BY ALBERT E KAHN and MICHAELM SAYERS
CHAPTER XVI from The Great Conspiracy: the secret war against soviet Russia
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. Trotsky at Elba
ON February 13, 1929, Leon Trotsky arrived at Constantinople. He did not arrive like a discredited political exile. Trotsky came like a visiting potentate. Headlines in the world press reported his arrival. Foreign correspondents waited to greet the private motor launch which brought him to the quay. Brushing them aside, Trotsky strode to a waiting automobile chauffeured by one of his personal bodyguards, and was whisked away to personal quarters in the city which had been prepared in advance for his coming.
A political storm broke in Turkey. Pro-Soviet spokesmen demanded Trotsky’s expulsion; anti-Soviet spokesmen welcomed him as the enemy of the Soviet regime. The Turkish Government seemed undecided. There were rumors of diplomatic pressure to keep Trotsky in Turkey, near to the Soviet borders. Finally, a compromise was reached. Trotsky was to stay in Turkey and yet not in Turkey. The exiled «Red Napoleon» was to be given a haven on the Turkish island of Prinkipo. Trotsky, his wife and son, and a number of his bodyguards moved there a few weeks later. . . .
At Prinkipo, the picturesque Black Sea island where Woodrow Wilson dreamed of holding an Allied-Soviet peace conference, the exiled Trotsky established his new political headquarters with his son, Leon Sedov, as his chief aide and second-in-command. «In Prinkipo a new group of young co-workers from different countries had meanwhile been successfully formed in intimate collaboration with my son,» Trotsky later wrote. A strange, hectic atmosphere of mystery and intrigue surrounded the small house in which Trotsky lived. The house was guarded outside by police dogs and armed bodyguards. Inside, the house swarmed with radical adventurers from Russia, Germany, Spain and other countries, who had joined Trotsky at Prinkipo. He called them his «secretaries.» They formed a new Trotsky guard. There was a constant stream of visitors to the house: anti-Soviet propagandists, politicians, journalists, hero worshipers of the exile, and would-be «world revolutionists.» Bodyguards stood outside the door of Trotsky’s library while he held private conferences with renegades from the international Communist or Socialist movements. From time to time, their visits cloaked with secrecy, agents of Intelligence Services and other mysterious persons came for interviews with Trotsky.
At first, the head of Trotsky’s armed bodyguard at Prinkipo was Blumkin, the Social Revolutionary assassin who had followed Trotsky with doglike devotion since the early nineteen twenties. Late in 1930, Trotsky sent him back to Soviet Russia on a special mission. Blumkin was caught by the Soviet police, put on trial, found guilty of smuggling arms and anti-Soviet propaganda into the U.S.S.R., and shot. Later, Trotsky’s bodyguard was headed by a Frenchman, Raymond Molinier, and by an American, Sheldon Harte.
With elaborate care, Trotsky sought to maintain his reputation as a «great revolutionary» in temporary exile. He was in his fiftieth year. His stocky, slightly humped figure was growing plump and flabby. His famous shock of black hair and little, pointed beard were gray. But his movements were still rapid and impatient. His dark eyes behind the inveterate pince-nez which glittered on his sharp nose gave his somber, mobile features an expression of peculiar malevolence. Many observers were repelled by his «Mephistophelian» physiognomy. Others found in Trotsky’s voice and eyes an almost hypnotic fascination.
In maintaining his reputation outside of Soviet Russia, Trotsky left nothing to chance. He was fond of quoting the words of the French Anarchist, Proudhon: «Destiny – I laugh at it; and as for men, they are too ignorant, too enslaved for me to feel annoyed at them.» But before he granted interviews to important visitors, Trotsky carefully rehearsed his role, and even studied appropriate gestures before a mirror in his bedroom. Journalists who visited Prinkipo had to submit their articles to be edited by Trotsky before publication. In conversation, Trotsky poured out an unending flow of dogmatic assertion and anti-Soviet invective, emphasizing every sentence and gesture with the theatrical intensity of a mass orator.
The liberal German writer, Emil Ludwig, interviewed Trotsky soon after he settled at Prinkipo. Trotsky was in an optimistic mood. Crisis was facing Russia, he told Ludwig; the Five-Year Plan was a failure; there would be unemployment, economic and industrial disaster; the collectivization program in agriculture was doomed; Stalin was leading the country to a catastrophe; the Opposition was growing. . . .
«How large is your following inside Russia?» asked Ludwig. Trotsky was suddenly cautious. He waved a plump, white, manicured hand. «It is difficult to estimate.» His following was «scattered,» he told Ludwig, working illegally, «underground.» «When do you expect to come out into the open again?»
To this, after some consideration, Trotsky replied: «When an opportunity is presented from the outside. Perhaps a war or a new European intervention – when the weakness of the government would act as a stimulus!»
Winston Churchill, still passionately interested in every phase of the world anti-Soviet campaign, made a special study of the exile on Prinkipo. «I never liked Trotsky,» Churchill declared in 1944. But Trotsky’s conspiratorial audacity, his oratorical talents and demonic energy appealed to Churchill’s adventurous temperament. Summing up the whole purpose of Trotsky’s international conspiracy from the moment he left Soviet soil, Churchill wrote in Great Contemporaries:-
Trotsky . . . strives to rally the underworld of Europe to the overthrow of the Russian Army.
