1 This article was downloaded by: [New York University] On: 18 February 2013, At: 04:33 Publisher: Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: Registered office: Mortimer House, Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Revolutionary Russia Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: HIDDEN AGENDAS: SPIES, LIES AND INTRIGUE SURROUNDING TROTSKY S AMERICAN VISIT OF JANUARY APRIL 1917 Richard B. Spence Version of record first published: 03 Jun To cite this article: Richard B. Spence (2008): HIDDEN AGENDAS: SPIES, LIES AND INTRIGUE SURROUNDING TROTSKY S AMERICAN VISIT OF JANUARY APRIL 1917, Revolutionary Russia, 21:1, To link to this article: PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE Full terms and conditions of use: This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae, and drug doses should be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings, demand, or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
2 Revolutionary Russia, Vol 21, No. 1, June 2008, pp Richard B. Spence HIDDEN AGENDAS: SPIES, LIES AND INTRIGUE SURROUNDING TROTSKY S AMERICAN VISIT OF JANUARY APRIL 1917 FRVR_A_ sgm / Revolutionary Original 2008 Taylor June RichardSpence and & Article Francis (print)/ Russia (online) Trotsky s short stay in the USA in early 1917, and his subsequent detention in Canada, has spawned many stories and left lingering questions. This article is basically a sequel to the author s Interrupted Journey: British Intelligence and the Arrest of Leon Trotskii, April 1917, which appeared in this journal in What follows substantially expands the scope of the earlier article and presents much new information drawn from recent releases by MI5, as well as new American, French and Russian sources. It shows that Trotsky was surrounded by a web of intrigue and agents of various stripes throughout, and even before, his American stay. He became a pawn, knowingly or not, in assorted plots. Above all, the article strengthens the conclusion that Trotsky was the target of a scheme by elements of the British intelligence services to secure his cooperation in revolutionary Russia. In early May 1917, Leon Trotsky landed in Christiania (now Oslo), Norway. He had left New York at the end of March bound for Russia. However, his progress had been delayed for a month by British authorities who took him and several companions off the SS Kristianiafjord in Halifax, Nova Scotia and put them in an internment camp. They did so in response to charges from other British officials that Trotsky had received money from German sources and was returning to overthrow the new regime in Russia. Given this delay, Trotsky was anxious to let persons in Petrograd know that he was almost there. One of these was not a revolutionary comrade but a businessman and private banker, Abram L vovich Zhivotovskii. 2 Why Trotsky contacted this man and the nature of their connection is but one of the mysteries explored in this article. Trotsky s later reminiscences about his brief American stay were less than forthcoming and in some cases plainly misleading. The following will show that during this period Trotsky was the recipient of mysterious financial assistance and was a person of keen interest to German, Russian and British agents. At the very least, there was more to his brief stay in the United States than has been recognized heretofore. In my original article, I mostly focused on the reasons behind Trotsky s internment and his subsequent release. A key question was why the local British intelligence chief, Sir William Wiseman, gave him a green light to leave New York in the first place. My conclusion was that while there was no clear evidence that Trotsky had received money from German sources, he may have been caught up in a gambit by Wiseman to use him for British purposes. That latter conclusion remains the same, but newly ISSN print/issn online/08/ Taylor & Francis DOI: /
3 34 REVOLUTIONARY RUSSIA available materials provide corroborating details and raise additional questions. These new sources include Trotsky s declassified MI5 dossier, recently discovered French intelligence documents and ongoing investigations in Russia. What follows will present new facts about the persons with whom Trotsky came in contact during this period and will expose a web of connections and hidden intrigues among those persons. Among those involved were the revolutionary arch-conspirator Alexander Helphand-Parvus, Madrid-based émigré Ernst Bark, American socialist Julius Hammer, international confidence-trickster Sidney Reilly and even the British occultist Aleister Crowley. Some of their connections are revealing, others, simply bewildering. In the end, the article may raise as many questions as it answers, but it will shed new light on a brief, but not insignificant, episode in Trotsky s career. *** Trotsky s journey to America really begins with his deportation from France to Spain in September He had come under French suspicion as early as July 1915, when the Sûreté pegged him as a Russian journalist of revolutionary stripe and socialistic tendencies who has association with suspect persons. 3 That information soon found its way into British intelligence files. In Paris, Trotsky edited a radical, Russian-language newspaper, Nashe slovo (subsequently Nachalo). The French authorities regarded the publication as obviously Germanophile and its revolutionary, defeatist message became more worrisome once Russian troops arrived on the Western front in Trotsky attributed his resulting troubles to a conspiracy hatched in the Russian Embassy in Paris which enlisted as its tools French President Aristide Briand and his socialist Minister of the Interior Louis-Jean Malvy. 5 It was Malvy who, on 14 September 1916, signed the order for Trotsky s expulsion to Spain as an undesirable. However, Briand promptly granted Trotsky a month s grace, subsequently extended by another fortnight, during which period Trotsky frantically attempted to secure a visa for Switzerland. That, he claimed, was blocked by more conspiratorial machinations. Likewise, the British categorically refused to grant him passage to the Netherlands or Scandinavia. 6 This lack of co-operation stands in stark contrast to the attitude of British officials in New York a few months later. On 30 October 1916, two plainclothes policemen escorted Trotsky across the Spanish frontier at Irun. Temporarily left behind in France were his spouse, Natalia Sedova, and their two young sons, Leon (Lev) and Sergei. Trotsky was convinced that Malvy et al. pushed him into Spain in the hope that Madrid s conservative authorities would ship him off to South America, where he would cease to be any bother to the Allied war effort. Trotsky initially expected that he would not be allowed to sail to New York, where, as he put it, I can do harm to the Ally [sic] propaganda. 7 After some 10 days in Spain, Madrid police picked up Trotsky and jailed him as a dangerous terrorist agitator. 8 Behind this too, Trotsky saw the long arm of his tormentors. However, he spent only three and a half days in a rather humane lock-up where one could pay for better accommodations and liberties. Moreover, if Trotsky had enemies, he also had friends, whether he realized it or not. A mysterious benefactor arranged Trotsky s release from the Madrid jail and his transfer, under police supervision, to the southern port of Cadiz. There he waited for another month and a half. On 24 November, Trotsky wrote a long and revealing letter to his comrade Moisei Uritskii in Copenhagen. 9
4 TROTSKY S AMERICAN VISIT OF At Cadiz, wrote Trotsky, they wanted to put me straight on a steamer bound for Havana, of course in steerage, with a wolf s passport [that is, one bearing a black mark against the holder] handed to the captain. Trotsky protested to anyone who would listen and then there came from Madrid permission for me to be left at Cadiz until the first steamer sailed for New York. At the moment, he wrote to Uritskii, he was waiting for a New York bound ship scheduled to leave Cadiz on 30 November. For reasons unexplained, that did not come to pass and he remained in Cadiz for another month. In the meantime, Trotsky claims that he persisted in efforts to secure passage to Switzerland, again without success. However, the simple fact was that Trotsky lacked the personal financial means to travel anywhere. He confessed to Uritskii that when he arrived in Cadiz I had only about 40 francs left. 10 In Copenhagen Uritskii was closely associated with another revolutionary plotter, Alexander Israel Helphand-Parvus. He assisted Parvus by managing a clandestine courier service. 11 That, of course, was an excellent means to discreetly transfer messages and money to Spain. Trotsky and Parvus had a relationship that dated back to In fact, for several years they were the closest of comrades and intellectual partners. 12 Ideological differences eventually intruded, and in 1915 Trotsky published an Epitaph in Nashe slovo in which he proclaimed Parvus politically dead. 13 The reason for this denunciation was Parvus s blatant pro-germanism. Simply put, Parvus argued that in the current war the best interests of international Socialism would be served by the victory of the nation with the most advanced proletariat; and that, to his mind, was Germany. 