ALLIANCE Marxist-Leninist  (North America)
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                                    Occasional Reprint Series May 2004



Kochergin Poster 1920 Red Cavalry

Long Live the Red Army, by Nikolay Kochergin, 1920                                         Join the Red Cavalry!, 1920, by Unknown Artist   
Trampled beneath the feet of the Red Army are the defeated
White generals and the idol of Mammon, symbol of capitalism.       

We have before published works on the web of articles from Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin - that have not been made available by the Marx2Mao project of comrade David Romagnalo. In July 2000, we said in   Against Bureaucracy  and   Interviews With Stalin :
 "As we pointed out in the introduction to the reprinted materials of J.V.Stalin "Report to the 16th Party Congress", we are indebted to the work of the "Marx2Mao" project headed up by Comrade David Romagnalo. In addition, we pointed out that we are aware that the work load entailed, is so huge that it is not surprising that certain pieces of Stalin, in the "Works" - are not yet transcribed for the web in the "Marx2Mao" project.  
These pieces are offered as a further insight into the mind of J.V.Stalin. There are three types of his works, represented here.
 Interviews With Stalin :       
            In our reprint, Stalin: Report to the 16th Congress CPSU(B); Go to Speech in Reply to Debate we also pointed out:
"But then there are those who call themselves - only Marxists.  The Marxist Internet Archive ( MIA at: ) is another huge labour - one that contains again, some very valuable resources. Indeed it is an especially valuable source for those who wish to compare texts by Trotsky with those by Lenin.
But no doubt - its' major unique strength is the most complete cataloguing of Marx and Engels thus far on the web - a work still in progress.
It is thus regrettable, that their basic position is to relegate Stalin as a secondary figure. Correspondingly their archive of Stalin's works is pitifully small.
In this circumstance - they might also find this key Stalin work of interest.
It is noteworthy that in a section called "Students' Section" - they have a series under the title: Students Section: "Did the Soviet Union ever become Socialist?  Additional Readings on Socialism in the Soviet Union?" (AT: ).
regrettably they offer articles by Lenin, Trotsky, and Mao - but not by Stalin!
This has been pointed out to the editors, who to their credit - state that they are open to suggestion for material by Stalin to be included in that section.
We offer them this piece, and await their considered response. "
Speech in Reply to Debate
Regrettably, the MIA continue their sectarian behaviour and relegate the writings of Stalin to a secondary position. As time has gone on, their unequivocal Trotskyite allegiance is less clouded by their pretensions of being non-sectarian.

Marxist-Leninists of all shades will know that Trotsky's own pretensions are especially prominent when it comes to discussing his role in the Civil War.
    Were one to believe Trotsky, the war was won only by his own personal efforts and vigilance against the slack Lenin and the traitorous Stalin.

Although the writings of Trotsky on the Civil War are widely available - those of Stalin are not.  In association with a series of articles on Stalin and Trotsky in the Civil War (see:Where We Stand: The Red Army & Trotsky, & Stalin, Part 1 Red Army  ).

We are glad to offer this selection from Volume 4 of Stalin's writings in this period, and will be adding to this - especially as regards the war with Poland.

Note - all footnotes are drawn from the original Moscow version. Original page numbers are at the top of each page, following hte convention of Marx2Mao.
Editors, Alliance May 2004.

p. 118  



Arrived in Tsaritsyn on the 6th,


[Footnote: On May 29, 1918, the Council of Peoples Commissars appointed J.V.Stalin General Director of Food Affairs in South Russia. His mandate read: ‘Peoples Commissar Jospeh Vissarioniovich Stalin, Member of the Council of Peoples Commissars has been appointed by the Council of Peoples Commissars General Director of Food Affairs in South Russia and is vested with extraordinary powers. Local and regional Councils of Peoples Commissars Soviets, Revolutionary Committees, military staffs and chiefs of detachments, railway organizations and station masters, organisations of the river and maritime merchant fleet, post and telegraph, and food organizations and all commissars and emissaries are hereby ordered to carry out the instructions of Comrade Stalin.Chairman, Council of Peoples Commissars, “V.Ulyanov (Lenin)”.]


 Despite the confu­sion in every sphere of economic life, order can be estab­lished.


In Tsaritsyn, Astrakhan and Saratov the grain mo­nopoly and fixed prices were abolished by the Soviets; and there is chaos and profiteering. Have secured the introduction of rationing and fixed prices in Tsaritsyn. The same must be done in Astrakhan and Saratov, otherwise all grain will flow away through these profit­eering channels. Let the Central Executive Committee and the Council of People's Commissars also demand that these Soviets put a stop to profiteering.


Rail transport is completely dislocated owing to the efforts of the multiplicity of collegiums and rev­olutionary committees. I have been obliged to appoint special commissars; they are already establishing order despite the protests of the collegiums. The commissars are discovering heaps of locomotives in places where the collegiums did not suspect their existence. Investi­gation has shown that eight or more through trains a day can be sent by the Tsaritsyn-Povorino-Bala­shov-Kozlov-Ryazan-Moscow line. Am now accumulating trains in Tsaritsyn. Within a week we shall proclaim a



p. 119

"Grain Week" and shall dispatch to Moscow right away about one million poods with a special escort of rail­waymen, of which I shall give you due notice.


The hold-up in river transport is due to the fact that Nizhni-Novgorod has not been sending steamers, presumably because of the Czechoslovaks. Give orders that steamers be sent to Tsaritsyn immediately.


We have information that in the Kuban, in Stavropol, there are fully reliable purchasing agents who are busy getting out the grain from the South. A line is already being laid from Kizlyar to the sea; the Hasav Yurt­Petrovsk line has not yet been restored. Let us have Shlyapnikov, civil engineers, intelligent workmen, also locomotive crews.


Have sent a messenger to Baku, and shall be leaving for the South myself in a day or two. Chief Trade Agent Zaitsev will be arrested today for bag-trading and spec­ulating in government goods. Tell Schmidt not to send any more scoundrels. Let Kobozev see to it that the five-man collegium in Voronezh in its own interests does not create difficulties for my agents.     

It is reported that Bataisk has been captured by the Germans.  

People's Commissar  


The 5 man collegium was the administrative and technical directing body of the Boars of the M-Kiev=Voronezh other railways with head offices in Tsaritsyn, . June 7, 1918  First published in 1936, in the magazine Proltarskaya Revolulsia, No. 7     



 p. 120  


 To Comrade Lenin.  

I am hurrying to the front, and writing only on business.  

1) The railway south of Tsaritsyn has not yet been restored. I am firing or telling off all who deserve it, and I hope we shall have it restored soon. You may rest assured that we shall spare nobody, neither our­selves nor others, and shall deliver the grain in spite of everything. If our military "experts" (bunglers!) had not been asleep or loafing about the line would not have been cut, and if the line is restored it will not be thanks to, but in spite of, the military.  

2) Large quantities of grain have accumulated on rail south of Tsaritsyn. As soon as the line is cleared we shall be sending you grain by through trains.  

3) Have received your communication.    

[Footnote: On the night of July 6, 1918, Lenin informed Stalin of the revolt of the “left” Socialist Revolutionaries (SR)  in Moscow. Lenin’s note, which was received in Tsaritsyn over direct wire by Stalin personally, stated: “ these wretched hysterical adventurers, who have become a tool of the counterrevolutionaries, must be ruthlessly suppressed everywhere.....  Therefore show no mercy to the Left SR’s and keep us regularly informed”; Lenin [Pravda no 21; January 26 1936].
 Everything will be done to forestall possible surprises. You may rest assured that our hand will not flinch.  

4) I have sent a letter by messenger to Baku [Footnote: Addressed to S.G.Shaumyan, Chairman of the Baku Council of Peoples Commissars, see Documents on the History of the Civil War in the USSR Volume 2, 1940, p.280].  

5) Things in Turkestan are bad; Britain is operat­ing through Afghanistan. Give somebody (or me) special authority (military) to take urgent measures in South Russia before it is too late.

 p. 121  
Because of the bad communications between the border regions and the centre someone with broad powers is needed here on the spot so that urgent measures can be taken promptly. If you appoint someone (whoever it is) of: this purpose, let us know by direct wire, and send his credentials also by direct wire, otherwise we risk having another Murmansk. [Footnote: The reference is to the occupation of Murmansk by British troops in 1918] .

I send you a telegraphic tape on Turkestan. That is all for the present. 

Tsaritsyn, July 7, 1918
Published, In part, in Pravda. No. 301, December 21,1929

p. 122   


Comrade Lenin,  

Just a few words.  

1)      If Trotsky is going to hand out credentials right and left without thinking - to Trifonov (Don region); to Avtonomov (Kuban region), to Koppe (Stavropol), to members of the French Mission (who deserve to be arrested), etc.- it may be safely said that within a month everything here in the North Caucasus will go to pieces, and we shall lose this region altogether. Trotsky is behaving in the way Antonov did at one time. Knock it into his head that he must make no appointments with­out the knowledge of the local people, otherwise the result will be to discredit the Soviet power.


2)      If you don't let us have aeroplanes and airmen, armoured cars and 6-inch guns, the Tsaritsyn Front can­not hold out and the railway will be lost for a long time.


3)      There is plenty of grain in the South, but to get it we need a smoothly-working machine which does not meet with obstacles from troop trains, army com­manders and so on. More, the military must assist the food agents. The food question is naturally bound up   

p. 123

with the military question. For the good of the work, I need military powers. I have already written about this, but have had no reply. Very well, in that case I shall myself, without any formalities, dismiss army command­ers and commissars who are ruining the work. The inter­ests of the work dictate this, and, of course, not having a paper from Trotsky is not going to deter me.
J. Stalin  
Tsaritsyn, July 10, 1918 

Published for the first time

p. 124 


The situation in the South is no easy one. The Mili­tary Council inherited a state of utter disruption, caused partly by the inertness of the former commander, and partly by a conspiracy on the part of persons appoint­ed by him to the various divisions of the Military Area. Everything had to be started afresh: we got the supply services properly organized, instituted an op­erations division, established contact with all sectors of the front, rescinded the old and, in my opinion, crim­inal orders, and only after this launched an offensive on Kalach and southward towards Tikhoretskaya. We launched the offensive in the hope that Mironov's and Kikvidze's sectors in the North, including the Povorino sector, were securely guaranteed against defeat. But it turned out that these sectors were the weakest and the least secure. You know of the retreat of Mironov and the others to the North-East, of the capture of the whole railway line from Lipki to Alexikovo by the Cossacks, and of the dispatch of Cossack guerilla groups to the Volga and their attempts to cut communication along the Volga between Kamyshin and Tsaritsyn. 

