Part 3 out of 8
TO THE CITIZENS OF RUSSIA!
The Provisional Government is deposed. The State Power has passed
into the hands of the organ of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and
Soldiers' Deputies, the Military Revolutionary Committee, which
stands at the head of the Petrograd proletariat and garrison.
The cause for which the people were fighting: immediate proposal of
a democratic peace, abolition of landlord property-rights over the
land, labor control over production, creation of a Soviet
Government-that cause is securely achieved.
LONG LIVE THE REVOLUTION OF WORKMEN, SOLDIERS AND PEASANTS!
_Military Revolutionary Committee_
_Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies._
[Graphic page-96 Proclamation in Russian, title follows] | _ 111_ |
Proclamation of the Fall of the Provisional Government issued by the
Military Revolutionary Committee on the night of November 7th (our
calendar), which we helped to distribute from a motor-truck just
after the surrender of the Winter Palace.
A slant-eyed, Mongolian-faced man who sat beside me, dressed in a
goat-skin Caucasian cape, snapped, "Look out! Here the provocators
always shoot from the windows!" We turned into Znamensky Square,
dark and almost deserted, careened around Trubetskoy's brutal statue
and swung down the wide Nevsky, three men standing up with rifles
ready, peering at the windows. Behind us the street was alive with
people running and stooping. We could no longer hear the cannon, and
the nearer we drew to the Winter Palace end of the city the quieter
and more deserted were the streets. The City Duma was all brightly
lighted. Beyond that we made out a dark mass of people, and a line
of sailors, who yelled furiously at us to stop. The machine slowed
down, and we climbed out.
It was an astonishing scene. Just at the corner of the Ekaterina
Canal, under an arc-light, a cordon of armed sailors was drawn
across the Nevsky, blocking the way to a crowd of people in column
of fours. There were about three or four hundred of them, men in
frock coats, well-dressed women, officers-all sorts and conditions
of people. Among them we recognised many of the delegates from the
Congress, leaders of the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries;
Avksentiev, the lean, red-bearded president of the Peasants'
Soviets, Sarokin, Kerensky's spokesman, Khintchuk, Abramovitch; and
at the head white-bearded old Schreider, Mayor of Petrograd, and
Prokopovitch, Minister of Supplies in the Provisional Government,
arrested that morning and released. I caught sight of Malkin,
reporter for the _Russian Daily News._ "Going to die in the Winter
Palace," he shouted cheerfully. The procession stood still, but from
the front of it came loud argument. Schreider and Prokopovitch were
bellowing at the big sailor who seemed in command.
"We demand to pass!" they cried. "See, these comrades come from the
Congress of Soviets! Look at their tickets! We are going to the
The sailor was plainly puzzled. He scratched his head with an
enormous hand, frowning. "I have orders from the Committee not to
let anybody go to the Winter Palace," he grumbled. "But I will send
a comrade to telephone to Smolny...."
"We Insist upon passing! We are unarmed! We will march on whether
you permit us or not!" cried old Schreider, very much excited.
"I have orders-" repeated the sailor sullenly.
"Shoot us if you want to! We will pass! Forward!" came from all
sides. "We are ready to die, if you have the heart to fire on
Russians and comrades! We bare our breasts to your guns!"
"No," said the sailor, looking stubborn, "I can't allow you to pass."
"What will you do if we go forward? Will you shoot?"
"No, I'm not going to shoot people who haven't any guns. We won't
shoot unarmed Russian people...."
"We will go forward! What can you do?"
"We will do something,"replied the sailor, evidently at a loss. "We
can't let you pass. We will do something."
"What will you do? What will you do?"
Another sailor came up, very much irritated. "We will spank you!" he
cried, energetically. "And if necessary we will shoot you too. Go
home now, and leave us in peace!"
At this there was a great clamour of anger and resentment,
Prokopovitch had mounted some sort of box, and, waving his umbrella,
he made a speech:
"Comrades and citizens!" he said. "Force is being used against us!
We cannot have our innocent blood upon the hands of these ignorant
men! It is beneath our dignity to be shot down here in the street by
switchmen-" (What he meant by "switchmen" I never discovered.) "Let
us return to the Duma and discuss the best means of saving the
country and the Revolution!"
Whereupon, in dignified silence, the procession marched around and
back up the Nevsky, always in column of fours. And taking advantage
of the diversion we slipped past the guards and set off in the
direction of the Winter Palace.
Here it was absolutely dark, and nothing moved but pickets of
soldiers and Red Guards grimly intent. In front of the Kazan
Cathedral a three-inch field-gun lay in the middle of the street,
slewed sideways from the recoil of its last shot over the roofs.
Soldiers were standing in every doorway talking in low tones and
peering down toward the Police Bridge. I heard one voice saying: "It
is possible that we have done wrong...." At the corners patrols
stopped all passersby-and the composition of these patrols was
interesting, for in command of the regular troops was invariably a
Red Guard.... The shooting had ceased.
Just as we came to the Morskaya somebody was shouting: "The
_yunkers_ have sent word they want us to go and get them out!"
Voices began to give commands, and in the thick gloom we made out a
dark mass moving forward, silent but for the shuffle of feet and the
clinking of arms. We fell in with the first ranks.
Like a black river, filling all the street, without song or cheer we
poured through the Red Arch, where the man just ahead of me said in
a low voice: "Look out, comrades! Don't trust them. They will fire,
surely!" In the open we began to run, stooping low and bunching
together, and jammed up suddenly behind the pedestal of the
"How many of you did they kill?" I asked.
"I don't know. About ten...."
After a few minutes huddling there, some hundreds of men, the army
seemed reassured and without any orders suddenly began again to flow
forward. By this time, in the light that streamed out of all the
Winter Palace windows, I could see that the first two or three
hundred men were Red Guards, with only a few scattered soldiers.
Over the barricade of firewood we clambered, and leaping down inside
gave a triumphant shout as we stumbled on a heap of rifles thrown
down by the _yunkers_ who had stood there. On both sides of the main
gateway the doors stood wide open, light streamed out, and from the
huge pile came not the slightest sound.
Carried along by the eager wave of men we were swept into the right
hand entrance, opening into a great bare vaulted room, the cellar of
the East wing, from which issued a maze of corridors and
stair-cases. A number of huge packing cases stood about, and upon
these the Red Guards and soldiers fell furiously, battering them
open with the butts of their rifles, and pulling out carpets,
curtains, linen, porcelain plates, glassware.... One man went
strutting around with a bronze clock perched on his shoulder;
another found a plume of ostrich feathers, which he stuck in his
hat. The looting was just beginning when somebody cried, "Comrades!
Don't touch anything! Don't take anything! This is the property of
the People!" Immediately twenty voices were crying, "Stop! Put
everything back! Don't take anything! Property of the People!" Many
hands dragged the spoilers down. Damask and tapestry were snatched
from the arms of those who had them; two men took away the bronze
clock. Roughly and hastily the things were crammed back in their
cases, and self-appointed sentinels stood guard. It was all utterly
spontaneous. Through corridors and up stair-cases the cry could be
heard growing fainter and fainter in the distance, "Revolutionary
discipline! Property of the People...."
We crossed back over to the left entrance, in the West wing. There
order was also being established. "Clear the Palace!" bawled a Red
Guard, sticking his head through an inner door. "Come, comrades,
let's show that we're not thieves and bandits. Everybody out of the
Palace except the Commissars, until we get sentries posted."
Two Red Guards, a soldier and an officer, stood with revolvers in
their hands. Another soldier sat at a table behind them, with pen
and paper. Shouts of "All out! All out!" were heard far and near
within, and the Army began to pour through the door, jostling,
expostulating, arguing. As each man appeared he was seized by the
self-appointed committee, who went through his pockets and looked
under his coat. Everything that was plainly not his property was
taken away, the man at the table noted it on his paper, and it was
carried into a little room. The most amazing assortment of objects
were thus confiscated; statuettes, bottles of ink, bed-spreads
worked with the Imperial monogram, candles, a small oil-painting,
desk blotters, gold-handled swords, cakes of soap, clothes of every
description, blankets. One Red Guard carried three rifles, two of
which he had taken away from _yunkers;_ another had four portfolios
bulging with written documents. The culprits either sullenly
surrendered or pleaded like children. All talking at once the
committee explained that stealing was not worthy of the people's
champions; often those who had been caught turned around and began
to help go through the rest of the comrades. (See App. IV, Sect. 3)
_Yunkers_ came out, in bunches of three or four. The committee
seized upon them with an excess of zeal, accompanying the search
with remarks like, "Ah, Provocators! Kornilovists!
Counter-revolutionists! Murderers of the People!" But there was no
violence done, although the _yunkers_ were terrified. They too had
their pockets full of small plunder. It was carefully noted down by
the scribe, and piled in the little room.... The _yunkers_ were
disarmed. "Now, will you take up arms against the People any more?"
demanded clamouring voices.
"No," answered the _yunkers,_ one by one. Whereupon they were
allowed to go free.
We asked if we might go inside. The committee was doubtful, but the
big Red Guard answered firmly that it was forbidden. "Who are you
anyway?" he asked. "How do I know that you are not all Kerenskys?
(There were five of us, two women.)
"_Pazhal'st', touarishtchi!_ Way, Comrades!" A soldier and a Red
Guard appeared in the door, waving the crowd aside, and other guards
with fixed bayonets. After them followed single file half a dozen
men in civilian dress-the members of the Provisional Government.
First came Kishkin, his face drawn and pale, then Rutenberg, looking
sullenly at the floor; Terestchenko was next, glancing sharply
around; he stared at us with cold fixity.... They passed in silence;
the victorious insurrectionists crowded to see, but there were only
a few angry mutterings. It was only later that we learned how the
people in the street wanted to lynch them, and shots were fired-but
the sailors brought them safely to Peter-Paul....
In the meanwhile unrebuked we walked into the Palace. There was
still a great deal of coming and going, of exploring new-found
apartments in the vast edifice, of searching for hidden garrisons of
_yunkers_ which did not exist. We went upstairs and wandered through
room after room. This part of the Palace had been entered also by
other detachments from the side of the Neva. The paintings, statues,
tapestries and rugs of the great state apartments were unharmed; in
the offices, however, every desk and cabinet had been ransacked, the
papers scattered over the floor, and in the living rooms beds had
been stripped of their coverings and ward-robes wrenched open. The
most highly prized loot was clothing, which the working people
needed. In a room where furniture was stored we came upon two
soldiers ripping the elaborate Spanish leather upholstery from
chairs. They explained it was to make boots with....
