MARXIST INTERNET ARCHIVE



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A clandestine anti-Communist organization in the Red Army

In general, the purges within the Red Army are presented as acts of foolish, arbitrary, blind repression; the accusations were all set-ups, diabolically prepared to ensure Stalin's personal dictatorship.

What is the truth?

A concrete and very interesting example can give us some essential aspects.

A colonel in the Soviet Army, G. A. Tokaev,  defected to the British in 1948. He wrote a book called Comrade X, a real gold mine for those who want to try to understand the complexity of the struggle within the Bolshevik Party. Aeronautical engineer, Tokaev  was from 1937 to 1948 the Political Secretary of the largest Party branch of the Zhukovsky  Air Force Academy. He was therefore a leading cadre.

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Tokaev,  op. cit. , pp. 83--84.

When he entered the Party in 1933 at the age of 22, Tokaev  was already a member of a clandestine anti-Communist organization. At the head of his organization was a leading officer of the Red Army, an influential member of the Bolshevik Party Central Committee! Tokaev's  group held secret conferences, adopted resolutions and sent emissaries around the country.

Throughout the book, published in 1956, he developed the political ideas of his clandestine group. Reading the main points adopted by this clandestine anti-Communist organization is very instructive.

Tokaev  first presented himself as a `revolutionary democrat and liberal'.

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Ibid. , p. 1.

We were, he claimed, `the enemy of any man who thought to divide the world into `us' and `them', into communists and anti-communists'.

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Ibid. , p. 5.

Tokaev's  group `proclaimed the ideal of universal brotherhood' and `regarded Christianity as one of the great systems of universal human values'.

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Ibid. , p. 220.

Tokaev's  group was partisan to the bourgeois régime set up by the February Revolution. The `February Revolution represented at least a flicker of democracy ... (that) pointed to a latent belief in democracy among the common people'.

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Ibid. , p. 75.

The exile Menshevik newspaper, Sozialistichesky Vestnik was circulated within Tokaev's  group, as was the book The Dawn of the Red Terror by the Menshevik G. Aaronson .

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Ibid. , p. 8.

Tokaev  recognized the link between his anti-Communist organization and the social-democrat International. `The revolutionary democratic movement is close to the democratic socialists. I have worked in close co-operation with many convinced socialists, such as Kurt Schumacher ....  Such names as Attlee,  Bevin,  Spaak  and Blum  mean something to humanity'.

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Ibid. , p. 45.

Tokaev  also fought for the `human rights' of all anti-Communists. `In our view ... there was no more urgent and important matter for the U.S.S.R. than the struggle for the human rights of the individual'.

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Ibid. , p. 15.

Multi-partyism and the division of the U.S.S.R. into independent republics were two essential points of the conspirators' program.

Tokaev's  group, the majority of whose members seem to have been nationalists from the Caucasus region, expressed his support for Yenukidze's  plan, which aimed at destroying Stalinism `root and branch' and replacing Stalin's `reactionary U.S.S.R.' by a `free union of free peoples'. The country was to be divided into ten natural regions: The North Caucasian United States, The Ukraine Democratic Republic, The Moscow Democratic Republic, The Siberian Democratic Republic, etc.

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Ibid. , p. 21.

While preparing in 1939 a plan to overthrow Stalin's government, Tokaev's  group was ready to `seek outside support, particularly from the parties of the Second International .... a new Constituent Assembly would be elected and its first measure would be to terminate one Party rule'.

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Ibid. , p. 160.

Tokaev's  clandestine group was clearly engaged in a struggle to the end with the Party leadership. In the summer of 1935, `We of the opposition, whether army or civilian, fully realised that we had entered a life-or-death struggle'.

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Ibid. , p. 17.

Finally, Tokaev  considered `Britain the freest and most democratic country in the world'.

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Ibid. , p. 189.

After World War II, `My friends and I had become great admirers of the United States'.

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Ibid. , p. 274.

Astoundingly, this is, almost point by point, Gorbachev's  program. Starting in 1985, the ideas that were being defended in 1931--1941 by clandestine anti-Communist organizations resurfaced at the head of the Party. Gorbachev  denounced the division of the world between socialism and capitalism and converted himself to `universal values'. The rapprochement with social-democracy was initiated by Gorbachev  in 1986. Multi-partyism became reality in the USSR in 1989. Yeltsin  just reminded French Prime Minister Chirac  that the February Revolution brought `democratic hope' to Russia. The transformation of the `reactionary U.S.S.R.' into a `Union of Free Republics' has been achieved.

But in 1935 when Tokaev  was fighting for the program applied 50 years later by Gorbachev,  he was fully conscious that he was engaged in a struggle to the end with the Bolshevik leadership.

`(I)n the summer of 1935 ... We of the opposition, whether army or civilian, fully realised that we had entered a life-or-death struggle.'

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Ibid. , p. 17.

Who belonged to Tokaev's  clandestine group?

