Natalia Sedova, the daughter of a wealthy merchant, was born in Romny, Russia on 5th April, 1882. She became involved in revolutionary activity and met Leon Trotsky in the summer of 1902. At the time he was married to Alexandra Sokolovskaya and had just escaped from captivity in Siberia.
Trotsky divorced Alexandra and married Natalia. They joined the Social Democratic Party and moved to Paris where they associated with Lenin, George Plekhanov, Pavel Axelrod, Vera Zasulich and Julius Martov and became involved in producing the journal Iskra. Natalia later recalled: "The autumn of 1902 was marked by frequent lectures in the Russian colony in Paris. The Iskra group, to which I belonged, saw first Martov, and then Lenin. A war was being fought against the "Economists" and the Socialist-Revolutionists."
At the Second Congress of the Social Democratic Party held in London in 1903, there was a dispute between Lenin and Julius Martov. Lenin argued for a small party of professional revolutionaries with a large fringe of non-party sympathizers and supporters. Martov disagreed believing it was better to have a large party of activists. Trotsky commented that "the split came unexpectedly for all the members of the congress. Lenin, the most active figure in the struggle, did not foresee it, nor had he ever desired it. Both sides were greatly upset by the course of events."
Martov won the vote 28-23 but Lenin was unwilling to accept the result and formed a faction known as the Bolsheviks. Those who remained loyal to Martov became known as Mensheviks. Trotsky argued in My Life: An Attempt at an Autobiography (1930): "How did I come to be with the 'softs' at the congress? Of the Iskra editors, my closest connections were with Martov, Zasulitch and Axelrod. Their influence over me was unquestionable. Before the congress there were various shades of opinion on the editorial board, but no sharp differences. I stood farthest from Plekhanov, who, after the first really trivial encounters, had taken an intense dislike to me. Lenin's attitude towards me was unexceptionally kind. But now it was he who, in my eyes, was attacking the editorial board, a body which was, in my opinion, a single unit, and which bore the exciting name of Iskra. The idea of a split within the board seemed nothing short of sacrilegious to me."
Natalia later recalled how painful Trotsky found this split. "From London, Leon wrote almost daily. His letters were expressive of a growing alarm, and finally there was a letter reporting the split, that said with despair that the Iskra was no more, that it was dead... The split in the Iskra upset us dreadfully. After Leon's return from the congress I soon left for St Petersburg with reports of the congress written in a microscopic hand on thin paper, and inserted inside of the binding of a Larousse French dictionary."
Natalia and Leon Trotsky decided to travel to St. Petersburg to take part in what later became known as the 1905 Russian Revolution. Strikes took place all over the country and the universities closed down when the whole student body complained about the lack of civil liberties by staging a walkout. Lawyers, doctor, engineers, and other middle-class workers established the Union of Unions and demanded a constituent assembly. However, in May, Natalia was arrested and sent to prison. Trotsky now decided to escape to Finland.
In June, 1905, sailors on the Potemkin battleship, protested against the serving of rotten meat. The captain ordered that the ringleaders to be shot. The firing-squad refused to carry out the order and joined with the rest of the crew in throwing the officers overboard. The Potemkin Mutiny spread to other units in the army and navy. Now industrial workers all over Russia went on strike and in October, 1905, the action of railwaymen paralyzed the whole Russian railway network.
Sergi Witte, the new Chief Minister, advised Nicholas II to make concessions. He eventually agreed and published the October Manifesto. This granted freedom of conscience, speech, meeting and association. He also promised that in future people would not be imprisoned without trial. Finally he announced that no law would become operative without the approval of a new organization called the Duma.
Leon Trotsky now decided to return to St. Petersburg. Natalia was released and the couple rented a room in the name of Vikentiyev. He joined the St. Petersburg Soviet and was eventually elected chairman. He wrote a regular column for the Menshevik newspaper, Nachalo (The Beginning) and wrote editorials for Izvestia (The News), the official Soviet organ. "I wrote articles as well as numerous appeals, manifestos and resolutions. The fifty-two days of the existence of the first Soviet were filled to the brim with work... How we managed to live in this whirlpool is still not clear, even to me... We not only whirled in the vortex, but we helped to create it. Everything was done in a hurry, but, after all, not so badly, and some things were even done very well." Over the next few weeks over 50 of these soviets were formed all over Russia.
On 2nd December 1905, Trotsky published its "financial manifesto, which proclaimed that the financial bankruptcy of Tsarism was inevitable, and issued a categorical warning that the debts incurred by the Romanovs would not be recognized by the victorious nation". The manifesto pointed out: "The autocracy never enjoyed the confidence of the people and was never granted any authority by the people. We have therefore decided not to allow the repayment of such loans as have been made by the Tsarist government when openly engaged in a war with the entire people."
With the failings of the Duma, the Soviets were seen as the legitimate workers' government. Trotsky and the Soviets challenged the power of Tsar Nicholas II and attempted to enforce promises made in the October Manifesto such as the freedom of the press, assembly and association. On 3rd December, 1905, the St. Petersburg Soviet was crushed and Trotsky was arrested and imprisoned.
Natalia Sedova went to live in Finland and in 1906 she gave birth to a son, Lev Sedov. However, it was not long before her husband was able to escape from Siberia. "When I received the telegram in Terioki, a Finnish village near St Petersburg where I was staying alone with my baby son, I was beside myself with joy and excitement. That same day I received a long letter from Leon written on his way to exile, in which, aside from its description of the journey, he asked me to take with me when I left for Obdorsk a number of aiticles necessary in the north, among them certain books."
The couple now moved to Vienna: "The house was better than we could usually get, as the villas here were usually rented in the spring, and we rented ours for the autumn and winter. From the windows we could see the mountains, all dark-red autumn colours. One could get into the open country through a back gate without going to the street. In the winter, on Sundays, the Viennese cane by on their way to the mountains, with sleds and skis, in little coloured caps and sweaters. In April, when we had to leave our house because of the doubling of the rent, the violets were already blooming in the garden and their fragrance filled the rooms from the open windows."
Sergei Sedov was born on 21st March, 1908. Both boys were educated in Vienna: "The children spoke Russian and German. In the kindergarten and school they spoke German, and for this reason they continued to talk German when they were playing at home. But if their father or I started talking to them, it was enough to make them change instantly to Russian. If we addressed them in German, they were embarrassed, and answered us in Russian. In later years they also acquired the Viennese dialect and spoke it excellently."
On the outbreak of the First World War Sedova and Trotsky were forced to leave Vienna. They went to Zurich where Trotsky published a pamphlet attacking German socialists for supported the war. In November, 1914, Trotsky moved to Paris where he became one of the editors of Social Democratic Party newspaper, Nashe Slovo.
Trotsky continued to denounce the war and joined with the pacifists in urged workers not to participate in the conflict. This led to him being arrested by the French authorities and in September, 1916, he was deported to Spain. Hounded by the Spanish police, Trotsky and his wife decided to move to the United States. They arrived in New York in January, 1917 and worked with Nikolai Bukharin and Alexandra Kollontai in publishing the revolutionary newspaper Novy Mir.
On 26th February, 1917, Tsar Nicholas II ordered the Duma to close down. Members refused and they continued to meet and discuss what they should do. Michael Rodzianko, President of the Duma, sent a telegram to the Tsar suggesting that he appoint a new government led by someone who had the confidence of the people. When the Tsar did not reply, the Duma nominated a Provisional Government headed by Prince George Lvov. The High Command of the Russian Army now feared a violent revolution and on 28th February suggested that the Tsar should abdicate in favour of a more popular member of the royal family. Attempts were now made to persuade Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich to accept the throne. He refused and on the 1st March, 1917, the Tsar abdicated leaving the Provisional Government in control of the country.
The new government allowed all political prisoners to return to their homes. Joseph Stalin arrived at Nicholas Station in Petrograd with Lev Kamenev on 25th March, 1917. Lenin was now desperate to return to Russia to help shape the future of the country. The German Foreign Ministry, who hoped that Lenin's presence in Russia would help bring the war on the Eastern Front to an end, provided a special train for Lenin and 27 other Bolsheviks to travel to Russia.
When Lenin returned to Russia on 3rd April, 1917, he announced what became known as the April Theses. Lenin attacked Bolsheviks for supporting the Provisional Government. Instead, he argued, revolutionaries should be telling the people of Russia that they should take over the control of the country. In his speech, Lenin urged the peasants to take the land from the rich landlords and the industrial workers to seize the factories. Leon Trotsky gave Lenin his full support: "I told Lenin that nothing separated me from his April Theses and from the whole course that the party had taken since his arrival." The two agreed, however, that Trotsky would not join the Bolshevik Party at once, but would wait until he could bring as many of the Mezhrayontsky group into the Bolshevik ranks. This included David Riazanov, Anatoli Lunacharsky, Moisei Uritsky, Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko and Alexandra Kollontai. Trotsky officially joined the Bolsheviks in July.
Lev Kamenev led the opposition to Lenin's call for the overthrow of the government. In Pravda he disputed Lenin's assumption that the bourgeois democratic revolution has ended," and warned against utopianism that would transform the "party of the revolutionary masses of the proletariat" into "a group of communist propagandists." A meeting of the Petrograd Bolshevik Committee the day after the April Theses appeared voted 13 to 2 to reject Lenin's position. Robert V. Daniels, the author of Red October: The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 (1967) has argued that Lenin now set about changing the minds of the Bolsheviks. "He was distinctly a father-figure: at forty-eight, he was ten years or more the senior of the other Bolshevik leaders. And he had a few key helpers - Zinoviev, Alexandra Kollontai, Stalin (who was quick to sense the new direction of power in the party), and, most effective of all, Yakov Sverdlov."
