The Pittsburgh Press, August 19, 1936
16 TRIED FOR PLOT TO MURDER STALIN
Shadow of Firing Squad Hangs Over Grim-Faced Men, Including Founders of Russian Communism, Who Admit Conspiring to Overthrow Government
Copyright 1936 by United Press
MOSCOW, Aug. 19—A plot to assassinate Josef Stalin, leader of the government; Klementi Voroshilov, minister of war, and two other high officials was charged today against 16 defendants put on trial for their lives.
It was announced that the defendants had confessed complicity in a plot to undermine the influence of present Soviet leaders but would defend themselves—having refused counsel—against specific charges plotting assassination.
Leading the list of defendants were Gregory Zinoviev and Leo Kamenev, members of the little group of men who made Russia Communist and sent a shiver through the constituted governments of the world.
Prisoners already, Zinoviev serving a 10-year term and Kamenev a five-year one, they sat before their judges and 200 spectators crowded into the little Supreme Court room in the Georgian Room of the Hall of Columns—the one-time Nobles Club.
All rose as V.V. Ulrich, president of the Council of Military Law of the Supreme Tribunal, entered the court. Andrew Vishinsky, assistant chief state prosecutor, handled the case for the government.
It was ominous for the defendants that it was a military tribunal trial, for it meant they might face a firing squad.
The names of Nazi Germany and its dread secret police, the Gestapo, were expected to be heard as charged with aiding the defendants in a plot to eradicate the government and put followers of exiled Leon Trotsky, former co-dictator with Lenin, in power.
The German Embassy declined an invitation to send an observer, though one of the defendants— Fritz David—is said to be a German. At the outset of the trial it was charged that David had planned to shoot Stalin at a meeting of the Communist International in July, 1935, but that his seat had been so situated that he could not hit him.
Another defendant, Dimitry Schmidt, being tried in his absence, was to have killed Voroshilov, it was alleged.
Two other men were to have been removed, it was charged—G.K. Ordjonikidze, commissar for heavy industry, and Lazar Kaganovitch, commissar for land transport.
Wild-haired Zinoview sat in the first row of the dock among his fellow prisoners. He looked as if already condemned. White haired, bearded Kamenev was in the third row.
Three secret police agents, with bayonetted rifles, were beside the defendants, and through the hall of columns there were guards at every door with rifles and bayonets.
The roll was called. Zinoviev replied curtly to his name. Kamenev, in the usual Russian manner, made a short speech.
The clerk began reading the indictment as soon as all the men answered their names.
Judge Ulrich, who also presided at the trial of the officers of the Metro-Vickers Co. on sabotage charges—an international sensation—was grim faced. Heavy set, wearing a khaki uniform, he sat with three fellow judges behind a table at one end of the oblong room. The prisoners were in a solid square in the dock to the judges’ left. In front of the judges, facing them, defendants and opposite them, on the judges’ right, was Prosecutor Vishinsky.
Zinoviev smiled as the indictment was read. Kamenev was most spirited. But the scene was a gloomy one. It was a cloudy day and the room was lighted by candelabra, once used for parties of the nobles.
Zinoviev. in a subdued voice, said “Yes” when asked if he admitted his guilt. Kamenev, looking like a college professor in his white beard and glasses, also said “Yes,” and added:
“I fully acknowledge everything.”
I.N. Smirnov and E.S. Holtzman, also defendants, both said:
“I admit political and moral responsibility, but did not actually participate in the plot.”
“You were aware, were you not, of the plot?” asked Vishinsky.
Both admitted it.
Vishinsky revealed that the investigation is continuing and there will be a later trial of 10 more defendants.
David, the German defendant, was quoted in the indictment as saying he had met an agent of the German secret police named Franz Wietzer. He said the plotters met at Kamenev’s apartment in Moscow to discuss details of the terror plot to seize power.
