TROTSKY OPPOSED BOLSHEVIKS
Trotsky’s experience in the Russian working-class movement prior to 1917 was essentially the experience of an emigre. From the outset of his acquaintance with Lenin he became an opponent of the Bolsheviks in general and of Lenin in particular. At first he was definitely on the side of the Mensheviks. Then he broke with them to take up a position between the two contending forces, calling for unity where unity was impossible, while reserving for Lenin and the Bolsheviks the most bitter of his polemics. On the wave of the revolution of 1917 he capitulated to Lenin as the master Revolutionary, in the hope that in due time the Master’s mantle would fall upon him.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 67
Yet it had occurred to me that Trotsky, who was essentially an intellectual aristocrat, not to say an intellectual snob, was somewhat out of place in the Bolshevik milieu.
Duranty, Walter. I Write as I Please. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1935, p. 199
In point of fact, I was resisting art as I had resisted revolution earlier in life, and later, Marxism; as I had resisted, for several years, Lenin and his methods.
Trotsky, Leon. My Life. Gloucester, Massachusetts: P. Smith, 1970, p. 148
LENIN CHOSE STALIN TO SOLVE PROBLEMS
I well remember that in one of my conversations with Lenin in 1921 he referred to Stalin as “our Nutcracker” and explained that if the “political bureau were faced with a problem which needed a lot of sorting out Stalin was given the job.”
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 72
…wherever the situation seemed most hopeless, wherever incompetence and disloyalty were weakening the cause, on no matter what front and under any conditions, there Stalin was sent, with the results we have seen outlined above.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin, Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 50
…Taking advantage of the traditional hatred felt in the province for everything Russian, the social revolutionaries and their Mensheviks allies were agitating for secession from the USSR and the setting up of an independent state of Georgia.
As usual the task of cleaning up other peoples failures descended on Stalin. Taking Ordjonikidze with him, he hurried to Tiflis to settle the problem once and for all.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 59
Voroshilov states, “During 1918-1920, Comrade Stalin was probably the only person whom the Central Committee dispatched from one fighting front to another, choosing always those places most fraught with danger for the revolution. Where it was comparatively quiet, and everything going smoothly, where we had successes, Stalin was not to be found. But where for various reasons the Red Army was cracking up, where the counterrevolutionary forces through their successes were menacing the very existence of the Soviet Government, where confusion and panic might any moment develop into helplessness, catastrophe, there Stalin made his appearance. He took no sleep at night, he organized, he took the leadership into his own strong hands, he relentlessly broke through difficulties, and turned the corner, saved the situation.”
Life of Stalin, A Symposium. New York: Workers Library Publishers, 1930, p. 49
In 1919 Stalin, then Commissar of Nationalities, was also made Commissar of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspectorate, an organization created by Lenin to have teams of workers and peasants inspect government functioning in order to check corruption and bureaucracy. This method of mass democratic control embodied the essence of Lenin’s concept of how a proletarian state should function. The fact that he appointed Stalin as its director shows his faith in him–as he testified in 1922 when Stalin’s control of two commissariats was questioned.
“We are [Lenin wrote] solving these problems, and we must have a man to whom any representative of the nationalities may come and discuss matters at length. Where are we to find such a man? I think that even Preobrazhensky could not name anybody else but Comrade Stalin.
This is true of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Directorate. The work is gigantic. But to handle the work of investigation properly, we must have a man of authority in charge, otherwise we shall be submerged in petty intrigues.”
That the Inspectorate could ever have worked, given the state of the inherited bureaucratic apparatus, is doubtful, and the degree of Stalin’s responsibility for its failures is not clear. But Lenin’s open attack, regardless of his motive, could not but serve to undermine Stalin’s authority as General Secretary and hence disrupt the Party.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 49-50
Lenin made no bones about his support of Stalin in that ministry of the ministries, when, replying to the objections of oppositionists, he said:
“Now about the Workers’-Peasants’ Inspection. It’s a gigantic undertaking…. It is necessary to have at the head of it a man of authority, otherwise we shall sink in a morass, drown in petty intrigues. I think that even Preobrazhensky could not name any other candidature than that of Comrade Stalin.
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 346
… But while Trotsky won fame by his speeches, Stalin was sent to one critical front after another as the representative of the Central Committee, and was determining policy by short and concise telegrams to Lenin.
Pritt, Denis Nowell. The Moscow Trial was Fair. London: ” Russia To-day,” 1937, p. 10
Stalin was directly involved in all of the major events of this time. He was already influential and indispensable to Lenin. He had signed the statement warning the right-wing members, who were agitating for coalition, and he had rejected the Menshevik proposal that Lenin and Trotsky should be excluded from a coalition government. He was to support Lenin strongly during the party crisis over the peace treaty with Germany. At the same time he was demonstrating his capacity for handling numerous responsibilities.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 102
“Lenin could not get along without Stalin even for a single day,” Pestkovsky wrote. “Probably for that reason our office in the Smolny was under the wing of Lenin. In the course of the day he would call Stalin out an endless number of times, or would appear in our office and lead him away. Most of the day Stalin spent with Lenin.”
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 105
The same Pestkovsky refers to close collaboration between Lenin and Stalin. “Lenin could not get along without Stalin even for a single day. Probably for that reason our office in the Smolny was ‘under the wing” of Lenin. In the course of the day, he would call Stalin out an endless number of times, or would appear in our office and lead him away. Most of the day Stalin spent with Lenin. What they did there, I don’t know, but on one occasion, upon entering Lenin’s office, I discovered an interesting picture. On the wall hung a large map of Russia. Before it stood two chairs. And on them stood Ilyich and Stalin, moving their fingers over the northern part, I think across Finland.
…At that period, Lenin had great need of Stalin. There can be no doubt about that. Zinoviev and Kamenev had been waging a struggle against Lenin;… He [Stalin], therefore, played the role of chief-of-staff or of a clerk on responsible missions under Lenin.
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 247
Trotsky made speeches [in the spring and summer of 1919] which were so violent one could see he was frightened. Defeat, capture and death began to menace the Soviet leaders. Lenin however, kept calm. He did not indulge in the histrionics of Trotsky but instead called Stalin to the rescue, to put things right at the chief point of danger– Petrograd.
What he had accomplished at Tsaritsyn and Viatka he was asked to repeat at Kronstadt and Petrograd.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 59
Stalin was a first-rate administrator, the only one Lenin could rely on. His judgment had been proved by now …he was a useful man to have beside one in a tight corner. Of Lenin’s colleagues he had emerged as the only man, Trotsky excepted, fit for the highest places.
Snow, Charles Percy. Variety of Men. New York: Scribner, 1966, p. 249
While Lenin remained in Moscow to hold all the strings in his hand and Trotsky rose to new heights as commissar of war, the other Soviet leaders were sent on special missions to one crisis spot after another as need arose. Lenin showed the same confidence in Stalin as a troubleshooter as he had in 1917, choosing him to deal with some of the most critical situations. Nor was his confidence misplaced. In the chaotic conditions that were general in 1918-19 Stalin did not lose his nerve but showed he could exercise leadership and get things done, however rough his methods, including summary execution without trial.
Stalin’s first assignment was to the key position of Tsaritsyn, on the Volga (later renamed Stalingrad, and now Volgograd), with the responsibility of making sure that the food supplies to Moscow and Petrograd were not cut off. Twenty-four hours after his arrival on June 6, he reported that he had dealt with a “bacchanalia of profiteering” by fixing food prices and introducing rationing. On July 7, the day after the attempted Socialist Revolutionary coup he reassured Lenin:
“Everything will be done to prevent possible surprises here. Rest assured that our hand will not tremble. I’m chasing up and bawling out whoever requires it. We shall spare no one, neither ourselves nor others. But we’ll send you the food.”
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 98
STALIN PROPOSED TROTSKY BE ADMITTED TO THE PARTY
At the sixth Congress of the Bolshevik party, it was here on Stalin’s proposal, obviously with the approval of Lenin, that Leon Trotsky was admitted to the party.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 101
When Stalin proposed that Trotsky and his colleagues be admitted to the party he was little concerned about the personal relations between Trotsky and himself.
Here was the issue which was to form the great divide in the Bolshevik ranks. Could Russia advance to socialism without a revolution in the West?
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 102
From 1898, when Trotsky was 19, to 1917, he had hardly been in Russia; and until, on Stalin’s proposal, he and his group were accepted into the Bolshevik party in July, 1917, he had fought the Bolsheviks with voice and pen.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 124
And while Stalin was only the executor of the union [with the left wing–the Internationalists], it is one of the many ironies of the revolution that under his guidance Trotsky was admitted into the Bolshevist sanctum, and elected for the first time a member of the new Central Committee, where he stayed until Stalin, in a different role, expelled him.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 130
TROTSKY JOINED PARTY WITH ULTERIOR MOTIVES
When he joined the Bolshevik party he did not regard it as a collective body which would have any power over him. On the contrary Trotsky regarded his joining as a means of acquiring power over the party and becoming second in command to Lenin.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 101
Characteristically Trotsky made a spectacular entry into the Bolshevik Party. He brought with him into the Party his entire motley following of dissident leftists.
First as Foreign Commissar and then as War Commissar, Trotsky was the chief spokesman of the so-called Left Opposition within the Bolshevik Party.
Footnote: Following his removal from the post of Foreign Commissar, Trotsky publicly admitted the error of his opposition to Lenin at Brest-Litovsk and again offered unreserved co-operation with Lenin.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 191
In August 1917 Trotsky made a sensational political somersault. After 14 years of opposition to Lenin and the Bolsheviks, Trotsky applied for membership in the Bolshevik Party.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 190
I had been told, for instance, that Trotsky as a former Menshevik did in a sense represent a kind of minority section in the Bolshevik party, which he had joined only in 1917,…
Duranty, Walter. I Write as I Please. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1935, p. 213
TROTSKY’S HUGE EGO AND NOT A TEAM PLAYER
The disagreement [between Trotsky and the Bolsheviks] was fundamental and was never eliminated. It was now to appear again in quarrels with Stalin concerning the Red Army. The fact is, he [Trotsky] never really accepted the principal governing the relationship of Lenin’s party with the masses because he was incapable of believing in the creative power of the proletariat. He was an egotist, with all the over-confidence of the egotist. He was of the stuff of which dictators are made, and his conception of leadership had as its premise the recognition of his abilities plus a proletariat which would do as he ordered. They had to be organized. He would organize them as part of a machine under the control of a staff drawn from the middle classes–the intelligentsia and the Army officers, with himself at the head. He was efficient. He admired efficiency. But he could never surrender himself to the idea of integrating himself with the proletariat, or believe that the qualities he saw in the middle-classes were latent in the proletariat also and that the revolutionary struggle would bring the working-classes into the ranks of leadership. They could be educated in the long run, he thought, but not in the short. His intellectual snobbery ruined him as a revolutionary.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 125
In his memoirs British agent Bruce Lockhart writes, “we had not handled Trotsky wisely. At the time of the first Revolution he was in exile in America. He was then neither a Menshevik nor a Bolshevik. He was what Lenin called a Trotskyist — that is to say, an individualist and an opportunist. A revolutionary with the temperament of an artist and physical courage, he had never been and never could be a good party man.”
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 190
Before the Revolution the Bolshevik and Menshevik wings of the Russian social democracy were in perpetual conflict. The head of the former was Lenin, the highest authority among the latter was held by Plekhanov. Trotsky could recognize no other authority than his own. His temperament and his whole nature drove him to radicalism.
It is remarkable that everything in Trotsky’s character and career that helped him forward also contributed to his fall. Why? Because everything promoted his radical defect, his vanity.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 119
It was entirely intelligible that the young Trotsky should join the revolutionaries…. Very soon, however, he lost the vivid concrete love and compassion for the individual human being. More and more he saw only the masses in whose name and for whose benefit he pursued his social and political ideas. The sense of being an intellectual revolutionary leader lifted Trotsky in his own estimation above the masses. He felt his superiority to all whom he met; he never felt close to the masses, whether Russian or Jewish, but enthroned himself, quite unconsciously, in Olympian aloofness above real life, above the masses. He remained essentially an aristocrat.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 121
Trotsky’s habit of always taking up a standpoint of his own and his clearly paraded sense of his own superiority were bound, when Lenin died, to lead to trouble. His first personal conflict then came in the Politbureau, and it was with Zinoviev.
Kamenev was entirely loyal to Zinoviev, and in politics almost servile.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 129
Perusal of those articles which have survived from Stalin’s writings in Turukhansk shows that their author’s distaste for the methods and the personality of Trotsky was not dimmed since their last clash. In one of these he suggests with some truth that as a result of the years spent in pretending to stand above the Party squabbles, Trotsky had become congenitally incapable of sharing anyone else’s position but must at all costs differentiate himself from all other groups. In view of the fact that Trotsky had adopted such a pointless stand on the war question, this suggestion is perhaps the most charitable of all.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 36
Two more completely contrasting personalities cannot be imagined. Trotsky, the revolutionary per excellence, brilliant as an orator and the ablest polemical writer of his time, but deficient in constructive ability and congenitally incapable of working in harmony with others.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 62
One further point in Stalin’s favor was the personal relations existing between Trotsky and the other leading figures. For this Trotsky had only himself to blame. Arrogant, cynical, contemptuous of mediocrity, his whole career had been dotted with violent outbursts directed against innumerable lesser personages.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 63
Both temperamental and political factors were involved in Trotsky’s fall. Throughout his long revolutionary career, up to 1917, Trotsky was a man of such strong individuality that he could never remain long within the ranks of an organized political party or group. He had to be leader or nothing. He came into frequent and bitter clashes with Lenin, whom, as late as 1913, he called “that professional exploiter of every backwardness in the Russian labor movement,” adding: “the whole edifice of Leninism at the present time is based on lies and falsifications, and contains within itself the poisonous beginning of its own disintegration.”
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 94
In this process, the factor of purely individual interest plays a much less important role than we ourselves might be tempted to believe. Animosity between individuals, though it may often have resulted from Opposition, has never in any circumstances been the cause of it. And it is only in the case of Trotsky that we have to take into account a certain amount of strictly personal element, namely Trotsky’s opinion of his own importance, which he possesses in a very high degree. His very self-willed nature, his intolerance of any form of criticism (“He never forgets an attack on his ambition,” said Lenin) and his disappointment at not being put at the head of affairs without any associates, have a great deal to do with his hostility. Ideology is the arsenal in which this hostility naturally equips itself with a perfect armament.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 159
…he [Trotsky] finds the support and complicity of a motley collection of enemies of the Soviet regime, and even without referring to his present political activities, one cannot blind one’s eyes to the dagger-thrusts which have been aimed by him and his followers at the USSR and at the Communist International. They really constituted an attempt to assassinate them, an effort to destroy them.
Need one repeat that the personal factor undoubtedly very largely influenced Trotsky’s attitude? Even during Lenin’s lifetime, his incompatibility with all the other leaders became apparent. “It is very difficult to work with this comrade,” grumbled Zinoviev, who, however, was more than once to be found in his camp. Trotsky was much too much of a Trotskyist!
Up to what point was it Trotsky’s despotic character, his rancor at being supplanted, at being neglected among the others instead of shining alone, his “Bonapartism,” that induced him to break with the Party and to construct for himself a sort of patchwork imitation Leninism, and to start a political war with the more or less implicitly expressed object of the formation of a new Party, namely a Fourth International? It is very difficult to say. One cannot, however, avoid remarking that Trotsky led an intensive Opposition against the Party in 1921 and again in 1923 and that, in the interval, in the year 1922, in a speech before the Fourth Congress, he defended all the points of view of the majority on the thorny question of the NEP in a very concise manner. This did not prevent the Trotskyist Opposition, brandishing the theory of permanent Revolution, from endeavoring to show, on the morrow of the Congress, that the Revolution had come to a standstill and that the NEP was a capitalist degeneration, a kind of Thermidor. These contradictory attitudes which followed one another at such a short interval of time seem to show the intervention of some artificial factor of an exclusively personal nature.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 165
Nor was Trotsky’s personality an asset. He was widely disliked for arrogance and lack of tact: as he himself admitted, he had a reputation for “unsociability, individualism, aristocratism. Even his admiring biographer concedes he “could rarely withstand the temptation to remind others of their errors and to insist on his superiority and insight. Scorning the collegiate style of Lenin and the other Bolshevik leaders, he demanded, as commander of the country’s armed forces, unquestioned obedience to himself, giving rise to talk of “Bonapartist” ambitions. Thus in November 1920 angered by reports of insubordination among Red Army troops facing Wrangel, he issued an order that contained the following passage: “I, your Red leader, appointed by the government and invested with the confidence of the people, demand complete faith in myself.” All attempts to question his orders were to be dealt with by summary execution. His high-handed administrative style attracted the attention of the Central Committee, which in July 1919 subjected him to severe criticism. His ill-considered attempt to militarize labor in 1920, not only cast doubts on his judgment, but reinforced suspicions of Bonapartism. In March 1922 he addressed a long statement to the Politburo, urging that the party withdraw from direct involvement in managing the economy. The Politburo rejected his proposals and Lenin, as was his wont with Trotsky’s epistles, scribbled on it, “Into the Archive,” but his opponents used it as evidence that Trotsky wanted to “liquidate the leading role of the Party.”
Refusing to involve himself in the routine of day-to-day politics, frequently absent from cabinet meetings and other administrative deliberations, Trotsky assumed the post of a statesman above the fray. “For Trotsky, the main things were the slogan, the speaker’s platform, the striking gesture, but not routine work. His administrative talents were, indeed, of a low order. The hoard of documents in the Trotsky archive at Harvard University, with numerous communications to Lenin, indicate a congenital incapacity for formulating succinct, practical solutions: as a rule, Lenin neither commented nor acted on them.
For all these reasons, when in 1922 Lenin made arrangements to distribute his responsibilities, he passed over Trotsky. He was much concerned that his successors govern in a collegial manner: Trotsky, never a “team player,” simply did not fit. We have the testimony of Lenin’s sister, Maria Ulianova who was with him during the last period of his life, that while Lenin valued Trotsky’s talents and industry, and for their sake kept his feelings to himself, “he did not feel sympathy for Trotsky”: Trotsky “had too many qualities that made it extraordinarily difficult to work collectively with him.” Stalin suited Lenin’s needs better. Hence, Lenin assigned to Stalin ever greater responsibilities, with the result that as he faded from the scene, Stalin assumed the role of his surrogate, and thus in fact, if not in name, became his heir.
[Footnote]: According to her [Lenin’s sister] Trotsky, in contrast to Lenin, could not control his temper, and at one meeting of the Politburo called her brother a “hooligan.” Lenin turned white as chalk but made no reply:…
Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1993, p. 459-460
“But how about Trotsky [Budu said]? He never was corrupt, was he? He always led an orderly private life with his wife, Natalie Sedov.”
He [Stalin] looked me straight in the eyes and said, “With Trotsky it’s different. He’s not corrupt, that’s true. But he carries within himself another danger that a popular revolution can’t tolerate: He’s an individualist to his fingertips, a hater of the masses, a revolutionary Narcissus. Read his books. He writes about us, about men, as ‘those tailless, evil, cruel monkeys called men.’ He hated us and he despised us because he thought himself the most intelligent and the most brilliant of us all for the sole reason that he knew how to wield his hand and his tongue cleverly. What was he doing in a revolutionary party? He represented only that dying civilization which we are charged with replacing by another, a more fruitful one.”
If humanity ever reaches the stage of humanism, it will only get there through a civilization of the masses. Either that, or it will arrive nowhere! It will be destroyed en route!”
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 130-131
There was little of that subtlety in Trotsky, who could rarely withstand the temptation to remind others of their errors and to insist on his superiority and foresight.
His very foresight, no less real because of its ostentatiousness, was offensive…. He was the born troublemaker.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 34
Trotsky was full of his own personality…. My father [Beria] found him [Trotsky] extremely arrogant. In that respect the contrast with Stalin was striking. “In Trotsky’s company one felt like an insignificant worm. Stalin, on the contrary, knew how to listen to someone and make him feel he was important.” That was his strength.
Beria, Sergo. Beria, My Father: Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. London: Duckworth, 2001, p. 290
Yet Trotsky lacked Stalin’s day-to-day accessibility. He had the kind of hauteur which peeved dozens of potential supporters. He was also devoid of Stalin’s tactical cunning and pugnacity, and there was a suspicion among Trotsky’s followers that their idol’s illnesses at crucial junctures of factional struggle had a psychosomatic dimension.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 227
STALIN AND LENIN OPPOSE TROTSKY
In the final analysis the whole dispute, from the first clash at the formation of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party to the purge of the Red Army in 1938, resolve’s itself into a prolonged struggle between revolution and counter-revolution, although it is not thought of in those terms until the final stages. At the outset Lenin and Stalin stood together against Trotsky and his colleagues on the question of which class was to lead the Revolution. After the conquest of power Lenin and Stalin stood firmly for the signing of the Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty: Trotsky vacillated between “No War and No Peace” and a revolutionary war, when the Soviet Government had no arms with which to fight. Stalin demanded that the Red Army be led by leaders who were Bolsheviks: Trotsky handed over the army staff positions to recruited officers of the Czarist Army. Trotsky proposed the militarization of Labor, with the Trade Unions as compulsory State institutions: Lenin and Stalin stood firmly for the Trade Unions as voluntary organizations and against Labor militarization. Lenin and Stalin declared that Socialism can be built-in one country: Trotsky insisted that the Russian Revolution must fail unless it was immediately supported by a pan-European revolution.
It is impossible to view these issues in sequence without observing that Trotsky’s practical proposals were disastrous and his opinions defeatist.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 156
Trotsky was always in opposition. He would demand this or the other measure at a time when the rest of the party leaders thought that it would be dangerous. The Trotskyist theory at time may, however, be defined fairly clearly. Trotsky’s fundamental contention was that there was an unbridgeable conflict of interest between the industrial workers and the peasantry. He regarded Communism as the representative of the interests only of the industrial workers. He wanted a dictatorship of the proletariat that was directed also against the peasantry. In this he was diametrically opposed to the views of Lenin, and therefore also of Stalin; for Lenin saw the basis of the regime of the dictatorship of the proletariat in a political and social alliance between the working-class and the peasantry–under the lead, of course, of the workers.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 132
Stalin set the issue “Leninism vs. Trotskyism.”
Stalin wrote, “Lenin speaks of the alliance of the proletariat and the toiling strata of the peasantry as the foundation of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In Trotsky we find the “hostile collision” of the “proletarian Vanguard” with “the broad masses of the peasantry.”
Lenin speaks of the leadership of the toiling and exploited masses by the proletariat. In Trotsky we find “contradictions in the situation of the workers’ government in a backward country with an overwhelming majority of peasants.”
According to Lenin, the Revolution draws its forces chiefly from among the workers and peasants of Russia itself. According to Trotsky, the necessary forces can be found only “on the arena of the world proletarian Revolution.”
But what is to happen if the world Revolution is fated to arrive with some delay? Is there any ray of hope for our Revolution? Trotsky does not admit any ray of hope, for “the contradictions in the situation of the workers’ government…can be solved only…on the arena of the world Revolution.” According to this there is but one prospect for our Revolution: to vegetate in its own contradictions and decay to its roots while waiting for the world Revolution.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 157
From the welter of words, two main divisions crystallized; on one side Lenin and Plekhanov, on the other Martov, Axelrod, and the 24 year old Trotsky.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 19
The Jews, I think, are the most active people. You see, Lenin assembled the Politburo: he was a Russian himself, Stalin was a Georgian, and there were three Jews–Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev. Furthermore, Trotsky was a continual opponent of Lenin on all major issues both before and after the Revolution. Still, Lenin included him in the Politburo.
Already in 1921 it had become impossible to work with Trotsky.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 126
Trotsky was a crook, a 100 percent crook,…
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 377
There was never, at any time, any difference of opinion between Lenin and Stalin.
On the other hand, they both had bitter opponents in the Party itself, especially Trotsky, an obstinate and verbose Menshevik, who considered that the inflexibility of the Bolsheviks afflicted the Party with sterility.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 30
Lenin added: “Trotsky and his like are worst than all the liquidators who express their thoughts openly–for Trotsky & Co. deceive the workers, conceal the malady, and make its discovery and cure impossible. All those who support the Trotsky group are supporting the policy of lies and deception towards the workers, the policy which consists in masking the policy of liquidation.”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 45
Lenin wanted to be certain of having a majority. He saw Trotsky as the only possible threat to his preponderance. At the end of 1920, during the debate on the trade unions, he endeavored to enfeeble Trotsky and reduce his influence. He went so far as to place Trotsky in a ridiculous position on the transportation problem. It was urgently necessary to put the ruined railroads back into working order. Lenin knew perfectly well that Trotsky had no aptitude for this task and had no appropriate talent to accomplish it. Nevertheless Trotsky was appointed people’s commissar for transport. He brought to the task his enthusiasm, his zeal, his eloquence, and his leadership methods, but the only result was confusion. Trotsky, conscious of his failure, resigned from the job.
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 26
STALIN’S STYLE OF LEADING DIFFERS FROM LENIN’S
His [Stalin] method of working is somewhat different from Lenin’s. Lenin usually presented his “theses” for discussion by the Political Bureau, committee, or commission. He would supplement his written document with a speech amplifying the ideas contained in it, after which every member would be invited to make his critical observations, to amend or provide an alternative. Lenin would consult specialists on particular aspects of a problem, and no one ever went to such lengths to talk matters over with the workers individually and collectively.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 172
Stalin on the other hand rarely presents theses and resolutions first. He will introduce a “problem” or a “subject” requiring a decision in terms of policy. The members of the Political Bureau, the Central Committee, or the commission of which he may be the chairman, are invited to say what they think about the problem and its solution. People known to be specially informed on the topic are invited to contribute to discussion, whether they are members of the committee are not. Out of the fruits of such collective discussion, either he himself will formulate the decision or resolution, or someone specially fitted will prepare the draft.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 172
Stalin holds the view that decisions made by one person are nearly always one-sided. He does not believe in “intuition’s.” He regards the Bolshevik Central Committee as the collective wisdom of the Party, containing the best managers of industry, military leaders, agitators, propagandists, organizers, the men and women best acquainted with the factories, mills, mines, farms, and different nationalities comprising the life of the Soviet Union. And the Political Bureau of this Central committee he regards as its best and most competent part. If its members are otherwise they will not hold their positions for long. Hence he believes in everyone having freedom to correct the mistakes of individuals, and in there being less chance of a collective decision proving lop-sided than an individual one. But once a decision is arrived at he likes to see it carried out with military precision and loyalty. Throughout his career his victories have been triumphs of team-work and of his native capacity to lead the team by securing a common understanding of the task in hand.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 172
Suppose today Stalin outlines a policy which he thinks should be adopted. Others criticize it, not to weaken it, but to fill in possible holes. Stalin answers. Some amendments are accepted; the majority fail. The final decision is reached only when everyone is convinced that no improvement is possible. Such is the real government of Soviet Russia.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 103
Stalin was less sure of himself than Lenin. Instead of saying, “I am right unless you can prove me wrong,” he would ask the advice of others and gradually form a composite opinion and decision. Once that opinion was formed, however, he was much more rigid than Lenin about subsequent misgivings or opposition.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 164
He [Stalin] loved to hear the other members of the leadership expounding their views, while he would wait until the end before giving his own, which would usually clinch the matter.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 220
Bazhanov goes on to describe Stalin’s behavior at meetings of the Politburo and the Central Committee. Stalin never presided at these:
“He smoked his pipe and spoke very little. Every now and then he would start walking up and down the conference room regardless of the fact that we were in session. Sometimes he would stop right in front of a speaker, watching his expression and listing to his argument while still puffing away at his pipe….
He had the good sense never to say anything before everyone else had his argument fully developed. He would sit there, watching the way the discussion was going. Whenever everyone had spoken, he would say: “Well, comrades, I think the solution to this problem is such and such”–and he would then repeat the conclusions toward which the majority had been drifting.”
