Since Nikita Khrushchev’s “Secret Speech” to the XX Party Congress in February, 1956, historians of the Stalin period in the USSR have generally regarded the Moscow Trials testimony as false. The paradigm of the Moscow Trials has been that of innocent defendants forced to mouth false confessions to crimes they never committed by means of threats of torture against themselves and/or their families. Their testimony has been universally rejected as fabricated, faked, “scripted” by the NKVD investigators, the prosecution, “Stalin.” 
But there has never been any evidence that the Moscow Trials testimony was fabricated. This has simply been asserted. This assertion has been “believed,” accorded almost universal credence, because it has been voiced by seemingly diverse authorities: by Leon Trotsky; by Khrushchev and by commissions and writers during his time; by Soviet émigrés and dissidents; then by Mikhail Gorbachev and the commissions and writers sponsored by him; and since 1991 by both Russian and Western historians.
However, the truth is not constituted by any “consensus” of authorities.” Nor is “credibility” a category of analysis. Whether a statement, fact-claim, etc. is “believed” has no bearing at all on whether it is true, no matter how many “authorities” affirm it. 
In 2008 I published my discovery that all of the so-called “revelations” of Joseph Stalin’s “crimes” made by Nikita Khrushchev in that famous “Secret Speech” are false.1 Since then I have endeavored to study every supposed “crime” alleged against Stalin. 
Primary sources now make it possible to check many of the fact-claims made by defendants in the Moscow Trials in the course of their testimony. Part One of my book Trotsky’s ‘Amalgams, now published separately as The Moscow Trials as Evidence,’ reproduces the process of checking up on, of verifying, Moscow Trials testimony. The rich archival materials now available to us make this possible. For the first time we can independently verify some important testimony – statements, fact-claims – made by Moscow Trials defendants. 
Every time we can check a statement made in Moscow Trials testimony against independent evidence, we find that the Moscow Trials testimony or charge is verified. This means there is no objective basis to reject the confessions made at the Moscow Trials as false or fabricated. And this means the Moscow Trials testimony is what it appears to be – statements that the defendants chose to make. In other words, it is evidence.
Everybody has biases. But everybody can learn to be objective in studying any subject, whether it be physics or history. Objectivity is a practice of “distrust of the self.” One can learn to be objective by training oneself to become aware of, to articulate, and then to doubt one’s own biases. One must be automatically suspicious of evidence that tends to confirm one’s own preconceived ideas, prejudices, and preferences, and give an especially generous reading to any evidence that contradicts them. If a researcher fails to adopt definite strategies to minimize his own biases, then he cannot and will not discover the truth
This principle is well known but – with very few exceptions – is not observed by researchers of Soviet history. The real purpose of most so-called “research” into Soviet history of the Stalin period is not to discover the truth. Rather, it is to arrive at politically acceptable conclusions and to disregard all evidence that does not support those conclusions. 
This is the “anti-Stalin paradigm”. It is “propaganda with footnotes.” It characterizes the work of most professional historians of Stalin’s alleged “crimes.” 3
Non-Soviet Evidence
We have a good deal of non-Soviet evidence that cannot have been fabricated by the Soviet investigation or prosecution. However, I do not mean to suggest that this evidence is more valid in any objective way. Non-Soviet evidence only appears “more credible” to many people than Soviet evidence does. In reality, all evidence, Soviet and non-Soviet, must be critically examined in the same way to determine its validity. 
In the first twelve chapters of my book Trotsky’s ‘Amalgams’ and in The Moscow Trials as Evidence, I identify and study a great deal of Soviet and non-Soviet evidence on the Moscow Trials. In my most recent book I collect and study the evidence of Trotsky’s collaboration with Germany and Japan. This also confirms the genuine character of the Second and Third Moscow Trials, since Trotsky was charged with these crimes there.
Differential confessions
A number of the Moscow Trials defendants – most notably, Nikolai Bukharin — stubbornly denied some of the accusations leveled at them by the Prosecution while confessing guilt to other serious crimes. Differential confessions like his are good evidence that the confessions by these defendants were not the result of force or threats.
