John Reed

Ten Days that Shook the World

Chapter II

The Coming Storm

IN September General Kornilov marched on Petrograd to make himself military dictator of Russia. Behind him was suddenly revealed the mailed fist of the bourgeoisie, boldly attempting to crush the Revolution. Some of the Socialist Ministers were implicated; even Kerensky was under suspicion.[1] Savinkov, summoned to explain to the Central Committee of his party, the Socialist Revolutionaries, refused and was expelled. Kornilov was arrested by the Soldiers’ Committees. Generals were dismissed, Ministers suspended from their functions, and the Cabinet fell. Kerensky tried to form a new Government, including the Cadets, party of the bourgeoisie. His party, the Socialist Revolutionaries, ordered him to exclude the Cadets. Kerensky declined to obey, and threatened to resign from the Cabinet if the Socialists insisted. However, popular feeling ran so high that for the moment he did not dare oppose it, and a temporary Directorate of Five of the old Ministers, with Kerensky at the head, assumed the power until the question should be settled.

The Kornilov affair drew together all the Socialist groups—“moderates” as well as revolutionists—in a passionate impulse of self-defence. There must be no more Kornilovs. A new Government must be created, responsible to the elements supporting the Revolution. So the Tsay-ee-kah invited the popular organisations to send delegates to a Democratic Conference, which should meet at Petrograd in September.

In the Tsay-ee-kah three factions immediately appeared. The Bolsheviki demanded that the All-Russian Congress of Soviets be summoned, and that they take over the power. The “centre” Socialist Revolutionaries, led by Tchernov, joined with the Left Socialist Revolutionaries, led by Kamkov and Spiridonova, the Mensheviki Internationalists under Martov, and the “centre” Mensheviki,[1] represented by Bogdanov and Skobeliev, in demanding a purely Socialist Government. Tseretelli, Dan and Lieber, at the head of the right wing Mensheviki, and the right Socialist Revolutionaries under Avksentiev and Gotz, insisted that the propertied classes must be represented in the new Government.

Almost immediately the Bolsheviki won a majority in the Petrograd Soviet, and the Soviets of Moscow, Kiev, Odessa and other cities followed suit.

Alarmed, the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries in control of the Tsay-ee-kah decided that after all they feared the danger of Kornilov less than the danger of Lenin. They revised the plan of representation in the Democratic Conference,[2] admitting more delegates from the Cooperative Societies and other conservative bodies. Even this packed assembly at first voted for a Coalition Government without the Cadets. Only Kerensky’s open threat of resignation, and the alarming cries of the “moderate” Socialists that “the Republic is in danger” persuaded the Conference, by a small majority, to declare in favour of the principle of coalition with the bourgeoisie, and to sanction the establishment of a sort of consultative Parliament, without any legislative power, called the Provisional Council of the Russian Republic. In the new Ministry the propertied classes practically controlled, and in the Council of the Russian Republic they occupied a disproportionate number of seats.

The fact is that the Tsay-ee-kah no longer represented the rank and file of the Soviets, and had illegally refused to call another All-Russian Congress of Soviets, due in September. It had no intention of calling this Congress or of allowing it to be called. Its official organ, Izviestia (News), began to hint that the function of the Soviets was nearly at an end,[3] and that they might soon be dissolved—At this time, too, the new Government announced as part of its policy the liquidation of “irresponsible organisations”—i.e. the Soviets.

The Bolsheviki responded by summoning the All-Russian Soviets to meet at Petrograd on November 2, and take over the Government of Russia. At the same time they withdrew from the Council of the Russian Republic, stating that they would not participate in a “Government of Treason to the People.”[4]

The withdrawal of the Bolsheviki, however, did not bring tranquillity to the ill-fated Council. The propertied classes, now in a position of power, became arrogant. The Cadets declared that the Government had no legal right to declare Russia a republic. They demanded stern measures in the Army and Navy to destroy the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Committees, and denounced the Soviets. On the other side of the chamber the Mensheviki Internationalists and the Left Socialist Revolutionaries advocated immediate peace, land to the peasants, and workers’ control of industry—practically the Bolshevik programme.

I heard Martov’s speech in answer to the Cadets. Stooped over the desk of the tribune like the mortally sick man he was, and speaking in a voice so hoarse it could hardly be heard, he shook his finger toward the right benches:

“You call us defeatists; but the real defeatists are those who wait for a more propitious moment to conclude peace, insist upon postponing peace until later, until nothing is left of the Russian army, until Russia becomes the subject of bargaining between the different imperialist groups. You are trying to impose upon the Russian people a policy dictated by the interests of the bourgeoisie. The question of peace should be raised without delay. You will see then that not in vain has been the work of those whom you call German agents, of those Zimmerwaldists[2] who in all the lands have prepared the awakening of the conscience of the democratic masses.”

Between these two groups the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries wavered, irresistibly forced to the left by the pressure of the rising dissatisfaction of the masses. Deep hostility divided the chamber into irreconcilable groups.

This was the situation when the long-awaited announcement of the Allied Conference in Paris brought up the burning question of foreign policy.

Theoretically all Socialist parties in Russia were in favour of the earliest possible peace on democratic terms. As long ago as May, 1917, the Petrograd Soviet, then under control of the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries,had proclaimed the famous Russian peace-conditions. They had demanded that the Allies hold a conference to discuss war-aims. This conference had been promised for August; then postponed until September; then until October; and now it was fixed for November 10th.

The Provisional Government suggested two representatives—General Alexeyev, reactionary military man, and Terestchenko, Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Soviets chose Skobeliev to speak for them and drew up a manifesto, the famous nakaz—instructions.[5] The Provisional Government objected to Skobeliev and his nakaz; the Allied ambassadors protested and finally Bonar Law in the British House of Commons, in answer to a question, responded coldly, “As far as I know the Paris Conference will not discuss the aims of the war at all, but only the methods of conducting it.”

At this the conservative Russian press was jubilant, and the Bolsheviki cried, “See where the compromising tactics of the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries have led them!”

Along a thousand miles of front the millions of men in Russia’s armies stirred like the sea rising, pouring into the capital their hundreds upon hundreds of delegations, crying “Peace! Peace!”

I went across the river to the Cirque Moderne, to one of the great popular meetings which occurred all over the city, more numerous night after night. The bare, gloomy amphitheatre, lit by five tiny lights hanging from a thin wire, was packed from the ring up the steep sweep of grimy benches to the very roof—soldiers, sailors, workmen, women, all listening as if their lives depended upon it. A soldier was speaking—from the Five Hundred and Forty-eight Division, wherever and whatever that was:

“Comrades,” he cried, and there was real anguish in his drawn face and despairing gestures. “The people at the top are always calling upon us to sacrifice more, sacrifice more, while those who have everything are left unmolested.

“We are at war with Germany. Would we invite German generals to serve on our Staff? Well we’re at war with the capitalists too, and yet we invite them into our Government.

“The soldier says, ‘Show me what I am fighting for. Is it Constantinople, or is it free Russia? Is it the democracy, or is it the capitalist plunderers? If you can prove to me that I am defending the Revolution then I’ll go out and fight without capital punishment to force me.’

“When the land belongs to the peasants, and the factories to the workers, and the power to the Soviets, then we’ll know we have something to fight for, and we’ll fight for it!”

In the barracks, the factories, on the street-corners, end less soldier speakers, all clamouring for an end to the war, declaring that if the Government did not make an energetic effort to get peace, the army would leave the trenches and go home.

The spokesman for the Eighth Army:

“We are weak, we have only a few men left in each company. They must give us food and boots and reinforcements, or soon there will be left only empty trenches. Peace or supplies—either let the Government end the war or support the Army.”

For the Forty-sixth Siberian Artillery:

“The officers will not work with our Committees, they betray us to the enemy, they apply the death penalty to our agitators; and the counter-revolutionary Government supports them. We thought that the Revolution would bring peace. But now the Government forbids us even to talk of such things, and at the same time doesn’t give us enough food to live on, or enough ammunition to fight with.”

From Europe came rumours of peace at the expense of Russia.&…[6]

News of the treatment of Russian troops in France added to the discontent. The First Brigade had tried to replace its officers with Soldiers’ Committees, like their comrades at home, and had refused an order to go to Salonika, demanding to be sent to Russia. They had been surrounded and starved, and then fired on by artillery, and many killed.&…[7]

On October 29th I went to the white-marble and crimson hall of the Marinsky palace, where the Council of the Republic sat, to hear Terestchenko’s declaration of the Government’s foreign policy, awaited with such terrible anxiety by all the peace-thirsty and exhausted land.

A tall, impeccably-dressed young man with a smooth face and high cheek-bones, suavely reading his careful, non-committal speech.[8] Nothing. . . Only the same platitudes about crushing German militarism with the help of the Allies—about the “state interests” of Russia, about the “embarrassment” caused by Skobeliev’s nakaz. He ended with the key-note:

“Russia is a great power. Russia will remain a great power, whatever happens. We must all defend her, we must show that we are defenders of a great ideal, and children of a great power.”

