Soviet cogitations: 10564 Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17 Philosophized
28 Aug 2011, 20:43
The Moscow Trials and the "Great Terror" of 1937-1938: What the Evidence Shows Grover Furr,2010.
* The defendants at the Moscow Trials of August 1936, January 1937, and March 1938, were guilty of at least those crimes to which they confessed. A "bloc of Rights and Trotskyites" did indeed exist. It planned to assassinate Stalin, Kaganovich, Molotov, and others in a coup d’état , what they called a "palace coup" (dvortsovyi perevorot). The bloc did assassinate Kirov.
* Both Rights and Trotskyites were conspiring with the Germans and Japanese, as were the Military conspirators. If the "palace coup" did not work they hoped to come to power by showing loyalty to Germany or Japan in the event of an invasion.
* Trotsky too was directly conspiring with the Germans and Japanese, as were a number of his supporters.
* Nikolai Ezhov, head of the NKVD from 1936 to late 1938, was also conspiring with the Germans.
We now have much more evidence about the role of NKVD chief Nikolai Ezhov than we had in 2005. Ezhov, head of the NKVD (People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs), had his own conspiracy against the Soviet government and Party leadership. Ezhov had also been recruited by German intelligence.
Like the Rights and Trotskyites, Ezhov and his top NKVD men were counting on an invasion by Germany, Japan, or other major capitalist country. They tortured a great many innocent people into confessing to capital crimes so they would be shot. They executed a great many more on falsified grounds or no grounds at all.
Ezhov hoped that this mass murder of innocent people would turn large parts of the Soviet population against the government. That would create the basis for internal rebellions against the Soviet government when Germany or Japan attacked.
Ezhov lied to Stalin, the Party and government leaders about all this. The truly horrific mass executions of 1937-1938 of almost 680,000 people were in large part unjustifiable executions of innocent people carried out deliberately by Ezhov and his top men in order to sow discontent among the Soviet population.
Although Ezhov executed a very large number of innocent people, it is clear from the evidence now available that there were also real conspiracies. The Russian government continues to keep all but a tiny amount of the investigative materials top-secret. We can’t know for sure exactly the dimensions of the real conspiracies without that evidence. Therefore, we don’t know how many of these 680,000 people were actual conspirators and how many were innocent victims.
As I wrote in 2005, Stalin and the Party leadership began to suspect as early as October 1937 that some of the repression was done illegally. From early in 1938, when Pavel Postyshev was sharply criticized, then removed from the Central Committee, then expelled from the Party, tried and executed for mass unjustified repression, these suspicions grew.
When Lavrentii Beria was appointed as Ezhov’s second-in-command Ezhov and his men understood that Stalin and the Party leadership no longer trusted them. They made one last plot to assassinate Stalin at the November 7, 1938 celebration of the 21st anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. But Ezhov’s men were arrested in time.
Ezhov was persuaded to resign. An intensive investigation was begun and a huge number of NKVD abuses were uncovered. A great many cases of those tried or punished under Ezhov were reviewed. Over 100,000 people were released from prison and camps. Many NKVD men were arrested, confessed to torturing innocent people, tried and executed. Many more NKVD men were sentenced to prison or dismissed.
Under Beria the number of executions in 1938 and 1940 dropped to less than 1% of the number under Ezhov in 1937 and 1938, and many of those executed were NKVD men, including Ezhov himself, who were found guilty of massive unjustified repression and executions of innocent people.
Some of the most dramatic evidence published since 2005 are confessions of Ezhov and Mikhail Frinovsky, Ezhov’s second-in-command. I have put some of these on the Internet in both the original Russian and in English translation. We also have a great many more confessions and interrogations, mostly partial, of Ezhov, in which he makes many more confessions. These were published in 2007 in a semi-official account by Aleksei Pavliukov.
Anticommunist Scholars Hide the Truth
ll "mainstream" – that is, anticommunist – and Trotskyist researchers falsely claim that there were no conspiracies. According to them, all the Moscow Trial defendants, all the military defendants, and all those tried and sentenced for espionage, conspiracy, sabotage, and other crimes, were innocent victims. Some claim that Stalin had planned to kill all these people because they might constitute a "Fifth Column" if the USSR were attacked. Other anticommunists prefer the explanation that Stalin just tried to terrorize the population into obedience.
