The War with Poland

Order No.242

By the Chairman of the Revolutionary War Council of the Republic to the Red Army and the Red Navy, September 24, 1920, No.242, Moscow

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

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The All-Russia Central Executive Committee of the Soviets of Workers’, Peasants’, Red Army Men’s and Working Cossacks’ deputies decided on September 23 to approach the Polish Government with a proposal to conclude an armistice within a period of ten days and to sign the basic conditions of peace, and in this connection the All-Russia CEC decided, with a view to ending the war as soon as possible, to make extremely big concessions to Poland. [1]

Every warrior in the Red Army and the Red Navy knows that we are waging war not for the sake of conquests, not for the sake of annexations and indemnities, and not for so-called military glory. We are defending ourselves and fighting for peace. Where the slightest possibility exists for us to do this, we strive to safeguard peace for the working people at the price not of blood but of concessions. The supreme organ of workers’ and peasants’ power in our country is acting in this way now, in an endeavour to avoid a winter campaign.

The meaning of the All-Russia CEC’s decision regarding peace with Poland must be explained to every warrior in the Red Army and the Red Navy. It is the duty of commanders, commissars and Political Departments to explain to the fighters at the front and the servicemen in the rear the actual scope of the concession which the Soviet power is offering to the Government of bourgeois gentry Poland, in order to avoid any further bloodshed.

So far as we are concerned there is not the slightest obstacle to the conclusion of peace. If White Poland refuses peace this time as well, the Red Army, aware of the lofty rightness of its cause, will not shrink from fresh, grave sacrifices, so as to ensure victory for workers’ and peasants’ Russia and, along with victory, a lasting and just peace.


1. In the resolution of September 23, the All-Russia Central Executive Committee once more recognised the complete independence and sovereignty of the Polish Republic, and decided to propose through its peace delegation, with a view to obviating a possible winter campaign, that peace be concluded on the following terms: the RSFSR to withdraw a number of conditions which the Polish Government had declared inacceptable; [2] the Soviet Republic to agree to sign an armistice and to recognise as the frontier a line running considerably further to the east than the one laid down by the Supreme Council in December 1919. These concessions were made by the Soviet Republic with the sole aim of saving the working people as soon as could be from the burdens of a possible winter campaign.

2. The ‘objectionable’ terms now withdrawn included these: the Polish army to be reduced to 50,000 men; a ‘civic guard’ to be formed in Poland, composed exclusively of trade union members; all Poland’s war industries to be demobilised, and no war material imported; an amnesty to be granted to political offenders; and the railway from Volkovysk through Bialystok to Grajewo to be put under Soviet control (this would ensure direct contact with Germany).

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Last updated on: 26.12.2006