Nobody was satisfied. The reactionaries wanted a “strong” imperialist policy; the democratic parties wanted an assurance that the Government would press for peace. I reproduce an editorial in Rabotchi i Soldat (Worker and Soldier), organ of the Bolshevik Petrograd Soviet:

The Government’s Answer To The Trenches

The most taciturn of our Ministers, Mr. Terestchenko, has actually told the trenches the following:

1. We are closely united with our Allies. (Not with the peoples, but with the Governments.)

2. There is no use for the democracy to discuss the possibility or impossibility of a winter campaign. That will be decided by the Governments of our Allies.

3. The 1st of July offensive was beneficial and a very happy affair. (He did not mention the consequences.)

4. It is not true that our Allies do not care about us. The Minister has in his possession very important declarations. (Declarations? What about deeds? What about the behaviour of the British fleet?[9]

The parleying of the British king with exiled counter-revolutionary General Gurko? The Minister did not mention all this.)

5. The nakaz to Skobeliev is bad; the Allies don’t like it and the Russian diplomats don’t like it. In the Allied Conference we must all ‘speak one language.’

And is that all? That is all. What is the way out? The solution is, faith in the Allies and in Terestchenko. When will peace come? When the Allies permit.

That is how the Government replied to the trenches about peace!

Now in the background of Russian politics began to form the vague outlines of a sinister power—the Cossacks. Novaya Zhizn (New Life), Gorky’s paper, called attention to their activities:

At the beginning of the Revolution the Cossacks refused to shoot down the people. When Kornilov marched on Petrograd they refused to follow him. From passive loyalty to the Revolution the Cossacks have passed to an active political offensive (against it). From the back-ground of the Revolution they have suddenly advanced to the front of the stage.

Kaledin, ataman of the Don Cossacks, had been dismissed by the Provisional Government for his complicity in the Kornilov affair. He flatly refused to resign, and surrounded by three immense Cossack armies lay at Novotcherkask, plotting and menacing. So great was his power that the Government was forced to ignore his insubordination. More than that, it was compelled formally to recognise the Council of the Union of Cossack Armies, and to declare illegal the newly-formed Cossack Section of the Soviets.

In the first part of October a Cossack delegation called upon Kerensky, arrogantly insisting that the charges against Kaledin be dropped, and reproaching the Minister-President for yielding to the Soviets. Kerensky agreed to let Kaledin alone, and then is reported to have said, “In the eyes of the Soviet leaders I am a despot and a tyrant. As for the Provisional Government, not only does it not depend upon the Soviets, but it considers it regrettable that they exist at all.”

At the same time another Cossack mission called upon the British ambassador, treating with him boldly as representatives of “the free Cossack people.”

In the Don something very like a Cossack Republic had been established. The Kuban declared itself an independent Cossack State. The Soviets of Rostov-on-Don and Yekaterinburg were dispersed by armed Cossacks, and the headquarters of the Coal Miners’ Union at Kharkov raided. In all its manifestations the Cossack movement was anti-Socialist and militaristic. Its leaders were nobles and great land-owners, like Kaledin, Kornilov, Generals Dutov, Karaulov and Bardizhe, and it was backed by the powerful merchants and bankers of Moscow.

Old Russia was rapidly breaking up. In Ukraine, in Finland, Poland, White Russia, the nationalist movements gathered strength and became bolder. The local Governments, controlled by the propertied classes, claimed autonomy, refusing to obey orders from Petrograd. At Helsingfors the Finnish Senate declined to loan money to the Provisional Government, declared Finland autonomous, and demanded the withdrawal of Russian troops. The bourgeois Rada at Kiev extended the boundaries of Ukraine until they included all the richest agricultural lands of South Russia, as far east as the Urals, and began the formation of a national army. Premier Vinnitchenko hinted at a separate peace with Germany—and the Provisional Government was helpless. Siberia, the Caucasus, demanded separate Constituent Assemblies. And in all these countries there was the beginning of a bitter struggle between the authorities and the local Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.

Conditions were daily more chaotic. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers were deserting the front and beginning to move in vast, aimless tides over the face of the land. The peasants of Tambov and Tver Governments, tired of waiting for the land, exasperated by the repressive measures of the Government, were burning manor-houses and massacring land-owners. Immense strikes and lock-outs convulsed Moscow, Odessa and the coal-mines of the Don. Transportation was paralysed; the army was starving and in the big cities there was no bread.

The Government, torn between the democratic and reactionary factions, could do nothing: when forced to act it always supported the interests of the propertied classes. Cossacks were sent to restore order among the peasants, to break the strikes. In Tashkent, Government authorities suppressed the Soviet. In Petrograd the Economic Council, established to rebuild the shattered economic life of the country, came to a deadlock between the opposing forces of capital and labour, and was dissolved by Kerensky. The old régime military men, backed by Cadets, demanded that harsh measures be adopted to restore discipline in the Army and the Navy. In vain Admiral Verderevsky, the venerable Minister of Marine, and General Verkhovsky, Minister of War, insisted that only a new, voluntary, democratic discipline, based on cooperation with the soldiers’ and sailors’ Committees, could save the army and navy. Their recommendations were ignored.

The reactionaries seemed determined to provoke popular anger. The trial of Kornilov was coming on. More and more openly the bourgeois press defended him, speaking of him as “the great Russian patriot.” Burtzev’s paper, Obshtchee Dielo (Common Cause), called for a dictatorship of Kornilov, Kaledin and Kerensky!

I had a talk with Burtzev one day in the press gallery of the Council of the Republic. A small, stooped figure with a wrinkled face, eyes near-sighted behind thick glasses, untidy hair and beard streaked with grey.

“Mark my words, young man! What Russia needs is a Strong Man. We should get our minds off the Revolution now and concentrate on the Germans. Bunglers, bunglers, to defeat Kornilov; and back of the bunglers are the German agents. Kornilov should have won.”

On the extreme right the organs of the scarcely-veiled Monarchists, Purishkevitch’s Narodny Tribun (People’s Tribune), Novaya Rus (New Russia), and Zhivoye Slovo (Living Word), openly advocated the extermination of the revolutionary democracy.

On the 23rd of October occurred the naval battle with a German squadron in the Gulf of Riga. On the pretext that Petrograd was in danger, the Provisional Government drew up plans for evacuating the capital. First the great munitions works were to go, distributed widely throughout Russia; and then the Government itself was to move to Moscow. Instantly the Bolsheviki began to cry out that the Government was abandoning the Red Capital in order to weaken the Revolution. Riga had been sold to the Germans; now Petrograd was being betrayed!

The bourgeois press was joyful. “At Moscow,” said the Cadet paper Ryetch (Speech), “the Government can pursue its work in a tranquil atmosphere, without being interfered with by anarchists.” Rodzianko, leader of the right wing of the Cadet party, declared in Utro Rossii (The Morning of Russia) that the taking of Petrograd by the Germans would be a blessing, because it would destroy the Soviets and get rid of the revolutionary Baltic Fleet:

Petrograd is in danger (he wrote). I say to myself, “Let God take care of Petrograd.” They fear that if Petrograd is lost the central revolutionary organisations will be destroyed. To that I answer that I rejoice if all these organisations are destroyed; for they will bring nothing but disaster upon Russia.

With the taking of Petrograd the Baltic Fleet will also be destroyed. But there will be nothing to regret; most of the battleships are completely demoralised. . . .

In the face of a storm of popular disapproval the plan of evacuation was repudiated.

Meanwhile the Congress of Soviets loomed over Russia like a thunder-cloud, shot through with lightnings. It was opposed, not only by the Government but by all the “moderate” Socialists. The Central Army and Fleet Committees, the Central Committees of some of the Trade Unions, the Peasants’ Soviets, but most of all the Tsay-ee-kah itself, spared no pains to prevent the meeting. Izviestia and Golos Soldata (Voice of the Soldier), newspapers founded by the Petrograd Soviet but now in the hands of the Tsay-ee-kah, fiercely assailed it, as did the entire artillery of the Socialist Revolutionary party press, Dielo Naroda (People’s Cause) and Volia Naroda (People’s Will).

Delegates were sent through the country, messages flashed by wire to committees in charge of local Soviets, to Army Committees, instructing them to halt or delay elections to the Congress. Solemn public resolutions against the Congress, declarations that the democracy was opposed to the meeting so near the date of the Constituent Assembly, representatives from the Front, from the Union of Zemstvos, the Peasants’ Union, Union of Cossack Armies, Union of Officers, Knights of St. George, Death Battalions,[3] protesting. The Council of the Russian Republic was one chorus of disapproval. The entire machinery set up by the Russian Revolution of March functioned to block the Congress of Soviets.