Also, about this time, the American foreign correspondent John Gunther visited Trotsky’s Prinkipo headquarters. He spoke with Trotsky and a number of Trotsky’s Russian and European associates. To Gunther’s surprise, Trotsky did not behave like a defeated exile. He behaved more like a ruling monarch or dictator. Gunther thought of Napoleon at Elba – just before the dramatic return and the Hundred Days. Gunther reported: –
A Trotsky movement has grown up throughout most of Europe. In each country there is a nucleus of Trotskyite agitators. They take orders from Prinkipo direct. There is a sort of communication between the various groups, through their publications and manifestos but mostly through private letters. The various central committees are linked to an international headquarters in Berlin.
Gunther tried to get Trotsky to talk about his Fourth International, just what it stood for and what it did. Trotsky was reserved on the subject. In one expansive moment, he showed Gunther a number of «hollow books» in which secret documents were concealed and transported. He praised the activities of Andreas Nin in Spain. (1) He also had followers and influential sympathizers in the United States. He spoke of Trotskyite cells being formed in France, Norway and Czechoslovakia. Their activities, he told Gunther, were «semi-secret.». . .
Gunther wrote that Trotsky had «lost Russia, or at least for a while. No man knows whether he may not regain it in ten or twenty years.» Trotsky’s chief aim was «to hold out, hope for Stalin’s downfall in Russia, and meantime bend every bit of energy to unceasing perfection of his counter-Communist organization abroad.»
Only «one tiling,» Gunther concluded, could put Trotsky «back at once in Russia.»
That one thing was «Stalin’s death.»
From Prinkipo during 1930-1931, Trotsky launched an extraordinary anti-Soviet propaganda campaign which soon penetrated every country. It was an entirely new kind of anti-Soviet propaganda, infinitely more subtle and confusing than anything that had been devised by the anti-Bolshevik crusaders in the past.
Times had changed. Following the great Crisis, the whole world was revolutionary-minded in that it did not want a return to the ways of the past which had brought so much misery and suffering. The early counterrevolution of Fascism in Italy had been effectively promoted by its ex-Socialist founder, Benito Mussolini, as the «Italian Revolution.» In Germany, the Nazis were gaining mass backing, not only by enlisting anti-Bolshevik reaction, but also by posing among the German workers and peasants as «National Socialists.» As far back as 1903, Trotsky had mastered the propaganda device of what Lenin called «ultra-revolutionary slogans which cost him nothing.»
Now, on a world-wide scale, Trotsky proceeded to develop the propaganda technique he had originally employed against Lenin and the Bolshevik Party. In innumerable ultra-leftist and violently radical-sounding articles, books, pamphlets and speeches, Trotsky began to attack the Soviet regime and call for its violent overthrow – not because it was revolutionary; but because it was, as he phrased it, «counterrevolutionary» and «reactionary.»
Overnight, many of the older anti-Bolshevik crusaders abandoned their former pro-Czarist and openly counterrevolutionary propaganda line, and adopted the new, streamlined Trotskyite device of attacking the Russian Revolution «from the Left.» In the following years, it became an accepted thing for a Lord Rothermere or a William Randolph Hearst to accuse Josef Stalin of «betraying the Revolution.». . .
Trotsky’s first major propaganda work to introduce this new anti-Soviet line to the international counterrevolution was his melodramatic, semi-fictitious autobiography, My Life. First published as a series of anti-Soviet articles by Trotsky in European and American newspapers, its aim as a book was to vilify Stalin and the Soviet Union, increase the prestige of the Trotskyite movement and bolster the myth of Trotsky as the «world revolutionary.» Trotsky depicted himself in My Life as the real inspirer and organizer of the Russian Revolution, who had been somehow tricked out of his rightful place as Russian leader by «crafty,» «mediocre» and «Asiatic» opponents.
Anti-Soviet agents and publicists immediately ballyhooed Trotsky’s book into a sensational world-wide best seller which was said to tell the «inside story» of the Russian Revolution. Adolf Hitler read Trotsky’s autobiography as soon as it was published. Hitler’s biographer, Konrad Heiden, tells in Der Fuehrer how the Nazi leader surprised a circle of his friends in 1930 by bursting into rapturous praises of Trotsky’s book. «Brilliant!» cried Hitler, waving Trotsky’s My Life at his followers. «I have learnt a great deal from it, and so can you!»
Trotsky’s book rapidly became a textbook for the anti-Soviet Intelligence Services. It was accepted as a basic guide for propaganda against the Soviet regime. The Japanese secret police made it compulsory reading for imprisoned Japanese and Chinese Communists, in an effort to break down their morale and to convince them that Soviet Russia had betrayed the Chinese Revolution and the cause for which they were fighting. The Gestapo made similar use of the book . . .
My Life was only the opening gun of Trotsky’s prodigious anti-Soviet propaganda campaign. It was followed by The Revolution Betrayed, Soviet Economy in Danger, The Failure of the Five-Year Plan, Stalin and the Chinese Revolution, The Stalin School of Falsification, and countless other anti-Soviet books, pamphlets and articles, many of which first appeared under flaring headlines in reactionary newspapers in Europe and America. Trotsky’s «Bureau» supplied a continual stream of «revelations,» «exposures» and «inside stories» about Russia for the anti-Soviet world press.
