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N.I. Bukharin’s Last Plea

before the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R.,
Moscow, March 12, Evening session, 1938

THE COMMANDANT OF THE COURT: The Court is coming please rise.

THE PRESIDENT: Please be seated. The session is resumed. Accused Bukharin, you may make your last plea.

BUKHARIN: Citizen President and Citizens Judges, I fully agree with Citizen the Procurator regarding the significance of the trial, at which were exposed our dastardly crimes, the crimes committed by the ”bloc of Rights and Trotskyites,” one of whose leaders I was, and for all the activities of which I bear responsibility.

This trial, which is the concluding one of a series of trials, has exposed all the crimes and the treasonable activities, it has exposed the historical significance and the roots of our struggle against the Party and the Soviet government.

 Nikolaj Bukharin (1888-1938). Between 1918 and 1929 he was the chief editor of the newspaper Pravda. He was also one of the founders of the Third International (Komintern).
I have been in prison for over a year, and I therefore do not know what is going on in the world. But, judging from those fragments of real life that sometimes reached me by chance, I see, feel and understand that the interests which we so criminally betrayed are entering a new phase of gigantic development, are now appearing in the international arena as a great and mighty factor of the international proletarian phase.

We, the accused, are sitting on the other side of the barrier, and this barrier separates us from you, Citizens Judges. We found ourselves in the accursed ranks of the counter-revolution, became traitors to the Socialist fatheriand.

At the very beginning of the trial, in answer to the question of Citizen the President, whether I pleaded guilty, I replied by a confession.

In answer to the question of Citizen the President whether I confirmed the testimony I had given, I replied that I confirmed it fully and entirely.

When, at the end of the preliminary investigation, I was summoned for interrogation to the State Prosecutor, who controlled the sum total of the materials of the investigation, he summarized them as follows (Vol. V, p. 114, December 1, 1937):

Question:  Were you a member of the centre of the counter-revolutionary organizatlon of the Rights? I answered: Yes, I admit it.

Second question:  Do you admit that the centre ot the anti-Soviet organization, of which you are a member, engaged in counter-revolutionary activities and set itself the aim of violently overthrowing the leadership of the Party and the government? I answered: Yes, I admit it.

Third question:  Do you admit that this centre engaged in terrorist activities, organized kulak uprisings and prepared for Whiteguard kulak uprisings against members of the Political Bureau, against the leadership of the Party and the Soviet power? I answered: It is true.

Fourth question:  Do you admit that you are guilty of treasonable activities, as expressed in preparations for a conspiracy aiming at a coup d’état? I answered: Yes, that is also true.

In Court I admitted and still admit my guilt in respect to the crimes which I committed and of which I was accused by Citizen the State Prosecutor at the end of the Court investigation and on the basis of the materials of the investigation in the possession of the Procurator. I declared also in Court, and I stress and repeat it now, that I regard myself politically responsible for the sum total of the crimes committed by the ”bloc of Rights and Trotskyites.”

I have merited the most severe punishment, and I agree with Citizen the Procurator, who several times repeated that I stand on the threshold of my hour of death.

Nevertheless, I consider that I have the right to refute certain charges which were brought: a) in the printed Indictment, b) during the Court investigation, and c) in the speech for the prosecution made by Citizen the Procurator of the U.S.S.R.

I consider it necessary to mention that during my interrogation by Citizen the State Prosecutor, the latter declared in a very categorical form that I, as one of the accused, must not admit more than I had admitted and that I must not invent facts that have never happened, and he demanded that this statement of his should be placed on the records.

I once more repeat that I admit that I am guilty of treason to the socialist fatherland, the most heinous of possible crimes, of the organization of kulak uprisings, of preparations for terrorist acts and of belonging to an underground, anti-Soviet organization. I further admit that I am guilty of organizing a conspiracy for a ”palace coup.” And this, incidentally, proves the incorrectness of all those passages in the specch for the prosecution made by Cltizen the State Prosecutor, where he makes out that I adopted the pose of a pure theoretician, the pose of a philosopher, and so on. These are profoundly practical matters. I said, and I now repeat, that I was a leader and not a cog in the counter-revolutionary affairs. It follows from this, as will be clear to everybody, that there were many specific things which I could not have known, and which I actually did not know, but that this does not relieve me of responsibility.