The old Palace servants in their blue and red and gold uniforms
stood nervously about, from force of habit repeating, "You can't go
in there, _barin!_ It is forbidden-" We penetrated at length to the
gold and malachite chamber with crimson brocade hangings where the
Ministers had been in session all that day and night, and where the
_shveitzari_ had betrayed them to the Red Guards. The long table
covered with green baize was just as they had left it, under arrest.
Before each empty seat was pen and ink and paper; the papers were
scribbled over with beginnings of plans of action, rough drafts of
proclamations and manifestos. Most of these were scratched out, as
their futility became evident, and the rest of the sheet covered
with absent-minded geometrical designs, as the writers sat
despondently listening while Minister after Minister proposed
chimerical schemes. I took one of these scribbled pages, in the hand
writing of Konovalov, which read, "The Provisional Government
appeals to all classes to support the Provisional Government-"
All this time, it must be remembered, although the Winter Palace was
surrounded, the Government was in constant communication with the
Front and with provincial Russia. The Bolsheviki had captured the
Ministry of War early in the morning, but they did not know of the
military telegraph office in the attic, nor of the private telephone
line connecting it with the Winter Palace. In that attic a young
officer sat all day, pouring out over the country a flood of appeals
and proclamations; and when he heard that the Palace had fallen, put
on his hat and walked calmly out of the building....
Interested as we were, for a considerable time we didn't notice a
change in the attitude of the soldiers and Red Guards around us. As
we strolled from room to room a small group followed us, until by
the time we reached the great picture-gallery where we had spent the
afternoon with the _yunkers,_ about a hundred men surged in after
us. One giant of a soldier stood in our path, his face dark with
[Graphic page-104 Doodling by Konavalov, title follows]
Facsimile of the beginning of a proclamation, written in pencil by
A.I. Konovalov, Minister of Commerce and Industry in he Provisional
Government, and then scratched out as the hopelessness of the
situation became more and more evident. The geometrical figure
beneath was probably idly drawn while the Ministers were waiting for
"Who are you?" he growled. "What are you doing here?" The others
massed slowly around, staring and beginning to mutter.
_"Provocatori!"_ I heard somebody say. "Looters!" I produced our
passes from the Military Revolutionary Committee. The soldier took
them gingerly, turned them upside down and looked at them without
comprehension. Evidently he could not read. He handed them back and
spat on the floor. _"Bumagi!_ Papers!" said he with contempt. The
mass slowly began to close in, like wild cattle around a cowpuncher
on foot. Over their heads I caught sight of an officer, looking
helpless, and shouted to him. He made for us, shouldering his way
"I'm the Commissar," he said to me. "Who are you? What is it?" The
others held back, waiting. I produced the papers.
"You are foreigners?" he rapidly asked in Franch. "It is very
dangerous...." Then he turned to the mob, holding up our documents.
"Comrades!" he cried. "These people are foreign comrades-from
America. They have come here to be able to tell their countrymen
about the bravery and the revolutionary discipline of the
"How do you know that?" replied the big soldier. "I tell you they
are provocators! They say they came here to observe the
revolutionary discipline of the proletarian army, but they have been
wandering freely through the Palace, and how do we know they haven't
got their pockets full of loot?"
_"Pravilno!"_ snarled the others, pressing forward.
"Comrades! Comrades!" appealed the officer, sweat standing out on
his forehead. "I am Commissar of the Military Revolutionary
Committee. Do you trust me? Well, I tell you that these passes are
signed with the same names that are signed to my pass!"
He led us down through the Palace and out through a door opening
onto the Neva quay, before which stood the usual committee going
through pockets... "You have narrowly escaped," he kept muttering,
wiping his face.
"What happened to the Women's Battalion?" we asked.
"Oh-the women!" He laughed. "They were all huddled up in a back
room. We had a terrible time deciding what to do with them-many were
in hysterics, and so on. So finally we marched them up to the
Finland Station and put them on a train for Levashovo, where they
have a camp. (See App. IV, Sect. 4)....
We came out into the cold, nervous night, murmurous with obscure
armies on the move, electric with patrols. From across the river,
where loomed the darker mass of Peter-Paul, came a hoarse shout....
Underfoot the sidewalk was littered with broken stucco, from the
cornice of the Palace where two shells from the battleship _Avrora_
had struck; that was the only damage done by the bombardment....
It was now after three in the morning. On the Nevsky all the
street-lights were again shining, the cannon gone, and the only
signs of war were Red Guards and soldiers squatting around fires.
The city was quiet-probably never so quiet in its history; on that
night not a single hold-up occurred, not a single robbery.
But the City Duma Building was all illuminated. We mounted to the
galleried Alexander Hall, hung with its great, gold-framed,
red-shrouded Imperial portraits. About a hundred people were grouped
around the platform, where Skobeliev was speaking. He urged that the
Committee of Public Safety be expanded, so as to unite all the
anti-Bolshevik elements in one huge organisation, to be called the
Committee for Salvation of Country and Revolution. And as we looked
on, the Committee for Salvation was formed-that Committee which was
to develop into the most powerful enemy of the Bolsheviki,
appearing, in the next week, sometimes under its own partisan name,
and sometimes as the strictly non-partisan Committee of Public
Dan, Gotz, Avkesntiev were there, some of the insurgent Soviet
delegates, members of the Executive Committee of the Peasants'
Soviets, old Prokopovitch, and even members of the Council of the
Republic-among whom Vinaver and other Cadets. Lieber cried that the
convention of Soviets was not a legal convention, that the old
_Tsay-ee-kah_ was still in office.... An appeal to the country was
We hailed a cab. "Where to?" But when we said "Smolny," the
_izvoshtchik_ shook his head. _"Niet!"_ said he, "there are
devils...." It was only after weary wandering that we found a driver
willing to take us-and he wanted thirty rubles, and stopped two
The windows of Smolny were still ablaze, motors came and went, and
around the still-leaping fires the sentries huddled close, eagerly
asking everybody the latest news. The corridors were full of
hurrying men, hollow-eyed and dirty. In some of the committee-rooms
people lay sleeping on the floor, their guns beside them. In spite
of the seceding delegates, the hall of meetings was crowded with
people, roaring like the sea. As we came in, Kameniev was reading
the list of arrested Ministers. The name of Terestchenko was greeted
with thunderous applause, shouts of satisfaction, laughter;
Rutenburg came in for less; and at the mention of Paltchinsky, a
storm of hoots, angry cries, cheers burst forth.... It was announced
that Tchudnovsky had been appointed Commissar of the Winter Palace.
Now occurred a dramatic interruption. A big peasant, his bearded
face convulsed with rage, mounted the platform and pounded with his
fist on the presidium table.
"We, Socialist Revolutionaries, insist upon the immediate release of
the Socialist Ministers arrested in the Winter Palace! Comrades! Do
you know that four comrades who risked their lives and their freedom
fighting against tyranny of the Tsar, have been flung into
Peter-Paul prison-the historical tomb of Liberty?" In the uproar he
pounded and yelled. Another delegate climbed up beside him, and
pointed at the presidium.
"Are the representatives of the revolutionary masses going to sit
quietly here while the _Okhrana_ of the Bolsheviki tortures their
Trotzky was gesturing for silence. "These 'comrades' who are now
caught plotting the crushing of the Soviets with the adventurer
Kerensky-is there any reason to handle them with gloves? After July
16th and 18th they didn't use much ceremony with us!" With a
triumphant ring in his voice he cried, "Now that the _oborontsi_ and
the faint-hearted have gone, and the whole task of defending and
saving the Revolution rests on our shoulders, it is particularly
necessary to work-work-work! We have decided to die rather than give
Followed him a Commissar from Tsarskoye Selo, panting and covered
with the mud of his ride. "The garrison of Tsarskoye Selo is on
guard at the gates of Petrograd, ready to defend the Soviets and the
Military Revolutionary Committee!" Wild cheers. "The Cycle Corps
sent from the front has arrived at Tsarskoye, and the soldiers are
now with us; they recognise the power of the Soviets, the necessity
of immediate transfer of land to the peasants and industrial control
to the workers. The Fifth Battalion of Cyclists, stationed at
Tsarskoye, is ours....
Then the delegate of the Third Cycle Battalion. In the midst of
delirious enthusiasm he told how the cycle corps had been ordered
_three days before_ from the South-west front to the "defence of
Petrograd." They suspected, however, the meaning of the order; and
at the station of Peredolsk were met by representatives of the Fifth
Battalion from Tsarskoye. A joint meeting was held, and it was
discovered that "among the cyclists not a single man was found
willing to shed the blood of his brothers, or to support a
Government of bourgeois and land-owners!"
Kapelinski, for the Mensheviki Internationalists, proposed to elect
a special committee to find a peaceful solution to the civil war.
"There isn't any peaceful solution!" bellowed the crowed. "Victory
is the only solution!" The vote was overwhelmingly against, and the
Mensheviki Internationalists left the Congress in a Whirlwind of
Jocular insults. There was no longer any panic fear.... Kameniev from
the platform shouted after them, "The Mensheviki Internationalists
claimed 'emergency' for the question of a 'peaceful solution,' but
they always voted for suspension of the order of the day in favour
of declarations of factions which wanted to leave the Congress. It
is evident," finished Kameniev, "that the withdrawal of all these
renegades was decided upon beforehand!"
The assembly decided to ignore the withdrawal of the factions, and
proceed to the appeal to the workers, soldiers and peasants of all
TO WORKERS, SOLDIERS AND PEASANTS
The Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers'
Deputies has opened. It represents the great majority of the
Soviets. There are also a number of Peasant deputies. Based upon the
will of the great majority of the workers', soldiers and peasants,
based upon the triumphant uprising of the Petrograd workmen and
soldiers, the Congress assumes the Power.
The Provisional Government is deposed. Most of the members of the
Provisional Government are already arrested.
The Soviet authority will at once propose an immediate democratic
peace to all nations, and an immediate truce on all fronts. It will
assure the free transfer of landlord, crown and monastery lands to
the Land Committees, defend the soldiers rights, enforcing a
complete democratisation of the Army, establish workers' control
over production, ensure the convocation of the Constituent Assembly
at the proper date, take means to supply bread to the cities and
articles of first necessity to the villages, and secure to all
nationalities living in Russia a real right to independent existence.
The Congress resolves: that all local power shall be transferred to
the Soviets of Workers,' Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies, which
must enforce revolutionary order.
