Baku Congress of the Peoples of the East
The meeting opened at 1.25 a.m., the members of the Congress of the Peoples of the East being present.
Chairman: Comrades, let us now proceed with our meeting. I call the assembly to order.
Allow me, comrades, to address in your name a warm fraternal greeting to our dear guests. [Applause.]
The enlarged Soviet of Workers, Red Army Mens and Sailors Deputies of Baku, together with the district Soviets and the entire Trades Union Congress of Azerbaidzhan, are glad to see at this their ceremonial meeting representatives and leaders of world Communism [Applause], as well as representatives of the Baku proletariat and of the working masses of Azerbaidzhan. Those who are present here hope and believe that, under the experienced leadership of the comrades who have come to visit us, at this time when we have begun to forge a mighty weapon for the struggle against world imperialism, we shall fulfil with honour the task which has fallen to our lot. [Applause.]
We hope, comrades, that their brief visit will help us to unite our scattered forces, and rapidly to find. the ways and means to achieve as soon as possible the victory we desire: under their leadership we shall perhaps enter sooner than we expect into the realm of Communism. Long live our leader who has come to visit us here, Comrade Zinoviev [Applause], leader of world Communism! [Ovation: the band plays the Internationale.] Long live Comrade Radek, leader of the international proletariat! [Ovation: the band plays the Internationale.]
Comrades, together with Comrades Zinoviev and Radek, we have among our visitors the leader of the Communist Party, of the Communist Revolution in Hungary, which has suffered so much under the yoke of the White-Guard tyrants, a comrade who is known to you, Comrade Bela Kun. [Ovation: the band plays the Internationale. 1
Comrades, present here besides our own delegates are representatives of the Communist Parties of Britain, Germany, France, Italy and other countries of Western Europe and America. [Applause: the band plays the Internationale.]
Comrades. present at our ceremonial meeting today along with the representatives of the proletariat of the West are delegates, assembled in congress, from the oppressed masses of the East. This alliance is for us a symbol of our fraternal unity and a pledge of lasting victory, the basis for which we are laying here today. Long live the representatives of the proletariat of the West and the representatives of the working masses of the East. [Applause: the band plays the Internationale.]
Comrades, let us shout together a greeting to all present and to all our visitors. Hurrah! [A loud Hurrah': the band plays the Internationale.] I call upon Comrade Karayev to translate my remarks into Turkic.
[Karayev translates into Turkic. The Internationale.]
Chairman: Comrade Narimanov has the floor, to bring greetings from the Azerbaidzhan Revolutionary Committee. [The Internationale.]
Narimanov: Dear comrades, I am happy to greet you in the name of the Workers and Peasants Government of Red Azerbaidzhan, and of the Central Committee. [Applause.]
Dear guests, this significant moment shows that we are close to our aim, to the triumph of the Third International. [Applause.]
Victory to the Third International! [Tumultuous applause. The Internationale.]
Chairman: Comrade Kasumov will give the Turkic translation.
[Kasumov translates into Turkic. The Internationale.]
Chairman: The next speaker will be the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, Comrade Zinoviev. [Tumultuous applause, growing into an ovation. The Internationale.]
Zinoviev: Comrades! It is not without emotion that I address this gathering of ours today.
Comrades, we who are no newcomers to the revolutionary movement naturally recall those first years of the struggle which united the workers of all the peoples of Russia in close, unbreakable fraternity with the sections of the working people who live and fight in Baku.
I greet you not only in the name of the Executive Committee of the Communist International and not only in the name of the Central Executive Committee of our Soviet Republic, but also on behalf of the workers of one of the cities of the Soviet Republic who cherish an especially warm feeling of fraternal friendship for you — the workers of the city of Petrograd. [Tumultuous applause. The Internationale.]
Comrades, in those dark years, now so far-off and yet at the same time so near to us, when we were all held in the iron grip of Tsardom, and when all the peoples of Russia lived in our country as though in a big prison, in those years, among the first proletarian centres to come forth against Tsardom, the city of Baku was far from being the least outstanding.
