V. I.   Lenin



Written: Written on May 6, 1919
Published: First published in 1965 in Collected Works, Fifth Ed., Vol. 50. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1975, Moscow, Volume 44, pages 224-226a.
Translated: Clemens Dutt
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive.   You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work, as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
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Dear Comrades,

I am sending you my comments. In the absence of essential differences of opinion, decide for yourselves. My advice is: use it for propaganda, for clearly it can serve no other useful purpose. Be extremely polite to Nansen, extremely insolent to Wilson, Lloyd George and Clemenceau. This is very useful, the only way to speak to them, the right tone.



I think both replies are quite correct, in proposing a meeting and thanking Nansen. But it seems to me that the propaganda side should be more fully developed, taking advantage of the fact that the Entente, while easily concealing from everyone all other documents of ours,[1] will be unable, by way of exception, to conceal precisely this reply.

I would therefore advise using for propaganda and elaborating in greater detail the separation of (α) the humanitarian and (β) the political aspect.

(α) You mention the humanitarian (it seems, only the humanitarian?) nature of the proposal? For this all thanks and compliments to Nansen personally. If it’s humanitarian aims, then do not bring politics into it, dear sir, but just start shipping (stress this). Just start shipping! We are even ready to pay through the nose for it and willingly admit you for control and give you every guarantee. Dilate on this, rub it in, make it clear. Appoint a place and time for the talks!

But if a truce, then this is politics] You are an educated man, Mr. Nansen, you know perfectly well that every war and every truce is politics. This means you have linked the “humanitarian” with the “political”. You have lumped them together! Explain to him, as you would to a 16– year-old lass, why a truce is politics.

(β) Is it a good thing—to mix the “humanitarian” with “politics”? No, it is a bad thing, because it is hypocrisy, for which you are not to blame, and it is not you we are blaming. For one must talk frankly about politics without taking cover behind “humanitarianism”.

And once you have started talking politics, then, by your leave, we are obliged to answer you to the point.

1) If the truce is for peace, then you are perfectly aware that we are for it. We agreed (even!) to the Princes Islands.
We confirmed this to Bullitt who, unfortunately, proved, like the whole of American policy, to be a captive of Clemenceau and Lloyd George, for what Bullitt promised us, assuring us that America would make Clemenceau and Lloyd George come to heel, remained unfulfilled (it would be useful to “taunt” Wilson about it!).[4]][2]

It was not we who torpedoed the Princes Islands, but the monarchists and anti-Jew pogromists, the restorers of the landowners’ estates. Explain, develop, prove these three points, that Denikin and Kolchak 1) are monarchists; 2) pogromist thugs; 3) are restoring the estates of the landowners and introducing redemption payments for the peasants.

We agreed to a truce for negotiations about peace, of course, with those who are really to blame for the war, i.e., with Great Britain, France, America, and not with pawns. Explain in detail that it is they who are waging war, with their ships, their guns, their cartridges, their officers. Reveal in detail the outrageously false “renunciation of intervention” in the face of their support (and egging on) of the Estonians, Finns, Poles.

2) Further, if the truce is not for peace, but for a political game—we don’t want it. Peace is not a joking matter. No one will succeed in fooling us. Develop this point, too.

Wind up with a résumé: if it is politics, then we proposed a truce for peace, we agreed, we did not torpedo the Princes Islands, we are always ready for talks with those who are really to blame for the war.

If it is not politics, but humanitarianism, we say thank-you, we accept, we invite you to come, to control, and will go anywhere you like (time, place) and will pay even three times the price in timber, ore, ships.

Indeed, we must not miss the opportunity of replying to Nansen in a way that would make good propaganda.[5]


[1] The reference is to the numerous official peace proposals addressed to the Entente powers (see present edition, Vol. 30, pp. 191–92).—Ed.

[2] If all are against, throw it out (probably this refers to the text which Lenin put in square brackets.—Ed.). But in my opinion, it is extremely useful in practice to set Wilson at variance with them by declaring that Wilson is a pawn in the hands of Clemenceau and Lloyd George, in submitting to these two, to this “majority”!!—Lenin

[3] On May 4, 1919, a letter addressed to Lenin was received by radio from Fridtjof Nansen, Norwegian scientist and arctic explorer. The letter was dated April 17, 1919. In it Nansen gave the text of his appeal to the heads of government of the four Entente Powers (U.S.A., France, Great Britain and Italy) proposing the setting up of a committee to organise aid for Russia with food and medical supplies, and their reply. In their reply the heads of the Entente Powers (Woodrow Wilson, David Lloyd George, Georges Clemenceau and Vittorio Orlando) made this aid conditional on the cessation of military operations on the territory of Russia, but without indicating whether this condition would be binding on the powers who were pursuing a policy of armed intervention against the Soviet Republic. Nansen had obviously failed to see through the manoeuvres of the Entente leaders and expressed his agreement with the conditions they had put forward. On the same day, May 4, Lenin informed Chicherin that this question had been referred to the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the R.C.P.(B.) and asked him to draft a reply to Nansen, emphasising the need to expose the imperialists.

Lenin’s letter published here contains his remarks on the draft reply to Nansen.

[4] William Bullitt, the American diplomat, came to Soviet Russia in March 1919 to ascertain the conditions on which the Soviet Government would agree to conclude peace with the Entente countries as well as with the whiteguard governments on Russian territory. Proposals emanating from the U.S. President, Woodrow Wilson, and the British Prime Minister, Lloyd George, were transmitted through Bullitt. The Soviet Government, striving for the speediest   conclusion of peace, agreed to negotiations on the proposed terms, introducing into them, however, some essential amendments (for the text of the peace proposal drafted by the U.S. government representative, Bullitt, and the Government of the R.S.F.S.R., see Dokumenty vneshnei politiki SSSR, Vol. II, 1958, pp. 91–95). Shortly after Bullitt’s departure from Soviet Russia, Kolchak succeeded in achieving some successes on the Eastern Front, and the imperialist governments, anticipating the collapse of the Soviet state, refused peace negotiations. Wilson forbade publication of the draft agreement brought by Bullitt, and Lloyd George, in a speech in Parliament, declared that he had nothing to do with the negotiations with the Soviet Government.

[5] Lenin’s remarks on the draft replies to Nansen were fully taken into account in the radio-telegram of May 7, 1919 (see Dokumenty vneshnei politiki SSSR, Vol. II, 1958, pp. 154–60). The plan put forward by Nansen came to nothing.

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