The Congress calls upon the soldiers in the trenches to be watchful
and steadfast. The Congress of Soviets is sure that the
revolutionary Army will know how to defend the Revolution against
all attacks of Imperialism, until the new Government shall have
brought about the conclusion of the democratic peace which it will
directly propose to all nations. The new Government will take all
necessary steps to secure everything needful to the revolutionary
Army, by means of a determined policy of requisition and taxation of
the propertied classes, and also to improve the situation of
The Kornilovitz-Kerensky, Kaledin and others, are endeavouring to
lead troops against Petrograd. Several regiments, deceived by
Kerensky, have sided with the insurgent People.
Soldiers! Make active resistance to the Kornilovitz-Kerensky! Be on
Railway men! Stop all troop-trains being sent by Kerensky against
Soldiers, Workers, Clerical employees! The destiny of the Revolution
and democratic peace is in your hands!
Long live the Revolution!
_The All-Russian Congress of Soviets of_
_Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies._
_Delegates from the Peasants' Soviets._
It was exactly 5:17 A.M. when Krylenko, staggering with fatigue,
climbed to the tribune with a telegram in his hand.
"Comrades! From the Northern Front. The Twelfth Army sends greetings
to the Congress of Soviets, announcing the formation of a Military
Revolutionary Committee which has taken over the command of the
Northern Front!" Pandemonium, men weeping, embracing each other.
"General Tchermissov has recognised the Committee-Commissar of the
Provisional Government Voitinsky has resigned!"
So. Lenin and the Petrograd workers had decided on insurrection, the
Petrograd Soviet had overthrown the Provisional Government, and
thrust the _coup d'etat_ upon the Congress of Soviets. Now there was
all great Russia to win-and then the world! Would Russia follow and
rise? And the world-what of it? Would the peoples answer and rise, a
Although it was six in the morning, night was yet heavy and chill.
There was only a faint unearthly pallor stealing over the silent
streets, dimming the watch-fires, the shadow of a terrible dawn
grey-rising over Russia....
THURSDAY, November 8th. Day broke on a city in the wildest
excitement and confusion, a whole nation having up in long hissing
swells of storm. Superficially all was quiet; hundreds of thousands
of people retired at a prudent hour, got up early, and went to work.
In Petrograd the street-cars were running, the stores and
restaurants open, theatres going, an exhibition of paintings
advertised.... All the complex routine of common life-humdrum even in
war-time-proceeded as usual. Nothing is so astounding as the
vitality of the social organism-how it persists, feeding itself,
clothing itself, amusing itself, in the face of the worst
The air was full of rumours about Kerensky, who was said to have
raised the Front, and to be leading a great army against the
capital. _Volia Naroda_ published a _prikaz_ launched by him at
The disorders caused by the insane attempt of the Bolsheviki place
the country on the verge of a precipice, and demand the effort of
our entire will, our courage and the devotion of every one of us, to
win through the terrible trial which the fatherland is undergoing....
Until the declaration of the composition of the new Government-if
one is formed-every one ought to remain at his post and fulfil his
duty toward bleeding Russia. It must be remembered that the least
interference with existing Army organisations can bring on
irreparable misfortunes, by opening the Front to the enemy.
Therefore it is indispensable to preserve at any price the morale of
the troops, by assuring complete order and the preservation of the
Army from new shocks, and by maintaining absolute confidence between
officers and their subordinates. I order all the chiefs and
Commissars, in the name of the safety of the country, to stay at
their posts, as I myself retain the post of Supreme Commander, until
the Provisional Government of the Republic shall declare its will....
In answer, this placard on all the walls:
FROM THE ALL-RUSSIAN CONGRESS OF SOVIETS
"The ex-Ministers Konovalov, Kishkin, Terestchenko, Maliantovitch,
Nikitin and others have been arrested by the Military Revolutionary
Committee. Kerensky has fled. All Army organisations are ordered to
take every measure for the immediate arrest of Kerensky and his
conveyance to Petrograd.
"All assistance given to Kerensky will be punished as a serious
crime against the state."
With brakes released the Military Revolutionary Committee whirled,
throwing off orders, appeals, decrees, like sparks. (See App. V,
Sect. 1)... Kornilov was ordered brought to Petrograd. Members of the
Peasant Land Committees imprisoned by the Provisional Government
were declared free. Capital punishment in the army was abolished.
Government employees were ordered to continue their work, and
threatened with severe penalties if they refused. All pillage,
disorder and speculation were forbidden under pain of death.
Temporary Commissars were appointed to the various Ministries:
Foreign Affairs, Vuritsky and Trotzky; Interior and Justice, Rykov;
Labor, Shliapnikov; Finance, Menzhinsky; Public Welfare, Madame
Kollontai; Commerce, Ways and Communications, Riazanov; Navy, the
sailor Korbir; Posts and Telegraphs, Spiro; Theatres, Muraviov;
State Printing Office, Gherbychev; for the City of Petrograd,
Lieutenant Nesterov; for the Northern Front, Pozern....
To the Army, appeal to set up Military Revolutionary Committees. To
the railway workers, to maintain order, especially not to delay the
transport of food to the cities and the front.... In return, they were
promised representation in the Ministry of Ways and Communications.
Cossack brothers! (said one proclamation). You are being led against
Petrograd. They want to force you into battle with the revolutionary
workers and soldiers of the capital. Do not believe a word that is
said by our common enemies, the land-owners and the capitalists.
At our Congress are represented all the conscious organisations of
workers, soldiers and peasants of Russia. The Congress wishes also
to welcome into its midst the worker-Cossacks. The Generals of the
Black Band, henchmen of the land-owners, of Nicolai the Cruel, are
They tell you that the Soviets wish to confiscate the lands of the
Cossacks. This is a lie. It is only from the great Cossack landlords
that the Revolution will confiscate the land to give it to the
Organise Soviets of Cossacks' Deputies! Join with the Soviets of
Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies!
Show the Black Band that you are not traitors to the People, and
that you do not wish to be cursed by the whole of revolutionary
Cossack brothers, execute no orders of the enemies of the people.
Send your delegates to Petrograd to talk it over with us.... The
Cossacks of the Petrograd garrison, to their honour, have not
justified the hope of the People's enemies....
Cossack brothers! The All-Russian Congress of Soviets extends to you
a fraternal hand. Long live the brotherhood of the Cossacks with the
soldiers, workers and peasants of all Russia!
On the other side, what a storm of proclamations posted up,
hand-bills scattered everywhere, newspapers-screaming and cursing
and prophesying evil. Now raged the battle of the printing press-all
other weapons being in the hands of the Soviets.
First, the appeal of the Committee for Salvation of Country and
Revolution, flung broadcast over Russia and Europe:
TO THE CITIZENS OF THE RUSSIAN REPUBLIC!
Contrary to the will of the revolutionary masses, on November 7th
the Bolsheviki of Petrograd criminally arrested part of the
Provisional Government, dispersed the Council of the Republic, and
proclaimed an illegal power. Such violence committed against the
Government of revolutionary Russia at the moment of its greatest
external danger, is an indescribable crime against the fatherland.
The insurrection of the Bolsheviki deals a mortal blow to the cause
of national defence, and postpones immeasurably the moment of peace
so greatly desired.
Civil war, begun by the Bolsheviki, threatens to deliver the country
to the horrors of anarchy and counter-revolution, and cause the
failure of the Constituent Assembly, which must affirm the
republican régime and transmit to the People forever their right to
Preserving the continuity of the only legal Governmental power, the
Committee for Salvation of Country and Revolution, established on
the night of November 7th, takes the initiative in forming a new
Provisional Government; which, basing itself on the forces of
democracy, will conduct the country to the Constituent Assembly and
save it from anarchy and counter-revolution. The Committee for
Salvation summons you, citizens, to refuse to recognise the power of
violence. Do not obey its orders!
Rise for the defence of the country and Revolution!
Support the Committee for Salvation!
Signed by the Council of the Russian Republic, the Municipal Duma of
Petrograd, the _Tsay-ee-kah (First Congress),_ the Executive
Committee of the Peasants' Soviets, and from the Congress itself the
Front group, the factions of Socialist Revolutionaries, Mensheviki,
Populist Socialists, Unified Social Democrats, and the group
Then posters from the Socialist Revolutionary party, the Mensheviki
_oborontsi,_ Peasants' Soviets again; from the Central Army
Committee, the _Tsentroflot_....
... Famine will crush Petrograd! (they cried). The German armies will
trample on our liberty. Black Hundred _pogroms_ will spread over
Russia, if we all-conscious workers, soldiers, citizens-do not
Do not trust the promises of the Bolsheviki! The promise of
immediate peace-is a lie! The promise of bread-a hoax! The promise
of land-a fairy tale!...
They were all in this manner.
Comrades! You have been basely and cruelly deceived! The seizure of
power has been accomplished by the Bolsheviki alone.... They concealed
their plot from the other Socialist parties composing the Soviet....
You have been promised land and freedom, but the counter-revolution
will profit by the anarchy called forth by the Bolsheviki, and will
deprive you of land and freedom....
The newspapers were as violent.
Our duty (said the _Dielo Naroda_) is to unmask these traitors to
the working-class. Our duty is to mobilise all our forces and mount
guard over the cause of the Revolution!...
_Izviestia,_ for the last time speaking in the name of the old
_Tsay-ee-kah,_ threatened awful retribution.
As for the Congress of Soviets, we affirm that there has been no
Congress of Soviets! We affirm that it was merely a private
conference of the Bolshevik faction! And in that case, they have no
right to cancel the powers of the _Tsay-ee-kah_....
_Novaya Zhizn,_ while pleading for a new Government that should
unite all the Socialist parties, criticised severely the action of
the Socialist Revolutionaries and the Mensheviki in quitting the
Congress, and pointed out that the Bolshevik insurrection meant one
thing very clearly: that all illusions about coalition with the
bourgeoisie were henceforth demonstrated vain...
_Rabotchi Put_ blossomed out as _Pravda,_ Lenin's newspaper which
had been suppressed in July. It crowed, bristling:
Workers, soldiers, peasants! In March you struck down the tyranny of
the clique of nobles. Yesterday you struck down the tyranny of the
The first task now is to guard the approaches to Petrograd.
The second is definitely to disarm the counter-revolutionary
elements of Petrograd.
The third is definitely to organise the revolutionary power and
assure the realisation of the popular programme...
What few Cadet organs appeared, and the bourgeoisie generally,
adopted a detached, ironical attitude toward the whole business, a
sort of contemptuous "I-told-you-so" to the other parties.
Influential Cadets were to be seen hovering around the Municipal
Duma, and on the outskirts of the Committee for Salvation. Other
than that, the bourgeoisie lay low, biding its hour-which could not
far off. That the Bolsheviki would remain in power longer than three
days never occurred to anybody-except perhaps to Lenin, Trotzky, the
Petrograd workers and the simpler soldiers....
