From the speech of I. V. Stalin. December 4, 1936

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From the speech of I. V. Stalin. December 4, 1936

A source: Questions of history, 1995, № 1 Pp. 9‐11

Stalin. I wanted to say a couple of words that Bukharin absolutely did not understand what was happening here. Not understood. And he does not understand in what position he found himself, and why the question was raised at the plenum. Doesnʹt understand this at all. He hits on sincerity, requires trust 7 . Okay, letʹs talk about sincerity and trust.

When Kamenev and Zinoviev declared in 1932 that they renounced their mistakes and recognized the partyʹs position as correct, they were believed. They believed it because they assumed that an ideological struggle is characteristic of a communist ‐ former or present ‐ this ideological former or real communist is fighting for his idea. If a person openly said that he adheres to the partyʹs line, then, according to the well‐known traditions established in Leninʹs party, the party believes ‐ it means that the person values his ideas and he really renounced his mistakes and took the partyʹs position. They believed ‐ they were wrong. They were wrong, (Comrade Bukharin. Yes Yes.)

 When Smirnov and Pyatakov announced that they renounced their views, openly declared this in the press, we believed them. They also proceeded from the fact that people grew up on the Marxist school, obviously, value their position, their ideas, they are not hidden, they are fighting for. They believed, the Order of Lenin was given, they moved forward and made a mistake. Is that correct, Comrade Bukharin? (Bukharin. True, true, I said the same thing.)

When Sosnovsky submitted a statement that he renounces his mistakes, substantiated it, and substantiated it well from the Marxist point of view, we believed and really told Bukharin: “You want to take him to Izvestia, good, he writes well, take it, letʹs see what happens. ʺ We were wrong. Then believe in the sincerity of people! We came to a conclusion: the former oppositionists cannot be taken at their word. (Animation in the hall. Voices from the seats. Right, right!) 

You cannot be naive, and Ilyich taught that being naive in politics means being a criminal. We do not want to be criminals. Therefore, we came to the conclusion: you cannot take a word from any former oppositionist.

A few facts. Pyatakov, when his wife was arrested, they wrote a telegram, he was somewhere in the south, I think, in Kislovodsk. From there he replied briefly that he could not find arguments against his wife, but since Moscow considered it necessary to arrest her, then it must be so I arrived. We all gave testimony to him to read. He said that Zinoviev, Kamenev and Mrachkovsky were slandering him in their testimony. Others, just arrested or involved in the process, said so. He came to us and said: “Well, what can I say against these people, how can I justify myself? They lie, they want to ruin me. ʺ We tried to tell him: “Okay, but you acted as a public prosecutor against the SocialistRevolutionaries. Act as a public prosecutor against them ʺ 8.‐ ʺOK, with pleasureʺ. He was preparing. But we thought it over and decided that it would not work. But this test began to convince us for a minute that, perhaps, the person was right. What does it mean to put him up as a public prosecutor? He will say one thing, the accused will object to him, they will say: “Where did you get into, the accusers. You worked with us, didnʹt you ?! ʺ What would that lead to? This would turn the process into a comedy and disrupt the process.

Therefore, Pyatakov was told: “No, although we raised the question of you to go as a public prosecutor, but this case will not work. ʺ He became sad: “How can I prove that I am right? Let me, I will personally shoot all those whom you condemn to be shot, all this dirt, all this bastard. What more proof do you need? Announce in the press after the verdict and after the verdict is executed that the execution of the verdict was carried out by comrade Pyatakov. This circumstance also should have shaken us somewhat. But, on the other hand, we have never announced who is carrying out the sentence. And they decided: to declare ‐ no one will believe that we did not force him to do it. We said that this case will not work, itʹs embarrassing, no one will believe that you volunteered for this business, and not under duress. And besides, we never announced faces who carry out sentences. “What should I do, give me a way out. Let me write an article against the Trotskyists. ”‐“ Okay, write. ” Wrote, defeated Trotsky and Trotskyists 9 .

And what has turned out now, you look! After that we at least interviewed 50 people. After all, they turned Pyatakovʹs insides inside out. He turned out to be a monstrous man! Why did he go to act as a public prosecutor? Why did he go so far as to shoot his comrades himself? It turns out that their rule is this: if your fellow Trotskyite is arrested and began to extradite people, he must be destroyed. You see what a hell of a thing it is. Then believe in the sincerity of the former oppositionists! You cannot take the word of the former oppositionists even when they undertake to shoot their friends with their own hands.

