Part 2 out of 8
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 (See App. II, Sect. 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
"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 [*] drilled.... In all the
[* See Notes and Explanations]
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
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?
On the Eve
IN the relations of a weak Government and a rebellious people there
comes a time when every act of the authorities exasperates the
masses, and every refusal to act excites their contempt....
The proposal to abandon Petrograd raised a hurricane; Kerensky's
public denial that the Government had any such intention was met with
hoots of derision.
Pinned to the wall by the pressure of the Revolution (cried _Rabotchi
Put),_ the Government of "provisional" bourgeois tries to get free by
giving out lying assurances that it never thought of fleeing from
Petrograd, and that it didn't wish to surrender the capital....
In Kharkov thirty thousand coal miners organised, adopting the
preamble of the I. W. W. constitution: "The working class and the
employing class have nothing in common." Dispersed by Cossacks, some
were locked out by the mine-owners, and the rest declared a general
strike. Minister of Commerce and Industry Konovalov appointed his
assistant, Orlov, with plenary powers, to settle the trouble. Orlov
was hated by the miners. But the _Tsay-ee-kah_ not only supported his
appointment, but refused to demand that the Cossacks be recalled from
the Don Basin....
This was followed by the dispersal of the Soviet at Kaluga. The
Bolsheviki, having secured a majority in the Soviet, set free some
political prisoners. With the sanction of the Government Commissar
the Municipal Duma called in troops from Minsk, and bombarded the
Soviet headquarters with artillery. The Bolsheviki yielded, but as
they left the building Cossacks attacked them, crying, "This is what
we'll do to all the other Bolshevik Soviets, including those of
Moscow and Petrograd!" This incident sent a wave of panic rage
In Petrograd was ending a regional Congress of Soviets of the North,
presided over by the Bolshevik Krylenko. By an immense majority it
resolved that all power should be assumed by the All-Russian
Congress; and concluded by greeting the Bolsheviki in prison, bidding
them rejoice, for the hour of their liberation was at hand. At the
same time the first All-Russian Conference of Factory-Shop Committees
(See App. III, Sect. 1) declared emphatically for the Soviets, and
After liberating themselves politically from Tsardom, the
working-class wants to see the democratic régime triumphant in the
sphere of its productive activity. This is best expressed by Workers'
Control over industrial production, which naturally arose in the
atmosphere of economic decomposition created by the criminal policy
of the dominating classes....
The Union of Railwaymen was demanding the resignation of Liverovsky,
Minister of Ways and Communications....
In the name of the _Tsay-ee-kah,_ Skobeliev insisted that the _nakaz_
be presented at the Allied Conference, and formally protested against
the sending of Terestchenko to Paris. Terestchenko offered to resign....
General Verkhovsky, unable to accomplish his reorganisation of the
army, only came to Cabinet meetings at long intervals....
On November 3d Burtzev's _Obshtchee Dielo_ came out with great
Citizens! Save the fatherland!
I have just learned that yesterday, at a meeting of the Commission
for National Defence, Minister of War General Verkhovsky, one of the
principal persons responsible for the fall of Kornilov, proposed to
sign a separate peace, independently of the Allies.
That is treason to Russia!
Terestchenko declared that the Provisional Government had not even
examined Verkhovsky's proposition.
"You might think," said Terestchenko, "that we were in a madhouse!"
The members of the Commission were astounded at the General's words.
General Alexeyev wept.
No! It is not madness! It is worse. It is direct treason to Russia!
Kerensky, Terestchenko and Nekrassov must immediately answer us
concerning the words of Verkhovsky.
Russia is being sold!
What Verkhovsky really said was that the Allies must be pressed to
offer peace, because the Russian army could fight no longer....
Both in Russia and abroad the sensation was tremendous. Verkhovsky
was given "indefinite leave of absence for illhealth," and left the
Government. _Obshtchee Dielo_ was suppressed....
Sunday, November 4th, was designated as the Day of the Petrograd
Soviet, with immense meetings planned all over the city, ostensibly
to raise money for the organisation and the press; really, to make a
demonstration of strength. Suddenly it was announced that on the same
day the Cossacks would hold a _Krestny Khod_-Procession of the
Cross-in honour of the Ikon of 1612, through whose miraculous
intervention Napoleon had been driven from Moscow. The atmosphere was
electric; a spark might kindle civil war. The Petrograd Soviet issued
a manifesto, headed "Brothers-Cossacks!"
You, Cossacks, are being incited against us, workers and soldiers.
This plan of Cain is being put into operation by our common enemies,
the oppressors, the privileged classes-generals, bankers, landlords,
former officials, former servants of the Tsar.... We are hated by all
grafters, rich men, princes, nobles, generals, including your Cossack
generals. They are ready at any moment to destroy the Petrograd
Soviet and crush the Revolution....
On the 4th of November somebody is organising a Cossack religious
procession. It is a question of the free consciousness of every
individual whether he will or will not take part in this procession.
We do not interfere in this matter, nor do we obstruct anybody....
However, we warn you, Cossacks! Look out and see to it that under the
pretext of a _Krestni Khod,_ your Kaledins do not instigate you
against workmen, against soldiers....
The procession was hastily called off....
In the barracks and the working-class quarters of the town the
Bolsheviki were preaching, "All Power to the Soviets!" and agents of
the Dark Forces were urging the people to rise and slaughter the
Jews, shop-keepers, Socialist leaders....
On one side the Monarchist press, inciting to bloody repression-on
the other Lenin's great voice roaring, "Insurrection!.... We cannot
wait any longer!"
Even the bourgeois press was uneasy. (See App. III, Sect. 2)
_Birjevya Viedomosti_ (Exchange Gazette) called the Bolshevik
propaganda an attack on "the most elementary principles of
society-personal security and the respect for private property."
[Graphic page-46 Appeal of the Petrograd Soviet]
Appeal of the Petrograd Soviet to the Cosacks to call off their
_Krestny Khod_-the religious procession planned for November 4th (our
calendar). "Brothers-Cossacks!" it begins. "The Petrograd Soviet of
Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies addresses you."
But it was the "moderate" Socialist journals which were the most
hostile. (See App. III, Sect. 3) "The Bolsheviki are the most
dangerous enemies of the Revolution," declared _Dielo Naroda._ Said
the Menshevik _Dien,_ "The Government ought to defend itself and
defend us." Plekhanov's paper, _Yedinstvo_ (Unity) (See App. III,
Sect. 4), called the attention of the Government to the fact that the
Petrograd workers were being armed, and demanded stern measures
against the Bolsheviki.
Daily the Government seemed to become more helpless. Even the
Municipal administration broke down. The columns of the morning
papers were filled with accounts of the most audacious robberies and
murders, and the criminals were unmolested.
On the other hand armed workers patrolled the streets at night, doing
battle with marauders and requisitioning arms wherever they found
On the first of November Colonel Polkovnikov, Military Commander of
Petrograd, issued a proclamation:
Despite the difficult days through which the country is passing,
irresponsible appeals to armed demonstrations and massacres are still
being spread around Petrograd, and from day to day robbery and
This state of things is disorganising the life of the citizens, and
hinders the systematic work of the Government and the Municipal
In full consciousness of my responsibility and my duty before my
country, I command:
1. Every military unit, in accordance with special instructions and
within the territory of its garrison, to afford every assistance to
the Municipality, to the Commissars, and to the militia, in the
guarding of Government institutions.
2. The organisation of patrols, in co-operation with the District
Commander and the representatives of the city militia, and the taking
of measures for the arrest of criminals and deserters.
3. The arrest of all persons entering barracks and inciting to armed
demonstrations and massacres, and their delivery to the headquarters
of the Second Commander of the city.
4. To suppress any armed demonstration or riot at its start, with all
armed forces at hand.
5. To afford assistance to the Commissars in preventing unwarranted
searches in houses and unwarranted arrests.
6. To report immediately all that happens in the district under
charge to the Staff of the Petrograd Military District.
I call upon all Army Committees and organisations to afford their
help to the commanders in fulfilment of the duties with which they
In the Council of the Republic Kerensky declared that the Government
was fully aware of the Bolshevik preparations, and had sufficient
force to cope with any demonstration. (See App. III, Sect. 5) He
accused _Novaya Rus_ and _Robotchi Put_ of both doing the same kind
of subversive work. "But owing to the absolute freedom of the press,"
he added, "the Government is not in a position to combat printed
lies. [*]...." Declaring that these were two aspects of the same
[* This was not quite candid. The Provisional Gevernment had
suppressed Bolshevik papers before, in July, and was planning to
do so again.]
propaganda, which had for its object the counter-revolution, so
ardently desired by the Dark Forces, he went on:
"I am a doomed man, it doesn't matter what happens to me, and I have
the audacity to say that the other enigmatic part is that of the
unbelievable provocation created in the city by the Bolsheviki!"
On November 2d only fifteen delegates to the Congress of Soviets had
arrived. Next day there were a hundred, and the morning after that a
hundred and seventy-five, of whom one hundred and three were
Bolsheviki.... Four hundred constituted a quorum, and the Congress was
only three days off....
I spent a great deal of time at Smolny. It was no longer easy to get
in. Double rows of sentries guarded the outer gates, and once inside
the front door there was a long line of people waiting to be let in,
four at a time, to be questioned as to their identity and their
business. Passes were given out, and the pass system was changed
every few hours; for spies continually sneaked through....
[Graphic page-49 Russian Pass to Reed, translation follows]
Pass to Smolny Institute, issued by the Military Revolutionary
Committee, giving me the right of entry at any time. (Translation)
Military Revolutionary Committee
attached to the
Petrograd Soviet of W. & S. D.
16th November, 1917
Is given by the present to John Reed, correspondent of
the American Socialist press, until December 1, the right of free
entry into Smolny Institute. Commandant
One day as I came up to the outer gate I saw Trotzky and his wife
just ahead of me. They were halted by a soldier. Trotzky searched
through his pockets, but could find no pass.
"Never mind," he said finally. "You know me. My name is Trotzky."
"You haven't got a pass," answered the soldier stubbornly.
"You cannot go in. Names don't mean anything to me."
"But I am the president of the Petrograd Soviet."
