October 17, 2020

Kaganovich's speech at the first meeting of the Plenum of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks on December 4, 1936

A source: December plenum of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks in 1936: Documents and materials. Moscow. ROSSPEN. 2017
Archive: RGASPI. F. 17.Op. 2.D. 574. L. 76-103. Typewritten copy (2nd copy)

KAGANOVICH. Comrades, the speeches of both Rykov and Bukharin are more like the last words of the defendants at the trial than the speeches at the plenum of the Party's Central Committee. You have to understand that you cannot act on feelings of pity here.

VOICE. Right.

KAGANOVICH. The headquarters of the leadership of our party and our country has gathered here. You need to give political reasons if you want to be acquitted. I think that there were no political arguments in the speeches of Bukharin and Rykov, except for the desire to arouse self-pity.

Bukharin and Rykov, first of all, portrayed the matter in such a way that the presentation of the question at the plenum of the Central Committee and the discussion of this question fell on them like snow on their heads, as if suddenly the discussion of this question at the plenum of the Central Committee fell on them. Is this the case. It must be remembered that at the trial of the Trotskyite-Zinovievist terrorist organization, at the trial that sentenced the accused counter-revolutionary scoundrels and traitors to the homeland, the Prosecutor of the Soviet Union, based on the testimony of the accused: Zinoviev, Kamenev, Reingold and others, made a statement that he was appointing an investigation about behavior of Rykov, Bukharin and others.

This investigation was then led by the Prosecutor's Office on all legal grounds. Pyatakov, Serebryakov, Radek and others were arrested. In relation to Rykov and Bukharin, the Prosecutor's Office and the Central Committee of the party showed special caution, special tolerance and a special approach, arranging a confrontation between Rykov and Bukharin with Sokolnikov. Both Rykov and Bukharin were in the position of persons under investigation, almost defendants, and they showed exceptional tolerance. The prosecutor's office examined the issue several times. Two secretaries of the Central Committee were arranging a confrontation, and now Bukharin and Rykov portray the matter in such a way that the discussion at the plenum is unexpected and unfair for them, while they refer to the statement of the Prosecutor.

BUKHARIN. I did not say that.

KAGANOVICH. The meaning of your speech was as follows. Yes, indeed, after analysis, it was concluded that there were no legal grounds for involving Bukharin and Rykov in this case of the Trotskyist-Zinoviev Center.

BERIA. During that period.

KAGANOVICH. Quite rightly, it was during that period, according to the data that were at our disposal, that there were no legal grounds for joining the Trotskyite-Zinovievist terrorist organization to this trial. Now Bukharin and Rykov casuistically operate with this statement of the Prosecutor and think that this is enough to evade responsibility for their criminal deeds.

What did it become clear at the confrontation between Rykov and Bukharin and Sokolnikov? The following was found out. Tomsk was the main protagonist of the right in their relations, in their ties with the counter-revolutionary Trotskyite-Zinoviev terrorist center. By the way, Sokolnikov did not know when we interrogated him that Tomsky had shot himself.

At the confrontation, Sokolnikov shows:

“Participating in this bloc and entering the center of this bloc, I, of course, knew that the bloc was organized on the basis of terror against the leaders of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks and the Soviet government, and during the first period of his participation in this bloc I was informed by Kamenev about the terrorist acts that were being prepared. ... In connection with the arrests after December 1, 1934 and the failure of the center, a new troika was created, consisting of me - Sokolnikov, Radek and Serebryakov. We established contact with Pyatakov, who also entered the center. Negotiations with the right wing date back to November 1935. These negotiations were a continuation of those that were conducted back in 1932, and about which I knew from Kamenev, who claimed that in 1932 he was negotiating the organization of a bloc with Bukharin, Zinoviev with Tomsky, and Sharov and Evdokimov with Uglanov. Kamenev told me that he, Kamenev, subsequently informed Bukharin and Rykov about the organization of the bloc and that the bloc was organized on a terrorist basis. However, the right-wingers did not enter the bloc, but agreed to contact and mutual political information.

