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The New International, September 1947


Leon Trotsky – In Memoriam


From The New International, Vol. XIII No. 7, August 1947, p. 163.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


In August of 1940, Frank Jacson-Mornard, a selected agent of Stalin’s secret police, made his way into Leon Trotsky’s study and murdered Lenin’s co-worker with an alpenstock. The act was a fulfillment of an old plan which was worked out in the Kremlin by the Russian dictator himself. The vengeful Stalin could not be at peace so long as the powerful voice of the October revolution remained alive in the person of Leon Trotsky. Though he had won the victory in the struggle against the Russian Left Opposition, though his blood-stained dictatorship remained all-powerful, Stalin feared his defeated foe.

Stalin had wiped out a whole generation of revolutionaries – the men of October. He had murdered Lenin’s companions and co-workers through the infamous frameup trials. Only Trotsky had escaped his macabre net, and he only because Stalin believed that his deportation from Russia would destroy the respect and admiration which tens of thousands of revolutionary workers had for the organizer of the Red army and the president of the first soviet in world history. But the deportation of Trotsky merely tore the veil which hid from the world the turbulent events inside of Russia reflected in the struggle between the new and powerful bureaucracy with Stalin as its leader and the old generation of Bolsheviks.

Trotsky made use of his freedom from the GPU to write voluminously of the Stalinist betrayal of the Revolution. In his person, the great theories of Marxism remained alive and by his work a new generation of revolutionary socialists was born to continue the work of an International now dead.

The deportation of Trotsky was an act which Stalin deeply regretted. Not a day passed when he did not seek some way to still the Voice of October. He hounded Trotsky across the continent of Europe. He framed the Bolsheviks in trials which he had hoped would wind their nets around the most intransigent figure of them all. And yet he failed. When Trotsky reached his Mexican haven, the Kremlin dictator moved more swiftly and with greater certainty. All else had been wrong; every plan had gone awry. It was necessary to end the life of the hated Marxist leader – that was the only way out!

The Event Behind the Murder

The political premise was laid for the act of murder. Stalin had signed his blood-pact with Hitler; Russia became in effect the ally of fascist Germany! The second world imperialist war had begun with the invasion of Poland and its division between Stalin and Hitler. There was no better time than this to settle scores with the lone fighter against the bureaucracy and the hangmen of the revolution.

Trotsky knew what Stalin wanted. He wrote more than once that an attempt would be made on his life. The war, Trotsky wrote, would make this deed all the more necessary, for Stalin could not rest until Trotsky was silenced.

The first attempt on his life was made in May 1940. But the plans of the attackers, organized by the GPU in Mexico and led by David Siquieros, a leader of the native Stalinist Party and noted painter, misfired. They did not get Trotsky in their furious machine-gun assault on his room, where he slept with his wife, Natalia Sedov. But they did murder Robert Harte, one of Trotsky’s guards. They destroyed the unknown Harte because it was he who admitted the gang into the yard. and this he did only because he recognized a “friend.” This “friend” could have been none other than Jacson-Mornard who already had gained access to Trotsky.

The failure had to be made good, demanded Cain Stalin. And the GPU in Mexico responded; it knew the penalty of another failure. But its success marked the deed all the more as the product of the immense power and resources of the GPU. The effort of the Stalinists to describe Jacson-Mornard as a Trotskyist who had a falling out with his leader was so patently absurd that nobody believed it. An incredulous world knew that the real murderer sat in the Kremlin in his military tunic.

The Murderer in the Kremlin

But if there was any doubt in some minds that Stalin was the real murderer of Trotsky, this doubt is now dispelled by Louis Budenz, ex-editor of the Daily Worker, and re-converted Catholic. In his book, This Is My Story, he revealed that he was an “innocent” accomplice in the Trotsky murder plot, with which he was fully familiar. It was he who served as the first link which led Jacson-Mornard into Trotsky’s Mexican home. He had known for a long time who the murderer was, and although he has not yet told the whole story, the main links in the chain have already been constructed.

In the meantime, the assassin sits in a Mexican jail serving a twenty-year sentence. Writing from Mexico, Victor Serge describes how this GPU triggerman lives an easy and well-provided-for life in prison. He has an inexhaustible supply of funds; his relations with the Mexican Communist Party are extremely close. For while he is in jail, the GPU is taking good care of his welfare.

Stalin may find personal satisfaction in realizing his revenge upon the one Bolshevik leader who defied the brutal, Byzantine regime that the despot constructed with the aid of an equally brutal bureaucracy which has enslaved the Russian masses. But the rush of history will engulf this tyrant in repayment for his crimes against the working class and all humanity. And the victory of world socialism will be justice enough for Leon Trotsky.

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