Pierre Broué

The Bolshevik-Leninist Faction


From Revolutionary History, Vol. 9 No. 4, 2008, pp.137–160.
Chapter XXXV of Broué’s Trotsky, Paris 1988. [1]
Translated by Ted Crawford and Ian Birchall.
Transcribed by Alun Morgan for the Revolutionary History Website.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

In the period immediately after their expulsion from the party, Trotsky’s supporters in the United Opposition, which had just broken up, always insisted that, no matter what might happen to them, they still considered themselves to be members of the party, and that they were organised, of necessity secretly, in the Bolshevik-Leninist faction.

In their ranks, three groupings could be distinguished, although they were in contact – reluctantly and in one direction only, it is true. Firstly there were those whom L.S. Sosnovsky [2] called “the new colonists of the third generation”: that is those exiled, or deported, who could be found in some hundred “colonies” in urban centres and even villages scattered throughout Siberia and Central Asia, where they were required to live. And there were those on “the other side”, or “on the outside”, as the exiles said, those who remained, men and women not yet arrested, “free”, from now on active in clandestinity. Finally there were those who had been sent to prison, either after being sentenced, or on remand, the Bolsheviks-Leninists in those prisons called “isolators” and whose numbers were continually growing with additions from the first two categories.

We know very little about the prisons in 1928, and about the fate of the arrested oppositionists in them. A whole group of militants, among them S.V. Mrachkovsky [3], Y.A. Kievlenko [4] and others, had been accused of a “military plot” and were imprisoned for almost two months; they complained particularly about the overcrowded cells. They had been released because there were no confessions, prosecution witnesses or evidence. They were immediately deported. Several soldiers were also arrested, accused of having plotted an attack on the official poet Demyan Bedny. [5] They were Arkady Heller [6], Bulatov [7], Lado Enukidze [8] – the nephew of Avel [9], who had been secretary of the Executive Committee of the Soviets. [10] They were eventually released and deported like the others. Those who were in prison were concentrated in the isolators [11], in Verkhne-Uralsk, Cheliabinsk and Tobolsk, and were held there together with common criminals, and subjected to harsh conditions.

We know much more about the clandestine organisation, that of the people “on the outside” as the deportees said. The reports sent to Trotsky, the clandestine bulletins preserved in his archives and the information taken by the authorities after certain hauls [12] enable us to reconstruct its broad outlines.

First Moscow, where the “centre” was apparently very active, publishing several issues of a substantial bulletin, leaflets, statements and proclamations. It was this centre which succeeded in maintaining, for most of 1928, contact with Trotsky and Alma-Ata. Its leader signed his reports “Otets” (Dad) or “Starichok” (little old man): it was the old Bolshevik Boris Mikhailovich Eltsin [13], father of Victor Borisovich [14], a man exhausted by life, probably suffering from Pott’s disease, a fact which initially enabled him to escape arrest.

Among his collaborators we have some names, sometimes just the silhouette of men little or not at all known: M.J. Blumenfeld [15], formerly one of the leaders of the Communist Youth, and Sokrat Gevorkian [16], a young economics lecturer at the University of Moscow, were men of the generation of 1917. A little older, Khanaan Markovich Pevzner [17], a former member of the Cheka, a badly disabled veteran of the civil war, who had responsibility for the editing of the publications, and Grigori Yakovlevich Yakovin [18], a historian of Germany, and a militant from Leningrad. The last-named of these is known to us by two testimonies, that of Victor Serge [19] and that of Rosa Léviné-Meyer. [20] Others are only names which are found in documents from the archives, often militants whose role was important, like V. Yanuchevsky [21] or B. Volotnikov [22], but of whom we know nothing more.

There were other “centres”, in other cities, as can be deduced from the news of arrests or the source of information being circulated. This was the case in Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev and Kharkov, Baku and Tiflis, in Odessa, Dniepropetrovsk, Nikolaev, Saratov, Ivanovo-Voznesensk, Krasnoyarsk, Ekaterinoslav, Kremenchug, Rostov, Tula, Kostroma, Briansk, Nizhni Novgorod, Tver, Zaporozhe, etc

Thus we have relatively plentiful information on the activity of the Left Opposition. Its militants inspired actions and gave accounts of them: some record has been preserved in the Harvard and Hoover archives.

There was a working-class mobilisation, for example, in June 1928, in Kremenchug, in the railway workshops, against a reform of the payment system. The workers of the tram repair shops of Dniepropetrovsk threatened to go on strike following the decision to remove their right to free transport won in …. 1905.

Many of these actions related to votes or hostile attitudes to the party leadership in workers’ organisations: in the Vek factory at Kharkov, in Spartak at Kazan, in a factory at Kiev [23], workers assembled in a mass meeting denounced the “opportunist” decisions of the July plenum. Numerous discussions also took place about the campaign for “self-criticism”, where it was remembered that sometimes those who made criticisms were deported, and where it was thought that such would be the fate of new critics. [24] In the course of a meeting of women textile workers at Ivanovo-Voznesensk, a worker quoted the example of her own daughter, sacked for having made criticisms. At the beginning of September, there was a strike at the Kolomensky factory, then one by 5,000 workers at the Khalturinskaya textile factory. [25] In various places free elections and a rise in wages were demanded.

From July 1928, the oppositionists started to express themselves freely in open meetings. They asked for an end to repression, sometimes obtaining a significant number of votes: at the end of July, in the Ilyich factory in the Zamoskvorechye district of Moscow, 19 against 270 voted to readmit those expelled. [26] In the Krasnaia Oborona factory, the oppositionist Nefel [27] obtained 72 votes – out of 256 voting – for a resolution describing the policy of the Moscow Soviet as “anti-working-class. [28] After speaking, oppositionists were elected to committees, trade-union posts and factory committees at Pervy May, a tea factory at Tilmensi and at the tannery at Bogorodsk. [29]

The Opposition also drew up news bulletins of several pages – three can be found at Harvard – as well as leaflets, circulated during power cuts, flyposted or sometimes distributed with the assistance of sympathisers. Certain leaflets were immediate responses to repressive measures: on 20 October in Kiev, to protest against arrests, at the same time, at a factory in Moscow to protest at the dismissal of G.M. Novikov [30], an well-known oppositionist who had formerly organised the partisans against Kolchak. [31] On the eleventh anniversary of the October revolution, 10,000 copies of a leaflet were distributed by the Left Opposition in Moscow. [32]

There were at least of two actions organised against repression that year. In Tiflis, on 3 May, at the time of the arrest and deportation of the oppositionist leaders in Georgia [33], and in Kiev on 27 October after the arrest of several oppositionists known in their factories. [34]

The reports addressed to Trotsky and Sedov [35] give the impression that the Left Opposition was growing in the country, in particular among workers: moreover, in the correspondence more and more references can be found to militants who took their distance in 1927 and who had become active again. New elements also joined the Opposition.

Under these conditions, repression struck hard and repeatedly. The Georgians were arrested later than their comrades in Russia or Ukraine. A few days after, a letter from one of the most brilliant products of the younger generation of “red professors”, B.S. Lifshitz [36], reported the development of what he called, not without a sense of humour, “the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre”, namely 150 arrests in Moscow alone. [37] A bulletin from Moscow dated 22 November 1928 gave an estimate of the recent arrests. There were said to have been, between late October and early November, more than 300 known arrests: 80 oppositionists were arrested in Leningrad, 51 in Kharkov, 47 in Kiev – among them several old Bolsheviks and Korfman [38], a real working-class leader – 28 in Odessa, 16 in Tiflis and 15 in Saratov. [39] Among the 150 arrests carried out in Moscow we find names familiar to the reader of the Trotsky archives: B. Volotnikov, G.Y. Yakovin, and an “Eltsin” who might be the old Boris Mikhailovich. [40] But they were replaced, for the “centre” continued, as the very fact of the publication of the bulletin showed.

