Paul Dukes.

Red dusk and the morrow; adventures and investigations in red Russia online

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name and patronymic.

"Vasili Petrovitch," I said one day, "what made
you join the Red army?"

"You think we have any option?" he retorted. "If
an officer doesn't want to be shot he either obeys the
mobilization order or flees from the country. And
only those can afford to take flight who have no fam-
ily to leave behind." He drew a bulky pocket-book
from his pocket, and fumbling among the mass of
dirty and ragged documents, unfolded a paper and
placed it before me. "That is a copy of a paper
I was made to fill in and sign before being given a
Red commission. We all have to sign it, and if you
were discovered here I should have signed away my
wife's life as well as my own."

The paper was a typewritten blank, on which first
the name, rank in the old army, present rank, regi-
ment, abode, etc., had to be filled in in detail. Then
followed a space in which the newly mobilized officer
gave an exhaustive list of his relatives, with their ages,
addresses, and occupations; while at the bottom, followed
by a space for signature, were the following words:
I hereby declare that I am aware that in the event of
my disloyalty to the Soviet Government, my relatives
.shall be arrested and deported.

Vasili Petrovitch spread out his hands, shrugging
bis shoulders.










t> s



-3

0)




The author and the Colonel of the Polish Women's Death

Battalion on the Polish front. August, 1920. One week
later she and her entire staff were killed by the Reds. The
battalion numbered 250 women



THE RED ARMY 227

"I should prefer to see my wife and my little
daughters shot," he said, bitterly, "rather than that
they be sent to a Red concentration camp. I am
supposed to make my subordinates sign these declara-
tions, too. Pleasant, isn't it? You know, I suppose,"
he added, "that appointment to a post of any responsi-
bility is now made conditional upon having relatives
near at hand who may be arrested?" (This order
had been published in the press.) "The happiest
thing nowadays is to be friendless and destitute, then
you cannot get your people shot. Or else act on the
Bolshevist principle that conscience, like liberty, is a
'bourgeois prejudice.' Then you can work for No. 2
Gorohovaya and make a fortune."

Not only my commander but most of the men in
my unit talked like this amongst themselves, only
quietly, for fear of Bolshevist spies. One little fellow
who was drafted into the regiment was uncommonly
outspoken. He was a mechanic from a factory on the
Yiborg side of the city. His candour was such that I
suspected him at first of being a 'provocateur, paid
by the Bolsheviks to speak ill of them and thus unmask
sympathizers. But he was not that sort. One day I
overheard him telling the story of how he and his
fellows had been mobilized.

"As soon as we were mobilized," he said, "we were
chased to all sorts of meetings. Last Saturday at the
Narodny Dom [the biggest hall in Petrograd] Zin-
oviev spoke to us for an hour and assured us we were to
fight for workmen and peasants against capitalists,
imperialists, bankers, generals, landlords, priests, and
other bloodsucking riff-raff. Then he read a resolution
that every Red soldier swears to defend Red Petrograd



228 RED DUSK AND THE MORROW

to the last drop of blood, but nobody put up his hand
except a few in the front rows who had, of course, been
put there to vote 'for.' Near me I heard several men
growl and say, 'Enough ! we aren't sheep, and we know
what sort of freedom you want to use us as cannon
fodder for.' Son of a gun, that Zinoviev!" ex-
claimed the little man, spitting disgustedly; "next
day — what do you think? — we read in the paper that
ten thousand newly mobilized soldiers had passed a
resolution unanimously to defend what Zinoviev and
Lenin call the 'Workers' and Peasants' Government'!"
Few people ventured to be so outspoken as this,
for everybody feared the four or five Communists who
were attached to the regiment to eavesdrop and
report any remarks detrimental to the Bolsheviks.
One of these Communists was a Jew, a rare occurrence
in the rank and file of the army. He disappeared when
the regiment was moved to the front, doubtless having
received another job of a similar nature in a safe spot
in the rear. The only posts in the Red army held in
any number by Jews are the political posts of com-
missars. One reason why there appear to be so many
Jews in the Bolshevist administration is that they
are nearly all employed in the rear, particularly in
those departments (such as of food, propaganda,
public economy) which are not concerned in fighting.
It is largely to the ease with which Jewish Bolsheviks
evade military service, and the arrogance some of
them show toward the Russians whom they openly
despise, that the intense hatred of the Jew and the
popular belief in Russia that Bolshevism is a Jewish
"put-up" are due. There are, of course, just as many
Jews who oppose the Bolsheviks, and many of these



THE RED ARMY 229

are lying in prison. But this is not widely known,
for like Russian anti-Bolsheviks they have no means
of expressing their opinions.



