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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Our armies have taken Bendery. [Bendery is on the Bessarabian bank of the river Dniester.] A wide door has been opened into Bessarabia. In the Kamenets-Podolsk direction Ukrainian units are advancing to link up with the armies of Soviet Hungary. At the same time things are going well in the North too. Four weeks ago the British command was in utter despair, then it seemed to calm down, but now, once more, matters are as bad as they can be for this command. The Whites are rebelling, calling out to our troops, coming over to our side, fighting in our ranks. This happened in the area of Tulgasskaya village, on the left bank of the Northern Dvina. Thanks to this development, our units, despite the extremely unfavourable physical conditions, have occupied at one stroke the highly important fortified area of Tulgasskaya volost, up to and including the villages of Karpovskaya and Butakovskaya. We can therefore look forward with complete confidence to the further development of events on the Northern front.

True, we have suffered a big defeat in the West. The Polish legionaries have taken Vilna. However, despite the great importance of Vilna as a Lithuanian centre, the mere fact that Vilna has fallen does not in itself constitute anything dangerous from the military standpoint. Relations between Soviet Russia and Poland will be decided not by the bayonets of those essentially very insignificant forces which in the present conflict are deciding the ‘fate’ of Vilna for a few weeks. The proletariat of Warsaw, Czenstochowa and Dombrow:a are raising sharply the question of Soviet power. The government of Polish capital can still today hurl shock-groups against Vilna, but it is barely capable of creating any sort of stable regime in Warsaw. The fluctuations of the Western front are consequently of third-rate Importance. Over there, the whole matter will be settled all at once, and on a wide scale.

There remains, as before, the Eastern front. It would be hasty to affirm that we have already brought about the necessary change on that front. On the northern sector operations have been almost halted by the very bad condition of the roads. On the southern sector Kolchak is still in some places pressing our units hard. Replacements and reinforcements are coming up from various quarters, but they are coming too slowly. Large numbers of Communists are being mobilised, but they take too long in arriving. Through supply trains are moving eastward, but they are moving too slowly. We need not only to smash Kolchak but to do this quickly, with the minimum expenditure of forces and resources.

I therefore appeal to all institutions and workers in the rear – to the Central Supply Administration, to the All-Russia General Staff, to the military commissariats of districts, provinces and uyezds, to Soviet and Party organisations, to the trade unions:

The Eastern front calls to you: what you do, do quickly!

En Route, No.37
April 27, 1919

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Last updated on: 23.12.2006