V. I. Lenin

Meeting Of Presidium Of The Petrograd Soviet With Delegates From Food Supply Organisations

January 14 (27), 1918[1]

Delivered: 14 January, 1918
First Published: 1924 in the magazine Krasnaya Letopis No. 1. Published according to a handwritten copy of the Minutes.
Source:Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 26, 1972, pp. 501-502
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov and George Hanna, Edited by George Hanna
Transcription & HTML Markup: Charles Farrell and David Walters
Online Version: Lenin Internet Archive December, 2000



On Combating The Famine


Vladimirov's data indicate that the old ration should not be changed. Measures must be taken to find what there is available in Petrograd.


All these data show that the workers of Petrograd are monstrously inactive. The Petrograd workers and soldiers must understand that they have no one to look to but themselves. The facts of abuse are glaring, the speculation, monstrous; but what have the mass of soldiers and workers done about it? You cannot do anything without rousing the masses to action. A plenary meeting of the Soviet must be called to decide on mass searches in Petrograd and the goods stations. To carry out these searches, each factory and company must form contingents, not on a voluntary basis: it must be the duty of everyone to take part in these searches under the threat of being deprived of his bread card. We can't expect to get anywhere unless we resort to terrorism: speculators must be shot on the spot. Moreover, bandits must be dealt with just as resolutely: they must be shot on the spot.

The rich section of the population must be left without bread for three days because they have stocks of other foodstuns and can afford to pay the speculators the higher price.


Draft Resolution

A plenary meeting of the Petrograd Soviet shall be called to take revolutionary measures to fight speculators and overcome the famine:

(1) All soldiers and workers must be recruited to form several thousand groups (consisting of 10-15 men, and possibly more) who shall be bound to devote a certain number of hours (say, 3-4) daily to the food supply service.

(2) Regiments and factories failing to provide the number of groups required shall be deprived of bread cards, subjected to revolutionary coercive and penal measures.

(3) The groups shall immediately conduct searches, firstly, of railway stations, inspecting and counting cars loaded with grain; secondly, of railway tracks and junctions near Petrograd; thirdly, of all warehouses and private living quarters.

The instructions covering search, counting and requisition shall be worked out by the presidium of the Petrograd Soviet with participation of delegates from the district Soviets or by a special commission.

(4) Speculators who are caught and fully exposed as such shall be shot by the groups on the spot. The same penalty shall be meted out to members of the groups who are exposed as dishonest.

(5) The most reliable and best armed groups of the mass of revolutionary contingents organised to take extreme measures to overcome the famine shall be detailed for dispatch to all stations and all uyezds of the principal grain supplying gubernias. These groups, with the participation of railway-men delegated by local railway committees, shall be authorised, firstly, to control the movement of grain freights; secondly, take charge of the collection and storage of grain; thirdly, adopt the most extreme revolutionary measures to fight speculators and to requisition grain stocks.

(6) When making any record of requisition, arrest or execution, the revolutionary contingents shall summon at least six witnesses to be selected from the poorest section of the population closest at hand.


[1] The meeting of the Presidium of the Petrograd Soviet with delegates from food supply organisations discussed the grave food situation of the workers and soldiers of Petrograd who received only a quarter of a pound of bread a day. It heard a report by a representative of the food board on the prospects of better food supplies for Petrograd and a report of the unloading commission. A decision of the Council of People’s Commissars on January 19 (February 1) increased the food ration to half a pound for the entire population of Petrograd.