The Military Writings of
Leon Trotsky

Volume 2, 1919

How the Revolution Armed

The Southern Front

III. The Red Army’s Second Offensive in the Ukraine
(August-December 1919)


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

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Mamontov’s cavalry have not yet been crushed. They are continuing to commit atrocities and brutal deeds. These bandits on horseback are destroying, burning, plundering everything that comes their way. Their operation has no serious military significance. But they are committing atrocities and crimes with out number. By wrecking railway lines they obstruct the movement of food supplies. They pillage grain and other food stuffs, they seize the peasants’ cattle and carts as they come upon them, they get drunk and rape women and kill old men.

In Tambov, Kozlov and Lebedyan their path is marked by revolting crimes and disgusting debauchery.

Mamontov’s cavalry, cut off from their own forces, avoiding battle and engaging in arson, plunder and rape, cannot, of course, be regarded as a military unit. It is a gang of brigands, arsonists, rapists and thugs. There can be no talk of war where they are concerned – what is needed is a round-up, as with a beast of prey.

This round-up must be carried through with all energy and completed within a few weeks. We cannot allow these bandits to commit any more atrocities. Every day that is allowed to slip by means fresh hundreds of human victims – workers and peasants, men and women. The workers’ and peasants’ government has offered pardon to any members of Mamontov’s force who voluntarily surrender to the Soviet power. But no quarter can be given to those of Mamontov’s men who are found armed: they are not prisoners but brigands caught on the scene of their crimes. They must be exterminated without mercy.

This is now the duty of the workers and peasants in the zone in which Mamontov’s troops are carrying out their incursions. Village, volost, uyezd and province executive committees and Party organisations in the area between 50 and 100 versts around the Mamontov ‘blot’ must make every effort to contribute to the fight against the mounted robbers and murderers.

The local Communists must be in the forefront of this struggle.

A clear task is posed. Mamontov’s men must not be allowed to break through to the North, Tula and Moscow. They must not be allowed to move southward, into the rear of our Red forces on the Voronezh and Kursk sectors of the front. Their routes to west and east must be cut. They are to be exterminated on the spot, to be annihilated like mad dogs.

Close the ring, workers and peasants! Bring the people out to take part in the round-up, comrade communists! Daredevils, to the forefront!

September 4, 1919
En Route, No.86

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Last updated on: 22.12.2006