V. I.   Lenin



Written: Written on October 18, 1922
Published: First published in 1964 in Collected Works, Fifth (Russian) Ed., Vol. 45. Printed from a typewritten copy with Lenin’s corrections and signature.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1976, Moscow, Volume 45, pages 578c-580.
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.README

Copy to Comrade KAMENEV

I have given a careful reading to the agreement with Otto Wolff. I find that Comrade Kamenev’s objections are   based entirely on a misunderstanding, and I believe the question should be brought up for decision by the Politbureau not later than tomorrow, because the difference between Kamenev and myself calls for an authoritative and final decision.

Kamenev writes in his note that “we are under an obligation to Wolff to buy his goods”. This is a complete misunderstanding. When reading the agreement, I saw in several clauses that we have the right to check the list of goods given us by Wolff. We do not undertake the slightest obligation to buy Wolff’s goods. If Wolff fails to draw up a list of goods which we agree to buy, then the agreement extends only to that part of Wolff’s goods which we have agreed to buy. I clarified this matter in detail today both with Lezhava and Frumkin, and both have confirmed that not the slightest obligation in any sense falls on us to buy Wolff’s goods.

A similar misunderstanding on Comrade Kamenev’s part explains his allegation that Lezhava has “enhanced” his doubt. Actually there is quite a different explanation to Stomonyakov’s proposal, which is formulated on page 2 of Protocol No. 62, and which was unanimously accepted by all our economic executives. The proposal is that, in the interests of our reviving industry, Wolff should develop to the utmost the delivery to us of machine-tools and other implements necessary, for example, for the electric trust. Wolff may accept this because such an order will also give him earnings, and it happens that the German metal industry is in need of orders in general. We are absolutely in need of machine-tools and machinery for the electric trust, let us say, because this industry of ours is beginning to revive, and it is of extreme importance for us to develop this industry here, by finally reinforcing it with German means of production.

Consequently, the amendment tabled by Lezhava flows from the correctly understood economic interests of Russia, which now needs protectionism, especially for her whole light industry, because then it will be easier for us to rehabilitate this industry, thereby ensuring the interests of our proletariat. Lezhava’s amendment has nothing in common with free trade of any sort or even with the   opening of frontiers, assuming the retention of customs tariffs. At the end of his note, Comrade Kamenev writes:

The result: for a deferment of our payments to Wolff for a year, for unknown goods, we are now giving him a monopoly right to purchase and export raw materials. That is cheap.”

This is total misunderstanding. It is impossible to imagine a more advantageous agreement than the one we are concluding with Wolff. We pay him 10 per cent a year, whereas even Britain now pays 7 per cent, and the German Government pays 12 per cent. That’s the first thing. The second is that we are not buying from him any unknown goods, but only those we have checked by list and permitted for import. The third fact is that we are giving him a monopoly right to buy and export for a sharing of the profits which can have nothing to do with any kind of customs tariffs. Namely: first, we receive a 10 per cent dividend, second, we receive a 10 per cent profit, like Wolff, and third, if the profit is in excess of 40 per cent, we receive 75 per cent of the rest, whereas the consortium receives only 25 per cent.

I think the agreement with Wolff is a typical agreement with German capitalist enterprises.

Such an agreement is immensely advantageous to us if only because we receive a half share of the profits which might go up to hundreds of per cent. In the process, the interests of our reviving industry and consequently of our industrial enterprises are fully protected. There is not a trace of the devastating consequences which would flow for us even from a conditional, even from a temporary opening of the frontiers. That is why I absolutely insist on approval of the agreement with Wolff, and in view of the extreme urgency of the matter I request that this question should be raised in the Politbureau tomorrow, and enclose herewith the agreement with Wolff and Comrade Kamenev’s note.[2]

V. Ulyanov (Lenin)
Chairman, Council of People’s Commissars


[1] A reference to the agreement between the R.S.F.S.R. Government, arid a consortium of German firms headed by Otto Wolff, which was concluded in Berlin on October 9, 1922.

The protocol setting up the company was signed in Berlin on November 16, 1922. By the spring of 1923, the company had opened its branches in a number of Soviet cities, among them Moscow, Petrograd and Rostov-on-Don. The conclusion of the agreement with the Wolff consortium and its ratification created a strong impression abroad and produced a favourable atmosphere for talks with other businessmen, and companies.

However, the consortium subsequently became remiss in its obligations tinder (lie agreement, and in 1924 withdrew from the Russo-German Trading Society.

[2] The agreement with the Otto Wolff consortium was approved by a C.P.C. decree of October 19, 1922. That same day, Lenin spoke on the agreement in the Politbureau of the R.C.P.(B.) C.C., which decided: “To remove the question, in view of the agreement reached. To circulate the material on the case to Politbureau members for their information.”

The communiqué on the C.P.C.’s approval of the agreement (published in Izvestia VTsIK No. 237, October 20, 1922), which is at the Central Party Archives of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism, of the C.P.S.U. Central Committee, contains these resolutions: “Publish in the papers tomorrow, 19.X.1922. C.P.C. Chairman, V. Ulyanov (Lenin)” and “Telegraph abroad. Lenin”.

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