next up previous contents index
Next: Building socialism in Up: The young Stalin Previous: Stalin during the

Lenin's `Will'


Trotsky  knew his brief hour of glory in 1919, during the Civil War. However, without question, in 1921--1923, it was Stalin who was the second in the Party, after Lenin. 

Since the Eighth Congress in 1919, Stalin had been a member of the Politburo, beside Lenin,  Kamenev,  Trotsky  and Krestinsky.  This membership did not change until 1921. Stalin was also member of the Organizational Bureau, also composed of five members of the Central Committee.

Grey,  op. cit. , p. 151.

When during the Eleventh Congress, in 1922, Preobrazhensky  criticized the fact that Stalin led the People's Commissariat for Nationality Affairs as well as the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection (in charge of controlling the state apparatus), Lenin  replied:

`(W)e need a man to whom the representatives of any of these nations can go and discuss their difficulties in all detail .... I don't think Comrade Preobrazhensky  could suggest any better comrade than Comrade Stalin.

`The same thing applies to the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection. This is a vast business; but to be able to handle investigations we must have at the head of it a man who enjoys high prestige, otherwise we shall become submerged in and overwhelmed by petty intrigue.'

Lenin,  Closing Speech on the Political Report of the Central Committee of the R.C.P.(B.). (28 March 1922). Works, vol. 33, p. 315.

On April 23, 1922, on Lenin's  suggestion, Stalin was also appointed to head the secretariat, as General Secretary.

Grey,  p. 159.

Stalin was the only person who was a member of the Central Committee, the Political Bureau, the Organizational Bureau and the Secretariat of the Bolshevik Party. At the Twelfth Congress in April 1923, he presented the main report.

Lenin  had suffered his first stroke in May 1922. On December 16, 1922, he suffered another major attack. His doctors knew that he would not recover.

On December 24, the doctors told Stalin, Kamenev  and Bukharin,  the representatives of the Political Bureau, that any political controversy could provoke a new attack, this time fatal. They decided that Lenin  `has the right to dictate every day for five or ten minutes .... He is forbidden [political] visitors. Friends and those around him may not inform him about political affairs'.

Ibid. , p. 171.

The Politburo made Stalin responsible for the relations with Lenin  and the doctors. It was a thankless task since Lenin  could only feel frustrated because of his paralysis and his distance from political affairs. His irritation would necessarily turn against the man who was responsible for interacting with him. Ian Grey  writes:

`The journal of Lenin's  secretaries, from November 21, 1922 to March 6, 1923, contained the day-by-day details of his work, visitors, and health, and after December 13 it recorded his smallest actions. Lenin,  his right arm and leg paralyzed, was then confined to bed in his small apartment in the Kremlin, cut off from government business and, in fact, from the outside world. The doctors insisted that he should not be disturbed ....

`Unable to relinquish the habits of power, Lenin  struggled to obtain the papers he wanted, relying on his wife, Krupskaya,  his sister, Maria Ilyichna,  and three or four secretaries.'

Ibid. , p. 172.

Used to leading the essential aspects of the life of Party and State, Lenin  desperately tried to intervene in debates in which he could no longer physically master all the elements. His doctors refused to allow him any political work, which bothered him intensely. Feeling that his end was near, Lenin  sought to resolve questions that he thought of paramount importance, but that he no longer fully understood. The Politburo refused to allow him any stressful political work, but his wife did her best to get hold of the documents that he sought. Any doctor having seen similar situations would say that difficult psychological and personal conflicts were inevitable.

Towards the end of December 1922, Krupskaya  wrote a letter that Lenin  had dictated to her. Having done that, she was reprimanded by telephone by Stalin. She complained to Lenin  and to Kamenev.  `I know better than all the doctors what can and what can not be said to Ilyich, for I know what disturbs him and what doesn't and in any case I know this better than Stalin'.

Ibid. , p. 173.

About this period, Trotsky  wrote: `In the middle of December, 1922, Lenin's  health again took a turn for the worse .... Stalin at once tried to capitalize on this situation, hiding from Lenin  much of the information which was concentrating in the Party Secretariat .... Krupskaya  did whatever she could to shield the sick man from hostile jolts by the Secretariat.'

Trotsky,  Stalin, p. 374.

These are the unforgivable words of an intriguer. The doctors had refused to allow Lenin  receipt of reports, and here is Trotsky,  accusing Stalin for having made `hostile maneuvers' against Lenin  and for having `hidden information'!

