Baku Congress of the Peoples of the East
The session opened at 7.30 p.m. Comrade Zinoviev took the chair. Before the session began, the band played the Internationale.
Chairman: I declare the Seventh Session of the Congress of the Peoples of the East open. Today we have to deal with one of the most important, perhaps the most important matter for our Congress, namely, the setting-up of a permanent executive organ of the Congress of the Peoples of the East. We want to leave behind, after the Congress has dispersed, an organ that can continue the work so splendidly begun by our historic Congress.
We are sure that this Congress will not be the last but only the first of its kind, that we shall convene Congresses of the Peoples of the East not less frequently than once a year, and in order that the work of revolutionary propaganda, agitation and struggle for the liberation of the East may go on in the intervals between Congresses, we propose that the First Congress of the Peoples of the East set up a permanent Council for Propaganda and Action of the Peoples of the East. Both of the fractions and the Presidium have discussed this question, and we propose that the following resolution be adopted: The First Congress of the Peoples of the East resolves to form, under the aegis of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, a permanent organ uniting the peoples of the East to be called the Council for Propaganda of the Peoples of the East. The council will be made up as follows (the secretary will read the list of members separately); that means that 47 persons will be elected to it. Eastern peoples not represented at the First Congress are entitled to send delegates to the Council in addition to these.
The Council for Propaganda and Action will organise propaganda throughout the East, publish a journal, to be called Narody Vostoka (The Peoples of the East) in three languages, organising the publication of pamphlets, leaflets, etc., support and unify the liberation movement throughout the East, organise a university of the social sciences for activists in the East, and so on. The Council for Propaganda and Action of the Peoples of the East will be centred at Baku until the next Congress of the Peoples of the East, which will be held not later than one year from now.
Plenary (full) meetings of the Council for Propaganda and Action, to deal with all matters arising, will be held not less often than every three months, in Baku.
Between plenary meetings of the Council for Propaganda and Action all questions will be dealt with by a presidium of seven, to be elected by the Council.
The Council will organise branches in Tashkent and in other places where these may be needed.
All the Councils work will be carried on under the guidance and supervision of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, which will appoint two of the seven members of the Councils Presidium, and these representatives will have the right of veto.
Particular groups may not have been given adequate representation in this list, and, as always happens at large congresses, there are a few minor complaints and claims that small groups have not been represented or that not all those nominated have been chosen.
This is inevitable at a large congress, but altogether we have spent more than one session working on this list, and both fractions are convinced that the maximum possible fairness has been achieved, and that with a composition like this we can form an organ capable of carrying out the task entrusted to it.
We are giving the Council a colossal task to perform, and I am sure that the organisation we are about to set up will have a great future before it. Today it is still an insufficiently centralized organisation, but tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, and every day in the course of the development of the liberation movement in the East, the Council for Propaganda and Action which we are forming today will become a real great power of the peoples of the East.
[The Internationale. ] [Translation.]
Chairman: Comrades, we shall read the list a little later, so that some few changes which are now needed can be made. I request the Congress to confirm the proposal to set up a Council for Propaganda and Action in the form which has been explained. Who is in favour of this proposal? Anyone against? Adopted.
Comrades, during these last two days, in which our Congress has been meeting, events of major importance have taken place in Bukhara, and two Bukharan comrades will now be called upon to give the Congress of the Peoples of the East a brief account of these events. First, Comrade Rodzhabov.
Rodzhabov [speaking in Turkic]: Comrades, very important events have taken place in Bukhara. Bukhara the Magnificent, that wellspring of learning which a few centuries ago was named the Magnificent and regarded as a centre of learning, has for some years now been transformed into a mere wretched kishlak. This has happened because a despotic form of government has existed in Bukhara. The Emir of Bukhara has ruled in such a way that out of the 25 million inhabitants only five million have in recent times been left under his yoke. The remaining 20 million have been split up and conquered by the imperialists and the Russian Imperial Government. Imperialism has seized purely Bukharan dominions. Until now the Bukharans have not led a human existence, they have been oppressed, they wept day and night and were unable to live like people in other countries.
