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58

(1923) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen - Tema: Russia
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58 RUSSIA AND PEACE
regular economic connection between the various
countries of Europe one would lay a far more
solid foundation and obtain far better securities for
peace than by political conventions, however
advantageous their terms might be.
The immediate result of the gratis system, which
was to be introduced in all the public services,
was that the railways were inundated by hordes
of soldiers, prisoners and refugees, who got them
selves transported free from one end of Russia to
the other after Brest-Litovsk. This unchecked
migration, the political and social disturbances of
all kinds, the formation of local soviets of railway
men with their own elected railway commissaries,
who acted more or less according to their own
sweet will, the devastation wrought by the civil
war and by the advances and retreats of the armies,
and added to that the greater and greater shortage
of fuel—all these factors in combination completely
overwhelmed the system of transport.
The only means to get the railways under control
again was to place them entirely under military
management. Under Trotzky’s dictatorship an
immense effort was made to restore a little order
and to repair the ruined railways. The improve
ment of the railways was regarded as one of
the most important strategical points in the " labour
front," and it was just as good to employ the
Red Army on it as to conscript other people for
forced labour.
In spite of all efforts, however, Trotzky’s
energetic labour campaign did not succeed entirely;
the difficulties remained in part invincible.

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