty bourgeoisie and the Kulaks, and there it is the Rights who have the connections. Finally, it is necessary to have a stronghold, an organization in the Red Army among the commanders, in order, with our united effort, to seize the most vital places at the necessary moment and to come to power, to replace the present Government, which must be arrested, by a Government of our own which has been prepared beforehand."
On his return to Russia, Krestinsky was to get in touch with General Tukhachevsky, Assistant Chief of Staff of the Red Army; "a man," as Trotsky told Krestinsky, "of a Bonapartist type, an adventurer, and ambitious man, who strives not only for a military but also for a military-political role, and who will unquestionably make common cause with us."
Trotsky's followers in Russia were to give every assistance to General Tukhachevsky, while at the same time taking care to place their own men in strategic positions, so that, when the coup d'etat came, the ambitious Tukhachevsky would not be able to control the new government without the aid of Trotsky.
Before the conference broke up, Trotsky gave Krestinsky specific orders for Pyatakov on the carrying out of the terrorist and sabotage campaigns in Soviet Russia. In speaking of this, Trotsky declared that the "diversionist acts and acts of terrorism" must be considered from two points of view. First, "of applying them in time of war for the purpose of disorganizing the defensive capacity of the Red Army, for disorganizing the Government at the moment of the coup d'état." But secondly, said Trotsky, it must be realized that these acts would make his, Trotsky's, position "stronger" and would give him "more confidence in his negotiations with foreign governments" because he "would be able to refer to the fact that his followers in the Soviet Union were both sufficiently strong and sufficiently active."
Back in Moscow, Krestinsky delivered a full report on his meeting with Trotsky before a secret meeting of the Russian Trotskyites. A few of the conspirators, particularly Karl Radek who was supposed to be Trotsky's "Foreign Minister," were nettled by the fact that Trotsky had entered into such important negotiations without having first consulted them.
After hearing krestinsky's report, Radek sent off a special message to Trotsky asking for "further clarification on the question of foreign policy."
Trotsky's reply, written from France, was handed to Radek a few weeks later by Vladimir Romm, a young foreign correspondent of the Soviet news agency Tass who was serving as a Trotskyite courier. Romm had received the letter from Trotsky in Paris and had smuggled it into Russia concealed in the cover of the popular Soviet novel, Tsusima. (2) Radek later described the contents of this letter as follows: -
Trotsky put the question in this way: the accession of Fascism to power in Germany had fundamentally changed the whole situation. It implied war in the near future, inevitable war, the more so that the situation was simultaneously becoming acute in the Far East. Trotsky had no doubt that this war would result in the defeat of the Soviet Union. This defeat, he wrote, will create favorable conditions for the accession to power of the bloc. . . . Trotsky stated that he had established contacts with a certain Far Eastern state and a certain Central European state, and that he had openly told semi-official circles of these states that the bloc stood for a bargain with them and was prepared to make considerable concessions both of an economic and a territorial character.
In the same letter, Trotsky informed Radek that the Russian Trotskyites working in diplomatic posts would be approached in the near future by certain foreign representatives and that, when this took place, the Trotskyite diplomats were to confirm their loyalty to Trotsky and to assure the foreign representatives that they stood behind Trotsky in every way. . . .
Grigori Sokolnikov, the Trotskyite Assistant Commissar for Eastern Affairs, hurried into Radek's office at Izvestia a short time later. "Just imagine," Sokolnikov burst out nervously as soon as the door was closed. "I am conducting negotiations at the People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs. The conversation comes to a close. The interpreters have left the room. The Japanese envoy suddenly turns to me and asks: am I informed about the proposals Trotsky has made to his Government?"
Sokolnikov was highly perturbed by the incident. "How does Trotsky visualize this?" he asked Radek. "How can I, as Assistant People's Commissar, conduct such negotiations? This is an absolutely impossible situation!"
Radek tried to calm his agitated friend. "Don't get excited," he said. "Trotsky obviously doesn't understand the situation here." Radek went on to assure Sokolnikov that it would not happen again. He had already written to Trotsky telling him that it was impossible for the Russian Trotskyites to carry on negotiations with German and Japanese agents - "under the eyes of the OGPU." The Russian Trotskyites, said Radek, would have to "put their mandate on Trotsky's visa" to go ahead with the negotiations on his own, so long as he kept them fully informed of his progress. . . .