Now things have changed. After the October Revolution the Emir of Bukhara sought his happiness under the wing of the British imperialists, sent presents to British officers and so on, but nevertheless the people continued to be oppressed. The workers made their preparations, and now they have done what needed to be done. and we see the revolution already on the march in Bukhara. Bukhara, Karshi, Chardzhui, Khatyrchi and Kerki have been captured by the Red troops. The red flag is flying from the towers of these five towns hoisted there by the Soviet and workers forces.
Comrades, the workers and peasants of the Red Army greet you on this day! The peoples of Bukhara have been freed at last — and the other peoples will very soon be freed as well! [The Internationale]
Chairman: The other representative of Bukhara, Comrade Dzhabar-Zade, will now speak.
[Dzhabar-Zade speaks in Uzbek.]
Kizi-Zade [interpreter]: I will just say that Comrade Dzhabar-Zade confined himself to greeting us. The rest of his speech was concerned only with the events which are now happening in Bukhara and which we know about from what the previous speaker said, and so I think there is no need for a translation.
Chairman: The Presidium has decided also to call upon a representative of the women, Comrade Nadzhiya. [Applause.]
[Nadzhiya speaks in Turkish. Her speech is interrupted by applause.]
Chairman: I call upon Comrade Shabanova.
Shabanova: Comrades, Comrade Nadzhiya, said: The womens movement beginning in the East must not be looked at from the standpoint of those frivolous feminists who are content to see womans place in social life as that of a delicate plant or an elegant doll. This movement must be seen as a serious and necessary consequence of the revolutionary movement which is taking place throughout the world. The women of the East are not merely fighting for the right to walk in the street without wearing the chadra, as many people suppose. For the women of the East, with their high moral ideals, the question of the chadra, it can be said, is of the least importance. If the women who form half of every community are opposed to the men and do not have the same rights as they have, then it is obviously impossible for society to progress: the backwardness of Eastern societies is irrefutable proof of this.
Comrades, you can be sure that all our efforts and labours to realize new forms of social life, however sincere and however vigorous our endeavours may be, will remain without result if you do not summon the women to become real helpers in your work.
Owing to the conditions caused by the war, in Turkey women have been obliged to quit the home and the household and take on the performance of a variety of social duties. The fact that women have had to take over the responsibilities of the men who have been called up for military service, and especially the fact that women in the roadless localities of Anatolia which are inaccessible even to pack-animals have been themselves dragging artillery equipment and munitions to where the troops need them cannot, of course, be called a step forward in the conquest of equal rights for women: people who see the fact that women are making up with their labour for the shortage of beasts of burden as contributing to the cause of equal rights for women are unworthy of our attention. We do not deny that at the beginning of the 1908 revolution some measures were introduced for womens benefit. In view, however, of the ineffectiveness and inadequacy of these measures we do not regard them as highly significant.
The opening of one or two lower and higher schools for women in the capital and in the provinces, and even the opening of a university for women, does not accomplish one thousandth part of what still needs to be done. From the Turkish Government, whose actions are based on the oppression and exploitation of the weaker by the stronger, one cannot, of course, expect more fundamental or serious measures on behalf of women held in bondage.
But we know, too, that the position of our sisters in Persia, Bukhara, Khiva, Turkestan, India and other Moslem countries is even worse. However, the injustice done to us and to our sisters has not remained unpunished. Proof of this is to be. seen in the backwardness and decline of all the countries of the East. Comrades, you must know that the evil done to women has never passed and will never pass without retribution.
Because the session of the Congress of the Peoples of the East is drawing to its close we are obliged through lack of time to refrain from discussing the position of women in the various countries of the East. But let the comrade delegates who are entrusted with the great mission of taking back to their homelands the great principles of the revolution not forget that all the efforts they devote to winning happiness for the peoples will remain fruitless unless there is real help from the women. The Communists consider it necessary, in order to get rid of all misfortunes, to create a classless society, and to this end they declare relentless war against all the bourgeois and privileged elements. The women Communists of the East have an even harder battle to wage because, in addition, they have to fight against the despotism of their menfolk. If you, men of the East, continue now, as in the past, to be indifferent to the fate of women, you can be sure that our countries will perish, and you and us together with them: the alternative is for us to begin, together with all the oppressed, a bloody life-and-death struggle to win our rights by force. I win briefly set forth the womens demands. If you want to bring about your own emancipation, listen to our demands and render us real help and co-operation.
