Stefan T. Possony :
Lenin : The Compulsive Revolutionary
Accusation of Treason
Subversive warfare stood the Germans in good stead. The great Russian offensive, which had been undertaken with a considerable numerical superiority and with an ample supply of weapons, had not been successful. The failure was largely due to the unwillingness of the troops to fight. Desertion and self-mutilation rates reached unprecedented heights. The German counteroffensive routed the Russian army so quickly that the Germans were unable to apply their encirclement tactics.
The entire calamity, however, was not due to the Bolsheviks. The main cause of the military disaster lay in disorganization. Each unit and every group of specialists had formed its own soviet.(1) The soldiers spent much time debating and voting. Many soviets, particularly those under Bolshevik influence, thought it their duty to countermand military orders. All socialist parties bore responsibility for this state of affairs. The defencists called for the offensive but at the same time refused to rectify the disorder within the army. The soldiers were weary, but still were susceptible to firm leadership. The Bolsheviks, of course, concentrated on deepening and giving ideological meaning to the pacifist mood of the soldiers. But without the helpmostly through inactionof the other socialists, Bolshevik subversion would not have succeeded.
The Germans had taken great pains to protect the security of their clandestine operations. Their payments to the revolutionaries were concealed according to the wishes of the recipients. These were the rules as stated in one German document : 1) The personality of the donor would guarantee that the money came from an unobjectionable source. 2) The donor or the bearer of the money should be enabled . . . to cross the Russian frontier. 3) . . . ready cash, . . . Swiss currency could be turned most easily, most efficiently, and least obtrusively into liquid and useful form.(2)
Despite precautions the secret was not well guarded. In April the socialist French Minister Albert Thomas had warned the Russian government after studying intelligence reports. In May the military High Command had given to the Department of justice a voluminous dossier on the case. French officers in Petrograd who specialized in communications intelligence had volunteered their services. The government itself had taken the case under advisement and a cabinet committee was investigating. Yet no action was undertaken to stop Bolshevik activities, though one armed demonstration had taken place, another had been attempted, and now an operation which bordered upon a mass uprising was in progress.
As the crisis became more acute, permission was obtained from the Minister of justice to publicize the presumed treason. Alexinsky, who knew a great deal about these matters, and who for many years had been very close to Lenin, and V.S. Pankratov, an old reputable revolutionary who had spent a long period in Schlusselburg prison at hard labor, were elected to act as channels. Invoking their revolutionary duty, these two men warned Russian citizens of the dangers to their liberty and security. This warning was put into a letter to the committee of journalists attached to the provisional government. Several cabinet members and delegates to the soviet speedily intervened to prevent publication of the letter ; it was printed in only one obscure newspaper.
The Alexinsky-Pankratov letter consisted of two parts, the first explanation based upon counter-intelligence and the second largely on censorship intelligence. In the first part of their letter, Alexinsky and Pankratov stated that on May 8, 1917, Ensign Yermolenko a Russian prisoner in Germany, was dispatched behind Russian lines to agitate for a speedy separate peace. German officers Schiditzki and Lubbers told him that peace propaganda was being disseminated by A. Skoropis-Yoltukhovsky, of the Bund for the Liberation of the Ukraine, and by Lenin, who was commissioned to undermine the confidence of the Russian people in the government. Money for this purpose was transmitted through a certain Svendson at the German legation in Stockholm.(3)
The report stated that Yermolenkos file had been forwarded to the Ministry for examination on April 28, i.e., before Yermolenko crossed back into Russian territoryan indication that Yermolenko may have been a counter-intelligence agent who had originally been dispatched by the Russians to the Germans.(4)
It was impossible to confirm the existence of Captain Schiditzki, who may have been Yermolenkos interrogator. However, the existence of Captain von Lubbers is substantiated by documentary evidence. He was assigned to the Unterkunfts-Departement of the German War Ministry, where he was placed in charge of prisoner-of-war propaganda. If Yermolenko did talk to Lubbers, he was, indeed, in communication with one of the top men. Although it is improbable that the Germans would have given secret information to a Russian prisoner, they might have acted incautiously if they had believed they were dealing with a prominent leader. Possibly Yermolenko was able to present adequate credentials or offer references from Ukrainian socialist and nationalist politicians.
Alexander Skoropis-Yoltukhovsky did run the Ukrainian Bund. This was rather widely known, but Lenins connection with the Bund had been successfully concealed. Though the report did not suggest such a connection, Lenin must have been shocked and frightened by the juxtaposition of himself with Skoropis, even though he probably did not know much about the rest of the information.
