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The White Guard Preparation of a Terrorist Act Against Comrade Trotsky
|Written||1 December 1931|
A Statement of the Bolshevik-Leninists (Left Opposition)
On October 31, 1931, the German Communist newspaper Die Rote Fahne [The Red Flag] published disclosures about the terrorist plans of the Russian White Guards abroad. At the center of the organization stands the czarist general Turkul, who has his groups and connections in various countries, particularly Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. Turkul set himself the task of carrying out a terrorist act against L. D. Trotsky, basing his calculations on the assumption that Trotsky, in the words of Rote Fahne, "is poorly guarded by the Turkish authorities.” By assassinating Trotsky Turkul reckons to solve a dual problem: not only the annihilation of a hated enemy, but also the 'laying of the responsibility for the murder on the Soviet government”; that is how the central organ of the German Communist Party formulates Turkul's goal!
Although the newspaper itself does not indicate any source for its information, it is clear all the same: only a state apparatus could get such strictly confidential information, including names, towns, plans, etc. The information comes, of course, from the GPU. Its exceptional importance is self-evident: a Stalinist newspaper finds itself forced to print the fact that White Guards are intending to kill Trotsky, taking advantage of the fact that he is poorly guarded — and cannot be well guarded — in Turkey, the country to which Stalin exiled Trotsky.
Any communist, any thinking worker, must say to himself: In sending Trotsky to Constantinople, Stalin therefore placed him in conditions in which he is completely at the mercy of the White Guards; the admission of this fact lies behind the whole Rote Fahne report. Furthermore, in preparing to commit his terrorist act, the czarist general starts from the conviction that Trotsky's murder lies completely in Stalin's interests, and that it will therefore not be hard to attribute to Stalin the actual organization of the terrorist act. The fact of this amazing "collaboration" is precisely expressed in the Rote Fahne report, which comes from none other than Stalin, and has without doubt been carefully edited by him.
What goal, then, was Stalin pursuing with his report? The disclosure of White Guard plans? Such an explanation will not do at all, since Stalin would thereby be unmasking himself: the whole plan of the White Guards, on Stalin's own admission, depends on the exceptionally favorable circumstances Stalin has created for czarist terrorists.
If it was a case of a simple political disclosure, Stalin would of course have begun with the Soviet press. But no! We will not find a single word of this affair in the Russian newspapers. Stalin will not dare to tell Russian communists, workers, Red soldiers and peasants that he has made it easier for the White Guards to get rid of Comrade Trotsky and that he himself knows in advance through the GPU of these consequences and of how it can and is to take place. Stalin is carefully concealing his actual collaboration with the White Guards, his common front with them against Trotsky, from the population of the USSR.
Why did Stalin nevertheless publish, even though only in the German Communist press, a report which puts him in a difficult position? The answer is clear:, so as not to fall into a still more difficult position. In expectation of a possible catastrophe Stalin wants — with the most noise, with the least difficulties — to set up for himself what in the courts is called an alibi, L e., a proof of his actual, material, direct non-connection with Trotsky's murder. If the plans of General Turkul, the White Guard captain Fors, and the other members of the organization had been crowned with success, and if at the scene of the crime had been placed documentary evidence of the guilt of the Soviet government, Stalin could have said that he had long ago "unmasked" the plans of Turkul, Fors and Co., and that the terrorist act was undoubtedly their doing. What is more, in that case Stalin would have had other papers to prove that he had "requested" the Turkish authorities to strengthen their present precautions, that the GPU for its part had taken measures, etc., etc. Such papers, it is not difficult to guess, are made up in advance and sent numbered and signed, reckoning that in case of need it would be possible to publish them, and that these "secret" documents, in combination with the public disclosures of Rote Fahne, could provide Stalin with an alibi, La, proof of his non-connection with the terrorist act.
In other words, Stalin is not concerned about hindering the White Guards from carrying out their intentions, but only about preventing them from laying the blame for the terrorist act on Stalin and his agents.
