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Stalin Letters to Molotov
[before March 1931]
I read only the part about "dumping" and "forced" labor. 1 The section on "dumping" is good. The section on ''forced" labor is incomplete and unsatisfactory. See the comments and corrections in the text.
P.S. Regarding the kulaks' labor, since they are not convicts, either they should not be mentioned at all, or we should explain in a special section and with thorough documentation that the only ones who work among the deported kulaks are those who want to work and [that they do so] with all the rights of voluntary labor.
1. The reference is to Molotov's speech at the VI Congress of Soviets (Pravda, 11 March 1931).
[24 September 1931]
Hello, Viacheslav, I received the letter.
You are right that in light of the new circumstances (the financial crisis in England, etc.) we will have to reduce our imports.1 I am certain we will not be able to get by without a reduction in the import quotas approved at the beginning of the year. The conditions at the start of the year were one thing, but now they have changed (worsened). We absolutely must take this into consideration.
Regarding the stores the Supreme Economic Council wants to establish, you are right, of course.2
J. Stalin 9/24/31
1. The question of imports was often taken up by the Politburo in
September and October 1931. On 29 October 1931, the resolution "On the export-import and currency exchange plan for the fourth quarter of the year 1931" was adopted. The resolution was sent to the Special File (RTsKhIDNI f. 17, op. 3, d. 857, l. 5).
2. The question of stores was considered by the Council of
Commissars and the Labor Defense Council in September and October 1931 at the initiative of the Supreme Economic Council, which requested permission to open seventy-seven stores to serve workers at the largest enterprises exclusively. At the suggestion of the Supreme Economic Council, the plant directors were granted the right to establish regulations for distributing goods. By January 1932, eighty-three stores attached to specific factories had been opened, selling goods in short supply solely to employees from those factories (GARF f. 5446, op. 13, d. 1058, ll. 6, 29).
[19 June 1932]
I received your letter dated 13 June.
1) United Statesthis is a complicated matter. Insofar as they want touse flattery to drag us into a war with Japan, we can tell them to go to hell. Insofar as the oil industrialists of the United States have agreed to give us a loan of 100 million rubles without requiring from us any political compensation, we would be foolish not to take their money. We must rein in Rozengolts and correct the error in the agreement with the oil industrialists! 1 We need the hard currency!
2) The proposal from Nanking about a nonaggression pact is utterchicanery. Really, the Nanking government consists entirely of petty crooks. This does not mean, of course, that we should not deal with these crooks or with their proposal for a nonaggression pact, but it certain pays to keep in mind that they are petty crooks.2
3) Regarding the Ukrainians (Chubar and others), I already wroteKaganovich and you must already know my opinion.3 The rest is a matter for the Politburo.
4) You and Kaganovich should by now have received my letterabout the meeting of the council of secretaries and chairmen of regional committees on the organization of grain procurements. I think that we ought to hurry ahead with this important matter, so we'll be able to prevent the recurrence of the Ukrainian mistakes in the area of grain procurement. This is a most important matter.4
5) Tebandaev asks that we give him several million rubles (45 million rubles) for the construction of an earthen dam on the Manich River (east of the Don).5 This is a straightforward matter and is apparently necessary.
Bye for now.
J. Stalin 6/19/32
1. The facts remain unclear.
2. After Japanese forces invaded northeastern China in September1931, the proponents of normalization of Sino-Soviet relations within the Chiang Kai-shek government grew more powerful. On 6 June 1932, the Kuomintang central policy council passed a resolution on secret negotiations with the USSR, the contents of which were leaked to the press. On 26 June 1932, the Chinese representative at the Geneva disarmament convention delivered a letter to the Soviet commissar for foreign affairs proposing the consideration of a nonaggression pact between the USSR and China. On 6 July, Litvinov proposed beginning negotiations on a nonaggression pact and on establishing diplomatic relations. In December 1932, diplomatic relations between the USSR and China were established, but the two countries failed to agree on a nonaggression pact.
3. Forced collectivization resulted in widespread famine. On 17 June 1932, the Ukrainian Politburo sent Kaganovich and Molotov the following telegram:
On the instructions of our Central Committee, Chubar has initiated a request to grant food assistance to Ukraine for districts experiencing a state of emergency. We urgently request additional means for processing sugar beets and also supplemental aid: in addition to the 220,000, another 600,000 pounds of bread.
