Leon Trotsky

The Stalin School of Falsification

Letter to the Bureau of
Party History

(Part 1)

Concerning the Falsification of the History of the October Revolution, the History of the Revolution and the History of the Party

Esteemed Comrades:

You have sent me a very detailed printed questionnaire concerning my participation in the October Revolution, and you request an answer. I doubt if I could add much to what is printed in various documents, speeches, articles and books, my own among them. But I permit myself to ask you: What is the sense of questioning me about my participation in the October Revolution when the entire official machine, yours along with the rest, is occupied with concealing, destroying, or at least distorting every trace of that participation?

Hundreds of comrades have asked me again and again why I continue silent in the face of a perfectly outrageous falsification, directed against me, of the history of the October Revolution and the history of our party. I certainly do not intend here to exhaust the theme of these falsifications. That would require several volumes. But in answer to your questionnaire, I will indicate a few dozen examples of this conscious and spiteful distortion of the past, which is now organized on an enormous scale, sustained by the authority of all kinds of public institutions, and even carried into the textbooks.


1. I arrived in Petrograd from a Canadian prison at the beginning of May 1917, on the second day after the entry of the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionists into the coalition government.

The organs of the Istpart, like many others, are trying at this late date to describe my work during the war as bordering on social-patriotism. In this attempt they “forget” that a collection of my writings during the war (War and Revolution) was published in many editions during Lenin’s life, was studied in the party schools, and appeared in foreign translation among the publications of the Communist International.

You are trying to deceive the younger generation in regard to my line during the war – to deceive those who do not know that for my revolutionary internationalist struggle during the war, I was condemned in my absence to be imprisoned in Germany as early as the end of 1914. This was for my German book, The War and the International. I was deported from France where I worked with the future founders of the Communist party; I was arrested in Spain where I had formed connections with the future Communists; I was deported from Spain to the United States; carried on revolutionary internationalist work in New York; participated with Bolsheviks in the editorship of the newspaper, Novy Mir, and there gave a Leninist evaluation of the first stages of the February Revolution. Returning from America to Russia, I was removed from the steamship by the British authorities, spent a month in a concentration camp in Canada along with six or eight hundred German sailors whom I recruited on the side of Liebknecht and Lenin. (Many of them took part afterward in the civil war in Germany and I receive letters from them to this day.)

2. On the subject of an English dispatch as to the causes of my arrest in Canada, Lenin’s Pravda wrote as follows:

“Is it possible to believe for a minute in the validity of the dispatch received by the English government stating that Trotsky, the former chairman of the Soviet of Workers’Deputies in St. Petersburg in 1905 – a revolutionist devoted for decades to the service of the revolution – that this man had any connection with a plan subsidized by the ‘German government’. This is clearly a monstrous and unscrupulous slander against a revolutionist!” (Pravda, No.84, April 16, 1917.)

How fresh these words sound now in this epoch of contemptible slanders against the Opposition, differing in no essential from the slanders against the Bolsheviks in 1917

3. A note on page 482, Volume XIV of the Collected Works of Lenin, published in 1921, reads:

“From the beginning of the imperialist war, [Trotsky] took a clear-cut internationalist position.”

Such comments, and still more categorical ones, could be adduced to any number. The writers in our entire party press, both Russian and foreign, have pointed out hundreds of times in reviewing my book, War and Revolution, that, considering my work during the war as a whole, one must recognize and understand that my differences with Lenin were of a subordinate character and that my fundamental line was revolutionary and continually brought me nearer to Bolshevism – and this not only in words, but in deeds.

4. You are trying after the event to assemble quotations of certain isolated, sharply polemical remarks of Lenin’s against me, among them some that were made during the war. Lenin could never endure any half-statements or unclearness. He was right in dealing double and triple blows when a political thought seemed to him incomplete or equivocal. But a polemical blow struck at a given moment is one thing, the appraisal of a man’s political line as a whole is another.

In 1918, in America, a certain F. published a collection of articles [2] by Lenin and me during the war period, among them my articles on the then controversial question of the United States of Europe. How did Lenin react to that? He wrote: “the American comrade, F., was wholly right in publishing a big volume containing a series of articles by Trotsky and me and thus giving a handbook of the history of the Russian Revolution.” (Works, Vol.XVII, p.96, Russ. ed.)

5. I will not touch upon the conduct of the majority of my present accusers during the war and at the beginning of the February Revolution. Here one could relate many interesting things as to the Skvortsov-Stepanovs, Yaroslavskys, Voroshilovs, Ordjonikidzes and many, many others. [3] I confine myself to a few words concerning comrade Melnichansky who has attempted in the press to bear false witness in regard to my line in May-June 1917.

Everybody in America knew Melnichansky as a Menshevik. In the struggle of the Bolsheviks and revolutionary internationalists against social-patriotism and Centrism, Melnichansky took no part whatsoever. He side-stepped all such questions. He did the same thing in the Canadian camp where he (like many others) landed accidentally along with me and Chudnovsky. In making our plans for future work, Chudnovsky and I took the precaution not to impart them to Melnichansky. But since we had to live side by side in the barracks, Chudnovsky and I decided to put a point-blank question to Melnichansky: With whom was he going to work in Russia, with the Mensheviks or with the Bolsheviks? To Melnichansky’s credit it is necessary to state that he answered: “With the Bolsheviks.” Only after that did Chudnovsky and I begin to talk with him as with a co-thinker.

Read over what Melnichansky wrote in 1924 and in 1927. Anybody who knew Melnichansky in America could only laugh at it. But why go back to America? You have only to listen to any current speech of Melnichansky in order to recognize the opportunist office-holder to whom Purcellism is much closer than Leninism.

