This document appears to have been prepared for publication in Revolutionary History but never used. Ted Crawford found it some years ago. The translator has not been identified but amendments are known to be in the handwriting of Al Richardson. I have made a small number of amendments, mostly to Russian surnames. Time does not permit full annotations but I have inserted references to Wikipedia and other sources for some personalities who may be less prominent that they would have been in 1988. Not all have been identified. As always we welcome information from our readers.  JJP

From the Cahiers Leon Trotsky no.36 December 1988

Journey to Moscow  Pierre Broué

It was thanks to the intervention of Louis Astre[1] that Isabel Longuet[2] and I, as a delegation from the Institut Leon Trotsky, had the opportunity to go to Moscow as part of project of the Paris committee of the France-U.R.S.S.[3], Paris-Moscou 1988. Naturally we both had professional contacts to make in the capital of the U.S.S.R. and we made them, but it must be emphasised that I was invited and received in the full knowledge of my interest and that the Soviet authorities who gave me a visa knew that they were giving it to a militant who is currently a historian of Trotsky, that I expected to find in Moscow relatives or friends of Trotsky, particularly one of his grand‑daughters whom we knew to be alive, and that I also expected to make contact with Soviet citizens who wished for a re-appraisal of his history, the rehabilitation of Trotsky and the publication of his works in the U.S.S.R. It is an interesting pointer to note that the officials of U.R.S.S.-France,  following those of France-­U.S.S.R. put at our disposal whatever we needed in particular a car, which we occasionally used which gave rise to many jokes from our travelling companions, as it was a black Volga limousine, chauffeur-driven.

I had quite a long meeting with I.N. Afanassiev[4], the Director of the Institute of History and archives, who needs no introduction. I think he is one of the most clear-headed men I know in the U.S.S.R. today. He is circulating in Moscow a text, signed by himself and others like Sakharov[5], which is a protest against the constitutional reforms and concessions which in no way give the people a voice. The historian explained to us the situation in the sphere of archives: these are not open and those in high places are in the process of deciding the conditions under which they will be. We know from other sources that several authors, the playwright Chatrov[6], and the historian Loginov[7], have had access to two of the most useful sections of the archives, the Stalin Section and the KGB section. Others, especially those who have the task of editing the new textbooks have access to them on demand and bit by bit. I.N. Afanassiev also talked to us about my biography of Trotsky: He is sure that all the historian members of the editorial commission of Progress Publishers will be in favour of publishing it in Russian, but does not think that the commission of the      political bureau which “revises History” and decides the rehabilitations that could be favourably considered in the near future. I also informed him about our work and research which, he assured me, are arousing immense interest among the privileged Soviet researchers and students who know of them.

The second part of our task was potentially more difficult. It was a matter of rediscovering Trotsky’s grand-daughter, the daughter of Zinaida, the older sister of our friend Sieva, Estaban Vokhov, who lives in Mexico. In fact, it was ridiculously easy. A friend, of the family, whom we met forty-eight hours after our arrival, gave us her telephone number, and, although she was ill, she received us. It is impossible for me to describe the joy of this sixty-three year old lady, deprived for fifty‑eight years of the news of her younger brother whose photograph she clutched in her fingers. It fell to me to inform her after fifty-five years, of the circumstances of the death of her mother by suicide. Could I express while I was speaking, how deeply I felt the monstrous ravages of Stalinism in the depth of my being and in the barbarous character of such a situation?

It was Tuesday 5th November, that we learnt Alexandra’s telephone number. That day marked the starting point of our fantastic journey through the past and present and constitutes the high point of my life as a militant and historian: the most beautiful, the warmest and the most exalting hours I have, up to the present, been privileged to live.

It was via the Le Monde, correspondent, Bernard Guetta, that we received the information on Monday the 14th November: the next day, 15th November, at the House of Culture of the Institute of Aviation (MAI) there was going to be a public meeting organised by the Memorial Group, dedicated to Trotsky and the necessity of his rehabilitation. The 400 tickets had been sold in three days with no publicity at all.  The room was crammed: there were about five hundred people plus hundreds who could not get in. It was my book, which I brandished at arm’s length, which cleared a path for us through the crowd and to the front row of the auditorium in an atmosphere of intense curiosity. At the entrance we only had a glance at panels bearing the photos we knew so well of Trotsky, of Leon Sedov, and their close companions and friends.

The meeting was presided over by young academic, V. Lyssenko, who behaved with Olympian calm and exceptional coolness, faced with provocateurs from the Pamiat organisation. At his side were professor S.S. Dzarasov[8], a fiery orator, the economist Yuri Heller who spoke about the civil war in particular, the historian Igor Bulgakov, son of the old Bolshevik Ossip Piatnitsky, and Nadeja Joffe, daughter of A.A. Joffe, the friend of Trotsky, a great diplomat, who committed suicide in 1927 as a protest against the policy of Stalin who in addition had deprived this great and sick man of the possibility of medical care.