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 180
That’s how it is with Stalin, in terms of actual power, but according to all accounts he is far from domineering in dealing with his colleagues. Lenin, we are told, took a different attitude. He used to say: “Here is what I think our policy should be. If anyone has suggestions to offer or can make any improvements, I am willing to listen. Otherwise, let us consider my plan adopted.”
Stalin is more inclined to begin, if the subject matter discussion concerns foreign affairs: “I should like to hear from Molotov.” Then, he might continue, “Now, what does Voroshilov think on the military aspects of the subject,” and later he would ask Kaganovich about the matter in relation to industry and transportation.
Gradually he would get a compromise opinion from the Politburo, probably “leading” the discussion along the lines he desires, but not appearing to lay down the law, until the final conclusion is reached. Thus, superficially at least, he seems to act as a chairman of a board, or arbiter, rather than as the boss.
Duranty, Walter. Stalin & Co. New York: W. Sloane Associates, 1949, p. 90
As a rule, he was businesslike and calm; everybody was permitted to state his opinion. He addressed everyone in the same stern and formal manner. He had the knack of listening to people attentively, but only if they spoke to the point, if they knew what they were saying. Taciturn himself, he did not like talkative people and often interrupted those who spoke volubly with a curt “make it snappy” or “speak more clearly.” He opened conferences without introductory words. He spoke quietly, freely, never departing from the substance of the matter. He was laconic and formulated his thoughts clearly.
Zhukov, Georgi. Reminiscences and Reflections Vol. 1. Moscow: Progress Pub., c1985, p. 364
According to Bazhanov, who served for several years as a junior secretary in the Political Bureau, Stalin at the meetings of this high tribunal maintains his usual reserve. He seldom generalizes. He sees only concrete problems and seeks practical solutions. He attacks few questions and rarely makes mistakes.
“At the meetings of the Political Bureau,” he writes in his revelations, “I always had the impression that Stalin was much more inclined to follow events than to direct them. During discussions he would keep silent and listen attentively. He never would give his opinion until the debate was over and then would propose in a few words, as if it were his own idea, the solution on which the majority of his assistants had already agreed. For that reason his opinion was ordinarily adopted.
Stalin is not imaginative, but he is steadfast. He is not brilliant, but he knows his limitations. He is not universal; he is single-tracked. These properties may be defects, but in Stalin’s position they are sources of strength. He is a “big business man,” a type new in Russian political life. He is the carrier of that modern “ism” which has invaded the Old World–Americanism.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 337-338
TROTSKY HAD A HUGE EGO
Here is how war commissar Trotsky, addressing one of his spectacular mass rallies in Moscow, was described by the famous American foreign correspondent, Isaac Marcosson:
“Trotsky made his appearance in what actors call a good entrance…after a delay, and at the right psychological moment, he emerged from the wings and walked with quick steps to the little pulpit….
He inundated his hearers with a Niagara of speech, the like of which I have never heard. Vanity and arrogance stood out pre-eminently.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 186
Trotsky left nothing to chance. He was fond of quoting the words of the French Anarchist, Proudhon: “Destiny — I laugh at; and as for men, they are too ignorant, too enslaved for me to feel annoyed at them.”
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 212
Trotsky lacked much of the quality of the true statesman and leader. His brilliant gifts were marred, as his works continually show, by an extraordinary vanity. He was almost pathologically egocentric. He always played the strong, self-confident man; yet many of his actions showed that he was tortured by inhibitions, often, behind the mask of superiority, anything but sure of himself, and, in fact, that he was far from being the strong personality he tried to appear in public.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 118
The combination, so often found, of great gifts and unbounded vanity gave Trotsky from the outset a revolutionary career whose tragic end might be foreseen. For Trotsky was never ready to learn, wanted always to teach, could never endure the second-place but must always have the first.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 119
Thus there was much in Trotsky’s existence that flattered his almost morbid vanity and gave support to his self-insurance.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 123
When people say that Trotsky had an attractive personality, they are speaking mainly of his public persona, his appearance before great meetings, his writings, his dignity. But even so, he repelled many who felt him to be full of vanity, on the one hand, and irresponsible, on the other, in the sense that he tended to make a bright or “brilliant” formulation and press it to the end regardless of the danger.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 413
Trotsky was above politics, but he was imperious, flushed with an exaggerated sense of his importance, and flaunted his ego in a manner that made people think of Napoleon’s in embryo.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 164
TROTSKY ATTACKED LENIN
In a pamphlet entitled Our Political Tasks, published in 1904, Trotsky accused Lenin of trying to impose a “barracks-room regime” on the Russian radicals. In language startlingly similar to that which he was later to use in his attacks on Stalin, the young Trotsky denounced Lenin as “the leader of the reactionary wing of our party.”
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 188
Abroad again, after the defeat of the 1905 Revolution, Trotsky set up his own political headquarters in Vienna, attacking Lenin as “a candidate for the post of dictator,” launched a propaganda campaign to build his own movement….
“The whole construction of Leninism,” wrote Trotsky in a confidential letter to the Russian Menshevik leader Tscheidze, on February 23, 1913, “is at present built up on lies and contains the poisonous germ of its own disintegration.” Trotsky went on to tell his Menshevik associate that, in his opinion Lenin was nothing more than “a professional exploiter of every backwardness in the Russian workers movement.”
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 189
He [Trotsky] had passed the earlier 13 or 14 years in factional struggle against Lenin, assailing him with ferocious personal insults, as “slovenly attorney,” as “hideous caricature of Robespierre, malicious and morally repulsive,” as “exploiter of Russian backwardness,” “demoralizer of the Russian working-class,” etc., insults compared with which Lenin’s rejoinders were restrained, almost mild.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 249
Stalin had some cause to regard Trotsky’s elevation as a grievance, especially considering that this man had for a decade been one of Lenin’s most vociferous factional opponents.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 36
LENIN PREACHED DEMOCRATIC CENTRALISM
Loose talk, endless debate, public discussion, and voting on goals and tactics, perpetual compromise in the Democratic tradition among factions within and with critics outside, constant efforts to win more converts by opportunistic popular appeals — all these things, held Lenin, would be fatal to the enterprise…. What was needed was a centralized, regimented conspiracy of those who would give all their time to the crusade and would be supported and financed by party funds…. Elected delegates of local groups would then meet in Congress and decide by discussion what the party line should be. But even then, once a decision should be voted, all members must carry it out at any cost and regardless of their personal views. This principle of organization came to be known later as “Democratic centralism.”
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 36
… but, according to party rules, largely formulated by Lenin, and supported previously by Trotsky as well as Stalin, once the majority has ruled everyone in the Party is obligated loyally to support the decision. This is called “democratic centralism.” Not to do so is considered treason. Yet Trotsky and his supporters refused to abide by their own rules. They built up a secret organization with a secret printing press.
… Stalin explained his position on democratic centralism when I talked to him in 1926. I asked him “In Russia, according to the Communist Party Constitution, when the party has decided a question by what we call a Party caucus the minority is not permitted to agitate against the majority. We all know that majorities are sometimes wrong and that minorities are sometimes morally right. How can a wrong majority decision ever be righted?”
“We are a war party of several million people,” Stalin answered. “A fighting party must execute its decisions, not degenerate into a discussion club. At the time of a conference and before an election to a conference there is complete freedom of opinion. But once a decision has been reached it is no longer a question of a majority or minority but rather of getting everyone to work to execute the decision, not begin anew the debate.
“Russians love to discuss things, and private discussions go on continuously on every issue, but after a decision is made no one is allowed by any act to oppose it.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 26
The achievement and maintenance of the dictatorship of the proletariat are impossible without a Party strong and its cohesion and iron discipline. But iron discipline in the Party is impossible without unity of will and without absolute and complete unity of action on the part of all members of the Party. This does not mean of course that the possibility of a conflict of opinion within the Party is thus excluded. On the contrary, iron discipline does not preclude but presupposes criticism and conflicts of opinion within the Party. Least of all does it mean that the discipline must be “blind” discipline. On the contrary, iron discipline does not preclude but presupposes conscious and voluntary submission, for only conscious discipline can be truly iron discipline. But after a discussion has been closed, after criticism has run its course and a decision has been made, unity of will and unity of action of all Party members become indispensable conditions without which Party unity and iron discipline in the Party are inconceivable. [Lenin called this democratic centralism]
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 247
Lenin’s authoritarian bent underlies his distrust of spontaneity and lays stress on a rigid centralization which he called democratic but which, having arrived at its conclusions, would then broke no discussion.
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 62
TROTSKY’S EGO CAUSED HIM TO OPPOSE DEMOCRATIC CENTRALISM
Trotsky apparently opposed “centralism” then, as he was to do a quarter of a century later, less out of attachment to Democratic methods than out of opposition to dictation by anyone but itself. For the next fourteen years he fought Lenin. But also quarreled intermittently with the Menshevik leaders. He was detested by Plekhanov, although at times they made common cause against Lenin.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 48
By comparison with what he had said about Stalin, his [Lenin] characterization of Trotsky was more critical, in spite of the tribute to his greater talents. Lenin recalled a recent instance of Trotsky’s ‘struggle against the Central Committee’, in which Trotsky displayed ‘too far-reaching a self-confidence and a disposition to be too much attracted by the purely administrative side of affairs ‘. If the party were to choose between the ‘two most able men’ on the basis of these remarks only, the odds might have been slightly in Stalin’s favor. Not only were Trotsky’s shortcomings stressed with the greater emphasis; Lenin also hinted at Trotsky’s inclination to oppose himself to the Central Committee, a grave fault in the leader of a party which was bred in discipline, team-work, and was suspicious of ‘individualism’.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 248
TROTSKY DENOUNCED LENIN FOR BEING A REACTIONARY DICTATOR
Trotsky in turn denounced Lenin as the “head of the reactionary wing of our party” and a “dull caricature of the tragic intransigence of Jacobinism.” He further observed that Lenin’s conception of centralism would lead to a situation in which “the organization of the party takes the place of the party itself, the Central Committee takes the place of the organization, and finally the dictator takes a place of the Central Committee.” The Bolsheviks under “Maximilien Lenin,” he contended, were aiming at “a dictatorship over the proletariat.”
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 49
Trotsky condemned Lenin for “sectarian spirit, individualism of the intellectual, and ideological fetishism.”
Trotsky in turn wrote to Chkheidze that Lenin was a master at “petty squabbling” and that Leninism “flourishes on the dung-heap of sectarianism” and is “founded on lies and falsifications and carries within itself the poison germ of it’s own decomposition.” (Souvarine pp. 131 — 32)
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 51
[In a speech on the Trotskyist Opposition delivered at a joint plenum of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission of the CPSU on October 23, 1927 Stalin quoted Trotsky’s letter to Chkheidze in 1913 denouncing Lenin and said] Is it surprising, then, that Trotsky, who wrote in such an ill-mannered way about the great Lenin, whose shoelaces he
was not worthy of tying should now hurl abuse at one of Lenin’s numerous pupils–Comrade Stalin?
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 10, p. 178
STALIN FOLLOWED LENIN LOYALLY
I know — and this isn’t guess or historical reconstruction — I know that Stalin’s mainspring was and is devotion to Lenin. He thought, and doubtless correctly, that Lenin was one of the great ones, the inspired teachers of humanity… Who come once in a 1000 years…..
He knew deep down in his heart that Lenin was always Lenin and what Lenin did was right. I don’t care what Trotsky has said or Trotsky’s friends, like Max Eastman and meanor folk who don’t write so well as Max Eastman and haven’t half his brains. I say that Stalin today, and always since Lenin died, has never made a decision nor even approached a decision without first asking himself, “what would Lenin have done in this case?”
Duranty, Walter. The Kremlin and the People. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, Inc., 1941, p. 34
That death should take Lenin at such a time is doubly tragic. He was prevented from reaping the fruits of his life’s work, and out of the many party leaders he had so carefully trained, only one remained unshakably a Leninist.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 61
Stalin was always a consistent Bolshevik and was one of Lenin’s most trusted lieutenants in guiding the party work inside Russia….
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 90
Stalin…accepted Lenin’s views as soon is he read them and supported Lenin staunchly thereafter.
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 15
Stalin’s enemies have vainly tried to create the story of a clash between Lenin and Stalin. In actual fact, Stalin happened to be a blind follower of Lenin and has remained such….
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 54
What is the most prominent of Lenin’s traits that you can recall?
His purposefulness and his ability to fight for his cause. You see, almost everyone in the Politburo was against him–Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Bukharin. In the Politburo, Lenin was supported only by Stalin and me.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 130
Unlike most of the Bolshevik leaders, Stalin never raised his voice in opposition to Lenin on any point at any time. It was impossible, therefore, for him to forgive Trotsky’s continuous criticism, which was further damned by his natural exasperation against this laborer who had been hired at the 11th hour…. Raymond Robbins once told me that he knew Stalin in the first winter of 1917-1918. “He sat outside the door of Lenin’s office like a sentry,” said Robbins, “watching everyone who went in and out, no less faithful than a sentry and, as far as we then knew, not much more important.” In March 1922 Stalin received the reward of his faithful watching. He was made General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party….
Duranty, Walter. I Write as I Please. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1935, p. 181
…But remember that even Dzerzhinsky voted for Trotsky.
Gorky also made mistakes. He came out against the October Revolution. In the last analysis no one understood Leninism better than Stalin.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 132
Then take Trotsky. At first Lenin was favorably disposed toward him. Take Zinoviev, Bukharin, Kamenev–they were closest to Lenin. Temporarily, at a certain stage, they supported him, but they lacked consistency, so to speak, sufficient revolutionary character.
With Marx, only Engels remained faithful.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 137
Of all the members of the Politburo who worked under Lenin, Stalin alone remained. All the others went into opposition at one time or another: Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Rykov Tomsky, Bukharin…. Of course, for Stalin it was an unbearable situation–how to suffer criticism from all quarters, not to mention dissatisfaction, grumbling, and distrust. He needed nerves of steel to withstand it. Stalin too valued Bukharin highly. Yes he did! Bukharin was highly educated and cultured. But what can you do?!
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 262
…Among Lenin’s closest friends, in the end not one of those around him remained sufficiently loyal to Lenin and the party except Stalin. And Lenin had criticized Stalin.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 310
During the critical period just before and after the Revolution, Stalin sat outside the door of Lenin’s office like a faithful watchdog. He always followed Lenin’s lead without cavil or disagreement, but Trotsky was often quick to criticize or challenge.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 105
It was in 1929 that I first interviewed Stalin. I was required to submit to him a copy of the dispatch I was going to send to the New York Times. In it I had used the conventional phrase that Stalin was the “inheritor of Lenin’s mantle.” He scratched out those words and replaced them with “Lenin’s most faithful disciple and the prolonger of his work.” He also told me later that in any critical moment he tried to think what Lenin would’ve done in the circumstances, and to guide his own actions thereby. Stalin is a great man now as the world reckons greatness, but Lenin was different–Stalin knows it–one of the very rare and greatest men. Stalin always regarded his leader with deep, almost dog-like devotion, and never on any occasion challenged Lenin’s views or failed to support him wholly.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 171
Lenin was away–on orders of the Central Committee–from July to October. In the meantime, the Party was run by the Central Committee and other top committees, whose minutes show that Stalin was one of the five or six top leaders. Lenin was, of course, in touch by mail with the committee. But the minutes also show that he was not regarded as a “boss” or an oracle but as “Comrade Lenin” (Ilyich), the most respected member of a collective whose affairs were conducted democratically, usually with considerable debate. In these debates Stalin again seems to have been generally on Lenin’s side. For instance, when Lenin in September and October was urging the necessity of insurrection and some members, notably Zinoviev and Kamenev, disagreed, Stalin moved that Lenin’s letters be distributed to the leading Party organizations. And when Lenin returned, Stalin supported his position.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 31
Lenin returned from Switzerland via Germany. France had refused to let him through by another route. (One knows the story of the “sealed wagon” and all the rest of that lying legend.). He arrived at Petrograd on April 3rd, 1917.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 49
Indeed, at that time, “Lenin never let a day pass without seeing Stalin,” writes Piestoffski. “That is no doubt why our office at Smolny was next door to Lenin’s office. All day long Lenin would either speak to Stalin on the telephone or would come into our office and take him away with him. In this way Stalin spent the greater part of the day with Lenin. I witnessed a very interesting scene one day when I went to see Lenin. A large-scale map of Russia was hanging on the wall. Before it were two chairs on which Lenin and Stalin stood and followed a line to the north with their fingers.”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 60
From the very first moment that the Soviets came into power, Stalin had been Lenin’s understudy, and he continued to understudy him when he was no longer there.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 147
Stalin too, placed himself beneath the banner of Leninism, in the campaign which followed, to defend passionately the unity of the Party which was imperiled by the rebellion of the minority. To safeguard the unity of the Party became his great concern, as it had been Lenin’s, as it had been Lenin’s and Stalin’s together, for, as we have already seen, these two never disagreed with one another on questions of either doctrine or tactics.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 164
… Finally Lenin’s demands were approved. Bukharin voted against them. Trotsky, unable to accept that his negotiations had failed or to realize the gravity of the situation, abstained. Stalin supported Lenin, and it is unlikely that he ever forgot the vulnerability of the party and of the nation or the conflict within the Central Committee during these fateful days.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 108
As a member of the Bolshevik Central Committee Stalin took part in all the meetings of that body at which the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty and Russia’s withdrawal from the imperialist war were discussed. The minutes of the Central Committee meetings show clearly that Stalin almost always supported Lenin’s position, although in the early stages of the discussion Lenin was in the minority….
In all the voting on this question in the Central Committee Stalin supported Lenin’s motions. The intensity of the dispute is seen in the fact that the motion for immediate conclusion of a peace with Germany was adopted on Feb. 18, 1918, by a majority of only one vote. Those voting for were Lenin, Smilga, Stalin, Sverdlov, Sokolnikov, Trotsky, and Zinoviev. Opposed were Uritsky, Joffe, Lomov, Bukharin, Krestinsky, and Dzerzhinsky.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 51
Stalin apparently did not keep a diary and he was careful about what he wrote down. Many documents were destroyed on his orders, as on occasion were reports that his instructions to the NKVD had been carried out. On the other hand, many documents remained in Stalin’s private archive. For instance, there is a copy of a paper, dated 1923 and headed ‘Biographical Details on Stalin’, located in the Commissariat of Nationalities. Its author and purpose are not indicated, but it seems likely that it was prepared under Stalin’s guidance.
The file gives a detailed account of Stalin’s ‘revolutionary services’ before October:
“During the October days, Stalin was one of a team of 5 (a collective) whose task was to give political leadership in the uprising…. Like his pre-revolutionary work, Stalin’s present revolutionary work is of enormous importance. Distinguished by his tireless energy, his exceptional and outstanding mind and his implacable will, Comrade Stalin is one of the main, unseen, truly steel springs of the revolution, which with invincible force are turning the Russian revolution into a worldwide October. An old follower of Lenin’s, better than anyone else he has absorbed Lenin’s methods and ideas on practical activity.
Thanks to this, he is at present brilliantly deputizing for Lenin in the sphere not only of party activity, but also of state construction.”
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 512
…Stalin’s promotion was due to the dissidence of so many members of the Center Committee. True, this time the dissidents did not leave the party, were not expelled, and even regained, later, their influence in the inner councils of Bolshevism. But they remained in reserve for the time being. This is not to say that Stalin was completely immune from the doubts and vacillations of the more moderate leaders; he had had his moment of hesitation on the eve of the October rising. But he was essentially Lenin’s satellite. He moved invariably within Lenin’s orbit. Every now and then his own judgment and political instinct tempted him to stray; and on a few important occasions his judgment was sounder than Lenin’s. But at least in the first years after the Revolution, the master’s pull on him was strong enough to keep him steadily within the prescribed orbit.
It was by Lenin’s side that Stalin spent the night from Oct. 27 to 28 at Petersburg military headquarters, watching the measures taken to repel General Krasnov’s march on the capital. He was by Lenin’s side a few days later, when Lenin told the Commander-in-Chief, General Dukhonin, to offer an armistice to the German Command and to order the cease-fire, and when, after General Dukhonin’s refusal, Lenin dismissed him and appointed Krylenko Commander-in-Chief. This was the beginning of Stalin’s military activity which was to grow in scope and importance with the progress of the civil war.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 180-181
“We are going to have not half a revolution but a whole revolution.” Lenin’s policy was not without danger to those who espoused it. The odium of a German invasion of the country might fall upon them. It seems safer to seem to uphold Kerensky. Kamenev, Zinoviev, Tomsky, Dzerzhinsky were all at first opposed to Lenin’s policy. Almost his sole supporter of any note was Stalin.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 34
[Duranty says that Stalin made him change a phrase in their interview, “inheritor of the mantle of Lenin,” to “faithful servant of Lenin.” A dictator Stalin certainly is, but not a flaming egotist.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 530
Stalin was the only one of the exiles to agree with his leader [Lenin}.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 70
He [Lenin] was, therefore, obliged to seek allies. Zinoviev and Kamenev followed him, but Sverdlov, the man who knew most about the Party organizations, was dead, and the insignificant Kalinin was inclined to support Trotsky. The only useful ally to whom Lenin could turn was Stalin, with his numerous connections with all levels of the Party.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 117
The two of them conversed endlessly. Stalin fitted Lenin’s bill as a quintessential Bolshevik. He was tough and uncomplaining…. He appeared to conform to a working-class stereotype. He was also a committed revolutionary and a Bolshevik factional loyalist. Stalin was obviously bright and Lenin, who was engaged in controversy with Zhordania and other Mensheviks on the national question, encouraged Stalin to take time out from his duties to write up a lengthy piece on the subject.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 89
Stalin bequeathed a consolidated system of rule to his successors. Personally he had remained devoted to Lenin and his rule had conserved and reinforced the Leninist regime.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 599
LENIN NOT AN ABSOLUTE DICTATOR
Lenin is not an absolute dictator, because he must get the agreement of the Communist Party to his policy. Generally he does get it, but the limitation still remains.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 42
January 16, 1923–Lenin has often been called the “red dictator.” This designation is wrong; Lenin never had the right to dictate, although in practice his opinion generally carried the day.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 101
Lenin was far from being a dictator in his Party. Besides, a revolutionary party would not brook any dictatorship over itself!
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 137
LENIN IS ALWAYS RIGHT ABOUT RUSSIA
Lenin is always right about Russia, because he knows and others only think.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 92
November 16, 1923–…Lenin, who possesses to the supreme degree the twofold quality of seeing clear to a heart of a problem and finding the formula that will reconcile its solution with the Marxist principles.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 112
Bolitho possessed to a remarkable degree the same quality which proved the key to Lenin’s success, namely, the gift of making a quick and accurate summary of facts and drawing therefrom the right, logical, and inevitable conclusions.
Duranty, Walter. I Write as I Please. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1935, p. 95
The fact that his [Lenin] plan had achieved success in Russia, where capitalism was only in a rudimentary stage of development, is somewhat against the Marxian law and was due to an extraordinary convergence of circumstances, the most important of which was that there had been a leader capable of understanding the situation and utilizing it.
Ludwig, Emil. Leaders of Europe. London: I. Nicholson and Watson Ltd., 1934, p. 363
LENIN LEADS BY BRAIN AND WILL
November 15, 1922–The power of brain and will. By that power Lenin rules. By it alone. For he lacks Trotsky’s eloquence and magnetism, Radek’s persuasiveness, and Zinoviev’s grim enthusiasm. And, unlike western demagogues, he never seeks to flatter an audience or appeal to their preferences and emotions. His authority is based on the more solid foundation of greater brain power–better judgment, deeper reasoning, truer analysis of facts.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 97
The secret of Lenin’s authority, which did in fact amount to dictatorship, was that long experience had proved him right far oftener than his colleagues. It is said that once, at the beginning of the Revolution, Lenin, faced by general opposition, wrapped his head in his cloak, saying: “All right! Argue it out for yourselves; but when you’re reached the conclusion that my plan is the only possible one wake me up and say so. I’m going to sleep.” An hour or two later they woke him up and said: “we don’t like your plan much more than we did, but we agree that it’s the only way. You’re right.” As the event proved, Lenin was right in this case, and scores of others like it gave him such ascendancy that by 1919 or 1920 his opinions were hardly questioned.
But it was supremacy of brain, not of position….
Trotsky is a great executive, but his brain cannot compare with Lenin’s in analytical power.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 102
Now Lenin is portrayed as a monster, evil, and so forth. This is because he was like a rock, armed with knowledge, science, and a colossal mind…. He had a vision. Perhaps he didn’t see everything, but he saw the main thing.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 137
Of the men who have lived on earth, Lenin was one of the greatest.
It is a strange and paradoxical thing that the Bolsheviks, who had one of the greatest individual leaders of all time, profess to decry the importance of individual leadership.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 19
LENIN GOT PEOPLE TO WORK BY PERSUASION, NOT FORCE
Peter the Great made them work, too, but by brute force and Lenin by the force of personality. “That force,” said Osinsky, “came from two qualities–first, the capacity to understand the real meaning of events; second, the ability to explain things to others.”
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 145
The Bolsheviks can organize much, but is not their propaganda which draws these hundreds of thousands to Lenin’s feet.
Duranty, Walter. I Write as I Please. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1935, p. 223
To use an un-Bolshevik metaphor, Lenin had realized, and taught to his followers, that the Russian masses were a bank upon which any check could be drawn, provided that they were told what the money was for and that it was being spent for their benefit. As Lenin said and repeated, the masses would do anything, suffer anything, and shrink from nothing, if they were rightly appealed to.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 139
LENIN LIVED SIMPLY
Semashko gives his explanation of this power. He writes: “Lenin is really one with the people at heart. He has always lived in extreme simplicity–one small room, an iron bed, and a work table. This simplicity is innate in him, not a demagogic trick or bourgeois hypocrisy. Later, as master of Russia, he was always annoyed by pomp and ceremony.”
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 146
This simplicity and modesty of Lenin’s, which struck me the moment I met him, his desire to pass unnoticed, or any rate not to emphasize his superiority, was one of his strongest points as the new chief of the new masses, the great, simple, and profound masses of humanity….”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 35
STALIN CALLS HIMSELF LENIN’S DISCIPLE
“Lenin,” Stalin told me, “differed from the rest of us by his clear Marxist brain and his unfaltering will. Lenin from the outset favored a hard boiled policy and even then was picking men who could stick it out and endure.” To the Stalin of today Lenin is so far above him that, when I wrote he was Lenin’s “successor,” he made me change it to Lenin’s “disciple.” It was not modestly but a statement of fact. Stalin is a great man now as the world reckons greatness, but Lenin was different–he knows it–one of the very rare and greatest men.
So Stalin set himself to follow Lenin’s star, from which he never waived in the worst uglyness of defeat or in the darker days when Lenin had a bare handful of followers in Switzerland….
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 169
Stalin forced the transformation of Russia in exactly the same way as Peter the Great had done. When I therefore asked him whether he did not feel himself to be the successor of the latter, he denied it peremptorily:
“These historic parallels are always dangerous. But, if you insist on it, I can only say the following: Peter–he purposely omitted “the Great’–only brought one stone to the temple; Lenin built it. But I am only Lenin’s disciple, and my only desire is to be known as his worthy successor.”
