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 War Comes West
BY 1935, plans for the joint German-Japanese attack on the Soviet Union were well advanced: The Japanese armies in Manchuria were staging repeated "probing" raids and sorties across the Soviet eastern border. The German High Command was carrying on secret negotiations with fascist Polish military circles for an anti-Soviet military alliance. The Nazi Fifth Columns were being readied in the Baltic and Balkan countries, in Austria and Czechoslovakia. Reactionary British and French diplomats were eagerly promoting Hitler's promised Drang nach Osten. . . .
On February 3, following discussions between the French Premier Pierre Laval and the British Foreign Secretary Sir John Simon, the French and British Governments announced their joint agreement to release Nazi Germany from certain of the disarmament provisions of the Treaty of Versailles.
On February 17 the London Observer commented: -
Why is Tokio diplomacy so busy at this moment in Warsaw and in Berlin?... Moscow supplies the answer... The relations between Germany, Poland and Japan become closer every day. In an emergency they would amount to an anti-Soviet alliance.
In the expectation that the arms were to be used against Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany's rearmament program was aided in every possible way by anti-Soviet statesmen in Great Britain and France...
On March 1, after a plebiscite preceded by an intensive Nazi terror and propaganda campaign among the residents of the district, the Saar with its vital coal mines was handed over from France to Nazi Germany.
On March 16 the Government of the Third Reich formally repudiated the Treaty of Versailles and communicated to the French, British, Polish and Italian Ambassadors in Berlin a Nazi decree proclaiming "universal military service" in Germany.
On April 13 Berlin announced its intention of creating an air fleet of heavy bombers.
On June 18, eleven days after Tory Stanley Baldwin became British Prime Minister, an Anglo-German naval accord was announced. Nazi Germany was given the right to construct a new navy and "to possess a submarine tonnage equal to the total submarine tonnage possessed by the Members of the British Commonwealth of Nations." The agreement was reached following an exchange of letters between Nazi Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and the new British Foreign Secretary, Sir Samuel Hoare.
On November 3 L'Echo de Paris reported a conference which had taken place between the Nazi banker, Dr. Hjalmar Schacht, the Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Montagu Norman, and the Governor of the Banque de France, M. Tannery. According to the French journal, Dr. Schacht declared at the conference: -
We have no intention to change our Western frontiers. Sooner or later Germany and Poland will share the Ukraine, but for the moment we shall be satisfied with making our strength felt over the Baltic provinces.
On November 11, the New York Herald Tribune observed: -
Premier Laval, who is also Foreign Minister, is a strong partisan of an agreement between the French Third Republic and the Nazi Third Reich, and is reported to be willing to scrap the Franco-Soviet pact, which has been signed but not ratified by the French Parliament for an agreement whereby the Hitler regime would guarantee France's eastern frontier in exchange for complete freedom of action in the Memel region and in the Ukraine.
In face of the growing war threat, the Soviet Government repeatedly called for united action by all countries menaced by fascist aggression. Again and again, before the League of Nations and in the capitals of Europe, Soviet Foreign Commissar Maxim Litvinov urged collective security and alliances between the non-aggressor nations. On May 2, 1935, the Soviet Government signed a Treaty of Mutual Assistance with the Government of France, and on May 16 a similar treaty with the Government of Czechoslovakia.
"War must appear to all as the threatening danger of tomorrow," Litvinov told the League of Nations. "The organization of peace, for which thus far very little has been done, must be set against the extremely active organization of war."
In October 1935, with the diplomatic blessing of Pierre Laval and Sir Samuel Hoare, the Italian Fascist armies of Mussolini invaded Ethiopia…
The Second World War, which had started when Japan attacked Manchuria in 1931, was coming West.(1)
On Soviet soil the secret fascist vanguard had already launched a major offensive against the war potential of the Red Army. In alliance with German and Japanese agents, the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites had begun their carefully planned, systematic campaign against Soviet industry, transport and agriculture. The objective was the undermining of the Soviet defense system in preparation for the coming war.
The campaign of total sabotage was being carried on under the expert supervision of Pyatakov, the Trotskyite Vice-Commissar of Heavy Industry.
"Terror is a drastic method," Pyatakov told a secret meeting of Rights and Trotskyites in Moscow, "but it is far from enough. It is necessary to undermine the achievements gained by the Soviet power, to undermine the prestige of Stalin's leadership, and to disorganize economic life... Activities must be developed in the most energetic fashion. We must act with the utmost determination. We must act energetically and persistently, and stop at nothing. All means are useful and fair-such is Trotsky's directive, which the Trotskyite Center subscribes to!"
