‘Prepare for new battles’: Sixth Congress of Bolshevik Party held in Petrograd


From I.B. Khlebnikov Workers’ University:

In Petrograd on July 26, 1917 (August 8 on the modern calendar), in conditions of semi-legality (the venue of the congress was changed and not announced in the public press), the Sixth Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (Bolsheviks) – RSDLP (b) was opened. Present were 157 delegates with decisive votes and 110 with advisory votes, representing 162 party organizations (about 240,000 members).

Although the party was still called “RSDLP” in its program, already in the  speech by Olminsky, who opened the congress, emphasis was put on the irrevocable nature of the break [with international social democracy] — the numbering of congresses was restored, at which this congress was the sixth (the Third Congress in 1905 was not recognized by the Mensheviks, and after the reunification of the party, the Fourth Congress in 1906 was officially called the “Unity Congress,” and the fifth in 1907, the London Congress.)

Also, the Mezhraiontsy (Interdistrict organization) participated in the congress (in the absence of the arrested Trotsky and Lunacharsky, represented by Uritsky, Yurenev, Joffe and others).

On the first day of the congress, its presidium was elected (Sverdlov, Olminsky, Lomov, Yurenev, Stalin) along with honorary members (Lenin and Zinoviev who were underground, and Kamenev, Kollontai, Trotsky and Lunacharsky, who were arrested after the July Days).

The presidium of the Sixth Congress.


From Union Borotba (Struggle):

Exactly 100 years ago in Petrograd the fateful Sixth Congress of the RSDLP (b) was held. The Sixth Congress pointed the party toward an armed uprising, toward the socialist revolution.

The political situation in the country had changed dramatically after the July Days. There was no dual power. The Soviets with their Social Revolutionary-Menshevik leadership did not want to take all the power. Therefore, the Soviets became toothless.

Power was concentrated in the hands of the bourgeois Provisional Government, and the latter continued to disarm the revolution, to smash its organization, to smash the Bolshevik Party. The possibilities for the peaceful development of the revolution had disappeared. All the decisions of the Sixth Congress were aimed at preparing the proletariat and the poorest peasantry for an armed insurrection.

The manifesto of the party issued by the Congress called upon the workers, soldiers, and peasants to prepare their forces for decisive battles. It  ended with these words:

“Prepare yourself for new battles, our comrades-in-arms! Strongly, courageously and calmly, without succumbing to provocation, preserve your forces, create battle columns! Under the banner of the party, proletarians and soldiers! Under our banner, oppressed villages!”

House on B. Sampsonievsky Avenue where the Sixth Congress of the RSDLP(b) was opened on August 8, 1917.


Translated by Greg Butterfield


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