Letter to Olav Scheflo, December 24, 1935

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Author(s) Leon Trotsky
Written 24 December 1935


[Writing of Leon Trotsky, Vol. 14, New York 1979, p. 631 f., title: “Letters About Anton Ciliga”]
Keywords : Ante Ciliga, Letter

Letters About Anton Ciliga

Dear Comrade Scheflo:

I have read your rejoinder to the local Stalinists with great pleasure. I think it necessary to tell you about the following facts: The French and Norwegian Stalinists — I know from reliable sources — did not want to deal with this shady affair, although these people are not in general very choosy. But they have been forced to do it. So for instance the Norwegian [CP’s] executive committee was told from Moscow that in case “something” happens, they, the poor fellows, will have to bear full responsibility. Finally the poor devils decided to make the whole silly matter public. What is the aim of Moscow? To slander me, to make a scandal, to frighten the bourgeois parties and to make my stay in Norway difficult.

But this is not the most important lesson in the matter with the postcard. Everybody who can think must ask himself: If these people attempt to represent a childish postcard as a terroristic instrument, what do they do in this field in the Soviet Union where nobody can control them? If Zeller would have been arrested in Russia he would have been shot within twenty-four hours as a member of a terrorist organization.

The Zeller story throws light on the Kirov case, where dozens were shot who had nothing to do with it. Zinoviev and Kamenev were condemned to ten years’ imprisonment, only because in 1932 they made derogatory statements about the collectivization policy and because the young terrorist Nikolaev came from the Leningrad Opposition in 1926, an opposition which had tens of thousands of members. You know perhaps that I have no personal sympathy for Zinoviev or Kamenev. But I think it is an unbearable shame that the workers’ organizations of the whole world are silent about this affair for reasons of convenience. This inertia is only the other side of the tendency to capitulate in the face of fascism.

Yugoslavian Comrade Ciliga, after being in Stalin’s prisons for five years, has arrived on the Continent. He has written his first letter about the crimes of Stalin’s bureaucracy. As soon as I get his letter in German I will send it to you. The significance therefore of the campaign with the postcard is that it illustrates how Stalinism leads bacteriological warfare against the consciousness of the world proletariat. Metallurgists have explained how harmful the phosphorus found in metal is for the quality of iron. They say, “Phosphorus is the syphilis of iron.” With the same right one might say: Stalinism is the syphilis of the international workers’ movement.