By the fall of 1935, the operation of the sabotage units in strategic localities throughout the Soviet Union had been galvanized into an all-out effort. In the new heavy industries in the Urals, in the coal mines of the Donbas and Kuzbas, on the railroads, in the power plants and on construction jobs, the Trotskyite saboteurs under Pyatakov's direction were striking simultaneous and powerful blows at the most vital branches of Soviet production. Similar wrecking activities, supervised by Bukharin and other leaders of the Rights, were under way on the collective farms, in the co-operatives, and in government trade, finance and commerce agencies. German and Japanese Intelligence agents were directing many phases of the sabotage campaign.
These were some of the sabotage operations carried out by the German and Japanese agents, Rights and Trotskyites, as later described by the saboteurs themselves: -
Ivan Knyazev, Trotskyite and Japanese agent, executive on the Urals railroad system:
With regard to developing diversive and wrecking activities on the railways and the organization of the wrecking of trains I carried out instructions in full, since in this matter the instructions of the Japanese military intelligence service fully coincided with the instructions I had received somewhat earlier from the Trotskyite organization... ,
On October 27... a train wreck took place at Shumikha... a troop train... this was the work of our organization... The train, travelling at high speed, about 40 or 50 kilometers an hour, sped off down the eighth track, on which a freight train of ore was standing. Twenty-nine Red Army men [were killed), and twenty-nine were also injured... From thirteen to fifteen wrecks were organized directly by us...
The Japanese intelligence service strongly stressed the necessity of using bacteriological means in time of war with the object of contaminating troop trains, canteens and army sanitary centres with highly virulent bacilli...
Leonid Serebryakov, Trotskyite, Assistant Chief of the Railroads Administration: -
We set ourselves a very concrete and definite task: to disrupt freight traffic, to reduce daily loadings by increasing the runs of empty cars, by refraining from increasing the very low running norms for cars and engines, and by refraining from making full use of the traction power and capacity of engines, and so forth.
... on Pyatakov's proposal Livshitz [a Trotskyite and Japanese agent] came to see me at the Central Road Motor Transport Administration. He was the Chief of the Southern Railway... He informed me that on the Southern Railway he had an assistant, Zorin, who could develop this activity... Livshitz and I discussed the matter and came to the conclusion that in addition to the actions of the organizations in the center and in the provinces, the effect of which would be to cause confusion and chaos on the railways, it was also necessary to insure the possibility of blocking the most important railway junctions in the first days of mobilization by creating on them such jams as would lead to the dislocation of the transport system and reduce the capacity of the railway junctions.
Alexei Shestov, Trotskyite and Nazi agent, member of the Board of Eastern and Siberian Coal Trust: -
In the Prokopyevek Mines the chamber-and-pillar system was employed without filling in the worked-out cavity. As a result of this system we had over 50 per cent loss of coal instead of the usual 15-20 per cent. Secondly, as a result of this, we had about sixty underground fires in the Prokopyevek Mines up to the end of 1935.
…deepening of the shafts was begun at the wrong time, in particular in the Molotov Pit; the hundred-metre level of the "Koksovaya" Pit was deliberately left unworked from 1933 onwards, and the deepening of the "Meneikha" Pit was not begun at the right time... in the installation of the equipment and in the installation of the underground power station and of other machinery, disruptive work was performed on a large scale...
Stanislav Rataichak, Trotskyite and Nazi agent, chief of the Central Administration o f the Chemical Industry: -
In accordance with my instructions... three breakdowns were arranged, one diversive act at the Gorlovka Works and two other breakdowns - one at the Nevsky Works and the other at the Voskressensk Combined Chemical Works...
Yakov Drobnis, Trotskyite, Assistant Chief at the Kemerovo Works: -
Since the end of July 1934, I was put in charge of all the wrecking and diversive activities in the whole of the Kuzbas... I lived in Central Asia throughout 1933 and left in May 1934 because the Trotskyite center decided to transfer me to Western Siberia. Since Pyatakov was in a position to transfer me from one job in industry to another, this problem could be solved very easily...
One of the wrecking tasks in the plan was to diffuse funds on measures of secondary importance. Another was to delay construction work in such a way as to prevent the launching of important departments on the dates fixed by the government...
The district power plant was put into such a state that, if it were deemed necessary for wrecking purposes, and when the order was given, the mine could be flooded. In addition, coal was supplied that was technically unsuitable for fuel, and this led to explosions. This was done quite deliberately... a number of workers were seriously injured.
Mikhail Chernov, member of the Rights, agent of German Military Intelligence, Commissar of Agriculture of the U.S.S.R.: -
The German intelligence service made a special point of the organization of wrecking activities in the sphere of horsebreeding in order... , not to provide horses for the Red Army. As regards seed, we included in our program muddling-up seed affairs, mixing up assorted seed and thus lowering the harvest yield in the country...
