V. I. Lenin

Draft Wireless Message From

People’s Commissar For Foreign Affairs[1]

Written: 19 February, 1919
First Published: February 20, 1919 in Izvestia No. 39; Published according to the manuscript
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 28, page 446
Translated: Jim Riordan
Transcription/HTML Markup: David Walters & Robert Cymbala
Online Version: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive May, 2002

In reply to your wireless message I hasten to inform you that although we do not consider the Berne Conference either socialist or in any way representative of the working class, we nevertheless permit the commission appointed by you to come to Russia and guarantee it the opportunity to fully acquaint itself with the situation, just as we permit the entry of any bourgeois commission on a fact-finding mission, directly or indirectly connected with any bourgeois government, even if it is engaged in attacking the Soviet Republic. Permitting the entry of your commission we would like to know whether your democratic government, and the governments of other democratic countries, whose citizens take part in the commission, will permit the entry of our commission from the Soviet Republic.


[1] The draft was written by Lenin in reply to the wireless message of the German Foreign Ministry of February 19, 1919, which conveyed the request of the Berne Socialist Conference to permit entry for a special fact-finding commission appointed by the Conference. People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs Chicherin made the following addendum to Lenin’s draft: “Let us know of the exact date when the commission is arriving so that we can take all steps for facilitating their journey by getting agreement of the Lithuanian and Byelorussian Soviet Republics.” The telegram signed by Chicherin was broadcast to Germany.

The Berne Conference was the first post-war conference of the :social-chauvinist and Centrist parties, called for the purpose of restoring the Second international. It met in Berne from Februa-ry 3 to February 10, 1919.

One of the main items of the agenda was the question of democ-racy and dictatorship. In his report on this question the Centrist Branting tried to prove that the socialist revolution and dictator-ship of the proletariat could not lead to socialism. Kautsky and Bernstein wanted the Conference to condemn the Bolsheviks and the socialist revolution in Russia. Branting moved a resolution which, while hypocritically greeting the revolutions in Soviet Russia, Austria-Hungary and Germany, actually denounced the dictatorship of the proletariat and extolled bourgeois democracy. In view of the sympathetic attitude of the workers towards Soviet Russia the sponsors of the resolution worded it in very ambiguous terms and did not dare to refer specifically to Soviet Russia. The Conference did not discuss the question of the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies. A group of delegates led by Adler and Longuet tabled a resolution suggesting that the Conference refrain from taking a definite stand on Soviet Russia in view of the paucity of infor-mation about the situation there. TBranting’s resolution received a large number of votes.

The Conference decided to send a commission to Russia to study the economic and political situation in the country, and to include the question of Bolshevism in the agenda of the next congress. The commission consisted of Adler, Kautsky, Hilferding and others. While agreeing to admit the commission, the Soviet Govern-ment requested the admittance of a Soviet commission to the countries whose representatives were on the Berne commission. The Soviet Government, however, received no reply to its request. As it turned out, the commission of “auditing dignitaries from Berne”, as Lenin called it, did not come to Russia.

The First Congress of the Communist International adopted a resolution entitled “On the Attitude Towards ‘Socialist’ Trends and the Berne Conference”, which criticised the Rerun decisions. In particular, it denounced the attempts of the Right-wing socialist leaders to compel the Conference to adopt a resolution that would provide a cover for the imperialist armed intervention in Soviet Russia.