THE DEATH OF A RED REGIMENT
Interview of Mr. N. Shiffrin with the editor of a military paper of the Counter-Revolutionary army of the North. Published in the anti-Bolshevik daily Der Tag, September 7, 1919:
"As you know the Bolsheviks changed the names of the old regiments. The Moscow troops have 'K.L.' on their shoulder straps---the initials of Karl Liebknecht. We captured one of these regiments and they were tried. The trial at the White front is brief, Every soldier is examined, and if he admits that he is a Communist he is immediately sentenced to death by hanging or shooting. The Reds are well aware of this.
"Lieutenant K. approached the captured regiment and said: 'Those of you who are true Communists show yourselves courageous and step forward! A painfully oppressive interval. . . . Slowly in closed ranks over half of the regiment steps forward. They are sentenced to be shot. But before being shot they must dig their own graves.
"It is twilight. The air is full of the odor of fragrant northern flowers. The green dome of the village church is seen, surrounded by sleepy poplars. Peasants, women, children and soldiers crowd on the field, huddling together like sheep in a storm.
"The condemned are told to take off their clothes. The front is poor and their uniforms are needed by the Whites. In order to save the clothes from being soiled with blood or torn by bullets the prisoners are ordered to undress before they are shot. Slowly the Communists take off their shirts, and tying their clothes together in a bundle, they put them aside.
"They stand there in the field, freezing, and in the moonlight their skin appears extremely white, almost transparent. Each of them is given a pick-axe and they begin digging large common graves. The dew is falling like a mild drizzle and there is a tear in every eye. The naked Communists keep on digging. It is getting darker and darker. There is a chaos of restlessly moving limbs. It is hard to distinguish the naked from the dressed.
"At last the graves have the necessary depth. The condemned sigh from weariness. Many throw themselves on the soft wet ground and rest. It is their last repose. Only now I notice that many have bandages around their feet. They have already been wounded in the struggle.
"Lieutenant K. asks them to state their last wish. Two take thin rings off their fingers and give them to the Lieutenant. The others have no wishes to make, altho every one of them has a home, a wife, children, relatives. I ask one of them 'What made a Communist of you?'
"He replies: 'The accursed life! The world needs happiness.'
"The firing squads are holding their rifles ready to shoot. The naked Communists take their positions close to one another, forming a white wall in the moonlight . . . . There is a command, a flash and the sound of rifles . . . . The Communists are still standing erect. A second volley rings out. The bullets strike home in their hearts, thick blood stream leap into space. Some are only slightly wounded. And in the fraction of a second before the soldiers shoot again, I hear deep sickening groans. Volley follows volley. Now those who are still alive cry out: 'Ho there, take better aim!' One points to his heart, crying, 'Aim here!'
"Finally, all are dead. Some are lying near the edge of the graves, others have fallen into them. It is all over. Nothing disturbs the quiet."
THE TRAIN OF DEATH
This is part of the diary of Mr. Rudolph Bukely, a Red Cross worker, formerly a banker in Honolulu. It reveals the conditions following Allied Intervention in Siberia, and shows the atrocities of White Terrorists against Bolsheviks and even innocent people. It is abbreviated from the American Red Cross Magazine of April 1919 which says: "Propriety has demanded the exclusion of much that is unprintable."
"It is the eighteenth day of November, 1918. I am at Nikolsk-Ussurisk in Siberia. In the past two days I have seen enough misery to fill a life-time. I will try to set down in my own manner what I have seen.
"I have seen, through the windows of box-cars forty animals who once were human men, women and children; faces glared at me which I could not recognize as human beings. They were like beasts' faces, of a species unknown to man. Stark madness and terror stared from their eyes, and over all the unmistakable signs of death.
A soldier of the Red Army captured by the Whites.
He confesses he is a Communist and is bound to a stake to be shot.
Some of the Bolshevik prisoners on the Train of Death,
2,000 of whom were shot, starved, or frozen to death.
"I have seen the dead lying along the roadside, and fifty or sixty men fighting like dogs for pieces of bread thrown to them by the sympathetic poor people of Nikolsk. . . .