For consumption inside the Soviet Union, Trotsky published his official Bulletin o f the Opposition. Printed abroad, first in Turkey, then in Germany, France, Norway and other countries, and smuggled into Russia by secret Trotskyite couriers, the Bulletin was not intended to reach the Soviet masses. It was aimed at the diplomats, state officials, military men, and intellectuals who had once followed Trotsky or who seemed likely to be influenced by him. The Bulletin also contained directives for the propaganda work of the Trotskyites both within Russia and abroad. Ceaselessly, the Bulletin drew. lurid pictures of coming disaster for the Soviet regime, predicting industrial crises, renewed civil war, and the collapse of the Red Army at the first foreign attack. The Bulletin skillfully played on all the doubts and anxieties which the extreme tensions and hardships of the construction period aroused in the minds of unstable, confused and dissatisfied elements. The Bulletin openly called upon these elements to undermine and carry out acts of violence against the Soviet Government.
Here are some typical examples of the anti-Soviet propaganda and calls for the violent overthrow of the Soviet regime which Trotsky spread throughout the world in the years following his expulsion from the U.S.S.R.: –
The policy of the present-day leadership, the tiny group of Stalin, is leading the country at full speed to dangerous crises and collapses. – Letter to Members o f Communist Party of the Soviet Union, March 1930
The impending crisis of Soviet economy will inevitably, and within the very near future, crumble the sugary legend [that socialism can be built in one country] and, we have no reason to doubt, will scatter many dead. . . . The (Soviet) economy functions without material reserves and without calculation . . . the uncontrolled bureaucracy has tied up its prestige with the subsequent accumulation of errors . . . a crisis is impending [in the Soviet Union] with a retinue of consequences such as the enforced shutting down of enterprises and unemployment. – Soviet Economy in Danger, 1932
The hungry workers [in the Soviet Union] are dissatisfied with the policies of the party. The party is dissatisfied with the leadership. The peasantry is dissatisfied with industrialization, with collectivization, with the city. – Article in the Militant (U.S.A.), February 4, 1933
The first social shock, external or internal, may throw the atomized Soviet Society into civil war. – The Soviet Union and the Fourth International, 1933
It would be childish to think that the Stalin bureaucracy can be removed by means of a Party or Soviet Congress. Normal, constitutional means are no longer available for the removal of the ruling clique. . . . They can be compelled to hand over power to the Proletarian vanguard only by FORCE. -Bulletin o f the Opposition, October 193 3
The political crises converge toward the general crisis which is creeping onward. – The Kirov Assassination, 1935
Inside the Party Stalin has put himself above all criticism and the State. It is impossible to displace him except by assassination. Every oppositionist becomes, ipso facto, a terrorist. – Statement from interview with William Randolph Heart’s New York Evening Journal, January 26, 1937.
Can we expect that the Soviet Union will come out of the coming great war without defeat? To this frankly posed question, we will answer as frankly: If the war should remain only a war, the defeat of the Soviet Union would be inevitable. In a technical, economic and military sense, imperialism is incomparably more strong. If it is not paralyzed by revolution in the West, imperialism will sweep away the present regime. -Article in American Mercury, March 1937
The defeat of the Soviet Union is inevitable in case the new war shall not provoke a new revolution. . . . If we theoretically admit war without revolution, then the defeat of the Soviet Union is inevitable. – Testimony at Hearings in Mexico, April 1937
2. Rendezvous in Berlin
From the moment Trotsky left Soviet soil, agents of foreign Intelligence Services had been eager to contact him and to make use of his international anti-Soviet organization. The Polish Defensiva, the Italian Fascist Ovra; the Finnish Military Intelligence, the White Russian émigrés who directed anti-Soviet secret services in Rumania, Yugoslavia and Hungary, and reactionary elements with the British Intelligence Service and the French Deuxiéme Bureau were all prepared to deal with «Russia’s Public Enemy Number One» for their own purposes. Funds, assistants, a network of espionage and courier services were at Trotsky’s disposal for the maintenance and extension of his international anti-Soviet propaganda activities and for the support and reorganization of his conspiratorial apparatus inside Soviet Russia.
Most important of all was Trotsky’s growing intimacy with the German Military Intelligence (Section 111B) which, under the command of Colonel Walther Nicolai, was already collaborating with Heinrich Himmler’s growing Gestapo. . . .
Up to 1930, Trotsky’s agent, Krestinsky, had received approximately 2,000,000 gold marks from the German Reichswehr for financing Trotskyite activities in Soviet Russia, in exchange for espionage data turned over to the German Military Intelligence by the Trotskyites. Krestinsky later revealed: –
Beginning with 1923 until 1930 we received annually 250,000 German marks in gold, approximately 2,000,000 gold marks. Up to the end of 1927 the stipulations of this agreement were carried out mainly in Moscow. After that, from the end of 1927 almost to the end of 1928, in the course of about 10 months there was an interruption in the money because after Trotskyism had been smashed I was isolated, I did not know of Trotsky’s plans, I received no information or instructions from him. . . . This went on until October 1928 when I received a letter from Trotsky, who at that time was in exile in Alma Ata. . . . This letter contained Trotsky’s instructions that I was to receive from the Germans the money, which he proposed to hand over to Maslow or to Trotsky’s French friends, that is Roemer, Madeline Paz and others. I got in touch with General Seeckt. At that time he had resigned and occupied no post whatever. He volunteered to talk it over with Hammerstein and to obtain the money. He obtained the money. Hammerstein was at that time the Chief of Staff of the Reichswehr, and in 1930 he became Commander in Chief of the Reichswehr.
