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The Lie of the "Lenin Testament"

by Hari Kumar

This article was first published in the North American journal Alliance -Marxist-Leninist; Number 15 1994; and then was part of the pamphlet "The Lie of the "Lenin Testament" Published by North Star Compass, Toronto, 1997).


The Affair Of The so-called "Lenin Testament" has confused generations of militants, and has played a certain role in bringing honest militants to the cause of Trotskyism. Fortunately for Marxist-Leninist, the tawdry history has been convincingly revealed in more or less entirety.

As part of the archival search that took place after the fall of even a pretense of a "socialist state", a cache of letters written by J.V.Stalin to his comrade-in-arms – Viacheslav Molotov was found, translated and published in the volume: "Stalin’s Letters To Molotov"; Edited by Lars T.Lih, Oleg V.Naumov, and Oleg V.Khlevniuk; Yale University press; New Haven, 1995; ISBN: 0-300-06211-7.

Although almost all of the letters shed light on the inner workings of the CPSU, those that are numbered 6-8 – deal in detail with the "So Called Testament Affair". In addition, in order to make sense of Stalin’s letters, the editors also include a very lengthy internal memorandum written by Stalin to the Politburo about the machinations of Trotsky on this affair. This memorandum is referenced from the archives as: "RTsKhIDNI.f.17, op.3, d.507, II.8-23.

Coupled with the letters - It is invaluable both for Marxists-Leninists, and all those who wish to understand the real history of both the so-called "Testament" and Trotsky’s maneuvers. The following article puts the essentials of the story, as drawn by firstly Stalin himself, and by the editors of the re-discovered letters. Alliance poses a pertinent question at the end, that relates to why the Politburo in the end obstructed Stalin’s full and open exposure and why this leads to question the integrity of some leading members of the Comintern.


Max Eastman was an American member of the Communist Party, who was married to a Russian woman, and he then became a close ally of Trotsky. He published in the USA, a book entitled Since Lenin Died"; 1925. This book, accused Stalin of suppressing the "Lenin Testament", and furthermore, it claimed that Trotsky was being unfairly attacked. This claim that Stalin ahd "suppressed" the "Testament" naturally created a furor in the international movement. It was no matter that Sltain ahd insisted upon an open discussion of this issue in CPSU(B) circles The accusations were widely picked up after the French communist press "L’Humanite" published them. Breaching party regulations, various such internal documents were being published by the open communist press was of course a serious matter. How? It appeared to be a provocative act aimed at discrediting the CPSU(B). It was an act that had been intended to discredit, of course.

Immediately following this international provocation, Trotsky was courted by many oppositionist elements worldwide. No matter that the facts were distorted (Such as the denial of access to Lenin by any but Trotsky and Krupskaii etc); and that moreover, Stalin had offered his resignation; and that the Politburo including Trotsky had rejected this. The implications of this international printing and allegation were clear, and the only way to deal with this was an open discussion.

Stalin then again insisted, on the open publication of the full details of the case, including the letters that had passed between Stalin and Trotsky upon the affair. But the Politburo still refused to take this course, even though Trotsky was now clearly exposed as manipulating facts to his advantage. Trotsky attempted to defend himself in a first letter. Nonetheless, he was told to correct the press in a letter. He formulated a "draft" to submit.

A committee of Stalin, Bukharin, Rykov, and Zinoviev vetted this first "draft" letter. In it, Trotsky gave a very watered-down version of events. This flagrant evasion by Trotsky, led to demands that Trotsky's watered down statement, must be more honest, and must be made more explicit upon the Eastman Affair. The committee also did force some further clarifications of facts from Trotsky that he had tried to evade. Stalin now tried to ensure that the entire materials were printed and distributed to the full Central Committee. But nought came of his attempts. Stalin had wanted to have the full book published more openly to the international communist press.

To recapitulate:

i) Stalin wished to see, and argeud inside the Poltiburo, for the full publication of all relevant correspondence dealing with the Testament and Eastman.

ii) The politburo agreed that Trotsky's manoeuvres were exposed, but they refused to publish openly the full details. They did agree however, that Trotsky should write a "correction".

iii) Trotsky wrote a first watered down "draft letter" that put his role in a sanitized light. But the Politburo under Stalin’s’ persistence exposure of Trotsky’s manoeuvres, forced him to enlarge upon the issue.

This general sequence of events can be seen quite clearly from the picture that emerges from the detailed memorandum that Stalin writes to the Politburo explaining how he became are of the affair, and the various manoeuvres and lies of Trotsky on this issue. This memorandum is taken from the newly published edition of "Stalin’s Letters To Molotov". These letters shed a lot of light on the internal party workings. It is a long excerpt, but one that is well worth citing, in order to buttress the clear insight that Trotsky had been playing a devious and in the whole affair.

