Vladimir Lenin a German Puppet

Germany sent Vladimir Lenin from exile in Switzerland to Russia to take command of the Russian Revolution. Their goal was to get Russia out of the war. But I was thinking, say Germany wins WW1, and Lenin still succeeds in toppling Tsar Nicholas II. With a victorious Germany, would the Soviet Union and the German Reich become allies? Possibly even just make Vladimir Lenin and his new Soviet Union a puppet of Germany. Any thoughts on this?
 
Germany didn't really expect Lenin and the Bolsheviks to successfully seize power. What they thought would happen was that it would disrupt the Tsarist regime, which Tsar Nicholas II would have to divert resources to put down (and eventually crush). In the late 1910s, Germany had actually kept several divisions in the East after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk to remove the Communists from power, which helped guarantee the independence of the new nations of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Ukraine. It didn't really work out.
 
Germany sent Vladimir Lenin from exile in Switzerland to Russia to take command of the Russian Revolution. Their goal was to get Russia out of the war. But I was thinking, say Germany wins WW1, and Lenin still succeeds in toppling Tsar Nicholas II. With a victorious Germany, would the Soviet Union and the German Reich become allies? Possibly even just make Vladimir Lenin and his new Soviet Union a puppet of Germany. Any thoughts on this?
Doubt it. The German Empire was pretty conservative so they would not want to be associated with socialists all that much and Lenin would still view them as not holding up to Marx's ideals. Plus, I doubt the people would want much to do with Germany
 
Germany sent Vladimir Lenin from exile in Switzerland to Russia to take command of the Russian Revolution. Their goal was to get Russia out of the war. But I was thinking, say Germany wins WW1, and Lenin still succeeds in toppling Tsar Nicholas II. With a victorious Germany, would the Soviet Union and the German Reich become allies? Possibly even just make Vladimir Lenin and his new Soviet Union a puppet of Germany. Any thoughts on this?
1. Lenin diden't topple the Tsar: he was still in his little exile at that point. Tsar Nicky was overthrown in the February Revolution by a rather broad everything-left-of-autocracy coalition (Though dominated by moderate-leftists; Socialists are worst), which the Communists could successfully topple was that massive of a tent thrown together so rapidly was as stable as a lean-to in a hurricane.

2. If Germany wins and sustains B-L, then there's going to be a pretty substantial faction in Russia that's going to want to "spread the Revolution" (Indeed, Lenin justified signing the peace himself by saying the surrender was merely temporary: Germany itself would collapse to Communism soon enough). While a more pragmatic branch (perhaps Menshevik) might emerge that operates on a "live and let live" policy; particularly if post-war the SPD gains power in the Reichstag (Certainly possible, given sufficient electoral reform that's likely going to be insisted upon as the 'price' of the common man's war sacrifices), that's a long way from being a German puppet.
 
Germany didn't really expect Lenin and the Bolsheviks to successfully seize power. What they thought would happen was that it would disrupt the Tsarist regime, which Tsar Nicholas II would have to divert resources to put down (and eventually crush).
At the time the Germans allowed Lenin to return to Russia on the "sealed train" the "Tsarist regime" had already been overthrown. (Indeed, that's the only reason Lenin *could* return to Russia without facing immediate arrest.)
 
"So was Lenin a German agent?

In his own mind, Lenin could and did justify his actions as tactical maneuvers serving the higher cause of Communism, not the sordid war aims of the German Imperial Government. Fair enough. But it is hard to imagine this defense holding up at trial, if the jury were composed of ordinary Russians while the war was still going on. The evidence assembled by Kerensky’s justice department, much of which has only recently been rediscovered in the Russian archives, was damning. No matter Lenin’s real intentions, it is undeniable that he received German logistical and financial support in 1917, and that his actions, from antiwar agitation in the Russian armies to his request for an unconditional cease-fire, served the interests of Russia’s wartime enemy in Berlin."
https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/06/19/opinion/was-lenin-a-german-agent.html
 
I doubt they wanted Lenin to actually lead Russia; merely disrupt it so resistance on the Eastern Front could collapse.

