Stalin to Molotov

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Letter 11

[24 May 1926]


I got here Sunday evening. The weather was lousy. The harvest outlook in the North Caucasus is good. That's good.

Belenkii told me that 1) Trotsky was back in Moscow as early as Wednesday morning; 2) Preobrazhenskii went to visit him in Berlin (for a rendevous?).2 Interesting.

Well, all the best, J. Stalin

Monday. Sochi.

1.   Molotov's notation in the upper right-hand corner: "1926=?"

2.   In the spring of 1926, Trotsky and his wife were in Berlin formedical treatment (see L. Trotsky, Moia zhizn' [My life] [Moscow, 1991], 496).


Letter 12

[26 May 1926]

Hello again,1

Since you are all busy with large matters, some trivial matters may slip by you. I think it won't be out of order to remind you of several necessary details:

1)              You must remind Bukharin of the article against the ''workers'opposition." It shouldn't be put off any longer. It must be written immediately. It's more advantageous for us if Bukharin writes it, and not Grisha [Zinoviev], who has criminally missed all deadlines. 2 It would be strategically advantageous if Bukharin would write it. Bukharin is fully within his rights to do so, since Grisha has sabotaged the assignment from the Politburo.3

2)              We must publish the complete text of the resolution of ourworkers (from all regions) in support of the British strikers in general and the coal miners in particular in all the most important languages of the West as quickly as possible. I think it should be published in the form of a brochure with a foreword by Bukharin or Tomskii. Neither Grisha nor Lozovskii are needed here. The preface should be written by either Bukharin or Tomskii. This is a fighting matter and should not be allowed to fall by the wayside. It can be published by the Trade Union Council or the State Publishing House. It shouldn't be published by Comintern itselfthis can do harm. Better have it come from the trade unions.4

3)              Tell me something about that alarming matter that Uglanov andYagoda reported to us.5 If everything's all right, telegraph the message "Feeling fine"; if things are bad, telegraph in code the message "Feeling sick."

That's it for now. The weather has gotten better.


J. Stalin

1.   Molotov's notation on this letter is: "5/26/1926."

2.   In 1924, S. P. Medvedev, a leader of the former "workers'opposition," drafted a letter criticizing the party's policy (published in Kommunisticheskaia oppozitsiia v SSSR, 192327 [Communist opposition in the USSR, 192327], 4 vols. [Benson, Vt.: Chalidze Publications, 1988], 1:90101). The letter was distributed among some members of the Baku Party Organization. At that time, several Communists expelled from the Communist Party in Baku were charged with attempting to create an "underground opposition group," whose ideological mentor was Medvedev and another leader of the former "workers' opposition," A. G. Shliapnikov. Zinoviev was assigned to write an article criticizing Medvedev's "platform." He did not carry out this assignment, however. On 10

July 1926, Pravda carried an editorial, "Rightist Danger in Our Party," with a detailed analysis and severe criticism of Medvedev's letter. From all indications this editorial was written by Bukharin.

3.   From Stalin's speech on 15 July 1926, at the party plenum(RTsKhIDNI f. 17, op. 2, d. 246, vyp. 1, ll. 75, 76):

Com. Zinoviev agreed to write an article criticizing Medvedev. Why didn't he write it? Why has he dragged this out a year and not spoken against Medvedev? . . . Why has Com. Zinoviev sabotaged the decision for a whole year, although he himself agreed to criticize Medvedev's Menshevist letter? Why? Yesterday he tried to explain this as follows: since there was a marked tendency to the right in the party, I, Zinoviev, decided to spare Medvedev [as a representative of the leftU.S. Ed.]. . . .

Com. Trotsky feigns surprise that we are raising the issue of the Medvedev letter precisely now, when it was written a year ago. And in fact why was there such a delay? Because we waited a year for Com. Zinoviev, who sabotaged the Politburo's decision. Because about three months ago the Central Committee received a statement from Comrades Shliapnikov and Medvedev in which not only do they fail to renounce the letter from Com. Medvedev, but, on the contrary, they demand that it be printed in Pravda. Because back in April of this year, after receiving the statement from Comrades Shliapnikov and Medvedev, I sent the members of the Central Committee a letter with my signature in which I once again reminded Com. Zinoviev of his duty to criticize the Medvedev letter. I received no reply to this letter whatsoever. . . .

Allow me to read some extracts from my letter: "Some time ago the so-called workers' opposition provided a platform of its views in the form of the well-known letter by Com. Medvedev to members of the 'workers' opposition' in Baku. This platform of the 'workers' opposition' states that the policy of the Comintern is leading 'to the disorganization of the workers' movement in that country [the reference is to NorwayJ. Stalin] and to the establishment of "Communist" parties with few material resources. They are maintained at the expense of the Russian workers, using resources that cost them blood and sacrifices but which they themselves cannot enjoy under current conditions,' that 'in reality hordes of petit bourgeois timeservers are created; maintained on Russian gold, they depict themselves as the proletariat and represent themselves in the Comintern as the most revolutionary workers.' The platform goes on to say that 'our [that is, the "workers' opposition"J. Stalin] evaluation of the Western European social democratic parties differs profoundly from those evaluations that are given by our leaders [that is, the Central CommitteeJ. Stalin].' Finally the platform states that 'we [that is, the "workers' opposition"J. Stalin] consider that associations like the "Trade Union International" [Profintern] are in practice, deliberately or not, an instrument for creating a gulf between, on the one hand, the worker masses of Russia and the Communist masses of Western Europe and, on the other hand, the decisive mass of the entire proletariat. It is a direct hindrance, unjustified by the real situation, to an authentic united front of the working class within each country and at the international level.' . . .

The Central Committee assigned Com. Zinoviev to publish a statement in the press against the letter . . . , but Com. Zinoviev for more than a year now has not seen fit to fulfill this assignment. . . . Is it not clear that Com. Zinoviev needs to remain silent about the 'workers' opposition' in order to secure himself the bloc he is establishing with that very 'workers' opposition'? Are Com. Zinoviev and Com. Medvedev in agreement that the Communist parties in the West are not authentic workers' parties but 'hordes of petit bourgeois timeservers'? Yes or no? Are Com. Zinoviev and Com. Medvedev in agreement that Amsterdam is more valuable than the Profintern, that the Profintern should be liquidated? Yes or no? If Com. Zinoviev is not in agreement with these fundamental points of the 'workers' opposition,' then [why] is he forming a bloc with it at the present moment, and why is he not fulfilling the Central Committee's decision about publishing a statement against the platform of the 'workers' opposition'?

What does all this tell us? That Com. Trotsky and Com.

Zinoviev have formed a bloc with the 'workers' opposition.'

In his statement to the Central Committee on 18 July 1926, Zinoviev wrote (ibid., d. 696, ll. 46, 47):

More than a year ago, with . . . the seven, the question was  raised whether or not to make a statement in the press against Medvedev's letter. I held the opinion that we should have an article in Bolshevik and publish Com. Medvedev's letter itself in full. I have not changed my opinion. Even now I consider that it would be correct to publish the letter itself in the party's theoretical organ and to provide a serious and sharp analysis of it. Among the seven, Comrade Stalin at first considered that this wasn't necessary, and then was inclined to say that perhaps we should try to write such an article. The factional seven expressed the opinion that I should write this article. [After Zinoviev joined with Trotsky, he condemned the seven as a factional organizationU.S. Ed.] I did not write it partly because I was overloaded with other work but partly because the mood in the seven was hesitant: there wasn't a firm decision to definitely publish an article. Over the course of the next year and later, no one from the seven ever reminded me even once that this article had to be written. . . . The claim that the Central Committee of our party gave me an assignment to publish an article against Com. Medvedev is a lie. It never happened.

No Politburo decision to assign Zinoviev the task of writing this article has been found.

4.   In 1926, the Trade Union Council published a collection inRussian, Angliiskaia stachka i rabochie SSSR (The British strike and Soviet workers), simultaneously issuing it in German in Moscow and Berlin.

5.   The editors were unable to determine the reference here.

Letter 13

[1 June 1926]


On 28 May, Molotov sent you a detailed letter about Zinoviev's theses on the lessons of the British strikes. We believe that it is extremely important for you to study these theses immediately and send us your opinion. Zinoviev is reevaluating our analysis of capitalist stabilization and the tactics of the Comintern, slinging mud at the Comintern's existing policy, and making references to the party and to individual Central Committee members as he did earlier in "Philosophy of the Era,"2 and he is ready to take upon himself the initiative of breaking immediately with the General Council. Trotsky also advocates a demonstrative break with the

General Council. I believe this is consummate stupidity of the "recallist"3 variety and the Central Committee should ruthlessly oppose it. Opportunism disguised by "leftist" phrases should be exposed. Zinoviev's theses must be refuted and opposed with politically precise theses from the Central Committee, including our right and duty to criticize ruthlessly and expose the rightists and all the leftists of the General Council, but without initiating a break with the General Council. Among us there is full unanimity on the basic point. Bukharin prefers not to present our own countertheses but to make instead appropriate corrections to Zinoviev's theses. We are postponing a discussion of the British lessons for five days while we think over our theses. We're expecting your immediate reply. Zinoviev made a speech at Sverdlov University4 in the spirit of his theses. Trotsky echoed him. Bukharin spoke out against them without naming names.