How many oppositionists were arrested, deported or imprisoned? Trotsky and his supporters, on the basis of official figures and private information, arrived at a total of 8,000 for the one year 1928: it seems that the underground sector of the Opposition continued growing with a surge of new recruits, but that all the same it lost both old and new members under the blows of repression. The ratio between oppositionist deportees and those arrested also appears variable, as a number of deportees were arrested.

It was the cadres of the Opposition, between 1,000 and 2,000 militants considered as “diehards” who, shortly after the capitulation of Zinoviev and Kamenev, were deported, that is, required to reside in a distant locality as from January 1928. But this was not all of them. Like the Zinovievites, some escaped deportation by a precipitate capitulation, often predictable, but which produced an effect when they were well-known people. This was the case with Piatakov [41], who for a long time had been known to be demoralised, but whose confession was a blow; it was also the case with Antonov-Ovseenko [42] and N.V. Krestinsky. [43] A quite large group of ex-Zinovievites, coming from the Youth, who had not followed their leaders in December 1927, were included in the first wave of arrests and deportations: they were referred to as the “leaderless”. Their front-rank leaders were however G.I. Safarov [44] and the Yugoslav Voya Vuyovich [45] – a former active militant with the Young Communists in France. The group made a public statement in April 1928 [46], which meant the return of its members from exile though not without difficulty.

At the beginning of 1928 all the other militants of the opposition who were at all well-known were expelled and deported, with only a few exceptions: Victor Serge, Andrés Nin, Aleksandra L’vovna Sokolovskaya [47] and B.M. Eltsin. Christian Rakovsky [48] was in Astrakhan, where letters from Moscow took six days and newspapers three. Serebriakov [49] was in Semipalatinsk, Smilga [50] in Kolpashevo, Preobrazhensky [51] in Uralsk, Radek in Tobolsk, Muralov [52] in Tara, Sosnovsky in Barnaul, I.N. Smirnov [53] in Novo Bajazet, Beloborodov [54] in Ust’-Kulom, Mrachkovsky in Voronezh. Only a few were near a railway line. It was decided to put them in remote places. The small towns and the villages where the authorities put the oppositionists did not often allow them the possibility of benefiting from elementary comforts or the advantages of culture. For the others, the obscure and the rank and file or at least the NCOs, some hundred places of residence can be counted. According to the Harvard papers, a total of 108 “colonies”, by I. Longuet’s estimates, can be counted, that is to say 108 local groups of deportees who identified with the Opposition. Trotsky’s young collaborators also earned deportation: Sermuks [55] and V.B. Eltsin were in Ust-Vym, Poznansky [56] in Kotlas, N.V. Nechayev [57] in Kolpashevo.

To begin with a sort of political and personal correspondence was established to and from Alma-Ata. Trotsky announced on 28 February 1928 that, of all the deportees whom he had contacted by telegram, only Serebriakov had not yet answered him: in fact, he had simply written a letter [58], and it would not be long before he capitulated. Subsequently, the organisation was clearly improving. The colonies in European Russia were organised around Rakovsky, those in the North around Mrachkovsky; those in Siberia and Soviet Asia around Sosnovsky. The intermediate “centres” copied the documents which reached them from Alma-Ata by redistributing those which appeared interesting to them.

The political material which circulated thus naturally included the “letters to friends”, genuine circular letters from Trotsky or leading people like Rakovsky, Sosnovsky and others, and a mass of documents emanating from individuals or groups of oppositionists. It seemed that the same system was applied in the matter of information, a vital operation, in which new people emerged, friends of Sedov, like Y.A. Kievlenko in Kainsk, Boris N. Viaznikovtsev [59] at Tyumen, Vsevolod Patriarkha [60] in Yeniseisk, F.S. Radzevich [61], deportee to Termez, or the young Bulgarian Vassil Sidorov [62], son of a veteran “Narrow Socialist”, who led the colony of Rubtsovsk.

The deportees were allowed to work if they could find jobs. The majority did not manage that. It was only the case with some privileged people, with useful skills, reputation or luck. The Leningrad metal-worker Shtykhgold [63] built brick houses. Viaznikovtsev, an engineering student, taught mathematics. His fellow student Kantorovich [64] was in the kolkhoz administration. Rakovsky, like Trotsky, had contracts with Gosizdat, the state publishing house. Finally the best known, Rakovsky, Preobrazhensky, I.N. Smirnov, Muralov, were employed by the planning organisations. These were in a better material situation. The majority lived with great difficulty, as the allowance of 30 roubles per month, given them by the GPU, was scarcely adequate.

“Literary” activity, as the Russians called it, was important. Many deportees wrote, not to pass the time, but because they finally had the chance to do so. There was for example in circulation a “Critique of the Draft Programme of the Comintern”, much admired by Trotsky, written by Dmitri Lapin [65], of whom we know nothing. We know that Sosnovsky wrote an Agrarian Policy of Centrism, Smilga a book about Conquests of the Proletariat in Year XI of the Revolution, Preobrazhensky a Sociology of the Capitalist World. We know about many works and projects: Dingelstedt [66], who had done a thesis on the land question in India, was now working on the social structures of that country; Radek had started a major biography of Lenin; Smilga was working on the theories of Bukharin and his “school”; Preobrazhensky was doing research on the medieval economy, V.B. Eltsin on the French Revolution; Vilensky-Sibiriakov [67] returned to the study of China and Boris S. Lifshitz was studying the cycles of capitalist economy.

It seems that Rakovsky was one of those who did most work at the beginning of his exile. Christian Georgiyevich was employed in Astrakhan by the regional commission of the plan administration, as an “economics specialist” at 180 roubles. His most famous writing of this period is his letter to Valentinov [68] in early August 1928, which Trotsky circulated to all the “colonies” and which would later be known as the Professional Dangers of Power. [69] There he showed the corruption of that part of the working class which had given birth to the bureaucracy and to the party apparatus, the formation of a privileged layer supported by the possession of power which it usurped while benefiting from the passivity and a certain indifference of the masses. In passing he stressed the decisive role of “the party régime” as one of the main factors in the fight against degeneration.

But Rakovsky did a great deal more general work in Astrakhan, where he also caught malaria. He was working simultaneously on the drafting of a biography of Saint-Simon, an examination of the origins of the utopian socialism, a History of the Civil War in Ukraine, works ordered for official Soviet publications, and his memoirs which, according to what he wrote to Trotsky, consisted of his recollections of the main personalities and congresses of the Second International. These works were finished, then seized by the GPU, and no information about their existence was given in February 1988, when the official rehabilitation of Rakovsky was announced.

This rapid outline cannot fail to impress. These men of different generations did not often find enough time in life to put their ideas on paper. Some of them, on the other hand, lived by their pen. But neither group ceased to be driven by ideas and that is undoubtedly what inspired them with confidence in their own abilities.

Perhaps Maria Mikhailovna Joffe [70] was right when she wrote from Moscow to Alma-Ata: “Those who are not making careers for themselves drink vodka. [...] Only the oppositionists continue to really think.” [71] In any event, while in exile they thought and they wrote and we can see this process of debate through the documents, generally handwritten, which they exchanged.

It was a letter from Nadezhda Ostrovskaia [72] in Voronezh which first told Alma-Ata the news that Preobrazhensky considered that the leadership of the party had just carried out “a turn to the left”. [73] It was the first information about the birth of the tendency of those who were initially called the “conciliators” – Preobrazhensky and Ishchenko [74], joined a little later by Radek.