14 He put himself at the disposal of Berlin and persuaded the Kaiser s men to give him millions of marks to mount a subversive offensive against Russia. How successful he was in this endeavor is a matter of debate, but there is no doubt that he gave it his best effort. Yet, Trotsky preserved a certain affection for his old friend and it is fair to ask whether his private feelings were the same as his public ones. Did Trotsky s denunciation, which stopped short of calling Parvus a German agent, mask a secret, ongoing collaboration? Also, even if Trotsky was through with Parvus, it did not necessarily follow that Parvus was through with him. Despite Trotsky s and Nashe slovo s outwardly hostile attitude, Parvus channeled German funds to the paper to abet its defeatist work. 15 An important detail about the Trotsky Uritskii letter is that it somehow ended up in the hands of Britain s MI5. It would seem that British intelligence had its eyes on Trotsky. In that regard, it is worth noting that British spying in Spain was under the control of the Admiralty s Naval Intelligence Division (NID), headed by Admiral William Reginald Blinker Hall. Hall and NID will pop up again later in the story. Towards the end of December, Trotsky suddenly learned that he was booked to sail for America, not from Cadiz, but from distant Barcelona. There he was re-united with Natalia and his sons, and the happy family even had time to go sightseeing before departing. The vessel that Trotsky and family boarded in Barcelona was the SS Montserrat. Trotsky remembered that they boarded on Christmas Day, which might have been so, but the ship did not sail until 28 December. He described the Montserrat as an old tub little suited for ocean voyages. 16 The liner had certainly seen better days and, at a mere 4,000 tons, it must have provided a lively ride in the rough weather ahead. Nevertheless, the ship had successfully navigated the Atlantic crossing for three decades and would continue to do so for several years to come. Trotsky also complained about the exorbitant fares charged by the Spanish operators and the bad accommodations and
5 36 REVOLUTIONARY RUSSIA even worse food. 17 Of course, he was not paying for any of it. Moreover, even if the Montserrat did not offer top-of-the-range amenities, the Trotskys had the best that it could offer. The ship could haul more than a thousand passengers, but on this winter crossing she carried fewer than 350. The Trotskys were among the few score first-class passengers. 18 Four first-cabin passages, even with a discount for the minors, would have cost at least and possibly more than (in 1917 prices). In either case, this was far beyond the resources of a man who last claimed 40 francs to his name. Moreover, information collected by American immigration showed that the fares had been purchased for him not by him. This brings us back to the question of who was helping Trotsky in Spain. The mystery is solved, in part, by a late 1917 French intelligence report from Barcelona. This reveals Trotsky s benefactor as Ernst (also Ernest or Ernesto) Bark or Bark-Soukh, a Russian émigré and cosmopolitan revolutionary. 19 According to the report, it was he who provided Trotsky with the money necessary to pay his passage to America. 20 The report also noted that Bark arranged Trotsky s release from the Madrid lock-up. It is also likely, therefore, that it was Bark who kept him safely in Cadiz and off a slow boat to Cuba. The Bark connection may also explain Trotsky s last-minute detour from Cadiz to Barcelona. This would have taken him through Madrid, Bark s home. The journey otherwise makes no sense because the Montserrat s first stop upon leaving Barcelona was Cadiz. Trotsky could simply have stayed put and rendezvoused with his family when it dropped anchor there on 30 December. The bigger question, though, is whether Bark provided this help on his own initiative, or was acting for someone else someone like Parvus. Bark was a respected member of Spain s radical-bohemian community. He came from a Baltic German noble family in what is today Estonia and attended German universities. This left him with personal ties in Germany and a deep admiration of its culture, something he shared with Parvus. Bark also championed the liberation of his Baltic homeland from tsarist rule. That not only meshed with Parvus s support of separatist causes but also may have linked Bark to another pro-german, Estonian revolutionary, Aleksander Kesküla. 21 While Kesküla worked his own angles with Berlin, he had contact with Parvus and Uritskii and could have served as an intermediary between them and Bark. Bark s French dossier also indicates that his association with Trotsky may have continued after the establishment of the Soviet regime: a notation dated 25 January 1919 describes Bark as an Agent bolcheviste. Last, but by no means least, Ernst Bark was the first cousin of the last Minister of Finance of Imperial Russia, Petr L vovich Bark. To all outward appearances, Petr Bark was a loyal servant of Nicholas II, but that did not prevent him from engaging Olaf Aschberg, a Swedish financier with socialist sympathies and German connections, to act as his financial agent, most notably in New York. Aschberg and his Stockholm-based Nya Banken were also tied to Parvus s network. 22 It seems fair to conclude, then, that Bark was Parvus s cat s-paw in Spain. But why would Parvus have wanted to dispatch Trotsky to America? The answer is found in his comments to his masters in Berlin that the USA, with its enormous number of Jews and Slavs, offered a very receptive element for anti-tsarist agitation. 23 A celebrated Russian-Jewish socialist and veteran propagandist like Trotsky was the ideal man to lead such an effort. A report reaching US Military Intelligence from Copenhagen in early 1918 declared that Trotsky was bought by the Germans and that he had arranged [the] Bolshevik movement together with [Parvus]. 24
6 TROTSKY S AMERICAN VISIT OF The American scene also offered rich new avenues for fund-raising. An early 1917 report to the Okhrana from its man in New York, George Patrick, claimed that Trotsky had come to America with the specific aim of securing funds to support Nachalo and other revolutionary activities in Europe. 25 Trotsky would allegedly confess as much to one of his traveling companions on the Montserrat. Aboard the liner, Trotsky found himself among a collection of outcasts he described as not very attractive in its variety. 26 Actually, the Trotskys had some very interesting traveling companions. Directly following them on the passenger manifest were three other first-class travelers, a mother and son, Sarah and Moise Raiss, and their friend Isaak Japka. The former pair were Romanian Jews, late of Paris. They apparently came to Barcelona to meet up with their friend Japka. The latter, like Trotsky, was from Ukraine. Japka, who described himself as a merchant, had been living in Barcelona and, prior to that, Paris. So, had he or the Raisses encountered Trotsky before? And did Japka have ties to Bark? A detail which hints that Trotsky s proximity to the Raisses was more than coincidence is that the pair indicated their contact in New York as David Raiss, Moise s brother. David Raiss s address was 324, East 9 th St. 27 That building lay on the opposite side of the same East Village block that contained 77, St Marks Place, home of Novyi mir, the radical newspaper for which Trotsky would soon be working. So, Trotsky and the Raisses where not only bound for the same city, but also had connections on the same block of that sprawling metropolis an improbable coincidence to say the least. One of the few passengers Trotsky deigned to note in his memoirs was a boxer who is also a novelist and cousin of Oscar Wilde s. 28 Actually, the fellow was a poet and Wilde s nephew. He was a boxer, though: in fact, he was a former amateur champion of France at light-heavyweight class. He was traveling to New York under the name of Avenarius F. Lloyd, but his real name was Fabian Lloyd, although he is best known to posterity as Arthur Cravan, a founding member of the Dadaist fraternity and all-round cultural subversive. An Englishman raised in Switzerland, Cravan had a habit of assuming identities, a contempt for convention and a taste for adventure. These factors would have made him an excellent spy, but if so, whose? He had been hanging out in Barcelona with a gaggle of pacifist artists among whom were one or more suspected German agents. 29 If Cravan was doing any spying, he likely was doing it for the British, the same people who were reading Trotsky s mail. For months Cravan had talked of going to America but had never mustered the will or money to do so. A little encouragement and cash from the local British consulate would have been enough to get him on his way. By design or accident, the French-speaking Cravan chatted up Trotsky. It was Cravan who reportedly recalled that Trotsky confessed that he was heading to the States in search of money. 30 In New York, Cravan could have reported this and any other useful tidbits to William Wiseman. *** The Montserrat left Cadiz on 1 January 1917 and arrived in New York Harbor very late on the night of 13 January. (Trotsky was therefore a bit off on the length of the actually crossing, which took 12 days, not the 17 he mentions in his memoirs.) Disembarkation took place the following morning. The passenger manifest prepared for US immigration reveals several interesting details. 31 Trotsky listed his occupation as Author and