In 1930 Krestinsky was appointed Assistant Commissar of Foreign Affairs and transferred from Berlin to Moscow. His removal from Germany, together with the inner crisis which was then going on within the Reichswehr as a result of the rising power of Nazism, again temporarily halted the flow of German money to Trotsky. But already Trotsky was about to enter into a new, extended agreement with the German Military Intelligence.
In February 1931, Trotsky’s son, Leon Sedov, rented an apartment in Berlin. According to his passport, Sedov was in Germany as a «student»; ostensibly, he had come to Berlin to attend a «German scientific institute.» But there were more urgent reasons for Sedov’s Presence in the German capital that year. . . .
A few months before, Trotsky had written a pamphlet entitled Germany: The Key to the International Situation. One hundred and seven Nazi deputies had been elected to the Reichstag. The Nazi Party had received 6,400,000 votes. As Sedov arrived in Berlin, a mood of feverish expectancy and tension hung over the German capital. Brown-shirted storm troopers, singing the «Horst Wessel,» were parading on the Berlin streets, smashing Jewish stores and raiding the homes and clubs of liberals and workers. The Nazis were confident. «Never in My Life have I been so well disposed and inwardly content as in these days,» wrote Adolf Hitler in the pages of the Volkischer Beobachter.
Officially, Germany was still a democracy. Trade between Germany and Soviet Russia was at its peak. The Soviet Government was buying machinery from German firms. German technicians were getting big jobs in Soviet mining and electrification projects. Soviet engineers were visiting Germany. Soviet trade representatives, buyers and commercial agents were continually traveling back and forth between Moscow and Berlin on assignments connected with the Five-Year Plan. Some of these Soviet citizens were followers or former adherents of Trotsky.
Sedov was in Berlin, as his father’s representative, on conspiratorial assignments.
«Leon was always on the lookout,» Trotsky later wrote in his pamphlet Leon Sedov: Son-Friend-Fighter, «avidly searching for connecting threads with Russia, hunting up returning tourists, Soviet students assigned abroad, or sympathetic functionaries in the foreign representations.» Sedov’s chief assignment in Berlin was to contact old members of the Opposition, communicate Trotsky’s instructions to them, or collect important messages from them for his father. «To avoid compromising his informant» and to «evade the GPU spies,» wrote Trotsky, Sedov «chased for hours through the streets of Berlin.»
A number of important Trotskyites had managed to secure posts on the Soviet Foreign Trade Commission. Among them was Ivan N. Smirnov, the one-time Red Army officer and former leading member of Trotsky’s Guard. After a short period in exile, Smirnov had followed the strategy of other Trotskyites, denounced Trotsky, and pleaded for readmission to the Bolshevik Party. An engineer by profession, Smirnov soon obtained a minor post in the transportation industry. Early in 1931 Smirnov was appointed as a consultant engineer to a trade mission that was going to Berlin.
Soon after his arrival in Berlin, Ivan Smirnov was contacted by Leon Sedov. At clandestine get-togethers in Sedov’s apartment and in out-of-the-way suburban beer halls and cafes, Smirnov learned of Trotsky’s plans for the reorganization of the secret Opposition in collaboration with agents of the German Military Intelligence.
From now on, Sedov told Smirnov, the struggle against the Soviet regime was to assume the character of an all-out offensive. The old rivalries and political differences between the Trotskyites, the Bukharinites, the Zinovievites, the Mensheviks, the Social Revolutionaries and all other anti-Soviet groups and factions must be forgotten. A united Opposition must be formed. Secondly, the struggle from now on must assume a militant character. A nation-wide campaign of terrorism and sabotage was to be initiated against the Soviet regime. It would have to be worked out in every detail. By widespread and carefully synchronized blows the Opposition would be able to throw the Soviet Government into hopeless confusion and demoralization. The Opposition would then seize power.
Smirnov’s immediate task was to convey Trotsky’s instructions for the reorganization of the underground work, and the preparations for terrorism and sabotage, to the most trusted members of the Opposition in Moscow. He was also to make arrangements for the sending of regular «informational data» to Berlin to be delivered by Trotskyite couriers to Sedov, who would then relay the data to his father. The password by which the couriers were to identify themselves was: «I have brought greetings from Galya.»
Sedov asked Smirnov to do one more thing while he was still in Berlin. He was to get in touch with the head of a Soviet Trade Mission which had recently arrived in Berlin and to inform this personage that Sedov was in the city and wished to see him on a matter of the utmost importance.
The head of this Soviet Trade Mission which had just arrived in Berlin was Trotsky’s old follower and most devoted admirer, Yuri Leonodovich Pyatakov.
Lean and tall, well-dressed, with a high sloping forehead, pale complexion and a neat, reddish goatee, Pyatakov looked more like a scholarly professor than the veteran conspirator he was. In 1927, following the attempted Putsch, Pyatakov had been the first leading Trotskyite to break with Trotsky and seek readmission to the Bolshevik Party. A man of outstanding ability in business management and organization, Pyatakov secured several good jobs in the rapidly expanding Soviet industries even while still in exile in Siberia. At the end of 1929, he was readmitted to the Bolshevik Party on probation. He held a succession of board chairmanships on transport and chemical industrial planning projects. In 1931, he got a seat on the Supreme Economic Council, the chief Soviet planning institution; and that same year he was sent to Berlin as head of a special trade mission to purchase German industrial equipment for the Soviet Government.