His first text, in March, was, to tell the truth, rather careful. The “emergency measures” were the response to the offensive by the rich peasants and the reflection in Russia of the intensifying class struggle in Europe. The “left turn” could rapidly come to an end, which would not be very likely, because it would then be necessary to go much further to the right than the right-wing advocates of a new NEP could even dream about. So in his view the most probable outcome would be a “return to a Leninist agrarian policy” based on “the elevation of the poor and medium peasants against the capitalist elements”.

In this second case, it would be necessary, according to him, for “the Left Opposition, collectively, to go ahead of the majority of the party, regardless of the stupidities and baseness from which it suffers”. He proposed the drafting of a text in which the Left Opposition, noting the positive aspects of the new policy, would offer its support to the leadership in carrying it through without requiring “the rehabilitation of the Bolshevik-Leninists or mentioning the repression”. In order to prepare such a statement, the Left Opposition should ask permission from the leadership to hold a conference enabling them to work together. Preobrazhensky suggested that Trotsky and Rakovsky should take responsibility for this request. Preobrazhensky insisted on the nature of the policy in which Stalin was engaged: the “turn to the left”, he insisted, reflected the positions defended by the Left Opposition like a “distorting mirror”. [75]

The same point was made by Ishchenko, who insisted that “the struggle in the countryside” had started with “the appearance of a turn to the left”. The result of the battle would be decided by the position held by the Opposition at the decisive moment. He emphasised:

Such a situation makes it possible for us to take a more concrete course to rejoin the party and not to defer this return for an indefinite time. Keeping the opposition outside the party for a prolonged period would be very dangerous for the dictatorship of the proletariat. [76]

Thus the discussion started immediately. Certain responses were very sharp. F.N. Dingelstedt wrote:

These measures have been caused by the threat of famine and economic crisis. [...] The rise of unemployment, the deceleration of industrialisation continues: where is this new course? [77]

Smilga, on 4 April, was almost as cutting:

The current zigzag cannot be regarded as a consistent left turn. The terror that the leadership is using against the Left Opposition cannot bring about a serious correction of the party’s line. [78]

Sosnovsky had the same hard line, categorically rejecting the very idea of a turn.

But a new tendency became apparent, intermediary between the first two. Rakovsky, for example, fully accepted the analysis made by Preobrazhensky of the two possible alternatives. For him it meant that the Opposition should “be based on the zigzag to the left and on the workers’ activity to turn this zigzag into real left policy”. But that point could not be reached by an alliance with the leadership, but only “by work at the base”. Criticising Preobrazhensky’s practical proposals, Christian Georgiyevich retorted that “rejoining the party today can occur only at the price of capitulation”: the necessary statement must be addressed to the workers and not to the leaders. [79]

This was a rather similar position to that put forward by Valentinov. For him, Moscow was preparing “the last act of Thermidor”, and Preobrazhensky’s practical proposals would lead to capitulation: however the Left Opposition could “support the authors of the emergency measures if they turned to the masses and openly broke with the right of the party”. [80]

On 30 April however, V.D. Kasparova [81] made herself the spokesperson of those deported, still pretty numerous it seemed, who “were having difficulty in analysing the situation” and did not really know what point they had reached. [82]

After this a discussion developed whose positions and documents, in particular by Valentinov and Sosnovsky, gave the same picture for the various regions. Trotsky then decided to formulate a position which, while opposing the steps recommended by Preobrazhensky and Ishchenko, did not burn any bridges. His letter of 9 May showed where he was heading.

For him, the measures against the kulaks were an “inconsistent, contradictory, but all the same undeniable” step towards the policy of the Opposition, therefore the right direction. He maintained:

It should be said clearly and precisely. But, initially, we should not exaggerate the extent of this step – judging from experience, we should be prudent about such turns –, not make unnecessary approaches, and explain succinctly the reasons, the mechanics and the ideology of the turn. [83]

On the question of the origin of the “turn” – he accepted the term – there was an objective need. Who had created it? He answered:

It goes without saying it is ourselves, in as much as we are only a conscious expression of an unconscious process. If we had not been there, the current economic difficulties would have led to a huge success for Ustrialov’s [84] supporters. [85]

Agreeing with the class analysis and the theoretical appreciation of the new policy by Preobrazhensky, he warned against the tendency to think that the kulak question could be dealt with in the countryside alone, whereas it would be resolved by industrialisation, by the correct direction of the International and by the training of cadres. As for the practical approach, he began by saying clearly:

Are we ready to support the current movement? Absolutely. With all our forces and by all means. Do we consider that this movement increases the chances of cleansing the party, without too large clashes? Yes, we think so. Are we ready to cooperate precisely in this way? Entirely and without reserve. [86]

This is also what he proposed to say, in the calmest manner, in the statement which should be sent to the Congress of the Communist International and in which the Opposition must, according to him, demand to be accepted back into the party because the whole situation confirmed that this was more than legitimate. [87] Did Trotsky convince them? It seems unlikely. At the end of May, Preobrazhensky wrote:

We based our tactic in 1927 on the worst alternative, we gambled on pessimism. We must now have a different tactic, we must risk something on the side of optimism. If Thermidor has not been carried out, we must be delighted and move towards a rapprochement with the party. If not we shall be transformed into small sect of ‘true Leninists’… [88]

A few days later, he declared that it was quite wrong to state, as Trotsky had done, that it was the Opposition’s activity which had caused the turn, whereas, obviously, it was the result of the efforts of the “kulaks”. He revealed the basis of his orientation by saying:

The capacity of the majority of the leadership to find a way of getting back to a Leninist policy was shown in reality by its struggle against the kulaks. [89]

V.B. Eltsin, on the other hand, drew up an indictment against Preobrazhensky and the conciliators which showed that he did not share Trotsky’s diplomatic or educational concerns with the latter and those who thought like him. Already, on 16 May, he wrote to Trotsky that “centrism is twice as dangerous when it pretends to be left-wing”. [90] A few days later, in a circular letter, he attacked what he considered to be the clear basis of Preobrazhensky’s position.

For him, it was not a question of a conflict of ideas in the apparatus and behind the scenes, but of class struggle. The causes of the degeneration of the party and state apparatus, which had led to the politics and ideology of the kulak, were obviously social causes. The slide to the right had not been the result of an evolution in ideas, but of a shift by the leadership of the ruling proletarian party towards the rural and urban petty bourgeoisie and of the pressure of international capitalism. Speaking about the years 1926 and 1927, he wrote:

Our fight was an attempt on behalf of the proletarian vanguard to oppose this process; and, in this fight, we ran up against the inertia and the passivity of the working masses, which, in their turn, were the result of factors of an internal and international nature. [91]

The worst error would be to believe that the party could be saved without the initiative and the movement of the working class itself. This is why it was necessary to be opposed to everything – obviously he was referring to the “authorised conference” suggested by Preobrazhensky – which suggested any conciliation with the apparatus, with hostile class forces and manoeuvres at the top. It was necessary to support measures in the fight against the kulaks and at the same time to criticise without compromise and denounce the overall policy of those taking them:

Only a powerful rise of the international labour movement and the increase in activity and in the defensive capacity of the Russian workers will put wind in the sails of the political life of the proletariat and the Russian party. [92]

The definition by V.B. Eltsin of what he regarded as the correct policy towards the “centrists” appeared as a little more “leftist” than that which Trotsky gave:

Our task is to fight the danger from the right and to unmask centrism today so as to have the awakened mass of workers behind us tomorrow. [93]

The divergences appear to widen on another point, that of policy on Germany. In March, the founding congress of the organisation of the “Left Communists” – the members of the United Opposition in Germany, the Leninbund – decided to participate in the elections by presenting their own candidates against those of the German Communist Party. As early as the autumn of 1927 a strong current in favour of this tactic took shape in their ranks, which Trotsky criticised in a letter probably written in January, aimed at what was called “the Fischer-Maslow group”. In face of this initiative, which Trotsky regarded as a move towards a “second party”, Radek proposed to send to Die Rote Fahne a telegram denouncing this candidature and asked Trotsky to co-sign it, which he refused to do. [94] Radek thus sent his telegram alone.