1) Complete equality of rights.
2) Ensuring for women unconditional opportunity to make use of the educational and vocational-training institutions established for men.
3) Equality of rights of both parties to marriage. Unconditional abolition of polygamy.
4) Unconditional admission of women to employment in legislative and administrative institutions.
5) Everywhere, in cities, towns and villages, committees for the rights and protection of women to be established.
Undoubtedly we can ask for all of this. The Communists, recognising that we have equal rights, have reached out their hand to us, and we women will prove their most loyal comrades. True, we may be stumbling in pathless darkness, we may be standing on the brink of yawning chasms, but we are not afraid, because we know that in order to see the dawn one has to pass through the dark night.
Chairman: Comrades, Comrade Bibinur will also speak, on behalf of the women of Turkestan. [Tumultuous applause. ]
Bibinur [In Turkic]: I bring you greetings, dear comrades, from the working women, both Russian and Moslem, of the town of Aulie-Ata.
Dear comrades, you have gathered here in this Congress of the Peoples of the East to take decisions about the tremendous tasks that confront you. You represent the very best forces of the toiling and oppressed masses. All the oppressed nationalities of the East who have been ruthlessly exploited by Tsarism and imperialism for hundreds of years look to you, their deputies, with hope.
We, the women of the East, are exploited ten times worse than the men, and the ugly sides of the life led by those recluses, the Moslem women of the East, affect us more closely.
But now, dear comrades, a bright sun has reached us, warming and comforting us like little children in their cradles. It is the first we have known, it is the power of the Soviets of workers, peasants and dekkhans deputies. The Soviet power is our mother and we are its children. The soul of this Soviet power, the liberator and vanguard of the working people of the whole world, is the Russian Communist Party and the valiant Red Army, which has won justice for the oppressed with the blood of its fraternal workers. We too must fight tirelessly, working for the emancipation of all the oppressed peoples of the East. We women have awakened from our nightmare of oppression, and every day are strengthening your ranks with our best forces. We look forward to your fruitful work.
Long live the Congress of Peoples of the Red East!
Long live all the oppressed peoples of the East! Long live the Third International!
Long live the womens section of the town of Aulie-Ata and of all Turkestan!
Chairman: We shall now proceed to establish the list of members of the Council of Propaganda and Action of the Peoples of the East. I call on Comrade Ostrovsky.
Ostrovosky: Here is the list of members of the Council for Action and Propaganda in the East. I shall read first the members of the Communist fraction, and then those of the non-Party members.
1) Ismail Hakki and 2) Suleiman Nuri, both from Turkey.
3) Haidar Khan and 4) Sultan-Zade, both from Persia.
5) Aga-Zade (Afghanistan).
6) Narimanov and 7) Guseinov, both from Azerbaidzhan.
8) Rakhmanov (Khiva).
9) Abdur-Rashidov (Uzbek, from Ferghana region).
10) Dzhurabayev (Tadzhik, from Samarkand region).
11) Ryskulov (Kirghiz, from Syr-Darya and Semirechiye regions).
12) Karpov (Turkmen, from Transcaspian region).
13) Acharya (India).
14) Makharadze (Georgia).
15) Avis (Armenia).
16) Dzhabar-Zade (Bukhara).
17) Krimazov and 18) Gobiyev, both from Daghestan.
19) Mansurov (Daghestan).
20) Khamzatov (Chechnia).
21) Cherkas (Kuban).
22) Amru-Sanan (Kalmuck Republic).
23) Genikoy (Tatar Republic).
24) Ibragimov (Bashkiria).
25) Dzhanuzakov (Kara-Kirghizia).
