Being the Interrogation, Indictment and Verdict after arrest of her husband, Arkadi Berdichevsky --Documents from Russia


First Interrogation

Name of the Accused: Berdichechevsky A. Ya.

Date: April 11, 1936

Question: When did you leave Russia for the first time to go abroad?

Answer: I left Russia and the city of Lodz (presently the territory of Poland) in about 1910.

Q: During your stay abroad, what did you do?

A: From 1910 to 1914 I studied first in Zurich and then Sankt-Halen (? WGK) where I graduated from the Superior Institute of Commerce. Then I moved to Paris (? WGK) where I stayed for several months and then moved to London.

In London I took up an accounting job at a pencil factory. After having worked there for 6 to 7 months I quit. Then I managed to get a position of a correspondent in “Durant, Radfeld (not clear-WGK) Company” which company exported goods to various countries of the world. I worked for that company until 1917 when I left for Moscow.

Q: Where did you reside and what did you do during the years of Revolution?

A: In 1917 I quit my job at the above named company “Durant Radfeld Co.” Instead, the trading company “Gay and Co” hired me to research Russian market for textile exports. On their assignment, I went to Moscow. Having received there a Soviet passport, in 1917 (the year is obscured in the copy. WGK) on that passport I arrived in New York. There, while working for the “Leben Trading Company” which traded predominantly in textile and other goods, I was assigned to develop leads for exporting agricultural machinery to Russia. After staying in New York for about two years, I moved back to London where in September of 1920, I got a job at “Arcos.”

Q: Why, after having returned to Russia in July of 1917 and lived in Moscow throughout the October coup d’etat, did you not stay there, but instead go abroad in the beginning of 1918?

A: I will tell you straightforward that at that time I did not think that the Bolsheviks who just took power would not be able to hold onto it and, therefore, there would not be normal conditions conducive to my line of business.

Q: That means that your attitude toward the October Revolution of 1917 was hostile

A: No, to put it simply, during the 1917-1918 period I did not believe the Bolsheviks were strong enough and therefore my attitude toward the October revolution was that of indifference.

Q: How long did you work for “Arcos” and what type of work was it?

A: I worked for “Arcos” from September 1920 to about September 1927. I started my career there as one of the bookkeepers and ended as the Chief of the Department of Special Goods (cashing in on treasure items, as well as santonin).

Q: With whom of your colleagues at “Arcos” were you acquainted and met, on a regular basis, during your sojourn oversees?

A: Generally speaking, I knew many people at “Arcos,” but one might say that I was more or less closely acquainted and met, not casually but on a regular basis, with such people as the Chief of the Department of Forestry Products Export, Mr. Erbesfeld, Ms Kagan, the translator, and Mr. Ezersky who currently resides overseas.

Q: Who of your former “Arcos” colleagues lives now in the USSR and with whom of them did you meet here?

A: Besides those I named, that is Erbesfeld, who now works in “Eksportles” (Soviet “Forestry Products Export” organization) as Deputy Director of Sow Products, and Kagan who lives in Moscow and, I believe, still does translation, I met in Moscow Mr. Birkengof (probably Birkenhoff. WGK), former Chief of Chemistry Department at “Arcos” and then Chairman of the Board of [another Soviet export organization whose name is unclear. WGK] where I also worked as Deputy Department chief; Mr. Galperin, former “Arcos” manager who is currently, as far as I know, in exile; as well as two to three other persons whose names escape me.

Q: When and where did you go after your work at “Arcos”?

A: After the “Arcos” offices were raided [by the British government? WGK], and after I was deported from England, I was assigned to work for 5 to 6 months at the (Soviet) Trade Representation office in Germany to close the Arcos account for trade in santonin which I did not have time to complete while in England. Then, in 1928, I went to Moscow to work for “Gostorg” [Soviet Government trade monopoly, WGK]. In line of my work for “Gostorg,” I was sent to Tokyo. Having worked there for about two years, I then returned to the USSR and since then (that is, the beginning of 1931) have lived in Moscow without leaving it.

Q: What sort of work did you carry out in Tokyo?

A: I worked as a Representative for “Gostorg” and, later renamed, “Soyuzpromeksport.”

Q: From among your former Tokyo colleagues, whom do you know who are now in the USSR.

A: Mr. Dementiev who now works as “Intourist” department chief in the city of Rostov on the Don, Mr. Zeidner, Deputy Chairman of the Board of “Intourist” in Moscow, Mr. Anikeev, former Trade Representative in Japan and others.

Q: Where and when did you meet your wife, Freda Utley, and who is she?

