J. V. Stalin

The South of Russia

Pravda Interview

October 30, 1918

Source : Works, Vol. 4, November, 1917 - 1920
Publisher : Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1953
Transcription/Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, 2009
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2009). 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.

People's Commissar Stalin, who recently returned from his mission in the South, gave our correspondent his impressions of the situation on the Southern Front.


Its strategical position alone, situated as it is between the Don counter-revolutionaries and the Astrakhan-Ural-Czechoslovak bands, shows how important the Southern Front is. The proximity of the British sphere of influence (Enzeli, Krasnovodsk) only adds to its importance. South Russia's rich resources (grain, oil, coal, cattle, fish) are in themselves enough to inflame the voracious appetites of the imperialist wolves who are striving to wrest this important area from Russia. Furthermore, it is certain that with the approach of autumn and the liquidation of the Samara adventure the centre of military operations will shift to the South. That, in fact, explains the "feverish" activity which the southern counter-revolutionaries are now displaying in hastily forming a new (brand new!) "all-Russian government" composed of those tsarist menials Shipov, Sazonov and Lukomsky, in uniting Krasnov's, Denikin's and Skoropadsky's bands into one army, in appealing for help to Britain, and so on.


It is on Tsaritsyn that the enemy is concentrating his heaviest fire. That is understandable, because the capture of Tsaritsyn and the severance of our communications with the South, would ensure the achievement of all the enemy's objectives: connection would be established between the Don counter-revolutionaries and the Cossack top sections of the Astrakhan and Ural troops and a united counter-revolutionary front stretching from the Don to the Czechoslovaks would be created; the counter-revolutionaries, domestic and foreign, would secure a firm hold of the South and the Caspian; the Soviet forces in the North Caucasus would be in a helpless plight. . . .

That is the chief reason for the stubborn efforts of the southern whiteguards to capture Tsaritsyn.

Krasnov issued an order for the capture of Tsaritsyn as far back as August. His bands hurled themselves with frenzy against our front and tried to break it, but were beaten off by our Red Army and thrown back beyond the Don.

A fresh order to capture Tsaritsyn was issued in the early part of October, this time by the counter-revolutionary Cossack Assembly in Rostov. The enemy massed no less than forty regiments gathered from the Don, Kiev (Skoropadsky's officer regiments!) and the Kuban (Alexeyev's "volunteers"!). But this time, too, Krasnov's bands were repulsed by the iron hand of our Red Army. A number of the enemy's regiments were surrounded by our troops and wiped out, leaving their guns, machine guns and rifles in our hands. Generals Mamontov, Anto-nov, Popov and Tolkushkin and a whole pack of colonels were forced to seek safety in flight.


The successes of our army are due in the first place to its political consciousness and discipline. Krasnov's soldiers are amazingly obtuse and ignorant and are completely isolated from the outside world. They do not know what they are fighting for. "We had to fight because we were ordered to," they say on being interrogated when taken prisoner.

Not so our Red Army man. He proudly calls himself a soldier of the revolution; he knows that he is fighting not to protect capitalist profits but for the emancipation of Russia, and knowing this he goes into battle boldly and with his eyes open. The yearning for order and discipline among our Red Army men is so strong that not infrequently they themselves punish "disobedient" and ill-disciplined comrades.

A no less important factor is the appearance of a regular corps of Red officers who have been promoted from the ranks and who received their baptism of fire in a number of engagements. These Red officers are the chief cementing force of our army, welding it into a single disciplined organism.

But the strength of the army is not due to its personal qualities alone. An army cannot exist for long without a strong rear. For the front to be firm, it is necessary that the army should regularly receive replenishments, munitions and food from the rear. A great role in this respect has been played by the appearance in the rear of expert and competent administrators, chiefly consisting of advanced workers, who conscientiously and indefatigably attend to the duties of mobilization and supply. It may be safely said that without these administrators Tsaritsyn would not have been saved.

All this is converting our army into a formidable force capable of smashing any resistance on the part of the enemy.

Everything is tending towards the tying of a new international knot in the South. The appearance in Yekaterinodar of a "new" "all-Russian government" composed of British proteges, the combining of the three counter-revolutionary armies (Alexeyev's, Skoropad-sky's and Krasnov's), which have once already been beaten by our forces at Tsaritsyn, the rumours that Britain is contemplating intervention, the fact that Britain is supplying the Terek counter-revolutionaries from Enzeli and Krasnovodsk—all these are not just chance happenings. Their abortive adventure in Samara they are now trying to resume in the South. But they will not have—will certainly not have—that without which victory is unthinkable, namely, an army which has its heart in the foul work of counter-revolution and is capable of fighting to the end. One powerful assault will be sufficient, and the counter-revolutionary adventure will collapse like a house of cards. The earnest of this is the heroism of our army, the demoralization in the ranks of the Krasnov-Alexeyev "armies," the growing unrest in the Ukraine, the increasing might of Soviet Russia, and, lastly, the steady spread of the revolutionary movement in the West. The southern adventure will meet with the same fate as the Samara adventure.