On the other hand was the shapeless will of the proletariat—the workmen, common soldiers and poor peasants. Many local Soviets were already Bolshevik; then there were the organisations of the industrial workers, the Fabritchno-Zavodskiye Comitieti Factory-Shop Committees; and the insurgent Army and Fleet organisations. In some places the people, prevented from electing their regular Soviet delegates, held rump meetings and chose one of their number to go to Petrograd. In others they smashed the old obstructionist committees and formed new ones. A ground-swell of revolt heaved and cracked the crust which had been slowly hardening on the surface of revolutionary fires dormant all those months. Only an spontaneous mass-movement could bring about the All-Russian Congress of Soviets.

Day after day the Bolshevik orators toured the barracks and factories, violently denouncing “this Government of civil war.” One Sunday we went, on a top-heavy steam tram that lumbered through oceans of mud, between stark factories and immense churches, to Obukhovsky Zavod, a Government munitions-plant out on the Schlüsselburg Prospekt.

The meeting took place between the gaunt brick walls of a huge unfinished building, ten thousand black-clothed men and women packed around a scaffolding draped in red, people heaped on piles of lumber and bricks, perched high upon shadowy girders, intent and thunder-voiced. Through the dull, heavy sky now and again burst the sun, flooding reddish light through the skeleton windows upon the mass of simple faces upturned to us.

Lunatcharsky, a slight, student-like figure with the sensitive face of an artist, was telling why the power must be taken by the Soviets. Nothing else could guarantee the Revolution against its enemies, who were deliberately ruining the country, ruining the army, creating opportunities for a new Konilov.

A soldier from the Rumanian front, thin, tragical and fierce, cried, “Comrades! We are starving at the front, we are stiff with cold. We are dying for no reason. I ask the American comrades to carry word to America, that the Russians will never give up their Revolution until they die. We will hold the fort with all our strength until the peoples of the world rise and help us! Tell the American workers to rise and fight for the Social Revolution!”

Then came Petrovsky, slight, slow-voiced, implacable: “Now is the time for deeds, not words. The economic situation is bad, but we must get used to it. They are trying to starve us and freeze us. They are trying to provoke us. But let them know that they can go too far—that if they dare to lay their hands upon the organisations of the proletariat we will sweep them away like scum from the face of the earth!”

The Bolshevik press suddenly expanded. Besides the two party papers, Rabotchi Put and Soldat (Soldier), there appeared a new paper for the peasants, Derevenskaya Byednota (Village Poorest), poured out in a daily half-million edition; and on October 17th, Rabotchi i Soldat. Its leading article summed up the Bolshevik point of view:

The fourth year’s campaign will mean the annihilation of the army and the country. There is danger for the safety of Petrograd. Counter-revolutionists rejoice in the people’s misfortunes. The peasants brought to desperation come out in open rebellion; the landlords and Government authorities massacre them with punitive expeditions; factories and mines are closing down, workmen are threatened with starvation. The bourgeoisie and its Generals want to restore a blind discipline in the army. Supported by the bourgeoisie, the Kornilovtsi are openly getting ready to break up the meeting of the Constituent Assembly.

The Kerensky Government is against the people. He will destroy the country. This paper stands for the people and by the people—the poor classes, workers, soldiers and peasants. The people can only be saved by the completion of the Revolution—and for this purpose the full power must be in the hands of the Soviets.

This paper advocates the following: All power to the Soviets—both in the capital and in the provinces.

Immediate truce on all fronts. An honest peace between peoples.

Landlord estates—without compensation—to the peasants.

Workers’ control over industrial production.

A faithfully and honestly elected Constituent Assembly.

It is interesting to reproduce here a passage from that same paper—the organ of those Bolsheviki so well known to the world as German agents:

The German Kaiser, covered with the blood of millions of dead people, wants to push his army against Petrograd. Let us call to the German workmen, soldiers and peasants, who want peace not less than we do, to—stand up against this damned war!

This can be done only by a revolutionary Government, which would speak really for the workmen, soldiers and peasants of Russia, and would appeal over the heads of the diplomats directly to the German troops, fill the German trenches with proclamations in the German language. Our airmen would spread these proclamations all over Germany.

In the Council of the Republic the gulf between the two sides of the chamber deepened day by day.

“The propertied classes,” cried Karelin, for the Left Socialist Revolutionaries, “want to exploit the revolutionary machine of the State to bind Russia to the war-chariot of the Allies! The revolutionary parties are absolutely against this policy.”

Old Nicholas Tchaikovsky, representing the Populist Socialists, spoke against giving the land to the peasants, and took the side of the Cadets: “We must have immediately strong discipline in the army. Since the beginning of the war I have not ceased to insist that it is a crime to undertake social and economic reforms in war-time. We are committing that crime, and yet I am not the enemy of these reforms, because I am a Socialist.”

Cries from the Left, “We don’t believe you!” Mighty applause from the Right.

Adzhemov, for the Cadets, declared that there was no necessity to tell the army what it was fighting for, since every soldier ought to realise that the first task was to drive the enemy from Russian territory.

Kerensky himself came twice, to plead passionately for national unity, once bursting into tears at the end. The assembly heard him coldly, interrupting with ironical remarks.

Smolny Institute, headquarters of the Tsay-ee-kah and of the Petrograd Soviet, lay miles out on the edge of the city, beside the wide Neva. I went there on a street-car, moving snail-like with a groaning noise through the cobbled, muddy streets, and jammed with people. At the end of the line rose the graceful smoke-blue cupolas of Smolny Convent outlined in dull gold, beautiful; and beside it the great barracks like façade of Smolny Institute, two hundred yards long and three lofty stories high, the Imperial arms carved hugely in stone still insolent over the entrance.

Under the old régime a famous convent-school for the daughters of the Russian nobility, patronised by the Tsarina herself, the Institute had been taken over by the revolutionary organisations of workers and soldiers. Within were more than a hundred huge rooms, white and bare, on their doors enamelled plaques still informing the passerby that within was “Ladies’ Class-room Number 4” or “Teachers’ Bureau”; but over these hung crudely-lettered signs, evidence of the vitality of the new order: “Central Committee of the Petrograd Soviet” and “Tsay-ee-kah” and “Bureau of Foreign Affairs”; “Union of Socialist Soldiers,” “Central Committee of the All-Russian Trade Unions,” “Factory-Shop Committees,” “Central Army Committee”; and the central offices and caucus-rooms of the political parties.

The long, vaulted corridors, lit by rare electric lights, were thronged with hurrying shapes of soldiers and workmen, some bent under the weight of huge bundles of newspapers, proclamations, printed propaganda of all sorts. The sound of their heavy boots made a deep and incessant thunder on the wooden floor. Signs were posted up everywhere: “Comrades! For the sake of your health, preserve cleanliness!” Long tables stood at the head of the stairs on every floor, and on the landings, heaped with pamphlets and the literature of the different political parties, for sale.

The spacious, low-ceilinged refectory downstairs was still a dining-room. For two rubles I bought a ticket entitling me
For The Sake Of Your Health, Preserve Cleanliness
to dinner, and stood in line with a thousand others, waiting to get to the long serving-tables, where twenty men and women were ladling from immense cauldrons cabbage soup, hunks of meat and piles of kasha, slabs of black bread. Five kopeks paid for tea in a tin cup. From a basket one grabbed a greasy wooden spoon. The benches along the wooden tables were packed with hungry proletarians, wolfing their food, plotting, shouting rough jokes across the room.

Upstairs was another eating-place, reserved for the Tsay-ee-kah— though every one went there. Here could be had bread thickly buttered and endless glasses of tea.

In the south wing on the second floor was the great hall of meetings, the former ball-room of the Institute. A lofty white room lighted by glazed-white chandeliers holding hundreds of ornate electric bulbs, and divided by two rows of massive columns; at one end a dais, flanked with two tall many-branched light standards, and a gold frame behind, from which the Imperial portrait had been cut. Here on festal occasions had been banked brilliant military and ecclesiastical uniforms, a setting for Grand Duchesses.

Just across the hall outside was the office of the Credentials Committee for the Congress of Soviets. I stood there watching the new delegates come in—burly, bearded soldiers, workmen in black blouses, a few long-haired peasants. The girl in charge—a member of Plekhanov’s Yedinstvo [4]] group—smiled contemptuously. “These are very different people from the delegates to the first Siezd (Congress),” she remarked. “See how rough and ignorant they look! The Dark People.” It was true; the depths of Russia had been stirred, and it was the bottom which came uppermost now. The Credentials Committee, appointed by the old Tsay-ee-kah, was challenging delegate after delegate, on the ground that they had been illegally elected. Karakhan, member of the Bolshevik Central Committee, simply grinned. “Never mind,” he said, “When the time comes we’ll see that you get your seats.”

Rabotchi i Soldat said:

The attention of delegates to the new All-Russian Congress is called to attempts of certain members of the Organising Committee to break up the Congress, by asserting that it will not take place, and that delegates had better leave Petrograd. Pay no attention to these lies. Great days are coming. . . .