7 38 REVOLUTIONARY RUSSIA declared himself to be neither an anarchist nor a polygamist. More interesting, he is noted as carrying at least $500. That would be the equivalent of roughly $10,000 today. This belies Trotsky s implication and the statement of his German socialist friend Ludwig Lore that the Great Exile arrived in New York practically penniless. 32 Bark s, or someone s, generosity obviously did not stop at buying tickets. Another detail in the same vein is that Trotsky indicated his initial place of stay as the swanky Hotel Astor near Times Square. Not only was this one of the more expensive hostelries in the city, it also had the reputation as the gathering place of the social elite. All in all, it seems a strange place for a revolutionary socialist to take his rest. Of course, given that Trotsky had no acquaintance with New York and its amenities, someone must have made the reservation for him. The question, as usual, is who. According to Lore, when Trotsky landed here his name was known only to his countrymen and to a handful of German Socialists. 33 However, his arrival was not unheralded. Novyi mir announced his forthcoming arrival on 6 December. The editors had been tipped off by a wire from Trotsky himself, who was still anticipating a departure at the end of November. Information reaching the Okhrana indicated that the majority of Russian and Jewish socialists in New York eagerly anticipated his arrival and welcomed him with a grand reception that attracted delegates from other cities. 34 If this was Parvus s design, things were off to an excellent start. Ludwig Lore, who was to become one of Trotsky s key American collaborators, recollects a reception at Cooper Union Hall on the day following Trotsky s arrival. 35 It was hosted by the American Socialist Party and Lore later wondered whether anyone has ever had a more characteristic reception. The conclave was chaired by Sergius Ingerman, leader of the Russian Socialists in this country and an ardent Menshevik. Ingerman apparently believed Trotsky to be of the same ilk, but ideological differences soon surfaced and instead of a demonstration of welcome [the meeting] became a fierce, though outwardly polite, battle of conflicting opinions. 36 It was the first step in Trotsky s rapid disillusionment with American socialism. However, the Trotskys had not been without an immediate welcome of sorts when they stepped off the Montserrat. Someone had tipped off the press and the New York Times sent a reporter to the scene. According to the article (which ran on 15 January), Trotsky, the Pacifist editor and socialist who had been expelled from four lands, was met on the rain-swept pier by Arthur Concors of the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society. 37 Concors acted as Trotsky s translator in the brief interview with the Times, which included details at odds with otherwise established facts. For instance, Trotsky is quoted as having been in Berlin editing a Jewish paper, not Vienna, when the war began. Also, in this version, following his release from the Madrid jail, he went to Seville and only reached Cadiz when taken there by Spanish police and forcibly put aboard the Montserrat. There was absolutely no mention of Barcelona or leisurely sightseeing with his family. Perhaps the fault lies with Concors s translation or the reporter s recording of it. Or, was Trotsky deliberately distorting the story and, if so, to what purpose? The Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society was a charitable organization dedicated to helping Jewish arrivals with food, shelter and jobs. It also sniffed out undesirables, promoted Americanization and encouraged newcomers to seek work outside the major urban areas. Trotsky and his family were not the usual sort of travelers the Society aided, nor were they interested in such services. Nor was Arthur Concors a
8 TROTSKY S AMERICAN VISIT OF simple staffer. He was, in fact, superintendent of the Society and a member of its board of directors. 38 Someone got Concors out of bed to welcome the wandering revolutionary, a revolutionary supposedly unknown outside a narrow political sphere. Who might that have been? The answer must lie among the men Concors answered to. The Society s advisory board contained several luminaries of the American Jewish establishment, among them Julian Mack, Louis Marshall, Oscar Strauss and Dr Stephen Wise. Arguably the most important of the lot, and a main financial backer, was Jacob Henry Schiff, head of the investment banking House of Kuhn, Loeb & Co. 39 Rightly or wrongly, to this day, Jacob Schiff is widely cited as the man who supplied Trotsky with cash and sent him back to Petrograd to topple the Provisional Government. 40 Beyond this, Schiff often features as part of the vast Jewish conspiracy and has been alleged to have instigated and financed the Bolshevik regime. 41 Here we come perilously close to the slippery slope that descends into the toxic realm of the Elders of Zion and the Illuminati. We must be careful not to allow speculation to get out of hand and we must proceed cautiously. The basic fact is that, despite all the accusations, there is no demonstrable direct link between Trotsky and Schiff, monetary or otherwise. That said, if Schiff did provide any such assistance, he would not have signed any cheques or left a neat record in any ledger. While replete with exaggeration, disinformation and outright fabrication, allegations of a Schiff Trotsky tie are, as we shall see, not wholly imaginary. In fact, Schiff later voiced strong displeasure with the Bolsheviks and even offered to work against them. 42 However, in early 1917, the situation was very different: the tsar was still on the throne, the United States was a neutral country, and Trotsky was not a Bolshevik. Jacob Schiff was, and long had been, a bitter enemy of the tsarist regime. His opposition stemmed from the Russian government s mistreatment of its millions of Jewish subjects, although he had never experienced this himself nor even set foot in Russia. In pursuit of his campaign against tsarism, Schiff bankrolled the American activities of the Friends of Russian Freedom, a London-based organization that offered aid and encouragement to all enemies of Nicholas II. Also, during the Russo-Japanese War Schiff had arranged the loans that financed Tokyo s war effort and even financed the printing and dissemination of revolutionary propaganda among Russian POWs. 43 More recently, he had refused to participate in any Allied loan efforts that might benefit Russia. A factor usually overlooked by those obsessing over Schiff s Jewishness was his Germanness. He was German born and retained strong familial and financial ties to the country. His two brothers, Ludwig and Phillip Schiff, were bankers in Germany with ties to the Kaiser s court. The same went for Schiff s friend and key business partner Max Warburg, a personal friend of Wilhelm II and a financial mainstay of the German war effort. A report reaching the hands of William Wiseman named Max Warburg as the chief German agent in Russia. 44 Another Warburg brother, Fritz, was Berlin s commercial representative in Stockholm, and under that cover he conducted secret peace talks with Russian representatives in He also had contact with Parvus. 45 Schiff employed two more of Max s brothers at his firm, Felix and Paul. They, too, allegedly had their hands in pro-german intrigues. 46 Information collected by American intelligence showed that as early as 1915 Jacob Schiff had contact with a Baron Rapp who interested [him] in [a] propaganda movement to overthrow the Czar of Russia to free the Russian Jews. 47 As a result, Jacob Schiff sent several millions of dollars to Berlin for this purpose and several men, well
9 40 REVOLUTIONARY RUSSIA known to the U.S. Secret Service agent, were connected with this matter. 48 Even some of Schiff s Jewish associates in New York were critical of his German connections. One was Columbia University professor and Zionist activist Richard Gottheil, who insisted that Schiff s money supported pro-german efforts including using East-Side societies to spread pacifist propaganda. 49 This much, then, is certain: Schiff was anti-tsarist and pro-german and had a track record of financing revolutionaries. All or some of his Warburg associates were involved in Berlin-backed, subversive activities against Russia, activities that dovetailed with those of Parvus. Thus, Schiff had good reason to take an interest in Trotsky and offer him support. Moreover, if there was a link between Schiff and Trotsky, British spymaster Wiseman would surely have been aware of it. The above-mentioned Professor Gottheil was one of Wiseman s stable of informants and he shared his reservations about Schiff and others. Most importantly, Wiseman had a spy right in the board room of Schiff s House of Kuhn, Loeb & Co: Otto H. Kahn, a man Wiseman s adjutant Major Norman Thwaites later praised as whole-heartedly pro- Allied and especially pro-british. 