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Stalin Letters to Molotov
[1 September 1929]
Hello, Com. Molotov,
1) From NKID reports published in the press, 1 it's obvious that my reproach on the Chinese question (see my previous letterthe postscript) was unfair. It turns out I didn't read the fine print in the coded report. Well, what of it, I am glad I was mistaken and ready to apologize for the undeserved reproach. That, of course, doesn't mean that Litvinov, Bukharin, and Karakhan have ceased to be opportunists. Not a whit!
2) Read the decision on contracting.2,3 It's a good thing. But I think it's a transitional thing. I think we'll soon have to go further and transfer all the grain procurements in the countryside to agricultural cooperatives (Khlebotsentr [sic] and others), taking consumer cooperatives and Khlebotsentr out of this business and turning Khlebotsentr into a collection agency for procured grain. This is particularly necessary after the successes attained with contracting. Without such a reform, competition [among ourselves] and its consequences are inevitable. We'll talk in more detail when I get to Moscow.
3) The procurements are now going well. That's very good. If welink this to the fact that we have already managed to take in more than 400 million rubles on the third industrialization loan, we can say with certainty that things are going fairly well for the time being. The main thing now is not to rest on our laurels and to move things forward.
4) What's going on in the Moscow [party] organization; why isBauman thrashing Polonskii so mercilessly; what is this ugly personal squabble all about?
Well, bye for now. Regards,
1. For the report of the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs (NKID),see note 6 to letter 44.
2. Contracting (kontraktatsiia) was a method briefly used in grain procurement. Under this method the peasants agreed, before the harvest, to deliver a set amount to the government in return for government promises to provide industrial goods.U.S. Ed.
3. The Politburo decree "On the results and current tasks in the areaof contracting grain sowing" was passed on 26 August 1929 (RTsKhIDNI f. 17, op. 3, d. 755, ll. 2123).
[6 September 1929]
Hello, Com. Molotov,
1) I'm sending you a letter I just got from Mirzoian. You know that I'm not a supporter of the policy of "tolerance" regarding comrades who have committed grievous errors from the perspective of the party's interests. I must say, however, that it is not in the party's interests to finish off Mirzoian; however, I think you yourself wrote to me the other day about Mirzoian in just this same vein. His letter should be noted and his request fulfilled.
I think it wouldn't be a bad thing to appoint Mirzoian secretary to the Perm (Ural) Regional Committee and give him an urgent combat assignment: to move the oil business forward in the Urals. 1 He knows the oil business well, and together with Rumiantsev (I'm proposing to appoint Rumiantsev head of Uralneft [Urals oil extraction agency]), he could really develop the Ural oil fields. And oil in the Urals is the most important matter now, which our Supreme Economic Councilers2 don't want to understand.
2) I supported Kabakov and Oshvintsev on the Zubarev matter3 for two reasons: a) despite its increasingly enormous importance for the USSR, executives are terribly scarce in the Urals, and it can't be "plundered endlessly"; b) Zubarev is a specialist in agriculture, and in Arkhangelsk, strictly speaking, there isn't any agriculture.
Well, so long for now.
1. On 30 September 1929, the Politburo decided to assign Mirzoian to party work in the Urals (RTsKhIDNI f. 17, op. 3, d. 761, l. 51). 2. That is, the staff of the Supreme Economic Council.
3. On 12. September 1929, at Molotov's suggestion, the Politburo left Zubarev in the Urals instead of reassigning him to party work in the north (ibid., d. 753, l. 9, and d. 757, l. 6).
[9 September 1929]
Received your letter of 9/6.
1) No haste should be displayed on the British question. Now
Henderson needs a restoration of relations more than we do. It's not Henderson who is dangerous, since we have pushed him to the wall, but Litvinov, who believes Wise and other bastards more than the logic of things. Especially dangerous are "our" Paris "advisors," who recommended that we send Henderson a "sympathetic" answer. These people are Henderson's agents, who inform the British government and disinform us. In short: no backing down from our position. Remember we are waging a struggle (negotiation with enemies is also struggle), not with England alone, but with the whole capitalist world, since the MacDonald government is the vanguard of the capitalist governments in the work of "humiliating" and "bridling'' the Soviet government with "new," more "diplomatic," more disguised, and thus more "effective" methods. The MacDonald government wants to show the whole capitalist world that it can take more from us (with the help of "gentle" methods) than Mussolini, Poincaré, and Baldwin, that it can be a greater Shylock than the capitalist Shylock himself. And it wants this because only in this way can it win the trust of its own bourgeoisie (and not only its bourgeoisie). We really would be worthless if we couldn't manage to reply to these arrogant bastards briefly and to the point: "You won't get a friggin' thing from us."