The second portion of the letter stated that the Germans were transmitting money and instructions through Hanecki and Parvus in Stockholm, who then were communicating with Mecheslav Yulevich Kozlovsky, a Bolshevik attorney, and Eugenia Mavrikievna Sumenson, a woman relative of Hanecki. Kozlovsky was described as the chief recipient of the German money that was transferred from Berlin through the Diskonto-Gesellschaft to the Stockholm Nya Banken and thence to the Siberian Bank in Petrograd where Kozlovsky presently held a balance of over two million rubles.
The Minister of justice was upset over the leaking of this detailed information which undoubtedly allowed some culprits to seek cover. Kerensky stated that Hanecki was preparing to cross the border with incriminating documents which would have clinched the case, but the leak kept him in Sweden. Hanecki hardly was so inexperienced as to carry compromising evidence on his person : Kerenskys complaint about the leak was not entirely genuine.
In the main, the information about Hanecki was correct, but Parvus did not, so far as is known, communicate directly with Petrograd. Sumensons and Kozlovskys names do not appear in German documents. Whether Sumenson was related to Hanecki is not known, but she worked for the firm of Fabian Klingsland which was the Petrograd correspondent of Haneckis export firm. Kozlovsky was described as a Polish socialist, but he served on the initial executive committee of the Petrograd soviet for the Latvian Social Democratic party. A certain Kozlovsky from Russia was a member of the Ukrainian Bund in Vienna during 1914, but the first names do not coincide. However, there is evidence that Kozlovsky, already in 1915, was connected with Parvus. He offered money to publish a socialist paper, and before the revolution traveled several times to Scandinavia dealing in revolutionary finances.(6) He also acted as legal adviser to Parvus. After the Bolshevik seizure of power, ironically, Kozlovsky was appointed to prosecute Alexinskys case. (Kozlovsky died in 1927.)
The Diskonto Gesellschaft, a foremost German bank, certainly was uninvolved in these matters. A German diplomat, reading the text of the letter, wrote between the lines that probably Parvus firm was meant, but the Germans later intercepted a telegram sent by the London Times correspondent in which he stated that the money was transferred through the Loan and Discount Bank at Copenhagen. No further explanation is found in the German file.
The Nya Banken, under Aschberg, affiliated with Swedish socialists, had handled many ruble transactions for the Germans during the war. Aschberg, who had dealt with tsarist Russia and American bankers, had arranged a Russian commercial loan in the U.S. and later related in his memoirs how he had succeeded in traveling back and forth across the Russian border by using bribes. Aschberg had assisted at Protopopovs conference with a German diplomat during 1916, and also was acquainted with Krassin. After 1917 the Bolsheviks apparently employed him for bank transactions abroad. For many years he was, in Sweden, considered to be something of a Red banker. The intercepted-and unpublishedtelegram by the Times correspondent stated that Aschberg had confirmed the business transactions but thought that they served honest business purposes. Years later he reasserted the same version adding, however, that possibly Hanecki sent money to Russia (i.e. to Sumenson) in small amounts.(7) Unfortunately, Aschberg died before he could bring himself to discuss these matters frankly.
As soon as the story broke, the Germans hurriedly organized a denial campaign. Dagens Nyheter, on July 22, published a denial by Hanecki, Radek, and Vorovsky.(8) Sumenson suddenly was described personally as a man who acted as managing clerk of a Petrograd firm which represented the Swiss chocolate firm Nestle and an export company run by Hanecki. Hence Hanecki had sent money to Stockholm but not the other way around.(9) There are indeed some vague indications that Nestlé(10) was abused for some transactions but, in any event, no evidence was submitted to prove the alleged remittances from Petrograd to Stockholm.
The denial also stated that Hanecki had no connections with Helphand (Parvus), incongruously adding that he had business dealings with him. Moreover, many Social Democrats maintained business relations with Parvus ; the name of a prominent Menshevik was brought up to exculpate the Bolshevik suspect. Hanecki denied knowing Svenson. (Svenson probably was a pseudonym of Hans Steinwachs, who before 1917 had acted as Keskülas case officer and who now was handling finances for revolutionizing at Stockholm.)(11)
On July 24 Vorovsky telegraphed to Sklarz in Berlin requesting him to deny under oath, before a suitable forum in Copenhagen, that he gave money to the Bolsheviks or to Lenin through Hanecki or other persons. This telegram is odd in that Sklarzs name had not yet been mentioned publicly. The Germans deemed it inadvisable to fulfill the request. Hanecki also sent a telegram asking Alexander (i.e., Parvus) to travel to Copenhagen immediately.