Furthermore, the Rostov Front and Kalnin's groups generally lost their stamina owing to lack of shells and cartridges and have surrendered Tikhoretskaya and Tor­govaya

  p. 125  

and are apparently in process of complete dis­integration (I say "apparently," because we have still been unable to receive accurate information about the Kalnin group)  

I say nothing about the critical position of Kiz­lyar, Bryanskoye and Baku. The pro-British orientation is definitely discredited, but the situation on that front is anything but favourable. Kizlyar, Prokhladnaya, Novo-Georgievskoye and Stavropol are in the hands of Cossack insurgents. Only Bryanskoye, Petrovsk, Mineral­niye Vody, Vladikavkaz, Pyatigorsk and, I believe, Yekaterinodar are still holding out.

Thus, a situation has been created in which communi­cations with the food areas of the South have been sev­ered, and the Tsaritsyn area itself, which connects the centre with the North Caucasus, has in its turn been cut off, or practically cut off, from the centre.  

It was in view of this that we decided to call off the offensive in the direction of Tikhoretskaya, to take up a defensive position, withdraw the combat units from the Tsaritsyn Front and from them form a northern striking force of about six thousand men, and direct them along the left bank of the Don as far as the Khoper River. The aim of this move is to clear the Tsaritsyn-­Povorino line, turn the enemy's flank, disorganize him and hurl him back. We have every reason to believe that we shall be able to execute this plan in the very near future.  

The unfavourable situation described above is to be attributed:  
1) To the fact that the front-line soldier, the "com­petent muzhik," who in October fought for the Soviet

p. 126  

power, has now turned against it (he heartily detests the grain monopoly, the fixed prices, the requisitions and the measures against bag-trading).   

2) To the Cossack make-up of Mironov's troops (the Cossack units which call themselves Soviet are unable and unwilling to wage a resolute fight against the Cossack counter-revolutionaries; the Cossacks came over in whole regiments to Mironov in order to receive weapons, ac­quaint themselves with the disposition of our forces on the spot, and then desert to Krasnov, carrying whole regiments along with them; the Cossacks surrounded Mironov three times, because they knew every inch of his sector, and, of course, utterly routed him) 

3) To the fact that Kikvidze's units are built on the detachment principle, which makes liaison and coordinated action mpossible.

4) To the isolation, because of all these reasons, of Sievers' forces, which have lost their support on the left flank.  

One favourable factor on the Tsaritsyn-Gashun Front is the complete elimination of the muddle due to the de­tachment principle, and the timely removal of the so called experts (staunch supporters either of the Cossacks or of the British and French), which has made it possible to win the sympathy of the military units and establish iron discipline in them.

Now that communications with the North Caucasus have been cut, the position as regards food has become hope­less. Over seven hundred wagon-loads are standing on rail in the North Caucasus, and over a million and a half poods are ready for dispatch, but it is quite impossible to get the freight out because of the interruption of com­munications 

p. 127
both by rail and by sea (Kizlyar and Bryan­skoye are no longer in our hands). There is quite a lot of grain in the Tsarilsyn, Kolelnikovo and Gashun dis­tricts, but it has to be harvested, and Chokprod [Footnote: Extraordinary Regional Food Committee in South Russia] is not adapted for this work, and has been unable to adapt itself to this day. The crop must be gathered and hay must be pressed and accumulated in one spot, but Chokprod has no presses. The grain harvest must be organized on a large scale, but Chokprod's organizers are ut­terly incompetent. The result is that food deliveries are in a bad way.  

With the capture of Kalach we secured several tens of thousands of poods of grain. I have sent twelve lorries to Kalach, and as soon as we can get it to the railway I shall send it to Moscow. Good or bad, harvesting is proceeding. I hope to secure several tens of thousands of poods of grain in the next few days and send it to you also. We have more cattle here than we need, but there is very little hay, and without hay dispatch of cattle in large quantities is impossible. It would be well to organize at least one canning factory, establish a slaughter-house, etc. But, unfortunately, so far I have been unable to find men of knowledge and initiative. I ordered the Kotelnikovo agent to arrange for the salt­ing of meat on a large scale; the work has begun and there are already results, and if the business develops there will be enough meat for the winter (40,000 head of cattle have accumulated in the Kotelnikovo district alone). There is no less cattle in Astrakhan than in Kotelnikovo, but the local food commissariat is doing nothing. The rep­resentatives of the Perishable Foods Procurements Board are fast asleep, and it may be  confidently  prophesied

 p. 128
that they will procure no meat. I have sent an agent named Zalmayev there to procure meat and fish, but I have had no word from him yet.  

The Saratov and Samara gubernias are far more promising, as far as food is concerned: there is plenty of grain there, and I believe Yakubov 's expedition will be able to get out half a million poods or even more.  

In general, it should be said that until communi­cations with the North Caucasus are restored, we cannot count (very much) on the Tsaritsyn area (as far as food is concerned)

J. Stalin

Tsaritsyn, August 4, 1918  First published in 1931, in Lenin Miscellany, XVIII


p. 129 


[Footnote: On receiving J.V.Stalin’s letter, V.I.Lenin deleted the superscripsion and subscription and sent it to Petrograd as his personal directive]. 

Dear Comrade Lenin,

The fight is on for the South and the Caspian. In order to keep all this area (and we can keep it!) we need several light destroyers and a couple of submarines (ask Artyom about the details). I implore you, break down all obstacles and so facilitate the immediate de­livery of what we request. Baku, Turkestan and the North Caucasus will be ours (unquestionably!), if our demands are immediately met.  

Things at the front are going well. I have no doubt that they will go even better (the Cossacks are becoming completely demoralized).

Warmest greetings, my dear and beloved Ilyich.  

Yours, Stalin  
August 31, 1918  

First published in 1938, in the magazine Bolshevik, No.2



Having learned of the villainous attempt of the hirelings of the bourgeoisie on the life of Comrade Lenin, the world's greatest revolutionary and the tried and tested leader and teacher of the proletariat, the Military Council of the North Caucasian Military Area is answer­ing this vile attempt at assassination by instituting open and systematic mass terror against the bourgeoisie and its agents.

Tsaritsyn August 31, 1918. 
Soldat Revolutsii (Tsari tsyn), No. 21, September I, 1918

p. 131 


The offensive of the Soviet troops of the Tsaritsyn area has been crowned with success: Ilovlya Station has been captured in the North, Kalach, Lyapichevand th'e Don bridge in the West, and Lashki, Nemkovsky and Demkin in the South. The enemy has been utterly routed and hurled back across the Don. Tsaritsyn is secure. The offensive continues.

People's Commissar

Tsaritsyn, September 6, 1918  
Published in 1939, in the magazine Proletarshaya Revolutsia, No. I

p. 132   


Convey our fraternal greetings to the heroic flotil­la crews and all the revolutionary troops on the Tsaritsyn Front, who are selflessly fighting to establish firmly the power of the workers and peasants. Tell them that Soviet Russia notes with admiration the heroic exploits of Khar­chenko's and Kolpakov's communist and revolutionary regiments, Bulatkin's cavalry, Alyabyev's armoured trains and the Volga naval flotilla.

Hold high your Red banners, carry them forward fearlessly, mercilessly root out the counter-revolution of the landlords, generals and kulaks, and show the whole world that Socialist Russia is invincible.  

Chairman of the Council of Peoples’ Commissars  
V. Ulyanov-Lenin
Peoples Commissar & Chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Southern Front  
J. Stalin  

Moscow  September 18 1918.  

Izvestia No 205 September 21, 1918.


p. 133 

Izvestia Interview 

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.

Q: What about the food problem in the army?  

p. 134  
JVS A:  
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 [Footnote: ‘Soldier of the Revolution’ – army newspaper of the Tsaritsyn Front, started on J.V.Stalin’s initiative. From August 7th 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] and Borba [ ‘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], 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 .

 Izvestia, No. 205, September 21, 1918 



October 29, 1918 (Newspaper Report) 

There is no need to prove that the strength of Soviet Russia is growing, Comrade Stalin said. Its successes are sufficient proof of that. But never before have the enemies of Soviet Russia tried so stubbornly to break us. The plan of the enemies of Soviet Russia is to wrest her richest grain regions from her and compel her to capit­ulate without a fight. Five or six months ago, Samara and Siberia were selected for the execution of this plan. The past two months have made it clear to our enemies that this plan is unfeasible. Now they are trying to repeat the adventure in the South. The South exercises a great attractive power. There are no less than 150 million poods of available grain there. There are also hundreds of thousands of poods of coal. South Russia is even more important strategically. A new international knot is being tied in this region. This can be seen from the activity going on there. A new government has been formed in Yekaterinodar, headed by Krasnov. Three ar­mies have united there. In their effort to seize  possession

 p. 150
of the South, the counter-revolutionaries are aiming their main blow at Tsaritsyn. In August, Krasnov issued an order for the capture of Tsaritsyn. The order was not carried out, and Krasnov's army had to seek safety in flight. In October, Krasnov issued another order: to capture Tsaritsyn by October 15 at any cost and link up with the Czechoslovaks. No less than forty regiments of the combined armies of a number of generals were thrown into action. However, the generals had to seek safety in flight - so that one of them even lost his boots. (Laughter.)  

Only then did the generals realize that our army represents a real and growing force, too powerful for them to cope with.  

Wherein lies the strength of our army? Why is it beating its enemies so effectively?
The strength of our army lies in its political con­sciousness and discipline. Political consciousness and proletarian discipline - these are among the reasons for our success on the Southern Front.  

Another reason is the appearance of a new corps of Red officers. They are mostly former privates who received their baptism of fire in a number of engagements and well understand the job of fighting. They are leading our troops to victory.  

