J. V. Stalin
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.
It is beyond all doubt that the campaign of the Polish gentry against workers' and peasants' Russia is in actual fact a campaign of the Entente. The point is not only that the League of Nations, which is led by the Entente and of which Poland is a member, has evidently approved Poland's campaign against Russia. The chief point is that without the Entente's support Poland could not have organized her attack on Russia, that France in the first place, and also Britain and America, are doing all they can to support Poland's offensive with arms, equipment, money and instructors. Disagreements within the Entente over the Polish question do not affect the matter, for they concern only the ways of supporting Poland, and not the support itself. Nor is the matter affected by Curzon's diplomatic correspondence with Comrade Chicherin, 1 or by the ostentatious anti-intervention articles in the British press, because all this hullabaloo has only one object, namely, to throw dust in the eyes of naive politicians and by talking about peace with Russia to cover up the foul work of the actual armed intervention organized by the Entente.
The Entente's present campaign is the third in succession.
The first campaign was launched in the spring of 1919. It was a combined campaign, because it envisaged a joint attack by Kolchak, Denikin, Poland, Yudenich and composite Anglo-Russian detachments in Turkestan and. Arkhangelsk, the main weight of the attack being in Kolchak's area.
At that period the Entente was solid and united and stood for open intervention: the weakness of the labour movement in the West, the number of Soviet Russia's enemies, and their complete confidence in victory over Russia, enabled the bosses of the Entente to pursue a brazen policy of undisguised intervention.
At that period Russia was in a critical state, because she was cut off from the grain areas (Siberia, the Ukraine, the Northern Caucasus) and fuel sources (the Donets Basin, Grozny, Baku) and was forced to fight on six fronts. The Entente saw this and gloated over its anticipated victory. The Times was already beating the drums.
Nevertheless, Russia passed through this crisis safely, and her most powerful enemy, Kolchak, was put out of action. The point is that Russia's rear, and hence also her army, proved to be more stable and flexible than the rear and armies of her adversaries.
The Entente's second campaign was launched in the autumn of 1919. It, too, was a combined campaign, because it envisaged a joint attack by Denikin, Poland and
Yudenich (Kolchak had been written off the accounts). This time the weight of the attack was in the South, in Denikin's area.
At this period the Entente for the first time began to experience internal disagreements. For the first time it began to moderate its insolent tone, intimated its opposition to open intervention, proclaimed the permissibility of negotiations with Russia, and proceeded to withdraw its troops from the North. The growth of the revolutionary movement in the West and Kol-chak's defeat had evidently made the former policy of open intervention unsafe for the Entente. It no longer dared to speak openly of undisguised intervention.
Despite the victory over Kolchak and the recovery of one of the grain areas (Siberia), Russia in this period was again in a critical state, because the main enemy, Denikin, stood at the gates of Tula, the chief source of supply of cartridges, rifles and machine guns for our army. Nevertheless, Russia emerged safe and sound from this crisis too. And for the same reason, namely, the greater stability and flexibility of our rear, and hence also of our army.
The Entente's third campaign is being launched in a quite new situation. To begin with, unlike the previous campaigns, this campaign cannot be called a combined one, for not only have the Entente's old allies (Kolchak, Denikin, Yudenich) dropped out, but no new ones (if there are any) have yet joined in, if we disregard the ludicrous Petlura and "his" ludicrous "army." Poland is so far facing Russia alone, without any serious fighting allies
Further, the notorious blockade has been broken not only morally and practically, but also formally. The Entente is forced to reconcile itself to the necessity of diplomatic relations with Russia and to tolerate official representatives of Russia in the West. The mass revolutionary movement in the European countries, which is adopting the slogans of the Third International, and the new successes of the Soviet armies in the East are widening the division within the Entente, enhancing Russia's prestige in the neutral and border states, and rendering the Entente's policy of isolating Russia utopian. Estland, that "natural" ally of Poland, has been neutralized. Latvia and Lithuania, who yesterday were Poland's fighting allies, are today conducting peace negotiations with Russia. The same may be said of Finland.
