Security and the Fourth International
News Line, 27 November 1976, Page 7
A Case of Falsifying History
By the International Committee of the Fourth International
26 November 1976
On 5 November 1976 the obituary columns of New York Times carried a five-line announcement buried deep in the inside pages.
“Jacobs, Sara. We mourn the passing of our distinguished and dedicated long-time friend and co-worker Sara Jacobs. Officers and staff, Jewish Labour Comm. Jacob Sheinkman, Pres., Emanuel Muravchik, Exec director.”
It no doubt meant little to the readers of America’s biggest selling daily. But in the offices of the revisionist Socialist Workers Party [The American Trotskyist party, TB] there was top-level conferring.
After three weeks of discussion they produced their own obituary notice … penned by the “resident philosopher” himself, George Novack.
It appeared on page 30 of the issue of the weekly Militant on 26 November 1976, under the heading “Sara (Weber) Jacobs dies, was a secretary to Trotsky.”
This is the first literary excursion by Novack since the International Committee of the Fourth International indicted him and Joseph Hansen as accomplices of the GPU, Stalin’s secret police.
It is an astonishing article because it does not reveal the most interesting information of all about Weber, namely that see was the sister of Lola Estrine (Mrs. David Dallin). Sister Lola figures very prominently in our indictment of Novack and Hansen, but we will return to Novack’s deliberate omission later.
The indictment was presented on 1 January 1976, following a detailed examination of the circumstances surrounding the murder of Leon Trotsky in Mexico on 20 August 1940. (See How the GPU Murdered Trotsky, New Park Publications, 1976, £3).
The International Committee’s investigation proved that Hansen and Novack had conducted as 36-year conspiracy to shield known GPU agents, cover up their crimes and prevent an unearthing of their activities inside the Trotskyist movement.
In the course of the investigation and the ensuing orchestrated slander campaign, the name Sara Weber came to the surface as a minor but definitely interesting figure.
Interest turned to genuine curiosity when Sara and Jack (Weber) Jacobs wrote an undated testimonial in support of the GPU accomplice Hansen, published in Intercontinental Press on 6 September 1976.
The purpose of their intervention was to try to give an alibi to Hansen over his self-admitted contact with the GPU agent “John” (Dr. Gregory Rabinowitz) in New York in 1938-1939.
How did the Webers know Hansen was meeting the GPU agent “John” in secret on behalf of Trotsky, James P. Cannon and Max Shachtman? Miss Weber alleged that she heard Trotsky talk about it to Hansen as they drove through a crowded section of Mexico City in 1939.
Trotsky spoke “in a lowered voice” but still the amazing Miss Weber heard it all – in spite of the fact that the contact was a closely guarded secret and remained a complete mystery to the rest of the leadership of the SWP and the Fourth International.
In the International Committee statement, “The Indictment Stands”, (published in News Line on 2-9 October 1976) we confidently rejected the Jacobs’ alleged evidence. We proved that when Weber claimed to have heard Trotsky telling Hansen to pursue his contact with “John”, the contact had already concluded!
We commented: “But Weber’s long–suppressed recollection clashes with Hansen’s version of events on the crucial matter of dates.
“Timetables invariably present great problems for those who falsify history, for they are obliged to synchronise a number of fictionalised events with the exacting tempo of actual developments. Stalin more than once came to grief with historical inventions.” (See Accomplices of the GPU, published by the International Committee of the Fourth International, 30p)
We concluded by calling for the most thorough going examination of the Jacobs’ “affidavit”. Unfortunately, Miss Weber joins the many other “witnesses” to Hansen’s collaboration with the top GPU agent in the United States.
The others who allegedly knew – Trotsky, Cannon and Shachtman – are all deceased too.
Novack acknowledges this in his obituary of her in the Militant on 26 November 1976. “One of her best political acts was the signing of the statement condemning the slander by Gerry Healy’s Revolutionary Workers Party (sic) of Britain against Joseph Hansen, George Novack and other leaders of the socialist Workers Party.
“This was accompanied by a letter testifying from personal knowledge to the truth about Hansen’s contact with a GPU agent at Trotsky’s request.”