These are the chief factors determining the successes of our army. That is why I think that the blackguard bands will never succeed in vanquishing our army in the South.    
Izvestia, No. 237, October 30, 1918




Pravda Interview 

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, Sazonoy and Lukomsky, in uniting Krasnov's, Denikin's and Skoropadsky's bands into one army, in appealing for help to Britain, and so on.  

p. 152  


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, Anto­nov, Popov and Tolkushkin and a whole pack of colo­nels  were forced to  seek safety in  flight.

 p. 153  


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  

p. 154  

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, Skoropadsky'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," tl~e growing unrest in the Ukraine, the increasing might of Soviet Russia, and, lastly, the steady spread of the revolutionary movement in the \Vest. The southern adventure will meet with the same fate as the Samara adventure.  
Pravda, No. 235, October 30, 1918

­p. 190  


[Footnote: In connection with the catastrophic situation which had arisen on the Eastern Front, and particularly in the sector of the Third Army, the Central Committee (CC), RCP(B), on the motion of V.I.Lenin, decided on December 30th 1918, to send J.V.Stalin to the Eastern Front. On January 1, 1919, a commission consisting of two members of the CC – J.V.Stalin and F.E.Dzerzhinsky, was appointed by the CC of the Party and the Council of Defense to investigate the reasons for the surrender of Perm and the reverses at the Front, as well as to adopt measures for the restoration of Party and Soviet work in the area of the Third and Second Armies. On January 3, 1919, Stalin & Dzerzhinsky left for the Eastern Front, where they carried out a great deal of work for restoring the fighting efficiency of the Third Army and strengthening the front and rear. By the end of the month, thanks to their labours, a decisive turn was achieved on the Eastern Front].    

To Comrade Lenin,  

Chairman of the Council of Defence.   

The investigation has begun. We shall keep you regularly informed of its progress. Meanwhile we con­sider it necessary to bring one urgent need of the Third Army to your attention. The fact is that of the Third Army (more than 30,000 men), there remain only about 11 ,000 weary and battered soldiers who can scarcely contain the enemy's onslaught. The units sent by the Commander-in-Chief are unreliable, in part even hostile, and require thorough sifting. To save the remnants of the Third Army and to prevent a swift enemy advance on Vyatka (according to all reports from the command of the front and the Third Army, this is a very real danger) it is absolutely essential urgently to transfer at least three thoroughly reliable regiments from Russia and place them at the disposal of the army commander. We ur­gently request you to exert pressure on the

p. 192            

appropriate military authorities to this end. We repeat, unless this is done Vyatka runs the risk of suffering the same fate as Perm. Such is the general opinion of the comrades concerned, and all the facts at our disposal lead us to endorse it.   




January 5, 1919.  

First published in Pravda, No. 301,  
December 21, 1929.

p. 194 


To Comrade Lenin.    

We have received your ciphered telegram. We have already informed you of the reasons for the catastrophe as revealed by the investigation:  

[On January 13, 1918, J.V.Stalin & F.E.Dzherzhinsky sent VIL & the party CC, a “Brief Preliminary Report” on the progress of the inquiry into the reasons for the Perm disaster. It also outlined the measures proposed by the commissariat for restoring the situation in the Third Army sector, & to enable the army to pass over to the offensive. In response to the Report V.I.Lenin on January 14th sent the following telegram:  

“To JVS & D at their address in Glazov:  

Have received and read your first ciphered dispatch. Earnestly request both of you personally to supervise the carrying out of the proposed measures on the spot , otherwise there will be no guarantee of success”. Lenin].   

an army with fatigued units and with no reserves nor a firm command, and, moreover, occupying a flank position open to envelopment from the North - such an army could not but collapse in the face of a serious assault of superior and fresh enemy forces. In our opinion, the trouble lay not only in the weakness of the Third Army agencies and the imme­diate rear, but  also    :   

1) In the General Staff and the Area Military Commissariats, which formed and sent to the front units which were patently unreliable;  

2) In the All-Russian Commissars Bureau, which supplied the units being formed in the rear with callow youths, not commissars;    

3) In the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic, whose so-called instructions and orders dis­organized the control of the front and the armies. Un­less the necessary changes are made at central head­quarters, there can be no guarantee of success at the fronts .

Here are our replies to the military.  

p. 195            

1. The two regiments.
Two regiments surrendered: the 1st Soviet and a regiment of sailors from Petro­grad. They did not begin any hostile actions against us. It was the 10th Cavalry Regiment of the 10th Division stationed in the village of Ilyinskoye, which had been formed by the Ural Area Military Commissariat, that started hostile actions. Further, we managed to forestall a mutiny of the 10th Regiment of Engineers, stationed at Ochersky Zavod, which had also been formed by the Area Military Commissariat. The reason for the desertions to the enemy, as well as for the hostile actions, was the counter-revolutionary spirit of the regiments, which is to be attributed to the old methods of mobilization and formation, under which no preliminary sifting was made of the men called up for service, and also to the absence of even a minimum of political educational work in the regiments.      

2. Motovilikha
. The machinery of the plant and the equipment of the electrical shop were dismantled and inventorized in proper time and loaded on rail; but they were not moved out, nor were they destroyed. The responsibility lies with the Central Collegium: [ Footnote: The local agency of the All-Russian Evacuation Commission], the chief transportation officer and the Revolution­ary Military Council of the army, which displayed incredible mismanagement. Five-sixths of Motovilikha's workers were left behind in Perm, as also were the entire technical staff of the plant and its raw materials. Accord­ing to available information, the plant can be restarted in about a month and a half. Rumours of a revolt of the Motovilikha workers on the eve of the fall of Perm are not confirmed; there was only serious unrest due to bad food supply.    


3. Demolition of the bridge and valuable installations. The bridge, etc., were not blown up owing to misman­agement on the part of the Revolutionary Military Council of the army and lack of liaison between the retreating units and army headquarters. It is asserted that the comrade whose duty it was to blow up the bridge could not accomplish his mission because he was killed by whiteguards a few minutes before the charge was to be fired. It has been impossible so far to verify this version because of the flight of the bridge guards and the departure of a whole number of "Soviet" officials "no one knows whereto."        

4. Reserves at Perm.
The reserves consisted of one still weak and unreliable "Soviet regiment, "which upon its arrival at the front immediately went over to the enemy. There were no other reserves.          

5. Losses of materiel and men
. It is still impossible to construct a full picture of the losses because of the disappearance of a number of documents and the deser­tion to the enemy of a number of the "Soviet" specialists concerned.                          

According to the scanty data available, our losses were: 297 locomotives (of which, 86 in disrepair), about 3,000 railway wagons (probably more), 900,000 poods of oil and paraffin, several hundred thousand poods of caustic soda, two million poods of salt, five million rubles' worth of medical supplies, the storehouses of the Motovilikha plant and the Perm railwayshops with the vast amount of materials they contained, the machinery and parts of the Motovilikha plant, the machinery of the steamers of the Kama flotilla, 65 wagon-loads of leather, 150 wagon-loads of food belonging to the army supply


p. 197                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

division, the huge warehouse of the District Water Transport Board containing cotton wool, textiles, min­eral oil, etc., ten cars of wounded, the axle stores of the railways which included large stocks of American axles, 29 guns, 10,000 shells, 2,000 rifles, 8 million cartridges; over 8,000 men killed, wounded or missing in the period December 22 to 29. The railway special­ists and practically all the supply specialists have re­mained in Perm. The counting of losses continues.

6.      Present fighting strength of the army. The Third Army consists at present of two divisions (29th and 30th), with 14,000 bayonets and 3,000 sabres, 323 machine guns and 78 guns. Reserves: a brigade of the 7th Division sent from Russia which has not yet been sent into action because of its unreliability and need of thorough sifting. The three regiments promised by Vatsetis have not yet arrived (and will not, because yesterday, it appears, they were redirected to Narva).
[Footnote: This refers to the three regiments which were to be sent to the Third Army by the Commander-in-chief in response top the request of J.V.Stalin & F.E.Dzherzinsky. When forwarding this report to the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic, V.I.Lenin wrote “.. In my opinion it is simply outrageous that Vatsetis ordered the three regiments to Narva. Countermand it!!” (See Lenin Miscellany XXXIV p.90).

The units in action are battered and worn out and are holding their positions with difficulty.        

7.      Control system of the Third Army. Outwardly, the system of control seems the usual one and "accord­ing to the manual." Actually, there is no system at all-the administration is utterly incompetent, has no liaison with the combat area, and the divisions are virtually autonomous.            

8.      Have adequate measures been taken to halt the retreat? Of the measures taken, the following may be con­sidered of serious value: 1) advance of the Second Army towards Kungur, which is undoubtedly of great support to the Third Army, and 2) the dispatch to the front, thanks to the efforts of Stalin and Dzerzhinsky, of 900  

p. 198 

fresh and fully reliable bayonets with the object of rais­ing the fallen morale of the Third Army. Within a couple of days we shall dispatch to the front two squadrons of cavalry and the 62nd Regiment of the 3rd Brigade (already sifted). Another regiment will be leaving in ten days. The front of the Third Army knows this and sees the solicitude of the rear, and its morale is stiffening. Without a doubt, the situation is better than it was a fortnight ago. In places the army is even assuming the offensive, and not without success. If the enemy allows us another couple of weeks' respite, that is, if he does not bring up fresh forces to the front, there is hope that a stable situation will be created in the Third Army's area.          

We are at present engaged in liquidating a northern enveloping movement of several enemy detachments in the direction of Vyatka, along the road that runs through Kaigorod. One reason, incidentally, why we have come to Vyatka is to send a ski detachment to Kaigorod, which we shall do. As to other measures (for strengthening the rear), we are mobilizing person­nel, rank-and-file and otherwise, and appointing them to the army units in the rear, and are purging the Glazov and Vyatka Soviets. But, of course, the results of this work will not make themselves felt for some time.  

This exhausts the measures taken. They can by no means be considered adequate, because the weary units of the Third Army cannot hold on for long without at least partial replacement. It is therefore necessary to send us at least two regiments. Only then may the sta­bility of the front be considered guaranteed. Apart from this, it is necessary :

        1)  To replace the army commander;
  2)      To send three efficient political workers;
  3)      To dissolve immediately the Regional Committee, Regional Soviet, etc., with a view speedy mobilization of the evacuated officials.  