Lastly, Russia's internal position at the opening of the Entente's third campaign must be regarded as having radically changed for the better. Russia has not only opened the road to the grain and fuel areas (Siberia, the Ukraine, the Northern Caucasus, the Donets Basin, Grozny, Baku), but has reduced the number of fronts from six to two, and is therefore in a position to mass troops in the West.
To what has been said must be added the very important fact that Poland is the attacking side, having rejected Russia's peace proposals, and Russia the defending side, which is an enormous and inestimable moral advantage for Russia.
All these circumstances create a new situation, new chances for a Russian victory which did not exist at the time of the earlier, the first and second, Entente campaigns against Russia.
That, chiefly, explains the gloomy and sceptical tone in which the Western imperialist press evaluates the successes of the Polish army.
No army in the world can be victorious (we are speaking of firm and enduring victory, of course) without a stable rear. The rear is of prime importance to the front, because it is from the rear, and the rear alone, that the front obtains not only all kinds of supplies, but also its man power — its fighting forces, sentiments and ideas. An unstable rear, and so much the more a hostile rear, is bound to turn the best and most united army into an unstable and crumbling mass. The weakness of Kolchak and Denikin was due to the fact that they had no rear of "their own," that they, imbued as they were with essentially-Russian dominant-nation aspirations, were obliged to a very large extent to build their front and to supply and replenish it from non-Russian elements who were hostile to these aspirations, and that they were obliged to operate in areas which were obviously alien to their armies. It was natural that armies which had no internal, national, and still less class cohesion, and which were surrounded by a hostile environment, should cave in at the first powerful blow of the Soviet armies.
In this respect, the rear of the Polish forces differs very substantially from that of Kolchak and Denikin — to the great advantage of Poland. Unlike the rear of Kolchak and Denikin, the rear of the Polish forces is homogeneous and nationally united. Hence its unity and staunchness. Its predominant sentiment — a "sense of motherland" — is communicated through numerous channels to the Polish Front, lending the units national cohesion and firmness. Hence the staunchness of the Polish troops. Poland's rear, of course, is not (and cannot be!) homogeneous in the class sense; but class conflicts have not yet reached such a pitch as to undermine the sense of national unity and to breed antagonisms in a front of heterogeneous class composition. If the Polish forces were operating in Poland's own territory, it would undoubtedly be difficult to fight against them.
But Poland is not content with her own territory and is pushing her armies forward, subjugating Lithuania and Byelorussia, and driving deeply into Russia and the Ukraine. This circumstance alters the situation fundamentally, to the great detriment of the stability of the Polish armies.
As the Polish armies advance beyond the borders of Poland and penetrate deeper into the adjacent regions, they get farther and farther away from their national rear, weaken their communications with it, and find themselves in an alien, and for the most part hostile, national environment. Worse still, this hostility is aggravated by the fact that the overwhelming majority of the inhabitants of the areas adjacent to Poland (Byelorussia, Lithuania, Russia, the Ukraine) consist of non-Polish peasants who are oppressed by Polish landlords, and that these peasants regard the offensive of the Polish troops as a war for the power of the Polish gentry, as a war against the oppressed non-Polish peasants. This, in fact, explains why the slogan of the Soviet army, "Down with the Polish gentry!" is meeting with so powerful a response among the majority of the inhabitants of these regions, why the peasants of these regions welcome the Soviet armies as their deliverers from landlord oppression, why, in expectation of the arrival of the Soviet armies, they rise in revolt at the first convenient opportunity and attack the Polish army in the rear. It is to this circumstance, too, that must be attributed the unparalleled enthusiasm of the Soviet armies, which is attested by all our military and political workers.
All this cannot but create an atmosphere of uncertainty and insecurity within the Polish armies, cannot but undermine their morale, their faith in the justice of their cause, their faith in victory, and cannot but convert the national cohesion of the Polish army from a favourable into an unfavourable factor.
