The Military Writings of
Leon Trotsky

Volume 2, 1919

How the Revolution Armed

The Eastern Front

Kolchak’s Offensive (March-April 1919)

A Great Test

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

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The Party, Soviet and trade union organisations in the provinces and the uyezds are undergoing a great test. On the vigour and the precision of their work depends the success of operations on the Eastern and Southern fronts.

It would be criminal light-mindedness to suppose that with the recovery of Buguruslan, Sergiyevsk and Chistopol [Chistopol is on the river Kaina, about 110km. south-east of Kazan. Sergiyevsk is about 100km. north-east of Samara.] our task on the Eastern front is coming to a close. That is not so, it is far from being the case. Encouraged by the prolonged retreat of our Eastern armies, Kolchak advanced too far. When the turn came in the morale of our forces, when we went over to the offensive, we soon crushed his vanguard. But only his vanguard. How numerous Kolchak’s reserves are, and what staunchness they will show, can be discovered only in practice. Only the further development of operations will bring us into direct conflict with Kolchak’s reserves. And it is not difficult to forecast that the pressure which our armies of the Eastern front are exerting at present will not be sufficient to bring us complete victory.

We have no right to stand still. We have no right to lose tempo. We must keep on advancing, developing our success, not allowing the enemy to halt, carry out the regrouping he needs, consolidate and give us a rebuff.

We now have in our hands the great advantage of the initiative. We must keep it. We must advance, advance, advance – until we have completely crushed Kolchak’s bands. But for this purpose the front needs reinforcements. The speed and con tinuity of their arrival depend on the vigour and precision of the work of the Soviet power at province and uyezd level. Up to now this work has been performed very much more slowly than the circumstances required. Resolutions and support for the Eastern front flowed much more abundantly than reinforcements and drafts. And yet there can be no doubt as to the readiness of the workers and peasants to give everything for victory over Kolchak. All that is needed is for the province and uyezd apparatuses of Soviet power to work steadily, precisely, with out interruption. It is necessary that nobody shall dare to put off till tomorrow what can be done today.

Our local organisations are indeed undergoing a great test at present. The task of the Party and Soviet centre consists in precisely checking that this test is passed. Enterprising, reliable, capable, conscientious workers make themselves known precisely in critical moments. Brought to the forefront by circumstances, they must in future be given the opportunity to apply their capacities on a wider scale. Contrariwise, those workers who, in the localities, become overgrown with the cobwebs of bureaucratism must be removed from their posts.

The great test which the country is undergoing must in no case be allowed to pass without consequences for our internal work of construction. The straining of all our forces must lead to a purging from the Soviet apparatus of all elements of passivity, thoughtlessness and rot, and to leadership in work being assigned to all the creative elements of the working class.

May 7, 1919
[Shikhrany is south-west of Kazan, where the line from Moscow joins the Kazan-Penza line.]
En Route, No.43

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Last updated on: 23.12.2006