        J. Stalin
 F. Dzerzhinsky 

Vyatka, January 19, 1919. 

P. S. We shall be returning to Glazov in a few days to complete the investigation.
            First published in 1942. in Lenin Miscellany. XXXIV



p. 200 


January 19, 1919 (Record in the Minutes)

 As to the general situation, it should be said that for the immediate future a certain stability at the front is assured and it is just now that a Revolutionary Military Committee of the Vyatka Gubernia must be formed. If the enemy advances, he will have the aid of counter-revolutionary revolts from within, which can only be coped with by a small and mobile organiza­tion such as the Revolutionary Military Committee should be.          

It is necessary at once to form a new centre, com­prising representatives of :

1) The Gubernia Executive Committee;        
2) The Regional Soviet;            
3) The Gubernia Party Committee;              
4) The Extraordinary Commission;
5) The Area Military Commissariat. 

All forces and resources must be concentrated in the hands of the Vyatka Revolutionary Military Committee. However, the current work of the Soviet bodies should not be suspended; on the contrary, it must be inten­sified.            

 p. 201    

Similar organs must be formed in the uyezds, on the same pattern as the gubernia centre.

Given such a network of revolutionary committees, contact with the localities will be assured.  

And only then shall we be ready for a new offensive.  

Comrade Stalin formulated his proposal as follows: With the object of strengthening and securing the rear and uniting the activities of all the Soviet and Party organizations of the Vyatka Gubernia, a Vyatka Revolutionary Military Committee shall be set up, the decisions of which, as the highest organ of Soviet power in the gubernia, shall be binding on the above-mentioned institutions and organizations.  

First published in the newspaper  
Gorhovskaya Kommuna, No. 290, December 18, 1934

p. 202 



That disaster was inevitable was already apparent towards the end of November, when the enemy, after having surrounded the Third Army in a semi-circle along a line stretching from Nadezhdinsky, through Verkhoturye, Baranchinsky, Kyn, Irginsky and Rozhdestvensky, to the left bank of the Kama, and making strong demon­strations on his right flank, launched a fierce attack on Kushva.  

The Third Army at that time consisted of the 30th Division, the 5th Division, a Special Brigade, a Special Detachment and the 29th Division, totalling about 35,000 bayonets and sabres, with 571 machine guns and 115 guns (see "Order of Battle").          

The morale and efficiency of the army were deplorable, owing to the weariness of the units, the result of six months of continuous fighting without relief. There were no reserves whatever. The rear was totally insecure (a series of demolitions of the rail way track in the rear of the army). The food supply of the army was haphazard and uncertain (at the most difficult moment, when a furious 

p. 203  

assault was launched against the 29th Division, its units were in action for five days literally without bread or other food).    

Although it occupied a flank position, the Third Army was not secured against envelopment from the North (no measures were taken to post a special group of units on the army's extreme left flank to guard it against envelopment). As to the extreme right flank, the neighbouring army, the Second, being immobi­lized by a vague directive from the Commander-in-Chief (not to involve the Second Army in action after the capture of Izhevsk and Votkinsk, because it was to be given another assignment), and compelled to remain immobile for ten days, was not in a position to render timely support to the Third Army by advancing at the most crucial moment, before the surrender of Kushva (close of November).    

Thus, left to its own devices (in the South) and open to enemy enveloping operations (in the North), weary and battered, without reserves and without the rear being at all secure, poorly fed (29th Division) and abomi­nably shod (30th Division) at a time when the temper­ature stood at 35 degrees below zero, drawn out along a vast line stretching from Nadezhdinsky to the left bank of the Kama south of Osa (over 400 versts), and with a weak and inexperienced army headquarters, the Third Army could not, of course, withstand the onslaught of the enemy's superior and fresh forces (five divisions), which, in addition, were led by experienced commanders.              

On November 30 the enemy occupied Viya Station, severing our left flank from the centre, and annihilated practically the entire 3rd Brigade of the 29th Division                

p. 204            

(only the brigade commander, the chief of staff and the commissar escaped; armoured train No.9 fell into the enemy's hands). On December 1 the enemy occupied Krutoy Log Station in the Lysva sector and captured our aimoured train No.2. On December 3 the enemy occupied Kushvinsky Zavod (Verkhoturye and the whole northern area, being cut off from the centre, were evac­uated by our forces). On December 7 the enemy occupied Biser. On December 9 - Lysva. Between December 12 and 15 - Chusovskaya, Kalino and Selyanka Stations, the 1st Soviet Replacements Battalion going over to the side of the enemy. On December 20 the enemy occu­pied Valezhnaya Station. On December 21 - Gori and Mostovaya, the 1st Soviet Rifle Regiment deserting to the enemy. The enemy approached Motovilikha, with our forces in general retreat. On the night of the 24th-25th the enemy occupied Perm without a fight. The so-called artillery defence of the city proved a farce, leaving 29 guns in the enemy's hands.                          

Thus, in twenty days, the army in its disorderly retreat retired more than 300 versts, from Verkhoturye to Perm, losing in this period 18,000 men, scores of guns and hundreds of machine guns. (After the fall of Perm the Third Army consisted only of two divisions, with a total of 17,000 bayonets and sabres instead of 35,000, with 323 machine guns instead of 571, and 78 guns instead of 115. See "Order of Battle.")                          

Strictly speaking, it was not a retreat, still less could it be called an organized withdrawal of units to new positions; it was an absolutely disorderly flight of an utterly routed and completely demoralized army, with a staff which was neither capable of realizing what was                  

p. 205            

happening nor of foreseeing the inevitable disaster, incapable, too, of adopting timely measures to preserve the army by withdrawing it to prepared positions, even at the price of territory. The noisy laments of the Rev­olutionary Military Council and Third Army headquarters that the disaster was a "surprise" only prove that these institutions were out of touch with the army, had no inkling of the fatal significance of the events at Kushva and Lysva, and were incapable of directing the army's actions.                  

All these factors account for the unparalleled con­fusion and inefficiency which characterized the abso­lutely disorderly evacuation of a number of towns and places in the area of the Third Army, the shameful affair about the demolition of the bridge and destruction of the abandoned property, and, lastly, the matter of the guarding of the city and of its so-called artillery defence. Although talk of evacuation had already begun in August, nothing, or nearly nothing, was done for its practical organization. Nobody, not a single organiza­tion, attempted to call to order the Central Collegium, which got in the way of the institutions, engaged in endless debates on a plan of evacuation, but did nothing, absolutely nothing, to arrange for the evacuation (it did not even prepare a list of "its own freight").                    

Nobody, not a single institution, attempted to es­tablish effective control over the Ural Railway Admin­istration, which proved suspiciously incapable of com­bating the skilfully organized sabotage of railway per­sonnel: The appointment of chief transportation officer Stogov as chief of evacuation on December 12 did not

p. 206 

advance the work of evacuation one iota, because, de­spite his solemn pledge to evacuate Perm without delay ("I pledge my head that everything will be evacuated "), Stogov had no plan of evacuation, no evacuation staff, and no military force with which to curb the disorderly and unauthorized attempts at "evacuation" on the part of individual institutions and disorganized military units (seizure of locomotives, wagons, etc.). The result was that all sorts of rubbish - broken chairs and similar lumber ­were evacuated, while trains already loaded with machin­ery and parts of the Motovilikha plant and the Kama flotilla, trains carrying wounded soldiers or precious American axles, and hundreds of sound locomotives and other valuables remained un-evacuated.            

The Regional Party Committee, the Regional Soviet, and the Revolutionary Military Council and army head­quarters could not but know all this, but evidently they "refrained from interfering," since the investigation reveals that these institutions did not exercise systematic control over the activities of the evacuation agencies.                    

Already in October army headquarters began to talk of arranging an artillery defence of Perm. But it went no farther than talk, because 26 guns (plus another 3 which were not in proper working order), with all their horses and harness were left to the enemy without a single shot hav­ing been fired. The investigation shows that if headquar­ters had taken the trouble to check what the brigade com­mander was doing in regard to placing the guns, it would have realized that, in view of the disorderly retreat of the military units and the general state of disorganization on the eve of the fall of Perm (December 23), and in view of the fact that the brigade commander, in disobedience of                                

p. 207              

orders, had postponed the emplacement of the guns until the 24th (this brigade commander deserted to the enemy on the 24th), the only thing to be done was to save the guns themselves by removing them, or at least to put them out of action, but that there certainly could be no question of an artillery defence. That neither of these things was done can only be attributed to the negligence and inefficiency of headquarters.                

Similar inefficiency and mismanagement is to be dis­cerned in the matter of the demolition of the Kama bridge and the destruction of the property left behind in Perm. The bridge had been mined several months before Perm fell, but the mining was not checked by anybody (no one undertakes to affirm that the charge was in full working order the day before the bridge was to be blown up). The discharge of the mine was entrusted to a "fully reliable" comrade (Medvedyev), but no one undertakes to affirm that the bridge guards were fully reliable, that they stood by Medvedyev up to the last minute when the charge was to be fired, that Medvedyev was fully protected by the guards against attack on the part of whiteguard agents. It is therefore impossible to establish:            

1)      Whether (as some assert) Medvedyev really was killed by whiteguard agents just before the charge was to be fired, when the bridge guards fled "no one knows whereto";

2)      Whether Medvedyev himself ran away because he did not want to blow up the bridge;

3)      Or whether, perhaps, Medvedyev did all in his power to blow up the bridge, but it was not blown up because the wiring was defective, or the charges were damaged,             

p. 208 

perhaps by the fire of the enemy, who was shelling the bridge, or perhaps before the shelling, Medvedyev being killed maybe later when the enemy arrived on the scene.          

Further, the Revolutionary Military Council and army headquarters had made no attempt to assign to any precise and definite agency or individual the task of destroying the un-evacuated property. More, these insti­tutions were not found to have formal (written) orders making compulsory the destruction or demolition of the abandoned installations and property. This explains why property mostly of minor value (railway wagons, for instance) was destroyed (burned), on the initiative of individuals, while very valuable property (textiles, uniforms, etc.) was left untouched. Moreover, the burn­ing or blowing up of un-evacuated property was for­bidden by certain official persons, ostensibly in order to "prevent panic" (these persons have not been found).                    