In the fall of 1935, on direct instructions from the new center, I turned to Tomsky with a proposal to join the bloc. Tomsky agreed, confirming that he was acting on behalf of Bukharin and Rykov. Thus, by the beginning of 1936, the bloc expanded due to the participation of the right. I know that Pyatakov agreed with Tomsky to link the people whom Tomsky was to bring to this bloc with Dreitser. At the same time, a general scheme of action was worked out with Tomsky, and an agreement was reached that simultaneously with the terrorist acts, the military, and, in particular, Primakov and Putna, should act. When speaking to me, Tomsky spoke on behalf of the entire group, that is, on behalf of Bukharin and Rykov. Tomsky said that Bukharin agreed to use the Izvestia printing house for counterrevolutionary purposes.

We are deeply convinced that this was exactly the case. We know that blocks always start with contact. Take a bloc of two different political groupings: they converge on something common, on some single general line. Blocks always start with mutual information, contact, communication. And so at first they did not agree to organize a bloc, which had not yet shown its viability. First, they agreed to establish contact and mutual information, and then they began joint actions.

At the confrontation we were put in a difficult position. The main character - Tomsky - shot himself. Sokolnikov did not talk to Rykov and Bukharin. Incidentally, I must also mention here that at the confrontation it turns out that Bukharin and Sokolnikov had one, very characteristic conversation about the publication of Sokolnikov's article in Izvestia. Bukharin at a confrontation confirmed that this conversation had taken place. During one of the meetings of the Politburo, Sokolnikov, referring to Bukharin regarding the publication of his article in Izvestia, asks to publish it not under his name - under a pseudonym. To this Bukharin replies: “Why? You must fight for your legality. I prove this to Rykov as well.

What's the matter here? A candidate member of the Central Committee, present at the meetings of the Politburo, a person "loyal" to the Central Committee of the party, regarding the publication of an article on the People's Commissariat for Forestry, answers Sokolnikov with the following political statement: "You must fight for your legality."

If there is nothing between you, what has to do with the struggle for your legality and why you are referring to Rykov. I affirm that this is a conversation between two factionalists, this is a conversation between two members of one organization (Noise in the hall, voices: correct, absolutely correct).

How else can you explain this conversation about the publication of an article in a newspaper? At the confrontation, we asked you again, and you confirmed your words.

BUKHARIN. I said: why should you print your article illegally? [KAGANOVICH]. In your answer, you yourself are a little different, but, in essence, you admit the same. You are a politician, a person asks you to print his article. What does the struggle for legality have to do with it? And I, and Yezhov, and Vyshinsky, after this, developed a firm conviction that on this issue you spoke precisely as your own people, as people connected with each other.

BUKHARIN. Nothing of the kind!

KAGANOVICH. Why then, before Sokolnikov's statement, did you insist that you had never had any conversations with Sokolnikov? And as soon as Sokolnikov said this, you admitted it.

BUKHARIN. Comrade Kaganovich, I was simply indignant that the deputy. People's Commissar wants to write illegally to the newspaper.

KAGANOVICH. Despite our conviction, based on the materials of the confrontation, that Rykov and Bukharin could not be ignorant of Tomsk, we are forced to

were to admit that at that time we did not have any legal grounds for attaching them to the case of the Trotskyist-Zinoviev Center. The main accused Tomsky dropped out of this case. And we came to the conclusion you know about this case.

This only indicates that we approached this issue with all the seriousness of the state, that we do not put together court cases in the name of court cases.

I must say that Comrade Stalin especially demanded that we thoroughly understand this matter, approach it carefully, not showing haste. It was this word - haste - that was used then.

But does this mean that on this occasion at the plenum of the Central Committee there are no grounds for discussing your question? Of course, there are also very serious reasons, because the question of Tomsk and of Rykov and Bukharin's connection with it is not over.

We have a written report on the meeting of the OGIZ Party organization and Tomsky's speeches. Tomsky before his suicide, when he still tried to defend himself in his speech at a meeting of the party organization in the OGIZ, he himself had to admit a number of very serious facts.

What are these facts? According to Tomsky's own statement, since 1928, a connection between Kamenev and Tomsky has been established, and Bukharin was also present during Kamenev's conversations with Tomsky. This is apart from those conversations that Bukharin had with Kamenev separately.