Trotsky and his family arrived back in Russia in May, 1917. He disapproved of the support that many leading Mensheviks were now giving to the Provisional Government and the war effort. Trotsky gave Lenin his full support: "I told Lenin that nothing separated me from his April Theses and from the whole course that the party had taken since his arrival." The two agreed, however, that Trotsky would not join the Bolshevik Party at once, but would wait until he could bring as many of the Mezhrayontsky group into the Bolshevik ranks. This included David Riazanov, Anatoli Lunacharsky, Moisei Uritsky, Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko and Alexandra Kollontai. Trotsky officially joined the Bolsheviks in July. The new prime minister, Alexander Kerensky, now realized that Trotsky was a major threat to his government and had him arrested.
On 12th September 1917, Ivar Smilga took a message from Lenin to Petrograd. It included the following orders: "Without losing a single moment, organize the staff of the insurrectionary detachments; designate the forces; move the loyal regiments to the most important points; surround the Alexandrinsky Theater; occupy the Peter-Paul fortress; arrest the general staff and the government; move against the military cadets, the Savage Division, etc., such detachments as will die rather than allow the enemy to move to the center of the city; we must mobilize the armed workers, call them to a last desperate battle, occupy at once the telegraph and telephone stations, place our staff of the uprising at the central telephone station, connect it by wire with all the factories, the regiments, the points of armed fighting, etc. Of course, this is all by way of an example, to illustrate the idea that at the present moment it is impossible to remain loyal to the revolution without treating insurrection as an art."
Joseph Stalin read out the message. Nickolai Bukharin was one of those who attended the meeting: "We gathered and - I remember as though it were just now - began the session. Our tactics at the time were comparatively clear: the development of mass agitation and propaganda, the course toward armed insurrection, which could be expected from one day to the next.... The letter was written very forcefully and threatened us with every punishment. We all gasped. No one had yet put the question so sharply. No one knew what to do. Everyone was at a loss for a while. Then we deliberated and came to a decision. Perhaps this was the only time in the history of our party when the Central Committee unanimously decided to burn a letter of Comrade Lenin's. This instance was not publicized at the time."
Leon Trotsky was the main figure to argue for an insurrection whereas Lev Kamenev, Gregory Zinoviev, Alexei Rykov and Victor Nogin led the resistance to the idea. They argued that an early action was likely to result in the Bolsheviks being destroyed as a political force. As Robert V. Daniels, the author of Red October: The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 (1967) has explained why Zinoviev felt strongly about the need to wait: "The experience of the summer (the July Days) had brought him to the conclusion that any attempt at an uprising would end as disastrously as the Paris Commune of 1871; revolution was was inevitable, he wrote at the time of the Kornilov crisis, but the party's task for the time being was to restrain the masses from rising to the provocations of the bourgeoisie."
Sedova later recalled: "During the last days of the preparation for October, we were staying in Taurid Street. Lev Davydovich lived for whole days at the Smolny. I was still working at the union of wood-workers, where the Bolsheviks were in charge, and the atmosphere was tense... The question of the uprising was discussed everywhere - in the streets, at meal-time, at casual meetings on the stairs of the Smolny. We ate little, slept little, and worked almost twenty-four hours a day. Most of the time we were separated from our boys, and during the October days I worried about them. Lev and Sergei were the only Bolsheviks in their school except for a third, a sympathizer, as they called him. Against them these three had a compact group of off-shoots of the ruling democracy - Kadets and Socialist-Revolutionists. And, as usually happens in such cases, criticism was supplemented by practical arguments. On more than one occasion the head master had to extricate my sons from under the piled-up democrats who were pummelling them. The boys, after all, were only following the example of their fathers. The head master was a Kadet, and consequently always punished my sons."
On 24th October 1917 Lenin wrote a letter to the members of the Central Committee: "The situation is utterly critical. It is clearer than clear that now, already, putting off the insurrection is equivalent to its death. With all my strength I wish to convince my comrades that now everything is hanging by a hair, that on the agenda now are questions that are decided not by conferences, not by congresses (not even congresses of soviets), but exclusively by populations, by the mass, by the struggle of armed masses… No matter what may happen, this very evening, this very night, the government must be arrested, the junior officers guarding them must be disarmed, and so on… History will not forgive revolutionaries for delay, when they can win today (and probably will win today), but risk losing a great deal tomorrow, risk losing everything."
Leon Trotsky supported Lenin's view and urged the overthrow of the Provisional Government. Lenin agreed and on the evening of 24th October, orders were given for the Bolsheviks to occupy the railway stations, the telephone exchange and the State Bank. The following day the Red Guards surrounded the Winter Palace. Inside was most of the country's Cabinet, although Alexander Kerensky had managed to escape from the city.
Sedova later recalled: "I dropped into a room at the Smolny and found Vladimir Ilyich (Lenin) there with Lev Davydovich (Trotsky). With them, if I remember correctly, were Dzerzhinsky, Joffe, and a crowd of others. Their faces were a greyish-green from lack of sleep; their eyes were inflamed, their collars soiled, and the room was full of smoke... Someone was sitting at a table surrounded by people waiting for orders. Lenin and Trotsky were also in the midst of a waiting mob. It seemed to me that orders were being given as if by people who were asleep. There was something of the somnambulist in the way they talked and moved about. For a moment I felt as if I were seeing it all in a dream, and that the revolution was in danger of being lost if they didn't get a good sleep and put on clean collars."
The Winter Palace was defended by Cossacks, some junior army officers and the Woman's Battalion. At 9 p.m. The Aurora and the Peter and Paul Fortress began to open fire on the palace. Little damage was done but the action persuaded most of those defending the building to surrender. The Red Guards, led by Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko, now entered the Winter Palace and arrested the Cabinet ministers.
On 26th October, 1917, the All-Russian Congress of Soviets met and handed over power to the Soviet Council of People's Commissars. Lenin was elected chairman and other appointments included Leon Trotsky (Foreign Affairs) Alexei Rykov (Internal Affairs), Anatoli Lunacharsky (Education), Alexandra Kollontai (Social Welfare), Victor Nogin (Trade and Industry), Joseph Stalin (Nationalities), Peter Stuchka (Justice), Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko (War), Nikolai Krylenko (War Affairs), Pavlo Dybenko (Navy Affairs), Ivan Skvortsov-Stepanov (Finance), Vladimir Milyutin (Agriculture), Ivan Teodorovich (Food), Georgy Oppokov (Justice) and Nikolai Glebov-Avilov (Posts & Telegraphs). As chairman of the Council of People's Commissars, Lenin abolished private ownership of land and began distributing it among the peasants. Banks were nationalized and workers control of factory production was introduced.
Natalia Sedova was also given a post in the government. Trotsky explained in My Life: An Attempt at an Autobiography (1930): "My wife joined the commissariat of education and was placed in charge of museums and ancient monuments. It was her duty to fight for the monuments of the past against the conditions of civil war. It was a difficult matter. Neither the White nor the Red troops were much inclined to look out for historical estates, provincial Kremlins, or ancient churches. This led to many arguments between the war commissariat and the department of museums. The guardians of the palaces and churches accused the troops of lack of respect for culture; the military commissaries accused the guardians of preferring dead objects to living people. Formally, it looked as if I were engaged in an endless departmental quarrel with my wife. Many jokes were made about us on this score."
In January 1925, Joseph Stalin was able to arrange for Leon Trotsky to be removed from the government. One of his supporters, Evgenia Bosh, was devastated by the news that Trotsky had been removed from the leadership of the Red Army. Aware that Stalin was now in complete control of the Soviet Union, she decided to kill herself. Her friend, Evgeni Preobrazhensky wrote: "In her character she was made of that steel that is broken but not bent, but all these virtues were not cheap. She had to pay dearly, pay with her peace of mind, her health and her life."
Some of Trotsky's supporters pleaded with him to organize a military coup. As the former commissar of war Trotsky was in a good position to arrange this. However, Trotsky rejected the idea and instead resigned his post. Isaac Deutscher, the author of Stalin (1949) has argued: "He left office without the slightest attempt at rallying in his defence the army he had created and led for seven years. He still regarded the party, no matter how or by whom it was led, as the legitimate spokesman of the working-class."
In September 1926 Stalin threatened the expulsion of Leon Trotsky, Yuri Piatakov, Gregory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev and Grigori Sokolnikov. On 4th October, these men signed a statement admitting that they were guilty of offences against the statutes of the party and pledged themselves to disband their party within the party. They also disavowed the extremists in their ranks who were led by Alexander Shlyapnikov. However, having admitted their offences against the rules of discipline, they "restated with dignified firmness their political criticisms of Stalin."
Sergei Sedov was highly critical of his parents. Robert Service, the author of Trotsky (2009) has argued: "Only one of Trotsky's offspring, his younger son Sergei, failed to show him filial piety... Brought up on ideas of socialist equality, he took them seriously. He spurned all privileges. He refused to jump the queue for the doctor; he turned down the opportunity to wear smart clothes. When the Moscow Soviet sent a shiny new jacket for him, he announced that he would continue to wear his old one which was patched at the elbows. He rebuked Trotsky and Natalya for their bourgeois lifestyle and despised their cultural tastes.... At the age of sixteen he upped and left home: he had had enough." Leon Trotsky wrote: "We have made no protest, but it's too early - he is too young."