In the high, amphitheatrical Nicolai Hall that afternoon I saw the
Duma sitting in _permanence,_ tempestuous, grouping around it all
the forces of opposition. The old Mayer, Schreider, majestic with
his white hair and beard, was describing his visit to Smolny the
night before, to protest in the name of the Municipal
Self-Government. "The Duma, being the only existing legal Government
in the city, elected by equal, direct and secret suffrage, would not
recognise the new power," he had told Trotzky. And Trotzky had
answered, "There is a constitutional remedy for that. The Duma can
be dissolved and re-elected...." At this report there was a furious
"If one recognises a Government by bayonet," continued the old man,
addressing the Duma, "well, we have one; but I consider legitimate
only a Government recognised by the majority, and not one created by
the usurpation of a minority!" Wild applause on all benches except
those of the Bolsheviki. Amid renewed tumult the Mayor announced
that the Bolsheviki already were violating Municipal autonomy by
appointing Commissars in many departments.
The Bolshevik speaker shouted, trying to make himself heard, that
the decision of the Congress of Soviets meant that all Russia backed
up the action of the Bolsheviki.
"You!" he cried. "You are not the real representative of the people
of Petrograd!" Shrieks of "Insult! Insult!" The old Mayor, with
dignity, reminded him that the Duma was elected by the freest
possible popular vote. "Yes," he answered, "but that was a long time
ago-like the _Tsay-ee-kah_-like the Army Committee."
"There has been no new Congress of Soviets!" they yelled at him.
"The Bolshevik faction refuses to remain any longer in this nest of
counter-revolution-" Uproar. "-and we demand a re-election of the
Duma...." Whereupon the Bolsheviki left the chamber, followed by cries
of "German agents! Down with the traitors!"
Shingariov, Cadet, then demanded that all Municipal functionaries
who had consented to be Commissars of the Military Revolutionary
Committee be discharged from their position and indicted. Schreider
was on his feet, putting a motion to the effect that the Duma
protested against the menace of the Bolsheviki to dissolve it, and
as the legal representative of the population, it would refuse to
leave its post.
Outside, the Alexander Hall was crowded for the meeting of the
Committee for Salvation, and Skobeliev was again speaking. "Never
yet," he said, "was the fate of the Revolution so acute, never yet
did the question of the existence of the Russian state excite so
much anxiety, never yet did history put so harshly and categorically
the question-is Russia to be or not to be! The great hour for the
salvation of the Revolution has arrived, and in consciousness
thereof we observe the close union of the live forces of the
revolutionary democracy, by whose organised will a centre for the
salvation of the country and the Revolution has already been
created...." And much of the same sort. "We shall die sooner than
surrender our post!"
Amid violent applause it was announced that the Union of Railway
Workers had joined the Committee for Salvation. A few moments later
the Post and Telegraph Employees came in; then some Mensheviki
Internationalists entered the hall, to cheers. The Railway men said
they did not recognise the Bolsheviki and had taken the entire
railroad apparatus into their own hands, refusing to entrust it to
any usurpatory power. The Telegraphers' delegate declared that the
operators had flatly refused to work their instruments as long as
the Bolshevik Commissar was in the office. The Postmen would not
deliver or accept mail at Smolny.... All the Smolny telephones were
cut off. With great glee it was reported how Uritzky had gone to the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs to demand the secret treaties, and how
Neratov had put him out. The Government employees were all stopping
It was war-war deliberately planned, Russian fashion; war by strike
and sabotage. As we sat there the chairman read a list of names and
assignments; so-and-so was to make the round of the Ministries;
another was to visit the banks; some ten or twelve were to work the
barracks and persuade the soldiers to remain neutral-"Russian
soldiers, do not shed the blood of your brothers!"; a committee was
to go and confer with Kerensky; still others were despatched to
provincial cities, to form branches of the Committee for Salvation,
and link together the anti-Bolshevik elements.
The crowd was in high spirits. "These Bolsheviki _will_ try to
dictate to the _intelligentzia?_ We'll show them!"... Nothing could be
more striking than the contrast between this assemblage and the
Congress of Soviets. There, great masses of shabby soldiers, grimy
workmen, peasants-poor men, bent and scarred in the brute struggle
for existence; here the Menshevik and Social Revolutionary
leaders-Avksentievs, Dans, Liebers,-the former Socialist
Ministers-Skobelievs, Tchernovs,-rubbed shoulders with Cadets like
oily Shatsky, sleek Vinaver; with journalists, students,
intellectuals of almost all camps. This Duma crowd was well-fed,
well-dressed; I did not see more than three proletarians among them
News came. Kornilov's faithful _Tekhintsi_ [*] had slaughtered his
[* See Notes and Explanations]
guards at Bykhov, and he had escaped. Kaledin was marching north....
The Soviet of Moscow had set up a Military Revolutionary Committee,
and was negotiating with the commandant of the city for possession
of the arsenal, so that the workers might be armed.
With these facts was mixed an astounding jumble of rumours,
distortions, and plain lies. For instance, an intelligent young
Cadet, formerly private secretary to Miliukov and then to
Terestchenko, drew us aside and told us all about the taking of the
"The Bolsheviki were led by German and Austrian officers," he
"Is that so?" we replied, politely. "How do you know?"
"A friend of mine was there and saw them."
"How could he tell they were German officers?"
"Oh, because they wore German uniforms!"
There were hundreds of such absurd tales, and they were not only
solemnly published by the anti-Bolshevik press, but believed by the
most unlikely persons-Socialist Revolutionaries and Mensheviki who
had always been distinguished by their sober devotion to facts....
But more serious were the stories of Bolshevik violence and
terrorism. For example, it was said printed that the Red Guards had
not only thoroughly looted the Winter Palace, but that they had
massacred the _yunkers_ after disarming them, had killed some of the
Ministers in cold blood; and as for the woman soldiers, most of them
had been violated, and many had committed suicide because of the
tortures they had gone through.... All these stories were swallowed
whole by the crowd in the Duma. And worse still, the mothers and
fathers of the students and of the women read these frightful
details, _often accompanied by lists of names,_ and toward nightfall
the Duma began to be besieged by frantic citizens....
A typical case is that of Prince Tumanov, whose body, it was
announced in many newspapers, had been found floating in the Moika
Canal. A few hours later this was denied by the Prince's family, who
added that the Prince was under arrest so the press identified the
dead man as General Demissov. The General having also come to life,
we investigated, and could find no trace of any body found whatever....
As we left the Duma building two boy scouts were distributing
hand-bills (See App. V, Sect. 2) to the enormous crowd which blocked
the Nevsky in front of the door-a crowd composed almost entirely of
business men, shop-keepers, _tchinouniki,_ clerks. One read!
FROM THE MUNICIPAL DUMA
The Municipal Duma in its meeting of October 26th, in view of the
events of the day decrees: To announce the inviolability of private
dwellings. Through the House Committees it calls upon the population
of the town of Petrograd to meet with decisive repulse all attempts
to enter by force private apartments, not stopping at the use of
arms, in the interests of the self-defence of citizens.
Up on the corner of the Liteiny, five or six Red Guards and a couple
of sailors had surrounded a news-dealer and were demanding that he
hand over his copies of the Menshevik _Rabot-chaya Gazeta_ (Workers'
Gazette). Angrily he shouted at them, shaking his fist, as one of
the sailors tore the papers from his stand. An ugly crowd had
gathered around, abusing the patrol. One little workman kept
explaining doggedly to the people and the news-dealer, over and over
again, "It has Kerensky's proclamation in it. It says we killed
Russian people. It will make bloodshed...."
Smolny was tenser than ever, if that were possible. The same running
men in the dark corridors, squads of workers with rifles, leaders
with bulging portfolios arguing, explaining, giving orders as they
hurried anxiously along, surrounded by friends and lieutenants. Men
literally out of themselves, living prodigies of sleeplessness and
work-men unshaven, filthy, with burning eyes, who drove upon their
fixed purpose full speed on engines of exaltation. So much they had
to do, so much! Take over the Government, organise the City, keep
the garrison loyal, fight the Duma and the Committee for Salvation,
keep out the Germans, prepare to do battle with Kerensky, inform the
provinces what had happened, Propagandise from Archangel to
Vladivostok.... Government and Municipal employees refusing to obey
their Commissars, post and telegraph refusing them communication,
railroads roads stonily ignoring their appeals for trains, Kerensky
coming, the garrison not altogether to be trusted, the Cossacks
waiting to come out.... Against them not only the organised
bourgeoisie, but all the other Socialist parties except the Left
Socialist Revolutionaries, a few Mensheviki Internationalists and
the Social Democrat Internationalists, and even they undecided
whether to stand by or not. With them, it is true, the workers and
the soldier-masses-the peasants an unknown quantity-but after all
the Bolsheviki were a political faction not rich in trained and
Riazanov was coming up the front steps, explaining in a sort of
humorous panic that he, Commissar of Commerce, knew nothing whatever
of business. In the upstairs cafe sat a man all by himself in the
corner, in a goat-skin cape and clothes which had been-I was going
to say "slept in," but of course he hadn't slept-and a three days'
growth of beard. He was anxiously figuring on a dirty envelope, and
biting his pencil meanwhile. This was Menzhinsky, Commissar of
Finance, whose qualifications were that he had once been clerk in a
French bank.... And these four half-running down the hall from the
office of the Military Revolutionary Committee, and scribbling on
bits of paper as they run-these were Commissars despatched to the
four corners of Russia to carry the news, argue, or fight-with
whatever arguments or weapons came to hand....
The Congress was to meet at one o'clock, and long since the great
meeting-hall had filled, but by seven there was yet no sign of the
presidium.... The Bolshevik and Left Social Revolutionary factions
were in session in their own rooms. All the livelong afternoon Lenin
and Trotzky had fought against compromise. A considerable part of
the Bolsheviki were in favour of giving way so far as to create a
joint all-Socialist government. "We can't hold on!" they cried.
"Too much is against us. We haven't got the men. We will be
isolated, and the whole thing will fall." So Kameniev, Riazanov and
But Lenin, with Trotzky beside him, stood firm as a rock. "Let the
compromisers accept our programme and they can come in! We won't
give way an inch. If there are comrades here who haven't the courage
and the will to dare what we dare, let them leave with the rest of
the cowards and conciliators! Backed by the workers and soldiers we
shall go on."
At five minutes past seven came word from the left Socialist
Revolutionaries to say that they would remain in the Military
"See!" said Lenin. "They are following!"