His initiative was very badly received in the ranks of the exiled oppositionists. The deportees of Kainsk wrote a very curt letter to him, reminding him that it was a question, among militants, “of preventing errors before they occurred”, whereas he was happy “to judge them afterwards”. They reproached him with taking a position with insufficient evidence: while being for their part hostile to the fight for a “second party” and a “Fourth International”, they did not think that the candidacies of the Leninbund would necessarily mean this. They brutally asked Radek what he would say if German oppositionists called on Stalin directly to repudiate him. They held that his telegram did nothing but “demoralise” the ranks of the opposition and questioned him on the rumour that he had written to Zinoviev and Kamenev, assuring him that it would be “treason” to do so. [95]

The camp of the “conciliators” thus got one more recruit, and, this time, they would oppose Trotsky on the question of the Opposition’s statement to the Sixth Congress of the Communist International. After his circular letter of 9 May which put forward their positions, a new discussion started among the “colonists”.

Preobrazhensky, in a letter to Trotsky of 2 June, insisted that a clear distinction be made between the general world situation of the working-class movement and the negative results directly due to the errors of the Comintern: “It is better to criticise less but better”, he wrote, paraphrasing Lenin. The “left turn” must be called what it was, a positive step forward, but at the same time it should be observed that the leadership had maintained its position on the question of internal democracy and that it had exactly the same positions as at the time of the kulak offensive. He was still unwilling to speak about either “readmission to the party” or “democracy” and he proposed to finish the statement thus:

We want to make peace with the majority of the party on the basis of the new course. We ask the Congress to reinstate us in the party so that we can loyally carry out our tasks, without factional activity. [96]

The response of Trotsky was a vigorous counter-attack. In his “letter to friends” of 24 June, he attacked the idea of the conference, launched by Preobrazhensky, which he thought ridiculous. He quoted Sosnovsky and Rakovsky who both countered Preobrazhensky with their own approach, namely confronting political questions from the point of view of the party régime:

At this time this is the sole correct and valid criterion. Not because the party régime is the independent source of all the other phenomena and processes [...]. But, insofar as the party is the unique instrument by means of which we can act on the social processes, for us, the criterion of the seriousness and the depth of the movement is above all the refracted image of the turn in the party. [97]

It was at this point that Radek intervened for the second time, in a completely independent way, since, under the pretext that there was no time, he sent a draft to eight oppositionists announcing that, if there could be no discussion, he would send it to the Congress under his name alone. It was a gesture of distrust which would gain him much hostility in the colonies. [98]

As far as the situation in the USSR went, Radek’s draft statement seemed less diplomatic than Preobrazhensky’s. It must be emphasised, he said, that the crisis in the collection of grain had revealed the nature of official policy. However the CC, according to him, “has recognised the reality of the kulak danger” and “demanded that it be fought”, which was important. He proposed to organise the agrarian proletariat, to purge the party and the Soviet apparatus of pro-kulak elements, to change its social composition, to deepen its self-criticism and to reinstate the Opposition in it. On the international level, he wished to change the positions formerly defended in China. For him, the previous theses of the opposition misunderstood the role of the peasantry in countries with “nascent capitalism” like India and China. The Radek draft insisted (in a passage which was finally omitted):

If History demonstrates that certain leaders of the party with whom, as recently as yesterday, we crossed swords, are better than the ideas that they defended, nobody will be happier than we shall be. [99]

When he was informed of Radek’s draft, Trotsky had just finished his own “statement” to the Sixth Congress and his “letter” which would conclude with a sentence of a very different inspiration to that of Radek’s text:

Well-intentioned functionaries see the solution of the greatest historical tasks in the formula: ‘We must change things in a decisive way’. The party must answer: ‘It is not you who must carry out the change, it is you who must be radically changed and in the majority of cases, be removed from your posts and replaced’. [100]

The difference was considerable. An improvised consultation in the colonies revealed some hundred votes for Trotsky’s draft as against three for that of Radek. Bombarded with telegrams and critical letters from the colonies, Radek explained that he had sent his text only because the letter containing Trotsky’s draft had not arrived. He withdrew his own text and signed Trotsky’s.

Thus the Opposition front was temporarily reunited. The course of the July plenum eased matters considerably. For all the observers and in particular almost all the protagonists in the discussion, this plenum constituted a victory for the right and the burial of the “left turn”. Only Ishchenko continued to work for a rapprochement which, in the new context, now seemed to be purely and simply going over to the side of the leadership. The elements who had fought the conciliators triumphed. Dingelstedt wrote:

The Opposition must reject any illusion of a regeneration of the party apparatus by a compromise with the present leadership. [101]

A letter from Victor Borisovich Eltsin showed that there remained traces of this hard fight:

The series of letters, draft statements, theses and new theses, by E[vgeni] A[lekseyevich] [Preobrazhensky] K[arl] B[ernardovich] [Radek] and I[var] T[enisovich] [Smilga], etc. is starting to go beyond the limits. Our patience has narrow historical limits. We have ‘put up with’ the first theses of EA, then the letter of KB (which he did not send to me), and finally we tolerated for too long the deeply opportunist theses of EA, which have nothing to do with a Marxist policy. [102]

It was about the same time that Radek wrote his study entitled Development and Significance of the Slogan of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat [103], in which he tried to show that Trotsky wrongly interpreted as support for his theory of the “permanent revolution” the shift by Lenin in 1917 from the slogan of the “democratic dictatorship of the workers and peasants” to that of the “dictatorship of the proletariat”. [104] It was this long study that Trotsky would start to answer in the text finally published under the title Permanent Revolution. But, for the moment, he was above all preoccupied with strengthening the unity of the Opposition, seriously shaken by these disputes.

Trotsky was in fact very keen to calm down the conflict, the more so as he was certain that the July plenum, with a shift to the right, would be followed by a whole series of other zigzags and general delirium. He was convinced of the need to keep Preobrazhensky and, perhaps still more, Radek, in the ranks of the Opposition. He did not even despair of winning back Ishchenko, even when the latter went to Moscow, apparently in the hope of a deal with Yaroslavsky. [105] In a letter addressed to Smilga, Trotsky spoke about the “misunderstandings” which had separated them and about the responsibility of the post office for the multiplicity of “statements” to the Sixth Congress. [106]

In a letter to V.D. Kasparova, he acknowledged that he had ignored sharp reproaches from the young people for his excessively conciliatory attitude towards Preobrazhensky, and willingly confessed that perhaps he had been too diplomatic. He also recognised that Radek, finally, deserved the good thrashings that he was getting from the same young people, assuring her however that he had done all that he could to pour oil on the troubled waters. [107]

The discussion had been very enlightening for him; it had taught him personally a great deal and it had contributed in a significant fashion to the creation of a younger generation of oppositionists. He saw a conclusive proof of this in the growth of the Opposition within the working class and the youth, and also the rallying to the Opposition statement at the Comintern Congress of working-class elements who had hitherto supported the Democratic Centralists. His correspondence with S.A. Ashkenazy [108] and especially the Ukrainian Rafail [109] (R.B. Farbman) [110], showed the value which he attached to gaining worker cadres.

Actually, his way of considering matters from the perspective of history gave him an obvious superiority to those he was debating with: his eyes were fixed on a world view and on decades. Moreover, how could he let himself be impressed by men who, in the best of the cases, would only be able to follow in the footsteps of Zinoviev and Kamenev, who were very superior to them? The problems lay elsewhere: it was obviously his support that Bukharin had asked for in July 1928 in Kamenev’s apartment, when in panic he poured out his soul to him.

