V. I.   Lenin


To:   J. S. HANECKI[4]

Published: First published in 1921 in Proletarskaya Revolutsia No. 2. Sent from Zurich to Stockholm. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1976], Moscow, Volume 35, pages 308-313.
Translated: Andrew Rothstein
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive.   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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March 30, 1917

Dear Comrade,

I thank you with all my heart for the trouble you are taking and for your help. I cannot, of course, make use of the services of people who are connected with the publisher of Die Glocke.[5] I cabled you today that the only hope of breaking out of here is by an exchange of emigrants in Switzerland for German internees. Britain will on no account let me through, or any internationalists at all, neither Martov and his friends nor Natanson and his friends. The British sent Chernov back to France, although he had all his papers for transit!! It is clear that the Russian proletarian revolution has no more malignant enemy than the British imperialists. It is clear that Milyukov (and Co.), agents of Anglo-French imperialist capital, and Russian imperialists themselves, are capable of everything—deception, treachery, and everything else—in order to prevent the internationalists returning to Russia. The least confidence in this respect either in Milyukov or in Kerensky (an empty chatterer, an agent of the Russian imperialist bourgeoisie in his objective role) would be simply ruinous for the working-class movement and for our Party, and would border on betrayal of internationalism. The only—without exaggeration, the only—hope for us to get to Russia is to send as soon as possible a reliable person to Russia, to secure from the government, by pressure from the “Soviet of Workers’ Deputies”, an exchange of all the emigrants in Switzerland for interned Germans. It is necessary to act with the maximum   energy, making a record of every step, not sparing expense on telegrams, and collecting documents against Milyukov and Co., who are capable of dragging matters out, feeding us with promises, swindling, etc. You can imagine what torture it is for all of us to be sitting here at such a time.

Furthermore, the dispatch of a reliable person to Russia is still more necessary for reasons of principle. The latest information in the foreign press gives clearer and clearer indications that the government, with the direct help of Kerensky and thanks to the (putting it mildly) unforgivable wobblings of Chkheidze, is swindling—and swindling not without success—the working class, representing the imperialist war as a “defensive” one. Judging from the telegram of the St. Petersburg Telegraph Agency of March 30, 1917, Chkheidze has allowed himself to be completely deceived by this slogan, adopted also by the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies—if this source, generally unreliable of course, is to be believed. At all events, even if the report is untrue, the danger of such a deception is all the same undoubtedly vast. All the efforts of our Party must be concentrated on fighting it. Our Party would disgrace itself for ever, commit political suicide, if it tolerated such a deception. To judge from one report, Muranov returned from Kronstadt together with Skobelev. If Muranov went there on behalf of the Provisional Government of the Guchkovs and Milyukovs, I very much ask you to pass on (through someone reliable), and to print, that I absolutely condemn this, that any rapprochement with those who are wobbling in the direction of social-patriotism and have taken up the profoundly mistaken, profoundly harmful social-pacifist, Kautskian, position of Chkheidze and Co. is, I am deeply convinced, harmful for the working class, dangerous, inadmissible.

I hope you have received my “Letters from Afar” Nos. 1–4,[1] in which I developed the theoretical and political foundation for these views. If these letters have been lost, or did not reach Petrograd, please cable me, and I will send you copies.

There is no doubt that in the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies there are numerous, even, it seems, a majority of (1) supporters of Kerensky, a most dangerous agent of the imperialist bourgeoisie, pursuing imperialism, i.e., the defence and justification of a plundering war of conquest on Russia’s part, under cover of an ocean of sounding phrases and empty promises, (2) supporters of Chkheidze, who is wobbling hopelessly in the direction of social-patriotism and sharing all (he philistinism and stupidity of Kautskianism. Our Party is obliged to carry on the most stubborn, the most highly principled, the most pressing and most merciless struggle against both currents. And I personally will not hesitate for a second to declare, and to declare in print, that I shall prefer even an immediate split with anyone in our Party, whoever it may be, to making concessions to the social-patriotism of Kerensky and Co. or the social-pacifism and Kautskianism of Chkheidze and Co.

I must at all costs demand the republication in Petrograd —if only under the title: From the History of the Last Years of Tsarism—of the Sotsial-Demokrat published here, of the pamphlet by Lenin and Zinoviev on the war and socialism,[6] of Kommunist and Sbornik Sotsial-Demokrata. But most of all, and first of all, the theses in No. 47 of Sotsial-Demokrat (of October 13, 1915).[2] These theses are now exceptionally important.

These theses say directly, clearly, precisely how we should act in a revolution in Russia, and they do it 1 1/2 years before the revolution.

These theses have boon remarkably, literally confirmed by the revolution.