Every old revolutionary knows that, after Petrograd and Moscow, in our strikes, demonstrations and risings, in the revolutionary struggle, we usually named, following those two cities: Baku, Warsaw and Riga. Everyone remembers how, on the eve of 1905 and during the bourgeois revolution of 1917, and at the beginning of the October events, the detachment of our workers living and fighting in the smoke-blackened city of Baku faithfully carried out its proletarian duty to the revolution, to the working class of Russia and to the working class of the whole world.
This day we remember tens and hundreds of our best friends who came from the ranks of the Baku workers, who worked in a number of other cities, took on responsible posts in the revolution and sometimes brought back life to our all-Russia organisations when the heavy paw of the Tsarist gendarmerie lay too weightily upon us.
We remember our best friends and brothers: Shaumyan and Dzhaparidze, with whom many of us were connected for years in common revolutionary work, in common fraternal friendship, and who, as you all know, were torn from our ranks by the violent hands of hangmen and traitors to the working class. The names of such fighters of yours as Shaumyan and Dzhaparidze are on the lips of all the workers of Petrograd and Moscow, and of all Russia. The children in Soviet schools are taught to hold in respect those men who, standing at a post of glory at a hard moment of betrayal and perfidy, bravely defended the Red flag. And in those months, comrades, difficult both for you and for us, when you were cut off from your fraternal family of the working peoples inhabiting Russia, in that period the workers of Petrograd, the workers of Moscow and the workers of all Russia were sure, although they received no news from you, although the British
Press lied about you, although you were slandered by the traitor press of the Mensheviks, the SRs and all the other Judases who have betrayed the workers cause — we knew very well that this slander was not true of you: we knew very well that here the workers of Baku were not surrendering but were awaiting the moment when they could get their own back and stretch out once more a fraternal hand to the workers of all Russia and the whole world. And, comrades, we were not deceived. We know that in the few short months and weeks that have passed since you were liberated you have again taken your place in the ranks, again assumed your rightful place, one of the most honourable, among the worlds proletarians, among the peoples of Russia! [Applause.]
I mentioned Warsaw. Comrades, at the present time the White Guard flag still flies over Warsaw. Many of us, like the workers of other peoples, were worried at the setbacks our Red Army suffered before the walls of Warsaw.
You know that our army swept forward almost to those very walls, but that Polish capitalism, helped by the British, whom you know well, helped by French officers, whom you also know, helped by the bourgeoisie of the whole world, whom we all hate, dealt a blow to our Red Army and forced it briefly to retreat. But, comrades, our forces have again gathered strength, and, if all the signs are not deceptive, and if it is possible to speak on the basis of previous experience, we can say: not months but only weeks will have to pass before our Red Army stretches out its red hand once more towards Warsaw. [Tumultuous applause. The Internationale.]
Comrades, the war against White Poland is being waged, formally speaking, by the Russian Soviet Federal Republic, but in reality it is not merely a war between the Russian Socialist Republic and the White Polish Republic, but a war of labour against capital.
The Second World Congress of the Communist International, which recently ended its sessions in Moscow, and at which 37 countries were represented, declared to the whole world: the war of the Russian Soviet Republic against White Poland is our war, is the war of the Communist International against the bourgeoisie, against the imperialists of the whole world.
And I, comrades, am profoundly convinced that our congress of the working masses of the Eastern peoples will support this call and say: Yes, the war of the Russian Soviet Republic against White Poland is not only the war of the proletarians of the West but also the war of the working masses of the peoples of the East against our common oppressors! [Tumultuous applause. The Internationale.]
Comrades, the Communist International was founded only a year and a half ago. At the First Congress we were still a propaganda society, we were only a group of people who were beginning to make propaganda for our ideas — in a variety of countries there were already Communist trends, but there were as yet no strong Communist Parties.
After a mere year and a half, at the Second Congress of the Communist International in Moscow, as I have already told you, we had representatives of organised Communist Parties and groups from 37 countries in Europe and America. We have with us all those who are honest and steeled in battle, all who are strong and ready to come to grips with the bourgeoisie throughout Europe and America.
And now, here in Baku, we are taking a second step forward. We do not want to become like the heroes of the Second International traitors who sold the flag to the enemy. We are mindful that in the world there are living not only people with white skins, not only the Europeans whom the Second International took particularly into account; in addition, there are also in the world hundreds of millions of people who live in Asia and Africa. We want to put an end to the rule of capital everywhere in the world. And this will become possible only when we have lit the fire of revolution not merely in Europe and America but throughout the world, and when behind us march all the working people of Asia and Africa.