As regards stock breeding, the aim was to kill off pedigree breed-stock and to strive for high cattle mortality to prevent the development of fodder resources and especially to infect cattle artificially with various kinds of bacteria...
In order to cause heavy cattle mortality, in Eastern. Siberia, I instructed Ginsburg, Chief of the Veterinary Department, who belonged to the organization of the Rights... not to supply anti-anthrax serum to Eastern Siberia... when there was an outbreak there of anthrax in 1936 it turned out that no serum was available, with the result that I cannot say how many exactly, but at any rate over 25,000 horses perished.
Vasily Sharangovich, member of the Rights, Polish secret agent, Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Byelorussia: -
2. A Letter from Trotsky
I engaged in wrecking activities chiefly in the sphere of agriculture. In 1932 we, and I personally, developed extensive wrecking work in this sphere. Firstly, by slowing down the pace of collectivization...
Furthermore we arranged for the undermining of the grain collection plans... , we took measures to spread plague among pigs, which resulted in a high pig mortality; this was done by inoculating pigs against plague in a wrecking fashion.
... In 1936 we caused a wide outbreak of anemia among horses in Byelorussia. This was done intentionally, because in Byelorussia horses are extremely important for defense purposes. We endeavored to undermine this powerful base in case it should be needed in connection with war.
As far as I can remember, 30,000 horses perished owing to this measure...
At the end of 1935, with war looming ever closer, a long awaited letter from Trotsky was delivered by special courier to Karl Radek in Moscow. It came from Norway.(2) With great anticipation Radek unfolded and began to read the letter. On eight pages of fine English paper, Trotsky outlined the details of the secret agreement he was at last about to conclude with the Governments of Germany and Japan.
After a preamble stressing the "victory of German fascism" and the imminence of "international war," the letter reached its main topic: -
There are two possible variants of our coming into power. The first variant is the possibility of our coming into power before a war, and the second variant, during a war...
It must be admitted that the question of power will become a practical issue for the Bloc only as a result of the defeat of the U.S.S.R. in war. For this the Bloc must make energetic preparations...
From now on, wrote Trotsky, "the diversive acts of the Trotskyites in the war industries" would have to be carried out under the direct "supervision of the German and Japanese High Commands." The Trotskyites must undertake no "practical activity" without first having obtained the consent of their German and Japanese allies.
To secure the full backing of Germany and Japan, without which "it would be absurd to think we can come to power," the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites must be prepared to make considerable concessions. Trotsky named them: -
Germany needs raw materials, foodstuffs and markets. We shall have to permit her to take part in the exploitation of ore, manganese, gold, oil, apatites, and to undertake to supply her for a definite period with foodstuffs and fats at less than world prices.
We shall have to yield the oil of Sakhalin to Japan and to guarantee to supply her with oil in case of a war with America. We shall also have to permit her to exploit gold-fields.
We shall have to agree to Germany's demand not to oppose her seizure of the Danube countries and the Balkans, and riot to hinder Japan in her seizure of China... We shall inevitably have to make territorial concessions. We shall have to yield the Maritime Province and Amur region to Japan, and the Ukraine to Germany.
Trotsky's letter then outlined the kind of Russian regime which would be established after the overthrow of the Soviet Government: -
It must be understood that without to a certain extent bringing the social structure of the U.S.S.R. in line with that of the capitalist states, the government of the bloc will be unable to maintain itself in power...
The admission of German and Japanese capital for the exploitation of the U.S.S.R. will create important capitalist interests on Soviet territory. Those strata in the villages which have not outlived the capitalist psychology and are dissatisfied with the collective farms will gravitate towards them. The Germans and the Japanese will demand that we relieve the atmosphere in the rural districts; we shall therefore have to make concessions and allow the dissolution of the collective farms or withdraw from the collective farms.
Politically, as well as territorially and economically, there would have to be drastic changes in the new Russia: -
There can be no talk of any kind of democracy. The working class has lived through eighteen years of revolution, and it has vast appetites; and this working class will have to be sent back partly to privately owned factories and to state owned factories which will have to compete with foreign capital under most difficult conditions. That means that the living standards of the working class will be drastically lowered. In the countryside the struggle of the poor and middleclass peasants against the kulaks will be renewed. And then, in order to hold power, we shall need a strong government, irrespective of what forms are employed to veil it.
Trotsky's letter concluded: -
We have to accept everything, but if we remain alive and in power, then owing to the victory of these two countries (Germany and Japan) and as a result of their plunder and profit a conflict will arise between them and others, and this will lead to our new development, our "Revanche."
Radek read Trotsky's letter with mixed feelings. "After I read these directives," he later said, "I thought them over at night... it was clear to me that although the directives contained all the elements which had formerly been present, yet these elements had now so matured that... what Trotsky proposed was without any limits... We ceased to be in any degree master of our own actions."
