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Lydia Beidel

GPU Forged Letters Like Krivitsky’s Before

(February 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V. No. 7, 15 February 1941, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Krivitsky murder exhibits the stereotype of the GPU crime. Unhappily for Stalinism, the pattern of circumstances surrounding each of its major political murders has a glaring and betraying flaw, with which, however, it cannot dispense: a written document. The necessity for casting suspicion elsewhere than upon its own bloody head has forced it in each instance to produce documentary evidence of some other perpetrator of the act. That is why, in every case, a letter or several letters appear as “explanations” of the death or disappearance of the victim.

In two major murders preceding that of Krivitsky – the assassination of Leon Trotsky and the murder of Rudolf Klement, secretary of the Fourth International, on July 13, 1938, the technique of the “letter of confession” has been used, each time to the grief of Stalin.

The latest use of the letter has shown only one sign of improvement over the clumsy method employed heretofore. This time, politics and international intrigue are carefully avoided and the suicide tone is adhered to with religious care.

It was because of glaring discrepancies in historical fact and inconsistencies in philosophy and motivation, that the patent falseness or previous “letters of confession” were proven.

The implications of the letter of Jacson, GPU killer of Trotsky, have been admirably and thoroughly treated in a pamphlet by Albert Goldman entitled The Assassination of Leon Trotsky, now available through the editorial offices of The Militant. We therefore content ourselves with only one observation in respect to the murder of Leon Trotsky. The mistakes of that Jacson letter seem to have taught the crime-sodden minds of the GPU one thing at least: to avoid delving into the political ideas of their tools or victims in their letter-writing exploits.

Same GPU Methods Used On Klement

An examination of the letters forged by the GPU and left as Krivitsky’s shows an amazing similarity in important details to a similar letter forged by the GPU when it killed Rudolf Klement, secretary of the Bureau of the Fourth International. Six weeks after the letter, allegedly written and sent in explanation of Klement’s “break with Trotskyism” the dismembered body of the “writer” of the letter was found in the Seine river.

When the Klemcnt letter was first received – before Klement’s body was found – its existence and content seemed entirely inexplicable. The handwriting appeared authentic, even at first to the keen eye of Trotsky himself. Then it became clear that an extremely clever case of forgery had been perpetrated, later substantiated as a forgery by the investigation of handwriting experts in Paris. Krivitsky’a lawyer has with great justification raised doubts as to the authenticity of the handwriting in the letters found beside Krivitsky.

There were three copies of the Klement letter prepared by its authors, each one signed with another of the pseudonyms Klement had used in his political work. One bore the signature Frederic; another Adolf: and the third, Camille. Since the GPU had no way of knowing which was currently used by their victim, they tried to play safe by using all of them. Their error lay in using the oldest and most completely abandoned (Frederic) in the letter which was sent to Trotsky.

Suspicious Aspects of the Krivitsky Letters

In the case of Krivitsky, too, three letters have been left, signed in three ways: Walter Krivitsky for the English letter; Vella for the Russian; and Walter for the German. There is only one explanation for this: a desperate attempt to make these letters look intimate, legitimate and valid. Incidentally, the writing of a German letter to Suzanne LaFollette is a minor mystery in itself, especially since the victim proves his command of English in the letter to his lawyer. The GPU handwriting artists appear to have been determined to show their versatility! It seems to go beyond the point of accident that the elements of each of the letters which could be written only at the precise moment of the crime appear not in the bodies of the letters but in postscripts. The acquisition of a gun and his trip all the way to Virginia to get it are handled as an after-thought, even in the letter to his wife. WEre the bodies of the letters composed in the mood of imminent suicide somewhere else and some time ago, whereas the specific details of his last trip had to wait until the propitious moment and then be added by the murderers?

A reading of the two more important of the Krivitsky “suicide” notes brings several questions to mind: Why the brevity of the note to his lawyer? Krivitsky was supposedly voluntarily terminating a political life; his lawyer is a prominent co-thinker of his in the labor movement; Krivitsky surely would have had something more to say as a final word to such a confidant than the simple words about his family – and again, as in the other letters – the postscript about the purchase of the gun.

Why the tone of the letter to his wife? He offers her no single word of explanation save the silly phrase, “I think my sins are big,” a phrase entirely foreign to the tongue of a man engaged as he had been in the conscienceless intrigue of Stalinist politics for decades until his break with the Kremlin late in 1937.

A New Blunder by the GPU

The most incriminating circumstance, however, centers around the absolute absence in any of these letters of mention of the GPU or any of its agents. The fact of his leaving a note to his wife would indicate, presumably, that he felt moved to vindicate himself somehow for an act which he knew was to bring her intense grief. He had a moral alibi if ever a man did: his persecution by the GPU and the Stalinist parties of France, Switzerland and the United States. Yet not a word, even of pathetic complaint, against his having been subjected for years to incessant terror and hounding, appears in any of the letters. In its recently acquired and legitimate fear of political angles to its murder letters, the Kremlin has bent so far backward that it has fallen once more!

A final highly significant parallel between the GPU murder of Rudolph Kleiment and the violent end of Walter Krivitsky appears in the handling of their personal affairs in the final hours of their lives. In this connection, the mysterious disappearance of another victim of the Kremlin, Juliet Stuart Poyntz, comes immediately to mind. Klement left his table set or dinner, his room in order, his intimate personal matters unfinished when he left his room for the last time. Juliet Stuart Poyntz went for a walk in New York wearing light clothing, left her personal effects and duties incomplete and never again was seen. Walter Krivitsky was in the midst of preparation for securing the safety and happiness of his family by moving them to a farm in Virginia, had applied for the right to protect his life by carrying arms and was in the midst of work which he considered important. In a word, these “suicides” gave no indication whatever of not desiring to continue their lives.

The GPU has executed with much skill another political murder. But no skill can cover up the fatal flaws in its crimes. Even this first cursory examination of the circumstances surrounding Krivitsky’s death makes clear he was a victim of the GPU.

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