Trial of the Twenty-One

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The Trial of the Twenty-One was the last of the Moscow Trials, show trials of prominent Bolsheviks, including the Old Bolsheviks. The Trial of the Twenty-One took place in Moscow in March 1938, towards the end of Stalin's Great Purge.

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The Trial

The third show trial, in March 1938, known as The Trial of the Twenty-One, is the most famous of Soviet show trials because of persons involved and the scope of charges which tied together all loose threads from earlier show trials. It included 21 defendants alleged to belong to the so-called "Bloc of Rightists and Trotskyites":

They were all proclaimed members of the "right Trotskyist bloc" that intended to overthrow socialism and restore capitalism in Russia, among other things.

Meant to be the culmination of previous trials, it now alleged that Bukharin and others committed the following crimes:

All confessed to these charges during the show trial with few notable exceptions.

Even sympathetic observers who stomached the earlier trials found it hard to swallow new charges as they became ever more absurd and the purge by now expanded to include virtually every living Old Bolshevik leaders except Stalin. For some prominent former communists such as Bertram Wolfe, Jay Lovestone, Arthur Koestler, and Heinrich Brandler, the Bukharin trial marked their final break with communism and even turned the first three into fervent anti-Communists.[1]

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