Those persons, including Moscow Trials defendants, through whom Leon Trotsky and his son Leon Sedov were supposed to have worked have been “rehabilitated” — declared innocent, so Trotsky and Sedov are assumed to have been innocent as well. However, no evidence to support these “rehabilitation” decisions has ever been released. It seems safe to conclude that if any such exculpatory evidence did exist in Soviet archives it would have been found and published by now. But a great deal of evidence of Trotsky’s and Sedov’s guilt, rather than of their innocence, has been discovered.
Interpretation of Evidence: The Defendants’ Appeals 
The reiterated confessions of guilt in the defendants’ post-trial appeals for clemency are further evidence of guilt and of the genuineness of the confessions made by these defendants during the Moscow Trials. 
One could say: “Perhaps these men reiterated their confessions of guilt in a final hope that doing so might secure a prison sentence instead of the death penalty. Doesn’t this possibility annul any evidentiary value these appeals might have?” It is important to respond to such questions, especially since they are so commonly voiced not only about the Moscow Trials but with respect to Soviet evidence generally.
Any statement, made by anyone, at any time, might be a lie. It is invalid to assume that a statement is a lie unless there is some evidence that it is. Doing so would lead to an absurd conclusion: it would mean that, a priori, no evidence for any historical event would ever be valid because, after all, “it might be a lie” (a fabrication, forgery, etc.), even though there were no evidence that it is. If no evidence of fabrication or fakery can be found, to take the position that “because it might be a lie, therefore it is of no interest,” is invalid. 
Yet many people are incapable of objectively judging the evidence from the Moscow Trials, or indeed any evidence that tends to show that Stalin and the Soviet leadership of his day were not guilty of some alleged crime or other. 
Materialists in any field of inquiry – the sciences are the clearest example – decide truth based upon evidence. History too is an evidence-based field of inquiry. It is an affront to materialism, and to the spirit of the Enlightenment itself, to claim to decide the truth or falsehood of any hypothesis other than by the evidence. Yet when it comes to considering the historical events concerning Stalin and the Soviet Union of his time such as the Moscow Trials, many people give their biases free rein and make no serious attempt to be objective, to decide on the basis of evidence rather than according to one’s preconceptions.
Let us try to state the problem before us in a more objective way. If one were to formulate the hypothesis: “Bukharin’s appeal is insincere, does not represent a genuine confession of guilt,” it becomes clear that one must have evidence to support that hypothesis. A hypothesis without evidentiary support requires no refutation. 
These appeals support the contrary hypothesis: “The defendants at the Moscow Trials were guilty of the crimes to which they confessed.” Moreover, the evidence of the appeals is consistent with all the other evidence that exists concerning the Moscow Trials. 
There is no question of a “preponderance of evidence.” There is no evidence whatever to support the hypothesis that the defendants were innocent of the crimes to which they confessed. The hypothesis that the defendants were guilty is the only hypothesis that is supported by evidence.
Summing Up
The conclusion of our verification of the Moscow Trials testimony is this: 
* Whenever we can check independent evidence, the Moscow Trial testimony proves to have been truthful. As far as we can now determine, on the evidence now available the Moscow Trial defendants:
(a) were guilty of at least those crimes to which they confessed;
(b) said what they themselves chose to say in their trial testimony.
In a few cases we can now show that a defendant successfully hid some crime from the prosecution, either to conceal his responsibility for acts of which, he hoped, the prosecution was unaware, or to preserve what remained of the conspiracy, or both.
Since the defendants’ fact-claims that we can check have turned out to be truthful, we have no basis to dismiss other fact-claims whose truthfulness we cannot check. The success of this verification process means that researchers may properly use the fact-claims made by Moscow Trial defendants as evidence.
This conclusion will be ideologically unacceptable to those who cut their historical conclusions to fit their political prejudices. Neither ideological anticommunists nor, of course, Trotskyists will be persuaded by this or by any conceivable evidence. 
The “anti-Stalin” consensus in mainstream and Trotskyist Soviet history rests on a foundation of denial. “Political correctness” — ideological acceptability to influential parties who are motivated not by the search for historical truth but by political agendas — is, of course, not a category of historical reasoning and has no place in the struggle to discover the truth.
