The institution of commissars is not some dogma of Marxism, nor is it a necessary part of a proletarian ‘military doctrine’: under certain conditions it was a necessary instrument of proletarian supervision, leadership and political education in the army, and for this reason it assumed enormous importance in the life of the armed forces of the Soviet republic. [3], Afraid of the consequences of trying popular generals and war heroes in a public forum, Stalin ordered the trial also be kept secret and for the defendants to be executed immediately following their court-martial. There is a clear path from Trotsky’s First World chauvinism to the imperialism expressed in paternalistic terms by the neo-conservatives. As it continues to develop, the Red Army has become and is becoming more and more similar to them in formally organisational and technical respects. He does not take the enemy’s offensive as any manifestation of a will superior to his own. 1917 (10th October) At a meeting of the Bolshevik Central Committee, Lenin called for a Bolshevik Revolution. ’God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.’ (John, 4:24). To understand Trotsky's attitude and also revisions made by Lenin in his main body of theory, it is Perhaps Solomin can at the same time name to us the universal brain he has in view? But what kind of principles are these? In the gigantic class struggle which is unfolding today, the role of armed intervention from without can have no more than concomitant, contributory, auxiliary significance. In late 1920, after the Bolsheviks won the Civil War and before the Eighth and Ninth Congress of Soviets, the Communist Party had a heated and increasingly acrimonious debate over the role of trade unions in the Soviet state. Flanks must be protected, means of communication and retreat must be secured, the blow must be struck at the enemy’s least defended point, etc. What an idealistic view of ‘education’! We tried, especially in the beginning, to make maximum possible use of the habits, usages, knowledge and means retained from the past, and we were quite unconcerned about the extent to which the new army would differ from the old, in the formally organisational and technical sense, or, on the contrary, would resemble it. Quite apart from their unscientific spirit, they try so hard to make their systems coherent and complete that they are stuffed with common-places, truisms and nonsense of every kind. Looked at in this way, ‘military doctrine’ can be said to consist of the following elements: The teaching on the organisation of the army (point 3), together with the teaching on strategy (point 4), must, obviously, constitute military doctrine in the proper (or narrow) sense of the word. We were victorious in the civil war. And what will the morrow bring? It is not difficult to imagine that the existence of a revolutionary regime in the nine [sic] provinces [Russian Poland was divided into ten provinces.] After Brest we were compelled to wage uninterrupted war against the White-Guard armies and the foreign interventionist detachments. To the good soldier nothing is of greater importance than to get a realistic picture of the ‘other side of the hill,’ unclouded by wishful thinking or emotion. The feverish development of German capitalism provided the ruling classes of Germany with the opportunity to accumulate a great deal more in material and technical values than in habits of international and military-political orientation. Akhapkin, Lawrence and Wishart, 1970, page 86. The Case of the Trotskyist Anti-Soviet Military Organization, also known as the Military Case or the Tukhachevsky Case, was a 1937 secret trial of the high command of the Red Army, a part of the Great Purge. A manoeuvre is, obviously, a complex combination of movements and blows, transfers of forces, marches and battles, with the ultimate aim of crushing the enemy. The Case of the Trotskyist Anti-Soviet Military Organization, also known as the Military Case or the Tukhachevsky Case, was a 1937 secret trial of the high command of the Red Army, … We will now prove this, in respect of each of the constituent elements in the so-called military doctrine. After analysing the experience of two outstanding moments of struggle on the French front, the newspaper says: ‘The offensive can impress only an adversary who has been bereft of his resources, or whose mediocrity is such as one never has the right to count on. [10] This proposal was, of course, incorrect: it did not correspond to the situation and the tasks formulated by the Congress itself. In actual fact, no sensible Red Army man doubts that, if we are not attacked this winter, or in the spring, we shall certainly not disturb the peace ourselves, but shall exert all our efforts to heal our wounds, taking advantage of the respite. Part Three. Tukhachevsky thought it necessary to deepen his error by printing his letter at the end of his interesting little book The War of Classes. What we need to know