A little later, as we sat at the press table in the big hall, an
Anarchist who was writing for the bourgeois papers proposed to me
that we go and find out what had become of the presidium. There was
nobody in the _Tsay-ee-kah_ office, nor in the bureau of the
Petrograd Soviet. From room to room we wandered, through vast
Smolny. Nobody seemed to have the slightest idea where to find the
governing body of the Congress. As we went my companion described
his ancient revolutionary activities, his long and pleasant exile in
France.... As for the Bolsheviki, he confided to me that they were
common, rude, ignorant persons, without aesthetic sensibilities. He
was a real specimen of the Russian _intelligentzia_.... So he came at
last to Room 17, office of the Military Revolutionary Committee, and
stood there in the midst of all the furious coming and going. The
door opened, and out shot a squat, flat-faced man in a uniform
without insignia, who seemed to be smiling-which smile, after a
minute, one saw to be the fixed grin of extreme fatigue. It was
My friend, who was a dapper, civilized-looking young man, gave a cry
of pleasure and stepped forward.
"Nicolai Vasilievitch!" he said, holding out his hand. "Don't you
remember me, comrade? We were in prison together."
Krylenko made an effort and concentrated his mind and sight. "Why
yes," he answered finally, looking the other up and down with an
expression of great friendliness. "You are S-. _Zdra'stvuitye!_"
They kissed. "What are you doing in all this?" He waved his arm
"Oh, I'am just looking on.... You seem very successful."
"Yes," replied Krylenko, with a sort of doggedness, "The proletarian
Revolution is a great success." He laughed. "Perhaps-perhaps,
however, we'll meet in prison again!"
When we got out into the corridor again my friend went on with his
explanations. "You see, I'am a follower of Kropotkin. To us the
Revolution is a great failure; it has not aroused the patriotism of
the masses. Of course that only proves that the people are not ready
It was just 8.40 when a thundering wave of cheers announced the
entrance of the presidium, with Lenin-great Lenin-among them. A
short, stocky figure, with a big head set down in his shoulders,
bald and bulging. Little eyes, a snubbish nose, wide, generous
mouth, and heavy chin; clean-shaven now, but already beginning to
bristle with the well-known beard of his past and future. Dressed in
shabby clothes, his trousers much too long for him. Unimpressive, to
be the idol of a mob, loved and revered as perhaps few leaders in
history have been. A strange popular leader-a leader purely by
virtue of intellect; colourless, humourless, uncompromising and
detached, without picturesque idiosyncrasies-but with the power of
explaining profound ideas in simple terms, of analysing a concrete
situation. And combined with shrewdness, the greatest intellectual
Kameniev was reading the report of the actions of the Military
Revolutionary Committee; abolition of capital punishment in the
Army, restoration of the free right of propaganda, release of
officers and soldiers arrested for political crimes, orders to
arrest Kerensky and confiscation of food supplies in private
store-houses.... Tremendous applause.
Again the representative of the _Bund._ The uncompromising attitude
of the Bolsheviki would mean the crushing of the Revolution;
therefore, the _Bund_ delegates must refuse any longer to sit in the
Congress. Cries from the audience, "We thought you walked out last
night! How many times are you going to walk out?"
Then the representative of the Mensheviki Internationalists. Shouts,
"What! You here still?" The speaker explained that only part of the
Mensheviki Internationalists left the Congress; the rest were going
"We consider it dangerous and perhaps even mortal for the Revolution
to transfer the power to the Soviets"-Interruptions-"but we feel it
our duty to remain in the Congress and vote against the transfer
Other speakers followed, apparently without any order. A delegate of
the coal-miners of the Don Basin called upon the Congress to take
measures against Kaledin, who might cut off coal and food from the
capital. Several soldiers just arrived from the Front brought the
enthusiastic greetings of their regiments.... Now Lenin, gripping the
edge of the reading stand, letting his little winking eyes travel
over the crowd as he stood there waiting, apparently oblivious to
the long-rolling ovation, which lasted several minutes. When it
finished, he said simply, "We shall now proceed to construct the
Socialist order!" Again that overwhelming human roar.
"The first thing is the adoption of practical measures to realise
peace.... We shall offer peace to the peoples of all the belligerent
countries upon the basis of the Soviet terms-no annexations, no
indemnities, and the right of self-determination of peoples. At the
same time, according to our promise, we shall publish and repudiate
the secret treaties.... The question of War and Peace is so clear that
I think that I may, without preamble, read the project of a
Proclamation to the Peoples of All the Belligerent Countries...."
His great mouth, seeming to smile, opened wide as he spoke; his
voice was hoarse-not unpleasantly so, but as if it had hardened that
way after years and years of speaking-and went on monotonously, with
the effect of being able to go on forever.... For emphasis he bent
forward slightly. No gestures. And before him, a thousand simple
faces looking up in intent adoration.
PROCLAMATION TO THE PEOPLES AND GOVERNMENTS OF ALL THE BELLIGERENT
The Workers' and Peasants' Government, created by the revolution of
November 6th and 7th and based on the Soviets of Workers', Soldiers'
and Peasants' Deputies, proposes to all the belligerent peoples and
to their Governments to begin immediately negotiations for a just
and democratic peace.
The Government means by a just and democratic peace, which is
desired by the immense majority of the workers and the labouring
classes, exhausted and depleted by the war-that peace which the
Russian workers and peasants, after having struck down the Tsarist
monarchy, have not ceased to demand categorically-immediate peace
without annexations (that is to say, without conquest of foreign
territory, without forcible annexation of other nationalities), and
The Government of Russia Proposes to all the belligerent peoples
immediately to conclude such a peace, by showing themselves willing
to enter upon the decisive steps of negotiations aiming at such a
peace, at once, without the slightest delay, before the definitive
ratification of all the conditions of such a peace by the authorised
assemblies of the people of all countries and of all nationalities.
By annexation or conquest of foreign territory, the Government
means-conformably to the conception of democratic rights in general,
and the rights of the working-class in particular-all union to a
great and strong State of a small or weak nationality, without the
voluntary, clear and precise expression of its consent and desire;
whatever be the moment when such an annexation by force was
accomplished, whatever be the degree civilisation of the nation
annexed by force or maintained outside the frontiers of another
State, no matter if that nation be in Europe or in the far countries
across the sea.
If any nation is retained by force within the limits of another
State; if, in spite of the desire expressed by it, (it matters
little if that desire be expressed by the press, by popular
meetings, decisions of political parties, or by disorders and riots
against national oppression), that nation is not given the right of
deciding by free vote-without the slightest constraint, after the
complete departure of the armed forces of the nation which has
annexed it or wishes to annex it or is stronger in general-the form
of its national and political organisation, such a union constitutes
an annexation-that is to say, conquest and an act of violence.
To continue this war in order to permit the strong and rich nations
to divide among themselves the weak and conquered nationalities is
considered by the Government the greatest possible crime against
humanity; and the Government solemnly proclaims its decision to sign
a treaty of peace which will put an end to this war upon the above
conditions, equally fair for all nationalities without exception.
The Government abolishes secret diplomacy, expressing before the
whole country its firm decision to conduct all the negotiations in
the light of day before the people, and will proceed immediately to
the full publication of all secret treaties confirmed or concluded
by the Government of land-owners and capitalists, from March until
November 7th, 1917. All the clauses of the secret treaties which, as
occur in a majority of cases, have for their object to procure
advantages and privileges for Russian capitalists, to maintain or
augment the annexations of the Russian imperialists, are denounced
by the Government immediately and without discussion.
In proposing to all Governments and all peoples to engage in public
negotiations for peace, the Government declares itself ready to
carry on these negotiations by telegraph, by post, or by pourparlers
between the representatives of the different countries, or at a
conference of these representatives. To facilitate these
pourparlers, the Government appoints its authorised representatives
in the neutral countries.
The Government proposes to all the governments and to the peoples of
all the belligerent countries to conclude an immediate armistice, at
the same time suggesting that the armistice ought to last three
months, during which time it is perfectly possible, not only to hold
the necessary pourparlers between the representatives of all the
nations and nationalities without exception drawn into the war or
forced to take part in it, but also to convoke authorised assemblies
of representatives of the people of all countries, for the purpose
of the definite acceptance of the conditions of peace.
In addressing this offer of peace to the Governments and to the
peoples of all the belligerent countries, the Provisional Workers'
and Peasants' Government of Russia addresses equally and in
particular the conscious workers of the three nations most devoted
to humanity and the three most important nations among those taking
part in the present war-England, France, and Germany. The workers of
these countries have rendered the greatest services to the cause of
progress and of Socialism. The splendid examples of the Chartist
movement in England, the series of revolutions, of world-wide
historical significance, accomplished by the French proletariat-and
finally, in Germany, the historic struggle against the Laws of
Exception, an example for the workers of the whole world of
prolonged and stubborn action, and the creation of the formidable
organisations of German proletarians-all these models of proletarian
heroism, these monuments of history, are for us a sure guarantee
that the workers of these countries will understand the duty imposed
upon them to liberate humanity from the horrors and consequences of
war; and that these workers, by decisive, energetic and continued
action, will help us to bring to a successful conclusion the cause
of peace-and at the same time, the cause of the liberation of the
exploited working masses from all slavery and all exploitation.
When the grave thunder of applause had died away, Lenin spoke again:
"We propose to the Congress to ratify this declaration. We address
ourselves to the Governments as well as to the peoples, for a
declaration which would be addressed only to the peoples of the
belligerent countries might delay the conclusion of peace. The
conditions of peace, drawn up during the armistice, will be ratified
by the Constituent Assembly. In fixing the duration of the armistice
at three months, we desire to give to the peoples as long a rest as
possible after this bloody extermination, and ample time for them to
elect their representatives. This proposal of peace will meet with
resistance on the part of the imperialist governments-we don't fool
ourselves on that score. But we hope that revolution will soon break
out in all the belligerent countries; that is why we address
ourselves especially to the workers of France, England and Germany....
"The revolution of November 6th and 7th," he ended, "has opened the
era of the Social Revolution.... The labour movement, in the name of
peace and Socialism, shall win, and fulfil its destiny....
There was something quiet and powerful in all this, which stirred
the souls of men. It was understandable why people believed when
By crowd vote it was quickly decided that only representatives of
political factions should be allowed to speak on the motion and that
speakers should be limited to fifteen minutes.
First Karelin for the Left Socialist Revolutionaries. "Our faction
had no opportunity to propose amendments to the text of the
proclamation; it is a private document of the Bolsheviki. But we
will vote for it because we agree with its spirit...."
