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was an officer in the Red Army in the Soviet Far
East in 1937--1938. His book, Dal'nevostochnyi zagovor (Far-Eastern
conspiracy), showed that there
did in fact exist a large conspiracy within the army.
, p. 255, n. 84.
Journalist Alexander Werth
wrote in his book Moscow 41 a chapter
entitled, `Trial of
`I am also pretty sure that the purge in the Red Army had a great deal to do
with Stalin's belief in an imminent war with Germany. What did
stand for? People of the French Deuxieme Bureau told me long ago
was pro-German. And the Czechs told me the extraordinary
visit to Prague, when towards the end of the
banquet --- he had got rather drunk --- he blurted out that an agreement
was the only hope for both Czechoslovakia and Russia. And he
then proceeded to abuse Stalin. The Czechs did not fail to report this to
the Kremlin, and that was the end of
--- and of so many of his
Harpal Brar, Perestroika: The Complete Collapse of Revisionism
(London: Harpal Brar, 1992), p. 161.
The U.S. Ambassador Moscow,
wrote his impressions
on on June 28 and July 4, 1937:
`(T)he best judgment seems to believe that in all probability there was
a definite conspiracy in the making looking to a coup d'état
by the army --- not necessarily anti-Stalin, but antipolitical and
antiparty, and that Stalin struck with characteristic speed, boldness
, p. 99.
`Had a fine talk with
I told him quite frankly the reactions
in U.S. and western Europe to the purges; and to the executions of the
Red Army generals; that it definitely was bad ....
was very frank. He stated that they had to ``make sure''
through these purges that there was no treason left which could
co-operate with Berlin or Tokyo; that someday the world would
understand that what they had done was to protect the government from
``menacing treason.'' In fact, he said they were doing the whole
world a service in protecting themselves against the menace of
and Nazi world domination, and thereby preserving the Soviet Union
strong as a bulwark against the Nazi threat. That the world would
appreciate what a very great man Stalin was.'
, p. 103.
In 1937, Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov
was working for the Central Commitee
of the Bolshevik Party. A bourgeois nationalist, he had close ties to
opposition leaders and with the Central Committee members from the
Caucausus. In his book The Reign of Stalin, he regrets that
did not seize power in 1937. He claims that early in
1937, after his trip to England,
spoke to his superior
officers as follows:
`The great thing about His Britannic Majesty's Army is that there
could not be a Scotland Yard agent at its head (allusion to the rôle
played by state security in the USSR). As for cobblers (allusion to
Stalin's father), they belong in the supply depots, and they don't
need a Party card. The British don't talk readily about patriotism,
because it seems to them natural to be simply British. There is no
political ``line'' in Britain, right, left or centre; there is just
British policy, which every peer and worker, every conservative and
member of the Labour Party, every officer and soldier, is equally
zealous in serving .... The British soldier is completely ignorant
of Party history and production figures, but on the other hand he
knows the geography of the world as well as he knows his own barracks
.... The King is loaded with honours, but he has no personal power
.... Two qualities are called for in an officer --- courage and
The Reign of Stalin (Westport,
Conn.: Hyperion Press, p. 1975), p. 50.
was the French Ambassador to Moscow in 1936--1938. In his
memoirs, he recalled the Terror of the French Revolution that crushed the
aristocrats in 1792 and prepared the French people for war against the
reactionary European states. At the time, the enemies of the French
Revolution, particularly England and Russia, had interpreted the revolutionary
terror as a precursor of the disintegration of the régime. In fact,
the opposite was true. The same thing,
wrote, was taking place
with the Soviet Revolution.
arrest, the minister of Lithuania, who knew a number
of Bolshevik leaders, told me that the marshal, upset by the brakes imposed
by the Communist Party on the development of Russian military power, in
particular of a sound organization of the army, had in fact become the head
of a movement that wanted to strangle the Party and institute a military
`My correspondence can testify that I gave the ``Soviet terror'' its correct
interpretation. It should not be concluded, I constantly wrote, that the
régime is falling apart or that the Russian forces are tiring. It is in
fact the opposite, the crisis of a country that is growing too
De Staline à
Souvenirs de deux ambassades,
1936--1939 (Paris: Hachette, 1950), pp. 182--184.
wrote in his memoirs that
`had received an offer from
to respect in all circumstances the integrity of Czechoslovakia
in return for a guarantee that she would remain neutral in the event of
a Franco-German war.'
