Various Subjects

Speech at a Parade
in Honour of the Red Commanders

Red Square, October 2, 1920

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

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Comrade Red commanders, cadets, representatives of the garrison of Moscow!

We have assembled here to mark, in this Red Square, our joy at the fact that we are sending to the front of struggle against the enemies of the working masses several hundred new, young, but already spiritually tempered Red commanders, and I begin my speech to you by calling upon you all, with one voice, to hail our brothers, the new Red commanders, in a concerted Red Army ‘Hurrah!’

Comrade young Red commanders! You are joining the fighting ranks of our active army at a difficult time. During the last few weeks we have suffered setbacks on the front of struggle against the Polish gentry. Red commanders! Remember the first precept of the Red Army: do not take fright at setbacks, do not conceal them, do not deceive yourselves or others concerning them! In victory do not lose your heads from joy, in defeat do not lose your heads from anxiety! In this lies our strength: through this we shall remain strong until we win complete victory over our enemies.

This is a difficult moment, because our principal foe, bourgeois France, the most predatory of all countries, has realised that it is now or never for her to deal us a hard blow. Wrangel and Poland are merely the two wings of French imperialism, our principal foe.

If you look back, over all the wars we have fought, you will see that, in every case, behind our immediate enemy stood the predatory, bloodthirsty and base usurers and stock-exchange speculators of France. Our first serious fight began on the Volga – against the Czechoslovak Corps, which was nothing but a hired detachment in the service of the French Government. Do you remember the revolt in Yaroslavl? An old, historic town, with its splendid buildings, was senselessly destroyed and, what was even graver, working people, women and children, perished beneath the rubble of those ancient buildings. Who organised that criminal revolt? The French ambassador Noulens, the French general Niessel, with money from the French stock-exchange. Remember the long story of our struggle in the East against Kolchak, in the North against General Miller, in the South against Denikin, in the North-West against Yudenich. Who armed them? Who backed them? Who directed them against us? The imperialists of the whole world, of course – but, first and foremost, the French stock-exchange. And now, in the final months of our war with Poland, is it not obvious to all of us, and to the whole world, that behind White-Guard, bourgeois-gentry Poland stands the French stock-exchange, which will not let the Polish Government make peace with us? More than that, the French President Millerand, that wretched, dishonest renegade and traitor – for, in the past, he called himself a socialist and a representative of the workers – that politician in the paid service of the French stock-exchange, lacking conscience and honour, together with the band that backs him, has now made it his task to strike us a hard blow in the South.

Comrades! Here, in this square, I warn you frankly, Red commanders, and you, Red soldiers, that the French militarists are preparing to strike a blow at us at Odessa, Novorossiisk, Nikolayev and Kherson, at our southern ports on the coast of the Black Sea. The French naval command has already several times sought a pretext, an outward reason for attacking Odessa and Novorossiisk. Hitherto they have not succeeded in this. All the information we have indicates that now, hurrying to help Wrangel, Millerand is getting ready, on one pretext or another, or else without any pretext at all, to bombard Odessa and Novorossiisk, perhaps to land an expeditionary force, or to help Wrangel seize these towns from the landward side. We expose in advance this dishonourable, bloody plot by the French stock-exchange. This exposure will be heard by the working masses of the whole of Europe and the world, and, above all, of France. Millerand will not succeed in deceiving the French workers with the story that we have compelled the French Government to attack us, For we say now to the workers of France: ‘Be on the alert! Know that your President is preparing behind your backs to strike a base blow at our Red Soviet ports!’

At the same time we appeal to the workers of Poland, and also to the workers and peasants of Romania, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, because in all these countries Millerand’s agents are hatching plots against us, trying to get them to move against workers’ and peasants’ Russia. We say to the working people of South-Eastern Europe: ‘Beware of our common enemies, the French imperialists!’ We say to the working people of Poland: ‘You need peace no less than we do. Cast off the criminal hand of the French bourgeoisie, which grasps you by the throat.’ We say to the working people of France: ‘How long are you going to allow a government of dishonest stock-exchange hangmen to rule over you? It is time, high time, workers of France, to overthrow the base gang which hates everything that is honest anywhere in the world. There has never been and is not a government baser than the present government of France. Hundreds of millions of people in all parts of the world hate it and curse it. It is time, high time, to make France a workers’ and peasants’ Soviet republic!’

So long as this has not been done, so long as danger threatens the workers’ and peasants’ country, we shall defend it honourably and courageously, to our last drop of blood. Here, in Red Square, beside the tombs of our warriors who are dear to us, we swear that the new conspiracy of world capital, under the leadership of the French stock-exchange, shall not conquer and break our country. Yes, our country is poor, our workers’ and peasants’ country is exhausted, but it has the will to fight, to defend its future, the free family of workers and peasants which will arise and will raise up our economy, which will make this Moscow and our whole country rich, happy, educated, and proud that it has shown to all the peoples the road to real freedom and real brotherhood.

Red commanders and Red soldiers! Let us raise our hands to swear an oath that we promise, before the working people of the whole world, to fight against the bourgeoisie of the whole world, for the well-being of the working masses! Death and destruction to French imperialism! Long live the world working class! Long live the Red Army and its Red commanders! Hurrah!

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Last updated on: 27.12.2006