Her statement did not clear Hansen at all, it only brought her (and sister Lola) deeper into the conspiracy to cover up his secret, unjustifiable, inexplicable and thoroughly sinister cavorting with the GPU at a time when the Trotskyist movement was facing the most terrible blows from Stalinism.
Novack’s obituary becomes the subject of minute examination because it is a falsification of Weber’s history both inside the Trotskyist movement and outside it.
To the ordinary reader the impression is created by Novack that a “comrade in arms” has passed away after a lifelong service to Trotskyism.
It may not be important that the first paragraph says that she died of cancer in New York City on 6 November. This can’t be right since the New York Times announced her death a day earlier.
But the second paragraph is more critical. Novack says that she came to the United States in 1920 “and lived for most of her life in New York, where she furthered her interest in Marxist ideas”.
What, on the pro-Zionist Jewish Labour Committee? To take this paragraph at face value is to regard Weber as one of the friends of the people, a member of the Novack/SWP family. Is this really the case?
It is true that she worked on Trotsky’s secretarial staff in Prinkipo in 1931 when she was forced into exile and again later when he was hounded to Mexico where he was murdered.
It is also true, as Novack states, that she stayed in touch with Trotsky’s widow, Natalia. But there is much more to the story, which Novack deliberately leaves out.
We refer to the Goldman correspondence which is deposited as Wisconsin University. In this archive there are letters between Trotsky’s US lawyer, Albert Goldman, and the Jacobs in the late 2940’s.
This exchange of letters starts on 23 November 1948 with a letter from Goldman to Sara Weber in which Goldman says:
“I have a little over $2000 belonging to N (Natalia) and it may be best for you to keep any money you have belonging to her so that in case anything happens to me she will have you to fall back on until the money I have can be sent to her.
“Naturally I have protected her in the sense that I have specifically stated in a document that I have the money belonging to her but in case of death it might take some time before she can get it. It is better if the money is divided among two persons.
“This reminds me that immediately after I returned from Mexico in 1941 (after the death of the old man) I deposited several thousand dollars in the Emigrant Savings Bank in my name and in the name of Joseph Hansen. I don’t know what has happened to the money. Some of it has been drawn out. The bank book was kept by Hansen.
“I write this to you so that if I should die suddenly someone should know about it. “
On 27 November 1948 Sara Weber replied saying “I will do as you advise: Will keep the money here in a special account with accessibility to it (for as long as the money lasts) by me and Lola” (Mrs. David Dallin)
This established the closest political and personal relations between two sisters – a relationship that Novack hides in his obituary.
Taking up the question of the Goldman-Hansen bank account, Sara Weber went on:
“Now, the money in the Emigrants Savings Bank. Could not you get a statement from the bank as to the balance on hand, perhaps also showing withdrawals by dates?
“Was there any understanding originally that withdrawals were to be made only on express request from N [Natalia]? I am afraid that N forgot all about this money or would be reluctant to make enquiries about it so that unless you make the initiative in the matter, the money will be lost as far as N or her wishes are concerned.
I realise how distasteful this must be to you but cannot urge you strongly enough to get the money out of H’s [Hansen’s] hands. By the way, you probably know that N is having trouble with the archives, that portion of which is in “their” hands.
Despite repeated inquiries she has been unable to get any kind of clear answer from “them” as to contents. This oppresses her no end.” (The double quotation marks are included in the original for emphasis)
This correspondence lays bare for everyone to see the state of relations between Natalia and Hansen after Trotsky’s death and puts an end to another part of Hansen’s mythology about himself and Trotsky’s family.
What of the claims by the Intercontinental Press and the Militant that Weber was a member of the Hansen-Novack “in-crowd”? Again we must turn to the Goldman correspondence.
Here we discover letters written by Jack and Sara Jacobs to the lawyer in 1949, in which the question of copyright on Trotsky’s books is under urgent discussion.
Jacobs, then, in close political sympathy with the right-wing Shachtmanite tendency, was desperately trying to keep reproduction of Trotsky’s works out of the hands of the “Cannonites” (i.e. Hansen and Novack). Jack Jacobs’ final letter, dated 7 March 1949, concludes:
“It appears to us a dreadful thing to contemplate seeing the Cannonites get hold of the “legacy” of the Old Man’s writings by sheer default because nobody else makes a single move in the matter. It may be too late to do much but certainly I propose to try even at this late date to do something about it.