They were mostly Red Army officers, often young officers coming out of military academies. His leader, Comrade X --- the real name is never given --- was a member of the Central Committee during the thirties and forties.

Riz,  lieutenant-captain in the navy, was the head of the clandestine movement in the Black Sea flottila. Expelled from the Party four times, he was reintegrated four times.

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Ibid. , p. 6.

Generals Osepyan,  Deputy Head of the Political Administration of the Armed Forces (!), and Alksnis  were among the main leaders of the clandestine organization. They were all close to General Kashirin.  All three were arrested and executed during the Tukhachevsky  affair.

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Ibid. , p. 118.

A few more names. Lieutenant-Colonel Gaï,  killed in 1936 in an armed confrontation with the police.

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Ibid. , p. 22.

Colonel Kosmodemyansky,  who `had made heroic but untimely attempts to shake off the Stalin oligarchy'.

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Ibid. , p. 215.

Colonel-General Todorsky,  Chief of the Zhukovsky  Academy, and Smolensky,  Divisional Commissar, Deputy Chief of the Academy, responsible for political affairs.

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Ibid. , p. 28.

In Ukraine, the group supported Nikolai Generalov,  whom Tokaev  met in 1931 during a clandestine meeting in Moscow, and Lentzer.  The two were arrested in Dniepropetrovsk in 1936.

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Ibid. , pp. 9, 47.

Katya Okman,  the daughter of an Old Bolshevik, entered into conflict with the Party at the beginning of the Revolution, and Klava Yeryomenko,  Ukrainian widow of a naval aviation officer at Sebastopol, assured links throughout the country.

During the purge of the Bukharin  group (`right deviationist') and that of Marshal Tukhachevsky,  most of Tokaev's  group was arrested and shot: `circles close to Comrade X had been almost completely wiped out. Most of them had been arrested in connection with the `Right-wing deviationists' '.

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Ibid. , p. 84.

Our situation, wrote Tokaev,  had become tragic. One of the cadres, Belinsky,  remarked that we had made a mistake in believing that Stalin was an incapable who would never be able to achieve industrialization and cultural development. Riz  replied that he was wrong, that it was a struggle between generations and that the after-Stalin had to be prepared.

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Ibid. , pp. 74--75.

Despite having an anti-Communist platform, Tokaev's  clandestine organization maintained close links with `reformist-communist' factions within the Party.

In June 1935, Tokaev  was sent to the south. He made a few comments about Yenukidze  and Sheboldayev,  two `Stalinist' Bolsheviks, commonly considered as typical victims of Stalin's arbitrariness.

`One of my tasks was to try to ward off an attack against a number of Sea of Azov, Black Sea and North Caucasian opposition leaders, the chief of whom was B. P. Sheboldayev,  First Secretary of the Regional Committee of the Party and a member of the Central Committee itself. Not that our movement was completely at one with the Sheboldayev--Yenukidze   group, but we knew what they were doing and Comrade X considered it our revolutionary duty to help them at a critical moment .... We disagreed on details, but these were nevertheless brave and honorable men, who had many a time saved members of our group, and who had a considerable chance of success.'

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Ibid. , p. 6.

`(In 1935), my personal contacts made it possible for me to get at certain top-secret files belonging to the Party Central Office and relating to `Abu' Yenukidze  and his group. The papers would help us to find out just how much the Stalinists knew about all those working against them ....

`(Yanukdize) was a committed communist of the right-wing ....

`The open conflict between Stalin and Yenukidze  really dated from the law of December 1st, 1934, which followed immediately on the assassination of Kirov.' 

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Ibid. , pp. 17--18.

`Yenukidze  (tolerated) under him a handful ... of men who were technically efficient and useful to the community but who were anti-communists.'

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Ibid. , p. 20.

Yenukidze  was placed under house arrest in mid-1935. Lieutenant-Colonel Gaï,  a leader of Tokaev's  organization, organized his escape. At Rostov-on-Don, they held a conference with Sheboldayev,  First Secretary of the Regional Committee for Sea of Azon--Black Sea, with Pivovarov,  the President of the Soviet of the Region and with Larin,  the Prime Minister. Then Yenukidze  and Gaï  continued to the south, but they were ambushed by the NKVD near Baku. Gaï  shot two men, but was himself killed.

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Ibid. , p. 22.

Tokaev's  opposition group also had links with Bukharin's  group (see page gif).

Tokaev  claimed that his group maintained close contact with another faction at the head of the Party, that of the Chief of Security, Yagoda.  `(W)e knew the power of ... NKVD bosses Yagoda  or Beria  ... in their roles not of servants, but of enemies of the régime'.

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Ibid. , p. 7.

Tokaev  wrote that Yagoda  protected many of their men who were in danger. When Yagoda  was arrested, all the links that Tokaev's  group had with the leadership of state security were broken. For their clandestine movement, this was a tremendous loss.

