Speeches at the meeting of the CC of the RSDLP(b), February 24, 1918
|Written||24 February 1918|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 27, 1972, pp. 53-56
The question of sending a delegation to Brest to sign the peace treaty was discussed.
Lenin considered that it was necessary to preserve continuity with the preceding delegation and since it would not be enough for Comrade Karakhan to go alone, it was very desirable that Comrades Joffe and Zinoviev should go.
A. A. Joffe categorically refused to go, declaring that “concluding peace is the death of the whole Brest policy”.
Lenin said that he did not insist on Joffe going as a plenipotentiary for signing the treaty, but he considered Comrade Joffe should go as a consultant. Undoubtedly, the Germans had sent their answer in the form of an ultimatum, fearing opposition on our part, but if they saw our willingness to sign the peace treaty they might agree also to negotiations. In view of this a consultant who knew the whole matter was essential. If it turned out that it was only necessary to sign, then, of course, there would be nothing to talk about, and the consultant would not even appear at the meeting.
Lenin said that Radek, though opposed to concluding peace, had nevertheless agreed to go, but the Poles had forbidden him to do so.
In further discussion L. D. Trotsky declared that in Brest it would only be necessary to sign the peace treaty and A. A. Joffe would not be necessary there, since in the Germans’ reply there was already a formulation on the chief questions.
Lenin considered that he was wrong, since experts were undoubtedly required at the signing of the treaty and we had none, even for a trade treaty. Krasin could have gone, but he had gone to Stockholm for a time. We were going to sign the treaty with clenched teeth, about which the delegation had made its declaration, but we did not know the situation, we did not know what might happen by the time the delegation arrived in Brest, and therefore Joffe as a consultant was essential. In general it must be borne in mind that we empowered the delegation to enter into negotiations if there was any possibility of doing so.
In further discussion the candidatures of G. Y. Zinoyloy and G. Y. Sokolnikov were put forward.
Lenin considered that both should be sent, and that if it was only a question of signing the peace treaty, they could both lieave at once, having reached agreement with Chicherin about further developments.
G. Y. Sokolnikov declared that he would not go to Brest and if the Central Committee insistedhe would resign frem the Central Committee.
Lenin asked the comrades not to get excited and pointed out that Comrade Petrovsky could go in the delegation as People’s Commissar.
mL.. D. Trotsky’s statement about his resigning the post of Peoplo’s Co missar for Foreign Affairs was d12cussed.
Lenin pointed out that tlhis was unacceptable, that a change of poliey was a crisis. T hat a questionnaire on policy had been distributed in tlhe provinces,” and tlhat to polemise a little was not at all harmful.
He made a practical proposal: the Central Committee would ask Comrade Trotsky to postpone his statemeiht until the next meeting of the CC, until Tuesday. (Amendment— until the return of the delegation from Brest.)
Lenin proposed that the following declaration should be put to the vote: the CC, considering it impossible to accept the resignation of Comrade Trotsky at the present time, requests him to postpone his decision until the return of the delegation from Brest or until a chaiige in the actual state of affairs.
Adopted with three abstaining.
L. D. Trotsky declared that since his statement had not been accepted he would be, compelled to give up appearing in official institutions.
Lenin moved that it should be voted: the Central Committee, having heard Comrade Trotsky’s statement, while fully agreeing to Comrade Trotsky’s absence during decisions on foreign affairs in the Council of People’s Commissars, requests Comrade Trotsky not to keep aloof from other decisions.
The CC discussed the statement of A. Lomov, M. S. Uritsky, V. M. Smirnov, G. L, Pyatakov, D. P. Bogolopov and A. P. Spunde about their resignation from posts in the Council of People’s Commissars, M. S. Uritsky expressed the hope that their statement concerning their resignation from responsible Party and Soviet posts would be published.
Lenin moved that it be adopted: the CC requests the comrades who submitted the statement to postpone their decision until the return of the delegation from Brest and to discuss this decision of the CC in the group.
Lenin moved two proposals:
1) While recognising the legitimate demand of the four, the CC requests them to discuss tho proposal of the CC and to postpone their statement both in view of the nearness of the Congress and in view of the complexity of the political situation.
2) While guaranteeing the comrades the publication of their statement in Pravda, the CC requests them to revise their decision and to discuss whether they do not find it possible to remain both in responsible posts and in the CC”
Lenin’s proposals were adopted.