On July 26 Soldati i Rabochii, then the name of Pravda, acknowledged that Hanecki and Kozlovsky had been working for Parvus. On July 31, 1917, Hanecki, in Russische Korrespondenz Prawda, admitted that he had worked in a trading firm connected with Parvus. He did so, he said, to support his family and the Social Democratic party in Warsaw (then occupied by the Germans). But he added that he considered Parvus to be an honorable man : Only history can show who was right in judging the man Parvus: Lenin or Hanecki.(12)
In the meantime, Karinsky, who had warned Bonch-Bruyevich of the case against Lenin, hadin a typical switchbeen put in charge of prosecuting the affair. (He resigned this office by mid-September.(13)) Despite his inauspicious attitude he had gathered extensive documentation. He reported part of his findings on August 4. The indictment was drawn up for treason and organized armed rebellion. Those who were indicted for rebellion were not necessarily accused of treason and vice versa. The accusations against Semashko, Raskolnikov, Kollontai, Trotsky, and Lunacharsky dealt with rebellion ; those against the group headed by Lenin, Zinovyev, Parvus, and Hanecki, with treason. There was no mention of Haneckis probably not being a Russian citizen ; Parvus was not either, but perhaps this was not known.
Concerning the rebellion, it was stated that a search of Bolshevik headquarters had revealed that the revolt had been ordered by the Central Committee. From those headquarters instructions had been issued to military units ordering them to place armored cars and a cruiser at the disposal of the Bolshevik military organization. The search disclosed deployment lists of suitable military units, armed workers, cell leaders, contacts, and Bolshevik intelligence operators. An interesting discovery was literature of the arch-reactionary Union of the Russian People and large numbers of post cards illustrating ritual murder. Presumably this material was to be used to stimulate the fear of counter-revolutiona chief factor preventing socialists and liberals from taking action against the Bolsheviks.(14)
The indictment stated, with respect to Lenins treason, that while residing in the German part of Switzerland Lenin was in contact with Parvus, frequented camps of Ukrainian prisoners of war, and carried on propaganda for the separation of the Ukraine from Russia.(15) The evidence, it was stupidly alleged, pointed to Lenin as a German agent(16) who had an agreement with Germany and went to Petrograd to aid Germany in her war with Russia. It was this unfounded allegation which vitiated much of the later discussion of Lenins relations with the Germans.
Further, it was stated that in April an attempt was made from Stockholm to publish a newspaper to oppose England and France, that Lenin and Zinovyev were arrested in October, 1914, in Austria, that they were released upon order by the Austrian Prime Minister, and that Hanecki played an important role in their release.
In addition, it maintained that Hanecki had worked closely with Parvus in Copenhagen, that Kozlovsky had traveled to Copenhagen and acted as legal adviser to Parvus, who was proposing the financing of a steamship company in Russia, and that Parvus, Hanecki, and Kozlovsky visited Berlin. It was held that the telegraphic correspondence which Sumenson, Lenin, Kollontai, and Kozlovsky in Petrograd had with Hanecki and Parvus in Sweden was a cover-up for relations of an espionage character.(17) During the past six months, Sumenson had withdrawn 750,000 rubles from her account ; the balance was 180,000 rubles.(18)
Other data could not as yet be made public. But the information pointed to the fact that the accused were assisting in the disorganization of the Russian army and that they were conducting propaganda to inhibit military actions against the enemy. The armed insurrection, moreover, was accompanied by murders and violence. Lenin replied on August 8 and 9 in Rabochy i Soldat. He first commented on his role in the rebellion. He had left Petrograd on July 12 on account of illness and returned only on July 17, when he delivered a single speechand that lacked significance. This was true enough, except that he overly stressed his illness. He assumed full responsibility, he wrote, for all steps and measures taken by the Central Committee and the party, but failed to say how he was able to discharge this responsibility. As to the accusation about relations with Germany, Lenin felt that this was another Beilis case.(19) Lenin claimed that the accusations parrotted the slanders of calumniator Alexinsky ; but Alexinsky had simply distributed information which had been leaked to him from the justice Department. Lenin corrected the claim that Zinovyev had been arrested in Austria ; he could have added that he himself had been arrested in August and not in October. He also related that he was arrested not as a Russian subject but as a spy. He denied that Hanecki played a part in his release but this denial was false. He said it was a contemptible lie to assert that he had relations with Parvus ; but he had such relations, and Parvus soon mischievously confirmed in print one of his meetings with Lenin during this period.(29) Lenin stated that it was untrue that he had visited military camps ; he was correct in adding that nothing of the kind happened, or could even happen. He denied, untruthfully, any connection with the Ukrainian Bund and ignored the allegation about Ukrainian separatists propaganda.
