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Labor Action, 5 April 1948


“Of His Subsequent Fate I Heard Nothing”

Natalia Trotsky Receives Word About Her Son ...


From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 14, 5 April 1948, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


(From a Russian Non-Returnee in Western Europe. Name and address known to the Editors.)


To Natalia Ivanovna Sedoff-Trotsky

Most Respected Natalia Ivanovna – – –

Having quite by chance recently learned your address, I, a person not known to you, consider it my duty to convey to you the information which I have on the fate of your younger son (I believe a chemist by profession) who remained in the USSR and worked, if memory serves me right, in the Scientific-Research Institute (branch) either in Krasnoyarsk, Omsk or perhaps Tobolsk, in a word, somewhere in Siberia.

At the end of 1936 or at the beginning of 1936 during the mass liquidation of the so-called Trotskyists your son was arrested. In September of 1936 I already encountered him in the concentration camp of Vorkutstroy [1] (at that time still known as Vorkutpetchlag), situated in the Far North, in the Arctic, on the shores of the Barents Sea. He impressed me as a gentle, quiet, cultured young man but quite removed from active politics. Being of rather delicate health, he was relieved from work in the mine and was assigned to cleaning the barracks of the prisoners. During the mass hunger strike (of some 700 persons) unheard of in the history of political prisons and deportations, which lasted 104 days, your son took part in it out of solidarity. During the trial of Bucharin, Rykov, Radek and others (at the beginning of 1937 [2])your son, along with some prominent leaders of the Trotskyist opposition, was ordered to be immediately brought to Moscow.

I cannot describe here the unforgettably dramatic scenes which took place during the forcible removal of your son and of the others from the barracks of the hunger-strikers. Suffice it to say that for almost half a day the special police of the NKVD tried to seize those they wanted and could not. And only with the help of the camp bandits and murderers (the so-called socially near elements) who were given arms by the Third Department and promised some special privileges, were wanted men, among them your son, forcibly and brutally taken. They were led away by a convoy consisting of the same armed criminal murderers, of course, under the command of a trustee of the Third Department.

As I was told later, not far from Ust-Usa or in Ust-Usa itself your son, unable to stand the abuse by the guards, either struck one of them or expressed his protest in some other way. In the scuffle that followed, one of the guards-bandits fired and shot your son through the leg. Wounded, he was carried further in the direction of Moscow. Of his subsequent fate I heard nothing.

Most respected Natalia Ivanovna! In writing this brief account to you I am moved by the best of feelings to convey to a mother the last bit of news no matter how grave on the fate of her son. I beg you therefore do not take it amiss. And if you have any later information concerning your son, I would be most grateful to learn about it.



Notes by Labor Action

1. The Vorkutstroy concentration camp contains hundreds of thousands of prisoners engaged in the mining of coal and in laying a railroad connecting with Leningrad.

2. Here obviously the writer made a mistake in date since the Bucharin, Rykov trial took place not at the beginning of 1937 but at the beginning of 1938.<</p>

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