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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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THE PROPHET UNLEASHED



Deutscher Memorial History Committee

Deluxe Edition, with Original Censor's Remarks

The productive-remunerative rights of the authors have been asserted

2011, Comintern Pressbureau, Jack Reed Memorial Office, New York City

First Published 1968 by Oxford Educational Commune Press
---

FOREWORD​

Continuing in the groundbreaking tradition of Comrade Deutscher's Trotsky trilogy, published in three volumes, The Prophet Armed, The Prophet Unarmed, and The Prophet Outcast, this work aims to explore the career and life of Lev Davidovich Bronstein, better known to the world as Leon Trotsky, following the tumultuous events of 1933.

While this authorial group is grateful for Comrade Deutscher's earlier work, he died before this manuscript could be fully reviewed by the publication committee, and therefore those readers familiar with his style will likely be very disappointed, as subsequent authors, who choose to remain nameless in tribute to Comrade Deutscher, have filled in the gaps as best as possible following his death in 1967. The present work, we freely admit, is both more dramatic and, of necessity, a broader-view picture than the previous volumes. This broader picture is due to the continuing security of the State Archives in Moscow and the difficulty of piecing together much of Comrade Trotsky's activity following 1933. This is not so much because of a failure in documentation, but because of the extremity of the activity. Baldly stated, Comrade Trotsky did not establish a permanent residence from early 1933 to well into 1936, and his travels during this time are nearly impossible to corroborate in some places. As a result, we draw gratefully on surviving letters and documents provided by his estate, and on archival sources in western nations, primarily the Union Commonwealth of Britain.

Censor's notes: Insufficient attention to specific archival laborers. Self-congratulatory tone and reference to excellent official biography of greatest figure of Revolution unnecessary. However, no objectionable material, merely poor writing. Written by committee.

---

I've been wanting to write this for a while, so now that I'm back home, I'm doing it. However, it's late, so even the ToC is going to be second-post material.
 

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Consider me on board, sir!
 

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Smells like Kaiserreich.

I'm on board, comrade. Power to the Soviets!
 

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Prologue

Authors' Note: This prologue is meant for those readers who have not read the three volumes of Comrade Deutscher's work; those who have read it may benefit from a brief review, but may safely begin reading at the first chapter proper.

I. The Personal Life of Leon Trotsky, 1879-1933

One of the salient characteristics of the Revolutionary generation was that the majority of Bolshevik leaders were not of proletarian origins; indeed, Lenin himself was of the Tsar's lower service aristocracy. The one exception to this was the disastrous Stalin, who was the son of a proletarian laborer in Guri, a cobbler named Besarion Djugashvili. Certainly, Lev Davidovich Bronstein was no exception to this rule. He was born to a moderately wealthy Jewish farmer and his wife, David Leontevich and Anna Bronstein, in the German colonies of the rural Ukraine. While the family was nominally Jewish, they were not at all religious; the Bronsteins spoke Russian and Ukrainian at home. It was clear from an early age that Lev Davidovich would not be a farmer like his father, and his family spent a considerable sum employing a private tutor to prepare him for a formal education. At the age of nine, he was sent to a boarding school in the city of Odessa. This experience would prove critical to the future revolutionary.

Odessa at the time was a major port city, more significant as a trading city than any of the northern ports emphasized later under Stalin. At school, Lev Davidovich was exposed to a much more cosmopolitan milieu than the usual provincial Russian gymnasium. His grades for the period were excellent, and he displayed an early aptitude for writing which would follow him through his life. However, he displayed no revolutionary inclinations until 1896, at which point he chose to pursue revolution rather than mathematics.

This pursuit resulted in arrest and internal exile in 1898, at which time he married the first of his wives, Aleksandra Sokolovskaya. Their relationship was close, though more friendly than intimate, as events following his escape from Siberia would show. She followed him to Irkutsk when his four-year exile was imposed in 1900, and they had two daughters, Zinaida and Nina, in 1901 and 1902 respectively. At this time, with Aleksandra's endorsement, he chose to escape from Siberia to the west. He was imperfectly fluent in any of the conventional languages of the exile communities, including French and German, but this was not a great concern given the size of the emigre communities of the time.

At this time, Lev Davidovich became Leon Trotsky, the name of one of his early jailers. This was one of Trotsky's prime personality traits, a sense of self-directed humor utterly lacking in Stalin, whose preferences ran to burlesque humiliation of his subordinates, and only occasionally apparent in Lenin, who preferred barbs driven at anyone around him. Upon arrival in London, Trotsky was exposed to the latter, who was one of the editors of the revolutionary newspaper Iskra. Trotsky contributed extensively to the paper, and lectured to workers' groups in the West wherever possible. It was one of these lectures which brought him in contact with his second wife, Natalia Ivanova Sedova. As a consequence of this meeting, his marriage to Aleksandra Sokolovskaya unravelled. He remained on good terms with her and his daughters, who were in fact largely raised by David and Anna Bronstein in the Ukraine. For legal reasons, Trotsky went so far to change his name to Sedov upon his second marriage in France, with the result that the children of Natalia Ivanova and Lev Davidovich were named Lev Lvov'ch Sedov (b. 1906) and Sergei Lvov'ch Sedov (b. 1908).