Leo Bronstein, the genius of the Red army, now
universally known by his more Russian-sounding
pseudonym of Trotzky, is the second of the triumvi-
rate of "Lenin, Trotzky, and Zinoviev," who guide
the destinies of the Russian and the World revolution.
That the accepted order of precedence is not "Trotzky,
Lenin, and Zinoviev" must be gall and wormwood to
Trotzky 's soul. His first outstanding characteristic
is overweening ambition; his second — egoism; his
third — cruelty; and all three are sharpened by intel-
ligence and wit of unusual brilliancy. According
to his intimate associates of former days, his nature
is by no means devoid of cordiality, but his affections
are completely subordinated to the promotion of
his ambitious personal designs, and he casts off friends
and relatives alike, as he would clothing, the moment
they have served his purpose.

A schoolmate, prison-companion, and political col-
league of Trotzky, Dr. Ziv, who for years shared
his labours both openly and secretly, travelled with
him to exile, and was associated with him also in
New York, thus sums up his character:

"In Trotzky 's psychology there are no elements
corresponding to the ordinary conceptions of brutal-
ity or humanity. In place of these there is a blank .
. . Men, for him, are mere units — hundreds, thous-
ands, and hundreds of thousands of units — by means
of which he may satisfy his Wille zur Macht, Whether



230 RED DUSK AXD THE MORROW

this end is to be achieved by securing for those multi-
tudes conditions of supreme happiness or by merci-
lessly crushing or exterminating them, is for Trotzky
an unessential detail, to be determined not by sym-
pathies or antipathies but by the accidental circum-
stances of the moment."*

The same writer throws some interesting light on
how Bronstein chose his pseudonym. His present
assumed name of "Trotzky" was that of the senior
jailer of the Tsarist prison-house at Odessa, where
Bronstein and Dr. Ziv were incarcerated. The latter
describes this jailer as "a majestic figure, leaning
on his long sabre and with the eagle eye of a field-
marshal surveying his domain and feeling himself
a little tsar."f The motive impelling Trotzky to use
a pseudonym is peculiar. "To call himself Bron-
stein would be once and for all to attach to himself
the hated label designating his Jewish origin, and this
was the very thing that he desired everyone to forget
as quickly and thoroughly as possible." This esti-
mation is the more valuable in that the writer, Dr. Ziv,
is himself a Jew.

The creation and control of a huge militarist machine
has hitherto afforded full and ample scope for the exercise
of Trotzky 's superhuman energy and indomitable will.
Regarding the Russian peasants and workers as cattle
and treating them as such, he naturally strove at an
early date, by coercion or by flattering and alluring
inducements, to persuade the trained Tsarist officer
staff, with whose technical knowledge he could not
dispense, to serve the Red flag. The ideas of a "demo-

♦Trotzky, by Dr. G. A. Ziv, New York "Xarodopravsto," 1921, p. 93.
\lbid, p. 26.



THE RED ARMY 231

cratic army" and "the arming of the entire proletariat"
the demand for which, together with that for the
constituent assembly, had served to bring Trotzky
and his associates to power, were discarded the moment
they had served their purpose.

The same measures were introduced to combat
wholesale robbery and pillage — an inevitable phenome-
non resulting from Bolshevist agitation — as were
employed by the Tsarist army, and with even greater
severity. Soldiers' committees were soon suppressed.
The "revolutionary" commanders of 1918, untrained
and unqualified for leadership, were dismissed and
supplanted by "specialists" — that is, officers of the
Tsarist army, closely watched, however, by carefully
selected Communists.