A telegram seized in Bolshevik headquarters about a money deal in Stockholm had been misunderstood by the prosecutor. Lenin seized upon it and disproved more than the error warranted. He denied financial dealings with Hanecki. However, letters already mentioned disprove this denial. It is also noteworthy that Lenins address book showed three different entries for Kozlovskys home, office and his extension in the soviet :(21) this fact indicates that Lenin was quite well informed about the secret machinations of his aides.(22)
In his reply in Rabochy i Soldat Lenin frankly admitted Haneckis relation with Parvus. Offering no explanation why he maintained contact with Hanecki, who was a friend of the social chauvinist Parvus, Lenin poked fun at the point that commercial correspondence might serve as a screen for espionage and asked how many of his political opponents could be accused according to this wonderful prescription. He ignored the fact that the evidence did not point to espionage at all, and took the prosecutor to task for not having presented a better analysis of the Sumenson account, detailing the source of the money and the recipients.
The point was valid. There obviously were a number of mistakes in the prosecutors story, but much had become known. The Justice Department and counter-intelligence knew considerably more than they revealed, and Lenin had no way of knowing if Mme. Sumenson, who was not politically motivated, did not reveal everything under interrogation. Insofar as the prosecution was concerned, an orderly development of the case could have been quite effective. But the investigation was allowed to linger. The order for Lenins arrest which was issued, after some delay, on July 19, was not revoked ; it remained in force until he seized power. Actually, however, the case had been dropped by the middle of August. Some of the more illusionary members of the governmentespecially N.V. Nekrassov, who later joined the Bolsheviksobjected to accusing an authentic revolutionary of high treason. P.N. Pereverzev, the Minister of justice, who authorized the disclosures, was forced to resign. In his place, Kerensky appointed A.S. Zarudny, who had served as Trotskys defense lawyer in 1906. Thus, Kerensky took no serious initiative to make justice prevail. He affected criticism of the premature disclosure which had allowed Hanecki to escape arrest. But it was known that Larin had served as a courier between the Petrograd and Stockholm Bolsheviks and nothing was done to get the truth from him.(23) The fact that he was neither a Bolshevik nor a Menshevik apparently provided him with ample political protection.
1 This, together with the undermining of discipline, was the main result of Order No. 1. The issuance of this order against the will of the moderate parties often has been ascribed to German agents, but if there was a diabolic plan behind this event, the planning and tactical ability of a few anonymous German political warriors would have bordered on the miraculous. Still two points seem worth mentioning : the order was due essentially to two persons, Linde and N.D. Sokolov, a shadowy figure who was a cross between Bolshevik and Menshevik. He was a close friend of the Bolshevik Kozlovsky of whom we shall hear more presently. It should be remembered, too, that the order was written for the most part by Sokolov to inhibit the Tsar from throwing troops into the capital and chasing away the revolutionaries. The order fulfilled its purpose of depriving the Tsar of his army. See Tarasoff-Rodionov, La Révolution de Fèvrier 1917 (Paris : Gallimard, 1930), Chapters VII and VIII ; and Smilg-Benario, p. 216ff.
2 Zeman, p. 55f.
3 Browder-Kerensky, op. cit., 111, 1365.
4 This was confirmed by Stepankowski, who also stated that the mans correct name was Yaremenko. The Russian agent posed as a leader of the Ukrainian independence movement and thereby won German confidence quickly. According to other indications, he was a counter-intelligence expert of long standing.
5 Futrell, p. 166.
6 Ibid., p. 171f. Kozlovsky and Hanecki attempted to recruit N.D. Sokolov, who wielded great power among the Mensheviks. Whether they succeeded or not, Kozlovsky had a room in Sokolovs flat which he used as an accommodation address for most of his correspondence (Nikitine, p. 167). Sokolov did much to shield Lenin and the Bolsheviks.
