Matthias Bürgel: A Trotskyist conspiracy in the Soviet Embassy in Berlin: The "Bukharinist" Sergei Bessonov and the Third Moscow Show Trial


In: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2016. Berlin: Metropol Verlag, pp. 57–74.

Not much is known about Sergei Bessonov, a key witness and a victim in the final Moscow show trial of March 1938. Initially, he sympathized with the Socialist Revolutionary Party, but in 1920 joined the Communist Party. This article examines his activities in the 1920s and 1930s. After graduating from the Institute of Red Professors in 1924, Bessonov became rector of the Ural University (1924–25) and of the Ural Polytechnic Institute (1925–27). Thereafter he became a major protagonist in the debates on economic and tariff policy on the Soviet railroads. In 1930 he was assigned to work in Germany as a member of the Soviet trade delegation in Berlin. After a short-term assignment to the Soviet trade offices in London, he was posted as counsellor to the Soviet Embassy in Berlin. As an aide of David Kandelaki, the Soviet trade representative at Berlin between 1934 and 1937, he was involved in major efforts to expand German-Soviet trade, including a proposal for a German-Soviet non-aggression treaty, which has been seen as a prelude to the Soviet-Nazi Pact of August 23, 1939. In the Bukharin show trial of 1938 he played the dual role of accused conspirator and witness who bore testimony against the other accused.

Über den Autor

Matthias Bürgel, geb. 1968 in Braunschweig. 1993 bis 2001 Studium der Anglistik und Russistik, 2002 bis 2006 Sprachlektor der Robert-Bosch-Stiftung an der Uraler Universität in Ekaterinburg und des Deutschen Akademischen Austauschdienstes an der Universität von Perm‘, 2006 bis 2011 Doktorand an der Universität Oldenburg mit der Arbeit »Die russische und die sowjetrussische Hochschulentwicklung in der ersten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts am Beispiel der Uraler Universität (1920–1925, 1931–2011)«. Veröffentlichungen u. a.: »Das Uraler Berginstitut in Ekaterinburg und Vladivostok 1914–1920: Russische Hochschulentwicklung zwischen den Revolutionen«, in: Jahrbuch für Universitätsgeschichte (14) 2011; Mithg.: Geistes- und sozialwissenschaftliche Hochschullehre in Osteuropa III u. IV, Frankfurt/M. 2007 u. 2009; Rezensionen in Osteuropa und Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas.