The Military Writings of
Leon Trotsky

Volume 2, 1919

How the Revolution Armed

The Eastern Front

Kolchak’s Offensive (March-April 1919)


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

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The long-prepared spring offensive by the enemies of the Soviet Republic has begun. On the Western front the enemy was halted after his initial successes. The German press has been forced to admit that the German battalions which played a very important part in the offensive on the Western front are quite insignificant numerically and extremely unreliable. That is not surprising! To the German bourgeoisie and its compromise lackeys strong units are much more badly needed in Berlin than in Kovno. Despite all the Allies’ promises, the Polish troops are without boots or clothing, and are starving. Communism is making ever greater progress in Poland. The Western front constitutes no serious danger.

In the Ukraine things are going splendidly. The Petlyurists’ attempt at a counter-offensive met with miserable failure. They have already surrendered Korosten. Their reliance on the regiments from Galicia proved delusive. After the victorious Soviet revolution in Hungary, a mighty revolutionary wave is rolling over all Galicia. The former head of the government of the Ukrainian Rada, Golubovich, who at Brest-Litovsk betrayed Russia and the Ukraine to German imperialism, has been arrested by the rebel workers of Galicia and is under lock and key.

After giving up Kherson and Nikolayev, the Anglo-French have lost hope of holding out in Odessa. They are hastily evacuating their forces. The White-Guard General Grishin Almazov is still tyrannising over the capital of the South, still hanging Odessa workers from lamp-posts, but the days of the bourgeoisie’s rule are numbered not only in Odessa but also in the Crimea.

On the Don operations are held up for the time being by the spring flooding of the rivers. We undoubtedly enjoy superiority of forces in this theatre. After taking Velikoknyazheskaya and forcing a crossing of the Manych, the Tsaritsyn army is stretching out its armed hand towards the railway junction of Torgovaya, and so creating a further threat, to Bataisk and Rostov. At the same time the Ukrainian forces which captured Mariupol are advancing on Taganrog. In the Donets Basin our forces are concentrating: liquidation of the counter-revolution on the Donets and the Don is a matter of the next few weeks.

On the Archangel front the enemy’s position is hopeless, as the British and American press admits. After concentrating sufficient forces there, we have taken the offensive and are successfully advancing. Liquidation of the Archangel-Murmansk adventure is in full swing.

The revolts that were raised inside the country to give sup port to the attacks from outside have been, or are being success fully liquidated almost everywhere. The middle peasants who were led astray in certain places are acknowledging their mistake and returning penitently to the family of the workers, Red Army men and peasants.

Thus, the general offensive of the counter-revolution on the external and internal fronts has miscarried. Only on the Eastern front has the enemy enjoyed success.

For several months Kolchak formed his forces behind the screen of the so-called Constituent Assembly. Krasnov, Denikin, Grishin-Almazov acted openly as Black-Hundred bandits. Kolchak came forward under the flag of the Constituent Assembly. Chernov, Avksentiyev, Lebedev, Fortunatov, Volsky and other SR luminaries of the Constituent Assembly gathered round Kolchak, carried on an agitation, deceived the peasants, helped to mobilise them, and in this way created an army for this usurper from the ranks of the Tsar’s admirals. The abundance of rich kulak elements among the Siberian peasantry, together with a large influx of White-Guard officers, made Kolchak’s task easier.

On the other side, after our successes on the Volga, the central Soviet government concentrated all attention on the Southern front, to which strong units were sent from the Eastern front, while experienced, energetic leaders were also transferred thither. The result was that our front in the East wasweakened. We lost Ufa, and Kolchak set himself the aim of launching an offensive simultaneously towards Kazan and towards Samara. The Eastern front is now of first importance. True, all our information says that things are not going well in Kolchak’s armies. The conscripted peasants advance only under the lash, mutinies frequently occur and are put down, and on the quieter sectors of the front Kolchak’s men are coming over to us in tens and hundreds. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that the most substantial forces of the Russian counter-revolution are now on the Eastern front. Consequent ly, it is there that the main blow must be struck from our side.

Again as in August of last year, we raise the cry: to the Eastern front! We shall not only provide new, fresh units, we shall summon our best, experienced workers to that front – and not only from Moscow and Petrograd, as happened last year, but from the entire liberated Volga country, from Samara, Simbirsk, Kazan and Syzran. All the conscious peasants of the Volga country will support the Red Army, as one man, and help it to strike a mortal blow at Kolchak.

Kolchak’s army is the counter-revolution’s last card. That card must be covered. The Urals must again be placed at the disposal of Soviet Russia. Ufa, Zlatoust, Yekaterinburg, Perm must return to the family of workers’ and peasants’ Russia. Through Chelyabinsk we must open a gate for ourselves into Siberia.

April 7, 1919
Pravda, No.83

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Last updated on: 23.12.2006