6. On the arrival of our group in Petrograd, comrade Fedorov, then a member of the Bolshevik Central Committee, welcomed us in its name at the Finland Station and in his speech of welcome posed sharply the question of the next stages of the revolution, the dictatorship of the proletariat and the socialist course of development. The reply I gave was in full accord with Lenin’s April theses which, for me, flowed unfailingly from the theory of the permanent revolution. [4] As Comrade Fedorov told me subsequently, the fundamental point of his speech had been formulated by him in agreement with Lenin or, more accurately, at Lenin’s direction. It goes without saying that Lenin considered this question decisive with regard to the possibility of our collaboration.

7. I did not enter the Bolshevik organization immediately upon my arrival from Canada. Why? Was it because I had disagreements? You are trying to concoct them now in retrospect. Whoever lived through the year 1917 as a member of the central kernel of the Bolsheviks knows that there was never a hint of any disagreement between Lenin and me from the very first day. On my arrival in Petrograd – or rather at the Finland Station – I learned from the comrades sent to meet me that there existed in Petrograd an organization of revolutionary internationalists (the so-called “Mezhrayontsi[5]) which was postponing the question of fusion with the Bolsheviks; in addition, certain of the leading members of this organization linked their decision on this question with my arrival. Among the personnel of the “Mezhrayontsi” organization, which comprised about 4,000 Petrograd workers, were Uritsky, A.A. Joffe, Lunacharsky, Yurenev, Karakhan, Vladimirov, Manuilsky, Pozern, Litkens and others.

Here is the characterization of the “Mezhrayontsi” organization given in a note (pp.488f.) in Volume XIV of Lenin’s Collected Works:

“On the war question the ‘Mezhrayontsi’ held an internationalist position and in their tactics were close to the Bolsheviks.”

From the earliest days of my arrival, I stated first to comrade Kamenev, afterward to the editorial hoard of Pravda, in the presence of Lenin, Zinoviev and Kamenev, that I was ready to join the Bolshevik organization immediately in view of the absence of any disagreements whatever but that it was necessary to decide the question of the quickest possible way of attracting the “Mezhrayontsi” organization into the party. I remember that some one of those present raised the question of how I thought the fusion should be carried out (what member of the “Mezhrayontsi” should go into the editorial board of Pravda, who into the Central Committee, etc.). I answered that for me that question had no political importance what so ever in view of the absence of any disagreements.

Among the membership of the “Mezhrayontsi” organization there were elements which tried to impede the fusion, advancing this or that condition, etc. (Yurenev and, in part, Manuilsky). Between the Petersburg Committee of the party and the “Mezhrayontsi” organization there had piled up, as always in such circumstances, old grudges, lack of confidence, etc. That and that alone caused the delay in our fusion until July.

8. Comrade Raskolnikov has covered no little paper in recent times with attempts to contrast my line in the year 1917 with Lenin’s. It is too wearisome a task to adduce such examples, especially since his writing does not differ in the least from all the other falsifications of the same kind.

It might prove more fruitful, therefore, to quote some words which this same Raskolnikov wrote about that period somewhat earlier:

“The echoes of past disagreements during the pre-war period had completely disappeared. No differences existed between the tactical line of Lenin and Trotsky. The fusion, already observable during the war, was completely and definitely achieved from the moment of Leon Davidovich’s [Trotsky’s] return to Russia. From his first public speech all of us old Leninists felt that he was ours.” (In Kerensky’s Jail, Proletarskaya Revolutsia, No.10 [22], 1923, pp.150f.)

Those words were written not in order to prove something or to refute something but just to tell what was. Later on Raskolnikov showed that he also knows how to tell what was not. In republishing his articles issued by the organs of the Istpart, Raskolnikov meticulously removed from them what was, in order to replace it with what was not.

Maybe it is not worth while to dwell upon comrade Raskolnikov but this example is rather striking.

In his review of the third volume of my Collected Works in Krasnaya Nov., No.7-8, 1924, pp.395-401, Raskolnikov asks:

“And what was the position of Trotsky himself in 1917?”

and answers:

“Comrade Trotsky still considered himself a member of the same general party with the Mensheviks, Tseretelli and Skobelev.”

And further:

“Comrade Trotsky had not yet clarified his attitude towards Bolshevism and Menshevism. At that time comrade Trotsky still occupied a vacillating, indefinite, straddling position.”

You might ask how these really impudent assertions can be reconciled with the words of this same Raskolnikov quoted above: “The echoes of past disagreements during the pre war period had completely disappeared.”

If Trotsky had not defined his attitude towards Bolshevism and Menshevism, how did it happen that “all of us old Leninists felt that he was ours”?

But that is not all. In the article of the same Raskolnikoy entitled July Days, Proletarskaya Revolutsia, No.5 (17), 1928, pp.71f., we read:

“Leon Davidovich was not formally at that time a member of our party but as a matter of fact he worked continuously within it from the day of his arrival from America. At any rate, immediately after his first speech in the Soviet, we all looked upon him as one of our party leaders.”

That seems clear. It seems to be beyond false interpretation. But never fear. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. And how great is the “evil” of our day – an evil systematically organized and reinforced by official command and circular letter.

In order that the conduct of Raskolnikov, characteristic not of him personally but of our entire present system of leadership and education, may appear in its full splendor, I must cite a longer paragraph from his article In Kerensky’s Prison. Here is what he says:

“Trotsky’s attitude to Vladimir Ilyich [Lenin] was one of enormous respect. He esteemed Lenin higher than all contemporaries whom he had met in Russia and abroad. In the tone in which Trotsky spoke of Lenin you felt the devotion of a disciple. At that time Lenin had given thirty years’service to the proletariat, Trotsky twenty.”