Following Sedov’s instructions, Ivan Smirnov sought out Pyatakov in his Berlin office. Smirnov told Pyatakov that Leon Sedov was in Berlin and had a special message for him from Trotsky. A few days later, Pyatakov met Sedov. Here is Pyatakov’s own account of the meeting: –
There is a cafe known as the «Am Zoo» not far from the Zoological Gardens on the square. I went there and saw Lev Sedov sitting at a small table. We had known each other very well in the past. He told me that he was not speaking to me in his own name, but in the name of his father – Trotsky, and that Trotsky, learning that I was in Berlin, gave him categorical orders to look me up, to meet me personally and have a talk with me. Sedov said that Trotsky had not for a moment abandoned the idea of resuming the fight against Stalin’s leadership, that there had been a temporary lull owing partly to Trotsky’s repeated movements from one country to another, but that this struggle was now being resumed, of which he, Trotsky, was hereby informing me. . . . After this, Sedov asked me pointblank: «Trotsky asks, do you, Pyatakov, intend to take a hand in this fight?» I gave my consent.
Sedov then proceeded to inform Pyatakov of the lines along which Trotsky was proposing to reorganize the Opposition: –
. . . Sedov went on to outline the nature of the new methods of struggle: there could be no question of developing a mass struggle of any form, of organizing a mass movement; if we adopted any kind of mass work we would come to grief immediately; Trotsky was firmly in favor of the forcible overthrow of the Stalin leadership by methods of terrorism and wrecking. Sedov further said that Trotsky drew attention to the fact that a struggle confined to one country would be absurd and the international question could not possibly be evaded. In this struggle we must also have the necessary solution for the international problem, or rather, inter-state problems.
Whoever tries to brush these questions aside, said Sedov, relating what Trotsky said, signs his own testimonium pauperatis.
A second meeting between Sedov and Pyatakov soon followed. This time Sedov said to him: «You realize, Yuri Leonodovich, that inasmuch as the fight has been resumed, money is needed. You can provide the necessary funds for the fight.» Sedov informed Pyatakov how this could be done. In his official capacity as trade representative of the Soviet Government in Germany, Pyatakov was to place as many orders as possible with the two German firms, Borsig and Demag. Pyatakov was not to be «particularly exacting as to prices» in dealing with these concerns. Trotsky had an arrangement with Borsig and Demag. «You will have to pay higher prices,» said Sedov, «but this money will go for our work.»(2)
There were two other secret oppositionists in Berlin in 1931 whom Sedov put to work in the new Trotskyite apparatus. They were Alexei Shestov, an engineer on Pyatakov’s trade mission, and Sergei Bessonov, a member of the Berlin Trade Representation of the U.S.S.R.
Bessonov, a former Social Revolutionary, was a tubby, mild-appearing, dark-complexioned man in his middle forties. The Berlin Trade Representation of which Bessonov was a member was the most central Soviet trade agency in Europe and conducted trade negotiations with ten different countries; Bessonov himself was permanently stationed in Berlin. He was therefore ideally equipped to serve as a «liaison point» between the Russian Trotskyites and their exiled leader. It was arranged that secret Trotskyite communications from Russia would be sent to Bessonov in Berlin who would then relay them to Sedov or Trotsky.
Alexei Shestov was a different personality, and his job was to be suited to his temperament. He was to become one of the chief organizers of the German-Trotskyite espionage and sabotage cells in Siberia where he was a member of the Board of the Eastern and Siberian Coal Trust. Shestov was in his early thirties. In 1923, while still a student in the Moscow Mining Institute, Shestov had joined the Trotskyite Opposition, and in 1927 he headed one of the secret printing presses in Moscow. A slim, pale-eyed young man with an intense, violent disposition, Shestov followed Trotsky with fanatical devotion. «I met Trotsky several times personally,» he liked to boast. To Shestov, Trotsky was «the leader,» and that was how he almost invariably referred to him.
«It’s no use sitting around and whistling for fair weather,» Sedov told Shestov when they met in Berlin. «We must proceed with all forces and means at our disposal to an active policy of discrediting Stalin’s leadership and Stalin’s policy.» Trotsky held that «the only correct way, a difficult way but a sure one, was forcibly to remove Stalin and the leaders of the Government by means of terrorism.»
«We have really gotten into a blind alley,» Shestov readily agreed. «It is necessary to disarm or to map out a new path of struggle!»
Sedov asked Shestov if he knew a German industrialist by the name of «Herr Dehlmann.» Shestov said he knew him by reputation. Dehlmann was a director of the firm Frölich-Klüpfel-Dehlmann. Many of the firm’s engineers were employed in the west Siberian mines where Shestov himself worked.
Sedov then told Shestov that he was to «get in touch with Dehlmann» before he returned to Soviet Russia. The Dehlmann firm, explained Sedov, could be very helpful to the Trotskyite organization in «undermining Soviet economy» in Siberia. Herr Dehlmann was already helping to smuggle Trotskyite propaganda and agents into the Soviet Union. In return, Shestov could supply Herr Dehlmann with certain information about the new Siberian mines and industries, in which the German director was particularly interested. . . .
«Are you advising me to make a deal with the firm?» asked Shestov.
«What’s so terrible about that?» replied Trotsky’s son. «If they are doing us a favor, why shouldn’t we do them a favor and furnish them with certain information?»
«You’re simply proposing that I become a spy!» exclaimed Shestov.
Sedov shrugged his shoulders. «It’s absurd to use words like that,» he said. «In a fight it is unreasonable to be as squeamish as that. If you accept terrorism, if you accept destructive undermining in industry, I absolutely fail to understand why you cannot agree with this.»
