V. I. Lenin

Letter To The Petrograd City Conference

Written: October 7 (20), 1917
First Published: 1924, according to a typewritten copy
Source:Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 26, 1972, pp. 145-148
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov and George Hanna, Edited by George Hanna
Transcription & HTML Markup: Charles Farrell and David Walters
Online Version: Lenin Internet Archive November, 2000


To Be Read In Closed Session


Permit me to call the attention of the Conference to the extreme seriousness of the political situation. I base my opinion oil the news in the Saturday morning papers alone. That news, however, compels rue to raise the question in this way.

The absolute inaction of the British fleet in general, and also of British submarines during the occupation of Esel by the Germans, coupled with the government’s plan to move from Petrograd to Moscow—does not all this prove that the Russian and British imperialists, Kerensky and the Anglo-French capitalists, have conspired to surrender Petrograd to the Germans and thus stifle the Russian revolution?

I think it does.

Perhaps there was no direct conspiracy, but an agreement reached through some Kornilovites (Maklakov or other Cadets, “non-party” Russian millionaires, etc.), but this does not in any way change the nature of it.

The conclusion is clear.

We must admit that unless the Kerensky government is overthrown by the proletariat and the soldiers in the near future the revolution is ruined. The question of an uprising is on the order of the day.

We must mobilise all forces to convince the workers and soldiers that it is absolutely imperative to wage a last, desperate and decisive fight for the overthrow of the Kerensky government.

We must appeal to the Moscow comrades, persuade them to seize power in Moscow, declare the Kerensky government deposed, and declare the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies in Moscow the provisional government of Russia in order to offer immediate peace and save Russia from the conspiracy. Let the Moscow comrades raise the question of the uprising in Moscow immediately.

We must use the opportunity offered by the Congress of the Soviets of Soldiers’ Deputies of the Northern Region, called for October 8 in Helsingfors, and mobilise all our forces to win the delegates over for the uprising (as they go back through Petrograd).

We must put the request and proposal to the Central Committee of our Party that it hasten the withdrawal of the Bolsheviks from the Pre-parliament and devote all efforts to exposing to the masses Kerensky’s conspiracy with the imperialists of other countries and to preparing the uprising so that the right moment for it is chosen.

P. S. The resolution of the soldiers’ section of the Petrograd Soviet against moving -the government from Petrograd shows that the soldiers are also becoming more convinced of Kerensky’s conspiracy. We must gather all forces to support this correct conviction and to carry on propaganda among the soldiers.

* * *

I move that the following resolution be adopted:

“The Conference, having discussed the present situation, which is generally admitted to be highly critical, establishes the following facts:

“1. The aggressive operations of the German fleet, accompanied by the very strange inactivity of the British fleet and coupled with the Provisional Government’s plan to move from Petrograd to Moscow, arouse a very strong suspicion that the government of Kerensky (or, what is the same thing, the Russian imperialists behind him) have entered into a conspiracy with the Anglo-French imperialists to surrender Petrograd to the Germans and in this way to suppress the revolution.

“2. These suspicions are greatly strengthened, and are being confirmed, as far as is possible in such cases, by the following:

“First, the conviction has long been growing and- strengthening in the army that it was betrayed by the tsarist generals and is also being betrayed by the generals of Kornilov and Kerensky (particularly in the surrender of Riga);

“Second, the Anglo-French bourgeois press does not conceal its fierce, even frenzied hatred for the Soviets and its readiness to drown them in any quantity of blood;

“Third, Kerensky, the Cadets, Breshkovskaya, Plekhanov and similar politicians are conscious or unconscious tools in the hands of Anglo-French imperialism, as six months’ history of the Russian revolution has proved in full;

“Fourth, the vague but persistent rumours of a separate peace between Britain and Germany at the expense of Russia’ could not have arisen without cause;

“Fifth, all the circumstances of the Kornilov conspiracy, as admitted even by Dyelo Naroda and Izvestia, papers that on the whole sympathise with Kerensky, have proved that Kerensky was to a very large extent mixed up in the Kornilov affair, that Kerensky was and is the most dangerous Kornilovite; Kerensky, in fact, has shielded such leaders of the Kornilov revolt as Rodzyanko, Klembovsky, Maklakov, and others.

“The Conference, therefore, recognises that all the shouting by Kerensky and the bourgeois papers that support him about the defence of Petrograd is sheer deception and hypocrisy, and the soldiers’ section of the Petrograd Soviet was perfectly right when it sharply condemned the plan to move from Petrograd; furthermore, that Petrograd cannot be defended and the revolution saved unless the tired army is absolutely and urgently convinced of the sincerity of the government and is given bread, clothing and footwear at the cost of revolutionary measures against the capitalists, who hitherto have sabotaged the struggle against economic ruin (as admitted even by the Economic Department of the Menshevik-Socialist-Revolutionary Central Executive Committee).

“The Conference therefore declares that only the overthrow of the Kerensky government with its packed Council of the Republic, and the substitution for it of a workers’ and peasants revolutionary government, can ensure:

“(a) the transfer of the land to the peasants instead of suppressing the peasant uprising;

“(b) the offer of an immediate and just peace so that our entire army will believe that truth exists;

“(c) adoption of the most decisive revolutionary measures against the capitalists in order to provide the army with bread, clothing and footwear and in order to fight against economic ruin.

“The Conference urgently requests the Central Committee to take all measures to lead the inevitable uprising of the workers, soldiers and peasants for the overthrow of the anti-popular, feudal Kerensky government.

“The Conference decides on the immediate dispatch of delegations to Helsingfors, Vyborg, Kronstadt and Revel, to the military units south of Petrograd, and also to Moscow, to carry on propaganda in favour of adopting this resolution and in favour of a swift, general uprising and the overthrow of Kerensky as the steps necessary to open the road to peace, to save Petrograd and the revolution, and to give the land to the peasants and power to the Soviets.”