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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A letter to the head of the General Staff Academy

Among the thousands of officers who, under Krasnov’s command, are shedding the blood of the Russian workers and peasants and working Cossacks, there are numerous inveterate enemies of the people, old hands at counter-revolution, but there are also many who were deceived and who now see with horror whither the traitor Krasnov has led them.

At first Krasnov called for a struggle against Germany, and appealed for Soviet Russia to be overthrown so that such a struggle might be waged. He recruited officers under the banner of patriotism, and by patriotism he meant the recovery of the parts of Russia which had been seized by the German predator. Later, he himself turned into a hanger-on and lackey of Emperor Wilhelm. Krasnov worked hand in hand with Skoropadsky, but Skoropadsky was merely Germany’s police man in the enslaved Ukraine. Wilhelm fell under the onslaught of the German workers and soldiers, who followed in the foot-steps of the Russian workers and the Russian army. After Wilhelm it was Skoropadsky’s turn to fall. Krasnov then at once offered his services, that is, the blood of the working Cossacks and peasants, to the Anglo-French brigands, who are ready to tear to pieces any country, any people, any state, for the sake of their profits.

Only double-dyed scoundrels can say that the British and French capitalists and usurers are preparing disinterestedly to send their forces into Russia to establish so-called ‘order’. Old fools and simpletons can believe that. In reality, if Britain, France, America or Japan were to move their forces against us, it would be so as to occupy the country, just as the German Kaiser occupied the Ukraine – so as to turn Russian into a helpless, feeble, exhausted and plundered colony.

Fortunately, the reach of the Anglo-French predators is getting shorter and shorter. In France there are constant outbreaks by the workers, and city after city has been put under martial law. Ther& is unrest in the army, which wants to be demobilized. The British bourgeoisie would dearly like to overthrow the Soviet power, but it prefers to act by the hands of others – the hands of the Krasnovs, the Abramovs, the Dragomirovs, the Dutovs, the Denikins and other traitors to the working people of Russia. The British imperialists have not sufficient forces of their own to hold in enslavement Germany, Austria, the Balkans, France (a considerable part of which is occupied by British troops), and the whole of Soviet Russia, while at the same time keeping a watchful eye on America and Japan – for, after all, the booty has not yet been shared out. This is why the Russian bourgeoisie’s hope that large Anglo-French forces will invade Russia is becoming ever more illusory.

Articles to this effect are appearing in the leading Anglo-French newspapers. The conspirators on the Don are whispering about this, with anxious faces. The disappointed bourgeois press of the Ukraine writes openly about it. Undoubtedly, the consequence will be that Krasnov’s whole traitorous adventure must end in shameful collapse within a few weeks.

Krasnov promised his foreign employers to finish off the Soviet power in a short time, and received their pieces of silver for his Cain’s work. Now, when the Anglo-French imperialists have become convinced, from experience, that it will be a hard job to get rid of the Soviet power, they will think ten times before deciding to allow their own troops to become involved in the fight against it, and all the more so because the German troops who entered the Ukraine under the Hohenzollern tricolor left it under the red flag of Soviet power.

No help from abroad is to be seen. The forces of Krasnov and Denikin have run into a blind alley. Thousands of inexperienced and politically immature officers, whose heads were filled with old bourgeois-monarchist prejudices, were at first persuaded by Krasnov’s talk of patriotism and saving the country, and followed him. He formed them into special officer units, turning them into gendarmes by whose means he could hold in subjection the Cossacks and peasants he had mobilized. The Cossacks, the mobilized peasants, half-clad, and the officers deceived by Krasnov, all are perishing.

A considerable section of the last-mentioned category now realize that they have been led into a blind alley. Many of them would be ready to quit Krasnov’s plague-stricken camp and return to Soviet Russia, confessing their guilt. But they are afraid of legitimate retribution from revolutionary justice, they are afraid of vengeance to be taken for the blood they have shed.

There is no doubt that their crimes are great: they became renegades from their own working people and called in their worst enemies as helpers, they shed the workers’ blood. But the revolutionary people are magnanimous toward those of their enemies who confess to their crimes before the people and show themselves ready not only to lay down their arms but also honorably to serve in the ranks of the Russia of the working people!

Woe to the traitors! Death to traitors! But mercy to the enemy who has surrendered and asks for quarter!

In the name of the supreme military authority in the Soviet Republic I proclaim that any officer who, either individually or at the head of his unit, voluntarily comes over to us from Krasnov’s camp will be spared from punishment. If he shows in deeds that he is prepared honestly to serve the people in either a military or a civil capacity, he will find a place in our ranks.

Down with the traitor Krasnov, who deceived the working Cossacks and also many former officers!

Long live the peaceful collaboration between the workers, the peasants, the working Cossacks, and all honest citizens who, regardless of their past, are ready to serve the people selflessly!

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Last updated on: 15.12.2006