`In the autumn of 1936, a message from a high military source in Germany
was conveyed to President
to the effect that if he wanted to take
advantage of the Fuehrer's offer, he had better be quick, because
events would shortly take place in Russia rendering any help he could
give to Germany insignificant.
was pondering over this disturbing hint, he became aware
that communications were passing through the Soviet Embassy in Prague
between important personages in Russia and the German Government. This
was a part of the so-called military and Old-Guard Communist conspiracy
to overthrow Stalin and introduce a new régime based on a pro-German
lost no time in communicating all he could find
out to Stalin. Thereafter there followed the merciless, but perhaps not
needless, military and political purge in Soviet Russia ....
`The Russian Army was purged of its pro-German elements at a heavy cost
to its military efficiency. The bias of the Soviet Government was
turned in a marked manner against Germany .... The situation was, of
course, thoroughly understood by
but I am not aware that the
British and French Governments were equally enlightened. To Mr.\
and the British and French General Staffs the purge of 1937
presented itself mainly as a tearing to pieces internally of the Russian
Army, and a picture of the Soviet Union as riven asunder by ferocious
hatreds and vengeance.'
Winston S. Churchill,
The Second World War: The Gathering Storm
(Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1948), pp. 288--289.
rarely missed an opportunity to denigrate and
slander Stalin. However, despite the fact that he claimed that there
was only an `imaginary conspiracy' as basis for the Moscow trials, he
did have this to say about
`(A)ll the non-Stalinist versions concur in the following: the generals
did indeed plan a coup d'état .... The main part of the
coup was to be a palace revolt in the Kremlin, culminating in the
assassination of Stalin. A decisive military operation outside the
Kremlin, an assault on the headquarters of the G.P.U., was also
was the moving spirit of the conspiracy ....
He was, indeed, the only man among all the military and civilian leaders
of that time who showed in many respects a resemblance to the original
and could have played the Russian First Consul. The chief
political commissar of the army,
who later committed suicide,
was initiated into the plot. General
the commander of Leningrad,
was to secure the co-operation of his garrison. Generals Uberovich,
commander of the western military district,
commander of the
Military Academy in Moscow,
deputy in the command
of the cavalry, and a few other generals were also in the plot.'
Stalin: A Political Biography,
second edition (London: Oxford University Press, 1967), p. 379.
an important anti-Communist, even when he accepted the
veracity of the
plot, made sure that he underlined the
`good intentions' of those who wanted `to save the army and the
country from the insane terror of the purges' and he assured his
was in no way acting `in Germany's
, p. x, n. 1.
The Nazi Léon Degrelle,
in a 1977 book, referred to
the following terms:
`Who would have thought during the crimes of the Terror during the French
Revolution that soon after a
would come out and raise France
up from the abyss with an iron fist? A few years later, and
almost created the United Europe.
`A Russian Bonaparte
could also rise up. The young Marshal
executed by Stalin on
advice, was of the right stature in
Degrelle m'a dit,
Postface by Degrelle
(Brussels: Éditions du Baucens, 1977), pp. 360--361.
On May 8, 1943, Göbbels
noted in his journal some comments made by
They show that the Nazis perfectly understood the importance
of taking advantage of opposition and defeatist currents within the
`The Führer explained one more time the
case and stated
that we erred completely at the time when we thought that Stalin had
ruined the Red Army. The opposite is true: Stalin got rid of all the
opposition circles within the army and thereby succeeded in making
sure that there would no longer be any defeatist currents within that
`With respect to us, Stalin also has the advantage of not having any
social opposition, since Bolshevism has eliminated it through the
purges of the last twenty-five years .... Bolshevism has
eliminated this danger in time and can henceforth focus all of its
strength on its enemy.'
Tagebücher aus den Jahren 1942--1943,
(Zurich, 1948), p. 322. Quoted in
La seconde guerre mondiale:
caractères fondamentaux de la politique et
de la stratégie, vol. 1, pp. 213--214.
We also present
opinion. Apart from
was the only
member of the Politburo in 1953 who never renounced his
revolutionary past. During the 1980s, he recalled the situation in
1937, when the Purge started:
`An atmosphere of extreme tension reigned during this period; it was
necessary to act without mercy. I think that it was justified. If
had started up their opposition
in wartime, there would have been an extremely difficult struggle; the
number of victims would have been colossal. Colossal. The two sides
would have been condemned to disaster. They had links that went right up
had similar links, without doubt.
was an adventurist, as was
they had traits in common. And the
had links with them. And, of course, many
of the military leaders.'
Sto sorok besed s MOLOTOVYM
(One hundred forty conversations with
(Moscow: Terra, 1991), p. 413.
Next: The militarist and
Up: The Tukhachevsky trial
Previous: The Tukhachevsky trial
Fri Aug 25 09:03:42 PDT 1995