Molotov. Bukharin.

1.   The telegram is printed on a form from the party's

Transcaucasian Regional Committee. In the upper part of the form is written: "Tiflis. Transcaucasian Regional Committee. Decipher in the presence of Com. Ordzhonikidze. Hand deliver to Com. Stalin" (RTsKhIDNI f.82, op. 1, d. 144, l. 1).

2.   An article by G. Ye. Zinoviev (frequently reprinted, for example,G. Ye. Zinoviev, "Filosofiia epokhi," Leningrad, Priboy, 1925; Moscow, Moskovskiy rabochiy, 1925, etc.).

3.   "Recallist" is a label given to a Bolshevik faction that refused towork within a bourgeois institution like a parliament or a trade unionU.S. Ed.

4.   The Sverdlov Communist University, a party-run academy fortraining party and Soviet personnel.


Letter 14

[1 June 1926]


Bukharin is writing countertheses to Zinoviev's. Zinoviev and Trotsky are causing us to be in a terrible rush. In my view, our theses must provide a determined attack against Zinoviev and Trotsky's attempts to conduct a  radical although cowardly review of the policy of the Comintern, the party, and the Trade Union Council; our theses should expose not only ultra-leftism but that which screens it, that is, leftism in the Comintern, as Lenin taught. The opportunistic "recallism" on the matter of the break with the General Council must be exposed. Simultaneously we must: 1) emphasize the conditional nature of the stabilization and the growth of complications that may lead to revolution in the capitalist countries, although the outcome may go either way; 2) [emphasize] the betrayal of the rightists and the capitulation of the leftists in the General Council; in fact the leftists bear the main objective responsibility for this, because they have a majority in the General Council; 3) demonstrate that we have joined and can remain in the Anglo-Soviet [sic] Committee, 2 for the sake of contact with the masses of British workers, without restricting in any way our right to criticize any action by the General Council or our support of the revolutionary elements of the British workers' movement. The Communist Party of England should be decisively defended against Trotsky's charge in Pravda of 26 May that it is an element of "unrevolutionary inhibition." Your opinion is needed immediately. It would be better if you came in person to Moscow; then (we) would postpone the decision on the British issue until 7 June. Awaiting your reply.


1.               In the upper part of the telegram is written: "Decipher in thepresence of Com. Ordzhonikidze. Hand deliver to Com. Stalin" (RTsKhIDNI f. 82, op. 1, d. 144, l. 2).

2.               The Anglo-Russian Committee, a joint committee of the tradeunions of Great Britain and the USSR, was created in London on 68 April 1925 at a conference of representatives of the Soviet

Trade Union Council and the General Council of the British Trades Union Congress (TUC). It was dissolved in September 1927 after diplomatic relations between Great Britain and the USSR were broken off. Letter 15

[2 June 1926]


2 June 1926


Central Committee

To Molotov:

I received the coded telegram today. I haven't received Molotov's letter yet. I will read the theses immediately and report back to you. I don't understand how they can rush you when you have the majority. Postpone the matter for another week and tell them to go to hell. The matter of the theses is an important one, and we have to think it through without haste. Apparently they want to take advantage of the British issue in order to get back everything they had lost before. They must be put in their place.


1. RTsKhIDNI f. 558, op. 1, d. 3263, l. 1.


Letter 16

[3 June 1926]


Central Committee

All-Union Communist Party

Com. Molotov,

Decipher Immediately

Basically Grisha's [Zinoviev's] theses proceed from the premise that 1) stabilization is ending or has already ended; 2) we are entering into or have already entered into a phase of revolutionary explosions; 3) the tactic of gathering forces and working in the reactionary trade unions is losing its viability and is receding into the background; 4) the tactic of a united front has outlived itself; 5) we must build our own trade unions by relying on the "minorities" movement. Hence Grisha's proposal to take upon himself the initiative for an outright break with the General Council.

In the given historical circumstances, this entire premise, in my view, is fundamentally incorrect because it plays into the hands of Amsterdam and the Second International and dooms our Communist parties to sectarianism.

I think that:

1)         Stabilization has not ended, although it [circumstances] has been and continues to be shaky;

2)         The provocation of the [general] strike by the British

Conservatives was capital's attempt to solidify stabilization that is, in this case, capital, not the revolution, was on the attack.

3)         This attempt did not lead to a strengthening of stabilization, nor could it. But it also did not lead to a triumphant development of the workers' revolutionary struggle or to the destruction of stabilization; moreover, as a result of the strike, some categories of workers were not able to preserve even their former conditions of work and struggle.

4)         As a result, we do not have a new phase of stormy onslaught by the revolution but a continuing stabilization, temporary, not enduring, but stabilization nonetheless, fraught with new attempts by capital to make new attacks on the workers, who continue to be forced to defend themselves.

5)         Our task is to continue to gather forces and [form] a real united front; to prepare the working class to resist new attacks by capital; to turn this defense into a broad-based revolutionary attack by the proletariat against capital, into a transition to a struggle for power.

6)         Hence the need for more intense work by the Communists in the reactionary trade unions for the purpose of internally transforming them and of taking control of them.

7)         Hence the need for a determined struggle against Zinoviev and Trotsky, who have been advocating splitting the trade union movement and have opposed a united front, to the advantage of Oudegeest and Sassenbach.

8)         Hence a determined struggle against Zinoviev and Trotsky, whoare pushing the British trade union movement into the arms of Amsterdam and the American Federation of Labor (AFL).

9)         Hence a decisive rebuttal of Zinoviev and Trotsky's line, whichleads to the Communist parties' isolation from the masses and to the abandonment of the masses to a monopoly of leadership by reformers.

10)   Hence a decisive rebuttal of any attempt to take upon ourselvesthe initiative of splitting the [Soviet] Trade Union Council from the British trade union movement, since a break with the General Council under these conditions must lead to a break with the trade unions of England in favor of Amsterdam.

11)   The break with the General Council will surely lead to adisruption in the policy of a unified trade union movement in France and Germany as well, since the reformers in France and Germany are no better than the British reformers.

12)   Work with the Profintern 4 and the "minorities" must be

stepped up and their authority increased.

13)   The British Communist Party must be unconditionally defended against Zinoviev and Trotsky's efforts to discredit it.

14)   A number of the practical proposals made by Com. Lozovskii should be approved, and complete agreement should be established between Tomskii and Lozovskii.

15)   Ruthless criticism of centrists and leftists in the General Council is absolutely necessary.

16)   This criticism does not and cannot exclude the possibility [and] the necessity of preserving the Anglo-Soviet [sic] Committee.5

17)   Separately from the Comintern theses, we should make adecision to have the Trade Union Council pass a resolution (after hearing a report by [its] presidium concerning the results of the May strike) criticizing the treachery of the rightists and the lack of character of the leftists. The resolution should be broadcast over the radio and also sent to the British Communist Party and the [trade union] minority as well as to the General Council for their information.

18)   The trade union minority and the British Communist Partyshould launch a vigorous campaign for new elections to the executive committees of the unions and the General Council aiming at the expulsion of the Thomas traitors6 and their hangerson among the leftists; the British party should support their replacement with new revolutionary leaders.

19)   Bukharin's theses should take account of the decisions of thePolitburo and its British Commission 7 about the British strike, keeping in mind that Zinoviev has broken with these decisions in his theses.

20)   Zinoviev's theses must be completely refuted as liquidationist8 and replaced by our theses.

21)   The rejection of Grisha's theses could lead to threats ofresignation which should not frighten you in any way.

22)   I don't think my trip is necessary.

23)   If talks are still needed on a direct line, then send a note overthe wire and I will answer.

Sent June 3

J. Stalin

1.   RTsKhIDNI f. 558, op. 1, d. 3266, ll. 1, 2.

2.   The Amsterdam International of Trade Unions was aninternational association of trade unions formed in July 1919 at a congress in Amsterdam. Soviet trade unions did not join. The Amsterdam International of Trade Unions was condemned as reformist in the USSR.

3.   The International Association of Socialist Parties, founded in Paris in 1889. The Bolsheviks countered it with the III Communist International, founded in Moscow in 1919. The II International was condemned in the USSR as opportunist and social-reformist.

4.   The Profintern (Red International of Trade Unions) was aninternational organization of leftist trade unions that existed from 1921 to 1931 under the influence of the USSR.

5.   The Anglo-Russian Committee, a joint committee of the tradeunions of Great Britain and the USSR, was created in London on 68 April 1925 at a conference of representatives of the Soviet

Trade Union Council and the General Council of the British Trades Union Congress (TUC). It was dissolved in September 1927 after diplomatic relations between Great Britain and the USSR were broken off.

6.   James Henry Thomas is used here as a symbol of the moderatetrade union leaders that Communists felt had betrayed the working class by calling off the general strikeU.S. Ed.

7.   No information was found in Politburo minutes concerning thecreation and activity of the British Commission of the Politburo.

8.   The Liquidators were a movement within Russian Marxism thatallegedly favored liquidating the underground party and preserving only the legal institutionsU.S. Ed.