50 Any connection between Schiff and Trotsky would have necessitated the utilization of one or more discreet intermediaries (or cut-outs in espionage terms). Concors is an obvious candidate. Perhaps it was he, on Schiff s instructions, who steered Trotsky to the Hotel Astor. Interestingly, among its residents was one Otto Schwarzschild, who had recently returned from a trip to German-occupied Poland, a journey that took him through Berlin. Schwarzschild ostensibly worked for the Committee for the East, a relief organization established to aid Jews in war-torn Poland. However, it also disseminated pro-german propaganda among the Jews. 51 Among its main backers was Jacob Schiff. US officials labeled Schwarzschild as a German spy and also noted that he had visited Jacob Schiff a number of times during Just more coincidence? If not, then Trotsky s presence at the Astor may have been for the purpose of meeting Schwarzschild, who was acting as a cut-out for Schiff and/or German intelligence. If Trotsky checked into the Astor, he did not stay long. Other helping hands magically appeared to help him find a three-room (plus kitchen and bathroom) apartment in the Bronx for a very reasonable $18 per month. Natalia paid three months rent in advance, which belies Lore s claim that the question of meeting expenses was a serious problem. 53 Since the apartment came unfurnished, they purchased the necessary furnishings, some $200 worth, on hire purchase. That required no significant outlay, but it did require a guarantor. Trotsky later insisted that his only job in New York was that of revolutionary socialist and brushed aside claims that he earned extra money as a film extra or cod-fish cleaner. 54 Lore also denies such fantastic stories. 55 Fantastic they probably are, but there are legitimate questions about the amount of money Trotsky received and where it originated. After Trotsky s name burst into the headlines, New York Deputy Attorney General Alfred Becker made an investigation of just what he had been doing in New York, including his sources of income. 56 Becker s agents discovered that Trotsky s main employer, Novyi mir, paid him $20 a week which amounted to a total of some $200. Oddly, Ludwig Lore recollected the pay as being a mere $7 per week. 57 Was the salary padded out after the fact to disguise another source of income? Public lectures brought in another $280 to $350 and articles penned for Lore s Volkszeitung reaped $150 to $200 more. Finally, a collection taken at Trotsky s farewell party at the Hudson River Casino
10 TROTSKY S AMERICAN VISIT OF the night before his sailing netted $226. However, Trotsky recollected that the collection was $310 and claimed that he distributed every cent of it to his cash-strapped companions. 58 Clearly, an exact determination is impossible, but at minimum Trotsky visibly earned a bit more than $700 and no more than $1,000. Of course, this did not take into account the $500 he had to start with, something of which he carefully made no mention. Even with that, minus living expenses he would have been hard pressed to afford the $1, he later handed over for 16 second-class and one first-class passages on the Norwegian line s Kristianiafjord. 59 But Trotsky had not been paying his own way since Spain, and there is no reason to suppose he was doing so now. In the end, Becker was forced to declare that I have been unable to verify any indication of Trotzky [sic] receiving money from any German sources. The radical New York Call hailed this as prima facie proof that the German libel was false. 60 Of course, clandestine financiers do not give receipts, and, if need be, a small bundle of cash is a simple enough thing to conceal or slip to another passenger. Trotsky described his Bronx neighbourhood as a workers district, but it was no tenement-filled slum. Thanks to the recent extension of the New York transit system, much of the Bronx had become a subway suburb. Years later, Trotsky still marveled at the wonders of this modest home: a telephone, electric lights, a refrigerator, a gas range and even an elevator amenities some might be tempted to describe as bourgeois. However, these do not explain why Trotsky chose to live miles away from his place of work in the East Village. Surely he could have found some suitable apartment in the vicinity. Who or what drew him to the Bronx? A simple question which defies a simple answer is exactly where Trotsky s Bronx apartment was. Trotsky recollected that we lived on 164th Street, if I am not mistaken. 61 Once more, he was. Lore and Becker s investigation agree that the apartment was on Vyse Avenue. The specific address seems to have been 1,522, Vyse at 172nd St. 62 The weight of evidence argues that this address is the right one, but to add a further twist, a report to the Paris Okhrana in February 1917 states that Trotsky and family were living at 265, Prospect Avenue. 63 The problem is, there was no 265, Prospect Avenue. The nearest thing is 1,265 Prospect, which lay between 167th and 168th Streets. All these locales lay within a relatively small radius, but none was so close that they would be easily confused. Nothing indicates that the Trotskys changed addresses. Did he simply forget where he lived, or did he have some other reason to obscure the details? To unravel this, we must return to the intra-party intrigues that followed Trotsky s reception. Immediately following the Cooper Union reception, Lore recalls a meeting in a private home in Brooklyn. There Trotsky addressed a more intimate gathering of fellow Russians and other left-wing Socialists, Lore included. Trotsky roused them to action against the mainstream Socialist Party, which he dismissed as an organization fit only for successful dentists. 64 An interesting array of Bolsheviks and future Bolsheviks were present, including Nikolai Bukharin, Grigorii Chudnovskii, V. Volodarskii and Alexandra Kollontai. All were connected with Novyi mir and on the same day, 15 January, Trotsky formally joined the staff. British intelligence later singled out Chudnovskii as Trotsky s right-hand man at Novyi mir. 65 Equally interesting is that Chudnovskii earlier had worked beside Parvus in Switzerland and Copenhagen. 66 Thus, in Trotsky s closest collaborator in New York we
11 42 REVOLUTIONARY RUSSIA find yet another Parvus man. Trotsky s association with Kollontai also may have had an added significance. According to Lore, she came to the USA on a secret mission under the direction of Lenin to collect funds for Russian revolutionary purposes. 67 It was this money, Lore continued, contributed by well-to-do Russian-Americans, that aided the Bolshevik wing to organize its forces in Russia in preparation for the imminent overthrow of the Tsar. Trotsky mentions that Kollontai was in contact with Lenin and kept him informed of all doings in New York, my own activities included. 68 Up to this point, Parvus had little or nothing to show for his attempts to woo Lenin and he would have been at least curious about Kollontai s activities. While there is no indication of any Trotsky Parvus communication in this period, it is not inconceivable that the former quietly passed on information about Kollontai through Chudnovskii or some other intermediary. Lore s comments about Kollontai s clandestine fundraising are echoed by two other Russians in New York, Nikolai Volgar and Pavel Perov. Both were connected to the Russian wartime purchasing and diplomatic apparatus in the USA, Volgar as secretary-treasurer of the Russian American Asiatic Corporation and Perov as onetime secretary to Ambassador Boris Bakhmet ev. In early November 1917, just before the Bolshevik coup, the pair approached American intelligence. Volgar claimed that he could produce in court, proof of the source through which German funds were paid to Leon Trotsky which funds financed Trotsky s mission to Russia. 69 In a related memorandum, Volgar and Perov noted that Trotsky, along with the Estonian socialist Boegelmann/Pogelmann (a Bark tie?), anarchist Bill Shatoff and others received through a certain artist-writer and socialist Bolshevik type, M-me Malmberg, $20,000 here and other large sums were transferred through the Swedish and Finnish Banks to M-me Kolonty [sic] in Petrograd. 70 The Swedish bank in question was undoubtedly Aschberg s. The Malmberg referred to was Aino Malmberg, a Finnish socialist who made various trips between New York and Scandinavia during the war. She most recently returned from Stockholm in early October 1916 and was in New York during all or most of Trotsky s visit. Kollontai, too, did her share of traveling. She had last been in Stockholm in August 1916 where she had dealings with Lenin s local agent Aleksandr Shliapnikov. 71 Lore claims that Trotsky s main preoccupation in the ensuing weeks, besides lecturing and writing, was forging a true revolutionary, anti-war party out of the left wing of the American Socialists. Most of his following came from the party s Russian and German Federations, and among those jumping on the Trotsky bandwagon were Lore, Louis Fraina and Julius Hammer. According to Lore, Trotsky was convinced that the United States was ripe for the overthrow of the capitalist system. 72 He urged the calling of general strikes against war as a means of undermining the proud structure of our decaying civilization. 73 On 4 March, the Times recorded that Trotsky attended a local Socialist gathering where he introduced a motion calling upon the comrades to foment strikes and resist the draft in event of war. 74 This is exactly what Parvus and Berlin would have ordered. Among Trotsky s American followers was Julius Hammer, a veteran of the old Socialist Labor Party and a future founder of the American Communist movement. Also of Russian-Jewish background, Hammer, who was five years Trotsky s elder, was one of those not-so-rare creatures, a radical Marxist cum wealthy entrepreneur. He was a successful physician and primary owner of the Allied Drug & Chemical Co.