What enemies of Communism call `Lenin's  will' was dictated in these circumstances during the period of December 23--25, 1922. These notes are followed by a post-scriptum dated January 5, 1923.

Bourgeois authors have much focused on Lenin's  so-called `will', which supposedly called for the elimination of Stalin in favor of Trotsky.  Henri Bernard,  Professor Emeritus at the Belgian Royal Military School, writes: `Trotsky  should normally have succeeded Lenin  .... (Lenin)  thought of him as successor. He thought Stalin was too brutal'.

Henri Bernard,  Le communisme et l'aveuglement occidental (Soumagne, Belgium: Éditions André Grisard, 1982), p. 48.

The U.S. Trotskyist  Max Eastman  published this `will' in 1925, along with laudatory remarks about Trotsky.  At the time, Trotsky  had to publish a correction in the Bolshevik newspaper, where he wrote:

`Eastman  says that the Central Committee `concealed' from the Party ... the so-called `will,' ... there can be no other name for this than slander against the Central Committee of our Party .... Vladimir Ilyich did not leave any `will,' and the very character of the Party itself, precluded the possibility of such a `will.' What is usually referred to as a `will' in the émigré and foreign bourgeois and Menshevik press (in a manner garbled beyond recognition) is one of Vladimir Ilyich's letters containing advice on organisational matters. The Thirteenth Congress of the Party paid the closest attention to that letter .... All talk about concealing or violating a `will' is a malicious invention.'

Quoted in Stalin, The Trotskyist  Opposition Before and Now. Works (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1954), pp. 179--180. Stalin's emphasis.

A few years later, the same Trotsky,  in his autobiography, would clamor indignantly about `Lenin's  ``Will'', which Stalin concealed from the party'.

Trotsky,  My Life, p. 469.

Let us examine the three pages of notes dictated by Lenin  between December 23, 1922 and January 5, 1923.

Lenin  called for `increasing the number of C.C. members (to 50 to 100), I think it must be done in order to raise the prestige of the Central Committee, to do a thorough job of improving our administrative machinery and to prevent conflicts between small sections of the C.C. from acquiring excessive importance for the future of the Party. It seems to me that our Party has every right to demand from the working class 50 to 100 C.C. members'. These would be `measures against a split'. `I think that from this standpoint the prime factors in the question of stability are such members of the C.C. as Stalin and Trotsky.  I think relations between them make the greater part of the danger of a split'.

Lenin,  Letter to the Congress. Works, vol. 36, pp. 593--594.

So much for the `theoretical' part.

This text is remarkably incomprehensible, clearly dictated by a sick and diminished man. How could 50 to 100 workers added to the Central Committee `raise its prestige'? Or reduce the danger of split? Saying nothing about Stalin's and Trotsky's  political concepts and visions of the Party, Lenin  claimed that the personal relationships between these two leaders threatened unity.

Then Lenin  `judged' the five main leaders of the Party. We cite them here:

`Comrade Stalin, having become Secretary-General, has unlimited authority concentrated in his hands; and I am not sure whether he will always be capable of using that authority with sufficient caution. Comrade Trotsky,  on the other hand, as his struggle against the C.C. on the question of the People's Commissariat for Communications has already proved, is distinguished not only by exceptional abilities. He is personally perhaps the most capable man in the present C.C., but he has diplayed excessive preoccupation with the purely administrative side of the work.

`These two qualities of the two outstanding leaders of the present C.C. can inadvertently lead to a split ....

`I shall just recall that the October episode with Zinoviev  and Kamenev  was, of course, no accident, but neither can the blame for it be laid upon them personally, any more than non-Bolshevism can upon Trotsky .... 

`Bukharin  is not only a most valuable and major theorist of the Party; he is also rightly considered the favourite of the whole Party, but his theoretical views can be classified as fully Marxist  only with great reserve, for there is something scholastic about him (he has never made a study of dialectics, and, I think, never fully understood it).'

Ibid. , pp. 594--595.

Note that the first leader to be named by Lenin  was Stalin, who, in Trotsky's  words, `always seemed a man destined to play second and third fiddle'.

Trotsky,  My Life, p. 506.

Trotsky  continued:

`Unquestionably, his object in making the will was to facilitate the work of direction for me'.

Ibid. , pp. 479--480.

Of course, there is nothing of the kind in Lenin's  rough notes. Grey  states quite correctly:

`Stalin emerged in the best light. He had done nothing to besmirch his party record. The only query was whether he could show good judgment in wielding the vast powers in his hands.'

