V. I. Lenin

The Example of the Petrograd Workers[1]

Written: 3 October, 1919
First Published: Pravda No. 221, October 4, 1919; Published according to the Pravda text
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 30, pages 47-49
Translated: George Hanna
Transcription/HTML Markup: David Walters & Robert Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2002. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

The newspapers have already reported that the Petrograd workers have begun the intensive mobilisation and dispatch of the best workers to the Southern Front.

Denikin’s capture of Kursk and advance on Orel fully explain this energetic action of the Petrograd proletariat, whose example must be followed by the workers of other industrial centres.

The Denikin gang count on sowing panic in our ranks and making us think only of defence, only of the matter in hand. The foreign radio shows how zealously the French and British imperialists are helping Denikin, how they are helping him with armaments and hundreds of millions of rubles. The foreign radio proclaims to the whole world that the road to Moscow lies open. That is how the capitalists would like to frighten us.

But they will not succeed in frightening us. The deployment of our troops has been carefully planned and strictly carried out. Our offensive against the chief source of the enemy’s strength steadily continues. The victories recently won—the capture of 20 guns in the Boguchar area, the capture of the village of Veshenskaya—indicate the successful advance of our troops to the centre of the Cossack area, which alone enabled arid still enables Denikin to organise a serious force. Denikin will be smashed as Kolchak has been smashed. They cannot frighten us and we shall bring our cause to a victorious conclusion.

The capture of Kursk and the enemy’s advance on Orel required the provision of additional forces in order to repel him there. By their example the Petrograd workers have shown that they have correctly understood this task. Without hiding the dangers from ourselves, and without in any way minimising them, we say: Petrograd has shown that we do have additional forces. In order to repel the attack on Orel and to launch an offensive against Kursk and Kharkov, the best proletarians must be mobilised, over and above the forces we already have at our disposal. The fall of Kursk constitutes a serious danger; never has the enemy been so near to Moscow. In addition to the previous army forces, we are dispatching new contingents of advanced workers capable of changing the mood of the retreating units to ward off this danger.

Among our troops in the South, deserters who have returned to the ranks occupy a prominent place. Most of them have returned voluntarily, under the influence of the propaganda which has explained where their duty lies and shown them how serious is the threat that the power of the landowners and capitalists will be restored. But the deserters do not hold out, they lack staunchness and quite often they begin to retreat without fighting.

That is why it is of prime importance to strengthen the army by a new influx of proletarian forces. The unstable elements will be given strength, morale will be raised, a turning-point will be reached. As has continually happened in our revolution, the proletariat will support and guide the wavering sections of the working population.

For a long time now the Petrograd workers have had to bear much greater burdens than the workers of other industrial centres. The Petrograd proletariat has suffered more than the proletariat in other localities from famine, the perils of war and the withdrawal of the best workers for Soviet duties throughout Russia.

Yet we see that there has not been the slightest dejection, not the slightest diminution of energy among the Petrograd workers. On the contrary, they have become steeled, they have found new strength and have brought new fighters to the fore. They are excellently fulfilling the duty of a leading contingent, sending aid and support where it is most needed.

When such fresh forces go to reinforce units of our army that have wavered, the mass of the working people, the soldiers of peasant origin obtain new leaders from among their own kind, from the more developed, more politically-conscious, and more staunch-minded working people. That is why such help to our peasant army gives its a decisive superiority over the enemy, for in his case it is only landowners’ sons who are sent out to strengthen his peasant army, and we know that this “strengthening” has ruined Kolchak and will ruin Denikin.

Comrade workers! Let all of you set about the new work after the example of the Petrograd comrades! More energy for activities in the army, more initiative and boldness, more emulation so as to equal the Petrograders, and victory will be won by the working people, the landowner and capitalist counter-revolution will be beaten.

N. Lenin

P.S. I have just learned that from Moscow also some dozens of the most devoted comrades have left for the front. Following Petrograd, Moscow has taken action. Following Moscow, all the rest should take action.

N. L.

October 3, 1919


[1] This article was written in connection with the beginning of the mobilisation of the Petrograd Communists for the front. During the foreign military intervention and the Civil War there were a number of such mobilisations. Lenin wrote, “We concentrated our best Party forces in the Red Army; we mobilised the best of our workers; we looked for new forces at the deepest roots of our dictatorship” (see present edition, Vol. 33, “How We Should Reorganise the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection”).

In view of the difficult situation on the Southern Front the plenary meeting of the C.C., R.C.P.(B.), held September 21 and 26, 1919, resolved to mobilise Communists and send the best Party and working-class people to the front. The Party Central Committee in its letter published in Bulletin of the C.C., R.C.P.(B.) No. 0, September 30, 1919 pointed out that Communists should be sent to the front from those institutions where they might be replaced by non-party workers, women and ex-servicemen disabled in the Civil War. The Communist Party appeal met with a warm response among the working people. The Petrograd Committee of the R.C.P.(B.) decided to mobilise 1,200 Communists for the Southern Front. That same day the first group of mobilised Petrograd Communists left for the front, the second group on the following day and the third on October 2. Mobilisation continued during the following days. On October 2, Lenin sent a telegram of greetings to the Petrograd work- ers in which he praised them for energetic measures in rendering assistance to the Southern Front. Between September and November the Petrograd Party organisation dispatched for the front over 4,000 Communists, of whom 1,800 were assigned to leading posts in the army.