It was on 11 July 1928 that this meeting took place, organised by Sokolnikov [111], who was trying to prevent Kamenev and Zinoviev from supporting Stalin by getting them to form a “bloc” with Bukharin. Bukharin appeared very disturbed, agitated and tormented: things had gone a long way, and he thought that within two months, either Stalin’s group or Bukharin’s would look for an alliance with the Zinovievites and the Trotskyists. He spoke about the peasant riots, about the members of the Central Committee who supported the right – including Yagoda [112] – and about those who had betrayed them – like Voroshilov [113] and Kalinin. [114] His reflections on Stalin’s personality were those of a man who was hard pressed: he was a “Genghis Khan” who “would cut their throats”, who was only interested in power and who was much further away from the other factions than they were from each other. It clearly appeared, from the account of this meeting, that Bukharin also wanted to ally with Trotsky against Stalin. Trotsky would answer in an indirect way. [115]

Indeed, he seized the opportunity of a letter from a “rightist” in the party, his former ally Y.M. Shatunovsky [116], to tackle the problem of the possibility of an alliance with the rightists. At the end of this long screed, he listed the conditions for organising a real congress of the party, up to and including a secret ballot for the nomination of delegates, which led him to recall, as we pointed out previously, that “the centrists” were “the main support and protection of opportunism in the party.” [117]

He returned to the question with as much clarity as firmness, after the general outcry caused by his proposal, unexpected by many. At almost the same time a new sign of the worsening crisis in the party appeared. On 22 September, following a chance meeting in Theatre Square in Moscow, Kamenev invited to his home two Trotskyist leaders in the capital. A report arrived a few weeks later at Alma-Ata. The correspondent, who signed this message “Anton”, gave an account of what Kamenev had said:

Everything will be re-examined at the October plenum. The result will be either a step forward directly towards Thermidor or a step forward hidden from the eyes of the masses. He considers that the analysis by LD of the July plenum was completely correct. [...] He says that LD should draw up a document where he would say ‘Call on us! We will work together!’ But he will not do it and will remain at Alma-Ata unless an express train is sent to get him. But when they send the train, the situation in the country will be such that Kerensky will be at the door. [118]

In a letter of 21 October devoted to general problems, Trotsky merely noted these advances with a caustic irony and concluded:

That he is singing, without fear of Yaroslavsky, shows that the grip of the apparatus is weakening and that the chances for the Opposition are growing. We will give him the credit. But our only conclusion must be: we must hammer the capitulators two, three, ten times harder. [119]

The day before, he had sent Radek a very curt letter, since the latter had apparently not sent him the text on the dictatorship which he had circulated.

* * * * *

The last months of 1928 were no longer a time of intense discussion, but months of elaboration and reflection after the storm. Trotsky, already very cut off by the “blockade”, reconsidered the need, shown by the discussions, for deepening the analysis, not only of the situation in the party and the apparatus, but even the prospects for the “march to Thermidor” that the Opposition intended to resist. On the consequences of the July plenum, after the elimination of Uglanov [120] from the leadership in Moscow, he wrote:

After having yielded politically and secured a majority, Stalin is attacking on the terrain of organisation. [121]

For him the fate of the battle between centrists and rightists was settled in advance: the leaders of the latter would recoil before a confrontation. But the question remained of knowing how the “threat from the right” might actually be manifested in the country. Trotsky suggested an alternative which he called “Bonapartism” – a superior concentration of power raising itself above the masses. For the first time, he perceived an alternative to the victory of the right – Thermidor pure and simple – namely, a temporary victory of the centrists, which would result from “the union of the centrist apparatus with the governmental repressive machine”. He came to the conclusion that “centrism after all represents only one variety of the tendency […] seeking reconciliation with bourgeois society which is striving to be reborn”. [122]

In the fight at the top which was about to begin, he denounced the illusion of the conciliatory wing of the Opposition: the centrists would undoubtedly seek support from the defectors from the Opposition, and never from the Opposition itself. The latter must go boldly ahead of the masses and above all help them everywhere to smash down the defences put up against them by the bureaucrats:

The axis of our domestic policy consists in really maintaining power in the hands of the proletariat or, more accurately, restoring to it that power usurped by the apparatus and in subsequently strengthening the dictatorship of the proletariat on the basis of systematic improvement of the conditions of existence of the working class. [123]

Taking one more step towards the abandonment, not yet definitive, of the concept of Thermidor used until now, he considered the question of the nature of what he still called “centrism”. He pointed to its social base in the development of the Soviet bureaucracy which was becoming increasingly independent of the working class and dependent on the bourgeoisie. He reaffirmed the line of the essential independence of the Opposition:

The Bolshevik-Leninists have only one way to go, to mobilise the elements who live and are capable of living for their party, to unite the proletarian core of the party, to mobilise the entire working class. [...] The current centrist campaign against the right must illustrate to all proletarian revolutionaries the need and the duty to multiply their efforts tenfold to follow an independent line, forged by the whole history of Bolshevism, and which has been proved correct through all the colossal trials of the events of these last years. [124]

* * * * *

Thus the Alma-Ata operation seemed to have been a bitter setback for Stalin. Trotsky had been neither isolated nor muzzled. Not only had he succeeded in preserving, in spite of distance, the unity of the Opposition, but he was able to carry out a political offensive, to galvanise the opponents of Stalin, and to appear more and more as the alternative solution. One of the proofs of the failure of the Stalinist enterprise was without any doubt the introduction of what the deportees would call the “postal blockade”: their correspondence was sent to them less and less – except the rare letters from capitulators. “The snow settled on our isolation”, wrote Natalia Ivanovna. [125]

On 16 December, a special representative of the GPU, Volynsky, arrived at the house in Alma-Ata. This was the man who had succeeded in finding D, and arresting him, and in preventing any communication between Trotsky and the “centre in Moscow”. He brought a message which constituted a real ultimatum, cited from memory by Trotsky:

The work of your political sympathizers throughout the country has lately assumed a definitely counter revolutionary character; the conditions in which you are placed at Alma-Ata give you full opportunity to direct this work; in view of this, the collegium of the GPU has decided to demand from you a categorical promise to discontinue your activity; failing this, the collegium will be obliged to alter the conditions of your existence to the extent of completely isolating you from political life. In this connection, the question of changing your place of residence will arise. [126]

Convinced that the ultimatum from the GPU meant that he would be arrested and imprisoned for an indefinite period, Trotsky refused to give a written answer. But on 16 December 1928, he addressed to the Central Committee of the Party and the Executive of the International a letter which was in fact intended for the world and posterity:

The demand that I abstain from political activity is a demand that I renounce the struggle for the interests of the international proletariat, a struggle which I have been waging continually for thirty-two years, throughout all of my conscious life. The attempt to represent this activity as ‘counter-revolutionary’ comes from those whom I charge, before the international proletariat, with violating the fundamental principles of the teachings of Marx and Lenin, with infringing on the historical interests of the world revolution, with renouncing the traditions and precepts of October, and with unconsciously, but all the more menacingly, preparing the Thermidor. [127]

He affirmed that he would not give up “the struggle against a strangling party régime”, “the blindness of the present direction of the Communist Party”, and the “economic policy of opportunism”. Evoking the repression which had fallen on the Opposition since 1923, he wrote:

For six years, we have been living in the USSR under the conditions of a growing reaction against October, and, consequently, of a clearing of the way for the Thermidor. The most obvious and complete expression of this reaction within the party is the savage persecution and routing of the Left wing in the party organization. [128]

He contrasted “the incurable weakness of the reaction headed by the apparatus”, of which he said that “they know not what they do”, since they were executing “the orders” of the enemy classes, to the “historical strength of the Opposition” which “sees the dynamics of the class forces clearly, foresees the coming day and consciously prepares for it.” [129]

He responded to the sentence about the conditions of his existence and the threat of isolation from political life by recalling that he was exiled four thousand kilometres from Moscow, two hundred and fifty from the nearest railway, in a locality where malaria, plague and leprosy were prevalent, and where the newspapers arrived ten days late at the earliest and where letters took months. He pointed to the arrest of Sermuks and Poznansky, guilty of wanting to share his exile, and to the delay to letters bringing him news of his daughters’ illness. Recalling the judgment of Lenin on the rudeness and disloyalty of Stalin, he showed the growing harshness of the methods employed against the opposition, the fatal hunger strike of Butov [130], the “violence, beatings, torture – both physical and moral – … inflicted on the best Bolshevik workers for their adherence to the precepts of October.”