 To this picture of general disruption and disorgan­ization of the army and the rear, and mismanagement and irresponsibility on the part of army, Party and Soviet institutions, must be added the incredible, almost whole­sale desertion of responsible officials to the enemy. Banin, the engineer in charge of the defence works, and all his staff, railway engineer Adrianovsky and all the experts of the area railway administration, Sukhorsky, chief of army transportation, and his staff, Bukin, chief of mobilization of the Area Military Commissariat, and his staff, Ufimtsev, commander of the guard battalion, Valyuzhenich, commander of the artillery brigade, Eskin, chief of special formations, the commander of the engineer battalion and his second-in-command, the commandants of Perm I and Perm II Stations, the entire accountant's

 p. 209  

division of the army supply department, hall the mem­bers of the Central Collegium - all these and many others remained in Perm and went over to the side of the enemy. All this  could not but increase the general panic that seized not only the retreating units but even the Revolutionary Committee which had been set up on the eve of the fall of Perm and which had failed to maintain revolutionary order in the city, and the Gubernia Mil­itary Commissariat, which lost contact with the vari­ous parts of the city, resulting in the non-withdrawal from Perm of two companies of the guard battalion, who were afterwards massacred by the Whites, and the loss of a ski battalion, who were also slaughtered by the Whites. The provocative firing skillfully organized by White agents in various parts of the city (De­cember 23 and 24) added to and enhanced the general panic .




The weariness of the Third Army (six months of continuous fighting without relief) and the lack of any reliable reserves were the immediate causes of the defeat. Drawn out in a thin line 400 versts long, and liable to envelopment from the North, which compelled it to extend the line still further northward, the Third Army presented a most convenient target for enemy pene­tration at any point. All this, as well as the lack of reserves, was known to the Revolutionary Military Councils of the Eastern Front and the Republic already in September (see, in the "Appendix," the telegrams          

p. 210  

of responsible officers of the Third Army demanding "re­placements" and "reserves," reporting the weariness of the Third Army's units, etc.), but Central Headquarters either sent no reserves at all, or sent small contingents of worthless troops. The demands for replacements and references to the weariness of the army became particu­larly frequent after the loss of Kushva in the early part of December. On December 6 Lashevich (army command­er) appealed to the Eastern Front for reserves, pleading the hopelessness of the situation, but Smilga (Eastern Front) replied: "Unfortunately, reinforcements cannot be sent." On December 11 Trifonov, member of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Third Army, informed Smilga (Eastern Front) over the direct wire: "It is very probable that we shall be forced to abandon Perm in the next few days. All we need is two or three firm regiments. Try to secure them from Vyatka or some nearby point." Reply of Smilga (Eastern Front): "Reinforcements cannot be sent. Commander-in-Chief de­clines to help. " (See "Appendix."). In the period August­-December 13,153 men in all, with 3,388 bayonets, 134 machine guns, 22 guns and 977 horses, arrived as reinforcements for the Third Army on orders from the centre. Of these, the 1st Kronstadt Regiment of Marines (1,248 men) surrendered to the enemy, the 11th Separate Marines Battalion (834 men) deserted, the 5th Field Battery of the Kronstadt Fortress were placed under arrest for brutally killing their commander, and the Finns and Estonians (1,214 men) were recalled to the West. As to the indents for 22 companies promised by the centre, the latter simply did nothing about them. And the 3rd Brigade of the 7th Division (three regiments) promised

 p. 211            

by the centre arrived in Glazov only in the early part of January, when Perm had already fallen. Moreover, the very first acquaintance with the brigade was enough to show that it had no place in the Red Army (a distinctly counter-revolutionary attitude, disaffection towards the Soviet power, existence within the brigade of a solid group of kulak elements, threats to "surren­der Vyatka," etc.). Furthermore, the brigade was not ready for action (no firing skill, baggage train of the summer type), the commanders were unacquainted with their regiments, and political educational work was negligible. Only towards the end of January, after three or four weeks of purging and thorough sifting of the brigade and strongly reinforcing it with Communists as rank-and-file Red Army men, and after intensive political educational work, was it converted into a competent fighting unit (of its three regiments, one was sent to the front on January 20, the second can be sent not earlier than January 30, and the third not earlier than February 10). Further evidence of these same shortcomings in our system of formation is the case of the l0th Cavalry Regiment and the 10th Regiment of Engineers stationed at Ochersky Zavod (they were both formed by the Ural Area Military Commissariat), the first of which attacked our units in the rear, and the second tried to do so too, but unsuccessfully, because of the precautionary measures taken.                      

The shortcomings in the system of formation are due to the following circumstances: down to the end of :May the Red Army was formed on the voluntary principle (under the direction of the All-Russian Formation Board), enlistment being confined to workers and peasants who 

           p. 212    

did not exploit the labour of others (see "Certificate Card"­ and "Personal Card" drawn up by the All-Russian Forma­tion Board). This, possibly, is one of the reasons for the staunchness of the formations of the volunteer period. When the All-Russian Formation Board was dissolved at the end of May and the work of formation turned over to the All-Russian General Staff, the picture changed for the worse. The All-Russian General Staff took over in its entirety the system of formation which prevailed in tsarist days, and enrolled for Red Army service all mobi­lized men regardless of their property status. The points concerning the property status of mobilized men contained in the "Personal Card" of the All-Russian Formation Board were not included in the "Personal and Record Card" drawn up by the All-Russian General Staff (see "Personal and Record Card" of the All-Russian General Staff). True, on June 12, 1918, the Council of People's Commissars issued the first decree on the mobilization of workers and peasants who do not exploit the labour of others, but it was evidently not reflected in the practical work of the All-Russian General Staff, nor in its orders, nor in the "Personal and Record Card." This chiefly explains why it was that the result of the work of our formation agencies was not so much a Red Army as a "popular army." Only in mid-January, when the Com­mission of the Council of Defence pressed the Ural Area Military Commissariat to the wall and demanded all documents and orders of the General Staff relative to methods of formation-only then did the All-Russian General Staff find time to give serious thought to the system of formation and it issued the telegraphic order to all Area Military Commissariats: "Fill in points 14,         

p. 213                  

15 and 16 of the personal and record cards, indicating party affiliation (of the recruit), whether he exploits the labour of others, and whether he has been through a general training course" (this telegraphic order of the General Staff was sent out on January 18,1919. See "Appendix"). And this after eleven divisions were considered formed already by December 1, and part of them, already dispatched to the front, had displayed all the signs of being whiteguard formations.                   

The defects in the system of formation were aggra­vated by the amazing negligence of the Area Military Commissariat in regard to the maintenance of the new formations (wretched food and clothing, no bathhouses, etc. See "Testimony of the Commission of Inquiry of the Vyatka Party Committee"), and by the absolutely indiscriminate appointment of unverified officers as commanders, many of whom lured their units over to the enemy.

Lastly, the General Staff did not see to it that men mobilized in one locality should be transferred for formation to another locality (in a different military area), which would have substantially checked mass de­sertion. We say nothing about the absence of any satisfac­tory political educational work in the units (weakness and incompetence of the All-Russian Commissars Bu­reau).

It is quite understandable that such semi-white­guard reserves, as far as the centre sent them at all (half of them usually deserted on the way), could not be of any material support to the Third Army.  Yet the units of the Third Army were so fatigued and worn out that during the retreat soldiers would lie down in whole

p. 214

groups in the snow and beg their commissars to shoot them: "We can't stand on our feet, let alone march. We're worn out. Put us out of our misery, comrades." (See" Testimony of Divisional Commissar Mrachkovsky.")


This practice of fighting without reserves must be stopped. A system of permanent reserves must be in­troduced, otherwise it will be impossible either to main­tain present positions, or to exploit successes. Without this, disaster will be inevitable.          

But reserves can be of value only if the old system of mobilization and formation practised by the General Staff is radically amended, and the composition of the General Staff itself is changed.  

It is necessary, firstly, that mobilized men be divid­ed strictly into propertied men (unreliable) and non­-propertied men (who are alone suitable for Red Army service).

 It is necessary, secondly, that men mobilized in one locality should be transferred for formation to an­other locality, and that the principle in dispatching men to the front should be: "the further from their home gu­bernia, the better" (abandonment of the territorial prin­ciple).

It is necessary, thirdly, to discard the practice of forming large, unwieldy units (divisions), which are unfitted for conditions of civil war, and to lay down that the maximum combat unit should be the brigade.

It is necessary, fourthly, to establish strict contin­uous control over those Area Military Commissariats

p. 215

 (first replacing their personnel), which evoke indigna­tion among the Red Army men (mass desertion at the best) by their criminal negligence in the matter of billet­ing, victualling and outfitting the units under forma­tion.                       

It is necessary, lastly, to replace the personnel of the All-Russian Commissars Bureau, which supplies the military units with whipper-snapper "commissars" who are quite incapable of organizing political educational work on any satisfactory basis.            

As a result of non-observance of these conditions, what our formation agencies are sending to the front is not so much a Red Army as a "popular army," and the word "commissar" has become a term of opprobrium.            

In particular, if the fighting efficiency of the Third Army is to be preserved, it is absolutely essential to supply it at once with reserves to the extent of at least three reliable regiments.


The Revolutionary Military Council of the Third Army consists of two men, one of whom (Lashevich) commands, and as to the other (Trifonov), we have failed to discover either what his functions are, or what he is actually doing: he does not look after supply, he does not look after the political education services of the army, and generally he does not seem to be doing any­thing whatever. In point of fact, there is no Revolution­ary Military Council at all.                                                   

p. 216

 Army headquarters has no contact with its combat area; it has no special representatives in the divisions and brigades to keep it informed and to see to it that the orders of the army commander are strictly obeyed by the commanders of divisions and brigades; army head­quarters contents itself with the official reports (often inaccurate) of the division and brigade commanders; it is completely in their hands (they behave like feudal princes). This accounts for army headquarters' lack of liaison with its combat area (it knows nothing about the real state of affairs there) and the lack of centralized control within the army (constant wailing of army head­quarters regarding the weakness of the junctions between the army's combat units). Centralized control is lacking not only within the army, but also between the various armies of the front (Eastern). It is a fact that from the 10th. to the end of November, when the Third Army was shedding its blood in unequal combat, its neighbour, the Second Army, remained immobile for two whole weeks. Yet it is clear that if the Second Army, which had completed the Izhevsk-Votkinsk operation on November 10, had advanced (which it could have done quite easily, because at that time there were no enemy forces opposing it, or practically none), the enemy could not even have started any serious operation against Perm (since his rear would have been threatened by the Second Army), and the Third Army would have been saved.                   

