Songs of Resistance - October Revolution

Narodin December 25, 2011

A Civil War era poster depicting a Red Army soldier asking "Have you Enlisted?"

Spanning over two continents, encompassing eleven time zones, from the balmy Baltic in the west to the pristine Pacific in the east,stretching on a sixth of the earth's land surface area, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) went on to position itself as a crucial force to be acknowledged in international politics. Its genesis lay in the ten days that shook the world, the ten days of the Great October Socialist Revolution. What began as an armed insurrection in Petrograd,on November 7th 1917, upon a blank shot signal from the battleship Aurora ,went on to define the development of human history for the next seven decades. But for nearly five years (1917-1922) following the October Revolution, the Bolsheviks found themselves pitted against internal adversaries who were aided and abetted by a plethora of forces with a common goal-to snuff out the socialist state in its cradle. The establishment of the USSR was a victory hard won by the Bolsheviks by employing a combination of brute force, tact, propaganda, strategy, diplomacy and at some points, even terror.

This edition of Bodhi's songs of resistance series features Bolshevik songs of the Russian Civil War, 20 years after the fall of the USSR.


A Tachanka monument in present day Ukraine.
Image source: Wikipedia

The tachanka was a horse drawn heavy machine gun platform which saw use during the Russian Civil War. There is still dispute as to who was responsible for designing the tachanka. Some attribute it to the anarchist Nestor Makhno who fought first for and then against the Bolsheviks; while others credit it to the Bolsheviks themselves. In a war when mechanised forces were minimal or totally absent, the cavalry formed an important unit. And the tachanka mated the mobility of the cavalry with deadly effectiveness of the machine gun. The tachanka went on to see service with the Red Army well into the Second World War and was also adapted by the Nazi Wehrmacht as an anti-aircraft platform. Many times the tachankas were donated by workers of cities. Thus there were Rostovchankas (tachanka from the city of Rostov), Kievchankas (tachanka from the city of Kiev) and so on. The legacy of the tachanka with the Red Army is unquestionable-it was so successful that many Red Army commanders would,disastrously, resist replacing it with the tank. This song was written in 1936, in honour of the tachanka and the young machine gunner.

Fly away from the road o bird
Fly away quickly or you will be dead
See that cloud swirling
The horses charging fast
firing and rotating
into the crowds of enemies
His machine gun roaring to clear the fields
the young machine gunner

Ah, tachanka-the one from Rostov
You are our pride and glory
The Red Army tachanka
moves on with all four wheels rotating.

We cross the Volga and then the Don
and then onto the golden steppes
Sunburnt and dusty
the young machine gunner
raced fearlessly and free
like the mane of our wild steeds
Manes of wind, manes of smoke
Manes of storm and fire.

Ah, tachanka-the one from Kiev
You are our pride and glory
The Ukrainian tachanka
moves on with four wheels rotating

On the ground the tanks rumble,
Aircraft loop in the skies,
Around Budyonny's* tachankas
In the sky, the pilots are singing.
And the enemy still has nightmares
of the rain of thick lead
from our battle chariots,
and the young machine-gunner.

Ah, tachanka-the one from Poltava
You are our pride and glory
The machine gun tachanka
moves on with four wheels rotating!

Ty leti s dorogi, titsa,
Zver, s dorogi ukhodi!
Idish, oblako klubitsia,
Konim chatsia peredi!
I s naleta, s povorota,
Po tsepi vragov gustoy
Zastrochit iz pulemeta
Pulemetchik molodoy.

Ehkh, tachanka-rostovchanka,
Nasha gordost i krasa,
Konarmeyskaia tachanka,
se chetyre kolesa!

Ehkh, za Volgoy i za Donom
chalsia stepiu zoloto
Zagorely, zapylenny
Pulemetchik molodoy.
I neslas neuderzhimo
S grivoj ryzhego konia
Griva vetra, griva dyma,
Griva buri i ognia.

Ehkh, tachanka-kievlianka,
Nasha gordost i krasa,
Ukrainskaia tachanka,
se chetyre kolesa!

Po zemle grokhochut tanki,
Samolety petli viut,
A budennovskoy tachanke
nebe letchiki poiut.
I vragu ponyne snitsia
Dozhd svintsovy i gustoy
Boevaia kolesnitsa,
Pulemetchik molodoy.

Ehkh, tachanka-poltavchanka,
Nasha gordost i krasa,
Pulemetnaia tachanka,
se chetyre kolesa!

Tam dali za Rekoy ( Far across the broad stream)

A Soviet poster celebrating 20 years of the Komsomol

Of all the foes that the Red Army fought during the civil war, the White Army was perhaps the most formidable. Rabidly nationalist and blindly monarchist, the White Army was well supported in man and material by Britain and her allies. Known for anti-semitic pogroms and their conservative stance regarding Russian society, the White Army was the classical regressive force to the Red Army progressive one. The one emotion that held together the alliance that called itself the White Army was its anti-communist sentiment. After the civil war, white forces fled Russia and settled in various nations sympathetic to their causes. Interestingly, the Red and White Armies did join forces to combat a common enemy- the Nationalist Chinese, in 1937.That should be an indication of how confusing and turbulent the politics of those times were. Many a times, the young women and men of the Komsomol (The Young Communist's League) volunteered to perform dangerous missions during the Russian Civil war. And many a times, the casualties in such missions were high. This song is a tribute to comrades of the Komsomol who laid down their lives for the establishment of the world's first workers state.

