V. I. Lenin

Speech at Conference of Workers and Red Army Men

In Rogozhsko-Simonovsky District Of Moscow

May 13, 1920

Newspaper Report

Delivered: 13 May, 1920
First Published: Kommunistichesky Trud No. 44,May 14, 1920; Published according to the newspaper text
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 31, pages 136-137
Translated: Julius Katzer
Transcription\HTML Markup: David Walters & R. 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

The Soviet Republic is again going through a difficult period. After dealing with Kolchak and Denikin, the Russian proletariat was preparing to devote all its spiritual and material forces to the restoration of the country's economic life. We thought that the bourgeois government of Poland would not hazard a new venture. The Polish Communists, it is true, had said that, just because the Polish Government had nothing more to lose, it would not hesitate to drive its workers and peasants into any kind of adventure. We, however, think that the Polish proletariat, together with the proletariat of Lithuania and Byelorussia, will see to it that the Polish bourgeoisie and nobility are driven out of the country. The Russian workers' and peasants' government has made enormous concessions to Poland, wishing thereby to prove to the Polish people that it has ended with tsarism's policy towards small states.

Behind the Polish bourgeoisie stand the capitalists of France, who are manoeuvring to sell military supplies to Poland at good prices, thus recovering the losses incurred with Kolchak and Denikin.

It is significant that no Entente power dares to come out openly against Soviet Russia, for fear of showing the workers its true colours. At present it is of the utmost importance for us to make the politically illiterate and backward citizens realise that we have done everything to avoid fresh bloodshed, that the Polish worker and peasant are no enemies of ours, but that we shall fight and fight ruthlessly if the Polish bourgeoisie is out for war, hand in glove with Petlyura. In the final analysis, victory in any war depends on the spirit animating the masses that spill their own blood on the field of battle. The conviction that the war is in a just cause and the realisation that their lives must be laid down for the welfare of their brothers strengthen the morale of the fighting men and enable them to endure incredible hardships. Tsarist generals say that our Red Army men are capable of enduring hardships that the tsar's army could never have stood up to. The reason is that every mobilised worker or peasant knows what he is fighting for and is ready to shed his own blood for the triumph of justice and socialism.

The realisation by the masses of the causes and aims of the war is of tremendous importance and ensures victory.

Our country has been exhausted by war, and we are prepared to make great concessions to end the bloodshed and apply ourselves to peaceful labour. That was why, when Bullitt came to Russia and proposed a harsh peace, the Soviet Government signed it[1] so as to enable the Soviets to gain strength.

At present we are again obliged to issue the call, “Everything for the war effort! ”All trade union and Party organisations must bend every effort to help the heroic Red Army.

We shall very soon convince the whole world of the justice of our cause.

A British trade union delegation arrived in Petrograd yesterday. Few of its members are in sympathy with us, but we are sure that when they return home they will be our best propagandists.[2] Even former tsarist generals consider Poland's claims unjust and are helping us. The Russian workers and peasants join us in saying, “Everything for the war effort, everything for victory ”. Let us devote all our forces to secure victory. (A storm of applause.)


[1] Lenin has in view the arrival in Moscow, in March 1919, of Bullitt, on instructions from U.S. President Wilson and British Prime Minister Lloyd George, with the proposal that the Soviet Government should sign a peace with the whiteguard Governments existing at the time on the territory of Russia. A draft of the treaty was drawn up, but then the imperialists, who, in view of the temporary successes of Kolchak's army, hoped that the Soviet Republic would be crushed, refused to continue peace talks.—Editor.

[2] The British trade union delegation was sent to Russia by decision of the British Trade Unions Congress held in December 1919, for a first-hand study of the economic and political situation in Soviet Russia. The delegation consisted of: Ben Turner (head of the delegation), Ethel Snowden, Tom Shaw, Robert Williams—from the Labour Party, and Margaret Bondfield, A. Purcell, and H. Skinner, from the trade unions; Charles Roden Buxton and Haden L. Guest were secretaries to the delegation. R. C. Wallhead and Allen Clifford, representing the Independent Labour Party, came to Russia together with the delegation, but were not official members.

V. I. Lenin attached great importance to the delegation's visit to Russia. He instructed the All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions to give the delegation a hearty welcome and acquaint them with the life of the Soviet people, so that they could tell the truth about Soviet Russia when they returned home.

The delegation arrived in Petrograd on May 12, 1920, and went to Moscow on May 17. They were warmly welcomed by the working people of Soviet Russia, as representatives of the British working masses. Meetings were held in their honour, as well as a great rally in the Bolshoi Theatre and a parade of the Moscow Garrison. The delegation became acquainted in detail with the life of the Soviet Republic, visited a number of cities along the Volga, went to the front, and took part in Subbotniks. The delegation members expressed their determination to strengthen fraternal solidarity between British and Soviet working people, and voiced a protest against any aid, whether overt, or covert, given by Britain to the Polish Government in the new offensive, and against any threat to force Russia to meet Polish demands. The delegation were received by V. I. Lenin on May 26. On their return home, the British workers' delegation published a report on the situation in Russia (see British Labour Delegation to Russia. 1920. Report. London, 1920).—Editor.