The following is the text of the memorandum sent by Comrade Stalin to the Politburo outlining the course of events and demanding action. At this point – the international press including L’Humanite had NOT yet obtained (or in reality - as we shall see had leaked to them) the original documents of the correspondence and the so-called "Testament". What the memorandum was reacting to was the clear signals from Comrades in the international movement such as Albert Inkpin of the Communist Party Great Britain who was concerned that a major provocation was taking place.



On 8 May of this year, the POLITBURO received a statement from Trotsky addressed to "Com. Eric Verney" at the periodical ‘Sunday Worker’ in reply to Eric Verney's inquiry about a book by Eastman ‘Once Lenin Died’. Published and widely quoted in the bourgeois press ‘Once Lenin Died’, depicts Com. Trotsky as a "victim of intrigue," and the readers of the book are given to understand that Trotsky regards in democracy and free trade in a favorable light. In view of his presentation, Eric Verney asked Com. Trotsky to provide an explanation that would be published in the ‘Sunday Worker’.

Com. Trotsky's statement, as is known, was printed in Pravda, no. 104, (9 May 1915).

I personally paid no attention to Com. Trotsky's statement at the time because 1 had no notion of the nature of Eastman's book.

On 9 May 1915, Com. Trotsky received an inquiry from the Central Committee of the British Communist Party signed by Com. Inkpin in connection with Eastman's book. Com. Inkpin asks Com. Trotsky to make a statement concerning Eastman's book, because "the enemies of the Communist International in our country exploit your position in Communist Party."

Here is the full text of the letter from Inkpin:

9 May 1915. To Com. L. Trotsky.

"Dear Com. Trotsky! The Central Committee of the British party has assigned me to send you the attached copy of the book by Max Eastman, ‘Since Lenin Died’, and the issues of the ‘New Leader’, ‘Lansbury's Weekly’, and ‘Labour Magazine’ containing reviews of the book. These reviews will show you how enemies of the Communist International in our country exploit your position in relation to the Russian Communist Party.

Our Central Committee considers that it would be very useful if you would write and send an answer to these reviewers. Such an article would be of good service to the Communist movement in our country, and we for our part would do everything possible to give it the widest publicity. With Communist greetings, General Secretary Inkpin.’

Trotsky wrote the following letter in reply to Inkpin's letter:

Dear Com. lnkpin: Your letter of 9 May was evidently written before my answer to the inquiry from the ‘Sunday Worker’ was received in London.

My brochure "Where Is England Headed?" will be, I hope, a sufficient reply to all the attempts of the Fabian pacifists, the parliamentary careerists, the Philistines, and the MacDonalds to use various events in our party as proof of the advantage of reformism over communism and of democracy over the dictatorship of the proletariat.

As soon as my brochure is reviewed by the Central Committee of our party, I will not delay in sending you the manuscript.

With Communist greetings, L. Trotsky; May 1915.

At the same time, Com. Trotsky sent to the POLITBURO in care of Com. Stalin a letter dated 19 May 1915, wherein Com. Trotsky, without providing a direct reply to the questions raised by Com. Inkpin, attempts to get by with a reference to his brochure "Where Is England Headed?" which has no relationship to Com. lnkpin's inquiry.

Here is the text of Com. Trotsky's letter:

‘To Comrade Stalin.

Dear Comrade! In order to avoid any misunderstandings whatsoever, I consider it necessary to provide you with the following information regarding the English book by Max Eastman, ‘Since Lenin Died’ (1 have just received this book and have managed to leaf through it quickly).

I became acquainted with M. Eastman as an American Communist at one of the first international congresses of the Comintern.

Three or four years ago, Eastman asked for my assistance in writing my biography. I refused, suggesting that he do some other work of more general interest. Eastman replied in a letter in which he argued that the American worker would become interested in communism not in response to the expounding of theory or history but in response to a biographical story; he and other American writers wanted to fashion a weapon of Communist propaganda out of the biographies of several Russian revolutionaries. Eastman asked me to give him the necessary facts and subsequently to review the manuscript. I replied that in view of his explanation I did not feel I could refuse to tell him the necessary facts, but I definitely refused to read the manuscript and thus accept direct or indirect responsibility for the biography.

Subsequently I gave Eastman information relating to the first twenty-two years of my life, before I arrived in London in 1902. 1 know that he visited my relatives and schoolmates and collected information about that same era. These materials are what gave him, apparently, the opportunity to write the book ‘Lev Trotsky: Portrait of a Youth’, the announcement of which is printed on the cover of the book ‘Since Lenin Died’.

The last time I saw Eastman must have been more than a year and a half ago; I lost track of him altogether after that. I had no notion of his intention to write a book devoted to the discussion in our party. And even he, of course, did not have this intention during that period when he met with me to collect facts about my youth.