26) Ostrovsky (Oriental Jews).
27) The Kirghiz Republic.
28) Mamedov (Crimea).
29) Shabanova (Moslem women).
30) Pavlovich (Communist International)
31) Kirov (Communist International)
32) Ordzhonikdze (Communist International)
33) Stasova (Communist International)
34) Yeleyeva (Communist International)
35) Skachko (Communist International)
From the non-Party fraction:
36) Baka-Shakir (Turkey).
37) Narbutabekov and 38) Makhmudov, both from Turkestan.
39) Musayev and 40) Yelchiyev, both from Azerbaidzhan.
41) Kara-Tadzhiyev (Afghanistan).
42) Abdulayev (Khiva).
43) Nazir Sidiq (India).
44) Abas-Hadzhi (Bukhara).
45) Khenzatov (Terek).
46) Wang (China).
47) Khadzhan-Kuliyev (Turkmen).
48) Kubse-Osman. (Kighizia).
Chairman: Please be so good as to hand in to the Presidium any amendments necessary. I will take a vote on the list as a whole. All in favour of the list as a whole? Anyone against?
[Voices from above: In the case of Persia it is irregular.]
Chairman: Please stop all this noise immediately at this moment when the Congress of the Peoples of the East is electing its first Council. Comrades, in an assembly of two thousand people there will always be two or three to shout: Irregular! The Council has been properly elected. Long live the Council for Propaganda and Action! [Applause. The Internationale.] Comrades, it has been proposed that we send greetings to the Red Army. I call upon Comrade Tadzhiyev.
Tadzhiyev [in Turkic]: The First Congress of the Peoples of the East sends greetings to the valiant Red Army of the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic. The peoples of the East, who have been tormented for so long by the armies of the European powers, greet the Red Army as their deliverer. The Congress asks every Red warrior, on whatever front he is fighting, to remember that millions of people in the East are following his struggle with bated breath, looking forward to the moment when the military situation will permit the Red Army to turn its weapons to the task of liberating the peoples of the East. The Red Army of the workers and peasants is today the only bulwark of these peoples against international imperialism and it is the first priority and responsibility of all the peoples of the East to strengthen this bulwark.
Honour and glory to every Red soldier and every Red commander! The sons of the East, oppressed, but thirsting for freedom, await you!
Bela Kun: Long live the Red Army! [Shouts of Hurrah. Applause.]
Tadzhiyev: If this gathering approves the text of the telegram, the Presidium intends to send it to the Red Army. [Voices: Please do that, Hurrah.]
Chairman: Allow me to consider the telegram as adopted.
Voice: Send greetings to Comrade Lenin.'
Voice: Send greetings to the leader of the Red Army, Comrade Trotsky.'
Chairman: Allow me to consider that proposal as adopted. I now call on Comrade Yegorov to make an unscheduled statement on behalf of the Baku Soviet of Workers and Red Army Mens Deputies.
Yegorov: Dear comrades, a short time ago, at the beginning of this historic session, you took a decision in which it was explicitly stated that, as the location for the Council for Action and Propaganda in the East which you had elected, you chose the city of Baku. Allow me, comrades, to express to you, on behalf of the Baku Soviet, our profound Communist gratitude for the confidence in the proletariat of Baku which you have shown by taking this decision. [Applause.]
We, comrades, the Baku workers, are proud that the First Congress of the Peoples of the East has met in our Red capital, that it was here, in our Red Baku, that the foundation was laid for the future liberation of the entire oppressed East. [Applause.] We are proud that for the location of your Council, the place from which it will carry on its revolutionary struggle, the residence of the general staff of this struggle, you have chosen — Baku.
The Baku proletariat has made no few sacrifices and efforts for the cause of its own emancipation, for the emancipation of the Azerbaidzhanian and Turkish people. And now it will contribute no few sacrifices and efforts for the emancipation of the East from the yoke of the capitalists.
The sacred banner of bloody war which has been handed over to them here at the Congress will be taken up by the Baku workers as a call summoning them to this holy war. I am confident that I can assure you, comrades, that this banner will not fall from the grasp of the Baku workers, who have already proved by their revolutionary struggle in the past how firmly they uphold this banner.