And the further they advance (if they advance at all), the more strongly will these unfavourable aspects of the Polish campaign make themselves felt.
Can Poland, under such circumstances, develop a strong and powerful offensive, one promising enduring successes?
Will not the Polish troops, under these circumstances, find themselves in a situation similar to that in which the German troops, cut off from their rear, found themselves in the Ukraine in 1918?
This brings us to the question of the striking area. In war in general, and in civil war in particular, success, decisive victory, not infrequently depends upon a successful choice of the striking area, the area from which you intend to deliver and develop your main blow against the enemy. One of Denikin's big mistakes was that he chose as the area of his main blow the Donets Basin-Kharkov-Voronezh-Kursk zone, an area which was patently unreliable for him, one that was hostile to him, and in which he could create neither a firm rear nor favourable conditions for the advance of his troops. The successes of the Soviet forces on the Denikin front were due, among other things, to the fact that the Soviet command took the timely precaution to transfer its main blow from the Tsaritsyn area (an unfavourable area) to the area of the Donets Basin (a highly favourable area), where the Soviet troops were greeted by the inhabitants with enthusiasm, and from which it was easiest of all to pierce Denikin's front, split it in two, and advance further, all the way to Rostov.
This factor, which is not infrequently lost sight of by the old military experts, is often of decisive importance in civil war.
It should be observed that in this respect, in respect of the area of her main blow, Poland is very badly off. The fact is that, for the reasons enumerated above, not one of the areas adjacent to Poland can be regarded as favourable to the Polish army, either for the delivery of the main blow or for the further development of this blow. Wherever the Polish forces advance, they will encounter the resistance of Ukrainian, Russian or Byelorussian peasants who are waiting for the Soviet armies to come and deliver them from the Polish landlords.
The position of the Soviet armies, on the other hand, is quite favourable in this respect: for them all areas will "do nicely," so to speak, for as the Soviet armies advance they do not fortify, but overthrow the power of the Polish gentry and deliver the peasants from bondage.
So far, Poland is warring against Russia single-handed. But it would be naive to think that she is alone. What we have in mind is not only the all-round support which Poland is undoubtedly getting from the Entente, but also those fighting allies of Poland which in part have already been found by the Entente (the remnants of Denikin's army, for example), and partly those which will in all likelihood be found for the glory of European "civilization." It is not by chance that the Polish offensive began at the time of the San Remo conference, 2 to which Russia's representatives were not admitted. Nor is it by chance that Rumania has dropped the question of peace negotiations with Russia. . . . Moreover, it is quite likely that the Polish offensive, which at first glance seems to be a reckless adventure, is actually part of a broadly conceived plan for a combined campaign, which is being carried out little by little.
All the same, it should be said that if the Entente reckoned on conquering Russia when it organized this third campaign against her, it has miscalculated, for the chances of defeating Russia in 1920 are less, far less, than they were in 1919.
We have already discussed Russia's chances of victory, and have said that they are growing and will continue to grow. But this does not mean, of course, that victory is already in our pocket. The chances of victory we have spoken of can be of real value only if other conditions are equal, that is, on condition that we make as great an effort now as we did formerly, during Denikin's offensive, that our armies are supplied and replenished punctually and regularly, that our propagandists redouble their efforts to enlighten the Red Army men and the population around them, and that we clear our rear of scum and fortify it with all our strength and by every means.
Only if these conditions are fulfilled can victory be considered assured.
Pravda, Nos. 111 and 112, May 25 and 26, 1920
Signed: J. Stalin
1.The reference is to the diplomatic correspondence in connection with the Note of Lord Curzon, British Foreign Secretary, to the People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs of the R.S.F.S.R. of April 11, 1920, offering the full capitulation of Wrangel and his army in the Crimea provided they were amnestied by the Soviet Government. Regarding this correspondence, see also p. 346 in this volume.
2.The conference of the Entente powers in San Remo, Italy, (April 19-26, 1920) discussed, among other questions, the fulfilment of the Versailles Peace Treaty by Germany and a draft peace treaty with Turkey.