The Communist International wants to unite under its banners speakers of all the languages of the world. The Communist International is sure that under its flag will rally not only the proletarians of Europe but also the mighty mass of our reserves, our infantry — the hundreds of millions of peasants who live in Asia, our Near and Far East.
To your city has fallen the great honour of serving as the gate through which the Western proletariat is passing in order to extend its hand to the peasantry of the East. Your city is now the scene of new events, previously unknown in the history of mankind: representatives have assembled here from the hundreds of millions of peasants of the East who have learnt the lessons of the war and have understood that it is necessary to seize capital by the throat and kneel on its chest! We must put an end, once for all, to the shame of capitalism.
We are sure that those peasants who today are still illiterate and do not yet know our programme, but know very well that they have been slaughtered for hundreds of years to the greater glory of capital — that those tens and hundreds of millions of peasants of Asia will now take up the call that has reached them from the organised vanguard of the West European and American proletariat. The peoples of the East will come together in fraternal unity and forget everything that formerly divided them. They will forget the hatred that was artificially sustained among them by the capitalists, and will remember that we need a single union of the working people not only of Asia and Europe but of the whole world, so as to put an end to capitalism and begin to build a new and better life.
At the present time the Communist International could not choose a more appropriate place than Baku for the embattled people of the West to meet the awakening peoples of the East.
The Baku Soviet is certainly well aware of the historic importance of this moment and is doing everything in its power to create the atmosphere of unanimity and brotherhood in which a fraternal union of the proletarians of Europe with the peoples of the East will come into being.
I am sure that the workers of Baku, who have made so many sacrifices, will be glad that the Congress of the Peoples of the East is being held in their city, in Baku. They are thereby rewarded for the many trials they have suffered, over and above those that have been the lot of the workers of other cities.
The Second Congress of the Communist International made no mistake when it appointed the holding of this congress in Baku. Its voice will be heard in London, in Paris, in Constantinople and in New York. At first, perhaps, the imperialist gentlemen, who habitually stop their ears, will try to hush it up, but the East will know how to speak out so loudly that all the cotton wool will fall out of the diplomatic ears of the British and French imperialists. They will have to learn that the East wants no longer to serve as a field for exploitation by the worlds beasts of prey, that historically decisive days have arrived.
Comrades, you are honoured to be living through a moment when millions of workers and peasants from all the Western countries are uniting with the hundreds of millions who make up the peoples of the East. Upon this moment depends the destiny of the world in the years that lie ahead. Let us give all that we can for the success of this alliance!
Let us get down to the work of organising this congress. May the Eastern peoples realise that a new era has dawned, that a new page has been turned in the history of mankind, that the sun of Communism shines not only for the proletarians of the West but also for the working peasants of the whole world!
Long live the fraternal union of the peoples of the East!
Long live the unity of the hundreds of millions of peasants of the East with the millions of proletarians of the West!
May this alliance prove unbreakable. May the rule of capital perish forever. And may that order soon prevail, the bearer of which is the Communist International, created by the working people of the whole world! [Tumultuous applause.]
Chairman: Comrade Radek will deliver a speech of welcome.
Radek: The Congress of the Peoples of the East has been convened at an historical moment of exceptional gravity. The duel between the workers and peasants of Russia and the capitalist world — first and foremost with British capital has passed through many stages, depending on the degree of strength possessed by Soviet Russia. British capitalism thought it could crush us either by armed force or by diplomatic negotiations. During the past year we experienced a tremendous wave of intervention by the Entente. Paid by the British capitalists, the armies of Denikin, Yudenich and Kolchak tried to throw down Soviet Russia. But the consciousness of Soviet Russias working-class masses and of her advanced peasants wrested victory, by the hand of the Red Army, from the worlds lord, Capital, which thought this victory was within its grasp. Then they began to talk with us, to conduct peaceful negotiations, but at the same time they unleashed against Soviet Russia a new bloodhound White Poland. When the Red Army began to force White Poland to retreat, peace with Soviet Russia seemed to draw near once more, but since our first setbacks we have seen that British imperialism is again trying to terrorise us.