“It seems to me you should do whatever is possible to help. Please give us all information so that we at least do not work in the dark. Natalia herself is all at sea and only now realises how they have been working piecemeal to grasp everything in their hands.
“Whether she has the strength and will to reverse this course I cannot say, but she is writing to us for advice and we can only give such advice if we know all the facts.
Another Hansen-Novack falsification comes tumbling down. Here is clearest proof that Sara and Jack Jacobs were deep political opponents fighting a bitter struggle over Trotsky’s writings.
But Novack’s obituary is a fraud on a far more damaging count. The late Sara Weber was the sister of Lola Estrine, (Mrs. David Dallin) and Novack suppresses this from the readers of The Militant.
Mrs. Dallin, wife of the State Department hack David Dallin, plays a central role the Security and the Fourth International campaign. Our Investigation proved the following:
It was Mrs. Dallin who was in Trotsky’s household in Mexico when General Alexander Orlov’s letter arrived pinpointing Mark Zborowski as the key GPU agent in the Paris section of the Trotskyist movement.
When Trotsky showed her the letter and asked her advice, Mrs. Dallin said that Zborowski was completely loyal and above suspicion. After deceiving Trotsky she returned to Paris where she immediately told Zborowski of the existence of the Orlov letter, enabling him to prepare his alibi.
In 1941 it was Mrs. Dallin who worked with Novack to bring Zborowski to the United States where he quickly re-established himself in the Fourth International spying on the activities of the Trotskyists.
Although Mrs. Dallin and her husband were the first to learn that Zborowski was a life-long GPU agent – early in the 1950’s – they kept it from Mrs. Else Bernaut, widow of the NKVD defector Ignace Reiss, who was murdered in a plot set up by Zborowski.
The most crucial point is that Mrs. Dallin knew all these murky details about Zborowski’s killer role in the Trotskyist movement, so did her sister Sara. Yet Novack makes no mention of the Sara-Lola connection. He is only interests in falsifying Sara Weber’s history and falsely claiming a new ally in their campaign to halt an inquiry into their activities as accomplices of the GPU.
Instead of writing dishonourable obituaries, we challenge Novack to end his 11 month silence on the indictment presented by the International Committee.
For example, will he publicly join Hansen in denying that Sylvia Franklin, née Callen, alias Caldwell, was a GPU agent?
Hansen claims that she was an exemplary comrade and quotes the SWP control commission which cleared her in 1950.
Hansen turns a complete blind eye to the documents that we have produced from the New York Supreme Court which have proved that she was an un-indicted co-conspirator in the Robert Soblen spy ring, along with Beria, Zborowski, Lucy Booker, Floyd Cleveland Miller and others.
When we reproduced the sworn affidavit of Budenz, managing editor of the Communist Party’s Daily Worker, which showed how Franklin was recruited and paid, Hansen swept this aside saying that Budenz was an “FBI stool pigeon”. (Intercontinental Press 24 November 1975).
Is that your position too, Mr. Novack? If so, then a document freshly unearthed from the archives makes curious reading.
At 11 am. On Monday 17 March 1947, a statement was released to the press in New York City: “In his book, This is My Story, to be published on 20 March by Whittlesey House, Louis F. Budenz, former Daily Worker editor and ex-member of the Communist Party’s national committee, reveals highly important information about the terrorist activities of the NKVD, the Russian secret police, in the United States.
“The most sensational is his detailed account of the preparations made here for the assassination of Leon Trotsky in Mexico City in 1940. Budenz testifies from personal knowledge that the initial moves in the conspiracy leading to Trotsky’s murder were taken in New York City by Russian secret agents.
“He says that they had assistance from some Communist Party leaders, but he does not indicate how fully the Americans were aware of the plot. He tells how he himself collaborated with secret police agents named ‘Richards’ and ‘Roberts’ to weave their web around Sylvia Ageloff.
“Through a ‘Miss Y’, a member of the American Communist Party selected for this purpose, Miss Ageloff was introduced in Paris to ‘Frank Jacson’, Trotsky’s assassin, Jacson [Alias Ramon Mercader]. Jacson used Sylvia Ageloff, a friend of the family to gain access to Trotsky’s household and commit the crime.