Soon after, Radek himself was attending a diplomatic function in Moscow when a German diplomat sat down beside him and quietly said: "Our leaders know that Mr. Trotsky is striving for a rapprochement with Germany. Our leader wants to know, what does this idea of Mr. Trotsky signify? Perhaps it is the idea of an émigré who sleeps badly? What is behind these ideas?"
Describing his reaction to this unexpected Nazi approach, Radek later said: -
Of course, his talk with me lasted only a couple of minutes; the atmosphere of a diplomatic reception is not suited to lengthy perorations. I had to make my decision literally in one second and give him an answer. . . . I told him that realist politicians in the U.S.S.R. understand the significance of a German-Soviet rapprochement and are prepared to make the necessary concessions to achieve this rapprochement..
On the night of June 30, 1934, the Nazi terror struck within its own ranks in Germany when Hitler liquidated dissident elements within his movement. Within twenty-four hours, Captain Ernst Roehm, Chief of Staff of Hitler's Storm Troops; Edmund Heines, Supreme Group Leader in Eastern Germany; Karl Ernst, Chief Leader of the Berlin Storm Troops; and scores of their friends and associates fell before the bullets of Hitler's gunmen in Munich and Berlin. Intense anxiety and fear gripped the whole Nazi movement.
From Paris, Trotsky immediately dispatched one of his most trusted "secretaries," an international spy named Karl Reich, alias Johanson, to contact Sergei Bessonov, the Trotskyite liaison in Berlin. Bessonov was summoned to Paris to make a detailed report to Trotsky on the situation inside Germany.
Bessonov was unable to get to Paris immediately; but at the end of July he managed to leave Berlin. After meeting Trotsky in a Paris hotel and making his report on the German situation, he returned to Berlin that same evening. Trotsky was in a state of great nervous excitement when Bessonov saw him. The events in Germany, the elimination of the "radical Nazis" headed by Roehn, might bring about some hitch in his plans. Bessonov assured Trotsky that Hitler, Himmler, Hess, Rosenberg, Goering and Goebbels still held the state power firmly in their hands.
"They will come to us yet!" cried Trotsky. He went on to tell Bessonov that he would have important assignments for him to carry out in Berlin in the near future. "We must not be squeamish in this matter," said Trotsky. "In order to obtain real and important help from Hess and Rosenberg, we must not stop short at consenting to big cessions of territory. We shall consent to the cession of the Ukraine. Bear that in mind in your work and in your negotiations with the Germans, and I shall also write about it to Pyatakov and Krestinsky."
A web of treason was already being spun through the various offices of the Soviet Diplomatic Corps. Ambassadors, secretaries, attaches and minor consular agents were involved in the conspiratorial network, not only in Europe, but also in the Far East....
The Soviet Ambassador to Japan was taking part in the conspiracy. His name was Yurenev. He had been a secret Trotskyite since 1926. On instructions from Trotsky, he established connections with the Japanese Intelligence Service. Assisting Yurenev in his dealings with Japan was Trotsky's old friend, Christian Rakovsky, the one-time Ambassador to England and France. Rakovsky no longer held any important post in the Soviet Foreign Office. He worked as an official on various public health commissions. But he was still an important personality in the underground conspiracy.
In September 1934, Rakovsky went to Japan with a Soviet delegation to attend the international conference of Red Cross societies which was to take place in Tokyo in October. Before leaving for Japan, Rakovsky received an envelope from the Commissariat of Heavy Industry in Moscow. It was from Pyatakov and it contained a letter which Rakovsky was to deliver to Ambassador Yurenev in Tokyo. Ostensibly, the letter expressed a routine request for official trade information. On the back of the letter, written in invisible ink, there was a message to Yurenev informing him that Rakovsky was to be "utilized" in the negotiations with the Japanese.
The day after Rakovsky arrived in Tokyo he was contacted by a Japanese agent. The encounter took place in a corridor of the Japanese Red Cross building in Tokyo. Rakovsky was told that the aims of the Russian Trotskyite movement "fully coincided" with those of the Japanese Government. The Japanese agent added that he was sure Rakovsky would be able to provide Tokyo with valuable information concerning the "situation" inside Soviet Russia.
That same evening Rakovsky told Yurenev about his conversation with the Japanese agent. "The idea is to enlist me as a spy," said Rakovsky, "as an informer for the Japanese Government."
"There is no need to hesitate," replied the Trotskyite Ambassador. "The die is cast."