I admit that I am responsible both politically and legally for the defeatist orientation, for it did dominate in the ”bloc of Rights and Trotskyites,” although I affirm:

a) that personally I did not hold this position;

b) that the phrase about opening the front was not uttered by me, but was an echo of my conversation with Tomsky;

c) that if Rykov heard this phrase for the first time from me, then, I repeat, it was an echo of my conversation with Tomsky.

But I consider myself responsible for a grave and monstrous crime against the socialist fatherland and the whole international proletariat. I further consider myself responsible both politically and legally for wrecking activities, although I personally do not remember having given directions about wrecking activities. I did not talk about this. I once spoke positively on this subject to Grinko. Even in my testimony I mentioned that I had once told Radek that I considered this method of struggle as not very expedient. Yet Citizen the State Prosecutor makes me out to be a leader of the wrecking activities.

Citizen the Procurator explained in the speech for the prosecution that the members of a gang of brigands might commit robberies in different places, but that they would nevertheless be responsible for each other. That is true, but in order to be a gang the members of the gang of brigands must know each other and be in more or less close contact with each other. Yet I first learnt the name of Sharangovich from the Indictment, and I first saw him here in Court. It was here that I first learnt about the existence of Maximov, I have never been acquainted with Pletnev, I have never been acquainted with Kazakov, I have never spoken about counter-revolutionary matters with Rakovsky, I have never spoken on this subject with Rosengoltz, I have never spoken about it to Zelensky. I have never in my life spoken to Bulanov, and so on. Incidentally, even the Procurator did not ask me a single question about these people.

The ”bloc of Rights and Trotskyites” is first and foremost a bloc ot Rights and Trotskyites. How then, generally, could it include Levin, for example, who stated here in court that to this day he does not know what a Menshevik is? How could it include Pletnev, Kazakov and others?

Consequently, the accused in this dock are not a group. They are confederates in a conspiracy along various lines, but they are not a group in the strict and legal sense of the word. All the accused were connected in one way or another with the ”bloc of Rights and Trotskyites,” some of them were also connected with intelligence services, but that is all. This, however, provides no grounds for asserting that this group is the ”bloc of Rights and Trotskyites.”

Secondly, the ”bloc of Rights and Trotskyites,” which actually did exist and which was smashed by the organs of the Peoplers Commissariat of Internal Affairs, arose historically. It did really exlst until it was smashed by the organs of the People’s Commisssariat of Internal Affairs. It arose historically. I have testified that I first spoke to Kamenev as far back as 1928, during the Sixth Congress of the Comintern, which I at that time directed.

How then can it be asserted that the bloc was organized on the instructions of fascist intelligence services? Why, this was in l928! By the way, at that time I narrowly missed death at the hands of an agent of the Polish ”Defensiva,” a fact very well known to everybody who stood close to the Party leadership.

Thirdly, I categorically deny that I was connected with foreign intelligence services, that they were my masters and that I acted in accordance with their wishes.

Citizen the Procurator asserts that I was one of the major organizers of espionage, on a par with Rykov. What are the proofs? The testimony of Sharangovich, of whose existence I had not even heard until I read the indictment.

The record of Sharangovich’s testimony was submitted to me, from which it appears that I practically drew up the plan for wrecking.

SHARANGOVICH: Stop lying, for once in your life at least. You are lying even now in Court.

THE PRESIDENT: Accused Sharangovich, don’t interrupt.

SHARANGOVICH: I could not restrain myself.

BUKHARIN: Take Ivanov. Generally, what I have to say about his testimony is the following. Certain persons, who were connected with the Okhrana in the past, testified that from fear of exposure they decided to wage a struggle against the Soviet power, and that they therefore joined the Rights, the underground organization, which orientated itself on terrorism. But where is the logic? Fine logic, indeed. From fear of possible exposure they joined a terrorist organization, where they ran the risk of being caught the very next day. This is hard to imagine; I at least cannot imagine it. But Citizen the Procurator believed them, although all of it sounds very unconvincing.