A: I met Freda Utley in 1926 in London while working there for Arcos. At that time she was a university lecturer and simultaneously wrote for “The New Leader,” (the newspaper of the Independent English Labor Party). In 1928 Utley became a member of the Brittish Communist Party and currently she continues to work in its ranks. With some interruptions, my wife has been residing in Moscow since 1931. Working as a Senior Scientific Worker [senior researcher. WGK] at the Institute of World Economy and Politics, she is a subject of Great Britain.


The transcript [of the interrogation] accurately follows what I said and had been read by me. The additions on pages 2 (“in September 1921” and “I did not believe then that”) are done by me. The line 10 on p. 4 was blotted out with my agreement.

The interrogation is adjourned. (Signature of Berdichevsky)

The interrogation was conducted by Operational Agent (“operupolnomochennyi”) of   Department 10 of NKVD

(Signature is unclear, perhaps, Mr. Demin)


Third Interrogation    (Second Interrogation is missing -may be found)

Transcript of the Interrogation of Berdichevsky, A. Ya.

On April 16, 1936


Q: In the course of our entire investigation, you are telling us the untruth. It is known to us that you are an active participant of a counter-revolutionary Trotskyite organization?

A: In the course of entire investigation I have been telling you the absolute truth. I am not a Trotskyite and never was. On the contrary, I was and remain now an opponent of Trotskyism.

Q: We know that a group of Trotskyites involved in counter-revolutionary work gathered in your apartment. Tell us, of whom did this group consist?

A: No, there were no meetings of Trotskites in my apartment. Different people came to visit me, including Trotskyites Birkengof and Tabrisky.

Q: Birkengof, Tabrisky and your wife Utley, as well as Mr. Galperin—aren’t they a group of the like-minded?

A: If one uses the word “group” in the sense of an organizational unit, which aims to undertake certain actions, then the above named individuals are not a group. However, if you mean a similarity of views, my answer is this: Birkengof was a Trotskyite, Galperin-as far as I know-also a Trotskyite, and Tabrisky became a Trotskyite around 1931-1932. As to my wife, her views at that time were very unsteady, though leaning toward Trotskyism.

Q: It is known to us that your wife’s, Utley’s, position was not unsteady, as you put it, because she had been an active Trotskyite before her arrival in the USSR?

A: Considering that in the course of the entire investigation I am being told that I lie and that all my testimony in regard to my wife cannot be trusted, I find it necessary to state it once for all: my wife never was a member of any counter-revolutionary organization and did not conduct, nor does she conduct now any counter-revolutionary activities. I refuse to reply to all future questions in regard to my wife.

The interrogation is adjourned.


The transcript agrees with what I said and was read by me.



The Interrogators were:

Deputy Chief of Department 10 of the Main Administration of State Security

Senior Lieutenant of State Security (Perlin)

Operational Agent of Department 10 of the Main Administration of NKVD

Lieutenant of State Security (Dyomin)



Fourth Interrogation

Transcript of the Interrogation of Berdichevsky, A. Ya.

On April 19, 1936

Question: As the transcripts of the preceding interrogations show, you testified that Birkengof, Galperin and Tabriski are Trotskyites. It is known to us that, represening a formally structured counter-revolutionary Trotskyite organization, they engage in an active counter-revolutionary work. Can you confirm this?

Answer: No. I only know that they are like-minded persons. I was acquainted with Birkengof, Galperin and Tabriski, and I met with them, but I do not know whether they represent a formally structured Trotskyite group.

Q: As you testified earlier, Birkengof propagated Trotskyite ideas and was doing recruiting among various individuals and groups. Since he also associated with Galperin and Tabriski as like-minded Trotskyite, that defines their joint counter-revolutionary Trotskyite activities. Do you acknowledge it?

A: No, I have no knowledge whether these Trotskyites so named by me engaged in any activities as a formally structured counter-revolutionary Trotskyite group. I can acknowledge that, during the 1931-1932 period, Birkengof engaged in an active Trotskyite propaganda work. Setting as his goal to increase the number of Trotsky’s supporters, he widely propagated Trotskyite ideas.

Q: What goals did Birkengof and his associate Trotskyites set in their counter-revolutionary Trotskyite work?

A: I think that the Trotskyites whom I’ve named, Birkengof, Tabriski, and Galperin, while conducting an active Trotskyite work against the general line of the party, its leaders and Soviet authority, had in mind counter-revolutionary ends, the overthrow of the current regime.

Q: Can you describe, what ways and methods did this Trotskyite group used in its counter-revolutionary Trotskyite work?

A: As far as I know, Birkengof conducted his Trotskyite propaganda work in order to soften up certain individuals and groups. I was among those individuals. Birkengof used to ironize over me by nicknaming me “General Line.”

Q: Give us some facts concerning Birkengof’s efforts to propagandize certain groups?

