Natalia Sedova Trotsky
Written:July 31, 1945
Source: Fourth International, August 1945
Online Version: Natalia Sedova Internet Archive, March 2005
Transcribed/HTML Markup: Mike Bessler
I was deeply touched and gratified by your communication informing me of the projected publication of the August [and September] issues of the Fourth International, devoted wholly to the founding and building of the World Party of the Socialist Revolution, the Fourth International. After all, the latter stems from the Third International, which took its origin, March 1919, in the storms and stresses of the October Revolution, amid the fires of the Civil War.
Inspired by the idea and ideal of the revolutionary Inter. national, the European delegates faced the greatest hardships and gravest risks in order to make the journey, illegally, to the founding Congress at Moscow. The number of delegates was 51, but some of them never reached their destination, being intercepted and arrested en route. The Congress concluded its work with a summons to work indefatigably and to support the Socialist revolution, then fighting for its life.
The fundamental problems connected with the preparation of this First International Communist Congress were broached and elaborated jointly by Lenin and Trotsky. Those were the burning days, when every minute counted and could not be lost. More than once Lenin and Trotsky would exchange views and arrive at agreement by telephone, catching what each other meant even if words were only half-spoken. On occasion L.D. would hasten to Lenin for more prolonged discussions. They worked together energetically, enthusiastically, with assurance and with joy. Both of them remained cheerful. At the following three world congresses of the Communist International, the main reports were likewise assigned to these two leaders who worked in complete harmony and amity.
Contrary to the contemptible slanders of the epigones there was a complete reciprocity and friendly feeling between Lenin and Trotsky. In attesting this, special weight attaches to an extraordinary document which Lenin gave to Trotsky during the Civil War, in a period when sharp differences occurred in the party over the military questions. This document consisted of a blank sheet of paper, at the bottom of which was Lenin's signature accompanied by the following lines:
Comrades, knowing the harsh character of Comrade Trotsky's orders,
I am so convinced, so absolutely convinced, of the correctness, expedience and necessity for the good of our cause, of the orders issued
by Comrade Trotsky, that I give them my full support.
V. Ulianov (Lenin).
Handing this document to L.D., Lenin said: "I give you this blank and I will give you as many of them as you want." Could there, possibly be an expression of greater moral confidence in human relationships? (Incidentally, LD. never made use of this document.)
Their relationship was based on a profound and perfect mutual understanding, whence came Lenin's boundless confidence, admiration and the Leninist love of L,D. which radiated from the perspicacious and shrewdly laughing eyes of Lenin in such days as the Brest-Litovsk negotiations, or in the days of the defense of Petrograd against Yudenich, or on occasion of victories at the civil war fronts.
At each of my fleeting meetings with M. I. Ulianova (Lenin's sister) and Krupskaya (Lenin's wife), they would both express their rapture over the successes of Lev Davidovich. A few days after the death of Lenin, Krupskaya wrote L.D.:
The attitude of V. I. [Lenin] toward you at the time when you
came to us in London from Siberia has not changed until his death.
I wish you, Lev Davidovich, strength and health, and I embrace you
There were occasions, during LD.'s stay at the civil war fronts, when Lenin would chance to meet me and he never failed to inquire about L.D.'s health, his state of mind and the topic and tenor of his letters to me.
Despite the gravity of the general situation and the endless succession of difficulties, Lenin remained vigorous and in high spirits. He knew what he was doing. The general situation was onerous, but there was something out of ordinary in every phase of it, something that aroused, uplifted, something that smacked of holidays, notwithstanding the starvation, the tattered clothes, the black bread, cabbage soup and kasha in the Kremlin dining room. How little does all this resemble the Kremlin of today! L.D.'s reports on the situation at the front invariably raised the spirits, spreading conviction and joy, carrying with them the promise of victory. Assurance would permeate the huge and jammed ball.
You and I, all of us, are living through the pangs that precede the death of an obsolete social system. The bourgeoisie is loath to die, though it has long accomplished everything historically attainable to it. In the struggle between two worlds, the one in its decline, the other in its ascendancy, the hour of decision has come. The old world does not flinch at resorting to any measure in order to tarry a little longer on the historical arena; and it is receiving assistance from the counter-revolutionary Kremlin bureaucracy, spangled with medals, orders, and heaviest gold braid after the fashion of Czarist times. As guard and guardian of the covenants of its great predecessor, it is the task of the Fourth International to bring about the restoration of the October Kremlin; its task is to regenerate the revolutionary world labor movement and to achieve the victory of Socialism.
In these days when the names of the great revolutionists have been expunged from the columns of the world press, your initiative in publishing the First Five Years of the Communist International merits the warmest appreciation.
With all my heart I wish you success
Natalia Sedov Trotsky