But if they did or thought "ah well" it was the mother of all blowback 28 years later...
 
I think Lenin was a spark sent to catch fire to the Russian revolutionaries, favored because he shared Germany's true aim, get Russia out of the war. He might have been just a useful idiot or a full blown Agent, it does not matter much to me. If Germany wins this war in the East and does not get defeated in the West, then Germany wants to crush the revolution itself. From there I doubt any real thought went into it. Ludendorff was a lousy political strategist and even worse economist. He only saw this like another sort of bomb, one he truly did not care how it destroyed. But in most scenarios I see the Germans likely have no strength left to do more than hold off the Russians as they go to war upon themselves. Do they invite the White in or turn them away?

That said I think a surviving Imperial Germany will not like the Soviets one iota, Regicide is going to be most frowned upon, the SPD will be no better friend should they get in power either, recall they hate the break away Communists and were not that liking of the real leftists in their midst either. If any sort of revolution is attempted the SPD will perish unless it sides against it, supporting the Army to put it down as violently as OTL and never trust Communists. Even the Sparticists felt Marx was German, why take any orders from the Russian interlopers? Only desperation made Wiemar Germany a friend to the USSR, here they do not need the Soviets and are holding big chunks of former Russian territory. These two states will be mortal enemies unless you can cut Germany from the rest of the world still. My question would be if the Germans attempt to topple the Lenin government by declaring him their agent provocateur? Lenin anticipated and deflected it, but can an Imperial Germany better leverage things? I am still trying to think of such a different backdrop to the RCW.
 
"So was Lenin a German agent?

In his own mind, Lenin could and did justify his actions as tactical maneuvers serving the higher cause of Communism, not the sordid war aims of the German Imperial Government. Fair enough. But it is hard to imagine this defense holding up at trial, if the jury were composed of ordinary Russians while the war was still going on. The evidence assembled by Kerensky’s justice department, much of which has only recently been rediscovered in the Russian archives, was damning. No matter Lenin’s real intentions, it is undeniable that he received German logistical and financial support in 1917, and that his actions, from antiwar agitation in the Russian armies to his request for an unconditional cease-fire, served the interests of Russia’s wartime enemy in Berlin."
https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/06/19/opinion/was-lenin-a-german-agent.html
Anyone who is anti-war and an internationalist revolutionary is a traitor working for the enemy.
 
Anyone who is anti-war and an internationalist revolutionary is a traitor working for the enemy.
Well, regardless of the way and reasons the war had started, because of it the Russians already had a revolution and a new democracy that was fighting together with US and France against reactionary imperialists.

Then Lenin came along, sponsored by the Kaiser.
 
Lenin on his own did not and could not have stopped the war. The Russian army post the first revolution was barely having on, Brusilov who was a Russian Nationalist if ever there was one, begged Kerensky to not go forward with the disastrous summer offensive as he realised the Russian army was no longer a fighting force, Kerensky sacked him and replaced him with Kornilov who then tried for a coup. Peace and Land were the hugely popular policies which enabled the Bolshviks to take power in the October revolution. Lenin took German money but used it for his own ends.
 
Well, regardless of the way and reasons the war had started, because of it the Russians already had a revolution and a new democracy that was fighting together with US and France against reactionary imperialists.

Then Lenin came along, sponsored by the Kaiser.
"Democracy"

Nobody was elected, and the Russian people diden't want to keep fighting the war. Hell, it was precisely because the Bolsheviks were one of the few factions actually promising to end the fighting that they managed to move so quickly from the fringes to a major political faction, while the Kerensky government's insistance on keeping the war effort up ended up causing it to lose legitimacy fast.
 