"Well," replied the soldier, "if you're as important a fellow as that
you must at least have one little paper."
Trotzky was very patient. "Let me see the Commandant," he said. The
soldier hesitated, grumbling something about not wanting to disturb
the Commandant for every devil that came along. He beckoned finally
to the soldier in command of the guard. Trotzky explained matters to
him. "My name is Trotzky," he repeated.
"Trotzky?" The other soldier scratched his head. "I've heard the name
somewhere," he said at length. "I guess it's all right. You can go on
In the corridor I met Karakhan, member of the Bolshevik Central
Committee, who explained to me what the new Government would be like.
"A loose organisation, sensitive to the popular will as expressed
through the Soviets, allowing local forces full play. At present the
Provisional Government obstructs the action of the local democratic
will, just as the Tsar's Government did. The initiative of the new
society shall come from below.... The form of the Government will be
modelled on the Constitution of the Russian Social Democratic Labour
Party. The new _Tsay-ee-kah,_ responsible to frequent meetings of the
All-Russian Congress of Soviets, will be the parliament; the various
Ministries will be headed by _collegia_-committees-instead of by
Ministers, and will be directly responsible to the Soviets....
On October 30th, by appointment, I went up to a small, bare room in
the attic of Smolny, to talk with Trotzky. In the middle of the room
he sat on a rough chair at a bare table. Few questions from me were
necessary; he talked rapidly and steadily, for more than an hour. The
substance of his talk, in his own words, I give here:
"The Provisional Government is absolutely powerless. The bourgeoisie
is in control, but this control is masked by a fictitious coalition
with the _oborontsi_ parties. Now, during the Revolution, one sees
revolts of peasants who are tired of waiting for their promised land;
and all over the country, in all the toiling classes, the same
disgust is evident. This domination by the bourgeoisie is only
possible by means of civil war. The Kornilov method is the only way
by which the bourgeoisie can control. But it is force which the
bourgeoisie lacks.... The Army is with us. The conciliators and
pacifists, Socialist Revolutionaries and Mensheviki, have lost all
authority-because the struggle between the peasants and the
landlords, between the workers and the employers, between the
soldiers and the officers, has become more bitter, more
irreconcilable than ever. Only by the concerted action of the popular
mass, only by the victory of proletarian dictatorship, can the
Revolution be achieved and the people saved....
"The Soviets are the most perfect representatives of the
people-perfect in their revolutionary experience, in their ideas and
objects. Based directly upon the army in the trenches, the workers in
the factories, and the peasants in the fields, they are the backbone
of the Revolution.
"There has been an attempt to create a power without the Soviets-and
only powerlessness has been created. Counter-revolutionary schemes of
all sorts are now being hatched in the corridors of the Council of
the Russian Republic. The Cadet party represents the
counter-revolution militant. On the other side, the Soviets represent
the cause of the people. Between the two camps there are no groups of
serious importance.... It is the _lutte finale._ The bourgeois
counter-revolution organises all its forces and waits for the moment
to attack us. Our answer will be decisive. We will complete the work
scarcely begun in March, and advanced during the Kornilov affair...."
He went on to speak of the new Government's foreign policy:
"Our first act will be to call for an immediate armistice on all
fronts, and a conference of peoples to discuss democratic peace
terms. The quantity of democracy we get in the peace settlement
depends on the quantity of revolutionary response there is in Europe.
If we create here a Government of the Soviets, that will be a
powerful factor for immediate peace in Europe; for this Government
will address itself directly and immediately to all peoples, over the
heads of their Governments, proposing an armistice. At the moment of
the conclusion of peace the pressure of the Russian Revolution will
be in the direction of 'no annexations,# no indemnities, the right of
self-determination of peoples,' and a _Federated Republic of Europe._...
"At the end of this war I see Europe recreated, not by the diplomats,
but by the proletariat. The Federated Republic of Europe-the United
States of Europe-that is what must be. National autonomy no longer
suffices. Economic evolution demands the abolition of national
frontiers. If Europe is to remain split into national groups, then
Imperialism will recommence its work. Only a Federated Republic of
Europe can give peace to the world." He smiled-that fine, faintly
ironical smile of his. "But without the action of the European
masses, these ends cannot be realised-now...."
Now while everybody was waiting for the Bolsheviki to appear suddenly
on the streets one morning and begin to shoot down people with white
collars on, the real insurrection took its way quite naturally and
The Provisional Government planned to send the Petrograd garrison to
The Petrograd garrison numbered about sixty thousand men, who had
taken a prominent part in the Revolution. It was they who had turned
the tide in the great days of March, created the Soviets of Soldiers'
Deputies, and hurled back Kornilov from the gates of Petrograd.
Now a large part of them were Bolsheviki. When the Provisional
Government talked of evacuating the city, it was the Petrograd
garrison which answered, "If you are not capable of defending the
capital, conclude peace; if you cannot conclude peace, go away and
make room for a People's Government which can do both...."
It was evident that any attempt at insurrection depended upon the
attitude of the Petrograd garrison. The Government's plan was to
replace the garrison regiments with "dependable" troops-Cossacks,
Death Battalions. The Army Committees, the "moderate" Socialists and
the _Tsay-ee-kah_ supported the Government. A wide-spread agitation
was carried on at the Front and in Petrograd, emphasizing the fact
that for eight months the Petrograd garrison had been leading an easy
life in the barracks of the capital, while their exhausted comrades
in the trenches starved and died.
Naturally there was some truth in the accusation that the garrison
regiments were reluctant to exchange their comparative comfort for
the hardships of a winter campaign. But there were other reasons why
they refused to go. The Petrograd Soviet feared the Government's
intentions, and from the Front came hundreds of delegates, chosen by
the common soldiers, crying, "It is true we need reinforcements, but
more important, we must know that Petrograd and the Revolution are
well-guarded.... Do you hold the rear, comrades, and we will hold the
On October 25th, behind closed doors, the Central Committee of the
Petrograd Soviet discussed the formation of a special Military
Committee to decide the whole question. The next day a meeting of the
Soldiers' Section of the Petrograd Soviet elected a Committee, which
immediately proclaimed a boycott of the bourgeois newspapers, and
condemned the _Tsay-ee-kah_ for opposing the Congress of Soviets. On
the 29th, in open session of the Petrograd Soviet, Trotzky proposed
that the Soviet formally sanction the Military Revolutionary
Committee. "We ought," he said, "to create our special organisation
to march to battle, and if necessary to die...." It was decided to send
to the front two delegations, one from the Soviet and one from the
garrison, to confer with the Soldiers' Committees and the General
At Pskov, the Soviet delegates were met by General Tcheremissov,
commander of the Northern Front, with the curt declaration that he
had ordered the Petrograd garrison to the trenches, and that was all.
The garrison committee was not allowed to leave Petrograd....
A delegation of the Soldiers' Section of the Petrograd Soviet asked
that a representative be admitted to the Staff of the Petrograd
District. Refused. The Petrograd Soviet demanded that no orders be
issued without the approval of the Soldiers' Section. Refused. The
delegates were roughly told, "We only recognise the _Tsay-ee-kah._ We
do not recognise you; if you break any laws, we shall arrest you."
On the 30th a meeting of representatives of all the Petrograd
regiments passed a resolution: _"The Petrograd garrison no longer
recognises the Provisional Government. The Petrograd Soviet is our
Government. We will obey only the orders of the Petrograd Soviet,
through the Military Revolutionary Committee."_ The local military
units were ordered to wait for instructions from the Soldiers'
Section of the Petrograd Soviet.
Next day the _Tsay-ee-kah_ summoned its own meeting, composed largely
of officers, formed a Committee to cooperate with the Staff, and
detailed Commissars in all quarters of the city.
A great soldier meeting at Smolny on the 3d resolved:
Saluting the creation of the Military Revolutionary Committee, the
Petrograd garrison promises it complete support in all its actions,
to unite more closely the front and the rear in the interests of the
The garrison moreover declares that with the revolutionary
proletariat it assures the maintenance of revolutionary order in
Petrograd. Every attempt at provocation on the part of the
Kornilovtsi or the bourgeoisie will be met with merciless resistance.
Now conscious of its power, the Military Revolutionary Committee
peremptorily summoned the Petrograd Staff to submit to its control.
To all printing plants it gave orders not to publish any appeals or
proclamations without the Committee's authorisation. Armed Commissars
visited the Kronversk arsenal and seized great quantities of arms and
ammunition, halting a shipment of ten thousand bayonets which was
being sent to Novotcherkask, headquarters of Kaledin....
Suddenly awake to the danger, the Government offered immunity if the
Committee would disband. Too late. At midnight November 5th Kerensky
himself sent Malevsky to offer the Petrograd Soviet representation on
the Staff. The Military Revolutionary Committee accepted. An hour
later General Manikovsky, acting Minister of war, countermanded the
Tuesday morning, November 6th, the city was thrown into excitement by
the appearance of a placard signed, "Military Revolutionary Committee
attached to the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies."
To the Population of Petrograd. Citizens!
Counter-revolution has raised its criminal head. The Kornilovtsi are
mobilising their forces in order to crush the All-Russian Congress of
Soviets and break the Constituent Assembly. At the same time the
_pogromists_ may attempt to call upon the people of Petrograd for
trouble and bloodshed. The Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers'
Deputies takes upon itself the guarding of revolutionary order in the
city against counter-revolutionary and _pogrom_ attempts.
The Petrograd garrison will not allow any violence or disorders. The
population is invited to arrest hooligans and Black Hundred agitators
and take them to the Soviet Commissars at the nearest barracks. At
the first attempt of the Dark Forces to make trouble on the streets
of Petrograd, whether robbery or fighting, the criminals will be
wiped off the face of the earth!
Citizens! We call upon you to maintain complete quiet and
self-possession. The cause of order and Revolution is in strong hands.
List of regiments where there are Commissars of the Military
On the 3rd the leaders of the Bolsheviki had another historic meeting
behind closed doors. Notified by Zalkind, I waited in the corridor
outside the door; and Volodarsky as he came out told me what was
Lenin spoke: "November 6th will be too early. We must have an
all-Russian basis for the rising; and on the 6th all the delegates to
the Congress will not have arrived.... On the other hand, November 8th
will be too late. By that time the Congress will be organised, and it
is difficult for a large organised body of people to take swift,
decisive action. We must act on the 7th, the day the Congress meets,
so that we may say to it, 'Here is the power! What are you going to
do with it?'"