12 TROTSKY S AMERICAN VISIT OF The resources of the profitable firm strained to support both Hammer s opulent lifestyle and his generous support of radical causes. Lenin later hailed Comrade Hammer as an American millionaire, which may only have been a slight exaggeration. 75 He was, without doubt, one of the well-to-do Russian Americans who provided Kollontai with funds. Did his role as financial angel also extend to Trotsky? The answer, to one degree or another, is yes. Julius Hammer lived in the Bronx, at 1,488, Washington Avenue, less than a mile and an easy drive from Trotsky s place on Vyse Avenue. In his memoirs, Trotsky cryptically mentions a Dr. M, a Bronx neighbour who, along with his wife, befriended the Trotskys and gave Natalia and the boys rides in his chauffeured car. 76 Oddly, the doctor is one of the few persons Trotsky does not bother to name. Lore also recalls the doctor and describes him as an acquaintance of the Trotskys who took them on sightseeing trips. 77 Bronx historian Lloyd Ultan has skillfully assembled various clues to the identity of this man. First, he had to live somewhere nearby. To converse with Trotsky he would need to have been fluent in Russian and/or German. Most importantly, he must have shared Trotsky s political faith. Considering Trotsky s contempt for wellto-do dentists and their ilk, this well-to-do doctor would have had to have been a man after his own heart. Ultan rightly concludes that only one man could be defined by all these clues. He was Dr Julius Hammer. 78 And Hammer had a car and driver among his household staff. So, Hammer s was almost certainly the helping hand that guided Trotsky to the Bronx and situated him in a home only blocks from his own. Hammer s hand, too, was probably the one that co-signed for the Trotskys furniture. Doubtless Hammer would have been willing to provide other help as needed. He might easily have come up with the $10,000 Trotsky was supposed have on him when he left New York. The question, as ever, is whether Hammer did such things out of the kindness of his socialist heart, or at the behest of Parvus or Schiff or someone else. Today, Julius Hammer s historical role is eclipsed by the flamboyant and devious career of his eldest son, Armand. Along with amassing fame, fortune and influence, the younger Hammer, faithful to his father s ideals, was a lifelong servant of Soviet interests. 79 Indeed, when Trotsky s My Life appeared in 1930, Armand was busily involved in Soviet schemes schemes which probably would have been jeopardized by any reminder that the elder Hammer had once been an admirer of Stalin s arch-enemy. By disguising Julius as Dr. M, Trotsky may have been repaying an old debt, and just maybe masking an ongoing association. Armand got his introduction to clandestine affairs in 1921 when Julius, then serving time in Sing-Sing for manslaughter, dispatched his son to Russia on a business trip. The background to this trip yields another clue. Armand s journey to Russia required a passport and the application for that included a letter from one Henry Kuntz. Kuntz, a minor partner in Allied Drug & Chemical, averred that he had known father and son for 15 years. 80 Kuntz is of no importance himself, but he leads us to another man, one of his business partners in New York and Russia during the First World War. This was Sidney G. Reilly. Russian-Jewish despite his assumed Irish name, like Hammer, Parvus and Trotsky, Reilly had an early connection to Odessa. He would go on to earn some notoriety, mostly undeserved, as a British Ace of Spies. 81 American naval intelligence probably came closer to the mark when it described him and his shady pals as international confidence men of the highest class. 82
13 44 REVOLUTIONARY RUSSIA In Russia, Reilly was widely believed to be a German agent and he certainly associated with persons who were. Nevertheless, he had friends in high places and ran in a crowd of equally dubious wheeler-dealers. In New York, he was a director of the Allied Machinery Company, a firm American investigators linked to secret trade with Germany via Sweden. That definitely entailed a connection to Aschberg and, maybe, Parvus. 83 It also is interesting that Allied Machinery engaged in a lively business with Spain and had an office in Barcelona. Reilly came to the USA in 1915 to acquire arms and munitions contacts for the Russian military. His nominal employer in this venture was Abram Zhivotovskii, the same fellow Trotsky would feel such an urgent need to contact when he reached Norway. In my original article, I noted stories claiming that Zhivotovskii was Trotsky s uncle, cousin or brother-in-law, which I dismissed as probably untrue. I was wrong. Zhivotovskii was Trotsky s maternal uncle. 84 Actually, he was one of at least four brothers of Trotsky s mother, each of whom was a successful businessman by the time of the First World War. 85 Abram Zhivotovskii was associated with various Russian banks and had numerous friends in financial and governmental spheres. The latter included Petr Bark. But perhaps more important are threads linking Zhivotovskii to Stockholm and Aschberg. 86 In March 1915, Zhivotovskii came under investigation in Russia on suspicion of trading with the enemy. 87 Police searched his offices in Petrograd and he spent time in custody. Thanks to his connections, however, by early 1916 Zhivotovskii was out and back in business bigger than ever. US authorities listed him as a grafter of bad reputation and a known associate of German agents. 88 Information in the hands of the US State Department later described Zhivotovskii as a man who was outwardly very anti-bolshevik but who in fact had laundered large sums for the benefit of the Bolsheviks and other revolutionary organizations. 89 A similar report from December 1918 listed him as a Bolshevist and uncle of Leon Trotzky [who was] an important purchasing agent for the allies under the Empire [and now] on [a] Bolshevik mission in Stockholm. 90 Another, from 1917 or early 1918, identified Abraham Jivotovoski as the man who had inaugurated Bolshevist propaganda in Japan. 91 Everything suggests that, besides blood, Trotsky and uncle Abram shared politics. During the war, Zhivotovskii maintained an office and large bank accounts in Yokohama under the supervision of another nephew (and Trotsky s cousin) Iosif Timofeiovich Zhivotovskii. 92 The latter was at one point Reilly s secretary. It may be significant that in October 1916, more or less simultaneous with Trotsky s appearance in Spain, Reilly made a quick trip to Japan. He was back in New York just about the time or immediately after Trotsky s arrival. Reilly s jaunt would have provided a secure means to carry messages or even money from Zhivotovskii to Trotsky. It may also mean something that among Zhivotovskii s business intimates we find another Chudnovskii, M.P. Chudnovskii, a possible relation of Trotsky s loyal comrade at Novyi mir. 93 Coincidence or conspiracy, the connections just keep coming. Reilly s two most intimate cronies in New York were Alexander Weinstein (Vainshtein) and Antony Jehalski. Weinstein had been Zhivotovskii s man in London, but joined forces with Reilly in the summer of Like Zhivotovskii, he made a public show of loyalty to Nicholas II, but other sources showed that he was clearly identified with the Bolsheviki. 94 An American businessman reported that Weinstein gave a dinner party soon after the Revolution in celebration of the Czar s downfall, and a number of Russians and Socialists were guests at the dinner. 95 Perhaps Trotsky was one of them.