"This 'train of death.' for by that name all Eastern Siberia now knows it, left Samara about six weeks ago in charge of Russian officers. It had on board at that time 2,100 prisoners of all sorts.
"Since that day 800 of these wretches have died from starvation, filth, and disease. There were, as near as we could count, 1,325 men, women, and children penned up in these awful cars yesterday.
"It seems a wicked thing to say, but the thought has surely come to me that to kill these people painlessly would require perhaps three dollars' worth of poison or ten dollars' worth of ammunition; and yet for weeks this train of fifty cars has been wandering, driven on from station to station, every day a few more corpses being dragged out. Many of these people have been in box-cars for five weeks in their original clothing. There are from 35 to 40 in a box-car, measuring say 25 by 11 feet, and the doors have seldom been open save to drag out the bodies of the dead, or some woman who might better be. I have climbed into these cars at night with my flashlight. I have seen men with the death rattle in their throat, half naked, with lice and vermin visible on them; others just lying in a semi-unconscious stupor; and others with the whining grin of imbeciles, holding out their hands for a few cigarettes or kopecks, chuckling with glee like apes upon being given them.
"The Russian officer in charge of the train has made inconsistent statements about the reasons why these people have been subjected to such awful deprivation and abuse. He tries to make the best story of it possible. . . . Often for days at a time there has been no one to give them even bread. Were it not for or the kindness of the poor villagers who, with tears running down their cheeks, give them what little they can afford, they would be absolutely without nourishment.
"It is impossible to tell in print the story of the unfortunate women imprisoned here. They are treated better than the men. You all know why. In one car are 11 women. On the inside of the car hangs a piece of string. On it are four pairs of stockings owned by these 11 women. The floor is covered with refuse and filth. There are no means of cleaning it, neither brooms nor buckets. They have not taken off their clothing for weeks, All around the sides of the cars run two rows of planks, on which the inmates sleep at night and sit hunched up by day. If there ever is any official food for the prisoners, these women get the first pick and their physical condition is much better.
"Since we arrived a cooking car has been put on the train, with a large iron kettle, and yesterday the guards claim to have given the prisoners a little soup. One kettle for 1,325 people, and soup passed through a window a foot by a foot and a half, by means of an old rusty can! Yesterday one of the women was taken out by a Russian officer. He will return her when the train pulls out. . . . As we walked past the train, a man hailed us from one of the cars and the guards were told that there were dead inside. We insisted on the door being opened and this is what we saw:
"Lying right across the threshold was the body of a boy. No coat, merely a thin shirt, in such tatters that his whole chest and arms were exposed; for trousers a piece of jute bag pinned around him, and no shoes or stockings. What agony that boy must have suffered in the Siberian cold before he died of filth, starvation, and exposure!
"And yet 'diplomacy' prevents us from taking charge and giving aid. But we are holding the train!
"We climbed into the car and found two other dead lying on the second tier of bunks amongst the living. Nearly every man was sunken-eyed, gaunt, and half clad. They were racked by terrible coughing. They had the stamp of death on them. If aid does not come quickly they will die. We looked into a few cars only, but at one window we saw a little girl perhaps eleven years old. Her father, she said, had been mobilized into the Red Guard. So now father, mother, and child are on that train and will die there. Dr. Rosett is one of the most beautiful characters that I have ever known. When I saw him in the car talking to these poor wretches and trying to comfort them, I could not help thinking of the Good Physician and how He, too, labored among the maimed, the halt and the blind.
". . . . It is a strange thing that they all look at you with an expression sorrowful in the extreme, but never with a trace of bitterness. Suffering seems to have destroyed in them the power to express anger. I have visited the train at least ten times and I have never as yet seen any expression of any kind pass over the faces of these poor, tortured, dumb creatures.