Then come the lines already quoted above:

“The echoes of past disagreements of the pre-war period had completely disappeared ... All of us old Leninists felt that he was ours.”

This testimony of Raskolnikov as to Trotsky’s attitude toward Lenin does not, of course, deter Raskolnikov from quoting the Letter of Trotsky to Chkheidze [6], which was extracted from the garbage heap of émigré squabbles for the education of the younger members of the party.

It should be added that Raskolnikov met me often in the line of duty in the summer months of 1917. He frequently drove me to Kronstadt; he turned to me many times for counsel; held long conversations with me in prison, and so forth.

His personal reminiscences represent in this sense a valuable testimonial proof, whereas his later “corrections” are nothing more than the work of a falsifier fulfilling his task under orders.

Before parting with Raskolnikov, let us hear how he portrayed in his reminiscences the reading by the investigator of the testimony of Ermolenko in regard to German gold [7], etc.:

“During the reading of his testimony we made, from time to time, ironical comments but when the dispassionate voice of the investigator arrived at the name, so dear to us, of comrade Lenin, Trotsky could not restrain himself. He struck the table with his fist, rose to his full height, and announced with indignation that he refused to listen to this vile and lying testimony. Unable to restrain our wrath in the face of this unconcealed falsification, we all, to the last man, hotly supported comrade Trotsky.”

Wrath in the face of “unconcealed falsification” is a perfectly understandable feeling. But leaving aside the trivial falsifications of Raskolnikov himself (also none too well concealed), let me ask: What is the attitude of the present Raskolnikov, having graduated from the Stalin school, to the latest creations à la Ermolenko in regard to the Wrangel [8] officer and the counter-revolutionary conspiracy of the Left Opposition?


9. Many of the documents issued by the Bolsheviks in May, June and July 1917 were written by me or with my editorial participation. To this series belong, for instance, the Declaration of the Bolshevik Fraction of the Soviet Congress as to the Proposed Advance on the Front (First Congress of the Soviets), the letter to the Central Executive Committee of the Soviets from the Central Committee of the Bolshevik party in the days of the June demonstration, and others. I have chanced upon quite a number of Bolshevik resolutions of this period which I wrote, or participated in writing. In all my speeches at all meetings, as is well known to all the comrades, I identified myself with the Bolsheviks.

10. One of the “Marxian historians” of the new style attempted not long ago to discover disagreements between Lenin and me on the subject of the July days. Everyone tries to contribute his mite, hoping to receive it back a hundred fold. You have to overcome a feeling of disgust even to refute such falsifications. I will not cite personal reminiscences. I limit myself to documents. In my declaration to the Provisional Government, I wrote at that time:

“1. I share the principled position of Lenin, Zinoviev and Kamenev, and I have developed it in my journal, Vperyod, and in general in all my public speeches ...

“2. My not participating in the editorship of Pravda and not entering the Bolshevik organization are not to be explained by political differences but are due to conditions in our party history which have now lost all significance.” (Collected Works, Vol.III, Part I, pp.165f.)

11. In connection with the July days, the Social Revolutionary-Menshevik Presidium convoked a plenary session of the Central Executive Committee. The Bolshevik fraction of the plenum invited me at that difficult moment to make the report on the question of the new situation and the problems of the party. That was before my formal union with the party and notwithstanding the fact that Stalin, for example, was then in Petrograd. The “Marxian historians” of the new style did not yet then exist, and the assembled Bolsheviks unanimously approved the fundamental ideas of my report on the July days and the tasks of the party. There is published testimony on this point, particularly in the memoirs of N.I. Muralov.

12. Lenin, as is well known, did not suffer from benevolent confidence in people when it was a question of ideological line or of political conduct in difficult circumstances, and such benevolence was particularly foreign to him in relation to revolutionists who had stood in a preceding period outside the ranks of the Bolshevik party. It was precisely the July days which broke down the last remnants of the old dividing lines. In his letter to the Central Committee on the slate of Bolshevik candidates for the Constituent Assembly, Vladimir Ilyich wrote:

“We cannot possibly permit such an immoderate number of candidates from people who have hardly been tested and who have just recently joined the party (such as, U. Larin).

“We must have special reconsideration and correction of the slate.

“It goes without saying that ... nobody would oppose such a nomination, for example, as that of L.D. Trotsky, for, in the first place, Trotsky immediately upon his arrival, took the position of an internationalist; in the second place, he fought among the ‘Mezhrayontsi’ for fusion with the Bolsheviks; and finally, during the onerous July days he proved himself both equal to the task and a devoted adherent of the party of the revolutionary proletariat. Obviously that can not be said for a majority of the recent members of the party who appear on the slate.” (The First Legal Central Committee of the Bolsheviks in 1917, Leningrad Istpart, pp.305f.)

13. The question of our attitude to the Pre-Parliament [9] was discussed in Lenin’s absence. I appeared as the reporter for those Bolsheviks who favored boycotting the Pre-Parliament. The majority of the Bolshevik faction of the Democratic Conference voted, as is well known, against the boycott. Lenin came out decisively in support of the minority. Here is what he wrote to the Central Committee on that score:

“We must boycott the Pre-Parliament. We must go to the Soviet of Workers’, Soldiers’and Peasants’Deputies; we must go to the trade unions – go to the masses in general. We must summon them to struggle. We must give them the correct and clear slogan: Disperse the Bonapartist band of Kerensky together with the bogus Pre-Parliament, with its Tseretelli-Bulyginite Duma. The Mensheviks and Social Revolutionists did not accept our compromise even after the Kornilov events, our proposal of a peaceful transfer of power to the Soviets (in which, at that time, we did not yet have a majority). They sank again into the swamp of dirty and infamous bargains with the Cadets. Down with the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionists! Ruthless struggle against them! Ruthlessly drive them out of all revolutionary organizations! No negotiations, no conferences with these friends of the Kishkins, friends of Kornilov’s landlords and capitalists!

