The War with Poland


On the Military-Political Campaign
in Connection with the Conclusion of
Peace with Poland

(Communicated to Comrades Lenin, Krestinsky, Chicherin, Zinoviev, Bukharin and Steklov and to the Moscow Committee of the Party, August 11, 1920 – L.T.)

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

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Despite our excellent military situation, we have done every thing possible to speed up the peace negotiations with Poland. [1] However, the Polish command continues to evade a businesslike meeting with our plenipotentiaries, and this evasion is systematic and malicious. The facts, in their chronological order, make it clear that Poland is manifestly avoiding an encounter with our representatives. It would appear that it is the policy of Polish governmental circles to compel us to take Warsaw, because this ought, in its turn, in the view of the Polish Government and of all those who stand behind it, to provide favourable conditions for military intervention by the Entente. The provocation being practised by the Polish Government is perfectly obvious. If we were to halt our pursuit of the retreating Polish forces, we should thereby deprive ourselves of the fruits of victory. If we pursue the Poles we shall penetrate into Polish territory and shall find ourselves obliged to take Warsaw. In that event, the Polish Government, having malevolently dragged out the negotiations, will raise a howl about our annexationist and imperialist intentions, so as to create the possibility of intervention.

It is quite obvious that the Polish Government would not have engaged in such reckless provocation unless it was backed by at least one of the big powers. Naming which power this is presents no difficulty. It is not Britain, whose government, for a number of reasons which we shall not stop to discuss, is interested in reaching an agreement with us. The power that stands behind White Poland is France. The French Government is most unwilling to allow peaceful relations to be established between Soviet Russia and Poland or other countries, because this would inevitably lead to the downfall of the present government of France – the blindest, greediest and most dishonest of all the governments in the world.

The French Government has nothing to lose. It has spent more than one million on its operations against Soviet Russia. Only the other day the French Parliament discovered that the four millions destined for restoring France’s northern départements has been squandered by Monsieur Clémenceau for the purpose of devastating Russia. The French Government is like a gambler who, each time he loses, doubles his stake in the hope of winning back what he has lost. Millerand and Foch, in violation of all their undertakings and trampling on the last vestiges of decency, are loading seaplanes for Wrangel on ships that had been earmarked for bringing home prisoners of war. At the same time, behind Britain’s back, France is systematically disrupting Russia’s negotiations with Poland. France’s aim is to entrap not only Russia but also Britain, conveying to public opinion the impression that Russia is evading the conclusion of peace, despite Britain’s insistence. However, these gentlemen are playing too crude a game. We have caught them red-handed, and we shall denounce them before the working people of all countries, and, in the first place, of Poland and France. Russia wants peace on the basis, on the one hand, of the complete inviolability of Poland, and, on the other, of serious and real guarantees that Poland will not again serve as a military instrument of the French plutocracy against Soviet Russia. The Polish Government would have made peace long since if it had not been for France. France does not want peace. France wants to draw both the French people and Britain into war with Soviet Russia. May the workers of France realise this, and may they succeed in curbing their government.

August 11, 1920


1. To appreciate what our position was on the Polish front in mid-August it is necessary to note briefly the main phases of our offensive towards Warsaw. After July 5, following a swift blow which broke through the enemy’s positions, the 4th, 15th and 3rd Armies moved into a decisive offensive all along the front. Comrade Gay’s cavalry corps, advancing deeply into the enemy’s rear, cut the Warsaw railway (at Turmont station) and increased still further the disorder in the Polish armies. On July 7 the 16th Army forced a crossing of the Berezina and on 11th July took Minsk. As a result of these defeats, the Poles withdrew to the line they had originally designated for defence, along the rivers Narew and Western Bug. Bitter fighting began along the line of these rivers. On August 3 our forces took Lomza: two days earlier, after five attacks, they had captured Brest-Litovsk, which meant that Warsaw was put in immediate danger. (See Map No.3).

Despite our brilliant situation, the Soviet Government agreed to a Polish proposal that an armistice be concluded. However, our delegates were unable to begin practical negotiations. The first meeting with the Poles at Minsk produced no results: the changed relation of forces at the front had an unfavourable effect, from our standpoint, during this encounter. Only on September 21, after our defeat before Warsaw, did the negotiations begin, at Riga, which were to lead to the conclusion of peace. (For more details on the course of these events, see the chronology.)

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Last updated on: 26.12.2006