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Let us come back for a moment to the rôle played by Stalin during the
Many bourgeois publications place
the `creator and organizer of
the Red Army', on an equal level with
the two being responsible for
the military victory of the Bolsheviks. Stalin's contribution to the
struggle against the White Armies is generally neglected. However,
between 1918 and 1920, Stalin, who was one of the main leaders of the
Party, personally led the military struggle on many decisive fronts. At
the military level,
played no rôle.
In November 1917, the Central Committee created a smaller committee to
deal with urgent affairs; its members were
Stalin's assistant, wrote: `In the course of the
would call Stalin out an endless number of times ....
Most of the day Stalin spent with
, p. 105.
During the peace negotiations with Germany in December 1917,
Stalin, in order to preserve Soviet power, whatever the cost,
insisted on accepting the humiliating concessions imposed by Germany.
They thought that the Russian army was simply incapable of fighting.
wanted to refuse the conditions and declare
`revolutionary war'. For
this ultra-nationalist line was a trap
laid out by the bourgeoisie in order to precipitate the fall of the
Bolsheviks. During the negotiations with Germany,
`We are withdrawing our armies and our peoples from the war
... but we feel ourselves compelled to refuse to sign the peace
affirmed that there were no signs of a incipient revolution in Germany and
spectacular act was no policy. Germany again took up the
offensive and the Bolsheviks were soon forced to sign even worse peace
conditions. In this affair, the Party was on the verge of catastrophe.
, pp. 106--109.
In January 1918, the Tsarist general
Alekseev organized a volunteer army
in Ukraine and in the Don region. In February, the German Army occupied
Ukraine to `guarantee its independence'. In May 1918, thirty thousand
Czechoslovakian soldiers occupied a large part of Siberia. During the
summer, at the instigation of Winston
Great Britain, France,
the United States, Italy, and Japan, among others, intervened militarily
against the Bolsheviks.
Starting in March 1918,
was People's Commissar for War. His
task was to organize a new army of workers and peasants, led by 40,000
officers from the old Tsarist army.
, pp. 115--117.
In June 1918, the North Caucasus was the only important grain-growing region in
the hands of the Bolsheviks. It was threatened by
was sent to Tsaritsyn, the future Stalingrad, to ensure grain delivery.
He found complete chaos. On July 19, he wrote to
asking for military authority over the region: `I myself, without formalities,
will remove those army commanders and (c)ommissars who are ruining
Stalin was named President of the Southern War Front Council. Later,
Stalin would oppose the old Tsarist artillery general
as Commander of the South Front, and the
Commander-in-Chief, the old Tsarist colonel
, pp. 121--127.
regarded `the measures decided on by Stalin' as a model'.
, p. 157.
In October 1918, Stalin was appointed to the Military Council of the
Ukrainian Front; its task was to overthrow
set up by Germany.
In December, when the situation dramatically deteriorated in the Urals,
thanks to the advance of
reactionary troops, Stalin was sent
with full powers to put an end to the catastrophic state of the Third Army
and to purge the incompetent commissars. In his inquiry, Stalin
criticized the policies of
During the Eighth
Congress in March 1919,
was criticized by many delegates `for his
dictatorial manners, ... for his adoration of the specialists, and his
torrent of ill-considered telegrams'.
, pp. 128--129.
In May 1919, Stalin was sent once again, with full powers, to organize the
defence of Petrograd against
army. On June 4, Stalin sent a
claiming, with support from seized documents, that many
leading officers in the Red Army were working in secret for the White
, pp. 129--130.
On the Eastern Front, a bitter conflict developed between its commander,
S. S. Kamenev
(not to be confused with
L. B. Kamenev),
and the Commander-in-Chief,
The Central Committee
finally decided in favor of the former and
resignation, which was refused.
was arrested pending an
, p. 131.
In August 1919,
White Army was moving forward towards Moscow
in the Don, in Ukraine and in South Russia. From October 1919 to
March 1920, Stalin led the Southern Front and defeated
, pp. 132--133.
In May 1920, Stalin was sent to the Southwestern Front, where the Polish
armies were threatening the city of Lvov, in Ukraine, and
troops Crimea. The Poles occupied a large part of Ukraine, including
Kiev. On the Western Front,
counter-attacked, pushing back
the aggressors to the limits of Warsaw.
hoped to win the war with
reactionary Poland and a temporary Polish Soviet government was formed.
Stalin warned against such an act: `The class conflicts have not reached
the strength to break through the sense of national unity'.
, pp. 135--136.
Poorly coordinated, receiving contradictory orders,
were counter-attacked by the Polish troops on an unprotected flank and
put to flight.
To the South,
White Armies were liquidated at the end
, p. 139.
In November 1919, Stalin and
received the newly created Order of
the Red Banner for their military successes.
and the Central
Committee estimated that Stalin's merits in leading the armed struggle in
the most difficult areas equaled
in organizing and leading the
Red Army at the central level. But to make himself come out in a better
wrote: `Throughout the period of the Civil War, Stalin
remained a third-rate figure'.
An appraisal of the man and his influence
(New York: Harper & Brother Publishers, 1941), p. 333.
who is often prejudiced against Stalin, writes on this subject:
`Stalin had emerged ... as a political--military chief whose
contribution to the Red victory was second only to
had played a smaller role than his rival in the overall organization
of the Red Army, but he had been more important in providing direction
on crucial fronts. If his reputation as a hero was far below
this had less to do with objective merit than with Stalin's
lack of flair ... for self-advertisement.'
, p. 63.
In December 1919,
proposed the `militarization of economic life'
and wanted to mobilize the workers using methods he had applied for
leading the army. With this line, the railroad workers were mobilized
under military discipline. A wave of protests passed through the union
committed errors that endangered
the dictatorship of the proletariat: by his bureaucratic
harassment of the unions, he risked separating the Party from the
V. I. Lenin,
The Trade Unions, the Present Situation, and
Mistakes (30 December 1920). Collected Works
(Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1960--1970), vol. 32, pp. 19--42.
outrageous individualism, his open disdain for Bolshevik cadres,
his authoritarian style of leadership and his taste for military
discipline frightened many Party cadres. They thought that
well play the rôle of a
effecting a coup d'état
and setting up a counter-revolutionary authoritarian régime.
Next: Lenin's `Will'
Up: The young Stalin
Previous: The `socialists' and
Fri Aug 25 09:03:42 PDT 1995