Next: The 1937--1938 Purge
Up: The Tukhachevsky trial
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,
was from 1937 to 1948 the Political
Secretary of the largest Party branch of the
Air Force Academy.
He was therefore a leading cadre.
, pp. 83--84.
When he entered the Party in 1933 at the age of 22,
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!
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.
first presented himself as a `revolutionary democrat and
, 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'.
, p. 5.
group `proclaimed the ideal of universal brotherhood' and `regarded
Christianity as one of the great systems of universal human values'.
, p. 220.
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
, p. 75.
The exile Menshevik newspaper, Sozialistichesky Vestnik was
group, as was the book The Dawn of the
Red Terror by the Menshevik G. Aaronson .
, p. 8.
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 ....
mean something to humanity'.
, p. 45.
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'.
, p. 15.
Multi-partyism and the division of the U.S.S.R. into independent republics
were two essential points of the conspirators' program.
group, the majority of whose members seem to have been nationalists
from the Caucasus region, expressed his support for
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.
, p. 21.
While preparing in 1939 a plan to overthrow Stalin's government,
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'.
, p. 160.
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
, p. 17.
considered `Britain the freest and most democratic
country in the world'.
, p. 189.
After World War II,
`My friends and I had become great admirers of the United States'.
, p. 274.
Astoundingly, this is, almost point by point,
program. Starting in 1985, the ideas that were being defended in 1931--1941
by clandestine anti-Communist organizations resurfaced at the head of the
denounced the division of the world between socialism and
capitalism and converted himself to `universal values'. The rapprochement
with social-democracy was initiated by
in 1986. Multi-partyism
became reality in the USSR in 1989.
just reminded French Prime
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
was fighting for the program applied 50 years
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
, p. 17.
Who belonged to
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
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.
, p. 6.
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
All three were
arrested and executed during the
, p. 118.
A few more names. Lieutenant-Colonel
killed in 1936 in an armed confrontation with the police.
, p. 22.
who `had made heroic but untimely
attempts to shake off the Stalin oligarchy'.
, p. 215.
Chief of the
Divisional Commissar, Deputy Chief of the Academy, responsible for political
, p. 28.
In Ukraine, the group supported
met in 1931
during a clandestine meeting in Moscow, and
The two were arrested
in Dniepropetrovsk in 1936.
, pp. 9, 47.
the daughter of an Old Bolshevik, entered into conflict with
the Party at the beginning of the Revolution, and
widow of a naval aviation officer at Sebastopol, assured links throughout
During the purge of the
group (`right deviationist') and that of
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
, p. 84.
Our situation, wrote
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.
replied that he was wrong, that it was a
struggle between generations and that the after-Stalin had to be
, pp. 74--75.
Despite having an anti-Communist platform,
organization maintained close links with `reformist-communist'
factions within the Party.
In June 1935,
was sent to the south. He made a few comments about
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
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
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.'
, 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
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
really dated from the law of
December 1st, 1934, which followed immediately on the assassination of
, pp. 17--18.
(tolerated) under him a handful ... of men who were
technically efficient and useful to the community but who were
, p. 20.
was placed under house arrest in mid-1935. Lieutenant-Colonel
a leader of
organization, organized his escape. At
Rostov-on-Don, they held a conference with
First Secretary of
the Regional Committee for Sea of Azon--Black Sea, with
the President of the Soviet of the Region and with
the Prime Minister.
continued to the south,
but they were ambushed by the NKVD near Baku.
shot two men, but was himself killed.
, p. 22.
opposition group also had links with
group (see page ).
claimed that his group maintained close contact with another
faction at the head of the Party, that of the Chief of Security,
`(W)e knew the power of ... NKVD bosses
... in their
roles not of servants, but of enemies of the régime'.
, p. 7.
protected many of their men who were in danger.
was arrested, all the links that
group had with
the leadership of state security were broken. For their clandestine
movement, this was a tremendous loss.
`The NKVD now headed by
took another step forward. The Little Politbureau had penetrated
broken through the opposition's links within the central institutions
of the political police'.
`was removed from the NKVD, and we lost
a strong link in our opposition intelligence service'.
, p. 63.
What were the intentions, the projects and the activities of
Well before 1934, wrote
`our group had planned to assassinate
the President of the Soviet Union. Finally, it was another
group that assassinated
a group with which we were in contact.'
, 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'.
, p. 37.
A comrade from the group,
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
, 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 ,
would have joined him'.
, p. 48.
Note that all these generals were executed after the
thought that they had in 1936 sufficiently many men in the army to
succeed in a coup d'état, which,
still being alive, would have
had support from the peasantry.
One of `our pilots', recalled
submitted to Comrade X and to
his plan to bomb the
Mausoleum and the Politburo.
, p. 34.
On November 20, 1936, in Moscow, Comrade X, during a clandestine meeting of
five members, proposed to
Eighth Extraordinary Congress of the Soviets.
, 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
, p. 156.
Note that the theme `' was shared in the
thirties by Soviet military conspirators,
the Western Catholic right-wing.
was discussing with
a clandestine name for
a leading officer of the Leningrad district, the possibility of a attempt
, 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.
, p. 159--160.
When war broke out, the Party leadership proposed to
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
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
, p. 183.
`Comrade X was convinced that it was touch and go
for Stalin. The pity of it was that we could not see
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.
, p. 188.
After the war, in 1947,
was in charge of discussions with the German
who specialized in aeronautics, in order to persuade him
to come work in the Soviet Union.
... 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
, p. 352.
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
Next: The 1937--1938 Purge
Up: The Tukhachevsky trial
Fri Aug 25 09:03:42 PDT 1995