A few days later, Shestov saw Smirnov and told him what Trotsky’s son had said to him.
«Sedov ordered me to establish connections with the firm of Frölich-Klüpfel-Dehlmann,» said Shestov. «He bluntly told me to establish connections with a firm engaged in espionage and sabotage in the Kuzbas. In that case I’ll be a spy and a saboteur.»
«Stop slinging about big words like ‘spy’ and ‘saboteur’!» cried Smirnov. «Time is passing and it is necessary to act. . . . What is there that surprises you in that we consider it possible to overthrow the Stalin leadership by mobilizing all the counter-revolutionary forces in the Kuzbas? What do you find so terrible in enlisting German agents for this work? . . . There is no other way. We have to agree to it.»
Shestov was silent. Smirnov said to him, «Well, how is your mood?»
«I have no personal mood,» said Shestov. «I do as our leader Trotsky taught us – stand at attention and wait for orders!» Before he left Berlin, Shestov met Herr Dehlmann, the director of the German firm which was financing Trotsky. Shestov was recruited, under the code name of «Alyosha,» into the German Military Intelligence Service. Shestov subsequently stated: –
I met the director of this firm, Dehlmann, and his assistant Koch. The essence of the conversation with the heads of the firm Frölich-Klüpfel-Dehmann was as follows: first, on supplying secret information through the representatives of this firm working in the Kuznetsk Basin and on the organization of wrecking and diversive work together with the Trotskyites. It was also said that the firm in its turn would help us and that they could send more people upon the demand of our organization. . . . They would in every way help the Trotskyites to come to power. (3)
On his return to Soviet Russia, Shestov brought back a letter which Sedov had given to him for Pyatakov, who had returned to Moscow. Shestov hid the letter in the sole of one of his shoes. He delivered it to Pyatakov at the Commissariat of Heavy Industry. The letter was from Trotsky himself, written from Prinkipo. It outlined the «immediate tasks» confronting the Opposition in Soviet Russia.
The first task was «to use every possible means to overthrow Stalin and his associates.» This meant terrorism.
The second task was «to unite all anti-Stalin forces.» This meant collaboration with the German Military Intelligence and any other anti-Soviet force that would work with the Opposition.
The third task was «to counteract all measures of the Soviet Government and the Party, particularly in the economic field.» This meant sabotage.
Pyatakov was to be Trotsky’s chief lieutenant in charge of the conspiratorial apparatus inside Soviet Russia.
3. The Three Layers
Throughout 1932, Russia’s future Fifth Column began to take concrete shape in the underworld of the Opposition. At small secret meetings and furtive conferences, the members of the conspiracy were made aware of the new line and instructed in their new tasks. A network of terrorist cells, sabotage cells and courier systems was developed in Soviet Russia. In Moscow and Leningrad, in the Caucasus and in Siberia, in the Donbas and in the Urals, Trotskyite organizers addressed motley secret gatherings of die-hard enemies of the Soviet regime – Social Revolutionaries, Mensheviks, leftists, rightists, nationalists, anarchists and White Russian fascists and monarchists. The message of Trotsky was spread through the seething underworld of oppositionists, spies and secret agents; a new offensive against the Soviet regime was under way.
Trotsky’s emphatic demand for the preparation of acts of terror at first alarmed some of the older Trotskyite intellectuals. The journalist Karl Radek showed signs of panic when Pyatakov acquainted him with the new line. In February 1932, Radek received a personal letter from Trotsky conveyed, as were all Trotskyite communications of a confidential character, by secret courier.
«You must bear in mind,» Trotsky wrote his wavering follower, Radek, «the experience of the preceding period and realize that for you there can be no returning to the past, that the struggle has entered a new phase and that the new feature in this phase is that either we shall be destroyed together with the Soviet Union, or we must raise the question of removing the leadership.»
Trotsky’s letter, together with Pyatakov’s insistence, finally convinced Radek. He agreed to accept the new line – terrorism, sabotage and collaboration with «foreign powers.»
Among the most active organizers of the terrorist cells which were now built throughout the Soviet Union were Ivan Smirnov and his old comrades in the Trotsky Guard: Serge Mrachkovsky and Ephraim Dreitzer.
Under Smirnov’s direction, Mrachkovsky and Dreitzer began forming small groups of professional gunmen and former Trotskyite associates from civil-war days who were ready for violent methods.
«The hopes we’ve placed on the collapse of the Party’s policy,» Mrachkovsky told one of these terrorist groups in Moscow in 1932, «must be considered doomed. The methods of struggle used until now haven’t produced any positive results. There remains only one path of struggle, and that is the removal of the leadership of the Party by violence. Stalin and the other leaders must be removed. That is the principal task!»
Meanwhile, Pyatakov was engaged in seeking out conspirators in key industrial jobs, especially in the war industries and transport, and recruiting them for the all-out sabotage campaign that Trotsky wanted to launch against the Soviet economy.
By the summer of 1932, an agreement to suspend past rivalries and differences, and to work together under Trotsky’s supreme command, was under discussion between Pyatakov, as Trotsky’s lieutenant in Russia, and Bukharin, the leader of the Right Opposition. The smaller group headed by the veteran oppositionists, Zinoviev and Kamenev, agreed to subordinate its activities to Trotsky’s authority. Describing the hectic negotiations which were going on between the conspirators at this time, Bukharin later said: –
I had talks with Pyatakov, Tomsky and Rykov. Rykov had talks with Kamenev, and Zinoviev with Pyatakov. In the summer of 1932 I had a second conversation with Pyatakov in the People’s Commissariat of Heavy Industry. At that time this was a very simple matter for me, since I was working under Pyatakov. At that time he was my boss. I had to go into his private office on business, and I could do so without arousing suspicion. . . .