Khodjayev asserts that I advised him to get in contact with the British resident agent, while Ikramov says that I told him that Turkestan was a choice morsel for England. In reality, this is far from the truth. I told Khodjayev that advantage should be taken ot the antagonisms between the imperialist powers, and in a vague form I supported the idea of the independence of Turkestan. Not a single word was said about any resident agents. Citizen the State Prosecutor asked: But did you see Khodjayev? I did. Was this in Tashkent? It was in Tashkent. Did you talk to him about politics? About politics. That means that you spoke about the resident agent. Such conclusions were drawn several times; and when I protested against them, Citizen the Procurator accused me of not telling the truth, of trying to wriggle out of it, of wishing to conceal the truth, and so on; and in this he was supported by a number of my fellow-accused. But it seems to me that in this case real logic is wholly on my side. Citizen the State Prosecutor declared on the basis of these materials that all the espionage connections proceeded through the channels of Rykov and Bukharin. Yet Citizen the Procurator said that every word was important here. The speech of Citizen the Procurator contained references to two Japanese newspapers.. But why does it follow that these reports refer precisely to me and the Rights?

I, however, admit that I am guilty of the dastardly plan of the dismemberment of the U.S.S.R., for Trotsky was negotiating about territorial concessions, and I was in a bloc with the Trotskyites. This is a fact, and I admit it.

I categorically deny my complicity in the assassination of Kirov, Menzhinsky, Kuibyshev, Gorky and Maxim Peshkov. According to Yagoda’s testimony, Kirov was assassinated in accordance with a decision of the ”bloc of Rights and Trotskyites.” I knew nothing about it. But what Citizen the Procurator calls logic comes here to the aid of the factual content. He asked whether Bukharin and Rykov could have stood aside from these assassinations; and he answered that they could not have stood aside because they knew about them. But not standing aside and knowing are one and the same thing. This is what in elementary logic is called tautology, that is, the acceptance of what is yet to be proved as already proven. But what is the real explanation? It might be said: Well, then, you villain, how do you explain these facts? Can you deny that some decision was adopted by some section or other with the knowledge of Yenukidze and Yagoda, or you deny even that? I cannot deny it, Citizens Judges. But if I cannot deny it, and at the same time cannot affirm it, I can make a certain conjecture. After all, you must bear in mind the secrecy of the work. The centre did not hold meetings: matters were discussed as occasion arose, and given such secret methods of communication and connections with each other, such things are quite possible.

As to Maxim Peshkov. Yagoda himself says that this assassination concerns him personally. I have no right to intrude into this sphere. But this is Yagoda’s statement, fortified by so fundamental a fact as his request to have the matter heard in camera, a fairly weighty consideration. Yet Kryuchkov says that it was done in order to lower Maxim Gorky’s buoyant life tonus. And, if I am not mistaken, one of the Counsel for Defence also adopted this viewpoint. But this can be seen through. This argument is countered by so weighty a fact as Yagoda’s personal statement, which he corroborated by the fact that this point was referred to the session in camera.

As to Menzhinsky. Bulanov testified to personal motives here too. Menzhinsky was already ill, he could not have injured the ”bloc ot Rights and Trotskyites” in any way.

Why, then, can this be regarded as likely?

I will dwell on Bulanov’s testimony.

The most painful and most horrible thing is the death ot Alexel Maximovich. What testimony did I give, how did I give it, and under what circumstances? I was asked (apparently the investigation had already furnished material on the subject) whether I did not recall anything that could throw light on the hostile attitude of the Right and Trotskyite parts of the bloc towards Gorky. I recalled the conversation with Tomsky which I mentioned here in Court and about which the Procurator interrogated me. The substance of this conversation was that Tomsky cursorily remarked that the Trotskyites were preparing to commit hostile acts against the Stalinist, Gorky. It absolutely did not occur to me at the time that he could refer to a terrorist act. I turned a deaf ear to it. During the interrogation I recalled this conversation with Tomsky. To the insistent demands of Citizen the Procurator I steadily replied that the thought of a terrorist act had not occurred to me at the time. Here in Court, in reply to one of the questions of Citizen the Procurator, I said: ”But now I see that it was to this he was referring.” Citizen the Procurator drew the following conclusion from this; he said: ”What is this, if not a veiled admission?” A veiled admission of what? What is admitted? The fact that I had learnt in Court a number of new facts which had not been known to me, and that therefore the conversation I had had with Tomsky might retrospectively be regarded in an entirely different perspective. I consider that the argumentation of Citizen the State Prosecutor in this case cannot be regarded as adequate.

