ALLIANCE REPRINT ON
TWO DOCUMENTS ON THE SO CALLED "LENIN TESTAMENT"
These two documents were first
printed separately. The first is an article that formed the basis of a
talk given by Comrade W.B.Bland of the Communist League (UK) to the Stalin
Society, and then printed in 1991.
The second article followed the
publication of the un-earthed "Stalin’s Letters To Molotov"; and was written
and published by Alliance in issue 15, 1994.
Later they were two articles
re-printed in the compilation: "The Lie of The "Lenin Testament" – by North
Star Compass in Toronto in 1997.
This Version: 1999.
'LENIN'S TESTAMENT' - (1922-23).
By W.B.Bland for the Communist
THE CHARGE: That in 1922 Lenin
Advised the Russian Communist Party to Remove Stalin from the Top Post
of General Secretary.
"In December 1922 in a letter
to the Party Congress Vladimir Ilyich (Lenin -- Ed.) wrote . . a political
document of tremendous importance, known in the Party history as
. Vladimir Ilyich
said: "I propose that the comrades consider the method by which Stalin
would be removed from this position (of General Secretary of the Communist
Party of the Soviet Union). " N.S.
Khrushchev: Secret Speech to 20th CongressCPSU, in: Russian Institute,
Columbia Univ (Ed.):'The Anti-Stalin Campaign and International Communism:
A Selection of Documents'; New York; 1956; p. 6, 7.
Khrushchev's charge -- as above
-- is inaccurate in only one detail. Lenin did not write the document known
as 'Lenin's Testament', it was in fact dictated
by Lenin to one of his secretaries, Lidya
However its authenticity has never been challenged. The passage concerned
in Lenin's letter reads:
"Stalin is too rude, and
this defect becomes intolerable in a Secretary General. That is why I suggest
that the comrades think about a way of removing Stalin from that post".
V.I. Lenin: Letter to the Congress, in: 'Collected
Works', Volume 36; Moscow: 1966; p. 596.
However, there are some puzzling features
about Lenin's action in dictating this and some other passages in the letter.
LENIN'S ASSESSMENT OF STALIN
One puzzling feature about the document
known as 'Lenin's Testament' is that throughout
Lenin's political life until late 1922, his assessment of Stalin was extremely
For example, as long ago as February
1913 Lenin was describing Stalin, in a letter to the writer Maksim Gorky*,
as ‘a marvellous Georgian’:
"We have a marvellous Georgian
who has sat down to write a big article for ‘Prosveshcheniye’, for which
he has collected all the Austrian and other materials". V.I.
Lenin: Letter to Maksim Gorky, in: 'Collected Works', Volume 35; Moscow;
1966; p. 84.
A little later, in December 1913 Lenin
was characterising Stalin as the Party's leading Marxist analyst of the
"The situation and the fundamentals
of a national programme for Social-Democracy have recently been dealt with
in Marxist theoretical literature (the most prominent place being taken
by Stalin's article)". V.I.
Lenin: 'The National Programme of the RSDLP', in: 'Coll Works', Vol 19;
Moscow; 1963; p.539..
And as late as March 1922, at the
11th Congress of the Russian Communist Party, Lenin was defending Stalin
against criticism from Yevgeny Preobrazhensky* over the fact that Stalin
held the posts of both People's Commissar of Nationalities and People's
Commissar of State Control:
"The 'Turkestan, Caucasian and
other questions . . are all political questions! They have to be settled.
These are questions that have engaged the attention of European states
for hundreds of years. . We are settling them; and we need a man to whom
the representatives of any of these nations can go and discuss their difficulties
in all detail. Where can we find such a man? I don't think Comrade Preobrazhensky
could suggest any better candidate than Comrade Stalin... The same thing
applies to the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection. This is a vast business;
but to be able to handle investigations we must have at the head of it
a man who enjoys high prestige, otherwise we shall become submerged in
and overwhelmed by petty intrigue".
V.I. Lenin: 'The National Programme of the RSDLP',
in: 'Coll Works', Vol 19; Moscow; 1963; p.539.
Indeed, it was
on Lenin's proposal that in April 1922,
after the Congress, the Central Committee elected Stalin to the highest
post in the Party - that of General Secretary:
"On Lenin's motion, the Plenum
of the Central Committee, on April 3 1922, elected Stalin . . . General
Secretary of the Central Committee". G.
F. Aleksandrov et al (Eds.): 'Joseph Stalin: A Short Biography'; Moscow;
1947; p. 74-75.
"After the congress, the Central
Committee, on Lenin's proposal, elected Stalin . . as General Secretary
of the Central Committee".Marx-Engels-Lenin
Institute: 'Lenin'; London; 1943; p. 183
"A new Central Committee.. voted
to establish the post of General Secretary to run the Secretariat and named
Stalin to this office. It is highly probable that Lenin initiated this
decision". R. H. McNeal:
'Stalin: Man and Ruler' (hereafter listed as 'R. H.McNeal:1988'); Basingstoke;1988;
"It is.. fanciful for some Soviet
historians, official and unofficial, to suggest that Stalin was not
Lenin's personal choice for the post of General Secretary of the Central
Committee to which he was elevated in April 1922". A.
B. Ulam: 'Stalin: The Man and his Era'; London; 1989; p. 205.
"The obvious and indeed the only
man with the knowledge, efficiency and authority for this key post (of
General Secretary - Ed.) was Stalin. There can be no doubt that Lenin supported
the nomination, which he probably initiated".I.
Grey: 'Stalin: Man of History'; London; 1979; p. 159.
Clearly, something occurred in late
1922 to cause Lenin radically to alter the opinion of Stalin he had held
until that date.
LENIN'S ASSESSMENT OF
There is a similar puzzling feature
about references to Trotsky in the document known as 'Lenin's Testament'.
In it Lenin says:
"Comrade Trotsky . . is distinguished
not only by outstanding ability. He is personally perhaps the most capable
man in the present CC".V.I.
Lenin: Letter to the Congress, in: 'Collected Works;, Volume 36; Moscow;
1966; p. 595.
It is, indeed, an important feature
of Trotskyist mythology that during the period of Lenin's leadership of
the Russian Communist Party Trotsky's relations with Lenin and the Party
were relations or 'mutual confidence', and that Trotsky's conflict with
the Party only began following Stalin's accession to the Party leadership.
This picture, however, is quite false.
In brief the following major policy
disagreements and violent differences between Lenin and Trotsky are traced
by dates :
At the 2nd Congress of the Russian
Social-Democratic labour Party in July-August. 1903, Trotsky's sympathetic
biographer, Isaac Deutscher*, records that
"Trotsky was one of Lenin's most
vocal opponents. He charged Lenin with the attempt to build up a closed
organisation of conspiracy not a party of the working class.. . . Lenin
. . mildly and persuasively appealed to Trotsky. All was in vain. Trotsky
was stiffening in hostility". Deutscher:
'Prophet Armed: Trotsky: 1879-1921' (hereafter : 'I. Deutscher:1989 (1)';
Oxford; 1989; p.80-81.
Shortly after the Congress, Trotsky
wrote the 'Report of the Siberian Delegation' (of which he was a member).
In this report he charged that Lenin 'resembles Maximilian Robespierre'*,
although only as
‘a vulgar farce resembles historic
tragedy’". L.D. Trotsky:
'Vtoroi Syezd RSDRP (Otchet Sibirskoi Delegatsy)'; Geneva; 1903; p. 33.
"Once he had made up his mind
against Lenin, he did not mince his words. He attacked with all his intensity
of feeling and with all the sweep to his invective". L.D.
Trotsky: 'Vtoroi Syezd RSDRP (Otchet Sibirskoi Delegatsy)'; Geneva; 1903;
In August 1904 Trotsky published
his pamphlet 'Our Political Tasks', in which he strongly attacked as 'Jacobinism'**
Lenin's concept that a disciplined party was essential to lead the working
people to carry through a socialist revolution and supported the idea of
a 'workers' party' modelled on the lines of the social-democratic parties
of Western Europe:
"Lenin's methods lead to this:
the party organisation at first substitutes itself for the party as a whole;
then the Central Committee substitutes itself for the organisation; and
finally a single 'dictator' substitutes himself for the Central Committee.
.... Is it so difficult to see that any serious group . . when it is confronted
by the dilemma whether it should, from a sense of discipline, silently
efface itself, or, regardless of discipline struggle for survival - will
undoubtedly choose the latter course . and say: perish that 'discipline'
which suppresses the vital interests of the movement. This evil-minded
and morally repugnant suspicion of Lenin, this shallow caricature of the
tragic intolerance of Jacobinism. . must be liquidated at the present time
at all costs, otherwise the party is threatened by complete political,
moral and theoretical decay". L.
D. Trotsky: 'Nos Taches Politiques'; Paris; 1970; p. 192.
Trotsky's biographer Deutscher comments
on this book:
"Hardly any Menshevik* writer
attacked Lenin with so much personal venom. 'Hideous', 'dissolute', 'demagogical',
'slovenly attorney', 'malicious and morally repulsive', these were the
epithets which Trotsky threw at the man who had so recently held out to
him the hand of fellowship, who had brought him to Western Europe, who
had promoted him" .I.
Deutscher: 1989 (1): p. 93.
However, Lenin was equally scathing
about Trotsky. In October 1904 Lenin wrote:
"A new pamphlet by Trotsky came
out recently. . . The pamphlet is a pack of brazen lies". V.
I. Lenin: Letter to Yelena Stasova and Others, in: 'Collected Works'; Volume
43; Moscow; 1969; p. 129.
By August 1909 Lenin was writing:
"Trotsky behaves like a despicable
careerist and factionalist. He pays lip-service to the Party and behaves
worse than any other of the factionalists". V.
I. Lenin: Letter to Grigory Zinoviev, in: 'Collected Works', Volume 34;
Moscow; 1966; p. 399-400.
In March-June 1910 Lenin was
"Trotsky expressed the full
spirit of the worst kind of conciliation, 'conciliation' in inverted commas
. . . which actually renders the most faithful service to the liquidators**
and Otzovists**. . This position of . . Trotsky is wrong".
V. I. Lenin: 'Notes of a Publicist',
in: 'Collected Works', Volume 16; Moscow; 1963; p. 211, 251.
In December 1910, Lenin was no kinder
to Trotsky, whose resolution said Lenin :
"Expresses the very aim of the
'Golos'** group - to destroy the central bodies . .
. and with them the Party as an organisation".
V.I. Lenin: 'The State
Volume 17; Moscow; 1968; of Affairs in the Party', in: 'Collected Works',
"Trotsky's call for ‘friendly’ collaboration
by the Party with the 'Gobs' and 'Vpered'** is disgusting hypocricisy and
phrase-mongering. Trotsky groups all the enemies of Marxism. .. Trotsky
unites all to whom ideological decay is dear, all who are not concerned
with the defence of Marxism. struggle against the splitting tactics and
the unprincipled adventurism of Trotsky!" V.
I. Lenin: ‘To Russian Collegium
of the CC of RSDLP, in: 'Works', Vol 17; Mos; 1963; p. 20, 21, 22 .
And at the end of 1910 Lenin was speaking
"The resonant but empty phrases
of which our Trotsky is a master...Trotsky distorts Bolshevism, because
he has never been able to form any definite views on the role of the
proletariat in the Russian bourgeois revolution. That Trotsky's venture
is an attempt to create a faction is obvious to all. Trotsky . . .represents
only his own personal vacillations and nothing more. In 1903 he was a Menshevik;
he abandoned Menshevism in 1904, returned to the Mensheviks in 1905 and
merely flaunted ultra-revolutionary phrases.
One day Trotsky plagiarises from
the ideological stock-in-trade of one faction; the next day he plagiarises
that of another, and therefore declares himself to be standing above both
factions. I am obliged to declare that Trotsky represents only his own
faction and enjoys a certain amount of confidence exclusively among the
Otzovists and the liquidators." V.I.Lenin:
'Historical Meaning of Inner-Party Struggle in Russia', in: 'Works', Vol
16; p. 375, 380, 389, 391.
In January 1911 Lenin was referring
to Trotsky as : "Judas Trotsky".V.
I . Lenin: 'Judas Trotsky's Blush of Shame', in: 'Collected Works', Volume
17; Moscow; 1968; p. 45.
In September 1911 Lenin declared:
"The 'Trotskyites . . .' are more
pernicious than any liquidator. The Trotskys deceive the workers". V.
I. Lenin: 'From the Camp of Stolypin Labour Party', 'Coll Works', Vol 17;
Mos; 1968; p. 243.
In October 1911:
"Trotsky expressed conciliationism
** more consistently than anyone else. He was probably the only one who
attempted to give the trend a theoretical foundation. Ever since the spring
of 1910 Trotsky has been deceiving
the workers in a most unprincipled and shameless manner by assuring them
that the obstacles to unity were principally (if not wholly) of an organisational
The only difference between Trotsky
and the conciliators in Paris is that the latter regard Trotsky as a factionalist
and themselves as non-factional, whereas Trotsky holds the opposite view.
.Trotsky provides us with an abundance of instances of scheming to establish
unprincipled 'unity'". Lenin:
'The New Faction of Conciliators, or the Virtuous', in: 'Works', Vol 17;
1968; p. 258, 260, 264, 270.
and in December 1911:
"It is impossible to argue with
Trotsky on the merits of the issue because Trotsky holds no views whatever.