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 123
Stalin has written a great number of important books. Several of them have a classic value in Marxist literature. But if one asks him what he is, he replies: “I am only a disciple of Lenin, and my whole ambition is to be a faithful disciple.” It is curious to observe how, in many of the accounts of work accomplished under his direction, Stalin systematically gives credit for all the progress made to Lenin, whereas the credit has been in very large measure his own,…
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 280
When the Kerensky revolution took place, in March 1917, Stalin was liberated. Though most of the other political prisoners were welcomed with public demonstrations on their return home, Stalin came back to Petrograd alone and practically unnoticed. He immediately became an editorial writer on the Pravda. The first articles which he published were moderate and conciliatory. But two months later, when Lenin came to Petrograd and immediately put an end to liberalist and moderate socialist tendencies in the ranks of the Bolshevik Party, Stalin took Lenin’s side and was a passionate follower of his to the end. I once asked him if he did not look upon himself as a sort of follower of Peter the Great. He brusquely pooh-poohed the suggestion and answered: “I am a disciple of Lenin. And my only wish is to be a worthy follower of his. Historical parallels such as that you have mentioned are always somewhat risky, but if you insist upon suggesting this parallel with Peter the Great, then I should say that Peter brought only a brick to the building of the temple but Lenin constructed the edifice himself. I am only his disciple.”
Ludwig, Emil. Leaders of Europe. London: I. Nicholson and Watson Ltd., 1934, p. 357
That Stalin has the disciple of Lenin rather than of Marx we can tell by his writings. It is even possible that he loved Lenin. In any case today, when his power far exceeds any that Lenin ever had, Stalin feels that he is the second of a line. When I spoke to him of the succession of Peter the Great, he answered simply: “I am a disciple of Lenin. My only wish is to become a worthy one. If a comparison must be found, the only man to compare with Lenin is Peter the Great. But I, for my part, am merely Lenin’s disciple.”
Since I have no doubt of the truth of this confession, I can only explain this unusual modesty in a dictator, this voluntary retreat to the second place, by a personal veneration which seems otherwise alien to Stalin’s nature and is unique in his life.
Ludwig, Emil. Three portraits: Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin. New York Toronto: Longmans, Green and Company, c1940, p. 97
[In a May 13, 1933 talk with Colonel Robins the following dialogue occurred]
ROBINS: I consider it a great honour to have an opportunity of paying you a visit.
STALIN: There is nothing particular in that. You are exaggerating.
ROBINS: What is most interesting to me is that throughout Russia I have found the names Lenin-Stalin, Lenin-Stalin, Lenin-Stalin, linked together.
STALIN: That, too, is an exaggeration. How can I be compared to Lenin?
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 13, p. 267
LENIN AND STALIN WERE SHOW NO MERCY REALISTS
Stalin is no less of a Marxist than Lenin who never allowed his Marxism to blind him to the needs of expediency. When Lenin brought in NEP, he jettisoned Marxist principles more thoroughly than Stalin ever did, and when Lenin began a fight, whether the weapons were words or bullets, he showed no mercy to his opponents.
Duranty, Walter. I Write as I Please. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1935, p. 274
STALIN MEETS LENIN AND TROTSKY FOR FIRST TIME
Thus, in Tammerfors Stalin first spoke to Lenin personally. He also saw there for the first time his later mortal enemy, Trotsky.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 27
STALIN CONSIDERED LENIN TO BE THE GREATEST AND USED THE WORD LENINISM
The term ‘Leninism’ was invented by the enemies of the Bolsheviks, the Mensheviks, the real Russian Social Democrats, who regarded themselves as the true inheritors of Marx’s ideology; by their use of the term ‘Leninism’ they wished to place on record that Lenin was not a follower of Marx at all, but a heretic who had elaborated a doctrine of his own that was a deviation from Karl Marx….
For Stalin, Lenin towered above everyone else. He regarded him as the greatest figure not only of his own time but of all time. In the attitude of the others to Lenin, Stalin saw nothing but almost unendurable presumption. He was quite certain that none of them could take over Lenin’s heritage, ‘Lenin’s cause’, or even think of doing so. He certainly regarded the people around Lenin as unworthy of that great man. He himself stood on the fringe of that circle, with a firm belief that he alone had fully realized ”Lenin’s personality and his overwhelming historical importance….
But on April 3, 1920, Stalin published in Pravda an article on Lenin’s birthday. The very title of the article was a program: ‘LENIN– the organizer and leader of the All-Russian Communist Party.’ In this short article Stalin described Lenin’s theoretical controversy with the Mensheviks, and gave a clear account of the difference between the two tendencies in Russian socialism. But the main feature of the article is that it represented Lenin as the sole creator of the Bolshevik doctrine, and the organizer of the party, to whom alone belonged the absolute leadership of the party. Clearly ‘Leninism’ existed already for Stalin.
Immediately after Lenin’s death, Stalin went to work to create the Lenin legend, and the word ‘Leninism’ reappeared; this time, however, as an official party term. It was followed before long by the publication of Stalin’s book the Foundations of Leninism. This book is of such great historical importance that it calls for consideration. According to Stalin, Leninism is the direct and only true continuation of Marxism, the theory, strategy, and tactic, created by Lenin, of socialism in the age of imperialism. For the age of imperialism is that of the dying capitalist society, and will be ended by the social revolution. While Marxism held good for the labor movement in the pre-revolutionary, that is to say in the time of the development of the labor movement and the ripening and coming to fruition of the social revolution, Leninism is the doctrine of the theory and tactic of the proletarian revolution itself. According to Lenin, therefore–as interpreted by Stalin–we are living in the age of the world-wide social revolution.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 111-113
STALIN INTERPRETS LENIN ON DESTROYING THE STATE
Lenin adds, according to Stalin: “The proletarian Revolution is impossible without the destruction by force of the machinery of the bourgeois state and its replacement by new machinery.”
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 114
ONLY STALIN WROTE THEORETICAL WRITINGS CONTINUING LENIN
The question arises, why was it that Stalin, and he alone, published what at that time was the only book on the theory of Leninism? At that time all party members, especially the leaders, were free to write, and within the party there was complete freedom of expression of opinion. At that time Stalin was not accounted a theorist; after Lenin’s death Bucharin was regarded as the best theorist in the Politburo. The explanation is that probably none of the leading Bolsheviks would so have demeaned himself as to write a whole book simply as a commentator on Lenin. Each of them regarded himself as an authority on theory and as part of the body of intellectuals who had created the Bolshevik Party and laid the intellectual foundations of the revolution. They regarded themselves as original thinkers, quite competent to formulate their own theories, proceeding straight from Marxism, and not as mere loud-speakers for Lenin….
…He [Stalin] was much closer to the mass of the people than his opponents were….
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 116
TROTSKY WON’T ADMIT MISTAKES
His lack of self-criticism prevented Trotsky from ever remedying his defects. Typical of this was the following little-known incident. A conference took place in 1921 in the Kremlin Palace between the foremost leaders of the Communist International. At that time this ‘Third International’ was not merely the instrument of Russian policy. The subject under discussion was whether a rising should be started in Germany. The majority of those present were in favor of the idea. Lenin came to the meeting, and in a lengthy speech opposed the suggested rising. A rising was actually started in central Germany, ending in a disastrous defeat for Communism. Subsequently another discussion took place in that hall. Trotsky had not been present at the first discussion, but had set down his opinion in writing. Some Russian leaders who had voted in favor of the rising admitted their mistake. This time Trotsky was present, and he made a speech attacking those who had been in favor of the rising. In astonishment his hearers pointed out that he himself had supported the proposal. He denied this, and was reminded that he had actually set down his opinion in writing. His letter was produced. Meanwhile the discussion continued. Trotsky read the letter, said not a word, and went away, with the document in his pocket.
Such was the man who set out to fight his historic duel with Stalin.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 126
COMMUNISTS LED A VERY RIGOROUS, SPARTAN LIFE
…another division faded within the official class, the division between party members and the so-called nonparty, which until lately and been sharply defined; it had existed since the revolution. The Communists had been morally and in power and prestige far above their nonparty colleagues; but they had also been subject to a far more rigid discipline. The party had interfered extensively even in their private life. They had been materially at a disadvantage as compared with the others. A Communist had had to take a sort of vow of poverty, and there was a ‘party maximum’. An engineer, for instance, who did not belong to the party could keep the whole of his income and spend it as he liked. Not so the Communist. Not only had he a party tax to pay, but his income was limited. He was paid his salary in full, like the nonparty man, but he had to hand over to the party whatever he earned above the party maximum. Even what he had left he could not spend as he liked; he must not live in ‘bourgeois’ style, but was restricted to a Spartan existence.
Periodical ‘purges’ took place, and every Communist had to face them. The whole of the workers, whether party members are not, could take part, and everyone was free to criticize. Then it would be found that one of the Communists had too many suits, another had a carpet in his dwelling, a third fed too well, and the wife of the fourth wore some simple article of jewelry. All these things were ‘unproletarian’, and might bring a Communist into serious trouble.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 213
STALIN AGREES WITH LENIN THAT THE STATE MUST USE FORCE
Stalin has never denied his belief in the ruthless use of force. He openly agreed not only with Lenin’s view that the State exists always in order to enable one class to dominate another, but also with Lenin’s opinion that dictatorship is a use of force unrestricted by any law.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 235
Without their resolve to take extreme measures, neither Lenin nor Stalin can be understood. No, without their resolve we might not be alive today, much less trying to understand.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 278
STALIN BELIEVED IN A CENTRALIZED STATE
Stalin made an end of all that [local soviets setting up their own administrative organization without consulting the centre]. He declared his belief in the centralized State, and on one occasion actually said: ‘Only a centralized State can get anything done.’
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 276
Though the charges of Russian nationalism have since been laid against Stalin more than once, he was not, either then or even in later days, prompted by any of the ordinary emotions and prejudices that go with nationalism. What he represented was merely the principal of centralization, common to all modern revolutions.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 240
STALIN CONTENDS NATIONS CAN PASS CAPITALISM AND GO STRAIGHT TO SOCIALISM
In 1926, however, Stalin put forward his own theories about Asia. He held that there was no need for all countries still in the pre-capitalist era to pass through the capitalist stage. Since the dictatorship of the proletariat ruled in the Soviet Union, those peoples could evade that stage with Russian help and proceed directly to socialism.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 282
STALIN AND LENIN SHARE SAME KEY BELIEFS
Stalin shares Lenin’s conviction that the world will not permit the Soviet Union to develop in peace, because the mere example of that development would be bound to bring capitalism to its end….
He also shares Lenin’s belief in the irreconcilable differences in the imperialist world, ‘which guarantee the safety of the Soviet and the victory of the world revolution’….
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 320
It is the general fashion among Stalin’s official biographers to give him little credit for original thinking, probably because their subject himself invariably insists: “I am only the interpreter of Leninism.” “I followed the directives laid down first by Comrade Lenin.” On the rare occasions when we can test the reactions of the two men to the same set of circumstances before they have had time to compare conclusions, it invariably turns out that Stalin was not behind his leader in thinking out a line for himself; his policy subsequently proved on every occasion to be confirmed by the decision of Lenin.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 36
STALIN PERMANENTLY FOLLOWED LENIN FROM THEIR FIRST MEETING
While serving this particular sentence, Stalin took one of the most important steps of his life. Eagerly devouring the smuggled copies of the party organ Iskra (The Spark), which arrived by devious means, Stalin found himself increasingly impressed by those articles which carried the initials of Lenin. Hesitating no longer he wrote a letter to Lenin in London. In December 1903 after a lapse of almost six months, he received a reply which, in his own words, “contained an amazingly clear explanation of the tactics of our Party and a brilliant analysis of our future tasks.” From that day he became Lenin’s man and never for an instant deviated from his allegiance.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 19
Stalin made it clear to me that at his first meeting with the Master–at Tammerfors, Finland, in 1905–he decided to hitch is wagon to Lenin’s star. “Lenin,” he told me, “differed from the rest of us by his clear Marxist brain and his unfaltering will. From the outset he favored a strong policy and even then was picking men who could stick it out and endure.”
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 171
Kaganovich says, “The most remarkable and most characteristic feature of all Stalin’s political activities is that he never drifted apart from Lenin and never swerved to the Right or to the Left.”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 46
Between 1901 and 1917, right from the beginning of the Bolshevik Party until the October Revolution, Stalin was a major supporter of Lenin’s line. No other Bolshevik leader could claim as constant or diverse activity as Stalin. He had followed Lenin right from the beginning, at the time when Lenin only had a small number of adherents among the socialist intellectuals. Unlike most of the other Bolshevik leaders, Stalin was constantly in contact with Russian reality and with activists within Russia. He knew these militants, having met them in open and clandestine struggles, in prisons and in Siberia. Stalin was very competent, having led armed struggle in the Caucasus as well as clandestine struggles; he had led union struggles and edited legal and illegal newspapers; he had led the legal and parliamentary struggle and knew the national minorities as well as the Russian people.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 25 [pp. 15-16 on the NET]
LENIN HONORS STALIN WITH PROMOTIONS BEFORE WWI
1912 opened in a more hopeful key, each month producing further proof that the long period of ebb was drawing to a close. For Stalin personally, 1912 also brought a most welcome decision. In February of that year Lenin proposed to the Bolshevik leaders in session abroad, that they recognize the devotion and achievements of Stalin by co-opting him onto the Central Committee. The news of his election reached Stalin a month later and stimulated him to even greater effort….
Further honors were conferred upon Stalin here in Cracow; Lenin agreed that events were moving so rapidly that the emigre Central Committee might find itself acting as a break upon the initiative of the Party if it retained in its own hands the entire direction of policy. To avoid this possibility it was decided to delegate the immediate tactical direction of the struggle within Russia to an “executive bureau,” of which the principal figures were Stalin and his countryman, Sergo Ordjonikidze. Except for major strategical decisions, Lenin voluntarily handed over control of the Party’s work within Russia to the “wonderful Georgian.” With what impressive results was soon to be made clear.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 33
LENIN MADE NO EFFORT TO KEEP GROUPS FROM SPLITTING OFF
Again and again groups which could not agree split off of the others. Lenin made no effort to detain them; he distinguished sharply between those allies with whom cooperation was possible for a longer or shorter period, and the smaller group which would stick through everything.
Strong, Anna Louise. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 25
LENIN AND STALIN DID NOT RELY ON STIRRING ORATORY FOR SUPPORT
A communist who allowed himself to become as ignorant of world affairs as is the average American politician would be “cleaned out” of the party,….
The emotional vagueness which is a feature of all capitalist political platforms, and which is indeed desired in order to win wide support without being too definite, is the exact opposite of communist statements….
This [Marxism] is no dogma to be learned once for all; it is a developing body of thought, constantly applied to and affected by new conditions. By the very theory of dialectics, these forces are changing. The speeches of Lenin and Stalin and other party leaders never deal in stirring oratory or spell-binding generalities but in close and careful analysis. Stalin would no more attempt to sway a communist Congress by “force of personality” expressed in brilliant oratory and colorful phrasing, than Edison would have expected to convince a group of American engineers of the reliability of some new formula by emotional words. One such attempt would ruin either an Edison or Stalin.
Strong, Anna Louise. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 29-30
Lenin did not at all conform to the accepted idea of an orator. He was just a man speaking. Except at certain periods (notably the days of October) when it was important that the direct and immediate impulses of the people should be aroused, and when it was necessary at all costs to make an impression on the mighty surging tide of humanity, Lenin made hardly any gestures at all when he spoke. At congresses, people commented on his quietness and even on the “dryness” of his delivery. He merely endeavored to persuade his listeners, to convey his convictions from within, not from without, by the weight of their contents, as it were, and not by the gesticulations of the container. The oratorical gestures which are sometimes seen in representations of him are not quite correct, and he may be said never to have moved so much as in his statues.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 38
The simple and efficient method of delivery which Lenin employed was also that which Stalin had instinctively adopted and which he was destined never to abandon (he has even accentuated it).
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 39
STALIN HELD LENIN IN THE HIGHEST REGARD
When I compared him with the other leaders of our party, it always seemed to me that he was head and shoulders above his colleagues–Plekhanov, Martov, Axelrod and the others; that, compared with them, Lenin was not just one of the leaders, but a leader of the highest rank, a mountain eagle, who knew no fear in the struggle,…. This simple and bold letter strengthened my opinion that Lenin was the mountain eagle of our Party. I cannot forgive myself for having, from the habit of an old underground worker, consigned this letter of Lenin’s, like many other letters, to the flames.
Yaroslavsky, Emelian. Landmarks in the Life of Stalin. Moscow: FLPH, 1940, p. 30
LENIN COMPLIMENTS AND CARES FOR STALIN
In a letter to Gorky, Lenin referred affectionately to Stalin and to this work: “A wonderful Georgian here,” he said….
Yaroslavsky, Emelian. Landmarks in the Life of Stalin. Moscow: FLPH, 1940, p. 75
First, it should not be forgotten that even before the Revolution Lenin praised Stalin for his work on the national question and called him “the wonderful Georgian.”
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 198
After completing his work on the national question, Comrade Stalin returned to St. Petersburg. Not having heard anything from him for some time, Lenin, in a letter dated March 8, 1913, inquired: “That is there no news of Vasily (Stalin–E.Y.)? What is wrong with him? We are worried.” Two days later, he again writes: “Take good care of him” (Stalin), “he is very sick.”
Yaroslavsky, Emelian. Landmarks in the Life of Stalin. Moscow: FLPH, 1940, p. 76
LENIN WAS MORE SEVERE AND LESS LENIENT THAN STALIN
CHUEV: Who was more severe, Lenin or Stalin?
MOLOTOV: Lenin, of course. He was severe. In some cases he was harsher than Stalin. Read his messages to Dzerzhinsky. He often resorted to extreme measures when necessary. He ordered the suppression of the Tambov uprising, that everything be burned to the ground. I was present at the discussion. He would not have tolerated any opposition, even had it appeared. I recall how he reproached Stalin for his softness and liberalism. “What kind of a dictatorship do we have? We have a milk-and-honey power, and not a dictatorship!”
CHUEV: Where is it written that he reproached Stalin?
MOLOTOV: It was in a small circle among us.
Here is a telegram from Lenin to a provincial food commissar in his native Simbirsk in 1919: “The starving workers of Petrograd and Moscow are complaining about your inefficient management…. I demand from you maximum energy, a no-holds-barred attitude to the job, and thorough assistance to the starving workers. If you fail, I will be forced to arrest the entire staff of your institutions and to bring them to trial…. You must immediately load and send off two trains of 30 cars each. Send a telegram when this is complete. If it is confirmed that, by four clock, you did not send the grain and made the peasants wait until morning, you will be shot. Sovnarkom Chairman, Lenin.”
I remember another case. Lenin had received a letter from a poor peasant of Rostov province saying that things were bad with them, that no one paid any attention to them, the poor peasants, that there was no help for them and that, on the contrary, they were oppressed. Lenin proposed the formation of a group of “Sverdlovers [adults from Sverdlov University]….” Lenin directed this group to go to the place in question and, if the report was confirmed, to shoot guilty parties right then and there and to rectify the situation.
What could be more concrete? Shoot on the spot and that’s that! Such things happened. It was outside the law, but we had to do it…. Lenin was a strong character. If necessary, he seized people by the scruff of their necks.
CHUEV: They say that Lenin had nothing to do with the execution of the tsar’s family in 1918, that it was a decision of the local authorities following Kolchak’s attack…. But some people say it was revenge for Lenin’s brother.
MOLOTOV: They make Lenin out to be a crank. They are small-fry philistines who think this. Don’t be naive.
I think that, without Lenin, no one would have dared to make such a decision. Lenin was implacable when the Revolution, Soviet power, and communism were at stake. Indeed, had we implemented democratic solutions to all problems, this would surely have damaged the state and the party. Issues would have dragged on for too long and nothing good would have come of this sort of formal democracy. Lenin often resolved critical problems by himself, on his own authority.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 107-109
I understand the feelings of those who wrote about rural life. They took pity on the muzhik. But what could you do? Sacrifices were unavoidable. Some argue that Lenin would have never pursued that kind of policy. But in matters like that Lenin was more severe than Stalin. Many suggest that Lenin would have reexamined his stand on the proletarian dictatorship, that he wasn’t a dogmatist, and so on. But this is said by people who very much would have liked him to revise his views!
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 251
Of course Lenin displayed more flexibility in certain cases. Stalin was less tolerant. But, on the other hand, Lenin demanded that Zinoviev and Kamenev be expelled from the party in the days of the October Revolution, and Stalin defended them. It could go either way depending on the case. But it cannot be said that Lenin was soft. He didn’t spend his time wiping children’s snotty noses. Lenin should not be portrayed like that.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 270
Lenin started the concentration camps, established the Cheka. Stalin just continued them.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 411
… Moreover, it was he [Lenin] who fostered the terror, forced labor camps, suppression of all opposition, monolithic organization of party and state, and other aspects of the Soviet system, which are anathema to Western liberal opinion and which are popularly attributed to Stalin.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. xii
A friend of mine met Molotov before his death and he told Molotov, “You know, it’s a pity that Lenin died so early. If he had lived longer, everything would have been normal.” But Molotov said, “Why do you say that?” My friend said, “Because Stalin was a bloodsucker and Lenin was a noble person.” Molotov smiled, and then he said, “Compared to Lenin, Stalin was a mere lamb.”
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York: Random House, c1993, p. 45
…there has grown up in the United States a curious and inaccurate distinction between Lenin and Stalin. Lenin has been presented as a kind-hearted idealist–almost a democrat in our sense–whereas Stalin has been pictured as a ruthless Asiatic dictator…. But Lenin’s actions and speeches against the opposition of the kulaks, the clergy, the bourgeois, landlords, and generals were just as harsh as anything we know of Stalin. Both men were agreed in showing no mercy to their enemies, but Lenin’s enemies, for the most part, were outsiders, the foes of the Revolution. Against them he showed no mercy. By the time Stalin came to power non-Party opposition in the USSR had been thoroughly defeated.
…That, in short, was the difference–a difference of time and a personality. In Lenin’s day the prime struggle was against the anti-Bolshevik elements in Russia and outside Russia, the counterrevolution of Denikin, Kolchak, and Yudenich, supported by the invasion, or intervention, of French, British, Czechs, Japanese, and Americans. In addition, Lenin’s personal authority was so great that he had no real or prolonged difficulty with opponents inside the Communist Party. Stalin’s situation was otherwise. Since, by 1924, when Lenin died, internal and external non-communist enemies had been defeated, Stalin’s conflict was within the Party.
Duranty, Walter. Stalin & Co. New York: W. Sloane Associates, 1949, p. 20
[In a speech delivered to the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Presidium of the Central Control Commission of the CPSU in early 1929 Stalin stated] It is said that Lenin would certainly have acted more mildly than the Central Committee is now acting towards Tomsky and Bukharin. That is absolutely untrue. The situation now is that two members of the Political Bureau systematically violate Central Committee decisions, stubbornly refuse to remain in posts assigned to them by the Party, yet, instead of punishing them, the Central Committee of the Party has for two months already been trying to persuade them to remain in their posts. And–just recall–how did Lenin act in such cases? You surely remember that just for one small error committed by Tomsky, Comrade Lenin packed him off to Turkestan.
TOMSKY: With Zinoviev’s benevolent assistance, and partly yours.
STALIN: If what you mean to say is that Lenin could be persuaded to do anything of which he was not himself convinced, that can only arouse laughter…. Recall another fact, for example, the case of Shlyapnikov, whose expulsion from the Central Committee Lenin recommended because he had criticized some draft decision of the Supreme Council of National Economy in the Party unit of that body.
Who can deny that Bukharin’s and Tomsky’s present crimes in grossly violating Central Committee decisions and openly creating a new opportunist platform against the Party are far graver than were the offenses of Tomsky and Shlyapnikov in the cases mentioned? Yet, not only is the Central Committee not demanding that either of them should be excluded from the Central Committee or be assigned to somewhere in Turkestan, but it is confining itself to attempts to persuade them to remain in their posts, while at the same time, of course, exposing their non-Party, and at times downright anti-Party, line. What greater mildness do you want?
Would it not be truer to say that we, the Central Committee majority, are treating the Bukharinites too liberally and tolerably, and that we are thereby, perhaps, involuntarily encouraging their factional anti-party “work”?
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 11, p. 338-340
MOLOTOV SAYS KOLLONTAI IS NOT A REAL REVOLUTIONARY
What did you think of the film about Kollontai –“The Ambassador of the Soviet Union”?
Kollontai won the war? That’s naive…. I knew her well. We had rather good relations, but she was not a true revolutionary. She came from the margin. But an honest person. A beautiful woman…. Lenin really took her down a peg. Read his speech at the 10th Party Congress, where he speaks against the workers’ opposition. An opposition of Shliapnikov and Kollontai, as Lenin derided it, embraced “class-welded followers.”
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 111
LENIN SUPERIOR TO STALIN BUT NOT IN PRACTICAL POLITICS
Of course, Lenin was superior to Stalin. I always thought so. He was superior in the theoretical sense, superior in his personal qualities. But no one could surpass Stalin as a practical worker.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 112
Sometimes Stalin would insist that the unity of the party was the supreme good and that for its sake even principles had to be sacrificed. At other times he would argue that if necessary to uphold principals a split should not be avoided. He would resort now to this, now to that argument, depending on which happened to suit him at a given moment. In disputes his was always the voice of reason, striving to reconcile lofty standards with expediency, a model of moderation and a threat to no one. He had no enemies, except possibly Trotsky, and even him he sought to befriend until rebuffed:…
Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1993, p. 466
And Koba after all is a realist. One must give him credit for that….
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 34
The outstanding talent of Stalin is his ability to tell the executive, the experts, the groups what is next to be done and how to set about it. He has been stronger than Lenin but he has added nothing to Leninism except tactics; add of course will, vigilance, and judgment of character. He is a general of the economic and political revolution.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 140
Historians have long been aware of the disagreement between Lenin and Stalin over the first constitution of the USSR, but the dispute needs to be freshly examined because recent events have made it possible for us to assess the details more objectively. Most previous accounts of this conflict have questioned Stalin’s skepticism about the durability of a “union” based on the “solidarity of the workers” (i.e. Party discipline), and various authors have argued that his insistence on the need for tough central power to hold the entire structure together was wrong. Today, a decade after the surprisingly rapid collapse ofthe Soviet Union, it can be argued that Lenin was the one who was politically shortsighted when he proposed a less restrictive first constitution for the Soviet Union.
Medvedev, Roy & Zhores Medvedev. The Unknown Stalin. NY, NY: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 263
Analyzing the events of the pre-war period today, it does seem clear that the strictly centralized economy, which played such a crucial role in the rapid industrialization of the country, would never have been possible if Lenin’s model for the Union had been adopted. Lenin even went so far as to oppose a centrally directed general transport system. And if instead of the USSR with its “autonomous” and “Union” republics (the latter distinguished by a formal right to secede), an extended Russian Federation had been established as originally envisaged by Stalin, this certainly would have led to an even more rapid economic, political, and ethnic integration of the country. Along with an accelerated process of Russification, there could have been the genuine birth of a “Soviet people” that paid much less heed to ethnicity, rather like the experience of the United States.
Medvedev, Roy & Zhores Medvedev. The Unknown Stalin. NY, NY: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 268
LENIN WANTED SILENCE DURING MEETINGS AND NO SMOKING
…Lenin disliked conversations during meetings…. But Lenin very much disliked it when people whispered during the sessions. He could not stand smoking at all. He himself didn’t smoke. He was annoyed by whispering, all kinds of talking….
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 124
LEADERS CAN’T BE RUDE OR ABUSE SUBORDINATES
…Rudeness cannot be justified. It cannot be turned into a special issue, but it also cannot be justified. If you get to the top, you must behave properly. You must be patient. Otherwise, what kind of a leader are you? That’s an elementary obligation. As for a subordinate, if you abuse him, it’s no life: its prison. It’s already hard enough for him without that….
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 124
This attention to us [some generals] touched us deeply. I have already mentioned how Stalin could be very irascible and abrasive; but even more striking was this concern for his subordinates at such a grave time.
Vasilevskii, Aleksandr M. A Lifelong Cause. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1981, p. 118
Throughout my entire work with Stalin, especially during the Great Patriotic War, I had invariably felt his attention. I would even say excessive concern, that I seemingly did not merit .