It goes without saying that he could not have received any party documents from me or through me. Eastman, however, did speak and write Russian well, had many friends in our party, was married to a Russian Communist, as I was recently told, and consequently had free access to all our party literature, including, evidently, those documents that were sent to local organizations, distributed to members of the XIII Party Congress, etc. I have not verified whether he has cited these documents accurately or from rumor.

The press of the British mensheviks is trying to use Eastman's book against communism (the secretary of the British Communist Party sent me, along with Eastman's book, three issues of Menshevik-type publications that included articles about that book). Meanwhile, my telegram was supposed to appear in the ‘Sunday Worker’ (there is mention of this in the ‘Daily Herald’). I think that my pamphlet "Where Is England Headed?" will be quite timely under these circumstances and will dispel many illusions and much gossip spread by the Menshevik and bourgeois press. I intend to do an appropriate supplement for the English edition.

In a private conversation, I told you that for half a year I have not received any Comintern documents. In particular, I have no idea whatsoever what the "inquiry" Treint raised about me involves. To this day I do not know why Rosmer and Monatte were expelled from the party, I do not know what their disagreements are with the party, and I do not know what they are publishing or even whether they are publishing anything at all."

With Communist greetings, L. Trotsky, Moscow, 19 May 1925.

Only after this letter from Com. Trotsky and only because Com. Trotsky stubbornly refused to reply directly to Com. Inkpin's questions about the Eastman book did it become clear to me that I had to familiarize myself immediately with the contents of that book. (Emphasis by Alliance)

Acquaintance with Eastman's book convinced me that this book was not written naively, that its purpose is to discredit the government of the USSR and the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party, and that for these purposes Eastman indulges in a whole range of slanders and distortions, referring to Trotsky's authority and to his "friendship" with Trotsky and to some secret documents that have not yet been published. I was particularly surprised by Eastman's statements concerning his "chats" with Com. Trotsky about Lenin's so-called testament and about the "main figures in the Central Committee," and also by his statement that the authenticity of [his text of] Lenin's so-called testament was confirmed by "three responsible Communists in Russia," whom "I (that is, Eastman) interviewed separately and who had all recently read the letter and committed its most vital phrases to memory."

For me it became clear that, given everything I have just related, it would be not only intolerable but outright criminal to hush up the question of Com. Trotsky's relationship with Eastman and his book ‘Since Lenin Died’.

In view of that, after discussing the matter with the secretaries of the Central Committee, I ordered Eastman's book translated' into Russian and sent the translation to POLITBURO members and candidates for their review.

I was also moved to act because, meanwhile, all and sundry bourgeois and social democratic parties have already begun to use the Eastman book in the foreign press against the Russian Communist Party and Soviet rule: they take advantage of the fact that in their campaign against the leaders of the Soviet government they can now rely on the "testimonies" of the "Communist" Eastman, a "friend" of Com. Trotsky who has "chats" with him, to the effect that Russia is ruled by an irresponsible bunch of usurpers and deceivers.

I have no doubt whatsoever that Eastman's book is libelous, that it will prove enormously profitable to the world counterrevolution (and has already done so!), and that it will cause serious damage to the entire world revolutionary movement.

That is why I think that Com. Trotsky, on whom Eastman occasionally claims to rely in his book when speaking against the leaders of the Russian Communist Party and the Soviet revolutionary authority, cannot pass over Eastman's book in silence.

I am not thinking at present of proposing to Com. Trotsky that he substantively respond in the press to the fundamental issues covered in Eastman's book, which are the fundamental questions of our disputes as well. Let the party and the International judge who is right and whose political position is correct, the position of the Central Committee or the position of Com. Trotsky.

But certain minimum obligations rest on party members; a member of the Central Committee and POLITBURO, such as Com. Trotsky is at this moment, has a certain minimum moral duty that Com. Trotsky cannot and should not refuse. This minimum requires that Com. Trotsky speak out in the press unequivocally against the crude distortions of facts that are known to everyone, distortions permitted in Eastman's book for the purpose of discrediting the Russian Communist Party. Obviously the silence of Com. Trotsky in this case may be construed only as a confirmation or an excuse for these distortions.

I think that Comr. Trotsky should rebut at least the following distortions:

In the section, "attacking the Old Guard," Eastman's little book says that "Trotsky's letter [the reference is to an appeal to the local committees in I92 in connection with the POLITBURO's resolution on internal party democracy-J. V.Stalin] and some supplementary articles in pamphlet form were practically suppressed by the Politburo.

Further in Chapter 9 of Eastman’s book, it says that: Trotsky’s book (the reference is to Volume 3 of Trotsky’s works & The Lessons of October" J.V.Stalin] was practically suppressed by the Politburo until they [That is the Central Committee of the Russian Communist party] were sure of the success of their maneuver.

