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John G. Wright

How Stalin Greeted
Red Army’s 24th Anniversary

(28 February 1942)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 9, 28 February 1942, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In the order of the day issued on the twenty-fourth anniversary of the Red Army, Stalin did not dare tell the world what the Red Army really is and what it is really fighting for. The Red Army was born under the banner of international solidarity and the struggle for socialism.

On Jan. 12, 1918 the Council of People’s Commissars issued a decree concerning the “formation of the socialist army” and defined its purpose as follows:

“The old army functioned as an instrument for the oppression of the workers by the bourgeoisie. With the transfer of state authority to the workers and the exploited classes there arises a need for a new army to serve as a bulwark for the Soviet regime a the present time ... and as a basis for the socialist revolution in Europe.”

This decree was not put into effect until Feb. 23, 1918 when the first formations of the Red Army were organized, and this date has been officially set as the birthday of the Red Army of Workers and Peasants.

Trotsky Was Organizer of the Red Army

Stalin was a member of the Council of People’s Commissars and he voted for this decree just as he voted at the time for the appointment of Leon Trotsky as Commissar of War to be entrusted with the task of organizing and leading the armed forces of the October revolution.

Under Lenin and Trotsky, and for many years even under Stalin, the Red Army remained under the banner of socialism. Every Red Soldier took an oath to serve not merely the Soviet Union but the proletariat of the whole world. Part of this famous “socialist oath” reads as follows:

“I pledge myself to respond to the first call of the Government of Workers and Peasants by placing myself at its disposal for the defense of the Republic of Workers and Peasants against any attack and threat from any enemy, and to spare neither my strength nor my life in the battle for the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics and for the cause of socialism and the fraternization of all races.”

Stalin not only voted for this military oath drafted by Trotsky but swore himself to fulfill it:

“May the scorn of all be my lot and may the hard hand of the revolutionary law punish me, if ever with evil intent I break this my solemn oath.”

After Lenin’s death. Stalin betrayed the cause of socialism. Me beheaded the Red Army, he murdered the whole generation of Lenin’s closest «collaborators. He abrogated the socialist oath of the Red Army.

Permeated by the spirit of internationalism, the Red Army marched to victory in the Civil War of 1918–1920. Its revolutionary .propaganda disintegrated the ranks of the .armies «mustered against the Soviet Republic by the imperialists, at. whose head stood-at the time none other than Winston Churchill – the then British Minister for War.

Why was the Red Army able to defeat its enemies who possessed vastly superior resources?

On December 6, 1919, Lenin said to the Seventh Congress of the Soviets:

“What is the miracle which enabled the Soviets to carry,on two years of obstinate warfare, first against German imperialism then deemed omnipotent, and later against Entente imperialism, and this despite our backwardness, poverty and war-weariness? We deprived the Entente of the soldiers ... We vanquished their numerical and technical superiority by virtue of the solidarity shown by workers against imperialist governments.”

Stalin has deprived the Soviet workers and peasants of this insuperable weapon of struggle. In his order of the day he admits that his leadership is incapable of depriving Hitler of his soldiers.

“In recent operations the German garrisons of Klin, Sukhinichi, Andreapol and Toropets were summoned to surrender. Life was promised them; they refused ...” (New York Times, Feb. 23, 1942)

Instead of extending to the German workers the hand of international solidarity and summoning them to a joint struggle for socialism like Lenin and the Bolsheviks did, Stalin talks to them in the same treacherous language that the French and English “socialist” leaders used during the first world war – and then is surprised that the German soldiers refuse to surrender, i.e., prefer to fight under Hitler rather than accept a new Treaty of Versailles.

Evades the Issue

In his Nov. 1941 speech Stalin predicted that Hitler’s regime would shortly be overthrown. In his order of the day in Feb. 1942 he evades the issue of Hitler’s overthrow. Only a socialist revolution is possible today in Germany. The German workers and soldiers will begin seriously to think about overthrowing Hitler only when they see the same perspectives that were opened to them by the Russian Revolution and the Bolsheviks in the last war.

At that time, when the German armies of occupation streamed homewards in 1919 to participate under the influence of Bolshevik propaganda in the November revolution in Germany and Austro-Hungary, Lenin wrote:

“The Russian proletariat will understand that the time is close at hand when it must make its greatest sacrifices on behalf of internationalism. The day is approaching when circumstances will require us to give assistance to the German nation that has freed itself from its own imperialism – to give them assistance against Anglo-French imperialism. Therefore, let us begin our preparations without delay. Let us show that the workers of Russia can work all the more energetically, fight with greater self-sacrifice, and give their lives more readily when a revolution is at stake that is not merely a Russian affair but an affair Of the international workers of the world.”

But Stalin cannot speak this language. The Kremlin is committed to a different program. It fraternizes with Churchill who now sends ecstatic greetings to the Red Army because he hopes to utilize it to safeguard the interests of the British empire.

The German masses, the masses of the oppressed throughout Europe and the world will rally to no summons other than that of Lenin. The Russian workers and peasants who are fighting heroically to defend the conquests of, the October revolution cannot march to victory under any banner other than the true banner of the Red Army.


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