Table of Contents

Acknowledgements and Dedication
Chapter 1. How Should We Reorganize the WPI
Chapter 2. Letter to the Congress
Chapter 3. Letter to the Congress, Continued
Chapter 4. Letters to Trotsky and to Mdivani and Makharadze
Chapter 5. The Question of Nationalities
Chapter 6. The Ultimatum Letter
Chapter 7. Trotsky on the Testament
Chapter 8. Moshe Lewin
Chapter 9. Lidia Fotieva's Memoir
Chapter 10. The Diary of the Secretaries
Chapter 11. Ulyanova's statements
Chapter 12. Krupskaya
Chapter 13. Conclusion
Appendix: Ulyanova’s letter to the Joint Plenum of the CC and the CCC, April, 19291
Bibliography and illustrations



Acknowledgements and Dedication


I wish to express my gratitude to Kevin Prendergast, Arthur Hudson - Arthur, may you enjoy your well-deserved retirement! - and Siobhan McCarthy, the skilled and tireless Inter-Library Loan librarians at Harry S. Sprague Library, Montclair State University.

Without their help, my research would simply not be possible. With their continued help, I can persevere.


I would like to recognize Montclair State University for giving me a sabbatical leave in the fall semester of 2015, and special research travel funds in 2017, 2019, and 2020, which have been invaluable in my research on this book.



I dedicate this book to my parents and grandparents: to: my father, Grover Carr Furr, Jr., my mother, Jacqueline Devine Kinney Furr, my maternal grandparents, Will Hoover Kinney and Josephine Devine Kinney, and my paternal grandparents, Grover Carr Furr, Sr., and Beulah Mae Little Furr.




The canonical accounts of Lenin’s last writings accept the version that Lenin left a "testament" that included a number of negative remarks about Joseph Stalin, and that Lenin wished to remove Stalin from the position of General Secretary of the All-Union Communist Party (bolshevik)[1]. This version stems partly from Trotsky, who embraced it eagerly in his campaign to replace Stalin as Party leader; partly from Lenin’s wife Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya; and partly from Nikita Khrushchev and the Khrushchev-era fifth and last edition of Lenin’s works, the Polnoe Sobranie Sochinenii ("Complete Collection of Writings”), or PSS.

There is much confusion concerning just which of Lenin’s last writings make up his "testament" As the reader of this book will discover, this is because the concept of a "testament of Lenin” was invented by others, not by Lenin, who never used the term and clearly was never aware that he left a "testament.” Lenin made no "testament, " as Nadezhda Krupskaya, his wife, admitted in 1925. Leon Trotsky admitted this too, although he later resurrected the claim that Lenin left a "testament" when, in exile from the Soviet Union, it seemed in his own interest to do so.

Throughout 1922 Lenin’s health declined. In May 1922 he suffered his first stroke. By December 16, 1922, Lenin’s muscular control was so impaired that he could no longer write. From this date until he became too ill to work at all Lenin had to dictate to a secretary - a task he found difficult.

As far as we can determine from the available records, Lenin never again met in person with any Party leaders after December 12, 1922. Only his wife Nadezhda Krupskaya, his sister Maria Il'inichna Ulyanova, the women in his secretariat, his doctors and his nurses visited him in person. None of the writings attributed to Lenin and dated after December 12, 1922, bear his personal, i.e. handwritten, signature or even his initials.


The Research of Valentin A. Sakharov

The present book is largely based on the research of Professor Valentin A. Sakharov of Moscow State University. His 2003 book, Lenin's "Political Testament", published by Moscow State University Press, [2] is the result of years of access to and study of many of the archival copies of Lenin’s works, drafts of those works, and originals of other important documents related to the question of Lenin’s "testament."


Lenin’s Last Writings

Because the concept of "Lenin’s testament” originated after Lenin’s death and was never clearly defined, there is disagreement over which documents attributed to Lenin should be considered a part of the "testament.” Sakharov divides Lenin’s last writings into two groups: those which are unproblematically Lenin’s work, though dictated; and those that are attributed to Lenin but are of questionable authorship.

The texts whose authorship by Lenin is not doubted are:

* Notes On Gosplan: "Granting Legislative Functions To The State Planning Commission” Dated December 27, 1922 - CW 36, 598- 602.

