J. V. Stalin

Telegram to the People's Secretariat, Ukrainian Soviet Republic1

February 21, 1918

Source : Works, Vol. 4, November, 1917 - 1920
Publisher : Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1953
Transcription/Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, 2009
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2009). 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.

Five days ago General Hoffmann announced that the term of the armistice had expired, 2 and two days later he started hostilities. The Council of People's Commissars intimated its willingness to resume peace negotiations, but no reply has yet been received. The German Government is evidently in no hurry to reply, its idea being to pillage the country to the limit and only then to open peace negotiations. The Germans have captured Dvinsk, Rovno, Minsk, Volmar and Gapsal and are advancing on Petrograd and Kiev. Obviously, the object of the campaign is not only conquest, but, chiefly, the suppression of the revolution and its gains.

The Council of People's Commissars has decided to organize resistance from Petrograd and to mobilize the entire working population, and the bourgeoisie as well, and if the latter should refuse to dig trenches, to take them by force and compel them to do so under the control of the workers.

It is the general opinion of the comrades that you, in Kiev, should without a moment's delay organize similar resistance from Kiev westward, muster every able-bodied person, set up artillery, dig trenches, force the bourgeoisie to do trench-digging under the control of the workers, proclaim a state of siege and act with the utmost severity. The general objective is to hold Petro-grad and Kiev and check the German bands at all costs.

The situation is more serious than you might think. We have not the slightest doubt that the German bandits want to promenade from Petrograd to Kiev and to start peace talks in these capitals, and in them alone. I believe you have not yet annulled the treaty concluded by the old Rada with the Germans. 3 If so, we think you should be in no hurry to do so.

Once again: do not lose a single moment, set to work without wasting words, and demonstrate to all that the Soviet regime is capable of defending itself.

All our hope is in the workers, for the so-called army now being demobilized has proved capable only of panic and flight.

I await an immediate reply.

On behalf of the Council of People's Commissars

J. Stalin


February 21, 1918


1.The People's Secretariat of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic— the first Soviet Government of the Ukrainian Republic—was elected by the Ukrainian Central Executive Committee of Soviets from among its members in December 1917. In April 1918, in connection with the German occupation of the Ukraine, the People's Secretariat was re-organized, and its chief task became to direct the popular insurrectionary struggle against the German occupationists and the Haydamak detachments.

2.The armistice between Russia and the Quadruple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey) was signed in Brest-Litovsk on December 2, 1917, for a term of 28 days. Owing to the protracted character of the peace negotiations, the armistice was prolonged. On February 18, 1918, the Germans violated the armistice and launched an offensive along the whole front.

3.The reference is to a treaty concluded after secret negotiations by representatives of the Ukrainian Central Rada and the Quadruple Alliance in Brest-Litovsk on January 27, 1918.