V. I.   Lenin



Published: First published in 1965 in Collected Works, Fifth (Russian) Ed., Vol. 54. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1976, Moscow, Volume 45, pages 397b-400a.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
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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I am very sorry that my request to inform me about the case of Comrade Shapiro’s expulsion from the Party has caused the cancellation of the examination of his case by the Moscow Gubernia Commission scheduled for 18.00 hours today, December 3. This is a result of a misunderstanding and mistake, because the most important thing, of course, is the speedy examination of the case.

On the substance of the case, I apply to the Moscow Gubernia Commission for Checking and Purging the Party to take into account the following of my considerations.

1) Over a period of several years I have repeatedly heard from N. K. Krupskaya that Shapiro was an exceptionally honest worker, but was not liked for his stringent demands. That is why when the purging began I warned N. K. Krupskaya that attention should be paid to a possible and probable intrigue connected with this.

2) My article in the press that the Mensheviks and the Bundists who joined the R.C.P. were unreliable was frequently taken to mean that they should all be expelled.[1] I feel it to be my duty, therefore, to state that I have always considered that each case must be dealt with individually, and in confirmation refer, for instance, to the   former Menshevik Chirkin, who joined the R.C.P. much later than Shapiro, and about whose wavering we had precise facts, and not just rumour or hearsay. Still, after an all-round examination of Chirkin’s case, I agreed with the Ukrainian comrades who were defending him, that Chirkin should be left in the Party.

3) Shapiro’s application has Comrade A. Yenukidze’s inscription of 3.IX.1921, saying: “I fully certify everything set out here by Comrade Shapiro for the 1917 period.”

And what Comrade Shapiro has stated about this period is of exceptional importance, because the meaning of it is that the Menshevik Shapiro had started to oppose the Mensheviks even before the October Revolution.

In reply to my special inquiry about Shapiro addressed to Comrade Yenukidze the latter told me today that he had worked with him on the front-line commission of the old, Menshevik All-Russia C.E.C., from April to August 1917. Having been in close contact with Comrade Shapiro in that period, Comrade Yenukidze told me that he had absolutely no doubt about Comrade Shapiro’s sincerity, and that he, Yenukidze, would certainly be in favour of leaving Comrade Shapiro in the Party.

Comrade Yenukidze gave me this additional characteristic fact: after the July 1917 days, when the Bolsheviks were being fiercely harassed, Shapiro put up such a defence of the Bolsheviks at the meeting, that Vainstein, a member of the Menshevik C.C., all but used his fists against Shapiro.

Let me add that Comrade Yenukidze, a Party member since 1898, is one of the old Party guard, who in fact should check and purge our Party. I believe that any evidence coming from the ranks of this old guard deserves triple attention. I feel therefore that it is quite wrong for the district commission to expel Comrade Shapiro without summoning Comrade Yenukidze. It is my request to the Moscow Gubernia Commission to summon Comrade Yenukidze, Secretary of the All-Russia C.E.C., in Shapiro’s case.

4) Comrade Shapiro’s application says that he is the author of a pamphlet on the agrarian question issued in 1907, under the pseudonym of M. Shanin. As Comrade Shapiro has said, I analysed this pamphlet in my book,   The Agrarian Programme of Social-Democracy in the First Russian Revolution 1905–1907 (2nd ed., Petrograd, 1919, p. 84 et seq.).[2] While criticising Shanin for a number of Menshevik errors, I noted even at the time, over 10 years ago, that he differed from the Mensheviks. For instance, on p. 85 of the said book, I noted that Shanin “prompted, of course, by the very best motives, defends confiscation against redemption payments”.[3]

This is a very essential fact, indicating that more than ten years ago, Comrade Shapiro had had a tendency to move away from the Mensheviks to the revolutionary side.

5) My fears that the purging of the Party could provide some people with a pretext for an intrigue against Comrade Shapiro—fears about which I told N. K. Krupskaya long before the start of the purging in the city of Moscow—have been borne out by the following circumstance. The District Commission has expelled Shapiro without summoning Yenukidze, without naming anyone who knows Shapiro well at his work, and who could cite facts about his unreliability. The commission has called Shapiro “unstable and wavering”, without offering the least proof, without the slightest concrete indication. One cannot help thinking that someone’s far from impartial reference (from among his fellow workers, for instance) to the effect, let us say, that he is “not one of us”, that he is “alien” to us, could very well have played a part.

Let us recall, however, that the Party cell at the Chief Committee for Political Education unanimously came out in favour of Shapiro (as I learned from Comrade Anna Ivanovna Meshcheryakova, an old Party member, whom I have known since the émigré period, and a member of the cell who attended the meeting). Shapiro was in charge of one of the six departments of the Chief Committee for Political Education. Consequently, the persons subordinate to him were in a small minority at the Party cell meeting. No one could have had a closer view of Comrade Shapiro’s day-to-day work than the cell of his establishment. If that cell had unanimously come out for Shapiro, the weight   of such a vote should, I think, be regarded as very great. I believe it is highly probable that Shapiro has become a victim of an intrigue, rumour to the effect that he is “not one of us”, without there being a shred of evidence, without any direct statement by a single Party member, who has had an occasion to observe Comrade Shapiro’s work at close range.

On the strength of what I have stated, I request the Moscow Gubernia Commission for Checking and Purging the Party that it should summon Comrade Yenukidze, take what I have said into consideration, and check up on who precisely has spoken out against Shapiro, and whether this is not an intrigue.

It is also my request to let me have a copy of the decision on this case by the Moscow Gubernia Commission.[4]

3.XII.1921. Member of the R.C.P. V. Ulyanov (Lenin)


[1] A reference to the article “Purging the Party” (present edition, Vol. 33, pp. 39–41).—Ed.

[2] See present edition, Vol. 13, pp. 215–431.—Ed.

[3] Ibid., p. 288.—Ed.

[4] The question of L. G. Shapiro was examined by the Moscow Gubernia Commission for Checking-up, Reviewing and Purging the Membership of the R.C.P.(B.) on December 5, 1921. By a decision of the Commission he was reinstated in the Party, but issued a reprimand for losing contacts with the workers. Lenin was sent an extract from the Commission’s minutes.

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