The following morning Radek showed Trotsky's letter to Pyatakov. "It is necessary to meet with Trotsky by one way or another," said Pyatakov. He himself was about to leave the Soviet Union on official business, and would be in Berlin for a few days. Radek should send off an urgent message informing Trotsky of Pyatakov's trip and asking Trotsky to contact him in Berlin as soon as possible.
3. A Flight to Oslo
Pyatakov reached Berlin on December 10, 1935. Radek's message to Trotslcy had preceded him, and a courier was waiting to contact Pyatakov as soon as he arrived in the Nazi capital. The courier was Dmitri Bukhartsev, a Trotskyite who was the Izvestia correspondent in Berlin. Bukhartsev told Pyatakov that a man named Stirner was bringing word from Trotsky. Stirner, the courier explained, was "Trotsky's man" in Berlin.(3)
Pyatakov went with Bukharstev to one of the lanes in the Tiergarten. A man was waiting for them. It was "Stirner." He handed Pvatakov a note from Trotsky. It read: "Y. L. [Pyatakov's initials], the bearer of this note can be fully trusted."
In a manner as terse as the note he delivered, Stirner stated that Trotsky was very anxious to see Pyatakov and had instructed him to make the necessary arrangements. Was Pyatakov prepared to travel by airplane to Oslo, Norway?
Pyatakov fully understood the risk of exposure involved in such a trip. However, he had made up his mind to see Trotsky at all costs. He said he was willing to make the flight. Stirner told Pyatakov to be at the Tempelhof Airport the following morning.
When Pyatakov asked about a passport, Stirner replied, "Don't worry. I will arrange the matter. I have connections in Berlin."
At the appointed hour, next morning, Pyatakov went to the Tempelhof Airport. Stirner was waiting at the entrance. He indicated that Pyatakov was to follow him. As they walked towards the airfield, Stirner showed Pyatakov the passport which had been prepared for him. It was issued by the Government of Nazi Germany.
At the airfield, a plane was waiting, ready to take off...
That afternoon the plane settled down over a landing field near the city of Oslo in Norway. An automobile was waiting for Pyatakov and Stirner. They were driven in the car for half an hour, until they reached a country suburb in the environs of Oslo. The car stopped in front of a small house.
Inside the house, Trotsky was waiting to receive his old friend.
The years of embittered exile had changed the man whom Pyatakov regarded as his leader. Trotsky looked older than his fifty-odd years. His hair and beard were gray. He stooped. Behind his pince-nez his eyes glittered with an almost maniacal intensity.
Few words were wasted on greetings. At Trotsky's orders, he and Pyatakov were left alone in the house. The conversation which followed lasted two hours.
Pyatakov began by making a report on the state of affairs inside Russia. Trotsky continually interrupted him with sharp, sarcastic comments.
"You can't break away from Stalin's navel cord!" he exclaimed. "You take Stalin's construction for socialist construction!"
Trotsky berated Pyatakov and his other Russian followers for talking too much and accomplishing too little. "Of course," said Trotsky angrily, "you over there are spending too much time discussing international problems; you would do better to devote yourselves to those affairs of yours which are going so badly! As for international affairs, I know more about these things than you do!"
Trotsky repeated his conviction that the collapse of Stalin's state was inevitable. Fascism would not tolerate much longer the development of Soviet power.
The Trotskyites in Russia were faced with this choice: either they would "perish in the ruins of the Stalin state," or they must immediately galvanize all their energies in an all-out effort to overthrow the Stalin regime. There must be no hesitation about accepting the guidance and assistance of the German and Japanese High Commands in this crucial struggle.
A military clash between the Soviet Union and the Fascist Powers was inevitable, Trotsky added, not at some remote time in the future, but soon - very soon. "The date of the outbreak of the war has already been fixed," said Trotsky. "It will be in 1937."
It was clear to Pyatakov that Trotsky had not invented this information. Trotsky now revealed to Pyatakov that for some time past he had been "conducting rather lengthy negotiations with the Vice-Chairman of the German National Socialist Party , Hess."
As a result of these negotiations with Adolf Hitler's deputy, Trotsky had entered into an agreement, "an absolutely definite agreement," with the Government of the Third Reich. The Nazis were ready to help the Trotskyites to come to power in the Soviet Union.
"It goes without saying," Trotsky sky told Pyatakov, "that such a favorable attitude is not due to any, particular love for the Trotskyites. It simply proceeds from the real interests of the fascists and from what we have promised to do for them if we come to power."
