Bukharin and his Trial

Nikolai Bukharin, Excerpts from Bukharin and his Trial. 1938


1. The Indictment

2. The Pleas

3. Bukharin’s Last Plea

The Indictment

… The investigation instituted by the organs of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs has established that on the instructions of the intelligence services of foreign states hostile to the USSR the accused in the present case organized a conspiratorial group named the “bloc of Rights and Trotskyites,” the object of which was to overthrow the Socialist social and state system existing in the USSR, to restore capitalism and the power of the bourgeoisie in the USSR, to dismember the USSR and to sever from it for the benefit of the aforementioned states the Ukraine, Byelorussia, the Central Asiatic Republics, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan and the Maritime Region….

Lacking all support within the USSR, the members of the “bloc of Rights and Trotskyites” in their struggle against the Socialist social and state system existing in the USSR and for seizing power placed all their hopes exclusively upon the armed assistance of foreign aggressors, who promised the conspirators this assistance on the condition that the USSR was to be dismembered and that the Ukraine, the Maritime region, Byelorussia, the Central Asiatic Republics, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan were to be severed from the USSR

This agreement between the “bloc of Rights and Trotskyites” and the representatives of the aforementioned foreign states was facilitated by the fact that many of the leading participants of this conspiracy had long been agents of foreign intelligence services and had for many years carried on espionage activities on behalf of these intelligence services.

This applies first of all to one of the inspirers of the conspiracy, enemy of the people TROTSKY. His connection with the Gestapo was exhaustively proved at the trials of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center in August 193 6, and of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Center in January 1937.

However, the materials in the possession of the investigating authorities in the present case establish that the connections between the enemy of the people TROTSKY and the German political police and the intelligence services of other countries were established at a much earlier date. The investigation has definitely established that TROTSKY has been connected with the German intelligence service since 1921, and with the British Intelligence Service since 1926….

The Pleas

THE PRESIDENT: Accused Bukharin, do you plead guilty to the charges brought against you?

BUKHARIN: Yes, I plead guilty to the charges brought against me.

THE PRESIDENT: Accused Rykov, do you plead guilty to the charges brought against you?

RYKOV: Yes, I do.

THE PRESIDENT: Accused Iagoda, do you plead guilty to the charges brought against you?

IAGODA: Yes, I do.

THE PRESIDENT: Accused Krestinskii, do you plead guilty to the charges brought against you?

KRESTINSKII: I plead not guilty. I am not a Trotskyite. I was never a member of the bloc of Rights and Trotskyites, of whose existence I was not aware. Nor have I committed any of the crimes with which I personally am charged, in particular I plead not guilty to the charge of having had connections with the German intelligence service.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you corroborate the confession you made at the preliminary investigation?

KRESTINSKII: Yes, at the preliminary investigation I confessed, but I have never been a Trotskyite.

THE PRESIDENT: I repeat the question, do you plead guilty?

KRESTINSKII: Before my arrest I was a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks) and I remain one now.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you plead guilty to the charge of participating in espionage activities and of participating in terrorist activities?

KRESTINSKII: I have never been a Trotskyite, I have never belonged to the bloc of Rights and Trotskyites and have not committed a single crime.

THE PRESIDENT: Accused Rakovskii, do you plead guilty to the charges brought against you?

RAKOVSKII: Yes, I do….

Bukharin’s Last Plea

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.

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 fatherland….

… At such moments, Citizens judges, everything personal, all the personal incrustation, all the rancor, 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 USSR over its kneeling opponents. I happened by chance to get Feuchtwanger’s book [MOSCOW, 1937 (1937)] 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 world court of judgment: 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 Il’ich, but my counter-revolutionary confederates, and I at their head, endeavored 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….

… 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 USSR May this trial be the last severe lesson, and may the great might of the USSR become clear to all. Let it be clear to all that the counter-revolutionary thesis of the national limitedness; of the USSR 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 USSR and its international importance….

Source: 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 (Moscow: People’s Commissariat of Justice, 1938), pp. 5-6, 36, 626, 648, 696-97, 767, 778-79.

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