V. I.   Lenin

Open Letter to the Editorial Board of the Leipziger Volkszeitung[2]

Written: Written after June 12 (25), 1905
Published: First published in 1931 in Lenin Miscellany XVI. Published according to the manuscript. Translated from the German.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 8, pages 531-533.
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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Dear Comrades,

In issue No. 135 of the Leipziger Volkszeitung Comrade Karl Kautsky writes on the split in the Russian Social-Democracy. We feel compelled to ask that you publish our reply to Kautsky’s attacks and to allow us to refute the factual inaccuracies which his article contains. We shall be brief.

Kautsky says that “the German edition of the resolutions adopted at the recent Russian Congress could not have appeared at a more inopportune moment”, that the resolutions “will give most readers a totally false picture of the relations that exist in the Russian Social-Democracy”. Kautsky goes so far as to propose to the German comrades that they should not make these resolutions public.

We take the liberty of pointing out that nothing could give our German comrades a better idea of the relations within the Russian Social-Democracy than the original resolutions of the Third Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, as well as the resolutions of the “conference” held by the new-Iskrists.

We declare that Kautsky is making a great mistake in writing on matters of which, at best, he knows only by hear say, and that his picture of the relations that exist in the Russian Social-Democracy is a highly distorted one. It is utterly ridiculous, for instance, to hear Kautsky suggest that “the resolutions [of the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P.] may have lost their significance at the   present moment even for those who drafted[1] them”. Many unity negotiations between us and the new-Iskrists have been held in the course of the past two or three months, hut the outcome of these negotiations so far has amounted to nothing.

We strongly protest against the attempt to silence us in the German Social-Democratic press by means of such a crude, mechanical, and unheard-of method as boycotting a pamphlet which contains only a translation of the resolutions of the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. and which was issued by the Munich Party publishing house of the Social-Democratic Labour Party of Germany (G. Birk & Co.). Kautsky has no right to speak about his impartiality. He has always been partial as regards the present struggle with in the Russian Social-Democracy. This is his right, of course. But one who is partial would do better not to speak too much of impartiality, if he does not want to be accused of hypocrisy.

Kautsky tries to make out that all the resolutions of the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. are “attacks by Lenin and his friends against Plekhanov and his friends”. We have three brief remarks to make on this score. In the first place, only four of the seventeen resolutions directly or indirectly touch on our opponents within the R.S.D.L.P. Secondly, Plekhanov has now retired from the Editorial Board of Iskra (see Iskra, No. 101). This shows how little Kautsky understands our relations. Thirdly, we would ask the German comrades to consider the impression that is likely to be created on the Russian Social-Democrats when a man with Kautsky’s authority tries to discredit the work of an entire Party Congress by “representing” it as “attacks by Lenin and his friends”. What would people in Germany think of men who (without having read the record of the proceedings) presumed to represent the deliberations, say, of the Dresden Party Congress as an attack by Kautsky and his friends...?

A word of warning to all the German Social-Democrats: Comrades! If you really consider the R.S.D.L.P. to be a fraternal party, do not believe a word of what the so-called impartial Germans tell you about our split. Insist on seeing   the documents, the authentic documents. And do not forget that prejudice is further from the truth than ignorance.

With Social-Democratic greetings,

The Editorial Board of the Central Organ (“Proletary”) of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party

P.S. The French socialists’ idea of impartiality differs from that of the Germans. Their Central Organ Le Socialiste has just published a translation of the resolutions of the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. in a special supplement.


[1] Misprinted “hated” in the Leipziger Volkszettung.—Lenin

[2] “Open Letter to the Editorial Board of the ’Leipsiger Volkszeitung’\thinspace" was written by Lenin in answer to an article by Kautsky, “The Split in Russian Social-Democracy”, published in the Leipsiger Volkszeitung. In a letter to the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. dated June 29 (July 12) Lenin wrote in regard to Kautsky’s article: “Kautsky has published a mean article on the German edition of the ’Report’\thinspace", that is, the Report on the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. Lenin’s “Open Letter” was not published by the news paper.

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