Letter 17

[3 June 1926]



Central Committee

All-Union Communist Party

Com. Molotov,

Decipher Immediately

Ending of Coded Telegram No.2

In Bukharin's theses, you must definitely note Zinoviev's very important mistakes on the matter of the British strike, on Pilsudski,3 and on the Chinese revolution4 and criticize them thoroughly in whatever way you choose, because these mistakes are in the air and find support among those in the Comintern with rightist tendencies.

1)   At the very first session of the Politburo during the start of the British strike, Zinoviev came with a draft of directives for the

British Communists that he had developed with the help of certain Comintern members who are among those sympathizing with the opposition. In the draft, as Politburo members well know, there turned out not to be a single word on the need to shift the general strike toward greater political struggle; nor was there any hint of the slogan "Down with the Conservative government, long live the workers' government." The majority of the Politburo introduced this new directive and new slogan into Zinoviev's draft as amendments that Zinoviev was obliged to accept. This omission of the most important slogan about the strike movement in England is not trivial; it plays into Thomas's hands. 5 There is no guarantee that such mistakes will not be repeated in the work of Zinoviev and his supporters. In order to protect the party from such blatant mistakes, Zinoviev's mistakes must be discussed in our theses.

2)   At the notorious Politburo session about a month ago, Zinovievcame with a purely liquidationist proposal about the desirability of the Communist Party quitting the Kuomintang,6 thus [leaving it] in the hands of its right wing. When the Politburo majority remarked that Zinoviev's proposal would lead to the liquidation of the revolutionary movement in China, Zinoviev and Radek, after unsuccessful attempts to defend their proposal, were forced to withdraw it and accept the Politburo's proposal to intensify the work of the Communist Party within the Kuomintang and to concentrate our efforts against the right wing within the Kuomintang. Since there is no guarantee that Zinoviev won't make such a mistake again, it's essential to discuss this in our theses.

3)   At a meeting of the Politburo's Polish Commission,7 on the day the first reports were received about Pilsudski's taking Warsaw, Zinoviev presented, in the presence of Unshlikht, Dzerzhinsky,

Domski, Wenecki, and many others, a draft of directives to the

Polish Communists, saying that the Communists' neutrality in Pilsudski's struggle with the fascists was impermissible. Thus according to Zinoviev's theses, Pilsudski is viewed as an antifascist and the Pilsudski movement is viewed as a revolutionary movement, but there is not a single word about the fact that Communist support of Pilsudski is even more impermissible.

The majority of the commission introduced a basic amendment on the impermissibility of supporting Pilsudski, and Zinoviev was obliged to accept this amendment, revising the entire draft of the directive. I am certain that the mistakes of the Polish Communists about which Zinoviev so gleefully writes now are entirely a reflection of Zinoviev's deeply opportunistic view of the alleged revolutionary nature of the Pilsudski adventure. Because there is no guarantee that these mistakes will not be repeated, it is essential to take account of them in Bukharin's theses. In informing you about all this, I ask you to circulate this document among our closest friends.

3 June, 9:00 P.M.


1.   RTsKhIDNI f. 558, op. 1, d. 5297.

2.   No telegram number was provided in the original.

3.   In May 1926, as a result of Pilsudski's military coup, the socalled Sanats regime was established in Poland.

4.   On the debates between the Politburo majority and theopposition concerning the issue of the Chinese revolution and the policy regarding the Kuomintang, see the letters for 1927.

5.   James Henry Thomas is used here as a symbol of the moderatetrade union leaders that Communists felt had betrayed the working class by calling off the general strikeU.S. Ed.

6.   The Kuomintang (National People's Party) was founded in 1912 and was the ruling party in China from the mid-1920s through the 1940s.

7.   No information about the creation or activity of the Politburo'sPolish Commission has been discovered in the Politburo minutes.


Letter 18

[3 June 1926]


Sent from Moscow, 3 June 1926

Received and deciphered June 3

Tiflis, Transcaucasian Regional Committee

To: Ordzhonikidze

Decipher immediately for Com. Stalin

Yesterday countertheses about England, signed by Bukharin,

Tomskii, and Molotov, were sent out to all the members of the Politburo. The remainder have given their consent in full. Today the British issues were discussed at the Politburo, with a transcript made at Zinoviev's insistence. We received your telegram during the meeting. We state our absolute agreement with you, including the details. The battle at the Politburo was tremendoussix hours. Trotsky voted in favor of Zinoviev. Zinoviev's theses were rejected. The theses of the three were accepted in principle and sent to the commission. Zinoviev demanded that he be allowed to defend his point of view in the Comintern. The Politburo declined his request. Trotsky also voted against this. Details to follow in a letter. We're sending the theses of the three today to Sergo [Ordzhonikidze]. We are also sending them to Sochi.


1. RTsKhIDNI f. 558, op. 1, d. 3266, l. 3.


Letter 19

[4 June 1926]



Central Committee

All-Union Communist Party

Decipher Immediately

The coded telegram was received. I knew that there would be complete agreement. Continue on in the same spirit. Greetings.


Deciphered and sent on 4 June, 11:00 A.M.

1. RTsKhIDNI f. 558, op. 1, d. 3340.


Letter 20

[15 June 1926]


Greetings, Molotov,

Greetings, Bukharin,

I returned to Sochi today, 15 June. In Tiflis I came down with a stomachache (I got food poisoning from some fish) and am now having a hard time recovering. Today I read your letters (undated) and Bukharin's letter (also undated). My opinion:

1)              Your theses turned out nicely. Grisha [Zinoviev] should beexposed on the Polish issue as well, since he himself dragged Warski into it and now tries to foist him on you. Really, Grisha's brazenness knows no bounds.

2)              There was no need to tell the Comintern that the theses passedunanimously. The unanimity was formal, but in reality there was no unanimity whatsoever. To cover up the disagreement with Grisha now would mean to abet him in his anti-party work and put ourselves in a stupid position.

3)              If Lashevich is organizing illegal meetings, if Grisha Zinoviev isorganizing R. Fischer's flight to Germany,1 and if Sokolnikov is being sent to France to the Congress2it means that they have decided, along with Trotsky, to break up the party through the Comintern. I don't really believe that's possible, but a lot of conflict is quite possible. From this it follows that we are comingwe must come, if we want to protect the party from any surprisesto the need for a new regrouping of people from the opposition. As to the measures against Lashevich, you are correct. It would also be good to prepare the issue regarding Zinoviev one way or the other. The best way, I think, would be to give the  plenum the Politburo's report on the Special File 3 issues and, when discussing it in the plenum, mention all the squabbles in the Politburo, so that the plenum can have its say.4

4)              If Trotsky tells Bukharin that he soon hopes to have a majorityin the party, that means he hopes to intimidate and blackmail Bukharin. How little he knows and how much he underestimates

Bukharin! But I think pretty soon the party will punch the mugs of Trotsky and Grisha along with Kamenev and turn them into isolated splitters, like Shliapnikov.

5)              Sokolnikov should be recalled from France immediately, and theFrench Central Committee should be told that Sokolnikov has no assignments on French matters from either the party's Central Committee or from the Comintern.

6)              I am not alarmed by economic matters. Rykov will be able totake care of them. The opposition wins absolutely zero points on economic matters.

7)              It's very good that Bukharin has made up his mind to report inMoscow and Peter [Petrograd].5

Well, goodbye for now.

Best regards,

J. Stalin

15 June 1926

P.S. Rudzutak together with Mikoian proposes postponing the plenum to 20 July.6 I have no objections. J. Stalin

1.   The reference is to Ruth Fischer's travel from Moscow to

Germany for medical treatment without the sanction of the Comintern's Executive Committee.

2.   The reference is to the V Congress of the French CommunistParty, which took place in Lille on 2126 June 1926.

3.   The Special File contained the final decisions on a number ofissues that were treated with the highest degree of secrecy in the Soviet Union. Documents given this classification are still in the Russian Presidential Archive and are inaccessible to researchers.

4.   On 17 June 1926, at a Politburo meeting, the agenda for the

Central Committee plenum for 10 July 1926 was approved: 1) new elections for the soviets; 2) the housing issue; 3) grain procurement; 4) a resolution of the Central Control Commission presidium on Lashevich, Belenkii et al. (RTsKhIDNI f. 17, op. 3, d. 568, l. 3).

On 8 July 1926, the Politburo decided to add an additional item, the British miners' strikes, to the agenda (ibid., d. 573, l. 2).