At one meeting, David was quoted as confessing, one of the defendants, M. Lurie, told Zinoviev:
“It seems terrible to conspire with these Fascists.”
“You, as a historian, should not worry,” Zinoviev replied.
David was quoted further as confessing that Trotzky instructed him to assassinate Stalin at the Seventh Congress of the Communist International in July, 1935, because Trotzky said it would “cause an international commotion.”
Couldn’t Take Aim
David’s seat at the congress was too far back for him to get proper aim, the indictment said.
The indictment charged that Trotzky’s main idea was to disorganize the Red Army. S.V. Mirach<k>ovskv, another defendant, confessed that its first aim was to eliminate Stalin.
According to the confession of V.P. Olberg, he entered the Soviet Union on a passport forged by the German secret police and had 12,000 Czechoslovakian kronen received from Trotzky’s son. The indictment said that the defendant, S.V. Mirachkovsky in 1936 received direct orders from Trotzky’s son.
Like Beaten Man
Zinoviev was weak-voiced and a perfect picture of a beaten man, in contrast to the famous orator he used to be. He stood for an hour while Vishinsky, looking like a corporation lawyer with his iron-gray hair and decisive bearing, questioned him and Smirnov.
Smirnov sat in the back row of the square block of prisoners. He is white-haired and wears glasses. He broke the grimness of the trial with an answer to a question which caused a ripple of laughter and bell-ringing from the bench for order.
Vishinsky asked him why he said Zinoviev was lying when Zinoviev accused him of direct participation in the plot.
“Zinoviev always was a liar,” Smirnov replied.
G.E. Evdokimov testified that the assassination of Kirov was allocated at a meeting in the Zinoviev apartment when Zinoviev said:
“It is an honor to kill Stalin, the honor belongs to my group,” whereupon the Zinovievists undertook the task.
Loy H. Henderson, American charge d’affaires, attended the trial.
The Pittsburgh Press, August 20, 1936
SOVIETS BOAST OF CONSPIRACY TO KILL STALIN
12 More Are Added to List of Those Facing Almost Certain Death
ONE WOMAN NAMED
Mass Executions Are Recalled as Dignitaries Calmly Admit Guilt
Copyright 1936 by United Press
MOSCOW, Aug. 20—Dramatic details of a plot to kill Josef V. Stalin, Soviet leader, and convert Soviet Russia through terrorism to what was described as a Trotzky-Fascist regime, were revealed today at the trial of 16 men accused of treason.
The leading defendants are Gregory Zinoviev and Leo Kamenev, both pioneer Bolshevists who turned against the Stalin brand of Communism.
All pleaded guilty and confessed frankly and even boastingly to the plot.
Zinoviev admitted that he had ordered his former secretary, Bogden, to kill Stalin.
Secretary Kills Self
While Kamenev was testifying. I.I. Reingold, another defendant, interrupted to say that Bogden was to have been killed by I.P. Bakaev, also a member of the conspiracy, after Bogden had killed Stalin, so that the affair could be covered up fully. Bogden, however, committed suicide without making the attempt on Stalin.
Speaking vehemently, Reingold, a slight, tallish, dark man, accused Kamenev and Zinoviev of moral responsibility for Bogden’s suicide, which he ascribed to unwillingness to kill Stalin.
Kamenev was asked directly by Andrew Vishinsky, the prosecutor, whether he had participated in the killing of Sergei Kirov, Stalin’s old friend and associate, in 1934, for which 115 men and two women were executed and more than 100 others jailed.
Kamenev replied that he was in the Trotzkyist bloc and late in 1932 discussed the plan with the Trotzkyists. He said he had no doubt that Trotzky favored killing Stalin and disorganizing the country by “Jesuit methods.”
Kamenev implicated Alexis Rykov, Soviet commissar of posts and telegraphs, in his group, and said he believed Karl Radek, one of the editors of Izvestia, would have been sympathetic.