Dear comrades, to commemorate this historic moment I propose on behalf of the Baku Executive Committee that the building we are now in, and where we have planned our joint actions against the common enemy, be named the Palace of the Peoples of the East. [Applause.]
Previously, comrades, the bourgeoisie delighted their ears in this place, listening to all sorts of love-songs, but now we shall meet here to learn how to overthrow the bourgeoisie, how to free ourselves from their rule, how to build palaces like this where at present our comrades are rotting in shanties, where they are unable not merely to confer together as we are doing today but even to live like human beings.
In addition, I propose to name the building facing the boulevard, the best building in Baku, Isa-Bek Gadzhinskys house, where formerly lived the biggest exploiter in Baku, and which he though he would enjoy for life — this building I propose be named: the House of the Peoples of the East. This house will be the place where your general staff will establish itself, to which you can flock to obtain advice and instructions. [Applause.]
Furthermore, Comrades, Stanislavsky Street, where previously national and chauvinist passions reigned, and Armenians and Moslems could not look upon each other calmly, I propose should be renamed: Street of the Peoples of the East. Today we are showing the workers of Baku that there are no more barriers between nations, but only one house of free working people, for whose liberation we are now fighting and whom we summon to combined struggle on behalf of all the oppressed masses of the East. Comrades, long five the East, which, though today enslaved, is already awakening to the bloody struggle! Long live the Council of Action and Propaganda which has been formed here! Long live the proletariat of Baku!
Chairman: I call upon Comrade Narimanov.
Narimanov: Comrades, I addressed you in a cheerful spirit at the opening of the Congress, but now I have to speak to you about something which is a matter of sadness for all of us,. namely, the funeral of 26 of our dear comrades. In 1918, when Soviet power prevailed here for a few months, the Dashnak and Menshevik traitors handed over power, or at least contributed to surrendering Soviet power in Baku into the hands of the British. Until September 14 our dear comrades proudly, bravely and honourably remained at their posts down to the last moment, and then, when the Turks drew near, the Menshevik and Dashnak traitors allowed them to leave for Astrakhan. While they were on their way, these same traitors arrested them and changed their ships course to Krasnovodsk. Our comrades fell into the hands of the British scoundrels and were shot by them over there, between Ashkhabad and Kizyl-Arvat. When Soviet power was restored in Turkestan, their bodies were removed to Astrakhan. And now the Azerbaidzhanian Soviet Republic has brought the bodies of these dear comrades to Baku, and they will be buried here tomorrow. The Azerbaidzhanian Republic considers that the presence here of the tombs of these dear comrades will have educational significance for the young generations. Our children, seeing the monument to these dear comrades, will know how the Soviet power in Azerbaidzhan, and the Soviet power generally, values honourable and brave comrades.
We invite you to come tomorrow to the parapet, until 10 o'clock, and then to Petrovsky Square, to commit, along with us, with sorrow in our hearts, the bodies of our dear comrades to the ground.
Chairman: I propose that the Congress honour the memory of the fallen comrades by standing. [All stand. The band plays the Revolutionary Funeral March.]
Narbutabekov: Comrades, the work of the Congress is concluded. The Chairman of the First Congress of the Peoples of the East, Comrade Zinoviev, will make a concluding speech before our Congress is closed. [Tumultuous applause. The Internationale.]
Chairman: And so, Comrades, the Congress of the Peoples of the East, convened by the Executive Committee of the Communist International, has not only been held but has successfully concluded its work, and crowned it by setting up a permanent centre for the revolutionary struggle of the Peoples of the East. [Applause.]
Comrades, in my many years of revolutionary activity it has been my lot to take part in more than one big congress, but I must in all conscience say that a more significant congress, fraught with greater revolutionary consequences than this one, a congress as gigantically important as this one — for it has been dealing with something quite new and unprecedented I have never had to organise or to take part in. Such is the congress we have just been holding. It went down in the history of mankind from the moment when it began and when the enslaved oppressed, exploited peoples of the East assembled here.
