Soviet Union Grapples with Alliance of Nazis and Trotskyists
Saturday 21st November 1936
Stalin’s show trials were well under the way. Under the presidency of Ulrich who superintended the trials of the British Metro-Vick engineers in 1933 and those of Zinoviev and Kamenev. The nine defendants were all engineers from one coal-mining region including a German called Stickling. It would have been an altogether lower key affair – conducted in distant, provincial Novosibirsk - but for the fact that the institutions of a “foreign state” – explicitly Germany – were accused of complicity as well as the usual crew of Trotskyists. No such accusation had been made at the Metro-Vick trial.
The defendants were charged with causing mine accidents in which twelve miners lost their lives as well as broader charges of espionage, economic sabotage and attempting to murder Soviet leaders. They all confessed their crimes, although the condition of the defendants in Ulrich's earlier trials rather suggests how this came about. All were rapidly sentenced to death, but Stickling was reprieved after vigorous protests by the German Embassy.