5.   Bukharin gave a report to Moscow party activists on 8 June1926, and to Leningrad party activists on 11 June 1926.

6.   A joint plenum of the Central Committee and the CentralControl Commission of the party opened on 14 July 1926.


Letter 21

[25 June 1926]

Sochi, 6/25/26

To Molotov, Rykov, Bukharin, and other friends,

I have long pondered the matter of the Lashevich affair, going back and forth, linking it with the question of the opposition groups in general; several times I came to various opinions and have finally settled on the following:

1)              Before the appearance of the Zinoviev group, those withoppositional tendencies (Trotsky, the workers' opposition, and others) behaved more or less loyally and were more or less tolerable;

2)              With the appearance of the Zinoviev group, those withoppositional tendencies began to grow arrogant and break the bounds of loyalty;

3)              The Zinoviev group became the mentor of everyone in theopposition who was for splitting the party; in effect it has become the leader of the splitting tendencies in the party;

4)              This role fell to Zinoviev's group because a) it is betteracquainted with our methods than any other group, b) it is stronger in general than the other groups and has control of the Comintern Executive Committee ([Zinoviev is] chairman of the Comintern Executive Committee), which represents a serious force; c) because of this it behaves more arrogantly than any other group, providing examples of ''boldness" and "determination" to those with other tendencies;

5)              Therefore the Zinoviev group is now the most harmful, and theblow must be struck precisely against this group at the plenum; 1

6)              Not only should Lashevich be removed from the Central Committee, Zinoviev should be removed from the Politburo2 with a warning that he will be removed from the Central Committee if he does not cease his work in preparing a schism;

7)              Either we strike this blow now with the calculation that Trotskyand the others will once again become loyal, or we risk turning the Central Committee and its bodies into nonviable institutions incapable of work, and we will very soon have to deal with a tremendous fuss in the party that will harm the cause and our unity;

8)              It's possible that after this, Zinoviev will submit his resignationfrom the Comintern. We should accept it. At any rate, after being removed from the Politburo, Zinoviev can no longer be chairman; all the member parties will understand that and will draw the necessary conclusion themselves. In the Comintern, we will then shift from a system with a chairman to a system with a secretariat.3 This will disarm the Zinoviev group and liquidate Zinoviev's arrogance in preparing the schism (remember what was said about Stockholm at the Congress!);4

9)              I assure you that in the party and the country this affair will getby without the slightest complications no one will feel sorry for Zinoviev, because they know him well;

10)        Previously I had thought that a broad resolution on unity was needed at the plenum. Now I think that it would be better to leave such a resolution for the [XV] Conference ([where we could provide] a theoretical foundation and so on) or for the Congress. At the plenum, we can and should limit ourselves to a brief resolution on unity in the narrow sense of the word in connection with the Lashevich affair, citing Lenin's resolution on unity at the Tenth Congress. 5 This resolution should say that Zinoviev is being removed from the Politburo not because of differences of opinion with the Central Committeethere are no less profound disagreements with Trotsky, after all, although the issue of removing Trotsky from the Politburo is not on the agenda but because of his (Zinoviev's) policy of schism. I think this will be better: the workers will understand it, since they value party unity, and this will be a serious warning for the other opposition groups. Dzerzhinsky can be brought into the Politburo to replace Zinoviev. The party will take this well. Or the number of Politburo members can be raised to ten by bringing in both Dzerzhinsky and Rudzutak. Obviously, with a broad plenum resolution (the previous plan), we would be forced to unite Zinoviev and Trotsky officially in one camp, which is perhaps premature and strategically irrational now. Better to break them individually. Let Trotsky and Piatakov defend Zinoviev, and we will listen. At any rate that will be better at this stage. Then we'll see.

We'll speak in more detail when I come to Moscow. I think I'll be in Moscow three or four days before the plenum. What do you say to that?

P.S. I don't know about you, but I think that with the Lashevich affair, the Zinovievites have cut their own throats, especially if this affair is linked with the Guralski affair. And indeed it must be linked.

Best regards, J. Stalin.

1.   A statement from thirteen members of the plenum (I. Avdeev, I.Bakaev, L. Kamenev, N. Krupskaia, M. Lashevich, G. Lizdin, N. Muralov, A. Peterson, G. Piatakov, K. Solovev, L. Trotsky, G. Yevdokimov, G. Zinoviev) was addressed to the plenum but not incorporated into the record (RTsKhIDNI f. 17, op. 2, d. 696, l. 68):

The question of the "affair" of Com. Lashevich, placed on the 24 June agenda of this plenum by decision of the Politburo, was turned into the "affair" of Com. Zinoviev at the very last moment by a 20 July resolution of the Central Control Commission. We consider it necessary to state that in the draft resolution of the Central Control Commission there is not a single fact, not a single report, not a single suspicion that was not known six weeks ago when the Central Control Commission passed a resolution on the "affair" of Com. Lashevich and others. The name of Com. Zinoviev does not appear in that resolution. Yet, in the final draft of the resolution it is stated completely categorically that "all threads" lead to Com. Zinoviev, as chairman of the Comintern Executive Committee. This matter, as is abundantly clear to everyone, was decided not by the Central Control Commission but by a group whose leader is Com. Stalin. We are dealing here with a new stage in the implementation of a plan that was conceived long ago and is being systematically carried out. . . .

2.   By a decision of the July 1926 joint plenum of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission, Zinoviev was removed from the Politburo, and Lashevich was expelled as candidate member of the Central Committee (KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh [Resolutions of the CPSU], vol. 4 [Moscow, 1984], 36).

3.   The VII expanded plenum of the Comintern's ExecutiveCommittee of 22 November 1926 voted to "relieve Com. Zinoviev of his deputies as chairman of the Comintern's Executive Committee and of his work in the Comintern." The plenum eliminated the position of chairman of the Comintern's Executive Committee. A new executive body of the Comintern was formed: the Political Secretariat.

4.   The reference is to Krupskaia's speech at the XIV Party

Congress on 20 December 1925. At that time, in defense of Zinoviev, she said (XIV Congress of the Russian Communist Party [Bolshevik], Transcript [Moscow, 1926], 165, 166):

Our Congress must be concerned to search and find the correct line. That is its task. We cannot reassure ourselves with the idea that the majority is always right. The history of our party includes congresses when the majority was wrong. Let us recall, for example, the Stockholm Congress [IV Joint Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party in 1906, at which the Bolsheviks had fewer representatives than the Mensheviks]. The majority should not be content with being the majority but should dispassionately search for the correct decision.

5.   In 1921, the X Party Congress passed a resolution banningfactions within the partyU.S. Ed.


Letter 22

[3 August 1926]

8/3 (Tuesday)

Molotov, 1

1)              Kamenev has turned in his resignation before the review in thePolitburo of the question of the export-import plan, and he proposes that Mikoian replace him.2

2)              The Politburo has reviewed the question of the export-importplan and pronounced it "unfavorable," having created the Rudzutak commission to improve matters in the Commissariat of Trade.3

3)              We will accept Kamenev's resignation on Thursday (5 August) and appoint Mikoian, after polling the Central Committee members on this matter.4

4)              We're thinking of sending Kamenev to Japan and Aralov toChina (the Chinese government demands Karakhan's removal, and we'll have to do it); Kopp could perhaps go to Italy, by recalling Kerzhentsev to Moscow, since he hasn't worked out in Italy.5

5)              Things are generally not going so badly. All the big Westernparties have come out in support of our Central Committee (including both France and Czechoslovakia) against the opposition.

6)              Bukharin has still not returned.6 There are six people now in the Politburo: Rykov, Rudzutak, Kalinin, Stalin, Trotsky, and Kamenev (Kamenev votes since there are no other candidates in Moscow).

7)              You already know about Kuibyshev's appointment to theSupreme Economic Council.7 The opposition is keeping a low profile in the Politburo. Greetings to all friends in Sochi.

Best regards,


Send me a transcript of your speeches as soon as possible. We decided to publish the Lashevich affair in the next issue, that is, the debates on this affair. 8

1.               In the upper right-hand corner is Molotov's notation: "FromMoscow (?). 1926=?"

2.               Kamenev notes in his letter to the Central Committee of 25 July1926 (RTsKhIDNI f. 17, op. 3, d. 579, ll. 13, 14):

The work of the Commissariat of Trade involves a large amount of economic maneuvering and requires 100 percent support and complete trust on the part of the Politburo and Labor Defense Council. . . . This support and trust in my work at the

Commissariat of Trade was missing from the Politburo and Labor Defense Council from the very beginning. . . . It is entirely clear that as long as I am at the head of it, the Commissariat of Trade cannot count on any trust or any real support. . . . There exists an intention to use the entirely unavoidable mistakes of the Commissariat of Trade, not for helpful criticism, but for political purposes. Such an important government body cannot work in such an atmosphere, and I

cannot take responsibility for fulfilling its responsibilities. . . . I assume that Com. Mikoian, who has repeatedly been named in recent days in the capacity of [head of] the Commissariat of Trade, will be able to cope with this task.

3.               The agenda item "On progress in the fulfillment of the foreigncurrency plan of 19251926 (in trade and nontrade areas)" was reviewed at the Politburo on 29 July 1926 (ibid., d. 577, ll. 4, 5).

4.               On 5 August 1926, the Politburo dismissed Kamenev from hiswork at the Commissariat of Trade and appointed Mikoian commissar for domestic and foreign trade (ibid., d. 579, l. 3).

5.               In Bukharin's speech to the July plenum of the CentralCommittee on the Politburo's decisions regarding the British miners' strikes and the events in Poland and China, he states (ibid., op. 2, d. 246, vyp. 1, l. 15):

We had the issue of the Chinese Eastern Railway, the main strategic artery, which is our revolutionary forefinger pointed into China. The comrades in the opposition have proposed that we get rid of the Chinese Eastern Railway as quickly as possible, to give it up, since it is a "blister" on our foot. . . . But when have we ever turned down revolutionary opportunities merely because they were fraught with difficulties? Such suggestions were made, but they were rejected. After we had         suffered a number of defeats in China, a certain diplomatic reshuffling was proposed: to send Kopp to China and Karakhan to Japan. The point was that a furious campaign was being waged against Karakhan, who embodied our support of the national revolutionary movement, whereas Com. Kopp was known for his skeptical attitude to the whole nationalrevolutionary movement.