Concretely, the agreement which Trotsky had entered into with the Nazis consisted of five points. In return for Germany's assistance in bringing the Trotskyites to power in Russia, Trotsky had agreed: -
(1) to guarantee a generally favourable attitude towards the German government and the necessary collaboration with it in the most important questions of international character;
(2) to agree to territorial concessions [the Ukraine];
(3) to permit German industrialists, in the form of concessions (or some other forms), to exploit enterprises in the U.S.S.R. essential as complements to German economy (iron ore, manganese, oil, gold, timber, etc.);
(4) to create in the U.S.S.R. favourable conditions for the activities of German private enterprise;
(5) in time of war to develop extensive diversive activities in enterprises of the war industry and at the front. These diversive activities to be carried on under Trotsky's instructions, agreed upon with the German General Staff.
Pyatakov, as Trotsky's chief lieutenant in Russia, was concerned that this out-and-out deal with Nazism might be difficult to explain to the rank-and-file members of the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites.
"Program questions must not be put before the rank-and-file members of the Bloc in all their scope," Trotsky impatiently declared. "It would only scare them."
The organization as a whole was to know nothing about the detailed agreement which had been reached with the Fascist Powers. "It is neither possible nor expedient to make it public," said Trotsky, "or even to communicate it to any considerable number of Trotskyites. Only a very small, restricted group of people can be informed about it at this time."
Trotsky kept stressing the urgency of the time factor.
"It is a matter of a comparatively short period," he insisted. "If we miss this opportunity, the danger will arise, on the one hand, of the complete liquidation of Trotskyism in the country, and, on the other hand, of the existence of that monstrosity, the Stalin state, for decades, supported by certain economic achievements, and particularly by the new, young cadres who have grown up and have been brought up to take this state for granted, to regard it as a socialist, Soviet state - they don't think of any other state and they cannot conceive of any! Our task is to oppose ourselves to that state."
"Look," concluded Trotsky as the time for Pyatakov's departure drew near, "there was a time when we Socialist Democrats all regarded the development of capitalism as a progressive, as a positive phenomenon... But we had different tasks, namely, to organize the struggle against capitalism, to rear its grave-diggers. And so now we should go into the service of the Stalin state, not however to help build that state, but to become its grave-diggers, therein lies our task!"
At the end of two hours, Pyatakov left Trotsky in the small house on the outskirts of Oslo and returned to Berlin as he had come, by privately chartered plane, and carrying a Nazi passport.
4. Zero Hour
The Second World War, which Trotsky predicted would strike Soviet Russia in 1937, had already reached Europe. Following Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia, events had moved swiftly. In June 1936, Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland. In July, the Fascists struck in Spain with a Putsch of Spanish officers against the Republican Government. Under the pretext of "combating Bolshevism" and suppressing a "Communist revolution," German and Italian troops landed in Spain to aid the officers' revolt. The Spanish Fascist leader, Generalissimo Francisco Franco, marched on Madrid. "Four columns are marching on Madrid," boasted the drunken Fascist General Quiepo de Llano. "A Fifth Column is waiting to greet us inside the city!" It was the first time the world heard the fateful phrase - "Fifth Column."(4)
Adolf Hitler, addressing thousands of troops at the Nuremberg Nazi Party Congress on September 12, publicly proclaimed his intention of invading the Soviet Union.
"We are ready at any hour!" cried Hitler. "I cannot permit ruined states on my doorstep!... If I had the Ural Mountains with their incalculable store of treasures in raw materials, Siberia with its vast forests, and the Ukraine with its tremendous wheat fields, Germany and the National Socialist leadership would swim in plenty!"
On November 25, 1936, the Nazi Foreign Minister Ribbentrop and the Japanese Ambassador to Germany, M. Mushakoji, signed the Anti-Comintern Agreement in Berlin, pledging their combined forces to a joint attack against "World Bolshevism."
Aware of the imminent war danger, the Soviet Government initiated a sudden counteroffensive against the enemy within its own borders. During the spring and summer of 1936, in a series of startling raids throughout the country, the Soviet authorities swooped down on Nazi spies, secret Trotskyite and Right organizers, terrorists and saboteurs. In Siberia a Nazi agent named Emil Stickling was arrested, and found to have been directing sabotage activities in the Kemerovo mines in collaboration with Alexei Shestov and other Trotskyites. In Leningrad, another Nazi agent, Valentine Olberg, was seized. Olberg was not only a Nazi agent, he was one of Trotsky's special emissaries. He had contact with Fritz David, Nathan Lurye, Konon Berman-Yurin and other terrorists. One after another, the leaders of the first "layer" of the conspiracy were being tracked down.
A coded message which Ivan Smirnov had smuggled out of prison to his co-conspirators was intercepted by the Soviet authorities. The Trotskyite terrorists Ephraim Dreitzer and Sergei Mrachkovsky were arrested.
