Letter from Dimitrov and Manuilsky to People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs L. Beria requesting a review of E. O. Valter's case.
Dear Comrade Beria, [i]
In October 1938, Valter, Elena Osipovna, a worker in the Secretariat of the ECCI’s General Secretary, was arrested by NKVD organs.
She had worked in the ECCI apparatus for four years, from the time the Secretariat was formed. [She] invested a lot of work and energy in coordinating and organizing the work of the newly-created Secretariat. During her time on the job, she showed herself to be a conscientious worker and loyal to the cause of the party and Soviet power.
Considering that a mistake has been committed regarding Valter, E. O., we ask [you] to re-examine her case.
Enclosure: Copy of a letter from Valter, E. O.
Information from the ECCI’s Cadres Department about Valter.
Moscow, 25 June 1940.
Sent on 25/6 - 40
in a parcel No. 125
Enclosure: The letter from the arrested ECCI worker E. O. Valter to G. Dimitrov asking to re-examine her case.
[25 June 1940]
To the General Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Comintern
G. M. Dimitrov. [ii]
By the decision of the “Special Council [OSO] of 17 January 1940,” I was exiled for 3 years to Krasnoiarsk krai [in accordance] with the formulation “For participating in an anti-Soviet organization.” This decision completely devastated me since it is incomprehensible to me to this day.
Georgy Mikhailovich, I have written you in detail from jail about what I was accused of and that in May 1937 I was slandered by Mueller (Melnikov). From the very first day of my arrest, it was clear to me that I was slandered, that I was slandered by enemies to whom I was a hindrance in y[our] Secretariat. They knew perfectly well what kind of confidence I enjoyed and, of course, they were interested in having their own person in that job. No wonder they decided to get rid of me by using whatever slander possible. For 15 1/2 months I sat defamed in the Butyrskaia prison. However, despite my physical indisposition, I tried to keep up my morale with the deep belief that the investigation would uncover the truth, that I would be rehabilitated and would return to family, to work, and to a normal life. So much harder for me was the blow when I learned about the “Oso”[iii] decision. Today the question of rehabilitating myself is the question of my future life, the question of a normal life for my family and my only child, before whom I am really guilty, because I was giving all of myself to work and very often it was not possible to give the required attention to the child.
Georgy Mikhailovich, I know for sure that, before the party, before Soviet power, before the ECCI leadership, my conscience is clear. I also know and firmly believe that I spent the best and most conscious years of my life in the ranks of the party and lived exclusively for the interests of the party. I also know for sure that, throughout all the 19 years of my membership in the party, wherever I was, whatever work was assigned to me, I always remained, first of all, a party member, and that my private life could serve as an example for many, many rank-and-file party members. My private life has always been of least importance to me. All this is extremely easy to verify: there are real people, honest people; and I need only the truth. Only the truth is needed to reestablish my good name. I want to return the trust of the party, because I do not know why was I deprived of all that I cherished, of all what I was proud of, of all I lived for. I do not know why I brought tragedy to my family, to my child who, in his 11 years, has known so much grief. [I do not know] why my life is so ruined. I do want and I am trying to understand why have I been, although temporarily, deprived of trust, and for what. But no matter how long I think about it, I feel no [guilt]. Therefore only sharp pain is left, and it grows from day to day.
Throughout the investigation, nothing specific was said about the anti-Soviet organization of which I was presumably a part, nor about my activities in this organization. I have not seen anyone but the investigators, although I wrote to the head of the investigation department and to the prosecutor overseeing my case asking [them] to inform me about the essence of the accusations. On 8 July, at the time of signing [the papers] concluding the investigation, I looked through my case. There was nothing but the indirect statement of what he heard from Abramov, nothing but the slanders of the bandit Mueller; there could be nothing but the enemies’ slanders. My grief can only make happy my “well-wishers,” who are probably still plentiful in the apparatus and who hated to know that I had an opportunity to signal you personally about detec[ted] abnormalities in the apparatus, which I did [as I] considered it my duty, the duty of a party member. And, in my opinion, there were plenty of abnormalities. I know perfectly well that Mikhail Abramovich[iv] and Andreev, and undoubtedly others, disliked me for this. No matter how hard it is for me, I still deeply believe in and wait for the question of my innocence to be re-examined soon and for my being rehabilitated, since I have never been a part of an anti-Soviet organization and never knew about the existence of such an organization in the ECCI apparatus. Only the investigative organs can help me in my rehabilitation; therefore, first of all, I sent the People’s Commissar L. P. Beria a statement on 20 March. During the investigation, I did not want to bother him with my case, and only a year later I requested [information] about my child and received a prompt reply. Now I consider it my duty to address him first, because this was the decision of the NKVD’s Special Council. I also wrote to the State Procurator. It is very important now for me to establish the fact of my losing the keys to the safe in 1936, because this served as the basis for Mueller’s slander. But you knew about this fact, as did the commissars and the former warden Davydov, who received orders to call [repairmen] from the factory to fix the lock. For those 15-20 minutes when I was in the Kremlin [cafeteria], Bashmakov M. Z.[v] occupied my desk. Immediately after that the loss of the keys was discovered. I took the second set of keys from you and moved the documents to another safe. In the lower drawer there were greeting cards sent to you during the Leipzig trial, but there was nothing secret in them. It is very easy to examine all of my work in y[our] Secretariat during the entire 4 years, since I left everything in exemplary order. I tried to and did work efficiently all the time before leaving for vacation in Kislovodsk, although I did not know that I would never return to work and that in my absence some of my “friends” would do me such a “favor.” It is easy to examine my work in the Cadres Department, since I came there when there was no department yet, there was [only] a sector with a few workers. There are still people who remember me from then. I have rendered no special services to the revolution, and the only thing that can rehabilitate me is the truth about me, about my work and life as a party member.
In the final account, I will be rehabilitated completely, even if it happens after my death. I need it for my child, for my family; but I too want to live, to work as loyally for the party as I have worked, I want to bring up my child myself. No temporary moral blows will change me for the worse. I was, I am, and I will be, until the end of my life, the same loyal party member that I have [always] been, that the party brought me up to be. Enemies can slander me, but nobody will ever be able to make an enemy of me. I know this as surely as I know that my conscience is clear.
RGASPI, f. 495, op. 73, d. 107, ll. 5-7.
Original in Russian. Typewritten (Dimitrov and Manuilsky’s letter) and handwritten (Valter’s letter).
[i] The letter was sent on 25 June 1940, according to a handwritten note on the letter by Dimitrov’s secretary, A. Stern. The document is stored in the Dimitrov’s Secretariat file.
[ii] The letter was sent from exile; it was handwritten in violet ink. It is filed in the Dimitrov Secretariat’s file.
[iii] OSO – Russian abbreviation of Osoboe soveschanie, Special Council of the NKVD, an extra-judicial organ that existed in the NKVD between 10 July 1934 and 1 September 1953. The OSO had the powers to sentence people to corrective labor camps, and to exile and deport individuals considered “socially dangerous.” The OSO was chaired by the People’s Commissar; its members consisted of his deputies, the head of the NKVD of the Russian Federation, the head of the Main Board of the Worker-Peasant Militia (police), and the People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs of the republic in which the criminal case was originated. The State Prosecutor of the USSR or his deputy had to be present at the OSO’s meetings.
[iv] Refers to M. Moskvin.
[v] M. Z. Bashmakov. No other information available.