“Saturday, September 22.

“Trotsky was for the boycott. Bravo, Comrade Trotsky!

“Boycottism was beaten in the Bolshevik faction attending the Democratic Conference. Long live the boycott!” (Prolelarskaya Revolutsia, No.3, 1924)


14. As to my participation in the October Revolution – in the notes on p.482 in Vol. XIV of the Collected Works of Lenin, you read:

“After the majority of the Petrograd Soviet passed into the hands of the Bolsheviks, [Trotsky] was elected its chairman and in that position organized and led the insurrection of October 25.”

How much is true here and how much false, let the Istpart decide – if not the present one then some future one. Lately, Stalin, at any rate, has categorically denied the truth of this assertion. Thus:

“I have to say that comrade Trotsky played no particular role in the October insurrection and could not do so; that, being chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, he merely fulfilled the will of the corresponding party authority which guided his every step.”

And further:

“Comrade Trotsky played no particular role in the party or the October insurrection and could not do so, being a man comparatively new to our party in the October period.” (J. Stalin: Trotskyism or Leninism, pp.68f.)

To be sure, in giving this testimony, Stalin forgot what he himself said on the 6th of November 1918; that is, on the first anniversary of the revolution, when facts and events were still too fresh in the minds of all. Even then, Stalin had already begun that work in relation to me which he has now developed on such a grand scale. But he was then compelled to conduct it far more cautiously and underhandedly than he is doing now. Here is what he wrote then in Pravda (No.241) under the title, The Role of the Most Eminent Party Leaders:

“All the work of practical organization of the insurrection was conducted under the immediate leadership of the chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, Trotsky. It is possible to declare with certainty that the swift passing of the garrison to the side of the Soviet and the bold execution of the work of the Military Revolutionary Committee, the party owes principally and above all to comrade Trotsky.”

These words, written by no means for the purpose of laudatory exaggeration – on the contrary, Stalin’s goal was then wholly different: with his article he wanted to “warn” against exaggerating Trotsky’s role (this is really why the article was written) – these words sound like an absolutely incredible panegyric today, coming from the lips of Stalin. But at that time it was impossible to express oneself otherwise. It was said long ago that a truthful man has this advantage, that even with a bad memory he never contradicts himself, while a disloyal, unscrupulous and dishonest man has always to remember what he said in the past, in order not to shame himself.

15. Stalin, with the help of the Yaroslavskys, is trying to construct a new history of the organization of the October insurrection, basing himself on the fact that the party created a “practical center for the organizational leadership of the insurrection,” of which, if you please, Trotsky was not a member. Neither was Lenin a member of that committee. That fact alone demonstrates that the committee had only a subordinate organizational significance. It played no independent role whatever. The legend about this committee has been created today for the simple reason that Stalin was a member of it. Here is the membership: Sverdlov, Stalin, Dzerzhinsky, Bubnov, Uritsky.

However unpleasant it is to dig into rubbish, it seems necessary for me, as a fairly close participant in and witness of the events of that time, to testify as follows:

The role of Lenin, of course, needs no illumination. Sverdlov I often met and I often turned to him for counsel and for people to help me. Comrade Kamenev, who, as is well known, held then a special position [10], the incorrectness of which he himself has long ago acknowledged, took, nevertheless, a most active part in the events of the insurrection. The decisive night, from the 25th to the 26th, Kamenev and I spent together in the quarters of the Military Revolutionary Committee, answering questions and giving orders by telephone. But stretch my memory as I will, I cannot answer the question in just what consisted, during those decisive days, the role of Stalin. It never once happened that I turned to him for advice or cooperation. He never showed the slightest initiative. He never advanced a single independent proposal. This fact no “Marxian historian” of the new style can alter.

16. (I add this note on November 2, 1927.) Stalin and Yaroslavsky, as I said above, have wasted much effort these last months in proving that the military revolutionary center created by the Central Committee, consisting of Sverdlov, Stalin, Bubnov, Uritsky and Dzerzhinsky, was, allegedly, the director of the whole course of the insurrection. Stalin has emphasized, in every way he could, the fact that Trotsky was not a member of that center. But alas! through sheer carelessness on the part of Stalin’s historians, in Pravda of Nov. 2, 1927 – that is, after the present letter was written – there appeared an accurate excerpt from the minutes of the Central Committee for the 16th (29th) of October 1917:

“The Central Committee created a military revolutionary center with the following members: Sverdlov, Stalin, Bubnov, Uritsky and Dzerzhinsky. This center is to be a constituent part of the Revolutionary Soviet Committee.

The Revolutionary Soviet Committee is none other than the Military Revolutionary Committee created by the Petrograd Soviet. No other Soviet organ for the leadership of the insurrection existed. Thus, these five comrades, designated by the Central Committee, were required to supplement the staff of that same Military Revolutionary Committee of which Trotsky was chairman. Superfluous, it would seem, for Trotsky to be introduced a second time into the staff of an organization of which he was already chairman! How hard it is, after all, to correct history after the event!