A few days later, Rakovsky dined by appointment with a high officer of the Japanese Intelligence Service. The Japanese officer began the conversation boldly. "We are aware that you are a very close friend and adherent of Mr. Trotsky," he told Rakovsky. "I must ask you to write to him that our government is dissatisfied with his articles on the Chinese question and also with the behavior of the Chinese Trotskyites. We have a right to expect a different line of conduct on the part of Mr. Trotsky. Mr. Trotsky ought to understand what is necessary. There is no need to go into details, but it is clear that an incident provoked in China would be a desirable pretext for intervening in China."
The Japanese officer then went on to tell Rakovsky the sort of confidential information the Japanese Government would be interested in receiving from the Russian Trotskyites: data concerning conditions in collective farms, railroads, mines and industries, especially in the Eastern sections of the U.S.S.R. Rakovsky was given various codes and spy names for his use in delivering this information. It was arranged that Dr. Naida, a secretary of the Red Cross delegation, would act as liaison between Rakovsky and the Japanese Intelligence Service. . . .
Before he left Tokyo, Rakovsky had a final chat with Yurenev. The Trotskyite Ambassador was depressed. "We have gotten into such a mess that sometimes one does not know how to behave!" he said gloomily. "One is afraid that by satisfying one of our partners we may offend another. For instance, here at present, antagonism is arising between Great Britain and Japan in connection with the Chinese question, while we have to maintain connections both with the British and the Japanese Intelligence Services. . . . And here I have to find my bearings in all this!"
Rakovsky replied: "We Trotskyites have to play three cards at the present moment: the German, the Japanese, and the British. . . . What we are doing is a policy of putting everything at stake, of everything for everything; but if a risky venture succeeds, the adventurers are called great statesmen!"(3)
2. The Diplomacy of Terror
While the Russian conspirators were cementing their treasonable ties with the representatives of Germany and Japan, another phase of the secret offensive against the Soviet Government was already under way. Treason was being supplemented by terror. . . .
In April 1934, a Soviet engineer named Boyarshinov walked into the office of the construction chief at the vital Kuznetsk coal mines in Siberia to report that something was very wrong in his department. There were far too many accidents, underground fires, mechanical breakdowns. Boyarshinov suspected sabotage.
The construction chief thanked Boyarshinov for the information. "I will inform the right people," he said. "In the meantime don't say anything to anybody about this."
The construction chief was Alexei Shestov, German spy and chief organizer of Trotskyite sabotage in Siberia.
A few days later Boyarshinov was found dead in a ditch. A speeding truck had hit him as he was going home from work along a lonely strip of country road. The driver of the truck was a professional terrorist named Cherepukhin. Shestov had given him the assignment of murdering Bovarshinov and paid him 15,000 rubles for the job.(4)
In September 1934, V. M. Molotov, Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the U.S.S.R., arrived in Siberia on an inspection tour of the mining and industrial areas. Molotov was returning from a visit to one of the mines at the Kuznetsk coal basin when the car in which he was driving suddenly went off the road, careened down a steep embankment and stopped just at the edge of a steep gully. Severely shaken and bruised, but otherwise unhurt, Molotov and his companions scrambled from the overturned car. They had narrowly escaped death. . . .
The driver of the car was Valentine Arnold, the manager of the local garage. Arnold was a member of the Trotskyite terrorist apparatus. Shestov had instructed him to murder Molotov; and Arnold had deliberately driven the car off the road, intending to kill himself along with Molotov. The attempt failed only because at the last minute Arnold lost his nerve and slowed down as he approached the embankment where the "accident" was scheduled to have taken place. . . .
By the autumn of 1934, Trotskyite and Right terrorist groups were functioning throughout the Soviet Union. These terrorist groups included among their members former Social Revolutionaries, one-time Mensheviks, professional gunmen and ex-agents of the Czarist Ochrana. In the Ukraine and Byelorussia, in Georgia and Armenia, in Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and the Maritime Region of the Far East, anti-Soviet nationalists and fascists were recruited into the terrorist apparatus. In many places, Nazi and Japanese agents directly supervised the operations of these groups.
A list had been compiled of the Soviet leaders who were to be assassinated. At the head of the list was the name of Josef Stalin. Among the other names were Klementi Voroshilov, V. M. Molotov, Sergei Kirov, Lazar Kaganovich, Andrei Zhdanov, Vyacheslav Menzhinsky, Maxim Gorky and Valerian Kuibyshev.