2) Bauman must be disciplined sternly for trying to drag theorganization into a struggle, not over political views, but "over individuals." That is precisely why Polonskii should not be budged (for the time being at least). Regarding Zhdanov, Postyshev and Rumiantsev, it would be better to wait until fall.
3) It's not good if Yaroslavskii begins to take over (apparently he'salready begun) as, in effect, the editor in chief of Pravda. That is dangerous and harmful to the cause, because despite all his other outstanding qualities, he is weak in the political leadership department (he loves to swim along "with the tide" of the sentiment of the "masses"). No matter how it looks, in reality, Pravda is not directed by Yaroslavskii but by someone else, someone like Zinoviev or one of Zinoviev's pupils who knows how to flatter Yaroslavskii cleverly and who has it in for the Leningrad organization. Keep in mind that such a danger is quite real. At any rate, the shrill uproar about the Leningrad organization is suspicious. 1
4) The decision on Rykov is correct.
P.S. I almost forgot. The new (new!) statement from Smirnov, Vaganian, Mrachkovskii, and others must be rejected not only as unacceptable (and how!) but as a document from impudent counterrevolutionaries who are exploiting Yaroslavskii's easygoing nature and the trust he has shown them. Yaroslavskii must be forbidden to have anything to do with those upstarts who have exploited his easygoing nature to organize their counterrevolutionary faction on "new," "within-the-regulations" principles. We don't need them in the party. How can you not grasp this simple thing?2
Besides, I resolutely protest against the fact that, despite the Politburo resolution, 3 Zinoviev has become one of the permanent staff members (and directors?) of Pravda. Can't an end be put to this outrage? Who's to blame for this? Is it Yaroslavskii? Why are you tolerating this political depravity?
1. On 1 September 1929, Pravda carried a large selection of materials on the "suppression of self-criticism" and the
"corruption" in the Leningrad Party Organization. A campaign to "unleash self-criticism" was then launched in Leningrad and covered in detail in Pravda.
2. For information on Smirnov and others, see note 14 for letter 42.
3. On 9 May 1929, the Politburo took up the question of "the articleby Com. Zinoviev in Pravda and Komsomolskaia pravda of 8 May of this year" and decided "to reprimand the editorial staff of Pravda and Komsomolskaia pravda for printing Com. Zinoviev's article on the Berlin events and to remind them that articles by Coms. Zinoviev and Kamenev cannot be printed without permission from the Central Committee Secretariat." [In other words, Stalin's description of Zinoviev as a member of Pravda's editorial staff was highly exaggeratedU.S. Ed.]
[9 September 1929]
1) Poliudov absolutely must be removed from the Commissariat ofTransport. This is the same nutcase that kept confusing the Central Committee and Transport with new railroad constructions and has nothing Communist about him (nothing left). Now he's sitting at Transport as head of (new) construction. Come on, what kind of builder is he? He's the reason construction of the new tracks between Siberia and European Russia haven't moved an inch forward. Get that anti-party man out of Transport. He's been systematically violating the Central Committee's resolutions and also systematically mocking the Politburo.2
2) Next, what is Chernyi doing at the Transport collegium? Whyhasn't he been transferred to another job?3
1. In the upper right-hand corner is Molotov's notation: "1929=?"
2. On 30 December 1929, the Orgburo relieved Poliudov of hiswork in the Commissariat of Transport and confirmed him as a member of the Soviet trade delegation in Berlin (RTsKhIDNI f. 17, op. 113, d. 809, l. 5). On 5 January 1930, the Politburo reversed this decision and kept Poliudov at Transport. On 5 March 1930, he was given editorial work in connection with the training of executives (ibid., op. 3, d. 778, l. 8), and in September, he was appointed director of the Belorussian-Baltic Railway (ibid., op. 114, d. 190, l. 1).
3. On 18 September 1929, the Central Committee Secretariatconfirmed Chernyi as deputy chairman of transport in charge of training specialists.