Tomsky says that in 1932 Kamenev came to him, Zinoviev came, Shlyapnikov and a number of other oppositionists came. You see how they gravitate towards him. “I had no personal relationship with Kamenev ... Kamenev began to turn to me for various services ... Kamenev asked me: give me your car, mine is being repaired. I gave him my car twice. " This means that Kamenev asked for help, Tomsky helped him.

And what about Zinoviev? Tomsky tells about his meeting and conversations with Zinoviev at one of the meetings of the board of the People's Commissariat for Education. And it turns out interesting. Tomsky comes to a meeting of the NKPros board. By some chance, only Tomsky, Zinoviev and Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya were in the hall. "Zinoviev met me with open arms, like an old friend." Zinoviev kindly says to Tomsky: "Let's come to my office and chat." The two of them go into his office. Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya was not in the office. A conversation begins. Zinoviev complains to him about his personal plight, and then begins to talk about the situation in the country, reports that he, Zinoviev, is in great anxiety and worries about the situation in which the country is now.

VOICE FROM THE PLACE. Apart from him, there is no one to worry.

BERIA. Well, and the scoundrels, just do not have enough words.

KAGANOVICH. On the basis of this, one can undoubtedly say that this conversation was not of a personal nature, not of the order of a personal complaint, but the conversation was political. This was not the beginning of a contact, but a more serious connection.

VOICE FROM THE PLACE. It was already a conspiracy.

KAGANOVICH. And finally, in 1934 Zinoviev invites Tomsky to his dacha for a tea party. Tomsky goes to him. Apparently, this tea-drinking was preceded by something else, because after the tea-drinking Tomsky and Zinoviev go in Tomsky's car to choose a dog for Zinoviev. You see what kind of friendship, even a dog goes to choose.

STALIN. What kind of dog - hunting or guard?

KAGANOVICH. It was not possible to establish this.

After choosing a dog, Tomsky again goes to Zinoviev for a tea party. Regarding this tea party, Tomsky asks Rykov: "Zinoviev invites me to his dacha, whether or not to go." Rykov tells us that he answered him: “You don't have to go,” but Tomsky went all the same.

STALIN. Did you get the dog?

KAGANOVICH. We got it. They were looking for a four-legged companion, since they were no different from him, they were the same dogs ...

STALIN. It is unknown whether the dog was good or bad? (Laughter).

KAGANOVICH. This was difficult to establish at a confrontation.

At a party meeting in OGIZ, Tomsky was asked: "Are you and Rykov keeping in touch [?]." Tomsky says: "Yes, I do," and Rykov, in response to the same question, states: "I had close personal relations with Tomsky, but in 1935-36 our relations cooled considerably." And we know that Rykov met with Tomsky not only in 1934-35, but kept in touch with him until recently, even when Tomsky was being held accountable, he asked us for advice. You said it yourself, at the confrontation. Don't shake your head.

RYKOV. No, sorry, I didn’t state that.

KAGANOVICH. Please, I will read what you said at the confrontation: "In the spring of 1936 Tomsky told me that he was summoned to the Central Committee and asked for explanations about Zinoviev's testimony." This is absolutely certain.

RYKOV. When I was at Tomsky's apartment this spring ...

VOICE WITH M ESTA. Which year?

RYKOV. That year, 1936, he told me that during the period when we did not see him, he received requests from the Central Committee for Zinoviev's documents, and he answered this during the same period ...

STALIN. Have Zinoviev and Tomsky been?


STALIN. Have you been to Tomsky?

RYKOV. This spring, but I did not speak of any information with Zinoviev.

KAGANOVICH. Then Tomsky, according to Rykov himself, consults with Rykov whether to go to Zinoviev. Here is what Comrade Rykov himself said:

“In 1934, Tomsky once told me that Zinoviev was with him and invited him to his dacha. Tomsky asked me for advice on what to do. I declared that this was a political invitation, and I strongly object to Tomsky's visit to Zinoviev. "

You see, the one thing that he asks Rykov, and Rykov says that he strongly objects, isn't this a political relationship between two factionalists who are consulting about their relationship with a representative of another organization.

AWESOME. Why didn't Tomsky ask Kaganovich if he could go?

KAGANOVICH. Tomsky did not ask you, Comrade Rykov, whether he should meet with anyone else there - he asked you about a meeting with Zinoviev. You say that you strongly objected to him. But Tomsky still went, and you were connected with him after that.