. In his case the thing to do is to expose him as a diplomat of the smallest
calibre".V. I. Lenin:
'Trotsky's Diplomacy and a Certain Party Platform', in:'Works', Vol 17;
1968; p. 362.
The Prague conference in January
1912 proclaimed the Bolsheviks alone to be the Party. In his paper 'Pravda'**
"Trotsky denounced Lenin's venture
with much sound and fury. His anger rose to highest pitch in April, when
the Bolsheviks began to publish in Petersburg a daily called 'Pravda'.
. He thundered against the 'theft' and 'usurpation' . . committed by .
. 'the circle which lives and thrives only through chaos and confusion".
I. Deutscher: 1989 (1);
p. 198-99 .
Lenin wrote in July 1912 to the editor
of the paper:
In August 1912 Trotsky's group got
together with the Mensheviks, Jewish Bund** and others to form an anti-Bolshevik
coalition known as the 'August Bloc'. Trotsky's biographer Deutscher comments:
"Trotsky was that bloc's chief
mouthpiece, indefatigable at castigating Lenin's 'disruptive work". I.
Deutscher: 1989 (1); p. 200.
In November 1912 Lenin was writing:
"Look at the platform of the liquidators.
Its liquidationist essence is artfully concealed by Trotsky's revolutionary
phrases". V.I. Lenin:
'The Platform of the Reformists and the Platform of Revolutionary Social-Democrats',
in:'Works', Vol 18, Moscow; 1968; p. 380.
Between February and May 1914
"I advise you to reply to Trotsky
through the post: 'To Trotsky'. (Vienna): We shall not reply to disruptive
and slanderous letters. Trotsky's dirty campaign against 'Pravda' is one
mass of lies and slander". V.I.
Lenin: Letter to the Editor of 'Pravda', in: 'Collected Works', Volume
35; Moscow; 1966; p. 41.
"Trotsky has never yet held a
firm opinion on any important question of Marxism.. At the present
moment he is in the company of the Bundists and the liquidators". V.I.
Lenin: 'The Right of Nations to Self-Determination', in: ‘Works’,
Vol 20; Moscow; 1964; p. 447-48.
In May, 1914:
"Trotsky is fond of high-sounding
and empty phrases. We were right in calling Trotsky a representative of
the 'worst remnants of factionalism'. Trotsky. . possesses no ideological
and political definiteness. Under cover of 'non-factionalism' Trotsky is
championing the interest of a group abroad which particularly lacks definite
principles and has no basis in the working-class movement in Russia. There
is much glitter and sound in Trotsky's phrases, but they are meaningless.
Joking is the only way of retorting mildly to Trotsky's insufferable phrase-mongering.
Trotsky is very fond of using with
the learned air of the expert pompous and high-sounding phrases, to explain
historical phenomena in a way that is flattering to Trotsky. .
Trotsky is trying
to disrupt the movement and cause a split..
Trotsky avoids facts and concrete
references .. because they relentlessly refute all his angry outcries and
At the end of 1903 Trotsky was an
ardent Menshevik. . . In 1904's he deserted the Mensheviks and occupied
a vacillating position, now proclaiming his absurdly Left 'permanent revolution'
theory. In the period of disintegration. . he again went to the right,
and in August 1912 he entered into a bloc with the liquidators. He has
now deserted them again, although in substance he reiterates their
shoddy ideas".V.I. Lenin:
'Disruption of Unity under Cover of Outcries for Unity', in: 'Collected
Works', Volume 20; Moscow; 1964; p. 329, 331, 332, 333-334, 345, 346-7.
In July 1915 Lenin was declaring:
"Trotsky... as always entirely
disagrees with the social-chauvinists** in principle, but agrees as always,
entirely disagrees with the social-in principle, but agrees with them ".
V.I. Lenin: 'The State
of Affairs in Russian Social-Democracy', in: 'Works', Vol 21;
Moscow; 1964; p. 284.
In the same month he was referring
"high-flown phraseology with which
Trotsky always justifies opportunism. The phrase-banding Trotsky has completely
lost his bearings on a simple issue". V.
T. Lenin: 'The Defeat of One's Own Government in the Imperialist War',
In.'Works', Vol 15;
Moscow; 1964; p. 275
And Lenin was denouncing Trotsky's
support for "the 'neither-victory-nor-defeat' slogan.
"Whoever is in favour of the slogan
of 'neither victory nor defeat' is consciously or unconsciously a chauvinist;
he is an enemy to proletarian policy… a partisan of the existing governments,
of the present ruling classes. Those who stand for the 'neither-victory-nor-defeat'
slogan are in fact on the side of the bourgeoisie and the opportunists,
for they do not believe in the possibility of international revolutionary
action by the working class against their own governments". V.I.
Lenin: 'The Defeat of One's Own Government in the Imperialist War', in:
'Collected Works', Volume 21; Moscow; 1964; p. 278, 279, 280.
Between July and August 1915 we find
Lenin saying that :
"Phrase-lovers . . like Trotsky
defend - in opposition to us - the peace slogan". V.I.
Lenin: 'The "Peace" Slogan Appraised', Volume 21; ‘Works’;
Moscow; 1964; p. 288.
and Lenin was asserting that :
"In Russia, Trotsky. . . defends
unity with the opportunist and chauvinist 'Nashe Zarya'** group". V.I.
Lenin: 'Socialism and War', in: 'Collected Works', Volume 29; Moscow; 1964;
In November 1915 Lenin was saying:
"Trotsky . . is repeating his
'original' 1905 theory and refuses to give some thought to the reason why,
in the course of ten years, life has been by-passing this splendid theory.
From the Bolsheviks Trotsky's original theory has borrowed their call for
a decisive proletarian revolutionary struggle and the conquest of political
power by the proletariat, while from the Mensheviks it has borrowed 'repudiation
of the peasantry's role. .Trotsky is, in fact, helping the liberal-labour
politicians in Russia who by 'repudiation' of the role of the peasantry
understand a refusal to raise up the peasants".V.I.
Lenin: 'On the Two Lines in the Revolution', in ''Works', Vol21; Moscow;
1964; p. 419, 420.
In March 1916 Lenin wrote to Henriette
"What are our differences with
Trotsky? . In brief - he is a Kautskyite** V.I.
Lenin: Letter to Henriette Roland-Holst, in: 'Collected 'Works', Volume
43; Moscow 1969;p. 515-16.
and in the same month was declaring:
"Trotsky . . is body and soul
for self-determination, but in his case it is an empty phrase".V.I.
Lenin: 'The Peace Programme', in: 'Collected Works', Volume 22; Moscow;
1964; p. 167.
In June 1916 Lenin declared:
"No matter what the subjective
'good' intentions of Trotsky and Martov* may be, their evasiveness objectively
supports Russian social-imperialism".V.I.
Lenin: 'Discussion on Self-Determination Summed Up in:'Works', Volume 22;
Moscow; 1964; p. 360
In February 1917 Lenin was writing
respectively to Aleksandra Kollontai* and Inessa Armand*:
"What a swine this Trotsky is
- Left phrases and a bloc with the Right . !!. He ought to be exposed".
to Aleksandra Kollontai, in: 'Collected Works', Volume 35; Moscow; 1966;
"Trotsky arrived, and this scoundrel
at once ganged up with the Right
wing of 'Novy Mir'**. . . That's Trotsky for you!! Always true to himself
‘ twists, swindles, poses as a Left, helps
the Right". V.I Lenin:
Letter to Inessa Armand, in: 'Collected Works', Volume 35; Moscow; 1966;
In April 1917 Lenin reported to the
Petrograd City Conference of the RSDLP:
"Trotskyism: 'No Tsar but a workers'
government'. This is wrong". V.I.
Lenin: Concluding Remarks, Debate on the Present Situation, Petrograd City
Conference of RSDLP, in: 'Collected Works' Volume 24; Moscow;
1966; p. 150.
In May 1917 the Bolsheviks met the
'Inter-Borough Organisation', of which Trotsky was a member, to consider
the possibility of a merger. At the meeting Trotsky declared:
"I cannot call myself a Bolshevik.
We cannot be asked to recognise Bolshevism. The old factional name is undesirable"
L.D. Trotsky: Speech
at the Mezhraiontsji** Conference, in: Institute of Marxism-Leninism: 'Against
Trotskyism: Struggle of Lenin & CPSU against Trotskyism: Collection
of Documents'; Mos; 1972; p. l22..
On 15 December 1917, the new revolutionary
government of Soviet Russia signed an armistice with Germany, and on 22
December negotiations for a peace treaty began at Brest-Litovsk. The plan
of Trotsky, who led the Russia Soviet delegation, was as follows:
"We interrupt the war and do not
sign the peace - we demobilise the army". I.
Deutscher: 1989 (1); p. 175.
Lenin was strongly opposed to Trotsky's
"Lenin opposed . . . my plan discreetly
and calmly". L.D. Trotsky:
'Lenin'; New York; 1925; p. 135.
And so :
"Trotsky made a private arrangement
with Lenin. . . What would happen, Lenin anxiously asked, if they (the
(;Germans - Ed.) chose to resume hostilities? Lenin was rightly convinced
that this was bound to happen. Trotsky treated this danger lightly. but
he agreed to sign the peace if Lenin's fears proved justified". I.Deutscher:
1989 (1); p. 375.
On 9 February Trotsky announced to
the peace conference that
"While Russia was desisting from
signing a formal Peace Treaty, it declared the state of war ended with
Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria simultaneously, giving orders
for the complete demobilisation of Russian forces on all fronts".
I.Deutscher: 1989 (1); p. 375.
Trotsky's delegation then walked out
of the peace conference and returned to Petrograd.
On l5 February 1918, as Lenin had
foreseen, Germany resumed military operations against Soviet Russia. On
18 February 1918, the Central Committee instructed its delegation to sign
a peace treaty immediately. On 23 February 1918 the German government presented
new peace terms, significantly harsher than the earlier ones. The Peace
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was formally signed on 23 March 1918.
Lenin commented at the 7th Congress
of the RCP in March 1918:
"'That I predicted, has come to
pass: instead of the Brest peace we have a much more humiliating peace,
and the blame for this rests upon those who refused to accept the former
peace". V.I. Lenin: Political
Report of the Central Committee, Extraordinary 7th Congress of the RCP,
in: 'Collected Works', Volume 27; Moscow; 1965; p.102.
As the Foreword to 'Against Trotskyism",
issued by the Soviet revisionists in power in 1972, correctly expresses
"On the question of the Brest
Peace Treaty, Trotsky maintained an anti-Leninist stand, criminally
exposing the newly emerged Soviet Republic to mortal danger. As head of
the Soviet delegation to the peace talks, he ignored the instructions of
the Party Central Committee and the Soviet Government. At a crucial moment
of the talks he declared that the Soviet Republic was unilaterally withdrawing
from the war, announced that the Russian Army was being demobilised, and
The German Army mounted an offensive
and occupied considerable territory. As a result, much harsher peace terms
were put forward by the German Government". V.I.
Lenin: Political Report of the Central Committee, Extraordinary 7th Congress
of the RCP, in: 'Collected Works', Volume 27; Moscow; 1965; p.102.
And 'The 'Great Soviet Encyclopedia',
issued by the Soviet revisionists 1974, comments similarly:
"No less adventuristic and demagogic
was the position of L. D.Trotsky (People’s Commissar of Foreign
Affairs of the RSFSR at the time) who proposed to declare the war terminated
and to demobilise the army but not to sign the treaty. . As Trotsky, the
head of the Soviet delegation was leaving for Brest, it was agreed between
him and Lenin, the Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars, that
the negotiations were to be prolonged by all possible means until the presentation
of an ultimatum, after which the peace treaty should be signed immediately.
On January 28 Trotsky presented the adventuristic declaration that Soviet
Russia would terminate the war and demobilise its army but not sign the
peace. Trotsky refused further negotiations, and the Soviet delegation
left Brest-Litovsk". Great
Soviet Encyclopedia', Volume 4; New York; 1974; p. 66, 67.
In December 1920 Lenin wrote:
"I have had to enumerate my 'differences'
with Comrade Trotsky because, with such a broad theme as 'The Role and
Tasks of the Trade Unions’, he has, I am quite sure, made a number of mistakes
bearing on the very essence of the dictatorship of the proletariat". V.I.
Lenin: 'The Trade Unions, the Present Situation and Trotsky's Mistakes',
in: 'Collected Works', Volume 32; Moscow; 1965; p. 22.
In January 1921 Lenin severely
criticised Trotsky for dereliction of Party duty and factionalism:
"The Central Committee sets up a
trade union commission and elects Comrade Trotsky to it. Trotsky refuses
to work on the commission, magnifying by this step alone
his original mistake, which subsequently leads to factionalism, becomes
magnified and later leads to factionalism"'. V.I.
Lenin: 'The Party Crisis', in: 'Collected Works', Volume 32; Moscow; 1965;
and in the same month, Lenin criticised
him for his proposal to 'militarise' the trade unions:
"Comrade Trotsky's theses have
landed him in a mess. That part of them which is correct is not new, and
what is more, turns against
him. That which is new is all wrong. .Comrade Trotsky's political mistakes
distract our party’s attention from economic tasks. .All his theses, his
entire pamphlet, are so wrong". V.I.