Sergei was fascinated with gymnastics and signed up with a circus. After two years doing this he fell in love with Olga Greber, a librarian. They set up home together in Moscow and trained as an engineer. Over the next few years he published articles on thermodynamics and diesel engines. He was eventually appointed as professor at the Moscow Institute of Technology. In 1929 Leon Trotsky was expelled from the Soviet Union but Sergei decided not to join the rest of the family in France because he wanted to continue his career as a teacher.
On 1st December, 1934, Sergy Kirov was shot dead by Leonid Nikolayev. He was immediately arrested and after being tortured by Genrikh Yagoda he signed a statement saying that Gregory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev had been the leaders of the conspiracy to assassinate Kirov. Soon afterwards Trotsky was implicated in the plot. Walter Duranty, the New York Times correspondent based in the Soviet Union, was willing to accept this story. "The details of Kirov's assassination at first pointed to a personal motive, which may indeed have existed, but investigation showed that, as commonly happens in such cases, the assassin Nikolaiev had been made the instrument of forces whose aims were treasonable and political. A widespread plot against the Kremlin was discovered, whose ramifications included not merely former oppositionists but agents of the Nazi Gestapo. As the investigation continued, the Kremlin's conviction deepened that Trotsky and his friends abroad had built up an anti-Stalinist organisation in close collaboration with their associates in Russia, who formed a nucleus or centre around which gradually rallied divers elements of discontent and disloyalty. The actual conspirators were comparatively few in number, but as the plot thickened they did not hesitate to seek the aid of foreign enemies in order to compensate for the lack of popular support at home."
Joseph Stalin was furious with the Trotsky family and ordered the arrest of Sergei Sedov. Natalia Sedova issued an open letter, published in Trotsky's Bulletin of the Opposition, in which she declared her son's innocence and appealed to George Bernard Shaw, Romain Rolland, Andre Gide and other European intellectuals sympathetic to the USSR to press Moscow for a commission of inquiry into the repressions following the Kirov murder. Trotsky recorded that: "Natalia is haunted by the thought of what a heavy heart Seryozha must have in prison (if he is in prison). Perhaps he may think that we have somehow forgotten about him, left him to his fate." Natalia remarked to her husband: "They will not deport him under any circumstances; they will torture him in order to get something out of him, and after that they will destroy him." Sergei was held in a Moscow prison for several months before being deported to Krasnoyarsk, in Siberia. In January 1937, the Soviet press reported that he had been arrested and charged with attempting, on the instructions of his father, a mass poisoning of workers. It is believed he was executed later that year.
Natalia Sedova and her son, Lev Sedov were members of the Left Opposition, a group that broadly supported the policies of Leon Trotsky. Lev became editor of the Bulletin of the Opposition, the journal "which fought against Stalinist reaction for the continuity of Marxism in the Communist International". According to Trotsky his son also helped him write his books, My Life: An Attempt at an Autobiography (1930) and History of the Russian Revolution (1932).
The trial of Gregory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, Ivan Smirnov, and thirteen others opened on 19th August 1936. Five of the sixteen defendants (K.B. Berman-Yurin, Fritz David, Emel Lurie, N.D. Lurie and V. P. Olberg) were actually NKVD plants, whose confessional testimony was expected to solidify the state's case by exposing Zinoviev, Kamenev and the other defendants as their fellow conspirators. The presiding judge was Vasily Ulrikh, a member of the secret police. The prosecutor was Andrei Vyshinsky, who was to become well-known during the Show Trials over the next few years.
The men made confessions of their guilt. Lev Kamenev said: "I Kamenev, together with Zinoviev and Trotsky, organised and guided this conspiracy. My motives? I had become convinced that the party's - Stalin's policy - was successful and victorious. We, the opposition, had banked on a split in the party; but this hope proved groundless. We could no longer count on any serious domestic difficulties to allow us to overthrow. Stalin's leadership we were actuated by boundless hatred and by lust of power."
Gregory Zinoviev also confessed: "I would like to repeat that I am fully and utterly guilty. I am guilty of having been the organizer, second only to Trotsky, of that block whose chosen task was the killing of Stalin. I was the principal organizer of Kirov's assassination. The party saw where we were going, and warned us; Stalin warned as scores of times; but we did not heed these warnings. We entered into an alliance with Trotsky."
On 24th August, 1936, Vasily Ulrikh entered the courtroom and began reading the long and dull summation leading up to the verdict. Ulrikh announced that all sixteen defendants were sentenced to death by shooting. Edward P. Gazur has pointed out: "Those in attendance fully expected the customary addendum which was used in political trials that stipulated that the sentence was commuted by reason of a defendant's contribution to the Revolution. These words never came, and it was apparent that the death sentence was final when Ulrikh placed the summation on his desk and left the court-room."
The following day Soviet newspapers carried the announcement that all sixteen defendants had been put to death. This included the NKVD agents who had provided false confessions. Joseph Stalin could not afford for any witnesses to the conspiracy to remain alive. Edvard Radzinsky, the author of Stalin (1996), has pointed out that Stalin did not even keep his promise to Kamenev's sons and later both men were shot.
Lev Sedov wrote several articles about the Show Trials in the Bulletin of the Opposition. These were eventually published in the book, The Red Book (1936). Leon Trotsky commented: "At that time my wife and I were captives in Norway, bound hand and foot, targets of the most monstrous slander. There are certain forms of paralysis in which people see, hear, and understand everything but are unable to move a finger to ward off mortal danger. It was to such political paralysis that the Norwegian Socialist government subjected us. What a priceless gift to us, under these conditions, was Leon's book, the first crushing reply to the Kremlin falsifiers. The first few pages, I recall, seemed to me pale. That was because they only restated a political appraisal, which had already been made, of the general condition of the USSR. But from the moment the author undertook an independent analysis of the trial, I became completely engrossed. Each succeeding chapter seemed to me better than the last."
The book begins with an analysis of Stalinism. "The old petit-bourgeois family is being reestablished and idealized in the most middle-class way; despite the general protestations, abortions are prohibited, which, given the difficult material conditions and the primitive state of culture and hygiene, means the enslavement of women, that is, the return to pre-October times. The decree of the October revolution concerning new schools has been annulled. School has been reformed on the model of tsarist Russia: uniforms have been reintroduced for the students, not only to shackle their independence, but also to facilitate their surveillance outside of school. Students are evaluated according to their marks for behavior, and these favor the docile, servile student, not the lively and independent schoolboy.... A whole institute of inspectors has been created to look after the behavior and morality of the youth."
Sedov went onto argue that Joseph Stalin was sending a message to the world that he had abandoned the Marxist concept of Permanent Revolution: "Stalin not only bloodily breaks with Bolshevism, with all its traditions and its past, he is also trying to drag Bolshevism and the October revolution through the mud. And he is doing it in the interests of world and domestic reaction.... The corpses of the old Bolsheviks must prove to the world bourgeoisie that Stalin has in reality radically changed his politics, that the men who entered history as the leaders of revolutionary Bolshevism, the enemies of the bourgeoisie - are his enemies also.... They (the Bolsheviks) are being shot and the bourgeoisie of the world must see in this the symbol of a new period. This is the end of the revolution, says Stalin. The world bourgeoisie can and must reckon with Stalin as a serious ally, as the head of a nation-state. Such is the fundamental goal of the trials in the area of foreign policy. But this is not all, it is far from all. The German fascists who cry that the struggle against communism is their historic mission find themselves most recently in a manifestly difficult position. Stalin has abandoned long ago the course toward world revolution."
Sedov looked closely at the trial of Gregory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev. and Ivan Smirnov. He wrote that he suspected that five of the sixteen defendants (K.B. Berman-Yurin, Fritz David, Emel Lurie, N.D. Lurie and V. P. Olberg) were NKVD plants: "The defendants are sharply divided into two groups. The basic nucleus of the first group consists of old Bolsheviks, known world-wide, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Smirnov, and others. The second group are young unknowns, among whom are also some direct agents of the GPU; they were necessary at the trial to demonstrate that Trotsky had taken part in terrorist activity, to establish a link between Zinoviev and Trotsky, and to establish a link with the Gestapo. If after having fulfilled the tasks assigned to them by the GPU they were nonetheless shot, it is because Stalin could not leave any such well-informed witnesses alive.... The very conduct of the two groups at the trial is as different as their composition. The old men sit there absolutely broken, crushed, answer in a faint voice, even cry. Zinoviev is thin, stooped, grey, his cheeks hollow. Mrachkovsky spits blood, loses consciousness, they carry him away. They all look like people who have been run into the ground and completely exhausted. But the young rogues conduct themselves in an easy and carefree manner, they are fresh-faced, almost cheerful. They feel as though they are at a party. With unconcealed pleasure they tell about their ties with the Gestapo and all their other fables."
Sedov rejects the idea that Marxists like Trotsky would resort to assassination as a revolutionary act. He points out how followers of Karl Marx in Russia rejected the policy of the People's Will and the Socialist Revolutionaries who attempted to assassinate the Tsar and his ministers: "Individual terror sets as its task the murder of isolated individuals in order to provoke a political movement and even a political revolution. In pre-revolutionary Russia, the question of individual terror had importance not only as a general principle, but also had enormous political significance, since there existed in Russia the petit-bourgeois party of the Socialist Revolutionaries, who followed the tactic of individual terror with regard to tsarist ministers and governors. The Russian Marxists, including Trotsky during his earliest years, took part in the fight against the adventuristic tactic of individual terror and its illusions, which counted not upon the movement of the masses of workers, but on the terrorists' bomb to open the road to revolution. To individual terror, Marxism counterposes the proletarian revolution. From his youth, Trotsky adhered resolutely and forever to Marxism. If one were to publish everything which Trotsky wrote, it would make dozens of thick volumes. One would not be able to find in them a single line which betrayed an equivocal attitude toward individual terror."