In his testimony, Zinoviev implicated Trotzky as a conspirator from his exile abroad—although more in the role of a moral supporter than an active participant.
He denied a break with Trotzky in the period after the Zinoviev and Trotzky groups had split.
“This was not true.” Zinoviev said. “We never did break with Trotzky and never strayed our alliance with his group. We did, however, deceive the party by playing a hypocritical role, on the one hand pledging party loyalty and on the other hand fighting the party with the same weapons as Trotzky, only in a different manner. There simply existed a division of labor between us and Ttotzky.”
Worked with Trotzky
“We were actually a branch of Trotzky’s foreign organization. What he did outside more openly, we did here secretly. We pursued the same purposes but employed different methods.”
“I admit that Marxism and individual terrorism are incompatible but the evolution of our struggle against the party inevitably led to terrorism. The year 1932 appeared to Trotzky as a favorable moment for intensifying out activities. We hoped the country’s economic difficulties would grow steadily.”
In admitting the guilt Kamenev spoke in a professorial manner directly to the prosecutor. In contrast, Zionviev orated to the crowd.
“I am now finally determined to tell all the truth,” he declared. “I have no illusions after my grave past as to the reaction of the court to my words, but I will tell the truth.”
Admits He Lied
Referring to a charge made yesterday by I. Smirnov, another defendant, that he had lied, Zinoviev said: “Yes, I lied often since I started the struggle with the Bolshevist party. I went all the way from opposition to counter-revolution to terrorism and actually to Fascism, because Trotzkyism plus terrorism is Fascism.
The sixteen men on trial for complicity in a terrorist plot against the government may be but the first batch to face the threat of death before a firing squad.
Names of 12 more men and a woman—Safonova Faivilovich—were announced today as held for separate examination and probable trial.
Last Names Disclosed
Only the last names of the 12 men added to the list of alleged conspirators were announced: Gertik, Grinberg, Gaven, Karev, K<uz>michev, Konstant, Matorin, Paul Oldberg, Radin, Esteman, and Schmidt.
Schmidt is Dimitry Schmidt, who, witnesses at yesterday’s trial said, was told off to kill Klementi Voroshilov, minister of war.
It was indicated that the present trial of Zinoviev, once of world prominence as secretary general of the Communist International, Kamenev, and 14 others, would last a week.
It was nearly midnight before the first day’s session was adjourned—in a welter of confessions and mutual denunciations by the defendants of each other.
R.V. Pickel, last of those to testify, said that his co-defendant, I.P. Bakaev, was prominent in the plot but now sought to minimize his role.
This comment was on Bakaev’s statement that one Bogden, one-time secretary to Zinoviev, was to kill Stalin at his office at the Communist Party headquarters. Bogden—who, it was disclosed for the first time, committed suicide—told Bakaev that he could not kill Stalin single-handed and needed help. Bakaev said that he did not aid Bogden.
Bakaev accused Zinoviev of responsibility for the killing of Sergei Kirov, Stalin’s friend and associate, in December, 1934.
“That’s right,” interjected Zinoviev with spirit.
The situation as the trial restarted today was that all the defendants proudly confessed complicity in the plot to terrorize the government but disagreed violently on the roles they played in it.
Testimony yesterday that Sokolnikov, Nikolai Bukharin, editor of the official government newspaper organ Izvestia, Alexis Rykov, minister of communications, and Mikhail Tomsky, head of the state publishing house , all endorsed a plan conceived in 1932 to kill Stalin indicated the importance of the plot. It was recalled with increasing vividness that Sergei Kirov’s assassination caused the execution of 115 men and two women, and brought jail terms to at least 108 people.
Kamenev, testifying today, paid a graceful compliment to the government he tried to overthrow.
The economic situation (which is improving) and the general solidarity of the government, he said, made terror the only means of unseating Stalin because there was no chance of an internal collapse. He pointed out that the government had remained strong through all its difficulties.
Kamenev admitted his part in the conspiracy and said he fully sympathized with Trotzky.