[13 September 1929]
Coms. Molotov and Ordzhonikidze,
Received your coded telegram about self-criticism. 1 Your proposal is incorrect since a special decree from the Central Committee plus a speech by Molotov may be understood (will be understood!) by the party organizations as a new course backward, as an appeal: "Rein in self-criticism," which is of course not desirable and which will undoubtedly undermine the authority of the Central Committee (and Molotov) in the eyes of the best elements of the party in favor of all and sundry bureaucrats.
The article in Pravda attacking the Leningrad leadership (which means Kirov-Komarov) was a grave error (especially the way it was done).2 Someone (that is, an enemy of the party) wanted to portray the top officials in Leningrad as opposing the correction of the shortcomings (that's not true!) But those bunglers from Pravda swallowed the bait, and now "everything's in a commotion" to the delight of the party's enemies. They forgot that the Leningrad organization isn't just your Sochi or Astrakhan or Baku organization. They forgot that a blow to the chiefs of the Leningrad organization, which represents the most reliable bulwark of the Central Committee, is a blow to the very heart of the Central Committee. . . . The Central Committee's fault consists of relinquishing the rudder for a moment to Pravda's editorial collegium, having forgotten that someone who has turned selfcriticism into a sportCom. Yaroslavskiiis a member of the collegium and that he possesses the happy ability of not seeing anything further than his own nose.
The same must be said about Komsomolskaia pravda and local press organs.
Let the Central Committee Secretariat take the rudder in hand again, let it establish monitoring over Pravda and Komsomolskaia pravda, let it change the tone and spirit of self-criticism in these newspapersand then everything will be all right.
Well, all the best.
Regards to you both,
J. Stalin 9/13/29
1. The coded telegram was not found.
2. For Pravda's attack on the Leningrad leadership, see note 1 to letter 47.
[30 September 1929]
To Molotov, Voroshilov, Ordzhonikidze: 1
1) Did you read Rykov's speech? In my opinion, it's the speech of anonparty soviet bureaucrat pretending to take the tone of a "loyal" person, "sympathizing" with the soviets. But not a single word about the party! Not a single word about the right deviation! Not a single word to say that the party's achievements, which Rykov underhandedly ascribes now to himself, were attained in struggle with the rightists, including Rykov himself! All our officials who give speeches usually consider it their duty to speak about the rightists and to call for struggle against the rightists. But Rykov, it seems, is free from such an obligation! Why?I might askon what basis? How can you tolerate (meaning covering up as well) this political hypocrisy? Don't you understand that in tolerating such hypocrisy, you create the illusion that Rykov has separated from the rightists and you thus mislead the party, because everyone can see that Rykov has never had a thought of leaving the rightists? Shouldn't you give Rykov an alternative: either disassociate openly and honestly from the rightists and conciliators, or lose the right to speak in the name of the Central Committee and Council of Commissars. I think this should be done because it's the least the Central Committee can demandless than that and the Central Committee ceases to be itself.
2) I learned that Rykov is still chairing your meetings on Mondays and Thursdays.2 Is that true? If it's true, why are you allowing this comedy to go on? Who is it for and for what reason? Can't you put an end to this comedy? Isn't it time?
3) I think I'll stay in Sochi another week. What's your opinion? Ifyou say so, I can return immediately.
1. In the upper left-hand corner is Molotov's note:
Totally agree with everything said. Didn't read Rykov's speech, but only skimmed the headings. Will read.
I do see now, however, that Stalin is right. Just don't agree that we're "covering" for Rykov. We have to fix things in the way Stalin proposes, however. V. Molotov. 10/3.
2. The reference is to Rykov's chairing of Politburo sessions.
[7 October 1929]
Received your letter of 10/4.
1) Things really didn't turn out so badly with England. Hendersonwas shown up. Rykov, along with Bukharin and Litvinov, was also shown up. These people don't see the growth of the power and might of the USSR, nor those changes in international relations that have occurred recently (and will go on taking place).
2) There will be a lot of trouble with China. By the way, I thinkthat it's time to think about organizing an uprising by a revolutionary movement in Manchuria. The isolated detachments being sent to Manchuria to perform isolated tasks of an episodic nature are a good thing, of course, but they are not enough. We have to go for bigger things now. We need to organize two double regiment brigades, chiefly made up of Chinese, outfit them with everything necessary (artillery, machine guns, and so on), put Chinese at the head of the brigade, and send them into Manchuria with the following assignment: to stir up a rebellion among the Manchurian troops, to have reliable soldiers from these forces join them (the others should be sent home after removing the officer corps), to form into a division, to occupy Harbin, and, after gathering force, to declare Chang Hsueh-liang overthrown, establish a revolutionary government (massacre the landowners, bring in the peasants, create soviets in the cities and towns, and so on). This is necessary. This we can and, I think, should do. No "international law" contradicts this task. It will be clear to everyone that we are against war with China, that our Red Army soldiers are only defending our borders and have no intention of crossing into Chinese territory, and if there is a rebellion inside Manchuria, that's something quite understandable, given the atmosphere of the regime imposed by Chang Hsueh-liang. Think about it. It's important.