The investigation has revealed that the lack of co­ordination between the Second and Third Armies was due to the isolation of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic from the front and the ill-considered              

p. 217              

instructions of the Commander-in-Chief. Front Commander Kamenev, when interrogated by us, had the following to say in this connection:  

"Before the capture of Izhevsk and Votkinsk, in the early part of November, not later than the 10th, we had received in­structions that after the capture of these points the Second Army was to be transferred to another front, the exact location not being specified. Having received such an instruction, the army could not be adequately used; it could not be brought into contact with the enemy, otherwise it would have been impossible to disengage it in time. The situation meanwhile was very serious, yet the army confined itself to clearing the area of whiteguard bands. It was not before Shternberg and Sokolnikov interceded and went to Serpukhov that the instruction was rescinded. But this took ten days. Ten days were thus wasted, during which the army was forced to remain immobile. Then the sudden summons of Shorin, commander of the Second Army, to Serpukhov paralysed the Second Army, which was linked with his personality, and forced it to remain immobile for another five days. In Serpukhov, Shorin was received by Kostyaev, who asked him whether he was a General Staff officer, and on learning that he was not, dismissed him, saying that it had been intended to appoint him assistant command­er of the Southern Front but they 'had thought better of it'" (see "Statement of the Commander of the Eastern Front").               

It is necessary in general to draw attention to the un­pardonable thoughtlessness with which the Commander-­in-Chief issues instructions. Gusev, member of the Rev­olutionary Military Council of the Eastern Front, states (December 26): "Recently the Eastern Front received three telegraphic instructions in the space of five days: 1) Main direction-Orenburg. 2) Main direction- Yeka­terinburg. 3) Go to the support of the Third Army" (see Gusev's letter to the C.C., R.C.P.). Bearing in mind that evory new instruction requires a certain amount                

p. 218           

of time to execute, it will be easily seen how light-minded was the attitude of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic and the Commander-in-Chief towards their own instructions.          

It should be stated that the third member of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Eastern Front, Smilga, fully associates himself with the statements  of the other two members, Kamenev and Gusev. (See "Smilga 's Testimony," January 5.)                      


The army cannot do without a strong Revolutionary Military Council. Its Revolutionary Military Council should consist of at least three members, one of whom supervises the army's supply services,' the second its political education services, and the third commands. Only in this way can the army function properly.              

Army headquarters must not content itself with the official reports (not infrequently inaccurate) of the commanders of divisions and brigades; it must have its representatives-agents who keep it regularly informed and are keenly alert to see that the orders of the army commander are strictly observed. Only in this way can contact between headquarters and army be assured, the virtual autonomy of divisions and brigades abolished, and effective centralized control of the army established. An army cannot operate as a self-contained and ab­solutely autonomous unit. In its operations it is entirely dependent on the armies adjacent to it, and above all on the instructions of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic. Other things being equal, the most              

p. 219

efficient army may suffer disaster if the instructions of the centre are faulty and if effective contact. with the adjacent armies is lacking. It is necessary to establish on the fronts, and on the Eastern Front in the first place, a system of strictly centralized control of opera­tions of the various armies for the execution of a definite and thoroughly thought-out strategic directive. Arbitrary or ill-considered defining of instructions, and failure to pay serious heed to all the factors involved, with the consequent rapid change of instructions and the vagueness of the instructions themselves, as is the case with the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic, makes it impossible to direct the armies, results in loss of effort and time, and disorganizes the front. The Revolutionary Military Council of the Repub­lic must be reformed into a narrow group, closely connect­ed with the fronts and consisting, say, of five persons (two of them being experts, a third exercising supervi­sion over the Central Supply Department, a fourth over the General Staff, and the fifth over the All-Russian Commissars Bureau), sufficiently experienced not to act arbitrarily and light-mindedly in the control of the armies.                


 The investigation reveals that the rear of the Third Army was completely disrupted. The army was forced to fight on two fronts: against the enemy, whom it at any rate knew and could see, and against elusive inhabitants               

p. 220        

in the rear who, under the direction of whiteguard agents, blew up railway tracks and created all sorts of difficulties, so much so that the railway in the rear of the army had to be guarded by a special armoured train. All the Party and Soviet institutions are unanimous in affirming that the population of the Perm and Vyatka gubernias are "solidly counter-revolutionary. " The Regional Party Committee and Regional Soviet, as well as the Perm Gubernia Executive Committee and Gubernia Party Committee assert that the villages in this area are "solidly kulak." When we remarked that there were no such things as solidly kulak villages, that the ex­istence of kulaks without exploited is inconceivable, since kulaks must have somebody to exploit, the above­ mentioned institutions shrugged their shoulders and declined to give any other explanation. Further and more thorough investigation has revealed that the Soviets contain unreliable elements, that the Committees of Poor Peasants are controlled by kulaks, that the Party organizations are weak, unreliable and isolated from the centre, that Party work is neglected, and that the local functionaries endeavour to compensate for the general weakness of the Party and Soviet institu­tions by intensifying the activities of the Extraordi­nary Commissions, which, in view of the general break­down of Party and Soviet work, have become the sale representatives of Soviet power in the provinces. Only the wretchedness of the work of the Soviet and Party organizations, which lacked even a minimum of guidance from the Central Executive Committee (or the People's Commissariat of Home Affairs) and the Central Committee of the Party, can explain the amazing fact that the    

p. 221

revolutionary decree on the extraordinary tax, [Footnote: The decree of the All-Russian Executive Committee on the extraordinary tax to be imposed once for all on the wealthier sections of town and country was published on November 2, 1918. It ordered the fill weight of the tax to be imposed on the kulaks, the middle peasants to be taxed moderately, and the poor peasants to be exempted altogether]  which was designed to drive a wedge in the countryside and rouse the poor peasants in support of Soviet power, was turned into a most dangerous weapon of the ku­laks, used by them to unite the countryside against the Soviet power (as a rule, on the initiative of the kulaks ensconced in the Committees of Poor Peasants, taxes were levied on a per capita instead of a property basis, which infuriated the poor peasants and facilitated the agitation of the kulaks against taxes and. the Soviet power). Yet all the functionaries without excep­tion confirm that the "misunderstandings" arising in connection with the extraordinary tax were one of the principal factors, if not the only important one, which made the countryside counter-revolutionary. No guidance of the current work of the Soviet organizations on the part of the People's Commissariat of Home Affairs or the Cen­tral Executive Committee is to be observed (it is charac­teristic that by January 26 the re-election of the Com­mittees of Poor Peasants, in the Perm and Vyatka gu­bernias had not yet begun). Nor is any guidance of the current work of the Party organizations to be ob­served on the part of the Central Committee. All the time we have been at the front we have succeeded in unearthing only one document from the Central Com­mittee of the Party. It orders the transfer of Comrade Korobovkin from Perm to Penza, and is signed by a "secretary" by the name of Novgorodtseva. (This order was not carried out because of its manifest inexpedi­ency.)        

 The result of all these circumstances was that the Party and Soviet institutions were deprived of backing              

p. 223  

in the villages, lost contact with the poor peasants and began to place all their reliance in the Extraordinary Commissions and in repressive measures, under which the countryside is groaning. The Extraordinary Commis­sions themselves, inasmuch as their work was not sup­plemented by and conducted parallel with positive agi­tational and constructive work by the Party and Soviet institutions, fell into a state of complete and utter isolation, to the detriment of the prestige of the Soviet power. An ably conducted Party and Soviet press might have promptly brought the disease spots of our insti­tutions to light; but the Perm and Vyatka Party and Soviet press is not distinguished either by ability in organ­izing its work or by its understanding of the current tasks of Soviet power (nothing but empty talk about a "world social" revolution is to be found in it; the con­crete tasks of Soviet power in the countryside, the re­-election of the volost Soviets, the extraordinary tax, the aims of the war against Kolchak and the other white­guards – all these are "low" themes which the press proudly shuns). Consider the significance, for example, of the fact that of the 4,766 officials and employees of the Soviet institutions in Vyatka, 4,467 occupied the same posts in the gubernia rural administration in tsarist times; or, to put it plainly, the old tsarist Zemstvo institutions have been simply re-named Soviet institutions (do not forget that these "Soviet officials" control the entire leather-producing area of the Vyatka Gu­bernia). This striking fact was revealed by our question­naire in mid - January. Did the Regional Party Committee and Regional Soviet, the local press and the local Party officials know about it? Of course, not. Did the Central            

 p. 223                

Committee of the Party, the Central Executive Committee and the People's Commissariat of Home Affairs know about it? Of course, not. But how can the centre direct if it has no idea of the chief disease spots not only in the provinces generally, but even in our provincial Soviet institutions?          


A severe handicap to our armies is the instability of the rear, which is mainly to be explained by neglect of Party work, inability of the Soviets to carry out the

directives of the centre, and the abnormal (almost isolated) position of the local Extraordinary Commis­sions.


In order to strengthen the rear it is necessary:


     1. To institute a strict system of regular reports from the local Party organizations to the Central Com­mittee; to send regular circular letters of the Central Committee to the local Party organizations; to set up a press department of the Central Organ to direct the provincial Party press; to organize a school for training Party officials (mainly from workers) and arrange for the proper distribution of officials. All these meas­ures should be entrusted to a Secretariat of the Party Central Committee to be organized within the Central Committee.    

