Leon Trotsky

Engels’s War Articles

Trotsky Reviews “The General’s” Military Work

(19 March 1924)

From The New International, Vol.X No.5 (Whole No.86), May 1944, pp.137-141.
Transcribed by Damon M.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Trotsky Internet Archive (TIA.

Friedrich Engels: Notes on the War
Sixty articles reprinted from the Pall Mall Gazette, 1870-71
Edited by Friedrich Adler, Vienna 1923

Friedrich Engels’ book is, for the most part, an analytical chronicle of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. It is composed of articles published in the English Pall Mall Gazette during the war events. This is enough to make it clear that the reader cannot count on finding in these articles a sort of monograph on war or any systematic presentation of the. theory of the art of war. No, Engels’ task consisted – proceeding from the general appraisal of the forces and means of the two adversaries and following from day to day the manner of employing these forces and means – in helping the reader orient himself in the course of the military operations and even in lifting the so-called veil of the future a little from time to time. Military articles of this kind fill at least two-thirds of the book. The remaining third consists of articles devoted to various special fields of the military profession again in closest connection with the course of the Franco-Prussian War: How to Fight the Prussians, The Rationale of the Prussian Army System, Saragossa-Paris, The Emperor’s Apologia, and so on.

It is clear that a book of this kind cannot be read and studied like the other, purely theoretical, works of Engels. To understand perfectly the ideas and evaluations of a concrete, factual kind contained in this book, all the operations of the Franco-Prussian War must be followed step by step on the map, and the viewpoints set forth in the latest war-historical literature taken into consideration. The average reader cannot of. course set himself the task of such a critical-scientific labor: it calls for military training, a great expenditure of time and special interest in the subject. But would such interest be justified? In our opinion. Yes. It is justified primarily from the standpoint of a correct evaluation of the military level and the military perspicacity of Friedrich Engels himself. A thorough examination of Engels’ extremely concise text, the comparison of his judgments and prognoses with the judgments and prognoses made at the same time by military writers of the time, could count on attracting great interest, and would not only be a valuable contribution to the biography of Engels – and his biography is an important chapter in the history of socialism – but also as an extremely apt illustration in the question of the reciprocal relations between Marxism and the military profession.

A Thoroughgoing Work

Of Marxism or dialectics, Engels says not a word in all these articles; which is not to be astonished at, for he was writing anonymously for an arch-bourgeois periodical and that at a time when the name of Marx was still little known. But not only these outward reasons prompted Engels to refrain from all general-theoretical considerations. We may be convinced that even if Engels had had the opportunity then to discuss the events of the war in a revolutionary-Marxian paper – with far greater freedom for expressing his political sympathies and antipathies – he would nevertheless hardly have approached the analysis and the estimation of the course of the war differently than he did in the Pall Mall Gazette. Engels injected no abstract doctrine into the domain of the science of war from without and did not set up any tactical recipes, newly-discovered by himself, as universal criteria.

Regardless of the conciseness of the presentation, we see nonetheless with what attentiveness the author deals with all the elements of the profession of war, from the territorial areas and the population figures of the countries involved down to the biographical researches into the past of General Trochu for the purpose of being better acquainted with his methods and habits. Behind these articles is sensed a vast preceding and continuing labor. Engels, who was not only a profound thinker, but also an excellent writer, dishes up no raw material for the reader. This may give the impression of cursoriness in some of his observations and generalizations. This is not really so. The critical elaboration he made of the empirical material is tremendously far-reaching. This may be perceived from the fact that the subsequent course of the events of the war repeatedly confirmed Engels’ prognoses. We need not doubt that a searching study of this work of Engels in the sense referred to by our young war theoreticians would show even more the great earnestness with which Engels treated the conduct of war as such.

Quantity and Quality in War

But even among those who merely read and do not study the book – and they will make up the overwhelming majority even among the military people – this work of Engels will arouse great interest, not because of its analytical presentation of the various military operations but because of the general appraisal of the course of the war and the judgments made in the specific military fields that are scattered through many passages of his war chronicle and in part, as already stated, are dealt with in entire articles.