"I went into the hospital last night. Fourteen were lying on the filthiest straw imaginable. Three of them turned their dull eyes on me, recognized the Red Cross uniform and got upon their poor worn knees. One of them, an old man of sixty, had a silver crucifix hanging around his neck. They sobbed soundless, body-racking sobs, and said in Russian, 'May God and Jesus Christ bless you and keep you for what you have done for us! We felt absolutely repaid for all our work of these days, during which time I have not bathed or shaved, nor had my clothes off, for I have dropped exhausted on my bed when I have finished transcribing my notes, and it was time to sleep. . . .
"There is no use disguising the fact that these people are nearly all going to die, for as soon as the train shall have pulled out the old conditions will return and there will be once more the corpses thrown out day by day."
Mr. Bukely's prophecy that the death train would still be a death train was fulfilled. It went on over the Trans-Siberian, first west then east, back and forth, driven from town to town, the authorities at each place refusing to allow the prisoners to be taken out of the train or the train to remain within its jurisdiction.
On and on, days and nights, weeks running into months, the wretched company ever dwindling as death takes its cruel and incessant toll. [This was but one of many trains of death run by the anti-Bolshevist governments.]
THE BURIAL OF YANISHEV
The Moscow Izvestia of July 15, 1920, says:
"On July 13 the Moscow proletariat buried Comrade Mikhail Petrovich Yanishev under the Kremlin wall. The first speaker, the Chairman of the Moscow Soviet, L. B. Kamanev said:
"Of the many men who gave all to the cause of the working-class, Comrade Yanishev was one of the truest. Wherever there was call for an honest, brave and energetic man, Yanishev was sent. Recently he was appointed Chairman of the Moscow Revolutionary Tribunal. He was ordered to leave that responsible post and sent to the front against Denikin. On the way to the Western front he was ordered to the defense of South Russia from the bands of Wrangel. Tho wounded in the shoulder he did not leave his place in the front lines, but continued leading his division forward until the treacherous hand of a White Guard brought him down with a bayonet. He is dead. But the cause for which Comrade Yanishev gave his life will not die. His blood was not spilt in vain. Many others will carry on the struggle and bring it to a victorious finish!
"Comrade Likhachev spoke and the ceremony ended with a salute of three guns."
A BOLSHEVIK CIRCULAR FOR BRITISH SOLDIERS
Why have you volunteered to come to Russia?
Why? Is it that you like war so much? Do you enjoy this rolling in mud and blood? Do you get satisfaction from seeing mangled bodies, and wrecked towns and villages? You claim to be the representatives of a civilized race! Is this how you propose to bring civilization into Russia?
Or is it that you feared being out of work and came to Russia as a form of employment? Were you tempted by the increased pay and extra rations? If that is so, it is strange employment for men who have just finished a war for "lasting peace."
Does it not strike you that what you are getting for your work is sheer Blood Money? It is the kind of work that cutthroats, blackguards, thieves and hooligans undertake to do for money. If these are the reasons for which you came, it is not much use appealing to your reason and humanity. The only argument that we can effectively use against you is the bullet and bayonet, and you will find that the Red Army will give you all you want of that. You will find your job "soft" enough when you find yourself sucked in the mud, in the marshes and forests of Northern Russia.
We cannot believe, however, that the majority of you volunteered for these reasons. Probably you were induced by the lies circulated by the capitalist press about the anarchy and terror prevailing in Russia. Probably you have been induced to believe that Bolsheviks are devils, who must be destroyed in order that the peace of the world may be secured. If that is so, we are convinced that when you learn the truth about Russia, you too will refuse to be the executioners of the Russian people, just like the British troops you replaced in the Caucasus, and the French and foreign troops in other parts who have refused.
There is no anarchy in Russia except that which the capitalist governments of the Allies are creating by invading Russia. Youare not allaying anarchy, you are creating it. You are not bringing order in a country which is accused of disturbing the peace of the world, you are commencing a new war.
You are simply the tools of the capitalists and landlords in your countries who have sent you here to "punish" the Russian workers and peasants for having dared to revolt against their oppressors. The Russian Soviet Republic is a Workers' and Peasants' Republic. The land and the wealth of Russia now belong to the working-people of Russia. You have been brought here to overthrow the power of the workers and restore Czarism, landlordism and capitalism. Your governments are officially supporting the Czarist officers, Kolchak and Denikin, with arms and money for the avowed purpose of restoring the old régime. And you are not merely helping, you are doing this.