The terrorists periodically received messages from Leon Trotsky stressing the urgency of eliminating the Soviet leaders. One of these messages reached Ephraim Dreitzer, Trotsky's former bodyguard, in October 1934. Trotsky had written it in invisible ink on the margins of a German motion picture magazine. It was brought to Dreitzer by his sister, who had been given the magazine by a Trotskyite courier in Warsaw. Trotsky's message to Dreitzer read: -
Dear friend. Convey that today we have the following main tasks before us:
l) To remove Stalin and Voroshilov.
2) To unfold work for organizing nuclei in the army.
3) In the event of war, to take advantage of every setback and confusion to capture the leadership.
The message was signed Starik ("Old Man"), which was Trotsky's code signature.
In one case, the conspirators, after prolonged observation, established the route along which Commissar of Defense Voroshilov usually drove in Moscow. Three terrorists, armed with revolvers, were stationed for a number of days on Frunze Street, one of the thoroughfares along which Voroshilov's car passed. But the car always traveled at a high speed, and the terrorists decided, as one of them reported afterwards, that "It was useless firing at the fast running car."
Several plots to kill Stalin also miscarried. A Trotskyite terrorist, assigned to shoot Stalin at an important Party conference in Moscow, managed to get into the meeting but was unable to approach close enough to the Soviet leader to use his revolver. Another time, terrorists fired with high-powered rifles at Stalin as he was passing in a motorboat along the shore of the Black Sea, but the shots missed. "A pity," said Leo Kamenev, when the terrorist Ivan Bakayev reported the failure of one of his blots to kill Stalin. "Let's hope the next time we'll be more successful." (5)
Trotsky became more and more inpatient. The tone of his communications to his followers in Russia underwent a sharp change. He angrily berated them for being "all the time engaged in organizational preparations and conversations" and for not having accomplished "anything concrete." Trotsky began sending special agents of his own into the Soviet Union to help organize and to expedite terrorist acts. These agents, who were either Russian émigrés or German Trotskyites, traveled on false passports provided for them by the conspirators in the Soviet diplomatic service or by the German Military Intelligence and the Gestapo.
The first of these special agents was a German Trotskyite named Nathan Lurye. He was followed by two more of Trotsky's men: Konon Berman-Yurin and Fritz David, alias Ilya-David Kruglyansky. In March 1933 Trotsky sent a fourth and fifth agent: Valentine Olberg and Moissei Lurye, alias Alexander Emel (Moissei Lurye was no relative of Nathan Lurye).
Before Nathan Lurye left Berlin, he was instructed that in Moscow he was to operate under the supervision of a German engineer and architect named Franz Weitz, who was then employed in the Soviet Union. Franz Weitz was not one of Leon Trotsky's followers. Weitz was a member of the National Socialist Party of Germany. He had been sent into the Soviet Union as a secret emissary of Heinrich Himmler, director of the Nazi Gestapo. Himmler had given Weitz the assignment of organizing terrorist and espionage operations in the Soviet Union in collaboration with the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center.
When one of Zinoviev's followers questioned this direct tie-up with a Nazi agent, Zinoviev replied: "What is there in this disturbing to you? You are an historian. You know the case of Lasalle and Bismarck, when Lasalle wanted to use Bismarck in the interests of the revolution. Why cannot we today utilize Himmler?"
Shortly before they left for Russia, Trotsky's emissaries, Konon Berman-Yurin and Fritz David, were summoned to special conferences with Trotsky himself. The meetings took place in Copenhagen toward the end of November 1932. Konon Berman-Yurin later stated: -
I had two meetings with him [Trotsky]. First of all he began to sound me on my work in the past. Then Trotsky passed to Soviet affairs. Trotsky said: "The principal question is the question of Stalin. Stalin must be physically destroyed." He said that other methods of struggle were now ineffective. He said that for this purpose people were needed who would dare anything, who would agree to sacrifice themselves for this, as he expressed it, historic task. . . .
In the evening we continued our conversation. I asked him how individual terrorism could be reconciled with Marxism. To this Trotsky replied: problems cannot be treated in a dogmatic way. He said that a situation had arisen in the Soviet Union which Marx could not have foreseen. Trotsky also said that in addition to Stalin it was necessary to assassinate Kaganovich and Voroshilov. . . .