“To name more terrorists might be misleading,” Kamenev said in discussing the ramifications of the plot. Nevertheless, he said that Bukharin and Tomsky were in sympathy and he was in contact with both in 1932, 1933 and 1934.
“With whom of these did you talk regarding the terror?” asked Prosecutor Andrew Vishinsky.
“Only Tomsky,” said Kamenev.
The indictment of the 16 now on trial charged that the main idea of Trotzky, alleged leader of the plot, was to disorganize the Red Army, so that in the resulting confusion the government might be overthrown. S.V. Mirach<k>avsky, one of the defendants, said the first aim was to eliminate Stalin.
Prominent Men Named
I.I. Re<i>ngold testified that Rykov, commissar of communications, Bukharin, Tomsky, and Gregory Sokolnikov, former ambassador to Great Britain, in 1932 endorsed the assassination of Stalin as “the only way to cleanse the government.” Sokolnikov was arrested. Rykov, Bukharin and Tomsky all recanted.
Re<i>ngold said Kamenev was slated to become head of the government; Zinoviev to become head of the Communist Party, and the Comintern, and Bakaev, head of the secret police.
One of the defendants, testifying in response to questioning by the prosecutor, blamed Zinoviev for having failed to shoot Stalin at the same time Kirov was assassinated. He said the plot was to kill them both at the same time and that his group did their job while Zinoviev was “weak and vacillating.” He said that assassination of Stalin was assigned to Zinoviev’s group when in a meeting in Zinoviev’s apartment Zinoviev declared:
“It is an honor to kill Stalin. The honor belongs to my group.”
Uniformed guards armed with bayoneted rifles and holstered pistols stood in pairs all around the courtroom. The guard was changed every half-hour.
Pittsburgh Press, August 21, 1936
YOUNG WOMAN IS SENSATION OF PLOT TRIAL
Bobbed-Haired Wife Shouts ‘Liar’ at Husband, Who Faces Death,
CONFESSES OWN GUILT
‘Safanova’ Admits She Conspired to Assassinate Dictator Stalin
By The United Press
MOSCOW, Aug. 21—Safanova Faivilovich, bob-haired, flashing-eyed woman revolutionary, was the sensation today of the treason trial which probably will end with execution before firing squads of 30 confessed plotters.
She appeared as a witness against 16 men on trial, charged with plotting “at Leon Trotzky’s orders” to assassinate Josef Stalin, Red dictator, and seize the government. But prosecutors announced that the woman, and 12 or 13 additional men conspirators, would be held for separate examinations and probable trial.
All implicated in the conspiracy—and all so far have admitted their guilt—face execution.
Not Yet on Trial
Safanova, about 35, is not yet on trial herself, but admitted plotting with Gregory Zinoviev, Leon Kamenev and others formerly high in the Communist party, and said they were directed by Trotzky, one-time co-dictator with Stalin and now an exile in Finland.
The trial developed a tense domestic drama when Safanova called her former husband, Ivan N. Smirnov, one of the defendants, a liar and accused him of participating in the plot to kill Stalin. Then she added:
“I am as guilty as any of them,” gesturing toward the defendants.
“The idea of terrorism was given us by Trotzky.” she testified. “But long before instructions came from him our group was discussing terrorist methods.”
Safanova quoted her former husband as saying: “Stalin must be killed. Stalin shall be killed.” Smirnov shook his head, and Safanova shouted, “He lies!”
“Unfortunately, there were no witnesses to my conversations with Safanova,” Smirnov countered.
M. Rachkovski, one of the defendants, interjected:
“There are plenty of witnesses to Smirnov. You are lying now, but you will be dragged out into the light by your ears.”
Minors ‘Steal Show’
Unexpected histrionic ability by minor members of the cast robbed the stars of their spotlights today as the trial continued of 16 prominent Bolsheviks for complicity in a plot to overthrow the government.
