Order to the Third Red Army-First Labor Army

Leon Trotsky, Order to the Third Red Army. January 15, 19


Trotsky issued this order in his capacity as President of the Revolutionary War Council of the Republic.

 Original Source: RGVA, f. 164, op. 1, ed. khr. 7, ll. 17-19 (Butt).

The Third Red Army has fulfilled its military task. But the enemy has not been destroyed on all fronts. The hired troops of the Entente menace Soviet Russia from the west. White Guard bands still occupy Archangel. The Caucasus is as yet not liberated. For these reasons the Third Revolutionary Army remains under arms, preserves its organization, its internal unity, and its war spirit in the event of the Socialist fatherland calling it to new military feats.

But imbued with a sense of duty, the Third Revolutionary Army is eager to waste no time. During those weeks and months of respite which fell to its share, it decided to utilize all its means and forces for the economic uplift of the country. Remaining a fighting force, the terror of the enemies of the working class, it at the same time became the Revolutionary Army of Labor.

The Revolutionary War Council of the Third Army enters into the Council of the Labor Army. In this Council, the members of the Revolutionary War Council will join the representatives of the chief economic institutions of the Soviet Republic. They will secure the necessary guidance for the various spheres of economic activity.

The starving workers of Petrograd, Moscow, Ivanovo-Voznesensk, the Urals, and all the other industrial centers are in dire need of provisions. The chief task of the First Revolutionary Labor Army is the systematic collection of all surplus bread, meat, fats, and forage in the locality; the exact registration of the food provisions collected; energetic and rapid concentration and dispatch to factories and railroad stations, and loading into wagons.

Industry is in need of fuel. The most important task of the Revolutionary Labor Army is the cutting and sawing of timber, and its delivery to factories and railroad stations.

The workers in the preparation of fuel are in need of living accommodations. The Revolutionary Labor Army must build, where necessary, a number of barracks, and secure for the workers and for those who may subsequently take their places comfortable living accommodations.

Spring is approaching, the time of field work. The output of new agricultural implements of our exhausted factories is very small. But there is a great quantity of old implements in need of repair, in the possession of the peasantry. The Revolutionary Labor Army will offer its workshops and smithies, locksmiths and carpenters for the repair of agricultural machines and implements. When the field work begins the Red “Shots” and the Red cavalrymen will show that they arc able to follow the plough, to till the Soviet land.

The proletariat and the peasantry of the Urals and Siberia live and work in close connection with the worker-soldier of the Third Army. Part of the labor army, its Red soldiers, its commanders and commissars, must establish comradely relations of friendship and collaboration with all the workers.

All the members of the army, from the highest to the lowest, must bear an attitude of fraternity, and attention to the trade unions, to the local councils and to the small arid large executive committees, clearly bearing in mind that these are the organizations of the laboring masses. Work in all localities must be carried on in agreement with these latter, the army undertaking to explain to them the importance of the work which the Soviet Government has directed it to do and to appeal to them for active support of this great initiative.

It should be the first task of the Red Army to take all possible measures that in the locality of its work not a single factory should suffer from a scarcity of food. All honest Red Army soldiers who try to do as much work as a factory worker-must at the same time see that the workers obtain through the army apparatus an equal amount of food.

Untiring energy in work as in battle! All skilled workers and specialists in the army must be registered and kept ready so that the entire army machine begins work in its new field simultaneously, harmoniously, smoothly, and rapidly, without interruption or delay.

We must have an exact registration of the force that is expended and of the results that are obtained; and careful and honest control over all appliances and over material expended. Not a pound of Soviet bread, not a log of the national wood is to be left unregistered or wasted. All this must go to form the basis of the Socialist edifice.

The commanders and commissars are responsible for the work done by their men, as they are on the field of battle. Discipline is to remain as stringent as ever. It is not to be weakened even by a hairbreadth. The communist circles are to be an example of efficiency and perseverance in work.

The unity between the various parts of the army must be strictly preserved. Watchfulness must in no case be weakened. The fitness and hardness of the workers must not be relaxed.

The commanders and commissars are to send exact labor operation communiqu»s on the amount of corn gathered, loaded and transported, of the cubes of wood cut and sawed, and of all other works. These communiqu»s are to be published in the daily paper The First Labor Army with the exact mention of every regiment and every separate labor group so that the most diligent and zealous of the regiments may enjoy the respect they deserve while the backward, slovenly, and lazy ones should be made to strive to improve and rise to the level of the former.

The political department of the army is to carry on its work with redoubled energy, educating a warrior in the worker and preserving the worker in the warrior.

Hundreds of thousands of printed appeals and speeches must be distributed to make clear to the most backward of the Red Army soldiers and all the surrounding workers and peasants, the idea of the great work which the Third Army is entering upon. The Revolutionary Tribunal of the army punishes loafers, parasites, shirkers, and plunderers of the people’s property. A strict registration should be made so as to prevent all dishonest leave-taking. A deserter in work is just as dishonest and contemptible as a deserter on the field of battle. Both are to be severely punished.

Most conscious and intelligent fighters, foremost workers, revolutionary peasants, Red Army soldiers, ahead to first places! Let your untiring energy and self-sacrifice be an example to the others, enthusing them to take the same role.

Let the rear be diminished to its minimum; all superfluous men to the front line of labor!

Begin and end your work, wherever possible, with the sounds of Socialist hymns and songs, for your work is not the toil of slavery, but a supreme service to the Socialist Fatherland.

Soldiers of the Third Army, now the First Labor Army! Your initiative is indeed a great cause. The whole of Russia will become aquiver with life in response to you. This present moment the Soviet radio-telegraph is carrying to the world the great news that the Third Army by its own free will has changed into the First Labor Army. Soldier-Workers, do not put to shame the red banner!

The President of the Revolutionary War Council of the Republic.
L. Trotsky

Source: Soviet Russia. Vol. II, No. 24 (12 June 1920), pp. 592-593.

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