* The Beginning of the Development of the Reorganization Plan for the Central Committee and the People’s Commissariat of the Russian Republic (Addition to the Section on Increasing the Number of C.C. Members) December 29, 1922 - CW 36, 603-604.

* The Article "Pages From A Diary" - Title in English language edition is "On Education” - CW 33, 462-466.

* The "Article[3]" "On Cooperation” - CW 33, 467-475

* The "Article"[4] "Our Revolution (Apropos of N. Sukhanov's Notes)”- CW 33, 476-480

* The Original Version of the Article on the Reorganization of the CC of the RKP (b)

* "How We Should Reorganise the Wokers' and Peasants' Inspection" (19-23 January 1923) - CW 33, 481-486

* "Better Fewer, But Better" (end of January - beginning of March 1923)-CW33, 487-502

* The texts that raise doubts concerning Lenin’s authorship are:

* “Letter to the Congress” (dictations of December 24-25, 1922) and "Addition to the Letter of December 24, 1922” dated January 4, 1923 - CW 36, 593-595; CW 36, 596.

* The Letter to Trotsky, March 5, 1923. - CW 45, 607

* The Letter to Mdivani and Makharadze, dated March 6, 1923. - CW 45, 607-8.

* The "Ultimatum Letter" to Stalin, dated March 5, 1923. CW 45, 607-8.

Sakharov discusses all these documents, including those whose authorship by Lenin is not contested. I will discuss only those documents whose authorship by Lenin is in doubt.

As a professor at Moscow State University Sakharov gained access to many - though far from all - of the originais of these primary documents from Lenin's secretariat, as well as other materials. At the time of this writing (March 2022) these documents are still not available to other researchers. Sakharov quotes extensively from many of these documents, describes others, and reproduces photographs of a few of the most important ones.


My Use of Sakharov’s Book

Sakharov's book, 716 pages in length, is the basic source of the first six chapters of the present book.

In this book the numbers in parentheses after a passage in the text refer to pages of Sakharov's book. In many places I quote directly from this book. Where I have done so, the quotations are indented. In many other places I have paraphrased or summarized Sakharov’s discussion. Quotations, paraphrases, and summary passages are always indicated by a page number in parentheses.

A translation into English of Sakharov’s lengthy book would be a major undertaking and may never be done. Moreover, the Russian text is not organized in a way to make it easily understandable to a non-academic audience. For example, a given text may be discussed in several different parts of the book. The full impact of Sakharov's evidence and analysis is dissipated somewhat by the length and complexity of Sakharov’s presentation.

In 2018 I decided to study Sakharov’s book very closely. That study took me several years. It included making notes on long sections of the book and, when I felt it necessary, translating long sections word for word into English, just to make certain that I understood Sakharov’s argument accurately. Once I had done all this it seemed to me to be more important than ever to write a shorter book for a broader audience - a book that would make Sakharov’s excellent research widely available in a way that even a complete translation of his long and important Russian book might not.


Stephen Kotkin’s Study of “The Testament of Lenin”

The present book also makes a number of references to Stephen Kotkin’s book Stalin. Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928. This is the first volume of Kotkin’s projected three-volume biography of Stalin.[5] As I have sharply criticized Kotkin’s second volume, [6] I will say a few words about this first volume.

This first volume does contain many problematic passages. For instance, it contains plenty of gratuitous remarks that attest to Kotkin’s anticommunism and his willingness at times to abandon any pretense at objectivity.

But Kotkin has clearly studied Sakharov ’s book with great care. He summarizes Sakharov’s discussion well, and accepts Sakharov’s conclusion that the anti-Stalin documents in Lenin’s last works, the so-called "testament, " are fabrications. Kotkin also makes some acute observations about Sakharov’s analysis. This is why I cite Kotkin’s discussion of the documents in the "testament” and their use in the political struggles of the 1920s.

However, Kotkin’s remarks on the "testament" and its political use, and on Sakharov’s analysis, are widely scattered throughout several hundred pages of his lengthy work. This makes any overall assessment of Sakharov’s study inaccessible to any but the most dedicated and meticulous reader of Kotkin’s book.