For the Social Democrats Internationalists Kramarov, long,
stoop-shouldered and near-sighted-destined to achieve some notoriety
as the Clown of the Opposition. Only a Government composed of all
the Socialist parties, he said, could possess the authority to take
such important action. If a Socialist coalition were formed, his
faction would support the entire programme; if not, only part of it.
As for the proclamation, the Internationalists were in thorough
accord with its main points....
Then one after another, amid rising enthusiasm; Ukrainean Social
Democracy, support; Lithuanian Social Democracy, support; Populist
Socialists, support; Polish Social Democracy, support; Polish
Socialists support-but would prefer a Socialist coalition; Lettish
Social Democracy, support.... Something was kindled in these men. One
spoke of the "coming World-Revolution, of which we are the
advance-guard"; another of "the new age of brotherhood, when all the
peoples will become one great family...." An individual member claimed
the floor. "There is contradiction here," he said. "First you offer
peace without annexations and indemnities, and then you say you will
consider all peace offers. To consider means to accept...."
Lenin was on his feet. "We want a just peace, but we are not afraid
of a revolutionary war.... Probably the imperialist Governments will
not answer our appeal-but we shall not issue an ultimatum to which
it will be easy to say no.... If the German proletariat realises that
we are ready to consider all offers of peace, that will perhaps be
the last drop which overflows the bowl-revolution will break out in
"We consent to examine all conditions of peace, but that doesn't
mean that we shall accept them.... For some of our terms we shall
fight to the end-but possibly for others will find it impossible to
continue the war.... Above all, we want to finish the war...."
It was exactly 10:35 when Kameniev asked all in favour of the
proclamation to hold up their cards. One delegate dared to raise his
hand against, but the sudden sharp outburst around him brought it
swiftly down.... Unanimous.
Suddenly, by common impulse, we found ourselves on our feet,
mumbling together into the smooth lifting unison of the
_Internationale._ A grizzled old soldier was sobbing like a child.
Alexandra Kollontai rapidly winked the tears back. The immense sound
rolled through the hall, burst windows and doors and seared into the
quiet sky. "The war is ended! The war is ended!" said a young
workman near me, his face shining. And when it was over, as we stood
there in a kind of awkward hush, some one in the back of the room ck of the room | |
shouted, "Comrades! Let us remember those who have died for
liberty!" So we began to sing the Funeral March, that slow,
melancholy and yet triumphant chant, so Russian and so moving. The
_Internationale_ is an alien air, after all. The Funeral March
seemed the very soul of those dark masses whose delegates sat in
this hall, building from their obscure visions a new Russia-and
You fell in the fatal fight
For the liberty of the people, for the honour of the people....
You gave up your lives and everything dear to you,
You suffered in horrible prisons,
You went to exile in chains....
Without a word you carried your chains because you could not ignore
your suffering brothers,
Because you believed that justice is stronger than the sword....
The time will come when your surrendered life will count
That time is near; when tyranny falls the people will rise, great
Farewell, brothers, you chose a noble path,
You are followed by the new and fresh army ready to die and to
Farewell, brothers, you chose a noble path,
At your grave we swear to fight, to work for freedom and the
For this did they lie there, the martyrs of March, in their cold
Brotherhood Grave on Mars Field; for this thousands and tens of
thousands had died in the prisons, in exile, in Siberian mines. It
had not come as they expected it would come, nor as the
_intelligentzia_ desired it; but it had come-rough, strong,
impatient of formulas, contemptuous of sentimentalism; real....
Lenin was reading the Decree on Land:
(1.) All private ownership of land is abolished immediately without
(2.) All land_owners' estates, and all lands belonging to the Crown,
to monasteries, church lands with all their live stock and
inventoried property, buildings and all appurtenances, are
transferred to the disposition of the township Land Committees and
the district Soviets of Peasants' Deputies until the Constituent
(3.) Any damage whatever done to the confiscated property which from
now on belongs to the whole People, is regarded as a serious crime,
punishable by the revolutionary tribunals. The district Soviets of
Peasants' Deputies shall take all necessary measures for the
observance of the strictest order during the taking over of the
land-owners' estates, for the determination of the dimensions of the
plots of land and which of them are subject to confiscation, for the
drawing up of an inventory of the entire confiscated property, and
for the strictest revolutionary protection of all the farming
property on the land, with all buildings, implements, cattle,
supplies of products, etc., passing into the hands of the People.
(4.) For guidance during the realisation of the great land reforms
until their final resolution by the Constituent Assembly, shall
serve the following peasant _nakaz_ (See App. V, Sect. 3)
(instructions), drawn up on the basis of 242 local peasant _nakazi_
by the editorial board of the "_Izviestia_ of the All-Russian Soviet
of Peasants' Deputies," and published in No.88 of said _"Izviestia"_
(Petrograd, No.88, August 19th, 1917).
The lands of peasants and of Cossacks serving in the Army shall not
"This is not," explained Lenin, "the project of former Minister
Tchernov, who spoke of 'erecting a frame-work' and tried to realise
reforms from above. From below, on the spot, will be decided the
questions of division of the land. The amount of land received by
each peasant will vary according to the locality....
"Under the Provisional Government, the _pomieshtchiki_ flatly
refused to obey the orders of the Land Committees-those Land
Committees projected by Lvov, brought into existence by Shingariov,
and administered by Kerensky!"
Before the debates could begin a man forced his way violently
through the crowd in the aisle and climbed upon the platform. It was
Pianikh, member of the Executive Committee of the Peasants' Soviets,
and he was mad clean through.
"The Executive Committee of the All-Russian Soviets of Peasants'
Deputies protests against the arrest of our comrades, the Ministers
Salazkin and Mazlov!" he flung harshly in the faces of the crowd,
"We demand their instant release! They are now in Peter-Paul
fortress. We must have immediate action! There is not a moment to
Another followed him, a soldier with disordered beard and flaming
eyes. "You sit here and talk about giving the land to the peasants,
and you commit an act of tyrants and usurpers against the peasants'
chosen representatives! I tell you-" he raised his fist, "If one
hair of their heads is harmed, you'll have a revolt on your hands!"
The crowd stirred confusedly.
Then up rose Trotzky, calm and venomous, conscious of power, greeted
with a roar. "Yesterday the Military Revolutionary Committee decided
to release the Socialist Revolutionary and Menshevik Ministers,
Mazlov, Salazkin, Gvozdov and Maliantovitch-on principle. That they
are still in Peter-Paul is only because we have had so much to do....
They will, however, be detained at their homes under arrest until we
have investigated their complicity in the treacherous acts of
Kerensky during the Kornilov affair!"
"Never," shouted Pianikh, "in any revolution have such things been
seen as go on here!"
"You are mistaken," responded Trotzky. "Such things have been seen
even in this revolution. Hundreds of our comrades were arrested in
the July days.... When Comrade Kollontai was released from prison by
the doctor's orders, Avksentiev placed at her door two former agents
of the Tsar's secret police!" The peasants withdrew, muttering,
followed by ironical hoots.
The representative of the Left Socialist Revolutionaries spoke on
the Land Decree. While agreeing in principle, his faction could not
vote on the question until after discussion. The Peasants' Soviets
should be consulted....
The Mensheviki Internationalists, too, insisted on a party caucus.
Then the leader of the Maximalists, the Anarchist wing of the
peasants: "We must do honour to a political party which puts such an
act into effect the first day, without jawing about it!"
A typical peasant was in the tribune, long hair, boots and
sheep-skin coat, bowing to all corners of the hall. "I wish you
well, comrades and citizens," he said. "There are some Cadets
walking around outside. You arrested our Socialist peasants-why not
This was the signal for a debate of excited peasants. It was
precisely like the debate of soldiers of the night before. Here were
the real proletarians of the land....
"Those members of our Executive Committee, Avksentiev and the rest,
whom we thought were the peasants' protectors-they are only Cadets
too! Arrest them! Arrest them!"
Another, "Who are these Pianikhs, these Avksentievs? They are not
peasants at all! They only wag their tails!"
How the crowd rose to them, recognising brothers!
The Left Socialist Revolutionaries proposed a half-hour
intermission. As the delegates streamed out, Lenin stood up in his
"We must not lose time, comrades! News all-important to Russia must
be on the press to-morrow morning. No delay!"
And above the hot discussion, argument, shuffling of feet could be
heard the voice of an emissary of the Military Revolutionary
Committee, crying, "Fifteen agitators wanted in room 17 at once! To
go to the Front!"hellip;
It was almost two hours and a half later that the delegates came
straggling back, the presidium mounted the platform, and the session
recommenced by the reading of telegrams from regiment after
regiment, announcing their adhesion to the Military Revolutionary
In leisurely manner the meeting gathered momentum. A delegate from
the Russian troops on the Macedonian front spoke bitterly of their
situation. "We suffer there more from the friendship of our 'Allies'
than from the enemy," he said. Representatives of the Tenth and
Twelfth Armies, just arrived in hot haste, reported, "We support you
with all our strength!" A peasant-soldier protested against the
release of "the traitor Socialists, Mazlov and Salazkin"; as for the
Executive Committee of the Peasants' Soviets, it should be arrested
_en masse!_Here was real revolutionary talk.... A deputy from the
Russian Army in Persia declared he was instructed to demand all
power to the Soviets.... A Ukrainean officer, speaking in his native
tongue: "There is no nationalism in this crisis.... _Da zdravstvuyet_
the proletarian dictatorship of all lands!" Such a deluge of high
and hot thoughts that surely Russia would never again be dumb!
Kameniev remarked that the anti-Bolshevik forces were trying to stir
up disorders everywhere, and read an appeal of the Congress to all
the Soviets of Russia:
The All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers'
Deputies, including some Peasants' Deputies, calls upon the local
Soviets to take immediate energetic measures to oppose all
counter-revolutionary anti-Jewish action and all _pogroms,_ whatever
they may be. The honour of the Workers', Peasants' and Soldiers'
Revolution demands that no _pogrom_ be tolerated.
The Red Guard of Petrograd, the revolutionary garrison and the
sailors have maintained complete order in the capital.
Workers, soldiers and peasants, you should follow everywhere the
example of the workers and soldiers of Petrograd.
Comrade soldiers and Cossacks, on us falls the duty of assuring real
All revolutionary Russia and the entire world have their eyes on us....
At two o'clock the Land Decree was put to vote, with only one
against and the peasant delegates wild with joy.... So plunged the
Bolsheviki ahead, irresistible, over-riding hesitation and
opposition-the only people in Russia who had a definite programme of
action while the others talked for eight long months.