Until recently, until yesterday, Radek kept writing me letters. We delayed the case of his arrest, although there were as many slanders as we wanted from different sides. Everyone, from top to bottom, slanders Radek. We delayed the case of his arrest, and then arrested him. Yesterday and the day before yesterday I received a long letter from him, in which he writes: a terrible crime is being committed. He is a sincere man, devoted to the Party, who loves the Party, loves the Central Committee, and so on and so forth, they want to let him down. This is wrong. You can shoot or not, thatʹs up to you. But he would like his honor not to be shamed. What did he show today? Here, Comrade Bukharin, what happens. (Bukharin. But neither today, nor tomorrow, nor the day after tomorrow I cannot admit anything. Noise in the hall.) I do not say anything personally about you. Maybe youʹre right, maybe youʹre not. But you canʹt speak and talk here, for you have no trust, no faith in. Bukharinʹs sincerity. Itʹs all old. And the events of the last two years have clearly shown this, because it has been proven in practice that sincerity is a relative concept. As for the trust in the former oppositionists, we gave them so much trust ... (Noise in the hall. Voices from the seats. Right!)

Here is your sincerity and here is your trust! That is why we are raising this question at the plenum of the Central Committee. But because Bukharin may be offended and indignant, must we hide it? No, in order not to conceal this, the question must be raised at the plenum. Moreover, the former oppositionists took an even harder step in order to preserve at least a grain of trust on our part and once again demonstrate their sincerity ‐ people began to commit suicide. After all, this is also a means of influencing the party. Lominadze committed suicide, he wanted to say that he was right, in vain he was interrogated and in vain he was subjected to suspicion. What turned out to be? It turned out that he was in a block with these people. Therefore, he killed himself in order to cover his tracks.

So, this political murder is a means of former oppositionists, enemies of the party to bring down the party, to thwart its vigilance, to deceive it by suicide for the last time before dying and put it in a stupid position.

Furer, what letter he left also after the suicide, after reading it you can directly cry. (Kosior. No matter how it is.) And a person who is more or less politically experienced will understand that this is not the case here. We know Furer what he was capable of. And what happened? “He is right, he loves the party, he is pure, but at the thought that someone in the party might think that he, Furer, once merged with the Trotskyists, his nerves cannot stand it, his honor does not allow him to live ʺ. (Kosior. They slandered him!) But what happened? It turned out ‐ you could not imagine worse.

Tomsky, I would advise you, Comrade Bukharin, to think about why Tomsky committed suicide, and left a letter ‐ ʺclean.ʺ But you can see that he was far from clean. As a matter of fact, if I am clean, I am a man, a person, and not a rag, I am not saying that I am a communist, then I will shout to the whole world that I am right. To kill me ‐ never! And here not everything is clean. (Voices from the field. Thatʹs right!) The man went to the murder because he was afraid that everything would be revealed, he did not want to be a witness of his own universal shame. And Furer and Lominadze ... (Mikoyan. And Khanjyan.) And Khanjyan, and Skrypnik, and Tomsky. Here is one of the very last, sharpest and easiest means by which, before dying, when leaving this world, you can spit on the Party for the last time, deceive the Party. Hereʹs to you, Comrade Bukharin, the rationale behind the latest suicides. And you, Comrade Bukharin, want so that we take your word for it? (Bukharin. No, I do not want to.) Never, in no case. (Bukharin.

No, I don’t want to.)

And if you don’t want that, then don’t be indignant that we raised this question at the plenum of the Central Committee. It is possible that you are right, it is hard for you, but after all these facts, which I told you about, and there are a lot of them, we must figure it out. We must objectively and calmly figure it out. We want nothing but the truth, we will not allow anyone to perish, to perish from anyone. We want to find out the whole truth objectively, honestly, courageously. And you can’t intimidate us with tearfulness or suicide. (Voices from the seats. Thatʹs right! Prolonged applause.)


7.  Opposing this assertion of Stalin, Bukharin wrote to him on December 15 the following: ʺYou said at the plenum:ʺ Bukharin strikes here for sincerity. ʺ Youʹre wrong: I donʹt hit anything. I am in such a state of mind that this is already half‐life ... I am dying because of scoundrels, because of human bastards, because of disgusting villains ”(APRF, f. 3, op. 24, d. 262, l. 27) ...

8.  This proposal was made to Pyatakov by Ordzhonikidze.

9.  Pyatakov G. Mercilessly to destroy despicable murderers and traitors.— Pravda, 21.VIII. 1936.