VI Lenin on

Speech On

Red Officers’ Day

November 24, 1918[1]

Written: 24 November, 1918
First Published: Izvestia No. 258, November 26, 1918 Published according to the Izvestia text
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 28, 1974, page 195
Translated (and edited): Jim Riordan
Transcription/HTML Markup: robert Cymbala & David Walters
Online Version: V.I.Lenin Internet Archive, 2002

(Thunderous applause, singing of the “Internationale".) Greetings on behalf of the People’s Commissars. Whenever 1 think about the tasks of our army and Red officers, I recall something that happened in,a train on Finnish Railways not so long ago.

I noticed that the passengers were smiling at something an old Finnish woman was saying, so I asked someone to translate her words. She was comparing the revolutiouary soldiers to the old soldiers and saying that the former protected the poor whereas the latter used to protect the interests of the bourgeoisie and the landowners. “ Formerly the poor man had to pay heavily for every stick of wood he took without permission,” the old woman said. “ But when you meet a soldier in the woods nowadays he’ll even give you a hand with your bundle of sticks. You don’t have to fear the man with the gun any more,” she said.

l think it would be hard to imagine any better tribute to the Red Army than that.

Most of the old officers were the spoiled and depraved darling sons of capitalists, who had nothing in common with the private soldier. So in building our new army now, we must draw our officers solely from among the people. Only Red officers will have any respect among the soldiers and be able to strengthen socialism in our army. Such an army will be invincible.


[1] Red Officers’ Day was appointed for the purpose of popularising the cause of training officers for the Red Army. On November 24, 1918, at 2. p. m., military cadets paraded on Red Square, from where they marched to Sovetskaya Square to be greeted by Lenin from the balcony of the Moscow Soviet building.