Vladimir Lenin

Speech At A Meeting Of The

Warsaw Revolutionary Regiment

August 2, 1918[1]

Newspaper Report

Written: 2 August, 1918.
First Published:3 August in Vecherniye Izvesta Moskorskovo Soveto No. 15; Published according to the newspaper text
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 28, 1965, pages 37-39
Translated (and edited): Jim Riordan
Transcription/HTML Markup: David Walters
Online Version: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive, 2002

(Comrade Lenin’s appearance In the hail is greeted with enthusiastic applause and the “Internationale".) We Polish and Russian revolutionaries are now burning with one desire to do everything to defend the gains of the first mighty socialist revolution, which will inevitably be followed by a series of revolutions in other countries. Our difficulty is that we had to take action much earlier than the workers of the more cultured, more civilised countries.

The world war was caused by the forces of international capital, of two coalitions of vultures. For four years the world has been drenched in blood in order to settle which of these two rapacious imperialist groups shall rule the globe. We feel and sense that this criminal war cannot end in victory for either of them. It is becoming clearer every day that a victorious workers’ revolution, not the imperialists, can end it. And the worse the position of the workers now becomes in all countries, and the more ferociously proletarian free speech is persecuted, the more desperate the bourgeoisie get, for they cannot cope with the growing movement. We have for a time forged ahead of the main body of the socialist army, which is full of hope as it watches us and says to its bourgeoisie: however much you rant and rage, we shall follow the Russian example and do what the Russian Bolsheviks have done.

We wanted peace. It was just because Soviet Russia proposed peace to the whole world that in February German troops attacked us. Now, however, we see with our own eyes that one imperialism is no better than the other. Both of them have lied, and lie now when they say they are waging a war of liberation. Anglo-French capital is showing itself up just as robber Germany once did with the utterly shameful Brest Peace. The British and French are now making their last bid to draw us into the war. For fifteen million, through generals and other officers, they have now bought new lackeys, the Czechs, so as to involve them in the rash adventure and turn the Czechoslovak revolt into a whiteguard-landlord movement. And strange to say, all this is apparently being done to “defend” Russia. The “freedomloving” and “fair” British oppress a]] and sundry, seize Murmansk, British cruisers come right lip to Archangel and bombard the coastal batteries—all to “defend” Russia. Quite obviously they want to encircle Russia in a ring of imperialist plunderers and crush her for having exposed and torn up their secret treaties.

Our revolution has resulted in the workers of Britain and France indicting heir governments. To Britain, where civil peace has prevailed and where the workers’ resistance to socialism has been strongest, for they too have had a hand in plundering the colonies, the workers are now veering round and breaking the civil peace with the bourgeoisie.

The workers of France are condemning the policy of intervention in Russia’s affairs. That is why the capitalists of those countries are staking everything they have.

The fact of Soviet Russia’s existence and vitality is driving them mad.

We know the war is coming to an end; we know they cannot finish it; we know we have a reliable ally. We must therefore exert all our energy and make a last effort. Either the rule of the proletariat or the rule of the kulaks, capitalists and the tsar, as was the case in the unsuccessful revolutions in the West. As you go to the front you must remember above all that this war alone, the war of the oppressed and exploited against the violators and plunderers, is legitimate, just and sacred.

An alliance is coming into being between the revolutionaries of different nations’something that the finest people have dreamt of; a real alliance of workers, and not intellectual dreamers.

The guarantee of victory lies in overcoming national hatred and mistrust.

It is your great privilege to uphold sacred ideas arms in hand, and to make international brotherhood of nations a reality by fighting together with your front-line enemies of yesterday—Germans, Austrians and Magyars.

And, comrades, I am confident that if you muster all your military forces and set up a mighty international Red Army, and hurl these iron battalions against the exploiters and oppressors, against the reactionary thugs of the whole world, making your battle cry “Victory or Death!”—no imperialist force will be able to hold us! (Lenin’s concluding words are drowned in prolonged and stormy applause.)


[1] The Warsaw revolutionary regiment was formed from Polish volunteers and numbered 16,000 men. On many occasions it took art i the fight against whiteguard troops. On August 2, 1918, on the eve of departure for the ront, a regimental meeting addressed by Lenin was held at the former Commerical Institute in Moscow (now the Plekhanov Institute of the National Economy). The meeting was organised, among others, by Julian Marchlewski, a prominent figure in the Polish working-class movment.