V. I.   Lenin

A Letter to the Zurich Group of Bolsheviks

Published: First published In 1926 In Lenin Miscellany V. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 8, pages 63-65.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs and The Late Isidor Lasker
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2003). 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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Genève, le 18. I. 1905[1]

Dear Comrades,

We are unable to call a meeting of the Editorial Board to answer your inquiry, and I therefore take the liberty of answering you myself. The Zurich group of Bolsheviks asks “what our attitude is to the Central Organ and the Central Commit tee; whether we consider them as existing legitimately but operating illegitimately and are in opposition to them, or whether we refuse to recognise them altogether as Party centres.”

It seems to me that your question savours somewhat of casuistry. The announcement of the newspaper Vperyod[4] and the first issue (“Time to Call a Halt!”[2] ), together with my Statement and Documents,[3] would seem to have answered this question in substance. The leading centres (the Central Organ, the Central Committee, and the Council) have broken with the Party, sabotaged the Second and the Third Congresses, duped the Party in the most brazen way, and usurped their snug jobs in a truly Bonapartist manner. How can one speak here of the legitimate existence of the centres? Is a swindler the legitimate owner of the money he has pocketed on a forged note?

It seems strange to me that the Zurich Bolsheviks should still be puzzled, after this question has been thrashed out again and again. That the centres did not want to submit to the Party has been proved conclusively. Then what are we to   do? Convene the Third Congress? They have deceived us on that score, too. One thing remains—to break with the Mensheviks as completely, as quickly, and as definitely (openly, publicly) as possible, and to convene our own Third Party Congress, without the consent of the central bodies and with out their participation, to begin immediately (without waiting for this centre either) to work with our own Party centres, the Editorial Board of Vperyod, and the Russian Bureau elected by the Northern Conference.

I repeat: the centres have put themselves out side the Party. There is no middle ground; one is either with the centres or with the Party. It is time to draw the line of demarcation and, unlike the Mensheviks, who are splitting the Party secretly, to accept their challenge openly. Yes, a split, for you have gone the whole hog with your splitting. Yes, a split, for we have exhausted all means of delay and of obtaining a Party decision (by a Third Congress). Yes, a split, for everywhere the disgusting squabbles with the disorganisers have only harmed the cause. We have received letters from St. Peters burg saying that things have taken a turn for the better since the split, that one can work without squabbles, with people whom one trusts. Is not this perfectly clear? Down with the Bonapartists and the disorganisers!

Let us know whether you are satisfied with this answer.

It is essential that the groups of the Majority abroad close their ranks. Write about the issue immediately to the Berne comrades (Herrn Kazakow, Bäckereiweg, 1. Bern). They are already at it and will answer you better than I can. We must tackle the matter more energetically. Correspond with all the groups, spur them on in regard to money and material, initiate groups in new places, etc.

We likewise have begun to feel much better since we broke decisively with the Minority. We heartily wish you, too, a speedy riddance of them.

I clasp your hand,


N. Lenin

P.S. Please give my special personal regards to Meyerson. How is he getting on? Does he feel better?

I am angry at Steiner—tell her it’s disgusting; she promised to write about Nikolayev by Christmas, and we’re nearly at the end of January!

The Berne group has undertaken to unite the Bolsheviks abroad, under the leadership of the Bureau, of course. Ask the Berne group for their letter to us on this question and the answer of the Geneva group.


[1] Geneva, January 18, 1905.—Ed.

[2] See pp. 85-39 of this volume.—Ed.

[3] See present edition, Vol. 7, pp. 529-39.—Ed.

[4] Refers to the notice announcing the publication of Vperyod; the announcement was printed in leaflet form, December 1904, by the Bolshevik publishing house of Social-Democratic Party literature in Geneva, headed by V. Bonch-Bruyevich and N. Lenin.

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