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R. Craine

How the Film Falsifies the Record

(May 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 21, 24 May 1943, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

We publish below an itemized list of SOME of the historical falsifications of which the Davies-Warner Brothers movie, Mission to Moscow, is compounded. They prove that as an apology for Stalinism the movie will help Hoosevelt negotiate with Stalin, but as history it is the phoniest phony that ever came out of Hollywood.

1 – RIBBENTROP IN MOSCOW: Ribbentrop visited Moscow for the first time in August 1939, when he signed the pact between Germany and Russia, about which Stalin later commented: “The friendship of the peoples of Germany and of the Soviet Union, cemented by blood, will long remain firm.” In the movie, Ribbentrop is shown in Moscow long before 1939, at a state ball, conspiring with Bukharin. Davies is careful to omit Ribbentrop’s second visit to Moscow, in September 1939, where he was given a reception closely resembling a triumphal procession, at which the Soviet band played :the Internationale and the Nazis’ Horst-Wessel song, and where a Russian guard of honor gave the Hitler salute.

2 – WHY HE WENT: From the book, it is clear that one of Mr. Davies’ jobs in Moscow was to try to collect the Russian debt to the United States. In the picture, he is begged by President Roosevelt to find out “the truth about Russia.”

3 – TUKHACHEVSKY: In June 1937, eight Russian generals, including Tukhachevsky, were tried in secret and shot. In the movie, Tukhachevsky suddenly appears as a witness at the Moscow Trial, which takes place a a year after he was actually shot.

4 – ETHIOPIA AND RUSSIAN OIL: The movie shows a scene in the hall of the League of Nations, with Haile Selassie pleading for help against Italian aggression. Litvinov then makes a speech in defense of Ethiopia, and the Italian and German delegations stalk out of the hall. The movie does not show Italian planes being fueled with Russian oil to go on their marauding “missions” over Ethiopia.

5 – STARTING THE WAR: The Russo-German pact was signed on August 23, 1939, and became effective upon signature. The war started one week later and BOTH Germany and Russia invaded Poland. In the movie, Davies is explaining to a senatorial committee that war will come “in a month or two” – this, several weeks after the signing of the pact.

6 – INVASION OF POLAND: Russia invaded Poland on September 17, 1939. Five days later, Russia and Germany jointly announced the demarcation of their new frontier in Poland. In the movie, only the German invasion of Poland is shown.

7 – FINLAND: In November, 1939, after two months of unsuccessful negotiations, Russia attacked Finland on the pretext that several shots fired from Finnish territory had killed three Red Army men. At that time, England and the United States, and not Germany, were proclaimed by the Russians and the Communist International as the powers backing Finland. The invasion was condemned by Roosevelt, and a moral embargo, which covered the export of airplanes, aeronautical equipment, molybdenum, aluminum and aviation gasoline, was, proclaimed against Russia by the United States. That suited Roosevelt’s book then. Mission to Moscow suits his book now. An interesting example of imperialist “morality.”

In the movie we are informed that Russia was really acting against Germany when she invaded Finland; that Finland resisted only because Mannerheim knew that he had Germany’s backing. Warner Brothers-Davies neglect to tell us what happened to the “people’s” government of Finland which was set up and then dismantled by the Moscow bureaucracy.

8 – PADEREWSKY: In 1938, Paderewsky was retired from Polish politics and was devoting himself to his musical work. In the movie, Davies sees Paderewsky as the Polish figure who is to help preserve peace in Europe and the world.

9 – THE TRIAL: In December, 1934, Kirov, head of the Leningrad Communist Party, was assassinated. Before any trial took place, one hundred and four persons were arrested and shot for complicity in the assassination. On December 28 and 29, the trial of Nikolayev and his alleged accomplices took place in secret. Fourteen were condemned to death.

On January 15 and 16, 1935, Zinoviev and Kamenev, together with seventeen others, were tried for moral responsibility in the Kirov assassination. All were condemned to prison for five to ten years.

In August, 1936, the Zinoviev-Kamenev trial took place. The sixteen defendants were shot. In January 1937 there was the Pyatakov-Radek trial. Thirteen of the seventeen defendants were shot; the rest, Radek among them, were imprisoned. In June 1937 eight generals, including Tukhachevsky, were tried in secret and executed. In March 1938 the Bukharin-Rykov trial took place. All defendants were executed.

In the movie, Davies telescopes all the trials into one. Vyshinsky is the true-blue prosecutor. No inkling is given that Yagoda, who appears in the movie trial, had at one time been in the prosecutor’s box – for the simple reason that the previous trials would then fall apart.

At the real trial, Yagoda confessed that he had participated in gross frame-ups.

Tukhachevsky, who had long been dead, appears in the movie trial to accuse Bukharin and Krestinsky. This is done to create the impression that Tukhachevsky had a public trial.

The defendants confess to sabotage and to plotting to overthrow the Russian government by assassination and terror. No evidence is introduced, save the confessions of the defendants. Where Krestinsky refuses to confess, others do it for him.

Trotsky is presented as the arch-plotter and leader in all the machinations of the defendants. Warner Brothers-Davies do not dare, however, to refer to the published testimony in the trials, but resort to fiction. The reason is simple enough. Every fact, every detail contained in the “confessions” at the real trials were examined by the Dewey Commission and found to be false.

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