In a certain upstairs room sat a thin-faced, long-haired individual,
once an officer in the armies of the Tsar, then revolutionist and
exile, a certain Avseenko, called Antonov, mathematician and
chess-player; he was drawing careful plans for the seizure of the
On its side the Government was preparing. Inconspicuously certain of
the most loyal regiments, from widely-separated divisions, were
ordered to Petrograd. The _yunker_ artillery was drawn into the
Winter Palace. Patrols of Cossacks made their appearance in the
streets, for the first time since the July days. Polkovnikov issued
order after order, threatening to repress all insubordination with
the "utmost energy." Kishkin, Minister of Public Instruction, the
worsthated member of the Cabinet, was appointed Special Commissar to
keep order in Petrograd; he named as assistants two men no less
unpopular, Rutenburg and Paltchinsky. Petrograd, Cronstadt and
Finland were declared in a state of siege-upon which the bourgeois
_Novoye Vremya_ (New Times) remarked ironically:
Why the state of siege? The Government is no longer a power. It has
no moral authority and it does not possess the necessary apparatus to
use force.... In the most favourable circumstances it can only
negotiate with any one who consents to parley. Its authority goes no
Monday morning, the 5th, I dropped in at the Marinsky Palace, to see
what was happening in the Council of the Russian Republic. Bitter
debate on Terestchenko's foreign policy. Echoes of the
Burtzev-Verkhovski affair. All the diplomats present except the
Italian ambassador, who everybody said was prostrated by the Carso
As I came in, the Left Socialist Revolutionary Karelin was reading
aloud an editorial from the London _Times_ which said, "The remedy
for Bolshevism is bullets!" Turning to the Cadets he cried, "That's
what _you_ think, too!"
Voices from the Right, "Yes! Yes!"
"Yes, I know you think so," answered Karelin, hotly. "But you haven't
the courage to try it!"
Then Skobeliev, looking like a matinée idol with his soft blond beard
and wavy yellow hair, rather apologetically defending the Soviet
_nakaz._ Terestchenko followed, assailed from the Left by cries of
"Resignation! Resignation!" He insisted that the delegates of the
Government and of the _Tsay-ee-kah_ to Paris should have a common
point of view-his own. A few words about the restoration of
discipline in the army, about war to victory.... Tumult, and over the
stubborn opposition of the truculent Left, the Council of the
Republic passed to the simple order of the day.
There stretched the rows of Bolshevik seats-empty since that first
day when they left the Council, carrying with them so much life. As I
went down the stairs it seemed to me that in spite of the bitter
wrangling, no real voice from the rough world outside could penetrate
this high, cold hall, and that the Provisional Government was
wrecked-on the same rock of War and Peace that had wrecked the
Miliukov Ministry.... The doorman grumbled as he put on my coat, "I
don't know what is becoming of poor Russia. All these Mensheviki and
Bolsheviki and Trudoviki.... This Ukraine and this Finland and the
German imperialists and the English imperialists. I am forty-five
years old, and in all my life I never heard so many words as in this
In the corridor I met Professor Shatsky, a rat-faced individual in a
dapper frock-coat, very influential in the councils of the Cadet
party. I asked him what he thought of the much-talked-of Bolshevik
_vystuplennie._ He shrugged, sneering.
"They are cattle-_canaille,"_ he answered. "They will not dare, or if
they dare they will soon be sent flying. From our point of view it
will not be bad, for then they will ruin themselves and have no power
in the Constituent Assembly....
"But, my dear sir, allow me to outline to you my plan for a form of
Government to be submitted to the Constituent Assembly. You see, I am
chairman of a commission appointed from this body, in conjunction
with the Provisional Government, to work out a constitutional
project.... We will have a legislative assembly of two chambers, such
as you have in the United States. In the lower chamber will be
territorial representatives; in the upper, representatives of the
liberal professions, zemstvos, Cooperatives-and Trade Unions...."
Outside a chill, damp wind came from the west, and the cold mud
underfoot soaked through my shoes. Two companies of _yunkers_ passed
swinging up the Morskaya, tramping stiffly in their long coats and
singing an oldtime crashing chorus, such as the soldiers used to sing
under the Tsar.... At the first cross-street I noticed that the City
Militiamen were mounted, and armed with revolvers in bright new
holsters; a little group of people stood silently staring at them. At
the corner of the Nevsky I bought a pamphlet by Lenin, "Will the
Bolsheviki be Able to Hold the Power?" paying for it with one of the
stamps which did duty for small change. The usual street-cars crawled
past, citizens and soldiers clinging to the outside in a way to make
Theodore P. Shonts green with envy.... Along the sidewalk a row of
deserters in uniform sold cigarettes and sunflower seeds....
Up the Nevsky in the sour twilight crowds were battling for the
latest papers, and knots of people were trying to make out the
multitudes of appeals (See App. III, Sect. 6) and proclamations
pasted in every flat place; from the _Tsay-ee-kah,_ the Peasants'
Soviets, the "moderate" Socialist parties, the Army
Committees-threatening, cursing, beseeching the workers and soldiers
to stay home, to support the Government....
An armoured automobile went slowly up and down, siren screaming. On
every corner, in every open space, thick groups were clustered;
arguing soldiers and students. Night came swiftly down, the
wide-spaced street-lights flickered on, the tides of people flowed
endlessly.... It is always like that in Petrograd just before trouble....
The city was nervous, starting at every sharp sound. But still no
sign from the Bolsheviki; the soldiers stayed in the barracks, the
workmen in the factories.... We went to a moving picture show near the
Kazan Cathedral-a bloody Italian film of passion and intrigue. Down
front were some soldiers and sailors, staring at the screen in
childlike wonder, totally unable to comprehend why there should be so
much violent running about, and so much homicide....
From there I hurried to Smolny. In room 10 on the top floor, the
Military Revolutionary Committee sat in continuous session, under the
chairmanship of a tow-headed, eighteen-year-old boy named Lazimir. He
stopped, as he passed, to shake hands rather bashfully.
"Peter-Paul Fortress has just come over to us," said he, with a
pleased grin. "A minute ago we got word from a regiment that was
ordered by the Government to come to Petrograd. The men were
suspicious, so they stopped the train at Gatchina and sent a
delegation to us. 'What's the matter?' they asked. 'What have you got
to say? We have just passed a resolution, "All Power to the
Soviets."'... The Military Revolutionary Committee sent back word,
'Brothers! We greet you in the name of the Revolution. Stay where you
are until further instructions!'"
All telephones, he said, were cut off: but communication with the
factories and barracks was established by means of military
A steady stream of couriers and Commissars came and went. Outside the
door waited a dozen volunteers, ready to carry word to the farthest
quarters of the city. One of them, a gypsy-faced man in the uniform
of a lieutenant, said in French, "Everything is ready to move at the
push of a button...."
There passed Podvoisky, the thin, bearded civillian whose brain
conceived the strategy of insurrection; Antonov, unshaven, his collar
filthy, drunk with loss of sleep; Krylenko, the squat, wide-faced
soldier, always smiling, with his violent gestures and tumbling
speech; and Dybenko, the giant bearded sailor with the placid face.
These were the men of the hour-and of other hours to come.
Downstairs in the office of the Factory-Shop Committees sat Seratov,
signing orders on the Government Arsenal for arms-one hundred and
fifty rifles for each factory.... Delegates waited in line, forty of
In the hall I ran into some of the minor Bolshevik leaders. One
showed me a revolver. "The game is on," he said, and his face was
pale. "Whether we move or not the other side knows it must finish us
or be finished...."
The Petrograd Soviet was meeting day and night. As I came into the
great hall Trotzky was just finishing.
"We are asked," he said, "if we intend to have a _vystuplennie._ I
can give a clear answer to that question. The Petrograd Soviet feels
that at last the moment has arrived when the power must fall into the
hands of the Soviets. This transfer of government will be
accomplished by the All-Russian Congress. Whether an armed
demonstration is necessary will depend on... those who wish to
interfere with the All-Russian Congress....
"We feel that our Government, entrusted to the personnel of the
Provisional Cabinet, is a pitiful and helpless Government, which only
awaits the sweep of the broom of History to give way to a really
popular Government. But we are trying to avoid a conflict, even now,
to-day. We hope that the All-Russian Congress will take... into its
hands that power and authority which rests upon the organised freedom
of the people. If, however, the Government wants to utilise the short
period it is expected to live-twenty-four, forty eight, or
seventy-two hours-to attack us, then we shall answer with
counter-attacks, blow for blow, steel for iron!"
Amid cheers he announced that the Left Socialist Revolutionaries had
agreed to send representatives into the Military Revolutionary
As I left Smolny, at three o'clock in the morning, I noticed that two
rapid-firing guns had been mounted, one on each side of the door, and
that strong patrols of soldiers guarded the gates and the near-by
street-corners. Bill Shatov [*] came bounding up the steps. "Well," he
[* Well known in the American labor movement.]
cried, "We're off! Kerensky sent the _yunkers_ to close down our
papers, _Soldat_ and _Rabotchi Put._ But our troops went down and
smashed the Government seals, and now we're sending detachments to
seize the bourgeois newspaper offices!" Exultantly he slapped me on
the shoulder, and ran in....
On the morning of the 6th I had business with the censor, whose
office was in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Everywhere, on all the
walls, hysterical appeals to the people to remain "calm." Polkovnikov
emitted _prikaz_ after _prikaz:_
I order all military units and detachments to remain in their
barracks until further orders from the Staff of the Military
District.... All officers who act without orders from their superiors
will be court-martialled for mutiny. I forbid absolutely any
execution by soldiers of instructions from other organisations....
The morning papers announced that the Government had suppressed the
papers _Novaya Rus, Zhivoye Slovo, Rabotchi Put_ and _Soldat,_ and
decreed the arrest of the leaders of the Petrograd Soviet and the
members of the Military Revolutionary Committee....