On 12 August 1926, the Politburo decided to appoint Kopp Soviet representative in Italy, freeing him from his responsibilities in Japan, and to appoint [L. B.] Kamenev representative to Japan (ibid., op. 3, d. 580, l. 5). On 30 December 1926, Aralov was appointed Soviet representative to the national government in China.

6.               Bukharin was in Leningrad at the time. On 28 July 1926, he gavea speech to the Leningrad Party Organization's activists.

7.               On 29 July 1926, the Politburo appointed Kuibyshev chairmanof the Supreme Economic Council (ibid., op. 3, d. 577, l. 4). 8. A transcript of the discussion of the Lashevich affair at the July 1926 plenum of the Central Committee was included in the fourth issue of the transcript of the July plenum of the Central Committee for 1926 (ibid., op. 2, d. 246, vyp. 4).


Letter 23

[27 August 1926]

To Molotov (for our friends), 1

1)              The delegation of British coal miners should be arriving any day,if it has not already arrived. They should be met "by all the rules of the game" and as much money as possible should be collected for them. I've heard that the Americans have promised 1 million dollars. We have to collect and send possibly 1 million or 2 million rubles (less than the Americans is impossible) or perhaps a whole 3 million. The situation in England is serious, and it obliges us to make serious "sacrifices."2

2)              I think we must tell Andreev that he should insist on anembargo.3 The embargo is now the most urgent issue. The British Communists are waging an intensified campaign for the embargo. The General Council should not be allowed to get away with mere calls to collect money. That is not enough now.Now [we] should push the embargo as hard as possible. By the way, how is Andreev's work coming along?4

3)              I think that neither our own press nor the British Communistpress has exploited Thomas's and Henderson's fleeing from an accounting of the congresses of the "Labour Party" and the "General Council's trade unions" (they "went on vacation," one to Canada and the other to Australia).5 We should trumpet in both our own and the British press that these traitors fled from responsibility, so that when the strike was discussed, their absence would keep them from being insulted. We should broadcast the fact that the General Council and the Executive Committee of the Labour Party helped them flee from an accounting, and thus took upon themselves the responsibility for their betrayals and so on. It's strange that the British (and our) press is silent about it (I read the British Communist newspapers, and I know that these facts are not exposed there.)

4)              How did the Comintern react to your letter about the campaignto dissolve Parliament and have new elections? What do the British Communists think about it?

5)              You should not indefinitely postpone the matter of publishingthe Comintern's Kommunisticheskiy internatsional [Communist International] as a weekly. You and Bukharin should get that going.6 It will be enormously important for improving and reorganizing all the work of the Comintern and its member parties. What does Bukharin think of this?

6)              How is the economic situation doing? How are things with[agricultural] procurements? How about exports? Give me a brief report if there is time.

Well, all the best,

J. Stalin

27 August 1926

Re: Stalin's letter (of 27 August)7

On Point 1, a) Tomskii has promised to organize today an appeal from the Central Committee of Miners to the British coal miners regarding the four-month strike. The appeal should say that our support will continue and will be the same as before. It will say directly that [our] Central Committee of Miners is certain that the wish of the Trade Union Council for 1 percent [contribution] will be passed. This is important for today because on 2 September there will be a conference of striking coal miners. 8

b) We should make a decision to send the 2 million rubles at a ceremonial meeting between the trade unions and a delegation of miners right before the Trades Union Congress (before 6 September). We'll discuss this last item b) at the Politburo.

I am entirely for points 2 and 3. Plus, a campaign should be launched, especially and above all in England, with political slogans (dissolution of the Parliament, "Down with the Conservative government, for a genuine workers' government").


1 September

1.   Shvarts checked with me today about sending the greetings andshould clear it with Molotov at two o'clock, 1 September.

2.   I'm for aid, as Molotov and I agreed.

3.   I don't object to exposing Thomas and Henderson, but I don'tthink it will produce a serious political effect for us.


1 September

1.   In the upper left-hand corner is the note: "We have read this.

Agreed. Bukharin, J. Rudzutak, V. Kuibyshev, N. Yanson, Yem. Yaroslavskii."

2.   As a sign of solidarity with the striking miners, the Trade UnionCouncil decided to allocate a portion of one day's pay to the strikers. The British General Council was sent 2.25 million rubles, which it refused to accept. Subsequently, at the request of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain, the Trade Union Council sent these funds directly to the federation.

3.   The reference is to an embargo on coal shipments to GreatBritain.

4.   A. Andreev took part in the work of the Anglo-RussianCommittee (see note 2 in letter 26).

5.   James Henry Thomas is used here as a symbol of the moderatetrade union leaders that Communists felt had betrayed the working class by calling off the general strikeU.S. Ed.; Arthur Henderson was secretary of the British Labour Party from 1911 until 1934.

6.   The journal Kommunisticheskiy internatsional, the organ of the

Comintern's Executive Committee, was published from 1919 to 1943. By decision of the Comintern presidium on 15 September 1926, the journal became a weekly.

7.   The following notes from Molotov and Tomskii are appended to

Stalin's letter.

8.   On 4 September 1926, the Politburo accepted by voice voteTomskii's draft of the statement from the Trade Union Council to the British Federation of Miners (RTsKhIDNI f. 17, op. 3, d. 585, l.3).


Letter 24

[30 August 1926]

Hello, Molotov,

1)              Matters are coming to a head and we cannot avoid raising theissue of removing Grigorii [Zinoviev] from the Comintern. This is indicated by the resolution of a number of the Western parties (England, Germany) on his removal. The first agenda item ("international questions") for our (forthcoming) conference also speaks to this. It would be incomprehensible and unnatural if we (the Russian Communists) were to "squirm out of" the question of removing him at the same time as circumstances make the question unavoidable and two Western parties have definitively proposed removing him. Therefore, we can and must make a decision about the expediency of removing him. 1

2)              The formal handling of the matter should be done at anexpanded plenum of the Comintern Executive Committee. If all parties or a great majority of them speak in favor of removing Grigorii, such an expression of will can be safely considered the authentic will of all the parties, that is, of the entire Congress. A final decision can be made by the [next] Congress.

2)             We should already be thinking about the outline or the first (rough!) draft of the theses on the trade unions and the economic situation. Are there any such rough drafts in the Secretariat, that is, did the Secretariat receive these "drafts"? If not, we have to hurry.3

3)              Don't you think it would be expedient to introduce to the tradeunions a "system" or an "institution" of activists by unions, or perhaps by various branches of the manufacturing trade unions? If this "system" has not yet been introduced, it ought to be, because it would both promote new people and bring the trade unions closer to production and, in general, would invigorate the trade unions. It is only necessary to ensure that the activist group (in textiles, petroleum, coal, and so on) is broad, that it consist not only of trade union officials, not only of Communists, but of nonparty workers as well (say fifty-fifty), and so on. What do you think about this?

4)              Don't you think that the matter of Kamenev must be raised at theCentral Committee plenum? Is the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs working to get Kamenev set up in Japan?

Well, all the best,

J. Stalin

30 August 1926

P.S. I read Stetskii's article on the new opposition.4 The article is good, but there are a few individual apples in it that spoil the whole barrel. According to Stetskii, it seems that we are not supposed to strive to achieve "complete predominance of the proletarians and the semi-proletarians in the soviets." That's not correct. The difference with the opposition is not in that, but, first, in that the proletariat cannot physically predominate in those districts where  there are very few proletarians; second, in that the predomination must be understood as political and not just statistical; and third, in that we radically disagree with the methods of achieving the predominance that the opposition has recommended to us. It's very bad that no one helped Stetskii correct such blunders.

1.   The October joint plenum of the Central Committee and CentralControl Commission passed the following resolution (KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh [Resolutions of the CPSU], vol. 4 [Moscow, 1984], 67, 68):

By virtue of the fact that Com. Zinoviev does not express the line of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik) in the Communist International and, because of his factional activity, has lost the trust of a number of Communist parties (German, British, French, American, etc.), who have announced this in their resolutions, the Central Committee and Central Control Commission do not find it possible for Com. Zinoviev to continue working in the Communist International.

2.   Stalin's repeat of "2" is present in the original.

3.   Stalin's letter was written on the eve of the XV Party

Conference, which took place from 26 October to 3 November 1926. A report was heard at the conference on the work and future tasks of the trade unions. At the end of 1926, the VII Congress of Trade Unions was convened, apparently in response to Stalin's wish to make the trade unions more active.

4.   Stetskii's article, "Kak novaia oppozitsiia prishla k trotskizmu"(How the new opposition came to Trotskyism), was published in Pravda on 26 August 1926.

