The Beginning of a Turn

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The results of the intense work done on the Eastern front and in the rear are already beginning to show themselves. The line of Kolchak’s advance has wavered.[1] On the Southern sector of the Eastern front we have achieved a serious success. Our position at Orenburg and at Uralsk is becoming quite secure. The Samara-Belebey line will soon be ours. The direct threat to the left bank of the Kama, at Spassk, can be regarded as having been eliminated. On the northern sector of the Eastern front the turn has not yet been achieved in forms obvious to all. On the front of the Perm army there is a temporary standstill in operations, due to the continuing impassibility of the roads and the necessary preparatory operations. True, the retreat of the adjoining army, to the South, is still going on. But this retreat has nothing in common with what we were seeing on various sectors of the Eastern front until recently. In the given case, the retreat is due to definite considerations by the command, it has been confined in advance to a definite line, and it is being carried out with all the necessary degree of planning.

A turn on the Eastern front has become apparent. The line of Kolchak’s advance has wavered, and in the South it has, under our pressure, begun to fall back towards the Urals. It would, however, be extremely light-minded and criminal to suppose that the main task has already been accomplished, that future victory is fully assured. No! Only the first step has been taken. Only a turn has been observed. And what we need is not just a turn, but a complete, decisive, crushing and (most important) rapid victory. All the work of the rear must be filled with this idea. Hurry! Hasten up reinforcements! Don’t waste a day, not a single hour! Kolchak has wavered. He must be overturned. The work must be carried through to the end. We must destroy the snake!

May 4, 1919


[Inza and Ruzayevka are stations on the line between Ryazan and Syzran, south-east and south-west, respectively, of Saransk.]

  1. Kolchak reached the apogee of his success in mid-April 1919. Only Orenburg and Uralsk remained in our hands, wedged into his dispositions and obliging him to extend his front widely. The dangerous situation on the Eastern front engaged the entire attention of the Party and of the mass of the peasants and workers in the Republic. On the Volga fortified areas were created, with incredible speed, to serve as defensive strongpoints for the front. Reinforcements were hastily brought up, divisions transferred from other fronts, and masses of Communists drafted into the units. Our first successes were won before Orenburg, to take which Kolchak had diverted two divisions of his Fourth Corps from Zlatoust. In fighting on 27th April on the river Sakimra [The river Sakimra runs into the river Ural at Orenburg.], this corps was almost completely annihilated. This defeat inflicted on the enemy enabled the command of the Eastern front to complete its concentration of a mobile group which, exploiting its favourable position on the flank in the area of Buzuluk, launched an attack towards the end of April in the general direction of Buguruslan. This was taken by our forces on May 4. Orenburg, the defence of which had been left almost entirely to its workers, beat off persistent attacks by the Whites. From that moment Kolchak began to retreat along his entire front. The further course of events can be followed from the chronology.