14 TROTSKY S AMERICAN VISIT OF The odds on that are increased by the fact that Alexander Weinstein s brother was Gregory Weinstein, revolutionary and business manager of Novyi mir. American intelligence reports name Gregory Weinstein as closely associated with Trotzky while the latter was in this country. 96 Antony Jechalski was reputedly a most dangerous German spy and simultaneously a confidant of officials in the Russian Consulate and the related Supply Committee. 97 In the autumn of 1916, he was hanging around Havana on some vague business and rushed back to New York a week before Trotsky s arrival. Among other things, Jehalski acted as a middleman between pro-german Polish groups and the American pacifist Dr Judah Magnes. 98 Magnes was a friend and collaborator of none other that Jacob Schiff and another of those whom Professor Gottheil considered heart and soul with the German cause. 99 Last but not least, another of Reilly and Weinstein s familiars was Benny (Veniamin) Sverdlov, a minor Russian arms broker who was a brother of Lenin s future right-hand man, Iakov Sverdlov. 100 All this fits with the notion of a German connection for Trotsky, but Reilly & Company s clandestine links also ran in another and contradictory, direction to British intelligence. Wiseman and his deputy, Norman Thwaites, oversaw compartmentalized networks, one of which included double agents and persons who have special facilities for getting into the confidence of German agents. 101 Reilly and his pals were part of this. Wiseman and Thwaites carefully concealed their dealings with these men not only from the Germans, but also from the Americans and even from other British services. After the war, Wiseman did business with Reilly and cheerfully acknowledged him as an old chum, while Thwaites praised Reilly and Weinstein for their excellent intelligence work and valuable services to the Allies. 102 In mid-april 1917, while Trotsky was still a prisoner in Canada, an interesting meeting took place in Manhattan between one of Wiseman s operatives (probably Thwaites) and a trio of Russians. One of these was Evgenii Kuzmin. He had first come to the USA in late 1915 aboard the same vessel that carried Alexandra Kollontai. Kuzmin worked for the Russian Army s counter-intelligence and he had been tracking the activities of German agents and revolutionary exiles in Scandinavia. At the April meeting, he revealed himself to Wiseman as an agent of the Russian General Staff and Chief of the Russian Secret Police in the USA. 103 The gathering took place in the office of Ivan Narodny, a Russian businessman, writer and revolutionary activist. The third Russian present was Nikolai Kuznetsov, an engineer. He was a most intimate friend and business associate of Alexander Weinstein and Sidney Reilly and a close friend of Russian-American lawyer Nicholas Alienikoff. 104 Alienikoff, in turn, described himself as an intimate of Trotsky and Chudnovskii and was one of those then agitating for Trotsky s release from British captivity. 105 Just what this odd cabal discussed is not recorded, but it is hard to believe that Trotsky s name did not figure in some way. The host, Ivan Narodny, was the close collaborator of another Russian radical, Ivan Okuntsov, publisher of the anti-tsarist but non-sectarian Russkii golos. 106 Okuntsov and Narodny cordially hated and were hated by the Novyi mir crowd, each side accusing the other of malfeasance and consorting with German agents. 107 Narodny and Okuntsov presented themselves as loyal adherents of the new Provisional Government and were part of the same circle that included the above-mentioned Perov and Volgar. Like that pair, Narodny later swore to Alexander Kerensky that he could prove that Trotzky
15 46 REVOLUTIONARY RUSSIA and other Socialists who went from here to Russia got money from German agents. 108 Okuntsov would vouch the same. 109 The Kuzmin Narodny Okuntsov axis hints at a plot cooked up by rival radicals, perhaps acting with the encouragement of persons in Petrograd, to smear Trotsky with the German libel. If nothing else, they may have been trying to compound or exploit his difficulty. One thing that Alienikoff and Narodny had in common is that both passed information to William Wiseman. So, of course, did Weinstein, Reilly and others. Thus, Sir William was positioned to gather information on Trotsky from many different angles. In Trotsky s MI5 dossier there is a tantalizing reference to a C (SIS) Report on Russian Revolutionaries in New York Activities & Movements of Trotzki, Leon. 110 The report is missing from the dossier, but it shows that Wiseman was engaged in active surveillance of his activities activities that someone in London wanted to know about. Another man who may have played a witting or unwitting part in Wiseman s Trotsky intelligence-gathering was Irish-American writer Frank Harris. As editor of the anti-war Pearson s Magazine, Harris was one of the few Americans to entice Trotsky into an interview. Someone who may have abetted this was George Raffalovitch, who was employed by Harris in some vague capacity. Raffalovitch was the son or nephew of Artur Raffalovitch (Rafalovich), the longtime agent of the Russian Finance Ministry in France. Another of George s kin was Nikolai Raffalovitch, a man later denounced to Wiseman as mixed-up in pro-german intrigues in Paris. 111 Nikolai was also closely associated with the Russo-Asiatic Bank. So was Abram Zhivotovskii. According to other reports reaching Wiseman and the US Justice Department, George Raffalovitch was not only involved with Russian revolutionary circles but was also a paymaster of German agents. 112 In the month of February , said one, he paid out about $18,000. Thus, Raffalovitch was yet another potential conduit for clandestine funds. Raffalovitch insisted that his real loyalty lay with the Ukrainian nationalist cause. In that he was aligned with the so-called League for the Liberation of the Ukraine. Interestingly, this was one of the German-sponsored groups subsidized by none other than Alexander Helphand-Parvus. 113 If nothing more, it is another curious set of coincidences. Another significant thing about Harris and Raffalovitch is their common tie to the flamboyant occultist Aleister Crowley. He was an old friend of both and in 1917 still an active confidant of Harris. While Crowley publicly acted the part of an anti-british propagandist and freely associated with Germans and pro-germans, he was a secret employee of the British Government who supplied information to the men at 44, Whitehall. 114 Crowley shared many haunts and acquaintances with the aforementioned Arthur Cravan. He had many contacts among in the radical-bohemian community, among them was Ivan Narodny. But, arguably, Wiseman s most important Russian source where Trotsky was concerned was an ex-scotland Yard and Okhrana informant, Casimir Pilenas. In the years before the war, Pilenas, a Lithuanian, kept both agencies abreast of Russian revolutionary intrigues in London. 115 As a British S.S. agent of the Scotland Yard detachment he now did the same for Wiseman, reporting directly to Thwaites and naval attaché Guy Gaunt. 116 Wiseman allegedly expressed absolute confidence in Pilenas and was certain that he worked for no other person but [me]. 117 Pilenas was the source for
16 TROTSKY S AMERICAN VISIT OF Wiseman s 22 March telegram that Trotsky s return was being backed by Jewish funds behind which are possibly German. 118 *** Meanwhile in Petrograd, an escalating wave of strikes, riots and mutinies culminated in the abdication of Nicholas II on 15 March Trotsky seemed to know about this almost at once. That very evening, he was interviews at Novyi mir by the New York Times and expressed his belief that the new Provisional Government would probably be short-lived. 119 The regime, he proclaimed, did not represent the interests or the aims of the revolutionists. It would soon fall to other men, he added, to carry forward the democratization of Russia. However, he was quick to add that the revolutionists or his sort of revolutionists, in any case stood absolutely opposed to a separate peace with Germany. The Provisional Government promptly issued a general amnesty of political prisoners on 16 March 1917 and called on all expatriates to come home. Still, it was not until 25 March that Trotsky got round to presenting himself at the Russian Consulate to obtain a new passport. His treatment by the confused officials was cool but correct. Lore recollects that Trotsky made a fuss by refusing a passport that still bore the Imperial Eagle and finally obtained a document on plain stationery that certified his right to enter Russia. 