The Southern Front

The Fight Against Wrangel

The Kuban Has Not Risen

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

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Baron Wrangel feels cramped in his Crimean bottle. He has already been hailed by the usurers of the Paris stock exchange as ‘master of the Russian land’, but it is difficult to rule Russia from the Crimea. Baron Wrangel pushed out northward, towards Kherson and Yekaterinoslav, but there, too, his successes were short-lived. The heartiest reception the German-Russian baron met with was from the kulaks in the German colonies. [1] But that was not enough. The Red forces of the Southern front have been pressing the Baron hard during the last week, thrusting him back into the Crimean bottle.

The Baron stretched out his hand to the East, to the shores of the Don and the Kuban, trying his luck once again among the Cossacks. The Kuban is rich and populous. The kulaks are still strong there. Many thousands of Denikin’s officers are still in that area. To raise revolt in the Kuban, to draw the Don and the Terek in its wake, to seize Baku, would mean getting one’s hands on soldiers, grain and oil. That would be worth a lot more than the Crimea.

General Wrangel put a large expeditionary force ashore on the coast of the Sea of Azov, at Akhtari [The landing-place is now called Primorsko-Akhtarsk.], and also two smaller ones, on the Taman Peninsula and near Novorossiisk. A few thousand Wrangelite bayonets and sabres are, of course, not enough to conquer North Caucasia. But Wrangel hoped that his landing force would immediately be increased in size through the adhesion of rebel Cossacks, so that each regiment would become a division. The landing force was saturated with officers, so that there would be no shortage of commanders. The main force was equally richly supplied with stocks of arms and clothing. Meanwhile, Wrangel’s agents, who penetrated deeply into the Kuban, carried on their work there. But it was no use. The Kuban did not rise.

In the Kuban there are still a lot of counter-revolutionary vermin, and there is much ignorance and superstition. But the kulak of the Kuban has already understood that the Soviet power is a power, and that it does not permit anyone to play with fire.

The Kuban remembered the example of the Don. Kaledin, Krasnov, Alekseyev, Denikin – they all raised the Don against the Soviet power. They were all defeated. And, each time, the rank-and-file Don Cossacks suffered severely from the civil war got up by the counter-revolutionaries. The Don was depopu-lated, impoverished, weakened. If the Kuban had decided to follow the Don road, that is, the road of repeated rebellion, it would have suffered the same fate. In every large stanitsa, of course, there are individual sworn enemies of workers’ and peasants’ Russia, who are ready to join the German baron, or the Japanese Mikado. But the mass, rank-and-file Kuban Cossacks understood that one does not play with fire – Wrangel’s landing met with no response. The Red troops cut the landing-force off from the shore of the Sea of Azov and captured its base – up to 50 truck-loads of arms, clothing and medical supplies. The landing-force has already been badly battered, and it is being invested ever more closely by the Red regiments. Whether it risks an advance towards Yekaterinodar or whether it decides to move into the Kuban hills, or into the Taman Peninsula, it will inevitably be destroyed. It is already essen-tially lost, because the Kuban has not risen. The Kuban has turned its back on the German baron. His sole place d’armes is still, as before, the Crimea.

But Wrangel’s failure in the Kuban must immediately weaken his position in the Crimea, too, for now even his supporters will realise that there is no way out.

The 13th Army and the 2nd Mounted Army must finish the job, putting an end to the German hireling of the French usurers, by means of a powerful blow from the North when he sticks his head out.

The Kuban did not rise to greet Wrangel. It is time to clear him out of the Crimea, too.

August 28,
1920 Rostov,
En Route, No.920


1. Towards the end of the 18th century German farmers were invited by the Tsarist Government to colonise some of the empty territory of ‘New Russia’, then recently conquered. There were at the time of the civil war numerous settlements in this area with German names, inhabited by descendants of the colonists.

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Last updated on: 26.12.2006