Finally, chapter 14 of Eastman's book says that:

"Trotsky's true texts do not appear in public to refute their [that is, the Central Committee's-J.V.Stalin] statements. These texts are read privately, conscientiously, by those minds who have the courage and penetration to resist the universal official hysteria stimulated and supported by the State".

1 think that Com. Trotsky should refute these statements by Eastman as malicious slander against the party and the Soviet government. Com. Trotsky cannot help but know that neither during the party discussions of 1913 or 1914, nor at any time whatsoever, did the Central Committee obstruct the printing of Com. Trotsky's articles and books in any way. In particular, Com. Trotsky must recall that during the 1913 discussion he himself refused in his well-known statement in the press to reply to the arguments of representatives of the party majority. He must also remember the following statement "From the Editors" of Pravda, the central party organ:

"From the Editors. In reply to the question posed by a number of comrades concerning why Com. Trotsky is not responding to the criticism of Trotskyism, the editors of Pravda report that so far neither Com. Trotsky nor his close supporters have submitted any articles in response to the criticism of Trotskyism" (see Pravda, no.184 [13 December 1914]).

2) The second chapter of Eastman’s book speaks of the Russian Communist Party leader as "suppressing the writing of Lenin’s himself"; and in Chapter 9 it says that they, that is, the party leaders, "clapped the censorship on his [that is, Lenin’s – J.V.Stalin] own last words to his party".

I think that Com. Trotsky should also refute these statements by Eastman as a lie and as libel against the leaders of the party, the Central Committee, and its Politburo. Trotsky knows quite as well as do all other members of the Central Committee that Eastman's reports do not correspond with reality to the slightest degree.

3) In the second chapter of his book, Eastman states that :

"all those present at the meeting, including the secretaries, were not only against the policies proposed by Lenin, but they were against the publication of the article"[the reference is to Lenin's article "How We Should Reorganize Rabkrin"-J. Stalin].

I think that Com. Trotsky should also refute this statement by Eastman as an obvious slander. He cannot help but recall, first, that Lenin's plan as set forth in his article was not discussed substantively at this time; second, that the Politburo was convened in connection with the statements in Lenin's article about the possible schism in the Central Committee-statements that could have provoked misunderstanding in the party organizations. Com. Trotsky could not help but know that the Politburo then decided to send to party organizations, in addition to Lenin's printed article, a special letter from the Orgburo and the Politburo of the Central Committee stating that the article should not provide grounds for any perception of a schism in the Central Committee. Com. Trotsky must know that the decision to publish Lenin's article immediately, and to send a letter from the members of the Orgburo and Politburo about the absence of a schism within the Central Committee, was passed unanimously; any notion that the Politburo's decision on the publication of Lenin's article was passed under pressure from Com. Trotsky is a ridiculous absurdity.

Here is the text of the letter:

Dear Comrades, Pravda no. 16 of 25 January carries Lenin's article "How We Should Reorganize Rabkrin." One part of this article speaks about the role of the Central Committee of our party and the need to take organizational measures that will eliminate the prospect of, or make as difficult as possible, a schism in the Central Committee if mutual relations between the proletariat and the peasantry become complicated in connection with the changes ensuing from NEP. Some comrades have directed the Politburo's attention to the fact that the comrades in the provinces may view this article by Com. Lenin as an indication of a recent internal schism within the Central Committee that has prompted Com. Lenin to advance the organizational proposals outlined in his article. In order to eliminate the possibility of such conclusions-which do not at all correspond to the real state of affairs-the Politburo and the Orgburo consider it necessary to notify the provincial committees of the circumstances surrounding the writing of Com. Lenin's article.

The return of Com. Lenin to highly pressured work after his illness led to exhaustion. The doctors pronounced it necessary to prescribe for Com. Lenin a certain period of absolute rest without even reading newspapers (Since for Com. Lenin reading newspapers is of course, not entertainment or a means of relaxation but an occasion for intense contemplation of all the current political issues). It goes without saying that Com Lenin does not take part in the Politburo sessions, and he is not even sent -again, in strict accordance with his doctors' advice-the transcripts of the sessions of the Politburo and the Orgburo. The doctors believe, however, that because complete mental inactivity is intolerable for him, Com. Lenin should be allowed to keep something like a journal, in which he notes his thoughts on various issues; when authorized by Com. Lenin himself, moreover, a portion of this journal may appear in the press. These external conditions underlying the writing of "How We Should Reorganize Rabkrin" demonstrate that the proposals contained in this article are suggested not by any complications inside the Central Committee but by Com. Lenin's general views on the difficulties that will face the party in the coming historical epoch.