Lenin on his own did not and could not have stopped the war. The Russian army post the first revolution was barely having on, Brusilov who was a Russian Nationalist if ever there was one, begged Kerensky to not go forward with the disastrous summer offensive as he realised the Russian army was no longer a fighting force, Kerensky sacked him and replaced him with Kornilov who then tried for a coup. Peace and Land were the hugely popular policies which enabled the Bolshviks to take power in the October revolution. Lenin took German money but used it for his own ends.
Funny thing about Kornilov affair: it's appears that "coup" was actually instigated by Kerensky. Country was a mess, with leftist agitators, strikes, and Petrograd soviet ("dual power") making it impossible for Provisional Government to actually govern. Kornilov was supposed to help Kerensky restore central authority by suppressing far left. But Kerensky chickened out at last moment: he was afraid, without any evidence, that Kornilov would double cross him and seize power for himself. So he had Kornilov arrested... and released Bolshevik prisoners. If he kept their deal, we'd end up with something similar to Ebert–Groener pact, and there would be no Bolshevik revolution.
 
"Democracy"

Nobody was elected, and the Russian people diden't want to keep fighting the war. Hell, it was precisely because the Bolsheviks were one of the few factions actually promising to end the fighting that they managed to move so quickly from the fringes to a major political faction, while the Kerensky government's insistance on keeping the war effort up ended up causing it to lose legitimacy fast.
There were elections...in which the Bolsheviks did not win a majority, nor even a plurality. In fact, the parties opposed to separate peace did much better than the Bolsheviks.

The Bolsheviks were not riding on some massive wave of popular support. They seized power through a combination of audacity, institutional breakdown and sheer dumb luck (and they didn't do it on their first try, either).

And while the Russian people might have been getting tired of the war, they were not at all eager to capitulate to the Central Powers. The kind of "peace" implemented by the Bolsheviks was far from popular. There is a reason why Lenin's regime had to fight a major uprising shortly after signing Brest-Litovsk.
Hell, even the Bolsheviks themselves were not unanimously in favor of separate peace (let alone a separate peace as harsh and self-defeating as Brest-Litovsk).
 
Then Lenin came along, sponsored by the Kaiser.
There's a narrative that 'Lenin came on a sealed train sponsored by the Germans' as if he came alone at the direct request of the Kaiser but the reality is more complex. Firstly you have to consider the multiple other Russian emigres who risked the route through Germany to return to Russia. The Menshevik Martov, the Social Revolutionary Natanson, the Bundist Kosovsky etc. Various socialists, Bundists, anarchists and all sorts came through Germany in three sealed trains, Lenin being the first to brave the route. In the first train, 32 Russians travelled of which 19 were bolsheviks. The second train contained 257 passengers including 58 Mensheviks and 34 SRs. The third and final train contained 209 passengers with yet more Mensheviks, SRs, non-affiliated Russians etc. Were all these people, many of whom would go on to organise against the bolsheviks, German spies sponsored by the Kaiser? What makes Lenin so special amongst these? The reality is Lenin and multiple other Russians that had been exiled by Tsarism took any means they could to return to Russia and to try and direct their home's future.
 
Were all these people, many of whom would go on to organise against the bolsheviks, German spies sponsored by the Kaiser? What makes Lenin so special amongst these?
Nachrinchstelle für den Orient from AA led the whole operation, with Alexander Helphand, a veteran Russian revolutionary who in 1915 had moved to Copenhagen to head his Institute for the Study of the Social Consequences of the War (a cover for his espionage on behalf of the German ambassador in German, Count Ulrich Brockdorff-Rantzau, who would later be appointed Germany's first ambassador to the Soviet Union. Helphand assured the Germans that Lenin would overthrow the provisional government in Petrograd and agree to peace terms, and he traveled to Stockholm to conclude the plan with Lenin's representatives. Once approved by the German Foreign Minister, Arthur Zimmermann in Berlin, Zimmermann authorized the funding of the scheme, and Lenin embarked on his journey from Zurich. Estonians "Alexander Stein" (Alexander Kesküla) and Arthur Siefeldt (Arthur Simumägi), had earlier on funded Lenin while he was on exile in Switzerland. Both of them had connections to German intelligence.
Source: Nigel West, "Historical Dictionary of World War I Intelligence", p. 165.