The title-page of the Russian edition of ”Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet ’Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’ heard before the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R., Moscow, March 2-13, 1938”

Take the year 1918. Citizen the Procurator declares that in 1924 I was compelled to make a confession regarding such and such a conversation in the Smolny. I was not compelled; I experienced absolutely no pressure on me to do so; nobody but myself even hinted at it, and I published this example in order at that time, 1923-24, to show the utter harm of the factional struggle, and what it was leading to. So that first of all I would like to clear up this misunderstanding.

Citizen the State Prosecutor said that Bukharin cited nothing in refutation of the evidence of the five witnesses, who stood here in this Court before us all, before Citizens the Judges at this case, who asserted that I had the design, the thought, the idea, which I insistently advocated, of arresting Lenin and physically destroying him, and, moreover, to Lenin were added two other prominent figures In the Party - Stalin and Sverdlov. But it is not true that I cited no arguments in refutation. Citizen the Procurator may consider them untrue, feeble, unconvincing, but it cannot be said that I cited nothing in refutation. I cited a number of arguments.

The chief witness was Varvara Nikolayevna Yakovleva. Varvara Nikolayevna Yakovleva dates this whole incident about the preparatlons for the conspiracy with the ”Left” Socialist-Revolutionaries against Lenin, Stalin and Sverdlov, for their arrest and supposed murder, etc. - she dates all this in her evidence, and then at the confrontation and during the trial - to the period prior to the Peace of Brest-Litovsk. I said at the confrontation, at the preliminary investigation, and in Court, that it is not true. It is not true that before the Brest-Litovsk Peace the ”Left Communists” and the Trotskyites wanted to effect a coup d’état by forcible means, it is untrue because the Trotskyites and the so-called ”Lefts” had the majority in the Central Committee, and if the Trotskyites had not capitulated at the decisive moment when the vote on the question of the Brest-Litovsk Peace was taken, the Trotskyites and the ”Lefts” would have had the majority ih the Central Committee. That being the case, how can it be supposed that they then capitulated in order to resort to conspiratorial methods? Everybody who lived through that period remembers perfectly well that the feelings ot the ”Left Communists” at that time, before the Brest-Litovsk Peace, were such that they hoped to win a Party majority at the next Party Congress. That being the case how could there have been any talk about that of which the witness Varvara Nikolayevna Yakovleva now speaks? But I cited another example. Varvara Nikolayevna Yakovleva asserted that the Moscow Regional Bureau was the factional centre of the ”Left Communists.” I then took the liberty of mentioning several names, several respected members of the Party. I only wanted in this way to discredit the argument of Varvara Nikolayevna Yakovleva. It is well known that a numbet of prominent people - Kuibyshev, Emelyan Yaroslavsky, Menzhinsky and others - were at that time supporters of the ”Left Communists,” belonged to my ”Left” group. The relative importance of these people was far greater than that of the Mantsevs, Stukovs and the rest; and by political temperament and political activity they were more efficient than the persons mentioned. And so until the Brest-Litovsk Peace the central group in Leningrad comprised the persons mentioned. And so I ask, how could there have been a plan of revolt if these people held the key position in the central group? It is inconceivable, it is impossible. And here Varvara Nikolayevna Yakovleva, the prlncipal witness against me, is mixing things up with an entirely different period, the period following the Brest-Litovsk Peace, the Moscow perlod.

I beg your forgiveness, Citizens Judges for fixing your attention on this point: but as it is a very grave matter and a very interesting one, and as so much attention was devoted to it in the Court, I took the liberty of repeating what I have already said. Yet Citizen the State Prosecutor asserted that I cited nothing to exonerate myself on this point.