Lenin: 'Once Again on the Trade Unions, the Current Situation and the Mistakes
of Trotsky and Bukharin=, in:
'Collected Works', Volume 32; Moscow; 1965; p. 74, 85, 90.
Even as Late As In 1922:
There were serious differences between
Lenin and Trotsky. Trotsky's biographer Deutscher describes a further rift
between Lenin and Trotsky in 1922 over Trotsky's refusal to accept the
post of Deputy Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars:
"In April 1922 an incident occurred
which did much to cloud relations between Lenin and Trotsky. On 11 April
. . . categorically and somewhat haughtily Trotsky declined to fill this
office. The refusal and the manner in which it was made annoyed Lenin.
Throughout the summer of 1922 . . the dissension between Lenin and Trotsky
persisted. On 11 September . . Trotsky once again refused the post. . On
14 September the Politburo met and Stalin put before it a resolution which
was highly damaging to Trotsky; it censured him in effect for dereliction
of duty".. The circumstances of the case indicated that Lenin must have
prompted Stalin to frame this resolution or that Stalin at least had his
consent for it". I.Deutscher:
'The Prophet Unarmed: Trotsky: 1921-1929 (hereafter listed as: 'I. Deutscher:
1989 (2)); Oxford; 1989; p. 35, 65-66.
Clearly, something occurred in late
1922 to cause Lenin radically to alter the opinion of Trotsky he had held
until that date.
THE 'GEORGIAN DEVIATION'
In July 1921 Stalin, speaking to
the Tiflis Organisation of the Communist Party of Georgia, referred to
the rise of nationalism in Transcaucasia:
"Nationalism Georgian, Armenian
and Azerbaijanian - has shockingly increased in the Transcaucasian republics
during the past few years and is an obstacle to joint effort. Evidently,
the three years of existence of nationalist governments in Georgia (Mensheviks),
in Azerbaijan (Mussavatists**) and in Armenia (Dashnaks**) have left their
mark". J.V. Stalin: 'ImmediateTasks
of Communism in Georgia & Transcaucasia', 'Works', Vol 5; 1953; p.
For this reason. Lenin proposed that
Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia should, as a temporary measure, be united
in a Federation. On 28 November 1921 Lenin wrote to Stalin stating that
"A federation of the Transcaucasian
republics is absolutely correct in principle, and should be implemented
without fail". V.I. Lenin:
Memo to J. V. Stalin, 28 November 1921, in: 'Works', Vol 33; Moscow; 1973;
"This unification (in the Transcaucasian
Federation - Ed.) was proposed by Lenin".Great
Soviet Encyclopedia', Volume 9; New York; 1975; p. 495.
On 29 November 1921:
"That proposal . . . was adopted
by the Political Bureau unanimously". J.V.
Stalin: Reply to Discussion on CC’s Organizational Report, 12th Congress
RCP,Vol 5; 1953; p.234.
And it was confirmed by three subsequent
decisions of the Central Committee:
"The Central Committee has on
three occasions affirmed the necessity of preserving the Transcaucasian
Federation". J.V. Stalin:
ibid.; p. 257.
As a result :
"The Transcaucasian Federation
- the Federative Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of Transcaucasia -
was founded on March 12, 1922.. . . In December 1922, the Federative Union
was transformed into the Transcaucasian Federative Soviet Republic. The
Transcaucasian Federation existed until 1936. In conformity with the Constitution
of the USSR adopted in 1936, the Armenian, Azerbaijanian and Georgian Soviet
Socialist Republics entered the USSR as Union Republics". Note
to: J. V. Stalin: 'Works', Volume 5; Moscow; 1953; p. 421.
Stalin reminded the 12th Congress of
the RCP in April 1923 why
the formation of the Transcaucasian Federation had been considered essential:
"In a place like Transcaucasia
. . it is impossible to dispense with a special organ of national peace.
As you know, Transcaucasia is a country where there were Tatar-Armenian
massacres while still under the tsar, and war under the Mussavatists, Dashnaks
and Mensheviks. To put a stop to that strife an organ of national peace
was needed, i.e., a supreme authority. . . And so . . . a federation of
republics, and a year after that.. a Union of Republics was formed". Stalin:Reply
to Discussion on CC's Organizational Report, 12th Congress of RCP, WorksVol
5; p. 232
"From very early times Transcaucasia
has been an arena of massacre and strife and, under the Mensheviks and
Dashnaks, it was an arena of war. That is why the Central Committee has
on three occasions affirmed the necessity of preserving the Transcaucasian
Federation as an organ of national peace. . The point is that the bonds
of the Transcaucasian Federation deprive Georgia of that somewhat privileged
position which she could assume by virtue of her geographical position.
. Georgia has her own port -Batum - through which goods must flow from
the West; Georgia has a railway junction like Tiflis, which the Armenians
cannot avoid, nor
can Azerbaijan avoid it. . If Georgia were a separate republic, if
she were not part of the Transcaucasian Federation, she could present something
in the nature of a little ultimatum both to Armenia, which cannot do without
Tiflis, and to Azerbaijan, which cannot do without Batum.
There is yet another reason. Tiflis
is the capital of Georgia, but the Georgians there are not more than 30%
of the population, the Armenians not less than 35%, and then come all the
other nationalities. . If Georgia were a separate republic, the population
could be reshifted somewhat.. . Was not a well-known decree adopted in
Georgia to reshift the population so as to reduce the number of Armenians
in Tiflis from year to year, making them fewer than the Georgians, and
thus convert Tiflis into a real Georgian capital?". J.V.
Stalin: Report on National Factors in Party and State Affairs, 12th Congress
'of RCP, in: 'Works', Volume 5; Moscow; 1953; p. 256, 257, 258-59.
However, both before and after its
formation, the existence of the Transcaucasian Federation was opposed by
a group of Georgian nationalists within the Communist Party of Georgia,
headed by Polikarp ('Budu') Mdivani and Filipp Makharadze* and known as
the 'Georgian deviators':
"The struggle which the group
of Georgian Communists headed by Mdivani is waging against the Central
Committee's directive concerning federation dates back to that time (the
end of 1921 - Ed.)". J.V.
Stalin: Reply to the Discussion on the Central Committee's Organisational
Report, 12th Congress of RCP, in:'Works', Volume 5;Moscow; 1953; p. 234.
"The national-deviationist opposition
in the ranks of the Communist Party of Georgia arose and took shape in
1921. During the entire period of 1921-24 the Georgian national-deviationists
carried on a fierce struggle against the Leninist and Stalinist national
policy of our Party". L.P.Beria:'On
the History of Bolshevik Organisations in Transcaucasia'; London; 1939;
later, many of the 'Georgian deviators'
joined the Trotskyist opposition:
"In 1924 a considerable number
of the national-deyiationists joined what was then the Trotskyite anti-Party
opposition". L. P. Beria:
ibid.; p. 167.
Stalin pointed out to the 12th Congress
that fear of Great Russian chauvinism was obviously not the cause of the
'Georgian deviation', since the 'Georgian deviators’ supported the entry
of Georgia into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as an independent
"There has been and still is a
group of Georgian Communists who do not object to Georgia uniting with
the Union of Republics, but who do object to this union being effected
through the Transcaucasian Federation. These statements indicate that on
the national question the attitude towards the Russians is of secondary
importance in Georgia, for these comrades, the deviators (that is what
they are called), have no objection to Georgia joining the Union directly;
that is, they do not fear Great-Russian chauvinism, believing that its
roots have been cut in one way or another or at any rate, that it is not
of decisive importance". J.
V. Stalin: Report on National Factors in Party and State Affairs, 12th
Congress of RCP, in: 'Works', Volume S; Moscow; 1953; p. 257.
He assessed the cause of the 'Georgian
deviation’ as the desire of the Georgian nationalists not to lose the geographical
advantages which an independent Georgia would possess, advantages of which
they wished to take advantage:
"It is these geographical advantages
that the Georgian deviators do not lose.. that are causing our deviators
to oppose federation. They want to leave the federation, and this will
create legal opportunities for independently performing certain operations
which will result in the advantageous position enjoyed by the Georgians
being fully utilised against Azerbaijan and Armenia. And all this would
create a privileged position for the Georgians in Transcaucasia. Therein
lies the whole danger. The Georgian deviators . . . are pushing us on to
the path of granting them certain privileges at the expense of the Armenian
and Azerbaijanian Republics. But that is a path we cannot take, for it
means certain death to . . Soviet power in the Caucasus". J.
V. Stalin: Report on National Factors in Party and State Affairs, 12th
Congress of RCP, in: 'Works', Volume 5; Moscow; 1953; p. 258, 261.
The 'Georgian deviators', while dominating
the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Georgia, formed only a
small minority within the Communist Party of Georgia as a whole:
"The Mdivani group has no influence
in its own Georgian Communist Party. . The Party has held two congresses:
the first congress was held at the beginning of 1922, and the second was
held at the beginning of 1923. At both congresses the Mdivani group, and
its idea of rejecting federation, was emphatically opposed by its own Party.
At the first congress, I think, out of a total of 122 votes he obtained
somewhere about 18; and at the second congress, out of a total of 144 votes
he obtained about 20". J.
V. Stalin: Reply to the Discussion on the Central Committee's Organisational
Report, 12th Congress of PCP, in: 'Works', Volume 5; Moscow; 1953; p. 234-35.
Nevertheless, even after the Transcaucasian
Federation had been formed against the objections of the 'Georgian deviators',
the latter did all they could to sabotage the functioning of the federation:
"Mdivani and his supporters, constituting
a majority on the Georgian Communist Party Central Committee, virtually
slowed down the economic and political union of the Transcaucasian Republics
and were intent, in essence, on keeping Georgia isolated". Note
to: V. I. Lenin: 'Collected Works', Volume 45; Moscow; 1970; p. 750.
"The Mdivani group, now joined by
Makharadze and his followers, protested the infringement on Georgian sovereignty
and did everything in its power to prevent implementation of the federal
union's directives". P.
G. Suny: >The Making of the Georgian
Nation=; London; 1989; p. 215.
"The Georgians sabotaged as best
they could the measures taken to bring about the economic integration of
the three republics. They installed military guards on the frontiers of
the Georgian republic, demanded residence permits, etc." M.
Lewin: 'Lenin's Last Struggle'; London; 1969; p. 45.
At the 12th Congress of the RCP in
April 1923 Grigory ('Sergo') Ordzhonikidze*, First Secretary of the Transcaucasian
Territorial Party Committe':,
'accused the 'deviationists',
Mdivani and Makharadze, of a series of improper activities - refusing to
take down customs barriers, selling a Soviet ship to foreigners, negotiating
with the Ottoman Bank, and closing the frontiers of Georgia to hungry refugees
from the North Caucasus and the Volga region... More important, he condemned
the Georgian government's failure to implement a radical land reform and
eliminate once and for all the noble landlords". R.
G. Suny: op. cit.; p. 218.
The policy of maintaining the Transcaucasian
Federation was continued as preparations were made to form the Union
of Soviet Socialist Republics. On 6 October 1922 the Central Committee
of the Russian Communist Party decided:
"To have Transcaucasia enter the
union as one unit". R.
G. Suny: op. cit.; p. 216.
"the Georgian leadership in Tiflis
insisted on Georgia's separate entry.. . From Tiflis the Georgian leaders
wired Moscow in protest and heatedly criticised the authoritarianism of
the Transcaucasian Territory Party Committee".R.
G. Suny: op. cit.; p. 216.
"The Georgians. . protested to Moscow,
demanding the disbandment of the projected federation. To this request
Stalin replied on October 16 in the name of the Central Committee,
stating that it was unanimously rejected". R.
Pipes: 'The Formation of the Soviet Union'; Cambridge (USA); 1964; p.274
A group of the 'Georgian deviators',
headed by Kate Tsintsadze* and Sergey Kavtaradze* then telegraphed a protest,
making a strong attack on Ordzhonikidze, directly to Lenin, who rebuked
them sharply and defended Ordzhonikidze in a telegram of reply dated 21
"I am surprised at the indecent
tone of the direct wire message sent by Tsintsadze and others. . . I was
sure that all the diffferences had been ironed out by the CC Plenum resolutions
with my indirect participation and with the direct participation of Midivani.
That is why I resolutely condemn the abuse against Ordzhonikidze and insist
that your conflict should be referred in a decent and loyal tone for settlement
by the RCP CC Secretariat". V.
I. Lenin: Telegram to K.M.Tsintsadze and S. I.Kavtarddze, 21 October 1922,
in: 'Collected Works',
On receiving Lenin's rebuke, the bloc
of 'Georgian deviators', who formed nine of the eleven members of the Central
Committee of the Communist Party of Georgia, resigned in protest:
"Faced with Lenin's fury and isolated
from the central leaders, the Georgian Central Committee took an unprecedented
step: on October 22 they resigned en masse. Ordzhonikidze quickly appointed
a new Central Committee of people who agreed with the positions taken up
in Moscow, but the Mdivani-Makharadze stepped up their protests". R.