During the conversation he nervously paced up and down the room and spoke of Stalin with exceptional hatred. . . . He said that the terrorist act should, if possible, be timed to take place at a plenum or at the congress of the Comintern, so that the shot at Stalin would ring out in a large assembly. This would have a tremendous repercussion far beyond the borders of the Soviet Union. . . . This would be an historical political event of world significance.
To Fritz David, his other emissary, Trotsky said: "Terror against Stalin - that is the revolutionary task. Whoever is a revolutionary - his hand will not tremble." Trotsky spoke of the "growing discontent" in Soviet Russia. David asked him, "Do you think this discontent will disappear in the event of a war between the Soviet Union and the Japanese?" Trotsky replied, "No, on the contrary, under these conditions the forces hostile to the regime will try to unite and take the lead of these discontented masses, to arm them and lead them against the ruling bureaucrats."
The Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center was to carry out the first major blow of the conspiracy against the Soviet Government. This first blow was the assassination of Sergei Kirov, Secretary of the Leningrad Party, and one of Stalin's closest co-workers in the Soviet Government. . . .
Early in November 1934, Zinoviev, who was in Moscow, sent his follower, Bakayev, to check up on the organization of terrorist cells in Leningrad.
The Leningrad terrorists, who had made repeated attempts to get close to Kirov, were not too pleased to receive Zinoviev's emissary. "So Grigori Eveseyevich [Zinoviev] doesn't trust us," one of the gunmen said to Bakayev. "He sends people here to check up on our mood and our work. Well, we're not a proud lot!"
A conference of the Leningrad terrorist cells, attended by seven terrorists, acquainted Bakayev with the latest developments. Bakayev was informed that a regular watch had been established along the route which Kirov took from his home to his office at the Smolny Institute. Bakayev was introduced to the man who had been selected to carry out the actual assassination: Leonid Nikolayev, a pale, slender, thirty-year-old former bookkeeper who had been dismissed from his post for irregularities in his accounts and expelled from the Komsomol [Communist youth organization] for general unreliability.
Nikolayev told Bakayev that he planned to shoot Kirov either near his home or in the Smolny Institute. He added that he had already tried to get an appointment with Kirov but that so far he had failed.
Bakayev repeated the instructions which Zinoviev had given him in Moscow: -
The principal task is to organize the terroristic work so secretly as to preclude our being compromised in any way. . . .
When under examination, the main thing is to persistently deny any connection with the organization. If accused of terroristic activities, you must emphatically deny it and argue that terror is incompatible with the views of Bolsheviks-Marxists. . . .
Zinoviev was satisfied with developments in Leningrad. Both he and Kamenev were confident that the assassination of Kirov would soon take place. They believed that this act would throw the Soviet Government into confusion and be a signal for similar acts against Soviet leaders throughout the country. "Heads are peculiar," remarked Kamenev, "in that they do not grow again. . . .
On December 1, 1934, at 4:27 P.M., Sergei Kirov left his office in the Smolny Institute. He walked down the long marble-lined corridor leading to a room where he was to deliver a report on the decision of the Central Committee to abolish the bread rationing system. As Kirov passed an intersecting corridor, a man sprang out, thrust a revolver at the back of Kirov's head and fired.
At 4:30 P.M. Sergei Kirov was dead.
The assassin was Leonid Nikolayev. He tried to get away and then to turn the gun on himself, but he was seized before he could do either.
On December 28, 1934, Leonid Nikolayev was placed on trial before the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R. "When I shot Kirov," Nikolayev testified, "I reasoned as follows: Our shot must be a signal for an explosion, a revolt within the country against the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and against the Soviet Government."
The Military Collegiumn sentenced Nikolayev to be shot.(6)
Nikolayev did not divulge the fact that Zinoviev, Kamenev and the other leaders of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center had been directly involved in the plot to murder Kirov.
But it was clear to the Soviet Government that the careful planning and preparation behind the assassination involved a far more elaborate and dangerous organization than Nikolayev's terrorist group. The Bolshevik Party appointed a special investigator to probe into the Leningrad affair. His name was N. I. Yezhov, a member of the Central Committee of the Party and head of the Control Commission.
Two weeks after the trial of Nikolayev, Grigori Zinoviev, Leo Kamenev and several of their known associates, including Bakayev, faced a Leningrad court, charged with complicity in the assassination of Kirov. Throughout the trial Zinoviev and Kamenev followed a course of conduct carefully planned in advance. Admitting nothing that the Soviet Government had not established by its own investigation, they feigned deep remorse and "confessed" that the political oppositionist activities in which they had been involved had "created an atmosphere" conducive to "anti-Soviet activities." They said they were leaders of a "Moscow Center" of political opposition, and they accepted "moral responsibility" for Kirov's murder, since they had headed the seditious political movement from which the crime had sprung. But they fervently denied they themselves had any foreknowledge of the plot to assassinate Kirov.