In this strictly informational letter we will not consider the possible long-range dangers that Comrade Lenin appropriately raised in his article. The members of the Politburo and Orgburo, however, wish to state with complete unanimity, in order to avoid any possible misunderstandings, that in the work of the Central Committee there are absolutely no circumstances that would provide any basis whatsoever for fears of a schism. (Emphasis in JVS)"

This explanation is provided in the form of a strictly secret letter, rather than being published in the press, to avoid giving enemies the opportunity to cause confusion and agitation through false reports about the state of Com. Lenin's health. The Central Committee has no doubt that if anyone in the provinces has drawn the alarming conclusions noted in the beginning of this letter from the article by Com. Lenin, the provincial committees will not delay in correctly orienting the party organizations.

TO: Available Members of the Politburo and Orgburo of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party:

Andreev, Molotov

Bukharin, Rykov

Dzerzhinsky, Stalin

Kalinin Tomskii

Kamenev Trotsky


Moscow, 27 January 1923.

4) Chapter 3 of Eastman's book talks about Lenin's "testament."

"One of the most solemn and carefully weighed utterances that ever came from Lenin's pen was suppressed-in the interests of 'Leninism'-by that triumvirate of 'old Bolsheviks,' Stalin, Zinoviev and Kamenev.... They decided that it might be read and explained privately to the delegates-kept within the bureaucracy, that is to say,-but not put before the party for discussion, as Lenin directed" [28-29].

I think that Com. Trotsky should also refute this statement by Eastman as a malicious slander. First of all, he cannot help but know that Lenin's "testament" was sent to the Central Committee for the exclusive use of the Party Congress; second, that neither Lenin nor Com. Krupskaia "demanded" or in any way proposed to make the "testament" a subject of "discussion before the entire Party"; third, that the "testament" was read to all the delegations to the Congress without exception, that is, to all the members of the Congress without exception; fourth, that when the Congress presidium asked the Congress as a whole whether the "testament" was known to all the members of the Congress and whether any discussion of it was required, the presidium received the reply that the "testament" was known to all and that there was no need to discuss it; fifth, that neither Trotsky nor any other member of the Congress made any protest about possible irregularities at the Congress; sixth, that by virtue of this, to speak of suppressing the "testament" means to slander maliciously the Central Committee and the XIII Party Congress.

5) The second chapter of Eastman's book says that the "article [the reference is to Lenin's article on the nationalities question-J. Stalin] which Lenin considered of 'leading importance,' and which he designed to have read at a party convention, but which constituted a direct attack upon the authority of Stalin, and a corresponding endorsement of the authority of Trotsky, was not read at the party convention, the triumvirate deciding that it was for the welfare of the party to suppress it".

I think that Com. Trotsky should also refute this statement by Eastman as clearly libelous. He must know, first, that Lenin's article was read by all members of the Congress without exception, as stated at a full meeting of the Congress; second, that none other than Com. Stalin himself proposed the publication of Lenin's article, having stated on 16 April 1923, in a document known to all members of the Central Committee, that "Com. Lenin's article ought to be published in the press"; third, that Lenin's article on the nationalities issue was not

published in the press only because the Central Committee could not fail to take into consideration that Lenin's sister, Maria Ilinichna, who had Lenin's article in her possession, did not consider it possible to publish it in the press. Com. Fotieva, Lenin's personal secretary, states this in a special document dated 19 April 1923, in reply to Stalin's proposal to print the article:

"Maria Ilinichna [Lenin's sister-J. Stalin] has made a statement," writes Com. Fotieva, "to the effect that since there was no direct order from Lenin to publish this article, it cannot be printed, and she considers it possible only to have the members of the Congress familiarize themselves with it . . ." and, in fact, Com. Fotieva adds that "Vladimir Ilich did not consider this article to be finished and prepared for the press"; fourth, that Eastman's statement that the Congress was not informed of Lenin's article therefore slanders the party.

6) In the second chapter of his book, Eastman, among other things, writes the following about Lenin's "testament": "There is no mystery about my possession of this and the foregoing information; it is all contained in official documents stolen by the counterrevolutionists and published in Russian, at Berlin, in the ‘Sotzialistichesky Viestnik’ [Socialist herald]"

Here Eastman once again distorts the truth. Not Lenin's "testament" but a malicious distortion of it was published in ‘Sotsialisticheskiy vestnik.’

I think that Com. Trotsky should make a declaration about this distortion.

7) In the second chapter of Eastman's book, Com. Kuibyshev is incorrectly portrayed as an opponent of Lenin's plan set out in the article about the Worker-Peasant Inspection: "The degree to which the policies outlined by Lenin have been followed may be inferred from the fact that Kuibishev.. . is now the People's Commissioner of Workers' and Peasants' Inspection, and the head of the Central Control Committee of the party".