It was evident that a quorum would not come together by November 2, so the opening of the Congress was postponed to the 7th. But the whole country was now aroused; and the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries, realising that they were defeated, suddenly changed their tactics and began to wire frantically to their provincial organisations to elect as many “moderate” Socialist delegates as possible. At the same time the Executive Committee of the Peasants’ Soviets issued an emergency call for a Peasants’ Congress, to meet December 13th and offset whatever action the workers and soldiers might take. . . .

What would the Bolsheviki do? Rumours ran through the city that there would be an armed “demonstration,” a vystuplennie—“coming out” of the workers and soldiers. The bourgeois and reactionary press prophesied insurrection, and urged the Government to arrest the Petrograd Soviet, or at least to prevent the meeting of the Congress. Such sheets as Novaya Rus advocated a general Bolshevik massacre.

Gorky’s paper, Novaya Zhizn, agreed with the Bolsheviki that the reactionaries were attempting to destroy the Revolution, and that if necessary they must be resisted by force of arms; but all the parties of the revolutionary democracy must present a united front.

As long as the democracy has not organised its principal forces, so long as the resistance to its influence is still strong, there is no advantage in passing to the attack. But if the hostile elements appeal to force, then the revolutionary democracy should enter the battle to seize the power, and it will be sustained by the most profound strata of the people. . . .

Gorky pointed out that both reactionary and Government newspapers were inciting the Bolsheviki to violence. An insurrection, however, would prepare the way for a new Kornilov. He urged the Bolsheviki to deny the rumours. Potressov, in the Menshevik Dien (Day), published a sensational story, accompanied by a map, which professed to reveal the secret Bolshevik plan of campaign.

As if by magic, the walls were covered with warnings, proclamations, [10] appeals, from the Central Committees of the “moderate” and conservative factions and the Tsay-ee-kah, denouncing any “demonstrations,” imploring the workers and soldiers not to listen to agitators. For instance, this from the Military Section of the Socialist Revolutionary party:

Again rumours are spreading around the town of an intended vystuplennie. What is the source of these rumours? What organisation authorises these agitators who preach insurrection? The Bolsheviki, to a question addressed to them in the Tsay-ee-kah, denied that they have anything to do with it. But these rumours themselves carry with them a great danger. It may easily happen that, not taking into consideration the state of mind of the majority of the workers, soldiers and peasants, individual hot-heads will call out part of the workers and soldiers on the streets, inciting them to an uprising. In this fearful time through which revolutionary Russia is passing, any insurrection can easily turn into civil war, and there can result from it the destruction of all organisations of the proletariat, built up with so much labour. The counter-revolutionary plotters are planning to take advantage of this insurrection to destroy the Revolution, open the front to Wilhelm, and wreck the Constituent Assembly. . . . Stick stubbornly to your posts! Do not come out!

On October 28th, in the corridors of Smolny, I spoke with Kameniev, a little man with a reddish pointed beard and Gallic gestures. He was not at all sure that enough delegates would come. “If there is a Congress,” he said, “it will represent the overwhelming sentiment of the people. If the majority is Bolshevik, as I think it will be, we shall demand that the power be given to the Soviets, and the Provisional Government must resign.”

Volodarsky, a tall, pale youth with glasses and a bad complexion, was more definite. “The ‘Lieber-Dans’ and the other compromisers are sabotaging the Congress. If they succeed in preventing its meeting,—well, then we are realists enough not to depend on that!”

Under date of October 29th I find entered in my notebook the following items culled from the newspapers of the day:

Moghilev (General Staff Headquarters). Concentration here of loyal Guard Regiments, the Savage Division, Cossacks and Death Battalions.

The yunkers of the Officers’ Schools of Pavlovsk, Tsarskoye Selo and Peterhof ordered by the Government to be ready to come to Petrograd. Oranienbaum yunkers arrive in the city.

Part of the Armoured Car Division of the Petrograd garrism stationed in the Winter Palace.

Upon orders signed by Trotzky, several thousand rifles delivered by the Government Arms Factory at Sestroretzk to delegates of the Petrograd workmen.

At a meeting of the City Militia of the Lower Liteiny Quarter, a resolution demanding that all power be given to the Soviets.

This is just a sample of the confused events of those feverish days, when everybody knew that something was going to happen, but nobody knew just what.

At a meeting of the Petrograd Soviet in Smolny, the night of October 30th, Trotzky branded the assertions of the bourgeois press that the Soviet contemplated armed insurention as “an attempt of the reactionaries to discredit and wreck the Congress of Soviets. The Petrograd Soviet,” he declared, “had not ordered any uystuplennie. If it is necessary we shall do so, and we will be supported by the Petrogruad garrison. They (the Government) are preparing a counter-revolution; and we shall answer with an offensive which will be merciless and decisive.”

It is true that the Petrograd Soviet had not ordered a demonstration, but the Central Committee of the Bolshevik party was considering the question of insurrection. All night long the 23d they met. There were present all the party intellectuals, the leaders—and delegates of the Petrograd workers and garrison. Alone of the intellectuals Lenin and Trotzky stood for insurrection. Even the military men opposed it. A vote was taken. Insurrection was defeated!

Then arose a rough workman, his face convulsed with rage. “I speak for the Petrograd proletariat,” he said, harshly. “We are in favour of insurrection. Have it your own way, but I tell you now that if you allow the Soviets to be destroyed, we’re through with you!” Some soldiers joined him. And after that they voted again—insurrection won. . . .[11]

However, the right wing of the Bolsheviki, led by Riazanov, Kameniev and Zinoviev, continued to campaign against an armed rising. On the morning of October 31st appeared in Rabotchi Put the first instalment of Lenin’s “Letter to the Comrades,” one of the most audacious pieces of political propaganda the world has ever seen. In it Lenin seriously presented the arguments in favour of insurrection, taking as text the objections of Kameniev and Riazonov.

“Either we must abandon our slogan, ‘All Power to the Soviets,’ ” he wrote, “or else we must make an insurrection. There is no middle course.”

That same afternoon Paul Miliukov, leader of the Cadets, made a brilliant, bitter speech[12] in the Council of the Republic, branding the Skobeliev nakaz as pro-German, declaring that the “revolutionary democracy” was destroying Russia, sneering at Terestchenko, and openly declaring that he preferred German diplomacy to Russian. The Left benches were one roaring tumult all through.

On its part the Government could not ignore the significance of the success of the Bolshevik propaganda. On the 29th joint commission of the Government and the Council of the Republic hastily drew up two laws, one for giving the land temporarily to the peasants, and the other for pushing an energetic foreign policy of peace. The next day Kerensky suspended capital punishment in the army. That same afternoon was opened with great ceremony the first session of the new “Commission for Strengthening the Republican Régime and Fighting Against Anarchy and Counter-Revolution”of which history shows not the slightest further trace. The following morning with two other correspondents I interviewed Kerensky[13] —the last time he received journalists.

“The Russian people,” he said, bitterly, “are suffering from economic fatigue—and from disillusionment with the Allies! The world thinks that the Russian Revolution is at an end. Do not be mistaken. The Russian Revolution is just beginning.” Words more prophetic, perhaps, than he knew.

Stormy was the all-night meeting of the Petrograd Soviet the 30th of October, at which I was present. The “moderate” Socialist intellectuals, officers, members of Army Committees, the Tsay-ee-kah, were there in force. Against them rose up workmen, peasants and common soldiers, passionate and simple.

A peasant told of the disorders in Tver, which he said were caused by the arrest of the Land Committees. “This Kerensky is nothing but a shield to the pomieshtchiki (landowners),” he cried. “They know that at the Constituent Assembly we will take the land anyway, so they are trying to destroy the Constituent Assembly!”

A machinist from the Putilov works described how the superintendents were closing down the departments one by one on the pretext that there was no fuel or raw materials. The Factory-Shop Committee, he declared, had discovered huge hidden supplies.

“It is a provocatzia,” said he. “They want to starve us—or drive us to violence!”

Among the soldiers one began, “Comrades! I bring you greetings from the place where men are digging their graves and call them trenches!”

Then arose a tall, gaunt young soldier, with flashing eyes, met with a roar of welcome. It was Tchudnovsky, reported killed in the July fighting, and now risen from the dead.

“The soldier masses no longer trust their officers. Even the Army Committees, who refused to call a meeting of our Soviet, betrayed us. The masses of the soldiers want the Constituent Assembly to be held exactly when it was called for, and those who dare to postpone it will be cursed—and not only platonic curses either, for the Army has guns too.”

He told of the electoral campaign for the Constituent now raging in the Fifth Army. “The officers, and especially the Mensheviki and the Socialist Revolutionaries, are trying deliberately to cripple the Bolsheviki. Our papers are not allowed to circulate in the trenches. Our speakers are arrested—”

“Why don’t you speak about the lack of bread?” shouted another soldier.

“Man shall not live by bread alone,” answered Tchudnovsky, sternly.

Followed him an officer, delegate from the Vitebsk Soviet, a Menshevik oboronetz. “It isn’t the question of who has the power. The trouble is not with the Government, but with the war. and the war must be won before any change—” At this, hoots and ironical cheers. “These Bolshevik agitators are demagogues!” The hall rocked with laughter. “Let us for a moment forget the class struggle—” But he got no farther. A voice yelled, “Don’t you wish we would!”

