Nadezhda Krupskaya in 1914

Nadezhda Krupskaya, the daughter of a military officer, was born in St. Petersburg on 26th February, 1869. A radical from an early age, Krupskaya was a committed Marxist and was the member of several illegal organizations.

Krupskaya taught in an evening school for adults and in 1894 met fellow revolutionary, Vladimir Lenin. Two years later Lenin was arrested and sentenced to three years internal exile in Siberia. Krupskaya joined Lenin in Shushenskoye and they married in July, 1898. While living in exile Lenin and Krupskaya also translated from English to Russian, The Theory and Practice of Trade Unionism by Sidney Webb and Beatrice Webb.

Released in February, 1900, Krupskaya, Vladimir Lenin and Jules Martov decided to leave Russia. They moved to Geneva where they joined up with George Plekhanov, Pavel Axelrod and other members of the Liberation of Labour to publish Iskra (Spark). The paper was named after a passage from a poem: "The spark will kindle a flame". Others who joined the venture included Gregory Zinoviev, Leon Trotsky and Vera Zasulich. Another revolutionary, Clara Zetkin, arranged for Iskra to be printed in Leipzig, Germany.

At the Second Congress of the Social Democratic Labour Party in London in 1903, there was a dispute between Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov. Lenin argued for a small party of professional revolutionaries with a large fringe of non-party sympathizers and supporters. Martov disagreed believing it was better to have a large party of activists. Martov won the vote 28-23 but Lenin was unwilling to accept the result and formed a faction known as the Bolsheviks. Those who remained loyal to Martov became known as Mensheviks.

Those who joined the Bolsheviks included Krupskaya, Gregory Zinoviev, Joseph Stalin, Anatoli Lunacharsky, Mikhail Lashevich, Alexei Rykov, Yakov Sverdlov, Mikhail Frunze, Maxim Litvinov, Vladimir Antonov, Felix Dzerzhinsky, Gregory Ordzhonikidze, and Alexander Bogdanov.

Nadezhda Krupskaya

1. Was highly critical of Nicholas II and the autocracy.

2. Wanted Russia to have universal suffrage.

3. Wanted the Russian government to allow freedom of expression and an end to political censorship of newspapers and books.

4. Believed that democracy could only be achieved in Russia by the violent overthrow of Nicholas II and the autocracy.

5. Was strongly opposed to Russia going to war with Austria-Hungary and Germany.

6. Believed that if Russia did go to war with Austria-Hungary and Germany the Mensheviks, Bolsheviks and the Socialist Revolutionaries should try to persuade the Russian soldiers to use their weapons to overthrow Nicholas II.

Primary Sources

(1) Nadezhda Krupskaya later described to a friend her time with Vladimir Lenin in Siberia.

We were young then, we had just got married, we loved each other passionately. For a time nothing else existed for us. And he would have us doing nothing but translating the Webbs.

(2) Lydia Dan, the sister of Jules Martov and the wife of Fedor Dan, was in Munich with Nadezhda Krupskaya and Vladimir Lenin in 1901.

On Sundays w e usually had lunch together in some large beer hall, where Lenin very attentively examined the menu and selected a good portion of meat, such as he probably never got at home during the week for Krupskaya was not much of a cook. He drank beer with pleasure, teasing me because I drank mineral water rather than beer in Munich. Finally, he would declare that he was at our disposal and was ready, if it pleased us, to go for a walk. However, he never forgot to make it a condition - one which we accepted with varying degrees of pleasure - that we should not discuss politics.

Lenin did not like talking while he walked; he walked to relax; he may have given himself up to contemplating the landscape; but he was invariably in a good mood. In those days, like all of us, he loved to sing. But none of us had good voices.

(3) Nadezhda Krupskaya and Vladimir Lenin went to live in London in April, 1902. Krupskaya wrote about this in her book, Reminiscences (1926)

Lenin liked the bustle of this huge commercial city. The quiet squares, the detached houses, with their separate entrances and shining windows adorned with greenery, the drives frequented only by highly polished broughams, were much in evidence, but tucked away nearby, the mean little streets, inhabited by the London working people, where lines with washing hung across the street, and pale children played in the gutter - these sites could not be seen from the bus top. In such districts we went on foot, and observing these glaring contrasts of wealth and poverty, Ilyich would mutter between clenched teeth, in English! "Two nations!"