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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Kolchak has had some serious successes on the Eastern front. Although the Red Army adds new achievements to its record everyday, it cannot be victorious on all fronts at the same time. Until recently our principal task lay in the South, and thither we sent our principal forces. By so doing we weakened the Eastern front. That gave Kolchak a certain temporary superiority. He used it to attack, and, thanks to this, he achieved partial successes. Kolchak entered Ufa, took Belebey, Menzelinsk, Sarapul. But what is to come next? Do Kolchak and his collaborators hope that they will conquer the whole of Russia, the Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania, that they will take Moscow and Petrograd, Kiev and Kharkov, Riga and Vilna? Does Kolchak really think that the people who have accomplished the greatest revolution in the world will let themselves be ruled by adventurers from among the Tsar’s Admirals?

There can be no doubt that Kolchak himself is without illusions concerning his real strength. Yes, with the help of the Constituent-Assembly-ites he put together an army of a sort. Yes, with the help of the officers and the kulaks, by means of shootings and floggings, he still keeps control of that army. Yes, he obtained a certain temporary superiority and occupied a piece of territory. But can Kolchak hope for further large-scale successes? Can he hope for ultimate victory?

I repeat: he does not think so himself. He knows too well how fragile his army is and how inevitably it will be shattered into fragments by the first serious blow. And that blow will not be long in coming. All Workers’ and Peasants’ Russia is preparing to inflict a decisive rebuff on Kolchak. Why is he continuing the war? What is he hoping for?

Kolchak’s whole misfortune is that there is nothing else left for him to do. Kolchak is not only a hangman, he is also a victim. He deceives the peasants and the officers, but he himself is deceived. The American bourgeoisie, the American stock-exchange, the American Government are deceiving Kolchak. Six months ago the Allied imperialists promised Kolchak, Krasnov and Denikin hundreds of thousands of their own soldiers for the task of strangling Soviet Russia. It was only because they reckoned on receiving this help from outside that Krasnov, Denikin and Kolchak raised the banner of counter-revolutionary revolt. In all their appeals Krasnov, Denikin and Kolchak spoke of the aid that was soon coming from the mighty ‘democracies’ of America, Britain and France. The Russian counter-revolutionaries knew very well that it was beyond their power to withstand on their own a decisive clash with the Soviet forces. Precisely for that reason Krasnov, Denikin and Kolchak begged the governments of the American vultures, orally and in writing, to send them help as quickly as possible. After each setback Kolchak spread the news of fresh landings by the French at Odessa and Novorossiisk, while Krasnov told the Cossacks after every defeat he suffered that Kolchak, together with the British and Americans, was approaching Moscow and Petrograd.

But as time went by, the language of the Anglo-French and American generals and diplomats became more and more evasive. It became even clearer that no help was to be expected from them. Now, the shameful flight of the French expeditionary force from Odessa signifies the complete and final collapse of all hopes of armed intervention by the bandits of the Entente. They are not up to it! Kolchak and Denikin have been left to their own forces. This means that they are threatened with inevitable ruin. But they have no choice. History has already passed sentence on them. They are forced to follow their own road to the end.

The Kolchakites gnash their teeth with malice and hatred. The Anglo-French and American imperialists have deceived and betrayed them. There can be no doubt of that. We have before us a case of betrayal of the minor brigands by the major ones. This has predetermined Kolchak’s doom. He knows this himself. In his fury the cheated adventurer is trying to do as much damage to the workers’ and peasants’ country as he can. He has absolutely nothing to lose. Nothing can save him.

But while Kolchak has nothing to lose, that cannot be said of many of those who are still marching behind him. The SRs and the Mensheviks recoiled in fear from Kolchak. But quite a lot of non-party people, especially from among the officers, followed Kolchak only because they believed he would win. How many citizens there were who said: ‘The Soviet government will undoubtedly beat Krasnov, Denikin and Kolchak, but its task will become very much harder when the victorious allies invade Russia in support of Kolchak.’

That was what Kolchak gambled on. With the bait of American aid he caught many officers and lured them on to the road of his traitorous adventure.

This adventure has miscarried. There will be no aid from the Allies. The capture of Ufa and Belebey will change nothing. The Soviet power is growing and getting stronger every day. The Soviet power has recovered Odessa and is recovering the whole of the Crimea. With every day that passes the Soviet power finds new allies in Europe. The imperialist governments are talking openly of the inevitability of negotiations with the Soviet power. Only a short time is left in which those officers who linked their fate with Kolchak’s can break that criminal link and return, repentant, to Workers’ and Peasants’ Russia. By doing so they will save much blood from being shed. The workers’ and peasants’ government wages ruthless war against rebels and counter-revolution. But it is always ready to extend the hand of pardon to all who have understood the futility and folly of Kolchak’s adventure and who honestly declare their complete willingness to work in the ranks of the citizens of the Soviet land.

April 13, 1919
En Route, No.31

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Last updated on: 23.12.2006