Zimmerwald Association

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Zimmerwald Association


an international Social Democratic association representing a temporary coalition between revolutionary internationalists and the centrist and quasi-centrist majority. It was formed at the Zimmerwald Conference of 1915. Taking into account the ideological and organizational weakness of the left-wing socialists in the West, the Bolsheviks headed by V. I. Lenin, having created the Zimmerwald Left, joined the coalition, which opposed imperialism, war, and social chauvinism.

Within the association there was a continuous struggle between its left wing and its right wing, represented by the centrists and quasi-centrists. Lenin criticized the vacillations of the right wing, above all its leaders (R. Grimm of Switzerland and O. Morgari and A. I. Balabanova of Italy), who were members of the International Socialist Committee, formed at the Zimmerwald Conference. Striving to consolidate the Zimmerwald Left, the Bolsheviks countered the pacifist statements of the centrists and quasi-centrists with an appeal for large-scale revolutionary demonstrations against the war. They also consistently denounced social chauvinism and Kautskyism.

In early 1917 the centrifugal tendencies in the Zimmerwald Association became more marked. The discernible shift in world politics from imperialist war to imperialist peace not only strengthened pacifist illusions but also impelled the centrists to advocate once again the revival of the Second International and rapprochement with the social chauvinists. In the new circumstances it became even clearer that there were “two fundamentally distinct policies which have lived side by side, as it were, up to now in the Zimmerwald group, but which have now finally parted company” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 30, p. 257).

In view of the fact that Grimm and the other leaders of the Zimmerwald majority, in gross violation of the decisions taken at the Zimmerwald Conference of 1915 and the Second Zimmerwald Conference (seeKIENTHAL CONFERENCE OF 1910), had irrevocably slipped into pacifism and were drawing closer to the social chauvinists, Lenin called for a definitive break with the Zimmerwald Association and for the formation of a new, genuinely revolutionary association of internationalists.

The Third Zimmerwald Conference, which took place in Stockholm in September 1917 and which was attended by people who “were not in agreement on the main thing” (ibid., vol. 34, p. 271), fully confirmed Lenin’s conclusion about the political death of the Zimmerwald Association. It had become historically obsolete, although it nominally continued to exist for a short time longer.

The October Revolution of 1917 hastened the final resolution of the question concerning the formation of the Communist International and the withdrawal of the revolutionary internationalists from the Zimmerwald Association. On the proposal of a group of former members of the association headed by Lenin, the First Congress of the Comintern, held in March 1919, passed a resolution officially dissolving the association.


Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed. (See Index Volume, part 1, pp. 707–08.)

Tsimmerval’dskaia i Kintal’skaia konferentsii: Ofitsial’nye dokumenty. Leningrad-Moscow, 1924.

Bor’ba bol’shevikov za sozdanie Kommunisticheskogo Internatsionala: Materialy i dokumenty 1914–1919 gg. Moscow, 1934.

Istoriia KPSS, vol. 2. Moscow, 1966.

Istoriia Vtorogo Internatsionala, vol. 2. Moscow, 1966.

Kommunisticheskii Internatsional: Kratkii istoricheskii ocherk. Moscow, 1969.

Lenin i mezhdunarodnoe rabochee dvizhenie. Moscow, 1969.

Lenin v bor’be za revoliutsionnyi Internatsional. Moscow, 1970.

Temkin, la. G. Tsimmerval’d-Kintal’. Moscow, 1967.

Temkin, la. G. Lenin i mezhdunarodnaia sotsial-demokratiia, 1914–1917. Moscow, 1968.

Die Zimmerwalder Bewegung: Protokolle und Korrespondenz, vols. 1–2. The Hague–Paris, 1967.

Reisberg, A. Lenin und die Zimmerwalder Bewegung. Berlin, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
As a complement to Folkets DagbladPolitiken and Stormklockan, Nerman and colleagues from the Zimmerwald Association founded Zimmerwald in 1918 as SSV's intellectual monthly.