Petrograd presented a curious spectacle in those days. In the factories the committe-rooms were filled with stacks of rifles, couriers came and went, the Red Guard[5]drilled. In all the barracks meetings every night, and all day long interminable hot arguments. On the streets the crowds thickened toward gloomy evening, pouring in slow voluble tides up and down the Nevsky, fighting for the newspapers. Hold-ups increased to such an extent that it was dangerous to walk down side streets. On the Sadovaya one afternoon I saw a crowd of several hundred people beat and trample to death a soldier caught stealing. Mysterious individuals circulated around the shivering women who waited in queue long cold hours for bread and milk, whispering that the Jews had cornered the food supply—and that while the people starved, the Soviet members lived luxuriously.

At Smolny there were strict guards at the door and the outer gates, demanding everybody’s pass. The committee-rooms buzzed and hummed all day and all night, hundreds of soldiers and workmen slept on the floor, wherever they could find room. Upstairs in the great hall a thousand people crowded to the uproarious sessions of the Petrograd Soviet.

Gambling clubs functioned hectically from dusk to dawn, with champagne flowing and stakes of twenty thousand rubles. In the centre of the city at night prostitutes in jewels and expensive furs walked up and down, crowded the cafés.

Monarchist plots, German spies, smugglers hatching schemes.

And in the rain, the bitter chill, the great throbbing city under grey skies rushing faster and faster toward—what?


   [1] The Kornilov revolt is treated in detail in my forthcoming volume, “Kornilov to Brest-Litovsk.” The responsibility of Kerensky for the situation which gave rise to Kornilov’s attempt is now pretty clearly established. Many apologists for Kerensky say that he knew of Kornilov’s plans, and by a trick drew him out prematurely, and then crushed him. Even Mr. A. J. Sack, in his book, “The Birth of the Russian Democracy,” says:

“Several things&… are almost certain. The first is that Kerensky knew about the movement of several detachments from the Front toward Petrograd, and it is possible that as Prime Minister and Minister of War, realising the growing Bolshevist danger, he called for them….”

The only flaw in that argument is that there was no “Bolshevist danger” at that time, the Bolsheviki still being a powerless minority in the Soviets, and their leaders in jail or hiding.

 [2] Democratic Conference When the Democratic Conference was first proposed to Kerensky, he suggested an assembly of all the elements in the nation ‘the live forces,’ as he called them—including bankers, manufacturers, land-owners, and representatives of the Cadet party. The Soviet refused, and drew up the following table of representation, which Kerensky agreed to:

100 delegatesAll-Russian Soviets Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies
100 delegatesAll-Russian Soviets Peasants’ Deputies
50 delegatesProvincial Soviets Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies
50 delegatesPeasants’ District Land Committees
100 delegatesTrade Unions
84 delegatesArmy Committees at the Front
150 delegatesWorkers’ and Peasants’ Cooperative Societies
20 delegatesRailway Workers’ Union
10 delegatesPost and Telegraph Workers’ Union
20 delegatesCommercial Clerks
15 delegatesLiberal Professions—Doctors, Lawyers, Journalists, etc.
50 delegatesProvincial Zemstvos
59 delegatesNationalist Organisations—Poles, Ukraineans, etc.

This proportion was altered twice or three times. The final disposition of delegates was:

300 delegatesAll-Russian Soviets Workers’, Soldiers’ & Peasants’ Deputies
300 delegatesCooperative Societies
300 delegatesMunicipalities
150 delegatesArmy Committees at the Front
150 delegatesProvincial Zemstvos
200 delegatesTrade Unions
100 delegatesNationalist Organisations
200 delegatesSeveral small groups

 [3] On September 28th, 1917, Izviestia, organ of the Tsay-ee-kah, published an article which said, speaking of the last Provisional Ministry:

“At last a truly democratic government, born of the will of all classes of the Russian people, the first rough form of the future liberal parliamentary ré#233;gime, has been formed. Ahead of us is the Constituent Assembly, which will solve all questions of fundamental law, and whose composition will be essentially democratic. The function of the Soviets is at an end, and the time is approaching when they must retire, with the rest of the revolutionary machinery, from the stage of a free and victorious people, whose weapons shall hereafter be the peaceful ones of political action.”

The leading article of Izviestia for October 23d was called, “The Crisis in the Soviet Organisations.” It began by saying that travellers reported a lessening activity of local Soviets everywhere. “This is natural,” said the writer. “For the people are becoming interested in the more permanent legislative organs—the Municipal Dumas and the Zemstvs….

“In the important centres of Petrograd and Moscow, where the Soviets were best organised, they did not take in all the democratic elements…. The majority of the intellectuals did not participate, and many workers also; some of the workers because they were politically backward, others because the centre of gravity for them was in their Unns…. We cannot deny that these organisations are firmly united with the masses, whose everyday needs are better served by them….

“That the local democratic administrations are being energetically organised is highly important. The City Dumas are elected by universal suffrage, and in purely local matters have more authority than the Soviets. Not a single democrat will see anything wrong in this….

“&… Elections to the Municipalities are being conduct in a better and more democratic way than the elections to the Soviets&… All classes are represented in the Municipalities…. And as soon as the local Self-Governments begin to organise life in the Municipalities, the rôle of the local Soviets naturally ends….

“&… There are two factors in the falling off of interest in the Soviets. The first we may attribute to the lowering of political interest in the masses; the second, to the growing effort of provincial and local governing bodies to organise the building of new Russia…. The more the tendency lies in this latter direction, the sooner disappears the significance of the Soviets….

“We ourselves are being called the ‘undertakers’ of our own organisation. In reality, we ourselves are the hardest workers in constructing the new Russia….

“When autocracy and the whole bureaucratic règimeell, we set up the Soviets as a barracks in which all the democracy cod find temporary shelter. Now, instead of barracks, we are building the permanent edifice of a new system, and naturally the people will gradually leave the barracks for more comfortable quarters.”

 [4] Trotzky’s Speech At The Council Of The Russin Republic “The purpose of the Democratic Conference, which was called by the Tsay-ee-kah, was to do away with the irresponsible personal government which produced Kornilov, and to establish a responsible government which would be capable of finishing the war, and ensure the calling of the Constituent Assembly at the given time. In the meanwhile behind the back of the Democratic Conference, by trickery, by deals between Citizen Kerensky, the Cadets, and the leaders of the Menshevik and Socialist Revolutionary parties, we received the opposite result from the officially announced purpose. A power was created around which and in which we have open and secret Kornilovs playing leading parts. The irresponsibility of the Government is offically proclaimed, when it is announced that the Council of the Russian Republic is to be a consultative and not legislative body. In the eighth month of the Revolution, the irresponsible Government creates a cover for itself in this new edition of Bieligen’s Duma.

“The propertied classes have entered this Provision Council in a proportion which clearly shows, from elections all over the country, that many of them have no right here whatever. In spite of that the Cadet party, which until yesterday wanted the Provisional Government to be responsible to the State Duma—this same Cadet party secured the independence Assembly the propertied classes will no doubt have as favourable position than they have in this Council, and they will not be able to be irresponsible to the Constituent Assembly.

“If the propertied classes were really getting ready for the Constituent Assembly six weeks from now, there could be no reason for establishing the irresponsibility of the Government at this time. The whole truth is that the bourgeoisie, which directs the policies of the Provisional Government, has for its aim to break the Constituent Assembly. At present this is the main purpose of the propertied classes, which control our entire national policy—external and internal. In the industrial, agrarian and supply departments the politics of the propertied classes, acting with the Government, increases the natural disorganisation caused by the war. The propertied classes, which are provoking a peasants’ revolt! The propertied classes, which are provoking civil war, and openly hold their course on the bony hand of hunger, with which they intend to overthrow the Revolution and finish with the Constituent Assembly!

“No less criminal also is the international policy of the bourgeoisie and its Government. After forty months of war, the capital is threatened with mortal danger. In reply to this arises a plan to move the Government to Moscow. The idea of abandoning the capital does not stir the indignation of the bourgeoisie. Just the opposite. It is accepted as a natural part of the general policy designed to promote counter-revolutionary conspiracy. &… Instead of recognising that the salvation of the country lies in concluding peace, instead of throwing openly the idea of immediate peace to all the worn-out peoples, over the heads of diplomats and imperialists, and making the continuation of the war impossible,—the Provisional Government, by order of the Cadets, the Counter-Revolutionists and the Allied Imperialists, without sense, without purpose and without a plan, continues to drag on the murderous war, sentencing to useless death new hundreds of thousands of soldiers and sailors, and preparing to give up Petrograd, and to wreck the Revolution. At a time when Bolshevik soldiers and sailors are dying with other soldiers and sailors as a result of the mistakes and crimes of others, the so-called Supreme Commander (Kerensky) continues to suppress the Bolshevik press. The leading parties of the Council are acting as a voluntary cover for these policies.