Trotsky became associated with Lenin during this period, even serving as one of the early readers of his pamphlet What Is To Be Done? along with Julius Martov, another bourgeouis-origin Jewish intellectual who served on the board of Iskra. Lenin's support actually cost Trotsky considerably, as Lenin was engaged in one of his many feuds at the time with Georgi Plekhanov, founder of the Russian Social-Democrats. Trotsky himself had few quarrels with Plekhanov, considering many of the elder exile's positions to be more reasonable in application than Lenin's, but because of his youth and radicalism, he was considered to be a member of Lenin's party rather than Plekhanov's.

Between his arrival in the west and his return to Russia in 1905, Trotsky witnessed the first of many Party splits at the Second Party Congress in 1903: Lenin and Martov debated whether the Party membership should be drawn from members well-versed in Marxist theory and dedicated to the Cause (Lenin's position, known as the "Bolshevik" position) or a wider membership for wider appeal (Martov's position, the "Menshevik" position). Because of this fracture, the Party was weakened. Trotsky's personal position was with the Mensheviks, reflecting a pragmatism and populism that would be hallmarks of his life. It was one of the earliest statements of the theory of Permanent Revolution, which deserves further scrutiny in itself. "Victory without, then victory within," Trotsky wrote in one of his essays of the period, Thoughts on the Second Party Congress.

However, Trotsky would not remain in Western exile to attend all of the details of the Party civil war. After Bloody Sunday in 1905, he returned secretly to St. Petersburg (modern Leningrad) to participate in the 1905 Revolution as a liaison between the Bolshevik and Menshevik factions. The 1905 Revolution brought forth another of Trotsky's contributions to the Party, the soviet, a non-party elected council. The St. Petersburg Soviet of Workers' Deputies met for the first time on October 13, 1905, during the General Strike, at the St. Petersburg Technological Institute. It should be noted that the Soviet's intentions during this period were more moderate and concerned with improving workers' conditions rather than active revolution, but the Tsarist authorities saw it as a seditious organization and arrested Trotsky once more in 1906.

Like the later trial of the German ideologue Hitler in 1924, Trotsky's trial in 1906 was an opportunity for him to display both the Party's position and his own oratorical gifts. Allowing public access to this trial rates alongside the publication of Marx and Engels in Russian as one of the most self-destructive acts of the Tsarist regime. The Tsarist police organs believed they had restrained Trotsky after this, sentencing him to exile once more.

They were mistaken. Trotsky once more escaped to the West en route to exile, this time settling in Vienna. At this time, he was introduced to the Western practice of psychoanalysis, giving once more a comparison with his main rival Stalin. Where Trotsky could be introspective, and as unforgiving of flaws he found as himself as he was of flaws in others, Stalin was convinced ab initio of his correctness, without any examination or correction from outside. During this period, he founded the future Party paper Pravda in Vienna. Pravda was accepted as a central Party publication in 1910 following the temporary reconciliation between Lenin and Martov, and Trotsky's brother-in-law Lev Kamenev was brought on board as a board member. The reconciliation, and relations between Trotsky and Kamenev, failed shortly thereafter, largely on Lenin's uncompromising positions.

Trotsky found employment during this period for a number of Russian and Ukrainian Leftist papers, including the Ukrainian Kievskaya Misl for which he covered the Balkan Wars as a war correspondent. While in the Balkans, he received notification that Lenin had co-opted Pravda and, after the paper's western publication ceased, had re-started publication in St. Petersburg. He was of course furious, and wrote an intemperate letter condemning Lenin and the Bolsheviks, which was later used by Stalin in the 1920s. He was on good terms once more with Lenin by the outbreak of war in 1914.

Of the two younger thinkers of the Party, Lenin and Trotsky, Trotsky's position was, as might be expected, far more internationalist and moderate: Peace without indemnities or annexations, peace without conquerors or conquered. This was, needless to say, unpopular with Lenin, who wished to see Russia broken and laid open to revolution, and to nationalist socialists like Plekhanov, but it was in keeping with Marx and the general internationalist trend of socialism. He was bitterly disappointed by the national Social Democrat parties' decision to support their respective nations, marking his effective final break with the Social Democrats. Trotsky was one of the delegates at the anti-war socialists' gathering at Zimmerwald in 1915, and shortly thereafter was deported from France to neutral Spain for sedition and pacifism.

From Spain, he traveled to the United States, where he wrote and lectured for several months. His autobiography is conflicted in this period, as he says in various places that he spent little time with the proletarians among the crew, yet in others says that his one friend was a Swiss maid with strong anti-war positions, and yet again that a group of Spaniard boilermen confidently predicted that the internal rot of Spain would soon lead to a workers' revolution there. The most likely explanation is that this often brilliant writer was writing at two decades' remove with the distortions implied therein. Trotsky spent little time in the United States, however, as he was once more called home to Russia by revolution.