Letter 25

[4 September 1926]


Molotovich, 1,2

Sergo was here to see me the other day. He is furious with the Central Committee's statement concerning his recall.3 He views the formulation of the recall as punishment, as an insult given by the Central Committee for some unknown reason. He feels that the phrase about Sergo being transferred to Rostov "in Mikoian's place" is a hint that Mikoian is higher than Sergo, that Sergo is only good enough to be Mikoian's deputy, and so on. He understands that the Central Committee never had and never could have a desire to offend him, to insult him, to place him underneath Mikoian, and so on, but he believes that those who receive a copy of the Central Committee's resolution could understand it as in fact an attack on Sergo, and it should be formulated better and more precisely. I think that we must satisfy him, since he is objectively put in the position of an offended person because of an accidental mistake in the formulation. The formulation could be corrected approximately as follows:4

1)   To comply with Com. Ordzhonikidze's request to relieve him ofhis duties as first secretary of the Transcaucasian Regional Party Committee and reject the demand of the Transcaucasian organizations (the national central committees and the Transcaucasian Regional Committee) to keep Com. Ordzhonikidze in his old post. 5

2)   To postpone for several months, in view of Com.

Ordzhonikidze's definite refusal to transfer immediately to Moscow,6 the question of appointing Com. Ordzhonikidze commissar of Worker-Peasant Inspection and deputy chairman of the Council of Commissars.7

3)   To accept the proposal of the North Caucasian Regional Party

Committee to confirm Com. Ordzhonikidze as first secretary of the North Caucasian Committee (if Com. Ordzhonikidze consents).

The sooner you take care of this little thing, the better, and then a new copy of the Central Committee's resolution will have to be sent to everyone who received the old copy.

You might say that this is all nonsense. Perhaps. But I must tell you that this nonsense may seriously harm the cause, if we don't correct it.

Nazaretian is playing a very unsavory role in this affair, which only wounds Sergo's pride and eggs him onI don't know what his specific purpose is.

Well, all the best,

J. Stalin

1.   By turning Molotov's last name into a patronymic, Stalin isdemonstrating informality and friendshipTrans.

2.   In the upper left-hand corner is Molotov's notation: "1926-?"

3.   On 30 August 1926, the Politburo approved by voice vote theproposal of the North Caucasian Regional Party Organization to recall Ordzhonikidze from the Transcaucasus and to confirm him as first secretary of the North Caucasian Regional Committee in place of Mikoian (RTsKhIDNI f. 17, op. 3, d. 584, l. 5).

4.   Stalin crossed out the next phrase: "The approved proposal isadopted."

5.   On 1 September 1926, the following letter was sent to Stalin(RTsKhIDNI f. 85, op. 26, d. 5):



In connection with the proposed transfer of Sergo from the Transcaucasus, we, a group of his comrades who have worked with him for a long time in the Transcaucasus, consider it our party duty to warn and caution you, as the leader of our entire      party and country, of the difficulties that could arise in our work and also to provide an evaluation of the situation that may emerge in the Transcaucasus and the individual Transcaucasian republics without Sergo, as well as [raise] the question of his significant role in our very complicated situation.

First of all, two caveats:

1)   In order not to be accused of defending narrow localinterests, we state that we understand perfectly well and are aware of the urgent need to strengthen the leadership from the ranks of those who have spent many years as our most prominent comrades. But we cannot for a minute forget that in the tranquil and peaceful construction of socialism in our Union as a whole, tranquility in the Transcaucasus and the peaceful coexistence of its peoples play a very great role.

It seems unnecessary to mention the enormous significance of   the Transcaucasus in the life of the Union to one who has taught us to carry out a cautious, flexible policy, imbued with an internationalist spirit.

2)   We also do not want to be accused of intimidation with thegoal of keeping Sergo in the Transcaucasus. We do not think that you suspected us of being led in this matter by a feeling of personal attachment to Sergo rather than an awareness of political necessity and expediency.

The alarm that naturally arises in each of us and in each rankand-file member of the party has a very serious foundation.  Everyone recalls how the ongoing work of the Transcaucasian party bodies and the Soviet, trade union, and organizational bodies was set up, what difficulties were overcome in the past, with what efforts the peaceful coexistence of the peoples of the Caucasus was established, and what role Com. Sergo played in that work. Just as clearly we see all the difficulties [that will   arise] in future work without a person who is able to unite around himself all the people most active and decent in our republic and in the entire Transcaucasus without regard to nationality.

The first important difficulty that will arise after the departure of Com. Sergo from the Caucasus is the strengthening of elements sowing mistrust and ethnic enmity among the nationalities of the Transcaucasus. The mutual trust of peoples in the Caucasus found a real bulwark not only in the political line of the highest party bodies but also in the person of Com. Sergo himself; with his departure, this trust could be shaken.  Sergo was able, with unshakable firmness, confidently and without fears and glances over his shoulder, to implement this line without leaning toward the nationalist extortions of the "Hurrah" patriots in the republics nor toward the ultrainternationalist phrase-mongers about which both Ilich [Lenin] and you in particular warned.

The second difficulty, no less important, is the strengthening inside the party of elements that were suppressed until now by the authority of Com. Sergo and who will, with his departure, undoubtedly open furious fire on the majority of the party and its leading bodies, making use of the platform of the "new opposition" and hiding behind the names of its leaders. There are already obvious signs of this. Sergo's departure will unleash these elements as well.

The third difficulty arises from the complicated relations among the three republics. Com. Sergo's authority in all three republics is extremely high. There isn't a corner of these republics where Sergo's name isn't known. Sergo's name is linked not only with liberation from the landowners and the nobility and with national cultural liberation from the chauvinist policy of tsarism but also with the political stability of the republics and the federation and to an even greater extent with the stable peace between the Transcaucasian nationalities.

The fourth difficulty arises from the impossibility of replacing Com. Sergo with someone of equal authority or someone capable of resolving the complex issues of our daily life and of our overall policy with the same energy, discernment, and objectivity. Although the nationalities problem has been resolved in principle, a correct, practical implementation in real life is still required; the slightest deviation or violation of this policy will cause the nationality issue to spring up again in full bloom. The distribution among the republics of any material wealth, funds, and so on will provoke the nationalities issue. All issues here are complicated by the ethnic aspect (land, pastures, water rights, etc.). Under these conditions, Com. Sergo's exclusive authority in all three republics has been of crucial significance in resolving these issues, and under his leadership, they have been settled smoothly, easily, and without offending anyone. Sergo's objectivity is above any suspicion, starting with Khulo and Lanchkhuta and ending with Zangezur and Shemakha. . . .

This list of difficulties is hardly complete. In sum, all sorts of difficulties could create a very dangerous situation in the  Transcaucasus. . . .

We openly state that we cannot cope with the work that Com. Sergo was able to. All of our fears force us to ask you to note these concerns when you make the final decision in the matter of Sergo; in calculating the political interests of both the Union as a whole and the particular interests of the Transcaucasus and its republics, we ask you to refrain from the proposed transfer of Com. Sergo to Moscow.

This letter was already written when we received Com.Molotov's telegram informing the Transcaucasian Regional Party Committee of Com. Sergo's appointment as secretary of    the North Caucasian Regional Committee (in place of Com. Mikoian). . . .

With all the sincerity and candor characteristic of Bolsheviks, we must inform you that we consider this decision a      mistake. . . .

Proceeding from all of these concerns, the Transcaucasian Regional Committee, on behalf of all the party organizations of the Transcaucasus, urgently requests the Central Committee to review its decision of 8/30/26.

1. Makharadze 2. Lukashin. 3. Nazaretian. 4. Eliava. 5.

Kartvelishvili. 6. Karaev. 7. Guseinov. 8. Kasimov. 9. R.

Akhundov. 10. Mravian. 11. V. Sturua. 12. Asribekov. 13. P.         

Ivanov 14. A. Gegechkori. 15. D. Bagirov . 16. Mirzoian. 17. K. Rumiantsev. 18. M. Orakhelashvili.


On 9 September 1926, the Politburo rejected the request from the Transcaucasian Regional Committee to review Ordzhonikidze's appointment as first secretary of the North Caucasian Regional Committee (ibid., f. 17, op. 3, d. 586, ll. 4, 5).

 6.               The original text of the second point was as follows: ''Theappointment of Com. Ordzhonikidze as commissar of WorkerPeasant Inspection and deputy chairman of the Council of Commissars should be postponed for several months in view of Com. Ordzhonikidze's refusal of immediate" and so on.

This text was crossed out by Stalin himself.

7.               The question of Ordzhonikidze's appointment as commissar ofWorker-Peasant Inspection was decided in July 1926, as shown by a coded telegram from Stalin to Ordzhonikidze of 27 July 1926 (ibid., f. 558, op. 1, d. 3259):

For Sergo. In view of Kuibyshev's promotion to the Supreme Economic Council, we will raise the issue of your appointment as commissar of Worker-Peasant Inspection and deputy to Rykov. For formal reasons the matter of a new chairman for the Central Control Commission will remain open until the Party Conference, although Kuibyshev will leave the chairmanship at the next Central Control Commission plenum. In reporting this to you, we ask you not to kick up a fuss; nothing will come of it anyway. Stalin.

And on 29 July 1926 (ibid., d. 3341):

The suggestion was not mine, but all our friends', including Rykov along with Molotov. The question has been put off for several weeks.