Warsaw seemed to be the nodal point of the struggle between Moscow and London. But at the very moment when the Red Army is Preparing for a fresh offensive, which will show British imperialism that it still exists, that Soviet Russia is still strong, and stronger than ever — at that very moment we are showing here, at the Congress of the Peoples of the East, here in Baku, that Soviet Russia, that is, the world proletariat, whose representative Soviet Russia is, possesses a second sword as well the revolt of the peoples who lived under the tyranny of world capitalism, and of British capitalism first and foremost. Soviet Russia approaches these peoples with fraternal words, it approaches them as brothers, as comrades in struggle. 10 The voice of the representatives assembled here, of the Red working masses of the whole East will tell British capitalism, will tell world capital, that the proletariat in revolt will strike at it not only in the streets of Europes metropolitan cities but also in the villages and towns of Asia.
These millions in chains, whom they looked upon as slaves who were to be denied human rights, see that we, comrades, approach them in a different way from the way the bourgeoisie once approached them. You know that after the Great French Revolution, when Napoleons France went to war against Britain, when young French imperialism approached the peoples of the East, approached Persia and India, it made contact only with the governments of those countries, which exploited the masses of the people. When, later on in the nineteenth century, the governments of Britain or Germany, in the course of the struggle between them, turned their eyes towards the East, they had one guiding idea: to strengthen their forces for this struggle. And the peoples of the East shed their blood; but they shed it not for themselves but so that one of the imperialist scoundrels might be victorious over the other. We approach these peoples not in order to use their strength for our struggle against capitalism, but in order to help them to escape not only from the yoke of capital but also from medieval relations, from the yoke of feudalism and ignorance, and to give them the opportunity to begin living as human beings. We approach them knowing that the young Communist world which is being born amid unheard-of suffering cannot yet bring them the wealth of the West, that this has still to be created, but we approach them so as to free them from the yoke of capital, to help them build a new, free fife in whatever way they will consider corresponds to the interests of their working masses.
The city of Baku was not designated by accident when we planned the Congress of the Peoples of the East. Here in Baku, where for many years Persians, Turks and Tatars have worked, here in Baku where capitalism bullied and exploited these workers, socialist ideas also came to them at the same time, and found a common response in their hearts.
We know how the socialist revolution was born here in Baku, how the idea of struggle against Russian Tsardom spread from here, and how workers returning to Persia took with them this idea of struggle not only against Tsardom but against capitalism too, for the emancipation of all peoples from every kind of yoke. We are certain that this workers city, which saw, on the one hand, unprecedented luxury on the part of the bourgeoisie, and, on the other, the most miserable conditions of existence for the workers and the whole people, that this city will be an arena of international revolution, that from here will flow an electric current of political awareness, that here will be set up the banner of struggle for the liberation of the East which the Communist International has entrusted to the Baku proletariat, that experienced fighter for the liberation of the working people.
Long live the Baku proletariat! Long live these front-rank fighters for the liberation of the peoples of the East! [Applause].
Chairman: Comrade Karayev will give the Turkic translation.
[Karayev translates into Turkic. Applause.]
Chairman: I call upon the leader of Soviet Hungary, which was born amid the fires of the terrible world war, Comrade Bela Kun. [Applause: the band plays the Internationale.]
A voice: Long live Soviet Hungary! Hurrah! [The band plays the Internationale.]
A voice: Vivat! Hurrah! [Applause.]
Béla Kun: Comrades, though I speak Russian very badly, please allow me to greet you in the language of the international revolution — in the Russian language. [Applause.]
Comrades, I greet you in the name of the most oppressed of proletarians, those of White Hungary. When Soviet power began in Hungary you, very probably, knew little about us. Few people in the East knew about those who were occupying the advanced positions of the international revolution, for during the period of Soviet power in Hungary you were being oppressed by Denikin, by the British and French imperialists and their hirelings — our enemies, your oppressors. You did not know all that was happening. If, comrades, you remember what was done in Baku by Denikins men and by the British generals and officers who ruled in this place at that time and are now in prison here, then you will know what our Denikinites did, under the leadership of the American [sic] Horthy and of British and French generals and officers. just as happened here, comrades, so in Hungary thousands and thousands of workers were slaughtered; just as here, our proletarians and peasants were crushed; and just as, during the White Terror in Azerbaidzhan, you looked forward to receiving help, so did our workers and peasants look forward to receiving help from the international proletariat, to liberation by them.