As I crossed the Palace Square several batteries of _yunker_
artillery came through the Red Arch at a jingling trot, and drew up
before the Palace. The great red building of the General Staff was
unusually animated, several armoured automobiles ranked before the
door, and motors full of officers were coming and going.... The censor
was very much excited, like a small boy at a circus. Kerensky, he
said, had just gone to the Council of the Republic to offer his
resignation. I hurried down to the Marinsky Palace, arriving at the
end of that passionate and almost incoherent speech of Kerensky's,
full of self-justification and bitter denunciation of his enemies.
"I will cite here the most characteristic passage from a whole series
of articles published in _Rabotchi Put_ by Ulianov-Lenin, a state
criminal who is in hiding and whom we are trying to find.... This state
criminal has invited the proletariat and the Petrograd garrison to
repeat the experience of the 16th-18th of July, and insists upon the
immediate necessity for an armed rising.... Moreover, other Bolshevik
leaders have taken the floor in a series of meetings, and also made
an appeal to immediate insurrection. Particularly should be noticed
the activity of the present president of the Petrograd Soviet,
"I ought to bring to your notice... that the expressions and the style
of a whole series of articles in _Rabotchi Put_ and _Soldat_ resemble
absolutely those of _Novaya Rus...._ We have to do not so much with the
movement of such and such political party, as with the exploitation
of the political ignorance and criminal instincts of a part of the
population, a sort of organisation whose object it is to provoke in
Russia, cost what it may, an inconscient movement of destruction and
pillage; for given the state of mind of the masses, any movement at
Petrograd will be followed by the most terrible massacres, which will
cover with eternal shame the name of free Russia....
"... By the admission of Ulianov-Lenin himself, the situation of the
extreme left wing of the Social Democrats in Russia is very
favourable." (Here Kerensky read the following quotation from Lenin's
Think of it!... The German comrades have only one Liebknecht, without
newspapers, without freedom of meeting, without a Soviet.... They are
opposed by the incredible hostility of all classes of society-and yet
the German comrades try to act; while we, having dozens of
newspapers, freedom of meeting, the majority of the Soviets, we, the
best-placed international proletarians of the entire world, can we
refuse to support the German revolutionists and insurrectionary
Kerensky then continued:
"The organisers of rebellion recognise thus implicitly that the most
perfect conditions for the free action of a political party obtain
now in Russia, administered by a Provisional Government at the head
of which is, in the eyes of this party, 'a usurper and a man who has
sold himself to the bourgeoisie, the Minister-President Kerensky....'
"... The organisers of the insurrection do not come to the aid of the
German proletariat, but of the German governing classes, and they
open the Russian front to the iron fists of Wilhelm and his friends....
Little matter to the Provisional Government the motives of these
people, little matter if they act consciously or unconsciously; but
in any case, from this tribune, in full consciousness of my
responsibility, I quality such acts of a Russian political party as
acts of treason to Russia!
"... I place myself at the point of view of the Right, and I propose
immediately to proceed to an investigation and make the necessary
arrests." (Uproar from the Left.) "Listen to me!" he cried in a
powerful voice. "At the moment when the state is in danger, because
of conscious or unconscious treason, the Provisional Government, and
myself among others, prefer to be killed rather than betray the life,
the honour and the independence of Russia...."
At this moment a paper was handed to Kerensky.
"I have just received the proclamation which they are distributing to
the regiments. Here is the contents." Reading: _"'The Petrograd
Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies is menaced. We order
immediately the regiments to mobilise on a war footing and to await
new orders. All delay or non-execution of this order will be
considered as an act of treason to the Revolution. The Military
Revolutionary Committee. For the President, Podvoisky. The Secretary,
"In reality, this is an attempt to raise the populace against the
existing order of things, to break the Constituent and to open the
front to the regiments of the iron fist of Wilhelm....
"I say 'populace' intentionally, because the conscious democracy and
its _Tsay-ee-kah,_ all the Army organisations, all that free Russia
glorifies, the good sense, the honour and the conscience of the great
Russian democracy, protests against these things....
"I have not come here with a prayer, but to state my firm conviction
that the Provisional Government, which defends at this moment our new
liberty-that the new Russian state, destined to a brilliant future,
will find unanimous support except among those who have never dared
to face the truth....
"... The Provisional Government has never violated the liberty of all
citizens of the State to use their political rights.... But now the
Provisional Government.... declares: in this moment those elements of
the Russian nation, those groups and parties who have dared to lift
their hands against the free will of the Russian people, at the same
time threatening to open the front to Germany, must be liquidated
"Let the population of Petrograd understand that it will encounter a
firm power, and perhaps at the last moment good sense, conscience and
honour will triumph in the hearts of those who still possess them...."
All through this speech, the hall rang with deafening clamour. When
the Minister-President had stepped down, pale-faced and wet with
perspiration, and strode out with his suite of officers, speaker
after speaker from the Left and Centre attacked the Right, all one
angry roaring. Even the Socialist Revolutionaries, through Gotz:
"The policy of the Bolsheviki is demagogic and criminal, in their
exploitation of the popular discontent. But there is a whole series
of popular demands which have received no satisfaction up to now....
The questions of peace, land and the democratization of the army
ought to be stated in such a fashion that no soldier, peasant or
worker would have the least doubt that our Government is attempting,
firmly and infallibly, to solve them....
"We Mensheviki do not wish to provoke a Cabinet crisis, and we are
ready to defend the Provisional Government with all our energy, to
the last drop of our blood-if only the Provisional Government, on all
these burning questions, will speak the clear and precise words
awaited by the people with such impatience...."
Then Martov, furious:
"The words of the Minister-President, who allowed himself to speak of
'populace' when it is question of the movement of important sections
of the proletariat and the army-although led in the wrong
direction-are nothing but an incitement to civil war."
The order of the day proposed by the Left was voted. It amounted
practically to a vote of lack of confidence.
1. The armed demonstration which has been preparing for some days
past has for its object a _coup d'etat,_ threatens to provoke civil
war, creates conditions favourable to _pogroms_ and
counterrevolution, the mobilization of counter-revolutionary forces,
such as the Black Hundreds, which will inevitably bring about the
impossibility of convoking the Constituent, will cause a military
catastrophe, the death of the Revolution, paralyse the economic life
of the country and destroy Russia;
2. The conditions favourable to this agitation have been created by
delay in passing urgent measures, as well as objective conditions
caused by the war and the general disorder. It is necessary before
everything to promulgate at once a decree transmitting the land to
the peasants' Land Committees, and to adopt an energetic course of
action abroad in proposing to the Allies to proclaim their peace
terms and to begin peace-parleys;
3. To cope with Monarchist manifestations and _pogromist_ movements,
it is indispensable to take immediate measures to suppress these
movements, and for this purpose to create at Petrograd a Committee of
Public Safety, composed of representatives of the Municipality and
the organs of the revolutionary democracy, acting in contact with the
It is interesting to note that the Mensheviki and Socialist
Revolutionaries all rallied to this resolution.... When Kerensky saw
it, however, he summoned Avksentiev to the Winter Palace to explain.
If it expressed a lack of confidence in the Provisional Government,
he begged Avksentiev to form a new Cabinet. Dan, Gotz and Avksentiev,
the leaders of the "compromisers," performed their last compromise....
They explained to Kerensky that it was not meant as a criticism of
At the corner of the Morskaya and the Nevsky, squads of soldiers with
fixed bayonets were stopping all private automobiles, turning out the
occupants, and ordering them toward the Winter Palace. A large crowd
had gathered to watch them. Nobody knew whether the soldiers belonged
to the Government or the Military Revolutionary Committee. Up in
front of the Kazan Cathedral the same thing was happening, machines
being directed back up the Nevsky. Five or six sailors with rifles
came along, laughing excitedly, and fell into conversation with two
of the soldiers. On the sailors' hat bands were _Avrora_ and _Zaria
Svobody,_-the names of the leading Bolshevik cruisers of the Baltic
Fleet. One of them said, "Cronstadt is coming!"... It was as if, in
1792, on the streets of Paris, some one had said: "The Marseillais
are coming!" For at Cronstadt were twenty-five thousand sailors,
convinced Bolsheviki and not afraid to die....
_Rabotchi i Soldat_ was just out, all its front page one huge
proclamation: SOLDIERS! WORKERS! CITIZENS!
The enemies of the people passed last night to the offensive. The
Kornilovists of the Staff are trying to draw in from the suburbs
_yunkers_ and volunteer battalions. The Oranienbaum _yunkers_ and the
Tsarskoye Selo volunteers refused to come out. A stroke of high
treason is being contemplated against the Petrograd Soviet.... The
campaign of the counter-revolutionists is being directed against the
All-Russian Congress of Soviets on the eve of its opening, against
the Constituent Assembly, against the people. The Petrograd Soviet is
guarding the Revolution. The Military Revolutionary Committee is
directing the repulse of the conspirators' attack. The entire
garrison and proletariat of Petrograd are ready to deal the enemy of
the people a crushing blow.
The Military Revolutionary Committee decrees:
1. All regimental, division and battle-ship Committees, together with
the Soviet Commissars, and all revolutionary organisations, shall
meet in continuous session, concentrating in their hands all
information about the plans of the conspirators.
2. Not one soldier shall leave his division without permission of the
3. To send to Smolny at once two delegates from each military unit
and five from each Ward Soviet.
4. All members of the Petrograd Soviet and all delegates to the
All-Russian Congress are invited immediately to Smolny for an
Counter-revolution has raised its criminal head.
A great danger threatens all the conquests and hopes of the soldiers
But the forces of the Revolution by far exceed those of its enemies.
The cause of the People is in strong hands. The conspirators will be
No hesitation or doubts! Firmness, steadfastness, discipline,
Long live the Revolution!
_The Military Revolutionary Committee._
The Petrograd Soviet was meeting continuously at Smolny, a centre of
storm, delegates falling down asleep on the floor and rising again to
take part in the debate, Trotzky, Kameniev, Volodarsky speaking six,
eight, twelve hours a day....
I went down to room 18 on the first floor where the Bolshevik
delegates were holding caucus, a harsh voice steadily booming, the
speaker hidden by the crowd: "The compromisers say that we are
isolated. Pay no attention to them. Once it begins they must be
dragged along with us, or else lose their following...."