Recalling the ceaseless efforts, since 1923, to reduce him to silence, in one way or another, he recalled his statement to the Sixth Congress of the Communist International: the requirement to give up political activity could only come from “a completely depraved officialdom”. His conclusion was clear:

To everyone, his due. You wish to continue carrying out policies inspired by class forces hostile to the proletariat. We know our duty and we will do it to the end. [131]

One month then passed in the most total isolation and complete postal blockade. The newspapers which the exiles received gave a prominent place to the polemic against “the right”. Bukharin still expressed himself from time to time. His Notes of an Economist, published in Pravda of 30 September, constituted an obvious attack against Stalin. In a speech of 28 November, he made an attack, in terms which recalled those of Trotsky, against “the party functionaries who are turning themselves into bureaucrats”, and against the provincial chiefs who had become “bureaucratic idols”, having nothing but contempt for those for whom they were responsible.

The decision to exile Trotsky was finally taken at the Political Bureau in mid-January. Bukharin opposed it. According to an official minute of a subsequent Political Bureau, Stalin was reported as having argued in the following way:

Trotsky must be exiled abroad 1) because, as long as he remains in the country, he is able to direct the Opposition ideologically and its numerical strength keeps on growing; 2) so that he can be discredited in the eyes of the masses as an accomplice of the bourgeoisie as soon as he arrives in a bourgeois country; 3) in order to discredit him in the eyes of the world proletariat: social democracy, without any doubt, will use his exile against the USSR and will fly to the assistance of Trotsky, ‘the victim of Bolshevik terror’; 4) if Trotsky attacks the leadership by making revelations, we will be able to present him as a traitor. All these are arguments in support of the need to exile him. [132]

Volynsky remained on the spot in Alma-Ata while awaiting instructions after his visit of 16 December. On 20 January, he again went to the house of the exiles, with an extract from the official minutes of the collegium of the GPU accusing Trotsky of “counter-revolutionary activity expressing itself in the organization of an illegal anti-Soviet party, whose activity has lately been directed toward provoking anti-Soviet actions and preparing for an armed struggle against the Soviet power”, and consequently deciding to expel him from the Soviet Union. The day of 21 January was devoted to packing the luggage: Trotsky and Ljova [133] would not go, as they had envisaged, to hunt the predatory tigers from Balkash, which had come up the Ili River and were approaching Alma-Ata. On 22 January, early in the morning, the interminable journey began. [134]

It would last twenty-two days. A bus took the travellers, their escort and their luggage from Alma-Ata. But the tractor sent to meet them could not get through the pass of Kurday. They had to continue on light sledges as far as Pishpek where they could take the train. It was in the vicinity of Aktyubinsk that Trotsky learned, from one of the senior GPU officials who was accompanying him, that he was to be expelled to Turkey – which he again refused. In Ryazhsk, Sergei [135] and Lyova’s wife, Ana, got onto the train for the last part of the journey. But they were stopped: for eleven days and eleven nights, the train was halted, probably in the area of Kursk, in terrible cold, doubtless waiting for instructions. Did Trotsky read Bukharin’s article published in Pravda of 24 January, 1928 on Lenin’s “political testament”, a political testament that Bukharin, without saying so, did not contrast to Trotsky’s ideas? He made no comment about that. On the other hand, he noted that it was in this period that he learned of the arrest of many oppositionists regarded as “the centre”, the Georgians Kavtaradze [136] and Budu Mdivani [137], the literary critic A.K. Voronsky [138], the former Kronstadt sailor V.S. Pankratov [139], the soldiers Dreitser [140], Gayevsky [141], Enukidze: in total 350 arrests in the Moscow area, 350 in several large cities, Leningrad, Kharkov, Odessa, Dniepropetrovsk, not to mention the arrests of deportees. [142] Now the largest number of “Bolshevik-Leninists” were to be found in prison and we have a description of the sordid conditions under which a hundred of them were imprisoned in Tobolsk, while Verkhne-Uralsk, Suzdal, Cheliabinsk were starting to fill up.

Undoubtedly at the time Trotsky also did not know that, on 30 January, the Bolshevik-Leninists of Moscow had published a report of the conversations in July of the previous year between Bukharin and Kamenev which would enable Stalin to make a new and furious attack against Bukharin [143]; the publication was perhaps a provocation.

The train arrived at Odessa on 10 February 1929, and Trotsky could look from afar at the city where he had gone to secondary school, where he had first armed himself as a militant in his adolescence, and where he had spent quite a few months in prison. After further delays due to the fact that the port was blocked by ice, Trotsky, Natalia Ivanovna and Lyova were finally embarked on the steamer Ilyich from which they would disembark in Constantinople on 12 February. On his arrival, Trotsky gave a written statement to the Turkish authorities explaining that he was entering their country against his will.

He would never return to the USSR.


1. The first systematic study done on the correspondence of Trotsky to Sedov at Alma-Ata was that by Isabelle Longuet in her maîtrise thesis, The Crisis of the Left Opposition 1928–29, Department of Slavonic Studies, Paris VIII. But in the context of the party and government, the well documented book of Michal Reiman, Die Geburt des Stalinismus [The Birth of Stalinism], Frankfurt am Main 1979, should be consulted.

2. [RH] L.S. Sosnovsky (1886–1937): Bolshevik from 1904, journalist on Pravda; expelled 1927, capitulated 1934, arrested 1936.

3. [RH] Mrachkovsky to Trotsky, 14 April 1928, Trotsky Archive at Harvard [hereafter AH], T 1310. – S.V. Mrachkovsky (1888–1936): born in jail, party member from 1905; member of Left Opposition, then of Smirnov group in 1932; sentenced to death in August 1936 trial.

4. [RH] Kievlenko to Sedov, 14 March 1928, AH, T 1211. – Y.A. Kievlenko: oppositionist; accused of plotting, then deported.

5. [RH] E.A. Pridvorov, known as Demyan Bedny (1883–1945): Russian poet, party member from 1912, after 1925 a sort of official poet.

6. [RH] Arkady Heller: student of the military academy; expelled 1927 and deported.

7. [RH] Bulatov: soldier, member of the Left Opposition.

8. [RH] Lado Enukidze (?–1938: nephew of Avel Enukidze; member of Left Opposition and member of military academy, from which expelled in 1928 before being deported; shot at Vorkuta in 1938.

9. [RH] Avel Enukidze (1877–1937): railway worker, party member from 1899, organised clandestine printshop under Tsarism; secretary of the Executive Committee of the Soviets 1918–35; expelled 1935, sentenced to death 1937.

10. Trotskyists in Moscow to Trotsky, AH, T 1175.

11. The “isolator” was a prison formed of isolated cells where in theory the prisoner was alone. But the great number of prisoners made isolation impossible and there were several prisoners in each of the overcrowded cells of these prisons which were “isolators” in name only.

12. Hoover Archives, Nikolaievsky Collection.

13. [RH] B.M. Eltsin (1879–1937): party member from 1899; member of nucleus of opposition from 1923; imprisoned at Suzdal and deported to Orenburg.

