V. I. Lenin

Meeting of the Soldiers’ Section of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies

APRIL 17 (30), 1917{2}

Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 41, pages 404.2-406.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) © 2004 Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.
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Lenin says that he has read the resolution of the Executive Commission and the Committee on his activity and has decided to insert his article on this resolution in Pravda; just now he wishes to reply briefly to the charges being levelled against him. He finds that there are four questions to which he wants to reply: 1) formal question, 2) question of land, 3) of the government, 4) of the war.

On the first question he welcomes the silence of the resolution on his trip across Germany, as it shows that the Commission has taken the standpoint of both sections of the Committee, which say nothing about it. He reads an extract from the resolution: “... considers the propaganda of so-called Leninists, etc.” and declares that he assumes full responsibility for the Leninists’ propaganda. To reply to this charge in the resolution, the three above-mentioned questions must be examined. He goes on to explain these   questions. On the question of land—he favours the transfer of all land to the use of the working masses without redemption; he speaks about the transfer by decision of peasant committees, and refers to Shingaryov’s telegram, which says that the taking away of land is an arbitrary act. That is wrong because it has been done by decision of the village committees, which makes the seizure legal. It is naive to think that the peasants can be influenced by sermons from Petrograd; that is impossible. The question of land will be decided on the spot. The land should be taken over right away, in view of the looming famine. Voluntary agreement with the landowners is an absurdity, you cannot have an agreement between 300 peasant families and one landowner, which is the ratio we now have in European Russia.

(A proposal is motioned to limit the speaker’s time. Statements are made for end against; by a vote the time is limited to 20 minutes.)

Lenin says that if the meeting wishes it, he could alter the time of the explanations, but could also be through within 20 minutes.

On the state structure and administration he says that we need a people’s republic, and not one with officials, capitalists and troops. Soviets of Workers’, Peasants’ and Farm Labourers’ Deputies, from top to bottom, that is the ideal of administration. The people must have the power. On the question of the War he says that he has never spoken about the draft reinforcements and knows nothing of the question at all.{3} That is why lie speaks only about the war. Our government consists only of capitalists, the war is being waged to benefit the capitalists, and the war can be ended only through a revolution by the workers’ masses. The obligations undertaken by our allies are predatory, they deal only with a sharing of the spoils; annexation is connected with capital, and cannot be repudiated until capital is taken over. He holds the capitalists in Germany to be the same as our own capitalists, and says that Wilhelm is a bloodsucker and, of course, there can be no question of a separate peace with him—that is absurd. The capitalists started the war and cannot end it—there is need for a workers’ revolution to end the war. The Leninists are   against any separate peace. They said as much back in 1915. They said that the proletariat, once it takes power, and publishes all the treaties, must offer peace to the whole world.{1} If anyone rejects such peace, the proletariat will start a revolutionary war. Only a revolution by workers in several countries can put an end to the war. Universal peace can be achieved only through a workers’ revolution. The practical method of ending the war is fraternisation at the front, and strengthening the power of the Soviet of Workers’, Peasants’ and Farm Labourers’ Deputies. That is the only way to bring about the workers’ revolution and universal peace.



1) The reconquest of Kurland is annexation, because in that case Germany is entitled to reconquer her colonies. The people must be left to decide for themselves how they want to live. In the capitalist world the sharing out is according to strength—the stronger get more. It is not worth while fighting over Kurland, but it is worth while fighting for Kurland’s freedom to decide whom she wants to join.

2) On the seizure of banks and money. He urges that the seizures should not be arbitrary but by decision of the majority. (Shouts from the audience: “Your doctrine leads to a primitive state”.)—No! (Question: “What is to be done if other countries want peace?”)—Advance of the workers’ revolution and fraternisation at the front.

Tactics—we must see how life goes forward. The experience of life is the best thing. We must develop the Russian revolution in such a way that the workers’, peasants’ and farm labourers’ deputies have the power. (Another question: “Is that what you preached in Germany?”)—We, that is, Zinoviev and I, published a pamphlet{4} abroad, in which we said precisely what we are saying now; we published it in German and the German socialists circulated it in Germany.

First published in full in 1982 in Vol. 31 of the Fifth Russian edition of the Collected Works Printed front a typewritten copy of the minutes


{1} See present edition, Vol. 21, p. 403.—Ed.

{2} Arriving at a meeting of the soldiers’ section of the Soviet of Workers and Soldiers’ Deputies on April 17 (30), Lenin requested the floor to make an urgent statement over the publication in the newspapers on April 16 (29) of the resolution of the Executive Commission of the soldiers’ section which condemned the “propaganda of the Leninists” as being just as harmful as “any other counter-revolutionary propaganda from the right” (see present edition, Vol. 24, p. 172). As he was speaking the Menshevik-S.R. majority, against the protests of the minority, got it dine limited to 30 minutes. When Lenin finished speaking, he replied to questions from the meeting and then to those of the soldiers who surrounded him in a room at the exit of the Taurida Palace.

After Lenin’s speech and objections to it from the Menshevik Lieber, the soldiers’ section decided to proceed with its business, without making any statement on the substance of the question.

Lenin’s speech was published in a distorted version in Rech and Yedinstvo. It is here published in accordance with the minutes now at the Central Party Archives of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the C.P.S.U. Central Committee. p. 404

{3} A reference to the dispatch to the front of units from the Petrograd garrison, against which workers and soldiers protested, seeing this as the Provisional Government’s attempt to weaken the revolutionary population of the capital and violate the condition put forward by the Executive Committee when the provisional Government was formed on the night of March 1 (14), that the garrison units which had taken part in overthrowing the autocracy were not to be withdrawn from Petrograd. p. 405

{4} A reference to the work Socialism and War (see present edition, Vol. 21, pp. 295–338). p. 406

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