A mood of feverish anxiety gripped the Russian conspirators. Now everything depended on the attack from without. Yagoda's efforts to hamstring the official investigation were becoming increasingly reckless. "It looks as if Yezhov is getting at the bottom of the Leningrad affair!" Yagoda furiously told his secretary, Bulanov.
One of Yagoda's own men a NKVD agent named Borisov, was abruptly summoned to the special investigation headquarters at the Smolny Institute in Leningrad for questioning. Borisov had played a leading part in the prearrangements for the murder of Kirov. Yagoda acted in desperation. While driving to the Smolny Institute, Borisov was killed in an "automobile accident."...
But the elimination of a single witness was not enough. The official investigation went on. Daily, new arrests were reported. Piece by piece the Soviet authorities were fitting together the intricate jigsaw of conspiracy, treason and murder. By August, almost all the leading members of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center were under arrest. The Soviet Government announced that sensational new evidence had been brought to light as the result of the special investigation into Kirov's murder. Kamenev and Zinoviev were to stand trial again.
The trial began on August 19, 1936, in the October Hall of the House of Trade-Unions in Moscow, before the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R. Zinoviev and Kamenev, brought from prison where they were still serving their terms on previous convictions, faced the court along with fourteen of their former associates on charges of treason. The other accused included the one-time leaders of Trotsky's Guard, Ivan Smirnov, Sergei Mrachkovsky and Ephraim Dreitzer; Zinoviev's secretary, Grigori Evdokimov, and his aide, Ivan Bakayev; and five of Trotsky's special terrorist emissaries, Fritz David, Nathan Lurye, Moissei Lurye, Konon Berman-Yurin and Valentine Olberg.
The trial - the first of the so-called "Moscow Trials" - exposed and smashed the Terrorist Center, the first layer of the conspiratorial apparatus. At the same time it established that the plot against the Soviet regime went much further and involved far more important forces than the Trotskyite-Zinovievite terrorists on trial.
As the trial proceeded, the public got its first glimpse of the intimate relationship that had developed between Leon Trotsky and the leaders of Nazi Germany. The examination by Soviet Prosecutor A. Y. Vyshinsky of Valentine Olberg, the German Trotskyite who had been sent into the Soviet Union by Trotsky himself, brought some startling facts to light: -
What do you know about Friedmann?
Friedmann was a member of the Berlin Trotskyite organization who was also sent to the Soviet Union.
Are you aware of the fact that Friedmann was connected with the German secret police?
I had heard about that.
Connections between the German Trotskyites and the German police - was that systematic?
Yes, it was systematic and it was done with Trotsky's consent.
How do you know that it was done with Trotsky's knowledge and consent?
One of the lines of connection was maintained by myself. My connection was established with the sanction of Trotsky.
Your personal connection with whom? OLBERG. With the fascist secret police.
So it can be said that you yourself admit connections with the Gestapo?
I do not deny this. In 1933 there began organized systematic connection between the German Trotskyites and the German fascist police.
Olberg described to the court how he had obtained the forged South American passport with which he had entered the Soviet Union. He had, he said, obtained it through "Tukalevskky,(5) an agent of the German secret police in Prague." Olberg added that in getting this passport he had received some assistance from his brother, Paul Olberg.
"Did your brother have any connection with the Gestapo?" asked Vyshinsky.
"He was Tukalevsky's agent."
"An agent of the fascist police?"
"Yes," said Olberg.
Trotsky's emissary, Nathan Lurye, told the court how he had received instructions before leaving Germany that upon his arrival in the Soviet Union he should work with the German engineer-architect, Franz Weizz.
"Who is Franz Weitz?" asked Vyshinsky.
"Franz Weitz was a member of the National Socialist Party of Germany," said Lurye. "He arrived in the U.S.S.R. on the instructions of Himmler who at that time was chief of the S.S. and subsequently became chief of the Gestapo."
"Franz Weitz was his representative?"
"Franz Weitz arrived in the U.S.S.R. on the instructions of Himmler for the purpose of committing terroristic acts."
But it was not until Kamenev testified, that the leaders of the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites realized their situation was desperate. Kamenev betrayed the existence of the other "layers" of the conspiratorial apparatus.
"Knowing that we might be discovered," Kamenev told the court, "we designated a small group to continue our terroristic activities. For this purpose we designated Sokolnikov. It seemed to us that on the side of the Trotskyites this role could be successfully performed by Serebryakov and Radek... In 1932, 1933 and 1934 I personally maintained relations with Tomsky and Bukharin and sounded their political sentiments. They sympathized with us. When I asked Tomsky about Rykov's frame of mind, he replied: `Rykov thinks the same as you do.' In reply to my question as to what Bukharin thought, he said: `Bukharin thinks the same as I do but is pursuing somewhat different tactics: he does not agree with the line of the Party, but is pursuing tactics of persistently enrooting himself in the Party and winning the personal confidence of the leadership.' '
Some of the accused pleaded for mercy. Others seemed resigned to their fate. "The political importance and the past of each of us were not the same," said Ephraim Dreitzer, a former leader of Trotsky's bodyguard. "But having become assassins, we have all become equals here. I, at any rate, am one of those who have no right to expect or to ask for mercy."