3) I read the transcript of the Industrial Academy's party cell. Thematter will have to be put on the agenda of the Central Committee plenum. I should think that Bukharin is going to be kicked out of the Politburo.
4) I read the Politburo resolution about Rykov. A correctresolution! This resolution is binding on us, of course. But we'll talk about that when I come.
5) Things are going well with the procurements. But you can't restyet; you have to keep up the pressure. Otherwise people will fall asleep.
6) Generally, I'd have to admit that things are going pretty well foryou [in Moscow] (that is, for us), at least for the time being. That's good.
I'll be in Moscow in a few days.
J. Stalin 10/7/29
[earlier than 17 November 1929]
The basic resolution (about the target figures) will be published, and we have to include a thesis concerning the incompatibility of party membership with the propagandizing or defense of rightdeviationist views.2
1. In the upper left-hand corner of the note is Molotov's notation: "1930?"
2. At the Central Committee plenum of 17 November 1929,Rudzutak proposed adding to the resolution on economic target figures for 19291930 the phrase "to recognize that defending the views of rightist opportunists or appeasement with them is incompatible with membership in the party." The proposal was passed by the plenum (RTsKhIDNI f. 17, op. 2, d. 441, vyp. 2,1.144).
[5 December 1929]
Why the devil have you burrowed into your lair, like a bear, and why are you not talking? How are things there, good or bad? Write something.
Things are not bad here for now.
1) The grain procurements are progressing. Today we decided toexpand the emergency stocks of food to 120 million poods. We are raising the supply quota for industrial cities like IvanovoVoznesensk, Kharkov, and so on.
2) The collective farm movement is growing by leaps and bounds.Of course there are not enough machines and tractorshow could it be otherwise?but simply pooling the peasant tools results in a colossal increase in sown acreage (in some regions by as much as 50 percent!). In the lower Volga, 60 percent of peasant farms have been transferred (already transferred!) to collective farms. The eyes of our rightists are popping out of their heads in amazement. . . .3
3) You no doubt already know about our foreign affairs. Thingswith China should pick up. Obviously our fellows from the Far East Army gave them a good scare. I just received from Chang Hsueh-liang a telegram confirming his "complete agreement with the results of the meeting" between Ts'ai [Yunshan] and Simanovskii.4 We rebuffed America and England and France rather harshly for their attempt to intervene.5 We couldn't have done otherwise. Let them know what the Bolsheviks are like! I think the Chinese landowners won't forget the object lesson taught them by the Far East Army. We decided not to withdraw our troops from China until our conditions are guaranteed. You should read Litvinov's speech at the Central Executive Committee sessionit's pretty good.6
4) You probably already know about the new appointments fromthe newspapers. What's new about these appointments is a) Tomskii's appointment as deputy to Kuibyshev (Kuibyshev thinksperhaps not without reasonthat there will be some advantage in this); b) the appointment of Shvarts as chairman of the coal "association" (we don't have a better candidate). 7
5) The rightists (the three) are working away, but so far theyhaven't made a move. Rykov took it into his head to bring Yakovlev as his assistant administrator (a "tea-drinkers society"!), but we nipped this in the bud.8 Well, that's it for now.
J. Stalin 12/5/29
1. A jocular version of Molotov's name that gives it a JewishflavorTrans.
2. The letter was written in Moscow and sent to Molotov while hewas on vacation.
3. For more information on the collectivization decision, see theGrain Tribute and Collectivization section in the IntroductionU.S. Ed.
4. Chang Hsueh-liang's telegram indicating agreement with the
Nikolsk-Ussuriysk protocol on restoring the status quo on the
Chinese Eastern Railway was received on 5 December 1929 (Dokumenty vneshnei politiki SSSR [Documents of USSR foreign policy], vol. 12 [Moscow, 1967], 639, 601, 602).