Sedov quotes Leon Trotsky as saying in an article in 1911: "Whether or not a terrorist attack, even if successful, provokes disturbance in the ruling circles depends on the concrete political circumstances. In any case, this disturbance can only be short-lived; the capitalist state does not rest on ministers and cannot be destroyed together with them. The classes which it serves will always find new men; the mechanism remains intact and continues its work. But the disturbance which the terrorist attack brings to the ranks of the working masses themselves is much more profound. If it suffices to arm oneself with a revolver to arrive at the goal, why then the efforts of the class struggle? If one can intimidate high-ranking people with the thunder of an explosion, why then a party?"
In the The Red Book (1936) Lev Sedov looks at the assassination of Sergy Kirov: "If we approach the question of individual terror in the USSR, not from a theoretical, but from a purely empirical point of view, from the point of view of so-called common sense, then it suffices to draw the following conclusion: the assassinated Kirov is immediately replaced by another Kirov-Zhdanov (Stalin has as many as he needs in reserve.) Meanwhile hundreds of people are shot, thousands, and very probably tens of thousands, are deported. The vise is tightened by several turns. If Kirov's assassination helped anyone, it is certainly the Stalinist bureaucracy. Under the cover of the struggle against terrorists, it has stifled the last manifestations of critical thought in the USSR. It has placed a heavy tombstone on all the living."
Walter Krivitsky was an NKVD agent who decided to leave the service of Joseph Stalin after the recall and execution of agents such as Theodore Maly and Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko. He arranged to meet Sedov in the company of Fedor Dan and warned him that there was an informer within his group. Krivitsky suggested that it might be Mark Zborowski. According to Gary Kern, the author of A Death in Washington: Walter G. Krivitsky and the Stalin Terror (2004): "Krivitsky had no desire to join the Trotskyists, but was impressed by Sedov, admiring his revolutionary fervor, hard work and austere life style."
In January 1937, the Soviet press reported that Sergei Sedov had been arrested and charged with attempting, on the instructions of his father, a mass poisoning of workers. It is believed he was executed later that year. Lev Sedov was warned of a possible assassination attempt by Alexander Orlov, another former NKVD agent. Orlov was aware of the activities of Mikhail Shpiegelglass and his clandestine unit called the Mobile Group that had murdered former agent, Ignaz Reiss. Reiss was found hiding in a village near Lausanne, Switzerland. It was claimed by Orlov that a trusted Reiss family friend, Gertrude Schildback, lured Reiss to a rendezvous, where the Mobile Group killed Reiss with machine-gun fire on the evening of 4th September 1937. Schildback was arrested by the local police and at the hotel was a box of chocolates containing strychnine. It is believed these were intended for Reiss's wife and daughter.
Victor Serge has pointed out that towards the end of 1937 Lev Sedov suffered from ill health. "For several months Sedov had been complaining of various indispositions, in particular of a rather high temperature in the evenings. He wasn’t able to stand up to such ill-health. He had been leading a hard life, every hour taken up by resistance to the most extensive and sinister intrigues of contemporary history – those of a regime of foul terror born out of the dictatorship of the proletariat. It was obvious that his physical strength was exhausted. His spirits were good, the indestructible spirits of a young revolutionary for whom socialist activity is not an optional extra but his very reason for living, and who has committed himself in an age of defeat and demoralisation, without illusions and like a man."
Lev Sedov had severe stomach pains. On 9th February, he was taken by Mark Zborowski to the Bergere Clinic, a small establishment run by Russian émigrés connected with the Union for Repatriation of Russians Abroad in Paris. Sedov had a operation for appendicitis that evening. It was claimed that the operation was successful and was making a good recovery. However, according to Bertrand M. Patenaude, the author of Stalin's Nemesis: The Exile and Murder of Leon Trotsky (2009): "The patient appeared to be recuperating well, until the night of 13-14 February, when he was seen wandering the unattended corridors, half-naked and raving in Russian. He was discovered in the morning lying on a bed in a nearby office, critically ill. His bed and his room were soiled with excrement. A second operation was performed on the evening of 15 February, but after enduring hours of agonizing pain, the patient died the following morning."
Edward P. Gazur, the author of Alexander Orlov: The FBI's KGB General (2001) has argued that Alexander Orlov believed he was murdered: "What concerned Orlov greatly was the fact that the hospital Sedov had been taken to, and where he expired, was the small clinic of Professor Bergere in Paris. Exactly a year earlier, Orlov had been in the same clinic because of his car accident while at the front. He had been cared for at the Bergere Clinic because it was a hospital that was trusted by the KGB to take care of high-ranking Soviet officials. Professor Bergere and his staff were sympathetic towards the Communist cause and under the influence of the KGB. Orlov was in Spain at the time of Sedov's death and was unable to ascertain the complete facts, but speculated that at the moment the KGB Centre had been apprised of the circumstances by Mark, the decision had been made to take advantage of the situation and eliminate Sedov. The autopsy performed by the KGB hirelings had to have been bogus to conceal the true cause of death."
Leon Trotsky was devastated by the death of his eldest son. In a press release on 18th February he stated: "He was not only my son but my best friend." Trotsky received information from several sources that Mark Zborowski was an NKVD agent. He asked Rudolf Klement to carry out an investigation of Zborowski. According to Gary Kern "Klement put together a file and planned to take it to Brussels on July 14, where he would circulate it among various branches of the Opposition. But no one in Brussels ever saw him." Klement's headless corpse was washed ashore in August 1938. He was identified by a friend from peculiar scars and marks on the body.
Joseph Stalin ordered his NKVD agents to eliminate Trotsky. Ramon Mercader became a regular visitor while he was living in Mexico City. Trotsky's wife, Natalia Sedova later recalled that he visited them on 20th August, 1940.: "He (Trotsky) brushed off his blue blouse and slowly, silently started walking towards the house accompanied by Jacson (Mercader) and myself. I came with them to the door of Lev Davidovich's study; the door closed, and I walked into the adjoining room.... Not more than three or four minutes had elapsed when I heard a terrible, soul-shaking cry and without so much as realizing who it was that uttered this cry, I rushed in the direction from which it came. Between the dining room and the balcony, on the threshold, beside the door post and leaning against it stood... Lev Davidovich. His face was covered with blood, his eyes, without glasses, were sharp blue, his hands were hanging." Stalin (1941) was published after his death.
Louis Budenz admitted in his autobiography, This is My Story (1947) that Joseph Stalin ordered the assassination of Leon Trotsky and that Earl Browder was involved in the plot. Sedova pointed out in Fourth International Journal (May 1947): "Everything we said in connection with the violent death of L.D. Trotsky is today being wholly confirmed by the confession of Louis Budenz, a former leader of the American Communist Stalinist Party, in his book, This Is My Story, published in March of this year. The testimony of this GPU sub-agent, who took part in the conspiracy against the life of L.D. Trotsky, introduces nothing factually new, but it does authoritatively corroborate everything that we said on the basis of general political considerations as well by taking into account the numerous facts which occurred during the years of our exile. The confessions of Louis Budenz throw light upon the entire activity of Stalin’s secret Apparatus, which has usurped power and which acts with bloody arbitrariness. According to Budenz, Earl Browder and Jack Stachel participated in the plot against Trotsky’s life."
After the Second World War Natalia Sedova moved to Paris and maintained contact with many exiled revolutionaries. Her best-known work in these last years was a biography of Trotsky, which she co-authored with fellow Russian revolutionary Victor Serge. She was also active in politics and continued to campaign against Joseph Stalin: "Virtually every year after the beginning of the fight against the usurping Stalinist bureaucracy, Trotsky repeated that the regime was moving to the right, under conditions of a lagging world revolution and the seizure of all political positions in Russia by the bureaucracy. Time and again, he pointed out how the consolidation of Stalinism in Russia led to the worsening of the economic, political and social positions of the working class, and the triumph of a tyrannical and privileged aristocracy. If this trend continues, he said, the revolution will be at an end and the restoration of capitalism will be achieved. That, unfortunately, is what has happened even if in new and unexpected forms. There is hardly a country in the world where the authentic ideas and bearers of socialism are so barbarously hounded. It should be clear to everyone that the revolution has been completely destroyed by Stalinism."
Sedova was a member of the Fourth International until she resigned over its support of Tito in Yugoslavia: "After the war and even before it ended, there was a rising revolutionary movement of the masses in these Eastern countries. But it was not these masses that won power and it was not a workers state that was established by their struggle. It was the Stalinist counter-revolution that won power, reducing these lands to vassals of the Kremlin by strangling the working masses, their revolutionary struggles and their revolutionary aspirations... I find it impossible to follow you in the question of the Tito regime in Yugoslavia. All the sympathy and support of revolutionists and even of all democrats, should go to the Yugoslav people in their determined resistance to the efforts of Moscow to reduce them and their country to vassalage. Every advantage should be taken of the concessions which the Yugoslav regime now finds itself obliged to make to the people. But your entire press is now devoted to an inexcusable idealization of the Titoist bureaucracy for which no ground exists in the traditions and principles of our movement."
In an interview she gave to Michel Gordey that was published in France-Soir on 7th November 1971 she was quoted as saying "She hopes, before she dies, to witness the rehabilitation by world communism of the one (Trotsky) who was, after Lenin, the greatest revolutionary of the modern times and the spiritual father of Mao Tse-Tung, the Chinese communist leader." The following week she complained to the journal that these were not her words: "A great revolutionary like Leon Trotsky can in no way be the spiritual father of Mao Tse-Tung, who achieved his position in China in direct struggle with the left opposition (Trotskyist) and consolidated it by the assassination and persecution of revolutionaries, exactly as Chiang Kai-Shek did. The spiritual fathers of Mao and of his party are obviously Stalin (whom he in fact claims as such) and his collaborators, Khruschev included. I consider the present Chinese regime, as well as the Russian regime or any other built on the same model, to be as far away from Marxism and from a proletarian revolution as Franco's regime in Spain."