In Stalin's view, Ukrainian crop failures were caused by enemy resistance and by the poor leadership of Ukrainian officials. On 21 June 1932, the Central Committee sent a telegram, signed by Stalin and Molotov, to the Ukrainian Central Committee and Council of Commissars, proposing to ensure the collection of grain "at all costs." The telegram stated:
No manner of deviationregarding either amounts or deadlines set for grain deliveriescan be permitted from the plan established for your region for collecting grain from collective and private farms or for delivering grain to state farms.
On 23 June 1932, in response to S. V. Kosior's telegram requesting aid, the Politburo passed the following resolution: "To restrict ourselves to the decisions already adopted by the Central Committee and not to approve the shipment of additioal grain into Ukraine." (All quotations are from The 19321933 Ukrainian Famine in the Eyes of Historians and in the Language of Documents [in Ukrainian Kiev, 1990], 183, 186, 187, 190).
4. On 21 June 1932, the Politburo resolved to call a meeting on 28 June 1932 of the secretaries and chairmen of the executive committees of Ukraine, North Caucasus, Central Black Sea region, the lower and middle Volga, etc. on the problems of organizing grain reserves and of fulfilling the established plan for grain reserves (RTsKhIDNI f. 17, op. 3, d. 889, l. 16). On 28 June, the Politburo decided not to present a general report to the conference but to authorize Molotov to deliver a keynote address on the problems and to emphasize that Stalin's proposals had been approved by the Politburo and must form the basis for any decisions regarding grain procurement (ibid., d. 890, l. 8). [For the "Ukranian mistakes," see note 3U.S. Ed.]
5. On 10 July 1932, the Politburo confirmed the decision of theCouncil of Commissars to release 4 million rubles from its reserve fund to enable the North Caucasus Regional Executive Committee to construct a dam on the Manich (ibid., d. 891, l. 13). [No information is available concerning TebandaevU.S. Ed.]
[1932, before June 1932]
Hello, Viacheslav, 1
1) Received the letter on revolutionary legality. It came out well.
See my minor corrections to the text. I think that the Central Committee directive, namely, the first two points including several corrections, ought to be publicized, but the third point of the directive should have only restricted distribution.2
2) Did you receive my telegram about Lancaster with the proposalof the new terms (100 million dollars, 10 years, 3 percent interest, 1520 percent of orders from 100 million dollars)? It's advantageous to us. It is also beneficial to Lancaster, since the total of his claims is thus raised to 60 million rubles (40 million rubles under the original terms), and the total orders to 40 million rubles (7 million rubles under the original terms).
3) What is the situation regarding the conference of secretaries andprocurements? 3
P.S. The number of Politburo inquiries has no effect on my health. You can send as many inquiries as you likeI'll be happy to answer them.
1. In the upper right-hand corner is Molotov's notation: "1928=?"In fact the letter was written in spring 1932.
2. The government decree "On revolutionary legality" wasapproved by the Politburo on 25 June 1932. The Politburo sent the following directive to all the local party organizations (RTsKhIDNI f. 17, op. 3, d. 890, l. 11):
The Central Committee wishes to bring to the attention of all party organizations the decree published on 27 June by the Central Executive Committee and the Council of Commissars on the measures to be undertaken to enforce revolutionary legality and to require all party organizations to enact the most stringent measures.
Emphasizing the special role that the court and the procurator must play in the matter of enforcing revolutionary legality, the Central Committee proposes that all party organizations:
1. Provide the committee all manner of aid and support in the matter of enforcing revolutionary legality.
2. Implement thoroughly the party decrees on the strict responsibility of Communists for the most minor infringements
of the law. . . .
Categorically forbid the involvement of party organizations in specific separate judicial matters, as well as the removal or transfer of any court employees in connection with their activities, without the consent and approval of the senior party, judicial, and procuratorial bodies.
The government decree was published on 27 June 1932 in Pravda.
The Central Executive Committee and the Council of Commissars propose that the governments of Soviet and
autonomous republics, procuratorial bodies, and the regional executive committees:
1. Investigate any allegations about violations of revolutionary legality by officials and guarantee the speediest consideration of these matters; impose punishment, up to and including arrest, on officials responsible for these offenses and on those guilty of a bureaucratic attitude toward workers' allegations. . . .
