LENIN, Vladimir Ilyich (1870-1924). Telegram addressed to [the French socialist Henri] Guilbeaux in Geneva, n.p. Bern, 11.10 a.m., 6 April 1917, in French, ANNOUNCING HIS DEPARTURE FOR RUSSIA AT THE OUTSET OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION, sent under Lenin's birth name, Ulyanov, 'partons demain midi allemagne platten accompagne train priere venir immediatement frais couvrirons amenez romain rolland s'il est d'accord en principe. faites possible pour amener naine ou graber. telegraphiez volkshaus oulianoff', the recipient's copy, the teleprinted text pasted onto a printed form of the Swiss telegraph and telephone service, the date and time filled out in manuscript, date stamp of the Geneva telegraph bureau, one page, oblong 8vo (180 x 232mm).
'We leave tomorrow noon [for] Germany. Platten accompanies the train. Please come immediately. We will cover expenses. Bring Romain Rolland if he agrees in principle. Do what you can to bring [Charles] Naine or [Ernest-Paul] Graber. Wire Volkshaus Ulyanov'.
Electrified by hearing of the February Revolution in Russia, news of which reached him on 15 March, Lenin immediately began plotting his return from exile in Switzerland, a task which was significantly complicated by the hostile status of the intervening countries of Germany and Austro-Hungary. An agreement was eventually negotiated by the Swiss communist Fritz Platten with the German foreign ministry, by which Lenin and other exiles would travel through Germany territory in a sealed train, which was to be granted extra-territorial status. Although neither Guilbeaux nor Romain Rolland were to accompany Lenin, ultimately a group of 30 revolutionaries left Bern on 9 April, travelling by train to Zurich, and thence to the German border at Singen. There they boarded the special single-carriage train (accompanied by two German officers behind a chalk line which demarcated 'German' and 'Russian' territory) on which they travelled via Frankfurt and Berlin to the port of Sassnitz, whence they continued their journey via Stockholm, finally reaching the Finland Station in Petrograd on 16 April (3 April O.S.): within six months, in the wake of the October Revolution, Lenin was to be the master of the Russian empire. LENIN'S TRAIN JOURNEY FROM SWITZERLAND IS UNDOUBTEDLY THE TURNING POINT IN HIS LIFE, AND A DECISIVE MOMENT IN 20TH-CENTURY HISTORY. The present telegram was published in facsimile in Guilbeaux's Le portrait authentique de Vladimir Ilitch Lénine (1924).