Max Shachtman

Some More Questions
to Moissaye Olgin

(July 1938)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. II No. 29, 16 July 1938, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Since our Open Letter to you concerning the fate of your two old friends, Juliet Stuart Poyntz and Noah London, further information has come to our attention which warrants some comment by you.

We asked last week: “What assurance have you that tomorrow or the next day, you will not face – not the firing squad in a G.P.U. cellar, but the murderous slander campaign against the expelled scapegoat?”

We came a little closer to the mark, it appears, than we thought.

For is it not true that you, who go to the Soviet Union almost every year for a visit, were refused a visa by the Soviet authorities when you tried to arrange for your periodic visit a few months ago?

Is it not true that the refusal was based upon the fact that, servile to the Stalinist machine though you are, ready as you always are to apologize for its hideous crimes, it nevertheless was apprehensive about your possible reaction to the “absence” of all your old friends that you would note as soon as you arrived in Moscow? That virtually every single one of your old acquaintances and associates in the old days of the Polish Bund, the socialist movement in which you were raised, the men and women who finally went over to the Third International, has recently been shot or imprisoned? That virtually every one of your old intimates of the Jewish Section of the Russian Communist Party has met the same fate?

And is it not true that, in order to assuage your feelings, which were so badly hurt at the refusal of a visa to the land you claim as your fatherland, the party here organized a series of “birthday banquets” and celebrations in the main cities, and finally sent you on a junket to California, which, while it has not established “complete socialism,” at least has a safer climate – if you know what we mean?

And is it not true that your good friend A A. Heller, the angel of the International Publishers, staunch Stalinist like yourself, was also refused a Soviet visa at the same time, perhaps because the G.P.U. remembered the vigorous protest against its abuses made by Mrs. Heller the last time the couple lived in Moscow ?

Don’t you think that your “public,” whose flattering applause has always been such intoxicating music to your ears, is entitled to a plain-spoken statement from you regarding the matters touched on here? Don’t you think, finally, that it might be well, in the same statement, to say a few words about the mysterious disappearance – not so mysterious, perhaps! – of your good friends of yesterday, Juliet Poyntz and Noah London?

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Last updated on 11 September 2015