17. At Brest, I wrote a short outline of the October Revolution. This little book went through a large number of editions in various languages. Nobody ever told me that there is a flagrant omission in my book; namely, that it nowhere points out the chief guide of the insurrection “the military revolutionary center,” of which Stalin and Bubnov were members. If I was so poorly informed of the history of the October insurrection, why did not somebody enlighten me? Why was my book studied with impunity in all the party schools during the early years of the revolution?

But that is not all. Even in the year 1922, the Organization Bureau of the party seemed to think that I understood fairly well the history of the October Revolution. Here is a small but eloquent confirmation of that:

Moscow, May 24, 1922

“To Comrade Trotsky:

“Excerpt from the minutes of the session of the Organization Bureau of the Central Committee for May 22, 1922, No.21.

“Commission comrade Yakovlev by the first of October to compile, under the editorship of comrade Trotsky, a text book of the October Revolution.

“Secretary of the Second Department of Propaganda (Signature)”

That was in May 1922. Both my book about the October Revolution, as well as my book about the year 1905, having appeared before that time in many editions, must have been well known to the Organization Bureau – which was already at that period headed by Stalin. Nevertheless, the Organization Bureau deemed it necessary to assign me the task of editing the textbook of the history of the October Revolution. How is that? Evidently the eyes of Stalin and the Stalinists were epened to “Trotskyism” only after the eyes of Lenin had closed forever.


18. It was already after the October Revolution that upon the insistence of the Right wing (Kamenev, Rykov, Lunacharsky and others) negotiations were carried on with the Conciliationists regarding a coalition socialist government. As one of the conditions, the Conciliationists demanded the exclusion from the government of Lenin and Trotsky. The Rights were inclined to accept that condition. The question was considered at the session of November 1 (14). This is what the minutes state:

“Session of the 1st (14th) of November 1917.

“Ultimatum of the majority of the Central Committee to the minority ... It is proposed to exclude Lenin and Trotsky. This is a proposal to decapitate our party and we do not accept it.”

That very day, that is, on the 1st (14th) of November, Lenin spoke on this issue at the meeting of the Petrograd Committee. The minutes of the Petrograd Committee meetings for 1917 were published on the tenth anniversary of October. Originally the minutes of this session of the 1st (14th) of November 1917, were likewise included in that edition. In the first proof of the table of contents, this session is indicated. But afterwards, under orders from above, the minutes of November 1 (14) were deleted and concealed from the party. [11] It is easy to understand why. On the question of compromise, Lenin spoke to the party as follows:

“As for a compromise – I cannot even speak about that seriously. Trotsky said long ago that unification is impossible. Trotsky understood this and from that time on there has been no better Bolshevik.

The speech ends with the slogan: “No compromise! A homogeneous Bolshevik government!”

19. It is worth noting that these same minutes of the session of the Petrograd Committee clearly show what was Lenin’s attitude to the question of discipline when discipline was being used to cover a patently opportunistic line. After the report of comrade Fenigstein, Lenin announced:

“If you want a split, go ahead. If you get the majority, take power in the Central Executive Committee and carry on. But we’ll go to the sailors.

It was precisely by means of this bold, decisive, irreconcilable way of putting the question that Lenin saved the party from a split.

Iron discipline, yes, but on the basis of a revolutionary line. On the fourth of April, Lenin said (at the so-called March Party Conference) [12]:

“Even our Bolsheviks show confidence in the Provisional] Government. That can be explained only by intoxication incidental to revolution. That is the death of socialism. You, comrades, place confidence in the government. If that’s your position, our ways part.”

And further:

“I hear that in Russia there is a trend toward unification. Unification with the defensists [13] – that is betrayal of socialism. I think it would be better to stand alone like Liebknecht – one against a hundred and ten.” [14]

20. Why did Lenin pose this question so sharply – one against a hundred and ten? Because in the March Conference of 1917, semi-defensist and semi-coalitionist tendencies were very strong.

At that conference, Stalin supported the resolution of the Krasnoyarsk Soviet of Deputies which advocated:

“Support of the Provisional Government in its activities, only in so far as it follows a course of satisfying the demands of the working class and the revolutionary peasantry in the revolution that is taking place.”

More than that, Stalin stood for unification with Tseretelli. Here is the verbatim excerpt from the minutes of the conference:

Order of the day: Tseretelli’s proposal for unification.

STALIN: We ought to go. It is necessary to define our proposal as to the terms of unification. Unification is possible along the lines of Zimmerwald-Kienthal.” [15]

When certain participants of the conference made objections to the effect that such a unification would be heterogeneous, Stalin replied:

“There is no use running ahead and anticipating disagreements. There is no party life without disagreements. We will live down trivial disagreements within the party.”

Disagreements with Tseretelli, Stalin considered “trivial.” In his attitude toward the followers of Tseretelli, Stalin was for a broad democracy: “There is no party life without disagreements.”

21. Now, comrade directors of the Istpart of the Central Committee, permit me to ask you: Why have the minutes of the March 1917 Party Conference never yet seen the light of day? You broadcast questionnaires with innumerable graphs and rubrics. You collect every kind of triviality, often the most insignificant. Why do you keep on hiding the minutes of the March Conference which have tremendous significance for the history of the party? Those minutes reveal the state of mind of the leading elements of the party on the eve of Lenin’s return to Russia. In the Secretariat of the Central Committee and in the Presidium of the Central Control Commission, I have repeatedly asked: Why does the Istpart conceal from the party a document of such extraordinary importance? The document is known to you. It is in your possession. You do not publish it for the simple reason that it cruelly reflects upon the political physiognomy of Stalin at the end of March and the beginning of April – that is to say, in that period when Stalin independently tried to work out a political line.