"I am accustomed to feel that I am a leader," Zinoviev declared, "and it goes without saying that I should have known everything. . . This outrageous murder has thrown such an ominous light upon the whole previous anti-Party struggle, that I recognize that the Party is absolutely right in speaking of the political responsibility of the former anti-Party Zinoviev group for the murder committed."
Kamenev played the same role. " I must say that I am not a coward by nature, but I never counted on fighting with arms," he said. "I always expected that a situation would arise in which the Central Committee would be compelled to negotiate with us, that it would move up and make room for us. . . ."
The ruse succeeded. The trial failed to establish that Zinoviev and Kamenev had participated directly in the plot to kill Kirov. Instead, they were found guilty only of carrying on anti-Soviet seditious activities. The verdict of the court stated: -
The trial did not bring to light any facts furnishing grounds for qualifying the acts of the members of the Moscow center in connection with the assassination of Comrade S. M. Kirov on December 1, 1934, as being a direct incitement to this heinous crime; nevertheless, the trial has completely confirmed the fact that the members of the counter-revolutionary Moscow center were aware of the terrorist sentiments of the Leningrad group and inflamed these sentiments. . . .
Zinoviev was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment, and Kamenev to five, for their conspiratorial activity.
The trial had only scratched the surface of the conspiracy. Among the many facts which the Leningrad trial failed to bring to light, perhaps the strangest were these: -
When Zinoviev and Kamenev were arrested, four agents of the Soviet secret police had brought them to NKVD headquarters.(7) The agents were Molchanov, Chief of the Secret Political Department of the NKVD; Pauker, Chief of the Operations Department; Volovich, Assistant Chief of the Operations Department; and Bulanov, Assistant to the Chairman of the NKVD.
In arresting Zinoviev and Kamenev, the four NKVD agents acted in a most extraordinary fashion. They not only failed to search the apartments of the, suspects for incriminating material; they actually permitted Zinoviev and Kamenev to destroy a number of incriminating documents. . . .
Still more remarkable were the records of these four NKVD agents.
Molchanov and Bulanov were themselves secret members of the Trotskyite-Right conspiratorial apparatus.
Pauker and Volovich were German agents.
These men had been specially picked to make the arrests by Henry G. Yagoda, the Chairman of the NKVD.
(1) Trotsky was then living at St. Palais, a small village at the foot of the Pyrenees in the South of France. In July, he had left Prinkipo. (He soon moved with his retinue of body guards and "secretaries" to a guarded villa near Paris.)
At the time Trotsky came to France, the French reactionaries and fascists were desperately striving to prevent the proposed Franco-Soviet collective security alliance.
The French Government, which gave Trotsky permission to enter France and establish his anti-Soviet headquarters in that country, was headed at the time by Edouard Daladier, whose appeasement policies, fulfilled at Munich, were to play so important a part in betraying France and the other anti-fascist nations of Europe into the hands of the Nazis. The French Radical Deputy Henri Guernot personally sponsored Trotsky's pleas to be admitted to France. The necessary arrangements were made by the Minister of the Interior, Camille Chautemps the dubious French politician who helped quash the investigation of the fascist Cagoulard conspiracy and later became vice-Premier of the first Pétain Cabinet. "You have had the kindness to call my attention to Mr. Leon Trotsky, exile of Russian origin, who has asked, for reasons of health, authorization to live in the Departments of the South . . , ," Minister of Interior Chautemps wrote Deputy Guernot. "I have the honor to inform you that . . . the interested party will obtain without difficulty, when he makes the request, a passport visa for France."
Among Trotsky's numerous other influential friends and sympathizers in France were: Jacques Doriot, the renegade French Communist and Nazi agent; and Marcel Déat, the one-time Socialist professor, Nazi agent, and, after the downfall of France, leading collaborationist.
Trotsky's presence in France was also approved by anti-Soviet elements in the French Intelligence Service and secret police. In April 1937, at the Hearings in Mexico, Trotsky declared: ". . . Monsieur Thome and Monsieur Cado, the general secretary of the police and the préfecture of the Department of Charente Inféricure - all the summits of the police were very well acquainted with my situation. It was the secret agent of the police who was informed of every step of mine."
