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The Zimmerwald Conference was held in Zimmerwald, Switzerland, from September 5 through September 8, 1915. It was an international socialist conference, which saw the beginning of the end of the coalition between revolutionary socialists (communists) and reformist socialists (social democrats) in the Second International.[1]

The conference had 38 delegates from countries such as Russia, Poland, Italy, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Romania, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway. (No Norwegians actually participated in the Zimmerwald Conference, but the Swedish socialist Ture Nerman represented Norway.) On the eve of the conference, V. I. Lenin organized a small group of socialist internationalists, the "Zimmerwald Left," which protested the centrist and centrist-leaning majority of the conference, the "Zimmerwald center", headed by Robert Grimm.

The main question discussed at the conference was about the struggle of the proletariat for peace during World War I. In the course of discussion of this question, revolutionary socialists presented a resolution and manifesto which:

  • condemned the imperialistic character of the world war;
  • condemned social chauvinism;
  • called on the working people of the countries at war to wage civil war as a means to attain political authority and the socialist organization of society.

The majority of the conference rejected both documents, proposing it be limited only to a pacifist declaration. Lenin, as the leader of the Zimmerwald Left, argued that that the world was on the eve of a revolutionary era in which the masses would do the revolutionary fighting, and that it was necessary for the manifesto to state the means by which this fight would take place. He also insisted on the concrete definition of the political slogans to be employed within the manifesto.

After some debate, the conference passed a compromise manifesto, which agreed to insert a call for the mobilization of the international proletariat to the fight against imperialism and the war, and condemned the leaders of the Second International as traitors. "The Manifesto", noted Lenin, "actually indicates a step toward the ideological and practical break with opportunism and social chauvinism". Participants in the conference agreed to a resolution of sympathy to those persecuted due to the war, that expressed fraternal sympathy to the Bolshevik deputies of the Duma, exiled in Siberia, and also Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin,"and to all comrades, who were persecuted or arrested for the fact that they were against the war".

An International Socialist Commission was created, which was actually a new International Socialist Bureau, chosen in spite of the will of the old one, on the basis of the manifesto, which directly condemned the tactics of the old one. Two different positions, which were and remained independent, were presented at the Zimmerwald conference: those of the centrists and centrist-leaning, which prevailed at the conference, and those of the revolutionary internationalists.

In the end, the two leading political figures of the conference abandoned the International Socialist Commission: Robert Grimm, the leader of the centrist majority, left in favor of the short lived 2½ International; and Lenin, the leader of the revolutionary left, returned to Russia to take part in the civil unrest which ultimately incited the October Revolution.

See also


  1. ^ "Zimmerwald Conference 1915: Revolutionaries against the imperialist war". Retrieved 2007-01-07.  

External links



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