V. I.   Lenin



Written: Written on May 13, 1919
Published: Published in full in 1941 in the book Dokumenty o geroicheskoi oborone Petrograda v 1919, Moscow. First published, but not in full, in Pravda No. 165, June 16, 1939. Printed from the typewritten text signed by V. I. Lenin.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1976], Moscow, Volume 35, page 389.
Translated: Andrew Rothstein
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive.   You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work, as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
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Zinoviev, Defence Committee, Petrograd

With the object of ascertaining the situation in Petrograd, the Defence Council requests you to give an exhaustive reply: on what considerations was it decided to evacuate several factories from Petrograd and the neighbourhood, by whom and why was an instruction given to sink ships, the total numbers of workers mobilised and remaining in the factories, are all those who have been mobilised really being used for defence requirements, for what reasons were Commissars appointed to the slate factories, was there an indiscriminate call-up of citizens or was the decision of the central authority observed. The Defence Council, while leaving in force for the time being the slate of siege in Petrograd, notifies you that measures taken by the Petrograd Defence Committee must be applied with the knowledge of, and in appropriate cases by agreement with, the central authority.[2]

Chairman, Defence Council


[1] At the beginning of May 1919, the threat of an offensive by White Finnish troops made it necessary to mobilise the working people of Petrograd in defence of the city. Some of the Petrograd leaders, however, including G. Y. Zinoviev, Chairman of the city’s Defence Committee, underestimated the strength and ability of the defenders. In a mood of panic they decided without informing the Defence Council, to evacuate several factories, and were preparing to scuttle the Baltic Fleet. Workers were mobilised haphazardly with the result that many factories of great defence importance had to slow down. The telegram sent by Lenin was on behalf of the Defence Council. The draft of it was signed by L. B. Krasin and A. I. Rykov.

[2] The Defence Council look direct control over the organisation of the defence of Petrograd. On May 17, 1919 it decided not to announce and not to carry out any general evacuation of Petrograd or the Petrograd area, but to set up a special commission with powers to state what should be moved out of the city, and how this should be done.

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