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 danger from Kolchak has undoubtedly evoked an immense upsurge in the country. All other questions have been put aside for the time being. It has again been shown that the great class bond that unites the worker masses is incomparably stronger than any conflicts or misunderstandings due to differences of trade or way of life. Discontent undoubtedly exists in relation to the state of affairs, or to other actions by the Soviet power. How, indeed, could that not be? The country has not yet escaped from the clutches of hunger and ruin. This discontent sometimes takes acute forms. Incited by the White Guards and the Left SRs, with the help of the Mensheviks and the Right SRs, discontent is at times transformed into local revolts or strikes. But it is enough for a general danger to appear, and all partial questions fall into the background: the working masses are united by awareness that, however hard things may be for them now, temporarily, under the rule of the bourgeoisie they would be incomparably harder and, what is most important, there would be no way out. Hence this militant upsurge, despite the heavy fatigue, hence this readiness to fight to the end for the Workers’ and Peasants’ Republic.

However, in this matter too the organisational apparatus is functioning too slowly. The path that links the readiness of the working masses to fight and the implementation of this readiness of theirs is proving to be too long.

Reinforcement drafts often arrive too slowly owing to the shortage of uniforms. Local Soviet institutions work, as often as not, in isolation from each other. Uniforms held by the National Economic Council or by the supply committee are not available when required by the military commissariat of the province or the uyezd. An end must be put to this. The despatching of reinforcement drafts must be made the central task of all Soviet institution and Party organisations.

Mobilisation of Communists, sympathisers and volunteers is going well, but those mobilised take too long to get to the front.

Workers removed from responsible posts take too much time in handing over their responsibilities. An end must be put to this. The handing-over of responsibilities must be completed in a few hours. Persons mobilised must, so far as possible, be sent off on the very same day to the place to which they have been assigned.

Local Party committees and executive committees try to assemble the persons they have mobilised in large units – in battalions and regiments. This arises from a quite comprehensible and not at all blameworthy feeling of emulation. But this way of despatching reinforcements has bad consequences for the front. It is best to include a considerable proportion of the Communists who have been mobilised as Red Army men in the very next reinforcement drafts to leave, while the rest, as they assemble, should be quickly collected into special companies and sent to the front. We have there, in all our armies, goad, hardened cadres, and in the immediate rear we have well-organised holding regiments. Training and formation proceeds a great deal more rapidly in the circumstances of the zone adjoining the front than it does in the distant rear.

The main task now is not to waste time. The arrival of every new reinforcement draft, provided it contains firm cadres, is of enormous material and moral importance for the front. When it receives reinforcements, a regiment is regenerated. Each additional Communist worker can be very important for the life of each separate unit.

But we must hurry. Reinforcements, volunteer formations, commanders, Communists must get to the front without delay, forthwith. And that this may happen it is necessary to finish decisively with red tape and disparity between departments, in every uyezd and provincial town. Every uyezd must act as though the danger from Kolchak were bearing down directly upon it, and as though repelling that danger depended upon its own efforts. Only thus shall we achieve complete, decisive and, what is most important, rapid success!

Comrades, hurry! Don’t waste time!

En Route,
April 28, 1919, No.38

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Last updated on: 24.12.2006