A: As I have testified in a preceding transcript of interrogation, I know of one occasion when Birkengof, as chairman of “Lestechsyryo,” used his office for propaganda. Among those present, I can now firmly recall by name only one, Mr. Briskin, who was his deputy at the time. Birkengof spoke in the spirit of Trotskyism. However, I cannot recall the content of his speech.

Q: You have testified that Birkengof tried to recruit you for Trotskyite work. Tell us what sort of work did you carry out on Birkengof’s orders.

A: I never got any assignment from Birkengof, nor did I engage in any Trotskyite work.

Q: In that case, explain why Birkengof so trusted you and you continued to meet him to the very end?

A: The reason he trusted me I see in the fact that he counted on my tolerance of different views, as I was a member of intelligentsia, all the more so because at the time we met I was only in my only second yea after I had returned to the USSR. My later encounters with Birkengof took place in an hotel where he used to stay every time when he returned from Mongolia. I always came to hotel on Birkengof’s invitation. We did not have long conversations, and even then mostly about work and news from our work place. We never talked on the Trotskyite topics, except when he informed me about Galperin’s arrest.

Q: In the course of the entire investigation you avoid giving us a truthful testimony. You were a member of a counter-revolutionary Trotskyite organization and in its ranks you engaged in an active counter-revolutionary Trotskyite work. Now, describe in detail the full range of activities of this organization?

A: Once again I maintain that I was absolutely truthful in all my testimony. I never was a member of any counter-revolutionary Trotskyite organization…

[[For some reason, at least one more page of this transcript was not copied for me] translator



Fifth Session

Transcript of Berdichevsky’s interrogation

On April 29, 1936


Q: In the preceding transcript of interrogation, you testified that, while visiting your home, the Trotskyite Berkengof and Tabriski, jointly with your wife, indulged in counter-revolutionary Trotskyite talks. Tell us: With whom else from among your acquaintances did they conduct such talks?

A: I recall that Tabriski and my wife Utley conducted Trotskyite talks with Tabriski’s husband, Mr. Ross, an Englishman, who like myself supported the Party positions at that time.

Q: It is known to us that your wife Utley indulged in Trotskyite conversations with some other colleagues of yours, chiefly, the Russian citizens of the USSR. Name them?

A: As I have already testified, my wife Utley conducted such conversations with Citizen Vyacheslav L’vovich Dementiev, who used to visit us. However, he did not share her views. [Apparently that named had already surfaced in the missing pages of the Fourth Interrogation.]

Q: Who is that Dementiev and where do you know him from?

A: I have known Dementiev since the end of 1928 as my colleague in Japan where we became close friends. I remember that Dementiev was then the Chief of Export Department of [Soviet] Trade Mission. Having left Japan, he returned to the USSR where he worked for “Soyuzpromeksport” in both Leningrad and Moscow. Lately he worked as a department manager for the “Intourist”office in the city of Rostov-on-Don.

Q: Tell us about the content of c-r Trotskyite conversations that went between your wife Utley and Demeniev?

A: These conversations occurred during 1932 and the beginning of 1933 when Dementiev left Moscow. I do not remember the exact content of their conversations, but basically they boiled down to an expression of discontent with the situation in the country, with the fact that Trotsky was thrown out of the Party, and they talked about the need of “democratism” in the Party.

Q: As this investigation has established, while propounding counter-revolutionary Trotskyite ideas in her conversations with Dementiev, Utley tried to persuade the latter to become a member of an underground Trotskyite organization of which both you and she were members?

A: Once again, I affirm that neither myself nor my wife Utley were or are members of any Trotskyite organization. Nor did my wife tried to persuade anyone to become a member of Trotskyite organization.

Q: In the course of the entire investigation you avoid giving us truthful statements. However, your own statements, as they were written down in the transcripts of previous sessions, show that both you and your wife Utley were closely connected with the Trotskyite Birkengof, Tabriski and Dementiev, all of whom are members of an underground counter-revolutionary Trotskyite organization. During your meetings with the latter, you engaged in counter-revolutionary Trotskyite activities, directed against our existing system, against the leadership of the Party and of the Government. These activities define you as active participants of this underground Trotskyite organization. Do you still want to continue to conceal the truth from us?

A: In the course of the entire investigation, I gave truthful and complete testimony. I never thought about Demenitiev as a Trotskyite. My meetings with Birkengof and Tabriski do not constitute participation in c-r Trotskyite organization, even though there was some talk on the Trotskyite topics during these meetings. As I pointed out in preceding transcripts, my attitude toward their views was hostile.

The session is adjourned. The transcript agrees with what I said, and it was read by me.