14. [RH] V.B. Eltsin: party member from 1917, divisional commissar in Red Army, then student at Institute of Red Professors and secretary to Trotsky; deported 1928, no trace of what happened to him after 1936.

15. [RH] M.J. Blumenfeld: leader of Young Communists; member of Moscow Centre in 1928, capitulated 1929, but almost immediately sentenced to ten years jail in connection with Blumkin affair.

16. [RH] Sokrat Gevorkian (1900–1938): Bolshevik in 1917; lecturer in economic theory; member of opposition from 1923; member of Vorkuta strike committee, shot.

17. [RH] K.M. Pevsner: Red Army officer, seriously wounded; joined party 1920, expelled 1927, deported and disappeared.

18. [RH] G.I. Yakovin (1896–1938): Bolshevik, fought in civil war, studied history at Institute of Red Professors, leader of Opposition in Leningrad, then Moscow; in 1938 member of strike committee in Vorkuta and first to be shot.

19. Victor Serge, Memoirs of a Revolutionary, Oxford 1967, pp. 207–8.

20. Rosa Léviné-Meyer, Yakovin and Pankratova, in Inside German Communism, London 1977, pp. 209–213.

21. [RH] V. Yanuchevsky: Moscow Communist, arrested 1930, disappeared in GPU prison.

22. [RH] B. Volotnikov: one of Trotsky’s best informed correspondents in 1928; arrested same year.

23. Letter from Moscow, September 1928, AH, T 2439.

24. Letter from Moscow, 13 September 1928, AH, T 2560.

25. Letter from Moscow, 7 September 1928, AH, T 2502.

26. Letter from Moscow, end of July 1928, AH, T 2001.

27. Nefel: oppositionist worker.

28. Letter from Moscow, 1 November 1928, AH, T 2854.

29. Letter from Moscow, September 1928, AH, T 2533.

30. [RH] G.M. Novikov: Moscow worker, Bolshevik in 1917; organised partisan struggle against Kolchak; returned to factory at end of civil war; joined Left Opposition.

31. [RH] Letter from Moscow, 13 September, AH, T 2560. – A.V. Kolchak (1874–1920): Vice-Admiral who tried to unite White armies; defeated in Siberia, captured and shot.

32. Letter from Moscow, mid-November, AH, T 2875.

33. Tsintsadze to Trotsky, 17 May 1928, AH, T 1476.

34. Letter from Kiev, November 1928, AH, T 2849.

35. [RH] Leon Sedov (1906–1937): elder son of Trotsky and Natalia Sedova; active in Left Opposition in USSR; exiled with father in 1929; in Berlin 1931, Paris 1933; probably murdered.

36. Boris Lifshitz (1896–1949): Bolshevik in 1917, political commissar in civil war; Left Opposition from 1923, capitulated in 1930; arrested 1932 with Smirnov group, but subsequently released; war correspondent 1941–45.

37. Lifshitz to Trotsky, 28 May 1928, AH, T 1552.

38. [RH] Korfman: Bolshevik from 1903; worker at Kiev and member of Left Opposition.

39. Letter from Moscow, 22 November 1928, AH, T 2898.

40. Pravda, 29 February 1928. Piatakov, “Statement”.

41. [RH] G.L. Piatakov (1890–1937): anarchist, then party member from 1910; Left Communist in 1918, head of Ukraine government; member of Left Opposition, capitulated 1928; sentenced to death 1937 after public “confessions”.

42. [RH] A. Antonov-Ovseenko (1884–1938): career officer, Menshevik, knew Trotsky in emigration; member of Left Opposition, capitulated 1928; worked for Stalin notably in Spain; shot.

43. [RH] Antonov-Ovseenko, Statement, Pravda, 4 April 1928. – N.N. Krestinsky (1883–1938): lawyer, active militant from 1903; Vice-Commissar for foreign affairs, then ambassador to Berlin; at least close to opposition; executed after third Moscow trial.

44. [RH] G.I. Safarov (1891–1942): responsible for “Eastern” questions in the Comintern; with the Bloc of Oppositions in 1932, but denounced it 1935.

45. [RH] Voya Vuyovic (1895–?): student in France, active in Communist Youth; secretary-general of International Communist Youth 1924–26; member of Left Opposition, deported and capitulated; arrested again in 1935 and disappeared during purges.

46. Pravda, 31 May 1928.

47. [RH] A.L. Bronstein Sokolovskaya (1872–193?): recruited Trotsky to Marxism, married him in prison; mother of his two daughters; was raising her grandchildren when arrested in 1935.

48. [RH] C.G. Rakovsky (1873–1941): revolutionary involved in socialist movement in several European countries; member of Central Committee of Russian party, then leader of Left Opposition; died in prison.

49. [RH] L.P. Serebriakov (1890–1937): metal-worker, Bolshevik from 1905; secretary of Central Committee in 1919–20; expelled as member of opposition, and sentenced at second Moscow trial.

50. [RH] I.T. Smilga (1892–1938): active in 1905; party member from 1908 after execution of father; president of Baltic Council in 1917 and assisted Lenin in preparing insurrection; in United Opposition, then probably in Smirnov group; executed in jail without trial.

51. [RH] E.A. Preobrazhensky (1886–1937): party member from 1903; party secretary 1920–21; supported Trotsky in trade-union debate, participated in economic debate with Bukharin; expelled 1927, deported 1928, capitulated 1929; leading member of Smirnov group, capitulated again, executed without trial.

52. [RH] N.I. Muralov (1877–1937): party member from 1903; led Moscow insurrections in 1905 and 1917; one of main leaders of Red Army; Left Opposition from 1923; deported, did not capitulate, but broken in prison, “confessed” at second Moscow trial and shot.

53. [RH] I.N. Smirnov (1881–1936): factory worker, party member from 1899, frequently arrested; nicknamed “the conscience of the party”; member of Left Opposition, capitulated 1928; then formed own group, met Sedov in Berlin in 1931 and formed Bloc of Oppositions in 1932; arrested 1933, sentenced to death and executed.

54. [RH] A.G. Beloborodov (1891–1938): electrician, Bolshevik from 1907; People’s Commissar after revolution; expelled 1927, capitulated 1928, but shot 1938.

55. [RH] N.M. Sermuks: typist secretary and commanding officer of Trotsky’s train; arrested at Alma-Ata in 1928.

56. [RH] I.M. Poznansky (1898?–1938): mathematics student; Trotsky’s secretary 1917–27; organiser of red cavalry; shot at Vorkuta in 1938.

57. N.V. Nechayev: stenographer in Trotsky’s train and member of his secretariat; deported as oppositionist in 1928.

58. Trotsky, circular letter, 28 February 1928. AH, T 1161. In fact, Serebriakov had written, but only on 25 February.

59. [RH] Boris N. Viaznikovtsev: mathematics student; deported 1928, capitulated 1929.

60. [RH] Vsevolod Patriarkha: Moscow oppositionist; provided information to exiled Trotsky, including a report on agitation in factories.

61. [RH] F.S. Radzevich: worker-student in Moscow; joined Communist party 1923, expelled 1927, deported 1928, capitulated 1930.

62. [RH] Vassil Sidorov: Bulgarian Communist, took refuge in USSR 1925; arrested 1929, deported and disappeared.

63. [RH] Shtykhgold: Leningrad Communist, close to Zinoviev.

64. [RH] Kantorovich: student, associate of Sedov, member of Opposition.

65. [RH] Dmitri Lapin: Latvian Communist in Left Opposition: while deported wrote critique of draft programme.

66. [RH] F.N. Dingelstedt (1890–1938): agitator at Kronstadt in 1917, student at Institute of Red Professors, director of Leningrad Forest Institute; one of most brilliant of younger generation of Left Opposition; organised strikes and hunger strikes at Vorkuta, where he was shot in 1938.

