‘Ilyich straightaway took a clear uncompromising line’

One day, after lunch, when Ilyich was about to go to the library and I had finished clearing away the dishes, Bronski came in, saying: “Haven’t you heard the news? There’s a revolution in Russia!” And he told us about the latest reports published in the special editions of the newspapers. After Bronski had gone, we went down to the lake, on the shore of which all the newspapers were posted up as soon as they came out.

We read the reports several times. A revolution had really taken place in Russia. Ilyich’s mind went to work at once. I hardly remember how the rest of the day and the night passed. Next day the second batch of official reports about the February Revolution found Ilyich writing to Kollontai in Stockholm: “Never again along the lines of the Second International! Never again with Kautsky! By all means a more revolutionary programme and tactics.” And further on: “… as before, revolutionary propaganda, agitation and struggle with the aim of an international proletarian revolution and for the conquest of power by the ‘Soviets of Workers’ Deputies (but not by the Cadet fakers).”

Ilyich straightaway took a clear uncompromising line, although he had not yet grasped the scope of the revolution. He still gauged it by the scope of the 1905 Revolution, and said that the most important task of the moment was to combine legal work with illegal.

The next day, in reply to Kollontai’s telegram asking for instructions, he wrote in a different vein, more concretely. He no longer spoke about the conquest of power by the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies prospectively, but spoke about concrete preparations for seizing power and arming the workers, about the fight for bread, peace and freedom. “Spread out! Rouse new sections! Awaken fresh initiative, form new organizations in every stratum and prove to them that peace can come only with the armed Soviet of Workers’ Deputies in power.” Together with Zinoviev, Ilyich set to work drawing up a resolution on the February Revolution.

N.K. Krupskaya, “Last Months in Emigration,” Reminiscences of Lenin

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