The Military Writings of
Leon Trotsky

Volume 2, 1919

How the Revolution Armed

The Southern Front

II. Denikin’s Offensive (May 15-August 1919)


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

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The Red Army is growing not just daily but hourly. Hundreds of thousands of peasants who hitherto had evaded conscription are now presenting themselves voluntarily and asking to be enrolled in the army so as to wage ruthless struggle against the landlords’ army of Denikin. Many thousands of Great-Russian peasants have come to the Ukraine. Many thousands of Ukrainian workers and peasants are fighting on the Great-Russian sectors of the Southern front. The army is growing rapidly. But the production of arms is not keeping pace with the growth of the army.

We need rifles.We could immediately put twice and three times as many soldiers in the field if the country were not short of weapons.

Every rifle hidden among the civil population means a crime committed against the Red Army.

There are a lot of rifles in the hands of the civil population in the Ukraine. Considerable numbers of peasants have not surrendered their rifles because they think that, if the need should arise, they will look after their own defence against Denikin. A false and fatal calculation! Isolated peasant bands, hastily armed, are incapable of opposing Denikin’s forces. We need regular, well-organised units, united by a firm command. The peasants of Kharkov and Yekaterinoslav provinces, who concealed their rifles, thereby helped Denikin to conquer these provinces and to set the landlord and the gendarmes once more on the backs of the working peasants.

The Red Army needs weapons. Given a sufficient number of rifles, we shall wipe Denikin’s landlord bands off the face of the earth within a few weeks. The Ukrainian peasants possess that sufficient number of rifles. Whoever does not hand in his rifle is helping Denikin and is a traitor to the working people.

Ukrainian peasant! If you have a rifle, hand it in at once to the nearest military commissariat or to the headquarters of the nearest unit. With this rifle we shall arm your son, your brother, or, perhaps, you yourself, if you are of call-up age. This rifle is a weapon of struggle for the freedom and independence of the peasants.

The Red Army demands this of you, Ukrainian peasant:

’Hand in your rifle.’

August 2, 1919
En Route, No.73

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Last updated on: 22.12.2006