Statement by the International Committee of the Fourth International
Stop cover-up About the Facts About Trotsky’s Murder
News Line, 19 July 1976, page 12
On the eve of the 36th. anniversary of the assassination of Leon Trotsky, the International Committee of the Fourth International issues a call to all socialists throughout the world:
Be on guard against a fresh campaign of lies and slander to bury the real circumstances of the GPU plot to murder Trotsky. It is being whipped up by the anti-Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party of the United States. Its aim is to preserve the 36-year conspiracy of silence by Joseph Hansen and George Novack of the SWP.
Whilst they knew the facts about Trotsky’s murder and interrelated crimes by the GPU, they suppressed them from their own party and their co-thinkers in other countries.
Since such deliberate actions aided the GPU and nobody else, we have no hesitation in designating them as the accomplices of the GPU. By their silence they allowed some of the main organisers of the assassination to escape scot free.
The case against Hansen and Novack was made out in “Security and the Fourth International”* and published in August and September 1975 from hitherto suppressed evidence located in the US Library of Congress, the US National Archives and the court records of New York State.
The case against the accomplices of the GPU is irrefutable. Certainly neither of them have even tried fact for fact to refute it.
The indictment presented against them by the International Committee on 1 January 1976 still remains unanswered more than six months later because they cannot answer it. By their continued silence their guilt is compounded.
The charges outlined in the indictment state:
1. Joseph Hansen has suppressed from the Trotskyist movement for 35 years details of his personal contact with a GPU agent known as “John” in New York in 1938. This contact was uncovered by the International Committee in 1975 in previously unpublished US State Department records in Washington DC.
The evidence showed that “John” was one of the aliases used by Dr. Gregory Rabinowitz, the GPU chief who masterminded operations in the United States aimed at murdering Trotsky.
2. Hansen and Novack have suppressed sworn testimony of Thomas L. Black before a US Senate committee in 1956.
Black testified that GPU agents were installed in Trotsky’s household at Coyoacan, Mexico.
Hansen, who was ostensibly in charge of Trotsky’s security, never conducted an investigation to discover the identity of these agents.
3. Hansen and Novack continue to this day to defend Sylvia Franklin as an “exemplary comrade”.
They both know that she used her position as the late James P. Cannon’s most private personal secretary to obtain letters, minutes and internal documents for the GPU
They defended her completely although the International Committee has produce evidence showing that a New York grand jury named her as an unindicted co-conspirator with Lavrenti Beria in a Soviet spy trial in the US in 1960.
4. Hansen has set out to disguise and minimise the GPU role of Floyd Cleveland Miller.
He entered the SWP in the late 1930’s as an undercover Stalinist agent where he climbed to a top position in the Party’s seamen’s faction.
He was able to report to the GPU on the movement of Trotskyist seamen during the war.
5. Hansen and Novack vehemently oppose any investigation into the role of Robert Sheldon Harte, the young guard sent down to Mexico by the SWP headquarters in April 1940.
It was Harte who opened the gate to the Stalinist murder squad who almost killed Trotsky and his family on 24 May 1940.
6. Hansen and Novack refuse to explain how Stalin’s top anti-Trotskyist agent, Mark Zborowski, was brought from war torn France to the United States in 1941.
Zborowski was brought over principally with Novack’s help, even though his activities in the French Trotskyist movement were clouded with suspicion.
Trotsky was warned about Zborowski and he at once fought to establish his political bona fides.
But when all the evidence emerged from the Congressional and court testimony about his GPU spy role, Hansen and Novack did absolutely nothing to expose him – apart from one half-hearted piece in the weekly Militant (6 April 1956) and a miniscule footnote in one book.
Zborowski masterminded the Murder of Trotsky’s son Leon Sedov and the assassination of Trotsky’s secretaries Rudolph Klement and Erwin Wolf and the NKVD defector Ignace Reiss.
Hansen never lifted a finger to unmask the activities of Zborowski although all the information was on his doorstep.
He dismisses the International Committee’s revelations as a “dry well” (International Press 24 November 1975)
7. Hansen and Novack have refused to reply to the security questions raised by Trotsky’s guard Harold Robins in his open letter to the SWP national committee (23 December 1965)
Because they have no answer to this charge sheet, Hansen and Novack are desperately trying to create a diversion.
By the end of this month they have promised a list of signatures defending their conspiracy of silence and slandering the International Committee of the Fourth International
The signatures are the fruits of the work of one “Mr. Benson”, who has been scouring the continents dredging up the worst anti-Trotskyist, anti-communist and renegade elements.
Many have signed – like Ken Coats of the Bertrand Russell “Peace foundation”, for example – without even reading the scrupulously researched material.
There is a compulsive frenzy about this new turn in the slander campaign. It has definite social origins in the raging crisis of world imperialism and the forward march of the international working class.
At this historic juncture Pabloite revisionism, in all its many splinter groups, is liquidating and preparing to shed the last vestiges of its lip service to Trotskyism.
Behind the smokescreen of the slander campaign against the International Committee they are preparing to join the forces of the counter-revolution.
Democratic Party Orientation.
During the Democratic Party Convention at Madison Square Garden, Hansen’s Socialist Workers Party handed out leaflets headed “Hear the Socialist Alternative”.