Powerful forces both within the field of Soviet studies and beyond it will find this conclusion to be intolerable on political grounds. The Cold War against communism continues with a vengeance in historical studies. The histories of most if not all of the new post-Soviet states are constructed upon a demonization of communism, especially of Stalin and the USSR during his time. The academic study and teaching of Soviet history is dominated by a tacit requirement that Stalin and the USSR during his day be condemned. Meanwhile, Trotskyism is not just tolerated but accorded an honored place in the field of Soviet history. 
It is not only the history of the Moscow Trials that has been falsified, but that of the whole “Stalin” period.6  Another example is the “Katyn Massacre.” In 2015 two books on the “Katyn Massacre” were published in Germany and widely reviewed. 7 Neither author asked: “What is the evidence?” Both authors assume the “politically correct” view, the only one acceptable to “mainstream” Soviet scholarship: that the Soviets were guilty. 
And they are dead wrong. In 2013 I published an article about discoveries at a German mass murder site in Ukraine that disproves the “official” Soviets-did-it version. 8 In my book The Mystery of the Katyn Massacre: The Evidence, The Solution, I discuss all the evidence and show how fraudulent the tale of Soviet guilt has always been.
Knowledge that the Moscow Trials were honest and the defendants guilty will do much to dismantle both the pro-Trotsky and the anti-Stalin “cults.” that are still thriving. These “cults” are nourished by the myth that Trotsky and the Moscow Trials defendants were “framed” in the Moscow Trials. They persist only through ignoring the evidence that we have and through flagrant misinterpretation of the evidence that is not ignored. 
1 English edition: Khrushchev Lied. The Evidence That Every “Revelation” of Stalin’s (and Beria’s) Crimes in Nikita Khrushchev’s Infamous “Secret Speech” to the 20th Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on February 25, 1956, is Provably False (2011).
2 Grover Furr, Trotsky’s “Amalgams”: Trotsky’s Lies, The Moscow Trials as Evidence, The Dewey Commission. Trotsky’s Conspiracies of the 1930s, Volume One. Kettering, OH: Erythrós Press & Medial, LLC. 2015; The Moscow Trials as Evidence. New York: Red Star Publishers, 2018.
3 To name a few such dishonest scholars: Oleg Khlevniuk (Russia), Jörg Baberowski (Germany), Nicolas Werth (France), Timothy Snyder and Stephen Kotkin (USA), among many others.
4 See Grover Furr, Leon Trotsky’s Collaboration with Germany and Japan:Trotsky’s Conspiracies of the 1930s, Volume Two. Kettering, OH: Erythrós Press & Media LLC, 2017.
5 Appeals, of ten of the defendants in the three Moscow Trials were published in 1992: “Rasskaz o desiati rasstreliannykh” (“Story of ten who were shot”), Izvestiia September 2 1992, p. 3. In 2013 all the appeals of the defendants at the Third Moscow Trial of March, 1938, were published; see Protsess Bukharina 1938. Dokumenty. (Moscow: Mezhdunarodniy Fond „Demokratiia” i Fond Stivena Koena i Katriny Vanden Khiuvel, 2013), 737-750. My translation of Bukharin’s two appeals is at
6 I and my Moscow-based colleague Vladimir L. Bobrov have written a number of books and articles about other Stalin-era events. See my Home Page,
7 See Rainer F. Schmidt, “Exkulpation der Sowjets? Das Massaker von Katyn als große Propagandaschlacht der Geschichte.” (Rez: Urban, Thomas: Katyn, 1940; CH Beck 2015. Sowie Weber, Claudia. Krieg der Täter; hamburger Edition, 2015. FAZ 09.06.15.
8 “The ‘Official Version’ of the Katyn Massacre Disproven? Discoveries at a German Mass Murder Site in Ukraine.” Socialism and Democracy 27, 2 (2013), 96-129.
9 Kettering, OH: Erythrós Press & Media, LLC, 2018.
Grover C. Furr is Professor of Medieval English literature at Montclair State University. He is author of the worldwide famous book “Khrushchev Lied”, which has exposed the counterfeit claims of the “Secret Speech” delivered by Nikita Khrushchev to demean Comrade Stalin. Prof. Furr’s extensive research on the Soviet history during Stalin period and his historic contributions including numerous books and articles are available on
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