The strength of the Red army now undoubtedly
lies in its officer staff. As the indispensability of
expert military knowledge became more and more
apparent, the official attitude toward Tsarist officers,
which was one of contempt and hostility as bourgeois,
became tempered with an obvious desire to conciliate.
The curious phenomenon was observable of a ribald
Red press, still pandering to mob-instincts, denounc-
ing all Tsarist officers as "counter-revolutionary swine,"
while at the same time Trotzky, in secret, was tenta-
tively extending the olive branch to these same "swine,"
and addressing them in tones of conciliation and even
respect. Officers were told that it was fully understood
that, belonging to "the old school," they could not
readily acquiesce in all the innovations of the "pro-
letarian" regime, that it was hoped in course of time
they would come to adapt themselves to it, and that
if in the meantime they would "give their knowledge



232 RED DUSK AXD THE MORROW

to the revolution" their services would be duly recog-
nized.

"We found it difficult to believe it was Trotzky
talking to us," an officer said to me after the extra-
ordinary meeting of commissars and naval special-
ists of the Baltic fleet, at which Trotzky abolished
the committee system and restored the officers' author-
ity. My friend participated at the meeting, being a
high official in the admiralty. "We all sat round the
table in expectation, officers at one end and the Com-
munist commissars at the other. The officers were
silent, for we did not know why we had been called,
but the commissars, all dressed in leathern jerkins,
sprawled in the best chairs, smoking and spitting, and
laughing loudly. Suddenly the door opened and
Trotzky entered. I had never seen him before and
was quite taken aback. He was dressed in the full
uniform of a Russian officer with the sole exception
of epaulettes. The dress did not suit him, but he
held himself erect and leaderlike, and when we all
stood to receive him the contrast between him and
the commissars, whom he himself had appointed,
was striking. When he spoke we were thunder-
struck — and so were the commissars — for turning
to our end of the table he addressed us not as 'Com-
rades' but as 'Gentlemen,' thanked us for our services,
and assured us he understood the difficulties, both
moral and physical, of our situation. Then he suddenly
turned on the commissars and to our amazement
poured forth a torrent of abuse just such as we are
accustomed nowadays to hear directed against our-
selves. He called them .skulking slackers, demanded
to know why they dared sit in his presence with their



THE RED ARMY 233

jerkins all unbuttoned, and made them all cringe like
dogs. He told us that the ship committees were
abolished; that thenceforward the commissars were
to have powers only of political control, but none in
purely naval matters. We were so dumbfounded
that I believe, if Trotzky were not a Jew, the officers
would follow him to a man!"

The position of officers was grievous indeed, especially
of such as had wives and families. Flight with their
families was difficult, while flight without their families
led to the arrest of the latter the moment the officer's
absence was noted. Remaining in the country their
position was no better. Evasion of mobilization or a
default in service alike led to reprisals against their
kith and kin. Trotzky's approaches were not an effort
to make them serve — that was unavoidable — but to
induce them to serve well. Alone his persuasions
might have availed little. But with the passage of time
the bitter disappointment at continued White fail-
ures, and growing disgust at the effect of Allied inter-
vention, coming on top of constant terror, drove many
to desperate and some to genuine service in the Red
ranks, believing that only with the conclusion of war
(irrespective of defeat or victory) could the existing re-
gime be altered. I believe that the number of those
who are genuinely serving, under a conviction that the
present order of things is a mere passing phase, is con-
siderably larger than is generally supposed outside
Russia.

One of the most pitiable sights I have ever witnessed
was the arrest of women as hostages because their men-
folk were suspected of anti-Bolshevist activities. One
party of such prisoners I remember particularly because



234 RED DUSK AND THE MORROW

I knew one or two of the people in it. They were all
ladies, with the stamp of education and refinement —
and untold suffering — on their faces, accompanied by
three or four children, who I presume had refused to be
torn away. In the hot summer sun they tracked
through the streets, attired in the remnants of good
clothing, with shoes out at heel, carrying bags or parcels
of such belongings as they were permitted to take with
them to prison. Suddenly one of the women swooned
and fell. The little party halted. The invalid was
helped to a seat by her companions, while the escort stood
and looked on as if bored with the whole business. The
guards did not look vicious, and were only obeying orders.
When the party moved forward one of them carried the
lady's bag. Standing beneath the trees of the Alexander
Garden I watched the pitiful procession, despair im-
printed on every face, trudge slowly across the road and
disappear into the dark aperture of No. 2 Gorohovaya.

