Primary Documents - Alexei Brusilov on the Start of the Kerenski Offensive, 1 July 1917

Revolutionary Army Commander-in-Chief Alexei Brusilov Reproduced below is the text of an address given by the Russian Revolutionary Army Commander-in-Chief Alexei Brusilov dated 1 July 1917.  In his address Brusilov called his forces to arms, declaring that they could best serve the Revolution by sweeping to victory against German and Austro-Hungarian forces.

In his address Brusilov paid tribute not only to the Revolution but also to the joint architect of the Kerenski Offensive, Alexander Kerenski (shortly afterwards appointed Prime Minister, replacing Prince Georgy Lvov).

In the event the offensive, which began promisingly - 10,000 prisoners were taken on the first day alone - soon faltered with poor morale, supply difficulties and the arrival of German reserves quickly slowing progress until, in mid-July, the attack was effectively called off - finally breaking the cohesion of the army.  Its failure helped to doom the already struggling Provisional Government, paving the way for the onset of the Bolshevik October Revolution.

Click here to read Brusilov's increasingly despairing official announcements regarding progress during the offensive.  Click here to read his Chief of Staff Anton Denikin's official report into mutiny in the Russian Army.

Commander-in-Chief Alexei Brusilov's Address to the Revolutionary Army Regarding 1 July 1917 Kerenski Offensive

Since you could fight bravely and beat the enemy for the old regime, under the threat of being shot, surely you will not now hesitate and doubt as to defending our freedom and exalting our great Revolution.

Surely you do not want to justify the shameful assertion of the enemy, that freedom has undone us, that we are not worthy of it, that the Russian Revolutionary army is not a threatening force, but a weak, distracted crowd of people unworthy of freedom.

No, I know the Russian nation and the Russian soldier.  I myself am a Russian soldier, and I can answer to the Russian nation for their Fatherland.  I answer that we will fulfil our duty to the victorious end, and will attain for our Fatherland an honourable peace, crowned with the aureole of resplendent freedom, which we will guarantee to ourselves forever.

We will be ready, then, to sacrifice ourselves to defend at whatever cost that which we have won, and, where it may be necessary, to hurl ourselves upon the enemy and crush him.

Then all hail to our Mother Russia, and long may she live.  And hail to our Provisional Government, and our War Minister, Kerenski, whose hope is in us.  And I, comrade soldiers and officers, vouch for it to them that we will honourably, faithfully, and gallantly fulfil our duty.

He who advances vanquishes, but he who awaits the attack of the enemy perishes ingloriously.  To vanquish is our desire.

Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. V, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923

Duck-Boards comprised slatted wooden planking used for flooring trenches or muddy ground.

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