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New Militant, 30 May 1936

Persecuted by Stalin

The Honor Roll

From New Militant, Vol. II No. 21, 30 May 1936, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


We have long been uneasy about Solntzev. Recent letters bring us the grave news of his being hounded to death ... Still a young man (he was not more than 35 years old), Solntzev was among the most talented, true, and authoritative Bolshevik-Leninists. On his return from a mission to the U.S.A. in 1927–1928 where he went, we believe, with Pyatakov, he was shortly arrested, and sent to an isolator for 3 years, then received an additional term of 2 years, serving this term in Verkhne-Uralsk; he was freed after the mass hunger strike of the Oppositionists against the added automatic “sentences” to new prison terms, and was exiled either to the Northern part of the Urals or Western Siberia (we are unable to recall the precise place) to an utterly forsaken spot, where he found himself absolutely alone, and of course doomed to total unemployment. Almost no letters at all reached him, letters from him to his friends would arrive in the ration of one out of three. His wife and child were exiled to Minyusinsk – the disingenuous bureaucrats still sought to break the fighter by destroying his personal life. In the middle of 1933, Solntzev was once again arrested in exile where he could not have failed to have been politically inactive. He was given a new sentence: 5 years in the isolator, to which he immediately replied by a hunger-strike to death if need be. On the 18th day of the hunger strike he was informed that the sentence had been revoked. Death was nearing, and the executioners became “embarrassed.” For, the news would spread! Solntzev was given exile to Minyusinsk, i.e., the possibility to see his wife and son. Still convalescing, he was sent off under police convoy, together with criminals, in prison cars, from one sinking transport jail of the old regime to the next. En route, in Novosobirsk he had to have an emergency operation. He had an inflammation of the middle ear, and he died on an infirmary cot in January, 1936.

It is impossible to convey in words the meaning of this loss to the Russian communists. His image will have to be restored; we will always remember him. As a theoretician, as an exemplary personality, crystal pure in character, as an unwavering proletarian revolutionist, capable of bearing up under everything and of sacrificing everything for years, Solntzev left an indelible impression upon everybody who knew him. We in Russia considered him as possibly the outstanding of our young and future leaders.

The writer of these lines doesn’t like to exaggerate, and knows the value of words – he also knows that it was impossible to overestimate Solntzev.

They tormented him to death. They also knew him, and they evaluated him in their own fashion.

* * *

Vassili Feodorvich Pankratov

V.F. Pankratov is one of the most devoted and influential of Russian Oppositionists. A former sailor in the Baltic fleet, participant of the revolution in Kronstadt, delegate of the Kronstadt Soviet to Kerensky, participant of the civil war, important member of the Cheka and the G.P.U., Oppositionist since 1923, vice-chairman of the Trans-Caucasian collegium of the G.P.U., he was arrested as a Bolshevik-Leninist in 1928 and sentenced to three years imprisonment. Upon the expiration of the term in Verkhne-Uralsk, in view of his upright character, he received an additional term of 2 years. In 1933 he was freed and exiled to Orenburg, where his wife Elizabeth Senatskaya also resided in exile. She was in reality not a party member, and was exiled solely because she was Pankratov’s wife. In Orenburg, Pankratov worked as an economist in Zagotzerno, and quickly earned the confidence of the management of this institution as a trusty and exemplary co-worker. He was arrested after the Kirov affair, without the slightest pretext for new persecutions, discounting of course, the “legal” pretext of his remaining true to his convictions. Pankratov served four to five months in complete isolation. His pregnant wife had absolutely no news from him during this time. Later we learned that Pankratov was once again in the Verkhne-Uralsk prison for a five-year term, to which he was sentenced after an absolutely monstrous and cruel investigation and trial, about which we cannot say anything now. He was recently lodged in the prison in a common cell with L.B. Kamenev, Smilga, and Slepkov.

The name of Pankratov must become widely known to the proletarian revolutionists, as the name of one of the most valuable and courageous representatives of the October traditions In the U.S.S.R. whose life must be protected from the Stalinist stranglers.

* * *

Lado Dumbadze

L. Dumbadze is an old Georgian Bolshevik, participant in the civil war. wounded at the front, arrested several times, committed to prisons and exiles. He fell gravely ill, after receiving a long prison term in 1934 as a Bolshevik-Leninist and being sent to Susdal prison. The prison regime caused an extreme aggravation of a condition resulting from a wound he received at the front. Dumbadze began gradually to lose the ability to move both his hands. Comrades in the cell had to dress him, feed him, etc. The prison commission of the G.P.U. headed by Andreyeva, on one of its inspection tours, promised to arrange medical treatments for him. As a result, he was shortly transferred to the Butyrski infirmary in which, for technical reasons, he could not receive treatments. Then his martyrdom began. The half-paralyzed veteran was shunted – and under what conditions! – from exile to prison, from prison to exile; he is brought to unequipped infirmaries, and suddenly thrown out and left to his own devices. In February and March 1936 he turned up in exile in Sarapul, all alone – there are no comrades there, so that he has nobody to help him even to dress or undress; he has no resources (the G.P.U. dispenses unemployment “relief” of ... 40 rubles a month, while a kilo of bread costs 1 ruble, and a corner in a lodging room not less than 30 rubles); he is helpless, made a wreck by a progressing disease.

