The Military Writings of
Leon Trotsky

Volume 2, 1919

How the Revolution Armed

The Fight for Petrograd


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

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A pack of bourgeois swine are rending the flesh of Soviet Russia from every direction. In the South, Denikin is striving with all his strength towards Tula and Moscow. This has involved weakening his position in the Ukraine itself, with the result that Kiev has been boldly seized by Red forces.

In the West the Polish gentry are gnashing their teeth. The German General Von Der Goltz has turned himself into Hetman Goltsev and, egged on by the stock-exchange scum of all countries, is conquering the Baltic region with the aid of monarchist bands, so as to strike at Moscow from there.

On the North-Western sector of the front a bloody, drunken trio – Yudenich, Balakhovich and Rodzyanko [This is A.P. Rodzyanko, not to be confused with his brother P.P. Rodzyanko (author of Tattered Banners), who fought in Siberia, or with the Octobrist politician M.V. Rodzyanko.] – are advancing on Petrograd [78]

The blow struck by the White-Guard bands was preceded by the peace negotiations of the Estonian White-Guards, who acted as though on General Yudenich’s behalf. It is still difficult to make out whether the Estonian White-Guards are direct agents of Yudenich or his miserable dupes. But it is a fact that the Estonian peace negotiations served as a means of putting the Red forces in Petrograd off their guard, lulling their vigilance and lowering the level of their fighting capacity.

The army defending the approaches to Petrograd did not sustain the initial onslaught and began to fall back. A terrible danger again hung over Petrograd. The British and French wireless reported with devilish gloating the defeats we suffered on the Yamburg road. The stock-exchange press of the whole world, in transports of delight, forecast Petrograd’s fall in the near future.

They miscalculated again this time. Petrograd will not fall.

Petrograd stands firm. We shall not surrender Petrograd.

Forces adequate to defend the first city of the proletarian revolution will be found in the land of the workers and peasants.

Yudenich’s success is the success of a cavalry raid. Young infantry regiments which had never faced cavalry before drew back. But a limit will be set to the advance of Yudenich’s cavalry. Army units from other fronts are going to Petrograd’s aid, and, above all, the working class of Petrograd-have risen to defend their city.

Despite the howling of the bourgeois jackals of the whole world, Petrograd will not fall. It will stand firm. The working class will defend it this time too. But this time must be the last time. It is not enough to defend Petrograd. We must smash the skulls of the Yudenichite bands of Anglo-French imperialism.

October 16, 1919
En Route, No.97


78. In the first half of October the North-Western Army wade a second attempt to march on Petrograd. On September 28 enemy units brought pressure to bear on us in the Luga and Pskov direction and inflicted a partial defeat on the 19th and 10th divisions of the Seventh Army. Bad work on the part of the intelligence organs of our headquarters prevented our command from appreciating the significance of the enemy’s regrouping: the Whites succeeded in concentrating superior forces in the Yamburg direction, which was the most important for them. The strung-out disposition of the Seventh Army, which had been weakened both numerically and qualitatively, together with the absence of reserves and mobile groups, made it easy for Yudenich to break through our front and, on October 11, to take Yamburg. Yudenich’s main forces (the First Corps) operated along the railway between Yamburg and Gatchina, while a subsidiary blow, which was intended to facilitate the capture of Petrograd, was struck in the direction of Luga and along the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland. On October17 the Whites occupied both Gatchina and Strugi-Byclyc [?] without fighting. Thus, a serious threat to Red Petrograd was created.

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Last updated on: 23.12.2006