“We, the faction of Social Democrats Bolsheviki, announce that with this Government of Treason to the People we have nothing in common. We have nothing in common with the work of these Murderers of the People which goes on behind official curtains. We refuse either directly or indirectly to cover up one day of this work. While Wilhelm’s troops are threatening Petrograd, the Government of Kerensky and Kornilov is preparing to run away from Petrograd and turn Moscow into a base of counter-revolution!

“We warn the Moscow workers and soldiers to be on their guard. Leaving this Council, we appeal to the manhood and wisdom of the workers, peasants and soldiers of all Russia. Petrograd is in danger! The Revolution is in danger! The Government has increased the danger—the ruling classes intensify it. Only the people themselves can save themselves and the country.

“We appeal to the people. Long live immediate, honest, democratic peace! All power to the Soviets! All land to the people! Long live the Constituent Assembly!”

 [5]“Nakaz” To Skobeliev


(Passed by the Tsay-ee-kah and given to Skobeliev as an instruction for the representative of the Russian Revolutionary democracy at the Paris Conference.)

The peace treaty must be based on the principle, “No annexations, no indemnities, the right of self-determination of peoples.”

Territorial Problems

(1) Evacuation of German troops from invaded Russia. Full right of self-determination to Poland, Lithuania and Livonia.

(2) For Turkish Armenia autonomy, and later complete self-determination, as soon as local Governments are established.

(3) The question of Alsace-Lorraine to be solved by a plebiscite, after the withdrawal of all foreign troops.

(4) Belgium to be restored. Compensation for damages from an international fund.

(5) Serbia and Montenegro to be restored, and aided by an international relief fund. Serbia to have an outlet on the Adriatic. Bosnia and Herzegovina to be autonomous.

(6) The disputed provinces in the Balkans to have provisional autonomy, followed by a plebiscite.

(7) Rumania to be restored, but forced to give complete self-determination to the Dobrudja…. Rumania must be forced to execute the clauses of the Berlin Treaty concerning the Jews, and recognise them as Rumanian citizens.

(8) In Italia Irridenta a provisional autonomy, followed by a plebiscite to determine state dependence.

(9) The German colonies to be returned.

(10) Greece and Persia to be restored.

Freedom of the Seas

All straits opening into inland seas, as well as the Suez and Panama Canals, are to be neutralised. Commercial shipping to be free. The right of privateering to be abolished. The torpedoing of commercial ships to be forbidden.


All combatants to renounce demands for any indemnities, either direct or indirect—as, for instance, charges for the maintenance of prisoners. Indemnities and contributions collected during the war must be refunded.

Economic Terms

Commercial treaties are not to be a part of the peace terms. Every country must be independent in its commercial relations, and must not be obliged to, or prevented from, concluding an economic treaty, by the Treaty of Peace. Nevertheless, all nations should bind themselves, by the Peace Treaty, not to practise an economic blockade after the war, nor to form separate tariff agreements. The right of most favoured nation must be given to all countries without distinction.

Guarantees of Peace

Peace is to be concluded at the Peace Conference by delegates elected by the national representative institutions of each country. The peace terms are to be confirmed by these parliaments.

Secret diplomacy is to be abolished; all parties are to bind themselves not to conclude any secret treaties. Such treaties are declared in contradiction to international law, and void. All treaties, until confirmed by the parliaments of the different nations, are to be considered void.

Gradual disarmament both on land and sea, and the establishment of a militia system. The “League of Nations” advanced by President Wilson may become a valuable aid to international law, provided that (a), all nations are to be obliged to participate in it with equal rights, and (b), international politics are to be democratised.

Ways to Peace

The Allies are to announce immediately that they are willing to open peace negotiations as soon as the enemy powers declare their consent to the renunciation of all forcible annexations.

The Allies must bind themselves not to begin any peace negotiations, nor to conclude peace, except in a general Peace Conference with the participation of delegates from all the neutral countries.

All obstacles to the Stockholm Socialist Conference are to be removed, and passports are to be given immediately to all delegates of parties and organisations who wish to participate.

(The Executive Committee of the Peasants’ Soviets also issued a nakaz, which differs little from the above.)

 [6] Peace At Russia’s Expense The Ribot revelations of Austria’s peace-offer to France; the so-called “Peace Conference” at Berne, Switzerland, during the summer of 1917, in which delegates participated from all belligerent countries, representing large financial interests in all these countries; and the attempted negotiations of an English agent with a Bulgarian church dignitary; all pointed to the fact that there were strong currents, on both sides, favourable to patching up a peace at the expense of Russia. In my next book, “Kornilov to Brest-Litovsk,” I intend to treat this matter at some length, publishing several secret documents discovered in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Petrograd.

 [7] Russian Soldiers In France

Official Report of the Provisional Government.

“From the time the news of the Russian Revolution reached Paris, Russian newspapers of extreme tendencies immediately began to appear; and these newspapers, as well as individuals, freely circulated among the soldier masses and began a Bolshevik propaganda, often spreading false news which appeared in the French journals. In the absence of all official news, and of precise details, this campaign provoked discontent among the soldiers. The result was a desire to return to Russia, and a hatred toward the officers.

“Finally it all turned into rebellion. In one of their meetings, the soldiers issued an appeal to refuse to drill, since they had decided to fight no more. It was decided to isolate the rebels, and General Zankievitch ordered all soldiers loyal to the Provisional Government to leave the camp of Courtine, and to carry with them all ammunition. On June 25th the order was executed; there remained at the camp only the soldiers who said they would submit ‘conditionally’ to the Provisional Government. The soldiers at the camp of Courtine received several times the visit of the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armies abroad, of Rapp, the Commissar of the Ministry of War, and of several distinguished former exiles who wished to influence them, but these attempts were unsuccessful, and finally Commissar Rapp insisted that the rebels lay down their arms, and, in sign of submission, march in good order to a place called Clairvaux. The order was only partially obeyed; first 500 men went out, of whom 22 were arrested; 24 hours later about 6,000 followed…. About 2,000 remained….

“It was decided to increase the pressure; their rations were diminished, their pay was cut off, and the roads toward the village of Courtine were guarded by French soldiers. General Zankievitch, having discovered that a Russian artillery brigade was passing through France, decided to form a mixed detachment of infantry and artillery to reduce the rebels. A deputation was sent to the rebels; the deputation returned several hours later, convinced of the futility of the negotiations. On September 1st General Zankievitch sent an ultimatum to the rebels demanding that they lay down their arms, and menacing in case of refusal to open fire with artillery if the order was not obeyed by September 3d at 10 o’clock.

“The order not being executed, a light fire of artillery was opened on the place at the hour agreed upon. Eighteen shells were fired, and the rebels were warned that the bombardment would become more intense. In the night of September 3d 160 men surrendered. September 4th the artillery bombardment recommenced, and at 11 o’clock, after 36 shells had been fired, the rebels raised two white flags and began to leave the camp without arms. By evening 8,300 men had surrendered. 150 soldiers who remained in the camp opened fire with machine-guns that night. The 5th of September, to make an end of the affair, a heavy barrage was laid on the camp, and our soldiers occupied it little by little. The rebels kept up a heavy fire with their machine-guns. September 6th, at 9 o’clock, the camp was entirely occupied…. After the disarmament of the rebels, 81 arrests were made….”

Thus the report. From secret documents discovered in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, we know that the account is not strictly accurate. The first trouble arose when the soldiers tried to form Committees, as their comrades in Russia were doing. They demanded to be sent back to Russia, which was refused; and then, being considered a dangerous influence in France, they were ordered to Salonika. They refused to go, and the battle followed…. It was discovered that they had been left in camp without officers for about two months, and badly treated, before they became rebellious. All attempts to find out the name of the “Russian artillery brigade” which had fired on them were futile; the telegrams discovered in the Ministry left it to be inferred that French artillery was used….

After their surrender, more than two hundred of the mutineers were shot in cold blood.

 [8] Terestchenko’s Speech


“&… The questions of foreign policy are closely related to those of national defence…. And so, if in questions of national defence you think it is necessary to hold session in secret, also in our foreign policy we are sometimes forced to observe the same secrecy….

“German diplomacy attempts to influence public opinion…. Therefore the declarations of directors of great democratic organisations who talk loudly of a revolutionary Congress, and the impossibility of another winter campaign, are dangerous…. All these declarations cost human lives….

“I wish to speak merely of governmental logic, without touching the questions of the honour and dignity of the State. From the point of view of logic, the foreign policy of Russia ought to be based on a real comprehension of the interests of Russia…. These interests mean that it is impossible that our country remain alone, and that the present alignment of forces with us, (the Allies), is satisfactory…. All humanity longs for peace, but in Russia no one will permit a humiliating peace which would violate the State interests of our fatherland!”

The orator pointed out that such a peace would for long years, if not for centuries, retard the triumph of democratic principles in the world, and would inevitably cause new wars.

