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Russian History: XX century

Russian History: XIX entury

Krupskaya's Reminiscences of Lenin

Ilyich Moves to Moscow, His First Months of Work in Moscow

The German advance and the capture of Pskov by them showed what danger the government was exposing itself to by remaining in Petrograd. In Finland civil war had broken out. It was decided to evacuate to Moscow. This was essential from the organizing point of view as well. The work had to be done in the centre of the country's economic and political life.

On March 12 the Soviet Government moved to Moscow, the centre of Soviet Russia, which was at a safer distance from the frontiers and closer to a number of provinces with which closer contact had to be made.

On March 11, the day of the evacuation, Ilyich wrote an article entitled "The Main Task of Our Day," which was published in Izvestia on March 12. This article was programmatic, and at the same time strikingly characteristic of Ilyich's mood at the time.

The article begins with a quotation from Nekrasov's poem Who Can Be Happy and Free in Russia:

Thou art so pitiful,
Poor, and so sorrowful,
Yet of great treasure full,
Mighty, all-powerful,
Russia, my Mother!

Briefly, in a few pithy sentences, Ilyich deals with the significance of the great proletarian revolution, then mentions the humiliating character of the Brest peace. Further, he writes of the struggle for a mighty and abundant Russia:

"Russia will become so if she casts aside all dejection and all phrasemongering, if she clenches her teeth, musters all her forces, strains every nerve, tightens every muscle, and if she understands that salvation lies only along that road of the international socialist revolution upon which we have set foot. It is by marching forward along that road, undismayed by defeats, it is by laying stone by stone the firm foundation of a socialist society, and by working with might and main for the building of discipline and self-discipline and for consolidating everywhere organization, order, efficiency, the harmonious cooperation of all the forces of the people, and over-all accountancy and control of the production and distribution of productsthat is the way to build up military might and socialist might." (Works, Vol. 27, p. 135.)

"Since October 25, 1917, we are defencists," wrote Ilyich. "We are for 'defence of the motherland'; but that patriotic war towards which we are moving is a war for a socialist motherland, for socialism as a motherland, for the Soviet Republic, as a detachment of the world army of socialism." (Ibid., pp. 136-37.)

Now, eighteen years after this article was written, when we have advanced far along the path of socialist construction and achieved decisive victories of socialism in our country, when we are "marching through life with a song," when we can already say with full right that our socialist homeland has achieved abundance and might, when millions, with an energy and initiative unprecedented in history, are winning the goal that was so brilliantly expressed by Lenin in his article "The Main Task of Our Day"that article looks so matter of fact and natural. But one has to recollect those days in order to appreciate the full impact of that article.

Ilyich was full of energy, prepared cap-a-pie for the struggle.

At first we (Ilyich, Maria Ilyinichna and I) were put up at the National Hotel in Moscow (then called the First House of Soviets), where we had two rooms with a bath on the first floor. It was spring, and Moscow's generous sun was shining brightly. Okhotny Ryadan open marketplacebegan just outside the hotel. This was a colourful spot of old Moscow with its market stalls and shops whose owners had once knifed the students. Lots of people came to see Ilyich, many of them military men.

On March 18 the English landed a party of 400-500 marines in Murmansk ostensibly for the purpose of guarding the military stores set up there by the Entente under the tsarist government. The idea behind this landing party was clear.

At the National we were fed on English tinned meat with which the English fed their soldiers at the front. Once, during the meal, Ilyich remarked: "I wonder what we're going to feed our own soldiers with at the fronts?" Life at the National, nevertheless, was like a bivouac. Ilyich was eager to settle down in permanent quarters where he could get down to work.

It was decided to house the government offices and the principal members of the government in the Kremlin. We were to live there too.

I remember Sverdlov and Bonch-Bruyevich conducting us to the Kremlin for the first time to see our future apartment. We were allotted one in the building of the Court of Chancery. An old stone staircase, the steps of which had been worn down by the feet of generations of visitors, led to the second floor where the public prosecutor of the High Court used to have his apartment. It was planned to give us the kitchen with three rooms adjoining it which had a separate entrance, the rest of the apartment being assigned to house the offices of the Council of People's Commissars. The largest room was set aside as a conference hall (the meetings of the Council of People's Commissars of the U.S.S.R. are still being held there). Adjoining this was Ilyich's private office, which stood closer to the main entrance used by visitors. It was all very convenient. The building was in a filthy state, though; the stoves were broken and the ceilings cracked. Our future apartment was the dirtiest place of allthe caretakers had been living there. The place needed doing up.

We were given temporary lodgingstwo clean roomsin the so-called Cavalier Chambers of the Kremlin.

Ilyich liked to stroll about the Kremlin, which commanded a sweeping view of the city. He liked best of all to walk along the pavement facing the Grand Palace, where there was plenty to fill the eye. He was also fond of taking walks along the wall below, where there was lots of greenery and few people.

In one of the temporary rooms which we occupied there was an old publication lying on a table containing pictures of the Kremlin with historical notes concerning its buildings and towers. Ilyich liked to thumb through that album. The Kremlin of those days (1918) bore little resemblance to the Kremlin of today. Everything in it breathed of a bygone splendour. Next to the Chancery building was the pink-painted Chudov Monastery with its small latticed windows; by the steep bank stood the statue of Alexander II; below, nestling against the wall, stood some ancient church. Opposite the Chancery, workers were at work in the Kremlin building. There were no new squares or buildings then. The Kremlin was guarded by Red Army men.

The old army was demoralized and had been disbanded. A new army, a strong revolutionary army imbued with the spirit of enthusiasm and the will to victory, had to be built up.

At the beginning the Red Army bore little resemblance to a conventional army. It was burning with enthusiasm, but in outward appearance it was primitive. The men had no uniforms, and each one wore the clothes he had come in. There were no definite regulations or system of rules. The enemies of the Soviet power sneered at the Red Army men, and did not believe that the Bolsheviks were capable of creating a strong, well-knit army. The man in the street was scared of the Red Army soldiers, who looked like brigands to him. Adoratsky had a woman translator working for him in 1919, and when he asked her to come to the Kremlin to get some work, she did not dare to for fear of the Red Army men who were guarding the Kremlin.

Foreigners particularly were struck by the absence of the customary discipline and conduct on the part of the guards.

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