Grey,  op. cit. , p. 176.

With respect to Trotsky,  Lenin  noted four major problems: he was seriously wrong on several occasions, as was shown in his struggle against the Central Committee in the `militarization of the unions' affair; he had an exaggerated opinion of himself; his approach to problems was bureaucratic; and his non-Bolshevism was not accidental.

About Zinoviev  and Kamenev,  the only thing that Lenin  noted was that their treason during the October insurrection was not accidental.

Bukharin  was a great theoretician, whose ideas were not completely Marxist  but, rather, scholastic and non-dialectic!

Lenin  dictated his notes in order to avoid a split in the Party leadership. But the statements that he made about the five main leaders seem better suited to undermining their prestige and setting them against each other.

When he dictated these lines, `Lenin  was not feeling well', wrote his secretary Fotieva,  and `the doctors opposed discussions between Lenin  and his secretary and stenographer'.

Fotieva,  Souvenirs sur Lénine (Moscow: Éditions Moscou, n.d.), pp. 152--153.

Then, ten days later, Lenin  dictated an `addition', which appears to refer to a rebuke that Stalin had made twelve days earlier to Krupskaya. 

`Stalin is too rude and this defect, although quite tolerable in our midst and in dealings among us Communists, becomes intolerable in a Secretary-General. That is why I suggest that the comrades think about a way of removing Stalin from that post and appointing another man in his stead who in all other respects differs from Comrade Stalin in having only one advantage, namely, that of being more tolerant, more loyal, more polite and more considerate to the comrades, less capricious, etc. This circumstance may appear to be a negligible detail. But I think that from the standpoint of safeguards against a split and from the standpoint of what I wrote above about the relationship between Stalin and Trotsky  it is not a detail, or it is a detail which can assume decisive importance.'

Lenin,  Letter to the Congress, p. 596.

Gravely ill, half paralyzed, Lenin  was more and more dependent on his wife. A few overly harsh words from Stalin to Krupskaya  led Lenin  to ask for the resignation of the General Secretary. But who was to replace him? A man who had all of Stalin's capacities and `one more trait': to be more tolerant, polite and attentive! It is clear from the text the Lenin  was certainly not referring to Trotsky!  Then to whom? To no one.

Stalin's `rudeness' was `entirely supportable in relations among us Communists', but was not `in the office of the General Secretary'. But the General Secretary's main rôle at the time dealt with questions of the Party's internal organization!

In February 1923, `Lenin's  state worsened, he suffered from violent headaches. The doctor categorically refused to allow newspaper reading, visits and political information. Vladimir Ilyich asked for the record of the Tenth Congress of the Soviets. It was not given to him, which made him very sad'.

Fotieva,  op. cit. , pp. 173--174.

Apparently, Krupskaya  tried to obtain the documents that Lenin  asked for. Dimitrievsky  reported another altercation between Krupskaya  and Stalin.

`When Krupskaya  ... telephoned him ... once more for some information, Stalin ... upbraided her in the most outrageous language. Krupskaya,  all in tears, immediately ran to complain to Lenin.  Lenin's  nerves, already strained to the breaking point by the intrigues, could not hold out any longer.'

Trotsky,  Stalin, p. 374.

On March 5, Lenin  dictated a new note:

`Respected Comrade Stalin. You had the rudeness to summon my wife to the telephone and reprimand her .... I do not intend to forget so easily what was done against me, and I need not stress that I consider what is done against my wife is done against me also. I ask therefore that you weigh carefully whether you are agreeable to retract what you said and to apologize or whether you prefer to sever relations between us. Lenin.' 

Grey,  op. cit. , p. 179.

It is distressing to read this private letter from a man who had reached his physical limits. Krupskaya  herself asked the secretary not to forward the note to Stalin.

Ibid. .

These are in fact the last lines that Lenin  was able to dictate: the next day, his illness worsened significantly and he was no longer able to work.

Fotieva,  op. cit. , p. 175.

That Trotsky  was capable of manipulating the words of a sick man, almost completely paralyzed, shows the utter moral depravity of this individual. Sure enough, like a good forgerer, Trotsky  presented this text as the final proof that Lenin  had designated him as successor! He wrote:

`That note, the last surviving Lenin  document, is at the same time the final summation of his relations with Stalin.'

Trostky, Stalin, p. 375.