The old idea of the Pythagoreans, that the world is ruled by numbers – in the realistic and not the mystical sense of the word – may be especially well applied to war. First of all – the number of battalions. Then the number of guns, the number of ordnance pieces are expressed quantitatively: through the range of the firearm, through its accuracy. The moral qualities of the soldiers are expressed in the capacity to endure long marches, to hold out for a long time under enemy fire, etc. However, the further we penetrate into this field, the more complicated the question becomes. The amount and character of the equipment depends upon the condition of the forces of production of the country. The composition of the army and the personnel of its command is conditioned by the social structure of society. The administrative supply apparatus depends upon the general-state apparatus, which is determined by the nature of the ruling class. The morale of the army depends upon the mutual relations of the classes, upon the ability of the ruling class to make the tasks of the war the subjective aims of the army. The degree of the ability and talent of the commanding personnel depends in turn upon the historical role of the ruling class, upon its ability to concentrate the best creative forces of the land upon their aims, and this ability depends again in turn upon whether the ruling class plays a progressive historical role or has outlived itself and is only fighting for its existence.

Here we have disclosed only the basic coordinates, and even these only schematically. In reality, the dependence of the various fields of war conduct upon each other, and of all of them taken together upon the various aspects of the social order, are much more complex and detailed. On the battlefield, this is all summed up in the last analysis in the number of ordinary soldiers, the commander, the dead and wounded, prisoners and deserters, in the size of the conquered territory and in the number of trophies. But how is the end-result to be foreseen? If it were possible exactly to register and determine in advance all the elements of a battle and a war, there would be no war altogether, for nobody would ever think of heading toward a defeat assured in advance. But we cannot talk of such an exact foreseeing of all the factors. Only the most immediate material elements of war may be expressed in numbers.

In so far, however, as it is a question of the dependence of the material elements of the army upon the economy of the country as a whole, any appraisal, and therefore also any foresight, will have a much more conditional value. This applies especially to the so-called moral factors: the political equilibrium in the country, the tenacity of the army, the attitude of the hinterland, the coordination of the work of the state apparatus, the talents of the commander, etc. Laplace says that an intellect that was in a position to take in at a glance all the processes developing in the universe would be able to foretell without error everything that would take place in the future. This undoubtedly follows from the principle of determinism: no phenomenon without a cause. But, as is known, there is no such intellect, neither individual nor collective. Therefore it is also possible for even the best informed and most gifted men to err very often in their foresight. But it is clear that the right foresight is most closely approached the better the elements of the process are known, the greater the ability to find their right place, to estimate them and combine them, the greater the scientific creative experience, the broader the horizon.

Infantry, Then and Now

In his military newspaper chronicle, so modest in the task it sets itself, Engels always remains himself: he brings to his work the sharp eye of a military analyst and synthesizer who has gone through the great social-theoretical school of Marx-Engels, the practical school of the Revolution of 1848, and the First International.

“Let us now compare the forces,” says Engels, “that are being got ready for mutual destruction; and to simplify matters, we will take the infantry only. The infantry is the arm which decides battles; any trifling balance of strength in cavalry and artillery, including mitrailleurs and other miracle-working engines, will not count for much on either side.” (Notes on the War, Note I, page 1.)

What was right, by and large, for France and Germany in 1870, would undoubtedly no longer hold for our time. It is now impossible to determine the relationship of military forces only by the number of battalions. It is true that the infantry remains even today the main factor in battle. But the role of the technical coefficients in the infantry has grown extraordinarily, although in very unequal measure in the different armies: we have in mind not only the machine guns which were still “miracle-working” in 1870; not only the artillery, which has increased in number and importance; but also perfectly new auxiliaries: the motor truck for war as well as for transportation purposes, aviation, and war chemistry. Any statistics that do not take these “coefficients” into consideration and deal only with the number of battalions, would now be completely unreal.

On the basis of his calculations, Engels reaches the conclusion: Germany has a far greater number of trained soldiers at its disposal than France, and the superiority of the Germans will manifest itself increasingly with time – unless Louis Napoleon forestalls the enemy at the very outset and strikes him decisive blows before he can bring his potential superiority into play.

Therewith Engels gets to strategy, to that independent do-main of the highest war art which is, however, connected by means of a complicated system of levers and transmissions with politics, economics, culture and administration. With regard to strategy, Engels deems it necessary to make the in-escapable realistic restrictions right at the outset:

“In the meantime it is well to remembers that these strategic plans can never be relied upon for the full effect of what is expected from them. There always occurs a hitch here and a hitch there; corps do not arrive at the exact moment when they are wanted; the enemy makes unexpected moves, or has taken unexpected precautions; and finally, hard, stubborn fighting, or the good sense of a general, often extricates the defeated army from the worst consequences a defeat can have – the loss of communication with its base.” (Ibid., Note III, page 6.)