Letter 26

[8 September 1926]


I received your letter. 1

1)              Our delegation in Berlin handled itself rather well.2 The report of the Trade Union Council is generally all right. The appeal from the Trade Union Council is good. Tomskii's interview is good. I do not insist on a loan [as opposed to an outright grant] to the General Council or the Federation of Coal Miners. I think that the question of the loan can be postponed for the time being. I raised the issue of the loan in order to show "Europe" that we are not a republic "made out of money," but people with calculation, able to save a kopeck, that we give loans in order to be repaid, and so forth. But this matter can be postponed or perhaps dropped altogether.

2)              I already sent a coded telegram about China. I am certain thatKopp and Serebriakov will not carry out our policy; they will only give Chang [Tso-lin] the opportunity to exploit our minor differences and ruin our cause. Sending Kopp back to Japan will mean virtually negating the Politburo's decision on Kopp and Kamenev. It will not look good if decisions made by the Politburo with one set of members are nullified by the same Politburo with another set of members without sufficient grounds.3 Of course, at present you can see things better [in Moscow], but we still ought not run from one extreme to another because Chang, encouraged by Kopp, has taken it into his head to blackmail us.

Well, all the best.


J. Stalin

 1.   In the upper left-hand corner is Molotov's notation: "1926=?"

2.   In August 1926 at a meeting of the Anglo-Russian Committee inBerlin, the Soviet trade union delegation proposed launching a broad campaign of support for the British miners' struggle that included declaring an embargo on the shipping of coal to Great Britain. A delegation of the British General Council rejected these proposals.

3.   On 12 August 1926, when the decision was made to appointKopp Soviet ambassador to Italy and Kamenev Soviet ambassador to Japan, Politburo members Bukharin, Rudzutak, Rykov, Stalin, Trotsky, and candidate Politburo members Andreev, Kaganovich, and Kamenev were present at the Politburo session (RTsKhIDNI f.

17, op. 3, d. 580, l. 1). On 2 September 1926, the following

Politburo members were in the session: Bukharin, Kalinin, Molotov, Rudzutak, Tomskii and candidate members Andreev, Mikoian, and Petrovskii.


Letter 27

[16 September 1926]

Hello, Molotov, 1

I received your letter of 12 September.

1)              It's good that the misunderstandings with Serebriakov and Kopphave finally been eliminated.2 Otherwise we would have demolished our own policy, those people would have been hostage to Chang and the Japanese, and we in turn would have found ourselves hostage to those people. Chang's strength derives, incidentally, from the fact that he now knows (Kopp and Serebriakov have let him know it) that we will not embark on military intervention, that even back then, half a year ago, we were not thinking of advancing on Harbin, that he thus has nothing to fear and can allow himself to be brazen, selling "such and such" to the Japanese or (especially) the British in order to get some sort of help. That's the whole point. Kopp and Serebriakov told Chang (because of their indiscretion) a secret of our diplomacy, the secret that we are only scaring Chang, but we will not go to war over the Chinese Eastern Railway. They got the idea they could buy off Chang and the Japanese with softness and gabbiness! Obviously they also had a factional purpose here, carried out according to the line of the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs with the help of Litvinov.

2)              Now I can say with complete confidence that Chang will restricthimself to making jabs and that it will not come to seizing the Chinese Eastern Railway at this stage. Chang, and Japan (and England) through him, are probing, testing the strength of our resistance. That is precisely why Karakhan should not have been recalled now.3 But only for that reason. Because it seems to me that Karakhan, who has gotten himself utterly entangled in the underhanded schemes of the Fengites4 and other Chinese "generals," now constitutes a negative factor from the perspective of the substance of our policy in China. We will have to consider the issue of the Chinese Eastern Railway and Chang in the near future.

 3)              I did not write to you last time about Sergo in detail. But now Imust inform you that both Sergo andespeciallyNazaretian left me with an unpleasant impression in connection with the incident involving his "recall" from the Transcaucasus. I had it out with Sergo, called him petty, and stopped seeing him (he is now in New

Mt. Athos). The matter of the composition of the secretariat of the Transcaucasian Regional Party Committee must now be discussed separately. Nazaretian will not do as a replacement for Sergo in the secretariat (he does not have the stature; he's not serious and not always truthful).

4)              As far as the target figures go, I think that we have to put on thepressure now and definitely reduce the staffs of the commissariats and self-financing bodies from above. 5 Otherwise talk about economic austerity will remain empty. Industry's share must definitely be increased.

5)              Negotiations with Krupskaia are not only ill timed now, they are politically harmful. Krupskaia is a splitter (see her speech about "Stockholm" at the XIV Congress).6 She has to be beaten, as a splitter, if we want to preserve the unity of the party. We cannot have two contradictory lines, fighting splitters and making peace with them. That's not dialectics, that's nonsense and helplessness. It's possible that tomorrow Zinoviev will come out with a statement on Molotov's and Bukharin's "lack of principle," [saying] that Molotov and Bukharin ''offered" Zinoviev (through Krupskaia) a "bloc" and that he, Zinoviev, "rejected this intolerable flirtation with disdain," and so forth and so on.

6)              You are absolutely right about the "August bloc." Not just onebut several of Ilich's [Lenin's] articles should be published, and along with them, we should tell the story of how this bloc emerged. We must definitely unleash Sorin on this matter. A speech by you and Bukharin is absolutely necessary. It is a serious matter.7 7) It's good to hear that trade and wages are going fairly well.8

8)         It would not be a bad idea to destroy the Nechaev fledglings.9

9)         Demian's [Bednyi's] poem won't do. It's pretty dry and lifeless. Iwrote him about it.

10)   I am getting a little better, but my arm still hurts.

11)   Bukharin is a swine and perhaps worse than a swine10 because he considers it beneath his dignity to write even two lines about his impressions of Germany. I'll get my revenge for that.

Well, that's it for now.

Best regards,

J. Stalin

16 September 1926

Addition to the letter

An extremely bad impression is produced by the constant communiqués in the press (especially in the economic press) about the complete violation of directives from the Commissariat of Trade and the party by the cooperatives and by the local and central procurement agencies. The virtual impunity of these obvious criminals is grist for the mill of the Nepmen [private middlemen] and other enemies of the working classit demoralizes the entire economic and soviet apparat, it turns our directives and our party into meaningless toys. This can't be tolerated any further if we don't want to be captured by these bastards who claim to "accept" our directives but in reality mock us. I propose requiring the Commissariat of Trade (and the Worker-Peasant Inspection [to do the following]:

1)              The violators of the pricing policy on state procurements mustbe removed and turned over to the courts, and the names of the criminals published.

2)              Immediately remove and turn over to the courts the violators of the pricing policy concerning sales of industrial goods to the public (the reduction of retail prices), publish [their full names] and so on.

3)              Put out a party circular about how these violators are enemies ofthe working class and how the struggle with them should be merciless.

I adamantly insist on my proposal and ask all of you to accept it. Understand that without such measures we will lose the campaign in favor of Nepman elements who are sitting in our state procurement and cooperative bodies. Without these measures, it will be a disaster.

Awaiting your reply,

J. Stalin

16 September 1926

1.        In the upper left-hand corner of the letter there is a notation: "Wehave read it: Molotov, Bukharin, Uglanov, J. Rudzutak."

2.        On 7 September 1926, the Politburo made the following decisionregarding China (RTsKhIDNI f. 17, op. 3, d. 585, l. 3): "In light of the information from Com. Kopp on his need for continuing treatment, the resolution of the Politburo from 2 September of this year should be rescinded."

3.        On 27 August 1926, at Chicherin's suggestion, Karakhan wasrecalled to Moscow to report (ibid., d. 584, l. 5). On 21 September Karakhan was requested to speed up his trip to Moscow by not stopping in either Canton or Japan (ibid., d. 589, l. 3).

4.        Fengites were followers of Gen. Feng Yü-hsiang. In 1925 Sovietrepresentatives established contacts with Feng, whose units at that time controlled a number of districts in northern China and, by the end of 1925, occupied Tientsin. Military advisors and materials were sent under the command of Gen. Feng, who had declared himself an advocate of national revolution. In 1926, Feng maneuvered back and forth between various forces inside and outside China.

5.        On 20 September 1926, the Politburo made the followingdecision (ibid., d. 588, l. 3): "Continue work to reduce expenditures on the administrative and economic apparaty . . . by a minimum of 15 percent."

6.        For Krupskaia's speech at the XIV Congress, see letter 21, note4.

7.        In Vienna in August 1912, a conference of representatives of anumber of Russian social democratic groups and tendencies took place. In the course of the meetings, a bloc emerged that united the supporters of Trotsky, a number of representatives of the Latvian Regional Social Democratic Party, the Bund, the Transcaucasian Regional Committee, and other organizations. It opposed the decisions of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party VI Conference.

On 5 October 1926, Pravda published Molotov's speech at the opening of the courses for local party workers. In this speech, Molotov noted that an oppositional bloc had formed in the party uniting "tendencies [all the way] from those of Medvedev and Shliapnikov to those of Trotsky and Zinoviev"; he compared this bloc to the "August bloc" of 19121914. Molotov devoted an entire section of his speech to the story of the August bloc; he ended with the statement that the August bloc had shared the fate of the Menshevik party and that the struggle with the August bloc had allowed the Bolshevik party ''to grow into the powerful leader of the proletarian revolution." The journal Bolshevik (1925, no. 16) reprinted Lenin's articles about the August bloc and published Sorin's article "The August Bloc."