In this talk, which took place in the summer of 1932, Pyatakov told me of his meeting with Sedov concerning Trotsky’s policy of terrorism . . . we decided that we would find a common language very soon and that our differences in the struggle against Soviet power would be overcome.
The final negotiations were concluded that fall at a secret meeting which was held in a deserted dacha, summer house, on the outskirts of Moscow. Sentries were posted by the conspirators around the house and along all roads leading to it to guard against surprise and to ensure absolute secrecy. At this meeting something like a High Command of the combined Opposition forces was formed to direct the coming campaigns of terror and sabotage throughout the Soviet Union. This High Command of the Opposition was named the «Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites.» It was constructed on three different levels or layers. If one of the layers was exposed, the others would carry on.
The first layer, the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center, headed by Zinoviev, was responsible for the organization and direction of terrorism.
The second layer, the Trotskyite Parallel Center, headed by Pyatakov, was responsible for the organization and direction of sabotage.
The third and most important layer, the actual Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites, headed by Bukharin and Krestinsky, comprised most of the leaders and highest-ranking members of the combined Opposition forces.
The entire apparatus consisted of not more than a few thousand members and some twenty or thirty leaders who held positions of authority in the army, Foreign Office, secret service, industry, trade-unions, Party and Government offices.
From the start, the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites was penetrated and led by paid agents of foreign Intelligence Services, especially of the German Military Intelligence. These are some of the foreign agents who were leading members of the new conspiratorial bloc: –
Nicolai Krestinsky, Trotskyite and Assistant Commissar of Foreign Affairs, was an agent of the German Military Intelligence since 1923, when he first undertook espionage assignments from General Hans von Seeckt.
Arkady Rosengoltz, Trotskyite and People’s Commissar of Foreign Trade, had been carrying out espionage assignments for the German High Command since 1923. «My espionage activities began as far back as 1923,» Rosengoltz himself later related, «when, on Trotsky’s instructions, I handed various secret information to the Commander-in-Chief of the Reichswehr, Seeckt, and to the Chief of the German General Staff, Hasse.» In 1926 Rosengoltz began working for the British Intelligence Service, while maintaining his connections with Germany.
Christian Rakovsky, Trotskyite and former Ambassador to Great Britain and France, agent of the British Intelligence Service since 1924. In Rakovskv’s own words: «I established criminal connections with the British Intelligence Service in 1924.» In 1934, Rakovsky also became an agent of the Japanese Intelligence Service.
Stanislav Rataichak, Trotskyite and Chief of the Central Administration of the Chemical Industry; agent of the German Military Intelligence. He had been sent into Soviet Russia by the Germans immediately after the Revolution. He carried on espionage and sabotage activities in the industries being built by the Soviet Government in the Urals.
Ivan Hrasche, Trotskyite, executive in the Soviet chemical industry, came into Soviet Russia as a spy for the Czechoslovakian Intelligence Service in 1919, disguised as a returning Russian prisoner of war. Hrasche became an agent of the German Intelligence Service.
Alexei Shestov , Trotskyite, and member of the Board of Eastern and Siberian Coal Trust, became an agent of the German Intelligence Service in 1931, working for it through the German firm of Frölich-Klüpfel-Dehlmann and carrying out espionage and sabotage assignments in Siberia.
Gavrill Pushin, Trotskyite, and executive at the Gorlovka Chemical Works, became an agent of the German Military Intelligence in 1935. According to his own subsequent admission to the Soviet authorities, he provided the Germans with: «(1) figures of the output of all Soviet chemical enterprises during 1934; (2) the program of work of all Soviet chemical enterprises for 1935; (3) the plan of construction of nitrogen works which comprised construction work up to 1938.»
Yakov Livshitz, Trotskyite and official on the Soviet Far Eastern Railroad Commission, was an agent of the Japanese Military intelligence and regularly transmitted to Japan secret information concerning the Soviet railroads.
Ivan Knyazev, Trotskyite, and executive on the Urals railroad system; agent of the Japanese Intelligence Service. Under its supervision, he carried on sabotage activities in the Urals, and kept the Japanese High Command supplied with information about the Soviet transport system.
Yosif Turok, Trotskyite, and Assistant Manager of the Traffic Department on the Perm and Urals Railway; agent of the Japanese Intelligence Service. In 1935 Turok received 35.000 rubles from the Japanese in payment for the espionage and sabotage assignments he was carrying out in the Urals.
Mikhail Chernov, a member of the Rights, and People’s Commissar of Agriculture of the U.S.S.R.; agent of the German Military Intelligence since 1928. Under the supervision of the Cermans, Chernov carried out extensive sabotage, as well as espionage assignments, in the Ukraine.
Vasily Sharangovich, a member of the Rights, and Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Byelorussia, had been sent into Soviet Russia as a Polish spy in 1921. During the following years he continued to work under the supervision of the Polish Intelligence Service, supplying it with espionage data as well as carrying on sabotage activities in Byelorussia.