C. Suny: op. cit.; p. 216.
On 25 November the Politburo of the
Central Committee decided to send a commission to Georgia, headed by People's
Commissar for Internal Affairs Feliks Dzerzhinsky* :
"To examine urgently the statements
by members of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party who
had resigned, and to work out measures to establish tranquility in the
Georgian Communist Party". Note
to: V. I. Lenin: 'Collected Works', Volume 45; Moscow; l97O; p. 656-57.
Dzerzhinsky reported the findings of
his commission to Lenin on 12 December 1922, including the fact that :
"The commission had decided to
recall to Moscow the leaders of the former Georgian Central Committee,
who were held responsible for everything". M.Lewin,
op. cit.; p. 68.
Then, at the very end of December 1922,
Lenin, who had initiated the concept of the Transcaucasian Federation,
who had denounced the 'Georgian deviators’, and defended Ordzhonikidze
against their attacks, suddenly reversed his position on these questions.
In the document known as 'Lenin's Testament' he dictated to his secretary
Maria Volodicheva on 30 December 1922, he
implied that the charges of 'Georgian nationalism' levelled against the
'Georgian deviators’ were 'imaginary' (and the product of 'Great Russian
chauvinism on the part of Dzerzhinsky':
"Comrade Dzerzhinsky, who went
to the Caucasus to investigate the 'crime' of those ‘nationalist-socialists',
distinguished himself there by his truly Russian frame of mind (it is common
knowledge that people of other nationalities who have become Russified
overdo this Russian frame of mind)".
V.I. Lenin: 'The Question of "Nationalities, or "Autonomisation"', in:
'Collected Works', Volume 36; Moscow; 1966; p. 606.
However, Lenin placed the main blame
for this 'erroneous policy of Great Russian chauvinism’ on Stalin. He declared
that it was necessary:
"To defend the non-Pussian from
the onslaught of that really Russian man, the Great Russian chauvinist,
in substance a rascal and a tyrant... I think that Stalin’s . . spite against
the notorious 'nationalist-socialism' played a fatal role here. In politics
spite generally plays the basest of roles".
V.I. Lenin: 'The Question of Nationalities, or "Autonomisation",
in: 'Collected Works1, Vol 36; Moscow; 1966; p 606.
On the following day, 31 December 1922,
Lenin dictated a postcript on the same lines, referring to Stalin as
"The Georgian who. . casually
flings about accusations of 'nationalist-socialist', whereas he himself
is a real and true nationalist-socialist’ and even a vulgar Great-Russian
bully)...The political responsibility for all this truly Great-Russian
nationalist campaign must, of course, be laid on Stalin and Dzerzhinsky".
V.I. Lenin: 'The Question
of Nationalities, or 'Autononisation"', in: 'Collected Works', Volume 36;
Moscow; 1966; p. 606
By March 1923 Lenin was dictating a
letter to Trotsky asking him to defend the case of the 'Georgian deviators'
in the Central Committee:
"It is my earnest request that
you should undertake the defence of the Georgian case in the Party CC.
The case is now under 'persecution' by Stalin and Dzerzhinsky, and
I cannot rely on their impartiality. Quite the contrary, I would feel at
ease if you agreed to undertake this defence".V.I.
Lenin: Letter to L. D. Trotsky, 5 March 1923, in: 'Collected Works', Volume
45; Moscow; 1970; p. 607
Trotsky declined to intervene in the
affair: ".On the plea of ill health". Note
to: V. I. Lenin: 'Collected Works;', Volume 45; Moscow; 1970; p. 757.
On the following day, Lenin dictated
a letter to the leading 'Georgian deviators', giving them his whole-hearted
support to their case and offering to assist it with notes and a speech:
"I am following your case with
all my heart. I am indignant over Ordzhonikidze's rudeness and the connivance
of Stalin and Dzerzhinsky. I am preparing for you notes and a speech".
V.I. Lenin: Letter to
P. G. Mdivani, F. Y. Makharadze and Others, 6 March 1923, in: 'Collected
Works', Volume 45; Moscow; 1970; p. 608.
In conclusion it may be added that
Trotsky's efforts in 1923 to persuade the Central Committee to adopt the
line of the 'Georgian deviators' and abolish the Transcaucasian Federation
were heavily defeated:
"Trotsky's motion in the Politburo
on March 26 to recall Ordzhomikidze, decentralise the Transcaucasian Federation
and recognise that the minority in the Communist Party of Georgia
had not been 'deviationists', failed by six to one". R.G.Suny:
op. cit.; p. 218.
Clearly, something occurred in late
1922 to cause Lenin radically to alter the opinion on Transcaucasia he
had held until that date. And this was the same time at which something
occurred to cause him radically to alter the opinions he had held of Stalin
and Trotsky until that date.
Lenin fell seriously ill in 1921 :
"Lenin fell seriously ill towards
the end of 1921 and was forced to rest for several weeks". M.Lewin:
op. cit.; p. 33.
On 23 April 1922 Lenin underwent surgery
to remove one of the bullets fired at him in an assassination attempt by
the Socialist Revolutionary Fanya Kaplan on 30 August 1918. Note
to: V. I. Lenin: 'Collected Works', Volume 33; Moscow; 1966; p. 527.
Then, on 26 May 1922,
"Catastrophe struck: his right
hand and leg became paralysed and his speech was impaired, sometimes completely
so. . his convalescence was slow and tedious. . . He never fully regained
his health. The return to public life was not to last long". M.Lewin:
op. cit.; p. 33, 34.
and on 16 December, Lenin suffered
: "Two dangerous strokes". M.Lewin:
ibid.; p. xxii.
and furthermore :
"On December 23 he . . . suffered
another attack of his illness... He realised next morning that once again
a part of his body, his right hand and leg, was paralysed".
M. Lewin: op. cit.; p. 73.
On 10 March 1923:
"A new stroke paralyses half of
Lenin's body and deprives him of his capacity to speak. Lenin's political
activity is finished". M.
Lewin: op. cit.; p. xxiv.
Lenin died on 21 January 1924. The
doctors who performed the autopsy on Lenin on 22 January found that
"The basic disease of the deceased
was disseminated vascular arteriosclerosis based on premature wearing out
of the vessels. The narrowing of the lumen of the cerebral arteries and
the disturbances of the cerebral blood supply brought about focal softening
of the brain tissue which can account for all symptoms of the disease (paralysis,
disturbance of speech)". R.Payne:
Report on the Pathological-Anatomical Examination of the Body of Vladimir
Ilyich Lenin, in: 'The Life and Death of Lenin'; London; 1967; p. 632.
The controversial document known
as 'Lenin's Testament' was dictated between
23 and 31 December 1922, with a supplement dated 4 January 1923, after
Lenin had already suffered four severe strokes which had adversely affected
his brain function. Thus. Lenin's radical changes of opinion on Stalin,
on Trotsky and on Transcaucasia are partly explicable by psycho-pathologica1
THE ROLE OF KRUPSKAYA
However, the puzzles of Lenin's
remarkable changes of opinion up on Stalin, on Trotsky and on Transcaucasia
are not explicable on psycho-pathological grounds alone.
The political role of Krupskaya must
be examined to unravel the puzzle further. Although on 18 December 1922
a Plenum of the Central Committee, had :
"Made Stalin personally responsible
for the observance of the regime prescribed for Lenin by
the doctors," R.H.McNeal (1988):
Nevertheless, Stalin was prevented
from seeing Lenin :
"Though virtually Lenin's legal
guardian, Stalin never saw his charge in person", R.H.McNeal
(1988): p. 73.
In fact after 13 December,
Stalin never saw Lenin alive at all :
"The last time Stalin saw Lenin
alive.. Was 13 December", R.H.McNeal
(1988): p. 73.
This was supposedly for strict medical
rules, since :
"Strict rules were established,
and it was agreed that no visitors should be allowed.. Except for the doctors
immediate family, he was permitted to see only his secretaries. .. He was
to be isolated almost as completely as a prisoner in the Peter Paul fortress".
R.Payne: op. cit.; p.
In these conditions of isolation, an
extremely important role was played by Lenin's wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya*.
Her biographer Robert McNeal* speaks of Krupskaya’s :
"Long personal antipathy to Stalin".
R.H.McNeal: 'Bride of
the Revolution: Krupskaya and Lenin=
(hereafter referred to as 'R. H. McNeal (1973)'; London; 1973; p. 254.
After Lenin's death in 1924, Krupskaya
participated in the Opposition. McNeal
speaks of her
"Readiness to lean towards the
opposition. Krupskaya . . . really stood with the opposition. It date on
her entry into this status.Krupskaya was in reality coming round to . .
signing a manifesto of protest against official policy. This document was
the work of Zinoviev*. ... Kamenev*, Krupskaya and Sokolnikov* (the Commissar
of Finance) jointly signed a 'platform' attacking the . the leadership.
. . It was circulated among members of the Central Committee and Central
Control Commission.The 14th Party Congress (in December 1925) was the pinnacle
of Krupskaya's career in the opposition. It was left to her to begin the
opposition's critique.Krupskaya remained in the opposition . . until October
1926. She signed the major political manifesto that the Trotsky-Zinoviev
opposition produced in this period, the 'Declaration of the Thirteen’ ...
along with another protest against Soviet policy in the English General
Strike of 1926". R.H.
McNeal (1973): ibid.; p. 250, 251. 252, 253, 256.
"Krupskaya stood firmly behind Zinoviev
and Kamenev.. . She was now eager to testify in favour of Zinoviev U5 interpretation
of Leninism and against socialism in one country".
I.Deutscher (1989: 2): p. 247.
At the 15th Conference of the CPSU
in November 1926, Stalin hinted that Krupskaya had broken with the opposition:
"Is it not a fact that Comrade
Krupskaya, for instance, is leaving the opposition bloc? (Stormy applause)".
J.V. Stalin: Reply to
the Discussion on the Report on 'The SocialDemocratic Deviation in our
Party', in: 'Works', Volume 8; Moscow; 1954; p.371.
But not until six months later, in
May 1927, did Krupskaya herself confirm this:
"On May 20 1927, 'Pravda' carried
a short, undated note from Krupskaya to the editor. In it she gave the
Party and the public at large the first confirmation that she had left
the opposition. . . There was no word of repentance on any specific issue".
R. H. McNeal (1973):
"She even explained her membership
of the opposition as if it had been quite correct". R.H.
McNeal (1973): p. 262-63.
Robert Payne* -- a biographer of Lenin
who is violently antagonistic to Stalin - admits that Krupskaya took advantage
of her role during Lenin's illness to feed selected items of 'information'
"Krupskaya . showed not the slightest
intention of carrying out the orders of the doctors and the Politburo;
and so small scraps of information were fed to Lenin. . . While he lay
ill, she was his ears and eyes, his sole powerful contact with the outside
world'. R.Payne: op.
cit.; p. 555-56.
These selected items of 'information'
were naturally hostile to Stalin, and favourable to Trotsky and to the
'Georgian deviators' and Krupskaya's biographer agrees that Stalin was
justified in suspecting her of having influenced Lenin's attitude towards
him in 1923-24:
while Payne is even more frank:
"Krupskaya did what she had to
do: she waged war against Stalin". R.Payne:
op. cit.: p. 563.
On 22 December Stalin rebuked Krupskaya
on the telephone for her role in feeding selective items of 'information'
to Lenin and threatened to bring the matter before the Central Control
Commission of the CPSU. On the following day she wrote to a letter of complaint
to Lev Kamenev* on Stalin's 'rudeness':
"Stalin subjected me to a storm
of the coarsest abuse yesterday about a brief note that Lenin dictated
to me. . I know better than all the doctors what can and what cannot be
said to Ilyich, for I know what disturbs him and what doesn't. And in any
case I know better than Stalin. I have no doubt as to the unanimous decision
of the Control Cormission with which Stalin takes it upon himself to threaten
me, but I have neither the time nor the energy to lose in such a stupid
farce". N. K.Krupskaya:
Letter to Lev Kamenev, 23 DeceLber 1922, in: M. Lewin: op.cit.; p.152-53.
When this incident came to Lenin's
knowledge, on 5 March 1923 he wrote to Stalin saying:
"You have been so rude as to summon
my wife to the telephone and use bad language. . . . Wbat has been done
against my wife I consider having been done against me as well. I ask you,
therefore, to think it over whether you are prepared to . . make your apologies,
or whether you prefer that relations between us should be broken off".
Lenin: Letter to J. V.Stalin,
5 March 1923, in: 'Collected Works', Volume 45; Moscow; 1970; p. 607-08.
Lenin's sister, Maria Ullyanova*, wrote
to the Presidium of the 1926 Joint Plenum of the CC and CCC, stating that
: "Stalin offered to apologise". Note
to: V. I. lenin: 'Works', Volume 45; Moscow; 1970; p. 75
'She (Krupskaya - Ed.) may have
influenced Lenin's attitude toward Stalin, intentionally or otherwise.
. Stalin is justified in suspecting that she had, as he later intimated".
R.H. McNeal (1973): p.
THE SUBSEQUENT HISTORY OF
On 18 May 1924 Krupskaya sent the
'Testament' to Lev Kamenev, who passed it on to Stalin, as General Secretary.
On 19 May Stalin passed the documents to the steering committee for the
next (13th) Congress, which was due to begin on 23 May 1924.
