Iosif Stalin, On the Death of Lenin. January 26, 1924
The Second All-Union Congress of Soviets was held in Moscow from January 26 to February 2, 1924. At the first sitting, which was devoted to the memory of Lenin, Stalin delivered a speech in which, in the name of the Bolshevik Party, he took a solemn vow to hold sacred and fulfill the behests of Lenin. In connection with the death of Lenin, the congress adopted an appeal «To Toiling Mankind». To perpetuate the memory of Lenin, the congress adopted a decision to publish Lenin’s Works, to change the name of Petrograd to Leningrad, to establish a Day of Mourning, and to erect a mausoleum for Lenin in the Red Square in Moscow, and monuments to him in the capitals of the Union Republics and also in the cities of Leningrad and Tashkent.
Original Source: Pravda, January 30, 1924
Comrades, we Communists are people of a special mold. We are made of a special stuff. We are those who form the army of the great proletarian strategist, the army of Comrade Lenin. There is nothing higher than the honor of belonging to this army. There is nothing higher than the title of member of the party whose founder and leader was Comrade Lenin. It is not given to everyone to be a member of such a party. It is not given to everyone to withstand the stresses and storms that accompany membership in such a party. It is the sons of the working class, the sons of want and struggle, the sons of incredible privation and heroic effort who before all should be members of such a party. That is why the party of the Leninists, the party of the Communists, is also called the party of the working class.
Departing from us, Comrade Lenin enjoined us to hold high and guard the purity of the great title of member of the party. We vow to you, Comrade Lenin, that we shall fulfill your behest with honor!
For twenty-five years Comrade Lenin tended our party and made it into the strongest and most highly steeled workers’ party in the world. The blows of tsarism and its henchmen, the fury of the bourgeoisie and the landlords, the armed attacks of Kolchak and Denikin, the armed intervention of Britain and France, the lies and slanders of the hundred-mouthed bourgeois press-all these scorpions constantly chastised our party for a quarter of a century. But our party stood firm as a rock, repelling the countless blows of its enemies and leading the working class forward, to victory. In fierce battles our party forged the unity and solidarity of its ranks. And by unity and solidarity it achieved victory over the enemies of the working class. Departing from us, Comrade Lenin enjoined us to guard the unity of our party and the apple of our eye. We vow to you, Comrade Lenin, that this behest, too, we shall fulfill with honor! …
Like a huge rock, our country stands out amid an ocean of bourgeois states. Wave after wave dashes against it, threatening to submerge it and wash it away. But the rock stands unshakable. Wherein lies its strength? Not only in the fact that our country rests on an alliance of the workers and peasants, that it embodies a union of free nationalities, that it is protected by the mighty arm of the Red Army and the Red Navy. The strength, the firmness, the solidity of our country is due to the profound sympathy and unfailing support it finds in the hearts of the workers and peasants of the whole world. The workers and peasants of the whole world want to preserve-the Republic of Soviets as an arrow shot by the sure hand of Comrade Lenin into the camp of the enemy, as the pillar of their hopes of deliverance from oppression and exploitation, as a reliable beacon pointing the path to their emancipation. They want to preserve it, and they will not allow the landlords and capitalists to destroy it. Therein lies our strength. Therein lies the strength of the working people of all countries. And therein lies the weakness of the bourgeoisie all over the world.
Lenin never regarded the Republic of Soviets as an end in itself. He always looked on it as an essential link for strengthening the revolutionary movement in the countries of the West and the East, an essential link for facilitating the victory of the working people of the whole world over capitalism. Lenin knew that this was the only right conception, both from the international standpoint and from the standpoint of preserving the Republic of Soviets itself. Lenin knew that this alone could fire the hearts of the working people of the whole world with determination to fight the decisive battles for their emancipation. That is why, on the very morrow of the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, he, the greatest of the geniuses who have led the proletariat, laid the foundation of the workers’ International. That is why he never tired of extending and strengthening the union of the working people of the whole world-the Communist International.
You have seen during the past few days the pilgrimage of scores and hundreds of thousands of working people to Comrade Lenin’s bier. Before long you will see the pilgrimage of representatives of millions of working people to Comrade Lenin’s tomb. You need not doubt that the representatives of millions will be followed by representatives of scores and hundreds of millions from all parts of the earth, who will come to testify that Lenin was the leader not only of the Russian proletariat, not only of the European workers, not only of the colonial East, but of all the working people of the globe.
Departing from us, Comrade Lenin enjoined us to remain faithful to the principles of the Communist International. We vow to you, Comrade Lenin, that we shall not spare our lives to strengthen and extend the union of the working people of the whole world-the Communist International!
Source: I. V. Stalin, Works (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1952-1955), Vol. VI, pp. 47-53.