To the Editor:
Henrik Bering-Jensen’s thesis that there is a real doubt about Stalin’s responsibility for the Kirov murder cannot be allowed to stand [Letters from Readers, July]. He rightly notes that Adam Ulam disputes it, but his is the only important voice to do so. It is not merely a question of myself and Roy Medvedev, but of Boris Souvarine and Bertram Wolfe, Anton Antonov-Ovseenko and Leonid Petrovski, and so on. And Ulam, in this context, argues far below his usual level, with such points as that reproduced by Mr. Bering-Jensen—that Stalin “would have” avoided procuring assassination for fear of giving someone the idea of assassinating him (which could otherwise, presumably, never have occurred to anybody). On this argument no politician seeking to preserve or secure power would ever organize an assassination: therefore none such has ever occurred throughout history!
Medvedev and I do not in fact “advance theories.” We merely point out that the established and accepted facts (about which there is more to be said than I can develop here) are incompatible with any explanation other than that Stalin gave the NKVD its orders to assist the assassin. As Stephen F. Cohen writes in his Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: “That Stalin plotted the murder through his police agents is no longer seriously in doubt.” Only unseriously.