120 That same day, Trotsky called on the British Consulate at 44, Whitehall St. Under the rules of the British blockade of Germany, passengers bound for Scandinavia had to pass inspection at either Halifax, Nova Scotia or the Orkney Islands. Thus, persons passing through those ports needed the appropriate visa. The Passport Control Section of the Consulate handled this work, and it was under the direct supervision of Wiseman s deputy Thwaites. In an article written soon after his arrival in Petrograd, Trotsky admitted the helpful attitude of the British consular officials. They assured him that they would put no obstacle in the way of my return to Russia, and even allowed him to phone the Russian Consulate to attest that all the necessary paperwork was done. 121 It should be kept in mind that this was three days after Wiseman had received and passed on Pilenas s warning. One thing Becker s investigation noted but did not pay much attention to was the man from whom Trotsky purchased his return tickets. He was Henry C. Zaro, a steamship agent operating at 1, 3rd Avenue. Zaro s office was only a couple of blocks away from the Novyi mir offices, which could mean that Trotsky picked him out of pure convenience. However, Zaro also was a radical Polish activist who had written an anti-russian tract about his recent travels in war-torn Poland, travels which paralleled those of aforementioned German spy Schwarzschild. 122 In fact, Zaro had returned to the USA in late 1916 on the same ship as Schwarzschild. Moreover, in New York Zaro was part of the same pro-german Polish circle as Wiseman s double agent Antony Jechalski. So, Zaro had threads leading back towards Schiff and British intelligence. A tangled web, indeed. On 27 March, Trotsky, family and companions boarded the SS Kristianiafjord at the South Brooklyn docks. Despite rain falling in torrents, some three hundred wellwishers, carrying red flags and flowers, showed-up to bid farewell. 123 According to Lore, when Trotsky arrived he was lifted to the shoulders of his admirers and with beaming face and happy smile he bade a last farewell to the comrades. 124
17 48 REVOLUTIONARY RUSSIA Just as with the trip to New York, some of Trotsky s fellow passengers on the voyage back to Europe merit attention. Becker s investigation found that in addition to the bunch who followed Trotsky to Zaro s office, the Kristianiafjord carried a dozen or so other Russians. Two of these, Leiba Fisheleff (Fishelev) and Nikita Muchin (Mukhin), were also linked to Trotsky and among the five to be arrested with him in Halifax. Three others, all traveling together in first class, are more interesting. The first, Robert Jivotovsky (Zhivotovskii) looks to be yet another of Trotsky s cousins. The second was Israel J. Fundaminsky, a man Trotsky accused of helping the British in gathering information about him and other passengers. 125 The last, and arguably most interesting, of the bunch was a former tsarist diplomat/army officer, Andrei Kalpaschnikoff (Kolpashnikov). As noted in my earlier article, Kalpaschnikoff later claimed that he had acted as translator in the British questioning of Trotsky. Kalpaschnikoff was part of a familiar crowd in New York. Among his close friends was Vladimir Rogovine, who simultaneously was a crony of Weinstein and Reilly. Other common links were Russian Vice Consul Peter Rutskii and John MacGregor Grant, a friend and business partner not only of Reilly but also of Olaf Aschberg. 126 One must suspect that Kalpaschnikoff s presence on the Kristianiafjord, and as Trotsky s mouthpiece, was no accident. Just whose interests he was looking out for, however, remains uncertain. On 28 March, with the Kristianiafjord at sea, someone at 44, Whitehall sent a second coded wire addressed to Admiral Hall (the aforementioned chief of NID) and to MI5. This read that Trotsky is reliably reported to have $10,000 subscribed by socialists and Germans. 127 The same message added that I am notifying Halifax to hold [Trotsky and associates] until they receive your instructions. According to Willert and others, the sender was Wiseman. On closer examination, this is not clear. The telegram lacks Wiseman s usual signature of W.W. Also, Admiral Hall s actual order for Trotsky s arrest, dated 29 March, credited naval attaché Guy Gaunt as the source. 128 As described in my earlier article, Gaunt nursed deep resentment against Wiseman. Given that he also was privy to Pilenas s information, Gaunt might have wired London on his initiative with the hidden aim of embarrassing or discrediting Wiseman. 129 However, it seems more probable that Gaunt forwarded the information with Wiseman s knowledge and approval. All this raises two critical questions. Why would Wiseman place such faith in Pilenas s rather vague information? And why did he hesitate in acting upon it? One of Pilenas s main stools was a German-American named John Lang. The latter was a familiar of German socialist circles including Lore s. 130 Lang is a good bet as the original source for Pilenas s accusations, but from whom he may have gleaned it remains an open question, along with its basic accuracy. One person who claimed to smell a rat in Pilenas or, more precisely, an agent provocateur used by the old Russian Secret Police, was MI5 officer Claude Dansey. 131 Pilenas indeed had been an agent of the Okhrana, but his Russian police file shows that they had severed all relations with him before the war, in large part because they deemed him too close to the British. Moreover, there is nothing to indicate any connection between Pilenas and the Okhrana s New York resident George Patrick. Dansey learned of Trotsky s arrest on 29 March when he was working for MI5 s port intelligence branch. 132 He later claimed that he immediately wired Wiseman asking for more information but did not get any. In mid-april, Dansey arrived in New York by way of Halifax, where he made it his business to get to the bottom of the
18 TROTSKY S AMERICAN VISIT OF Trotsky matter. He quizzed British officials and may have interviewed Trotsky himself in the Amherst internment camp. Dansey later insisted that he was unconvinced of sufficient cause to hold the Russian. Unless [British authorities] were very certain of the source of information against him, he wrote, it would be much better to let [Trotsky] go before he got angry. 133 Did he mean that Trotsky, in custody for several days, was not angry already? When Dansey landed in New York, he nominally came as Wiseman s boss. As such, he supposedly advised Sir William that Pilenas had better be discharged at once, and Wiseman assured him that he was going to do so. 134 In fact, he did nothing of the sort and Pilenas remained on the British payroll until 15 October Even then, Wiseman did not leave him in the lurch. Rather, he gave Pilenas a sterling recommendation which landed the Lithuanian a job with American military intelligence. Even then, Pilenas continued to channel information to Wiseman and the duo would maintain a secret collaboration for decades to come. 136 In my original article, I speculated that Wiseman s peculiar behavior towards Trotsky was driven by his desire to enlist the exile in a secret scheme to guide the storm in revolutionary Russia and, above all, to keep Russia in the war. 137 The more recent information, I believe, supports this theory, if it also provides some additional twists. The justification for Wiseman s above-mentioned scheme was his conviction that German agents have already been at work in the United States, and are sending Russian-Jewish Socialists back to Petrograd who are either knowingly or unknowingly working in the German cause. 138 Wiseman s answer was to dispatch selected agents from the USA to exert counter-influence in Russia, especially in revolutionary circles. These agents included international socialists and notorious nihilists. 139 The two absolutely essential things were that they have no perceptible links to British or French interests (then highly suspect in Russia), and that they oppose any move towards a separate peace. As noted, Trotsky had proclaimed his opposition to that shortly before he left New York. That made him exactly the sort Wiseman was looking for. At the heart of my original article was the suggestion that Trotsky s subsequent arrest was basically a stunt designed to inoculate him against suspicions of pro-british connections and sympathies. At the same time, it could have served as added leverage to obtain his co-operation. The bottom line was that he was not going to get back to Russia soon or even at all without British co-operation. Their options, by the way, were not limited to holding him in Amherst or letting him proceed. A third option was shipping him back to New York and handing him over to the tender mercies of the American authorities. The USA had entered the war on 6 April 1917, and Trotsky s earlier fire-breathing about strikes and draft obstruction would have put him in a precarious position and might even have landed him in jail. From Wiseman s perspective, it did not matter if Trotsky had been in contact with German agents or even if he had taken their money. If so, Wiseman knew about it, and if he was able to document such collaboration it gave him even more leverage. In this regard, the shifting attitude of Jacob Schiff may be significant. First, with America entering the war, the banker had to abandon his pro-german position out of practical necessity. Beyond this, Schiff s real Russian aim, unseating Nicholas II, had been accomplished. He promptly voiced his opposition to any Russian move towards a separate peace. 140 In fact, Wiseman soon enlisted Schiff in his secret propaganda campaign in Russia.