Grigori Grinko, a member of the Rights and an official of the People’s Commissariat of Finance; agent of the German and Polish Intelligence Services since 1932. He was a leader of the fascist Ukrainian nationalist movement, helped smuggle arms and ammunition into the Soviet Union and carried on espionage and sabotage work for the Germans and the Poles.
The conspiratorial apparatus of the Trotskyites, Rights and Zinovievites was, in fact, the Axis Fifth Column in Soviet Russia.
(1) For Nin’s later connections with the Fascist Fifth Column in Spain, see footnote on page 283.
(1)(2) (2) The firms Borsig and Demag were «fronts» for the German Military Intelligence. By dealing with these firms, Pyatakov was able to place considerable sums at the disposal of Trotsky. An independent witness, the American engineer, John D. Littlepage personally observed Pyatakov’s dealings with these German firms. Littlepage was employed by the Soviet Government in the capacity of an expert in the gold and copper mining industries In a series of articles concerning his experiences in Soviet Russia, published in the Saturday Evening Post in January 1938, Littlepage wrote:-
«I went to Berlin in the spring of 1931 with a large purchasing commission headed by Pyatakov; my job was to offer technical advice on purchases of mining machinery. . . .
«Among other things, the commission in Berlin was buying several dozen mine hoists, ranging from 100 to 1,000 horse-power. . . . The commission asked for quotations on the basis of pfennigs per kilogram. After some discussion, the German concerns [Borsig and Demag] . . . reduced their prices between 5 and 6 pfennigs per kilogram. When I studied these proposals, I discovered that the firms had substituted cast-iron bases weighing several tons for the light steel provided in the specifications, which would reduce the cost of production per kilogram, but increase the weight, and therefore the cost to purchaser.
«Naturally, I was pleased to make this discovery, and reported to members of the commission with a sense of triumph. . . . The matter was so arranged that Pyatakov could have gone back to Moscow and showed that he had been very successful in reducing prices, but at the same time would have paid out money for a lot of worthless cast iron and enabled the Germans to give him very substantial rebates. . . . He got away with the same trick on some other mines, although I blocked this one.»
Later, Littlepage observed several instances of industrial sabotage in the Urals, where, because of the work of a Trotskyite engineer named Kabakov, production in certain mines was deliberately kept down. In 1937, states Littlepage, Kabakov was «arrested on charges of industrial sabotage. . . . When I heard of his arrest, I was not surprised.» Again, in 1937, Littlepage found further evidence of sabotage in Soviet industry directed personally by Pyatakov. The American engineer had reorganized certain valuable mines in southern Kazakstan and left detailed written instructions for the Soviet workers to follow so as to ensure maximum production. «Well,» writes Littlepage, «one of my last jobs in Russia, in 1937, was a hurry call to return to these same mines. . . . Thousands of tons of rich ore already had been lost beyond recovery, and in a few more weeks, if nothing had been done meanwhile, the whole deposit might have been lost. I discovered that . . . a commission came in from Pyatakov’s headquarters. . . . My instructions had been thrown in the stove, and a system of mining introduced throughout those mines which was certain to cause the loss of a large part of the ore body in a few months.» Littlepage found «flagrant examples of deliberate sabotage.» Just before he left Russia, and after he had submitted a full written report on his findings to the Soviet authorities, many members of the Trotskyite sabotage ring were rounded up. Littlepage found that the saboteurs had used his instructions «as the basis for deliberately wrecking the plant» by doing exactly the opposite of what he had instructed. The saboteurs admitted, Littlepage stated in the Saturday Evening Post, that «they had been drawn into a conspiracy against the Stalin regime by opposition Communists, who convinced them that they were strong enough to overthrow Stalin and his associates and seize power for themselves.»
(3) The Germans were particularly concerned about the new industrial base which Stalin was building in far-off West Siberia and in the Urals. This base was out of range of bombing planes and, in the event of war, might prove a major factor on the Soviet side. The Germans wanted to penetrate this base with spies and saboteurs. Borsig, Demag and Frölich-Klüpfel-Dehlmann, which had contracts with the Soviet Government whereby they were supplying machinery and technical assistance for the Five-Year Plan, were used as «fronts» by the German Military Intelligence. German spies and saboteurs were sent to Russia posing as «engineers’ and «specialists.»
The German Military Intelligence also recruited agents from among Soviet engineers in Germany who were susceptible to blackmail or bribery. One Soviet engineer, Mikhail Stroilov, who was enlisted as a German spy in Berlin in December 1930, and was subsequently recruited into the Trotskyite organization in Siberia, told a Soviet court after his arrest in 1937:
«The thing started gradually with my meeting with [the German spy] von Berg. . . . He spoke Russian excellently because he had lived in Russia, in St. Petersburg, 15 or 20 years before the revolution. This man visited the Technical Bureau several times and had talks with me on business matters, in particular about hard alloys manufactured by the firm of Walram. . . . Berg advised me to read Trotsky’s My Life. . . . In Novosibirsk, German specialists began to come to me with the agreed password. Until the end of 1934 six men came to see me: Sommeregger, Worm, Baumgarten, Maas, Hauer and Flessa [«engineers» employed by the German firm, Frölich-Klüpfel-Dehlmann].. . . . My first report, made on January 1932 through engineer Flessa, and telling of the vast plan of development in the Kuznetsk Basin, was in effect espionage. . . . I received instructions . . . that I should proceed to decisive wrecking and destructive acts . . . the plan of wrecking and destructive work was drawn up … by the West-Siberian Trotskyite organization.»