is, what kind of doctrine do we lack? Nobody can take this away from us. But one has to be cautious when resorting to them. In other words, the War Department must have guiding principles on which to build, educate and reorganise the army. The social soil continues, however, to be sown with mines. [clarification needed] It is notable that the forged documents were not even used by Soviet military prosecutors against the generals in their secret trial but instead relied on false confessions extorted or beaten out of the defendants. Howard and Paret translation, pages 154-155. Civil war signifies that the forces and resources of the country convulsed by revolution are divided into two; that the war is waged, especially in the initial stage, by an enterprising minority on each side, and, consequently, by more or less scanty and therefore mobile masses; and, for this reason, much more depends on improvisation and accident. Instead, he infers that Trotsky was pointing to the need to supplement purely economic data with an investigation of related social and political developments. We would tell those to whom this assertion seems too categorical to try and think of I any other historical event which would be more likely to compel the German workers and the German reactionaries to make an open trial of strength.’ (See Trotsky, Nasha Revolyutszya (Our Revolution), p.280) [5]. Questions of Military Theory Opening and Closing Speeches In the Discusion on Military Doctrine at the Military Science Society, Attached to the Military Academy of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army, November 1, 1921 [1] Transcribed and HTML markup for the Trotsky Internet Archive by David Walters. Finally, a fourth proposes that we do not forget about the use of Makhno’s tachanki. In the last analysis, however, victory was ensured by the enthusiasm and self-sacrifice of the working-class vanguard and the support given by the peasant masses. It worked under the assumption that since ‘…the working class will be compelled by the very Or is it, perhaps, impossible in the purely military sense to prepare the army both for defence and for the offensive? The organisational form of the army was to be subordinated to the revolutionary strategy of manoeuvre: corps, divisions, even brigades, were declared to be formations that were too ponderous. Assuredly, the British imperialist caste has, on the basis of empiricism, provided an example of far-flung greedy usurpation, triumphant far-sightedness and class firmness. Routinists educated in this tradition would inevitably feel quite out of place under the conditions in which we carry on our military construction. It will not be without value to quote here two striking pieces of evidence. [, The Permanent Revolution and Results and Prospects. Hence we get a German military doctrine, a French one, a Russian one, and so on. Military matters are very empirical, very practical matters. This doctrine cTntains two elements: international-political and operational-strategic. Trotsky had held this view even before 1917, and of course believed that after 1917 Russia actually had avoided capitalism. But perhaps this Germany will merely provide the impulse that will prove fatal to the present rotten semi-equilibrium and clear the way for the Germany of Liebknecht and Luxemburg? But there is no disorder, no vacillation, no disharmony. Compared with the revolutionary tasks that confront us today, the revolutionary task of the French army was much more superficial in character. This is especially clear and incontestable, let us repeat, with regard, precisely, to the strategy of manoeuvre. So, then, no question of principle is involved for us where revolutionary offensive warfare is concerned. During the first period of the revolution the Red troops generally shunned the offensive, preferring to fraternise and discuss. It is precisely in a war of manoeuvre that the distinction between defensive and offensive is wiped out to an extraordinary degree. Suvorov compared the change of leadership in the Army to the teeth of a shark: each new row is sharper than the previous one. At the present time, he concedes, we are indeed interested in peace, and will do everything to preserve it. 901 (26 October) and Part Two in WV No. Our Party’s past has taught us through long and hard experience how to apply the methods of Marxism to the most complex combination of factors and forces during this historical epoch of sharp breaks. Those who require a more solemn formula might say that the Red Army is the military embodiment of the ‘doctrine’ of the proletarian dictatorship – first, because the dictatorship of the proletariat is ensured within the Red Army itself, and, secondly, because the dictatorship of the proletariat would be impossible without the Red Army. Recognition that it was beyond the capacity of the Red Army to defend fortified positions (Tukhachevsky) sums up correctly, on the whole, the lessons of the past period, but it