Sedova went on to argue: "The police terror and the slanders of Stalin were only the political aspects of a struggle to the death against the revolution, led by the whole of the bureaucracy. One therefore cannot expect the re-establishment of the truth in any other way than through the annihlation of the bureaucracy by the working class they have reduced to slaves. I do not have hopes for the Russian party nor for its immitators, who are basically anti-communist. Any de-Stalinization will turn out to be a confidence trick if it does not lead to the seizure of power by the proletariat andthe dissolution of the police, political, military and economic institutions, the basis of the counter-revolution, which established the Stalinist state capitalist regime."
The autumn of 1902 was marked by frequent lectures in the Russian colony in Paris. The Iskra group, to which I belonged, saw first Martov, and then Lenin. A war was being fought against the "Economists" and the Socialist-Revolutionists. In our group there was some talk about the arrival of a young comrade who had escaped from Siberia. He called at the house of E. M. Alexandrova, formerly one of the Narodovoltsi, who had joined the Iskra. We of the younger generation were very fond of Ekaterina Mikhailovna, listened to her talks with great interest, and were much under her influence. When the young contributor to the Iskra made his appearance in Paris, Ekaterina Mikhailovua bade me find out if there was a vacant room near by. There happened to be one in the house where I lived. The rent for it was twelve francs a month, but the room was small, dark and narrow, just like a prison cell.
The split came unexpectedly for all the members of the congress. Lenin, the most active figure in the struggle, did not foresee it, nor had he ever desired it. Both sides were greatly upset by the course of events. After the congress Lenin was sick for sevetal weeks with a nervous illness. "From London, L. D. wrote almost daily," writes Sedova in her memoirs. "His letters were expressive of a growing alarm, and finally there was a letter reporting the split, that said with despair that the Iskra was no more, that it was dead ... The split in the Iskra upset us dreadfully. After L. Ws return from the congress I soon left for St Petersburg with reports of the congress written in a microscopic hand on thin paper, and inserted inside of the binding of a Larousse French dictionary.'
How did I come to be with the 'softs' at the congress? Of the Iskra editors, my closest connections were with Martov, Zasulitch and Axelrod. Their influence over me was unquestionable. Before the congress there were various shades of opinion on the editorial board, but no sharp differences. I stood farthest from Plekhanov, who, after the first really trivial encounters, had taken an intense dislike to me. Lenin's attitude towards me was unexceptionally kind. But now it was he who, in my eyes, was attacking the editorial board, a body which was, in my opinion, a single unit, and which bore the exciting name of Iskra. The idea of a split within the board seemed nothing short of sacrilegious to me.
Revolutionary centralism is a harsh, imperative and exacting principle. It often takes the guise of absolute ruthlessness in its relation to individual members, to whole groups of former associates. It is not without significance that the words "irreconcilable" and "relentless" are among Lenin's favourites. It is only the most impassioned, revolutionary striving for a definite end - a striving that is utterly free from anything base or personal - that can justify such a personal ruthlessness. In 1903 the whole point at issue was nothing more than Lenin's desire to get Axelrod and Zasulitch off the editorial board. My attitude towards them was full of respect, and there was an element of personal affection as well. Lenin also thought highly of them for what they had done in the past. But he believed that they were becoming an impediment for the future. This led him to conclude that they must be removed from their position of leadership. I could not agree. My whole being seemed to protest against this merciless cutting off of the older ones when they were at last on the threshold of an organized party. It was my indignation at his attitude that really led to my parting with him at the Second Congress. His behaviour seemed unpardonable to me, both horrible and outrageous. And yet, politically it was right and necessary, from the point of view of organization. The break with the older ones, who remained in the preparatory stages, was inevitable in any case. Lenin understood this before anyone else did. He made an attempt to keep Plekhanov by separating him from Zasulitch and Axelrod. But this, too, was quite futile, as subsequent events soon proved.
My break with Lenin occurred on what might be considered `moral' or even personal grounds. But this was merely on the surface. At bottom the separation was of a political nature and merely expressed itself in the realm of organization methods. I thought of myself as a centralist. But there is no doubt that at that time I did not fully realize what an intense and imperious centralism the revolutionary party would need to lead millions of people in a war against the old order....
The leader of the Mensheviks, Martov, must be counted as one of the most tragic figures of the revolutionary movement. A gifted writer, an ingenious politician, a penetrating thinker, Martov stood far above the intellectual movement of which he became the leader. But his thought lacked courage; his insight was devoid of will. Sheer doggedness was no substitute. Martov's initial reaction to events always showed a revolutionary trend of thought. Immediately, however, his thought, which lacked the support of a live will, died down. My friendship with him did not survive the test of the first important events precipitated by the approaching revolution.
Whatever I may say about it, however, the Second Congress was a landmark in my life, if only because it separated me from Lenin for several years. As I look back now on the past, I am not sorry. I came to Lenin for the second time later than many others, but I came in my own way, after I had gone through and had weighed the experience of the revolution, the counter-revolution and the Imperialist war. I came, as a result, more surely and seriously than those `disciples' who, during the master's life, repeated his words and gestures - not always at the right moment - but, after his death, proved to be nothing but helpless epigones and unconscious tools in the hands of hostile forces.
I have already mentioned the fact that N. I. Sedova had been made prisoner during a cavalry raid on a May Day meeting in the woods. She served about six months in prison and was then sent to live under police supervision at Tver. After the October Manifesto, she returned to St Petersburg. Under the names of Mr and Mrs Vikentiyev, we rented a room in the apartment of a man who turned out to be a gambler on the stock exchange. Business in the stock-market was bad, and many a speculator had to take in roomers. Newsboys brought us all the published papers every morning. Our landlord would sometimes borrow them from my wife, read them, and gnash his teeth. His affairs were constantly getting worse. One day he burst into our room waving a newspaper wildly. "Look," he yelled, as he pointed his finger at my newly written article "Good morning, St Petersburg janitors!" "Look, they are now reaching out for the janitors! If I came across the jailbird I would shoot him with this gunl' And he pulled a gun out of his pocket and shook it in the air. He looked like a maniac. He wanted sympathy. My wife came to my office at the newspaper with this disturbing news. We felt we had to look for new quarters. But we didn't have a free minute; so we trusted to fate. We stayed on with this despairing speculator until my arrest. Fortunately, neither he nor the police ever learned the identity of Vikentiyev. After my arrest our room was not even searched.
When I received the telegram in Terioki, a Finnish village near St Petersburg where I was staying alone with my baby son, I was beside myself with joy and excitement. That same day I received a long letter from Leon written on his way to exile, in which, aside from its description of the journey, he asked me to take with me when I left for Obdorsk a number of aiticles necessary in the north, among them certain books. It now looked as if he had changed his mind and was flying back in some mysterious way, and was even arranging for me to meet him at a station where the trains cross. But strangely enough, the name of the station was left out of the telegram. Next day I went to St Petersburg and tried to find out from the railway guide what station I had to book a ticket for. I was afraid to make inquiries, and finally set off on my journey without knowing the name of the station. I booked for Viatka and left in the evening. The car was full of landowners returning to their estates from St Petersburg, with parcels of table delicacies for the feast of Carnival week. The conversations were about pancakes, caviare, smoked sturgeon, wine, and such things. I could scarcely endure this talk - I was so excited about the meeting ahead of me, and I was worried by the fear of possible accidents ... And yet, I felt sure that we would meet.
I could hardly wait for the morning when the train was to arrive at the station of Samino - I had found out its name on the way, and memorized it forever. The trains stopped; ours and the other. I ran out to the station. Nobody there. I jumped into the other train, ran through one car after another, and he was not there. Suddenly I recognized Leon's fur coat in a compartment. So he had come with the train. But where was he? I leaped out of the car, and immediately ran into Leon, who was rushing out of the station looking for me. He was indignant about the mutilation of the cable and wanted to make a complaint about it right away. I could stop him from doing so only with difficulty. After he had sent me the cable, he of course realized that instead of me, he might be met by the secret police, but he felt that being with me would make it easier for him in St Petersburg, and he trusted to his lucks star. We took our seats in the compartment, and continued our journey together. I could not help being amazed at Leon's freedom and ease as he laughed and chatted aloud in the train and at the station. I wanted to keep him invisible, to hide him away, because of the threat of hard-labour hanging over him for his escape. But he was in full view and said that it was his best protection.
The house was better than we could usually get, as the villas here were usually rented in the spring, and we rented ours for the autumn and winter. From the windows we could see the mountains, all dark-red autumn colours. One could get into the open country through a back gate without going to the street. In the winter, on Sundays, the Viennese cane by on their way to the mountains, with sleds and skis, in little coloured caps and sweaters. In April, when we had to leave our house because of the doubling of the rent, the violets were already blooming in the garden and their fragrance filled the rooms from the open windows. Here Sergei was born.
The children spoke Russian and German. In the kindergarten and school they spoke German, and for this reason they continued to talk German when they were playing at home. But if their father or I started talking to them, it was enough to make them change instantly to Russian. If we addressed them in German, they were embarrassed, and answered us in Russian. In later years they also acquired the Viennese dialect and spoke it excellently.