Vasilevskii, Aleksandr M. A Lifelong Cause. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1981, p. 285
MOLOTOV SAYS TROTSKY ADMITS HE WAS NO BOLSHEVIK & PREDICTED THE PARTY’S DEFEAT
Trotsky put it more slyly, more cautiously. His purport was: our time is up. I have always opposed you Bolsheviks but joined you, changed to the Bolshevik party before the Revolution. But nothing came of it. The international proletariat did not support us. This means you have failed, you have no future!
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 127
BOLSHEVIKS HAD NO THEORETICIANS AFTER LENIN
Generally speaking, we had few theoreticians. Genuine Bolshevik theoreticians were not easy to find.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 228
LENIN ERRED ON THE PAY STRUCTURE OF SOCIALIST SOCIETY
…under socialism, Lenin said, no official will be paid a higher wage than the average worker’s. None of the officials, including the general secretary of the party and the chairman of the council of ministers, should receive compensation higher than that of the average worker. This principle was practiced by the Paris Commune.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 380
Lenin declared in 1918 that we could pay the top bourgeois specialists more than others. …but we could tolerate it as a temporary expedient.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 399
THE TRANQUIL LIFE IS NOT FOR REAL REVOLUTIONARIES
“Go your own way!”–if that’s the policy we are going to follow regarding Poland, then we are in for trouble at home.
We are all interconnected….
In fact, an ever more ferocious and perilous struggle is unfolding…. I am against the tranquil life! If I craved a tranquil life, it would mean I have been “philistinized.” [11-9-81]
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 402
We need to strengthen the party line to prevent philistines from getting the upper hand. Yes, more than a few who desire a restful life will be found out there.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 412
It was Stalin, they declare, who built the Soviet Union into a superpower. It was Stalin who industrialized a peasant country, took it from wooden ploughs to atomic weapons, thrust it into the 20th-century, and made the West tremble at the might of Russia. Above all, it was Stalin who won the war, destroyed Hitler, beat the Germans. As they talk of Stalin, his admirers romanticize the exploits of their own youth, when, with Stalin at the helm, they were building a Brave New World. And now, amid the disarray of Gorbachev’s perestroika, they long nostalgically for the order and discipline imposed by the strong boss in the Kremlin. Those were times, they assert, when factories worked–and so did workers–unlike today!
Smith, Hedrick. The New Russians (Pt. 1). New York: Random House, 1990. p. 132
TROTSKY AND BUKHARIN HAD MULTIPLE WIVES
She [Granny] had marvelous stories to tell about the Kremlin in those days, about Trotsky’s “wives” and Bukharin’s “wives” and about Clara Zetkin,… She was a walking chronicle of her age.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 228
BOLSHEVIKS REGARDED THE PARTY AS THE GUARDIAN OF THE PROLETARIAN STATE
The fact of the matter was that Lenin and his associates regarded the Communist Party as the tutor or guardian of the infant proletarian state which was not yet adult or experienced enough to govern itself and order its own ways.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 93
LENIN WOULD HAVE ACTED AS STALIN DID
In such policies, Stalin was trying to strike a balance between mass participation and firm leadership, which would provide guidance and structure for such participation…. Lenin, confronting the problems that the Party faced in these years, could hardly have acted differently than Stalin did.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 78
STALIN DESCRIBES HIS FIRST ENCOUNTERS WITH LENIN
The meeting between Lenin and Stalin, in Stalin’s own words:
“I first made Lenin’s acquaintance in 1903. I did not meet him then, but we corresponded. I have retained an unforgettable memory of that first epistolary meeting. I was an exile in Siberia at the time. In studying Lenin’s Revolutionary activities from the end of the last century, and particularly after the appearance of Iskra (The Spark), in 1901, I arrived at the conviction that in Lenin we possessed no ordinary man. To my mind he was not just a mere Party leader, but a real creator, for he alone understood the nature and urgent needs of our Party. When I compared the other leaders with Lenin, they always seemed to be a head shorter than he. Beside them, Lenin was not a person of the same order of things, but a commander of a superior type, a mountain eagle, a fearless fighter leading the Party forward through the hitherto unexplored paths of the Russian revolutionary movement. This impression anchored itself so firmly in the depths of my mind that I felt compelled to write about him to a close friend of mine who happened to be away from Russia at the time, and to ask him for his opinion of him. Sometime later I received an enthusiastic reply from my friend, addressed to Siberia, and at the same time I received a simple but profound letter from Lenin. I understood that my friend had shown him my letter. Lenin’s letter was relatively short, but he criticized incisively and intrepidly the practical work of our Party, and disclosed with remarkable clarity and precision the whole future plan of action of the Party.
I met him for the first time in December 1905, at the Bolshevik Conference of Tammerfors (in Finland). I was expecting to see, in the eagle of our Party, a great man not great only in the political sense, but physically great also, for in my imagination I pictured Lenin as a giant, fascinating, and symbolic. What was my surprise then, to see before me a man of less than middle height, in no way distinguishable from ordinary human beings!
A great man is supposed to arrive late at meetings, so that the assembly may anxiously await his arrival. The appearance of a great man is always heralded by remarks such as: Sh!… Silence!… Here he comes! But I found that Lenin had arrived long before the others, and I saw him in a corner engaged in the most ordinary conversation with one of the least important of the delegates. He was quite clearly not behaving according to the accepted rules.”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 30
LENIN COMPLIMENTS STALIN’S WRITINGS
Lenin put the greatest value on Stalin’s writings. In 1911 he expressed himself as follows: “Kobi’s articles deserve the closest attention. It is difficult to imagine a better refutation of the opinions and hopes of our pacifiers and our conciliators.”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 45
SOME PEOPLE WANT TO DISTORT THE ROLE OF THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT
A large number of people did not wish to push things further than the overthrow of the historic muck-heap surmounted by a hedged-in crown, further than by replacing the hereditary dictatorship of Peter the Great’s descendants by a middle-class government professing to be democratic, to which would be returned in rotation two or three Parties all equally democratic in word and anti-democratic in deed; with a President instead of an Emperor, an armchair instead of a throne. No difference except the erasure of a few coats of arms, slight alterations in the flag and the postage-stamps, and, at the beginnings of almanacks and directories, a change in the personnel charged with keeping the people in subjection. And the dictatorship of proletariat and, in consequence, social justice sinking head first into this republican mixture. And the system of endemic warfare and the exploitation of man by man remaining intact. A fresh lie, in fact, a fresh political crime against the people.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 50
LENIN AND STALIN BEGAN TO CREATE A STATE WITHIN A STATE
Lenin brought into existence what one might call duality of power: a Socialist State within the State. Side-by-side with the official Government, he created another Government, fully constituted, having its form in the Petrograd Soviet, functioning and consolidating itself, quite ready to become the only one. And the mass of workers openly began to prefer this Government to the official Government beside it.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 51
LENIN REMAINED IMPASSIVE WHEN FACING THOSE STALIN CALLED THE HYSTERICS
…against those whom Stalin called “the hysterics,” that is to say the revolutionary-Socialists and the Anarchists (Spiridovna threatening Lenin with the revolver at a meeting; Lenin remaining quite impassive, apparently almost amused….
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 56
TROTSKY WAS AN ANTI-BOLSHEVIK MENSHEVIK AT HEART
Whatever may have been the various causes which incited it, the great reason for Trotsky’s schism is chiefly his conception of political principles. Even if the incidental cause is vanity, the fundamental cause is ideological. It is based upon a fundamental divergence of tendencies between his own and Lenin’s principles of Bolshevism. It reveals a different political temperament, a different set of values and different methods. And it is as a result of the intensive and bitter development of these fundamental differences and of their exploitation that Trotsky gradually took an opposition stand against the whole of the official Bolshevik policy.
Menshevik to start with, Trotsky always remained a Menshevik. He may have become anti-Bolshevik because he was a Trotskyist, but he certainly did so because he was an old Menshevik. Let us put it, if you wish, that the Trotskyist aroused the old Menshevik in him. Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 166
TROTSKY WAS TOO INDECISIVE, IMPRACTICAL, AND VACILLATING TO LEAD
…But, above all, the two people [Lenin and Trotsky] are not on the same scale, and in any case, one cannot reasonably put any other personality on a parallel with the gigantic figure of Lenin.
But Trotsky’s very qualities had serious counterparts which easily changed them into defects. His critical sense, hypertrophied but without any broadness (Lenin’s, like Stalin’s, was encyclopedic), rivetted his attention upon details, prevented him from visualizing situations as a whole and made him pessimistic.
Besides, he had too much imagination. He had an uncontrolled imagination. And this imagination, jostling against its own self, would lose its balance, and cease to be able to distinguish the possible from the impossible (which, in any case, is not the function of the imagination). Lenin used to say that Trotsky was perfectly capable of producing nine good solutions and a Tenth disastrous one. The men who worked with Trotsky will tell you that, every morning when they awoke, they murmured, as they opened their eyes and stretched themselves: “I wonder what Trotsky is going to invent today.”
He saw all the alternatives too clearly, so that all sorts of doubts would assail him. The thesis and the antithesis haunted him at the same time. “Trotsky is a human shuttle cock,” said Lenin. So he would hesitate and vacillate. He was unable to make a decision. He was afraid, and consequently always instinctively opposed the actual work in hand.
Again, he was too fond of talking. He would become intoxicated by the sound of his own voice. “Even when speaking confidentially to a single person, he becomes declamatory,” said one of his former companions. To sum up, Trotsky possessed the eminent qualities of an advocate, of a debater, of an art critic, and of a journalist–but not that of a statesman having to break new ground. He lacked the exclusive and absolute sense of reality and of life. He lacked the great straightforward ruthlessness of the man of action. He did not possess really strong Marxist convictions. He was afraid. He had always been afraid. It was out of fear that he remained a Menshevik, and it is equally out of fear that he has become unbalanced and is sometimes seized with frantic attacks of extremeness. One cannot understand Trotsky unless one can discern his weakness through his fits of violence.
In a general survey Manuilsky has given us an even broader view of the matter: “The almost uninterrupted succession of Oppositions was the expression of the retirement of the feebler elements of the Party from Bolshevik positions.” All Opposition is a confession of retrogression, discouragement, incipient paralysis, and sleeping sickness.
It was the same abroad: “During the period of the actual and relative stabilization of Capitalism, Socialists began to waiver and to leave the ranks of the Communist International.” It is hard work having to keep on marching forward, constantly bearing that manner. After a certain time one’s feet grow tired, one’s fingers lose their grip–unless one has a vocation for it.
It is because of the platitude, the bustling pettiness and the impotence of Menshevism, because of what Stalin has called “the dissolute character of the Mensheviks in the matter of organization, “that Trotsky was beaten. If Trotsky had been right he would have won. In the same way as the Bolsheviks who, at the dawn of the New Era, opposed the Mensheviks in the heart of the Social-Democratic Party and forced a separation, would themselves have been beaten–if they had been wrong.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 167-169
Trotsky appears to me as the type of the pure revolutionary: of great service in the emotional stress of war, but of no further use when all that is needed is calm, steady, systematic work instead of exultation. As soon as the heroic period of the revolution was past, his vision of men and affairs became distorted and he began to see all things in a false light. Obstinately, long after Lenin had adapted his views to the facts, Trotsky clung to the principles which had been proved during the heroic, emotional, but which were bound to go awry the moment they had to serve everyday needs. As his book shows, Trotsky knows how to carry away crowds in moments of great excitement. Certainly when feelings ran high he was able to let loose a mighty flood of enthusiasm, but what he could not do was to “canalize” the flood and turn it to account in the building up of a great state.
This Stalin can do.
Trotsky is the born writer. His affectionate descriptions of literary activities make good reading, and I take him at his word when he says: “A well-written book, in which one finds new thoughts, and a good pen, with which one can communicate one’s own thoughts to others, have always been and still are for me the most precious and intimate products of civilization.” Trotsky’s tragedy is that he was not content with being a great writer. This insatiability turned him into a contentious doctrinaire who, by the mischief he made, and meant to make, caused innumerable people to forget his merits.
I know this type of writer and revolutionary well, even if only in miniature. Certain leaders of the German revolution, the Kurt Eisner’s and Gustav Landauers, had much in common with Trotsky, although, of course, on a smaller scale. Their rigid adherence to a dogma, their inability to adapt themselves to changed circumstances, in short, their lack of practical political psychology, made these theorists and doctrinaires fitted for political action for a short time only. For the greater period of their lives they were good writers, but no politicians. They did not find the way to the heart of the people. They did not know enough of popular and mass psychology. They felt a kinship for the masses which the masses did not feel for them.
While the great conflict between Trotsky and Stalin rests on differences of opinion on all-important points, these differences arise from a more fundamental divergence. It was the natures of the two men which led them to opposite conceptions in regard to the most important questions of the Russian Revolution, to the nationality problem, the peasant problem, and to the question whether it was possible to establish socialism in any one country. Stalin held the opinion that complete and practical socialism could be established without a world revolution, and, moreover, that by the protection of the national interests of the various Soviet peoples, it could be established in one separate country; he believed that the Russian peasant had the possibility of socialism within him. Trotsky disputed that. He declared world revolution to be a necessary condition for the establishment of socialism; he adhered rigidly to the Marxist doctrine of absolute internationalism; he advocated the tactics of the permanent revolution and demonstrated with a great show of logic the correctness of the Marxist position that the establishment of socialism in any one country was impossible….
Before the end of 1935 at the latest, the whole world recognized that socialism had been established in one country and that, what was more, the military resources had been created for the defense of this new structure against any conceivable foe.
What could Trotsky do? He could keep quiet. He could admit himself beaten and say he had been wrong. He could reconcile himself with Stalin.
He found it impossible. He could not conquer himself. The man who had seen so much that others had not seen, now failed to see what every child saw. Food was being produced at a great pace; the machines were functioning; raw materials were being reclaimed as never before; the country was electrified and motorized. Trotsky would not admit it. He said that the very fact that all this had been accomplished so quickly, and the feverish tempo of the construction, must result in fragility. The Soviet Union, the ” Stalin State,” as he called it, must sooner or later fall to pieces of its own accord, and it was bound to collapse in any case as soon as the Fascist powers attacked it. And Trotsky launched forth into extravagant outbursts of hatred against the man in whose name the construction had become a fact.
Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937. New York: The Viking Press, 1937, p. 97-101
During the crisis [Brest Litovsk] the ‘deserter and strike-breaker’ of October, Zinoviev, rallied to his [Lenin] side; and Lenin was as quick in forgetting an old grievance as he had been ruthless in voicing it. On the other hand, Trotsky suffered a temporary eclipse. He had laid bare an important weakness of his–a certain lack of plain realism, a propensity to verbal solutions and theatrical gestures in a situation which brooked neither. His eclipse was not serious. His moral authority was still second only to Lenin’s.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 192
(by Joseph Hansen)
Even Deutscher viewed Trotsky’s engagement in building a world party of socialist revolution as a “foible.”
Trotsky, Leon. My Life. Gloucester, Massachusetts: P. Smith, 1970, p. v
He [Trotsky] was, as I have hinted, an intellectual’s politician not a politician’s. He was arrogant, he was a wonderful phrase-maker, he was good at points of dramatic action. But, as with Churchill (there are some resemblances), his judgment, over most of his career, tended to be brilliantly wrong. In politics, particularly in the life-and-death politics of revolution, you can’t afford to be brilliantly wrong.
…He was a brave and dashing extemporizer: but when it came to steady administrative policies, he could suddenly swing into a bureaucratic rigidity stiffer than any of the others’.
Above all, he [Trotsky] hadn’ the animal instinct that a politician needs. When Lenin died, he was convalescing in the Crimea. He didn’t return to Moscow. He did not obey one of the oldest of political rules: never be too proud to be present. In a time of crisis, the first essential is to be on the spot, in physical presence, in the flesh.
Snow, Charles Percy. Variety of Men. New York: Scribner, 1966, p. 255
STALIN CONTINUED THE IDEAS OF LENIN AND PROTECTED THEM
“The proletariat must have a clear objective (a programme) and a definite line of action (tactics),” said Stalin, who always acts according to his words.
Since those days, Stalin has watched more jealously than ever over the unimpaired greatness of Leninism, which he had saved from intrigue at a moment when the great experiment of liberty, which had never ceased to make progress, had nevertheless not yet reached its full maturity; at a period at which the Soviet Revolutionaries and the proletariat were eagerly yet slowly giving life to the monumental new organism by a self-sacrifice comparable to a transfusion of blood.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 191
SOCIALISM FAVORS MAXIMUM OF GOOD OVER MINIMUM OF EFFORT
Besides, the whole of Socialism itself tends strictly towards “Maximum of good with minimum of effort.”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 225
CHURCHILL BLASTS TROTSKY AND HIS IMMENSE EGO
It is probable that Trotsky never comprehended the Marxian creed: but of its drill-book he was the incomparable master. He possessed in his nature all the qualities requisite for the art of civic destruction–the organizing command of a Carnot, the cold detached intelligence of Machiavelli, the mob oratory of a Cleon, the ferocity of Jack the Ripper, the toughness of Titus Oates. No trace of compassion, no sense of human kinship, no apprehension of the spiritual, weakened his high and tireless capacity for action. Like the cancer bacillus he grew, he fed, he tortured, he slew in fulfillment of his nature. He found a wife who shared the Communist faith. She worked and plotted at his side. She shared his first exile to Siberia in the days of the Czar. She bore him children. She aided his escape. He deserted her. He found another kindred mind in a girl of good family who had been expelled from a school at Kharkov for persuading the pupils to refuse to attend prayers and to read Communist literature instead of the Bible. By her he had another family. As one of his biographers (Max Eastman) put it: “If you have a perfectly legal mind, she is not Trotsky’s wife, for Trotsky never divorced Alexandra Sokolovski who still uses the name of Bronstein.” Of his mother he writes in cold and chilling terms. His father–old Bronstein–died of typhus in 1920 at the age of 83. The triumphs of his [Trotsky’s father] son brought no comfort to this honest hard-working and believing Jew. Persecuted by the Reds because he was a bourgeoisie; by the Whites because he was Trotsky’s father, and deserted by his son, he was left to sink or swim in the Russian deluge, and swam on steadfastly to the end. What else was there for him to do?
… All the collectivism in the world could not rid him [Trotsky] of an egoism which amounted to a disease, and to a fatal disease. He must not only ruin the State, he must rule the ruins thereafter. Every system of government of which he was not the head or almost the head was odious to him. The Dictatorship of the Proletariat to him meant that he was to be obeyed without question. He was to do the dictating on behalf of the proletariat. “The toiling masses,” the “Councils of Workmen, Peasants and Soldiers,” the gospel and revelation of Karl Marx, the Federal Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, etc., to him were all spelt in one word: Trotsky.
Churchill, Winston. Great Contemporaries. New York: Putnam, 1937, p. 170
The Army must be remade; victory must be won; and Trotsky must do it and Trotsky must profit from it…. He used his exceptional prowess to the full. The officers and soldiers of the new model army were fed, clothed and treated better than anyone else in Russia. Officers of the old Czarist regime were wheedled back in thousands. “To the devil with politics–let us save Russia.” The salute was reintroduced. The badges of rank and privilege were restored. The authority of commanders was reestablished. The higher command found themselves treated by this Communist upstart with a deference they had never experienced from the Ministers of the Czar.
Churchill, Winston. Great Contemporaries. New York: Putnam, 1937, p. 171
REVOLUTIONARY INTELLECTUALS OFTEN PUT THEIR EGOS ABOVE THE CAUSE
…But the revolutionary intellectuals, time and again in moments of crisis, have shown their tendency to put personal prestige before everything else, and to fight to the bitter end against political opponents, even if this sacrifices the very principles that they were verbally accepting.
Pritt, Denis Nowell. The Moscow Trial was Fair. London: ” Russia To-day,” 1937, p. 10
It a surely of such men that Mao was thinking when he wrote: “All wisdom comes from the masses. I’ve always said that intellectuals are the most lacking in intellect. The intellectuals cock their tails in the air, and they think, ‘If I don’t rank No. 1 in all the world, then I’m at least No. 2.’”
Spence, Jonathan D. Mao Zedong. New York: Viking, 1999, p. 159
TROTSKY DENOUNCES LENINISM
That Trotsky launched vicious attacks against Leninism and Lenin is not an ‘invention’ of Stalin’s, as the Trotskyites usually assert, can be seen from the following extracts from a letter of Trotsky’s to Chkiedze written in 1913:
“The entire edifice of Leninism is built on lies and falsification and bears within itself the poisonous elements of its own decay.”
Further on in the same letter Trotsky describes Lenin as: “a professional exploiter of every kind of backwardness in the Russian working-class movement.”
Here, straight from the horse’s mouth, you have in unadulterated form the true regard that Trotskyism has for Leninism….
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 82
LENIN OPPOSES TROTSKY ON MAJOR ISSUES
Proceeding from the theory of ‘permanent revolution’ Trotskyism cannot but attack Leninism. Leninism says that the proletariat in a single country can build socialism, whereas Trotskyism says that it cannot. Leninism holds that the peasantry is a reliable and firm ally of the proletariat, while Trotskyism says it is not. Leninism says that under the conditions of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the leadership of the working-class it is possible to mobilize the poor and middle peasantry in the task of building socialism, whereas according to Trotskyism this is an impossibility.
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 150
TROTSKYISM HAS NEVER SUCCEEDED IN LEADING ANY NATION
Trotskyites have never ever made a successful revolution nor will they ever be able to make a revolution unless and until they shed their Trotskyism…
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 335
TROTSKY WAS A PROLIFIC WRITER ALWAYS READY TO LIE ABOUT OPPONENTS
Trotsky was a fierce hater and a prolific writer, a polemicist rather than a historian, who was always ready to distort and invent evidence against his enemy.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. xii
STALIN WAS DEFINITELY NOT THE GREY BLUR IN SOVIET HISTORY TROTSKY SAID HE WAS
Far from being a “grey blur,” he was gaining the respect and confidence of members, as was shown at the Seventh Party Conference in late April 1917, when he received the third highest number of votes after Lenin and Zinoviev in the secret ballot for the Central Committee.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 92
Trotsky, in one of his articles, wrote about Stalin’s lack of creative input from 1900 to 1910. This assertion is unjust. Stalin was not only an activist; he also aspired to the role of theoretician, at least on the Transcaucasian level. From 1900 to 1910 he wrote quite a few articles and pamphlets,… But it is incorrect to speak of a complete absence of creative output on Stalin’s part.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 30
Much has since been written in order to belittle or to exaggerate Koba’s role in those days [imprisonment in the early 1900s]. This suggests that at the age of 22 he was already some sort of ‘grey eminence’ in the underground of his native province. He was certainly not the undistinguished member of the rank-and-file, the nonentity, described by Trotsky.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 50
When the Seventh Party Conference assembled toward the end of April 1917, the membership was approaching 80,000…. Stalin was elected to the Central Committee and his current stature in the Party was attested to by the fact that in the secret balloting he received 97 of the 109 delegate votes. Only Lenin with 104 and Zinoviev with 101 were ahead. The barely known Caucasian of 1912, the man whom five weeks earlier it had been proposed should be kept out of the Party councils because of his bad temper and manners, was now freely acknowledged by his fellow Bolsheviks to be the leading “practitioner” in
the Party. In the turbulent months ahead Stalin remained at the center, one of the principal leaders of the Party, though only a secondary figure of the Revolution.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 141
But those who concluded that he was a ‘grey blank’ simply demonstrated their ignorance of central party life.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 132
True, he was not a gray blur or a mediocrity or the “creature of the party bureaucracy” claimed by Trotsky in later years.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 9
TROTSKY SAYS LENIN LIKED STALIN’S FIRMNESS & CHARACTER NOT HIS CREATIVITY & IDEAS
As Trotsky wrote later:
“…What Lenin valued in Stalin was his character, firmness, tenacity, insistence, and partly also his craftiness. He valued these as indispensable qualities in a fight. Independent ideas, political initiative, or creative imagination he did not expect or demand of Stalin.”
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 64
Undoubtedly he [Lenin] valued certain of Stalin’s traits very highly, his firmness of character, his persistence, even his ruthlessness and conniving, attributes indispensable in struggle and consequently at Party Headquarters.
Trotsky , Leon , Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 373
LENIN WAS VERY WORRIED ABOUT STALIN’S HEALTH
Lenin’s attitude toward Stalin was so benevolent in the years 1918-1921 that he personally concerned himself with finding a quiet apartment for him in the Kremlin. He reprimanded Ordjonikidze for disturbing Stalin while the latter was on vacation in the Northern Caucasus. Lenin asked for a doctor to be found to treat Stalin and asked that he’d be sent the doctor’s conclusions about Stalin’s health.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 67
LENIN WAS HARSH IN DEBATES WITH OPPONENTS
This is what Yakubovich says about him [Lenin] in his memoirs;
“Lenin was harsh in his polemics with ideological opponents; he never liked to use a conciliatory tone or to gloss over conflicts; he made a definite point of any disagreements he had with other party figures.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 137
STALIN WAS THOROUGHLY ANTI-CAPITALIST
I am profoundly convinced that Stalin never sought to restore capitalism.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 599
LENIN WAS AN EXCELLENT DEBATER
While his [Lenin] speeches were swift and fluent and crowded with facts, they were generally as unpicturesque and unromantic as his platform appearance. They demanded sustained thought and were just the opposite of Kerensky’s. Kerensky was a romantic figure, an eloquent orator, with all those arts and passions which should have swayed, one would think, “the ignorant and illiterate Russians.” But they were not swayed by him. Here is another Russian anomaly. The masses listened to the flashing sentences and magnificent periods of this brilliant platform orator. Then they turned around and gave their allegiance to Lenin, the scholar, the man of logic, of measured thought and academic utterance.
Lenin is a master of dialectics and polemics, aggravatingly self-possessed in debate. And in debate he is at his best. Olgin [a publicist who left Russia for the U.S. in 1914 and wrote a number of articles and books about the USSR] says: “Lenin does not reply to an opponent. He vivisects him. He is as keen as the edge of a razor. His mind works with amazing acuteness. He notices every flaw in the line of argument. He disagrees with, and he draws the most absurd conclusions from, premises unacceptable to him. At the same time he is derisive. He ridicules his opponent. He castigates him. He makes you feel that his victim is an ignoramus, a fool, a presumptuous nonentity. You are swept by the power of his logic. You are overwhelmed by his intellectual passion.”
Lenin aimed primarily at the intellect, not at the emotions.
Williams, Albert R. Through the Russian Revolution. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1967, p. 32
LENIN TRANSLATES ENGLISH INTO RUSSIAN
When Lenin stepped down, Podvoisky announced, “An American comrade to address you.” The crowd pricked up its years and I climbed upon the big car.
“Oh, good. You speak in English,” said Lenin. “Allow me to be your interpreter.”
“No, I shall speak in Russian,” I answered, prompted by some reckless impulse.
… I wanted to tell them that if a great crisis came I should myself be glad to enlist in the ranks of the Red Army. I paused, fumbling for a word. Lenin looked up and asked, “What word do you want?” “Enlist,” I answered. “V stupit.” He prompted.
Williams, Albert R. Through the Russian Revolution. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1967, p. 34
LENIN WAS FIERCE TOWARD HIS ENEMIES IN DEBATE AND ARGUMENTS
Lenin is sincere even with his avowed enemies. An Englishman, commenting on his extraordinary frankness, says his attitude was like this: “Personally, I have nothing against you. Politically, however, you are my enemy and I must use every weapon I can think of for your destruction. Your government does the same against me. Now let us see how far we can go along together.”
Williams, Albert R. Through the Russian Revolution. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1967, p. 41
LENIN SHOWERS OPPONENTS WITH INVECTIVE AND INSULTING LABELS
As is well known, Lenin generously showered his opponents in debate with insulting invective and spiteful labels.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 344
TROTSKY USES LEFTIST RHETORIC BUT IS ACTUALLY DEFEATIST AND PESSIMISTIC
The bold revolutionary, who always liked to pose as being more resolute than anyone else, is clearly exaggerating the difficulties.
