V. I. Lenin

Speech At A Non-Party Conference Of

Workers And Men Of The Red Army

August 6, 1919

Newspaper Report

Delivered: August 6, 1919
First Published: First version in Izvestia No. 173, August 7, 1919; Second version in Vecherniye Izvestia Moskovskogo Soveta No, 312, August 8, 1919; Published according to the newspaper text
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 29, pages 547-550
Translated: George Hanna
Transcription/HTML Markup: David Walters & Robert Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2002. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

First Version

Lenin’s appearance was greeted with an enthusiastic ovation. He said that he would begin with events they had read about in the newspapers of that day and the day before the events in Hungary.

A Kerensky-type government had dominated Hungary up to the end of March; at that time the members of that government had resigned, realising that they could not hold out; the socialist-conciliators had then sent representatives to the prison in which Comrade Bela Kurt, who had at one time served in the ranks of our Red Army, was confined. They had entered into negotiations with him and he went straight from prison into the government.

Information had recently been received to the effect that things were going wrong inside the Socialist Party of Hungary.

Lenin then said that Rumanian troops had entered Budapest but that no particular attention should be paid to that.

“That is what happened in our country,” he said, “on the various fronts. But we had sufficient forces in the country to dig ourselves in and then deal Kolchak a proper blow—or to give an answer as we have done on the Petrograd Front. You know that our troops have captured Yamhurg.[The old Russian name of Kingisepp.—Editor.]

Lenin then spoke about the political experience the Soviet Republic had acquired in that period, an experience which the Hungarians, of course, did not possess.

“We shall not,” he said, “become downhearted because we know what these temporary triumphs of the Koichaks and Kornilovs will lead to. Let the Rumanian Koichaks dance on the bodies of Hungarian workers today, we know that their triumph Will be short-lived. It is true that only the steel-like strength of the workers, who give aid to all working people and punish all profiteers, can get us out of this terrible war.”

Lenin went on to speak of the actions of the conciliators, the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries in Siberia; they were then accusing the Soviet Government of incorrect tactics but could not themselves produce a model of tactics. In reality everything that had happened in Siberia, all the promises that the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries had given had brought nothing but suffering to the peasants as well as the workers. But since the Treaty of Versailles had been signed the workers of France, Britain and other countries were beginning more and more to understand the situation.

For this reason, he said, the recent events in Hungary, burdensome as they were, were similar to what had occurred in the camp of Denikin and Koichak. The events would open the eyes of hundreds of thousands more workers and would show them that capital was stretching out its hand to recover what it had lost on dishonoured bills.

Lenin then spoke about the conspiracies of the Mensheviks, Socialist-Revolutionaries and capitalists to recapture power. “They themselves are plotting, and at the same time they are agitating the Soviet Government to renounce terror.

“But we shall not renounce terror because we know that it would only lead to the temporary victory of the Koichaks and Denikins! Capital is killing itself in the war, and the dying beast is roaring at the workers in its death throes. It cannot, however, prolong its life and it will die!” (Stormy applause.)

Second Version

Lenin said that he would begin with the events they were witnessing in Hungary.

They would remember that until the end of March a Kerensky-type government with all its joys had been dominant. When Soviet power had suddenly been established on March 21—the local Mensheviks incidentally had agreed to support that power—one might have thought that a new era had set in in socialism .... Recent events had shown that the socialist-conciliators had not changed in the least. Apparently what was happening in Hungary was a repetition on a grand scale of what they had recently witnessed in Baku.[1]

Lenin then drew a clear picture of the tragic history of the Baku proletariat; the traitor-socialists had appealed to the British command for help and behind the backs of the workers had entered into a secret agreement with Western imperialists. He drew an analogy between the Baku tragedy and the present revolt in Hungary and spoke of the wireless message that had informed them that the Rumanians had already entered Red Budapest.

Lenin then went on to compare the situation in Hungary with that of Soviet Russia and recalled in brief the temporary Soviet failures; he said that Russia had been saved by her tremendous territory while Hungary was too small to repulse all her enemies. Going over to the question of conciliators in general, Lenin spoke about the Russian socialist parties of conciliators and said:

“If the conciliators of Russia made a mistake under Kerensky that lasted throughout six months of work, why did they not correct that mistake under Kolchak in Siberia?

“The point is that Denikin’s crowd are also singing songs about a Constituent Assembly; the counter-revolution does not come out into the open anywhere, so that we can say that temporary failures, like the recent events in Hungary, will not disconcert us. There is no way out of all these misfortunes other than revolution, and there remains only one sure method—the dictatorship of the proletariat. We say that every new defeat of the Red Army only serves to strengthen it, makes it more steadfast and class-conscious, for the workers and peasants have now learned from a sanguinary experience what to expect from the power of the bourgeoisie and the conciliators. The dying beast of world capital is making its last efforts, but it would nevertheless die!” (Stormy applause.)


[1] At a meeting of the Baku Soviet on July 25, 1918, the Mensheviks, Socialist-Revolutionaries and Dashnaks passed, by a small majority, the traitorous decision to ask the British imperialists for aid under pretence of defending Baku from the advancing Turkish forces. Counter-revolutionary subversive activities in Baku, the breakdown in supplies, the counter-revolutionary propaganda in the army and navy were all guided by the British Consul MacDonnell. The Bolshevik group at the July 25 meeting, guided by the instructions of Lenin and Sverdlov given in the name of the Council of People’s Commissars and the All-Russia Central Executive Committee to pursue an independent foreign policy and wage a resolute struggle against the agents of foreign capital, tabled a draft resolution demanding that immediate measures be taken to defend Baku, using local forces. This motion was rejected by a majority vote. The Bolsheviks, being in the minority, resigned from the Baku Soviet so that power was actually in the hands of the counter-revolutionary government, which called itself the “Central Caspian Dictatorship”. The British, who had been invited, entered Baku a few days later. The Bolshevik members of the Baku Soviet—the twenty-six Baku commissars-were brutally murdered by the British interventionists with the direct participation of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries.