Ritual of Liquidation: The Case of the Moscow Trials

By Nathan C. Leites; Elsa Bernaut | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 16 The Incompleteness of Action

The defendants did not always agree to present their past oppositional tendencies as completed in "consequential" fashion, according to the rule of translation discussed in Chapter 10. Many of them repeatedly conveyed what Piatakov expressed when he said about himself and Radek in 1935:

". . . [we had] the feeling that we had got into a blind alley. . . . both he and I, to a certain extent, pursued an ostrich-like policy--we hid our heads in the sand but did nothing of importance."1

That is, in various forms the defendants affirmed that their oppositional activity had been slight.2*

Sometimes a defendant stated clearly that some particular but typical meeting had led only to talk.

In his speech for the prosecution in the first trial, Vishinsky quoted a statement by Kamenev:

". . . Zinoviev told me that Safarov had visited him and had proposed some sort of a bloc. I said that I would not take part in any bloc because I never believed that man. . . . I was not opposed to talking. I talked."3

Questioning Bukharin about his alleged terrorist plans against Lenin-Stalin- Sverdlov in 1918, Vishinsky asked:

VISHINSKY: And did you not count upon the arrest of Comrade Stalin in 1918?

BUKHARIN: At that time there were several talks about . . . [dots in the text].

VISHINSKY: I am not asking about talks, but about a plan for the arrest of Comrade Stalin.

BUKHARIN: . . . I do not agree with your description of it as a plan. . . . it was not a plan, but a talk.4

Bukharin had replied similarly, though less clearly, when Vishinsky questioned him about the alleged defeatism of the Tukhachevsky group:

VISHINSKY: . . . Kork, Tukhachevsky and the Trotskyites generally intended to open the front in case of war with Germany . . .?

BUKHARIN: Yes . . . there was such an opinion among them.

VISHINSKY: An opinion or a plan?

BUKHARIN: I would not say a plan. Perhaps it was a plan, but in a very cursory conversation. . . .5 [dots in the text].

-235-

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