Here he held up a piece of paper. "We are dragging them! A message
has just come from the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries! They
say that they condemn our action, but that if the Government attacks
us they will not oppose the cause of the proletariat!" Exultant
As night fell the great hall filled with soldiers and workmen, a
monstrous dun mass, deep-humming in a blue haze of smoke. The old
_Tsay-ee-kah_ had finally decided to welcome the delegates to that
new Congress which would mean its own ruin-and perhaps the ruin of
the revolutionary order it had built. At this meeting, however, only
members of the _Tsay-ee-kah_ could vote....
It was after midnight when Gotz took the chair and Dan rose to speak,
in a tense silence, which seemed to me almost menacing.
"The hours in which we live appear in the most tragic colours," he
said. "The enemy is at the gates of Petrograd, the forces of the
democracy are trying to organise to resist him, and yet we await
bloodshed in the streets of the capital, and famine threatens to
destroy, not only our homogeneous Government, but the Revolution
"The masses are sick and exhausted. They have no interest in the
Revolution. If the Bolsheviki start anything, that will be the end of
the Revolution..." (Cries, "That's a lie!)" "The counter-revolutionists
are waiting with the Bolsheviki to begin riots and massacres.... If
there is any _vystuplennie,_ there will be no Constituent Assembly...."
(Cries, "Lie! Shame!")
"It is inadmissible that in the zone of military operations the
Petrograd garrison shall not submit to the orders of the Staff.... You
must obey the orders of the Staff and of the _Tsay-ee-kah_ elected by
you. All Power to the Soviets-that means death! Robbers and thieves
are waiting for the moment to loot and burn.... When you have such
slogans put before you, 'Enter the houses, take away the shoes and
clothes from the bourgeoisie-'" (Tumult. Cries, "No such slogan! A
lie! A lie!") "Well, it may start differently, but it will end that
"The _Tsay-ee-kah_ has full power to act, and must be obeyed.... We are
not afraid of bayonets.... The _Tsay-ee-kah_ will defend the Revolution
with its body...." (Cries, "It was a dead body long ago!")
Immense continued uproar, in which his voice could be heard
screaming, as he pounded the desk, "Those who are urging this are
committing a crime!"
Voice: "You committed a crime long ago, when you captured the power
and turned it over to the bourgeoisie!"
Gotz, ringing the chairman's bell: "Silence, or I'll have you put
Voice: "Try it!" (Cheers and whistling.)
"Now concerning our policy about peace." (Laughter.) "Unfortunately
Russia can no longer support the continuation of the war. There is
going to be peace, but not permanent peace-not a democratic peace....
To-day, at the Council of the Republic, in order to avoid bloodshed,
we passed an order of the day demanding the surrender of the land to
the Land Committees and immediate peace negotiations...." (Laughter,
and cries, "Too late!")
Then for the Bolsheviki, Trotzky mounted the tribune, borne on a wave
of roaring applause that burst into cheers and a rising house,
thunderous. His thin, pointed face was positively Mephistophelian in
its expression of malicious irony.
"Dan's tactics prove that the masses-the great, dull, indifferent
masses-are absolutely with him!" (Titantic mirth.) He turned toward
the chairman, dramatically. "When we spoke of giving the land to the
peasants, you were against it. We told the peasants, 'If they don't
give it to you, take it yourselves!' and the peasants followed our
advice. And now you advocate what we did six months ago....
"I don't think Kerensky's order to suspend the death penalty in the
army was dictated by his ideals. I think Kerensky was persuaded by
the Petrograd garrison, which refused to obey him....
"To-day Dan is accused of having made a speech in the Council of the
Republic which proves him to be a secret Bolshevik.... The time may
come when Dan will say that the flower of the Revolution participated
in the rising of July 16th and 18th.... In Dan's resolution to-day at
the Council of the Republic there was no mention of enforcing
discipline in the army, although that is urged in the propaganda of
"No. The history of the last seven months shows that the masses have
left the Mensheviki. The Mensheviki and the Socialist Revolutionaries
conquered the Cadets, and then when they got the power, they gave it
to the Cadets....
"Dan tells you that you have no right to make an insurrection.
Insurrection is the right of all revolutionists! When the
down-trodden masses revolt, it is their right...."
Then the long-faced, cruel-tongued Lieber, greeted with groans and
"Engels and Marx said that the proletariat had no right to take power
until it was ready for it. In a bourgeois revolution like this.... the
seizure of power by the masses means the tragic end of the
Revolution.... Trotzky, as a Social Democratic theorist, is himself
opposed to what he is now advocating...." (Cries, "Enough! Down with
Martov, constantly interrupted: "The Internationalists are not
opposed to the transmission of power to the democracy, but they
disapprove of the methods of the Bolsheviki. This is not the moment
to seize the power...."
Again Dan took the floor, violently protesting against the action of
the Military Revolutionary Committee, which had sent a Commissar to
seize the office of _Izviestia_ and censor the paper. The wildest
uproar followed. Martov tried to speak, but could not be heard.
Delegates of the Army and the Baltic Fleet stood up all over the
hall, shouting that the Soviet was _their_ Government....
Amid the wildest confusion Ehrlich offered a resolution, appealing to
the workers and soldiers to remain calm and not to respond to
provocations to demonstrate, recognising the necessity of immediately
creating a Committee of Public Safety, and asking the Provisional
Government at once to pass decrees transferring the land to the
peasants and beginning peace negotiations....
Then up leaped Volodarsky, shouting harshly that the _Tsay-ee-kah,_
on the eve of the Congress, had no right to assume the functions of
the Congress. The _Tsay-ee-kah_ was practically dead, he said, and
the resolution was simply a trick to bolster up its waning power....
"As for us, Bolsheviki, we will not vote on this resolution!"
Whereupon all the Bolsheviki left the hall and the resolution was
Toward four in the morning I met Zorin in the outer hall, a rifle
slung from his shoulder.
"We're moving!" (See App. III, Sect. 7) said he, calmly but with
satisfaction. "We pinched the Assistant Minister of Justice and the
Minister of Religions. They're down cellar now. One regiment is on
the march to capture the Telephone Exchange, another the Telegraph
Agency, another the State Bank. The Red Guard is out...."
On the steps of Smolny, in the chill dark, we first saw the Red
Guard-a huddled group of boys in workmen's clothes, carrying guns
with bayonets, talking nervously together.
Far over the still roofs westward came the sound of scattered rifle
fire, where the _yunkers_ were trying to open the bridges over the
Neva, to prevent the factory workers and soldiers of the Viborg
quarter from joining the Soviet forces in the centre of the city; and
the Cronstadt sailors were closing them again....
Behind us great Smolny, bright with lights, hummed like a gigantic
The Fall of the Provisional Government
WEDNESDAY, November 7th, I rose very late. The noon cannon boomed
from Peter-Paul as I went down the Nevsky. It was a raw, chill day.
In front of the State Bank some soldiers with fixed bayonets were
standing at the closed gates.
"What side do you belong to?" I asked. "The Government?"
"No more Government," one answered with a grin, "_Slava Bogu!_ Glory
to God!" That was all I could get out of him....
The street-cars were running on the Nevsky, men, women and small
boys hanging on every projection. Shops were open, and there seemed
even less uneasiness among the street crowds than there had been the
day before. A whole crop of new appeals against insurrection had
blossomed out on the walls during the night-to the peasants, to the
soldiers at the front, to the workmen of Petrograd. One read:
FROM THE PETROGRAD MUNICIPAL DUMA:
The Municipal Duma informs the citizens that in the extraordinary
meeting of November 6th the Duma formed a Committee of Public
Safety, composed of members of the Central and Ward Dumas, and
representatives of the following revolutionary democratic
organizations: The _Tsay-ee-kah,_ the All-Russian Executive
Committee of Peasant Deputies, the Army organisations, the
_Tsentroflot,_ the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers'
Deputies (!), the Council of Trade Unions, and others.
Members of the Committee of Public Safety will be on duty in the
building of the Municipal Duma. Telephones No. 15-40, 223-77, 138-36.
November 7th, 1917.
Though I didn't realize it then, this was the Duma's declaration of
war against the Bolsheviki.
I bought a copy of _Rabotchi Put,_ the only newspaper which seemed
on sale, and a little later paid a soldier fifty kopeks for a
second-hand copy of _Dien._ The Bolshevik paper, printed on
large-sized sheets in the conquered office of the _Russkaya Volia,_
had huge headlines: "ALL POWER-TO THE SOVIETS OF WORKERS, SOLDIERS
AND PEASANTS! PEACE! BREAD! LAND!" The leading article was signed
"Zinoviev,"-Lenin's companion in hiding. It began:
Every soldier, every worker, every real Socialist, every honest
democrat realises that there are only two alternatives to the
Either-the power will remain in the hands of the bourgeois-landlord
crew, and this will mean every kind of repression for the workers,
soldiers and peasants, continuation of the war, inevitable hunger
Or-the power will be transferred to the hands of the revolutionary
workers, soldiers and peasants; and in that case it will mean a
complete abolition of landlord tyranny, immediate check of the
capitalists, immediate proposal of a just peace. Then the land is
assured to the peasants, then control of industry is assured to the
workers, then bread is assured to the hungry, then the end of this
_Dien_ contained fragmentary news of the agitated night. Bolsheviki
capture of the Telephone Exchange, the Baltic station, the Telegraph
Agency; the Peterhof _yunkers_ unable to reach Petrograd; the
Cossacks undecided; arrest of some of the Ministers; shooting of
Chief of the City Militia Meyer; arrests, counter-arrests,
skirmishes between clashing patrols of soldiers, _yunkers_ and Red
Guards. (See App. IV, Sect. 1)
On the corner of the Morskaya I ran into Captain Gomberg, Menshevik
_oboronetz,_ secretary of the Military Section of his party. When I
asked him if the insurrection had really happened he shrugged his
shoulders in a tired manner and replied, "_Tchort znayet!_ The devil
knows! Well, perhaps the Bolsheviki can seize the power, but they
won't be able to hold it more than three days. They haven't the men
to run a government. Perhaps it's a good thing to let them try-that
will furnish them...."