In other words, it seems that when the Central Committee and the Party Congress appointed Kuibyshev commissar of Worker-Peasant Inspection and chairman of the Central Control Commission, they intended not to implement Lenin's plan but to sabotage it and cause it to fail.

I think that Com. Trotsky should also make a declaration against this libelous statement about the party, for he must know that, first, Lenin's plan, developed in the article about the Worker-Peasant Inspection, was passed by the XII Party Congress; second, Com. Kuibyshev was and remains a supporter and promoter of this plan; third, Com. Kuibyshev was elected chairman of the Central Control Commission at the XII Congress (re-elected at the XIII Congress) in the presence of Com. Trotsky and without any objections on the part of Com. Trotsky or other members of the Congress; fourth, Com. Kuibyshev was appointed head of Worker-Peasant Inspection at the Central Committee plenum of 26 April 1923 in the presence of Com. Trotsky and without any objections on his part.

8) Eastman states in the first chapter of his book:
"When Lenin fell sick and was compelled to withdraw from the Government, he turned again to Trotsky and asked him to take his place as President of the Soviet of People's Commissars and of the Council of Labour and Defence".

Eastman repeats the same thing in the second chapter of his book:
"He [that is, Com. Trotsky-J. Stalin] declined Lenin's proposal that he should become the head of the Soviet Government, and thus of the revolutionary movement of the world".

I do not think that this statement by Eastman, which, by the way, does not correspond at all to reality, could harm the Soviet government in any way. Nevertheless, because of Eastman's crude distortion of the facts on a matter concerning Com. Trotsky, Com. Trotsky ought to speak out against this undeniable distortion as well. Com. Trotsky must know that Lenin proposed to him, not the post of chairman of the Council of Commissars and the Labor Defense Council, but the post of one of the four deputies of the chairman of the Council of Commissars and Labor Defense Council, having in mind already two deputies of his own who had been previously appointed, Comrades Rykov and Tsiurupa, and intending to nominate a third deputy of his own, Com. Karnenev.

Here is the corresponding document signed by Lenin:

‘To the Secretary of the Central Committee, Com. Stalin. Since Com. Rykov was given a vacation before the return of Tsiurupa (he is expected to arrive on 20 September), and the doctors are promising me (of course, only in the event that nothing bad happens) a return to work (at first very limited) by I October, I think that it is impossible to burden Com. Tsiurupa with all the ongoing work, and I propose appointing two more deputies (deputy to the chairman of the Council of Commissars and deputy to the chairman of the Labor Defense Council), that is, Comrades Trotsky and Kamenev. Distribute the work between them with my clearance and, of course, with the Politburo as the highest authority. " 11th September 1922. V. Ulianov (Lenin)."

Com. Trotsky must be aware that there were no other offers then or now from Com. Lenin regarding his appointment to the leadership of the Council of Commissars or the Labor Defense Council. Com. Trotsky thus turned down, not the post of chairman of the Council of Commissars or the Labor Defense Council, but the post of one of the four deputies of the chairman. Com. Trotsky must be aware that the Politburo voted on Lenin's proposal as follows: those in favor of Lenin's proposal were Stalin, Rykov, Kalinin; those who abstained were Tomskii, Kamenev; and Com. Trotsky "categorically refused"; (Zinoviev was absent). Com. Trotsky must be aware that the Politburo passed the following resolution on this matter:

"The Central Commit-tee Politburo with regret notes the categorical refusal of Com. Trotsky and proposes to Com. Kamenev that he assume the fulfillment of the duties of deputy until the return of Com. Tsiurupa."

The distortions condoned by Eastman, as you can see, are glaring. These are, in my opinion, the eight indisputable points, Eastman's crudest distortions, that Com. Trotsky is obliged to refute (emphasis editors) if he does not wish to justify through his silence Eastman's slanderous and objectively counterrevolutionary attacks against the party and the Soviet government.

In connection with this, I submit the following proposal to the Politburo:


As for the general political profile of Mr. Eastman, who still calls himself a Communist, it hardly differs in any way from the profile of other enemies of the RCP [Russian Communist Party] and the Soviet government. In his book he characterizes the RCP Congress as nothing but a "ruthless" and "callous bureaucracy," the Central Committee of the party as a "band of deceivers" and "usurpers," the Lenin levy (in which 200,000 proletarians joined the party) as a bureaucratic maneuver by the Central Committee against the opposition, and the Red Army as a conglomerate "broken into separate pieces" and "lacking defense capability," and these facts clearly tell us that in his attacks against the Russian proletariat and its government, against the party of this proletariat and its Central Committee, Eastman has outdone runof-the-mill counterrevolutionaries and the well-known charlatans of White Guardism. No one, except the charlatans of the counterrevolution, has ever spoken of the RCP and the Soviet government in such language as the "friend" of Com. Trotsky, the "Communist" Eastman, permits himself. There is no question that the American Communist Party and the Third International will properly evaluate these outstanding exploits of Mr. Eastman.’