It is clear that this was Tomsky's political connection with Rykov, and it persisted until the last moment, we are not naive people. Who does not understand that it was a political connection between members of one political organization.

Consequently, Tomsky had to admit that he was associated with Zinoviev, and that they had political conversations with him, that he helped Kamenev, helped Zinoviev to the extent that he went with him to fetch the dog. Tomsky was associated with Zinoviev until 1936. It is quite clear that Rykov could not have been unaware of Tomsky's actions, could not have been unaware of Tomsky's conversations with Zinoviev, just as Bukharin, who was associated with both Tomsky and Rykov, could not fail to know about it.

BUKHARIN. Nothing like this.

KAGANOVICH. Rykov, in a confrontation with Sokolnikov, among other things, showed that in 1931 he had Kamenev, who suggested that all the old Bolsheviks meet at Kamenev's apartment. Rykov claims that he rejected this proposal of Kamenev, but did not tell anyone about it, and told it only at a confrontation.

RYKOV. Kamenev was with me as the chairman of the Council of People's Commissars, as the speaker of the Main Concession Committee, of which he was chairman. (Noise).

KAGANOVICH. Consequently, as chairman of the Glavkontseskom, he came to you, the chairman of the Council of People's Commissars, and offered to gather all the old Bolsheviks to discuss the political issues of the country? Who are you trying to fool here? (Noise in the hall).

RYKOV. I'll answer. After the end of his communication on the plan, as chairman of the Concession Committee, he told me: "Let's get together, old Bolsheviks, to clarify all our misunderstandings among ourselves." I told him: “You are talking nonsense. What misunderstandings there could be between the old Bolsheviks, and there is nothing for us to explain.

LYUBCHENKO. Why didn't you tell the Politburo about this conversation?

RYKOV. I told you.

KAGANOVICH. This is nonsense.

RYKOV. I spoke about this.

KAGANOVICH. At the confrontation you yourself admitted your mistake in not declaring it.

RYKOV. No, I admitted my mistake on the issue of Tomsk and the conversation with him.

KAGANOVICH. We asked you why you didn’t tell us, you knew what Kamenev was, who in November 1927 staged a demonstration against the Central Committee on the square. You knew who Kamenev was. A factionalist who is clearly fighting against the party. Why are you in 1931, when this Kamenev comes to you as the chairman of the Council of People's Commissars and, at that time, a member of the Politburo, why did you not tell the Politburo then that Kamenev was with you and suggested “the old Bolsheviks get together and explain all the misunderstandings, ”you said that you admit it was your mistake. What does this mean? This shows that back in 1931 you had contact with an anti-party anti-Soviet group, and this contact then developed into a connection. Therefore, even then you made this contact.

VOICE. Right.

KAGANOVICH. Then we did not have evidence from Sosnovsky, there was no evidence from Uglanov, Kulikov, Matveev, Yakovlev. There was only evidence from the court and we made decisions on these evidence, and now we have more extensive material on this case.

And is it not strange that Bukharin and Rykov dedicated three quarters of their speeches at the plenum of the Central Committee today to Sokolnikov? When it came to Yakovlev, Kulikov and others, they tried to excuse and keep silent. You are not brought to court in the first case. Nobody is going to cancel this decision. If you are prosecuted, you will be prosecuted for additional information. Therefore, for your protection, you had to refer to these additional data: to Sosnovsky, Yakovlev and others. You tried to leave only on the decision that we made. But this is not convincing for the members of the plenum.

It can be considered established for the additional accusation of Bukharin and Rykov, not only on the basis of our inner conviction, but also on the basis of the facts that the Rights had at least a mutual connection with the Trotskyite-Zinovievist center, and that they themselves had their own center.

Is it a coincidence that Kulikov shows that Rykov in 1935 talked with Kotov about terror? Apparently, Kulikov and Kotov did not know about the Trotskyist center, they talk about their right line. Apparently, the middle peasants did not know everything that the centralists knew. And now Kulikov and Kotov show that in 1935 Rykov speaks of the acceleration of terrorist acts.

