I remember learning about Trotsky's giant armoured personal train at school and how it helped ensure he could quickly travel to different front lines and help lead the Red Army.

I was wondering if there were many sources or speculation on how much of an impact his use of the train had on the war effort?

Whether it was just kinda useful or if the quick and protective transportation aided the fight in a big way

(First question, sorry if I've messed up)

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    Welcome to History:SE. I added the link to the Wikipedia page about Trotsky's train to the question. Oct 6 '17 at 11:11

Trotsky's "giant armoured personal train" was officially the 'train of the Predrevoyensoviet’ - the train of the Chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council. During the period of the civil war from 1918 to 1920, the train was the mobile home and base of operations for Leon Trotsky, in his role as War Commissar of the government of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic.

According to Rex Winsbury, writing in History Today, the train:

"... acquired an almost mystical significance for the commanders and men of the Red Army, as it steamed into critical sectors of the fluctuating front line, bringing trained officers and specialists, fresh supplies, news of other sectors, and above all the reassuring and sometimes terrifying presence of the War Commissar himself, who harangued and inspired the slack - and sometimes had them shot."

Trotsky's War Train, History Today Volume 25 Issue 8 August 1975

or, as Trotsky wrote in his autobiography:

"during the most strenuous years of the revolution, my own personal life was bound up inseparably with the life of that train. The train, on the other hand, was inseparably bound up with the life of the Red Army. The train linked the front with the base, solved urgent problems on the spot, educated, appealed, supplied, rewarded and punished."

Trotsky: My Life, p411

It is, perhaps, worth noting however, that Jonathan Smele described Winsbury's article as:

"An insubstantial account of Trotsky's peripatetic leadership of the Red army, drawn largely from his autobiography"

  • [Smele, 2006, p174]


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    in his role as War Commissar of the government of the Soviet Union this is a bit inaccurate. The was no Soviet Union at the time (1918-1920). Probably, a more accurate designation would be War Commissar of the government of the Soviet Russia (or whatever it was being named then, I don't remember). Oct 6 '17 at 11:53
  • @user907860 Fair point. I'll just leave it as War Commissar of the government (From memory, I think the name changed during the course of the Civil War, but I can't remember the exact terminology). Oct 6 '17 at 11:57
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    @sempaiscuba: You can say "Russian Soviet republic" (as it called itself at the time), or "the Communist government". en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… Oct 6 '17 at 12:39
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    @MoisheCohen Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic was the name I couldn't remember! Thanks for the link. :) Oct 6 '17 at 12:56

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