In the audience there were people of every age and every type, from intellectuals, students and school students to teachers, as well as workers both old and young. There were also a dozen people of my age who carried names from the roll of honour of old Bolsheviks: Lomov, Lominadze, Antonov-Ovseenko, Smilga, Vuyovic, and doubtless others, and that anonymous worker who called himself an “old Trotskyist” and after embracing us, full of remorse gave us his telephone number.

There were also members of Pamiat; Russian chauvin­ists, xenophobes and anti-Semites, a handful of mad, fascist reactionaries who were trying to settle their account with their enemy no. 1. The meeting was interrupted for a few minutes in order to remove carefully but firmly those of them who were sabotaging noisily. Some of their speakers were trying to monopolise the floor in order to talk about the “crimes of Trotsky”, to justify their anti-Semitism by the hatred revolutionaries bear for Russians, etc.

The platform introduced the subject of Trotsky. Bulgakov summarised his biography, and recalled dates and facts. Yuri Heller took up one by one the anti-Trotskyist myths about the Civil War and Trotsky’s role as head of the Red Army currently circulating in the press in the U. S.S.R. Igor Piatnitsky gave quotations from Bukharin when vindicating the permanent revolution and from the correspondence between Lenin and Trotsky, showing the confidence which existed between the two men. Nadejda Joffe, a contemporary and schoolfriend of Sedov, evoked from her memories Trotsky as a man. Dzarasov argued brilliantly against the people of the right.

From the floor, Galina Antonov-Ovseenko, with outstanding fire, spoke of her research-work “Trotskyism, that is my life. I study my own history and that of our country. I seek only truth”. Tatiana Smilga, also an inspired orator, spoke recalling her childhood memories: “My heart beats at the sound of the evocation of Trotsky”. She recounted the demonstration at the Yaroslav station at the time of her father’s exile, and the face of the good giant Muralov: “that was romanticism. My god, where is he?” And she spoke of Trotsky, who comforted her in her childhood sorrows, “cultivated, charming, kind.” Bulgakov supported her; Trotsky was profoundly human, but he was conscious of his revolutionary duty. A historian - whose name escapes us - rejoiced in the desire to restore the truth and demanded more information on Trotsky as a man of politics. Piatnitsky in reply, explained the theory of the permanent revolution and underlined the historic responsibility of Zinoviev and Kamenev, “the first responsible for the distortions” according to him. He reproached Trotsky for not having forged a solid link with Lenin after the latter’s illness and for having “yielded” to the leadership after the death of Lenin. Olbagaiev, apparently a historian, criticised Trotsky’s article accusing Stalin of poisoning Lenin, and demanded the publication of Trotsky’s writings, whose analyses, he said, “are still relevant”, particularly those on the subject of the bureaucracy.          He underlined that it was necessary “to approach all this in tranquillity and never to forget that there was no inevitability in what had happened”.

The economist Victor Chelnis took up the question of the rehabilitation of Trotsky which today seemed to him to be quite far-off ,and he accused the historians of being in serried ranks before the lies to which they owed their positions, “the last square which they defend in order to defend them”. One of the last speakers, Aliocha Zverev, asked what had become of Trotsky’s archives, referred to the documents of the lVth International, and declared himself ready to assist anyone desirous of reading My Life or The Revolution Betrayed, which he possessed.

I had the honour of being the last speaker at this meeting. I introduced myself as being “a Trotskyist, historian and Professor” for several decades. I spoke briefly of our work at the Institut and replied at length to Zverev on the question of the archives. I then declared our support for those who are fighting in the U.S.S.R. today for Trotsky and against “the murderers of memory” and offered my book to Nadejda Joffe. She replied that, in the eighty years of her life as a fighter, my gift was the liveliest she had ever had. You can understand my emotion that memorable evening, to be applauded in Moscow on such a subject.


We hope to do more to inform our readers than this resumé of the notes taken by Isabella of the meeting of 15th November. The proceedings were recorded, we will have a copy in a few weeks and. we will publish a translation of the account of this meeting which ended with a resolution demanding the rehabilitation Trotsky, his reintegration into the party, Soviet citizenship and the publication of his works. We also have promises of material from Soviet people for the Cahiers Leon Trotsky: studies by historians and declarations from militants. There are many difficulties along this way but we will do everything possible to overcome them.

 We have come a long way since we laid the first stone of the Institut Leon Trotsky ten years ago - and it is a matter for great satisfaction.


[3] An association for France-USSR friendship, based mainly on links officially sponsored by Moscow. A little history can be found at Paris rouge: 1944-1964 : les communistes français dans la capital, By Jean-Pierre Arthur Bernard

[4] See De Staline à Poutine: la Perestroïka : la chute de l'URSS et les changements ...

By Edouard Garbe for a less effusive view

[6] Chatrov Mikhail Filippovitch 1932-2010 (Sometimes transliterated as Shatrov). Prolific playwright on political and revolutionary themes.

[8] Dzarasov, S. S. (Soltan Safarbievich), b 1927, economist and historian