Writings of Trotsky from 1917

Who Are the Traitors?

By Leon Trotsky

This article was published in the Russian-language New York newspaper Novy mir (New World) on March 22, 1917. It was published in Russian in Trotsky’s 1923 Voina i Revoliutsiia (War and Revolution), Vol 2, pp. 440-443. It is translated into English here for the first time.

We have stigmatized the war plans and intentions of the government of Guchkov and Miliukov. We have declared that the revolutionary Russian people want peace. On this account, the local reactionary newspaper Russkaia Zemlia [Russian Land] calls us Germanophiles and traitors.

The former tsarist government was Germanophilic, and it yearned for a dynastic deal with Hohenzollern against the interests of the people. To the very last day, Russkaia Zemlia served the government of Nicholas II with purely canine devotion, and if he had managed to conclude peace with Wilhelm, Russkaia Zemlia would have begun once again to lick the jackboots of the German Kaiser, as had been done before the start of the war by the entire Russian reaction made up of priests, nobles, and bureaucrats.

We both were, and remain, sworn enemies of the Romanovs and Hohenzollerns, who inflicted on the Russian and German people all the horrors of the present war. We say that the people did not want this war and do not want it now. We say that the Miliukovs deceive the world when they declare that Russian workers and peasants burn with a desire to shed their blood for Armenia, Constantinople and Galicia. We say that a genuinely Revolutionary Government of the people in Russia, inspired with a yearning for peace and for profound social transformations, would be a mortal danger for the ruling bandits in Germany, for it would call forth a revolutionary uprising of the German proletariat. And it is for this reason that Russkaia Zemlia, which now tries to act in support of the liberal imperialists, just as yesterday it was supported by the Tsarskoe Selo friends of the Kaiser, now dares to speak of our “treason.”

Hey, you there, hush! Better to hide your mugs for hire in the Black Hundreds hideaways where the rays of the revolution have never penetrated and will not do so! ...

Novy mir, 22 March 1917