In February 1917, the Tsar was forced into abdication, and the struggle for the soul of Russia between Kerensky and the Communists began. A thorough treatment of this struggle can be found in Trotsky's own brilliant History of the Russian Revolution. A bald outline will suffice here. In 1917, the central government changed hands repeatedly, from the Tsar, to Kerensky and the Kadets, to the Bolsheviks, who took power thanks to superior organization and the involvement of local soviets, beginning with the Sailors' Soviet aboard the cruiser Avrora. One of the first tasks of the new government was stabilization in the west, where the war with Germany went on. Trotsky was Lenin's choice for these negotiations, and did his best to preserve as favorable a peace as possible. The Germans eventually lost patience with these negotiations and launched an offensive resulting in the Peace of Brest-Litovsk. This initial humiliation had two consequences for Trotsky - one immediate, the founding of the Red Army, and the other a distant one, a desire to recall the lands lost in 1917 and erase his personal humiliation.

At the same time of this stabilization of the German situation, conservative counter-revolutionary forces gathered throughout Russia, beginning the Civil War period. In response, Trotsky and his nemesis Stalin both imposed draconian measures to take maximum advantage of the Party's superior organization in the face of White factionalism and over the course of 1917-1920 defeated the Whites piecemeal. Trotsky was a hero due to his role in the foundation of the Red Army, and served not only as Commissar for Foreign Affairs, but also Defense Commissar. However, he was absent from the center of events in Moscow for most of this period with the result of extensive political weakness. Only his affiliation and friendship with Lenin preserved him from Stalin's initial predatory maneuvers during this period.

Stalin did, indeed, become increasingly predatory in the period immediately following the Civil War, adopting a militaristic tone and a pseudo-uniform as his daily wear. Stalin had spent the pre-Revolutionary years in a mixture of banditry and conventional Party activism, and apparently welcomed every opportunity for violence. In comparison, Trotsky had spent the pre-war years as a relatively principled pacifist, preferring to avoid such measures as the 'expropriations' where capitalist institutions were raided for money as nothing more than banditry. One of the few points of commonality between Stalin and Trotsky was the harshness with which they prosecuted the civil war - in Stalin's case from predilection, and in Trotsky's case from a hard-hearted resolution that, once violence had been deemed requisite, it must be executed fully and thoroughly in order to avoid further violence from the inevitable failure of half-measures.

Trotsky weakened his position with Lenin somewhat in 1919-1920 by arguing first that the draconian wartime measures be abandoned and then that the war with Poland that erupted early in that year was a poor idea on the grounds that the Red Army was exhausted and the Soviet Union needed to be re-knit while the Western powers, too, were exhausted; however, he led the Red Army as best he could in Poland. The offensive failed in the Battle of Warsaw, largely due to Stalin's inability to follow orders, especially those issued by his rival Trotsky, and Stalin's slovenly attitude toward logistics and pre-battle preparation. This highlights another difference between the two. Where Trotsky was willing to accept Tsarist officers, engineers, and other experts who had accepted the Revolution, Stalin's provincial outlook demanded a total overthrow of the old regime. Trotsky was personally romantic and professionally pragmatic; Stalin was the inverse.

Nevertheless, the failure of the Red Army at Warsaw was blamed on its commander, and Trotsky again found his support eroding even while Lenin supported him. Lenin and Trotsky split over the position of the trade unions; Lenin saw them as superfluous in a workers' state, while Trotsky saw the trade unions as one more form of soviet which should be integrated fully into the state, a position which he would articulate much more fully later in life. Stalin had control of the Party by this time, and was even sufficiently insolent to insult Lenin's wife publicly, a snub which drove Trotsky and Lenin ever closer together. It was not enough, however. In 1923, Lenin died without fully resolving who should lead the Soviet Union in his wake. Shortly thereafter, Trotsky was stripped of his command of the Red Army and sent into the political wilderness with a series of minor committee chairs and technical posts.

He did not emerge from this state until 1925, when he was drawn into Bukharin's United Opposition movement. One of the key positions of this movement was that of the Chinese question, where Stalin argued, and succeeded in persuading the Politburo, that the only force capable of fighting Japanese imperialism in China was the Kuomintang under Chiang Kai-Shek. As a result, the Chinese Communists were forced to follow Chiang's line. The eventual outcome of this struggle was that Chiang turned on the Chinese Communists and massacred them at Shanghai in 1927. To draw attention away from this, Stalin orchestrated a purge of the Party against Trotsky and Zinoviev in November of 1927 on the tenth anniversary of the Revolution, followed by most of their supporters, including Lev Kamenev, in early 1928.

Trotsky was subsequently forced into internal exile, traveling to Kazakhstan in early 1928 before Stalin reversed this decision and drove him abroad the very next year. It was felt that Trotsky's proximity to the Chinese White exile community would have allowed him potential access to a method of overthrowing Stalin, and thus he was sent into exile in Turkey with his wife and their elder son. At this time he was depoted to the Princes' Isles, off Istanbul, where he was kept under close watch by the White community in Istanbul, Turkish authorities, and Stalin's secret police apparatus, the OGPU.

He continued his writing here, formulating the alternative to Stalin's Right deviation that would internationally become known as Trotskyism. It was also here that the decisive events of 1933 found him.

Censor's notes: Insufficient respect toward Comrades Lenin and Trotsky, suggesting that Lenin's route prior to revolution was factional and not unifying. Insufficient discussion of inequities of Stalinite regime in 1928-1933. Insufficient discussion of Stalinite aberrations including planning failures and collectivization policies. No reference to Ukrainian famine of 1928 and Stalin's 'Great Break' movement of 1929 or First Five-Year Plan. No great discussion of writings of Comrade Trotsky. Occasionally dry, but an adequate precis of Comrade Trotsky's life.