This was always a characteristic of Trotsky. While he seldom missed an opportunity of adopting a revolutionary pose, of “being more revolutionary than anyone else,” very often the pose concealed the profoundest pessimism; concealed the fact that the poseur had no faith in the Russian masses and was preparing to surrender to capitalism.
Campbell, J. R. Soviet Policy and Its Critics. London: V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 45
LENIN IS CLOSEST TO STALIN AND FAVORS HIM OVER TROTSKY
The log of Lenin’s activities during this time (May 25-Oct. 2, 1922) indicates Stalin to have been the most frequent visitor to Gorky, meeting with Lenin 12 times; according to Bukharin, Stalin was the only member of the Central Committee whom Lenin asked to see during the most serious stages of his illness. According to Maria Ulianova, these were very affectionate encounters: “Lenin met [Stalin] in a friendly manner, he joked, laughed, asked that I entertain him, offer him wine, and so on. During this and further visits, they also discussed Trotsky in my presence, and it was apparent that here Lenin sided with Stalin against Trotsky.” Lenin also frequently communicated with Stalin in writing. His archive contains many notes to Stalin requesting his advice on every conceivable issue, including questions of foreign policy. Worried lest Stalin overwork himself, he asked that the Politburo instruct him to take two days’ rest in the country every week. After learning from Lunacharsky that Stalin lived in shabby quarters, he saw to it that something better was found for him. There is no record of similar intimacy between Lenin and any other member of the Politburo.
After obtaining Lenin’s consent and then settling matters among themselves, the triumvirate [Stalin, Zinoviev, Kamenev] would present to the Politburo and the Sovnarkom resolutions that these bodies approved as a matter of course. Trotsky either voted with the majority or abstained. By virtue of their collaboration in a Politburo that at the time had only seven members (in addition to them and the absent Lenin, Trotsky, Tomsky, and Bukharin), the troika could have its way on all issues and isolate Trotsky, who had not a single supporter in that body.
Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1993, p. 464-466
Until the end of 1922, Stalin’s relations with Lenin were extremely close. From the end of May until the beginning of October in that year, Stalin visited Lenin at Gorky 12 times, more often than any other person. As Lenin’s sister Maria wrote to the Presidium of the Combined Plenum of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission of July 1926:
“Lenin valued Stalin very highly…. Lenin used to call him out and would give him the most intimate instructions, instructions of the sort one can only give to someone one particularly trusts, someone one knows as a sincere revolutionary, as a close comrade…. In fact, during the entire time of his illness, as long as he had the possibility of seeing his comrades, he most frequently invited Comrade Stalin, and during the most difficult moments of his illness Stalin was the only member of the Central Committee he invited.”
This letter was written to bolster Stalin in the savage internecine struggle going on in the leadership, but it nevertheless reflects the reality.
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Lenin: A New Biography. New York: Free Press, 1994, p. 268
STALIN MERELY FOLLOWED LENIN
All efforts to whiten Lenin and make a saint of him are useless: 50 years of history tell a different story. Stalin did not discover or devise anything new.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 182
Anyone who wished to attack the status quo would have serious difficulty demonstrating that either the leadership personnel or the policies were not those established by Lenin, the barely surviving founder whose image was increasingly revered. Had not Lenin, while still alive, participated in the election of the present Central Committee, Politburo, Secretariat? Had he not inaugurated the New Economic Policy? Had he not established a correspondingly moderate foreign policy, which favored cooperation with reformist socialists in the West and with nationalist revolutionaries in semi-colonial countries, such as China? And had he not shaped the domestic political order, whatever he might say about its ‘bureaucratiism’? Most particularly, had he not banned ‘factions’ within the Communist Party?
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 82
LENIN’S SHUT HIMSELF IN LIBRARY TO WRITE MATERIALISM AND EMPIRIO-CRITICISM
For a time Lenin detached himself from day-to-day politics and, to the grave embarrassment of his pupils, shut himself up in the Paris libraries in order to produce his philosophical magnum opus, Materialism and Empirio-criticism, in which he flayed the neo-Kantians, the God-seekers, and all the other questioners of Marxist philosophy.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 106
CLASSICS WERE NOT MEANT TO KNOW ALL & PROVIDE SOLUTIONS TO ALL LATER PROBLEMS
[Report to the 18th Congress on March 10, 1939]
We cannot expect the Marxian classics, separated as they were from our day by a period of 45 or 55 years, to have foreseen each and every zigzag of history in the distant future in every separate country. It would be ridiculous to expect that the Marxian classics should have elaborated for our benefit ready-made solutions for each and every theoretical problem that might arise in any particular country 50 or 100 years afterwards, so that we, the descendants of the Marxian classics, might calmly doze at the fireside and munch ready-made solutions.
Franklin, Bruce, Ed. The Essential Stalin; Major Theoretical Writings. Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1972, p. 383
TROTSKY SAYS HE CAME FROM THE UPPER CLASS
This, however, scarcely affected my own position. As the son of a prosperous landowner, I’ve belonged to the privileged class rather than to the oppressed.
Trotsky, Leon. My Life. Gloucester, Massachusetts: P. Smith, 1970, p. 86
TROTSKY WAS A FANATICAL DOGMATIST WHO REFUSED TO RECANT WHEN WRONG
Another of Trotsky’s weak points was his lack of substance as a theoretician and thinker. He was more of a fanatical believer. First he believed in Marxism, then in its interpretation by Lenin. His faith was profound and unshakable. He never manifested doubt or hesitation as to the dogma. He was unable to capitulate except in the face of his Party, which he believed to be the perfect instrument of universal revolution. He never recanted his ideas and believed in them fanatically to the end of his days.
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 117
He [Trotsky] rejected Kamenev’s promptings with scorn and contempt. He declared that he would do nothing to “ease” his own re-entry into the party and that he would not beg his persecutors to recall him to Moscow. It was up to them to do so if they wished, but even then he would not cease to attack them and the capitulators as well.
This was Trotsky’s reply not only to Kamenev’s suggestions, but also to Stalin’s vague and allusive blandishments. Conciliation between them was out of the question. He responded far more favorably to Bukharin’s appeal [to unite against Stalin].
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 447
TROTSKY NEVER UNDERSTOOD PEOPLE
Another Trotsky trait that always surprised me: his astonishing naivete and incomprehension of people. One would think that he’d spent his entire life dwelling on abstractions without ever seeing living people as they really are. In particular he never understood anything of Stalin, although he wrote a long book about him.
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 122
HOW ARE STALIN AND TROTSKY DIFFERENT
Trotsky detested Stalin so heartily that he studiously insulted him in public; for instance, in committee meetings he would ostentatiously pick up a newspaper and begin to read to himself whenever Stalin made a speech.
The difference in their characters was, of course, profound. Stalin, a passionate politician, above all a creature of committees; Trotsky, a lone wolf, a violent individualist, who for 20 years could not bear to shackles himself with allegiance to either the Bolshevik or Menshevik divisions in the party. Stalin, patient as an icon; Trotsky, vivacious as a satyr. Stalin, immobile, silent, cautious; Trotsky, a lively, frank, and inveterate conversationalist. Stalin, a bomb-thrower, literally; Trotsky, horrified by sporadic violence. Stalin, a hard-headed practical wire puller, unyieldingly jealous of his career; Trotsky, lover of the abstract, impulsive, vain. Stalin, a supreme organizer; Trotsky, a bad politician, incapable of compromise, very hard to work with. Observe their smiles. Stalin’s smiles like a tiger who is just swallowed the canary. Trotsky smiles brightly and spontaneously like a child. Observe their escapes from Siberia, Stalin went about it soberly, efficiently, with methodical coldness; Trotsky–puff!–has disappeared into clear air; he escapes like Ariel.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 525
TROTSKY IS DECEPTIVE, CUNNING, NON-BOLSHEVIK, DIVISIVE AND INDIVIDUALISTIC
The triumvirs were anxious to bring the contest to a speedy conclusion. They replied to Trotsky’s letter [a December 8th open letter to party meetings in which he made clear his position] with a deafening barrage of counter-accusations. It was, they said, disloyal on Trotsky’s part to vote with the whole of the Politburo for the New Course and then to cast aspersion upon the Politburo’s intentions. It was criminal to incite the young against the Old Guard, the repository of revolutionary virtue and tradition. It was wicked of him to try to turn the mass of the party against the machine, for every good old Bolshevik was aware how much importance the party had always attached to its machine and with how much care and devotion it had surrounded it. He equivocated over the ban on factions: he knew that the ban was essential to the party’s unity and did not dare to demand plainly that it be revoked; but he sought to sap it surreptitiously. He played falsely when he described the party regime as bureaucratic; and he played with fire when he aroused an exaggerated and dangerous appetite for democracy in the masses. He pretended to speak for the workers, but played up to the students and the intelligentsia, that is to the petty bourgeois gallery. He spoke about the rights and responsibility of the rank-and-file only to cover up his own irresponsibility, and frustrated dictatorial ambition. His hatred of the party machine, his contumelious attitude towards the Old Guard, his reckless individualism, his disrespect for Bolshevik tradition, yes, and his notorious “underestimation” of the peasantry–all this clearly indicated that at heart he had remained something of a stranger in the party, an alien to Leninism, an unreformed semi-Menshevik.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 125
LUDWIG COMPARES STALIN TO TROTSKY
I never saw Lenin. But I met Trotsky a few years ago on Princes Island, near Stamboul, and I can compare Stalin with him, for it is only recently that I have been conversing with Stalin in the Kremlin…. Except for their energy, they have not a single characteristic in common. Trotsky’s head is remarkable for the brow and the eyes, whereas in the case of Stalin these two are insignificant. This does not mean, however, that Stalin is not a thinker and an observer…. The only thing common to Trotsky and Stalin in their physical appearance is the delicate hands, which seem to be a general characteristic of dictators.
The peculiarities of character which one finds in each of these two are in keeping with the contrast in their physical appearance. As the leading disciples of Lenin, they showed the mini-sidedness of their teacher. Trotsky has the same kind of elan as Lenin, Stalin the same kind of perseverance. Trotsky works from above through speeches and the arousing of mass emotion, whereas Stalin works from below by developing the individual. Trotsky is an enthusiast, Stalin a politician. Trotsky is the strategist, Stalin the tactician. Trotsky inspires the masses, Stalin organizes them. Trotsky is frank and expansive and talkative, Stalin reserved and silent. Trotsky is pleasantly witty, Stalin destructively humorous. In Trotsky everything is quick and brilliant. The Word is his weapon. It is with that that he destroys his opponent. He can speak it and write it in several languages. Over against this brilliant and alert and versatile Trotsky, everything in Stalin is slow and ponderous. He annihilates his opponent with the weight of his carefully gathered material. Trotsky is a prophet, Stalin a father. We might compare Trotsky to a high-powered motor-car that can take all gradients on first speed and will win in almost any speed test. And we may compare Stalin to those tractors that he has introduced into Russia and that turn up the earth in their slow plodding movement, preparing it for the seeds of the new State, silently and inexorably breaking through the hardest soil.
Ludwig, Emil. Leaders of Europe. London: I. Nicholson and Watson Ltd., 1934, p. 358-359
TROTSKY LIED ABOUT STALIN AND UNJUSTLY ACCUSED HIM
Nevertheless, in composing the portrait [of Stalin], he [Trotsky] uses abundantly far too often the material of inference, guess, and hearsay. He picks up any piece of gossip or rumor if only it shows a trait of cruelty or suggests treachery in the young Djugachvili. He gives credence to Stalin’s schoolmates and later enemies who in reminiscences about their childhood, written in exile thirty or more years after the events, say that the boy Soso “had only a sarcastic sneer for the joys and sorrows of his fellows”: that “compassion for people or for animals was foreign to him”; or that from “his youth the carrying out of vengeful plots became for him the goal that dominated all his efforts.”…
There is no need to go into many examples of this approach. The most striking is, of course, Trotsky’s suggestion, mentioned earlier, that Stalin had poisoned Lenin….
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 452
Yet he never states whether he himself had conceived the suspicion or conviction of Stalin’s guilt already in 1924 or whether he formed it only during the purges, after Yagoda and the Kremlin doctors had been charged with using poison in their murderous intrigues. If he had felt this conviction or suspicion in 1924, why did he never voice it before 1939? Why did he, even after Lenin’s death, describe Stalin as a “brave and sincere revolutionary” to none other than Max Eastman?… Thus he still treats the Stalin of 1924 as a basically honest though short-sighted man, who would have hardly been capable of poisoning Lenin. Such inconsistencies suggest that in charging Stalin with this particular crime, Trotsky is projecting the experience of the great purges back to 1923-24.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 454
Trotsky’s Stalin is implausible to the extent to which he presents the character as being essentially the same in 1936-38 as in 1924, and even in 1904. The monster does not form, grow, and emerge–he is there almost fully-fledged from the outset. Any better qualities and emotions, such as intellectual ambition and a degree of sympathy with the oppressed, without which no young man would ever join a persecuted revolutionary party, are almost totally absent. Stalin’s rise within the party is not due to merit or achievement; and so his career becomes very nearly inexplicable. His election to Lenin’s Politburo, his presence in the Bolshevik inner cabinet, and his appointment to the post of the General Secretary appear quite fortuitous…. Yet even from Trotsky’s disclosures it is evident that Stalin did not at all come to the fore in this way: that he had been, next to Lenin and Trotsky, the most influential man in the party’s inner councils at least since 1918; and that it was not for nothing that Lenin in his will described Stalin as one of the “two most able men of the Central Committee.”
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 455
Trotsky would have us believe that even before Lenin’s first stroke, Stalin had been maneuvering to isolate and replace the grandmaster of Bolshevism. It is a fascinating theory, but there is not a shred of evidence to support it. At the time Lenin was stricken, there was animus between him and Stalin, but of a transitory character.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 201
STALIN SAYS MARX DID NOT TOTALLY DISCOUNT HEROES MAKING HISTORY
…The extreme simplicity which is his distinguishing characteristic would be a matter of course in a man of intelligence if he ran no risk of megalomania. For the cult carried on about him is as ridiculous as that in Rome and Berlin. Hence, when I asked him why he tolerated the busts and photographs in all the shop windows in contradiction to the Marxian theory that the masses, not individuals, make history, he replied:…
“You are mistaken! Your own theory, namely that individuals make history, stands in Marx’s Poverty of Philosophy. Yet not in the way the imagination conceives, but according to the circumstances into which those men are born. Great men are only valuable in proportion to their grasp of circumstances; otherwise they become Don Quixotes. For that matter, Marx does not contrast men and circumstances; he never denied the role of the hero. So far as I can judge, men certainly make history.”
Ludwig, Emil. Three portraits: Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin. New York Toronto: Longmans, Green and Company, c1940, p. 117-118
STALIN DISPENSED JUSTICE FAR MORE FAIRLY THAN TROTSKY
In Tsaritsyn he dealt cruelly with some of the military specialists: many were dismissed, some imprisoned and then shot. About the same time Trotsky was using similar measures against Bolsheviks at another segment of the front. A local commissar was executed, as were 26 men who had deserted, and he accompanied the executions with an order that in case of mass desertion or unauthorized withdrawals it would be the commissar who would be shot first. What could impress itself on the mind of some of the more primitive Communists was that Stalin was shooting “gentleman” for treason, while Trotsky was killing honest Communists for such a relative trifle as disobeying orders.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 173
LENIN FIGHTS TO CHANGE THE PARTY’S NAME TO COMMUNIST PARTY
All, with the exception of Lenin, decided to retain the title of the Social-Democratic Bolshevik Party. It was more than a year before Lenin’s “professional revolutionaries” consented to describe themselves as Communists.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 79
STALIN DID NOT BLINDLY FOLLOW LENIN
Yet again Dzhughashvili had spoken confidently for Bolshevism without automatically consenting to everything advocated by Lenin. He acknowledged him as his faction’s leader. But his obedience was not blind: Dzhughashvili thought his direct daily experience of the Russian Empire kept him in closer touch with revolutionary possibilities than the emigres.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 63
On 7 November 1939 Stalin said: “The slogan of “the United States of Europe” was mistaken. Lenin caught himself in time and struck that slogan.
Dimitrov, Georgi, The Diary of Georgi Dimitrov, 1933-1949. Ed. Ivo Banac. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 121
STALIN AND LENIN AGREE ON ALMOST EVERY ISSUE
The reason why Lenin chose Stalin was less administrative than political. He wanted one of his allies in a post crucial to the maintenance of his policies.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 190
The matters dividing them[Lenin and Stalin] were not of primary importance despite what was said by Lenin at the time (and despite what has been written by historians ever after). Stalin and Lenin agreed about basic politics. Neither questioned the desirability of the one-party state, its ideological monopoly or its right to use dictatorial and terrorist methods. They concurred on the provisional need for the NEP. They had also reached an implicit agreement that Stalin had an important job in the central party apparatus to block the advance of the Trotskyists and tighten the whole administrative order. Lenin had trusted him with such tasks. Stalin had also been the comrade in whom he had confided when he wanted to commit suicide. Whenever toughness was needed, Lenin had turned to him. Not once had there been a question of basic principle dividing them, and they had worked well together since the trade union dispute. Lenin had been behaving bizarrely in the summer of 1922 before he fell out with Stalin. But it was Stalin who had to deal with him. His difficulties with Lenin would have tested the patience of a saint….
Their quarrels about Georgia and about the state monopoly of foreign trade touched matters of secondary importance.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 195
LENIN COMPLIMENTS STALIN AS A SPLENDID GEORGIAN
We have a splendid Georgian staying with us here who is writing a long article for Prosveshcheniye [Enlightenment], after garnering all the Austrian and other material. We will bear down on it.” The reference was to Stalin. Gorky, long connected with the party, knew all its leading cadres well. But Stalin evidently was utterly unknown to him, since Lenin had to resort to such an impersonal, although flattering expression as “a splendid Georgian.” This is, by the way, the only occasion when Lenin characterized a prominent Russian revolutionist by the token of his nationality.
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 154
TROTSKY SAYS STALIN IS HIS ENEMY
Stalin is my enemy.
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 372
TESTAMENT DOES NOT DENOUNCE STALIN ON IDEOLOGY
It was at this period, however, that Lenin drafted his famous “Testament,” which undoubtedly reflects his forebodings with regard to Stalin’s brusqueness but says not one word in criticism of his policy…. Nor did Stalin challenge him on his return to activity in the latter part of the year. On the contrary, it appeared they were in complete accord….
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 146
There is no criticism in a [A OR THE] document–Lenin’s testament–of Stalin’s policy, but only this delineation of personal qualities,
That Stalin deeply felt Lenin’s personal criticism is certain. For more than 20 years Lenin had been his teacher and he a faithful disciple. But he could “take it.” He has many of the qualities of the master. He is no yes-man. He has deep convictions, tremendous will-power and determination, and–could Lenin have lived long enough to see it–a patience which at times seems inexhaustible.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 151
…although subsequent events proved that he [Lenin] had over-estimated Trotsky and underestimated his “wonderful Georgian.”
When he [Stalin] read it [Lenin’s Testament] to the 13th Congress of the Party and commented, “Yes, I [Stalin] am rude to those who would destroy Lenin’s party, etc..,” he shifted the issue from one of good manners to the larger battle — ground of the principles, aims and role of the Party as the leader of the Revolution.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 154
There began already at that time, though not openly, the struggle between Trotsky and Zinoviev for the succession to Lenin. But there was discussion also as to what was going on at Lenin’s house at Gorky, in other words about Stalin. Thus it was almost a sensation when Kamenev brought the news that Lenin had broken with Stalin, and had written to Stalin dismissing him. Before long, however, the sensation shrank to its true proportions. It turned out that the actual personal difference had nothing to do with politics: Lenin had charged Stalin with rudeness and tactlessness toward his wife Krupskaya. It is easy to imagine that. It appears that Stalin never had any great opinion of Lenin’s wife.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 106
Lenin’s “testament” is, of course, favorable for the most part to Stalin; compared with the assessments given the others, the one of Stalin was the most positive…. But Lenin had for the entire preceding period given many descriptions of Trotsky, and they were entirely negative….
Stalin was, of course, distinguished by rudeness. He was a very blunt person. But if not for his harshness I don’t know how much good would have been accomplished. I think harshness was necessary, otherwise there would have been even greater vacillation and irresolution.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 213
This addendum to Lenin’s testament was read after his death to a plenary meeting of the Central Committee.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 108
Khrushchev’s treatment of the relations between Stalin and Lenin concentrates on Lenin’s growing apprehension of Stalin’s bureaucratic methods in 1923. He omits Lenin’s earlier admiration for Stalin and his forwarding of Stalin’s career in the Party dating back at least to 1912. Nor does he note that Lenin’s later attacks on Stalin were made when Lenin was ill and cut off from Party activity, and that even then, in his “testament,” he considered Stalin to be one of the outstanding Party leaders, his faults not those of “non-Bolshevism”–as with Trotsky–but of an over-bureaucratic method of work and personal “rudeness.” The fact that people who had “worked with Lenin” were executed means little unless we know who the people were and why they were executed. The fact that people worked with Lenin does not mean they were pro-socialist, as witness Kamenev & Zinoviev, both of whom Lenin condemned in his “testament.”
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 124
[In the Testament] neither his [Stalin] orthodoxy as a party man nor his loyalty to Lenin were called to question.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 90
Another strange thing: of all those mentioned in the letter Stalin appears in the most favorable light. He is the one Lenin accuses of rudeness and intolerance, but that was never regarded as a fault in the proletarian party.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 208
TROTSKY DENIES THERE IS A TESTAMENT
Footnote: Trotsky himself at first admitted that Lenin had left no Testament or Will. In a letter to the New York Daily Worker on August 8, 1925, Trotsky wrote: “As for the “will’, Lenin never left one, and the very nature of his relations with the Party as well as the nature of the Party itself made such a “will’ absolutely impossible.
“In the guise of a “will’ the emigre and foreign bourgeois and Menshevik press have all along been quoting one of Lenin’s letters (completely mutilated) which contains a number of advices on questions of organization.
“All talk about a secreted or infringed “will’ is so much mischievous invention directed against the real will of Lenin and of the interests of the Party created by him.”
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 200
…[at the October 1927 combined meeting of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission] he [Stalin] exploited the fact that, at the Politburo’s (and above all his own) insistence, Bolshevik of September 1925 had published a statement by Trotsky concerning the Testament. Giving into pressure from Stalin on that occasion, Trotsky had written:
“Since becoming ill, Vladimir Ilyich had frequently written proposals, letters, etc. to the party’s leading bodies and its congresses. All these letters etc. were naturally always delivered to their intended destinations, and were brought to the attention of the delegates to the 12th and 13th Congresses and always, naturally, had the appropriate influence on party decisions…. Vladimir Ilyich left no testament, and the very nature of his relations with the party, as well as the nature of the party itself, exclude the possibility of any such testament, so that any talk about concealing or not carrying out a testament is a malicious invention and is aimed in fact entirely against Vladimir Ilyich’s intention.”
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 138
Citing the article in Bolshevik Stalin went straight for his target:
“That was written by Trotsky and by no one else. What basis can Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev now have for wagging their tongues and claiming that the party and its Central Committee are ‘concealing’ Lenin’s testament?…
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 139
It was only after they have been beaten, in the spring 1926, that Zinoviev and Kamenev at last threw in their lot with Trotsky. Meanwhile, Trotsky, too, had further weakened his position by renouncing his supporters abroad, who had published Lenin’s testament. He even went so far– and all in the name of discipline–as to describe the document as apocryphal. The union of the two oppositions represented therefore little more than the joint wreckage of their former separate selves.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 307
It was ironically enough Trotsky who had publicly denied the existence of Lenin’s Testament.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 115
The will afforded little political or moral advantage to Trotsky. It was his moment to strike at Stalin but either he was paralyzed by Lenin’s words or he simply lacked the pluck. The will was waste paper as far as he was concerned, and he did not object to the proposal that its existence should be hidden from the Party as a whole and from the Russian people. When its contents were divulged onl hearsay by the emigre Press in Paris and Berlin Trotsky authoritatively denied that there had been such a document. In his autobiography Trotsky now gives his version of the will. The essence of it according to Trotsky was that Stalin be removed in order to avoid a split in the party. If so, why did he not press for it?
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 92
TROTSKY HAD TIME TO GET TO LENIN’S FUNERAL
When Lenin died, Trotsky was in Tiflis. He was at once informed by wire from Stalin. He had a week to get back to Moscow for the funeral and was not too ill to do so. Instead he went to Sukhumi on the Black Sea coast. His absence at the last rites was the first of a long series of political blunders.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 199
Whatever may have been his reasons, Trotsky’s failure to pay his last tribute to the dead leader horrified the people of Moscow as a want of respect and good taste. It was, moreover a political error of the first magnitude and dealt a fatal blow to Trotsky’s prestige…. To this day I cannot imagine why he did not come.
Duranty, Walter. I Write as I Please. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1935, p. 225
Such a combination of personal callousness and political insensitiveness does more to explain Trotsky’s downfall than a hundred books by Stalin’s warmest supporters. From that time onwards, although he had many devoted adherents in the Party, he had irretrievably “lost face” with the mass of the Russian people.
Duranty, Walter. I Write as I Please. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1935, p. 228
It is clear from his own account that it was not the state of his health which prevented Trotsky from taking part in Lenin’s funeral.
Duranty, Walter. I Write as I Please. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1935, p. 229
One only of the highest party leaders was not there–Trotsky, President of the War Council and Minister of War. He was in the Caucasus.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 97
The body was laid in state in the Kremlin, while members of the Bolshevik Central Committee took turns to watch over the remains of the revered leader…. among the symbolic figures standing silently by the bier, Stalin was prominent, but Trotsky was never seen. In his later efforts to justify this amazing stupidity, Trotsky took refuge behind the fact that he was ill at the time and only received the news of Lenin’s death while traveling to the Caucasian Riviera for a holiday, a fact which would certainly not have prevented Stalin from taking his place by the body.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 61
The absence of Trotsky was the absorbing question in that week of strain and sorrow to everyone in Moscow, whether Russian or foreign. It was a period of intense popular emotion and we all knew that to 9/10’s of the Russian masses Trotsky was second only to Lenin in popular esteem. He was said to be sick and traveling to a cure in the Caucasus, but nothing could condone his absence save the fact that he was so near death that it would have been fatal for him to make the return journey, which was not the case. Whatever may have been his reasons, Trotsky’s failure to pay his last tribute to the dead leader horrified the people of Moscow as a want of respect and good taste. It was, moreover, a political error of the first magnitude and dealt a fatal blow to Trotsky’s prestige, which his adversaries were quick to see and turn to good account. To this day I cannot imagine why he did not come. The night after the funeral I discussed the problem with my friend Rollin, the only French correspondent in Moscow at that time….
Rollin agreed with me that Trotsky’s absence was inexplicable. “From all I can learn,” he said, “Trotsky is not even dangerously ill, although I won’t accept the view that his illness is wholly, or mainly, diplomatic.” He paused and rubbed his high, broad forehead. “Yes,” he said, “it’s extraordinary–worse than any surrender. How pleased Stalin must be!”
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 99
Rollin continues, “As a matter of personal respect to Lenin, Trotsky should have risen from his death-bed to be present; it was his duty and obligation, and there isn’t a man or woman in the whole country who doesn’t think so. It is a blunder that will cost him dearly. Think too of what he missed; if he had come to Moscow, he couldn’t have failed to be the central figure in the funeral ceremonies. No one would have dared to interfere with him; he would have stolen the show, as you say in America, whether Stalin and the others liked it or not. But he did not come. Henceforth, I tell you, my money is on Stalin.”