Zinoviev and Kamenev had confessed their eagerness to climb to power over the bomb-shattered bodies of present leaders.
As the trial resumed today, the audience of 200 in the little court room in the former Nobles’ Club had before them a confused picture of a group of conspirators all eager to kill the leaders, and each visualizing himself as the chief villain of the piece.
But V. P. Olberg was accorded first honors.
Planned ‘Bomb Squad’
Where others said they thought of killing Stalin and others by means of a pistol shot or a casual bomb, Olberg said quietly that his idea was to introduce a bomb squad into a May Day parade, have its student members throw five bombs into the leaders and thus—as the startled audience visualized it—possibly wipe out the entire Central Executive Committee.
Olberg said that he drew up the plan and distributed copies of it, detailed a chemist of the Gorki Institute to make the bombs, and selected students of the institute as bombers.
The students would have joined the gay parade and, apparently, thrown their bombs into the leaders before the tomb of Lenin.
Olberg caused a further sensation when he said that followers of Trotzky in Germany maintained connections with the German police and added:
“I do not deny that I myself was associated with the police now known as the Gestapo” (the Nazi secret political police).
Nathan Lurie said today that he, too, wanted to kill Josef Stalin on May Day. He went to the parade, he said, but was so far from the leaders that he could not shoot.
E.S. Holzman testified that a copy of the Arabian Nights served as a secret code book for Trotzky.
He did not remember just how the code worked, he said.
Last Names Disclosed
Only the last names of the 12 additional men involved in the plot were announced. They were Gertik, Grinberg, Gaven, Karev, Ku<z>michev, Konstant, Materin, Paul, Oldberg, Radin, Esterman, and Schmidt.
Schmidt is Dimitry Schmidt, who, witnesses testified yesterday, was told to kill Klementi Voroshilov, minister of war.
Gregory Sokolnikov, former ambassador to Great Britain, was arrested after testimony yesterday that he endorsed a plot to kill Stalin. All those brought into the conspiracy since the trial started will be tried after the present trial is ended, which will be in about a week, it was indicated.
Kamenev made similar admissions. “I was in the Trotzkyist bloc and late in 1932 discussed the plan with Trotykyists,” Kamenev said. ”I have no doubt of Trotzky’s views and the conspiracy to kill Stalin, disorganizing the country.”
“We were actually a branch of Trotzky’s foreign organization.” Zinoviev testified. “What he did outside more openly, we did here secretly. We pursued the same purposes but by different methods. I admit Marxism and individual terrorism are incompatible, but the evolution of our struggle against the party inevitably led to terrorism. The year 1932 appeared to Trotzky as the favorable moment for intensifying activities. We hoped the country’s economic difficulties would steadily grow.”
The Pittsburgh Press, August 22, 1936
SURGEON LINKS HITLER IN PLOT TO KILL STALIN
Doctor Says Assassination Scheme Originated with Nazi Agent
Prosecutor Lashes 16 for Whom Death Before Firing Squad Looms
By The United Press
MOSCOW, Aug. 22—Direct testimony that a German Nazi agent, acting under orders of one of Adolph Hitler’s lieutenants, originated a plot to assassinate Josef Stalin, dictator of Russia, and Klementi Voroshilov, Minister of War, as far back as 1932, electrified the courtroom today where 16 men are on trial for their lives.
Nathan Lurie, 35-year-old surgeon, testified that a German engineer, Franz Veiz, organized the terrorist plot in which followers of exiled Leon Trotzky joined.
Dr. Lurie said that another conspirator informed him that Veiz was not a Trotzkyite, but was a Nazi sent to the Soviet Union by Heinrich Himmler, then chief of the Nazi SS and now head of the Gestapo, German Secret Police.
Moses Lurie, who apparently is not related to Nathan, partly corroborated Nathan’s confession. He said he knew Nathan had contact with Veiz and he knew Veiz was a terrorist.