`The NKVD now headed by Yezhov,  took another step forward. The Little Politbureau had penetrated the Yenukidze--Sheboldayev   and the Yagoda--Zelinsky   conspiracies, and broken through the opposition's links within the central institutions of the political police'. Yagoda  `was removed from the NKVD, and we lost a strong link in our opposition intelligence service'.

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Ibid. , p. 63.

What were the intentions, the projects and the activities of Tokaev's  group?

Well before 1934, wrote Tokaev,  `our group had planned to assassinate Kirov  and Kalinin,  the President of the Soviet Union. Finally, it was another group that assassinated Kirov,  a group with which we were in contact.'

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Ibid. , p. 2.

`In 1934 there was a plot to start a revolution by arresting the whole of the Stalinist-packed 17th Congress of the Party'.

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Ibid. , p. 37.

A comrade from the group, Klava Yeryomenko,  proposed in mid-1936 to kill Stalin. She knew officers of Stalin's bodyguard. Comrade X had refused, and `pointed out that there had already been no less than fifteen attempts to assassinate Stalin, none had got near to success, each had cost many brave lives'.

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Ibid. , pp. 48--49.

`In August, 1936 ... My own conclusion was that the time for delay was past. We must make immediate preparations for an armed uprising. I was sure then, as I am today, that if Comrade X had chosen to send out a call to arms, he would have been joined at once by many of the big men of the U.S.S.R. In 1936, Alksnis , Yegorov,  Osepyan  and Kashirin  would have joined him'.

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Ibid. , p. 48.

Note that all these generals were executed after the Tukhachevsky  conspiracy. Tokaev  thought that they had in 1936 sufficiently many men in the army to succeed in a coup d'état, which, Bukharin  still being alive, would have had support from the peasantry.

One of `our pilots', recalled Tokaev,  submitted to Comrade X and to Alksnis  and Osepyan  his plan to bomb the Lenin  Mausoleum and the Politburo.

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Ibid. , p. 34.

On November 20, 1936, in Moscow, Comrade X, during a clandestine meeting of five members, proposed to Demokratov  to assassinate Yezhov  during the Eighth Extraordinary Congress of the Soviets.

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Ibid. , p. 64.

`In April (1939) we held a congress of underground oppositionist leaders to review the position at home and abroad. Apart from revolutionary democrats there were present two socialists and two Right-wing military oppositionists, one of whom called himself a popular democrat-decentralist. We passed a resolution for the first time defining Stalinism as counter-revolutionary fascism, a betrayal of the working class .... The resolution was immediately communicated to prominent personalities of both Party and Government and similar conferences were organised in other centres .... we went to assess the chances of an armed uprising against Stalin'.

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Ibid. , p. 156.

Note that the theme `' was shared in the thirties by Soviet military conspirators, Trotskyists,  social-democrats and the Western Catholic right-wing.

Soon after, Tokaev  was discussing with Smolninsky,  a clandestine name for a leading officer of the Leningrad district, the possibility of a attempt against Zhdanov. 

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Ibid. , pp. 156--157.

Still in 1939, on the eve of the war, there was another meeting, where the conspirators discussed the question of assassinating Stalin in the case of war. They decided it was inopportune because they no longer had enough men to run the country and because the masses would not have followed them.

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Ibid. , p. 159--160.

When war broke out, the Party leadership proposed to Tokaev,  who spoke German, to lead the partisan war behind the Nazi lines. The partisans, of course, were subject to terrible risks. At the time, Comrade X decided that Tokaev  could not accept: `We were, as far as we could, to remain in the main centres, to be ready to take over power if the Stalin régime broke down'.

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Ibid. , p. 183.

`Comrade X was convinced that it was touch and go for Stalin. The pity of it was that we could not see Hitler  as the liberator. Therefore, said Comrade X, we must be prepared for Stalin's régime to collapse, but we should do nothing whatever to weaken it'. This point was discussed during a clandestine meeting on July 5, 1941.

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Ibid. , p. 188.

After the war, in 1947, Tokaev  was in charge of discussions with the German professor Tank,  who specialized in aeronautics, in order to persuade him to come work in the Soviet Union. `Tank  ... was indeed prepared to work on a jet fighter for the U.S.S.R.... I discussed the matter with a number of key men. We agreed that while it was wrong to assume that Soviet aircraft designers could not design a jet bomber, it was not in the interests of the country that they should .... The U.S.S.R. as we saw it was not really threatened by external enemies; therefore our own efforts must be directed towards weakening, not strengthening, the Soviet monopolistic imperialism in the hope of thus making a democratic revolution possible'.

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Ibid. , p. 352.

Tokaev  recognized here that economic sabotage was a political form of struggle for power.

These examples give an idea of the conspiratorial nature of a clandestine military group, hidden within the Bolshevik Party, whose survivors would see their `ideals' recognized with the arrival in power of Khrushchev,  and implemented under Gorbachev. 



next up previous contents index
Next: The 1937--1938 Purge Up: The Tukhachevsky trial Previous: Solzhenitsyn



Fri Aug 25 09:03:42 PDT 1995