- 6 LENIN
Most.people in the labour movement know that Lenin was at various
times in London, nnd that his longest stay was for the purpose of producing "Iskra", the newspaper of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party,
printed in thE:J building thnt is now our Library.
RQaders of the many
biographies of Lenin, and reminisce-nces of those who lived and worked
with him, know n grl::lat deal more.
Many of our newer, and especially
youngep members, 'however, confess that they ~ave not yet a v~ry clear .
pictu:qe of why hEj. should have come to Britain, or what he did hero.
It isnop~d, therefore, that moru widely-read members will b~ar with'us
if on this centenary we summarise, for thu benefit of thase new friends,
facts with which they .themselves nrc already very familiar, and add a Â·
list of worksÂ· which givG fuller information.
The First Visit
Lenin and his wife, Nadezhda Konst~tinovna Krupskaya, arrived first
in April 1902,. because the too-close attontions of tsarist agents and the
German police were Â·throatoning th~ printing of "Iskra" .in Munich.
preserv~ Â·tho existence of thisÂ· vi tal organ, created to guide and organise
tho scattored Marxist groups in Russia and abroad, to effect reliable
communication between. the Social-Democrats in. exile and those working
inside tho country, and prepare the 2nd Congress of the young Russian
Social-Democratic Labour Pnrty, the editorial board was obligod to conf!ide~
transferring its production to a safer place.
They chose. London; and
at their request Martov cnme here to explore possibilities.
The li.beral tradition of the right of asylum, on which the British
capitalist class prided i tsE:Jlf in i 1:is heyday, was still strong in 1902 ;...
and refugees :.from tyrannicalÂ· regimes in Europe, for whom thure was gruat
sympat'hi in the: British working;.:,ciass movemont, continued to arrive and
to live"'in the main unmolest~d.
Another favourable circumstance was
tha.tthore was a well-establish'i)d printing press already producing Marxist
li teraturo, whose Â·help might beÂ· soughtÂ· - the Twentieth Century Press'~ . -Â·
printing hou~e of tho Socinl-Doinocratic Feddration, turning out "Justice",
weekly organ of the S.D.F., the monthly "Social-Democrat", and a stream
Tho <:ditor of "Justice", Harry Quelch, readily agreod
to arrange for the pr:l.ntipg of "Iskra", and to share his office - tho
now famous, tiny Â·room which wns separated by n wooden partition from tho
machines which occupied the rest of tho upper floor.
Huro Lenin rl::lad
tho proofs; and in this way Nos. 22 to 38 of "Iskra" were produced, on
cigarette paper, for smuggling into Russia.
The twelv-eÂ·~ months whioh followed his arrival in London war~ a time
of colossal - at times exhausting - work for Lenin, exchanging ideas
with comrades in Geneva, Zurich, Moscow, Petersburg, and many provincial
~owns of.Russia, patiuntly and forcefully combatting false ideas, explain1ng, urg1ng, sympathising, encouraging.
strikes in Russia, peasant rebellions, and ~nti-governmont student move-