(2) Vladimir Romm had been Tass correspondent in Tokyo, Geneva and Paris. He met Trotsky in Paris in 1933 by special appointment at a café in the Bois de Boulogne. After telling Romm that only "extreme measures" would enable the conspirators to gain their ends, Trotsky quoted a Latin proverb: "What medicine cannot heal, iron will heal, and what iron cannot heal, fire will heal." In 1934 Romm was appointed Tass correspondent in the United States. Before he left for America, Romm saw Sedov in Paris. Romm subsequently stated: "Sedov told me that in connection with my going to America, Trotsky had asked to be informed in case there was anything interesting in the sphere of Soviet-American relations. When I asked why this was so interesting, Sedov told me: `This follows from Trotsky's line on the defeat of the U.S.S.R. Inasmuch as the date of the war of Germany and Japan depends to a certain extent on the state of Soviet American relations, this cannot fail to be of interest to Trotsky."'
(3) On February 20, 1937, the Tokyo newspaper Miyako carried a report on a secret session of the "Planning and Budget Commission" of the Japanese Government. At this meeting, Deputy Yoshida asked General Sugiyama, Minister of War, whether he or the army had any information concerning the carrying capacity of the Soviet Siberian Railway. The War Minister answered in the affirmative, saying that the carrying capacity of the strategic Soviet railway was known to the Japanese High Command in full detail. General Sugiyama went on to say: "In Russia there are elements in opposition to the present government and it was precisely from them that we learned it." The publication of this statement in the newspaper Miyako was the occasion of a severe shake-up in Tokyo press circles. The newspaper was fined heavily by the Government for betraying confidential information and its chief news editor, Yaguchi Gilei, was forced to resign at the request of the War Department.
(4) The money paid by Shestov to Boyarshinov's murderer was part of a secret fund of 164,000 rubles which Trotskyite gunmen, operating under Shestov's directions, had stolen from the Anzherka State Bank. The fund had been established to help finance sabotage and terrorist activities in Siberia.
(5) The inner atmosphere of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center, despite its "political" facade, was reminiscent of New York's Murder, Inc., and similar gangs.
Bakayev, a former political assistant of Zinoviev in the Petrograd Soviet, was responsible for keeping the gunmen of the Terrorist Center in line. He had the job, given him by Zinoviev, of silencing any individuals who might betray the organization. In mid-1934, when an attempt to kill Stalin failed because the appointed assassin, Bogdan, lost his nerve at the decisive moment, Bakayev undertook to silence Bogdan. He visited Bogdan at the Tatter's apartment and spent the night with him. In the morning, after Bakayev left, Bogdan lay, dead on the floor of his living room with a bullet in his head and a gun beside his body. A letter, which Bakayev had forced him to write, was found in the room. It stated that Bogdan had committed suicide because of the "persecution" of the Trotsky-Zinoviev Opposition by the Soviet Government.
A member of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center, Isak Reingold, later testified that "both Zinoviev and Kamenev" had decided that when they took power they would place Bakayev in a key job in the OGPU. "By use of the OGPU machinery," testified Reingold, "he was to assist in covering the traces, in doing away with, in killing, not only the employees of the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs, the OGPU, who might be in possession of any threads of the conspiracy, but also the direct perpetrators of terrorist acts against Stalin and his immediate assistants. By the hand of Bakayev, the Trotskyite-"Zinovievite organization was to destroy its own activities, its own gunmen, who were involved in this matter."
(6) The assassination of Kirov was enthusiastically hailed by the Russian fascists, as well as by the Rights and Trotskyites. "Count" Anastase Vonsiatsky, ex-Czarist officer and Japanese agent in the United States, declared in the March 1935 issue of his paper, the Fascist, which was published in Thompson, Connecticut, U.S.A.: "Kirov is finished! Next shot must be aimed at Stalin - a signal to insurrection. . . . Not loud was the shot of our brother Nikolayev but it resounded throughout the world. . . Hats off, Russian people, before Nikolayev's grave. . . . Long live the immortal hero, Nikolayev!" For further details concerning Vonsiatsky and White Russian fascism, see page 345 ff.
(7) At the end of 1934, the NKVD (Department of Public Security) replaced the OGPU as the agency responsible for internal security affairs in the U.S.S.R.