certainly cannot be taken as an absolute rule for the future. Instead of splitting hairs over the rephrasing of precise and clear formulations they would do better to devote themselves to explaining them through propaganda work among the young Red Army men. Leon Trotsky, in his later works, argued that while it was impossible to speak conclusively about the plot, he saw indications in Stalin's mania for involvement in every detail of Red Army organization and logistics that the military had real reasons for dissent, which may have eventually led to a plot. Armed intervention can hasten the denouément and facilitate the victory. The Whites, on the contrary, tried at that time to force offensives in order to preserve their troops from revolutionary disintegration. So far as we are concerned, we – alas! 1 A former pupil of the great Marxist philosopher Georg Lukács, Krassó (1930-86) played an active role in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and helped to initiate the Central Workers’ Council of Budapest. In September 1938, the People's Commissar for Defense, Kliment Voroshilov, reported that a total of 37,761 officers and commissars were dismissed from the army, 10,868 were arrested and 7,211 were condemned for anti-Soviet crimes. In this way the Austro-Hungarian ‘military doctrine’, basing itself on specific political suppositions, was firm in its knowledge of what enemies threatened the empire of the Habsburgs, and from one year to the next it pondered on how to cope with these enemies ‘most economically’. Our regulations and programmes need revision not from the standpoint of the doctrinaire formula of the pure offensive but from that of the experience we have had in the last four years. Within it is felt a growing and increasing need to look back over the road already travelled, to assess the results and to draw the most necessary theoretical and practical conclusions, so as to be better prepared for the morrow. In November German militarism crumbled to dust. By nobody and nowhere, because it is false to the core. Whatever problem was being discussed, Borisov would invariably raise his two fingers in order to have the opportunity to say: ‘This question can be decided only in conjunction with other questions of military doctrine, and for this reason it is first of all necessary to institute the post of Chief of the General Staff.’ From the womb of this Chief of the General Staff the tree of military doctrine would spring up, and produce all the necessary fruits, just as happened in antiquity with the daughter of the Eastern king. Instead of shouting about military doctrine, you should present us with this doctrine, demonstrate it, show us at least a particle of this military doctrine which the Red Army lacks. In many countries the Communists have been obliged to carry out important strategic retreats, renouncing the immediate fulfilment of those fighting tasks which they had only recently set themselves. Lenin and Trotsky were frenemies. [2] Let us rather approach the question historically. This is a very interesting assertion. The defects in our organisation, our backwardness and poverty, especially in the technical field, must not be erected by us into a credo; they must be eliminated by every means in our power, in an effort to approach, in this respect, the imperialist armies, which all deserve to be destroyed, but which are in some ways superior to ours: well-developed aviation, plentiful means of communication, well-trained and carefully-selected commanders, precision in calculating resources, correct mutual relations. [6]. All these truths, in this all-embracing formulation, go far beyond the limits of the art of war. On the other hand, however, there can be no doubt that military operations in the Western theatre would be far more constrained. If we turn to the countries on the continent of Europe, even in the past epoch, we find that military doctrine assumes there a far less definitive and stable character. Literary work Trotsky’s writings were not confined to the purely political. Thus, more than a decade and a half ago, we already clearly understood, in essence, ‘what kind of army and for what tasks’ we had to prepare. But the subject of war is man, who possesses certain fixed anatomical and mental traits from which are derived certain usages and habits. This formulation of the question testifies most vividly that the thinking of Solomin himself, the herald of a new military doctrine, is wholly captive to the methods and prejudices of old-time doctrinairism. This is the only sound education we must give our army, and especially its commanders. Thirty percent of officers purged during 1937 to 1939 were allowed back. The Frenchman wants nothing better than to take the offensive, whether he attacks first or second – an offensive, that is, which is properly organised. The will to action became combined with self-control. But, regarding this ‘doctrine’, the proletarian state must say the same as was