[Berdichevsky’s signature]

The Interrogator:

Operational Agent of Department 10 of the Main Office of State Security,

Lieutenant of State Security Dyomin

The Indictment

 Of the accused:

  1. BERDICHEVSKY, Arkady Yakovlevich
  2. DEMENTIEV, Vyacheslav L’vovich

Special Department of the Main Administration of State Security of the NKVD received reports that in 1929, in Arcos office in London, there existed a c-r Trotskyite organization, headed by Ya.P. GALPERIN.

A number of people, both Englishmen and USSR citizen, were members of this organization.

After the reports were verified, it was established that a number of Trotskyites that had associated with this organization, are now on the territory of the USSR. It was also established that the Trotskyite UTLEY, a British subject, who was an active member of this organization in London, engages in c-r Trotskyite work in the Soviet Union. Her husband A.Ya.BERDICHEVSKY and V.L. DEMENTIEV are of the same mind with her.

Based on the above information, V.L.DEMENTIEV and Ya.P. [sic!] BERDICHEVSKY were arrested.

The investigation of this case has confirmed the above reports.

The arrested BERDICHEVSKY has testified that, in his apartment, his wife UTLEY organized meetings of the Trotskyites during which the actions of the Party were subjected to a critique on a number of issues (see the transcript pp…).

Not wishing to plead guilty in his own Trotskyite activities, during the investigation BEDICHEVSKY attempted to conceal c-r Trotskyite activity of his wife. He refused to supply any information about her. However, faced with a number of facts, he later was forced to acknowledge that UTLEY was [is, in the Russian original] a Trotskyite as she engaged in Trotskyite conversations, directed against the VKP (b). He also acknowledged that he too took part in those conversations.

DEMENTIEV was one of a group of people who were connected with UTLEY and attended those assemblages.

DEMENTIEV fully confirmed information we had about UTLEY as a Trotskyite. He testified that she conducted patently Trotskyite propaganda, trying to nudge him toward Trotskyism. He also admitted that he agreed with UTLEY on a number of issues (see the transcript…)

Even as a member of VKP (b) [the Communist Party] since 1926, prior to his arrest, DEMENTIEV concealed that UTLEY had conducted patently Trotskyite propaganda and that her apartment served as a rallying point for the Trotskyites.

Based on the above stated, we RESOLVE that:

  1. BERDICHEVSKY, Arkady Yakovlevich, born in 1888, not a party member, citizen of the USSR, of Jewish nationality, son of a merchant, former member of the party BUND, be charged with having participated in the assemblages of c-r Trotskyites, arranged by his wife UTLEY, during which assemblages there was propaganda, directed against VKP(b). Even though he knew about the Trotskyites and their assemblages, prior to his arrest, BERDICHEVSKY concealed it from respective authorities

He admitted his guilt.


  1. DEMENTIEV, Vyacheslav L’vovich, born in 1898, citizen of the USSR, office worker, member of VKP(b) since 1926, excluded from the Party in 1936 as a Trotskyite is charged with having participated in the Trotskyite assemblages, arranged by the above named UTLEY, as well as with having participated in the c-r Trotskyite propaganda that she conducted.

He admitted his guilt in that he knew about the existence of a Trotskyite group, and about their c-r propaganda, directed against VKP(b) and Soviet Government.


The investigation of the case of Vyacheslav L’vovich DEMENIEV and Arkady Yakovlevich BERDICHEVSKY shall be regarded as completed and ready to be presented for a hearing by the Special Conference of the NKVD

Operational Agent of Department 10 of the Special Office of the Main Administration of NKVD, Lieutenant of State Security, Mr. MULYAROV [signature]


Chief of Department 1 of SPO of the Main Administration of NKVD

Major of State Security, SHTEYN [signature]


Deputy Chief of SPO of the Main Administration of NKVD

Major of State Security, Ms ANDREEVA [signature]


There is no material evidence in this case

The arrested (1) BERDICHEVSKY has been guarded in the Butyrskaya Prison of NKVD since April 10, 1936. (2) DEMENTIEV has been detained in the Butyrskaya prison since April 1, 1936

Operational Agent of department 10 of the Special Office of the Main Administration of NKVD, Lieutenant of State Security, Mr. MULYAROV 

[The Verdict]

An Excerpt from the Minutes

Of the Special Conference of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs [NKVD] of the USSR on August 9, 1936


Case No. 3547 [number is barely visible] about Arkady Yakovlevich BERDICHEVSKY, born 1888, son of a merchant, [former] BUND member,

It was RESOLVED that

For his c-r Trotskyite activities, Arkady Yakovlevich BERDICHEVSKY is to serve in a Corrective Labor Camp for FIVE years, counting from April 10, 1936.

His File is to be moved into the archives.

Executive Secretary of the Special Conference [signature is not legible]