Without your aid, the counter-revolution in Russia would have been suppressed long ago, the civil-war would have been ended and order restored. And the Russian people would have long ago had the opportunity of developing their agriculture and industry.
Volunteers! You are workingmen too. What interests have you in fighting for the gang of Russian counter-revolutionaries and international capitalists? As workingmen, your business should be to support your fellow-workers in those places where they succeed in taking power, for the victory of the workers in one country is a step toward the emancipation of the workers in all countries.
In fighting the Russian workers, you are Scabbing; your fellow-workers at home, knowing the real reason of your being sent here, are preparing for a general strike against intervention in Russia. In continuing to do the work of your government, you are Scabbing on your fellow workers at home.
Comrades! it is dirty work you are doing. Have the courage to pitch it. Do not let it be said that English workingmen were so mean and contemptible as to suppress their own fellow-workers for the sake of a little extra money and food.
Comrades! Do not be scabs. Stand by your clan in the great world movement for the emancipation of labor.
YESTERDAY AND TODAY
BY MAXIM GORKY
Yesterday was the day of the Great Falsehood---the last day of its power.
For ages, man has, spider-like, thread by thread, diligentlywoven the strong cobweb of a cautious philistine life, impregnating it more and more with falsehood and greed. Man fed on the flesh and blood of his fellow men. The means of production were used to oppress men,---this cynical falsehood was regarded as immutable truth.
And yesterday this road brought mankind to the madness of the great World War. In the red glow of this nightmare the ugly nakedness of this old falsehood was brought to light. Now we see the old world shaken to its foundations. Its hidden secrets are exposed, and today even the blind have opened their eyes and see the utter ugliness of the past.
Today is the day of reckoning for the falsehood which reigned yesterday.
The violent explosion of the people's patience has destroyed the outworn order of. life, and it cannot again be re-established in its old forms. Not all of the outworn past is annihilated, but it will be---tomorrow.
Today there is a great deal of horror, but it is all natural and comprehensible. Is it not natural that people infected by the strong poisons of the old order---alcohol and syphilis---should not be generous? Is it not natural for people to steal,---if theft was the fundamental law of yesterday? Is it not natural, that tens, hundreds, thousands of men should be killed, after being accustomed for years to kill them by millions? The seed of yesterday brings the fruit of today.
We should understand that in the midst of the dust and mud and chaos of today, there has already begun the great work of liberating mankind from the strong, iron cobweb of the past. It is as painful and difficult as the pangs of a new birth; but it is the death of the evil of yesterday, going through its last hours together with the man of yesterday.
It has so happened that the peoples marching to the decisive battle for the triumph of justice are led by the least experienced and weakest fighters,---by the Russians, a people of a backward land, a people worn out by its past more than any other people. Only yesterday the whole world looked upon them as semi-barbarians, and today, almost dying from hunger, they are marching toward victory or death with the ardor and courage of veterans.
Everyone who sincerely believes that the irresistible aspiration of mankind toward freedom, beauty, and a sensible life is not a vain dream, but that it is a real force which alone can create new forms of life, the lever which can move the world,---every honest man must recognize the universal significance of the activity now carried on by the earnest revolutionists of Russia.
The Revolution should be interpreted as a gigantic attempt to incorporate in life, the great ideas and watchwords created and enunciated by the teachers of mankind. Yesterday the Socialist thought of Europe pointed the way to the Russian people; today the Russian worker is striving for the triumph of European thought.
If the honest Russian revolutionists, few in number, surrounded by enemies and exhausted by starvation, shall be conquered, the consequences of this terrible calamity will fall heavily on the shoulders of all the working class of Europe.
The Russian worker is confident that his brothers in spirit will not permit the strangling of the revolution in Russia, that they will not permit the resuscitation of the order, which is expiring and which will disappear,---if the revolutionary thought of Europe will comprehend the great tasks of today.
