Return to Syllabus

Soviet Russia, Fall 2002 

Week 4 Linked Documents Assignment

This assignment has three parts.  Do all three!

You will find three documents linked to this page:  The Decree on Peace (at; Lenin on the organization of the Cheka (at;and The Declaration of Rights of Toiling and Exploited Peoples (at

Go to:    Part One    Part Two    Part Three


I)  This decree was one of the first issued by the new Soviet government formed at the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets and was read aloud at the congress (which met on 25-26 October 1917 OS/ 7-8 November by the new calendar).  

Question:  The Decree on Peace is often cited as an example of Lenin's "dual" diplomacy--his efforts to use traditional diplomatic channels to secure the interests of  the Soviet state (in this case, to end the world war), while simultaneously working to promote the spread of the socialist revolution.  What specific aspects of this document demonstrate Lenin's "dual diplomacy"?  

Link to document:  The Decree on Peace (at


II)  The second document is a letter that Lenin wrote to Feliks Dzerzhinskii on 6/19 December 1917, and is followed by a decree issued by the Soviet of People's Commissars (Sovnarkom--the central executive administration of the Soviet government) on 7/20 December 1917.  Please note that there is a typo in the first sentence of Lenin's letter--it should read "it is now possible" [instead of "it is not possible"].  Dzerzhinskii served as the director of the Cheka (the extraordinary commission for the struggle against sabotage and counter-revolution).

Questions: How did Lenin explain the need to create the Cheka?  What did he define as the class-basis of opposition to the Soviet government?  What specific political party(ies) did he define as enemies of socialism?  What limits did the Sovnarkom decree place on the powers of the Cheka? 

Link to the document:  Lenin on the organization of the Cheka (at


III)  When the SR-dominated Constituent Assembly gathered in January 1918, Lenin and the Bolsheviks presented the meeting with this "Declaration of Rights of Toiling and Exploited Peoples."  The assembly ignored the Bolshevik demand that it approve of this declaration; the Bolsheviks used this refusal as partial justification for dispersing the Constituent Assembly after it had met for only one day.  Lenin's government then organized a Third All-Russian Congress of Soviets, which passed the "Declaration."

Questions:  Based upon this document, why would the SR leadership of the Constituent Assembly have rejected this "Declaration"?  Based upon your other readings, what early measures of the Soviet government did this declaration endorse?

Link to document:  The Declaration of Rights of Toiling and Exploited Peoples (at


Return to Syllabus