Far, across the broad stream,
In the distance, the fires gleamed,
As the clear dawn began to fade,

Three hundred young scouts
of Budyonny's* recruits
galloped onto the fields, where their foes were waiting

They rode long and far
in the gloomy night
on those vast Ukrainian steppe

Then across the stream
They saw the bayonets gleam
of the White Guards locked like chains.

The fearless group
swooped onto the enemy
The battle was furious

Then a bold young soldier
his head sharply
for his Komosomol heart was bleeding

Onto the feet of his fearless black steed
the soldier fell
his brown eyes closing too early

You, my black steed,
Go tell the rest of our friends
How I died
with honour for the workers.

Tam, dali za rekoy,
Zasverkyali ogni,
Nebe iasnomnaria dogorala,

Sotnia unykh boytso
Iz budennovskikh voysk
Na razvedku plia poskakala.

Oni ekhali dolgo
nochnoy tishine
Po shirokoy ukrainsky stepy,

drug dali u reki
Zasverkali shtyki:
Ehto belogvardeskie tsepi.

I bez strakha otriad
Poskakal na vraga,
Zaviazalas krovavaia bitva,

I boets molodoy
drug .
ponik golovoy -
Komsomolskoe serdtse probito.

On upal vozle nog
Voronogo konia,
I zakryl svoi kariye ochi.

Ty, konek voronoy,
Pereday dorogoy,
Shto ia chestno
pogib za rabochikh.

Belaya Armiya, Chorny Baron (White Army, Black Baron)

A Civil War era abstract poster depicting a Red Army onslaught into White strongholds.

Belaya Armiya Chorny Baron is a combat song of the Red Army written by Pavel Gigoryev and composed by Samuel Pokrass in 1920. The term black baron refers to Pyotr Wrangel, one of the commanders of the White forces, who ironically dressed himself and his elite troops in black. This song talks about the superiority of the Red Army and its commitment to establish the rule of the workers. The music was later adapted for German,Austrian, Greek and Turkish workers songs.

The White Army and its Black Baron
Want us to prepare the Tsar's throne
But from the taiga to the British seas
The Red Army is unstoppable.

Comrades of the Red Army,
Keep your fists tight
Keep your bayonets ready
For we must
never fear
to fight this war to the last man!

Red army, march on ahead
led by the revolutionary war soviet
Indeed from the taiga to the British seas
The Red Army is unstoppable.

We are fanning the flames of the world
We will raze the church and the prison to the ground
Indeed from the taiga to the British seas
The Red Army is unstoppable.


Belaia armiia, chiorny baron
Snova gotoviat nam tsarski tron,
No ot taygi do britanskikh marey
Krasnaia Armiia vsekh silney.

Tak pust zhe Krasnaia
Szhimaet vlastno
Svoy shtyk mozolistoy rukoy,
I vse dolzhny my
Idti v posledniy smertnyj boj!

Krasnaia Armiia,marsh vperiod
Revvoensovet nas v boy zoviot.
Ved ot taygi do britanskikh marey
Krasnaia Armiia vsekh silney.

My razduvaem pozhar mirovoy,
Tserkvi i tiurmy sravniaem s zemlioy.

Ved ot taygi do britanskikh marey
Krasnaia Armiia vsekh silnej!


My Krasnye Kavaleristy (We are the Red Cavalry)

A civil war era poster celebrating 'the proletarians on the horseback'

The Red Cavalry refers to the Red Army's 1st Cavalry Army also called the Konarmia (Horse Army). Originally comprising of Don Cossacks, it grew into a powerful Bolshevik guerilla force under the political leadership of Kliment Voiroshilov and military leadership of Semyon Budyonny. The mythogenic invincibility of the Red Cavalry saw them fighting in fronts ranging from the Crimea to Siberia, during the Russian Civil War. Numerous Soviet military commanders such as Semyon Krivoshein, Georgy Zhukov and Andrei Grechko were members of the Red Cavalry.

We are the Red Cavalry
And storytellers
Spread the word of us -
As through bright nights
Or in stormy days
We march to battles, bold and proud

Lead us bravely into battle! Budyonny
Let thunder roll
Let the glorious fire keep burning, keep burning
We are all selfless heroes
And all our life is to fight

Budyonny-Our brother comrade
All the people are with us
Here's our order - don't feel blue and look ahead
Cause Voroshilov's with us, the first Red officer
We'll dare to shed our blood for the USSR!


My krasnye kavaleristy
I pro nas Bylinniki rechistye
Vedut rasskaz
O tom,kak v nochi yasnye
O tom, kak v dni nenastnye
My smelo i gordo v boyn idem

Vedi, Budyonny*, nas smelyee v boyn
Pustʹ grom gremit
Puskaĭ pozhar krugom, pozhar krugom
My bezzavetnye geroi vse
I vsya-to nasha zhizn yest borba

Budyonny** -nash bratishka
S nami ves narod
Prikaz - golov ne veshat i glyadet vpered
Ved s nami Voroshilov, pervy krasnayi ofitser
Sumyeem krov prolit za SSSR



*Semyon Mikhailovich Budyonny - Soviet cavalry commander
*Budyonny - a horse breed named after the cavalry commander

Russia, songs of resistance, Soviet Union, ussr, Labour, Note, World, Arts & Literature Share this Creative Commons None (All Rights Reserved)


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Looking forward to more in

Looking forward to more in the songs of resistance series. Especially, the songs linked to the protests in Greece, Spain, Occupy MOvt in the US and elsewhere