“So his mine,” I said, “but it was already.”
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 100
Trotsky’s own explanation in his autobiography of his absence from Lenin’s funeral is thin and unconvincing, and does small credit either to his heart or head. He declares that a coded message from Stalin announcing Lenin’s death was delivered to him in his private car at the station in Tiflis on January 21st, that is to say a few hours after Lenin died. He continues, “I got the Kremlin on the direct wire. In answer to my inquiry I was told: ‘The funeral will be on Saturday; you cannot get back in time and so we advise you to continue your treatment.’ Accordingly, I had no choice. As a matter of fact, the funeral did not take place until Sunday and I could easily have reached Moscow by then. Incredible as it may appear, I was even deceived about the date of the funeral.”
This final accusation was as unjust as it was ungenerous. Lenin died on the afternoon of Monday, January 21st, and his funeral was originally set for Saturday, the 26, but the number of people who wished to see him was so great–thousands came from places more distant than Tiflis–that it was postponed 24 hours. The journey from Moscow to Tiflis by ordinary express takes three days and three nights–allow four or even five days and nights in 1924 in winter-time. Trotsky’s private car was in the station when he received the news on Monday night. Tiflis is one of the biggest railroad depots in south Russia and there is not the slightest doubt that the Red war-lord, whose authority was still unquestioned, could have ordered a special chain and been back in Moscow within 72 hours. Trotsky’s account continues theatrically, “The Tiflis comrades came to demand that I should write on Lenin’s death at once. But I knew only one urgent desire–and that was to be alone. I could not stretch my hand to lift the pen.” He then adds that he wrote a “few handwritten pages.” Strangest of all, there is no word in Trotsky’s recital of any surmise on his part, much less compunction, as to what people in Moscow might feel about his failure to return immediately. Any thought of the duty he owed to his dead comrade seems to have been as remote from his mind as perception of the political effects of his absence. Instead he writes of spending those days before the funeral lying on a balcony in the sun at Sukhumi, a twenty-four hour train journey from Tiflis which apparently caused him no physical distress–facing the glittering sea and the huge palms–and of his own “sensation of running a temperature” with which mingled, he says, thoughts of Lenin’s death. To make the picture complete Trotsky quotes a passage from his wife’s diary: “We arrived quite broken down; it was the first time we had seen Sukhumi. The mimosa were in full bloom, magnificent palms, camellias. In the dining room of the rest-house there were two portraits on the wall, one–draped in black–of Vladimir Ilich, the other of L. D. (Trotsky). We felt like taking the latter one down but thought it would be too demonstrative.” Later Madame Trotsky wrote: “Our friends were expecting L. D. to come to Moscow and thought he would cut short his trip in order to return, since no one imagined that Stalin’s telegram had cut off his return.” (This refers to the [alleged] message from the Kremlin saying that the funeral would be on Saturday and that Trotsky could not get back in time.) “I remember my son’s letter received at Sukhumi. He was terribly shocked by Lenin’s death and, though suffering from a cold with a temperature of 104, he went in his not very warm coat to the Hall of Columns to pay his last respects and waited, waited, and waited with impatience for our arrival. One could feel in his letter his bitter bewilderment and diffident reproach.” On these extracts from his wife’s diary Trotsky makes no comment at all.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 100
Such a combination of personal callousness and political insensitiveness does more to explain Trotsky’s downfall than 100 books by Stalin’s warmest supporters…. From that time onwards, although he had many devoted adherents in the Party, he had irretrievably “lost face” with the mass of the Russian people. His adversaries in Russia have not failed to question the genuineness of his illness at that time; they have claimed that it was sickness of spirit rather than sickness of body, that Trotsky had made an ambitious bid for Lenin’s succession and when he failed his wounded egotism turned on itself like a scorpion and poisoned him…. It is clear from his own account that it was not the state of his health which prevented him from taking part in Lenin’s funeral.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 102
The most decisive of such shifts in personnel was the replacement of Slansky, Trotsky’s right-hand man in the Commissariat of War, by Frunze, who later succeeded Trotsky as Commissar of War. This and other similar changes were approved by the Thirteenth Party Congress, in May, 1924, which Trotsky inexplicably failed to attend–a political blunder scarcely less disastrous than his failure to attend Lenin’s funeral.
The truth of the matter was that Trotsky was prostrate and broken, not by defeat at the Conference or, as he himself suggests, by illness, but by the sickening realization of what his absence from the funeral had done to him and his career…. I have already suggested that the cause of his illness was psychological as well as physical. In what torment he must have writhed when letter after letter, friend after friend, told him, albeit unwillingly, the plain and sorry truth. At first, I have been informed, he refused to believe that his tremendous popularity had not only faded but was changed in no small degree to resentment. Gradually, despite himself, he was forced to understand that this was the case, and, worse still, that he had missed the heaven-sent opportunity of confirming in the mind of the masses the position that he claimed of Lenin’s right hand and destined successor.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 108
On the day of Lenin’s death, Trotsky arrived in Tiflis en route to the resort city of Sukhumi. He learned of it the next day from a coded telegram signed by Stalin. In response to a cable query, Stalin advised him that the funeral would take place on Saturday (Jan. 26) and added that since there was not enough time for him to return for the funeral, the Politburo thought it best that he proceed to Sukhumi as planned. As it turned out, the funeral took place on Sunday. Trotsky subsequently accused Stalin of deliberately misinforming him in order to have him miss the funeral. The charge does not stand up to scrutiny. Lenin died on Monday and Trotsky had the information on Tuesday morning. It had taken him three days to travel from Moscow to Tiflis. Had he immediately turned around, he could have reached Moscow by Friday at the latest, in good time to attend the funeral even if it had been on Saturday. Instead, for reasons he never satisfactorily explained, he followed Stalin’s advice and went on to Sukhumi. There he basked in the Black Sea sun while Lenin’s body lay in state in wintry Moscow attended by the Old Guard. His absence caused widespread surprise and dismay.
[Footnote]: The decision to postpone Lenin’s funeral to Sunday was announced only on Friday, Jan. 25, so that it is by no means apparent that in cabling on Jan. 22 that it would take place on Saturday, Stalin was deliberately deceiving him, as Trotsky later claimed. Deutscher, in a not uncharacteristic instance of carelessness favorable to his hero, claims that Stalin advised Trotsky the funeral would be “the next day”. Stalin’s second cable stated that the funeral would be on Saturday, i.e., not the “next” day but in four days.
Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1993, p. 487
In any case, his [Trotsky] subsequent explanation that he was misled by Stalin as to the date of the funeral and that he could not possibly make it back to Moscow on time does not hold water….
[Footnote]: He [Trotsky] alleges being told on January 22 that it would be on January 26 (and not, as Deutscher states, on the next day), while it actually took place on January 27. Even so, only three days by regular train separated Tiflis from Moscow.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 235
At 6:50 p.m. on Monday 21 January 1924, Lenin died.
Stalin notified all regional and republican Party committees of Lenin’s death, and called for immediate steps to maintain order and prevent panic. Among his numerous other chores, Stalin sent a coded cable to Tiflis: “Tell Comrade Trotsky that on 21 January at 6:50 p.m. Comrade Lenin died suddenly. Death was caused by paralysis of the respiratory center. Funeral Saturday 26 January 1924.”
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Lenin: A New Biography. New York: Free Press, 1994, p. 435-436
There is no persuasive evidence that Stalin was busy plotting to keep Trotsky, away from the funeral. In his autobiography, Trotsky says that he wired ‘the Kremlin’ and that ‘the conspirators’ falsely told him that the funeral would be on the 26th, which would not permit Trotsky to return in time from his sick-leave in Georgia. No substantiating documents have turned up in Trotsky’s archive, although one might expect that he would have taken some pains to preserve such a communication. Even if true, the report does not mention Stalin by name, and tends to inculcate other comrades. Stalin’s office was not in the Kremlin at this time, and if Trotsky had contacted Lenin’s office, the office of the Sovnarkom, which was in the Kremlin, he would not have been dealing with Stalin. In any case, it was a remarkable political error on Trotsky’s part not to make every effort to get the date of the funeral changed or to attempt to get back to Moscow. After all, the narkom of the armed forces could commandeer special trains or even aircraft.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 86
STALIN VOLUNTEERS TO RESIGN AFTER LENIN’S CRITICISM
So young Joseph — Soso, they called him….
Lenin criticized Stalin. Stalin told this himself three years ago in open Congress of the Communist Party, and said quietly: “I told you then and I repeated now, that I am ready to retire if you wish.”
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 168
When Stalin came to speak [before the Central Committee in October 1927] he declared that he had twice offered his resignation as General Secretary, but that the Party had rejected it on both occasions.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 96
When Lenin’s testament became public property through having been spread furtively by word-of-mouth, Stalin submitted his resignation,…
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 95
For nearly a year while he lived Lenin did nothing with his statement and it was only after his death that it was presented to the Party. When it was presented, Stalin offered his resignation but the Party, including Trotsky, would not accept it.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 25
Stalin consequently offered to resign but the Central Committee refused to accept his resignation.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 49
It must have come as a relief for him [Stalin] when it was decided that the Congress would be bypassed and the notes would not be published. Nevertheless, when the newly elected Central Committee met, he offered his resignation. He was probably confident that those he had carefully selected for election would not accept it. In any event the committee, including Trotsky, voted unanimously not to accept his resignation.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 197
Right from the first session of the Central Committee, after the 13th Congress, I asked to be released from the obligations of the General Secretaryship. The Congress itself examined the question. Each delegation examined the question, and every delegation, including Trotsky, Kamenev and Zinoviev, voted unanimously in favor of Stalin remaining at his post. What could I do then? Abandon my post? Such a thing is not in my character…. At the end of one year I again asked to be set free and I was again forced to remain at my post. What could I do then?
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 244
[In 1927 Stalin stated], I asked the first plenary session of the Central Committee right after the Thirteenth Congress to relieve me of my duties as secretary-general. The congress discussed the question. Each delegation discussed the question. And unanimously they all, including Trotsky, Kamenev, and Zinoviev, made it binding upon Stalin to remain in his post. What could I do? Run away from the post? This is not in my character. I never ran away from any post and I have no right to run away. That would be desertion. I do not regard myself as a free man, and I obey party orders. A year later I again submitted my resignation, but again I was bound to remain. What could I do?
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 281
It is said that in that “will” Comrade Lenin suggested to the congress that in view of Stalin’s “rudeness” it should consider the question of putting another comrade in Stalin’s place as General Secretary. That is quite true. Yes, comrades, I am rude to those who grossly and perfidiously wreck and split the Party. I have never concealed this and do not conceal it now. Perhaps some mildness is needed in the treatment of splitters, but I am a bad hand at that. At the very first meeting of the plenum of the Central Committee after the 13th Congress I asked the plenum of the Central Committee to release me from my duties as General Secretary. The congress itself discussed this question. It was discussed by each delegation separately, and all the delegations unanimously, including Trotsky, Kamenev and Zinoviev, obliged Stalin to remain at his post.
What could I do? Desert my post? That is not in my nature; I have never deserted any post, and I have no right to do so, for that would be desertion. As I have already said before, I am not a free agent, and when the Party imposes an obligation upon me, I must obey.
A year later I again put in a request to the plenum to release me, but I was again obliged to remain at my post.
What else could I do?
As regards publishing the “will,” the congress decided not to publish it, since it was addressed to the congress and was not intended for publication….
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 10, p. 180-181
After the congress [May 1924], when the leading bodies of the party were being constituted, Stalin, referring to Lenin’s testament, demonstratively declined to accept the post of general secretary. But Zinoviev and Kamenev, and after them the majority of the central committee members, persuaded him to withdraw his resignation….
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 85
The United Opposition suffered total organizational and ideological defeat at the 15th Party Congress. At the very first Central Committee plenum after that Congress, Stalin offered to resign as general secretary…. Addressing the Central Committee, he said:
“I think that until recently there were circumstances that put the party in the position of needing me in this post as a person who was fairly rough in his dealings, to constitute a certain antidote to the opposition…. Now the opposition has not only been smashed; it has been expelled from the party. And still we have the recommendation of Lenin, which in my opinion ought to be put into effect. Therefore I ask the plenum to relieve me of the post of general secretary. I assure you, comrades, that from this the party only stands to gain.”
At Stalin’s insistence this proposal was put to a vote. His resignation was rejected virtually unanimously (with one abstention).
The noisy battle with the United Left Opposition had barely died down when a fight began with the so-called right deviation.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 183
When Stalin heard about Lenin’s letter, he announced his resignation. Had it been accepted, things might well have been different. He had made the right decision, as any Bolshevik in his position ought to have done, but it was not a determined act. As a matter of fact, he twice offered his resignation in the 1920s. The second time, after the 15th Congress in December 1927, he behaved more categorically. The Trotskyite-Zinovievite Opposition had been defeated and the Congress noted this formally. At the first plenum after the congress, Stalin submitted a request to the Central Committee:
“I think recent circumstances have forced the party to have me in this post, as someone severe enough to provide the antidote to the opposition. Now the opposition has been defeated and expelled from the party. We have Lenin’s instructions moreover and I think it is now time to carry them out. I therefore request the plenum to release me from the post of General Secretary. I assure you, comrades, the party can only gain from this.”
By this time, however, his authority had risen and he was seen in the party as the man who had fought for its unity and who had come out against various factionalists. His resignation was again rejected.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 93
Lenin’s Letter disappeared from the party’s view for decades. It was not published in Leninskii sbornik (‘Lenin Miscellany’), despite Stalin’s promise to do so. To be sure, the Letter did surface a few times in the 1920s in connection with the internal party struggle. It was even published in Bulletin No. 30 of the 15th Party Congress (printrun 10,000), stamped ‘for party members only’, and was distributed to provincial committees, Communist factions of the trade unions central committee, and part of it was printed in Pravda on November 2, 1927.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 96
The Committee decided that the Testament should not be read to the Congress (nor be published), and it was merely read to closed meetings of delegations from each province, with the comments of the Committee to the effect that Lenin had been ill and Stalin had proved satisfactory. Stalin submitted his resignation as General Secretary, which was unanimously rejected.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 111
The 13th Congress of the Party took place in June, 1924 and shortly afterwards at a plenary session of the Central Committee; Stalin begged to be relieved of his duties. Trotsky, Kamenev, and Zinoviev and all the delegates of the local parties asked him to remain. Thus he remained by the will of the Party. Next year Stalin repeated this gesture, knowing full well that he would not be taken at his word.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 93
On the basis of Lenin’s testament he [Stalin] handed in his resignation but was again elected as head of the Party….
Ludwig, Emil. Leaders of Europe. London: I. Nicholson and Watson Ltd., 1934, p. 365
At the first Central Committee plenum after the 15th Congress, evidently in order to free his hands for the next stage of the struggle, Stalin unexpectedly asked to be relieved of his duties in the Party leadership:
“I believe that until recently there were conditions confronting the party which made it necessary for me to be in this post [i.e., that of general secretary]–a man who tended to be rather blunt as a kind of anecdote to the Opposition. But now these conditions have disappeared…. Now the Opposition has not only been defeated but also expelled from the Party. And we do have the instructions of Lenin, which in my view must be put into effect. Therefore I ask the Plenum to relieve me of the post of general secretary, I assure you, comrades, the Party will only gain.”
At Stalin’s insistence this proposal was put to a vote, and it was rejected unanimously (with one abstention).
Medvedev, Roy. On Stalin and Stalinism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979, p. 59
At the First Central Committee Plenum after the 15th Congress Stalin offered to resign as general secretary. Addressing the joint meeting, he said:
“I think that until recently there were circumstances that put the party in the position of needing me in this post as a person who was fairly rough in his dealings, to constitute a certain antidote to the opposition…. Now the opposition has not only been smashed, it has been expelled from the party. And still we have the recommendation of Lenin, which in my opinion ought to be put into effect. Therefore I ask the Plenum to relieve me of the post of general secretary. I assure you, comrades, that from this the party only stands to gain.”
Stalin insisted that his proposal should be put to the Plenum. As he well knew it would be, his resignation was rejected by a vote that was unanimous except for one abstention. At a single blow, Stalin had buried Lenin’s Testament and secured an overwhelming vote of confidence to justify any measures he might now take.
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 205
Following the 1924 13th Congress, Stalin offered his resignation to the Central Committee. But it was almost a foregone conclusion that it would be rejected. For Zinoviev and Kamenev, Stalin was still an indispensable ally: Who would keep Trotsky and the Oppositionists in check? Trotsky did not want Stalin out since the job might go to a follower of Zinoviev-Kamenev. Other members kept their peace. And so Stalin was confirmed.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; the Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 239
[At the 13th Congress in May 1924] Stalin nonchalantly offered to resign his post in conformity with the testament.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 237
His health, too, was poor. Feeling humiliated, Stalin followed his usual course: he requested release from his duties. In a letter to the Central Committee on 19 Aug 1924 he pleaded that “honorable and sincere” work with Zinoviev and Kamenev was no longer possible. What he needed, he claimed, was a period of convalescence. But he also asked the Central committee to remove his name from the Politburo, Orgbureau, and Secretariat:…
“When the time [of convalescence] is at an end, I ask to be assigned either Turukhansk or Yakutsk Province or somewhere abroad in some unobtrusive posting….
He would be going back to Turukhansk as an ordinary provincial militant and not as the Central Committee leader he had been in 1913. Stalin was requesting a more severe demotion than even the Testament had specified.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 223-224
After all that had taken place during the preceding months, the Testament could not have been a surprise to Stalin. Nevertheless he took it as a cruel blow.
Trotsky, Leon. Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 375
TROTSKY COULD NOT FACE HIS DROP IN POPULARITY FOLLOWING LENIN’S FUNERAL
The truth of the matter was that Trotsky was prostrate and broken, not by “the smashing defeat” or even, as he himself suggests, by illness, but by the sickening realization of what his absence from Lenin’s funeral had done to him and his career. They say that Hell is paved with good intentions, but the white-hot plowshares of opportunities missed and advantages lost make cruel treading for ambitious feet. Trotsky lay on his balcony in Sukhumi facing the sun and the sea…reading letters or receiving friends. Little comfort either brought him and no good medicine for distress of soul. I have already suggested that the cause of his illness was psychological as well as physical. In what torment Trotsky must have writhed when letter after letter, friend after friend, told him, albeit unwittingly, the plain and sorry truth. At first, I have been informed, he refused to believe that his tremendous popularity had not only faded but was changed in no small degree to resentment….
Duranty, Walter. I Write as I Please. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1935, p. 231-232
LENIN HATED POMP BUT AFTER HIS DEATH BECAME A CENTER OF SHOW
After his death Lenin, who had hated and ridiculed all ceremony, all pomp, all showmanship, , himself became the center of a display of Byzantinism.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 98
WHAT DOES THE TESTAMENT SAY
In the last few weeks of 1922, Lenin completed the letter to the party which is now generally known as the “Testament of Lenin.” The name conveys a wrong impression, it was in no sense a Will, for Lenin never regarded his position as something to be bequeathed to another, he knew that he occupied the President’s chair because of his abilities alone; it was his dearest wish that his successor should do likewise.
How wrong he was, how tragically optimistic, can be clearly seen from the fate of the Testament itself. The party leaders, each one of whom knew its contents, first decided not to publish it while its author was alive and later postponed publication indefinitely. Trotsky, who was later to make much of the “Testament,” concurred in this decision which was broken finally by accident. A copy had been received by a visitor to the USSR, the American left-wing journalist, Max Eastman, who promptly gave it worldwide publicity in the Press of the United States. Sad reflection that the last words of so great a leader should reach the Russian people from a back-stage newspapers scoop in New York.
In the testament, Lenin gave a brief characterization of the leading figures of the Party. Trotsky, brilliant but too diverse in his interests; Zinoviev and Kamenev, indecisive and untrustworthy in a crisis; Bukharin, clever but not a confirmed Marxist; Stalin also received his share of criticism as being “too rude” to fill the office of General Secretary to everybody’s satisfaction. In spite of this, Lenin’s rebuke to Stalin is the least severe of all; the faults of the others lay in fundamental weaknesses, Stalin was simply too brusque to smooth over the trivial personal frictions of his subordinates.
Stalin himself as always regarded Lenin’s reference to him as more of a compliment than otherwise. In an address to a later congress he repeated the words, adding: “Yes, comrades, I am rude to those who seek to weaken the Party by their activities and I shall continue to be rude to such people.”
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 60
I am rude towards those who traitorously break their word, who split and destroy the Party. I have never concealed it and I do not conceal it now.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 244
[In 1927 Stalin stated], “Yes, comrades, I am rude towards those who rudely and treacherously wreck and split our party,” Stalin continued. “I did not and do not conceal it.
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 281
When Comrade Molotov sent me that article (I was away at the time), I sent back a blunt and sharp criticism. Yes, comrades, I am straight-forward and blunt; that’s true, I don’t deny it.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 7, p. 385
Krupskaya handed Stalin a sealed envelope which bore the inscription in her husband’s writing “To be opened after my death.” Stalin guessed the envelope contained important instructions and called a meeting of the Politburo. He took advantage of Zinoviev’s suggestion that the letter should be opened immediately. This was done.
Lenin’s notes were not flattering to the majority of the Soviet leaders. Mekhlis, who was present and saw the Testament, has recorded the following:
“Zinoviev and Kamenev were described as ‘hole and corner politicians,’ Bukharin was ‘scholastic, not a Marxist, weak in dialectic, bookish and lacking in realism but sympathetic,’ Pyatakov was ‘a good administrator, but, like Bukharin, not fit for political leadership.’ Trotsky was ‘not a Bolshevik but this fact must not be held against him, just as one must not blame Zinoviev and Kamenev for their attitude in October, 1917.’ As for Stalin, the Old Man found no political fault in him. But–and his judgment must have been to some extent inspired by his retort to Krupskaya–‘he is inordinately coarse and brutal, and also capable of taking advantage of his power to settle personal disputes.’
Fishman and Hutton. The Private Life of Josif Stalin. London: W. H. Allen, 1962, p. 56
Zinoviev, who felt himself especially maligned, declared: “These notes have no political value. They must be put in the archives. That’s all they’re fit for.”
Because Lenin had criticized almost every single member of the Politburo, they all supported the suggestion.
Fishman and Hutton. The Private Life of Josif Stalin. London: W. H. Allen, 1962, p. 57
In his [Lenin] testament he made no choice of a successor but instead offended each of the leaders in turn.
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 88
“Friendship,” he [Stalin] said, “counts for nothing when the Party and its interests are at stake. I am extremely fond of Sylvester, and I am ready to offer him my personal apologies. But whenever he adopts an attitude that is contrary to the interests of the Party I shall oppose him with the same violence, the same energy. The absolute refusal to compromise is the most effective weapon in the revolutionary conflict. People may say that I’m rude and offensive; it’s all one to me. I shall continue to fight all those who threaten to destroy the Party.”
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 36
His Testament, written several days later, was patently an effort to offer his own frank opinion of the various candidates rather than to dictate his decision.
Trotsky, Leon. Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 357
TROTSKY REFUTES THE TESTAMENT
(Translated by the U.S. Editor from Bolshevik)
1925, no. 16:67-70
In a 1925 letter regarding Lenin’s testament Trotsky said, “Eastman proceeds to conclusions that are completely and utterly directed against our party and capable, if taken on faith, of discrediting the party and Soviet power.
…Where Eastman got his ridiculous information is completely unknown, but its absurdity strikes one immediately…. By the way, Eastman seems not to realize that his description of the Red Army also nourishes the completely rotten Menshevik legend about Bonapartism, praetorianism, and so on, for it is clear that an Army capable of “falling to pieces’ because of a change in individual leadership would not be a Communist or a proletarian army, but rather a Bonapartist and praetorian one.
Clearly erroneous and false assertions can be found in this book in no small number. We will discuss only the most important.
In several places in his book, Eastman says that the Central Committee “hid’ from the party a number of highly important documents that Lenin wrote in the last period of his life (letters on the national question, the so-called testament, and so forth); this cannot be termed anything other than a slander of the Central Committee of our party.
…After the onset of his illness, Vladimir Ilich turned more than once to the leading institutions of the party as well as to the Party Congress with proposals, letters, and so on. It goes without saying that all these letters and proposals came to the attention of the addressees and to the knowledge of the delegates of the 13th Party Congress…. Vladimir ilich did not leave any “testament,’ and the character of his relation to the party, not to mention the character of the party itself, excludes the possibility of such a “testament….’ The 13th Congress gave this letter, like all the others, it’s close attention and drew the conclusions appropriate to the circumstances of the moment. Any talk of a hidden or violated “testament’ is a spiteful invention aimed against the real will of Vladimir ilich and the interest of the party he created.
Just as false is Eastman’s assertion that the Central Committee wanted to keep under wraps (that is, not publish) Lenin’s article about the Worker-Peasant Inspection…. Since Comrade Kuibyshev also signed this letter…another of Eastman’s false assertions is also refuted: the allegation that Comrade Kuibyshev was appointed to head the Worker-Peasant Inspection as an “opponent’ of Lenin’s organizational plan.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 244
STALIN REPLIES TO THE TESTAMENT
Stalin knew that Lenin’s last words against him were being repeated throughout the country. Instead of repressing them, he was clever enough to repeat them with his own coloring. He said to the Congress:
“Yes, comrades, it is true that I am a gruff sort of fellow. I do not deny it….
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 99
But in 1927 the question [of the last testament] was raised in the Central Committee. It had to be admitted that such a document really existed. In a speech at a joint plenum of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission, after reading aloud a section of Lenin’s “Letter to the Congress,” Stalin stated: “Yes, I am rude, comrades, toward those who are rudely and treacherously trying to destroy the party. I have not and I do not hide this.”
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 86
Stalin stated, “It is said that in his testament Lenin suggested that, in view of Stalin’s ‘rudeness’, the Congress should consider replacing him as General Secretary with someone else. That is absolutely true. Yes, comrades, I am rude towards those who rudely and treacherously destroy and split the party. I have never hidden this, nor do I now. Maybe a certain gentleness is required towards the splitters. But it is not in me to be like that. At the very first session of the Central Committee plenum following the 13th Congress, I asked the plenum to release me from the duties of General Secretary. The congress itself had debated this question. All the delegates including Trotsky, Kamenev, and Zinoviev, unanimously obliged Stalin to remain at his post. What was I supposed to do? Run away from the job? That is not in my nature. I have never run away from a job, nor did I have the right to do so, as it would have amounted to desertion. A year later, I again asked the plenum to release me, and again I was compelled to remain at my post. What more could I do?
It is significant that the Testament contains not one word, not a hint about Stalin’s mistakes. It speaks only of Stalin’s rudeness. But rudeness is not, nor can it be, a shortcoming of Stalin’s political line or his positions.”
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 139
Now the oppositionists– too late for it to do them any good–brought up Lenin’s complaint that Stalin was too rude. Stalin with his overwhelming majority was now in a position to shrug off the accusation. Yes, he admitted, Lenin had indeed said this. And he read out the passage from the Testament about his rudeness, and other faults. He emphasized that the decision not to publish it had been unanimous, and on the essentials said, ‘Yes, comrades, I am rude towards those who rudely and treacherously break their word, who split and destroy the party.’
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 138
He [Stalin] had a violent argument with the founder of the Caucasian Social Democracy. His expulsion was demanded. Koba defended himself:
“Friendship counts for nothing when the Party and its interests are at stake,” he declared. “I am ready to offer my personal apologies, but whenever he adopts an attitude contrary to the interests of the Party I shall oppose him with the same violence and the same energy. The absolute refusal to compromise is the most effective weapon in revolutionary conflict. People may say I’m rude and offensive but that is nothing to me. I shall continue to fight all those who threaten to destroy the Party.”
