Letter from Lenin

Copy To Comrade Molotov

Top Secret For members of the Politburo.

Please make no copies for any reason. Each member of the Politburo (incl. Comrade Kalinin) should
comment
directly on the document. Lenin.

In regard to the occurrence at Shuia, which is already slated for discussion by the Polituro, it is necessary
right now to
make a firm decision about a general plan of action in the present course. Because I doubt that I will be
able to attend
the Politburo meeting on March 20th in person, I will set down my thoughts in writing.

The event at Shuia should be connected with the announcement that the Russian News Agency [ROST]
recently sent
to the newspapers but that was not for publication, namely, the announcement that the Black Hundreds in
Petrograd
[Piter] were preparing to defy the decree on the removal of property of value from the churches. If this fact
is
compared with what the papers report about the attitude of the clergy to the decree on the removal of
church
property in addition to what we know about the illegal proclamation of Patriarch Tikhon, then it becomes
perfectly
clear that the Black Hundreds clergy, headed by its leader, with full deliberation is carrying out a plan at
this very
moment to destroy us decisively.

It is obvious that the most influential group of the Black Hundreds clergy conceived this plan in secret
meetings and
that it was accepted with sufficient resolution. The events in Shuia is only one manifestation and
actualization of this
general plan.

I think that here our opponent is making a huge strategic error by attempting to draw us into a decisive
struggle now
when it is especially hopeless and especially disadvantageous to him. For us, on the other hand, precisely at
the
present moment we are presented with an exceptionally favorable, even unique, opportunity when we can
in 99 out of
100 chances utterly defeat our enemy with complete success and guarantee for ourselves the position we
require for
decades. Now and only now, when people are being eaten in famine-stricken areas, and hundreds, if not
thousands, of
corpses lie on the roads, we can (and therefore must) pursue the removal of church property with the most
frenzied
and ruthless energy and not hesitate to put down the least opposition. Now and only now, the vast majority
of
peasants will either be on our side, or at least will not be in a position to support to any decisive degree this
handful of
Black Hundreds clergy and reactionary urban petty bourgeoisie, who are willing and able to attempt to
oppose this
Soviet decree with a policy of force.

We must pursue the removal of church property by any means necessary in order to secure for ourselves a
fund of
several hundred million gold rubles (do not forget the immense wealth of some monasteries and lauras).
Without this
fund any government work in general, any economic build-up in particular, and any upholding of soviet
principles in
Genoa especially is completely unthinkable. In order to get our hands on this fund of several hundred
million gold
rubles (and perhaps even several hundred billion), we must do whatever is necessary. But to do this
successfully is
possible only now. All considerations indicate that later on we will fail to do this, for no other time, besides
that of
desperate famine, will give us such a mood among the general mass of peasants that would ensure us the
sympathy of
this group, or, at least, would ensure us the neutralization of this group in the sense that victory in the
struggle for the
removal of church property unquestionably and completely will be on our side.

One clever writer on statecraft correctly said that if it is necessary for the realization of a well-known
political goal to
perform a series of brutal actions then it is necessary to do them in the most energetic manner and in the
shortest
time, because masses of people will not tolerate the protracted use of brutality. This observation in
particular is
further strengthened because harsh measures against a reactionary clergy will be politically impractical,
possibly even
extremely dangerous as a result of the international situation in which we in Russia, in all probability, will
find
ourselves, or may find ourselves, after Genoa. Now victory over the reactionary clergy is assured us
completely. In
addition, it will be more difficult for the major