Primary Documents - Lenin's Call to Power, 24 October 1917

V. I. Lenin wearing a wig for purposes of disguise in August 1917 Having received news that the Russia's Provisional Government was about to raise the bridges spanning the Nava, Lenin hastily wrote, on 24 October 1917, his famous 'Call to Power' to the Soviet Central Committee.  In it he urged that power be quickly seized from Alexander Kerenski's Provisional Government.

His plan for an armed uprising was placed into action on the night of 24-25 October in Petrograd.  Kerenski's government was overthrown and Kerenski himself forced to flee the country in exile (thereafter spending much of the remainder of his long life in the U.S.).

Click here to read Lenin's 19 October call for civil unrest; click here to read his repeated appeal on the following day; click here to view the Bolshevik's statement of demands dated 24 October 1917.  Click here to read Lenin's proclamation announcing Kerenski's overthrow dated 25 October 1917.

Call to Power

I am writing these lines on the evening of the 24th.  The situation is critical in the extreme.  In fact it is now absolutely clear that to delay the uprising would be fatal.

With all my might I urge comrades to realize that everything now hangs by a thread; that we are confronted by problems which are not to be solved by conferences or congresses (even congresses of Soviets), but exclusively by peoples, by the masses, by the struggle of the armed people.

The bourgeois onslaught of the Kornilovites show that we must not wait.  We must at all costs, this very evening, this very night, arrest the government, having first disarmed the officer cadets, and so on.

We must not wait!  We may lose everything!

Who must take power?

That is not important at present.  Let the Revolutionary Military Committee do it, or "some other institution" which will declare that it will relinquish power only to the true representatives of the interests of the people, the interests of the army, the interests of the peasants, the interests of the starving.

All districts, all regiments, all forces must be mobilized at once and must immediately send their delegations to the Revolutionary Military Committee and to the Central Committee of the Bolsheviks with the insistent demand that under no circumstances should power be left in the hands of Kerensky and Co.... not under any circumstances; the matter must be decided without fail this very evening, or this very night.

History will not forgive revolutionaries for procrastinating when they could be victorious today (and they certainly will be victorious today), while they risk losing much tomorrow, in fact, the risk losing everything.

If we seize power today, we seize it not in opposition to the Soviets but on their behalf.

The seizure of power is the business of the uprising; its political purpose will become clear after the seizure....

...It would be an infinite crime on the part of the revolutionaries were they to let the chance slip, knowing that the salvation of the revolution, the offer of peace, the salvation of Petrograd, salvation from famine, the transfer of the land to the peasants depend upon them.

The government is tottering.  It must be given the death-blow at all costs.

A 'Toasting Fork' was a bayonet, often used for the named purpose.

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Primary Docs