A few days ago, January the 21st, it was the 92th anniversary of Lenin’s death (1924). We publish a hardly known text written by Trotsky as a tribute, one day after the great Bolshevik’s Party’s founder and Russian Revolution leader passed away.
Lenin is no more. We have lost Lenin. The dark laws that govern the work of the arteries have destroyed his life. Medicine has proved itself powerless to accomplish what was passionately hoped for, what millions of human hearts demanded.
How many, unhesitatingly, would have sacrifice their own blood to the last drop to revive, to renew the work of the arteries of the great leader, Lenin Ilyich, the unique, who cannot be replaced. But no miracle occurred where science was powerless. And now Lenin is no more. These words descend upon our consciousness like gigantic rocks falling to the sea. Is it credible, can it be thought of?
The consciousness of the workers of the whole world cannot grasp this fact; for the enemy is still very strong, the way is long, and the great work, the greatest of history, is unfinished; for the working class of the world needed Lenin as perhaps no one in the history of the world has yet been needed.
The second attack of illness, which was more severe than the first, lasted more than ten months. The arteries “played” constantly, according to the bitter expression of the physicians. It was a terrible play with the life of Lenin. Improvement could be expected, almost complete recovery, but also catastrophe. We all expected recovery, but catastrophe happened. The breathing center of the brain refused to function and stifled the center of that mind of great genius.
And now Vladimir Ilyich is no more. The party is orphaned. The workmen’s class is orphaned. This was the very feeling aroused by the news of the death of our teacher and leader.
How shall we advance, shall we find the way, shall we not go astray? For Lenin, comrades, is no longer with us!
Lenin is no more, but Leninism endures. The immortal in Lenin, his doctrine, his work, his method, his example, lives in us, lives in the party that he founded, lives in the first workmen’s State whose head he was and which he guided.
Our hearts are now so overcome with grief, because all of us, thanks to the great favor of history, were born contemporaries of Lenin, worked with him, and learned from him. Our party is Leninism in practice, our party is the collective leader of the workers. In each of us lives a small part of Lenin, which is the best part of each of us.
How shall we continue? With the lamp of Leninism in our hands. Shall we find the way? – With the collective mind, with the collective will of the party we shall find it!
And tomorrow, and the day after, for a week, a month, we shall ask, Is Lenin really dead? For his death will long seem to us an improbable, an impossible, a terrible arbitrariness of nature.
May the pain we feel, that stabs our hearts each time we think that Lenin is no more, be for each of us an admonition, a warning, an appeal: Your responsibility is increased. Be worthy of the leader who trained you!
In grief, sorrow, and affliction we bind our ranks and hearts together; we unite more closely for new struggles. Comrades, brothers, Lenin is no longer with us. Farewell, Ilyich! Farewell, Leader!
Leon Trotsky, January 22nd, 1924.