Now arose a soldier, gaunt, ragged and eloquent, to protest against
the clause of the _nakaz_ tending to deprive military deserters from
a share in village land allotments. Bawled at and hissed at first,
his simple, moving speech finally made silence. "Forced against his
will into the butchery of the trenches," he cried, "which you
yourselves, in the Peace decree, have voted senseless as well as
horrible, he greeted the Revolution with hope of peace and freedom.
Peace? The Government of Kerensky forced him again to go forward
into Galicia to slaughter and be slaughtered; to his pleas for
peace, Terestchenko simply laughed.... Freedom? Under Kerensky he
found his Committees suppressed, his newspapers cut off, his party
speakers put in prison.... At home in his village, the landlords were
defying his Land Committees, jailing his comrades.... In Petrograd the
bourgeoisie, in alliance with the Germans, were sabotaging the food
and ammunition for the Army.... He was without boots, or clothes.... Who
forced him to desert? The Government of Kerensky, which you have
overthrown!" At the end there was applause.
But another soldier hotly denounced it: "The Government of Kerensky
is not a screen behind which can be hidden dirty work like
desertion! Deserters are scoundrels, who run away home and leave
their comrades to die in the trenches alone! Every deserter is a
traitor, and should be punished...." Uproar, shouts of _"Do volno!
Teesche!"_ Kameniev hastily proposed to leave the matter to the
Government for decision. (See App. V, Sect. 4)
At 2.30 A. M. fell a tense hush. Kameniev was reading the decree of
the Constitution of Power:
Until the meeting of the Constituent Assembly, a provisional
Workers' and Peasants' Government is formed, which shall be named
the Council of People's Commissars. (See App. V, Sect. 5)
The administration of the different branches of state activity shall
be intrusted to commissions, whose composition shall be regulated to
ensure the carrying out of the programme of the Congress, in close
union with the mass-organisations of working-men, working-women,
sailors, soldiers, peasants and clerical employees. The governmental
power is vested in a _collegium_ made up of the chairmen of these
commissions, that is to say, the Council of People's Commissars.
Control over the activities of the People's Commissars, and the
right to replace them, shall belong to the All-Russian Congress of
Soviets of Workers', Peasants' and Soldiers' Deputies, and its
Central Executive Committee.
Still silence; as he read the list of Commissars, bursts of applause
after each name, Lenin's and Trotzky's especially.
_President of the Council:_ Vladimir Ulianov _(Lenin)_
_Interior:_ A. E. Rykov
_Agriculture:_ V. P. Miliutin
_Labour:_ A. G. Shliapnikov
_Military and Naval Affairs_-a committee composed of V. A.
_Avseenko (Antonov),_ N. V. Krylenko, and F. M. Dybenko.
_Commerce and Industry:_ V. P. Nogin
_Popular Education:_ A. V. Lunatcharsky
_Finance:_ E. E. Skvortsov _(Stepanov)_
_Foreign Affairs:_ L. D. Bronstein _(Trotzky)_
_Justice:_ G. E. Oppokov _(Lomov)_
_Supplies:_ E. A. Teodorovitch
_Post and Telegraph:_ N. P. Avilov _(Gliebov)_
_Chairman for Nationalities:_ I. V. Djougashvili _(Stalin)_
_Railroads:_ To be filled later.
There were bayonets at the edges of the room, bayonets pricking up
among the delegates; the Military Revolutionary Committee was arming
everybody, Bolshevism was arming for the decisive battle with
Kerensky, the sound of whose trumpets came up the south-west wind....
In the meanwhile nobody went home; on the contrary hundreds of
newcomers filtered in, filling the great room solid with stern-faced
soldiers and workmen who stood for hours and hours, indefatigably
intent. The air was thick with cigarette smoke, and human breathing,
and the smell of coarse clothes and sweat.
Avilov of the staff of _Novaya Zhizn_ was speaking in the name of
the Social Democrat Internationalists and the remnant of the
Mensheviki Internationalists; Avilov, with his young, intelligent
face, looking out of place in his smart frock-coat.
"We must ask ourselves where we are going.... The ease with which the
Coalition Government was upset cannot be explained by the strength
of the left wing of the democracy, but only by the incapacity of the
Government to give the people peace and bread. And the left wing
cannot maintain itself in power unless it can solve these questions....
"Can it give bread to the people? Grain is scarce. The majority of
the peasants will not be with you, for you cannot give them the
machinery they need. Fuel and other primary necessities are almost
impossible to procure....
"As for peace, that will be even more difficult. The allies refused
to talk with Skobeliev. They will never accept the proposition of a
peace conference from _you._ You will not be recognised either in
London and Paris, or in Berlin....
"You cannot count on the effective help of the proletariat of the
Allied countries, because in most countries it is very far from the
revolutionary struggle; remember, the Allied democracy was unable
even to convoke the Stockholm Conference. Concerning the German
Social Democrats, I have just talked with Comrade Goldenberg, one of
our delegates to Stockholm; he was told by the representatives of
the Extreme Left that revolution in Germany was impossible during
the war...." Here interruptions began to come thick and fast, but
Avilov kept on.
"The isolation of Russia will fatally result either in the defeat of
the Russian Army by the Germans, and the patching up of a peace
between the Austro-German coalition and the Franco-British coalition
_at the expense of Russia_-or in a separate peace with Germany.
"I have just learned that the Allied ambassadors are preparing to
leave, and that Committees for Salvation of Country and Revolution
are forming in all the cities of Russia....
"No one party can conquer these enormous difficulties. The majority
of the people, supporting a government of Socialist coalition, can
alone accomplish the Revolution....
"He then read the resolution of the two factions:
Recognising that for the salvation of the conquests of the
Revolution it is indispensable immediately to constitute a
government based on the revolutionary democracy organised in the
Soviets of Workers,' Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies, recognising
moreover that the task of this government is the quickest possible
attainment of peace, the transfer of the land into the hands of the
agrarian committees, the organisation of control over industrial
production, and the convocation of the Constituent Assembly on the
date decided, the Congress appoints an executive committee to
constitute such a government after an agreement with the groups of
the democracy which are taking part in the Congress.
In spite of the revolutionary exaltation of the triumphant crowd,
Avilov's cool tolerant reasoning had shaken them. Toward the end,
the cries and hisses died away, and when he finished there was even
Karelin followed him-also young, fearless, whose sincerity no one
doubted-for the Left Socialist Revolutionaries, the party of Maria
Spiridonova, the party which almost alone followed the Bolsheviki,
and which represented the revolutionary peasants.
"Our party has refused to enter the Council of People's Commissars
because we do not wish forever to separate ourselves from the part
of the revolutionary army which left the Congress, a separation
which would make it impossible for us to serve as intermediaries
between the Bolsheviki and the other groups of the democracy.... And
that is our principal duty at this moment. We cannot sustain any
government except a government of Socialist coalition....
"We protest, moreover, against the tyrannical conduct of the
Bolsheviki. Our Commissars have been driven from their posts. Our
only organ, _Znamia Truda_ (Banner of Labour), was forbidden to
"The Central Duma is forming a powerful Committee for Salvation of
Country and Revolution, to fight you. Already you are isolated, and
your Government is without the support of a single other democratic
And now Trotzky stood upon the raised tribune, confident and
dominating, with that sarcastic expression about his mouth which was
almost a sneer. He spoke, in a ringing voice, and the great crowd
rose to him.
"These considerations on the dangers of isolation of our party are
not new. On the eve of insurrection our fatal defeat was also
predicted. Everybody was against us; only a faction of the Socialist
Revolutionaries of the left was with us in the Military
Revolutionary Committee. How is it that we were able to overturn the
Government almost without bloodshed?.... That fact is the most
striking proof that we _were not isolated._ In reality the
Provisional Government was isolated; the democratic parties which
march against us were isolated, are isolated, and forever cut off
from the proletariat!
"They speak of the necessity for a coalition. There is only one
coalition possible-the coalition of the workers, soldiers and
poorest peasants; and it is our party's honour to have realised that
coalition.... What sort of coalition did Avilov mean? A coalition with
those who supported the Government of Treason to the People?
Coalition doesn't always add to strength. For example, could we have
organised the insurrection with Dan and Avksentiev in our ranks?"
Roars of laughter.
"Avksentiev gave little bread. Will a coalition with the _oborontsi_
furnish more? Between the peasants and Avksentiev, who ordered the
arrest of the Land Committees, we choose the peasants! Our
Revolution will remain the classic revolution of history....
"They accuse us of repelling an agreement with the other democratic
parties. But is it we who are to blame? Or must we, as Karelin put
it, blame it on a 'misunderstanding'? No, comrades. When a party in
full tide of revolution, still wreathed in powder-smoke, comes to
say, 'Here is the Power-take it!'-and when those to whom it is
offered go over to the enemy, that is not a misunderstanding.... that
is a declaration of pitiless war. And it isn't we who have declared
"Avilov menaces us with failure of our peace efforts-if we remain
'isolated.' I repeat, I don't see how a coalition with Skobeliev, or
even Terestchenko, can help us to get peace! Avilov tries to
frighten us by the threat of a peace at our expense. And I answer
that in any case, if Europe continues to be ruled by the imperialist
bourgeoisie, revolutionary Russia will inevitably be lost....
"There are only two alternatives; either the Russian Revolution will
create a revolutionary movement in Europe, or the European powers
will destroy the Russian Revolution!"
They greeted him with an immense crusading acclaim, kindling to the
daring of it, with the thought of championing mankind. And from that
moment there was something conscious and decided about the
insurrectionary masses, in all their actions, which never left them.
But on the other side, too, battle was taking form. Kameniev
recognised a delegate from the Union of Railway Workers, a
hardfaced, stocky man with an attitude of implacable hostility. He
threw a bombshell.
"In the name of the strongest organisation in Russia I demand the
right to speak, and I say to you: the _Vikzhel_charges me to make
known the decision of the Union concerning the constitution of
Power. The Central Committee refuses absolutely to support the
Bolsheviki if they persist in isolating themselves from the whole
democracy of Russia!" Immense tumult all over the hall.
"In 1905, and in the Kornilov days, the Railway Workers were the
best defenders of the Revolution. But you did not invite us to your
Congress-" Cries, "It was the old _Tsay-ee-kah_ which did not invite
you!" The orator paid no attention. "We do not recognise the
legality of this Congress; since the departure of the Mensheviki and
Socialist Revolutionaries there is not a legal quorum.... The Union
supports the old _Tsay-ee-Kah,_ and declares that the Congress has
no right to elect a new Committee....