This is an ideological, anticommunist stance masquerading as an historical conclusion. It is not based upon the historical evidence and is inconsistent with that evidence. Anticommunist historians ignore the primary source evidence available. They even ignore evidence in collections of documents that they themselves cite in their own works.
Why do the anticommunist "scholars", both in Russia and the West, ignore all this evidence? Why do they continue to promote the false notions that no conspiracies existed and that Stalin, not Ezhov, decided to execute hundreds of thousands of innocent people? The only possible explanation is that they do this for ideological reasons alone. The truth, as established by an examination of the primary source evidence, would make Stalin and the Bolsheviks "look good" to most people.
Soviet cogitations: 1015 Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Jul 2011, 15:17 Party Member
28 Aug 2011, 21:39
The documents by Grover Furr I have been reading on Soviet history form another set of examples. Grover is a long time communist, English professor and amateur historian. He has undertaken a project to prove that the original Soviet explanations of the purges and purge trials are being factually substantiated by real evidence (including the materials in the Soviet archives).
Having a particular interest in Soviet history and being urged by a good friend to engage Grover, I have read his stuff. I have to say it is one of the most astonishing projects of pseudo-research I have seen (outside of creationist anti-evolution efforts). I am thinking in particular of one major document by Grover, “Evidence of Leon Trotsky’s Collaboration with Germany and Japan.” It appeared in Cultural Logic for 2009, and it appears on Grover’s site with the simple claim:
“On the evidence there’s no doubt that Trotsky conspired with the Germans and Japanese as alleged during the second and third Moscow Trials of January 1937 and March 1938.”
What follows (when you print and read his piece) is virtually every kind of logical fallacy we have listed above. There is in fact, no evidence that Trotsky ”conspired with the Germans and Japanese as alleged.” And what is alleged is after all both major and very specific: That Trotsky was a paid agent of the fascists, that he conspired to overthrow socialism, kill the communist leaders and help carve up the Soviet Union between the various Axis powers!
I want to say, in passing, that Grover does occasionally debunk the most extreme and deceitful anticommunist claims. There are lots of ridiculous charges (example: that Stalin deliberately unleashed famine in the Ukraine as a form of genocide against Ukrainian people). And Grover does help refute them in some of his documents. But his other delusional work discredits such refutations.
In his specific and most energetic claims (i.e. that the official Soviet allegations in the show trials were credible and proven) Grover has to fall back on misdirection. The only evidence of those old school purge-trial charges remains the “evidence” presented in those trials: the confessions of men in prison, men who facing death penalties, fear for their families and possible torture. If one has a skeptical attitude toward confessions under such conditions, then there is no other evidence of the core allegations.
Grover’s writings do everything we’ve been discussing:
For example they prove (in great detail) that Trotsky and other formed a political group with a specific program, and alliances, and sought to struggle for their line (and for the replacement of the party currents that were then in power). In other words, he proves that there was a political opposition (or rather several) within the CPSU(B) and its various levels.
But, that is obvious to everyone and does not need proving. And by proving the existence of a political opposition you have not proven that Leon Trotsky worked for the Nazis. It is (as the “fallacies” document discusses) an example of red herring, non sequitor, slippery slope exaggeration.
That method appears over and over in much of Grover’s work — he documents and proves all kinds of things with baroque flourishes of detail, but just not what he claims to have proven.
While Grover claims to have evidence, a lot of his case revolves around a “special pleading” about why there actually is no real evidence. He argues that the conspirators would not have written anything down, and evidence would have been carefully destroyed, and so on.
But in fact, it is not possible for a major conspiracy and spy network riddled the Soviet Union in service to the Axis government without some evidence (if only in Nazi records) — conferences, reports, directives, funding records… as the news of this conspiracy went up and down the Nazi chain of command.
The fact that six decades of historical research (including into German, Japanese and Soviet government archives) has not produced any evidence of a vast complex espionage operation (of the kind the Soviets alleged) shows that there was no such operation.
