Henry Schnautz describing the tense scene between the guards and the Mexican police when they bring Jacson back to the compound.
Jacson re-enacting the crime 10 days after the murder.
Source: "Trotsky: A Photographic Biography", David King, 1986, Basil Blackwell publisher
Jacson (Mornard) was brought back twice to the compound to re-enact the crime, on Aug 30, 1940 and on Sept 8, 1941 (or the day before that). In Mexico the judge hears the evidence and makes the determination of guilt or innocence. There is no jury. A legally essential part of the case is to re-enact the crime with the defendant at the scene.
Walter O'Rourke (Walter Ketley), guard and secretary for Natalia Trotsky, documented the trial for the SWP publication "The Fourth International." He says Jacson was brought back the second time because his lawyer was not present for the first re-enactment (Aug '42 below).
Fourth International, May 1942, Walter Rourke - The Murder of Robert Sheldon Harte
Fourth International, August 1942, Walter Rourke - The Trial of the Assassin of Trotsky
Fourth International, August 1943, Walter O’Rourke - The Verdict on the Assassin of Trotsky
On Sept 9, 1941 dozens of American newspapers ran a story from the AP wire service that said Jacques Mornard had nearly been assassinated by two guards, Otto Schussler and Henry Schnautz, during the second re-enactment. This was complete nonsense. All the stories were exactly the same. None of them quoted any source by name. The Mexican police would have taken it as a very serious offense if someone had threatened to kill their prisoner. In response, Henry wrote a detailed account dated Monday, Sept 8, 1941 describing what did happen when Jacson was brought back. No charges were brought or were there any consequences at all. Henry and Esperanza went to the Iris Theatre for a movie on Wednesday night, per his journal. Henry's hometown newspaper did not run the story.
The obvious author of this story is the party behind Mornard. It is well known that the GPU was making a big effort to get him out of jail. The Hitler-Stalin pact was from August 23, 1939 until Hitler invaded Russia on June 22, 1941. Before and after the pact Russian propaganda tried to show Trotsky conspiring with the Nazis. Schnautz and Schüssler are of course German names.
Se mueren means, they will die. Jefe is chief.
Otto is Otto Schuessler, Walter is Walter O'Rourke (Ketley)
Mon. Sept. 8, 1940
After returning at about 9:50 with the 2 engineers I gathered my laundry and left it in the bathroom. I got the rifle and cartridges took 2 books and went into the tower to read. Shortly thereafter cars of police, newspapermen etc arrived. I remained unseen. Before Jackson was brought into the patio an officer came in. Shortly thereafter Walter called to me, "two gentlemen are coming up." An officer and a soldier armed with a rifle and pistol came up into the tower. He asked if I had arms and I gave them my .38. He ordered me to come down. In the garden I talked with Otto. 2 officials asked my name. I wrote it for them. When I saw Jackson enter I turned facing the wall saying, " I don't want to see the bastard. I want to see him dead." Two officers were close at hand and may have overheard it. I asked one "May I go to that room, I don't want to stay here and see the *!? He had difficulty in understanding me. So I said "OK, I'll stay here
then." Otto said, "No, it's all right," so we went to Walter's room. Police officers followed us. I seated myself in a chair at the table and began reading an article in "The 4th International". Otto sat on the bed. Police stayed in the room.
I paid no attention to who came or went or what happened in the garden. I found reading difficult, but hardly looked up.
One officer asked Otto, "Have you a gun?" He answered "no," opened his coat and raised his arms. I answered, "There's a shot gun there" and pointed to the clothes closet. The shotgun was taken away. No search was made of the room because a revolver was hanging on the side of the clothes closet covered by a large red handkerchief. An automatic pistol was on top of the medicine cabinet. Neither was taken. Shortly thereafter Capt. Perez Rulfo came into the room. He was very angry. I don't remember what the purpose of his visit was or what he asked at first. I only recall that Otto answered him several times. Then Rulfo yelled. "Se mueren, se mueren! Se mueren, se mueren!" Shaking his finger he
walked out repeating several more times his threat "se mueren, se mueren!" He had the police draw and cock their automatics. When he left I asked Otto, "Who is that G.D.B. that he threatens to shoot us?" and many other uncomplimentary epithets. I was very angry at his attitude.
Sometime later another "jefe" came in and Otto protested to him that he didn't want to have police with drawn pistols over him, saying he was no criminal, that the criminal was outside and that they were using less vigilance with him than us. This officer ordered them to put their guns into their holsters after we had again promised to behave. Before they left Rulfo came in again with another man and asked Otto for his name. Otto replied that he had given his name to the chief. Rulfo bellowed, thumping himself on the chest the while, "!Yo soy el jefe! Yo soy el jefe!" and repeated his question. Otto asked whether the man accompanying Rulfo was a policeman. He was and produced his credentials. I signed my name without protest. Otto signed
his then too. Later Walter called for me and seeing I couldn't leave asked the reason. An officer on the porch told him I had threatened to kill Jackson. Walter then asked to have them let Otto go to N.(Natalia). After some debate he was permitted to leave. When the police guarding me left I went to the outer gate hoping to find the officer who had taken our guns. A soldier with a rifle refused to let me outside.
Going into the house I was unable to find either Rulfo or the man I sought. In L.D.'s study I found Walter, the Judge and others. I explained they had left with our guns. The judge said "they'll be returned." When I asked "When?", he replied "Today". Several other officers insisted that the guns would be brought back promptly. Ere all had left I took the two engineers back to town. When I returned no strangers were in the place.