I will not dwell on other things, because I do not want to take up your time. I admit that there was one conversation with Karelin and Kamkov; and the initiative with regard to the arrest of Lenin for twenty-four hours and the subsequent bloc with the ”Left” Socialist-Revolutionaries proceeded from the ”Left” Socialist-Revolutionaries. But in the first conversation the reply was negative in a rude form. And as regards the fact that negotiations were subsequently conducted through-Pyatakov with the ”Left” Socialist-Revolutionaries - and this may be considered, as Citizen the Procurator, if I am not mistaken, formulated it, an attempt to overthrow the Soviet power by forcible means - this I admit; it was the case. As to the plan of physical extermination, I categorically deny it, and here the logic to which Citizen the State Prosecutor referred, namely, that forcible arrest implied physical extermination, will not help in the least. The Constituent Assembly was arrested, but nobody suffered physically. We arrested the faction of the ”Left” Socialist-Revrolutionaries, yet not a single man of them suffered physically. The ”Left” Socialist-Revolutionaries arrested Dzerzhinsky, yet he did not suffer physically. And I say - and this was omitted from the speech of the State Prosecutor - that in these criminal and dastardly conversations, it was specifically sti”ulated that not one hair of the persons concerned should be injured. You may think what you like, but it is a real fact.

This episode after the Brest-Litovsk-Peace generally took up an extremely short space of time, because very soon afterwards the ”Left” Socialist-Revolutionaries began to act. We had to arrest the faction of ”Left” Socialist-Revolutionaries. I myself took part in this operation, I myself took part in directing the arrest of the faction ot ”Left” Socialist-Revolutionaries. After this we had nothing more to do with the ”Left” Socialist-Revolutionaries generally. I went abroad on revolutionary work, then returned, then, I repeat, I was wounded by a ”Left” Socialist-Revolutionary bomb. I do not deny that it was not thrown at me personally, as the witness Mantzev stated, but I want to say that everybody knew that I was to deliver a lecture in the building of the Moscow Committee, and it was at this moment that the attempt was made and I was slightly wounded. A number of leading figures in the Party were killed. As is known this attempt was made by the bloc of the ”Left” Socialist-Revolutionaries, headed by Cherepanov and his wife, Tamara, with the so-called underground anarchists.

I mentioned Mantsev because Cherepanov was arrested by the ”Left Communist” Mantsev, as he was not an ally of Cherepanov. It is not true that Bela Kun encouraged the ”Left” Socialist-Revolutionaries.

I want to say that there was one brief period of criminal conspiracy between the ”Left Communists” and the ”Left” Socialist-Revolutionaries which quickly collapsed after their action, in the suppression of which a number of ”Left Communists” took an active part.

To support his speech, the State Prosecutor advanced a number of other points which were to provide a base for a period, a black period, in my life.

There are a number of mistakes here. First of all, I was never an Otzovist, although the State Prosecutor says I was.

The State Prosecutor accuses me of the fact that I worked with Trotsky as an editor ot the magazine ”Novy Mir,” and that I had a bloc with Trotsky. I object to this.

The State Prosecutor accuses me of having opposed Comrade Stalin in 1924. I do not remember any such case. I now conclude my objections to certain charges which the State Prosecutor brought against me in the course of the trial, and I will return to the crimes I actually did commit. I have already enumerated them twice. The gravity of these crimes is immense. I think it is unnecessary to repeat how grave these crimes are; it is clear ellough as it is.

I only want to say that the Trotskyite section on more than one occasion acted separatety, and it is possible that individual members of the bloc, like Yagoda, may also have acted separately, because Yagoda, as Bulanov testifies, regarded Rykov and myself as his secretaries, and he himself in this Court has called me a chatterbox who organized idiotic mass uprisings when it was a question of a coup d’état. But I am connected with the ”bloc of Rights and Trotskyites,” and it is quite natural that I politically answer absolutely for everything.

The extreme gravity of the crime is obvious, the political responsibility immense, the legal responsibility such that it will justify the severest sentence. The severest sentence would be justified, because a man deserves to be shot ten times over for such crimes. This I admit quite categorically and without any hesitation at all.

I want briefly to explain the facts regarding my criminal activities and my repentance of my misdeeds.

I already said when giving my main testimony during the trial, that it was not the naked logic of the struggle that drove us, the counter revolutlonary conspirators, into this stinking underground life, which has been exposed at this trial in all its starkness. This naked logic of the struggle was accompanied by a degeneration of ideas, a degeneratlon of psychology. a degeneration of ourselves, a degeneration of people. There are well-known historical examples of such degeneration. One need only mention Briand, Mussolini and others. And we too degenerated, and this brought us into a camp which in its views and features was very much akin to a kulak praetorian fascism. As this process advanced all the time very rapidly under the conditions of a developing class struggle, this struggle, its speed, its existence, acted as the accelerator, as the catalytic agent of the process which was expressed in the acceleration of the process of degeneration.