Kotkin also deploys Sakharov’s conclusions - which he accepts - in order to promote his, Kotkin’s, own notion that the struggle over the "testament" gave Stalin a sense of persecution and a suspiciousness that either created or at least strengthened a supposed paranoia that "explains, " for Kotkin, Stalin’s alleged persecution and murders of real and suspected oppositionists during the 1930s. The attempt to apply notions derived from psychoanalysis to account for the behavior of historical figures is called "psychohistory." Robert Tucker, Kotkin’s mentor at Princeton University, avidly practiced this kind of pseudo-history in his own "psychohistoricar biography of Stalin.[7] Kotkin’s application of this nonsense is on full display in the second volume of his Stalin biography Stalin. Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941 (2017). I have exposed Kotkin’s falsifications in Stalin. Waiting for ... the Truth (2020).

So Kotkin abuses Sakharov’s excellent analysis and conclusions, bending them to his own purposes. Nevertheless, Kotkin has studied Sakharov carefully and understands him well. Some of his remarks are acute and useful.


She Gorbunov-Fotieva-GIyasser “Commission”

I discuss the report of this "commission" in Chapter 4 of the present book. The archival files of this "commission” have not been published. As far as I am aware Professor Sakharov is the only person to have studied them in detail. For this reason, my account of this “commission" consists largely of Sakharov’s account in English translation. In his book Stalin. Paradoxes of Power 1878- 1928 Stephen Kotkin also draws his account of the "commission" from Sakharov’s book.

The account of this "commission" in Vladen T. Loginov, in his book Lenin. Sim pobedishi, pages 465-471 (PDF edition) is taken from official sources such as the PSS and volume 12 of the multivolume Biograficheskaia khronika (Biographic chronicle) of Lenin’s life. It contains no references to the actual documents of the "commission, " and I do not cite it.


The Procedure in This Book

Page numbers in parentheses alone - e.g., (314) - are pages in Sakharov’s book.

Page numbers of other works are identified by the author’s last name plus the page number, all in parentheses: e.g. (Kotkin 314).

Volume and page numbers to the 5 Russian edition of Lenin’s works, the Polnoe Sobranie Sochinenii (PSS), are identified by the volume in Roman numerals followed by the page number, all in parentheses: e.g. (XLV 344).

Volume and page numbers to the 4 English edition of Lenin’s work are identified by the letters "CW", for collected works, followed by the volume in Arabic numbers and page numbers: e.g. (CW 42, 250).

The text of the Doctor’s Journal - “Dnevnik dezhurnogo vracha V.I. Lenina v 1922-1923 gg." is cited by the journal and page number. E.g. Voprosy Istorii KPSS 9 (1991), 45; Kentavr Okt-Dek 1991, 112.

The English language translation of the text of the Secretaries Journal - "Journal of Lenin’s Duty Secretaries November 21, 1922 - March 6, 1923" - is cited as "SJ" in the text or as "CW 42” plus a page number, in parentheses: (CW 42, 475).

The Russian text of the Secretaries Journal - "Dnevnik dezhurykh sekretarei V.L Lenina 21 noiabria 1922 g. - 6 marta 1923 g.” is abbreviated in the text as "SJ” and cited as the volume number of the PSS, in this case, XLV, plus the page number, all in parentheses: (XLV 460).

I have occasionally referred to the Secretaries Journal (SJ) as "Diary of Duty Secretaries” when the "diary format” is specifically under discussion.



Chapter 1. How Should We Reorganize the WPI?


The latest and last Soviet edition of Lenin's works is the Polnoe Sobranie Sochinenii (PSS). In this edition the next-to-last paragraph in the article "How We Should Reorganise the Workers’ And Peasants’ Inspection” of January, 1923, reads as follows:

Our Central Committee has grown into a strictly centralised and highly authoritative group, but the conditions under which this group is working are not commensurate with its authority. The reform I recommend should help to remove this defect, and the members of the Central Control Commission, whose duty it will be to attend all meetings of the Political Bureau in a definite number, will have to form a compact group which should not allow anybody's authority without exception, neither that of the General Secretary [gensec in the Russian original] nor of any other member of the Central Committee, to prevent them from putting questions, verifying documents, and, in general, from keeping themselves fully informed of all things and from exercising the strictest control over the proper conduct of affairs. (XLV 387; CW 33. 485)

This "Gensec" (= General Secretary) passage highlighted above was not present in any edition of this article of Lenin's until the publication of volume XLV of the PSS in 1970. What is going on here?

