V. I.   Lenin



Written: Written on October 17, 1919
Published: Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1975, Moscow, Volume 44, pages 294b-295a.
Translated: Clemens Dutt
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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Comrade Trotsky,

Last night in the Council of Defence we adopted a decision of the Council and sent it to you in code (it would be better for you to use your own code, as Karakhan’s, used by Zinoviev, causes a delay of several hours).

As you see, your plan has been adopted.

But the withdrawal of the Petrograd workers to the south, of course, is not rejected (it is said that you expanded on this to Krasin and Rykov); to talk about this prematurely would mean diverting attention from the struggle to the last.[2]

The attempt to envelop and cut off Petrograd, of course, will call for corresponding changes, which you will carry out on the spot.

Instruct some reliable person in each department of the Gubernia Executive Committee to collect Soviet papers and documents in preparation for evacuation.

I enclose the appeal which the Defence Council instructed me to draw up.[1]

I was in a hurry and it is none too good.

Better put my signature beneath your appeal.



[1] This refers to the appeal: “To the Workers and Red Army Men of Petrograd” (see present edition, Vol. 30, pp. 68–69).—Ed.

[2] Lenin is referring to the decision of the Council of Defence dated October 16, 1919. It contained a directive to defend Petrograd to the last drop of blood, without yielding an inch of ground and fighting in the streets. In his proposed plan of struggle against Yudenich’s forces, Trotsky also spoke of the need to prepare for street fighting in the city. But, in issuing its main directive for holding Petrograd at all costs until the arrival of reinforcements, the Council of Defence allowed for street fighting only if the enemy succeeded in penetrating into the city, whereas Trotsky’s argument was different. He asserted that “for purely military considerations” it would be advantageous to allow the enemy to break into Petrograd which should therefore be converted into “a big trap for the whiteguard troops”.

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