Dated 17 June 1925. J.V.Stalin.

________________END STALIN'S MEMO TO POLITBURO_____________


"On the following day, 18 June, the Politburo affirmed Stalin’s proposal about Trotsky's statement of rebuttal in the press. Trotsky himself promised that within three days he would submit the text of his statement. On 22 June, Trotsky in fact sent Stalin material entitled "On Eastman's Book ‘Since Lenin Died’." (Lih T.L. et al Ibid; p.82).

But in fact the first "draft" by Trotsky, was evasive in the extreme. Stalin pointed this out and replied that in his opinion the draft was unsatisfactory. As the editors Lih et al cite it:

"Without citing any accusations, Stalin replied with a brief note:

"If you are interested in my opinion, I personally consider the draft completely unsatisfactory. I do not understand how you could submit such a draft regarding the counterrevolutionary book by Eastman, filled with lies and slander against the paty after you accepted a moral obligation at the Politburo session of 18 June to disassociate yourself resolutely from Eastman and to rebut categorically the factual distortions." Cited from: RTsKhIDNI f. 17, op. 3, d. 507, 11.8-23. Lih T.L et al Ibid; p. 82.

Trotsky then tried to appeal to the Politburo, but could not actually show that he had not been evasive. He was over-ruled by the Executive Committee of the Politburo. They insisted upon a more detailed rebuttal of Eastman by Trotsky:

"In an appeal to the Politburo, Trotsky tried to defend himself, attempting to prove that Stalin's accusations were nonsense. After meeting the usual rebuff, however, he began to revise the text of his statement for the press. Oversight of his revision was assumed by Bukharin, Zinoviev, Rykov, and Stalin. They demanded from Trotsky harsher accusations against Eastman and a categorical denial of the facts cited in Eastman's book. Trotsky conceded to all demands. The final text of his statement, which had satisfied the censors from the "seven," was ready by 1 July 1925." Lih T.L. et al Ibid; p.82).

By now there could be no little doubt that this affair was a part of a concious plan of disruption. Therefore there were plans to distribute the materials to this point, much more widely:

"Now Stalin and his supporters decided to take the affair outside the framework of the Politburo by first briefing a broad circle of party functionaries about it and then publicizing it generally. In early July, Central Committee members L. M. Kaganovich, V. Ya. Chubar, and G. I. Petrovskii submitted a statement that contained a request that "all the members of the Central Committee be sent all materials on the publication of Eastman's book" and that members of the Central Committee of the Ukrainian Communist Party be briefed. On 7 July 1925, after a poll of Politburo members, this request was fulfilled." Lih T.L. et al Ibid; p.82).

So, a small book was published and it was indeed distributed to the Central Committee:

" The materials on the Eastman affair were typeset, published in the form of a small book (containing Stalin's letter, the Politburo's resolutions, Trotsky's correspondence with Stalin and with other members of the Politburo, and drafts of Trotsky's statement), and sent to Central Committee members." Lih T.L. et al Ibid; p.83

But Stalin had further plans to publish, both in the West and later in the USSR, the following documents: Trotsky's statement, a letter prepared by N. K. Krupskaia, in which she, as Lenin's widow would refute Eastman, and the letter from Stalin himself that demonstrated his role in the struggle for party interests. But these plans, to which Stalin repeatedly referred in his other letters to Molotov, were never realized.

This was at least in part, because a new element entered the already complicated scene. Somehow the journal of the French Communist party had got hold of, and had published the first watered down "draft’ of the Trotsky letter, that had been rejected by the sub-committee. As the editors of "Stalins’ Letters to Molotov comment:

"Soon after the materials on the affair were sent to Central Committee members, Trotsky had occasion to take the offensive. On 16 July 1925, the French Communist newspaper, ‘L'Humanite;’ published the original version of Trotsky's statement." Lih T.L. et al Ibid; p.82

Trotsky now acted indignantly and demanded that Bukharin investigate the source of this leak. He himself denied any responsibility - and implied that it was a deliberate leak that was designed to discredit him –Trotsky! Trotsky in fact implied that Stalin had been responsible for the leak to L’Humanite:

"On 27 July, Trotsky addressed a letter to Bukharin, who at that time was acting as chairman of the Comintern's Executive Committee. Trotsky expressed his puzzlement and protest over the French publication and demanded that the circumstances of the leak be investigated, hinting that publication had deliberately been arranged even after he, Trotsky, had made all the necessary concessions and had demonstrated his readiness to cooperate with the Politburo majority in defending the party's interests. That day, after a poll of Politburo members, the following resolution was passed:

a) To request ‘L'Humanite’ to publish [a notice] that the text of Com. Trotsky's letter regarding Eastman's book that appeared in ‘L'Humanite’ is incomplete and distorted.

b) To request ‘L'Humanite’ to publish the full (final) text of Com. Trotsky's letter about Eastman's book."