The Military Hotel at the corner of St. Isaac's Square was picketed
by armed sailors. In the lobby were many of the smart young
officers, walking up and down or muttering together; the sailors
wouldn't let them leave....
Suddenly came the sharp crack of a rifle outside, followed by a
scattered burst of firing. I ran out. Something unusual was going on
around the Marinsky Palace, where the Council of the Russian
Republic met. Diagonally across the wide square was drawn a line of
soldiers, rifles ready, staring at the hotel roof.
"_Provacatzia!_ Shot at us!" snapped one, while another went running
toward the door.
At the western corner of the Palace lay a big armoured car with a
red flag flying from it, newly lettered in red paint: "S.R.S.D."
(_Soviet Rabotchikh Soldatskikh Deputatov_); all the guns trained
toward St. Isaac's. A barricade had been heaped up across the mouth
of Novaya Ulitza-boxes, barrels, an old bed-spring, a wagon. A pile
of lumber barred the end of the Moika quay. Short logs from a
neighbouring wood-pile were being built up along the front of the
building to form breastworks....
"Is there going to be any fighting?" I asked.
"Soon, soon," answered a soldier, nervously. "Go away, comrade,
you'll get hurt. They will come from that direction," pointing
toward the Admiralty.
"That I couldn't tell you, brother," he answered, and spat.
Before the door of the Palace was a crowd of soldiers and sailors. A
sailor was telling of the end of the Council of the Russian
Republic. "We walked in there," he said, "and filled all the doors
with comrades. I went up to the counter-revolutionist Kornilovitz
who sat in the president's chair. 'No more Council,' I says. 'Run
along home now!"' |
There was laughter. By waving assorted papers I managed to get
around to the door of the press gallery. There an enormous smiling
sailor stopped me, and when I showed my pass, just said, "If you
were Saint Michael himself, comrade, you couldn't pass here!"
Through the glass of the door I made out the distorted face and
gesticulating arms of a French correspondent, locked in....
Around in front stood a little, grey-moustached man in the uniform
of a general, the centre of a knot of soldiers. He was very red in
"I am General Alexeyev," he cried. "As your superior officer and as
a member of the Council of the Republic I demand to be allowed to
pass!" The guard scratched his head, looking uneasily out of the
corner of his eye; he beckoned to an approaching officer, who grew
very agitated when he saw who it was and saluted before he realised
what he was doing.
"_Vashe Vuisokoprevoskhoditelstvo_-your High Excellency-" he
stammered, in the manner of the old régime, "Access to the Palace is
strictly forbidden--I have no right-"
An automobile came by, and I saw Gotz sitting inside, laughing
apparently with great amusement. A few minutes later another, with
armed soldiers on the front seat, full of arrested members of the
Provisional Government. Peters, Lettish member of the Military
Revolutionary Committee, came hurrying across the Square.
"I thought you bagged all those gentlemen last night," said I,
pointing to them.
"Oh," he answered, with the expression of a disappointed small boy.
"The damn fools let most of them go again before we made up our
Down the Voskressensky Prospect a great mass of sailors were drawn
up, and behind them came marching soldiers, as far as the eye could
We went toward the Winter Palace by way of the Admiralteisky. All
the entrances to the Palace Square were closed by sentries, and a
cordon of troops stretched clear across the western end, besieged by
an uneasy throng of citizens. Except for far-away soldiers who
seemed to be carrying wood out of the Palace courtyard and piling it
in front of the main gateway, everything was quiet.
We couldn't make out whether the sentries were pro-Government or
pro-Soviet. Our papers from Smolny had no effect, however, so we
approached another part of the line with an important air and showed
our American passports, saying "Official business!" and shouldered
through. At the door of the Palace the same old _shveitzari,_ in
their brass-buttoned blue uniforms with the red-and-gold collars,
politely took our coats and hats, and we went up-stairs. In the
dark, gloomy corridor, stripped of its tapestries, a few old
attendants were lounging about, and in front of Kerensky's door a
young officer paced up and down, gnawing his moustache. We asked if
we could interview the Minister-president. He bowed and clicked his
"No, I am sorry," he replied in French. "Alexander Feodorvitch is
extremely occupied just now...." He looked at us for a moment. "In
fact, he is not here...."
"Where is he?"
"He has gone to the Front. (See App. IV, Sect. 2) And do you know,
there wasn't enough gasoline for his automobile. We had to send to
the English Hospital and borrow some."
"Are the Ministers here?"
"They are meeting in some room-I don't know where.'
"Are the Bolsheviki coming?"
"Of course. Certainly, they are coming. I expect a telephone call
every minute to say that they are coming. But we are ready. We have
_yunkers_ in the front of the Palace. Through that door there."
"Can we go in there?"
"No. Certainly not. It is not permitted." Abruptly he shook hands
all around and walked away. We turned to the forbidden door, set in
a temporary partition dividing the hall and locked on the outside.
On the other side were voices, and somebody laughing. Except for
that the vast spaces of the old Palace were silent as the grave. An
old _shveitzar_ ran up. "No, _barin,_ you must not go in there."
"Why is the door locked?"
"To keep the soldiers in," he answered. After a few minutes he said
something about having a glass of tea and went back up the hall. We
unlocked the door.
Just inside a couple of soldiers stood on guard, but they said
nothing. At the end of the corridor was a large, ornate room with
gilded cornices and enormous crystal lustres, and beyond it several
smaller ones, wainscoted with dark wood. On both sides of the
parquetted floor lay rows of dirty mattresses and blankets, upon
which occasional soldiers were stretched out; everywhere was a
litter of cigarette-butts, bits of bread, cloth, and empty bottles
with expensive French labels. More and more soldiers, with the red
shoulder-straps of the _yunker_-schools, moved about in a stale
atmosphere of tobacco-smoke and unwashed humanity. One had a bottle
of white Burgundy, evidently filched from the cellars of the Palace.
They looked at us with astonishment as we marched past, through room
after room, until at last we came out into a series of great
state-salons, fronting their long and dirty windows on the Square.
The walls were covered with huge canvases in massive gilt
frames-historical battle-scenes.... "12 October 1812" and "6 November
1812" and "16/28 August 1813." ... One had a gash across the upper
right hand corner.
The place was all a huge barrack, and evidently had been for weeks,
from the look of the floor and walls. Machine guns were mounted on
window-sills, rifles stacked between the mattresses.
As we were looking at the pictures an alcoholic breath assailed me
from the region of my left ear, and a voice said in thick but fluent
French, "I see, by the way you admire the paintings, that you are
foreigners." He was a short, puffy man with a baldish head as he
removed his cap.
"Americans? Enchanted. I am Stabs-Capitan Vladimir Artzibashev,
absolutely at your service." It did not seem to occur to him that
there was anything unusual in four strangers, one a woman, wandering
through the defences of an army awaiting attack. He began to
complain of the state of Russia.
"Not only these Bolsheviki," he said, "but the fine traditions of
the Russian army are broken down. Look around you. These are all
students in the officers' training schools. But are they gentlemen?
Kerensky opened the officers' schools to the ranks, to any soldier
who could pass an examination. Naturally there are many, many who
are contaminated by the Revolution...."
Without consequence he changed the subject. "I am very anxious to go
away from Russia. I have made up my mind to join the American army.
Will you please go to your Consul and make arrangements? I will give
you my address." In spite of our protestations he wrote it on a
piece of paper, and seemed to feel better at once. I have it
still-"_Oranien-baumskaya Shkola Praporshtchikov 2nd, Staraya
"We had a review this morning early," he went on, as he guided us
through the rooms and explained everything. "The Women's Battalion
decided to remain loyal to the Government."
"Are the women soldiers in the Palace?"
"Yes, they are in the back rooms, where they won't be hurt if any
trouble comes." He sighed. "It is a great responsibility," said he.
For a while we stood at the window, looking down on the Square
before the Palace, where three companies of long-coated _yunkers_
were drawn up under arms, being harangued by a tall,
energetic-looking officer I recognised as Stankievitch, chief
Military Commissar of the Provisional Government. After a few
minutes two of the companies shouldered arms with a clash, barked
three sharp shouts, and went swinging off across the Square,
disappearing through the Red Arch into the quiet city.
"They are going to capture the Telephone Exchange," said some one.
Three cadets stood by us, and we fell into conversation. They said
they had entered the schools from the ranks, and gave their
names-Robert Olev, Alexei Vasilienko and Erni Sachs, an Esthonian.
But now they didn't want to be officers any more, because officers
were very unpopular. They didn't seem to know what to do, as a
matter of fact, and it was plain that they were not happy.
But soon they began to boast. "If the Bolsheviki come we shall show
them how to fight. They do not dare to fight, they are cowards. But
if we should be overpowered, well, every man keeps one bullet for
At this point there was a burst of rifle-fire not far off. Out on
the Square all the people began to run, falling flat on their faces,
and the _izvoshtchiki,_ standing on the corners, galloped in every
direction. Inside all was uproar, soldiers running here and there,
grabbing up guns, rifle-belts and shouting, "Here they come! Here
they come!" ... But in a few minutes it quieted down again. The
_izvoshtchiki_ came back, the people lying down stood up. Through
the Red Arch appeared the _yunkers,_ marching a little out of step,
one of them supported by two comrades.
It was getting late when we left the Palace. The sentries in the
Square had all disappeared. The great semi-circle of Government
buildings seemed deserted. We went into the Hotel France for dinner,
and right in the middle of soup the waiter, very pale in the face,
came up and insisted that we move to the main dining-room at the
back of the house, because they were going to put out the lights in
the café. "There will be much shooting," he said.
When we came out on the Morskaya again it was quite dark, except for
one flickering street-light on the corner of the Nevsky. Under this
stood a big armored automobile, with racing engine and oil-smoke
pouring out of it. A small boy had climbed up the side of the thing
and was looking down the barrel of a machine gun. Soldiers and
sailors stood around, evidently waiting for something. We walked
back up to the Red Arch, where a knot of soldiers was gathered
staring at the brightly-lighted Winter Palace and talking in loud
"No, comrades," one was saying. "How can we shoot at them? The
Women's Battalion is in there-they will say we have fired on Russian
As we reached the Nevsky again another armoured car came around the
corner, and a man poked his head out of the turret-top.