“All remember the days of May, when the fraternisation on our Front threatened to end the war by a simple cessation of military operations, and lead the country to a shameful separate peace&… and what efforts it was necessary to use to make the soldier masses at the front understand that it was not by this method that the Russian State must end the war and guarantee its interest….”

He spoke of the miraculous effect of the July offensive, what strength it gave to the words of Russian ambassadors abroad, and the despair in Germany caused by the Russian victories. And also, the disillusionment in Allied countries which followed the Russian defeat….

“As to the Russian Government, it adhered strictly to the formula of May, ‘No annexations and no punitive indemnities.’ We consider it essential not only to proclaim the self-determination of peoples, but also to renounce imperialist aims….”

Germany is continually trying to make peace. The only talk in Germany is of peace; she knows she cannot win.

“I reject the reproaches aimed at the Government which allege that Russian foreign policy does not speak clearly enough about the aims of the war….

“If the question arises as to what ends the Allies are pursuing, it is indispensable first to demand what aims the Central Powers have agreed upon….

“The desire is often heard that we publish the details of the treaties which bind the Allies; but people forget that, up to now, we do not know the treaties which bind the Central Powers….”

Germany, he said, evidently wants to separate Russia from the West by a series of weak buffer-states.

“This tendency to strike at the vital interests of Russia must be checked….

“And will the Russian democracy, which has inscribed on its banner the rights of nations to dispose of themselves, allow calmly the continuation of oppression upon the most civilised peoples (in Austria-Hungary)?

“Those who fear that the Allies will try to profit by our difficult situation, to make us support more than our share of the burden of war, and to solve the questions of peace at our expense, are entirely mistaken…. Our enemy looks upon Russia as a market for its products. The end of the war will leave us in a feeble condition, and with our frontier open the flood of German products can easily hold back for years our industrial development. Measures must be taken to guard against this….

“I say openly and frankly: the combination of forces which unites us to the Allies is favourable to the interests of Russia…. It is therefore important that our views on the questions of war and peace shall be in accord with the views of the Allies as clearly and precisely as possible…. To avoid all misunderstanding, I must say frankly that Russia must present at the Paris Conference one point of view….

He did not want to comment on the nakaz to Skobeliev, but he referred to the Manifesto of the Dutch-Scandinavian Committee, just published in Stockholm. This Manifesto declared for the autonomy of Lithuania and Livonia; “but that is clearly impossible,” said Terestchenko, “for Russia must have free ports on the Baltic all the year round….

“In this question the problems of foreign policy are also closely related to interior politics, for if there existed a strong sentiment of unity of all great Russia, one would not witness the repeated manifestations, everywhere, of a desire of peoples to separate from the Central Government…. Such separations are contrary to the interests of Russia, and the Russian delegates cannot raise the issue….”

 [9] The British Fleet. At the time of the naval battle of the Gulf of Riga, not only the Bolsheviki, but also the Ministers of the Provisional Government, considered that the British Fleet had deliberately abandoned the Baltic, as one indication of the attitude so often expressed publicly by the British press, and semi-publicly by British representatives in Russia, “Russia’s finished! No use bothering about Russia!”

See interview with Kerensky (Appendix 13).

General Gurko was a former Chief of Staff of the Russian armies under the Tsar. He was a prominent figure in the corrupt Imperial Court. After the Revolution, he was one of the very few persons exiled for his political and personal record. The Russian naval defeat in the Gulf of Riga coincided with the public reception, by King George in London, of General Gurko, a man whom the Russian Provisional Government considered dangerously pro-German as well as reactionary!

 [10] Appeals Against Insurrection

To Workers and Soldiers

“Comrades! The Dark Forces are increasingly trying to call forth in Petrograd and other towns DISORDERS AND Pogroms. Disorder is necessary to the Dark Forces, for disorder will give them an opportunity for crushing the revolutionary movement in blood. Under the pretext of establishing order, and of protecting the inhabitants, they hope to establish the domination of Kornilov, which the revolutionary people succeeded in suppressing not long ago. Woe to the people if these hopes are realised! The triumphant counter-revolution will destroy the Soviets and the Army Committees, will disperse the Constituent Assembly, will stop the transfer of the land to the Land Committees, will put an end to all the hopes of the people for a speedy peace, and will fill all the prisons with revolutionary soldiers and workers.

“In their calculations, the counter-revolutionists and Black Hundred leaders are counting on the serious discontent of the unenlightened part of the people with the disorganisation of the food-supply, the continuation of the war, and the general difficulties of life. They hope to transform every demonstration of soldiers and workers into a pogrom, which will frighten the peaceful population and throw it into the arms of the Restorers of Law and Order.

“Under such conditions every attempt to organise a demonstration in these days, although for the most laudable object, would be a crime. All conscious workers and soldiers who are displeased with the policy of the Government will only bring injury to themselves and to the Revolution if they indulge in demonstrations.



The Central Executive Committee of the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies (Tsay-ee-kah)

Russian Social Democratic Labour Party THE DANGER IS NEAR!
To All Workers and Soldiers
(Read and Hand to Others)

Comrades Workers and Soldiers!

“Our country is in danger. On account of this danger our freedom and our Revolution are passing through difficult days. The enemy is at the gates of Petrograd. The disorganisation is growing with every hours. It becomes more and more difficult to obtain bread for Petrograd. All, of from the smallest to the greatest, must redouble their efforts, must endeavour to arrange things properly…. We must save our country, say freedom…. More arms and provisions for the Army! Bread—for the great cities. Order and organisation in the country….

“And in these terrible critical days rumours creep about that SOMEWHERE a demonstration is being prepared, that SOME ONE is calling on the soldiers and workers to destroy revolutionary peace and order…. Rabotchi Put, the newspaper of the Bolsheviki, is pouring oil on the flames: it flattering, trying to please the unenlightened people, tempting the worker and soldiers, urging them on against the Government, promising them mountains of good things…. The confiding, ignorant men believe, they do not reason…. And from the other side come also rumours—rumours that the Dark Forces, the friends of the Tsar, the German spies, are rubbing their hands with glee. They are ready to join the Bolsheviki, and with them fan the disorders into civil war.

“The Bolsheviki and the ignorant soldiers and workers seduced by them cry senselessly: ‘Down with the Government! All power to the Soviets!’ And the Dark servants of the Tsar and the spies of Wilhelm will egg the on; ‘Beat the Jews, beat the shopkeepers, rob the markets, devastate the shops, pillage the wine stores! Slay, burn, rob!’

“And then will begin a terrible confusion, a war between one part of the people and the other. All will become still more disorganised, and perhaps once more blood will be shed on the streets of the capital. And then what then?

“Then, the road to Petrograd will be open to Wilhelm. Then, no bread will come to Petrograd, the children will die of hunger. Then, the Army as the front will remain without support, our brothers in the trenches will be delivered to the fire of the enemy. Then, Russia will lose all prestige in other countries, our money will lose its value; everything will be so dear as to make life impossible. Then, the long awaited Constituent Assembly will be postponed—it will be impossible to convene it in time. And then—Death to the Revolution, Death to our Liberty….

“Is it this that you want, workers and soldiers? No! If you do not then go, go to the ignorant people seduced by the betrayers, and tell them the whole truth, which we have told you!


“Every conscious worker revolutionist, every conscious peasant, every revolutionary soldier, all who understand what harm a demonstration or a revolt against the Government might cause to the people, must join together and not allow the enemies of the people to destroy our freedom.”

The Petrograd Electoral Committee of the Mensheviki-oborontzi.

 [11]Lenin’s “Letter To The Comrades” This series of articles appeared in Rabotchi Put several days running, at the end of October and beginning of November, 1917. I give here only extracts from two instalments:

1. Kameniev and Riazanov say that we have not a majority among the people, and that without a majority insurrection is hopeless.

“Answer: People capable of speaking such things are falsifiers, pedants, or simply don’t want to look the real situation in the face. In the last elections we received in all the country more than fifty per cent of all thevotes….

“The most important thing in Russia to-day is the peasants’ revolution. In Tambov Government there has been a real agrarian uprising with wonderful political results…. Even Dielo Naroda has been scared into yelling that the land must be turned over to the peasants, and not only the Socialist Revolutionaries in the Council of the Republic, but also the Government itself, has been similarly affected. Another valuable result was the bringing of bread which had been hoarded by the pomieshtchiki to the railroad stations in that province. The Russkaya Volia had to admit that the stations were filled with bread after the peasants’ rising….

“2. We are not sufficiently strong to take over the Government, and the bourgeoisie is not sufficiently strong to prevent the Constituent Assembly.

“Answer: This is nothing but timidity, expressed by pessimism as regards workers and soldiers, and optimism as regards the failure of the bourgeoisie. If yunkers and Cossacks say they will fight, you believe them; if workmen and soldiers say so, you doubt it. What is the distinction between such doubts and siding politically with the bourgeoisie?

“Kornilov proved that the Soviets were really a power. To believe Kerensky and the Council of the Republic, if the bourgeoisie is not strong enough to break the Soviets, it is not strong enough to break the Constituent. But that is wrong. The bourgeoisie will break the Constituent by sabotage, by lock-outs, by giving up Petrograd, by opening the front to the Germans. This has already been done in the case of Riga….