7 Ibid., p. 166.
8 According to Scheidemann, Vorovsky was in close contact with Parvus, op. cit., I, 127).
9 According to Futrell, Aschbergs belated admission destroyed this denial by Hanecki (p. 166f.).
10 Three intercepted telegrams between Hanecki and Sumenson contained these phrases : Nestlé not sent flour. Agitate. Cable what funds in your hands Nestle. Cable bank balances then pay Nestle account if possible. (Nikitine, pp. 120f.) Nikitine, a counter intelligence chief, stated that Sumenson was a demi-mondaine and was not employed by a commercial firm (p. 123f.), but this probably was an error.
11 It is also possible that he was a Swedish socialist by that name. The Swedish socialists, as Futrell shows, were very helpful in these transactions.
12 Futrell, p. 167f.
13 Browder-Kerensky, op .cit., III, 1370ff. 1702.
14 Paralyzing fears are an excellent tactical device. Since 1956 the Communists have been using the fear of nuclear war as a psycho-strategic cover for their operations.
15 Browder-Kerensky, III, p. 1374.
16 Ibid., p. 1375.
17 Twenty-nine of these telegrams were published, without dates, by Nikitine, but the French intelligence officer who intercepted them had a considerably larger number. One telegram points to the pressure exerted by and on the Bolsheviks. It reads, Funds very low cannot assist if really urgent give 500 as last payment pencils huge loss original hopeless instruct Nya Banken cable further 100 thousand. This telegram was sent by Sumenson to Hanecki. The text suggests that the July uprising may have been hampered by low funds. For a general analysis, see S.P. Melgunov, Zolotoy nemetskii klyuch bolshevikov, Paris, La Maison du Livre Etranger, 1940, pp. 104-116. Melgunov stressed that Hanecki was paying for Sumensons imports and added that according to Beletsky, former Okhrana chief, Sumenson had been known for years to be a German agent. Incidentally, for most of his communications with Petrograd, Hanecki used the diplomatic pouchthe government unwittingly, helped in the conspiracy (Futrell, p. 155).
18 Browder-Kerensky, III, p. 1376. It was also stated that in the early days of the revolution sums of money (800,000 rubles, 250,000 rubles and other sums) were remitted to Russia from Stockholm through one bank that received orders from Germany (p. 1375).
19 This is an allusion to the celebrated trial in 1912 of Jacob Beilis, a hapless Jew, on contrived charges of ritual murder. Beilis sought his day in court and was acquitted. It would have been more correct for Lenin to refer to the Bonnet Rouge affair that just had broken in France. The Germans financed a radical revolutionary and pacifist paper to undermine French resistance. He could also have cited the case of his old Zimmerwald crony, Robert Grimm, who had been expelled from Russia because he was plotting with Germany to facilitate a separate peace. Grimm was exposed because a telegram of his to Berne was deciphered.
20 Russian counter-intelligence had seized three letters by Lenin to Parvus, presumably of May-June, 1917. (See Nikitine, op. cit., p. 118).
21 Futrell, p. 177f.
22 After the seizure of power the Central Committee refused to appoint Hanecki to be diplomatic representative in Stockholm. Lenin, in a vigorously worded letter, came to his defense without, however, enlightening the comrades about Haneckis true role (Leninski Sbornik, vol. 36, Moscow, 1959, p. 18ff.). Lenin argued that it was not forbidden by any party resolution to work in commercial firms. Haneckis and Kozlovskys case was discussed in eight meetings of the Central Committee between April 1917 and February 1918 but the published minutes of these meetings omit these debates (Futrell, p. 174f.). Some debates, presumably, were influenced by M.S. Uritsky who had lived between 1915 and 1917 at Copenhagen and also was connected with Parvus. The whole affair was a replica of the Malinovsky story ; only this time, Hanecki was the accused and not the judge. In any event, Hanecki made a moderately distinguished career under Lenin but in the late 1930s he seems to have fallen victim to Stalins purges. Subsequently he was rehabilitated.
23 Nikitine, op. cit., p. 117. See also London Times, July 20, 1917.
Lenin : The Compulsive Revolutionary
The Bolsheviks were given ample opportunity to cover their tracks. Lenin hid in Stassovas plush apartment (this would have been an obvious place to search) and was given a choice dietMaria had left instructions to take care of Lenins sick stomach. On July 18, Lenin stayed with Sverdlov at the apartment of M.L. Salimova, then went to that of V.N. Kayurov and to the flat of N.G. Poletayev, a Duma deputy. The choice of the last two apartments is quite surprising. Finally, he proceeded to the residence of S.Y. Alliluyev(1) and in a secret meeting of party leaders refused to present himself for trial, on the invalid and transparent pretext that he could expect no justice from a counter-revolutionary government. An innocent man would have seized the opportunity to cleanse his record. This is precisely what Trotsky did. But obviously Lenin could not take the risk, even though he probably knew that he had little to fear from prosecutor Karinsky.