"Come on!" he yelled. "Let's go on through and attack!"
The driver of the other car came over, and shouted so as to be heard
above the roaring engine. "The Committee says to wait. They have got
artillery behind the wood-piles in there...."
Here the street-cars had stopped running, few people passed, and
there were no lights; but a few blocks away we could see the trams,
the crowds, the lighted shop-windows and the electric signs of the
moving-picture shows-life going on as usual. We had tickets to the
Ballet at the Marinsky Theatre-all theatres were open-but it was too
exciting out of doors....
In the darkness we stumbled over lumber-piles barricading the Police
Bridge, and before the Stroganov Palace made out some soldiers
wheeling into position a three-inch field-gun. Men in various
uniforms were coming and going in an aimless way, and doing a great
deal of talking....
Up the Nevsky the whole city seemed to be out promenading. On every
corner immense crowds were massed around a core of hot discussion.
Pickets of a dozen soldiers with fixed bayonets lounged at the
street-crossings, red-faced old men in rich fur coats shook their
fists at them, smartly-dressed women screamed epithets; the soldiers
argued feebly, with embarrassed grins.... Armoured cars went up and
down the street, named after the first Tsars-Oleg, Rurik,
Svietoslav-and daubed with huge red letters, "R. S. D. R. P."
_(Rossiskaya Partia_) [*]. At the Mikhailovsky a man appeared with an
[* (Russian Social Democratic Labor Party).]
armful of newspapers, and was immediately stormed by frantic people,
offering a rouble, five roubles, ten roubles, tearing at each other
like animals. It was _Rabotchi i Soldat,_ announcing the victory of
the Proletarian Revolution, the liberation of the Bolsheviki still
in prison, calling upon the Army front and rear for support... a
feverish little sheet of four pages, running to enormous type,
containing no news....
On the corner of the Sadovaya about two thousand citizens had
gathered, staring up at the roof of a tall building, where a tiny
red spark glowed and waned.
"See!" said a tall peasant, pointing to it. "It is a provocator.
Presently he will fire on the people...." Apparently no one thought of
going to investigate.
The massive facade of Smolny blazed with lights as we drove up, and
from every street converged upon it streams of hurrying shapes dim
in the gloom. Automobiles and motorcycles came and went; an enormous
elephant-coloured armoured automobile, with two red flags flying
from the turret, lumbered out with screaming siren. It was cold, and
at the outer gate the Red Guards had built themselves a bon-fire. At
the inner gate, too, there was a blaze, by the light of which the
sentries slowly spelled out our passes and looked us up and down.
The canvas covers had been taken off the four rapid-fire guns on
each side of the doorway, and the ammunition-belts hung snakelike
from their breeches. A dun herd of armoured cars stood under the
trees in the court-yard, engines going. The long, bare,
dimly-illuminated halls roared with the thunder of feet, calling,
shouting.... There was an atmosphere of recklessness. A crowd came
pouring down the staircase, workers in black blouses and round black
fur hats, many of them with guns slung over their shoulders,
soldiers in rough dirt-coloured coats and grey fur _shapki_ pinched
flat, a leader or so-Lunatcharsky, Kameniev-hurrying along in the
centre of a group all talking at once, with harassed anxious faces,
and bulging portfolios under their arms. The extraordinary meeting
of the Petrograd Soviet was over. I stopped Kameniev-a quick moving
little man, with a wide, vivacious face set close to his shoulders.
Without preface he read in rapid French a copy of the resolution
The Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, saluting
the victorious Revolution of the Petrograd proletariat and garrison,
particularly emphasises the unity, organisation, discipline, and
complete cooperation shown by the masses in this rising; rarely has
less blood been spilled, and rarely has an insurrection succeeded so
The Soviet expresses its firm conviction that the Workers' and
Peasants' Government which, as the government of the Soviets, will
be created by the Revolution, and which will assure the industrial
proletariat of the support of the entire mass of poor peasants, will
march firmly toward Socialism, the only means by which the country
can be spared the miseries and unheard-of horrors of war.
The new Workers' and Peasants' Government will propose immediately a
just and democratic peace to all the belligerent countries.
It will suppress immediately the great landed property, and transfer
the land to the peasants. It will establish workmen's control over
production and distribution of manufactured products, and will set
up a general control over the banks, which it will transform into a
The Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies calls upon
the workers and the peasants of Russia to support with all their
energy and all their devotion the Proletarian Revolution. The Soviet
expresses its conviction that the city workers, allies of the poor
peasants, will assure complete revolutionary order, indispensable to
the victory of Socialism. The Soviet is convinced that the
proletariat of the countries of Western Europe will aid us in
conducting the cause of Socialism to a real and lasting victory.
"You consider it won then?"
He lifted his shoulders. "There is much to do. Horribly much. It is
On the landing I met Riazanov, vice-president of the Trade Unions,
looking black and biting his grey beard. "It's insane! Insane!" he
shouted. "The European working-class won't move! All Russia-" He
waved his hand distractedly and ran off. Riazanov and Kameniev had
both opposed the insurrection, and felt the lash of Lenin's terrible
It had been a momentous session. In the name of the Military
Revolutionary Committee Trotzky had declared that the Provisional
Government no longer existed.
"The characteristic of bourgeois governments," he said, "is to
deceive the people. We, the Soviets of Workers', Soldiers' and
Peasants' Deputies, are going to try an experiment unique in
history; we are going to found a power which will have no other aim
but to satisfy the needs of the soldiers, workers, and peasants."
Lenin had appeared, welcomed with a mighty ovation, prophesying
world-wide Social Revolution.... And Zinoviev, crying, "This day we
have paid our debt to the international proletariat, and struck a
terrible blow at the war, a terrible body-blow at all the
imperialists and particularly at Wilhelm the Executioner....
Then Trotzky, that telegrams had been sent to the front announcing
the victorious insurrection, but no reply had come. Troops were said
to be marching against Petrograd-a delegation must be sent to tell
them the truth.
Cries, "You are anticipating the will of the All-Russian Congress of
Trotzky, coldly, "The will of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets
has been anticipated by the rising of the Petrograd workers and
So we came into the great meeting-hall, pushing through the
clamorous mob at the door. In the rows of seats, under the white
chandeliers, packed immovably in the aisles and on the sides,
perched on every window-sill, and even the edge of the platform, the
representatives of the workers and soldiers of all Russia waited in
anxious silence or wild exultation the ringing of the chairman's
bell. There was no heat in the hall but the stifling heat of
unwashed human bodies. A foul blue cloud of cigarette smoke rose
from the mass and hung in the thick air. Occasionally some one in
authority mounted the tribune and asked the comrades not to smoke;
then everybody, smokers and all, took up the cry "Don't smoke,
comrades!" and went on smoking. Petrovsky, Anarchist delegate from
the Obukhov factory, made a seat for me beside him. Unshaven and
filthy, he was reeling from three nights' sleepless work on the
Military Revolutionary Committee.
On the platform sat the leaders of the old _Tsay-ee-kah_-for the
last time dominating the turbulent Soviets, which they had ruled
from the first days, and which were now risen against them. It was
the end of the first period of the Russian revolution, which these
men had attempted to guide in careful ways.... The three greatest of
them were not there: Kerensky, flying to the front through country
towns all doubtfully heaving up; Tcheidze, the old eagle, who had
contemptuously retired to his own Georgian mountains, there to
sicken with consumption; and the high-souled Tseretelli, also
mortally stricken, who, nevertheless, would return and pour out his
beautiful eloquence for a lost cause. Gotz sat there, Dan, Lieber,
Bogdanov, Broido, Fillipovsky,-white-faced, hollow-eyed and
indignant. Below them the second _siezd_ of the All-Russian Soviets
boiled and swirled, and over their heads the Military Revolutionary
Committee functioned white-hot, holding in its hands the threads of
insurrection and striking with a long arm.... It was 10.40 P. M.
Dan, a mild-faced, baldish figure in a shapeless military surgeon's
uniform, was ringing the bell. Silence fell sharply, intense, broken
by the scuffling and disputing of the people at the door....
"We have the power in our hands," he began sadly, stopped for a
moment, and then went on in a low voice. "Comrades! The Congress of
Soviets in meeting in such unusual circumstances and in such an
extraordinary moment that you will understand why the _Tsay-ee-kah_
considers it unnecessary to address you with a political speech.
This will become much clearer to you if you will recollect that I am
a member of the _Tsay-ee-kah,_ and that at this very moment our
party comrades are in the Winter Palace under bombardment,
sacrificing themselves to execute the duty put on them by the
_Tsay-ee-kah."_ (Confused uproar.)
"I declare the first session of the Second Congress of Soviets of
Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies open!"
The election of the presidium took place amid stir and moving about.
Avanessov announced that by agreement of the Bolsheviki, Left
Socialist Revolutionaries and Mensheviki Internationalists, it was
decided to base the presidium upon proportionality. Several
Mensheviki leaped to their feet protesting. A bearded soldier
shouted at them, "Remember what you did to us Bolsheviki when _we_
were the minority!" Result-14 Bolsheviki, 7 Socialist
Revolutionaries, 3 Mensheviki and 1 Internationalist (Gorky's
group). Hendelmann, for the right and centre Socialist
Revolutionaries, said that they refused to take part in the
presidium; the same from Kintchuk, for the Mensheviki; and from the
Mensheviki Internationalists, that until the verification of certain
circumstances, they too could not enter the presidium. Scattering
applause and hoots. One voice, "Renegades, you call yourselves
Socialists!" A representative of the Ukrainean delegates demanded,
and received, a place. Then the old _Tsay-ee-kah_ stepped down, and
in their places appeared Trotzky, Kameniev, Lunatcharsky, Madame
Kollentai, Nogin.... The hall rose, thundering. How far they had
soared, these Bolsheviki, from a despised and hunted sect less than
four months ago, to this supreme place, the helm of great Russia in
full tide of insurrection!
The order of the day, said Kameniev, was first, Organisation of
Power; second, War and Peace; and third, the Constituent Assembly.
Lozovsky, rising, announced that upon agreement of the bureau of all
factions, it was proposed to hear and discuss the report of the
Petrograd Soviet, then to give the floor to members of the
_Tsay-ee-kah_ and the different parties, and finally to pass to the
order of the day.