The first tinkle of the chairmans bell on this platform was the funeral knell of the world bourgeoisie.
Comrades, we have not always had the time to appreciate in what a great historical event we are taking part. just think what has happened, what has gone on in this hall. Peoples who until now have been looked upon by the whole bourgeois world as draught animals whose task was to draw water for them, as peoples of inferior blood, as peoples whose special destiny it was, so to speak, to draw water for the bourgeoisie, peoples about whom the bourgeoisie always felt tranquil (no danger of fire there, they said) — these peoples are now rising in revolt. The bourgeoisie has been afraid in the last few years that the workers in the West would revolt, but as regards the peoples of the East, it has been quite tranquil until very recently; and then, just when it was sleeping sweetly on a soft pillow, when it was sure that there was no danger to be expected from that quarter, at that very moment a congress of the oppressed peoples of the East assembles, gets organised and goes into the attack with unprecedented, amazing, heart-lifting unanimity. [Tumultuous applause.] That is the most important aspect of our congress.
Just think. Peoples who for decades were at daggers drawn with each other, who did not associate with each other, who baited each other — delegates from these peoples have felt from the first moment like members of one family, despite their not understanding each others languages. A fraternal unanimity has arisen at once, so that it has seemed that we were one family, a fraternal, friendly family. This is the greatness of our Congress.
This is a simple, elementary fact, but it is precisely for that reason that it is great. And we have the right to say that such a congress as the one which the walls of this building in Baku have witnessed, at the beginning of September 1920, is without precedent in the world. This congress means that the old, bourgeois, oppressors world has come to its end; it means that the main reserves of toiling mankind have awakened, to create a completely new order, a wholly unprecedented way of life on earth.
Comrades, our congress has been heterogeneous, motley, in its composition. Represented at it have been peoples who have already won Soviet power for themselves, who are sister-republics of our Russian Soviet Republic, while, on the other hand, also represented here have been peoples among whom the struggle is still on the boil, where it is still only just flaring up. This heterogeneity has resulted in some misunderstandings. When we discussed the question of our executive organ, some comrades felt they were at a Congress of Soviets of the Peoples of the East. That does not yet exist. We look at India, which has only a handful of representatives here — a huge country oppressed by British capital, where there is still no Soviet republic, where the struggle has only begun to blaze up. We have countries like Turkey, where an overt civil war is in progress, where several governments are in conflict and the struggle between them has not yet ceased. We see a similar scene in Persia, where there are two governments and where the struggle is burning more fiercely with every passing day.
And here too we have bourgeois-democratic republics like Armenia.
We have frequently spoken about Armenia here. There is not one Armenia: there is, on the one hand, workers and peasants Armenia, to which we extend a fraternal hand, and, on the other, the accursed, bourgeois Armenia of the Dashnak hangmen. [Tumultuous applause.]
And the same situation exists in Georgia. Today the Georgian workers and the Georgian peasants are oppressed as nowhere else. Because Social-Democrats are in power there, the best veteran fighters of Georgia have been put in prison. And the present leaders of Georgia, such as Zhordania, have descended to such a level of shamelessness that their own old teacher, an old revolutionary like Comrade Mikha Tshakaya, is being held in prison by these gentry. There is not one Georgia; there is the Georgia of Messrs. Clikheidze, Gegechkori and Co., who scurry around in the ante-rooms of bourgeois ministers in Europe, and there is the Georgia of the honest workers and peasants, our brothers, with whom we march arm in arm and shoulder to shoulder. [Applause.]
It is all the more remarkable that a congress so mixed in composition should have been united on all fundamental questions.
