The War with Poland

The Polish Front

On the Occasion of the Creation of a Special Advisory Board Under the Commander-In-Chief

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

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The appointment of A.A. Brusiov as chairman of the special advisory board has naturally aroused considerable interest.

The establishment of a special advisory board to include, along with experienced military specialists, some outstanding Communist workers, was understood by some – in direct contradiction to the letter and the meaning of the order by the Revolutionary War Council of the Republic [1] – as the establishment of a new command apparatus, collegial in character. There can, of course, be no question of any such thing. The special advisory board works under the Commander-in Chief, S.S. Kamenev, in whose hands all power over military operations is concentrated. The task of the special advisory board is to work on problems of military administration and supply connected with the service of the Western front (formation, training of commanders, replacements, all aspects of supply, transport, etc.). There is no need to explain how important this group of problems is, and how important it is to apply in solving them the experience of those outstanding military workers who make up the special advisory board.

The chairman of the special advisory board himself, A.A. Brusilov, is too well acquainted with military history, and rich enough in personal military experience on a broad scale, to tolerate any idea of fragmenting the power of command. He has made this sufficiently clear in his letter, printed below, to the Chief of the All-Russia General Staff. From the text of this letter [2], which gave a considerable impetus to the creation of the special advisory board, readers will see what the motives were that impelled A.A. Brusiov to offer his services to the Soviet Government for the defence of Russia against the invasion by the Polish gentry, and also those views of A.A. Brusiov’s which are sufficiently accounted for by his entire past, and which are separated by an entire historical epoch from the views of the Soviet power. Whereas A.A. Brusilov sees in Orthodoxy the national sign of a Russian man, this point of view does not, of course, seem convincing to the Russian proletariat, the majority of whom have broken radically with Orthodoxy, as with all forms of religion, and yet who nevertheless are now the pivot of the Russian nation, the bearer of its great socialist future – just as the Polish proletariat, which has torn itself away from the superstitions of Catholicism, is the principal creative force in the Polish nation.

But it is significant in the highest degree that A.A. Brusiov recognises as absolutely correct the Soviet policy expressed in unconditional recognition of the independence of the Polish republic. No less significant is that A.A. Brusiov, by the very fact of his offering his services for the fight against bourgeois gentry Poland, has confirmed, so to speak, in the eyes of certain social circles, that the workers’ and peasants’ power possesses the right to expect and to demand support and help from all citizens who are honourable and devoted to the people, regardless of their past education in this great struggle in the West on which the future of working people’s Russia depends.

May 7, 1920


1. By order No.818 of the Revolutionary War Council of the Republic, dated May 2, 1920, in order to ensure all-round elucidation of the problems connected with the struggle against Poland, it was resolved to set up a Special Advisory Board under the Commander-in-Chief, to consist of persons of authority and with the task of recommending measures for increasing our forces and resources for the fight against the attack by the Polish counter-revolution. A.A. Brusilov was appointed chairman of this Advisory Board, and its members were prominent figures from the old General Staff: Polivanov, Klembovsky, Baluyev, Gutor, Verkhovsky, Zayonchkovsky, Akimov and others, together with some responsible political workers: Serebryakov, Danishevsky, Skvortsov and Aleksandrov.

2. In his letter addressed to the Chief of the All-Russia General Staff, N.E. Rattel, Brusiov referred to the need to arouse popular patriotism, without which, in his view, it was impossible to create an army capable of fighting. Brusiov proposed that an Advisory Board be formed of persons possessing experience of war and of life, and stressed that this Board must not interfere in any way in operations. Brusilov noted that all operational decisions must necessarily result from the individual will of the Commander-in-Chief alone.

The note here printed, together with Brusiov’s letter, was published in Pravda, No.97, May 7, 1920.

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Last updated on: 26.12.2006