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.
Comrade Stalin, who recently returned from the South-Western Front, in an interview with our correspondent stated the following:
In the last two months, in May and in June, the situation at the front presented entirely different pictures.
May was a month of exceptional successes for the Polish army. On their right flank, the Poles were successfully advancing beyond the Kiev-Zhmerinka line and threatening Odessa. On their left flank, they were successfully stopping the offensive operations of our troops in the direction of Molodechno-Minsk. In the centre, having consolidated themselves in Mozyr and captured Rechitsa, they were threatening Gomel.
June, on the other hand, was a month of swift and drastic liquidation of the successes gained by the Polish army in May. The Poles' advance on the Ukraine was already stopped, for they were not only driven out of Kiev, but thrown back beyond the Rovno-Proskurov-Moghilev line. Their advance on Gomel was also stopped since their forces were hurled back beyond Mozyr. As regards their left flank—the most stable, according to the Polish press—it must be said that the powerful drive towards Molodechno made by our troops in this area in the past few days leaves no doubt that here too the Poles will be flung back.
July reveals a picture of a decisive change at the front in favour of Russia, and of obvious superiority on the side of the Soviet armies.
The break-through effected by our cavalry in the Zhitomir area was undoubtedly the decisive factor in the radical change at the front.
Many compare it with Mamontov's break-through and raid and find them identical. But this is incorrect. Mamontov's break-through was of an episodic character and was not directly co-ordinated with Denikin's offensive operations. Comrade Budyonny's break-through, on the contrary, was an essential link in the continuous chain of our offensive operations, its aim being not only the disruption of the enemy's rear services, but also the direct performance of a definite strategic task.
The break-through began at dawn on June 5. On that day our cavalry units, compressed into a tight fist, with their baggage trains in the centre, breached the enemy's positions in the Popelnya-Kazatin area, raced through the Berdichev area, and on June 7 occupied Zhitomir. The resistance of the Poles was so desperate that our cavalry literally had to hack their way through, the result being that the Poles left on the field not less than eight thousand wounded and killed by shot or sabre, according to the reports of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Cavalry Army.
Before the Zhitomir break-through the Poles, unlike Denikin, had protected the major points on their front by a belt of trenches and barbed-wire entanglements, and successfully combined mobile warfare with trench warfare. This had seriously hampered our advance. The Zhitomir break-through upset the Poles' calculations and reduced the value of combined warfare to a minimum.
That was the first positive result of the break-through.
Next, the break-through placed the enemy's rear services and communications in direct jeopardy, as a result of which:
a) the Polish Third Army (Kiev area), fearing-encir-clement, began a swift retreat which later turned into a wholesale flight;
b) the Polish Second Army (Berdichev area), which sustained the main blow of the Cavalry Army, beat a hasty retreat;
c) the Polish Sixth Army (Zhmerinka area), being left without support on its left flank, began a regular withdrawal westward;
d) our armies launched an impetuous offensive along the whole front.
That was the second positive result of the Zhitomir break-through.
Lastly, the break-through knocked the arrogance out of the Poles, undermined their faith in their own strength, sapped their morale. Before the break-through the Polish units had looked upon our troops, and especially our cavalry, with utter disdain, had fought desperately and refused to surrender. Only after the break-through did the Poles begin to surrender in whole groups and desert en masse—the first symptom of demoralization in the Polish ranks. Comrade Budyonny, in fact, writes to the Revolutionary Military Council of the front: "The Polish gentry have learned to respect our cavalry."
Our successes on the anti-Polish Front are unquestionable. It is equally unquestionable that these successes will develop. But it would be unbecoming boastfulness to think that the Poles are as good as done with, that all that remains for us to do is to "march on Warsaw."
Such boastfulness, which saps the energy of our officials and breeds a harmful self-conceit, is out of place not only because Poland has reserves which she will undoubtedly send to the front, not only because Poland is not alone and is backed by the Entente, which supports her unreservedly against Russia, but also, and chiefly, because there has appeared in the rear of our armies a new ally of Poland—Wrangel, who is threatening to destroy from the rear the fruits of our victories over the Poles.
It is no use cherishing the hope that Wrangel will not be able to reach agreement with the Poles. He has already reached agreement and is working hand in glove with them.
Here is what Shulgin's Velikaya Rossiya, the Sevastopol newspaper which is the inspiration of the Wran-gelites, says in one of its June issues:
"There is no doubt that we, by our offensive, are supporting the Poles, for we are diverting to ourselves part of the Bolshevik forces which were designated for use on the Polish Front. There is also no doubt that the operations of the Poles are of substantial support to us. It does not matter whether we like the Poles or dislike them; we must guide ourselves solely by cold political calculation. Today an alliance with the Poles against the common enemy is to our advantage; as to tomorrow . . . well, we shall see."
Obviously, the Wrangel Front is an extension of the Polish Front, with the difference, however, that Wran-gel is operating in the rear of our armies engaged against the Poles, that is, in the most dangerous place for us.
It is therefore ridiculous to talk of a "march on Warsaw," or in general of the lasting character of our successes so long as the Wrangel danger has not been eliminated. Yet Wrangel is gaining strength, and there is no evidence that we are adopting any special or effective measures against the growing danger from the South.
As a result of our offensive operations against the Poles, our front is assuming the shape of an arc, with its concave side facing the West and its ends extending forward, the southern end lying in the Rovno area, and the northern in the Molodechno area. That is what is known as an enveloping position vis-a-vis the Polish troops, i.e., a position most dangerous to the latter.
Undoubtedly, this circumstance is taken into account by the Entente, which is trying its utmost to embroil Rumania in war with Russia, is feverishly seeking new allies for Poland, is doing everything it can to assist Wrangel, and is generally trying to save the Poles. It is quite possible that the Entente will succeed in finding new allies for Poland.
There is no reason to doubt that Russia will find the strength to repel these new enemies as well. But one thing must not be forgotten: so long as Wrangel is intact, so long as he is in a position to threaten our rear, our fronts will be unsteady and insecure, and our successes on the anti-Polish Front cannot be lasting. Only with the liquidation of Wrangel shall we be able to consider our victory over the Polish gentry secure. Therefore, the new slogan which the Party must now inscribe on its banners is: "Remember Wrangel!" "Death to Wrangel!"
Pravda, No. 151, July 11, 1920