Vladimir Ilyich Lenin



To:   L. D. TROTSKY[2]

Dictated: Dictated by phone on March 5, 1923
Published: Printed from a typewritten copy.
Source: Lenin's Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1976, Moscow, Volume 45, page 607a.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2000). 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.

Top secret

Dear Comrade Trotsky:

It is my earnest request that you should undertake the defence of the Georgian case in the Party C.C. This case is now under “persecution” by Stalin and Dzerzhinsky, and I cannot rely on their impartiality. Quite to the contrary. I would feel at ease if you agreed to undertake its defence. If you should refuse to do so for any reason, return the whole case to me. I shall consider it a sign that you do not accept.[3]

With best comradely greetings


[1] A separate sheet, appended to the present letter, contains this note by a secretary: “Comrade Trotsky: To the letter communicated to you by phone, Vladimir Ilyich asked to add for your information that Comrade Kamenev is going to Georgia on Wednesday, and wants to know whether you wish to send anything there yourself. March  5, 23.”—Ed.

[2] The letter is connected with the “Georgian question”.

After the October (1922) Plenum of the R.C.P.(B.) Central Committee, there was a sharpening of the conflict between the Transcaucasian Territorial Committee of the R.C.P.(B.) and the Mdivani group (see Note 723). Having met with resistance from the Georgian Communists, the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of Georgia, on which the Mdivani group had a majority, resigned on October 22 on the plea of its differences with the Transcaucasian Territorial Committee. Mdivani’s supporters lodged a complaint with the R.C.P.(B.) Central Committee. On November 25, 1922, the Politbureau adopted a decision to send a commission to Georgia, with F. E. Dzerzhinsky at its head, to examine urgently the statements by members of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party who had   resigned, and to work out measures to establish tranquility in the Georgian Communist Party.

Lenin was highly anxious over the “Georgian question”. On December 12, Dzerzhinsky reported to Lenin the results of his trip. Lenin was dissatisfied with the work of the commission, believing that it had taken a biased approach to the conflict, and had failed to note the grave errors made by G. K. Orjonikidze. Lenin connected the “Georgian question” with the general question of establishing the U.S.S.R., expressing alarm over whether the principles of proletarian internationalism would be consistently implemented in the unification of the Republics. In his letter, “The Question of Nationalities, or ‘Autonomisation’”, he censured Orjonikidze’s action and the connivance at it on the part of the Dzerzhinsky Commission, and of Stalin. Lenin placed the political responsibility for the whole affair chiefly on Stalin, who was the C.C. Secretary General, with reference to his grave mistakes in unifying the Republics (see present edition, Vol. 36, pp. 605–11).

Lenin, far from supporting, in fact criticised the fundamentally erroneous stand of Mdivani and his supporters on various aspects of the Transcaucasian Federation and the formation of the U.S.S.R. (see this volume, Document 777); but considering that at the time the main danger lay in dominant-nation chauvinism, and that the task of fighting the latter was to be shouldered mainly by the Communists of the formerly dominant nation, Lenin concentrated attention on the mistakes made by Stalin, Dzerzhinsky and Orjonikidze on the “Georgian question”. He pointed out that in this matter, especially when, in connection with the unification of the Republics, there was need for “particular circumspection, tact and tractability”, and that “in this case it is better to overdo the tractability and mildness in treating the national minorities than to underdo them”. That is the context in which to view Lenin’s words about his being “on the side of the ‘offended’ in the ‘Georgian conflict’” (see this volume, Document 814, and also Collected Works, Fifth (Russian) Edition, Vol. 45, p. 486).

Lenin’s letter to Trotsky was written in connection with the forthcoming discussion of the “Georgian question” at a Plenum of the R.C.P.(B.) Central Committee.

[3] This letter was read to Trotsky the same day on the phone by Maria Volodicheva, assistant secretary of the C.L.D. and the C.P.C. On the plea of ill health, Trotsky said he could not undertake such an obligation.

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