5. On 3 December 1929, the Soviet Union was handed a note fromthe governments of the United States, France, and England, which stated in part (Dokumenty vneshnei politiki SSSR, 605):
[There is] serious hope that China and Russia will refrain from or renounce any hostile measures and will find it possible to come to a peaceful settlement in the near future of all issues that are the subject of conflict between them at the present time.
A reply published in the Soviet press on 4 December 1929 noted (Dokumenty vneshnei politiki SSSR, 605):
The Soviet government cannot help but express its surprise that the government of the United States of America, which by its own wish does not have any official relations with the government of the Soviet Union, finds it possible to give it advice and instructions.
The text of the reply was first reviewed at a Politburo session on 3 December 1929 (RTsKhIDNI f. 17, op. 3, d. 767, 11. 12, 26, 27).
6. Litvinov's report was heard at the second session of the VConvention of the Central Executive Committee on 4 December 1929 (Dokumenty vneshnei politiki SSSR, 60634).
7. On 30 November 1929, the Politburo appointed Tomskii deputychairman of the Supreme Economic Council and Shvarts chairman of the coal industry (RTsKhIDNI f. 17, op. 3, d. 767, l. 12).
8. On 20 December 1929, the Politburo confirmed Yakovlev asRSFSR commissar of finance (ibid., d. 769, l. 4).
[25 December 1929]
Of course I got your first letter. I know you are cursing me in your heart for my silence. I can't deny that you are fully within your rights to do that. But try to see things my way: I'm terribly overloaded and there's no time to sleep (literally!). Soon I will write a proper letter.
1) Things aren't good with Pravda's editorial staff. Kovalev and Naumov (both former Trotskyists) are apparently bossing everyone around there, including several other party officials. Kovalev has already taken Popov in hand. Krumin continues to "float." Perhaps this could be tolerated for a certain time, but the problem is that Kovalev is a "shadowy figure" and "incomprehensible" and apparently not completely one of us (I'm told he has sympathy for the Zinovievites). They let Shliapnikov through; even earlier they slipped up on Frumkin; and now there's Naumov's article. 1 They wanted to let Piatakov's recent article through, but Kaganovich and I caught on to it in time and managed to correct (late at night) some "unclear" "passages'' in Piatakov's article. We will straighten out the Shliapnikov affair today. As for Frumkin, this is an old story and I think perhaps it could wait until a more opportune moment. I'm afraid Kovalev and his group will have to be dismissed. . . .
2) One of these days, the Politburo should decide on militaryaffairs (there's a report from the Worker-Peasant Inspection on the artillery administration) in connection with measures already passed by the Commissariat for War that are designed to eliminate disruptions. We consider it inexpedient to make any noise about this. The resolution should go into the Special File.
3) Kaganovich has promised to move things forward on a schoolfor people like Mikhailov (the Leningrader).
4) The nasty business (Desov-Komarov) against Kirov2 helped to accelerate the purge of bureaucratized elements from the Leningrad organization. There's no cloud without a silver lining! The Leningrad Provincial Party Committee passed the Central Committee resolutionand, according to witnesses, not without a certain enthusiasm. It's a fact! Komarov's bureaucratism played a role here, and the Central Committee's authority, and the fact that Kirov has apparently earned the great respect of the Leningrad organization in recent times. Kodatskii, Alekseev, Lobov, Serganin (not as determinedly as the others) disassociated themselves instantly from Desov-Komarov. The Leningraders are thinking of nominating Kodatskii for the post of chairman. This Central Committee resolution should also go into the Special File.
5) You should already know about the Chinese matter. America hasdisgraced itself somewhat with its interference.
6) In a few days we'll make the decision on the pace of thecollective farm movement. Yakovlev's commission has submitted a draft. In my opinion, it isn't suitable. You've probably already got it. Let me know your opinion via telegraph.3 Once again: I promise to write a proper letter.
1. Shliapnikov's article "Za industrializatsiiuza sotsializm" (Forindustrialism and for socialism) was published in Pravda on 16 December 1929. No article with Naumov's byline was published in Pravda in December 1929. Either Stalin was referring to an unsigned piece, or an article submitted by Naumov was not published in the newspaper.
2. After hearing the report by Desov, a member of the LeningradControl Commission, regarding press coverage of the abnormal phenomena in the Leningrad Party Organization, the Central Control Commission set up a committee to verify his information (RTsKhIDNI f. 613, op. 1, d. 81, l. 20).
3. For more on the collectivization decision, see the Grain Tributeand Collectivization section in the Introduction U.S. Ed.