Meanwhile their husbands and sons were informed
that a single conspicuous deed on their part against the
White or counter-revolutionary armies would be
sufficient to secure the release of their womenfolk, while
continued good service would guarantee them not only
personal freedom, but increased rations and non-moles-
tation in their domiciles. This last means a great deal
when workmen or soldiers may be thrust upon you
without notice at any time, occupying your best rooms,
while you and your family are compelled to retire to a
single chamber, perhaps only the kitchen.

Such duress against officers showed an astute under-
standing of the psychology of the White armies. A
single conspicuous deed for the Bolsheviks by an officer
of the old army was sufficient to damn that officer for



THE RED ARMY 235

ever in the eyes of the Whites, who appeared to have no
consideration for the sore and often hopeless position in
which those officers were placed. It was this that
troubled my commander after his accidental destruc-
tion of the right bridge. I am told that General Brusi-
lov's son was shot by Denikin's army solely because he
was found in the service of the Reds. The stupidity of
such conduct on the part of the Whites would be in-
conceivable were it not a fact.

The complete absence of an acceptable programme
alternative to Bolshevism, the audibly whispered threats
of landlords that in the event of a White victory the
land seized by the peasants should be restored to its
former owners, and the lamentable failure to understand
that in the anti-Bolshevist war politics and not military
strategy must play the dominant role, were the chief
causes of the White defeats. This theory is borne out
by all the various White adventures, whether of Kol-
chak, Denikin, or Wrangel, the course of each being,
broadly speaking, the same. First the Whites advanced
triumphantly, and until the character of their regime
was realized they were hailed as deliverers from the
Red yoke. The Red soldiers deserted to them in hordes
and the Red command was thrown into consternation.
There was very little fighting considering the vast
extent of front. Then came a halt, due to incipient
disaffection amongst the civil population in the rear.
Requisitioning, mobilization, internecine strife, and
corruption amongst officials, differing but little from the
regime of the Reds, rapidly alienated the sympathies of
the peasantry, who revolted against the Whites as they
had against the Reds, and the position of the White
armies was made untenable. The first sign of yielding



236 RED DUSK AND THE MORROW

at the front was the signal for a complete reversal of
fortune. In some cases this process was repeated more
than once, the final result being a determination on
the part of the peasantry to hold their own against
Red and White alike.

Most Russian emigres now admit not only that war-
ring against the so-called Soviet Republic has served
above all else to consolidate the position of the Bolshe-
vist leaders, but also that the failure of the anti-
Bolsheviks was due largely to their own deficient ad-
ministration. But there are many who continue to lay
the blame on anyone's shoulders rather than their own,
and primarily upon England — a reproach which is not
entirely unjustified, though not for quite the same
reason as these critics suppose. For while the Allies and
America all participated in military intervention, it
was England who for the longest time, and at greatest
cost to herself, furnished the counter-revolution with
funds and material. Her error and that of her associates
lay in making no effort to control the political, i. e., the
most important, aspect of the counter-revolution.
England appeared to assume that the moral integrity of
Kolchak, Denikin, and Wrangel, which has never been
called in question by any serious people, was a gauge
of the political maturity of these leaders and of the gov-
ernments they brought into being. Herein lay the
fundamental misjudgment of the situation. The gulf
that yawns between the White leaders and the peasan-
try is as wide as that between the Communist party
and the Russian people. Not in Moscow, but in the
camps of the White leaders were sown the seeds of the
disasters that befell them, and this was apparent neither
to England nor to any other foreign power.



THE RED ARMY 237

By the end of 1919 the higher military posts in the
Red army, such as those of divisional-, artillery-, and
brigade-commanders, were held almost exclusively by
former Tsarist generals and colonels. The Bolsheviks
are extremely proud of this fact, and frequently boast
of it to their visitors. These officers are treated with
deference, though as known anti-Bolsheviks they are
closely watched, and their families are granted consider-
able privileges.