The Trotskyist opposition was a political line struggle within the ruling Soviet party. Their political program may well have been disastrous (and I believe it was), but the Stalin-era assertion that oppositionists were secret Nazis was wrong (politically, theoretically and factually) — even if Stalin himself may have believed it and then demanded that subordinates document it.
Grover also makes a classic “excluded middle” argument: by saying that anyone opposing his arguments is therefore clearly influenced by the anticommunist arguments — as if these historical matters exist on a simple binary grid where you either agree with Vyshinsky (channeled through Grover Furr) or take your side with Robert Conquest. And so in Grover’s work, other analyses of these events (by scholars known for not being anticommunist) don’t make much of an appearance.
Grover also lavishly argues using “weasel words,” “proof by verbosity” (seemingly endless verbosity) and “appeal to authority” (both his own and Stalin’s).
I’m particularly struck by the argument (that has appeared in various places) that we have to accept Grover’s scholarly authority because he has spent years on this mission, read in the Soviet archives personally, and because we don’t ourselves speak Russian in order to dissect the primary material. This is all logically false.
First, Grover is hardly the only person who had plumbed those archives — and there are major works that provide many key documents in English so that we can all explore key and revealing sections of the primary material. I’m thinking, in particular, of J. Arch Getty’s The Road to Terror: Stalin and the Self-Destruction of the Bolsheviks, 1932-1939
Further, those communists who defended the purges and show trials “down the line” were (for sixty years) totally disinterested in data and evidence — and were rather militant about proclaiming their beliefs without evidence. They didn’t care about evidence. And for someone to claim now (suddenly) that none of us (not one) has any right to an opinion here without learning Russian (!) and spending years in Moscow archives…because we (supposedly) just don’t know the evidence… And at the same time, to claim that the massive evidence against their own theories must be permanently suspect (because it comes from KGB controlled archives). Well, the switcheroos and double-think are a bit much to bear.
It is not as if the Russian archives are a new thing — they have been open for literally decades. Or as if no honest man (other than Grover Furr) has gone there. If there was really any new real evidence establishing the existance of a big world-circling Nazi-Trotsky network of spies and assassins — don’t you think it would have leaked into public view?
It has even been mentioned in discussion that Grover Furr has gotten publicity for his views within the modern Russian press where interviews with him are published. So? That is an example of the logical fallacy called “the bandwagon effect” — and I have to add that getting a theory promoted in the Russian media is hardly evidence of credibility. Russian politics is notorious for its love of crackpot and paranoid theories of many kinds (especially if they, unlike Grover’s theories, have an anti-Semitic underbelly).
It would take a month to dissect Grover’s article on the Trotsky-Nazi connection, and unravel all the various levels of misdirection. But the fact remains that there is not embedded in it any piece of evidence (at all!) that documents his claims.
I have asked him (several times) to simply email me a one or two sentence message that mentions the single fact that he believes best documents this alleged conspiracy. And I’m still waiting. We don’t actually need seventy pages of hemming and hawing — a one paragraph description of one real documented fact would suffice to put Grover’s theory on a different plane (a report in a nazi file, a pay stub, a memoir from one of the architects of the conspiracy, one eye witness account that isn’t a prisonhouse confession… one simple real piece of evidence of any kind of the actual allegations that Grover says are confirmed.)
Here too the issue really is line and avoidance of line:
Stalin claimed that antagonist classes had disappeared in the 1930s Soviet Union and so the only material basis for widespread opposition was the actions of old class elements who had wormed their way into power in close alliance with paid agents of foreign enemies. It is a particular theory about the political oppositions within the Communist Party.
Mao by contrast (based on an assessment of both Stalin’s theories and Soviet history) concluded that there was a material basis within socialism and within the Communist Party for “capitalist roaders” to emerge and contend for power. It is an opposing theory.
By announcing that the official Soviet explanation for their purges were factually correct, Grover is making a statement on a crucial (dare I say world historic) question of “where to the forces of capitalist restoration come from?” And he does so in the guise of an objective scholarly exploration of historical evidence — and so does not engage his own views of this theoretical question, and does not seriously engage the Maoist counter-position.
It is a two-line struggle over a major question waged (among communists) using a method of bogus factual “proof” based on bogus claims of obscure evidence.