But this process of degeneration of people, including myself, took place in absolutely different conditions from those in which the process of degeneration of the international labour leaders in Western Europe took place. It took place amidst colossal socialist construction, with its immense scope, tasks, victories, difficulties, heroism ....

And on this basis, it seems to me probable that every one of us sitting here in the dock suffered from a peculiar duality of mind, an incomplete faith in his counter-revolutionary cause. I will not say that the consciousness of this was absent, but it was incomplete. Hence a certain semi-paralysis of the will, a retardation of reflexes. It seems to me that we are to a certain extent people with retarded reflexes. And this was due not to the absence of consistent thought, but to the objective grandeur of socialist construction. The contradiction that arose between the acceleration of our degeneration and these retarded reflexes expressed the position, of a counter-revolutionary, or a developing counter-revolutionary, under the conditions of developing socialist construction. A dual psychology arose. Each one of us can discern this in his own soul, although I will not engage in a far-reaching psychological analysis.

Even I was sometimes carried away by the eulogies I wrote of socialist construction, although on the morrow I repudiated this by practical actions of a criminal character. There arose what in Hegel’s philosophy is called a most unhappy mind. This unhappy mind differed from the ordinary unhappy mind only by the fact that it was also a criminal mind.

The might of the proletarian state found its expression not only in the fact that it smashed the counter-revolutionary bands, but also in the fact that it disintegrated its enemies from within, that it disorganized the will of its enemies. Nowhere else is this the case, nor can it be in any capitalist country.

It seems to me that when some of the West European and American intellectuals begin to entertain doubts and vacillations in connection with the trials taking place in the U.S.S.R., this is primarily due to the fact that these people do not understand the radical distinction, namely, that in our country the antagonist, the enemy, has at the same time a divided, a dual mind. And I think that this is the first thing to be understood.

I take the liberty of dwelling on these questions because I had considerable contacts with these upper intellectuals abroad, especially among scientists, and I must explain to them what every Young Pioneer in the Soviet Union knows.

Repentance is often attributed to diverse and absolutely absurd things like Thibetan powders and the like. I must say of myself that in prison, where I was confined for over a year, I worked, studied, and retained my clarity of mind. This will serve to refute by facts all fables and absurd counter-revolutionary tales.

Hypnotism is suggested. But I conducted my own defence in Court from the legal standpoint too, orientated myself on the spot, argued with the State Prosecutor; and anybody, even a man who has little experience in this branch of medicine, must admit that hypnotism of this kind is altogether impossible.

This repentance is often attributed to the Dostoyevsky mind, to the specific properties of the soul (”l’âme slave” as it is called), and this can be said of types like Alyosha Karamazov, the heroes of the ”Idiot” and other Dostoyevsky characters, who are prepared to stand up in the public square and cry: ”Beat me, Orthodox Christians, I am a villain!”

But that is not the case here at all. ”L’âme slave” and the psychology of Dostoyevsky characters are a thing of the remote past in our country, the pluperfect tense. Such types do not exist in our country, or exist perhaps only on the outskirts of small provincial towns, if they do even there. On the contrary, such a psychology is to be found in Western Europe.

