Primary Documents - Leon Trotsky's Statement of Bolshevik Foreign Policy, 20 November 1917

Leon Trotsky in uniform, 1918 Reproduced below is the text of Leon Trotsky's formal announcement of Bolshevik foreign policy, dated 20 November 1917.

In his statement Trotsky made clear that Bolshevik Russia intended to "make a formal offer of an armistice to all the belligerents, enemy and ally".

Click here to read a memoir recounting the initial armistice discussions.  Click here to read the text of the preliminary armistice signed on 16 December 1917.

Leon Trotsky's Announcement of Bolshevik Foreign Policy, 20 November 1917

By order of the All-Russian Workmen's and Soldiers' Congress, the Council of The People's Commissaries assumed power, with obligation to offer all the peoples and their respective Governments an immediate armistice on all fronts, with the purpose of opening pourparlers immediately for the conclusion of a democratic peace.

When the power of the council is firmly established throughout the country, the council will, without delay, make a formal offer of an armistice to all the belligerents, enemy and ally.  A draft message to this effect has been sent to all the Peoples' Commissaries for foreign affairs and to all the plenipotentiaries and representatives of allied nations in Petrograd.

The council also has sent orders to the citizen Commander in Chief that, after receiving the present message, he shall approach the commanding authorities of the enemy armies with an offer of a cessation of all hostile activities for the purpose of opening peace pourparlers, and that he shall, first, keep the council constantly informed by direct wire of pourparlers with the enemy armies, and, second, that he shall sign the preliminary act only after approval by the Commissaries Council.

Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. V, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923

Shrapnel comprised steel balls ejected from shells upon detonation.

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Primary Docs