This is indubitably correct. Only the late Pfuel or one of his belated admirers could raise objection to such a realistic conception of strategy: to take into account what is most important in the whole war plan and to do it with the greatest completeness permitted by circumstances; consideration for those elements which cannot be determined in advance; formulation of orders in such a flexible way as to make them adaptable to the actual situation and its unforeseen variants; and the main thing: timely recording of every essential change in the situation and corresponding alterations of the plan or even its complete rearrangement – this is precisely what the true art of the conduct of war consists of. If the strategical plan could be invested with an exhaustive character, if the state of the weather, of the soldier’s stomach and legs, and the intentions of the adversary could be accounted for in advance, then any robot who has mastered the four first rules of arithmetic could be a victorious field commander. Luckily or unluckily, it cannot be done. The war plan has in no wise an absolute character, and the existence of the best plan, as Engels rightly points out, far from guarantees the victory. On the other had, any lack of plan makes defeat inevitable. Any commander who is half-way serious knows the orienting, if not absolute, value of a plan. But the commander who would reject a plan for this reason, would either be shot or locked in a madhouse.

Politics in the Army

How did matters stand with the strategical plan of Napoleon III? We already know that Germany’s vast potential superiority lay in the numerical preponderance of trained human material. As Engels emphasizes, Bonaparte’s task consisted in making the employment of this superiority impossible by means of rapid, resolute attacks upon the enemy. One would think that the Napoleonic tradition would have favored precisely such a procedure. But the realization of such audacious war plans, disregarding everything else, depends also upon the exact work of the commissariat, and the whole regime of the Second Empire, with its unbridled and incompetent bureaucracy, was in no wise fit to assure the provisioning and equipping of the troops. Hence the friction and loss of time right at the beginning of the war, the general helplessness, the impossibility of carrying out any plan, and as a result of all this – the collapse.

In some passages, Engels mentions fleetingly the harmful effect that the penetration of “politics” can have in the course of war operations. This observation of his seems at first blush to be in conflict with the conception that war, by and large, is nothing but a continuation of politics. In reality, there is no contradiction here. The war continues politics, but with special means and methods. When politics is compelled, for the solution of its fundamental tasks, to resort to the aid of war, this politics must not hamper the course of the war operations for the sake of its subordinated tasks. When Bonaparte took actions which were obviously inexpedient from the military standpoint in order, as Engels opines, to influence “public opinion” favorably with ephemeral successes, this was undoubtedly to be regarded as an inadmissable invasion of politics into the conduct of the war which made it impossible for the latter to accomplish the fundamental tasks set by politics.

To the degree that Bonaparte was forced, in the struggle to preserve his regime, to permit such an invasion of politics, an obvious self-condemnation of the regime was revealed which made the early collapse inevitable.

When the vanquished land, following the complete defeat and capture of its armed forces, attempted under Gambetta’s leadership to establish a new army, Engels followed these labors with astonishing understanding of the essence of military organization. He characterized splendidly the young, undisciplined troops who had been assembled by improvization. Such troops, he says, “are but too ready to cry ‘trahison’ unless they are at once led against the enemy, and to run away when they are made seriously to feel that enemy’s presence.” (Ibid., pages 88f.) It is impossible not to think here of our own first troop detachments and regiments in 1917-18!

Popular Armed Forces

Engels has an excellent knowledge of where, given all the other necessary preconditions, the main difficulties lie in transforming a human mass into a company or a battalion. “Whoever,” says he, “has seen popular levies on the drill-ground or under fire – be they Baden Freischaaren, Bull-Run Yankees, French Mobiles, or British Volunteers – will have perceived at once that the chief cause of the helplessness and unsteadiness of these troops lies in the fact of the officers not knowing their duty.” (Ibid., page 79.)