Nathan Lurie climaxed his testimony, as he and other accused men continued confessions, with the assertions:
“Veiz instigated the plan to assassinate Stalin and Voroshilov. The assassination of L.M. Kaganovich (Commissar of Transport) and G.K. Orjonikidze (Commissar of Heavy Industry) was my own idea. Moses instructed me to kill Zhdanov.
In 1932, upon Moses’ instructions, Nathan said he went to Russia where he established connections with other Trotzkyists for the purpose of carrying out terrorism. A conspirator named Constant then informed him that a terrorist plot in Moscow had already been organized by Veiz, described as an emissary of Himmler, Hitler’s aide.
Nathan claimed he was shocked by knowledge that the Trotzkyists were collaborating with the Nazis, but later decided that since Trotzky’s purpose was terror, they were obliged to achieve that purpose by any means and to use any allies that could be found.
Told to Kill Zhdanov
Nathan said Moses came to Russia in 1935 and instructed him to kill Zhdanov in Leningrad in the May Day parade. He said Veiz ordered one group of the terrorists to kill Stalin in the same parade, but they were unable to get close enough.
Moses, testifying, said that before leaving Berlin for Russia in March 1933, two German Communist leaders gave him Trotzky’s instructions to increase terrorism in Russia and to speed up armed revolt. He said he delivered these instructions to Gertzberg, whom he knew to be an emissary of Gregory Zinoviev, one of the chief defendants on trial.
Moses described himself as Nathan’s “chief adviser on terroristic matters.”
The prosecution bitterly denounced today the 16 defendants accused of the terrorist plot, indicating that the death penalty is in sight for some if not all of them.
All have freely confessed their guilt. Prosecutor Andrew Vishinsky, beginning his summing up, lashed out at “the contemptible, base, rotten, vile, murderous, despicable band of mad Fascist dogs, dregs of humanity, scum of the underworld, bandits and traitors.”
“It has been proven beyond all doubt,” he said, “that Leon Trotzky was the leading instigator in all their plots and activities.”
The Pittsburgh Press, August 24, 1936
16 AWAIT DEATH IN STALIN PLOT
Law Says 72 Hours Must Elapse Before Sentences Can Be Carried Out
By The United Press
MOSCOW. Aug. 24—Sixteen Communist leaders, including two of world renown, awaited hopelessly in their cells today the brief hours that must elapse before they face a firing squad as traitors. They were convicted of complicity in a terrorist plot to kill government officials.
In the early hours of this morning, V.V. Ulrich, presiding judge at the melodramatic trial, light from the chandeliers of the one-time Nobles’ Club glinting on his bald head, doomed the defendants by saying into the microphones:
“On the basis of the accusations I have cited, the Military Tribunal of the Supreme Court of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics sentences (naming one by one the defendants) to the highest measure of the social defense—shooting.”
It was 2:55 a.m. when Judge Ulrich finished. Seventy-two hours must elapse before the sentences are carried out. The defendants may appeal; but no appeal was expected. All were downcast by a realization of guilt and confessed it in speeches.
It was expected that the next announcement would be the usual brief communique saying that the sentences had been executed.
They will take from Soviet Russia Gregory Zinoviev, former Secretary General of the Communist International, and Leo Kamenev, diplomatist, both of the little group that made Russia Communist.
It was believed that a new group of defendants would follow, including two of equal prominence with Zinoviev and Kamenev — Karl Radek, the most brilliant publicist of Russia, and Nicholas Bukharin, chief editor of the newspaper Izvestia, the government’s official newspaper organ.
The judge, apparently trying to prevent international complications as result of testimony in the trial, banned certain lines of testimony during the final sessions late Sunday. He banned all references to Germany and German Nazi leaders.
Ulrich acted when Moses Lurie cited an alleged remark of German Communist leaders that Stalin might have prevented Adolf Hitler’s rise to power with his German National Socialists.
