The War with Poland

Peace with Poland has been Achieved!

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

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On October 12, a preliminary treaty of peace was signed between Soviet Russia and the Soviet Ukraine, on the one hand, and, on the other, bourgeois-gentry Poland. This preliminary peace is not yet final, but, basically, it does predetermine final peace. The conditions of the Treaty of Riga between Poland and ourselves are very burdensome. We were obliged to make extremely big concessions to the Polish bourgeoisie – or, to speak more correctly, to the imperialists of the Entente. Eastern Galicia, the western strip of the Ukraine, a considerable part of Byelorussia and all Lithuania fall, de facto, into Poland’s power. In addition, the Soviet Republic has to hand over to Poland part of its gold reserve, so that Poland may use this to pay that part of the old Tsarist debts which France has charged to Poland.

Thus, the peace conditions are very burdensome for us. But they are nevertheless not so burdensome as war conditions. Peace has been achieved. There will be no winter campaign on the Western and South-Western fronts. There can be no doubt that the preliminary peace will be ratified by the supreme organs of both parties. At the cost of very big concessions and very heavy sacrifices the workers’ and peasants’ government has been able to win the peace which the bloodthirsty provocateurs of French diplomacy wanted to disrupt at all costs, with the aid of their numerous helpers in all the bourgeois countries.

We shall not now analyse the influence that the peace which has been concluded will have on the situation of Poland and her internal life. But we do recall this fact: the Polish Government could have had without war a peace no less favourable than the one which has now been concluded with us. In March and April of this year – that is, before the White Polish advance on Kiev – we offered Pilsudski peace with a frontier for Poland which was more extensive – that is, which embraced more Ukrainian and Byelorussian territory – than the frontier established at Riga. The Polish Government did not accept our offer at that time, but launched an offensive into the Ukraine, seized Kiev, and compelled us to defend ourselves. We cleared the enemy from the Ukraine, dealt a heavy blow to the Polish army, and pursued it up to the walls of Warsaw, demanding that peace be concluded. The Polish Government did not want peace, and found itself obliged to enslave its country still further to Britain, France and America, so as to obtain from them the military supplies it needed in order to continue the war with Russia. The Polish command succeeded in thrusting our forces back eastward, into the territory of Byelorussia and the Ukraine, but even after that there was no way out for the Polish Government but to make peace with us. Thus, after all the bloody battles fought, the frightful devastation suffered, the innumerable sacrifices incurred, peace was signed on terms less favourable to Poland than those which we had offered on the eve of the war. We do not doubt that the Polish working people themselves will draw the balance of this war and evaluate the policy pursued by their ruling classes.

Millions of workers and peasants of Russia and the Ukraine realise that the Soviet Government has acted quite correctly in buying peace even at the price of big concessions. Our Soviet republic needs peace above all, to revive its economy, to bring well-being to the working masses. The peace we have made is burdensome, but it is peace, and we welcome it.

The workers and peasants of the Ukraine and Russia are clearly aware of why it is that this peace is a burdensome one. While the Red Army was fighting heroically against the White Polish forces, armed by the Entente, the bands of the Russo-German baron [1] hired by the French bourgeoisie were operating behind the Red Army’s back. Only idiots can suppose that Wrangel can possess any independent importance and can actually take power in Russia. He was assigned a different role: the French stock-exchange ordered Wrangel to bring help to bourgeois-gentry Poland by means of his advance into Russia. The Crimean dog snapped at the legs of the Red Army so as to help the Polish Government seize Byelorussia and part of the Ukraine. A similar role, though on an immeasurably smaller scale, was assigned to the Ukrainian Wrangel – Petlyura. These traitors, who have sold themselves to everybody in turn that was willing to buy them, are the ones guilty of our having been forced to make peace on burdensome conditions.

The role played by the Wrangelites is clear to the whole world, and they are despised even by those who have bought them. It is highly possible that Wrangel will now be betrayed by his employers, just as Koichak and Denikin were betrayed. The French newspapers are already writing that France has no intention whatsoever of seizing Odessa or other Russian ports. It may be that now, after the signing of the preliminary peace treaty with Poland, even the most embittered and obtuse French imperialists are intending to refuse support for the Wrangel adventure. It may be, though, that these declarations in the newspapers are being made to deceive the French workers and to lull our vigilance.

But no, this shall not succeed, not in the least! All our attention is concentrated on the front against Wrangel. The whole country has now turned its face to the South. Everything surviving from the old history of Russian that is dishonourable, greedy and predacious is concentrated there in the Crimea and on the adjacent shores of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov -and it must all be destroyed.

In the North, the West and the East we have, essentially speaking, no fronts left. We now have only one front – in the South. By the anniversary of the October revolution now approaching, we must bring to completion the work we began three years ago. We must finally cleanse the Soviet Republic, we must smash Wrangel.

October 13, 1920,
En Route, No.134


1. Baron Wrangel’s family was of Danish and Swedish origin, being descended from Gustavus Adolphus’s famous general in the Thirty Years’ War. The family contributed numerous prominent servants to the Tsarist state, including the Admiral after whom Wrangel Island is named.

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Last updated on: 26.12.2006