V. I. Lenin

Speech at a Meeting of

The Railwaymen of Moscow Junction[1]

February 5, 1920

Brief Newspaper Report

Written: 5 February, 1920
First Published: Petrogradskaya Pravda No. 28; February 7, 1920; Published according to the Petrogradskaya Pravda text
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 30, pages 345-346
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

V. I. Lenin, greeted with stormy applause, delivered a long speech.

“The most outstanding fact in the world situation,” said Comrade Lenin, “is the peace with Estonia. This peace is a window into Europe. It opens up before us the possi-bility of beginning an exchange of goods with the West. Our enemies maintained that the revolution in the West is far away and that we would not be able to hold out without it. We have not only held out, however, we have won a vic-tory.

“We won without obtaining a single cartridge from any-where, we won only because the workers and Red Army sol-diers know what they are fighting for.

“If the small nations that are playthings in the hands of the Entente begin to wish for peace with Soviet Russia, this is to be explained by our having shown in practice how the imperialists have deceived them and how gladly the Russian proletariat extends to them the hand of peace. Poland will follow Estonia. Information has been received that Soviet Russia’s peace proposals will be discussed in Poland. This bloodless victory is of tremendous importance.”

Lenin went over to the internal situation and showed that it boiled down to a struggle against chaos on the rail-ways. Railway transport was hanging by a hair. If the trains stopped running that would mean the end of the proletar-ian centres. Heroic efforts on the part of the masses of workers would be needed to maintain transport and facilitate the struggle against hunger and cold. Unparalleled heroism proved possible during the Civil War which claimed so many victims, and that heroism and those sacrifices that decided the war in our favour were still essential now that the war had shifted to another front, the industrial front. Victory was now essential on this bloodless front.

“It must be understood that sacrifices are also needed here,” continued the speaker. “Sacrifices must be made to restore the country’s economy. ’Victory or Death’ must be-come the slogan on the industrial front. It is necessary for workers to be conscious of the need for the tensest struggle for victory on this front. There is a hard struggle ahead and it will have to be carried on by tired and hungry workers; If, however, they realise that the fate of the working class depends on the outcome of this struggle, they will win out.”

The question of transport was being discussed by the Council of Defence, but the workers themselves would have to muster for the struggle against the transport chaos and the profiteering that intensified the chaos. Those who did not give their grain surpluses to the state were turning the railways into an instrument for profiteering, they were enemies, and politically-conscious workers should muster for the struggle against them.

“We led the Red Army to victory by strict, iron disci-pline as well as agitation. What has been organised in the Red Army must also be created on all the fronts of labour The entire experience of the creation of the Red Army must be transferred to the army of railway workers so that it can rise to the same heights as the Red Army. Without sacrifice, without iron discipline, without the employment of special-ists the Red Army would not have been victorious, and with-out them the railway army will not be victorious.” (Ap-plause.)


[1] The meeting was held in Moscow, February 5-6, 1920. It was attended by more than 1,000 people. The agenda was the following: the international situation; the fight against economic dislocation; labour conscription; transport; social security; tasks of the B.C.P. in the proletarian revolution; public health services; food problem.

The Conference was held at a time when transport was the main sector of the labour front. The supply of raw material and fuel to factories and food for the population depended on the work of the railways. In a very short time thousands of locomotives and trucks and many railway lines and bridges had to be repaired. The Party mobilised Communists and assigned them to work on the railways; Lenin delivered the opening speech at this Conference. The resolution adopted by the Conference proposed to concentrate the entire attention of the country and the efforts of the working class on the internal development of Soviet Russia and particularly on the industrial and economic front. The Conference called upon all railwaymen to form “the Red Labour Transport Army with strict labour discipline”.