The Military Writings of
Leon Trotsky

Volume 2, 1919

How the Revolution Armed


II. Commanders and Commissars



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

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One of our brigades on the Narva front was commanded by a former general of the old army. Aleksandr Panfilovich Nikolayev. In the course of our defeats before Yamburg Com rade Nikolayev was taken prisoner, along with others, by the frenzied White-Guard bandit Balakhovich. [S.N. Bulak-Balakhovich joined the Red Army in 1918, but in November of that year took his regiment over to the Whites at Pskov. At first he co-operated with Yudenich, but later quarrelled with him. In 1920 he co-operated with the Polish forces against the Red Army in Byelorussia.] Several hundred men were shot or hanged by Balakhovich in Yamburg. Among those tortured by the counter-revolutionaries was Brigade Commander Nikolayev. Local inhabitants have told comrades visiting Yamburg, among them Comrade Zinoviev, the details of Comrade Nikolayev’s death, describing him as a real hero. This former general of the Tsar’s army not only did not abjure his bond with our Red Army, on the contrary – he threw down a challenge before his executioners and died with the cry: ‘Long live the rule of the workers and peasants!’

In his lifetime, Comrade Nikolayev’s name was a modest one, known only to a small circle of persons. This name must now be made known to the entire Red Army, to the entire country. Comrade Nikolayev was one of those representatives of the old officer corps who took to his heart the profound truth of the labour movement and identified himself forever with the cause of the Red Army and the workers’ and peasants’ revolution.

Comrade Nikolayev’s body has been found and will shortly be brought to Petrograd, where the heroic proletariat and the Red garrison will do honour to the remains of the Red general.

May the memory of Aleksandr Panfilovich Nikolayev live for ever in the hearts of the working masses.

October 5, 1919, Orel.
En Route, No.87

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Last updated on: 18.12.2006