"A key part here was played by Yakov Fürstenberg, the manager of a Scandinavian-based import-export company whose directors, Alexander Helphand and Georg Sklarz, were known agents of Germany. Though Lenin publicly disdained Helphand, Fürstenberg was one of his closest contacts, his north European fixer.“Lenin’s entry into Russia successful,” the German spy chief in Stockholm reported to his masters in April 1917. "He is working exactly as we would wish."
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/17/opinion/german-condoms-russian-revolution.html , based on the article written by Catherine Merridale, author of "Lenin on the Train"

I also recommend The Deluge by Adam Tooze, his view on the way Lenin embraced the German war-economy as a model for his planned socialist state and planned to balance Germany against the Entente are most insightful.
 
It's astonishing how anyone can peddle the same sort of nonsense that, in contemporary times, would be placed in the same arena as George Soros funding Antifa.

Alexander Helphand, also known as Parvus, was quite publicly disliked by a large majority of the socialist movement including the likes of Rosa Luxemburg due to his open German chauvanism and his twisting of theory in order to try and persuade the SPD into further supporting the war effort. Lenin showed him the door in Zurich and wrote encouraging other socialists to break from him. When Lenin and his companions organised to go via train through Germany, it wasn't Parvus who organised it but the Swiss socialist Fritz Platten and the Menshevik Julius Martov who proposed the idea in the first place - Lenin had wanted to get the British to allow them to travel via boat but had been refused. Parvus had many adventurous ideas and in 1916 tried to fund a failed strike movement in Russia as a way of disrupting the Russian war effort and it's true that up until the end of 1917 over 20 million marks went to revolutionaries in Russia of various stripes. The Bolsheviks, the Social Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks, as well as various other left-wing newspapers, all benefited from this money although it's telling that in April 1917 the Bolsheviks had to rely on donations from workers in Petrograd in order to raise the 75,000 rubles in order to purchase a print shop to get their message out to the workers.

Fursenberg, otherwise known as Yakov Ganetsky or his Polish name Jakub Hanecki, was a Bolshevik revolutionary involved in some of the same dodgy circles at Parvus and it's true that Lenin turned to him for funding whilst Ganetsky was in Stockholm. Ganetsky wired 2000 krona to Lenin in order to fund the travel for all the Bolsheviks in Zurich and he passed letters to and from Bolsheviks but ultimately he had very little influence of Lenin or the Party, acting only as a go-between. Lenin was in contact with Swedish Social Democrats through Gantetsky and he gave a speech at a meeting of the Left-Wing Swedish Social Democrats in Zurich and informed the editors of the 'Social-Demokraten' newspaper to trust the word of Alexandra Kollontai. It's clear to any observer of history that Europe in the early 1900's had a network of socialist organisations and individuals who assisted each other with open or clandestine methods.

This is a letter sent by Lenin to Ganetsky prior to arranging the train with the Germans: "Please let me know in greatest possible detail, first, whether the British Government will allow passage to Russia to me and a number of members of our Party, the R.S.D.L.P. (Central Committee), on the following conditions: (a) The Swiss socialist Fritz Platten receives permission from the British Government to conduct any number of persons through England irrespective of their political allegiances and their views on war and peace; (b) Platten alone answers both for the composition of the conducted groups and for maintaining proper order, and receives a railway coach for travelling through England, which he, Platten, is to keep locked. No one can enter this coach without the consent of Platten. This coach shall have exterritorial rights; (c) From a port in England Platten conveys the group by the steamer of any neutral country, with the right to notify all countries of the sailing time of this special ship; (d) Railway fares shall be paid by Platten according to the tariff and the number of seats occupied; (e) The British Government undertakes not to place obstacles to the chartering and sailing of a special steamer with Russian political emigrants and not to detain the steamer in England, enabling the passage to be made in the quickest possible way.

Secondly, in the event of agreement, what guarantees can England give that these conditions will be observed, and whether she has any objection to these conditions being published.

If telegraphic inquiries have to be made in London we agree to bear the expenses of a telegram and a prepaid reply." - https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/mar/00jh.htm

It's clear to anyone that Lenin, and multiple other Russian socialists, were willing to accept help from any quarter and the idea that Lenin specifically was involved in German espionage is frankly ridiculous. Lenin here wants the British to convey him back to Russia, if that had taken place would you have considered him a British spy instead?
 
Top