said by the last congress of the International regarding the revolutionary offensive of the worker masses in a bourgeois state (the doctrine of the offensive): only a traitor can renounce the offensive, but only a simpleton can reduce our entire strategy to the offensive. This is the last of five volumes containing Trotsky’s speeches, articles and documents on the Red Army during 1918-1923, the years of civil war and bitter fighting against intervention by the imperialist armies. In military theory, he favoured the militia principle of organisation. We combined the old commanding personnel with the new, and only in this way did we achieve the needed result: the army proved capable of fighting in the service of the working class. Manoeuvring promises victory if it keeps the initiative in our hands. We advanced too lightly equipped, and the result is well known: we were thrown back. The Third Congress of the International called on the Communist Parties to prepare themselves thoroughly and perseveringly. This habit of weighing and appraising practically the most important factors and forces has been acquired by the British ruling caste thanks to the superiority of its position, on its island vantage-point, and under the conditions of a comparatively slow and planned accumulation of capitalist power. It is possible to say in advance that operations by the Red Army on the continent of Asia – if they are destined to take place there – would of necessity be profoundly manoeuvring in character. This question is of no small importance if we recognise that revolutionary wars will be fought not only on the Don and the Volga but also on the Seine, the Scheldt and the Thames. The Tribunal was presided over by Vasili Ulrikh and included marshals Vasily Blyukher, Semyon Budyonny; Army Commanders Yakov Alksnis, Boris Shaposhnikov, Ivan Panfilovich Belov, Pavel Dybenko, and Nikolai Kashirin; and Corps Commander Yelisey Goryachev. One of its sections has already passed the test of experience: another is now being tested, and is standing the test. This question we posed and settled in the Russian Marxist press quite a while ago. According to them, as regards strategy, the Red Army differs in principle from all other armies, because in our epoch of positional immobility the basic features of the Red Army’s operations are capacity for manoeuvring and aggressiveness. ’[Howard and Paret translation, page 61.]. The world situation is too complex. It is at present too early to predict at the outcome of the Washington Conference will be. Operations conducted in territory with a different national composition and more densely populated, with a higher ratio between the number of troops and the given territory, would undoubtedly make the war more positional in character and would, in any case, confine freedom to manoeuvre within incomparably narrower limits. His father was a prosperous Jewish farmer. He is only formulating poorly something old. For example, he claims that the ultimate reason why Tukhachevsky was killed is because he failed to conquer Poland during the Polish-Soviet War; despite this failure, Tukhachevsky had made a career in the party when he suppressed the Tambov rebellion. Does Solomm seriously believe that today, when immediate danger of a return of the landlords has been eliminated, and revolution in Europe still remains only a potentiality, we can rally our army of more than a million men, nine-tenths of whom are peasants, under the banner of offensive war for the purpose of bringing about the denouément of the proletarian revolution? The fundamental (class) orientation of our country, expressed by its government in matters of the economy, culture, and so on, that is, in domestic policy. How remarkably this widens our horizon! Those who can’t get along without the metaphysically tainted word ‘doctrine’ might say that, in creating the Red Army, an armed force on a new class basis, we thereby constructed a new military doctrine, for, despite the diversity of practical means and the changes in approach, there could not be, nor was there, any place in our military constructuve work either for empiricism devoid of ideas, or for subjective arbitrariness: from beginning to end, the entire work was cemented by the unity of a revolutionary class goal, by the unity of will directed toward that goal and by the unity of the Marxist method of orientation. If so, they are breaking open an already open door. But to suppose that one can, on the basis of this statement of principle, create or ‘cultivate’ an effective ideology for the Red Army under existing conditions is to fail to understand either the Red Army or these conditions. It was due precisely to this that the war, which began as one of defence, could subsequently be developed into an offensive war. How many ‘variants’ must the General Staff have? But if anyone is so bold as to assert that we do not have these principles and practical methods [3], that our collective thinking has not worked and is not at work upon them, my answer is: you are not speaking the truth, you are befuddling yourselves and others with verbiage. Defensive and offensive operations enter as variable factors into combat, especially if this involves manoeuvring. 