IN JANUARY 1928, LEON TROTSKY was but one of many outlaws awaiting exile. Everything was set for one of the grimmest episodes of the Revolution. Only the date, the place, and the problem of safeguarding the famous prisoner from a "stray" Stalinist bullet remained in doubt.
The most I could get out of the Kremlin and Lubianka was that the Rights on the Politburo feared the assassination of the former War Commissar by Stalinist guards--an event which would be likely to rouse the high command and many soldiers of the Red Army. Impressed by such predictions, Stalin withdrew his objection to a proposal that the Politburo take charge of Trotsky's arrest, deportation, and safekeeping in the place of exile. To make sure that no harm befell the demoted leader, the Politburo named two men of unimpeachable character to supervise the proceedings. They were Nicholai Bukharin and the Vice-Commissar of the GPU, Prokofiev. It was up to them to make all the necessary arrangements.
From the first week in January I was in daily touch with Prokofiev, who took great pains to keep me posted. At first it seemed to him that Trotsky, already under house arrest, would be on his way to exile before January lo. But on the eighth of