In his last words, the terrorist Fritz David cried out: "I curse Trotsky! I curse that man who ruined my life and pushed me into heinous crime!"
On the evening of August 23 the Military Collegium of the Soviet Supreme Court handed down its verdict. Zinoviev, Kamenev, Smirnov, and the thirteen other members of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite-Terrorist Bloc were sentenced to be shot for their terrorist and treasonous activities.
A week later, Pyatakov, Radek, Sokolnikov and Serebryakov were arrested. On September 27, Henry Yagoda was removed from his post as Chairman of the NKVD. His place was taken by N. I. Yezhov, the head of the special investigatory committee of the Central Control Commission of the Bolshevik Party. The day before he was moved out of the NKVD offices, Yagoda made a last wild attempt to poison his successor, Yezhov. The attempt failed.
It was zero hour for the Russian conspirators. The Right leaders, Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky, were expecting their own arrests daily. They demanded immediate action without waiting for war. The panic-stricken Right trade-union chief, Tomsky, proposed an immediate armed attack on the Kremlin. It was dismissed as too risky. The forces were not ready for such an open venture.
At a final meeting of the chief leaders of the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites, just before Pyatakov and Radek went to prison, it was decided to prepare for an armed coup d'état. The organization of this coup, and direction of the entire conspiratorial apparatus, were placed in the hands of Nicolai Krestinsky, the Assistant Commissar of Foreign Affairs. Krestinsky had not exposed himself as the others had, was unlikely to be suspected, and had maintained close connections with Trotsky and the Germans. He would be able to carry on even if Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky were arrested.
As his deputy and second-in-command, Krestinsky selected Arkady Rosengoltz, who recently had returned to Moscow from Berlin where for many years he had headed the Soviet Foreign Trade Commission. A tall, fair, athletic-looking man, who had held important posts in the Soviet administration, Rosengoltz had kept his Trotskyite affiliations a careful secret. Only Trotsky and Krestinsky knew Rosengoltz's role as a Trotskyite and as a paid agent of the German Military Intelligence since 1923...(6)
From this time on, direct control of the Bloc of the Rights and Trotskyites was in the hands of two Trotskyites who were both German agents: Krestinsky and Rosengoltz. After a lengthy discussion, they both decided that the time had come for the Russian Fifth Column to play its last card.
The last card was the military Putsch. The man who had been chosen to lead the armed rising was Marshal Tukhachevsky, Assistant Defense Commissar of the U.S.S.R.
(1) Trotsky instructed his followers inside Russia to make every effort to undermine the attempts of the Soviet Government to achieve collective security. Early in 1935 Christian Rakovsky, the Trotskyite and Japanese agent who had formerly been the Soviet Ambassador to London and Paris, received in Moscow a letter from Trotsky emphasizing the necessity "of internationally isolating the Soviet Union." In dealing with foreign countries, wrote Trotsky, the Russian conspirators must take into account the various political elements. In the case of the "Left elements abroad," it was necessary "to play on their pacifist sentiments." With the "Right elements abroad," the problem was simpler: "Their sentiments against the Soviet Union are quite clear and definite," declared Trotsky. "With them we can speak frankly."
In May 1935, a French delegation visited Moscow to discuss the FrancoSoviet Pact. Accompanying the mission was Emil Bure, the editor of the influential right-wing Paris newspaper L'Ordre, with whom Rakovsky had been friendly when he was Ambassador to France. Rakovsky went to see Bure at the Hotel Metropole in Moscow. He told Bure that the FrancoSoviet Pact was fraught with danger and might easily lead to a "preventive war on the part of Germany." He added that this was not only his opinion but that of a large number of high-placed diplomats and other officials in the Soviet Union.
To Rakovsky's chagrin, Bure told him that he was unshakably opposed to any attempt to appease Nazi Germany. "France," Bure told Rakovsky, "cannot remain isolated in the face of the growing militarization of Germany. The aggressor must be put in a strait-jacket; that is the only means to crush war."
But the Bures, unfortunately, were not entirely in control of French foreign policy. The head of the French mission in Moscow was Pierre Laval...