22. In his same speech at the Conference of April 4, Lenin said:

Pravda demands from the government that it renounce annexations ... Nonsense! Flagrant mockery of ...

The minutes are not edited. There are omissions and unfinished sentences in them. But the general sense and the general trend of the speech are absolutely clear. One of the editors of Pravda was Stalin. In Pravda Stalin wrote semi-defensist articles and supported the Provisional Government “in so far as.” With petty reservations, Stalin welcomed the manifesto of Kerensky and Tseretelli to all the nations – a lying, social-patriotic document which aroused nothing but indignation in Lenin.

That is why, comrades of the Istpart, and that is the only reason why, you do not publish the minutes of the Party Conference of March 1917 but hide them from the party.

23. I cited above the speech of Lenin at the session of the Petrograd Committee, November 1 (14). Where are the minutes of that meeting published? Nowhere. Why? Because you have forbidden it. There has just appeared a collection of the minutes of the first legal Petrograd Committee of 1917. The minutes of the session of November 1 (14) were originally included in this collection and were indicated in the table of contents as it was first set up. But afterward, as I said, at the order of the Central Istpart, the minutes were deleted from the book with this remarkable explanation that “obviously” the speech of Lenin was distorted by the secretary in his notes. What does this “obvious” distortion consist in? It consists in this: That Lenin’s speech ruthlessly refutes the false assertions of the present historical school of Stalin-Yaroslavsky concerning Trotsky. Everyone who knows Lenin’s oratorical style will acknowledge without hesitation the authenticity of his recorded phrases. Behind the words of Lenin about conciliationism, behind his threat – “We will go to the sailors’ – you feel the living Lenin of those days. You hide him from the party. Why? Because of his comment on Trotsky. Only that!

You hide the minutes of the March 1917 Conference because they compromise Stalin. You hide the minutes of the session of the Petrograd Committee only because they obstruct your work of falsification against Trotsky.

24. Permit me to touch in passing upon an episode concerning comrade Rykov.

Many comrades were surprised at the publication, in the notes of the Lenin Institute, of an article in which Lenin wrote several unpleasant lines in regard to Rykov. Here is what he wrote:

Rabochaya Gazeta, an organ of Menshevik Ministerialists, is trying to cast aspersions upon us because the Okhrana [16] in 1911 arrested a Bolshevik conciliator, Rykov, in order to give ‘free’ activity, ‘on the eve of the elections to the Fourth Duma’ (Robochaya Gazeta especially emphasizes this) to the Bolsheviks of our party.”

Thus, in 1911, Lenin numbered Rykov among the non-party Bolsheviks. How did these lines happen to see the light of day? Ordinarily, in these times, only those harsh comments that bear upon Oppositionists are quoted from the works of Lenin. About the representatives of the present majority, it is permitted to quote only praise (provided there is any). How then did the above lines get into print? Everybody is explaining this fact in exactly the same way: Stalin’s historians consider necessary (so soon! so soon!) a complete objectivity – in regard to Rykov. [17]


2. The “American comrade, F.” referred to here is Louis C. Fraina. The collection of articles appeared under the title, The Proletarian Revolution in Russia, by N. Lenin and Leon Trotsky. Edited with an Introduction, Notes and Supplementary Chapters by Louis C. Fraina. New York, The Communist Press Publishers, 1918

3. Most of the self-styled “Old Bolsheviks” who sat in judgment upon Trotsky played a lamentable role during the war and especially upon the outbreak of the revolution of February (March), 1917. Thus, the Bolshevik Duma fraction and their guide, Kamenev, upon being tried for treason when war broke out, repudiated Lenin’s theses on the war which were introduced in evidence against them and which called for the transformation of the imperialist war into a civil war. After the February revolution and before Lenin’s arrival in Russia, most of the Bolshevik leaders merely adopted a radical democratic, but by no means proletarian, revolutionary position. Many, like Stalin, inclined strongly to defense of the fatherland (under Kerensky) in the war and to political support of the government. Interesting details are given in Leon Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution, Vol.1, Chaps.XV and XVI.

4. Lenin’s theses, drawn up immediately after his arrival in Russia in April, 1917, were aimed to orient the Bolshevik party towards leading the workers and peasants to the seizure of power independently of the bourgeoisie. For the relations between Lenin’s theses and Trotsky’s theory of the permanent revolution, see the latter’s The Permanent Revolution, New York 1931, and his The History of the Russian Revolution, Vol.III, Appendix III.

5. The German edition of Lenin’s collected works describes the Mezhrayontsi as follows in an annotation (p.573ff.) to the first book of Vol.XX, published in 1928: “‘Inter-District Organization of the United Social Democrats,’ called ‘Mezhrayontsi’ in brief. – The organization arose in Petrograd during the war and existed until the Sixth Congress of the Bolsheviks in July 1917, when it fused with the Bolshevik party. The organization officially bore an extra-factional character; up to February Revolution it numbered some 200 organized workers; it distributed leaflets and also published two numbers of an illegal periodical, Vperyod [Forward]. In its attitude towards the war, the ‘Mezhrayontsi’ defended an internationalist standpoint and in its tactics it stood close to the Bolsheviks. In the summer of 1917, Trotsky, Lunacharsky, Volodarsky, Uritsky, and others belonged to the ‘Mezhrayontsi’ organization. The conference of the ‘Mezhrayontsi’ at which the question of unification was dealt with took place on May 23 (10), 1917. The Bolshevik Central Committee was represented at the conference by Lenin, Zinoviev and Kamenev. The conference rejected the resolution proposed by Lenin and adopted the Trotsky resolution.”

