Trotsky in Norway

“In Norwegian history, the Trotsky affair will remain an unhealed wound.” Haakon Lee Chairman of the Norwegian Labor Party 1945-69Lev Davidovich Trotsky is a bright and ambiguous figure of the first and second revolutions in Russia, the closest ally of Lenin, the creator of the Red Army and the Comintern. The list of his achievements can be continued for a long time. After Lenin’s death, a redistribution of power began, during which Trotsky lost his leading position in the Soviet political arena and, in fact, lost to Stalin. The latter, in turn, decided to get rid of the dangerous political adversary by expelling him from the party and further exile, which went into expulsion from the country. Subsequently, Stalin changed the tactics of the struggle and preferred to deal with opponents with the hands of punitive organs in the territory of the USSR: it was much easier, and why take out dirty linen in public.

The first country to accept Trotsky was Turkey, where he arrived in February 1929. They just accepted him somehow strangely: Trotsky was settled on the small island of Buyukada near Istanbul, which made it very difficult to maintain contacts with supporters in Europe. This was the reason the beginning of the search for a new country – asylum. Germany flatly refused, and therefore Trotsky, through his admirers, filed a petition to Norway, where he counted on “in a calm atmosphere to engage in literary work.” Pretty soon the strange answer came: to deny the right to political asylum in view of the lack of funds to ensure the safety of Trotsky in the country. After several years, after the change of government in Norway, with a great creak, the long-awaited visa was received. The ruling Workers’ Party, led by Prime Minister Johan Nygaardsvold, which made this decision, received minimal support in parliament, as many were wary that Trotsky would continue to engage in political activities and could change the current political system in Norway. As for foreign policy, there were all prerequisites for the discontent of the Soviet Union for the hospitality provided.

It was June 1935. Lev Davidovich and his wife settled in a manor house near Honefoss, away from public attention. “My wife and I lived in extreme isolation, completely not regretting it,” he wrote in a diary. During his retreat, Trotsky wrote one of the most important books, The Betrayed Revolution, on the state of the USSR in the 1930s. The paper analyzes the Soviet political regime, and also predicts the possibility of the degeneration of the Soviet bureaucracy into a new propertied class, in which former managers will become the new “owners-shareholders of trusts and concerns.” The book draws parallels between Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany and makes a forecast about the impending war.

The writing of the book in the summer of 1936 coincided with two important events: the next elections were approaching in Norway and the First Moscow process was held in the capital of the USSR. After the Kirov assassination, former party leaders, formerly active opposition members, were arrested. All of them were accused of organizing the so-called “Anti-Soviet United Trotsky-Zinoviev Center” and were shot, and a real propaganda war was launched against Trotsky, the waves of which reached Norway.An example of phraseology from the editorial of the journal “Vestnik Academy of Sciences of the USSR” And all of them (crimes) are inextricably linked with the name of the main criminal and the mastermind of all these atrocities, with the name and deeds of Judas Trotsky. It is he – Trotsky who united the murderers into Trotskyist “The Zinoviev Center for Terror against the Great Leaders of Communism.

“As for the elections, the ultra-right political party National Unity, led by Vidkun Quisling, suddenly activated here. One of the points of the campaign was a sharp criticism of Trotsky and the government, which provided an entry visa. In order to achieve their goals, the National Socialists embarked on a frank provocation. Taking advantage of Trotsky’s absence, several party members, presenting a fake search warrant, entered the estate. Thanks to the vigilance of the daughter of the estate owners, it was possible to prevent a complete rout. But leaving, separate documents were issued, later used against Trotsky, as evidence of a violation of the regime of stay in the country, namely, politics. The theater of the obsurd began. At the end of the Moscow process in August 1936, Trotsky was declared an agent of the Gestapo in the USSR and accused of his intention to destroy the country’s socialist system. At the same time, in Norway he was persecuted by the far right. As a result of these events, an investigation began that left the participants of the incident unpunished in Trotsky’s house, while Trotsky himself was accused of violating the conditions of his stay in the country. He is transferred to house arrest without the right to contact the outside world. This went on for four months until his deportation to Mexico. A later analysis of these events gave an explanation of what happened. The Nygaardsvold government began to show concern after the French press (!) Complained about Trotsky’s role in mass strikes in France in May-June 1936. In addition to this, on August 29, the USSR ambassador to Norway, Yakubovich, made an official demand for the expulsion of Trotsky. Later, the Soviet Union threatened a trade boycott, which outraged the powerful Norwegian lobby overseeing maritime trade. Their argument was that one should not sacrifice the interests of the country for Trotsky.

And the government, unable to withstand the pressure, capitulated.

Already in Mexico, Trotsky wrote: “Now, when I look back at the period of internment, I can’t help but say that I have never seen any side of my life – and I had to see a lot – I was not subjected to such cynical mockery as from the Norwegian “socialist” government. 

Epilogue: After Trotsky was expelled from the country, Norwegian Minister of Justice Trygve Lie received a bouquet of pink tulips from the USSR Embassy. August 21, 1940 Trotsky was killed on the orders of Stalin.

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