Bukharin, in turn, ordered an investigation into the circumstances of the incident and informed Trotsky of this decision." Lih T.L. et al Ibid; p.83.

Soon it became clear that the original version of Trotsky's article had been given to ‘L'Humanite’ by D. Z. Manuilskii, a member of the Comintern's Executive Committee presidium, during his trip to France. Clearly Dimitri Z.Manuilskii had thrown more flames on the fire. He had "lent" the original watered down Trotsky Letter to the press. This was moreover, done against the previously stated express wishes of the politburo. In fact, before Manuilskii's departure from a politburomeeting, Stalin had reminded him to return all documents. Manuilskii had agreed. However…. he then gave them to the French communist journal, ‘L'Humanite’.

As Stalin points out in 'Letter 6' To Molotov, dated 1 August 1925 this was not a "mistake":

"I was told that Manuilskii sent L'Humanite the first draft of Trotsky's article for publication. If this is true it's an outrage. If that's true, then we are not dealing with a 'mistake'.. but with the policy of a few people who for some reason are not interested in publishing Trotsky's's article in its final edited form.. I propose raising the issue .. and condemning Manuilskii's actions, since he has placed the Russian CP and L'Humanite in a ridiculous position" Lih T.L. et al Ibid; p.90.

Unfortunately we do not know exactly what happened at subsequent meetings, since there was still no open publication of the documents. We must assume that the Politburo refused Stalin’s request. Presumably also, Manuilskii's ‘condemnation’ was blocked by the PB.

The international dimensions of the leak, first to Eastman, and then to L’Humanite, of an inadequate and not a full picture of the full events, only becomes clear if the international situation is briefly considered.

Of course the German revolution had been recently defeated, and still at this stage, the USSR was the sole Socialist state. The capitalist encirclement was complete. At this stage Zinoviev was still in a very prestigious position, as the Chairman of the Comintern. But it was rapidly becoming clear that Zinoviev obstructed a clear and revolutionary line in all situations involving the Comintern.

The ULTRA-LEFT line had coalesced around Zinoviev. In fact, for Stalin, Zinoviev represented more of a danger than Trotsky. Why this was so, is detailed in Stalin’s "Letter" number 21, dated 25, June 1926 :

more or less loyally but were tolerable.

2) With the appearance of the Zinoviev group those with oppositional tendencies began to grow more arrogant and break the bounds of loyalty;

3) The Zinoviev group became the mentor of everyone in the opposition who was for splitting the party; in effect it has become the leader so the splitting tendencies in the party;

4) This role fell to Zinoviev's group because :

it is better acquainted with our methods than any other group,
It is stronger in general than the other groups and has control of the Comintern Executive Committee (Zinoviev is) chairman of the Comintern Executive Committee, which represents a serious force; c) because of this it behaves more arrogantly than any other group, providing examples of "boldness" and "determination" to those with other tendencies." See "Stalin's Letters To Molotov." Ibid; p.115.

It is for this reason that events in the COMINTERN took on a particular edge as Zinoviev and Trotsky both manoeuvred to gain control within the USSR. Zinoviev allied with M.M.LASHEVICH to hold anti-party, underground and factional meetings in the USSR (letter 20; dated 15 June 1926). That Stalin knew that this was happening is shown by the letters :

"If Lashevich is organizing illegal meetings, if Zinoviev is organizing R.Fischer's flight to Germany, and if Sokolnikov is being sent to France to the French CP V Congress- it means they have decided along with Trotsky to break the party through the Comintern." "Stalin's Letters.."; Ibid; p.113.

Stalin is pointing out a concatenation – a whole series of coordinated and significant international manoeuvres of the revisionists. Obviously other events on the international front were occurring where there was a concerted attempt by either Zinoviete or the Trotskyites to disrupt the Marxist-Leninist position. Briefly the Zinoviev-ites pursed the ultra-leftist policy of creating splinter Red Unions. This was fought against by Stalin, and led to some very different positions on the question of the British General Strike. (Again the "Stalin’s Letters To Molotov" are significant in this regard. They are quoted in the discussion on the adoption of Ultra-Left tactics on Trade Unionism in "the theory of the black nation. See http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Atrium/1091/ALLIANCEML.HTML ). On another front, Trotsky had long been pushing an ultra-leftist line in the Chinese Revolution. Stalin advocated for the Chinese Revolution a classic Leninist policy. This was to implement a two stage national democratic revolution followed by the socialist revolution.






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