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Sunday, 28 December 2014

Prinkipo, 1933: Interview of Leon Trotsky by Georges Simenon

First published: Paris-Soir, June 16-17, 1933; Translated and transcribed: for marxists.org by Mitch Abidor
I met Hitler ten times at the Kaiserhof when, tense and feverish, as Chancellor he carried out
Trotsky at Prinkipo
his electoral campaign. I saw Mussolini tirelessly contemplate a parade of thousands of young men. And one evening in Montparnasse I recognized Gandhi in a white silhouette that walked hugging the walls, followed by fanatical young women.
In order to interview Trotsky I found myself on the bridge that connects old and new Contantinople, Stamboul and Galata, a bridge more crowded than the Pont-Neuf in Paris. Why do I have an impression of a beautiful Sunday on the Seine near St Cloud, or Bougival or Poissy? I have no idea.
All the boats around the tangled boarding planks make me think of bateaux-mouches. Are they bigger? To be sure. They even have a marine air, and the propeller beats against the salty water. But it’s a question of proportion. The entire décor is more vast, the sky itself farther away.
Here one bank is called Europe and the other Asia. In place of the tugs and barges of the Seine there are many cargo ships and liners flying flags of all the countries of the world that head out to the Black Sea, or weave through the Dardanelles.
What does it matter? I maintain my impression of a beautiful Sunday, the outskirts of town, of cafes. There are lovers on the bridge of the ship, peasants transporting chickens and roosters in cages, sailors on leave who smile in advance at the pleasures they're going to offer themselves.
Trotsky? I wrote to him the day before yesterday to ask him for an interview. Yesterday morning I was already awakened by the ringing of the telephone.
“M. Simenon? This is M. Trotsky’s secretary. M. Trotsky will receive you tomorrow at 4:00. Before this I must tell you that M. Trotsky, whose declarations have been too often twisted, would like to receive your questions in writing in advance. He'll respond in writing ...”
I asked three questions.

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