Written: 18 February, 1918
First Published: 1 and 2 in1928 in the magainze Proletarskaya Revolutsia No. 2; 3 in 1922, in N. Lenin (V. Ulyanov), Works, Volume XV
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 26, 1972, pp. 520-521
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov and George Hanna, Edited by George Hanna
Transcription & HTML Markup: Charles Farrell and David Walters
Online Version: Lenin Internet Archive December, 2000
Item under discussion: German offensive. A. Lomoy (G. I. Oppokov) moves a proposal to adjourn the debate.
Comrade Lenin objects, but proposes that a five-minute limit should be set for speakers expressing group opinions.
Following a decision to continue the debate, N. I. Bukharin moves that more speakers should be given the floor.
Comrade Lenin objects to this and proposes that the matter should be reduced to the dispatch or non-dispatch of a telegram with an offer of peace, and the pros and cons heard.
Lenin's proposal is adopted.
L. D. Trotsky opposes the dispatch of a telegram with an offer of peace.
Comrade Lenin (speaking in favour of a peace offer). Yesterday's vote was especially characteristic, with everyone recognising the need for peace in the event of an offensive but no movement in Germany.182 There is good cause to believe that the Germans want an offensive in order to overthrow the Soviet Government. We face a situation which calls for action. If an imperialist offensive clearly gets under way, we shall then all be in favour of defence, and this can be explained to the people. If an offensive gets under way now, and we explain this to the masses later, we shall create more confusion than if we now continue negotiations for an extension of the armistice; there is no time to lose in this because the masses will never understand such an approach. Either we wage a revolutionary war for the sociallsation of land, something the masses can understand, or we continue the peace negotiations.
 The morning sitting of the Central Committee on February 18, 1918, discussed the German offensive and the dispatch of a telegram to the German Government announcing readiness to conclude a peace.
The pretext for the German offensive was Trotsky's refusal to sign a peace treaty in Brest-Litovsk. At 7.30 p.m. on February 16, 1918, the German Command officially informed the Soviet representatives at Brest-Litovsk that the ceasefire between Russia and Germany would be terminated at noon on February 18 and a state of war resumed. Under the Brest-Litovsk armistice agreement, concluded on December 2 (15), 1917, the parties were bound to give a seven-day notice of their intention to abrogate the agreement. The German Command violated this commitment. The Soviet Government sent a protest to the German Government over the breach of the armistice agreement, but received no reply. On the morning of February 18 reports were received that German troops had gone into action.
At the Central Committee meeting, Lenin's proposal that a telegram should be sent to the German Government immediately was opposed by Trotsky and Bukharin; Zinoviev favoured its dispatch. When put to the vote Lenin's proposal got 6 votes with 7 against. It was decided to call the next meeting at 2.00 p.m. the next day, but in view of the unfurling German offensive it was called on the night of February 18.