The War with Poland

Order No.215

By the Chairman of the Revolutionary War Council of the Republic and People’s Commissar for Transport to the Province of Gomel. May, 10, 1920, No.215, Gomel

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

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Into battle against desertion!

At this time when the Polish gentry are threatening to seize Gomel Province, there are within the borders of this province a large number of persons who have avoided presenting themselves at the appointed time for military service, and also outright deserters.

The Polish gentry want to take the land from the peasants and give it back to the landlords, to hand the factories over to the capitalists, and to subject the working people to the rich and to the Catholic priests.

A deserter from the Red Army is a direct helper of the Polish gentry. Those who, inside the Soviet land and inside the Red Army, harbour deserters are also helping the invasion by the foreign gentry.

The time has come for a stern showdown with the deserters in Gomel Province!

I order the military authorities in the field and in the rear to undertake, with co-operation from the railway authorities and all civil authorities generally, a resolute campaign against desertion:

  1. Uyezd, volost and village Soviet organs (revolutionary committees) are to be informed that they, and in particular their chairmen, bear direct and immediate responsibility for the fight against desertion. Volost revolutionary committees which fail to take measures against self-seekers, traitors and agents of the Polish gentry are to be arrested and brought before a tribunal.
  2. Families which harbour deserters are to be penalised at the expense of their property (confiscation of horses and other animals, etc.), regardless of whether or not they are brought before a tribunal. 3. Assizes of the tribunals are to be organised in all uyezds, with instructions to deal ruthlessly, on the spot, with cases of deliberate desertion.

If the Polish gentry win, hundreds of thousands of the best workers and peasants will be shot or hanged. Slavery and tyranny will prevail throughout Russia.

Listen, peasants and workers!

Your Workers’ and Peasants’ Republic is threatened with mortal danger!

Whoever betrays the working people in the hour of danger can be shown no mercy!

Death to deserters and traitors!

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Last updated on: 26.12.2006