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Stalin’s Frame-up Purges Whitewashed

Liberals Aid Stalin’s Imperialist Allies
Spread GPU Lies About the Moscow Trials

(22 November 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 47, 22 November 1941, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Among the obligations undertaken by the bourgeois democrats in line with the diplomatic needs of their new-found friendship with Stalin, is a “re-evaluation” of the frameup Moscow Trials. Belated “justifications” are being advanced for the monstrous purges, which up to now, no one but GPU hirelings, professional apologies for Stalinism, and the official Stalinist press dared appraise as anything but the frameups they were.

Far from serving their purpose of discrediting the Trotskyists, the trials boomeranged on Stalin. During the period of the Stalin- Hitler pact, the Stalinist press maintained strict silence about the trials, and the Trotskyists, charged in the trials with being agents of Hitler and the Mikado, were transformed overnight by the Stalinist press into agents of Anglo-French imperialism.

Now, such representatives of the American bourgeoisie as Harry Hopkins and former ambassador to the Soviet Union, Joseph E. Davies, are assisting the GPU in its task of whitewashing the Kremlin. Leading publications, such as Time and Life magazines, and the New York newspaper PM, through articles by its editor, Ralph Ingersoll, also have given support recently to the GPU versions of the trials.

Davies and the Trials

The crudest expression of this campaign so far is contained in an article by Davies in the November issue of American magazine. Davies, after admitting that he had attended some of the sessions of the Moscow trials and had considered them “fantastic” at the time, now claims to have gained “new light” on them. Just what “new” evidence he has uncovered he does not state. He merely gives full credence to the trials and the “confessions,” seeking to implicate Leon Trotsky and his co-thinkers as agents of German and Japanese imperialism.

Davies indicates the purposes of his article in his conclusion, stating: “There are no saboteurs, secret agents or Fifth Columnists to co-operate with the invaders, because the Russians were sufficiently far-sighted to eliminate them before it was too late. That is a fact which other liberty-loving nations might well ponder.”

Unquestionably this bourgeois support is extremely welcome to Stalin. The sustained defeats and losses of the Red Army have raised new doubts about the Kremlin’s policies among the Soviet masses and the workers everywhere. It has become increasingly difficult for Stalin to conceal the direct connection between the present catastrophic Soviet defeats and the 1937–38 purge of the Red Army command, in which no less than 40,000 officers and technicians were executed or imprisoned.

The American imperialists are serving their own ends by aiding Stalin in his criminal task of discrediting and destroying the proletarian revolutionary opposition to his betrayal of the international class struggle and his support of the “democratic” imperialists in the war.

Davies is pointing to Stalin’s Moscow Trial frameup method, “which other liberty-loving nations might ponder,” as a pattern to be followed against the working class opponents of the war in this country.

Findings of the Dewey Commission

The conclusive and irrefutable evidence uncovered and made public by the Commission headed by Prof. John Dewey, which exhaustively investigated the Moscow frameups, has exposed the complete falsity of the “confessions” in the Moscow trials. The Dewey Commission produced documentary evidence which proved the falsity of every alleged material fact permitted to slip into the “confessions.” Since the publication of the Commission’s findings in 1938, literally no individual or group has dared to offer a specific refutation of them.

So unanswerable are these findings that the American magazine, after printing Davies’ article, refuses to permit mention of them in its columns. The Nation, Nov. 15, reports:

“The American magazine has rejected an article by John Dewey answering one by Joseph E. Davies in which the former Ambassador said that the Soviet Union’s resistance to Hitler was made possible by the purging of pro-Nazis in the Moscow trials.”

A despicable role in this attempt to justify the Moscow trials frameups is being played by the liberals. Echoing the direct spokesmen of the imperialists, the liberal exponents of the “war for democracy” are likewise beginning to “revise” their estimates of the trials and purges.

The most recent examples of this are contained in the New Republic, November 17, in a lengthy compendium of articles on Russia Today.

Some “Liberals” Help Out

Some of the writers, wary of stepping on slippery ground, manage to discuss the most fundamental aspects of Soviet military and industrial policies without even mentioning the purges. Max Werner, in Prospects for the Red Army, and A. Jugow, in the Results of the Five Year Plans, write as though the trials and purges had never been.

Others offer various “explanations” designed to provide belated hindsight justification for the Moscow trial frameups.

Vera Micheles Dean, in discussing the Kremlin’s Foreign Policy, states: “It would seem more accurate to say that, the spectacular Moscow trials reflected a widespread outburst of xenophobia – mistrust of all foreigners.” According to this view, Stalin was only yielding to the “xenophobia” of the Soviet masses in the purges which wiped out the old Bolshevik party, decimated the trained leadership of the Soviet army, government and industry and wound up with – a pact with Hitler.

John Scott, who shortly before the Soviet-Nazi war began was ordered expelled from the Soviet Union for articles he wrote in the London News-Chronicle, gives as one reason for the purges:

”I am convinced that many of those high, top-flight functionaries who disappeared between 1936 and 1938 got into trouble originally because of their failure to agree with Stalin’s far reaching and ruthless plans for industrialization.”

Scott then goes on to imply that tens of thousands of leading officials, technicians, army commanders, etc., had entered into the services of the German and Japanese fascists.

“One of the most important accomplishments of the Soviet administrative system has been the elimination of enemy fifth columnists ... In Russia we have seen no evidence of the existence of any effective Nazi organizations or agents. These were eliminated by the systematic vigilance on the part of the Soviet people, the Communist Party and the NKVD (GPU). From 1936 to 1938 thousands of individuals who were accused of hostility to the Soviet Union were purged. Many innocent men and women suffered unjustly, but the Quislings and Antonescus were liquidated.”

What the “Liberals” Are Really Helping

John N. Hazard (The Legal Framework) brazenly states:

”... There was no path open for society except self-protection. This approach was extensively adopted for the political offender, whether the sincere dissenter or the paid agents of outside forces. The fifth column was exterminated before it could form.”

If Stalin exterminated a “fifth column” before it could form,” that means it never existed.

No, these trials were not directed against “paid agents of outside forces.” By giving credence to this GPU argument, Scott, Hazard and the others who repeat this lie are supporting the very essence of the frameups, the deliberate Stalinist amalgam between the hundreds of thousands of pro-Soviet elements who were executed or imprisoned and spies, provocateurs, and wreckers.

The disorganization in Soviet military and industrial life that accompanied the purges was as harmful to the defense of the Soviet Union as any conceivable acts of actual imperialist spies and saboteurs. The debacle which today confronts the Soviet Union is in large part a result of Stalin’s ruthless destruction of the competent military and industrial leadership.

In order to uphold Stalin as a defender of “democracy,” the liberal apologists for Allied imperialism must become apologists also for the abominations of Stalinism, not the least of which were the Moscow trials frameups and the bloody purges. At the same time, these liberals aid Stalin’s attempts to discredit the Trotskyist revolutionary opposition to his ruinous policies.

These “defenders” of democracy are playing the game of the most reactionary American imperialists who are willing to learn from the methods of Stalinism how better to persecute and frameup the Trotskyists and other labor militants in this country.

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