Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History, Vol. 5 No. 3


Poland and the Red Army

Dear Editor

I would like to compliment your board for the quality of the material published in the recent issue devoted to Germany 1918–23. The debunking of legends dispelled by the epigones of Bolshevism can do nothing but good for the revolutionary cause. To paraphrase Trotsky, it is our duty to say what was. Let us hope that you find the resources – not to speak of the courage – to devote an issue to a no less searching re-examination of the event that has generated the most enduring and most pernicious of all revolutionary events, namely the Bolshevik seizure of power in November 1917.

Now can I offer a comment on an item in your current issue? In the Reader’s Notes, your entry on The Times of 24 August 1993 makes reference to what you describe as its ‘scare stories’ concerning the possible fate of Poland had the Red Army won the battle of the Vistula in August 1920. I hope that not only myself, but all your readers, have found this remark not only somewhat frivolous, but also offensive to the memory of those millions of Poles who, over the ages, have defended the independence and freedom of their country against, amongst various imperialisms, that of Russia, Bolshevik no less than Tsarist. To appreciate just how well founded these ‘scare stories’ could have proved to be, it is not necessary to refer to atrocities unleashed upon the Polish people by Stalin during and after the period of his collaboration with Hitler. After all, it can be said with some justice that these crimes were Stalin’s work, and not the responsibility of Lenin, or for that matter, of Dzerzhinsky, Marchlewski or Kun. For this reason I refer your readers to a document penned by Lenin himself. True, it is not to be found in his Collected Works, and it is not hard to see why. However, in the second volume of The Trotsky Papers (The Hague 1971), there is published, both in the original Russian and in English translation, a note penned by Lenin in August 1920 proposing what he describes as a ‘beautiful plan’ to offer, and I quote, a ‘bounty of 100,000 rubles’ for the hanging of Polish ‘kulaks, priests and landowners’. Those interested in this and other related matters (such as Trotsky’s collaboration with the Reichswehr High Command in a plan of 1920 vintage to repartition Poland) are invited to read the article published in the Autumn 1982 issue of Survey, entitled Early Soviet Designs on Poland, by Adam Westoby and myself.

Best wishes, and keep up the good work

Robin Blick

The Editor replies:

Was interwar Poland an example of ‘freedom’? Robin Blick doesn’t seem to realise how far to the right his campaign against Leninism has taken him.

Paul Flewers adds:

The reference to Kun in the last issue’s Reader’s Notes was an error on my part. The leadership of the proposed Soviet government of Poland was to have been Feliks Dzerzhinsky, Julian Marchlewski and Feliks Kon.

Updated by ETOL: 25.9.2011