---

Apologies for the lengthy, rather dry post. There will be at least one more coming up. I promise there's meat to this thing.
 

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II. The Political Views of Leon Trotsky

Leon Trotsky's views on Communism were considerably to the left of Stalin's, and slightly more moderate than Comrade Lenin's. As an example, in 1921, Trotsky argued that the wartime measures required to keep the Red Army functioning needed to be lifted, as the Soviet Union was no longer under direct external threat and could afford a rational approach to modernization. Lenin himself did not reach this conclusion until the following year and the revelation of the New Economic Program.

Trotsky was unhappy with the NEP, understandably feeling that it represented an intrusion of the market which the Revolution was supposed to have done away with, but also recognized from a strictly pragmatic standpoint that if the Soviet Union's economy was to recover adequately, more than mere compulsion would be needed to excite the workers and farmers. Trotsky and Lenin both favored a carrot-and-stick approach here, providing workers and farmers with incentives to labor, while at the same time threatening non-producers. This is in direct contrast to Stalin's policies of pure compulsion, demanding obedience to state orders without any significant compensation and requiring the meeting of state norms even when the state norms were simply impossible to meet.

This was not the only point on which Stalin and Trotsky diverged. Stalin, in his essential peasant conservatism, insisted that the Revolution must first be perfected within the Soviet Union by an endless series of Party and, later, general societal purges. Enemies of the Party would be stripped of status, punished, and eventually used for "productive" labor. Trotsky, in comparison, argued for an internationalist, inclusive approach more in line with the Menshevik party line even after joining with Lenin's faction. A striking divergence between the two can be seen in the construction of the White Sea Canal, where many of the same technicians which Trotsky had used in his 1920s efforts to rebuild the Soviet Union's broken rail system were again used to build the canal - this time as manual laborers, supervised by untrained but proletarian foremen. Many of them had, in fact, been sentenced to this corrective labor by Stalin as "wreckers" because of Stalin's own policy of obstructing Trotsky in the 1920s.

In comparison, Trotsky, with his wider international exposure, believed firmly that the Revolution could not be completed, let alone perfected, until it had been made global. This globalism was part of Trotsky's concept of the "permanent revolution," a concept which in itself marked a greater contribution to the body of Marxist-Leninist thought than any of Stalin's, as it refined Trotsky's pre-1917 belief that purification of the Party, and increasing radicalism, must of necessity follow, rather than precede as Lenin thought, the general victory of the Party. Any initial revolution would, as in France in 1789 or in Russia in 1905 and 1917, begin with the bourgeois class. However, a bourgeois revolution would primarily benefit the bourgeois class. While it would bring nearer political and economic equality, it would not in and of itself create true equality, which would come only when the proletarian and laboring classes raised themselves to the same level as the bourgeoisie.

Ideally, Trotsky argued, by both word and deed prior to 1917, this following proletarian revolution would be a logical, peaceful continuation of the bourgeois revolution. However, the likelihood was that the bourgeois revolution, once completed, would resist further radicalization, and any proletarian efforts would therefore have to be directed by a vanguard party capable of decisive action. This was indeed the case in 1917, and represented a decisive agreement between Trotsky's occasional idealism and Lenin's occasional pragmatism: while an inclusive party would be able to forge the bourgeois revolution in alliance with the other revolutionary parties, only a committed body of revolutionaries could see through a proletarian revolution without compromise with the social democrats or the "liberals" of the Kerensky regime.

This was the fundamental break between Lenin and Trotsky on the one hand, and the Bukharinites and Stalinites on the other in the 1920s, where Bukharin and Stalin argued, momentarily successfully, that the socialist revolution should be pursued to its fullest in Russia and the associated republics first, then exported abroad once true communism had been reached in the Soviet Union. The problem was that this emphasis on one-country socialism led to an ossification and bureaucratization under Stalin. This insular attitude led to the formation of a new caste of bureaucratic aristocrats, a reactionary Right-deviationist trend if ever there was one. This was made worse by the circumstances of the Revolution.

Trotsky, who had traveled extensively, understood that the Western nations were far more developed than Russia. Moreover, he understood this at an instinctive level. In comparison, Stalin had traveled very little outside of Russia, so while he could conceptually understand, for instance, the power of the German Ruhr valley economic engine, he could not understand how backwards Russia, and by extension, the Soviet Union were in comparison. The cobbler's son and seminarian from Guri simply could not comprehend the importance of scientists, engineers, and other technical experts to an industrial society the way the gymnasium graduate and permanent wanderer from Odessa could.

Trotsky's internationalism also meant that he was far more willing to listen to, and far more sympathetic to, the input of parties outside the Soviet Union. Immediately before his exile in 1928 came the Chinese crisis, where Trotsky argued persuasively, but not persuasively enough given Stalin's already evident stranglehold on political appointments, that the Chinese Communists had far more in common with the Soviet Union than with Chiang Kai-Shek, and that the Communists should be supported instead of Chiang, rather than through Chiang. The evident success of Trotsky's argument in practice, compared with the utter failure of Stalin's, when the Kuomintang turned on the Communists in Shanghai all contributed to Stalin's decision to remove Trotsky from the Party in 1928.

