J. V. Stalin

Who Really is Responsible for the Defeat
at the Front ?


Source : Works, Vol. 3, March - October, 1917
Publisher : Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954
Transcription/Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, 2008
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2008). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit "Marxists Internet Archive" as your source.

Additional evidence for a reply to this question will now be forthcoming every day. And every day will reveal more clearly how vile, how execrable was the conduct of those who tried to throw the blame for the July defeat at the front on the Bolsheviks.

Izvestia, the official organ of the Soviets, printed in its issue No. 147 an article entitled "The Truth About the Mlynov Regiment." This is a document of first-rate political importance.

On July 7, amid the turmoil of events in Petrograd, there appeared in the press, to everybody's surprise, a telegram from General Headquarters stating that the 607th Mlynov Regiment had "left the trenches without orders," that this had enabled the Germans to penetrate into our territory, and that the misfortune "is largely to be attributed to the influence of Bolshevik agitation. . . ." Accusation after accusation was hurled at the Bolsheviks, who were being slandered enough as it was. Hatred for the Bolsheviks knew no bounds. The entire "patriotic" press poured fresh fuel on the flames day by day. Every day slander blossomed more luxuriantly.

That was only very recently.

But what do we learn now?

It appears that the first and basic communication from General Headquarters, which served as the signal for the whole slander campaign, was utterly false. The Regimental Committee of the 607th Mlynov Regiment has now addressed a statement to the slanderers, which says:

"Were you present at the action of July 6 ?

"Do you know that the regiment, consisting of 798 men and 54 officers, defended a line of two and a half versts? Do you know that only twelve officers and 114 men came out of the battle alive, the rest having fallen in defence of their country (losses— 75 per cent)?

"Do you know that the 607th regiment held its position for seven hours under hurricane fire of diabolical intensity, and, notwithstanding orders to retire at 8:30 to the support bases, stood fast until 11 a.m. (from 3:30 a.m.)?

"And do you know what sort of trenches we were in, and what technical means of defence we had at our disposal?. . ."

But that is not all. Izvestia publishes the documents of an official inquiry, signed by Major-Generals Goshtoft and Gavrilov, acting chief of staff Kolesnikov and others, in which we read:

"The results of the inquiry show that . . . the 607th Mlynov Infantry Regiment and the Sixth Grenadier Division in general cannot be accused of treason, treachery or of having abandoned their positions without orders. On July 6 the division fought and died. . . . The division was wiped out by the fire of more than 200 enemy guns, itself having only 16."

And — not a word about pernicious Bolshevik agitation.

Such are the facts.

And even Izvestia, a newspaper ready to use any stick to beat the Bolsheviks with, writes in this connection:

"Of course, it is not the revolutionary structure of the army that is responsible for the defeat. But the calumny to which it is subjected made it possible to lay the whole blame for the defeat on Bolshevik propaganda and on the Committees which connived at it."

So that's it, gentlemen of Izvestia! But, forgive us for asking, did you not do the same thing yourselves? Did you not follow the example of the Black Hundred scoundrels in publishing revolting calumnies and despicable denunciations of the Bolsheviks? Did you not cry: Crucify the Bolsheviks, crucify them, they are to blame for everything! . . .

But listen further:

"And this calumny (fabricated at General Headquarters) is not a chance incident, it is part of a regular system!" — continues the official Izvestia. "Official communications from General Headquarters also charged the Guards Corps with treachery. . . . And we have seen how incompetent counter-revolutionary generals tried to lay the blame for their incompetence, which cost thousands of lives, on the army organizations. . . . That is what happened on a small scale at Stokhod, and that is what is being repeated on a huge scale now. . . . It was by sending such slanderous reports that counter-revolutionary field staffs were able to demand the disbandment of regiments and the abolition of Committees. It was with the aid of such calumny that they were able to shoot hundreds of men and to fill the emptied prisons again. By destroying the army's revolutionary organizations, they could again make it their tool and wield it against the revolution."

So that is what we have come to! Even our most rabid opponent, Izvestia, is compelled to admit that with the aid of calumny the counter-revolutionary generals have filled the emptied prisons again. And whom have they filled them with, sirs? With Bolsheviks, internationalists! And you of Izvestia, what were you doing, sirs, when the prisons were being filled with our comrades? You were shouting together with the counter-revolutionary generals : "At 'em, at 'em!" Together with the worst enemies of the revolution you were crucifying old revolutionaries who had sealed their loyalty to the revolution with decades of self-sacrificing struggle, Together with the Kaledins, Alexinskys, Rarinskys, Pereverzevs, Milyukovs and Burtsevs you were jailing Bolsheviks and were allowing the lie to be spread that the "Bolsheviks were in receipt of German gold"! . . . Izvestia, in its fit of candour, goes on to say:

"Of course, they (the counter-revolutionary generals) knew that the false reports that regiment after regiment was abandoning its positions had given rise to uncertainty among all units as to whether they would be supported by their neighbours and the rear, whether their neighbours had not already retreated, and whether they would not simply fall into the hands of the enemy if they stuck to their positions.

"They knew all this — but their hatred of the revolution blinded them.

"And then, naturally, the regiments did abandon their positions, they heeded those who advised them to do so, they discussed at meetings whether to carry out orders or not. The panic spread. The army was transformed into a fear-crazed herd. . . . And then the reprisals started. The soldiers knew where they were to blame and where their commanders were to blame. And daily, in hundreds of letters, they are protesting : We were betrayed under the tsar, we have been betrayed now, and it is we who are being punished for it!" (Izvestia, No. 147.)

Does Izvestia realize what it has admitted in these words? Does it realize that these words are a complete vindication of the tactics of the Bolsheviks and an utter condemnation of the Socialist-Revolutionaries' and Mensheviks' entire position?

Yes, indeed. Have not you yourselves admitted that the soldiers are being betrayed as they were under the tsar, have not you yourselves admitted that despicable reprisals are being wreaked on the soldiers? Yet you approve of the reprisals (you voted for the death penalty), you give them your benediction, you assist them! With what name do people who act like this deserve to be branded?

Yes, indeed. Have not you yourselves admitted that the generals upon whom the lives of hundreds of thousands of soldiers depend are guided in their actions by hatred of the revolution? Yet you place millions of soldiers at the mercy of these generals, you give the offensive your benediction, you fraternize with these generals at the Moscow Conference!

But by doing so you sign your own death warrant, sirs! Where is the limit to your degradation?

We have heard the evidence of the Izvestia gentry, and we ask: If, as Izvestia says, General Headquarters slandered the Mlynov Regiment, if it played a dirty game at Stokhod, if it is guided not by considerations of national defence, but by considerations of the struggle against the revolution—if all this is true, what guarantee have we that the present information about the events on the Rumanian Front is not distorted also? What guarantee have we that the reactionaries are not deliberately and premeditatedly arranging defeat after defeat at the front?


Who Is Responsible for the Defeat at the Front? Pamphlet Issued by Priboy Publishers, Petrograd, 1917