Come and go with us towards the new life, whose creation we work for without sparing ourselves and without sparing anybody or anything. Erring and suffering, in the great joy of labor and in the burning hope of progress, we leave to the honest judgment of history all our deeds. Come with us to battle against the ancient order and to labor for the new. Forth to life's freedom and beauty!
DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE WORKING AND EXPLOITED PEOPLES
(Rejected by the Constituent Assembly, January 18, 1918. Accepted by the great Third Congress of Soviets, January 27, 1918.)
I. RUSSIA is declared a Republic of Workmen's, Soldiers' and Peasants' councils. The whole central and local authority rests with the Councils (Soviets). The Russian Soviet Republic is declared a free alliance of free nations and a federation of national republics.
II. With the object of removing the exploitation of man by man, of preventing the division of society into classes, of mercilessly suppressing all exploiters, of establishing a socialist organization of society and of securing the victory of Socialism in all lands, the Great. Convention (Third All-Russian Congress) makes the following declarations:
(a) With the object of realizing the socialization of land, all private property in the land is abolished, and the whole territory of the Republic is declared the property of the people and is without compensation handed over to the working population on the basis equal rights of utilization for all. All forests, natural wealth and water power of public value, all live and dead stock, model farms and agricultural stations, are declared national property.III. With the firm intention of rescuing mankind from the claws of finance, capital and of imperialism, which have flooded the earth with blood in the most criminal of all wars, the Great Convention endorses and confirms the following acts of the Soviet Commissars:
(b) As a first step towards the complete transference of factories, mines, railways, and of the means of production and distribution to the possession of the Workers' and Peasants' Republic, the decrees concerning Workmen's Control and concerning the Supreme Council of Public Economy are hereby confirmed.
(c) As one of the conditions for the emancipation of the working masses from the yoke of capitalism, the transference of all banks to the possession of the Workers' and Peasants' Soviet Republic is confirmed.
(d) With the object of removing parasitical elements of society and of securing industrial organization on a public basis, the obligation of every citizen to work is recognized.
(e) In the interests of securing the full authority of the toiling masses and of removing all possibilities of a re-establishment of the power of the exploiters, the arming of the workers, the formation of a Red Army out of workmen and peasants, and the complete disarming of the propertied classes is hereby decreed.
(a) The annulling of the Secret Treaties, the organization of fraternization between the workmen and peasants of the armies now opposing each other in the field, the conclusion at all costs of a democratic peace by the workers themselves, without annexations or indemnities, on the basis of the self-determination of nations through revolutionary means.IV. The Great Convention believes that the time is at hand for the decisive struggle with the exploiters, for whom there is now no place in the organs of government. Power must be now wholly and exclusively in the hands of the toiling masses and of their representative organs---the Soviets of Workmen's, Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies.
(b) The complete break with the barbarous policy of capitalist civilization, which establishes the power of the exploiters in a few select nations at the cost of the enslavement of hundreds of millions of the toiling masses in Asia, in the Colonies and in all small countries.
(c) The recognition of -the complete independence of Finland, the withdrawal of the Russian armies from Persia, and the right of self-determination for Armenia.
(d) The annulling of the loans which were concluded by the Government of the Tsar, the foreign banks and the Russian bourgeoisie, as the first blow against international bank and finance-capital.
[Dr. Wm. A. Wovschin collection]
The President of the Soviet Republic is Kalinin---not Lenin.
Kalinin is here seated in front of a village hut conferring with the peasants.
Moscow, Oct. 26th 1921---The humblest (peasant may come to ask the help or advice of Kalinin, the President of the Soviet Republic with none to bar his way.
Around him come pressing two or three score of men dressed in rough untanned sheepskin or dun-colored cloth, that hall-mark of the Russian villagers. Some are carrying a sack of food or a bed-roll, token of the long journey they made to lay their case before Kalinin.
He greets his visitors simply and talks to one after another in the same peasant dialect as theirs.
It is hard to realize that here before one's eyes is the secret of the no small Bolshevist hold on the Russian people. More than any of his colleagues, more even than Lenin, Kalinin knows what the peasants think, what they love or hate and what they want.