The final point where Trotsky diverged from both Stalin and Lenin was his relative democratic impulse. While Lenin had early been steeped in Marxism and believed that a dictatorship of ideologically sound men was required to shepherd the Revolution, and Stalin's early upbringing, essentially provincial worldview, and seminary education all argued strongly in favor of an autocratic, top-down leadership, Trotsky had early been a populist, only becoming a convinced Marxist in his early twenties. He had, in fact, been a labor organizer long before he had been a Marxist, and his early role in the creation of the soviets bears out his democratic impulses. His reluctant support for the NEP also bears out this argument; he viewed the NEP, and the democratic principles by which he commanded the Red Army, as a way of inciting the peasant-proletarian classes to greater participation through engagement. In comparison, one of the great criticisms found in OGPU files of Stalin's methods during the Great Break of 1929-1933 was that there was no incentive for collective farmers to farm, despite Stalin's taskmasters often literally flogging farmers into the fields.

In summary, Trotsky, while believing fully in a planned economy, believed in a participatory planning model, believed that the Revolution must be continuously, ideally peacefully purified, and that the Revolution would not succeed in one country alone. The planks of Trotsky's platform were therefore internationalism, permanent revolution, and proletarian engagement in the Revolution, rather than Stalin's positions of isolationism, periodic purge, and authoritarian directionism. Neither Trotsky nor Stalin were averse to violence, viewing it as a tool of the Revolution, but where Stalin could be indiscriminate in his approach, Trotsky viewed violence, whether of revolutionary terror or on the battlefield, as a directed force.

Censor's notes: An adequate summary of Comrade Trotsky's positions. Disrespectful to the memory of Comrade Lenin. Discussion of differences of opinion in 1920s suggests that party unity is a myth, should not be found in sanctioned documents. Allowing publication, but with caveat that 'honest history' should not interfere with the Party's work.
 

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Chapter 1: The Return

I. The Death of Stalin

On January 6, 1933, at approximately four in the afternoon Moscow time, Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin was returning from the partially-constructed Blizhny Dacha near Kuntsevo, where he had been inspecting construction on what was to be his country retreat, to the Kremlin in Moscow. The car was escorted by several unmarked vehicles, each carrying several OGPU agents personally vetted by Genrikh Yagoda, the Second Deputy Chairman of the State Political Directorate (Russian acronym GPU).

At the same time, the Tver-Moscow evening train had departed its origin station five minutes earlier than scheduled, a personal success for the station manager, which he hoped would be noted by the Party as a means of securing his advancement. The manager, a faithful Party member since 1928, had no way of knowing that his early release of the train would give another man precisely the opportunity he needed.


Komvzvod Vassili Yevgenievich Marchayev was unusual for a young officer; very few officers of supposedly "White" family origins had survived the 1920s, though he himself had been a lowly lieutenant since 1925. His survival was more or less pure chance, as most of his family had been rounded up in the early 1920s, with the last vestiges being collected during the de-kulakization campaign of 1928-1929. Thus, he knew it was merely a matter of time before the OGPU chose to investigate him personally, and chose to act first.

He realized at the time that he had very little chance of survival or success; no matter what happened to Stalin, it would be unlikely that he would escape undetected. Marchayev was a proficient hunter, and a stickler for rifle marksmanship in his platoon. He had, in fact, been both praised by his company commissar for extreme preparedness, and reprimanded by his company commander for reckless expenditure of precious ammunition. This situation, typical of the Red Army in the early 1930s, was part of what had allowed his survival to this date.

In December, he applied for and received leave to visit Moscow, presumably for assessment for a staff assignment. This allowed him several weeks to survey the route used by Stalin's motorcade when he visited the Blizhny Dacha, and to prepare a blind on the Tver-Moscow line crossing. He estimated that on any given visit, there was a fifty-fifty chance that Stalin would be stopped by the train either because it ran late or because it ran early; at least twice, he was foiled by Stalin's unpredictable travel habits and penchant for late-night activity. However, on the sixth of January, he was in position and watching the crossing at precisely the right moment.

His blind was six hundred meters from the crossing, elevated so that he could see into Stalin's personal vehicle. It was, under the best of circumstances, a very difficult shot with the Mosin-Nagant rifle. Comrade Marchayev aimed carefully, relaxing into the shot and squeezing the trigger, the finest piece of marskmanship in his life. A normal hunt of this type would require two men, one to act as a spotter for the other; however, by himself, Marchayev was forced to wait for the rifle to settle and his hand to work the bolt automatically before he sighted once more on the car. He was fortunate in this regard, because the immediate reaction of the OGPU men revealed the shot's effect.

Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin was shot through the hinge of his jaw, shattering the bone and severing his windpipe. The combination of injuries was painful and fatal, though not immediately so, and those of his OGPU guard who were veterans attempted feverishly to apply pressure to the wounds. He died before the ambulance was able to reach him, and the search for his killer began.