8.        On 8 September 1926, the Central Control Commissionreviewed the Commissariat of Trade's violation of a Politburo's directive about the acquisition of foreign stocks. Measures were taken to prevent such violations in the future (ibid., f. 613, op. 1, d. 47, l. 14).

9.        Probably a reference to the case of N. V. Nechaev. On 21

September 1926, the Kursk Province Control Commission expelled Nechaev for conducting "oppositional underground work" and distributing opposition materials. At the same time, some of Nechaev's coworkers who knew about his views received strict reprimands. In late 1926 and early 1927, the Nechaev matter was reviewed by the Secretariat of the Central Control Commission and the Orgburo. The decision to expel Nechaev from the party remained in effect (ibid., d. 48, l. 120b, and d. 63, l. 25).

10.  The author's intent here appears to be jocularTrans.


Letter 28

[23 September 1926]

Comrade Molotov,

I received your letter of 20 September.

1)              Regarding wages, I think you have got it fairly well. 1 It's important that the lower strata receive something tangible. It would also be good to give something to the oil workers who do not get very much on the whole, but if there isn't an opportunity at this moment they will have to be turned down, despite the complaints of the Baku people.2

2)              If Trotsky "is in a rage" and thinks of "openly going for broke," that's all the worse for him. It's quite possible that he'll be bounced out of the Politburo nowthat depends on his behavior.3 The issue is as follows: either they must submit to the party, or the party must submit to them. It's clear that the party will cease to exist as a party if it allows the latter (second) possibility.

3)              As for Smirnov, after the warning that he has already had, only one thing remainsexpel him, at least temporarily.4

4)              I think that the plenum cannot "gloss over" the question ofMedvedev.5 Perhaps you have a means of "glossing over"if so, tell me what it is.

5)              Perhaps you are right that the question about the opposition blocmust be raised at the conference.6 Still, we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves; better to observe how that bloc will behave now.

6)              You and Bukharin must hurry up with your speech on thequestion of the August blocthere's no reason to wait now, I think.

7) I wrote Demian [Bednyi] that his tale is "dry and lifeless" and "won't do" (or something to that effect) and that "it should not be printed." I don't have a copy or I would send it to you immediately. As for this tale being a bad "symptom" in the sense of Demian's position worseningI doubt it. We'll talk more when I come.

8) Don't give Karakhan his way on Chinahe'll ruin the whole thing, that's for sure. He has outlived his usefulness: he was and has remained the ambassador of the first stage of the Chinese revolution and is entirely useless as a leader in the current new situation, both the Chinese and the international situation, given the new events which he doesn't understand and can't understand on his own, for he is a person who is terribly frivolous and limited (in the sense of revolutionary outlook). But as for audacity and impudence, arrogance and conceithe's got plenty of those. That's what is especially dangerous. Karakhan will never understand that Hankow will soon become the Chinese Moscow . . .

Well, best regards,

J. Stalin

23 September 1926

Sochi. I am getting better, more or less.

P.S. I am not certain that an open appeal to the General Council from the Trade Union Council regarding a joint protest against the bombing of Wanhsien is correct. 7 It will look as if we are taunting both the General Council and the Conservatives needlessly. Is this necessary? It would be better to take other, more effective routes.

1.               On 20 September 1926, the Politburo approved the proposal ofits committee on wages. The committee proposed raising the wages only of workers employed in production. A list of branches of industry where wages were to be raised was also approved (coal, ore, metal, etc.) (RTsKhIDNI f. 17, op. 3, d. 588, ll. 1, 2).

2.               On 30 September 1926, the Politburo recognized the need toraise the wages of individual groups of workers in the petroleum industry (ibid., d. 590, l. 2).

3.               In October 1926, a joint plenum of the Central Committee andCentral Control Commission decided to relieve Trotsky of his duties as a member of the Politburo because of his factional activity.

4.               On 8 September 1926, V. M. Smirnov was expelled from theparty for factional activity. On 26 November 1926, after acknowledging his mistakes, he was reinstated.

5.               At a joint plenum of the Central Committee and Central ControlCommission in October 1926, Shliapnikov and Medvedev, the former leaders of the "workers' opposition," were condemned for anti-party activity.

6.               The Central Committee plenum of October 1926 added an itemconcerning the opposition and the internal party situation to the agenda of the XV Party Conference, which had already been published in the press.

7.               The British navy's bombing of the Chinese city of Wanhsientook place on 5 September 1926.


Letter 29

[7 November 1926]

Com. Molotov,

I don't see any reason why the speech in its current form shouldn't be printed without any corrections from me, if we all (including myself) give our speeches to be printed without any preliminary checking. I have only now realized the whole awkwardness of not having shown anyone my speech. Is your persistence regarding the corrections saying in fact that I was mistaken in not sending around my own speech to friends? I already feel awkward after the disputes of a couple of days ago. And now you want to kill me with your modesty, once again insisting on a review of the speech. No, I had better refrain. Better print it in the form that you consider necessary.

J. Stalin

7 November

1. The text is written on the Central Committee's stationery. In the upper left-hand corner is Molotov's handwritten remark: "Re: my speech at the XV Party Conference. V.M." Stalin and Molotov were in Moscow at the time. The XV Party Conference took place from 26 October to 3 November 1926. Stalin gave a speech on the opposition and the internal party situation.


Letter 30

[23 December 1926]

Hello, Viacheslav,

You don't have to hurry backyou could easily remain another week (or even more) past the deadline.

Things are going pretty well here for us.

1)   state procurements and exports are going all right;

2)   revenues to the state budget are not coming in very well;

3)   the Chervonets is doing fine;2

4)   industry is creeping ahead a little bit;

5)   we decided to lower the wholesale price on a number ofconsumer goods;3

6)   we are drafting immediate and concrete measures to reduce retail prices (we will put brutal pressure on the trade and cooperative network).4

The Congress of Trade Unions passed "normally" as Tomskii would say; that is, we preserved everything we had but added nothing new to our arsenal.5

The expanded plenum of the Comintern Executive Committee6 went all right. The resolution of the XV Conference was passed unanimously (one Bordiga supporter from Italy abstained). Our oppositionists are really fools. Why the hell they jumped into the fray I don't know, but they got well and truly whipped. When Kamenev made an irresponsibly harmful speech, I had toremind him in the closing remarks of the telegram to M. Romanov. Kamenev came out with a "rebuttal," saying, "It's a lie." 7 Zinoviev, Kamenev, Smilga, and Fedorov brought a "statement" of "rebuttal" to the Politburo, demanding that it be published. We published the statement in Bolshevik with the Central Committee's answer and with documents that slaughtered Kamenev politically. We consider that Kamenev is knocked out of commission and won't be in the Central Committee any longer.

Well, that's it for now. More later in person.



23 December 1926

1.   The letter was sent from Moscow.

2.   Ten-ruble bank note in circulation 19221947Trans.

3.   The Politburo considered reducing the wholesale prices ofconsumer goods on 23 December 1926 (RTsKhIDNI f. 17, op. 3, d.

607, ll. 4, 5.).

4.   In February 1927, the Central Committee plenum approved theresolution "On the reduction of retail and wholesale prices" (KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh [Resolutions of the CPSU], vol. 4 [Moscow, 1984], 13748).

5.   The VII Congress of USSR Trade Unions took place on 618 December 1926.

6.   The VII expanded plenum of the Comintern Executive

Committee took place in Moscow from 22 November through 16 December 1926, with 191 representatives from the Communist parties of various countries in attendance. The plenum discussed the following issues: the international situation and the tasks of the Comintern; the disputes inside the Soviet party; lessons of the British strike; the Chinese question; the work of the Communists in the trade union movement; questions of individual parties.

7.   On 15 December 1926, Kamenev stated that this reference to atelegram to M. Romanov was a repetition of the gossip that chauvinist socialists had spread against the Bolsheviks. At the evening session of the Comintern plenum, he made the following statement (RTsKhIDNI f. 85, op. 1c, d. 173, ll. 3, 4):

Yesterday Com. Stalin reported from the Comintern podium that I had supposedly sent a telegram to Mikhail Romanov       during the first days of the February revolution. . . .

The editorial board of Pravda, of which I was a member at that time, along with Comrades Lenin and Zinoviev, learned of this slander from the newspaper Yedinstvo [Unity], which was under the direction of a well-known renegade and scoundrel and later monarchist, Aleksinskii, who in those days waged a furious campaign against the Bolsheviks in general and against each one of us in particular. . . . This provincial lie personally directed against me was judged by all of us to be petty and insignificant gossip, and we limited ourselves to several lines of rebuttal, stating that the telegram was sent on behalf of a rally in a provincial town in Siberia, where, as an exile, I had also spoken; it was sent against my wishes. . . .

It goes without saying that no oneincluding Stalineven thought of ascribing any significance whatsoever to this gossip when, two weeks after the appearance of this lie at the April (1917) conference, Ias Lenin had proposedwas elected along with him, Zinoviev, and Stalin to the first legal Central Committee of our party. Since then, for ten years, no one has dared to return to this slander.