Josef. V. Stalin

Note to V.I. Lenin from Petrograd by Direct Wire

Written: May 25, 1919 (1)
First Published: in the symposium Documents on the Heroic Defence of Petrograd in 1919, Moscow, 1941
Source: J. V. Stalin, Works, Volume 4, page 268-270. Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1953
Transcription: Hari Kumar for Alliance-ML
HTML: Mike B. for MIA, 2005

The dispatch of units is undoubtedly better organized now than it was some three months ago, but it is also clear to me that neither the Commander-in-Chief nor his chief of staff know anything about the units which are being sent to Petrograd. Hence such surprises as the arrival of mere handfuls of men under the guise of regiments of the 2nd Brigade or the Cavalry Brigade from Kazan. At any rate, Petrograd has received so far only six hundred men from military schools who are really fit for action.

But the chief thing, of course, is not the quantity, but the quality of the units. All we need to drive the whole pack beyond Narva is three infantry regiments — fit for action, of course — and at least one cavalry regiment. If you could have seen your way to meet this small request in time, the Estonians would have been driven back before now.

However, there is no cause for alarm, since the situation at the front has become stable, the front line has stiffened, and in places our forces are already advancing.

Today I inspected our Karelian fortifications and on the whole found the situation tolerable. The Finns are maintaining a stubborn silence and, strangely enough, have not taken advantage of the opportunity. But this is to be attributed to the fact that their own position at home is growing more and more unstable, as we are assured by Finnish comrades familiar with the state of affairs.

I was shown today a proposal of the Commander-in-Chief to cut down the navy on account of the fuel crisis. I conferred on this subject with all our naval men and have arrived at the conviction that the Commander-in-Chief's proposal is absolutely incorrect. Reasons: first, if big units are to be converted into floating rafts it will be impossible to operate their guns, that is, the latter will simply not shoot, because there is a direct connection between the movement of a ship and the action of its guns; secondly, it is not true that we have no large-calibre shells - the other day twelve barge-loads of shells were "discovered"; thirdly, the fuel crisis is passing, because we have already succeeded in accumulating four hundred and twenty thousand poods of coal, apart from mazut, and are receiving a trainload of coal daily; fourthly, I have convinced myself that our navy is being turned into a real navy, with well-disciplined sailors who are prepared to defend Petrograd might and main.

I do not want to mention here the number of battle units already fit for action, but I consider it my duty to say that with the naval forces available we could defend Petrograd with credit against any attack from the sea.

In view of this, I, and all the Petrograd comrades, insist that the Commander-in-Chief's proposal be rejected. Further, I consider it absolutely essential that coal deliveries be increased to two trainloads a day for a period of three or four weeks. This, our naval men assure us, will enable us to put our submarine and surface fleet definitely in fighting trim.


(1) In connection with Yudenich's offensive of May 1919 and the threat of encirclement and capture of Petrograd by the Whites, J.V.Stalin was sent to the Petrograd Front as plenipotentiary of the Council of Defense, which furnished him with a mandate, dated May 17th 1919, stating that he was being sent on a mission to the Petrograd and other areas of the Western Front for "the adoption of all urgent measures necessitated by the situation on the Western Front." J.V.Stalin arrived in Petrograd on May 19, 1919.