The Southern Front

Izvestia Interview

First Published: Izvestia, No. 205, September 21, 1918
Source: J. V. Stalin, Works, Volume 4, pages 133 - 135. Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1953
Transcription: Hari Kumar for Alliance-ML
HTML: Mike B. for MIA, 2005

Before returning to the Southern Front, People's Commissar for the Affairs of Nationalities Comrade Stalin gave our correspondent his impressions of the situation on the Tsaritsyn Front

First of all, Comrade Stalin said, two gratifying facts should be noted: one is the promotion to administrative posts in the rear area of working men with an ability not only for agitating in favour of Soviet power, but also for building the state on a new, communist basis; the second is the appearance of a new corps of commanders consisting of officers promoted from the ranks who have had practical experience in the imperialist war, and who enjoy the full confidence of the Red Army men.

Mobilization is proceeding splendidly, thanks to the radical change of sentiment among the population, who have realized the necessity of taking up arms against the counter-revolutionary bands. Firm discipline prevails in all our units. Relations between Red Army men and commanders leave nothing to be desired.

What about the food problem in the army?

Strictly speaking, we have no such problem in the army. Thanks to a well-organized system of 'supply bases, established by the battle sectors themselves, the front is experiencing no shortage of food. The daily ration of a Red Army man today consists of two pounds of bread, and meat, potatoes and cabbage.

The food supply at the front is entirely in the hands of the Army Food Commission of the Supreme Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic. It is this Commission that has organized the proper supply of the units at the front.

Agitation at the front, Comrade Stalin said, is carried on through the newspapers Soldat Revolutsii(1) and Borba,(2) and through pamphlets, leaflets, etc. The troops are cheerful and confident.

A big defect in the equipment of our army is the lack of a standard uniform for the soldiers. It would be desirable to design a new uniform as quickly as possible and introduce it at the front at once. The recent decree of the Central Executive Committee introducing incentives for heroic action on the part of individual Red Army men and whole units, in the shape of special insignia for the former and standards for the latter, is a measure of great importance, said Comrade Stalin.

Even before the issue of this decree, he said, units which had been awarded revolutionary standards then fought like lions. As to the state of the enemy units opposing us, ninety per cent of their effectives consist of so-called inogorodnie, most of them Ukrainians, and volunteer officers. The Cossacks constitute no more than ten percent. The enemy has the advantage of possessing a mobile cavalry, which with us is still in embryo.

I want to remark in conclusion, Comrade Stalin said, that whereas our combat units are being welded and cemented, the enemy is undergoing complete disintegration.

(1) 'Soldier of the Revolution' - army newspaper of the Tsaritsyn Front, started on J.V.Stalin's initiative. From August 7^th 1918, it appeared as the organ of the Military Council of the North Caucasian Military Area, from September 26 (no.42) as the organ of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Southern Front, and from October 29 (No.69) until it ceased publication, as the organ of the Revolutionary Council of the 10th Army

(2) 'Struggle' - began publication in May 1917 as the organ of the Tsaritsyn Committee of the RSDLP(B), and towards the end of 1917 became the organ of the Tsaritsyn Soviet of Workers Soldiers, Peasants and Cossacks' Deputies. It continued publication until March 1933.