July 6, 2005


-INTERVIEW: Leon Trotsky 1933 (Interview By Georges Simenon, First Published: Paris-Soir, June 16-17, 1933, Marxists Internet Archive)

I met Hitler ten times at the Kaisehof when, tense and feverish, as Chancellor he carried out his electoral campaign. I saw Mussolini tirelessly contemplate a parade of thousands of young men. And one evening in Montparnasse I recognized Gandhi in a white silhouette that walked hugging the walls, followed by fanatical young women.

In order to interview Trotsky I found myself on the bridge that connects old and new Contantinople, Stamboul and Galata, a bridge more crowded than the Pont-Neuf in Paris. Why do I have an impression of a beautiful Sunday on the Seine near St Cloud, or Bougival or Poissy? I have no idea.

All the boats around the tangled boarding planks make me think of bateaux-mouches. Are they bigger? To be sure. They even have a marine air, and the propeller beats against the salty water. But it’s a question of proportion. The entire décor is more vast, the sky itself farther away.

Here one bank is called Europe and the other Asia. In place of the tugs and barges of the Seine there are many cargo ships and liners flying flags of all the countries of the world that head out to the Black Sea, or weave through the Dardanelles.

What does it matter? I maintain my impression of a beautiful Sunday, the outskirts of town, of cafes. There are lovers on the bridge of the ship, peasants transporting chickens and roosters in cages, sailors on leave who smile in advance at the pleasures they're going to offer themselves.

Trotsky? I wrote to him the day before yesterday to ask him for an interview. Yesterday morning I was already awakened by the ringing of the telephone.

“M. Simenon? This is M. Trotsky’s secretary. M. Trotsky will receive you tomorrow at 4:00. Before this I must tell you that M. Trotsky, whose declarations have been too often twisted, would like to receive your questions in writing in advance. He'll respond in writing...”

I asked three questions. The sky is blue, the air as limpid as the deep waters where the movements of dark green algae can nevertheless be seen. Down there, in the Sea of Marmora, one hour from Constantinople, four islands emerge, the “Islands” as they are called here, and we are already touching the landing dock of the first of them. [...]

We talk at length about Hitler. The subject preoccupies him. One can feel how worried he is. I repeat to him the contradictory opinions I heard around Europe, not on Hitler’s work, but on his personality, on his very worth.

I don’t think I'm betraying my promise in repeating some of the phrases that struck me in the house in Prinkipo, so far from Berlin.

“Little by little Hitler made himself as he accomplished his work. He learned step by step, stage by stage, over the course of the struggle.”

The answers to my questions? We read them together.


I asked Trotsky:

“Do you think the racial question will predominate in the evolution that will follow the current ferment? Or will it be the social question? Or the economic question? Or the military question?”

Trotsky answers:

“No, I don’t at all think that race will be a decisive factor in the evolution of the next era. Race is a raw anthropological matter—heterogeneous, impure, mixed (mixtum compositum)—a matter from which historical development has created the semi-fabricated products that are nations...Classes and social groupings and the political currents that will be born on their base will decide the fate of the new era. Obviously I don’t deny the significance of the distinctive qualities and traits of races; but in the evolutionary process they are in second place behind the techniques of labor and thought. Race is a static and passive element, history is a dynamic one. How can a relatively immobile element on its own determine movement and development? All the distinctive traits of races are effaced before the internal combustion engine, not to mention the machine gun.

“When Hitler prepared himself to establish a state regime suitable for the pure Germano-Nordic race he found nothing better than to plagiarize the Latin race of the south. In his time, during the fight for power, Mussolini used—while turning it upside down—the social doctrine of a German, or rather German Jew, Marx, who two years before he'd called ‘the immortal teacher of us all.’ If today, in the twentieth century, the Nazis propose to turn their backs on history, on social dynamics, on civilization, in order to return to ‘race’ then why not go further back? Anthropology—isn’t this true?—is only a part of zoology. Who knows? It’s perhaps in the kingdom of the anthropopithicus that the racists will find their highest and most indisputable inspiration for their creative activity?”

The poor Marxists could never grasp that the power of nationalism/racism was far greater than any notion of class antagonism or egalitarianism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 6, 2005 9:11 PM

Believe it or not, there are still people who do not grasp that healthy egos are the sine qua non of healthy families, healthy families of healthy communities, etc.

All the way out to the godhead, closing the circle to the self. Whodathunk?

Posted by: ghostcat at July 6, 2005 10:12 PM

The poor Marxists could never grasp that the power of nationalism/racism was far greater than any notion of class antagonism or egalitarianism.

The notion of egalitarianism has changed the world far more than racism.

It's the lifeblood of the American experiment.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at July 6, 2005 11:05 PM


Yes, egalitarianism has done far more evil. It's the basis of the Socialism in National Socialism after all, as well as of Bolshevism.

The American experiment is based on the belief that men are born equal, not that the political regime should render them equal.

Posted by: oj at July 6, 2005 11:16 PM

Pardon my igorance, but who the heck is Chuck? Shouldn't it be Adam (or John, or Thomas, or Aurelius, or.....).

Posted by: ratbert at July 7, 2005 1:34 AM

Charlton Heston.

Posted by: erp at July 7, 2005 8:15 AM


If you mean 'egalitarianism' in the sense of let's make everyone equal in results, you are correct. Which is what you just said so I'll stop before making an ass of myself, for once.

Posted by: bart at July 7, 2005 8:29 AM