By a vote of 30-10, the steering
conmittee resolved not to publish the document, but to read it to a closed
session of delegates
"With explanations that Lenin
had been ill". R.H. McNeal
(1988): p. 110.
"As regards publishing the 'will',
the congress decided not to publish it, since it was addressed to the congress
and was not intended for publication". J.V.
Stalin: Speech to Joint Plenum of CC & CCC of CPSU, in: 'Works', Vol
10; Moscow; 1954; p. 181..
First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev,
in his secret speech to the 20th Congress of the CPSU(B) in February 1956,
confirmed that Lenin's 'Testament'
"Was made known to the delegates
at the 13th Party Congress who discussed the question of transferring Stalin
from the position of Secretary General". N.S.
Khrushchev: op. cit.; p. 7.
At the Congress itself, in view of
the criticism of him made in 'Lenin's Testament', Stalin offered his resignation
as Ceneral Secretary
"This question. was discussed
by each delegation separately, and all the delegations unanimously, including
Trotsky, Kamenev and Zinoviev*, obliged
Stalin to remain at his post. What could I do? Desert my post? That is
not in my nature. I have never deserted any post, and I have no right to
do so. . When the Party imposes an obligation upon ne, I must obey." J.V.
Stalin: Speech to Joint Plenum of CC & CCC of CPSU, in: "Works',Volume
10; Mos; 1954; p. 181.
Krushchev confirms that
"The delegates (to the 13th Party
Congress - Ed.) declared themselves in favour of retaining Stalin in this
op. cit.; p. 7.
At the first meeting of the Central
Committee elected at the 13th Congress of the Party, and again a year later,
Stalin offered his resignation, and each time it was rejected:
"At the very first plenum of the
Central Committee after the 13th Congress, I asked the plenum to release
me from my duties as General Secretary.. A year later I again put in a
request to the plenum to release me, but I was again obliged to remain
at my post. What else could I do?" J.V.
Stalin: ibid.; p. 181
In 1925 the Trotskyist Max Eastman*
published the book 'Since Lenin Died' which included excerpts from 'Lenin's
Testament’. As Stalin said in October 1927:
"There is a certain Eastman, a
former American Communist who was later expelled from the Party. This gentleman,
who mixed with the Trotskyists in Moscow, picked up some rumours and gossip
about Lenin's ‘will’, went abroad and published a book entitled 'Since
Lenin Died', in which he did his best to blacken the Party, the Central
Committee and the Soviet regime, and the gist of which was that the Central
Committee of our Party was 'concealing' Lenin's 'will". J.V.
Stalin: Speech to Joint Plenum of CC & CCC of CPSU, in: 'Works', Vol
10; 1954; p. 178-79.
In September 1925, in a statement published
in 'Bolshevik', Trotsky publicly dissociated himself from Eastman and denied
that Lenin's letter to the Congress constituted any form of 'testament',
which would have been quite alien to Party practice:
"In several parts of his book
Eastman says that the Central Committee tconcealed' from the Party a number
of exceptionally important documents written by Lenin in the last period
of his life (it is a matter of letters on the national question, the so-called
1will', and others); there can be no other name for this than slander against
the Central Comriitee of our Party. From what Eastman says it nay be inferred
that Vladimir Ilyich intended those letters, which bore the character of
advice on internal organisation, for the press. In point of fact, that
is absolutely untrue. . It goes without saying that all those letters and
proposals . . were brought to the knowledge of the delegates at the 12th
and 13th Congresses, and always, of course, exercised due influence upon
the Party's decisions; and if not all of those letters were published,
it was because the author did not intend them for the press. Vladimir Ilyich
did not leave any 'will', and the very character of his attitude towards
the Party, as well as the character of the Party itself, precluded any
possibility of such a 'will'. What is usually referred to as a 'will' in
the emigre' and foreign bourgeois and Menshevik press (in a manner garbled
beyond recognition) is one of Vladimir Ilyich's letters containing advice
on organisational matters. The 13th Congress of the Party paid the closest
attention to that letter, as to all of the others, and drew from it the
conclusions appropriate to the conditions and circumstances of the time.
All talk about concealing or violating a 'will' is a malicious invention".
Eastman's Book "Since Lenin Died"', in: 'Bolshevik', 16; 1 Sep, 1925; p.
At a Joint Plenum of the Central Committee
and the Central Control Commission of the CPSU in October 1927, the opposition
raised the question of 'Lenin's Testament'. Stalin replied:
"The oppositionists shouted here
- you heard them - that the Central Committee of the Party 'concealed'
Lenin's 'will'. It has been proved and proved again that nobody has concealed
anything, that Lenin's 'will' was addressed to the 13th Party Congress,
that this 'will' was read out at the Congress (Voices: That's right!),
that the congress unanimously
decided not to publish it because, among other things, Lenin himself did
not want it to be published and did not ask that it should be published".
J.V. Stalin: Speech at Joint Planum
of CC & CCC of CPSU, in: "Works', Vol 10; Moscow; 1927; p. 173.
At this point Stalin publicly confirmed
and commented upon the reference in the 'Testament' to his 'rudeness' and
on Lenin's proposal that he should be removed as General Secretary:
"It is said that in that 'will'
Comrade Lenin suggests to the congress that in view of Stalin's 'rudeness'
it should consider the question of putting other comrade in Stalin's place
as General Secretary. That is quite true. Yes, comrades, I am rude to those
who grossly and perfidiously wreck and split the Party. I have not concealed
this and do not conceal it now. Perhaps some mildness is needed in the
treatment of splitters, but I am a bad hand at that. But rudeness is not
and cannot be counted as a defect in Stalin's political
line or position." J.V.
Stalin: ibid.; p. 180-81, 182.
The 15th Congress of the CPSU in December
1927 decided to publish 'Testament' in the Congress Bulletin, so that :
"After the 15th Congress of 1927
Lenin's 'Testament' became somewhat more widely known among the Party aktiv".
R.A. Medvedev: 'Let History
Judge'; London; 1972; p. 29.
Finally, after the victory of revisionism
in the CPSU following the death of Stalin in 1953, First Secretary Nikita
Khrushchev quoted extensively from 'Lenin's Testament in his secret speech
to the 20th Congress in February 1956, and copies were:
"Distributed among the delegates".
N. S. Khrushchev: op.
cit.; p. 6.
Later, the 'Testament' was published
in Lenin's 'Collected Works'.
The fact that, despite Lenin's reputation
as the world's leading Marxist, his call, in his 'Testament', for the removal
of Stalin from the post of General Secretary was rejected by 13th Congress
of the CPSU, says much about the circumstances
in which the document carne to be issued.
BUT IT SAYS EVEN MORE
ABOUT THE HIGH ESTEEM IN WHICH
STALIN WAS HELD BY THE PARTY.
Yelizaveta ('Inessa') F., French-born Soviet women's movement worker (1875-1920);
head of Women's Department of CC, RCP (1918-20).
Isaac, Polish-born British Trotskyist historian and journalist (1907-67);
emigrated to Britain (1939).
Feliks E.1 Polish-born Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1877-1926);
Chairman, CHEKA, later OGPU (1917-26); Commissar of Communications and
Internal Affairs (1921-24); Chairman, Supreme Economic Council (1924-26).
Max, American Trotskyist author and poet (1883-1969).
Lidya A., (1881- ), one of Lenin's secretaries (1918-22).
Maksim' (pseudonym of Aleksey I. Peshkov), Soviet Marxist-Leninist writer
(1868-1936); President, Soviet Writers' Union (1934-36); murdered by revisionist
Lev B., Soviet revisionist politician (1883-1936); USSR Commissar of Trade
(1926-27); Minister to Italy (1927); leader of Trotskyist opposition (1926-28);
expelled fron CPSU (1927); readmitted (1928); Chairman, Main Concessions
Committee (1929); again expelled from PArty (1932); again readmitted (1933);
expelled from Party for third time (1934); sentenced to imprisonment for
terrorism (1935); sentenced to death for treason and executed (1936).
Karl J., German revisionist politician (1854-1938).
Sergey I., Georgian nationalist politician (1885-1971); Georgian Commisar
of Justice (1921-22); Georgian Premier (1922-23); 1st Deputy Procrator,
USSR Supreme Court (1924-28); expelled from Party (1927); reinstated (1934);
USSR Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (l941-5); Ambassador to Romania
Aleksandra H., Soviet Marxist-Leninist diplomat (1872-1952); Minister to
Norway (1923-26, 1927-30); Minister to Mexico (1926-27); Minister, then
Ambassador, to Sweden (1930-45); counsellor, USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Nadezhda K., Lenin's wife (1869-1939).
Robert H., American historian (1930- ); Associate Professor of History,
University of Toronto (1964-69); Professor of History, University of Massachusetts
Filipp I., Georgian nationalist historian and politician (1868-1941); President,
L. (pseudonym of Yuly 0. Tsederbauw), Russian Menshevik leader and journalist
(1873-1923); emigrated to Germany (1920).
Polykarp ('Budu') C., Georgian nationalist politician (1877-1937); Georgian
Commissar of Light Industry and Deputy Premier (1931-36); expelled from
Party for Trotskyism (1928); reinstated (1931); again expelled (1936);
sentenced to death for treason and executed (1937).
Robert, British-born American historian (1911-83).
Grigory ('Sergo') K., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1886-1937); 1st
Secretary, Transcaucasian Party Committee (1922-26); Chairman, CPSU Central
Control Commission and USSR Commissar of Workers' and Peasants Inspect-on
(1926-30); Chairman, USSR Council of National Economy (1930-32); member,
Politburo, CC, CPSU (1930-37); USSR Commissar of Heavy Industry (l932)
Yevgeny A., Soviet revisionist economist (1886-1937); member, Politburo,
Secretary of Central Committee, Commissar of Finance (1921-27) expelled
from party (1927); tried for treason; died in prison (1937).
Maximilien P-M-I. de, French revolutionary leader (1758-94); leader of
Jacobin Club (1791-92); leader of Committee of Public Safety (1793-94);
Henriette, Dutch 'Christian socialist', later Trotskyist; poet (1869-1952).
Grigory Y., Soviet revisionist lawyer and economist (1888-1939); USSR Commissar
of Finance (1921-26); Chairman, Oil Syndicate (1926-28); Ambassador to
Britain and USSR Deputy Commissar of Foreign Affairs (1929-34); USSR Deputy
Commissar of Forestry Industry (1934-36); expelled from Party (1936); admitted
to treason at public trial and sentenced to imprisonment (1937); died in
Kate H., Georgian nationalist politician (1887-1930).
Marya I. (1878-1937); Lenin's sister.
Grigory Y., Soviet revisionist politician (l883-l936~; Member, Politburo,
CC, CPSU (1925); headed Leningrad opposition (1926); expelled from CPSU
(1927); readmitted (1928); again expelled from Party (1932); again readmitted
(1~33); imprisoned for terrorism (1935); sentenced to death and executed
for treason (1936).
(The General Jewish Workers' Union of Lithuania, Poland and
Russia). A Jewish bourgeois-nationalist organisation formed in 1897 which
functioned as a centre of Jewish nationalism in the Russian working class
A political trend advocating collaboration, and even unitybetween Marxist-Leninists
and opponents of Marxism.
Members of the 'Dashnaktsutyun Party, a nationalist party of the landlords
and bourgeoisie in Armenia, formed in the 1890s.
(The Voice). A Menshevik daily newspaper published in Paris between 1908
The policies of the Jacobin Club, representing the left-wing of the French
A follower of Kautsky.
Followers of ‘Liquidationism', a reactionary trend within the Russian Social-Democratic
Labour Party in 1907-10 which advocated the liquidation of the disciplined
revolutionary Party of the working class and its replacement by a legal
reformist party of the West European social-democratic type.
Member of the right (social-democratic) minority wing of the Russian Social-Democratic
Members of the 'Mezhraionnaia' (Inter-borough Organisation), formed in
1913 in St. Petersburg. The organisation joined the Bolshevik Party in
Members of the ‘Mussavat Party', a nationalist party of the landlords and
bourgeoisie in Azerbaijan, formed in 1912.
ZARYA' (Our Dawn). A monthly magazine published
by the Menshevik 'Liquidators' in St. Petersburg between between 1910 and
1914, when it was suppressed and replaced by 'Nashe Delo' (Our Cause).
MIR' (New World). A pro-Menshevik newspaper
published by Russian emigres in New York in 1911-17.
(Recallers). Supporters within the Bolshevik Party of an opportunist trend
which oppposed legal forms of activity and called for the recall of Social-Democratic
Party deputies from the State Duma.
'Chauvinism' ('Jingoism') takes its name from a French jingoistic soldier,
Nicolas Chauvin (b. 1815). ‘Social-chauvinism' is jingoism within the socialist
**'VPERED (Forward). An anti-Party
group formed outside Russia which opposed the use of legal tactics; it
operated from 1909 to 1913.
THE SECOND ARTICLE : MODIFIED
FROM ALLIANCE NUMBER 15, BY HARI KUMAR.
This article was first published
in the North American journal Alliance -Marxist-Leninist; Number 15 1994;
and then was part of the pamphlet "The Lie of the "Lenin Testament" Published
by North Star Compass, Toronto, 1997).
