Lenin returns in Russia after 10 years of exile in Switzerland (April 16, 1917) - History Key

Lenin returns in Russia after 10 years of exile in Switzerland (April 16, 1917)

Vladimir Ilici Lenin was a Russian emigrant in 1917. He lived in a modest room in Zurich dreaming about a Russian revolution. In the socialist circles from Europe and Russia he was very popular for his Marxist activities and writings that spread the ideas of a new world. His life in Switzerland had a daily routine: walks, discussions in socialist clubs and reading in the library. In a matter of months, he probably changed the entire course of history.

Vladimir Ilici Lenin
  Vladimir Ilici Lenin © Color by Klimbim /Image Source: Wikipedia

Germans helped Lenin to go back in Russia

During the so called “bourgeois revolution” from Russia in February 1917, Lenin saw an opportunity to make a bigger movement. For this kind of movement, he had to go back in Russia. Because Europe was “covered” in war, it was difficult to travel from Switzerland to Russia. The solution was involving the countries in war in order to help Lenin to get back. Germany was facing great problems because of the war. It drained the resources in order to maintain the two European fronts. German politicians had a big interest bringing Russia out of war. They wished to “start” a revolution in Russia thinking that it would lead out of the battle. Lenin was the perfect man to organize and lead the revolution in Russia. Even the secret service agents had indicated Lenin as the perfect man to organize and lead a revolution in Russia.

Arthur Zimmermann, Secretary of State at the German Foreign Ministry began to take up the idea of supporting Lenin’s journey back to Russia. Therefore, on March 23, the German ambassador from Berne communicated to Berlin, Lenin’s desire to go back in Russia. In three days, the Kaiser approved a special train with a military escort for Lenin.

Lenin was 20 hours in Berlin

On March 31, Lenin made the final decision. He will go back in Russia with his revolutionaries but with certain conditions: under no circumstances they will not get in contact with any German authorities. Lenin knew that accepting help from Germany, a state that was in war with his country, could bring him a capital sentence for betrayal. For these reasons he demanded that the train should contain an extraterritorial wagon, comparable to the status of an embassy. The wagon should be sealed through the door which were unloaded only at the destination. Through this, Lenin demonstrated that he had no connections with the German authorities and he couldn’t be accused of betrayal.

Few days later, on April 5, Lenin left Switzerland with his wife, a few comrades and all his wealth. In the first stage of his journey, he used a Swiss train. After he left Switzerland another train was waiting for him in Germany and a military escort was with the train until the port of Sassnitz. The presence of the military made the journey through Germany conducted without any incidents. However, the train stayed for more than 20 hours in Berlin. All the soldiers surrounded the train who didn’t allow any civilians to access the area. This leaves many interpretations for historians and no one knows for sure what happened in those 20 hours. Some speculations were made that Lenin received from Germany 40 million marks and he was able to start the Russian revolution from October 1917.

Lenin’s letters spread the propaganda

Vladimir Lenin - Propaganda
 Vladimir Lenin made the final decision – Propaganda © Image Source: Wikipedia

Lenin and his accompaniments arrived in St. Petersburg on 16 April 1917. The station was full by curious citizens who waited for him. Lenin made a speech about the Russian workers. He talked about the fact that they are working for capitalists and landowners.

After a few weeks, Lenin had to fight the accusations spread by his opponents, accusing him for being a secret agent of the Germans. He was smart and took time to think before he reacted. This helped him to develop a program that conquered the county squeezed by war. For example, on all trains in Russia it was written: “Peace, Bread, Land.”, becoming popular as “Lenin’s letters”. As trains circulated in most part of the Russia, it spread the idea of a new world. The old word, of Tsarism collapsed in short time after Lenin’s arrival.

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