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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On the call-up for compulsory military service of persons who
have served in the forces as non-commissioned officers

Moscow, August 2, 1918

The creation of an army able and ready to defend the interests of the working population against external and internal aggressors is encountering great difficulty owing to the almost complete lack of a commanding apparatus which is inseparably linked with the working class and the poor peasantry.

In the old army, posts of command were held almost exclusively by members of the propertied classes, so that the majority of the old officer corps were hostile to the power of the workers and peasants. The new army needs a new officer corps. This can be created in a short time by bringing into posts of command honest and valiant sons of the people from among the former NCOs.

Proceeding from these considerations, the Council of People’s Commissars has decided, in addition to issuing the decree calling up, in the uyezds of the Moscow, Petrograd, Vladimir, Nizhny-Novgorod, Perm and Vyatka provinces, all workers born in 1896 and 1897, to call up at the same time and on the same bases as are set out in the decree mentioned, in all the uyezds of the six provinces mentioned, also those workers born in 1893, 1894 and 1895 who have served in the forces as non commissioned officers, so as to form from them as quickly as possible a commanding apparatus for the workers’ and peasants’ Red Army. [67]


67. The decree issued for the calling up of NCOs was supplementary to a number of orders and decisions regarding the transition from volunteering for the Red Army to compulsory enlistment.

The first decision of the All-Russia CEC for conscription to the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army was taken on May 29. In view of the complex problems involved in applying this decree over the whole territory of Russia, the All-Russia CEC decided to begin applying it in the most directly threatened regions and in the principal centers of the labor movement – that is, in the Don and Kuban regions and in Moscow and Petrograd. The People’s Commissar for Military Affairs was required to draw up within one week a plan for implementing the decree within such limits and forms as would cause the least disruption to the economic and social life of the regions and cities mentioned.

What must be seen as the first decree on mobilization was the decree of the Council of People’s Commissars dated June 12, when workers and peasants born in 1893-1897 were ordered to report for military service in certain uyezds of the Volga, Ural and West-Siberia military districts. On June 14, instructions for procedure in reception of workers’ and peasants’ for military service were issued. On June 17 a decree of the Council of People’s Commissars called up workers in the city of Moscow and its suburbs who were born in 1896 and 1897. On June 29 workers born in 18% and 1897 were called up in Petrograd and its suburbs. The growth in the size of the army and the shortage of commanding personnel compelled the Council of People’s Commissars and the People’s Commissariat for Military Affairs to call up for service a section of the former NCOs as well.

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Last updated on: 15.12.2006