It is most instructive to see how attentively Engels treats the home guards of an army. How far removed this great revolutionist is from all the pseudo-revolutionary chatter which was very popular in France right at that time – on the saving power of a mass mobilization (levée en masse), an armed nation (armed in a trice), etc. Engels knows very well the great importance officers and non-commissioned officers have in a battalion. He makes exact calculations on what resources in officers have remained to the republic following the defeat of the regular forces of the Empire. He gives the greatest attention to the development of those features in the new, so-called Loire army which distinguish it from armed human mass. Thus, for example, he records with satisfaction that the new army not only intends to proceed unitedly and to obey orders, but also that it “has learned again one very important thing which Louis Napoleon’s army had quite forgotten – light infantry duty, the art of protecting flanks and rear from surprise, of feeling for the enemy, surprising his detachments, procuring information and prisoners.” (Ibid., page 96.)

This is how Engels is everywhere in his “newspaper” articles: bold in his grasp of affairs, realistic in method, perspicacious in big things and little, and always scrupulous in the manipulation of materials. He counts the number of drawn and smooth-bore gun barrels of the French, repeatedly checks on the German artillery, thinks of the qualities of the Prussian cavalry horse, and never forgets the qualities of the Prussian non-commissioned officer. Faced in the course of events by the problem of the siege and defense of Paris, he investigates the quality of its fortifications, the strength of the artillery of the Germans and the French, and take up very critically the question of whether there are regular troops behind the walls of Paris that may be called effective for battle. What a pity we did not have this work of Engels in 1918! It would surely have helped us overcome more speedily and easily the then widely disseminated prejudice with which it was sought to counterpose “revolutionary enthusiasm” and the “proletarian spirit” to a professional organization, flawless discipline and trained command.

Engels’ Method

The military-critical method of Engels is very clearly expressed, for example, in his thirteenth letter, which deals with the rumor launched from Berlin about “a decisive advance upon Paris.” The article on the fortified camp of Paris (Letter Sixteen) met with Marx’s enthusiastic applause. A good example of Engels’s treatment of military problems is offered by the twenty-fourth letter, which deals with the siege of Paris. Engels sets forth two fundamental factors in advance: “The first is that Paris cannot hope to be relieved, in useful time, by any French army from without ... The second point settled is that the garrison of Paris is unfit to act on the offensive on a large scale.” (Ibid., page 71.) All the other elements of his analysis rest upon these two points. Very interesting are two judgments on the franc-tireur war and the possibilities of employing it, a question which will not lose its importance for us even in the future. Engels’ tone gains in confidence with every letter. This confidence is justified inasmuch as it has been confirmed by a twofold test: on one side, by comparison with what the “genuine” military people have written on the same questions, and on the other, by a more effective test – the events themselves.

Relentlessly ruling out of his analysis every abstraction, regarding war as a material chain of operation?, considering every operation from the standpoint of the actually existing forces, means and the possibility of employing them, this great revolutionist acts as … a war specialist, that is, as a person who by mere virtue of his profession or his vocation proceeds from the internal factors of the conduct of war. It is not astonishing that Engels’ articles were attributed to renowned military men of the time, which led to Engels’ being nicknamed the “General” among his circle of friends. Yes, he handled military questions like a “general,” perhaps not without substantial defects in specific military domains and without the necessary practical experience, but, in exchange, with a talented head such as not every general has on his shoulders.

But, it might be asked, where, after all this, is Marxism? To this may be replied that it is precisely here – up to a certain degree – that it is expressed. One of the fundamental philosophical premises of Marxism says that the truth is always concrete. This means that the profession of war and its problems cannot be dissolved into social and political categories. War is war, and the Marxist who wants to judge it must bear in mind that the truth of war is also concrete. And this is what Engels’ book teaches primarily. But not this alone.

If military problems may not be dissolved into general political problems, it is likewise impermissible to separate the latter from the former. As we have already mentioned, war is a continuation of politics by special means. This profoundly dialectical thought was formulated by Clausewitz. War is a continuation of politics: whoever wishes to understand the “continuation” must get clear on what preceded it. But continuation – “by other means” – signifies: it is not enough to be well oriented politically in order to be able therewith also to estimate correctly the “other means” of war. The greatest and incomparable merit of Engels consisted in the fact that while he had a profound grasp of the independent character of war – with its own inner technique, structure, its methods, traditions and prejudices – he was at the same time a great expert in politics, to which war is in the last analysis subordinated.