They liked to visit the Klyachko family, where they received great attention from everybody - the head of the family, his wife, and the grown-up children - and were shown many interesting things and treated to others. The children were also fond of Ryazanov, the well-known Marxian scholar, who was then living in Vienna. He caught the imagination of the boys with his gymnastic feats, and appealed to them with his boisterous manner. Once when the younger boy Seryozha was having his hair cut by a barber and I was sitting near him, he beckoned to me to come over and then whispered in my ear: "I want him to cut my hair like Ryazanov's." He had been impressed by Ryazanov's huge smooth bald patch; it was not like everyone else's hair, but much better.
When Lev entered the school, the question of religion came up. According to the Austriarn law then in force, children up to the age of fourteen had to have religious instruction in the faith of their parents. As no religion was listed in our documents, we chose the Lutheran for the children because it was a religion which seemed easier on the children's shoulders as well as their souls. It was taught in the hours after school by a woman teacher, in the schoolhouse; Lev liked this lesson, as one could see by his little face, but he did not think it necessary to talk about it. One evening I heard him muttering something when he was in bed. When I questioned him, he said, "it's a prayer, you know prayers can be very pretty, like poems".
During the last days of the preparation for October, we were staying in Taurid Street. Lev Davydovich lived for whole days at the Smolny. I was still working at the union of wood-workers, where the Bolsheviks were in charge, and the atmosphere was tense. All the working hours were spent in talking about the uprising. The chairman of the union upheld "the point of view of Lenin-Trotsky" (as it was called then), and we carried on our agitation together. The question of the uprising was discussed everywhere - in the streets, at meal-time, at casual meetings on the stairs of the Smolny. We ate little, slept little, and worked almost twenty-four hours a day. Most of the time we were separated from our boys, and during the October days I worried about them. Lev and Sergei were the only "Bolsheviks" in their school except for a third, a "sympathizer", as they called him. Against them these three had a compact group of off-shoots of the ruling democracy - Kadets and Socialist-Revolutionists. And, as usually happens in such cases, criticism was supplemented by practical arguments. On more than one occasion the head master had to extricate my sons from under the piled-up "democrats" who were pummelling them. The boys, after all, were only following the example of their fathers. The head master was a Kadet, and consequently always punished my sons with "Take your hats and go home." After the revolution it was quite impossible for the boys to remain in that school, and so they went to a "people's school" instead. Everything was much simpler and cruder there, but one could breathe more freely.
Lev Davydovich and I very seldom were at home. The boys would come home from school and, finding that we weren't in, would think it unnecessary for them to stay within the four walls either. In those days of demonstrations, clashes and shootings we were worried for their safety, because they were then in such a revolutionary mood ... At our brief meetings they would tell us with the greatest joy: "Today we were with some Cossacks in a street-car and saw them read Dad's appeal, Brother Cossacks!"
"They read it and passed it on to others; it was fine!"
An acquaintance of Lev Davydovich's, the engineer K., who had a large family of children of all ages, with a governess and so forth, offered to keep the boys in his home, where there would be someone to look after them. I jumped at this as a saving grace. I had to call at the Smolny about five times a day to carry out different commissions for Lev Davydovich. We would return to Taurid street late at night; in the morning we would separate again, Lev Davydovich going to the Smolny, and I to the union. At the culmination of events we almost never left the Smolny. For days at a time Lev Davydovich would not come to Taurid Street even to sleep. And I often stayed at the Smolny, as well. We slept on sofas and chairs without undressing. The weather was not exactly warm; it was autumn; the days were dry and lowering, and the wind blew in sharp, cold gusts. The main streets were quiet and deserted. And in this stillness one felt an intense watchfulness. The Smolny was bubbling over. The enormous hall sparkled with the thousands of lights from the magnificent chandeliers; day and night it was filled to the brim with people. Life in the mills and factories was strained, but the streets had quieted down. They were as still 'as if the city, in fright, had drawn its head down between its shoulders.
I remember that on the morning of the second or third day after the uprising, I dropped into a room at the Smolny and found Vladimir Ilyich (Lenin) there with Lev Davydovich. With them, if I remember correctly, were Dzerzhinsky, Joffe, and a crowd of others. Their faces were a greyish-green from lack of sleep; their eyes were inflamed, their collars soiled, and the room was full of smoke... Someone was sitting at a table surrounded by people waiting for orders. Lenin and Trotsky were also in the midst of a waiting mob. It seemed to me that orders were being given as if by people who were asleep. There was something of the somnambulist in the way they talked and moved about. For a moment I felt as if I were seeing it all in a dream, and that the revolution was in danger of being lost if "they" didn't get a good sleep and put on clean collars; the dream was closely bound up with those collars. I remember that next day I met Lenin's sister, Marya, and reminded her hurriedly that Vladimir Ilyich needed a clean collar. "Oh, yes, of course," she replied, laughing. But by that time this matter of clean collars had lost its nightmarish significance for me.
My wife joined the commissariat of education and was placed in charge of museums and ancient monuments. It was her duty to fight for the monuments of the past against the conditions of civil war. It was a difficult matter. Neither the White nor the Red troops were much inclined to look out for historical estates, provincial Kremlins, or ancient churches. This led to many arguments between the war commissariat and the department of museums. The guardians of the palaces and churches accused the troops of lack of respect for culture; the military commissaries accused the guardians of preferring dead objects to living people. Formally, it looked as if I were engaged in an endless departmental quarrel with my wife. Many jokes were made about us on this score.
I now communicated with Lenin chiefly by telephone. His calls to me and mine to him were very frequent, and referred to an infinite number of things. The departments often bothered him with complaints against the Red army; Lenin would immediately call me. Five minutes later he would want to know if I could meet a new candidate for the people's commissary of agriculture for inspection, and tell him what I thought of him. An hour later he was interested to know if I had watched the theoretical discussion on proletarian culture, and whether I intended to make a counter-attack on Bukharin. Then the question would be: Could the war department on the southern front allot motor-trucks for the transport of food-supplies to the stations? Another half-hour would bring Lenin's inquiry whether I was following the disagreements in the Swedish communist party. And that was the way it went every day that I was in Moscow.
Our son Leon (Lev)... applied himself to the task which his father could not fulfill. In order to ease the latter's burden he came out himself with the exposure of the vile masters of the "Moscow Trials" whom he branded for what they were and who have written into the annals of history its most shameful and most revolting pages. Leon fulfilled this task brilliantly. In our jail we read his "Red Book" with great excitement. "All very true, all very true, good boy," said his father with a friend's tenderness. We wanted so much to see him and to embrace him!
In addition to his revolutionary activity and his literary work, our son occupied himself with higher mathematics which greatly interested him. In Paris he managed to pass examinations and dreamed of some time devoting himself to systematic work. On the very eve of his death he was accepted as a collaborator by the Scientific Institute of Holland and was to begin work on the subject of the Russian Opposition He was the only one among the youth who had had an enormous experience in this field and who was exhaustively acquainted with the entire history of the Opposition from its very inception.
Our economic instability used to worry him a great deal. How he yearned for economic independence! He once wrote me about his prospective earnings. The possibilities were good but he did not yet have definite assurance. "It would be a remarkable thing" (i.e., work in the Scientific Institute), he said and then added facetiously, "I would be in a position to assist my aging parents." "Why not dream?" he asked. His father and I often recalled these words of our son with love and tenderness. Mr. Spalding - assistant supervisor of the Russian Department in Stanford University-conducted some negotiations with our son in Paris concerning a prospective work, and here is what he later wrote about Leon: "The news of Sedov's death came to me as a shock. He impressed me as an extremely able and attractive personality, his future would undoubtedly have been brilliant. We are quite unclear about the circumstances of his death: some sources of our information indicate that it was due to medical negligence, or even something more terrible. Could you find it possible to write a brief note summarizing the conversation I had with Sedov last October (1937), including the tentative agreement which I had concluded with him. I could use such a note in ease it is possible to obtain certain information from Trotsky concerning the Russian civil war and war communism."
Leon entered the revolution as a child and never left it to the end of his days. The semi-conscious loyalty of his childhood toward the revolution later matured into a conscious and firmly intrenched devotion. Once in the summer of 1917, he came from school with a bloody hand into the office of the Woodworkers Trade Union (Bolshevik) where I was then working as editor and proof-reader of its organ, "Woodworkers Echo." It was the time of hot debates which took place net only in the Tauride Palace, the Smolny, or the Circus but also in the streets, the streetcars, schools and at work. Early in the morning, as a rule, a multitude of workers milled in the officer of our union, discussing current questions, i.e., the questions involving the impending seizure of power by the proletariat For the mass of workers these questions were indissolubly bound up with the personality of L.D. They discussed his speeches--and in these discussions could be felt the unity and inflexibility of will: a burning desire to march forward, summoning for a decisive struggle with unconquerable faith in victory.
After a brief siesta, I saw him (Trotsky) sitting at his desk, which was already covered with items relating to the El Popular case. He continued to be in good spirits. And it made me feel more cheerful. Lev Davidovich had of late been complaining of enervation to which he succumbed occasionally. He knew that it was a passing condition, but lately he seemed to be in greater doubt about it than ever before; today seemed to us to mark the beginning of improvement in his physical condition. He looked well too. Every now and then I opened the door to his room just a trifle, so as not to disturb him, and saw him in his usual position, bent over his desk, pen in hand. I recalled the line, "One more and final story and my scroll is at an end." Thus speaks the ancient monk-scribe Pimen in Pushkin's drama "Boris Godounov," as he recorded the evil deeds of Czar Boris.
Lev Davidovich led a life close in semblance to that of a prisoner or a hermit, with this difference that in his solitude he not only kept a chronological record of events but waged an indomitably passionate struggle against his ideological enemies...