Comrades, in White Hungary the revolution will rise again, the proletarian revolution will Eve again, and we, the Hungarian proletarians, hope that this congress in Baku will secure the rear of the international revolution in the West, and that the fraternal alliance of the proletarians and peasants of the East and of the West — this Red Army of the East will also go forward along with us against all the imperialists and capitalists, against the hirelings of imperialism and capitalism.
Long live this fraternal alliance of the peoples of East and West! Long five the Communist International! Long live Red Azerbaidzhan! [Ovation; applause; the band plays the Internationale.]
Chairman: Comrade Sultanov will translate.
[Sultanov translates into Turkic.]
Chairman: I call upon the representative of the Communist Party of Great Britain, Comrade Quelch. [Applause: the band plays the Internationale.]
[Quelch speaks in English. Tumultuous applause. The Internationale.]
Chairman: Comrade Petrov will translate into Russian.
Petrov: Comrade Quelch expresses his gratitude for the reception you have given him as the representative of the British Communist Party, and, for his part, greets you on behalf of the British Communists and of the British working class. [Tumultuous applause.]
The British working class, says Comrade Quelch, is very slow to get going, but when once it starts to move there is no force in the world capable of stopping it. [Tumultuous applause.]
At a certain moment, says Comrade Quelch, the British capitalists, the British Government threatened Soviet Russia with war. And what happened? A Council of Action of the British working class was formed, and we have heard no more of that threat from the British Government. The British working class is against war, the British working class is on the side of Soviet Russia. It knows very well that the British capitalists, the British imperialists have oppressed and are now oppressing Ireland, Egypt and a number of other countries. But the struggle of the British working class, which is advancing hand in hand with the working class of Russia and other countries, portends the downfall of British imperialism in the near future. [Tumultuous applause.]
The social revolution in Britain is near at hand. The congress of representatives of the Eastern people in Baku gives a fresh spur to it, and he hopes that the movement of the Eastern peoples will also contribute to sweeping away the British imperialists. [Tumultuous applause.]
He concludes his speech with: Long live Soviet Russia! Long live the world revolution! [Tumultuous applause. The Internationale.]
Chairman: Comrade Karayev will translate into Turkic.
[Karayev gives the Turkic translation.]
Chairman: I call upon the representative of the Balkan Communist Federation, Comrade Shablin. [Tumultuous applause. The Internationale']
[Shablin speaks in Bulgarian. Tumultuous applause. The Internationale.]
Chairman: I think everyone understood, and so no translation is required. Comrade Karayev will translate into Turkic.
[Karayev gives the Turkic translation.]
Chairman: I call upon the representative of the French Communist Party, Comrade Rosmer. [Tumultuous applause. The Internationale.
[Rosmer speaks in French.]
Pavlovich: Comrade Rosmer says: The cordial greeting you have given me will touch the hearts of the proletarians of France.
Hitherto you have known and felt the consequences of one alliance, that between the French bourgeoisie and the Russian counter-revolution. But now the French proletariat has begun to rouse itself. It is groaning beneath the oppression of the bourgeoisie, which is striving to prevent it from allying with the Russian proletariat.
Comrade Rosmer refers to the example of the French sailors who were sent to bombard the maritime cities of Soviet Russia. They refused to carry out this order, and for that 46 of them were shot, while 340 are still languishing in the casemates of Frances convict prisons.
The news of the heroic exploit of these sailors rang like a tocsin all through France, arousing vigour and revolutionary initiative in tens of thousands of workers, and finding a passionate response in the towns and in the villages.
The workers of France know and feel that Soviet Russia is the friend and ally of the world proletariat. And today Soviet Russia is the country the French proletariat love best. When the French railwaymen went on strike recently, they said: We want to leave capitalist France; we ask to be sent to Soviet Russia; we shall starve, be tormented and suffer there along with the Russian proletarians, but we shall at least know that we are suffering so that Soviet Russia may flourish.'