2. In June 1935 the Popular Front Government of France expelled Leon Trotsky from French soil. Trotsky went to Norway, where he set up his third headquarters-in-exile in a remote, guarded mansion on the outskirts of Oslo. The Workers' Party of Norway, a secessionist group from the Comintern, was a powerful political factor in Norway at the time and facilitated Trotsky's entry. Trotsky's own followers in Norway were conducting an intensive anti-Soviet propaganda campaign. On the extreme right in Norwegian politics at this time, the anti-Communist Nasjonal Samling (National Unity Party), headed by the ex-War Minister, Major Vidkun Quisling, was carrying on similar, violent anti-Soviet agitation.
Major Vidkun Quisling had once served as the Norwegian Military Attache in Leningrad. In 1922-1923, he was sent on "diplomatic" assignments in the Ukraine and the Crimea. He married a White Russian woman. In 1927, when the British Government broke off relations with Soviet Russia, Major Quisling, then secretary of the Norwegian Legation in Moscow, was placed in charge of British interests in Russia. For his services at that time, Quisling was subsequently made an Honorary Commander of the British Empire.
In 1930 the Soviet Government refused to permit Quisling to re-enter Soviet Russia on the grounds that he had been carrying on subversive activities on Soviet soil.
After an end had been put to his "diplomatic" activities in the Soviet Union, Quisling began organizing a pseudo-radical group in Norway, which soon became openly fascist. Before long, Quisling himself was a secret agent of the German Military Intelligence, and the leader of Norway's Fifth Column, which included as one of its important elements the Trotskyites.
It, Norway, as in every other country where Trotskyite cells were organized, many of the rank-and-file Trotskyites had no knowledge of the secret links between the Trotskyite leadership and the Axis Intelligence Services. To the end, Trotsky managed to attract numbers of "world-revolutionists" who believed in his integrity. These individuals were very useful to Trotsky both as anti-Soviet propagandists and organizers and as apologists for the Trotskyite cause.
3. "Stirner" was merely another pseudonym for Trotsky's "secretary," the international spy Karl Reich, alias Johanson.
4. At the time of the Axis-supported Franco uprising in Spain, 1936-1938, Andreas Nin headed an ultra-leftist, pro-Trotsky Spanish organization called the Partido Obrero de Unifacion Marxista, or P.O.U.M. Officially, the P.O.U.M. was not affiliated with Trotsky's Fourth International. Its ranks, however, were permeated with Trotskyites; and on major issues, such as its attitude toward the Soviet Union and the Popular Front, the P.O.U.M. strictly adhered to the policies of Leon Trotsky.
At the time of the Franco revolt, Trotsky's friend Nin was Minister of Justice in Catalonia. While giving lip-service to the anti-fascist cause, Nin's P.O.U.M. carried on endless propaganda and agitation against tile Spanish Republican Government during the hostilities in Spain. At first it was believed that Nin's oppositionist activities were of a purely "political" character, since P.O.U.M. members advanced "revolutionary" explanations for their opposition to the Spanish Government. But when the P.O.U.M. staged an abortive revolt in Barcelona behind the Loyalist lines in the crucial sunimer of 1937 and called for "resolute action to overthrow the Government," it was discovered that Nin and the other P.O.U.M. leaders were actually fascist agents working with Franco and that they had been carrying on a systematic campaign of sabotage, espionage and terrorism against tile Spanish Government.
On October 23, 1937, the Chief of the Barcelona Police, Lieutenant Colonel Burillo, made public the details of the P.O.U.M. conspiracy which had been uncovered in Catalonia. Secret documents seized by the Barcelona police established that P.O.U.M. members had been carrying on extensive espionage for the fascists; that they had interfered with the transport of supplies to the Spanish Republican Army; and that they had sabotaged military operations at the front. "The attempts against the lives of outstanding figures in the People's Army were still under consideration," Lieutenant Colonel Burillo went on to say in his report. "In addition, the organization was being continued for a planned attempt against the life of a Minister of the Republic..."
5. Not to be confused with General Tukhachevsky.
6. Rosengoltz had served as a Red Army commander during the war of intervention. After the war, he had been sent to Berlin as commercial agent at the Soviet Embassy. In 1923, Trotsky put him in touch with the German Military Intelligence. In return for money, which went to finance the illegal Trotskyite work, Rosengoltz supplied the Germans with secret data concerning the Soviet air force to which Trotsky, as War Commissar, then had access. Rosengoltz took no open part in the Trotskyite Opposition. In 1934, Bessonov brought him a message from Trotsky advising him that the time had come to act less cautiously and to begin "active wrecking work in the sphere of foreign trade." Rosengoltz was Commissar of Foreign Trade at the Soviet Trade Commission in Berlin. For a short period, he was able to steer Soviet trade into channels beneficial to Nazi Germany and, later, to Japan. Early in 1936, Rosengoltz had been recalled to Moscow.