V. I.   Lenin


To:   S. I. GUSEV[1]

Written: Written on September 16, 1919
Published: First published in Pravda No. 63, March 5, 1933. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1976], Moscow, Volume 35, pages 420-421.
Translated: Andrew Rothstein
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive.   You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work, as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
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Comrade Gusev,

Thinking over the letter from Sklyansky (about the situation on September 15) and the sum total of the operations reports, I am becoming convinced that our Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic is working badly.

To keep on with reassuring reports is bad tactics. It becomes “a game of reassurance”.

But in reality, we have stagnation, almost collapse.

At the Siberian Front they have put some blackguard Olderogge and the old woman Pozern in charge, and “ reassured themselves”. An absolute disgrace! And now we are beginning to get beaten! We shall make the R.M.C.R. responsible for this, if energetic steps are not taken! To let victory slip out of our hands is a disgrace.

Inaction against Mamontov. Evidently, there has been one delay after another. The troops marching on Voronezh from the North were late. We were late in transferring the 21st Division to the South. We were late with the armoured cars. Late with communications. Whether it was the Commander-in-Chief alone who visited Orel, or whether he went with you, is all one: the job was not done. Communications with Selivachov were not established, supervision of him was not established, in spite of the long-standing and direct demand of the Central Committee.

As a result, inaction against Mamontov and inaction with Selivachov (instead of the “victories” promised from day to day in childish little drawings—do you remember   how you showed me these little drawings, and how I said: they’ve forgotten the enemy?!).

If Selivachov deserts, or his divisional commanders betray us, the guilty party will be the R.M.C.R., because it slept, and sent us soothing messages, but didn’t do its job. We must send the best, most energetic commissars to the South, not sleepy owls.

We arc late, too, with new formations. We are letting the autumn go by—and Denikin will triple his forces, get tanks, etc., etc. This can’t go on. The sleepy tempo of work must be made into a lively one.

Reply (through Lydia Alexandrovna Fotiyeva).


September 16

Apparently our R.M.C.R. “gives orders”, without being interested in or able to follow up fulfilment. This may be our common vice, but in military affairs it simply means destruction.


[1] This letter was written in response to Maxim Gorky’s appeal to the All-Russia Commission for Improving Scientists’ Living Conditions,   in which he mentioned certain cases when scientific workers had been obliged to share too large a part of their flats with new tenants. Gorky was then chairman of the Petrograd branch of the Commission.

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