The Military Writings of
Leon Trotsky

Volume 1, 1918

How the Revolution Armed



Transcribed and HTML markup for the Trotsky Internet Archive by David Walters

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Commissars and military specialists! In recent weeks there have been a few cases of betrayal among the military specialists. Makhin, Muravyov, Zvegintsov, Veselago and some others, who had voluntarily entered the Workers’ and Peasants’ Army or the Red Navy, went over to the foreign aggressors and invaders. Muravyov was punished as he deserved; the rest still await retribution. Every honest person will look with disgust upon these cases of prostitution on the part of officers.

As a result of the treason of a few scoundrels, distrust of military specialists in general has been intensified. There have been some clashes between commissars and military leaders. In some cases known to me, commissars have shown a clearly unjust attitude towards military specialists, lumping honorable men together with traitors. In other cases commissars have sought to concentrate in their own hands the functions of command and operations, not confining themselves to political leadership and supervision. Such action is fraught with danger, for the confusing of powers and duties kills the sense of responsibility.

I urgently call upon the comrade commissars not to surrender to the impressions of the moment and not to lump together the innocent and the guilty. The Fifth All-Russia Congress of Soviets has reminded us all that the military specialists who are working honestly to build the military might of the Soviet Republic deserve the people's respect and support from the Soviet power. [59] Keen revolutionary watchfulness does not mean petty fault-finding. On the contrary; conscientious specialists must be given the opportunity to develop their powers to the full.

Whoever tries to utilize his position as commander for the ends of a counter-revolutionary coup is, by the decision of the Fifth Congress of Soviets, liable to suffer capital punishment.

No mercy for traitors: comradely collaboration with honest workers!

Of the commissar we require vigilance, firmness and tact, for the post of military commissar is one of the highest known to the Soviet Republic. With profound confidence in the ultimate success of our difficult work, a fraternal greeting to the military commissars of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army.


59. The precise formulation of this point in the resolution adopted on July 10, 1918 by the Fifth All-Russia Congress, on the report by Comrade Trotsky, reads:

‘Every military specialist who works honestly and conscientiously for the development and consolidation of the military strength of the Soviet Republic has the right to respect from the Workers’ and Peasants’ Army and support from the Soviet power. A military specialist who tries to make perfidious use of his responsible post for conspiracy on behalf of foreign imperialism must be punished with death.’

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Last updated on: 15.12.2006