V. I. Lenin

Letter To The Central Committee Of The Communist Party Of Germany Regarding The Split[1]

To Comrades Paul Levi, Clara Zetkin, Eberlein And The Other Members Of The Cc. Of The Communist Party Of Germany

Written: October 28, 1919
Source: Collected Works, Volume 30,p. 87-88 Progress Publishers, 1965
First Published: First published in 1932; Published according to the manuscript
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

October 28, 1919

Dear Friends,

I have forwarded to you for publication a letter dated October 10, 1919, “Greetings to French, Italian and German Communists”, in which I have referred, among other things, to your disagreements with the supporters of the boycott, the semi-syndicalists, etc. Today I have learned from the German government wireless message (from Nauen) about a split in your party: although the source is a filthy one, it is probably telling the truth in this case, because letters from our friends in Germany speak of the possibility of a split.

The only thing that seems incredible is this radio report that with 25 votes against 18, you expelled the minority, which, they tell us, then set up a party of its own. I know very little about this breakaway opposition, for I have seen only a few issues of the Berlin Rote Fahne. My impression is that they are very gifted propagandists, inexperienced and young, like our own Left Communists ("Left” due to lack of experience and youth) of 1918. Given agreement on the basic issue (for Soviet rule, against bourgeois parliamentarism), unity, in my opinion, is possible and necessary, just as a split is necessary with the Kautskyites. If the split was inevitable, efforts should be made not to deepen it, but to approach the Executive Committee of the Third International for mediation and to make the “Lefts” formulate their differences in theses and in a pamphlet. Restoration of unity in the Communist Party of Germany is both possible and necessary from the international standpoint. I would be extremely glad to get a letter from you on this subject. I am enclosing a letter to the breakaway group, and hope that you will forward it at the time of publishing my article, which, written before the news of the split was received, fully recognises the correctness of your standpoint.

A hearty handshake and warm wishes for success.to you in your difficult work. The communist movement is growing splendidly throughout the world. It is slower than we would like, but broad, powerful, deep and invincible. As was the case in Russia, the stage of the dominance of the “Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries” (of the Second International) is discernible everywhere. This dominance will be succeeded by that of the Communists and the victory of the dictatorship of the proletariat and of Soviet government.

With communist greetings,

N. Lenin


[1] The Communist Party of Germany split at Its Second Congress, held in October 1919 in Heidelberg. It was attended by 46 delegates representing 16,000 party members. The Congress recognised the error of the boycott tactics of the elections to the Constituent Assembly and passed a decision to take part in parliamentary elections. A group of the “Lefts” came out at the Congress against its decisions and in defence of anarcho-syndicalist views-the boycott of parliament, repudiation of the political struggle, refusal to work in reactionary trade unions and so on. The “Lefts” were in the minority and were expelled from the party, after which they founded the so-called Communist Workers’ Party of Germany. Subsequently the C.W.P.G. became an insignificant sectarian group without any influence in the working class. Simultaneously with this letter addressed to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Germany Lenin sent a letter to the breakaway group too (see pp. 89-90 of this volume).