NEW BRIEF FOREWORD
The Affair Of The so-called "Lenin
Testament" has confused generations of militants, and has played a certain
role in bringing honset militnats to the cause of Trotskyism. Fortunatley
for Marxist-Leninist, the tawdry history has been convincingly revealed
in more or less entirety.
As part of the archival search that
took place after the fall of even a pretence of a "socialist state", a
cache of letters written by J.V.Stalin to his comrade-in-arms – Viacheslav
Molotov was found, translated and published in the volume: "Stalin’s Letters
To Molotov"; Edited by Lars T.Lih, Oleg V.Naumov, and Oleg V.Khlevniuk;
Yale University press; New Haven, 1995; ISBN: 0-300-06211-7.
Although almost all of the letters
shed light on the inner workings of the CPSU, those that are numbered 6-8
– deal in detail with the "So Called Testament Affair". In addition, in
order to make sense of Stalin’s letters, the editors also include a very
lengthy internal memorandum written by Stalin to the Politburo about the
machinations of Trotsky on this affair. This memorandum is referenced from
the archives as: "RTsKhIDNI.f.17, op.3, d.507, II.8-23.
Coupled with the letters - It is
invaluable both for Marxists-Leninists, and all those who wish to understand
the real history of both the so-called "Testament" and Trotsky’s maneuvers.
The following article puts the essentials of the story, as drawn by firstly
Stalin himself, and by the editors of the re-discovered letters. Alliance
poses a pertinent question at the end, that relates to why the Politburo
in the end obstructed Stalin’s full and open exposure and why this leads
to question the integrity of some leading members of the Comintern.
THE OUTLINE OF EVENTS
was an American member of the Communist Party, who was married to a Russian
woman, and he then became a close ally of Trotsky. He published in the
USA, a book entitled Since Lenin Died"; 1925. This book, accused Stalin
of suppressing the "Lenin Testament", and furthermore, it claimed that
Trotsky was being unfairly attacked. This claim that Stalin ahd "suppressed"
the "Testament" naturally created a furor in the international movement.
It was no matter that Sltain ahd insisted upon an open discussion of this
issue in CPSU(B) circles The accusations were widely picked up after the
French communist press "L’Humanite" published them. Breaching party regulations,
various such internal documents were being published by the open communist
press was of course a serious matter. How? It appeared to be a provocative
act aimed at discrediting the CPSU(B). It was an act that had been intended
to discredit, of course.
Immediately following this international
provocation, Trotsky was courted by many oppositionist elements worldwide.
No matter that the facts were distorted (Such as the denial of access to
Lenin by any but Trotsky and Krupskaii etc); and that moreover, Stalin
had offered his resignation; and that the Politburo including Trotsky had
rejected this. The implications of this international printing and allegation
were clear, and the only way to deal with this was an open discussion.
Stalin then again insisted, on the
of the full details of the case, including the letters that had passed
between Stalin and Trotsky upon the affair. But the Politburo still
refused to take
this course, even though Trotsky was now clearly exposed as manipulating
facts to his advantage. Trotsky attempted to defend himself in a first
letter. Nonetheless, he was told to correct the press in a letter. He formulated
a "draft" to submit.
A committee of Stalin, Bukharin,
Rykov, and Zinoviev vetted this first "draft" letter. In it, Trotsky gave
a very watered-down
version of events. This flagrant evasion
by Trotsky, led to demands that Trotsky's watered down statement, must
be more honest, and must be made more explicit upon the Eastman Affair.
The committee also did force some further clarifications of facts from
Trotsky that he had tried to evade. Stalin now tried to ensure that the
entire materials were printed and distributed to the full Central Committee.
But nought came of his attempts. Stalin had wanted to have the full book
published more openly to the international communist press.
i) Stalin wished to see, and
argeud inside the Poltiburo, for the full publication of all relevant correspondence
dealing with the Testament and Eastman.
ii) The politburo agreed that
Trotsky's manoeuvres were exposed, but they refused to publish openly the
full details. They did agree however, that Trotsky should write a "correction".
iii) Trotsky wrote a first watered
down "draft letter" that put his role in a sanitized light. But the Politburo
under Stalin’s’ persistence exposure of Trotsky’s manoeuvres, forced him
to enlarge upon the issue.
This general sequence of events
can be seen quite clearly from the picture that emerges from the detailed
memorandum that Stalin writes to the Politburo explaining how he became
are of the affair, and the various manoeuvres and lies of Trotsky on this
issue. This memorandum is taken from the newly published edition of "Stalin’s
Letters To Molotov". These letters shed a lot of light on the internal
party workings. It is a long excerpt, but one that is well worth citing,
in order to buttress the clear insight that Trotsky had been playing a
devious and in the whole affair.
The following is the text of
the memorandum sent by Comrade Stalin to the Politburo
outlining the course of events and demanding
action. At this point – the international press including L’Humanite had
NOT yet obtained (or in reality - as we shall see had leaked to them) the
original documents of the correspondence and the so-called "Testament".
What the memorandum was reacting to was the clear signals from Comrades
in the international movement such as Albert Inkpin of the Communist Party
Great Britain who was concerned that a major provocation was taking place.
STALIN SENT THE FOLLOWING
"TO ALL MEMBERS AND CANDIDATES
OF THE POLITBURO AND PRESIDIUM OF THE CENTRAL CONTROL COMMISSION :
On 8 May of this year, the POLITBURO
received a statement from Trotsky addressed to "Com. Eric Verney" at the
periodical ‘Sunday Worker’ in reply to Eric Verney's inquiry about
a book by Eastman ‘Once Lenin Died’. Published and widely quoted
in the bourgeois press ‘Once Lenin Died’, depicts Com. Trotsky as
a "victim of intrigue," and the readers of the book are given to
understand that Trotsky regards in democracy and free trade in a favorable
light. In view of his presentation, Eric Verney asked Com. Trotsky to provide
an explanation that would be published in the ‘Sunday Worker’.
Com. Trotsky's statement, as is
known, was printed in Pravda, no. 104, (9 May 1915).
I personally paid no attention to
Com. Trotsky's statement at the time because 1 had no notion of the nature
of Eastman's book.
On 9 May 1915, Com. Trotsky
received an inquiry from the Central Committee of the British Communist
Party signed by Com. Inkpin in connection with Eastman's book. Com. Inkpin
asks Com. Trotsky to make a statement concerning Eastman's book, because
"the enemies of the Communist International in our country exploit your
position in Communist Party."
Here is the full text of the letter
9 May 1915. To Com. L. Trotsky.
"Dear Com. Trotsky! The Central Committee
of the British party has assigned me to send you the attached copy of the
book by Max Eastman, ‘Since Lenin Died’, and the issues of the ‘New
Leader’, ‘Lansbury's Weekly’, and ‘Labour Magazine’ containing reviews
of the book. These reviews will show you how enemies of the Communist International
in our country exploit your position in relation to the Russian Communist
Our Central Committee considers
that it would be very useful if you would write and send an answer to these
reviewers. Such an article would be of good service to the Communist movement
in our country, and we for our part would do everything possible to give
it the widest publicity. With Communist greetings, General Secretary Inkpin.’
Trotsky wrote the following letter
in reply to Inkpin's letter:
Dear Com. lnkpin: Your letter
of 9 May was evidently written before my answer to the inquiry from the
‘Sunday Worker’ was received in London.
My brochure "Where Is England Headed?"
will be, I hope, a sufficient reply to all the attempts of the Fabian pacifists,
the parliamentary careerists, the Philistines, and the MacDonalds to use
various events in our party as proof of the advantage of reformism over
communism and of democracy over the dictatorship of the proletariat.
As soon as my brochure is reviewed
by the Central Committee of our party, I will not delay in sending you
With Communist greetings, L. Trotsky;
At the same time, Com. Trotsky sent
to the POLITBURO in care of Com. Stalin a letter dated 19 May 1915,
wherein Com. Trotsky, without providing a direct reply to the questions
raised by Com. Inkpin, attempts to get by with a reference to his brochure
"Where Is England Headed?" which has no relationship to Com. lnkpin's inquiry.
Here is the text of Com. Trotsky's
‘To Comrade Stalin.
Dear Comrade! In order to avoid
any misunderstandings whatsoever, 1 consider it necessary to provide you
with the following information regarding the English book by Max
Eastman, ‘Since Lenin Died’ (1 have just received
this book and have managed to leaf through it quickly).
I became acquainted with M. Eastman
as an American Communist at one of the first international congresses of
Three or four years ago, Eastman
asked for my assistance in writing my biography. I refused, suggesting
that he do some other work of more general interest. Eastman replied in
a letter in which he argued that the American worker would become interested
in communism not in response to the expounding of theory or history but
in response to a biographical story; he and other American writers wanted
to fashion a weapon of Communist propaganda out of the biographies of several
Russian revolutionaries. Eastman asked me to give him the necessary facts
and subsequently to review the manuscript. I replied that in view of his
explanation I did not feel I could refuse to tell him the necessary facts,
but I definitely refused to read the manuscript and thus accept direct
or indirect responsibility for the biography.
Subsequently I gave Eastman information
relating to the first twenty-two years of my life, before I arrived
in London in 1902. 1 know that he visited my relatives and schoolmates
and collected information about that same era. These materials are what
gave him, apparently, the opportunity to write the book ‘Lev Trotsky:
Portrait of a Youth’, the announcement of which is printed on the
cover of the book ‘Since Lenin Died’.
The last time I saw Eastman must
have been more than a year and a half ago; I lost track of him altogether
after that. I had no notion of his intention to write a book devoted
to the discussion in our party. And even he, of course, did
not have this intention during that period when he met with me to collect
facts about my youth.
It goes without saying that he could
not have received any party documents from me or through me. Eastman, however,
did speak and write Russian well, had many friends in our party, was married
to a Russian Communist, as I was recently told, and consequently had free
access to all our party literature, including, evidently, those documents
that were sent to local organizations, distributed to members of the XIII
Party Congress, etc. I have not verified whether he has cited these documents
accurately or from rumor.
The press of the British mensheviks
is trying to use Eastman's book against communism (the secretary of the
British Communist Party sent me, along with Eastman's book, three issues
of Menshevik-type publications that included articles about that book).
Meanwhile, my telegram was supposed to appear in the ‘Sunday Worker’
(there is mention of this in the ‘Daily Herald’). I think
that my pamphlet "Where Is England Headed?" will be quite timely under
these circumstances and will dispel many illusions and much gossip spread
by the Menshevik and bourgeois press. I intend to do an appropriate supplement
for the English edition.
In a private conversation, I told
you that for half a year I have not received any Comintern documents. In
particular, I have no idea whatsoever what the "inquiry" Treint raised
about me involves. To this day I do not know why Rosmer and Monatte were
expelled from the party, I do not know what their disagreements are with
the party, and I do not know what they are publishing or even whether they
are publishing anything at all."
With Communist greetings, L. Trotsky,
Moscow, 19 May 1925.
Only after this letter from Com. Trotsky
and only because Com. Trotsky stubbornly refused to reply directly to Com.
Inkpin's questions about the Eastman book did it become clear to me that
I had to familiarize myself immediately with the contents of that book.
(Emphasis by Alliance)
Acquaintance with Eastman's book
convinced me that this book was not written naively, that its purpose is
to discredit the government of the USSR and the Central Committee of the
Russian Communist Party, and that for these purposes Eastman indulges in
a whole range of slanders and distortions, referring to Trotsky's authority
and to his "friendship" with Trotsky and to some secret documents that
have not yet been published. I was particularly surprised by Eastman's
statements concerning his "chats" with Com. Trotsky about Lenin's so-called
testament and about the "main figures in the Central Committee," and also
by his statement that the authenticity of [his text of] Lenin's so-called
testament was confirmed by "three responsible Communists in Russia," whom
"I (that is, Eastman) interviewed separately and who had all recently read
the letter and committed its most vital phrases to memory."
For me it became clear that, given
everything I have just related, it would be not only intolerable but outright
criminal to hush up the question of Com. Trotsky's relationship with Eastman
and his book ‘Since Lenin Died’.
In view of that, after discussing
the matter with the secretaries of the Central Committee, I ordered Eastman's
book translated' into Russian and sent the translation to POLITBURO members
and candidates for their review.
I was also moved to act because,
meanwhile, all and sundry bourgeois and social democratic parties have
already begun to use the Eastman book in the foreign press against the
Russian Communist Party and Soviet rule: they take advantage of the fact
that in their campaign against the leaders of the Soviet government they
can now rely on the "testimonies" of the "Communist" Eastman, a "friend"
of Com. Trotsky who has "chats" with him, to the effect that Russia is
ruled by an irresponsible bunch of usurpers and deceivers.
I have no doubt whatsoever that
Eastman's book is libelous, that it will prove enormously profitable to
the world counterrevolution (and has already done so!), and that it will
cause serious damage to the entire world revolutionary movement.
That is why I think that Com. Trotsky,
on whom Eastman occasionally claims to rely in his book when speaking against
the leaders of the Russian Communist Party and the Soviet revolutionary
authority, cannot pass over Eastman's book in silence.
I am not thinking at present of
proposing to Com. Trotsky that he substantively respond in the press to
the fundamental issues covered in Eastman's book, which are the fundamental
questions of our disputes as well. Let the party and the International
judge who is right and whose political position is correct, the position
of the Central Committee or the position of Com. Trotsky.