Within the Party, the days immediately following Stalin's death were chaotic. A debate raged in the Central Committee, culminating in the appointment two days later of Grigori Yevseyevich Zinoviev as the General Secretary of the Party. Comrade Zinoviev was an unorthodox choice; most had expected that Stalin's Party successor would be Nikolai Bukharin, but Bukharin was in clear opposition to Stalin's position and was therefore temporarily in disgrace. The same was true of Zinoviev, but the Central Committee decided in an unexpectedly liberal moment to call upon Zinoviev because of his close personal and ideological proximity to Lenin, whose hand was still widely felt in the Soviet Union. Zinoviev's political instincts had also played a significant part in the choice: he appealed to both sides of the debate, playing off fear of the Bukharin camp with Stalin's more lukewarm supporters, and energizing Bukharin's supporters with a terrible fear of rampant Stalinite tendencies in the person of one of Stalin's cronies, perhaps Molotov or Yagoda. Zinoviev was viewed as an acceptable choice to the majority of the Party leadership, with one serious exception.


Genrikh Gregorievich Yagoda was, like many of the Old Bolsheviks, a Jew, and had indeed joined the Party in 1907. However, unlike the vanguard of the Revolution but much like Stalin himself, he was of distinctly proletarian origins, having worked as an engraver before the Revolution. His marriage to the niece of Old Bolshevik Yakov Sverdlov allowed him to rise quickly in the newly-established GPU, where he was maintained by Stalin, Kamenev, and Zinoviev in an effort to supervise the actual behavior of the organization in the field. He was one of Stalin's favorites, and was predicted to be the next Commissar for Internal Affairs, giving him wide-ranging powers.


Yagoda was away from Moscow at the time of the assassination, and immediately called for a general rising against the "left-deviationist counterrevolutionary" government of Zinoviev and, for the moment, Comrade Chairman of the Presidium Kalinin. Surprisingly, there were extensive risings in response to Yagoda's call. Most pressing of these was at the Volga bend itself, in Stalingrad (modern Narodnograd), where Yagoda was able to supervise the revolt himself.

The opening moves of this Second Civil War were a sad commentary on the level to which Trotsky's absence and Stalin's meddling had reduced the Red Army. The one armored corps in the Red Army was concentrated east of Moscow, where it had frequently been used for Stalin's personal inspection, but it was armed with outdated tanks built on Great War lines. It was viewed as sufficient to deal with the danger of rebellion concentrated around Noginsk, but it could not be everywhere at once.

The worst of the rebellion was focused at Stalingrad proper, from whence Soviet forces were ejected by the second full week of 1933. Stalingrad quickly became a barricaded city, a city under siege, as Stalinite forces attempted to find a way of breaking out that did not leave the city exposed to counterattack from Comrade Komkor Kuibyshev's Volga District Corps. Since Stalingrad contained much of the industrial reserves built during Stalin's 'Great Break,' its recapture was essential.

By the end of the month, Comrade Zinoviev began to feel that his hold on power was potentially tenuous, and decided on drastic measures in order to solidify his government's position as the legitimate government of the Soviet Union.

Censor's notes: Overly detailed description of Komvzvod Marchayev. Insufficient details of Soviet government at time, role of peacetime Red Army exaggerated in description of poor state at beginning of Second Civil War. Inappropriate level of editorializing, inappropriate characterization of many persons by archaic religio-cultural identifiers. Acceptable 'popular' work, not appropriately rigorous for serious historical treatment.
 

Deus Eversor

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I will follow o.o


edit: damn atni capslock thingie
 

c0d5579

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This is the AAR I have been waiting for. Thank you.
No problem, though fair warning, there are large HoI2-related bits that I probably won't spend a lot of time on, because there's nothing exciting about them to me.

I will follow o.o


edit: damn atni capslock thingie
Welcome aboard. And what anti-capslock thingie?

Consider me on board, sir!
No! Back to your England-invading salt mine! :p

(Well, all right, those updates take some time to write, you can relax by reading other people's work. From each according to their abilities, to each according to whoever's posted most recently.)

Smells like Kaiserreich.

I'm on board, comrade. Power to the Soviets!
Nope, Mod33, which you have probably figured out if you are going "but what does 'the crash of the similar train' mean?" :p
 

Alfredian

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Great start. Looking forward to more.
 

c0d5579

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II. The Return to the Soviet Union

The conventional image of Comrade Trotsky's return to the Soviet Union is that created by Eisenstein in his film The Revolution Confirmed: a wavy-haired, vaguely satyric man, in Eistenstein's case Nikolai Cherkassov, with "Lenin" goatee and moustache, leather "Lenin" cap, pince-nez, long black leather coat over mustard-colored, rank-less uniform, and black boots, one foot on the rail of the Ilych as the ship pulls to the quay in a battle-ravaged Sevastopol. It is the spitting image of the hero-commissar of the Civil War, returned once more to Russia in her hour of need.

It is also almost categorically false, an image created to stir emotions during the Sino-Soviet War. Similarly, the casting of Yezhov, Yagoda, and every Stalinite leader as Asiatic and conniving rings false; Yagoda, for instance, was a rodent made flesh if his official photographs, which should be supposed to be somewhat flattering, are to be taken at face value, and was ethnically Russian.