It need not be said that this tremendous superiority could not guarantee Engels against mistakes in his concrete military judgments and prognoses. During the Civil War in the United States, Engels overrated the purely military superiority that the Southerners displayed in the first period and was therefore inclined to believe in their victory. During the German-Austrian War in 1866, shortly before the decisive battle at Königgrätz, which laid the foundation stone for the predominance of Prussia, Engels counted on a mutiny in the Prussian Landwehr. In the chronicle of the Franco-Prussian War, too, a number of mistakes in isolated matters can undoubtedly be found, even though the general prognosis of Engels in this case was incomparably more correct than in the two examples adduced. Only very naive persons can think that the greatness of a Marx, Engels or Lenin consists in the automatic infallibility of all their judgments. No, they too made mistakes. But in judging the greatest and most complicated questions they used to make fewer mistakes than all the others. And therein is shown the greatness of their thinking. And also in the fact that their mistakes, when the reasons for them are seriously examined, often proved to be deeper and more instructive than the correct judgment of those who, accidentally or not, were right as against them in this or that case.

Class Tactics and Strategy

Abstractions of all kinds, such as that every class must have specific tactics and strategy peculiar to itself, naturally find no support in Engels. He knows all too well that the foundation of all foundations of a military organization and a war is determined by the level of the development of the productive forces and not by the naked class will. To be sure, it may be said that the feudal epoch had its own tactics and even a number of coordinated tactics, that the bourgeois epoch, in turn, has known not one but several tactics, and that socialism will surely lead to the elaboration of new war tactics if it is forced into the position of having to coexist with capitalism for a long time. Stated in this general form it is correct, in the degree that the level of the productive forces of capitalist society is higher than that of feudal, and in the socialist society it will with time be still higher. But nothing further than this. For it in no wise follows that the proletariat which has attained power and disposes of only a very low level of production, can immediately form new tactics which – in principle – can only flow from the enhanced development of the productive forces of the future socialist society.

In the past we have very often compared economic processes and phenomena with military. Now it will perhaps not be without value to counterpose some military questions to the economic, for in the latter domain we have already garnered a fairly considerable experience. The most important part of industry is working with us under conditions of socialist economy, by virtue of the fact that it is the property of the workers’ state and produces on its account and under its direction. By virtue of this circumstance, the social-juridical structure of our industry is incisively distinguished from the capitalistic. This finds its expression in the system of ad-ministration of industry, in the election of the directing personnel, in the relationship between the factory management and the workers, etc. But how do matters stand with the process of production itself? Have we perhaps created our own socialist methods of production, which are counterposed to the capitalistic? We are still a long distance from that. The methods of production depend upon the material technique and the cultural and productive level of the workers. Given the worn-out installations and inadequate utilization of our plant, the production process now stands on an incomparably lower level than before the war. In this field we have not only created nothing new, but we can only hope after a number of years to acquire those methods and means of production which are at present introduced into the advanced capitalist countries and which assure them thereby of a far higher productivity of labor. If, however, this is how matters stand in the field of economy, how can it be otherwise in principle in the military field? Tactics depend upon the existing war technique and the military and cultural level of the soldiers.

To be sure, the political and social-juridical structure of our army is basically different from the bourgeois armies. This is expressed in the selection of the commanding personnel, in the relationship between it and the soldier-mass, and primarily in the political aims that inspire our army. But in no wise does it follow from this that now, on the basis of our low technical and cultural level, we are already able to create tactics, new in principle and more perfected, than those which the most civilized beasts of prey of the West have attained. The first steps of the proletariat which has conquered power – and these first steps are measured in years-must not – as the same Engels taught – be confused with the socialist society, which stands on a higher stage of development. In accordance with the growth of the productive forces on the basis of socialist property, our production process itself will also necessarily assume a different character than under capitalism. In order to change the character of production qualitatively, we need no more revolutions, no shakeups in property, etc.: we need only a development of the productive forces on the foundation already created. The same applies also to the army. In the Soviet state, on the basis of a working community between workers and peasants, under the direction of the advanced workers, we shall undoubtedly create new tactics. But when? When our productive forces out-strip the capitalistic, or at least approximate them.

It is understood that in case of military conflicts with capitalist states, we have an advantage, a very small one but an advantage nonetheless, that may cost our possible enemies their heads. This advantage consists in the fact that we have no antagonism between the ruling class and the one from which the mass of the soldiers is composed. We are a workers’ and peasants’ state and at the same time a workers’ and peasants’ army. But that is no military superiority but a political one. It would be extremely unwarranted to draw conclusions from this political advantage that would lead to military arrogance and self-overestimation. On the contrary, the better we recognize our backwardness, the more we refrain from braggadocio, the faster we learn the technique and tactics of the advanced capitalist armies, the more warranted will be our hope that in the event of a military conflict we shall drive a sharp wedge, not only of a military but also of a revolutionary kind, right between the bourgeoisie and the soldier-mass of its armies.