Unconsciously paraphrasing Gilbert and Sullivan, the judge said:
“That has nothing to do with the case for which you stand trial.”
Following Kamenev’s calm admission that the death penalty was fully justified. Zinoviev began his final statement. Overcoming his previous lethargy and partly recovering his old oratorical mastery as he warmed to his speech, Zinoviev admitted his guilt as chief organizer of the Trotzkv-Zinoviev bloc of 1932, the center of which was to be a terrorist group charged with killing Stalin, War Minister Klementi Voroshilov, and Stalin’s associate, Kirov, who was assassinated in 1932.
“I admit guilt as chief organizer of the assassination of Kirov,” Zinoviev said.
Hits Zinoviev, Kamenev
In passing sentence, Judge Ulrich said Zinoviev and Kamenev, who once ruled Russia with Stalin, were to be executed because they organized as a united front a Trotzky-Zinovist bloc and plotted individual terrorism.
The crowded courtroom waited three hours for the verdict, although few doubted that it would be death for all the prisoners.
All the accused pleaded guilty. In abject speeches to the court, they said they deserved death for the conspiracy. None had attorneys; all acted as their own counsel.
Zinoviev also admitted he was fully responsible for the activities of the terrorist organization up to 1936.
“Of course, my name will not enter history by the side of the names with which it once might have been associated.” Zinoviev said. “It will enter history together with the name of Trotzky but I hope that somewhere it will be said that Zinoviev at the last minute died as a former and not a present enemy of the state. I want my example to serve as a lesson to all who still continue in the path of Trotzkyism. Let them know that 1 did repent as a man who understood his mistakes, and that I was not born as a counter-revolutionary.
Was Pupil of Lenin
“I was even Lenin’s pupil but 1 must say, in this attempt to write my obituary, that even in those times I had a sort of defective bolshevism. Otherwise I could not have fallen so low.”
Kamenev, in his final statement to the court, calmly reviewed his terroristic activities, admitted all charges and asked no mercy. He bade farewell to his wife and three children, who were in the courtroom.
“Be good and follow the party,” he told them.
Zinoviev, tieless, in a rumpled white shirt and with his shock of hair standing on end, in his last statement said:
“Death Is Justified”
“The death penalty is entirely justified and doubtless will be fully supported by toilers at home and abroad, including the embattled workers in Spain.”
He deprecated suggestions of ruthlessness in treatment of the prisoners.
“They only come from the enemies of the proletarian dictatorship.” he said, “for the Soviet revolution is the most magnanimous of all revolutions. I would rather have the death penalty than to watch through prison bars Soviet progress.”
FIRING SQUAD SHOOTS 16 STALIN PLOTTERS
Swift Execution Is Fate of Conspirators Against Soviet Dictator — Five Others Face Same Fate as Government Hunts Out Trotzky Followers
By The United Press
MOSCOW. Aug. 25—Gregory Zinoviev and Leo Kamenev, two leaders of the October, 1917 mobs that established the Red Soviet government, and 14 other co-plotters against the regime, have been executed by firing squads, it was announced today.
The usual 72 hours had not elapsed when Zinoviev and Kamenev, close and trusted advisers of Nicolai Lenin, founder and saint of the Communist regime, and their 14 companions were led out and shot. They had been sentenced to “the highest measure of the social defense—shooting” early yesterday after a sensational trial that revealed a plot to assassinate Dictator Josef Stalin and high governmental officials.
Appeals to the government for clemency had been refused.
All 16 were convicted of fomenting murderous crimes against the state under the tutelage of Leon Trotzky, once co-dictator with Lenin and Stalin but now in exile in Norway. Five other former members of the highest council await trial and probable execution. A sixth — Mikhail Tomskv, head of the state printing trust — committed suicide rather than face the charges.