But certain minimum obligations
rest on party members; a member of the Central Committee and POLITBURO,
such as Com. Trotsky is at this moment, has a certain minimum moral duty
that Com. Trotsky cannot and should not refuse. This minimum requires that
Com. Trotsky speak out in the press unequivocally against the crude distortions
of facts that are known to everyone, distortions permitted in Eastman's
book for the purpose of discrediting the Russian Communist Party. Obviously
the silence of Com. Trotsky in this case may be construed only as a confirmation
or an excuse for these distortions.
I think that Comr. Trotsky should
rebut at least the following distortions:
Further in Chapter 9 of Eastman’s book,
it says that: Trotsky’s book (the reference is to Volume 3 of Trotsky’s
works & The Lessons of October" J.V.Stalin] was practically suppressed
by the Politburo until they [That is the Central Committee of the Russian
Communist party] were sure of the success of their maneuver.
In the section, "attacking the Old
Guard," Eastman's little book says that "Trotsky's letter [the reference
is to an appeal to the local committees in I92 in connection with
the POLITBURO's resolution on internal party democracy-J. V.Stalin] and
some supplementary articles in pamphlet form were practically suppressed
by the Politburo.
Finally, chapter 14 of Eastman's
book says that:
"Trotsky's true texts do not appear
in public to refute their [that is, the Central Committee's-J.V.Stalin]
statements. These texts are read privately, conscientiously, by those minds
who have the courage and penetration to resist the universal official hysteria
stimulated and supported by the State".
1 think that Com. Trotsky should refute
these statements by Eastman as malicious slander against the party and
the Soviet government. Com. Trotsky cannot help but know that neither during
the party discussions of 1913 or 1914, nor at any time whatsoever, did
the Central Committee obstruct the printing of Com. Trotsky's articles
and books in any way. In particular, Com. Trotsky must recall that during
the 1913 discussion he himself refused in his well-known statement in the
press to reply to the arguments of representatives of the party majority.
He must also remember the following statement "From the Editors" of Pravda,
the central party organ:
"From the Editors. In reply to
the question posed by a number of comrades concerning why Com. Trotsky
is not responding to the criticism of Trotskyism, the editors of Pravda
report that so far neither Com. Trotsky nor his close supporters have submitted
any articles in response to the criticism of Trotskyism" (see Pravda, no.184
[13 December 1914]).
2) The second chapter of Eastman’s
book speaks of the Russian Communist Party leader as "suppressing the writing
of Lenin’s himself"; and in Chapter 9 it says that they, that is, the party
leaders, "clapped the censorship on his [that is, Lenin’s – J.V.Stalin]
own last words to his party".
I think that Com. Trotsky should
also refute these statements by Eastman as a lie and as libel against the
leaders of the party, the Central Committee, and its Politburo. Trotsky
knows quite as well as do all other members of the Central Committee that
Eastman's reports do not correspond with reality to the slightest degree.
3) In the second chapter of his
book, Eastman states that :
"all those present at the meeting,
including the secretaries, were not only against the policies proposed
by Lenin, but they were against the publication of the article"[the reference
is to Lenin's article "How We Should Reorganize Rabkrin"-J. Stalin].
I think that Com. Trotsky should also
refute this statement by Eastman as an obvious slander. He cannot help
but recall, first, that Lenin's plan as set forth in his article was not
discussed substantively at this time; second, that the Politburo was convened
in connection with the statements in Lenin's article about the possible
schism in the Central Committee-statements that could have provoked misunderstanding
in the party organizations. Com. Trotsky could not help but know that the
Politburo then decided to send to party organizations, in addition to Lenin's
printed article, a special letter from the Orgburo and the Politburo of
the Central Committee stating that the article should not provide grounds
for any perception of a schism in the Central Committee. Com. Trotsky must
know that the decision to publish Lenin's article immediately, and to send
a letter from the members of the Orgburo and Politburo about the absence
of a schism within the Central Committee, was passed unanimously; any notion
that the Politburo's decision on the publication of Lenin's article was
passed under pressure from Com. Trotsky is a ridiculous absurdity.
Here is the text of the letter:
Dear Comrades, Pravda no.
16 of 25 January carries Lenin's article "How We Should Reorganize Rabkrin."
One part of this article speaks about the role of the Central Committee
of our party and the need to take organizational measures that will eliminate
the prospect of, or make as difficult as possible, a schism in the Central
Committee if mutual relations between the proletariat and the peasantry
become complicated in connection with the changes ensuing from NEP. Some
comrades have directed the Politburo's attention to the fact that the comrades
in the provinces may view this article by Com. Lenin as an indication of
a recent internal schism within the Central Committee that has prompted
Com. Lenin to advance the organizational proposals outlined in his article.
In order to eliminate the possibility of such conclusions-which do not
at all correspond to the real state of affairs-the Politburo and the Orgburo
consider it necessary to notify the provincial committees of the circumstances
surrounding the writing of Com. Lenin's article.
The return of Com. Lenin to highly
pressured work after his illness led to exhaustion. The doctors pronounced
it necessary to prescribe for Com. Lenin a certain period of absolute rest
without even reading newspapers (Since for Com. Lenin reading newspapers
is of course, not entertainment or a means of relaxation but an occasion
for intense contemplation of all the current political issues). It goes
without saying that Com Lenin does not take part in the Politburo sessions,
and he is not even sent -again, in strict accordance with his doctors'
advice-the transcripts of the sessions of the Politburo and the Orgburo.
The doctors believe, however, that because complete mental inactivity is
intolerable for him, Com. Lenin should be allowed to keep something like
a journal, in which he notes his thoughts on various issues; when authorized
by Com. Lenin himself, moreover, a portion of this journal may appear in
the press. These external conditions underlying the writing of "How We
Should Reorganize Rabkrin" demonstrate that the proposals contained in
this article are suggested not by any complications inside the Central
Committee but by Com. Lenin's general views on the difficulties that will
face the party in the coming historical epoch.
In this strictly informational
letter we will not consider the possible long-range dangers that Comrade
Lenin appropriately raised in his article. The members of the Politburo
and Orgburo, however, wish to state with complete unanimity, in order to
avoid any possible misunderstandings, that in the work of the Central Committee
there are absolutely no circumstances that
would provide any basis whatsoever for fears of a schism. (Emphasis in
This explanation is provided in
the form of a strictly secret letter, rather than being published in the
press, to avoid giving enemies the opportunity to cause confusion and agitation
through false reports about the state of Com. Lenin's health. The Central
Committee has no doubt that if anyone in the provinces has drawn the alarming
conclusions noted in the beginning of this letter from the article by Com.
Lenin, the provincial committees will not delay in correctly orienting
the party organizations.
TO: Available Members of
the Politburo and Orgburo of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist
Moscow, 27 January 1923.
Chapter 3 of Eastman's book talks about Lenin's "testament."
"One of the most solemn and carefully
weighed utterances that ever came from Lenin's pen was suppressed-in the
interests of 'Leninism'-by that triumvirate of 'old Bolsheviks,' Stalin,
Zinoviev and Kamenev.... They decided that it might be read and explained
privately to the delegates-kept within the bureaucracy, that is to say,-but
not put before the party for discussion, as Lenin directed" [28-29].
I think that Com. Trotsky should
also refute this statement by Eastman as a malicious slander. First of
all, he cannot help but know that Lenin's "testament" was sent to the Central
Committee for the exclusive use of the Party Congress; second, that neither
Lenin nor Com. Krupskaia "demanded" or in any way proposed to make the
"testament" a subject of "discussion before the entire Party"; third, that
the "testament" was read to all the delegations to the Congress without
exception, that is, to all the members of the Congress without exception;
fourth, that when the Congress presidium asked the Congress as a whole
whether the "testament" was known to all the members of the Congress and
whether any discussion of it was required, the presidium received the reply
that the "testament" was known to all and that there was no need to discuss
it; fifth, that neither Trotsky nor any other member of the Congress made
any protest about possible irregularities at the Congress; sixth, that
by virtue of this, to speak of suppressing the "testament" means to slander
maliciously the Central Committee and the XIII Party Congress.
5) The second chapter of Eastman's
book says that the "article [the reference is to Lenin's article on the
nationalities question-J. Stalin] which Lenin considered of 'leading importance,'
and which he designed to have read at a party convention, but which constituted
a direct attack upon the authority of Stalin, and a corresponding endorsement
of the authority of Trotsky, was not read at the party convention, the
triumvirate deciding that it was for the welfare of the party to suppress
I think that Com. Trotsky should
also refute this statement by Eastman as clearly libelous. He must know,
first, that Lenin's article was read by all members of the Congress
without exception, as stated at a full meeting of the Congress; second,
that none other than Com. Stalin himself proposed the publication of Lenin's
article, having stated on 16 April 1923, in a document known to
all members of the Central Committee, that "Com. Lenin's article ought
to be published in the press"; third, that Lenin's article on the nationalities
issue was not
published in the press only because
the Central Committee could not fail to take into consideration that Lenin's
sister, Maria Ilinichna, who had Lenin's article in her possession, did
not consider it possible to publish it in the press. Com. Fotieva, Lenin's
personal secretary, states this in a special document dated 19 April 1923,
in reply to Stalin's proposal to print the article:
"Maria Ilinichna [Lenin's sister-J.
Stalin] has made a statement," writes Com. Fotieva, "to the effect that
since there was no direct order from Lenin to publish this article, it
cannot be printed, and she considers it possible only to have the members
of the Congress familiarize themselves with it . . ." and, in fact, Com.
Fotieva adds that "Vladimir Ilich did not consider this article to be finished
and prepared for the press"; fourth, that Eastman's statement that the
Congress was not informed of Lenin's article therefore slanders the party.
6) In the second chapter of his book,
Eastman, among other things, writes the following about Lenin's "testament":
"There is no mystery about my possession of this and the foregoing information;
it is all contained in official documents stolen by the counterrevolutionists
and published in Russian, at Berlin, in the ‘Sotzialistichesky Viestnik’
Here Eastman once again distorts
the truth. Not Lenin's "testament" but a malicious distortion of it was
published in ‘Sotsialisticheskiy vestnik.’
I think that Com. Trotsky should
make a declaration about this distortion.
7) In the second chapter of Eastman's
book, Com. Kuibyshev is incorrectly portrayed as an opponent of Lenin's
plan set out in the article about the Worker-Peasant Inspection: "The degree
to which the policies outlined by Lenin have been followed may be inferred
from the fact that Kuibishev.. . is now the People's Commissioner of Workers'
and Peasants' Inspection, and the head of the Central Control Committee
of the party".
In other words, it seems that when
the Central Committee and the Party Congress appointed Kuibyshev commissar
of Worker-Peasant Inspection and chairman of the Central Control Commission,
they intended not to implement Lenin's plan but to sabotage it and cause
it to fail.
I think that Com. Trotsky should
also make a declaration against this libelous statement about the party,
for he must know that, first, Lenin's plan, developed in the article about
the Worker-Peasant Inspection, was passed by the XII Party Congress; second,
Com. Kuibyshev was and remains a supporter and promoter of this plan; third,
Com. Kuibyshev was elected chairman of the Central Control Commission at
the XII Congress (re-elected at the XIII Congress) in the presence of Com.
Trotsky and without any objections on the part of Com. Trotsky or other
members of the Congress; fourth, Com. Kuibyshev was appointed head of Worker-Peasant
Inspection at the Central Committee plenum of 26 April 1923 in the
presence of Com. Trotsky and without any objections on his part.
8) Eastman states in the first chapter
of his book:
"When Lenin fell sick and was
compelled to withdraw from the Government, he turned again to Trotsky and
asked him to take his place as President of the Soviet of People's Commissars
and of the Council of Labour and Defence".
Eastman repeats the same thing in the
second chapter of his book:
"He [that is, Com. Trotsky-J.
Stalin] declined Lenin's proposal that he should become the head of the
Soviet Government, and thus of the revolutionary movement of the world".
I do not think that this statement
by Eastman, which, by the way, does not correspond at all to reality, could
harm the Soviet government in any way. Nevertheless, because of Eastman's
crude distortion of the facts on a matter concerning Com. Trotsky, Com.
Trotsky ought to speak out against this undeniable distortion as well.
Com. Trotsky must know that Lenin proposed to him, not the post of chairman
of the Council of Commissars and the Labor Defense Council, but the post
of one of the four deputies of the chairman of the Council of Commissars
and Labor Defense Council, having in mind already two deputies of his own
who had been previously appointed, Comrades Rykov and Tsiurupa, and intending
to nominate a third deputy of his own, Com. Karnenev.
Here is the corresponding document
signed by Lenin:
‘To the Secretary of the Central
Committee, Com. Stalin. Since Com. Rykov was given a vacation before the
return of Tsiurupa (he is expected to arrive on 20 September), and the
doctors are promising me (of course, only in the event that nothing bad
happens) a return to work (at first very limited) by I October, I think
that it is impossible to burden Com. Tsiurupa with all the ongoing work,
and I propose appointing two more deputies (deputy to the chairman of the
Council of Commissars and deputy to the chairman of the Labor Defense Council),
that is, Comrades Trotsky and Kamenev. Distribute the work between them
with my clearance and, of course, with the Politburo as the highest authority.
" 11th September 1922. V. Ulianov (Lenin)."