19 50 REVOLUTIONARY RUSSIA It could be that Pilenas s denunciation was cooked up by Wiseman to provide a pretext for Trotsky s arrest. It also may have been that Wiseman and Dansey really were working in tandem, perhaps doing a kind of good cop, bad cop act to bring the Russian into line. Finally, we come full circle to Trotsky s urgent desire to communicate with Abram Zhivotovskii upon reaching Christiania. Of course, through Reilly, Weinstein, Robert Jivotovsky and probably others, Trotsky had long had the means for indirect contact with his uncle. Was Zhivotovskii s the ultimate helping hand that had guided the Great Exile in his recent travels? If so, was this driven by a sense of familial obligation or by a shared political agenda? The full truth about this episode in Trotsky s career may never be known, and that truth may be different than the theories sketched above. Nevertheless, the preceding has demonstrated that even before he reached America, and throughout his time there, Trotsky was surrounded by spies and informants of one sort or another. Some of these provided him with money and other assistance and others may have done the same. The key questions are: How aware was Trotsky of these agents and their intrigues, and to what degree did he cooperate with them? A veteran of the revolutionary underground, he was not naive when it came to such things. His reaction to expulsion from France and difficulties in Spain show that he was quick to sense conspiratorial currents. Trotsky was also enough of a pragmatist to accept that any money, even tainted money, was better than none at all. Likewise, there was no practical reason to reject the assistance of imperialist agents, even competing ones, when they could abet his own interests. Trotsky might even have convinced himself that he was really exploiting them. Finally, if Trotsky was persuaded to accept a helping hand from the British, and the obligations that entailed, is there any evidence that he lived up to the bargain? To explore that will require another article. Notes 1. Spence, Interrupted Journey. 2. Ostrovskii, O rodstevennikakh L.D. Trotskogo, , quoting Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv sotsial no-politicheskoi istorii (RGASPI), f. 4, op. 3, d. 39, l. 14. I offer special thanks to Elena Nikolaevna Chavchavadze, Director of Presidential Programs for the Russian Cultural Foundation (RFK), for bringing this and other materials to my attention. 3. United Kingdom, National Archives (NA), Records of the Security Service, KV2/ 502: Bronstein, Trotsky, Leon (19 July 1915). 4. NA, KV2/502: Trotzky (Leo Broushein [sic] & Ianoffsky), n.d., Ibid., Trotsky to Uritsky (24 November 1916), 1 2. Interestingly, in the summer of 1917, Malvy would find himself accused of treason and later stood trial on the charge. Although acquitted of that charge, the court did find him guilty of criminal negligence and exiled him from France. He went to Spain. 6. Trotsky, My Life, NA, KV2/502: Trotsky to Uritsky (24 November 1916), Ibid., Ibid.
20 TROTSKY S AMERICAN VISIT OF Ibid. 11. Zeman and Scharlau, The Merchant of Revolution, Ibid., Ibid., On this point see also Schurer, Alexander Helphand-Parvus. 15. This money came via another future Soviet luminary, Cristian Rakovski, as the French and British intelligence services were aware. See NA, KV2/502: Trotzky, 1. See also: Zeman and Scharlau, The Merchant of Revolution, 155; and Senn, The Myth of German Gold, Trotsky, My Life, Ibid. 18. All ship and immigration data comes from the online databases available at Ellis Island Records (hereafter EIR), On Bark see Soriano-Molla, Ernesto Bark. 20. France, Archives de Guerre, Deuxieme Bureau (dossiers repatriées), File Z 26610: Report G15 from Barcelona (26 December 1917). 21. On Kesküla see Futtrell, Northern Underground, and Ibid., 224 and passim. On Aschberg s connections, see also US Department of Justice, Investigative Case Files of the Bureau of Investigation, (hereafter BI), : In re: Olaf Aschberg (18 November 1919); and University of California, Los Angeles, Young Library, Special Collections. Roger Mennevee Collections, Box, 915, File 50: Aschberg, Olaf. 23. Zeman and Scharlau, The Merchant of Revolution, 148; and Moorehead, The Russian Revolution, US National Archives, RG 165, Military Intelligence Division (hereafter MID), (4 May 1918). 25. Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford, Records of the Paris Okhrana (hereafter Okhrana), XVIIc, folder 2, No. 99 from Paris (27 January/9 February 1917). On Patrick see ibid., Deep Cover Agents Russian (L Z). 26. ML, EIR. 28. ML, See Richardson, Cravan, 31. This is a graphic novel which mixes fact (such as it is), legend and speculation about Cravan. A more detailed biography, which concentrates on his artistic endeavors, is Borras, Arthur Cravan. 30. Richardson, EIR. Names in passenger lists are subject to wide variations in spelling and frequent errors in transcription. Trotsky s is mistakenly transcribed as Zratsky, Leon, while his sons surnames are transcribed Zrotsky. 32. University of Indiana, Lilly Library, Special Collections, Browne MSS: Ludwig Lore, When Trotsky Lived in New York, Lore, Leon Trotsky, Okhrana, XVIIc, Folder 2, No. 99 (27 January/9 February 1917). 35. Lore, When Trotsky Lived in New York, Ibid. 37. New York Times (15 January 1917), BI, : In re: Leon Bronstein Trotzky (Trotsky) [hereafter, Becker Report]; and American Jewish Yearbook, , American Jewish Yearbook, , 285.
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