In lower ranks there is a predominance of "Red"
officers, turned out from the Red cadet schools where
they are instructed by Tsarist officers. Few of the Red
cadets are men of education. They are, however, on
the whole, strong supporters of the soviet regime. But
civilians and even private soldiers also find their way by
good service to positions of high responsibility, for the
Red army offers a field for advancement not, as in the
White armies, according to rank, "blood," or social
standing, but primarily for talent and service. Merit is
the only accepted standard for promotion. Common
soldiers have become expert regimental commanders,
artillery officers, and cavalry leaders. In many cases
the formerly unknown opportunities which are now
offered them make of such people convinced supporters
of the present regime, of whose courage and determina-
tion there can be no doubt. Granted that the individ-
ual, whatever his real political convictions, signs on as a
member of the Communist party, any clever adventurer
who devotes his talent to the Red army can rise to great
heights and make for himself a brilliant career. Had
the Russian people really been fired by revolutionary
enthusiasm or devotion to their present rulers, the Red
army would, under the system introduced by Trotzky,



238 RED DUSK AND THE MORROW

have rapidly become not merely a formidable but an
absolutely irresistible military force.



But the Russian people are not and never will be fired
by enthusiasm for the Communist revolution. As long
as the White armies were permeated by the landlord
spirit there was indeed an incentive to defend the land,
an incentive exploited to the full by the Bolsheviks in
their own favour. I witnessed a striking instance of
this on the northwest front. One of the generals of the
WTiite army operating against Petrograd issued an order
to the peasant population to the effect that "this year
the produce of the land might be reaped and sold by
those who had sown and tilled it [that is, by the peas-
ants who had seized it], but next year the land must be
restored to its rightful owners [that is, the former
landlords]." Needless to say, the effect was suicidal,
although this same general had been welcomed upon his
advance three weeks before with unprecedented rejoic-
ings. Moreover, this particular order was republished
by the Bolsheviks in every paper in Soviet Russia and
served as powerful propaganda amongst the peasant
soldiers on every front.

In November, 1920, 1 talked to soldiers fresh from the
Red ranks in the northern Ukraine. I found peasants,
who were willing enough to join insurgents, feared to
desert to Wrangel's army. Asked why they had not
deserted on the southern front, they replied with deci-
sion and in surprising unison: " Rangelya baimsya"',
which was their way of saying: "We are afraid of Wran-
gel." And this in spite of Wrangel's much-vaunted
land law, which promised the land to the peasants.



THE RED ARMY 239

But behind Wrangel they knew there stood the land-
lords.

But the first campaign of the Red army against a non-
Russian foe, Poland, which did not threaten the peas-
ants' possession of the land, resulted in complete collapse
at the very height of Red power. And this is the more
significant in that quite an appreciable degree of anti-
Polish national feeling was aroused in Russia, especially
amongst educated people, and was exploited by the
Bolsheviks to strengthen their own position. But there
was one striking difference between the Red and the
Polish armies, which largely accounted for the outcome
of the war. Badly officered as the Poles were by in-
competent, selfish, or corrupt officers, the rank and file
of the Polish army was fired even in adversity by a spirit
of national patriotism unseen in Europe since the
first days of the Great War. It only required the draft-
ing in of a few French officers, and the merciless weeding
out of traitors from the Polish staff, to make of the
Polish army the formidable weapon that swept the Red
hordes like chaff before it. In the Red army, on the
other hand, the situation was precisely the reverse.
The Reds were officered by commanders who were either
inspired by anti-Polish sentiment, or believed, as the
Communist leaders assured them, that the revolution-
ary armies were to sweep right across Europe. But the
rank and file were devoid of all interest in the war.
Thus they only advanced as long as the wretchedly led
Poles retreated too rapidly to be caught up, and the
moment they met organized resistance the Russian
peasants either fled, deserted, or mutinied in their own
ranks.

The Polish victory effectually dispelled the myths of



240 RED DUSK AND THE MORROW

peasant support of the revolution and the invincibility
of the Red army, but beyond that it served no useful
purpose as far as Russia is concerned. Rather the con-
trary, for by temporarily aligning Russian intellectuals
on the side of the Communists it served even more than
the civil wars to consolidate the position of the Soviet
Government.

The terror that prevails in the Red army, and which is,
when all is said and done, the measure most relied upon
by the Soviet Government to ensure discipline, leads
at times to extraordinary and apparently inexplicable
episodes. In September, 1920, 1 witnessed the retaking
of the fortress of Grodno by the Poles. As I watched


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