Friday, September 15, 2017

Was Lenin a German Agent?

This is fascinating history and puts current  Russian and U.S. meddling in perspective. -RW

By Sean Mcmeekin

On April 16, 1917, Vladimir Ulyanov, the Russian exile better known by his revolutionary alias, Lenin, arrived at St. Petersburg’s Finland Station following a roundabout journey from Switzerland, after spending nearly two decades abroad. Lenin made an immediate splash with a fiery speech and a radical political program known as the “April Theses.” Russian, and world, politics would never be the same.

Because he returned home by way of Germany — and with
the obvious cooperation of the German High Command — which was then at war against Russia and her Entente allies (France, Britain and, from April 6, the United States), allegations that Lenin was a German agent were immediately hurled by his opponents, a charge that remains controversial to this day. If it is ever proved that Lenin was acting on behalf of the German Imperial Government in 1917, the implications for our understanding of the October Revolution, and the Soviet Communist regime born of it, which lasted until 1991, would be profound. This would amount to the greatest influence operation of all time, making present-day concerns about Russian meddling in Western elections, including last year’s American presidential contest, seem tame in comparison. Was it true?

In a sense, there was nothing particularly new about a German plot to undermine an enemy government in wartime. For centuries, great powers had played at this game. During the Napoleonic wars, France aided Irish rebels to undermine Britain, and Polish nationalists against Russia. Britain, in turn, backed Spanish guerrillas fighting French occupation forces. The Germans, though latecomers to the arena, were quick learners after Germany’s unification in 1871. They even coined a word for this specific type of influence operation: “Revolutionierungspolitik,” or policy of revolutionizing.

Had the British or French governments been weaker in World War I, they might have been undermined by other Lenins. In fact, Germany did target them, too, though German support for Irish nationalists and French pacifists never amounted to much.

Russia, long troubled with labor agitation and peasant unrest, was the weak link of the Entente alliance, and it is not surprising the Germans put so much effort into undermining Czarist rule. Ecumenical in their support for Russian revolutionaries, the Germans subsidized not only Lenin’s Bolsheviks, but also socialist rivals such as Leon Trotsky, then a Menshevik, who published antiwar articles in Paris and then New York City.

Read the rest here.


  1. Great article, certainly alot of "What ifs" can be played when one looks into World War 1 sometimes known as the "forgotten war" and how things could be today. For example; What if the British and French kept their promise to Husssein bin Ali and allowed him and supporters to run and rule their own country after the breakup of the Ottoman Empire?

  2. German anarchist Bakunin, a rival of Marx at the "First International" taunted Karl Marx as a "Bismarxist". He accused Marx of pushing pan-German authoritarianism under a false proletarian banner. It is forgotten (or buried) that the Bismark actually offered Karl Marx the editorship of "Staatsanzeiger", the official organ of his regime. Marx rejected the offer - but the fact that it was made is the real point.

    Besides Germany's right wing actually pioneering the welfare state in the 19th century, the 20th century's first real experiment with a planned economy was really Germany in WW1. They called it "War Socialism". Lenin, during the early "War Communism" period, urged his followers to "learn from the Germans."