Fishman and Hutton. The Private Life of Josif Stalin. London: W. H. Allen, 1962, p. 22
Obviously, talk about the Party concealing these documents is infamous slander. Among these documents are letters from Lenin urging the necessity of expelling Zinoviev and Kamenev from the Party. The Bolshevik Party, the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party, have never feared the truth. The strength of the Bolshevik Party lies precisely in the fact that it does not fear the truth and looks the truth straight in the face.
The opposition is trying to use Lenin’s “will” as a trump card; but it is enough to read this “will” to see that it is not a trump card for them at all. On the contrary, Lenin’s “will” is fatal to the present leaders of the opposition.
Indeed, it is a fact that in his “will” Lenin accuses Trotsky of being guilty of “non-Bolshevism” and, as regards the mistake Kamenev and Zinoviev made during October, he says that that mistake was not “accidental.” What does that mean? It means that Trotsky, who suffers from “non-Bolshevism,” and Kamenev and Zinoviev, whose mistakes are not “accidental” and can and certainly will be repeated, cannot be politically trusted.
It is characteristic that there is not a word, not a hint in the “will” about Stalin having made mistakes. It refers only to Stalin’s rudeness. But rudeness is not and cannot be counted as a defect in Stalin’s political line or position.
Here is the relevant passage in the “will”:
“I shall not go on to characterize the personal qualities of the other members of the Central Committee. I shall merely remind you that the October episode with Zinoviev and Kamenev was, of course, not accidental, but that they can be blamed for it personally as little as Trotsky can be blamed for his non-Bolshevism.”
Clear, one would think.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 10, p. 182
STALIN VOLUNTEERED TO RESIGN SEVERAL TIMES
They [Lenin and Stalin] were very close in Lenin’s final days. Probably it was only Stalin’s apartment that Lenin visited. Several times Stalin sought to resign from the post of general secretary, but each time his request was denied by the Central Committee of the party. The struggle raged, and it was necessary that Stalin remain in that position.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 116
CHUEV: Avtorkhanov writes that after the 19th Congress, at the Presidium of the Central Committee, Stalin asked to be relieved of the responsibilities of General Secretary….
MOLOTOV: Correct. That did occur.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 234
[In a footnote] After the 19th party congress in October, 1952, he twice informed the Central Committee that he wished to retire. It was probably because he was ill. In any case the fact that he wanted to retire is known to everyone who belonged to the Central Committee at that time.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 206
…Lenin added, “He [Stalin] is too avid for power and his ambition is dangerous.” Stalin repeated this himself in open Congress of the Communist Party, and said quietly: “I told you then I repeat it now, that I am ready to retire if you wish it.”
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 170
“A year later  I [Stalin] again put in a request to the plenum to release me, but I was again obliged to remain at my post.”
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 616
At the meeting of a group of party leaders in the Caucasus Zinoviev spoke of the need to guard against the Secretariat becoming too powerful. When Stalin learned of this speech he at once offered to resign. The offer was refused, for they could not manage without him.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 185
…Stalin’s criticism of Kamenev [at the central Committee plenum of January 1924] was condemned at a Politburo meeting as uncomradely and inaccurate about Kamenev’s true position. Stalin at once offered to resign. This was the second time he had done so as General Secretary, though it would not be the last. Again his offer was turned down, and by none other than Kamenev, supported by Zinoviev.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 106
Stalin reminded them that he had put in his resignation, and that all the delegates, Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev among them, had voted for him to remain as General Secretary. It was not in his character, he added, to abandon his post, so he had continued to serve.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 138
The [Nineteenth Party] Congress was more interesting on other grounds. Stalin made a short speech, later saying proudly that he was still up to the job. At the plenum of the new Central Committee which followed, he offered his resignation as General Secretary, saying he was too old and tired to hold both that post and chairmanship of the Council of Ministers. This… was rejected in a spate of fulsome appeals to stay on.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 307
According to his former interpreter, Pavlov, elected a member of the Central Committee at the Nineteenth Congress, my father at the end of 1952 had twice asked the new membership of the Committee to sanction his retirement. Every member, as one, said that it was impossible.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 393
[From Serge In Portrait of Stalin]: There was the man of steel, as he had called himself,…face to face with that corpse [his wife’s body]. It was about that time that he rose one day at the Politburo to tender his resignation to his colleagues. ‘Maybe I have, indeed, become an obstacle to the party’s unity. If so, comrades, I’m ready to efface myself….’ The members of the Politburo–the body had already been purged of its right-wing– glanced at one another in embarrassment…. Nobody stirred…. At last Molotov said: ‘Stop it, stop it. You have the party’s confidence….’ The incident was closed.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 334
When the Supreme Soviet met for the first time after the war, Stalin decided to teach Molotov and his followers a lesson. He submitted his own resignation and that of his entire Commissariat, to prove his power and popularity. He was certain he would be returned to office by an overwhelming majority vote, and he was not mistaken.
Fishman and Hutton. The Private Life of Josif Stalin. London: W. H. Allen, 1962, p. 168
It is a well-known fact, that Stalin had many times (starting with the 1920s) raised the question of resignation from the heavy workload of his responsibilities in the party and government. His requests were always not accepted and he was urged unanimously by all to stay in his position as head of the party and his post as the leader of the Soviet Union.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 7
Moreover, at the first organizational plenum of the Central Committee following the 19th Party Congress, Stalin unexpectedly asked to be relieved of his duties, pleading his advancing years. But the plenum…refused to accept Stalin’s resignation…. Members of the Central Committee seated in the first rows fell on their knees, imploring Stalin to remain at his post. Stalin agreed to do so, at the same time expressing his dissatisfaction with certain members of the old Politburo. But it was not Malenkov or Beria but Stalin himself who drew up the slate for election to the Central Committee Presidium, and it contained the names of almost all the members of the former Politburo (including those who had just been the objects of his critical remarks) along with a number of others who until then had not been influential in the Party in any way.
Medvedev, Roy. On Stalin and Stalinism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979, p. 157
Zinoviev called an informal meeting of a number of colleagues on holiday, in the conspiratorial setting of a cave near the Caucasian spa of Kislovodsk, and secured agreement to a plan to curb Stalin’s powers.
When the letter setting out their proposals reached Stalin, he reacted by going to Kislovodsk in person and proposing that Zinoviev, Trotsky, and Bukharin as members of the Politburo should be given seats on the Orgburo and see the “Stalin machine” from the inside. At the same time, he offered to resign: “If the comrades were to persist in their plan, I was prepared to clear out without any fuss and without any discussion, be it open or secret.” Zinoviev, however, took advantage of Stalin’s offer to attend Orgburo meetings only once or twice, while Trotsky and Bukharin failed to put in an appearance at all. As to his offer of resignation, Stalin well knew that, if he did reside, it would leave the way clear for Trotsky to claim the succession to Lenin, a prospect that was quite enough to stop Zinoviev and company from pressing their differences with him further.
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 128
[In 1952] Stalin unexpectedly asked the Plenum to accept his resignation as general secretary, citing his age and the disloyalty of Molotov, Mikoyan, and several others. Whether this was meant to be taken seriously or not, the Plenum refused and begged him to stay. Having agreed, he then produced a paper out of his pocket and read out a list of the new members he proposed for the new Presidium, which was accepted without comment. The list included 10 of the 11 members of the existing Politburo, but an even larger number of younger and less well-known figures.
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 964
On 15 March, 1946, at the time of the first meeting of the Supreme Council after the war, a sensational item of news was broadcast throughout the world. Stalin had presented his resignation, and that of his entire ministry. But a few hours later he was restored to office; and the brief excitement of the foreign commentators abated.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 400
Just occasionally he allowed his resentment to show. In November 1919 he tried to resign his job as Chairman of the Revolutionary-Military Council of the Southern Front. Lenin, alarmed, rushed to get a Politburo decision to implore him to reconsider. Stalin was too useful to be discarded.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 174
On 27 Dec 1926 he [Stalin] wrote to Sovnarkom Chairman Rykov saying: “I ask you to release me from the post of Central Committee General Secretary. I affirm that I can no longer work at this post, that I’m in no condition to work any longer at this post.” He made a similar attempt at resignation on 19 Dec 1927.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 247
According to Kaganovich, he [Stalin] also expressed a wish to retire. Molotov was his intended replacement; “Let Vyacheslav do the work.” This caused consternation: Kaganovich did not like the prospect of yielding to Molotov.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 573
STALIN–“Comrade Molotov–the most dedicated to our cause. He should give his life for the cause of the party.”
MOLOTOV–Coming to the speaker’s tribune completely admits his mistakes before the Central Committee, but he stated that he is and will always be a faithful disciple of Stalin.
STALIN–(interrupting Molotov). This is nonsense. I have no students at all. We are all students of the great Lenin.
VOICE FROM THE FLOOR–We need to elect Comrade Stalin as the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR.
STALIN–No! I am asking that you relieve me of the two posts!
Speech by Stalin at the Plenum of the Central Committee, CPSU, October 16, 1952.
WHY STALIN AND KRUPSKAYA ARGUED AND LENIN’S HEALTH CARE
MOLOTOV: …My attitude toward Krupskaya was more or less positive in our personal relations. But Stalin regarded her unfavorably.
CHUEV: He had reasons. She made a poor showing at the 14th Party Congress.
MOLOTOV: Very bad. She turned out to be a bad communist. She didn’t know what the devil she was doing.
CHUEV: Anyway, what caused the conflict between Stalin and Krupskaya?
MOLOTOV: Krupskaya acted badly after Lenin’s death. She supported Zinoviev and obviously was confused by Zinoviev’s line.
Doctors forbade visits to Lenin during his illness, once his condition grew worse. But Krupskaya allowed them. And this brought on the conflict between Krupskaya and Stalin. Stalin supported the Central Committee’s decision not to let any visitors see Lenin. Stalin was right in this case.
What Lenin wrote about Stalin’s rudeness was not without Krupskaya’s influence. She disliked Stalin because he had treated her quite tactlessly. Stalin implemented the decision of the secretariat and did not permit Zinoviev and Kamenev to visit Lenin once this was prohibited by the doctors. Zinoviev and Kamenev complained to Krupskaya. Outraged, she told off Stalin. He responded, “Lenin should not have visitors.” Krupskaya responded by saying, “But Lenin himself wants it!” Stalin then replied: “If the Central Committee says so, we might not let you see him either.”
Stalin was irritated: “Why should I get up on my hind legs for her? To sleep with Lenin does not necessarily mean to understand Leninism!”
Stalin told me something like this: “Just because she uses the same bathroom as Lenin, do I have to appreciate and respect her as if she were Lenin?”
He was too coarse and rude.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 132
Krupskaya had a big grudge against Stalin. But he had a grudge against her, too, because Lenin’s signature to his testament was supposedly affixed under Krupskaya’s influence. Or so Stalin believed.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 135
On December 18, 1922, the Central Committee made Stalin responsible for his medical supervision.
On Dec. 22, Stalin learned that Lenin had just written to Trotsky congratulating him on their victory over the trade monopoly. Stalin telephoned Lenin’s wife, Krupskaya, and abused her in terms both vulgar and violent for having let Lenin write in his state of health…. Stalin had threatened to take her before the Party Control Commission, and she said she had no doubt that if it came to that she would be unanimously supported there,…
Lenin had another stroke that very day (Dec. 22), but over the next two days recovered enough to refuse treatment unless he was allowed to dictate some notes. The Politburo granted this, and the next few days were spent in writing what came to be called his Testament.
In this well-known document, suppressed for 33 years,…
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 99
He [Lenin] now learned of Stalin’s violent attack on Krupskaya, and he wrote Stalin as follows (with copies to Kamenev and Zinoviev):
‘Very respectable comrade Stalin,
You allowed yourself to be so ill-mannered as to call my wife on the telephone and to abuse her. She has agreed to forget what you said. Nevertheless she has told Zinoviev and Kamenev about the incident. I have no intention of forgetting what has been done against me, and it goes without saying that what was done against my wife I also consider to have been directed against myself. Consequently, I must ask you to consider whether you would be inclined to withdraw what you said and to apologize, or whether you prefer to break off relations between us.
Respectfully yours, Lenin
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 103
One of Lenin’s secretaries, Maria Volodicheva, gave Stalin the letter personally. He remained calm and said slowly, ‘It is not Lenin speaking, it is his illness. I’m not a doctor. I’m a politician. I’m Stalin. If my wife, a member of the party, acted wrongly and they punished her, I would not assume the right to interfere in the matter. But Krupskaya is a party member. If Lenin insists I am ready to apologize to Krupskaya for rudeness.’ Volodicheva returned with the oral apology.
Stalin immediately wrote a reply (which, like some of the rest of the information about the episode, has only just been published in the Soviet Union). In effect, he brazened it out. He said he had spoken to Krupskaya ‘approximately as follows, “The doctors forbid giving Lenin political information, believing this regime the best way of treating him, but you Nadezhda Konstantinovna, it seems, have broken this regime. Do not play with Ilyich’s health,”‘ and so on. This could not, he said, be regarded as rude, impermissible, or directed ‘against’ Lenin. He had done his duty, though there seemed to have been a misunderstanding. If ‘to preserve “relationships” I have to “withdraw” the words mentioned above, I can withdraw them, but I cannot understand in this business, where my “guilt” is, and what exactly is wanted of me.’
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 103
The ambiguity of the situation was further increased by the fact that the man chosen to make sure the doctors’ orders were scrupulously carried out was none other than Stalin. The actual orders were given by the doctors, but in close consultation with the supervisor [Stalin] appointed by the Central Committee. Stalin was officially instructed to keep himself informed of everything that happened at Lenin’s bedside. He applied himself zealously to the task.
Lewin, Moshe. Lenin’s Last Struggle. New York: Pantheon Books. C1968, p. 70
Lenin’s sister Maria described that occasion in her notes: “Stalin called her [Krupskaya] on the phone and, apparently counting on it not getting to Lenin, started telling her, in a pretty sharp way, that she shouldn’t talk business with Lenin, or he’d drag her before the Party’s Control Commission. Krupskaya was terribly upset by the conversation; she was quite beside herself, sobbing and rolling on the floor and so on.”
Lenin was up in arms when he heard about this incident. Ignoring Krupskaya’s entreaties, apparently that day he dictated a letter which indicated exactly what he thought about Stalin. The letter, which opens with an uncomradely formal address, was marked “Top secret” and “Personal,” but copies were sent to Kamenev and Zinoviev.
Respected Comrade Stalin,
You had the gall to call my wife to the telephone and abuse her. Although she agreed to forget what was said, she nevertheless told Zinoviev and Kamenev…. I have no intention of forgetting what has been done against me, as it goes without saying that what was done against my wife was done against me. Therefore I must ask you to consider whether you are prepared to take back what you said and apologize, or whether you would rather break off relations between us.
Five weeks ago I had a conversation with Comrade Nadejda Konstantinova, whom I regard not only as your wife but as my old Party comrade, and I said roughly the following to her (on the telephone): “the doctors have forbidden [us] to give Ilich political information, as they regard this as the most important way of curing him. It turns out, Krupskaya, that you are not observing this regimen. We must not play with Ilich’s life,” and so on. I do not regard anything I said as crude or impermissible, or aimed against you, for I had no other purpose than your earliest recovery. Moreover, I regarded it as my duty to see that the regimen was observed. My conversation with Krupskaya confirmed that my suspicions were groundless, nor could they be otherwise. Still, if you think that to maintain our “relations” I should take my words back, then I can take them back, though I refuse to understand what the problem was, where my fault lay and what it is people want of me.”
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Lenin: A New Biography. New York: Free Press, 1994, p. 422-423
A recent discovery has produced a note from Stalin to Lenin in which he wrote: “If you consider that I must take back my words, I can take them back, but I fail to understand what the issue is, where my guilt is.”
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 123
To the Joint Plenum of the CC and CCC
From: Maria Ulyanova
The oppositional minority in the CC in the recent period has carried out a systematic attack on Comrade Stalin not even stopping at affirming as though there had been a rupture between Lenin and Stalin in the last months of the life of V.I. With the objective of re-establishing the truth I consider it my obligation to inform comrades briefly about the relations of Lenin towards Stalin in the period of the illness of V.I. (I am not here concerned with the period prior to his illness about which I have wide-ranging evidences of the most touching relations between V.I. and Stalin of which CC members know no less than I) when I was continually present with him and fulfilled a number of charges.
Vladimir Ilyich really appreciated Stalin. For example, in the spring of 1922 when V. Ilyich had his first attack, and also at the time of his second attack in December 1922, he invited Stalin and addressed him with the most intimate tasks. The type of tasks with which one can address a person on whom one has total faith, whom you know as a dedicated revolutionist, and as a intimate comrade. Moreover Ilyich insisted, that he wanted to talk only with Stalin and nobody else. In general, in the entire period of his illness, till he had the opportunity to associate with his comrades, he invited comrade Stalin the maximum. And during the most serious period of the illness, he invited not a single member of the Politbureau except Stalin.
There was an incident between Lenin and Stalin which comrade Zinoviev mentions in his speech and which took place not long before Ilyich lost his power of speech (March, 1923) but it was completely personal and had nothing to do with politics. Comrade Zinoviev knew this very well and to quote it was absolutely unnecessary. This incident took place because on the demand of the doctors the Central Committee gave Stalin the charge of keeping a watch so that no political news reached Lenin during this period of serious illness. This was done so as not to upset him and so that his condition did not deteriorate, he (Stalin) even scolded his family for conveying this type of information. Ilyich, who accidentally came to know about this and who was also always worried about such a strong regime of protection, in turn scolded Stalin. Stalin apologized and with this the incident was settled. What is there to be said during this period, as I had indicated, if Lenin had not been so seriously ill then he would have reacted to the incident differently. There are documents regarding this incident and on the first demand from the Central Committee I can present them.
This way, I affirm that all the talk of the opposition about Lenin’s relation towards Stalin does not correspond to reality. These relations were most intimate and friendly and remained so.
M.I. Ulyanova on Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s relation towards J. Stalin:
In my application to the Central Committee plenum I wrote that V. Ilyich appreciated Stalin. This is of course right. Stalin is a major worker and a good organiser. But it is also without doubt, that in this application, I did not say the whole truth about Lenin’s attitude towards Stalin. The aim of the application, which was written at the request of Bukharin and Stalin, was to refer to Ilyich’s relation towards him. This would have guarded him a little from the opposition attack. This speculation was based on the last letter by V. Ilyich to Stalin where the question of breaking this relationship was posed. The immediate reason for this was personal V. Ilyich’s outrage that Stalin allowed himself to be rude towards Nadezhda Konstantinovna. At that time it seemed to me that this very personal matter was used by Zinoviev, Kamenev and others for political objectives and the purpose of factionalism. Further weighing this fact with other statements of V. Ilyich, his political testament and also Stalin’s behaviour after Lenin’s death, his “political’ line, I all the more started explaining to myself the real relation Lenin had with Stalin towards the end of his life. Even if briefly I think that it is my duty to talk about it.
V. Ilyich had a lot of control. He was very good in concealing. For whatever reasons whenever he thought it necessary he would not reveal his relations to other people .
He controlled himself even more in his relations towards the comrades with whom he worked. For him work was the first priority. He subjugated the personal in the interests of work. Never did the personal protrude or prevail.
A distinct example of this type of relation was the incident with Trotsky. In one Politbureau meeting Trotsky called Ilyich “a hooligan’. V. Ilyich turned as pale as chalk, but he controlled himself. “It seems some people are losing their nerves’. He said something like this in reply to Trotsky’s rudeness. This is what the comrades told me while retelling the incident. He never had any sympathy for Trotsky. This person had so many characteristics which made it extremely difficult to work with him in a collective fashion. But he was a great worker and a talented person and I repeat for V. Ilyich work was the first priority and that is why he tried to retain him for the job and tried to work with him jointly in the future .
In the summer of 1922, during the first illness of V. Ilyich, when I was staying with him constantly almost without absences, I was able to closely observe his relation with the comrades with whom he worked closely and with the members of the Politbureau.
By this time I have heard something about V. Ilyich’s dissatisfaction with Stalin. I was told that when V. Ilyich came to know about Martov’s illness, he requested Stalin to send him some money. In reply Stalin told him “I should spend money on the enemy of the workers! Find yourself another secretary for this’. V. Ilyich was very disappointed and angry with Stalin .
In the winter of 20-21, 21-22 V. Ilyich was feeling sick. He had headaches and was unable to work Lenin was deeply disturbed. I exactly do not know when, but somehow during this period V. Ilyich told Stalin that he would probably be stricken with paralysis and made Stalin promise that in this event he would help V. Ilyich to obtain potassium cyanide. Stalin promised. Why did he appeal to Stalin with this request? Because he knew him to be an extremely strong man devoid of any sentimentality. V. Ilyich had nobody else but Stalin to approach with this type of request.
In May 1922 after his first attack he appealed to Stalin with the same request. V. Ilyich had then decided that everything was finished for him and demanded that Stalin should be brought to him immediately. This request was so insistent that nobody could gainsay it. Stalin was with V. Ilyich within 5 minutes and not more. When Stalin came out he told Bukharin and me that V. Ilyich had asked him to obtain poison. The time had come to fulfil his earlier promise. Stalin promised. V. Ilyich and Stalin kissed each other and Stalin left the room.
But later on after discussing the matter together we decided that V. Ilyich’s spirits should be raised. Stalin returned to Lenin and told him that after talking it over with the doctors he was convinced that everything was not yet lost and therefore the time for fulfilling his promise had not come. V. Ilyich noticeably cheered up and agreed. He said to Stalin, “you are being cunning?’ In reply Stalin said “when did you ever know me to be cunning?’ They parted and did not see each other till V. Ilyich’s condition improved. He was not allowed to meet his comrades.
During this period Stalin was a more frequent visitor in comparison to others. He was the first to come to V. Ilyich. Ilyich met him amicably, joked, laughed and demanded that I should treat Stalin with wine and so on. In this and in other meetings they discussed Trotsky and from their talk in front of me it was clear that here Ilyich was with Stalin against Trotsky .
V. Ilyich was most annoyed with Stalin regarding the national, Caucasus question. This is known from his correspondence with Trotsky regarding this matter. It is clear that V. Ilyich was completely outraged with Stalin, Ordjonikidze and Dzerzhinsky. During the period of his further illness, this question would strongly torture him.
To this the other conflict was also added, and which was brought about by V. Ilyich’s letter to Stalin on 5.3.23 and which I am going to quote below. It was like this. The doctors insisted that V. Ilyich should not be informed anything about work. The maximum fear was of Nadezhda Konstantinovna discussing anything with V. Ilyich. She was so used to discussing everything with him that sometimes completely unintentionally and unwillingly she might blurt things out. The Politbureau gave Stalin the charge of keeping watch so that the doctors’ instructions were maintained. It seems, one day coming to know about certain conversations between N.K. and V.I., Stalin called her to the telephone and spoke to her quite sharply thinking this would not reach V. Ilyich. He warned her that she should not discuss work with V.I. or this may drag her to the Central Control Commission of the party. This discussion deeply disturbed N.K. She completely lost control of herself she sobbed and rolled on the floor. After a few days she told V.I. about this incident and added that they had already reconciled. Before this it seems Stalin had actually called her to smooth over the negative reaction his threat and warning had created upon her. She told Kamenev and Zinoviev that Stalin had shouted at her on the phone and it seems she mentioned the Caucasus matter.
Next morning Stalin invited me to V. Ilyich’s office. He looked upset and offended. He told me “I did not sleep the whole night. Who does Ilyich think I am, how he regards me, as towards a traitor, I love him with all my heart. Please, somehow tell him this.’ I felt sorry for Stalin. It seemed to me that he was sincerely distressed. Ilyich called me for something and in between I told him that the comrades were sending him regards “Ah’ objected V.I. “And Stalin has requested me to tell you, that he loves you’. Ilyich frowned and kept quiet. “Then what’ I asked “should I convey your greetings to him?’ “Convey them’ answered Ilyich quite coldly. But I continued “Volodia he is still the intelligent Stalin’. “He is absolutely not intelligent’ frowning Ilyich answered resolutely.
I did not continue the discussion and after a few days. V.I. came to know that Stalin had been rude with N. K. and Kamenev and Zinoviev knew about it. In the morning very distressed Lenin asked for the stenographer to be sent to him. Before this he asked whether N.K. had already left for Narkompros (People’s Commissariat of Enlightenment ed. R.D.) to which he received a positive answer. When Volodicheva came V.I. dictated the following letter to Stalin:
“Absolutely secret. Personal. Respected Comrade Stalin! You were rude enough to call my wife to the telephone and insult her. Even though she has expressed to you her willingness to forget the incident, but even then this fact came to be known through her by Zinoviev and Kamenev. I am not ready to forget so easily what has been done against me and what is done against my wife I consider as having been done against me. Therefore I ask you to inform me whether you are ready to take back what you said and apologise or whether you prefer to break off our relationship. With respect Lenin. Written by M.V. 5/III-23’.
V.I. asked Volodicheva to send it to Stalin without telling N.K. and to put a copy of the letter in a sealed envelope and give it to me.
After returning home and seeing V.I. distressed N.K. understood that something had happened. She requested Volidicheva not to send the letter. She would personally talk to Stalin and ask him to apologize. That is what N.K. is saying now, but I feel that she did not see this letter and it was sent to Stalin as V.I. had wanted. The reply of Stalin was not handed over immediately and then it was decided probably by the doctors and N.K. not to give it to V.I. as his condition had worsened. And so V.I. did not come to know about the reply of Stalin in which he apologised.
But howsoever irritated Lenin was with Stalin there is one thing I can say with complete conviction, his words that Stalin was “not at all intelligent’ were said without any irritation. This was his opinion about him decided and complex and which he told me. This opinion did not refute the fact that V.I. valued Stalin as a practical worker. He considered it absolutely essential that there should be some initial control over his ways and peculiarities, on the force of which V.I. considered that Stalin should be removed from the post of general secretary. He spoke about this very decisively in his political will, in his description of a group of comrades which he gave before his death. But these documents never reached the party. But about this some other time.
Letter of Joseph Stalin to Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, 7th March, 1923.
To Comrade. Lenin from Stalin
Five weeks ago I had a discussion with Nadezhda Konstantinovna whom I consider not only your wife, but also my senior party comrade. I told her on the telephone something very close to the following :
“The doctors have forbidden any political information to be given to Ilyich. They consider this routine the most effective method to cure him, whereas you Nadezhda Konstantinovna are violating this routine. To play with the life of Ilyich is not allowed’.
I do not think that these words can be seen as anything rude or impermissible directed “against’ you nor I did I proceed from any other purposes other than your quick recovery. Moreover, I think it my duty to see that this routine is maintained. My explanation to Nadezhda Konstantinovna confirms that there was nothing except a simple misunderstanding.
If you think that to maintain the “relationship’ I must “take back’ the above-mentioned words, then I can take them back but I do not understand where is my “fault’ and what exactly is wanted from me.
[Lenin’s letter and Stalin’s answer were kept in an official envelope in the department of administrative matters of Sovnarkom on which it was written “Letter from Lenin dated 5/III-23 (2 copies) and reply from Stalin not read by Lenin. Single copy’. Stalin’s reply was written on 7th March immediately after receiving Lenin’s letter from M.A. Volodicheva editor].
M.I. Ulyanova to the Presidium of the Joint Plenum of the CC and CCC of the RCP(b), 26th July, 1926
LENIN CRITICIZED ZINOVIEV AND BUKHARIN IN THE END
Zinoviev deviated from Lenin after 1925. Krupskaya also moved away from Lenin, but in truth she didn’t meddle in big politics.
So Lenin lived in such circumstances. And he was, after all, a man who could cut right through any obstacle. How irreconcilable he was with the right and the left! Bukharin and Zinoviev were closest to him, but he criticized them too, especially in the end.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 146
LENIN REALIZED STALIN AND TROTSKY WERE THE TWO MAIN LEADERS
CHUEV: Lenin attributed such dreadful qualities to everyone, without exception!
