Krupskaya's “Reminiscences of Lenin”

On the Eve of the Uprising

On October 7 Ilyich moved to Petrograd from Vyborg. It was decided to keep his whereabouts a strict secret, and not even the members of the Central Committee were to know his address. He was put up at Marguerite Fofanova's, in a big building on the corner of Lesnoi Prospekt, Vyborg District, tenanted almost exclusively by workers. It was a very convenient place, the family, including the servant, still being out in the country, where they had gone for the summer. Fofanova herself was an ardent Bolshevik, who ran all Ilyich's errands for him. Three days later, on October 10, Ilyich attended a meeting of the Central Committee at Sukhanova's apartment, where a resolution was adopted calling for an armed uprising. Ten members of the C.C. voted in favour of the resolution. They were Lenin, Sverdlov, Stalin, Dzerzhinsky, Trotsky, Uritsky, Kollontai, Bubnov, Sokolnikov, and Lomov. Zinoviev and Kamenev voted against it.

On October 15 a meeting of the Petrograd organization took place at Smolny (this in itself was significant). Delegates from the various districts were present, including eight from the Vyborg District. I remember Dzerzhinsky speaking in favour of an armed uprising, while Chudnovsky opposed it. The latter had been wounded at the front and his arm was in a sling. Deeply agitated, he argued that we would suffer inevitable defeat, that we should take our time about it. "Dying for the revolution is the easiest thing, but we shall only harm the cause of the revolution by letting ourselves be shot down," he said. Chudnovsky, in fact, did die for the revolution, losing his life during the Civil War. He was no phrasemonger, but his view was absolutely wrong. I do not remember the other speeches. When it was put to the vote the resolution in favour of an immediate uprising was carried by an overwhelming majority. The Vyborg delegates voted for it in a body.

Next day, the 16th, an enlarged meeting of the Central Committee was held at the offices of the Lesnoi Prospekt Sub-District Council, which was attended also by members of the Executive of the Petrograd Committee, the military organization, the Petrograd Trade-Union Council of factory committees, the Petrograd Okrug Committee and representatives of the railwaymen. Two lines were discussed at this meeting – that of the majority, who stood for an immediate uprising, and that of the minority, who were against it. Lenin's resolution was carried by an overwhelming majority of 19 votes, with 2 against and 4 abstentions. The question was decided. At a closed meeting of the Central Committee a Military Revolutionary Centre was elected.

Very few people were allowed to see Ilyich. The only ones who visited him were I, Maria Ilyinichna, and occasionally Rahja. I recall the following incident. Ilyich had sent Fofanova out on some errand; it was arranged in such cases that he was not to open the door to anyone or answer the bell. I was to knock at the door by a pre-arranged signal. Fofanova had a cousin, who attended some sort of military school. When I came that evening, I found the lad standing on the landing, his face a study. Seeing me, he said: "Someone's got into Marguerite's flat, you know." "What d'you mean?" I said. "Well, I came and rang the bell, and a man's voice answered me. Then I rang again and again, but no one answered any more." I told him a tale about Marguerite having gone to a meeting that day, and that it must have been his imagination playing him tricks. I did not calm down myself until I had seen him get on a tram and ride off. I went back and knocked in the pre-arranged manner, and when Ilyich opened the door I began to scold him. "The boy might have raised an alarm," I said. "I thought it was something urgent," Ilyich pleaded in excuse. I was running his errands, too, all the time. On October 24 he wrote a letter to the Central Committee urging the necessity of seizing power that very day. He sent Marguerite with this letter, but, without waiting for her to come back, he put on his wig and went off to Smolny. Not a minute was to be lost.

The Vyborg District was preparing for the uprising. Fifty women workers sat all night in the council office, where a woman doctor gave them instructions in first aid. In the rooms of the District Committee they were busy arming the workers; group after group came up and received weapons. But there was no one to be put down in the Vyborg District; only a colonel and several cadets who had come to have some tea at a workers' club were arrested. In the night Zhenya Yegorova and I went down to Smolny in a lorry to find out how things were going.