2. Strictly to delimit the sphere of jurisdiction of the Central Executive Committee and the People's Com­missariat of Home Affairs in the direction of the current work o(the Soviets; to merge the All-Russian Extraor­dinary Commission with the People's Commissariat

p. 224

of Home Affairs; [Footnote: On the question of merging the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission with the People's Commissariat of Home Affairs Comrade Dzerzhinsky expresses a dissenting opinion] to make it the duty of the People’s Commissariat of Home Affairs to see that the de­crees and orders of the central authority are correctly and promptly carried out by the Soviets; to make it the duty of the gubernia Soviets to present regular reports to the People's Commissariat of Home Affairs; to make it the duty of the People's Commissariat of Home Affairs to issue the necessary regular instructions to the Soviets; to institute a press department of the Izvestia to the All-Russian Central Executive Committee [Footnote: Izvestia of the A.R.C.E.C. (Gazette of the All-Russian Central Executive) – a daily newspaper first published on February 28, 1917, as the Izvestia of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. On August 1, 1917, after the First All-Russian Congress of Soviets, it became the organ of the Central Executive Committee of the Soviets of Workers & Soldiers Deputies and began to appear under the title of the Izvestia of the Central Executive Committee and the Petrograd Soivet of the Workers’ & Soldiers’ Deputies. On October 27, 1917, after the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets, it became the official organ of the Soviet Government. On March 12, 1918 its place of publication was transferred to Moscow and its title was changed to Izvestia of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Soviets of Peasants’ Workers’ Soldiers’ and Cossacks’ Deputies. On June 22 1918, it became the organ of the ARCEC and the Moscow Soviet, and alter the organ of the CEC of the USSR and the CEC of the RSFSR] to direct the provincial Soviet press.

 3. To set up a Control and Inspection Commission under the Council of Defence to investigate "defects in the machinery" of the People's Commissariats and their corresponding local departments both in the rear. and at the front.



The chief malady in the sphere of supply is the in­credible overlapping of supply agencies and the lack of co-ordination between them.                                                

The army and the population of Perm received their food supplies from Ural Supply, Gubernia Supply, City Supply, the Uyezd Supply Boards and the Supply Department of the Third Army. For all that, the work of supply proceeded very badly, for the army (29th Di­vision) starved and the population of Perm and the Moto­vilik 


workers went hungry, the bread ration having been systematically reduced until it dropped to starva­tion level (1/4 lb.).

 The confusion in supplying the army, due to lack of co-ordination among the above-mentioned supply agencies, is aggravated by the fact that the People's Commissariat of Food takes no account of the loss of the Perm Gubernia and still issues its indents for supplies to the Third Army on the Perm and other re­mote gubernias instead of transferring them to Vyatka. It should also be mentioned that the People's Com­missariat of Food has not yet proceeded to haul grain to the river wharves, nor the Waterways Board to repair its steamers, and this undoubtedly may create serious complications in the matter of supply in the future.            

The supply of the army with munitions is suffering even more severely from the overlapping of agencies and from bureaucratic red tape. The Central Supply Depart­ment, the Control Ordnance Department, the Extraordinary Supply Commission and the Ordnance Division of the Third Army are continually getting into each other's way, hampering and preventing the active work of supply. In illustration, we consider it appropriate to quote some excerpts from a telegram sent by the Commander of the Third Army to the Commander of the Front (with a copy to Trotsky) on December 17,1918, just before the fall of Perm: 

"Chief of Supply, Eastern Front, stated in his telegram No. 3249 that an indent for six thousand Japanese rifles had been issued on the Yaroslavl Area. This indent, as may be seen from telegram No. 493 of Chief of Staff of the Military Council of the Republic Kostyaev, was endorsed by the Commander-in-Chief. A month           

p. 226

 ago Third Army headquarters sent an agent to receive the rifles. On his arrival at the Yaroslavl Area Ordnance Department he wired that nothing was known there about the matter, since no order had been received from the Central Ordnance Department (C.O.D.). The agent proceeded to the C.O.D. in Moscow, and wired from there that the rifles could not be issued without the consent of the Commander-in-Chief. Yesterday we received a wire from the agent stating that C.O.D. categorically refused to issue the rifles and that he had returned. In his telegram No. 208 Chief of Supply of the Revolutionary Military Council stated that the Second Army had been ordered to deliver six thousand rifles to the Third Army, and Commander Second Army in his telegram No. 1560 requested that an agent be urgently sent to Izhevsk to receive the rifles. The agent was sent to Izhevsk, but he was not issued the rifles on the plea that no order had been received. Com­mander Second Army in his telegram No. 6542 and Chief of Supply Eastern Front in his telegram No. 6541 requested that the Izhevsk factory be ordered to release the rifles. Down to the 16th of this month no order had been sent to 1he factory, and according to information received from the agent all available rifles in Izhevsk are to be dispatched to the centre on Monday. Ten thousand rifles have thus been lost to the army on these two indents. The state of the army is well known. Replenishments cannot be sent to the front without rifles, and because. of lack of replenishments the front is melting away, leading to the results with which you are familiar. The indent for rifles was issued to the Yaroslavl Area Ordnance Department with the consent of the Commander-­in-Chief, and Commander Third Army therefore officially accuses the C.O.D. of sabotage and insists upon an inquiry."

The substance. of this telegram is fully corroborated by Front Commander Kamenev. (See "Statements of the Commander of the Front.")

Similar confusion and overlapping of agencies reigned in the sphere of evacuation. The Area Chief of Rail­ways proved totally incapable of checking the skilfully organized sabotage of railway personnel. Frequent train

 p. 227

accidents, traffic jams and mysterious disappearances of freight needed by the army took the area administration by surprise at the most trying moments of the evacua­tion, yet it did nothing, or was incapable of doing anything, to put an effective stop to the evil. The Central Collegium "worked," that is, debated, but took absolutely no measures for the orderly evacuation of freight. The chief transportation officer of the Third Army, who was also chief of evacuation, did abso­lutely nothing to get out the most valuable freight (ma­chinery and parts of the Motovilikha plant, etc.). All sorts of rubbish was evacuated, and all organizations without exception had a finger in the work of evacuation, and the result was confusion and chaos.

In order to improve the supply of the army, it is necessary: .

  1. To put an end to the overlapping of central army supply agencies (Central Supply Department, Extraordi­nary Supply Commission, Central Ordnance Department­ - each of which acts as it sees fit) and to reduce them to one, which should be held strictly accountable for the prompt fulfilment of indents.                                             
  2. To instruct the army supply division to main­tain a fortnight's supply of rations in reserve with each division.                                       
  3. To instruct the People's Commissariat of Food to issue indents for the armies on gubernias in their immediate vicinity-in particular, to transfer (promptly) its indents for the Third Army to the Vyatka Gubernia.

 p. 228

4. To instruct the People's Commissariat of Food to proceed immediately to haul grain to the river wharves, and the Waterways Board to proceed to repair its steamers.            
In order to ensure efficient evacuation, it is neces­sary:                                    

1.      To abolish the local Central Collegiums.                
2.      To set up under the Supreme Council of National Economy a single evacuation agency, with the right to allocate evacuated property.              
3.      To instruct this agency, in case of need, to send special agents to direct the work of evacuation on the spot, always, as an indispensable condition, enlisting the co-operation of representatives of the military authorities and railway administration of the given area.                    
4.      To appoint to the various area railway ad­ministrations, especially of the Ural Area (in view of the unsatisfactory nature of its personnel) responsible agents of the People's Commissariat of Railways who will be capable of commanding the obedience of the railway experts and breaking the sabotage of railway personnel.              
5.       To instruct the People's. Commissariat of Rail­ways to proceed immediately to transfer locomotives and wagons from areas where they are in abundance to the grain-growing areas, as well as to repair damaged locomotives.          

p. 229


It is impossible to establish an exhaustive picture of the losses in view of the "disappearance" of a number of documents and the desertion to the enemy of a whole number of Soviet officials and experts concerned. Accord­ing to available data, our losses are: 419,000 cubic sazhens of wood fuel and 2,383,000 poods of coal, anthra­cite and peat; 66,800,000 poods of ore and other raw mate­rials; 5,000,000 poods of basic materials and products (cast iron, aluminium, tin, zinc, etc.); 6,000,000 poods of open-hearth and Bessemer ingots, bars and slabs; 8,000,000 poods of iron and steel (structural steel, sheet iron, wire, rails, etc.); 4,000,000 poods of salt; 255,000 poods of caustic and calcined soda; 900,000 poods of oil and paraffin; 5,000,000 rubles worth of medical supplies; the storehouses of the Motovilikha plant and the Perm railway shops; the railway axle stores, includ­ing large stocks of American axles; the warehouses of the District Water Transport Board, containing cotton wool, textiles, mineral oil, nails, carts, etc.; 65 wagon­loads of leather; 150 wagon-loads of food belonging to the army supply division; 297 locomotives (86 out of order); over 3,000 railway wagons; some 20,000 killed, captured and missing soldiers and 10 cars of wounded; 37 guns, 250 machine guns, over 20,000 rifles, over 10,000,000 cartridges, over 10,000 shells.              

We say nothing of the loss of the entire railway net­work, valuable installations, etc.         

p. 230

By January 15, 1,200 bayonets and sabres who could be relied on had been sent to the front; two squadrons of cavalry were dispatched two days later, and the 62nd Regiment of the 3rd Brigade (after thorough sifting) on the 20th. These units made it possible to halt the enemy's advance, wrought a complete change in the morale of the Third Army, and opened our advance on Perm, which so far is proceeding successfully. The 63rd Regiment of the same brigade (after having undergone a month's purge) will be sent to the front on January 30. The 61st Regiment cannot be sent before February 10 (it needs very thorough sifting). In view of the weakness of the extreme left flank, open to the danger of being turned by the enemy, the ski battalion in Vyatka was reinforced with volunteers (1,000 in all), sup­plied with quick-firing guns and sent from Vyatka on January 28 in the direction of Cherdyn to link up with the extreme left flank of the Third Army. Another three reliable regiments must be sent from Russia to support the Third Army if its position is to be really strengthened and if it is to be able to exploit its successes.

 In the rear of the army a thorough purging of So­viet and Party institutions is under way. Revolutionary Committees have been formed in Vyatka and the uyezd towns. A start has been made in forming strong revo­lutionary organizations in the countryside, and this work is continuing. All Party and Soviet work is being re-organized. on new lines. The military control agencies

p. 231

have been purged and re-organized. The Gubernia Extraordinary Commission has been purged and reinforced with new Party workers. The congestion on the Vyatka railway line is being relieved. Experienced Party workers need to be sent and prolonged socialist work will be required before the rear of the Third Army is thor­oughly strengthened.


