The Red Army on a Peace Footing

Speeches, Articles, Reports

Tula is Still the Great Smithy
of the Red Army

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

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When Denikin was pressing towards Tula, we did everything we could to defend it, and we saved it. Other towns we temporarily surrendered to the enemy, to recover them later. But we did not dare to give up Tula even for one hour – because on the anvils of Tula the weapons of the workers’ and peasants’ army are forged.

Since those terrible days in September 1919, many weeks and months have passed which have seen very serious struggles, very great sufferings and sacrifices, but also glorious victories. Armed with Tula-made rifles and Tula-made bayonets, with Tula-made cartridges in their cartridge-belts, the workers and peasants defeated the enemy on all fronts. Now, towards the end of 1921, we have no fighting fronts. We are directing our thoughts, our will-power, our strength, towards the economy. And the workers in the Tula factories are already experiencing an improvement in their lot as workers. The food situation has got better. Things must get better in other directions as well. And they will get better, if we want them to – as we all do.

But does that mean that the rifle and the cartridge, the machine-gun and the revolver, are no longer needed by the workers’ and peasants’ republic?

No, it does not. Though our enemies have become quieter, they have in no sense become reconciled to us. The republic of labour, with no Tsar and, what matters most, with no landlords and capitalists, remains for them, as before, a mortal danger. Except in Russia, power is still, throughout the world, in the hands of the rich classes, the exploiters. And until the working people have wrested that power from them, Soviet Russia will continue to be threatened by new onslaughts.

In neighbouring Poland, two bourgeois parties are fighting each other fiercely: one of them wants to trade with us, the other wants to fight us. We purchased peace with Poland at the price of immense concessions. Many Russian workers and peasants said to themselves that the peace concluded with Poland was unjust, that Poland had received too much. But all agreed, at the same time, that it was preferable to go even so far as making those concessions than to bleed and ravage our country further by prolonging the war. Yet even this peace, extremely advantageous to the Polish bourgeoisie, does not satisfy it. Urged on by the French stock-exchange speculators, part of the Polish bourgeoisie, especially the military section, is striving with all its might to draw us into a new war. We are doing everything necessary to maintain peaceful relations. But the matter does not depend on our will alone, but on who comes out on top in Poland: the party which supports peace, or Pilsudski, who is trying to bring about war at any cost.

Which of these two Polish bourgeois parties will win? It is not possible to foresee and forecast the answer to that. If we are weak, the warmongers will win in Poland: if we are strong, the most cautious and prudent of the bourgeois parties will gain ascendancy. When, at the beginning of the autumn, there was a serious harvest-failure in the Volga region, the bourgeoisie, almost throughout the world, began to look forward to the fall of the Soviet power. In Poland the party of Pilsudski at once grew stronger and peace between Russia and Poland hung literally by a thread. When, however, it became clear that the Soviet Government was coping with the famine, that it was firmly-based and was leading the country on to the road of economic advance, the Polish bourgeoisie started to beat retreat, and the peace party again became dominant. However, Pilsudski has not given up. Even now he is still throwing on to our territory the bands of his hireling Petlyura. This is, of course, a violation of the treaty, and nothing less than a dishonourable provocation. But we are not picking up this challenge. We want peace. And we count confidently on the working people of Poland to put a strait-jacket on the violators of peace.

At the same time we must firmly grasp our rifle, and to do that we need to have a rifle, that is, we need to make one. If the stock of rifles and cartridges in our magazines were to dry up, Pilsudski would at once fall upon us, and the entire Polish bourgeoisie, tempted by the prospect of easy victory, would undoubtedly back him. If, however, our magazines are full of rifles and cartridges, the Polish bourgeoisie will think ten times over before allowing Pilsudski to attack us. We have several times the number of trained men that Poland has. We have many trustworthy, steeled commanders. Consequently, given adequate reserves of weapons, we can at once put a huge army in the field. An attack on us would, in that case, prove fatal to the attacker. So long as we are surrounded by foes, we must be ready to rebuff them, and that means that the red smithy of Tula must work with might and main.

In the years since the revolution, the arms-makers and cartridge-makers of Tula have known not a few dark hours. They have had to undergo grave hardships. Sometimes agents of the bourgeoisie, Mensheviks, have exploited these difficulties in order to create discord among the workers and disrupt production. But all that is past, and we are all sure that it will not return. Economic development is now on the upgrade: it moves slowly and-heavily, but upwards nevertheless. The situation of the working people must improve step by step along with this process. The Soviet Republic must show care for its Tula armaments workers, just as the latter must firmly and honestly serve the needs of the workers’ and peasants’ republic.

This winter will be a winter of intense, stubborn and systematic labour. Tula is still the smithy of the Red Army.

November 18, 1921
Pravda, No.263

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Last updated on: 28.12.2006