3. Eliminate the practice of imposing burdensome [grain] obligations, dekulakization, etc., in violation of the laws of the Soviet government in regard to individual collective farms as well as farms of middle peasants, while implementing thoroughly the obligations and measures established by Soviet law for kulak elements.
4. Require the courts and procurators to prosecute officials inall instances involving the violation of toilers' rights, especially in the cases of unlawful arrest, searches, confiscation, or expropriation of property, and impose strict punishment on those found guilty.
5. The Central Executive Committee and the Council of Commissars of the USSR wish to bring to the attention of all local organs of Soviet power and all procurators' offices that strict compliance with revolutionary legality regarding collective farms and the masses of collective farm workers is especially important given that the majority of peasant laborers are concentrated on collective farms.
6. In the interest of further enforcing revolutionary justice and of improving and raising the status of the judicial-procuratorial bodies, it is categorically forbidden to remove or transfer people's judges other than by the decree of regional executive committees or to remove and transfer district procurators other than by the decision of the regional procurator or the supreme procuratorial bodies of the procuracy or Commissariat of Justice.
3. On the secretaries and grain procurement, see note 4 to letter 74.
Today I read the section on international affairs.2 It came out well. The confident, contemptuous tone with respect to the "great" powers, the belief in our own strength, the delicate but plain spitting in the pot of the swaggering "great powers"very good. Let them eat it.
1. In the upper right-hand corner is Molotov's notation: "1/1933."
In the lower right-hand corner is another notation by him: "January 1933."
2. The reference is to Molotov's speech on 23 January 1933 to theCentral Executive Committee (Pravda, 24 January 1933).
[before 23 April 1933]
I think we should satisfy Sholokhov's2 request in full, that is, grant an additional 80,000 poods to Veshensk residents and 40,000 poods to Verkhnedonsk residents. This matter has apparently received wide public attention, and after all the shameful behavior that has been tolerated, we can only gain politically. The extra 40,00050,000 means little to us, but it is decisive right now for the population of these two districts.
And so, let's vote on this immediately (tell Chernov).
Besides this, we must send someoneanyonethere (perhaps Com. Shkiriatov) to clear up the matter and call on Ovchinnikov and all the others who created this mess to account for themselves. We can do this tomorrow.3
1. In the upper right-hand corner is Molotov's notation: "1929=?"In fact this letter was written in April 1933.
2. On 20 April 1933, M. A. Sholokhov wrote to Stalin about theforcible expropriation of cattle from the peasants. On 23 April 1933, with Stalin and Molotov present, the Politburo reviewed the situation in the Veshensk District. Shkiriatov was assigned to travel to the Veshensk District to conduct an inquiry into the causes of the intolerable violations during grain procurement committed by local officials and by representatives of regional agencies.
3. On 4 July 1933, the Politburo heard Shkiriatov's report on theviolations in the Veshensk District in connection with grain procurement. Among those questioned were Zimin, the second secretary of the Azov-Black Sea Regional Committee; Ovchinnikov, representative of the committee in the Veshensk
District; a series of workers in the Veshensk District; and Sholokhov, as a witness. The Politburo noted (RTsKhIDNI f. 17, op. 3, d. 926, ll. 5, 6):
The Regional Committee is chiefly responsible for such violations as the mass eviction of collective farm workers from their homes and forbidding other collective farm workers from offering temporary shelter to those evicted. [The committee] did not take timely measures to rectify these violations or even issue warnings regarding them.
The Central Committee considers that the entirely correct and absolutely necessary policy of applying pressure to the collective farm workers who sabotaged the grain production effort was distorted and compromised in the Veshensk District because the committee did not exercise effective oversight.
The Politburo criticized the committee for inadequately overseeing the activities of their representatives and agents. Zimin and Ovchinnikov were removed from their posts. The leaders of the Veshensk district were given strict warnings and reprimands.
[1 September 1933]
To Comrade Molotov, 1
1) To be honest, neither I (nor Voroshilov) like the fact that you areleaving for vacation for six weeks instead of two weeks as was agreed upon when we made the vacation schedule. If I had known beforehand that you wished to leave for six weeks, I would have proposed a different vacation schedule. Why did you change the scheduleI don't understand it. Are you running away from Sergo? Is it so hard to understand that you simply can't leave the Politburo and Council of Commissars to Kuibyshev (he may start drinking) or to Kaganovich for long? True, I did [originally] agree (in a telegram) to the extended leave, but you will understand that I cannot act otherwise [now].