Trotsky's return to the Soviet Union was dramatic enough without the addition of all of Eistenstein's details, much like his film October: Ten Days That Shook The World took certain license with events of the Revolution. On the same day that Stalin died, and a week before the news was made public, Trotsky received word in Istanbul that his daughter Zinaida, gravely ill and deeply depressed, had committed suicide in Berlin. Trotsky was deeply stricken; as has been noted elsewhere, he personally could be deeply romantic, and the death of his own daughter put him in a deep state of depression second perhaps only to that after Lenin's death in 1924-1925. He was as close as circumstances allowed to all of his children, and Zinaida had followed him through his various peregrinations, sharing his miseries and his triumphs.

However, Trotsky was too much a perpetual revolutionary to stay distracted by the death of his daughter when word finally reached the White community, and by extension Trotsky, that Stalin had died by an assassin's bullet. He instantly sought out the first passage available back to the Soviet Union; when he visited the Soviet consulate in Istanbul, he was flatly but surprisingly politely turned down. It was not until the first day of February that a messenger from Zinoviev reached him in his seclusion, begging him to return to Moscow and take control of what threatened to be a new civil war between the socialist Zinovievists and the reactionary authoritarian Stalinites under Yagoda.

It may be that he needed the distraction from his daughter's death, for he accepted with unseemly haste. Perhaps he was worried, too, that the Istanbul government would follow the lead of the Germans under Chancellor Schleicher, who had begun a crackdown on dissident factions within Germany. In any case, the Istanbul consulate laid on the only available transport for him back to Russia. In an ironic twist of fate, it was the freighter Ilych, named after his onetime friend Lenin and the vessel which had carried him into exile in 1929.

The flight across the Black Sea was complicated by the knowledge that Yagoda, as Stalin's spymaster, almost certainly knew of the order, and indeed, Yagoda did. He dispatched orders to the battleships Frunze and Parizhskaya Kommuna to find and sink the Ilych, but the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Komflotil Yumashev, wisely held off on obedience until confirmation from Moscow could be had. Nevertheless, the risk of exposing Trotsky to the old dreadnoughts' guns led the Ilych's captain to bring Trotsky to Odessa rather than Sevastopol.


This was most likely a wise choice; while Odessa and indeed most of the Ukraine were under firm control, continued partisan warfare around Melitopol-Kherson made rail travel out of the Crimean Peninsula difficult. Trotsky's presence on Soviet shores energized the Red Army in a way very little else could. He made landfall on February 11, 1933, and was in Kiev by the fourteenth, at which point Zinoviev offered him the government. Trotsky surprisingly refused the office of General Secretary, viewing it as tainted by Stalin, and instead asked for that currently occupied by the nonentity Mikhail Kalinin, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, with a cabinet to be decided later. Zinoviev could certainly manage the Party, Trotsky declared, though he would be wise to avoid drinking from Stalin's cup.

In the general chaos following the beginning of the Second Civil War, Komvzvod Marchayev had been able to escape from Moscow and return to his unit in the Ukrainian Military District; he deserted this post during a movement to engage the enemy in the northern Crimea to set eyes personally on Trotsky. He was by no means unique in doing so, as many of the Ukrainian District soldiers wished to lay eyes on a man who they considered one of their own on two fronts, Trotsky being both the father of the Red Army and from just outside Odessa. Marchayev, however, threw himself at Trotsky's feet upon the announcement that Trotsky had become the new Chairman, confessing his role in Stalin's death.

It was a sore test of Trotsky's authority as head of state; on the one hand, pardoning Marchayev could potentially set an example to anyone who disagreed with his own rule. On the other, executing Marchayev for his actions felt inappropriate to Trotsky, whose instinct was to pardon the assassin for what he viewed as the removal of a counter-revolutionary Right-deviationist and the architect of much of the Soviet Union's misery. In the end, Trotsky went a step further, appointing Marchayev his military aide. When Nikolai Yezhov, a former subordinate of Yagoda's and momentarily head of Trotsky's own security apparatus, protested, Trotsky stated categorically, "If I am ever so odious to the Revolution that it is felt that the only solution is my removal, then I should hope to be the first to strike."


Trotsky's presence invigorated the forces putting down the Stalinite rising in the Volga bend, and two weeks later, he himself was able to congratulate Komandarm Eidemann of the Kharkov Military District, for recapturing the city. Yagoda's remains were found in the bombed-out wreckage of his headquarters, and the business of suppressing the various perimeter rebellions and re-organizing the government could begin.

The first order of business was the cabinet list which he had promised Zinoviev in March. However, the perpetually wandering Trotsky did not return to Moscow until nearly the end of April. He spent the intervening time visiting each of the Red Army units involved in the Western fighting, distributing awards as deserved. Komkor Rybalko, of the armored corps, received special recognition and Trotsky spent quite a bit of time closeted with a cadre of armored officers, including Marshal Tukhashevsky, Rybalko, Nachdiv Rokossovsky, and Kombrig Zhukov, who was subsequently promoted to Nachdiv. He was quite impressed with the armored force, seeing in it a parallel to the Red Cavalry of the Civil War, and a general direction for the future Red Army was mapped out.

