Trotsky’s orders for defecting Red Army officers (1918)




As the Civil War unfolded in Russia, Soviet war commissar Leon Trotsky grew frustrated with the number of high-ranking Red Army officers deserting or defecting to the Whites. In September 1918, Trotsky responded by issuing this command, dubbed ‘Special Order Number 30’:

September 30, 1918

“Cases of treacherous flight by members of the commanding apparatus into the enemy’s camp, though less frequent, are still occurring. These monstrous crimes must be stopped, without shrinking from any measures. The turncoats are betraying the Russian workers and peasants to the Anglo-French and Japanese-American robbers and hangmen.

Let the turncoats realize that they are at the same time betraying their own families: their fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, wives and children.

I order the headquarters of all the armies of the Republic, and also the district commissars, to supply by telegram to Revolutionary War Council member Aralov, lists of all the members of the commanding apparatus who have gone over to the enemy camp, with all needful data about their family situation. I entrust Comrade Aralov with the responsibility for taking, in cooperation with the appropriate institutions, the measures necessary for arresting the families of deserters and traitors.”

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