Date: March 19, 1937
Source: Speeches and Articles pp. 86-88, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1938
First Published: Mundo Obrero,
Transcription/HTML Markup/Proofreading: The Rust Belt School, August 2014
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2014). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
Several months ago, in the very heat of the struggle against the fascists, when many still thought it possible to win the war without creating a regular, disciplined and united army, when all calculations were based upon enthusiasm, luck, and the courage and heroism of our fighters, the Communist Party formed the 5th Regiment.
Tens of thousands of heroes on all fronts spoke of the discipline, organization and sense of responsibility which the Communist Party had managed to instill into the men who had mustered under the standard of the 5th Regiment.
At that same time, when the foundations of the future regular army were being laid, we issued and carried into effect the slogan for the development of political work at the front, in the front lines and behind the lines.
The Party mustered a veritable galaxy of enthusiasts, who together with comrades from other political parties, have performed splendid work, full of heroism and self-sacrifice. At first they were called political delegates, but the political delegates were very soon transformed into political commissars. That wonderful film, We From Kronstadt, which has played so exceptional a part in the education of our fighters, has also showed its what the political commissar ought to be.
We are able to declare with pride that our political commissars—members of the Communist Party—have always stood at the head of the fighters.
Where there was nobody to inspire our fighting men and to train them politically, the communist commissars appeared, bringing the love for the Party, the discipline and the heroic example of the commissar of Kronstadt. They were the first to attack and the last to retreat; they know how to fight and they know how to die.
Remember Diegas, who was killed a few days ago on the Madrid front. Remember his heroic exploit, when during an enemy attack he was the first to leave the trenches, singing the International; he inspired all his comrades, advanced with them against the enemy and achieved victory when frightful defeat had seemed inevitable—Remember Comrade Anton, the political commissar in the battle of Carabanchel. Remember Jaime, who fell on the Sierra front. Remember Puente, the hero of Cerro Rojo, and many, many others, whose example and heroism have covered the institution of commissars with honour and glory.
There are some who talk about partisanship, always casting this accusation at our Party. Do you know what partisanship means, what we understand by partisanship?
Partisanship means the ability to sacrifice oneself in the way the commissars of all trends are sacrificing themselves, dying in the performance of their duty.
Partisanship consists in being the first to attack and the last to retreat; in being able, to organize when everybody around has lost his head; in finding the right slogans for every situation; in being able to subordinate everything to the exigencies of war.
And it is quite clear that we are all sowing partisanship—some more than others. And we are all reaping the fruits of our labours. That is quite logical.
The respect of the masses, as expressed in their approval of a definite policy, is won by deeds.
Do you know how many commissars perished on the Madrid front? I will tell you—the figures are far more eloquent than any words, than any speeches and articles.
Killed: communists—21; socialists—1; members of the United Youth League—7; members of the League of Left Republican Youth—1; members of the Republican League—1; others—1.
Wounded: communists—31; members of the United Youth League—1; socialists—3.
There you have the figures, figures which should say a lot to people who only know how to deny.
Commissars, commissar heroes, who on all fronts are holding aloft the banner of our Party, the banner of all parties, of all organizations of the People's Front!
We dip our banners before you with pride, banners which your valour and devotion have covered with glory.
Brave commissars who have fallen in battle! By sacrificing your lives you have assisted the development and growth of the revolutionary forces that are fighting fascism in defence of the democratic republic, the forces that have mustered beneath the standard of the People's Front, which will win and will create a great, free and happy Spain.
Proclaiming eternal memory to the commissars who have sacrificed their lives laying a splendid path to the victory of our cause, we today salute those who are continuing their labours—the commissars of the various political trends on all the anti-fascist fronts, and those comrades who are helping them in their work.
In suffering and sacrifice, you are all helping to mould the spirit of the People's Army, an army that knows neither caste nor hatred, an army that knows no privilege, an army of the people and for the people, an army capable of performing miraculous deeds.