To illuminate the matter fully, it is necessary to return to some facts associated with L. D. Trotsky's exile to Turkey. The question of security was at that time raised in the name of the Politburo by agents of the GPU — Bulanov, Volyinsky, Fokin, et al. They all started from the fact that real protection — insofar as real protection for a Russian revolutionary is possible in Turkey — could be achieved only on condition that in fact the people taking part were directly and closely interested in the protection and acquainted with the conditions of keeping it up. At the time when Trotsky was still on Soviet territory, the Politburo categorically undertook by direct line, through the GPU representative Bulanov, to send on into Turkey two old colleagues of Trotsky's, the Bolshevik-Leninists Sermuks and Poznansky. Till their arrival from banishment L. D. Trotsky could stay in the Soviet consulate in Constantinople. This undertaking, however, as it turned out, was categorically broken after the arrival of Trotsky in Turkey. In the name of the government (L a, of Stalin), Fokin declared that Poznansky and Sermuks would not be made available. Trotsky and his family, having by way of protest refused to leave the consulate building, were forcibly removed from it by dozens of armed consular officials. Trotsky was actually thrown out on the street in the very center of a Constantinople seething with White Guards, without a place to stay and without the slightest protection. As Mirsky, a very responsible person, officially declared, this step was taken on direct telegraphic orders from Moscow, L a, from Stalin.
Such was the first open act of that project of Stalin's which we have called his united front with Turkul against Comrade Trotsky. In the course of the three years since then Stalin didn't move a finger to show the slightest cooperation in improving the security conditions, despite the fact that in that time there were ample reasons for worry: it is sufficient to mention the fire, after which Comrade Trotsky and his family lived for months literally in a wooden hut open to the four winds!
However, after the appearance in Rote Fahne of the report, originating with Stalin, of General Turkul's plans, Trotsky's closest cothinkers and friends made one more attempt to remind Stalin of his personal responsibility for the life of Comrade Trotsky. In the name of the leading comrades of the German Left Opposition, the Prussian Landtag deputy, Comrade Seipold, went to the Soviet embassy in Berlin and raised with the person responsible the question of fulfilling the undertaking about the former colleagues of Comrade Trotsky or of taking other more or less realistic security measures. Comrade Seipold was promised a reply after necessary consultations with Moscow. No reply was made
An attempt of the same kind was made by Comrade Trotsky's French comrades. Representatives of the French Left Opposition approached the Soviet embassy in Paris with the same demand as Comrade Seipold. The result was the same.
Only after this refusal by Stalin to conclude with L. D. Trotsky's friends a practical agreement on the protection of Comrade Trotsky's life from danger at the hands of counterrevolutionary assassins did we consider it our right to formulate clearly and distinctly our accusation: Stalin is in an actual united front with General Turkul, the organizer of a terrorist act against Trotsky.
No "alibi" in the form of disclosures printed in a German newspaper, but concealed from the people of the USSR, no secret documents from a Stalinist archive, prepared in advance for publication at the necessary moment, will refute or weaken our accusation; on the contrary, they will strengthen and redouble it.
1. The very fact of Comrade Trotsky's exile abroad has turned him into a target for the class enemies.
2. The place chosen for exile was Turkey, where conditions exclude the possibility of taking any measures whatsoever to protect Comrade Trotsky by the forces of the local communists.
3. Stalin has broken his undertaking on the protection of Comrade Trotsky, given at the time of his exile (the question of Comrades Poznansky and Sermuks).
4. Stalin's agents, on Stalin's direct orders, threw Comrade Trotsky out onto a Constantinople street without the least means of protection.
5. Stalin has for several months now been aware of the White Guard preparations for an attempt on Comrade Trotsky, and is so sharply conscious of his own complicity in this affair that he is taking steps in advance to establish his alibi.
6. Stalin is concealing from the people of the USSR the facts he knows about the activity of Turkul and Co., for he understands that even a terrorized, strangled, downtrodden party will raise the question: What has he done, not just for setting up his alibi, but for real, actual, practical action against the terrorist plot of the band of czarist officers?
7. In refusing to participate jointly with us, the Bolshevik -Leninists, in taking the most necessary steps to protect the life of Comrade Trotsky, Stalin has finally and completely assumed the responsibility for his united front with General Turkul.
In this declaration of ours we raise no political questions. We are putting forward no demands for L. D. Trotsky's return to the USSR. We understand that for Stalin this is impossible as long as he continues a policy of merciless, often bloody, repression against the Bolshevik-Leninists. The struggle between revolutionary Marxism and bureaucratic centrism is a historical struggle, which will be fought to the finish and of whose outcome we are in no doubt. We are raising here a narrow question on the basis of which practical agreement is possible, without any slackening of the overall theoretical and political struggle. In selecting this question, we are establishing all the more precisely and concretely Stalin's responsibility in the matter of Trotsky's life.
So as not to leave room for the slightest misunderstandings, we make a completely formal statement that we are ready and willing at any moment to work out together with the appropriate representatives of the Soviet government the necessary defense measures, and to offer our personal forces in realizing these measures. It is precisely for this reason that we are for the moment refraining from publishing this declaration.