2) I consider Sergo's actions with respect to Vyshinskii the behaviorof a hooligan. How can you let him have his way? By his act of protest, Sergo clearly wished to disrupt the campaign of the Council of Commissars and Central Committee to provide proper equipment.2 What's the matter? Did Kaganovich pull a fast one? So it seems. And he's not the only one.
J. Stalin 9/1
1. In the upper right-hand corner is Molotov's notation: "9/31 =?"In reality, the letter dates from 1933.
2. On 1620 August 1933, the chief judicial collegium of the USSRSupreme Court heard the case against officials responsible for the production of agricultural machinery; they were accused of delivering combines without the full complement of parts. At the hearings on 22 August, the state prosecutor and deputy Soviet procurator, Vyshinskii, delivered a speech excerpted as follows (RTsKhIDNI f. 17, op. 3, d. 929, l. 21):
This allows us to ask some questions about the work of Soviet economic organizations in general. We have no reason to paint all the economic organizations completely black, but we must, regardless of the institution or the person who heads it, expose the genuinely "black" marks that indicate the immense failure of the work methods of some of the most important government institutions. I mean the Commissariat of Agriculture in the first place as represented by its agricultural supply agency, . . . I mean the Commissariat of Heavy Industry as represented by its agricultural machinery association.
Vyshinskii's statement outraged Ordzhonikidze and Yakovlev, who were the heads of Heavy Industry and Agriculture, respectively. In Stalin's absence, they managed to persuade the Politburo to issue a resolution criticizing Vyshinskii for his allegations: "To point out to Com. Vyshinskii that he should not have formulated his views in a way . . . that allows incorrect accusations to be made against Heavy Industry and Agriculture."
On 1 September 1933, the Politburo revoked this decision (ibid., d. 930, l. 13).
[12 September 1933]
1) I agree that we should not budget more than 21 billion rubles forcapital investments for 1934 and that the growth in manufacturing should not be more that 15 percent. This will be for the best. 1
2) I also agree that we should set the gross yield for the 1932 [sic] grain harvest at 698 million centners.2 No less.
3) The behavior of Sergo (and Yakovlev) in the affair concerning
"production with full equipment" can only be characterized as "anti-party," since their objective is to defend reactionary party elements [who are acting] against the Central Committee.3 In fact, the whole country is crying out against the lack of full equipment. The party began a campaign on this subject in the press with clearly publicized punitive measures. The sentencing of enemies of the partythat is, of all those who maliciously infringe on the decisions of the party and the governmenthas already been declared, and Sergo (with Yakovlev), who bears the responsibility for these violations, is attempting to attack the procuracy instead of confessing his sins! For what reason [is he doing this]? Of course, not in order to rein in the reactionary violators of party decisions4rather to support them morally, to justify them in the eyes of party opinion, and, in this way, to discredit the party's unfolding campaignwhich in practice means to discredit the policy of the Central Committee.
I wrote Kaganovich to express my surprise that he turned out to be in the camp of the reactionary elements in the party.
4) I am a little uncomfortable with being the reason for your earlyreturn from your vacation. But this awkwardness aside, it's obvious that it would be rash to leave the center's work to Kaganovich alone (Kuibyshev may start drinking) for any length of time, because Kaganovich must divide his time between his central and local responsibilities. I will be in Moscow in one month, and you will be able to go on vacation then.
5) I have resolutely decided that it would be useless for you totravel to Turkey.5 Let Voroshilov and Litvinov go.
J. Stalin 9/12/33
1. The references are to the target figures for the Soviet economy in1934.
2. One centner equals 100 kilogramsTrans.
3. Concerning the controversy over komplektnost (providing equipment with a full complement of parts), see note 2 to letter 78.
4. By "reactionary violators of party decisions" Stalin meansbureaucrats within the Soviet government and party. For more about these violators, see the IntroductionU.S. Ed.
5. In May 1932, Ismet-Pasha, chairman of the Council of Ministersof the Turkish Republic, and Tenfik Rushtubeibi, minister of foreign affairs, visited the Soviet Union.
On 20 September 1933, the Politburo approved a reciprocal visit to Turkey (RTsKhIDNI f. 17, op. 3, d. 931, l. 17). At the end of October 1933, a Soviet government delegation headed by Voroshilov departed for Ankara to take part in celebrations on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Turkish Republic.