4.The decree was issued on 15 (28, new style) January 1918. The Washington Conference provides an instructive picture in this connection. To the direct question: what should this Red Army doctrine be? Those fronts on which we stayed on the defensive and retreated were only sectors of our general ring-shaped front. Urgent does not mean aggressive, but it does mean strictly in accordance with today’s combination of international relations, and concentrating maximum forces on the task of today. It is a powerful and at the same time very subtle instrument – using it does not come easy, one has to learn how to use it. Solomin, like Borisov, needs a universal Chief of General Staff who would gather up the broken pieces of crockery, set them on the shelf and paste labels on them: variant ‘I’, variant ‘R’, and so on. From these conditions Solomin draws the conclusion that we have to ‘educate’ the Red Army in an ideology of offensive revolutionary war. The fall of the first eight generals was swiftly followed by the arrest of most of the People's Commissars, nearly all regional party secretaries, hundreds of Central Committee members and candidates and thousands of lesser CPSU officials. This fact contributed enormously to the rallying of public opinion not only among the workers and peasants but also among many elements of the bourgeois intelligentsia. In our exhausted country we are learning the soldier’s trade, arming and building a big army in order to defend ourselves against attack. In fact, the replacement of the tsarist police by armed workers' … [1], At Stalin's order, the NKVD instructed one of its agents, Nikolai Skoblin, to concoct information suggesting a plot by Tukhachevsky and the other Soviet generals against Stalin and pass it to Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the German Sicherheitsdienst intelligence arm. But precisely from this follows the not unimportant supplementary conclusion that revolutionary war, an indisputable instrument of our policy under certain conditions, can, under different conditions, lead to a result opposite to that which was intended. Let us remember this! The attempt by the German Communist Party to hasten the denouément by means of an artificial general offensive did not and could not produce the desired result. [7] In other words, Comrade Solomin wants to have, ready for mobilisation, along with a supply of army biscuits, also a supply of enthusiasm for the offensive. They must be corrected, improved, made more precise. But there is no ground for such a presupposition. The Development and Extension of Leon Trotsky's Theory of Permanent Revolution. I do not recall seeing Solomin’s signature under these reports, but his ideas were there. [citation needed]. This small-scale war was both defensive and offensive, both politically and militarily. The aim of movement is destruction of the enemy’s manpower at a distance of 100 versts or so. turn (in the building of the Red Army); it is necessary to reconsider all (!) Armed intervention is like the forceps of the obstetrician: used at the right moment it can ease the birth-pangs, but if brought into play prematurely it can only cause a miscarriage. What we lack are not magical, all-saving military formulas, but more careful, attentive, precise, vigilant and conscientious work based on those foundations which we have already firmly laid down. We must prepare for them, and, consequently, we must cultivate an offensive ‘spirit’ for future requirements. ", "M. N. Tukhachevskii i 'voenno-fashistskii zagovor,'", "The Case of the So-Called 'Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Military Organization' in the Red Army,", This page was last edited on 1 October 2020, at 03:04. For example, what is Britain’s military doctrine? The trial triggered a massive subsequent purge of the Red Army. But, in that case, our doctrinaires should aim their blows not at the War Department but at our Party and at the Communist International, for it was none other than the World Congress that, in the summer of this year, rejected the revolutionary strategy of the offensive as untimely, called on all parties to undertake careful preparatory work, and approved the defensive and manoeuvring policy of Soviet Russia as a policy corresponding to our circumstances. Comrade Varin remarks, in the journal Voyennaya Nauka i Revolyutsiya [8], that the mobility of our troops surpasses all historical precedents. It brings success when all resources of every kind have been assembled for it, and when these are superior to those possessed by the opponent, because, after all, it is always the one who is stronger at the point of combat who beats the one who is weaker.’. 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