Letter to Alexei Rykov and Ivan Radchenko, October 28, 1920

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Author(s) Lenin
Written 28 October 1920

First published in part in 1925 in the book: G. Boltyansky, Lenin i kino, Moscow-Leningrad. Published in full in 1965 in Collected Works, Fifth Ed., Vol. 51. Published in part (without the postscript) in 1934 in the book: Lenin na khozyaistvennom fronte. Sbornik vospominanii, Moscow. Printed from the original; the postscript—from the text in Glyasser’s handwriting.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1975, Moscow, Volume 44, pages 456b-458.

28. X. 1920

1) Comrade Rykov (or, if he has not yet recovered, Comrade Milyutin)

2) and Comrade I. I. Radchenko, Chief Peat Committee

Copies to:

3) R. E. Klasson (to be found through


4) Krzhizhanovsky, Chairman of the State Commission for the Electrification of Russia

5) Sklyansky (§ 4) and Trotsky

6) Lezhava and Lomonosov

7) the Cinema Department

8) Sosnovsky

9) Shatunovsky (Chief Transport Commission).

On 27. X. 1920, a film before a large Party audience showed the working of a new hydraulic pump (of engineer R. E. Klasson) which mechanises the extraction of peat, as compared with the old method.

In this connection, an exchange of opinions took place between engineer Klasson, Comrades Radchenko and Morozov—representatives of the Chief Peat Committee, Comrade Shatunovsky (from the Chief Transport Commission), and myself.

This exchange of opinions revealed that the heads of the Chief Peat Committee fully agree with the inventor on the great importance of this invention. In all the work for restoring the national economy of the RSFSR and for the country’s electrification, mechanisation of peat extraction makes it possible to go ahead immeasurably more rapidly and firmly and on a broader front. It is therefore essential immediately to take a number of measures on a national scale to develop this work.

Please discuss this question immediately and give me without delay your comments (corrections, additions, counter-plans, and so on) on the following proposals arising from yesterday’s preliminary exchange of opinions.

1. To regard work on applying the hydraulic method of peat extraction as of prime state importance and therefore especially urgent. To pass a decision to this effect through the Council of People’s Commissars on Saturday, 30/X.

2. To instruct all chief committees (and other bodies), on whose support the successful work of the Commission (or committee?) for Hydraulic Peat Extraction (under the Chief Peat Committee) mainly depends, to delegate their representatives (preferably Communists or, in any case, people known to be conscientious and particularly energetic) to take a permanent part in this commission. To make them responsible, in particular, for the speediest fulfilment, without any procrastination, of the orders and requests of this commission. To give the Council of People’s Commissars the names and addresses of these representatives.

3. The same in regard to some of the most important factories involved. List of these factories to be drawn up.

4. To instruct the Naval Department to have its own representative on the commission, one fully acquainted with the stocks of materials and technical facilities of this department.

5. To issue Red Army rations to the group of people on whose work the rapid and complete success of the matter directly depends, increasing at the same time their remuneration so as to enable them to devote themselves wholly and completely to their work. To instruct the Commission for Hydraulic Peat Extraction to send immediately to the People’s Commissariat for Food and the All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions a list (exact) of these people, indicating standards of remuneration, bonuses, etc.

6. To discuss immediately with the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Trade what orders should be placed at once with Swedish and German factories (perhaps engaging there one or several prominent chemists) so that by the summer of 1921 we can receive what is necessary for the speediest and widest application of the hydraulic method. In particular, to make use of Comrade Lomonosov who is due to leave for Sweden and Germany within the next few days.

7. To instruct the Cinema Department (of the People’s Commissariat for Education?) to arrange for the film of the hydraulic method to be shown on a wide scale ( particularly in Petrograd, Ivanovo-Voznesensk, Moscow and peat-extraction localities) with the simultaneous reading, without fail, of a brief and popular leaflet (ask Comrade Sosnovsky to edit it) explaining the gigantic importance of mechanising peat extraction and of electrification.

8. I fix the first report of the Commission for the Hydraulic Method of Peat Extraction to the Council of People’s Commissars for 30. X. 1920.[1]

V. Ulyanov (Lenin)

Chairman, CPC.

P.S. Comrade Rykov, should not the question be raised of using more of the materials and technical facilities of the Naval Department for the needs of the production of the means of production? Why should we want new battleships and the like? Aren’t they out of place just now? Shatunovsky (take notice of him, he is a devoted and valuable man; a worker, studied mathematics abroad) says (according to Sosnovsky) that in the Naval Department Trotsky discovered something like a million poods of first-grade steel (for battleships) and took it for the Chief Transport Commission. Check this, think it over, perhaps we shall put it before the Council of Defence or the Council of People’s Commissars.



  1. On October 30, 1920, following a report by Lenin and Milyutin, the Council of People’s Commissars adopted a decision “On the Hydraulic Method of Peat Extraction”. Hydraulic peat work, wherever carried out, was acknowledged to be especially urgent and of extremely great state importance. The Board of the Supreme Economic Council was instructed to organise under the Chief Peat Committee a Department for Hydraulic Peat Extraction (Gidrotorf), with R. E. Klasson as responsible director. Concrete measures were endorsed for developing work on hydraulic peat extraction.