Today’s dead, in addition to the “Old Bolsheviki,” Zinoviev and Kamenev, who became the first of the Red mighty to be consumed by the Revolution they themselves created, were: I.N. Smirnov. G.E. Evdokimov and I.P. Bakaev, who, like Zinoviev and Kamenev, were serving prison terms for conspiracy when they were tried, and E.A. Dreitzer, formerly in charge of Soviet construction in the Ural Mountains; Sergei V. Mirachkovsky, V.A. Tertervagnian, E.S. Holtzman, Isaac I. Reingold, R.V. Pickel, V.P. Olberg, K.P. Bermanjurin, Fritz David, the conspirator said to have been designated to assassinate Dictator Stalin; Nathan Lurie and Moses Lurie.
The crackle of rifles was a clandestine end to a dramatic trial in which the defendants, one after the other, confessed their guilt, vied with one another to detail their parts in a plot to wipe out the heads of the Soviets in one frightful day of assassination, and asked that the court show them no mercy.
Kamenev and Zinoviev, members of the Communist Party for years before it overthrew the Kerensky government that succeeded the Czars, repented their political crimes and left the courtroom for the prison and the firing squad hailing the party.
Arrested and waiting trial as asserted members of the same conspiracy are Gregory Sokolnikoff, former Ambassador to Great Britain, and M. Sereb<r>yakoff, former high official. Under investigation were Nikolai Bukharin, chief editor of the newspaper Izvestia, the Soviet’s leading journalist; Kary Radek, its foremost expert on international affairs; Alexei Rykoff, commissar for posts and telegraphs, all members of the Communist Party since 1906 or earlier, and Gregory Piatakoff, vice commissar for heavy industries. Their names were involved in the testimony of the defendants and witnesses.
The executed, those arrested and those under investigation comprise the principal and most capable followers of Leon Trotzky in his belief that the Soviet regime should have advocated and worked for worldwide revolution rather than seeking to establish Socialism in Russia so strongly that its enemies from without could not dislodge it.
On this question, Trotzky, organizer of the Red Army and the righthand man of Lenin, and Stalin, the joint heirs of Lenin’s toga, fell out. Trotzky went into exile and the purge of “Trotzkyism” has continued intermittently since.
In December, 1934, Sergei Kirov, government official and intimate of Stalin, was assassinated in the Leningrad railway station. Instantly, the government moved against the remnants of the Trotskyites. Zinoviev and Kamenev, who had been in trouble but who had recanted their errors, were arrested, charged as Trotzky conspirators, and given long prison terms. But the investigation of the plot, of which Kirov’s death was a part, continued, resulting finally in their deaths.
The official newspaper Pravda indicated today that there would be no let-up in the government’s extermination of its enemies. The next step, Pravda said, will be to purge Russia until “Trotzkyism and Zinovievism” is not thought of again.
TROTZKY INCENSED AT EXECUTION NEWS
OSLO. Aug. 25—Leon Trotsky, accused of fomenting the “plot” against Josef Stalin for which 16 Bolsheviki were shot today, described their execution “one of the greatest crimes of history.”
The black-bearded compatriot of Nicholai Lenin, “father of the revolution.” intimated that he would welcome an impartial investigation of his part in the alleged scheme to assassinate Stalin, the Soviet Union’s “Man of Steel.”
“It is my duty to unveil the facts and thereby avenge one of the greatest crimes in the history of the world.” Trotsky, now living in exile here, told the United Press.
The former Soviet War Commissar, who was exiled from Soviet Russia after Stalin had defeated him in a political fight for Lenin’s power, following the leader’s death, said that he was regarded as chiefly responsible for the “plot” and added:
“I am still living, and have the privilege of judicial examination. According to the indictment, my alleged terroristic activity spread especially to Denmark, France and Norway.
“The crimes for which I am indicted are penal in these same countries, which gives me the privilege of appearing before a judicial court.”
Since his exile. Trotsky has been a political refugee in the countries he named — Denmark, France and Norway — as well as the Island of Prinkipo in the Mediterranean.