Tomsky led the trade unions, he had a group of right-wing trade unionists, very angry and kulak-minded. After all, it was from this group that the terrorist group of Sormovsky Smirnov grew, who, back in 1932-33, organized a terrorist group to commit terrorist acts. This, comrades, is a fact. This group was exposed and convicted. Therefore, it is clear why all these elements were associated primarily with Tomsky, but these were the cadres of the entire right-wing group, that is, both Rykov and Bukharin.

It is possible, comrades, to consider it an established fact that both Rykov and Bukharin were in the same center and maintained contact with the Trotskyite-Zinovievist center. And they did this because they basically agreed with the platform of the Trotskyite-Zinovievist gang. (VOICES. Right).

BUKHARIN. Yes, what are you, comrades.

KAGANOVICH. Indeed, in fact, on all issues [:] international, domestic, peasant and industrialization between the left, right, Trotskyists, there were almost no serious disagreements. All of them, as one, were against industrialization, against collectivization. All were against building socialism in one country. All of you were against the leadership. You all agreed on these issues.

BUKHARIN. It was the same in 1928.

KAGANOVICH. It was, Comrade Bukharin, in 1928, in 1932-1933 and in 1934.

BUKHARIN. Not true.

KAGANOVICH. So let me ask you, isn't the Ryutin platform of 1932 yours and, at the same time, the Zinoviev platform [?]

You are a politician, you could not provide an exhaustive explanation here. You tried to pity us. Do you think that we will believe your tears? No. Politicians who have gone through the Leninist-Stalinist school of fighting enemies will not believe this. Would you show on what political issues you did not agree with them?

BUKHARIN. Not for any.

KAGANOVICH. You were against the Central Committee.


KAGANOVICH. I give facts, and you get off with shouts of "wrong."

BUKHARIN. You cited the facts of 1928, what are these facts?

KAGANOVICH. I think that it is quite clear that you had your own organization. The bloc remained in force in order to preserve its army, to bring its plans, including terrorist ones, into action.

BUKHARIN. What are you crazy, comrade. Kaganovich!

KAGANOVICH. Back in 1928, your bandits Sapozhnikov and Slepkov shouted at one evening that it was necessary to kill Comrade Stalin. At that time you were still trying to cover up this "bunch". When Sapozhnikov and others came to you and they told you about this, you said: "Hush, hush, so that no one knows, no need to make any noise." It looks like you. You do everything on the sly. Instead of telling the Central Committee, as a member of the Central Committee, that, comrades, I raised such bandits and scoundrels who went so far as to kill, I feel guilty in this - you did not take any measures.

You, covering the scoundrels and drunkards-murderers, should have thought of yourself as a politician. Didn't the Sapozhnikovs and Slepkovs talk about terror in 1928? You pretend that you were not aware of their policies and the issues that were discussed. This is not true. The facts confirm the opposite. You knew, and could not but know, what was going on around you. You knew what this gang was doing, you met with them, you shook hands, you were friends. But not only your school. You knew that Radek was an active Trotskyist, that he was associated with this gang, why you and Radek were still great friends.

BUKHARIN. Because everyone trusted Radek, and you trusted.

KAGANOVICH. We gave him a job, which is completely different. You had friendly, friendly relations. We reinstated him in the party, this is one thing, but friendly, friendly relations is quite another.

BUKHARIN. This is not true, this is because he was a member of the editorial board of Izvestia.

MOLOTOV. Tomsky spoke about terror back in 1928. Have you heard of this?

VOROSHILOV. And to no one else but Comrade himself. I personally spoke to Stalin.

BUKHARIN. Well, what are you, comrades, attributing some kind of history to me.

MOLOTOV. We are only talking about facts.

KAGANOVICH. Finally, take Uglanov's testimony. When asked who was in the center, he replied that in 1930 I, Bukharin and Tomsky were in the center. Isn't that right? You considered Uglanov an honest man. You thought that Uglanov is a person who has great willpower, why would he slander himself? He will not slander himself. We know that this is a tough person - a tough enemy. Why will Uglanov show that he is not actually listed as Bukharin and Rykov? Uglanov shows that the Rights knew that the Trotskyists were preparing the assassination of Comrade. Kirov.

BUKHARIN. This is an amazing slander, bloody slander.