Not all of the party leaders present knew about Lenins deals with the Germans. Stalin hardly was privy to these secrets, but he possessed a first-rate conspiratorial nose and argued most strongly against risking a confrontation with the law. Krupskaya asserts that Lenin and Zinovyev, even against Marias objections, decided to present themselves for trial at the appointed time. Lenin asked Krupskaya to inform Kamenev. As she arose hastily, Lenin checked her with, Lets say goodbye . . . we may not see each other again.(2) They embraced. The tale goes that a few hours later Stalin persuaded Lenin not to appear in court and thus saved his life. This is a touching but thoroughly untrustworthy story.
In the evening of July 20, the room which the Lenins still occupied in Yelizarovs house was searched ;(3) two days later the entire flat was examined and subsequently a third search was made. The searches, however, were incompetent and too late. Lenin slipped out of town on July 22, at 11 P.M., walked for nine kilometers to an outlying railroad station, and quietly traveled to Razliv, near Sestroretsk, where he stayed in the house of the worker N.A. Yemelyanov.
On August 3 Lenin was formally indicted but the made no real effort to locate him (which should have been easy). The Mensheviks, dreading that an investigation might backfire on them, loudly cried slander, saving the Bolsheviks.
Since May Trotsky had been Lenins closest collaborator : he was a more forceful orator and clearer thinker than other Bolsheviks, and he possessed more energy and tactical sense. But he had no money and therefore, though he had the most able collaborators, was unable to sustain an effective newspaper.(4) Formally he and his group had remained independent and, since the government had not implicated him in its accusations, Trotsky remained at liberty. He wrote a cocky letter to the government saying that he shared Lenins convictions and was as responsible as Lenin for the July events. Why was he not indicted ? For about two weeks, Trotsky constantly made speeches in which he defended the Bolsheviks and goaded the government. After a long period of this performance, he was arrested. Trotskyformerly described by Lenin as a swinewas not afraid to take personal risks.
Once in this period Lenin reacted to a prediction that he soon might be premier by saying, This wouldnt be so strange.(5) But he was thoroughly dejected.
It seemed to some that Lenins career was nearing its end. Fearing that someone might do him in, he asked Kamenev, in strict confidence, to edit the manuscript which later was published as The State and Revolution. He wanted Kamenev to ensure posthumous publication. I think it is important he said, because Plekhanov and Kautsky are not the only ones who blundered.
His concealment did not lack its romantic aspects, but it hardly improved his health. He had left the Yemelyanov house and moved into the woods. Lenin, now known as Konstantin Petrovich Ivanov, could be reached by one of Yemelyanovs children acting as guide. The road led through the village to the seashore, from which point a boat had to be taken. After rowing for half an hour, mostly through sedge, there was another ten-minute walk through swamps before reaching a barn. There Ivanov was living, sans beard and mustache. Inside the barn a sort of bedroom had been created, but because it was filled with hay there could be no fire, so that it was quite cold at night, even in July and August. The vapors from the swamp were unpleasant and dangerous. Another inconvenience was the difficulty in getting supplies to Lenin. In order to attract little attention, the faithful Shotman alternated with a female comrade, A.N. Tokareva, in bringing things.
In almost complete isolation, it was surprising that Lenin snapped out of his depression by mid-August. He was able to write several articles and work on State and Revolution. Yet he feared that the Bonapartist phase of the revolution was about to begin. This expectation kept him politically inactive.
On August 8, a party conference convened which allegedly represented about 150,000 party members.(6) Siefeld attended as a delegate from Odessa. Lenin was honorary president, but the conference was dominated by Stalin. It ratified the formal adherence of the jailed Trotsky and his group to the Bolsheviks. More than any other socialist group, Trotskys Mezhrayonka contributed to the Tsars overthrow. Trotsky also held strong support from the sailors. His apparatus was better organized than Lenins although Lenin had broader mass support and a stronger propaganda machine. The merging of the two groups was in line with German wishes, for together they created a truly effective insurrectional force.
