Polit Buro and the Church

Marx-Engels |  Lenin  | Stalin |  Home Page

  Politburo And The Church, Kremlin Archives

N. Petrovsky, S.G. Petrov

On confiscation of church valuables

V. I. Lenin's letter to members of the Politburo about the events in Shuya and the policy towards the church. March 19, 1922

No. 23-16 *

March 19, 1922


Comrade Molotov.

For members of the Politburo. In no case should you make copies of the copies, but each member of the Politburo (Comrade Kalinin too) should make his own notes on the document itself. Lenin.

Regarding the incident in Shuya, which has already been brought up for discussion by the Politburo, it seems to me that it is necessary to make a firm decision at once in connection with the general plan of struggle in this direction. Since I doubt that I will be able to personally attend the meeting of the Politburo on March 20, I will therefore state my views in writing.

The incident in Shuya must be related to the message that Rosta recently sent to newspapers not for publication, namely, the message about the resistance of the Black Hundreds in St. Petersburg to the decree on the confiscation of church values. If we compare with this fact what the newspapers report about the attitude of the clergy to the decree on the confiscation of church valuables, and then what we know about the illegal appeal of Patriarch Tikhon, then it will become quite clear that the Black Hundred clergy, led by their leader, are quite deliberately pursuing the plan give us the decisive battle at this very moment.

It is obvious that at secret meetings of the most influential group of the Black Hundred clergy, this plan was thought out and adopted quite firmly. The events in Shuya are just one of the manifestations and applications of this general plan.

I think that here our enemy is making a huge strategic mistake, trying to drag us into a decisive struggle when it is especially hopeless for him and especially disadvantageous. On the contrary, for us, it is at this moment that it is not only extremely favorable, but in general the only moment when we can, 99th of 100 chances of complete success, smash the enemy on the head and secure the necessary positions for us for many decades ... It is now and only now, when people are being eaten in hungry areas, and hundreds, if not thousands of corpses are lying on the roads, we can (and therefore must) carry out the confiscation of church valuables with the most frenzied and merciless energy and not stopping by suppressing any kind of resistance. It is now and only now that the vast majority of the peasant masses will be either for us,

At all costs, we need to carry out the confiscation of church valuables in the most decisive and fastest way, than we can secure a fund of several hundred million gold rubles (we must recall the gigantic wealth of some monasteries and laurels). Without this fund, no state work in general, no economic construction in particular, and no defense of one's position in Genoa, in particular, are completely unthinkable. We must take into our own hands this fund of several hundred million gold rubles (and perhaps several billion) at all costs. And this can only be done successfully now. All considerations indicate that later we will not be able to do this, because no other moment, except for desperate hunger, will give us such a mood of the broad peasant masses,

One smart writer on state issues rightly said that if it is necessary to commit a series of atrocities in order to achieve a certain political goal, then they must be carried out in the most energetic way and in the shortest possible time, because the masses of the people will not endure the prolonged use of atrocities. This consideration is in particular further reinforced by the fact that, given the international position of Russia, for us, in all likelihood, after Genoa, it will or may turn out that cruel measures against the reactionary clergy will be politically irrational, perhaps even too dangerous. Now the victory over the reactionary clergy is fully assured to us. In addition, the main part of our foreign opponents among the Russian emigrants abroad, i.e., the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Milyukovites, the struggle against us will be difficult if we, at this very moment, Therefore, I come to the unconditional conclusion that it is precisely now that we must give the most decisive and merciless battle to the Black Hundred clergy and suppress their resistance with such cruelty that they will not forget this for several decades. I imagine the campaign of this plan itself as follows:

Officially, only Comrade Kalinin, - must never and in no case appear in the press or in any other way before the public comrade. Trotsky.

A telegram sent already on behalf of the Politburo on the temporary suspension of the seizures should not be canceled. It is beneficial to us, because it will sow in the enemy the idea that we are hesitant, that he has managed to intimidate us (the enemy, of course, will soon find out about this secret telegram, precisely because it is secret).

Send to Shuya one of the most energetic, intelligent and managerial members of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee or other representatives of the central government (better one than several), and give him verbal instructions through one of the members of the Politburo. This instruction should boil down to the fact that in Shuya he should arrest as many as possible, not less than several dozen representatives of the local clergy, the local philistine and the local bourgeoisie on suspicion of direct or indirect participation in the case of violent resistance to the decree of the All-Russian Central

Executive Committee on the confiscation of church valuables. Immediately after completing this work, he must come to Moscow and personally make a report at a full meeting of the Politburo or before two authorized members of the Politburo. On the basis of this report, the Politburo gives detailed instructions to the judicial authorities, also verbal, that the trial against the Shui rebels,

Patriarch Tikhon himself, I think, is advisable for us not to touch, although he undoubtedly stands at the head of all this rebellion of the slave owners. Regarding him, it is necessary to give a secret directive to the State Political Commission, so that all connections of this figure are observed and revealed as accurately and in detail as possible, at this very moment. To oblige Dzerzhinsky and Unshlikht to personally report on this to the Politburo on a weekly basis.

