January 5th, 1912 – The Prague Conference


The Prague Conference, officially the 6th All-Russian Conference of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, was held in Prague, Austria-Hungary from January 5th, 1912 to January 17th, 1912. Eighteen Bolsheviks attended, although Joseph Stalin and Yakov Sverdlov, who were in exile at the time, were not able to. Georgi Plekhanov claimed he was too ill to attend. At the conference, Vladimir Lenin and his supporters broke away from the rest of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party and formed their own, purely Bolshevik, party. The conference was meant to be secret; Lenin had instructed: “No-one, no organization must know about this”. However, every detail was known to the Okhrana, the secret police of the Russian Empire.

Bolsheviks 680

Seven people were elected to the Central Committee: Lenin, Zinoviev, Malinovsky (later revealed to be a spy for the Okhrana), Ordzhonikidze, Spandaryan (Stalin’s best friend), Sverdlov (Soviet president, 1917–19) and Goloshchekin. The latter four set up a Russian Bureau to direct the party along with Kalinin and Stalin, who led the Bureau. This ensured the domination of Russia-based Bolsheviks as opposed to the émigrés who were considered “null and void” by Ordzhonikidze. Spandaryan called for the émigré group to be dissolved.

After the conference, upon Lenin and Zinoviev’s recommendation, Stalin was co-opted to the Bolshevik Central Committee. Elena Stasova was made Secretary to the Russian Bureau. Stepan Shahumyan and Mikhail Kalinin (Soviet president 1919–46) became candidate Central Committee members. Ironically, Kalinin was suspected of being an Okhrana agent so was not a full member. Both were Stalin’s comrades in the Caucasus.

Lenin wrote to Maxim Gorky: “At last we have succeeded, in spite of the Liquidator scum, in restoring the Party and its Central Committee. I hope you will rejoice with us over the fact.” Stalin said: “This conference was of the utmost importance in the history of our Party, for it drew a boundary line between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks and amalgamated the Bolshevik organizations all over the country into a united Bolshevik Party.”

“Today in History” on The Pandora Society dot com is primarily focused on Victorian and Edwardian history and does not always have a direct connection to Steampunk, Dieselpunk, or whatever punk; in fact it rarely does, but it is our hope that in sharing these historical events they might serve as some inspiration to the writers in our community to create potential alternative history stories which we look forward to reading 🙂


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