Years later, in 1927, the united opposition of Trotsky,  Zinoviev  and Kamenev  tried once again to use this `will' against the Party leadership. In a public declaration, Stalin said:

`The oppositionists shouted here ... that the Central Committee of the Party ``concealed'' Lenin's  ``will.'' We have discussed this question several times at the plenum of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission .... (A voice: ``Scores of times.'') It has been proved and proved again that nobody has concealed anything, that Lenin's  ``will'' was addressed to the Thirteenth Party Congress, that this ``will'' was read out at the congress ( voices: ``That's right!''), that the congress unanimously decided not to publish it because, among other things, Lenin  himself did not want it to be published and did not ask that it should be published.'

Stalin, The Trotskyist  Opposition Before and Now, p. 178.

`It is said 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 .... At the very first meeting of the plenum of the Central Committee after the Thirteenth Congress I asked the plenum of the Central Committee to release me from my duties as General Secretary. The congress 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 ....

`A year later I again put in a request to the plenum to release me, but I was obliged to remain at my post.'

Ibid. , pp. 180--181.

But Trotsky's  intrigues around this `will' were not the worst that he had to offer. At the end of his life, Trotsky  went to the trouble to accuse Stalin of having killed Lenin! 

And to make this unspeakable accusation, Trotsky  used his `thoughts and suspicions' as sole argument!

In his book, Stalin, Trotsky  wrote:

`What was Stalin's actual role at the time of Lenin's  illness? Did not the disciple do something to expedite his master's death?'

Trotsky,  Stalin, p. 372.

`(O)nly Lenin's  death could clear the way for Stalin.'

Ibid. , p. 376.

`I am firmly convinced that Stalin could not have waited passively when his fate hung by a thread.'

Ibid. , p. 381.

Of course, Trotsky  gave no proof whatsoever in support of his charge, but he did write that the idea came to him when `toward the end of February, 1923, at a meeting of the Politburo ..., Stalin informed us ... that Lenin  had suddenly called him in and had asked him for poison. Lenin  ... considered his situation hopeless, foresaw the approach of a new stroke, did not trust his physicians ..., he suffered unendurably.'

Ibid. , p. 376.

At the time, listening to Stalin, Trotsky  almost unmasked Lenin's  future assassin! He wrote:

`I recall how extraordinary, enigmatic and out of tune with the circumstances Stalin's face seemd to me .... a sickly smile was transfixed on his face, as on a mask.'


Let's follow Inspector Clousot-Trotsky  in his investigation. Listen to this:

`(H)ow and why did Lenin,  who at the time was extremely suspicious of Stalin, turn to him with such a request Lenin  saw in Stalin the only man who would grant his tragic request, since he was directly interested in doing so .... (he) guessed ... how Stalin really felt about him.'

Ibid. , p. 377.

Just try to write, with this kind of argument, a book accusing Prince Albert of Belgium of having poisoned his brother King Beaudoin: `he was directly interested in doing so'. You would be sentenced to prison. But Trotsky  allowed himself such unspeakable slanders against the main Communist leader, and the bourgeoisie hails him for his `unblemished struggle against Stalin'.

Bernard,  op. cit. , p. 53.

Here is the high point of Trotsky's  criminal enquiry:

`I imagine the course of affairs somewhat like this. Lenin  asked for poison at the end of February, 1923 .... Toward winter Lenin began  to improve slowly ...; his faculty of speech began to come back to him ....

`Stalin was after power .... His goal was near, but the danger emanating from Lenin  was even nearer. At this time Stalin must have made up his mind that it was imperative to act without delay .... Whether Stalin sent the poison to Lenin  with the hint that the physicians had left no hope for his recovery or whether he resorted to more direct means I do not know.'

Ibid. , p. 381.

Even Trotsky's  lies were poorly formulated: if there was no hope, why did Stalin need to `assassinate' Lenin? 

From March 6, 1923 until his death, Lenin  was almost completely paralyzed and deprived of speech. His wife, his sister and his secretaries were at his bedside. Lenin  could not have taken poison without them knowing it. The medical records from that time explain quite clearly that Lenin's  death was inevitable.

The manner in which Trotsky  constructed `Stalin, the assassin', as well as the manner in which he fraudulously used the so-called `will', completely discredit all his agitation against Stalin.


next up previous contents index
Next: Building socialism in Up: The young Stalin Previous: Stalin during the

Fri Aug 25 09:03:42 PDT 1995