The article was printed in Pravda on January 25, 1923. Presumably, therefore, Lenin completed work on it in the 45-minute long dictation mentioned in the Doctors Journal for January 23:

  23 января. Спал Владимир Ильич после 2-х таблеток сомиацетина с 11 до 4-х часов. Проснулся, снова принял 2 таблетки, почти тотчас же заснул и спал до 9 часов с четвертью. Проснулся в хорошем настроении. Было сделано обтирание. Завтракал с аппетитом. Утром диктовал 45 мин. стенографистке (50) и читал. Врачи видели Владимира Ильича в половине второго. Настроение хорошее, голова свежая и не болит. После обеда Владимир Ильич спал 1 час. Чувствовал себя удовлетворительно. Читал.[8]


January 23. Vladimir Ilyich slept after 2 tablets of somiacetin from 11 to 4 o'clock. He woke up, took 2 pills again, fell asleep almost immediately and slept until a quarter past 9 o'clock. He woke up in a good mood. His rubdown was done. He ate breakfast with gusto. In the morning he dictated for 45 minutes to a stenographer (50) and read. The doctors saw Vladimir Ilyich at half past one. His mood was good, his head fresh and did not ache. After lunch, Vladimir Ilyich slept for 1 hour. He felt satisfactory. He read.

Sakharov has inspected the archival copies of this article.

The final version of the article was represented by four typewritten copies. All of them are dated January 23, 1923. The date is typewritten, executed simultaneously with the text of the article. One of them was registered when it arrived at the Lenin archive on March 10, 1923 (delo 42, b/No.) [960]. On each of them, before the text of the article, is printed: "Published in Pravda on 25.1.23, in No. 16.”

There is good evidence that Lenin read this article as printed.

One of them (the second) has holes in the upper margin, made by a hole punch, thanks to which the sheets were affixed to a special folder to make it easier for Lenin to work with. This indicates that this copy was printed before the article was sent by Lenin for publication, and that he was acquainted with this text. This is confirmed by the note stored with this article, which Volodicheva wrote for M.I. Ulyanova: "Please alert Vladimir Il’ich that the entire article is attached to one folder from beginning to end.”

There are also two copies of the pages of this article and two copies of newspaper clippings (Pravda, January 25, 1923) with the article "How to reorganize the WP1" (strips of newspaper sheets with text pasted on sheets of paper). One newspaper version of the article also has holes in the upper margin from the punch, which suggests that Lenin read them. (299)

This seems to clinch the issue. Lenin either did read the printed version of his article, or, in any case, there was a presumption that he would read it If Lenin had inserted the passage about the General Secretary and then had seen that it had been taken out, he would surely have complained, and some record of his complaint would remain.

If Stalin - for the absence of this passage in earlier editions was conveniently and without any evidence whatsoever blamed on Stalin - had arranged this, he would have taken a terrible chance. But there is no evidence that Stalin interfered in any way with the publication of this or of any of Lenin’s articles.

On January 10, 1924, in the transcript of a Party conference near Moscow, Timofei V. Sapronov, a Left Oppositionist who until recently had been a C.C. member, testified that this article of Lenin’s had been “printed without changes" and stated that "the Politburo did not change anything.”

САПРОНОВ: Я, товарищи, не понимаю этого вопроса.

* Статья была напечатана без изменения?

САПРОНОВ: Да, без изменения. Политбюро не изменило ничего. (Izv TsK 11, 1989, р. 186]


SAPRONOV: Comrades, I do not understand this question.

* Was the article printed unchanged?

SAPRONOV: Yes, without change. The Politburo changed nothing.

Sakharov has also discovered the source of the version of Lenin’s article with the "gensec" passage.

In addition to the archive file (No. 23543), in which the texts of the article discussed above are stored, it turns out that there is another one (No. 24821), in which are stored three texts of the article "How to reorganize Rabkrin.” All of them differ from the variants of the article in file No. 23543 in that they do contain the thesis about the General Secretary. At the same time, they differ, firstly, in the dating and, secondly, in a different way of including the thesis of the General Secretary in the text. Two (1.1-5, 5-10) are dated January 22, the third (1. 11-15) - January 23. This last one has a typewritten mark on the first page about the publication of an article in Pravda on January 25 and is not fundamentally different from texts dated January 23 stored in file No. 23543. Therefore, we can talk about the existence of two versions of the text of the article containing the thesis about the General Secretary.

In the texts dated January 22, the words about the General Secretary are typewritten, i.e. are an integral part of the article. They are not ...............



See the full document