MOLOTOV: Certainly. But he gave very accurate descriptions. He could not come to run-of-the-mill conclusions. It was not without reason that Lenin distinguished Stalin and Trotsky as leaders, as the two who stood apart from the rest, as the most talented.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 148
MOLOTOV AGREES WITH LENIN’S TESTAMENT ON STALIN
I think Lenin was right in his evaluation of Stalin. I said it myself right after Lenin’s death, at the Politburo. I think Stalin remembered it because after Lenin’s death we got together at Zinoviev’s in the Kremlin, about five of us, including Stalin and me, and talked about the “testament.” Isaid I considered all of Lenin’s evaluation of Stalin to have been right. Stalin, of course, didn’t like this. Despite this we remained close for many years. I think he appreciated me because I spoke out about certain matters in a way others hypocritically avoided, and he saw that I addressed the matter of the “testament” forthrightly.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 212
THE TESTAMENT WAS NOT KEPT HIDDEN BY STALIN
During the 1927 conflicts, Trotsky brought up documents written by Lenin in his final illness which show that Lenin was attempting to oust Stalin as General Secretary of the Party. The most famous of these, Lenin’s so-called “Testament,” had been made known to delegates for the Thirteenth Congress of the Party in 1924….
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 49
Recalling the July-August 1927 plenum [at the October 1927 combined meeting of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission], Stalin regretted having dissuaded the comrades from expelling Trotsky and Zinoviev from the Central Committee immediately. ‘Maybe I was being too kind and made a mistake…’
As for dealing with Lenin’s ‘Letter to the Congress’, Stalin gave his own interpretation:
“It has been shown time and again, and no one is trying to hide anything, that Lenin’s Testament was addressed to the 13th Party Congress, that it was read out at the congress, that the Congress agreed unanimously not to publish it because, by the way, Lenin himself did not want or ask for it to be published.”
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 138
His handling of the plenum [the joint plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission in October 1927] was a masterpiece of persuasion. He reminded the Opposition that previously he had rejected calls for the expulsion of Trotsky and Zinoviev from the Central Committee. “Perhaps,” he suggested, “I overdid the “kindness’ and made a mistake.”
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 249
The evening before the congress, on May 21, 1924, there was an extraordinary plenum of the Central Committee, called to hear Lenin’s Testament.
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 75
… it is important to note that the Central Committee did not support Stalin’s battle to have the full correspondence openly published surrounding the “Lenin Testament.”
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 3
Stalin took up the challenge of the Lenin testament a month later, at the climax of the series of inquisitorial sessions. “The oppositionists have cried here that the Central Committee is ‘concealing’ the testament of Lenin. You know that this question has been discussed a number of times at our joint sessions. Again and again it has been proved that no one hides anything, that the testament of Lenin was addressed to the Thirteenth Congress, that it, the testament, was made public there, that the congress unanimously decided not to publish it. One of the reasons for this decision, among others, was that Lenin himself did not wish or demand it. And nevertheless the opposition has the audacity to declare that the Central Committee is ‘concealing’ the testament…. It is said that Lenin proposed the removal of Stalin. Yes, that it is altogether true.” And Stalin then proceeded to read the uncomplimentary part of Lenin’s last message relating to him!
Levine, Isaac Don. Stalin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, c1931, p. 280
LENIN’S ILLNESS WAS AFFECTING HIS MENTAL BALANCE
This and other incidents suggested that Lenin’s illness was affecting him mentally. He had become increasingly capricious and flew into rages over minor matters.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 168
STALIN IS DEEPLY HURT BY LENIN’S CRITICISM AT THE END
Stalin must have felt surprised and hurt by Lenin’s behavior during the last months. As yet he knew nothing of the Testament which was still held secret, but he had been made aware of Lenin’s personal hostility. He had served Lenin and the Bolshevik cause loyally for 20 years; he had worked closely with him as a member of the Central Committee for 10 years. On occasions he had expressed disagreement, and during the Civil War when they had been under unbearable pressures, he had shown bad temper, as had Trotsky and others. Lenin had uttered no recriminations. Their relationship had always been based on trust and devotion to the cause and he had never conspired to displace him or to undermine his authority. The reward for this loyalty was a vicious campaign to destroy his position in the party. Stalin can only have seen it as a terrible betrayal. Certainly he did not respond then or later with hostility or resentment. In fact his attitude towards Lenin was accurately expressed in his lecture to the Kremlin Military Academy on Jan. 28, 1924. Although carefully contrived to show him as the natural successor, this speech had laid stress on the qualities of the great leader, “the mountain eagle.” The Lenin who had turned on him had been an ill and dying man. Nevertheless, Stalin had a tenacious memory, and this betrayal by his old leader probably contributed to the cancerous growth of suspicion and distrust of others, which was to contort his outlook in the years to come.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 191
KRUPSKAYA BRINGS FORTH THE TESTAMENT AT THE LAST MINUTE TO DAMAGE STALIN
Stalin’s majority support in the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission and his control of the party apparatus made his position seem unchallengeable. But five days before the 13th Party Congress was to open, something happened which suddenly threatened his career. Krupskaya sent to Kamenev notes which Lenin had dictated between December 23rd, 1922, and January 23rd, 1923, with a covering letter explaining that she had suppressed the two notes, known as the “Testament,” because Lenin had expressed the “definite wish” that these notes should be submitted to the next Party Congress after his death…. Her reasons for holding them secret for so long were not stated, but in bringing them forward at this time she was clearly seeking to damage Stalin politically.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 195
ZINOVIEV & KAMENEV WANT TESTAMENT IGNORED SO STALIN IS IN POWER AGAINST TROTSKY
Zinoviev and Kamenev were both concerned to keep Stalin in office. He was their indispensable ally against Trotsky and the oppositionists. Zinoviev declared that, while they had all sworn to carry out Lenin’s wishes to the letter, they knew that his fears about their General Secretary had been baseless.
Trotsky recalled that during the discussion Stalin referred to the Lenin who had dictated these notes as “a sick man surrounded by womenfolk,” a barbed reference to Krupskaya, but he did not take an active part. Trotsky himself did not contribute to the discussion. Finally by 30 votes to 10 it was decided that the notes should not be published, but that their content should be conveyed to selected delegates to whom it should be explained that Lenin had been seriously ill at the time and misinformed by those around him.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 196
Kamenev opened the seance and read Lenin’s letter. There was silence. Stalin’s face was somber and strained. Following a scenario prepared in advance, Zinoviev took the floor right away: “Comrades, you all know that Lenin’s posthumous wishes, each word of Ilyich, is law for us. We have sworn more than once to accomplish what Lenin passed on to us. And you know perfectly well that we will do so. But we are happy to note that on one point it seems that Lenin’s fears were not justified. You have all witnessed our joint work during these past months and, just like me, you have been able to see with satisfaction that that which Ilyich feared has not happened. I speak of our general secretary and the dangers of scission within the Central Committee.” (I’ve given the sense of his presentation.)
…Everyone kept quiet. Zinoviev proposed that Stalin be re-elected general secretary. Trotsky kept silent also, but he showed his extreme disgust with the comedy by a vivid mimicry.
Kamenev, for his part, urged members to keep Stalin in the general secretaryship. Stalin continued to gaze out of the window, teeth clenched and features drawn. His career was at stake.
Because there was silence, Kamenev proposed to settle the matter by vote. Who favored leaving Stalin in as general secretary? Who was against? And who abstained? I looked down the rows, counting the votes and giving the totals to Kamenev. The majority voted in favor of Stalin, while the small Trotsky group voted against. There were some abstentions. I was busy counting the votes and didn’t notice who abstained, which I much regret.
In addition to leaving Stalin as general secretary, the plenum decided not to read Lenin’s Testament to the congress and not to distribute his text to the delegates. Instead, the heads of delegations were to convey it to their own delegates.
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 76
The Central Committee and senior delegates met on 22 May 1924 to acquaint themselves with Lenin’s will which had hitherto been in Krupskaya’s keeping. The reading of the will had the effect of a bolt from the blue. Those present listened in utter perplexity to the passage in which Lenin castigated Stalin’s rudeness and disloyalty and urged the party to remove him from the General Secretariat. Stalin seemed crushed. Once again his fortunes trembled in the balance. Amid all the worshipping of Lenin’s memory, amid the endless genuflexions and vows to “hold Lenin’s words sacred,” it seemed inconceivable that the party should disregard Lenin’s advice.
But once again Stalin was saved by the truthfulness of his future victims. Zinoviev and Kamenev, who held his fate in their hands, rushed to his rescue. They implored their comrades to leave him in his post. They used all their zeal and histrionic talents to persuade them that whatever Lenin held Stalin guilty of, the offense was not grave and that Stalin had made ample amends. Lenin’s word was sacred, Zinoviev exclaimed, but Lenin himself, if he could have witnessed, as they all had, Stalin’s sincere efforts to mend his ways, would not have urged the party to remove him….
All eyes were now fixed on Trotsky: would he rise, expose the farce, and demand that Lenin’s will be respected? He did not utter a word. He conveyed his contempt and disgust at the spectacle only through expressive grimaces and shoulder shrugging. He could not bring himself to speak out on a matter in which his own standing was so obviously involved. It was resolved to disregard Lenin’s advice on Stalin.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 137
The 13th Party Congress had arrived. Lenin’s “Letter to the Congress” was to be read there. On the eve of the Congress Krupskaya solemnly presented the Central Committee with certain sealed packets.
…Yaroslavsky recalled that “when these few pages written by Lenin were read to the members of the Central Committee the reaction was one of incomprehension and alarm.” It was true. The members of the Central Committee could not understand what Lenin wanted. Why was he abusing all the leaders, without suggesting any replacement? Why should Stalin be driven out of the Secretariat if all he could be reproached with was rudeness? Besides, they all knew that it was Lenin, not Stalin himself, who had “concentrated power” in the Gensek’s hands. It was all rather embarrassing because it seemed that the only reason for these attacks was that Lenin’s wife had been offended. That Stalin was terrified of this letter, that he was saved by Kamenev, and so on, is mere legend. Kamenev spoke for everyone when he said that “our dear Lenin’s sickness prevented him at times from being fair. And since Stalin has already confessed to the character faults noted by Lenin and will, of course, correct them, we should begin by accepting the possibility of leaving Stalin in the post of Secretary-General.” And so, out of concern for Lenin’s reputation, it was resolved that these “sickbed documents” should not be reproduced. They would be read to each delegation separately.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 216
BUKHARIN WAS PUT ON THE POLITBURO TO FILL LENIN’S VACANCY
Bukharin was elected to the Politburo to fill the vacancy left by Lenin.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 201
BUKHARIN GIVES THE MEMORIAL SPEECH ON LENIN’S DEATH
It is true that at the end of January 1929 Bukharin was asked to give the speech at the memorial meeting marking the fifth anniversary of Lenin’s death.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 200
SICK LENIN IS KEPT AWAY FROM EVERYONE
The Chronicle of his [Lenin] activities indicates that during 1923 he saw neither Trotsky, nor Stalin; not Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, or Rykov. All were kept away on his [Lenin] explicit orders.
Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1993, p. 475
BUDU SAYS LENIN’S BODY IN THE TOMB IS A FAKE
The talk continued. It was a lengthy conference, during which it was easy to see that my uncle attached great importance to the preservation of Lenin’s body.
Finally he said, “If it turns out to be absolutely impossible to preserve the body, we’ll have to substitute something for it. We will have to replace it by an artificial figure. It will have to be made of some special material, something stable, solid, and lifelike. It must be perfectly done.”
And this, in the end, was what was done. I learned afterward that the embalmed body of Lenin had been replaced by an artificial statute, made at Kazan by a group of sculptors selected by Beria. They produced a faithful reproduction of the body, which was then cremated. The ashes were placed in an urn, which was submerged in the Volga, near Ulyanovsk, formerly Simbirsk, where Lenin-Ulianov was born in 1870.
Thus the pilgrims who wait patiently at the mausoleum of Lenin to file by what they believe to be the body of the saint of Russian Communism are not gazing at Lenin’s body, but merely at a replica of it.
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 189
THE TESTAMENT IS CRITICAL OF TROTSKY AND TROTSKY FAILED LENIN
On the whole, the reservations made [in the Testament] about Trotsky must seem more serious when it comes to politics proper, and his “ability” to be an administrative executant rather more than a potential leader in his own right. It is only fair to add that it was to Trotsky that Lenin turned for support in his last attempts to influence policy; but Trotsky failed to carry out Lenin’s wishes.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 4
… Indeed, in his “Testament” Lenin chose to remind the party of Trotsky’s non-Bolshevik past, even though his tone was not accusatory. There may have been political intimacy between them, but not close friendship. Trotsky’s wife, Natalya Sedova, did not visit Krupskaya, and Trotsky, unlike Kamenev, Zinoviev, Bukharin, and Stalin, did not visit Lenin at home. Nor was he drawn to his sick leader’s bedside, where the others were frequently to be found.
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Lenin: A New Biography. New York : Free Press, 1994, p. 256
That paragraph [comparing Stalin with Trotsky in Lenin’s testament] is probably a genuine excerpt from Lenin’s letter. But there is another sentence which is admittedly an authentic postscript and which Stalin himself has quoted. It runs thus: “Stalin is too crude, and although this failing does not count for very much amongst us as Communists it will not be borne with in the business office of the General Secretary. Therefore I would suggest that we find a way to remove him from this position. These apparent trivialities can sometimes be of decisive significance.”
To this double-sided criticism I must add by way of comment a very important statement which I have on the authority of Radek. He said: “After Lenin’s death we, nineteen men of the Executive Committee, sat together and anxiously awaited the advice which our leader would give us from the tomb. Lenin’s widow had brought us the letter. Stalin read it aloud to us. As he did so, nobody made a sound. When it came to speak of Trotsky, the letter said: ‘His un-Bolshevik past is not an accident.’ All at once Trotsky interrupted the reading and asked: ‘What was that?’ The sentence was repeated. These were the only words that were spoken during that solemn hour.” It must have been a terrible moment for Trotsky. His heart must have stood still when he heard these six words, words which really decided his career. Lenin had not concealed his misgivings in regard to those two men whom he singled out as the most capable followers.
Ludwig, Emil. Leaders of Europe . London : I. Nicholson and Watson Ltd., 1934, p. 364
TESTAMENT HITS TROTSKY MUCH HARDER THAN STALIN
“Comrades Trotsky and Stalin are the two most able men in the present Central Committee,” read Kamenev. “Their rivalry might quite innocently lead to a split. Comrade Trotsky is perhaps the most talented of the leaders but he is too conceited. And then he is not a Bolshevik.”
This last statement proved fatal to Trotsky’s chances. Stalin got a punch on the nose, nothing more, but Trotsky got his in the solar plexus.
According to Maxim Gorky, Lenin thought highly of Trotsky’s organizing abilities. “And yet,” said he, “he isn’t one of us. With us but not of us. He is ambitious. There is something of Lassalle in him, something which isn’t good.”
Graham, Stephen. Stalin. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970, p. 91
In short, Trotsky emerges from the considerations of the “Testament” in a somewhat diminished position, mainly because he is not placed above Stalin and because his former non-Bolshevism, even though it cannot be held against him personally, is nonetheless mentioned.
… Trotsky’s non-Bolshevism had already gone against him in a number of disputes in which Lenin had had to exert his own prestige to defend him.
Lewin, Moshe. Lenin’s Last Struggle. New York: Pantheon Books. C1968, p. 82-83
TROTSKY DOES NOT DENY THERE IS A TESTAMENT
It must have been then that he [Lenin] formulated mentally the document that later became known as his “Will.”
Trotsky, Leon. My Life. Gloucester, Massachusetts: P. Smith, 1970, p. 478
This is the substance of the “Will.”
Trotsky, Leon. My Life. Gloucester, Massachusetts: P. Smith, 1970, p. 480
Like Moses on Mount Nebo, he viewed the promised land of the world proletariat from afar and during intervals of improvement between the recurrent attacks dictated his last commandments–his Testament, which he completed on January 4, 1923;…
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 355
It was in line with the train of thought Lenin expressed explicitly in his Testament.
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 365
BAZHANOV SAYS TROTSKY ERRS SAYING LENIN WAS ALIVE WHEN TESTAMENT WAS READ
In his book on Stalin, written in the last years of his life, Trotsky said, after describing the plenum at which the Testament was read, “Actually, the Testament not only failed to terminate the internal struggle, which was what Lenin wanted, but, on the contrary intensified it to a feverish pitch. Stalin could no longer doubt that Lenin’s return to activity would mean the political death of the General Secretary.”
One can deduce from these lines that Lenin was still alive when his Testament was divulged. Since it was made public at the plenum which preceded the congress, Trotsky meant the plenum of the Central Committee of April 15, 1923, and the 12th Congress of 17-25 April 1923. But it is a gross error. The Testament was read to the Central Committee plenum of 21 May 1924 (the 13th Congress was May 22-31, 1924), which was four months after Lenin’s death. It is easy to demonstrate that it was Trotsky, not I, who was in error. In the same passage of his book, Trotsky quotes me as a witness to the plenum: “Bazhanov, another former secretary of Stalin’s, described the seance of the Central Committee at which Kamenev read the Testament. ‘Terrible embarrassment paralyzed all those present. Stalin, sitting on the steps of the rostrum, felt small and miserable. I studied him closely…etc.’” From these texts, one could only conclude that we were both at the same plenum. Although I was at the 1924 plenum, it was impossible for me to have been at the 1923 one, since I was not yet Politburo secretary. Consequently it is beyond doubt that the Testament was divulged at the May 21, 1924 plenum, after Lenin’s death, and that Trotsky was mistaken.
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 77
STALIN REFUSED TO GIVE LENIN POISON
On March 17, 1923, the day Semashko and the doctors signed the bulletin, ratified by the Central Committee and describing Lenin’s condition as ‘good’, Stalin, as General Secretary, wrote a note to the Politburo in which he reported that Lenin was urgently requesting a lethal dose of potassium cyanide. Krupskaya was ‘stubbornly insisting that Lenin’s request should not be refused’. She had even ‘tried to give it to him herself, but had lost her nerve’, and that was why she had asked for Stalin’s help. Stalin concluded by saying that although he believed giving Lenin cyanide would be ‘a humane mission’, he himself would be unable to carry it out.
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Autopsy for an Empire. New York: Free Press, c1998, p. 66
Maria wrote in her memoir of Lenin’s last six months that:
“In the winner of 1920-21 or 21-22 Ilich was very, very bad. Headaches and an inability to work troubled him deeply. I don’t remember exactly when, but at some time during that period, Ilich told Stalin that he would very likely end up being paralyzed, and he got Stalin’s word that in that event he would help him get hold of some potassium cyanide. Stalin promised….”
She returns to this topic elsewhere:
“Lenin made the same request to Stalin in May 1922, after his first stroke. Lenin had decided that he was finished and asked for Stalin to come to him for the shortest possible time. He was so insistent that it was decided he should be indulged. Stalin stayed for literally no more than five minutes. And when he came out, he told me and Bukharin that Lenin had asked him to get some poison, as the time to fulfil his earlier promise had arrived. Stalin had promised, they had embraced, and Stalin had left. But then, after discussing it together, we decided we must give Lenin courage, so Stalin went back to Lenin again and told him that, having talked to the doctors, he was convinced that all was not yet lost…. Lenin was visibly cheered and agreed.
Maria’s memoirs, although they are not always accurate, are nevertheless clear that the thought of suicide was in Lenin’s mind from the moment the illness struck him.
The archives, however, hold a more reliable document–a “strictly secret” letter from Stalin to the Politburo, dated 21 March 1923:
“On Saturday 17 March in the strictest secrecy Comrade Krupskaya told me of ‘Vladimir Ilyich’s request to Stalin,’ namely that I, Stalin, should take the responsibility for finding and administering to Lenin a dose of potassium cyanide. In our conversation Krupskaya said, among other things, that ‘Vladimir Ilyich is suffering unbelievably,’ that ‘to go on living is unthinkable,’ and she stubbornly insisted that I ‘not refuse Ilyich’s request,’ in view of Krupskaya’s insistence and also because Ilyich was demanding my agreement (Lenin twice called Krupskaya to go to him during my conversation with her in his study, where we were talking, and emotionally asked for ‘Stalin’s agreement,’ causing us to break off our conversation twice), I felt it impossible to refuse him, and declared: ‘I would like Vladimir Ilyich to be reassured and to believe that when it is necessary I will fulfil his demand without hesitation.’ Ilyich was indeed reassured.
I must, however, state that I do not have the strength to carry out Ilyich’s request and I have to decline this mission, however humane and necessary it might be, and I therefore report this to the members of the Politburo.
The reactions of the Politburo were summed up in an informal resolution: “I have read it. I propose that Stalin’s ‘indecisiveness is correct. There should be an exchange of opinion strictly among Politburo members. Without (administrative) secretaries. Signed Tomsky, Zinoviev, Molotov, Bukharin, Trotsky, Kamenev.
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Lenin: A New Biography. New York: Free Press, 1994, p. 425-426
Stalin received a request which he immediately reported in writing to members of the Politburo. On March 17 Krupskaya, “in the strictest secrecy…communicated to me Lenin’s request to obtain and pass on to him a quantity of potassium cyanide…. Krupskaya said that Lenin’s suffering was beyond belief…. I must declare that I lack the strength to carry out the request and I am compelled to refuse this mission…and hereby inform the Orgbureau accordingly.” The unfortunate Leader [Lenin] was by now scarcely able to think at all. Krupskaya herself was trying to carry out his former wish and spare him from further suffering. In fact, Stalin informed his friends in the triumvirate, Zinoviev and Kamenev, that “Krupskaya said…she had ‘tried to give him cyanide’ but ‘couldn’t go through with it,’ and so was ‘asking for Stalin’s support.’” But Stalin was a connoisseur of character. He knew then his partners would subsequently accuse him. No, Lenin must oblige by dying unaided. The members of the Politburo naturally approved his decision. So now his hands were clean.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 202
Here naturally arises the question: how and why did Lenin, who at the time was extremely suspicious of Stalin, turn to him with such a request [for poison], which on the face of it, presupposed the highest degree of personal confidence?
Trotsky, Leon, Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 377
SOON AFTER LENIN DIED STALIN ORDERED ALL OF HIS WRITINGS COMBINED IN ONE INSTITUTE
Soon after Lenin died a year later, Stalin had the Marx-Engels Institute re-named the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute. He insured, by means of a special Central Committee decision, that all materials, documents, and letters, including those of a personal nature, would be deposited in this new center for the “research of Lenin’s heritage.” A Lenin archive of 4500 documents was created, as Tikhomirnov informed Stalin in early 1933. It would soon grow to 26,000. On Stalin’s orders all Lenin material that had belonged to Bukharin, Zinoviev, Kamenev and other leading figures was transferred to it, and expeditions by Ganetsky, Adoratsky, and Tikhomirnov scoured Vienna, Warsaw, Cracow, Zurich, Brussels, and Paris in search of more Leniniana.
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Lenin: A New Biography. New York: Free Press, 1994, p. 274
STALIN WANTED TO BE LET OUT OF WATCHING LENIN’S HEALTH BUT THEY SAID NO
After the unforgettable telephone conversation, Stalin bothered her no more; he simply ignored her. Evidently now certain that Lenin would not recover, he was finding his responsibilities onerous. On 1 February 1923 he read a statement to the Politburo, asking to be relieved of having ‘to observe that the regime established by the physicians for Comrade Stalin is carried out.’ The response was a unanimous ‘no.’
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Lenin: A New Biography. New York: Free Press, 1994, p. 421
On December 24, 1922, a committee of the Politburo composed of Stalin, Kamenev, and Bukharin held a conference with the doctors. It was decided that “Vladimir Ilyich has the right to dictate every day for 5 or 10 minutes, but this cannot have the character of correspondence and Vladimir Ilyich may not expect to receive any answers. He is forbidden [political] visitors. Friends or those around him may not inform him about political affairs.” Stalin was delegated the Politburo’s liaison man with the doctors, in effect Lenin’s guardian.
When these details were finely published in Russia in 1963, it was, of course, the intention of Khrushchev’s regime, which authorized the release, to cast unfavorable light on Stalin. Yet as in the case of many such revelations, the story reflects more discredit on his [Stalin] colleagues than on him. He had not sought this assignment and, as a matter of fact, tried on at least one occasion to lay it down. It was bound to increase Lenin’s already increasing dislike and suspicion of Stalin, would almost inevitably embroil Stalin with Lenin’s family. And if Lenin had a spell of recovery, Stalin would feel his wrath.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 216
But it must have been clear that the old man [Lenin] was up to something, getting his wife and secretaries to smuggle him “forbidden” Party materials and news, dictating to them not only lofty historical reflections, as would behoove a dying leader, but scandalous subversive pieces designed to throw the Party into disarray. Stalin kept calling the poor women, asking who it was that was telling Vladimir Ilyich these things, reminding them that they were subject to Party discipline and had better watch their step. After one such call, on December 23, Krupskaya appealed to her friends Kamenev and Zinoviev to protect her from ” invectives and threats.” But when they mildly remonstrated with Stalin he declared that he would resign his charge–let somebody else deal with the impossible invalid, his busybody wife, his hysterical old-maid sister, and those gossipy secretaries–but he was prevailed upon to stay on as Lenin’s guardian.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 218
KRUPSKAYA OBJECTED TO CC VOTING TO SUPPRESS THE TESTAMENT & TROTSKY WAS SILENT
Against Krupskaya’s protest the Central Committee voted by an overwhelming majority for the suppression of the will. To the end Trotsky, as though numb and frozen with detestation kept his silence.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Unarmed. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959, p. 138
EVIDENCE SHOWS TROTSKY LIES WHEN HE SAYS STALIN POISONED LENIN
Trotsky would later speak of “Stalin’s poison.” But this is irrelevant. Professor V. Shklovsky, son of the imminent physician M. Shklovsky, found in his father’s records the testimony [originally meant to be destroyed] of V. Osipov, one of the senior doctors attending Lenin, and a speech therapist S. Dobrogayev. We read in particular that “the final diagnosis dismisses the stories of the syphilitic character of Lenin’s disease, or of arsenic poisoning. It was atherosclerosis, mainly affecting the cerebral blood vessels. The calcium deposit was so thick that during dissection the tweezers made a noise as if they were rapping on stone. Lenin’s parents also died of this disease.” But the story that Lenin had been poisoned would never die.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 213
This delusion has been utilized by various writers, Trotsky the most eminent, who have argued that Stalin murdered Lenin. Lenin was not in such bad shape, they maintain, so is it not strange that he died so suddenly? In the nature of things Stalin’s innocence cannot be proven, and in history, unlike some judicial systems, it cannot be presumed. But it strains the imagination to believe that the official account of Lenin’s arterial sclerosis was fabricated. Furthermore, the general impression of Stalin’s tactics in this whole period, roughly 1922-28, is that he considered time to be on his side and was remarkably patient in waiting to see whether events would unfold to his advantage. It is unlikely that in early 1924 he feared that Lenin might revive and cause trouble.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 85
LENIN DID NOT REPRIMAND STALIN EVEN WHEN HIS METHODS WERE ROUGH
Most of all, Lenin was inhibited by a complex of his own in dealing with Stalin. Stalin’s brutality and occasional insolence were undoubtedly distasteful to him, but did his qualms spring from his own background as a bourgeois and intelligent? Stalin’s behavior was perhaps the kind of proletarian forthrightness that was now so badly needed and that must not be curbed, lest the Communists share the fate of the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries. He never had occasion to admonish Stalin, as he did another front commander, “I am afraid you are mistaken in not applying utmost severity, but if you are absolutely certain that your forces are inadequate for a savage and ruthless repression, then wire all the details without any delay.” For all the ample provocations there is no record of Lenin so much as reprimanding Stalin for the tone, if not the substance, of his messages.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 183