V. I.   Lenin

The Slogan of Civil War Illustrated

Published: Sotsial-Demokra No. 40, March 29, 1915. Published according to the text in Sotsial-Demokrat.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [197[4]], Moscow, Volume 21, pages 181-182.
Transcription\Markup: D. Walters and R. Cymbala
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On January 8 (New Style), Swiss papers received the following message from Berlin: “Of late the press has repeatedly carried reports of peaceable attempts made by men in the German and French trenches to enter into friendly relations. According to Tägliche Rundschau,[1] an army order dated December 29 bans any fraternisation and any kind of intercourse with the enemy in the trenches. Disregard of this order is punishable as high treason.”

Thus, fraternisation and attempts to enter into friendly relations with the enemy are a fact. The German military authorities are showing concern over the matter, which means that they attach considerable importance to it. The British Labour Leader of January 7, 1915, published a series of quotations from the British bourgeois press on instances of fraternisation between British and German soldiers, who arranged a “forty-eight-hour truce” at Christmas, met amicably in no-man’s land, and so on. The British military authorities issued a special order forbidding fraternisation. And yet, with the utmost complacency and the comfortable feeling that the military censorship will protect them against any denials, the socialist opportunists and their viridicators (or lackeys?) have assured the workers, through the press (as Kautsky has done), that no understanding on. anti-war action by the socialists of the belligerent countries is possible (the expression literally used by Kautsky in Die Neue Zeit )!

Try to imagine Hyndman, Guesde, Vandervelde, Plekhanov, Kautsky and the rest—instead of aiding the bourgeoisie (something they are now engaged in)—forming an international committee to agitate for “fraternisation and attempts   to establish friendly relations” between the socialists of the belligerent countries, both in the “trenches” and among the troops in general. What would the results be several months from now, if today, only six months after the outbreak of the war and despite all the political bosses, leaders and luminaries who have betrayed socialism, opposition is mounting on all sides against those who have voted for war credits and those who have accepted ministerial jobs, and the military authorities are threatening that “fraternisatiosi” carries the death sentence?

There is only one practical issue—victory or defeat for one’s country”, Kautsky, lackey of the opportunists, has written, in concord with Guesde, Plekhanov and Co. Indeed, if one were to forget socialism and the class struggle, that would be the truth. However, if one does not lose sight of socialism, that is untrue. Then there is another practical issue: should we perish as blind and helpless slaves, in a war between slave-holders, or should we fall in “attempts at fraternisation” between the slaves, with the aim of casting off slavery?

Such, in reality, is the “practical” issue.


[1] Tägliche Runclschau (Daily Review)— a daily of a bourgeois nationalist trend, published in Berlin from October 1880 onwards. In 1922 it was sold to Deutsche A ilgemeine-Zeitung. From December 1924 to 1928 it appeared under the name of Neue Tägliche Runclschau. It ceased publication in 1933.

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