67. [RH] Vilensky-Sibiriakov (1888–1937): Menshevik worker, went over to Bolsheviks 1917; secretary of society of former convicts; member of Left Opposition, deported 1928, capitulated 1929.

68. [RH] G.N. Valentinov: old Bolshevik, on editorial staff of Trud.

69. [RH] See http://www.marxists.org.uk/archive/rakovsky/1928/08/prodanger.htm.

70. [RH] M.M. Joffe (born 1900): wife of A.A. Joffe; arrested for organising assistance for the deportees; released after 1956 and emigrated to Israel.

71. Undated letter from M. Joffe, AH, T 1090.

72. [RH] Nadezhda Ostrovskaia: Bolshevik in 1905, Chekist, deported 1928.

73. Ostrovskaia to Trotsky, 20 February 1928, AH, T 1139.

74. [RH] A.G. Ishchenko: Bolshevik from 1917, trade-union official, member of Left Opposition, capitulated 1929.

75. Preobrazhensky, The Left Turn, AH, T 1262.

76. Ishchenko to Trotsky, April 1928, AH, T 1254.

77. Dingelstedt to Trotsky, 8 July 1928, AH, T 1891.

78. Smilga to Trotsky, 4 April 1928, AH, T 1273.

79. Valentinov to Trotsky, 14 April 1928, AH, T 1309.

80. Valentinov to Trotsky, 19 April 1928, AH, T 1326.

81. [RH] V.D. Kasparova (1875–1937): Bolshevik in 1904, propaganda secretary of bureau of political commissars, associate of Trotsky; worked in Comintern on woman question in the East; deported 1928, said to have capitulated in 1935.

82. Kasparova to Trotsky, 30 April 1928, AH, T 1377.

83. Trotsky, circular letter, 9 May 1928, AH, T 3112.

84. [RH] N.W. Ustrialov (1890–1937): lawyer and journalist, advocate of the NEP as a means of peacefully restoring socialism; returned to USSR 1935; arrested and sentenced 1937.

85. Trotsky, circular letter, 9 May 1928, AH, T 3112.

86. Ibid.

87. Ibid.

88. Preobrazhensky to Trotsky, end of May 1928, AH, T 1497.

89. Preobrazhensky, June 1928, AH, T 1593.

90. V.B. Eltsin, 16 May 1928, AH, T 1464.

91. V.B. Eltsin, beginning of June 1928, AH, T 1587.

92. Ibid.

93. V.B. Eltsin, beginning of June 1928, T 1587.

94. Radek to Trotsky, 18 April 1928, AH, T 1325.

95. Letter from Kainsk, May 1928, AH, T 1404.

96. Preobrazhensky to Trotsky, 2 June 1928, AH, T 1606.

97. Trotsky, circular letter, 24 June 1928, AH, T 3114.

98. Circular Letter by Radek, 24 June 1928, AH, T 1780 a.

99. Draft statement by Radek, 24 June 1928, Ibid, T 1780 b.

100. Letter to Sixth Congress of the Comintern.

101. Dingelstedt to Trotsky, 8 July 1928, AH, T 1891.

102. V.B. Eltsin to Trotsky, 20 August 1928, AH, T 2310.

103. Radek, AH, T 2324.

104. I. Longuet, op. cit., p. 93.

105. [RH] M.I. Gubelman known as Emelian Yaroslavsky (1878–1943): party member from 1898; Left Communist in 1918; later responsible for ideology and repression in struggle against Left Opposition.

106. Trotsky to Smilga, 4 September 1928, AH, T 2480.

107. Trotsky to Kasparova, 30 August 1928, AH, T 2419.

108. [RH] Trotsky to Ashkenazy, 30 August 1928, AH, T 2420. [Revecca Ashkenazy: member of Bolshevik party and oppositionist; wife of K.I. Grünstein.]

109. [RH] R.B. Farbman, known as Rafail: tailor, joined party 1910 or 1912; member of Central Committee of Ukrainian party in 1919; Democratic Centralist, expelled and deported in 1928; made false capitulation in 1930, resumed political activity; arrested 1934 and disappeared.

110. Trotsky to Rafail, 10 November 1928, AH, T 2874.

111. [RH] G.I. Brilliant, known as Sokolnikov (1888–1939): doctor of economics, Bolshevik from 1905; People’s Commissar for finance, then ambassador to London 1929–32; jailed for ten years in 1937.

112. [RH] H.G. Yagoda (1891–1938): party member from 1907, statistician; deputy head of Cheka in 1924; People’s Commissar for the interior 1934, dismissed 1937; sentenced and executed at time of third Moscow trial.

113. [RH] K.I. Voroshilov (1881–1969): party member from 1903; organised guerrilla war in Ukraine; incapable of waging modern war, but commanded Leningrad front in 1941.

114. [RH] M.I. Kalinin (1875–1946): president of Executive Committee of the Soviets; for a long time oscillated between Stalin and the “rightists”.

115. Notes by Kamenev on his meeting with Bukharin, 11 July 1928, A.H., T 1897.

116. [RH] Yakov Shatunovsky (1876–1932): engineer and Left Social Revolutionary; Trotsky brought him into Bolshevik party in 1917; on Trotsky’s general staff, in charge of train and locomotives; sympathised with “rightists” in late 1920s.

117. Trotsky to Shatunovsky, 12 September 1928, AH, T 3132.

118. Anton to Trotsky, 22 September 1928, AH, T 2630.

119. Trotsky, circular letter, 21 October 1928, AH, T 3146.

120. [RH] N.A. Uglanov (1886–1940): Bolshevik from 1907; in Petrograd during insurrection, then party apparatchik; connected with rightists; expelled 1932 for not denouncing Ryutin; arrested 1936, executed in prison.

121. Ibid.

122. Ibid.

123. Ibid.

124. Ibid.

125. [RH] Natalia Ivanovna Sedova (1882–1962): Trotsky’s companion and mother of his two sons.

126. L. Trotsky, My Life (1930), chapter XLIV.

127. Ibid.

128. Ibid.

129. Ibid.

130. [RH] G.V. Butov (?–1928): engineer, Trotsky’s private secretary during the civil war; arrested in 1928, he died following a hunger strike.

131. Ibid.

132. Letter from Moscow, 22 March 1929, Biulleten Oppositsii, no. 1, p. 3.

133. [RH] Leon Sedov (see note 35 above).

134. My Life, chapter XLIV.

135. [RH] Sergei L. Sedov (1908–1938): younger son of Trotsky and Natalia Sedova.

136. [RH] S.I. Kavtaradze (1885–1971): old Bolshevik, head of Georgian government 1922–23; member of Left Opposition, expelled 1927, imprisoned 1929; rehabilitated in 1940, became Vice-Commissar for foreign affairs, then ambassador to Romania.

137. [RH] Politcarp (known as Budu) Mdivani (1877–1937): party member from 1903; member of Georgian presidium in 1922; opposed Stalin on question of the “Federation”; expelled 1928, readmitted 1930; sentenced to death and shot.

138. [RH] A.K. Voronsky (1884–1943): party member from 1904, literary critic, editor of Krasnaia Nov 1921–27; expelled 1927, imprisoned 1929, released but rearrested, died in jail.

139. [RH] V.S. Pankratov: Kronstadt sailor, then Chekist, deported 1928.

140. [RH] E.A. Dreitser (1894–1936): young officer in Red Army; member of party then of Left Opposition; deported 1928, capitulated 1929; defendant at first Moscow trial.

141. [RH] P.I. Gayevsky: soldier in Red Army, railway worker, Menshevik who became Bolshevik; expelled 1926.

142. Pravda, 23 February 1929.

143. Stalin The Bukharin Group and the Right Deviation, 9/10 February 1929, Sočinenija (Moscow 1946–51), XI, p. 319.

Last updated on 1.11.2011