Comrades, I want to touch upon one question which is a rather painful one for the Soviet republics, and in the first place for Turkestan and so on. These republics are our sisters. The struggle there was very hard, the workers and peasants there achieved the Soviet form of government only with great difficulty, and they are loyal to their fraternal alliance with Soviet Russia. There, alongside gigantic work to establish workers and peasants rule, along with tremendous changes and overturns, a phenomenon has been observed which we have to admit is extremely undesirable and regrettable, and about which we make a point of speaking in this very great, triumphant and historic assembly. Yes, the Soviet power in Russia, the Council of Peoples Commissars and the Communist International know that in Turkestan and in the other fraternal Soviet republics in the East, certain elements which have attached themselves to the Communist Party act in such a way as to bring shame on the title of Communist, inciting one section of the population against another, offending the native peasantry, taking their land from them. Certain scions of the old bourgeois Russia who have settled there and have wormed their way into our ranks, carry on the accursed tradition of the bourgeoisie and of Tsardom, continuing to look upon the local population as an inferior race. And this gives rise to the most legitimate and justified indignation. We address ourselves in this assembly to the Russian Communist comrades, to the Red Army men, to all the activists whose task it is to carry out the line of the Soviet power in the East — we turn to them and say: remember that you are at a post of threefold responsibility every mistake you make, even a very small one (not to speak of straightforward abuses) will cost us dear. We address ourselves to the activists from Russia who are called upon to work in Turkestan and other Soviet republics of the East, to point out that our Party and the Communist International require of them to remain firmly at the height of the honoured title of Communist, so that they never forget that the native working population are our brothers, so that they break once and for all with the accursed old heritage left to use by the bourgeoisie and Tsardom, so that they do not dare to insult the toilers, the local inhabitants, so that they would rather cut off their hand than commit an injustice. [Tumultuous applause.]
There was a period, a dark, sad period, when Russian officers and a Russian army of serfs led by these officers were sent by the Tsar to suppress popular revolts and destroy the best section of the Polish people of those days. And at that time one of Russias best writers, A. I. Herzen, exclaimed: When I see what my kinsmen are doing, what the Russian army and Russian officers are doing, I am ashamed to be a Russian. So spoke A. I. Herzen. We do not live in such a time as that, none of us need be ashamed to be Russian, for Russia has been the first country to raise the red flag and the first to help other peoples to emancipate themselves. But it is a matter for shame that persons who have wormed their way into our ranks, through misunderstanding or self-interest, are behaving in our sister-republics in a way that compels us to blush and to remember the harsh words of A.I. Herzen.
Comrades, at this assembly we give a solemn undertaking to those present that our Party and the Communist International are doing everything in their power to clear the weeds right out of our garden [Tumultuous applause], to purge our ranks, and to ensure that every one of us who is called upon to carry out Soviet policy in the awakening East understands that this is a holy place, that this work needs to be approached with clean hands and a clear head.
The distrust which decades of experience have implanted in the peoples of the East, their justified distrust of Europeans, who have always merely deceived and swindled them, only mocked them — this distrust is sometimes involuntarily, semi-consciously transferred today to the new, workers Europe, and, in the first place to our Soviet power, to Soviet Russia. As people of labour, as serious revolutionaries, we have to understand where the roots of this distrust lie, and we have by our work and our fraternal support in these years the most difficult years to create the feeling that we are one fraternal family, all members of which look with the same horror on the old, accursed past, and all as one fight against those who divide us. I hope, I am sure, that this congress and the fact that we have heard here what you have told us at this congress, will bring us so close together and bind our fraternal family so firmly that no mistakes made by individuals, or even crimes committed by particular groups, will divide us from you, henceforth and forever. We are one single, fraternal family, with the same enemies and wanting the same friends, and knowing only the same ideas. [Tumultuous applause.]
Comrades, the revolution of 1905 in Russia which was essentially only a dress-rehearsal for that great revolution which we are experiencing today, that revolution, though it was soon crushed, nevertheless, as you remember, spread at once to the East, evoking echoes in Turkey, in Persia and in other Eastern countries. just as the 1905 revolution was, in comparison with the great revolution of October 1917, mere childs play, so the response with which our revolution is meeting in the East today is a million times greater than in 1905.