Concluding their report, the Commission considers it necessary to stress once again the absolute neces­sity for the establishment of a Control and Inspection Commission under the Council of Defence for the investi­gation of so-called "defects in the machinery" of the People's Commissariats and their local departments in the rear and at the front.

In correcting shortcomings in the work of the centre and the localities the Soviet power usually resorts to the method of disciplining and punishing offending officials. While recognizing that this method is abso­lutely necessary and fully expedient, the commission, however, considers it insufficient. Shortcomings in work are due not only to the laxity, negligence and irrespon­sibility of some of the officials, but also to the inexpe­rience of others. The Commission has found in the local­ities quite a number of absolutely honest, tireless and devoted officials who, nevertheless, committed a number of blunders in their work owing to insufficient experience. If the Soviet power had a special apparatus to accumu­late the experience gained in the work of building the socialist state and to pass it on to the already existing young officials who are ardently desirous of helping


p. 232

the proletariat, the building of a socialist Russia would proceed much faster and less painfully. This body should be the above-mentioned Control and Inspection Commission under the Council of Defence. The activ­ities of this Commission might supplement the work of the centre in tightening discipline among officials.                          

The Commission:                    
J. Stalin                          
F. Dzerzhinsky                                  

January 31, 1919, Moscow                          
First published                          
in Pravda, No. 16, January 16, 1935

p. 260


Report Delivered at a Meeting of the All.Russian Central Executive Committee April 9. 1919 (Newspaper Report)

Comrade Stalin pointed out that the department of State Control was the only one which had not under­gone the purging and reconstruction to which all the others had been subjected. To achieve real and genuine control, not control on paper, it was necessary, in the opinion of the speaker, to re-organize the existing State Control staff by replenishing it with new and fresh forces. The existing workers' control bodies should be united into a single whole, and all the forces engaged in con­trol should be incorporated in the general State Control. Hence, the basic idea of the re-organization was to de­mocratize State Control and to bring it into closer con­tact with the masses of workers and peasants.

The draft decree
[Footnote” The draft decree on the re-organisation of State Control was drawn up by a commission which included J.V.Stalin and Y.M.Sverdlov. The draft was examined by the Council of People’s Commissars at sittings on March 8 and April 3, 1919, at which J.V.Stalin made the reports on the draft. V.I.Lenin took a direct part in drafting & final framing of the decree] submitted by the speaker was  unanimously approved.                  
Izvestia, No. 77, April 10, 1919            

p. 261 


 We present for the attention of our readers two docu­ments [Footnote: The two documents – “execution of the Twenty-Six Commissioners” and “Conversation Between General Thomson and Mr Chaikin, March 23, 1919” – were appended to the article (Izvestia, April 23, 1919)] which testify to the savage murder of respon­sible officials of Soviet power in Baku by the British imperialists in the autumn of last year. These docu­ments are taken from the Baku Socialist-Revolutionary newspaper Znamya Truda [Footnote: ‘Banner of Labour’ – a newspaper published by the Socialist-0Revoiltuionary Committee in Baku from January 1918 to Novmeber 1919] and the Baku newspaper Yedi­naya Rossiya, [Footnote: ‘United Russia’ – a newspaper of Cadet trend published by the so-called Russian National Committee of Baku from December 1918 to July 1919] that is to say from the very same cir­cles which only yesterday called in the aid of the Brit­ish and betrayed the Bolsheviks, and which are now forced by the course of events to denounce their allies of yesterday.

 The first document tells of the barbarous shooting without trial of 26 Soviet officials of the city of Baku (Shaumyan, Djaparidze, Fioletov, Malygin and others) by the British Captain Teague-Jones on the night of September 20, 1918, on the road from Krasnovodsk to Ashkhabad, to which he was convoying them as war prisoners. Teague-Jones and his Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik partners hoped at first to hush up the matter, intending to circulate false testimony to the ef­fect that the Baku Bolsheviks had died a "natural"

p. 262                

death in prison or hospital. But evidently this plan fell through, for it turns out that there exist eye-witnesses who refuse to keep silent and who are ready thor­oughly to expose the British savages. This document is signed by Chaikin, a Socialist-Revolutionary.                    

The second document recounts a conversation that the author of the first document, Chaikin, had with the British General Thomson towards the close of March 1919. General Thomson demanded that Chaikin should name the eye-witnesses of the savage murder of the 26 Baku Bolsheviks by Captain Teague-J ones. Chaikin was prepared to present the documents and to name the witnesses on condition that a commission of inquiry were set up composed of representatives of the British com­mand, the population of Baku and the Turkestan Bolshe­viks. Chaikin furthermore demanded a guarantee that the Turkestan witnesses would not be assassinated by Brit­ish agents. Since Thomson refused to agree to the ap­pointment of a commission of inquiry and would give no guarantee of the personal safety of the witnesses, the conversation was broken off and Chaikin left. The document is interesting because it indirectly confirms the barbarity of the British imperialists, and not merely testifies but cries out against the impunity and savagery of the British agents who vent their ferocity on Baku and Transcaspian "natives" just as they do on Negroes in Central Africa.                        

The story of the 26 Baku Bolsheviks is as follows. In August 1918, when the Turkish forces had come within a short distance of Baku and the Socialist-Revo­lutionary and Menshevik members of the Baku Soviet, against the opposition of t he Bolsheviks, had secured                          

p. 263                        

the support of the majority of the Soviet and had called in the aid of the British imperialists, the Baku Bolsheviks, headed by Shaumyan and Djaparidze, being in the minority, resigned their authority and left the field clear for their political opponents. The Bolsheviks de­cided, with the consent of the newly-formed Brit­ish, Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik authority in Baku, to evacuate to Petrovsk, the nearest seat of Soviet power. But on the way to Petrovsk the steam­er carrying the Baku Bolsheviks and their families was shelled by British ships which had followed in pursuit and was convoyed to Krasnovodsk. This was in August.                            

The Russian Soviet Government applied on several occasion's to the British command, demanding the re­lease of the Baku comrades and their families in exchange for British prisoners, but the British command invar­iably refrained from replying. Already in October informa­tion began to come in from private persons and organi­zations to the effect that the Baku comrades had been shot. On March 5, 1919, Astrakhan received a radio message from Tiflis stating that "Djaparidze and Shau­myan are not in the hands of the British command; according to local information, they were killed last September near Kizyl-Arvat by the arbitrary act of a group of workers." This, apparently, was the first official attempt on the part of the British assassins to lay the blame for their atrocious act on the workers, who were boundlessly devoted to Shaumyan and Djaparidze. Now, after the publication of the above-mentioned documents, it must be taken as proven that our Baku comrades, who had quitted the political arena

 p. 268 

voluntarily and were on thier way to Petrovsk as evacuees, actually were shot without trial by the cannibals from "civilized" and "humane" Britain.

In the "civilized" contries it is customary to talk about Bolshevik terror and Bolshevik atrocities, and the Anglo-French imperialists are usually depicted as foes of terror and shooting. But is it not clear that the Soviet Government had never dealt with its opponenets so foully and basely as the "civilized" and "humane" British, and that only imperialist cannibals who are corrupt to the core and devoid of all moral integrity need to resort to murder by night, to criminal attacks on unarmed political leaders of the opposing camp? If there are any who sitll doubt this, let them read the documents we print below and call things by their proper names.

When the Baku Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries invited the British to Baku and betrayed the Bolsheviks, thye thought they would be able to "use" the British "guests" as a force; they believed that they would remain the masters of the country and the "guests" would eventually go back home. Actually, the reverse happened: it was the "guests" that became the absolute masters, while the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks became direct accessories to the foul and villainous murder of the 26 Boshevik commissars. And the Socialist-Revolutionaries were compelled to go into opposition, cautiously exposing their new mssters, while the Mensheviks are compelled to advocate in their Baku newspaper [Footnote: Iskra (Spark) - a newspaper published by the Menshevik Committee in Baku from November 1918 to April 1920] a bloc with the Bolsheviks against the "welcome guests" of yesterday.

Is it not clear that the alliance of the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks with the agents of imperialism is an "alliance" of slaves and menials with thier masters? If there are still any who doubt this, let them read the "conversation" between General Thomson and Mr.Chaikin reproduced below and honestly say whether Mr. Chaikin resembles a master, and General Thomson a "welcome guest".

Izvestia No. 85,
April 23, 1919.
Signed J.Stalin.



p. 268   


[Footnote: 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.]

 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

p. 269

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 barge­loads 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.

 p. 270                          

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.                              

Written May 25, 1919  

First published in the symposium Documents on the Heroic Defence of Petrograd in 1919, Moscow, 1941 



[Footnote: Succumbing to the counter-revolutionary agitation of white guards connected with the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, the garrisons of Krasnya Gorka and Seraya Loshad, two forts near Petrograd, mutinied against the Soviet Government on June 13 1919. That day, on J.V.Stalin’s orders, vessels of the Baltic Fleet put out to sea to take action against the mutineers., At the same time a Coastal Army Group , with marine detachments as its core, was formed in Oranienbaum. On June 14, J.V.Stalin arrived in Oranienbaum, and conferred with representatives of the naval and army commands and commanders and commissars of units and detachments. The plan he proposed for the capture of Krasnaya Gorka by a simultaneous blow from sea and land was adopted. The attack was launched on June 15 by the Coastal Group and other units, supported by vessels of the Baltic Fleet, the operation being personally directed by J.V.Stalin from the battle lines. The mutineers were overwhelmed at the approaches to Kranaya Gorka, and at 0.30 am on June 16 the fort was captured. Seraya Loshad was taken a few hours later]

 Following the capture of Krasnaya Gorka, Seraya Loshad has been taken. Their guns are in perfect order. A rapid check of all the forts and fortresses is under way.            

Naval experts assert that the capture of Krasnaya Gorka from the sea runs counter to naval science. I can only deplore such so-called science. The swift capture of Gorka was due to the grossest interference in the operations by me and civilians generally, even to the point of countermanding orders on land and sea and imposing our own.                          

I consider it my duty to declare that I shall continue to act in this way in future, despite all my reverence for science.                  

June 16, 1919                  
First published In Pravda, No. 301, December 21, 1929


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