6. A letter written by Trotsky from Vienna, on April 1, 1913, to N.S. Chkheidze, then chairman of the Menshevik fraction of the Duma, in which Lenin is sharply attacked for what Trotsky considered his divisive activities in the Bolshevik organ, which had been launched by Lenin in that period under a name, Pravda [Truth], similar to the name of the popular revolutionary organ founded shortly before by Trotsky in Vienna. In the same letter, Trotsky warns Chkheidze against the liquidationist tendencies of the (Menshevik) parliamentary organ, Luch [Ray]. As was the case with many, if not moat of the political documents, and even private letters, of that period of intense factional struggle, the language employed by Trotsky in the letter Chkheidze was extremely sharp.

7. Corporal Ermolenko, who was used in the reactionary period of the “July days” in 1917, for the purpose of helping to frame-up Lenin and Trotsky as agents of the Kaiser’s General Staff. Ermolenko testified that the German General Staff had given him a sum of money for its agents, the Ukrainian separatists and Lenin, so that the latter might continue their agitation for the separation of the Ukraine from Russia. Among the other tasks of “Lenin and his followers” as “agents of the General Staff,” according to Ermolenko, were espionage, blowing up bridges, etc. The aim of the whole frame-up, as perpetrated by Kerensky and the Czarist prosecutors and military men who continued to function under the Provisional Government after the February 1917 Revolution, was to discredit the revolutionary Bolshevik leaders as common criminals and paid foieign spies. The whole miserable affair was speedily exposed by the Bolsheviks, but not without the story that Lenin and Trotsky were “German agents” continuing to be disseminated from interested quarters for a long time afterwards. It is interesting to note the similarity in patterns between Kerensky’s frame-up of the Bolsheviks in 1917 and Stalin’s frame-up of Trotsky and other defendants in the Zinoviev-Kamenev-Radek Piatakov trials of 1936-1937.

8. The “Wrangel officer” was an agent introduced by the GPU into the ranks of the Left Opposition towards the end of 1927. In September of that year, the GPU announced that a raid on a number of party members’ homes had revealed the existence of a secret printing press and also of a conspiracy of the Trotskyist Opposition with military men, including a former officer of the army of General Baron Peter Wrangel, for the purpose of over turning the Soviet government. This abominable story acquired wide currency, despite the fact that it was officially established, only a few days after the GPU raids, that the “secret printing press” consisted of a mimeographing machine and a typewriter on which the documents of the Opposition had been copied, and that the “Wrangel officer,” whose name was never made public, had been sent by the GPU as a provocateur to some of the Oppositionists, or more accurately, to men claiming sympathy with the Opposition. For full details of the Wrangel officer frame-up, see The New International, Vol.I No.4, November 1934, p.120ff.

9. The question of the “Pre-Parliament” marked an important stage in the development of the Bolsheviks towards the seizure of power. The “Pre-Parliament,” or Council of the Republic, was set up by the Democratic Conference which came together during the days of the struggle against the Kornilov uprising. The “Pre-Parliament” was conceived by the bourgeois and social demo cratic elements not so much as a preliminary to the Constituent Assembly whose convocation was constantly postponed, and in reality as a substitute for it, but above all for the purpose of distracting attention from the Soviets as instruments of power The Right wing of the Bolsheviks, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Nogin and others, were just as much in favor of Bolshevik participation in the “Pre-Parliament” as they had been of staying in the Demo cratic Conference, which Lenin had urged that the Bolsheviks quit in protest. The Right wing argued that the Bolsheviks should stay in the “Pre-Parliament” as its radical section, just as revolutionists participate in any regular parliamentary body. The Left wing, headed by Lenin and Trotsky (the former still in hiding, the latter openly active), urged the boycott of the “Pre-Parliament” as a final demonstration of the Bolshevik rupture with all forms of bourgeois and coalitionist rule and of their orientation towards the seizure of power by the Soviets. In the meeting of the Bolshevik fraction of the Democratic Conference, Trotsky’s proposal for a boycott was at first voted down. Lenin cordially and vigorously endorsed Trotsky’s position and, under their joint pressure, combined with such instructive events as the growth of Bolshevik influence in the Soviets throughout the coun try, the vote was finally altered and a majority expressed itself for the boycott. On October 28, the Bolsheviks withdrew from the “Pre-Parliament” after the reading of a declaration by Trot sky in their name, and six days later the Petrograd Soviet created the Military Revolutionary Committee which guided the insur rection that took place on November 7, 1917.

10. The “special position” of Kamenev, shared by Zinoviev, and by the Right wing of the Bolshevik party which they represented in the period prior to the Bolshevik insurrection, consisted essentially in opposition to Lenin’s orientation, set forth in the famous April Theses, towards the overthrow of the bourgeois government and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the form of a Soviet republic. Kamenev and Stalin followed a policy of compromise with the bourgeois government prior to Lenin’s return to Russia; Kamenev opposed the April Theses; Kamenev opposed withdrawal from the Democratic Conference and boycott of the “Pre-Parliament”; together with Zinoviev and others, he opposed the November 7 insurrection of the Bolsheviks; finally, with a whole group of other party leaders, he resigned from the Bolshevik government because Lenin and Trotsky carried their proposal to vote down the Right wing demand for the inclusion of all the other Soviet parties (i.e., the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries) in the government.

11. For the full text of the minutes of the November 14, 1917 meeting of the Petrograd Committee, see p.107ff.

12. The records of the March Party Conference are contained in an appendix to this volume, beginning with page 281. The conference started under the political direction of Stalin and Kamenev, and took a position which was sharply condemned by Lenin, who arrived towards the end to present his own position, formulated in what came to be known as the April Theses.