At five, the two of us had tea, as usual. At twenty minutes past five, perhaps at half past, I stepped out on the balcony and saw L. D. in the patio near an open rabbit hutch. He was feeding the animals. Beside him was an unfamiliar figure. Only when he removed his hat and started to approach the balcony did I recognize him. It was "Jacson."
"He's here again," it flashed through my mind. "Why has he begun to come so often?" I asked myself.
"I'm frightfully thirsty, may I have a glass of water?" he asked, upon greeting me.
"Perhaps you would like a cup of tea?"
"No no. I dined too late and feel that the food is up here," he answered, pointing at his throat. "it's choking me." The color of his face was gray-green. His general appearance was that of a very nervous man.
"Why are you wearing your hat and topcoat?" (His topcoat was hanging over his left arm, pressed against his body.) "It's so sunny today."
"Yes, but you know it won't last long, it might rain." I wanted to argue that "today it won't rain" and of his always boasting that he never wore a hat or coat, even in the wont weather, but somehow I became depressed and let the subject drop. Instead I asked:
"And how is Sylvia feeling?"
He did not appear to understand me. I had upset him by my previous question about his topcoat and hat. And he was completely lost in his own thoughts, and very nervous. Finally, as if rousing himself from a deep sleep, he answered me: "Sylvia?... Sylvia?..." And catching himself, he added casually: "She's always well."
He began to retrace his steps towards Lev Davidovich and the rabbit hutches. I asked him as he walked away: "Is your article ready?"
"Yes, it's ready."
"Is it typed?"
With an awkward movement of his hand, while he continued to press against his body his topcoat in the lining of which were sewn in, as it was later revealed, a pickaxe and a dagger, he produced several typewritten pages to show me.
"It's good that your manuscript is not written by hand. Lev Davidovich dislikes illegible manuscripts."
Two days earlier he had called on us, also wearing a topcoat and a hat. I did not see him then as, unfortunately, I was not at home. But Lev Davidovich told me that "Jacson" had called and had somewhat surprised him by his conduct Lev Davidovich mentioned it in a way which indicated that he had no desire to elaborate upon the matter, but at the same time he felt that he had to mention it to me, sensing some new feature about the man.
"He brought an outline of his article, in reality a few phrases - muddled stuff. I made some suggestions to him. We shall see." And Lev Davidovich added, "Yesterday he did not resemble a Frenchman at all. Suddenly he sat down on my desk and kept his hat on all the while."
"Yes, it's strange" I said in wonderment. "He never wears a hat."
"This time he wore a hat," answered Lev Davidovich and pursued this subject no further. He spoke casually. But I was taken aback: it seemed to me that on this occasion he had perceived something new about "Jacson" but had not yet reached, or rather was in no hurry to draw conclusions. This brief conversation of ours occurred on the eve of the crime.
Wearing a hat.. topcoat on his arm... sat himself down on the table - wasn't this a rehearsal on his part? This was done so that he would be more certain and precise in his movements on the morrow.
Who could have suspected it then? It stirred us to embarrassment, nothing more. Who could have foretold that the day of August 20, so ordinary, would be so fateful? Nothing bespoke its ominousness. From dawn the sun was shining, as always here, the whole day brightly. Flowers were blooming, and grass seemed polished with lacquer... We went about our tasks each in his own way, all of us trying in whatever we did to facilitate Lev Davidovich's work. How many times in the course of that day did he mount the little steps of this same balcony, and walk into this, his room, and sit down on this very same chair beside the desk... All this used to hem ordinary and is now by its very ordinariness so terrible and tragic. No one, none among us, not he himself was able to sense the impending disaster. And in this inability a kind of abyss yawns. On the contrary, the whole day was one of the most tranquil. When L. D. stepped out at noon into the patio and I perceived him standing there bareheaded beneath the scorching sun, I hastened to bring him his white cap to protect his head against the merciless hot rays. To protect from the sun... but even at that very moment he was already threatened with a terrible death. At that hour we did not sense his doom, an outburst of despair did not convulse our hearts.
I recall that when the alarm system in the house, the garden and the patio was being installed by our friends and guard posts were being assigned, I drew L. D.'s attention to the fact that a guard should also be posted at his window. This seemed to me at the time so palpably indispensable. But L. D. objected that to do so it would be necessary to expand the guard, increase it to ten which was beyond our resources both in point of money and of available people at the disposal of our organization. A guard outside the window could not have saved him in this particular instance. But the absence of one worried me. L. D. was likewise very touched by a present given him by our American friends after the attack of May 24. It was a bullet proof vest, something like an ancient shirt of mail. As I examined it one day, I happened to remark that it would be good to get something for the head. L. D. insisted that the comrade assigned to the most responsible post wear the vest each time. After the failure suffered by our enemies in the May 24 attack, we were absolutely certain that Stalin would not halt, and we were making preparations. We also knew that a different form of attack would be used by the G.P.U. Nor did we exclude a blow on the part of a "solitary individual" sent secretly and paid by the G.P.U. But neither the bullet-proof vest nor a helmet could have served as safeguards. To apply these methods of defense from day to day was impossible. It was impossible to convert one's life solely into self-defense--for in that case life loses all its value.
As "Jacson" and I approached Lev Davidovich the latter addressed me in Russian, "You know, he is expecting Sylvia to call on us. They are leaving tomorrow." It was a suggestion on his part that I should invite them to tea, if not supper.
"I didn't know that you intend leaving tomorrow and are expecting Sylvia here."
"Yes...yes... I forgot to mention it to you."
"It's too bad that I didn't know, I might have sent a few things to New York."
"I could call tomorrow at one."
"No, no, thank you. It would inconvenience both of us."
And turning to Lev Davidovich, I explained in Russian that I had already asked "Jacson" to tea but that he refused, complaining about not feeling well, being terribly thirsty and asked me only for a glass of water. Lev Davidovich glanced at him attentively, and said in a tone of light reproach, "Your health is poor again, you look ill... That's not good."
There was a pause. Lev Davidovich was loath to tear himself away from the rabbits and in no mood to listen to an article. However, he controlled himself and said, "Well, what do you say, shall we go over your article?"
He fastened the hutches methodically, and removed his working gloves. He took good care of his hands, or rather his fingers inasmuch as the slightest scratch irritated him, interfered with his writing. He always kept his pen like his fingers in order. He brushed off his blue blouse and slowly, silently started walking towards the house accompanied by "Jacson" and myself. I came with them to the door of Lev Davidovich's study; the door closed, and I walked into the adjoining room....
Not more than three or four minutes had elapsed when I heard a terrible, soul-shaking cry and without so much as realizing who it was that uttered this cry, I rushed in the direction from which it came. Between the dining room and the balcony, on the threshold, beside the door post and leaning against it stood... Lev Davidovich. His face was covered with blood, his eyes, without glasses, were sharp blue, his hands were hanging.
"What happened? What happened?"
I flung my arms about him, but he did not immediately answer. It flashed through my mind. Perhaps something had fallen from the ceiling - some repair work was being done there - but why was he here?
And he said to me calmly, without any indignation, bitterness or irritation, "Jacson." L.D. said it as if he wished to say, "It has happened." We took a few steps and Lev Davidovich, with my help, slumped to the floor on the little carpet there.
"Natasha, I love you.'" He said this so unexpectedly, so gravely, almost severely that, weak from inner shock, I swayed toward him.
"0...0... no one, no one must be allowed to see you without being searched."
Carefully placing a pillow under his broken head, I held a piece of ice to his wound and wiped the blood from his face with cotton...
"Seva must be taken away from all this..."
He spoke with difficulty, unclearly, but was - so it seemed to me - unaware of it.
"You know, in there... " his eyes moved towards the door of his room... "I sensed... understood what he wanted to do.... He wanted to strike me... once more... but I didn't let him," he spoke calmly, quietly, his voice breaking.
"But I didn't let him." There was a note of satisfaction in these words. At the same time Lev Davidovich turned to Joe, and spoke to him in English. Joe was kneeling on the floor as I was, on the other side, just opposite me. I strained to catch the words, but couldn't make them out. At that moment I saw Charlie, his face chalk-white, revolver in hand, rush into Lev Davidovich's room.
"What about that one" I asked Lev Davidovich. "They will kill him."
"No... impermissible to kill, he must be forced to talk," Lev Davidovich replied, still uttering the words with difficulty, slowly.
A kind of pathetic whining suddenly broke upon our ears. I glanced in a quandary at Lev Davidovich. With a barely noticeable movement of his eyes, he indicated the door of his room and said condescendingly, "It's he"... "Has the doctor arrived yet?"
"He'll be here any minute now... Charlie has gone in a car to fetch him."
The doctor arrived, examined the wound and agitatedly stated that it was "not dangerous." Lev Davidovich accepted this calmly, almost indifferently as though one could not expect any other pronouncement from a physician in such a situation. But, turning to Joe and indicating his heart, he said in English, "I feel it here... This time they have succeeded." He was sparing me.
Everything we said in connection with the violent death of L.D. Trotsky is today being wholly confirmed by the confession of Louis Budenz, a former leader of the American “Communist” Stalinist Party, in his book, This Is My Story, published in March of this year. The testimony of this GPU sub-agent, who took part in the conspiracy against the life of L.D. Trotsky, introduces nothing factually new, but it does authoritatively corroborate everything that we said on the basis of general political considerations as well by taking into account the numerous facts which occurred during the years of our exile.
