John Simkin's blog - latest post

Was Henry VIII as bad as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin?

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John Simkin

In September, 1997, Spartacus Educational founder and managing director John Simkin became the first educational publisher in Britain to establish a website that was willing to provide teachers and students with free educational materials.

According to a survey carried out by the Fischer Trust, Spartacus Educational is one of the top three websites used by history teachers and students in Britain (the other two are BBC History and the Public Record Office’s Learning Curve). The Spartacus Educational website currently gets up to 7 million page impressions a month and 3 million unique visitors.

As well as running the Spartacus Educational website John Simkin has also produced material for the Electronic Telegraph, the European Virtual School and the Guardian's educational website, Learn. He was also a member of the European History E-Learning Project (E-Help), a project to encourage and improve use of ICT and the internet in classrooms across the continent.

We have published six e-books, Charles Dickens: A Biography (October, 2012), First World War Encyclopedia (October, 2012), Assassination of John F. Kennedy Encyclopedia (November, 2012), Gandhi: A Biography (December, 2012), The Spanish Civil War (December, 2012) and The American Civil War (December, 2012). He also contributed an article to the recently published book, Using New Technologies to Enhance Teaching and Learning in History (December, 2012).

New Additions

Sidney Hook
Sidney Hook

The Dewey Commission conducted thirteen hearings at the home of Diego Rivera in Coyoacan, from 10th April to 17th April, 1937, that looked at the claims against Trotsky and his son, Lev Sedov. The commission was made up of Dewey, Suzanne La Follette, Carlo Tresca, Benjamin Stolberg, Carleton Beals, Otto Ruehle, Alfred Rosmer, Wendelin Thomas, Edward A. Ross and John Chamberlain. Dewey invited the Soviet Union government to send documentary material and legal representatives to cross-examine Trotsky. However, they refused to do that and the offer for the Soviet ambassador to the United States, Andrei Troyanovsky, to attend, was also rejected.

John Dewey opened the hearings with the words: "This commission, like many millions of workers of city and country, of hand and brain, believes that no man should be condemned without a chance to defend himself.... The simple fact that we are here is evidence that conscience demands that Mr. Trotsky be not condemned before he has had full opportunity to present whatever evidence is in his possession in reply to the guilty verdict returned in a court where he was neither present nor represented. If Leon Trotsky is guilty of the acts with which he is charged, no condemnation can be too severe."


Martha Dodd
Martha Dodd

A copy of this statement was sent to Nikolai Yezhov, the head of the NKVD. On 29th March, 1937, he sent it to Joseph Stalin with the message: "The 7th department of the... NKVD recruited Martha Dodd, daughter of the American Ambassador in Berlin, who came in March 1937 to Moscow for business negotiations. She described in her report her social status, her father's status, and prospects of her further work for us. Forwarding a copy of the latter, I ask instructions about Martha Dodd's use." For the rest of the year Martha Dodd provided information from the American embassy. A NKVD report stated: "Martha Dodd... checks Ambassador Dodd's reports to Roosevelt in the archive and communicates to us short summaries of the contents, whose numbers we gave to her. She continues providing us with materials from the American Embassy, trying mainly to get data about Germany, Japan, and Poland." Her controller reported giving her "200 American dollars, 10 rubles, and gifts bought for 500 rubles."

In a memo from Boris Vinogradov he pointed out that it was important for her to believe that she would eventually be allowed to marry him. He wrote that "her dream is to be my wife, at least virtually, and that I will come to work in America and she would help me."