It invited delegates to come to the SWP’s bookshop described as a “Socialist Open House” – where they could “stop in and browse through the bookstore and talk with the socialist candidates”
That appeal was addressed to an imperialist, bourgeois party whose reactionary delegates included such figures as Governor George Wallace and Mayor Richard Daley.
Having lobbied presidential candidate Jimmy Carter and his racist, big business entourage, the SWP has no choice but to logically pursue this policy and go the Kansas City and lobby delegates to the other bourgeois party, the Republicans.
Here they can talk about socialist alternatives to Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater, the Rockefellers and ex-President Nixon’s backer Bebe Rebozo.
The “Democratic orientation” is the abandonment of the struggle for a US labour Party and any struggle to build independent revolutionary leadership in the working class.
Since the moment of its origin in the United States, the Trotskyist movement has rightly condemned the Stalinists’ attempts to subordinate the working class to the capitalist Democratic and Republican parties.
This has been flagrantly thrown overboard.
Licking up to the bourgeoisie at Madison Square Garden is absolutely in line with Hansen’s policy of calling federal troops into Boston.
Liquidation in France
In Western Europe, Hansen’s bed-fellows in the Ernest Mandel groups are plotting the same counter-revolutionary course.
Mandel, who is soon to become Professor of Economics at Cambridge University, is seeking a unity with the French Parti Socialiste Unifie (PSU)
The PSU is a rump conglomeration of centrists and renegades like Yvan Craipeau who were thrown out of the Trotskyist movement just after the war for their right-wing abandonment of Trotskyism.
The merger will bring the Mandelites back into personal alliance with the oldest political liquidator of the all, Michel Pablo (Raptis)
What of the Fourth International to which Mandel fraudulently claims allegiance?
“What difference do labels make? If in the political arena we encountered political forces which agreed with our strategic and Tactical orientation and which were repulsed only by the historical reference and the name, we would get rid of it in 24 hours.” (Politique Hebdo 10-16 June 1976)
This political degeneration and liquidation is the culminating point of a process which was set in motion at the time of the Pabloite revisionist “reunification” in 1963.
It was not carried out, as they claimed, to “strengthen” Trotskyism, but to pile on the confusion, stifle the building of revolutionary parties and prepare the conditions for today’s blatant betrayals.
They have clung together on only one basis – to fight the International Committee of the Fourth International as the only independent revolutionary force leading the struggle to develop Trotskyism.
The struggle for the continuity of this history since 1953 belongs to the International Committee of the Fourth International. It can be proven from the record.
On 14 March 1960, Comrade Gerry Healy, then national secretary of the Socialist Labour League, predecessor of the Workers Revolutionary Party, wrote to Hansen. (This was before the split with Hansen in 1963)
Healy’s letter was promoted by publication of Isaac Don Levine’s book, The Mind of an Assassin, which gave details of the GPU spy role of Professor Mark Zborowski, known in the Trotskyist movement as Etienne.
He infiltrated the Trotskyist headquarters in Paris where he masterminded the assassination of Trotsky’s son, Leon Sedov, Trotsky’s secretaries Erwin Wolf and Rudolf Klement, and the NKVD defector from Stalinism, Ignace Reiss.
Referring to Lavine’s revelations, Healy wrote:
“There is so much that has to be explained and it requires very full treatment by us. I think, Joe, we need a full discussion on the whole matter and I will be glad of your observations.
“Is Lavine right on the question of Etienne? If he is, then it is necessary for us in the not-to-distant future to have a very real examination of the whole international ramifications of the Trotskyist movement.
“I say this without any panic whatsoever, but there are things which take place which cannot be explained.”
This letter, along with a letter to Hansen on the same subject written by the late James P. Cannon, were subsequently stolen by the FBI from the SWP’s “open house”.
They turned up earlier this year when the SWP took action to have other correspondence returned.
In spite of Healy’s explicit and deliberate intervention Hansen did nothing to launch an investigation into Stalin’s top anti-Trotskyist agent who was living on his doorstep. On the contrary, he continued his conspiracy against the truth emerging.
When the International Committee published its findings on Zborowski in August and September 1975 in “Security and the Fourth International” Hansen said they were a “dry well”. (Intercontinental Press, 24 November 1975)
When Hansen and Novack produce their new slander, the lines of political demarcation will be drawn sharper than ever before.
It will make public the unbridgeable gulf between the anti-Trotskyists and refugees from the class struggle in the swamp of Pabloite revisionism, and the International Committee of the Fourth International.
Not all the signatures drummed up by “Mr. Benson” at the Bertrand Russell “Peace” Foundation, the Institute for Workers Control and the Democratic convention can stop the building of the world party of socialist revolution.
The GPU’s immense slander machine could not stop Trotsky and it won’t stop the International Committee which fights in his footsteps.
The International Committee must zealously accept the historical responsibility to press the campaign in every country to unmask the accomplices of the GPU and build the revolutionary parties based on the history, traditions and principles of Trotsky’s Fourth International.
We re-present our indictment of Hansen and Novack. We accuse them of being accomplices of the GPU.
In shielding known GPU agents, in suppressing evidence of their crimes, in throttling any attempt at an investigation of GPU activities, they aided and abetted the GPU.
We re-submit our call for an international commission of inquiry along the lines of the Dewey Commission to which the International Committee will submit its evidence and to which Hansen and Novack can make their answers.
17 July 1976
*It is now out in book form, How the GPU Murdered Trotsky, New Part Publications, £3.