Com. Trotsky must be aware that there
were no other offers then or now from Com. Lenin regarding his appointment
to the leadership of the Council of Commissars or the Labor Defense Council.
Com. Trotsky thus turned down, not the post of chairman of the Council
of Commissars or the Labor Defense Council, but the post of one of the
four deputies of the chairman. Com. Trotsky must be aware that the Politburo
voted on Lenin's proposal as follows: those in favor of Lenin's proposal
were Stalin, Rykov, Kalinin; those who abstained were Tomskii, Kamenev;
and Com. Trotsky "categorically refused"; (Zinoviev was absent). Com. Trotsky
must be aware that the Politburo passed the following resolution on this
"The Central Commit-tee Politburo
with regret notes the categorical refusal of Com. Trotsky and proposes
to Com. Kamenev that he assume the fulfillment of the duties of deputy
until the return of Com. Tsiurupa."
The distortions condoned by Eastman,
as you can see, are glaring. These are, in
my opinion, the eight indisputable points, Eastman's crudest distortions,
that Com. Trotsky is obliged to refute (emphasis
editors) if he does not wish to justify through his silence Eastman's slanderous
and objectively counterrevolutionary attacks against the party and the
In connection with this, I submit
the following proposal to the Politburo:
PROPOSE TO COM. TROTSKY THAT
HE DISASSOCIATE HIMSELF DECISIVELY FROM EASTMAN AND MAKE A STATEMENT FOR
THE PRESS WITH A CATEGORICAL REBUTTAL OF AT LEAST THOSE DISTORTIONS THAT
WERE OUTLINED IN THE ABOVE-MENTIONED EIGHT POINTS.
As for the general political profile
of Mr. Eastman, who still calls himself a Communist, it hardly differs
in any way from the profile of other enemies of the RCP [Russian Communist
Party] and the Soviet government. In his book he characterizes the RCP
Congress as nothing but a "ruthless" and "callous bureaucracy," the Central
Committee of the party as a "band of deceivers" and "usurpers," the Lenin
levy (in which 200,000 proletarians joined the party) as a bureaucratic
maneuver by the Central Committee against the opposition, and the Red Army
as a conglomerate "broken into separate pieces" and "lacking defense capability,"
and these facts clearly tell us that in his attacks against the Russian
proletariat and its government, against the party of this proletariat and
its Central Committee, Eastman has outdone runof-the-mill counterrevolutionaries
and the well-known charlatans of White Guardism. No one, except the charlatans
of the counterrevolution, has ever spoken of the RCP and the Soviet government
in such language as the "friend" of Com. Trotsky, the "Communist" Eastman,
permits himself. There is no question that the American Communist Party
and the Third International will properly evaluate these outstanding exploits
of Mr. Eastman.’
Dated 17 June 1925. J.V.Stalin.
________________END STALIN'S MEMO
AS THE EDITORS OF THE BOOK, "STALIN’S
LETTERS TO MOLOTOV" NOTE:
"On the following day, 18 June,
the Politburo affirmed Stalin’s proposal about Trotsky's statement of rebuttal
in the press. Trotsky himself promised that within three days he would
submit the text of his statement. On 22 June, Trotsky in fact
sent Stalin material entitled "On Eastman's Book ‘Since Lenin Died’." (Lih
T.L. et al Ibid; p.82).
But in fact the first "draft" by Trotsky,
was evasive in the extreme. Stalin pointed this out and replied that in
his opinion the draft was unsatisfactory. As the editors Lih et al cite
"Without citing any accusations,
Stalin replied with a brief note:
"If you are interested in my opinion,
I personally consider the draft completely unsatisfactory. I do not understand
how you could submit such a draft regarding the counterrevolutionary book
by Eastman, filled with lies and slander against the paty after you accepted
a moral obligation at the Politburo session of 18 June to disassociate
yourself resolutely from Eastman and to rebut categorically the factual
distortions." Cited from: RTsKhIDNI
f. 17, op. 3, d. 507, 11.8-23. Lih T.L et al Ibid; p. 82.
Trotsky then tried to appeal to the
Politburo, but could not actually show that he had not been evasive. He
was over-ruled by the Executive Committee of the Politburo. They insisted
upon a more detailed rebuttal of Eastman by Trotsky:
"In an appeal to the Politburo,
Trotsky tried to defend himself, attempting to prove that Stalin's accusations
were nonsense. After meeting the usual rebuff, however, he began to revise
the text of his statement for the press. Oversight of his revision was
assumed by Bukharin, Zinoviev, Rykov, and Stalin. They demanded from Trotsky
harsher accusations against Eastman and a categorical denial of the facts
cited in Eastman's book. Trotsky conceded to all demands. The final text
of his statement, which had satisfied the censors from the "seven," was
ready by 1 July 1925." Lih T.L. et
al Ibid; p.82).
By now there could be no little doubt
that this affair was a part of a concious plan of disruption. Therefore
there were plans to distribute the materials to this point, much more widely:
"Now Stalin and his supporters
decided to take the affair outside the framework of the Politburo by first
briefing a broad circle of party functionaries about it and then publicizing
it generally. In early July, Central Committee members L. M. Kaganovich,
V. Ya. Chubar, and G. I. Petrovskii submitted a statement that contained
a request that "all the members of the Central Committee be sent all materials
on the publication of Eastman's book" and that members of the Central Committee
of the Ukrainian Communist Party be briefed. On 7 July 1925, after
a poll of Politburo members, this request was fulfilled." Lih
T.L. et al Ibid; p.82).
So, a small book was published and
it was indeed distributed to the Central Committee:
" The materials on the Eastman
affair were typeset, published in the form of a small book (containing
Stalin's letter, the Politburo's resolutions, Trotsky's correspondence
with Stalin and with other members of the Politburo, and drafts of Trotsky's
statement), and sent to Central Committee members." Lih
T.L. et al Ibid; p.83
But Stalin had further plans to publish,
both in the West and later in the USSR, the following documents: Trotsky's
statement, a letter prepared by N. K. Krupskaia, in which she, as Lenin's
widow would refute Eastman, and the letter from Stalin himself that
demonstrated his role in the struggle for party interests. But
these plans, to which Stalin repeatedly referred in his other letters to
Molotov, were never realized.
This was at least in part, because
a new element entered the already complicated scene. Somehow the journal
of the French Communist party
had got hold of, and had published
the first watered down "draft’ of the Trotsky letter, that had been rejected
by the sub-committee. As the editors of "Stalins’ Letters to Molotov comment:
"Soon after the materials on the
affair were sent to Central Committee members, Trotsky had occasion to
take the offensive. On 16 July 1925, the French Communist newspaper, ‘L'Humanite;’
published the original version of Trotsky's statement."
Lih T.L. et al Ibid; p.82
Trotsky now acted indignantly and demanded
that Bukharin investigate the source of this leak. He himself denied any
responsibility - and implied that it was a deliberate leak that was designed
to discredit him –Trotsky! Trotsky in fact
implied that Stalin had been responsible for the leak to L’Humanite:
"On 27 July, Trotsky addressed
a letter to Bukharin, who at that time was acting as chairman of the Comintern's
Executive Committee. Trotsky expressed his puzzlement and protest over
the French publication and demanded that the circumstances of the leak
be investigated, hinting that publication had deliberately been arranged
even after he, Trotsky, had made all the necessary concessions and had
demonstrated his readiness to cooperate with the Politburo majority in
defending the party's interests. That day, after a poll of Politburo members,
the following resolution was passed:
a) To request ‘L'Humanite’ to
publish [a notice] that the text of Com. Trotsky's letter regarding Eastman's
book that appeared in ‘L'Humanite’ is incomplete and distorted.
b) To request ‘L'Humanite’ to
publish the full (final) text of Com. Trotsky's letter about Eastman's
Bukharin, in turn, ordered an investigation
into the circumstances of the incident and informed Trotsky of this decision."
Lih T.L. et al Ibid; p.83.
Soon it became clear that the original
version of Trotsky's article had been given to ‘L'Humanite’ by D.
Z. Manuilskii, a member of the Comintern's
Executive Committee presidium, during his trip to France. Clearly Dimitri
Z.Manuilskii had thrown more flames on
the fire. He had "lent" the original watered down Trotsky Letter to the
press. This was moreover, done against the previously stated express wishes
of the politburo. In fact, before Manuilskii's departure from a politburomeeting,
Stalin had reminded him to return all
documents. Manuilskii had agreed. However…. he then gave them to the French
communist journal, ‘L'Humanite’.
As Stalin points out in 'Letter
6' To Molotov, dated 1 August 1925 this was not a "mistake":
"I was told that Manuilskii sent
L'Humanite the first draft of Trotsky's article for publication. If this
is true it's an outrage. If that's true, then we are not dealing with a
'mistake'.. but with the policy of a few people who for some reason are
not interested in publishing Trotsky's's article in its final edited form..
I propose raising the issue .. and condemning Manuilskii's actions, since
he has placed the Russian CP and L'Humanite in a ridiculous position" Lih
T.L. et al Ibid; p.90.
Unfortunately we do not know exactly
what happened at subsequent meetings, since there was still no open publication
of the documents. We must assume that the Politburo refused Stalin’s request.
Presumably also, Manuilskii's ‘condemnation’ was blocked by the PB.
The international dimensions of
the leak, first to Eastman, and then to L’Humanite, of an inadequate and
not a full picture of the full events, only becomes clear if the international
situation is briefly considered.
Of course the German revolution
had been recently defeated, and still at this stage, the USSR was the sole
Socialist state. The capitalist encirclement was complete. At this stage
Zinoviev was still in a very prestigious position, as the Chairman of the
Comintern. But it was rapidly becoming clear that Zinoviev obstructed
a clear and revolutionary line in all situations involving the Comintern.
The ULTRA-LEFT line
had coalesced around Zinoviev. In fact, for
Stalin, Zinoviev represented more of a danger than Trotsky.
Why this was so, is detailed in Stalin’s "Letter" number 21, dated 25,
June 1926 :
"1) Before the appearance of
the Zinoviev group, those with oppositional tendencies (Trotsky the Workers'
Opposition, ad others) behaved more or less loyally but were tolerable.
2) With the appearance of the
Zinoviev group those with oppositional tendencies began to grow more arrogant
and break the bounds of loyalty;
3) The Zinoviev group became
the mentor of everyone in the opposition who was for splitting the party;
in effect it has become the leader so the splitting tendencies in the party;
4) This role fell to Zinoviev's
group because :
It is for this reason that events in
the COMINTERN took on a particular edge as Zinoviev and Trotsky
both manoeuvred to gain control within the USSR. Zinoviev allied with M.M.LASHEVICH
to hold anti-party, underground and factional meetings in the USSR (letter
20; dated 15 June 1926). That Stalin knew that this was happening is shown
by the letters :
"If Lashevich is organizing illegal
meetings, if Zinoviev is organizing R.Fischer's flight to Germany, and
if Sokolnikov is being sent to France to the French CP V Congress- it means
they have decided along with Trotsky to break the party through the Comintern."
"Stalin's Letters.."; Ibid; p.113.
Stalin is pointing out a concatenation
– a whole series of coordinated and significant international manoeuvres
of the revisionists. Obviously other events on the international front
were occurring where there was a concerted attempt by either Zinoviete
or the Trotskyites to disrupt the Marxist-Leninist position. Briefly the
Zinoviev-ites pursed the ultra-leftist
policy of creating splinter Red Unions. This was fought against by Stalin,
and led to some very different positions on the question of the British
General Strike. (Again the "Stalin’s Letters
To Molotov" are significant in this regard. They are quoted in the discussion
on the adoption of Ultra-Left tactics on Trade Unionism in "the theory
of the black nation. See http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Atrium/1091/ALLIANCEML.HTML
). On another front, Trotsky had long been pushing an ultra-leftist line
in the Chinese Revolution. Stalin advocated for the Chinese Revolution
a classic Leninist policy. This was to implement a two stage national democratic
revolution followed by the socialist revolution.
it is better acquainted with our
methods than any other group,
It is stronger in general than the
other groups and has control of the Comintern Executive Committee (Zinoviev
is) chairman of the Comintern Executive Committee, which represents a serious
force; c) because of this it behaves more arrogantly than any other group,
providing examples of "boldness" and "determination" to those with other
tendencies." See "Stalin's Letters
To Molotov." Ibid; p.115.
: IT MUST BE CONCLUDED THAT THE "TESTAMENT" WAS A FALSE REPRESENTATION
OF THE TRUE RELATIONS OF LENIN TO TROTSKY; AND OF LENIN TO STALIN.
THIS DECISION OF THE POLITBURO NOT
TO OPENLY PRINT ALL DOCUMENTS, LEFT STALIN WITH A SMEAR.
A SMEAR THAT HE WAS NOT ENABLED
TO REMOVE; MOREOVER ONE THAT PLAYED OUT ON THE INTERNTATIONAL STAGE.
IT MUST BE CONCLUDED THAT ELEMENTS
OF THE POLITBURO, INCLUDING MANUILSKII, WERE THUS WORKING AGAINST STALIN,
AS EARLY AS 1921.
THE SO-CALLED "TESTAMENT", REPRESENTED
TROTSKYITE ATTEMPTS TO GAIN PARTY CONTROL
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