Central Executive Committee, Compulsory Military Training. April 22, 1918
Original Source: Sobranie uzakonenii i rasporiazhenii raboche-krestian’skogo pravitel’stva, 1918, No. 33, pp. 419-20.
One of the principal aims of socialism is to free mankind from the burdens of militarism and of bloody international war, to bring about universal disarmament and to establish a fraternal co-operation of all the races on earth. But this cannot he achieved until state authority and the means of production pass from the exploiters to the workers, who will use them for the welfare of the toilers and for the formation of a communistic society,”‘ which is the only firm foundation for the solidarity of mankind.
At the present time Russia is the only country where the workers are in possession of the government. Everywhere else the imperialistic bourgeoisie is at the head of affairs, and it aims to crush the communistic revolution and to enslave all weak nations. Being surrounded by enemies on all sides the Russian Soviet Republic must have a mighty army tinder the protection of which the reorganization of society on a communistic basis can take place.
The Workers’ and Peasants’ Government has for its immediate object the bringing about of universal labor and military service. The effort is opposed by the bourgeoisie, which is not willing to renounce its economic privileges. Through traitorous schemes and wicked plots with foreign imperialists it hopes to get back into power.
To arm the bourgeoisie would mean to introduce strife within the army and thereby weaken it in the fight against the external foes. The parasitic and exploiting elements of society are not willing, like others, to assume obligations and rights and cannot, therefore, be permitted to bear arms. The Workers’ and Peasants’ Government will find a way to make the bourgeoisie bear part of the burden of the defense of the republic which they have thrown into great adversity and distress by their criminal acts. During this approaching transitional period military training and bearing of arms will be only for the workers and those peasants who do not exploit the labor of others.
Citizens between the ages of 18 and 40, having passed the course of compulsory study, will be put on the service list. At the first call of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government it will be their duty to take up arms and fill the ranks of the Red Army, which is made up of the more loyal and self -sacrificing fighters for the freedom and independence of the Russian Soviet Republic and the International Socialist revolution.
1. Military training is compulsory for citizens of the Russian Soviet Federated Republic of the following ages: (a) School period-lower grades as determined by the People’s Commissariat of Education. (b) Preparatory period-ages 16 to 18. (c) Military service period18 to 40. Women, if they wish, may take this course on the same terms as others.
Note: Citizens who for religious reasons are opposed to bearing arms are expected to take up the study of other phases of military life.
2. The preparatory and military service periods of training are in charge of the Commissar of War; the school period is in charge of the Commissar of Education with the close co-operation of the Commissar of War.
3. Workers in factories, shops, mills, villages, and peasants who do not exploit others are subject to military training.
4. The organization of compulsory military training in the provinces falls on the (regional, guberniia, uyezd, and volost) war commissars.
5. No pay is allowed for the period of training, and the schedule of studies should be arranged so as not to interfere with regular occupation.
6. The course of training should be continuous for eight weeks and not less than twelve hours per week …
7. Persons who were formerly in the regular army may be excused from the military course after having passed successful examinations. In such cases they are given the same certificates as those who have taken the regular course.
8. Instructions should be given by qualified teachers and in accordance with the program approved by the Commissar of War.
9. Those who refuse to take the course and who are negligent in their work will be held legally responsible.
IA. SVERDLOV Chairman of the Central Executive Committee
Source: James Bunyan and H.H. Fisher, ed., Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1918; Documents and Materials (Stanford: Stanford University Press; H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1934), pp. 572-574.