100 years ago: Arrested of his own volition

By Alexander Maysuryan

It was exactly one hundred years ago on September 15 that Trotsky was released from the Kresty prison. This was quite logical: Kornilov’s rebellion was crushed, the revolution again swept to the left, the Bolsheviks and the socialists close to them (Kollontai, Kamenev, Raskolnikov, Lunacharsky were arrested …) must be freed. At the request of the Petrograd Soviet on September 2 old style (September 15 on the modern calendar), 1917, Lev Davidovich was released on bail of three thousand rubles.

By the way, Trotsky was arrested almost “of his own volition” — he sent the following daring letter to the Provisional Government:

“Citizen ministers!  I know that you decided to arrest comrades Lenin, Zinoviev and Kamenev. But the arrest warrant is not issued to me. Therefore, I consider it necessary to draw your attention to the following facts:

“1. In principle, I share the position of Lenin, Zinoviev and Kamenev and defended it in my newspaper Vpered and in all my public speeches.

“2. My position on the events of July 3-4 coincides with the position of the above-mentioned comrades.”

Denis’s friendly cartoon, “Trotsky in the Eyes of the Pious Entente”

Of course, the “citizen ministers,” enraged by such a slap in the face, took the bait and put Trotsky behind bars. The well-known Menshevik David Zaslavsky wrote in the newspaper Den:

“If Lenin, Zinoviev and Trotsky wanted to, they could declare themselves a provisional government … But Zinoviev and Trotsky are cowards. They do not want to take power and will not take it … Trotsky and Kamenev will not be at the head of the modern peasant war, and it will step over them. ”

(Mr. Zaslavsky was mistaken, oh, how wrong he was).

“The events of the July days and what prepared them is an infinitely confused and bloody tangle, where frivolity and illegibility are intertwined with direct treason, betrayal and espionage. All this must be understood … And I would not feel remorse, standing along with all revolutionary Russia at the locked doors of Trotsky’s cell. ”

By the way, later, in 1936-1937, the same Zaslavsky would accuse the same Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev in Pravda of … yes, it is not original, treason in favor of Germany, and demand their deaths. This time, alas, successfully. But that is a whole other story …

In the meantime, Trotsky left his prison cell, and the revolution flew ahead. Evidence of the relationship between the first and second? Just the famous words on this score of Comrade Stalin, written in 1918 and printed in Pravda on the first anniversary of October:

“All the work on the practical organization of the uprising took place under the direct supervision of the chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, Trotsky. It can be said with certainty that the rapid transfer of the garrison to the side of the Soviet and the skillful work of the Party’s Military Revolutionary Committee is due first and foremost to Comrade Trotsky…”

So it goes…


Translated by Greg Butterfield



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