I shall now speak of myself,.of the reasons for my repentance. Of course, it must be admitted that incriminating evidence plays a very important part. For three months I refused to say anything. Then I began to testify. Why? Because while in prison I made a revaluation of my entire past. For when you ask yourself: ”If you must die, what are you dying for?” - an absolutely black vacuity suddenly rises before you with startling vividness. There was nothing to die for, if one wanted ta die unrepented. And, on the contrary, everything positive that glistens in the Soviet Union acquires new dimensions in a man’s mind. This in the end disarmed me completely and led me to bend my knees before the Party and the country. And when you ask yourself: ”Very well, suppose you do not die; suppose by some miracle you remain alive, again what for? Isolated from everybody, an enemy of the people, in an inhuman position, completely isolated from everything that constitutes the essence of life . . ” And at once the same reply arises. And at such moments, Cltizens Judges, everything personal, all the personal incrustation, all the rancour, pride, and a number of other things, fall away, disappear. And, in addition, when the reverberations of the broad International struggle reach your ear, all this in its entirety does its work, and the result is the complete internal moral victory of the U.S.S.R. over its kneeling opponents. I happened by chance to get Feuchtwanger’s book from the prison library. There he refers to the trials of the Trotskyites. It produced a profound impression on me; but I must say that Feuchtwanger did not get at the core of the matter. He stopped half way, not everything was clear to him; when, as a matter of fact, everything is clear. World history is a worldcourt of judgement: A number of groups of Trotskyite leaders went bankrupt and have been cast into the pit. That is true. But you cannot do what Feuchtwanger does in relation to Trotsky in particular, when he places him on the same plane as Stalin. Here his arguments are absolutely false. For in reality the whole country stands behind Stalin; he is the hope of the world; he is a creator. Napoleon once said that fate is politics. The fate of Trotsky is counter-revolutionary politics.

I am about to finish. I am perhaps speaking for the last time in my life.

I am explaining how I came to realize the necessity of capitulating to the investigating authorities and to you, Citizens Judges. We came out against the joy of the new life with the most criminal methods of struggle. I refute the accusation of having plotted against the life of Vladimir Ilyich, but my counter-revolutionary confederates, and I at their head, endeavoured to murder Lenin’s cause, which is being carried on with such tremendous success by Stalin. The logic of this struggle led us step by step into the blackest quagmire. And it has once more been proved that departure from the position of Bolshevism means siding with political counter-revolutionary banditry. Counter-revolutionary banditry has now been smashed, we have been smashed, and we repent our frightful crimes.

The point, of course, is not this repentance, or my personal repentance in particular. The Court can pass its verdict without it. The confession of the accused is not essential. The confession of the accused is a medieval principle of jurisprudence. But here we also have the internal demolition of the forces of counter-revolution. And one must be a Trotsky not to lay down one’s arms.

I feel it my duty to say here that in the parallelogram of forces which went to make up the counter-revolutionary tactics, Trotsky was the principal motive force. And the most acute methods - terrorism, espionage, the dismemberment of the U.S.S.R. and wrecking - proceeded primarily from this source.

I may infer a priori that Trotsky and my other allies in crime, as well as the Second International, all the more since I discussed this with Nikolayevsky, will endeavour to defend us, especially and particularly myself. I reject this defence, because I am kneeling before the country, before the Party, before the whole people. The monstrousness of my crimes is immeasurable especially in the new stage of the struggle of the U.S.S.R. May this trial be the last severe lesson, and may the great might of the U.S.S.R. become clear to all. Let it be clear to all that the counterrevolutionary thesis of the national limitedness of the U.S.S.R. has remained suspended in the air like a wretched rag. Everybody perceives the wise leadership of the country that is ensured by Stalin.

It is in the consciousness of this that I await the verdict. What matters is not the personal feelings of a repentant enemy, but the flourishing progress of the U.S.S.R. and its international importance.

Note: In the final verdict of this trial, notified on March 13th, 1938, Bukharin, Rykov, Yagoda, Krestinsky, Rosengoltz, Ivanov, Chernov, Grinko, Zelensky, Ikramov, Khodjayev, Sharangovich, Zubarev, Bulanov, Levin, Kazakov, Maximov-Dikovsky, Kryuchkov were sentenced to be shot, with the confiscation of all their personal property.

Pletnev was sentenced to twenty-five years of imprisonment, with deprivation of political rights for a period of five years after expiration of his prison term and with the confiscation of all his personal property.

Rakovsky and Bessonov were sentenced to twenty-five and fifteen years of imprisonment respectively, each with deprivation of political rights for a period of five years after the expiration of their respective prison terms, and the confiscation of all their personal property.

The text is from ”Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet ’Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’ heard before the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R., Moscow, March 2-13, 1938” (Publ. People’s Commissariat of Justice of the U.S.S.R., Moscow, 1938). Bold and indented paragraphs are not formatted in that way in the source text. This is done here only, for the purpose of stressing certain passages. /KET

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