The confessions of Louis Budenz throw light upon the entire activity of Stalin’s secret “Apparatus,” which has usurped power and which acts with bloody arbitrariness. According to Budenz, Earl Browder and Jack Stachel participated in the plot against Trotsky’s life. The plan of Stalin’s terroristic deed was discussed in New York. For many reasons, and in the first instance, because Constantine Oumansky, who for many long years was attached to the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs in the capacity of secret police agent, participated both in the “accidental” and non-accidental deaths of Stalin’s enemies, it is difficult to suppose that he was not involved in one way or another in the crime perpetrated in Mexico during his stay as Soviet Ambassador in the United States. Oumansky himself “fell victim of an accident.” Was he perhaps in reality doomed to perish?
Louis Budenz leaves much that is unsaid ... he probably knows much more! But under the conspiratorial system, where each of the participants in the plot is told only what concerns him and nothing more, Budenz might have remained uninformed about some of the most important things. Let us hope that presently others will come forward with supplementary revelations.
Stalin cherished the project of physically destroying the leader of the anti-totalitarian Opposition even before the expulsion of Trotsky from the Russian Communist Party. Sometime after the death of Lenin, as was testified by Zinoviev and Kamenev, who at that time formed together with Stalin the secret ruling Triumvirate, Stalin posed to himself the task of getting rid of his opponent at any price. This found its confirmation in attempts which at that time looked like accidents, but which were highly suspicious nevertheless. Thus in 1924 when L.D. was recuperating in Kislovodsk, we happened one night to be returning in a hand-car from a hunting trip together with Muralov and our guards The hand-car suddenly jumped the rails and overturned. We escaped only with contusions. But we never received a plausible explanation of what had caused the derailment.
On November 7, 1927 during the demonstration in celebration of the 1917 Revolution, the Trotskyist Opposition marched with its own banners and its Left slogans. Shots were fired at the automobile of L.D. Trotsky. At that time the Stalinist clique could not go beyond attempts of this sort.
To the uninitiated it might appear incomprehensible why Stalin should have first exiled Trotsky abroad and then tried over a period of years to do away with him. In 1928 when Trotsky was exiled to Central Asia, it was still impossible to talk not only about shooting him but also about arresting him. The generation with whom Trotsky had passed through the entire October Revolution and the Civil War was still alive. The Political Bureau felt itself besieged from all sides and Stalin’s project could not have been realized at that time either politically or psychologically. Even the legal exile of L.D. was not managed successfully by Stalin; it was broken up by a huge demonstration which took place at night in the railway station. The tumultuous crowd set up a large portrait of the leader of the October Revolution on one of the cars, cheered enthusiastically, and halted the train as it started moving. But Trotsky was not on it. The departure had been cancelled. Here, too, Stalin was obliged to resort to deception and to a secret train in order to achieve the exile.
Comrades: You know quite well that I have not been in political agreement with you for the past five or six years, since the end of the war and even earlier. The position you have taken on the important events of recent times shows me that, instead of correcting your earlier errors, you are persisting in them and deepening them. On the road you have taken, you have reached a point where it is no longer possible for me to remain silent or to confine myself to private protests. I must now express my opinions publicly.
The step which I feel obliged to take has been a grave and difficult one for me, and I can only regret it sincerely. But there is no other way. After a great deal of reflections and hesitations over a problem which pained me deeply, I find that I must tell you that I see no other way than to say openly that our disagreements make it impossible for me to remain any longer in your ranks.
The reasons for this final action on my part are known to most of you. I repeat them here briefly only for those to whom they are not familiar, touching only on our fundamentally important differences and not on the differences over matters of daily policy which are related to them or which follow from them.
Obsessed by old and outlived formulas, you continue to regard the Stalinist state as a workers state. I cannot and will not follow you in this.
Virtually every year after the beginning of the fight against the usurping Stalinist bureaucracy, L.D. Trotsky repeated that the regime was moving to the right, under conditions of a lagging world revolution and the seizure of all political positions in Russia by the bureaucracy. Time and again, he pointed out how the consolidation of Stalinism in Russia led to the worsening of the economic, political and social positions of the working class, and the triumph of a tyrannical and privileged aristocracy. If this trend continues, he said, the revolution will be at an end and the restoration of capitalism will be achieved.
That, unfortunately, is what has happened even if in new and unexpected forms. There is hardly a country in the world where the authentic ideas and bearers of socialism are so barbarously hounded. It should be clear to everyone that the revolution has been completely destroyed by Stalinism. Yet you continue to say that under this unspeakable regime, Russia is still a workers state or with socialism. They are the worst and the most dangerous enemies of socialism and the working class. You now hold that the states of Eastern Europe over which Stalinism established its domination during and after the war, are likewise workers states. This is equivalent to saying that Stalinism has carried out a revolutionary socialist role. I cannot and will not follow you in this.
After the war and even before it ended, there was a rising revolutionary movement of the masses in these Eastern countries. But it was not these masses that won power and it was not a workers state that was established by their struggle. It was the Stalinist counter-revolution that won power, reducing these lands to vassals of the Kremlin by strangling the working masses, their revolutionary struggles and their revolutionary aspirations.
By considering that the Stalinist bureaucracy established workers states in these countries, you assign to it a progressive and even revolutionary role. By propagating this monstrous falsehood to the workers vanguard, you deny to the Fourth International all the basic reason for existence as the world party of the socialist revolution. In the past, we always considered Stalinism to be a counter-revolutionary force in every sense of the term. You no longer do so. But I continue to do so. In 1932 and 1933, the Stalinists, in order to justify their shameless capitulation to Hitlerism, declared that it would matter little if the Fascists came to power because socialism would come after and through the rule of Fascism. Only dehumanized brutes without a shred of socialist thought or spirit could have argued this way. Now, notwithstanding the revolutionary aims which animate you, you maintain that the despotic Stalinist reaction which has triumphed in Eastern Europe is one of the roads through which socialism will eventually come. This view marks an irredeemable break with the profoundest convictions always held by our movement and which I continue to share.
I find it impossible to follow you in the question of the Tito regime in Yugoslavia. All the sympathy and support of revolutionists and even of all democrats, should go to the Yugoslav people in their determined resistance to the efforts of Moscow to reduce them and their country to vassalage. Every advantage should be taken of the concessions which the Yugoslav regime now finds itself obliged to make to the people. But your entire press is now devoted to an inexcusable idealization of the Titoist bureaucracy for which no ground exists in the traditions and principles of our movement.
This bureaucracy is only a replica, in a new form, of the old Stalinist bureaucracy. It was trained in the ideas, the politics and morals of the GPU. Its regime differs from Stalins in no fundamental regard. It is absurd to believe or to teach that the revolutionary leadership of the Yugoslav people will develop out of this bureaucracy or in any way other than in the course of struggle against it.
Most insupportable of all is the position on the war to which you have committed yourselves. The third world war which threatens humanity confronts the revolutionary movement with the most difficult problems, the most complex situations, the gravest decisions. Our position can be taken only after the most earnest and freest discussions. But in the face of all the events of recent years, you continue to advocate, and to pledge the entire movement, to the defense of the Stalinist state. You are even now supporting the armies of Stalinism in the war which is being endured by the anguished Korean people. I cannot and will not follow you in this.
As far back as 1927, Trotsky, in reply to a disloyal question put to him in the Political Bureau by Stalin, stated his views as follows: For the socialist fatherland, yes! For the Stalinist regime, no! That was in 1927! Now, twenty-three years later Stalin has left nothing of the Socialist fatherland. It has been replaced by the enslavement and degradation of the people by the Stalinist autocracy. This is the state you propose to defend in the war, which you are already defending in Korea.
I know very well how often you repeat that you are criticizing Stalinism and fighting it. But the fact is that your criticism and your fight lost their value and can yield no results because they are determined by and subordinated to your position of defense of the Stalinist state. Whoever defends this regime of barbarous oppression, regardless of the motives, abandons the principles of socialism and internationalism. In the message sent me from the recent convention of the SWP you write that Trotsky's ideas continue to be your guide. I must tell you that I read these words with great bitterness. As you observe from what I have written above, I do not see his ideas in your politics. I have confidence in these ideas. I remain convinced that the only way out of the present situation is the social revolution, the self-emancipation of the proletariat of the world.
In the interview written by Michel Gordey and published in France-Soir on Monday November 7th, it says in the second paragraph "She (ie, myself) hopes, before she dies, to witness the rehabilitation by world communism of the one (Trotsky) who was, after Lenin, the greatest revolutionary of the modern times and the spiritual father of Mao Tse-Tung, the Chinese communist leader." These were certainly not my words; they were introduced by the author of the interview. I am therefore forced to clarify this by the following:
1. A great revolutionary like Leon Trotsky can in no way be the spiritual father of Mao Tse-Tung, who achieved his position in China in direct struggle with the left opposition (Trotskyist) and consolidated it by the assassination and persecution of revolutionaries, exactly as Chiang Kai-Shek did. The spiritual fathers of Mao and of his party are obviously Stalin (whom he in fact claims as such) and his collaborators, Khruschev included.
2. I consider the present Chinese regime, as well as the Russian regime or any other built on the same model, to be as far away from Marxism and from a proletarian revolution as Franco's regime in Spain.
3. The police terror and the slanders of Stalin were only the political aspects of a struggle to the death against the revolution, led by the whole of the bureaucracy. One therefore cannot expect the re-establishment of the truth in any other way than through the annihlation of the bureaucracy by the working class they have reduced to slaves. I do not have hopes for the Russian party nor for its immitators, who are basically anti-communist. Any de-Stalinization will turn out to be a confidence trick if it does not lead to the seizure of power by the proletariat andthe dissolution of the police, political, military and economic institutions, the basis of the counter-revolution, which established the Stalinist state capitalist regime.