Written: Written on October 24, 1921
Published: First published in 1945 in Lenin Miscellany XXXV. Printed: Lenin’s note and remarks from the original; draft declaration, from a typewritten copy.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1976, Moscow, Volume 45, pages 356-358.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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I am sending you my amendments and request you to return thorn with your comment.
No. 1) We do not have 150 but 130 million including the Far-Eastern Republic.
No. 2) Not to “yield”, but to make a number of concessions.
No. 3) The main thing: our claims to them should be stated subtly and precisely.
With communist greetings,
The Brussels Conference of representatives of the Powers, according to the West European press, has set as a condition for granting credits to the Government, of Russia in aid of the starving its recognition of the debts of the former Russian governments. Nothing has yet been communicated to the Government of Russia about the decisions of this conference. However, the Government of Russia, in face of the starving masses, refuses to abide by the subtleties of diplomatic etiquette and feels it to be its bounden duty to declare here and now its attitude to the Brussels decisions. The British Prime Minister, Mr. Lloyd George, in his speech in the British Parliament on August 16, said that the proposal to use the famine in Russia to force her to recognise the tsarist government’s debts was a devilish scheme. Nevertheless, the Brussels Conference, being quite aware that, in view of the scale of the famine disaster in Russia, the Soviet Government is incapable, with its own resources, to save the famine-stricken population, has made the granting of credits to Russia, without which serious aid to the starving is impossible, contingent on the Soviet Government’s recognition of the old debts.
Drawing the attention of the toiling masses in all countries and of all citizens who cherish humanitarian considerations, to these acts of the Brussels Conference, the Government of Russia hereby declares that the proposal to have the old debts recognised on certain terms now meets its own intentions. Since its inception, the Soviet Government has set itself economic co-operation with other Powers as one of the main aims of its policy. It has always declared its readiness to make available sufficient profit to foreign capitalists who would help it to work Russia’s natural resources and rehabilitate her economic apparatus. At present, it says that the official statements of the President of the United States of America and of the Ministers of Great Britain have repeatedly expressed the idea that three years after the end of the world war there is still no real peace, the plight of the masses is becoming ever more acute, state debts are increasing and there is growing economic dislocation.
It is quite obvious that it is inconceivable to establish full peace
without Russia, with her 150 million population, that the economic
dislocation cannot be overcome, so long as Russia is left in ruins,
|| No. 1 130
and that the question of relations between Russia and the rest of the world, which is a paramount world question, cannot be solved without an agreement with the Soviet Government. From the standpoint of; the long-term interests and constant requirements of all states and all peoples, the economic rehabilitation of Russia is a prime necessity not only for her but for them as well. Without economic co-operation with other countries, the task of Russia’s economic revival proves to be exceptionally difficult, and its fulfilment is sure to be dragged out over a much longer period.
This task can be best carried out by a workers’ and peasants’ government. It is not hampered in its work of rehabilitating the national economy by the private self-seeking interests of separate groups of capitalists. A workers’ and peasants’ power is guided immediately by the interests of the broadest masses of people which, in essence, amount to the interests of society as a whole. With its purpose of satisfying the interests of all the toiling people of Russia, the workers’ and peasants’ power, which has emerged victorious from the incredible ordeals of the Civil War, holds out to private initiative and capital the opportunity of co-operating with the workers’ and peasants’ power in developing Russia’s natural resources. The Soviet Government has restored private trade, private property in small enterprises, and the right of concession and lease of large enterprises.
The Soviet power holds out to foreign capital a sufficient part of the profit to satisfy its interests, so as to attract it to participation in economic work in Russia. Following this path, the Soviet Government strives to have economic agreements with all the Powers, for which purpose there is ultimately a need to conclude a final peace settlement between Russia and other states. With this task before it, the Soviet power has met with the demand on the part of the other Powers for recognition of the tsarist government’s old debts.
The Soviet Government declares that it is firmly
convinced that no people is obliged to pay the cost
of the chains it has worn for centuries. But in its
firm resolve to reach full agreement with the other
|| No. 2 make a number of substantial concessions
Powers, the Government of Russia is prepared to yield on this cardinal question. In this way it also meets the desires of many small holders of Russian state loans, especially in France, for whom its recognition of tsarist debts is of substantial interest. On the strength of these considerations, the Government of Russia declares that it is prepared to recognise its obligations to other states and their citizens on state loans contracted by the tsarist government before 1914, provided it is granted easy terms, giving it a practical possibility of meeting these obligations.
It goes without saying that an indispensable prerequisite of such recognition shall be the simultaneous obligation on the part of the Great Powers unconditionally to end all acts threatening the security of the Soviet Republics and the immunity of their boundaries. In other words, the Soviet Republic will undertake these obligations only in the event the Great Powers conclude with it a final general peace, and if its government is recognised by the other Powers.
With that end in view, the Government of Russia
proposes the early convocation of an international
conference to deal with the tasks indicated above, to
examine the reciprocal demands of the other
No. 3 reciprocal claims X on each other X on the other Powers
Powers &Vwhatthe; and the Government of Russia &whatthe; and work out a final peace treaty between them. Only after the convocation of this conference will it be possible to reach a general peace settlement. This will in no sense be achieved by the Washington Conference, whose decisions will not be recognised by the Republic of Russia, which has not been invited to attend the conference.
On the fourth anniversary of the Soviet Government, to be marked in a few days, everyone will have to recognise that the efforts of its numerous external and internal enemies have merely served to consolidate the workers’ and peasants’ power in Russia, as the true defender and representative of the interests of the toiling masses of Russia, and of her independence. The fresh interventionist designs against Soviet Russia, whose existence is evident from the numerous statements by the leading organs of the press in the Entente countries, will merely help to strengthen the indissoluble bonds between the toiling masses of Russia and the workers’ and peasants’ power, which represents their will, but any attempt to implement these schemes can merely increase the suffering of the toiling masses, and delay the moment of Russia’s eventual economic rehabilitation, thereby also delivering a blow at the economic interests of all other peoples.
The proposal being put forward by the Government of Russia is the best evidence of its urge for peace with all states, and the establishing with them of undisturbed economic relations. It is in the interests of all states and peoples that this proposal should be realised. The Government of Russia expresses the firm hope that its proposal will shortly result in the achievement of a final settlement of economic and political relations between Russia and the other states.
 The question of repaying Russia’s old debts was raised at the Brussels Conference, which was held from October 6 to 8, 1921, and was attended by 19 states, including Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Rumania, China and others, and also by representatives of the International Red Cross and ARA.
The conference recommended that the governments should extend credits to Soviet Russia to combat the famine only if she recognised the debts of the old governments and allowed a commission to control the distribution of food.
On October 27, the question of recognising the debts of the old governments was discussed by the Politbureau of the R.C.P.(B.) Central Committee, which decided “to adopt the text proposed by Comrade Chicherin, with Comrade Lenin’s amendments as a basis, and to authorise Comrade Chicherin to publish it over his signature” (Central Party Archives of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the C.P.S.U. Central Committee). The Soviet Government’s statement on the recognition of the old debts, with Lenin’s amendments, was sent to the Governments of Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan and the U.S.A. on October 28 (see Pravda No. 243 of October 29, 1921). The official text differs slightly from the wording of the draft published in this volume.