13. The “defensists” or “Oboronstsi” were those who stood for the defense of the fatherland. Specifically, in the situation existing after the overthrow of Czarism and the establishment of the Provisional Govrnment, “defensists” was the name applied to those who, whatever their position may have been on this question dur ing the reign of the Czar, were now in favor of continuing the war against Germany and defending the fatherland on the ground that it was now revolutionary and deserving of defense. The “defensists” included the leaders of the Menshevik and Social Revolutionary Parties, as well as Plekhanov and his small Yedinstvo [Unity] group. Lenin, Trotsky and most of the other Bolsheviks, especially after the return to Russia of these two leaders, called for an end to the war, for peace with Germany ” a general peace if possible and a separate peace otherwise – and were vigorously opposed to any defense of the fatherland under a capitalist government (Lvov or Kerensky) which continued to pursue imperialist aims.

14. In the German Reichstag meeting in December, 1914, at which the second war credit demanded by the government was being considered, Karl Liebknecht finally broke the discipline of the social democratic fraction to which he belonged and voted against the entire Reichstag membership, including the members of his own party. Refusing to cast his vote for the credit demanded, he made a flaming attack upon the government and the war as imperialistic. He was subsequently expelled from the party fraction. Other members, who were also opposed to voting the war credits, nevertheless submitted to the decisions of the patriotic majority and voted with it in the plenary sessions of the Reichstag.

15. Zimmerwald and Kienthal are the two Swiss towns where the most important conferences of the anti-war socialists were held during the World War. The Zimmerwald Conference, in September, 1915, was initiated by the Swiss and Italian Socialist parties, and was attended by their representatives as well as by delegates from other anti-war parties and groups, including the Bolsheviks, who organized the Zimmerwald Left out of the extreme radical section of the conference. The Zimmerwald Manifesto condemned the war as imperialistic on both sides, rejected civil peace and voting for war credits, and called for a struggle against the war and for socialism. The defeated Left wing resolution sharply denounced the social patriots and the International Bureau and called openly for civil war in place of civil peace. The Kienthal Conference, in April, 1916, was a more radical gathering, in which the influence of Lenin and the Left wing showed its growth over that of the Centrists. The International Socialist Bureau was attacked for the first time and the “utopian demands of bourgeois and socialist pacifism” rejected. Lenin continued to urge the formation of a new International. His views on “the lines of Zimmerwald-Kienthal” as a basis for unification of the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, as proposed by Stalin early in 1917, at a time when Lenin was fighting for a break with the Centrists who dominated the Zimmerwald Commission, may be deduced from Lenin’s letter of June 17, 1917, to Karl Radek for the Foreign Bureau of the Central Committee (Vorovsky, Ganetzky, Radek) which was then located in Stockholm: “If it is true that the miserable Grimm, who has become quite confused (we were right in never trusting this ministerial good-for-nothing), has handed over all the Zimmerwald affairs to the Left Swedes, and that the latter are going to convene a Zimmerwald Conference in a few days, then I should like – speaking for myself personally (I write this solely on my own account) – urgently to warn against getting involved in Zimmerwald. ‘It would be a good thing, however, to capture the Zimmerwald International now,’ said Gregory [Zinoviev] today. In my opinion, this is an arch-opportunist and harmful tactic. ‘Capture’ Zimmerwald? This means taking over the dead weight of the Italian Party (the Kautskyans and pacifists), the Swiss Greulich and Co., the American Socialist Party (still worse!), the various Pelusos, the Longuetists and the like. This would mean to throw all our principles overboard, to forget everything that we have written and spoken against the Center, to become entangled and to make ourselves ridiculous. No, if the Left Swedes take Zimmerwald into their hands and if they become desirous of running into error, tben we must submit to them an ultimatum: either they declare, on the first day of the Zimmerwald Conference, Zimmerwald to be dissolved and found the Third International, or we shall go. In this way or another, we must at any price bury the dirty (very “Grimmish”) Zimmerwald and found a real Third International only of Lefts, only against the Kaatskyans. Better a little fish than a big black beetle.” (International Press Correspondence, Vol.XII No.51, p.1107)

16. The Okhrana was the Czarist Secret Police, one of whose principal tasks was the hounding of the revolutionary movements.

17. Rykov, together with Bukharin and Tomsky, was part of the ruling machine at the time Trotsky wrote his letter to the Bureau of Party History. Together with the Stalin faction, this trio carried through the crushing and, finally, the expulsion of the Left Oppositionists in the party. Trotsky was the first, however, to mark off the political line of the Right wing trio from that of the Stalinist bureaucratic Center, and to foretell, years in advance, the break-up of the Right-Center bloc into its constituent parts. The quotation from Lenin against Rykov, which Trotsky refers to here, was only one part of the “ideological preparation” in Stalin’s campaign to liquidate his Right wing allies in the strug gle against “Trotskyism.” Early in 1929, this campaign began to take on flesh and blood and by the end of the year, Rykov had been removed as Chairman of the Council of People’s Commis sars, Tomsky as head of the trade unions, and Bukharin as the head of the Comintern and editor of Pravdaall on charges of being the channels through which the capitalist restoration, i.e., the counter-revolution, was expressing itself in the country. The trio thereupon capitulated to the Stalin machine and continued to capitulate regularly, upon command, until 1936. Then, Tomsky was driven to suicide or was killed for alleged complicity in the alleged assassination plot against Kirov and others (Zinoviev-Kamenev trial); and Rykov and Bukharin were finally arrrested on similar charges.

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