A tragic letter of his circulated in exile; it is written as a child writes, in printed letters.

If from nooks and corners of the entire world there does not rise the voice of the advanced representatives of the working class, demanding that Lado Dumbadze, a veteran of the October Revolution be given immediate medical treatment and an opportunity to live like a human being, even within the walls of the bureaucratic prisons, then our comrade is doomed to die shortly.

* * *

Mikhail Bodrov

A Moscow worker, soldier in the Red Army during the civil war, Bolshevik-Leninist. Early in 1928, after L.D. Trotsky was exiled to Alma Ata, comrade M. Bodrov was sent by the organization to Alma Ata to serve as a contact between Moscow and L.D. Trotsky. Assuming the appearance of an Ural peasant, with a beard and proper papers, M. Bodrov obtained horses and wagon and used to make regular trips as coachman between Alma Ata and the nearest railway station (city of Frunze, more than 20 versts distant). Under very difficult conditions, comrade Bodrov gave proof of great firmness, coolness and skill. Solving his task in a splendid fashion, he assured a connection for L.D. Trotsky with Moscow, at the most difficult point. After maintaining himself almost a year, comrade Bodrov was arrested in connection with another “case” but was also “exposed” as the coachman. He sat for several months in various jails, and then was exiled. Arrested once again, he spent three years (1931–1934) in the Verkhne-Uralsk prison. At present he is in exile. Other reports say that he has been sent to a concentration camp.

* * *

Gregory Stopalov

Entered the party in 1917, and while still a student participated actively in the revolutionary struggle in the Ukraine. During the civil war worked in the Ukraine, in particular, underground under Denikin.

A Bolshevik-Leninist since 1923, comrade G. Stopalov graduated the Institute of “Red Professors.” An excellent economist, author of a number of scientific works, G. Stopalov is one of the outstanding young oppositionists. A number of programmatic and other important documents of the basic kernel of the Bolshevik-Leninists in the Verkhne-Uralsk isolator come from the pen of comrade Stopalov.

After serving three years in prison – 1929–1932 – comrade G. Stopalov had hardly managed to settle down in his new place of residence when he was again arrested and once more sentenced to three years in prison.

In 1933, comrade Stopalov’s wife, comrade Leinberskaya, was also clapped in jail. She is an active Oppositionist, member of the party since the civil war, a former teacher in a party school.

In Orenburg Exile

In Orenburg exile there are at the present time a number of outstanding comrades of the Communist Opposition (Bolshevik-Leninists): B.M. Elziu, an old Bolshevik, Lida Svalova, I. Belenki, I. Byk, V.M. Cherykh, F.A. Upstein, Leonid Guirshek. Last year B.I. Lyakhovitsky and A.S. Santalon were taken from exile and placed in a concentration camp. All these comrades are devoted, firm, and convinced Communist Oppositionists, several of them outstanding leaders. There have already been forged in exile and prisons remarkable, devoted and deeply convinced revolutionists, who bear up with extraordinary firmness under systematic strangulation.

After the Kirov affair, there were arrested the following comrades who had recently left the prisons and who received new long prison terms: V.F. Pankratov (served 5 years; received another 5 years; his wife and child have been exiled to Astrakhan) and Ch.M. Pevzner (served 4 years, received 5 years additional).

Here are also to be found, at least until recently, several dozen exiled “Trotskyists,” former Oppositionists, who had capitulated long ago, or who had secondary differences with the ruling group. Their names: Mdineradze (professor of philosophy), B.D. Prozorov (history instructor from Dnepropetrovsk), Kaznacheyev (in December 1935 finished his term of exile, after a concentration camp, and now again arrested, after four months), Dimitrieff (history teacher in the high schools of Ivanovo-Voznesensk, recently again sent to concentration camp), Udin, Radin, M.R. Sorokina (she recently concluded her exile, and was freed) Solovyan, and Chernoborodov. They all call themselves supporters of the general line of the party.

Among the “Right Communists”: I.G. Bocharov (he recently received “minus 15”; after serving a three year term of exile).

Among the Mensheviks; G.D. Kuchin, Goldberg, the Esthonian Zommer, who arrived from prison and was recently again arrested (he will probably be taken to a concentration camp). There are also several S.R.’s. Of the S.R.’s here, a member of the C.E.C., Gerstein dead more than a year ago. He received permission to go for a cure to Kazan on the day he died. Several socialists have been sentenced to a new term of exile for having sent in their time letters to the French Socialist and Communist papers, hailing the united front – which was done of course not without the tacit consent of the powers that be.

Of the Georgian social democrats there is the old man Ramishvili.

Among the anarchists; A.A. Inaun, Kornilov (recently ended his exile), P. Sokolov. (In the last ten years [he] has made the rounds of almost all the concentration camps in the U.S.S.R.) Sokolov is a Leningrad worker, a house painter, exiled for consorting with students.

Represented here are also Communists from among the national minorities and Zionists. The overwhelming majority of the worker-communist population in exile, including the “general-liners,” i.e., former oppositionists, the “supporters of the general line” have been arrested for “careless” remarks. Out of approximately 150 exiles in Orenburg, they comprise about 100. They are very little developed and passive individuals.

Here are also more than a thousand Leningraders, exiled after the Kirov affair. Among them, there are many women, old men and children.

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