Various Subjects

The Sacred Task
of the Red Army

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

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Comrade soldiers of the Red Army! On March 8, this year an old Tatar named Kurmayev, born in Samara province, came to see me at the People’s Commissariat for Military Affairs. He had come to Moscow at the desire of his fellow-villagers, Tatar working peasants, and, with tears in his eyes, he thanked the Soviet power for liberating Samara province from Dutov’s bands.

This is what he told me.

‘When the Cossacks were stationed in our village we suffered many misfortunes. The Cossack officers not only took from us horses, cattle and grain without paying anything, especially where poor peasants were concerned, but, worse still, they mocked us, persecuted us, beat and shot at us. We Tatars had it worse than anyone else. We heard that the Red Army was advancing into Samara province, but we didn’t know whether that would mean better times for us, or worse. When the Cossacks had left our village and the Red Army men came in, we saw at once that these were a different sort of people. We were not insulted any more. The soldiers talked with us in a brotherly way, and order was established in the village and all around. We breathed freely, and blessed the Red Army.’

That is what I was told by the old Tatar, father of a numerous family. And when, comrade soldiers, I heard these words. I felt proud of our workers’ and peasants’ Red Army. In this little example the true character of the revolutionary forces was revealed, together with the significance of this war which we have been forced to wage. On the one hand, the bourgeois-landlord troops restore in practice, everywhere that they go, the black injustice that prevailed under the Tsars, the oppression of the poor, especially of all those who speak a different language or belong to a different nation or religion. In Avdat village the inhabitants are Moslems, so – at them, chase them, crush them, rob them and cut them up! That is the principle of action of the dishonourable counter-revolutionary bands. The conscious revolutionary Red forces are not like that. They know that the working people, whatever nation they belong to, are their brothers. They know that people must be divided not by nation but by class. All honest working people form one family, whatever language they may speak and in whatever place of worship their fathers may have prayed. All oppressors, exploiters, parasites, aggressors, regardless of nationality, are enemies of the working people. The task of the soldiers of the Red Army, their sacred task, is to defend the poor against the rich. This is what distinguishes our army from all other armies in the world. But not everyone understands this as yet. There are quite a lot of backward, ignorant, downtrodden people who do not know what the Red Army is and for what purpose it exists. Your task, comrade soldiers, is to explain this to all and sundry, and, what is most important, to prove it in practice. Every poor peasant, every working man, every downtrodden mother of a family, every homeless old man or helpless orphan must see the Red Army as their defender. Woe to the soldier who does not understand what he has been appointed to do, and uses his power against his oppressed brothers and sisters.

But to the true soldier of the Red Army, who bravely and honourably defends the rights and interests of the poor – honour and glory, and the gratitude of the working masses.

March 10, 1920

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Last updated on: 27.12.2006