Yes, comrades, across thousands of versts, despite the distance and the differences of language, a great revolution in a great country will inevitably kindle the hearts of the toilers of other countries. And the greatest pride for a Russian revolutionary must be the knowledge that the sparks of our revolution have spread to the powder-magazine of the East, and that the effect of this is being borne back to us here in explosion after explosion. In this lies the great significance of our revolution. It has not only set fire to the West, but the East too is in conflagration before our eyes. Our congress has stepped forward in the role of the greatest organiser and collective incendiary of the East, for it is kindling the greatest revolt on earth — against the bourgeoisie, against the serf-owners and capitalists. [Applause.]
We have discussed only a few questions, but we have discussed them very seriously and have adopted completely unanimous resolutions. Comrades, we have had to translate everything said into various languages, but it has not been necessary to translate the word Soviets, for this is known throughout the world, in West and East alike. The East will be Soviet! [Applause.]
Comrades, we have set up a Council of Action. At the moment this is still a young organisation, only just born, but no-one sitting in this hall will say that I am a great optimist if I express the view that this Council of Action is already stronger in the East than the bourgeois cabinet in Britain, or than any other cabinet. [Applause.] The cabinets of Britain and France will decline in power, will wane with every passing day, will perish before the eyes of mankind — they are living out their last days like dogs. But the peoples of the East are the rising star. We and you, comrades, will become a greater power with every day that passes. Paraphrasing Marxs words we can say that all the British and French imperialists are unable now to take a single step without first thinking: but how will the peoples of the East react? Wont they do something against us, against the imperialists?
We have not disputed here as to whether Soviets are necessary or not — that is clear to us. We have not disputed as to whether we need to be united that also is clear. But look at how united the bourgeoisie are. They say, in all languages: Entente, Entente. What does this word mean? An entente is a cordial agreement. But we say that in this agreement it is not so much the heart as the purse that is operative. [Applause.] Look and see how this Entente is breaking up before our eyes. It cannot decide a single question, the partners are tripping each other up, they are quarrelling, they are travelling around all the spas of Europe discussing the Russian question. They discuss the Russian question more than any other. It is a hard nut for them, which they cannot crack and never will. [Tumultuous applause.]
Comrades, after our Congress we are perfectly justified in saying that the brigands, the British and French imperialists, will never solve the so-called Russian question which is such a curse to them — but we and you and the Communist International will within a few years completely solve the European question. [Tumultuous applause.] Comrades, the first two days of our congress were spent in discussing what our attitude should be towards the Entente, towards imperialism. And for us that moment after the first report, when the assembled representatives of the peoples of the East swore to begin a holy war, that moment will be preserved in our hearts as a sacred experience. That was the basis for everything else, that is what unites us all. Yes, a holy war against the plunderers and capitalists! And all of you will, as practical people, translate that oath into the language of facts. When you return home you will tell the peasants, both men and women, you will tell all the working people, what we have decided, the oath that we took, the line we marked out. And we shall feel with every hour how our unity is growing, our forces strengthening, we shall climb still higher, drawing near to the last barrier, and this last barrier we shall take: we shall end the civil war, stretch out a fraternal hand to the West to Europe and America and unite in one family, so as, together, to build a new life! [Applause.]
Karl Marx, the teacher of us all, issued 70 years ago the call: Workers of all lands, unite! We, Karl Marxs pupils, the continuators of his work, can expand this formulation, supplementing and broadening it, and say: Workers of all lands and oppressed peoples of the whole world, unite! [Tumultuous applause. The Internationale.]
Comrades, we cannot bring to the Communist International and to the workers of the whole world any more joyful news than that, after the uniting of the workers of the West and of America, the toilers of the whole East have united. Let us remember only what unites us. Let us tear out of our hearts whatever can disunite us. Let us remember that we have one enemy — British and French imperialism. Let each of us devote his life even dozens of lives, if we had them to the cause of liberating the peoples of the East and of the whole world! [Tumultuous applause. The Internationale.]
Comrades, the Presidium congratulates you on the successful conclusion of the Congress and declares the First Congress of the Peoples of the East closed.
Long live the Third International!
[Tumultuous applause. Shouts of Hurrah. The Internationale.]
The session ended at 10.40 p.m.