“Thus Budenz adds new and hitherto missing links to the chain of evidence presented during Jacson’s trial in Mexico which showed him to be a Soviet police agent. Budenz’s disclosures confirm the conviction held by the most advanced sections of world public opinion that Trotsky’s murder was carried out by the Russian secret police.
“This is not the only act of political murder prepared or executed on American soil in recent years and charged to the Soviet police network. Budenz also refers to the case of Juliet Stuart Poyntz, former Communist Party leader who disappeared from her home in New York City in1937 under mysterious circumstances.
“He states that a ‘member of the (Communist Party) Political Committee, whom we shall call Comrade H, advised me, almost in so many words, that she (Miss Poyntz) had been ‘liquidated’ by the Soviet secret police’ (Page 263)
“This tends to confirm the charges made to a New York Grand Jury by the anarchist leader, Carlo Tresca, that Juliet Poyntz was abducted and slain by the NKVD. Tresca himself was later shot and killed by unidentified assassins in New York City on 11 January 1943.
“Budenz substantiates the fact that the terrorist operations of Stalin’s secret police have been extended from Russia and other countries into the United States. Here, as elsewhere, the threat of political murder hangs over working-class opponents of the Stalin regime and the policies of its American agency, the Communist Party.
“Terrorism from any quarter is incompatible with the free life of the labor and progressive movements and their democratic functioning. Such abhorrent methods must be exposed and fought without compromise to the very end.
“For these reasons, we call upon the District Attorney of New York County to summon a Grand Jury to investigate the role of the NKVD and of certain American Communist Party leaders cited by Budenz in his book, in the cases of Juliet Stuart Poyntz and Carlo Tresca, and in the conspiracy leading to the murder of Leon Trotsky.
“Earl Browder, Jack Stachel, Budenz himself, and all other Communist Party leaders, past and present, who are known to have been involved in the activities of the Soviet secret police in our community, or who are declared to have had knowledge of such activities, should be subjected to official examination and such juridical action as the facts may warrant.”
Among the host of signatories – including Norman Thomas, Dr. John Dewey, James T. Farrell – we find the name … George Novack, American Committee for the Defence of Leon Trotsky.
This raises the question – are there two Novacks? There is the Novack who in1947 was for the exposure of Stalinist crimes cited in Budenz’s book and there is another George Novack who, in 1950, cleared Sylvia Franklin as a GPU agent in spite of Budenz’s testimony and who now blackguards the International Committee for raising the Budenz revelations.
Instead of slandering the International Committee, Novack would do better getting his lines straightened with his fellow accomplices.
When was Budenz’s evidence worth investigation and when did it become the unfounded ravings of an “FBI stool pigeon”? (Hansen in Intercontinental Press, 24 November 1975)
When Budenz admitted collaborating with the GPU controller “Richards” and “Roberts” (Dr. Gregory Rabinowitz), did Hansen, even at this late stage (1947), admit to the SWP leadership that he too had consorted with this same agent who set up the Trotsky assassination plot?
Or did Novack have to wait, along with the rest of the Trotskyist movement, to learn of it in August 1975 only after the International Committee produced documentary proof, namely the report by US Consul Robert McGregor, dated 1 September 1940, 12 days after Trotsky’s murder?
Does Novack agree with Hansen that Carlo Tresca was murdered by the Mafia or the Italian fascists, or does he still hold to the view expressed in the 1947 statement that it was a GPU killing?
To pose these questions, is to answer them. There is no doubt at all where Novack stands. His place in this gigantic conspiracy is contained in the dishonest and falsified obituary of Sara Weber.
In appearance it is a minor side issue, but in content it goes right to the heart of the matter. Novack lines up with Hansen in using blatant historic falsification to slander the International Committee and to try to prevent an international commission of inquiry.
We have said before and we will repeat again: the investigation goes on. The campaign for an international commission of inquiry into Hansen and Novack will be waged in every country.
The real history will and must be written by the International Committee which is the only force carrying forward the principles and traditions of Trotskyism through the building of the world party of social revolution.