The conference preached a united front of the internationalists against the defencists, and formulated a hold-the-line resolution which held the seizure of power to be the goal of the revolutionary classes. But what else could it say ? There was a suggestion that socialism could be built up even if there were no proletarian revolution in the West ; this constituted an abandonment of a basic tenet of the creed, and one which fitted German interests. The most visible change was that the slogan advocating all power to the soviets was revoked : the soviet had turned strongly against the Bolsheviks. For Lenin, any institution was an instrument of power. If it served his political interests, it was good ; it if did not, it was badno organization could have a genuine value for and in itself.
The Bolshevik conference aroused much ire and evoked criticism of the government for not finding Lenin. On August 15 an ukas was issued authorizing administrative arrest and deportation of persons dangerous to the defense and internal security of the state and to the freedom achieved by the revolution. Two days later, another decree threatened with prison terms, of indefinite periods at hard labor, persons guilty of violence with the intent to change the state structure, to sever from Russia any of its parts, to remove the organs of supreme state power, or to prevent the exercise of state authority. Revolution was thus outlawed, but Lenin could not know that these laws would be invoked only against generals trying to defend their country against the external enemy.
On the face of it, Lenins legal jeopardy had worsened. There was fear that hunters might inadvertently discover Lenins hide-out which, for that matter, would become uninhabitable in cold weather. The decision was made to remove Lenin to Finland, but the border was well guarded. Shotman and another Finn, Ejno A. Rakhya, systematically tested all nearby border check points ; they decided that a simple crossing with false papers was too dangerous. It was decided that Lenin should travel as a stoker on a locomotive operated by a friend of Shotman.
One day, allegedly early in September but more likely by the middle of August, Lenin and his party left the barn and walked about six miles through the bush to a railroad station. This walk at night was slightly hazardous ; Yemelyanov, who acted as guide, lost his way. A river had to be crossed and a brush fire caused trouble. At the station, Yemelyanov was arrested as a suspect, but Lenin and Rakhya, who had been hiding in the dark, jumped on the train in the best American hobo tradition. Finally they reached a place near the border at which point they waited till the next evening in the apartment of comrade Kalske. By nightfall, G. Jalawa, the friendly engineer, was ready. Wearing a wig, make-up, and appropriate clothing, Lenin mounted the locomotive and began to toss wood into the fire. The train reached the border check point. When it appeared that the control was strict, the engineer drove the locomotive forward, as though to take water, and put Lenin across.(7)
While Lenin changed roles from stoker to revolutionary, he asked Shotman to return the manuscript of State and Revolution which he had entrusted to him. A car was waiting to carry Lenin to a safe apartment. The next day he traveled to Lakhti, where he remained for two days. Then he moved to the village of Zhalkala, to the home of the parents of the very young and pretty Lidia P. Parviainen, Rakhyas wife. There he is said to have stayed for about ten days and to have enjoyed the home-made sweets. Finally, Constantin Petrovich Ivanov disguised himself as a pastor and moved to Helsinki, the Finnish capital, where he stayed with a comrade, Kustaa Rowio who, since the February revolution, had been in charge of the city police ! Rowio had a fine Marxist library ; Lenin began to work. During one night (we do not know exactly when), he stayed in the house of Karl Wiik, who had been deeply involved in the northern underground. There Lenin read Jules Michelets account of the terror in the French Revolution.(8)
The Germans, meanwhile, were not satisfied with Lenins performance and were hesitating. They wanted the Bolsheviks to concentrate more on organizing and less on agitating. For a while the Germans attempted to pull additional socialist groups into their net and through an international conference at Stockholm (September 5-12, 1917) sought to enhance socialist unity. But this tactic failed, partly because of Bolshevik sabotage and partly because the moderate socialists wavered.
By the middle of August the military joined conservative and middle-of-the-road politicians to map out a program of restoring order in Russia. Rumors of an impending military coup were thickening.
Early in September, a conflict pitted the government against the high command. The military, under General Lavr Kornilov, attempted to seize control.(9) The frightened socialists rallied around the soviet. The Bolsheviks, who had recently treated the soviet, the Mensheviks, and the Social Revolutionaries as traitors, reversed themselves and joined the socialist counter-revolutionaries in opposition to the military counter-revolutionaries. Suddenly there occurred a resurgence of the cry, All power to the soviet !
No one bothered to ask Lenins advice. However, three days after the united front had been improvised, Lenin provided tactical advice : the Bolsheviks should join with the other socialists in fighting Kornilov but should not support the government. This was a typical Lenin prescription on the subject of how to swim without getting wet.
