Publication of the Secret Treaties

Leon Trotsky, Publication of the Secret Treaties. November 22, 1917


People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs Trotsky seized the secret treaties and papers of the Tsarist and Provisional governments to expose their complicity in the bloody war whose deserters had been strong supporters of the Bolsheviks.

Original Source: Izvestiia, No. 221, 23 November 1917, p. 4.

In undertaking the publication of the secret diplomatic documents relating to the foreign diplomacy of the tsarist and the bourgeois coalition governments, … we fulfill an obligation which our party assumed when it was the party of opposition.

Secret diplomacy is a necessary weapon in the hands of the propertied minority which is compelled to deceive the majority in order to make the latter serve its interests. Imperialism, with its world-wide plans of annexation, its rapacious alliances and machinations, has developed the system of secret diplomacy to the highest degree, … The Russian people as well as the other peoples of Europe and those of the rest of the world should be given the documentary evidence of the plans which the financiers and industrialists, together with their parliamentary and diplomatic agents, were secretly scheming …

Abolition of secret diplomacy is the first essential of an honorable, popular, and really democratic foreign policy. The Soviet Government has undertaken to carry out such a policy, and that is why, having offered to all belligerents an immediate armistice, it at the same time publishes the treaties and agreements which are no longer binding on the Russian workmen, soldiers, and peasants …

The bourgeois politicians and newspapers of Germany and Austria-Hungary will no doubt seize upon the published documents and will try to represent the diplomatic work of the Central Empires in a favorable light. Such an attempt is foredoomed to failure; and this for two reasons: In the first place, we intend in a short time to present at the bar of public opinion a series of secret documents which amply illustrate the diplomatic methods of the Central Empires. In the second place, and this is most important–the methods of secret diplomacy are as international as those of imperialistic plunder. When the German proletariat, by revolutionary means, gets access to the secrets of the chancelleries of its government it will discover documents in them of just the same character as those we are about to publish. It is to be hoped that this will happen at an early date.

The government of workers and peasants abolished secret diplomacy with its intrigues, ciphers, and lies. We have nothing to hide. Our program expresses the ardent desires of millions of workers, soldiers, and peasants. We desire a speedy peace on the basis of honest relations with and the full co-operation of all nations. We desire a speedy abolition of the supremacy of capital. In revealing to the whole world the work of the governing classes as it is expressed in the secret documents of diplomacy, we offer to the workers the slogan which will always form the basis of our foreign policy: “Proletarians of all countries, unite!”

L. TROTSKY People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs

Source: James Bunyan and H.H. Fisher, ed., Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1918; Documents and Materials (Stanford: Stanford University Press; H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1934), pp. 243-244.

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