Engels’ “Nationalism”

I am not certain whether it is appropriate here to mention the famous discovery of the no less famous Chernov [1] on the “nationalism” of Marx and Engels. The book before us gives a clear answer to this question too, which does not alter our former judgment, but, on the contrary, strengthens it in the most striking way. The interests of the revolution were, for Engels, the highest criterion. He defended the national interests of Germany against the Empire of Bonaparte, because the interests of the unification of the German nation under the concrete historical relations of the time signifies a progressive, potentially revolutionary force. We are guided by the same method when we now support the national interests of the colonial peoples against imperialism. This position of Engels found its expression, and a very restrained one, in the articles of the first period of the war. How could it have been otherwise: It was after all impossible for Engels, just to please Napoleon and Chernov, to evaluate the Franco-Prussian War in opposition to its historical meaning only because he was himself a German. But the minute the progressive historical task of the war was achieved, the national unification of Germany assured, and besides this, the Second Empire overturned – Engels radically changed his “sympathies” – if we may express his political tendency by this sentimental term. Why did he do this? Because it was now a question, beyond what was achieved, of assuring the predominance of the Prussian Junker in Germany and of Prussianized Germany in Europe. Under these conditions, the defense of dismembered France became a revolutionary factor or it might have become one. Engels stands here entirely on the side of the French struggle of defense. But just as in the first half of the war, he does not permit his “sympathies” – or at least endeavors not to permit them – to gain influence over the objective evaluation of the war situation. In both periods of the war, he proceeds from a consideration of the material and moral war factors and seeks a firm objective basis for his prognosis.

It will not be superfluous to point out, at least cursorily, how the “patriot” and “nationalist” Engels, in his article on the fortification and defense of the French capital, sympathetically considered the possibility of an English, Italian, Austrian and Scandinavian intervention in favor of France. His arguments in the columns of an English paper are nothing but an attempt to promote the intervention of a foreign power in the war against the dear Hohenzollern fatherland. This certainly weighs much heavier than even a sealed railway car! [2]

Engels’ interest in military questions had not a national but a purely revolutionary source. Emerging from the events of 1848 as a mature revolutionist who had the Communist Manifesto and revolutionary struggles behind him, Engels regarded the question of the conquest of power by the proletariat as a purely practical question, whose solution depended not least of all upon war problems. In the national movements and war events of 1859, 1864, 1866, 1870-71, Engels sought for the direct levers for a revolutionary action. He investigates every new war, discloses its possible connection with revolution, and seeks for ways of assuring the future revolution by the power of arms. Herein lies the explanation for the lively and active, by no means academic and not merely agitational treatment of army and war problems that we find in Engels. With Marx, the position in principle was the same. But Marx did not occupy himself specifically with military questions, relying entirely on his “second fiddle” in such matters.

In the epoch of the Second International, this revolutionary interest in war questions, as, moreover, in many other questions, was almost completely lost. But opportunism was perhaps most plainly expressed in the superficial and disdainful attitude toward militarism as a barbaric institution unworthy of enlightened social-democratic attention. The imperialist war of 1914-18 recalled to mind again – and with what implacable inconsiderateness! – that militarism is not at all merely an object for stereotyped agitation and speeches in Parliament. The war took the socialist parties by surprise and converted their formally oppositional attitude toward militarism into humble genuflections. It was the October Revolution that was first called upon not only to restore the active-revolutionary attitude toward war questions, but also to turn the spearhead of militarism practically against the ruling classes. The world revolution will carry this work to the end.


1. Chernov was the outstanding leader of the Social-Revolutionary Party of Russia, a petty bourgeois, non-Marxian organization. – Trans.

2. An allusion to the sealed railway car in which Lenin, together with other Bolshevik and Menshevik leaders, travelled through Germany, by arrangement with the Hohenzollern government in 1917, in order to reach revolutionary Russia. The “sealed car” episode was used by Russian reactionaries, and even some “socialists,” as the basis for a slander campaign against Lenin as a “German agent.” – Trans.

return return return return return

Last updated on: 25.6.2008