The Bolsheviks exploited the opportunity to enlarge their militant organization and pressed forward to obtain the weapons which the government was distributing. After Kornilov was defeated (largely through railroad strikes and sabotage), the Bolsheviks ignored the governments request to return the weapons. The Kornilov affair provided the Bolsheviks with an unexpected gain, for it discredited most of the parties that were represented in both the government and in the soviet.
For the first time in the incessant voting exercised to keep the soviet representative of public opinion, Petrograd factory workers during September returned a slim Bolshevik majority. In the Petrograd soviet the military deputies sided with the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks also gained a majority in the Moscow soviet, and early in October won an election in the Moscow district. This major reversal occurred at a moment when practically all of the ranking Bolshevik leaders were in prison or in hiding. A few days later, partly as a result of this switch, Trotsky was released from jail and elected president of the Petrograd soviet. The government instituted a purge of military officers, but by now it lacked any real power. A front organization (the Committee for the Peoples Struggle Against Counter-revolution) insisted upon the release of all those who had been unjustly accused. Virtually all the perpetrators of the July uprising, including Trotsky, were released outright or set free on bail. The amount set for bail was no less than 8,000 rubles for the main defendants, but the Central Committee was able to pay.(10) Chaos was spreading.
On September 13 the Petrograd soviet adopted a resolution calling for a cabinet which would be responsible to the soviet. The next day Lenin wrote an article, entitled Compromises,(11) advocating all power to the soviets and a government of Social Revolutionaries and Mensheviks responsible to the soviets. He went on to say that, if the new government were to guarantee full freedom of propaganda under conditions of real and complete democracy, there would be a possibility of peaceful progress of the revolution and of a peaceful solution of the party strife within the soviets. Such a possibility occurs only extremely rarely in history, Lenin added, and the present opportunity may last for only a few days, or for a week or two, but it still would be extremely valuable to utilize the unexpected chance. Zinovyev had stated more clearly a few days earlier, in an article What Not To Do, that an insurrectional attempt would herald the fate of the Paris Commune for the revolution.
But on September 16 Lenin added in a postscript that the proposal for a compromise was already too late and asserted that Kerensky was about to consolidate his position with the help of the bourgeoisie. There seemed to be no basis for this statementno significant political change had occurred to invalidate Lenins compromise proposal. But Lenins thinking had for some reason suddenly taken a dramatic turn. Why ?
1 Alliluyev was Stalins father-in-law.
2 Krupskaya, p. 366. Walter, p. 335, relates that Stassova reported a rumor according to which evidence had been found in the police archives that Lenin was an agent provocateur. Was this perhaps the documentation on Lenin II ?
3 Shub, p. 216.
4 Trotsky had been associated with the Mezhrayonka which presumably was supported before March, 1917, by Parvus ; at that time, Trotsky was living in France, Spain, and the United States.
5 Shotman, op. cit., p. 396.
6 This figure probably should be much smaller since party membership was down significantly. The best evidence is that the 100,000 mark was reached only late in 1917. It is also asserted that the Bolsheviks were now publishing forty papers, printing 1,500,000 issues per week. (Istoricheskii Arkhiv (1955), No. 5, p. 201). This means that the tirage of the average paper was very small and that organized party membership must be counted merely in the tens of thousands. See also Schapiro, Origin, p. 167.
7 For more details, see Shotman, pp. 400-411.
8 Futrell, p. 18.
9 The attempts by the right to restore an orderly regime in Russia prove that, to make revolutions or counter-revolutions, money is not enough. One group collected four million rubles but they did not know how to spend the money and spent only about 500,000 rubles for ineffectual propaganda. A maximum of 800,000 rubles was given to Kornilov for operations to support his military action. (Actually, the amount turned over may have been far less.) Hence there was, in orders of magnitude, just as much money available to this group as to the Germans. But the ingredients of leadership, organization, and purpose were lacking. Money is indeed just one of the prerequisites of revolution. Incidentally, the planners of the counter-coup had intelligence that the Bolsheviks were planning another demonstration or uprising by September 10. This was countermanded. (The change may have been connected with Lenins departure for Finland.) Thereupon, the military decided to stage a Bolshevik coup themselves, and 100,000 rubles were allotted. By the time 26,000 rubles were spent, a high ranking general vetoed the scheme. (Browder-Kerensky, op. cit., III, 1527-1542.)
10 Yelena D. Stassova, Stranitsy zhizni i borby (Moscow : Gospolitizdat, 1957), p. 99.
11 Selected Works, Vol. VI. pp. 208-214.