V. I.   Lenin




Letter to the German Trio

Written: Written in February-early March 1910 in Paris
Published: First published in 1933. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1974, Moscow, Volume 34, pages 411-413.
Translated: Clemens Dutt
Transcription\Markup: D. Moros
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2005). 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.

To explain the at first glance strange proposal and re quest which we and the C.C. are addressing to you, we must clarify the situation in our Party.

To understand this situation, one must have a clear idea, firstly, of the violent nature of the counter-revolution and the appalling chaos in the Social-Democratic organisation and Social-Democratic work; and, secondly, of the basic ideological and political trends in our Party.

On the first question, it is sufficient to note the tremendous decline among the organisations everywhere, almost their cessation in many localities. The wholesale flight of the intelligentsia. All that is left are workers’ circles and isolated individuals. The young, inexperienced worker is making his way forward with difficulty.

On the second question. There were two trends among the Social-Democrats in the revolution (and two factions, tatsächlich Spaltung[1] ): the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks. Stockholm 1906 and London 1907.[5] An opportunist and a revolutionary wing.

The 1907-08 break-down gave rise (α) among the Mensheviks—to liquidationism (definition), (β) among the Bolsheviks—to otzovizm (and ultimatumism). Definition.

(α) Beginning with March 1908, the Mensheviks took absolutely no part in the central work of the Party and even tried to disrupt it (August 1908). Abroad they predominate (students, immature bourgeois intellectuals, etc.). A wide-open split abroad (thanks to the Mensheviks) and   their complete non-participation in Party work, plus a struggle against the Party.

The conference of December 1908 brands this.[6]

(β) Otzovism-ultimatumism among the Bolsheviks in 1908-09. The Bolsheviks’ resolute struggle against it and Kaltstellung[2] of the otzovists and ultimatumists. Removal.

Chaos in Russia increasing.

Plekhanov’s statement, August 1909 (”What Can We Do for You?”[7] , the liquidationism of Golos; liquidationism declared to be petty-bourgeois opportunism; acknowledgement of the crisis in the Party [frightful disease I; resignation from the editorial board of the Social Movement which had taken refuge in a b\:urgerlich-liberalen Verlag[3] ).

The significance of Plekhanov’s statement=a feeble echo, the confirmation by a factional enemy of the Bolsheviks of all their accusations.

The gravitation of the Mensheviks in Russia towards the Party (particularly in the case of workers: St. Petersburg, Moscow).

Experience of Party unity on this basis, on the recognition of the struggle on two fronts: against liquidatlonism and against otzovism-ultimatumism.

Conditions for unity on our part: unconditional recognition of the struggle against liquidationism (half-measure of the C.C.: a personal concession); cessation of factional struggle (=of the split abroad in particular) and loyal subordination to the majority of the Party (Bolsheviks+Poles in particular), which extricated the Party from the 1907-09 crisis and set it on the path of a resolute struggle on two fronts.

Conditions of the Mensheviks: concealment of a clear definition of liquidationism (half-measure in the unanimous resolution) and equality on the editorial board of the Central Organ (virtually the leading Party body in view of the extreme weakness and instability of the C.C. in Russia).

In the C.C. an extremely unstable compromise is effected 1) a unanimous resolution deleting the name liquidation-   ism[8] 2) three and two in the C.O., in circumstances of the Menshevik declaration about “mechanical suppression”, “a state of siege”, etc.; 3) refusal of the Mensheviks resolutely, clearly and irrevocably to renounce their factional newspaper and factional organisation, and to recognise loyal subordination to the Majority.

Hence our fears. Having dissolved the Bolshevik faction and handed over the money to the C.C. (actually 5 powers in circumstances of an accidental and wavering majority, marred by otzovism-ultimatumism), we fear (have every ground for fearing) a split of the Mensheviks abroad and their dragging in of liquidationism (in the shape of equality on the editorial board).

We are convinced that in view of attempts at a split, organised from abroad by the Mensheviks, the C.C. (i.e., the Bolsheviks+the nationals) will not be strong enough to combat liquidationism, and we will have to resume the factional struggle, reply to the split by a split.

The experience of the “truce”: the Bolsheviks have die— armed. The experience of the “Party way of life”,

The conditions to be put to the Mensheviks: (α) complete disarmament—cessation of, the factional newspaper, the factional funds, the factional split abroad; (β) loyal implementation of the resolution on the struggle against liquidationism; (γ) loyal subordination to the majority in the C.O.; (δ) loyal assistance to the C.C. in Russia.

Si non—non!

The flirting of the Mensheviks with the otzovists-ultimatumists. Trotsky’s impotence and connivance in regard to the liquidators.


[1] An actual split.—Ed.

[2] Removal.—Ed.

[3] Bourgeois-liberal publishing house.—Ed.

[4] This document is the draft of a letter of Lenin’s to Karl Kautsky, Franz Mehring and Clara Zetkin, the “trustees”, to whom the funds of the Bolshevik section of the Party were handed over in accordance with the decision of the January 1910 Plenum of the C.C. of the R.S.D.L.P. Details of this will be found in Lenin’s article “The Results of the Arbitration of the ’Trustees‘”^^(see Vol. 17, pp. 365–67, of this edition)^^.

[5] Lenin is referring to the Fourth (Unity) Congress of the R.S.D.L.P.   held in Stockholm on April 10–25 (April 23–May 8), 1906, and the Fifth (London) Congress held on April 30–May 19 (May 13–June 1), 1907.

[6] Lenin refers to the Fifth (All-Russia) Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. which condemned liquidationism.

[7] A phrase used by Plekhanov and addressed to the newspaper of the Menshevik liquidators Golos Sotsial-Demokrata (Voice of a Social-Democrat).

[8] Lenin here refers to the resolution “The State of Affairs in the Party” adopted by the Plenum of the C.C. of the R.S.D.L.P. in January 1910. A critical analysis of this resolution is given by Lenin in his article “Notes of a Publicist”^^(see Vol. 16 of this edition)^^.

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