KAGANOVICH. Zinoviev in 1934 was preparing the assassination of Kirov, Tomsky was friends with Zinoviev, he visited him just in 1934, Tomsky undoubtedly knew about their plans, and you could not help but smell, sniff out about it, being connected with him , with Tomsky. You, Comrade Bukharin, are boasting that you are a philosopher, that you are a dialectician, that you are able to reveal internal contradictions where there is even external unity ...

BUKHARIN. I didn’t brag about it.

KAGANOVICH. Rykov always considered himself a man of practice, a man of great political intelligence, he was associated with Tomsk. Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev were preparing the assassination of Kirov, Tomsky knew about it, no doubt, and Rykov could not smell anything [?]

BUKHARIN. Yes, I have not even seen Tomsky, you must understand that.

KAGANOVICH. No, this is not true, you met, you yourself told us about it.

BUKHARIN. When? I wrote a letter to the Politburo that since 1933 I have severed all personal relations ...

KAGANOVICH. You considered Kulikov the personification of honesty. Yes, he was an honest man, he was a worker, a proletarian, he was really honest. And you confused him. But why are you now claiming that Kulikov is slandering? Then Matveyev's testimony, because he was a regular with you.

BUKHARIN. Yes, depending on when.

KAGANOVICH. And Matveev, I know that Matveev was an addition to your gangster ("] school ["] as a representative of the young masses, and he was very close to you, you yourself talked about it. And this Matveyev is now showing that they had a terrorist organization.

Finally, the libel argument. Here Bukharin and Rykov insisted that we had no guarantee that tomorrow any honest person could be slandered. What is the solution, how can you prove your honesty? And as if the party and the Politburo are ready to believe the slander and accuse innocent people. As much patience as the Central Committee has shown you. After all, the Central Committee has had hundreds of statements against you, and dozens of statements have been made against you for years. The Central Committee of the Party and, in particular, Comrade Stalin personally, showed special tolerance, caution, they did not touch you, they thought that this might not be true, but here you want to portray the matter with tears and an argument about slander like this: well, well, today me, tomorrow any of the party can be slandered.

We, on the basis of the accumulated indisputable facts, can absolutely firmly establish that you were aware of the activities of the counter-revolutionary terrorist Trotskyist gang, their information came from you. Can we tolerate such a situation when a member of the Central Committee or a candidate of the Central Committee, using their right to attend meetings of the Politburo of the Central Committee in order to inform the enemies of the people. Are not all these facts enough to exclude them from the Central Committee? (VOICES. Right, right).

KAGANOVICH. We here, on the basis of Comrade Yezhov's report, should note another very interesting and serious political fact. Let us take all the people who were involved in the case of the counter-revolutionary Trotskyite-Zinoviev gang. So far, among them there was almost not one who, in one way or another, was not an active enemy of the party (VOICES. Right). Is it a coincidence? No, this is no coincidence. Individual units could be hidden enemies, but the bulk of all the scoundrels who were exposed by the court, the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor's Office are all those vile creatures [-] Trotskyists, Zinovievites and the rightists who fought against the party, who hated the party, who hated the leadership of the party, who under the guise of a struggle for democracy, he wanted democracy to kill, seize power and eliminate socialism. He who is honest is not afraid, he takes not by feeling, but by arguments, facts, he will prove his honesty by deed. And there is no point here for Rykov and Bukharin to portray the matter as if slander is omnipotent, and we, mere mortals, are powerless before slander.

They found a party, found a Central Committee, found a leadership where slander can be omnipotent, but people are powerless. This is precisely the slander against the party. We have more truth, justice and patience in our Party than anywhere else in order to reveal the real truth.

Of course, we, the party and economic workers, are also to blame, of course, and we had little vigilance in all sectors, including, I will say, in transport. We thought they were honest people, we thought they were people who, to some extent, retained their party identity. But it turned out that in ten years of struggle they had rolled back so far that they had sunk to the camp of fascism, to the Gestapo, to the secret police, to negotiations with bourgeois governments, to the restoration of capitalism.

Our Party and the Central Committee turned out to have enough sagacity to stop and expose this vile hand now. And we are confident that the Central Committee will have the strength to uproot to the end the reptile that wants to hinder us in our building of socialism. (Applause).