The first significant part of that future was the removal of a number of Stalinite holdovers. First to go was Marshal Voroshilov, an officer who was moderately competent under ideal circumstances, but had been on very close, even subservient terms with Stalin. In addition to his duties as Chairman, Trotsky took over the Defense Commissariat, giving him direct control of the Red Army, which he jokingly called his "third son." Additionally, Trotsky removed Maxim Litvinov, People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, from his post. It was not that Litvinov was, like Voroshilov, an ardent Stalinite, though he had held his post for three years under Stalin. Litvinov was rather transferred to direct management of the Comintern. The appointment of a Central Committee member to act as a coordinator of the various international parties marked a break from Stalin's position, and signalled loud and clear that Trotsky was not at all interested in "socialism in one country."

Last to go from the initial inner circle of February-March was Yezhov. In Yagoda's absence, Nikolai Yezhov had begun behaving much like his predecessor, and the Lubyanka cells were full of reported "Stalinites," many of whom had committed the crime simply of voting for the Party as found before Trotsky's arrival. In Yezhov's place, Trotsky placed the Old Bolshevik Lev Kamenev as Commissar of Internal Affairs. It was not that Kamenev was particularly interested in the problem; indeed, compared to Yagoda and Yezhov, and their predecessor Dzherzhinsky, Kamenev was chronically un-interested in the police repressions of the 1920s and early 1930s. What Kamenev brought to the ministry was an ideological soundness that had been lacking, and a strong sense that part of the purpose of the Revolution was justice, rather than mere authority. It was fortuitous for all three of the Old Bolsheviks now leading the Soviet Union: the OGPU files indicated an extensive watch on Kamenev and Zinoviev, and not one but several potential operations to assassinate Trotsky.


The final result of the commissariat shuffle of spring 1933 was that the government bore a distinctly Trotskyist imprimatur. The Commissar of Foreign Affairs was directed to begin the strengthening of the national parties, and the Chinese party specifically received lavish attention, in recognition of the shoddy service given them under Stalin and their continuing resistance to the Kuomintang. This early genesis of the Sino-Soviet Communist alliance would prove fruitful in the following years.

With the government reorganization complete, Trotsky could turn to matters of foreign policy. It was time, to his mind, to begin a revitalization of the Comintern, long languishing under Stalin. With this in mind, he notified Zinoviev that he intended to speak in May at the IX. Party Congress.
 
Last edited:

Red Cesar

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My new favorite AAR. I'm incredibly excited to see how Trotsky's foreign policy differs from that of OTL USSR.
 
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Deus Eversor

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"And what anti-capslock thingie" text formation its on by default

I am surprised Trotzky is so welcome of Zinoviev and Kamenev... IT was for them Stalin had taken power in the first place, btw what about Bukharin?
 

Kroisistan

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I wonder, will there be Trotskyist structural reforms? With those sliders right now it looks like a Stalinist system with Trotsky in charge, which is delicious. I assume there won't be any great purges in this timeline?
 

Nikolai

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Very good work so far.:)
 

unmerged(169228)

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Nice premise for an AAR and detailed as always. Guess we'll see Trotsky face off with plenty of enemies, both internal and external. Is Sergei Kirov still alive?
 

c0d5579

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My new favorite AAR. I'm incredibly excited to see how Trotsky's foreign policy differs from that of OTL USSR.
It will be considerably more aggressive, for one thing.

"And what anti-capslock thingie" text formation its on by default

I am surprised Trotzky is so welcome of Zinoviev and Kamenev... IT was for them Stalin had taken power in the first place, btw what about Bukharin?
Bukharin isn't available as a non-HoS minister choice, so you're out of luck there. Out-of-game, based on his ideological stance, I'd say he has a fairly strong presence within the USSR in the near-future with the return of NEP and de-collectivization.

EDIT - I'd meant to comment on Zinoviev/Kamenev. They're Old Bolsheviks, and during the Purge, Trotsky did at least write on them, more or less saying that he understood the pressure they had been under, and while they were not ideal tools for the job, they were miles ahead of Stalin. Besides, look at that cabinet. Trotsky doth bestride the world like a colossus. Presidium, Foreign Affairs, and Defense? He's essentially replaced the Party with the Red Army (more on that to follow)!

I wonder, will there be Trotskyist structural reforms? With those sliders right now it looks like a Stalinist system with Trotsky in charge, which is delicious. I assume there won't be any great purges in this timeline?
That is correct. The purge events require Stalin as a head of state. The sliders, too, will change, though not out of acceptable socialist norms.

Very good work so far.:)
Thanks, glad to have you aboard.

EDIT - Dutchie, you ninjaed me, so no direct quote. Sergei Kirov died OTL at the end of 1934. He is therefore alive. Since he's the current head of Trotsky's "fourth son," the Leningrad Soviet, and he, like Zinoviev and Kamenev, is an Old Bolshevik, he is fairly safe. He has a bright future in the coming economic push due to his engineering background, as does Sergei Sedov, Trotsky's younger son.
 
Last edited:

Milites

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This is actually very interesting reading. I can't wait to see your take on the Moscow Purges and the Spanish Civil War. Hopefully, the Red Napoleon will take wiser choices than his late arch-enemy did in real life.
 

Sectorknight21

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I'm liking this. I'm liking it a lot. Head of State, Foreign Minister, and Chief of the Army! Wonder when Comrade Trotsky sleeps... :p