Historic discovery of Left Opposition manuscripts from the early 1930s
Vladimir Volkov and Clara Weiss
27 August 2018
In February 2018, some 30 hand-written documents of imprisoned members of the Trotskyist Left Opposition from the years 1932-1933 were found in the Verkhneuralsk prison in the Southern Urals of Russia. Most of them were written in notebooks. The documents were discovered during maintenance work under the planks of the floor in chamber No. 312 of the prison.
Only a small portion of the Trotskyist opposition’s literature that was written in the Soviet Union in this period has hitherto been known. The Stalinist secret police, the OGPU-NKVD, did its best to destroy the documents produced by the Trotskyists. Only a few of them made it across the border, where they could be published in the Bulletin of the Opposition, which was edited by Leon Trotsky, the leader of the Left Opposition, and his son Lev Sedov.
The discovery of these documents is of major historical and political significance. The contents of the three documents published so far are a powerful vindication of the decades-long struggle of the Trotskyist movement, which founded the Fourth International in 1938, against counterrevolutionary Stalinism. Their publication constitutes a major blow to the Stalinist and post-Soviet schools of falsification, which, for decades, have sought to slander, belittle and silence the Trotskyist movement.
The documents confirm that the Left Opposition, even after it was expelled from the Communist Party and thrown behind bars, remained a formidable force. As the historian Alexander Fokin, who teaches at…