Capitalist France, ruined by the war and on the brink of economic bankruptcy, nevertheless dreams of strengthening its position by an alliance with the counter-revolutionary clique of agents of the Entente, Wrangel and others, but this alliance has been smashed, the link has been broken, and in place of this alliance a new alliance is developing — between the proletariat of Russia and that of France and all countries.
Long live the international proletariat!
Long live the Communist International!
[Loud shouts of Hurrah and applause.]
Chairman: I call upon the representative of America, John Reed. [Applause]
[John Reed speaks in English, but ending in Russian with: Long live the international Red Army! Applause.]
Chairman: Comrade Petrov will translate.
Petrov: Comrade Reed begins his speech with these words: What does Baku mean? Baku means oil, and American capitalism is striving to establish a world monopoly of oil. On account of oil, blood is flowing. A struggle is being waged for oil, and the American bankers and the American capitalists are everywhere trying to conquer the places and enslave the peoples wherever oil is to be found. Comrade Radek says that he would have liked to see Mexico represented as well at this congress in Baku — that Mexico which is now almost entirely in the grip of American capitalism, which has seized Mexican oil. But Comrade John Reed says: in Baku there are no more capitalists and this oil no longer belongs to the capitalists. If this can be done, he exclaims, in Baku, in Russia, why can such a social order not be achieved in America and throughout the world? [Applause.] The East, he says, will help us overthrow capitalism in Western Europe and America, the foundations of which he in the exploitation of the East. As soon as the Eastern peoples rise in revolt, the last foundations of capitalism will collapse, and then the peoples will endeavour to create a social order in which not only oil but everything produced by human hands will belong to the working masses. [Applause.]
Chairman: The translation into Turkic will be made by Comrade Sultan-Zade.
[Sultan-Zade translates into Turkic. Applause.]
Chairman: I call upon the representative of the Communist Party of Austria, Comrade Steinhardt [Gruber].
[Steinhardt speaks in German.]
Chairman: Comrade Steinhardt greets you in the name of the Austrian workers. He says that the working class in Austria, as also in Germany, has had great opportunities for using cultural knowledge for the benefit of the working class. The working class has been in a very much better position there. But neither in Germany nor in Austria have they yet achieved what the Russian workers have achieved in the Soviet Republic. The bourgeoisie in Germany and also in Austria is better organised, it is stronger, and so the struggle of the working class is much more difficult there. The working class of Austria has fought resolutely and is still fighting, it has shed an enormous amount of blood — but it has not yet won victory over the bourgeoisie.
Just recently, in Moscow, from where Comrade Steinhardt came to Baku, world events of the greatest importance took place. The Second Congress of the Communist International was held there. At that congress the basis was laid for an international army of the proletarian revolution.
The world revolution and the working class march under the banner of the teaching of Karl Marx. The leader of a detachment of the armed forces of this army is Comrade Trotsky. Incidentally, I forgot to say that Comrade Steinhardt spoke of the general staff of this world proletarian army, the chairman of which you comrades in Baku have the pleasure of seeing in the person of Comrade Zinoviev.
Today, says Comrade Steinhardt, the congress of peoples of the East is a new form of this world struggle of the oppressed against capitalism. It is a blow struck directly at the British and French imperialists, who are the particular oppressors of the Eastern peoples. In the East, says Comrade Steinhardt, the sun of freedom has risen and is casting its beams westward. In the East decisions of the common, international congress of the Communist International will be realised. Comrade Steinhardt concludes his speech with: Long live the world Soviet Republic! Long live Red Azerbaidzhan!
Chairman [sic]: Comrades, the list of the speakers is concluded. We are rather tired. Our dear guests are also tired from their journey. I think we can close the meeting.
Comrades, allow me to thank on your behalf our comrades who have arrived among us here after long and hard travelling, in order to pour new strength into our veins and to help us, when we have absorbed this new strength, to carry on still further with our gigantic, stubborn and difficult struggle.
I greet you, comrades, in Red, revolutionary Baku, which is now lighting up the paths of revolution for the entire East — you, the incendiaries of Communist revolution and its leaders, our comrades Zinoviev, Radek, Bela Kun and the rest who are present here. [Applause: The band plays the Internationale']
Comrades, let us break up to the sound of our anthem, the Internationale! [They sing the Internationale.]
The meeting ended at 3.30 a.m.