At the Party Congress, arrange a secret meeting of all or almost all delegates on this issue, together with the main workers of the GPU, the NKYu and the Revolutionary Tribunal 18 . At this meeting to hold a secret decision of the Congress that the confiscation of valuables, especially the richest laurels, monasteries and churches, should be carried out with merciless determination, certainly not staying in front of anything and in the shortest possible time. The more representatives of the reactionary clergy and reactionary bourgeoisie we manage to shoot on this occasion, the better [.] It is now necessary to teach this public a lesson so that they would not dare to think of any resistance for several decades.

To monitor the quickest and most successful implementation of these measures, immediately at the Congress, that is, at its secret conference, a special commission with the obligatory participation of Comrade Trotsky and Comrade Kalinin, without any publication about this commission, so that all operations will be subordinated to it. was secured and carried out not on behalf of the commission, but in the general Soviet and general party order. Appoint especially responsible best workers to carry out this measure in the richest laurels, monasteries and churches.



I ask comrade. Molotov, to try to send this letter to the members of the Politburo in the circular this evening (without making copies) and ask them to return them to the secretary immediately after reading them with a short note as to whether each member of the Politburo agrees with the basis, or whether the letter provokes some disagreement.


-                      L. 20-23- Typewritten copy of that time, certified by the deputy head of the cipher bureau of the Central Committee of the RCP (b) S.F. Chechulin. After the second typewritten signature "Lenin" is printed:

"Mark by hand comrade. Molotov:

"I agree. However, I propose to extend the campaign not to all provinces and cities, but to those where there really are major values, thus focusing the forces and attention of the party accordingly.

19.III. Molotov "".

At the end of the document there is a typewritten note: "The original was transferred to the Lenin Institute."

-                      RCKHIDNI, f. 2, op. 1, d. 22947, l. 1-4. Typewritten original; signatures of V.I. Lenin in typescript. On l. 4 in the lower left corner there is a typewritten note : “19.III.22. I received M. Volodichev by phone. " Over this litter by hand

V. M. Molotov made the litter "Agree ... V. Molotov" printed in a copy of the APRF . On l. 1 handwritten note on the document's belonging to the proceedings of the Politburo meeting, minutes No. 114, item 5 of March 20, 1922 (No. 23-17).

-  Ibid, l. 5-8. Another copy of the same typewritten bookmark.

-  Published: according to the copy of the RCKHIDNI - Bulletin of the Russian Student Christian Movement. 1970. No. 98.

S. 54-57; News of the Central Committee of the CPSU. 1990. No. 4. S. 190193.

Notes and Comments:

With copies of the RCKHIDNI there is a cover letter on the letterhead of the Secretary of the Council of People's Commissars of the RSFSR dated March 19, 1922 with the text: "A copy of Vladimir Ilyich (materials] on the Shuya events)." On the letter the stamp: " Top Secret ". Below is a pencil mark by the hand of V. I. Lenin: "a archive ." Here is also the stamp "Comrade Lenin's Archive" with the handwritten date "8.IV.22" and the entry number. (L. 9).

18 The holding of a secret meeting on the confiscation of church valuables at the XI Congress of the RCP (b) was scheduled by V.I. V. I. Lenin to V. M. Molotov. In it, the leader demanded the immediate sending "on behalf of the Central Committee of an encrypted telegram to all the provincial committees that the delegates to the party congress bring with them as much detailed information and materials as possible about the treasures in churches and monasteries and about the progress of work to seize them" (V. I. Complete collection of works.Vol. 54, p. 206). On the same day, signed by V.M.

For a secret meeting of the secretaries of the gubernial party committees and the chairmen of the gubernia executive committees who came to the XI Congress of the RCP (b) (the congress was held in Moscow on March 27 - April 2, 1922), L. D. Trotsky developed on March 30 a theoretical note with "practical conclusions" about the policy in relation to the church (see No. 23-29). The note on the same day was approved by the poll as a Politburo resolution, which was confirmed on April 2, 1922 by Protocol No. 117 (see No. 23-34). The meeting took place on March 30, 1922.

Above, in No. 23-16, V. I. Lenin, speaking of "one clever writer on state issues," retells the end of Chapter VIII of the famous treatise by Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) "The Sovereign".