"The Power should be a Socialist and revolutionary Power,
responsible before the authorised organs of the entire revolutionary
democracy. Until the constitution of such a power, the Union of
Railway Workers, which refuses to transport counter-revolutionary
troops to Petrograd, at the same time forbids the execution of any
order whatever without the consent of the _Vikzhel._ The _Vikzhel_
also takes into its hands the entire administration of the railroads
At the end he could hardly be heard for the furious storm of abuse
which beat upon him. But it was a heavy blow-that could be seen in
the concern on the faces of the presidium. Kameniev, however, merely
answered that there could be no doubt of the legality of the
Congress, as even the quorum established by the old _Tsay-ee-Kah_
was exceeded-in spite of the secession of the Mensheviki and
Socialist Revolution arises....
Then came the vote on the Constitution of Power, which carried the
Council of People's Commissars into office by an enormous majority....
The election of the new _Tsay-ee-kah,_ the new parliament of the
Russian Republic, took barely fifteen minutes. Trotzky announced its
composition: 100 members, of which 70 Bolsheviki.... As for the
peasants, and the seceding factions, places were to be reserved for
them. "We welcome into the Government all parties and groups which
will adopt our programme," ended Trotzky.
And thereupon the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets was
dissolved, so that the members might hurry to their homes in the
four corners of Russia and tell of the great happenings....
It was almost seven when we woke the sleeping conductors and
motor-men of the street-cars which the Street-Railway Workers' Union
always kept waiting at Smolny to take the Soviet delegates to their
homes. In the crowded car there was less happy hilarity than the
night before, I thought. Many looked anxious; perhaps they were
saying to themselves, "Now we are masters, how can we do our will?"
At our apartment-house we were held up in the dark by an armed
patrol of citizens and carefully examined. The Duma's proclamation
was doing its work....
The landlady heard us come in, and stumbled out in a pink silk
The House Committee has again asked that you take your turn on
guard-duty with the rest of the men," she said.
"What's the reason for this guard-duty?"
"To protect the house and the women and children."
"Robbers and murderers."
"But suppose there came a Commissar from the Military Revolutionary
Committee to search for arms?"
"Oh, that's what they'll _say_ they are.... And besides, what's the
I solemnly affirmed that the Consul had forbidden all American
citizens to carry arms-especially in the neighbourhood of the
The Committee for Salvation
FRIDAY, November 9th....
Novotcherkask, November 8th.
In view of the revolt of the Bolsheviki, and their attempt to depose
the Provisional Government and to seize the power in Petrograd... the
Cossack Government declares that it considers these acts criminal
and absolutely inadmissible. In consequence, the Cossacks will lend
all their support to the Provisional Government, which is a
government of coalition. Because of these circumstances, and until
the return of the Provisional Government to power, and the
restoration of order in Russia, I take upon myself, beginning
November 7th, all the power in that which concerns the region of the
Signed: ATAMAN KALEDIN
_President of the Government of the Cossack Troops._
_Prikaz_ of the Minister-President Kerensky, dated at Gatchina:
I, Minister-President of the Provisional Government, and Supreme
Commander of all the armed forces of the Russian Republic, declare
that I am at the head of regiments from the Front who have remained
faithful to the fatherland.
I order all the troops of the Military District of Petrograd, who
through mistake or folly have answered the appeal of the traitors to
the country and the Revolution, to return to their duty without
This order shall be read in all regiments, battalions and squadrons.
Signed: _Minister-President of the Provisional_
_Government and Supreme Commander_
A. F. KERENSKY.
Telegram from Kerensky to the General in Command of the Northern
The town of Gatchina has been taken by the loyal regiments without
bloodshed. Detachments of Cronstadt sailors, and of the Semionovsky
and Ismailovsky regiments, gave up their arms without resistance and
joined the Government troops.
I order all the designated units to advance as quickly as possible.
The Military Revolutionary Committee has ordered its troops to
Gatchina, about thirty kilometers south-west, had fallen during the
night. Detachments of the two regiments mentioned-not the
sailors-while wandering captainless in the neighbourhood, had indeed
been surrounded by Cossacks and given up their arms; but it was not
true that they had joined the Government troops. At this very moment
crowds of them, bewildered and ashamed, were up at Smolny trying to
explain. They did not think the Cossacks were so near.... They had
tried to argue with the Cossacks....
Apparently the greatest confusion prevailed along the revolutionary
front. The garrisons of all the little towns southward had split
hopelessly, bitterly into two factions-or three: the high command
being on the side of Kerensky, in default of anything stronger, the
majority of the rank and file with the Soviets, and the rest
Hastily the Military Revolutionary Committee appointed to command
the defence of Petrograd an ambitious regular Army Captain,
Muraviov, the same Muraviov who had organised the Death Battalions
during the summer, and had once been heard to advise the Government
that "it was too lenient with the Bolsheviki; they must be wiped
out." A man of military mind, who admired power and audacity,
Beside my door when I came down in the morning were posted two new
orders of the Military Revolutionary Committee, directing that all
shops and stores should open as usual, and that all empty rooms and
apartments should be put at the disposal of the Committee....
For thirty-six hours now the Bolsheviki had been cut off from
provincial Russia and the outside world. The railway men and
telegraphers refused to transmit their despatches, the postmen would
not handle their mail. Only the Government wireless at Tsarskoye
Selo launched half-hourly bulletins and manifestoes to the four
corners of heaven; the Commissars of Smolny raced the Commissars of
the City Duma on speeding trains half across the earth; and two
aeroplanes, laden with propaganda, fled high up toward the Front....
But the eddies of insurrection were spreading through Russia with a
swiftness surpassing any human agency. Helsingfors Soviet passed
resolutions of support; Kiev Bolsheviki captured the arsenal and the
telegraph station, only to be driven out by delegates to the
Congress of Cossacks, which happened to be meeting there; in Kazan,
a Military Revolutionary Committee arrested the local garrison staff
and the Commissar of the Provisional Government; from far
Krasnoyarsk, in Siberia, came news that the Soviets were in control
of the Municipal institutions; at Moscow, where the situation was
aggravated by a great strike of leather-workers on one side, and a
threat of general lock-out on the other, the Soviets had voted
overwhelmingly to support the action of the Bolsheviki in
Petrograd.... Already a Military Revolutionary Committee was
Everywhere the same thing happened. The common soldiers and the
industrial workers supported the Soviets by a vast majority; the
officers, _yunkers_ and middle class generally were on the side of
the Government-as were the bourgeois Cadets and the "moderate"
Socialist parties. In all these towns sprang up Committees for
Salvation of Country and Revolution, arming for civil war....
Vast Russia was in a state of solution. As long ago as 1905 the
process had begun; the March Revolution had merely hastened it, and
giving birth to a sort of forecast of the new order, had ended by
merely perpetuating the hollow structure of the old regime. Now,
however, the Bolsheviki, in one night, had dissipated it, as one
blows away smoke. Old Russia was no more; human society flowed
molten in primal heat, and from the tossing sea of flame was
emerging the class struggle, stark and pitiless-and the fragile,
slowly-cooling crust of new planets....
In Petrograd sixteen Ministries were on strike, led by the
Ministries of Labour and of Supplies-the only two created by the
all-Socialist Government of August.
If ever men stood alone the "handful of Bolsheviki" apparently stood
alone that grey chill morning, with all storms towering over them.
(See App. VI, Sect. 1) Back against the wall, the Military
Revolutionary Committee struck-for its life. _"De l'audace, encore
de l'audace, et toujours de l'audace_.... At five in the morning the
Red Guards entered the printing office of the City Government,
confiscated thousands of copies of the Appeal-Protest of the Duma,
and suppressed the official Municipal organ-the _Viestnik Gorodskovo
Samoupravleniya_ (Bulletin of the Municipal Self-Government). All
the bourgeois newspapers were torn from the presses, even the _Golos
Soldata,_ journal of the old _Tsay-ee-kah_-which, however, changing
its name to _Soldatski Golos,_ appeared in an edition of a hundred
thousand copies, bellowing rage and defiance:
The men who began their stroke of treachery in the night, who have
suppressed the newspapers, will not keep the country in ignorance
long. The country will know the truth! It will appreciate you,
Messrs. the Bolsheviki! We shall see!...
As we came down the Nevsky a little after midday the whole street
before the Duma building was crowded with people. Here and there
stood Red Guards and sailors, with bayonetted rifles, each one
surrounded by about a hundred men and women-clerks, students,
shopkeepers, _tchinovniki_-shaking their fists and bawling insults
and menaces. On the steps stood boy-scouts and officers,
distributing copies of the _Soldatski Golos._ A workman with a red
band around his arm and a revolver in his hand stood trembling with
rage and nervousness in the middle of a hostile throng at the foot
of the stairs, demanding the surrender of the papers.... Nothing like
this, I imagine, ever occurred in history. On one side a handful of
workmen and common soldiers, with arms in their hands, representing
a victorious insurrection-and perfectly miserable; on the other a
frantic mob made up of the kind of people that crowd the sidewalks
of Fifth Avenue at noon-time, sneering, abusing, shouting,
"Traitors! Provocators! _Opritchniki!_ [*]"
[* Savage body-guards if Ian the Terrible, 17th century]
The doors were guarded by students and officers with white arm-bands
lettered in red, "Militia of the Committee of Public Safety," and
half a dozen boy-scouts came and went. Upstairs the place was all
commotion. Captain Gomberg was coming down the stairs. "They're
going to dissolve the Duma," he said. "The Bolshevik Commissar is
with the Mayor now." As we reached the top Riazanov came hurrying
out. He had been to demand that the Duma recognise the Council of
peoples' Commissars, and the Mayor had given him a flat refusal.
In the offices a great babbling crowd, hurrying, shouting,
gesticulating-Government officials, intellectuals, journalists,
foreign correspondents, French and British officers.... "The City
Engineer pointed to them triumphantly. "The Embassies recognise the
Duma as the only power now," he explained. "For these Bolshevik
murderers and robbers it is only a question of hours. All Russia is
rallying to us....
In the Alexander Hall a monster meeting of the Committee for
Salvation. Fillipovsky in the chair and Skobeliev again in the
tribune, reporting, to immense applause, new adhesions to the
Committee; Executive Committee of Peasants' Soviets, old
_Tsay-ee-kah,_ Central Army Committee, _Tsentroflot,_ Menshevik,
Socialist Revolutionary and Front group delegates from the Congress
of Soviets, Central Committees of the Menshevik, Socialist
Revolutionary, Populist Socialist parties. "Yedinstvo" group,
Peasants' Union, Cooperatives, Zemstvos, Municipalities, Post and
Telegraph Unions, _Vikzhel,_ Council of the Russian Republic, Union
of Unions, [*] Merchants' and Manufacturers' Association....