V. I.   Lenin


Published: First published in 1922 in N. Lenin (V. Ulyanov), Sobraniye Sochinenii (Collected Works), Vol. XV. Printed from the manuscript minutes.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 36, pages 479-481.
Translated: Andrew Rothstein
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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Comrade Lenin believes that the policy of revolutionary phrases is at an end. If this policy is continued, he will resign both from the government and from the Central Committee. An army is needed for a revolutionary war, and it does not exist. That means the terms must be accepted.


Comrade Lenin. Some have reproached me for coming out with an ultimatum. I put it as a last resort. It is a mockery for our Central Committee members to talk of an international civil war. There is a civil war in Russia, but not in Germany. Our agitation remains. We are agitating not by words, but by the revolution. That too remains. Stalin is wrong when he says that we need not sign. These terms must be signed. If you don’t sign them, you will sign the Soviet power’s death warrant within three weeks. These terms do not infringe on the Soviet power. I have not the slightest hesitation. I put the ultimatum not in order to withdraw it. I don’t want revolutionary phrases. The German revolution has not yet matured. This will take months. The terms must be accepted. If there is another ultimatum later, it will be in a new situation.



Comrade Lenin. I also consider it essential to prepare for a revolutionary war. The treaty can be interpreted, and we shall interpret it. The demobilisation there is in a purely military sense. Before the war, we also had an army. A revolutionary war needs serious preparation. I do not doubt for a second that the masses stand for peace.


Lenin proposes the following for voting: (1) Are the German proposals to be accepted immediately? (2) Is a revolutionary war to be prepared for immediately? (3) Is a poll of Soviet electors in Petrograd and Moscow to be taken immediately?


Comrade Lomov asks whether Vladimir Ilyich allows of silent or open agitation against signing the peace.

Comrade Lenin replies in the affirmative.


In view of the statement by several members of the C.C. that they are resigning all their responsible Soviet and Party posts, Y. M. Sverdlov proposes that members of the C.C. remain at their posts until the Congress, and carry on their agitation within the Party.

Comrade Lenin is in favour of discussing the question raised by Sverdlov as, first, there are three days to go before the signing and, second, twelve days for ratification. Consequently, it will be possible to canvass the Party and, if it comes out against signing, ratification will not follow; but as time is short today, he suggests postponing the question until tomorrow.



Comrade Stalin asks whether resignation from their posts does not in effect mean withdrawal from the Party.

Comrade Lenin points out that resignation from the C.C. does not mean withdrawal from the Party.


Comrade Lenin suggests that the comrades should leave the sessions during the voting and should not sign any documents, so as not to bear any responsibility, but should not give up their work in the Council.


[1] The meeting of the Party’s Central Committee on February 23, 1918, was called in connection with the even harsher peace terms which the Germans presented, and the demand that they be examined within 48 hours. The Left Communists Bukharin, Uritsky, and Lomov (Oppokov) once again objected to Lenin’s peremptory demand that the German terms be accepted and peace signed at once. Trotsky opposed the signing of the peace and declared that in view of his disagreement with Lenin’s stand he was resigning from the post of People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs. Sverdlov, Zinoviev and Sokolnikov favoured signing the peace. In his first speech, Stalin proposed that the peace talks should be resumed and added that “peace does not have to be signed”. Following Lenin’s criticism of his stand, he spoke out in favour of signing the peace at once. Lenin, Stasova, Zinoviev, Sverdlov, Stalin, Sokolnikov and Smilga voted for the immediate signing of the peace; Bubnov, Uritsky, Bukharin and Lomov (Oppokov) voted against, and Trotsky, Krestinsky, Dzerzhinsky and Joffe abstained. After the vote, the group of Left Communists—Bukharin, Lomov, Bubnov, Pyatakov, Yakovleva and Uritsky—announced that they were resigning from their responsible Party and government posts, reserving the right to conduct agitation inside and outside the Party.

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