But suddenly a new sound made itself heard, deeper than the tumult
of the crowd, persistent, disquieting,-the dull shock of guns.
People looked anxiously toward the clouded windows, and a sort of
fever came over them. Martov, demanding the floor, croaked hoarsely,
"The civil war is beginning, comrades! The first question must be a
peaceful settlement of the crisis. On principle and from a political
standpoint we must urgently discuss a means of averting civil war.
Our brothers are being shot down in the streets! At this moment,
when before the opening of the Congress of Soviets the question of
Power is being settled by means of a military plot organised by one
of the revolutionary parties-" for a moment he could not make
himself heard above the noise, "All of the revolutionary parties
must face the fact! The first _vopros_ (question) before the
Congress is the question of Power, and this question is already
being settled by force of arms in the streets!... We must create a
power which will be recognised by the whole democracy. If the
Congress wishes to be the voice of the revolutionary democracy it
must not sit with folded hands before the developing civil war, the
result of which may be a dangerous outburst of counter-revolution....
The possibility of a peaceful outcome lies in the formation of a
united democratic authority.... We must elect a delegation to
negotiate with the other Socialist parties and organisation....
Always the methodical muffled boom of cannon through the windows,
and the delegates, screaming at each other.... So, with the crash of
artillery, in the dark, with hatred, and fear, and reckless daring,
new Russia was being born.
The Left Socialist Revolutionaries and the United Social Democrats
supported Martov's proposition. It was accepted. A soldier announced
that the All-Russian Peasants' Soviets had refused to send delegates
to the Congress; he proposed that a committee be sent with a formal
invitation. "Some delegates are present," he said. "I move that they
be given votes." Accepted.
Kharash, wearing the epaulets of a captain, passionately demanded
the floor. "The political hypocrites who control this Congress," he
shouted, "told us we were to settle the question of Power-and it is
being settled behind our backs, before the Congress opens! Blows are
being struck against the Winter Palace, and it is by such blows that
the nails are being driven into the coffin of the political party
which has risked such an adventure!" Uproar. Followed him Gharra:
"While we are here discussing propositions of peace, there is a
battle on in the streets.... The Socialist Revolutionaries and the
Mensheviki refuse to be involved in what is happening, and call upon
all public forces to resist the attempt to capture the power...."
Kutchin, delegate of the 12th Army and representative of the
Troudoviki: "I was sent here only for information, and I am
returning at once to the Front, where all the Army Committees
consider that the taking of power by the Soviets, only three weeks
before the Constituent Assembly, is a stab in the back of the Army
and a crime against the people-!" Shouts of "Lie! You lie!"... When he
could be heard again, "Let's make an end of this adventure in
Petrograd! I call upon all delegates to leave this hall in order to
save the country and the Revolution!" As he went down the aisle in
the midst of a deafening noise, people surged in upon him,
threatening.... Then Khintchuk, an officer with a long brown goatee,
speaking suavely and persuasively: "I speak for the delegates from
the Front. The Army is imperfectly represented in this Congress, and
furthermore, the Army does not consider the Congress of Soviets
necessary at this time, only three weeks before the opening of the
Constituent-" shouts and stamping, always growing more violent. "The
Army does not consider that the Congress of Soviets has the
necessary authority-" Soldiers began to stand up all over the hall.
"Who are you speaking for? What do you represent?" they cried.
"The Central Executive Committee of the Soviet of the Fifth Army,
the Second F- regiment, the First N- Regiment, the Third S- Rifles...."
"When were you elected? You represent the officers, not the
soldiers! What do the soldiers say about it?" Jeers and hoots.
"We, the Front group, disclaim all responsibility for what has
happened and is happening, and we consider it necessary to mobilise
all self-conscious revolutionary forces for the salvation of the
Revolution! The Front group will leave the Congress.... The place to
fight is out on the streets!"
Immense bawling outcry. "You speak for the Staff-not for the Army!"
"I appeal to all reasonable soldiers to leave this Congress!"
"Kornilovitz! Counter-revolutionist! Provocator!" were hurled at him.
On behalf of the Mensheviki, Khintchuk then announced that the only
possibility of a peaceful solution was to begin negotiations with
the Provisional Government for the formation of a new Cabinet, which
would find support in all strata of society. He could not proceed
for several minutes. Raising his voice to a shout he read the
"Because the Bolsheviki have made a military conspiracy with the aid
of the Petrograd Soviet, without consulting the other factions and
parties, we find it impossible to remain in the Congress, and
therefore withdraw, inviting the other groups to follow us and to
meet for discussion of the situation!"
"Deserter!" At intervals in the almost continuous disturbance
Hendelman, for the Socialist Revolutionaries, could be heard
protesting against the bombardment of the Winter Palace.... "We are
opposed to this kind of anarchy...."
Scarcely had he stepped down than a young, lean-faced soldier, with
flashing eyes, leaped to the platform, and dramatically lifted his
"Comrades!" he cried and there was a hush. "My _familia_ (name) is
Peterson-I speak for the Second Lettish Rifles. You have heard the
statements of two representatives of the Army committees; these
statements would have some value _if their authors had been
representatives of the Army_-" Wild applause. _"But they do not
represent the soldiers!"_ Shaking his fist. "The Twelfth Army has
been insisting for a long time upon the re-election of the Great
Soviet and the Army Committee, but just as your own _Tsay-ee-kah,_
our Committee refused to call a meeting of the representatives of
the masses until the end of September, so that the reactionaries
could elect their own false delegates to this Congress. I tell you
now, the Lettish soldiers have many times said, 'No more
resolutions! No more talk! We want deeds-the Power must be in our
hands!' Let these impostor delegates leave the Congress! The Army is
not with them!"
The hall rocked with cheering. In the first moments of the session,
stunned by the rapidity of events, startled by the sound of cannon,
the delegates had hesitated. For an hour hammer-blow after
hammer-blow had fallen from that tribune, welding them together but
beating them down. Did they stand then alone? Was Russia rising
against them? Was it true that the Army was marching on Petrograd?
Then this clear-eyed young soldier had spoken, and in a flash they
knew it for the truth.... _This_ was the voice of the soldiers-the
stirring millions of uniformed workers and peasants were men like
them, and their thoughts and feelings were the same...
More soldiers ... Gzhelshakh; for the Front delegates, announcing that
they had only decided to leave the Congress by a small majority, and
that _the Bolshevik members had not even taken part in the vote,_ as
they stood for division according to political parties, and not
groups. "Hundreds of delegates from the Front," he said, "are being
elected without the participation of the soldiers because the Army
Committees are no longer the real representatives of the rank and
file...." Lukianov, crying that officers like Kharash and Khintchuk
could not represent the Army in this congress,-but only the high
command. "The real inhabitants of the trenches want with all their
hearts the transfer of Power into the hands of the Soviets, and they
expect very much from it!"... The tide was turning.
Then came Abramovitch, for the _Bund,_ the organ of the Jewish
Social Democrats-his eyes snapping behind thick glasses, trembling
"What is taking place now in Petrograd is a monstrous calamity! The
_Bund_ group joins with the declaration of the Mensheviki and
Socialist Revolutionaries and will leave the Congress!" He raised
his voice and hand. "Our duty to the Russian proletariat doesn't
permit us to remain here and be responsible for these crimes.
Because the firing on the Winter Palace doesn't cease, the Municipal
Duma together with the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries, and
the Executive Committee of the Peasants' Soviet, has decided to
perish with the Provisional Government, and we are going with them!
Unarmed we will expose our breasts to the machine guns of the
Terrorists.... We invite all delegates to this Congress-" The rest was
lost in a storm of hoots, menaces and curses which rose to a hellish
pitch as fifty delegates got up and pushed their way out....
Kameniev jangled the bell, shouting, "Keep your seats and we'll go
on with our business!" And Trotzky, standing up with a pale, cruel
face, letting out his rich voice in cool contempt, "All these
so-called Socialist compromisers, these frightened Mensheviki,
Socialist Revolutionaries, _Bund_-let them go! They are just so much
refuse which will be swept into the garbage-heap of history!"
Riazanov, for the Bolsheviki, stated that at the request of the City
Duma the Military Revolutionary Committee had sent a delegation to
offer negotiations to the Winter Palace. "In this way we have done
everything possible to avoid blood-shed...."
We hurried from the place, stopping for a moment at the room where
the Military Revolutionary Committee worked at furious speed,
engulfing and spitting out panting couriers, despatching Commissars
armed with power of life and death to all the corners of the city,
amid the buzz of the telephonographs. The door opened, a blast of
stale air and cigarette smoke rushed out, we caught a glimpse of
dishevelled men bending over a map under the glare of a shaded
electric-light.... Comrade Josephov-Dukhvinski, a smiling youth with a
mop of pale yellow hair, made out passes for us.
When we came into the chill night, all the front of Smolny was one
huge park of arriving and departing automobiles, above the sound of
which could be heard the far-off slow beat of the cannon. A great
motor-truck stood there, shaking to the roar of its engine. Men were
tossing bundles into it, and others receiving them, with guns beside
"Where are you going?" I shouted.
"Down-town-all over-everywhere!" answered a little workman,
grinning, with a large exultant gesture.
We showed our passes. "Come along!" they invited. "But there'll
probably be shooting-" We climbed in; the clutch slid home with a
raking jar, the great car jerked forward, we all toppled backward on
top of those who were climbing in; past the huge fire by the gate,
and then the fire by the outer gate, glowing red on the faces of the
workmen with rifles who squatted around it, and went bumping at top
speed down the Suvorovsky Prospect, swaying from side to side.... One
man tore the wrapping from a bundle and began to hurl handfuls of l handfuls of | |
papers into the air. We imitated him, plunging down through the dark
street with a tail of white papers floating and eddying out behind.
The late passerby stooped to pick them up; the patrols around
bonfires on the corners ran out with uplifted arms to catch them.
Sometimes armed men loomed up ahead, crying "_Shtoi!_" and raising
their guns, but our chauffeur only yelled something unintelligible
and we hurtled on....
I picked up a copy of the paper, and under a fleeting street-light