V. I. Lenin

Speech And Government Statement At The Session Of The All-Russia C.E.C.

July 15, 1918[1]

Delivered: 15 July, 1918
First Published: Newspaper reports published on July 16, 1918 in Pravda No. 146 and in Izvestia VTsIK No. 148; Published according to the text of the book: Fifth Convocation of the All-Russia C.E.C. of the Soviets. Verbatim Report. All-Russia C.E.C. Publishers, 1919; the Government Statement published according to the manuscript
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 27, pages 538-541
Translated: Clemens Dutt; Edited by Robert Daglish
Transcription/HTML Markup: David Walters & Robert Cymbala
Online Version: Lenin Internet Archive March, 2002

Comrades, our Soviet Republic cannot complain of any shortage of political crises and sudden political changes. No matter how simple, how elementary all the imperialist forces may be (and they cannot, of course, feel at ease side by side with the Socialist Soviet Republic), yet in a situation like the one we are passing through at present, with war still continuing on its former scale, the obviously dominant forces, the combination of the two imperialist groups continues to cause political crisis and the like. Concerning one such event, which either resembles or is a real political crisis, I have a communication to make to you.

Yesterday, July 14, at 11 p. m., the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs was visited by the German ChargĂ© d’Affaires Doctor Ritzier, who informed him of the contents of a telegram he had just received from Berlin in which the German Government instructs him to request the Russian Government to allow a battalion of German soldiers in uniform to enter Moscow for the purpose of guarding the German Embassy and to allow these soldiers to be dispatched to Moscow at once.

It was further stated in the message that the German Government was far from aiming at any sort of occupation.

The People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, in agreement with the Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, replied that the common people of Russia desire peace, that the Russian Government is prepared to give the German Embassy, Consulate and Commissions an entirely adequate and reliable guard consisting of its own troops, but that it cannot under any circumstances allow a foreign military unit to enter Moscow; it firmly hopes that the German Government, inspired by the same desire for peace, will not insist on its request.

In fact, the request to the Russian Government is in complete contradiction to the statement made by the Imperial Chancellor in the Reichstag that the unfortunate murder of Count Mirbach would not lead to a worsening of relations between the two countries. It also contradicts the wish that we know has been expressed by leading commercial and industrial circles to set up and develop close economic relations to the benefit of both countries; it contradicts the negotiations that have been proceeding successfully. Numerous statements made to our representative in Berlin concerning the political situation and the attitude to Russia also bear witness to this fact.

We still have every reason to hope that a favourable solution to this unexpected incident will be found, but whenever tension arises in our international relations we consider it necessary to make known the facts openly and make the issues clear.

I therefore consider it my duty to make the following Governmpt statement:

“The Government of the Soviet Republic was well aware when it concluded the Brest peace what an onerous task the workers and peasants of Russia had been obliged to undertake owing to the international situation that had developed. The will of the overwhelming majority at the Fourth Congress of Soviets was perfectly clear; the working classes demanded peace because they needed a rest to be able to work, to organise the socialist economy, to recover and build up their strength, which had been undermined by an agonising war.

“In obedience to the will of the Congress the government has carried out the harsh terms of the Brest Treaty to the letter, and of late our negotiations with the German Government concerning the exact amount of the payments to be made by us, and the forms of payment, which we have decided to discharge as soon as possible, have made considerable progress.

“But while most scrupulously fulfilling the terms of Brest and upholding the will of the workers and peasants to have peace, the Soviet Government has never lost sight of the fact that there are limits beyond which even the most peace loving masses of the working people will be compelled to rise, and will rise, as one man to defend their country with arms in hand.

“The senseless and criminal folly of the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries has brought us to the brink of war. Our relations with the German Government were bound, despite our will, to become strained. We acknowledge the legitimacy of the German Government’s desire to strengthen the guard over its Embassy and we have gone very far in order to satisfy this desire.

“But when we were informed of the German Government’s desire, which is not yet formulated as a categorical demand, that we should allow a battalion of armed German soldiers in uniform access to Moscow, we replied-and we now repeat that reply before the highest body of the Soviet government of workers and peasants, before the All-Russia Central Executive Committee-that we could on no account and under no circumstances satisfy such a request, because this would be objectively the beginning of the occupation of Russia by foreign troops.

“To this action we would have been obliged to respond as we have responded to the Czechoslovak mutiny and to the military operations of the British in the North, namely by expanded mobilisation, by the calling up of all adult workers and peasants for armed resistance, and for the destruction, in the event of a temporarily necessitated withdrawal, of absolutely every road and railway without exception, and also of stores, particularly food stores, so that they do not fall into the hands of the enemy. War would then be for us a fateful but absolute and unconditional necessity, and this would be a revolutionary war waged by the workers and peasants of Russia shoulder to shoulder with the Soviet government till the last breath.

“Like its foreign policy, the home policy of the Soviet government, in strict adherence to the decisions of the Fifth Congress of Soviets, remains unchanged. The criminal folly of the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, who have turned out to be henchmen of the white guards, the landowners and the capitalists, will now that the clouds are gathering and the danger of war is increasing be even more criminal in the eyes of the people, and we shall fully and wholeheartedly support and carry out the ruthless punishment of the traitors who have been irrevocably condemned by the will of the Fifth Congress of Soviets. If war, in spite of all our efforts, becomes a fact, we shall be unable to maintain a shadow of trust in the gang of Left Socialist-Revolutionary traitors, who are capable of thwarting the will of the Soviets, resorting to military betrayal and the like. We shall draw fresh strength for war from the merciless suppression both of the madly reckless (Left Socialist-Revolutionary) and the class-conscious (landowner, capitalist and kulak) exponents of counter-revolution.

“To the workers and peasants of all Russia this is our appeal: ’Triple vigilance, caution and endurance, comrades! Everyone must be at his post! Everyone must give his life if necessary to defend Soviet power, to defend the interests of the working people, the exploited, the poor, to defend socialism! ’”


[1] At its first session on July 15, 1918 the All-Russia Central Executive Committee (5th Convocation) heard Lenin's speech and declaration and unanimously passed the following resolution. “The All-Russia Central Executive Committee wholly approves the statement of the Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars and decrees that it shall be brought to the attention of the widest masses of the working people.” A government statement under the title “Appeal of Comrade Lenin to the Workers, Peasants and Soldiers of the Red Army, Approved at the Session of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee of July 15, 1918” was published on July 17 in Izvestia VTsIK No. 149.

The document has also been published under the title “Statement at a Meeting of the All-Russia C.E.C. of July 15, 1918”.