However impossible it is for him to appease their grievance or satisfy their requests, he contrives somehow to send them away comforted and almost contented. For the man streams magnetism in every word and gesture.
"See, now, little mother," he says persuasively to an old woman who has traveled a thousand miles to ask Kalinin that her village be let off the food tax because the harvest is only half what was estimated, "your crop is only 500 poods instead of 1,000. Then you will pay only 25 poods instead of 55 on each hundred---that is your tax.
"More than that we cannot do, for we must feed our hungry brothers on the Volga, who have no crop at all---you would not have them starve."
The old woman shakes her bead strongly and backs away with the evident feeling that somehow she has got the tax reduced 50 per cent, which will be good news for her fellow-villagers.
Next comes a young soldier who claims that as a veteran of the Polish war he should not pay a tax at all.
"But you are a man of Tula," says Kalinin, "and Tula folks, farm as well as they fight. Why, I hear Tula has the best crop in Russia. Surely you won't grudge help to hungry brothers not so clever or lucky as you?"
The soldier looks sheepish but sticks stubbornly to his point.
"This is, the first year I have been able to sow or reap my own harvest for seven years, Comrade Kalinin. Others reaped while I was fighting to defend them. Now let them pay the tax for me."
The President takes him up like a flash.
"What!" he cries, "Others worked to feed you while you were winning glory?"---he bends forward and touches the red star medal on the youngster's army overcoat---"well, now you, too, must give something to help those who need it."
This time he has struck home, The soldier flushes with pride, and, as he shakes the President's hand with a firm grip, he mutters:
"That's only fair, comrade. I will tell the rest of the soldiers of our village what you say, and all will help,"
And so it goes. An old man from Tambov and a widow from a village near Moscow get part of their tax remitted because the former is supporting a war-broken son, and the latter, five fatherless little children. And the peasants go back to Russia's myriad villages with a message of good tidings from Kalinin, the new Little Father of the people.
WALTER DURANTY, correspondent,
in the New York Times, Oct. 29th, 1921
PLACARDS AND POSTERS
Machine-guns played their part in the Revolution. But a bigger part was played by the printing-presses. The Soviet waged a mighty battle with ink as well as lead. Every crisis, every important event, produced its corresponding placard or poster. They were pasted on walls and kiosks---one on top of the other---in some places 20 and 30 deep. Arranged in order, they would tell a complete story: The History of the Revolution in Posters from the Walls of Petrograd and Moscow.
Six of these posters appear in the foregoing text. Five more are printed in the following pages. (On the left hand page, a facsimile of the original Russian; on the right hand page, in English.)
1. TO ALL WORKERS OF PETROGRAD. An appeal to celebrate the success of the November Revolution-not by strikes and demonstrations, but by quietness and work.
2. THE COMMISSION ON PUBLIC EDUCATION. The Bolsheviks had the majority in the newly elected Petrograd Duma. They sought to arouse public sentiment in protest against the teachers' strike.
3. PRAVDA (Truth). Two half-pages of the official Bolshevik newspaper, calling the people to arms against the Germans and Japanese. In issue No. 33, February 23, the price is 25 kopecks. In issue No. 45, two weeks later, the price is 30 kopecks. The two issues show likewise the change of name in the Party. Note also the double number in the date line, "23 (10) February." By Soviet decree the old Julian calendar---13 days behind the rest of the world---was replaced by the Gregorian calendar.
4. FROM THE SAMARA FEDERATION OF ANARCHISTS. In order to blacken the Anarchists, it was said that they had declared for the Nationalization of Women. Infuriated at this slander, they put out this hot repudiation. The so-called "Decree for the Nationalization of Women," of course, had no existence anywhere in Russia. Even the most extreme groups never considered the idea. It was a monstrous canard invented by the enemies of the Revolution.
5. THE CRY FOR BREAD. This is an appeal of the cities to the peasants of the Ukraine and the Volga in 1918. Now it is this Volga region that is stricken with drouth---the worst since 1873. These peasants in turn are appealing for bread.
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