“3. The Soviets must remain a revolver at the head of the Government to force the calling of the Constituent Assembly, and to suppress any further Kornilov attempts.

“Answer: Refusal of insurrection is refusal of ‘All Power to the Soviets.’ Since September the Bolshevik party has been discussing the question of insurrection. Refusing to rise means to trust our hopes in the faith of the good bourgeoisie, who have ‘promised’ to call the Constituent Assembly. When the Soviets have all the power, the calling of the Constituent is guaranteed, and its success assured.

“Refusal of insurrection means surrender to the ‘Lieber-Dans.’ Either we must drop ‘All Power to the Soviets’ or make an insurrection; there is no middle course.”

“4. The bourgeoisie cannot give up Petrograd, although the Rodziankos want it, because it is not the bourgeoisie who are fighting, but our heroic soldiers and sailors.

“Answer: This did not prevent two admirals from running away at the Moonsund battle. The Staff has not changed; it is composed of Kornilovtsi. If the Staff, with Kerensky at its head, wants to give up Petrograd, it can do it doubly or trebly. It can make arrangements with the Germans or the British; open the fronts. It can sabotage the Army’s food supply. At all these doors has it knocked.

“We have no right to wait until the bourgeoisie chokes the Revolution. Rodzianko is a man of action, who has faithfully and truthfully served the bourgeoisie for years…. Half the Lieber-Dans are cowardly compromisers; half of them simple fatalists….”

“5. We’re getting stronger every day. We shall be able to enter the Constituent Assembly as a strong opposition. Then why should we play everything on one card?”

“Answer: This is the argument of a sophomore with no practical experience, who reads that the Constituent Assembly is being called and trustfully accepts the legal and constitutional way. Even the voting of the Constituent Assembly will not do away with hunger, or beat Wilhelm…. The issue of hunger and of surrendering Petrograd cannot be decided by waiting for the Constituent Assembly. Hunger is not waiting. The peasants’ Revolution is not waiting. The Admirals who ran away did not wait.

“Blind people are surprised that hungry people, betrayed by admirals and generals, do not take an interest in voting.

“6. If the Kornilovtsi make an attempt, we would show them our strength. But why should we risk everything by making an attempt ourselves?

“Answer: History doesn’t repeat. ‘Perhaps Kornilov will some day make an attempt!’ What a serious base for proletarian action! But suppose Kornilov waits for starvation, for the opening of the fronts, what then? This attitude means to build the tactics of a revolutionary party on one of the bourgeoisie’s former mistakes.

“Let us forget everything except that there is no way out but by the dictatorship of the proletariat—either that or the dictatorship of Kornilov.

“Let us wait, comrades, for—a miracle!”

 [12] Miliukov’s Speech (Resumé) “Every one admits, it seems, that the defence of the country is our principal task, and that, to assure it, we must have discipline in the Army and order in the rear. To achieve this, there must be a power capable of daring, not only by persuasion, but also by force…. The germ of all our evils comes from the point of view, original, truly Russian, concerning foreign policy, which passes for the Internationalist point of view.

“The noble Lenin only imitates the noble Keroyevsky when he holds that from Russia will come the New World which shall resuscitate the aged West, and which will replace the old banner of doctrinary Socialism by the new direct action of starving masses—and that will push humanity forward and force it to break in the doors of the social paradise….”

These men sincerely believed that the decomposition of Russia would bring about the decomposition of the whole capitalist ré#233;gime. Starting from that point of view, they were able to commit the unconscious treason, in wartime, of calmly telling the soldiers to abandon the trenches, and instead of fighting the external enemy, creating internal civil war and attacking the proprietors and capitalists….

Here Miliukov was interrupted by furious cries from the Left, demanding what Socialist had ever advised such action….

“Martov says that only the revolutionary pressure of the proletariat can condemn and conquer the evil will of imperialist cliques and break down the dictatorship of these cliques…. Not by an accord between Governments for a limitation of armaments, but by the disarming of these Governments and the radical democratisation of the military system….”

He attacked Martov viciously, and then turned on the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries, whom he accused of entering the Government as Ministers with the avowed purpose of carrying on the class struggle!

“The Socialists of Germany and of the Allied countries contemplated these gentlemen with ill-concealed contempt, but they decided that it was for Russia, and sent us some apostles of the Universal Conflagration….

“The formula of our democracy is very simple; no foreign policy, no art of diplomacy, an immediate democratic peace, a declaration to the Allies, ‘We want nothing, we haven’t anything to fight with!’ And then our adversaries will make the same declaration, and the brotherhood of peoples will be accomplished!”

Miliukov took a fling at the Zimmerwald Manifesto, and declared that even Kerensky has not been able to escape the influence of “that unhappy document which will forever be your indictment.” He then attacked Skobeliev, whose position in foreign assemblies, where he would appear as a Russian delegate, yet opposed to the foreign policy of his Government, would be so strange that people would say, “What’s that gentleman carrying, and what shall we talk to him about?” As for the nakaz, Miliukov said that he himself was a pacifist; that he believed in the creation of an International Arbitration Board, and the necessity for a limitation of armaments, and parliamentary control over secret diplomacy, which did not mean the abolition of secret diplomacy.

As for the Socialist ideas in the nakaz, which he called “Stockholm ideas”—peace without victory, the right of self-determination of peoples, and renunciation of the economic war—

“The German successes are directly proportionate to the successes of those who call themselves the revolutionary democracy. I do not wish to say, ‘to the successes of the Revolution,’ because I believe that the defeats of the revolutionary democracy are victories for the Revolution….

“The influence of the Soviet leaders abroad is not unimportant. One had only to listen to the speech of the Minister of Foreign Affairs to be convinced that, in this hall, the influence of the revolutionary democracy on foreign policy is so strong, that the Minister does not dare to speak face to face with it about the honour and dignity of Russia!

“We can see, in the nakaz of the Soviets, that the ideas of the Stockholm Manifesto have been elaborated in two direction—that of Utopianism, and that of German interests….

Interrupted by the angry cries of the Left, and rebuked by the President, Miliukov insisted that the proposition of peace concluded by popular assemblies, not by diplomats, and the proposal to undertake peace negotiations as soon as the enemy had renounced annexations, were pro-German. Recently Kuhlman said that a personal declaration bound only him who made it…. “Anyway, we will imitate the Germans before we will imitate the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies….”

The sections treating of the independence of Lithuania and Livonia were symptoms of nationalist agitation in different parts of Russia, supported, said Miliukov, by German money…. Amid bedlam from the Left, he contrasted the clauses of the nakaz concerning Alsace-Lorraine, Rumania, and Serbia, with those treating of the nationalities in Germany and Austria. The nakaz embraced the German and Austrian point of view, said Miliukov.

Passing to Terestchenko’s speech, he contemptuously accused him of being afraid to speak the thought in his mind, and even afraid to think in terms of the greatness of Russia. The Dardanelles must belong to Russia….

“You are continually saying that the soldier does not know why he is fighting, and that when he does know, he’ll fight…. It is true that the soldier doesn’t know why he is fighting, but now you have told him that there is no reason for him to fight, that we have no national interests, and that we are fighting for alien ends….”

Paying tribute to the Allies, who, he said, with the assistance of America, “will yet save the cause of humanity,” he ended:

“Long live the light of humanity, the advanced democracies of the West, who for a long time have been travelling the way we now only begin to enter, with ill-assured and hesitating steps! Long live our brave Allies!”

 [13] Interview With Kerensky The Associated Press man tried his hand. “Mr. Kerensky,” he began, “in England and France people are disappointed with the Revolution——”

“Yes, I know,” interrupted Kerensky, quizzically. “Abroad the Revolution is no longer fashionable!”

“What is your explanation of why the Russians have stopped fighting?”

“That is a foolish question to ask.” Kerensky was annoyed. “Russia entered the war first of all the Allies, and for a long time she bore the whole brunt of it. Her losses have been inconceivably greater than those of all the other nations put together. Russia has now the right to demand of the Allies that they bring greater force of arms to bear.” He stopped for a moment and stared at his interlocutor. “You are asking why the Russians have stopped fighting, and the Russians are asking where is the British fleet—with German battle-ships in the Gulf of Riga?” Again he ceased suddenly, and as suddenly burst out. “The Russian Revolution hasn’t failed and the revolutionary Army hasn’t failed. It is not the Revolution which caused disorganisation in the army—that disorganisation was accomplished years ago, by the old regime. Why aren’t the Russians fighting? I will tell you. Because the masses of the people are economically exhausted,—and because they are disillusioned with the Allies!”

The interview of which this is an excerpt was cabled to the United States, and in a few days sent back by the American State Department, with a demand that it be “altered.” This Kerensky refused to do; but it was done by his secretary, Dr. David Soskice—and, thus purged of all offensive references to the Allies, was given to the press of the world….