Nikolai Krestinsky

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Nikolai Nikolaevich Krestinsky (October 13, 1883 - March 15, 1938) was an original Bolshevik revolutionary, then one of five members of the Politburo, before finally being executed in the Great Purges. His trial (as part of the Trial of the Twenty One) on March 12, 1938 is an example of a strange denial to an admission of guilt.

On March 12th, he said to the presiding judge, Vasili Ulrikh:

I do not recognize that I am guilty. I am not a Trotskyite.
I was never a member of the "right-winger and Trotskyite bloc",
which I did not know to exist. Nor have I committed a single one of
the crimes imputed to me, personally; and in particular I am not guilty
of having maintained relations with the German Secret Service.

The following day, he made a total reversal on his position.

Yesterday, under the influence of a momentary keen feeling of false shame,
evoked by the atmosphere of the dock and the painful impression created by
the public reading of the indictment, which was aggravated by my poor health,
I could not bring myself to tell the truth, I could not bring myself to say that I
was guilty. And instead of saying, "Yes, I am guilty," I almost mechanically answered,
"No, I am not guilty."

It is hard to believe that Krestinsky's change in stance was due to anything other than the threats of being tortured.

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