The war has not ceased, and cannot cease, to be imperialist on the part of Russia, so long as (1) the landowners and capitalists, representatives of the bourgeois class, are in power; (2) so long as such direct agents and servants of that bourgeoisie as Kerensky and the other social-patriots are in power; (3) so long as the treaties between tsarism and the Anglo-French imperialists remain in force (the Guchkov– Milyukov government has openly declared abroad—I don’t   know whether it has done so in Russia—that it is loyal to these treaties). They are robber treaties, for the seizure of Galicia, Armenia, Constantinople, etc., etc.; (4) so long as these treaties have not been published and not annulled; (5) so long as the whole alliance between Russia and the Anglo-French bourgeois, imperialist governments has not been broken off altogether; (6) so long as state power in Russia has not passed from the imperialist bourgeoisie (mere promises and “pacifist” declarations, however much the stupid Kautsky, Chkheidze and Co. believe in them, do not transform the bourgeoisie into a non-bourgeoisie) into the hands of the proletariat, which alone is capable, on condition that it is supported by the poorer section of the peasantry, of breaking not merely in words but in deeds with the interests of capital, with imperialist policy, with the plundering of other countries, of emancipating the peoples oppressed by the Great Russians completely, withdrawing the troops from Armenia and Galicia at once, etc.; (7) only the proletariat is capable, if it rids itself of the influence of its national bourgeoisie, of winning the genuine confidence of the proletarians of all the belligerent countries, and entering into peace negotiations with them; (8) these proletarian peace terms are set forth precisely and clearly both in No 47 of Sotsial– Demokrat and in my letter No. 4.

Hence it is clear that the watchword: “We are now defending the Republic in Russia, we are now carrying on a ‘ defensive war’, we shall fight Wilhelm, we are lighting for the overthrow of Wilhelm” is the greatest deception, the greatest swindling of the workers!! For Guchkov-Lvov-Milyukov and Co. are landowners and capitalists, representatives of the class of landowners and capitalists, imperialists who are fighting for the same robber ends, on the basis of the same robber treaties concluded by tsarism, in alliance with the same imperialist robber bourgeoisie of Britain, France and Italy.

The appeal to the Germans by the bourgeois and imperialist republic in Russia—“Overthrow Wilhelm”—is a repetition of the lying slogan of the French social– chauvinists, traitors to socialism, Jules Guesde, Sembat and Co.

In a very popular way, very clearly, without learned words, it must be explained to the workers and soldiers that it is   not only Wilhelm who has to be overthrown, but also the kings of Great Britain and Italy. That is first of all. And secondly, and most important, the bourgeois governments must be overthrown, beginning with Russia—for otherwise peace cannot be won. It may be that we cannot immediately “overthrow” the government of Guchkov-Milyukov. That may be so. But that is not an argument for telling an untruth!! The workers must be told the truth. We have to say that the government of Guchkov-Milyukov and Co. is an imperialist government, that the workers and peasants must first of all (now or after elections to the Constituent Assembly, if it is not used to deceive the people, if the elections are not postponed until after the war—the question of choice of moment cannot be decided from here), first of all must transfer all state power into the hands of the working class, the enemy of capital, the enemy of imperialist war, and only then will they have the right to appeal for the overthrow of all kings and all bourgeois governments.

For God’s sake try and deliver all this to Petrograd and to Pravda, to Muranov and Kamenev and the others. For God’s sake make every effort to send this with a most reliable person. It would be best of all if a reliable sensible chap like Kuba went (he would perform a great service to the whole world working-class movement) and helped our friends in Petrograd!! I hope you will do this!! Do everything in your power.

Conditions in Petrograd are exceptionally difficult. The republican patriots are straining every effort. They are trying to drown our Party in slander and dirt (the Chernomazov “affair”: I am sending a document about it[3] ), etc., etc.

There cannot be any confidence in Chkheidze and Co., or Sukhanov or Steklov and the like. No rapprochement with other parties, any of them! Not a shadow of confidence in or support for the government of Guchkov-Milyukov and Co.!! The most irreconcilable propaganda of internationalism and of struggle with republican chauvinism and social– chauvinism everywhere, both in the press and within the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies: the organisation of our Party: this is   the essential. Kamenev must realise that he bears a world– historic responsibility.[7]

Don’t grudge money on communications between Stockholm and Petrograd!!

I beg you very much, dear comrade, to cable me on receipt of this letter, and generally to keep me au courant in every respect. I hope the Swedish friends will also help in this.

All the best.



[1] See present edition, Vol. 23, pp. 295–342.—Ed.

[2] Reference is to Lenin’s article “Several Theses” (see present edition, Vol. 21, pp. 401–04).—Ed.

[3] Reference is to Lenin’s article “Tricks of the Republican Chauvinists” (see present edition, Vol. 23, pp. 362–64).—Ed.

[4] Hanecki, J. S. (1879–1937)—prominent figure in the Polish and Russian revolutionary movements; in 1917, a member of the Bureau Abroad of the C.C. of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.). After the bourgeois democratic revolution of February 1917 he took up residence in Stockholm.

[5] Die Glocke (The Bell)—fortnightly magazine published in Munich and from 1915 to 1925 in Berlin, by Parvus (Helfand), a member of the German Social-Democratic Party, social-chauvinist, and agent of the German imperialists.

[6] The pamphlet Socialism and War (The Attitude of the R.S.D.L.P. Towards the War) was published on the eve of the Zimmerwald Conference and distributed to the delegates.

In 1918 it was republished by the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Red Army Deputies (see present edition, Vol. 21, pp. 295–338).

[7] Lenin stresses the responsibility borne by Kamenev because Kamenev, who had returned to Petrograd from exile on March 12 1917, had become one of the editors of Pravda and a representative of the Bolshevik Party in the Petrograd Soviet.

Kamenev, however, adopted a semi-Menshevik position on certain vital aspects of Party policy. In articles published in Pravda he argued that the Bolsheviks should give the Provisional Government conditional support, while exerting pressure to make it open peace negotiations at once. In his assessment of the war Kamenev leaned towards defencism. Kamenev’s position was sharply criticised by Lenin in his pamphlet Letters on Tactics (see present edition, Vol. 24, pp. 42–54).

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