V. I.   Lenin



Published: First published in 1932 in Lenin Miscellany XX,. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1976, Moscow, Volume 45, page 191.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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Comrade Martens:

I must reproach you for having misdirected the papers on the American colonies in Russia.[1]

I read them only on 20/VI. You should not have sent them through Bukharin, but should have formulated some 20 lines of practical proposals in Russian, and sent them up to the C.L.D., and a copy for me personally and a short letter.

The delay was due to the misdirection of the file.

In substance: I am in favour, provided the American workers and settlers in general will bring along with them:

1) foodstuffs for two years (you say that this has been done before, which means that it is possible);

2) clothes, for a similar period;

3) implements of labour.

No. 1 (and No. 2) are the most important. The $200 is less important. If we have No. 1, I agree to give every support.

To speed things, draw up a draft C.L.D. decision right away and table it today (if you can, before 3.00 p.m.), this very day in the C.L.D., and we shall decide at 6.00; even if you are late, table it in the C.L.D. at 6.00, we shall set up a commission and decide it on Friday, 24/VI.

Draft decision: 1) terms—the three afore-mentioned, 2) management (you+1 American worker+1 from the People’s Commissariat for Labour?), 3) we help (give land, timber, pits, etc.), 4) financial relations such-and-such.

Please reply by bearer.

V. Ulyanov (Lenin)
Chairman, C.P.C.

P.S. After writing this letter, I saw that the question is on today’s C.L.D. agenda. Please elaborate the points I have indicated.[2]


[1] On June 10, 1921, L. K. Martens, a member of the S.E.C. Presidium, submitted to Lenin a copy of his report to the S.E.C. Presidium, which urged the need to enlist for work in Soviet industry foreign workers, chiefly Russian émigrés in America, many of whom were eager to go to Soviet Russia in view of the industrial crisis in America at the end of 1920 and early 1921. His report also contained a number of practical proposals on organising the immigration of foreign workers.

On page 1 of the report, Lenin wrote: “NB: p. 9, bring along food”, and on page 9, he underlined Martens’s words: “They have brought with them food for six months”, and wrote in the margin: “NB” (Central Party Archives of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the C.P.S.U. Central Committee).

The report was appended to Minutes No. 224 of the C.L.D. sitting on June 22, 1921. A detailed article about this appeared in Ekonomicheskaya Zhizn No. 157 of July 20, 1921, and was then reprinted in the monthly information journal Soviet Russia (Vol. V, No. 4, 1921, pp. 156–58).

[2] Having received this letter, Martens replied to Lenin that he would immediately start working on the draft C.L.D. decision concerning the industrial immigration of Russians from America and would have it ready by six o’clock.

That same day, June 22, 1921, the C.L.D. declared that it was desirable to “develop separate industrial enterprises or groups of enterprises by leasing them to groups of American workers, and industrially developed peasants, on contractual terms assuring them of a measure of economic autonomy” (Lenin Miscellany XX, p. 202) The C.L.D. also recognised the need to regulate the industrial immigration of workers from other countries, and instructed the S.E.C. to work out the terms for leasing enterprises to these workers.

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