The Military Writings of
Leon Trotsky

Volume 1, 1918

How the Revolution Armed


A Necessary Statement

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

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Wholesale and frequently unjustified attacks on the military specialists drawn from the old corps of regular officers who are now working in the Red Army are engendering among some of the commanding personnel a mood of uncertainty and dismay. At the same time, ex-officers occupying civilian posts in the rear are afraid of being transferred to the Red Army owing to the attitude of distrust towards them which is artificially fostered by unbalanced elements in the Soviet ranks. It is clear how harmful must be the effect of such phenomena upon the interests of the army in the field.

In view of this, I consider it necessary to state that indiscriminate hostility towards former regular officers is alien to the Soviet power and to the best units fighting at the front. Every officer who wants to defend the country from the aggression of foreign imperialism and its Krasnovite and Dutovite agents is a welcome worker for our cause. Every officer who can and will help in the internal organization of the army, thereby ensuring that it achieves its aims with the least expenditure of workers’ and peasants’ blood, is a welcome collaborator with the Soviet power: he has the right to respect, and he will find this respect in the ranks of the Red Army.

The Soviet power deals severely with mutineers, and will henceforth punish traitors, but in its policy it is guided by the interests of the working people and by revolutionary expediency, and not by a blind feeling of revenge.

It is perfectly clear to the Soviet power that many thousands and tens of thousands of officers who emerged from the school of the ancient regime, having received a definitely bourgeois-monarchist education, could not at once feel at home with the new regime, understand and learn to respect it. But during the thirteen months that the Soviet power has been in existence it has become clear to very many of the former officers that the Soviet regime is not something accidental but an order which has developed in accordance with the laws of history and which is based on the will of the laboring millions. To very many of the former officers it has become clear that no regime other than this one is now capable of defending the freedom and independence of the Russian people from foreign aggression.

Those officers who, guided by this new awareness, join our ranks in a spirit of honesty, will find complete oblivion for those crimes against the people in which they participated, under the influence of their past and their backwardness as regards revolutionary politics.

In the Ukraine, with Krasnov, in Siberia, and with the Anglo-French imperialists in the North, there are not a few Russian officers who would now be willing to return, repentant, to the Soviet Republic if they were not in fear of merciless punishment for their past deeds. Where these contrite renegades are concerned, what has been said above regarding the entire policy of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government remains in force: it is guided in its actions by revolutionary expediency, not by blind vengefulness, and will open the door to any honest citizen who wants to work in the service of the Soviets.

December 30, 1918

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Last updated on: 16.12.2006